Posts Tagged ‘Adventure Today’

Today was beautiful.

There are so many reasons why. I’ll probably blog about lots of them individually, but I’ll give you the quick list now:

  • IMG_5883It started strong when soon after I woke up my phone reminded me to have a good attitude since I knew I’d need a reminder after getting very little sleep.
  • I got to talk to my Mama in Tanzania for a minute.
  • My phone didn’t break even though I dropped it down a flight of stairs and it bounced on every step.
  • We got to feed 50+ artists breakfast and they were so very happy about it.
  • I heard stories from people who live all over the nation.
  • We got to hand out hundreds of free water bottles to strangers on a hot day.
  • Several friends came to visit me and hang out.
  • My kitchen and bathroom are both clean.

I could go on…there are so many reasons today was beautiful! But the one that stood out above the rest was getting a small white flower from a sweet little girl. After we gave her a bottle of water, I complimented this (maybe 4 year old) little girl on a flower she was holding. She paused, looked at the flower, and then slowly raised it up to give it to me. From someone else, this might seem worthless, a frail flower they grabbed from the side of the road somewhere, but from this little girl, it was clear she gave me a treasure. And by doing so, she reminded me to be intentional about being aware of my perspective. Life is full of moments. I don’t always see the treasure in each one, but I want to. I hope your day was beautiful too.

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When I asked to go into the jail 2 years ago I had no idea what that would bring. I thought maybe I’d just teach a class and get to meet some people and whatnot. That’d be cool. I didn’t know I’d become a chaplain, the “party planner”, and the random girl in “street clothes” that eats lunch on the block every Thursday.

I didn’t know that I would start running the Angel Tree program at Calvary to provide Christmas presents to local kids with incarcerated parents. I didn’t know I’d get to bring in a small library to share with everyone. Or that I’d raise a couple thousand dollars and lead a church wide candy bar drive to be able to give presents for each inmate in our local jail for two years now. I didn’t know people on the outside would tell me stories of impact from their loved ones on the inside who received our gifts.

I didn’t know I’d decorate cards with men and woman who would send them to their kids, parents, lovers, and friends around the holidays hoping to not be forgotten. I didn’t know I’d listen and pray with women who signed their kids over for adoption. I didn’t know I’d recruit others to go in and lead events and classes. I didn’t know I’d hear about so much death and the many lost loved ones in these people’s lives. I didn’t know I’d launch a community mentoring program to help people adjust back into life after jail.

I didn’t know I’d become a penpal with someone on the inside. I didn’t know I’d make real friends who have left that place and now I get to see in street clothes sometimes. I definitely didn’t know or even hope that I’d get put in touch with people who live 4 hours away because their son is in our jail and they need help knowing what to do and who to contact. I never expected to hug a random stranger who cried on my shoulder as she thanked me for caring about her son and acknowledging that this was hard and embarrassing, but it didn’t define her. I knew God called me to go into that jail, but there was so much I didn’t know. I keep dreaming of more, but there is still so much I still don’t know. That’s just one reason I keep following after Jesus as He leads me into more and more incredible adventures beyond my wildest dreams.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Dream-Big

“Sometimes when it gets real bad I curl up on my bed, hide under my covers, suck my thumb and sing Jesus loves me. It’s all I can do,” said one of the 30+ year old woman I meet with every Thursday in jail.

Anxiety sucks. post it
Jail sucks.
Addiction sucks.
Mental disabilities suck.
But Jesus loves.
And God is faithful.

As I read Psalm 91 again and again with the girls in jail today verse 15 kept jumping off the page at me. “He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble…” God doesn’t promise that we won’t have trouble, but He does promise that He will be with us, even in our trouble. And he will deliver us and redeem us.  This is a fact we can cling to. This is truth. God is bigger than our feelings, greater than our problems and stronger than our fears.

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Yes, Jesus loves me….yes, Jesus loves you too.

Last week Hearts for Homeless put on a spaghetti dinner fundraiser, and I was helping out with it. I went shopping for some of the food on “adventure night” (aka babysitting night) when I had my sweet littles with me. The girls were champs as we went to store after store gathering different items that had been donated, and trying to do the math of how many boxes of pasta it would take to feed the unknown amount of people who would be coming… (we didn’t get enough – hooray for an awesome turn out!)

Anna was especially excited when I told her we would be shopping for pasta, it’s a photo-47favorite of hers. But then I followed it up with the fact that it wasn’t for us. I explained that it was for a fundraiser for my friends without houses. One thing I love about living with this family is that I get to see the world through little eyes. Though they are young, my sweet littles know there are people just like them who don’t have homes. They already know it’s a problem, and they know that it’s so much more than just a problem…these are people. They’ve met many of them, and anytime they hear about homelessness they come running over to tell me, because they assume it’s one of my friends.

But this day stood out to me because we weren’t talking about homelessness. We were shopping and having a grand adventure and out of the blue Anna said quietly, “Shelby, will you tell me the next time you need money for your friends without houses, because I have some in my bank.” This is generosity at its finest.

photo-46I think as grownups we so often look at the whole problem and try to come up with an answer that solves every little piece which is a good thing…we want to solve every little piece…but it also takes the faith of a child to step up and say, I don’t have much, but there are coins in my piggy bank, and I believe that we can change the world with that. I believe I can help those around me with my little bit…her coins will never reach the homeless across the world, but they can have a big impact on a life here in State College, even if it’s just a cup of coffee. Her sweet heart reminds me of the little boy mentioned in the Bible in John 6:9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” …if you don’t know the story look it up, but here’s a spoiler…that lunch fed thousands! And it continues to have an impact on many lives to this day.

If you can’t offer much, give what you have. That could be time, money, a meal, a hug, a smile, a word of encouragement. There are people all around who can use the great things you have to share. Lets love like littles do and overcome our big world problems day by day,  one step at a time.

These past few days have been a whirlwind! I’ve been reminded of so many things! One being that there is so much power in words. Another, that God doesn’t change with our outcomes. A week or two ago my sister found a lump. It was scary, but the doctor said it was a pretty good chance it was just a cyst. So I decided not to worry. I prayed about it, put it from my mind, and waited like everyone else.

During that week, I was talking with a friend about trusting God. We were discussing how it is kind of an instant change when you meet God, but then still a daily process to trust Him. I told her how my family is my weakest part, but that I’ve chosen that I will trust God not matter what happens to them. I said this out loud the day before my sister called to tell me that the lump wasn’t a cyst. It was in fact a tumor.

I wept.

But there was still a chance it was ‘nothing’. It could be just a benign mass, they told us. Though trust in those same people who said it was probably a cyst and were wrong was hard to muster. So I wept. And as I wept I remembered what I had spoken out loud just the day before. I will trust God no matter what. It was such a sweet reminder. I knew that God wasn’t pushing the “smite button” on me just because I had promised to trust Him, but instead had led me to that conversation right when I needed to be reminded that God is enough. That He has a plan, and He is good…no matter my circumstances. And that He can do a far better job taking care of my family than I can.

Many people prayed with and for me and reminded me of truth, “Jesus knows, and loves you all,” “Keep resting in Jesus’ arms of security and hope”. Friends called to make sure I was ok, emailed and texted…their prayers were felt greatly.

I decided to drive to Michigan to wait with my sister for the results of her biopsy. It was possible they would come the next day, or maybe take several days. Either way, it was worth it to be with her, so I went. In my life group we have a tradition where any new person who comes gets to ask a question that we all answer. One of the questions this year was, “if you knew you had one year left to live, what would you do?”. What I noticed, was that there were very few people in our group, if any, who claimed they would be doing the very same things they are doing now. The majority of us said somehow we would be with our family during at least part of that time. That really made me evaluate my life. Is 16 hours of driving fun? No. Is being with family something I value. Yes. Then I go. I want to live a life that I value, and be there for my loved ones when they need me. I never want to look back on my life and say, “I really wish I would’ve given up normal or comfortable for what was valuable or right”. I want to live without regrets.

The trip turned out to be one of celebration when the doctors said it was not cancer. We celebrated life, but we also took time to mourn the fact, that not everyone who the doctors called that day were cancer free. Some people’s lives have been put on hold and plans changed because of terrible diseases or other things. But that doesn’t change who our God is. One friend responded to my news of no cancer with this, “The Lord is so kind”. He is. God is good, and kind, and sweet. He loves us, and whether we get the news we want or not, He will carry us through.

toddler-car-seatAny moms out there know how stressful it is to have a little one. Now picture this…three little ones.

A one year old,
a two year old,
and a four year old.

Hmm…that’s stressful. Now picture this, you’re in a new town, because where you used to live was an unsafe area and you didn’t want to raise your three precious little ones there. You don’t have anywhere to stay, and you have to be out of your hotel room by 11am. Also, you and the kids Daddy don’t have jobs yet…still stressful.

I think to a lot of us this sounds like a bad dream, but to the family of five that I met today, it’s reality. I love having a job where I can be the one to get a phone call saying, we have these kids here, and we know you have a carseat, wanna come help out? And to have the freedom to drop what I’m doing and lug some kids and their sweet parents to a hotel that Hearts for Homeless was able to get for them for the week while they try to figure out life. I’m blessed to have a friend who thought to make dinner for them and bring it to the hotel, so they could have a hot meal tonight. And to live with a family who have extra kid things and toys that we could share with this family.

When I picked up one of the sweet littles this morning and looked into her eyes, my heart broke. It kills me to think, that they, at such young ages, have known homelessness. I hate that this is the reality for so many. But it also breaks my heart to know that it isn’t just them. It breaks my heart that for some reason we can all agree that no matter what it isn’t ok for these sweet littles to be living on the streets, but we can’t always agree about that for bigs. It breaks my heart that I look into the eyes of adults who know the fear of wondering if and where they will sleep at night. Homelessness hurts. It’s not easy. It’s not fun. It’s scary, and lonely, and hard. But I know that while I cannot stop homelessness, I can still do my part. I can hug these sweet littles. I can encourage their Mama. I can chat with my friends at the shelter who, though they aren’t as small, are just as valuable. And I can share what it means to have hope. Not just hope to find a place to call their own…though that is wonderful. The hope of Jesus Christ. The God who knows what it is to be a child without a home…remember, he was born out with the animals? God cares and He loves us. He also has a plan even when things don’t seem to make sense. On days like today, I need that reminder too. Feel free to pray for this family, and the many others who are stuck in really tricky situations.

photo 1-10After spending the night in Detroit because of airport issues I had a full day to spend in the airport…here’s some of what went on… Also…I know you’re all about to be proud of me, because after the nice stranger offered me a ride last night I said no in an effort not to get taken. So I waited like 20 minutes in the freezing cold for the shuttle. (just thought you’d be proud of my wisdom) now back to the day…

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The Tunnel was a big part of my day. I wandered the tunnel. Took pictures of the tunnel. Watched people’s reactions as they entered the tunnel. I didn’t run through today…but I did last night.

photo 4-5 I had a picnic lunch on the floor in the middle of the tunnel (man do people stare…like what would they do if they were stuck all day…eat their lunch at a table or something?). And I rode through the entire tunnel only facing backwards on the moving walkway.     photo-37

I read articles about the Detroit airport and found all the spots where they took the pictures for the articles.

photo 4-4

Absorbed the sunrise while snoozing.

Talked to my grandma on the phone.

Read.

I watched some birds that were stuck in the airport…I found 4…in different places.

Pondered a psalm…what would you write in one? And I wonder if David’s journal was private or if he shared those thoughts with people when he was still alive?

I didn’t sleep on a random shoulder in the airport, but I did accomplish that one on the plane last night. photo 3-8

I slept on the floor. I was tucked behind this plant and post against the wall and I woke up to the airport security yelling that I was there to someone who I think only saw my bag from the other side and reported it as an abandoned bag. I kind of was jolted awake, but tried to pretend I was still asleep because I didn’t want to explain my situation to him half asleep. The other guy must not have heard his yelling very well though, because he re-yelled, “no, there is someone here with it sleeping”.

I also rode the escalators…

photo 5-7 photo 1-11

…lots of them.

Stared back…this is an art we learned in Tanzania…you don’t start the stare, but when people stare at you you just make eye contact and force them to look away first. It’s fun to see how long people last.

Picked out my favorite outfit…a bright pink sweater…looked super cozy.

Chatted it up with Ali this afternoon and promised to rate him 10 out of 10 after listening to his whole spiel…because I had time to kill and no one else would make eye contact with him.

photo 1-12photo 2-13photo 3-7Took my blood pressure, checked for color blindness, weighed myself and checked my BMI…discovered I’m in great health and can see all the colors.

Watched and rode the train.

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Enjoyed the view out the window.

Talked to my Mama

Watched a romantic reunion between travelers.

Facetimed Sara Hoy

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Ate lots of cookies from the wedding.

Completed a photo scavenger hunt…mostly!

#1 Polka dot bag
#2 A not crying baby
#3 Sweatpants with words on the butt…I couldn’t find any with words…
#4 A mug with Detroit on it
#5 A plant

photo 5-9photo 3-9photo 4-7photo 2-15photo 5-8       photo-2

Chatted the man traveling to Tennesee who almost fell on me getting off the moving walkway. We chatted about our different churches, beliefs, and how great our families were all in the time it took to walk him to his gate. Then said goodbye.

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Was in great company with the hundreds of other delays and cancellations.

Met up with a dear college friend, Heidi Marble, whom I hadn’t seen in a year and a half!

Started blogging about my day. photo 3-5

Made it to Casey and Steven’s house! I somehow managed to get a day with them and will face the storm again on Wednesday! Yay for flexible plans and traveling adventures! photo 2-16

We don’t know when we will get to the end of our lives. It’s like running a race with a hidden finish line. And the finish line is in a different place for everyone. This past weekend I’ve been thinking, when I cross the finish line will people rejoice for me? Will people be proud? Or will it be devastating? A “wasted life”? Without being morbid or making people afraid that I’m suicidal, can I tell you what I dream of? May I share some of the dreams I have for when I’m gone?

This weekend my pastor asked us how we would describe our lives in 6 words. I’m wordy. This was hard. But it got me thinking. I believe that when I die my life will be fully lived. If I died today I would consider my life fully lived. I wouldn’t think I missed out. I would wish I could say with my six words, “I made it to the end,” or “the end is just the beginning”. It’s not that I don’t have huge dreams that will take decades to complete (I’d love to marry a wonderful man, raise beautiful children, travel much more of the world, etc), but the real dream of my heart is to follow God. The rest is extra. So if I follow God today and die, then I’ve completed my dreams and goals. My life will have been complete. Not lacking anything. I would hope when I die these six words are true of my life: “She obeyed God’s call to love”. They are words that bring a challenge everyday. They push me to live better, love more, seek out the hurting, forgive those who hurt me. Yesterday I was reading Francis Chan’s ‘Multiply’ and in talking about the disciples he says, “What began as simple obedience to the call of Jesus ended up changing their lives, and ultimately, the world”. I want to be so willing to obey that even if it’s life changing or world changing…which is scary…I will keep obeying. As of today, I’m not sure what six words would describe my life. How would you describe me in six words? Or make it personal, how would you describe your own life in six words? “Adventurous traveler, compassionate friend, so loved” might be me in six.

A Christmas card.

A letter.

Something from the family.

It sounds so happy, but for one of my friends this year…it wasn’t.

See she got a card from her family, yes.

Have you ever gotten scribbles in a card?

Sometimes they are happy and full of love.

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Sometimes they are not.

This one was not.

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This one had the faces of her family scribbled out.

It had words written to remind her of the pain she caused them.

It told her to look at the picture without faces and every time she did to remember their hurt.

My friend is in jail.

She did cause pain to her family.

But that doesn’t make retaliation ok.

Will you pray for my friend?

She loves her family.

She has two young children and she is not sure where they will end up.

She is hopeful to finish her high school education while she’s in jail.

This Christmas wasn’t an easy one for her.

But the jail did let me give out Bible studies for presents.

So she did get one present.

I have hope that by doing the study and reading God’s word she will find His peace in spite of her circumstances.

And I hope for the rest of you, that you stop and take a moment.

Think of someone who hurt you.

Choose to forgive them.

Instead of retaliating.

Love them. Jesus loves you even though you’ve hurt Him. Let’s be the change we want to see.

This past weekend I had a little down time. Now, if you know me, you know that’s not too common. Partially, because I don’t love having too much down time, and partially because it’s hard to come by when you are an over committer. But this past weekend I had nothing planned between a Saturday morning meeting that e10432488_781637226574_7217446674140330653_nnded at 10am and dinner before church that started at 5pm. Nothing planned at all. Mind you, I had plans for that time, but I could be flexible, because there was nothing written in the planner. I hadn’t committed to meeting anyone. Or being anywhere. It felt so free. So I did what had to be done…organized a bit in my room and started on the homework. I even went to the library to focus on it for a while. I stayed mostly focused, though stopped to chat with my homeless friends when they walked by to use the computers a few times. I was ready to spend the afternoon there focusing, but I knew the family was at home, and I hadn’t been around much this week, so I decided that while homework needed to be done, reading it right then didn’t have the lasting value that I might be able to have on an adventure with the girls, or even just spending time with the fam. So I went home. The thought process was, I’ll just work on homework from home and at least be around and chat while I do it. And if an adventure comes up I’ll put the books away…(it was cold and rainy, so I was pretty doubtful anything too adventurous would happen). But no sooner did I open those books at home then Lucy came waltzing over to see if we could make cupcakes. Let me tell you, homework was over for the day! Anna helped us decide on vanilla with raspberry frosting and we all measured and mixed, poured and licked and then waited for them to bake so we could end the adventure with a family tea party. I love my family. And I’m so thankful for the joyful reminder that sometimes even good things need to be put on the back burner for a while so that we can focus on other important and valuable things in the moment!