Jealous

I received my first call to a church less than a month after my 25th birthday. The church wanted a young pastor, guess what? They go one! This meant, however, that the first decade of ministry was spent with the expression from others, “You’re so YOUNG!”

I didn’t have a response to this. It’s like when you’re 9 billion months pregnant and someone says, “You haven’t had that baby yet?” You want to retort “does it LOOK like I’ve had the baby yet?!?!?” (and expletives also filled my head). 

“You’re so young.” Yes. Yes, I am. I am an amazing accomplished young adult. I grew up and have gotten along better with adults than people my own age since I was 8. I was called an “old soul”. Life circumstances made me “wiser beyond my years”. At 25 I had been living as a self sufficient human being for more years than should be acceptable.

However, saying that because tiresome and downright rude, so I thought about it.

“You’re so young!” a person would say, “Oh, you’re just jealous!” I would say in a flirty but authoritative way that said, stop projecting your assumptions onto my age and judge me on my merits, also, I’m fun!

Yesterday my boyfriend and I went to see the movie, Don’t Think Twice. It’s about an Improv group who has been together and they’re all trying to advance their careers, it’s a movie about being not-so-young anymore and wondering what the meaning of “success” is.

After, as we drank Sangria and ate Tapas we discussed this ying and yang of jealousy and competitiveness. There are some people made for a certain thing. In this instance one of the characters “made it” on to the Saturday Night Live type show. He was a showman, he was good with the scripted but not as good as some of the others with improv. However, he had “made it” and the others hadn’t.

Earlier that day, I was going through my mail at work. There was a large catalog for church books, which of course I was pouring through. A couple pages in, side by side, were two books my best friend’s from Seminary had written.

In seminary the three of us were besties from the first year. Faith, like mindedness, snark, and a limited number of outlets in the classroom brought us together. (literally, we fought over the one accessible plug, three of us for two plugs and yes, we did get an extension chord).

As I look back on that time I think about Paul in his Letter to the Romans:

We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. -Romans 12:6-8

I was not jealous of my friends, I loved them and love them still. I want good things for them. I was them to succeed and be happy each according to their own gifts.

I do not say this to be pretentious. I have certainly been jealous of things my friends have done, but that jealousy comes from seeing that they carved out the time, or they made certain things bigger priorities than I did.

For instance, I am jealous of people who play the guitar, but I am smart enough to know that if I put the time and effort into learning to do so, I would. (side note: this type of jealousy excludes things we have little to no control over such as pregnancy).

They have done great things, but so I have. Each in our own way, according to our gifts.

I don’t get jealous easily but when you turn to competitiveness, I become enslaved. Jealousy has to do with having something someone else wants. I guess life has taught me that nothing comes easy for anyone, and if it does come easy than there are issues with that (entitlement, for instance). There’s always a catch.

Competition is different. Maybe it’s because I don’t go after something unless I really want it. Competitiveness hits me at my core. It’s personal. Why would someone want them, when they could have me?

Yes, I am this egotistical.

When my “Kool Kids” (yes, this is what we called ourselves, and specifically made the ironic “k”) respective books came out I was proud of them, I also felt this pull of jealousy/competition, (what had I done with my time since Seminary? should I be writing a book? Is that what I’m supposed to be doing?) It was about me, not them.

There is a scene in the movie (which I am going to get wrong) where one of the characters tells the mopey “why wasn’t it me” guy that he should stop looking to the one who “made it” work on his own strengths instead of relying on his friend to get hima  ticket on the success train.

This was a blip of a scene in the movie, but very poignant.

If you’re jealous of the people you are in competition with, then spend that energy focusing on yourself. What’s the saying? If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, then water your own grass.

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No one’s marriage is perfect. No one’s got it all figured out. If you want something, go for it and if you don’t get it or it doesn’t work out, reflect, regroup, and redirect your attention. (yeah, I totally just came up with that! See I’m awesome!)

Focus on yourself in healthy doses. And then, with confidence, the next time someone gives you a backhanded compliment you can exclaim with joy, “You’re just jealous!”

(You can buy Kool Kids books here and here. and we were cool way before Echosmith was even born…)

You Will Know, When You Know

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At my first church I moved only a few hours from my Aunt and Uncle whom I didn’t really know. My parents were the older siblings in their families and had children young, my sister and I are almost a decade older than our cousins. My aunt, then having small children watched as I officiate Easter Worship and interacted with my congregation. I was 25 years old. I had been married for 2 years and she could not fathom how “grown up” I was.

“You have a very adult job” she told me. I really wasn’t sure if it was a compliment or a criticism (in my head I heard “you’re playing with fire, you cannot handle this”). I did have a very grown up job, and I was (and still am) good at it. Sure, there are times when my “youth” equates to poor judgement, but as I get older, it’s simply moments of poor judgement, guess what? Who has two thumbs and is human? This chick.

But it is scary for all of us. How do we know we are saying or doing the “right” thing? Sometimes I have to impart wisdom in life or death situations and it’s scary. Yet, I can say this with confidence, I’m a smart girl, I actually do have a lot of wisdom to impart (through the grace of God), despite the fact that I am only 36 years old. So… here’s some tidbits.

When you’re mad at God, it means that you love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul. Scenario: I am a chaplain in a hospital. A family is trying to care for their mother who is dying, it will be hours, not days. She is cursing God, she is in pain, she is grieving for her life. The family (a more conservative type of Christian) is sincerely worried that she will die and “not be right with God” and therefore go to hell. They believe this despite a lifetime of Christian service and faith. I sat with them, I talked through it with them, and then I asked them a question. When is the last time you were angry at someone, I mean really angry? Was it with someone you knew casually? Or was it someone you loved?

The last time we were truly mad is not over the guy who cut us off on the interstate.  The truth is, we only are truly angry at the people we love most. Our partner, our children, our parents, our friends, ourselves. When your mother is cursing God, it’s because she loves God, if she didn’t she wouldn’t care.

I know it hurts, but that’s how you know it is love. Scenario: I had trouble getting pregnant and high risk pregnancies, so much so that I became friends with the ultrasound tech. For over a year I saw this woman bi-monthly, weekly, and then bi-weekly. Each time we would talk for about a half hour. When I went back for baby #2, she had just returned from maternity leave with her first. “I’m scared all the time, and I cry, constantly, at everything, does this ever end?” Yes, sometimes, no- no it does not. Yes, the hormones subside and you will cry less, but this feeling of dread, fear, and hurt? This feeling that you no longer have full control of your heart? No. She looked at me with massive amounts of dread.

It’s the consequence of experiencing real love. Any relationship involves risk, it’s the nature of relationship, but putting yourself out there in the most vulnerable ways possible and allowing yourself to experience real love, well, there is always a fear of losing. I have said this with new parents, with people grieving for someone who died, and to people at the end of marriages. When the pain is so devastating, so raw, so real – that’s when you know it is real love.

You will know when it’s time. Scenario: A woman sits before me in kidney failure, she is tired of dialysis, she is exhausting her children and she hates it, she has been talked to about hospice over a dozen times. “What do I do?” she asks me. Of course I can’t answer that, so I say to her what I have said a hundred times in the past.

When it comes to life and death, you’ll know. And when you know, you know, until then, you’re not ready. When it comes to life and death – of a person, of a marriage, of any relationship – if you don’t know (no matter how hard and painful it is) then you’re not ready. Because when it comes to a death, you and the ones you leave behind have to know, beyond a doubt, in the midst of their grief that they did everything possible and that you are sure or they simply will not be able to live with themselves. I have seen it time and time again, the moment where the wrestling ends and every fiber of their being knows what to do. 

All these scenarios happened within the first 5 years of my ministry. They are words of wisdom I have repeated time and time again. They are not “new” and I did not “think of them” they were gifts of the spirit. Moments in which I got to be the incarnation of Sophia (God’s wisdom). Yesterday I was reminded of them again and I wanted to share. Love to you all.

A Reoccurring Theme

I have told the story before, of how I became a follower of Christ. I was studying world religions in college, I connected with all of them. The respect for life in Jainism, the compassion of Buddhism, and the connection to the earth in Native American Spirituality. I really wasn’t sure about this Christian thing.

However, I was pulled and pulled back to Christianity, if felt inauthentic to be anything else. I was a  middle class, suburban white girl with an Irish/German heritage. Be Buddhist? yeah, I knew what I thought about those people. (judge me all you want for thinking this, but I did). Eastern Religious philosophy was at it’s height in making it’s way into American pop culture, and after spending some time with the sacred texts I got even more self-righteous about being authentic to my native religion. If only I could connect to it in some personal way. I found God in all the texts and none of the texts, so what made Christianity so special?

Then I found it.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” … “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” -Matthew 26:36-46 (excerpts)

If Jesus, the Savior, the Messiah, the Son of God, whom we worship and adore could, in his most vulnerable moment, doubt. Ask God to stop this terrible, terrible thing from happening to him. Be strong enough in his faith and his trust in God to ask, beg, and plead to be saved from the terrible betrayal human do to one another, then that is a God I understand.

God says no, of course, and Jesus begins the journey we call “The Passion” narrative. First, he is betrayed by Judas with a kiss on the cheek, then by Peter where he denies knowing Jesus, three times.

We all know what happens next, Jesus is crucified although committed no crime. His last words are ones where he asks forgiveness for his betrayers and killers. Then God breaks the cycle of sin and shame and gives a big middle finger to the betrayers of the world through resurrection. I love every bit of the story and it’s symbolism. However, as I grow older the stories of Jesus, the stories of my spiritual journey change.

When I was a teenager I needed to be understood, more than anything in the world. I sought to understand, I learned everything I could, I became an active listener, I taught, but I desperately wanted someone to understand me. The story of Jesus in the Garden echoed that need.

Yet, here we are 20 years later and my needs have changed, and thus, the story that draws me in to my faith.

This summer I’ve been working through some of the hundreds of questions Jesus asked in his ministry, some are familiar and others more obscure. As I wrote the liturgy for the summer one stuck out to me, surprised me, and reminded me of the longing I had years ago for a God who “got me.”

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.” -John 21:15-19

First, let me say, I feel like Jesus is Eliza Doolittle and Peter is Freddy Eynsford-Hill from My Fair Lady. Think about while you watch this…

Jesus teaches us forgiveness all throughout his ministry, but as much as the disciples are, at times, downright idiots and very frustrating companions, they don’t really do anything wrong. Person after person asks Jesus for “how to” and “WWJD” scenarios about forgiveness and he tells them to forgive an infinite number and tells the story of the Prodigal Son.

But again, I want to follow a God who isn’t just words, and I believe that God expects the same from me. This brings us to Peter. Jesus trusts Peter with everything, he is the rock on which the church will be built. Jesus hands Peter his baby and says, “raise it like your own”.

When he is resurrected he first seeks reconciliation with Peter. Peter, who made the ultimate betrayal. “Peter do you love me?” “Yes Lord, you know I do!!!” Peter is insistent and downright angry for being asked such a question. He knows he is in the wrong and is so frustrated with himself, how could he have messed up so badly? Stupid, stupid, stupid!

And, like Eliza, Jesus responds with, “then show me.”

Love as I have loved, nurture the poor in spirit, humble yourself. You have my grace, my mercy, and even forgiveness, now it’s your turn to show me I was not wrong about you. Have as much faith in yourself, as I have in you. Follow me.

Faith is a wonderful thing. I love God, I love Jesus, I love my neighbors, but if I neglect for one minute to feed and tend and nurture than I have betrayed Jesus all over again. I do not worry about his grace being extended, this is his promise, but faith demands action, Jesus demands action, not just words.

 

Call Me Cliché

So I was in therapy this week. (Like I do.) I was talking to my therapist about feeling safe. The “freedom of safety” as I call it.

For years I have talked about the same theme in therapy (different situations, same theme). I want freedom. I was to feel safe. I want to not wait for the other shoe to drop. I want to trust the people around me. That they won’t hurt me (emotionally, physically, sexually). That I won’t be manipulated (see previous sentence). That I will be safe.

Safe is a word I use a lot. It goes hand and hand with trust. I want to be myself, truly be myself. In order to do that I need to believe that the people around me will accept me, I need the confidence that if they don’t, that I will be able to shake the dust off my feet.

I need to express my needs without (undo) criticism, I need the safe space to have what I’m feeling and experiencing be heard, and, well, believed.

I have never found this space. Ever.

I have moments, glimpses. A brief second in the most intimate moments with the people I love and trust the most, I see my free, safe, authentic self come out to play. And then she goes back into hiding, scared by the world, not wanting to be hurt.

So today, as I describe wanting this feeling again (and here’s how it’s manifesting itself this time…) my therapist told me to be nice to myself. He called it a “just because” present. Or a “thanks for all you do” present. It didn’t have to be a “thing” but it ended up being one.

It’s not that my life is harder than anyone else’s or that my shadow is necessarily bigger, but as I left his office I realized that I no longer had the money to do the things I used to for self care.

Let’s be honest. Self care is essential (especially for care givers) to feel safe. A retreat or a massage was my lifeline when there were too many deaths or pastoral crisis in a short amount of time. I used to go out to dinner with friends and talk for hours when my life was falling apart or visit them “just because.” I used to have the money to do little things for myself to say “thank you” for mustering enough courage to let others in, to risk being hurt, to mourn, to grieve, to appreciate myself and how hard life has been.

But I no longer do. I started giving myself small presents years ago to say “thanks for all you do for me” because I couldn’t expect others to, and so instead of being consistently disappointed, I got them for myself.

So as I left my therapist’s office I asked myself: What would be something (an inexpensive something) that would allow me to be reminded that I am okay? I am safe. I am free.

So I bought myself my favorite thing in the world. Flowers.

Call me a cliche but I love flowers. I love wild flowers, really any flowers that are fresh cut from a garden. So I stopped and got flowers cut from a local farm, I came home and put them in a vase and added some hydrangeas from my own garden. I spent less that $20.

If I could I would have fresh flowers everywhere. I love them that much, they are, as silly as it may sound, the touchstone that reminds me of freedom and safety in the midst of my fragility.

As I drove to work this morning a mower was buzzing wildflowers from the sides of the highways. I wanted to stop and go pick them all before he did. Wildflowers, or fresh cut flowers in general, remind me of the beauty of impermanence, the essence of fragility.

And before you begin to suspect, yes, my boyfriend knows and no, this is not a plea for him to buy me flowers. He has, for your information, planted hundreds of flowers in our gardens. (even though he will only refer to them as “pollinators.”) For our first date he bought me white lilies with red gerber daisies.

I know after some time they will die, I know I can’t carry them around with me where ever I go (although I will carry them room to room for a while). I know that just like the trips and dinners with friends, the massages, and the retreats their effects will wear off and I will need another touchstone. So, for now, I will enjoy my stunning symbols of fragile openness, of safety from hostile environments, of freedom to bloom and be loved for it.

I pray I can see the same in myself.

 

I Love You, But No. An Open Letter to Well Meaning White People

I have resisted writing this letter to you, my brothers and sisters, as I am no better than you are. Others have written this letter, others who know more and do it more eloquently. Yet it’s important enough that it bears repeating, over and over again.

You’ve stopped staying #AllLivesMatter not because you necessarily know why, but because you know it offends. You’re not racist, or you are in the way all people are, but you’re not those people. You listen to other white people and agree secretly and silently that you’re not really sure what the fuss is about. One “bad seed” you say about a cop. Quietly you ask the question “why should all cops be punished for one man’s crimes?”

You’re struggling against your need to resist conflict and do that “listening” the black community, (the gay community, the oppressed communities) is imploring you to do.  You scroll through their Facebook feeds and secretly think, “do they hate white people”?  You have questions, and you want to ask them, but to be honest, now is not the time.

Here’s the advice that all have given and no one is hearing. Shut up. No really. Stop talking. Now.

We are not “all the same” we do not “all struggle” with this. I understand that someone down the line your family was oppressed by the Visigoths (probably) but now is not that time, and we do not live in that land, and let’s be honest, since then you have experienced nothing but privilege in America. I know my ancestors were indentured servants and built the railroad, but tell me, come March 17 how many people don’t now claim to be Irish?

I need you to hear something: It is NOT the same. It just isn’t. We aren’t all the same.

I will admit, I am not writing this for your own good. I am definitely not writing this to feel superior, I am writing this because my love and partner is dying inside.

He is a lover, a father, a community leader, and a pastor, he also is an African American man in predominately white spaces. He wants to care for others, it’s his nature. But right now, he cannot be your teacher. He (and so many other like him) are hated, judged, accused, and tried in this country for the color of his skin. And yes, that is a true fact. Seriously. Just accept it.

Actually start there. When he is before you and the issues of the news come up in conversation ask him how he is doing. Accept that he is hurting. Accept that the way you wanted to protect your child after Sandy Hook is the way he feels everyday about his own life and his children. Accept that every cop shooting, every protest arrest, every slander said against Malia Obama, he hears about himself, his son, and his daughter.

When these issues are mentioned, don’t tell him, “some people just don’t think” or that “some people are just stupid”. I know you care for the person before you, I do, but you dismiss his feelings this way.

Remember: The Black Community is in crisis. All of them. ALL of them. Even if you haven’t witnessed it with your own eyes, it’s still true.

So have some respect (and yes, I know you never meant disrespect) but learn to respect that this person in front of you needs to be angry, needs to have their feelings validated, and needs to mourn the centuries of wrong that has been done to him and his people. There are too many offenses to count. Keep your feelings inside and do not judge.

You’ve had your turn, it’s time to listen.

 

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For the Fathers Without

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Dear God, you fathered a world, humanity created in your image, then you fathered a nation, and a peoples. Eventually you fathered the Son who would show the world dutiful devotion, even when his brothers and sisters turned on him, you loved them all.

I celebrate the father’s without shame today. Those that have accepted, loved, sought understanding and pride despite the hardships of life. Who acknowledged children without a marriage certificate or the approval of their families, despite pressures of the outside world, who fought to show their children they loved them.

For the first without fear of diaper changing, spit up or “breaking the baby”. For dreams which are not reality in tiny human form. For the Fathers without their names on birth certificates who raised children to be outstanding human beings. Who spread love without fear.

If only it were all that easy, but it’s also all that hard. Today my heart breaks for the fathers without. They are men who have seen the spectrum of heartbreak and overwhelming joy.

For those who are fathers without children. Men who could struggle with infertility, for men who were born without male parts, for men who make the decision to not have children, yet live in sadness, I lift them to you. They mourn the expectation, the hope of the birth, the overwhelming love.

Like the Parodical father, you wait for us to return to you. But my heart aches today for the fathers whose sons and daughters will never return. Gunned down, threatened, beaten for the color of their skin, their bodies, or whom they love. For the sons and daughters to never return home because of drugs, a bomb or drunk driver. The children lost and taken, abused and broken.

For the children who will never see their fathers again. For those who grieve the loss of a harsh man, for those who mourn the kindest, gentlest soul they knew. For the last Father’s Day with, for the first without. For everyday in-between this Sunday in June where he heart aches.

I pray for those who yearn for connection but have been rejected due to their father’s shame. For those who put doctrine above relationship. For those who refuse to understand, for those who judge too harshly, for those who cannot take the log out of their own eye. For those fathers and children who just can’t right now.

For the fathers without today, his children in someone else’s care, his children taken from the world too soon, his children estranged, his children nonexistent. I mourn for you and with you. God hold them in your care, love them, protect them, watch over them.

This is my prayer, Amen.

The Pastoral is Political: This is MY Body — RevGalBlogPals

“What do you do?” a man at a party asks, my friend (who’s party it is, tenses next to me). “I’m a minister.” My friend is a lifelong Catholic and is now a campus minister for a catholic high school, all the other friends at the party are also lifelong Catholics and teach in this […]

via The Pastoral is Political: This is MY Body — RevGalBlogPals

Mi Familia Cubana


Today I board a plane and tomorrow (very early) I will be flying to Cuba once again. This will be my fourth trip in as many years. 

Each time I lead a mission trip I get both excited and nervous. As much as I miss being a participant I do not kid myself to know that I am a much better leader than I am follower. That being said, I will easily follow someone who has more experience than I. On this trip, however, I’m it. 

This trip is different. I am taking young adults, there is only one other who has ever been and her first trip was last fall. I am excited for these others to experience Cuba. I am especially excited to introduce my partner to Cuba. 

In therapy yesterday he commented to our therapist that I am more excited to introduce him to my “Cuban family” than I am to my “real family”. This made me terrible sad. It’s not that he doesn’t get it, the whole family estrangement thing, and all he was saying was that these people are really important to me.

For better or worse and much to the dismay of my extended family I have learned to make my own family in life. I would love for my collective parents to meet my partner, but for too many reasons to discuss I cannot. I would love to have a family where I felt accepted for who I am. I would love to have a family who embraced me in a warm and loving way. 

I’m going to stop there because I just wrote and erased several sentences because they just got mean. 

Let’s just say this. I don’t expect the Walton’s, never have, nor do I expect the Brady Bunch, but there is a middle ground between that and David and Bathsheba’s little brood. All this to say, I would love to have the “meet the parents” moment. 

I even married into a family where I thought I would get that. A perfect little progressive family where I would be cherished, and well, that didn’t turn out so well either…

So this little phrase has bothered me since yesterday. There’s a guilt voice that says “how dare you put anyone else above your family”. Then I thought about it. 

I’m excited for Derrick to go to Cuba. I’m excited to have him see the things that I’ve seen and love the people that I love, that’s what you want when you’re in a relationship, you want to share things that are important and life changing with that person. I dream of bringing our kids someday.

But I realized this morning as I awoke from a restless sleep, I am not more excited to have him meet the Cubans I have grown to love more than my family, it’s that, he has already met my family. 

This man to whom I love and am partnered co-parents my children, has met and talked to my sisters and my brothers. They may be blood relation, they may not, but he already knows them. 

Maggie, Gus, Sarah, Melissa, Nick, Tripp, and Jeff. My family. He has already been given the seal of  approval. I love them all and thank them for being part of my real family. 

Now, off to Cuba where I have more mothers and grandmothers than any girl could want (and love every second of it!). 

Side note, they’ve seen his picture, he’s got nothing to worry about except maybe a wandering eye…😉

Beloved

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About a year ago a parishioner asked to see me after worship. We went into my office after most people had left and seemed nervous.

I have a lot of respect for this woman. When I first came to the church we met together and through tears she said, “I wanted to be a support to you. I really believe something special is happening and I want to be part of it.”

She wrote me notes through my divorce voicing love and support. In summertime she brings me beautiful flowers from her garden. She feels deeply, and is aglow with the spirit every time I see her.

She also carries struggle and hardship like any of us do. She wears her heart on her sleeve, but privately. She cries or laughs during sermons and I know it’s all genuine.

So here we were, alone in my office and she looks down at her hand. She told me that one day she was in a Christian Bookstore, and checking out next to the register was this small pile of rings. It almost called to her.

She bought this thin piece of silver with “Jesus”printed around it separated by the Jesus fish. It was on her finger and she was fiddling with it.

“I love this ring and I don’t want to give it up, I don’t know why, but God calling me to give it to you.”

I’ve been in this moment, I know what it’s like. God told me to do something but when I speak it out loud I worry that it would seem trite, or the person would reject my gift meaning I got the message wrong.

I took the ring, thanking her, I believed that she had a call to give it to me.

She told me that when she put it on each day she would just do it and walk out the door. Then she remembered that some days she would notice that she really needed God and would observe that “Jesus” was pointed at her so she could read it, and other days it was pointed outward so if she placed her hand out to another, they would be able to read “Jesus” and on these days she would pay attention on where others needed the love of God.

At that time in my life there was no question I needed Jesus. So I purposefully for a while put it on my hand facing me. Then I noticed slowly that I wasn’t paying as much attention in the morning, and sometimes it would face me and other days it would face the world. I remember my friend’s observation.

I would smile.

About a week ago God told me it was time to give my ring away. “no, I told God, I love this ring and I don’t want to give it up.”

I have been wearing it on my left hand ring finger, where my once wedding ring used to sit. I would wear it along with a ring my best friend gave me and it was a reminder that I was not alone, that I was someone’s beloved.

It reminded me, in the loneliest of moments that I belonged and was deeply loved. By friends and a community.

It’s been a week since God wrote on my heart a name of a woman who now needs it. I wish I could give it to her in person, but I will have to mail it, and this morning I asked for her address. I wanted to write this for two beautiful women today. One who God worked through to remind me I was beloved when I felt unlovable and one who God wants to know is lovable and beloved.

I pray she feels the sense of belonging I felt when wearing it. I pray that when she no longer needs it, even though that may not be until her dying day, that God will write on her heart who might need it next.

Thank you Kimbrea, I love you too. Rebecca, here you go sweetheart, I love you.

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Fertility Windows & the Existential Crises

I went to the doctor yesterday for my annual checkup. My doctor has a 5 month old baby, her first. Last time I saw her she was very pregnant. She’s doing well, looked tired, has half the workload she did before baby. The woman I saw a year ago had perfect clothes and makeup, put together in “all the ways”. Today her hair was in a pony tail, no makeup and her shirt looked laundered but that’s about it.

I did not fully understand her before, but this woman, I know.

In the course of many, many questions she asks, “Are you going to have any more children?” “NO!” I snapped back with a look of horror and disgust, as if that was the most unnatural thing in the world to ask. (Getting to this “no” was never easy and yes, does have a tiny hint of sadness there, “in theory” but in reality- NO!)

She was completely taken aback, especially after I had just nodded my head through her telling me about her birth and a quick synopsis of feeding and sleeping schedules. Why would I want to do that again? Pssht.

Rewind a half hour earlier when I had been opening the door to her office. It’s an office with many kinds of doctors. Specialty medicine, general practitioners, OBGYN and psychiatrist/therapists. I was looking at one of the psychiatrist’s names and had a two sentence conversation in my head, it went like this:

“I think I’m having an existential crisis…”

“What else is new?”

As the day went on I was completely worn down, tired, thirsty, moody. I came home and laid in bed. I realized that I had an emotionally exhausting dream the night before that left me pondering the questions, “To whom do I belong? Who really am I, if it’s just me?”

I took my daughter to softball practice. I brought my camping chair and went a reasonable distance away from the other parents that said, yeah, I’m good over here all alone, but not too far away so as to say, I’m a bad parent. Anyway, one mother (imagine a petite WASP with brown hair) “Did you hear Prince Died today? So sad.”

Roots.jpgI looked up at her from my phone in which I had been posting Prince articles onto Facebook. “Yeah…” I said in the please don’t talk to me kind of way. Then I realized I was wearing my “The Roots” t-shirt. And I’m not talking about some subtle obscure concert T where you don’t know if it’s for a band or coffee or what. I mean it says “THE ROOTS” in 5″ letters across the top. I wanted to yell at her, “Umm… excuse me, in what world does a woman wear a Roots t-shirt and NOT know Prince died!”

Yeah, it was dusk and I was in full on bitch mode, then I came home and accused my boyfriend of being annoyingly literal when he corrected something I said (which he was being). I was waiting to eat dinner and getting more and more annoyed. Then I looked…

I use an app on my phone called “Clue” to keep tract of my “womanly days”. Like most woman I’m not as predictable as the phases of the moon. Originally I turned off all the other functions except for when I would start my period. I mean, I don’t want to have any more kids (did you read the beginning of this post?) And therefore don’t need to know when my “fertility window” is, but I have since turned it back on because I found myself “hormonal” (a way overused word) on those days.

Until I had a thought, my whole day started to come together (sometimes I’m a little slow)… The dream and question “To whom do I belong?”, “Are you having more kids?”, The death of one of my all time favorite musicians, not fitting in to the normal parent “mold” and just overall fitfulness of the day, I opened the app.

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It’s the first full day of my “Fertility Window”. F*ing hormones… 

And yet… It would all make sense wouldn’t it? That Every month I have an existential crisis at the very same time my body is reacting hormonally by releasing an egg to to be fertilized and playing a real life Russian Roulette.

Once a month I have restless leg syndrome for the soul. It’s an illease that sits in my chest and whispers “do more, be more, go deeper, make smarter decisions” and do all of this while meditating like Don Draper during the final scene of Mad Men. 

Huh… More to ponder, I shall experiment with this over the next few months. Thoughts?