Existential Absence

Raise your hand if you want to talk about loneliness!

No?

Me neither. In fact, until this morning I would have responded to the topic with a smile and shrug. “I’m not dealing with that issue right now.” For a few weeks now I’ve had that thought several times, to my own surprise. Who doesn’t feel lonely sometimes?

Apparently not me. Cool.

Then this morning, as I was beginning to question this unexpected sturdiness, I opened up the book I’m reading, The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen. In the chapter, Ministry by a Lonely Minister he talks about loneliness as a gift, he looks back at loneliness and says, “The truth is so disconcerting and painful that we are more prone to play games with your fantasies than to face the truth of our existence.” He also throws out a few things we do to avoid loneliness and, reading this, I realized I haven’t been craving people because I’ve been keeping myself so busy. Work, books, movies… even cooking and cleaning keep me distracted…

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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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Better Than I Deserve

I‘ve been wanting to write this post for a few weeks, but I am not sure how to word it so that it conveys the joy, gratitude, elation, and shock I feel.

Last year while studying so constantly I went without a lot of things. In fact, there was one point when I didn’t have enough money to buy food and when I asked God what was up with this,

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he said, “I want you to be hungry.”
I was hungry most of last year. Hungry for a lot more than just food; hungry for a sense of home, for clothes (everything had holes), for technology that didn’t break down all of the time, for people to share what I was learning with…. there were a lot of things I was hungry for last year.

At the beginning of this year God began to teach me how to really receive his love. Maybe I should have known this already? Maybe it will take all of my life? Wherever you stand on this idea of receiving love, it seems to be something that I’m often learning, but this year it has been much more concentrated….

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Crisis of Faith

What is a crisis of faith? To me a crisis of faith is any time anything (circumstances, ideas, people, desires, etc) challenges my current beliefs. When my beliefs are challenged I must wrestle with all of it and either see how the challenge really does work inside of what I believe or I have to adjust my beliefs.

It sounds pretty basic, but it’s hardly ever a fun experience.

I remember once I was sitting in a shared room with my friend Jessica. We were on vacation, we were young and we were up super late talking about the mysteries of the Universe, or men, or both. At some point one of us suggested, “What if we don’t actually exist?” What followed was both frightening and hilarious (in retrospect). Both of us could almost feel the floor of the room slide away revealing a black, sucking chasm beneath us. Although it couldn’t have actually happened this way, my memory shows the situation to me like we were both actually hanging onto the beds for dear life as the room rocked back and forth and objects began to disappear….

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Good Time Gal

Every time I come home to Western Washington I have a few fears that tangle up in my hair and gently squeeze my heart muscle.

* I will miss something/someone.

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* I will run into an old version of myself and forget who I have become (am becoming).
* I won’t be able to leave when it’s time to go back to Colorado.
* I will get sick (it has happened the last 3 times). It is, after all, the land of mold.

Just before coming home this time, I asked the staff at the YWAM base in Co Springs prayed for me. Also, I was just honest with God about my fears and hopes and I laid all of those down and said, “Do what You want! You are good!”…

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As You Loved Me

Do you ever wonder what Paul was like in person? Until I actually studied the New Testament as a whole I pictured him so pious and judgmental. After reading all of his letters and really considering what his life looked like, it’s impossible to remember how I got to those assumptions about him.

I do remember being vastly comforted  by the book of 2 Corinthians. I felt he must have been writing to people like me. When I discovered that the Corinthians were actually super critical of Paul, the humility with which he wrote becomes a hundred times greater. Standing in the face of those who say you are weak and explaining how much deeper your weakness goes than they could ever know… Well.. it has shown me what a deep trust and love Paul had for Jesus; how much his identity was based not on what men thought of him, but based solely on what the Father had done for him….

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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….

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With Feeling

Every once in a while I imagine I can reach higher than I’m meant to on my own.

Yesterday in worship we were singing something about God’s glory coming down to us. Sometimes I worry that what we’re all looking for is just a feeling… just the power and not the person. So I was praying something really spiritual to God about wanting what he wants more than I want to have an experience… I want his real presence more than I want to just feel something. Maybe that’s not all that spiritual, but it was heartfelt enough.

Usually when I ask God for something I will automatically picture what it could look like for him to answer ‘yes’ to my prayer. Sometimes the picture I get causes me to modify my prayer.
And so as I pictured what it could look like to not feel God’s presence or experience him somehow with my senses, I realized that although it could prove I had a lot of faith, it would require a lot of grace from him to live that way. I’m just human and I am strongly influenced by my emotions and experiences. The truth is I do want to feel God’s presence, I do want to know he is near with my senses and I do trust him when I don’t feel him.

We love you God! Thank you for loving us. You know better than we do what we need! Help us to know you better today.

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Here With Me

For a while now I have been feeling… for lack of a better word… desperate. This isn’t the only thing I’ve been feeling but it has been a pervasive emotion. This morning I woke up early, my will overpowering the desire I had to just keep sleeping and while I was going about my usual routine to get ready I was mentally standing before God with my shoulders bowed and my hands lifted up.

“Help.”

“Help me, God.”

“Be here, God.”

This prayer to ask God to “be here” is a little funny because where is he not? Every time I pray this (and I pray it a lot), I end up amending my prayer to say, “God, give me the grace to be here with you.”….

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Letter to a Monster

Watching a city burn in front of your eyes is so different than watching it on the news.

We are evacuated from the actual burning areas, of course, but we can see it from a distance, from roadways and houses. We can smell the smoke constantly and see ash covering cars, feel it pushing into lungs.

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We are refugees living  a few miles from home in a borrowed bed. A run to target for some underwear and a toothbrush.

And we’re just waiting. Waiting for the fire to get tired of its cruel game. Waiting for it to run out of breath and give up. We thought it would give up so much quicker. Sunday we were sure it would never reach town and we felt so much gratitude that no structures had been touched. Monday we were surprised to see it still going strong and we felt, too, a little exasperated…

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