Dear Kacie. and Jana. and Naomi. and Robb. and Twaan. and Daniel.

Do you have this issue?

lately, I have been kind of okay with being state side. Last night I had a great evening with some newfound friends. And tonight I am going to a game night with some other people from church. Last night I had a great conversation with this guy named Mike and another with Tim, and even Holly. Last Sunday I chatted with Jason over lunch with the set up/tear down crew and loved it. I have friends, all of a sudden. And I have a job that is bearable even if I’m not in love with it.

I could almost see myself living here for a long time. Moving into a tiny, run down apartment with crazy neighbours and having dinner parties. Baking for everyone in the building and raising kids in not enough space. Driving a stick shift on well paved highways, not worrying about riots and bombings. I could work with the dying church so full of politics it can’t see it’s way in the broad daylight. Living cheaply and giving lavishly.

But I also want to live so far away from here. In the highlands, doing the wash in the icy streams with the other village women. Hiding behind a dupatta and feeling the swish of the shalwar qameez as it blows in the wind. I want to drive on rocky hills, staring down into the deep chasms of mountains as we careen around corners, without wearing seatbelts, listening to the chatter of the drivers. And I want to hold the hands of gap toothed children, smell pig roasting and watch the blood of the carcass run down the uneven stones of the village center while the men crouch and jabber about the roast.

It’s this awkward tension. Not knowing what I want, or where to go.

What am I supposed to do? Wait until there’s a burning bush down the road? Stay and assume that this is it? This is it? But please, God, don’t let this be it. Should I finish my application? Pack up and move to Manila? Take a step and just hope that this is where it could be, at least for a little while?

Do you have this funny pull in such opposing directions?

Do you know what to do?

Because I don’t.

Friday. Seminary. People. Finally.

I have this new friend from my church named Holly, and she is a sweet girl that is basically cute as a button. She invited me to come and hang out with her and some friends at Denver Seminary tnoight, and since I have been struggling to create a social life I basically jumped on the opportunity. Lots of people leading a life of which I will be severely jealous? I am THERE!

So I walked into the apartment tonight to face a waiting circle of people who looked like they were straight out of SPU. John with his hoody and red face from too much unregulated heat in the small space; Angie wearing a hoodie and jacket over top of it looked like she belonged at Camp Casey; other John in a zip up that could have been Ashton’s hall sweat shirt one year; Mike with his floppy hair and few days scruff; and Tim who should have been from Geneva and one of my brother’s friends from high school based simply on his long sleeve tshirt that fit just right and worn out blue jeans–somehow it reminded me of Illinios. (and what? He went to Taylor. I know my stereotypes)

We talked about a lot of things, my work, their studies, our lives, thoughts for the future. Mike asked me about God stuff and that almost started to go south, while Tim was leaning in and [other] John was looking supremely interested and Holly looked as keen as ever in her pearl necklace and big curious eyes. Mike, Mike. I know you’re an MDiv. But do you know what you’re getting yourself into? I tried to skirt the questions, tried to dance around the issues. I used words like “Calvinism” and phrases like “drawing close.” He mentioned “asking” and “seeking” and he sounded like Keeleh in my dorm room sophomore year before we went for Ethiopian, lecturing me that I do not have because I do not ask.

But even while we charted the uneasy waters around personal relationships with God and the questions of theology, and I’m sure my face was flushed with more than just the heat, Mike knew and he kept pushing. And Tim kept leaning forward. I almost snapped and went right into it. Do you want to know about the last few years of my life Mike Clancy? We’ve only just met, but if you’re going down this road, do you want to see where it ends? Do you want to know the hurt I’ve caused and the pain I’ve experienced? Do you really want to know why I struggle with head knowledge? Because it’s hard to open up when you’re just tired of being hurt over and over. It’s so much safer to read Tozer, to podcast Chandler, to listen to Aaron, to take notes and memorize and never open up the locked up cage within my bosom.

But then people came in to join us and the room was abuzz with a burst of activity. I met a dozen people, I was laughing, I was eating pizza and listening to the boys sing along with Tim McGraw and talk about noise complaints. I was tasting Tim’s beer and scrapping salt from the bottom of the popcorn bowl. I was standing and sitting. I talked with Tim about shooting and guns and how desperately I want to try it. I told Ben about work, about being treated like a subhuman but loving my team.

But all that time, there was Mike, laughing and talking with everyone. He kept tossing his head to the side to get the hair out of his eyes which reminds me of Caleb and makes me feel like we are friends already. And there was Tim who has a great heart and this after only spending one evening with him. And Ben, with his skinnier jeans, the tshirt and cordorouy jacket with the brown leather-pointy toed shoes looked like he was from Seattle and I could have hugged him. And they seemed to actually want to know me. I mean, really. I was invited on a road trip, and Tim said he thinks I’m in a great place and Mike said to come back any time.

And I drove home to the sound of Keith Urban’s Kiss A Girl and then Free Falling.

Can life get better?

Friends. Jesus. You are way too good. We’ll work this all out.

God of Earthquakes and Stability

Last week there was an earthquake in Haiti that is still causing untold devastation. I have a friend who is down there doing relief work, he went over from the Dominican to help repair pipelines and work in some kind of a pharmacy to get supplies out. Every report is full of heart wrenching news–even the good ones about orpans finding families in the US has the painful reality that they shouldn’t be orphans in the first place.

Last week at my “city group” (a small group at my church) we talked briefly about the earthquake; most of us, having been at work all day, had no idea what had happened. Someone mentioned that Haiti has a lot of voodoo and occultic practices. I wish I had managed to slip in the fact that many are Catholics, and many are probably YHWH worshipping brothers and sisters. Maybe if I had said something rather than maintaining my usual silence, maybe no one would have said that they deserved it.

But I didn’t say anything, and when someone said that much of Haiti is trapped in various satanic activities, someone else pounced on it and said that must be why the earthquake occurred. I laughed at first, thinking she was sarcastic; this sweet, gentle mother. But the sudden hardness on her face and the severity of her mouth was clearly not joking.

I don’t know that I said much else the rest of hte night. I did try to talk once about trusting God, and only one woman understood what I was talking about which was more than just disheartening.

All I could think about was the coldness in her voice, the uncaring stance on a tragedy that has affected Christians and lost ones alike.  If that is the God we worship, I don’t want anything to do with Him. I don’t mean to say that God doesn’t have a right to judge us. By all means, He is holy and we are anything but. And yet, there was such discompassionate coldness in the way she said that. As if God must look at it the same way and simply not care about His children being crushed by faulty buildings and sickened by malaria and cholera outbreaks. As if His heart doesn’t break over the lost, the broken and the hurting–even those who have turned to worship the enemy.

I know that He is holy and righteous. I know the Apostles Creed. I know He comes to judge the living and the dead. But I also know that He is perfect goodness, love, mercy and compassion; and that He wept over Jerusalem like a mother longing to gather the lost under His wings.

Because, after all, if He didn’t love us, why would Abba have sent Jesus to redeem us?

I don’t think we are meant to look at the earthquake in Haiti and see God’s judgment. Even if this is some kind of judgment, I think we are meant to be humbled. How am I any less of an idolater than the occultic voodoo practicing worshiper in Haiti? I deserved to be in one of those buildings as much as any of the people who died, were trapped, are living on the streets. Yeah, and so do you.

I think we are meant to be humbled, and then I think we are called to be the body of Christ, on earth, in a tangible way, and we are meant to give to the hurting, the lost and the broken. And we don’t just give the week of the event. We keep giving, in our towns, in our neighbourhoods, to the third world, to Banda Aceh where the tsunami hit five years ago, or in ten years, when Haiti will still be rebuilding. If that’s in prayer, time of service, money or in other ways as God might lead.

I don’t think that God stands over us, just waiting to devastate the world with earthquakes, tsunamis, fires and other disasters. But that’s just me.

Lazy Monday

Today is a day off, thanks to the great Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement. After talking with a friend who lives in Boston, I feel somewhat obligated to point out that there are still wide gaps between whites and blacks in America. In Boston, transportation is segretated–whites on the train, blacks on the buses–because one method is cheaper than the other and there are wage discrepencies between races. As well, there is incredible de facto segregation in terms of housing. Here in Denver, Aurora is where many African Americans reside, while Hispanics are largely concentrated on the West side near Federal and Hampden. Douglas County is full of wealthy white families in their bland suburbia and the only Hispanics we see at the bank in Parker are usually day laborers. Despite all this, I would say that America has made some decent strides in erradicating blatant discrimination. But lets not stop here.

In honur of Martin Luther King, banks and governmental agencies give their workers a holiday. I have to say, I am incredibly thankful for that today. Brian has work off tonight so he and Brandi don’t need me to watch the kids–so it’s a full day off, evening included. And what am I going to do with this freedom? Well, I got a haircut (finalmente), I have my teeth getting cleaned this afternoon, I cleaned out the car and got the oil changed, and had a lovely phone date with Sarah Bartona [la otra].

I don’t know that life can get much better! Tonight I am going to make truffles, go for a run, hopefully talk with my sweet grandmother, and do a little writing.

Also, have I mentioned it’s 50 degrees and I just sat outside while on the phone with Sarah? Yeah. I love Colorado.

also

I should very much like to apologize for a recent flurry of somewhat cryptic, cynical and depressing posts.

I am actually doing alright in Colorado.

And I don’t hate my job.

And I’m happy single.

Whirlwind Week!

(preface: I just got off the phone with Brian and I love that he always refers to Brandi on the phone as “my beautiful wife”)

Today I was supposed to be at work to open. But unfortunately neither of the two people opened had codes and keys to get in. Problem! So I had the delightful misprivilege of sleeping in and going to work at 845. I worked with Slayden again today. As we worked together in an unusually slow drive through, we had a good conversation. We talked about Solaris Invictus (I think, that was in the middle of a complicated transaction…), Mithras (again), and how last week we were both wrong about something, but both kind of right. Apparently we had some roman gods mixed up, but whew, we’ve cleared the air now! I was worried, weren’t you? It was a great time with him, but it kind of cracks me up. I mean really, he had to go home and check just to be sure about who was right, and he felt the need to tell me? I mean, I don’t care. I don’t care about half the stuff we talked about last week. I just want you to know Jesus and have a little hope. Maybe when we close together on Friday, we’ll have that conversation. Not likely, but miracles still happen!

Speaking of miracles! On Monday I picked up a car from a friend’s cousin down in Denver. It was a sketchy* area of town. I prowled around small homes searching for an address where there aren’t any streetlights by which to see the house numbers. Most cars parked on the side of roads and in alleys were run down, rusty and looking for retirement. I pulled up in front of 219, and started towards the chain link fence with half sized gate. As I pushed against the creaking gate someone called from the next door house–a man in his bathrobe with a hairy chest and bulging lower torso. Middle aged and a bit sad looking. “You going to see Ben?”

“I’m looking for Ben,” I answered, thinking I might at the wrong house, trying to find a man I’d never met.

“Great, I have a package for him, mind taking it?” asked the middle aged hairy chested man with a receding hair line. I nodded, a little wary of the strange situation but I didn’t really feel that the man looked dangerous. So I carefully opened up this gentleman’s gate and proceeded toward the open door. At least I had just talked to Ben on the phone barely 2 minutes past–in case the worst should happen. I stood as far as possible from the man and took the large package. “You have a great night,” he said in a weary voice, aware but unconcerned by my caution. “Tell Ben hi.”

So I walked into Ben’s house, run down with a huge poster of Bob Marley, sagging couches and no tv, with a package in my arms. “Yes! You can come get a car ANYTIME!” he said excitedly as he took the brown box from my arms. I heard laughing from the couch, but no one was there. It happened again and I thought the tinkling laughter sounded rather similar to Genessa–but she is in Pennsylvania and there was no one else as far as I could see. Ben was still staring at his package, absorbed in the long awaited treasure. He turned back to me after a moment with a huge smile on his bearded, cherub like face, “Genessa and Todd are on the computer, they’ll be glad you’re here. Come on in!” I popped inside, we closed the door and headed to the white mac on the couch where Genessa and Todd were grinning at me, and I was so excited I could have clapped my hands and jump for joy.

Genessa and Todd are friends from my parent’s church and from my own in highschool. They are going backpacking in Europe for 5 months. They have no need of a car in the US for five whole months. As you may have guessed, on Monday night, Ben handed me keys to a perfect white stick shift Saturn. I could have hugged him, dressed in sweats and a tshirt with week long scruff and messy hair. I could have hugged him and that little computer screen. I now have a car. For five wonderful months.

Today I went straight from WF to Brandi’s. It was a busy day, especially considering I am pretty much out of gas and had to speed my way to Brandi’s because I was let off late. On the bright side, I did balance perfectly and the kids were wonderful tonight. It’s been interesting working two jobs these last couple weeks, but it’s awesome. I like the variety–and in some ways it’s great practice in case I ever end up being a working mom (not ideal, but it could happen). God has really blessed me with these two jobs, and the third job on Sundays of working in a church nursery. He has more than met my needs and I am learning how to be grateful.

As well, I am learning how to be more okay on my own. Tye and I talked about this one week during set up. I started crying about how lonely I was (I might also add that I didn’t have much sleep the night before and this was pretty early in the morning). He gave me a big hug and said he and his wife Devonna would pray for me–but not that I would be given friends. Instead he told me he’d be praying that I learned how to lean on God and trust Him; that I would learn to be content in the midst of loneliness and friendlessness. Certainly, I am not without friends, but the loneliness of coming back to a place I desperately wanted to leave; forsaking my friends and familiar ties in Seattle; and losing a very dear and serious boyfriend; all these things have taken their toll. But I am doing so well this past week. Or perhaps, I should say, Christ is doing well within me. Or the Spirit (to be trinitarian-ly specific). And while I am still not very good at this faith and believing thing, I have more hope that He’s not finished with me yet.

*and by sketchy I mean beautiful.

Why. Does. It. Matter?

today I was asked again if I was dating someone. Actually, it went like this: “so, what’s your deal? you married? got a boyfriend?”

at which point I said no, and B nodded, “that’s good.”

What? WHAT? Why is it good that I’m single? Because you are having marriage issues? Because I’m too young to be serious about anything and probably should just be drinking and partying and having a “good” time?

and later ‘Mundo asked if I missed my ex. In some ways I was completely caught off guard and not sure how to answer. But there was a little bit of me that was angry. What does that mean Mundo? Of course I miss him, I’m not a heartless jerk who snaps people in half and moves on without blinking an eye.

I know why it’s good that I’m not dating anyone. I have some serious idolatry issues and a ridiculously stubborn heart that is heavy with stone and weighs me down in my four mile runs. I can feel it in there, beating sluggishly and arrogantly refusing to be teachable. That’s why it’s good that I’m single and lonely.

But since B, Mike, Mundo, Rachelle, and Slayden don’t have that same worldview, what good is it to them that I’m single? So that I can be more sympathetic when Rachelle talks about her flirts and desperate desire for a relationship? Because your marriage is having issues, or because your daughter’s mother isn’t interested in you, or because your girlfriend scares you when she watches TLC’s shows about brides, or because you just figure I’m far to young to know what I want or need? Is that why?

and why do people keep asking me this? Becuase we don’t know what else to talk about?

and of course, then you have Matt who told me that he expects me to have a date by the time he gets back from his vacation. See? We really can’t talk about anything else. Just God and relationships.

Why Yes, Mr. Slayden

I do know that girl you’re trying to not date but who won’t leave you alone, we went to high school together. And I’m falling on the floor laughing about it. Good lord, how’d you get mixed up with that? And after that hysterical conversation about Slayden’s non-exclusive girl friend who he’s trying (unsuccessfully) to break up with, I forgot half my buy/sells with the cash machine.

So we were at work searching for that missing buy/sell … about forty five minutes late.

And in the late afternoon, when things were a bit slow; even in the middle of the rushes, when people were nervous the money wouldn’t be credited before we switched days, Slayden and I had a great conversation. It was a bit scattered, between deposits, with drawals, phone calls down to the main branch for approval, happy customers and crabby ones, we managed to have a decent chat.

like this:

“Do you think God doesn’t approve of drinking?”

“I think that God doesn’t approve of drunkenness. And not because he’s a killjoy, but because it’s not good for us. I have a friend whose dad is an alcoholic, and it’s totally screwed up their family. I don’t think God looks at that happily and says ‘good work, have another drink,’ I think it bothers him.”

or

“Are you, you know, against all the typical things that Christians are against?”

“Um, what are those things?” Pre-marital sex had to be my favourite awkward topic to discuss with that series of questions.

or

“I think science is really important, and useful, I don’t like that Christians are so hard set against it. I mean, why can’t evolution be true? Why can’t God have created a process that ended with something reflecting his image?”

“Well, you know, we don’t know what it means to be in the image of God. It’s not like he sits up in heaven and looks like you and me, I don’t think  our physical-ness is what makes us in the image of God, you know? So, sure, I don’t have a problem with evolution. And I like science, I’m not very good at it, but I don’t mind it.”

We talked about Zoaster, the cult of Mithras, Moses, the ten plagues, the Catholic church, marriage, drinking versus being drunk, abortion, sex, my apparent naivete, and everything in between. Well, okay, not everything in between. But there were certainly a lot of things to be talked about today. It was incredible. I had no answers. I couldn’t even text Kristen and ask her to pray because just what I was afraid of happening at my job was taking place not even a week after we’d talked about it. All I could think of was sleeping at Jana’s and our conversation over breakfast while we watched the temperature drop outside amidst the snow flurries. I told her that I was nervous this would happen, I told her I was afraid of being in the states for a long time and working with suburban-ites. I said that to Jana because I knew she’d understand the sickly horror I feel when I think about staying state-side for too long. But here it was, Brett asking me questions and me wishing I had better answers than the stumbling, disjointed responses I gave to his questions. It was kind of scary.

But it was also kind of cool.

And in the car, on the way home, David Crowder’s “You are Glorious” came on. Oh my word. He does make everything glorious–like this stupid job that I don’t even like, and my stumbling, broken mouth that has no answers.

And really, I do only want to be His.

maybe someday, Slayden will too.

Here We Go Again

I am currently watching Behind Enemy Lines. It has unfortunately chased my mother from the living room. She doesn’t enjoy movies like this, especially now that my brother is in the military and was recently assigned F16s.

In a particularly gripping scene a child and most likely, her father, are walking through an abandoned factory compound. You see the father lift his legs up high as he takes one step, apparently stepping over something that we cannot see so far back. The little girl hops over the unseen barrier as her father makes sure she doesn’t stumble into what we cannot see. The marooned American pilot watches with curiosity and then, you see the realization dawn on Owen Wilson’s face. He looks down and sees a trip wire barely a few feet in front of him. The compound is wired.

What strikes me is not the fact that Owen Wilson then runs through the compound to escape his pursuers and the fact that the entire compound is exploding all around him as he can hardly avoid every single wire. What hurts me is the fact that a child was aware of that wire and knew to jump over it. No child should grow up that way.

Watching this movie makes me think of Chechnya. It’s a small, semi autonomous republic in the Russian Federation. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union it’s gone through two periods of civil war. There have been horrible atrocities o both sides, Russians storming Grozny and the Chechen guerrilla fighters who attack and then disappear into the mountains.

Things are getting better in Chechnya. Thanks to the heavy handed [and somewhat extreme] rule of Ramzan Kadyrov. Kadyrov has brought an unsettled peace to the Chechen people, although violence still occurs. Recently there an a bombing in the neighbouring republic of Ingushetia, likely carried out by some of the same rebels who have fought in two Chechen wars against Russian rule. And while towns have been bombed out, entire villages massacred and human rights ignored in countless other ways–the American public has no idea what has gone on and what continues to take place. Do you even know where Chechnya is?

Casualty estimates for the Second Chechen War range between 25,000 and 200,000. That’s a huge gap, but it just goes to show how unreliable the Russians are at recording and reporting on the chaos that has ensued within their borders. It also shows how much the information has been controlled coming out of Russia.  Of course, I think that Yeltsin made some great strides after the breakup of the USSR. At the same time, Chechnya has been kept under wraps and after Sept 11th, Putin used the excuse of fighting terrorism to continue the crackdown on Chechen freedom fighters (or rebels, depending on your persuasion).

At the same time, human rights groups jumped all over Palestine and Israel when the Second Intifadah took off in the summer of 2000. And we finally tried to bring Slobodan Milosevic to justice–but he died too soon in the Hague for that to ever be completed. Or there was Iraq where Saddam Hussein had to be taken out of power, and not only for the fact that he had committed human rights violations against his own people. Former President Bush argued on behalf o fhte United States and her allies that it was necessary to remove Hussein becuase of his supposed access to WMDs which threatened our national security. While the “Coalition of the Willing” entered Iraq in March 2003, people were still being killed and displaced in Chechnya as they had been for over a decade. But the US doesn’t hear much about the Northern Caucasus region. Why?

Because Russia is an ally of the United States, and Bush had already strained his relationship with Putin enough. There was nothing else he was going to do to threaten that political relationship. We want Russia on our side, and because of that, we are willing to turn a blind eye to the great crimes committed by both sides in the small mountainous republic that few have heard of.

_____________________

b. stephens writes an excellent article called “Our Selective Moral Outrage” comparing the anger felt by the American public against Israel versus their anger against Russia over their treatment of minorities. Wall Street Journal does it again.

No Hope Left, none but the tiniest flickering flame

I’ve been listening to lots of Anberlin lately. My awesome roommate Alicia introduced me to them ages ago, and I have always liked them but I only started listening to them consistently when I needed something to pound rythm in my ears while running. If you know anything about Anberlin, it fits the ticket quite nicely. They have this song called Foreign Langauge that has struck a chord with me recently. You can listen to it here, but be forewarned it is an alternative rock group so some of you may want to turn your speakers down. 🙂

Anyway part of the chorus goes:

Boys speak in rythm and girls speak in code

and later: You’re speaking foreign language, nothing I can dictate / you’re speaking foreign language / nothing I can translate / you’re speaking foreign language / Where did we go wrong? / We need medication for this miscommunication / where did we go wrong? / Our conversation’s weakened / conversation’s weakened

Most of you know that while at college I dated an awesome guy named Anthony. At first, everything was perfect, I mean literally, it was wonderful. Towards the end though, it was like we couldn’t communicate, and I think he was so fed up with my needy-ness that he was trying to avoid me which made communicating even more difficult. I was startled when I listened to this song and really heard the lyrics. At first I thought that Anberlin said boys speak in rythm and girls in “chords,” which was almost unsettling in its truthfulness.

My friend Ghena once told me that her husband asks her what she’s thinking on level one and then two and three. Because most guys say exactly what they want and mean the first time, and there isn’t a need for a commentary to explain what they are trying to get across. Women, on the other hand, often say no when they mean yes, I’m fine when they mean I’m falling apart, and very often there multiple layers to even the simplest statements. I know this was definitely true in my relationship with Anthony and I see now why I got so frustrated when he didn’t pursue what I really meant to say. He probably had no idea I meant something other than the specific words he heard. So when he just wanted me to say straight out what I wanted, I was skirting hte subject, expecting him to pick up clues and put the puzzle together.

Why didn’t someone say this to me sooner? Poor Anthony was hearing a foreign language and I was expecting him to figure it out. It’s ridiculous. I wish I had heard this song and been convicted sooner–maybe I wouldn’t have destroyed a person if I had seen what I was doing. And now, even when I am realizing things and seeing my sin and figuring out that it wasn’t just you, it was me to… even now there isn’t any hope. It’s all to late. Hope, like a candle is snuffed out. Not easily, of course, the wick still glows a bright smoldering orange. The wax is still hot and runny but it will harden soon enough and then, it really will be over.

So here is the only thing I can think to do anymore. A sort of public apology and a little warning to my friends who are dating. Just talk. And be a little more honest than I was. Especially girls. And guys, if she’s not communicating well, or you have no idea what you said wrong, say so. Don’t be angry, because that won’t help, but for goodness sake, tell her you need a translation. I think that most married couples I know were somehow let in on this secret, but why wasn’t I? Maybe my engaged friends have it figured out too and that’s how they made it so far. Why didn’t someone tell me this, or if they did, why didn’t they communicate it a little more poetically?–maybe then I would have clued in sooner.

Notee:

Saya sangat sangat menyesal. Aku tahu kau tidak ingin bicara dengan saya, dan itu masuk akal. Tapi aku rindu padamu. Saya berharap saya bisa mengubah keadaan, aku memikirkan Anda sepanjang waktu. Aku sangat sedih kita tidak bisa membuat segalanya berjalan. Kalau saja kita punya. Sungguh, aku lakukan.

cintamu.

boys speak in rythm, and girls just lie.