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.

Friday, February 6, 2009

i want to go to disney world...

...metaphorically speaking.

this morning i was questioning what kind of intimacy God wants from me. what does intimacy even look like with the creator of the universe? i'm trying to believe that he wants to hear my hopes and dreams and wants me to share my desires with him, but that's hard to imagine when he already knows everything. why do i need to spell it out for him? isn't it like que' sera' sera' - what will be will be?

but i've recently realized that "spelling it out" is the conversation required for intimacy. what close relationship doesn't involve dialogue? so, while i know he is not a genie of the lamp for me to expel my wishes upon thereby backing him into the corner of having to grant my every desire, for the sake of our relationship, i think he wants to know my heart - what my heart longs for and what it day dreams of and what makes it skip to a syncopated beat.

so, i ventured out this morning to lay before his feet my desires. to spell them out, to give language to the song in my heart - hoping that he would carry my dreams carefully. hoping that he wanted to hear them as much as i wanted to tell them to him. praying that i could trust him to treat my heart gently. i'm waiting patiently for his exchange in our dialogue - but as for my part, it went something like this:

daddy, just like lucy wants to go to disney world because she's heard all about it, watched the disney shows every day for a year and listened all about the wonderful surprises the destination has to offer, i want to go somewhere too. i've heard all about this place called mars hill graduate school. i've talked with someone who goes there every week for a year and a half, i've heard about all the professors and read some of their books, i've listened to what wonderful surprises the school, the city and the journey have to offer to someone who is seeking more, and i want to go, because i want more. but just like lucy, i am waiting in patient anticipation for the tickets to go because i know the cost is high, the journey long and the right opportunity has to present itself...

but daddy?...daddy, i want to go.

k.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

books, books, and more books

I'm buried underneath all of these books. Last week I finished reading A Shining Affliction by Annie Rogers, Not to People Like Us by Susan Weitzman, and Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancoft.

This week I'm working on completing One Child by Torey Hayden, Children Who See Too Much: Lessons from the Child Witness to Violence Project by Betsy McAlister Groves, and God's Reconciling Love: A Pastor's Handbook on Domestic Violence by Dr. Nancy A. Murphy (my professor in Domestic Violence Advocacy).

That's a total of 1,447 pages (in 2 weeks) --- and I didn't even include articles and excerpts from other books for my regular classes this trimester. Am I complaining? Absolutely...and maybe bragging a bit too. I know it's unbecoming, but my exhausted brain and over-worked eyes are in need of some sympathy right now.

All this to say that I won't be able to post anything of worth for at least another week.

Until then...
~S.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

giving and receiving love

i don't know if i haven't been blogging much because i lack the ideas or the passion for the ideas - but my mind has been a "tabula rasa" or "blank slate". i don't think i haven't had thoughts - i just think i've either had too many and none are rising to the surface, or there is just so much swirling that none have settled.

i was thinking of a friend i used to have. i say used to because i haven't seen her or spoken to her in 2 1/2 years. but i think if we were to see each other tomorrow, we could likely pick up where we left off. she's one of those kinds...where you don't really have to talk daily to be comfortable in your friendship - and in this case, we haven't talked in years. but that much time seems like it makes things a little more uncomfortable. i think the discomfort comes from not knowing why neither of us have made the effort to keep in touch. that's the question that goes around in my over crowded mind. did she not keep in touch with me or did i not keep in touch with her? did she ditch me, or did she feel i ditched her? one idea that keeps rising to the surface is my conclusion that we stopped needing each other. because in my experience you can ditch what you want (i.e. not let yourself want it anymore, or fill that want with something or someone else), but it's a lot harder to ditch what you need.

so, that leads me to deduce that our friendship was based on need. no problem with that - many relationships start out that way (infant to mother for example). and i'm not even sure what needs we met in one another, but we must have to tuck a 12 year relationship under our belt. so, i'm less concerned with what we needed in one another and more interested in how relationships are formed and founded and what keeps them going.

one thing that irritated me today is that when i imagined running into this friend again after these 2 1/2 years, i picture she would come up and give me a hug. why would i be irritated that she'd hug me? i wrestled with this discomfort and uncovered a possible reason. i have been in this friendship on my terms. we're friends just so long as she needs me and i need her - but if we become those people who casually give out hugs, then that is no longer on my terms because i'm not free with my hugs - and she is. so, part of me was mad thinking that - hey, you don't see me or talk to me in nearly 3 years and you want to give me a hug like we saw each other yesterday? that's not how i work.

and i chided myself realizing how i only give and receive love on my terms. and how much love i'm missing because i don't receive it the way others give it. her idea of showing love is hugs. mine's not. but am i so full of love and relationships that i don't have room to accept and receive love in any way shape or form that it's given? how arrogant of me.

Christ demonstrated his love for us while we were still steep in sin. so, it seems the problem isn't so much needing or earning love as much as it is to humbly receive it - in any way it is given.

i've got a 10 ft. wall between me and the love others are sending me. it's not they're fault i'm not loved. because they're giving it. it's my fault i'm not loved, because i'm not receiving it. so that begs the question - what kind of love am i giving if i've not yet let myself receive?

another day - another blog. maybe.

k.