This blog is really a journal entry from me to the Lord, me hashing things out with Daddy God and Jesus. It refers to several different points last year, at least some of which will have their individual blogs. This is very personal and intimate to me and I don’t know who it will resonate with, but I publish it because I feel it will resonate positively with somebody. Thank you.
There’s a popular Christian song with lyrics about going where our trust is without borders. I loved that song and I sang that song many times with great devotion and fervor.
I now honestly believe that somewhere in singing that song I actually was praying that prayer and asking God to take me to a point past the borders of my trust.
A bus stop where I waited 30 minutes every morning for months for the connecting bus. Some days I lifted my hands on this busy street singing praise while I cried in frustration at the long commute process.
Coming to the places past the borders of my prior trust, I can say that I try to be brave and strong and grown up, but lots of days on this journey into the new and the unknown, I become so very cognizant of how much I really still feel very much a little girl, how much I simply want to run back into Daddy God’s arms and be held again and I don’t want to be grown up anymore. I don’t want to be strong and brave anymore. I just want to curl up in his fortress and never talk about coming out again. I don’t want to see anymore places I need to grow up in Christ cuz I just see how inadequate and insufficient I am and at times in my weakness I don’t remember anymore how to tap into his strength. I don’t know if this is teenager time in Christ where I’ve relented from being the forever child without responsibility or accountability, and I feel frightened of the big, wild world out there with its lions and giants.
One way to cart your cargo…
It feels very real and very grown up right now, but I feel that for where I think I will be going in the future that what I am dealing with now isn’t even the very scary stuff, but I want to go back to wooden swords and wooden shields inside the castle walls with my bestest bestie Jesus. I just want to be me with Jesus. Me with Jesus before I gushed about his wonder to people who, it felt, tarnished my beautiful Jesus moments with the fear and disgust and distrust they expressed. I want to grab back my beautiful, precious praise and delight moments to a restored innocence of intent and purity.
But those are the hard moments we learn we cannot trust our intimate places with people we thought trust worthy. Those treasured spaces in the innermost intimacies of our heart that we open up to individuals to have it stomped on by big, obtuse clown feet, because to experience the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ in relationship means also to taste of the betrayal and rejection he has known as well.
I don’t want to be afraid anymore, God. Of anything ever. I want comfort. I do. I don’t want to feel like a sandpaper soul being dragged across the grater of life. Maybe being an insufferable know it all wasn’t so bad….I “dint” know how little I knew and how insufferable I wuz and that part wasn’t so very bad was it?
But perhaps I scare myself with being afraid of the stories of others, perhaps as I hear the stories of missionaries and folks that God calls beyond the seas and think that what I am going through isn’t as scary as that and I think that I have to be ready to take down the literal lions, but maybe those aren’t places he would take me, because, actually my friends seem pretty freaked out by my life and the risks and places I go – places that to the middle class suburban mind is plenty crazy and radical frightening.
So maybe my enormous leap of faith in giving away most of my belongings and walking out my apartment door with nothing but a packed car to not know where I would sleep that night as I trusted the leading God was leading me in to do this thing, and I went to McDonald’s drive through and the library for a grand total of I believe it was seven hours in my two year old car before landing in the swankiest house in the church, maybe that is as scary as I need it to be.
Maybe the deepest, scariest war wound I need to receive in my adventures with the Lord are the marred, scarred bleach-spattered pants from doing the laundry at the inn with the broken washers on Valentine’s Day weekend on the day I was determined that no matter what happened I would count it all joy and I had the adventure on the route home where I was chasing after holy spirit GPS and feathers in the downtown maze of streets to find the correct connecting bus, but more than finding the connecting bus, I think there was the purpose to connect to a conversation with a recovered-alcoholic-but-still-smoking-ganja-guy about the goodness of Jesus while the dude across the street twirling the sign for the spa place spewed expletives about his hoes and hookers and other crazy jazz that I just had to tune out as I glee’d it up with the dude at the convention center bus stop. Yes, maybe that is as dangerous as I need my adventures with Jesus to be.
One of the prettiest bus stops you’ll find.
After all, God certainly knows I’ve survived plenty of internal soul-bleeding and it’s the healing of those wounds that has led me deeper into a love romance with my Lord Jesus to accept his crazy invitations into deeper, deeper terrain with Him. I so remember the day Jesus urged me off the beaten path literally. A day deep in sunshine and delight in a gorgeous wood, and how horrified I was that day to leave the rutted route traversed by many feet, to step onto the leaf covered wood to a place he led me, and how I said with a turned up nose ugh-and-ick attitude that did not see the beauty of nature in that moment, I said, “Only you Jesus could convince me to step out off the path to follow you here.” And it’s still the truth. Only he can persuade me onto so many of the paths I have followed and continue to pursue.
The other day, I thought, perhaps all my adventures on the bus around Albuquerque aren’t actually preparation for the wilds of the African desert and bustling throngs of immigrants pressing across some foreign check point as I sometimes imagine it might be….maybe the wilds of the San Mateo bus line, and yes, some days the Central route and the area around that major thoroughfare known as the “War Zone,” after the WWII GI’s who lived there after the war, but more than half a century later “War Zone” has a different connotation, and politicians rename it as the “International District” for its original intent, maybe that is as much of a war zone or an international district as I need to go into.
And I think maybe that’s just fine for me and I realize it can be plenty fine for God too, that maybe I don’t have to go to Mozambique and sinking ships and sleeping on fire ant hills, because maybe wrong buses and delayed buses and red ants at the bus stop and sudden downpours on my transfers and cars drenching me at the bus stop as I head to Celebrate Recovery Friday nights are as much trauma and drama as I need to experience trusting in and finding the pleasure of my Lord in the uncertain and uncomfortable spots for me and my life. And maybe the breakdowns I have on the buses in my weariness and fatigue and my discomfort in the delays and the waiting at the in between spots on my commutes and my frustration at it all, and my wonder in it all and my discovery of Jesus in it all is the point of it all.
Like the day that it was as I got off that bus on the way to that doctor who was not the doctor God told me to go to, but I was sure the Holy Spirit had to be mistaken because this doctor was closer geographically, what a fool I can be and pay the price for my foolery, blech. But still Lord, that day with that route that was completely indiscernible even on GPS on how to get from the bus stop to the clinic, you Lord, you pointed out the young man who got off the bus with me who didn’t look to my senses’ eyes like someone necessarily trustworthy, but you pointed to him as someone safe to follow and how thankful I am God that you did show me he was safe on that crazy indiscernible route of dirt trails and winding alley paths without street names that I would have never found that did indeed bring me through to the other side with the paved roads and the clinic. And even there on that crazy strange route in the midst of some part of town I yet do not know the name for, my unexpected guide and I shared the gospel – you do pick the craziest places for me to speak the gospel and to find Jesus indeed!!
And what about that other time on the new to me route on the Central 66 bus with construction that eliminated several of the regular bus stops, so that I had no idea where to get off of the packed, congested bus. Concerned that I would miss my stop, concerned that I would go far past my stop and not be able to find my way back to catch the last connecting bus to my work assignment, I jumped off the bus and walked fifteen minutes to the connecting stop through a sketchy stretch of the ghetto campus terrain passing vagrants and a strange stew of varied folk difficult to describe for all their assortments. And there are days and ways that I do like moving in that mix of variegated humanity, being the girl with the back pack on the go in the groove and the flow with the early morning air about me, especially with the earbuds pushing my beats into my soul as I feel a determination in my step.
A super snazzy Route 66 Bus Stop
But that day, that third day on that route, when the 66 bus was running far too late for me to walk the in-between construction part and I cried out to you Jesus to save me, to get me to the right stop, to the right connection, in the right amount of time, and although it was truly only my third day on the bus to a temporary assignment, it felt as if the fate of the world rested on that decision of getting off at the correct bus stop that day. And I needed you so that day, that moment Jesus, I needed you to be my right decision, I needed to cling tightly to your side for dear life.
And you led the way as I watched the blocks pass to see where the bus would come to stop next as it lumbered through the construction and I saw that yes, the next stop was the right stop, and that for two days I had actually been prolonging my journey and even increasing my exposure to potential danger in getting off of the bus earlier to the best of my knowledge and leaning on my own understanding as I understood it – but how do we do it without knowing when we go on new ways and new paths with unexpected detours and obstacles?
How else do we do it when there isn’t time or understanding to discern or discover ahead of time, and there is no safe guide in the humans about us? Times when we have to adjust in the blink of an eye, in the space of a moment, where we have to make the major decisions without the luxury of waiting and weighing and there is so evidently only Jesus and His way.
Jesus’ way which is so simple, yet so seemingly scary to step into as we don’t know his way and it is not our way, times we learn to yield our will, yield our flesh and our life to be wielded as that weapon to drive a stake into the heart of our fleshly pressing desires, to turn it to the way of Jesus.
And that day, traversing down Central Avenue til I realized the next stop was indeed just catty-corner to my connecting bus stop, saying in awe and wonder in my heart, “Could it truly be that your way is that simple?” as I passed that corner on University and Central with the gorgeous brick University of New Mexico sign resting on the verdant green grass.
Can it be that simple Jesus? Too good to be true compared to the hard work and the hardness of the way of my flesh when I was still endeavoring to do right in the best way that I understood, but Jesus you do know all the short cuts we don’t know, yet you don’t always give them right away do you?
And I remember the gal on that route one day with no shoes on. On that route particularly it was usually wisest to avoid eye contact, so I was already generally staring at people’s feet and I can still so clearly see her grubby, chubby toes that she kept curling under as though she could hide the nakedness of her feet and belie their shoeless state. You love us all in all our states don’t you Jesus?
You are good God.
The Alvarado Transportation Center in downtown Albuquerque
Just as I determined to know God is good as a reality in my own mind and not only my emotions that day in July when it felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest where I felt ravaged and raked over by rejection, uncomfortable in the heat and hating life, but determining that it did not matter if my emotions and flesh lined up to sense you as good, God. Your goodness is good. Your justice is just. And I choose to be in agreement with you. Regardless of my emotions, although, oh I do so love the days I align in agreement with the emotions too!
Flower blossoms press through the holes in the bus stop grated wall.
So, it seems the ecstasy and the agony of knowing the fullness and the suffering of the Christ life don’t have to be on far off turfs, but on the simple landscapes of daily life God, you are quite able to craft the lessons you would have me learn for the places you would lead me, and it is enough Lord. It is enough.
We don’t all have to go to foreign hills across the sea to be in a place foreign to us – a place far beyond the borders of a life I lived all my life that I stepped far, far outside. I went way past the known landmarks. Way past the safe places for me, way into the land of the glorious and the very scary in discovery of who Jesus will be for me – though I know he will always be leading me in paths of goodness and righteousness all my days for greater and deeper discoveries than ever I knew before.
And I thank you Lord indeed for the beauty of this moment, the glory of this night, when all day I felt half off kilter and would hit a semi-stride for a few moments only to feel like I fell back into some state of disgrace and failure to end it with this beautiful tribute as some sort of beginning point or something past beginning, but some compilation of many things, many months, many moments captured in so many pages, but discovering you and your beauty again and some beginning bits of sense out of a multitude of moments across the last months and especially feeling a kernel of a real gem in the reality of HOW you have taken me so far beyond the borders of my trust in this place here, far, far away from the terrain of my spiritual safety in the only church I’d known as a child and an adult and the only church I ever wanted to know, to allow you to lead me to a people and a place quite foreign indeed to my soul and my knowledge…and seeing again as I do time and time again at some pause point on the journey that really, it has only ever and always been about our relationship God. How delightful indeed.
In a giddy moment of joy and exuberance during the summer of 2013, high on the goodness of God, I gushed to the Lord that I would “take a new assignment.” I can still remember where I was – pulling my two-month old brand-new car into the parking lot of my Little Turtle suburbs apartment building in Columbus, Ohio.
That offer was a big deal for me, although at the time the words seemed to rush up out of me in a whoosh of overflowing excitement for all the good God had wrought in my life and my desire to give back to Him in response. I had fallen so in love with Columbus, Ohio and the surrounding suburbs over the previous 15 years since I had returned to Ohio, my birth state, for the second time. Growing up, I had always felt that staying in Ohio was somehow a death sentence, yet after my return in ‘98 I became thrilled with the warmth of the city along with the family and friends I had there. I felt so in love with the city that I genuinely didn’t know how I could ever leave. Yet, I made that offer that summer night after our weekly Thursday night bible fellowship. Within a few months of that conversation, (that I don’t think I believed would actually lead to anything) my division at my company announced that they would be shutting down at the end of the calendar year. They gave us ninety days notice so that we could hopefully find another position within the company – or elsewhere. But the oddest thing happened for me after I heard the news – my intense love for Columbus, the love that made it feel like I would be losing a limb if I tried to leave, that love, simply dissolved and vanished away!
My New County
Although I felt ready to leave so quickly, it actually was almost two years after my offer to God before I actually left. The following February the desire to leave and head west was so intense, I prayed for God to ease the ache, because I couldn’t seem to focus or deal with the details necessary before a cross-country move. He did such a good job in answering my prayer that I actually forgot about going west altogether! When I started looking for where to move later that year and into the next year, I was looking at a town outside of Dayton where the ministry I was associated with had it’s church building. I also was looking at Huntington, West Virginia where I had friends who were seeing explosive church growth. Yet, I couldn’t seem to “settle” in my heart on the exact city to move to.
Departing the Mid-West on Southwest
The fall of 2014 I felt that I would leave the Columbus area sometime the next summer, sometime roughly between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I made a list of people in my home church and next to each name on my list I wrote down things I desired to learn from them in my remaining months, as well as the things I hoped to sow and give back to these people who had loved me so well.
My apartment lease ended after Thanksgiving and in a whole other story for another time, I felt led to walk out of my apartment with only my car packed with suitcases, boxes and a portrait to begin my new life. Seven hours after I left my apartment, the wife of a family in my home church reached out with an invitation for me to stay with them. I moved in with them as I endeavored to determine the next steps in my life.
I recall in January of the year how I saw a mental picture of myself as a hot-house flower that was wilting in the wintry northern climes. Looking back, that picture feels like a prophetic hint! Somewhere in there I also told God I wanted an invitation to my new location. I had been talking to different friends about coming to their city, and I didn’t want to feel like a burden to my friends as I was going through the process of getting set up in a new city. One friend had thrown out the idea that I should go work with a minister who I greatly loved. The idea seemed amazing, but I didn’t feel comfortable inviting myself. Ironically, I have since heard that particular minister say how she often waits for people to ask to serve. So, however it was meant to be – we both were looking to be asked!
In March a dear friend who had moved to Albuquerque a couple years before wrote me an email wondering if I were interested in moving to Albuquerque and rooming with her. We had been emailing and chatting about our journeys with the Lord. The day the email arrived was the day of the monthly Women’s Fellowship I oversaw. I was feeling particularly challenged that day, so for me in my place of need, I looked at the invitation more as a form of love and a confidence booster, and not really as a legitimate consideration. It was also that Albuquerque was truly so unexpected for me. I had never considered New Mexico. I don’t remember quite how the email and following conversation worked it’s way in my heart and brain the following month. It seems that I did consider that this was in fact an invitation like I had prayed for.
There came a day for me where things in my situation seemed especially aggravating to me, almost as if God had lifted off the grace so that a simple, but trying situation, felt more grating. I felt as if God was somehow allowing me to feel more agitation than normal. I’ve since heard a pastor talk about how he’s never had someone come to him for counseling to make changes when they were in comfort. Sometimes when I look at certain events in my life, I think God let the scenario get that bad or feel that bad to help me move on to other things. That day in early April 2015 I was just suddenly done. I said, “It is enough, oh Lord!” and I called my friend in Albuquerque to discuss the possibility of taking her up on her offer.
Tablecloth Splendor at my Going Away Party
After more than a year and a half of deliberations, I felt suddenly so ready to move forward that day. Part of me wanted to pack everything in my car and leave that night, but I knew that wasn’t the answer. As I spoke to my friend in New Mexico, I was shocked by how many things in our lives seemed to be at a similar place. We seemed to have many of the same goals at the time. As we continued to plan and move forward in our discussion there was a day where we seemed to begin to butt heads a little in our expectations of each other. My home fellowship coordinators’ had extended an invitation for folks to gather at their house that night. People seemed to be staying in two areas of the house that evening. One group sat at the long kitchen table, while several of the men went into an open den between the dining room and front entryway pulling out their musical instruments and playing music together. Typically I would have stayed at the dining room table engaging in conversation, but that night I chose the den where several of the men were “jamming” on their guitars and instruments together. I sat in the corner chair, forced into silence by the music, as I sorted things out with the Lord in my head and heart. As I deliberated with the Lord, going back and forth in my heart about this Albuquerque decision, I clearly heard Him simply conclude, “Go. Just go,” and my mind was set. Whatever happened, however it was going to go – I was going.
Entertainment at my going away party
I decided to leave my newer car with high payments in Ohio at a loss and simply start fresh in Albuquerque without a car. My friend and I began to talk about the possibility of me flying out and she said she would check her reward miles to see if she had enough points to get me a flight out. That’s when I remembered that I had bought a one-way plane ticket the year before that I had never used. I had intended to buy a return ticket and attend a women’s conference in Oregon the previous summer. The cost from the ticket was more than sufficient to cover the cost to fly from Columbus to Albuquerque. It certainly felt rather fated to have that one-way ticket that would have expired in another month.
I was so unprepared for how crazy challenging it would feel to relocate to a completely new geographic territory so very unlike the home in Ohio where I had been many years. Not only was it such a different terrain, I had spent all my life in home churches based out of the same group. While I had begun to visit churches, it was always while rooted in my familiar home church “terrain.” Yet here I was attending a completely different church environment with multiple ministries operating under its umbrella. It was exciting and intimidating. I felt thrilled and completely freaked out at the same time by the amount of differences.
I felt so many seeming signs pointing me to stay in Albuquerque, but I also felt overwhelmed and frightened on more levels than I could grasp or conceive fully. So many things weren’t as I’d anticipated them to be. I realize now how rosy I tend to paint things in very unrealistic ways, yet, it was that insane optimism and I don’t know what from the Lord that kept me from quitting!
As was settling into my friend’s apartment I was surprised to find a blank spot on the wall between her wall hangings. I had a painting I felt led to buy in the spring of 2014, however, I had never hung the painting. When I was leaving my apartment in November 2014, God showed me taking the painting with me. The color of the living room wall matched the painting perfectly. I asked my roommate if her previous roommate had a picture in that spot, but my roommate said no, she said the blank spot on the wall had always been there, almost as if it had been waiting for my painting.
11 Boxes and 3 Bags to Start My New Life
One day in that first month as I was doing errands and pouring out my heart and challenges with the Lord, I heard him tell me to go to the hardware store. He told me to get a picture hanging set to hang my picture. What I felt Him say was that once I hung the picture “then I would be home.” I still felt questions about this move, had I made a mistake and this was the Lord reassuring me.
As I pulled in to the store, I decided not to take my purse in with me. I felt clearly to grab only $2 cash out of my wallet before heading into the store. Once I got in the store though, there were so many varieties of nails. I don’t know how long I spent in that long aisle looking at so many different sizes and styles of nails – many costing more than the $2 I had brought in with me. I began to wonder why I had only grabbed $2 and considered returning to the car for my wallet.
The seemingly simple task didn’t feel simple anymore. I reached out to God in my heart about which nail was the right kind to get. I felt Him say it was in the next aisle and that it was a gold color. I saw an employee and asked the young man for his help. He took me straight to a gold colored nail/hanger set for $1.78. Grateful, I happily made my purchase and went home to hang my portrait. I had accepted my new assignment. I was home.
“Start them cold.” came the call.
I’m not a balloonist.
I had no idea what “start them cold” meant – but I knew in that moment it meant action.
One of the many special shapes balloons. This is Keystone Willy.
My friend, who is a balloonist, was coming out of his makeshift seat in the hot air balloon basket lying sideways on the grass, bringing the basket forward with him as he came forward and to his feet- “Really?” he questioned in surprise and excitement.
Balloons on my way into work
It was my first International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was the second Saturday of the ten day festival. I missed attending the fiesta my first autumn in New Mexico and this year’s fiesta was slipping away too fast. I didn’t have any funds for a ticket, but I prayed to God that I would like someone to invite me.
Several mornings on my way into work I had seen the sky filled with hot air balloons. The year before I came upon a balloon that landed just a block or two from my office.
Balloons coming down outside my office building.
Early on in Albuquerque, I came to learn that hot air ballooning is not an exact science and landing the balloons is all part of the beauty and challenge of ballooning. I heard stories of balloons landing on the freeway and even on top of a Hooter’s restaurant. I grin trying to imagine a man explaining to his wife that landing spot.
The average hot air balloon is so large it could hold 22 or more elephants
The Wednesday before the final weekend, my dear friend Melissa, who had also never been to the fiesta, asked if I would like to go. The balloons launch in the early morning hours of autumn’s predawn. I still understand very little, but I can share that hot air balloons require cooler early morning thermals for ascension.
More Balloons Coming Down While at Work.
Melissa and I agreed to attend the Saturday morning launch. After working all week I often spend Friday night at Celebrate Recovery which doesn’t finish til about 9:30 or so, meaning I probably wouldn’t get home til about 10 p.m. or past. It usually takes me a few hours to wind down for sleep. I had learned the year before that it’s key to arrive by 4:30 a.m. Yes, I know how crazy that seems, but every fiesta veteran was equally agreed on this point. Furthermore, Melissa and I had been hearing from some that by 4:30 the crowds and parking were already challenging. Also Melissa had found a lot with free parking, but was concerned it might fill up faster, so we decided Melissa would pick me up at my place, which is fairly near the balloon fiesta park, around 3:30 a.m.
About 10:15 p.m. the night before we were texting each other confirming the pick up time.
Melissa texted, “Are we crazy?” with a blue-faced wailing emoji.
I was honestly beginning to wonder myself as I tried to anticipate the short night ahead. “Maybe a little….” I responded, continuing, “All kinds of people do this so it’s apparently not so crazy.” I was working on persuading myself as well!
The weather inevitably seems to turn cooler just as the fiesta begins. We bundled up in our winter coats and scarves and gloves, packed snacks, and about 3:40 a.m. Melissa picked me up to make our way to the free parking she had discovered at the evening glow on Thursday night. There was parking crew as we pulled into the lot and other vehicles steadily filling in the empty spots. We spent a while in the car, munching on dry cereal mixed with almonds and other snacks before venturing out.
Although I’d seen the lot we were in quickly filling up, the reality of the crowd appeal didn’t truly hit me til we were heading down the hill to the field and I saw the line of headlights stretching back as cars pulled into the paid parking spots below. I saw the massive stadium lights blasting out over the crowds streaming into the gates below. It was so bizarre and surreal to be going to an event so early, so in the dark – to be arriving for an event to begin before dawn. I tried to think of another type of event I had attended like this, but I’ve yet to think of anything I’d experienced similar to the balloon fiesta.
Once we were through the gates and the bathroom, Melissa and I eagerly stood in line for hot chocolate. We were
already very chilled and the event wasn’t close to beginning. Even though I don’t think it was anything more than powder packets in cheap Styrofoam, the scalding hot chocolate seemed like an astonishing elixir in the dark and the cold. I had encouraged Melissa to head down earlier than she was saying was necessary because I was used to events where you want to essentially be at the “head of the line” so to speak. But the balloon fiesta is entirely different. All the fields are open to the public to wander freely at will in and out and all around the balloons lying on the ground, spread out, with ropes and equipment, awaiting the word to arise.
Officials are called “Zebras” for obvious reasons.
We wandered around in the grass in the dark clutching our hot chocolates. At 6:00 a.m. a bit of a laser light show began on the field with some music and I began to feel excitement and anticipation bubble up in me. We drew in close to a balloon that had signs of activity. Others began to press in about us and we were jostling a bit for our places, but after some time there was no increased activity at “our” balloon. At Melissa’s beckoning I turned around and discovered that while I had been completely consumed in watching the lack of activity at our balloon, a line of balloons were filled up and lying on their sides on the ground. This is what is called the “Dawn Patrol,” the first of the balloons to ascend prior to the mass ascension. Most of the row of the Dawn Patrol was already filled up with air, lying on their sides by the time I turned around and I couldn’t believe how I had missed all this while looking at a lack of activity. We agreed to begin walking toward the Dawn Patrol balloons in hopes of gaining a more advantageous view of the start of the ascension.
In the process of re-positioning ourselves, we caught an announcer on the air from a PA system somewhere down the field explaining about thermals and what was happening a thousand feet off the ground and being patient for safety’s sake. We moved in near the row of Dawn Patrol balloons, but they did not ascend. Weather conditions weren’t right. It was cold and it was dark and the balloons weren’t doing anything. We were waiting. Movement seemed to ease the cold so Melissa and I began walking and talking. Walking and talking, talking and walking. There was a moment when my bags with water bottles was growing so heavy, the sky seemed as dark as when we’d arrived, I seemed to be growing more chill by the moment and the balloons were still showing no signs of activity. I began to seriously consider giving up and heading back for the warmth of my bed, but then the sun began to break over the mountains in the east and the chill, crisp air seemed to receive the tiniest bit of warmth from the breaking rays of dawn.
We ran into a friend who is a balloonist and followed him back to the balloon he was helping to crew. The time
seemed to pass more quickly as we caught up and he explained more to us about what was happening with the weather. It was also warming up a bit as light now filled the sky though it was gray and overcast. The balloon basket was tipped on its side in the grass and our friend, Will, made himself a makeshift seat out of it. We were watching the sky to the south where the clouds seemed to be dropping rain. Will was explaining to us that these were virga, rain that evaporates before hitting the ground. He was also watching the smoke or steam coming out of large chimney stacks at a manufacturing plant to see what the winds were doing 100 feet off the ground.
The morning grew on, the virga increased and the smoke or steam from the plant seemed to be splitting and going sideways rather than billowing up as it had been the hour before. I resigned myself to the reality that my first time at the balloon fiesta was going to be a no go.
Then came the call.
“Start them cold.”
Suddenly the lingering, the loitering, the small talk all gave way to movement and bustle and activity all about us on the field as different crews raced into position.
Large fans began blowing cold air into the voluminous billows of brightly patterned blue and yellow and red sail of the balloon Will was on the crew of. Eagerly witnessing the balloon fill enough for it no longer be flat, but lifting up off the ground, I began to back up only to realize another massive balloon was filling up on the other side of me! I realized no one was policing me except me!
I came around to the bottom of my friend’s balloon and the crew there invited us to step in closer to look inside of the balloon as it filled up. I don’t know how to express the sheer energy and aliveness in the air as these balloons fill up and lift off. The air feels electric with the excitement of the movement and there is so much action everywhere – all sorts of shapes and colors and sizes, blowing up, crew running out with ropes tied to the balloons, as people dodge and side step and also stop and gawk at the beauty and wonder of it all.
Our friend’s balloon sold rides to the public and they were taking on passengers about to lift off, so we moved on
across the field as various balloons were filling up and ascending. We ran into more friends and happily took a picture near some of Melissa’s favorite balloons, the penguin shaped balloons. The weather began to worsen as the clouds thickened and darkened and we decided to head to the parking lot. I was longing for a funnel cake in the worst way, but had no funds and no heart to ask my friend to lend me the money. However, after we had exited the gates and were looking at the lines forming for a shuttle up the hill to parking, praise God, my friend asked if I wanted to go back in as we were right next to another gate so that we could get a funnel cake. I think that was one of the most delicious funnel cakes I ever ate. We found a table with an umbrella over it and huddled under it with some other fiesta-goers, where we gingerly tore at the still very hot, deep-fried, powdery treat.
It was one of those days where it’s so especially lovely to go home and take a long, hearty nap, but even when I awoke hours later, I was still overcome by the the beauty and wonder of the event.
There was something so stunning in the turn of expectations that moment where everyone was standing about for hours on end with anticipation dwindling and hope fading – to hear that call to start up the fans to fill the balloons.
I know it’s a simple analogy, but it is that way in our lives at so many different times, where we come, not knowing exactly what to expect, but having an expectation of movement and beauty and excitement. But instead find ourselves in a place of cold and dark and inactivity, having to resign ourselves to doing without, to soldier on and hope for another time, to tamp down our disappointment, then in an instant to have all the stillness and all the waiting convert into movement and the fulfillment of our hopes.
I think there’s a lot to be said for what we do in the waiting time, in the discomfort of the cold and the dark far from our familiar comfort zones. I think there is truly something to be said for how we conduct ourselves and how we behave when things aren’t going at all the way we hoped or dreamed…to be okay if it doesn’t happen, but to never fully quit believing it still…might…turn.
The Undoable Thing by Jenne Brown
Every so often I come to the place
Where I say – I’ve got the unsolvable case!
A time when I decide I have found
A problem at which God will astound!
Oh, yes, that one thing
To which even God cannot an answer bring.
That one terrible, unconquerable feat
That my God cannot complete.
Yes, I come across it every DAY or so,
That one thing I just KNOW
Is impossible for even God to do –
It’s happened to you, so you know it’s true –
That thing God cannot do.
Look, I know the Word says God meets my need,
But I have something to which even God must take heed.
It’s monstrous, it’s huge, it can’t be done,
I’ve looked at the odds – this battle can’t be won!
And it’s oh-so-plain for those with eyes to see,
That I have found the thing that cannot be!
Then I remember this little ol’ verse I’ve seen,
It’s Jeremiah 32:17
Ah Lord God! There is nothing too hard for thee!
But God don’t you see?
This undoable thing that just cannot be?
This thing too big for me?
Oh, but what silliness has my mind wrought?
That I thought
That there was some scenario, some case
That I could ever face
That would exceed the boundaries
Of God’s power to me?!
He closed the lions’ mouths,
Parted the sea
Setting Israel free,
Made manna fall from the sky,
And ascended Christ upon high!
What thing can I know that defeats
The promise God made to meet
What thing indeed!
Oh what a mistake I made!
For by God were the heavens and the earth laid!
And really, can I ever find the thing too hard to be done
By a God who placed even the stars and the sun?!
Now, without God I can always find
Something, everything, anything! To put me in a bind,
And yes, there are many, many things I cannot do.
But I just have to move to the truth
And those once impossible feats will become victories of the past
And each day will be filled with triumph as every care to God is cast!
A Love Letter from Elohim© by Jenne Brown
Can you comprehend the passing of a thousand years?
The comforting of a hundred million fears?
Do you know every thought conceived
By every soul that ever breathed?
Have you planned the design of the galaxies?
Or set a compass in the depths of the seas?
Do you know the currents of the seas and the skies?
The name of each star and where it lies?
Have you measured the water in the hollow of your hand?
Meted out the heaven with the span?
Have you placed the mountains on a scale?
Crafted secrets in treasures of hail?
Have you soared with the eagle in its flight?
Or stood beside a star in heavens ever night?
Have you crossed the chasm between two grains of sand?
Mapped the molecules scattered across the land?
Do you know every tear ever cried
By every soul that lived and died?
Have you ever waited ten thousand years,
Just to speak to someone dear?
Have you memorized the hairs on every head?
Discerned the exact sequence of every word ever said?
Have you heard the melody to every unsung song?
Never committed one single wrong?
Have you watched a hundred thousand children through their ways?
In strength and weakness through thirty thousand days?
Never faltered in truth, never loved one bit less,
Never refused one true, heart-hungry, cry of distress?
It is I, Elohim, who set the calendar of time,
I who allow the sun and moon to shine.
Is there anything I have not known?
Or any place my eyes have not roamed?
A billion things more than your mind can perceive,
I have done for so many more years than you have breathed.
I set myself as the keeper of your soul,
Committed unto you spirit that you might be whole.
Galaxies would burst
Break down barriers of the universe,
Should they try to contain
The love by which you’ve been ordained.
I have cried to you across eternity’s span,
To hail you in mercy and grace through redemption’s plan.
I’ve ensured your every need would be met.
Not one promise of a thousand shall I forget.
The goal I have held in mind
Was that when you hunger, there would be food to find;
Yea, when your soul thirsts for comfort, a friend would be near;
When your heart craves truth, there would be answers to hear.
I brought order by the touch of my voice,
Shattered darkness for you to have a choice
To be a companion to the divine,
That you might share your heart with mine.
For the inheritance I have sought
As a reward for all I have wrought
Is the fellowship you impart,
The sweet essence of your heart.
by Jenne Brown