Thursday, May 16, 2013
Weeks into the Sacramental Baking ecourse I was taking, I’d found myself with requests to taste all the yummy food I was making. (Apparently I have very hungry friends.) This week’s homework was peach pie, with bourbon caramel. Hmm. Never having purchased bourbon, I found myself at a loss in the liquor aisle at the grocery store, so I texted a friend to ask if there was a difference between whiskey and bourbon. I was, in many ways, entering new territory. Little did I know just how much new territory.
That Sunday evening, as I wrapped up the pie fresh from the oven and placed it carefully on the floor on my car, I discovered I was excited to share it with some of my hungry friends. But also found a heavy heart. I wasn’t coming with the best news. And I realized something big about me in this process that was somewhat happy news. So many conflicting emotions.
All over a pie.
So I sat with two dear friends around their kitchen table, late on a Sunday night, with dished up pie and ice cream (as well as shots of bourbon), and I discovered a fear and an openness I’d never named before. Brené Brown’s words kept echoing in my head “Daring greatly means the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show up and be seen. To ask for what you need. To talk about how you’re feeling. To have the hard conversations.”
So, with Brené’s words in my head, over all the “mmmmmm”s and the “yummmmm”s with friends I was rarely vulnerable with I built up the courage to say it:
“I need people more than I ever realized. And baking this food has taught me that.”
Yes, I knew I sounded crazy. But shame be damned, I needed to say it.
I was “diagnosed” a severe introvert in seminary, and wore that label proudly. I’m outgoing, but people make me want to take a nap. So this label gave me a reason excuse to crawl inside of myself when things got hard. “It’s how God wired me! My seminary professor told me so.” I would shout these words to my heart in those moments of profound sadness because I’d been let down by people – the ones who made me tired. So rather than stepping into that shame and process that vulnerability with those I trusted, I sat in my office or on my favorite chair at home and cried.
With a piece of bourbon caramel peach pie and a scoop of Tahitian vanilla bean gelato in front of me, I exposed my heart and told them how much I needed them. I began my sentence rather fearfully and I was interrupted by “I can taste some of the bourbon in there!” by Mike, who has his head very nearly buried in the pie, with his shot of bourbon to this left. His wife then said “Mike! She was telling us about her class!” (If you knew them you would understand just how funny this is to me.)
I started over again, and not long after that, their son came wondering in the kitchen in the midst of packing to head back to his own home. This was no tender, sweet moment of epiphany and truth. There were distractions and even a bit of chaos, which perhaps made it easier for me. What was heard by them, I don’t know. What was taken away I am unsure of, but the battle was in me admitting it to myself and in saying it to someone other than me. And I resolve to say it again if it wasn’t heard, and perhaps even to say it again to those I learn to trust in the future.
The conversation moved toward the pain of drinking that particular brand of bourbon, “It’s like drinking a tree,” said their son, as he sat down to join us with a plate of leftovers for his late dinner. Much laughter followed and the comfortableness of that entire night was covered in the simple fact in how they were treating me – like one of their own.
“I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.” Those Johnny Cash lyrics sing inside me each time vulnerability creeps near and I am ready to crawl back inside myself. It’s never been simple as I’ve tried to be me. So much history of rejection and pain resurfaces in those moments. These dear friends accept me no matter what, because grace oozes out of every pore of their skin. Yet the fear of rejection still remains sharp and bitter in my soul.
In these beautiful moments of hesitancy and distraction, I find myself looking for ways to be still, to be true to myself. But instead of being still by myself, I long to find ways to be that way with the people I love most in my life. My family is half a country away, and in this hot dessert valley of southern Arizona, I find pockets of people to be my surrogates, that I can sit with around a table and with whom I can figure out how to be me.
Monday, April 01, 2013
Week 3 into "Sacramental Baking" course I'm taking online and finding this week particularly tough... and it's only day 2 1/2 since we've received our assignment.
Week 1 was particularly sweet, because it was the epitome of everything I wanted to get out of the course - take me out of my comfort zone (baking bread) and quiet myself (pray while kneading and practicing examen prayer). My time of kneading and praying was so sweet. It's something I want to do every day, except that I would have so much bread I wouldn't know what to do with it all.
This week, even though I'm an introvert, I know is going to be difficult for me. We are to practice silence.
I'm okay with learning how to quiet myself, as long as I am doing things that come pretty easy to me. I'm such a hypocrite. Really.
My parents and my brothers are here in Arizona, staying in my house, until Thursday. My dad and my brother are very extroverted, needing to be around people to get their energy While my mom thinks she's an introvert, she nowhere near the introvert I am, so my house is very noisy this week. I used to a pretty quiet house (so I thought) until I realize just how much I DO have noise in my life. Music is almost always on, if the TV isn't. I listen to music while I read, clean, etc. Goodness, I even have a noise machine that I claim to have purchased to drown out the incredibly loud sound of the crickets in the summertime. But I still use it during the other months.
My life just isn't silent. So for this week, when it's especially not silent due to visitors, I have to laugh a little. This is just such a God thing... he knows how stubborn I am. He also knows I'm pretty ready for a challenge (at least, most kinds) so I just know he really wanted to make sure that the week I would struggle with the most he would put more obstacles in my way. This is how I learn best. I don't learn just by trying and practicing something. I learn by uncovering all the stuff that lies on top of the thing I need to learn. I have to dig in order to "get it."
Oh, Heavenly Father, you really get me, don't you?
Saturday, January 19, 2013
In many ways, I am happily leaving 2012 behind. In other ways, I’m scared for what this means for 2013.
My first two years in vocational full-time ministry have been painful. They’ve been a struggle. But I have never loved Jesus more in my life. So it’s impossible to say that I, in some way, have screwed this up. But I sense some pretty big changes ahead. I’m not sure if they will be for me personally or if they will be for this church I serve, but big changes I know will come. As a creature of comfort, change is a scarry thing. As an introvert, there are plenty more things that scare me.
This is why my word for 2013 is what it is.
Let me back up - I’ve been inspired this year to have a word. A word that challenges me, a word that is a prayer, a word that I intentionally allow to play out in my life in 2013. I’ve seen a few other female bloggers do it and I like the idea. For me, I see it like the umbrella I no longer get to hold (I live in the desert now, for heaven’s sake).
But I can still picture myself with a polka dot umbrella over my head, my hand extended to feel it all and this word landing with a thud and then running over the sides of my umbrella and surrounding me.
I am completely committed following of Jesus Christ, but there are still some parts of my heart that I keep off-limits to him. For 2013 I pray that I will not only do anything he asks of me, but that I will embrace the anything he asks of me. Even if it pushes me into the dark places of my heart I am not ready to expose, even if it scares every inch of me, even if I am not ready. I will be and do anything.
Monday, December 31, 2012
I had the privilege of reading Zach Eswine's book, Sensing Jesus, through Net Galley, this winter. What a privilege it was.
Not only does Eswine help you understand the emotions behind what it means to be a ministry leader and a follower of Jesus, but he builds a solid foundational base on scripture by which to stand as one. The author talks you through all the feelings of being broken and beaten-down in ministry and reminds you that Jesus is where you hope lies.
I felt like, as I got further and further into the book, that I was getting to know Zach as a friend and brother in Christ. His writing style is personal, poetic, and reads much like a memoir (my favorite genre of books).
I truly felt that not only was I not alone in experiencing what I had in ministry (the ups and downs) but also felt as if I had a true friend in the author. A book that gives me a sense of who the author truly is, rather than how they want me to see them, is the best kind of book. His authenticity and transparency is remarkable.
Zach is a great writer, who writes with deep feeling and honesty. He writes with a poetic soul, the words more like a symphony than a sentence, reminding us that we are highly creative beings, made by a wonderfully creative God.
This is a must-read for another going into the ministry and a wonderful balm for the soul for those who've been in it for a while. Zach truly has an understanding of the human heart, and isn't afraid to be open and honest about the struggles we all go through as we seek to serve God in the local church.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Do we really need one more voice out there about this?
Probably not, but I’m going to say it anyway. Because one thing I will not stand for is when the people of America make a three-dimensional issue a one-dimension issue.
This is not about guns... primarily.
This is not about values... primarily.
You cannot say today’s culture is void of values and that’s why a massacre happened. People were killing each other long before the culture was where it's at now.
You cannot blame the use of guns on it either. Adam Lanza didn’t have a gun. He stole the guns he used in this massacre. A criminal will find a way. I don’t believe we should make it easier, but by remove the right to bear arms from our constitution is a one-dimensional way of solving the problem.We have to take a long and serious look at our gun control laws. We have to. But that's not the end of the story.
Because if we were to take away the right to bear arms in this country, it would not change the human heart.
This is an issue of idols.
When I was a kid, my mom used to make me pull the weeds out in the flower beds around the house. When she taught me to do it, she made it clear that if I didn’t grab and pull up the roots too, the weeds would come back. It’s the exact same thing with idols. By removing the things that tempt us in the first place we are only taking care of the surface issue, not the root.
I have a surface sin of criticizing others. I can stop doing it out loud, and I still keep doing it in my head. All that really does is make myself look better in front of others (by not voicing my judgments) and not hurting others’ feelings. These are all good things to aspire to, but it’s not making me less critical of others, it’s just allowing my critique to fester inside. It’s not changing my heart and attitude toward people – the people which need love and grace and someone to come alongside them to care for them in the midst of their brokenness. This is how I should deal with people – not critique them. But I cannot change my feelings towards them by simply stopping my criticism. I have to learn to love people in order to truly change from the inside out. (This also doesn’t mean I should keep on being critical – the answer is never to just “Go on being a terrible person because it doesn’t matter anyway.” That is definitely not what I am saying.)
To quote a very wise man, RC Sproul, “the problem of evil is the problem of us”. We are born evil and Christ is in the process of redeeming us. Without recognition that we are bad people who do bad things to other bad people, then we can’t figure out just how we could solve this tremendous issue facing our nation. If we simply change the law, it will not change our hearts. We must start with the human heart. It is broken and in need of repair. Only the one who created it can repair it.
The question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” can only be answered this way. “That only happened once. And he volunteered for it.”
That man was Jesus. It’s because of his self-sacrificing love that I can be changed. We all can.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
It’s hard not to seek answers during a time like this in our country. It’s hard not to keep your eyes glued to the TV as the news coverage uncovers all the details of a national tragedy.
It’s also hard to simply let yourself heal.
My therapist in seminary told me I move on too fast. I hadn’t thought about that before, but I realized she was true, especially once I had the experience of grieving through a loss before then seeking answers. I thought seeking answers would help me heal.
Moving on is the natural instinct in a situation like this, because we just want to the pain to be over. But by not feeling the pain, we are stunting our emotional health and most importantly, our hearts become hard.
The news is making me very angry tonight. Investigative reporters are pushing, pushing, pushing to blame, blame, blame. Blaming the mother, blaming the school’s lack of security. They are even analyzing the statements made by parents of those who lost children and asking physiologists to tell the world how the parents should be reacting. WE GET IT.
But stop. Seriously, stop it.
Let us grieve. Let us process the nature of this evil and the children who died senselessly. It will not help us to hear about why this killer’s mother had so many guns. It will not help us to hear that the killer was mentally ill. It will help us to hear about the children who died. It will help us to hear about the heroic acts of the teachers inside that classroom.
Let us cry. Let us grieve. Stop giving us answers, stop assigning blame and start giving us hope.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Saturday, July 21, 2012
During May and June (as I have many, many times before) I crawled into myself and stayed there. I was a functioning introvert. I still went to work and small group and church and a few social things. I still taught a class on Galatians, lead a book club discussion, lead a 9-week study in my small group, counseled several hurting people and even did a few social things here and there. I was upright and talking (maybe with my eyes glazed over a bit) with a coffee cup in my hand and an ache in my heart. But – I remained inside of myself.
I closed off that ache to the rest of the world. I remained a servant letting no one serve me. I didn’t tell anyone what I was going through, partially because I didn’t fully understand it myself. See, us introverts have to process it all inside our brains and our hearts first before we can even begin to think about sharing it with someone. Then comes the arduous process of figuring out who to share it. Will it be the best friend? The pastor? The mentor? The counselor friend? The mom? “Who will it bother the least?”, are the questions typically asked. “Who will judge me the least?” “Who won’t repeat to anyone?” The introverts always asks “Who can I trust with my heart?”
The introvert usually has the solution worked out in their head already, whereas the extrovert talks to get to the solution. So the introvert (me) doesn’t always even share the issue with anyone… why bother, since the solution is already figured out? All it will do is take up someone else’s time for no reason… because for the introvert (me again) the reason must have a tangible end goal. Never mind that sharing may help create community with you (ahem, me) and someone very special.
This is what happened to me last week, over peach tea and a pita pocket, after a shopping trip to Trader Joe’s and Hobby Lobby. An extrovert pointed out to this introvert that she felt left out. And in doing so, reminded me that I needed to ask her for help. This made her feel like I was truly her friend, like I was needing her and in relationship with her. In doing so, this also helped me ease the burden I’d largely created myself – unnecessarily.
Friends who push me to be better (and less introverted) are how God caused waters to flow.
this post is part of the he caused waters to flow project.
Sunday, July 08, 2012
I've never liked kids. I've never wanted to have them, never wanted to work with them. I only do so now because it's a small percentage of my job, and thankfully God has made me not hate them in the process. Today I talked to the kids in Children’s Church about how our sin separates us from God. We read the story of Jonah running away from God and how that's just like when we sin - we get further and further away from him. These kids just love this book. They love the pictures, the way she writes (it truly is a story bible) and the crazy way I give characters funny voices. How did I get here? I have no idea.
Thursday my plumber came to replace my garbage disposal. As he was working I was cutting up a paper towel core, putting slits on each end and putting them together to make an ichthus. Then painting it with glue and adding glitter.
I'm single, 37, never wanting to have kids and this is my life. I work on kids’ stuff for church.
I'll admit, if I didn't have to I wouldn't be doing it. It's most certainly not in my sweet spot. Give me an adult asking me my opinion on the Northern or Southern Galatia theory any day. But I have learned, in writing curriculum for children, how it reminds me that if I can't explain it so children can understand it, they I don't understand it myself. Watching those kids today gobble up The Jesus Storybook Bible and the story of Jonah gave me water for my soul. So did my cute new plumber who said to me, “man… you can make something out of everything if you try,” as he watched me get glitter on my face.
“He made streams come out of the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers.” (ESV)
This post is part of the he caused waters to flow project.
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
It's 75 degrees outside right now. And it's July. In ARIZONA. Never, ever happens.
Monsoon season is strange to this Midwestern girl. I'm used to storms, most certainly, but these are very different. There is usually a great deal of lightening and very little thunder. Most of the time it’s just small and big haboobs, caused my lungs to fill with dust and sneezes for days after. Never have I experienced a monsoon day that is cool like this one. I know this is God’s gracious care for me filling my heart. My heart that was desperate for a filling up. The air smelled like I was back in Nebraska this morning and nothing has ever felt so sweet.
It not much… just a little rain. For right now I’ll take it. Because rain has come to symbolize something for me since I moved to the desert. It’s come to symbolize home.