Lord I believe, help my unbelief.

"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

Isaiah 30:18-21

Sunday, June 17, 2012

keep your head up, keep your heart strong

One day, I will have written books and I will give them to you, and maybe you'll place them on your nightstand or in your study or maybe you'll give them to someone you know, who went through what I did and maybe that person will want to talk to me and maybe through that conversation they will heal. And I will heal with them all over again, because when we share our stories and someone stands there and says "me too", we heal, it's not even our choice, God is beautiful that way. And I'll walk with them as they learn to laugh again, because as often as you have heard this, it remains remarkably authentic, "laughter really is the best medicine". And there is no greater embrace than telling someone, it will be okay, because you honestly know it will be. You know it will hurt, but you know it will heal. And you will walk with them as they discover both of those things, and that will be beautiful as well. I've been writing off and on during my time here in Minnesota. Poetry, chapters of books, blog posts, journal entries, notes, on pages of books, everywhere. None of which will be shared for quite a while. I've sketched quite a bit too, but thrown every piece away, because sometimes, art is made to live for only a brief moment. Catering explicitly to the complexities of your heart and allowing you to breathe with greater ease as soon as it is far from your sight. However, in coming home I feel that I should give some sort of synopsis. So, in short, here are some share-able things that have wound themselves into my heart: 1. I am older. I am older in my face-in my hands, I am older. In my heart-in the way I make choices for my future. I am older. This last year has aged me and in a little while, I will look back and say that it made me wiser/stronger/more well rounded/(insert word that explains how God makes beauty from ashes here) too. After a running injury, I also now have to wear supportive shoes... I have zero choice in this matter and in this way, I am older too. And it makes me laugh and mourn my cute flats. 2. I am overly empathetic to anyone who is hurting. I am shockingly underly empathetic to anyone who is blandly sub-par all the time (to that person who constantly is just doing, "ok"). I'm not sure why I feel this way, and I'm trying to sort it out. But to anyone who is hurting, I am so sorry. I will hug you soon and let you cry, as long as you need to and I will not say, "shhhhh, don't cry". Because often what we really do need is a good cry and to not care about stopping. And I will make you a nice meal and we will just sit together, because just sitting together with a friend is something that I took for granted until I moved here and had no one to sit with. And to the person who is just "ok" all the time, Dude, you gotta make some different choices here. Cause pretty soon, that Eeyore cloud will swallow you whole and I'm tired of hearing you say, you're just doing ok and I will not be asking you how you are doing from now on. Instead, I will be constantly pushing you into puddles when you're wearing a nice outfit and bring you flowers and a chocolate espresso brownie (with blackberry filling and cream cheese frosting) out of the blue . I will do this so that you feel something more than just "ok". It is a sad thing to just feel "ok" all of the time, and I am sorry for that. But it is an even sadder thing to always have your nice outfits ruined by dirty rainwater. 3. I love Oregon. I love it with all my heart, and Lord willing, will die there. I have come to appreciate every aspect of nature God so carefully designed in that multifaceted state. I love that I can walk among waterfalls, cliffs, rivers, lakes and swim in their clarity. I did not know that I loved it this much, but now I do, and I am thankful for that. Also the water in general, tastes THE BEST in Oregon. Here... It tastes like licking an elderly person's face. 4. I guess I'm mostly a hippie and mostly a vegetarian. I have gone from being raised by hippies, to sort of pretending to be a hippie/everything else that my friends were in high school, to just straight up nature lover. I think more people knew that I was a hippie than I was. As quoted by my friend Crystal in describing me to someone, "she's like the biggest hippie I know". But it's funny because, I did not know this, until I lived in a town that considered Hummus, or salad with copious amounts of vegetables on it, an "exotic" food. (actual quote, from Craig, former video store co-worker). 5. I am so very small without community standing beside me. Interpret that however you want, whatever comes to your mind, is most likely true. More to come (hopefully!). In two weeks time, I'll begin to travel and travel and eventually, Lord willing make it back to Portland..... A big thank you to Ben Howard for encapsulating my Oregon arrival in song... keep your head up, keep your heart strong It's what I feel like when I see the faces of all the people that I love. Because friends I have been away, and most of you know the depth of what I am meaning. But it truly feels so good to see your faces and absorb the comfort that has been invested in my soul and the warmth of yours smiles, when you say, "I'm happy to have you home". Looking forward to the embrace. I am happy to be coming home.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Spamtown USA

Aight ya'll. Here's the scoop! On where I am, where I've been, and what's up ahead!

You've all heard correctly, I moved to Minnesota. And a lot of you are wondering... "Um, why?" Great question. I ask myself that same thing about 47 times a day. I think that as the days have gone by it's that number is potentially decreasing, but I don't know, yet cause today is the first time I counted, since you asked of course.

I felt like it was time to start settling into some sort of career. I've wanted to everything from teaching English, to working in an orphanage overseers, to opening up my own non-profit daycare for struggling moms. And... I've traveled. I've traveled all around the states and Europe and have loved it. I've gotten to intern at an amazing church and build lifelong relationships. I've gotten to live in Portland and go to a big University and experience college life, I've gotten to have a real adult job as a program manager in a beautiful life-changing organization where I saw lives completely restored and children healed. And through a series of events... I am where I am! My job title is Social/Emotional specialist. I work with 3-5 year olds making sure that they are socially and emotionally on track.

I wanted to finish school, but didn't want to take out loans, and after serving in Americorps for a year, they give you an education award which is about a $1,000 less than what it costs to attend Portland State University. So I figured, I would serve for a year, in a new place, gain some new skills, build the resume and then go back to school. And maybe by then, I would have the gusto and vision to finally get my degree. Yes, part of my slow education has been due to the fact that I have consistenly worked a full-time job and gone to school and kept up a solid social life. But the other factor that has stopped me from making the big commitment, is that I really didn't want to graduate with a degree that I wasn't going to use.

Austin, MN.
Population: 25,000ish
Otherwise known as: Spamtown, USA (Hormel headquarters)
Fun facts: It has a horrific smell (kudos Spam) about 50% of the time your outside. My neighborhood is called Taco Flats (I'll let you guess why). People here call lunch, dinner - and dinner, supper. There is one section of the one grocery store, that is organic, I live there. Truly, I live there. Everyone in Austin knows the one girl, with the green race car, that has the loud muffler, and everyone thinks she should get a ticket. In the 1980s there was huge strike at the Hormel factory, the strikers lost, and since then Hormel has brought in a lot of refugees from the Sudan.

I'll keep updating on life here. Please call, email, text me. Because, it is a bit lonely right now!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Are We Not These Paintings?

Are we not these paintings?

What I love about art 
is it's terrible beauty
The color and darkness
The joy and terror

It is full and empty
Breathtaking and oppressive

each piece hewn from the mind and soul of someone expressive
And I respect that 
Each demonstration  may not cause my deep exhalation
But, I respect that person, because they brought their heart, their life out into the open
Some moment born into the world caught their heart and as if they couldn't hold their fingers back from the brush.... They express.
and they are better for it, lighter
Because their expression releases them

And, I get that

Maybe it's the most terrible painting I've ever beheld....

But, I get it

Are we not those paintings?
Terrible, awful, brilliantly canvassed, framed so ornately, meticulously stroked and paint thrown at walls, sculpted of old doorknobs and fishing line

Are we not these sculptures?

Each standing in representation of some victory triumphant, some moment of failure or fault
Some time in their life filled with hope

And just like our humanity, I am drawn in or repelled

Because we all want to be known and exposed and for the layers of our hearts to be held and examined, looked on intentionally and with careful discretion
 We create, because we want to be known
We want Him to know, them to know
Show the world something

And who's to say what I think is beautiful is really so, 
Because it's constructed of this or that, looks this way, and is defined by me

I am not the creator or the judge of it's validity
I am my own piece 
I am splattered with every shade of blue 
I am carefully, violently and with pressed fingertips outlined in deep charcoal
My yellows shine behind the silhouette pushing my frame forward to the tip of this ledge, like stars hiding behind the night sky, begging to be released from the captivity of daylight

I am my own piece 
So is he 
So is she
So are they
How can you say we are not
How can each piece say to the other, you are not art, you are not beautiful, you are not created to be looked at, touched,
you cannot draw others in.

We are.

We are these paintings.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

use vinegar on your jeans

Meet Pam.
Pam is a retired RN.
Pam drives the only Subaru in Austin.
Pam likes big green pens with yellow flowers on the end.
Pam knows how to get the crease to stay down the middle of your jeans, by sprinkling vinegar on them before ironing.
Pam is an angel.


Made it to Austin. Promptly panicked about living in a small town and having nothing to do / being lonely. Went to a Bible study at Faith Evangelical Free Church. Which consisted of three women in their late 40's... and me :). One of those women, was Pam.

It'd been a tough week, filled with approximately 463 moments where I was about to pack my bike and ride the 120ish miles to the Minneapolis airport. Shockingly though, I didn't make it. I met Pam instead. It's not that Pam is so great. It's just that Pam was the perfect moment, in the midst of all the other hard ones. I said my goodbyes at the bible study and as I was leaving, she reaches our her arms and says, "I love hugs!". And gives me a big hug, whispers in my ear, "I'm praying for you."

This week, Pam filled my life with lots more of those moments! Which included filling my cupboards with groceries, getting me a bed and dresser and taking me to the farmer's market filling my hands with cash and told me to get whatever fresh fruits and veggies I desired! And then instead of probing me with all these deep questions about where I was at in life, etc. she bought me dinner and said, "I feel like the Lord wants you to know you have the freedom to choose." Which means a lot, and... too much to explain in a blog. But it was Jesus lifting my head.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Welcome to Austin!

..... Here's the thing. Until I can get pictures uploaded on here I won't probably write much about Austin. That kinda thing is way more exciting when there's pictures to tell you all about! I will leave you with a mental image though... outside of the Austin Utilities office.... is a giant pig statue. The pig is wearing... an American flag onsie. 'nuff said.

Asking for prayer here:
1. First and foremost that my heart would let go of condemnation and anxiety, and cling to Him
2. That whatever work He has for me here, I put my whole self in and risk
3. For community :)

And.... Here's some poetry from the last few months:


when we no longer tarry in the place of secure, we ask ourselves if we'll love again. 

we meet silence. 

maybe not in this endurance. 
but on the timeline, somewhere close to the middle, on the right side, the side that's closer to the finish and farther from the start.
your eyes strain hope again, they beckon you to arise.
and you ask, but will I love again. 
because you want to know, that when you stand and look ahead, there will be life, in abundance, greater than the most wonderful painting, fuller than the most eloquent poem. 
and, will it swell even grander. 
will the color fill with more brilliance, will the laughter be more perfectly timed, and the sounds more resplendent, the sights greater still.

and you wait for the reply, and the sound in your ears, is like this dull melody.
and you're not quite sure if it's happy or sad, or if there's even lyrics, but the reverberation draws you in.

and you keep listening, straining to hear the faint pounding of the keys, the strokes of the guitar-so significant, 
as if they were chosen just to echo your heart's beat, 
as if they alone will forgive you the answer you seek. 

and the more you listen, the louder it gets.  
the quicker your heartbeats soften to the rhythm. 
and the keys grow louder, until all that resounds in your ears is this beautifully sorrow-filled redemptive memory of what was.
and you realize that you're still straining to listen for the end, because the strumming continues, this time, unrecognizable- yet familiar. 
growing stronger and filling the entire room with this glorious warmth.

and you realize, you'll love again. 
you're sure of it, as sure as you are of the melody. 

but this song,
this song, will never change. 
it's in you, written. 
and it's beautiful. finished. 

And even if you tried to clasp your hands with a deafening tightness, longing to drown out the twinge of grieving that comes at the bridge, 
your heart, 
Ah, your heart, 
it knows each vibration and will never stop until the end, until the glorious warmth of the end, the redemption. 
because as much as your heart knows the sorrow still, the joy begins to sweetly fade over-in-and through, until the two sit hand and hand, with welcome. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

and the Light shines on in the darkness...

for the darkness has never overpowered it. Truth, bring it.
(from a super intense time back in January, more happy narratives to come)

His stitches will heal you

Why would I?
As if my fingers were gasping for air, I claw at the stitches You've sown in my heart.

When I'm broken and bleeding and falling apart-
You stitch and You stitch and You reach for my heart.

But I know my healing comes from You.

Why do I?
Rip. And I rip. and I rip out Your stitches.
I'll fix it myself, You can't fix this, I won't let it.

I won't let it heal.
I crave the pain.
It's sick. And it's twisted.
I wish I desired Your medic.

Your twine-much stronger.
Your needle-how sharp.

But I reach for the cheap, the replaceable yarn.
The rusty old hook used for crocheting.
I'll fix it myself.
Your stitches mean nothing.


Mine bend.
And they break, even as I tie them tighter.
Each hole I compress, the blood pours out faster.

I can't fix this.
I've made a mess of my heart.
The lining breaks.
The stitches bow and I cry out from infection.
It festers and turns colors I've never imagined.
Your stitches.... I wish I would have listened.

Let You stitch.

Put my arms to my side,
close my eyes,
feel your breath as You work,
Your hand that steadies me.

............calm seems elusive, and yet on the tip of my tongue.

You reach for your twine, much stronger than mine.
Threading Your needle.
And I close my eyes.
Terror seeps in, tears stroll down, hot against my cheek-
and reminds me I'm alive.

You wait. Patiently.
Hand on my elbow.

I break.
my shoulders shake.
and I fall to my knees.
My head rests on your lap and I fight the urge to run.
Your hand. Firm on my back.

I quiet.

I yell.

Protect me! Why didn't you protect me?!

Hate rises. Instant regret. I'm so angry. I'm so hurt.


You weep over me.
Tears fall on my hands. my arms. oddly comforting I look up.

My face, cradled in Your hands-rough and warm.

I have loved you. you are precious to me. I delight in you. let Me heal you. Let me stitch your heart together. I can fix this.

I can fix this. I can make you whole.

I look away. He stays.
He always stays.
My head lays down.
I'm not ready.
He waits. He stays. He always stays.

I give way to the pain.

Terrified. I expose my heart.

He begins,and it feels as if my whole world crashes in.
He works.
He works.
He stays.
He always stays.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I have to write about this.

It's simple and not-so-important. But it intrigues me and I do love a nice intrigue. I'm sitting in this Starbucks, doing homework, like a good PSU student. It's earlyish, and there are multiple families out this morning, having a walk, and infusing their children with delicious warm chocolate beverages. One family in particular, a father-daughter pair, has sat down at my eleven o'clock, He with his paper, her with her chocolate milk. As he reads, she sips on her milk, and boredom sets in. She exclaims, "Look Daddy! Look! It's funny!" as she blows bubbles and does things all 3-year old little girls do, like promptly overflowing her milk and needing napkins. The father, is... consumed in his paper. She's spilling more milk, and laughing and he then realizes that a fat stack of napkins will soon enter their morning routine. He explains where they are, and tells her to get them. She of course wanders around and claims to be unable to find them. He obliges after two minutes of this, and gets them for her. The scene continues with her,vying for his attention in numerous ways, only to admit defeat, and lay her head on his arm as he reads the paper, which was an incredibly sweet and endearing picture. And I'm sure that he loves her, but... he's consumed, by other things, and continues to offer distractions instead of his so-sought after presence. By now, she's playing with his Iphone, as he types, mumbling the occasional "mmm-hmmm, yes honey" but all the while never even looking up. I know it's spiteful... but I kind of hope she drops it.