travel (see annaliesa in england. abbie. interns).
I was able to spend one week home in between school and interning. in that week, i felt extremely weak...loss of words, doubt in my heart, completely undisciplined...unfocused, weary, uncertain. in subtle thoughts of, "I don't crave any intimacy with the lord. I'd rather not be productive with my life. I don't really want to dedicate a whole summer to serving the Creator for lives to be changed. I'd just rather not meet new people."
and what did I experience all week? incredible moments of wisdom being showered into my life. in the most miraculous and real situations.
when my older sister needed advice about a boy situation, i mumbled unhelpful words and repeated phrases like, "boys suck." whereas, my younger sister, who is four years younger than my older sister, told her the honest freaking truth. "Leave him, run...you want a man who knows and loves jesus more than he loves you because in that, things will hold together. you are worth a million bux and i will remind you of this everyday until you really grasp it." and such. it was beautiful, hilarious, and so so encouraging. my younger, rambunctious sister was able to slap me and nina in the face and gently tell us things we always need to hear.
my mom and i were driving in the car to the market. she explains how she has a client who is battling stage four cancer...except that the battle is essentially over. she now lives in a hospice and is waiting for her time to pass over. my mom, NONCHALANTLY, tells me...."yeah, so i just asked her if she had a bible to read. we aren't allowed to bring religious matters into work, but i mean, she is dying and i found it important she knows of her savior. so i read her romans 8:38-39. she loved it."
oh, thanks mom for having an eternal impact. she is changing this world. i want to grow up to be like her. something as simple and childish as that. i am proud she is my momma and the lord is proud she is his daughter.
jenna. i didn't want anyone to come over, because i was extremely exhausted and nervous before leaving the following morning for a place where i didn't know a single person (yet). she insisted, plopped on my bed, and forced me to look at her and catch up, talk, express, love. she held my hands very tightly as she whispered prayers to the lord. beyond peaceful. beyond lovely. beyond everything i imagined.
thank you, sweet savior, for using my weakness for your profound and majestic words.
this is my third time coming to the new site church, here in ridley. BRV media planted another one in ridley because quite frankly...we need it.
but can we just pause and recognize how this county needed a good church? one that flourishes, rains truth, speaks and lives out hope. kind of like luke 4.18
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."
a truly depressing world would be one where the Kingdom never came and wasn't coming. but Heaven kissed earth...blindsided. had no clue. out of no where, the lord was like BAM, HERE ARE MY LIPS. (hehe) but what he is really saying is, "here is my love, my grace, tenderness, hope...everything will be okay because I did something about it."
I edited my paper--as in, i cut it and made it short. i didn't include the evolution of pornography. essentially, what used to be "hard porn" is now soft. example: Playboy, lad mags, etc.
For the sake of time/research, my paper is about heterosexual men who consume pornography. I recognize there are other issues, like homosexual porn, etc. but this is about heterosexual men consuming porn, but most of all it is about the industry. my goal is for the industry/producers to be held accountable, because they are the ones carefully constructing the way sexuality is portrayed.
also, don't mind the grammar/punctuation mistakes! hehe. OH and i recognize some material is really graphic but that's the point, right?
so why do i always skip over the victories of my college experience, both at apu and jmu? why do i so quickly forget the moments of "this is a beautifully fruitful and nurturing season in my life." i am not sure why i forget. but i don't want to...so this post goes out to the incredible, both little-and-small, victories of my time in harrisonburg just this week.
-getting two pints of cake batter ice cream from klines last week and not being judged by my housemates.
-giggling with Evi as we chat boys and think it is funny. (humor similar to middle school).
-spending hours with Sara and Lindsay as we did studied together yesterday. I think I am fueled by other people's energy.
-the warm weather today. the fan is blowing in the kitchen and i sure do love the feeling of summer. there is nothing like it and i'm addicted to the feeling.
-simply living in a house with so many awesome women.
-the late night texts Evi and I send as only a wall separates us...silly things like "I am tempted to text him. tell me not to." and then complete forgiveness and no judgment when we gave in and did. whoops!
-the adrenaline rush when i complete a kick-ass paper.
it's all about perspective, right? I know I will truly miss harrisonburg this summer.
last night was a picnic for young life. long story short, all 120 something leaders square danced/country line danced (what's the proper name?) and because of my new best friends (crutches) i had to sit out and watch. I anticipated a pity party, because, come ON, reb LOVES to dance. so I knew it would be hard to watch so many people twirl, spin, and get a kiss on the cheek. (hehe).
luckily no pity party was near. instead, i felt absorbed in the moment of cheering, celebrating, and pure fun. you know the feeling you get when you're watching titanic and Rose is taken to the third class party underneath the boat? and you are just DYING to be with her and be spun by leonardo dicaprio? the screaming irish music, beer toppling over mugs, people letting loose and grabbing on to each other. it is wild and untamed. okay so no one got to dance with leo last night. but the feelings of adrenaline, being free, and excited about life were totally there. i loved being in the midst of chaos and not being able to have time to care about who thinks of who and who is judging who.
I want dance through everyday.
" I need you to listen. I need for you to not lose heart. I need for you to always choose hope over despair. I need you to know that all seasons pass. I need for you to be courageous in moments that pass without a swelling orchestra or standing ovation. I need for you to believe with all your heart that you are beautiful and created not only to witness, but to participate in beauty and wonder. I need for you to know these truths because someday I will need for you to remind me. I will lose faith just as you have. I will cling to doubt and self pity. And one day you’ll forget what we fought for and why we laughed, and I will remind you of the life we chose to live, believing we’re meant for more than we could ever imagine. "
This past weekend I reconnected with a great friend of mine. Clingy, inseparable, what ever word you would like to choose to describe our annoyingly obsessive, playful, and loving friendship that started ten years ago. It has not always been smooth sailing. We have walked through valleys with each other and cried our eyes out over difficult life situations.
In college, she has pushed through excuses, distractions, and circumstances. She’s called. Called. Called. Texted me. Messaged me. Left voicemails. She does not give up on our friendship.
Saturday night we sat in a local Applebee’s, discussing life over warm doughy cookie, teeth chilling ice cream, and a heaping mount of chocolate cake. We poured our hearts, confessed deep secrets, and laughed about life’s absurdity. We wrestled as we tried to give each other advice, to which we only blankly stared at each other and said, “I am here for you. You are not alone. I understand.” Nothing too substantial or ground breaking, but powerful and needed, noneoftheless.
It didn’t matter what we believed. It did not matter if we agreed on most things. But it did matter that she made me feel on top of the world. In those short couple of hours, I was freed from judgment and divine expectations. I was enough for her because I am Rebecca, a young woman filled with doubts, fears, and uncertainties. But she wanted my honesty and I wanted hers. She wanted to know how I felt, how I get by in life, and if I felt loved. If I wasn’t staring in the face of Jesus, then I am not sure who I was looking at.
That night, the spirit picked me up…he carried me far out of and into my feelings, because he let me feel a lot of goodness and hardship. But he showed me that a life with him is not always extravagant, majestically divine, and filled with epiphanies. Of course, that is a part of it. But as I stared into my friend’s face, I knew he was letting me know it is okay to relax. Let go of some things. Rip a part the image I try to create. Let go of what I want to be and just be, me. Yes, me, included with my doubts, shortcomings, and fears. To throw away the idea that I am clean, have it all together, and know what I am talking about. She showed me to let go and reveal who I really am.
I am grateful he chose my beautifully brave friend to tell me this.
Everything I said in the previous blog stands true. Wow. It was emotional, messy, fun, exciting, wild, tiring, rewarding, challenging, hard…it was a really special trip. Some of those days I did not think positive thoughts because negativity is always easier to fall back on. Takes less emotional strength and so sometimes I fell back on regrets or sadness. But I have to get back up, rearrange my heart and move forward. This trip helped move me forward. Not in all senses but at least in some.
Reuniting with my friends was exactly what I had hoped, and way more. Whether it was hearing Grace scream when she saw me, Amy tackling me, or people on the Cougar walk jumping out of their chairs to greet me. Paul’s expression because he did not realize I would be at his door. To express my gratitude and how special I felt could never, ever be given justice through this blog. But seriously…text after text, calls, voicemails, meeting me on campus, squeezing in time to see me—real and genuine efforts to see me was beyond beautiful and lovely. Especially because most of my time with friends was authentic—sitting outside, staring at each other, pouring and pouring and pouring. No time to be fake—let’s jump to the heart and meat of life. It is not that I had the most ideal friendship situation at all times at apu—clearly not, because my community at jmu is what I need. But what makes my friendships exceedingly special about apu is because they know I was deeply hurt, my shit was out for all to see, and I had to leave. They do not judge me for that, but welcome me and long for a different situation. They craved to know the well-being of my soul. They were selfless and wanted to hear about the success of my experience at jmu. Ugh, really…how did I get so lucky? And I did not even get to spend time with everyone I wanted to see. Breaks my heart. (but only after like twelve hours of non-stop talking do you realize you may be a little burnt out—introverts where ya AT?)
My trip to apu made me feel extremely rich in friendship.
However, I am not going to lie. Spiritually, apu can be a strange place. I had difficult conversations where my friend cried to me in the most honest and vulnerable way explaining how she missed God. I had another friend tell me he wishes he even knew Jesus still. Was I discouraged? Upset? Surprisingly, I was not at all. Because my friends looked me dead in the eye and told me their reality of being at apu. Anyone that can finish four years at apu has more strength than I do. With those two friends I got to stare at them and tell them they do not have to do anything—their Lover will come find them. (He already is).
At the same time I had friends explain victory after victory of what the Lord is doing, how they are maturing in painful and incredible ways, and how Jesus is more real to them than ever. I loved both realities because we are all in this messy, shitty, surreal, lovely life and cannot escape but can only go deeper into humanity and spirituality.
I wish I could explain in detail my heart behind all of my time with my friends (letzgo journal…cannot wait!) but I think sometimes I want and need to keep intimate, personal, complicated experiences for myself. But just know—there is so much more.
Last night I was texting my housemate from jmu. I was explaining how my heart is in a million different places and almost feels shattered because of how deeply I long to be with everyone at the same time. How sometimes I feel like I did not have the strength to finish at apu. She responded, “You were always meant to graduate from jmu. You are just too special for one place.” I can honestly say I do not know if words ever hit me so hard. A simple TEXT made me feel and think thousands of things at once. Maybe it is because she does not realize how ridiculously I reacted to circumstances at apu (and I say this because she is in a harder position than me and is so brave. Ugh, wish I could tell y’all). But either way, that text put my life into perspective a little, for I was able to recognize the sovereignty of my Guide and how I promised Him and myself I would trust Him so I am going to do so.
So what if my heart is all over? That I cry as I take off on the runway for Pennsylvania? That I have to watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills because I already miss driving those streets with Nina? That I need selfish prayers? I am going to love until it hurts because guess what? It really does hurt. It hurts to look at certain people and tell them goodbye…again. It hurts because I would rather spend most of my days alongside them. Can you imagine when jesus had to ascend? Like, OK c-y’all, those that I just died for? But he knew greater things were coming because of the active and alive spirit so I must let the spirit work.
I am growing to appreciate the diversity of my life and the boldness of the spirit in me to take care of me. I had anxiety, sadness, tears all being in California. That is extremely true, but that is all extremely okay.
**Now I am in my home in Philadelphia, PA. Completely silent, sitting in my kitchen finishing this blog. Dang, this is not easy.
I was not prepared for how hard it was going to be to leave Nina. The only thing giving me hope is the possibility of us becoming roommates a little over a year from now. Who knows? Maybe? But really...this week was a little taste of what we always have known and what is natural. For sisters to live alongside each other and walk through life. the sometimes annoying and mundane errands such as Ikea, the bank, her old apartment, grocery store. I miss it all (it's been less than 24 hours) and I want it again. I want my sister and her presence and her comfort and love. I am hesitant to even continue writing because it is very emotional for me and this silence is killing me. But I want to be in tune with my emotions. So here it is: I want to be with my best friend. Still. I want to be back. I did not want to leave. But maybe this is just a way for all three of us to be together. More preparation for the day my sisters and I can all live together.
I cannot believe I am sitting on an airplane, drinking “Café Mystique US Airways” coffee (that is seriously what it says on the Styrofoam cup), 43,000 miles up in the air, only an hour away from Los Angeles International Airport. The last day has been a blur—minimal sleep, excess amounts of coffee, and sweat outbreaks because of two midterms I had to take. Afterwards, I quickly did laundry, had three friends visit, and then Colleen and I were off to Washington DC. Laying my head on the pillow at 11:30 and waking up at 3:45 to begin a wild journey.
Flying standby is stressful and there is no other way to put it. No seats available, no flight for Rebecca. I wish I could explain how many flights I was considering to take to do this story justice, but long story short, at 3:45AM there were 0 seats available for my second flight. 0. Zero. Zehaa-raw. I had intended to try for another flight to make another connection and eventually end up in CA, but when I checked in my luggage, the lady said “Both flights look good so I won’t stamp your bag as standby.” Huh? Both flights look good? Really, because about 40 minutes ago there were no seats left.
I hop off my first flight, RUN to terminal B (seriously, if you ever are on those moving escalator side-walk thingers, MOVE OUT OF THE WAY for people who actually need this speed enhanced machine!) and after the not-so-nice employee @ Special Services says, “can’t do anything to help you,” I sit down feeling extremely defeated. Tears start welling because I cry when I am stressed. Sorry ‘bout it.
I check online and 14 seats show up. Fourteen?? How? What? Okay, I’ll take it! With my dad’s seniority, I then had a boarding pass gratefully stuck in between my palms. God is mysterious and I doubt. I doubt a lot and do not give him credit. “He definitely does not care about my flight drama. People are dying.” Maybe that is the case, because I would like to think he is taking care and performing miracles, but either way this was my mini-miracle. A small celebration. A moment of gratitude.
I am listening to Matt Wertz because he reminds me of Young Life camp, which is probably the safest place my mind can ever wander when I am feeling uneasy, unsure, and a little fearful. Why am I “afraid” to go to California? Well, I am not afraid of spending time with my best friend, my soul mate, my older sister. Wow, what joy will that bring the both of us. Anyone have a sister? Sibling maybe? Do you have a connection with them? Because if so you totally know the feeling I mean when you desperately crave to unite with that person who compliments you, frustrates you, and loves you without doing a single thing. No performance necessary, only genuine enjoyment of each other’s company. I need that a lot in my life (hence why I am always homesick for my sisters). The presence of my sisters is also one of the safest places I can ever go. They are probably the only two places I can go. (oh, and mom). Spending time with Nina is a continual pouring in and out relationship, where we both are energized by each other, yet are honest and our complete selves.
But besides spending time with her, it is the first time I am visiting APU since I have transferred…and I don’t know if this is irrational of me or not, but I am nervous. APU is a place of the highest peaks in my life and the lowest lows. It is where I contracted swine flu on the day my aunt died back east, it is where I was given the opportunity to travel to Cambodia, it is where I entered into my first serious relationship, it is where I first led Young Life, it is where I academically explored the bible in class, it is where I discovered my innate passion for fighting against injustice and inequality by becoming a Sociology major. It is where I freely raised my arms in worship without fear of being judged, it is where I found out Dominic had committed suicide, it is where I had run wild in Disneyland, feeling like a seven year old again. It is where staff and professors recognized me, it is where I first tried counseling, it is where I really explored my passionate soul, and it is where I had my heart broken. APU, you gave me opportunities. LOTS of them. Up and down ones to say the least.
But I salute you, APU, because although at times (most of the time), when I did not know how to fight the battles, you pushed me…you pushed me to wrestle with my Father, with my friends, boyfriend, myself. You pushed me…too hard, I admit. And graciously I was removed and gently put in one of the most fruitful, beautiful seasons in my life. But I would be a fool to say I don’t think about APU everyday or that it wasn’t my reality for the past two years. Without APU, I would not be where I am today, which is exactly where I want to be. Wow I am giddy writing that because I am finally at a place where healing has happened and I can look at APU with tender, forgiving, and admirable eyes. And I am not stuck, immobile, or trapped. I am free as can be in my heart, identity, and even geographical location. I can take APU with the beautiful things it offers and look at those dark moments with the knowledge it is okay. It was not always dark. Run after the light and affectionate moments.
Circumstance does not define me, but only contributes to my growth and experience. APU and JMU do not define me, but brutally and gently throw opportunities, relationships, and experiences at me. I have taken the hard punch, handled it pretty poorly, but also have jumped up and down and danced around with joy. So this break, I will reconnect with the saving graces of my APU experience…I write on this blog to publicly (except it is kind of private by the amount of my readers:) declare I will say sorry to those I have hurt or felt abandoned by me suddenly transferring. And I will rejoice, and explode with giddiness and appreciation for those who know me so well and have seen me too little.
Now I can’t say I won’t be emotional or even have a breakdown. I want the freedom to feel my emotions to the twentieth degree and not be ashamed but acknowledge hard parts but also the sweet parts. I can say, though, that I will walk in full confidence and assurance of where my Love is guiding me, taking me, and has taken me thus far. For that, I am forever thankful.
Wednesday, while I was working at the library, I had bursts of anxiety, confusion, and fear for going to California. “What am I thinking? Why would I want to put myself in a stressful situation (flying), chaotic week of moving around, and emotional situations where memories will flood?”
Then He answered me, very clearly and very gently. He said “Why wouldn’t you? Why would you choose comfort when you so, personally know the value of taking risks? Why would you not trust me?”
Why would I not go to California? Why would I not put myself in the most emotional situations? Is that not what life is about? To feel, to feel to the point of crying in the best and worst sense. To explore, engage, remember, reflect, pray, and praise. I want that at all times. Whether I am flying across the country to California, at Spotswood high school in Virginia, or nuzzled in my cozy room in Pennsylvania. I want to explore, engage, remember, reflect, pray, and praise for all of the days of my life. I am starting now.