My Year In Review

31 Dec

Write It Down

The year began, slowly, not with a bang as in some new years past, but with a slow contentedness. I was  sick, so the trip to Nashville we had planned was canceled, so I stayed in Texas with Jean-Thomas. I returned to YWAM Woodcrest to begin the writing school. I was assistant to the director, Jannie, and stayed busy planning, cooking, critiquing.  I felt connected with the students immediately. I loved the conversations, seeing the differences in people’s styles and the way they think. Even the critique groups. I learned more then I thought I would, taking the school for the second time. I fell in love with seeing people fall in love with writing, seeing how it’s a gift from God, how it really does change things.

YWAM's School of Writing 2010

The Madness of India

I began planning India, and the anticipation built.  The three month school went by fast, and soon it was spring. Graduation came, and a week later we got on a plane to India. I am not sure how we got all the money, but I remember lots of times checking online and seeing random donations come in from surprising places. My team had wrote the total amount we needed for the outreach on the whiteboard in the classroom, and watched the numbers drop until God provided exactly what we needed at the last minute.

The immediate impact of India was harder then we thought. The heat was excruciating. Three days in I was riding in a rickshaw with Jill on our way to the hospital because she cut her head open on a ceiling fan. Chennai was difficult, but necessary. The twenty-four hour secondnd class train, (which we were warned never to take) ended up being the single most insane day and night of my life. Beggars (literally) at our feet at stops, men selling “Tomato SOUP!” in a hundred and ten degree weather. But we survived, and India slowly worked it’s way into my heart. The bright colors, the spicy smells, the shock to my senses became what I expected and I fell deeply in love with the people.

In Pune, my team seemed to find their place. At the Hope of Glory foundation, we saw these orphans as more then a sum of their tragic movie-like life stories, we got to know them as people. We loved them. My heart broke broke, in a dark brothel over looking the city, in a water park where were persecuted because we spend time with prostitutes, in my bed at night thinking of the girls we had to leave behind in the red-light district. It was hard, harder then I thought for a world traveler and adventurer like me. Jean-Thomas wrote me a letter every single day I was gone.

My team and I wrote articles and poems; sorting through the overwhelming emotions; the physical, mental and spiritual battles, the desire to scoop up each one of these kids and give them a new life. I came home, relieved, heart-broken and tired.

My girl's and I on the rooftop of the orphanage the last night in India.

Away I Go (To the West Coast)

After a few short weeks of transition and wrapping up the India writing projects, I left YWAM. It was bittersweet- I loved it there, the people were family, I was comfortable and in my element, but I knew it was time to move on. I left for a long crazy road trip not knowing at all where I was going to live when I got back or what I was going to do with my life. It started with visiting my best (and very pregnant) friend Jamie in Colorado.) from their I flew to Southern California and had an FDS reunion with some wonderful girls for Liz ‘s beautiful wedding. From their I flew up to San Francisco to spend time with my Aunt, and my brother and his family. I got to meet my new baby twin nieces, Julia and Sierra. From there, I hoped on yet another flight to Seattle, where I met up with my good friend Jeanne to help her move. We drove through Portland where I got to stop and see the wonderful Betsy. We stopped in Salt Lake City and stayed with my sweet friend Elya, then finally made it to Kansas City. The trip itself felt like an emotional Indie movie plot- like everyone I met was at some critical point in their life- about to give birth, newly wed, about to be married, surviving divorce, and the death of a parent. For the final part, I took a bus from Kansas city back to Texas, where a guy got pulled off at one of the stops in hand cuffs. Never a dull moment.

Good friends at Liz's Wedding

Extraordinary People

During my crazy galavant across the West Coast, I had been searching for jobs on Craigslist, but coming from YWAM I had no car and no place to live either. (Good times!) When I came across a camp for special needs people that I could live at and work full time for six weeks, that was thirty minutes from Jean-Thomas, it was a huge answer to prayer. I jumped in the middle of it, like I tend to do with everything. The other counselors had been trained together for a few weeks at the beginning of the summer, and been working already for half the summer. I had about an hour of training. The work was challenging- long hours on your feet a lot, always taking care of someone. The first week one of my campers left her finger nail marks permanently in my arm. I had campers that were blind and deaf, quadriplegic, campers with severe Autism and slight Cerebral palsy. The ages ranged from six to sixty. I saw them love like children, overcome huge obstacles and daily fears and misunderstanding. I learned a lot from those six weeks, I realized as much as people with special needs need us, we need them. We need them to understand life, to realize what makes a person valuable, what child-like faith is, what God looks like.

One of my campers at Camp Summit

The East Coast Tour Adventure

Right when I ended at camp, Jean-Thomas and I packed up his car and headed out on a crazy road trip/tour. We went up the east coast, into Canada and back down through Nashville, staying with my friends and family along the way. We had many adventures, a few scary, most of them funny. We walked the beach in Florida with Leah, had amazing conversations and sushi with Steve in North Carolina, took a ferry out the the statue of Liberty, went camping in Maine with my family. We saw my friends Jess and Joel get married in Canada, ran through fields of sunflowers with Morgan in Ohio, saw where music legends started in Memphis.
Jean-Thomas played in churches and coffee shops, for big crowds and just a handful. We got kicked out of a tea-shop in Orlando, confronted “Bubba” in the backwoods of the mountain town where they filmed “Dirty Dancing.”  It was a crazy trip, Jean-Thomas meeting my family for the first time, lots of miles, lots of mixed emotions. But it brought us closer together in the end, with a sense of awe that we could go through all that we did and still not only love each other more, but actually want this kind of life style.

On a great adventure

New City, New Job, New Church

While I was at camp, I had found out about a writing position with Pais in Arlington and had an interview before I left for the trip. The whole trip I was trying to pray and decide if I should take the job or not. In the end, I am glad I went for it. Meredith had decided to move to Arlington with me, and we found an apartment that was perfect for us.
My final confirmation to decide to take the position with Pais was whether or not I liked the church they were partnering with. Church and I had had a fickle relationship over the years and it was really hard to imagine me feeling liked I belonged anywhere. My first Sunday and Lake House Church, things changed. It wasn’t about the sermon or worship or the fact they met in a dance studio, it was just about the people. They actually cared. They actually wanted to open their arms instead of making me feel like I was interrupting some already formed clique. I went to a weekend women’s retreat and it was just what I needed. I felt a lot of depression since India. It was hard to shake the feeling of hopelessness. God began to heal those things, and remind me that I wasn’t alone, it was actually his plan that I was in Arlington, that I was working with Pais, that I was going to this church with these people. (I am realizing this as I am typing it, in a deeper way, lately I have forgotten again)
At work, it was like jumping on a very fast moving train (are you seeing a pattern here??) But I love working for someone like Paul Gibbs, I love being a part of writing his book, I love my co-workers, the British humor, the tea time, the genuine love for God and out-of-box thinking. I was reluctant to take the job because I feared jumping into another ministry without “real-world” experience. (Ministry has been my life for the past seven years) But working for Pais is  refreshingly different, I am doing what I love- writing, and hopefully changing a few lives for the better along the way. I started volunteering with the youth group, and God really reminded me how much I love young people and want to help guide where they are going. I am still being reminded of this every day.

The leaders of Pais at the Global Summit

Maybe This Year Will Be Better Then The Last

Here I sit, in my little apartment in busy South Arlington, the Texas sun streaming in my window. Meredith is looking through her journal from the past year and laughing and sighing, the soundtrack of life playing on my laptop. I had a great Thanksgiving and Christmas, the end of my year more about the day to day, deciding to be content with being in one place, with Texas.

In a few days, I will have lived in Texas seven years. I never expected it, never thought my life would take the twists and turns that it has, but honestly, every year has been a great adventure. I wouldn’t trade all of this for something “ordinary,” no matter how secure that may seem. I am really thankful for the people in my life- My amazing boyfriend and his parents, my roommate, my boss and my co-workers, my church family, my family and closest friends who are always near no matter the physical distance. The people are what make life beautiful, not so much where I am or what I am doing. I am blessed, and it’s not because of who I am or what I do, it’s simply because of the Grace of Jesus. That is all I have, that is all I hold onto, that is all that will heal me of the hard things of my past and bring me through the inevitable difficulties in the future. Day by day He reminds me I am completely incapable on my own. I am nothing apart from Him, but I am not apart from Him.

My Hope For You and I

And so, may you see the newness that begins not just in a new year, but a new day. May 2011 be full of adventure:  beautiful in the midst of all the hard things. May you be able to walk the awkward line of contentedness but drive to seek more, work and rest, gripping and letting go. May you see each day as a gift, see that you are loved, and allow that love to push you to do one thing every day that scares you.

May you realize, as I am slowly, all this is about love and relationship, there is no other reason we exist.

One Response to “My Year In Review”

  1. steve January 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    “I am nothing apart from Him, but I am not apart from Him.”
    “We need to be reminded more than instructed.” Thanks for reminding me of this Brooke.
    You are welcome in NC anytime for conversation and Sushi.
    Love love love,

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