Have I ever told you the story of the lady chasing the parrot without any pants on?

Have I ever told you the story of the lady chasing the parrot without any pants on?

Every once in awhile, I find myself saying and experiencing something that seems like it’s outside of reality. A few years ago, I was spending a vacation with some great friends in Washington. I rushed around that week marking as many things off of my bucket list as possible.

I hiked in Mount Rainier. I was fascinated as I stood on a pile of snow in shorts and t-shirts. I was even more amazed at a double rainbow that seemed to appear just for me and my moment.

The next day I was able to stand on the beach and listen to the waves crash onto shore.

But my plan from the beginning was to go to Pike’s Place, drink a Starbucks, and watch them throw a fish. And, it was everything I had hoped for. I stood outside of Starbucks with my coffee in hand and listened to a barbershop quartet serenade the pedestrians as they walked by. I walked through all the unique handmade booths and fell in love with the DIY candles and the fresh flowers. I took in all the unique people, art, and crafts.

And…of course…it rained a little!

After the rain let up, we began our stroll again. It was perfect. I was taken it all in, but the perfection was interrupted abruptly with, “Pauley come back.” It was repeated at a loud decibel, over and over. As I looked over, I did a double take. A woman was chasing a parrot. She would yell at “Pauley,” he would wait for her to get close, and as soon as she thought he was in reach he would take off again (and I’m pretty sure if he could smirk, he would have). This happened over and over again.

As I watched this happen, I realized this lady chasing the parrot didn’t have pants on! I was speechless. It was a moment I thought only happened on TV sitcoms; a pant-less woman chasing a parrot through the middle of a tourist packed park! And the scene kept going.

I watched the scene play out in front me, captivated by what was happening. And, that’s when I noticed it. Something even more surprising. The lady hadn’t had time to wear her pants out of the house, but she did have enough time to throw them over her shoulder in the shuffle. So, as she would chase the Pauley the pants would slide down her shoulder and she would push them back up and continue her pursuit.

I don’t think she ever caught Pauley. He just kept moving up the street with her following behind him.

I did learn a few lessons that day:

1. Traveling leads you to unexpected places.
2. Life is constantly surprising, breathtaking, and amazing, and often in ways you didn’t anticipate.
3. Probably the most important life lessons of all was never leave the house without your pants!

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C-SPAN, popsicles, and reflections on Memorial Day!

memorial day

Our staff piled into the multi-purpose room of our therapeutic home to witness a monumental day for anti-trafficking. This past week the House introduced 5 bills revolving around fighting trafficking. So, with popsicles in hand we all piled into one room to wait and see what would come about; would we be one step closer to change, would we simply see a new stage of awareness or would the topic be simply ignored. I sat there with my optimism and pessimism in battle with one another.

We watched for over two hours and I was encouraged. More than once, I witnessed my staff cheer. I watched as several turned around to smile as a congressman/woman “got it.” We watched as this issue became a bipartisan issue! Regardless of how you feel about the bills or the representatives presenting them, the attention and momentum it was(is) creating was exciting.

And, the bills passed. Just a few of the bills included:

— H.R. 4058: Requires states to identify and address sex trafficking of minors in foster care.

— H.R. 3530: Imposes additional financial penalties on sex traffickers and helps increase the amount of restitution victims could receive.

— H.R. 3610: Encourages states to put in place laws that treat minors who have been sex trafficked as victims rather than criminals.

— H.R. 4225: Makes it a federal crime to knowingly advertise for the commercial sexual exploitation of minors and trafficking victims.

As I experienced this monumental week, it made me appreciate the holiday I just observed. And, more importantly appreciate my dad and all the other men and women in my life who protected my freedom.

Freedom is a concept that has been plaguing my thoughts. What is it? How do we get it? How do we offer it to other people. More importantly, how often do I take it for granted?

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” -Nelson Mandela

When I was a little girl, my dad attempted to instill this value in me. Every year for Memorial Day, our family went camping and my dad would explain the importance of what the day meant. Every year for Veteran’s Day, dad would let Annie and I skip school and he shared his military stories, giving us all the details both good and bad. And, regardless of the event or who was around, when a patriotic song was played, he expected that we all stand up in respect.

Those moments often went unnoticed when I was younger. I lacked the understanding of how much my freedom cost and how much responsibility comes with that freedom.

So as I remember what my dad did for this country, for our liberties and freedom, I realize the best way to honor his legacy is to fight for freedom in my own way. dad military

“…and my hope…

“…and my hope has he pulled up like a tree.”
-Job 19:10

“He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone, and my hope has he pulled up like a tree.”

 

A heavy sigh and my forehead down on the steering wheel seems to be my stress reaction as of late.  As the busyness and chaos encircle me, I find these small gestures offer a bit of release.  This week definitely required some release; release from the grief of losing a mentor, release from the unexpected of letting a new relationship go, release from trying new places and events, and release from uncontrollable waiting.  And, all around me I hear the phrase and witness, “my spirit is crushed,” from the people around me.

The first thing to disappear is hope and as the frustration progresses, hope is as if it is uprooted.  

But, once I was home, my roommate D met me with enthusiasm.  She quickly showed me two sunflower seeds.  Last year, she had grown a huge sunflower.  So large in fact she would have to hold it up for pictures and when she decided to get rid of it it was so strong she had to dig it up from the roots.  Thinking it was completely gone, the new seeds this year were a surprise.

Just when she thought it was gone, there was still a remnant of it left, a glimmer of it.

I think that’s how it is with hope.  I thought “my hope had been pulled up like a tree,”  but as I keep moving, and praying, and striving, I realize there is still a remnant there, and it has nothing to do with me.  

You see that same passage I quoted above doesn’t end there:

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”    – Job 19:25-26

Even when all my hope is gone, my frustration is overbearing, or the chaos consumes me, I can pause and know my Redeemer lives.