Time is soft there

I got a chance to read a sampling from the upcoming Don Miller book. There was a sentence in the chapters I read that was as follows:

What is so sexy about a life of fantasy is its greasy subtext, namely, that life can be experienced cheap and easy.
When I originally saw the title sentence: Time was soft there; I had a totally different idea of what I wanted to write about based on that phrase. I wanted to talk about a life that was commitment light, or more specifically, life that was lightly tethered to only a few things. I've thought for a few days about different times in my life when time was soft, unimportant even. When we were all in the Keys this past winter, time was very soft. Time was almost suspended in a sense. We slept when we were tired, we awoke when our eyes opened. We ate when we were hungry, swam lazily, played in the sand, strolled down the street and just existed with each other.
Each time I stayed with a host family in France, in 95 and 97, time was soft there. A lot of time in Europe is soft to me. It's just more enjoyment and relationally focused, not so much the run run run that I'm so accustomed to in my every day walking around life.

I wrote down these two things on a post it note, to remember to write about later. I talked to Bobbie tonight after dinner about the Time was soft thoughts even. But when I got home...when I pulled the post it note out of the heap of mess on my sofa to ruminate on...I saw them together and realized the connection, at least for me.

I've joked before on here, or on a survey somewhere about this fantastical life that happens in my head. It's funny, it's entertaining, but it's true. I tend to have an entire fictional dialogue going on in my head almost all the time. I find myself lost in the shower in the morning, daydreaming, zoning out, whatever you want to call it. But it's not about reality. There are multiple occasions in a day in which I will have entire two sided conversations with people in my head. I've joked that I talk to myself a lot, but I do.
One of my many memories of ellenjane is that she used to talk to herself a lot. She was very hard of hearing, nearly deaf, so often she didn't realize that she could be heard. Mom has said that she was talking to her brothers and sisters that had died, but I really wonder. One of the things that I wish so deeply it's part of every breath is that I wasn't a silly 15 year old when she died. I wish I was old enough to want to know her more then I did. I wish I was able to talk to her like I did with Gma in my 20s.
I do that a lot. I have conversations with strangers, with friends, with family members. With people that I don't speak to anymore, people that have long passed through my life and are wandering around in their own soft time.
Why is it that I do this? I can see sometimes, that it is an outlet for me to be sassier then I feel I should be, other times I say really snarky hateful things to people that I know I can't, won't, shouldn't say those things to in real life....grace and love admonish that sort of thing and all.
The other times, I mean...there's so many different conversations that I have, it's like a second life happening just below the surface in my mind. Fantastical really.

Time is soft there. There are no consequences. I'm not socially awkward there. I often get so lost in that second world that I have occasionally gotten it confused with reality. I've found myself fighting anger towards someone because of a conversation that didn't really exist or happen. Sometimes...it's enough to make me think I'm outright crazy.
But it's very sexy, very alluring to me. Because it's cheap and easy.
When time goes soft I can be witty and entertaining, funny and irreverent. I weigh whatever I want and am not encumbered by this body that I'm losing control of, I say the right thing, I'm no longer socially awkward. When time is soft I am fully known. But when time is soft, I am fully known by no one that is really there.

It ebbs and flows, and some days it's worse then others. I've taken to literally shaking my head to stop the conversations. But with the rest of this evolution of my heart, it's a hard break up. These conversations that often comfort me are really only further reasons to hide from conversations in real life, they are merely reasons for bravery to end at my front door.
I don't really have any answers, and I think that's ok. All I'm trying to do is crawl out of the greasy subtext and into a costly, difficult, and extravagant life.


Confession 3.0

I find it indescribably exhilarating to carry groceries in all in one trip.

I did it tonight. I literally cheered a little when I got in the house.


Are you done forgiving, or can you look past my pretending...

I've been reading the Psalms of late. They are popping up everywhere. I went to see Tenth Avenue North on Saturday night, and they called the songs they wrote the psalms of their hearts.

One of the set of lyrics in the song "Times" is as follows:

when we're close i fear you
still im afraid to tell you
all that i've done
are you done forgiving?
or can you look past my pretending?
Lord i'm so tired of defending
what i've become
what have i become?

There were several times during the concert that I felt like my heart was going to stop. I've been trying to figure out since then exactly what it is that I want to say about all this. Even now I can't really form the adequate words. Trying to describe to you the conversation I had with God Saturday night, in that crowded church, just below the volume of the guitars and drums...would be like trying to explain what it's like to see a sunset as beautiful as the one pictured above.
I had felt....far from God. Someone told me once that it isn't God that moves, it's us. So when did I move, where did I go? What had I become?
I act as if God is so small that he can't hold whatever it is that I withhold from him. I act as if he is blind, deaf, and even dumb sometimes. As if I hold whatever it is that I doing in secret just to the left and below the radar....he won't see it.
I do this through my own laziness, my own ignorance. I compare myself to those that I don't really know. I see their shell, what they choose to show the world....and I buy it as fact.
But is it? Who I perceive people to be may not be even close to who they are. Someone told me the other day a perception they had of me...and I honestly couldn't figure out how they would have come to that conclusion.

The lyrics of "Times" goes on to say:

i hear you say my love is over,
its underneath, its inside, its in between
the times you doubt me, when you can't feel
the times that you've questioned 'is this for real?'
the times you've broken, the times that you mend
the times you hate me and the times that you bend
well my love is over, its underneath
its inside, its in between,
these times you're healing
and when your heart breaks
the times that you feel like you've fallen from grace
the times you're hurting
the times that you heal
the times you go hungry and are tempted to steal
in times of confusion and chaos and pain
im there in your sorrow under the weight of your shame
im there through your heartache
im there in the storm
my love i will keep you by my power alone
i dont care where you've fallen, where you have been
i'll never forsake you
my love never ends, it never ends

The words were like a salve to my breaking heart. Even now I can't really articulate what it is exactly that touched me so deeply.
I hide, under this weight, under this shame (perceived or real doesn't really matter when there is shame), I hide behind obnoxious laughter and biting sarcasm. My arms hurt from holding myself up, from thinking that it's all my doing, this keeping together of myself. My love keeps me in his power alone...and doubting that, outright fleeing from that makes me feel such shame....shame that I also hide. I seem to think God's forgiveness is a finite resource, that it somehow will stop...suddenly...one day like my life.
But my God, he looks past my pretending. He looks past my doubts and fears. He sees into the deepest hidden parts of my heart and he shines a brilliant light in there.
He'll never forsake me, and His love never ends.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts,
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting
Psalm 139:23-24

Praise be to the Lord
for he showed his wonderful love to me
Psalm 31:21

Test me, O Lord, and try me
examine my heart and my mind;
for your love is ever before me,
and I walk continually in your truth
Psalm 26:2-3


I'm looking at them through my eyes

I went to Gatlenburg this past Thursday-Saturday. It was so much fun. The lodge that we stayed at had 14 rooms and 12 bathrooms. The living area was open up to the third floor and had these tree trunk size support beams stretching across it.
Friday the ladies were talking about how they wanted to

climb up on them. So Leah, Sonya, and Jen decided to do it, while conveniently the ring leaders Lisa and Jill backed out :)

Sonya was freaking amazing on that thing, she just jumped out and hopped along, then got into the saddle that was on the other end and acted like she was on a rodeo ride! Jen went last, and she had just settled into the position in the picture above when some of the kids (who were supposed to be in bed) came running out onto the 2nd floor balcony screaming WHOA!. Lisa who was the mom to one of the kids shouted, "that's BAD miss Jen you climb down NOW!" and then "kids BACK to BED!" Oh it was hilarious.

I taught a bunch of the women to play skip bo, and I didn't win once.

It was a great time, and so many of the stories may not be funny in translation because you might have had to be there. But heck, I'm going to try to tell them anyway :)

Jill was talking to Amy and Ava and asking where Amy took Ava (who is maybe 1 1/2 or 2ish) to get her haircut. Then she looked at Ava and said, " do they put an apron over your....your....your...area?" We all burst out laughing and Amy said, "Jill I don't take her to places like that to get her hair cut"

Oh there was also the modeling clay during the game cranium incident...while I won't go into details, lets just say the boys walked back into the lodge from (getting kicked out of) go carting to 3 women shouting male anatomy names at a woman that was almost crying she was laughing so hard.

I was really nervous going, because I feel all socially awkward and completely incapable of interacting appropriately with people, plus I just really like all the people that were going and I didn't want them to not like me (I know, and yes I realize it's like high school, I'm TRYING to get over it) But it turned out really well.

I rode home with Jill and Ryan and their kids which was a lot of fun. It was nice getting to just hang out with them instead of being focused on something outreach related. Plus, it was so sweet seeing them interact as a married couple. I mean, it was interesting the whole weekend to see couples for an extended period of time and just observe how they interacted with each other and "fought". We stopped at McDonald's on the way home and Jill and Ryan got into a discussion about something their oldest son was doing and I was awkwardly caught between them having the conversation and this half wall thing...so I overheard. But honestly to me it was just a conversation, not snapping or fighting or anything. So then when I was sitting in the back of the van they were standing behind the van and they had another conversation about how the aforementioned conversation went and it was just so sweet, to see and hear them taking care of each other, and supporting each other, and reconciling when they though they might have spoke to harshly to each other. Seeing all of these couples interacting through the weekend did my heart good relationship wise. It gave me hope that marriage can be different then the world shows me, and better then I ever imagined (but not easier)

When I got back Saturday I rushed home and got cleaned up and then rushed to Erlanger to go to Daryl and Katie's church. I sat through the service, which was great and the worship music which was AMAZING. Then after they had a little cake party before Tenth Avenue North performed in concert. Holy cow, the concert was amazing, the lyrics stopped my heart most of the night and still do...but that will be another entry in and of itself. Great night though. Plus I got to meet Tony's new girlfriend, which was awkward and fun all at the same time. It was different seeing them together, but nice seeing how they interacted. it definitely gave me a new frame of reference for her when Tony talks about her.

Sunday I went to church which was great, and I found threads of the sermon running through the rest of my day. Then I went bridesmaid dress shopping with Sharen and Jeni, which went remarkably quick. Since we had so much time to spare we headed to the wretched dress barn and I....wait for it.....hold on....bought TWO dresses. One for the rehearsal dinner, but one just to wear in general and shock the heck out of people. It should be really fun. Then bible study, I picked up Claire and got a chance to tell her on the way home how amazing I think she is and how what some specific people say about her isn't the sum of her being. I told her (through tears) that it made me really sad that these people were missing it, they were just missing what an amazing person she is, I hope it helped.

Then I fell exhaustingly into bed and prepared for a new week back at work. That trip was just want I needed, so refreshing and rejuvenating. The bad attitude of late seems to be dissipating and the communication issue seems to be clearing up, which is such a relief.


Off to Gatlinburg

I'm off to shower and pack for Gatlinburg. No work until Monday which is sooooo exciting!


When it's not humilty, it's shame and brokeness

On my way home from work tonight I listened to a Rob Bell sermon called Grace and Peace. I am totally listening to it again. It was an amazing sermon overall, but at the end Rob's brother gave his testimony, and I cried. I cried because of what he has overcome, I cried because of what he is doing with his journey and how God is working through him because of it. I cried because I recognized so many threads in his story as threads in my own life. I cried because of the awesomeness of the God that saved us both and how someone as big as God can become small enough to communicate through a whisper to the very depths of our hearts.
Rob used definitions of grace as follows ( he got them from someone else but I have no idea who):
a favor done without expectation of return
we have been given a gift without any expectation of return, the absolutely free expression of the love of God

I mean there are so many things swirling around in my head about this sermon that I can't really focus on any one of them at the same time, it was just such an amazing talk at a time that I just so needed to hear an encouraging talk about grace and peace.
It's late, and I've been staring at this screen trying to figure out what exactly it is that I want to share about what moved me so deeply in this sermon....but I just can't figure it out.

Maybe tomorrow.

Faith that looks through death

What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death

William Wordsworth


On Failing

I fail everyday.
I fail to be the woman that I hear God calling me to be. I fail to be the daughter that my parents would like me to be, the sister I could be, the aunt I could be, the leader I'm capable of being. Insert any label, and I will likely have failed in some way today, and everyday.
I fail.
But it's ok. Failure has become something to be feared, something stigmatized. Yet through my failures I learn patience, understanding, how to listen, how to love. If it weren't for those failures, how would I learn?

I had a conversation with someone that said they were personally insulted when they were given permission to fail. They come from a background that failure is the ultimate taboo, we are to avoid failure at all costs and if we fail we have disappointed and let down those that we hold most important to us.
I feel that way a lot. Like I must cover up my failures, which tempts me to lie or smudge the truth somehow.
I'm reading the blog of some people I "internet know" and they are being so public about some failures in their life. I find their transparency so encouraging.
I find the most edification in hearing from people that are struggling with their faith, with relationships, with life. Because it helps me see that this often overwhelming perception of perfection within the church isn't true, nor is it usefull.

So I fail. I learn. I get up. I move on.

The other thing that I think of is that without failure, without a falling of sorts from a perfect pedestal why do we need Jesus? Without a brokenness, without damage there is no need for the grace that comes to us through Jesus on the cross.
It's still hard for me to get through my head that the grace and love is unearnable, yet completely free.
I still strive for perfection, I still fall far short.



I have been having a shitty few weeks.
There is just a lot happening, a lot of responsibility that I feel (perceived or reality doesn't much matter when I'm in the throes of a stress freak out). I've not been sleeping well and my motivation for a lot of things has just disappeared.
I'm so far out of my comfort zone, I actually can't figure out how to get back from my comfort zone.
But it's all better. You know why?

I sort of suck at accepting encouragement. But it's still nice to hear it, even if my thank you is all awkward and hidden under the social retardation.
So thanks to you that I can't figure out how to say thank you to, I really appreciate it.


You can't smoke that it's a buckeye tree!

Ok, so if you know anything at all about me you know that I really don't care of pot humor...or pot (and/or any other type of recreational (what the eff does THAT even MEAN?)drug) in general. But oh man this is funny.

So I'm at mom and dad's this weekend and Nicole comes up to hang out. We end up playing baseball in the back yard (and by baseball I mean a whiffle ball bat and kick ball). During the game she "forgets" who Lauren is, and that he's getting married this summer (he's her brother btw). Then we go inside and we're sitting in the small living room chatting with dad and Jeff. So Nicole starts telling this story about how she thought pot was growing in her backyard. She just couldn't figure out if it was pot or not. She asked someone at school (she's in the pharmacy program at Findley) and described the plant...yeah....it was a buckeye tree *insert insane laughter here*

For the purposes of my re-telling of the story I have decided that she tried to smoke it and couldn't figure out why she didn't "feel anything" and that she wore an outfit made of what she thought was hemp...but was really the much lesser fabric that can be made out of buckeye trees.
Oh it was HILARIOUS.

Mom and Dad noticed the hole in my nose. Dad and I were engaged in a battle of the wills as to who would crack and bring it up first...he did about 30 minutes before we left to go home.

Hmmm.....there is a lot else rolling around in this head of mine. But I think it's best that I let it roll around in there for a little longer.


All that and a new hole in my head

I have had SUCH a dramatic past 48-72 hours. I mean, seriously.
I added a new hole to my head, which I really like.
I went to the doctor for the first time in almost 6 years and about had an emotional breakdown several times...and I have to get some blood tests which made me almost cry at the thought
(and YES I realize I just had a huge needle stuck in me the day before, but the difference is THAT needle doesn't take anything out and show doctors bad things about my health)
someone was fired
4 people are changing positions
communication broke down, but hopefully as of this afternoon has been reestablished and rectified (at least on my end it seems like it has...but you never know with other people I guess)
I have a secret, that I can't type here. But it's dramatic and not about me...which is why I can't type it here.
I was chastised and told to "tone it down" so back to not speaking unless spoken to for awhile I suppose.
I got way way way worked up on a thread about a conference titled sacred sex and the idea that because men are visually stimulated their wives should only wear Victoria's secret....I mean I was shaking and fuming I was so worked up...but all's well that ends well.
Now I'm sitting at my parents house, listening to mom play with Matthew and Dad talk to Jeff waiting for them to notice the new hole in my nose :)

I'm exhausted and look forward to sleeping in tomorrow for the first time since the beginning of March.


Ice Cream

I was leading preschool worship on Sunday and I heard a little squeaking noise. I looked around and realized that a little boy named Nolan had the hiccups. So I asked him, and he confirmed that he had the hiccups. "Nolan," I said, "How ever will you get rid of the hiccups?" Nolan looked off to the side for a moment and then said, "Ice Cream". "Nolan, but what if you get them again?" I asked. "More ice cream" he replied.

I think I want to adopt this policy.


Should I get my nose pierced? Because I sort of want to.


we are all much more fragile then we would like to believe

Fragile: easily broken, shattered, or damaged; delicate; brittle; frail

I went downtown to a homeless shelter on Saturday and was creamed in a game of euchre, and a game of spades. Then Donna walked in. I met Donna a little over a month ago, back when it was still pretty cold. She came in Saturday wearing a huge oversize yellow fleece, which also happened to be soaking wet from the rain. As she pulled it over her head I noticed that for a top she was wearing a black tank top, and a mans suit vest. She was so thin and pale. I didn't know a lot about Donna, other then that her mom taught her to smoke and she has seizure disorders. Saturday I heard about how she was attacked by a man that used to be her boyfriend on the street, she had the wound, hidden by a bandage, on her hand to prove it.

It's easy to see physical frailty in people, physical brokenness. But how often do we take those moments, the pregnant ones right before we say something that can't be taken back, to think about what we're saying. How often do we cut people, or even ourselves with our sharp tongues? With one foul swoop, we're shattered, we've shattered others.
It's so not worth it. The damage that we enact in those moments cannot easily be fixed, words are not easily unspoken.
Our wounds are not easily fixed with a bandage. Long ago have we passed the age when our hurt is quickly forgotten by the kiss of a parent.

We are all much more fragile then we would like to believe. We strut through life as if we are unfazed by the hits, by the unmet expectations. We like to believe that if we can only get up one more time it will somehow all be better. I believe that. Even on the worst days, I get up again and again because there is hope that it will be better. I have hope.

We can be the people that hold our hands out and help other people up. Whether their wounds are physical, emotional, or psychological we can be the one that bandages their fragility in hope, kindness, love, and healing. The funniest thing I've found about hope, is that when you give it to other people, you find it for yourself.

So after Donna had removed the wet yellow fleece, she stood from the table, and shook the rain out of her hair. Then she began the hunt through her bags for a hair tie, and did not find one. No one around had one on their wrist either. I had one holding my hair back. So I pulled it out, and gave it to her. I had more in the car, plus, as I told Donna, I should wear my hair down more often. It was just a hair tie, but to Donna, in that moment, it helped. It was kindness, it was my way of practically expressing not only God's love for her, but my love for her. Because in spite of only meeting this woman twice, she has marked my heart with love, with hope, and with strength.

How are you bringing others hope and healing today? It doesn't have to be a homeless person, it doesn't have to be a stranger even. How are you practically showing the people you love, that you love them? How are you giving them hope, helping them stand up for the umpteenth time, how are you helping to heal them?

I lie the loudest when I lie to myself

I used to lie a lot. I mean a lot. I decided in hmmmm, maybe 2001 or so that I wasn't going to lie anymore, and with very few exceptions I haven't.
But there's a lot of gray area around lying sometimes. What if it's for a surprise for someone? What if it's an appropriate secret (and what are appropriate secrets)? I will tell you pretty much anything you want to know if you just ask me. However, is not volunteering the information lying?
Ok, Jake may not remember this story but here's something that I have a question about...
He and I were "going out" in high school (the high school part is important to note) His mom didn't want us to (or something, I'm still a little fuzzy on those details) so he said that he would tell her I was his girlfriend if she asked the right question. The three of us were at Taco Bell once and she asked us point blank if we were "going out", but prior to that she had hinted around but never asked us outright. So was not telling her when we knew what she was asking us lying?
So if there are things that I'm misrepresenting to people, and I know they are confused about it, or I know they are wondering about, is it lying if I omit the information instead of purposely misinforming them?
These are all things that I've wrestled with since I decided not to lie.

But I lie the loudest when I lie to myself. I still lie to myself a lot. I lie intentionally and unintentionally. I evade and duck and cover and hope that "I" don't realize what "I'm" trying to get away with. It's all so schizophrenic this dual reality that I find myself existing in, and I'm just so over it. I find the truth in the middle of the night whispers and long early morning drives.
I lie to myself about my feelings for him, about what I really want to do, about who I really want to be. I lie to myself about how I think people see me, and I lie loudest about how I see myself.

I've been asking a lot of point blank questions of myself lately...and surprisingly getting answers. I'm cleaning house literally and figuratively and I'm finding myself getting more comfortable in who I am and what I am really passionate about. It's been rough and tumble and lovely all at the same time.


Relational Dissonance

So I have this like...amazing friend Jake. He's fanfreakintastic. He just started a new blog and his first post caused the following thoughts.

Here's a link to his blog: http://anthropologicaldissonance.blogspot.com/

The post is about many things, not the least of which is about the intent of his blog. But the thing that got my gears going was about the dissonance is found in music. I never understood dissonance musically. I always thought it meant something was wrong, that it was something that needed to be fixed.
Reading Jake explaining dissonance clicked for me that I feel the same way about relationships in my "orbit". Since I was little I felt the overwhelming need for people to just get along. If I noticed dissonance then I would be in a full out panic until it was fixed, or at least until a nervous truce had been worked out.
As Jake (very) well knows I was like that in HS too (hello N and anyone else lol)...I just wanted there to be no dissonance. None at all.
It really wasn't until late last year that I really became comfortable with dissonance. That I began to see the beauty in it, the growth that comes out of it, the intimacy that is developed in relationships because of it.
There are so many factors that caused that, but I think a lot of it came from dissonance that I let just happen. Was it because I didn't have a choice, because I wasn't able to manipulate situations like I used to? Maybe. But I've been out of the manipulation game for a few years now, so that wasn't really different. I think that the dissonance with one person in particular really helped me. I don't know how to tell that person without being all awkward about it..but the dissonance was good, there was beauty in the melody of our conversations even when they were disagreeable and frustrating. I miss that a lot, which is weird because it's not really gone per say...it's just shifting into something else. Which I suppose is natural, but I still miss it.
I still get really panicky when I sense relational dissonance...but, like so many other things in this season of growth, it's getting better.


Where crying isn't secret, it's the art of how we grieve

Crying: to utter inarticulate sounds, esp. of lamentation, grief, or suffering, usually with tears.

Art: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance

Grieve: To cause to be sorrowful; distress, to mourn or sorrow for

I don't like to cry. I will do everything within my power and then some to keep myself from crying. At. All. Costs.
I have hidden in bathrooms, I have given myself severe headaches swallowing the tears, I have wounded myself to keep from crying.
I find it shameful, I find it weak and unacceptable to cry. Just for me mind you, if you cry, well....just let it out, it will all be OK.
But me, not me. Crying is a secret to be kept close to the chest, hidden away like a skeleton in the closet. I tell people quite often that I'm an emotional robot.
I don't know why. I don't recall being told any of these things, or shamed for crying. Nevertheless, it is my secret that I keep.