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… Continue reading “Party Pooper”
Life is on the verge of transition. I’m not speaking existentially for all, but specifically for myself. This coming week will be the end of a long and full season with the School of Biblical Studies. All of the celebrations will occur, students will graduate, millions of photos will be taken with strings of people side hugging and smiling, epic recap videos will be cried over, mini speeches will be made.
I pan out that way to invite you in to the universal themes of hard won victories and deeply forged friendships.
On a more personal level, I hate goodbyes.
Let’s be clear, many stages of life and relationship are difficult. I was talking with a friend earlier today and she expressed how much easier it is to be in our mid 30’s than it was to be in our 20’s, and yet emotions never seem to lose their vivid colors. We are much more likely to laugh together over a mistake than to cry alone, but mistakes still require the getting back up part. I’m not quite an old lady yet, but getting back up requires a bit more effort now than at 21… Continue reading “Like It Or Not”
People have told me many times that I have a unique view of the world. Sometimes this means I’m the only one laughing at my own jokes. Other times it leads to misunderstanding, when I don’t notice or I don’t understand commonly held expectations or viewpoints.
For that reason, something that’s pretty important to me is viewing people as individuals.
Although I certainly fall into several categories, the thing that will be most offensive (and possibly hurtful) to me is if someone shoves me into a category as a way of dealing with me.
I seek, as much as I can, to let people be who they are. I do not always do this well. Sometimes I fail miserably.
Lately I’ve had several encounters which cause me to notice one of my categories with the eyes of our culture.
That category is, The Single Woman.
I’m going to share a list of ways that I do not fit what is commonly believed concerning this category. I know other women who do fit these expectations. There are also ways that I fit into the category that other women do not.
In no particular order… Continue reading “All the Single Ladies”
A Killing Silence: and why you shouldn’t keep it to yourself
Guest Post by Ruth
I found out last week that a college friend of mine, now a pastor and father of two, killed himself. The reasons he left in his suicide note were vague. When I first heard the news my immediate thought was, “What could have been so bad that you would leave behind a wife and two children?” I could come up with nothing.
And then I got mad because I realized that my friend had been lied to, by who I didn’t know, but he believed that there WAS something bad enough.
This realization made me want to run to the top of the nearest hill and ask my friends to gather so I could tell them and God all my sins, all my dark thoughts, and hidden pain. I wanted to purge myself. But how often do we really do this? How often do we say, out loud, the things that could kill us if they are not brought to light?
Two days later, my friend Peggy, sent me an invitation to say “hard stuff” on her blog and I knew immediately it was in invitation to say the things that I keep in dark corners. While I am angry about the lies we believe and keep us trapped, I still find it hard to say the things that will expose my weaknesses, my sins. I find it’s best to take a deep breath and then make a list. This will be the opposite of a list I would post on Facebook… Continue reading “A Killing Silence”
Lately I have been a real mess. Not a quirky, things-will-come-out-right-in-the-end kind of mess, either. A gross and ugly mess that you’re sure will yield rotting surprises. I have seriously questioned my mental health and the wisdom of even interacting with other humans. My heart and mind have been dark and confusing. Even just last night, all of the worst lies came out to taunt me as I tried to go to sleep.
When I woke up (after very little sleep) I felt that same raw and twisty anxiety, but as I sat down to spend some time with God, he came quickly in just the way I needed. He didn’t soothe me with “No, everyone really loves you, it’s okay,” but instead pointed me to how incredibly faithful he is, has been and will continue to be. I think it’s only after I recognize how big and good he is that I am able to feel comforted by what he then says about who I am.
Then, at the end of class today I had a good dose of “hindsight” as I finished up my last teaching in the School of Biblical Studies.
What I got to see at the end of my teaching is how all the things that God spoke about this season before it happened (this season being my involvement with SBS since the beginning of 2012) have taken place… Continue reading “A Plan to Lose it All”
Raise your hand if you want to talk about loneliness!
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… Continue reading “Existential Absence”
I hear the phrase “fear of man” pretty often among the people with whom I spend most of my time.
Sometimes, unfortunately, phrases like this begin to lose their meaning for me when they’ve been used too often. I understand them less and less in any practical fashion and they slide past me unnoticed in the daily barrage of words.
Then one day someone will talk about one of these realities without using the common phrase and suddenly I am struck with the truth and given a much needed heart check… Continue reading “Land Mines”
I’m not doing well with words lately. Every time I’ve tried to speak it’s felt like pulling frozen taffy.
Yesterday morning I talked to a good friend of mine who is in Ireland. Somehow she said all of the things I’ve been trying (and failing) to say for the last few weeks.
I’ve been asking God some big questions recently and while waiting to hear back from him, I’ve gotten trapped under a huge pile of words and emotions. It hasn’t been pretty. What I know about God speaking is that he usually does it quickly. Nevertheless, I have this sense of waiting on him.
There’s something of Romans 7-8 in all of my personal struggles. Usually, the first half of any hard time consists of me wrestling with myself and losing. At some point I remember the character of God and I’m encouraged to stop looking at myself and start looking at him. This is when I move into chapter 8 of Romans and I begin (again) to believe that he is good and that in my total weakness, he is strong and loving.
And Paul’s questions are the real thing, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
I also read yesterday, “The moment you realize that God wants good for you more than you want good for yourself, is the moment that you let go.” – Adam Smith
It’s not to say that everything will be easy, but there is real and solid peace involved in struggling with instead of against God. He is so good, so loving and so much bigger than everything we face… even when what we face is our own selves.
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”
This morning my Facebook update said,
“The morning after your ex husband convinces you to sign up for an online dating service. Like buyers remorse only a lot weirder.”
I realize there are several things about that sentence that are strange.
So yes, I hung out with my ex (or, as I like to call him, my former husband) yesterday for the first time in two years. There is no handbook on the ways to go from married to divorced to friends, but there are probably few who could or should do this. Our situation is special for reasons that I won’t share here, but you’re welcome to ask me about in person.
It was so good to catch up with him, to be like friends again. We live very different lives now, but are still family.
And, like family, we chatted about stuff like jobs, challenges, joys and dating. The last was a short story on my part because I don’t really date. He asked if I’d ever tried online dating and I said it had never occurred to me to even consider. So he gave me the skinny. The down-low. And I thought, “Huh. Why not?”
It was interesting last night to fill out a profile and answer questions.
But then…. Continue reading “Confessions of Single Woman”
The Christmas season is upon us. I think I’m finally beginning to reclaim some joy for this season. It’s amazing what an idyllic childhood of Christmases will do to hinder and taint your attempts to enjoy the holiday as a single adult.
Christmases past are perfect in my memory and all of that had to do with my mom.She was way better than Santa Claus. Most of the year she was pretty stressed with work and taking care of three girls on her own, but at Christmas time she was the Happiest Little Elf version of herself. Her happiness would spill over to her three daughters in a way that caused us to fight less and love more. The weekend after Thanksgiving she would pull out the boxes and the whole house would be transformed. A stack of the best Christmas records would sit on the record player and when they had played through we would just flip them all over and start again.
As the youngest in the house, I always got up first on Christmas morning. Sometime around age 7 or 8 I crept down the hall before daylight and there in the living room, in the magical glow of the Christmas tree lights, sat a shiny, red bicycle. I knew it was for me. After gaping at it for a few seconds, I slipped into my mom’s room to wake her up. Before I said anything, her sleepy voice came from under covers, “I missed The Face.” Of course she meant the face I made when I saw that glorious bike, so I replayed it for her…. Continue reading “Holiday Equilibrium”
Lately I’ve been finding (and needing) such deep encouragement from friends. A few days ago I posted about an email from one friend and last night I had a really life giving conversation with another friend who was willing to just dive right into my inner mess.
Sometimes I hesitate to post about messy stuff because I don’t want to give the impression that I’m not doing well. One thing my good friend reminded me of on the phone last night was that I am usually more honest than is socially normal. So why would I avoid talking about feeling down?
Partly I’ve been avoiding it because I haven’t had time to understand it and find words that fit. It’s only those who especially love me who are able to sit through the words that don’t fit while I find the ones that do.
This morning I listened to a sermon by Tim Keller, The Wounded Spirit. He uses several verses from the book of Proverbs to talk about the many varied reasons why a person might feel crushed in spirit and what might be done about it.
Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” This well describes what has been going on recently, but there is also much more… Continue reading “If I Find My Way”
Sometimes I talk really loud. Sometimes I say The Wrong Thing too loud in The Wrong Place.
You probably never do this.
Those of you who walk around using your European voices (that’s what I call it when people speak at quieter decibels), you may not understand that sometimes – just sometimes – my volume control gets all wobbly and turned way up and I don’t notice until it’s too late.
For example, the other day I was hanging out at the pool with some friends. I have friends. There’s this pool. We hung out. No big deal…. Continue reading “Voices Carry”
I had dinner this evening with friends to talk about the work they are doing to mobilize people toward missions.
Two definitions of the word mobilize are:
1. (of a country or its government) prepare and organize (troops) for active service, and
2. make (something) movable or capable of movement.
Those two definitions together could well describe their hearts for the body of Christ.
While we talked I was reminded of what “mobilized” me, so many years ago to get involved with missions. It started with a message from a guest speaker one Sunday in church. He talked about The Cost Of Discipleship. He related our current lives to the lives of the disciples who walked with Jesus- what they gave up, what they gave their lives for and to… I was hit square in the chest with the desire to give my whole life, my whole self to God.
A week or so later I went to a concert held in Seattle and put on by an organization called Operation Mobilization. When the wiry and passionate George Verwer got up to speak about missions, it was like he was opening the door to the thing I had already begun to long after:
A radical life lived with and for a radical God…. Continue reading “Rise”
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.
no images were found
* 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!”… Continue reading “Good Time Gal”