Tag Archives: hope

The Eulogy I Gave For My Grandma

14 Mar

I wrote this the night before her memorial service. Some of it I ad-libbed, so it actually went over really well in person. Reading it might leave a lot to be desired but some wanted me to share it with them! Here it is:

 

On behalf of the Mills family, I want to thank you all for being here today. My grandma, Loma Mills, has meant a lot to so many people, and your presence here signifies just how many lives she impacted during her 93 years here on earth.

 

Grandma pics Her roles were many. She was the eldest daughter of Frank and Alice Oesterle, German farmers living here in Marion. She was a sister to Ruth Staub and Doris Beaver. She was also a high school history teacher for 32 years, a wife to John, a mother to three sons, Judd, Craig, and Kim. A grandmother to 7 (Laurel, Stacy, Jenna, me, Belinda, Chris, and Josh) and great grandmother to Gretchen, Nick, Hannah, Jake, Josie, and Oliver.  She was a friend to so many different types of people, whether you knew her for a few minutes or for decades. Even last year, she wrote more than100 Christmas cards to people she loved.

 

Family. Firey. Fiercely Independent. Spunky. Kind. Giving, Woman of Great Faith, Generous, Charitable, Optimistic, Saw the Silver Lining, Avid reader, Loved children, celebrating holidays, and God. These are all words that people in Loma’s family used to describe her. My cousin, Belinda, always laughs because when I was younger I said of Grandma that she was a tough cookie. She’d been through a lot and just kept on going.

 

One word that keeps coming up for me that I think described my grandma the best is grit. My grandma had “grit.” I looked it up in the dictionary.  Grit is “the firmness of mind or spirit, unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.” Loma learned independence from an early age. Her father was a frugal man who made wise investments in other farms during her early years, which happened to be during the Great Depression.  Her mother used the money that she got from selling her chicken’s eggs to clothe my grandmother and her two sisters. Committed to educating his three daughters,  Frank insisted that Loma, Ruth, and Doris go to college, which they all did.

 

The values of faith, family, charity, and a hard work ethic were instilled in my Grandma from an early age and she passed them on to all of us. And we are so grateful for these.

Because we’re all knew my Grandma differently, I thought I’d share a few reflections on her life.

 

A glimpse into Loma’s inner life:

 

Grandma was a full time mother and full time teacher as well as a farm owner simultaneously, before it was cool to be all of those things at the same time. Grit.

 

Grandma and GrandpaShe raised her eldest son, Judd, alone for two and a half years while her husband, John, was off at war.

 

Her faith inspired me and others she knew to care about the less fortunate and beyond it all, trust in God. She would often say to me in a knowing voice, “Kid (because she called everyone “kid”), life is hard. But the Lord is with you. He is.” More than anything, she believed that we were to cling closely to God. Whether I was going through a breakup, a move, or another traumatic life event for a young adult, my Grandma would encourage me and all of us in her determined voice that God would and could help, if we let him into our lives.

 

 

-Grandma loved bonfires, Weenie roasts, and pig roasts. If someone were having a birthday, we’d all go out into the back yard and roast weenies in a bonfire.

 

-Grandma also loved lawncare- We couldn’t believe it when she actually hired people to do her lawn because well into her 70s, grandma would be seen tending to her flowers and mowing her acres of lawn by herself, waving to those passing by.

 

-Grandma had a keen fashion sense which she passed on to her granddaughters, great-granddaughters, and daughter-in-laws. To show our love and appreciate of that, we are all wearing hats from the Loma Mills collection.

 

-Vacation – Our family has been taking an annual vacation to Rehoboth Beach, Deleware since 1953. Boardwalk. Funland. Grotto’s Pizza. Rented beach umbrellas. Apartment over Lingo’s market. This was a family tradition that was etched into our lives, since we’ve been going there for so long. It was one of her favorite yearly traditions.

 

-YMCA – Grandma often used to wake up at 5AM to go swimming at the Y up until her 90s. In fact, I just met two of her Y friends before the service who reminded me of how much Grandma loved that daily ritual.

 

-She was also a dedicated sister to Doris and Ruth, with Doris even being across the street. She really looked up to and was grateful to be near her sisters both spiritually and physically. With the Beavers living across the street, their children had memories together. This meant that our family has an entire set of second and third cousins that are actually very close and share holidays and vacations together.

 

-She’d often have 70 person family reunions in her two bedroom cape cod making traditional Thanksgivings and other meals.

 

-An evidence of my Grandma’s grit is this: “Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith, developed perseverance. Perseverance must finish it’s work, so you can be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4. Her steadfast strength in life and in God were her foundation and she took trials as they came, looking to God for help during troubled times.

 

-Baking cookies and pies. Always a pecan or apple pie waiting or on its way when I visited.

 

-She loved her sweets. My cousin, Belinda, reminded me that she would make people go to two or three different drug stores until she found her favorite, Russell Stover’s candies.

 

-She was a woman of habit, making her infamous Santa Cookies. It was an orchestrated event down to a science. It wasn’t just a dedication to tradition and the holidays IE holiday cookie making, you weren’t just signing up for cookie making, but more a full-fledged production, with 15 minutes spent decorating each cookie.

 

-Grandma wouldn’t want a big “to do” for her funeral. I think she’s glad that we’ve come together as family and friends to celebrate her life because togetherness is what she always wanted and loved best. She might say this if she were here, paraphrased a bit from a poem that Matt Burke, my grandma’s favorite grandson-in-law:

 

”Speak to me in the easy way which you always used to Put no difference in your tone, Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.”

 

In that spirit, let me tell you the ice cream story. We were driving in the car in the summer with the windows down. I was about 10 or 12 years old. Grandma had just treated Belinda and me to ice cream. The day before, I had gone to my first ever pig roast at the Lashey’s house and Belinda hadn’t been able to make it. Grandma was always a little bit absent minded so as she was describing how big the pig was, she took her ice cream like this (open arms wide) and it flew out the window, only leaving the cone left! This was a typical kind of story you’d hear about my grandma.

 

To finish, she had a solid 93 years. I think she’d be pleased to see how life came full swing. I don’t think there’s anything else she would have wanted to accomplish in her life. This is her legacy. We are her legacy.

 

And now I’d like to invite her grandchildren and great-grandchildren up to read a poem that was one of our Grandma’s favorites, “The House By The Side Of The Road”.

 

2012 Was, In Many Ways, A Horrible Year…And Yet…

10 Jan
Can We Dare To Hope After A Year Like 2012?

Can We Dare To Hope After A Year Like 2012?

It’s that time of year when we consider where we’ve been and where we want to go. Let’s look back in hopes that it can help us make sense of things so as to move forward:

Oh Lord, you know us so well. You know when we sit and when we rise. You perceive all of our thoughts from afar…

2012 was a very disturbing year in a lot of ways. I became increasingly aware of how fragile life is and how hard grief can hit home when, in February, a 15-year-old kid took his own life by jumping off of his school roof in the town next to the Community Center where I worked. The trend continued when, in July, a gunman shot and killed 12 people in the mall where I grew up. How chilling. How unexpected. Death seemed so close. And to what purpose?

You know this season that we are in where it is hard to see the good amidst all of the pain...

In the fall, death knocked again and I lost my Grandmother. Although not sudden, I didn’t really have the opportunity to say goodbye because life got in the way and I had to keep moving forward. With the end of the year came the end of the world, or so said the Mayans. A minute part of me thought that maybe it would actually happen because although I’m not a cynical person, the news seems to be getting worse lately and fear is at an all time high. I wouldn’t believe it if it wasn’t reflected in some of our movies like “The Dark Knight Rises” where, for most of the film, Batman is thwarted by a pervasive evil that he just can’t seem to overcome. Half of me thought he wouldn’t be able to beat Bane but the title did have “Rise” in the title, which gave me a little hope.

 You know all of our suffering. 

So many questions, where are all of the answers?

So many questions, where are all of the answers?

And then in the political arena came doomsday talk of “If Obama wins, it’s over” and “If Romney wins, the country will never be the same.” And although I’ve never really seen a James Bond film, can someone tell me why even the title, “Skyfall”, sounds so ominous? And does he always let women die in these movies? I found it more than a little disturbing that some psychopath, played by Javier Bardem, was so obsessed with killing Judy Dench’s character that the whole movie was based on some sort of misogynistic revenge plot against women. James Bond, himself, wasn’t much better, letting the Bond girl die when, minutes later he was rescued via helicopter. He could have stopped her from getting shot. Amidst all of that came Newtown and the tragedy that struck there. What a horrific cap to an already collectively tough year for us all. Where is the hope when 6 year olds get murdered just for showing up to school?

Comfort the needy. Bring peace to the anxious. 

As a caveat to explain my morose tone, I write this at the beginning of January, two days after learning that my dad’s cousin, who was like an aunt to me, lost her 7 year battle to breast cancer. And all that I can do is cry out. Oh Lord, why? Where’s your hope? Where is your peace? Can you please comfort us?

Can We Approach 2013 with Child-like Innocence?

Can We Approach 2013 with Child-like Innocence?

I can’t help but believe that we need God more than ever now. We need more good news. More good stories. Stories of hope and life. Stories to help us remember that the news isn’t so bleak and that we’re going to make it through this dark season.

 Hear our cry, oh Lord and grant us hope and grace to love despite the evil in this world.

On a cold (for California) night when we’re just ten days into the new year, dare I hope that joy is still here? Dare I pray for God to show up in the midst of all of this? Dare I not?! I have to cling. Because clinging is all I really know how to do to cope with all which seems overwhelming.

Hebrews says it best: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”

Unswerving. That means to hold on tight no matter what. When the waves are high, when the outlook is bleak. When my soul is downtrodden. When bad things happen to good people. When trying seems pointless. When effort feels wasted. When people die. When the unexpected happens and the healthy become sick. When love is lost. When jobs don’t pan out. When I’m feeling alone and unsure. I hope. I cling.

Help us now, God. We need you. 

So I dare to hope that 2013 is a year of adventure and newness. I hope for a rebirth. I hope for love. I hope for new beginnings and fresh starts. To put behind what was and to hold tight to the hope that I have not yet seen. I hope for good finishes to things I’ve completed and many moments where I’m able to release the breath I’ve had all pent-up in my throat so that I can find peace. With myself. With my life. With death. And with God.

Amen. 

Hope On A LilypadAnd so the whole prayer, we say again slowly, hopefully, and together: Oh Lord, you know us so well. You know when we sit and when we rise. You perceive all of our thoughts from afar. You know this season that we are in where it is hard to see the good amidst all of the pain. You know all of our suffering. Comfort the needy. Bring peace to the anxious. Hear our cry, oh Lord and grant us hope and grace to love despite the evil in this world. Help us now, God. We need you. Amen. 

 

 

 

Using Social Media Passive Aggressively To Veil Our True Emotions, My Foot In The Mouth Disease, or Part 2: Love is Kind

27 Jul

Love is kind.

Try it! You won’t be sorry.

It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Love is kind? Of course it is. But it’s much harder to live it out, especially when you suffer from foot-in-the-mouth disease like I so often do. Sometimes I think my emotions have more of a reign on my tongue than they ought, and I want to stop myself from blurting out something that comes straight from my frustration or texting my confusion or emailing my pain.  Instead I act before I think and in turn have to go back to the person and apologize. It’s painful. It’s humbling. I’ve had to do it a lot lately. I’m not done yet.

Love is kind.  If I love people, than why can’t I be kind?

Love is kind. Even when I don’t feel like it.

 Love is kind when I’m not.  

When I screw up, because love is kind, I know my friends won’t ever get to the point where they won’t talk to me again.  I know that apologizing for the ways in which I wasn’t kind will likely be in my future and grace will need to be given to me due to the fact that I have a short term memory about what love is.

Love is kind but not on Facebook this week. I don’t know what is going on but a bunch of people are on the rampage. I’m not sure why everyone is getting so upset.  For a place that’s supposed to be about social connection, it’s more like social destruction. People are spouting political and ideological opinions and even those I agree with are starting to get a little vocal it’s definitely starting to get old.

 

Is it ever a good idea to have a political debate on Facebook? Is it ever loving to tell people you’re “friends” with that they are totally wrong, crazy, and off-base via the cowardly veil of social media? If we really want to have a political debate and talk about the issues rather than agreeing to digital finger pointing, why not do it in person? Are we too lazy to be kind?

It’s not kind to hate people, but it may be easier than loving them.

 

No where in 1 Corinthians does it say “Love is easy. It’s painless. It’s going to make you feel good all of the time. Most of the time when you love, you’re going to think that it’s so simple and fabulous that you’ll want to do it all of the time. Love is the road more traveled. It’s what everyone chooses all of the time.” Um, no. I wish it said that sometimes but it doesn’t. Kindness comes with a price.

People sometimes think I’m crazy when I say that loving people is harder than hating them. I think it’s easy to shift blame, let anger sit until it becomes bitterness, displace it, and let it grow until it manifests itself into  full-fledged yelling and pictures of your support or boycott of a fast food restaurant on your Facebook page. Or maybe it looks like a smear campaign of your least favorite political candidate. Or name calling. Or something worse.

But getting back to the point of this…love is supposed to be kind. I know I haven’t been as kind as I want to be this week. I’ve shifted blame, gotten mad, let my anger boil over into words I didn’t mean, passive aggressiveness, conversations I knew should not be had via phone, Facebook, texting, etc.

But guess what? Love is STILL kind.  Do you know how I know this? Because of stories like this where victims of tragedies can forgive people who tried to kill them.

I might not always be kind, but I’m so thankful that Love is.  And I’m thankful that God,  the lover of our souls, our creator and our sustainer invented love and kindness.

Proverbs 18:21 in The Message says: Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.

Can we just remember that before we say something we don’t mean, post our opinion and broadcast it to 500 of our friends, get angry without realizing the deeper emotion behind it?

Are you hurting? Do you feel unheard? Are you lonely, bored, angry, tired, or hungry? I actually started asking myself these questions lately before I react and it’s helped. So I think twice more than I used to before reacting. And in moments I don’t, there is grace.

Thank God, there is grace.

What Veruca Salt, That Guy Who Cut Me Off In Traffic, And My “I Want” Syndrome Have Taught Me About Love

23 Jul

Love is patient.

Wait until the clock strikes 12.

I’ve been reading a lot about love this week. It’s funny because at this prayer series we’re doing at church, we’re studying 1 Corinthians and I was asked to read 1 Corinthians 13 aloud to everyone in the group. I smirked.  This was a week after being inundated with everyone’s opinions about what “love” is everywhere I go. Through a new song from one of my favorite band’s (Stars), I’ve heard “Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It.” Or, from another song introduced to me by Love and Respect Now, I’ve been pondering the question, how do we not idolize romantic love or the thought of feeling known in community? (Another blog to come).

Or, another idea of love from one of my favorite ministries, The Living Room:

“Love is more than words spoken from our mouths. It must be lived out in the patterns and actions of our lives.”

According to the Bible, to love means to be patient. I find that interesting that it’s mentioned as the first characteristic of love. Maybe because patience is so difficult for us?

Patient is: “bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.”

Two of my favorite kids wait in anticipation for a wedding ceremony their father is performing to begin.

Wow, I can honestly say I haven’t figured this out yet. At all. I want what I want and I want it now. I want people to know me, I want things to work the way I want, I want my boyfriend to read my mind, I want work to be fulfilling, I want to live happily ever after, I want my friends to think I’m awesome, I … I want, I want, I want. And NOW.  (On bad days, I’m kind of like that girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who wants the golden goose.) My “I wants” have become insatiable of late… More food, sleep, time with loved ones, meaningful moments, recognition at work.

Waiting isn’t easy, as I’ve mentioned here before. It’s tough and most of the time, I fail at it. But I’m learning. Last week in traffic I didn’t swear at all when I got cut off! It was a small victory, considering a few weeks ago I actually made my hand into fist and almost raised it yelling something about picking a lane and the fact that driving a Ferarri under 60 on the freeway should be illegal.

Who would want to hang out with this girl? Thus, learning patience is a top priority.

So what about this patience? What does it look like? Here’s what I think:

-It looks like waiting for an unfulfilled dream even if you doubt you can muster even a little seed of hope.

-It looks like being patient with a child that has overwhelmed you, when you’re tired beyond belief.

-It looks like trusting that although you might not be in your dream job, you can keep praying and actively looking without just jumping into something else without cause.

-It is not putting the cart before the horse in romantic love, letting a relationship grow and develop. Trusting that with patience, much will be revealed at the perfect time.

-It’s about not trying to have control, but instead giving ample time to those who might not go as fast whether that be in traffic or in life.

-Patience means hearing someone else out, not interrupting, not needing to be first. Having it not be all about me and instead letting others shine even when I have the bright idea first.

-Patience is sacrificial. It might mean not getting your own way. It could look like delayed gratification (another area I struggle with) or believing that something good could come out of the time spent.

-Patience could mean acceptance that things have not gone the way you’ve planned. Getting back up when you’ve fallen and trying again, knowing that you’re not quite there yet, but you’re getting closer.

-For me right now, patience means knowing that I don’t have all of the answers and that question marks are okay for now. It’s being aware of the fact that I’m in limbo in some areas. It’s not trying to force a false sense of closeness or intimacy with friends, family, community, or in close relationships, but instead letting them play out and being present to a greater reality that I am not in control.

If patience is an action, I may have a lot to learn. So in those moments when I feel the need to control or give up or move too fast or break down, I stop. I ask the question, am I being patient right now? And I remember that I’ve grown in this. There is grace for me. I’m not perfect. I don’t have to somehow master patience. But I can move closer to trust. And to a God who knows me and my impatience and loves me anyway.

What about you? Do you think love is patient? How has this played out in your life recently?  Feel free to leave a comment. 🙂 I’ll be continuing this series on what love is in the coming days.

New Beginnings…

14 Jun

Change can be good. Especially when it’s done with friends at your side!

It’s June.  Almost the summer solstice that I am about to mark yet again. I’m in a different space this year than last.  Rather than heartbroken, I’m giddy. Rather than stuck, I’m exploring.  Rather than holding tightly, I’m along for the ride. There have been so many changes over the past 10 weeks that I don’t completely know how to process them.

New JobPrayers answered. I’m on the brink of something really great here at my new job. Here I get to interact with a whole new set of people. I’m working for four men instead of two women, and that dynamic is definitely interesting. Rather than talking breast pumps and pregnancy, I schedule lunches and people in suits who want to meet with my 4 bosses. I dream in Outlook calendars rather than T-ball games. I work in one of the most well-known cities in the world versus a tucked away town outside of LA that doesn’t want to be discovered.  I drive through Koreatown, downtown, and midtown to get here. It takes awhile and I’m trying to get used to the drive.

But in the midst of this change is a promise. That I could be about to be a part of something bigger. Something forming in me since I was 15 years old and first started to date. That maybe all of these relationships that I’ve had, all of the gamut of emotions – the turmoil, the hope, the loss, the fear, the anger, the sadness, the deep love I’ve longed for, the letting go, the breaking off, the taking a breath, the serial monogamy, the years on my own when I really started to grow into who God has made me to be…maybe all of that will come to a much bigger purpose than I ever imagined. After all, I work at a company that is all about dating.  We’ll see. Like I said, along for the ride…

 

New Move– Not me, my parents. It’s sad to see your family leave. A year and a half ago, all three of them were here. We had automatic plans on Sunday holidays. At Christmas. Birthdays. While my parents aren’t going far and they’ve done this before, I can’t seem to help but think this is a sad end to a California dream. They are excited to move to AZ, but at the same time, I’m wrestling again with what “home” means to me.  More movement. More shifts. When I got so good at sitting still and listening, people around me, even my own body is being forced to move. To grow. To change and shift. It feels uncertain and yet I am reminded to trust, once again.

 

Taking pictures when you don’t have a photographer

New Possibilities – I’d be remiss to not say something in this about the change I’ve experienced in the last 10 weeks due to a special someone. J How do I even explain what it means to suddenly have someone in your life who wants to know you and grow with you in what you’re going through? In the midst of all of this craziness and change, I met a guy that I am quite excited about. Not because he’s the same, but because he’s different. From me, from the others I’ve dated in the past, and from some of the preconceived expectations that I’ve had for the next guy I would date.  He’s solid, he has a great character, he loves Jesus. He’s a Sunday school teacher and a welder.  He’s introverted, I’m not.  He’s funny, but gentle.  He gets me even when I have trouble getting myself.

 

It’s early, I know. I’m doing my best to take my own advice and date in community, take risks when I’m fearful , go slow and trust God with it all. After all, the timing in this seems too strange to be me trying to force a relationship.  I met him in April during my 3 day church-wide fast. I had just led a chapter in life group about trusting God.  And here’s the crazy thing: I met him on Christian Mingle, the dating site where I also now work!  I didn’t know I would meet him. I didn’t know I would get this job. I am just along for the ride and all of these new beginnings!  Thanks, God, for hearing my prayers during the fast. Things haven’t been the same since in so many ways and I’m thankful.

How Do I Stop Being Awkward Around The Person I Used To Date Or Around The Person They Are Dating Now? Part 1

2 Mar

standing out (Photos by Brian Hershey)

Okay here’s the reality. I have in no way mastered not being awkward. I’m not even sure the awkwardness is “supposed to” go away completely. I’m currently in the process of figuring out what it means to co-exist with someone I’ve dated in the same community when they have started dating someone else and I’m single.

I can say this, it is a lot easier when both people who used to date are dating new people.

I know that if I was dating right now, I probably wouldn’t be thinking nearly as much about this topic as I am right now.

Part of me feels really good about my circumstances because something about it feels as if I’m supposed to be here writing this. I’m at the same coffee shop where, a year ago, I was talking about dating in community with a woman in my church who was on the same page as I am. It was just the beginning of this whole process. I was learning how to grieve well, let go, and learn to survive the messyness of sacrificial love. And despite the messyness, my community has grown. I have grown. Maybe you’ve grown? Because of that, I’m not sorry to be sitting here.

being the bigger flower

Let’s backtrack so I can give a little back story.

I was immature and terrible  at breaking up and staying in community. The first time I dated someone in community, he ended up leaving the church where we both went, so I was let off the hook. I was sad about it, but mostly relieved. I felt entitled. I claimed all of our mutual friends for myself. Some of my friends questioned this but I was young and didn’t really understand breakups except for the fact that they sucked and that my pain seemed unbearable which made it the most important thing in my mind.

The next time I broke up in community I was a little older and it happened right before I moved to Washington DC for an awesome internship. I didn’t have to face the reality of the situation until four months later upon my return. That was a huge wake up call. I don’t remember the exact details except that I again tried to claim friends and they felt awkward about it. I didn’t understand that there didn’t have to be sides. It wasn’t me vs him and he wasn’t my enemy. We just both got to a place where we realized that it wasn’t going to work. We weren’t bad people, we were just bad together. But when he started bringing a girl around to all of the community activities we used to do together that all went out the window and I was totally devastated.

I took it VERY personally. I was single, he was moving on. I could not accept it. I tried to be in community with him and his new girlfriend but ultimately, I left the church for a breather and never went back. Not ideal. We later ended up reconciling and I apologized to both of them for my behavior. While we’re not  friends now, it’s not because I don’t want the best for them.  They ended up getting married but before their wedding I emailed him wishing him my best. If I saw them out and about, I probably would say hi and it would be fine. Again though, I had to go through quite a process to get to that place.

The most recent time that I broke up in community has been by far the hardest. But I’ve grown the most. This time leaving the community has not been an option. I have good, solid friends (pretty much family) that I wouldn’t want to leave. He is a leader in our community and won’t leave unless an act of God calls him away.

So I had to make a choice.

I either had to put my big girl britches on and learn how to do this gracefully OR  fight it tooth and nail and repeat my same mistakes. (This blog has been one of the ways that I’ve been able to process this.) And so we come to the awkwardness. I’m not going to sugar-coat this for you. Breaking up in community is probably one of the most painful things I’ve ever had to go through. In fact, I stayed in relationships way too long just to avoid it.

I. Hate. Breakups.

And not just mine but my friends’. My friends of friends. They just aren’t the way things are meant to be. It should be easier. But sometimes it’s just plain hard…and awkward. We’ll get into that in Part 2.

Stay tuned…

Finding Hope and Writing Contests

11 Jan

Hello, Readers!

My friend, Kristin Ritzau, who I have mentioned here before recently relaunched her blog, “A Beautiful Mess.” She asked that members of the community contribute to it and of course I said I would write an entry! The topic for the winter is “Finding Hope.”

It was a challenge, but I found a way to write about where I’m at with hope these days! (Click above to read my story)!

Also, I’ve recently submitted a piece to The Write Practice as part of a contest. I’m hoping you will go and read my essay “The Summer Tease” and “Like” it! There were 40 entries and the guy who writes the blog is trying to narrow down the ones he reads and I’d like him to read mine! 🙂 Thanks!!

Tootsie Pops, Waiting, The Real Story of the Cement Truck, and A Return from Tanzania

17 Dec

I don’t do New Years resolutions. For recovering perfectionists like myself, resolutions turn into “should haves” and “should haves” turn to guilt which soon becomes regret. So I don’t do that. Instead, every year, for the past three years, I’ve picked a word that will define that new year for me. Just one word. This year’s is JOY. And if you’re a regular reader, you know what I’ve learned about joy over the past 12 months.

However, instead of pondering about it too much, my word for 2012 came early.

The Roddys before the retreat

It was November. The culmination of a lot of things for me. I go on an annual young adult retreat every year at this time. I have a birthday, usually an occasion in and of itself. Thanksgiving happens. And this year two great friends, Liz and Shannon Roddy, came back after being gone for a year and a half in Tanzania, Africa serving at Wild Hope International. Oh how I had waited for them. In the midst of life I would often say aloud and yet rhetorically, “Liz and Shannon should be here, don’t you think?” At first it was a sad addition to whatever memorable moment my friends and I were having at the time. Then it became a joke to those who know me well. Before I could even say it, my roommate would see the sad look on my face as my forehead wrinkled, my head turned down, and my eyes filled slightly with tears and she would ask, “What, I’m not good enough? Just kidding. I know. Liz and Shannon should be here.”

But they weren’t. For a year and a half (despite the fact that they were doing amazingly awesome things and growing a ton), they missed birthdays, Christmases, milestones.  My breakup, my roommate’s new promotion to pastoral staff, that time I took a missions trip to the Czech republic, births of babies, deaths of people within our church, small moments, big moments. There’s only so much you can relay over Skype. They missed a lot. And I missed them. Waiting, waiting for their arrival back into my life.

When I saw their faces for the first time, I remembered what it was like to have complete  joy return. I hugged them and jumped up and down, probably waking up all of my sleeping neighbors as we lugged their bags into my apartment. Finally. They. Were. Here. And they were in the same room as me, breathing the same air, cracking jokes and able to engage with us without the screen freezing or the power going out. We laughed. We realized how much we had changed. And how much we were still the same.

I found in the time that they were visiting us that I wanted everything to go faster. Maybe it was a hold over from the year and a half of waiting. I wanted to catch them up on everything, hear their stories, and live the life that had been missed by all of us for the past 18 months.

This urgency culminated on our way to the young adult retreat. I was so used to waiting that I didn’t want to wait anymore. I wanted us to BE there. So when our car got stuck behind a cement truck going 20 MPH on a mountain road, I got irate.

The rest of the car thought I was crazy with impatience. I kept yelling at the truck to move over.  He wouldn’t move. Every turn was torture. Every place he could pull over, he refused. Finally, what seemed like hours later, the truck slowly found its way to the shoulder. (My roommate swears it was only 30 seconds that we were stuck behind the truck). After my irrational behavior, everyone else in the car was convinced I needed to settle down. But I didn’t.

I kept being impatient.

And suddenly like that, the Roddys were gone again. The card games, the night at the Lawry’s Steak House with Liz, the pool sharking she and I had done at the retreat, the spiritual conversations. It all went by in a flash.

We're such pool sharks! We were on a roll!

Even in this season of advent. I’m ready for New Year’s. I want to skip through Christmas because I don’t feel like it’s Christmas. I want to get to the good part of the story, the chocolate dipped cone at the bottom of the ice cream drumstick, the Tootsie Roll in the center of the Tootsie Pop.

It’s in the quiet moments I realize that I need to wait. For what, I don’t know. Maybe a whisper. Maybe an answer? Maybe just silence. Yet there is something pushing me forward. I don’t know what it is. I don’t want to miss this chance to wait, though. I know in my heart the greatest gift the world has ever seen is coming soon. And in my impatience, I may miss Him. And that would be a great tragedy.

As I was contemplating waiting this past week, I heard this in a poem by Issac Wimberly in spoken word form that makes me want to be a better wait-er.

This groaning was growing, generation after generationKnowing He was holy, no matter what the situationBut they longed for HimThey yearned for HimThey waited for Him on the edge of their seatOn the edge of where excitement and containment meetThey waitedLike a child watches out the window for their father to return from work—they waitedLike a groom stares at the double doors at the back of the church—they waited

And in their waiting, they had hope

Hope that was fully pledged to a God they had not seen

To a God who had promised a King

A King who would reign over the enemy

Over Satan’s tyranny

They waited

Wow. People waited YEARS for Jesus. 400 years. And I get all upset about a cement truck and a year and a half without my friends. Despite all my wanting the best for people, I can still get upset about still being single while others are getting engagement rings and sonograms. Perspective shift, much after hearing this poem/spoken word? Yeah. Definitely. I can wait. And in the moments I can’t, I will learn. I will hope that despite the fact that things don’t work out exactly the way I planned that there still is a plan. And in that hope I can believe that the lyrics to the song I heard recently by Jesus Culture are true. “I have a plan for you/ It’s gonna be wild/It’s gonna be great/It’s gonna be full of Me.”

So because of this, this next year will be the year that I will learn to wait. Patience: my word for 2012.

What Do Breakups, The Question of Why, and Adele Have To Say To Us?

12 Dec

me asking why in my younger years

I’m sitting here on my couch and outside it’s pouring rain. It’s 10AM and I’m supposed to be at work. I can’t work. I’m too busy listening to Adele’s “Someone Like You” which rivals James Blunt’s “Goodbye, My Lover” for one of the saddest breakup songs in the world, in my opinion. As Adele croons, “sometimes it lasts in love and sometimes it hurts instead,” I get it. Oh how I get it. I’m here again. At the end of something and yet at a new beginning. An opportunity? I am faced with the question of “What am I going to do about this?” Perhaps you’ve been there too. Something you wanted to work out didn’t. A relationship ended. A job turned out to not be what you’d hoped. A friend chose to not be your friend in a moment you really needed them to.  So many other times when maybe you’ve been disappointed or felt sad about something not going the way you wanted. Oh how I know this.

Yesterday morning I sat on a bench at this children’s memorial park near my house and it read, “Every exit is an entrance to something else.” Those words are true but I wish they weren’t. I don’t want to exit. I liked it.

How many times have these words been true for me before? I even wrote last week that you have to let go of something to create space for something new.  I believe that. Part of me doesn’t want to let go though. It was so good for such a short time. Why? Why are things the way they are? Why does love last sometimes and sometimes it hurts instead? WHY?!

Simultaneously, I’m also being asked to live out what I’ve been talking about on this blog for the better part of a year.  I am currently watching friends date and break up in community and then date again. It’s so painful to watch sometimes. It’s tricky to navigate friendships with people, walk the line, and then have your words to them about sacrificial love suddenly apply to you.  I’m finding now that I have to step up and practice what I’ve preached in a new and difficult way. It’s really awkward. It stings. If I’m honest, I don’t want to do it and I resist, especially yesterday fresh off my own painful experience. Why? Why now? Why is this happening? What’s with the timing?

“Why” is a dangerous question because it can suck you in to a pit that is almost impossible to get out of. The reality is, we don’t often know why. If I spend my time asking why then I’m probably missing the point. There aren’t always reasons for things that we can see from our position. In time, the why’s might be answered but if I spend all of my time wondering why then I could be wasting it when I could be moving forward. Instead I want to look back and remember all of the ways in which God has been faithful to me in my life. The times He has showed up in my darkest hour.

I was praying this morning. I felt like I should read Psalm 116 aloud. It’s actually really encouraging and perfect.  Here’s a portion:

For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.

Beaches are the number one place where I process questions. Here's one in North Carolina I visited

And then I remember. Yes, he has done these things! And he will do them again. He helped me walk among the land of the living.  I have walked. And wallowing in my why’s didn’t help. I just had to keep walking one step at a time trusting that that would be enough. In thinking about my past, it has been enough.

If you had told me a year ago that people would be dating partially because of my words on this blog and through life, I would have laughed at you. If you had told me that I would be advocating for my friends to date the people I’ve dated before, I would not have believed you. But here we are. And I don’t know why. But what I do know is this: Our God cares about us. I know this because he cares about me. He sees me in this dark hour. He loves me when I don’t love myself. He knows my own shortcomings. He knows why so that I don’t have to. All I have to do is trust that he knows. Easier said than done, but then I remember his faithfulness this last year in my own life. I see it in the life of my friends who have faced their own sad endings but still choose to walk in the land of the living. I see it in the success stories. I remembered it when I saw the look on my friend’s face yesterday as her baby was getting dedicated and thought about how faithful God was after the traumatic birth. I don’t know why things happen. I don’t have an answer to Adele’s song about why sometimes love lasts and why it hurts instead. But instead of asking why, I will choose to trust that God is good. And that’s all I can do today.

I Say Goodbye And You Say Hello – Dating, Letting Go, And The Messyness In Between

28 Nov

I sat there on that beach all alone, no one watching except for God.  I cried out and let myself breathe for the first time in weeks. Tears came streaming out of my eyes, my nose was running everywhere. I knew that it was finally time to let go. It had almost been a year. I’d held on too long. I’d told everyone I knew about cutting soul ties and how essential it was to the grieving process and yet here I was, still holding on to a ghost of a relationship. A “what could have been.” A “why didn’t it work?” A “but if only I didn’t do this.” And the more realistic thoughts followed: “Well we did fight a lot” and “I did spend a lot of time trying really hard to make it work.” Reality set in. It didn’t work. It hadn’t worked. He didn’t come back no matter how hard I prayed and maybe deep down I knew he wasn’t supposed to. And so, here I was, by myself on this beach a year later. I was okay. I really was okay. I’d made it through the worst thanks to God and the support of my family and friends. I’d grieved. I’d had a lot of conversations with people who loved me well through my sadness. I’d taken leaps forward and steps back. I’d survived awkward encounters and messy interactions. Our mutual community had loved us well as individuals despite it all. I’d respected him. I’d loved him from a distance. I’d acted out of what I knew to be true, not just my feelings about the situation and it served me well. And now I needed to say goodbye for once and for all.

I didn’t want to let go of my ghost, but it had become a safety net. Less scary than facing the unknown or letting some stranger I didn’t know into my heart just to wonder if it would happen all over again. 

Sometimes dating makes you feel like this. Everyone else has it all figured out and is enjoying themselves while you're standing in the shadows.


But here’s the thing about dating and I say this a lot. It’s risky. RISKY. Sometimes you just don’t know. You’re not sure if it’s going to end. You’re not sure even as it’s beginning. Somehow, some way, it just starts happening. It’s like a roller coaster. You don’t know where you’re at or where he or she is at. Some moments you’re floating on air and the next you feel like you’re going to throw up.

When you get to that point to where it’s time to have a conversation about your feelings, you’re afraid you could ruin everything. But that’s where the trust comes in. That’s when it’s time to realize that this “relationship” or whatever it is isn’t totally up to you. Yes, you can do your part and be open. You can be vulnerable and flirty and fun. You can give it a chance. You can enjoy the ride. But at some point, just as in the grieving process when I realized that I couldn’t do it on my own and that I needed help, I realized that too about dating.

Dating is a risk because there are no guarantees.

We like to create our little safe havens complete with security blankets and we hold on to the illusion that we are in control of our dating lives. We think that if someone says the right thing or does something in the exact way that we hope that somehow that will make the stars align and everything will work out just the way we want it to.  The reality is, we are in control of our own feelings and actions but that still may not equal a relationship working out the way we’d hoped. We can do everything “right” and it still may not work. All the good physical boundaries in the world can’t solve a relationship problem when the relationship just isn’t working.

So what then? My answer? Simply this: Let go. What? LET GO. It’s not up to us. It’s up to the loving and all-powerful, all-knowing God who created us and knows our stories better than we know ourselves. He can soothe our anxieties. He will calm our fears. When we don’t know what to do, we can look to God and he will help us remember to breathe again.

Dating can also feel like a balancing act. Kind of like this.

(Now a side note. I don’t want to come off sounding like a bitter woman who looks at dating as if we’re walking on mouse traps about to get set off if we take one wrong step. That’s not what I’m saying. I am saying it’s going to take courage to put yourself out there. It’s going to take you trusting God in the tricky spots when you don’t feel like it. It’s going to take getting out of your comfort zone and allowing yourself to realize that without the risk, you’ll be sitting home for a lot more Saturday nights wondering why you’re alone. I’m not saying that we’re all in charge of our own dating destinies, but in a way, I suppose I am. Are you putting yourself out there with people you don’t know? What about with people you do know who you may not have considered before now? Have you just written everyone off and become bitter? Nothing makes me more sad in the context of dating in community when someone has just given up and resigned that no one will ask them out or that no one will say yes and they just stop trying. That’s sad. What if you start to see yourself differently than that? What would that look like? Sidenote over)

So there I was. On the beach. Crying my eyes out. Knowing I had to let go but not really knowing how. And that’s when I started to write a letter to the guy I had dated. Well, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t just to him. It was to all the guys I dated who I’d never taken the time or who I had been to scared to let go of. Now I’d written the anger letter (never sent it). I wrote the sad letter (didn’t send that either). It was time for the goodbye letter that I’d written ten times without finishing. The one that I was afraid to think about because I knew it would mean that I would have to say goodbye for once and for all. But I knew I was ready. I wrote my letter. I cried a lot during it. I prayed, too. I asked God to take away the soul tie and break it. That didn’t mean that I would forget. I asked for forgiveness in the letter. I also forgave him for the ways in which he’d hurt me. Then I pictured myself reading him the letter. I addressed him. I talked to him during the reading of the letter. I cried. I told him why I had to let go and I told him how unbelievably sad I was that it hadn’t worked out between us. I even said something my very profound friend had mentioned to me when I was cleaning my room out to repaint it. I said, “I need to create space in my heart for something good to come into my life. I have to let you go to create that space.” It was the scariest thing I had done on the entire journey. Creating space for something good to come along. Trusting that there would be something else. Something better. I was trusting that God had something better for me than a life spent wandering in the desert for any longer.

Taken just days before a relationship I was in ended in 2005. Oh how glad I am now! And yet this picture, despite the meaning it used to have to me, actually reminds me of how God delivered me from that situation into others. Now I know He will do it again! He never lets go...

So here I am. Trusting again. That God is good. That he has something better for my future. Knowing that dating is risky, I still embark upon the journey. Because those sweet moments when you connect with someone through a look or have a new and unexpected adventure or learn to let someone into your heart again are worth it. Dating is worth it. It might be risky but it’s awfully fun and who knows who you’ll meet along the way? 🙂

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