Can I Get Back to You?

If you’ve known me for more than a few years, you may have noticed (you imaginary readers, you) that I didn’t write anything on my daughter’s birth/deathday this year.

Here’s what I was doing instead of writing: hanging out with friends, going to church.

For several months now, I have been in this angry-at-religion mode. Not angry at my Christian friends, not angry with God, but angry at all of the trappings, all of the methods and all the ways people use to talk about those methods. It had become reactionary to the extreme. If I thought through the things that set me off, I could identify that they were either really not a big deal, or I could see how I disagreed with them (also not such a big deal). In some cases, identifying something that set me off would cause me to realize I actually agree with that thing. Nevertheless, I was struggling furiously with all of it…

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Faith Part 1: Outer Space

We’re all trying very hard.

Growing up we believe what we’re told, or we rebel against it because faith costs more than it appears to be worth. Nevertheless we wrestle. We make “I’ll nevers” for ourselves and “He’d nevers” for God.

This plus that equals another thing.

We’re creating math equations of existence with only a few digits, a few thousand denominations. God must be and yet… who is he?

I go spinning, like those horrifying movies set in outer space. Bouncing slowly along the outside of the ship to batten down some hatch, tethered by a life line. Then a meteor comes, some shift in the weightless darkness, and a man who used to be a boy, or a woman who used to be a little girl, goes spinning. Spinning forever into the coldest, darkest nothing. No air, no ground, no more going inside where it’s safe….

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The Joy of Grief

It has become somewhat of a tradition to write a blog post on or near my daughter’s “day.” Grief is such a richly varied experience and I have found it to be a kind of beautiful gift. For this reason, there is always something to say beyond the obvious reality that it sucks to have your kid die.

I couldn’t say that I’m glad I lost her, but today and many many other days in the last 7 years I can say that while I lost more than I ever wanted to, I gained many things I didn’t even know I could.

The biggest gain is that I’ve seen God come through for me in a way that I only ever vaguely believed he would before. A week or so after Sarah died, when I realized that I could not grieve in a healthy way, I asked God to take all of it and give back only what is good. While I could recount many occasions in the last 2,555 days that I felt unpleasant emotions; screamed, cried, numbed up, felt sorry for myself, choked on the emptiness, laid in the cold mud of life without her, thought of who she would be now, felt anger at a passing pregnant woman… I have felt all of those emotions and more, but every one of them came at just the time I needed to feel it. Each one helped me heal a little more. Since asking him, God has been utterly faithful to carry all but what I was supposed to walk with in the current moment.

When people find out about Sarah they almost always say, “I don’t know how…” or, “I never could handle…” But of course they’re right and neither could I. Although it might seem weird that feeling pain has been a gift, it’s the way that I have been set free to grieve without guilt or shame, without wallowing or getting stuck too long. I haven’t made this happen, I have only accepted whatever piece came my way….

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Bluebird in my Heart

Why is it so difficult to receive love? So, so much more difficult than giving it away.

Sunday in church, the pastor talked briefly about the things a minister/leader/pastor cannot do for those to whom they minister. The sum up is that a minister cannot go in and fix something inside of another person’s heart.

Pondering this and other things as I drove home Monday through the incredible beauty of the Wenatchee National Forest, I was stuck on an even more disturbing reality: How difficult it is to fix something inside of my own heart.

I know a lot of kids and have the pleasure of watching them interact with their parents. All of them are at various stages of obedience. Sometimes my heart is like the naughtiest, most disobedient toddler. I can say with great sternness what I want my heart to feel or not feel, to know or to not know. I can cajole it to believe, bribe it not to rebel, soothe it into gratitude…

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Place to Be

Sometimes I run out of words. There is some magical balance between structure and freedom which I am trying to strike. Too much structure and I become too stressed and anxious to function well, too much freedom and many important left-brain abilities go out the window- the most noticeable of these being communication.

To combat this atrophy, I’ve been doing crossword puzzles and reading books. I have even managed to write in my journal, but I’m still not really at a place to make focused, thoughtful posts.

For that reason, I have taken pictures for my post today. This represents the corner I turned yesterday. Not only did I have two very helpful conversations with two wise women about Rest, but I also cleaned and organized my room- making it a much more comfortable place to work stuff out….

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Party Pooper

Taking a sabbatical in my home town is a bit like going to a kids birthday party for some peace and quiet.

Nevertheless coming here and taking a sabbatical were both things I felt like God was leading me to do. It’s much easier to make jokes about than to manage well and I’m taking some time today to lay this situation before God. To be honest, I think this very thing is one of my main reasons I need a sabbatical and a huge part of why God led me to do it here in Washington state.

Like when you pray for patience and discover yourself surrounded by frustrating life you can (wrongly) see it as proof that you shouldn’t have prayed for patience, or you can see it as a divine opportunity to get in plenty of practice. And, let’s face it, life is ever full of such opportunities. It is just a matter of choosing to see each thing as a chance to grow instead of as a God given “trial.”

God is not spiteful, but he is wise and he is loving.

So here I am on the verge of a week in which many “opportunities” are presenting themselves, all piled up, pushing and pulling at me…

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Be Still My Soul

I just received a beautiful email from a friend. It read much more like a hand written letter and I’m tempted to copy and paste it into a document and print it on paper.

Besides sharing her struggles and joys, she ends her letter with a very simple statement which left me stunned for a moment while salty liquid rushed into my eyes.

“I pray for you, Peggy, that your faith would not fail.”

I sat up late last night trying to write a different blog post and then trying to write something for just myself to make sense of life right now. One metaphor that seemed fitting was that of being out in choppy water on a small pontoon. Just as I think I’m grasping what it means to be still inside, the scenery changes and I’m sliding toward a metal railing with pinwheel arms. Three things I forgot to do and seven things that need to be done right now, and several questions I’m not completely sure how to answer slam into me at the opposite end of the boat….

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This I Know

For the last few weeks I’ve been realizing my need for better time management. I read some list of Signs of Burnout and identified with most of them. Of course I read this only a few days before I planned to come back to Colorado and work. So I asked God what I should do and I felt strongly that a long sabbatical was not the solution- instead I need to learn how to manage my daily time in a way that allows me enough rest to keep going.

Then, less than a week after returning to YWAM I sprained my ankle.

The funny(?) thing is that the morning before I found myself crumpled in the parking lot with fire in my foot I was thinking pretty hard about how I could serve the people on my team. I didn’t consciously think, “I need to prove I’m worth having,” but looking back I realize that I felt this deep down. So I invited one friend over to take a walk with me and I would make her lunch. Honestly I wanted to spend some time catching up with her. Our walk lasted mere minutes and then for the next two days she was helping me all over the place; ice for my ankle, rides to a meeting and to the doctor, crutches to get around on, delivering movies for me to watch while I sat in my bed.

Okay, okay, I get it, I’m resting…

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Lay it Down

The two week break from school is nearly over.

I can’t say that it’s been a bad time, but it also has not been the best. I think the worst part was really all in my head. I have this great excuse of the Waldo Canyon fire but I don’t know that it’s really the culprit. 

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Somehow I avoided doing the one thing I really needed to do most- rest. In part I avoided this by accident. I thought it would come when I spent some days house sitting for friends… watching movies, reading books, cooking in a real kitchen, drinking coffee and taking naps. That’s what I really wanted to do. Then I thought I would come back home and spend the second week organizing my stuff (which had gotten out of control during the last quarter of school), read by the pool, swim in the pool… maybe even go to the movie theater a few times…

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Midwinter Nights Walk

It was probably close to 50F when I left Jessica’s house a few hours ago intending to come home and possibly read or knit. The walk from Jessica’s to the house I’m staying is short enough that I almost do not have to experience the weather before I am back inside. Thankfully a light breeze caressed my cheek just halfway home and I took the gesture as an invitation to take a walk. In addition to the nearly warm night air, my tummy was very full from some delicious, spicy dish I had just eaten at Jessica’s.
Add to that a head full of questions, prayers and thoughts, and you have the perfect ingredients for a very good, long walk….

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