when I come home

When I moved to Chicago in August I took everything that I owned with me, meaning it left my room at my mom’s house up for grabs.  Being the second biggest room in the house, it was a desired commodity.  And it was snatched up by my lovely little 5 (and a half) year old niece.  She relinquished the bed at least for this two week stint of my being home, however, the room is filled with her toys and movies and such.  So while, it’s all the same furniture and the same general make-up of my former room.  It is not my room.
Plus, I left a few very important items in Chicago.  This all ends up with me feeling far away from home, even though I’m technically at home.  It feels different.  My routine is broken and I suddenly feel like a visitor.  Like I’m on vacation… in the house that has been mine since I was about 16.  It’s an odd feeling, knowing that so much has changed and yet stayed the same.
But, as vacations go, this one has been pretty spectacular.
First of all, my nieces are growing up so fast.  Here are some of my favorite pics of them:

This is Benny.  5 1/2 years old and full of spunk.  This picture is from Christmas Eve dinner at Chili’s.  She’s such a precious little girl and I love being her Tia.  She’s one of a kind.  A real pistol.
And Bizzy.  4 months old today.  Another precious little girl.  She’s got me wrapped around her little finger.  I will enjoy spoiling her for many many years to come.  But don’t be fooled by that smile, this girl can scream.  And that is no fun for anyone.
Another great highlight of being home is getting to go to the Broncos game with my brother:
The pic is blurry but there we are in all our game-going glory.  Or shall I say him in his game going glory and me in my normalness.  I painted his face in the car, a memory I will never forget as he made jokes about wearing make-up and how I wasn’t doing it right.  But hey, at least the Broncos won right?
Speaking of the Broncos, here’s a picture snapped during warm-ups of my fav Tim Tebow.  It was his second NFL start and he won the game with a great touchdown in the 4th quarter.  It was a riveting game and although it means little for them because they’ve done so poorly this season, it was still fun to be there to watch him.
(Yes I realize this picture is bigger than the others…but only cause the object to be focused on is so far away)
So there’s a little bit of what I’ve been up to.  Only thing missing is my beautiful goddaughter, with whom I’ve only snapped pictures with on my actual camera …so those photos have yet to be uploaded.  Those are for the next blog…
Until then I leave you with this silly picture, taken with Benny my first day home.  Enjoy!

and I will find you there and I will mend your heart

This title comes from the song “Mend Your Heart” by William Fitzsimmons.  It is one of the songs that I have added to my epicly amazing playlist on Grooveshark that is entitled “paper writing excellence.”  (See my facebook status for more info)
So I’m sitting in the library just now and I’m writing a paper on Matthew 6:9-15 which is more commonly known as The Lord’s Prayer.  Now this paper has been weeks in the making.  We wrote it in three parts, the first was just our interaction with the text.  We had to read it and reply with no other books used than our bibles.  The second stage was our research stage.  We were to use 5 commentaries and do a words study with a theological dictionary.  Finally we are on the third stage where we put together our thoughts and the thoughts of the scholars in order to write a comprehensive paper which we will be able to look back on if we ever need to preach on this topic.
So here I sit on the third floor of my beloved library (or cursed library, either way) typing away and sipping coffee when this line of this song slips through my thoughts and screams, “LISTEN TO ME.”  So I pause, rewind the song and listen a little more intently to see what the song has for me.  The song itself is about a girl and it’s a sad song (shockingly enough, a sad song by William Fitszsimmons – that’s sarcasm by the way, if you are unfamiliar with his library, it’s pretty much all depressingly sad.)  The song isn’t necessarily applicable to every day life unless you are in a weird twisted relationship.
But there are a couple of lines in it that I found most intriguing.  But mostly this line from the chorus, or should I say this line that IS the chorus.  These two meager sentences repeated over and over make up the very simple chorus.
Before I go on to say the significance, let me share one more thing and then we’ll put it together.  In my Theology and Film class this week we were talking about happiness and joy and the difference between the two.  My professor was talking about the advent season.  He pointed out that sometimes we are rejoicing vicariously for other people in our lives that are not in a place to rejoice.  And sometimes we are rejoicing out of sheer obedience rather than actually feeling it, and that’s okay.
It hit me like a ton of bricks.  I realized that last year I was going through the motions of Christmas, obviously it was a bitter sweet moment of unbearable pain of losing my dad and the joy of the birth of my Savior.  I love Christmas, we all know this.  But last season I was going through the motions and looking back on it I realized how guilty I felt for doing it so half-heartedly.  But that’s okay.  It’s okay because in those places of immense pain, God finds us and mends our hearts.
Last weekend was the one year anniversary of losing my dad, and as awful as the weekend was, it gave me the chance to tangibly look at the places where God has entered into my life and begun mending.  He has blessed me in ways I never thought possible, he has provided a place for me, far away from home and the familiar to let my guard down and be me.  And to be loved for who I am.
The thing is, I know that I never fully asked God to come in and mend my heart, he found me here.  He is a faithful God and knew what I needed when all I could do was sit at his feet with no words.  No clue what my heart needed and what I needed from him.  I did nothing extraordinary, no clear seeking out answers for my pain, I just prayed for God to be real in this place.  And he is.  He found me, in this place and he began the work in me until I was ready to join in the effort.
un-believable.  and yet so real I can’t help but believe.

won't you let me match your stride?

About a week and a half ago I went with my friend to get our nails done.  Whenever I go to nail salon’s it’s usually with large groups of girls and almost always in the summer and only for pedicures.  However, my friend knew a place with a cheap mani-pedi deal so alas, I found myself getting both a pedicure and a manicure.
Now here’s something you should know about me… I cannot remember the last time I got a manicure.  Although I’m pretty sure it was when I lived in New Jersey meaning it was circa 1998.  Furthermore I never paint my fingernails…ever.  I don’t like the fact that it chips so easily and I think it’s pretty much a waste of time.  But she talked me into it and so I went through with it.
I picked out a nice deep purple and sat to be pampered.  I got done faster than my friend so I had some time to let my nails dry completely before having to drive us back to campus.  This ended up being an extremely good thing considering I realized that I am not used to suddenly not being able to use my fingers fully.  The thing with nail polish is that it dries relatively fast but then needs to sit for a while before it’s hardened (I think that’s the right terminology).
I kept hitting my fingers on things and then immediately pulling my hand to my face to survey the damage.  My friend was getting pretty sick of me and finally said, “Leesh!  You have to learn to be careful for a little while.  You can’t fully use your hands yet!”
I suddenly had flash backs to my mom getting her nails done and then making me do things like look for her wallet, her keys, open the car door.  Basically to me, my mom getting a manicure was equal to my becoming her servant for an afternoon.  I stared down at my nails (one of which I had chipped getting into the car) and realized I was not this girl.  I’m not the girl that gets her nails done and then is unable to care for herself all afternoon.  I hate having the though, “what if it messed up my nails?”
Now I realize that that’s a hugely over dramatic statement.  I know getting one manicure doesn’t make me that girl.  But more and more being here, both in seminary and in this stage of life, that I am the girl that gets her hands dirty and can do anything for herself.  I do not let myself be cared for.  I try so hard to care for others well and I want so badly to help others but when I need to be cared for I just withdraw into myself and push others away.
For the past week and a half I’ve been trying to let people in, I’ve been trying to allow people to see me broken.  I’ve been trying to let people care for me, realizing that they are imperfect the way I am imperfect.  But being part of a community is allowing people to help you up when you feel like you cannot go on.
And I figured this all out after getting a manicure for the first time in 12 years.  I just love the way God shows up in the little places.