Radio Silent

I am leaving for Cancun today! My flight leaves at 3pm and arrives in Cancun about 5pm their time. Once I get to the hotel and call Sharen, Mom and Dad I'll be going radio silent.

No blogger
No Facebook
No Myspace
No email
No Twitter
No internet period
No cell phone, period.
I'm turning the phone off and packing it in my bag. My sister and parents will have the hotel information if there is an emergency, but otherwise I'm going silent for 7 nights and 8 days. I am unbelievably excited about it.

Talk to you on the flip side, I'm sure the world will continue to rotate without my voice adding it's version of noise.


Who we hold close

I had this thought during bible study this week. We're studying Esther and there's a part of chapter 3 (I think) where King Xerses gives his ring to his closest advisor, Haman, and tells him to do what he wishes with it. The ring was consider his seal, signature, approval. With the kings ring Haman could do whatever he wished and what he wished was a complete annihilation of the jewish people in Xerses empire.
Someone remarked, "Why would Xerses do that? That would be like giving someone my credit card that had no limit on it" True. But I was thinking that I would probably do that depending on who it was. I would give it to several people. Xerses had promoted Haman to the 2nd position in the kingdom, he was one of his most trusted advisers, there was no reason to not trust Haman according to Xerses isolated spot in the kingdom. But it got me thinking about the people that we have "promoted" to the 2nd position in our own little kingdoms.

Who we allow close to us can help shape the direction our life will take. They will push us closer to God or pull us farther away. They can encourage or discourage us. But we are the ones that decide who is close and has influence on us.
Are we so isolated, insulated that we are incapable of making well informed decisions about who is influencing us?
My friend Pete recently emerged from some serious drama. Drama that was not his but drama that seriously affected his outlook on life and friendships for a day or so. Now, on the back end of the drama one of the drama inducers has withdrawn and is feeling isolated because of the choices they made. Pete and I were discussing today whether he should reach out to this person...especially because of the toll the drama took on Pete mentally and emotionally. We arrived at an impasse of sorts.

I'm certainly not advocating that you cut people out when they "make trouble". But you certainly should be slow to promote someone to the position of 2nd most powerful person in your kingdom. When that happens you are lending your ear to them and if they do not have the best intentions, or intentions that are in line biblically or in line with your goals, hopes and plans for life then they have an ability to knock you down and keep you there.
I've been emerging for the last few years from a pretty deadly habit of this type. I would allow people to say grievous things to me because I didn't want to hurt their feelings, or I thought they wouldn't like me if I didn't let them verbally/mentally abuse me in some way...and I so desperately wanted to be liked. I let them say cruel things to and about me because secretly I was pretty sure they were right.
Slowly but surely, I'm learning to find my identity in Christ, in the one that wants the best for me and the one that is constantly drawing me ever closer to Him. I'm becoming more confident in the woman he made me and the gifts he's given me. I'm beginning to feel calmer and more assured in the words I speak and the actions I take. Most days I'm still pretty petrified that those things will go away and I will go back to being the pile of blech I used to feel like, but I'm also pretty happy. The reason behind that is on one hand age and maturity. However I know that a lot of it has to do with the distance I've put between myself and those that have torn me down and spoke hatred and darkness into my life. Some of them have fallen away completely when I started putting up boundaries and sticking to them, others have adjusted and have actually made changes themselves which amaze me and make me so proud of them. But there are those, that are still around. I still interact with them, speak to them, etc. Things have changed between us, I've set boundaries and they mostly stick to them.
Life on the flip side of drama and angst is nice and calm, but certainly not boring.


Picking strawberries: how I sometimes ate dirt

I ate some strawberries for an afternoon snack today, and it made me think about the strawberry patch we had behind our house growing up. We didn't really live in the city, or in the country. Sort of that small sweet spot in between. There was a garden in the back and among other things there were strawberries. Sharen and I would go out and help dad pick them during the summers.
As an aside, my dad had bought us teeny tiny kid gardening equipment so that when mom was away or at work he could just put us to work alongside him. Almost 20 years later when they were moving from the house in Clyde to Bowling Green we found these little tiny hoes (I never know how to spell that word so it doesn't indicate a hooker, what a difference an "e" makes!) behind his office desk and he teared up. So sweet.
But I digress...
So Sharen and I would take these little green container out (the kind you got with store bought strawberries) and would have to fill them. Sharen always got done first, because I would pick one and place it in the container, then I would pick one and walk all the way around the pool fence and dunk it in the pool to wash it off, then I would eat it.
I remember later Dad telling me that the neighbors were mad because they could never get a garden as fertile as his, and dad telling me that he had made it that way with straw, a lot of water and manure. I was mortified and thought for a long time that the "dirt" I washed off the strawberries was really poop. I was even more mortified when I would think about all the strawberries I just popped in my mouth thinking that the dirt just made it crunchy.**

**the last part of the story may answer quite a few questions some of you may have about me**


You and I were made to worship

Worship: reverent honor and homage paid to God

Seems like that would be simple enough. But what does it mean?

Reverence is defined as many things:
feeling, exhibiting, or characterized by reverence; deeply respectful
Disposed to revere; impressed with reverence; submissive; humble; respectful
feeling or showing profound respect or veneration

Oh, well that clears it up.'
I went to Church 922 Saturday, I have some friends that help start that church and it's always great when I go there. It's a completely different church experience then the church I call home. There is shouting out, exuberant raising and waving of hands. There is a group in the corner that jumps and almost moshes, rocking forward and back almost violently if you didn't see it in context with all these other expressions of worship.
There was a man dancing and just rocking out in the aisle next to me and there was a man in front of him in a wheelchair. I'd seen him standing previously when I was there before, it seems he has a degenerative illness of some kind, MS maybe? But he was working his hands up in the air and in a way that was seemingly intuitive some men came around him and helped him stand. The man from the wheelchair stood and lifted his arms high in the air, all the while these two men stood with their arms at his waist, supporting him while he worshiped.

It's not that I think this church, or my church are worshiping wrong, I don't even think there is such a thing as worshiping wrong. I was just struck by how different it is from my usual church experience. I love that there is such diversity and so many different places that teach the bible but all look different. It a fitting together of the body of Christ, with a place for everyone.

The second part of this is just my own over thinking and confusion on what worship is supposed to look like, because I'm a clear cut answer kind of girl sometimes. I, at the exact same time, want someone to spell it out for me step by step what worship should look like, and how it should feel when I'm "doing it right". But I also love the mystery behind it. I love the moment when worship takes you by surprise and you feel God moving corporately. Maybe I need to find a mysterious step by step description...


Memories, from the corner of my mind

When I was younger my sister and I would get our hair cut by this woman in Bellevue. I don't remember her name, I think she lived out by Lyme Village, but I can't be to sure. My memory isn't always to be trusted.
She ran her salon out of her house. There was a huge deck on the back. She used to give us little Avon lipstick samples whenever we got our hair cut (and maybe permed I can't really remember). I don't think we went there long, maybe even just a few times. However, this is what I really remember about that place (and keep in mind my memory is often not to be trusted):

I remember being told that it was illegal for her to cut hair in her house, something about the hair getting in her families food. When I think of the first part I smell that perm solution they would squirt on your hair. So we had to take a round about way to her house, and when we pulled in we had to enter by the back door to avoid detection. So we would walk to the left of her garage and down a concrete path into what seemed to me to be a thick forest. This woman would be waiting for us and waving us in while shushing us.
I remember always having to go to the bathroom when I was a kid, and this woman's house was no exception. I remember the yellow flowery wallpaper in her potty and a crack that ran all the way up and down her wall.
When I came I came out of the bathroom I asked the lady why her wall was broken. She took me back into the bathroom and showed me how to push on a piece of the wall. When she did, the wall began to move, and swing out. It was a secret entrance to the rest of her house, the part that she lived in! I asked her why she had something like that. She replied that it was illegal for her to run a salon out of her house, so she had to hide it in case the police raided. I'm pretty sure that's not true, but I always felt so top secret agent when I would go and get my hair cut there.

If Sharen or I were getting our hair done we would stay inside, but when it was my mom's turn to get her hair done we were allowed to go outside. There was a HUGE multi-level deck off the back of her house, in what looked to me to be like a forest. It was perpetually dusky back there because of the canopy of trees. There was a porch (deck) swing and stairs everywhere. Sharen and I would wander around there for what seemed like hours, but in all likelihood it was maybe 30 minutes.

We didn't go there for long, shortly thereafter Hair Plus opened in Clyde and we started going there, because some ladies from our church opened it. But there was always a part of me that wondered, if the cops had raided and shuttered the illegal hair salon in Bellevue.


Loves the church

I was watching Dateline the other night. It was about a church in (I think) New England where a congregant was killed in the church office, shot. The prime suspect was another congregant. The details aren't really the point though.
There was someone interviewed that talked about how the suspect loved her church and the other members so much. They said she loved the pastor and was fiercely protective of his reputation. (It was a threat she perceived that allegedly drove her to murder this other woman) It occurred to me after this section of programming that they didn't say she loved Jesus, or God. Yes, I know it was just a TV show, I know it may have been fancy editing on NBCs behalf. But it got me thinking...

Sometimes people feel more comfortable classifying their church attendance as their God. They list all the things that are great about their church and the people in it, or when someone asks if they are christians, or believe in God they say, "Well I go to church"
We are definitely called to love the church, but shouldn't an irrational love of Christ be at the core of that? Maybe not at first, maybe not for a good long time. But church attendance isn't the point. Jesus is the point. Growing in your relationship with Christ is the point.

Love the church, love the people in it. But don't forget to love Jesus unabashedly.



I'm doing a Beth Moore study on Esther with church. Did you know that Esther is the 1 book in the bible where God isn't mentioned at all? I know, I'm surprised too.
It's been a really good study, and I'm not nearly as overwhelmed by how emphatic Moore is this time around, now I'm just laughing along with her.
I wrote during one of the first sessions the following in my notes, they aren't complete sentences just blurbs:

When you think everyone else would be God's choice He may have his sights set on you.

There is as much to learn about God through where he is not as where he is. We can learn from/through God's absence

Don't we all feel like we lose God sometimes? Sometimes I can't find God but I know he's still there...somewhere.

God never wants to be anonymous in your life
I have no idea what I want to say about those four things. They just keep spinning and spinning around in my head and heart.


My journey through irrationality

I am, at times, a completely irrational person. I have a very active imagination that most of the time does more harm then good. I am often concerned that killers lurk in places they don't, I so prepare myself for the possibility of being scared that it causes me to be scared more easily.

Case in point:
Sunday I was hanging out with my sister and flipping through the DVR. We decided to watch I Am Legend because she said it would be better if I watched it during the day with someone else. That should have been my first clue. Before I realized it truly was to creepy and scary for me to watch at all I was hooked and had to see it through.
Thus began my mounting suspicion that I'm being stalked by the undead. I would see things moving out of the corner of my eye, I would hear things creaking and see shadows where there were none. I have yelped more times then I can count in the last 2 1/2 days thinking that attack was imminent. The good thing is, the undead seem to be afraid of yelping scared girls.
I've showered hastily, sprinted room to room as I brave the house outside my fortress of solitude, my bedroom.
Last night when I got home from work, I had to force (FORCE) myself to run down the stairs and snag my work clothes from the dryer then yelping, I ran back upstairs.

But I finally convinced myself it's unlikely there are any undead lurking about my house. I settle down last night, cuddled up under my covers watching some Big Bang Theory when I hear it. A huge crash. It happened in the kitchen. It was the undead!

I jump out of bed, I look around and see that Gertrude is on the foot of my bed and Agnes is standing by the closet door so it is not them. Damn. That's one more clue pointing to the undead raiding my kitchen. I grab my cell phone, thinking that if it was the undead I would at least be able to call someone and let them know so they could alert the right authorities. I slowly open the bedroom door. I step into the hallway and yelp because I feel something hairy brush against my leg. It's Gertrude, only it's scared Gertrude. She has decided to accompany me to investigate the crash of the undead. Her ears are flattened against her head, she is army crawling with her belly to the floor, her hackles are raised and her tail is between her legs. (She acts more like a dog than some dogs I know). We creep, slowly and steadily down the hallway. I do Charlie's Angels jumps and twists in and out of the hall bathroom making sure no one is hiding behind the door or in the shower stall. I'm sliding along the wall, hoping to avoid detection by the undead as long as possible.
We get to the living room, I flip on the lamp and jump out of the hallway yelping all the way. Nothing is in the living room. Nothing is out of place. I spin quickly to investigate the kitchen and I see what has crashed.
My cookbooks that were standing up on the top of my cupboards have fallen (been pushed?) off and landed on the counter, the trash can, the floor. IT WAS THE UNDEAD!
After several harrowing moments of me hyperventilating and protecting my jugular I realize that there are probably no undead in my house. I walk over, pick up the cookbooks and stare at the still freaked out Gertrude trying to figure out what happened.

I go back to bed, start drifting off when my eyes fly wide open. OF COURSE!
I have squirrels in my walls, they obviously chomped through the drywall and ran across the top of my cabinets and are now running rampant through my house. :shudder:
Thus began a long and restless night that found me waking at every small sound convinced I was about to be attacked and eaten alive by squirrels.

I think I may need sedatives.


Best Friends and Loneliness

The other day I was signing up for my Direct TV online account. You know that online thing that keeps me from having to speak to any live person in relation to the massive amounts of money I will pay them, for the thrill of collapsing into a TV coma during any free time I may have. (Holy run on sentence batman!)
I had to pick a security question, and there was a whole drop down list of which to choose from. One of them was, "What is the last name of your best friend?" I immediately thought of Jake's post.

I don't answer best friend questions, because a) someone got super pissed at me once because their name was left off the list and we didn't speak for almost a year. It almost broke my heart. b) the truth I hold in my heart about who it is can be painful to admit.
But mine, like Jake's is someone far away, someone I am speaking to less and less these years past. Yet their name is on my lips every morning when I wake. I often think that it is their memory, clouded and muddled, that I hold as my best friend, my comforter.
I don't know what the solution to that is, to turn and face a future that terrifies me. A future that leaves me trusting people with a bruised and battered heart.
It's remarkably easy for me to tell salacious things about my life, my history in casual conversation.
Yet it is almost impossible for me to say the truth. To speak out that while sitting in the middle of a crowded room with friends I love, while laughing and carrying on, I still feel...below the surface and way down deep a dull ache of loneliness because I can't find my best friend.


Dirty Girls: The New Porn Addicts

I stumble around the internet blindly most days. I traipse from blog to blog and something strikes my fancy so I add it to my reader. One of the people that I stumbled across in a way I can't even remember is Jenni Clayville . One of the three posts she made today was on Dirty Girls: The New Porn Addicts
Here are some stats Jenni posted about women and pornography from XXXChurch.com:
  • Breakdown of male/female visitors to pornography sites: 72% male & 28% female
  • 70% of women keep their cyber activities secret
  • 17% of all women struggle with pornography addiction
  • 1 of 3 visitors to all adult web sites are women
  • 9.4 million women access adult web sites each month
A woman named Crystal Renaud is writing a book called, Dirty Girls: The New Porn Addicts. She has a place for surveys on her site where women can contribute to her research and anonymously state their struggles with pornography.
I have my own struggles with sexual sin. It is a place of deep deep shame for me and I sort of want to just throw up and never have to look any of you in the eye after this post. But the thing about shame is this: silence only perpetuates that shame.

I've posted before about my issue with Christian books that are written for women. When I was looking at Barnes and Noble for serving books I came across a book titled: Single, Saved and Having Sex . Just to be clear, I am not. But I read a lot of it sitting in Barnes and Noble that night and it crazy challenged me.
A few things:
Sometimes it seems like the main measuring stick for a single and saved person is the chastity. That and a few other things cause me to be so brutal towards myself for sexual sin in my past. I feel like I just can't get clean enough. I wish I could battle those things silently and under the radar, and about 85% of the time I can. But there are times that I just can't. Yet I feel I must because I don't know anyone else that struggles with this because it's just not talked about. (That and I have a really unbalanced ratio of single:married friends)
Secondly, we are absolutely berated with sexual images and not all of them are classified pornography every second. As a 29 year old single woman it is difficult for my self image and esteem to take some substantial blows when I hear, read, see, feel that I am not thin enough, beautiful enough, sexually promiscuous enough; when I hear that I do not want to be in a relationship enough. I struggle enough with those feelings that stem from my past relationships as well as my own poor opinion of myself. I cannot enough fathom what it must be like for younger girls, I can't fathom what it was like for me.
Finally, I got into a bit of a conversation on a friends blog about his use of the word whore. Specifically in regard to a woman in his town that had a torrid (one night) affair with his married neighbor. I certainly can't speak for that woman, or even the majority of women (obviously). But for so many years I felt invisible, unwanted, unseen, and absolutely worthless. My relationships (let's call them that shall we) with men for the most part were only a means to an end to feel seen and appreciated, counted as worthy, if only for those few moments. I can't say that's really stopped, only that I have no volunteers as it were. I only know that when I was a woman like the one in my friends hometown bar I can't say for certain I wouldn't have done the same, and done it out of a deep and shattered place. One of the last, deepest and darkest corners of my heart that God is cleaning out is my physical relationship corner. It is brutal and it is messing me up and breaking me. All I know, is for all intents and purposes God has that hidden and shameful part of me on his radar and he is not letting up.

I don't know what to say really. I'm not trying to stand on a soapbox and dig into your sex lives or even pass the teeniest amount of judgment on it. All I know is that I felt a breath of fresh air blowing through my house as I was reading through Crystal's testimony and the basis for the book she is writing and I wanted to be brave and share it with you.

If you've read all this way I implore you only one thing. Please don't make eye contact with me next time we meet, I might throw up on you. :)



Never again, I swore it I proclaimed it silently into my pillow, aloud to the empty house.
Never again, I cried on my knees begging for absolution. Never again I all but chanted. Remove this from me Oh God. Take this away from me and never again allow it to return.
The sobriety that I long for is not from liquid and powder. It is not from any drug that can be injected or ingested, puffed up and blown out. My drug of choice is sinister, silent, but equally as devastating to my heart.

I've heard myself cry never again over and over. I've given up and given in, I've turned and run away and towards my drug of choice. I've waited petulantly, I have screamed until I reached the end of my voice and cried until my eyes were dry.
But it is still calling. Come and play, just this once, God won't notice. Softly seducing my resolve into pieces and tricking me into believing I must face this on my own.

Never again, I swear it again. Never again will I believe the lie that God won't notice. Never again will I believe the slithering in my head. But the slithering reminds me that I will fail. That I will collapse into the arms of my temptation.
Never again will I forget the clear and corrective voice of a God guiding me back to the path of sobriety. He didn't stutter. He was very clear.

It is not for you
This is not what I want for you, it is not what will bring you closer to me and it will not glorify me.
It was at times a whisper of a voice. But it has more often then not been a banshee of a yell that I drown out and ignore.

Never again is a promise I can't make, but one that I make still.
Never again is my prayer of supplication
Never again


Strengths Finder

As part of leadership development with outreach Ben, Michelle and I are reading Strengths Finder 2.0. Part of the book is an online strengths assessment. Here's mine and a short synopsis of what that means. Anyone patently disagree?
Clifton StrengthsFinder measures the presence of talent in 34 categories called "themes." These themes were determined by Gallup as those that most consistently predict outstanding performance. The greater the presence of a theme of talent within a person, the more likely that person is to spontaneously exhibit those talents in day-to-day behaviors.Focusing on naturally powerful talents helps people use them as the foundation of strengths and enjoy personal, academic, and career success through consistent, near-perfect performance.

Below are my top five themes of talent, ranked in the order revealed by my responses to the Clifton StrengthsFinder.


People who are especially talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.


People who are especially talented in the Adaptability theme prefer to “go with the flow.” They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.


People who are especially talented in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential in others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from these improvements.


People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.


People who are especially talented in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it