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Redemptive Grace

Loving Jesus, Loving People….(including even me).

Month

January 2016

Girl In The Coffee Shop Window

The things they say about Portlanders are true-ish. Yes, we wear flannels and comfy boots to work AND dinner; our scarves are fashion statements akin to the LBD. oYes, we’re very serious about our coffee, but we’ll drink the gourmet stuff from growlers. Yes, we’re outdoorsy and prefer a hike in the woods over noisy malls. Yes, we’ve all got a list of our favorite neighborhood bistros that we’ll insist on taking you to when you visit.

It’s true: we ALL have blogs that we write sitting in café windows (not really).

In true Portland fashion, today I became that girl in the coffee shop window with a fistful of first-world problems, a handcrafted latte (the barista created a classic foam leaf for me-love that!), a notebook filled with passing thoughts, and a copy of developmental psychology lying lonely next to my laptop. I have succeeded in fulfilling a stereotype, and I liked it. coffee

Sitting there felt like siting in a storm of people and I was at the eye. People rushing through their lives, hurrying past to accomplish something, anything…they all seemed to have a familiar feature: each one seemed to have a distant trace of desolation in their eyes. I wanted to whisper, I notice you.

I see you with your friends, your un-voiced words, your overcompensating ego, Teenager, as you laugh an unsure laugh. You look vulnerable. I promise, you will not always feel this chaos.

I see you with your retro red lips, long dark curls, and your Pendleton wool peacoat, Twenty-Something, as you sip your cappuccino and contemplate your wanderlust. You look lonely. I promise, you will find your place.

I see you with your hands full of babies and toddlers and bags, Momma, as you walk past my window. You look resigned. I promise, one day soon you will be sitting in a coffee shop window noticing the young mother with the babies and toddlers and bags as you sip your latte in quiet.

I see you on your blue tooth, and your angry eyes, eating your breakfast of black coffee, Mr. Mercedes, as you speed by. You look distant. I promise, what you do is not who you are.

I see you alone in your booth watching me, your hands trembling slightly, Old Man, as you wonder about me and my piercings and tattoos. I see the life you’ve lived in the creases on your face. Promise me I will live a life worth remembering.

Today, I became that girl in the coffee shop window. Did you see me?

I saw you.

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m An Odd Choice, Too.

It’s student orientation AND just a week shy of my 34th birthday.

Sitting in the audience I’m very aware that I’m feeling as though I should at least be an adjunct with the other actual contributors  to society up there on the stage by now (Ohmyword…the voices in my head sometimes).

But I’m not. I’m just entering into the next phase of education. A phase that has been built on story: a paradoxical existence of faith and impatient mistrust, of grief and of grace, and especially built on the intersection of failure and accomplishment.images And I’m ok with that… maybe even content with entering into a new (Or rather, another) phase of education.

Well, today at least. Ask me tomorrow and I’m sure I’ll tell you I have nothing, have done nothing, will do nothing. Ever. But we’ll talk about that later….

Today I’m a fearless timid student, (Yes. Fearless and timid).  I thrive on the ideals of a future built on the very nature of my character juxtaposed with the God-given burden of passion I hold. Equally, I fear that I have nothing of true value to offer; that all that I am pursuing and asking for in my story is just a pipe dream of misinterpreted narrative. I know I am not alone in this conflict of self. As my new professor stood before her incoming class and described how being a professor was never something she wanted, she discussed the seemingly incongruent details of her journey to this point in her life. Towards the end of her story she made a statement that truly resonated with me. She said, “I’m an odd choice…”

This. Just…yes. Me too.

 As I had engaged throughout my orientation, I cycled through varying levels of emotions from contentment and assuredness, to trepidation and failure. I’m an odd choice for seminary. I’m an odd choice for counseling. I’m an odd choice for speaking and teaching. And yet. I am the choice.

Romans 8:30 seems to help a little with this war of emotions. Although, I am no theologian, I have been given a mind to speak and reason. When I read Romans 8:30, I am encouraged: thGranted, the scripture is often taken out of context somewhat, just as I have used it (To help overcome the apprehension of coming to the realization that I am most definitely an odd choice). Ultimately, this verse speaks to the saving grace of our Creator being consistent and present. However, I don’t believe it is wrong to overlay this verse with the tension felt of not knowing fully the path we are chosen to fulfill. It’s important to threcognize that we look at ourselves from a sea level viewpoint. It is really hard to understand anything of the terrain from that low a view,26earthatmospherehigh300 amiright?! Allowing the perspective to move to a fifty-thousand-foot view would cause everything to look a lot differently. The ministry for which we are individually and collectively created probably makes a lot more sense from up there (Imagine. God knows more about our contribution to the body than we do…).

I am stubborn. Forgetful. Blunt. Controversial. Impatient. Self-centered. Introverted. Inarticulate. I am an odd choice for the life of seminary, for counseling, for speaking. If you ask me I’d report myself better suited for movie critiquing, or pillow testing. Maybe even professional pencil sharpener. Yeah. I’d be real good at that.

And yet.

See, that’s the of the crux of this whole thing. Being the choice simply extraordinarily means that it isn’t about what I can and cannot do, it is wholly about being present to the kingdom of God that is here and now. Our Creator takes GREAT delight in each of us. In gifting us uniquely and contrastingly, so that His glory, His grace, might be more evident. Stepping into truest self is less about who you are and absolutely about reflecting the life-light of a Holy God.

thXDA9HO26

 

(Part Two) My Husband Love-Hates My Cat

When a story about a husband and a cat isn’t really about those two at all, it’s about the author and the lens through which she views her world.

Last week I wrote about the relationship between my husband and cat, alluding to what I hope was a deeper connection to the tale of a wounded heart and the beginning of healing. Now that Saturday-Post-Day is here, with every piece of my intelligence, I do not wish to follow through with ‘Part Two.’

Libby, “Oath of God.”

In the recovery of a broken marriage, Libby-cat has become an object of soothing affection. She has been a source of comfort, and a place to practice seeing a gentle connection where there has been deep pain. In my darkness I was given a promise of contentment. Yes, a cat is a strange place to experience a connection with my Creator, and with my spouse. However, her presence here is a story of promise and of redemption.

Isaiah 54 10God’s oath, or vow, to me as I struggled through the darkest months of my year and bonded with my cat was this: Isaiah 54:10, “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet, my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

This isn’t a promise of ease, it doesn’t diminish the hell of brokenness, it doesn’t offer health and wellness; and yet, in the midst of soul-crushing wounding…it shields. God didn’t say to me, ‘You shall suffer no pain, and know no sorrow.’ He offered a connection to a truth that spoke the story of deep-seated peace and contentment. Admittedly, there were more days and weeks and months of complete despair than I would wish on any soul. Days when my body took over and reacted to stress, when I would scream and be blinded by shear pain. And yet. My God redeems.

Psychology believes it to be resilience.
                                                 Faith knows it to be Grace.

When my husband holds Libby she simultaneously purrs and resists. I see myself in that action: wanting so desperately to be held close and needing the affection. At the very same moment not withstanding the nearness and offering complaint loudly. How often I have felt this paradox of stand near me/you’re not safe.

As a daily companion she reminds me of the nearness of God’s grace in my story.

Libby’s presence has given me a place to find joy; the belly-laugh type of joy. She’s given me a place to direct the emotional dissonance of a broken relationship. A place to focus my attention, to practice reconnecting, to observe my husband practice gentleness and attachment where I had lost eyes to see.

Libby is just a cat, she’s also therapy.

Part One

My Husband Love-Hates My Cat (Part One)

She insisted on going outside in the bitter-cold rain; she’s perched on the porch railing just outside of our kitchen window. They’re conversing as he’s tidying up the kitchen. Apparently, she’s requested that he goes out in his slippers and scratch her behind the ear as she crouches in the cold. She doesn’t want to be outside alone. She can’t bear it inside, either.

She’s a tiny thing as far as tabbies go.20150320_220435~2 I rescued her when she was two from the humane society while my husband and I were going through a very painful time in our marriage. I needed a therapy kitty who could love me through my darkest hours. Did I mention that I had also just put my twenty-year old rescue down the week before our separation? So that.

I named her Libby, “Oath of God.”

They met each other two months after I brought her home.

He’s outside in his pajamas in the near-freezing temps. They are lovingly disagreeing on their current situation. She mews that she needs him to stay close. He says it’s too cold, but stays. She can’t jump down because the barbecue is positioned so that she’d have to leave the small dry portion of the railing to get back to the door. He picks her up.

He cradles her like a baby while telling me he’d rid her with a ten-cent shot without question. She contentedly purrs, paradoxically she’s protesting this show of….affection…? And so it goes with them.

He says no cats on the sheets. The same thing he’s been saying for the entirety of our 15 year marriage. 20150330_234125~2Sophie was never allowed. Libby looks at him and meows. He opens up the blankets and she settles into the space between us. Under the duvet, inbetween the sheets. She’ll sleep here for as long as she’d like, he likes the warmth of her.

He calls her fur-baby.

He insists he could live without her, that he doesn’t like cats.

But Libby isn’t just a cat here. She’s become a physical object of philosophical meaning. Libby represents an oath, a vow, made to me by God; she is a symbolic representation of a broken relationship, and one of hope. And yes. I know she is just a cat, too.

(To be continued…)

Part two

Sacred Spaces

globe (2)Learning to be present in life, and discovering Sacred is a space eager to be known. 

Continue reading “Sacred Spaces”

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