Love Affair

It’s Saturday night and I’m just sitting here watching movie trailers. So, the usual. I managed to work in two burritos today, several handfuls of chocolate chips and then a drink with chia seeds to balance out the other things.

I also took this super romantic walk by myself. Well, the dog was kind of with me on the walk. He mostly ran ahead of me and went to the bathroom on stuff. Looking back on that, it’s actually kind of incredible how many times he urinated.

The sky was outrageously complex and emotional. The trees, too, and the yellowed grass edging all of those muddy green fields. Obviously I live in the country. Even living in the country I couldn’t help but resent the signs of life invading all of that beautiful, wild, winter nature. I have this favorite tree, which is crowded by power lines, a mail box, the road, some tacky little spray painted No Trespassing sign. 

When I walk that direction on the road, I look forward to seeing it likes it’s some attractive man I always run into at the grocery store. No, I’m more forward with this tree: I circle it and take photos of it with my cell phone, slowly looking for some angle that captures as much of it’s glory as possible without some ugly man-made object messing things up… Continue reading “Love Affair”

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…. Continue reading “The Joy of Grief”

A Lantern of Hope

Several days ago I asked God to show me how he is working in my life. As you could probably ascertain from my last blog post, I’ve been having a hard time seeing this. Being able to admit what I did in the last post is one of his answers and then something that happened yesterday, which I now share:

All day I was feeling the pointlessness of my existence. This wasn’t situational, necessarily.  It wasn’t a “big day,”  other than the rambling, normal celebration of a friend’s birthday. I had spent all day with these friends chatting, eating, staring off into space, being entertained by their children, taking photos with my cell phone… Continue reading “A Lantern of Hope”

Splendid Spinsterhood

A year ago I was keenly longing for my own place- a kitchen in which to bake, a living room to invite people into,  wall space to hang my prints.

Three months ago I was making detailed plans for getting an RV to live in so that I could have my own home while still being able to travel.

I’m pretty happy staying in guest rooms and sleeping on couches, but at the same time, I find myself mentally decorating some imaginary home of my own. I spend a little time here and there “shopping” for things like area rugs and arm chairs. My dream house is the coolest thing you’ve never seen.

Maybe I talk about this a lot?

If it seems like I’m repeating myself, it’s probably because I’ve been in this flexible state for the last 4 years- not at all what I expected from life so near to 40. While I’m waiting and waiting to find out where “home” is, I learn more and more deeply how comfortable it can be to be homeless…

Continue reading “Splendid Spinsterhood”

My Favorite Ghost

My daughter Sarah is not alive anymore, but sometimes she lives so vividly in my thoughts it’s as though she is alive. But she’s not. It isn’t sad, but it is.

When I’m driving in the car she sits in the back seat and kicks her legs and laughs at something silly I said. Walking down a long hallway, she may skip beside me, she may hold my hand. And sometimes, when I’m sitting in a chair, she gets up into my lap and lays her head on my shoulder for me to pet her hair like I loved to have my mother pet my hair when I was little… Continue reading “My Favorite Ghost”

The Wild Quiet

Going for walks in the morning is like stepping into a fairytale as some sick, old creature. The woods are glittery and towering, decorated with a million invisible strands of web, still drenched by the rainstorm from several days ago. Naturally I listen to music while I walk, and this just adds to the beauty and romance of the trail.

I didn’t appreciate Robert Frost’s poetry until I moved to Warm Beach Camp, but walking through the woods every day from my apartment to the bakeshop, I got to know nature in a much more personal way than I ever had before… Continue reading “The Wild Quiet”

Library of Love

I have fallen so deeply in love with God by studying this weird collection of books called the Bible. I’m not talking about romantic love, but a love that is so, so much better.

Today in class, we finished the Old Testament.

*Pause for applause*

One of our fearless leaders, Scott Frase ended class by playing a slideshow he had made of the 65 books we’ve journeyed through in the last (almost) nine months (they begin the last book this Friday). Each slide was a book title, the main characteristic of God found in that book and then one or two key verses from said book which expressed this characteristic.  Most of us were devouring each slide and responding with tears to see what an epic story we have been immersed in for so long. (Maybe I was the only one crying?)

It was as moving as I’m sure the picture slideshows will be when we finally graduate these beloved students in two weeks. 

When any of our teachers finish their last lecture, it is SBS tradition to shower them with encouragement and prayer. For guest speakers, this happens soon after we meet them, but for those of us on staff with this school, we finish our last teaching near the end of a very long time together.

I was really struck today by a comment one of the students made to Scott as she expressed her appreciation and love for him. She talked about how, before coming to the school she’d had such a close relationship with God and she had feared that studying the Bible academically would suck the life right out of that relationship. It was a real battle for her and for several other students, but to Scott she said, “I thought I had to choose between knowledge of God or intimacy with God, but every time you teach, you show me I can have both.”  … Continue reading “Library of Love”

Being Here

What I’ve really be thinking about this week is God’s love. I’m stuck on this topic because not only is it taking this long for me to grasp it, but I’m starting to think it may be the only truly necessary topic.

Yesterday at the end of a lecture on the book of Ecclesiastes, Angela wanted us to spend time sharing what we had learned about God’s character this year. She connected this thought to the question that, since life is meaningless without God (vanity, vanity!) how does knowing him give life meaning?

What I’ve been learning about God in the last few years has to do, first of all, with the message of the Bible as a whole. Big picture- God’s desire is to dwell with man. Time and again, we make a mess of things and time and again He steps in to set things right. But this “dwelling” isn’t just about cohabitation- it’s not just about the Most Holy Place or about Jesus coming to earth, or even, ultimately about our final hope of living in His heavenly mansion. The Being Together that God wants is a kind of active presence that I’m just barely able to wrap my mind around.

You know how some people are always someplace else, even when they are with you? Their eyes are looking, not at you as you talk with them, but far away and they merely nod their head in rhythm with the tune of your words. Then there are others who are so present that you actually feel heard. Their eyes pierce into you and they respond to what you’re saying with insightful questions, laughter, tears. They are with you and completely present… Continue reading “Being Here”

My Soul Is In The Sky

I’m still not entirely used to the sunshine in Colorado. It has been extremely cold and snowing for weeks, but still, when I walked through the building this morning at 7am and saw the cheerful, pink and gold glow of the morning, my heart leaped as if it were summer.

It was overcast for several days in a row and my mind quickly returned to Seattle expectations. I remember one year, growing up, when it was overcast for 90 days in a row. You can take it several ways, really- it can be a cozy shelter from the universe that allows you to wear sweaters and drink your coffee and read your books. Or, the grey ceiling can sit on your  shoulders, while the wet cold seeps into your lungs and your heart.

The older that I get, the heavier an overcast sky becomes. Which is why on days like today when I’m up early and there are numerous tasks to accomplish, I’m so grateful for how lavishly God pours out the sun on Colorado Springs.

It won’t make everything easy, but like good smells and delicious food, it sure won’t make it harder.

Trauma Brilliance

Some of the best moments of marriage to my ex husband were the weeks following our daughter’s death.

I won’t say that they were the only good moments, because that would just not be true, but they were some of our best.

The day of Sarah’s birth and death, we were both some kind of mighty beings. After all, I pushed a human being out of my body with no drugs and after over 24hrs of not eating or sleeping and undergoing unbelievable amounts of physical pain. I actually had burst blood vessels in my eyes and when she was finally on the outside of me, they laid her gooey, curled up body onto my chest and I thought, “Huh. That’s a baby.”

I guess it was exhaustion induced ambivalence.

It didn’t take long, though before indifference turned to wonder. Drained and bleary wonder.

We were, I think, too tired to do anything that day but obey whatever was happening each moment… Continue reading “Trauma Brilliance”

The Ocean Floor

Music is an incredible gift that I don’t entirely understand, but I do embrace.

Just now as I was trying to start this post several different ways, I realized that I often link thoughts with songs in a conceptual way that doesn’t always involve matching words. My last attempt at an “opening” sounded like something banged out on a harmonica in the Appalachian Mountains.

Noting this, I then realized that the whole purpose for sitting down to write a post was because God gave me a cool gift last night through a series of songs and this is what I wanted to share.

Maybe I’m not making sense?

Okay, so this weekend I was sick. Weird sick. A combination of several things that piled up and kept me in bed sleeping for many hours. Monday I was still not well, but I decided that if I couldn’t work, at least I could spend the day with God in a purposeful way. I sat in a cozy armchair for many hours with my journal, a big bottle of water (still sick, remember) and a roll of toilette paper (for my nose). I listened to Rich Mullins, I asked God real questions and waited for his response… Continue reading “The Ocean Floor”

Heart as a House

Something I discovered last year stays true today; breakdown leads to breakthrough. After the crying moments I experienced last week, there has been so much more peace.

This week God gave me a picture of something really beautiful concerning these dark places in my heart that I had noticed but wasn’t sure what to do with. Bear with me while I give some back story: In 2003 there were several times when my heart was likened to a house. At the time the house was shut up tight. Blinds down, door locked. It was pretty cozy in the living room area with a fire in the fire place, but no one was getting in there with me. Two other pictures of this house that year involved my struggle with depression and that soon I would stand up from a slump I had been experiencing.
Then several years later I was dealing with some issues I had with food and had a mental picture of that same house with a big, hungry monster in the basement. Insatiable, demanding and grown out of a desire to protect myself from pain.

I’ve been walking out some awesome healing this year. I have been finding more and more how God really will satisfy my needs…. and that most of those needs come down to a need for love. This is so good and feels a little bit like learning how to fly…. Continue reading “Heart as a House”

The Greatest of These

Obedience and disobedience.

It wasn’t until I was talking to a friend the other day that I realized something really good has shifted in my heart and mind concerning obedience. It goes along with the post I made about dancing or being a dog.

I went through this period of time last year when I felt like I kept hearing God telling me to do the most seemingly insignificant, in-the-moment things. While I had been longing to hear him constantly and obey him always, this almost felt like micro managing.

Typing that out it sounds like I’m complaining about God. The truth is… I felt annoyed. It seemed like being followed around by someone who was constantly correcting and judging me.

And I wrestled with this. I didn’t want to ask God to leave me alone! That’s the very last thing I want to ask God. And I didn’t want to tell God he was annoying me. Can you imagine?

Was it even God?… Continue reading “The Greatest of These”

That Surpasses Knowledge

I keep being brought back to Ephesians 3:14-19:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Here is where it showed up yesterday; I attended the wedding of my friends Rachel and Taylor. I didn’t just attend, I was also the photographer. This pertains to the story at hand in that I had a very unique view of the ceremony. A normal guest at a wedding sits in a seat and sees the whole thing from one vantage point. As the photographer I got all up in that ceremony. I was behind the bridesmaids, standing in the aisle, crouching, getting on my tippy toe (not easy since I have a healing sprain on one ankle and was wearing a walking cast). I pretended I was invisible (and tried my best to move quietly and smoothly) and even managed to creep behind the officiant and the bridal couple in the middle of the vows (I needed to see the bride’s face!!). This alone makes me want to photograph more weddings. Can you imagine if all the guests got up and just wandered around to see every angle at a wedding?!

But that’s only on the way to what I mean to say…. Continue reading “That Surpasses Knowledge”

To Build a Home

I’m grateful to realize that the story I’m about to share has already been shared with several friends in person. Living in Colorado and being so busy has made that a  near impossibility for the last year. I forgot what it was like to get to share a story so many times out loud that it gains something vital in each telling.

To begin, please imagine you hear swelling, dramatic music

I’ll start with age 17 when I felt called to be a missionary. I thought that meant I should go to Bible college and although I didn’t actually need to go to college, God used that year at Moody Bible Institute to work a lot into my life. After failing horribly in my classes and feeling horrible for a good, long year, God led me to an organization called YWAM (Youth With A Mission). I did a DTS (Discipleship Training School) for 6 months in 2003 and had a real experience in missions. During that time I came to the realization that what I really needed was a real home and community in the USA  from which to be sent.

I had no idea how to find a home, let alone how to become a meaningful part of community…. Continue reading “To Build a Home”