Archive for May, 2011

Juliet Kind of Feeling

I have a story. It’s one of my favorites. Maybe you have heard it, maybe you haven’t. But not knowing what tomorrow holds for me, I want to make sure I can share it. The days are hard for me, and i’ve decided not to try and hide the struggle or run, but I have moments of joy when I remember times like these. And it’s this story that plays in my mind now, when things seem a bit drained. I feel drained… it’s my Romeo story, and ladies it’s good.

Summer of 2005, I lived in Buncrana Ireland and worked with Operation Mobilization doing full-time ministry. It was easily one of my best summers. All day I ran around with my wonderful international team mates, worked in summer camps, led worship and played all kind of dangerous games, like smash your face ball, or extreme Irish hide and seek. (Trust me, this was dangerous) I was fully alive. Not just alive cuz i’m breathing, but alive because each breath had a purpose. I couldn’t wait till the sun rose, and I was disappointed when it set… it was incredible. But even in the best of times, we see the worst of times. I think a famous author pegged those classic words. There were nights I would lay down and suffer. I would hear my thoughts and they were unkind. I was in pain… I Shelby Brown felt so much value for others, and had such little value for myself. Is this not our common struggle?

One July night, I went upstairs to my little corner bedroom in my apartment. I lived next to Loch Swilly, the beautiful little waterway where John Newton wrote Amazing Grace. And at night when I would look out my window, it seem like I could hear the words slipping through the Irish breezes. It was almost like the words were more real for me there than ever before, and man did I need them.

I laid down in my bed and pulled out a book I had been reading. It was one of those Christian books about how we are captivating and beautiful to God. But truth, I didn’t feel either of those things. The Irish rain had made my hair a havoc, so I really didn’t feel beautiful. And I had only experienced a heartache of relationships, which made me believe I was no longer captivating. I had believed the lies that we girls often hear when we are alone at night… “if only you were (insert word here)” I wanted to feel captivating though, so I read and read and read, hoping that I would realize the truth…. I turned to a chapter that talked about the beloved Romeo and Juliet. “Ugh I hate this story, why is this in here?” But it began to explain how every girl wants to be Juliet up on the balcony… Romeo tossing rocks for her attention… lovely in the moonlight… worthy of any danger, any pain…. she is worth it… she is captivating. As I read it I began to cry. It was as if the author had read all of my journals and knew my present thoughts. But it was too much, I knew that for now it wasn’t for me. I was frustrated that I had even read it, and put the book down. It was a beautiful thought but I wasn’t going to let myself start thinking this way. I just needed to toughen up…. so I turned off the light and went to bed.

1 am…. a tap at my window. Don’t forget I was on the 2nd floor. I sat up confused, and then another tap… but much louder. I jumped out of the bed and ran over to the window, and opened it to see my friend Ariel down on the street. He was throwing rocks. Rocks at my window…. who does that? I yelled down, trying to throw together in my tired mind what he was doing. He said he needed to give me something, so I ran down stairs to meet him at the door…. I was frustrated. My hair was a mess, my eyes were puffy from the crying I had done earlier, this wasn’t what I wanted. But I listened to him anyhow.

“Shelby, I know it’s late, and i’m sorry that I was throwing rocks but I needed to speak with you.” “Yessssssssssssssss? I’m here what is it?” He opened his bag and pulled out some tin foil and unfolded a piece of pizza. lol Insert confused look here. He told me that he had made this awesome pizza and that he knew I loved it so, he brought me a piece. “At 1am Ariel? Pizza? You are sweet, but maybe next time just bring it earlier ok.” Then he looked serious and reached down for something else…. something else. He pulled out a ring… now understand how uncomfortable I began to feel now, but as he must have caught on quickly, he assured me that it wasn’t what I thought. “Shelby, I don’t know why, I know this seems silly, but I needed to give you this ring. I felt like God was telling me to come over and give it to you. And tell you that you are something really special, really Shelby. You just don’t know how much.” ………………… silence. It didn’t really click for the first few minutes, and then my heart fell into my stomach. I have heard that from people before, but i’ve never heard it like that. And everything I had read and cried over a few hours before rushed into my head. I took the ring from Ariel, put it on my finger, and then after a few minutes asked to be excused and told him I would talk to him tomorrow. I ran upstairs and sat on my bed. The only light in my room was from the moon.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now i’m found, was blind… but now I see.

I read the chapter again. Everything finally making since. And I saw it all as I knew God had intended. He woke me up with taps at my window, called me from my balcony, made me blush beneath his great love. And at this point, I was definitely blushing. He found me in the dark, wrapped his arms around me and whispered… I think you are quiet beautiful tonight.”

It seems like a silly story possibly, but i’ve never remembered a time when I felt that beautiful, that loved, or that captivating. Even in my corner room, with my messy hair and pjs. I had that feeling like when you go on your first date, or hear for the first time that ya have beautiful eyes. Life just kind of lights up and for a few moments you are ridiculously giddy.

Not saying that men haven’t made me feel beautiful or wanted, but only God could have come to my window that night the way he did.

I laid down once again, closed my eyes tightly around the tears in my eyes, and I knew, that I had Romeo story unlike any other. I finally understood what it felt like to be Juliet.

The Rain in Bangkok… something to remember.

Sometimes when I travel, I write songs about my experiences. Singing is the best way for me to reach the full emotion of what had been happening… and while I was in Thailand I started working on a song called “The rain down in Bangkok”. It’s not a hit, and I probably will never play it for anyone, but every time I sing it or play it on guitar, like I said, the feeling comes back. I thought that maybe I had shared this in an earlier blog but couldnt’ find it, so I figured i’d take a moment to share, well… the moment.

Dad and I had finally moved into the hotel by the hospital. I could get a little bit of quiet, sleep through the night without shots or IV’s going off. The afternoons were muggy and there wasn’t much to do but prop up my leg and watch tv. One afternoon I sat staring, at nothing but the wall. I had been rubbing my leg because of how numb it had become. In fact, my whole body felt numb. I didn’t really feel like laughing or crying, there just seemed to be ice packed around my heart. That is when I heard the wind… I look over at the glass doors that join the little balcony at our room. There were leaves and flowers petals being tossed about. Sometimes they would stay up in the air as if they were meant to be there. I was captivated and wanted to step outside, but I could see that it was beginning to rain, and at that point I wasn’t suppose to let my leg get wet… I stood up determined. I grabbed a plastic chair and slide it along with my crutch as I limped towards the glass doors. As I reached them and pulled the glass back, I realized the storm was bigger than I had first thought. The wind felt as if it might push me backwards. I put the chair out half way on the balcony and half way still in the room for protection, and just sat and watched the storm. It was amazing, something i’ve never seen or thought I would ever see. I could see the rain perfectly, almost as if the drops were in slow motions. It was as if everything that is normally invisible like the wind, was suddenly visible. And I couldn’t stop staring. I felt as if I was watching a well planned performance. The wind seemed to spell words using trash from the streets and banners on buildings. I saw ribbons fly across the sky. The lightning was bright and the thunder loud… I should have gone back in, but instead… I stood up. I slowly crutched over to the side, and I put my broken leg into the wind and the rain. I don’t know why I did that, but it felt important for me to do. I felt like I was a part of a great ceremony and my leg was the attraction. This accident was something that caused so much of me to fall numb, and yet I was afraid that I might stay that way. So by sticking my leg out to the rain it was if I was telling it “You maybe broken, and you may not can feel much now, but get ready, because you will not stay dry. I will not live numb in my fear or numb in regret. I want to feel the rain on my face… oh I want to feel the rain.” When I crutched back in and sat on the bed, I knew something good had happened. It was silly, no one else will ever understand, but I just had one of those moments where you realize you are ready for landing. Do you have moments like that in your day? When something speaks to your soul through something so simple… It had nothing to do with my leg, it had everything to do with what I would do next.

Either way, I can’t get that moment out of my head, because when I get down at my progress or whatever it may be, I do know that there was one moment, where I felt the rain on my face, and no longer excepted fear as a place to hide. As I wrote blogs ago…

If he fails,
at least he fails while daring greatly,
so that he may never be
one of those cold and timid souls,
who know neither victory nor defeat.

What am I doing now? I’m learning to be quiet… so I don’t miss the simple moments…

What if I could translate.

Today I was cleaning out my bags with mom, and I found this letter that I wrote… it seems appropriate because of the situation I am now in.

March 15

Sitting in a quiet cafe drinking something that is apparently without a name, but can only be described as liquid heaven. It’s some mix of milk, chocolate, and coffee… probably nothing special, but for this day it’s perfect.
Here there are experiences without words and words that lead to experiences. What cannot be understood can be felt in the face of your greeter, like how you know the sun is shining without ever opening your eyes… I hate that we judge places like we judge people. We give it a disdainful look and turn up our noses before we have tasted, felt, or heard. I love to travel, it’s a poetry for me that rolls of the tongue and the heart.
I’m more afraid when I travel, and yet more forgiving of the situation. The expectation isn’t of perfection, but the expectation to love everything and be ready for anything… what if I could translate the feeling for when I am at home? What is it you love… and how can you make it fit into the days that fill bland? When i’m at home can’t I love everything and be ready for anything… live in forgiveness of the day and myself.

There it was… my own words convicting my heart. You hate it when other people say it, but gosh… I’ve had a harder time dealing with all of this since i’ve been home. I feel so undone… You know, like those days you plan out your day and all the things you want to get done and then suddenly you have to drop everything for a meeting you forgot about, or a soccer game you had to make… then you feel kind of messed up and unorganized… except my feeling is much larger. I realize that I didn’t step in front of the car on purpose, but somehow I feel it is my fault for having to come home. It hurts that I wasn’t able to finish what I had set out to do. With the extra sickness and pain, my attitude has began to fail. lol I felt like the little kid in the black and white films that you see kicking around the rock in his old sneakers. I’ve been unsure of what to do with myself … then I find this…

What if I could translate the feeling when I am at home.

Chills is what I feel. But I want to translate. I am still Shelby whether in Vietnam, Africa, a hospital in Thailand, or Alabama… stranded on my couch. My hope and purpose has not been lost.

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