big red.

i need to process tonight. chew the meat, spit out the bones. no part of it might make sense to you, but it all fits together for me, anyway. i find that i’m writing more for me, like a journal, than for anyone else these days. i’m glad to offer what i have to you, but mostly i’m giving what i can to myself these days. feeding my own soul with my own hands.

seriously, only, like 7 people are reading my blog right now. i’m not on facebook, save for the five minutes i got on last week to sell something (actually, the big red furniture mentioned later) and thought, “no, no, no, this feels bad and i don’t want to be here and it’s wasting me, no, no, no”. i’m not doing anything to drive any traffic here. when i keep things right-sized, save for the 7 people who keep reading my words (thank you, by the way), i realize i can afford to just write without edit for me right now. forever, for now. hopefully.

i came home tonight and made an egg salad sandwich. i’m trying to be all paleo, no grains and all, but i just wanted an egg salad like my mom used to make so that’s what i did and i will make one for tomorrow’s lunch. the last thing my fat extra-curvy but still-beautiful body needs right now is bread, even the gluten-free kind, but it’s what i wanted so it’s what i did.

i went to two meetings today, my regular morning one and what is becoming a semi-regular afternoon one.

i’m listening to prairie home companion from my kitchen, aired a few weeks ago, but originally broadcast in 1985 from the ryman. nashville is still my favorite place, or at least the next place i want to live.

“only buy what you need today, only get what you can afford,” i kept hearing myself say in my own voice in my own head at my whole foods, but not my normal whole foods. it was an encouraging voice, a kind one, one that spoke in fullness and not poverty. it felt good to hear myself say it to myself, to not spend money that i don’t have because i’m afraid of not having enough. i bought just what i need, and have plenty of raw to last the next few days because that’s only as long as raw really lasts.

tonight i sent a message to a new friend and said, “just want you to know you haven’t do anything wrong.” and then went on to say, as nicely as i could, that i needed him to leave me alone. basically. that’s not what i said, actually. but that’s how it feels now. he was understanding. in fact, he kinda acted like it was his idea. that’s fine. let it be. for me, i just needed to be honest and true to myself. the silent treatment isn’t very grown-up. for me, it’s fear. i can speak up for myself, and state what i need, ask for what i want. my therapist says i’m not responsible for someone else’s (lack of) boundaries, but i am very responsible for mine. it’s my duty to draw and maintain my boundaries. i am learning. my thought process in sending it to him was that i didn’t want to have to make an amends to him later for ignoring him, when all i really needed to do was be honest. i appreciate his kindness and understanding, and he really is a nice guy.

in light of this…

when my plane was descending into houston the other night, without meaning to, i suddenly started thinking about my next fourth step…and then my fifth and sixth and seventh steps. i dropped out of my program when i was right around steps 6 and 7, which means i’ve basically been living into my defects for the last few (or 5) years. i think i kind of did step 3 on my own last week, but i respect my sponsor and the program and myself enough not to jump ahead of her, and will wait until we meet this weekend to talk about step three, which is the step of surrender.

so, when i was about 18 minutes from hitting the ground, i started for no real good reason loosely examining my past relationships since the last time i did my fourth and fifth steps. for the first time, i became very, very honest with myself about my own part, which is what the fourth step is: with all the courage one can find, he or she takes a searching and fearless moral inventory of his or her self. this step kind of sucks, actually, but it’s a gift. the thing is, what i hope you can get, is that this isn’t god’s way of punishing or picking on us. if you do the steps in proper order, each one is another step toward freedom. and i want all the freedom that i can have. the first time i did my fourth and fifth steps (5 is to tell someone and god everything you wrote down on step 4, which is exactly as scary and exhilarating as it sounds), i covered every shameful, wrong or bad thing i had ever done, to the best of my memory, to that point. i think i talked about this here years ago. that was the first and last time i did a fourth and fifth step. i’ve had other relationships and hurt different friends since getting sober. there are two or three other categories you make in your fourth step, but honestly i can’t even remember what either of them are other than the sex/relationship one.

and this is the one i was thinking about when my plane was landing.

just because one stops drinking doesn’t stop one from acting badly. but that’s the gift of the sixth and seventh steps, which are the lists that come as a result of the fourth and fifth steps. because, the thing is, the behavior is just stupid shit that all alcoholics – all humans, really – do. the reason why we do these things is because of our character defects, and that’s the thing we want to address in doing all of this. we want to be free from our past and our secrets, but we ultimately want freedom from the things – in my case, lots and lots of fear, mostly – that makes us do the stupid things that we do or have done.

read up on all of that if you want to, what happened to me in seat 1A is that i suddenly was struck by my own victimization, codependency and just plain wrong thinking. i didn’t let myself get stuck on all of this, though, because a.) i wasn’t physically set-up to deal with it in the moment; b.) i’m not on these steps yet, and trust my sponsor to help determine my best course of action, as laid out by the steps that are already in the right order for good reasons; and, c.) i was about to see the cutest nephew and niece in all the land, and just didn’t want anything in the world to take away from me seeing and spending time with them, and it didn’t. once i landed, other than not being able to exit properly from bush international, i was not distracted by one single thing while there. i was fully present the whole time i was there, and loved every moment.

it didn’t suck to look at myself. it was good to finally get that honest. i’m pretty self-aware, and only become moreso. it’s not like i was surprised, but it was always easier to point the finger than to stand in front of the mirror and take a good, long, hard look at myself. at any given point, i have known these things were true of myself without actually owning my part -that is, my actions- as a result of these things -that is, my defects- being true of myself. does that make sense? so i wasn’t thinking all these thoughts for the first time, just took the glasses off so i could see them all more clearly. i was finally taking ownership for my own part in each of these very similar exact same relationships. this isn’t to say that i was the only one to blame or at fault, but i wasn’t considering at all their part, just my own -only my own- this time, for the first time. it was right and good, and will be a good set-up for these steps to take place as they’re supposed to over the next few weeks or months. takes as long as it takes. i’ll be ready and prepared for taking whatever action my sponsor suggests, with god’s help. and i know that i will experience a new freedom and a new happiness as a result.

it feels really good to be back in a recovery program, y’all. i wish everyone could have one, but that would mean you’d have to have a reason to find one, and i wouldn’t wish that part on anyone.

there was one relationship i’ve been talking about it in therapy this summer as i’ve finally thawed out from that thing that happened and then unhappened. in fact, i don’t mind telling you…but kind of i do mind, and this might be another one of those posts that i post and then hide because i’m not ready to share it yet…i’m doing a therapy intensive tomorrow called EMDR. have you heard of it? i can’t even tell you what it is, to be honest with you. i’m just doing what i’m told and going with it.

i just let out a big sigh.

that’s why all of this. i knew it at the beginning of this post, but needed to get it all out in order to get here. to actually know, or to see if anything else came up as i peel away the layers of my anxiety onion. the egg salad sandwich, and the nerves today, and the two meetings, and the other store, not mine…as angsty as i am, i guess it’s also a signal that this is a really good thing i’m going to do for myself. i don’t really even know what EMDR is, but i’ve had enough inner healing intensives to trust my therapist that this will be, hopefully, a final step toward freedom from the trauma of that thing that happened and then unhappened, but for the grace of god. it’s why i was on edge today, because i know tomorrow will be great and hard. i know god will use it to make me more free, but i will have to go back to that place and i am terrified now to relive it. i know i will be safe tomorrow when all of this goes down, and it’s probably a good thing for me to recognize that this is all what i’m feeling right now, but i will likely be on edge until i get there tomorrow afternoon.

and i sense the spirit saying, “beloved, it’s okay. i love you. you are safe. i was with you then, i am with you now, and i will carry you through this tomorrow.”

last wednesday morning, i dropped my mom off at the airport and then went about my regular wednesday, which has been my longest day this summer. i see my wellness coach right after work, who then teaches the yoga class i asked him to start, and then head to therapy. had i not taken my mom to the airport, i would have started my day with my morning meeting. (my meetings were my mom’s favorite part of her visit, by the way.) there really wasn’t much to unpack with my therapist from my mom’s visit. we really had a special time, which i know is in large part due to the gifts of recovery and only by the grace of god, which is only to say i can’t do anything at all on my own without his help or surrendering to my need of him and i’m tired of trying to do it all on my own.

so i didn’t have much to share with her, not really. but because i’m only as sick as my secrets and in the interest of full disclosure, i told her how when it came close to my mom coming, i went out and bought living room furniture on credit because at the time i didn’t have two nickels to rub together. since i moved into my very cute apartment last summer, i had been babysitting some friends’ couches, and the arrangement was that they would get their couches back when they got married, which was earlier this summer. i was fine to live without living room furniture for a while, but wanted my mom to, you know, have a place to sit while i was laid up in the bed after my procedure, which i was for not much time at all.

so i bought couches.

on credit.

ugh.

anyway.

they are huge, too huge, and 100% leather and very nice and comfortable and red. when i saw them at first, i loved them but left the store thinking i had no business being in there and move on, sister.

later i thought to myself, “next time, just pretend like the building is on fire and just RUN”.

so i did, i moved on.

and then i went back.

and i got a deal that really wasn’t a deal for me, though i’m sure it would have been a deal for someone. the best deal i could have made would have been to JUST SAY NO.

in fact, at the time, i wasn’t sure if it was nerves or god who said, “don’t do it”. i heard it, but i chalked it up to nerves and did it, anyway.

this happened ten days or so before my mom came. it is reasonable that i would need and it is fine that i would have furniture, i just didn’t have any business buying any at the time.

because when my mom came and we went antiquing the day after my procedure, we both immediately flipped out over an english antique love-seat that was just meant to be mine, and at an affordable price.

we went back about 3 other times after that to look at it, but because i had this ginormous, beautiful, new set in my living room, we couldn’t justify buying it.

finally, the last time we went to look at it, before we got there, i said out loud to god and my mom, “lord, i’m sorry. i repent. i messed up. i know you’re not mad at me, but i know i heard you tell me not to buy that ginormous furniture, and i did it anyway and i’m sorry, lord. pleeeeaaaase have mercyyyyy on meeeee.” and i heard the father’s laughter in my heart, saying, “beloved, i’m not mad at you, and i’m going to sell that furniture for you. it just complicated things that you didn’t wait, but i’m going to take care of it for you. i knew that this was the piece i wanted you to have all along. if you had waited just two weeks, we wouldn’t be in this situation. but, don’t worry. i’ve got it covered.” and i know that he does. in fact, when we went back in there, we made a layaway arrangement because i know i’ll sell this ginormous red furniture at some point.

and you know what else? we became friends, of course, with the owner of the shop and in one split second when i turned my head, i thought, “i wonder if she needs help in here…” and as soon as i turned around, she said, “would you want to come help me in here?”

but here’s the gift of the situation, and what my therapist made sure i knew when i was telling it to her. because i’m keeping myself right-sized these days, and living from a place of worthiness, i didn’t beat myself up over the couch-thing, and haven’t. it’s a mistake that a lot of people make, and it’s not a big deal that i made it, too. i know god is going to help me take care of it, both in selling these gigantic couches and paying for them until i do. i know he’s not mad at me. he’s not thinking, “ugh! you doofus!” he’s delighting in me, even in this.

my therapist seemed to think this was a really big deal that these are my thoughts on the whole matter.

in fact, it is.

i know that it is.

i didn’t shame myself, or even guilt myself. it’s not something i have to keep secret. it’s just something that happened, and it’s just not a big deal. of course there are consequences because there always are, but it’s not because god is punishing me. it’s just because that’s the way that it is.

and that thing that happened and then unhappened?

it’s also something that just happened, and it’s not a big deal. yes, i’m still walking toward freedom from it, and pursuing further healing, and i do have to continue to be patient with myself. the goal, though, is that i would no longer continue repeating the same relationship mistakes again and again because GOOD GOD. but not because of them anymore, but because of me. i’m the common denominator in each of those relationships. the other goal? that i can forgive myself, accept all of my human-ness, let myself off the hook, take care of my business, and then move on.

in looking at who i was in each of those relationships, and in victimizing myself, i painted an unfair picture of each of them in my heart and mind. (by the way, in the 7 years and 8 months and some weeks and some days that i’ve been sober, i’ve had only a handful of relationships. i am speaking specifically of these in this post. these steps, however, also cover friendships or even acquaintances in which i allowed my disease, which is dominated entirely by fear, get in the way of how well i treated people.) it especially breaks my heart that i would paint them unfairly publicly because i was unwilling to fully admit my own wrongs. some, yes. a little bit, maybe. but not all, not fully. (because it has been said of me over and over and over again that i over-apologize for myself way too much, i again want to reiterate that i do not mean to suggest that they didn’t have a part, it’s just not my job to point it out and i’m sorry i did that. i’m sorry, too, that in pointing out their part i absolved myself from fully examining my own.) these guys were – are – just human beings, too. there was nothing wrong with them, or even me. we both, for the time i dated each of them, were just trying to figure it out together and do right by each other and it just didn’t work out because sometimes it just doesn’t work out. and that’s what happens and it’s not a big deal. not every boyfriend is meant to be the one, and everyone until the one is going to become an ex sooner or later. for the first time, i have more compassion on them and on me and i’m sorry i wasn’t working my program in a healthier way or that i didn’t hold them up better in the light of god, as his children. i made them look bad by presenting my pain while i was pretending to no longer be bitter. i know better than to build resentments or create a case for myself. while i’m fully owning my part in my notebook and in my crooked little perfect heart, i wouldn’t be protecting myself to share any of that here. but when the time comes, when my sponsor and i get to those steps, i will be ready and i will so happily and willingly reach out to make whatever amends are mine to make.

egg salad, big red couches, therapy…all of it goes together somehow.

gotta run. i’m chairing my meeting in the morning and need to go to bed.

xo

bona.

So here’s a funny thing:

I came to my coffee shop tonight -one of them, anyway- to finish an assignment. I am weeks behind in my one class -just one- I am taking this summer, online, and I also have a big research paper to pull together for this class by semester’s end, in just a few short weeks now. Somehow – I don’t know how, but for the grace of God – but somehow, I will manage to finish. Strong? Eh. I just want to finish and not get in my own way of doing so.

My Mom was here for a week, and on the day she left my sister and I found a ticket for me to come down there, the only state lower than mine, to visit for the weekend and I leave tomorrow night.

Weeks behind. I’ve been weeks behind since the class started. Always, I am behind. Because I am a perfectionist. I am learning, though, and letting go and learning to let go. I am becoming kinder, gentler, nicer to myself and the best I can do is the best I can do and I do pretty good work in my own opinion with no reason to doubt they think so, too. “They”, being my those with letters already after the name, letters they hard-earned, too.

Tonight over Chinese food, which we of course made certain would be gluten and soy free and I treated because of the one-armed man, she said, “You know what my perfectionism got me? A B.” And it’s true. That is exactly, laughably, what my perfectionism yields, too.

I am not lazy; I believe in doing hard work for good grades and earning the grade, whatever it is, I deserve. Please do not hand over an “A”, I will squirm. And I want to prove my aptitude by committing to all the reading, so much reading, every bit the reading, OH MY GOSH ALL THE READING…and I love all the work and the reading. It makes me feel and come alive, even as it teases and taunts and daunts me that it must be done, I’m the only one who can do my own work…but God just says in my knower – that is, my heart now, because that’s the only knower I know – “I love you. Do your best. Thank you for your faithfulness. Also, don’t miss the rest of all of this life I have for you. And you can do it, you really can, because I gave you the brains and all you need to do this thing I’ve asked you to do, even though you don’t believe me that it’s true.” I procrastinate because I want perfection, even though I really do know better. Y’all, I promise I know better. Really, I know better.

And so then I end up in my coffee shop -one of them, anyway- on the night before I leave for a long weekend to head down to the only state south-er than mine here in the middle of the country (that is, the U.S., I am not so ethnocentric) – to finish a three-week old assignment…I work full-time, at the place where I am in also in school part-time, and I am older now and have a bedtime…There is so much grace, always there is grace and I do not abuse or take it for granted, but I sure am grateful to receive it…They all get it and they know…

And being the good procrastinator that I am, I check 5mf to keep from finishing and I get sad and grateful at her words there and I lift up silent praise outside at my coffee shop where this week I must also finish, not my own era but wrap up in my own words an era of Church History which, for the sake of my five minutes, I will not search for which one now.

Simply, I must finish.

Because, yes, I have to.

Also, I get to.

5-minute-friday-1

Lisa-Jo, You are amazing and 5mf was and is a gift and it’s a legacy you berthed from bare bones. You gave life to all of us for all of these Fridays and whether I participated or not, I am grateful for the community you grew there. Thanks for introducing all of your friends to each other and inviting us to your block party each week. We here are, I am, grateful. xo

 

 

steeplechase.

I’m a little bit anxious today. I’ve been a little bit anxious for a few days, actually, in anticipation of this day. My Mom is coming to see me today. Just my Mom, just me. She’ll be here for a week. The last time I had her all to myself was when she rode out to the middle of the country with me and dropped me off about 19 months ago. Both my sisters have kids, everyone is somewhere on the east coast. It’s just easier for me to go home than for anyone to come out here. So, that my Mom is coming out here for a week just to be with me is…everything. In this moment it’s a whole lot of overwhelming tears, actually. If my Student Worker were to turn around right now, we would have an awkward moment, to be sure.

My Mom has been tracking with me in my Summer of Self-Care. She’s who said, “Come on, let’s go,” because something needed to be done and so she took me to her quacky-doctor. I love homeopathic-y, naturopathic-y people. They are -we are- so weird and wonderful. We are all these mystical, created by God beings. As such, our dirt and spit-made bodies know what they need and these wise healers know the language they speak. Growing up, I saw a homeopathic chiropractor for my allergies and, well, for everything. It was normal and nothing at all questionable, except to my friends who didn’t go to one and then it just sounded like cooky witchcraft. I suppose this might be true in the case of some alternative healers, but this hasn’t been the case in my own experience. In fact, my own version of spirituality has always been respected and incorporated in my natural healing practices because integrated healing and self-care really is a Total Body Experience. So I am thankful to my Mom for taking me to her new guy (since we don’t live in our hometown anymore), and I’m thankful to God for using that guy to tell me my body was a “crap-bag” at the time, how it got that way and what to do about it now.

The reason my Mom is coming out here is because I’m having a little procedure done on Friday. Not a big deal, an out-patient thing. It is like the unhealthy version of me, the one who sometimes lives in scarcity and unworthiness, to make an even lesser deal over this so I wouldn’t be any trouble for anyone. But, truth? I need my Mom to be here.

Awkward moment of tears again…please no one walk past my window right now…

I want my Mom to be here. When I told her I had set it up, I didn’t ask her to come. It turns out I didn’t have to. She’s had a very  full summer with my sisters and their kids, and July is a packed month for summertime in the South. Plus, tickets are freaking expensive, and I would have understood if it just couldn’t have worked out. I wouldn’t have asked.

Facilities guys just walked in. Crap.

They pretended like they didn’t notice I was wiping my nose with a Kleenex when they came to replace our coffee station. Or maybe I just overcompensated. Close call.

Who am I kidding. I cry, y’all. Not tons, but my tears aren’t really that locked up. It’s just that sometimes I cry over real things, and then sometimes I cry over…real-er…things. I live and work and breathe and have my being in an environment where if the Spirit moves, then I can’t not cry and it’s okay and even encouraged, even though I have to remain, you know…semi-professional. Actually, though, my tears are not unique to my environment, I just cry sometimes is all. My tears know no geographical bounds.

So I didn’t ask but I was secretly pleading with my Mom to come out here. I didn’t ask her not because I didn’t think she would come but, like I said, just because I didn’t want to trouble her. And I didn’t want to set myself up to be rejected, so I just didn’t ask. My Mom. Who never seems to be troubled by me at all. In fact, seems less and less troubled by anything or anyone, and only becomes more and more engaged in my life without really even trying because that’s the way of a good Southern Mama. She is just precious and awesome.

Isn’t that strange? I know it’s not right-thinking, and I know for some people to spend time with their parents really is a devastating or abusive thing and I do not mean to compare nor diminish either of our experiences. If that has been your experience, please know my heart breaks for your broken heart. I am so sorry and I am holding space now for you in mine. I really am. For the little girl who grew up in my bedroom on the back side of the big red barn-house, the one who felt like she was too much and not enough, the one who grew up to be an ego-maniac with a self-esteem problem and is becoming right-sized in both her head and her heart all over again, this is the way she sometimes still thinks. She – I – started thinking this way all over again when that thing that happened happened and then un-happened, but for the Grace of God.

Do you know what my Mom did for me then? Nothing. That is, she listened and allowed and supported without encouraging the situation. She and one of my six aunts even found a vintage dress for me when they weren’t looking. If she worried, she did not show it. I think mostly she just trusted because she knew it was she all could do. She knew she had to wait it out, and allow into being what was never meant to be, so that I would know there was space for me when it all came undone. And there was. She stood still in her own Spirit, not willing to lose her sweet and wild and stubborn-as-hell daughter again but not willing to fight except in the Spirit for her, and then to trust the Great Spirit with her.

It seems all our best fighting -mine, anyway, and that of this woman- is done standing still in strength and in peace and in freedom, holding onto Love. She is probably my greatest teacher of this even now.

This is what she did when I was drinking, too. On the way to my bottom, after my last very rowdy birthday party…well, we had a moment, she and I. A very quiet moment shared in the dark that was light that I will always remember and will ever be a step on my way down so I could come back up. Gosh, she is so brave and so strong and present. She has always been a great Mom and an incredible woman. But as we have all gotten older and each set off on our own pathway to freedom from our family disease, she became even more of the Mom she always wanted to be. That’s the Mom I have now. And she’s awesome.

And that’s who is coming to see me today. I didn’t ask and I didn’t have to, though in a place of worthiness and okay-ness I told her it would mean a lot to me if she could but I would understand if she couldn’t. But she and my stepdad just sort of got on it because I guess that’s what parents do for their children if they can. I don’t know why it’s surprised me, though. Perhaps because I’ve always lived within driving distance of my family until I got out here. They’ve done it for my sisters, why would I worry or doubt they would do it for me? So weird, but that’s the false belief of a girl who is just understanding she is worthy. And so now I get her all to myself for a whole week. Because I’m a daughter -a very classic Middle Child of Three Girls, actually- who is worthy of a Mom who loves her daughter who loves her mother, and she does and I do very much. I am very much my 36-almost-37 year old self in this moment. And I am also very much my 6-almost-7 and 16-almost-17 year old self, too. Isn’t that always how it is between daughters and mothers?

We’ll keep it simple, no extravagant plans. I have some loose ideas. She is spontaneous and fun and we love to do a lot of the same things. But usually the best plans I make with my Mom are the ones we don’t make at all. I look forward to showing her my world out here in the middle of the country, introducing her to my new people here, and her to them. I want them to know each other, so they can know who gave and gives me life and she can know who is my oxygen out here. Mostly, though, I’m just looking forward to being with her sans interruption or competition.

In my Summer of Self-Care, I am learning all over again that it’s okay for me to state what I need and say what I want just because I can. In fact, I must. It’s a gift, this. And then to stand still in my own Spirit and receive from my Father those very things, because I am worthy just because I am His Daughter. Also a gift. I am also learning that people aren’t my Promise. God is both the Promise and the Promise-Keeper. He alone makes them, and He alone keeps them. He is my Hope, and He is my Assurance of all things. However, somehow this “Hope and Assurance” used to look an awful lot like believing I was meant to settle for leftovers. “Poor in Spirit” was just plain poverty of soul. Scarcity. Every man for himself. Live or die trying. And this is just not God’s way. Love’s way.

These are all Truths I once knew. Shared them here, to be sure, because even if I may not have believed any of this to be true for me, I really did know it was all true for you. Oh, the vanity. But here I am now learning all that’s True -or a lot, anyway- anew, all over again. And this time I’m learning that what’s True of you is all True for me, too. There is plenty of Plenty to go around for all, and no one has to go without. But first, to trust Love.

Since laying down my armor and freeing up my arms, I have been in greater position to receive Love’s gifts.

And today, this day, is one of Love’s gifts.

xo

 

 

 

hey, henry.

belong.

i hear this word and i think of something i heard recently:

we all want to know we belong, even if we don’t fit in.

i think first of family, how different but same we all are, each of us bringing our own same but different personalities. i have never not been a “tyson girl”, even now that each of us are pushing 40. but when you know each of us, really know each of us, we each are gifted so different. each of us loves so uniquely, and we all laugh loudly.

and then i think of the girls who i spent every night of my college career with on stage, we called ourselves the favorites because we were and we weren’t. we were good, clean fun and we were trouble, too. and some days we were just troubled. and he loved and yelled at us because he believed and we belonged to him and to each other. we wouldn’t have chosen each other had we not chosen to show up for each other on that stage.

i think of friends at home, those with whom i have history long. people who, on a moment’s notice, i can call and talk to and neither time nor distance matter, because we belong to each other. and we all bring our special qualities to the table, and we celebrate one another for them. my best friend who now i never see or talk to for no real good reason at all, but we show up for each other. she is the reason i ever became funny, if ever i am funny.

when my dad died, and we were all three staying with another childhood friend, and we were getting coffee on our cute main street in our little big town and a friend from high school was heading back to his own dad’s flower shop. he stopped, and held my hand and looked me in the eye without filter, and said, “we’re going to take care of you today.” i had never til then not had a dad.

and now it makes me cry. you made me cry, boy i had a crush on 20 years ago.

and this was now almost five years ago, it was halloween day, exactly three years from the day i knew that this day would soon come if changes weren’t soon made and they weren’t and it did. none of us lived in our hometown anymore, but we all want to again. at some point, we might. everyone i know who is from there, it is our very favorite place, especially that piano man who didn’t know a stranger and had not one enemy other than himself and the devil. that man i love, the only one who has ever loved me the very best he could, all things considered.

and the next year in our new town when we moved from our hometown, still together because we belong to each other, we bumped into a man we would learn worked for the funeral home and we spoke of how kind and wonderful and gracious the owner was to us, mr. turnage who first buried my grandma and then my granddad the same year, and then my dad several years after that.

and we asked this stranger-friend there in the starbucks at the barnes & noble, my niece was already learning how to knit in his wife’s lap. she was 3 at the time, maybe 4 by then…we asked him about ghost stories or funny requests.

and not knowing us or the story, just that we had a dad and grandparents he helped us lower to the earth to become the earth but not yet our names, he said, “well, there was this one time not too long ago a family wanted to ride their dad down franklin street one last time, and it was halloween and there was a basketball game, too…”

yessir, we know that family, and thank you for that and for telling us our story because it’s now it belongs to you, too.

the world is kind and gracious and it is good and as times get harder, people are getting softer and more loving and kinder and better. and god is getting bigger and the world is getting smaller.

and we may not fit in, but we really do belong to each other.

xo

5-minute-friday-1it’s been a while since I’ve done a 5mf.

glad i did.

click that link there or the button beside, and you can belong there, too. xo

beating waves.

i feel a stirring in my spirit, new words are on their way as i process what god is doing in my heart through all of my current life teachers…getting over and working through and becoming more…

for now, for today…sometimes i write emails to my niece for her to read when she’s older. i have another niece and nephew and one day i will write letters to them, too. today, i offer my most recent one for her to you because i think parts of it might apply.

child,

i came home to be with you and the cousins back in may, and i was really depressed. my body had shut down after a really hard year, entirely. (it has been really hard for me to be away from you, my love.) i tried not to show this to you, but by the time you read this it will be okay for you to know it. you give and gave me so much life, just by you being you. i hope i had enough sense about me than to put pressure on you for more than this, or for anything at all.

one day toward the end of my trip, you invited me to play in the ocean with you. i wanted to be everything you needed me to be in that moment, but my soul was too tired and i couldn’t say “yes”. so i sat on the safe beach instead, watching you play all by yourself in the wild ocean. forgive me for not being there with you, but know that i was, little girl. i’m really sorry i missed that moment with you, but you didn’t seem to mind. you just laughed and played. i was -and have always been- in awe of how fearless you are. wave after wave, you kept getting back up. you would not be taken down. it was comical and awesome. it was comical because it was awesome. i couldn’t take my eyes off of you, mostly because i was afraid of you being out there by yourself, but you did it. you beat those waves, girl. one by one, you won over each of them just by getting back up. (y’all, please don’t judge me for leaving my child out in the ocean. i had my eye on her THE ENTIRE TIME.)

you are ferocious and brave and tenacious and courageous. but know you don’t always have to be. rather, brave doesn’t always have to look like a stiff-lip or being sassy or cute or tough. sometimes brave is being vulnerable, honest, open, even if -especially if- it’s hard. sometimes being brave is just speaking your truth; sometimes boldly, other times softly. being brave, really…is just trusting god. i think that’s all it really means, actually.

one thing i am learning now, a little bit late, is that i am worthy of a life that is good. i believed most of my life that i was never enough – not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough, cute enough, that i didn’t love god enough and that he couldn’t love me enough. in fact, i believed i was unlovable.

i do not see this in you, not at all. you have a confidence in you, child, that i wish had been offered to me when i was a little girl. i think it might have been offered, actually, but i did not know how to receive it or maybe it was taken away or i gave it away without knowing i ever had any.

i hope you are never assigned any responsibility other than just being a child while you are still a child. you just get to be a kid for many more years. don’t rush it. we all want this for you. i hope you will forgive us all if we ever ask more from you than this, which we might do without realizing it. but it’s each of our earnest desire that you just get to be a kid, and ENJOY being a little girl. we celebrate this in you, all of your little girl-ness.

forgive easily, child. know that we all want the best for you, and will do and are doing everything for you to have this, and to give you this. we will mess up. you will understand and appreciate later that we are all just grown-up kids, learning to get along and how to use the tools we’ve been given. some of our tools are broken, sometimes we don’t know how to use them.

in any case, should you ever receive this message in any way from anyone, i want you to know a few things: often people get jealous of things about us that other people love. things in us that god made, ways that we are wired, that are entirely awesome. sometimes people don’t know what to do with creative, big personalities like yours and mine. it’s okay. we can let them off the hook. we can love them, but we don’t have to believe them when they try to make us feel bad for just being who we are. in fact, i’ve learned to have compassion on them and, when i have the capacity, to invite them out to play. if they can’t come, sometimes we have to go in to find them. they just need a little help. other times, though, for our own health and sanity and well-being, we have to let them stay inside. remember they are still children of god, and we are not better. do not let these people keep you from enjoying your great and awesome life.

and you are, my girl. you are AWESOME.

something else, in case i forget to tell you: you aren’t responsible for saving the whole world, and a lot of people in the world need saving. a lot of people in the world who need saving just choose not to be saved. just love. that’s all god wants us to do. but love yourself first. that’s what i’m learning now, at almost 37. i’m finally learning this, that god really, really loves me and i am worth taking care of myself.

it is not your business what other people think of you. you are responsible for being YOU, perfectly. be exactly who god has created YOU to be, beautiful girl. be kind, compassionate, loving, gentle, thoughtful and fun – all the things you already are. i’m so excited for you to discover even moreso who you are, and see where all of your gifts and talents take you. i hope you will pursue life with gusto, just as you are doing now. don’t hide. don’t give yourself away too freely, either. but do be free. life will teach you what this means.

but what i really want to say, beautiful girl, in case you ever come to the place that you believe otherwise, and my prayer is that you don’t, that you will know that you are WORTHY of a life that is GOOD. as a child of god, as a human being, GOD LOVES YOU. just as you are. you don’t have to work at being you. you don’t have to strive to prove yourself worthy of approval. psalm 23 says, “the lord is my shepherd, i shall not want. he leads me beside still waters…” read the whole thing, beloved. that’s the life we’re meant for, one of rest and without worry. he will give you EVERYTHING you need. you don’t have to fight for a seat at the table, nor do you have to settle for scraps underneath. there is a seat for you already there that no one else can fill, and there is plenty of life for you to have at this table. the good kind of life. god  loves you, you are his child and he is your father. i prayed for you this morning that you would know jesus deeply at a young age, even now. mama loved and knew jesus in a really deep way when she was your age.

don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, or state what you want. you are worth this.

you are DEEPLY and FULLY and COMPLETELY loved, and you are fully and wholeheartedly loveable. one of my life teacher’s, karen, calls it “living from your spirit”. do this, sweet girl. you don’t have to seek outside attention or approval of any person. live from the inside out. the world needs you. you are so, so beautiful. you make valuable contributions to the world around you.

in any case, you are all of these, and you are worth all of this.

i love you and those other little people more than anything.

kk

 

born again.

i was born to laugh

i learned to laugh through my tears

and i was born to love

i’m gonna learn to love without fear

{born, over the rhine}

: : : : :

after laughing with my friend elle back home, i hung up the phone and went for a run on riverside last night. the night had cooled, it wasn’t almost dark yet but it was almost almost dark. i hate running now a lot less than i did when i started a few months ago. it’s less drudgerous, more enjoyable. less work, now it’s just something i do when i have time to do it. because it’s good for me, i make time for it at least a few times a week. i also still can’t believe i’m actually a runner, so i think that’s part of the reason i do it, too. to laugh at myself and also to prove to myself one more time that i am, in fact, a runner who runs. i run until i can’t run anymore, until i absolutely must stop, and so i give myself permission to walk for a few minutes. and then i give myself permission to run again, and i do it without thinking. my body knows what it needs, and so i don’t need to punish it by making it work harder. i push myself as it is, and of course want to build endurance. i am not lazy. but i don’t need to be mean to me. running is something i do but, again, it’s only part of and not all of who i am.

in my summer of self-care, i don’t try to time my day or plan my schedule outside of work, and i’m finding everything still gets done. in fact, more gets done because i’m not making anything more complicated than it needs to be. i am a responsible and capable adult, and i know what needs to get done and i am able to do those things without becoming a big baby about it. i don’t wear myself out dreading my homework. before, if i knew i had homework to do, i wouldn’t permit myself to do anything fun. i may or may not complete or even work on my assignment, but i definitely didn’t have permission to do anything i might actually enjoy. it turns out, in order for me to be responsible, i have to be more flexible and less rigid about, you know…life.

in general, i’m just trying to do a lot less thinking so i can be more thoughtful. gosh, i think a lot.

laughing with elle wasn’t the first time i laughed yesterday. i laughed with my friend here in tulsa when she recounted a horrific boyfriend-experience to another friend of ours. i had heard the story before, but this time i realized how scary the situation must have been at the time. she has so much freedom from it now. i realized a little while later that, eventually, i was no longer laughing about her situation, but about the one i found myself in a few years ago. lord, bless that time. the situation, the circumstances…i would never knowingly put myself through that again, but i can laugh about it now not for shame but for freedom. finally. i finally could laugh about it not because “what the bleep were you thinking?” but because it was funny. rather, it is funny now. funnier, anyway. haven’t we all been in questionable relationships, if we’ve lived long enough to make certain poor choices that we thought were good ones at the time? i really thought at the time it would be a good story and that god was in it. i chose the wrong thing for right reasons. there’s nothing inherently flawed with me that i chose it at the time or that i didn’t un-choose it sooner. i didn’t know a lot going into rushing into the situation that i came out smelling a little bit like smoke for in the end. i have a lot more compassion now, for him and for me and the situation itself. i thank god for that time with a little more ease now, and there’s nothing more about it i need to figure out or lesson that needs to be learned from it now. it was just something that happened. another story to tell. one day. maybe. i am finally letting myself off the hook for that one, though, and it’s about time. (by the way, the details i am talking about are not the ones you might be thinking about. i still don’t know if or when or how much of it to share, if i share it at all. i’m not trying to be vague, just cautious.)

in general, i’m becoming more patient with myself. with my recent health-stuff, i’m becoming nicer to me. at the end of my meeting this morning, the “mother” of my home-group hugged each of us, saying, “you’re so worth it”. and we are. i am. you are. we are worth kindness.

did you read jesus calling this morning? well, jesus called. he said to laugh more and stop taking ourselves so darn seriously. i needed to hear it, don’t you? good grief, i wear myself out – i literally wore myself out – thinking so much or trying to save everyone or striving so hard or thinking i’m so important. and it’s not that i’m not – it’s not that you’re not – but my one real job is just to show up each day. dukes down, palms up, arms open. not trying to figure anything out, but trusting there’s a plan and i won’t be left out of it. in fact, i might have more than a bit part to play if i just accept life on life’s terms. someone said that in a meeting yesterday, and i swear it was as if i was hearing it for the first time. i can’t believe i had forgotten this, one of the only true truths i really do know. life on life’s terms. just for today. so good. remember that today. xo

p.s. i recently read bittersweet by shauna niequist, so i just started following her blog because now i feel like we’re bff’s. in any case, it sounds like she’s in a similar place in her heart and soul, and i think you might like to read her story. xo

: : : : : : : : : :

Christians are no different from the rest in their nationality, language or customs. …They live in their own countries, but as sojourners. They fulfill all their duties as citizens, but they suffer as foreigners. They find their homeland wherever they are, but their homeland is not in any one place. …They are in the flesh, but do not live according to the flesh. They live on earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey all laws, but they live at a level higher than that required by law. They love all, but all persecute them.

{Address to Diognetus, as printed in The History of the Church, vol. 1 by Justo L. Gonzalez}

blessed are.

I was sitting in a car shop yesterday and had further thoughts after re-reading my friend’s email. I can’t get more honest than I am in emails to my friends. I can’t share their experiences or stories, but I can share with you where my heart is right now, in this moment. Or yesterday’s. xo

I had another thought about what you said today when I was running…it goes along with my other thoughts, but I think I’m in the process of piecing together a bunch of little thoughts that will turn into either one big thought, kinda, or a bunch of small ones that mean something greater.

About this is “part of who, but not all of who, we are”…My experience at school, both as a student and as an employee…it’s part of who I am, but it’s not all of who I am…I am a student there. I work there. But there is so much more to me than that place…in fact, it’s just a place. Only a place. And the spirit of God is there, but there is also a weird Christian culture…really, it’s everywhere there are Christians, we just kind of create and carry this weird Christianeseyness that I just don’t know if it really looks and acts like Jesus or not…and all I want is Jesus. I love His people – our people, my brothers and sisters – but I don’t fit in to the weirdness. I got to a place in recent months that I didn’t know if I even believed or not. But my counselor helped me put words around the weirdness that I didn’t have a language for. It’s not God or His people I don’t believe in. Just the weirdness.

I’m a creative because God has created me to be creative, just as He Himself is Creator. I am – you all, we all are – a creative church, created by the Creator. Again, only part of who I am- but it’s a pretty major part, maybe even moreso than the place where I spend so much of my time. I sacrificed it – that is, my creativity- for the sake of finding myself in this culture where I don’t belong. And I’m not sad that I don’t fit into it. I have a place there, just as I am. I don’t have to strive to fit in any further and I’m not a commodity. None of us are. I must show up each day to bring what only I can bring to the table, and to not offer what I don’t have to give. And this is enough, and it is beautiful. And as important as it is to be a student now, and do my job as best I can, it’s also important that I feed my creative soul and my body whole and healthy foods.

I realize I rush around and feel like I’m going to run out of time, all the time. Or like I won’t have all that I need when I need it. Or like I might not ever see you ever again. I think I started living that way when my dad died. I didn’t realize this until recently. And we’re just not meant to live this way, it’s not how God intended. I miss seeing people when I live in scarcity. When I feel like I’m going to run out of everything. I don’t want to miss seeing people, or having real experiences. Like my little theater in college where he begged and pleaded with us to see each other and ourselves. To be present. To really, really live in and be in the moment and not sacrifice that moment for the next one, or treat as if we’re waiting on The Next Best Thing. When we got there, we knew it. And it was so, so beautiful. There were so many of those moments, ones that can’t be written about or maybe even remembered. We didn’t have Facebook or Instagram or Twitter then. We just got to be there, and live there, and have these beautiful, real-life moments where true vulnerability happened. We couldn’t share them with anyone who wasn’t present with us at that time, in those moments. The irony is not lost on me that it was called Little Theater at the time, my first year its’ last.

I’ve gotten a little bit hard and mean through all of this, but that’s all changing now, too. Others would say this isn’t true, but I feel like it is at least a little bit true of me. This isn’t years of build-up, just since I got here. I reverted to old mindsets and started hearing old tapes again. I’ve never really moved before, and this all might have been my experience had I stayed in NYC. When I got here, I guess I lost security within myself and my sense of being. Karen calls it “living from your Spirit”, and I think it’s really been a long time since I’ve done that, truly. Honestly, if that’s the case, then it’s been about 2 1/2 years, really. When I gave up my voice and started living -striving- from the outside, trying to figure everything out instead of knowing on the inside that I know what I don’t know and a tiny bit about what I do, and that all of it is Good. Karen said it would take this long. Made me mad at the time. I get it now.

So that’s what I’m coming back to now, 18 months after coming out here. Remembering who I am, even as I re-discover who I am and also as I evolve into more of who I am. Who I am now, at this point in my life. In a lot of ways, I’m the me I’ve always been. In a lot of ways, I’ve grown up a lot and care less about things I used to think were so important that just aren’t. I’ll be 37 on my next birthday.

I was eating berries this afternoon, from a bowl and with a spoon instead of out of the carton. That is, I was intentional about eating food that was nourishing and good for me. I said to God, “I love these delicious berries. Thank you for creating fruit, God. You did good.” And then a few seconds later, I thought, “If I feel like life is always a fight, then I will keep my gloves on. But if I embrace life like this fruit, so beautiful and delicious and good for me, then my heart will live in abundance and not scarcity. It’s time to take the gloves off now.” It is easier to enjoy fruit without my gloves on.

I have learned all of this before, but I feel as though I’m learning it all for the first time. And maybe I am, in a way. Or like I’m learning it anew in this place where I am now.

Part of, but not all. I was really thinking about it at the gym.

The fact that you are seeking this means you are already living it.

Yes, my friend. That is the thing. That is what it means to be poor in spirit. You aren’t wrong about this. To know that we don’t know, and to press in and seek and wrestle til we know even more that we still don’t know but maybe we’ve become softer to God and more sensitive to others. To be poor in spirit frees, alternating between tears and laughter or both at the same time, the best time of all. The hospital, seeing the Big Picture, just like you said. Discovering one step at a time our role in it. Hospital, not the Super Bowl. Right now, in this moment.

Thank you for what you said about people loving me. Again, I sort of started believing again that I was a burden and so I’ve acted like that’s what I believe, living life as one big apology instead of with the inherent knowledge that I really am enough and all I will ever be is enough. Not too much, and not not enough. Just right. Like a bowl of porridge. I am, you are, porridge. I’m remembering again that this is the truth, that there are people who really love me like I love them. And neither of us are burdens. Isn’t it funny how we see one another in such sweet light, but not ourselves?

I don’t think Jesus asks us to be perfect because He doesn’t need for us to be. I think He just wants us to be broken and to trust Him. He knows we can’t be perfect, but wants us to know that He is, and we almost are because we look like Him. Such a strange and simple and beautiful mystery, what we believe. I think our job is just to love Him and let Him love us and love others, with all that we have even if it’s not much and especially if it’s too much. Sloppy, messy, lavish, too much love is still better than not loving enough. I think we just get to show up each day with courage and trust, with whatever it is we have to offer, knowing that God delights in us no matter what. We’re meant to enjoy life a lot more than we -I- do. I think that’s part of the deal, too. To not wait for Life, but to create space for Life, pursuing Life and inviting Life in, and allowing Life to happen.

Just more thoughts after reading your thoughts again. Thank you for sharing with me, and for doing all of this with me.

xo

scraps from the table.

i received one of the most honest emails earlier this week in response to one i had sent…which was in response to one this person had sent…

i was going to tell all of you this, too, and realized i may as well just tell it to you in the way i told it to this person, unfiltered.

this is what i learned this week, where i ended up.

love you guys. xo

i have been loving your words all week, not even sure how to respond or contribute or participate in the conversation. yes to all of it. the Super Bowl…yes…i never lived in a fantasy. some days i wanted to, but have known since i was 13 that my life was marked by sadness and trust. that was when everything changed, when i found out sitting on my sister’s twin bed about my dad.

you’ll appreciate that in therapy this week, i realized two things: one, i was reminded how good therapy is for me. i’m an external processor, either in person or in writing. i’ll get caught on something, or trip over it. i’ll start on it, and then talk about it -a therapist asks good questions- until i come up with the discovery i was always trying to make through whatever the issue. and so, two, the discovery i made this week in talking about whatever the thing was, is that i don’t know when, not sure if it’s important, but i stopped asking for help. i don’t ask for what i need or state what i want. i stopped advocating for myself.

there are several reasons for this. one being, that in some weird christian culture, we are taught to just be “humble” and “serve” and that gets blurred and lines get crossed because somehow we are taught to just “trust god” and it comes at the expense of being hurt and then becoming angry. we are taught, basically, not to be needy or even have needs because “god will provide”. and he does, certainly. but i believe that we are meant to need each other, and that you might have what i need or i might be able to provide something that she needs. or we could at least help guide each other.

over the last year, i was so busy “serving” that i fell apart. i should have been gluten-free since high school. i should have asked people to modify my dinner, or not eaten that candy bar just because i wanted it and was feeling emotional or that biscuit because someone brought it to me as a gift and i didn’t have the heart, nor did i want to, say “no”. i didn’t advocate for myself because – and this is the thing – i haven’t valued myself enough. and that is our biggest sin. that, in our pride, we don’t value who we are as children of god. that we don’t love god enough in us, or we think we’re the one child he doesn’t love like all the others, and so we just ignore our needs. we become destitute and isolate, though. and then who are we serving at all? and this is what i became in the last year. not taking care of myself, being responsible for my temple – my emotional, mental, physical well-being – and i now know that i must be my own advocate. to know that god has made me worthy, and only god makes me worthy, but because of this i am allowed to – i must – ask for what i need, and take care of myself accordingly.

hospital, not the Super Bowl. my friend brennan manning used to say, “church should look more like aa.” like a hospital. a place where people who know they are broken go for hope. if they get fixed, even better. but at least a place where they know hope for wellness might be offered. and i don’t mean church, the building. we are the church, built and designed to love and care for and take care of each other. to offer up our need because we’re all in this together, either faking it or making it, and we can all do something for each other and better by each other. it all really boils down to love and doing life together. we’re not islands, but we -i- act like i am. it just doesn’t work. i’ve really learned that first-hand this year. i’m still exhausted, but recovering slowly and not beating myself up in the process.

looking back now, i realize that during my drinking days, and this is what i tell people now – i didn’t know how loved i was. i knew god loved me, but i didn’t know just how loved i was. and so i acted out because i felt unloved, and unlovable. i didn’t care for myself because no one cared for me. this, of course, wasn’t true. but i blamed and victimized…i wanted someone else to take care of and make decisions for me. and now, how that is playing out now, i know my life is my responsibility, but i have been negligent. i’m being pro-active now, an active participant again.

someone said to me yesterday, “and then i loved him” -but, the thing is, i can only love god back within the context that i understand his love for me. i can only be in love with him as much as i know he is in love with me. through whatever filter i know his love to be “true” is the filter through which i experience and respond to his love. if i see him as mad at me or disappointed or myself as a burden, then i will respond to god as if these are true things. if i know in my bones that he loves me, without measure or condition, that he is good and kind and generous and owns all of everything in the world, that i am his daughter and i belong to him…then i know i have value and i understand better my worth, and i respect others’ worth better, too. i love better and treat myself with kindness. any amount of love i show to god is only in direct response to the measure i know his love for me.

he’s telling me through all of this now, teaching me how to ask him for what i want, to tell him what i need. to tell others, if that’s what it means. in any case, to be my own advocate and know that i’m loved and that he has it to give, all of it. everything. my soul isn’t meant to live in depravity, either in relationships or all of life. but i must be the one to feed myself, whatever that means. today, it means i Skyped for a long time with my little people and responded to your email and another friend, and there’s another one i will respond to later. it means i juice green things, and eat fresh berries because they are just so delicious. it means i will close up this computer and go for a run, take zella for a walk, and then get over to the free second saturday at a museum where, sadly, i haven’t yet been. it means going to get a car repair that i can’t actually afford, but i must be pro-active. and then going to church and then hunkering down with my books and pounding out 3-week late answers for my class. thank god that i have a kind and compassionate and gracious teacher.

by the way, i will be addressing my ADD in therapy this summer. my counselor told me to get a hold of dan amen’s book, “healing ADD” – my mom and sister had just ordered his collection when i got home, so my mom has sent all of his material to me. my counselor is going to read the book with me. i was diagnosed in college, but lived all of my life until then undiagnosed, and never was treated for it again after college. wonder how it will change my life to learn coping skills for it now. he thinks my depression is largely linked to this, in addition to the whole thyroid thing.

what i’m learning is, i’m not just here to serve others. not in the way i become a doormat and just hope that i’m fed somehow. i have found myself eating scraps from the table again, and that’s just not god’s way. we all have a place at the table, and i don’t have to fight for mine or squeeze in wherever i fit. the table is big enough for us all, and there is plenty there for all to have and none will go hungry. but we have to respond to the invitation to come and sit and enjoy the feast of life, and choose not to accept the lie that all that’s left for me is scraps. i learned a long time ago, when i went to family rehab with my dad, that i have to take care of myself first before i take care of anyone else. that is, in order to take care of anyone else. the changes i’m making now are lifestyle changes. my schedule will be the same in the fall: work and school. our students come back, so i will be busier in the day, but my lifestyle will not have to change. so i’m not amping up this summer just to let it all go in the fall.

therapy and aa teaches me to speak in “i/me” language, but i feel like it sounds so self-absorbed in response to your email, or anyone’s. i’m in agreement with all that you said, whole-heartedly. whole-heartedly…have you read anything by brene brown? read daring greatly.

i love you. i appreciate knowing we’re the same, you and i. i’m both sorry and grateful for what you had to go through to get there. you are one of my life’s greatest and best teachers. thank you for being open and honest and sharing with me. your stuff is my stuff, and i will hold it with you. thank you for holding mine, too.

xoxoxo

merits: a love sandwich.

 

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i have never not known robin. her husband and my dad had been best friends since they were 5 years old. my mom became their friend in the third grade, and then robin moved to their hometown in high school. this is a picture of my two mothers, taken last summer. something was wrong then. we found out not long after this picture was taken what she was facing.

i spoke to my mom this morning, who had been to see them yesterday. she said robin had one foot in heaven. she said i should call bobby. she called me a little while later to find out if i had talked to him yet. when i did call him, we spoke for a while…catching up and cutting up…he thought i knew…

my heart is broken. i am, of course, sad. i’ve experienced enough death to know that we will see her again, that heaven rejoices. i know my dad was the first one to greet her after jesus and they are having a ball together up there. but i cannot imagine a world that is more beautiful in her absence. that is, she made the world around her just. so. lovely. because of her real and authentic presence. hers was not a life absent from pain and defeat. but she had more grace than anyone i have ever, ever known.

she rescued me during my darkest days. she is one of the hugest, brightest and best parts of my own story. everyone who knew her has stories they could tell of how she showed up for them. always, she would show up. many days she would show up when i didn’t know i needed her.

i want my life to look like hers. to have as much grace as she had for others and herself, to live so fully into the heart of jesus.

today, there is a chasm in the universe. you may not feel it where you are, but you would know it if you knew her.

today is also my little sister’s birthday. robin was her pre-school teacher. they were always very close, too. so close, actually. since sarah hope was a child, she and robin had this deep and sweet spiritual connection.

i am jealous. i am sad. my heart is broken and my soul rejoices. intellectually, spiritually, i get it. i understand death. but i cannot imagine life on this earth without you on it. thank you for making the world a more beautiful place to live, for your investment into hearts and lives.

and for making the perfect love sandwich. xo

i wrote the following post on january 11. (this previously said april 1, for some reason  – it was a draft, and that might have been the last date i looked at it, don’t know. i had just gotten back to tulsa when i wrote it after the holidays.) i didn’t publish it then because i didn’t know. i wanted to believe. i was holding on, too. but i knew when i saw her at christmas it would be the last time. 

had a long lunch in my hometown that i love more than just about any place on the planet; to where i will likely not return for any duration.

lunch was so long and so good that i accidentally missed an appointment which was just a guise for getting there i know now, with two of my sister-friends who have lived just a little bit longer than i have. we talked about life and death and ducks and pandas and peacocks and things of god and drugs and dessert and diets and children and husbands and our dogs.

and we laughed and cried and talked loud and quiet about all things the way you can only do with people who, for lack of a better way of saying it, kinda don’t care anymore but only because they care so much.

and it was glorious and it was good. so good.

and they helped me catch my breath.

but noticeably absent from this day was a third of the four women who held up both my hands and pressed their faces low on my behalf, who helped me grow when i did but did not want to during some really hard and best years. (the fourth lives on the opposite side of the country now, which is relative when i live in the middle now. karen would be a fifth but is in my life, and in the lives of some of these, her own separate prowess.)

this third is also her own entity as she is the wife of my dad’s best friend since they were five years old, and she came on the scene when my dad, mom and her husband were all in high school.

i remember being 5-ish, and i remember being 5-ish because i have a picture of sarah hope and i standing on the back of the field on this day and i am scratching my leg in my white-with-blue-trim dress and pigtails. and my first memory of her is sitting with her earlier the same morning on the property of our ministry before she got married, on the day she was getting married to this man my dad loved more than anyone ever, and she just talked to me and my 3-year old sister like we were her friends on any other day. she was wearing a denim shirt and her dark hair flowed and she glowed.

i have never seen her not glow.

she is the rarest of beauties, the kind of beautiful that is just so beautiful you want to cry because in her presence you are yourself made more beautiful. time stands still, or you wish that it could and maybe it does, because in her presence the world is that much more beautiful. she is so filled with jesus, looks and talks and acts so much like him, in a way that is as natural as breathing because, for her, it really is as natural as breathing.

but only in the way that a soul abides deep on the vine, and has only learned to abide deep on the vine because of the weather and the seasons that alternately love and abuse.

this woman whom i have never not known was diagnosed with a horrible, gross, destructive kind of the c-word that is, in theory, supposed to but we are believing that it will not. this news would only be more difficult for me to understand or painful to accept if it were news about my own mom.

and i’m not sure i am ever more present than in the supernatural presence of such natural reality and i was on a holy day over the holidays with my sister and some of our cousins, there in her cabin that she brought and brings to life for those she loves most, and those she loves most are everyone she meets because she sees and serves and lives for and loves jesus in all because he, most assuredly, is in all.

and, also, the beauty.

the kind of beauty that hurts in the best of ways.

my friend, a mother more like a sister whom god used to gently love me back to life on some of my darkest days, and to rejoice with and figure out things of god and life – or not –  throughout my whole life. i simply cannot imagine being in a world that is not daily made brighter and more beautiful and so much better by her soft and gentle and strong light.

so, we pray that the stars and the moon and the sun will not dim.

and we are only a composite of those like these, all of the above, through whom god loves us so well.

those to whom we can only pay back in kind with harvest seeds of thanks and they wouldn’t ask but we would, without question, offer up our own life if only he would allow but he already has done so.

this was going to just be part of a larger story of the things i learned while i was home for the holidays. i think i learned some things on your behalf that i will gladly share.

but perhaps this was the only thing that was anything at all.

more later.

xo

meet & greet.

this is the final post in our study of romans. thanks for joining us!

Romans 16, nlt {emphasis mine}

Paul Greets His Friends

1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. 2 Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God’s people. Help her in whatever she needs, for she has been helpful to many, and especially to me.

3 Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. 4 In fact, they once risked their lives for me. I am thankful to them, and so are all the Gentile churches. 5 Also give my greetings to the church that meets in their home.

Greet my dear friend Epenetus. He was the first person from the province of Asia to become a follower of Christ. 6 Give my greetings to Mary, who has worked so hard for your benefit. 7Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews, who were in prison with me. They are highly respected among the apostles and became followers of Christ before I did. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys.

10 Greet Apelles, a good man whom Christ approves. And give my greetings to the believers from the household of Aristobulus.11 Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. Greet the Lord’s people from the household of Narcissus. 12 Give my greetings to Tryphena and Tryphosa, the Lord’s workers, and to dear Persis, who has worked so hard for the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, whom the Lord picked out to be his very own; and also his dear mother, who has been a mother to me.

14 Give my greetings to Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters who meet with them. 15Give my greetings to Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and to Olympas and all the believers who meet with them. 16Greet each other in Christian love. All the churches of Christ send you their greetings.

{paul makes it clear that he has not forgotten, and in fact wants to honor, those who have paved his way through ministry. something important for each of us to remember, no?}

Paul’s Final Instructions

17 And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. 18 Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.19 But everyone knows that you are obedient to the Lord. This makes me very happy. I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

21 Timothy, my fellow worker, sends you his greetings, as do Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my fellow Jews.

22 I, Tertius, the one writing this letter for Paul, send my greetings, too, as one of the Lord’s followers.

23 Gaius says hello to you. He is my host and also serves as host to the whole church. Erastus, the city treasurer, sends you his greetings, and so does our brother Quartus.

25 Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong, just as my Good News says. This message about Jesus Christ has revealed his plan for you Gentiles, a plan kept secret from the beginning of time26 But now as the prophets foretold and as the eternal God has commanded, this message is made known to all Gentiles everywhere, so that they too might believe and obey him. 27 All glory to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, forever. Amen.

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