For the Ones Who Make Us Smile as the Plane Goes Down

To this day, I’m not sure how close that plane was to crashing. Suffice to say, I certainly believed we weren’t going to make it … but an unsung hero helped me to stay calm.

I’m no stranger to flying; in the past 6 weeks alone, I’ve boarded 11 flights for speaking engagements. Ordinary turbulence is no big deal. Yet I’ve never experienced anything like what happened on that flight.

I was 15, flying home from Italy with my parents, brother, and best friends. We’d traveled abroad for a church gathering, and after a week of eating gelato and saying Ciao, bella, we were (somewhat reluctantly) heading back to the States.

Everything was normal until it wasn’t. The plane just … dropped. It felt how I imagined the Tower of Terror would feel if I’d had the nerve to go on it.

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On Accepting Yourself (Even if Self-Checkout Tries to Shame You)

Once upon a time I was at a Walmart in Alabama, doing my best not to be a Jersey girl. That is, I was trying not to rush and dash and move at twice the speed of other shoppers. (Talk about accepting yourself.)

Every checkout line was long, so I headed to self-checkout. My pragmatic husband loves self-checkout: the efficiency! The autonomy! The lack of interaction! I would rather go to a cashier, though. I like cashiers. They’re people, which means they’re family.

Self-checkout and I … we just don’t get along. I try to be careful, but I always set off the threatening red light. Then I get flustered, because I feel like I’m … in trouble.

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Take It & Run: On Soul Trains & the One Necessary Thing

My husband and I moved from DC to Alabama over a year ago.

It’s been a year of renovation and renewal, and it has gone by so terrifyingly FAST. There have been some lonely times, when I wondered why we decided to pull up roots and say goodbye to beloved friends. There have been some frustrating times, when I wondered how I’d ever learn to drive a stick-shift pickup.

And there have been times – like this past weekend – when it all just came together and made sense.

My husband and I hosted two guests from DC, my lifelong friend and sister-in-spirit Sarah and her lovely singer-songwriter friend, Tiffany Thompson. We fit a lot of living into our 20 hours together.

On Friday night, Tiffany headlined a festival at my small church, and she rocked the house.

Living Spirit Festival 2013. Photo Credit: Sarah Bayot

I loved the music, but I loved just being there even more. There was such sweetness in seeing people I love meet one another for the first time, such happiness in hearing their laughter, such joy in listening with my husband as Tiffany played a song she dedicated to us. It was called “Home,” and that was exactly, exactly how I felt.

Photo Credit: Camille Bennett

And while Tiffany was sharing her gift for music, Sarah was sharing her gift for art, fashion and design. She’s created Kicheko, meaning “smile or laughter” in Swahili, a cause-based brand featuring distinctive hand-made earrings. Proceeds go towards orphan care and continuing education in eastern Congo. Essentially, every pair of earrings helps a child eat and go to school. Check out the collection and support a great cause too.

Photo Credits: Jonathan McGraw, Sarah Bayot

With all this goodness going on, it’s not too surprising that a spontaneous dance party took place after Tiffany finished her set. I wish I could show you a picture, because it was wild. It was like the last scene in a movie, the kind of thing you always wish would happen in real life and rarely ever does.

Ordinarily, of course, I am an introverted ballerina-type from New Jersey who was taught to stand still in church. I’m not exactly a prime candidate for a soul train. But that night, I was too happy to stay in my usual box, so I shed self-consciousness and jumped right into the fray.

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One more thing.

It can be scary to invite people to stay with you when your house isn’t ‘ready.’ For example, since our dining room floor isn’t finished, we couldn’t set up a table and chairs. I felt embarrassed about this … for about 5 seconds. But then we sat on the kitchen floor and drank wine and talked for hours.

Hospitality, as it turns out, isn’t about being able to set a table for your guests. Instead, it’s about being present and sharing what you have to give. Sure, stocking the fridge helps. But true friends don’t need things to be perfect. They don’t even need chairs. They just need you

To paraphrase Luke 10:41-42, you can be worried and upset about many things as a host. But really, only one thing is needed.

And all the time we were sitting on the kitchen floor, the lyrics to Tiffany’s song, “Take it and Run” kept playing in my mind: Take in this minute and all that you’ve been given and run.

These are wise words. How often have I caught myself thinking, If only I had a literary agent, a hugely popular blog, a finished house, some chairs …

But as I’m wishing for these things, can I say, honestly, that I’m taking all that I have already been given and running with it? As I’m planning for the future, can I say, with integrity, that I’m giving my best to today?

How many times have I held myself back from inviting people over or dancing at a party because I judged my home and my moves to be ‘not good enough’?

That’s why it was such a big deal for me to jump on the soul train and sit on the kitchen floor this weekend. That’s why it felt so good to put aside perfectionism and live into the words of W.H. Auden …

“I know nothing, except what everyone knows — if there when Grace dances, I should dance.”

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