This is Summer {#17}

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If it’s almost June,
then why must this little one
be so bundled up?

~Natalia

Just Thanks

And I pray that you will bless…

Lord, please help me…

God, I just don’t know what to do…

I’ve informed God, telling Him the layout of my life as if He didn’t lay it out that way in the first place, delicately planning and sculpting my story like the master craftsman that He is.

I’ve asked God, begging Him to help, to heal, to show, to teach, to have mercy. Pleading with the Lord of all to be gentle with me, all too often forgetting that He already holds my heart in the palm of His kind, compassionate, merciful hands.

I’ve yelled at God, waving my fists and yelling in the face of the Creator of everything. Angry and hurting, I’ve accused Him, questioned Him, doubted His wisdom, foresight, and provision, all the while falling back on the safety and comfort that He is.

Larissa prays differently.

Five years old, she closes her eyes, clamps her little dark fingers together, and says Thank You. She thanks God for little things, listing off small blessings and tiny parts of life that I so often take for granted. She thanks God for people, too, rattling off individuals as they come to mind. People she’s seen that day, people she loves, people she barely remembers, people who come to her mind as she prays.

Larissa says Thank You for things that haven’t even happened yet. She thanks God for having such a good day at 11am. She’s thankful for food she’s not eaten yet, people she’s yet to encounter, and activities still hours, or even days, away.

She doesn’t wait to see how things work out, or to judge whether or not she should be thankful; she just thanks Him.

And that’s faith.

~Natalia

This is Summer {#16}


I met this small soul
at WOW camp last summer, where
I’ll go very soon!

~Natalia

This is Summer {#15}

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Here we have some art:
a turtle made by two girls
playing at the beach.

~Natalia

Tuesday Night

It’s 8:30 in the evening, and the sun’s last rays are trying adamantly to reach into the rear windshield of the car. They’re not making a lot of progress, and cars up and down the road are clicking on their lights, as freshly lit street lights glow cheerily overhead.

My window is rolled down a couple of inches, and I can feel the cool breeze whipping those little strands of hair that insist upon escaping from my ponytail. I roll to a stop at a red light, and take advantage of the moment to switch radio stations. Sometime during the school year, Stevy took the time to set the radio presets to stations that I appreciate, as well, and I flip through two or three stations before a familiar tune fills the car.

The light still red, I lean back against my seat, my mind wandering back the last week of school.

It’s the Tuesday of finals week. I’ve been in the library all day, and will probably do the same tomorrow. This paper, this final paper, is due on Thursday morning, and I’m determined to do well on it. And people are already done with school and there’s packing to be done, and there’s a list outside Mary’s door that provides a rough estimate for when each girl is emptying her room and moving off the floor. Moving away for the summer. For a semester. Forever.

School marches on, and I feel just a couple good night’s sleep away from truly being on top of academic things. Friends and friendships insist upon being fluid, living, breathing, changing, growing things and as much as I want to hold up my hands and yell, “Freeze!” just so I can get my footing, I know it won’t do any good.

There’s grace, and forgiveness and understanding, but hearts and stories and friends and souls stop for no one.

So I keep my feet under me as best I can and keep running, desperately trying to keep up with lives, hearts, relationships that I barely understand myself.

And plans and ideas and obligations are hurling themselves at me from all sides and I’m tired of wondering what to do, and tired of turning things down, and all that is swirled together with tired of doing so much. I was in the middle of a hurricane, scrambling to keep my wits about me as finals week plod steadily on.

But it’s Tuesday night; Breakfast at Night night. And it’s 10pm and the SDR is packed, and the line runs out the door, and I’m sampling every cream cheese at the cream cheese bar. It loud down here, so very loud. Someone just serenaded his girlfriend at the table behind us, to the enthusiastic applause of tens of Moody students.

Across the table, Ellie’s trying to get my attention. I take another bite of my bagel, this time with strawberry cream cheese, and lean towards her to try to understand. It takes a couple tries to understand but then I get it- Do I want to go out for a drive around the city with some people?

Now? I can’t. I have too much work.

But Ellie is persuasive and you’ll be back around midnight. So, come, please?

I go.

We’re a little delayed in heading out, but soon enough, Ellie’s driving an SUV full of six girls down Michigan Avenue, and it’s warm out, and the windows are down, and the music is turned up, and the pair of girls sitting in the very back seat are dancing back and forth in time with the music, hands waving in the air.

I accidentally end up sitting shotgun, and I let my flip-flops fall to the bottom of the car as I pull my feet up in front of me. Swiveling in my seat, I’m met with five happy pairs of eyes, as the entire back of the car has picked up on the dancing, and there’s laughing and yelling and when a song comes on that we know, you better believe we’re singing right along.

And the city is bright and tall and breathtakingly beautiful and the ride comes to an end far too quickly. And Elli parks the car and we step back onto our little campus in the middle of the Big City, and are suddenly once more smack in the middle of the whirlwind.

But for that hour, driving up and down the brilliant Chicago streets with some of my closest friends from the school year, the whirlwind faded and fun took over.

And tonight, driving alone to the same songs that formed the soundtrack of that late-night car ride, I missed that moment, that evening, those ladies, very much.

And I love this summer, and I love the opportunities and fun I’ve been having, but deep down, I miss, too.

~Natalia

This is Summer {#14}

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Are you washing dishes, Boy?! You’re so domesticated!
I’m washing dishes in the wild with no shirt- there’s nothing domestic about this.

Oh, I guess you’re right.

~ Natalia

This is Summer {#13}


Babies gravitate
to splashing water fountains
when it’s this hot out.

~Natalia

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