…Wrapping.

Today marks one year.


One year since I woke up in my own bed back in Indiana.
It has taken all this time…the half a million minutes of these last twelve months to try to wrap my heart around my time in Manhattan…
All that time to separate the good from the spiritbreaking, and to just be thankful for the good.
I miss the pulse of the city, I miss the surprise of every moment, I miss the Upper West Side, our block, our building, our landlord… but mostly I miss the fact that every minute I could wrap my arms around Emily and Zach and Christel and Steph and Caroline… that I could pray over, love on, giggle with the strangers that became friends, that became partners, that became faces I can’t wait to see in heaven… to each person, every team, my beloveds, and the city that never sleeps… I miss you.

As Foy Vance plays in the background, yet another treasured find of that time, here is a repost of my final entry from that New York State of Mind…

***

Well, it’s time to wrap up this summer’s Big Apple experience…

As I write sitting on a high green hill in grand ol’ Indiana, the smell of the subway and the blaring sounds of taxi horns are replaced with sweetness & silence.

As my cab sped from Greenwich Village to Queens on Saturday afternoon, I flipped around to stare out of the windows and pray over the city while it was still in sight.

The skyline of midtown Manhattan stretched on unending, and I quietly cried as my driver listened to Oldies and my heart swam through two months of memories…  The struggles that had heavied, the answers that had encouraged, the long days that were spent serving and the sometimes longer nights that were spent praying, crying, and turning restlessly in bed.

In our short time together we had patched quite a pleasant routine… I awoke earlier than Emily and showered while she french-pressed her eyes open, she chose the music while I blush brushed my cheekbones, and together we sang.  I gave a ten minute countdown, we took turns locking the door, we were warmly wished a Good Morning by the homeless man outside of Starbucks on our way to the subway, we rode in silence, we fought the crowds, we danced with our parking garage attendants, we prayed for the day, we met Zach and the team, we prayed again, we offered kindness to a broken city, we pleaded for darkened hearts,  we prayed for legal parking spots, we sang some more, we praised Him, we laughed and we knitted a sisterhood.

There was a great deal of excitement in our last week…excitement to see our families and get back to the world we knew, but there was also fear.  There was fear of what that that old world would look like now that we have changed, fear that the enemy would strike harder as we transitioned again, fear of all we have to process…

As my cab continued to speed towards LaGuardia, and my spirit flooded, I looked again at the city that had begun to feel like home and prayed fiercely for our omnibenevolent God to breeze in with intent and claim His kids, I prayed for the 450,000 people we had touched for Christ, I prayed for those we had ministered alongside of this summer, I prayed that God would be glorified.

My 137 pounds of luggage bounced in the back… it was time to go home.

That night my family surprised me at the airport with an armful of flowers, I came home to 12th street to find streamers and balloons and “Welcome Home” banners stretched across every wall.  The next morning I awoke before my alarm, buzzing with the anticipation of being back at my church with my beloveds.   Wrists spritzed with cotton candy and Bible slipped into my purse, I drove to Common Ground where a saved seat and my favorite soy iced chai were waiting for me.  My pastor shouted a “What’s up New York State of Mind?” in my direction, and my smile and hands tipped up to worship.

We lunched at LaPiedad, the laughter of my loves poured as we shared stories and snuggled their beautiful babies, we satisfied our sweet teeth at The Flying Cupcake, then hugged tight.

I packed my bags again, talked with an old friend, and jumped back in the Jeep to head north.  As I cruised along the highway, trying to acclamate my new New York driving skills to the Indiana interstate, the 72 degree breeze whipped through the windows and I turned the volume as high as it would go so as to catch every word Miss Brooke Fraser had to sing.  The warmth of the midwest got under my skin and encircled my soul, the sun dipped and painted the sky with broad strokes of lemon yellow and berry pink.  I breathed without exhaling for a full minute, almost willing the scent of fresh cut grass and dusk to lock itself inside of me.

Yesterday was spent listening to my brothers, cooking a meal that would make them smile, toasting marshmallows to top their dessert, and praying over them with hot tears and hands squeezed tightly together.

Bob and I decided to take the Thunderbird to go grocery shopping, we lowered the convertible top, my neck cradled against the headrest as my face freckled under the sun that raced above the trees as we raced beneath.  I smiled though no one saw, laid my left hand on the shoulder of my brother as he drove, and let the fingers of my right tap against the wind.  Dancing leaves dappled shadows on my skin and as this whole experience wrapped up, I realize that the gift isn’t coming home, it’s not feeling comfortable and content again, it’s not being known…

This whole heartbreaking summer was the gift.

Sure, this homecoming was sweet, but you know what is sweeter?

The atheist that listened to the truth of Christ, the granola bars placed in hungry hands, the prayers that only God heard and only God answered, the unbreakable bond tied between Emily and Zach and myself, the cards of thanks from the North Carolina team, the words of truth that have continued to wash over us from BridgePointe, the understanding and encouragement from our Journey girls, the love we felt from Riva, and every single high-five, hug, prayer, or facebook message from the teams, teens, church members and new friends we had the privelege of sharing New York City with.

As we unwrapped this summer, you were the beautiful present that was discovered.

Has anyone told you today what a gift you are?
Well then, please let me.

wrap

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