It’s a wonderful life?

The movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” is one of my favorite movies. I wish we didn’t just watch it at Christmas. I think we all need to watch if often and remember. You are valuable…

Now, I have a busted leg still. And last week I went to awesome Honduras and pretty much had a heartbreaking time. I spent a lot of time thinking about the same stuff i’ve been struggling with for the last two months. Failure and Shame. So how can I sit here and tell you that you are IN FACT valuable? … the broken know how to love the broken. I mean that in this way.

In Honduras, after a morning of medical work, we walked over to a house where we had repaired the roof. There were babies half naked, covered in dirt and sores. And my heart cringed. I was disgusted. Not by the children but the situation they lived in. The roof was caving in, the floors were dirt, and they had one bed between the whole family. There were 8 children, all of which had black, rotting toe nails… I walked over and picked up one of the babies. His face was soft and his nose ran, so I began cleaning him with a baby wipes. I slowly looked over his tiny body for infection and open wounds so we could treat them. The flies kept trying to cover the poor baby… I tried to stay distracted and not look into his eyes. But when I did, I saw so much pain. Broken human spirit. To young to even understand, but he knew. And all I wanted to do was tell him how special, how beautiful and valuable he was. That he was worth more than this. That he deserved clothes, that he deserved love and health. I wanted to give it to him with everything in me. I think the team all felt the same way.

Later that evening, one of the team members mentioned this poor Honduras family. How our Mississippi girls would hold them in their arms and swat the flies away, so that for 5 minutes these beautiful little babies might know what it is like to not have flies landing on their faces, or landing on their horrible open scratches and wounds. They had peace to finally just rest. Just rest… I had to stand up and walk away, because I had finally seen what God had been trying to tell me. “Baby girl you are so valuable to me.” I could see God holding me. Drawn into his arms, swatting the flies away so that I might just have a few minutes of rest. How often do we let him hold us and believe that we are worth the love? There is no way I could walk away from a child in pain knowing I could hold and love them. God is the same. But sadly we often don’t let him because of our stubborn “I can take care of myself mentality.”

The brokenness of that child spoke to the brokenness in my own heart. We have to love people when we are struggling with ourselves. Because we can only see our value as we show them there own. My friends, you may not believe me when you are hurt… but their is nothing that can take the place of you. Your love is one of a kind. And someone like that little boy in Honduras May need it.

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To Live Well Is To Change Often

“To live is to change, and to have lived well is to have changed often”
John Henry Newman

Honestly, it bothered me for a while when people would come up to me and pat my back and say, “oh you poor girl.” Poor girl? Me?? No i’m fine!! I’m having the time of my life I don’t need sympathy. lol Those who know me hear the stubborn like it was a bird sitting on your bedroom window. This is something God is working on. I hated to think that any of this whole accident experience was going to drag me down. I wanted to be tough, strong, and prove that I could do it. I wanted to prove to people that I could make it in Vietnam. THat I can make it to Honduras on crutches… that i’m not a mess. Truth. I’ve been broken before, but never like this. This is a whole new case that i’ve never dealt with. It doesn’t have to do with boys, or lack of money, or some horrible mistake that I made and had to pay the piper. At times it overshadows and confuses me. I’ve always been the kind of person to bounce back quickly. Even in the hospital in Thailand I was doing great. God blessed me so much through the whole thing and I found worship as beautiful as God intended it. But a few weeks after I was home, I didn’t struggle with the goodness of God, but struggled where my place in this universe was anymore. How to explain…

Suddenly I feel a couple of years older. Like I went on a very very long trip and then suddenly returned without a plan. I’ve changed, but can’t put my finger on the how. I still have joy, the kind you find on a lonely day when you stick your feet in the grass. But laughter doesn’t come as easy as it did before. And those who knew me before know…. I laugh.

I keep going back to Daniel 4 I think, where the 3 dudes are in the fire and they tell the king, we don’t care if you throw us in the fire, we will not bow down to you. Our God will save us!!! BUT if he does not… we still will not bow down… I know in my heart that God is going to do something amazing through this. I feel it in my bones, even the broken ones. He is good and i’ve not doubted that since the beginning. But even if things aren’t like I think they should be, I still will love no other the way I love and adore him. God.

I was talking to someone one day about independence and the joys that comes with it. They reminded me that guys do not seem to like the independent woman like they like the damsel. lol I seem to play both at the moment. But if I am a damsel, I know who my rescuer is. I actually wouldn’t mind giving up my independence and stubbornness of spirit if HE will be the knight that rushes in.

To live well is to change often… to admit that I am such a mess, and to relinquish this hard headed spirit and be open to a loving God that makes GOOD GOOD things out of horrible messes. I think it’s called fried apple pie 🙂

Through being back in Meridian, Honduras, whatever is to come… I hope that people are willing to see this mess and see God for who he is as he transforms and uses whats left of this person. Shelby Allison, world traveler, lover of all things small and nature filled, recently ran over and returning from what could have been, not such a good thing. Bare with me friends. This morning I have hope.

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.

Louis Armstrong, Cheese on the porch, Coming home!

I feel like a little kid. We have a rolly chair in our hotel room… and dad is out buying dinner… so I sat in my chair and have now crossed the room using my crutches like paddles. haha I’m a bit cheeky at the moment but it’s probably because i’m listening to Louis Armstrong… and he makes me wanna dance barefoot and eat cheese on the porch.

My diddy is a good man… today after we saw the doctor, he took me to get my nails and hair fixed. Clean hair can do amazing things to a person. Great news by the way… as long as the swelling doesn’t go up, I can fly home Thursday!!!! Thursday! So i’m really stretching and pushing my leg to work the blood! Hopefully no bigger swelling.

I hope that you all had a wonderful Easter… I wasn’t sure how ours would look, but I woke up Sunday morning determined to get out of the hotel room and celebrate… I have great friends in the states who hooked me up with some friends here and they took us to church with them and had lunch with dad and I at a cute little place called Elephin… Dad had Pha Thia hahaha it was funny stuff. I had chicken with cashew nuts which was awesome. What a great day… I struggled towards the end but held up really well through the church service and lunch.

Wanna hear something really great? When I walked into Newsong Bangkok (The church we went too) A lady sat down beside me and started asking me questions about who I was and what had happened to me… come to find out, she had been praying for me. haha She had heard about me from a friend who knew a friend of mine and said that I was on her mind so much… then all of a sudden i’m in her church. Crazy stuff huh? The world is small my friends!

So I’m going to sit in the sunshine on my bed, listen to some more Louis Armstrong… and invite you to do the same. Take a moment for yourself! Especially you mom, you’ve been stressed. Let the rain hit your legs. I did. I even let the broke one get wet, just so it would remember that it still has lots of living to do…. The rain has a strange way of making us feel more alive. And you should see the thunderstorms in Thailand… but that is a whole other story.

My love from across the ocean, and soon to be home!
Shelby Allison

PS- You should have a great cup of coffee and listen to this.

Here I am in Memphis… and I have ice in my glass.

One of the movie lines my dear father often quotes is from Castaway. The scene where Tom Hanks is back home and he says “And now, here I am. I’m back. In Memphis, talking to you. I have ice in my glass… And I’ve lost her all over again. I’m so sad that I don’t have Kelly. But I’m so grateful that she was with me on that island. And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?

Now understand that I cannot even compare with what Mr Hanks went through… and the time for I got hit by a car pity party is over… ya hear me… OVER. I love the prayers and encouragement, please don’t stop… but there are people all over the world who need exactly what has been given to me. People who don’t have outside wounds or injuries, but have been cut to the heart. I hope we give them our best. If you are close to me and are sad you can’t be here, go help someone else.

The truth is… i’m happy. When it takes me 10 minutes to get off the bed, I am down, but then I remember how blessed I am… and it makes me smile so big. I’m singing as loud as I can and as much as I can. And when i’m alone I lay in the bed and praise… because i’m alive to do so… medicine hasn’t really helped, but worship has healed.

The part that gets me about that quote, is realizing that when I am able to go home it will be different. It will be changed for me. I can no longer be Mrs Independent. lol This morning dad brought me up to the roof of the hotel that I was moved too. I’ve been laying here in the sweltering heat enjoying a cup of coffee, that I just spilled on myself. haha What is hard for me is I think hey I got this no problem… then I fall or spill or stub my toe on my broke leg. Even when I am taken in the wheel chair out and about… people just look at me. I’ve been glad to have the bangs because I feel I can hide under them. I think when I had the accident I was hopefully and thought… i’ll bounce back. But now i’m realizing that I must be patience and kind to myself. Allow grace. But move on… move on and begin to give myself and energy to others as I was. The best healing for hurt is loving other people… I know this from experience. I hope that today I can make someone else smile, maybe rub lotions on dad’s feet (His need them more than mine hehe:) give myself wholly because I am not yet broken. I am exactly where I am…. I like that. I am where I AM. And I will use and enjoy it.

Dad read my prayer card out to me last night… the one I gave before I left… and one of the first prayers is that I will have courage and boldness. I think it still applies now. I love you all so much. I only really cry when I think about your faces and how much I care for you all…

PS Emy is back home and doing pretty well. She is still in a lot of pain and struggling with the same as ole Tom… being back home with the way things are. Keep praying for her. We both have poured our hearts out to each other and apologized a million times for what we think we did. We both would gladly give up everything if we could only make the other feel better. That is a good friendship.

All my love across the sea

Shelby Allison

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