Tuesday, November 3, 2009

do you see me?

when you look at me, what do you see? do you see me for more than what meets the eye, or the ear? do you see more than what labels me, defines me, categorizes me? do you see more than what i can do into who i am? were you to cast out every description of me, what would be your experience of me?

do you see me for more than appearances? a woman, 31, stylish, curly hair, overweight?

do you see me for more than what i say?...something funny, something smart, something wise...articulate, persuasive, emotive?

do you see me more than a label?...female, mother, wife, daughter, middle class, educated, white, american?

do you see me for more than what i can do?...teach, lead, speak, create, entertain, help, provide?

take all these words away from what you see when you see me and what's left?

do you have eyes to see a heart that longs to be embraced and understood? a will that searches for more and is not settled? brokenness from being overlooked and unchosen? invisible, even after all peacock attempts to be noticed? rejection for being too much and not enough at the same time? shame for being born the weaker sex? a mind trapped in analytic activity, trying to make sense of the world by not using senses? feelings that are rarely worn because they are understood as weakness? dreams that long to receive comfort, care, concern? frustration in my consenting to be accepted by what labels me, objectified over and over again? a guilty conscience for the mothering i've failed to do? one who doesn't experience peace and rest because i don't know what i see in myself?

past all the descriptions of what you see and what you hear and what you watch, can you see me?...if so, what is it you see?

k.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do...

I Corinthians 10:31 - So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

i'm reading a prayer book by Richard Foster and stalled in the chapter entitled "praying the ordinary." i stopped reading because i'm learning to pay attention to my visceral responses - and my current response is tears. here, the book is talking about praying while doing ordinary things, cooking, cleaning, working, reading, etc...i immediately interpreted this to be "do things well" - all things, any things, do them well. but i'm stalled because i don't think that's what he nor the Bible is saying. what is communicated in I Corinthians 10:31 is to do all things, great or small - not just well - but to the glory of God. so, now i'm stumped.

what does it mean to work to the glory of God? and how is this different than doing something well?

by nature, i'm a perfectionist. so, i'm thinking, the things that i choose to do are nearly always done well. i thought specifically about how i clean the bathrooms. i challenge anyone to a bathroom-cleaning-contest with me. i am meticulous. my mom always wondered why i didn't clean my bathrooms more often. the answer was because i only had energy to clean them the way i clean them every so often. the thought here is that i'm doing whatever it is i do well, but not giving God the glory. why?

i only do the things i can do well. if i can't do something well, i don't do it at all. i leave no room for God in what i choose to do. i don't approach something and think, "hey, i'm not very good at this, but i'm going to give it my best shot and hope to give glory to God while doing it." instead, i think, "if i can't do it well from the get-go, then i'm not going to even try." where is the leaning on God? there isn't any.

saying things should be done well isn't the way to invite God into things - it's the way to invite your own self-sufficiency. so, i can't interpret this verse anymore to believe that i should work well. instead, i have to interpret this verse as working with a willingness to include God - not show off for him how great i already am and don't really need his help anyway. to do things for the glory of God is to invite him into the space of my work and ask him to participate. the "doing to the glory of God" is doing in such a way as to extend an invitation.

i'm too busy doing things well that there is no space, no room for God to be included - either as a helper or as participant. i keep him in the audience to watch as i perform, on my own, all the great things i do well. but that is not giving him glory. but invitation is. space is. purposely doing things that are difficult and a challenge is.

here's to throwing out the charge to doing things well...

k.

Monday, October 26, 2009

a new assignment

we are at that time in the semester where self-evaluation is important. so, for practicum we had to write a one page experiential report. after some time spent in contemplation we were to answer some questions - what are some places in your soul that are good/beautiful/glorious? what are some places in your soul where there is sin and depravity? what do you feel could be God's calling for your life/soul?

this is what followed my time of meditation:

As I sat in meditation, I asked God for a visual of my soul. I imagined the likeness of a farm house. I noticed many characteristics about this house that gave me a nice metaphor for both the good and glorious in my soul as well as the depravity and blindness, and even a vision for its purpose.

Some of the descriptions of this house that tell of its beauty are that it is light and bright, warm and inviting. There is lemonade and sweet tea at the ready. The windows are original, their texture and character are beautiful. There is a large oak tree outside that provides shade and comfort and rest on the soft grass. The flower beds outside are small, but provide a simple exterior beauty. There are several places to rest – the couch with soft pillows and thick blankets, and the porch swing in the front that rocks and is right where the warm sun pours in. There is an invitation for nourishment, second helpings – plenty to go around. And the sounds ring of laughter and stories.

Also, there are plenty of things that could be fixed in this house that are very representative of the depravity of my soul. Though the windows have character, they let a lot of cold air in. There is always a subtle noise: wind blowing, stairs creaking, shingles flapping. It also seems unrealized just how hard it is to keep up this farm. While people are invited and encouraged to visit, many don’t stay long. The guest room seems to always be ready and never used.

The calling for this house doesn’t seem important. There are a lot of children around. It seems to always be available and open to others. And there are many places for people visiting to find rest. Whether they will come and stay remains to be seen.

k.

new experience with prayer

this was our reading week - a chance to catch up on all that's going to be due in the coming weeks as we round out the first semester. hard to believe i've already been in school 8 weeks!

a book that i finished this week is called Can You Hear Me by Brad Jersak. at first i thought perhaps the professor was using this book as a "what-not-to-do". some of the anecdotes of episodes with this kind of imaginative prayer seemed outlandish and hard to believe. but the more i read and the less ambivalent i became, i realized that what i wanted was exactly what he was talking about - a way to experience God new in prayer - a way to focus and be captured by him through prayer.

the premise of the book is to use our imaginations in order to visualize various ways to listen through prayer. the entire book is all about listening and hearing God's voice. at the back of the book there is a cheat sheet of sorts as to what questions to ask God, so after completing the book i tried one exercise. this is how it happened and what i gained from the experience.

the first idea is to go to a "meeting place" in your mind where you regularly visit with God. this could be a biblical location (like by a stream as in Psalm 23) or just a familiar place where you would like to be with God. my "meeting place" has been the same for a while - i imagine Jesus sitting in the heavens on lots of clouds on a giant throne. i picture him wearing a very comfortable robe (down, perhaps? it's my favorite) and i have a special place reserved for me on his lap. so, that's where i went. there were two questions i was supposed to ask him there and listen for the answers.

the first question was, "Jesus, how do you see me?" i heard a simple answer, like when a kid is playing hide-and-seek, "I see you."

the second question wasn't as easy. the question was, "How do you feel about me?"

i couldn't bring my face to look into his eyes. i was so afraid of what he would or wouldn't say. i had lots of fears. three in particular. one - i was afraid that there would be a "but" at the end of what he said - like, "i feel like you're a lovely woman, but..." with something that i need to work on. the second fear was that i wouldn't believe him. i was afraid that he would have some trite answer that i could see right through - you know the kind, like, "ahhhh - you're great!" hardly believable. then the third was the hardest for me to get over. i was afraid that i'd be disappointed in his answer - that he couldn't come up with something good enough for me to walk away happy that i had chosen to listen - that somehow, it wouldn't be "enough" for me.

i wrestled in tears with this last question for a long time. i couldn't look at his face - i was so afraid of his answer. then, almost as an interruption into my fear, i heard him say, "I want you." and that's how he felt about me. i couldn't argue it. there was no "but". i believed him completely. and it didn't leave me disappointed. he had the perfect way out of all my fears. he wants me! he really wants me!

it was a powerful moment and a beautiful voice in my ears. i'm so glad i kept on with a book that i thought was too over the top. i'm so glad i dared practice what the author encouraged. i'm so glad God penetrated through my loud fears with a simple, heart-felt truth. i'm so glad that for once in a long time, i listened to him speak.

k.

Friday, October 9, 2009

hiatus

if any of you are wondering where i've gone - it's to the depths of pages and pages of readings in books and articles trying desperately to crawl out and get on top of things...

between papers due, group projects, classes, practicum and weekly assignments - i'm in over my head - so the only writing i've been doing lately is homework.

i'd like to say that i've processed all this information and can jot it down in this blog format - but alas, i have not. i'm still just on the perimeter of understanding.

maybe once i've processed much, i will have much more to say. but until then, i bid my readers adieu for a while.

until we meet again.

krista.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

why do we settle?

some of the songs that have stirred me lately seem to have a recurring theme. the constant message is that we think we have it all, but we're really just settling for only what we've experienced personally. here are some lyrics as examples:

"I want a crumb, but you are a feast
I want a song, but you are a symphony
I want a star, but you are a galaxy."

"What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?"

i'm not sure why these lyrics from separate songs have gripped me at the same time, at this time, but i'm learning to listen to my visceral responses to things - all things, even music.

maybe i've settled too long and its being brought to my attention that there is more. maybe i've doubted that there was anything better than what i already have. maybe, like the new testament story, i believe, but there is still much unbelief. have i settled with what i know, because i don't believe i can't learn anymore? have i settled for unintimate relationships because i don't believe there's anyone who wants anything else from me? have i settled for a distant relationship with God because I don't believe he wants anything more from me but my obedience? have i settled for happiness because I don't believe in joy?

what comes first - the experience of more understanding, intimate relationships, the presence of God and joy - or the belief that they do indeed exist and are meant for me?

how long will i stand on the shores of this life's vast ocean?

k.

Friday, September 4, 2009

i made it successfully through my first week of grad school.

after 3 full days of orientation and then sending Lucy off to her first day of school today, i'm trying to organize some thoughts of this transition - but suffice it to say, there will be some posts in the future on such things i've learned as: solidarity and connectedness - the theme of what i took from this week.

and it may surprise some to note that a part of my first week of classes there were lengthy discussions on disney's the lion king, as well as spiderman and batman - in class, not just peer conversation...crazy, i know!

mars hill, here we go!

k.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

i'm flying solo

to echo my friend and kindred spirit, there is, indeed a season for everything and now is the time for me to fly solo. mama bird pushed me out of the nest and now i'm supposed to fly...not sure how i'm going to do it without you, but alas, i must.

so, here's to me learning to find my own voice.

k.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

To everything there is a season...

And right now I believe it is time for me to bid adieu to this blog. I have wrestled, argued, exposed and implored many a times in this space, but now that you, Krista, have joined me up here in the great northwest I'm not sure we collectively need this space to exchange our ideas, wrestlings and dreams in this particular way. I have decided to continue personally blogging on TheJourneyUnknown so that this space can become your playground for exploring all that you encounter in the next few years of your own journey through Mars Hill Graduate School.

Goodbye No Longer Mute...Thanks for giving me a voice.

~S.

p.s. I'll remain your most avid reader!!! Can't wait.

Monday, August 3, 2009

when you find yourself lost...

...you're supposed to stay where you are. the temptation to wander and hope to find the right path is great, however, it makes it more difficult for anyone to find you if you are wandering. if you stay put, wait, be patient, and endure, that's when someone can find you.

i'm wondering if God works the same way. when we find ourselves lost in a world that doesn't make sense, in a day of chaos or a moment of tragedy, we run. we wander searching every direction for the right path. and yet, to be still, in the pain and suffering, loss and confusion, is to be found. to remain is the best solution - but how hard that is! wouldn't it be better if i just tried this way? wouldn't i be able to save myself if i went that way? staying put can't be the best course...it can't be - all reason betrays me. but that is the best way - against reason it is the best way to stay and remain in the loss, rather than run - and risk being lost forever.

this remaining is taxing. but i'm trying.

k.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

working on receiving His love...

these lyrics help...

How He Loves Us
sung by David Crowder Band

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

k.

Monday, July 27, 2009

getting ready

i started reading The Healing Path thinking it was required reading for one of my first graduate school classes. i was determined not to read one word of something that wasn't required because i'm most afraid of not being able to keep up with the work at Mars Hill and believed i needed a jump start. turns out, the book is not required reading, and yet, i have no regrets for starting it now.

one phrase that jumped out at me that has kept me curious since last week is this: "We know from pain what we most deeply desire." in a sense, if i can identify my greatest pain, i will have an inkling of my greatest desire. who knew? who knew that going back to what hurts us most can unlock the passion behind what we want most.

i've felt locked up for a long time. without hopes and dreams and desires. and until lately, i didn't know why. i've recently discovered it's because my hurts have been locked up too. i've shoved them under the rug and picked myself up and dusted myself off and ignored the things that have hurt me most and have thus ignored the spark to light what i desire most.

a lot of the book is about hope and faith and the foundation of those truths being rooted in our stories. allender urges us to remember, remember, remember...both the hurts and the redemptions. so, i made a list. admittedly the hurts were more than the redemptions, but i wept in writing both lists. why are we so quick to forget? if we were to pause long enough in our hurts and our redemptions, would we have more of a grip on our story and therefore have more hope in co-authoring our future?

we forget because it hurts. but another quote from the book encourages me to acknowledge the hurt: "deserts can be restored with rain; faces redeemed with tears." and another passage that i'm still working with, "joy is the taste of the presence of God as he surprises us with his gracious love."

until next time - hopefully sooner than this time has been...

k.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

what i've been doing

while i've been out of sight, dear blog, you have not been out of mind. i've just had my hands in just a few things getting ready to move to seattle. i thought i'd make a long...long list of everything we've been doing to our house in order to get ready to move. i think by putting it down in a list, somehow, i'll feel more satisfied for the state of sheer chaos we've been in for the last 2 months. it all started when we got back from our awesome family vacation to disney world at the end of april. the following describes may and june.

get ready for garage sale.
have garage sale (madness!)
gut the backyard
shovel 10 tons of new rock
many cubic feet of new dirt
lay down sod
plant shrubs and flowers
add mulch
fix back fence
install blinds in every window
fix toilets
repaint bath/laundry room
patch holes
install new microwave
replace outside lamps
buy new doormat and hanging plant
replace indoor lights
fix broken sprinkler pipe
install new sprinklers in the backyard for the new sod
paint back steps
replace several door knobs
change light switches and outlet covers
weed eat
edge/trim/hedge trees and bushes
pack and move into storage unit first
take remaining items to move into parent's basement
have another garage sale
fixed any broken shingles
moved 10,000 comic books

from this list, you'd think we lived in a broken-down-shanty-shack. but, i can assure you that these were all fixes that have needed to be done - but we needed to sell half our belongings at two garage sales before we could have money to make our house look beautiful, right before moving out of it.

hmmm...? strange. but true.

k.

Monday, June 15, 2009

FYI



Just thought I'd mention that Dwight Friesen, one of the professors at MHGS just published his first book. You can check it out here!

Faith as small as a mustard seed

I'm attempting to focus on sticking with my feelings lately as opposed to retreating to my familiar strategy of thinking. So I'll leave you with some thoughts by Roger Housden from "Ten Poems to Change Your Life" on Mary Oliver's poem "The Journey" (I posted it here before) that have left me tingling with sensation all over:

"Of course, conventional wisdom will call you mad enough for even thinking of such an adventure - all the more so when you start out in the middle of the night. Yet the true journey of your life requires a kind of madness. After all, from the standpoint of your old life, you may be throwing everything away for nothing. You do not even know what you are headed toward. Yet the first step can only ever be taken in darkness. You cannot know where it will take you. You cannot plan for this sort of journey because the entire undertaking relies on the unreasonableness of faith. Faith is unreasonable because it rests on no tangible evidence. It is beyond even belief. The person of faith does not expect everything to turn out the way they want it to; they do not expect some higher power to pick them up when they fall. Their faith is beyond belief and even beyond hope. It is a faith that comes from gnosis - the knowing that has no need of information."

Might I ask what your visceral response is to his thoughts on faith? Stick with the feelings...not your thoughts.

~S.

Monday, June 8, 2009

pictures and prose no. 1


Hands

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,

A mind searching for meaning, then
looking to find truth and understanding.

Fingers follow each sentence, start to end,
his hands flip the page at the corners bend.

Words 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 take a thousand words or more
tell me why your hands are wounded and torn.

His lips part to speak the undeniable story,
a voice rings strong, a tale of truth and beauty:

"If I could choose - not beams, wood or stone...
I would use my hands to make a house into a home.”

Krista Fleming 1996
picture, cir. aug. 2007

Monday, June 1, 2009

filling up the spaces

lauren, i was thinking of your art from the last bring me to life, the one where you painted an entire canvas during one song and they had a video strung from above you so we could see your strokes. that was an amazing addition to the bring me to life series.

the thing that i was focusing on was the fact that you held us captivated and curious as to what you were creating because you didn't start with the object, but you started painting around it. by filling in the other, your object was made obvious.

i've been thinking about the idea of how we begin to create things; things like change, movement, transformation, etc... for anything i've tackled, i've started by outlining the object and then filling in the other. for instance, i've said, i'm going to be a runner. so, i'm going to go out and buy some running shoes and good clothing and then i'm going to get a treadmill and set a schedule, and then...oh, by-the-way, i'm going to start running. it seems backwards somehow. like i'm trying to force things to motivate me, instead of the things coming out of my motivation.

so, to use the illustration of lauren's process of creating the beautiful dancer for the bring me to life performance, this is what becoming a runner would look like: go out and run once, then do it again, then maybe your shoes wear out, so you get new ones, and then maybe you want to go further, so you check out a book, etc...

i guess i just want to stop with the outlining and start by just filling up the spaces. instead of waiting until everything is perfectly clear, maybe just moving into the blank with something...anything.

i just so desperately want to take on some shape or form other than what i represent today and i'm trying to do that by outlining what i should be instead of filling up my moments with meaning.

so, i guess nike had something with their just do it slogan...

k.

Muchness

I have just a few minutes before I need to finish an assignment and head off to class for the day so I thought I'd attempt to briefly mention all of the thoughts that have contributed to the "muchness" of life right now. I only have about another month of this crazy summer schedule before I can rest and prepare for my final year! Considering that I haven't had the time to sift through all that's in my head and create a cohesive post, a little list action will have to do for now:

1. I've been attempting to read a book by Rolheiser titled, "The Holy Longing: Guidelines for a Christian Spirituality". I haven't made it very far for two reasons. First, there is so much depth to the content and I can only hold so much at a time. I find myself mulling over the metaphors and peering through them to find new meaning and understanding in various areas of my life. And second, I'm reading it in my spare time - which is extremely limited in this season! Anyway, a couple of ideas from the book have really struck me and so I thought I'd attempt to summaries one concept for now and return to a discussion about this book at a later point. I knew I would love this book when I first read the dedication to Henri Nouwen which referred to him as our generation's Kierkegaard. Seriously - the two thinkers who have toyed with and nurtured my heart since my conversion just over 13 years ago - I was enamored before I even began the book.

In the opening chapter, Rolheiser addresses the lifeblood of our soul - the creative energy, fire, desire and power that is the force of life. He goes on to reveal that many people are divided because of how they utilize this life force. Janis Joplin, a rock star who died from a drug overdose in her twenties, is the first example he offers to illustrates his point. Janis Joplin willed many things. Her desire was for the muchness of life - all that there was to offer. And she became exhausted as a result of expending all of her resources on fulfilling all of her erotic desires. Mother Teresa exhibits the opposite form of spirituality. She collected all of her energy, fire, creative potential and funneled it toward one thing - to serve the poor in an effort to advance God's kingdom on earth. Princess Diana, on the other-hand, according to Rolheiser enjoined both the erotic and the spiritual. He writes:

"Spirituality is about how we channel our eros. In Princess Diana's attempts to do this, we see something most of us can identify with, a tremendous complexity, a painful struggle for choice and commitment, and an oh-so-human combination of sins and virtues. Spirituality is what we do with the spirit that is within us. So, for Princess Diana, her spirituality was both the commitment to the poor and the Mediterranean vacations...and all the pain and questions in between. Hers, as we can see, was a missed road. She went neither fully the route of Mother Teresa nor of Janis Joplini. She chose some things that left her more integrated in body and soul and others which tore at her body and soul. Such is spirituality. It is about integration and disintegration, about making the choices that Princess Diana had to make and living with what that does to us...Spirituality is about what we do with the fire inside of us, how we channel our eros" (p. 11).

This definition of spirituality has given me much food for thought lately. I've been wrestling with what it means to move towards integration. I'm asking myself questions like, "How am I currently channelling my own eros?" and "Where do I hope to channel my eros?". I'm examining the elements of the erotic and the spiritual in my own life. I'm gaining new insight with regard to Kierkegaards concept that to be pure in heart is to will one thing. What is the cost of willing one thing? What is the cost of willing many things?

This morning, as I was folding a laundry basket of clothes I saw an interview with Prince Harry on the Today show. Many have commented on how much his character seems to resemble his mothers. Matt Lauer asked him about the "muchness" of his life - his life as a soldier, his royal experiences adorned with tremendous wealth, and his dedication to living a charitable life - and how he is able to live as one person in so many different capacities. Prince Harry responded stating that he often feels as though there are three people living inside of him. Are we all just wrestling for some sort of integration in our lives?

2. My third round of praciticum is stirring things up quite a bit in my life. It is amazing how much you can learn about yourself when you explore with others how your presence affects them and how their presence affects you. My most recent discovery (though it may just be a sort of re-discovery) is that who I am with others is typically determined by my own perception of the needs of others. I either become the person in whom I think I must be in order to serve a need or if I can't assess a need of some sort then I retreat out of fear. If I can fill a need - and by so-doing, become a necessity (or quasi-necessity) to another then I feel safe with them. I presume, then, that if I am useful to another, they will limit the potential harm for which they are capable of causing me. The implications of this pattern of behavior or massive. And anyone who knows of the events in my life, it is not difficult to understand why I have developed this style of relating. I am handling this re-discovery in a manner that feels quite different from my normal masochistic ways. I am not intent on changing how or who I am. I am not punishing myself or tormenting myself for all the ways in which this pattern of behavior has contributed to interpersonal struggles and the absence of true mutuality. Rather, I am simply allowing myself to "be". I am embracing the self-awareness without condemnation. Of course this is how I function in relationship. Somehow just knowing this...and not attempting to force change (which is really not change at all)...is altering how I am. If that's not a paradox then I don't know what is.

3. I watched a movie recently that I was quite disappointed with. Have you seen "The Reader"? Though Kate Winselt and the young boy who star in the film are amazing, the story was quite difficult for me to buy into. I don't won't to ruin the movie for anyone who hasn't yet seen it and still plan to watch it at some point so I'll be vague. Aside from the difficulty I had with being convinced of the storyline, the entire movie reflects how isolating life can be when we don't have a place (be that a community, family or significant relationship) to explore our own stories. We need one another to understand our lives - to understand who we are in the context of this great story called life. Without the connection, our lives become wasted and we are merely walking zombies.

That's it for now. I think the jumbledness and the muchness of this post paint an accurate picture of my life right now!

Friday, May 22, 2009

finally well

shauna, you're probably overloaded with cramming for your crazy summer schedule...but i spoke with our blog and she misses you.

i'm finally well after a few days of the stomach flu. first we were up all night with lucy, then i nursed karl when he got it the next day, and finally when he was recovering, i got sick just in time for him to cram for a deadline he had due at work. it's been a crazy week - but one also full of blessings.

first, we're getting some landscaping done on saturday from kids wanting to earn money for their youth trip. a girlfriend of mine wanted to pitch in to help pay for these kids trips and thought it'd be good if they worked for it, so she gave me a $200 check to contribute to me getting my landscaping done.

then, my mom had reason to unload a ton of groceries on us - so, we won't be needing things like peanut butter and coffee for a long time.

and best of all, karl spoke with his boss at work who was really accepting of karl keeping his current job and telecommuting in seattle - they just have to go through the chain of command to work out the details.

i don't feel worthy of all these recent blessings...and i wonder how God wants me to show my gratitude...for i am so grateful that during this questionable and uncertain time in my life that he remains ever present.

thank you, God. thank you for pouring your blessings out on me.

k.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dance Clip of the Week

Sunday, May 10, 2009

does simple have to mean empty?

in an effort to plan, in faith, on moving to seattle in the fall, we had a huge garage sale this weekend to ditch anything that simply occupies space in our big house, in order to take only what we really need, as we will be downsizing.

the garage sale went great - friday was a much better day than saturday - but we sold our guest bedroom set up, our basement couches, lamps, pictures, mirrors, toys, baby things, etc...it was cathartic to clear things out, but when i stepped back into an undecorated house i thought, "i'm trying to simplify, but now things feel empty."

i know i was mostly looking for the things that used to be in places that now there is nothing. the rooms seem barren without furniture, obviously, but even missing a ficus here and a candle there makes things feel very unfinished.

in my quest to simplify, i'm asking myself, "what does simplicity even look like?" was i holding on to things to merely occupy space in order to avoid the feeling of unfinishedness? there wasn't anything that i sold that i regret selling or wished i could have held onto. frankly, all my decorating style is a remnant of what i thought a house should look like, but was no reflection of who i am or my personality. did i fill my house up with tchotchkes and knickknacks to give the illusion that i'm full, complete, finished? because if so, it was just that, an illusion.

what you see in my home now is much more reflective of who i am - confused, unfinished, unpolished. there are holes where pictures used to be hung. there are vast exspanses of walls that have nothing on them. there is clutter that used to be on dressers or end tables, that now has no where to go.

i feel like i need to apologize to the property manager who is trying to get my house rented for the condition it is currently in. i need to tell her this isn't how we live, but that we're in transition. i'd like to explain how things used to look and promise her it will be in show-home condition soon. i'll have to figure out exactly how to do that with nothing left to fill in the nothingness.

i wish i didn't have to apologize and explain my home in the same way i wish i didn't have to explain my life to outsiders. no, i am not in show-home condition, either. my heart has holes where irreplaceable joyous moments of my youth once were. there is a vast canvas in my mind for ideas and concepts anew. and the clutter - oh, the clutter! there is so much of my identity, my name, my supposed tos that i've held onto for a lifetime that used to go here and there and now have no place to go.

i'll project myself to be in better condition to those who don't know me well. but to others, will you still come to my house, even if there isn't a couch to sit on? will you make yourself at home, even though i'm a blank canvas with no answers and no energy left to entertain you? will you stop by and visit me, daring, as you trip over the boxes of my confusion and the trash bags of my lost dreams? will you help me rummage through what's left of the ransacked debris and help me decide what to keep and what to throw away?

will you help me simplify without emptying me?

k.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

From "Split Ends" by Merrit Malloy

I know you thought I cried too long.
It isn't you
Or anything you said or did.
It's just that sometimes
When I cry
I go back and lose everything
I ever lost...again.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

To love or not to love...that is the question

I don't think it's a secret that I am a bit dramatic. Who am I kidding? I'm definitely more than a bit dramatic - I'm a lot dramatic. The serious nature of most of these blog posts function as testimony to this very fact. It's part of who I am...and my time at MHGS has enticed me to embrace all of me...even that part. Maybe intense, passionate, or easily-excitable are better descriptors of my personality. I like to think that I simply feel things deeply. Maybe deeper than some...or less deeply than others. I can't be sure because I'm only familiar with my own experience. But for whatever reason, I've come to believe that I feel deeper than most (if not all) others in whom I find myself to be in relationship with.

This way of perceiving my own little world probably began in my early formative years. A little over a year ago while visiting in Colorado my mom's husband told me that while cleaning out the garage he came across a time-capsule that my mom had constructed with all of us kids on New Years Eve in 1989. He said that my mom had written a letter about each one of us kids and he thought I'd be really interested in reading what she had to say. I was 10 years of age when my mom wrote of how her oldest daughter had an ability to love deeply in a way that exceeded her age in years. She saw this part of me as a glorious thing.

Not surprisingly, at the age of 10, I experienced my first break up. I've just always had a penchant for entering into certain stages of life before most others commonly venture into them. His name was Jason Rioux. We were boyfriend and girlfriend for the duration of the summer prior to his 7th grade and my 5th grade school year. The relationship was destined for failure once we returned to school and were no longer able to spend the long summer days riding our bikes through the neighborhoods, building forts out of the dirt piles behind our houses, and playing Truth or Dare every evening until there was no longer a trace of sun light. I recognize this reality now, retrospectively of course, but no one could have prepared me for the pain that followed his disclosure that he liked someone new...someone older. I cried every night for weeks.

I listened to Richard Marx' song "Right Here Waiting For You" at least a million times during that season of my life. One Friday evening, Jason actually happened to be hanging out with my older brother. They were playing basketball in our driveway which happened to be located just under my bedroom. I sat there watching (read: stalking) him for who knows how long. I did what any heartbroken young girl would do - I hit play on my cd player, opened my bedroom window, and turned the volume up as loud as I could get away with. The whole neighborhood heard my declaration of undying love. This was not the first time I humiliated myself in the name of love (When I was six I called my childhood boyfriend shortly after moving to Colorado from California and sang the chorus of "I just called to say I love You" by Stevie Wonder on his answering machine) and it most certainly wasn't the last time (oh...the memories are flooding me now - Jason McClurkin, Kevin Maas, Chris Crosby - my obsession with basketball players began when I was in junior high).

Though I'm laughing as I reminisce right now, my laughter is coupled with a wincing pain I can still locate deep within my heart - a pain I've been all too familiar with for most of my life. It's a pain I've tried many times to anesthetize in countless ways - some less self-harming than others, but as hard as I've tried - the wound is still present and I'm aware of it even in this moment. It is a pain that has felt unbearable at times and has had a history of leading me into black holes where I've doubted the possibility of ever recovering.

When I was 16 I purchase a self-help book titled, Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood. I was convinced that I had discovered my pathology. I was a woman who just loved too darn much. And that was a serious problem...because I had determined that in any given relationship, the one who loved the least held all the power. From this particular vantage point - loving too much (which equated to loving someone else more than they loved me) meant that I held little power within the relationship. And having little power seemed to inevitably lead to my own victimization. So how exactly does one stop loving so deeply? How can I pull back on the reigns of my heart? How can I become more powerful? These are the questions that have echoed in my head and reverberate in my heart - sometimes on a conscious level but more pervasively on an unconscious level.

A few weeks ago while I was cleaning our apartment as Krisalyn was entertaining herself in her bedroom, I was overwhelmed with this sense that I could be "content" being only a mom and taking care of household responsibilities. I don't mean to suggest that being "only a mom" is any small task - what I mean is that the role of a mother is a role that feels very safe too me. As a mother I feel free to love my children whether or not they reciprocate that love. I actually don't think it's possible for my children to love me as much as I love them, for it was my own body from which they came into existence. And so I'm thinking about my relationship with God and my relationship with others in a different light these days.

We are told that God loves us much more than any of us could ever even fathom...and I don't view him as having less power as a result of that love. It is his capacity to love even when it's not reciprocated that makes him so undeniably and beautifully powerful. I imagine that God painfully longs for reciprocated love from us, but our inability to love him that deeply does not cause him to tone down his love. Ironically, this relational predicament seems to heighten his love or at the very least it creates a dynamic where his love becomes more vividly expressed (I'm picturing Rembrant's Prodigal Son and the imagery constructed in my mind of a God who goes after the single sheep).

So what does this mean for my relationships today? I want to learn how to let my heart love deeply without being repressed by my fear of powerlessness. It is true that I cannot control whether or not another loves me back, whether they leave me, harm me, or reject me. I have no power over them and what they do with their own power. But I do have the power to love - and I'm learning that there is no greater power than this.

I came home last night from school after 9.5 hours of class completely exhausted. So it's possible that my exhaustion led to an emotional response...but all I could think about as I rested upon my tear-soaked pillow was how much I have grown to love the people in my life (both from the past and in my present). When I gave birth to my second of three daughters I was in awe of how the heart seems to have an infinite capacity to love as long as it remains a heart of flesh willing to let life enter in. Despite my best efforts at hardening my own heart and killing it's proclivity to love deeply - a portion of it has remained flesh. And I think that portion has the power to awaken and re-open the parts that stopped functioning long ago. One can only hope...

~S.

P.S. I couldn't resist posting this video. So classic. And yes...I still know the song by heart.

Monday, May 4, 2009

lyrics to my own song, "too, too much"

oh, blog baby...i've been gone so long
it has been too many days,
don't worry baby, you're not wrong

it's just that i've had so many things to do
places to go, people to see
dentist and doctor's appointments too

always in my head, i'm thinking about you
what i want to say, how i want to phrase
what i've learned to be true

and yet there is just too much,
too too much...
to do lists, appointments and such

so, don't be mad at me, baby
i know i've been gone so long
just understand i'm about to go crazy

give me a few more days, maybe a week
i'll make you a promise
i fully intend to keep

i'll write something clever,
quirky, and brilliant for sure
you'll never doubt me again, lover.

keep your eyes peeled, blog baby,
i'm working on something good
it'll just be a few more days, maybe.

it's just that i've got too too much going on
in my head, in my house, in my life
and i just didn't want you to go - going - gone.

k.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Food for thought

I only have a few minutes today...but I've been wanting to post this link for a few weeks now. Brian took the day off of work today (since it was his 34th birthday yesterday and we were up a bit late celebrating) so I'm trying to catch up on a few things this morning!

I recently read a reactionary blog posty by one of those big names in the emergent movement. He was responding to a Newsweek article which claimed that Christianity is significantly fading in it's existence and power at least in America. The basic premise of his post was that Christianity is not necessarily fading as a whole, but that certain types/ways/forms of Christianity are growing into extinction but that there are other forms of Christianity which are flourishing. For some reason, the article didn't sit well with me. Initially, I thought it had something to do with the language used - words like "effective" being used to describe church are disturbing to me. It sounds too closely related to corporate America in an assesment on how to reach a certain market group.

Since coming to MHGS I've learned I've thought a lot about language and how it can limit us and shapes us in ways that we don't realize as well as how it, if expanded, it can open up new spaces and places within the heart and mind collectively. The language of this "missional" way of thinking seems very limiting if it is the only language utilized. But my wrestlings went beyond the limited nature of the language in this article. I wasn't quite able to put into words why my reaction to a simple blog post was taking on a life of its own and brewing up inside of me for a couple of days...until I came across this article in my random google searches. Interestingly enough it's an article by one of my favorite professors (he's the one I secretly call Pastor) addressing how a "missional" mindset may need some serious expansion.

~S.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

One more video

I'm so thankful that the college group posted this video. Thanks, Craig. Missing the two of you especially this week!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Looking back...

I couldn't let this day pass without writing something. April 20, 1999 - It was quite possibly one of the most pivotal experiences of my life. So here I am...in the 11th hour. I wasn't a direct victim. I wasn't a student or a family member. I was simply a 19 year old volunteer leader in a local church youth group. In a youth group of nearly 150 kids, 45 were students at Columbine. I can still visualize in my mind's eye the printed out roster that we used to cross off the names on the list of those who had been accounted for. One-by-one all of the names were crossed off the list...except for hers. As the day carried on and it became more apparent that she was one of the fallen, I found myself in the run-down church office restroom peering at my own image in the mirror. I think I may have even spoken out loud, "This is not happening. She can't be gone."

We were supposed to talk that very evening after our weekly book study. Something had been bothering her and I had been encouraged by our youth pastor to get together with her to discuss what had been going on in her life, her mind, her faith. Her hair. That's all I could think of actually. Her long blonde beautiful hair. This couldn't be happening. She couldn't be gone. But she was. And I had to tell her closest friend in the youth group - she was from a different high school and she was ironically named Cassandra. As she entered the youth building that evening to gather with the rest us I ushered her into the girls restroom (the closest place we could escape to for a bit of privacy). I'm not sure how I got the words out. I think I just whispered that we were fairly certain that she was gone, though confirmation wasn't made until the following day. Cassandra literally fell into my arms and we both struggled to remain standing in that crowded bathroom where the sobs of teenage girls reverberated off of every wall.

After allowing for a time of coming together, praying with and embracing one another, a handful of us departed and spent the rest of our evening at a nearby elementary school where the families of victims still unidentified waited. Waiting. We just sat there waiting. I watched therapists and crisis relief counselors wander around the gymnasium scanning the room for an invitation. There was another room set up with a television broadcasting the continual news coverage. I couldn't stay in that particular room for any length of time. But I didn't know what to do. So I waited. I watched. There they were sitting surrounded by faces I knew and faces I didn't know. The Bernalls - Brad & Misty. I don't remember seeing Cassie's little brother Chris, but he may have been there as well. All I could do was watch. And wait.

I'm fairly certain, though I'm sure some details have been constructed by my own mind, that it was that evening that we first heard rumblings of a conversation that may or may not have taken place prior to Cassie's execution. Our youth pastor had heard a student exit the building screaming, "They asked her if she believed in God and she said yes...and then they killed her." I'm not sure how or when it became the story that much of the media frenzy focused upon...but it happened. She was called a martyr by many. I always had a difficult time with that term only because it seemed to imply that she died as direct result of her faith in God and I'm not sure that was the case. From this vantage point, it seems that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were not specifically targeting anyone in particular. Mass destruction, mass murder - that appears to have been their sole aim.

On the other hand, I don't know of a better term than martyr to explain the decision to lay down one's own life in order to follow a God of love. In that sense, Cassie was very much a martyr - not in her death, but in her living-daily-death to the parts of her self that prevented Christ's love from flowing through her into the lives of others. So whether or not she was asked that poignant question at the time of the shooting or not, she did say yes - with her life.

We were criticized as a church by many. The first controversy we encountered was when we made the collective decision to plant 15 trees in a prayer garden on our church property. I still have the notes I took during a meeting with all of our leaders as we discussed what our purpose was in erecting this memorial garden. Our intent was never to memorialize the two boys who brought about such horror, but we acknowledged that there were 15 families suffering an unimaginable loss and we wanted to always remember that. I'll never forget what it was like to watch our youth group kids serving coffee to the protesters that stood in front of our facility crying for vengeance. They chopped down two of the young trees in our garden. I waited. I watched. One of the members of our congregation used the remains from the trees to construct 15 beautiful ornaments.

Misty wanted to write a book about Cassie's transformation. We all wanted to share the story of her life with the world. Many have called this exploitation. They claim that we utilized a mythic story to propagate Christianity. Looking back, I am willing to say that there was some level of exploitation...but not to manipulate people into converting to Christianity. But we may have exploited the story of Cassie's life and death in order to tend to our own sense of loss and devastation. We honestly believed it was a story worth sharing. She was a young girl worth knowing. And we wanted everyone to know her. We wanted her life to matter to more than just us. And it has mattered to many others as a result of our mutual sharing of her story.

Many have accused us of spiritualizing the entire event. And they're right as well. We found meaning in her death, and the deaths of the others as well. We believed that through this horrific tragedy God was collectively enabling us to loosen our grip on this world so that we might live with eyes for the kingdom. This may not make sense to others who didn't experience Columbine in some way, or possibly a similar trauma or experience of loss. I don't mean to suggest that we became detached from this world in the hopes of someday being rescued and reunited with those we loved. Instead, we became convinced that love was all that mattered. Living now - moment to moment was all we could commit ourselves to. I still believe that God was very much a part of what we experienced that day and in the years that followed.

In the past few years I have "psychologized" the experience. I have attempted to explore the ways in which we spiritualize certain aspects of this life in order to cope or even escape realities too painful to bear. I have tried to make sense of what happened in the minds of Eric and Dylan - what were their possible pathologies and how did they happen to be simultaneously fractured in such a way as to create the perfect storm for mass destruction? I have analyzed my own response to the trauma too many times to count and from every possible angle.

Am I any further than I was ten years ago in making sense of not only this traumatic experience, but in making sense of this life? Maybe. Or maybe not. But I think that there is room in my soul for questions to remain unanswered. And with this space for unanswered questions remains a certainty that love is all that matters.

Cassie, you have been dearly loved. Even still.

~S.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Application Essay

ESSAY 1 - What do you hope to learn about yourself, God, the world and others while at Mars Hill Graduate School?

I've delayed putting my proverbial pen to paper until this eleventh hour having hoped that in the months since deciding to pursue Mars Hill Graduate School, a perfectly formed, theologically sound, rationally weighted and psychologically balanced thesis for why I want to attend graduate school would have already taken up residence in my heart and mind. Instead, in the past few months more questions have moved into the space I had reserved for answers. So, I've been bumping my knees up against the whys and stubbing my toes on the how-tos and rearranging the what-fors. But in the midst of all the crammed questions, one answer remains. A simple statement piece that I intend to keep among the cluttered furniture of my heart and mind is: I want more.

Text. I want more than the Baptist belief system I have held to for 30 years that, while rooting me in a deep faith, has also narrowed my mind to who God is and limited my interpretation of what he has said. I want more than a private Christian school education that left me with principles, rules and regulations about everything from what to wear and what to say but never educated or addressed my need and design for relationship with God and others. I want my biblical longings and questions held and heard instead of being rebuffed as still being an infantile diet of milk when I should be eating meat by now. I want to know the text as a whole, in its entirety, rather than only acknowledging its parts that have been picked and chosen to be used out of context for someone else's debate win. I want a passion to read the words of God and see them in a prism of colors, not just the blacks and whites or even the reds. I want to see the Bible as it was meant to be seen, read it as it was meant to be read. And I would rather widen my understanding of truth, as difficult as that will be, than to sit comfortably in the narrow-mindedness of my own ignorance.

Soul. I want more for my heart. I want it to find a gentle, healing path where the destination leads me to an advanced, lengthy, and detailed tutorial of how to take better care of it. Because on the outside, my heart is strong, firm, calloused and impact-resistant. But the blood-thirsty, oxygen-starved, mushy inside has been cut off from desire and longing, pain and joy, suffering and every other emotion along the way and is now on the verge of being gangrenous. I've denied myself cathartic tears of pain and silenced squeals of joy to maintain a posture of composure in order to send the ever-safe and appropriate message that everything is okay. I've picked my brokenness up by my bootstraps and stuffed dangerous desires deep in my pockets for so long I don't even know what it means to feel. It took an outward manifestation of a panic attack at age 29 to finally acknowledge my heart's inner turmoil. And after a year and a half of counseling, I'm just beginning to know what it means to feel again - or maybe even for the first time.

Last year, I was struck by Isaiah 61:1, the prophecy of Jesus' job description: to bind up the broken hearted and set the captive free. The verse made me question naively, "If that is the primary reason for his coming, then he must not have come for me. Because, where am I broken hearted? Where am I captive?" But a lifetime of believing that he did come for me and everyone else led me to examine how by not acknowledging my own woundedness, I was missing the greatest opportunity for intimacy with Christ, through his redemption. Since, I've invited Christ to come in and bring light to the areas I've been unaware were so beat up or in bondage. And experiencing his redemption has made me want to shout to my Christian public - it's not just about salvation and heaven, but it's about redemption here on earth, too! I want to know more of this redeeming work, which requires that I know more about brokenness and captivity - my own, and that of others as well. And seeing the mountaintop of redemption has made me willing to go into the valley of woundedness and captivity again.

Culture. Out of my 31 years of life, all 31 of them have been spent in the church. The church, its heritage, history, influences, and paradigms are my culture. More than being Caucasian female, I have identified myself with being a churchgoer. From serving in the same church for the past 12 years, to private Christian schools before that, to both parents being on staff at the church I was born and raised in, I have a very limited view of the world and a dominant view of the modern church. I want more than the narrow perspective I've been offered. I want to stretch my capacity to think in ways I've never imagined, or even been allowed to imagine. I want to read things I don't agree with, and know why I don't. I want to engage with material that stretches my moral muscles and brings me face to face with my own limiting self-righteousness. I want to know the audience that God looks upon and realize it's so much more than my white, middle-class, religious face that he sees. I want to see what he sees in the face of every culture and find his image there. And the more I know of other cultures, how wonderful for me, the more I will know of my own creator, and therefore, my own image.

I want more. And for the first time I'm willing to step out in risk to grab it. I'm letting the tiny seed of desire germinate, praying for water and sunshine, hoping that Mars Hill will bring the elements I need for the growth and thriving life of that little seed.

k.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A day to be proud

CONGRATULATIONS on your acceptance to Mars Hill Graduate School!!! I am so proud of your decision to take the risk that desire seems to require. So step one has been accomplished - relish it!

I'm also incredibly proud of my friend Erika for taking a different kind of risk. She has chosen to let her heart lead her into new territory as well. Watch her youtube debut below!



I feel so lucky to know such incredible people!
~S.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Acknowledging our neediness


My Beloved from Brandon Russell on Vimeo.

This is a video my brother was a part of creating a few years ago and I absolutely love it. I have utilized it as a visual demonstration a few times when sharing aspects of my own story with various groups in the church during my years at WBCC. In preparing to give a presentation this last week in school I thought of using this video once again - not so much in connection to my own story, but for the purpose of exploring what our role as therapists might look like. I ended up running out of time and was unable to show the clip at the end of my presentation, so I thought I'd post it here instead.

I've been wrestling with a few things portrayed in this short video lately as I've reflected upon how our cultural focus on individualism has influenced our reading of the text and our perception of God. Let me expound a bit here to demonstrate exactly what I mean to suggest. In the video we find an adolescent boy and girl both separate and alone in their display of misery and loneliness. They are revealing all of the messages that they have internalized which now keep them in bondage. They are messages about the self, the other and the world that work together to construct their world-view, which actually determines how they are who they are in the context of their lives. Unfortunately, as is the case in quite possibly the life of every human being, these messages are distorted realities of their true nature, their ultimate design and purpose in life.

Nonetheless, many of us fail to ever hear the truth about who we are. So we long for someone to erase all of the messages...to make them disappear so we can start over anew. Our only hope for a different way of being is by ridding ourselves of what we have already come to receive and inevitably internalize. We want God to be the genie in the bottle who makes it all go away. But in my experience, God has never performed such a disappearing act.

Don't get me wrong...it's not that I don't think God is capable of completely eradicating the ugliness and painfulness of such distortions of truth. But rather, I don't think God wants to. Because maybe it's not about each one of us having our individual slates wiped clean. Maybe it's not about God cleaning everything up and us still being alone in the end. What would it look like for us to get in there with one another, not to erase the messages, but to look at them together...to sort through them, understand them, feel them deeply together. And then to co-create new messages in our experience together...new messages that eventually become more powerful and more formative than the previous ones. I believe that the role of a therapist, actually I believe it pertains to the role of any disciple of Christ, is to get into the messiness with another. How that happens may just look differently in the therapeutic realm.

The greatest hurdle to this way of being with one another seems to be our reluctance to acknowledge just how much we need one another. We all know how much we need God. Even non-believers must know that they do not have ultimate control of their own existence. Yes, I am aware of the fact that we all struggle with living life as though we don't need God - but are we even aware of how much we fail to acknowledge our need for one another? God, by nature, is union - three-in-one. I wonder how our reading of the text and perception of God would look differently if we stopped focusing solely on how much we need God but rather acknowledged our need for a tri-part union - God, others and the self.

~S.

Monday, April 6, 2009

When all else fails, write poetry

What will I tell you my lovely little ladies?
How will I explain these unending tears?

I can't possibly explain how my heart was broken
when I was as young as the littlest of you
how he walked away and my tiara disappeared
never daddy's little princess or pumpkin or peanut.
How can I describe the longing that is never
more than a song away?

What will I tell you my lovely little ladies?
How will I explain these unending fears?

I can't possibly tell you about the yelling,
the screaming still burning in my ears
how the touch of his hand raised the very hair
off the neck he wanted to squeeze.
How can I convey the scars of his rage
skin shuttering still?

What will I tell you my lovely little ladies?
How will I explain these unending tears?

I can't possibly explain how he used my body
to cope with his own seething pain
how his touch revealed that I was good
for at least this one thing.
How can I uncover the layers of guilt and shame
constricting my heart from pumping forth life?

What will I tell you my lovely little ladies?
How will I explain these unending fears?

I can't possibly tell you about the one
I can never seem to find
how about the one who found me
and then said it just can't be?
How can I confess the void that I can't force
the three of you to fill?

What will I tell you my lovely little ladies?
How will I explain these never ending years?

one possible answer...

and God help you if you are an ugly girl
- course too pretty is also your doom -
cause everyone harbors a secret hatred
for the prettiest girl in the room.

and God help you if you are a pheonix
and you dare to rise up from the ash.
a thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy
while you are just flying past.

-32 Flavors by Ani Difranco

k.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Just a wink (I mean link) for now

Well...you are actually in your interview right now. I can hardly contain the surrealness of this experience. I don't know what will happen in the coming months, but the fact that we are closer to the possibility of living in the same state again has my stomach all twisted up with excitement and the fear that always accompanies any level of hopefulness in my life. Even if for some reason all of the puzzle pieces don't come together exactly how we want them to, when all is said and done we will have had, at least on some level, a shared experience here. Shared experiences are often at the heart of deep bonding and intimacy.

Considering I am supposed to be utilizing this time to get some school work done, I am going to abruptly end this post by offering a little link to yet another MHGS student's blog. She is one of the many people at my school that I admire from afar and often think about how if I were in another stage of life currently (basically if I wasn't married with children and totally lacking even a trace of spare time) we could be great friends! She recently wrote a post about your beloved Twilight that I thought was worth a gander. So feast your eyes on this when you get a chance (presumably after this Experience Mars Hill Graduate School Weekend).

~S.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

b-12 deficiency

for a long time i thought i was anemic because i could never shake constant exhaustion. from the moment i woke up in the morning i was counting the hours until i could sleep again. at one point i was so tired i could drink sleep. i investigated the normal causes for why i would be so tired. i took some blood tests, had my thyroid checked out - everything came back normal. i eventually went to a naturopath doctor to look into vitamin supplements. on this journey i came across pernicious anemia which is not a lack of iron so much, like regular anemia, but more of a lack of b-12 absorbency. which is to say, it's not that i wasn't taking in enough of the vitamin, but that my body wasn't absorbing it. so, i immediately started a supplement. i was worried about overdosing because i was so eager to feel not so much like a walking sleepy-head. turns out you can't overdose on vitamin b-12 because it is a water soluble vitamin that, when taken in excess, is easily excreted.

enough of the glamorous details, my point is not to blog to the world about my vitamin deficiencies, but rather to draw a parallel. i think i'm also deficient in something else entirely, love. not because there isn't enough love around me, but because i'm not absorbing it. i'm a poor receiver. what does it matter if my husband always tells me how great i am if i don't receive his praise? what does it matter if i'm surrounded by people who think i'm special, if i don't receive their admiration? what does it matter if friends stand up for me, protect me, rescue me, if i don't accept their help? what does it matter if i know Christ died for me because he loves me, if i don't receive his gift of love.

i'm not quite sure why i don't receive or absorb the love that surrounds me. just like my vitamin deficiency, i can't pinpoint my problem - all i know is that there is one. just like my tiredness was a symptom of malabsorption, likewise, symptoms such as an insatiable desire for praise and a constant yearning to feel special, great disappointment when i am not chosen or picked for someone or something, and deep despair when i'm overlooked or brushed over are symptoms that i'm not receiving the love that is amply given. because if i were like a sponge, absorbing the love surrounding me, would i be so desperate for more?

so. i don't have a love deficiency, but i do have an absorption problem. throwing more love in any way it is given won't help my reception of it. it ends up going down the toilet. therefore, the answer is not more love, but a way to absorb and receive love that bypasses the way i've been trying to receive it up until now.

there are lots of ways people can bypass the problem of absorbing b-12. the vitamin gets lost in the stomach since some people don't have the enzymes there to receive and send it into the blood stream. so, there are shots, there are under-the-tongue pills, and there are patches that send the vitamin directly to the source, bypassing the stomach.

i'm looking for a patch. where can i find healing and wholeness in order to receive the love that is so lavishly given to me? how can i be a receptor for love in all the ways that it is given? how can i first receive, so i can subsequently, be grateful?

k.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

invitation

this is my formal attempt at inviting you to share more on your thoughts from our conversation today about developing a spirit of gratitude through grief. i'd like to hear more...

k.

merrit malloy - a poem

wrong reason

it is not always the absence of love
that makes me seem alone.
often it's been too much love
given to me by the wrong people
for the wrong reasons
that keeps me here,
gladly alone,
rather than have the life sucked
out of me by the violent needs
of other minds and bodies.

that does not mean
that i'm not grateful.
but i am sad.
not to be able to put my arms
around those who truly loved me
and give them something more
than polite indifference.
oh, how i tried.
i think they should know
i tried.
and i choose to be alone
rather than wrapped in arms
i could never need.

tight rope walker

from Celebration of Discipline" by Richard Foster:

"Picture a long, narrow ridge with a sheer drop-off on either side. The chasm to the right is the way of moral bankruptcy through human strivings for righteousness. Historically this has been called the heresy of moralism. The chasm to the left is moral bankruptcy through the absence of human strivings. This has been called the heresy of antinomianism. On the ridge there is a path, the Disciplines of the spiritual life. This path leads to the inner transformation and healing for which we seek. We must never veer off to the right or to the left, but stay on the path. The path is fraught with severe difficulties, but also with incredible joys. As we travel on this path, the blessing of God will come upon us and reconstruct us into the image of Jesus Christ. We must always remember that the path does not produce the change; it only places us where the change can occur. This is the path of disciplined grace."

i've been wrestling much, wondering what it is God wants from me. does he want me to try to transform myself? or does he want me to wait for him to do all the transforming? i've used many biblical examples to convince others that we must first step into the red sea before he parts the waters, or take our isaacs to the altar before he provides the ram. so, i know there is a step of action involved. and there is a step of faith in the waiting. i get mixed up when i'm out of balance, when i'm either trying too hard or waiting too lazily. in either case, i'm frustrated.

i go back to this passage from foster's book because it is a visual, and i'm a visual person. it gives me this image of walking down a narrow ridge and balancing - not wanting to fall off to the left in not doing anything, but not wanting to fall off to the right, either, in doing it all on my own.

but like a tight rope walker, i need tools. what are my balancing tools? what is my long stick that i hold onto to keep balanced? do i have special shoes that grip to the rope? tools! i need tools!!! i don't know how to keep the balance of surrender and effort, of doing and resting, of hoping and trusting, of waiting and moving. and i'm so close to jumping off the rope entirely, giving up, not trying, not hoping, not waiting...just falling. and at this point i don't even notice or care if there's a safety net...i just want off the rope.

and i think the tools Foster is describing are the spiritual disciplines of the faith: meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, celebration. but for whatever reason, i don't feel like i can do these disciplines without inevitably falling off to the right, and doing everything on my own. these disciplines have gotten me this far in my faith, and yet i feel like i want to, need to get further, and these tools aren't enough? could that be?

i know i'll be on this rope always this side of heaven. so, i'm convinced i need some tools to help me balance, because every day i'm missing the equation that yields doing just the right thing to feel like i'm changing, transforming, somehow being better than yesterday.

to try, or not to try, that is my question.

k.

Monday, March 16, 2009

In need of some tunes

Everything I'm reading right now is about sex - as a metaphor, of course. But that metaphor has seeped into all apsects of my life...so I'll have more to post about that subject later (is there any other subject really worth discussing?).

I have 15 weeks left until my half marathon. Our mileage is about to start climbing, which means I'll be running for longer stretches of time and I'm in desperate need of some new running tunes. I'm open to any and all suggestions from anyone who happens to come across this blog! So people...please...help a sister out.

~S.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Debunking the myths

I'm finishing up a paper on Domestic Violence today and I came across this article on newsweek.com about the myths that have been perpetuated in the media about domestic violence in the case of Chris Brown and Rhianna. The DV class I was fortunate enough to take this term has opened my eyes up to the many ways in which collectively, as a society, we often contribute to the systemic oppression of women (and many other people - but that's another blog-worthy topic I'll have to address at a later point in time). So please click here to read about a few of the myths pertaining to domestic violence.

~S.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Passageways

I only have a few minutes to check in before I tend to a mound of school work. I just dropped Annika off at the airport and we said our goodbyes. It was so great to have her out here for a few days! Having the opportunity to share a bit of my experience out here with those who have been a significant part of my life is a true gift. Here are a few photos of our time together!




These days I'm wrestling with higher levels of anxiety in association with being more fully exposed to others. It's so clear to me now that this anxiety is associated with my deep fear that I am too much for others to handle. I have such a hard time letting go of all inhibition. I'm usually fairly tame in these blog posts...I notice how much I hold back...how much I attempt to abstractly describe what I'm feeling rather than bare all. I think that this trepidation is understandable considering the public nature of this sort of discourse. But for some reason, I'm feeling urged to plow through the passageway of my own discomfort. Sexual metaphors are always within the innerworkings of my mind, so as an attempt to press on through the passageway I often dance around, I'll let go...at least this once.

"Let go" - that's often what I find to be the most difficult task of all. As a woman, surrender is the necessary prerequisite to experiencing orgasm. In order to reach a point of indescribable pleasure, union, intimacy in it's physical manifestation, a woman must surrender her anxieties, preoccupations, and self-containment. She must let go...completely. Orgasm is the moment when she truly shows up.

But letting go with someone who is not in awe of your willingness to surrender can be an incredibly painful experience. The fear of such pain may rob us of true glory...unless we learn to walk through the passageway into the land of surrender. May I learn to walk this journey with greater determination, passion and desire, while never losing sight or sound of the merciful warnings indicated by the initial anxiety. The anxiety serves a purpose. It reminds us that the ground beyond this passageway is truly sacred. We must take our shoes off and so must those in whom we wish to greet on the other side.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

inspiration

I'm heading out to the PB (that's panera bread...not pottery barn) to work on some school stuff...but I wanted to encourage you to check out Lauren & Claire's blog when you get a chance. Claire recently posted a video with Elizabeth Gilbert that left a huge lump in my throat and a desire to "show up". Do it...right now...check it out here.

~S.

Invitation to death


It's been a long time since I've willingly waded in the waters of baptism. After a few years of attempting to separate out the voices of the herd and the voice of God while standing on the edge of the pool, I have come to the conclusion that the only way to authentically wrestle with the doubting Thomas that is woven into the fabric of my being is to dive in. I'm not sure what this means yet or what the result will be...I just know it's time.

I leave you with a few words from William Willimon as we enter into this season of Lent anew:

"The chief biblical analogy for baptism is not the water that washes but the flood that drowns. Discipleship is more than turning over a new leaf. It is more fitful and disorderly than gradual moral formation. Nothing less than daily, often painful, lifelong death will do. So Paul seems to know not whether to call what happened to him on the Damascus Road 'birth' or 'death' - it felt like both at the same time.

"In all this I hear the simple assertion that we must submit to change if we would be formed into this cruciform faith. We may come singing 'Just as I Am,' but we will not stay by being our same old selves. The needs of the world are too great, the suffering and pain too extensive, the lures of the world too seductive for us to begin to change the world unless we are changed, unless conversion of life and morals becomes our pattern. The status quo is too alluring. It is the air we breathe, the food we eat, the six-thirty news, our institutions, theologies, and politics. The only way we shall break its hold on us is to be transferred to another dominion, to be cut loose from our old certainties, to be thrust under the flood and then pulled forth fresh and newborn. Baptism takes us there."


~S.

(Photo: Baptism by Traer Scott)

Monday, February 23, 2009

fun house

when someone offers their opinion or perspective on how they see you, view you, it's like they're one of many fun house mirrors. you know those mirrors where some make you look short and fat, others make you look tall and skinny, some, your face is long and drawn, and still others, you almost have no face, just a belly. the thing about those mirrors is that we know they're not reflecting all of who we are - only part. the color of my hair and eyes are the same in every one of those mirrors. each different mirror reflects the same shirt and pants that i am surely wearing. so, while there is part truth being projected back, there is also falsity.

as we listen to what others think of us, we must remember, there are truths to what they say, and there are untruths - it's up to us whether we laugh at their reflection or not.

k.

3rd post of the day!

I got back from running and while I was getting ready I randomly decided to listen to a sermon by a former MHGS student named Meredith Dancause. She just so happened to be talking about a half marathon. You can download it here.

~S.

Randomness

A quick list before I head to the gym:

1. Did you know they are turning Blue Like Jazz into a movie? Donald Miller was at my school last week where he spoke about the idea. Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend (being a mom of younger children poses a bit of a problem when cool things like this come up at school).

2. I lost my beloved iphone so I won't be available by telephone for at least a little while. I seriously have no idea what I did with it. Brian and I searched the apartment for hours yesterday and called the place where I last had the phone. I'm currently going through withdrawal symptoms - an unfortunate downfall to becomming addicted to having internet access 24/7.

3. Did you watch the Oscars last night? Art really is the universal language. I want to host an Oscar party as soon as we have a house large enough to host such an extravaganza (for those of us who deserve an Oscar in our own right).

4. I've officially begun training for my half marathon. And posting that detail on this blog adds even more pressure to follow through with this endeavor. There is a part of me that is thrilled at the idea of celebrating my transition in life as a 30 year old (my birthday is June 8th) in this fashion...and the other part of me is wondering what the hell I just committed myself to!

~S.

The problem with badness

Since I'm off of school this week and Krisalyn as preschool all day today - I have the entire day to myself. It's so weird. Of course I have a long list of errands to run and school assignments to catch up on - but still...an entire day without little kid interruptions. I think there's something wrong with me because most people would enjoy the quiet and uniterruptedness of the day, but it makes me get this uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. It feels sort of like the homesick feeling only worse. I'm wondering what it's all about as I sit here drinking my coffee and staring at this computer screen (which is connected to the functioning half of the laptop I drove over in the church parking lot a few years ago). I don't like being alone. I don't like not being needed by anyone. I don't like the lack of someone else/something else determining the course of my day.

So even though my life looks very different now than it has in the past (i.e. I don't seem to have quite so many balls in the air...I think that's a reference to juggling) I'm still not quite settled into my own skin. I'm still looking outside myself for a sense of pseudo-identity and pseudo-locatedness (one of my new favorite words...and my new habit of placing "pseudo" at the beginning of just about any word). I recently came across an old journal entry where I was clearly at a point of distress. Here's a bit of the entry dated Oct. 5, 2005:

"I'm afraid that if i continue on like this I will hit a wall and quite
literally become mentally insane. I don't know how much longer I can go on with this continual feeling of chaos and distraction. I'm disconnected from everything - a complete detachment from all that is real. Life is spinning; everything is confusing and I can't even think. Nothing makes sense anymore. EVERYTHING IS SPINNING."


I'm not sure what was specifically going on in my life in those despairing moments, but it's obvious that I was at a point of desperation. Though this obscure journal entry reveals just how far I've come, a part of me still knows that place of detachment. Last semester I had an opportunity to briefly speak with one of my professors and I shared with her that there seemed to be a weightiness about her and some of the other professors. It was a weightiness that enabled them to stand in their own bodies to the point in which I repeatedly perceived them to be fully present. I, on the other hand, explained how I often felt light as a feather in my own body being tossed back and forth by the wind. Even as I vocalized this metaphor, my voice became shaky, the tears began to swell and I feared I would psychologically vanish before we were even able to conclude the conversation. We went on to discuss the value of therapy and she commented on my fragility (which she defined as vulnerability) and how few people are able to handle that kind of rawness in others (because they haven't handled it well within themselves either).

I think that is why I have a hard time living fully in my own body. There is a rawness about me that I have learned to protect - to keep it out of complete reach by any other. There are moments that it busts through the barriers I've worked so hard at erecting. I've been especially curious about a specific barrier that I tend to favor - it's the barrier of always being the "bad one". In most of my relationships I am capable of characterizing myself as the "bad one" - the one with the most colorful past, the one with the most difficult marriage, the one with the most family dysfunction or greatest level of pain. This badness is what keeps others out - I keep them out - at least at an arm's distance away. They can know all sorts of things about me...or about my badness...but they can't come in because they're not as bad as me.

I tell myself that if I could find someone who is as bad as me then they could come in. But there's a serious problem with this logic because often I surround myself with people who help me perpetuate this shield of badness. Either I establish our roles in the relationship at the onset, or they are equally as bent on being the good one.

So I have a dilemma. The barriers I've erected keep people out and they keep me in a state of emotional isolation (though admittedly there are glorious moments when these barriers give way...thank God). Emotional isolation leaves me feeling detached from life, from relationship, from ever being fully present. It's like sleep walking a bit - I can go through the motions but I'm not fully awake. I'm living in my head, or in the deep withdrawn emotional crevices of my mind. Maybe that's why I appreciate having a role to fulfill or a task to accomplish - it lures at least a part of me out of the dark cave where my true self has been hiding all my life. I've been able to describe to a few, at least in part, aspects of this dark cave but I've yet to invite someone to join me inside the cave. I think that's what a therapeutic relationship is meant to be - it's a relationship that works towards entering the dark cave together.

It's painfully clear that if I don't do the work of inviting another into the dark cave with me then entering into the cave with others (as a profession as well as an act of discipleship) will be reduced to sheer voyeurism rather than a mutual pursuit of freedom through relationship. I no longer want insight alone - for what is insight if it's not experienced in relationship?

~S.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

No excuses

My school schedule has slowed down a bit...so I really don't have any viable excuse for not contributing much to this form of expression. I just haven't been in the mood for writing much lately. I have a week off from school though...so hopefully some motivation will kick in soon.

Until then these little blog links will have to do. The first one is a guy who graduated from my school last year and he's currently living in NY while his wife finishes up her Masters. He's recently posted a series on LOCATEDNESS that I've really resonated with. You can search from all of them here. The second one is a fellow female classmate/poet/artist whom I find to be rather inspiring.

~S.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

knowledge smells

bear with me - i will make a point.

i was driving down the mountains this morning after my counseling appointment. there was so much information bound up in my head. all the knowledge i had just gleaned, had just heard, had just learned, was tying itself up in knots in my mind. and as the pressure increased in my ears with the changing altitude, the knots in my head got tighter and tighter and i felt it would break under the pressure of trying to process so much new knowledge. i wanted so badly to immediately transfer the information into my becoming, into my being. but it remained only thoughts twisted in my head.

and it occurred to me, knowledge is to smelling what experiencing is to tasting. you can learn all you want, hear all you want and take in so much knowledge - but it still is nothing compared to the experiencing.

what if you lived near a fantastic mexican restaurant, but because of your heart burn issues, you couldn't actually eat the food, but you had to perpetually smell the cilantro, the jalapeno, the onions and the tomatoes, but could never savor any of it? your mouth would always water, your stomach always grumble, hunger pangs would never go away. you'd be in a constant state of yearning and not having, of desiring and being left unfulfilled. oh, the tension i feel now just imagining the wanting and not having.

that's how i feel about all this knowledge permeating my brain. it wafts in and out of my mind with its tempting flavors of insight and it's aroma of wisdom and yet i want more! not more knowlege, not more smells and tantalizing taunting, but the experience that knowledge speaks of. i don't want to just know. i want to KNOW. to continue with my mexican metaphor: yo no quiero saber. yo quiero conocer!!! i want to experience intimately all that this knowledge speaks of. i don't want to talk about transformation - i want to be transformed! i don't want to whisper about love, i want to love and be loved well! i don't want to speak of risks and passion, i want to dare and desire! enough luring. i want the taking!

knowledge has done for my heart what smelling has done for my stomach. lured me into wanting the main course - not just tiny remnant particles of it.

k.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

more about daddy

as i contemplate intimacy with my maker i've realized how much he wants from me the same things i desire from my husband. lately, i've told karl that he needs to ooh and ahh better. being that he is quite reserved and holds back, i asked him to practice affirming me with reckless abandon. now - for his personality, that's like asking a river to run up the mountain instead of down. but nonetheless, i want to be delighted in. i want to be admired and valued - and if i don't get it from my husband, my humanness will seek that same admiration from somewhere else. so, he agreed to try and i am praising his every effort.

so, if what i need from relationships is affirmation, does God want that from me to himself? i'm guessing he does. he wants to be admired for his handiwork, valued for his love and sacrifice and told so. i'm good at the, "thank you, Father for our food," but like i told karl - that is not a compliment given with pure awe and reckless abandon. so, i'm trying. but more than having the ability to ooh and ahh over my Father, i need eyes to see all that there is to ooh and awe over. of course, there is his creation, every sunset and song bird sings his praises. maybe living in colorado, i take his creation for granted - but i don't want to. i want eyes to see his amazing handiwork. i want to see how he is wooing me, impressing me, showing off. that's what i do for karl. i do my proverbial song and dance and seek his applause. and if God seeks my applause, isn't he songing and dancing too? i know he is. i know it. but i want to see it, to believe it! i want my oohing and ahhing to be thrills and trills of wonder, excitement and profound amazement at all that he is and is capable of. daddy, give me eyes to see your greatness that i may humbly offer my unabashed praise.

"what can a poor man lay at the foot of a king?" asks a song from point of grace. i believe as i give karl praises for merely attempting to meet my needs and speak my love, so i believe my king will delight in my pauper's bundled gift of oohs and ahhs.

k.