Thankful for You

I just wanted to tell you that I’m thankful for you. I know some of you in real life, others I know solely through this blog, and still others know me, while I remain completely ignorant of who you are.

Regardless, I’m thankful for you being there. I am rather passionate about writing, and writing here on Lead Me Where has priority over many things in my life. Yes, I sometimes chose to do others things, and I may occasionally leave you hanging for a day or two, but I always come back, ready once again to share my life, share my heart, share me.

And I’m not sharing with an empty computer screen; nor am I simply spewing information into a great, black pit of oblivion called the Internet. I’m sharing with you. I’m seeking to glorify God and bring myself and you closer to Him through what I write, what I say, and when it comes down to it, I’m sitting on this end of the screen, and you’re sitting on the other side.

You and I; we’re in this blogging thing together. I’m the writer, you’re the reader. I chose to write, and you chose to read, to support, to ask for more.

And for that, I’m thankful.

~Natalia

Worth Remembering

In the days and hours since I wrote about remembering, I have spent some more time mulling over the things that I remember, from the past two and a half months that I have spent here at Moody, or the nineteen years of my life that occurred before I moved onto campus and began toting an ID everywhere I went. I thought over my memories, mentally clicking through images, places, conversations, and events.

I spent an incredibly lengthy portion of yesterday at a swim meet, in fact the same meet that I recorded in this blog last year. As I thought about the meet yesterday, the things I did, the things I heard and said, my mind slid back to last year’s meet, and I found myself comparing the two experiences. But, more than compare which small athletes did well each year, or who I spent the majority of my time interacting with either year, I suddenly thought, “I don’t remember 2010’s meet so well because I have a great memory; in fact, by most standards, that meet was not even stellar. No, I remember that because I wrote it. I returned to my house that night, I flipped open my computer, and I wrote about it. I shared on here the antics of the young boys who still parade around doing silly things, just so that I’ll roll my eyes at them. I told you about the little guy who collected Gatorade lids, and how the girls decorated a banana with a Sharpie marker.

I remember because I told you.

I said last time that writing down memories is a powerful way to immortalize those moments in your memory, and now I have proof; if you want to remember, write. And that’s fine. Point proven. Write = remember. Good, good.

But what do I want to remember? I cannot record every event that I participate in, or copy down every conversation that I have, or record the details of every single face that I behold on any given day. It’s just too much.

How do I discern what to record? What do I scribble into a blank notebook page, or jot into an old church bulletin, or type into the little WordPress box entitled, “New Post”? What makes the cut to be transferred from “that one thing that happened to me in the morning that I will completely forget by Wednesday” to “that experience that I had that one day while I was studying at Moody that I will forever remember”?

I believe that the parts of my life, of my interactions, of the way that God has touched my life that are worthy of preservation are the parts that have stuck with me for a little bit. If don’t remember it after an hour or two, maybe it wasn’t ever meant to be a significant moment. But if I’m still thinking it over, remembering it with a slight smile on my lips as I replay the memory six hours later? That’s the moment that I chose. That’s what I’m keeping.

I’m lying on the floor in Mary’s room. There are four of us girls; two sitting with legs curled up, chins resting lightly on pulled-up knees. Across from me, Mary also lies on her stomach, hugging a pillow to her chest. Behind me, the hallway glows insistently with white light, shining in a doorway-shaped rectangle into the room. In the corner of the room, an oddly-shaped lamp seeps off-white light into the room, making the room seem even more cozy.

The three heads around me are bowed, as three of us listen to one pray out loud, silently “amen”ing her, and occasionally making the soft humming sounds that people make when they agree with something you have just prayed.

My hands are crossed in front of me, and my forehead rests on my wrists. The carpet smells faintly like the carpet in the French apartment that we stayed in, and for a second, my mind wanders back to the months that I have spent in France, and I feel my lips curl in a nostalgic smile.

But we are praying, standing at the very throne of Heaven, sharing with God our hearts, and my mind cannot stay in Paris for very long. Just as quickly as my mind had wandered to Paris, it is back in the cozy dorm room in downtown Chicago.

And I listen to what they pray. And I “amen” their words in my heart. And we ask God. And we thank God. And we praise God. And we beg God.

And then, the someone softly speaks forth the final, “amen” and we look up, squinting our eyes in the light from the hall, and the alien lamp in the corner. Girls have things to do now, and places to be, and conversations to have, and memories to make, but for that time, as we sat quietly in prayer, we talked with God. We met Him right there on the carpet, and we talked.

And that is worth remembering.

~Natalia

Remember It

This afternoon I rode the train from Chicago up to the pool, swaying rhythmically as the train swept up the track. As the urban landscape whizzed past, my eyes unfocused and I found myself thinking back over the last two months that I have spent at school. Memories of obscure events and amusing conversations came to mind, and I smiled to myself as I recalled things I thought I had forgotten.

But then, as the train slowed into a station and the people around me shifted in preparation to disembark, a more sobering thought struck me. I‘m going to forget so much of this, I thought. And it’s true; while many, many snippets of life are stored in the archives of my memory, a fair amount of the things I have experienced at Moody Bible Institute over the past two months have slipped away from me. Fading into the realm of lost memories, out of sight, out of mind; forgotten.

And the truth of the matter is that, for the most part, we do not control what we remember. You can quote word for word a conversation you had at lunch six weeks ago, but you’re not exactly sure what the girl who sits next to you in class said to you this morning. Some things are remembered, some are forgotten, and it would seem that there is no rhyme or reason to what becomes memory and what slips completely out of mind.

To truly remember, one must write. Record what happened, yes, but do more. Relate on paper what it looked like, what it felt like, how it came about, what happened after, the way it looked when it was all over with. Write it down. Preserve it. Remember it.

~Natalia

Ache

Twenty minutes spent Facebook chatting with Hermana Tere, and my emotions are running so high that I can’t make up my mind how I feel.

Am I excited to have talked with Hermana Tere?

Am I heartbroken that I cannot be with them right now?

Am I ecstatic over the possibility of returning to Mexico in the future?

Am I restless to do something about it right now?

Yes. All of the above. And more.

I love and I miss. And right now, that is my life. My heart is partly here in Chicago, and partly in a city in the mountains of Mexico. But between having a whole heart here, and feeling the ache of loving many who are so far away, I’ll take ache any day.

And right now, I’m feeling the ache.

~Natalia

Happy Gotcha Day


Larissa, Easter 2008


Glendy, Spring 2008


Larissa, Summer 2008


Glendy, Summer 2008


Larissa and Glendy, Fall 2008


Larissa, Winter 2008


Glendy, Spring 2009


Larissa, Summer 2009


Glendy and Larissa, Christmas 2009


Larissa, Spring 2010


Glendy, Summer 2010


Larissa and Glendy, Fall 2010


Larissa, Spring 2011


Glendy, Spring 2011


Glendy and Larissa, October 2011

Four years ago today our little crazies officially became ours. Glendy and Larissa are brilliant, witty, rather small, dramatic, imaginative, and without a doubt the best little sisters our family could ever ask for.

I love you, Wee and Mani!

~Natalia

Distracted?

I didn’t tell you then, but I spent last Friday night sitting alone in my room with the lights off, listening to Glee music on my headphones and typing a paper by the light of my computer screen and the Roommate’s desk lamp.

It was a rather… unexciting Friday night.

But the paper’s due tomorrow afternoon, and I am extremely thankful that I cranked it out on Friday, because I’m tidying it up right now, and my editorial juices are just not flowing.

Eesh.

Maybe I should stop checking Facebook and perusing Grooveshark and try to focus on the paper…

~Natalia

Why

I was lying on my bed, nose buried in a textbook, attempting to wrap my mind around the concepts that filled the thick volume. I was struggling a bit, and leaned back against my pillow, my eyes wandering across the room to the pictures the roommate had tacked to the wall above her bed. My eyes unfocused for a moment and I let my mind return to where it has spent so much time over the past two years: Mexico.

A mental image; a snippet of a memory, appeared before me, and I paused for a second to relish the sweet moment, only to feel a wave of sadness wash over me as the memory faded. I miss Mexico so very much.

I sighed and looked back down at the textbook for a minute or two, forcing my brain to read the words in front of me. I pulled my notebook onto my lap and scribbled a note or two on the page, then, on impulse, wrote one more word in the margins of the page: “WHY?”.

Then it hit me.

Why do I miss Mexico? I thought, once again letting my textbook slip out of my hands. I have posted pictures of the children at the Casa Hogar, written essays about my experiences there, blogged prolifically about the whole experience, but that doesn’t answer why. Why are the place and the people so important to me? Why do the things that I saw and heard there affect me so deeply, touching my heart in a way that few other things do?

Why?

And I think I know at least a part of the answer.

It’s the open hearts. I cried rather frequently during the two months that I lived with Hermano Manuel and Hermana Tere. Did I cry for myself? Occasionally, yes. But not always. More often, I cried for them. I cried for the pain that the children of the Casa Hogar endured and survived in the years before they came to live at the Casa Hogar. I cried for the scars that they carry so deep in their souls. I cried for the raw love, emotion, and hurt that I saw around me every day.

But it wasn’t all tears and sadness. The openness of heart that I experienced carried right over to the happy. And it’s not just happy; it’s joy. Amidst the pain and broken, there is joy. The laughter of children. The kind-hearted teasing of Hermana Tere and Hermano Manuel. The joking and riotous amusement of the older girls, my sisters and my friends.

Opening my heart to love and feel; to accept whatever the LORD brings to me is a constant struggle. It’s not easy for me to go through my life without my arms crossed protectively across my heart, warding off any unchecked emotion that may come my way. But, by some miracle, God enabled me to live with my heart open in Mexico. Through His strength, I put my heart, the most vulnerable part of any human being, into His hands, and I left it there.

And I felt pain so fierce that I wanted to leave that place and walk back to Chicago, and never look back. And I laughed so hard that I came closer to peeing my pants than I have ever before in my life. And I loved and was loved and I saw God moving vividly and actively.

That’s why I miss Mexico.

~Natalia

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