Category Archives: Joy

The Smitten List.

Smitten: affected by something overwhelming; to be really taken by; infatuated; enamored.

Right outside of the botique where we found her wedding dress!

Ladies and gentlemen: without further ado-I give you: the smitten list.

  1. 1. Christy is engaged. Christy! Is! Engaged! That boy of hers finally popped the question on a frosty December night under a thousand twinkle lights.  She was positively swooning when she called me at 2:00 AM, and I was so over-the-moon that I sat bug-eyed and upright in my bed until my alarm jolted me back to reality at 6:00! Two weeks later when she flew home, I was temporarily blinded by her ring in the Charlotte airport-an unfortunate inevitability that subsided in enough time for me to help her say yes to the dress. She was so breathtaking that I cried like a small, emotionally disturbed child-it was one of those moments that will spring to her mind later when they ask if there were any signs. Also, given that wedding planning doesn’t necessarily make her heart go pitter-patter, her impending nuptials have given me a fantastic excuse to implement creative ideas like this one:

I promise you that his bride fell in love with him all over again.

On July 7th, Christy Seamon and David Noyd will become Mr. and Mrs-and a crowd of overjoyed former STINTers will reunite. …I just hope we’re a bit cleaner than the last time that we were all together.

2. Have I told you I’m co-leading a women’s Bible study? Probably not, given that the alleged date of my last blog was in November. But now that I AM telling you about them, you should know that they’re the bomb dot com. I am completely smitten with them. Every Thursday night, I sit down over copious amounts of baked goods [diabetics would be well-served to find a different small group] with a group of women who previously didn’t know each other. And we talk about everything. From what color our undies are [okay, maybe not the best first icebreaker question ever] to the pieces of our hearts that God is softening and making more like Himself. They make me want to be a better man.

3. The Fratties. I love them. Even if they do mock me mercilessly every time I wear heels or the color pink. They’ve been systematically trying to shame the estrogen out of me-if you ever pop in for lunch at the office, don’t ask for “Ashley” at the front desk. In an effort to butch me up, they’ve all taken to calling me “Peterson”.

4. I was home for Christmas. There is much to say, but I’ll leave you with this:

http://sermons.summitrdu.com/sermons/?sermon_id=235

It was one of my very favorite parts.  “A thrill of hope-a weary world rejoices!” I think I love Christmas because I love the idea of hope. A reason for a broken, tired world to REJOICE. Praise Jesus for hope.

An early morning in Utah-we were on a ski lift going up a mountain about ten minutes after this was taken. Bliss.

5. I just spent one glorious week snowboarding in Utah with Kellan and his family. There was snow. There was a hot tub. There was the most divine caramel latte I’ve had since August. And there was, as it so happens, one mildly embarrassed, over-caffeinated brunette dragging her bruised hiney around Park City, wondering at what point over the past six years she lost the ability to snowboard.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

4 Comments

January 16, 2012 · 2:42 am

I Choose You. [Today, and Every Day.]

This series of pictures is candid-I happened to have my camera beside me one day last summer.

This Wednesday [May18th], the world will remember a spring day twenty six years ago, when John Peterson and Cindy Wescott said “I choose you” and sealed the deal with a little bling. The unspeakable hype surrounding William and Kate was all well and good [and really, did you see her dress? Divine.]-but in a world where McDonalds hamburgers last longer than most marriages, I think the real celebration ought to be reserved for those few couples that have spent a lifetime making good on “’Till death do us part”.

And my parents have. As I pack away my childhood in a trunk full of  spelling tests, book reports, and one embarrassingly oversized sticker collection, the ramifications of growing up with parents that are impossibly in love and committed to working at their marriage begin to sink in. In choosing to love each other unconditionally, my parents have provided a tangible example of the tender way that Jesus loves me since the day I was born. It’s the awe-inspiring power of the covenant of marriage: I will do my part even if you do not do yours. And isn’t that was Jesus says to me every morning as my eyes flutter open and I stumble towards my coffee pot? Ashley, I will do my part even if you do not do yours. I will speak to you even if you don’t speak to me. I will pursue you even if you don’t pursue me. I will love you even if you don’t love me. I will send my Son in your place even if you don’t deserve it. I will forgive you even when you don’t ask for it. I will, I will, I will-even if you won’t. And there is nothing that can separate you from My love!

Faith is a romance. God is perfectly loving-the Bible says that it’s not simply something that He does, but it’s something that He is. And while my parents are far from perfect, they’ve modeled that kind of willing self sacrifice for me for as long as I can remember.

Twenty six years later, my parents are still dating.  Twenty six years later, my Dad still randomly walks in the front door at the end of a long day with a big grin on his face and a dozen red roses hidden behind his back. [As evidenced by the nauseating picture series that I candidly snapped last summer when I just happened to have my camera around to document just such a “just because” moment.] Twenty six years later, unsuspecting grocery store cashiers still have nowhere to run as my gushing Mother regales them with stories of how she’s the “most happily married woman she knows”.  Twenty six years later, there are still hidden love notes, stolen kisses in the kitchen, and hours spent talking on the back porch on long summer nights because they endlessly enjoy each other. Twenty six years later, my parents are still so crazy in love, they can neither think, see, or speak clearly. Or spell. Or recite the Gettysburg Address. Or perform differential equations.

And really, I think that’s how it ought to be. William and Kate may get all the press-but John and Cindy Peterson get happily ever after.

[To read a letter my Mom wrote about my Dad on their 25th anniversary, check out I [Still] Do.]

1 Comment

Filed under Family, God's faithfulness, Joy

S’Wonderful.

At my favorite place in all of Senegal.

Last Thursday began like any other in Dakar. The drunken lullaby of the mosque wafted over my sleepy African city as I slowly awoke, stumbled off the floor, and went to make a pot of hazelnut crème coffee.

As I sat curled up on the couch reading and drinking a steaming mug of said coffee, I was blithely unaware of the fact that the person I’ve missed more than anybody was impatiently sitting upstairs.

 Goodness, if I’d only known!

At 5:00 AM that morning, while the rest of the world was still asleep, Ben had picked Kellan up at the airport. After our team meeting, Ben and I walked over to a local rooftop café for our weekly team leader meeting.

I walked out onto the roof with sopping wet hair and a dirty t-shirt [because hey, what did I care what I looked like?

At my favorite place to eat Senegalese food in Dakar. It's essentially a shack on the side of the road.

I live in Africa.]-…and sitting at a wooden table looking every inch the calm, together man that he is, was Kellan.

Constraints of the English language make it entirely impossible for me to convey the depth of my utter shock. I stood there frozen-staring at the man that occupies the better part of my daydreams, unable to reconcile what I saw with what I adamantly believed to be impossible. He looked like my boyfriend-but my frantic mind was grasping for an explanation. I had to be dreaming or hallucinating-I was convinced that the African sun had finally gotten to me and I was experiencing a total break from reality. There had to be some explanation-because there was no way Kellan was in Africa. I knew exactly where he was-he was in the middle of his final exams back in Chapel Hill. And he’d wanted to come visit but couldn’t-he’d told me so himself. I knew his schedule-he didn’t have time to fly to Senegal! My baffled mind raced with a thousand protests and unreasonable explanations.

Going out to dinner Kellan's first night in Dakar. I was still such a mess-something I figured out when I realized halfway through dinner that my dress was on inside out...

But all of the sudden his arms were around a violently shaking me, and I was wondering where my legs had gone as I melted into the floor and desperately tried to will my nervous system into latency.

The thing is, I’ve spent a lifetime carefully perfecting my “faux-stunned” face. I’m not simply the kid that unwrapped and rewrapped Christmas gifts under the tree-that’s junior varsity. No, I’m the girl that found a book series meant for Christmas morning stashed away in my parents room back in September-and read every single book by October. My surprise sixteenth birthday party? I knew what the invitations looked like before they’d ever been sent out. [Sorry, Mom and Dad!] I can’t think of a surprise in my life that I didn’t know about well in advance-but thankfully, I long ago mastered the subtle art of deftly arranging my facial expression into a something that suggests I’d had no idea all along.

Really. I should get an Oscar.

However, as good as I am, there’s no faking this…

Or this…

Or this…

And definitely not this…

This series of wildly unattractive pictures of me brought to you by “The Story Is Too Good To Hide The Evidence.” In theatres Friday.

Tea and chocolate macaroons at one of my favorite bakeries!

He’d kept the secret from me the only way that could have worked-by not telling anyone on my team until two days before he boarded his flight. Without ever letting on, he’d singlehandedly booked his trip, taken all of his exams early, and coordinated the myriad of the inescapable details that accompany getting to and from Senegal. When I finally regained the elusive power of speech that morning [and believe me, it took a while], all I could say was “What are you doing here?”. To Kellan’s great amusement, I must have asked a thousand times.

I spent the six days that followed lit up like Christmas. It was embarrassing-I had student after student tease me about the fact that I was “glowing”. [Luckily, they were saying it in French-so Kellan was blissfully unaware. ;)] The days were a dizzying, perfect blur-full of all the things I’ve spent months wishing I could show him.

It’s one thing to hear stories-but another thing entirely to live them. I took Kellan to all my favorite places and introduced him to the people in Senegal that have left an indelible mark on my life. We didn’t do anything

2:00 AM-taking him to the airport to fly home.

out of the ordinary-he seamlessly stepped into my life in Dakar as though he’d been there all along. We cooked together in my drab little kitchen on the hotplate, ate dinners with my team, sat on my beach, bought fruit from Mohammad the fruit stand man, walked through my city, and talked with my sweet Muslim friends. One morning, no fewer than ten of those friends came over to listen to Kellan talk about how Jesus has changed both his life, and the way that he approaches our relationship. The longing in their eyes as he talked was heartbreaking-the way he talked about Jesus resonated with a deep-rooted need in their hearts that will be satisfied by nothing else. Most of them have never met a man like him-and the stark difference between Kellan and their Muslim Fathers, brothers and boyfriends was unmistakable. They saw Jesus so clearly that day-and in an unforgettable way that I never could have conjured up.

We packed more into six days than I would have thought possible-and before I knew it, we were climbing into a rickety old taxi at 2:00 AM to go to the airport. He was gone before it had really sunk in that he was even there. Those six days in Dakar were incredible-…and account for my recent blogging hiatus. But never fear-I’m back!  And we’ll leave this particular story here for now-because if we didn’t, I’d have no choice but to start getting really sappy and posting pictures like this:

And that? That might be too much for a Monday afternoon. :)

4 Comments

Filed under Joy, My favorite people, Senegal

A Foggy Day in Georgetown.

I had no intention of writing about cupcakes today.

Really, I didn’t.

But it’s already been an impossible week- and today is only Wednesday. I promised myself two months ago, when this story happened, that I’d save it to tell on a day when I needed something wonderful to remember out loud. After all, the stories that you savor in your mind-those are the ones that are most worth writing down.

And this-this was just the most marvelous day.

A week and a half before I flew back to Africa, a rainy Sunday afternoon found Kellan and I in Georgetown. Georgetown is one of the more charming places aux Etats-Unis-if I couldn’t have a foggy day in London Town, this was certainly the next best place to spend a wet, watercolor day! As we strolled down M street with our umbrella, looking in each new store window felt like opening one Christmas gift after another. Meticulously staged window displays boasted elegant, couture designs from Milan and Paris. There was a gourmet food shoppe full of pretentious sounding wines and exotic looking flowers that made me wonder what sort of colorless, flowerless existence I’d been leading for 23 pathetic years. Lilies and gardenias were neighbored by barrels of long, golden brown baguettes  meant to be paired with cheeses that I’d never even heard of [this from the girl that grew up in Europe!], and a long glass case was home to enough Swiss chocolate truffles to make my head spin. And just as we’d said “Auf Wiedersehen” to the truffles, we stumbled upon a musty bookstore with gloriously overstuffed armchairs begging for Dostoyevsky and an endless, cloudy afternoon of reading. [And really, is there any better way to spend a rainy Sunday?] Just around the corner, a quaint little French café served each steaming latte with leaves and flowers carefully etched into the espresso while the strains of Debussy echoed softly in the background. Cezanne and Degas graced the walls, and indeed, I was quickly certain that if I closed my eyes for the briefest moment, I would open them and find myself sitting in a Parisian café sipping a chocolat chaud by the Seine. Everything was simply perfect to me.

And then, there were the cupcakes.

Cupcakes: the “it” dessert of our life and times. [At least this week!] Who would have thought? But as Kellan pointed out with a rather resigned grin and only the slightest hint of an eye-roll, if you charge five dollars for a cute little cupcake and put it in a pretty pink box, unsuspecting women like me will bite every time.

Especially if we’re biting into a dreamy cream cheese, Valrhona chocolate mint piece of heaven wrapped in a bow. Be still, my beating heart.

In Georgetown Cupcake! ...ignore the beaming brunette on the right.

In college, my friends and I had occasionally watched TLC’s “Georgetown Cupcake” show, and it had long been a quiet dream of mine to visit the acclaimed bakery itself . [Dream big, friends.] The sheer absurdity of that charming little cupcake shop on M Street is that there’s always a line hours long wrapped around the block. And who wants to stand in line for hours for a little bit of flour and water?

Guilty. So, very guilty.

That afternoon, Kellan and I rushed past Georgetown Cupcakes-and an irrepressible, delighted gasp escaped before I could help it. Even from the window I could see tiered cake platters stacked high with the most perfect cupcakes I’d ever seen-each garnished with that garish “signature swirl” I’d been daydreaming about for years. Even in the misty rain, there was a half hour line of eager people braving the cold in hopes of realizing their Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake dreams.  Or perhaps they were waiting for the Irish Cream. Or the Salted Caramel. Or the Lava Fudge. But with great expectation, they were all excitedly waiting.

Honestly, I never would have been that girl. That girl that makes her boyfriend spend half an hour in the freezing rain for an overpriced cupcake? Those girls are horrid.

But much to my [ecstatic!] chagrin, my sweet boyfriend insisted that we join the ranks of the wet and impractical, and stand in line for a Mint Cookies and Cream cupcake.

My heart skipped a beat. My heart skipped a lot of beats. It does that around him.

Determined to prove a point [what exactly, I am not entirely certain], I protested vehemently. I told him that I couldn’t care less about a dumb cupcake-that  for that much money, we could make a whole cake at home. Or nine. I mocked the masses pitifully standing in line in the rain-pointing my little nose in the air and reveling in my newfound sense of faux-practicality.

Gloriously, Kellan knows me much too well to believe for a second that I’m even slightly practical, and before I could say “White Chocolate Peppermint” we had become the last two people in line. I was positively elated-there was a six year old little girl with her Mom standing in front of us, and it was a toss-up as to which one of us was more excited! After a very wet half hour, we finally made it inside-and my wide eyes took in the rows of flawless cupcakes with all of the pent up glee of a four year old on Christmas morning. It was utterly impossible to pick-and so we decided to embrace the impractical and try every kind of chocolate cupcake they had. [After all, why bother with any other kind?] And there we sat-with our box of cupcakes and steaming mugs of coffee, wet and deliriously happy as the rain pelted the window overlooking M Street.

Well, I was deliriously happy. But while Georgetown Cupcake was the culmination of all my cupcake hopes and dreams, I am almost certain that Kellan had never given cupcakes any thought at all. [Imagine that.] I hope he loved it, though-because I recently discovered that their menu changes every month…

…and I have yet to try the Chocolate Hazelnut. :)

Leave a comment

Filed under Joy, My favorite people

Of Discontentment and Faith.

Four days ago, I learned that for various reasons, my team may be flying home on June 30th.

It’s only a day sooner than that July 1rst flight-…but it’s June. June. Something about that one missing day has made the inescapable reality that I will soon be flying home for good more tangible to me. My days of rice and sand, 6 AM calls to prayer and relentless heat, marriage offers and Muslim women, are numbered.

That number is 85.

About a year ago, I titled this blog “Audacious Faith” in hopes of learning what the audacity of actually taking God at His word might look like. I wondered how Senegal might change-how my life might change-if I lived like I really believed that God was as big and powerful and loving as He says He is. The greatest moves of God throughout history have been in response to absolutely audacious requests from people who really believed in His exclusive power to save-and I wondered what might happen if I began to live my life with a sort of reckless daring that necessitated great moves of God.

And now I find myself with only 85 days left to do that in Dakar.

Lately, I’ve been delving into Hebrews 11. You probably know that this is the “Hall of Fame” chapter that upon a cursory reading, seems to simply laud men and women who “by faith” accomplished astounding things for God. And these are the greats-people like Joshua who had the audacity to ask God to literally make the sun stand still because he needed a couple of extra hours of daylight to kick some Amorite tail. [Ha, and you’re talking to the girl that had trouble believing that God could get her through track season.]

I’d read Hebrews 11 many times before. It was orange highlighted and underlined to beat the band-but somehow, I’d managed to entirely miss the point. The chapter begins by defining faith as “being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.” If I hope for something, I clearly don’t have it yet. Hope implies discontentment. And discontentment screams “This is not it! The ways things are right now is not how they will be. There’s more.”

The idea that discontentment is foundational to faith was rather startling to me. Faith anticipates a better day-it anticipates that the promises of Christ will come true no matter how much it has to fight for them or how long it takes.

Faith simply believes-and then it acts. Faith moves. Faith perseveres.  

Hebrews 11 is a vault containing a lengthy list of people that  really believed. Noah building a mammoth boat in the middle of the desert, ignoring the condescending taunts of his neighbors and friends, confident that it was going to rain. Joseph asking the Israelites to make sure that when God called them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, they took his bones with them. [And why is that one noteworthy? It was 300 years before the Exodus. Joseph had no idea when or how the Israelites would be freed-but he knew somehow, sometime, God would do it.] Samson, Moses, David, Samuel-people that didn’t have the foggiest idea when or how but they knew God was going to move.

And the glorious news is this: they’re not the point.

Hebrews 11: 13-16 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country-a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

The million dollar question: why was God “not ashamed” [I think it’s fair to say that that’s an understatement for “proud”] to be called their God?

It wasn’t the boats that were built, the seas that were parted, or the cities that fell. It wasn’t even because some of them were martyred. In an entirely counter-intuitive spin, God was proud to be called their God because of what HE had done for THEM. He’d prepared a “city” for them-and in the midst of a listing of great acts of faith, He is simply proud of what He did, and their desire for it. Each of those “greats” had one thing in common: they were discontent. And in the midst of that discontentment, they truly believed that God was better than life itself. Worth looking absurd for, worth leaving home for, worth living for and worth dying for. Their desire for God-for what He had already done for them-calls attention to His superior worth over all that the world has to offer.

Neither Hebrews 11, nor my life or yours, is about us. Our greatest acts of faith [which we are indeed called to make!] are insignificant in light of what God has already done for us-reconciled us to Himself through Jesus. And He is delighted with us not because of what we have done-but because of what He has done.

To an often faithless girl like me, that’s exceedingly good news.

4 Comments

Filed under God's faithfulness, Hope, Joy, Musings

Uncomfortable.

My Grandma came to say goodbye to me! ...mostly because she's convinced that Africa is going to kill me.

I hate the sound goodbye makes.

And really, you’d think by now, I’d be used to it. Let’s remember that I wasn’t even supposed to fly home for another six months when my doctor told me I needed to fly back to Raleigh. That two month hiatus in the US was forced bonus time with friends and family-and I really wanted to be back in Dakar.

Mostly.

But after I hugged Kellan goodbye at my gate and turned away to walk onto the plane, I froze on the jetway and tears sprang to my reluctant eyes. Much to the amusement, I might add, of the neon green vested security officer that couldn’t quite make out what to do with the pitiful basket-case who was suddenly telling him her life story as rivers of mascara ran down her face.

It’s the thing I’m not supposed to say, but it was hard to actually walk down the jetway and onto that plane. Hard to walk away from a life that I really, really love in North Carolina-and towards the foreign, uncomfortable life that was waiting in Senegal. Even if Senegal is where I’m supposed to be.

Saying goodbye to my parents at the airport.

Make no mistake-I adore the women that I work with, and my team…well, that one’s a given. :) But there is no piece of life in Dakar that is easy or comfortable.

And that’s okay. It’s okay because two years ago when I first landed in Dakar and in an absolute panic wondered what on earth I’d done, God started teaching me that He’s better than all of the things that I miss back home. He’s not only better-He’s enough. Joy is only found in knowing Jesus-I have been perfectly loved, and my life ought to be a response to that. Love is, at its core, the costly effort to enthrall the beloved with what will bring him most joy-namely God Himself. [Piper.] Jesus did it for me, now I very

Taking Em out to coffee one last time the day before I left.

tangibly get to love Muslim women in a way that “costs” me something. Not a lot by any stretch of the imagination, but something.

And this uncomfortable grace has taken me where I had not intended to go in order to produce in me what I could not produce in myself-a heart that is slowly beginning to value the Giver more than His gifts.

When God calls, there are no regrets.

Kellan and I at the airport.

 I am not called to a place-I am called to Jesus. I am not called to comfort-I am called to obedience. There really is no joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving Him-of that much, I am entirely convinced! But it’s something I have to remind myself of time and time again.

I only have 103 days left in Dakar. I feel like God is asking me to “leave it all on the court” over the course of these next brief months-and to love the women around me in the reckless, uncomfortable, irrational way that I have been first loved. Jesus held absolutely nothing back in loving and pursuing me-the way that I interact with people around me should be no different.

Come to think of it, if I’m not uncomfortable, something’s probably wrong…

4 Comments

Filed under Family, God's faithfulness, Home, Joy, Musings, My favorite people

Of Things Unseen. [He Writes Better Stories.]

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

 

A year ago today, I was trapped in the throes of one of the most excruciatingly miserable weeks of my life. [Let’s just say that in my humble opinion (and not that I normally have one), the world would be an infinitely better place if we just built a concrete wall around Cote d’Ivoire and tossed some lighter fluid and a match inside. And that’s my final word on the matter.] New Years Eve found Christy and I vehemently swearing up and down that we were going to leave Senegal, shake the dust off of our [dirty] heels, and never look back. I believe there was even a lengthy discussion entailing a Walmart rubber dingy and detailed speculation as to whether or not we could feasibly row one across the Pacific. [And let me tell you, had we been able to find a Walmart on this continent, there is a 99.79% chance we would have tried it.]

…to my retrospective embarrassment, we were also belting “God Bless America” at the top of our exhausted, enthusiastic little lungs with more pent-up patriotic passion than the 4th of July, and making lists of resolutions comprised of things like “stay stable” and “don’t eat chocolate chip pancakes and rice for every meal.”. But that story may be best left locked up in the vault.

My grand plans, if any, entailed muddling through the rest of my time in Senegal, SPRINTING back to the land of the free, kissing the tarmac in beautiful Raleigh and then spending the remainder of my days curled up in a gloriously overstuffed chair at Starbucks conducting research on just how much caffeine the human body can tolerate. 

From my point of view, there just wasn’t much to see standing on the brink of 2010. The brink, in fact, looked rather dire and bleak. And then, Lord help us all, Jesus asked me to commit another  year of my life to Dakar! [The nerve.] Believe you me, if you’d offered me a million dollars and an espresso machine I still wouldn’t have been able to hazard a guess as to His reasoning. I suppose that’s why He’s God and I’m not.  Last year, Jesus very tangibly asked me to “fix my eyes on what is [was] unseen”, and in faith, follow Him and trust that He knew what on earth He was doing. Faith is, after all, a belief in what you can’t see.

Can I tell you something that’s absolutely thrilling to me? Now, a year later, I can “see” some of what He had up His sleeve. And it makes me want to hand Him this next year, too!

I am inexpressibly grateful that Jesus had grander plans for me than my aforementioned Starbucks sit-in, and that I listened. It’s been difficult-make no mistake. I try to be really honest about that here-if you’ve been reading for any length of time, you know full well that following Jesus back to Africa has entailed tears and homesickness and more than a few temper tantrums. But now, standing on the brink of 2011, I am extraordinarily excited to follow Him through this next year. Goodness, if this last year is any indication, there’s no question that I’ll miss out if I don’t! I started thinking yesterday about what wouldn’t have transpired had I ignored Him in 2010 and hopped in that rubber dinghy.

Aside from becoming shark bait, I wouldn’t have met Miriam. Or Bineta. Or Aya. Or Fatou Ba. Or 1,000 other girls that have names and faces and stories too-stories that have drastically altered every shade and subtle nuance of my life.

 I would not have become betrothed to sweater vest man very much against my will, and consequently would not be cheating on him with the Mohammad the fruit stand man.

 Come to think of it, if I’d gone with my plan, Ben and Dayton wouldn’t be in my life. And a year and a half after meeting

With some of my girls. Miriam is to my immediate left, Aya is to the right.

 those boys, it is entirely impossible to imagine life without them. They’re part of my family, now.  

If I’d opted for my plan, I wouldn’t have gotten to traipse through Europe with some of the most fantastic people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting.

I wouldn’t have gotten to watch twenty six people fall in love with Senegal and what God’s doing here on the crazy ride that was our summer project.

And if I’d gone with my plan, there’s a boy I wouldn’t have met. Granted, we then would have avoided the whole “I’m sorry I crunched your laptop screen to smithereens” conversation,  [another story I’m locking up for now] but crunched screen and all- I’m glad that he came into the picture.

That’s just for starters.

My point here is that Jesus is good. Really, really good. And He’s worth following. There is so much hope and promise that comes with this new year-not because I have great plans, but precisely because I don’t!  Jesus does. Which sounds trite until you realize that’s it’s actually true. And then…well, that changes everything, doesn’t it?

So here’s to relinquishing our colorless dreams, dwarfed goals, and timid, elementary plans-because we were created for so much more.  Here’s to allowing Jesus to author our stories this next year- when it’s excruciating and uncomfortable, and when it’s effortless and exciting-because at the end of the day, it is always, always worth it. His stories are infinitely better than ours, anyhow.

To things unseen.

Cheers!

2 Comments

Filed under God's faithfulness, Holidays other than Christmas, Joy, My favorite people, Senegal, Summer project, Team