Being pulled out of life’s rhythm to fly across the globe to see and catchup with my other world of people could have seemed too daunting or too risky: not worth breaking out of ministry or the guilt of wasting resources. But that’s not the way I saw it. Because for me, life is a gift. YOLO.
Plus, the timing of this particular gift could not have been better.
I was brought out of the Turkey turmoil back to America for a wedding. Having already lived out of my suitcase for one week to avoid living in Protestville –the one I had packed into my suitcase during the anxious rush to flee– I again re-packed its random contents (praising God I had remembered my passport and bridesmaids dress,) and 18 hours later landed in the good ole USA. Ready for stability and support and love, a wedding was a perfect place match for a displaced soul.
However, I felt the love long before the wedding festivities even began. My sweet friend who picked me up from LAX knows me well enough to take me straight to Manhattan Beach inclusive of special treats from Starbucks:) With American sand between my toes and waves and wind twisting my hair into the ever familiar, salty, SoCal tangles, my smile immediately plastered itself permanently onto my face.
It was as if nothing had changed. Except so much had.
I was then dropped into the arms of another who offered me traveler’s gold: a glass of ice water, a hot shower, and a home. The evening passed by in a dreamlike whirr as old roommates (whom I will never stop calling my roommates) joined us for dinner. Plates were piled high with quinoa, garden tomatoes, carameled pecan salad, and bright red fruit.
My host delightfully outdid herself:) Brownies and ice cream followed a transition from the kitchen table to the front porch couch. There we sat under the stars… pinching ourselves at times in near disbelief of actually being in the same place after a year of being apart.
When I committed to two years in Turkey, there were no plans for any trips back to America. But then a wedding beckoned and a ticket miraculously slapped in front of me. I knew I could take the trip.
It was a gift.
Such a gift. The next two days with my roommates, forever to be known as the Core Four**, and other familiar APU faces deepened my appreciation and recognition of the gift I had been given. I was so encouraged to be able to spend time with my friends and see with my own eyes that they are all doing what they deem obedience to the Lord by seeking and surrendering to the path that He has purposed for each one of them. Not only that, but they’re pursuing it with joy and blessing; nothing made me happier than to see God’s favor poured out over their lives.
Then, being able to share my experiences and the work God is doing with people who I know have been serving alongside me with support was unreal. Looking at everything that has happened in the past year and then being physically brought back to the friends who lived, dreamed, planned, and prayed with me before any of it launched into action… Let’s just say what we know to be true but continue to learn and experience: God is faithful, and God is good.
And He keeps on giving.
The next day I drove 7 hours north with a soulsister to celebrate the event for which I flew across the ocean. As I stood witness to one of the most beautiful ceremonies I’ve been blessed be a part of, tears streamed endlessly down my face. Yes, emotions were obviously heightened by the continental jump I’d recently taken, then of course by the love story of this stunning couple saying I Do… then add to that the love story of the girls standing to my left and to my right. Overwhelmed, I struggled to take it all in.
Who are these important girls that brought the waterworks, you ask? Well, we call ourselves the Fab Five, and our love story began five years ago. I must reminisce…
Although it wasn’t love at first sight, it was a love that took root from the first day of college that fateful week of choir camp. Growing stronger as we grew more sure of ourselves, we slowly began to lower our guards, and then boom! Out came our weirdness, our contrasting personalities, our ugly but beautiful selves, our fiery passions, and a supernatural bond of love. Going through four college years of developing together and individually, these girls have become part of who I am and I couldn’t imagine life without them. We’re all still very different and journeying our various paths, yet despite the long-distance and busy schedules, we continue to grow together.
This was evident as we spent a week together celebrating the marriage of one of us– best friends reconnecting as best friends do: with laughter and tears, late nights of both silly, nonsensical conversations as well as ones processing heavy decisions, and early morning runs so we can eat more food than the too much food we already ate the previous day and the day before that. Of course, being together in the flesh –braiding each other’s hair, dancing hand-in-hand, all of us sprawled on one hotel bed chatting our lives away, linking hearts with hundreds of hugs and prayers– is definitely the preferred context for friendship. But when we said goodbye there was peace and gratitude, each one knowing it wouldn’t be long before a text, e-mail, skype date, or snapchat would be in the making
I left California with a full heart, amazed at the people God has wrapped my life with and humbled at how well they love me every minute of every day. I don’t deserve it. But God is so good, and the gifts He gives are ever abounding and have a high tendency of coming in the flesh…
**And it seems apparently my friends and I make numerical titles: Core Four/Fab Five…