Thursday, June 28, 2012

Professional Pants




Express clothing store sells a style of dress pants called Editor Pants. Many years ago, I wanted a pair just because of what they were called. Unfortunately, they are made for people with hips. My hips only came in after I had two children. And barely.

I also remember once trying to pick out a new set of eye glasses according to how professional they would make me seem. Jeff and I were still dating. I turned and asked him if the sample set on my face made me look like a writer. My encouraging man smiled and said, “Of course.”

I had no confidence in my abilities as a writer. I scribbled in journals but I hid behind my glasses, too afraid to let anyone see my writing. I kept my voice from the world and tried to at least look the part. But that didn’t get me too far.

Deep down I knew I possessed a gift that I wasn’t using. I needed to produce something.

So, little by little I learned the craft of writing by reading about it. I took some classes and chased down small writing projects. After several years, I ended up with a job as an editor.

Still, I spent most days feeling like a fraud. I thought that I didn’t deserve the title after my name when I banged my head against the desk and only churned out 300 words before it was time to go home. I dashed around drinking way too much coffee and wondering if the strings of letters on the screen made any sense to anyone other than me.

What is this gift I thought I had and why couldn’t I just fit into those special pants? That would have been much easier.

Last December, I finished a large writing project. As I fumbled toward my last keystroke, I realized that I am a writer. That fact didn’t come because of what I had accomplished on paper or screen nor did it come because of what I was wearing that day. (I think it was the same pair of sweatpants I had been wearing for three days. Perseverance at all costs, people!)

I had learned who I am in the process of the writing and creating. That process is not linear, nor can it be explained to you in a book. It’s the attitude of the one in the pants. The way you live your life. It’s in the showing up and the flipping out and the victorious, slightly-queasy feeling when you hit the “publish” button on a blog.

After several months of freelancing, I’m applying for fulltime jobs again. Some days I still worry I’m a fraud. I read job descriptions and wonder if the hiring managers will look at my resume and laugh. I worry that they are the ones choosing if I’m a professional or not.

Tonight, as I was searching for jobs, I went back to the Hallmark site. I read through some of their staff bios. They asked the individuals about their creative process.

The workers gave answers like drinking caffeine, reading blogs, and freaking out before churning out something brilliant at the last minute. Huh. That sounds exactly like me!

Best part about the bios? The pictures. Almost all of them were wearing jeans.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Surrounded


Photo Courtesy of Robert J. Ruybalid

I move around the garage with ease, fulfilling drink orders and collecting money. The smell of fresh trout fills the air. Talking and laughing all around me. Someone tells a joke in Spanish but can’t exactly figure out how to translate it for the rest of us.

It doesn’t matter. We are family.

As a child, I spend a lot of time in a valley on the southern border of Colorado, the place where my grandfather was raised. There are nine siblings in his family. I don’t have to go far to find a cousin or someone else who knows my family.

“Oh, yes. You’re Ruben’s granddaughter,” they say with a smile. 


Come join us on A Beautiful Mess to read the rest....

Thursday, June 14, 2012

When God Speaks



We close our Bibles, and I slip away from the group. The creak of the door threatens to give me away.

I just have to get to the leather chair in that corner in my room. Alone. With my journal and my God.

I read over the words of Isaiah 61 again. Familiar lines I once had taped up in my cubicle. I used them to remind myself of my mission when a difficult caller came through to me. My job: to set the captive free.

That was before Rio. Before I learned how to read my Bible in a different way. Before I began to see who God is in each page, not who I need to be.

This time I pause after the first two words: The Spirit. The Forgotten God. The One who guides and counsels and speaks.

I continue, stopping at the word “anoint.” And then “preach” and “sent” and “proclaim” and “release.” So many things He does without our help. I never knew. Never saw before this day.

I scribble in my leatherbound book. Sunlight enters the room. Warm and comforting. I lean my head into the chair. Rest in that place between awake and asleep.

Then, a gentle Voice poses a quiet question, “What if you were the captive I set free?” I smile and fall asleep. Peace.

*****

I take my seat in the back pew. I’ve been so concerned with making sure I am the supportive one. The one speaking words of life and affirmation because it seems no one else is. It’s exhausting.

I finally hand it over to God, like when Kaelyn brings me her tangled ball of necklaces to fix. She’s relieved to be done with the whole thing. Someone bigger needs to have it now.

On a Thursday, I hear Him say “Stand and fight.” And then nothing. Not for days. Weeks.

I am sure He is done with us. With me. I yell about how I had finally gotten my wish. My (safe) dream of freelancing, and it's about to be taken from me. I write out my frustrations in an e-mail to a friend. An unconventional kind of prayer I’m learning to appreciate.

Later, as I drift off to sleep, there comes a gentle Voice. The Forgotten God whom I thought had forgotten me. A quiet question. “What if I have more for you?”

More? For me? I hadn’t even considered the possibility. Didn’t know I was allowed to desire or want more. For me.


"It's okay to want more," I hear.

Just like that He speaks. And with His words I find my own voice. Steady. Ready to preach and proclaim and release.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Isn't It All Warfare?



I am allergic to checklists, prescriptions, and rules for Christian living. Come to think of it, I’m not allergic to this mentality. I downright hate it with every fiber of my being.

The Bible is not a rule book. It’s a beautiful record of God’s love for His people and His plan for redemption through His Son. His Word is living and active and cuts open our hearts so that His healing can begin.

And don’t think I can’t spot when I’m being manipulated into something other than what God intended. Don’t tell me the “shoulds” and the “oughts” of your own image of what you want me to be. I will reject them. I will scream. I will run from the trappings.

Such an instance occurred in my life a couple of months ago. It wasn’t an isolated incident. It was merely the final straw in a string.

I couldn’t get to my car fast enough that day. And when the vehicle doors shut, I lost it. Crying. Screaming. I couldn’t catch my breath. How and why do we do this to each other? How can we do it to ourselves?

Later that night, I stomped around my house until my ever-patient husband suggested I contact a trusted, wise individual in my life. So I did.

The message I sent was raw. Honest. Hurting. And she received it well.

Her response dripped with gentleness and grace, a stark contrast to what I had just experienced. I set about taking her advice in all areas, some of which I had been doing just to maintain sanity. She reminded me to keep running to God, and connecting with my husband in all ways, and laughing with our girls whenever possible.

She reminded me that my struggle with not with the men of flesh and blood, but with the principalities. She encouraged me to make and keep regular time with God, and to pray for those around me, imagining them set free in the fullness of Jesus and the Spirit.

So I did. Oh, how I did. I kept opening my book of Common Prayer each morning and praying for others, just as it prompts.  She called intimacy with God “deep warfare.” Her words tucked into my heart and became a battle cry of sorts.

Paralleled with these struggles was a quickly approaching disappointment—the realization that the reason we moved to Kansas did not actually exist. Well, didn’t exist anymore. I don’t know. What I do know is that we suffered a great loss when all was said and done.

We wrestled for weeks over this situation. I prayed. Harder than I have ever prayed in my life. I read my Bible. I prayed with Jeff, late into the night. Still, it felt like we lost in the end.

I can’t describe the pain still taking place in my heart.

This is the point when I’m prone to self-destruction. I haven’t opened my Common Prayer book in over a week. I miss it. Truly I do. But I’m angry and hurting, and I don’t hear anything God is saying right now. I tend to have an “I don’t give a flipping care” attitude in this stage, which is generally hurtful to others. It’s probably better for me to just run and hide from everyone and everything.

I’ve set aside some of those wise words spoken to me because I thought they merely existed for that season of two months, with the parallel discouragements and confusion taking place.

Turns out, I’m more confused than ever right now. And lost.

And today, as I was driving around in some fields out here in west Olathe (A place I often get lost, literally. Don’t ask.), it occurred to me—isn’t it all warfare? Isn’t every day and every difficulty a fight for our hearts and our lives?

I reject checklists and rules because the Christian community in the first twenty years of my life built shame into me with these methods, whether they meant to or not, and the disappointments in my life cause me to question if God is good or even exists. But if it hadn’t been those things, it would have been something else the enemy took and twisted, as he always does.

We are in a battle. The Spirit will equip us. We can’t afford to set aside our weapons. It’s not a prescription for me to pray each day and read the worn out burgundy Bible my parents gave me when I was seventeen. It’s a necessity, an amazing privilege to pick up my tools against the enemy as a Woman Warrior of God. Jesus is on my side, if I will have the courage to let Him fight for me. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Inspiration: It's Summer!




I love summer! Maybe it’s because my birthday is in the summer or maybe it’s because I have fond memories of summertime from my childhood. Either way, it’s here, and that fact fills me with joy!

Summer Reading…

Each year, I create a yearly reading list in January and a summer reading list. For summer, I pick a memoir (preferably with an element of comedy), a classic, and something theological or spiritual formation based. 




This summer I hope to read:

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – I mentioned before that it’s the 50th anniversary of this book, so this one wins as my classic this year.

Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your Life by Lois Tverberg – I read Lois Tverberg’s (co-written with Ann Spangler) Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. Oh my word. It changed my life. I will never read the Gospels the same. For that matter, I will never read the Bible the same. I’m excited to read this follow-up.

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) – Last year I read BossyPants by Tina Fey. I often took it with me to the gym and laughed so hard I almost fell of the elliptical (If you don’t ever plan to read this book, at least pick it up to read the chapter about her honeymoon, when the cruise ship caught on fire!).

I first heard of Jenny Lawson when her post about a metal chicken she named Beyonc√© flooded the internet last year. That post still makes me laugh on any given day. (Warning: do not read if you are offended by strong language) Then, Bren√© Brown interviewed her recently. I need to remember how to laugh, and Jenny’s book seems like a perfect thing to read in this season.

A couple others I hope to get to:

My girls…

This is the first summer I am not working fulltime. I’m excited to take the girls swimming, to the park, and do some summer reading together (Kyla is starting the Boxcar Children this year. Woohoo!). They are attending Vacation Bible School this week (loved this as a kid!) and next week we will go to the Farmstead to pet animals. 

Also, Kae informed me today that she plans to be a baker, painter, and gardener when she grows up. We'll see what we can do this summer to help her develop those areas she likes.



Farmers’ Market…

As a kid, my mom took us to the Farmers’ Market in Acacia Park sometimes. I’ve been dying to get to a Farmers’ Market pretty much all of my adult life, but it has never happened. Probably mostly because of working but there were also some extreme reasons too. For instance, when I was pregnant with Kyla, I wanted to walk down to the one in Old Market in Omaha. As I stepped out my door, the tornado sirens went off. No joke. I am determined to go at least once this summer!


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What are your summer plans? What are you excited about in this season?