He Will Deliver…

As I’ve been praying to God for Him to lead me to where he wants to use me next… He’s provided an answer to my prayers! I’ve been feeling compelled to travel and explore foreign places and cultures for as long as I can remember. Already, I’ve been blessed to visit so many wonderful places and encounter so many people, cultures and experiences. I’ve grown from each one of them. But, the more I travel the more I feel called to include more in those travels. For the past several years I’ve felt called to serve through travel. I’ve explored various options such as the military, the Peace Corps and others. I’m still strongly considering them… but, God has opened up another opportunity that I’m very excited about! My previous youth group leader has invited me to join her and her ministry in a mission trip to Tijuana the last week of July. We will be visiting a very poor community, offering whatever help we can and we will be sharing the truths about God and Christ. I think this trip will be particularly interesting in light of the growing controversy over immigration from Mexico to the U.S. It’ll be interesting to hear the stories of those struggling just across our border.

An added bonus is I’ll be working with my former youth leader to film our trip. I’m very excited about this! One of my biggest goals is to film a documentary and this trip will most certainly let me try my hand at documentary filming. I’m not looking for anything spectacular… just the chance to get my feet wet and see what I might come up with.

This opportunity is an absolute answer to my prayers… and as I said before…. I am eager to be God’s faithful servant! I’ll be compiling information on Tijuana as I find it.

Less than 20 miles south of downtown San Diego lies the world’s busiest port of entry –
the international border crossing between San Ysidro, CA and Tijuana, Mexico.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-02-05-border-crime_x.htm

Hope and Dreams

Earlier today I spoke with a person whom I care for deeply… that person needed a friend… because he was struggling and was a little disheartened at the prospect of losing a dream that, lately, had seemed to have been within reach. He wrote to me and thanked me afterwards for listening to him… and then I just felt compelled to urge him not to lose hope. And some of what I wrote struck me as a good reminder for anyone to have:

“It might seem wise, not to get your hopes up. But, I actually think that’s discouraging advice. What’s life without hope? What’s faith without hope?… I’m praying for you, and I pray you NEVER quit dreaming. Dreams are what make us strive for the great things God wants to give us. Never quit.”

Really, what I wrote is just echoing what I’ve been reading in “The Sacred Romance.” That book is teaching me a new way to think. And I think it’s helping.

Sweet Nostalgia…

I’ve been catching up a little bit with some old friends in Italia… and I can’t begin to explain how much I miss them. My last few days in Italia before I left for Greece were hectic and all the back-to-back traveling sent me riding on a whirlwind. I never ended up writing about the second half of my adventure. I’m a bit disappointed… because now I’ve lost all those details that would make the experience come alive… but I’m going to try and recount what I can remember.

After I decided I was coming home… I got busy scheduling my last few jaunts before heading home. I arranged to stay with Davide’s parents in Parma before I left for Greece… but I also squeezed in a weekend trip to Bergamo, the city that I first came to know as “home” in Italia… what, three years ago now?

I had kept in contact with Diego the two years between my visits. I met him on my first trip when I was living with Giovanna Bonicelli during my one-month study abroad program. We met at an Irish pub… I was out with my American girls… and, I admit, yes, we were out perusing for Italian men! I’ll go ahead and touch on this trip first… then move on to what I began writing about.

The American girls and I, there were four of us… well, one girl was actually English… we met Diego, Marco, Alex, Roby and Giorgio at an Irish pub in the center of town, not far from the train station. It was Alex who first made his move… he’s the biggest trouble-maker of the bunch. I’ll admit, we were all disillusioned young college girls swooning over these young Italian men. It’s amusing to think about… Of course a couple of the guys spoke English really well… which was necessary. We certainly couldn’t speak Italian yet. We spent a wonderful evening with the boys and ended up wandering the 5 or so miles home at about 2 in the morning in a foreign Italian city we were still getting to know. The adventure had begun.

The next night my roommate and I were invited to go with Diego, Marco and Alex to La Garda. All we new was that it was about an hour and a half away. Better judgement would compel one not to go… of course we went! The car ride in and of itself was bliss… the boys would rattle off their magical Italian. At this point, all we knew were the very basics… hello, goodbye, where’s the restroom, etc… I was swooning over their beautiful voices speaking that beautiful language. Such a dork! It was late when we arrived in La Garda… a glance to my left, and I could just make out this grand, mysterious lake shimmering beneath the moonlight in the dark Italian unknown. We passed by an entrance for an amusement park. Then we pulled up to this chic, lively strip with ultra-Eurpoean style bars. I don’t think I’ve yet to have as fancy of a drink as I had at the swanky bar we stepped into. I can’t remember what it was…

We headed to Le Terme next… yeah my roommate and I didn’t really know what we were in for. The boys led us through a slightly rolling landscape lit with moonlight and covered with lush, green grass that felt soft and padded like carpet under your feet. First my ears were greeted by the sound of water… then I slowly started to make out the ponds and lakes scattered around us. A second look, and I realized many of them had various fountains spraying mist upon a few wanderers here and there in the water. It was actually fairly cool out and I thought: “are they crazy? It’s going to be cold.” But the boys assured us it would feel great. A tentative dip with my toe and I was certain too. The ponds and lakes were all heated. I immediately sank into the water and waded over to one of the fountains and simply let the warm and inviting water wash over me in the dusky moonlight. MMMM…. I felt like I was getting movie star treatment. Then the boys called my roommate and I back over… they had a little picnic set up for us with fresh Italian-baked bread, cold cut meat, cheese so pungent that a mere whiff makes you salivate… and of course il vino. Ummm… Wow! That’s all I was thinking. What did I do to deserve this??

After a moonlit picnic full of conversation and laughter we all headed to a larger lake. This one had smaller hot tubs scattered throughout that sat just a little higher… but the best part was the grotto… hot water spilled and trickled from various crevices in a lightly lit cave… it felt like paradise. Italian men sure knew how to treat a woman! But, that made me a little skeptical… just what were these boys after… hmmm?

…but my skepticism was disproven. The boys were absolute gentleman. When the park closed late into the night (or early into the morning), we packed into their car… I held onto the feeling of that warm water under the starry black night and drifted to sleep. My roommate and I awoke at our arrival at Giovanna’s, and we quietly crept into our beds… safe and sound.

Those boys then became a part of our crew for that short month we lived in Bergamo. And with my return two-years later, Diego was just as amazing as I had left him…

…yeah that experience was pretty spiritually and passionately alive.

To Be Continued…

Running in Circles… Come Back To Haunt Me

It’s been quite a while since someone made me laugh the way The B-man did tonight… Went to this local German joint called the Das Stien Haus. Totally done up right… quaint… personality all its own… just the kind of place I love! The potatoes are particularly great. Then off to Gumbo Bottoms for a couple drinks and stories that whisked me away to Cancun, Cazumel, Louisiana and Korea… as the B-man shared his adventures I was right there with him… getting into the hottest clubs through “Dave”, petting barracudas, learning to split open craw fish with lightening speed and becoming a sniper threat from innocent childs play. Good stuff… I was eating it up! (Spitting it up is more like it… yea, don’t ask.) But do ask the B-man about these escapades… great stories. All around GREAT time… right up until I got in my own car to go home and had only my own mind to occupy my time. Of course, the battle I’m fighting, but had momentarily chosen to ignore, comes rushing at me with a full attack when I’m most vulnerable… when I’m alone. It wasn’t totally unexpected this time… so I was more prepared to accept the feelings, emotions and longings that would start circulating through my head. Then I turn up BXR… invariably the song playing nails what I’m feeling…

Coldplay “The Scientist”

Come up to meet you, tell you Im sorry
You dont know how lovely you are
I had to find you, tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart
Tell me your secrets, and ask me your questions
Oh lets go back to the start
Running in circles, coming up tails
Heads on a silence apart

Nobody said it was easy
Oh its such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said that it would be this hard
Oh take me back to the start
I was just guessing at numbers and figures
Pulling your puzzles apart
Questions of science, science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart
Tell me you love me, come back and haunt me
Oh and I rush to the start
Running in circles, chasing our tails
Coming back as we are

Nobody said it was easy
Oh its such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard
Im going back to the start

I’m forcing myself to break a bond stronger than anything I’ve ever felt before… stronger than anything but that bond that God’s calling us to embrace… but even then, sometimes in my foolish humanity… it feels stronger than that… but I know that’s wrong. I don’t want to let go. I can feel myself almost reminding myself to… remember this amazing thing I can’t have… and dwell on it. I don’t want to let go. I’m drawing upon God’s strength to do it… but, I know part of me will always resist… I just pray it’s the smaller part. Your prayers would be much appreciated.

I digress to get back to a more upbeat note again… a close friend said this song reminded him of me. What a compliment! The lines I draw most from the song are… “And everything around her is a silver pool of light. The people who surround her feel the benefit of it.” That’s what life should be about… living in light… and sharing it with everyone you meet. In other words… living a life that’s “spiritually and passionately alive.” We all have our battles… but my goal is to stay in the “silver pool of light.”

KT Tunstall “Suddenly I See”

Her face is a map of the world
Is a map of the world
You can see she’s a beautiful girl
She’s a beautiful girl
And everything around her is a silver pool of light
The people who surround her feel the benefit of it
It makes you calm
She holds you captivated in her palm

Suddenly I see (Suddenly I see)
This is what I wanna be
Suddenly I see (Suddenly I see)
Why the hell it means so much to me

I feel like walking the world
Like walking the world
You can hear she’s a beautiful girl
She’s a beautiful girl
She fills up every corner like she’s born in black and white
Makes you feel warmer when you’re trying to remember
What you heard
She likes to leave you hanging on her word

Suddenly I see (Suddenly I see)
This is what I wanna be
Suddenly I see (Suddenly I see)
Why the hell it means so much to me

And she’s taller than most
And she’s looking at me
I can see her eyes looking from a page in a magazine
Oh she makes me feel like I could be a tower
A big strong tower
She got the power to be
The power to give
The power to see

Suddenly I see (Suddenly I see)
This is what I wanna be
Suddenly I see (Suddenly I see)
Why the hell it means so much to me

I have some news I’m really excited about… I’m saving it for tomorrow to start the day off with happiness.

Waiting for the Light…

Here’s that poem I mentioned:

Desolation heavy in the air
Life an assembly line of its own
No emotion, only movements
World empty and cold
Why are we here?
Suddenly a new light, beautiful sound
Caution, fright, curiosity, wonder mixing.
Slowly grasping and understanding.

Again, I wrote that poem in high school as part of an assignment after we had read “Death of a Salesman.” It was the second line that I was recalling when I thought of the poem. But, today I stumbled upon a documentary that puts everything into perspective… please watch “The Invisible Children.”

Just about a month ago I saw another documentary that touches on the atrocities occuring in the Darfur region of Sudan, Africa. Atrocities which are spreading and beginning to filter across the Ugandan border. The documentary is called “The Devil Came on Horseback.” I strongly recommend it as well. If God could use me to somehow help in combating this evil rising up in that part of the world… I would be willing to be His faithful servant.

Starting off with my best foot forward… the one that follows God.

The excuses and the procrastination are over! I’m FINALLY starting a blog… and I’ll start with the first thing I can’t seem to say enough these days: “I’m so ready for what’s next in my life!” Problem is… I have no idea what that might be. The question I keep asking myself daily is a question posed in ‘The Sacred Romance’: “What is it that I’m supposed to be doing to live the spiritual life in any way that is both truthful and passionately alive?” That question particularly strikes a chord with me now… as I feel restless… waiting for LIFE to happen. Plus, I thought that would be a sound question to ask at any point in my life… to make sure I’m on the right track with the right goals in mind. Hence, the name of the blog. I’m hoping the blog name will serve as a constant reminder. ‘The Sacred Romance’ is a good tool for that too… for reminding yourself to ask the right questions and strive for the right goals. I’m not even close to being finished with it… which is odd, because I normally blow through books. But, this is the kind of book that’s meant to be digested slowly… so you can turn each piece of advice over and over in your mind… hopefully cementing it into your memory… so you can use it later. A friend that is invaluable to me recommended the book, and it’s been a guiding light. I pass along the recommendation with the hope that it can offer you something as well…

Today was another very mediocre day at work (aside from lunch with the boss and co-workers… that was fun!) There’s a poem I wrote in high school that comes to mind though… it conveys how I feel… part of an assignment after reading ‘Death of a Salesman”. I’ll see if I can find it when I get home and post it later.

As mediocrity persists at work… there’s no question that I’m actively seeking something to offer the passion, excitement and spirituality for which I’m so desperately yearning. As I’ve sought those things, various “opportunities” have arisen… many of which conflict with prior committments… one of which has been the most challenging and continually enlightening experience of my life. One I know I’ll never forget… and one I know I’ll take with me everywhere.

Speaking of everywhere… a quick glance up from my computer leaves my eyes to feast upon the collage of Italy pictures that are taped to the wall next to my desk. The pics are from a desk calendar that my Aunt Diane gave me… thanks Diane! Excellent gift! My heart is continually calling me back to Italy… and to travel. There was a roundtrip ticket available to Rome for about $750 on hotwire the other day… it was everything I could not to ‘click’ purchase. Roundtrip or not… I don’t think I would have come back this time… not for a good while.

But, this mediocrity at work is teaching me very valuable lessons. I’m learning about things I do and don’t want from a job… from life. I’m learning the value (and certainly the trials!) inherent in patience. I’m learning to appreciate things I might not have appreciated before… and even those things and experiences I appreciated before… I’m learning to appreciate more fully.

And there have been some experiences that have been absolutely “sweet!” and “amazing!” I’m talking about blasting skeet with shotguns, bullseyes with rifles and action targets with a pistol baby! Yup. All thanks to my awesome boss! Well, my boss’s boss actually. He says I’m a pretty decent shot… I say… I’ve got a lot of work to do before I become a spy! I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Er… weeeeeelll… actually… most of you probably know I”m really not kidding. I’d love to be snatched up by the CIA, trained to master any weapon, including my own body and my own intelligence, and use it to take out bad guys… Boondock Saints style! (An aside: GREAT move! Go watch it!) Wow… what a crazy, exciting life that would be! Intelligence, travel, elite exercise, arms and continual challenge and mystery! Mom, I know you’re cringing as you read this… but I’ve always been drawn to such things. And, Mom, if you’re asking where’s the spirituality in that… God waged war with Satan. Taking out bad guys is completely legit. And any good guy on the wrong side… will have eternal life… sooner. I admit… I hope I’m later than sooner! Periods of medioctrity and all… life’s a trip!

I’ll leave off with that for now… Crazy Laura wants to be a spy! Gosh, I’m such a little kid sometimes…