Tuesday, December 23, 2008

caught in the valley

i'm currently caught in the valley between the mountain of obedience and the mountain of desire, and i'm not sure i'm safe where i'm at.

my entire life i have lived by the code and direction of obedience. it's been my MO since i remember having stolen a can of soda at the age of 5 and walking back into the grocery store to confess to the manager my great sin. every decision i've made i've weighed against the bible of my parents or the Bible of my faith. i've always imagined there was a right way and a wrong way to every way. so, i went to college based on what i thought was the obedient thing to do. i started having kids as an act of obedience. i've confessed white lies and guilted myself over speeding and turned in every item the clerk accidentally forgot to ring up. i've lived my life by the code of obedience.

and recently, i've slipped down the mountain of obedience. not that i've been disobedient - but i'm wondering how high on my priority list obedience should be as the primary guide of my life. i've realized you can be obedient without using your heart. you can be obedient and still not love. you can be obedient and still not be a good and faithful servant. i'm guessing many of the pharisees valued obedience above all else too, and we know what Jesus had to say about them.

so, if not obedience, then what? my mind has been opened to the idea and pursuit of desire (notice my heart hasn't gotten there, hence the dilemma). could it be that the psalmist was right, that to have the desires of your heart is well worth seeking? and that by delighting in God, and the way he designed us, is to move closer to the desires that he built in us. i'm not talking about wanting more money, or a bigger house, or a better body - but the desire to live more fully into who God made us to be...beings who yearn and crave more than what the world has told us to settle for.

so, the valley - i haven't yet embarked on the journey up the mountain of desire. i'm overwhelmed by the presence of the wolves of disappointment, and the lions of pain, and the bears of fear that wait to ravage my willingness to climb. so, how long do i stay in the valley? because, either i trek back up the mountain of obedience from where i came, or i will inevitably be swept away by the rivers of discontent and despair that await me here in the valley. or, i move. i look for a lifeline of hope that will save me when the animals of all that oppose His way attack with their full force.

the waters are rising. which way will i go?...


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

toying with the idea of new year's resolutions

so - every year, without fail since i knew what they were, i've made new year's resolutions. when i was more disciplined (back in 8th grade), i would make resolutions to not be so loud, to memorize verses and poetry, to work on my etiquette. now, its pretty much the same thing every year: lose weight, eat right, exercise, get out of debt, etc...and no matter which cloak the resolution takes on (i.e. lose weight by training for a 5K race), it can't mask the fact that in the past, i have only achieved one of my many new year's resolutions (i did run a 5K race, but didn't lose any weight).

with a new year, how about a new idea - out with the old, in with the new! instead of a new year's resolution - how about a new year's question to ponder over and over again in the year 2009? i have decided - or possibly resolved (:0) to ask myself this question before as many decisions and actions as i can:

"will this (fill in the blank) be good for me?"

not "will this benefit someone?", "will this make someone else happy?", "will this make me look or appear to have it all together", "will this keep me out of trouble", "will this make the bad feelings go away - even if for just a little bit?" because i fear those are the questions i've been asking myself my long 31 years - and as noted, they haven't brought me closer to who i want to be - or that person that i resolve to be every year.

instead, i want to ask myself these questions, and act on the answer. "will this extra helping of cake be good for me?" "will this impulsive buy - because i want it and don't need it - be good for me?" "will taking on this extra committment be good for me?" "will sleeping in be good for me?" "will worrying about him or her be good for me?" "will watching this show be good for me?" "will having this conversation be good for me?" "will spending my time mindlessly and aimlessly be good for me?" "will running from my problems be good for me?" "will going for a walk be good for me?" "will calling a friend instead of cleaning my bathroom be good for me?" "will sitting down to snuggle with my daughter be good for me?" "will getting up early to have peace and quiet be good for me?" etc...etc...

while this idea may not be altruistic - i have to believe in the nature of loving myself for once before trying to love others. i've spent so much time thinking about all the things not to do - i want to meditate and call to the forefront of my memory a question that will change the negative messages i've been listening to all my life. it will remind me of what's most important. being good to me means i can be better to others.

so, we'll see this year, "will it be good for me?"


Sunday, December 14, 2008

there you go being a good mother again.

thank you for the mix cd you sent me for my birthday. when i get these musical mysteries from you, i tuck them away in a special place. i hide them until i can be fully present to their melodies. i wait patiently until no other voices can interfere with my hearing each puzzle possessed word that is inevitably on each song you've chosen. and later, like a racoon who collects shiny things, i pull them out and curiously run my fingers over them.

with every song i wonder what drew you to it, and moreso what drew you to selecting it for me. sometimes i believe one song must have been selected for its catchy tune - but knowing you, it can't just be the music that has moved you - but must also be the wonderful orchestration of words, lyrics, limerick, and the captivating themes, ideas and passions presented in the precisely packaged present of word with song. that's what i believe, anyway.

and so, with the recent birthday music cd, i found you being a good mother again with song number 2 in your ordered scheming: "daisy" by karine polwart. i didn't have to guess why you selected this song. the pleasant, tongue curling irish accent on 'dahr-ling' was impossible to miss. but a one-line lyric might have gone unnoticed by even me had it not instantly brought the comfort and tonic i've been missing in these past sick six weeks:

"i know you’ll only say a thing you believe to be true..."

exquisite, no. intentional, yes. knowing that recently, i've had 3 encounters where i've berated myself for things that i've said, and called into question the usefulness of truth as a virtue, you snuck in a song that would convey a most mothering message that reminds me - someone knows and believes the best in me, even when i can't believe it myself.

and so - when i can, i steal away quiet moments in order to listen to the soothing voice of a mystery irish woman, grateful that your mothering soul crafted for me a present that is as much a comfort to me as a blanket to a baby.

thank you.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Poetry to my ears

One of my professors ended our class with a few poems the other night. I really connected with this one and I thought I'd share it with you.

The Journey
By Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Counting down...

three days of madness left and then I'll search for my sanity once again.

But until then I thought I'd post these two videos which help me to visualize a couple of themes we've been exploring in our Sexual Disorders class.

The first one characterizes the perversion of love (as an example of sadomasochism)...

And this one contrasts that distorted love (yet often our best effort) with a more pure form of love...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wrapping Up Yet Another Season

I can't believe that in 7 days I will be half way through my program here at MHGS. There have been moments where my time here has felt as though it were creeping at a painfully slow pace and there have been other moments where I'm spinning around in the wind and chaos of the enormous workload I am somehow able to tackle by the end of each trimester. This season has been excessively chaotic. I began the trimester with a reunion as many friends of Colorado made their way up to the great Northwest, and not too long after that we drove down for my sister's wedding. I feel like I never really had an opportunity to catch up and and rest assured that all was not beyond my reach.

Our 14 hour drive home from California this last Sunday provided me with a great deal of time to ponder upon my anxiety over always feeling like my life is in flux. It seems obvious, perhaps, that I would feel that way in our current situation considering we are sort of in a state of transition in our lives. Believing that we are only here in Seattle temporarily, while I finish my degree, has prevented us from really putting our feet on the ground. And yet, when I really think about it, I wonder if I've ever felt planted at any stage in my life. High school was transitory - I couldn't wait to leave home. Not too long after that I got married and two years later began a family. Both Brian and I have both struggled to land on a specific direction for our individual, yet intricately and intimately connected, lives.

I recognize that we are a part of a larger context - a culture that is always on the move. But lately I've discovered that my continual movement and progression, which some have associated with ambition, is most deeply rooted in a sense of fear. I'm afraid of standing still. I'm afraid that if I stop running toward something I won't know what to do, who to be, or how to be. But I'm tired of running. My marathon of a life has worn me out. And yet, it's how I've learned to cope with the traumas of my life.

The other night in my human development class we were discussing this idea presented by Winnicott (a psychological big shot) referred to as "the fear of breakdown". He suggests that the anxiety that we feel in the present, whereby we think we're afraid of what could happen, is in actuality a result of the trauma that has already occurred. So maybe I haven't really been running toward anything...I've just been running from what I have not been able to work through at this juncture.

For some reason, the season of Advent always beckons me to stop running so fast. I'm sensing that invitation now. A few weeks ago I had a conversation with my closest friend here (whom I've referred to as my security blanket) about mine and Brian's struggle with determining where we should go from here in life and she asked me a poignant question that I can't shake from my mind. She asked what it would look like for us to simply be here where we're at right now. In my own reflecting since that conversation I haven't been able to come up with any concrete answer, but I think it's stirred my desire to figure out how to make this a place we can call home. I'm learning that home isn't really a location, it's a way of being present and in relationship with those in your life at any given point in time.


Monday, November 24, 2008

self-soothing goes out the window when you're sick

i've been sick for almost 2 weeks. it started out with just a sore throat, moved to the sinuses, and is now stuck in my chest. my lungs hurt from the heaving and my throat is raw from the coughing. saturday night, i had to try to sleep sitting up and not sleeping well doesn't help much with the recovery.

so, what does one do when the methods of self-soothing aren't working? normally, when life is tough, i soothe myself with a nap or a walk - neither of which work right now. i've tried to numb the pain by watching a lot of television - and at least it has done what it was meant to do, be the anesthetic i've needed...but i'm still missing the soothing. i've drank at least 20 cups of chamomile and tension tamer tea...and that's as close to soothed as i've been in 2 weeks.

so, now what? meditation is difficult when pain is present and is even harder when the focus is supposed to be on the breath that happens to be labored and interrupted by wheezing and coughing. sleeping is impossible. exercise taxes my lungs. t.v. numbs me. i even tried to do some cleaning and the dust combined with the chemicals made things worse.

does this mean i'm forced to be un-soothed for the duration of this sickness? is there a greater meaning or purpose to this discomfort, irritation, nuisance? am i missing something? am i making too much of it?

all i know is i've been miserably uncomfortable for 2 weeks. i'm holding my breath (what's left of it) waiting to feel better. i'm racking up undone normal daily tasks until i'm well again...but what about those who don't have the luxury of feeling better? what about karl who has battled 2 herniated discs in his back for 18months and has pain daily? what about those with chronic ailments like asthma or arthritis? how do they self-soothe? are they extra creative? or can they just hold their breath longer than me?

i don't want to miss anything - but i fear i'm missing everything. i never want a learning lesson to pass me by, and yet, in the holding my breath, waiting for this sickness to be over, that's exactly what i'm doing - i'm missing the now. i'm missing the gift of the present. i've got blinders on and i'm focused on the afterwards, so i'm missing everything happening peripherally right now. i need to find a form of self-soothing that works so i can take off the blinders and enter into this discomfort while at the same time not torture myself with the inevitable pain that comes with sickness.

make sense? probably not. afterall, it's hard to write when you're miserable...or is it?


Friday, November 21, 2008

the unbridled hope of a child...

i was so glad i was present and available to answer lucy's request for snuggle time before quiet hour today. i was all ready to get in the shower, but that could wait for a few more minutes. lucy wanted to pick up our conversation that we'd been having the past few nights about disney world. she wanted to know how big mickey was. what were the rides like. what kind of games could be played. and was there dancing too? so, today i chose to tell her all about the 'it's a small world' ride. the description of that ride must have just been the answer she was looking for as she was then determined that she wanted to go. so, i told her maybe she should ask for a trip to disney world for christmas. she guffawed at the thought of santa bringing her disney world. i quickly explained that he could bring us the tickets to go.

she thought for a minute and asked if we could go to the mall and if i could sit on santa's lap and ask him for us. understanding a childs' fear of sitting on a large jolly bowl full of jelly, i told her that she would have to be the one to ask if that's what she wanted. but, i suggested there might be another way.

i said, "you know, santa only works during christmas, but do you know who works all year round and is only a prayer away?"

she responded, "Jesus?"

i told her that if she didn't want to ask santa, she could ask Jesus. she thought about this for a moment and said, "will Jesus drop the tickets in the sky down from heaven?"

i said, "maybe. but they might also show up under your pillow, or under your plate at dinner."

she was having fun with this idea and asked for me to tell her more places they could show up. so, i said, "maybe they will be in your carseat, or in your lunch bag at school."

it was fun to watch her laugh and giggle at these thoughts. then, she looked behind her out the window and said, "i don't see the tickets in the sky, will i be able to see them when they come down from heaven?"

i brought it to her attention that while she would be able to see the tickets if that's where they were, she hadn't even asked yet. she quickly said, "then, let's do it right now."

she bowed her head and clasped her hands and prayed, "dear Jesus, i would really like to go to disney world sometime. could you please send us some tickets? amen."

with a tear in my eye grateful for her hope and trust, i smiled and was thrilled to be a part of this moment. then, when it was time for me to go she said, "i'm just going to look under my pillow real quick to see if they're there."

obviously there were no tickets to disney world - but that didn't deter her hope. i told her she might have to be very patient, and possibly remind Jesus. she asked if he would forget, and i reassured her that he wouldn't, but it didn't hurt to ask again. so, i'm sure she will. over and over again she will. and everytime it will be a reminder to me that Jesus loves the little children...all the children of the world...


full circle

I'm taking this interesting class right now called Care of Soul and the Call to Sacred Activism. In fact, I'm about to run out the door to my second day of this three-day course, but I wanted to leave you with a little taste of what we're attempting to work through together.

"Globalization has created possibilities for local, regional, and global integration, but it has also left waves of disintegration in its wake. It has given us more and more of a free market, but it has unmasked human and structural 'unfreedoms' that contribute to making so few so wealthy while so many remain so poor. It has given us new technology such as global positioning systems, which help us find our way in time and sapce, but in other ways it has made us less able to find the ethical coordinates and the spiritual vision that would help us find a place of human solidarity. In order to understand the assets and liabilities of our contemporary context, we need to examine more carefully and critically the meaning and motor of globalization, the premises and players that shape it, and ultimately the direction and destiny that are defining where we are headed as a human family." -Daniel G. Groody, Globalization, Spirituality, and Justice

And you can check out an insightful article/interview about my professor here.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sneak Peak

My sister just emailed me a few photos from her wedding so I posted them to our family blog. You can check them out here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

what does God's peace look like?

Jesus says in Matthew, "do not suppose that i have come to bring peace to the earth. i did not come to bring peace, but a sword." and later in John, Jesus says, "peace i leave with you; my peace i give you. i do not give to you as the world gives. do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

as i wrestled with this idea of peace, i re-looked up the John passage in the message version of the Bible and it says this, "i'm leaving you well and whole. that's my parting gift to you. peace."

this sentence comes right after Jesus talks about leaving the Holy Spirit with us to comfort us. so, is it possible that the peace he is referring to is the peace that comes from the wholeness and oneness offered through his Spirit?

meaning...we may be at odds with others, or we may encounter pain in conflict, or we may not see eye to eye - but, we can still know peace if we trust that the Spirit will guide us, comfort us, show us, teach us and ultimately complete us as we walk through the storms that upset us.

so - could the sword part of his mission be that his yoke will cause division and flip things on their heads - but the peace part is that he has left his Spirit to complete us and speak to us and make us whole when his way has caused an upset?


Monday, November 17, 2008


lyrics to song, when spoken words don't work anymore:

Heal the Wound

I used to wish that I could rewrite history
I used to dream that each mistake could be erased
Then I could just pretend
I never knew the me back then

I used to pray that You would take this shame away
Hide all the evidence of who I've been
But it's the memory of
The place You brought me from
That keeps me on my knees
And even though I'm free

Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful You are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
And heal the wound but leave the scar

I have not lived a life that boasts of anything
I don't take pride in what I bring
But I'll build an altar with
The rubble that You've found me in
And every stone will sing
Of what You can redeem

Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful You are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
And heal the wound but leave the scar

Don't let me forget
Everything You've done for me
Don't let me forget
The beauty in the suffering

Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful You are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
And heal the wound but leave the scar...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I recently wrote an article for the WBCC college group blog. You can check it out here:

He Came For This

Monday, November 10, 2008

following the instruction manual

i'm learning the hard way that to follow the instruction manual line by line is not to really live. to have to walk through life carrying a dog-eared, highlighted list of dos and don'ts doesn't prepare you or ready you for the real-deal. just like someone who had a heart attack would die if the person trying to save their life spent too much time reading the how-to before using the defibrillator, moments and opportunities for growth and living die when we aren't prepared to walk through them because we've leaned too heavily on the manual.

i feel like i've lived my life by an instruction manual. i've paid close attention to the what-to-dos and what-not-to-dos, but when the moments hit - i'm completely unprepared to say the right word, do the right thing, or be the right person. i learn all about love - but do i actually practice it? i learn all about truth, but can i actually describe it to someone? i learn all about considering others, but do i ever practice selflessness? i learn pin-pointed, taken out of context verses and try to apply them in real-life scenarios when i haven't understood the over arching idea of the scripture, or experienced the meaning it has to offer. i've only read it as an instruction manual - and not immersed myself in its themes, in its context, in its relevance to this life.

so, when friends come to me hurting - i don't know what to say or do. when someone comes to me searching for answers - i leave them with more questions. when someone needs me to bear their backpack of shame, i've got my own aches and pains and can't lift another.

i feel terribly unequipped to do life. i feel like i've counted on everyone else to live it for me. to tell me what to do. to point me in the right direction. and now - now, there's just me and my instruction manual. how do i translate reading about life and awkward situations, and tough challenges, and frustrating people, and loving when it hurts, and forgiving when i don't want to, and dying in order to live, and suffering in order to be comforted - into living it?

Father, equip me.


Saturday, November 8, 2008


mhgs what if no. 1 from blaine hogan on Vimeo.

mhgs what no. 2 from blaine hogan on Vimeo.

For your viewing pleasure

I just thought I'd share these two little iphone-captured images from my day of savoring earlier this week...

Friday, November 7, 2008

a woman.

i stumbled upon what may be a very interesting woman. more details to come - but in the meantime, a teaser:



Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sensory Overload

Wow. What an interesting couple of days. I've wanted to greet this blog each day this week as a means of recording everything I've been receptive to these past few days. The demands of the second half of my trimester in school have prevented me from doing just that...but I'm not complaining because it's forced me to simply remain open to soaking it all up.

After a fun-filled-four-day weekend with the girls, I woke up MONDAY morning aware of the anxiety swirling through my stomach. It didn't take long for me to realize that the anxiety, or maybe a better descriptor is "anticipation", was not bound solely to the approaching due date of the first of a series of research papers, but that it was somehow connected to a more collective experience of those who call themselves American citizens. The opportunity to come together to jointly determine the outcome of this historical election was finally within reach.

TUESDAY was the big day. I rode the bus to school that morning and discovered that everyone seemed to be effected by the magnitude of this opportunity. Typically I hide behind a book and listen to my music or the latest Rob Bell podcast, but this bus ride was different. No one seemed to be able to keep hidden the heightened level of arousal which caused an increased level of sensory perception. People were actually looking into one another’s eyes and acknowledging the presence of those around us. It was as if the realization that we were all connected and necessary for this decision had the power to break through the habitual functioning we've all grown accustomed to. People were awake. And you could sense it. You could see it on their faces. You could hear it in their excited conversations.

After staying up way too late working on a paper while simultaneously watching CNN (FYI - it's very difficult to finish a paper on Election Day) I woke up WEDNESDAY morning wondering what they day would be like. Would people still see each other? Would they be excited? Would the division so strongly revealed when looking at the popular vote be evident on people's faces? Would it feel like some were winners and others were losers or would there be a sense of unity? I rode the bus again yesterday morning and was so saddened by the difference a day had made. I literally felt like people were afraid to look at each other. I found myself wondering if my upbeat mood would be a dead giveaway to those around me of how I felt about the decision. And then I felt like I needed to somehow reign in the emotions I tend to wear on my sleeve out of fear that I might offend someone or be deemed "different" from those who didn't share my sentiments.

As the day went on and I realized that Tuesday had been a gift - not necessarily because of the election of Obama, but because for a single moment in time I glimpsed what life could be like if people were able to see the face of the other and acknowledge our connectivity. I knew the sensory overload that had allowed me to catch this glimpse would soon be numbed again so I fought to remain open to what my sense could reveal to me for the rest of that day. Here's a little something I wrote at the conclusion of an emotionally-charged couple of days:

What I took note of today...

:::The smell of Seattle filled with hints of damp leaves trampled upon, coffee beans - the drug of choice in the great northwest, and the aroma of freshly baked pastries seeping out of Le Panier as I walked through Pike Place Market on my way to school.
:::The now familiar sound of squeaky buses breaking as they hustle all of the environmentally-conscious people about.
:::The felt comfort of dressing down and wearing my grungier clothes including a brown hat that makes me feel a bit younger when I wear it.
:::The sight of an artist intent on his representation of my favorite aesthetically-pleasing bus stop filled with trees barely grasping the brightest gold leaves I've ever seen.
:::The taste of hot apple cider from Trader Joes while sitting with the ones I love the most after a long and sleep-deprived couple of days!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

you'll be a different person a year from now...

i've heard it said, "you'll be a different person a year from now based on the books you read and the people you meet." i concur!

this weekend, i had the books that i'm currently reading merge into relevance with one event - an argument with karl. we were arguing and didn't have the time to resolve the conflict due to it being a saturday, the kids were awake, and karl's mom was in town. so, needing something to quell the pain...i first turned to the idol of pleasure - an idea recently garnered from the book, "Breaking the Idols of Your Heart", a review of Ecclesiastes. i wanted to use pleasure to anesthetize the pain and frustration of arguing with the one i'm supposed to be one flesh with. i turned to pleasure for my gratification rather than resolving the issues. then, i went for a drive to meditate, pray, clear my head in the beautiful autumn of colorado. but, i was also reminded of a passage from "Sacred Marriage" which reminded me that my prayers won't go very far if i'm in the midst of dissension with my spouse (I Peter 3:7). so, i took the challenge of Matthew 5:23 to leave my gift of prayer and meditation at the altar and go and be reconciled to my husband.

i picked him up and he went for a drive with me. we listened to a song by NeedtoBreathe called Looks Like Love, and the song became our mutual prayer and i believe we were heard.

Looks Like Love

Take another step
Don’t give up on me just yet
We could take a chance
We could find a child’s romance
At least we’d love until we can’t

I wont run when it looks like love
I won’t hide beneath the fear
Of how my past has come undone

I wont run when it looks like love
I can’t spend another night alone
Regretting what I’ve done
So, I won’t run

The breeze can only be
When she overcomes the heat
Our hearts can only shake
When there’s risk that they could break
Yeah it’s a chance that I will take

Raise your head
Its time to say
Those words that I have left unsaid
I’ve slept through the sunrise
And I turned
Away every time it got bright

so, i guess i'll buy the quote about the books i read, and the people i meet and add, "the music i listen to".


Friday, October 31, 2008

who would have thought?

who would have thought that by me uncovering my wounds and seeing where i've been broken and hurt and the actions i choose out of that hurt and pain would lead me to see the goodness in others? i've run into a couple of people lately that have demonstrated some behaviour that i would normally think is unacceptable or rude or petty or inappropriate, but now i see through the behavior and recognize that their actions are probably a result of their own pains and wounds.

for example, i watched a teacher the other day roll her eyes and show contempt for young children in the classroom that were upset, or acting out, or not listening. and at first, i was wary that somehow her actions would be directed towards lucy and was therefore afraid that lucy would receive the eye-rolling, or the humph-hawing if she acted out, or got upset or didn't listen right away. so, my first reaction was to make sure lucy didn't do any of those things. then, i sorted through what i was seeing and realized - even a perfect angel would have somehow warranted her not-so-perfect-teacher reaction because it isn't about the children, it's about her.

maybe she rolls her eyes because someone was intolerant of her. maybe she doesn't extend grace to children because grace wasn't extended to her. maybe she shows contempt for them in the same way she shows contempt for herself. i found myself analyzing what it could be that causes her behavior, and then i stopped myself short of figuring it out. it doesn't matter what it was...it only matters that she too has been wounded - and her wounds are causing her to respond to others in the same way that she has been responded to and in the same way she responds to herself. by seeing that her actions were out of a place of hurt - not arrogance, or a better-than-you attitude, i was able to let her actions - even those directed to my own daughter - be tolerated as a way of grace.

knowing that my less-than-perfect actions come from a place of empty and pain, and not out of a place of arrogance or better-than-you attitude, i'm able to extend grace and mercy to those who offend me, upset me, irk me, or otherwise. uncovering my own pain has led me to be more tolerable of the actions that others take as a result of theirs.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Battle of the Sexes

I've avoided writing about some of my thoughts surrounding my current Sexual Disorders class simply because the subject matter just feels too personal. But after submitting my own Sexual Development Paper this week, I'm finding it difficult to think about much else so this may be a way for me to work through some of what I've been thinking upon lately.

I think I could spend of the rest of my life solely devoted to analyzing and making as much sense as possible of the first three chapters of Genesis. You may be wondering why I'm always so bent on going to the beginning...to the past...in order to understand the present and ultimately to understand where I might place my hope. I've been accused (even recently) of being obsessed with utilizing the past as an excuse for current short-comings or failures - so this is a touchy subject for me (and by "touchy" I really mean to suggest that I'm rather passionate about my perspective). The beginning of a story sets the tone for an entire book - it introduces themes, paints a picture of the setting and the characters, it constructs a context that helps us to make sense of how we got to where we are today. If people understand or are able to read the beginnings of our stories they will gain a better understanding of how we got to where and who we are today. And like our individual stories, the beginning of the one grand story offers us a context for which we can begin (or at least attempt) to make sense of things so that we will be able to determine where to go from here. The purpose of examining the past is never to stay stuck - but to determine where and how to move in the present toward the future.

And so back to Genesis where we discover that we were created in the image of God, both male and female - together, we were created as image-bearers. There is something of the essence of being a female that reflects the image of God and similarly there is something of the essence of being a male that reflects the image God. Both are necessary for the glory of God to be made most visible in the context of this world. I'm not sure how influenced I am by the cultural stereotypes and history of oppressive thinking that has infiltrated most systems and structures in our world, but it seems to that at least in part, the essence of being female has something to do with surrender, receptivity, an openness, a softness. Some may call it "weakness" - but I won't use that description only because of the negative connotations associated with that particular word and the images it may conjure up for many (if not most) of us. I am less familiar with the essence of what it means to be male (for the obvious reason being that I am not a man) yet I think it has something to do with strength, creation, penetration (I'm sorry...there's no way to describe such attributes without utilizing such sexually-explicit terms). Some may even ascribe "power" to the nature of masculinity, but again, I refuse to use the word on my descriptor list because of the ways in which that word has come to represent something it really is not. I don't think that these categories of masculinity and femininity are mutually exclusive by any means - and I also do not think that they grant us much direction (or justification) in terms of relational roles.

I've been specifically fascinated with what actually took place in the garden when Eve took the apple and offered it to Adam. In the past, I have been receptive to the theological perspective that in this scenario there was "role reversal" whereby Eve took the lead and Adam became the receiver/follower. But I'm looking at it through a different lens at this point in my analysis. It appears to me that Eve was indeed distancing herself from her gender-identity. In this particular scene she doesn't appear to be surrendering or receiving. I don't sense that she was open and soft to what God had laid out for her and her partner. But what I'm not buying is that Adam was taking on the "feminine role" in this scene either. He is equally rejecting the essence of femininity as he allows his companion to take a bite of the apple. There seems to be a mutual hatred toward what it means to be a woman, and they both kill that part of their relationship in hopes of becoming all-powerful - because after all the big draw for them here is to become "like God." They are deceived because they both believe that by becoming completely autonomous and powerful they will be more like God. Ironically, it is through the loss of feminine "weakness" that the image they had previously been able to clearly represent together is no longer as easy to identify.

Evil seems to be bent on destroying "femininity" and exaggerating "masculinity". Evil is intent on destroying the perfect union that God originally created. I have been accused of being a "feminist" many times, and so I feel the need to clarify a few things at this point. I am not suggesting that men are intent on destroying femininity. Men and women are both equally susceptible to the deception of evil and so we are all guilty of killing femininity and exaggerating masculinity. Plus, the label of "feminist" seems to suggest that one is "pro-female" and I would rather be called something like a "unionist" - someone who is pro-union between the masculine and feminine.

This isn't just some theological/philosophical perspective that is removed or detached from the reality we live in. We don't have to look very far to see the ways in which the essence of femininity is being violently attacked. We live in a world where violence against women and children (who interestingly enough seem to exude the same sort of "weakness") is rampant and horrific. This hatred of femininity is oozing out of how we, as women, view our own and other women's bodies. The violence we do to ourselves and other women is difficult to acknowledge and take responsibility for.

And isn't it interesting that the way in which God redeemed the world was to send his son made incarnate in the flesh. This son came into the world as a weak and receptive infant who grew up to be a man who fully exemplified the union of power and weakness. It wouldn't have had the same effect had he come as a woman. But as a man unafraid of embracing the essence of femininity with the balance of masculinity, God revealed his divine image. And evil still attempted to exploit his weakness - to defeat the weakness with excessive force and power...and yet, it was Christ's weakness and surrendering that ultimately led to salvation.

So here we are...two women who have done great harm to our own femininity - though in very different ways. Your wounds have led you to kill desire, surrender, receptivity. My wounds have led me to invite harm in my own desire, surrender and receptivity. How can we learn together what it means to reclaim our femininity for the purpose of union and ultimately the revelation of the glory of God? How can we reclaim the beauty we possess within and without? How can we help our daughters to know what we're only learning now?


Thursday, October 23, 2008

we are all stroke victims

i was reading a children's book with lucy that we'd checked out from the library called "Now One Foot, Now the Other." the story is about a grandfather and his grandson and all the special moments they share together. it was a magical relationship until the grandfather had a stroke. the boy was devastated because his grandfather was gone from home and in the hospital for months. but he was even more so when his grandfather came home and couldn't do any of the things they used to do, and instead sat in a wheelchair, staring out the window.

the boy didn't know that his grandfather's mind still wanted to play games and go for walks, but his body wouldn't let him. the grandfather still had the capacity to move and talk, but the stroke had greatly hindered his abilities.

aren't we all just like that grandfather? our minds want to change our pasts, modify current behaviors, or control the outcomes of our futures. we all have great capacities for love, forgiveness, gratitude, generosity, selflessness, but the stroke of pain, betrayal, abandonment, shame or suffering has hindered our abilities to exercise those capacities.

there are many things i want to do and ways i want to be, but just wishing for them doesn't make them so. i want to break the cycle of my generational sin. i want to do what i need to do, instead of only what i feel like doing. i want to wake up happy every day. i want to put other's needs before my own. i want to act gently and kindly, especially in frustrating moments and unending days. i want self-control. i want to feel good about the mundane things i do everyday, knowing that my sacrifice is benefitting someone. i want to sacrifice without thinking about how my sacrifice is good because it's benefitting someone.

i believe God has given us the capacity to do all the things he lays before us. but, we've all had strokes of pain: wrong-doings done to us, had our shame laid bare before us, been betrayed, felt alone for too long, had needs repeatedly go unmet, had feelings unreciprocated, fears have been realized, doubts have been confirmed. all these strokes paralyze our abilities to live into our potentials and our capacities. while our minds say we can, our bodies and our spirits act otherwise.

but stroke victims do have hope. through physical therapy and much needed attention and care, stroke victims can recover from their paralysis - maybe not completely, but they do move closer and closer into the capacity their minds have been telling them they were capable of all along.

we have hope to recover from our strokes too. but the effort - oh the effort required to recover is titanic! through time - a lot of time - and careful attention to our wounds - not ignoring them and hoping they'll resolve on their own, we can recover from the fears that paralyze us, the emptiness that haunts us, or the pain that still causes us grief.

most days i sit and stare out a window. and yet, my mind is telling me that i can walk and talk. will it take a grandson believing in me to motivate me to live into my potential? no. but it has taken a daughter.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Forgive us...

Well...I'm at the very beginning of my reading week (which is literally what the week suggests - a time to catch up on all of the reading material we are inundated with at school), and I'm already thankful for the space this week provides to process through all that I'm learning both in school and in my own life. It's fascinating to me how we seem to be learning the same lessons simultaneously but with different stories and varying contexts. Strange how God seems to be leading each one of us to the same place but with different methods.

I, too, found myself longing for comfort this morning as I attempted to come to terms with what it feels like to be unseen, unknown, unnamed and unvalued by others. We're each familiar with that place because it's simply a part of what it means to share in the human experience. And yet, the universality of it never seems to soften the blow or soothe the bruising. I just recently heard news that my little brother was bullied by a group of kids who for whatever reason (justified or not) strongly disliked him. After spotting him skateboarding in a parking lot they proceeded to physically drag him to a nearby elementary school where one of the kids took it upon himself to unleash his anger at the world on my baby brothers face until he pleaded with the kid to stop. With a black eye, broken nose, possibly a broken bone in his hand and bruising covering his entire head and neck, my poor brother's body looks how my heart feels right now.

All I can think of to say right now is, "Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do." Those boys have no idea how they have contributed to the wounds my brother has had to deal with from the second he came into this relationally-handicapped world. They don't even understand that they were using my brother as a punching bag out of their own woundedness. And likewise, those in whom I feel are associated with my own metaphorical beating are unable to see how they are further wounding an already nearly lifeless body. They are unaware of how their own defense mechanisms and coping strategies for the reality of the world we find ourselves in have developed out of their own woundedness. So, forgive us Lord, for we know not what we've done, what we're doing and what we will continue to do.

And somehow, saying those words out loud as I type them now reveal the comfort I have already experienced. It is a comfort that seeps out of the roots of a heart that knows it's own depravity. It is a comfort that is born out of acknowledging that I, too, beat him, scorned him and ultimately nailed him to the cross. It is a comfort that comes from those who see my own guilt and their own guilt and together we grab hands and cry out, "Lord, forgive us, for we know not what we do."


p.s. I found the image on flickr - it's by Sighthound and it's interestingly enough titled "Grace Among the Dead".

Sunday, October 19, 2008

i think i thought of one.

i think i thought of an example where i did indeed feel comforted. but a bit of history is needed to understand.

growing up, the cardinal sin in my family was getting a speeding ticket. having a dad who owned his own insurance business meant that he knew all the costs involved with getting a ticket: the initial cost, then the increased cost of insurance, and the oh-by-the-way-it-stays-on-your-record-for-3-years-cost...so no hope of lowering that increased insurance expense for a while. top that with him being a policeman too, and the pat response when i slumped forward handing him the piece of paper, eyes staring at the floor was: "you did WHAT?!?" and anyone who has ridden in my car knows that i know this response so well because i got so many tickets (is anyone really that surprised? just imagine me driving as fast as i talk).

now that you know what i was used to, you will see what comfort looked like for me the first time i got a ticket after being married - out from under my father's problem, i became karl's.

karl used to leave for work just minutes before i did. we drove nearly the same route to work, only mine was shorter. so, one cold morning, i was rushing, as always, to get to work on time. i blew right through the stop sign just blocks from my house. sure enough, no amount of krista-charm could talk me out of a traffic violation. no, it wasn't for speeding - this time - but nonetheless, a ticket, the record on my insurance, as well as all the other costs involved. i immediately called karl, knowing he was only a few minutes in front of me. i was sobbing when he picked up and he knew something was wrong immediately. i expected, "you did WHAT?!?" but instead he said, "what's wrong? are you okay? what happened?" i proceeded to tell him the consequences of me getting out of the house late, once again. he said not to worry, but instead, to meet me at the next starbucks and he'd buy me a latte and everything would be okay.

i slumped into starbucks, eyes staring at the floor and handed him my ticket. he took it, put it in his pocket and offered me a warm beverage, a kiss and a tight squeeze. he sat with me until i was finished crying and told me he hoped the rest of my day would go better. and though i don't remember for sure, i bet the rest of that day did go better, because i had experienced comfort.

karl has had the fortune of comforting me the same way many, many times. while i did learn to stop at that particular stop sign...i still have a problem with speed limits and red lights. and every time i call to tell him what's happened, his response is the same, "what's wrong? are you okay? what happened?" i tell him, and he assures me there will be a kiss and a tight sqeeze for me when i come home.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

what does comfort look like?

last night as i went on my evening walk through the neigborhood, crunching my way through the crispy fallen leaves, i was in need of something. it seems rough patches are just that - patches. just spots, moments, days or weeks that don't seem to be going well, and the past few have been that for me. so, as i walked by the light of a bright full harvest moon and breathed in the sweet smell of autumn, i was looking for something to help me through this rough patch.

as i put one foot in front of the other, i didn't know if i needed guidance and direction, or correction and wisdom, or simply to be comforted. i tried to imagine what it would look like for Jesus to be walking with me. after having read The Shack, i was trying to picture how Jesus would look right beside me. what did I need him to be? did I need a wise and correcting father? did I need an open armed loving mother? did I need a silent friend holding my hand?

as i tried to picture what kind of Jesus i needed, it became painfully clear i needed Comfort. not someone to tell me what to do. not someone even to listen and help me process. i didn't need someone to tell me everything would be alright. i just needed Comfort. and i started to cry (once again for the umpteenth time in the past few weeks) because i realized i don't know what Comfort looks like.

i racked my brain for examples of pain and hard times when i had been comforted. and i could think of hard times, but i couldn't picture what Comfort in those times looked like. as i wept i realized 3 things: either i indeed was never comforted, or i was comforted and didn't know it, or someone or something tried to comfort me and i wouldn't allow it.

frankly, i haven't needed a lot of Comfort in my life. for one thing, life has been pretty good to me. for another, i'm a boot-strap girl. when life has gotten me down, i've picked myself up by my bootstraps without spending a lot of time needing Comfort. so, it doesn't surprise me that i couldn't call to mind a visible time that i knew being comforted.

so, what does Comfort look like? is it a hug? someone holding your hand? someone with gentle words? flowers? cards? a warm blanket and a pillow? i have had most of these things and more but have not felt comforted enough by them to remember a time feeling or having known Comfort - why?

and perhaps i surround myself with comfortable things because of the absence of Comfort i feel within. i wear sweats pants and ugg boots. elastic and scratchy fabrics bother me. heels give me blisters. my bed is my favorite place in the world with high thread-count sheets, feather pillows and a down comforter. i eat a lot of comfort foods. ice cream being the most filling. i drive a mini-van, because of its ease with 2 small kids. any free money i have is spent on organizing things because i love being surrounded with order and comfort.

so, is it possible that i have been comforted - but not by a person, a touch, or Spirit, but by things? and is that of my own doing? has Spirit tried to reach me and i've built an untouchable wall?

how fascinating to me that i crave Comfort (i.e. after church on sundays, i run home and take off my heels and tight clothes and put on flannel). but yet, can't think of one time where i have known Comfort.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

hold on until tomorrow

this morning i thought life had pricked my balloon and the rest of the day was a slow deflate. one tear came, then another and another. each time i finished crying, i thought i had poured it all out. and yet, it was only noon and i knew there were more to come. i couldn't wait for the day to be over putting my hope in the fresh of a new morning. but i still had many hours left until the moon would rise to give hope that the end of today was near. so, what do you do with a day that starts off bad and continues that way until you feel it couldn't get any worse? what do you do when you crave the night and its covering of darkness, only the sun is paused at its height in the sky?

i don't know if there's a salve for every day that is like the one i'm having today, but for this moment, i'm balming myself with Lamentations 3:21-23:

this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

how interesting that in our laments, His compassions never fail us. in fact, his mercies are new every morning - and that's what i'm clinging to. while i'm sure the rest of the afternoon will bring as many tears as the morning did, it's important for them to be shed. i need the catharsis that crying brings. i need to experience this suffering - for without it, i don't have the hope of redemption.

i've said it over and over to many people, lately: you don't put a bandaid on skin that hasn't been cut. there is no hope for redemption without being cut wide open and acknowledging that we need the good nurse to care for us and ultimately, make us whole again.

until tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

In the in-between

I have been reminded repeatedly lately that I am living in the in-between, the already...but the not yet. After returning from another brief trip back home to Colorado I find myself at a loss today for how to process all that occurred...but more importantly - how to process what did not occur. In Colorado I seem to be more connected to my creative, productive and worker-self. In Washington, I am much more rooted in my contemplative, reflective, book-loving-self. The communities (and I use the term loosely here) that I am a part of in both regions of the country may know both of these sides of my personality, but for some reason the nature of my role in Colorado seems to call upon my productive self with greater energy as Seattle bids the contemplative side to thrive. And I am apparently lost in-between the two.

What is it about these two distinct locations in my story that reveal such a dichotomy? I think that in Colorado I learned early on to take care of everyone else so that I would not have to acknowledge my own neediness. The moments when my neediness surfaced always led to extreme humiliation or rejection. So I learned to focus on all of the presenting needs around me rather than sort through or discover the root of my own. I made an excellent "church worker" because of this. Now, in retrospect, I realize that true discipleship requires that we face our own neediness honestly rather than splitting off from it.

My role here in Seattle is quite different. I am here getting an education on how to help people in their neediness, and yet the point of this education is to recognize such neediness in myself first and foremost. And so most of my time here has consisted of terribly difficult introspection and reflection. I am painfully aware of my fragility and neediness here which actually seems to lead me to greater isolation. But both worlds are rather lonely. In Colorado I am lonely because I have forgotten how to feel my needs within that context. In Washington I am lonely because I am overwhelmingly familiar with my needs.

Right now, as my trip to Colorado is still fresh in my mind...and my entrance back into my life here in Seattle is sitting here staring at me in the face, I am very aware of the contrast. And I'm wondering what will bridge these two realities in my life. Previously I would have determined that I am the one responsible for building the bridge. But now I'm convinced that it is through relationship that the bridge, which actually already exists, will become evident. As I learn to communicate my needs (which would require that I release them from being trapped within me out here) then those in whom carry them with me and for me will help guide me to the otherside and it will become impossible to disregard them and replace them with the needs of others. Then my giving to others will feel grounded in my own experience and not as a way of quieting that part of me.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

a poem, not prose

when i visited dan allender's class with you a couple of weeks ago, i was intrigued by something specific he said. he noted that often, things are not readily clear, like prose, but need a deeper dive into their mystery, like poetry.

so, to honor mystery, i'll share a poem that i wrote in 1996 for a man i would not meet until 1999 - figure that one out.


they grip a book firm and then tight
his fingers turn pages night upon night

eyes filter the page, he reads and takes time
to render each word and unmarked sign

his mind is searching for meaning,
looking to find truth and understanding

fingers follow each sentence from start to end
his hands flip the page at the corner's bend

word tell stories that fill his cluttered head
and remind him of dreams he's left unsaid

of one day building his house in the sky
a house built by his own hands; a paradise

i want to know details of his hidden dreams
is it a house of stone? or of wooden beams

show me pictures, use a thousand words or more
tell me why your hands are now wounded and torn

his lips spoke an undeniable story
a voice rang strong, a tale of truth and beauty:

'i chose not beams, wood, or stone - instead,
i used my hands to make a house into a home.'


Thursday, October 2, 2008

the tourniquet of silence

it's not surprising to me that when emotional trauma occurs, we shut down and shut up. the wounds are so deep, and so great, that all we can do is stop the blood flow in order to prevent great loss. we bind ourselves with silence to impede the feeling, and the hurt, the guilt and the pain that is coursing so powerfully and violently from our hearts.

and while initially, this is a life-saving, face-saving, or soul-saving act, in the long-term, it can deaden reality and all the emotions that go with it. then, the loss of life becomes too great to sustain. by keeping the tourniquet of silence on too long, we have to amputate not only the now deadened, wounded area, but with it, any vitality and life that surrounds it.

can we use a tourniquet of silence to accomplish only what it was meant for - a temporary, immediate act of desperation for rescue? and once its made clear that we will have to live with and be forced to face our wounds, take off the silence and seek refuge in the arms of a good nurse?

may i be a good nurse now for when i will inevitably become the patient later.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

no longer mute turns 50

i'd like to ring in our 50th blog with some photos (lauren, aren't you proud?). many of you have realized in our writings that shauna and i share a love of words, existential crises, deep thoughts, strong emotions and using this blog to express those loves and so much more. what you may not know is the other sides we share.

we also love to laugh. while life often provides more opportunity for tears and frustrations than for laughter, when the occasion does present itself, we seize happy moments with the same enthusiasm as that of a deep sea fisherman reeling in a gigantic, bright and shiny fish. we savor the inside jokes, the do-a-little-dances, the ironies, the sarcasms, the witty and clever innuendos, the hints of smart and slap-stick humors, and all the belly laughs that come with having a 12-year history of friendship to draw from.

these pictures - while not at all flattering - are most representative of what i love. while i have a deep need to write and to get all my insides out, i also have a deep need to laugh. i am a glutton of epic proportions when it comes to those chances where you laugh so hard you can't breathe, you're crying, your doubled-over...i crave those moments. maybe i know life will throw me a curve ball pitch next inning, so i relish the chances to hold on to those times of sheer happiness.

so, here are the moments captured on film circa 1998 where we were having fun once. but seeing them now, i'm having fun all over again.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

i'm angry.

i'm forewarning any men that might read this entry: this topic might not make any sense to you whatsoever. but it will to your wives and daughters. and since i express best in a chronological order, i'm going to include the thoughts that led up to me being angry.

Noelle, you might appreciate this most.

i just got an email from a friend who wanted my opinion on which Hooter Hider to select. this item happens to be an apron-type contraption that ties around the neck and provides privacy for a mother while nursing her baby. so, i went to the site that sells these items, browsed, made a selection and offered my opinion to her. that was that - or so i thought.

i began to be upset, first, that 4 years ago when Lucy was born, and even 2 years ago when Peter was born, they didn't make these contraptions. beginning motherhood was so difficult for me in every way - that anything, and i mean anything that might have helped me wade through those waters would have been invaluable. but as it stands, i missed out on the Hooter Hider, the Bumbo Chair, the Papasan Swing, etc...

but the frustration, and furthermore, the anger, mounted when i was reminded of all the other components that were missing in my early motherhood. whether or not a Hooter Hider would have come in handy, i can only speculate. but other priceless necessities that would have helped were missing.

for instance, i could only nurse both children for four months. just didn't have it in me, i thought. come to find out a year after Peter was born and eight months after i couldn't nurse any longer, i found out i was deficient in an element called 'Manganese', the key component in breast milk, something that could have been resolved with a simple vitamin supplement. and today i was reminded of how essential nursing is to building a healthy attachment between the mother and child.

also, nearly every friend i had would say they witnessed my misery during Lucy's first year of life, but not a single one suggested seeking help for postpartum depression. instead, i found refuge in a Brooke Shields book. and today, i discovered that had i sought help within that first year, i might have stalled, stopped, or possibly even corrected the damage i was doing to myself and my baby because of the depression i was drowning in.

but, i can't go back to the day Lucy was born. i can't do april 1, 2004 any better. and now, i have no need for a Hooter Hider. maybe i should get one just to remind me that someone else was in my broken boat once - frustrated with what was available for the new mother - and instead of being angry, they were inventive. instead of drowning, they swam. they swam to the other side of sorrow and went back for survivors. they came back for me.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

3 things I know...

1. I AM LOVED. How else could I explain the fact that three of my closest friends are traveling here (2 from Colorado and 1 from the other end of Washington) to see me today?! I feel so honored!!!

2. RELATIONSHIPS NEED TIME. Brian and I went out on our first official date in about a year. We were celebrating our 10 year anniversary (though technically our anniversary isn't until the 26th). I've always sort of felt like "date nights" were a nice luxury, but weren't vital to the relationship...but I think I've changed my stance on that one! We began the night with a set of rules - no talking about kids, money, work for him or school for me. At first it was difficult to figure out what to talk about, but by the end of the night we couldn't stop talking.

3. THERE WILL BE DANCING IN HEAVEN. The So You Think You Can Dance show was absolutely amazing. There is just something magical about music combined with the movement and expression of the human body. Some how the movement is able to communicate desire and beauty in a way that surpasses language. In a truly creative and engaging dance the observer is invited to enter into another realm of reality with the dancer.

That's all for now...can't wait to see you!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm posting like crazy today!

This poem has moved me immensely over the past several days. It was used for discussion at the marriage weekend we attended at my school.

The Ache of Marriage by Denise Levertov

The ache of marriage:

thigh and tongue, beloved,
are heavy with it,
it throbs in the teeth

We look for communion
and are turned away, beloved,
each and each

It is leviathan and we
in its belly
looking for joy, some joy
not to be known outside it

two by two in the ark of
the ache of it.

I don't think it's possible to bear shame alone...

We experienced a few moments of panic yesterday afternoon when Bailey emerged from her room attempting to cry but unable to get out a sound. I instantly stopped what I was doing in the kitchen and ran over to her. My mind was collecting data as I attempted to figure out what was going on. She mouthed the words, "I can't breathe" as she clutched the right part of her chest. I am usually able to snap into crisis management mode fairly quickly when my instincts tell me that something is truly wrong, but for some reason I was not able to stay composed in this moment. There was something about the look of fear in Bailey's eyes that triggered my reaction. Luckily, Brian was able to maintain calm enough to instruct Bailey to raise her arms into the air and to calm down. At that same moment I realized that Faith had followed Bailey out of the room so I looked at her and demanded to know what had happened. She looked up at me rather frightened herself and told me that she had kicked Bailey in the chest but that she didn't know she would hurt her that bad. I was enraged. I caught myself yelling at her with a mixture of disbelief and disappointment in my tone, "You KICKED her???"

Filled with shame for what she had done she ran into her room, laid in her bed on her stomach and hid her head under her arm. I knew instantly that my reaction had shamed her even further and I knew I would need to contend with what had just happened. At that point, Brian had calmed Bailey down enough to get her to breathe in slowly and methodically. It was her first time experiencing having the wind literally knocked out of her. I was immensely relieved that we weren't dealing with any number of things that could have been more serious than that. Once I knew she was fine I sought after Faith. All I could do was crawl into bed with her and hold her. I whispered into her ear that I was sorry I freaked her out and that I was just scared. She continued to sob as I tried to cover her with my love and understanding. Again I spoke to her, "It feels really bad when we realize that we've done something wrong...doesn't it baby?" She looked up at me and nodded her head in agreement. I continued to lay there with her for a long period of time, just holding her and feeling those places of shame that I know so well in my own heart.

It was a moment I'll remember for a long time to come. I wanted to take away her shame, but I knew I didn't have the power to do that. It was there not just because of the single act of kicking her sister, but because at the core of each one of us lies rebellion. It is a rebellion that we can't always hide or control...or cover up with "being good". It always remains. It is a part of being human in a fallen world.

It's ironic that all of this happened with my oldest daughter just prior to an experience where my own shame was painfully exposed. This morning I am the one lying in my bed on my stomach hiding my head under my arm and I'm longing for someone to come and hold me. I need someone else who knows this place of shame within herself to come and cry with me. I don't think it’s possible to bear it alone.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Did you know I'm a Gemini?

I've always been intrigued by the fact that my astrological sign is Gemini. Though I personally give no weight to the mythological fascination of astrological signs, I am intrigued by the fact that the ideas behind being a Gemini have to do with a duality between positive and negative characteristics. Lately, this idea of twinship or duality has surfaced as I've grappled with some rather disrupting discoveries. Through my own personal processing, engagement with some of the thoughts and readings from my current courses, and the beginnings of a relationship with a therapist I have found a new metaphor to play with a bit in my life. I'm becoming increasingly fonder of the use of metaphors. I'm learning how useful they can be when the substance of our minds is to difficult to bear without them.

My practicum professor from last year (who is currently my professor of psychopathology) once said that what surfaces in our dreams is what we cannot bear when we are conscious. They are tools for the mind, much like metaphors are. I've had a series of disturbing dreams in the last week that have prompted much processing. I thought I might utilize this blog entry to process through my most recent dream which has given birth to a new metaphor.

It began in what appeared to be a city alleyway (though it was physically located in a field just west of WBCC - right where Centennial was built). It was dusk or dawn...I'm not quite sure which, but there was an eerie feeling to the entire experience. I knew that walking down this alleyway was dangerous. There was a long line of abandoned warehouses and old broken down homes that had become the primary residence for many people without homes or with serious substance abuse issues. Despite my cognizance of the danger, I proceeded to walk down the not-quite-dark, yet not-quite-light passageway. I physically felt myself swallowing my own fear. It somehow made its way to the pit of my stomach where it remained throughout the course of the entire dream.

As I was walking I noticed that a figure began following me. Initially my pace simply increased until I realized that his pace was increasing incrementally with my own. Without much thought, I turned around immediately and faced my stalker. He was a scary-looking dude. He looked like he had been far from the arms of love for quite some time. Instead of screaming or giving into my fear, I felt a surge of strength propel me to confront him. I instructed him to travel with me and I began to run backwards facing him. I told him that once we got to the other end of the alley I would feed him and care for him. Though I found that taking control of the situation made me appear to be unafraid, it was merely a cover for the deep set fear still making itself known (at least to me) in the pit of my stomach. Surprisingly, this scary dude seemed to succumb to my demands and I soon felt as though I had power over him. At the end of our jog together I indeed fed him and also pulled my handy little wet-wipe to clean off his grimy face. As I wiped clean the thick and greasy dirt from his face, I felt increasingly tender toward him and whispered aloud, "I am wiping clean a face that was once loved dearly."

That was the extent of the dream and so you may be able to already assess how much there has been to engage with. Initially I was fascinated with my determination to walk down a path that I knew from the beginning was dangerous. I don't think this was simply a reflection of my ability to often take the plunge when it comes to walking down the right, yet difficult, path. This was more associated with a part of me that wants to dare people to hurt me or do any more damage than what has already been done. I was then intrigued by the way in which I dealt with my own fear throughout the progression of this dream. The physical manifestation of swallowing my fear felt so real. What was that all about? I wonder about the ways in which I have simply swallowed the red-flags - or better yet, the anxiety indicators that protection is necessary.

When the stranger began to follow me and I felt my fear attempt to creep its way up to my throat (it sort of felt like pregnancy-induced acid reflux), I fought it by taking control of the situation...by taking control of the person whom I was most afraid of in that moment. This has been the idea that I have been stuck on now for a couple of days and this is where my metaphor began to develop. There seems to be a duality that has taken place within my very being for as long as I can remember. There is a little-girl Shauna who is severely vulnerable, desperate, and incessantly needy. And then there is big-girl Shauna who has actually taken little-girl Shauna hostage. Big-girl Shauna says, "Be quiet. Stop whining. Stop feeling needy...heck, stop feeling anything. Don't worry, I'll take care of everything, just let me be in control and you'll stop feeling the pain." Little-girl Shauna helplessly takes the hand of big-girl Shauna until the pain is just too much to bear, and the desire and hunger overwhelms her tired and lonely little body. So she begins to scream for help. She runs away from this big girl in desperate pursuit for a mother or a father to hold her and rock her and weep with her. But she never seems to find the one she needs and eventually big-girl Shauna finds her again.

Big-girl Shauna is not numb to the pain, but she has learned how to bury it - in the pit of her stomach. And she actually loves the little-girl Shauna and believes that she is doing what is best for her. Her life is consumed with quieting the needs and taking control. She is constantly filled with anxiety. This cycle never seems to end. So as I am coming to terms with this duality living within me, I am struggling to figure out how I can grow into an integrated self. Abuse and defense mechanisms have driven my life thus far. So how do I begin to free the little-girl Shauna and teach big-girl Shauna to trust again? Relationship seems to be the only answer. It can only be in the context of relationship that desires and fears can be given a voice. And yet genuine relationship is what this duality has prevented from occurring.


holding onto empty

twice this week i've been left empty handed. once, i was anticipating coming away with something and didn't, and another time i was anticipating keeping something and couldn't.

last thursday i had my counseling appointment. i was so excited to see shari after having been unable to meet with her for almost a month. i brought pictures with me and had many unanswered questions i was ready to ask. but because it had been a month and we weren't on our regular schedule, we didn't meet at her office at the same time and missed each other. knowing that i was up the mountain, babysitting was taken care of for the next hour, and nowhere in particular to go, i decided to grab a cup of coffee and sit. i drove to a parking lot nearby and sat.

i sat and tried to sort through why i felt like i was left empty handed. with so many questions and anticipation brewing in my spirit, i so desperately wanted to share with someone and take away some answers. i went up to genessee with palms open, waiting expectantly for resolution and peace and was instead faced with closing my fingers around nothing but my coffee cup. i'm glad i had something to wrap my hands around because i couldn't shake the disappointment of emptiness...how it just sits like the heaviest breath in my throat, and i'm unable to swallow. i wanted so desperately to fill the void. i thought about spending the time i still had at the mall making purchases, or going home to clean. i couldn't just sit empty - i needed to be filled.

thankfully, i only had to sit for an hour. i finished my coffee and tried to spend the time in silence, meditating. and when finally, my normal appointment time was over, i turned on my car and headed for home just in time for shari to call and say she was on her way up the hill and we could still meet. i was then hopeful that i might not leave the mountain empty handed after all.

another time this week, i was holding joy and peace and fun and a spirit of gratitude when something simple pried my fingers open and what i had was stolen.

i was driving along bowles to begin running way too many errands for one night, thinking to myself how fun the day had been and smiling at a joke i had just made to karl on the phone. i felt something tingle in my chest and i thought, "is this feeling meant to make me more aware? do i need to be present to something? is it the song on the radio i should listen closer to? should i turn the radio off and hear only silence? should i pull over in the catholic church parking lot to wait and 'be present'?"

then, the moment passed and i went along my busy way. i was speeding to another store when the lights came on, a siren, and finally, the jefferson county sheriff pulled out right behind me. i got pulled over for driving 56 mph in a 40. my peace, my joy, my smile was taken out of my hands when i handed over my driver's license and registration - and was given a $58 four-point ticket.

after the officer left, i pulled into clement park and cried. i felt empty when what i wanted was to be full. i didn't know how to be present to that moment of disappointment. i didn't know how i should feel or if God was trying to speak. i didn't know what to do. so, i sat. i sat with the emptiness for what felt like too long before filling the void by calling karl to tell him the news and then calling my dad, a denver policeman, to see if he could take care of the ticket for me.

how do we hold on to empty? how do we sit with anticipation unmet, or disappointment in the loss of what was? how do we remain present in the moments that feel empty? are they worthless moments? doubtful.

in fact, what we do when we're holding on to empty might be the greatest test to who we really are. do we avoid empty? do we sweep it under the rug? do we try to fill it with a square peg when its in the shape of a round hole? or do we sit with emptiness and hold on to it with the same fervency as we hold on to full? should we?


Friday, September 12, 2008

i'm surprised she doesn't call me krista...

sometimes i wonder if lucy only calls me mommy because she doesn't know my first name. because sometimes i think we're merely on a first-name basis.

today, lucy had a pretty big procedure done at the dentist and now she has a silver tooth. there was a lot of drilling and tools and it was all i could do to not cry for her. she was asked to remain still, and how hard that must have been for my 4 year old baby to do! she was brave and tough, but in the end, her emotions got to her (probably a side-effect of the nitrous gas) and she started crying and wailing and they had to shut the door to the room so not to scare all the other little boys and girls in this pediatric dentist's office.

i was convinced that she just needed to get the gas tubes off her nose, and the sunglasses off her eyes and then have a good cry, with mommy holding her and comforting her. i thought if she could just hold on to her tears and erupting emotions for a little bit longer, then mommy could sweep her up and hold her and rock her and soothe her.

i thought wrong.

the dentist had left and it was just the assistant doing some flossing and i asked if she could take off the gas (it just seemed like she was so claustrophobic, just like i was when i delivered her and protested when the nurse tried to put me on oxygen). since the procedure was over, they took off the mask, did some final clean up and lucy was able to sit up. but instead of collapsing into my arms and crying it all out, she immediately dried her eyes and asked if it was time to get a toy from the treasure box. she was further consoled when given her choice of a new toothbrush and some flossies. she chose a bouncy ball from the box and with a promise of chuck e. cheese next, she had all the comfort she needed, and didn't need anything from mommy.

i wanted her to know how it hurt me to see her struggle. i wanted her to know that watching her in pain hurt me and my compassion for her bubbled up in my tears. i wanted to give her love and show her care. i wanted to sweep her up and cuddle her fears and scares and wiggles away. i wanted to lavish, richly, my hugs and kisses. but, like her mom, she has a hard time receiving love. by omission of letting me do these things to her and for her, she pushed me away. by lucy comforting herself with bouncy balls and shiny toothbrushes, with gold coins for bright machines and lots of tickets for cheap prizes, i was left nameless. i wasn't mommy, or in other names: comforter, safe place, open arms, shoulder to cry on, wise one, gentle touch, compassionate one, taker away of pains and fears, of scares and unknowns. i was the babysitter. krista. the one who took her to and from her doctor's appointment and paid for pizza and prizes.

its hard for me to see that in her inability to receive my showering of love, while i feel pain, she's actually the one who is missing out. and like daughter like mother, i too am missing out on all the showering of love when i fail to receive it from those who so desperately want to give it.


Monday, September 8, 2008

A quote will have to do for now...

I am planning on posting a real blog here soon. I'm still trying to get adjusted to this new schedule and attempting to figure out how best to fit in a little blogging action amongst other leisurely activities. Until then, a little quote will have to do.

"The Fall did not diminish our capacity for intimacy; it created a distortion and an agonizing disruption of intimacy. Each of us longs to break through the limitations of our existence into a blissful, unending intimacy with others. Such a dream cannot, however, be fulfilled. So we desensitize our hunger and thirst for the pre-fallen state by preoccupying ourselves with career, family, food, sex. leisure, and other distractions. But no diversion can richly satisfy the surface of the illusions we create in order to cope with life."
~Dr. Harry W. Schaumburg from False Intimacy: Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addiction

p.s. It's a book I'm reading for my sexual disorders class incase you didn't pick up on that.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I couldn't resist...

I've decided not to use this blog as a political platform...but a little humor can't hurt anything, right?

Check out this video

Thursday, September 4, 2008

who wrote the book...

who wrote the book on supposed to's? the one that talks about all the shoulds and should nots? the one that tells me how i ought to live, act, be? i want to know who wrote the book because the author of all those supposed to's has ruled my life and dictated to me how i need to be living. i'd like to meet her because she's keeping me from my freedom. she has me bound, ball and chain. and frankly, i'm sick of her.

everyday i hear her incessant messages: "you should look better than you do. you ought to work on smoothing those rough edges. you are supposed to be seen and not heard. you shouldn't spend that dollar. you ought to plan for your future now. you are supposed to apologize, even if you're not wrong. you should go to the party just because you were invited. you should serve more, even though you don't want to or have any more time. you ought to go to school because you need to learn more. staying at home with your kids isn't enough, you should be doing something else more meaningful. you are supposed to cover up all those feelings so that no one knows how you really feel or what you really think, because if they did...well, they're just not supposed to."

well i'm tired of all the supposed to's. and i'm going to take a whack at this ball and chain with the ax of quiet. instead of listening to every opinion or new insight, tip, trick or self-help book, i'm going to listen to what's within. the Spirit that lives in my heart has all the supposed to's that i need, only he promises me that his yoke is easy, his burden is light, he has the truth, and his truth leads to freedom, not chains. but i haven't heard from him in a long time, maybe ever. instead i listen to the noise - the wind, the earthquakes, the fires...and i can only hear him when i'm quiet because he whispers.

and so, I begin. the axe is poised and ready. 3. 2. 1. shhhhhhhhh...


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Just a quick note...

I'm back at school this morning. I dropped the big girls off this morning for their first day of school and then I drove Krisalyn over to her preschool. I can't believe that my baby is at this stage already. It's bittersweet - I'm excited for her to enter into this stage, but I also know how much school seems to grow them up! I totally cried my whole ride into school this morning. I just can't believe how fast time seems to escape us in this life. And so I am refocusing on what it means to more fully LIVE my life rather than watching it zoom right by. I can't slow down the clock, but I can certainly live into each moment with greater intentionality and presence.

My first class today is Sexual Disorders - a fabulous way to start out the trimester, don't you think so? I'm sure I'll be posting some thoughts from this class once we get going. Such conversations may appeal to even more of our blog readers. I'm remembering how whenever the topic of sex or relationships was at the forefront of our college group discussions group attendance would nearly double.

Before I sign out, I was going to encourage you to download a podcast from Mars Hill Bible Church (Rob Bell's church) from 8/16. It was a message delivered by Brian McClaren focused on the idea of story (you know how much I love that topic). One of these days I'll figure out how to post a link on this page, but until then you're just going to have to search for it yourself.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

oh, if only it were enough...

oh, if only it were enough to see myself through your eyes. i wish i could land on the security that you think i'm great. i long to be confident in the things you tell me are true and believe only that. i would like to see me the way you do. because while i know you witness my faults, you never exploit them. and even though i know you realize my imperfections, you look past them and into me. you see my heart, you know my intentions, and you believe the best in me. oh, if only that were enough to convince my heart to rest.

instead, i focus on the negative words, attitudes and actions from those who don't know me, or understand my intentions or even believe there is a 'best' in me. i agree with them when they make me feel worthless. i trust their opinion that i'm in the wrong. i dwell on their belief that i'm unimportant and what i say doesn't matter.

and so what if i don't matter...to them? why does it hurt so much when they don't care? why do i let their judging stares burrow holes through me? why do i go over and over the comments, shrugs, and cold shoulders like someone combing hair for lice? i don't review the conversations in my head so that i can rid myself of them. i review the conversations looking for a place where i could change what i said or what i did in order to change their view of me. and for what? why do i want their acceptance, anyway?

oh, if only i didn't care! i wish i could pull my heart out and give it a good spanking. i want to tell it to stop! stop yearning for what doesn't matter. stop it! rest, fastly beating heart. slow, quickening pulse. mush into the knowledge that you have a friend who does know you, and believes the best in you, and loves you. because if she didn't, how could she have a 5 hour long phone conversation with you in the middle of the night and hang up ready to do it all over again the next day. and that is enough. it is.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Summer ends...but peace remains

Our brief summer break has come to an end. It only lasted for a little over two weeks once Brian completed summer school and I finished my summer courses. We were able to stop in Portland for a night to visit Sara Houy. Brian and I both really enjoyed the little we were able to see of Portland and hope to go back a few more times before we’re done with this Northwest adventure, considering Portland is only about 3 hours from us.

I have a list of blog topics piling up in my journal, but it’s taken more than a handful of days to get back into the rhythm and structure of our life here. Brian is now back at school attending teacher training and seminars while I’m trying to ease the girls back into our normal routine. We all officially start school the day after Labor Day (including Krisalyn). Though I don’t feel like my mind has had enough of a break from the intense reading load and introspection demanded by my grad school studies, I’m relieved to be getting back into what has become normal life for us as a family.

Despite the fact that rest and relaxation seemed to evade us on our recent California vacation, I was somehow still able to pause and reflect on a few things that occurred to me during those brief moments of living with presence. There was some sense of peace that permeated throughout this entire family gathering. This may not seem that out of the ordinary for others whose sense of belonging is rooted in their family. For most of my life, however, I have been painfully aware of strained relationships and ruptures in connection. Something felt different on this trip. I don’t think it’s something I can really put my finger on…but as I was contemplating this surprising new presence of peace, somewhere out of the deep crevices of my mind came a memory of an excerpt from my favorite Henri Nouwen book, The Inner Voice of Love:

There is a deep hole in your being, like an abyss. You will never succeed in filling that hole, because your needs are inexhaustible. You have to work around it so that gradually the abyss closes. Since the hole is so enormous and your anguish so deep, you will always be tempted to flee from it. There are two extremes to avoid: being completely absorbed in your pain and being distracted by so many things that you stay far away from the wound you want to heal.

This little excerpt has been significant in many ways in my life. I was introduced to Henri Nouwen on my first youth trip. It was spring break and I had only been a self-proclaimed Christian for just under a month and had just made the decision to give up my position as Captain of the varsity cheer squad and to home school my senior year in high school. Instead of helping run cheer tryouts for the incoming students, I wound up in this tiny house with about 50 other kids (whom I hardly knew) in an unheard of town in Southern Colorado called La Veta.

I fell in love with La Veta the second we pulled up to the property and I realized you couldn’t see another house no matter which direction you turned. Aside from the beginnings of life in community with those who would eventually become incredible friends, my introduction to Nouwen was one of my greatest memories of La Veta. Dave had picked up this little green book just prior to the trip. He must have seen that I was hesitant to fully engage with this new group of friends and so he handed me the book and instructed me to read the first excerpt. Up until that point I had been enmeshed in reading the bible, soaking it up like a sponge and trying desperately to make sense of what had been happening in my life. With little understanding of things like prayer, fasting or mediation, the bible was my sole form of connection to God. Reading Nouwen was different, though no less powerful. It was through reading these few sentences that I discovered the ways in which we experience God through one another. As I read Nouwen’s words, I felt as though he must have known my life story because what he said reverberated against my heart in such a way that I was unable to speak for several minutes. My voice was lost somewhere in my throat and camped out there creating the largest lump imaginable.

Now, just over 12 years later, I realize that Nouwen’s writings still speak straight into my heart and soul. My high school years consisted of being nearly swallowed up entirely by the dark abyss of pain and agony. My young adult years swayed toward the opposite approach – never entering into the abyss, but rather living a life of religious and spiritual distraction so as never to face the void that I always knew still existed. But in the recent years I have been circling the abyss and though the journey has proven to be rather difficult, something is changing. The wound is no longer oozing blood. The pain isn’t quite as pervasive. It has become a quieter pain. A pain that, though it still remains and probably always will, it now serves as a reminder of what God has done for me. A pain that gives way to beauty…and peace. That is what I experienced with my family this summer – a peace amidst the pain…a peace that surpasses all understanding.