Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I love a good ending

I was up late the other night with my mind just running wild. I wanted to sleep but it was clear that wasn't going to happen anytime soon. I saw an old journal sitting on the shelf and I thought maybe I'll write for a while. Of course I got distracted and started reading old entries from a couple years ago. I'm reminded that I love journaling more for the looking back than anything else, to see how things have changed and grown. 

I just finished reading The Brothers K this week, and for as heartbreaking as the story is, it all comes together just so at the end. Authors are incredible like that. They move you from strangers of the characters to dear friends, through so much life and loss and deep sorrow and pain. I found myself yearning for redemption towards the end, for something good to come out of so much sorrow. As my fingers held those last few pages, I braced myself for the end, reading slowly and letting every word and sentence sink in. 

The way things were going had me pretty sad. Here I was getting to the end of things and my heart just ached for all the characters. I wanted something good for these characters, so much more than they had received in life. I wasn't sure how the author was going to turn things around and I doubted that he even could at times. But, you know what? He did, and ever so beautifully. In the web of story and family that he had spun and the intricate and seemingly unimportant details, he brought goodness and redemption and hope. It's like he shined a light in the dark so we could see how all those little bits and pieces fit together just perfectly so. When I read those last few pages I felt so good and pleased and grateful for the ending. Those kinds of endings are my favorite.

I so often wish for that kind of perspective. My last entry in my journal was craving that kind of light in the dark, to see if there was good that came out of my own sorrow and pain, because it sure didn't seem like it at the time. I wanted to see my life spun into something beautiful and good, to see that it doesn't end there, that God will redeem what was broken. I often think that when we die we'll get to see how everything fits together. That's my hope anyway, and that I'll let out a big long sigh of relief.

I think God, the author of our lives, does give us glimpses of our lives in the shining light, that allows us to see how he's been working in us and weaving his goodness into our broken stories, into our sin, and into our sorrow. He says he will give beauty for ashes. He will rebuild, repair and restore what was destroyed. I see that. He has given me beauty for ashes in Brian, the one whom my soul loves. I remember when my friend Kirby, who I hadn't seen in a year came into the cafe and said, "wow, you look great, you're glowing" All I did was smile, and he said, "you're in love, I can tell, what's his name?" Somewhere in that time I began to feel again and it felt like a miracle. Love was growing where I once that it never could. 

Looking back on both Brian and I's stories that have both been through times of great sadness and sorrow, I see that God has woven goodness into our stories, in the form of each other. And in that, I feel so good and pleased and grateful, much like I felt at the end of The Brothers K. Not that this is the end, there is so much more life to live and joys and sorrows ahead and it's not just my life in this story. I will wait and yearn and hope for redemption, beauty for ashes, and restoration and goodness to come out of the pain and sorrow. 
And I know it will, because I know the author and He promises that. 
And I trust Him.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

lean into the discomfort

brene brown reminds me that we social workers say, lean into the discomfort. 

what that's always meant for me was leaning into other people's discomfort. i can do that all the live long day. but lean into my discomfort. that's a whole other story. it takes being okay with not being okay. i've discovered that i'm okay with not being okay. but i don't want other people to know that, especially those closest to me. i don't want to lean into that discomfort or lean on others because that's vulnerable and scary. 

i was reminded this weekend that a trait common in my family is avoidance. conflict, guilt and shame all signal alarms inside screaming "avoid, avoid, avoid". so you can just imagine the sound of conflicts being resolved in my family,


 oh right, they aren't being resolved. i see this trait like a neon sign in some members of my family. i see the hurt that avoidance has caused my family and the ways it has affected me. and i think, oh right, I too, avoid conflict at times. i don't want my action or inaction to hurt other people the way i've been hurt. knowing this, i've been trying so hard not to run from conflict. the thing is, resolving conflict requires vulnerability which is scary. 

for me, vulnerability is wrapped in fear and sometimes all i can do is repeat an inner script until it's all okay. "don't put up your walls. don't put up your walls. don't put up your walls." it's similar to my inner-script when i'm faced with my other fear, throwing up. "don't throw up. don't throw up. don't throw up." and most of the time, in both cases, they work. it's not comfortable. it's not easy and i hope that someday it becomes second nature someday  but until then, there's always the inner script.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

These days

So...it's been a bazillion days since I've blogged anything. I was going to blog about some deeper ponderings of the heart, but i'm going to save that for another day and just ease back into blog world with some current happenings.

Life these days has been filled with much photo editing as I finish up wedding season. I do realize that wedding season has been over for a good month in portland but editing kind of drags behind, kind of like trailer taking turns every which way. I do love this one from my dear friend's Mark and Allison's wedding in september.

I love taking pictures and capturing moments for people. It's such a privilege to be a part of someone's life in that way, even if it's just for a day. I feel the same way about social work and crisis counseling. it's always been a privilege to bear witness to another's life and struggle, to walk through life with them for however long I'm able.

It's officially fall, or maybe I should say it was fall and now it's basically portland winter, with all its rain, wind, and cold. In the winter I get out of bed and it's freezing and I'm mad that I have to get out of my warm bed and angrily brush my teeth and ever so slowly wake up. Whereas, in the summer and fall, I wake up with the sun, the colors are glorious and I'm just excited about life and getting coffee. I already miss the sunshine and the fall, it sure was delicious.

I've been reading a lot more lately, blame it on the cold weather that makes me want to curl up and read and drink coffee all day long. It's been an interesting change for me. My usual approach to reading went like so: go to Powells, buy six books, start reading all six books at same time, finish one book six months later. Fail. Turns out some people (okay most people?) read just one book at a time and then finish in a timely manner. I'm trying to be one of those people. It's good to finish things, especially a good book. My favorite book of the summer was hands down The Art of Fielding. I know it's good if I start rationing my reading to make the book last longer; some characters are so hard to say goodbye to. I'm currently loving Cutting for Stone. I already love the characters so that's a good sign.

I've started running a bit, which for anyone who knows me, knows that I kind of hate running most of the time. I usually find myself running when I've had too much coffee and the energy just has to go somewhere or it's a rare beautiful fall day and I want to run in the brisk air and look at pretty trees. That was kind of the case when I went running in Colorado a couple weeks ago with my friend Mel. We ran around Wash park and it was a beautiful day, the trees were stunning and there were a lot of other runners out. I loved it (minus the altitude factor which had me fighting for breath after a 100 yards). I came back and found myself wanting to run (rare) and choosing the treadmill over other machines at the gym. The other night, the tv screen on my treadmill was broken and I just stared at my face for a half hour, which I don't generally do.. It helped for a bit though, because I pictured myself as being in a running commercial, like a Nike ad, where the girl is running for days through the countryside, the mountains, the trails, just running for-ev-er. I even had the focused face too, haha. I haven't been running very far or very long but it still feels good and the little part of me that has always wanted to love running is jumping for joy.

I'm loving the new Mumford & Sons album, Babel. I love the energy of their music and their lyrics, gah, I love their lyrics so much. I catch on the them slowly too. I'll love a song and then a week or two later realize a few of the lyrics and right then and there declare my love for the song ten more times. The song that did it for me this week was their title track, Babel. So good.

i press my nose up to the glass around your heart
i should have known i was weaker from the start
you'll build your walls 
and i will do my bloody part to tear, tear them down
and i'm gonna tear tear them down

This here blog is starting to run on and on and on, so I'll leave you here for now. 


Friday, March 30, 2012

love anyways

It’s kind of amazing to me that you can know someone your whole life, even be related to them, yet know so very little about them.

As I sit here at my laptop this evening, full of red wine and pasta, I remember that today is my dad’s birthday. Or is it so I think. Every year I second guess myself, is it the 30th or the 31st? Tonight, I took to googling my dad and finding that there is a record of my dad being 66, which would make his birthday today. Great, problem solved. I send a text shortly after wishing him a happy birthday and wonder about calling. The fact that I wonder about calling my dad on his birthday makes me so very sad. I hardly know him. He hardly knows me.

My heart sinks and I know this is not how it’s supposed to be. Family is a tighter unit, at least my definition of it is and I wonder how this piece of my family has drifted so far. I was thinking about a sermon I heard a couple weeks ago. Our pastor talked about the love of God as being a love that initiates. I have such a hard time initiating love. How will I know that my love will be returned? What if I am hurt? Those are the questions that stop me from initiating love and the very ways in which I wish I could love more like Christ loves. I guess that’s where I am for a reason and that is precisely what I am learning these days in this here rainy city. How do I love despite the great risk. It’s easy to love when I feel confident of someone’s love for me but impossibly difficult to love in a moment when I doubt or question that love. I am thrown back to the beginning. Love anyway. Trust anyway. Love because you were first loved, not by a mere human, full of flaws and imperfection and fears, but by a mighty God who knew He would be rejected by many and yet, still He loved.

Instead of hoping for a fatherly love that initiates. I want a heart that will love anyways, that will love first, even if it feels impossible.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sometimes, you just need to see the ocean

The ocean has always scared me. I love it but it scares me.

I love the water. I can’t live without it. I’ve always said, I would never live where there was no water nearby. I grew up on an island surrounded by water in the middle of the Puget Sound with coves and coastlines every which way. However, the Puget Sound never scared me*. It was a protected body of water or at least confined by cities and towns. It wasn’t unpredictable and wild like the ocean.

The ocean, I have always loved from afar, or merely from the shore, just my toes in the water. The giant waves and stories of rip tides and jelly fish always terrified me. It was all very unknown and unpredictable. Even now, the ocean scares me, but I still need it; I still crave it. I have days, fairly often too, when I wake up and I just need to see the ocean and be near it. When I can, I just jump in my car and go. I don’t know what exactly it is in me that needs to see the ocean, but seeing it up close soothes me. Maybe it’s seeing nature in all its fury and power, being reminded that this life is not mine to control and resting in a power much greater than myself.

I woke up the other morning with this quote running through my head.

“Love is tricky. It is never mundane or daily. You can never get used to it. You have to walk with it, then let it walk with you. You can never balk. It moves you like the tide. It takes you out to sea, then lays you on the beach again. Today's struggling pain is the foundation for a certain stride through the heavens. You can run from it but you can never say no. It includes everyone.” –Amy Tan

That part about being moved like the tide, being taken out to sea and laid on the beach again, that resonated with me all day. Love is just like that. I am finding parallels more and more often lately between the ocean and love and God. I love the ocean. I love God. I love love. I need those things but at the same time I fear them with all that I have in me. I can’t predict any of them. There is a power in all three that I can’t ignore and it scares me but at the same time I find comfort in knowing it is not my role to control them. Each one has the power to take me out to sea and lay me back upon the shore. Just like there are times when I need to see the ocean, there are times when I need to be loved and I there are times when I need God (which let’s be honest, is all the time).

It's not easy being moved by something more powerful than myself and it's scary. I can't predict when the tide will pull me out or lay me on the shore. Yet, I still choose it. I hope I always do.

I trust that it's building something greater in me and shaping me more into the woman I am created to be.

"A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for." Grace Murray Hopper

*Though, I will forever be terrified of the largest documented octopus in the world, which is said to live in the Puget Sound (shudder).

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Short and sweet story for you today; it made me smile anyway.

I was working at the coffee house this morning, not totally thrilled to be working, but I was hanging in there. In walks this cute old man. I have a thing for old men- they are so sweet, usually in stylish old man attire and filled with random bits of wisdom. I just eat it up. Anyway, he ordered his coffee and out of his old book, peaked a new page of stamps. I also have a thing for stamps, I love going onto the USPS website and ordering cool stamps because that just tops off a hand-written letter, making it THE coolest thing, sure to bring a smile to the recipient's face. I commented on his new stamps and my love of stamps and how cool his were. We shared our love of stamps and talked about whether it was the year of the dragon or not while we poured his coffee. He went and sat down to his table of envelopes and letters and wrote away. A little while later as he was packing up his belongings and stamped envelopes, he walks over to me and holds one stamp out to me with a big smile and says "for you!" I smiled big and questioned, "for me? really??" and he smiles even bigger and says "presies!" I probably smiled as big as I could because this cute old man was giving me one of his cool stamps AND just said the word "presies" (short for the word presents, if you're late to the word shortening game).

Oh my goodness. He made my day.
Folks, it's the little things.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

to persist in love

"And when you get down to it, Lily,
that is the only purpose grand enough for a human life.
Not just to love but to persist in love."

Could there be any truer words?

I think about this a lot. And given that it's Valentine's Day, I thought I'd write some thoughts on love. As I hear story after story of love lost or just plain given up on, I can't help but find myself heartbroken over and over again. Once that feeling of "in-loveness" is gone (and it will come and go as all feelings do) relationships are just left behind and it makes me so sad. I was talking with my best friend (of 25 years- nobigdeal) over wine last night and we talked about how one can make that feeling last, how to keep the intensity and passion. I thought for a moment that of course it can last but I only let the idealist in me believe that for a fraction of a second. Of course that intensity of "in-loveness" can't last. We'd all be crazy fools in love, surviving on 10 cups of coffee a day and bumping into things and day dreaming all day. It would be crazy to think one could sustain that intensity of feeling and emotion (any emotion for that matter) for the entirety of their lives. Ha, I mean we would never get anything done. All of our other relationships and work would suffer and we'd never sleep a wink. Just because that "in-loveness" goes away or comes and goes in waves does not mean that love is gone. Love can be very much alive and strong but in a quieter deeper sense of the word. A love rooted not just in feeling, but in trust and commitment, grace and forgiveness.

That's when choosing to persist in love comes in. When we make the decision to love not just because we feel like loving someone or because we feel especially loved in that moment, but continuing to love when it's hard to and in moments when that feeling of "in-loveness" isn't felt.

We should all strive to love, to be in love and to persist in love.
And always, always, always be grateful for it.