People often ask me about the name of my blog... click here to read the story.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Perpetual Adolescent's not-uhh bad...well...uhh... not the uhh ...north umm...roads...umm...well....
My brain was screaming Shut up! Stop Talking! What's wrong with you???!!!

It took a while to recover. To make myself feel better in the wake of my social suicide, I was self talking like Stuart Smalley in the SNL sketch's: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!"
Why did I stumble and fumble over my words and act all goofy? It was a question about the weather for cryin' out loud!

No, it wasn't the question that left me verbally tripping and looking like a schmuck. It was the day and the situation...I blame it on my perpetual adolescence.

After a ball game, a group of parents stood in the hall. I was decidedly the outsider but I was with one of the "cool kids" so the others felt it might be safe to talk to me. Who knew that a simple query about the wind on the roads would unleash my inner awkward adolescent self.

But it didn't start at the game. The whole day was characterized by a massive identity crisis which in turn led to insecurity. If I wasn't inarticulate about the weather I was second guessing my words to a friend or feeling like a poser talking to the savvy woman about her upcoming Italian adventure or rethinking my vocation or obsessing about the alarming number of gray hairs adorning my head. Overloaded, I felt like my brain was on the verge of exploding--or imploding. Either way, it would have been nasty.

Calm, cool, collected on the outside no one would guess I heard "fail" in my ear every time I said something or wrote something or spoke to anyone.

I'm beyond being someone I'm not. I can't help but be me. But what about when me falls flat on me's face? I'd love to don an alter ego and escape from me once in a while. But alas, I've tried and it doesn't work. So I'm left with me. And most days it's ok. In fact I've learned that I like me. I've learned that as I grow and change and struggle and trust that God doesn't make mistakes, I see glimpses of the me He intends. But that fact doesn't make the identity crisis or insecurities any less a reality.

A few weeks ago someone near and dear to my heart wrote "Eat, sleep, work, repeat. Is this what life becomes?" I consider this young man a kindred spirit: pensive, reflective, analytical, searching, spiritual and discontent with good enough.

Eat sleep work repeat...

Is what we do who we are? work, cook, clean, eat, sleep, work

Are we what we feel? happy, sad, angry, jealous

Are we simply the sum of our roles? mother, daughter, wife, friend

Why am I a 44 year old who still feels like a teenager when I lose who I am and become insecure?

We all want to be liked. We all want to be important to somebody. We all want purpose. But you don't have to live long before eat, sleep, work, repeat takes over and you have no idea who you are.
Is this the life God intends? Or do we fall into identity issues and insecurities because of pride--because we don't think we're getting what we deserve from life or work or those near to us? I know that's at least partially true for me. Somehow I'm fooled into thinking I got gypped along the way.

Then I read this quote by Oswald Chambers and a light begins to dawn on the horizon and I see my pride and futility. "The tendency is to look for the marvellous in our experience; we mistakethe sense of the heroic for being heroes. It is one thing to go through a crisis grandly, but another thing to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, no one paying the remotest attention to us...The test of the life of a saint is not success, but faithfulness in human life as it actually is...Our human relationships are the actual conditions in which the ideal life of God is to be exhibited."

Paul says to the Ephesians "God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."

So, we're His, our identity is His and our purpose is His... awkward adolescent moments and severe insecurities included.
**Photo: yes, that's a young Sarah Jessica Parker in "Square Pegs"**

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ain't too proud to beg...

In my Wednesday night Bible study, we've been meandering our way through the book of Mark. No study guide. No commentaries. No predetermined questions. We read, pray and talk. After over a year, we're up to chapter 7. Obviously, bulldozing through it is not our goal. Anyway, last night we discussed the part of chapter 6 where Jesus calms the winds when his friends are in their boat. My friend shared a story about her son and how God provided a "calming the winds" moment for her. He was not just restless, but screaming. She did all she could humanly do in the situation to calm him but nothing helped. She finally cried out to God saying "I can't do anything else for him, but you can. Please help him sleep." Within seconds, her sweet little autistic boy stopped screaming and fell fast asleep.
Coincidence? I think not.
This wasn't the first time she prayed for her little boy to rest and be calm but it is the first time they experienced an immediate response .
Did she pray differently this time? I don't know, but I don't think so.
I watched the movie
Big the other day. Tom Hanks was and is one of my favorite actors. This was the first roles of his that I really noticed and loved. Funny, poignant, simultaneously light and deep, it's a coming of age story like none other. Josh, a 12 year old, frustrated with being short and pushed around and told what to do, puts a quarter into Zoltar, a game at a carnival, and wishes to be big. Zoltar grants his wish and you'll have to watch the rest of the movie to get the end of the story.
Anyway, God isn't a Zoltar. We don't put in a prayer request and get our wishes granted.
Christians talk about prayer all the time.
It's a conversation...It's a dialogue...It's listening...It's presenting requests...It's mainly for praise...It's communion with the Holy...It's for God not us...It's for us not God...
Countless books on how to pray, when to pray, why pray...
Somehow we think you have to do it right or God won't hear--as if if our actions spark some sort of obligatory response from God, the Maker of the universe.
No, He's not obligated to respond any certain way.
So, why pray? To make ourselves feel better? To appease a glory-seeking ego centric puppet-master God? Because He commands us to pray?
Well, God does tell us to pray.
And it's clear, as you study the Bible that He wants us to pray.
But again, why? Again, as you study you'll find all sorts of reasons, but I guess that is not my point.
If you keep reading Mark to the end of chapter 6 it explains how Jesus and his followers travelled to towns "And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed."
They begged him...
Desperate, needy, humble...they begged him.
The last several weeks, I've felt desperate before God. My whole life, I've been learning what it means to truly trust a huge, mysterious, perplexing God and say "Your will be done" all the while throwing myself on His mercy and begging for His healing and intervention not only for myself, but for others. Trusting and begging can coexist. Look at those in the marketplace who touched his robe.
Beggar poor, I show up at Mercy's door. Nothing to offer, everything to gain. And He let's me touch His robe and I know there's healing. Not always an immediate calming of my storm, but a healing I can't explain. A Light that shines into the deepest darkest parts of this soul.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Labeled a "drama" I knew what I was getting into. But I'd heard it was good and I could handle some drama.
Amid flashbacks and beautiful scenery, the first few minutes gave me an idea of the intensity level and quality of the film. I didn't want to, but 15 minutes in, I had to stop the movie. I turned it off and went to my meeting knowing I wouldn't get a chance to watch the rest until the next day.
Only 15 minutes of the movie made an impact. Last night, I dreamt of it. And it was a frightening dream. We were in danger; at the hands of evil men masquerading as friends. And in the dream fear gripped me and I didn't want to do what I knew I needed to do. But I thought (in the dream) this is the year of yes...ok...this will probably end in my death, but yes...I'll go with what I'm supposed to do and not succumb to the fear.
Well, I don't know the end of the dream because I made myself wake up.
Yes. I'm one of those people who seem to have some control over my dreams. It's inconvenient in this case because I'd like to know if I survived and how.
I finished the film today and loved it...all the gritty, sad, thrilling, redemptive, dark parts of it. It's one of those movies that seems strange to label as entertaining. Thought provoking is a more apt phrase.
But this post isn't actually supposed to be about the movie. It's about the yes. Just two short weeks after writing that post where I claimed yes as my word for the year and I feel like I'm right back where I started: motivated by fear rather than trust, struggling with the same thought patterns, saying yes when it's convenient or easy and running when it's hard.
Example: I sat in a long meeting yesterday and didn't contribute a thing. Partly because I didn't have a lot to add, but mostly because I didn't want to look like an idiot. I was out of my element. It was a large group. There were lots of scary men.* Everyone had a basic level of knowledge about the subject that was far beyond mine.
Why do I say yes to these negative, counterproductive thoughts and no to risk and trust?
I've been beating myself up a little today** over it but then my dream came back to me. I said yes in my dream. The will and desire are there floating around in my subconscious. Now for the actions to be in the real world. That will be a happy day.
As I reread the above, apart from being annoyed by my ramb-ly writing and inability to articulate what I really mean, I feel I need to explain my yes year. I do and always have said yes when it comes to relationships. God's made it very clear that there's no saying no when He wants someone in my life. No matter how taxing, annoying, draining or needy they are, if He put them in my life it's for a reason. I guess what I mean by saying yes is that I naturally shy away(run) from anything that might bring conflict. I also know I'm prone to take the road of least resistance when it comes to life in general. And the life of least resistance becomes an ordinary, boring life where growth is difficult and stagnancy results. So, my quest of yes is a quest for greater trust. A quest to look for and see God's vision and willingly embrace it.
I'm curious, when is it hard for you to say yes in life?
*They weren't really scary or mean at all--it's just me and my issues.
**Don't worry, more like self-deprecating than beating.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


It's quiet.
After a busy weekend culminating with six college boys in the house, we spent two more days hunkered down in a snow storm. Our home and hearts full, we've enjoyed togetherness.

But now, now I need alone-ness.

At the moment I'm enjoying solitary reverie. But not for long. Even as I type I can hear Brad stirring.

Soon the quiet will be broken, the dim light of dawn will be swallowed up with bright daylight and my time for reflection will quickly take a back seat to last nights dishes and today's responsibilities.

Why do I revel in this early morning silence so much?

I crave it.

Is it simply the silence? Putting off responsibilities of the day?

I think not since the washing machines hums in the background.

Is it just wanting uninterrupted time alone?

As my kids get older, I have that...even at work I have that.

That community I so often write about desperately needing, that's what I crave...but it's community of a different kind.

Seeking communion, not with other humans, but with the Holy. I think that's what I love about my early morning self imposed sequesters.


Planned but never scripted, I simply seek and wait for the Holy.

And He's here in the quiet.

And He's here in His Words.

And He's here in the pages of books by authors throughout history who loved Him and sought Him out just like me.

And He's here in music and art and the silence.

And He's here even in the interruptions.

I used to worry when I couldn't concentrate on mornings like this. When it's hard to focus and my minds wanders. I used to think that somehow I'd miss Him because my mind jumped back and forth between eternity and earth. What a silly thought.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.*

I can't miss Him because of a wandering mind--only because of a wandering heart.

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart, Lord
Take and seal it
Seal it for thy courts above.
~Robinson: Come thou Fount

*the prophet Jeremiah (29:13)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I'm a Needy Bleacher Sitter

We've never had cable but for Christmas, we got a Wii and upgraded our Internet so we could enjoy Netflix through our tv. It's been great. We're loving marathon sessions of Dirty Jobs, The Cake Boss, and Man vs. Wild. And let's face it, one or two episodes of Hoarders and the need to purge and clean overtakes me--so all this tv is a good thing--really.
Anyway, the other day I watched the movie "About a Boy". As the movie started I questioned my decision to spend an hour and a half watching yet another shallow Hugh Grant film. But a few minutes in I realized there was more. The basics of the movie: completely shallow, lazy self-centered man who doesn't think he needs anyone meets a troubled, loved but needy boy who realizes he can't count on himself and his mother. "There has to be three." the boy states early in the film. This isn't a romantic comedy, so his crazy mother does not end up falling in love with Hugh Grant--thank goodness. But through some tragic events, everyone in the film eventually realizes that they are not islands. We need other people.
Even as a little girl relationships took center stage in my life. I'm wired to seek out meaningful relationships. I need them. And although I know the last statement is true to the core, it seems hard to admit. You see, I like to think of myself as independent. Not an island, exactly, but maybe a peninsula. Desiring friendships but needing no one.
Yeah. That doesn't work.
When I'm honest, which happens once in a while, I know that I'm in constant, desperate need of soul contact with other people. Without it I whither up. Case in point: last month for at least two weeks I was close to despair over my lack of connection with those near and dear to me. Life got busy, schedules got crazy and community took a back seat to every one's kids, husbands, and obligations.
Referring to what her busy life with teenagers had become, someone recently said to me "I don't have friends, I have people I sit with in the bleachers." It wasn't true; she has friends. Real friends and I'm one of them. But I knew exactly what she meant.
Wednesday night I met with a few dearly loved friends. We talked, laughed, ate & drank...and reconnected. Honesty and authenticity abounded as we caught up on each others lives. I went to bed refreshed (despite the late hour) and content.
The next day, the next day, at my sons basketball game I arrived early and sat in the bleachers, alone. And that's how it stayed all night. The bleachers filled up. But around me, there was a 5 foot bubble. I didn't grow up here. I didn't attend this high school. I don't have family here. I'm not known here--or at least by this set of parents. So, I don't think anyone was being mean--they don't know me. But as I sat there, smiling at people, trying to seem warm and friendly, wondering if I had a booger hanging out of my nose or garlic-y breath that was clearly repulsive, I realized yet again that I need people. Whether it's the close, dearly loved family and friends and fellowship I experienced Wednesday night or the seemingly shallow contact at a sporting event. I need people. Even cheering for your kids means more if you're cheering with others.
We all need people. And if you think you don't, you're wrong. If you think you can handle life alone--or mostly alone--you're wrong. You can't. If you've been burnt in relationships and disappointed by people and think it's better alone, you're wrong. And if you believe in God and think it can be just you and God, you're wrong. He's given us others for a reason and purpose so that we can show His love to each other so we don't get swallowed up.
So, how will I handle the next basketball game? I'm not sure; maybe come late and find another lonely needy bleacher sitter.

**my posts of late are ramble-y. i thinks it's age. You may have also noticed that I use larger and larger font. Also age.