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.


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, 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?


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...


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.


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.