Saturday, March 28, 2009

Small Town Feel

Lincoln, Nebraska

Life here is slow and simple. For example, most nights, the headline on the nightly news is about the weather, or the other night it was about two teenage boys torturing a cat. My mom said that there were four homicides in Lincoln last year. New Orleans gets something like four a day! (And we would never hear about cat torture in the news.)

This quiet life is nice for a change and has allowed a good return to the friendliness of the Midwest. Last weekend my mom and I went to a quilt museum, and right now my mom, grandma, and I are working on a puzzle in my grandma's basement. To pass one afternoon my cousins and I played board games and they put on a magic show for me. Wholesome, simple fun. No surprises in life really, nothing spectacular. Just a small town feel.

Two days left in Nebraska, then on to... Colorado!

Friday, March 20, 2009

"Home" in Nebraska

Lincoln, Nebraska

Nebraska is not quite home any more, but I feel its deep-rooted home-ness in my spirit. When I come back to my parents', I feel a freedom to take a deep breath and spread out in the open spaces.

This is what I miss most about my deep-roots home: open sky, open fields. I always thought I would like to be a farmer's wife some day... I still kind of think that. Which is funny, because I love living in New Orleans and generally have a calling to the inner city. As my life is, I will enjoy my brief time back in the Midwest and spread out as much as possible.

Yesterday my grandma and I headed West in her CRV to try and catch the annual migration of the sandhill crane. They fly in late-February and stay for about a month, fattening up on leftover field corn and hooking up with a mate. Our goal was to see them land for the night on the Platte River, though neither of us knew quite what we were in for.

We drove for hours along country roads, her sitting in the passenger seat and I asking her non-stop questions about what it was like to grow up on the farm. We stopped every so often to pull off and watch the cranes in the fields with our binoculars. We also stopped to see thousands of snow geese on a pond. These geese were amazing! There were sooooo many of them, which was pretty spectacular in and of itself. The most amazing thing happened, though, when by some mysterious signal they all took flight at once. They converged into a giant cloud above us that twisted and formed loudly, swirling and changing. The birds created a live art exhibit with changing shapes, angles, colors, and seemingly choreographed patterns. Then they gathered shape in the sky as a hurricane cloud, circling, circling... then slowly unraveling downward. A ribbon of white and gray gently twisted down toward the water, and the ribbon widened so it looked like a tornado of birds.

My grandma and I stood there breathless at this beautiful sight. There was no way to describe its magnificence. And while the landing of hundreds of thousands of cranes on the Platte River at sunset was also amazing, I think my favorite part of the day was the snow geese.

Here's a couple pictures of the geese on the water. The first is of my grandma watching them through binoculars--all those white specks are the geese! The other one is of them taking flight.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Half Way


My bags are packed and I'm ready to go... to the next leg of my journey. I'm well-equipped for the 9 hours of driving time between my sister's place and my parents': I've got trail mix from Colleen, some good tunes from Sarah, and one last hug from Liz.

I'm sad to see my month in Chicago end, but it's been so rich and full that I leave with no regrets. My extension of 2 extra days here was a great decision because it gave me a little extra time with Kim, SB, AND Liz and her community in La Villita. The weather was nice enough on Saturday that we got to take a walk in the forest preserve near her house, which was one of our traditions when we lived together in college. As we walked we remembered the last time we did this--the day before her wedding. A lot has changed since then, but how great to still be able to get back together and not miss a beat.

SB and I met up with her friends Saturday night at their favorite neighborhood pub, The Firkin. We sat around discussing love, men, and life. :) And we felt the freedom to be loud and ourselves in the St. Patrick's Day festive atmosphere. It was great.

On Sunday Liz and I returned to La Villita together for a day of celebrating God's work in the members of the church and their community. They've been intentionally fasting and praying for a deeper walk with God, and yesterday was dedicated to telling about what He's doing. It was amazing to hear about his faithfulness.

Well, time to pack up the car and head out...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Return to New Orleans... Kind Of


This past weekend some old friends reunited in Naperville, IL, and it felt like we were back in New Orleans again! Sara Miller, Miss Jeri, and Andrew drove down from different places in WI to Chris and Colleen's house in Naperville, and we spent the weekend just being together. There was much good food involved, lots of Settlers of Catan games, and even nice weather to help us feel like we were in the city we adore.

All of these friends once worked for Urban Impact, so the bond I have with them lies in a unique area that I don't have with other friends up here. It was great to be together and talk about friends back "home" who we miss, worry about, love.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Embarrassment and Some Counsel


Yesterday my favorite pair of old jeans ripped open on the butt. I discovered this around 2 o'clock, though I am not sure when it happened nor how long I was walking around like that. When I discovered this I was at the gym changing into workout clothes and also realized that I had forgotten to grab a pair of white sports socks. I only had black dress socks on.

I felt really ridiculous with my basketball shorts, white gym shoes, and black dress socks up there on the Elliptical for an hour, but whatever, right? Hardly anyone was in the workout room, and most of the other people were older and not terribly concerned about fashion themselves. It was only when I went to leave that I realized that I could NOT change back into my jeans but would have to walk across the college campus looking like this. Not only would I look rediculous wearing shorts in the middle of winter, but they would be complimented with my supreme sense of sock choice. :)

In other news, I met up with two of my former education professors today, Carol and Suzanne, which was wonderful. They were their usual positive, but genuine and open selves. A lot of our conversation was spent reflecting on life and its sorrows and joys that have been experienced over time. Though all of us have reason to shrink back from the painful things life has handed us and be consumed by anger, depression, or even want to give up and lose hope, God has given us joy and security. This includes the trials of illness, losing loved ones, and changes in financial security. These women are a model to me of trusting Christ in and through everything. I feel honored that they continue to invest in me after being their student so long ago.

Monday, March 2, 2009

La Villita


For most of the year, my sister, Liz has been telling me about Little Village, or "La Villita", a neighborhood in Chicago where her church is. La Villita is located in the Lawndale community, a poor area separated mainly into Blacks and Hispanics. She spends her whole weekends there and never stops talking about how great everyone is. :) I couldn't wait to go down with her.

It's been a while since I've been immersed into the Hispanic culture or attempted to speak Spanish, but I was excited to go to the Spanish service at Liz's church. As soon as we walked in, memories of my time in Peru came back, and just hearing the language made me feel like I was in a fond and familiar place. I even understood a good bit of the sermon!

1 Corinthians 12 talks about how in Christ, we are united through the Holy Spirit. Verse 13 says that "Jews or Greeks, slave or free" are brought together into one body--all people! The reception I felt by this extension of the Body was a beautiful picture of this unity we have through the Holy Spirit. I was treated as a part of the family, though a stranger to them.

This hospitality didn't just stop after the church service was over, either! The members of this church are clearly a close community who enjoy each other's company, and they invited me to spend time with them, too. After the English service, Liz and I went over to the home of a couple 20-something girls and chilled out in their living room with tea and good conversation. After that, we headed over to the pastor and his family's home for the rest of the evening.

Paco, the pastor, and his wife, Sylvia, have seven (yes, SEVEN!) beautiful children, but their home es muy tranquilo (is very calm). The older kids look after the younger kids, and everyone is genuine and holds a deep joy in their spirits. It was so refreshing to be there... I didn't want to leave!! I was welcomed back by everyone numerous times, and if it weren't for the pull to return to New Orleans, I think I would just move into La Villita. :)