Friday, December 30, 2005

Quiet Season

I'm entering into a quiet season. After a hectic holiday season, I'm longing for a slower pace; a haven of rest, solitude, creativity & introspection. I want to read and write. I want to listen to music & take walks in the snow. I want to connect with God, with myself & with others.

There's a sadness stuck in my throat. I've been swallowing it down for too long now. Deep waters rush within me. I need to dive in & swim down to the treasures below. I've been doggypaddling for too long now, not willing to dunk my head under & get my hair wet. But this quiet season, I take a deep breath & take the plunge.

Friday, December 23, 2005

My Dear God (Santa) Letter

This Sunday it's Your birthday. This Sunday we celebrate your birth, your story, your life. However, I'm sad to say, I have forgotten about You. Perhaps Santa was once supposed to represent You - Father Christmas who works miracles, who gives gifts; the big guy upstairs who lives up north who the kids who still believe pray to and write letters to, who comes in the middle of the night while we're sleeping so we don't ever get to see in the flesh or talk with the real one. But now, the Santa icon has taken over and You get lost. I forget that it's Your birthday and that You're the one who gets the gifts.

I guess I don't know how to celebrate You. I'm looking forward to our Christmas Eve service so I can remember You and worship You and celebrate You. My husband and I are making a new tradition on Your birthday of reading the story in the Bible of Your birth. I want to not only believe in You, I want You to be real to me. More real than the idols I worship in my life.

Why do I do the things I do for Christmas? Presents, decorations, Christmas trees, parties, a feast together with family & loved ones... Most of the world shuts down and takes the day off but not really with the intention to honor You. It's nice to have the day off but I want to be aware on Christmas of what I'm celebrating.

Will You spend Christmas Day with me & my family? I hear You RSVP: "The question is, will you?" You're like the gift left under the Christmas tree unopened & forgotten. A plain brown bag. You don't demand attention; You don't have shiny colorful wrapping paper & a big red bow wrapped around You. But You are the most important gift; You are the only gift. I believe; help me in my unbelief.

I enjoy the Christmas season. I don't think You have to be thrown out because of all the commercialization. Or that all the holiday traditions need to be thrown out in order to glorify You alone. I believe You are for giving, and beauty, and relationship, and celebrating and enjoying good food. I believe You are in that. But so often I forget that You are Christmas. You are with us, whether we set a place for You at the feast or not. Please come. There is not only room for You, the day is meant for You. May I remember You & celebrate You well.

Season of regret

My husband gave me some hard but good words the other day. I've been faced with my selfishness lately. Money issues and finding work has been a big stress on our relationship our entire marriage. More of a stress on him than on me in many ways because I grew up with a Daddy who provided everything for me. Money was never an issue for me growing up. Even when I was out of the house he paid for my college & grad school education as well as provided me with a car, food, clothes, & rent-free housing. I worked as a teenager, mostly as a babysitter and at a health club. I worked throughout college and grad school as well - office jobs, nanny jobs, bookstore jobs. But I know I was lucky. It was very important to my dad to provide for his kids. He was a very giving man... perhaps to the point of taking away responsibility that should have been ours. My dad grew up very poor & perhaps that played into it. Providing for us financially was his way of giving us security and love. So, going into marriage, I unconsciously expected my husband to be my Sugar Daddy. Now, 2.5 years into marriage, I'm facing this. Husband was aware of this even before we married. I remember now, before we married, he being worried about financial expectations I may put on him because of how I grew up. He worried that he wouldn't be able to be a good provider for me on a counselor's salary (or a coffee shop salary).
I grew up with a mom who never had to work outside of the home. She took odd jobs here & there but it wasn't out of financial necessity. My mom got great pleasure out of being a homemaker and a mom. She was able to be home with all of us kids when we were growing up & I'm grateful for that. She instilled in me the desire to stay home when we have kids. I look forward to the time when we have kids and I can be home with them. I am a homebody. I love our home; I love being at home. But I also can see how this can be safe, how this can become an escape. I don't want to have kids just so I can escape from working. I still plan on counseling when we have kids - perhaps evenings when my husband can be at home with the kids. I still hope to do speaking engagements & workshops. I still hope to write professionally. The problem is, I've been so focused on the future & planning for what's to come that I have neglected right now. And I know it's because right now is hard career-wise; right now is disappointing career-wise. It's not that I don't want to work. I just don't want to have to work where I don't want to (like the bookstore). I'm so protective of my time - and probably not in a good way. I want to be able to do our counseling practice solely & having to do anything else I resent. This has caused me to be unwise & selfish with my time right now. We don't have kids now & therefore now is a time of greater freedom that I need to be using my gifts & time towards building our counseling practice & earning money. Husband said, "I'm worried that you're going to look back on this time & see it as a season of regret." And he's right. I struggle with a lot of regrets from my past. I can't go back but I can do something about now to prevent future regret. I am convicted that I'm not using this time as I should... Because of my fears, because of my lack of trust & dependence on God, because of my stubborness, because of my selfishness, because of my poor time management I am not doing with my time & my life as I want to. Those were good words from my husband. I pray God continues to change my heart & my attitudes.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Poor Oliver

Our poor kitten has been through way too much this past weekend and my husband and I are having a very hard time with it all. Ollie got in his first cat fight on Thursday night while we had some friends over. He snuck outside while we had the front door open & 10 minutes later I heard the worst cat noises imaginable. I ran outside but I didn't see Ollie or any other cat. I was very worried that Ollie was hurt so I grabbed a flash light & looked all over for him, calling for him while my friend Judy was shaking his box of kitty treats. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally gave up & started walking back towards the front door. Ollie came running from somewhere & ran into the house. He had poop on his head & all over his butt. He smelled awful. So I put him in the bathtub for a dreaded bath. Normally he goes limp when I give him a bath but this time he was furious (& in pain). He was hissing & crying. We managed to get through it, & later that night, he just wanted to be on my lap or me holding him. I was really worried about him because he seemed to be in pain & was not acting his usual perky self.

I didn't sleep much Thursday night. Ollie was on the bed with us but in the middle of the night he left (which is very unlike him - we usually have to be the ones to kick him out because he romping all over the bed at 3 a.m.). In the morning, Husband woke up first & went looking for our dear kitty. He was worried because he remembered hearing that cats go off alone when they're dying. He found him lying under the Christmas tree with very very sad eyes. All morning he barely moved & wasn't eating. When he did move, he was limping & whining. We made an appointment to take him to our vet, which we were late for because we had a horrible time trying to get him into his carrier.
The vet checked him over & said he was fine - no open wounds. He had just been through something really traumatic & was mad & probably really sore & bruised from the fight. He gave him some anti-inflammatory meds & some antibiotics.

We brought him home & he slept most of the day. By evening he was eating & even playing a little with my shoelaces. We were getting our Ollie back! It was so wonderful to have him back. We had been so scared that Ollie had gotten rabies or that we'd have to put him under. He improved more & more over the weekend. Sunday I noticed when I was petting him that he had some bumps on his side. He was due to go back to the vet this afternoon for a rabies shot. I was at work when Husband brought him in. I called my husband on my way home from work to see how the rabies appt. went & Husband said, well, Ollie came out of surgery ok. What! Evidently, he didn't get his rabies shot after all. Instead, the dr. checked out the bumps & said they were teeth bites & they were bloody. He had two on his right side & one under his right front leg. They were open wounds so they had to put Ollie under, shave his hair on his side, insert a drain into his side & under his leg & sew him back up. They put a collar around his neck (a drape like a bib) so that he won't scratch off the drains or reopen his wounds. Well, needless to say, Ollie is very very unhappy. And so are my husband and I. He absolutely hates the collar. I don't think he can sleep comfortably with it and he can only lay on one side because of his wounds on his right side. We have to give him pain meds by mouth 2 times/day & we have to clean his wounds twice/day. Tonight, doing both was extremely hard. Afterwards, Ollie scooped half his kitty liter onto the floor next to his kitty liter box. I think he's mad at us.

So, this is how it's going to be for the next 4 days til we can bring him back to the vet on Friday & get his drains removed & his collar taken off. We're not sure who's looking forward to it more, us or Ollie. Poor Ollie. We feel so very sad for him. If God cares for the sparrows, surely he cares for our kitty. Please heal him God.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Tag, I'm it...

The snow is really coming down now - big fat flakes. I love it. It's so beautiful. It's capturing my attention.

So my sister in law, Wendy, tagged me to play this game so here goes...

Seven things to do before I die

1. Have a baby (at least one)
2. Be a published author
3. Travel more
4. Seek forgiveness from the people I've wronged throughout my life
5. Make sure people in my life know how much I love them
6. Have a thriving counseling practice
7. Live more free from my heart

Seven things I cannot do

1.Be a morning person
2.Be an extrovert
3. Redo my past
4. Fall asleep as soon as I go to bed (my mind is also racing & it usually takes me hours to fall asleep)
5. Swim (I could stay afloat if I needed to but I don't know for how long)
6. All the gymnastics tricks I used to be able to do
7. Be without God

Seven things that attract me to my husband

1. His face
2. His kindness
3. How he cares for people so well
4. How he pursues my heart
5. How he makes me laugh
6. How he loves me as I am & encourages me to become more the person I want to be
7. How he believes in me

Seven things I say most often

1. I don't wanna get out of bed yet (pretty much I say this every morning & it usually comes out in a whine)
2. I love you
3. I need to exercise
4. What is wrong with me?
5. I'd rather be writing right now
6. Oliver! (usually yelling at my cat for some bad thing he's done)
7. I wish I had more clients

Seven Books I love
1. Blue Like Jazz (Donald Miller)
2. John Eldredge books
3. Dan Allender books
4. Harry Potter books
5. Passionate Marriage (David Schnarch)
6. The Velveteen Principles (Toni Raiten-D'Antonio)
7. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)

Seven Movies I’d watch
(or have watched over and over again)
1. It’s a Wonderful life
2. Harry Potter movies
3. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
4. Anne of Green Gables
5. Legends of the Fall
6. A River Runs Through It
7. To Gillian On Her 37th Birthday

Seven people who I want to join in
1. Rob
2. Judy
3. Jason
4. Tod
5. Dianne
6. Jean
7. Mom

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Let it snow, Let it snow!

First snowfall of the season! I love it! I was singing in the shower this morning I was so happy. Amazing what a little snowfall can do to my spirits! I work 2 to close tonight at the bookstore & I really don't mind it now that the snow is coming down. I remember really enjoying my shifts at the Holland bookstore when it would snow. Something about being in a cozy bookstore with a hot drink while the snow falls outside that puts customers in a jolly mood.

Welcome to winter!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I'm very excited about 2 movies coming to the big screen this month & next...

November 18 - Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire

December 9 - The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe

See ya at the movies :)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

It's a girl!

My sister welcomed a baby girl to their family this morning. All 8 lbs, 2 ounces, 20'' of her. Evidently she's got lots of black hair too :) Mom & baby are doing great. I will add a picture to my blog when I get some. Wish I could be there to hold her & breathe in that newborn smell :) It just can't get any more perfect, sacred & holy than that. I can't wait to meet you baby girl!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Back to the bookstore

So I'm back working at barnes & noble. Part-time temp work for the holidays. I start next Monday, Nov. 14 Will be good to be bringing in some more income.

I've been working out every other day for a week now. I'm really feeling good about it. Sometimes I even look forward to my workouts! I'm determined for this to last... this time.

We are painting our counseling office. We're sick of the dirty white walls. So we put a first coat on tonight & hope to finish the job on Saturday. It's a nice soothing color. I'm excited to be fixing up our office. Makes our business feel more real, more legit, more professional. We're praying every day that God will send us more clients. And I pray that God will help me to do the work He's called me to do. I love the counseling aspect of it but the marketing and networking I'm so bad at! Perhaps that's God's intention - it puts me in a place where I truly need Him, But still, I fight it and deny it and try to prove otherwise. {Sigh} Why do I fight against someone who's so FOR me?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Gender Identity Issues

I hate shopping for clothes! Today, I spent the afternoon trying to use up a bunch of gift cards - usually a wonderful thing - however, today it left me depressed & feeling like I must have a very strange-shaped body because nothing fit! Finally, after trying 3 stores & no luck, my mood quickly declining, I stopped in one final store. Walking by the men's section, several items caught my eye & I thought, why can't women's clothes look like that? But I continued on to the women's section & after several trips, back & forth to the dressing room, trying on clothes, requesting different sizes, peeling the clothes off my strange-shaped body & throwing them to the ground, a heap at my feet, feeling more depressed & hopeless, I left the dressing room, again walked thru the men's section & this time stopped & thought, well, why can't I wear men's clothes? I grabbed a few & headed back to the dressing room. The men's pants fit great & most importantly, in men's sizes, I'm considered pretty tiny :) So, as far as pants go, I'm sticking to men's clothes... just call me John.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Day 1

Day one of Operation Lose Weight... I drive to the Y, go to the locker room to change and realize, I forgot my running shoes. I have socks & my sandals. So much for running on the treadmill. Determined to get a workout, I still lift weights, in my socks, and head home to run around my neighborhood. Oh well, at least it was a beautiful day out. Next time, Jenna, remember the shoes! Talk about ambivalence!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hollywood here I come!

We starting watching Alias, season one, and aside from loving the show, it had an interesting effect on me... it made me want to lose weight. maybe because jennifer garner is in super shape, maybe because I wish I could do some of the kick-ass moves she does. But really now, when would I ever need to move like that? (It would be fun though) I don't think the CIA will be coming for me anytime soon. Guess I don't fit the right "profile"
So I don't need to look like Jennifer Garner (if I did right now I'd have to look very pregnant)
but I do want to lose some weight and get into better shape. I want to eat better & get into an exercise routine. We're heading into the worst possible season for this - cold weather, Halloween candy, holiday food, etc. But I've done it before, I can do it again. I have free membership at the Y afterall! No excuse!

So, guilty confession of the day... Last week, we got a HUGE bag of Halloween candy from Sam's Club... Halloween is still 6 days away and we've already eaten half the bag. SO NOT GOOD! Hope they'll be some left for the poor trick or treaters!

So anyway, now that I've blogged about it, maybe I'll really get serious about losing weight. I may not be Hollywood material but I sure could use a movie star's salary. Being rich and thin is the key to happiness, right?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Classic TV

My husband and I haven't had tv since we moved into our house in April. It's so we can save some money and so we won't waste so much time watching tv. But I think I've been missing it lately because at night I lay in bed thinking about my favorite programs I watched as a kid.

Remember these?

The Wonder Years, Growing Pains, Family Ties, Who's The Boss, The Cosby Show, Cheers, Doogie Howser, MD. That was when those shows were on prime time. When I was sick & got to stay home from school, I loved watching I love Lucy, The Love Boat, Bewitched, The Andy Griffith Show, I dream of Jeannie, Leave it to Beaver. And after school I loved watching Knight Rider (what was the name of the talking car?), Magnum PI, My Two Dads, Silver Spoons, The Brady Bunch, Punky Brewster, The Jetsons, Inspector Gadget, My So Called Life, Hey Dude (on Nickelodeon - did anyone else watch that? I LOVED that show - taped every one of them. I must still have them somewhere. My brother & I would watch it together. He loved it too. I think he had a crush on that one girl - tall, brown hair with the tight jeans, Bradley. Well, I had a crush on Ted, who didn't? I cried (literally) when he left the show).

In high school the only soap I watched was General Hospital. I was SO into it. I hated missing it & when I had to, I'd tape it. In the evenings with my parents, we'd watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob NewHart Show, & Dick Van Dyke Show, The Twilight Zone. My parents loved those shows. I have really good memories of us watching them together. Friday nights, my best friend and I would have sleepovers at each other's house and Saturday mornings we'd watch Garfield & Friends & Saved by the Bell. There must have been other favorites we watched but I can't remember. Ahhh, the good ole days. Yet the cool thing is, most of those shows you can still find today - on TBS & TV Land channels...

Some fun TV memories from my childhood.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Ambivalence (a.k.a Half-Ass Syndrome)

Every single thing about me is half-ass! My writing, my running, my counseling practice, my marriage, my friendships, my relationship with God, etc. etc. etc. I don't like commitment, I don't like putting my whole heart into something... I fear loss, failure, disappointment. I fear truly allowing another (others) to see me & know me. So I keep people at a distance, success at a distance, the chance to really make a difference and impact others at a distance. I keep the life I want to create & the person I want to become at a distance. Yuck! I don't like this about myself. I'm realizing just how much this ugly ambivalence is part of my life and just how long this has been going on. It affects every single part of my life... and probably started when i was in middle school (who knows, maybe I was an ambivalent baby, if that's possible...)

Several ways ambivalence plays out in my life:

1) I don't like to finish books that I start, especially books I love. I hate endings, from finishing books to the loss of relationships. If I quit before the book is over, I still have something to come back to whenever I want.

2) I have never finished a short story I've written. I'm constantly changing and editing until I'm sick to death of it & put it away in a box in my closet and start another writing project. At one time, I always have too many writing projects going at once. And I can never stick to just one of them. Initially I'm really excited about a new idea but when I try to put it down on paper and make it a reality, I lose interest quickly and move on... or stop writing.

3) It takes me forever to wear the new clothes I buy. (This drives Husband crazy!) I don't want to dirty them. I don't want arm pit stains or spaghetti sauce stains that never come out. I don't want to accidently throw them in the dryer and shrink them and then I can no longer wear them. They're safest in the closet; they look the best hanging in my closet with the price tag. (I know, what an awful waste of money this is! I do eventually wear them but sometimes months and months after I buy it.)

4) I desperately want to lose weight & exercise consistently. But I have a love-hate relationship with food, exercise & the gym... throw into that mess, issues with my body image and, need I say more? There's a lot there...

5) I'll probably be stuck in grief over the loss of my dad for the rest of my life if I continue in this ambivalence. I tip-toe around my grief, i jump over my grief, I walk away from my grief. Yet it's always there, within me. There was always a lot of ambivalence in my relationship with my dad. Perhaps that's where a lot of this comes from...

6) I'm lonely. And I say I want deep, authentic, rich friendships but as soon as relationships start moving in that direction, I distance myself. I push away. I isolate myself. The whole push-pull dynamic that describes so many of my friendships and romantic relationships throughout the years (not to mention relationship with God).

7) I long for our private practice to be a success. But when it comes to taking the risks & putting in the time and energy to work towards making that a reality, I bail. Sure I'll put 50% into it (or less to be more realistic & honest). Then if it never flys, I can do something about it, I can pretend I have some control & do something about it. But, if I put my whole self into it, and it still fails... what then can I do? Then I'm completely out of control. Then I'm completely dependent on God. Not a comfortable place for me.

And that's what a lot of my life has come down to - personal comfort - in my marriage, in my relationships, in my work. Limit risk, limit heart involvement & therefore, limit loss and pain. And as a result, limit passion and joy and success.

This has been a huge discovery for me in the last couple weeks. I don't want fear to win over. I want to want more for my self and my life and my marriage and my career and my relationships. And I do. Desire and fear are battling it out in my heart. My hearts been at war for so many years now. But to move past ambivalence, I think it takes more than just wanting things to be different. And I'm not clear yet as to what else it's gonna take...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Back to work

Well, I have to go back to work. Gonna try & work PT at the Muskegon Barnes & Noble. It doesn't make sense for me to go back to the Holland store. That's a waste of time & gas to drive all that way for part-time work. So, hopefully I'll be able to get into the Muskegon store.

I'm discouraged - like I'm having to take a step backwards. Our business just isn't growing fast enough and Husband hasn't been able to find a FT counseling job. So I'm sad but I also know that I'm being selfish & just need to suck it up & get a job... it's only part-time. I don't know why I'm having such a hard time. I just want to be counseling full time & doing anything else is discouraging. But Husband's been making a lot of sacrifices. He's not loving life working at the coffee shop. He's just as discouraged about not having a counseling job. So, I need a major attitude adjustment... & forgiveness... and a job.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Still haven't found what I'm looking for

Something felt incomplete about my last post. It felt like those times where I have to write 2 or 3 pages of nothing before I can come to one true sentence. And I throw the rest out & start anew with that one sentence. However, in my previous post, I stopped before I got to that one sentence. The truth is, the truth I've been scared to admit, is that I was disappointed with the U2 concert. How could I have been disappointed? It was U2 live! My all-time favorite band! I paid big money & traveled several hours just to hear & see them sing afar for two and a half hours. Did I meet them? No. Do they know I exist? No. Does that matter? No.

So, yes, I was disappointed. I suppose I set myself up for it. I went into it searching for the spiritual experience I had at the U2 concert in Seattle. I had expectations of meeting up with God & dancing with Him in the aisles. But that was 4 years ago. A lot has happened in the last four years – in my life, in the lives of U2, in our world. 9/11 happened 5 months after the Seattle concert & the world hasn't been the same since. But God is the same right?

So I went to the Chicago concert longing for God & left disappointed because He didn't show up, at least not as I expected Him too. But looking back, I can say with confidence that He was there. I'm not sure where He was, that wasn't so obvious to me as it was in Seattle, but after the concert, as we were walking back to our hotel and drunk kids were stumbling and staggering in front of us, & we were praying we wouldn't have to see one of them walk into the street & get hit by a bus, I knew He was among us, among all of us, especially those who couldn't walk a straight line. So we walked back to our hotel, fell into bed & I can't remember when I've slept deeper. It's been a long time coming. And now, life is back to normal back home... it's 1 a.m. & I'm still “wide awake”...

U2 are spiritual figures for me. Bono is all about peace and unity & meeting the needs of the poor & sick. He's a voice for the hopeless when they have no voice. He's no Mother Theresa but who knows, maybe he would have been one of Jesus' disciples if he'd been alive when Jesus was. God has given him a gift & he's faithful to his call. Who knows, maybe he's a modern day prophet? Prophets were human weren't they – sinners like the rest of us? I don't have Bono on a pedestal; I just admire him greatly for his work, his faith & his spiritual journey. I admire that in all the band members. And, I know, the truth is, I don't really know any of them. But what I do know, I have great respect for.

So the real truth, one of those nugget sentences I never reached in my previous post, is that I'm longing for God. I went searching for him in Chicago & found Him after all. The experience made me long for God & yearn for Him to show up. It has made me take a look at my own life & work, and pray that God will make me faithful to the unique calling He has for me. So I'm grateful. Grateful to have longing for God. Grateful for the concert to have intensified that for me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sharing a room with U2

... at the United Center Arena in Chicago, that is... Husband and I went with our friends Mike & Kelly last night. It was a sweet show! The first time I saw them was in Seattle during their last tour & that was definitely more of a life-changing experience than last night's concert (maybe b/c it was my first time) but, I'd say last night's concert was better. It wasn't as worshipful as it was in Seattle, it was definitely more political so it was a bit disappointing in that way but the songs they chose to play and Bono's singing was far better last night. The show was pretty laid back & slower-paced, even though they certainly rocked the crowd with their oldies but goodies. But they sang some more mellow songs too.
I couldn't believe when he started singing my absolute favorite song, "For the first time". Evidently, this was the first time (no pun intended) that they've played the song live in the US. What a treat! Husband and I actually played it during our communion at our wedding. Part of the lyrics go...

My father is a rich man
He wears a rich man's cloak
Gave me the keys to his kingdom coming
Gave me a cup of gold

He said I have many mansions
And there are many rooms to see
But I left by the back door
And I threw away the key

For the first time

I feel love

It's an awesome song. Anyway, last night Bono switched up the words a bit and sang that this time, he didn't throw away the key. Was pretty cool... like ten years later he can say that now... like we're getting a glimpse of his spiritual journey.

Bono also sang a song, Miss Sarajevo, from their Passengers CD. Pavarotti actually sings the chorus in Italian on the album but Bono sang it last night and nailed it! I was actually surprised how good Bono's voice was last night. He actually sounded better live than he does on their last album. After 20 years of singing, his voice has only gotten better. Definitely a gift from God.

Well, what can I say, it was an awesome time! I'm thankful we were able to go.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Dependent Personality Disorder

I resist complete dependence on God. Is He trustworthy? Does He have my best interests at heart? He's wild & untamed but is He good? Husband and I have been talking about what it would mean to live our life in such a way that we're more dependent on God. If we believe God has called us to be counselors, then should we pursue this wholeheartedly, forsaking everything else? Should Husband quit the coffee shop (our only real source of income, apart from a few clients here & there) & go full time with me into building our practice? Would God then show up & provide for us? And yet we're supposed to be responsible as well... we need to pay our bills, we need health insurance, etc. etc. etc. This is where we get stuck. How do we be "responsibly dependent"?

We don't risk enough in our lives, in our careers, in our relationships. We don't put ourselves in circumstances where we will not be able to go on without God. We're not on our knees because we've built our life so that we don't need to be. And that scares me. I don't want to have to lose everything (or anything for that matter) for me to "need" God.

We need wisdom in this area. Any thoughts?


We're reading this book about prayer for our church called Fresh Wind Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Last night we met with our small group to talk about the first few chapters. It seems I'm not the only one who struggles with prayer and that was a comfort to hear. Issues of trust, desire, guilt keep us from having the kind of prayer life we want to have. One of the group members asked what our definition of prayer was and in my head, my first response was, I define prayer as talking to God. But then as other people responded to their definitions of prayer, I thought, no, I want my definition to be a conversation with God. I want to listen more to him speak into my life and my heart. I long to hear from him. I've realized that I tend to avoid it for 2 reasons: 1) b/c of the pain of only experiencing silence & emptiness when I do try to listen, and 2) I fear the intimacy of Him actually talking to me. Will I hold on to my desire for that kind of relationship with God more than my fears of it? At least for today?

I'm also reading this other book called Leaving the Saints. It's about a woman who was sexually abused in the Mormon church and her journey to leave the Mormons in order to rediscover her faith in God. She wrote about prayer and how she was learning how much it's more about listening rather than demanding. In a beautiful section she writes about what she feels that God was saying to her during a particularly difficult time... she writes that God was telling her, "I am here. Always. I am always right here... The one place you can find me is the one place you have been afraid to go: your own heart. It will not be easy for you to go there. I will be here. Always. I will always be right here."

Reading that was comforting to me.

When there are discussions of prayer, the word "discipline" usually comes up. I cringe at the word, discipline. It keeps me away from prayer because it sounds like something you have to do rather than want to do. And wouldn't I want someone to talk to me and spend time with me b/c they want to rather than because they have to for one reason or another? I wonder if God feels that way too. He wants us to come to him because we want to, not because we're told we have to pray every morning for this amount of time, or we have to pray each time before we eat & if we don't God's going to choke us with the food we eat. Do I really believe God wants me to fear him more than desire him?

Another group member brought up the idea that Jesus must have longed to talk to God while he was on earth; it wasn't about him being disciplined to pray but being connected to his Father. Can you imagine the conversations they must have had... Dad, you won't believe what happened today... God, I was so angry when this happened... Father, this is too hard, please help me...

I so long to have that kind of relationship with God... like how excited I am to tell my husband the details of my day, like when I miss him when we're apart for too long. Why don't I have that with God? I guess I can't have that when I'm avoiding my own heart.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Running with God

I've been running on the beach in the evenings this last week. It's such an amazing experience. Sometimes I'll lace up just on time to run into the sunset. Other times the moon is bright above, lighting my path along the shore. My favorite beach time is at night. It's so peaceful & quiet. I feel God at the beach. Not just know he's with me but actually feel his presence. That's such a rare blessing for me. I want to linger with him after my runs; sit with him on the sand; watch the waves roll in; take off my sandy shoes and socks to feel the cool water on my tired & sore feet. His presence is so strong with me those times - it's such a comfort, such a rare & raw experience.

Apart from God, I also have a new running buddy, something I've been praying for for some time now. And not just a running buddy but she's become a good friend as well. It's so good for my heart and my soul. I feel very grateful tonight.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Labor Day Weekend

We just returned from spending Labor Day Weekend with some friends in Chicago. We were blessed with beautiful weather, good food, rest, fun, and a closeness to God that is rare & rich when it happens. I experienced this through staring into the face and holding in my arms their adorable 3-month old baby girl.

On the way home, we drove thru Wheaton, Ill - one of my old haunts. I lived there for several months with my oldest brother and his family when I was 19 years old. It's been 10 years since I've been back & driving through, I felt a mix of longing and sadness and joy. Probably in reminescence of what I felt while I was living there. Living there was a haven for me, as if the losses and demands and pain of life could be put on hold for a time. At the time, my brother & his wife only had their first daughter & she was just a year old. What a delight, a soothing for my heart & soul she was, to hold her and hug her and play with her and watch over her as she slept. We bonded... a strong bond that continues between us today as she enters into middle school.
But it also was a sad time in my life. Back in Maryland, where I decided to get away from for awhile, my relationship with my first boyfriend was painfully slipping away from me & no matter how much I tried to grasp it or grip onto it, I was losing hold. The loss of that relationship was a defining time in my life. And today, ten years later, driving through Wheaton, I realized, there's still parts of my heart that need to let go and say goodbye. There's still grief there for me to enter into.

I know this is true regarding my dad as well. He died over 3 years ago and I haven't said goodbye. I haven't let him go. There is no set timetable for grief. You ride its waves; waves that wash over you; waves you hope won't hold you under and drown you.
Driving through Wheaton, I felt the desire to dive deeper & swim further than I have these last 10 years.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Happy Birthday to me!

Today is my 29th birthday. One more year and I'm the big 3-0! I don't know why that feels so significant to me but it does. The end of my 20's... Geez, I still feel like such a child in so many ways. Turning 29 makes me realize how much I'm not a little girl anymore but a woman! Why has it taken me so long to see that. I guess it's been easier to resist seeing that. It feels safer to be a girl. There's so much packed in that word, "woman". I'm still trying to understand what that word means for me.

Birthdays are always reflection times for me. Reflecting back and hoping for the coming year. This year I divide my life into 3 parts: Maryland, Seattle, & Michigan. Maryland was my childhood, my past. And while I can't go back, it's still with me today. I long for redemption and restoration of certain relationships and of my heart that sometimes feels like it's still back there - holding on to something that I haven't been able to let go of yet...

I look back on my time in Seattle, and see how much those years were about digging up the soil of my heart and my life to plant new seeds. Deep roots that I couldn't see at the time. I just felt the pain of growth and change. But today, there's this glorious
garden that's growing beauty and color and life where there were only weeds before.

Michigan, the present. Here my dad is buried. Here I was married on the beach. Here, today, I will be baptized in Lake MI. And to me, being baptized is about a new start. A re-dedication of my life and my heart. A meaningful moment to mark, to set apart, from all other moments, days, birthdays. An entering the water as a girl and re-emerging as the woman, the
butterfly, the wild flower, the untamed natural beauty God has created me to be. With a crowd of witnesses around me, to remind me when I forget.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Summer of hope

Two more days & I’m a free woman! No more working every Saturday & Sunday, no more work schedule that changes weekly, no more minimum wage, no more commuting an hour five days/week, no more smiling sweetly even when customers are insulting & rude, no more shelving porn, no more working 40 hours/week on my feet, pushing heavy carts and carrying boxes full of magazines. Yep, you guessed it, I put in my 2 weeks notice at B&N & I have 2 more days left. I’m investing full time into Rob & I’s counseling practice, Sacred Space Counseling. I’ll be spending my time marketing, networking, advertising, running groups & workshops, writing & hopefully taking on new clients. I’m still on the lookout for a counseling job in an agency or school as well but my main focus will be on building our practice. I feel so blessed that we can do this. And who knows what will come of it. We’re doing it on a trial basis for the summer. If come fall, nothing has come of it, I’m back to B&N or some other job. But we’re praying that God will bless this time and the future of our practice.

I really need this break. I need time to rest, to exercise, to connect with myself & with others. I look forward to going to church on a regular basis, getting connected again with our Life Group, hanging out with friends & family. Building & strengthening friendships has gone to the wayside and I can really feel the lack of that in my life. I hope the end of B&N will be a stress-reliever for me. It’s not like the job itself was incredibly stressful. It was just the fact that after awhile, I didn’t want to be there. I felt held back. I felt stuck. I felt frustrated. I felt unhappy. I felt like the things that are important to me had to be pushed on the backburner & for what? B&N? Well, no, for the money, for the insurance. I wasn’t working there for nothing. There were some great perks – the discount, staying up with the latest book, music & movie releases, the free mags. I will miss those things. And there are a couple people that I’d like to stay in touch with from the store after I leave. But it was stressful for me to be in a place where I wasn’t able to make steps towards my future and my dreams. I feel really blessed that we can do this now. I know it's an incredible priviledge & I hope what I do with this time will honor that. I’m excited to see what God’s going to do.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Remember me?

It's hard to start up again after being gone for so long but here goes... I won't backtrack about my life since November, I will begin with today... Today I am tired. I've been tired all weekend actually for some reason. A bit frustrating to be tired on my weekend off but it was a good weekend anyway. It was extremely hard going back to work this morning. This month should actually not be too bad of a month work-wise (besides the fact that I STILL work at B&N!) 3 out of the 4 weekends this month I requested off due to going out of town & having family visiting. You gotta love when the store manager begrudgedly gives you permission than when you return from your first weekend off proceeds to ask you details of what you did during your time off & then for the rest of the shift, hassles you everytime he sees you about all the time off you've requested that month. Just another reason I need out! I'm a caged animal there & if I don't get out sometime SOON, I'm gonna bite the manager's head off & eat it for my 30 minute lunch break. Good thing I'm not a carnivore...
I feel stuck there. Actually in thinking about it, I feel stuck in many areas of my life...
But for tonight, I'm done working for the day. It stays lighter til later in the evening these days, there's a cool breeze coming in my window after a humid day & it smells & feels like rain. So tonight, I will breathe in those gifts of life & recommit to writing on my blog more consistently. Til next time...