Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Several months ago, at the peak of new projects, the beginning of summer, and all that life entailed (wedding, cousin's son newly diagnosed with cancer, etc, etc, etc) someone wrote me an email.

It was ill timed in so many ways. I came home excited on a Sunday evening, jet lagged from my sisters wedding (so on a high and low from both the wedding and coming home) and also just juiced to be part of a new project here in Granada when it comes to "church". And...someone wrote me a letter...and I had the audacity to open it before I went to bed.

This women is not a friend, but still wrote me, expressing emotion, but at the same time trying to solicit my own feelings. At one point she expressed concern stating that , "you must feel alone in Granada because of a 'family situation'".

I don't think she meant it as an offense, but I was offended. Me? Alone? I was so excited that after an incredibly intense year of friendships, everyone was leaving for the summer and I would have alone time!!!!!!!!!!!!Andrew and I are social butterflies, and we love people....but we had had a lot go on, and we needed down time.

But as everyone trotted off to other parts of the universe, there were moments that that letter rang true, and I felt alone. When everyone that we loved came back, you could feel the change in the air, and things ebbed and flowed, and not in a bad way, just different as we all began to see new things appear in our lives.

And then,August rolled around. It's supposed to be the quietest,loneliest month, but everyone was here, or stayed, or came back.We spent hours with friends, on the beach, swimming like 12 year old boys at local water reservoirs. Suddenly, we had a new bunch of friends, and renewed relationships with others and BAM....I really didn't feel alone. Never have I had so many fiestas as we did this fall. Birthday parties, parties just because, new friends at church, new meetings, new challenges. New moments of "WHY AM I DOING THIS!??" and YES I CAN"T BELIEVE I JUST DID THAT!

 We dined, drank and danced with new friends this year at Christmas, and it was really a change from 6 months ago. Old and new friends together. New Years was with new friends as we gulped our Grapes to mark New Years.

But for me, New Years was a little dim as Andrew was ill. Not serious, just needed a hernia operation. And we had been waiting, for what felt like forever. To our relief, this past Monday he got the Phone Call. Yesterday they operated.

And in that one day, that old wound, of "because you are alone in Granada" was completely swept away. For in the most powerful and briefest of moments, Andrew and I were swept up and carried along in a current of love and friendship more powerful than we have experienced in a while. Messages, calls, visits, real promises of "YOU NEED HELP WE ARE HELPING".....and last night before we went into bed, someones last message of YOU CAN DO IT. WE LOVE YOU GUYS, pushed me over the edge. I couldn't stop weeping from joy when I realized in the midst of all of the change, pain and waiting, I was healed.

You see Love, in its truest form, comes from God, no matter who gives it out. And in the moment of Love, I realized again, "with His wounds, we are healed."

In the massive outpouring of Love yesterday, I realized two things. 1. I am never alone in Granada, in fact, far from it and 2. Love heals. Not just kidney stones and hernias and sore muscles and strained backs, but that stab in the back, GONE. HEALED. In the vernacular of my Spanish friends. TOMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. Take that wound, Love healed you.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Triathlons, Aloe plants and how we are all connected.

And life, like that, is back to its crazy rythmn. Life in a university town means you never leave the university schedule. Late nights, sometimes late mornings, centered around the next holiday/vacation means that life is either on or off around there.

We needed off time. On time means intense, never stopping hardly to catch your breath around here. Off time was good. But this weekend we were back on, taking pictures for a race here in Granada.

I took my perch up on Llano de Perdiz, a hill behind Granada. I waited in the rain as each particpant ran/walked/climbed over my hill and seemed to appear from nowhere, and took pictures. As the rain intensified, my friend said, "Go, find a warm, dry spot." and I said, "No, I will wait for the last ones. I am always last, so I will wait."

One of my friends was one of the final ones, mostly due to the fact that a number of people pulled out. He arrived spent, happy, ready to finish and happy to see us.

As he and I talked about the race today, I told him how his girlfriend had expressed her nervousness for him. I tried to,and didn't really explain well (I think Spanish wasn't my friend today) how I understood her nervousnessness.

One of the first serious races Andrew and I took pictures for three years ago was the long distance Sierra Nevada race. As we walked amoung the men and women about to compete I had two impressions.

1. Shaved legs. More than I'd ever seen. On men.

2. The buzz. I could feel it. Even though I wasn't going to race, I felt all their nerves, excitement, trepidation and energy. It was amazing. It made me want to a race of my own. Several months later I did.

But this got me thinking about how even though I was only an observer that day (as well as others) how much we are and can be connected emotionally.

This week, my light reading is a children's novel by Madeline L'engle. It's rather deep, and I've read it twice,and have finally "gotten it". The idea that is the main theme is this, from the microspocic creatures to the largest galaxies, size doesn't matter, our names do. Our presence, our very being. She puts this in simple terms.

A boy in the book, reads a theory about this, and decides to test it. He plants three beans, one in his home, a broken, angry, sad home. Two beans he plants in a library corner (permitted by the librarian). One of them he lovingly talks to and encourages. Of course, the third bean grows magnificantly, the first one is wilted and horribly deformed.

And this brought me back to my plants. Two and a half years ago, my aunt Debbie left Spain and gave me four aloe plants. They have lived, inspite of my oft neglect. Strangely enough, they somehow seem deeply connected to my aunt, and just looking at them gives me both comfort and concern.

This past May, my cousins' son experienced great pain, and then it was discovered that he had cancer. Only three years old, we prayed, cried and hoped. He almost died, but he didn't. He is now in the States recieiveing chemo.

Through the lowest moments as my aunt and uncle, grandparents to this little three year old boy, my aloe plants struggled. This summer, even though I watered them, they turned red and brown.

But as my aunt and uncle have traversed the Camino de Santigo, or the way of James, I can see in their photos and words, new life has been given them. They are finding it again. Suddenly, just this week, after I gave away an aloe plant to help heal one of my friends skin, the three remaining aloe plants have turned green again. Two of them suddenly are sprouting two new sprouts, as though in the act of me giving away the fourth one they are suddenly reproducing. It's as if these plants, know, those who gave them to me, are growing new roots of their own.

We are all connected and may we find our Source of Life from the One who created it, and Loves us and Calls us His own children.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

So....the story of Tony Gallopin continues...and I think it's appropiate to recount it here.

After his day of wearing the yellow jersey and supreme suffering, they all had a rest day. He told everyone later that he sat down with his father, a former pro cyclist, and his fiancee, a pro cyclist as well, and looked at what the next day's race would look like. They realized it was going to be a lot harder than what the race organizers had stated it would be.

So..the played it out, and yesterday, Tony let his legs get used to the bike, and stayed with the pack, then broke away 5km before end. He sprinted so hard UPHILL, that no one could chase him down, and he won the days stage, placing him now 5th in the overall standings, 3 minutes and a little bit behind the Grand Nibabli.

 This gutsy little cyclist is inspiring me, as much phsycially as metaphysically. To have seen his face of extreme suffering, my heart cried out for him. I didn't get to watch the Tour yesterday but to read the news this morning on my mobile that he cycled his heart out, just made me feel warm and fuzzy all over this morning. He has to feel pretty good this morning putting on his jersey and starting out.

Personally, I feel pretty wrung out. I've struggled quite a bit with a chronic kidney issue this year and it takes all of our soul to do so.....however, at the same time, I'm physically in the best shape of my life..and I have found that keep so helps me deal with my chronic kidney issues.

On the emotional and mental end, I feel the need to rest and then go back at the attack when it comes to a lot of different things. I hope during this summer we can restratgize, look at the route ahead us and be ready for the uphill attacks. What a great story and so appropiate for this moment in my life.

On the end note, Gallopin won the stage, but there is a another winner with the young American Talanksy. Apparently with all the rain and falls, he's got a really sore back, and has suffered in everything. He almost quit yesterday, sitting on the side of the road, and even crying in pain. But after a bit,he got on the bike and still made the cut off time for the race, mostly because his coach taked him back on.

Two winners. Both because of the support they received, were able to go on and triumph yesterday. When was the last time you were team support for a winner? When was the last time you relied upon others to finish well? Good questions, ones that I am asking myself today to keep me focussed and pushing on to "the race set before us".

Monday, July 14, 2014

I know this blog has been long forgotten in the last several months, but today I want to revisit it.

First, I have this feeling,and it's been hard to describe, until today. Today, Andrew and I watched the last few minutes of today's stage of the Tour of France. This is a grueling 3 week race that most Americans didn't know existed until Lance Armstrong dominated the scene.

Andrew and I weren't ever fans, until we started to become weekend warrior cyclists. We do some cycling and understand a small portion of what these incredible men do.

One rider today, Tony Gallopin, wore the yellow jersey. He only wore it for today, and he worked so hard to be true to it. He called today's stage, "Four hours of suffering" as these men tried to in pouring rain and then a huge climb up Le Planche des belles filles.

He got to the end, not first, and had to relenquish his yellow jersey. They showed him being stopped after the fnish line, dripping sweat, snot and tears. The aide gently held him up, and talked to him. He then reached over, and uncliped Tony's shoes from his pedals, and gave him a can of Gatorade. He was so exhausted from the effort, he couldn't even unclip his own shoes.

I resemble, and I think my husband too, that a little bit. We've held on here in Granada, in this little community trying to find out what it means to be a community, and find out who God is, and show how much He loves us all, for so long, we are a bit like Tony. The last two years have been a long uphill climb, with a yellow jersey we've earned as far as hanging in there...but we are in need of someone to help us stop and untangle ourselves from the bike for a rest.

Andrew and I deeply hope this summer will be that rest. More on this blog as we wander through this summer and 2014.

Monday, December 30, 2013

I sit alone in a hotel room, just a little over 24 hours left to 2013. I'm in Chicago, and have celebrated Christmas with my family, as well as helped in what I'm calling, the Great Move.

This year has been incredible. I saw three good friends get married, in three distinctly beautiful weddings. I went to two conferences to present my original ideas on Second Language Acquistion, and I was accepted into a PhD program at the University of Granada.

I threw parties, I saw my husband race 2 different olympic distance races and complete them well. I ran my own races, including my first sprint race. I finished.

But the one memory that sticks out in mind, besides the surprise birthday party, the weddings, the joys and the lows, was one of my lower moments this year. The Race I didn't Finish.

It was supposed to be my first sprint triathlon. Surrounded by my team, as I began to swam out, I panicked. My asthma compounded by my nerves created The Perfect Panic Attack. I tried to talk myself out of it. I quoted Bible Verses to stay my soul. It didn't work. I gave up. I raised my arm halfway throug the swim, and the boat came and fished me out of the water.

Andrew was still racing, and so he didn't see it happen. But two men from our team did. Salvador (appropiately named) is a doc, and was worried. He asked if I was ok phsyically. I was.

Julian, our trainer, was also worried. As he walked back with me to the main staging area, he knew I was ashamed and embarrassed. He knew how hard I had trained, how I had run a 5k for the 2nd time in my life 2 weeks before the race to prep for this on.

 After asking if I was ok, he gently talked with me. He has been in the world of triathlon for over 10 years. He said," This happened to me during my first triathlon". Same thing. As he stood there telling me this, I almost cried, and then he said, "And now, I've done two Ironman races."

As of today, he's actually done three.

He used to be fat, smoke, and wheeze from his house to the Metro in Buenos Aires. He is not the same man today.

Just a few days ago, Juli and his wife Liz, and his parents came to our house, and the six of us ate Chinese food and prayed. For love, for hope, for new vision. It was good.

Today, as I sit in my bed, a little sick and really tired, I remember the Failed Race, and I remember what happened afterwards. After that race, I ran 3 more 5k runs, and a 8k run (mostly uphill). I swam three open water races, 2 in the open sea, one in a port. And finally, I finished my first Sprint triathlon. I was last, but I finished.

More importantly than the sports aspect of my life, I have certain things I've failed in or others have failed me in. It is easy to feel embarrased, ashamed, and want to avoid situations. I hope I've learned this year that I don't have to live in that Failed Race syndrome, but I can "throw off the shackles that easily beset us, and the run the race set before us, looking to the author and finisher of our faith."

My new's years hope, run the race, looking to Jesus. New Year, new hope.

Happy New Year.










Friday, November 22, 2013

Sal

This summer we met and heard a musican named Alex Sampedro, I had heard this song before, but when I heard it live, I wept along with the rest of the audience. Below I will translate the song.

El verano pasado, conocimos y escuchamos a un muisco se llama Alex Sampedro. Lo habia escuchado la cancion antes, pero cuando lo escuche en vivo, llore como el resto de publico.






I have a bible that doesn't say anything
A cruxifix that doesn't save
A faith that is tired of mountains
I have prayers with no focus
And I have preached so many times
in the valley of the dry bones
 I have news, but no hearers
I have people waiting for fish
But my nets are broken

The wine is vinegar and the bread has no taste
The salt no longer is salty
The church no longer goes out into the streets
Their light is under a table
and the virgin doesn't care
The yeast is in the fridge
and my armour is rusty
I have silver and gold, but the lame do not dance.

I have failed victories
People in the church building are lukewarm
Missionaries are holed up in their houses
My offering is in the bank
Promises are expired
Mana is frozen
There is no heat or power in the Word
The Keeper of the Gate is partying with the Good Samaritan
They no longer are patient as brothers
They have lost their guts


La cancion es demasiado verdad tanto sobre la Iglesia Catolica que muchas iglesias protestantes.  Pero lo que tengo esperanza esta en Dios, mas que las instituiones humanas.Esperamos que un dia, podremos llegar al menos corrupcion, y podamos ver Dios mas que hombre sobretodo.

The song is too true regarding both the Cathlolic Church and a lot of protestant churches. But I have my hope placed in God, far more than in human institutions. We hope that one day, we can see less corruption and that we can see God above man.

Friday, November 08, 2013

I have realized that this year I have written very little, but for me this has been an incredible year of wandering around the world and yet staying close to home at the same time.

In just a little over a year, I've traveled to three separate countries in order to present my MA thesis, and have had it received quite positively. I didn't write about my time in Poland this year and I have a few memories I'd like to add to this blog.

I traveled alone this time, as the two previous times I had either Liz or Andrew with me. I have traveled alone on various occasions, but this time was rather nerve wracking. My first country in which I didn't know any of the language all by myself since I have been married. I took the bus to Madrid, slept a bit in the airport and then off on the umpteenth Ryanair flight for this year.

It took almost 4 hours by plane to get to Krakow, and then I walked tentatively to the train station, following signs and other travelers. You completely leave the airport, walk down a country road with adorable houses, and then suddenly, you see a grass covered train tracks with other travelers listelessly waiting and think, is this it? and then, where the heck am I going? and will the train be full of Nazi soldiers? Seriously, the train tracks look like something out of Schindlers List.

But the train came, nice and modern and for 3 euros whisked us into the centre of town. I had 3 hours to kill before my next train and fortunately the train station ended in a massive shopping mall with lots of places to shop, eat and explore. It was raining when I thought about stepping out side, and I thought, yah ,that's ok, I'm good.

After an interesting and cheap lunch, coffee at Starbucks and impulse shopping for my husband and myself, I found my next train ride. Now, this was an adventure. The train looked like something out of  a 1970 James Bond film, curtains and worn carpet to boot, and looked like it was pre communism. I couldn't understand my ticket and strangely enough found another American who I found was later bound for the same conference who helped me read where my seat number. In my cabin sat an old, greasy man who munch on massive pretzels and reeked of sweat, vodka and borsct, as well as an older women. When both tried to speak to me and I shook my head and said English, they looked sadly at me.

3 hours through massive hills, trees and adorable houses later, we arrived, and I found our massive group waiting for the 2 hour bus ride and we were off.

I had spotted the prof I wanted to meet and was pleased to find out when we arrived at the hotel, I was just two doors down from her. She caught the same elevator down to the dining hall and we introduced ourselves to each other. I'm not going to mention names to protect the innocent, but she and I and another professor important in my field ended up gleefully eating roast chicken and potatoes together....making friends instantly.

The next day was my presentation, and she and another prof were in attendance. I received a wonderful amount of feedback, and I am forever grateful. I also heard I was accepted into the program at UGR the same day, and so I happily bought drinks for my table at suppertime. We drank dark Polish beers and spoke of the revolution and how we viewed it. IT was fabulous and my Polish colleagues are dear, lovely people. I can't wait to return.

I loved my time at the conference, and next time I hope to see more of Poland. Green, trees, rushing rivers made my two times I went running a pure pleasure, and I don't like running that much. Polish hospitality was wonderful, and I'm so happy to have met all the right people, and I will definitely see this moment as one of the great highlights of this year.