of pines, and sorrows, and peace

it’s been a long weekend, and today didn’t start off the week too much better.

So today, when I felt like I went through the 9 hour shift in a fog I drove down the road to the first starbucks I could find and wandered inside, barely unclipping my nametage before reaching the counter managed by a teenager with a plastic smile. I stumbled through my order, mind racing over the two options that always soothe my soul, and then settled on a soy hazelnut latte with a pumpkin scone on the side. Coffee in hand I went out the door and back to my perfect little car that I will relinquish in just over a month.

With the window cranked down and my radio just a little too loud, I went to lonely roads headed out to the country. I needed to clear my head, or maybe run through the thoughts that have been ricocheting through my brain for days. I soared past the Pinery, following a train of cars that were dusty and unscathed by the scraps kicked up on the roadside. And suddenly they went left while I went right. Curling around two lane roads and dropping down steeper hills than I would have expected, I found myself first in Franktown and then Elizabeth. I left Douglas County in my need to run, with my mother’s words ringing through my head despite Coldplay singing in surround sound that he knows Saint Peter “won’t call my name.”

This weekend was long and hard and this week doesn’t seem to be looking up. I said I wanted to go, last night I cried that I just wnated to go to Latin America, that I was going to find a flight and flee to Costa Rica. Mum shook her head in concerned dismay, “sara,” she said softly but firmly, “this running problem you have… I know sometimes, when we argue, I go for a drive, but someday, when you are married, and you have an argument, you cannot run. You have to deal with it, you can’t just up and leave.” At which point I broke into tears and she wrapped my head in her arms and cradled it to her chest.

Today I let my hand drape out the window, knowing that I could stay in fifth gear and glide through the lonely roads. I came out of the plains and into a row of pine trees that suddenly became a forest. There was a ranch with horses and an old well and suddenly there was tunnel vision between the trees, going up and over the hill. I was alone on the road, and only seeing straight forward, which suddenly seemed to help. I settled down on something, my mind stopped racing back and forth for a few brief moments. Tomorrow my meeting has been canceled and I have the whole evening to see Ghena and go to City Group. Many blessings.

I came out of the trees near a house with windows that looked like a modern day impression of the Cathedral of the Assumption. It looked out of place, sort of how I feel in this place. Up ahead, where the land flattened out I had a choice, East or West. With gravel crunching and grabbing at my slippery tires I rolled up to the stop sign in neutral and tok a moment to contemplate my options. There’s a song that says to go West… But a man in a long white pick up truck with a wide brimmed hat was coming from the East and he tipped to me and smiled. So I threw the car into first and headed away from the setting sun.

So I wandered on lonely back country roads, running over stupid choices and sad moments in life. But in the midst of it, there was this bizarre sense of peace. I was tearing up at moments, pounding the steering wheels at others, afraid and unsure how God can make all things glorious as David Crowder claims and completely understanding the complacent fear of Saint Peter’s possible rejection.

Tonight, I spent lovely hours with Salem and Sutton who both cried and both laughed, and both snuggled in my lap at some point. I drove home in the glowing night that had remained warm after the muggy afternoon of heat and no sun (which seemed to mimic and console the state of my heart). The lights of Denver shimmered hazily. With a reluctant sigh, I had to admit:

This is where I am. This is home, even though last night I begged Jesus to take me away or to come back. I don’t understand it, and I don’t always like it. But this isit. And momma was right, I can’t just run away, no matter how much easier it would be. And it’s hard and painful, but it’s good and right and I think he’s got it all under control, some way, some how.

which is a very rambling and round about way to say that it’s been a sheisty weekend, but God gives peace in all things.

Hilarious Disrespect

(as opposed to the last post, in which I talked about my renewed attempts to show respect to others…)

Today I had the lunch room all to myself, but I’d left my purse upstairs with my Bible and moleskine in it so after heating my taco, the table felt very lonely and the room seemed deathly quiet. So I reached, almost mournfully, for the remote and told myself there might be something worth watching in the middle of the day.

And thus, I was reminded of my great love for John Stewart. I also watched the Colbert Report, but that I do not enjoy as well. Steven Colbert, while amusing, relies much more on cheap (or expensive) tricks and stunts rather than the dry humour and severe wit of Stewart.

So if you don’t mind some sacrilege, and you aren’t too easily offended, I recommend the following links. It also helps if you enjoy politics and watching parties mock each other. Stewart of course, reviles everyone, it’s his job. But he has a special spot in his heart for thrashing republicans and Christians which is greatly humbling, hilarious and entirely necessary.

Here, we have a very nice piece on the financial crisis, explained quite well and ridiculed to the utmost. The saddest part is, it seems so funny, but it’s all so true. Stewart names companies like CitiGroup and Goldman Sachs who bankrupted America and throttled a global economy; and they did it with corrupt practices, lying and fraudulent accounting. It’s so funny, and yet, so sad.

And this, on healthcare, has to be posted primarily for the sake of Jude Law.

However, I would have to say, one my favourites from today was actually from Colbert: social justice and many people’s misunderstanding of it… not that I”m a proponent of the prosperity gospel or even liberation theology, but still, something to be considered.

respect

I’m not very good at giving people space, I’ve realized lately. I email or facebook someone and then obsessively check for their reply over the next several hours. It’s a problem, I know. Not only because it means I’m wearing out the refresh button on the lower right of my key board; it’s not helpful to other people in my life or even myself.

For instance: I probably don’t need to call Ghena four times in an evening. One (or even two) ought to be enough. Granted, I call Ghena because her phone is always getting lost and every time I think “maybe she”ll walk past its newest hiding place and hear it this time. Maybe this time!” And when I text someone, I don’t have to do a follow up text twenty minutes later. It turns me into an unintentional nag–and nobody wants that.

I have some close friends who need time to process in quiet solitude. They have to mull over their life in their head, roll it around to every corner of their brain and eventually they come to a conclusion whether that is expressed verbally or not. I think I overwhelmed a friend lately, talking to much, emailing or texting too frequently, etc. And I think, in his own quiet way, he said that the last time we hung out. So I decided to back off a bit.

But that is so much easier said than done.

[especially because I am selfish and so easily hurt when someone distances from me in their time usage]

And yet, it has to be done. Because the poor guy needs some respect for the way that God created him. Ghena respects me in letting me talk and ramble and get all of my thoughts out on the table. Joy loves and respects me when we go to coffee and she lets me do a majority of the talking to begin with and then she finishes off with her own verbal processing. Jana listens through facebook and email and I feebly attempt to show her love and respect by making sure I ask questions to pull out specifics on her more general conversations.

That is so much easier for me than silence. But that makes no difference, my quieter friends need space to process. They need quiet moments of independence to think about things before they can come back to me and talk with me about things. And while it’s not easy for me, it’s a necessary fact of relationships especially within the body of Christ. It’s not just giving someone space and room to breathe, it’s giving them the respect and ability to function the way that God made them.

Does that make any sense? I know this is all very vague, but I don’t know how else to say it and I am kind of looking for suggestions. I have to respect him, or this friendship won’t work. I have to let him breathe, just because that’s how God created him. And after all, he talks to me and tries to be sensitive to my desires as a friend and my needy female moments. If he’s trying to cherish my needs, I should be respecting his too.

[and Ghena and Jana and Joy’s as well]

I’m not very good at loving other people who I’m close to. And I’m not very good at letting go of control.

today I found out I have a friend who has PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder].

and I almost started bawling in my car, beside the Parker McDonald’s twenty minutes before a work meeting.

what can you do with that sort of information? how do you pray for that? how do you support someone in the midst of that?

News Flash

I’m reading through the Bible in a year. It was quite the daunting burden to take on, but a friend sort of peer pressured me into it, and now, I’m through Exodus, Mark, most of Acts and Leviticus and done with the psalms of David.

I had a conversation with Jason today about a difficult run in over the weekend that left me exasperated with the american church [again]. I was with people who were complaining about others as though they were intolerable burdens rather than celebrating the blessings that other humans can (and should) be to us. And I could have torn my hair out, shouting at them, “you! you are the reason I wanted to leave the church! you are the reason I feel uncomfortable around Christians! you!”

and of course, Jason in his very calm voice, reminds me that there is a good deal of pride in my lashing out. And then he says that I need to lower my expectations and exercise a bit more compassion than prophecy and I should probably take a deep breath.

I was a little caught off guard, as I usually am when people try to correct me. But I sat down on my bed and with the phone pressed to my ear, I let out a little sigh while listening to him finish. He was right, you know. I just finished reading Romans 2-5 and Paul rebuked me as well. I am just like the Jews who claimed special privileges and salvation for their rite of circumcision.

And then, as I am recalling Romans, Jason asks if I think those people are in the word very much. How many Christians have ever read through their Bible, even just once? And if that is a primary way of God speaking to us, how can the Holy Spirit be convicting them of anything? He admits to having been convicted of something recently, and I’m standing in my room, watching the shadows grow outside my window, thinking that he has no idea.

I’m convicted all the time, it seems. At church on Sunday. In Seattle, on the trundle in Amanda’s studio apartment. On the airplane when I tried to sleep but couldn’t for the misbehaving ten year old next to me.  This morning, in a rush at the bank, standing across from Rachel. And tonight, alone, in my bedroom, staring out the window as the skies darkened and the light faded to misty hues of grey.

I guess it’s good to be convicted. It’s just that it’s hard too, because it means I have so much more to work on. Ah, me. But that is where the Spirit dwells within and does her spinning work to weave my tapestry into something that will someday be magnificent–though now it is only threads and knots.

And so, I suppose, I’ll keep trying to read my Bible. And even try to listen when people decide they have a sort of right to correct and rebuke me for my ill begotten ways.

Many Things

Right now, I am sitting at a lovely house with two dogs and two snarky little cats that like to pounce on me while I’m sleeping. I am watching Ocean’s 13 and polishing off a little bit of confetti ice cream.  I just got off the phone with someone who listens to me ramble and even laughs occasionally. I also talked with Amanda Jordan who is quite possibly one of the sweetest and yet craziest people I know.

Today on the radio, on two different stations I heard the song “Chasing Cars” and I turned it up and rolled down the windows. For the first time in several months, it didn’t tear up, it made me smile and laugh at good memories. I’m moving forward, even while standing still. I am in Colorado, and it would appear I’m here to stay for a little while.

And you know what? I’m pretty stoked about it. Because I almost cried over someone at work today, and I teased a friend when he called and complained about a fake date he’d been unexpectedly dragged into. And people here, well, they are wonderful even while hurting and they need Jesus too.

I realized something today, while Chucky and I worked the drive up. He said that people are self centered and obsessed with getting what they want right now. And I thought, this is the weirdest conversation to be having. I mean, since when does Chucky talk about poeple being self centered? And speak of it with such knowledge and clarity?

I think that sometimes we don’t give those outside the church enough credit. At some point, probably in youth group during high school, I picked up the idea that non-Christians didn’t know the mess they were in. I thought for awhile that they were unaware of the problems, because they were so cuaght up in it all that they were blinded to it.

I don’t think that’s true anymore. Chucky and Slayden, they know the ish. They are very aware and they are more willing that most Christians I know to talk about their crap, and the folly that they have created, lived in and continue to enjoy. They know it so well, so intimately and they aren’t really alright with the way things are.

They just don’t see another way out.

I guess I’m learning, while I talk with Chucky about his daughter and Slayden about his crazy weekends, I’m learning that it isn’t about judging them or making them see the sin. It’s about showing them the way out.

Because, I think in many ways, that’s what Jesus is. A way out and into something better.

Further up and further in.

Seattle Weekend

This is Caitlin and I on the way home from church today. Just for me, the Ballard bridge went up (nothing to do with the sailboat going underneath). So like the tourists we make fun of, we jumped out of the car and took some pictures! yay ballard!

This is Kelsie freaking Job and I at Palomino's on the east side for desert and an all around good time in cute little cocktail dresses. Caitlin was there too, and we had a great time!

Kellie and I at Macrina Bakery. We had delicious lattes and baked goods and caught up on life in the past nine months since we've seen each other

Alicia and I at Gasworks, having perhaps one of my best conversations all weekend. Starbucks, sunshine, blankets on the grass, and a favorite roommate, what can be better?

and did I mention, it’s spring time in Seattle? the trees are withered and the air still frigid in Colorado, and we may be expecting our snowiest month in March. But in Seattle, the world is in bloom and life is beautiful.

what does this mean?

I am very good at sharing my heart in writing: over texts, over email, over a blog…

but not good at talking in person or on the phone.

Why?

Is one less personal, since I don’t see the other party face to face? Is it because I am a “writer” so I can simply communicate better through the written word than the verbal?

or is it insecurity, and the desire for a distance that somehow exists over email and texts but is absent when the person is looking inoto your eyes and hearing the tremble of your voice?

Look out Seattle!

Tomorrow morning I am off on another grand adventure, this one to an old home with dear friends and places to revisit rather than explore for the first time. I’m pretty excited. We’ll see how happy I feel at 3.00AM tomorrow morning when I roll out of bed. But once I’m in that pick up truck on my way to DIA, I’m sure I’ll be just giddy with excitement.

Today I got off work late (as usual) with a pounding headache that made my eyelids heavy and my tongue thick in my mouth.  Out of habit I turned the radio on while headed home on the only street that services lonetree to parker. As I flew westward, passing a long line of cars headed hte opposite direction I couldn’t help but smile. In spite of the ridiculous headache and the fifteen minutes that were stolen from my afternoon, it was a perfect afternoon.

The sun was shining.

It was warm.

I dug painkillers out of my purse while trying to shift at the yellow lights that turn red far to quickly. I rolled down my window with that manual crank that makes me look like a fool as my head bobs up and down in the process. I could feel the cool air on my skin and the sun warmed my face to a glowing pink that came from more than just the heat.

Tomorrow I am headed home, to one of many homes. I am going to see Caitlin and dance in the rain. I am going to hug Alicia and drink far too much coffee. I’ll be sleeping at Amanda’s without catching a wink. And on Sunday, I’ll be rocking out to Mars Hill worship and listening to Mark even while missing my friends here and the church that I have come to love in Colorado.

Tomorrow I will be getting picked up by a good friend at 3.30AM and will be rubbing my eyes and yawning during the whole 45 minute ride to the airport. But the sun will be coming up just before we arrive, streaking the sky with yellows and pinks amid hazy clouds still waking from their own slumber. And tomorrow, maybe, we’ll have time to sit in the airport and chat and sprint on the moving sidewalks that always make me giggle.

And in someways, the airport will be as wonderful as the trip. Because I have a very strange affinity for airports: probably after living in them for a good portion of my life, they feel as homey as rainy Seattle and sunshiney Colorado and humid Latin America. Besides, I’ll be with Jason looking forward to being with Caitlin (and so many others). And when you are with a good friend like that, one place is as good as any other.