21 Shades of Purple: take 2

IMG_4628

Our previously scheduled program will air next week at this time, in order to bring you another article from my 11 year old son, Haden (my feature writer).  He’s the one with the backwards white Seahawks cap in the picture which was taken (by me) at the Russell Wilson Passing Academy in Vancouver, BC this July. But we can talk about our Seahawk saturated summer another time.

This took him about an hour to figure out, and I still don’t understand how he did it, but these are his predictions for the 2014 NFL football season~So, here it is!

Projected Records of Every Single Team in the NFL (based on their schedules):

AFC EAST

Patriots 13-3

Dolphins 8-8

Jets 7-9

Bills 2-14

AFC NORTH

Bengals 13-3

Ravens 9-7

Steelers 7-9

Browns 3-13

AFC SOUTH

Colts 12-4

Texans 8-8

Jaguars 5-11

Titans 1-15

AFC WEST

Broncos 16-0

Chargers 9-7

Chiefs 8-8

Raiders 1-15

NFC EAST

Redskins 12-4

Eagles 7-9

Cowboys 5-11

Giants 4-12

NFC NORTH

Packers 13-3

Bears 9-7

Vikings 6-10

Lions 5-11

NFC SOUTH

Saints 13-3

Panthers 9-7

Falcons 7-9

Buccaneers 1-15

NFC WEST

Seahawks 13-3

49ers 12-4

Cardinals 11-5

Rams 5-11

“These probably won’t be right because there are lots of upsets in the regular season.”~Haden Eastman  

I totally agree Haden! How do any of us know what will really happen on Any Given Sunday?  (And of course now, Monday, Thursday, and sometimes Saturday…that really ruins my awesome sentence.)  ~Hollie

 

 

this girl loves football

IMG_4662

Okay, so the first week was a bit bumpy.  A little rusty.  The opponents were out to prove they couldn’t get blown out by the same team two games in a row. We the twelves were there, we had our guy’s backs.  We lost, but it felt more disappointing to the team than the fans.  There were funny Seahawks memes and jokes about Denver’s “super bowl”  win over the Hawks in the preseason game, week 1 on social media.  The thing is, we all knew it wasn’t that big of a deal.  Besides, most of that game, we (Hawks, who else) played the depth chart.  And it’s deep.  In every way that counts.  I said before that preseason IS a big deal (here).  It is.  It’s like dress rehearsal.  You’re just getting to see who really gets which role, and who really fits better here or there, and Pete Carroll is a master at set design, operations, talent acquisition and well, fun.

I have watched all three pre-season Seahawks games in their entirety.  That’s not entirely true, I watched while also pinteresting, listening to my Spotify, and writing.  It’s a nervous thing, not unlike pacing, or my eleven year old Haden’s proclivity to decide he wants to watch any other game-because he (and I) are so invested in our team doing well, that it can hurt when they hurt. Or maybe for him, embarrass him for whatever reason.  I did catch most of the big plays that are now replays, and threw my two cents in here and there, as if they could ever hear me in the Clink among all the other 12’s.

I love that Brock Huard has been commentator on these games. I just love listening to him talk Seahawks, he’s got such an affection for the team (he did play for the green and blue once upon a time too) and for the Northwest.  I’m soaking in the actual pro-Seahawk announcing because I know in a few mere weeks, I will be subjected to every other announcer in the NFL broadcasting department.  It will be interesting to see if the most jaded will be able to see the Hawks for what they are, and have been, a world-class team.  Old school modern and unafraid of what anyone else thinks.  I get it, that’s the way Seattle, Washington, and the Pacific Northwest have always been.  And it scares the hell out of people to see freedom at play, not give up and even more, work.

I think what I love even more than the spectacular plays of constantly changing guys, or being stunned to see even more athletic prowess than I had seen last year, or seeing veteran players coaching, encouraging and cheering for the rookies, even more than seeing the boys dancing on the sidelines, on the field, in the locker room (and this is saying alot because most of the above makes me cry or laugh or both)…I love seeing Pete Carroll’s reactions on the sidelines.  In each and every play he is There. He is present.  He loves the game.  He has someone constantly pulling him back into the sidelines because of his barely restrained excitement during extraordinary plays.  He loves seeing what happens next.  He is with his guys on the field.  He loves his PLAYERS.  The joy on his face when the players play as a team in motion, selfless, pulling off the impossible because each teamate is literally playing to their strengths with all their heart, soul, mind…whew…it’s awesome.  It’s how I want to be in my life.  All in.

Immediately after the Super Bowl last year, I hit Fanatics for my gear, Pinterest for my twelfth-man pinspiration and Amazon (another Seattle phenom) for my reading material.  I had to get my hands on anything Pete Carroll, Seahawks or Twelfth Man related.  My reading list included:  Notes from a Twelfth Man: A Truly Biased History of the Seattle Seahawks , 100 Things Seahawks Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die , Then Zorn said to Largent…The Best Seattle Seahawks Stories Ever Told , the Sports Illustrated Super Bowl XLVII Seattle Seahawks Special Commemorative Issue Single Issue Magazine-2014, Always Compete: An Inside Look at Pete Carroll and the USC Juggernaut and Win Forever; Live, Work and Play Like a Champion .  Yes, intense and thorough research on my guys.  (FYI: I get no kickback from any of the above.  I wish.)

The first one, Notes from a Twelfth Man, I loved.  Love the authors style, it was a fun read, and I picked up some more Seahawks trivia in the bargain.  The second one, 100 Things…, was, well, packed with info.  This guy knows his stuff, and has a huge database of knowledge, he’s also written for Field Gulls, which is itself, a pretty exhaustive site on all things Seattle Seahawks.  I cannot remember what I learned from that book, however, I do visit FieldGulls often to read up.  The Zorn/Largent book was a trip down memory lane, of stories I didn’t actually remember, but of an era that I fondly recall from my youth.  I ate up the SI issue. And I read the two Pete Carroll books in backward order.   I wish I would have read them the other way.  I guess I can pretend.  The USC one was a good history read on Pete’s life before Seattle.  Win Forever, that was a game-changer.  No pun intended.  Really.  So worth the read, and re-read.  I want to implement more of what Win Forever means in my own family; so far, we’re at the 5 yard line in our territory, it’s fourth down, and the chains haven’t moved.  Like Russell Wilson has said, “What’s the next play?”.  I am hopeful that play by play, we’ll get there.

I also check the Seattle Seahawks site when ever I need a fix, listen to a few podcasts from 710 ESPN Seattle ‘Brock and Salk’ (like this one-it’s a really entertaining one) when doing a mind numbing job like folding towels, and I just ordered Seattle Seahawks Super Season: Notes from a 12 on the Best Season in Seahawks History , the ‘sequel’ to the Notes from a Twelfth Man.  

I’m just a girl who likes her football.

I’ve got to pack now for a ‘quick’ 300 mile trip to Seattle (!!!!) to see a Mariners game this week with my two older boys.  I’ll take any excuse to go on a road trip.  And, it’s Seattle.  While I’m at it, I better read up on the M’s, too.

UPDATE:  When I got home from my trip, I grabbed my new book, thanks Amazon for Prime two day delivery!  I finished the above book in twenty four hours.  I didn’t read for twenty four, it just took a day between have-to’s to get to read it.  Loved it.  To relive the season through Mark Tye Turner’s take on it was a great 12 experience.  Go Hawks!

the heartbeat of a home

IMG_0343

Wind speaks through the wire fence.  Ghosts of the past creak in the rusty hinges on the barn doors.  Long grass rustles and shivers and prickles the skin on my legs. There’s the swing set my boys have all swung on.  Precarious, uncemented, it always threatens to fall over when they swing too high, ensuring giggles that float on the wind like bubbles.  The skies. The miles of sky.  You can see the weather twenty miles away in Spokane from these windows, and closer too, in Reardan, not far from where my mom and dad live. Have lived.  How many cloud pictures have we pointed to, lying in the cool grass, shaded by an old, old tree.  The tree sways it’s tendril branches, creating the dappled sunshine I can see when I close my eyes.  The graceful trees here now provide beauty in an otherwise unbroken landscape.  And here the trees once found beauty in purpose.

You can tell where original homesteads were, as you drive along miles of quilted fields of gold, brown, green.  There, in the middle of field will stand a lonely copse of trees, no longer needed for shade or protection from gusting winds.  Sometimes you catch the sight of a windmill, still standing tall, facing the raw weather that open farmland throws.  Both the trees and the windmills usually outlast the farmhouses.  If you’re lucky, there will be a house, maybe bent and twisted, barely,defiantly holding onto its foundation.  If you’re really lucky, there will stand a house, still filled with vestiges of the occupants past, clues to its story, and the story of those who took shelter in it’s walls.

From it’s perch on a hill, if you wander to the side yard, you can see down two more of the rolling mounds of soil, was such a house; now erased.  My mom helped the daughter of the sweet couple, long timers who passed away miles from one another, to clean out the outbuildings and the home.  I was invited to come along for a day, and we salvaged what we could, quite in love with the bones of this place that had stood for over a century.  The next time I visited, it was gone.  The metal fence with it’s latching gate, the house that witnessed history, all buried under the dirt that had held it’s fingerprint for well over a hundred years.  That day I was there, I discovered a dozen or so pieces of thick slate scattered around the yard. Now it lays in my yard.  I see the slate and it reminds me of people and places who lived in a different time, different hard and different good, and survived.

He had been there his whole life, the farmer.  He remembered times from his childhood, when the Spokane Indian and other Washington tribes would walk the well worn path that lay for ages where farms had then cut borders across, into the earth.  I imagine how that moment of lives intersecting, paths crossing, affected both peoples who used the land for cross purposes.  How did it happen?  Did eyes meet as those who journeyed their ancient trail came to this intersection of past and future?  Did wary homesteaders eye the First People with curiosity, or fear, or maybe with connection?

This is what this house situated where miles separate neighbors does best.  The vast landscape, the changing clouds, the wind-one minute powerful, demanding, the next gentle and barely discernible. The smells of earthy grain and air still fresh, the pulse of thriving life; this is what this place does.  It quiets my thoughts, lets my soul take a deep breath, pulls me to walk, and think and listen. I’ve stayed over at my parents home many times with, first one baby boy, then two, and then all three boys, who have grown up seeing beloved Oma and Opa’s house and land with young minds and hearts.  I’ve comforted waking babies and listened to the absolute silence of night, the depth of the dark that one encounters miles from cities of lights.

With my parents, my boys have watched and ridden combines and lumbering grain trucks harvest the swaths of land next to their home.  They have hosted feasts at a table that has expanded and stretched to fit growing families.  Together, we have watched the seasons change, slip one into another, year after year.  My parents have lived here, carving their own signature on the old farmhouse, remodeled through the generations, for twenty-two years.  My sisters and I have been asking our parents when they would move to “town” for several years.  Maybe a few more.  Now, it’s time.  God’s time, for them to begin a new season of their lives, living less than ten minutes from grandchildren and children.  My sisters and I have complained about how far we have had to drive, 45 minutes?! And why did they live “out there” if they came to Spokane every day?!  This is what you do when you trade convenience for place.  The truth is, it was their decision to make, and we are grateful they have.  But today, at the moving sale, was the first time I’ve felt something other than joy and relief-more than a twinge of sadness.

This is the place I brought my soon to be fiance, and then husband, and then each of our boys.  City girl that I am, I am finding the more the years make their mark on me, that a bit like Scarlett O’Hara, to me, land is everything.  I’m so grateful that my boys know a piece of their heritage, that where we are now is in part because of where we came from.  From four generations of wheat farmers tilling and harvesting the unforgiving ground, battling the never agreeable weather. Romanticized? Yes.  Truly the work and lives of farming families (my aunt and uncle included) is astounding to me.  When you invest in the land, crops, livestock; you trade your time, resources, and choices that the rest of us can’t understand.  That my guys, urban as they have been raised, have had a seed of that planted in them is an experience no school could teach.

I will miss this place.  We have thousands of pictures that tell the story of our family, the being here, to fill in the spots that our memories misplace.  We are a mobile society, and have a freedom to pick up and move whenever, where ever.  Maybe that’s why the timelessness of farmland beckons me to linger, to take a longer look.  Because it doesn’t take much more than an hour’s shift of the sun across the heavens to turn my thoughts inward, to breath deeply the lessons here.  What is it about natural landscapes that take your breath away-every time?  It never gets tired, always new.

While I don’t know the hard never-ending work of farming, I do know the hard never-ending work of planting, growing a family.  Growing up in this area, close to where my parents live, I always had both sides of my parent’s families within an hour’s drive, giver or take.  It’s a privilege I know that not many have.  Some of us are born wanderers, never satisfied with where we land, always searching for the next place to make our mark.  And others of us are born to stay, keeping, in one place while everything changes around us.  I think I’ve had the opportunity to experience and embrace both, to taste the flavor of the unknown; within reach of the love of firm and settled family.  There is much community practiced here where my parents live.  Small towns are like that; everybody knows everyone, (for counties around). I’ts a bit like a very large family. You may not always like each other, you may argue, but you are always there to stand with those who share your life, day in and day out.  It was an unspoken lesson imprinted on me at an early age, and still tugs at me, where ever I am.  When I find myself in the midst of a community that is knit together that strongly, I connect quickly and deeply.  And when I have been without it, I feel the hole acutely.  Part of me is missing without us.

My favorite time of day here has always been on a summer evening, dusk.  When the dust devils have settled, the work of the day done, and the sun settles itself on the horizon, bleeding red and pink, ending far from where it started.  Kiddos run through dewy grass, stirring up nighttime bugs.  Stomachs full, conversations small and laughter frequent and real. These are the moments I see when I think of this home.  Maybe the day wasn’t all good.  Things that shouldn’t have been were. Expectations were unmet, voices unheard.  Work and noise and life stole the day minutes at a time.  But sitting on that porch, witnessing the sun tucking into bed, there is a peace about the 24 hours just lived.  A knowing that despite the imperfections, and maybe even because of them, that tomorrow you, we, will begin again. That’s how twenty-two years of my parent’s dot on the map feels to me today.  Because this all, it’s bigger than me.  It’s part of one of the million swirling, interconnecting stories that are as old as the earth, and as strong as a heartbeat.

~To mom and dad~thank you for sharing your home with so much love and hospitality all these years~

21 Shades of Purple

IMG_2781

Today I’m introducing a regular feature writer:  My eleven year old son, Haden.  He has more than a passing interest in football; he lives, he eats and he breathes Football.  Last year he played junior tackle football, this year he opted out.

Today I told him that since he isn’t playing a sport this fall, then he is going to write a sports column for me to publish on my blog.  He laughed at my “easy” challenge and set out to write his first entry tonight.  (I had to type it though.  And it’s not really in written form, it’s a chart.  First timer.)

(Note:  Opinions of the following author by NO WAY reflect the opinions of the MessyJoyfull staff.  Which is me, his mom.)

2014 NFL

Playoff Predictions

AFC

1. Broncos (home field adv.)

2. Patriots (1st rd. bye)

3. Colts (div)

4. Bengals (div)

5. Chargers (wc)

6. Ravens (wc)

NFC

1.SEAHAWKS!!!!!! (home field adv.) emphasis added by editor

2. Saints (1st. rd. bye)

3. Packers (division)

4. Redskins (division)

5. 49ers (WC)

6. Cardinals (WC)

Playoff Games 2014:

Colts v. Chargers       Bengals v. Ravens                                               Packers v. Cardinals            Redskins v. 49ers

     Wildcard                       Wildcard                                                                Wildcard                             Wildcard

Broncos v. Chargers    Patriots v. Bengals                                              Seahawks v. Cardinals        Saints v. 49ers

      Divisional                      Divisional                                                               Divisional                           Divisional

            Broncos v. Bengals                                                                                               Sehawks v. Saints

             AFC Championship                                                                                               NFC Championship

                                                                  SEATTLE SEAHAWKS v. denver broncos

                                                                     SUPER BOWL 2015  in Phoenix, AZ

                                                                              score: Den 35-Sea 31

Note:  I asked Haden why he picked the super bowl attendees, he said, “Because the Seahawks have a really strong defense and the Broncos improved their defense and have a really strong offense.”  He also said he tried not to make the final SB score a blowout. (Oh, like the last superbowl?…)

While difficult to type his outlook for this year, I fully support his opinions, knowing that I’ve known something all along about football that may not be visible to the 11 year old boy eye; the Seahawks have something no other team in the NFL has.  I’ll stop at that because this is the point where he would roll his eyes and walk away.=)

#Go Hawks!

move

I don’t want to move my fridge.  I have put off having the last of the original floors in our 70’s four-level redone until now.  Well, four days from now.  I’ve had at least a month to pack up the kitchen and laundry room, but I reasoned, what’s the use, I’ll use those rooms right up til the very last minute.  I suspect that sorting and moving three and a half years of accumulated “things I may need” could turn ugly.

I’ve had experience with this.  Last summer we were able to replace the white, oil based carpet that flooded the public areas of our home (also called the flippin’ thing that made me very angry every day). We have a black lab.  And three boys.  However, after we found evidence of orange shag underneath, I brieflly reconciled with the white stuff.  We carried all of the furniture pieces that we had previously moved from our first home into a Pod, out of a Pod and into this home, back into the garage.  Then we went camping, and awaited “the change”.  When we came home to the gorgeous, dark stained floors, I laid down on them in bliss.  That was my way of welcoming my imagined new era of housework; lighter, prettier, easy. We kept to minimal furniture for months, long enough that my boys pretened to sit on the future furniture.

Nothing fit anymore. The problem became clear: I realized the scale of our old furniture was completely out of proportion.  This home has 9 ft. ceilings (ala 1971), as opposed to our cathedral ceilings before (1998).  What to do when confronted with a challenge?  I spring to action, google, and then do what I do best, shop.  I spent hours researching furniture pieces online; shapes, colors, dimensions.  Slowly, I oversaw the return of furniture, piece by carefully vetted piece.  Big blue comfy denim sectional couch, a keeper for the “media” room.  We used to call that a TV room back in the day.  A vintage white school locker about my height, to hold DVD’s (don’t laugh-yes, we still have them.) next to the couch.  Eventually I found a comfy club chair in my favorite shade of gray, with ottomon of course.  It was briefly called “mommy’s chair”.  Now I don’t sit in it very often; I am more than hesitant due to the many stains that dot the canvas.  I don’t ask what they came from anymore.  It’s better that I don’t know.

The upper living room in our house is called the piano room, cleverly named for the petite grand that anchors a portion of the room.  If those strings could talk, what stories it would tell.  It seems that since having my wee ones, the only time I’ve purposely taken to playing is when I have emotions that cannot be expressed any other way than through music.  Or when it’s a holiday.

I was even more invested in that room; it’s the first room you see when you walk up our entry steps. Yep, first impressions.  I had this thing about my surroundings speaking about who we are as a family.  I was so done with all of the lovingly given, but tired hand me downs.  It was a way to illustrate who I am now: See what I like?  Look at how I’m different than I was before!

I had decided on a small scale modern (gray) sectional, for lots of seating options, and style.  My husband insisted on helping to make this chioice.  And he had a point.  He wanted to make sure it was comfy.  I however wanted firm-ish. Somehow one evening we managed to go on a date night~to Macy’s downtown.  We spent an hour sitting in and rejecting couch after loveseat after sectional.

We did decide, together.  It’s nice to know he had my back.  It’s my favorite place to spend time cozying up to my coffee and laptop, watching the seasons change through our huge picture window.  The rest of the pieces were an eclectic mix of the best pieces that I had saved from my junking days and modern finds.  Easy industrial I’ll call the final look.  I then vowed that in January of 2014 we would redo our kitchen floors.

In January, while sitting by my blue light on said couch, desperate for Vitamin D, I thought my August self crazy.  It’s bone chilling cold here in January.  So I postponed installation til spring break.  Which came and went, after all I had promised my family no garage sale during spring break ever again.  So, no work.  I settled on mid-August.  Worked last year. The time of summer when we are all tired of each other, only have two maybe three day trips left on our summer list, and when I need any excuse to get away and eat out. In either order.

I cannot even describe that linoleum to you.  I must show you.  (Viewers discretion:  this picture may hurt your eyes.  Or your design sense. Objects may be greener and uglier in real life.)

IMG_0002

Here is my youngest, Finn(y), he was just 2 when we moved here.  (I also changed over those @#%#@ drawer pulls as soon as I was able to afford it.  They did untold damage to I don’t know how many sweaters.)  Ah, and there in the background is the object of my procrastination.  The fridge that I had to pick out at ding and dent last minute because our old wide by side was too tall for the space.  The fridge that has fallen apart faster than any other thing in this place.  The fridge I just completely emptied a few weeks ago to cart all our food to my parents to save it in their fridge when the power went out.  It’s lighter, bonus.

Sure, there isn’t much in the way of furniture to move out of the kitchen/dining area, though I bet it’s going to feel like it this afternoon.  I am just a bit of a dreamer. Maybe 80/20 on my realist/dreamer chart.  That could be off by a good 50%.  I take on projects that I know I can do, in my head, that is.  And then, most everything, is much harder, more complicated and profoundly longer than I had anticipated.  And thus, I struggle.  Where some may be able to see this as a series of steps that MEAN NOTHING, I will infuse every minute, interaction and detour with meaning.  And take a few breaks, to cool off, cry, eat, pinterest….that may or may not add an hour or two onto my process.

So here’s where the dream and the reality collide brilliantly.  I have fiercly wanted these floors done before we moved in, and every day since then.  As our best laid plans do, those plans came to a crashing halt when the neighbor’s mammoth pine tree uprooted in a windstorm and sunk it’s teeth into our boy’s bathroom ceiling.  That it happened in the middle of the night, was feet from our boys bunk-beds in their room and did not wake them, and caused minor damage, well those were miracles.  The rest was yuck.  Now I find myself at the precipice of my long awaited hope becoming real to find that I’m a little nervous.

About what?  I think often times, I think I don’t deserve ‘good’ things.  That maybe if I get something good, more will be required of me, I won’t be able to hang out in the background, or worse, maybe this is it, and I’ll end up obscure the rest of my life.  Normal scares me way more than risky.

And so, I have pulled myself up, warily eyed my appliances (we are moving three of them out to save a few hundys), saying  ‘You won’t beat me’, in my head, lest anyone else hear me.  They don’t hear me when I am purposely talking to them (three boys, husband, boy dog), but have a fantastic skill of owl-like hearing when I am whispering to myself.

Listening to my playlist last weekend, I ran across a song, Better Not To Know 

. About life and growing; how the best lessons and times happen in ways we would never have asked for. I’ve been thinking this week about a line that stuck with me:  “The risk of living is the pain”.

Nothing stays the same, seasons change, and no matter how much we try to control what happens, and how and when and where, the truth is, we wouldn’t want it to go our way.  In relationships, work, love, we are not the experts.  We may think that remodeling our lives to hide the past, covering our pain in brave choices, or making our color scheme more palatable for others will fix what’s broken, or maybe protect our heart from rejection and hurt.

If there is one thing I’ve learned, procrastinating life hurts me.  More than any jump into an unknown.  Be brave, you know you, He knows you.  Together you can move.  I only know because He’s held my hand, too.  So, this is me.  See what I like!  Look how I’m different than I was before!  I’ll risk living, and pray that you will too.

Drive-by judging

Marshawn Lynch is big.  He is a beast-strength football player.  He has overcome big adversities in his life, some several times over. He doesn’t like to talk to the press (which they hate, so they obsess over why he won’t talk.)  He has big plans and personally, I think he has an even bigger heart.

When I logged onto Facebook yesterday afternoon, two news items caught my eye:  Robin Williams had died at 63. Marshawn Lynch is being investigated by the Bellevue police, regarding an ‘Incident’.  The first item broke my heart.  I hate depression and addiction, and how they take someone brilliant and beautiful, and twist and defeat and bully them into a crevice that feels inescapable, except for death.

I then turned to the supposed news about Lynch.  Perhaps the Bellevue police felt they had to inform the public of a “suspected” incident because Marshawn is big.  I am sure that most of the police officers in Bellevue are dedicated,caring professionals who care about people.  I’m also hazarding a guess that there were a dozen other ‘incidents’ that evening/morning that were actually painful, devastating, life changing.  But it’s not too often that the non-big people of this world get press.

I attended a women’s ministry meeting last evening; hosted by a gracious member of our leadership team.  We had ice cream (even though I have to pay $6 for coconut ice cream, I assure you it was worth every dime), and were wrapping up the final details of the new year.  I tried to reserve my voice for something I was actually needed for, so I kept fairly quiet, at least that’s my self assessment.  My mind was wandering near the end of our meeting, when the agenda note about “giving/volunteering” came up.

Another woman and I have been co-leaders the past three years mostly because if we hadn’t, the ministry was in danger of dying.  We both have persevered through confusing pastoral leadership changes, staff changes, women taking their families and leaving for healthier churches.  Last fall, we were just beginning to grow again, albeit with a small group of faithful, a half-dozen give or take.  The desire has been for our larger overall group of women in our church to be able to give to a certain very deserving and meaningful charity/ministry in our city.  The option had been explored to help, and what was most needed was to host something in December for the residents. Most of us in the group, while wanting to help, felt like it would be difficult to fit in our schedules.  So, we decided to do what we could, donate whatever we could to the ministry.  Maybe not the best choice, but it was what we felt we could do at the time without sacrificing our own ministries at church, home, work.

The mission/charity portion of our women’s ministry fell apart, again. For the third year in a row.  There were opportunities that just didn’t materialize into reality due to overworked people with big hearts.  

It doesn’t feel good, and wasn’t what the team wanted to happen.  We revisited the whole notion of supporting another ministry, if we felt we could follow through in action instead of just words.  I remembered that one person had spoken up last year, just as a question, to ask if we felt we needed an outside ministry in addition to our ministry to the women of our church, so I threw it in our conversation ring last month.

Last evening in a cooling garden, as the dark thickened around us, I slowly returned to the conversation, leaving the one in my head, because of the cacophony of words pouring from one person.  I heard frustration in her voice as she spoke of her frustration with our group inaction.

I shared that I remembered that we all wanted to help, but felt as a group that we couldn’t stretch ourselves to take it on.

The conversation was left with agreeing to disagree, and the words of our host, “Well, we try, and if we fail, God has grace.”

I don’t enjoy conflict, but I do like to talk things out, to make commonality where there is misunderstanding.  I love a good conversation, I’ll take on a light-hearted debate or two, words and relating with people drives me.  I love to talk (and even the motormouth nickname from my parents didn’t stop me).  I have, in recent times begun the practice of listening more.  I’ve consciously taken a step back now and then; to really listen to what someone is saying.  I won’t be teaching a seminar on this anytime soon, or in my lifetime.  But when I do slow down my fast running thoughts and answers (yep, first-born), and focus on the person I’m talking with instead of reacting, it is always produces a far richer connection.

Can I see the women’s ministry volunteers. point? Her frustration was valid, and held in it a kernel of truth.  What we have/haven’t done looks horrible on paper.  How could a women’s ministry not reach out to their community??  It’s the kind of actions that those hurt by Christians like to point to as another sign of how unloving we are.  

We did the best we could.  Did the speaker last night take up the cause on her own, or with another? I don’t know. I also don’t know what anyone else “did unto others” that December.  And I don’t need to.  Nor, does anyone need to know what I may have done to help a brother or sister.  What I’m going to say next is considered crazily radical talk in particular groups of believers. But it needs to be said.

WE ARE NOT TO SPEW JUDGEMENT ON EACH OTHER.

Yes, you heard me.  And in that typographic tone.  I’ve learned the hard way, the painful way, in ways that still make me wince, that judging is not our job.  Not as a pastime.  Not in the name of God.  Not up for conversation around a table of like-minded people.  Not now. Not then. Not ever.

I in no way think that I am immune to falling into this particular sin again. And again. Probably even in the last few minutes.

The line between humility and pride is so faint, that you can cross in a heartbeat.  When I was up at summer camp a couple of weeks ago, I found myself in this very position.  Judging can come very silently, slithering through our mind, dropping words of offense and self-righteousness.  It is tinder dry, and burns hot, quickly and fiercely-consuming love and leaving bitter ashes.  I am thankful that God brought my judging thoughts to my attention, and that I listened.  I wrote this description of myself down in my journal that day:  “Hypocrite dressed in a good girl disguise.” I let that sit with me, until I felt the humiliation of sin, and the forgiving of the Sinless One.

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous.  He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” Romans 3:23-24 nlt

~~It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.~~Billy Graham

Extra Credit:  a good read about Marshawn Lynch

switch

 

IMG_0508

I was sick to my stomach.  Barely holding it together as I walked into the bakery, my two-year old in tow, holding my shaking hand.  I was sure of my decision, just wildly nervous about the ripple effects.  Before I could even sip my coffee, I spilled out to my business partner that I was done. That it had been a wild ride for five years, but the reality was I couldn’t split myself in half any longer. The way my family worked and lived, it was time to make the hard choice, so I gave up one part of my life, part of me, to save the other.

We all have spaces in our life where we are compelled, by one force or another, to work with, play with, live with others. Some of us are built solid to withstand all sorts of this social stimuli; personalities, conversations, dramas, outside of our box thinking: just as naturally as breathing. They have skin that deflects all but the most meaningful messages.  Transitions can be easily absorbed, completed fairly effortlessly.   All impressive traits, more like a gift of temperament.  They are, in a word, unflappable.

On the far side of the spectrum, there are those of us who are molded like sponges.  When we walk into a room, we can immediately take in the atmosphere, the mood, the social structure, the personalities, all in one deep breath.  Navigating groups of one to millions can be beautiful one day, soul draining another. These qualities are complex, to be gifted in such a sensing way makes for strongly emotional people, more likely to go through the entire range of human emotions in a day than their uniquely focused counterparts.  Whether you know it or not, and probably being an extreme of one of the above groups means that you do know, every time you interact with another, these dynamics are set in motion.  I’m no physicist, but this applies to people too: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Much of the time in our worlds, we spend our hours bouncing off of each other like a crazy game of, like, bouncing balls off each other. Maybe I’m thinking of dodgeball,  which interestingly, is a hot button issue and is banned in some school districts, while alternately being offered as an adult excercise class in many cities.  It is true that in all these human dodgeball games there are multitudes of distinctions and differences, bits and pieces of parts of spectrums in each and every designed DNA.  The human body is vastly complex; I suspect there are functions that will still not be scientifically understood for millennial to come.  There are scores of orphan diseases to cure, brain processes to decode, and then there are still those pesky “miracles” that haven’t been scientifically proven and published in JAMA.  Wef truly are “fearfully and wonderfully made”.

Regardless of how you are constructed, inevitably, there will be a time for you to move on.  I knew it then, that spring that I had to leave my business.  That otherworldly pulling, the thoughts that kept coming back, the peace of knowing the path to take, that was all there.  Being of a complex disposition means that for me, transitions of any kind are less than smooth. For a girl who craves movement, change, new, excitement, etc., I am continually taken by surprise at how catastrophic a switch can be for me.  When I made the choice to cut the rope that held me to the “outside” world, I lost much.  At first, it was a relief to be able to wholly focus on my kids, my marriage, my home. What I had not anticipated was how much I would miss the connections with people.

You grow close to people who you’ve walked through storm and beauty with.  I had learned so much about the capacity of human heart from many of the people I had been blessed to come to know, and who had gifted me with true friendship.  Their words and the good (and hard) memories stored away from that time of my life still come back to me, just when I need them. Nonetheless, tearing myself away from the fabric of hard-fought work left me wondering who I was, what defined me, and at my shaken core, what was my worth?

That season of change, it was clear that I had to prune back some area of my life, stat, to allow other areas to grow.  Now I’m facing a reversal of that; I’m feeling the familiar tugging of needing to do-something.  There is something more missing. God has been so good in the ways He has redeemed the desert years for my family, and for me. He has brought healing in ways I could never have imagined, restored relationships, and has given me sweet time and broad spaces to carefully remove the tourniquet I’d tied over the gaping wound of my heart.  I know He is always at work in me and through me.  This, though? This is a different, larger campaign.

I believe our Creator gives us times of refreshing, maybe not when we would have chosen to take a break, sabbatical from what we think we are supposed to be doing, using detours to redirect our motion toward discovering the unique way He created me, and you, and all of the billions of us inhabiting His world, to work as pieces of a whole. When we do find a place and community and work for our hands, because this is a broken world, people are deeply imperfect, and relationships are messy, the results may often not look like much at all to the naked eye.

But here’s the deal, God has good reason to not be surprised at our imperfect efforts.  He already knows us, we cannot hide from Him.  There is no need to build an impressive resume, to be ‘successful’ in the way the world defines, or to fashion a glossy magazine worthy spread of home and family. He has always looked at the heart.  Our hearts, beating with his freeing blood.

This time around I may have no idea “what I am supposed to be doing”.  I may never.  If there is one thing I am sure of, it is that whatever our temperament, whoever we work side by side with, wherever the situation may be; He views us with a massive love, seeing us not as we see with human eyes, but through the lens of grace, and love; in a word, Jesus.