Monday, June 21, 2010

Take It From Me

The humidity clung to me as we strolled through the summer night, no destination in mind, walking as far as the conversation would take us. There are few things that can top a long walk and good conversation with a dear friend.

Most of our conversation centered around relationship. Such a loaded subject. I wish I could articulate all the beauty of our conversation. Here is just a tidbit...

Within the conversation I was reminded of a line from The Weepies song "Take It From Me": Funny how it's hard to take a love with no sting. Oh, so true. It's easy to love people surface level, always guarded in anticipation of disappointment. Far more difficult is accepting a love with no sting----a love that requires vulnerability, trust, respect, no judgement, genuineness. It says to the other person, "I see your immense worth. And I will fight for it, and you."
Yes, that is a bit intimidating.

But, oh, what a beautiful thing.

I pray we be genuine with one another.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Produce, Pageants, and Tow Trucks

Truth be told, I was a slightly odd child. Painfully shy, I was destined to be a loner. My mom recalls most of my free time spent held up in some kind of make-shift fort with my brigade of stuffed animals, always telling stories. Stories about far away adventures, stories comprised of bits and pieces of memories woven together, stories about growing up, stories that made no sense at all to anyone but me. Naturally, my mother recognized my love for stories and highly encouraged reading; but I never loved imagination was too big for books. I was the author of my own stories, as I still am. This story, however, is much larger than ever before.

I still love stories, fiction or nonfiction. I especially love hearing people's stories. Stories connect us at a very basic human level because, well, we all have one. For the past few years, I have been uncertain what kind of story I am in. So many people are so focused on the big story: What are you going to do with your life? Where will you be in 10 years? When are you getting married? Etc, etc, etc. The answer: I have no clue. Great stories pay close attention to detail, to the smaller stories within the story. And for now, that is what I'm doing...focusing on the smaller stories. Stories of summer bucket lists, of having my car break down in the middle of nowhere, of friends who are closer than family (who will rescue you when your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere). Yes, the little stories which define the larger one...which define me.

Along with my shift in focus, my understanding of how stories work is growing. Currently, I am reading Donald Miller's New book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (which I highly recommend). He observes that, most often, our favorite stories are those laden with conflict. As he works at interpreting the story of his life, he observes,

"I wanted it to be an easy story. But nobody really remembers easy stories. Characters have to face their greatest fears with courage. That's what makes a story good. If you think about the stories you like most, they probably have lots of conflict. There is probably death at stake, inner death or actual death, you know. These polar charges, these happy and sad things in life, are like colors that God uses to draw the world."

...I am working on coming into a new sense of appreciation for the conflicts in my story. So much of my life has been spent running from the kind of conflict that could make me into a great character with a great story. It's a struggle to believe that my struggles can produce the same kind of beauty and joy as those of characters in films, but it's a struggle worth tackling.

Discovering I don't know what story I am living is turning into a beautiful, truth-filled journey of healing and self-discovery. I am finding my story is one filled with character-building conflict, love, and beautiful people, among other things. And I look forward with great hope and anticipation.

This story is going to be awesome.
Correction, it is awesome.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I recently watched the movie Away We Go (see trailer here: It is a beautiful and hilarious story about a young couple expecting their first child who travel around the U.S. in search of the perfect place to plant roots and start their family. Through numerous adventures with family members and friends they finally begin to define "home" in their own terms. Not only is it an awesome film, I totally related to it (minus the whole expecting a child part).

At this point in my life, home is redefined almost daily. Home is a small town in Southern Illinois. It's a house on E. 68th Street in Louisiana. It's a school perched atop a hill. My life has taught me this: home is not one single place; home is where the heart is (as cliche as that phrase is). As I go about my adventures, I leave behind a piece of my heart. As my beloved friends go out and change the world, pieces of my heart go with them also. And each place which holds a piece of my heart becomes home.

For a long time my heart felt unrest because it longed for a home it couldn't find. Some people have one home, with roots as deep as the oak tree in the front yard of my parent's house. The more think about this concept, the more clearly I understand that it is not for me. Yes, sometimes I wish my family was as close-knit and around to show up in mass for everything like the Cottons. Yes, there are days I crave a home-cooked meal and a place on the couch. But then I remember how blessed I am; I have homes all across the United States, across the world.

"Where we love is home—home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”

- Oliver Wendell Holmes

My life is not ordinary, neither is my home.
And I hope it stays that way.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


You don't always get what you expect out of life; sometimes it throws you a curve ball. And when that happens, you just have to step out of the box for a moment, get your mind right, and hit the next pitch. Because in this game, the ones you miss are just as important as the ones you hit.

I'm learning a lot these days, a lot about what matters in life. I will spare you all the cliche sayings, even though I am finally finding truth in some of them. Basically, I have learned that life is about choices. And I am choosing to stay positive and love the life I'm living.

Life is not about how many years it takes you to graduate from college or how much money you make or even knowing where tomorrow will find you. It's about the smile on my favorite 3 year old's face when I sit with her on the steps because she is too overwhelmed to go into a room full of people. It's about climbing trees with my favorite curly-haired ginger. It's about meeting new people and trying new things. It's about bucket lists. It's about really loving people. It's about surrounding yourself with people who make you laugh, and laugh hard. It's about making mistakes and friends taking care of one another. It's about adventure and letting go of inhibitions.

Have I been hurt and disappointed? Yes.
Do I have huge obstacles to overcome? Yes.
But truly living means not allowing my pain to dictate my behavior.

I have a great life. I've had a lot of struggles, but for every moment of struggle I have two filled with joy. I have family that stretches past the bonds of DNA. I have friends who make me laugh hard and often. I am loved well beyond what I deserve.

I'm taking it one day at a time because tomorrow will worry about itself.
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