Sunday, February 27, 2011

waiting for word... (NFTPL # 37)

time seems to running both exceedingly fast and inexcusably slowly right now. in less than three weeks my first quarter in my second graduate program will be over and a week after that we begin shooting our first video project. all of this is fabulously exciting, nerve racking and wonderful...it's also hard to sit in the waiting for these things to come. while we are madly dashing around to get everything in order for the shoot and i am madly dashing around to finish school work (well really stressing my self out by waiting in the last minute to finish things really), we are also waiting to get the official yes or no in regard to the song which inspired this whole project. often i sit amazed that we are so close to seeing this idea we had last october become enfleshed and seared onto celluloid! then i freak out with all the wondering of how can we do possibly do justice to the grand and beautiful vision Shiloh and I had so long ago? on top of that there is the fear that somehow, in spite of all the evidence that God is truly present in this endeavor and guiding us to the people who we know with knowledge greater than our own, that we will screw it up somehow. i think this is my perpetual fear that at some point i will be found to be the foolish and unclear person i feel inside...it happens every time i walk on stage or turn in a paper or sell a painting that fear that says i will be found out for the fake i am.
yet i don't believe that's how life or God works. i believe that we are all endowed by God with gifting and skills even if they are raw and yet unhoned and that all most people need to become the great and incredible creative that they are is to have a chance...for someone to bet on their vision. sometimes this needs to be offered more than once but i do believe in the faithfulness of risk and the offering of blessing if for no other reason that the willingness to put one's self out there time and time again. and so i wait and ponder what has happened to bring this beautiful moment of waiting...it's the adventure of a present before you rip off the wrapping paper or that feeling just before the cute man kisses you. i get to sit in the wonder before the conferment.

Friday, February 25, 2011

vision...or rather the trouble with it..(NFTPL#36)


tonight's got me thinking of the perils of vision and having vision. maybe in part because the commentary on revelation i am reading for my final exegesis is comparing john's experience in revelation to the trance like state of "altered states of consciousness" which is very amusing to think of. also i had a conversation with my dear best friend and roommate about the hardness of waiting in vision with out anything tangible to connect you to that vision, in essence the act of faith. which has led me to ponder the fact that being one is sees or is given vision is very very challenging. at the core it means being called to live in the presence to an alternative reality which very few others can imagine or see. yet i know from having studied and lived with people who cast dreams and visions that the pain of waiting for that vision to come to fruition is difficult the birthing of it is incredible.

i find that in spite of how all over the map i feel about things in life i desire to have vision and dreams leading to a greater understanding of life and love and God. my secret heart's desires in a way become my own version of visions...the things that are used to get me out of my self doubt and fear and ask me to wait in the unknown. these dreams call me to stop and learn the practice of creation to spend the time needed to build daily creation as a vital element of my livedness. what i learn now is that each day is a step towards becoming the woman and creator i want so badly to be.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

beauty (NFTPL #35)

so i read a lot of plus size fashion blogs...mostly because seeing other non-small and vivacious women living their lives and showing off their fashion sense helps me to be able to love my body more. tonight looking at one of these blogs fills me with so much hope and strength, seeing someone else flourishing is so encouraging. the more and more i grow in myself the more i want to embody and embrace my self and life for the great beauty and goodness that it is. we as women are so often told how we should hate ourselves instead of love ourselves...i do this all the time. we have this ability to see the beauty and loveliness in everyone around us but have a block when we look at ourselves in the mirror...it is then that we see only ugliness and things that "need" to be changed. self hatred is a horrible way to live it binds you and keeps you from the truth of who you are. i find that i want to be connected to my self and grow into the woman i was created to be.

realizations and new understandings (NFTPL #34)

over the last few weeks realizations and thoughts have been flowing though my heart and mind. many of these have to do with my life and what i want it to be about, specifically in regard to relationship and life rhythm. at my age marriage and having children starts to become a one of those things that weights and eats at your heart. what i am finding for me is that those things that i think i want or rather expected i would just have may not be the things i want. it's not that i don't want to get married or have children but that i realize i would rather not have those things than have them with the wrong person. that is a path i have watched to many people i love take. the longer i travel on my own journey the more implausible it feels that i will find someone who can partner with me in this journey. i find my self asking if there is really someone out there who can live this life, who is journeying on a path to faith, and can see me in a the way i can't often see my self?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

(NFTPL #33)

can't seem to focus these last few days which sucks when i have so much work to do in the next three weeks before the quarter is over. yet nothing seems to connect or stick in my mind. i find the more i study faith and learn about the background of faith the more i question what i really believe and how i can claim these things as truth. in the midst of this personal questioning comes what seems like the beginning of the end on a global scale (or at least horrific moments)....something i have been terrified of since childhood. these rumblings and threats of war and damnation make it hard to find space to think about life or movement or even questioning...rather i find myself questioning the point of doing anything. once again i wrestle with the belief that God is both good and seemingly sadistic. how and why are constantly on my heart and hope begins to feel strangled by fear and doubt and depression. but when i come up through the thrashing waves my prayers are filled with calls for staidness and miraculous interactions personally and globally. please please please falls from my lips in a consistant flow of calling and begging. maybe it's the fatalism of having had your world shattered...often i catch my self waiting for the next shoe to drop even though i want more than anything for it not to.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

it always comes back to power (NFTPL #32)

i can feel the blood beginning to boil and anger growing as we sit in class listening and talking about the bullshit reasons why, mostly men don't allow women to be in leadership. it hurts to be told that it's just a little thing to be able to use gifting...it's the those in power justifiying their power in a means that doesn't allow for any discention. and again like usual even though i am now 1000 miles away from seattle mark driscoll and mars hill church still comes up. it's funny because while so much of the class is shocked and appalled by the statements made i am wounded but expect these shocking statements...it is views like this that make me want to run to artist communities to jump ship. i can't handle these dialogues the pain is so great i want to create images that challenge these assumption but outside of the spaces where these battles are happening.

yet my desire to challenge power structures also moved beyond gender conversations in the church...it moves to places like the middle east and lybia where people are being executed by their government...to institutions that silence and harm the people they are called to serve. seeing photos of people being harmed and literally torn apart by bullets i feel overwhelmed by the weight of power. is the greatest aspect of harm and the root of sin our never ending will to power and the damages that is inflicted upon others because of will to power? i don't want to suffer and i don't want others to suffer be it emotional, spiritual, mental or physically...i want shalom for all the grace and wonder of living onto the whole of who you were created to be and yet the kingdom hasn't come in fullness and therefore things are broken really really broken.

Monday, February 21, 2011

(NFTPL #31)

breathing deeply i am reminded to be still and listen...something i have forgotten to take time to do since i got back from las vegas. so many things have been pushing their way up clamoring to be given audience since the trip. sending off the video treatment and seeing one of my favorite bands play twice last week became the catalyst to naming one of my deepest heart's longings. for years i have given lip service to the fact that i want to be an artist but i was too bound by circumstances and fear to step towards that desire in a real and concrete way. ever since i moved to los angeles opportunities and participation in creative process has just fallen into my lap. tonight my friend beth said that's because i am in the space where i am called to be and flourish. i think she's right. over the last few weeks i have found my self wrestling pretty heavily with what does it mean to create and live in the specific artistic rhythm?

for one this means that i will end up with a master of art and theology not a master of divinity. i could stay and get this degree but when i think about who and what i want to be in my life it is just me being stubborn by staying in this path. it also means that i make creativity central to my day to day life. much like exercise for the physically body which i am also trying to do, i need to exercise my artistic ability. writing, painting, sculpting, what have you is a vital part of my emotional, spiritual, and mental stability. jumping off the cliff is both a beautiful and scary step of faith. it is the call to wait for answers and live in the tension of not having them...to learn that painting and creating open up space for me to let go of chaos. the act of creation quells some of the demons and ghosts that often yell at me. i find that i am learning about what is truly my own desires and wants...not clouded by the expectations of others.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sin City (NFTPL #30)

I flew into Las Vegas last night after a trying week and trying day. It was such an interesting experience...I have never been here previously. From the sky above the city looks like a series of glittering jewels...shining in the sea of darkness. My first impression of the city is that it is a place filled with people trying to mask who they really are and rout with the ideology of instant gratification. Everything is accessible and possible and there is a profound sadness at the root of unending freedom because we forget that everything has a cost. The cost of life here in Vegas is written on everything...what would be provocative and challenging in any other environment, here becomes blase because five other store fronts down the street are offering what you have. The city is an insomniacs waking dream where everything has a sense of the surreal and unnatural. What strikes me the most is the casinos and bars here... people are draped in a zombie like effect or the visage of an addict completely numb to their setting. I don't understand the compelling nature of gambling maybe that's because I have been so broke for so long that money wasted is a heart breaking reality. Maybe I just choose to gamble on things I feel have a better return, like relationships and art and faith and creativity. Like my reason for coming here was to see one of my favorite bands play three free shows...that is something I am willing to risk and gamble on...

They were lovely, the band I mean, after the last show we got to chat with a lot of people and everyone had such nice things to say about them. Yet even in seeing them play, and they are one of the three or four bands that I will go absolutely out of my way to see play when ever I can, there was a sense of the surreal because the set up of the venue placed a bar between the stage and the audience. In addition there was the constant sound of the casino in the background. It's a good venue for a chill jazz band or someone playing an acoustic set but rather frustrating to see a band that is so engaging and multi-layered. Really they are a band that needs to be in a space that allows them to be the focal point...not background.

I also found that Vegas is place that really screws with one's head...I can't even begin to explain how many women I saw who were just sadly dressed in next to nothing...and I'm not talking about showgirls. No these were people who were patrons gambling and trying to get attention from whomever would give it. That mentality totally depressed me to no end...I can/don't do harems of any sort I can't stand to be associated with a gaggle of women throwing themselves at men...not only does my feminist leanings start screaming about the bullshit crap that happens because of women being subsequently objectified and subjectified but on a personal level it just makes me want to eliminate any desire or need I have for sex and relationships if this is what it is. I can't stomach that belief that we women are here to serve men either as sexual robots or servants in other forms. All of the negative voices in my head about what men really want and how inadequate and unwanted I am came raging up. Once again I found myself in a space of self hatred and chaos. For a city that sells sex it's incredible how much is being offered for free.

In the end I am so grateful to see two free shows of one of my favorite bands with my best friend, for the chance to get out of dodge for a few days, and for the lovely trip with two incredible women. As for the town it's not somewhere I would really want to spend a ton of time in...that is unless I randomly decide to run off and get married in the middle of the night.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

reversing the lies we hold only for ourselves (NFTPL #29)


I was told yesterday by a wise friend that our self hatred/insecurity is another form of self centeredness that gets in the way of our needed action in the world. What she meant by this was that we are all called to a unique and beautiful path that is our own, made for you just as you are right now in the skin and knowledge and talent and passion and desire you carry. That youness is enough for God to create such incredibleness out if we listen and live into that particularity. It is when we try to conform to the path of another or the look, weight, talent, image of another person that we fall off of our path and become disheartened. YOU and I are just as beautiful, wanted, talented, gifted now as if whatever our idealized dream self....the only "real"difference? Self acceptance, trust and learning who you are and how you best function in the world.

This is one of the lessons I am learning being here in Los Angeles...how to love myself as I am and let that confidence of knowing who I am, what I offer and how I specifically am called to function in this world. You see I have this magically ability to "hide" in a crowd...to suddenly make my self absent while still remaining in the room. I've been told it's like a bright light going out. Yet while this was a needed skill as a child...it has greatly hindered me from being myself as an adult. Instead of learning how to lead and becoming more comfortable with myself as a woman, leader, artist, and especially as a sexual being I hid away. In hiding I became bound in a need for control and care taking binding up the wild and bold woman I am with fear. I think so much of my insecurity is fettered by fear of being made fun of, exposer, shamed, and looking stupid. Instead of living as I was created, by engaging and reveling in the beauty and heart ache of life, I keep myself at a distance as the observer. Slowly I am taking steps into the waters of engagement and maybe some day soon I will take the plunge and jump right in released from fears.

My heart so desperately want all beauty, people, and life to get what it means to see broadly and wonderfully how diversity is filled with treasures for anyone willing to see the deeper truth. I want all of us to stop hating ourselves our pasts or whatever it is that keeps us from entering into all that we have been created for.

Friday, February 11, 2011

burning... (NFTPL #28)

Today was a lovely day filled with beauty, chaos, risk and great conversation...and the typical los angeles friday night traffic. It started with a two hour planning/hashing session of a project proposal with my best friend and ended with me doing something I hadn't done in over a year...smoking.

It's interesting how something can be the final stress that pushed you back into a familiar comfort pattern. I wonder if I wasn't on the food plan that I am on if instead of a cigarette my solace would have been in chocolate or cheese. But it wasn't it was in my smoking a quarter of a cigarette, something that for me previously was so much a part of my connection in relationships and grad school. Ever since I was in high school smoking has been one of those things that says 1. "see not the perfect little good girl" 2. let's chat. For whatever reason it became a way for me to prove my non conformist element and also create space for conversation with people. Toward the middle of college it also became that space where I could run away and have a few minutes to process life because the act of smoking is in an odd way like breathing exercises or mediation. It is a visceral and tangible thing that forces you to focus, breathe, and slow down. Often through out the course of my last graduate program when I was having trouble in a paper I would step outside and have a cigarette...it was that distance that allowed me to clear my head and think. About two years ago I started to get nauseated when I would have more than half a cigarette...and last january 2010 was the last time I smoked. By that time I had pretty much quit anyway, what had been different is that at that point I really didn't want to smoke at all.

Really I haven't had any desire to smoke over the last year until about three weeks ago where something happened and I was so emotionally over whelmed that all I could think of was "I want to smoke" but I didn't. Enter this week, between monday and wednesday I had four papers due, also a project that Shiloh and I have been working on since October became solid and real, and I was hit with relational chaos. With each new thing mounting on the next I hit the threshold this evening. As I was paying for gas I bought a pack of cigarettes. After dropping off my friend I pulled one out and light it. The first three puffs were incredible and smooth and weightless (most likely because I had gotten ultra lights)...it was like kissing a old lover. When I hit the freeway I looked down and realized that I was only a sixth of the way into the cigarette, with that realization I was reminded of smoking pre-high school. I was a very broken and depressed "good girl" who hated herself. I remember sitting in my bathroom windows open, shower running, incense burning willing myself to smoke a whole cigarette. It was like cutting or not eating for a day. Something that felt good because it was harmful and gave me the control I didn't feel I had. Plus it made me feel beautiful and dangerous and risky. I am and always have been wild and adventurous by nature but something very early made me fear and doubt that nature....instead I became practical and fearful. I constantly have had to battle those two opposite pulls.

Tonight, in part because of the sweet and beautiful curiosity of a friend, I realized that in faith and many other aspects of my life I have felt that I wasn't able to really have a choice. That lack of choice explains so many of the battles I fight in my heart and soul...why dating relationships are hard to come by and the guilt I feel about so many choices which really should be mine alone. I think it also helps me to understand the pull to smoking and the fear I have around commitments, especially commitment to God. I want freedom and it has been ingrained in me that freedom outside of a certain box is to be feared. That being said I do think that totally freedom cannot happen because we don't live in a bubble and complete freedom can easily result in harm to another. But what I am talking about is the freedom to really test belief and life and the capacity for God's love and redemption. Is it ok to fuck up and fail and make foolish choices...is redemption and grace what I give lip service to or are they the tightly bound box I am internally shoving myself into? These are the questions I am left with tonight...I am reminded of Luther's words "If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong (sin boldly), but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign."

Sunday, February 06, 2011

insanity= life (NFTPL #27)


today in church i was called to insanity. seriously our pastor called those of us who were willing to live a life marked by the wildness of God which might be perceived by others as insanity, we even got these really cool leather bracelets! (a little hipster but also uber cool). one of the better quotes of the morning was "I gave m life to God and he drove me crazy" but as he quantified it, that good crazy. while listening to Edwin speak i could feel all the impossible and insane dreams welling up in my soul. old and new hopes and nudges clawing to the light of the surface all shouting "see it can happen...see we can be true".

i am someone who has grown up around wild and impossible stories of things that have come true in spite of how in probable they are, the by product of having many family and friends who are missionaries i guess. i don't remember a time when my life was not somehow permeated with tales of God's wonder and magical provision (for sometimes even as an adult God's showing up looks like magic appearing out of thin air). one set of godparents giving away all the food they had to others in need only to have a bag of groceries appear at the doorstep twenty minutes later. my aunt and uncle being able to get across the border of warring african nations in part because of a batch of chocolate chip cookies, or a family friend from Ethiopian being shot at and having bullet holes in his clothing but not a scratch on his body. i believe that God does incredible things...to and for others. and that is the problem like love and relationships, i hold great hope and faith for their appearance in the lives of those around me but become skeptical and weary of their finding action in my own life. i want miracles i just don't know if it's possible. which is how i come back to this morning...ever since i decided to move to portland last january as a means to get to los angeles God has been making clear paths in a way that has never happened before, things are unrolling in my life that i could not have imagined. this morning as i heard the calling i finally found my heart able to let go of fear enough to say i want this...i want impossible possibilities to flood my life. today i choose to step out in risk and faith to follow the white rabbit down the hole in the believe that there are battles that need to be fought on behalf of others, there are stories that need to be told, and there is beauty hidden that needs to be revealed for the sake of love, Christ and positive change in the world. i want to live my life as one filled to the brim with unexpected wonder and passion...even insanity which allows grace and love and mercy to permeate my life spilling into and on the lives of others.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

taking down the "flagel" sign (NFTPL#26)

tonight i listened to a talk on the need for vonerablity...something that i have a hard time being with most people. sure there is a small cars worth of reasons why i don't like to expose myself to others in that way but mostly it boils down to fear and shame. being not a small woman i have spent a lifetime trying to void situations that would heighten my fear of being shamed. for example i over think everything i wear and at times don't wear things i love because of my fear that i will be shamed for wearing something that is sexy or emphasis' the curves i have...so instead i play it safe. it also means that by being bound up in trying to do everything just so that i squelch my emotions...having also the lovely need to be tough and not cry which really doesn't work so well, at least when i was in my last graduate program. what that meant was everytime i had to read or share something that connected to my heart, almost everything because i feel deeply under all the control, i would start crying the minute i opened my mouth to speak. in those moments while i was embaressed for crying so much i was actually serving myself because i was being honest with how i truly felt...just like currently i am a bit mad at someone but instead of pushing down the anger i am allowing it to sit there and it is slowly disapaiting. but the best part was that by allowing my self the vonerablity even to myself to feel it helped me realize where the emotion came from and that it was tied to something more core...shame and fear of my desire being exposed only to be rejected. which while it sounds bad is really quite a great thing. i feel like inspite of the hurt if given the chance i will risk again and be open even to someone who unintentionally hurt my feelings, instead of my usual mo which is to through up a defensive "don't f**k" with me sign acompanied by a lovely "piss off" i don't need this sign. all and all i think i am growing.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

a wild choice...


two weeks from tonight one of my favorite bands is playing a two free shows in Las Vegas...and a huge part of me wants to blow off class hop a plane and go to see them play only to turn around go back to the airport and fly back home at 6am the next morning to be back in time for work and school. i have already checked and i can get a flight there and back for super cheap round trip. now the question remains should i? reason says that it would not be a good idea, time or money wise, a waste but experience says that it would be a once in a life time thing and it would push me out of my security in a very good way. i have spent most of my life making wise (sometimes un wise but always in a responsible context) choices. when offered the chance to audition for the second national tour of rent in college I choose to go to class instead. when i had a broken foot and ani difranco tickets i choose to go to the doctors and rest, instead of still attempting to go to the show. very rarely in my life have i chosen to risk doing something wild, crazy and spontainous.

In college I was the one who took care of everyone and would stay with in my drinking limit so I could drive all my drunk friends home a theme that continued on through out my last graduate program and life. So often I choose the "caretaker" role to the detrament of my being able to be my self and expereinces. so i am/was left with a choice to move beyond what i think i should do and take a risk if only to go to a new city and experience that for the sake of my best friend's birthday and seeing a great band. yet in reality the choice isn't even about shiloh's birthday or flying to vegas or free BRMC shows it is about me. i only get this one life to create beauty and offer love, and while making a wild choice could seem like the oppose of those things if i spend my life choosing not to be open and risk then all the life i have is just wasted. what have i to offer others of living in regard to living in the beauty of wild love and extragagant grace if i have not risked and failed and been lavish with my own life. and sometime that choice leads to three days in las vegas...which is what i have chosen