Adventure in Moleskine

I’ve always been dreadful at filling notebooks completely. I don’t do a lot of things well in that way. But once in college I filled an entire journal. I forced myself to write in it every day. It was bleak. The end result was bleak.

But something about a Moleskine, this Moleksine, has made me faithful. It’s the second one I’ve ever filled completely. Almost two full years (short by a mere two weeks), and as it has come to the end of its journey, I offer you several of the trinkets in it that stick out to me. May they serve you as they serve me.

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This Sunday I crack open my Moleskine with the sketch of Smaug on the cover, and a new adventure shall begin. A Moleskine befitting Resurrection Sunday.

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Adventure in Strength

strength

(some times, even I don’t understand my neighborhood)

Let’s be clear. I’m a weak lady. People are far too generous when they tell me they think I’m strong. I’m here to tell you that I am not. Not really. I’m a persistent person. I’m an independent person. Ya know what? I’m well-practiced. Let’s call it that. Can we?

I am not strong. I am easily manipulated, particularly through guilt. I am quick to relinquish power. I have multiple times found myself in dangerous situations and thought, “yeah. Of course, this is happening. And this will be how I die. That’s fine.” I survive, because I’m supposed to. Not because of anything I’m doing. Every day that I am alive is not because I woke up and said, “Ah yes, I shall live on.” I never make that decision. That decision makes me. No. That’s dumb. And not true.

Here’s what it is. Here is why I continue on.

A few years ago, I finally started to get the wherewithal to recognize that I needed prayer. not just “oooh stuff is bad. I need prayer.” I mean, okay, that’s where it came from, but soon I started recognizing that that was something I needed all of the time. So I started asking for it, and would in return offer prayer for those individuals as well.

*That has value. Please, don’t misunderstand me on this. Having others pray for you is important. Praying for others is important. These are intrinsic to strengthening the body of Christ.*

What I didn’t learn, or learn to embrace and then practice, until about a year ago was one very important thing. Hear me. Please. It is not selfish to pray for yourself. It is imperative. Open communication with the Father about your needs, fears, pains, victories. All of it. Let me tell you, from my own personal experience though, having others pray for me to understand and have peace, strength, be surrounded by hope? Is virtually useless if I am not also admitting to God that I need those things. It’s one thing to say to a friend “I am broken here. Please pray for me that it can be repaired.” It is something else entirely to say to a friend “please pray with me in this brokenness.” AND to take that brokenness and say “Father, I know it’s broken. Help me fix it. Fix it.” It’s easy to admit to those who don’t already know and can’t fully understand “oh this is broken.” One, because you don’t ever have to be completely honest in that. Two, because they can’t fully comprehend it with you. It’s hard to admit to the one who actually gets it and already knows, but wants to hear you say “I know you know, but hear me out.”

Ultimately, it’s taking actual responsibility for your head and your heart, your spirit. Anything else is really shirking that responsibility. Not always. I know that. Some times it is impossible. It is impossible to say what you need to say to God. Some times all that comes out is a string of expletives that would not only make you sound like you just murdered a pirate, but also probably embarrass your mother that you even knew all of those words. He wants those too.

Pray is our greatest strength. Christ is my only strength.

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Adventure in Silence

Because of my mounting stress when things start to get chaotically loud. Because of my inability to distinguish brain from reality. Because some times I can’t handle the pressure. I don’t like loud noises. My brain sort of collapses within them. My office has a tendency to become one enormous din.

Last week I was offered a few new tasks to my job, which was timely because I’ve been running out of things to do. One of them though, takes place every Wednesday afternoon, and all alone. On Wednesday I leave the building and go into this dank room where sadness lives. And I surround myself with stacks upon stacks of files. For as long as it takes, I organize them. By time. By last name. By peace. By silence. By calm. By no thought other than. 9. 9. 9:30. 10:30. 10. B. L. S. M. 10:30. No distractions. No room for my mind to wander. As long as it takes. As long as I need. Calm.

This is a blessing, because I’ve been trying to take a part out of every day to be silent. I’m bad at this. I’m bad at shutting my brain down and listening to God. Now, the endless waves of the file ocean lulls me to a peaceful attentiveness, and it’s just me and him.

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Adventure in Restructuring Revisited

Truth is, I wrote this a March ago, and I’m not at all sure why I never posted it. It’s nothing special. It’s not important, but it doesn’t seem right for it to keep sitting here. Finished.

Until last night I had not slept since Thursday night. Some of that was my own doing, some of it can be blamed on my brain (I call it Brian). One night off will upset my whole schedule.

What I came to realize is that I slept hard Sunday to Thursday. Hard. One night I got a little sad, pretty sad, so I went to bed and I slept 11 1/2 hours. I don’t even feel bad about it. I was processing my week with a friend, and I realized I was granted so very much sleep last week to prepare me for this sleepless weekend. Because the truth is Friday night I needed to be awake. I needed to not take a moment to myself. Some Friday nights I wanted to stay up late, most Friday nights I want to be in bed by 9, with every intention of waking up early on Saturday, a whole day free.

This particular Friday night I stayed up after midnight with a friend. And as I attempted to restlessly to sleep, my phone rang around 2 a.m. The thing about 2 a.m. phone calls is that they are either someone very drunk or someone very hurt. I don’t always answer them. I usually know which it’ll be based on the name. Friday night I had to answer. And I’m glad I did. I’d have stayed on that phone as long as I needed to. And while my friend in crisis had to go, I had to stay. I had to stay up. My brain wanted me to be the one to save her. My brain was convinced I could be. But the longer I stayed up. The longer I prayed–for her, for Joel, for Thailand, for any number of things–I was reminded I am not sufficient. I. Am. Not.

I know, full well, if I had driven to see that friend in the middle of the night it would have been appreciated on both sides (had I even been capable of that), but the truth is I would have been going because I could. Because I believed I could save her. Not only is that not my job, it is not something I’m capable of doing. And it’s very much in my nature to save people. I cannot do this. I can help where I’m needed and where I’m sent, but I am no one’s savior. I have to step back, a lot, to remind myself that not a damn thing in my life is about me.

Thankfully, I am increasingly surrounded by people who don’t let me stay stagnant, who don’t let good enough suffice. I am surrounded by people who actively push me to be better, to do better, but I’m also surrounded by people whose existence in my life draws me, compels me to be and do better. To live boldly.

I’m not there. I’m shit at it. But I’m getting there. I’m improving.

Adventure in Sufficiency

BBCGumpasI don’t know if it’s a common title for a foreign governor, but I do know that once in the BBC’s Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader that Prince Caspian calls Governor Gumpas “your sufficiency,” which always makes me laugh. “Your perfectly adequate, I suppose, ness.” “Your we’ll take what we can get ity.” “Your the best we can come up with cy.”

It’s always been funny to me, because Gumpas isn’t sufficient. He’s a horrible governor. He’s actually a pretty terrible human.

Today though I was talking to a friend, and I said something that made me cry as it left me. So perhaps I needed to hear, and definitely acknowledge it, more than she did. “His grace is SUFFICIENT,” I said. I said it in all caps like that. And I think that’s what hit me.

I talk myself out of the grace I’ve been given a lot. How my mistakes are just going to tear that apart. As if God’s got sheets and sheets of us that as soon as we screw up he just tears it in two. And he’s God so those halves are pretty exact. That’s not how it works though. If I had the capability to screw up grace, then I’d have the capability of redeeming myself too. I very much do not. Woof, if I did. Yikes. Like mega yikes.

Real talk: I’m a pretty big ol’ sinner. I know. Calm down. It’s true though. And try as I might there’s not a lot I can do to fix that. I dare say, there’s nothing I can do. And I tried. I tried a bunch. I still try. All of the time. If I just get rid of this thing or stop this then ta-da! Salvation. Cue sad trumpet noise. Because I’ve already got there. In spades. And I just forget. Like a bunch I forget. All the time I forget.

I can’t save me. You can’t save me. And I can’t save you.

His grace is sufficient. Sufficient.

Adventure in Waiting, Listening, Pulsing

Mr. Edward Magorium: 37 seconds
Molly Mahoney: Great. Well done. Now we wait.
Mr. Edward Magorium: No. We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. 37 seconds, well used, is a lifetime.

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium did not do so hot in the theaters. I saw it on one of a very few number of dates I’ve been on in my life. The theater was mostly empty. The people in the theater with us were mostly other college couples, or young couples. Not a lot of children. Not a lot of actual adults. I loved it. I loved it a lot. I loved it compulsively like a small child. I loved it emotionally as an adult. Honestly, if you haven’t seen it, I think you should give it a chance.

I have the misfortune of being simultaneously monstrously observant and emotionally under-developed. It’s a conflicting place to be. Like being 7 and knowing when people are lying and getting reprimanded by a parent for pointing it out and embarrassing the liar. What comes of that as an adult is a lot of uncertainty in my communications and intent to relate. I’m fully capable; I understand that ultimately I may, in fact, be a little better than many at communication. Nonetheless, it comes attached to a massive uncertainty. Each word, each phrase shakes and wavers in my mouth before it leaves my lips. It trembles in my fingers before a key is touched.

So when it comes to something new and frightening and outside my element, I tremble in my heart, in my head. I tremble in my voice. In my action. In my thought. What starts to happen is I start to lose my strength to be logical. Like being weak at the knees in my brain. It means a lot of afterthought prayerful consideration. Lots of “My God, my God, I’ve been an idiot. I’ve wasted so much time. Help me find a way to bring things back. To clear the air, to clear my head.”

I find myself lately praying for strength to be okay with whatever answer God offers me. Even if that answer is so far from what I think I want. Because honestly, when was the last time what I wanted was even remotely on point to what I needed? It was never. They were never the same.

It’s so easy to get swept away in moments. Moments can be a lifetime if you do them right, but that requires a lot more presence of mind than my stunted emotional self can handle.

Some times listening to Ben Folds constantly, in a continuous flow, is the best thing you can do. Or at least that I can do.

Adventure in Becoming Okay

I hesitate to say it publicly. I don’t want to somehow condemn myself, but I thought you might be interested to know. I’ve only said it to a few friends lately, but over the last month or so the damnedest thing has been happening. I dare say I’m becoming healthy. Mentally and emotionally well.

Almost two months ago now I started a new job. I’ve been working as a team leader at a local frogurt shop. The self-serve kind. It was just a series of opened doors. I went to church with my parents, and some old family friends were there. And we just asked “Do you have a job?” They own this yogurt place and Ty instantly said “Yes. Just apply.” By the end of service he came back up to me and said “Be there at 8 tomorrow. Your life is your interview.” 25 years. Longest interview ever, but totally worth it.

I work with mostly high school students. Everyone there is at least three years younger than I, but it doesn’t matter. I love them. Even the ones I want to punch. They’re funny. They’re so chill. No one is terribly dramatic. They’re just cool, and I love working with them.

My job is growing. Almost daily Ty sends me something new to work on. I get to use my pop culture knowledge on projects. And I’m doing some writing for our product descriptions. Is it a lot of money? No. It’s not. But my heart is calm. My sleep is returning. I worry about nothing.

I don’t spend a lot of time with people away from work, and I think that’s what I’ve been needing. I don’t feel compelled to entertain or appease anyone. I’m not trying to live up to anyone’s expectations. Sure there are people I miss, and I’ve made some exceptions, but mostly, I work and I watch TV and I sleep. It’s sort of perfect. All I have to focus on is God and my brain getting better. And my brain is getting better.

These crushing emotions I’ve been feeling for the last two or more years are not so crushing anymore. Sure they’ll wave in, but they don’t stay as long. I haven’t unnecessarily burst into tears in a month, and that’s sort of a big deal for me.

In about a month I’m looking to go to Chicago for a weekend to see some of the people I’ve been truly missing in my life. My heart has been pining for them. A whole weekend of seeing some of the funniest women I know. I really can’t wait. And seeing them in capacities I’ve never been able to see them before. In their homes. In their married lives. With their children. In their city. I’m excited, and I hope it works out. Because my heart could stand be surrounded by 10 hilarious women for 72 hours. (And some cool dudes if I can manage it) Sadly I find myself thinking, “But I want more of them. 10 isn’t enough. I want every funny woman I know in one room for 72 hours. Probably five with survive, but it’ll be hilarious while we last.” But I won’t get greedy. I’m grateful for what I’m getting.

Oh that I could see all of these women.

 

Adventure in Origins

Where did it come from? Why do Christian girls and Christian women say things like “if I keep focusing on my relationship with God he’ll give me the husband I want?” Why do we say that? Because here’s the thing. If THAT or anything else is our motivation for pursuing God, I can tell you right now that God isn’t our focus. You know what it is? Getting what we want.

I don’t know if you know this, but you can’t trick God. “If I just keep telling God I’m pursuing him, he’s totally going to believe me, and in two months I’ll meet the man of my dreams. It’ll be perfect. Which is good, because I’ve got a pinterest board full of my wedding plans. Which is in no way an indication of what I spend my time thinking about. Like I said, God, I’m just focusing on me and you.”

That isn’t to say if you aren’t pursuing God you won’t get married. Because lots of people get married. All of the time. But why lie to God? Why lie to yourself?

Adventure in Finding Balance

Where’s the line? At what point am I destroying myself to “be forgiving?” Am I actually being forgiving or am I just letting shitty things keep happening to me just to look like a better person?

As it turns out, I’m pretty sure it’s the latter. I want to be able to forgive people, but the fact is people continue to be pretty awful. Even if I play by the rules. Even if I try to be honest, and try not to attack. Even if I only talk about the way things make me feel, which I hate to do, by the way. It turns out that doesn’t matter. It makes me an easier target. I’m that sap who tries to make things better. I’m the idiot who just let’s people destroy her.

And what’s worse is I’m trying to be gracious and forgiving. I am trying, but I’m awful at it. And the world around me is telling me that I’m not supposed to continue forgiving people. But that’s not true. Because I do the same things to God, and I keep getting forgiven. So why shouldn’t I try? I should. I shouldn’t try. I should do it. But I’m the worst at it. I’m just the worst. And I don’t know how to maintain even civil relationships with the people who perpetuate the problems of me being treated or feeling like shit and the grace and forgiveness of Christ. Part of that I’m sure is compounded by the fact that I let it affect me so much, instead of pursuing Christ in it. That I’m pursuing being forgiving and gracious instead of pursuing Christ.

I don’t have a concrete conclusion to my thoughts. I only know I’m weary of pouring into people who only tear me apart. And yet, I seem okay doing the same thing to God.

He kicked me in the face one day pretty hard with the whole “Love your enemy, and pray for those who persecute you.” And now I just have no idea what to do.

I have more thoughts, but they’re about to get prideful. Let’s just leave it there. I’m the worst.

Adventure in Contentedness

I want to be better at being content. I’m so very good at making my circumstances my life. Letting them rule my decisions.

Two weeks ago, after a tedious day of tests and driving around to hospitals, it was determined I had mild appendicitis. By 10:30 that night I was getting ready to go into surgery to have that little rascal removed. I woke up from surgery in a haze of post-surgery drugs and pain. On my first, wobbly adventure to the bathroom I threw up blood. On me. It was one of my classier moments in life. I spent the Friday after surgery agonizing in the hospital. Pain and dizziness plaguing my life. Also the occasional puke on my blanket, like an ill-trained dog. When I finally saw a doctor late Friday night I was given the option to go home. I was still in a great deal of pain, so I opted to stay another night. I went home and spent a week in bed.

On Wednesday I returned to the doctor’s office for a follow-up appointment where I learned that I did not have appendicitis at all. He also mentioned that he didn’t know what was causing my dizziness and nausea, which were the key symptoms of my appendicitis. His advice was to wait for something else to happen. I heard “Wait for something worse to happen.” He also suggested that last year when I had my unborn twin removed from my ovary that they, in fact, did remove my ovary. He said that they checked the right one for cysts to ensure that wasn’t causing the pain, and then the left one, but it wasn’t there. Those were his words.

It all sort of put me in a panic. That I’m just perpetually sick. That I was lied to last year about the status of my reproductive organs. It’s all made me a bit of a mess.

Today I really started thinking about it, and how it is affecting my thought processes. And so my body is rejecting me, does that mean I can’t be at peace? That’s just bad faith. I’m single, so I can’t be content in my marriage to God? That’s just ungratefulness. I’m so selfish, and I have everything I could ever need. I could be content, if I could just stop thinking like someone living with no hope. Paul was in prison, and only really expressed disparity, but once. My circumstances are a poor excuse to be ungrateful. Sure, we all fall short of God’s glory, but we too easily use that as an excuse to not try.

In middle school I was on a praise team for children’s church at Blackhawk. We sang a very corny song, well, lots of them. And one of them crept into my head yesterday. As if God was prodding me with this dopey song as an obvious reminder to suck it up and remember how damn faithful he is all of the time. I’m blessed beyond reason, and all I can ever do is complain. When did I become such a malcontent? And why do I think that malcontentedness has any place in furthering the Kingdom?