3.27.2008

I Waited Patiently

I waited
Patiently for you to see me
My tongue was held, I spoke only when spoken to and was rarely seen or heard

I waited
to be noticed
to be seen
to be counted as worthy of even your harshest insult
I waited and held baited breath, hoping that just once I would be visible
behind that davenport I waited

You who boasted of your honesty and integrity
You who I defended to he that stood at the barrel end of your gun
You who told the stories I would memorize and comfort myself with when you were held far from me
You were never who you said you were
You were a liar and a cheat, a thief and a hypocrite

I waited for forgiveness
Most days I wait still
Years I believed that it was I that needed to be forgiven
for not arriving first
for not seeing what repulsed you about her
for being stupid enough to believe in you

I waited at your funeral
I waited and searched to find an ounce of the you I knew in the stories they told
I waited in vain
Was it terrible that I wanted people to tell the truth about you at your funeral
Was it just so awful that I had to be drunk to be there, that even then I didn't really want to be there
Was it unforgivable that the tears I shed were tears of relief that I wouldn't have to see you ever again

Little did I know that visions of you waited for me
In my dreams
In the store
On the street
Worse yet I see visions of you in my face when I look in the mirror
I hide your features in the folds on my skin, opting for social unacceptability over having to see your frown and furrowed brow on my face even one more time

I wait
The forgiveness that happens every morning when I open my eyes fades by the end of the day
I wait for the forgiveness to stick
I hope that it will one day
I wait

3.26.2008

Exactly what I needed to hear

"You are not what you think you are. There is a glory to your life that your Enemy fears, and he is hell-bent on destroying that glory before you act on it. This part of the answer will sound unbelievable at first; perhaps it will sound too good to be true; certainly, you will wonder if it is true for you.
But once you begin to see with those eyes, once you have begun to know it is true
from the bottom of your heart, it will change everything."
--C. S. Lewis

3.25.2008

Whom are you seeking?

http://paradoxuganda.blogspot.com/

So I was reading this blog today and the following sentence jumped out at me:
In His voice, his commanding tenderness,
His calling out to her, she recognizes Him.


They were referencing John 20:15

15Jesus said to her, Woman, why are you crying [so]?
For Whom are you looking?


Last night I had a conversation that subsequently had me up thinking until almost 3am. It was a conversation about relationships and wounds, my craziness that's bubbling to the surface of late and other random things. It was a good conversation. It helped me pinpoint a few things and I was asked a few questions that I should probably find the answer to somehow.
The other thing that happened above and beyond that conversation almost all day yesterday was conviction. (and I know at least one of you knows what I mean coughjustincough).
I mean that conviction that is in your heart from God, through the Holy Spirit. When you aren't doing, thinking, saying, looking at, or whatever in line with what God has called for you.
I felt the twist of that knife in my heart at numerous times yesterday and throughout the night.
Sometimes I feel so lost in the self-centered process of cleaning out my junk. On one hand it's good, because that junk from decades past is what I hold on to. It's the unintended bitterness and anger that I still curl up with towards them. It's the unforgiveness and vengefulness that I stoke when I'm absently fantasizing about justice.
It has to go.

At the same time that it has to go, it has its purposes too I think. On Sunday at the Easter Egg Drop I observed something that has honestly brought me to tears on numerous occasions since. I saw someone notice.
I saw this person get down on the level with kids, adults, and every age in between. He talked to the outgoing and the shy and asked questions that had deeper answers then yes or no.
After he would walk away, or the other person would walk away, I saw them almost have a dazed look on their face. As if on top of the awesomeness of the helicopter they also were so touched and shocked at being noticed.
It really means a lot to me when I see this, and especially when I experience this (because we're all so inherently selfish dammit). Part of the junk is this feeling of being invisible, not counted as worth even the energy of scorn and ridicule. In the height of my despair over that...I was noticed like these people were on Sunday. I know how much it means and I know that it saves lives.
Part of the conviction is that I've been so wrapped up in this cloud of late that I haven't taken the time to notice. It's that fine balance between honoring God by working on the junk (a lot of it self created) that keeps me far from him, but also in being externally focused and seeing that I'm not the end all be all of......well it all I guess.

So there was talk of relationships last night, of all varieties not just romantical and the way I sometimes feel so incapable of functioning in them in any acceptable way. I've been thinking this morning about the verse above. Not only the why are you crying, but whom are you seeking especially.
My breath catches when I think about Jesus. Most days I feel like the least I could do for him is everything and anything I can. He is who I want to seek. If other things don't line up with that then I don't really want to participate with them. Now I'm not talking about hanging out or being involved persay. I mean, I don't want to invest the majority of my time that I have to pursue things that I'm passionate about on things that don't honor God.
That means my money, my body, my thoughts, my everything.
Again with the fine line. Not wanting to fall into the religious abyss because I don't think that doing or acting religion out is a God honoring thing necessarily.
Does this make any sense?
To often I feel this hesitation to really speak out the actual words of the fire that is burning in my heart for Jesus. I mean, I'm perfectly comfortable typing it. But speaking out loud....I don't know...it just seems to be more inciteful sometimes I think.
But I digress.

Like in the blog I read today, all day today I've been hearing his commanding tender voice calling me and helping me work through the crazy that was trying to take over my brain. All I can really do is crawl forward. If that's all I can do then that's going to have to be enough.
I see the hope in Him. I see the hope in how beautiful and amazing and vibrant it can and will be once all this junk is cleared.

I see hope.




3.24.2008

Because it's not ALL doom and gloom

Here is my weekend by the days...just to help you all out since I'm being so glum lately.

Friday: half day (yay!)
I had an outreach meeting with Ryan at 130. We met for about an hour and planned the year out loosely, but with the dates and general idea of outreaches more specific. Also, good conversation about leadership and hard conversations. All around pretty encouraging and all that crap in regards to leading outreach (I'd been feeling a little stressed about it lately)
Then I went home and took a semi-nap. Meaning, I didn't really sleep (or at least for more then a few minutes) but I laid in bed and watched TV, closing my eyes every once in awhile, but mainly just laying there petting cats and watching TV.
Then I got up and got all sassed up and met Alaina, Heather, Dee, and Susan at PF Changs for Heathers bday. The 2nd best thing about that meal (after the company) was that it was FREE! I laughed so hard, and got to feast my eyes on Eamom, the waiter that I have a ridiculous crush on. I told Alaina I wanted him to make out with me, she said, WHY!? I said, because I want to make out with him and it would make it less awkward if he participated. (Funny because it's TRUE)
I headed home about 945 and was asleep by 11

Saturday:
I woke up about 10am and watched That's so Raven and Hannah Montana (I'm not ashamed). Then I took a loooong hot shower and got some laundry around. I headed over to Claire and Fred's about 1230 to dog sit Shadow and Trooper while the humans of that house went to Columbus for Easter. I watched 12 Monkeys and realized I have never seen that movie straight through. I mean, I've watched it but not all in one sitting or even in chronological order.
At 6 I headed over to church for a few hours. Our basement flooded and that's where kids church is so I helped carry stuff back into the clean basement and did A LOT of vacuuming. While Jessica was vacuuming the kids check in room a TV on a VERY wobbly book truck tipped. On the truck was also a PS2 and the whole shebang fell on two guitar hero guitars. Jessica hurt her knee trying to stop it! But I'm happy to report that NOTHING was damaged or even scratched in the process.
Headed back to Claire and Fred's around 8 and watched Kevin James stand up then tried (tried) to watch The Hoax with Richard Gere. But it was dull and annoying so I headed up to bed about 10.
Now, Trooper I've never stayed the night with before. He sleeps in a housie at night (to help him feel secure). I sleep in a different room then he usually sleeps in, and the housie had been moved to that room. It took me over an HOUR to lure him out of his regular room, down the hallway, into the room I was sleeping in, and then into his housie. I used treats, I told Claire her dogs were going to be fatter then she left them, because of course Shadow needed as many treats as Trooper.
Then Shadow had decided that I was taking to long to climb into bed (where he sleeps) so he was sprawled out as if he owned the joint. I had to pretend to be leaving the room so Shadow would jump up, and then I leapt back into the bed and sprawled myself out.

Sunday: Happy Easter!
I got up about 630 to make sure I had time to get ready and let the dogs play. So I fed them breakfast and let them romp in the yard for about 20 minutes. Then we went upstairs and I showered while they slept off breakfast. After getting ready I gathered up my towels that I washed while I was there and loaded up my car with most of my stuff. Let them potty again, and then put Tropper in his housie and headed to church.
I left at the same time I would from home, without thinking that I was about 20 minutes closer to church then usual. But I got there, had a donut about 830 and then did a few organizational things for the egg drop. I worked 4th-5th grades first service and that started about 915.
I had a really nice conversation with Jill Hartsock while checking the kids in.
First service FLEW by and then it was off and running for the egg drop! We dropped a few thousand eggs from a helicopter, to join other eggs already on the field. This was over 10,000 eggs filed with candy and some with prizes!
During 2nd service Lance, Justin, David and I (and a few others along the way) pre-laid about 8000 eggs on the fields, and I threw the 10 eggs with the prize slips in them in the lanes for the egg drop. We also set up the prize table, and I absconded Greg's van because it was to far to carry the prizes (and I didn't really want to anyway). In case you were wondering, you can get 10000+ eggs in a Mazda (just ask Lance), plus a few boxes of garbage bags and some signage for the lanes.
It was CRAZY to see all the kids there for the drop, it was such a great event and a great way for people to invite their friends, family, and other random strangers/coworkers to church!
I was again surprised by how exciting it was to see the helicopter flying over! Once it tipped on its side right on top of us and I (and many other adults) GASPED thinking that the one guy was going to fall out!
It took a while for the kids to go through their eggs for the prizes. At one point Ryan came up and asked if I had actually placed the prize eggs! It was hilarious to see the look on his face, I was tempted to say "oh maaaaan!" but I just couldn't do that!
In the course of about an hour 4Corners gave away:
A Nintendo wii, rock band, motorized razor scooter, 2 jumpolenes, a fly fusion pen, and a sand and water table.
It. was. amazing.
Then we had to clean up. Which didn't take a long time. I finally staggered out of church about 145. We also collected the sign up sheets for Kite Fest that's happening in 2 weeks, so that's on my to do list for this week.

I went back to Claire and Fred's, let the dogs out and got cleaned up for Easter. After coaxing Trooper back in his housie I was off to pick up Tony to head to Katie and Daryls for what turned out to be a super fanfreakintastically delicious dinner. I told Katie we were on our way, and that I hadn't eaten anything since that donut a few paragraphs ago. She she made almost 5 POUNDS of mashed potatoes!
Once the food was ready I inhaled almost 2 heaping platefuls of ham, mashed potatoes, string beans, stuffing, rolls...I think that's it...
I was so full after I thought I was going to explode!
But after a little rest and some brew I was ready to roll on the wii.
We all just hung out playing the wii and chatting the rest of the night. It was a lot of fun and did a lot to lift my spirits. I must say it was quite humorous to see Daryl and Tony playing the tank game. If you were just listening you would swear they were little kids playing with their toy soldiers.
Tony and I left about 9ish. I had to drop him off and get home, I was EXHAUSTED. I got home and tumbled into bed a little before 10 and was OUT by 10.
On an extended note I woke up at 3am this morning ready to go, which was very annoying.

So that was the last 72 hours of my life.
How was yours?

Hello darkness my old friend

I'm having one of those days when all the lyrics I hear seem to speak directly to me. It could be that I'm self-centered, it most likely is but I don't really care.

Sound of Silence: Simon and Garfunkel
Hello Darkness my old friend
I've come to talk with you again

So much lately I've found myself flirting with the darkest parts of my heart. Almost basking in the void of light and habits of old. I do not like that part of me at all. But there seems to be some draw to it, some attraction to the sweet despondency that ruled for so many years. Someone said to me the other day that I seemed to be doing better, less crying more laughing or some such thing. I don't think I'm doing that much better. I'm not sure that's true, I may just be getting better at hiding it.

Strong Enough: Sheryl Crow
God, I feel like hell tonight
Tears of rage I cannot fight
I’d be the last to help you understand
and
I have a face I cannot show
I make the rules up as I go
It’s try and love me if you can

I feel like the first part is almost like a prayer I've been saying lately. It's nice that people notice, but I don't know what to tell them. I just want other people to feel better to, which makes me want to reassure them that I'm ok. But I don't think I am and I don't know how to be ok, I don't know what that looks like. Even saying I will be ok isn't enough, that's a lot of pressure for me, to have to assure you that I'm ok and everything is peachy and fine. It doesn't lead me to be ok, it just leads me to tell you that I am which makes you feel better not me.

There are glimpses though. Touches of kindness, unexpected. Many people that I've never really spoken to before on Sunday saw me. I mean they SAW me. They asked me questions and seemed to actually listen to what I had to say. When one of them was pulled away because of responsibility they came back to me later and said they wanted to hear more about what I was saying but they had to run. I felt seen for the first time in a long time. I seem to spend a lot of time lately trying to remain just below the radar, and it's taking a toll on my heart.

Shine Your Light on Us: Robbie Seay Band
I've been holding on
I've been
holding on
All that is inside me screams to come back home

The one constant thing throughout this last week is that there are thoughts of old that haven't returned. Honestly this is probably the lowest I've felt in years but I haven't once considered dangerous old habits that leave marks either just for me or in the lives of others. I've contained the implosion of all that I've kept hidden. I know that annoys at least one of you.
But I believe in a God that saves and he has saved me in every way. I think that I'm depending on and fleeing that more now then ever before. As I excavate the remains of that hidden section of my heart my gut instinct is to flee for my life, but then I am gently (or not so gently) reminded that true living isn't found there. Being truly alive lies in the arms of Jesus and truly living means cleaning this junk out once and for all.

Bring the Rain: Mercy Me
Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

Holy Holy Holy Is the Lord God Almighty

3.21.2008

unrealistic expectations

I seem to have this idea that I can't mess up. That if I mess up somehow it will cause people to stop loving me.
I have this perception with people that have given me no cause either through behavior or words that this is true.

Where does this come from. This gut instinct to believe that people will abandon me? I have amazing parents. They're still married like a million years later and so it's not from that.
This feeling has been pervasive from long before any sort of real relationship, this feeling of irrational expectations that I put on myself. This ideal that I hold myself to but not others.
I know from experience that I appreciate the mistakes in other people way more then their perfection.
But when I mess up, and I mess up a lot lately it seems, I feel like I have to hide it. Keep it bundled inside sharing with no one for fear they will flee the scene of whatever crime I've committed.

I realize that our past impacts us. But at what point does it stop? I loathe when people blame something from decades ago for their inability to function today. I don't want this to be about something like that because I feel like I should just get over it. Besides, most of them aren't alive anymore...the purveyors of perceived perfection so who exactly am I trying to impress.

It all makes me feel substantially crazy, and not in the cute "you're SO crazy" sort of way.
I spent years perfecting ambivalence and the lack of public emotions. Then I spent years trying to find the balance of appropriate emotion.
Somehow without my even noticing I've almost totally slipped back into ambivalence and emotional robotism.
When did that happen?
Is it really as simple as it's just this time of year?
Am I just "in my head to much"? (and what does that even mean)

Since Tuesday my emotions so skillfully buried have been lurking just under the surface. I swing wildly between rage and joy, sorrow and boisterous laughter, grief and rejoicing. Just talking about it will reduce me to tears that I swallow down and inhale with clandestine smoke and double stuffed oreos.
I almost am finding having the emotions to be utterly exhausting.
But I've been excavating.
I talked to a friend on the phone today and realized that I'm holding this behavior standard to someone that has never even hinted at that tendency.
I fanatically hide and evade to ensure that my secrets aren't revealed, I joke and play the carefree role to assure this person that I'm doing just fine juggling on my own.
Until the balls come crashing down.
Even now my instinct is to only pay enough attention to resolve this, only enough attention until the glaring light of my self imposed reality turns to someone else and then scuttle back to the hole I've buried myself it.

There has to be a change. It has to be me that changes. I have no idea how, I have no idea if I will become even keeled and then the monster that ravages my heart will rear his head again, just as I get used to the calm in my head.
I just feel so lost, and I don't really know how to find my way back and I have no idea where it is that I'm trying to go anyway.

OK

I don't know why that one showed up twice at two different times. When I looked this morning it wasn't there at all!

I'm not pregnant and other revelations

So last night Tony called and we chatted about this and that. Well the subject came up of my recent emotional turmoil and I told him that I didn't really want to tell anyone what it was about, it's resolved and that was that. Sharen knows but I'm not really interested in spreading the news of my problems.
Well if any of you know Tony (and I know at least one of you does) he didn't really that that well and proceeded to try to guess what the issue was. I was already feeling a lot better about the situation because of my super duper awesome seester, but if I wasn't that conversation with Tony would have perked me right up!

Here are some of the things he said:
(Just to reassure you please know all the answers were and are no!)
Are you pregnant
Were you pregnant
Is it about a man
Are you involved in the mafia
Do you still have all your toes
Did you steal something
Did someone steal something from you
Is it Deano
Did your car get impounded
Does it involve a door to door salesman
Are you dating someone
Are you sure you're not pregnant
At any time in the last 24 hours have you been in jail
Is it a STD
Is it Jesus
Are you sure it's not about a man
Did you loan someone money
Have you decided to become a lesbian
Was this some sort of international incident
Did you kill someone
Has someone tried to hurt you
Has someone hurt you
Did you get in a car accident
Did you get a DUI

This was intermingled with why won't you tell me's and apparently an investigative look at my blog for clues. We hung up and he called back like 20 minutes later with another few guesses. But my favorite was this morning. Tony called on his way to work to guess again!
He said:
Is it the French Revolution
I said no
He said, Oh, so it's the industrial revolution!
I said no

I haven't laughed that hard in a long time!
Tony said that he just wanted to make sure I was ok. Which was so nice to hear and trust me, I got that he wanted to make sure I was ok

3.20.2008

I'm not pregnant and other revelations

So last night Tony called and we chatted about this and that. Well the subject came up of my recent emotional turmoil and I told him that I didn't really want to tell anyone what it was about, it's resolved and that was that.
Sharen knows but I'm not really interested in spreading the news of my problems. Well if any of you know Tony (and I know at least one of you does) he didn't really that that well and proceeded to try to guess what the issue was.
I was already feeling a lot better about the situation because of my super duper awesome seester, but if I wasn't that conversation with Tony would have perked me right up!

Here are some of the things he said:
(Just to reassure you please know all the answers were and are no!)

Are you pregnant
Were you pregnant
Is it about a man
Are you involved in the mafia
Do you still have all your toes
Did you steal something
Did someone steal something from you
Is it Deano
Did your car get impounded
Does it involve a door to door salesman
Are you dating someone
Are you sure you're not pregnant
At any time in the last 24 hours have you been in jail
Is it a STD
Is it Jesus
Are you sure it's not about a man
Did you loan someone money
Have you decided to become a lesbian
Was this some sort of international incident
Did you kill someone
Has someone tried to hurt you
Has someone hurt you
Did you get in a car accident
Did you get a DUI

This was intermingled with why won't you tell me's and apparently an investigative look at my blog for clues.

We hung up and he called back like 20 minutes later with another few guesses. But my favorite was this morning.
Tony called on his way to work to guess again!
He said:

Is it the French Revolution
I said no
He said, Oh, so it's the industrial revolution!
I said no

I haven't laughed that hard in a long time! Tony said that he just wanted to make sure I was ok. Which was so nice to hear and trust me, I got that he wanted to make sure I was ok :)

3.19.2008

you don't make it easy babe

i am at the same time trying to love you and not love you
you are simultaneously making it easy and hard

permeating my thoughts and dreams
at the most unexpected moments i will smell that soapy smell of yours and hear the twinkle in your eye

in the raindrops and sunshine i see your laughter and tears and wonder if you are happy
in the clouds i see the impending thunderstorm and hope that we will survive

birds scattering across the sky carry with them the memory of running away together and never looking back, trees lazily swaying in the same breeze that rocked us to sleep to the sound of owls and crickets

i am at the same time trying to love you and not love you
you are simultaneously making it easy and hard

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning

It is very clear to me that changes have to be made.
After more tears then I've shed in a long time last night it was just so clear that all the balls I've been juggling have come crashing down and they lay shattered at my feet.

I've been keeping myself in the dark literally and figuratively about so much just hoping that somehow it would all work itself out. But it won't.
I can't continue to live life on what if and hopefully's, it just makes things that much worse.

In the dark though, there was light, hope, and reassurance that I can in fact depend on someone other then me. It seems like the most obvious of all answers, it seems like the most normal thing to know...but apparently I didn't.
Just when I seem to be getting a grasp on things "it" rears it's ugly head. Shame.
Shame that causes me to seal my lips and not want to be honest about the situation and what needed to happen. Shame that would rather have me hide myself to death instead of having conversations that aren't really that hard. Shame that would rather have me stay in the dark instead of pursuing light. Shame that causes me to look just to the side of things instead of facing them head on, dealing with them, and then moving on.
When I have conversations like this with other people, I couldn't be more reassuring that it will be ok, that it is ok, that they aren't alone. But I don't allow myself that same grace. When things are rocky by my own making I say terrible things to myself. I tear myself into shreds for my inattentiveness and I have no mercy on the idiocy of my behavior.
Last night, laying there in the dark, trying not to cry even harder, I was exposed as a fraud as a lip service junkie that refused to help herself or even allow others to.

But I don't want to be a lip service junkie, I don't want to be holed up in a shell hoping that no one dares crack it.
Weeping lasted all night. I still am struggling with the joy in the morning, my eyes were red from crying, my throat was clogged with sorrow. But I have faith that joy will come.

I have at least one person that will drop everything and come pull me up even when I insist they don't. Even when I believe I should be left to my own anguish, unworthy of redemption there is someone that will fight.

I have a God that saves. I have a God that hears the awful things I speak to myself in my head, I have a God that assures me they are not as true as I think they are.

Psalm 3:5
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me

3.18.2008

never going to....

So I had a conversation with S Sunday. We were talking about some family stuff and I may have (I know) gone on a tangent. But honestly, that tangent has been in me for so long that it was good to just verbalize it.
It was directed at S, it was just about family stuff that she and I have had to make a decision about and it was the culminating conversation.

But have you ever known someone that's never going to something? I mean, we all use the words always and never flippantly, "I never get to work on time" or "I always get stuck at the end of the line" or something like that. But I mean someone that will actually, statistically never something.
My example, it's no use fighting with AB because she is never going to think she's wrong. Her main goal in life is to make us feel less, unworthy, and selfish. She is never going to have an epiphany that says, "OH, damn. I sort of messed that up, I was wrong"
It's just never going to happen.
It does not matter how much money it costs her.
It does not matter how negatively it affects her health.
She will fight until her last breath to make sure that other people are as angry and bitter as she is. She will want to ensure that we're as hateful as she is.
So many other things I could say but I really just want to stop.

I do not want to be like her.
If (as a believer) Jesus is the person I look to on how to be. This woman and her mother are who I look to on how NOT to be. They are my examples of who I never want to be.
The mother, I've pretty much moved on from that. The father, it still floats up and punches me in the face sometimes, this idea that all that was good and righteous about his was a complete and total lie. But her.
The manipulation. The condescension. The complete disregard for anything that she couldn't control. The way she would look right through me unless there was a way she could utilize me in some sick twisted scheme to try to further annihilate my mom.

Sometimes when I pray I ask God to help me hate her a little less.
Strong statement eh?
I have to forgive this woman every day of my life. I have to be constantly vigilant that I don't focus to much on what has occurred and until Sunday could have still possibly occurred because otherwise I feel myself sliding into this vat of yuck that makes me see blindingly white hot rage towards her.

Should I look at it? Pick at it? Would picking at the semi-healed wounds really make it heal faster? Is this all really avoidance, or is it my way of dealing?
I have such a history of burying my head and avoiding things until years and years (and sometimes years) pass that I second guess my ability to truly move past things.
I had a therapist (yes I know HOW psychological of me) tell me once that if something is still bothering me then I obviously haven't gotten over it so I should feel completely justified in bringing it up as much as I need to to get over it.

I'm no longer sure that's right.
Somethings, they're better left buried, or at the very least somethings are better left dealt with in the privacy of your own prayers.
Slowly and surely these last 5 years I've been allowing God (ha, allowing God, as if he isn't GOD) to clean out these pits in my heart. One by one they're truly beginning to heal and be sealed shut forever through his grace and forgiveness.

This one. This woman and the wounds she has inflicted in the oldest parts of me are seemingly one of the last few wounds that were almost through and throughs.
There are days that it hurts so much I can't really look the pain in the face. There are days that I'm not sure I'm brave enough, strong enough, to overcome the long line of bitterness this woman and her mother attempted to instill.

But each day I wake up and I try to bet more like Jesus and less like these women.
Each day it gets a little better.
Better still now that this is settled.

I hope you're happy

I have the Wicked soundtrack!
How can I love something so much that I haven't even seen? I mean I haven't seen the musical and I love the soundtrack so much!
There's a song on it called Defying Gravity, here is a part of the lyrics:
I'm through accepting limits 'Cuz someone says they're so Some things I cannot
change But 'till I try, I'll never know Too long I've been afraid of Losing
love
- I guess I have lost Well, if that's love It comes at much too high a
cost

It's so majestic in sound, I think I've repeated that song so many times. Oh how much I would love to see that musical! The book was amazing too, and for the longest time I thought the reason I loved the book so much was because of the teacher that taught it in my novel class. But I read it again recently and it's so good!

3.14.2008

Stealing

So can we agree that stealing is wrong?
OK good.
Stealing is wrong.

Is there a minimum amount of theft that has to occur before it's considered stealing or can a value of one cent count? Is it still considered stealing if it was through an error that you aren't responsible for? For example, the business takes your credit card information but never charges it? The cashier or teller gives you change for a $50 not a $20, or a $20 and not at $10? Would it be stealing if you didn't pony up the dough on accident instead of purposely setting out to steal something?
I say yes.
Apparently that's not the case and I just shouldn't feel that way.
Apparently $4.19 or $6 isn't enough money to consider it stealing, it's considered profiting from someones mistake.
Really?
If it's JUST $5 then why don't you pony up the just $5?

Also, I am not allowed to make other people feel bad when I insist on not stealing, and who am I to try to force them to pay for something or judge them? So says the person that then stands up and proclaims that they don't think it's wrong and neither should I. Therefore doing exactly what it was that I was just chastised for doing.

Stealing is wrong. It's just wrong. It doesn't matter how much you steal or if it was your fault or not.
I used the example that when *insert company name here* sends out product that the customer didn't pay for we call them and say pay for it (even at a discount) or we'll arrange for it to be shipped back. You know what I was told? I was told that we have already eaten our food so good luck trying to get that sent back.
Really?
I mean it just baffles my mind that this is a conversation that even needs to be had between adults. You pay for what you use! It doesn't matter at all if you can "get away with it" you PAY, it's the right thing to do.
Another uninvolved person said that it was the principle to pay for it. What was the response? "I don't have any principles so I'm not paying"

Gah!

3.13.2008

Yelling at God

A few years ago I was in a bar with some friends of mine. There were a few girls that I had never met before and we were all quite sauced.
Three of us were sitting at the table talking about boys and such when one of the girls I'd never met burst out crying and went on a tangent about an ex of hers.
I mean this girl, she was pissed. She was pissed at the ex boyfriend, she was pissed at mutual friends of theirs and how they don't treat her the same now that she's no longer with him, but mostly she said, mostly she was pissed at God.
She went on to tell Lisa and I that she would lay in bed, or stand in the shower, or pace her living room just screaming and shouting at God. She said all sorts of things to us about why she was pissed at God...and man was she pissed at God.
Then we did a shot.
As cigarettes were lit, this girl fell silent.
It was like one of those moments where you could really feel that something important was about to be said, something that was a big deal.
She looked over at Lisa and I and her eyes were filled with tears, and her just recently animated face was slack and filled with palpable fear.
What if, she said, What if I've yelled and railed against God so much, that it's to late? What if he's done with me because I've been so pissed at him, because I've said such nasty things to him and about him?
She asked us if it was to late. If she pushed God to hard and now he's washed his hands of her.
She wondered if God was able to see past this white hot rage she was throwing at him to see that she was really just terrified and lonely.
This girl asked Lisa and I a lot of things that night, she wondered a lot of things aloud to us in that corner booth.
There was so much hurt there, there was so much desperation and turmoil, grief and doubt.

Lisa and I hugged her, this girl we had never met before. This friend of a friend that was coming apart in front of us with the help of j├Ąger bombs and shots bought by boys with bad intentions.
But most of all, most of all we reassured her that God was rejoicing because she was talking to him at all. God heard her anger, he took her rage and he put it on the back of his Son who hung on a cross. We told her as many times as possible that Jesus' shoulders were large enough for her cross and then some. We urged her to, no matter what or how, keep dialogueing with God.
In the moment, I was so lost for what to say. I had no idea what to say, or how to say, or when to stop talking and start listening, or stop listening and start talking. But Lisa and I both felt this absolute urgency to reassure her that the God that created this world was big enough to hold her when she wailed. He was big enough to take her white hot rage and he could bear the agony that she was feeling in the pit of who she was.

The night ended. I've not ever seen this girl since. I've not even seen the girl that was a friend of a friend that she was a friend of.
But I think of her often. Especially when I feel myself withholding what I think isn't pretty enough for God, when I feel myself depending on my own self to pretty my life up before I go to Jesus.
I thought of this girl (and told a truncated version of the story) to Deano when he and I were talking about random spiritual things.
I wonder sometimes, if that night helped me just as much or more then I hope it helped her.

The other thing this story reminds me of, is the constant vigilance that believers MUST have to not pigeonhole Jesus in a church building. We were at a bar. I had drank a lot that night, I was smoking that night, I was doing any number of other things that religion will tell you not to do. But Jesus was so there that night. Jesus sat with us in that corner booth and he held this girl as she sobbed.
Imagine what a tragedy it would have been had Lisa and I been of the opinion that Jesus is to pure and good to go into bars. Just think if neither she nor I would have gone there and hung out with "those sinners"...I mean I can't even imagine.
That night it still affects me and it's been at least 2 years since it happened.

So whoever you are, talk to God, yell at God. He can and does, and wants to take it. He wants you to communicate with Him, He wants you to take your deepest fears and sorrows to Him, you anger and rage, disappointment and desperation. He wants the good the bad and the ugly.
Because that's how much He loves us.

If you're a person that believes in a separation of some kind between the "saved and unsaved", and I'm not talking like marriage or romantic relationship stuff, there's a time and a place for discussion on that, I'm talking basic compassionate interaction with people that are not believers, or those that aren't sure, or those that are so pissed at God they can't see straight.
Who are those people in your life? Are there any?
If not, why? Is it because you're only going where "godly" people go? Are you not spending time in the gutters, with the homeless, with the tax collectors and lepers? Why not?
Because that's what Jesus did.
Being a believer you know, or should know, that you are called to be more like Jesus. That doesn't mean you should be more externally perfect, that doesn't mean that you should look like you have all your junk together. That means you are to love. Love irrationally (as Ben says), love until you don't have any breath left in your body.
Because I'm willing to bet, that at one point in your life, you felt so unloved, unseen, uncared for, until someone stepped up and loved you, saw you, cared for you. Do that for someone.

You may be the only Jesus they've ever met, and what a privilege that would be.

3.11.2008

Tethered

I saw this word in a blog today.
It was in the following context:
"When he is away I feel so untethered from my center"

But it got me thinking about the things that I'm tied to, and the things that I actively work to un-tether myself from.
I have commitment issues. Not so much in that I'm unwilling to commit to others, or one specific person, but in that I don't believe they will have the same level of commitment. So maybe that's more of a trust issue thing...but I'm uninterested in arguing semantics.

A tether can be so many things. It can be a restraint. Something that holds you down or back and doesn't allow you to progress in the way that you want/should/need to.
A tether can be used as a safety measure. It can keep you from entering into places that cause harm to you emotionally, mentally or physically. A tether can stabilize you when you feel buffered from all sides, when if you weren't tied down somehow you would just blow away.

I've been thinking most of the day about the ways I'm tethered, and the ways I avoid being tethered.

I often have this idea that relationships, of the romantic variety, would be the first one. Limiting, stifling, compromising.
I wouldn't be able to do as much as I do now, I would become weighed down and burdened by this accountability to another person in all facets of my life.
I wouldn't be able to hang out as much with friends. I couldn't go where I wanted on my vacation.
All pretty selfish reasons for the most part.
But for the most part today I've been thinking about the safety measure aspect of being tethered.

For so long, even when I was superficially tied to people or places I felt adrift. As if I was just floating around looking for a purpose, a path, anything. I would frequently have these crazy dreams where I was flying...not like Superman or anything...but flying like those astronauts that become untethered in the movies. Out of control, hopeless, unstable.
It definitely contributed to my behavior that needs not be listed here.
I would wander in and out of situations that harmed me mentally, physically, and emotionally. Like a puppy I just kept going back for more, thinking that if only I got the right amount of attention positive or negative that I would stabilize.
If I could only find the right level of alcohol and nicotine I would feel sane again.
But nothing helped.
Because I wouldn't let myself truly be tethered to anything. I would loosen the knots of the connection, I would withhold who I was, I would flee at the first sign of trouble. I would push and pull and shove until the connection was broken and I was free again.
But I was never free. I held myself prisoner from people that loved me and that I loved.
It is still incredibly difficult for me to not do this, especially when I'm uncertain where I stand with someone.

I know you're all waiting for when I bring Jesus up again. I would apologize for that...but then that would sort of be like apologizing that I'm using oxygen. So here goes.

When I met Jesus, it was the first time that I took a deep breath and truly tethered myself to anything. I very intentionally took months to decide. I talked to people (the infamous Steve) and observed church. I didn't trust that it was safe. The church I grew up in was so two faced and superficial and I didn't trust that all churches weren't that way.
I watched people, I listened in on their conversations in bathrooms and dark corners. I gathered together hope that this time could be different and that this could be something that would last.
Then I jumped in.

Slowly, I've been tethering myself to people. Allowing myself to peek through, to show all of my unexplainable moments of sadness or reflection to them and tell them that I don't have the answer to why.
I find myself dreaming now of moments of betrayal. These dreams when the other people cut tethers and walk away.
It scares me.

Two steps forward and one back seem to be working for now. I have a big weekend coming up faster then I would like in which I'll be thrown into a situation that irrationally scares me with all the opportunities for damage.
But I'll move further down this path in my unsteady way and let the tethers come and stabilize me. I'll hold onto the ropes that ground me and let the people on the other end help keep me safe.

The more I look at each relationship that I cherish the more I can see what ties us together. It's much deeper then I ever really noticed.
Some I'm tied to because of shared secrets. I get the privilege of sharing that secret and watching them disentangle themselves from the pain and sorrow that comes with holding that so tightly in their heart.
Some it was laughter that brought us together, and it's life and all it's snarky humor that keeps us together.
Some, it's time and experience. These people that have been a part of me for so long that they are as much a part of me as my heartbeat. These are the people that we can say one word, or exchange a look and we understand.
A lot of the new people it's Jesus. We are all tethered to Him and he brings us together as we worship Him and just love in His name.

Some of them are closer to me geographically then others. Some of them I talk to more then others. But they are all my tethers and I'm so glad for all of them.

What tethers you?

3.10.2008

Unexpected Grace

Grace:
Secular (for lack of better classification)
1.elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.
2.a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment.

Theology.
a.the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.
b.the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.

Church this weekend was so great. We're starting a new series called Jesus Unplugged
(pimp: http://www.4cornerschurch.com/messages/series/)

Ben started by saying that he was going to be talking about the heart of 4Corners. Which is the gospel of Jesus.

He used Romans 6:23
23For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord.

So often churches get caught up in legalistic things. In dogma that isn't really clearly in black and white spelled out in the bible (smoking, drinking are two examples).
They want to ban you from dancing because it's a sin. But David danced in the bible.
But they will shimmy and shake around the central issue of what Romans is saying.
I went on the forum this morning. Someone posted the following statement:

"there are numerous things about the church/Christians i find awfully disheartening. i would have to say that its not necessarily the people themselves, but the arrogant attitude that's either on display or needs to be unearthed. when opposing views clash in a peppering of questions, and someone says 'they'll pray you', its usually done in a condescending or patronizing manner. what they really mean is that they hope you come around to their point of view, the right one. i am simply a voracious questioner and apparently questioning or doubting is not allowed, among other things, in the faith. although many would and do say questioning is in fact permitted. but it seems what your questioning determines whether your inquiries are valid."

He said a lot more, but this I cause me to really stop and appreciate even more what the people in my church do in their everyday walking around lives.
In the last week I've had 2 or 3 conversations with people that are centered around the harm that people do in Jesus' name. I also listened to a sermon from Imago Dei on my way to work this morning that was about gospel conversations and it just all tied together for me.

I mean, I get irrationally scared to talk to people about it sometimes. But you know, there are also times like one of the conversations I had last week where I was literally asked directly about churches history of exclusivity in regards to who "Christians" will love.
It broke my heart.
I mean it absolutely broke my heart.
In the sermon this morning from Imago. Rick said that the idea that Christianity as a whole is judged on one persons and their brokenness (and God himself for that matter) is ridiculous. To say that all of Christianity and God himself is bad because you talked to one or even a dozen people that weren't expressing that love right is preposterous. I mean it doesn't happen elsewhere does it?
Does it?
Because I certainly won't eat certain places because of the service I was provided.
When I moved to Cincinnati I didn't go to certain churches because of the way their pastors acted in the bookstore I worked at.
Because when I go to those places, it often feels like banging my head against a wall. Like I'm intentionally walking back into a situation that will only cause me frustration and angst when there are so many other places I could go that I wouldn't feel that way.

So, I mean I can see where people are coming from. They've been burned. Hell, I've been burned by churches. I grew up in a church that was 2-faced and where the adults and their kids made fun of me when my parents weren't around.
I can see where they're coming from.
But I can also see where the church is coming from.
I mean, when I really met Jesus. Man. I'm still years later trying to describe what it did to me. It messed my life up, turned it upside down, and saved it.
I can completely understand where the drive comes from to share that information, that relationship with people.
But I think the harm comes when we say:
Get to know Jesus and then we'll love you.
Stop *insert name of offensive behavior or belief here* and then we can be friends and live in community with each other.

And so on and so on until it almost becomes an inability or unwillingness to love messed up people.
But aren't we all messed up?

Ben said in a leadership meeting that there are 3 B's.
I think he said that most churches have it:
Believe
Behave
Belong

But that we wanted to turn that on it's head and have it:

Belong
Behave
Believe

With the thoughts that people may have a hard time trusting this church thing, trusting God and his followers. So by entering into community and being loved unconditionally they may begin to re-evaluate their behaviors and beliefs and move closer and closer to a relationship with Jesus.

I've said that to a few people and they are surprisingly against this idea of letting people belong before they believe.
I don't get it.
I mean I know that when you are in community with people you are going to have hard conversations with them, and I think that addressing their behavior and beliefs would be hard don't you?

I'm not really sure where this if going other then this.
At some point we will all require much more grace then we deserve, then we think is possible.
Jesus will give it to us. Freely. Happily.

I was talking to John about being a believer last week, and he said that the last person he would have expected to go all churchy was me.
I told him I couldn't have agreed more.
I was perfectly content nursing my gloomy outlook on life, and my hatred of all things Godly.
Then Jesus came along and messed up my life in the most unexpected way.
For which I couldn't be more grateful.

But I wouldn't have even thought about beginning to move closer to Jesus if it weren't for Steve. Steve, who first made me feel like I belonged, then addressed my beliefs.
Steve didn't change me enough to care for me, he cared for me exactly the way I was, then loved me enough to help me change.

What an unproductively lovely weekend

My weekend should have been jampacked.
Bible study and parents coming into town Friday
Meeting and wedding dress shopping, hanging out with parents Saturday
Church, egg filling, lunch with parents and cleaning Sunday

Then it started snowing.
They closed our office at 2pm Friday and I headed home. After dropping off a coworker I stopped at Kroger for hamburger buns and some chocolate and proceeded to bunker down in the reclyner with a blanket for TWELVE hours straight of LOST.
Wow.
I'm totally hooked on this show now....which makes John so happy....(shakes fist)
I finally staggered to bed about 2 am, then woke up to Level 3 snow emergencies and cancelled meetings.
So I showered and headed back to the reclyner for another twelve hours of LOST.
I didn't leave the house once. I talked to my cats much more then necessary.
Other then cleaning the litter box I didn't do anything but watch LOST and go to the bathroom all day.
It. Was. Glorious.

I'm so torn sometimes about downtime. I feel like there is so much I can be doing that is productive and helpful (although not in regards to the cleanliness and order of MY house). So it is very rare that I will spend a whole day in my house, rarer still that I will spend most of that day not talking on the phone or sleeping.
I feel selfish sometimes when I'm spending time alone, or time doing only the laziest things.
But the unexpected snow and paralysis of the city (note: huge overstatement) forced the issue and I did nothing. I didn't feel a lick of guilt about it either.

Sunday I got up and went to church. My car was buried, so I scraped and pushed the snow off of it. I noticed that the snow plow had (helpfully) created a drift behind my car. So I used my feet and kicked it down so that my car could get over it.
While I was doing all this kicking and moving of the snow drift, there was a man leaning on a snow blower smoking a cigarette staring at me.
Lovely.
Could I be more ready to move out of these luxury apartments?

Church was great (as usual). After about 25ish people took 30 minutes out of their day and stuffed about 1500 eggs for our Easter Helicopter Candy Drop. There are only 8500 eggs to go!
I had lunch at Red Robin (YUM!) with Joan and it was fun. Good company and conversation.
Plus, there may or may not be a waiter there that I think is good looking. I can neither confirm or deny.

Then. Back to my house where I watched the last 8 hours of season 2 of LOST. I've just ordered the first 3 discs of Season 3. Man oh Man.
It was such a good weekend.


Oh, I made an appointment to spay and de-claw Gertrude Friday. But keep it quiet because she has NO idea.

3.05.2008

Is it just me

I mean, especially now with the democratic race all riled up about Hilary staying in the race, people are so riled up.
I went to a reading by Anne Lamont at Borders on Monday and someone asked her about politics and she went off...I mean OFF about Bush and how he made her mentally ill for most of the first 3 years he was in office. Then she started talking about McCain, Obama, and Clinton.
She was awfully worked up into about it.

I just don't get it.
I mean, it's obvious to me just from the people I talk to, that this is something I SHOULD care about. I SHOULD have opinions and a deep desire to vote right? I should care about the issues and the laws and such right? IS that right?

Because I sort of just don't.
Confession:
I didn't vote yesterday

GASP! OMG! WTF! and the sort.

I can't quite muster up the energy to even really care. I mean I know who I probably would have voted for had I voted.
I got like 10 text messages and emails from people reminding me to vote. The thing is, they weren't just reminding me to vote, they were reminding me WHO to vote for which I find patently annoying.
I don't know that I've ever expressed to anyone an affiliation with one party or another personally or publicly. So why on earth would people think that I would vote for who they're "reminding" me to vote for....which indicates to me that I said I would vote for that person in the first place.

I don't really follow the issues and it honestly surprises me when people, Anne Lamont being one, have such fervor concerning the issue. When they use the terms war monger and fascist I just don't know where those opinions came from. I don't really get how they have the time on top of everything else to just collect this information.

I know it SHOULD be important to me. But it's sort of not.
Can't the delegates just decide who's the democratic candidate? I think I heard that somewhere. So does that mean that all of these Caucasus and primaries don't even really matter?
I honestly don't know.

But I do know that if Ohio had a caucus I would participate because then I could honestly say to people that "I caucused my ass off". I think that would be a fun thing to say in casual conversation.

Does this make me stupid? Does this make me socially or nationally irrelevant? Does this make me a cynic?
I mean, doesn't everyone talk about how the candidates make promises and don't keep them? Haven't we been working on health care reform and the abortion issue for like a million years? How's that working for us?
I mean, I have a pretty substantial chip on my shoulder about the American way...but I'm not sure that's governmentally driven as much as the attitude of entitlement to materialism that bugs me.

So is it just me? Am I the only one that could really care less about this whole drama that is unfolding and preempting my regularly scheduled broadcasts?

3.04.2008

The last time I cried

Was today on my lunch break.
I mentioned Denise to a friend that didn't know the story (which I try to not do) and he asked me what the story was.
Everytime it seems this grief has abated even a little it washes over me anew.

In 1 months and 20 days it will have been 8 years. Eight years can that be right?
Eight years since a middle of the night phone call changed my life.

It is my hope, that all of you, even in the midst of family feuds and arguments both astronomical and petty, tell those you love and cherish that you love and cherish them.
I was stopped at a light because fire trucks and ambulances were rushing by on their way to an emergency.
It snapped me back to seeing the ambulance driving away with no lights on, to hearing the officer tell Denise's sister that she was dead when they got there.

I wonder when I'll be able to think of her without thinking of that night. More and more I'm realizing that may be never.

We do not have an unlimited amount of chances to communicate our love for people. Even living in America, in *insert small town name here*, things happen. Cars crash, robbers rob, murderers murder, accidents happen.
Do not assume that you have the luxury of throwing terrible words at people because you may not get a chance to make up for them later.

Tell people you love them, show them you love them. Don't wait until you have to tell them at their funeral.

3.03.2008

On Serving

Well, Saturday was our first Serve Cincinnati meeting.
I am...overwhelmed.
I'm trying really hard not to be.
I think I'm getting big picture-itis again.
The hearts of the 8 people that showed up Saturday morning were so big there was barely any space left in the room.
We talked about why we serve. Some of the answers were:
Because I know what it's like to be unseen and I want to help people be seen
I want to see them smile
I have been blessed with so much, and I want to give back
I want to help my kids see that their world isn't the only world
I want to help bring people out of situations they can't get out of themselves

So many more. But it was amazing to hear the hearts of these people and know they chose this group because they wanted to serve more. Many of them have so many other things going on in their life. School, kids, work and they are still as they said, "Squeezing serving in wherever they can"
I am so deeply humbled by the hearts of people at my church.

At the end of the meeting Peggy, Stephanie and I took 4 dozen donuts up to the Fields-Ertle shopping area and gave them to 4 stores employees. We said thank you to them for working on Saturday mornings and being cheerful.
It was just donuts.
But it was donuts.

One of the shops we gave them to was Bath and Body Works (yum!). The woman that was there said she was in town helping the store out from Arkansas. She said that just the night before she was telling people that no one in Ohio was nice. She said that we changed her mind.
Serving, it can and often is about helping radically hundreds of people.
It can and should be about feeding the hungry and clothing the naked.
These are big things, these are important things.

But Saturday, it also helped me see that sometimes we forget it's about smiling and encouraging people in the most mundane situations and places.
I've worked retail for a long time. Saturday mornings....when you were out the night before, when you have friends and family you'd rather be with, when it's a lovely day outside and you would rather be anywhere but waiting on people.....Saturday mornings sort of stink.

Donuts help.
Donuts won't save the world, they won't cause someone to fall down on their knees and cross the line of faith.
But they help.

How have you helped today?