Every time I start to look to my left or my right, to begin comparing myself, my life and my ministry to others, God brings me back to me knees.
“You wanna ride?”
She slowly pulls her arthritis, aging body into my car.
“How ya doing?”
“Oh you know, life has been hard. My husband, he’s in the hospital, so is my son.”
“Oh no, I’m so sorry, what’s wrong?”
“I don’t know. My husband wonders off and forgets to eat and ends up being hospitalized. And then I don’t hear from him or know where he is.”
<<<I know this is true. A few months after we moved into the neighborhood an elderly man dressed in a rotting, mismatched business suit knocked on my door.
“Hi! Can I help you?” (I was eager to be known as the new neighbor who was super friendly and welcoming).
“I need to borrow your phone.”
I go to hand this stranger my iPhone…
“No, no, not that phone. I can’t dial on that phone.”
“I’m sorry sir but this is the only phone I have. Would you like for me to call someone for you?”
“Yeah. I need to call the Pope.”
“Ummmmm….Well sir, I don’t know the pope, how about we call a catholic church in the neighborhood?”
“Yeah, do that. And then take me to them.”
(My mother taught me better than to jump into a car with a total stranger, especially a man, so I opted for…)
“Well I’m currently working, but I can call you a cab.”
This angered him. He bitterly told me to hurry up, so I googled an Austin cab company and was put on hold. As the 80’s music played in my ear I tried making small talk but this also angered my oddly dressed, new friend.
“I don’t want to talk to you. Bring me a chair. I’ll sit in your yard 'til the cab comes.”
“Okay, sorry sir.”
And into the front yard one of our kitchen table chairs went.
I watched him for a few minutes while still on hold with the cab company. He stood up, looked around and walked off. >>>
This is the only verbal contact I’ve had with my neighbor, let’s call her Mabel's', husband. But from our many neighborhood sitings and gossip sessions with the little old man across the street, it's safe to say Mabel's husband has Alzheimers.
Over the past two years of living down the street from Mabel, we have come to realize that her adult son is mentally handicapped. From the time he chased me down the street (he was on crutches so I could totally out run him!) to his random street walking/yelling stints, we’ve realized that something didn’t add up.
But today was the first day Mabel ever seemed heavy, burdened to say the least.
We’ve watched the ambulance come and go to her house more than we can count, we’ve seen her walk daily to and from the bus stop, often times weighed down by groceries, but every time we stop her for a chat or give her a ride she’s always so joyful.
Mabel usually shows up when I’m having “those days”.
You know, the days when comparison begins to creep in. Everyone else’s life around you looks perfect. Everyone else has lots of money, and cute kitchens and beautiful babies…And you start wondering what’s wrong with you and maybe, just maybe allow yourself to feel sorry for a few minutes…
That’s when Mabel arrives.
She’ll slowly walk by my front window, bent over, carrying stuffed Walmart bags. If you stop her she might tell you some of the hard things going on but always follows it with, “But praise the Lord, He is good and faithful and always provides!”
But today was different.
As I pulled her out of my car and carried her bags to her front door, I told her again how sorry I was for her and her family. She just looked at me, said thank you, and then hugged me. She’s never hugged me.
I walked into my house. Here I was, about to pour myself a glass of wine and scroll through Facebook, wishing I were someone else...and there was Mabel.
My day is different now. I don’t know how to not be incredibly sad for her, I don’t know what to do, perhaps have her over to tea, but I do know that my sorrow wont be wasted on myself tonight.
Let’s keep life in perspective friends. The grass can be greener in other people’s yards, but instead of focusing on comparing our lives to other's, let's spend our time pouring our lives out for others. And then when you don’t know what to do to help…pray.
Let’s get out of our heads, out of ourselves.
Who’s your Mabel?
I think it's safe to say that I love newborn sessions. Seriously. I know, some of you are like 'yeah right', but I promise, it's true, they're the best. The newness of the babe's skin, the assertiveness of the doting (and often times exhausted) parents, the complete and utter adoration of a blossoming family...I could go on, and on. (Insert blissful music and swooning eyes emoji).
So like I said, I love newborn sessions, and this sweet family with whom I documented, was just so natural and easy. We were able to shoot in the lovely owner of Ara Collective's home and even incorporate some of her darling throws! Thank you Alex and Will for entrusting me with the honor of documenting your very first family of three photo shoot!
There are around 153 million estimated blogs in existence. Of course this number isn't 100%, but the reason I bring this up is...that's a lot of stinkin' blogs. And words...And opinions... It seems like everyone has a blog right? Everyone has an agenda to push, a cause to rally behind, an opinion to share. And I'm no different.
The main reason for this blog is to share personal stories and experiences that I cannot or do not share on my work blog, The Archibald Project, as a therapeutic outlet to process my journey. Working all over the world, going in and out of different cultures, falling in love with children I will never parent, struggling with infertility, watching poverty be a norm, feeling more and more like I don't understand my own culture... these are all heavy issues that play a part in who I am and who I am becoming. And the most natural way for me to process my emotions?
I've always written. I wrote 'books' and adventure stories and screenplays as a young child. I have spiral notebooks of novels I just knew would be best sellers one day and movie ideas that would cast me alongside Jonathan Taylor Thomas. My fantasy writing turned into journal keeping turned into personal instagram posts. I'll be honest though, as much as I write, and share about my experiences, I'm not the best in person sharer...I have a hard time sharing my deepest feelings and experiences in voice. Sure I'll give an opinion on something, but rarely will you catch me elaborating on how something made me feel.
I questioned if I had anything to write about. I wondered if anyone would care. I felt foolish, but I asked God.
And then I met a potential angel in India and he told me to write. So here I am. Beginning to write again...