Bursting at the seams

The journey over this past year has been one that’s hard to describe.

Everything changed.

Everything I thought, everything I did, everything that mattered.

It’s been a journey of greater faith and trust.

It’s a journey that led us through cancelled venues, cancelled volunteers, and lots of bumps and bruises…

…until it led us here:

A small, simple room in a small, simple library that had originally been scheduled as a worst-case-scenario backup plan.

And it became the most beautiful path of all.

This year, we changed everything.

Registration wasn’t required this year, so I had no idea the night before how many people would actually show up.

But I was finally filled with peace that, however it turned out, it would be right.

The next morning, we were ready.

We drove to the library and began to set up.

And before we could even get completely settled, people began to pour in.

I couldn’t believe what was happening.

One minute, I was lighting a candle, hoping beyond hope, and the next, I looked up to see a line stretching out the door, of people waiting to register.

I rushed to help Matt take care of people, and there was no minute to even think.

Sign-in time came and went and we were so busy we didn’t have time to breathe, let alone take it all in.

The room filled to bursting.

Tables were pushed against walls.

Mats were crowded together as tight as possible.

10 minutes after it was time to start, we still hadn’t completely fit them in, but we had to start.

I went out for five seconds, just to catch a breath of air and to get a quick drink.  I came back in, stood on my mat, turned on my microphone, and then I looked up.

And there were no words.

There still aren’t.

Close to 100 eyes staring back at me…double the people that we are used to.

It was like a dream.

A wonderful, wonderful dream, where all of your love and work and passion push to move a mountain…

…and finally, it moves.

I had had a wonderful speech prepared and words to say, but I could barely speak.

I think they felt it anyway.

The love, the joy, the very “rightness” of it all was just so overwhelming.

Seeing the courage of so many unexpected faces this year.  It was like my friend Nicole said last year…witnessing something very holy.

Each time I looked out at those beautiful faces in a room filled to bursting, I felt like my heart would literally burst, as well.

Faces I have known and loved so well from the beginning, who have been there for me through it all.

And new faces, full of love, kindness, compassion, and hope.

And then there were the faces I love best of all.

Journeys take time.

But along the journey, you grow and you change and find your path.

I know the stories of these women so well.  I’ve told them so many times and I’ve heard them even more.

But their stories transformed me yesterday, all over again.

I felt like we all changed.

By following this path for these past few years, I can see how much I have changed.

This path has led to a bursting room, and a bursting heart.

I feel like I am bursting, as well.

You know that feeling?  When you’ve grown and changed so much that who you are becoming is literally bursting against your old skin?

I can feel the changes that have come and are coming in my life.

But finally, I’m not so anxious and afraid.

There is a path of joy laid out, behind me, ahead of me, and everywhere I look.

I have been very quiet inside today.  I can’t seem to stop crying.

I wish I could go to Congo tonight.

I would put my arms around our sisters, and I would tell them two things:

1. Look at all of these people who love you.  You’re not alone.

2. Thank you.  You’ve changed us forever.

Nakupenda.  Je t’aime.  I love you.

  (photos by Chantile Ferriera – see more here)

19 Responses

  1. Matt

    It was a beautiful time. I love YFCW each year, and this was no exception! So many good people coming to give, and hopefully in turn were given as well.

    Thank you for your leadership of this program! You have and continue to change so many lives!

    October 21, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    • Ann

      I Love you, baby. :)

      October 22, 2012 at 11:58 pm

  2. heather

    oh matt! you are such a good man and husband! matt is also very right, ann you change everyone you meet for the better!thank you for loving so much. thank you for loving me & showing me how much I can do!

    October 22, 2012 at 7:40 am

    • Ann

      Heather, I just love you so much! Thank you for all you did this weekend!

      October 22, 2012 at 11:55 pm

  3. It is hard to leave a comment after the photos of this post. All I can say is there is power within humans that come together. How beautiful and amazing.

    I’m so proud of you Ann. And I’m proud of all those that came and supported and learned and were changed.

    I’m ready for you to return to PA! :)

    October 22, 2012 at 9:00 am

    • Ann

      I can’t wait to come back! Once little Rowan is ready, I’m there. :)

      October 22, 2012 at 11:58 pm

  4. ML

    In tears!! It looks like it was amazing. No wait–it *feels* like it was amazing. I can just tell from the way you talk about it.

    Also: I MUST have one of those incredible t-shirts? Where do I order?? :) xoxoxo

    October 22, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    • Ann

      I love you, dear, sweet ML. :) T-shirt is a definite must. :)

      October 22, 2012 at 11:57 pm

  5. Beautiful! I love the growth that has come from your perseverance for this cause. Remarkable.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:22 pm

  6. Rachel B.

    It was awesome! Really, truly LOVED it! What a great thing you are doing for those women. You are amazing, Ann!

    October 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    • Ann

      I was so glad you were there, Rachel! It meant so much to me last year when you mentioned you had seen it on my blog and were touched by it. I was SO happy to have you there!

      October 22, 2012 at 11:57 pm

  7. Valerie

    It was very touching, thank you for sharing this with us and for sharing your heart with us!

    October 23, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    • Ann

      I was so touched to have you there, Val! Thank you for being such a good friend. :)

      October 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm

  8. Christine

    Looks like it was perfect! I can’t wait for you to come do it here next week! Love you!!!

    October 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm

  9. I love how things go beyond all expectations, especially when there are no expectations! Love you!

    October 24, 2012 at 3:14 pm

  10. Debbie Domenici

    Wow! Look at that full room. Brings tears to my eyes to see the growth and success you are having. I can’t wait to have you come back here again. To spend time doing this with you and to catch up! Love and miss you so much more than I can express!

    October 31, 2012 at 10:21 pm

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