Everything coming alive again...including me.

"The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day He created Spring."

You know those March days when the sun is shining so boldly that it doesn't seem to make sense how cool the air is? That's how it's been here the past few days. As Charles Dickens said, "It is summer in the light, and winter in the shade." My little piece of Texas can't seem to decide which season it wants to be.

Maybe it's just the cycle of the seasons and the first hints of spring, but I feel myself coming alive again. The past few weeks have been nurturing for me. I've really been pondering what it means to have the privilege of living. It's a great shift in thinking, because instead of feeling that I have to do this or that, I can now begin seeing it as something I'm blessed to experienced. I am not entitled to anything, really. I do not deserve encouraging relationships, a body that works, a family with parents who are still married, and a job that makes a difference.

One of the ways I've been learning to exercise this privilege is in talking to strangers. Because of a few things that happened in my childhood, I've always been fearful of opening up conversations with strangers. After trying it the past few weeks, I've shared a few moments of life with the most interesting people. Steven and I were at SMU last Sunday with Craig & Bonnie and their two dogs, Clyde & Tonus. We were playing baseball on the lawn and enjoying the heavenly 75 degrees. I spotted a gorgeous Australian Shepherd prancing around without a leash and then his owners, a middle-aged couple sitting on the edge of the fountain. I walked over to them and started petting their silky-soft and coifed puppy, whose name I learned was Jack. They were so friendly and if not for forcing myself to do it, I would have missed hearing about how much Jack is a part of their family and how much they also love Nikolini's, our favorite organic Greek restaurant in Dallas. The wife had a distinctive accent, so I asked her where she was from. Greece! So we talked about our love of the Mediterranean, our need for warm weather, wished each other a happy Sunday, and walked away smiling. I've also met a tattoo artist who was our waiter at Cafe Brazil and is opening up his own tattoo parlor and trying to figure out how to break up with his girlfriend. He gave our order a little extra love. Tonight while waiting for my to-go order at Peggy Sue's Barbeque, I laughed with a sporty-looking dad of two children (13 and 8) when he asked if I was an SMU student and was shocked to hear I was 29! The other day while shopping with Trish, we talked with our cashier at Kohl's who had just gotten in a fender-bender that day and needed to smile a little. It's amazing how someone can get a spark in their eyes when they feel someone else is interested in their life. It's fascinating to me to think about each person's history, what their days are like, and how our paths have crossed.

I've also been working on the privilege of using my body. There are people who would do anything to be able to walk right now, to just be able to use their legs. Yet, I grumble about working out and complain about the fat on my thighs. I'm sick of it. Time to start appreciating how I'm made.

Last Sunday, I had the most invorating workout I've had in years. After going to lunch after church at one of our favorite places, Zoe's Kitchen, and our previously mentioned stint at SMU, Steven, Craig, Bonnie, and I went to an area of Dallas called "The Village" where there are a bunch of apartment complexes and a park where all these young adults hang out on Sundays. We found a quieter area behind the clubhouse building, and Craig & Bonnie brought their kettlebells. I was a little hesitant to try them, but little did I know you could do an entire workout with just one piece of equipment, one of these little bells:

We did deck squats, lunges, swings, and I contorted my body in ways I never knew possible. There were even some moves that were similar to yoga, except holding a 12 lb. weight. I LOVED IT. Afterwards, I felt excited to be alive and encouraged to keep treating my body well.

But this week brought a whole new privilege: that of spending time with the close people in my life, while we still have today. It seems I've seen Steven with a fresh pair of eyes. As I come out of my shell, I'm noticing him even more. I look over at him doing the most ordinary of tasks and it makes me smile. I watch him cooking or working in the yard and know in my heart of hearts that he is the one man I want to be with forever. I realize the importance of getting up at 5:45am to spend time with a friend, or welcoming my mom's voice when she calls me, even when I'm in the middle of something. The privilege of being loved.

Tonight, Steven and I went to SMU to enjoy the weather. We were strolling side by side, when I got this burst of energy and said, "I just feel like running." He said, "Then go!" So I ran and ran, feeling the evening chill on my skin and hearing the swoosh of the leaves swirling around my feet and stirring in my wake. "I'm alive," I said. "This is the privilege of being alive."