Saturday, December 30, 2006

christmas break

I’m finally adding an entry to this blog, which I so ambitiously began by telling everyone I’d write every week. Laughable, I must say.

Anyway, here’s another go. I’m in Colorado now and will manage to be here a whole week, which is much longer than I would have thought this time seven days ago. The original plan was to fly out on December 20, for pre, mid, and post-Christmas chilled-out-ness in good old Monument. Then yesterday we were supposed to leave for a road trip to LA for New Years, via Durango and the Grand Canyon (which I’ve never seen). Both plans were cruelly foiled by back-to-back blizzards of “Monumental” proportions (we like to call the Crowley house the epicenter of said storms—it seems as if the clouds prefer to hover over us for days on end).

You can imagine my angst when I discovered that my flight home from Michigan was cancelled and could only be rescheduled for Christmas Eve. With the road trip plans looming, that would give me a total of three days at my lovely Christmasy, mountainous house. I kept thinking about how Christmas would be over before it had even officially begun!

I lugged my snowboard along with me on the plane on Christmas Eve, praying I’d get to use it in Durango for a day. By the time the day after Christmas rolled around, it was clear there was another storm on the way, and everybody seemed pretty content with flying to California, instead of driving. We took an emergency trip up to Winter Park, to get our snowboards some use, and proceeded to sit in traffic for way too long. Not to mention, I had some of the worst altitude sickness I’ve had that day, so it was not quite what I’d hoped.

Nonetheless, I felt a lot of the tension drain right out of me the minute I knew I’d get to rest at home for awhile before New Years. It’s been really quiet around here, thanks to Blizzard 2006 Part II (the most eventful thing that happened was a UPS truck getting stuck in our driveway), and I’ve done some snowshoeing, some cooking, and some watching of good movies. But I’ve also had a chance to realize that my holiday priorities and perspectives have changed drastically as a result of this very strange week and a half. I’m starting to think that God used the minor catastrophe of being stranded in Ann Arbor to help me finally enjoy the holidays for once. I’ve had some good Christmases in my day, but for the most part, as is the case with most much loved aspects of life, I’m always anxious about making sure to enjoy this while it lasts. There is always this panicky urgency to have the perfect Christmas ever. What the heck IS that? It must be common enough, since they’ve made a bunch of movies about that feeling. Anyway, this is so me. In my frenzied desire to enjoy life, I completely miss the bus and end up mourning my lost opportunities to enjoy life. That angst that I felt about missing Christmas altogether? I’m looking at that now thinking that I’m glad everything worked out the way it did. I’m that much more grateful to be here at all, and I’m that much more open to seeing the blessings that are mine.

For one thing, I got to spend four days of my Christmas vacation with Kevin, which was definitely an unexpected and awesome blessing. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye in the first place. Now I'm missing him terribly.

So this has been a really good holiday, if only because it was hard to come by. I’ve gotten lots of unexpected rest and a chance to recoup from a rather difficult December.

Jenni asked about our most treasured gifts this week:

1) chef’s knife and paring knife by Wusthof from Kevin (I’d been wanting new knives but never said a word about it) and a postcard of a little girl hanging her head over the end of a dock
2) wooden salad bowl, perfect for salads for two, from my Dad
3) Little Miss Sunshine from Evan
4) one of those heatable/chillable body wraps with eucalyptus and mint from my Mom, for relief of stress and other, errr, discomfort
5) rest, much needed but rarely truly gotten, from Jesus. Thank you.

inaugural blog

In the name of second (or third or fourth) chances, I'm sticking with blogger despite its being completely IMPOSSIBLE! I don't know why it's been such a nightmare for me to even log in. Nevertheless, this blog was one I created six months ago but could never find again, which suddenly popped up when I was trying to find my new blog! grrr. Anyway, this entry was written on November 12, and i'm giving this whole blog thing another try:

My friend Linn writes her “dear ones” letters from Africa, maybe every other week. They are zesty, like orange peel. Like the Food Network. What I mean is: I just can’t get enough. Every time I get that special email from Linn, I just have to sit back and get cozy, even if that means pushing something else back in the schedule. I’ve been to her home in Africa, so maybe that’s why I can picture everything she describes. But really, she’s just got a way with words. She’s got a way with life. And, as is the case with the rest of the things she dedicates time to, her letters inspire me. She also has a blog.

Let it be known: I LOVE BLOGS! I think they are fabulous, and I use to have a blog all last year, but I was sheepish about it and kept it under wraps for the most part. Now I am unashamed. I am an avid reader of several blogs, and despite the fact that I am generally wretched at maintaining relationships that are not right under my nose, I feel like I know (at least a little of) what is going on in people’s lives via their entries. Not to mention that I DO love to write, and I have been noticing lately that there is a tug in my heart to return to that part of myself that creates. I haven’t been there in awhile.

Life is very very busy these days, almost to the point that I am becoming dissatisfied with the state of things. I would like to try to set aside time every week or so, maybe Saturday mornings, to just sit and reflect on what has gone on, really take it in, so that I don’t feel like my life is passing me by. I’ve noticed that one of my deepest desires is to live life with that zest, taking time to recognize that it’s happening.

Some things you should know about my life right now, since I’ll probably be writing about them:

1) I have a boyfriend of 3-ish months named Kevin. What I know for now is that being with him is just plain right.

2) The primary focus of my work is on North Campus at the University of Michigan. I lead a “New Life Team” with a guy named Chris, and it’s essentially a little church based on geography inside of the larger 900-person congregation called New Life Church. Many people wonder, either to themselves or aloud, what I do all day. Perhaps this blog will shed some light.

3) I currently live in the coziest, loveliest apartment ever, complete with chili pepper lights hanging in the enormous kitchen, cushy carpet, a giant whiteboard for leaving messages, and a little walled-in patio with trees overhanging (October was so nice—red leaves, two pots of mums, yellow and burgundy, given to me as [perfect!] gifts, a lounge chair and side table, and a carved white pumpkin). My roommate’s name is Jen, and we share our apartment with two other girls named Shawn and Natalie, all of us U of M grads and working full-time. The best part is that our complex backs up to Trader Joe’s. Sometimes I need bananas or something, so I take a quick walk over and come back with some…plus avocados. Always avocados.

4) I’ve been asking God, rather timidly, for a softer heart. For some reason, I have this desire to cry more, perhaps because that will help me know that I am capable of real compassion. Not that crying equals compassion. But there is a lot of suffering and a lot of beauty in the world, and sometimes they affect me like a country I’ve never cared about, Luxembourg, say--that is, they affect me hardly at all.

As I was writing this, I wondered if I were just trying to make myself feel like I have an interesting life. The truth of the matter is that I do indeed have an interesting life, but I don’t appreciate it enough. I think that taking the time to write about it will bear witness to the fact that I am blessed.