A Season of Solitude

I’ve been in a season of solimetude. Which, if you have known me for any amount of time prior to three years ago, you know this is beyond odd for me. I have a reputation for being social.  For being the host.  For being the consummate extrovert. Energized by the masses. Thriving amid clatter, chatter and chaos.

flowers

peaceful things at home

About four years ago things began to change. Mom was diagnosed with breast and then bone cancer. My life became consumed with trying to help meet her needs and get in as much quality time with her as I could. We moved her to Kentucky to be closer to us.  I organized a surprise Christmas gathering – flying in my sister and nieces without her knowing – assuming (accurately) that it would be her last Christmas with us.  Much of my time off was spent making the eight-hour round trip drive to Lexington and doing what I could to encourage her health and healing… which she was determined to sabotage.  I was still traveling full time with World Vision/Women of Faith and things were incredibly hectic and I literally felt myself stumbling through life. Please don’t read any of that as selfless or saintly. I have to be honest and tell you that there was a lot of resentment lining the contents of my heart during that season.

This all was coming at a time when I was trying to get off the road. As much as I loved my job at World Vision and the community /friends I found at Women of Faith… I was done. Tired. Exhausted. Stick-a-fork-in-me-done. I had been voraciously job searching – looking for a place I could be just as passionate about – and a place that I could drive to and not have to fly to get there. I wanted to be home, desperately.

Then thankfully, I found Siloam.  I attempted  to transition off the road… still having to work some Women of Faith dates on weekends while starting my new “land” job (as friends called it). I started Siloam in December of 2010 (the year of mom’s last Christmas with us) but continued on with my weekend traveling schedule through the Spring of 2011. I was pulling roughly 75 hour work weeks (not including travel). All the while trying to stay connected with mom and her needs. I don’t think that makes my resentments justified but perhaps understandable. My free time was valuable… and I wanted it all to myself.  Then summer came and I thought there would be a reprieve.  But mom’s health took a downward turn and we found out her cancer had progressed to stage four when she fell and broke her hip.

mom and I

Mom and me

It was a crazy whirlwind of events… I was up for a promotion at Siloam and World Vision called to ask if I could do 10 more dates through Fall to help them out of a jam. And my mom was getting worse – and we were looking at moving her to hospice in Virginia to be near my sister. I was making trips whenever I could to clean out her apartment and visit. The day her best friend in Kentucky was putting her in a car to take her to Virginia… was also the day I was interviewing for the promotion at work. In between interviews, I was answering calls like crazy. Mom had fallen in a roadside bathroom and was being rushed to a local emergency room somewhere between Lexington and Richmond. She was incoherent and couldn’t sign release papers so I was giving verbal and faxed permission every 30 minutes when some new issue came up. Finally she was back on the road and headed east.  It was madness.

So I was hording my down-time like a pack rat getting ready for winter. I was no longer hosting parties or my famous porch nights.  I stopped attending church and declined invites to pretty much all social gatherings. I just didn’t have it in me to politely give updates on mom, my job, anything really. I just wanted to sit on my couch, enjoy a glass of wine and take in my surroundings – my home –  the place I longed to be for the last seven years of full-time traveling.  I was finally here.

Mom passed away September 15, 2011. Five days after she arrived in Virginia.

Honestly? I was relieved for her. She was in so much pain. To the point of delirium most days.  I took some time off of work (both jobs) to mourn… and honestly, I foolishly thought the recovery time would be quicker. Not to sound callus but we had been preparing for this for awhile. And part of me thought that I would just dive right back into building and fostering community among those I’d been ignoring for so long. Part of me felt ready to engage again. But apparently it was a smaller part of me than the part that wanted to stay on the couch, nurse a glass of red along with my wounds… and recoil.

Louie

My time on the road finally ended. I allowed myself a lot of “me” time. It felt awkward. A bit like I was on a first date. Getting to know myself again without all the distractions and busy-ness was a little daunting. Being alone with myself was both frightening and exhilarating.

I took a week off at Christmas and went to Virginia. We did a family-only memorial for mom on Christmas Day. The closure we all needed.  When I got back to Nashville I tried to start the “re-entry process” into community. But it didn’t work. I reserved all my energy for work and then would collapse on weekends and evenings. It quickly became evident that I needed more time.

I have a bad habit of going the all-or-nothing route… go big or go home as they say. Every time I would try to re-enter into my church community – I would sign up for this or that – thinking that would force commitment and dedication. All it did was force me to be creative with my excuses for cancelling. Yes, I probably owe an apology to many of you… as I may not have always been forthright in my reasons for backing out.  Yea – I said it.

I’m not 100% sure I’m 100% ready to give it my all out there again. Maybe I never will. I have come to enjoy my home and the little world I’ve created for myself. I have Louie, an 18lb beast of a cat that I rescued and adore and he keeps me company and busy on Instagram. There are many weekend mornings that I find myself curled up in the corner of my comfy couch as I hug my tea… look around my house and let out a deep sigh of contentment.

Home… I’m actually home.

 

 

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Bittersweet…

Change is never easy… and often bittersweet. And often it’s accompanied by having to say goodbye – sometimes to dreams… sometimes to places… and sometimes to people. And sometimes to all three.

Many of you know, that I’ve been working with World Vision for more than 14 years now. If you know me, you know how passionate I am about the work of World Vision, and my experience has deepened immensely over the last 5-6 years while being a part of the amazing team of people at Women of Faith, and being a part of the rich ministry that happens on the road through Chonda Pierce and her crew.

I’ve had the privilege of personally taking part in of over 80,000 World Vision children being sponsored through the tours I’ve been on the last decade or so. That, in and of itself, has been an incredible gift. Not to mention all the rich relationships that have been formed along the way. Thanks to folks like Twila Paris, Ron Kenoly, Avalon, Aaron-Jeffrey, Big Tent Revival, Newsboys, First Call, Cece Winans, Israel Houghton, Margaret Becker, Natalie Grant, Skillet, Martha Munizzi, Mark Lowry and countless independent artists. Oh the stories I could tell (don’t worry – I won’t – what happens on the bus dies with the bus).  All that said, I’ve never taken this gift for granted. There are some hefty sacrifices that come with this line of work… but there’s some pretty sweet perks, too.

However, for the last couple of years I’ve been feeling the weight of not being in “community” where I live. There’s something to be said for having people that walk with you every day. Something to be said for knowing… and for being known. And there’s something to be said when that’s missing in your life.

So, two years ago I started trying to find something full time, off the road, with which I could be as earnest… but it seemed nothing short of futile. However, a few weeks ago, I began conversations with an organization called Siloam Family Health Center. It’s a local clinic here in Nashville (15 min from my home) that serves immigrants and refugees from around the world. They believe in providing quality health care in the name of Christ… to those who are uninsured and could not afford care otherwise. http://www.siloamhealth.org

They have offered me a full time position (w/benefits!) as their Development Writer & Coordinator. My role is to write all content for the organization including web, print, media, donor correspondence and grants. They have also asked me to focus on donor engagement – an area that’s needed more attention.

I’ve gratefully accepted the position.  As a communications & journalism major, I’m thrilled to be “officially” using these skills. And simultaneously saddened to let go of something I’ve cherished for so long. Bittersweet indeed.

Yes, change is hard. But change, in this case, is very good. My soul is already being nourished at Siloam as I’m finding myself smack dab in the midst of my given-by-God abilities and brushing off skills that had become a little rusty. But as they say, it’s like riding a bike. Balancing creativity and business, along with honing my marketing motor skills… is all quickly returning.

I realize there are changes that are not welcome…  a loved one is no longer in your life; you lose a job you love with no immediate prospect; “the change” of life for women 🙂 ; or suddenly being struck with a debilitating disease… the list is literally endless. So please, please do not hear me say that all change is good. I know that many of you are fighting it with all you’ve got. I merely want to encourage those who may be fearing a change that could be life-altering in a great way… to just take the leap. Because the good news is… there’s a God who never changes. Who never wavers. Whose goodness and justice is constant. So even when this world throws us a curve ball we didn’t see comin’… we can rest assured. We are in good hands.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

World Vision blogging trip in the Dominican Republic

Nashville is facing a major crisis at the moment and we’re still trying to bail ourselves out of the largest non-hurricane related flood disaster this country has ever seen.  It’s now being hailed  The 1000 Year Flood – meaning it’s only likely to happen once every 1000 years. It’s mind-boggling and tragic. Many have lost their lives, their loved ones, their homes, their jobs, their stuff. However, I decided not to dedicate and entire blog to this situation – there are so many people already doing that. If you want to read more – here is an excellent tribute to what we Nashvillians have been facing.

What’s difficult to remember during a time like this is that the rest of the world continues to spin… and in many places it’s still spinning our of control. And it has been for years. For most Third World countries, the severity of our Nashville disaster is a regular occurrence. They are in crisis-mode every single day. We panic because we have to cut our water usage in half while places the Dominican Republic have to worry whether or not their drinking water is going to kill them or not. That’s not a slam to what we’re going through here… just an observation and a bit of perspective.

I, by no means, am trying to reduce the perception of what’s happening here in Music City… I just want to encourage people (especially those of us in middle Tennessee) to not forget that the majority of the world suffers daily. I want to take this moment and in some small way… try to relate. I want to remember that we are all brothers and sisters and are children of God. We are all made in His image and created to worship our great Creator. And we all deserve a chance to do just that…

All that said, there is a group of regular bloggers that, as we speak, are in the Dominican Republic with World Vision. They’re visiting some of the sites where we work, and are seeing firsthand the depth of the need that this beautiful country has faced for years. And it’s gotten worse ever since the Haiti earthquake… as they’re now inundated with Haitian refugees.

Below is the list of bloggers on this trip. Read their words… following their journey. And join them as they pray for their hearts to be broken by the things that break the heart of God.

ohamanda.com
jesusneedsnewpr.net
themomcreative.com
thediaperdiaries.net
mommysnacks.net
bargainbriana.com