Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Opening Up.

The last week of July that quickly bled into August was when I found myself in San Francisco. The week before SF, I found myself groaning while speaking with my best friend over the phone. I was slightly dreading going to San Francisco and investing in that place. In previous mission trips, I'd fallen deeply in love with Fresno and St. Louis. I mean, when you choose to raise money to go to a place, and to see the places people avoid and choose to open your eyes and heart to see the beauty there...well, you're kind of a goner.

I dreaded going to San Francisco, and falling in love with The City. I dreaded opening myself up to another city when I didn't know the longevity of my stay or impact. However, with six high schoolers, it's difficult to not be excited when visiting the City and what adventures we might find ourselves in. I braced myself for a difficult yet joyous week, committing that I'd never wanted to visit a city where I wouldn't be present to its realities.

Not surprisingly, I met some great families, communities, and had my heart stolen by a 6 year-old named, Bailey. Within the first 24 hours, I was cursing my soft heart that is so ready to love people, and empathize with their lives. It hurt to love someone so much in the span of a couple hours and have to say goodbye.

I've sometimes wondered about cutting off meeting new people and making new friends in light of Rachelle's death. It was easy loving Rachelle, but it's been one of the most miserable parts of my existence to lose her.

I seriously think about it for a bit, and let myself grieve deeply for what I've lost. Good friends are hard to find and keep, never mind losing them. Under any circumstances. I breathe deep, reminding myself that life is to be fought for, that people and friendship and love are to be fought for. It's not about me, it's about us and how we learn about God, hope, and joy... through each other.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer Rain.

A week ago, I was seriously complaining about the heat. It was hot since 8 am, and it was humid to boot. It was not pretty. I spent the day drinking horchata, eating Vietnamese sandwiches, and hopping from business to business that offered appropriate air conditioning. It was stupid hot.

As I went about the day, I ran into my friends Isaak and Chris. And their beautiful baby, Ayla. [She is so beautiful, I literally gasped.] As I was catching up with them, Isaak mentioned she heard on the news that it was going to rain later that day. I gave her the 'what news were you watching?' face... it felt too hot to rain. And in the middle of August? Get real, people.

I continued to spend the day enjoying air conditioning, lots of water...and the regular routine mentioned above. I counted the hours until the day was over (I started work at 9am, and was very much waiting for 7:30pm). My best friend texted me asking how I was doing regarding Rachelle. I said fine, I'd thought of her some, and the knot in my stomach eased and went away. Why? Was it an anniversary that I'd forgotten? The funeral? I shrugged it off, needing to get back to work.

As my co-worker and I were walking back to the office to wrap up the day, I looked up to the sky and realized it was really dark. Rain sort of dark. I smiled a bit, and shook my head. I guess I was wrong to be so incredulous about Isaak's earlier comment.

We wrapped up our paperwork, and as soon as I stepped outside I asked, "Is it raining?!" I'd suddenly found myself in a state of anticipation about it raining in August. And then, I smelled it. That beautiful smell of wet cement/rain that we all associate with, well, rain. I ended up gleefully stepping outside, and beginning my trek home.

It was sprinkling. I was initially disappointed, but as it started raining harder and harder, I found myself smiling, and pretty soon, laughing! This joy just bubbled from my soul and out of my mouth... when else would it rain this hard? In the middle of the summer?

I walked home thinking of Rachelle. How she'd start running through the rain, how she'd tell me some epic story we could tell as we got home pretty much soaked to the skin with August rain. I thought of how she'd be the one who'd wordlessly reach for my hand, knowing that this was a special moment in the summer, but a moment that was a fluke we'd shared to begin with.

After getting home and cleaning myself up, I wound down for the night by checking Facebook. There it was: Rachelle's birthday. The guilt hit first. I'd missed her birthday.

And yet, after offering myself grace for not remembering, I thought of how amazing it was to be caught in a rainstorm in the summer. It would only happen on Rachelle's birthday, after all.

Monday, August 19, 2013

"He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures."
-Amazing Grace

Friday, August 9, 2013


I heard this song on Sunday, on my way to church. And for some reason, the song has stuck with me since then with a couple other songs.

"Try" by P!nk is one of my favorite songs by her, and regarding Rachelle, I keep coming back to the line:
"Just because it burns doesn't mean you're going to die, you gotta get up and try..."

It's true. The pain of losing Rachelle burns and hurts and is scarring, but it doesn't mean I'm going to die.
It means it's another opportunity to get up and try living another day.

Seriously, this video is AMAZING. Rachelle would have loved this.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Very Few.

Bryce asked me for a 'Sol Story' last night. I found that words clung in my throat. I wouldn't be able to tell a story without crying. Words are far and few when I feel a lot of emotion deeply. A year ago, I had a hard time speaking, often wanting to be alone to let words flow on pen and paper instead of using my voice. I couldn't speak. The first words out of my mouth were in a song, and that's when I knew I'd make it through.

This year is no different. Sunday was particularly difficult. I wanted to stay in bed and sleep, letting the day pass in a slight coma. I asked a friend to join me for church, to give me a reason to not bum myself out. To help remind me that as unfair as it seems, the world goes on. There's beauty in that.

Church was good. I was greeted by folks I love, and I prepared to help with communion. I felt numb, sad, and a slight pulling sensation to run away. (Don't worry, I didn't.)

However, it struck me that part of what I was asked to recite during communion was this:

And with our loved ones,
Separate from us now,
Who in this mystery are still close to us,
We join in the song of your unending nearness.

As we took communion, as I partook of the bread...I began to cry. I've been struggling for so long between knowing and understanding God's goodness with that of the frustration, anger, and doubt as I lost a dear friend. And yet, as I leaned into this remembrance of Jesus, I felt my heart choosing to hope and trust in Jesus through the heartbreak of grief.

And as my words were those to glorify God, who some days I blame with the loss of Rachelle, I mustered up enough courage to continue to seek his face.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


A year ago today, I got a call from my best friend. Rachelle was gone. It was a day when I truly thought my heart would break into a million pieces. And yet, miraculously, I began to smile and laugh a bit that day too.

She is one of my greatest friends. She could read me like a book, understood and embraced my love language of touch, and knew the way to my heart: good food, laughter, and some dancing.

I choose to remember her today. As I walk around with a huge lump in my throat, and some tears threaten to fall, and others definitely do... I randomly laugh and smile at the unexpected, silly, and precious moments we had together.

I love you, Rachelle-y.