Tuesday, May 21, 2013

on being single and a wedding


I am back in Belgium after an almost 2 week adventure to California.  One of my best friends-Sarah was going from being a Holt to a Kappen and I was not going to miss it.  Since it was such a long trip and I have begun to hate plane rides- I get VERY antsy after the first 2 hours- I decided to make a vacation of it and get to spend some sweet moments with Sarah before she went from single to married.  

I am SO glad I made the trip and that I went out early.  I can say it was SOO good for my soul.  
Another friend of mine from Belgium-Christie- also came out early and we rented a beach house together.  So for a few days it was just Sarah, Christie and I at the house.  It was beyond lovely to wake up leisurely in the mornings, eat breakfast together, work out together(yes-we did Insanity) and then go to the beach or run errands or whatever the day called for.  All the while having amazing conversations about life-it's challenges and it's joys.  I laughed so much my abs were hurting by the second day.  These ladies are AMAZING women of God who know how to listen well and not always feel like they have to solve problems.  They are women of prayer.  Women who love well.  Women who care deeply.  True Community is something I tend to lack in Belgium and I got to experience amazing community last week.  As I said-it was good for my SOUL.
The finale of the week was of course the wedding- which was probably the most beautiful and meaningful wedding I have ever gotten to be a part of-and if you know me- I consider myself in the running for 27 dresses status!  It was truly about 2 lives coming together as one.  The wedding was beautiful in an aesthetic sense-with old fashioned lights and pennants decorating the church and reception- but even more beautiful in a spiritual sense.  From them inviting the people there to stand and commit to encouraging them as a married couple to the families coming together for an intimate communion in the middle of the service to the pure worship as Rex(Bride's dad and pastor) joyfully yelled out while singing 10,000 reasons.  It was AWEsome!

Weddings are beautiful and intimate and powerful.  As a single woman I love the promise of a wedding.  The beauty of the day.  The beginning of a new adventure.  But the thing I love most about a wedding is the idea that for probably the only time in your life(except perhaps your funeral) it is the one time when people from all the different parts of your life come together to celebrate.  Maybe it's because my life is so compartmentalized.  Many of my friends have never met each other because they live across the country or even the world.  I love the idea that all of my friends and family will get to meet and have a party together!  That I will get to stand before them and God and make a lifelong commitment.  That everyone gets to be a part of the beginning of something so deep, so intimate.
As a single woman weddings not only bring out joy for this amazing and beautiful moment but it is often a bittersweet reminder that I am single.  Top that off with the fact that the week before the wedding it was mother's day and I had to SIT through the typical- "all mother's STAND up" bit at church- wondering if I will ever get to stand up-it made for an awesome but sometimes overwhelming week.  YES- I want to celebrate the mother's and YES I want to celebrate the brides-I want to be their loudest fans, their biggest cheerleaders but it does remind me of what I am not- a wife or mother.  Sometimes people write me cards and they mention me being a mother to so many through my job.  Yes -I have loved and mentored many kids over the years but I have not had to learn the selflessness that comes with motherhood.  I do not get to stand up on mothers day with all the other mother's- no matter how many lives I have touched.  As pastor's speak of Motherhood being the highest calling I am reminded that I may never be able to pursue that calling no matter how much I want it.  Sometimes people(especially within the church) say it is a privilege to be single and have time to do the things I want to do and to serve others with my time but at the same time they speak about how man was not meant to be alone.  As a single woman within the church there is more often than not this feeling of not belonging.  I have often felt used as a single person- someone who can help with children's ministry or with babysitting since they have time-so that the real people(the married people) can go to church or do fun things.  Single people are often not invited into community with married people but, regardless of age lumped together with all other single people-as if being single or married is the most important defining characteristic of each person.  I have often been made to feel-either overtly or covertly- that something is wrong with me-that I am not full or complete person until I am married.  Like the time my sister and I joined the same church at the same time.  We are basically the same age(she's one year older than I) but she was married with kids.  Right away she got invited to be a part of all kinds of groups while I was asked to help out in the nursery but not invited into any kind of community.  Or one holiday with my family when I was placed at the kids table(I was in my late 20's and the next oldest person at the kid's table was about 12) while my cousin, who is younger than I, was placed at the adults table because he had gotten engaged-I will admit to possibly calling them out on that one.

As I traveled home I was able to process through some of my thoughts and feelings from the week.  I tend to be a slow processor so it was nice to have a plane ride to work through some thoughts.  There may have been a moment on the plane where tears were literally streaming down my face but I think I did a pretty good job of paying it off as something in my eye:)  I am BEYOND excited for my sweet friend as she beings this whole new adventure of being married.  I was thrilled to stand beside her on Saturday and cry and smile and laugh as she joined her life with Billy's.  They are amazing people individually and I can already see God beginning to grow them and use them together as a couple.  I love that God orchestrated their lives is such a unique way and that there are no other Billy's or Sarah's in the world.  They are unique as individuals and they will be unique as a married couple.  I pray and have faith that their marriage is going to be powerful in many lives.

Maybe that's why these feeling and thoughts have come up- Because I could see what God is doing in them and through them and their coming together.  Maybe it makes me want that sense of community even more.  It is also a reminder to me that others want to be a part of community.  That even in my daily life I want to be inviting other people into my life- regardless of their marital status.

Friday, April 26, 2013

It's that time of year again!  We have been back from our Young Life service project for about 3 weeks.  Once again it was an AMAZING week.  We took 40 kids and 6 Adults from Brussels.  I honestly can not put it into word but since a picture is worth a 1000 words- consider this a novel!
Here is my cabin of girls- all juniors.  They were beasts on the Obstacle course which included getting pelted by flour balloons and having to carry me!
YES- I am so excited to be building my 8th playground!!
 By day 3 I was a bit tired of being the coordinator so I grabbed Ella and Ally along with a drill, measuring tape and saw and we got the platform wrapped in wood.  This is us being hardcore!
 Celine and I-this was our 5th service project together and this year we recruited her husband. I think he's "IN" cuz after about 4 days of being back he told her he missed it already:)
 Here I am with our senior student leaders- I am going to miss these awesome ladies next year!  They are amazing!  Madison is heading to university in Australia and Kelcie is off the Auburn!
 The adult and student leaders- 3 years ago this was as big as our whole group and now this is just the leaders-God is so powerful!!
 The Macedonian kids LOVING their new playground!
 So stinking Cute!!!
 and so cheeky!!
 Young Life Brussels in downtown Struga, Macedonia
 We saw lots of interesting things including a tractor that was actually a mobile saw mill- it looked like a car made out of scrap metal but they would drive it around and use it to cut wood.  This was one of the best sign-YES you can drive your donkey cart on the road-in case you were wondering!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Adventure.  It's something I crave.  It makes me feel alive.  I know I often speak of control but when it comes to travel I love to explore new places.  To get on a plane, land in an unknown country and hit to road to see what I find.  Now the modern convenience of the GPS does give me a bit more confidence but it still is fun to get lost and find something new.

This past year has been quite busy with work.  While that is awesome it has not left me a whole lot of time for adventure.  Sure I have traveled but it has pretty much been to places I have been before or it has been for work-in which case there are not a whole lot of chances to just see where the road leads me.

As I am typing this I am actually laughing at myself because I know I often speak of wanting and seeking control in my life but it seems the one place I love to get outside that box is when I travel.

Well this past weekend I headed off to Portugal.  The US women's soccer team was playing a tournament there and I was meeting up with some friends to take in a couple of games.  After having seen the women at the Olympics I was pretty excited to see them again.  I brought my face paint and various USA things in case we wanted to go all out.  I am a little sad to say that we did not go all out but we apparently still got on the live coverage several times because I received an email from a friend in the states asking if I was at the games cuz she was 99% sure she had seen me at lease 3 times and she thought the camera guy had a love affair with us:)

I arrived in Portugal on Friday and we headed straight to the game.  Right as the game began it started POURING.  Not the weather I was hoping for but we were just excited to be there.

Pouring rain
Game Face:)
Megan and I are excited and Kerry is just realizing we have the same camera

By the 2nd half the weather turned gorgeous and we considered running over the security guard to stand in the sun that was on the field-we were gonna promise not to harass the players- we just wanted the sun and the stands were in the shade!  but we held ourselves back:(




Tobin Heath sure has a game face while she signs
went for a sunset walk on the beach
 My friends had to leave saturday but I stayed on to watch the Monday game.  So on Sunday, with the sun shining, I went for a walk on the beach and then found a place where the wind wasn't whipping and sat and read in the sun-GLORIOUS!  Monday the game was about and hour away so i decided to make a day of it and left early to go visit some cliffs and a fort I had heard about.  Though it was still quite windy the sun was out and I made it work:)
Cliffs of Sagres

I'm so excited to be in Portugal!
Game on Monday
The Fort at Sagres

Monday, February 4, 2013

Between two worlds

I went downtown the other day dressed like this.  I wouldn't say this look is particularly "american" or "european" but probably somewhere in between.  The converses are less american than the many pair of other sneakers I have but the bright blue coat is not so very european.  Apparently I am completely wrong about what makes a look american or european for as I exited the Metro at DeBroukere a girl(woman actually-probably in her early 20's) essentially yelled at me, "Vous etes Americaine!"(you are american) and then looked at me and smiled and repeated it louder and with the affirmative nodding of her head.  I was so shocked -first that someone would make eye contact with a stranger on the Belgian metro but also that someone I didn't know would speak to me(maybe not so much to me as at me- but. . . )!  I simply nodded my head yes, gave her a quick smile(trying to hide the shocked look on my face) and ran up the stairs.
Seriously though- I am perfectly aware that I am 100% american.  As a matter of fact I am very capable of laughing at myself and my purely american sense of style.  But I was not aware that my outfits are so SHOCKINGLY american that perfect strangers in the metro feel it is their duty to shout it to everyone within earshot!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New year!


What a difference a year makes!
It's been a common theme in conversations recently.  Friends who were just beginning to date last year but are about to get married this year.  Kids who were babies last year but are now walking and talking.  People that we didn't even know last year who are now some of our intimate friends.
Some things change and some things stay the same and as one year ends and another begins it seems that is often on our minds.

What is the same, what has changed, and what would I like to change in the coming year?
I have often written about the fact that I don't always love change.  I am a lover of tradition and comfort and expectations being met.  I was in the States over christmas and I was on the phone with a good friend and we were talking about our holiday plans/activities.  As I went through the long list of "Hunsberger traditions" she said- "yeah I can see you loving traditions."

It got me thinking- why?  when my life is SO often crazy and change seems around every corner why am I a lover of tradition?  I think that is exactly why i love tradition.  My life IS crazy.  From one year to the next i never seem to be sure of where I will be living or what I will be doing.  I can not often count on even being able to communicate with people when I walk outside my door.  I think that is the very reason that when I go to the States I LOVE to have traditions.  Things I can count on.  Things that are comfortable and easy.  Times with people who I don't even need to talk to in order to communicate.

visited some friends in NYC(Rockefeller center)
Wanda and I on Christmas eve
3 of the sisters with our hangers and bags
the "BIGS" with their stockings
the "littles" with their trucks and shopping cart
settling in for Christmas eve sleepover




cousins together for the first time in a LONG time

Brothers and their toys

Duct tape creations were all the rage:)

watching wanda set off fireworks

our annual puzzle!


Christmas Uno

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Days off

I don't know why but I have a hard time letting my brain turn off.  It's always been a problem.  Perhaps not so much a problem(it's probably why I've always done so well in school and in sports), maybe more of a nuisance.  It's like that piece of skin your tongue finds on the inside of your mouth and you just can't stop biting at it until the whole of your cheek is messed up.  I am that way with just about every thought that comes into my head.  I play it out in every scenario possible, seeing every angle, every possible combination of results.
It's one of the reasons why when there is a school holiday i try to get away.  It seems to be the best way for me to turn my mind from work related things to others.
Well as I said in my previous post I was just too tired to head out even for a few days this holiday so I am staying put.  Starting tomorrow I will be staying with 4 boys while their parents go back to the states.  They are great kids but I am gonna be honest and say it's probably going to get a little crazy over at the Lane house soon:)  so I wanted to enjoy my 2 days here in Brussels where I did not have to do anything work related.
My normal work schedule is a little crazy so it doesn't always mesh up with many of my friends schedules.  As a matter of fact seeing my friends sometimes involves putting it on the calendar a good month in advance!  I know it's crazy!  So yesterday I took advantage of my freed up schedule and spent a few quality hours with Jenna and baby Olivia(who is now 1 and not so much a baby).  It was so fun seeing Jenna and getting lots of cuddles from Olivia-she often looks at me like I am crazy but she is willing to give me hugs and those pats on the back that toddlers do best!!
Today I had no plans and the weather was alternating between raining and being sunny.  So i decided to go to a cafe that a friend had told me about.  They have free wifi(not as much of a given as in the states) and lots of food, drinks and comfy chairs. I took the tram there so I wouldn't have to find parking and I arrived amidst an influx of people.  I looked around a bit discouraged that all of the comfy seats were taken and I might have to sit on one of the not so comfy wooden chairs.  But i plowed on and ordered my fresh mint tea(yummy) and walked over to 2 men who were sitting with 2 empty comfy chairs.  And as you do in Belgium I asked if I could sit in one of the empty chairs(I may have even been a little too excited and asked in English instead of french but lucky for me A-they understood what I was asking and B-they weren't even speaking french!)
I proceeded to spend the next 2 or so hours oscillating between reading/doing my Bible study and people watching.  Brussels is such a mixture of culture and language.  It is always fun to sit in a public place and listen to the many different language(today I heard english, french, polish(i think), german and swedish)
It was a great day and a reminder of some of the many reasons I love this city


Saturday, October 27, 2012

breaks and exhaustion

Breaks . . .
For all of my life (that I can remember) my year has followed that of a school calendar.  First as a student, then as a teacher and now as someone who works with students.  Those school calendars have months of intensity which lead up to a week or two of break.  Today marks the first day of Fall break here in Brussels.  For a brief moment I thought of going on an adventure to visit some friends in Luxembourg and then Germany but I have decided that both my mind and my body need a little break from running and so I will be spending the next week in Brussels while most of my friends and the kids I work with have headed out all over the world for their first real break of the school year.
exhaustion . . .
Thursday night at about 6pm I started to wonder if it was too early to go to bed.  I didn't want to eat or even watch tv.  I just wanted to sleep.  But I knew that if I went to bed at 6pm I would probably wake up at 2am and be wide awake.  So I made it until about 9pm and off it went to bed.  This semester has been amazing and I am just coming off a 10 day visit from my parents which meant lots of new adventures and exploring!  All of that, however, has led me to be really tired.
So this week I am looking forward to sleeping in, cooking good food, catching up with friends I haven't gotten to spend quality time with, and just re-booting!