13 December 2013

Chaotic, Turbulent, Excited Christmas

And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them at the inn. Luke 2:6-7

We paint a really peaceful picture this time of year with our nativity scenes; the trustworthy donkey and sleepy cows, gentle lambs and their shepherds, three wisemen and their gifts. This is the time for peace on earth, goodwill toward men, snow on pine trees and stockings over the fire. It doesn't matter that our blonde Mary and peaceful barn animals are unrealistic OR that the idea that there were only three magi and the idea that they were even there is just historically inaccurate OR that literally one half of the world is experiencing Summer rather than snow on December 25th, which is a solid 2 months later than Jesus could possibly have been born - because in our minds it's all so peaceful, serene.

Today on the radio I heard someone say, "I just picture Mary, so peaceful, grateful to have a place to put her baby." Now, perhaps Mary and I are different creatures entirely, but I cannot imagine this version of her. I cannot see her as peacefully allowing strangers to come gawk at her child right after she has been in labor for God knows how long. I cannot envision her being grateful that her sweet baby boy, the son of God, has to be put into a feeding trough.

What I do picture is a young woman of strength, who endured the terrible trek to Bethlehem at 9 months pregnant on the back of a donkey. I imagine her endurance when she and Joseph were turned away from the inn. I see her resolve looking at the stable like "This is doable, it will be okay, we will just tidy it up a bit, no problem, look at all this hay to make beds with! It will be fine." I see her bravery as she realized that she was going into labor in a barn.

If you haven't had the pleasure of experiencing labor pains, let me paint you a picture: it hurts. It hurts an impossible amount. And I mean impossible. Your whole body is in pain and you can't seem to remember what your body felt like without that pain. You are exhausted physically and mentally, everything about the process tells you that you cannot do it. You cannot make it through this - the epidural wasn't invented for the hell of it.

And you certainly cannot make it through this in barn. You cannot make it surrounded by animals who are probably less than calm with everything that is going on. You cannot make it when you need to make sure the hay you are laying on doesn't have animal feces because that might lead to an infection and at this point in history? An infection means death. There is no water to boil, no sterile instruments, no helpful nurse or doctor or midwife who has been through this before and can tell you what is next or what to expect. It is just you and your husband and the cast of Old MacDonald.

Do I think that just because Jesus is the son of God he somehow magically just popped out, no effort? No. That is ridiculous. He came into this world like all babies come into this world and it is not exactly "peaceful."

But it is worth it. Because suddenly the pain is gone, suddenly you are no longer worried about how you will make it through because you already did. And you are holding the fruit of your labor and he is perfect. His cry is not one of an angry 2 year old that can't have his way, but a muffled noise that is so precious. And this is the moment you can't imagine why it seemed so impossible only moments before.

I picture Mary looking at her perfect son, holding him against her chest and looking around at the scene and laughing. Because I would laugh. I would laugh at the stressed animals and messy hay. I would laugh at my husband's exhaustion from watching me be exhausted, his nervousness about being a father and plain talent for it. I would laugh at our lack and our obvious prosperity. I would laugh. There would not be a peaceful moment of quiet, but laughter amongst the neighs and snorts. There would be joy in that chaotic, turbulent, excited moment.

Because, what else could there possibly be?

10 December 2013

The God and the Mat

The yoga mat is a magical place where logic is enhanced and suspended, the stress of my mind is replaced by the stress of my body, and peace is substituted for frustration. Each breathe matters and here is where it matters the most. This is a place where I really can breathe out the bad and in the good, a place where I find contentment and satisfaction, a place where I meet God and God meets me and there needs be nothing but me, my mat, and God.


This little word. Salutations to you, it means. Not for me, but for you. The divine in me recognizes the divine in you. The God in me sees the God in you. With the pressing of palms and the littlest of bows, I create a greeting, farewell, and blessing with this little word.

Some call it sacrilege.

My mat and my little word scare some people. The people say my mat and little word cannot be separated from their pagan roots. They shun my mat and little word, they call them heresy. They tell me that I am worshiping something I don't understand with my "Sun Salutations," that I am creating little gods in people when I say my "namaste." And maybe I am.

But here's the thing,

I believe in a God who created all things. I believe in a God who is bigger than all else. I believe in a God who redeems and builds up. I believe that God wants me to be healthy. I believe that God wants me to be happy. I believe that God would encourage me to do those things which lead to health and happiness. I believe that when I breathe deeply and feel connected to His creation, this is a wonderful and awesome thing. And I believe I can worship God on my mat. That He would roll out a mat next to my own.

And I believe in a God who created me specifically. And you specifically. And I believe God lives in us. Not only because of the Holy Spirit, but because I was made in Her image. I believe I was made to resemble Her beauty and grace and power and mercy. So when I say my little word, I mean it. I mean that you were made by a God who loves you and I see what She sees in you. I see your potential and your wonder, because it is also in me! And I think God might say "Namaste" when She sees me, with just a bit of mischief in Her eyes. Not because I am worthy, but because She made me in Her image and She sees that reflection of Herself in me, even when no one else does.

This is my mat.
This is my word.
This is my God.

So I get on my mat and I say my word and I feel my God come up around me and I know.

But that's just me, you'll have to find out what you know.

05 December 2013

Far Away and Next Door

Know what I love?

I love having friends all over the world. I love checking my Facebook and seeing 4-5 languages in one scroll. I love the amazing things they are doing; from graphic design to dorm parent, Tucan Travel to Terralba, learning to teaching, single, married, engaged, young to old, stripper to preacher, loving God and people in Ecuador, China, India, Uganda, DC, Maple Valley, and so many more I feel guilty for not naming them all. I love that we have a bond, no matter how strange or distant or small. This is not a brag about how cool I am for knowing these people - this is a brag about how lucky I am to know these people.


These people are the best people. They are funny and sarcastic and ironic. They have deep, meaningful conversations about everything and nothing. They are talented; wood working, gardening, boat building, language learning, engineering, parenting, writing, hosting, singing, dancing, cooking, preaching, befriending - their talents are endless! They are good, good people. The kind of good people that make you check yourself when you say something nasty in traffic, not in a judge-y way, but in a makes-me-better way. They are people who love. They love through thick and thin and short and tall and all of the things. They love even when they barely know me and when they know me all too well. These people are the best people.

And do you know what I hate?

I hate having friends all over the world. I hate that they can't stop in and have tea. I hate that our friendship, while amazing and unique and beautiful, can't grow as quickly or deeply as it would if they were near to me. I hate that even if I go visit one of them, there will always be 10 more I want to visit. I hate that even when we are able to get together, it never feels like enough time. I hate that Skype planning is so difficult because of my and their schedules and time zones - and that I am just so bad about planning that out.

True story.

I want these best people next to me. I want to be able to call them without racking up a cellphone charge that physically injures my bank account. I want to be able to invite them to dinner, for coffee, for walks and talks. I want them to just randomly pop in because they know I'm home. I want them to see Rory every day so they aren't surprised when he walks across the room. I want them to laugh with me, cry with me, struggle with me. I want to see them more than once a Skype and on Facebook.

But then...

I do appreciate the Skypes - no matter how infrequent or regular. And I adore the visits - no matter how short or long. And I love the Facebook comments - no matter if we're besties or acquaintances. And I am blessed by the friends I have next door.

I love our landlords. They are like a third set of grandparents for Rory and oh! how they love him. I love my super amazing Monday night crew. I like our yoga and our deeper discussions. I love being real with them. I love my flakey friends - you know who you are. I love that we can not see each other, even though we want to, but still pick up where we left off. I love the people I am flakey with - you also know who you are. I love that you continue to pester me, please don't ever stop pestering me. I love the people I barely know who give me hand-me-downs, book recommendations, prayers, and winks. I love my Sunday people. I love my youth group kids. I love my girls who are no longer girls but collegiate women. I love the people I haven't met yet, the people I will never meet!

I love all my people. All God's people.

I love you because you are the threads of the beautiful tapestry of God's creation. You are the perfect example of how we are all so unique and so the same all at once! You are the people who struggle and bleed and laugh and sing. I love you all because you are different than me. I love you because you believe differently, try differently, dream differently. I love you because we find common ground in those differences. I love you because we have spoken every day, twice, and not at all. I love you because you are talented and gifted, because you share those talents and gifts. I love you because you surprise me and are so predictable. I love you because you are far away and next door.

I love you and today? I cannot even think of one reason not to.

Even when you are mean. Even when you do something you didn't mean to, when you say something you think might have been a mistake. Even when you let fear take over. Even when you are selfish, even when you are greedy, even when you forget who you are. I love you even when you hurt yourself, even when you hurt others.

This is not because I am some great and selfless person.

Because yesterday? I did not feel like loving anyone. Yesterday I was selfish and angry and sad. Yesterday, you all loved me. And that is why I am reminded that even when I have a yesterday, there is always a tomorrow. And I am so blessed to be loved by a God who loves me unconditionally and a you who loves me on my bad days, that I can love you all like that return. Wherever you are all over the world - far away and next door.

04 December 2013

Super Happy and Uplifting Stories

The blinking cursor is my enemy.

I literally have 9 drafts sitting in my blogger, waiting to be finished or edited or even begun. But I can't. I just can't. I don't feel like it. I don't want to. I don't have any desire to hit that publish button and let you all in on what I'm thinking, feeling, experiencing. For awhile I was too busy. Then I was too busy and too boring all at the same time. And then I was too busy and too boring and too involved in other things (I've overcommitted myself this Fall). And now? Now I don't want to talk to you anymore. Now I am struggling and I feel bad for not including you in what has been happening previously so why would I bother you with the negative crap?

But I'm going to.

Because the other day someone told me how much the loved and appreciated my blog.

-insert guilt-

So there's that. And I love to write and I am wondering if maybe, just maybe, much of what plagues me can be worked out on my keyboard. I've been reading a lot and it reminds me of why I love to write - because I love to read. Seriously, you should see my side of the bed. It is all books. Copious amounts of books. Stacks and piled and leaning and each one more desirable than the next and I just don't have time for them all which breaks my soul into pieces - book shaped pieces. But it also reminds me that I love to read because I love to write, and vice versa. They are the perfect little yin and yang that make up my ink stained fingers and hardback heart. So here I am at the computer again.

Wah wah.

Firstly, they are clear cutting around our house. Gross. It makes me want to move. It makes me want to pack our things and find some new house in the woods with goats and donkeys and chickens and coyotes and elk and all of the things. I do not live down a long gravel road so that I can have wide-open-clear-cut spaces around me. No. Just no. Trees are like my books. I want them around me. Lots of them. And when they are missing? I am incomplete. I just wander aimlessly or focus too much and too hard on stupid stressful things. Plus, my husband is like two trees away from becoming an eco-terrorist and I would really rather he stays out of prison. And I want my trees back.

Like, now.

So, I work for a church and our church is kind of small, which means we have 3 employees - *had. Our Youth and Children's Ministry Director decided to go back to school to get his Masters. This is a grand thing that I am actually quite jealous of! However, it also means that we have to hire someone new. We haven't yet. It's a long and tedious process and in the interim? I have kind of found myself in a leadership position with lots more responsibilities than I would like. This is not so much due to other people shirking their duties as it is me taking on responsibilities that no one else likes because otherwise, who will do all of the things?!?!

Needless to say, my life has kind of turned into a Circus - capital "C".

Like I said, I've been reading. Lots of things, but Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton specifically. I like her writing style, mainly because I feel it reflects my own, but also because her stories reflect my own. I was in tears by probably the second vignette. It might have actually been the first. Yes, because the book is sad, but not like a Nicholas Sparks novel sad. It's better than that. Deeper than that. It's sad in the way that real life is sad. It's sad like stubbing your toe after the worst day ever. It's sad like when you feel you don't love people enough. It's sad like realizing your kiddo is sick after you've been angry with them all day because they've been "whiny." It's sad like that. Which is the worst and best kind of sad. It makes you smaller, which actually makes you better.

That book makes me better.

Then there's the fact that I'm fat.

Well, kind of. Actually, not really. See, I had a baby and then that baby became a toddler and weaned himself and I lost weight and got skinny and I was super excited - except I didn't do anything, I just had a baby and the rest was science. So now I am realizing/remembering that in order to stay small or continue to get smaller, I have to work hard because I'm not 12 anymore. Yah. That's stupid. Why do 12 year olds get good metabolism when all they do is treat their bodies like crap? Riddle me that.

Anyway, my lazy self just wants to casually do yoga and continue to watch pounds shed like unwanted puppy fur in the Summer time. But it's Winter and I am not a dog, sooo... back to intense yoga and running. In the freezing. In the wind. In the rain. And I still feel fat most of the time.

And then there's Bible Study.

So, the youth group kids, you know, the ones who lost their youth group leader to University? They would like a Bible Study (did I already mention my life is a Circus?). And honestly? They need one. Because youth group is still kind of settling into what it looks like without a paid staff person and it's a little disastrous - definitely lacking structure, anyway. And the topics that the kids want to talk about? ARE AWESOME. They are so awesome. We have the best kids in our youth group. Thee best. I would challenge you to find better, more involved, more justice and civic minded students. All of them. From 2-20, they are amazing.

So now I am building a Bible Study and I thought I had a good grasp on what they wanted to learn - I was wrong. Or rather, I just assumed in the wrong direction. What do my very intelligent, civil servants want to discuss? All of the stuff every adult wants to hash out with teenagers - sex, abortion, gender equality, homosexuality, prayer... the list goes on. I'm super excited they feel comfortable enough to have these conversations with me, but seriously - CIRCUS.

Oh, also, poop.

Literal poop. Rory's poop is a constant conversation in our house because he struggles with his tummy and gets so upset when he doesn't feel well (as he should), but that makes Mama and Dada upset in turn. Because we want him to feel well and play nicely and snuggle, but he feels all gross inside and this leads him to be cranky on the outside. Every Circus needs poop, I suppose.

Aren't you so glad I gave you an update?

I know, you missed me.

And I missed you.