My Epiphany

Yes, I know it's nearl 1:00 in the morning. I know I should be sleeping, considering I didn't get to sleep until nearly 4:00 a.m. yesterday but it is because I didn't get to sleep till 4:00 that I need to stay up late tonight and tell you what happened.
Okay, so yesterday was just an all-around bad day and I won't even go into it all. I was feeling extremely emotional and I honestly had no idea why. You know that feeling you have when you know that something is wrong but you don't exactly know what? Well, yeah, I hate that feeling. Because I can't fix something I don't understand.
So I get to Grandma and Pawpaw's at about midnight and I am so mad at Austin, and I don't know why. So I went inside and saw Pawpaw and started crying.
I sat inside with him for a long time, talking things out and still not feeling like I had hit the nail on the head. I was still confused, still angry about something, and I decided to go out to the driveway where he was sitting, it was about 1:45 by now. I sat down beside him, and I started talking to him. Really talking just like we used to. And I had a mid-crisis epiphany.
I asked him, I said:
"Why did you never take care of me? I was always taking care of everyone else and I always had to take care of myself. I always had to stick up for myself. I always had to comfort and lift myself up. You are the older one. You were the one who was supposed to love me and protect me. Why did you never take care of me?"
Ladies and gentleman, I have come to the almost embarassing conclusion. Me, Emily Suzanne Doris Jones, would like (and I would almost say "needs") someone to take care of her occasionally.
I want someone who worries about me. Who is protective of me. Who cares about me. It sounds so selfish, I know, but it's something I need every once and awhile. And it was always supposed to come from Austin.
He is my older brother. He is supposed to want to protect me and worry about me, and he never really has because I've always done it for myself.
Someone teases me (or him, for that fact) I take 'em down. Someone gropes me at a football game, I punch them in the face. Someone says something innapropriate, I stare them down.
It's always been that way, and I don't blame Austin at all. He told me straight up, he just never thought I needed/wanted anything from him. I always seemed to have it under control and he didn't even consider the fact that I might need help or comfort.
So we stayed up until 3:30 in the morning, talking it out. It was like old times. I told him what I needed. He apologized for not being there when I had needed him before. He promised to try. I promised not to expect the world from him.
It was so needed. I had felt us growing apart lately, and this conversation, no matter how hard it was to intiate, was so necessary.
And I had the epiphany. I know what has been hurting me lately, and now that I know what it is I can make my needs clear. I felt selfish for awhile, but I think it's perfectly normal for anyone to need a few things occasionally. It's normal for me to need a little help, someone to lean on. And I need someone who is willing to take the wheel for awhile and wants to make me feel loved and safe.
So while all this is going on, we kind of need comic relief and God provided it.
I am going to tell you all one last story that will either leave you dazed and confused or rolling on the ground laughing. My reaction was a bit of both.
While we were talking, we saw a car pull over under the street light on the highway right in front of us. Two girls in nothing but their under clothes got out and started dancing around to the music blaring from their car. They danced in the neighbor's yard, oblivious to our presence, for about a minute or two, then stumbled back into their car and left.
It was exactly what we needed to break the intensity of the situation. All in all, it was a horrible day turned wonderful. I feel so much better to have gotten it all off of my chest and into the open. Now I actually know what has been wrong with me lately and I can fix it.
If you're having problems with someone, I seriously suggest just talking it out. It helps. I promise.

Never Quite Healing

I wish someone could answer all of the questions I have. I wish I didn't have so many questions. I wish I had easier questions. I wish I didn't have any questions at all!
It seems like there is never a time in life that I'm not battling hurt and pain and anger. There is always something that effects me negatively, and I have to constantly remind myself to count my blessings, enjoy the little things, smile...I don't think that's the way it is supposed to be!
I shouldn't have to fight to be happy! It shouldn't be a constant battle, it shouldn't be such a struggle for me to feel okay.
Of course there are days that I am honestly happy. I can forget about my troubles for awhile, but it all comes back so quickly.
For example, yesterday was a happy day. I got to spend the day wandering around the woods with a friend. I got wonderful news and I spent the evening at the park with people I haven't seen in forever. I got to have an amusing conversation turned deep with another good friend. I listened to Jack Johnson and Sarah Haze while watching my sisters dance. It was a wonderful day.

Then there was today. I found a letter from someone who shall remain nameless. It was an old letter from this person who has seriously hurt me and it was one of those same old apology-promise-excuses letter. You know the kind I'm talking about? The kind of letter that is full of "I'm sorry for..." "I promise I'll be better..." "It's only because..."
Well, needless to say, I got those letters dozens of times throughout my growing up years, and needless to say, the promises in those letters were always broken. The apologies were never enough. The excuses were the same every time.
So that brought up raw memories. It hurt. It still hurts. And I had to make a concious effort to throw that letter away and not dwell on the past.
Then, like an idiot, I decided to read some of my old journals. I was just organizing my books on my bookshelf and found them so I sat down to read. Bad idea.
It took me back to simpler times. Happier times. When a boy liked you he offered you a camel and you make up a fiance in the US and you're back to being best friends. It took me back to the time I knew exactly who I was.
And then the pity party started. I sat on my bedroom floor asking why. Why did I have to go through all of this? Why did I have to be the one who had to grow up so quickly? Why did I have to be the "strong" one?
And with every pity party comes the point where I have to decide to pull myself up by the bootstraps and suck it up. I have to make myself happy, and I have a happy ritual.
I play my music, I sit on the kitchen counter and look out the window and drink tea. It makes me relax, which makes me focus.

So I went through the motions again. Anger, sadness, getting over it. Same old motions I have been going through almost every day for 2 years now.
I know that life is full of heart ache and that I am never going to be 100% happy. I know there is always going to be some sadness, I know there is always going to be a struggle and I know that I am going to have to keep my head up and make a concious effort to be happy....but the truth it right now I am just tired.
I am exhausted with it all. I just don't want to hurt any more.


Ah yes, I've caught you on one of my nostalgic days. And what I tend to do when I am nostalgic is reminisce. So you're in for some possibly strange, most assuredly random memories that are special to me.

How about our last morning in Marrakesh? I remember waking up while the room was still grey, before the incense was even lit, and stumbling around in the half light searching for my camera.
You can't miss the sunrise on your last day! So I went out into the atrium and climbed up the stairs, past the little garden, all the way to the roof.
From the roof you could see the Jemaa el Fna, the shopkeepers beginning to stir, the grey of the woodsmoke beginning to drift up to mingle with the grey of the sky. I could see the complex strands of the medina twisting through this beautiful city, I could see all of the minarets jutting into the morning sky and to the east, over the mountains, I could see the red tinge of sunlight peeking up shyly. It always amazed me that a sunrise could look so shy and timid while a sunset was so bold.
Directly next to me through the laticed windows of his tower, I could see the Imam of the mosque next to us prepare for the call to prayer. He didn't see me, and I did not call attention to myself as I watched him. I saw the lights flicker on in the minarets of all of the city, and then it began with just one. I heard it, the song calling the city of Marrakesh to prayer.
One Allahu Akbar was followed by another then another until the cacaphony was ringing everywhere as the sun rose over the mountains to make the chilly morning a bit warmer. It was a magical moment, convicting me once more of this world's need for Christ. It's something I'll never forget.

I can't even decide what memories from Ivory Coast I want to share. All of those late night walks through the streets, laying out in the field to just watch the stars and revel in each others' company. All of those first rains when all inhibitions were forgotten and we all ran about, dancing in the streets, wallowing in the puddles, climbing through the trees.
Oh, the first rains...when the ground was so red, so dry, and the air was so thick with dust. The leaves would be orange with grime, the heat-waves from the streets would make the air dance and then you'd see it in the distance. Giant, rolling purple clouds flashing with white lightning, rumbling with promise. The wind would pick up and humidity would fill the air, making your dusty skin tingle with the promise of cool relief...and then it would happen. One drop would fall, leaving it impression in the dust, a little dark circle of hope. Down the rest of it would come, falling, pouring, torrential and beautiful, the most glorious music you have ever heard. It's a symphony of rain on tin and tile, of thunder and swishing trees, of wind and childrens' squeals. It turns the roads to bright red mud, it washes the leaves and makes them green again and brings the world to life once more.
I miss riding in the back of the Kia to the villages, singing and clapping and trying our best not to fly off the back. I miss the sheer joy of being with people who have nothing and still dance. I miss the sound, no not the sound, the feel of the drums. I miss all of those days sitting in the trees with Abou, laughing so hard I have to clutch the branches to keep from falling. I miss running and jumping and climbing with him, dancing and singing and laughing like the wild child that is still somewhere inside of me.
I miss merely walking with Moussa, his simple outlook on life and his ready smile keeping me grounded. I miss all of those days laying out in Dalal's yard, all of us together, the peices of my childhood coming perfectly together to form my present.
I miss working in the Clinic, feeling like I was contributing to the world. I miss the feeling of family I got with those people, my other mother, Nathalie, my Grandmama, my uncles like Maiga and Emmanuel, my brothers Eugene and Janvier...
I even miss seeing the sick, the dying, the mothers and children suffering from kept me grounded, it kept my perspective on kept me grateful.
I miss the little things like the sound of a knock on our gate that, I miss the squeak of mom's bedroom door telling me it was time to actually sleep. I miss the simplicity. I miss the bittersweet feeling of being so blessed. I miss being able to find others to bless so easily.

Yes, I apologize if you're sick about hearing what I miss, but there is still some things to cover. What about childhood memories?
All of those times when life was so simple that not being able to find your favorite wooden sword was a crisis.
I remember all of those days Austin and I would spend with Miriam and Sylvia and Abakar and Abou, playing Lord of the Rings in the woods. I remember being the only white skinned, blond little girl amongst dozens of ebony faces and it not making a difference.
I remember all of those times we would find an old abandoned house and sit in the rafters eating papaya and passion fruit, hiding from any adult that walks by. I remember sitting in the mango trees, always having to jump down when we disturbed the fire ants.
I remember all of those fistfights I got in. Yes, I was a naughty child, but they were teasing Austin. Of course, he didn't care, but I did. I got my butt kicked more than once. a 7 year old scrawny girl against four or five 10 year old never ended well for me. Of course I didn't go down without giving a few bruises.
I remember the game we used to play during team meetings called Moon had absolutely no plot, no rules and no way of winning or losing. It was great.
I remember going to Aunt Brenda's to play in the sandbox and make "amazing" castles, then going inside to watch Little Rascals and eat popcorn with actual butter!
I remember those little green seeds that hurt when you got hit by them, so obviously, what we would do, was throw them at each other. Makes sense, right?
Oh yes, and that one hut we built with trees and mud and palm actually stood for a long time. I miss club houses like that, a little place that seems simply magic to you.

Wow....lots of reminiscing going on. I told you. I am nostalgic. I apologize, normally I would just journal these things but I thought I would share. It never hurts to know the inconsequential details of one's never really does any good either. Those were amazing memories, they will be with me forever, they will always make me smile....but they're in the past and I don't want to focus on them anymore than I have to. I want to make new ones to think about in the future. What is life without its random moments of idyllic simplicity?
The restlessness is setting in again. I can't sit still. I find myself pacing. I find myself sitting on the porch in the middle of the night watching a lightning storm. It's making me crazy.
The color green, the feel of grass, the smell of sandal wood, the sound of an airplane or of running water...they all make me go crazy.
I just want find a field and run, to find a tree and climb, to get in the car and drive until the road ends. There is something inside of me that refuses to settle down, and to be honest, it's making me crazy.
I am tired of living the immature life expected of someone my age. I am sick of dealing with silly teenage romances and silly teenage dramas...I want something serious. I want something real. Do you ever feel like you're in a phase in your life that you just want to get out of? I am done with the mundane teenage years of my life.
It's not easy, being different from everyone my age. It's not easy always being the grown up one. It's not easy being the one who is always single because I don't throw myself away on any little childish romance that comes my way.
It's hard. But in away it's better. Because I don't really want to be like everyone else. I really, really don't. There is nothing in me that wants to conform, but it's not easy. It's not easy feeling like you're always on the outside of that circle. It's hard to make the decision to be the outcast. It's a constant fight, but it's one of those fights I refuse to lose.

So today, I was at this pool party and I was feeling that sort of caged feeling I get when I am around people my age. So I decided to leave. Yes, I had my phone and ipod and yes the chances of a down pour were at about 100%, but I couldn't stand it, so I left.
And I got about two minutes into my 15 minute walk and it started raining. And honestly, it was just what I needed. I danced in the rain in the middle of the street. Yes...yes I did. Yes, people thought I was crazy. (I am....shh, don't tell!) I needed to just let go of all of those negative thoughts and
It was glorious. Half of the sky was a deep, deep purple-black flashing with forks of lightning while the sky behind me was an almost heavenly shimmering gold. In between them was a striking rainbow, so I just climbed to the top of a hill, wrapped my ipod and phone in a towel and watched the sunset in the pouring rain.
It was what I needed. Just a little time to myself. I don't need it to get easier. A very wise man told me that we don't want the burden of being different to get easier, because once it does, we become numb and loose our individuality. It's an epiphany I had today. I don't want it to get easier, because a life of ease is not what we were promised if we want to follow Christ. We were promised hardship and pain and sorrow but we also get joy. And a lot of time, joy does not mean happiness. So yes, epiphany. And you all know what happens when Emma has an epiphany or an emotional moment....yes...poetry is the outcome. More like a prose, because it never really rhymes. Oh and by the way, it's quite a leap for me to share poetry, so feel honored.

                                                              It Doesn't Get Easier
                                                              It doesn't get easier
                                                             The old pain is still there
                                                             The dull pounding ache
                                                             That makes you lie awake
                                                             Sometimes life isn't fair
                                                             And it doesn't get easier

                                                             It doesn't get easier.
                                                            When you're the only one
                                                            I try so hard to stay the same
                                                           While they play all of their silly games
                                                           Sometimes life just isn't fun
                                                           And it doesn't get easier.

                                                            It doesn't get easier.
                                                           When you're always on your own
                                                           Others will find a hand to hold
                                                           Sitting by yourself really gets old
                                                           Sometimes in life you feel alone
                                                          And it doesn't get easier.

                                                          It doesn't get easier.
                                                         When they all work for selfish gain
                                                          I see people dying every day
                                                         Never seeing light, finding their way
                                                         Sometimes this life is full of pain
                                                         And it doesn't get easier.

                                                         It doesn't get easier.
                                                         When you're the only one who sees what's true
                                                         When you feel the strong desire to go
                                                         When others don't even seem to know!
                                                         Sometimes this life just isn't meant for you
                                                         And it doesn't get easier.

                                                         It doesn't get easier.
                                                         But do you want ease to come?
                                                         To just forget the world and all the sorrow?
                                                         To live today and forget tomorrow?
                                                         It is better to ache than to be numb
                                                         I hope it won't get easier.

                                                         It doesn't get easier.
                                                         This world is falling to its knees
                                                         It's time to act, to answer The Call
                                                         I'll give You everything...I'll give it all!
                                                         Lord I beg you, I beg you please...
                                                         ....Don't let it get easier.

Hope you enjoyed the ramblings of a caffeinated and confused young blogger.

A Time to Be Still

Okay, ladies and gentlemen...I am back.
Camp David is over for the summer. It's really bittersweet, actually. Camp was amazing this summer, but the ties that I have with the people there are so much stronger that I don't have to worry about losing contact. I am definitely looking forward to spending much more time with all of them.

I was wondering during one of the weeks why on earth was I doing what I was doing? I was a counselor, I was going crazy.
I didn't know how much longer I could handle my campers. They were the seven and eight year olds, we were stuck in the tent because there weren't enough cabins.
I was sleeping on the floor, the campers were the whiniest, neediest kids I had ever had to deal with, the tent was a sauna during the day and a haven for every loud bug you can imagine at night.
I remeber one night Twila (my co-counselor) and I were sleeping and I woke up with one of the girls who was cryin and noticed lightening. Well....this was an old tent with holes in it. rained. Hard. The tent flooded, the girls were screaming, everything was soaking wet, we had to run up to the big building and sleep up there. It was insanity, the next morning everything was wet and jumbled in a pile.....I was about ready to lose it.
I just kept asking "God...just a little more patience. Please. Just a little more grace. Just a little more strenght." I was about to lose it on thursday, and I was standing with Austin, talking to him, on the verge of tears. I was asking him why I was even here, I felt like I wasn't getting through to the girls, I felt like I was wasting my time.....and that day one of my beautiful little girls decided she wanted to get baptized.
She struggled with anger and bitterness and unhappiness, she had cried with me the night before about her broken life....and she is only nine. My heart went out to her and all of my campers and I just wanted them to be happy....I wanted to pour out my love and God's love on them. So we talked about Jesus and His promise for us and she asked to get baptized.
The next day we watched her beaming as Ben asked her who God was to her and dipped her in the water. As she was pulled out of the water, clean and pure with a beautiful smile on her little face, I turned to Austin and said
"This is what makes it all worth it"
And he just smiled and nodded. Then my camper came to me, sopping wet, and hugged me, tears in her eyes and she said "I feel so happy now. God is making me better."
This, my friends, is why I do what I do. Seeing God work in a broken's the best thing in the world.

And speaking of God fixing broken lives....He has taught me a hard lesson this year. It's a time for me to be still. I do not like being still. I need to move. I need to go. I need to do. I need to see. If I am not moving, going, doing, seeing then I go crazy.
But there is a time in all of our lives when we need to just be still and stay where we are.
Being still isn't just about staying where you are, it's about preparing for where you are going.
And right now I need to stop moving, I need to be quiet and listen for God's plan for me.
I can't quite "do" when I have no idea what I am supposed to be doing, now can I? It's a hard thing to learn. I don't like it. I don't like having to just let my life be normal. And I would say it's boring but I think God has given me a little gift.
I am not bored. I am finding true delight in the little things. Getting lost on our way to the float trip, I had a blast because I chose to.
I found absolute joy in floating down a river with dear friends, climbing trees and crawling through dark caves, just being alive. I even forced myself to take a middle seat in a canoe with two friends and just let them take control while I did nothing.
There is something glorious in the air....something grand at work here. And I think I know what it is. It's God's promise of something bigger, something better on it's way if I only stay still and wait.
Good things come to those who wait, right? So this is me, being patient, being still....being happy. I've forgotten how amazing it is to just find joy in something as miniscule as being barefoot in the grass or watching the birds or sitting and talking with someone dear to me.
Ever since we came here I have been constantly looking for the "more" and missing the "enough" that God was giving to me as a gift every single day.
Here I am. Being happy to just be. And I am not saying it's going to be easy. I am not saying that I am not going to have my days of disapointment and discontentment but I am going to fight for it. Because it's a fight I want to win, and those of you who know me know that I don't lose what is important to me.
Life is amazing no matter where you are as long as you choose to see the glorious aspects and learn from the not-so-glorious ones.
Something big is coming for me. I just have to wait for it. Prepare for it. Listen for His will.

He said "Be still and know that I am God"
Okay....I'll give it a try.