Thursday, September 22, 2016

Treasures from the summer - pt 2

When my birthday came around this June my sweet friends and I headed out for my usual (by usual I mean 2nd annual) birthday dinner. This time they surprised me with wonderful book selections off of my "buy me a book" board on Pinterest. I also scored some itunes money which I LOVE. I discovered a new band this summer called the Staves. Three sisters making sweet harmony. Secular but not fluffy; somewhere between folk and indie rock. I dig them. Anywhoo, one of the books chosen was the Christianity Today book of the year for 2015 written by Jen Pollock Michel and it is titled teach us to want.  By page 18 I was folding corners and calling my sister. I got the sense this book could be life altering in the way a conversion experience is. You just don't see things the same way after. Sometimes a book does that. Sticks to your insides like oatmeal. The funny thing is I started it on vacation, got about 50 pages in and haven't picked it up again. This is going to be the triumph of my fall if I can finish this book with due diligence. It provides these amazing soul searching questions that I get mad at the minute I read them because I don't have a small group to hash them out with. I CRAVE lively discussion over these matters. It is basically a practical theology of desire. While I still haven't gotten farther in the book (fall starts tomorrow people, I've got time to meet my goal) I have been working my way through Beth Moore's book Audacious. Again, I find themes weaving and paralleling through the books I've been dabbling in. One of the main things is the idea of maintaining a stillness of soul and body in the swirl of everyday life. Here I come across the idea so precious from Gift of the Sea  in my current book Teach us to Want :
    "I want to write, I am also a fixed point in my spinning sphere of domesticity. There are lunches to pack, dinners to plan, socks to pair. There are carpool obligations and clarinet lessons. My pressing responsibilities as wife and mother will not be ignored. Neither, however, will the petulance of writing be eternally put off. Like Madeleine L'Engle, who reflects in Circle of Quiet about the inevitable tug-of-war between her artistic life and her domestic one, I feel fragmented between my two lives, torn by a reflexive self-recrimination when I want, even need, to create space for the quiet work of reading and writing."
 Again I come across this idea of needing solitude and of having a creative work that feeds you.
 Now here is a funny thing. Last year I read the wrinkle in time trilogy for the first time and LOVED it. There are like ten more books in the same series I need to get around to and now that I know the author has one about herself and her writing process I'm inspired to get ALL of them on the hold list at the library. Of course that is a pipe dream because now that school is in full swing I barely have a MINUTE to even sit down and write this! Still, very excited to read Circle of Quiet down the road. Tied to the solitude idea is what? The aspect of desire. Here we find the intersection between Jen and Beth's books. I can't wait to see how Jen applies what I've read in the beginning of her book to practical life and our own desires, (for better or worse) but the essence so far is this: to be human is to desire.
  It is primal and for Jen it meets the road of faith here: "The gospel of Jesus Christ meets our holy hesitations about desire, without eliminating the tension or minimizing the dangers, yet suggesting it can be reformed." Newness of life through faith in Christ can also mean newness in desire. God promised through the prophet Ezekial, "I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them." So. What do we do with want/desire? Is there any precedent for a desire that is holy?  If I believe in a creative God that fashioned me in His image than desire must have a function and a purpose, yes? First I offer this from Beth's book as a starting ground for talking about desire. It is what I personally have been ruminating on. While it might seem off topic the first quote speaks to my current state of being.
    "Many of our perils are deeply personal and out of public sight. We've each faced situations and circumstances we were not sure we could emotionally survive."
   On my worst of days that is currently where I am at. Knowing that, I am humbled by the next quote "He knows the immensity of the treasures He tucked away down inside of us in a place that can only be tapped by turmoil. God knows precisely how He has gifted us and to what unfathomable degree He empowered us through His own Holy Spirit. He knows the minutest detail how thoroughly He has equipped us. God cannot be conned. He requires no proof to quell His own curiosity. Confusion is human, not divine. God knows exactly how real or pretentious our faith is. But we don't. That's the thing. Neither do the people in our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our social environments, or our spheres of influence. Neither do angels or demons.. . .God tests us to bring out the real in us. For Crying out loud, He tests us to prove us genuine to ourselves, the last ones to usually know!"
     Here Beth addresses the fallback that I usually turn to when trying to work out my own salvation. . ."Discipline won't do this for us. Discipline can make us more Christlike but it cannot make us love Christ more. We will never love Him just because we need to. We will only love Him audaciously because we want to." -It was after this line I had penciled in "DESIRE". Finally, she just says it straight out. "WE were created out of divine desire FOR divine desire. God did not fashion us from the dust because He needed us. He created us because He wanted us." and again "God's will is DRIVEN by desire". Here I have penciled in teach us to want . Over and over these books have connected dots for me. Beth exhorts that we have been created and called according to His will. "He who desires us longs for us to desire Him" she says.  I am blown away to look at all humanity in that light. They are right. Discipline does not replace desire. Desire is not utterly destroyed by sin, but retains it's divine motivational force, and lastly, I can ask for more.  Faith and desire are not mutually exclusive. "I believe, help my unbelief" said the grieving father in the scriptures. We know what's true but we desire to experience it, to be immersed in it, and to more deeply understand it. . .through all the seasons of life.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

treasures from the summer - pt. 1

I'd love to share a little from the heart if I may. Family dynamics as usual are pushing me to examine myself. I have never been one to keep a journal. I have a few solid months of writing through each pregnancy just because it was such a special time and I felt very motivated to remember it but each time it peters off and the full term is not represented. It's also very dreamy and silly seeming now, although I dare to hope it might be meaningful to the child it was written for at some point in their life. (If I ever give it to them!) Outside of those few times I have miserably failed to maintain a journal. Journaling is a practice I truly admire. It is like buried treasure, tucked away and known only to one until at some point it is dug up again and shared with all and the beauty takes your breath away. When I think of scripture in such a manner I marvel that I do not gobble it up so voraciously as I do my favorite autobiographies. However before I get on a rabbit trail I want to return to the point of this post. In the past I have treated this blog as a journal of sorts. A diary. At it's best I have created witty banter and a few heartfelt moments of wisdom.  But I have also aired frustrations with spouse and children, given anecdotal stories and snarky commentary on the everyday life of "moi", and got a little personal with the struggles we face. I love sharing the nitty gritty of family life because it is after all the most trans-formative thing a person can experience. I was discussing this issue with my sister the other day. Very badly did I want to lay some things out on the blog that are very personal to my family. It felt liberating to consider sharing our truth. Our story. MY STORY. There was however a gentle tugging on my conscience.  I took just a few days to pray a bit about it. This story was perfectly timed.
and gave me excellent food for thought. Ultimately I too, should be able to find things to write about from within and without that does not require sacrificing any aspect of family privacy or priviledge. Showing honor to my husband and children means respecting that their story is theirs. Will Blake, Trinity. or Isaac look back and thank me? I don't know, after all I've already written quite openly about them so maybe it's too late for that. In light of this change of heart, which I do believe is the better part of wisdom for the time being, I am left with only myself to offer as the open book. Can I share a few gems with you that have spoken to me over the past couple of months? Early in the summer I began Gift from the Sea. A wonderful little book by Mrs. Lindbergh. Yes, that Lindbergh. She had this to offer and I was in desperate need of it. . . .
"For it is the spirit of woman that is going dry, not the mechanics that are wanting. Mechanically woman has gained in the past generation. Certainly in America, our lives are easier, freer, more open to opportunities, thanks among other things to the feminist battles. A room of ones own, the hour alone are now more possible in wider economic class than ever before. but these hard-won prizes are insufficient because we have not yet learned how to use them. The feminists did not look that far ahead; they laid down no rules for conduct. For them it was enough to demand the privileges. The exploration of their use, as in all pioneer movements, was left open to the woman who would follow. And woman today is still searching. We are aware of our hunger and needs but still ignorant of what will satisfy them. With out garnered free time, we are more apt to drain our creative springs than to refill them. With our pitchers, we attempt sometimes to water a field, not a garden. We throw ourselves indiscriminately into committees and causes. Not knowing how to feed the spirit, we try to muffle it's demands in distractions. Instead of stilling the center, the axis of the wheel, we add more centrifugal activities to our lives - which tend to throw us off balance. Mechanically we have gained, in the last generation but spiritually we have, I think, unwittingly lost. In other times, woman had in their lives more forces centered them whether or not they realized it; sources which nourished them whether or not they consciously went to these springs. Their vary seclusion in the home gave them time alone. Contemplative drawing together of the self. They had more creative tasks to perform. Nothing feed the  center so much as creative work, even humble kinds like cooking and sewing. Baking bread, weaving cloth, putting up preserves, reaching and singing to children, must have been far more nourishing than being the family chauffeur or shopping at supermarkets, or doing housework has diminished; much of the time-consuming drudgery - despite modern advertising to the contrary - remains. In housework, as in the the rest of life, the curtain of mechanization has come down between the mind and the hand.
 The church too, has always been a great centering force for women. Through what ages woman have had that quiet hour, free from interruption, to draw themselves together. No wonder woman has been the mainstay of the church. Here were the advantages of the room of her own, the time alone, the quiet, the peace, all rolled into one and sanctioned by the approval of both family and community. Here no one could intrude with a careless call, "Mother," "Wife," "Mistress," Here, finally and more deeply, woman was whole, not split into a thousand functions. She was able to give herself completely in that hour in worship, in prayer, in communion, and b completely accepted. And in that acceptance she was renewed; the springs were refilled.The church is still a great centering force for men and women, more needed than ever before - as its message as they used to be? Our daily life does not prepare us for contemplation. How can a single weekly hour of church, helpful as it may be, counteract the many daily hours of distraction that surround it? If we had our contemplative hour at home we might be readier to give ourselves at church and find ourselves more completely renewed. For the need for renewal is still there. The desire to be accepted whole, the desire to be seen as an individual, not as a collection of functions, the desire to give oneself completely and purposefully pursues us always, and has its part in pushing us into more and more distractions, illusory love affairs or the haven of hospitals and doctor's offices.
The answer is not in going back, in putting woman in the home and giving her the broom and the needle again. A number of mechanical aids save us time and energy. But neither is the answer in dissipating our time and energy in more purposeless occupations, more accumulations which supposedly simplify life but actually burden it, more possessions which we have the time to use or appreciate, more diversion to fill up the void. . .She will be shattered into a thousand pieces. On the contrary, she must consciously encourage those pursuits which oppose the centrifugal forces of today. Quite time alone, contemplation, prayer, music, a centering line of thought or reading, of study or work. It can be physical or intellectual or artistic, any creative life proceeding from oneself. It need not be an enormous project or a great work. But it should be something of one's own."

I pondered this passage for a few weeks. I resonate so much with it. We do have an "easier" life and yet we can't seem to pull ourselves together. There is a desperate need for solitude and it is near impossible to find it in the American culture. I feel it. I suffer from it.
Also the idea that church not be that one time we achieve the protected sacred space but rather the rest of the week I should practice what the church has long provided. Sanctuary. Even if only in my mind and heart. That axis of the wheel that must learn stillness while the rest of the moving parts spin around it.
That I should have something of my own. I really felt this as call to spend time in songwriting again. Perhaps as an act of devotion.
Also, I need to ditch facebook. . . . . . . ..... .

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Jersey Shore!

We had a great time at the Jersey Shore. So fun to introduce the kids to the nice warm Atlantic with it's beautiful beaches so unlike those of the pacific northwest. It was crazy hot and humid but we made the most of it. We got italian ices, went into Manhattan for a day, and went to the Jenkinsons Boardwalk. We also shared a wonderful dinner with Jeremy's partner Morris Tabush and his family. Travel went smoothly, our beach house was great, and it was nice to spend time just the five of us.