Victor(ious) Spring

If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring. – Victor Hugo

My finger lazily brushed past the books resting unassumingly on the library shelf. “Nope, not you, no thanks, not today. Oh, no, not ever.” The rejected volumes seemed indifferent to their blatant spurning. Finally, my finger came to rest on its target. I heaved the book off the shelf, suddenly aware that it weighed roughly the same amount as a baby. I drew in a sharp breath and sensed that this occasion required a self pep talk. You can do this, Becky. It’s only the size of boulder, it’s fine. You go girl! U-G-L-Y you ain’t got no alibi-wait, no, now’s not the time, Becky – focus!

I didn’t know it at the time, but that day became a turning point in my life. That was the day I turned the first pages of my new favorite book, and unearthed my new favorite author. When I was a junior high school, my show choir did Les Miserables, and as I donned my bonnet (proudly, I might add) and dancing shoes, the music began to absorb into my soul, finding a permanent home. I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. However, reading the book wasn’t high on my priority list.

And not just because it felt more like a large brick with no intention of resisting gravity’s persuasive pull in my hands. Because, I actually have a confession to make. Hold onto your seats, hold onto your socks, hold your horses – whichever is closest (horses, I’m guessing). As much as I might want to lead you to believe through my social media posts that my usual day consists of books, tea, flowers, record players, and all things pretty, it doesn’t. Shocking, I know. My theory is that deep down I’m still a little bitter that I wasn’t born an heiress at Downton Abbey (In fact I’m listening to the soundtrack right now and I’m still annoyed, but whatever). The un-pretty truth is that I don’t really make a lot of room for those things right now, least of all, reading. A more accurate picture of my life would be Parks and Rec on my TV with a plate of nachos resting on my stomach as I half-heartedly wipe off the sour cream I dropped on my sweatpants 10 minutes ago.

All that to say, I knew it would take me a long time to read this book. And, a year later, I’m only half way through it. However, though it is unfinished, it has changed me. I don’t mean to be dramatic as I write this, but I’ve never felt so connected to an author before. Have you ever read a sentence or phrase so dazzling it stops you in your tracks and you’re suddenly aware of how dehydrated your soul has been for this beautiful thought before you now? And it’s like your eyes can’t drink in the words fast enough. That is Victor Hugo’s writing to me. It’s like he anticipated that in 155 years I would be pulling his work off a library shelf, and he wrote every line just for me. We even share the same birthday – so I mean obviously that must mean something, right?!

…I see you over there smiling nervously and backing out slowly. I see you.

The theme woven in his writing that moves me the most is the constant dichotomy between despair and hope, darkness and light, winter and spring. Against all odds, hope, light, and spring somehow always find a way to shine through the bleak and muddied cracks in the concrete. Though all may seem dismal and cold with little hope of light finding its way, it always does. At the root of all this hope, light, and spring is love – love from one person that sparks life into another, which sparks another, igniting a chain reaction in these individual’s stories otherwise surrounded by destitution and darkness, but not overcome by them. Light can quell the darkness, and as long as there is the faintest of flames, darkness cannot overcome light. “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” His writing constantly points me to the goodness of God, who is Love itself.

And that brings us back to the original quote I’ve been letting cycle through my soul. “If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring.” As I sat by the ocean on spring vacation, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face after a long, cold winter plagued with sickness and anxiety, spring felt like a warm, tender embrace. It thawed the frigid air in my lungs, melted the frost threatening to overwhelm my heart. The dawn begins to overwhelm the night and daylight fills my sanguine eyes.

We receive love, and we show it to others, too. I’m not talking romantic love here necessarily (goodness knows I’m not the one to write that blog post), but Christ-given, love-your-neighbor love. And sometimes it’s easy to love. It’s simple and sweet like the gentle summer breeze laughingly lifting the aroma of the wild roses of early June into a cloudless sky. And sometimes, we love through tears in the darkness, through bleak cold, and through rain. But, as long as love still exists there, hope exists there. At the end of darkness is light, at the end of cold is warmth, and at the end of rain is growth.

You feel spring with your senses as well as your soul. Spring feels an awful lot like hope, light, love. In the same way, you feel love not only in a touch. Love can feel an awful lot like the gentle blossoming of spring, a victor over the cold of winter.

And so the words of my favorite author come alive as I sway in my brother’s hammock on the hill by the sea, the newly warm spring air gently kissing the end of my nose with apologies of being gone for so long. They come alive as I hold my baby niece’s cheek against mine, dancing with no music past the picture window in the living room; as my mom and I sit in a coffee shop talking about her childhood and my love deepens for grandparents I never knew; as I sit across from the man who was like a grandfather to me for so many years and who I rarely see now, watching his lips mouth ‘you’re beautiful’ while my eyes fill with unstoppable tears; as I sit in a restaurant, laughing as my family passes around our exotic Mediterranean drinks for each other to try like a frantic game of musical chairs.

And as I stop to look at life during this beautiful and welcome spring, words on a page become real and beautiful.

“If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring.”

You go, Hugo.

Love,

Becky G.

Rhythms.

Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

 

We sat in silence – well, almost silence. The crashes of the cold ocean waves intertwined with exasperated gasps for air following our steady ascent of rocky hills and had created a sort of symphony between strangers. Rapidly pulsing hearts meeting the wild & thunderous pulses of the increasingly lower tide.

My friends & I had decided to take a morning trip to Acadia. As many roads were blocked off for the winter season, we found a small path that led to a vast expanse of ocean, an incredibly popular tourist location during the summer months. Though I had been to this beach several times, my eyes had to readjust as we neared the wild terrain. The beach looked almost unrecognizable without a sea of people on its sands (…get it, sea of people…at the ocean…I swear I need my own show).

After breathing in the perfectly blended perfume of salt air & winter wind and trying not to get our toes wet as the high tide blanketed the unassuming shores, we trekked up a lonely rocky overlook. From the top, we drank in the vast, tumultuous grey-green waters that spilled unconsciously over the earth, roaring and untamable, calming and beautiful.

“Look! The tide’s going out. Aren’t tides amazing? They’re controlled by the moon, and it just happens like the ocean knows what to do.”

“Nature is amazing.”

As I watched the waves fall gracefully onto the shore, I felt wonderfully lost as I tried & failed to comprehend the rhythms of our world. The systems that hold creation together, put in place by God, that are set in motion like clockwork with every new dawn are miracles; seasons, the oceans tides, the rising and setting of the sun, stars brushed across the sky every night, our solar system balanced to each perfect degree. God conducts the world’s symphony with perfectly blended and diverse instruments, from each beat of our hearts to the beating of the ocean waves.

We descended our overlook and marched onto the untouched shore, dancing around the waves that swiftly glided toward us, trying their best to swallow our feet in one gulp. The ocean’s mist lovingly embraced us and watched as we took a few (…or a lot of…?) group photos. Though I couldn’t comprehend the ocean’s beautiful rhythm, I was glad for the reminder to just be thankful that it was always here waiting for me, inviting me to enjoy it.

It’s important to step back every so often; Whether it’s to think to ourselves, what a wonderful world (shout out to Louis!) or to think on our own lives. The rhythms of our everyday tend to lose their charm after a little while. Every time I’m tempted to feel less than thankful, I remember that right now, I’m where I was praying to be five months ago by God’s intimate goodness and grace. And suddenly I remember just how wonderful my daily routine of singing songs, telling stories, getting lunch ready, putting on hats and mittens, wiping away tears, and repeating instructions until I nearly forget I can say words other than, “We still have some more toys that need to be picked up!” really is. I  remember that at the end of the day, I truly love this rhythm.

Our lives don’t beat the same rhythm forever, just as the ocean doesn’t send the same wave to break on the land every time. There is beauty in the everyday, in right now, waiting for us, inviting us to enjoy it. All we must do is remember to climb to up, step back, and look.

Love,

Becky G.

 

 

 

 

I quit my job, and here’s what I’m learning.

I stood silently in front of the coffeemaker as it spluttered and steamed, spitting out the last of the morning’s french vanilla. I thought maybe the tears wouldn’t show up today in defiance of being overworked lately; maybe they would take a break just this once. But of course tears don’t really have an agenda or the courtesy to know when they’re unwelcome. I let them slowly fill my eyes with their rude sting & didn’t bother to wipe them as they slid downward like a child encountering too much friction on a slide; inching along, willing gravity to carry them faster if only it could.

I poured my coffee into the chosen mug of the day (a London travel mug, my favorite), and hugged my mom goodbye. She pulled away and her eyes observed my face with knowing concern and compassion. I don’t like crying in front of anyone, not even my mom. I quickly averted my eyes and dug around in my pocket for the best smile I could find. Not very convincing but it would do. She offered me words of love and encouragement and I stirred them in with my coffee and let them warm my insides. Maybe today will be different.

As I pulled into work, the dark clouds matched the overwhelming dread brewing inside of me like the first heavy & humid whisperings of a consuming rain. I prayed that the claustrophobia I felt in this new job might lift like the clouds mocking me from above. But the clouds & the dread both just hung there, looming closely above, watching, waiting for me to call it quits.

And that’s exactly what I did three weeks ago.

I quit my job. Not without thought, of course. Not without prayer, not without advice from others.

“Thank you. I really do appreciate the opportunity. Buh-bye.”

After I hung up the phone and let out a long breath, my brain immediately stuck up its nose and started giving me knowing side-glances through narrow eyes. Well, well, well. That’s one way to handle a situation. Are you sure that was the best move? D’you think maybe you could’ve consulted me a little more before we made this decision? I mean honestly, I feel like sometimes you don’t even listen to what I have to say anymore. You spend too much time with Heart, he’s brainwashed you. Well, I mean…never mind, you know what I mean. I’m very disappointed in you, Rebecca Elizabeth. How irresponsible. 

Typical Brain.

After a couple days, I sought the company of Heart. He’s always been much less judgy than Brain. He simply greeted me with a warm smile. Things are weird right now. It’s okay, we’ll figure this one out, too. Brain’s just a little scared at the moment, but he’ll come around. It’ll be okay.

I’ll spare the boring details around why I decided to leave my job. It was nothing at all against the company, nothing against my employers or environment. In fact, everyone I met was unbelievably kind and helpful. The struggle was not outward, but inward.

I have learned that it’s important to give things a chance and take steps outside of comfortable boundaries. However, it’s also important to recognize when you might’ve overstepped those boundaries. I was faced with two options: I could stay in a job I knew wasn’t a good fit for me, or I could get out early and try something else. It was my choice to go with the latter.

Sometimes, I still let Brain get to me. I feel to this day like I might’ve made a mistake. Maybe I should’ve given it more time, maybe I wasn’t grateful enough. I think it’s normal for those questions to linger. But in some weird way that I’m just not able to fully see yet, I feel God using my choices, mistakes or not, and inspiring me in new ways that had been lying dormant within me. I’ve had to reevaluate the direction I’m going in. I feel reawakened, hopeful. I love how the Creator always chooses lovely threads of beauty that He intertwines with the struggle. Though the beautiful threads might be frail and subdued for a time, I believe that God reintroduces them into His work and weaves the most extraordinary parts of the tapestry with them. I only see threads at a time, but I take such comfort in knowing that the Father has a planned design (totally didn’t mean to go all Prince of Egypt there, but it happened and I like it so I’m keeping it)…(lai lai lai lai ooh lai lai).

I look forward to what’s next. We take in experiences and if we look for them, we find lessons as we go along. Sometimes life is a little trial and error, and I believe God wants to create beauty even (or especially) out of our mistakes. How gracious and full of love is our God?

I start a new job as a toddler teacher next week, and I am so excited (and a little nervous, I admit). Coming out of my previous job, I was determined to find one in which I could work closely with people. I was hoping I could work with kids, and God provided an opportunity. The verse that has been cycling in my brain lately is John 4:19: We love because He first loved us. My prayer lately is that God would help me better understand and know His love, that I may be able to love others – love these kiddos – more deeply, genuinely, purely.

I still struggle to balance fear of the unknown and the trust that God is still leading me, still creating me with each new day. I know that God is weaving something, steadily working in pace with the beat of my heart. I don’t have the ability to step back and see it as a whole, but in my minds eye, I imagine Him weaving images of dripping tears, dripping french vanilla coffee. He uses warm colors that feel like a hug from my mom. Those are my favorite colors, but I’m just now noticing that the bit of light grey He used for the rainclouds are quite lovely in their own way, too. There, to the top, are distant mountains of the places I see in my dreams. I smile silently as He creates small hands covered in sticky cheerios for me to clean up. I see a lot of unused thread piled in the corner that I wish He would use, to which He lovingly replies, “Not yet. In time.”

My tapestry’s not exactly what I expected it might look like by this point. But I think I like it better, especially at a second glance. It has nice character. But of course, it isn’t finished yet.

With love,

Becky G.

On a side note – a few pictures of my weekend in Mystic, CT with family.

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That we may hear the whisper of God.

It’s been a while since I’ve allowed my fingers to fly across the unassuming keyboard of my computer. Not because I don’t want to write; that’s never usually the problem. I think the truth is, I’ve been afraid of introspection lately because I’m worried about what I’ll find; the things I’d rather ignore. It’s so much easier to distract myself with work, Netflix & books.

Because lately, there hasn’t been much to add to the story. I’ve written before about the struggle I experience still being in my highschool job & feeling like I’m not sure which direction life will go in next. I feel like I can’t quite grasp what the deep passions of my heart are – what do I do with my life that will make it worthwhile? I’m still figuring it out, and in the meantime, it’s hard to wait. It’s hard to grasp the reality of paying off loans for an education I was passionate about by working a job I’m not passionate about. While I love home & my parents are so gracious to me, it’s hard not to feel like the teensiest bit of a burden on them. I feel like I’m being irresponsible, though it’s the last thing I want to be. Why don’t I have everything figured out? Why can’t I figure out which direction to walk in?

I want to be clear – I’m not unhappy. I’m thankful for this life and cannot grasp how much God has blessed me. I just feel like I’ve lost my “oomph.” My faith has been a little shaken, my heart a little downcast as frustration sets in. Because even if no one else in the world is thinking it, to me, I feel like I’m failing. I’m not living up to the expectations I once held for myself. I think that’s what’s the hardest.

…Picture me sharply dressed smiling at you from the glow of your television, waving my hands & doing everything in my power to maintain your attention. Because here is the part where I exclaim, “But wait! There’s more!”

I once heard a pastor say, that sometimes, instead of receiving answers to our prayers, it is enough to simply know that God hears us; to receive a clear message that He’s still working something out for us even if there is no present sign of change. It is enough to sustain us and renew our trust in Him.

There was one day recently I was at work and was for some reason especially reflective about my life (in what little time I had to think in between mad dashes to make coffee or whatever else). I kept thinking about my past expectations of where I thought I’d be at this point. The term “broken spirit” popped into my brain out of nowhere, and it made sense. Yes, I felt like my sprit was slightly broken. As I drove home, “broken spirit” flashed into my consciousness again. I nodded in agreement with the rogue-like words that floated in my mind and offered a silent confession to God. “Lord, I know have a lot to be thankful for. But I can’t help but feel like my spirit has been broken.”

Later that day I opened my Bible to continue reading in Exodus, a book I had randomly decided to read for no particular reason that I can remember (and I love the Prince of Egypt, so sue me). I read verse after verse about how God promises to deliver His people from slavery. He hasn’t done it yet, but He lets the people know that He will, in a mighty and real way.

I stopped and took a sharp breath in as I read this verse: “Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.”

Instantly, I knew why that term had popped into my brain out of nowhere. I knew God wanted my attention. The people of Israel felt so broken. They had endured years (we’re talking hundreds) of waiting for things to make sense. They had waited years wondering why God seemed so silent. They worked for years doing something that obviously was not their first choice for an occupation. They didn’t know if they could trust God because things were hard & they wondered why their answer was so late in coming. They were completely broken in spirit and tired of waiting.

But God did as He promised. Even though they didn’t believe Him, even though they blamed Him for their struggle, even though they had to wait for so long, God still cared about them and was working in their lives for good. I always knew that it wasn’t a hard leap for any of us to compare ourselves to the Israelites, notorious complainers and wanderers that they were later on in the Exodus. But I saw the parallels in a new way. Even before God had begun what was next, even though they were told clearly that God had a plan for them, the Israelites dismissed the notion that He truly cared or would lead them forward.

And so did I. For a brief moment, I lost sight of the truth that He cares about my future. And even though I’ve blamed God time and time again, even though I’ve let worry and doubt run more of my life than Truth and trust, God still, after everything, won’t give up on me. He is still working and He is still leading me into what’s next. God reminded me on that day in a very beautiful way that He’s still preparing me & preparing my way. I have a Ralph Waldo Emerson (aka the Transcendental love of my life) quote on my wall which says, “Let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God.” I love those moments that God whispers to remind me that He’s near. In those moments, it is enough just to know that.

E. Stanley Jones once wrote about the three people that reside in each of us. The first is the one that others see (the outer you). The second is the one you see (the present you). And the third is the one Jesus sees (the future you). He goes on to say that if we focus on what others see, we become an echo, in bondage to what others think of us. If we focus on our present self, we get caught in the bondage of inhibitions, our failures, our regrets. But the “you” that is surrendered to Christ is full of infinite possibilities, because Christ sees our potential far before we see. That is our true person, the one the Almighty God sees. Just as God turned the broken spirits of the Israelites into freedom, joy, and infinite possibilities, so He wants the same for us. I find such comfort in that, knowing that God is still creating me, still preparing me for the infinite possibilities He has in mind that haven’t even touched my radar yet.

I tend to get too ahead of myself, to be too hard on myself. I’m not a failure, I’m just still in an unexpected season. But there is a lot to be thankful for in this season and a lot to be enjoyed within it. I’ve been reminded by the God of infinite wonders that He can work infinite wonders within my life. I will cling to that as I wait and trust. I’m doubtful, stubborn, impatient, & downright childlike at times, but God is still just as merciful and full of grace for me & you as He was for Israel.

Sometimes the wait hurts. But I’m seeing more & more that it’ll be worth it.

With love,

Becky G.

Lessons from Freddie

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a tendency to get really intensely fixated on one fascinating (at least, fascinating to me) thing at a time. It might be a movie, a book, music, musical, person, or idea. I get so excited by this new thing that captures my imagination that it’s nearly all I can & want to think about. It’s actually almost embarrassing. But just almost. Because I know I’m not alone.

Looking back, I should have been insightful enough at the age of 4 to know that this would indeed be my life’s fate when I would insist upon watching Mary Poppins 3 times in a row, probably to my mother’s chagrin. I loved the music, the colors, the magic of jumping into a chalk drawing. It was captivating and wonderful – a new world where riding on purple merry-go-round horses seemed like the grandest thing anyone could possibly ever do. It was a phase at the time, but a love for Mary never really left me, because now at the age of 23, my heart gets full-to-bursting as I listen to my little niece sing “Let’s Go Fly A Kite.” Mary Poppins became a lasting part of me, in a way.

I believe those things that have the ability to stop us in our tracks, knock the wind out of us, & inspire us are powerful. Maybe it seems silly to say that I’ve been profoundly changed by things like Mary Poppins, Lord of the Rings, musical theater, and Jane Austen. But I don’t think it is. Because all those phases of intense fascination have little by little made up who I am. And that’s true for all of us, with our different little worlds of wonder.

For me lately, I’ve been living on planet Mercury.

Freddie Mercury.

…get it? Cause it’s like Mercury is a planet, but also cause of Freddie Mercury? Funny, right? JUSTLOVEME.

You know how you can know about something for a long time and think “Oh that’s nice,” but never really give it a second thought? That was me with Queen. We sang Bohemian Rhapsody in show choir every year in high school & don’t get me wrong, I loved it because…I mean, it’s Bohemian Rhapsody. But that’s pretty much where it ended. I knew a few other songs that everybody knows & listened to it occasionally with Darci, who recognized the greatness of Queen way before I did. I finished high school & left poor boy Freddie on a shelf very far back in my mind. I carried on, carried on.

About a month ago, I stumbled onto some Queen videos on youtube. And that was it. I watched video after video of a young Freddie Mercury, bursting with enthusiasm, passion, talent, creativity. And I was all, Don’t stop me now, cause I’m havin’ a good time, havin’ a good time! But of course I don’t need to tell you how great he was, dear reader, because everyone else in the whole world already knows that he was a genius. It just took me a little while to catch up. I started exploring new Queen songs, watching documentaries, reading books. It sounds so silly as I write it, but it’s true. Freddie Mercury became a new flash of inspiration in my life. Despite being gone for 24 years, his life & work still inspire individuals worldwide. And I suppose there’s nothing silly about that, is there?

He was talented beyond measure, but he was human. The rock & roll lifestyle (I speak from experience, of course) seems to have a tendency to bring out the bad in artists as well as the passion, art, & creativity. I think that underneath his reign of extreme excess & “diva-dom” was a shy boy trying to find acceptance (Rebecca Glidden, Ph.D.). Whatever your opinion, at the end of the day, no one can deny him his rightful throne as one of the greatest talents ever.

So, for all of you who have (understandably so) furrowed your brow at my recent Freddie Mercury posts on facebook, this is my list of why I’m so weirdly obsessed. Not that I really need to explain it, because…it’s Freddie Mercury.

Lover of life, singer of songs This phrase is underneath the statue made of him that overlooks Lake Geneva. When he performed, you can tell he loved what he did. He had real gusto, real passion. Don’t tell me when you watch him prance around the stage, punching the air & raising his fist in victory you don’t feel a prideful surge of “YEAH! We ARE the champions! You’re right, Freddie! All we DO hear is Radio Ga Ga!” He had a special way of connecting with his audience that makes you want to love life right along with him. Creating a sort of escape from the pressures of everyday for his audience, even if for only a little while, is in its own right a noble type of profession.

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Overcomer of adversity The teeth. Despite being urged to get his teeth fixed, he always refused, worrying they would change his sound. And they became a recognizable trademark that just gave him that extra quirk. He turned a boyhood insecurity into something that became okay, good even. He was of Indian background – an Indian British rockstar was not something anyone would have expected. But he took who he was and had the confidence to convince everyone else that unconventional was cool. Like I’ve said before, our quirks deserve to be celebrated.

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Risk taker As someone who has a very hard time taking risks, I’m always amazed by people who can jump out of airplanes or make a new start with nothing, or, you know, “bring ballet to the masses” as Freddie declared he would do. He combined elements into rock that up to that point, didn’t belong there. Ballet, opera, theatrics, bizarre costumes, an old-timey seaside rendezvous? He broke the rules and he didn’t care. He found a way to connect with & involve his audiences at his shows, which usually wasn’t done. He took risk after risk and didn’t ask permission to be different from what everyone else was doing. And it was awesome. It is often only in taking great risks that great things are achieved.

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Innovator He recognized the value of ‘better together.’ He married his art degree, musical ability (along with his million octaves), & interests (theater, opera, old movies) to create his repertoire of work. As well as writing many of the band’s songs, he drew the band’s insignia. He didn’t isolate music from everything else, but brought together his life’s influence to create something much bigger. We all have abilities and passions that when combined, could be a kind of magic.

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The show must go on He kept going until he physically could not. He kept doing what he loved. He kept making more music that he knew he would never finish. There’s sadness in it, but also an admirability. He didn’t throw in the towel and pity himself. He had more songs to give before it was too late. I don’t know, I think that’s brave.

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And maybe most importantly,

“Jaws was never his scene and he didn’t like Star Wars” Me either, Freddie. Me either.

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I’ll add Freddie alongside Mary to my influences & wait for the next fascination to roll around.

In the meantime, you should join me on planet Mercury.

Freddie Mercury, that is.

…get it?

Becky G.

Perhaps you need to take more risks.

“You don’t have the right papers. What exactly are you doing here?”

I stared wide-eyed & terrified. I had come all this way. And now they would send me home. Over before it began.

I gave her all the information I could – emails, letters, phone numbers, everything I could think of. She was beautiful – dark skin, dark eyes, & a sophisticated british accent. But she was stern. And the way she was squinting her eyes at me made me sink deeper & deeper into despair that nothing that I told her would be enough.

“Sit there, I’ll be right back.”

Hastily putting away my laptop & shuffling papers into my backpack, I took a seat as I watched weary travelers, families, businessmen & women, pass through customs with ease. My hands shaking, my mind raced through worst-case scenarios. Sleeping in the airport, back home on the next plane. No internship, no graduation, no degree. I had been so careful to make sure I was prepared & now I was tripping over something that could have been so easily avoided.

I waited for what seemed like an eternity. Person after person trickled through the line, until, out of what seemed like a massive crowd of people, I was the only one left. Waiting, praying in desperation. “Please, God. Please don’t let me have come so far only to be sent home. Please. Please please please please please please. I need Your help.”

She finally came back after an hour. It might not have been, but it certainly felt like it, if not longer.

“Because you’ve been so honest with me, I’m going to let you through.”

Mercy & loveliness & kindness glowed from her face, outshining the traces of sternness still left in her eyes as she warned me to never pull anything like this again (not that I had been trying to). I knew God was with me in those agonizing moments.

I gathered my things and walked through the gate, my heart full of hope, but also a little fear as I walked into the next four months.

It was one year ago today that I arrived in London. That day sticks out in my mind because it was a threshold between everything I knew & jumping into a risk. I never liked that word, risk. I remember my second year of college, one of my professors told me something I didn’t want to hear. “Perhaps you need to take more risks.” I put it out of mind for the next year and a half, but suddenly his wise words were coming alive on every side of me and I had no choice but to walk through them and embrace them.

I didn’t know who was waiting to pick me up, where I would be sleeping that night or who I would be living with. I didn’t really know anything besides the very basics and that terrified me. But looking back on it, I’m glad I didn’t know the details. Because that’s part of the risk, isn’t it? I leaned on God to take me each step, little by little, trusting Him as I went. It was a lesson I needed to learn.

Because He provided. Everything. The risk led to reward. A home, a team, new friends. Not everything was peaches & cream. It was different from what I expected & certainly downright difficult at times, but also more wonderful than I imagined. The sights were grand & the culture equally so. What I miss most are the people. The people I shared life with; roommates & friends, team members, strangers in coffee shops, sweet old ladies at church, children in nursery with deep brown eyes & curly hair; friends with different beliefs & outlooks who invited me into their homes or met me for a movie. Divine encounters, all of them.

They are part of me now. Our stories were woven together for a time. Their smiles & quirks, ideas & stories, passions & talents changed me in their own small ways; Subtle & sweet, like raindrops in a stream – a bit more full than it was before.

I took the risk in order to share the love of Christ. I went to learn. I went to experience. I may have been clumsy at times, but I tried to be faithful with my time there. I’m not there anymore & I have no idea if I made any sort of impact on the lives I had the privilege of knowing. I hope so. But I do know that they impacted mine deeply.

I sit here a year later, breathing in God’s faithfulness, exhaling thankfulness for His caring provision. He took my fear & turned it into joy. I sit here a year later, a bit more full than before. I sit here a year later, having taken the risk, so glad that I did.

Perhaps I need to take more.

Love,
Becky G.

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Celebrating the Quirks

Does anyone look back on middle school with fond memories? I certainly had some good moments & the raddest friends in town, but I think we can all agree that those were dark times…dark times indeed.

I think sixth grade was when it began to matter what others thought of us. Fashion began to matter. I remember beginning to consider what I should be wearing so that I would express myself in a way that others approved of. There was one shirt in particular that all of the girls started to wear. When I found out that it could be found at American Eagle, the place for our Mean Girls, Usher Usher, leggings, Ugg boot generation to shop, I begged my mom to take me. I remember my first purchase: an ill-fitting, generic, overpriced shirt that my poor mother agreed to pay $30 for because I wanted it so badly. But I was proud of that shirt because I was now sporting the label that I thought I needed to make me interesting & cool. I think we all know the end of the story. I became the most popular girl in school and everyone loved me and vowed their allegiance to me until the end of all time.

No.

Nobody cared. I didn’t even really like the shirt, to be honest. I quickly learned that it just wasn’t worth the effort to try and be like everybody else. Not only that, it was boring. So I ditched the shirt and made the decision to surround myself with friends who wouldn’t care that I wasn’t wearing what was in style or that I was a little weird (or a lot weird) with my peculiar obsession with Lord of the Rings and elves and musicals. They appreciated my weird quirks and even celebrated them alongside me. Because isn’t that what we need? People who say, “I see that you’re a little weird. Mind if I join you in that?”

I’ve never been the “I-Do-What-I-Want-And-I-Don’t-Care-What-Anyone-Thinks” kind of girl. I’m too sensitive for that. But, I’ve learned to love what makes me kind of kooky and different from others. What makes us weird makes us, well, us. Us to our cores. And that’s good.

Here is a little of what I’m made of.

I’m very sensitive to sounds. I have misophonia, which is “the hatred of sound.” If someone is chewing loudly (especially anything crunchy), it makes me swell with annoyance and anger. It’s like a switch that turns on and I have no way of turning it off until the sound stops. I try not to outwardly react, because I always feel bad. Movie theaters are rough (popcorn and I are not friends).

I had themed birthday parties through highschool. Few things thrill me more than planning an event I’m really excited for. I like doing the research, buying the materials, making the decor, preparing the food, etc. I went through a Pride & Prejudice phase during the year I turned 17, so I had a Pride and Prejudice themed birthday party. The year after that, I had a murder mystery party. I was way too old for themed parties, but hey, we had a blast. I might do a themed party this year, who knows?

I can’t burp. I shouldn’t say can’t. When I do, it’s small & miraculous. Most of the time I just make weird gurgle sounds in my throat. Gross, but true.

When I hiccup I sound like a dinosaur. Or a zombie or ringwraith or something like that.

I have a weird vendetta against Dyson vacuums. The way Dyson talked in the commercials has always bothered me for some reason, so on that reason alone, I refuse to ever buy one for as long as I live.

I eat my food in order of what I like least to best. Usually it’s vegetables first.

I like to find any excuse to wear red lipstick. Because, classy.

It takes me forever to decide. I’m a textbook over-thinker. If I’m trying to decide which juice to buy, I literally go through all the pros and cons of each choice. It’s taken me an hour to decide what to watch on Netflix before. I wish I was joking.

If I’m home, I’m in sweatpants. If I don’t have to be socially acceptable, I won’t.

I like old things. Antiques, old books, old houses, old clothes, old movies, old people. Love ’em.

I hate the feeling of wooden utensils. I’d rather just not eat than use them.

I can do the ‘live long and prosper’ thing with my left hand, but not my right. (I’m not a Star Trek fan, for the record).

You can call me anything but Becca. Call me Ol’ Al Judson for all I care. Just not Becca.

Those are some of the things that make me me. Not always pretty, but that’s okay. I’d love to know some of the interesting things that make you you. Feel free to comment and share so we can celebrate the quirks together.

Love,

Becky G.