A Matter Of Perspective

Today has been a crazy day.  I've argued with people I love and care about and I've loved people that I've argued with too much recently.  One thing I realize is that there are times when saying too much is a problem, but more often than not, I feel like it's when we don't say enough to one another that the problems grow.

I'm speaking intentionally in vague generalities... as it's been a day for that.  I process by talking or writing (or more accurately, in this age holding conversations in writing).  In the "good old days" I'd have died of confusion and impatience waiting for the post office.  Today... I have an entire network of "perspectives" at my fingertips (literally) when I need to process something.

Ever used Twitter or Facebook?  You need an answer to a question?  Ask on Twitter or set your status on Facebook... usually within minutes you'll have several possible answers and if you're lucky, maybe even a conversation between several people discussing the pros and cons of each possibility.

For deeper, more meaningful conversations, blogs with comments and/or emails suffice.  I think about something (like the nature of conversation in the modern age), pontificate about it for a while on my blog, and then just wait for someone out in cyberspace to read it, ponder it themselves, and then comment or email me with something related (or opposing) to ponder.

My latest issue of Relevant Magazine came in the mail today.  I was flipping through it quickly, while awaiting hubby's return from work so we could go out for a much-needed dinner date, and came across an editorial page on the instant gratification of the twitter generation (or whatever the actual terminology used).  It was all about the pride and arrogance associated with assuming the rest of the world cares what you're doing every moment of every day.  And there is a certain truth to that I suppose. 

But if you don't care what I think, why are you still reading this?  No one is forcing you to.

And I said as much to a friend today in conversation.  She was worried that I put too much of my heart on my sleeve in this blog.  Maybe she's right.  Maybe I do.  But how anyone chooses to read this blog is their business.  I write because it's who I am.  It's what I need to do.  It's how I process things around me: by positing my opinion and waiting for others out there to express their agreements, objections, and overall perspectives.  

Because that's what I'm after: your unique perspective to sort through along with mine and my experiences.  It's how I make sure that I remember the world is bigger than just me and my minuscule viewpoint.  Because when I share with you and you share with me your thoughts, feelings, observations, and experiences, we grow closer.

And while there is something to be said for flesh and blood interaction, the truth of the matter is that I feel no less close to those of you with whom I carry on deep and meaningful conversations via the wires on a regular basis than I do with people that I interact with in person (sometimes on a fairly superficial level).

And that is what true communication is about.

Writer's Block

Words well up inside
With no outlet they hide
Tired of fighting

Reduced to mere babble
Strangers unravel
With nothing inviting

So I try to unload
With poetry and prose
Hoping for enlightening

Where is my muse
Lost and abused
Poetic passion frightening


Earth Quakes

   takes tremors
   quakes quiet
   shakes shadows 
   breaks buildings
   makes madness

Roads rumble
Ground grumbles
Foundations fumble
Trust tumbles
Confidence crumbles
Souls stumble

   she slumbers
   silently slipping
   stars surrounding
   serenity silencing

the bumbling waking Earth


Back In The Atmosphere

Sometimes I forget that I have the most wonderful husband in the world.  

Seriously.  I forget.  

He's sweet and he's wonderful and he loves me no matter what I do or where I go or how often I forget that he's there.  And sometimes I get all caught up in myself and my needs and forget that he's just as much a part of "us" as I am.  

And I take him for granted.

And sometimes it takes nothing more than a simple reminder from him.  I get caught up in my "need for romance and magic" that I forget how magical the undying love of devotion and commitment can be.

How much magic is there in the fact that my husband's grace and forgiveness never seem to run out?  How much romance is there in the fact that, much like the Great Romancer of my soul, even when I forget him or take him for granted, he still needs me and loves me ... perhaps even more so than he loved me the day before? 

Even when I run and hide, he chases after me and pulls me back to him.  And even when I don't know what I want or need, he gives me the time and space to figure it out, trusting that in the end I'll realize he was standing there the whole time, just waiting for me to realize it was him all along.

So now, I'm "back in the atmosphere" and being reminded of all this, hoping that next time I feel the need to "space out" on him, I'll take a look at this, and "land" a little sooner.


Who Am I?

I'm endlessly fascinated by personality tests.  Call it a burning desire to figure out the how and why of who I am and what I do.  It's a struggle to understand, not only myself, but those around me.  I detest labels, because they tend to be superficial and not really get into the heart of who a person really is, but I do find that analysis of oneself (and those with whom one associates regularly) is not a bad thing. 

Personality tests are useful as springboards for understanding.  They should NEVER be used to pigeon-hole someone into being or acting any particular way.  The results of said tests are never the answers to who we are, but rather the introduction of further questions and avenues for self-discovery and growth.  And personality tests can help us to better understand why we respond to things and react to people the way we do.  If used correctly, they can be a means of developing greater understanding between people as we are capable of noting the similarities and differences between us and acting in grace accordingly.

One of the tests that is most familiar to the world is the Meyers-Briggs.  I've taken this several different times in my life and I call myself an XNFX.  The X means I fluctuate between the two sides of the spectrum in those categories, based on situation.  I have discovered that I'm very solidly in the NF category however, which means that I tend to be an emotionally driven person (which is in direct contrast to my highly logical husband).  The older I get the more I swing toward the Introvert side of the scale as well as the Perceiving side of the scale, but again, those are purely situational.

My favorite test is the Enneagram.  I actually took a full-day seminar on this at our church.  This is an intriguing test full of complexity.  If you do a full test (not the one linked here, but through an actual class), you learn about not only your main personality type, but also your wing (which is the type on either side of you that is higher and colors your main personality), but also the types that you may gravitate toward in times of either stress or peace.  There are healthy and unhealthy versions of each type of personality.  

And it's tough to boil down all the philosophy into a "simple" explanation.  However, the idea is that God is the perfection of all 9 personality types and (s)he has placed in all of us the capacity to exhibit all 9 types as well.  As we strive to grow and change in our lives, we are working toward a healthy balance in our personalities.  Of course, we're all human and therefore imperfect, so we tend toward one type more than others.

So here's the part that is even more fascinating to me.  When hubby and I were engaged, we took the tests the first time (simplified versions as part of our pre-marital counseling).  He came out a solid 9 and I came out a solid 1.  For years, we joked that I'm the manipulator and he's the doormat and we like it that way.  We took said seminar about 5-6 years ago and came out roughly the same.  Although, my 4 was only a few points behind my 1 (and not to get into all the theory and stuff, but 4 is where a 1 will go in times of stress apparently).

Now, here we are in 2008.  In the past couple weeks, I've taken the test twice... Both times I came out solidly 4.  In fact the first time I took it (online this time around), my 1 was non-existent.  It's like my creative and artsy side decided to put the smack-down on the perfectionist side of me, sending my sad little 1 limping and bruised to hide in a corner somewhere.

Now, what does that tell me?  I don't know.  Am I really changing?  I mean, people do change over time, but in reality, one's main personality type (as I understand it) shouldn't change -- not THAT much.  Did I do the test wrong?  The first two times?  The last two times?  Did I allow situations and circumstance to color my responses?

Or... am I really two people warring inside?  The inner poet and the inner perfectionist.  I think this is me.  I'm constantly struggling to balance the two.  I don't know how I fit into Enneagram theory anymore (surprise, surprise as none of these tests are ever simple... particularly for me).  I'm a 1 sometimes and a 4 sometimes, and maybe I'm about THIS close to having a multiple personality disorder?

Or maybe it just means I'll spend the rest of my life trying to figure me out, and frankly, that's okay with me.  Keeps life interesting.


Melancholic Mistletoe Musings

So, today began the official "Christmas Get Together Marathon" for us.  

Today was spent with our kids, my parents, and my BFF and her hubby & daughter at our house.  It was a nice laid back sort of day with lots of food and random geekiness (playing with new computer gadgets & software, Little Man's new WiiMusic game, and a round of "Lord of the Rings" game that hubby got several years ago for Christmas and rarely gets to play).

Tomorrow is the gathering of my husband's family.  We go to his parents' place and enjoy more merriment and tons of food (despite the fact that the ice storm earlier this week prevented my m-i-l from making her pre-holiday grocery run).  One of my brother-in-laws will be there ("Uncle Matt!"), hubby's uncle and aunt, his grandmothers and of course his parents.  I suspect a phone call will be made to my sister-in-law in Texas who will be celebrating with her new hubby and the other brother-in-law.  The three of them decided not to make the trip up this year.  So, it'll be like something is missing, but we'll have a good time regardless.

The next day, we get together with my brother & sister-in-law and my parents.  We're not doing our usual fondue dinner this year, but Dad's making crab cakes and I'm sure there will be the usual round of board games after dinner.

The following week will be filled with small gatherings of close friends, some of whom we see only at Christmas and on rare unexpected visits.  

And this continues through to the huge family gathering of my mom's extended family on New Year's Day.

I guess I'm having a hard time getting into the "Christmas vibe" this year.  I mean, I'm enjoying time with people that I love, don't get me wrong... but there just seems to be a lack of the "magic" that I used to feel around the holidays when I was a kid.  I'm trying hard to make sure my kids still get to experience it, but I have to wonder if I am succeeding in creating that for them.

Frankly, this year has been rough for me.  There have been a lot of tears in our house (especially lately), and those tears are definitely dampening the holiday spirit around here.  Today was a good start for us in enjoying family time together, but I know my fuse is still short, and grouchy kids (from the crazy holiday schedules and strange eating habits) aren't really helping me much.  

I'm hoping that in the next few days we can regain some of that "joy" and with that, perhaps a little Christmas magic.  I'm trying to see Christmas through the eyes of my five-year-old, but even he's feeling a bit "glazed over" with his usual winter-long respiratory ailments that make him feel miserable.

So... No matter what holiday you celebrate, this is for everyone I love (including myself), a reminder of the true magic of Christmas...

Christmas Wishes

Silence at night
   and Peace on earth 
Joy to the world 
   from Love incarnate

The warmth of True Communion
   sweetened with Forgiveness
Amazing Grace unmeasured
   a little holiday Magic

I Guess I Still Believe...

So... I found a fun little quiz (thanks to my beautiful cousin), that I wanted to take to test whether I should call myself "Christian." Apparently so... maybe I should retake the quiz?

My Results:

1. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (100%)
2. Baha'i Faith (89%)
3. Liberal Quakers (85%)
4. Unitarian Universalism (78%)
5. Orthodox Quaker (75%)
6. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (74%)
7. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (70%)
8. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (66%)
9. Jehovah's Witness (66%)
10. Neo-Pagan (61%)
11. Mahayana Buddhism (61%)
12. New Age (58%)
13. Sikhism (58%)
14. Seventh Day Adventist (57%)
15. Theravada Buddhism (52%)
16. Hinduism (51%)
17. Reform Judaism (49%)
18. Eastern Orthodox (48%)
19. Roman Catholic (48%)
20. New Thought (46%)
21. Orthodox Judaism (45%)
22. Jainism (41%)
23. Taoism (41%)
24. Secular Humanism (39%)
25. Islam (35%)
26. Scientology (32%)
27. Nontheist (19%)


I'll Pass On The Ear, Thanks

Today I sit here on my own... staring into the shattered reflections from a broken soul.  Life is hard.  We screw up... pretty much everything.  I look around me at relationships that seem so far gone that it's only by God's grace that the disasters aren't immensely worse than they are.

We struggle in this life.  And those of us in touch with our inner demons of artistic and creative torment (otherwise commonly referred to as "depressed" ironically) -- we struggle more.  We have to live the pain to know what passion is.  And we apparently feel the need to drag those we love through it with us.

So however many years ago it was on this day, another incredibly depressed artistic man named Van Gogh, a broken man, gave a piece of himself (literally his ear) to a woman he "loved".  I'm sure his intentions were good.  I'm thinking if someone offered me a bloody and disconnected body part, I'd be a tad grossed out, regardless of their intentions.

And yet, don't we do that to each other all the time?  All of us are broken or hurt in one way or another.  And all we can hope for in this life is the connection with another...  and we seek to offer our broken and mangled pieces of ourselves to one another.  And sometimes it works, and souls mingle... but only temporarily.

Because we're not capable of maintaining such an intimate connection with another on our own.  We need the help of someone higher than we are.  The only one who can truly understand our broken souls, can heal our broken souls, and can allow us to truly connect with anyone... is God.  (S)He longs to hold us close, to kiss away the pain, to show us true and unbroken love.

My personal resolution for the coming year (to borrow a concept) is to learn to feel and truly understand this true love, and to in turn share it with the world around me, in a pure and unblemished soul connection.  In the meantime, however, I'm asking for outside help in this area, because I know it's gonna take me time to get there, and I know I cannot get there alone.

And there is never shame in asking for help...  the only shame I find in love is within my own misguided intentions.


   (for friends who are hurting)

My hope is, soon, I'll see you smile
and know that you're okay
But until then I'll walk a mile
to be out of the way.

What needs to be for you and me
is nothing for a while
So now I go, hoping to show
you'll make it through this trial

There's someone there who needs you now
and craves the where and how.
There's letting go that falls short of
the snow of endless love.



Communication... I'm pondering this today.  It seems like no matter how far we come as humans, we keep falling into the same pit, the inability to truly understand one another, the inability to truly communicate.

Thousands of years ago, there were these people and they wanted to touch God.  And so they decided to build a tower to reach heaven.  And as they got into their project, the same thing happened to them that happens with any group of people when they get together... they stopped being able to communicate with one another effectively.  Now, I wasn't there and don't know what happened exactly.  

When they wrote this account up in the bible, someone decided to blame it on God.  Like (s)he was just sitting up in heaven waiting to create all sorts of chaos below (kinda like Puck in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream almost).  Right... Because God has nothing better to do than screw up our plans to understand her/him (and each other for that matter).

So... maybe it was more a matter of people not understanding one another, being too caught up in themselves to really be able to take the time to hear each other.  And so... in their pursuit of a perfect relationship with God, they failed... due to miscommunication.  

And we still have this problem...  We still can't communicate effectively.  We hide ourselves behind little walls of towers... trying to reach perfection in our relationships -- with God -- with each other... and we fail miserably, because we can't communicate.  We try and it's like we speak different languages.

Or maybe that's not how it went.  Like I said, I wasn't there.  And only God knows.  And if (s)he is just sitting up there and laughing... well, I guess we're all just doomed to babble randomly at one another forever...


An Addendum For Dichotomy

Yes, I'm aware that my last two posts seem to be in direct contradiction to one another.  I assure you, they're not.

My life journey consists of finding the Truth, finding who I am, finding who God is, finding the how and why of my existence.

I ascribe to the "elephant theory"of religion and Truth.  Ironically, when I googled this to link it, I realized that it comes from a Hindu poem/fable.  This makes me laugh inside, because many of my readers may find this to be a further contradiction.

I grew up Christian as most of you know.  I don't like to be called a Christian anymore though, because the associations of pain, condescension, and hypocrisy ascribed to this title make me want to run far, far away from anything and everything associated.  I tried to turn my back on all of it at one point near the end of high school and beginning of college (yes, while attending Christian schools in both cases).  I'm jaded... plain and simple.  As far as I'm concerned... the church is more or less... wrong.

HOWEVER, I keep coming back to the teachings of Christ as my primary lifeline and use HIM as my life's role-model.  I still attend (and am involved in serving in) my church, because, I do worship the God of Christianity.  But my God is bigger than that.

I study and listen and process opinions and beliefs from many sources.  I will spend the rest of my life searching for pieces of the elephant around me that will help me to understand this larger view of God.  While this intimidates many people, I find this to be the source of continued joy and wonder for me as I continue to delve deep into my understanding of and relationship with God,  and the world & people (s)he created for me to know and love.

I don't wanna ever end this journey.  Join me?  It's worth it; I promise!



We pour out our cups
  solitary and sterile of sickly sweet grape
We each take our piece
  the body we’ve bought – tiny crackers, unbroken

“Do this in remembrance of me.”

What have we become –
  a communion of cowards?
What’s sacred in this –
  a simple scion’s snack?

“Do this in remembrance of me.”

Remember the wine –
  bittersweet broken bliss
  suffering sanguine sweat
Remember the bread –
  bared, battered, bruised, belittled
  silent solitary submission

The act of exchange –
  My life for your loss
  My loss for your love
  My love for your life

Will I choose for my brother, my sister, my friend –
Will I choose for my traitor, my betrayer, my foe –
  the one-on-one, sacred,
  the bidirectional, literal
    sacramental sacrifice?

If I can’t share the wine of your sorrow
  and the bread of your pain, your passion, your person
Then who am I to bear burden the name of the ONE
  for Whom we do THIS in remembrance?

“Do THIS in remembrance of me.”

Wisdom from Buddha

"Meditate.  Live purely.  Be quiet.  Do your work with mastery.  like the moon, come out from behind the clouds!  Shine."

"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."

"A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering."

"What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life tomorrow: Our life is the creation of our mind."

"No one saves us but ourselves.  No one can and no one may.  We ourselves must walk the path."

"Peace comes from within.  Do not seek it without."



Dawn has broken the endless dark.
The rain has stopped.
The sun has risen in the great blue sky.
The wind blows strong and cold, but no longer bites.
The crisp air a reminder of new life & love.

Today is a day for splashing in puddles.  

Tonight is a night to DANCE!

(Thank you to my husband and our two very special friends 
who brought me to this place today!
...And thanks to my friends who walked me through the stormy night.)


Rainy Day

My son looks forlornly out the window...  "Will it rain forever?"
"I hope not, Baby.  I truly hope not."

Not my best poetry... 
but it is my soul... 
on a page...

Walking in the Rain

Icy drops

Tiny knives


Only the solitary sound 
   of lonely feet on dripping pavement
And careening cars 

It's too late

Frigid wind
  bites & stings
blowing away pain...

leaving nothing...


Broken Silence

Relationships are beautiful.  Life...  
Broken communication is painful.  Death...

Maintain Radio Silence

Words, words,
   beautiful words.

Probing and praising my soul.

Words, words,
   painful words.

Twisting and turning the knife.

Words, words,
   where are the words?

Bleeding and beating for you.


Pour Me A Glass Of Wine...

I don't like wine.  I don't like champagne.  I'm not a big drinker at all really.  However, today seems like a day to end with a glass of wine.  Unfortunately, I neither have any, nor would I enjoy it if I did.  And still, I want one.

I know that seems odd, 
but it... 

Spilling Wine

Careful protection
Silent objections
The tipping of the glass

The day is hung over
Nowhere any closer
To knowing what to ask

Liquid loss lands
Between our two hands
Wishing this would pass

Between us now is pain
And decade-old stains
And the knowing this might last


Magnificent Magnificat

Today is the second Sunday of Advent.  (And no, it's okay; you didn't miss my blog entry on Sunday one of Advent.  While Hope is important, it wasn't what was speaking to me at the time.)  Today's theme is (drumroll please...) LOVE!  Now, I'm gonna tell you that God must have an incredible sense of humor because here and now, this very weekend, I've been drowning in the cruel beauty of Love and Romance and what happens when we lose them in our relationships.  I've struggled with feelings of inadequacy this week and the feeling of needing someone to tell me that I'm worthy to be chased after if and when I run away.

So I walked into the sanctuary (late from waking up with a head cold) to start rehearsal for our morning worship set, trying to sing around egg sandwiches we had grabbed on the way and cough drops to salvage the little voice I had in those early hours of today.  I spent most of yesterday crying over stupidity that can only be described as "my own damn fault" and was still feeling the after-effects of internal emotional wars being fought.

In the middle of rehearsal my husband (who runs the tech stuff at church and was apparently having issues with new software malfunctioning) and I snapped at each other; he was outwardly more angry than I'd seen him in a long time.  I thought I was going to throw up and had to walk out of rehearsal this morning.

Without getting into more details than necessary, Hubby and I patched things up with a quick chat and I pulled myself together enough to get through the first service worship set.  The day was slowly getting better.  I'd decided that I was going to put my personal issues aside and attempt to love and worship God in the way that only HE is worthy of being loved and worshipped.  And it kinda-sorta-maybe worked.

Then it was time for the message.  Now, as soon as I'm done writing this post, I'll be doing a thorough search of my home to find the hidden camera that our pastor must have planted early this week, because if there isn't one, he must have hacked into my private files on the computer.  This morning's message was written for me.  (Thanks Tony!)  I don't take notes in church usually.  There's no point to it for me as I rarely, if ever go back and look at them.  This morning -- FIVE pages of notes, reactions, thoughts, and dialogue.  FIVE!

Because this message spoke so strongly to me, I want to share some of my journey this morning with you.  I highly recommend that you contact our church office ( and get them to send a copy of the message to you if you weren't there to hear it.  Tony opened with a recorded internal "trialogue" between himself, himself, and... "God" that can only be truly experienced by listening to it.  Tony had me hooked on every word, from the first sentence.

The first thing that grabbed me was the beauty of the greeting to Mary.  "Favored One"... The beauty of the romance...  My heart melts to hear it.  I've heard this story a million times.  I've heard pastors give messages where it's been said that Mary is miraculously "pregnant".  Now I don't know what happened; I wasn't there, but let me tell you this:  I've been romanced by the Holy Spirit and I'm thinking if the Holy Spirit "came upon Mary", well, I think it's nearly blasphemy to cheapen that encounter by making it any less than what I think it was.  

Mary entered willingly into a love affair with the Holy Spirit.  She allowed Him to romance her, to call her by a special name, "Favored One".  The consequences of her actions were such that her life was unequivocally changed.  She gave herself freely and wholly to the work of God.  And since I know first hand (and sorry if this is weird for anyone to read, but why can't we talk about such tender and holy moments with the "Lover of our Souls"?) the blissful beauty of an encounter with the Spirit of God, I'm just saying that I don't think God would treat the mother of His ONLY Son any with any less love, respect, and tenderness than a husband should show his wife, particularly given all that He was asking of her.

And what was He asking of her?  He was making her into the mother of an illegitimate child.  Think about the outrage that we as Christians (sadly) have about teen pregnancy.  Mary, the mother of our Lord and Savior, the beloved chosen ONE of God, was an unwed teen mother.  She left her family, likely as an outcast to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was also miraculously pregnant.  

When Mary arrived, the CHILD IN ELIZABETH'S WOMB LEAPT WITH JOY at the sound of Mary's voice!  Now, those of you who know what I'm talking about here, imagine the "afterglow" from an encounter with the Holy Spirit... particularly one resulting in the conception of the child of the MOST HIGH GOD!  WOW... This is mind-boggling to me!

I believe that children come from God.  What I mean by that in my ultra-romantic idealism is that I believe that all children live with God before they come to earth.  This is NOT in scripture that I know of, so you don't have to ask me for scriptural basis.  This is my theory and supposition...  I believe that EVERY human being comes into this world having an intimate knowledge of the ONE who created them.  I used to hold my son when he was an infant (and still do this with my baby girl now) and ask him what the face of God looked like.  He used to "tell" me how beautiful it was.  Somehow, as we get older and we grow and learn more about the world around us, we forget that we ever knew our Creator and the Lover of our Souls that intimately.

So... back to Mary...  She sang a song.  "The Magnificat" as it's known through history.  Like Mary's story, I've heard it a million times, but never, never, have her words hit me in the way they did today.  Because today, Mary's song could have been my song.  See Mary felt UNWORTHY of being chased and sought after.  She was nothing more than an average teen-aged girl.  The God of the universe SOUGHT HER OUT... and found her.  He put into her (literally) a purpose so high and so holy, that although it would potentially destroy every ounce of human dignity and respect that Mary had, she gave herself willingly to that plan.  And God chose her to be blessed for eternity.  WOW!

Not only that... but Mary looks through her own pain and passion, her own issues... to bless the world around her.  God loves to turn the tables around, and his beloved, the mother of his child, the "favored one" is no different.  Though the world around her may reject her, she turns the tables on those who would potentially seek to harm her.  She blesses them all.  She shares the love, the adoration that God has poured out on her with the world around her.  What a beautiful picture of the type of love God expects from his "favored one".  Would that the bride of Christ would follow this example.

Here's the part that spoke to me more than anything else though:  Not only was Mary worthy of being chased and sought after by the God of the universe, but Mary found Him worthy of the chase as well.  Mary found her child to be worthy of the chase, because He was more than just her son.  He was also her Lord and Savior, her Messiah.  And Christ turned that around as well, and declared each and every one of us WORTHY OF THE CHASE AS WELL!  God loved the world enough, and Mary loved her God and her Lover enough, to believe that this plan -- that would cause Mary such profound pain & personal passion -- would be enough to romance the entire world.

There is so much more that I was given in this morning's encounter with God, but I can't begin to get it all into one post (which is already far longer than it should be; perhaps there will be more coming throughout the week as I continue in this journey of pain and passion to feel worthy of the chase).  But I want to tell you all without a single doubt in my mind: My God, the LOVER of my SOUL is worthy of my affections and worthy to have me chase after Him!  

And during our second service worship set this morning, I sang the song of love and adoration like I haven't been truly able for a while.  

I sing for the blessing I've received.  I sing to be redeemed from the pain.  I sing to renew the passion.  And I sing as I gaze in sheer and utter abandon into the eyes of my Lover!  "The gaze of adoration is a gaze that will NOT let you go."


Writing to Remember...

Moment of Mercy

I write to remember;
I falter in forgetting
the delicate strength of you:
To me...

I run to know I'm worthy;
I hide to know you'll see...
I hurt you.

Strength within the sweetness,
Grace within your gaze,
Passion in your promise...
I hurt you.

Things you strain to tell me,
that somehow I don't hear --
Caught up in my selfishness,
and only you know why...

I hurt you.

There's nowhere else that I can go --
Nowhere left to hide --

I lose myself in you.

I see myself inside your eyes
reflecting only love,
Pure and simple
free of guilt
honest confessions

I've offered you my broken soul
in pieces at your feet;
You pull me close to hear your heart
that softly beats for me.

But if -- or when -- I question this,
'cause we both know I will,
Just bring me to this moment
and pull me closer still.


The Nature of Romance

I've been spending a lot of time pondering romance of late.  What makes romance?  Why does it seem the longer a relationship progresses, the more intentional romance has to be to keep it going?

I'm thinking it has to do with the nature of romance and attraction.  We start a relationship by "falling in love" with someone, or at the very least, feeling strongly attracted to them.  Everything is new and fresh... a surprise.  It's all a "first", which is exciting because it's different than what you've known before -- no matter how many first kisses one has, each one is different.  A simple touch can be charged with electric when it's something you haven't felt before.

Then we grow in love and get comfortable with one another.  There aren't as many surprises or as many "firsts".  Romance has to be fostered.  Being surprised can still happen after years together, but you have to look harder at the details around you to notice the wonder and surprise in the small things, the things that get lost amid the chaos of hectic lives: the smell of the soul, the laughter in the eyes, the taste of the lips.

My husband and I have been together 13 years, and I just found out tonight that he thinks one of the most romantic things I do is sit in the kitchen and talk to him when he's cooking or doing dishes or whatever.  I, on the other hand, find it annoying when someone hovers in my way while I'm trying to work.  For me, give me a good tv show and hold me close while we watch it or a walk hand in hand through the snow.  Romance is different for each person, and knowing how to romance the person you love is the first step in keeping the passion alive.

So here's a little poem I wrote to capture a tiny bit of the romance.  

Fall Rain
    for Jeff
   You smell of fall and taste like rain
   the last leaves descend to drown in crystal pools
   the hint of smoked wood dances on damp air
   the ice-cold drops trickle down on me.

   You smell of fall and taste like rain
   the spicy-ginger snaps of icy breeze
   the sweetly-bitter brew of rich coffee
   the old wool sweater pulled tightly 'round me.

   You smell of fall and taste like rain.


NaNoWriMo is ended

Well, November is over.  And I have to say, it was a great month, but I'm not sad to see it go.  

National Novel Writing Month is done, and I have a finished draft of a story (approximately 10,000 words) that will hopefully be expanded to a novel at some point.  I have written about 10,000 words of notes in addition to that draft of stuff related to the novel, between character, plot development and additional pieces that may or may not make it into the final cut.  And I've written about 5-10,000 words in my blog during November.  

While I didn't make it to 50,000, I'm happy with my progress.  I've had the kick in the pants that I needed to write and I've used this time for some much-needed self-evaluation through the process.  I'm not finished; I never will be, but thanks to November, I'm off to a great start.


Thanksgiving Nostalgia

My Aunt Arlene is my mother’s oldest sister. She and her husband Ken are the closest thing to grandparents on my mom’s side of the family that I ever knew. I have fond memories of staying with them while mom and dad were working and spending holidays and birthdays at their place when we were young.

Today, we packed the kids up, along with our dessert (thank you, Emeril, for the lovely Cranberry-Apple Crisp), and followed my parents up to Arlene and Ken’s for Thanksgiving dinner. As we traveled the two hours north toward the area where I spent my elementary school years, I was marveling at how much and yet how little I recognized on the trip.

It’s been roughly 20-25 years since I’ve lived in northern PA. Times change. Places change. There are Walmarts where there weren’t before and empty shells of broken buildings that used to be McDonald’s. The intersection of Tedd’s Landing has changed over time, but remains basically the same as in my memory.

When we pulled off of the main road and into the little towns between the highway and our destination, I was saddened to see the buildings with cracked windows, fractured like my memories of them. Paint peeling, removing the once-held beauty that still remained in my memory. The little store that the school bus used to stop at for penny candy on the way home from school on Friday’s has, not only changed hands so many times that I’ve lost track of whether it still exists, but isn’t even where I thought it was in my mental map.

Suddenly, as we turned onto entirely unfamiliar roads, I was struck with the realization that I had never been to my aunt and uncle’s house. See, not only had their towns changed over time, but so had their lives. The garage that my uncle had owned, with the soda machine outside for which my little brother and I used to beg quarters, and the little house that I “grew up in” next to it was no longer my aunt and uncle’s home.

So we went to a new house today. An unfamiliar house. A house that wasn’t my “home” as I remembered it. A house with a huge blow-up turkey outside. We thought we had the wrong house, except their name was on the mailbox. We laughed and teased my Mennonite Deacon uncle that the next time we visited we’d see Santa or the Easter Bunny, but he assured us he was merely “turkey sitting” for the out-of-town neighbors who insisted that our children would enjoy it.

It was a cute house, but it wasn’t “home” and I doubt it will ever be the same as visiting them in the old house. It’s a feeling much like I had the first time we visited them after their dog Heidi had passed away, the Australian Sheepdog they’d owned since before I was even born. Something was just missing or out of place. But it was much deeper, far more shattered and unsettling of a feeling, like the year after my cousin, Brenda, their only child had suddenly passed away.

At least some things have stayed the same. The women still belong in the kitchen and the men in the living room prior to the meal (except for me and my hubby – but that would be an entirely different post). My aunt’s stuffing is still the absolute best in the world. There are still leftover cold turkey sandwiches for supper. And there is still the ongoing friendly “rivalry” between me and my cousin’s husband Johnny.

All of this today just makes me wonder how many other things in my life have changed. How static is our past? Does it change based on how we remember it? If enough people believe that something happened in the past, can we assume it to be true? What is the difference between truth and reality and memory?

See what nostalgia does to me? Or maybe it’s just the tryptophan from the turkey.


Excuse Me If I Glow

My pastor said something to me on Sunday that confused me: "Did you know you're glowing today?"  I was too baffled to get all the rest but it was something like, "It's a nice change."  I must have mumbled a "Thanks" or something like that before I walked away, because the conversation was definitely over.

The confusion, however, has remained with me for the past couple days.  And the thing is, I've realized that he's right; he's never seen me like this before.  I've only known him for the past couple years, and I was already dead inside when he met me -- at least a part of me was.  

This same pastor sat across from me in his office just a couple months ago, with a highly concerned look on his face, asking me "You're not... suicidal, are you?" when I mentioned my tendency toward what I refer to as self-sabotage or self-destructive tendencies.  I might have actually laughed in his face; I don't remember (if I did, I'm sorry!).  I've never been suicidal in the sense of wanting to end my life -- and I told him that --  but I'm the queen of what I referred to as the "emotional suicide": The killing of the parts of me that I feel are "less than adequate" for one reason or another.  Granted this is not nearly as intentional all the time, nor as final as an actual suicide, but it was the best analogy I could come up with at the time.

There are three main parts of me that I've stifled over the years:
  1. My love of music. When I was in high school, I sang all the time.  I sang lead on the youth worship team, had solo parts in nearly every musical I was in, and could rarely be seen NOT singing something.  When I went to college, tried out for choir and was told that since I couldn't read music, they didn't want me.  This was a huge blow to me and my ego.  In a last ditch attempt to salvage that part of me, I took a music theory course, was told that since I wasn't a major, it didn't matter whether I "got it or not", and ended the semester with a "C".  For the next 10-11 years, the only time I sang (except for extremely rare occasions) was in the shower, or my car... alone!  
  2. My love of writing.  I ended up majoring in English in college with a concentration in writing.  I was published in several campus magazines, edited the feature section of the school paper, and was introduced by my favorite poetry professor as a "poet" to one of her colleagues at a dinner for the big-wigs.  After college, I got a job as a school librarian and taught creative writing for a couple years.  Then life happened, I stopped working for the school, and I stopped writing.  For the next 6-7 years, the only time I wrote anything was if I was directly asked to do so for job-related responsibilities.  
  3. My love of encouraging others -- the song that God gave me to sing.  This happened over time.  I don't even know how.  When you have a passion for pushing people to stretch beyond themselves to be the person (s)he created them to be, you get a lot of backlash.  People don't so much appreciate it.  So, over time, I just stopped.  And for however long it's been, this passion has been embroiled solely in cynicism, if and when I allow it to come out at all.  
So... recently, I've been revived in all of these areas.  I joined the worship team at church two years ago.  I started writing this blog in October and started writing a "novel" (which may or may not grow up to be that big, but time will tell) in November.  And now, I'm learning to sing my song again (whether you all wanna be pushed or not!).  

And with the singing, comes the life.  

I can't help it if I'm glowing; I'm finally feeling alive for the first time in years!


Snowy Silence

Snowy days were made for warm beverages, good books, and fuzzy blankets.  The type of snowy days we've been having the last couple days are the best kind ever.  No actual snow to shovel as it's not really laying on walks and roads.  Just enough to make everything white and pretty, and the big, white flakes floating fairly endlessly from the sky.

Snowy days are also great for thinking, for introspection... which I happen to be the master of lately.  So I've been thinking about relationships and things of that nature lately, a lot of which will end up in one form or another in my "novel", so I won't go into that all here.  But I've also been thinking a lot about my relationship with God.  I think I'm learning that the more I think I know, the less I know.  And I'm thinking I'm more than okay with that.

I'm reading the book "Silence" by Endo.  It's a historical novel about the persecution of missionaries in Japan and the struggle with God's silence in the face of torture.  It was referred to me by a friend who knows me well, someone who understands my struggles with God, church, and religious structures in general.  Someone who lives through the struggles as well.

So... I've been watching the silent snow fall and thinking about God.  And of the beauty of silence... and the pain of the silence.

Romance & Raindrops

So, I had a horrible week, yesterday in particular.  The icing on the cake was my hubby having to spend an extra hour+ at work yesterday afternoon.  So when life hands me lemons, I chose to make a romantic evening out of it.

Last night, we had a date night.  The kids have been cranky this week so they were both in bed by 7:30 (as much for mommy as for them) and I created an impromptu date for me and hubby here at home.  'Twas nice.  Got out the good dishes and champagne glasses (sans champagne, but it didn't matter).  Lit a few candles, started up the iTunes and created a Genius! romantic list.  We ate, we sang, we danced, we laughed, we cried (well I did at least), we talked and we just spent time together, something we both sorely needed.  It was one of the most romantic evenings we'd had in a while, and it was nice to remember who we were and what we meant to each other.

Today, we had a birthday celebration for our November birthdays at Jeff's aunt & uncle's place in Perry Country.  The trip is usually less than hours, but it's mountainous, and by the end, I'm always sick.  It was amazing however as we were headed out.  It was warm outside, but raindrops pattered out a semi-percussive beat on the windshield, brightly colored leaves painted a brilliant portrait against the gray clouded sky, and melancholic music filled the car.  I sat in the back with our son snuggled up next to me and our daughter sleeping soundly on the other side of him.  It was a brief moment of familial perfection that made me deliriously content... even if for only a few moments this morning.



My Gramma was just told last night that she is a good candidate for chemotherapy.  She's 84 (I think... I lose track honestly) years old, and frankly, I don't see it.  I mean, I just can't see her doing the chemo thing.  Not that I'm making a statement on whether she should or shouldn't... I just don't really see it.

Gramma has always been in good health.  When I'm in my 80s I hope to have even half her spunk and vitality.  She's got the typical ailments that tend to afflict the elderly: the aches, pains, coughs, etc.  But all in all, she's in good shape.  Until this summer, when she passed out on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night from internal bleeding.

Turns out that her problem was just a stomach ulcer that was aggravated (and possibly caused originally) by taking Aleeve for the pain in her back and legs so she could sleep.  However, while in the hospital, her heart started causing trouble, and then they did more and more tests, and somehow found cancer in her colon.

So after a surgery a couple weeks ago, a portion of the colon was removed and we waited FOREVER for results from pathology.  Well we got them.  And apparently some of the cancer had already spread to the lymph nodes or something (I'm fuzzy on the details) and her cancer is "Stage 2" whatever that means.

Now we wait for a further consultation where my father, my aunt, and my Gramma can sit down with an oncologist and discuss the options... Quantity vs. quality of life and all that jazz.  

Why am I having such a hard time with this?

I take after my Gramma.  My dad and I were looking at old photos one day.  He found one and held it up next to me.  "When did you pose for this one, Nean?" he asked me.  I looked at the photo of my grandmother in her early twenties.  Seriously, you could have done my hair up the same and put me in that dress and it coulda been me.

I owe my fighting spirit, my sense of humor, my feistiness and my need to question everything to my Gramma.  I owe my singing voice to her, my ability to harmonize and my love of all things musical to her.  There are few memories of Gramma's house when I was a child which didn't include her humming or singing something under her breath.

She taught me to quilt and make cookies.  She tried to teach me to sew (sorry, Gramma).  She taught me the love of sitting down with a board game and passing hours just talking and enjoying the thrill of friendly competition.  

She taught me that serving others means playing the part you're needed to play rather than the one you might want to play.  I was 12 (I think) when I learned this lesson.  The boys were all out "making hay" and I wanted to help.  Thing is (and Gramma knew this) I couldn't lift the bales and I woulda just been in the way.  The feminist inside of me wanted to show the boys I was every bit as good as they were... but Gramma insisted she needed my help in the kitchen.  And without the water I ran out to the barn every time they came in with the next load, they would have likely passed out from heat exhaustion.

Now Gramma isn't without her faults.  She's just like the rest of us.  She's human.  But she's my last remaining grandparent (aside from my in-laws) and she's always been there for me.  She was my nurse when I had to stay home sick from school as a kid.  I don't visit nearly as often as I should or I'd like to anymore, because life gets in the way, but she is always just a phone call away. 

So... today is a sucky day.  I'm thinking about Gramma and thinking the gray weather fits my mood.  It's a great day for sleeping this afternoon; I don't know that I'm much good for novel-writing today.  But maybe I'll give Gramma a call first, just to remind her that I love her.  And because I still can.


Lessons in Life and Love

Chill Winds of November
   for the last pepper

Once carefully tended

   on sparkled-sun kisses
   love from gray-black skies
   under careful caresses
   and softly babbled nothings

Once growing full and healthy
   with ripening beauty
   and long-held promises
   of full-life potential

Now reduced to nothing
Just a red, shriveled heart
   imposed on barren earth
Growth of love long past
   still it holds on

To something long dead

Someone Help Me Understand

Watch the video, please before reading the rest of this blog: Prop 8 Special Comment

I really need someone, anyone, to respond to this for me.  These are the same questions I ask.  I don't want rhetoric.  I don't want pat answers.  I don't want to be fed a party line or a religious creed.  I want to know why/how one can justify such hatred and intolerance with scripture.  If the bible is what you believe is your standard for measurement of action and motive, show me chapter and verse.  I want an intelligent conversation.  

Any personal attacks will NOT be posted.  I want real honest answers.  Because seriously people, these are the issues that matter and they are the issues that cause me to really struggle.  This is where I have no desire to be associated with "Christians".  And this is only one issue.

Please, someone help me understand.


Michelle For "Mom Of The Year"

There's a lot of political upheaval lately.  Everything on the spectrum of love to hate for the President Elect and his family.  Amazing times for our world; history in the making:
  • There is the obvious point of Obama being the first black president (and for that matter, the first non-white-male president) in US History.
  • A passion for politics has been re-ignited for the younger voters, and renewed hope has been offered to a lot of people who have been (up to this point) disenfranchised and disillusioned with American politics
  • Obama has proven that campaigning as it was previously done is no longer fully effective.  He ran the first positive ad campaign in recent history and made proper use of the internet as a grass-roots campaigning tool
  • Perhaps our status as a country will now switch to one that works WITH the world in which we live instead of AGAINST it.  I think we're looking at a new era in politics.
Throughout the election process, as a woman, I would get frequently frustrated by the reporters (mostly male, I might add) talking about Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton being role models for women everywhere.  No thank you.  If I'm ever like either of them, just shoot me, please.  Talk about two opposite extremes that I'm not interested in being.

Michelle Obama is an amazing woman.  Regardless of how you feel about her husband and his politics, you have to admit, she's the ultimate MOM.  Michelle is a strong woman.  She is an intelligent woman.  She is a mom and a wife and an advisor in her own right to the future president of our country.  

She's talked openly about her struggles with balancing her home life and her work life.  She knows that her first responsibility, even as first lady in this country, is to her children, and she's working hard to make sure that her girls are "settled and that they know they will continue to be the center of our universe."   She's worked, she's stayed home with her kids, she's campaigned and still been home for her kids at bedtime.  

This woman is the kind of mom I'd love to be...  And maybe someday I will.  In the meantime, I'll get back to being a stay-at-home mom to my kids and let Michelle show me what it means to balance the weight of the world (literally in her husband's hands) and the needs of her two young daughters on the brink of adolescence.  

Behind every strong man, there is a stronger woman.  Welcome to the White House, Michelle.


What I Want For Christmas

Every few months, I entertain the notion (a flight of fancy really) of putting a sign in my front yard, "Come in; take what you want."  I get so overwhelmed with the "STUFF" we accumulate.  Our house has so little storage space and all I see is clutter when I look around my home: toys, papers, and miscellaneous paraphernalia (yeah, I just wanted to use that word, I think).

Every year, starting in October, the gift season starts at our house.  My birthday kicks off the festivities, followed by hubby's birthday a couple weeks later.  Both kids have their birthdays the week around Thanksgiving, and if we haven't accumulated enough new stuff by that time to be "thankful for", Christmas is just around the corner with a whole new batch of random objects filling our space.

My son actually stopped playing yesterday, sighed as he looked at the mess surrounding him, and then looked at my hubby and said, "Daddy, I have too many toys; I don't know what to do next."

And it's not that we don't have things we'd like to have.  There are things we want, because it's part of living in this world with the constantly changing stuff around us.  We'd like to have the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos, sure.  But do we really NEED it?  Hubby would like a new winter coat and a graphic pad for his computer, I am always looking for new clothes, and the kids -- well, they're growing and could use some age-appropriate toys and clothes in their sizes.  But do we NEED any of those things? Probably not.  

How often do I complain about not having anything to wear, while standing and staring at a closet full of clothes?  How often do I stand in front of the full refrigerator or pantry closet and whine that I can't find anything to make for dinner?  And how often do I look around my house and complain about the massive piles of clutter that need to be cleaned up?

What do we want or need for Christmas?  Really?  It's the intangible stuff that I really want.  You want to get me something that really means something, here's what I'd like:
  • A weekend away with my hubby.  This requires the cooperation of his bosses, extra random money from... somewhere, and someone to agree to keep my kids for the weekend.
  • Money for the kid's savings accounts.  They need so little now, but the costs of education and other "big ticket" items for their future is climbing steadily.
  • Time & attention from people that we love.  I'd rather spend an afternoon sitting and chatting with you over a nice cuppa (pick your pleasure) than sending gifts back and forth making the mailmen miserable.
  • The ability to give -- and teach our kids the importance of giving sacrificially.  Money and time are tight for everyone.  Donate volunteer hours or money in our names to someone who truly needs help.  Pick an organization that you know we support or a cause that you know we're passionate about.  (Need some help: World Wildlife Federation, Bethany Christian Services, Water Street Rescue Mission, Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services... and that's just suggestions)
What DON'T we want for Christmas?  More stuff, just for the sake of giving gifts.  Somehow, random stuff means we're not truly understanding the greatest gift ever given: the sacrifice of every expectation and right.  We deserve nothing, but we think we do.  Christ deserved everything, but took nothing.  True giving means sacrificing for those we love -- not because they need it (even though they might) -- but because true giving is LOVE incarnate!


Tough Questions

Seeing Kisses

            For My Little Man


He opens his mind and looks right through me,

Sitting with silent tears falling on broken dreams

“Mommy,” he breathes from somewhere beside me

“Why can’t we see kisses?”


Annoyed, I pretend not to hear

His innocent question outside himself

So caught up in myself and my pain


“Mommy…” he persists, “Mommy!”

“Yes, Little One?” I answer wearily.

Then God opens his mouth and he asks me again,

“Why can’t you see my kisses?”


Stunned, I stop and look at my child.

“I don’t know, Love,” I finally answer,

“But I see them when I look at you.”

Pajama Holiday

I've been fighting a combination migraine/headache off and on all week.  It's enough to make me wanna scream, whine, cry, and run away.  Needless to say, I'm a little miserable this week.  

Then, yesterday afternoon, Little Man came down from afternoon Quiet Time complaining that his ear hurt.  At first I took it for an attention ploy on his part, as I've been preoccupied with doing... well... NOTHING this week.

As the afternoon wore on however, it became obvious that he was seriously not faking the pain and discomfort.  He would randomly wince in pain and spent the afternoon alternating between pushing me away and begging me to give him "mommy snuggles".  He wanted warm drinks, but didn't want to drink them until they were cold.  

To make a long story short, we took him to the doctor last night and he has an ear infection (duh!).  So, after an irritating trip to get antibiotics (the CVS drive-thru is anything but convenient; skip it and go to Giant!), we brought him home, gave him his new meds and some ibuprofen, and put him to bed.  He cried several times during the night and needed to be snuggled to calm down (he suffers night terrors when he's sick).

All of this led me to the conclusion that today should be a pajama holiday in our house.  My head still hurts and he's obviously not going to school today.  So... we're declaring a holiday and giving ourselves a break.  

This is as much for me as for him.  I was debating which blog to post this in, as it was mostly about family.  But I put it here for one simple reason.  I'm using this as a reminder to myself that it's okay to take a vacation when I need one.  

I've been really hard on myself lately: feeling bad for my utter lack of productivity this week, feeling like a less than adequate mother because I haven't been spending as much time with the kids this week, feeling like a bad wife because I haven't felt much like talking to my hubby out of sheer exhaustion by the time he gets home from work, even feeling like a bad friend because of my own self-absorption.

I don't do sick very well.  I tend to get all down on myself when I'm sick (as if I had any control over it).  I'm hard on myself all the time, but I think today is a good day to remember that it's okay to fail occasionally.  That a pajama holiday is necessary for my sanity (and my family's) every once in a while.

And really... who doesn't love pajamas when they don't feel well?



I'm working very hard to "reinvent myself" these days.  A lot of shifting has been going on in the past year that brings all this on: career, family, friends, and ultimately my attitude and mood.  A lot of these shifts have been good, some of them not-so-good.  But all are molding and shaping me into someone different and new... and hopefully -- eventually -- more mature.

About two weeks ago, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month.  This is something I've wanted to do for years.  It's never been practical, however.  When your busiest months of the year for work are March/April and November/December, trying to write a 50,000 word novel in the span of one of those busiest of months is ... a mark of insanity at best.   This year, however, aside from my family & child-care responsibilities (not to be underestimated of course), I have the freedom to explore this idea a bit.

Writing is a necessity for me.  I have to do it to sort things out in my head.  Otherwise I babble at people endlessly and they just get annoyed and walk away (usually mid-sentence).  Anyway, I've been thinking I should get back into writing again for a while.  It's been sadly lacking in my life.  Several people have mentioned to me (those that know these things about me), that I needed to write.

So I started up this blog, signed up for NaNoWriMo and started making sure I write SOMETHING everyday.  Even if no one else sees it.  I write.

I'd love to have a finished novel at the end of the month, but if not, there are few things that are more important to me:
  • That I've written at all
  • That I have 50,000 words logged for November -- whether it's all the novel or a combination of "words"
  • That I have finished something
  • That I learn a few things about myself in the process, and hopefully become a "better" person for it
I think I'm well on my way.  I seem to have stalled out slightly on my novel at the moment.  Partly because of a migraine I've been fighting for the past couple days.  Partly because I prefer short story and poetry (and I don't really like "filler") and at somewhere between 5-10K words, my story might actually be "complete" with a little tweaking.  Do I smack it into "novel submission"?  We'll see.  Depends on the muses, maybe.  We'll see where the characters wanna go.  And we'll see what else I decide might be more necessary to write this month.  Because I'd prefer to use this month as the "kick in the pants to get words down" that I think it was intended for, than just another "writing failure" that I can hold over my head.  My guilt complex is big enough already to add that to it yet.

So... we'll see where the muses take me.  I've got a couple... Right now, they're too busy arguing in my head to help me write anything.


Language Of The Soul

One way I talk with God is through music.  It's why I sing on the worship team at our church (about the only "church" thing I really do anymore).  And it's where I spend my moments with God, no matter what is going on in my life and leave feeling refreshed and renewed, as if I can handle anything life throws at me.

One thing I've learned about myself though is that it's not just "worship songs" that lead me to God.  In fact, aside from my time spent working on set lists for worship team, I rarely -- if ever -- listen to worship music.  With a few rare exceptions, I find a lot of worship music to be lacking in the artistry that I think God intended for us to use in worship.

I like the music that reaches down deep inside, that stirs the part of your soul that cannot be touched physically.  As I'm thinking about it, it's the intense stuff that speaks the loudest (and intense doesn't necessarily equal loud).  I can hear a song on the radio, that to all outward appearances has nothing at all to do with God, and find God there.  (S)he uses the language of music to speak to me and touch me in ways that no human can.

It sounds weird and mystical and new-age, and maybe it's all of those things, but that is what music is for me, the language of the soul.  It's like making love in the spiritual realm.  It's raw, harsh, and painful at times, but also soft, sweet, and beautiful, and maybe even both at the same time.

This weekend we went to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra with friends from college.  The experience for me was transcendent and I'm still basking in the afterglow.  I know it's all lights and special effects and music and theatre... but it was an encounter with the inner self and God for me.  It was purely sensual; I was on sensory overload when we left the concert.  But it was magic and passion.

I'm not trying to over-spiritualize the concert.  It wasn't all pure goodness and light.  There was an edge as well.  The dancers were sexy; the singers sent shivers up and down my spine.  The female violinist had the ability to make love to the audience without a single touch.  Guitars, drums, everything were LOUD and driving; Lights flashed in a migraine-inducing pattern at several parts... but one thing is certain.  I was alive -- suspended in reality perhaps -- but alive.

And THAT is true worship: an intimate transcendent experience with the lover of my soul!


Christian Politics 101: A Follow-up to Facebook Riots

Okay, I've had a rough time with this election.  I'm worn out from explaining the same things over and over.  I'm tired of being misunderstood and misheard.  I'm mostly tired of arguing with people I love about insignificant details of party lines.  I've had all sorts of names/implications thrown at me.  The list of things that have been said about me and my views is ever-growing...  Even my FAITH in God has been called to question.

I'm frustrated by the single-issue politics that I see Christians engaging in.  As if one issue is more important than any other.  As if one sin (or two sins) are greater than any other.  Pure and simple, let me break it down: sin is sin.  God hates sin.  Sin is what separates us from God.  It's doing what you know God doesn't want  you to do and NOT doing what you know He does.  Ergo, (and yes, this is radical so brace yourself), murder is sin, yes, but no better or worse than any other sin, like for instance desecrating God's creation by not taking care of it.  Yes, you heard me... I have just stated FOR THE RECORD that killing our world is just as bad a killing babies.  Don't get me wrong.  I believe that human life is sacred and we're made in God's image and all that jazz...  But caring for God's creation goes a long way toward showing how much you respect God.  All life is sacred.  And that which God created is GOOD.

Now that I've gotten that little rant out of my system, I wanna clear a few random things up:
  1. Jesus was neither republican nor democrat; He wasn't even American.  The chances of Him being WHITE are slim to none.  He grew up in the MIDDLE EAST.  Furthermore, Jesus was NOT a Christian (as a matter of clarity, He was, in fact, a Jew).  Therefore, claiming that you have the market cornered on what Jesus wants either politically or religiously is just plain... ignorant.
  2. Jesus also said that we would know our brothers and sisters by the fruit they bear.  Integrity, compassion, justice for all... they speak volumes.
  3. Freedom of Religion in our country means freedom of ALL religions, not just Christianity.  While I am troubled by the fact that my children can't pray in a public school (and therefore PRACTICE their freedom of religion), I'm not overly bothered by it.  Every religion should be treated the same in a country that professes freedom of religion.  And (to borrow a phrase from my pastor) "Please hear me": It's my PARENTAL responsibility to teach my children about God and how to talk to Him/Her.  It is NO ONE else's, not the school's and not the church's.
  4. Separation of Church and state is not a constitutional concept.  The phrase was (I believe) coined in a personal document (a letter?) that Thomas Jefferson wrote.  This means that it is NOT a constitutional right to have a separation...  However, we are NOT a CHRISTIAN nation.  If we are going to profess to constitutionally provide freedom of religion, we can't have our government aligning with any particular religion -- including our personal favorite.
  5. Jesus told us to CARE for orphans and widows.  He admonished Peter to "feed my sheep."  The Acts church shared everything and made sure that not one of them was in need for anything.  That sounds like a socialist society to me.  Granted it was the church.  And when the church steps up and does its job as it should, we won't need the government to do so.  In the meantime, however, it IS the government's job to manage the economy, to maintain a balance in its income and its spending budget.  It is the government's job to see that the needs of the people it governs are being met.  Friends have told me that it's not their responsibility to spend their hard-earned cash to pay for someone else's medical bills.  This makes me so sad.  I can't imagine those same people saying that to Jesus' face.  "Whatever you do to the least of these..."
  6. The fatal flaw in the "Pro-life" agenda is that the situation is never as black and white as we'd like it to be.  Keeping people from killing babies through abortion doesn't take into consideration any of the circumstances, and the LIFE of the mother.  I don't wanna see abortions happen either, folks.  I cry inside every time I hear about abortions or any abuse to children.  HOWEVER, there is so much more to the politics behind the abortion bills (like silly riders that are attached to bills -- which often cause the bills to become multi-layered) and the fact that if there weren't options available to women, in their desperation, many of them would seek unsafe measures.  So, let's work on providing them with education and choices and help to guide them to the right choice in LOVE.
I realize I've only begun to scratch the surface of the issues facing Christians today when it comes to our country.  All I can say is, please VOTE.  Vote your beliefs and passions.  Make sure that you research what your candidates stand for.  Know which one you can agree with on more issues, and realize that you may be right in your choice or you may be wrong.  

Most of you already know who I'm gonna vote for on Tuesday.  I don't need you to try to change my mind.  I've done the research.  I've read both sides of the issues.  I've looked into the character and family history of all four of the main players.  I've seen enough discord between Christians over silly little issues.  I've heard candidates compared to Adolf Hitler (PLEASE; Really?), the Anti-Christ, and whatever evil persona you wanna put in here.

Can we please just agree to use our brains and our ability to discern (that GOD has placed within each of us), and pray that we will -- with an open mind -- be guided to make the right choice?

And no matter who wins this election, it is our responsibility to pray for guidance and wisdom for them... whether we like them or not.


Losing My Grip...

I'm horrible at letting go.  I hang on tightly to what I have (whether it's actually mine to hold onto or not).  I'm threatened by the mere mention of change. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that my particular mania (as in -- the opposite extreme in my particular brand of bi-polar depression) is the inability to see that I'm obsessively, manically doing whatever I "need" to in order to keep from letting go of something, as irrational as the clinging may be.  I hold so tightly to that which I "care" about that I squeeze the life out of it, out of me, and out of those around me.

Of course, there are ramifications of the extreme neediness.  It takes a toll on relationships, it takes a toll on careers, and it takes a toll on me emotionally as well as physically.  The upside of this particular "character flaw" is that my friends can pretty much count on undying loyalty, no matter how dysfunctional the relationship becomes.  

And this includes God.  God and I have our arguments, our fights, and our... dysfunction, but in the end, I can't let go.  And believe me, I've tried.

But here's the thing.  I think (s)he is telling me to let go.  

Where will this leave me and my obsessive need to cling to something, anything?  It leaves me wanting to cling harder, of course.  I can't deal with the thought of not having those "security" blankets.  I've been clinging so hard to most of them that my hands have permanently cramped in a tight-fisted position.

So, if I let go, will I fall through space and time, completely abandoned and alone?  I sure hope not, but I suppose that this is where that "trust" thing comes in.  I guess it's time to let go of stuff...

Who am I?  What am I?  It's time to let go of the me that I've created, and figure out who I am.  I've spent too much time hiding myself away, locked inside myself to know who I even am anymore.  So no wonder I usually feel like no one understands me.  I don't even understand myself.

There are unresolved issues that it's time to let go of: hurts from the past that need to be forgotten, forgiven, and forever buried, relationships that need to be pruned -- or at least released to test where the true loyalties lie, expectations of myself and the ones I love (including God) that are unrealistic and unattainable... the list goes on.

I've let go of perfection (a huge step for a perfectionist such as myself): the perfect life, with the perfect house, perfect family, perfect friends, perfect job... perfect... anything...

And it's time to let go of God... At least the God of the current incarnation of the church.  It's time to rediscover who (s)he is as well as who I am... and what our relationship looks like in the "real world".  I've let go of the church.  Oh, I still attend and still sing on the worship team, but I've left go of holding God responsible for the church's screw-ups.  I've let go of the God who can be understood, explained, or even completely known in this lifetime.

And I'm falling.  And it's terrifying, but somewhere along the line, I hope and trust that someone, somewhere will catch me.  And I'll be able to hold on gently next time, not suffocating myself or anyone else.  And maybe I'll find a real, true God, whose image I can be glad to be created in.
"...I'm not letting go of God, I'm just losing my grip..." (Over the Rhine, When I Go)
"'Tis better to have loved and lost/Than never to have loved at all." (Alfred Lord Tennyson)


Baby Steps

I have more than two problems...
  1. I lack in motivation.  I think I've mentioned this before.  Part of my particular brand of depression manifests in severe procrastination due to lack of motivation.  
  2. I'm a creature of habit.  That means if there isn't a routine in my life, then NOTHING will EVER happen.
  3. I am also a perfectionist.  This is a problem for me because if something is going to be done, I want it done RIGHT.  This leads to the fact that if I'm not capable of doing something RIGHT, there is no point to doing it at all.
  4. I set unrealistic expectations frequently.  I want to be the best and I expect those around me to be the best.  Not that setting standards for oneself is bad, but when you set them as high as I tend to, that's just a recipe for disaster and a guarantee of feeling like a complete and utter failure!
  5. If I don't accomplish SOMETHING productive in the course of my day, I start to feel guilty and beat myself up about it. This leads to more depression and cycles me through these four problems over and over into a downward spiral...
This means there are a couple things I need for my own well-being:
  1. I need to set goals for myself DAILY.  I set goals every night for the next day (or first thing in the morning when I wake up).  This helps me to know exactly what I need to accomplish, helps me sleep at night (because I don't lie awake thinking about whether I'm gonna remember any given obligation before it's too late), and provides a "fair" measure of my productivity each day.
  2. Because I know that my motivation is not high (less so some days than others) and that my day is filled with pint-sized interruptions, I set my bar low.  I gauge it to how I'm feeling that day.  Obviously if I'm tired, sick, or incredibly down on any given day, I've learned to cut myself a break and set either "easy" goals or less goals for the day.
  3. I send my goals to my hubby and mother-in-law.  This whole goal thing was my mother-in-law's idea in the first place, trying to help both of us snap out of the motivational slump we've been in of late.  Accountability means that I am more motivated to actually accomplish my goals... or at least work toward them.
  4. When I set my new goals for the day, I review my progress on my goals from the day before.  Again... a "fair measurement" of my productivity and the ability to keep myself "in check" as far as my expectations go.
This sounds so very "business-like" but that's what works for me.  Here's an example of my goals (I shoot for 5-10 on any given day in the following categories):
  1. Self-esteem goal: Smile & Know I'm Loved
  2. Physical goal: Wii-Fit Workout (20-30 min)
  3. Household goal: Clean Kitchen
  4. Emotional goal: Write or Create something (20-30 min)
  5. Relational goal: Spend time with hubby (20-30 min at least)
  6. Relational goal: Playing with kids (20-30 min at least)
  7. Spiritual goal: Relax (20-30 min)
Anyway, I don't know if this is helpful to anyone, but I find it works for me, so I figured I'd share.  The important thing for me to remember is that even when I make these goals, I do so knowing that there will be a couple everyday that won't get done.  

And the point is, that's okay.


A Bit Of Night Music...

So, here I sit in one of those rare moments where my house is asleep.  Hubby is uncharacteristically asleep before me and even the cat, who was having a psycho-moment of chasing something (hopefully just her tail) a bit ago, has settled down somewhere to sleep.  

I rarely get to see the night anymore.  I put the kids to bed, often slipping into my pjs at the same time (they're warm and comfy), settle in to relax for the evening and generally conk out within an hour.  I've always leaned slightly toward being a morning person in general, but the kids have made me even more so.  They are up with the sun (and sometimes before the sun), which means I am too.  And by the time they are finally in bed for the night, I'm done.

But there is something truly magical about the night.  It's almost like an entire world just waiting to be discovered...  Everything in the daylight is sharp and clear, but the night is full of blurred shadows and silhouettes.  So every once in a while I like to rediscover the night... and the magical silence (which I get so little of in waking hours) which accompanies it.

I was going through some of my old journals and came across a poem I wrote several years ago...  fresh out of college and in my "teaching" days (if you can call what I did that).  I'll share it here, because I can... I have no idea if it's good or not as I'm horribly out of practice in the poetry department, but here you go... just for you:

night music

she steals
   across the sunless room
   searching her lover
he is
   hiding his reality
   in his realm of hallucination
   otherwise known as
and she loves him more because of it

she seduces him
   in his real-less reality
   and enhances his nature with her own
they merge
   into a moment of magic
   where all things shimmer
   and the last glimmer
   of reality

but morning comes and life awakens
   leaving his lover alone

(28 may 1999)



Remember what it felt like to be in love for the first time?  Remember how your heart just wouldn't slow down?  You'd hear that voice and just melt inside?  Remember the butterflies in the pit of your stomach when you first held hands?  Think about your first kiss; did it surprise you?  You know you never wanted it to end.  How sweet was the sound of the first "I love you."  

There are other passionately romantic moments in every relationship.  I have a brain full of memories, enough to fill novels (if I wanted to share them): walks in the moonlight, feeling a protective arm at the height of the movie's horror, the first sight of my man in a tux...  It's the way he says my name, the way his eyes light up when he sees me, the ease with which I can make him smile or laugh.  The first time I fell asleep in my lover's arms, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

So... lately I've been feeling... anything but romantic.  The daily grind of life, of caring for three small children: changing diapers, cooking dinner, folding mountains of laundry, playing cab driver...  All of these things are enough to make the most beautiful and the most sexy woman feel completely and utterly... NOT beautiful, NOT sexy, and NOT romantic.

And I got lost there this week.  I confess, I lost sight of the beauty and wonder of my children.  I nearly missed my daughter pulling herself to a standing position for the first time.  I forgot, somehow, that the words, "I love you," can be just as sweet (although in a very different way) coming from your children as from your lover.

I also took my husband for granted.  Sometimes between his two jobs and my own "issues" it's hard to feel like we're really connecting.  Sometimes it feels like ships in the night.  Some days I get so jealous of his ability to just walk out of the house in the morning and go to work, especially when I turn around to a pile of dishes in the sink and a fussy baby (and somewhere at the bottom of that pile in the sink, I'm sure are ALL the bottles!).  The to do list is always forever long and I'm the world's worst housekeeper.  Somehow, I forgot that love that withstands the tests and trials of family life can be the most passionate kind.  I forgot, somehow, that time and practice make relationships stronger.

Yesterday, my hubby and his mom gave me the most beautiful gift, a night out... without the kids.  We went out for a delicious Thai dinner and then did some shopping at a craft place (just because he knew I'd like it and they were running a sale).  My mother-in-law came over to take care of the kids and even arrived early, so I could take the necessary time to change out of the spit-up stained mom jeans and into the date-night attire!  Hubby greeted me with flowers.

Now just to be clear, this doesn't happen often, and frankly, I asked for this date because I knew I needed a break.  But the point is... Hubby knew I needed it, and he was more than willing to oblige.  I'd been feeling resentful about my life (for no REAL reason as I frankly have a fantastic life most of the time) and my lack of adult interaction.  I love my family.  I love being at home with my kids.  Being a full-time stay-at-home mom isn't always easy, but I really wouldn't trade it.  At least, most of the time, I wouldn't! There is a comfort and a security that family life brings.

I just need to remember that there needs to be those evenings with my lover to keep the romantic spark alive.  I need to do things JUST for ME sometimes -- going out with my best friend or spending an afternoon watching a movie -- JUST because  I WANT to.  Because these are the things that keep my passion alive -- so I can stay passionate about the mundane "little things" in my life.


Let's Have Coffee

God lives in a cup of coffee.

I know. People think I'm strange when I tell them that.  I really do believe it though.  

Some people drink coffee.  It is nothing more than a tool to be used to gain the beloved awake/alert status.  Some people don't even like it, but they NEED it.  They are the ones who will say things like, "Decaf coffee is like non-alcoholic beer."  

I grew up in a house where, if there wasn't coffee either already made or in the process of being made, it was because we were all asleep, my parents were too sick to make it, or we weren't home.  That may be a slight exaggeration, but not by much; I used to tease my dad about just getting himself an IV to make it easier on himself.

I was told all the time when I was little that coffee would stunt my growth, but that never stopped me from sneaking sips when my parents "weren't looking" or when I was asked to get them refills.  There was one day of the year that we were allowed to have an entire cup of coffee of our own to drink: Christmas morning.  When we turned 16 it was a right of passage to be allowed to drink coffee.

Coffee isn't just a beverage.  It is an art and should be treated as such.  An art that is, quite frankly, dying in our world.  It's the art of conversation, of relationship.  I've been known to "infect" my friends with the "coffee bug".  Neither my hubby nor a dear friend of mine ever touched the stuff until I came into their lives.  But now... they have both learned to savor the moments that reside in a cup of coffee (and even the beverage itself).  Because coffee represents so much more than just a drink.

Coffee is warm and inviting.  It's the finest form of hospitality and comfort -- the one thing that you're guaranteed to be offered at my house, no matter how unexpected or last minute your arrival.   It's two friends sitting across the table from one another and understanding each other.  It's a walk on a cold day, hand in hand with the person you love.  It's a quiet moment of peace and tranquility by yourself in the early morning (or late afternoon or middle of the night) hours.  It's laughing, crying, living, and loving.  All of this with or without words.

And God is there.  No matter what religion you ascribe to; it's in those moments of pure perfection that God resides.  There are as many types of coffee today as there are types of people.  Whether you're a "chai-mocha-latte-cino with whipped cream" or a "coffee -- black as midnight on a moonless night" kinda person, take a moment to savor your next cup fully.  

Maybe you will even find where God lives.