Posts Tagged ‘Adventure’

You know that feeling when you finally see the ones you love…that’s what I was feeling here. =) Reuniting with the whole family is always the sweetest thing.

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We set out to catch up on things we missed and had the most lovely Christmas and celebration of Luka’s birthday.

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If you didn’t know it before, you should now know, that I have the coolest brother in the world!

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A couple days after “Christmas” we headed off to Oman to have a new adventure together, and we were wowed by everything we saw. The land, the people, the mosques and forts…

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Wandering and exploring the wadis was probably all of our favorite activity. Climbing, swimming, adventuring…

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We got to visit this gorgeous Grand Mosque

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And though you can’t see it, we are standing on the second largest carpet in the world.

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Wandering around this old fort was an incredible adventure too!

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Even our downtime was spent taking over the world…

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To the ones who taught me to adventure,

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And the ones who have never let me adventure alone.

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It was an incredible trip and I can’t wait for the next one!

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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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Decided to share some pictures with anyone who’s interested in my latest adventure. After driving eight hours (six of which were in the rain) to get to Michigan, #JoyfulWheels and I made it!

And this cute ninja was there waiting!

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I got to see college friends, go to a favorite local restaurant, and get new (to me) clothes from a friend’s garage sale.

I got to see all of my grandparents as well as multiple aunts and uncles (even the set from Colorado)!

But mostly I just enjoyed spending time with these favorites of mine.

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Helena and I practiced walking…but we both struggle

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We got Luka all packed up for his week at camp!

Grandma, me, and JoyfulWheels were all being gimpy together. But dad fixed one outta 3…not bad.

We enjoyed a picnic in the park with old family friends.

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Found old pictures =) and hung out with the cousins…cousin time is still just as chaotic, and just as fun!

Also met new friends, and saw other old friends that I forgot to get pictures with. All in all it was a fabulous weekend full of love and joy and I’d gladly drive 16 hours to do it again!

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

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Last week in the jail I went onto the block for lunch like normal and I sat down at a table with a woman who was 75. When I introduced myself to this tiny but beautiful white haired woman she nodded and responded with her name but quickly added that everyone calls her “granny”. I wanted to cry. I thought about my Grandparents sleeping on the cots in there that are not comfortable. I thought about how although I wouldn’t get to be with my Grandparents over the holidays I was glad it was for different reasons than this woman’s grandkids. I thought about how confusing the system is when you go in and how hard that must be to figure out at that age. I thought about how little respect inmates get, and how after living a full life as an adult being treated more like a child must feel beyond frustrating.  I watched her choose which food she would eat because she knew she couldn’t get through an apple and a sandwich in the allotted time to eat lunch.

I don’t know what she did. I don’t know why she was there. I don’t know when she will be out. But I know that she was sweet. I know that it is hard in jail. And I know that coming out is often like facing culture shock no matter how long you’ve been in. I’m so excited for the mentoring program being launched now so that people like Granny can have someone on their team to call or meet up with when they get out. If you are interested we are looking for more male and female mentors. Check out the website at buildinghope.squarespace.com and follow up with me if you have any questions or just apply today!

My life is good.
So intertwined.
I am at home.
The other day I bumped into a friend at a store where the people working knew me by name and asked about my ministry. The friend I bumped into was one of my hoarding friends who I help clean for and used to throw community dinners for (my co.worker is in charge of that now). It was fun running into her there. I then went to my pastor’s house where I sat for an hour or two and just got to talk and relax because Lynn, my mentor, was cooking her famous cinnamon rolls, from there I went home and had a conversation with some of my college student housemates about some of our local homeless friends new accomplishments in getting housing, friends who they’ve met through volunteering at Calvary during our time to host the temporary homeless shelter called Out of the Cold. I went out with a coworker to hear one of my musician friends play and he came over to talk about a concert he had played earlier that week…in the jail. I got him connected and he’s been in twice so far and is planning a third visit. Next another friend finished work (cooking in the back of the restaurant) and came to chat with me and Kendra. This friend used to be homeless and isn’t anymore. He is doing really well. I also texted on and off with a friend who is working hard to overcome his heroin addiction. And the next day I got lunch with a friend who I met in jail and has since been released. It was the first time after many months of friendship that I got to give her a hug. It was the first time I met her daughter. I was so honored! I have so many incredible people in my life. I am so lucky. So blessed. So grateful to be given each of these friends, coworkers, acquaintances…God is so good. After a short time with my family I was welcomed back with so many wonderful smiles, hugs, and such love. Life is good.

Some days just don’t go to plan. That’s good for me, because half the time it seems I lose my planner. (I swear I get more scatter brained as each day goes by!) Today was one of those days where I forgot my planner at home, but it didn’t really matter, because in my job the unexpected doesn’t fit itself into the plan. It calls you to it and makes you think on your feet.

photo-15I don’t remember if I blogged about the time I broke into someone’s house with the police because I was worried she had passed away, only to find out she was napping, but that happened a while back. So knowing I can be over zealous, today’s adventure was different. I was worried again, about the same friend. But I did better research this time and we found out that someone had seen an ambulance at her place. I called the hospital, and explained how I wasn’t family, but that it didn’t matter, because there isn’t local family, so I should count and I got the info I needed.

I went and found her in the ER and sat with her. I’m sure the nurses thought I was crazy cause I just started talking. She was pretty unresponsive…like completely. I tried to shake her awake to visit with me, but gave up and just talked, I pulled up the gospel of John on my phone and read to her. A tech came in and worked hard to try to get some blood, which did finally wake her and she noticed I was there. Though she couldn’t come up with any words while she fought for air through the oxygen machine, her eyes smiled at my corny jokes and random stories. We sat, held hands, and I talked. It wasn’t what I had planned for my day, but I wouldn’t trade it. I know the feeling of having no family around. And I am so thankful for the wonderful friends who have been there for me in times of need again and again. I love that I get to be there for others and call it my job. Thanks for being on the team, and please pray for healing for my friend in this difficult time.

I tried to move yesterday. It was pretty successful. I packed all my stuff up, put it into a couple of friends cars, drove it to my new house, carried it up to the third floor, unpacked it and set it all up. Then I went out to get dinner and stopped back at my “old” house to see how the fam’s packing was going and I didn’t want to leave. But I had to…I had just brought all my things over to my “new” house. So they came with me to gather some clothes and my work bag and bring them back home to sleep on the couch cushions on the floor since my bed got packed up to go to Taiwan yesterday (lucky for me the person buying the couch hasn’t gotten it yet). This morning started with lots of tears as we talked about how real it all felt before I ran out the door for work…looking a bit disheveled but making it just on time. Some of the things I can’t get out of my mind include:

  • Conversations early in the morning, middle of the day, and late at night about whatever is going on in our lives.
  • Tripping over toys left on my floor.
  • Being honest and vulnerable…it’s not easy with just anyone. It takes a lot of work and we’ve gotten to that point.
  • Getting dandelions everyday…and always having it be a “surprise”.
  • Going for drives, or brunch or dinner for family adventures.
  • My hand soap being moved to the back of my toilet where it was easier for sweet littles to reach it.
  • Going for walks at 11:50pm because we made a bet to exercise that day and forgot to.
  • Sweet littles tiptoeing down the stairs to see if I was awake in the mornings and climbing into my bed to tell me stories or yelling back up the stairs to report if I was still asleep.
  • Comparing good books.
  • Choosing favorite fairies.
  • Anna initiating spelling out sentences back and forth so Lucy wouldn’t know what we said. ( “I space t-h-i-n-k space t-h-a-t space s-h-e space w-a-n-t-s space t-h-a-t” … “m-e space t-o-o” with a smile and a wink in the rearview mirror.)
  • Regularly coming home to a dinner of delicious food (specifically pork and green beans).
  • Dressing up for tea parties on a regular basis.

It’s not easy to take someone into your life. It’s even harder to share your family. Having a chance to share life with an extra family has been one of the best parts of my life. I’ve always wanted a family of my own, but I feel so much more equipped to know how to love them and raise kids having been “a Shelby” in this home (I’m with the girls on this one and can’t figure out how to describe our relationship – not a nanny, not a sister, just a friend who’s part of the family, I guess). So the best is the worst when you have to say goodbye. I’m good at goodbyes. I say them to my family all the time. I mean, come on, we live on 3 different continents. I always hope it will get easier, but it doesn’t. The best friends are the worst to say goodbye to. It’s just a fact. But I always think of Winnie-the-Pooh’s wisdom when he said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

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.

Do you ever try to think back to a time before you knew?

It’s easier to not know.

It’s easier to not care.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to not knowing and so not really having to care.

But it’s too late.

I know.

I know names.

Names of people who right now are sleeping…or maybe pacing outside without a place to stay tonight.

I know.

I know names.

Names of people who are using drugs…wishing they weren’t, but not believing they are strong enough to stop.

I know.

I know names.

Names of my friends.

Friends who think this life is all there is.

Friends who think that if this is all there is maybe it isn’t worth it after all.

Friends who think that somehow they can stop it all from hurting, not working, or crashing in on them again.

I know.

I know The Name.

I know Jesus.

The only One who can fix it all.

He saves.

Redeems.

Pursues.

He fights for us.

He helps us overcome.

He knew the bad things I would do.

He knew the bad things my friends would do.

He knew all of those things before He chose to die in order to save us.

He knows.

He knows the end of the story.

I know I can trust Him.

I know that He is the hope my friends are looking for.

It’s worth it to know after all…so if you know, tell someone else.

They are worth it.

God created them.

He knows them, and wants them to know Him too.

And if you don’t know that…lets chat!