Friday, June 27, 2008

the good mother

i might have found something to take daily pleasure in: waking up early to go for a walk with my ipod playing the music you sent me.

i know you've run into someones less enthusiastic about your music choices than you are - but i'm not one of them. when i downloaded the CDs you sent me, the titles and artists didn't come up in itunes. so, each song is still a mystery. in fact, i haven't listened to every song on the two discs you sent because i'm too much in love with the mystery of not knowing them all. i don't want to listen to every one, because then they'll be a mystery no longer. so, instead, i start the playlist from the beginning every time and the shuffle hits some songs i've already heard, but then...ahhhh, then...i'll hear a new song - a mystery - and voila' - i find great pleasure in listening to what it has to offer.

but more than just pleasure in your music selection, i feel mothered by it. nearly all the songs have lyrics that speak to a thirsty soul. phrases like, "if you fall i will catch you-i'll be waiting-time after time," and "lets not try to figure out everything at once," and "all that matters is the love you gave away," wrap me in their warmth, reminding me i can trust, i can relax, i know what's important. and more explicitly, lyrics such as, "don’t let your heart get heavy, child; inside you there’s a strength that lies," and "i'd heal your wounds if you bleed," are both convicting and comforting in their maternal message. and the best mother asks her children questions, while giving them her permission - encouragement, even - to figure the answers out on their own:

"do you know where your heart is?
do you know where your love is?
do you know where the end is?
do you think you can see it?
until you get there
go on
go ahead and scream it!"

i hope your practicum group felt loved and mothered through the CD that you gave to each of them. i know i did. i felt it through every selection you made to compile that memorable CD. in a few, moving songs, i am further reassured that you're on the right path. you, sharing your heart through music, is a giving and a receiving act - both of which must be present in a therapeutic relationship, yes?

so, whether or not people receive what you offer - your music, your listening, your pressing, your bearing, your suffering for, and your hoping in - what you have offered is a good mother. you have offered "shelter, [you] give them shelter from the coming storm."

k.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

someday

When Bri and I actually settle somewhere and buy a house we would like to build a writing/dance studio in the backyard. I watched your favorite show last night - So You Think You Can Dance - and I cried during at least two of the performances. I miss dancing. I miss the days when part of my job description was to choreograph meaningful dance productions and I could close the blinds to the youth building and crank up the music and simply dance all by myself. So someday I hope to have a place where I can not only express what my mind is thinking through writing, but a place where I can also express what my heart is feeling through movement. Until then...

~S.

p.s. Listening to that song (Lost by Anouk) that you emailed me about is what prompted this blog entry.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Holding the tension...

Your two posts have paved the way for me to share a bit about what I've been wrestling with as of late. It feels like my mind has wandered to a thousand different places over the past few days. I had my Old Testament class all last week and now I'm preparing to head into a Multicultural class. By the end of this week I will have read something like 1400 pages in about 16 days. But despite the rapid pace necessary for the survival of my summer term in grad school and the information overload my poor mind is currently enduring, I am somehow still able to pinpoint where I'm being stretched and pulled in significant ways.

I have never claimed to be a biblically knowledgeable Christian. In fact I've always felt disadvantaged not to have grown up in the church where I would have inevitably been "forced" to memorize verse after verse. I still painfully remember what it was like to attend my first Bible study (a mere two days after becoming a Christian when I was 16) where I became very aware of just how ignorant. Heck, I didn't even know the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Oh, the shame I felt when it would take me four times as long to find the passage we were discussing (trust me, that is not an exaggeration...oh wait, you may actually remember those days). I made sure to buy some of those cheater tabs at the Christian bookstore before the next week.

Though I'm not sure how or if the importance of the Bible was ever communicated to me, but some how I knew that it was crucial to further my understanding of God. I began reading it as if there was no tomorrow. Now, after living through nearly 10 years of youth work, I recognize how abnormal this behavior actually was. Many youth seemed to rely upon the information passed on to them from others, but I've always been the type to figure things out on my own. I've never been one for simply trusting others (a strength and weakness of mine). My early bible-reading days still fascinate me. I don't think I understood what I was reading, but something in the story of Christ spoke to my heart. I became my own sort of amateur New Testament scholar and was eventually exposed to theologians who began to influence my reading of the text...and likewise, my reading of the text influenced my appreciation or disregard for various theologians. But for some odd reason, my love for the scriptures never carried over into a genuine engagement with the Old Testament. This could have been because of my association of the Old Testament with the right wing fundamentalists that I had major theological issues with. Or it could have been a result of my own fear of how I might reconcile the stories of the Old Testament with the radical, violently loving Jesus Christ (the irony is in the italics).

I have struggled with the Bible for the past few years. Though there have been many reasons for this strain my relationship with the text (which of course mirrors my actual relationship with God), it has primarily stemmed from the innumerable ways in which I have personally witnessed the use of this text as a weapon. Recently I have realized that I have held the text responsible for what people have chosen to do with it. The text itself is not the issue, and it never has been. Sure there are aspects of the text (especially in the Old Testament) that baffle me...and probably always will, but I'm open to the idea that it is our modern interpretation of the text that makes it difficult to ascertain exactly what God is trying to reveal about himself through that particular text.

Believe it or not, I did not intend for this blog to be a sermon about engaging with Scripture, but I needed to work through all of that in order to invite you into how this new perspective of the Bible (and especially the Old Testament) is working to deepen my understanding of God and this life. Ecclesiastes is one of those books in the Bible that has actually become quite popular even outside of Christian circles (thanks to the Byrds and their song "Turn!Turn!Turn!"). And I'm not ashamed to admit that it has been a book that I've never really understood. I'm fairly certain that I've only heard a single sermon on the text in the 13 years I've been a Christian. And now when I think about it, I'm afraid that the sermon was using the text out of context. So you can imagine that I was quite intrigued when my O.T. professor attempted to broaden our contextual and interprative understanding of this fascinating book.

Without going into the plethora of new ideas presented within class and within the extra reading we were required to do, I will attempt to deliver a brief summary (I'm laughing already at this thought considering how long this blog has now become). The genre we assign to this book significantly alters the way in which we read the text. My professor, Tremper Longman III (don't you just love that name?), suggests that we read this book acknowledging the two voices apparently present within the text. The first voice is that of Qoholet who essentially is repeatedly explaining how everything in life is meaningless. Or you could say that he is completely frustrated with the "hassles" he has endured throughout life, despite his intention to live a righteous life. Qoholet's theology is that a righteous person should not have to deal with the same sort of hassles as a wicked person, nor should a wicked person receive the blessings that only the righteous deserve. But reality has embittered Qoholet, because God doesn't seem to abide by Qoholet's own sense of justice.

The second voice in this book is that of the narrator who is apparently speaking to his son. The narrator frames Qoholets entire rant (which goes on chapter after chapter) with a rather simple conclusion. He essentially acknowledges that life under the son is as Qoholet has communicated - it pretty much sucks. Things don't always make sense. Suffering seems to be void of rhyme or reason at times and blessings are even more confusing. While acknowledging the reality of these difficulties, the narrator somehow never lets go of the hope he has of something far greater than this reality. He instructs his son: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad. He is standing in the middle of reality and hope. There are aspects of life that inexcusably suck and yet, there is a God who stands above, beyond, before and after all of this. Can we live in this tension???

Too often we want to let go of one in order to solely possess the other. Many attempt to disengage from this world and they live in some state of naivety and ignorance anticipating what is to come. But true hope dissipates if we live this way. How can you long for something more if you're not painfully aware of why this life sucks? Still others attempt to let go believing that life could be any more than it already is so their motto becomes Carpe Diem! Seize the day! Eat, Drink and be Merry! This distraction may work for a little while, but eventually they'll realize that eating, drinking and all other forms of pleasure can only distract us from the inevitability of death for so long. It seems that the narrator of Ecclesiastes is advising his son to live in the tension...to hold on to hope while living...really living... in reality. And I'm learning that this is the most difficult task of all.

~S

Monday, June 23, 2008

has·sle (b): an annoying or troublesome concern

more annoying than troublesome, to be certain, but i have had my fair share of hassles lately. and i'd like to take this medium to vent my frustrations over these minor misfortunes. in the past few weeks, it seems like one thing after another doesn't go right or as planned and the result is having to find time to do the thing all over again, when in reality, i didn't have time to do it to begin with. enough skirting, here's my lengthy list:

1. i had to get new glasses. problem was, my prescription runs out at the end of the month, so i had to get them asap. i ordered them from costco. i went first to try some on. then karl came with me to confirm or deny my findings. i ordered them, got them back. first - they were crooked and since made of plastic were difficult to straighten. nonetheless, i took them home, only to realize that the left eye was the wrong prescription. took them back, now with just 10 days to spare, changed not only the prescription but had to pick another frame that can be straightened. am waiting for the call so i can go back to pick them up when they're right. hassle.

2. our van wouldn't start. this happens, i'm sure to a lot of people. i was downtown at the zoo and had a friend and her two kids, along with my two kids the first time it didn't start. thankfully, after a few tries - away we went. i wasn't so lucky 5 days later. i was all set up to do some garage saleing. i let the kids stay in their pajamas since they were going to be in the car watching a video while i hopped in and out. after going to the bank and getting gas in the car, the van wouldn't start at the pump. thankfully, i put it in neutral and coasted out of the stall only to realize i had forgotten my cell phone at home and oh, by the way, my kids didn't have their shoes on or with us. hassle.

3. i went to buy some new running shoes. tried on two pair and had a hard time deciding which was the right one. turns out i bought the wrong one. too small. went to take them back, and now the pair that i need isn't in stock. has to be ordered. when they get in, it will be trip 3 to the running store to get some new shoes. hassle.

4. we had a fun bike ride on saturday down to bear creek lake park with the kids. jumped into the lake with all my clothes on and had a chilly ride back - only that wasn't the hassle. the hassle was when i was looking back at karl and he yelled "watch out" just in time for me to see i was about to run into the fence. so, i slammed on the breaks and shot out over the front of the handle bars and landed in the dirt. i got a large bruise on my knee - minor hassle. but i messed up the front of my bike. so, tonight i had to find a way to fit my busted bike, into a borrowed car, wearing my holey running shoes and broken glasses, in order to get to the bike store and get it fixed. hassles.

so, tonight, when i was changing peter's diaper and he grabbed my white gold bee necklace and the chain snapped, i thought "hassles. hmmm? i wonder what those are all about."

k.

unfamiliar

"the unfamiliar becomes familiar simply by the doing of it." - dr. laura.

it's 6:00 a.m. and i'm actually awake! can you believe it? no, really - 6:00 AM! for a myriad of reasons, i think waking up in the morning is my ticket...my ticket to freedom, to breaking chains, to feeling better about the whole day - each and every day. but, waking up any day before 9:00 a.m. is unfamiliar.

my favorite question - that i relate to everything, too often - is, "which comes first, the chicken or the egg?" i've wrestled with this concept over and over and there isn't an answer, of course, but nonetheless, i wrestle. i want to know which comes first. i want to know the proper progression and process by which we achieve a result, an outcome, a favorable ending...so, just show me where to start already!

and dr. laura is here to lend a hand. which comes first?

the doing of it.

period.

whatever you want to accomplish or achieve, just begin it. start somewhere. do it. and the repeated doing of it will cause a shift. the shift will be from doing something that is unfamiliar to doing something that comes almost naturally (but you will know better - you will know that it came from days upon days of doing something unnaturally, not because you felt like it or wanted to, but, instead, because you wanted the end result of familiarity so badly).

"a year from now, you will have wished you started today."

well, i started today with the unfamiliar task of getting up with the sun. let's see in a year from now what that translates into. will i actually enjoy getting up before anyone to spend time alone, in a quiet house? will i have achieved greater successes with my many projects? will i have made space for peace? will i have become a better mother, because i've become a better me? only time will tell - but i'm starting, i'm beginning with the unfamiliar and i've brought hope along with me. its tucked into my tennis shoes when i walk the dog. its poured out of my shampoo bottle when i take a warm shower. its sprinkled on my cheeks with the stroke of a brush. its the ink that spells each word in my journal. its in the quiet breath i breathe, when mine is the only one i can hear. i'm taking it with me - hope - this day, and every day, in an attempt to transform what is strange and new, difficult and unwanted, awkward and clumsy, into the awesome and comfortable, easy and desirable, graceful and natural.

hope, take me to the familiar, this day, tomorrow, and the next.

k.

Monday, June 16, 2008

It takes a lifetime

I finished my first day of Old Testament! Before I hit the books to study some more, I thought I'd share just one of the many insights I brought home from the class today. I've been intrigued by many interesting thoughts presented both in my readings for the class and the actual lecture. But I am ending the day with one particular idea - which is typical thus far of my MHGS experience. My brain is so overloaded with new discoveries and challenges and I seem to only be capable of holding onto the ideas that speak to my heart in the moment.

Today we discussed the hermeneutical challenge of reading Scripture (which basically boils down to wrestling with how we interpret Scripture) and we began to delve into the various genres presented throughout the Old Testament. Based upon the similarities between Deuteronomy and a couple of Ancient Near Eastern treaties that were recovered, we explored the covenental theology evident from essentially the onset of the Old Testament and on through the New Testament. That is my summary of nearly 6 hours of lecture. And out of all of that fascinating stuff, I came away with one simple thought about Abraham after examining the implications of God's covenental relationship with him.

We discussed the ways in which God would reaffirm his covenant with Abraham after each time that Abraham (or Abram at the time) apparently screwed things up or took matters into his own hands. There were moments throughout his journey where he seemed to get it and he allowed God to do his thing. There were plenty of other moments where Abraham attempted to take matters into his own hands (selling out his wife for his own protection and taking his servant to conceive a descendant are great examples of such faithless moments). But ultimately it wasn't until much later in his life that he finally totally GOT IT (or as close as it is humanly possible to totally GET IT) at least for a moment. This moment came when he placed his beloved son upon the alter. I still struggle to comprehend this entire story - and this particular scene most especially - but this notion of how long it takes to develop and learn faithfulness stirred me in a new way today!

I find comfort in knowing that father Abraham struggled to learn faithfulness throughout most of his life. He had moments of glory and moments of huge disappointment - and eventually his faith was able to move mountains (there is more symbolism to this statement than I have time to elaborate upon at the moment). His life-long struggle puts my heart at ease...and simultaneously stirs it up. I find it quite daunting to consider that this wrestling of my soul may last for some time. So...I'm trying to hold this ambivalence (imagine that) as I dig deeper into the mysteries of this Bible of ours.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Some thoughts...

I'll be in my Old Testament class from 10-6 pm everyday for the next week. I don't think there will be much blog writing taking place during that time, so I thought I'd share a few thoughts tonight before heading to bed.

I noticed that you weren't too fond of my movie recommendation and couldn't help but draw a connection between our differences in movie preferences and our experiences in life. I know that I am particularly (and maybe overly so) drawn to rather tragic, depressing, philosophical or dramatic movies. It's not that I can't enjoy a light-hearted, romantic commedy like the average woman. It's just that the cynic in me always gets in the way of being thoroughly entertained by unrealistic snapshots of life and relationships. Obviously I am far from an optimist (I can't go through life wilfully being blind). Many would probably falsely accuse me of being a pessimist. Some have refered to me as a disappointed idealist - someone whose dreams have beem shattered. And though I think that may have been the appropriate title for a period of my life, I now believe I am a hopeful realist.

I have seen too much of life to claim ignorance to the pain and suffering evident every which way I look. And yet, I have seen too much of life to claim ignorance to the beauty and glory evident every which way I look. They go hand in hand. What a beautiful moment it was for me to hold Bailey's hand the other day as we drove away crying after her last day of kindergarten. They were tears of joy mixed with tears of deep sorrow. She had completed an entire year of school and had learned so much. I was proud of her. She was proud of herself. And yet, the tears of accomplishment were accompanied by tears of loss and heartache. She had grown incredibly close to her teacher and her teacher's daughter who worked in the class on a daily basis. I would imagine that most children are quite fond of their kindergarten teachers, but the bond Bailey shared with these remarkable women was unique. Her teacher suffered the loss of her husband to a sudden heart attack at the beginning of the school year. As you know, he had been assiting in the classroom up until that unforgetable day as well. Experiencing such a loss while being surrounded by incredibly delightful and joyful children like our Beebers created a bond that was deeply felt by both the children and these women. It was the thought of not seeing them on a daily basis that spilled through Bailey's tears.

The sorrow in my tears were connected to the beauty of my daughter's experience of the deep and intertwined connection between love and pain. They go hand in hand. To love deeply means that there exists the possibility of great suffering. One cannot exist without the other. It was a great mystery - one that I cannot claim to fully understand, though I have lived it and will realize it again and again. But even as I type these words, I recognize that there is no cynicism in my heart towards this reality, but rather a deep appreciation for the beauty found in both the love and the suffering.

Have you heard Brendan James song "All I Can See"? He sings the song written on my heart:

I want to walk through this doorway
I want to open my mind
I want to pledge my allegiance to all I can find.
I want a car that will crash through
the barriers to a road no one knows.
I want to feel less control,
want to bend and I want to land far from home.

The revolution of the earth around the sun
is the perfect lesson of how it should be.
So if i cannot learn to journey and return,
to never rest till I've seen all I can see...

I want to learn a completely new language,
one I don't understand.
I want to help someone lost,
someone helpless, with the strength of my hand.
I want to come to the base of a statue
built before they counted the years,
and there i'll fall with my face in my hands
and cry and feel their hope in my tears.

The revolution of the earth around the sun
is the perfect lesson of how it should be.
So if I cannot learn, to journey and return,
to never rest till I've seen all I can see...

Train rides and pastures colliding...
colors and customs i've never seen...
I know I, yes I know I,
I know I will stumble but time is precious my friend.
Those who journey can easily understand,
the more they see the more they'll learn,
the more that they will be.

So this I swear to you,
and this I swear to me,
I'll never rest till I've seen all I can see.
No, I'll never rest till I've seen all i can see.
I want to know where the stength of a person lies,
in their past or their future.
Is it in the way that they hurt or they
love themselves or is it all an illusion?
I want to crawl from this skin that i'm painted in...
Body, please let it give.
I want to find the creator of all good things
and ask what it means to live

Until next time...
~S

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

facebook

my participation in facebook might be taking me further from the things that i want. the transformation i desire is asking me to change my current ways and practice being vulnerable, taking chances, risking...all of which are available on facebook with every friend request, message sent, or picture posted. with a click here and a comment there i'm offering myself for someone else to either accept or reject me - not just my screen name - with one push of a button! i'm amazed at how easy our culture makes it for me to feel less-than.

i send a 'friend request' out into the void and i hold my breath, waiting and hoping that it will be accepted - and thickening my skin for the times that it isn't. but my dilemma is that i already have thick skin - that's what i'm trying to alter, work on, fix in me, transform - and yet i'm inviting more of the sameness i don't want with every request sent. why?

does peeking in on every one's lives bring me intimacy? truth? inner transformation? i don't even have to ask the question, because i know the answer already. does it have eternal value? possibly. but i'm not confused about what it has brought already: small, yet present anxiety, a temporary fill or depletion from my self-esteem, and ultimately it has taken my time away from other endeavors that have a far richer return on my investment.

so, with a new laptop that sits on my kitchen table with 24-7 access, i'm having to ask myself the tough questions - and preparing to act on the answers i probably already knew.

k.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Movie Recommendation


I just watched The Painted Veil the other night and I can't stop thinking about it. I know we often have different taste in movies, but this is one that I think you'll like (you may have actually already watched it because I think it's been out for a little while). Aside from the breathtaking cinematography and the easy-to-love Edward Norton, the story is worth recommending in and of itself. It's a simple, and slightly predictable, story and yet there was something intriguing about it. I can't quite put my finger on it yet...but I'm mulling it over. It's about love - which is always easy bait for me...especially when there is a really intense and passionate scene - and this movie doesn't disappoint in that area. It was a tasteful love scene - the kind where you're left wanting more (the true test of whether or not a movie is able to stir your own deep longings and desires), not feeling like you need to go confess. Ultimately the story explores the veil of our perceptions and how certain things remain hidden from us until we do the work necessary to lift the veil. Watch it (if you haven't already) and let me know your thoughts!
~S

Friday, June 6, 2008

Anxiety Issues

Earlier today Brian had to undergo a minor surgery to have some lypomas removed. Lypomas are essentially little tumors that primarily consist of benign fat tissue and they are generally hereditary. They're not much of a health scare, but they can cause irritation and minor pain - which is why he decided to have a few removed.

When we first arrived at the hospital I was immediately aware of my heightened level of anxiety and discomfort. I concluded that the anxiety was associated with something deeper and more existential than the mere fear for Brian and his minor surgery. As I sat waiting for him to complete his initial check-in procedure I looked around the near-empty waiting room that had been packed with broken and hurting people a couple of months previously when Krisalyn had an allergic reaction to her medication. The memory of that night caused my stomach to tighten up. (One of the lasting effects of my Mars Hill Practicum experience has been the development of an acute awareness of what is going on for me on an internal level throughout my daily happenings and relational interactions). So as I began mentally pressing myself to further examine this noticeable anxiety, I began to ask the question - "What is it, Shauna? What is so upsetting about this place?"

I've never been one to particularly enjoy hospitals. I initially thought my discomfort could be easily explained by the natural associations of painful experiences with hospital visits. Memories of stitches in my knee and images of my baby sister in the hospital bed at the age of five after falling from our second story bedroom window onto the driveway and fracturing her skull were surprisingly easy to access. I attempted to counter such unpleasant memories with visualizing the remarkable deliveries of all three of my beautiful baby girls. I said to myself, "See...hospitals aren't just about pain or death - they're about life and healing, too." But the anxiety did not fade...maybe it's because I remembered the pain of labor.

I chuckled at the thought of my former career plan c. If MHGS hadn't worked out I was actually considering becoming a teacher (plan b) and nursing (plan c). As anxiety-ridden as I was in that moment, I realized that a path in nursing might have inevitably concluded with a stress-induced heart attack. God must have known what he was doing when he cleared the way for me to attend Mars Hill.

This short diversion in my though process actually helped me to land on the answer to my prodding question. In thinking about my bad habit of always needing well-developed plans and then a back-up plan...and then a back-up plan for the back-up plan, I was reminded of my unending efforts in maintaining some sense of control in my life. The hospital had been a reminder to me that, though there are many little things in life that I fight to gain control over, the larger more unnerving realities of life and death, pain and healing, seem to lie somewhere outside of my realm of control. Sure, we have the power to sabatoge our lives, contribute to our deaths, perpetuate our pain and prevent our own healing - but we do not have ultimate control. And that scares me to death (pun intended).

Hospitals, illness or injury are reminders of human fragility and vulnerability. The brokenness and woundedness we find in such medical facilities cannot be ignored. Though I may have escaped a career path in nursing that would have brought enormous attention to our physical fragility on a near daily-basis, I pondered the irony of entering into the realm of psychotherapy where internal, often hidden, brokenness and woundedness are exposed and experienced. What will I do with this reality - with this constant reminder of our lack of control? How can I learn to accept the human predicament of not being masters of our own ultimate destiny? How does the capacity to hold my own anxiety of such a lack of control, not to mention the anxiety of others, begin to grow and develop? My practicum leader spoke to my questions about anxiety in one of my reflective papers. In her opinion, actually allowing ourselves to deeply feel and experience our fears is what helps us. And when we can get our fears into someone else who has a sense of their own fears, not an "intellectual" understanding of their own fears, but a "felt" understanding - that is when we learn to bear our fears together.

I feel so fortunate to have met a handful (if that) of people who seem to have a sense of their own fear and anxiety, people whom I have been able to "get into" if even for mere moments. I can only pray that my willingness to further "feel" and acknowledge my own anxieties will somehow create space within me for others to get into.

~S

p.s. Brian survived his surgery. We'll get his lab results back soon.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

One more

And yet another little article about my school -

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/365217_faith31.html

Monday, June 2, 2008

Check this out

I'm so proud to be a part of my school. Check out this recent article to find out why...

http://belltownmessenger.com/062008/062008-044-feature.html