Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Story

I cannot tell you how much I love hearing people’s stories, hearing where they come from, what their world looked like and felt like growing up, and learning about little and big experiences that have shaped who they have become.

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am
-Brandi Carlile

I truly love it. I could listen to people tell stories all day. It’s such a privilege to glimpse into that part of someone; especially since a lot of life stuff doesn’t come up in daily conversation or maybe it’s too long of a story or too dark of a story to share. Every other week at our home community through Imago Dei Community, one or two people will share their life story, their testimony with everyone in our community, as a way to go deeper with each other and to see how God has shown up in the midst of the joy and the pain. I just love the image of a group of believers sitting in a room with the sole intent of knowing each other and knowing God more. To sit in the presence of another person’s life story, all the beauty, messiness, brokenness, and soul-I just eat it up.

What I love most is that I believe in each of our stories, we recognize pieces of ourselves in each other. We recognize ourselves in the experiences of others, the feelings of others, and the brokenness of others. One of my favorite Over the Rhine lyrics is "pain is our mother, she helps us recognize each other". Our stories connect us in ways that we might never have imagined. I’ve seen how the sharing of stories in our home community has encouraged more boldness, realness and an uncovering of what has been kept hidden and how in this sharing people are growing and learning; learning that they are not alone and they never have been, alone. I have been getting goose bumps a lot lately and surprisingly, not because I am cold. When I hear something incredible or see how certain life pieces just fit in my own life and in the lives of others, it’s as if my body is telling me to


Take notice of this.

And so I do.

And in that moment of recognition, my faith deepens as I remember that our lives are only a small part of a much greater story being crafted and I know the one who created it all and He is good.

My dear friend Courtney posted this as a facebook status and I’ve been marinating on it all week.

He said, "Why don't you spend your day floating down this river with me?" and I said, "Well that would be GREAT, but do you know where it goes?" and He said, "Yeah I know the way....I created it."

Monday, June 22, 2009

what's next..? enjoy today..

It’s a bit surreal, the whole being done with school. Of course everyone’s question is “…what next?!” ha. If only I knew... That was the easy part when I graduated from the U of W; I knew I wanted to go into social work and so I could forecast grad school in the future and it was great to be able to tell people my plan. Oh, and my parents are all about “the plan”…everyone must have a plan and not just one plan, but two or three as back-ups. I’ve tried to function around plans, I have, but that’s just not how I roll. My plans consist of not having a plan.

I’m a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl and I kind of like that.

So…with that being said…here I am, graduated and done. At the moment, I am content in taking some much needed down time; to hang out with friends, to take walks, to tote my camera around, to ride my bike, to sleep-It’s been wonderful.

I’ve been mulling some thoughts around to write about but that will come later I guess. I thought I’d throw in some pictures of my last week or so since I’ve been taking my camera with me everywhere.

After graduation = happiness

my favorite ladies and boys came down to ptown!

Fro Yo..or frozen yogurt with good peeps

when I have time to look around on my walks through the neighborhood, i see the coolest things, yeah positive propaganda!

found these cute little birdies on my friend leisha's houseboat in Scapoose, OR

the houseboat. i could so live here.

perfect Sunday afternoon.

forever a cheese.

there was fishing, but not by me

seriously, water feeds my soul.

the new bike, isn't she pretty in that golden sun?

I've been exploring Portland, via bike and loving it!

i pretty much love trains, tracks, sun and portland

shadow trees

my absolute favorite time of day

the view from a bike is the best

this makes me feel like i live out in the country, i like that.

i was born to explore. i'm a happy girl

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

i am my father's daughter

(whoa, haven't blogged in while! it's been a little wild with GRADUATING, hooray!!...but get ready for a lot more writing because i've got some tiiiiiiime...)

I’ve been thinking about my Dad lately. Maybe it’s Father’s day coming up or maybe it’s just that I have a lot of time on my hands now.

I was having breakfast with my dad and step-mom not too long ago on the island. Visits with my dad are few and far between, they always have been. But still we both try and make time for that relationship and try and restore what’s been missing all along. I was thinking back to that breakfast and how we are more alike than I know.

The server walked over and made some pleasant conversation about the weather and tides. She turned to take our order, my step-mom abruptly ordered a long and complicated meal with substitutions and specific requests, hardly making eye contact and with a bit of a huff. The young server, clearly overwhelmed and visually nervous about what order may follow next looked my way. She was a sweet girl and throughout my step-mom’s order, I was trying to decide what to compliment her on, she had a great necklace, boots and haircut. I told her I couldn’t hold in a compliment that I loved her antique necklace, cowboy boots and cute haircut. She smiled big and accepted gracefully. I ordered French toast and coffee. She let out a breath of relief and looked to my dad, “Canyon Combo with coffee, please.” She smiled big and turned away. My dad looked at me and says loud enough for the server to hear on her walk to the kitchen, “She was a very sweet girl. I think we lucked out and got the nicest server that works here.”

…once our food arrived, I noticed my dad pouring generous amounts of syrup over his pancakes, bacon and eggs and I smiled. My step-mom was quick to comment on how absurd this was and who would put syrup over everything on their plate? I smiled, recalling to myself my secret love of syrup on both eggs and bacon.

At times I feel like I know strangers on the street better than my dad, which breaks my heart a little, but there are other times, like at breakfast when the littlest things will remind me that I am his daughter; our mutual love of syrup, uncomplicated orders, and kindness to those that serve us. They are small things, I know, but at the time and even now, it’s those little things that my dad and I have in common that mean the world to me.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Frederick Buechner

Everything this man writes is brilliant.

"But I talk about my life anyway because if, on the one hand, hardly anything could be less important, on the other hand, hardly anything could be more important. My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours. Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I, of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories in all their particularity...that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally. If this is true, it means that to lose track of our stories is to be profoundly impoverished not only humanly but also spiritually."

“One life on this earth is all that we get, whether it is enough or not enough, and the obvious conclusion would seem to be that at the very least we are fools if we do not live it as fully and bravely and beautifully as we can.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

trust that something will grow from nothing

Two posts in one day, can you tell my workload is dwindling? Or maybe it’s my procrastination that has taken on all new levels as I just have one more paper left…anyhow, I was searching through old emails for quotes, because I often send quotes to myself so I can remember them later. I came upon an old email I had written to my friend Emily in Colorado. My roommate Mel had just moved back to Seattle and I had just moved into my studio and I was feeling the loneliness of starting anew. I had spent most of my energies maintaining friendships in Seattle or with friends across the states and with my roommate, that I had not formed a community in Portland. I wrote about how hard it is to have no community or to experience glimpses of it here and there as friends would visit only to be left wanting more. What stuck out in the email was this, “It's so hard to trust that something will grow from nothing”.

I stopped as I read that again. Something has grown from nothing. An amazing community has grown from nothing. I had felt so far out in the desert, so far from community and so far from people that know me. Fast forward. To open my eyes now and feel so supported and encouraged by the people around me, to find a community that bears one another’s burdens, that is open and honest with their struggles, that loves in all circumstances- I am just blown away. How did this happen? It reminds me of the movie Under The Tuscan Sun…this woman dreamt that she was wandering all over the countryside in a desperate search for ladybugs. She looked everywhere with no luck. She grew tired in her search and fell asleep in a meadow. And when she woke up, she was covered in ladybugs. This is how I feel. I tried to find community, I looked and looked and just couldn’t find it. And then it seems, that just out of the blue, community fell into my lap and I am surrounded by such amazing people and they truly bless me in so many ways. There is so much to be thankful for.

God is so good.

If you’re wondering what quote I was looking for in the email, here it is.
“The dominant characteristic of an authentic spiritual life is the gratitude that flows from trust—not only for all the gifts that I receive from God, but gratitude for all the suffering. Because in that purifying experience, suffering has often been the shortest path to intimacy with God".
–Brennan Manning

blessed to be a witness

It’s been one of those weeks where things seem to be falling apart around me. The circumstances that my friends, clients, and co-workers are facing make me sigh over and over again. What does one DO in the face of adultery, the loss of the child, the loss of a job, illness that knocks you out, stress fractures, or life-changing decisions that need to be made yesterday? These circumstances, they are heavy. And they are done; there is nothing that can be done to change the situation. But I am recalling a bit of wisdom a friend picked up at an Imago Dei Community conference. She imparted a lot of words, tips and pearls but these are the words that stuck, “How we respond is our responsibility”. There was context surrounding this, but of course, I lost that bit along the way…

We may not be able to control the circumstances and what has already happened, but we can control how we respond. This part is completely up to us. One’s true character comes out when they encounter crisis. It’s hard to sugarcoat anything or pretend that everything is fine when the world is crumbling around you. It is too much energy to hold a mask to your face and to keep your walls built high. What’s left is genuine, real and raw. I feel so privileged to witness and be with people in this state. I am continually awed by the sheer resilience of the people with whom I surround myself.

They have been vulnerable and humble in these circumstances, asking for help when they need it, which let’s be honest, asking for help is no easy task in our society that calls for independence and "doing it all". They have been open to change and shifting tides. They have looked for and found God in the midst of it all, when they could so easily declare His absence or disbelief. They are weary but they keep moving; they survive. They are brave. They have embraced the unknown and they remain hopeful. They have responded with such grace and humility and continually inspire me. I am blessed to be a witness.