Sunday, December 26, 2010

the holidays restful? (NFTPL #20)


i think so often as much as many of us love the holidays there are not a time of rest or relaxation...i know for me for the last several years they have been a time of great stress because often i was very broke or out of work with the families I worked for traveling to see family. when i had gotten christmas bonuses they would go to paying bills for the month or getting christmas presents for people not for something fun for me. even this year the "christmas money" i received was used to pay bills and once again i did not really work most of this month.

yet unlike years past i didn't need to stress about it and i was actually able to find rest during this sacred time of reflection. one of the reasons was that i had enough money to pay all of my bills at the beginning of the month so what i had in my account was what i had and i didn't have to worry about whether or not i could pay this or that. also i am blessed to be living with my best friend and her parents so i didn't have to worry about paying for food or the large amount of gas to get home for christmas. but what really made the holiday restful was the fact that we did spent both weekend away from home in a hotel and the family condo with aunt & uncle and cousins, all of which combined to bring rest for the holiday. it was such a delight to engage with teenagers and a elementary student who genuinely loved and enjoyed each other. i was reminded of how much i miss the times when i get to be with both of my brothers and revel in that sibling comradely. but above all else the best part of christmas was the fact that on christmas morning i got to go swimming and have a martini right after breakfast...if only every day could start like that i would be a happy camper or at least with the swimming!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

crashed (NFTPL #19)

it's been raining a lot here in los angeles over the last few days, unlike the northwest who gets rain frequently, rain here can be and usually is very dangerous. the last time it rained this badly was January of 2005 when my best friend was getting married, that week several houses fell down mullholland drive and laurel canyon! so even being the ever experienced rain driver driving here in the rain kind of freaks me out a bit mostly because people don't know that it isn't the best idea to barrel along as one would in the sun. why driving home this afternoon i was being tailgated by a semi-truck doing at least 65 in a torrential down pour with very little visibility. needless to say when it is badly raining here in los angeles i am very happy when traffic is forced to drive under 50mph. this happened as i was coming back from sierra madre a town about fifteen minutes north west of us. oh and one more thing when there is an accident even if it isn't on the road it slows or stops traffic because people always want to look at it which is something i don't understand...since by looking at it you could cause another accident since you aren't paying attention to the road. anyway as i was slowing inching up the last hill before exiting the freeway i was on to get on the other freeway i need to get home i saw the flashing lights to my left. what i noticed as i got closer and close was that there were over five fire trucks and three police cars. in that instant i realized something major had happened but i still couldn't see the cause, just as i was almost parallel with the emergency vehicle i caught a glimpse of a car door pulled up and off it's hinged right next to a palm tree. someone had wrapped their car around the tree that was the reason and need for all the aid vehicles. in that instance i lost my breath, tears and sobs filled my throat and it was all i could do to keep focused and drive. my mom that what i kept thinking and my heart raced as i prayed begging prayer for whoever had been in the car and all the people who would be affect by this event. i prayed that it would be a place for light and hope to enter instead of darkness i prayed that God would used this horrible thing to glory to offer redemption, reconciliation, and renewal. i know what it is like to have your whole world shatter in an instant because of stupid weather and miscaluations....it is awful and horrible and it's taken me years to heal. yet when i see a horrific car accident i revert to eleven years ago to walking off an airplane and hearing the news that my mom may not make it through the night. i wish that no one else ever has to hear thoses words...and if they do that they find and are offered love and grace and hope that overrides the shattering of a crash.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

of transitions and the unexpected (NFTPL #18)

i start school again three weeks from tomorrow, while i am excited and up for the challenge of it, i find myself thinking about how different my life is that then life that i had wanted. even six months ago i would have been awestruck to hear that i would be attending seminary again, it just wasn't on my radar. i have never really felt like a theologian or felt the need to be a pastor ( a pastor's wife maybe but only when a cute and interesting man was involved) from the time i can remember all i ever wanted to be was a professional artist. yet here i find my self going back to study theology, granted i am working on an emphasis of art and cultural, but in the end i am studying and working with people who want to for the most part be pastors and work in christian organizations and that just isn't where my heart is. it's weird good but weird...i don't seem to understand why i keep ending up in this conundrum. for the most part nobody but me seems surprised by this course from the outside perspective it seems to make a lot of sense, and yet so often when i have prayed and sat with these choices i have felt that i was being told that this path leads me back to being able to act and create art, God hasn't forgotten those desires it's just that the timing is different than i expected it.

which i can understand even now looking back at my life i can see how if i hadn't been at spu when the accident happened how easy it would have been for me to go off the deep end...seeking various forms of mental and emotional obliteration. when i was younger i was not as solid in my self and easily would have lost myself in all the alluring temptations of college (sex, drugs, alcohol and rock-n-roll)...maybe it was something that my subconscious mind knew and that is why i chose to attend the only christian school i had applied to. not that there wasn't things going on there...but unlike many of the public or non-religious school that my friends went to, activities at spu had to be hidden because we did have a morality clause. for me the fact that i had a choice to engage in activities or not was really helpful in finding balance. i did break several of the clauses but i also did it in a very safe and controlled spaces with people i could trust instead of constantly encountering all of these things without a place of safety and escape. at times i have regretted the fact that i didn't have certain experiences or make certain choices, yet i also know that fundamentally i am practical and think about the implications of said choices. i mean it's hard to justify say sleeping with someone you just met at a party when you brain is ticking off all the possible diseases they might be carrying not to mention the fact that while birth control is 99% effective that it is only that percentage effective when used properly and i can say based on other experienced that most of the time drunk people are not going to be able to effectively use much of anything that is smaller than a breadbox and even then it's risky.

in addition i find that during this time i am so overwhelmed by the blessings and provisions that have been offered and bestowed upon me. i feel so filled with thankfulness and gratitude that my heart at times feels as if it will hurts!

it will be interesting to see what comes next on this journey.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

the need to be chosen (NFTHPL #17)

i find that i keep coming back to this central desire in my life...the need to be chosen and seen as unique and lovely, specifically in regard to relationships. it's seems so silly to say and yet it keep rearing it's head when i am not looking blindsiding me with the full weight of feeling unlovely and unwanted. today i found myself once again wrestling with the need and desire. sure this must have something to do with my father, the fact i never went to prom, the lack of a long term relationship, and the history of some very unhealthy and destructive relationships during college. yes yes all of those elements along with my own self hatred and insecurity have been the tools used to create this obscene presence in my heart and mind.

does it really matter part of me wonders, why this is here but rather what matters most is that it is here this sculpture of gaping need. it is that evil voice in the back of my mind sitting poised to crush any wayward notion of hope. today driving in traffic on the 10 with brmc on the i-pod and shiloh taking a nap in the passenger seat i found my heart swelling with anger and grief over the damage that i have both allowed and been party too that made me think i was nothing and worthy of nothing. all those voices that have invalidated my intuition and said that to be chosen was not for me..."no, no you are the servant girl, the best friend, this is not your story." some how i was made to believe that i don't get to live the princess, brave strong woman's story. one of my favorite lines in the christmas movie "the holiday" is when the kind old screen writer tells kate winslet that she needs to live her life as the lead in her story not the supporting role. i often feel that i have done nothing with my life, especially today when none of my previous graduate credits transfer into the new program, i have three degrees and a lot of debt but not much else. as more and more friends go on to fall in love and have relationships, get married and have children...i find that i feel even younger and inexperienced that i all ready do. some how in my brain the relationships, career, children route feels like real life and in contrast mine feels empty and unstated.

i know and fully admit, drunk or sober, that i bought the whole fairytale life of marriage and children and proms and college sweethearts, mind you it wasn't all i wanted but i figured it was just what happens...something that lands in your lap and you don't have to do much work to get it because that's just the way life works. boy was i wrong! it doesn't even appear, at least not in my world, relationships were more like the rare and hard to find truffle (which by the way tasted like ass after all the hard work) and i was ill prepared with a child sized plastic shovel. oh and then there is the pesky manner of my own self protection in the guise of a sign that reads "what the hell do you want, who do you really want to talk to, and (best of all) don't F**K with me" even as i type the words of my well worn signs that evil little voice trills over and over "but if you were really worth it those signs wouldn't matter..." in the end i feel broken and childish and way to young and old for my own good...but most of all tired of being alone and waiting and waiting and waiting for someone who never seems to come and the final nail in the coffin i am just way to damned suborn to just take anything...my secret heart wants magic and fairytale and fireworks because i deserve it...i think.

honestly, i want someone who challenges me, who believe in God, and is cute and talented in his own way. or at least a nice substitute for a while who happens to be a great kisser among other things.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

the joy of an act (NFTPL #17)

today i was given the chance to paint while serving in my church and it was great. for a hour and a half i painted hot air balloons for the children's classroom. while there are still so many ideas still bumbling around in my head that need to jump out on to a canvas in the near future just the act of dipping a brush into paint and applying that onto something was so rejuvenating and grounding. there was an easy felt in my being for the rest of the day because of that simple act repeated over and over again.

it is so easy for me to forget how much creating and having the mental and spiritual space that creation brings is vital to my well-being. with out it i loose direction and focus. while i was at mars hill i found that often painting helped me find clarity when i was stuck on a paper or idea. because of that i realize going into this next program i NEED to make it part of my process, much like i need to make doing early drafts and research early part of my rhythm and process. the grounding which comes out of painting for me is so vital and yet it is so very easy to ignore that calling inside.

today shiloh and i were talking about art over dinner and i realized that so often we (collective we) forget to incorporate those artistic practices that give us life into our life. i want to make space to create it a vital and central element of my life from now on and be open to what happens with that creation.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

banging things in my head...(NFTPL #16)

there seems to be so many different things banging around in my head as of late. mostly they seem to be little nuggets of inspiration, kernels of future study, or that child like nudging saying it's time to paint. today driving home after a full day which included a bit of childcare in the morning, la traffic, attempts but not success at napping and then a dinner at a urban ministry...all the subtle nudging swelled and grew as BRMC's "The Toll" echoed through the sound system of my best friend's car via my ipod and i thought my heart would burst with all the inexpressible gratitude and emotion. still three months after moving to los angeles i find that i am still being amazed and blessed by the unexpected. some days God chooses to be more showy, as anne lamott puts it, and today was one of those days.

it started with a sermon as i drove in fog slowed traffic at 6:30am. edwin, the pastor of the church i attend was talking about the lack of passion people have today and how we are called to live lives marked by passion for the vision of God and those specific unique gifts that we each are given to use passionately for the blessing of others. my heart cried out hearing those words, he went on to say that it is not enough just to know your skills/gifting/calling/passion but it is also important for you to know how specifically you utilize that. he spoke about his own need as a writer for someone to come along side him and type out his works and story. at which point i was dumb struck by the solid knowledge that i need people to come along side and create with me...co-collaboration is one of the aspects to how i uniquely utilize my skills and gifting.

the same idea of passion came up this evening...John Perkins (major name in racial reconciliation) spoke about passion as the calling to live with people, to take on their suffering and emphasize with their situation and help change it. he also spoke about the fact that currently we have lost passion as church and people in general because we have everything we want at our fingers. which was similar to edwin's talking about the current lack of passion in people.

i began to think about things that i am drawn to the places and issues where even when unintentionally i speak with fever and passion. one of them is women and abuses that happen to women and girls. which lend to musings on the disconnection between some people who i have known who are passionate about social justice for women who are trapped in various forms of slave trade and human trafficking yet who do not treat the people they are in relationship with in the same manner of dignity and respect. i recall an author who has written a piece in eve elsener's "a memory, a rant, a prayer" about his experience in exposing human trafficking in thailand and yet in his first book glorified the object focused random sex he had in and after college. it feels like something is missing...that there is a underlying current of something missing in that equation. i wondered what it would cost to fully give to reconcile the dissonance in my life so that my integrity was solid through and through with out the discontinuity...yet still bringing my humanity, hope, love and truth to every encounter i have with another.

i think both of the wise men i listened to during the day were right about passion and i think that maybe through the fusion of gifts, passion, truth, love, and faith that integrity and hope can be found...or at least a meaning and purpose for one's unique and beautiful life that is greater than just filling the gaping whole of desire but rather roots and grows a tree of deep meaning out of that life.

and in the end i want to do something good and creative and positively changing in the world and in the lives of others. and so my heart wells with joy and anticipation about the journey that i am on to get to that place.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

musings (NFTPL # random insert)

just some random musings about life...

i am finding that the more "real" school becomes the more i disassociate from the reality of it. i start taking graduate classes again in less than a month yet i find that more than anything i have this desire to bury my head in the sand. then i feel guilty for disassociating and it gets all wonky in my head. isn't it so very funny how when you want something badly and worry and stress about it and then *pow* it's there in front of you suddenly that thing you wanted becomes something to stress over for other reasons. or at least that is what happens to me....god help the next man i date!

in other news it's been a week since i was with anyone under the age of 23 and...i am missing being around children and babies. which is weird because after eight years of working in child care i am constantly worried that if i continue to spend my life raising other people's children that i really won't want any of my own. recently though i have found this buried desire for children jumping out of my heart at the weirdest places, like just now while watching a music video i was suddenly over come by the desire to have children of my own, well that and the desire to have children with a man who can play guitar well (is hopefully a musician) and at the least has good taste in music. often when i am struck with this desire full on i feel the need to erase and remove the desire. i think that comes from the twofold fact that 1) i still have at least five years of school left on my plate and b) the more glaring reality which is that i haven't had a serious relationship nor met anyone i would want to have said serious relationship with in many many moons. so the whole wanting a child thing becomes a sad and fearful thing in it's seeming impossibility.

lastly, while i miss the snuggling down that come from a north west winter wonderland...i love the fact that there is no snow in my future and that the heaviest form out outerwear i need is a sweater or my leather jacket! oh los angeles you make me so very happy.

and here ends my random thoughts

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Community (NFTPL #15)

So on the days I am working I have started this habit of listening to older sermon series from Mosaic (www.mosaic.org). Currently I am listening to the series from last spring on Ecclesiastes. Yesterday the message was all about community, how much of what Solomon is saying about life being meaningless has to do with his view of relationships, what motivates them and his profound sense of loneliness. One of the aspects of the text that Erwin spent a significant amount of time talking about was the concept that life goes better for us when we are in community (I want to acknowledge the fact that communities can be destructive as well but for now I am going to focus on the positive aspects). Part of it is practicality there are many things we are incapable of doing on our own. For example, it is so much easier to massage knots in your shoulders if you ask another person to do it than trying to do it your self. By design we are created for community we become more creative when in dialogue with another we aspire to greater things based on the encouragement and when the unexpected or sorrowful enters our lives the support of others at times is what gets us through the darkness.

To listen to this was for me a rush of encouragement and frustration. I am one of those people who needs and desires community so much so that at certain times I have placed the needs of others above my own in a way that inhibitated my ability to succeed. And still community is still one of the central ways I encounter life, so as an artist I find that I am more creative when in some form of community context. Ever since I was little I have dreamed and desired a relationship that was an out pouring of artistic and relational conectivity...I want my partner to be my partner in life and art. Hearing this sermon bubbled up that desire again to a more central part of my brain but it also helped me better understand how I need to have others to create....with out that connection I find that my artistic expression get stymied and stiffled. And while knowing this is good, very good it also becomes a place of frustration when there aren't others around to encourage the creativity or to colaberate with. Not having that sense of community can cause me to stop the act of creation. There are so many things that I could say on this but I will leave that for another post...

Getting what you wanted...(NFTPL #14)

I have spent most of my life not getting the things that I wanted. I can remember a few instances for Christmas or birthdays getting that one thing that I really really wanted to get, but mostly it was the things that I kind of wanted but would have eventually gotten for my self. This not getting what I wanted was specifically acute in regard to dating relationships...all through high school and college the guys who liked me were never the boys that I was interested in dating. For most of my life I have thought that God was out to get me or that I had some how done something so horribly wrong that I was only good enough for cast off crumbs...you know like the tennis shoes you get for christmas that you need but aren't the incredible Frye boots that you had been lusting after all year? I believed to my core that if ever I deeply wanted something that there was absolutely no chance at all that I would have it.

Over the last several years God had been trying to change this perspective...hitting me over the head a few times until I get that God is good and REALLY does want the best for me. This changing view has been acutely evidenced over the last few months, specifically since doors started opening for me to move down to Los Angeles. I have found while living in this process that if I let go, breath, do what I need to do, and trust that God will take care of me and bring blessings. One of those provisions of God's blessings came yesterday in my inbox. The last year has been about applying and preparing for a secondary Master's degree. At first I thought it was going to be attending Claremont Graduate School for an MA in Cultural Studies & Media...yet over the course of this year it has change to finishing a larger theology degree at Fuller Theological School and going on to get a Phd in Theology and Art from Fuller. I had sent in my application at the end of October and had everything but one recommendation in by the first week in November...the final piece came in the thursday before Thanksgiving and I was pretty sure I wouldn't hear anything until next week sometime. But wednesday morning as I was going over the plan for the day with Shiloh and checking my email there was a letter in my inbox from Fuller. I had been admitted into the program...this lead to a furry of phone calls, text messages, & emails letting everyone know...and yet all day Shiloh kept asking me if I was excited because I was pretty much my usual temperment with an added layer of stress. I found it hard to just stay in the moment of "Yay" I got into school but instead immediately was thinking a head to scheduling, funding, ect.

Reflecting on this as I drove to work early this morning, I realized that I haven't developed the ability yet to just be happy when I am given something that I really wanted and have asked God to provide. I am more comfortable with disappointment than I am with the gift of getting.What was more acute to this reflection was the fact that in so many ways getting into school was something that I knew with a decent amount of certainty was going to happen there was absolutely no reason I would not be admitted. So then given the certainty of God's provision I freak out I wondered how much I will try to dispell joy when I am given something I really desire and think is impossible...such as a relationship with someone I actually like or a job that is in my field and passion? How great is my inhability to hold joy and thankfulness for God's gifts, will I try to destroy that just so that I can remove the discomfort that being given abundance and blessing brings? I hope and believe that I am being offered little things so that with each one I can learn better how to live in blessing so that when those HUGE wants and desires of my heart are presented I don't completely destroy or run away from the beautiful gift. I also hope that in the midst of this journey I learn to see blessing, joy and learn to bless even when everything sucks and light feels like it is left forever...I hope that as I seek to further my skills, talents, and education that I also further grow in relationship to the God who seeks to bless and love all of God's GOOD creation.