Compelled?

During an evening devoted entirely to homework, I took occasional (okay, maybe frequent) breaks to text a bit, read a blog or two, and open Facebook once or twice. On one of these breaks, I opened my Google Reader page and skimmed through recent posts on blogs that I subscribe to.

One such blog was a written by a friend, an update on her and husband’s quest to add a special needs baby girl to their family through the gift of adoption. In her post, my friend considers the contrast between the sorrow and beauty in the process of adoption. At the end of her post (all of which can be read here), my friend included the lyrics to Sara Groves’ song Esther:

I have a picture of Esther and David

She is a young bride and he is a soldier

They didn’t know then that David was dying

They wouldn’t have children

Alone with a life time, Africa called

She went for the first time, it grew in her heart

All of the children, all of those children

Now Esther has 2.4 million children

She writes us and asks us to pray for them all

She’s compelled, she’s compelled by what she’s seen

And she tells us, she tells us do anything you can

To help, oh please help, there’s so much to do

And I’m just Esther

She visits her homeland, she fights with her words

She comes to the courts of the kings of the earth

Who don’t understand their inherited power

To answer her question

She’s compelled, she’s compelled by what she’s seen

And she tells us, she tells us do anything you can

To help, oh please help, there’s so much to do

And I’m just Esther

I know the song. I’ve heard it many, many times. My mom listens to Sara Groves, I listen to Sara Groves; I know this song.

But the words have never grabbed me like they did tonight, first reading them in my friend’s post, then listening to the song, paying close attention as the familiar tune drifted out of my computer speakers.

My heart caught on the song, caught on the idea, caught on the words. Because I have been to Africa. I have seen the children, so many children. I saw children healthy and children sick, children with parents and children all alone. All of the children, so many children.

But am I compelled? I’ve slipped so easily back into my life here in the States, and I’m haunted by the idea I will not be compelled by everything that I saw, everything that I did in Africa. As the days since I’ve returned to the United States stack up to become first one week, and soon enough another, I can’t help wondering what I’m doing with what I saw, what I heard, what I experienced.

I just don’t know if I’m compelled, and that kind of scares me.

~Natalia

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Very Good Weekend (Surprise!)

“My body was not made to withstand such stress!” I told her, grinning and sinking gratefully onto my desk chair.

Because The Roommate’s older sister has been planning to surprise her here at school for more than a month.

And there have been Facebook messages between Sister and I, with me cautiously waiting until The Roommate was long out of the room to read the message.

There have been text messages between the two of us, with her entered in my phone under a fake name, and me taking care not to leave my phone lying around in The Roommate’s presence.

And finally, Sister arrived not an hour ago. I spent the two hours before her arrival having what can only be called a Freak Out Moment.

The Roommate downstairs in a friend’s room, I checked Facebook obsessively. Perused Twitter. Went to the kitchen and washed some dishes. Returned to the room. Walked around the room. Ate a snack. Checked Facebook. Texted Sister repeatedly and requested minute-by-minute updates of where she was.

And then suddenly she was downstairs in the Plaza and Mary and I were hurrying down and hug, hug, nice to meet you, up to the elevator to find The Roommate.

And we’re knocking on our friend’s door, and Sister sticks her head in the room and The Roommate’s face is shocked and oh so confused, and then smiling and laughing and hugging and What are you doing here?

We’re in our room now, Sister and Roommate and Neighbor are laughing and talking and I have a bit of a headache from being so excited for so long, but it was worth it, and it’s looking like the beginnings of a very good weekend.

~Natalia

Life Right Now {#23}

We cheered our brother floor on to a basketball championship victory tonight!

~Natalia

Too

The professor stood in front of the class, leaning ever so slightly on the podium. In one hand he held a sleek black iPhone, and every so often he would swipe a finger across the screen, and a new Powerpoint slide would appear on the screen behind him.

He was lecturing on textual criticism of the Bible, and we were discussing the various errors that can be made when creating a copy of something by hand. Misreading the original, mishearing an oral message of the original, accidentally writing the wrong letter without realizing it. Bullet-pointed lists slid across the overhead screen in steady succession, as the class diligently took notes.

He’s a good professor, and interacts with his students with an air of familiarity and ease, resulting in a relaxed, yet still highly structured, class setting. We raise our hands, we ask questions, we discuss, we answer questions he asks from the front, stepping out in faith that it really wasn’t, in fact, a rhetorical question.

I was sitting in my customary spot, settled neatly into the little circle of friends and acquaintances that surround me. Since last class, the fourth desk in from the aisle had been switched for a left-handed one, and I was trying valiantly to make the best of this slight hiccup in my normally scheduled life.

As is our practice, I had scooted my seat almost twelve inches further back than the rest of the aisle, enabling the dear friend sitting behind me to rest her little feet on the back of my chair. She tugged on one of my earrings playfully, complimenting me quietly on the little gold hoops. I grinned my thanks and whispered a quick response, before returning to my note taking.

And then the professor began talking about words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and mean different things, and he asked us what such words are called. And hushed and rather timid suggestions rose from the gathered class. Soon, someone tentatively put forth an answer, and then someone else restated the answer confidently; we know, we understand you.

And then, pleased with our question-answering abilities, general murmurs of conversation twittered back and forth across the room. And we were suddenly talking about two and to and too and your and you’re and their and there and they’re and from behind me, I heard her clear voice.

Too is actually one of my favorite words.

Her words caught me, and I hurried to write them on a blank spot in my notebook. My attention was quickly diverted back to the lecture as a new slide flipped across the screen; more bullet points, more lessons, more pens clicking softly across paper.

But I opened my notebook not an hour ago, and I was reminded of her words. And I smiled and my heart tugged happily once more.

Because there’s beauty there, so much beauty. Beauty in her words, in her observation, in her joy, beauty in her little feet bouncing ever so slightly up and down on the back of my seat. And there’s beauty in too; in the word itself.

Because too can never be alone. Too by nature of its very meaning must come along with something else. Too is you and I. Too is both together. Too is this, and that as well. Too is together and with and alongside and the both of us.

I think I like too, too.

~Natalia

Swimmy

Remember when my life was like a circle chart, except all the colors and ideas kept swirling together and overlapping and I couldn’t for the life of me get a grip on which part of my life was which?

I’m experiencing a similar dilemma.

I sat down to write a minute or two ago, and paused a moment to consider what my life is like right now; what word or phrase or image or idea sums up me right now. And then I was absent-mindedly typing the word “swimmy” into the “Enter title here” space, and I knew exactly what my life was like.

I feel a bit like a fish. Not an intelligent or attractive fish, mind you, but rather like a wind-up, plastic, toy fish. I’m little and small and a bit fuzzy and I’m not going anywhere. In fact, I’m going gently in lopsided circles. I’m not lost, and the water’s not murky- it’s brilliantly blue and feels sterilized, like a swimming pool. No, lostness is not the issue; goal-less-ness is.

If only I could get a hold of some greater purpose, if only I could wrap my little fins around some higher goal, then maybe I could swim straight. Then maybe I would feel more like a determined seal than a mindlessly swimming goldfish.

So I tried out a couple different goals.

Spending the next several weeks of school expending copious amounts of energy for the purpose of doing phenomenally well in all my classes sounds great, but “A”s in and of themselves are not something to swim for; there must be more.

So I thought about spending the final weeks of this school year throwing myself body and soul into my relationships with friends. This is most definitely something I want to do more and more; I value my friends very much and want to bless them like they bless me, and be involved in their lives.

But no matter how much I love them, and how big a part of my life they are, friends can’t possibly be the reason to move in this life.

I kept going. Trying out goals and purposes and reasons to move. School, friends, work, Mexico, home, church, Bible study- I considered the various facets of my life. But each part, each slice of my life, was just that: a slice.

No one part of my life is anything more than a part. I’m not going to find an ultimate reason to move and swim and do and go in any limited aspect of this life that I live day in and day out.

Just like the circle chart whose colors refuse to stay inside the lines, so my life, my reasons, my goals, can hardly be sectioned off into segments and areas, each with its own purpose, its own meaning.

It doesn’t work like that.

Because school doesn’t make sense without church and church is not church without friends and friends are not such friends if I take away the Bible, and so on. Everything is connected here, and there’s no easy answer for this fish.

I’m spinning slowly around, trying hard to get a steady foothold on anything, something to push off of and be on my way. But I’m not going to find a foothold, a reason, a purpose to move for, in any one bit of my life. Rather, the answer is in the whole thing.

When I piece together each aspect of my life, watching them slide into place, connecting with one another as they were meant to, that’s when I’ll find reasons, that’s where I’ll find the push to go forward.

I still feel a bit like a fish, and I think I’m still swimming in a bit of a circle, but I know where to look now for the reason to go, the push to swim straight ahead, and it’s not in school or friends or home or work; it’s in all of these put together.

~Natalia

School and God and a Baby and a Cat

I’m back at school, preparing for the last several weeks of my first year here at Moody.

I’m sleepy.

Personal time that I have spent reading the Bible and discussing life with God has decreased over the past several days, and I’m feeling it.

I need to be spiritually prepared for life, not just mentally and physically.

So I’m going to brush my teeth, wash my face, collect my Bible and journal, and get into bed.

I’ll leave you with three-year-old Larissa, standing contentedly in rural Mexico, clutching a cat and a Chapstick.

Talk to you tomorrow, friends.

~Natalia

#TheHungerGames

I just received the following text from my father:

“At hunger games with brian and stephen. #wishyouwerehere”

His message produced in me a collection of conflicting emotions.

I felt proud, as well as general warm fuzzies, that my father, who staunchly refused to own a cellphone until scant years ago, texts me regularly.

I experienced shock and awe, mixed with much mirth, that my father included a hashtag in his text (and used it appropriately, at that!).

And lastly, and potentially most strongly, I felt deeply jealous that he is seeing the film before I am; the man has not even read the books!

Through it all, though, I’m clinging to the hope that waiting six more hours to see The Hunger Games will not, in fact, kill me, and the wait may even aid me in my sanctification process.

But I really, really want to see the movie.

~Natalia

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