Thursday, December 18, 2014


I had stopped at a cute display of wine-themed gifts when it happened. As I stared at the mustache-shaped drink marker, I felt it. The pieces all tumbled out from my core and landed on the floor. They scattered all around me.

I made a fist with my left hand and pressed it up against the hole that was left in my chest, and tears gathered at my bottom lids, then quietly and carefully dropped onto my cheeks.

I felt my shoulders rise and fall, with deep breaths attached. Not again, I whispered to myself. I actually began to wonder how there was any way I still had tears left.

I looked down at all the pieces, unsure of what to do.

They lay there, to my left. My shopping cart to the right. I gently leaned over and began to scoop them up. A woman stepped around me. “Excuse me,” she said, and I barely glanced up as the shame overcame me and the tears continued to fall.

I stood up and wondered where I was supposed to put the pieces I had gathered, and  realized these pieces weren’t what you might expect from a heart. These were grey, beaten-up looking.

Almost like they were dead.

I’ve had a broken heart before. This one feels different.

Grief comes in the ebb and flow of life, just like the waves obeying the moon. One crashed over me last night as I pulled my car into the garage when Cherry Blossoms came on and I heard In my soul I'm aching to grow/Longing for a love I've never known.

It happened this morning when I read momastery’s blog right when the words I was trying to un-break broken things entered my heart.

They came last night when I was on the phone with my counterbalance and while I don’t remember what was said, (something about not being punished) I just remember lots and lots of tears. And then daggers to my heart.

Two nights ago when my oldest friend and I were talking, the tears came when he made me laugh about Oreos. I know.

But as I stood in the middle of World Market holding these pieces, I couldn’t figure out where to put them. They wouldn’t fit into my purse. My cart had Christmas presents in it. My pockets didn’t seem very practical.

I left the store and I honestly don’t know where they ended up. But I do know that when I turned into my neighborhood, I said to myself, I have to get over it.

But I also need a safe place to fall apart, to grieve the loss of this love, maybe just lose it all and then cry this pain completely out of my body. The problem is I don’t want to do it alone. But not anyone will do.

The one with the daggers, the one whose chest I want to beat on even while my eyes are spent with weeping. The one I want, but not the one I need, to be this safe place. But I am too proud to let this happen yet at the same time can't imagine anyone else understanding.

I’m still wondering where those pieces ended up.

Monday, December 15, 2014


 It seems as though all we do this time of year is prepare.

For me, I have to prepare everything ahead of the rest of the world, it seems. My family lives several states away, so that means shopping early and preparing the gifts to ship in time for when Christmas actually starts.

I usually take off time to go see them, so that means preparing weeks in advance for all the volunteers and teachers at the church, making sure they have everything they need for when I’m gone.

I prepare my house, trying to make it all feel festive by putting up a tree and pulling out all my favorite decorations.

This year, my heart is heavy. Well, it’s pretty much been heavy all year I guess. But this Christmas is particularly painful. Which I guess is fitting for Advent, right?

[Did you know that if you google the word “advent" right now, the headline “Kris Jenner, 59, Flashes Her Ample Cleavage, Shakes It With a Candy Cane for Love's Latest Advent Calendar Video” comes up as fourth? Keep it classy, Kardashians.]

Most who know about Advent understand that it is about waiting and preparing. And most people in the world don’t even “celebrate” it anyway. This time of Advent is seen as Christmas... and it comes as soon as Thanksgiving is over for the diehards who hold out. Others start celebrating in August when the stores first put out their Christmas decorations. But they celebrate Christmas. Not Advent.

The duality of Advent hurts my heart.

The waiting to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus, who came to rescue me. [Joy]

The waiting for him to return and makes all things right. [Hope]

Joy in salvation.

Hope in what seems like will never come.

My heart hurts.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Prepare him room.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

when I think about leaving

I think about the time I had you over to watch a movie with a bunch of others and you inspected my bookcase just to make sure we could be friends.

I think about that time I was at your house until 3am playing “Your Best Life Now” and you fell off your chair laughing.

I think about the time we sat at a table at a church potluck together and suddenly I thought it might actually work to stay.

I think about the time you showed up at my door with two other friends, with me expecting the two of us to go have breakfast, but instead you all plowed your way into my home with donuts and a puzzle.

I think about the time we sat for hours while I crocheted and you sewed something and we sang to The Sound of Music at the top of our lungs. (And I recorded it on my phone to use for blackmail later.)

I think about the time you collapsed onto my sofa and declared you were moving in because it was so much better than yours.

I think about the time you paid your son to take credit for one of your moments of, ahem, “flatulence” and we never laughed so hard together.

I think about the time you walked me to my car after watching that movie at Harkins, and we talked about life and culture and movies and Jesus. And you hugged me for the first time and I knew I loved you.

I think about that time I got a friend request from you and we hadn’t even met yet.

I think about the first time I told you I wanted to punch someone in the throat and somehow, that didn’t scare you. (Well, maybe it did a little.)

I think about wrestling with 2 Corinthians 5 together, with our bibles open and our assumptions set.

I think about that time when you called me because you saw something I posted on Instagram and you made me cry. I don't like to cry in front of you.

I think about the time you licked the knee of a fellow small group member and they still haven’t recovered because of their germ phobia.

I think about the time you taught me how to make fondant from marshmallows and my hands turned pink.

I think about when you and I cried together over a loss and we were never the same after that.

I think about the first time you texted me a gif and our communication was altered forever. Still not sure if that's a good thing, though.

I think about the first I had a martini at Bedillons and we all gathered together in the back room and celebrated being together.

I think about the time I gave you bacon and you hung it on your tree.

I think about the time you looked me in the eye and knew what I was feeling and all we could do was just hug and know that our hearts were very old friends.

I think about painting polka dots and chai tea.

I think about that time sitting on your back porch when it rained, while your dog snuggled up next to me and we ate frosted cinnamon rolls and drank coffee.

I think about that Christmas gift I gave you that I knew you would be the only one to get it. Because us.

I think about getting pedicures with hot stone treatments and giggling.

I think about Trump’s lips and Jesus take the wheel.

I think about hundreds of mini muffins and you with a timer.

I think about the white buffalo. I think about music.

I think about phone calls... so many phone calls... and coffee and blankets and pillows and backyards and sweeping and laughter. So much laughter.

When I think about leaving I think of all this. I think about you. And I think about how I don’t want to go.

Monday, December 08, 2014

the hush of advent

On the Meyer’s Briggs personality test, I am an INFJ. When I first tested for this in seminary, I was borderline N/S and F/T. Then when I had to do my family genogram ( for my Marriage and Family Counseling class, I discovered something very interesting. I had my immediate family all take the Meyers Briggs and the rest of my family all tested as S’s and as T’s. My counseling professor (Dr. Zink) told me this is why I am on the borderline of both N and F, saying that I was probably naturally an N and F, but my environment (i.e. family) forced me into acting more like an S and a T. (Then, of course, I recall how Dr. Zink told me those were the two that are the hardest to be different from your family. Story of my life – once a black sheep, always a black sheep.)

What does this have to do with Advent? Weirdly enough, snow.

Those of you who’ve read my blog for a while know the love affair I have with snow. It’s God’s cruel joke that he called me to a church in southern Arizona, because of how much I love snow. I love that after the beautiful fall colors fade to brown, snow blankets the earth with sparkly white jewels than shine in the sun. Snow settles the earth down, because people don’t like to drive in the snow (it’s dangerous). They don’t go outside (because it’s too cold). Snow makes the word stop. So it should be with my heart and Advent.

I think there is some beauty with Advent being the start of the church calendar and it’s a season of waiting. “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;” – Ps. 37:7

We are called to wait for the revealing of God’s will in our everyday life. The season of Advent is about celebrating the second coming of Jesus, which hasn’t come yet. So we wait. Advent is not part of Christmas. It’s preparation for Christmas. It’s preparation for his arrival. Because I’m introverted, I prepare in a “put my head down” kind of way. I’d much rather be in my head, think it all through, then carefully work through it outside myself. I don’t always get that luxury, but that is my preferred way of functioning.

This is where I am making the connection – the “S” side of me (the sensing side, which prefers experience over intuition, the concrete over the subjective.) In other words, the things which use our 5 senses: touch, smell, site, hear, taste. For me, seeing snow sends me inside… it makes me quit and reflective. Snow does, in many ways, represent a kind of death for me. The bugs die, the plants die, the grass dies. My environment of snow is a way the sensing side of me triggered my heart and mind to become reflective. Snow is a way the world is hushed.

But here in Arizona, the season of Advent is when you go outside. It’s 70 and beautiful. The sun shines, it’s finally comfortable weather after 6 months of 100 degree temps. This is not the time southern Arizona calms down. This is the time it comes alive. Winter visitors come in droves, traffic picks up, tons of bicyclists hit the road. This is not a quiet time for Arizona. And my brain, after years of living in the snow in December, is wired to shut down this time of year. And I realized this is always helped me celebrate Advent properly.

This particular season of Advent is very much about unrest. Which should point me to hope. And, unfortunately, all it's doing is helping me see just how big my lack of trust in Him is in the midst of this unrest. This time of waiting in about hope... and right now it's hard for me to have hope. Which directly correlates to my lack of trust.

Needing a prayer for this season of Advent, that I would be strengthened in my ability to trust in him.