Friday, October 8, 2010

The place is inside of me, like my heart Is inside of me.

The place is inside of me, like my heart
Is inside of me.

Beating away while I go on thinking
About everything
But it.

Beating silently, until I take off
Running, like a kid,

That it will leave me panting on the grass,
Listening to it

That is why I need you to talk with me
About the angels
We met

And the demons we left behind and what
It means for us to
Be gone,
Because I want to begin the rhythm
Of my future, but
The past

Still remains inside of me, like my heart
Is inside of me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I have started back to school for yet another year.

I have started back to school for yet another year. I am hoping, and have good reason to believe, that this will be the last year. It has been strange to go back after almost two years away from everything, and I mean seriously far away from everything. I'm only 23, but going to school with 18 year olds makes me feel about a million years old. I don't know the pop culture references, or the new lingo, or have the cool clothes, or know how to work those phone/computer things everyone has now. Also, I'm married, so to them I think I might as well be 30. Honestly, I look at the random 50-somethings that show up in my classes from time to time, being taught by people half their age, and I do not know how they do it. A lot of determination I think, and a good sense of humor.

All that being said, I am actually really enjoying the learning part of all of this, even more so than the first time around I think. I am really glad that I chose to study the things I chose to study, even though they will, almost certainly, provide me with no practical job skills. Lately I have been thinking, wait... why am I studying this stuff? I mean I know I chose English and theatre because I like them, but... why do I like them? I have loved to read for as long as I can remember, and, probably as a result of that, or a few genes from my dad, I have always been a passable writer. I got started with acting when I was in elementary school and just kept it up all through middle and high school. I guess it makes sense that I would just continue doing what I've always been doing when I got to college, but I think there is a deeper reason for my interest in these things, because heaven knows there is no practical motive.

Lately, I mean in the past year or so, I have been writing recreationally a little more than usual, always non-fiction or poems that have origins in my experiences, never made-up stories that require levels of creativity and ingenuity which I just don't have. Even though I have been writing for years, I have never been so much as tempted to try writing fiction [this is actually getting somewhere eventually, I mean it], which I always just chalked up as another one of my many insecurities, but which I now think has something to do with my real reason for studying the things I am studying, which is: stories. Not just stories in the sense of plays or novels, but even, and especially, the often unwritten, unknown, important stories of people's lives. The fact that novels and plays, about fictional people and overarching themes and underlying meanings, even exist screams that there is something more important about our lives, too. I think the only difference between our every day, mundane lives and the extraordinary lives of people in books is that great writers know how to eloquently express common events in such a way that reveals their true complexity.

I guess that is why I have been pouring over books since before I could even read, and why I fell in love with theatre before I even understood how it worked, because if the people on the stage and in the stories matter, then my story and my life matters, means something, is worth telling, too. Really, I guess that is why I blog, because all the stories I have ever read have convinced me that every person's ordinary life has a deeper meaning that is worth discovering, and if everyone else's does, then shouldn't mine, even with all its insecurities and mistakes, mean something extraordinary too? Not only my choice of major, but the movies I watch, the music I listen to, the photographs I take, the books I read, my writing and journaling, all of it, is driven by the conviction that, when I die, the life I have lived will be a story about God's seamless weaving of himself into each of my days, and that every relationship, mistake, joy, and heartache will matter.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

So much has happened in the past month.

So much has happened in the past month. Within the last 30 days, Andy and I have discovered a serious mold problem (among a mounting list of other problems) in our old place, attempted to stick it out, started getting sick from it, had to stop using the little A/C that we require because (without the proper instillation/drip pan) it was making the mold problem worse, attempted to get our landlord to notice us, discovered a 30-day notice clause in our lease, searched like crazy for a new place, sent our 30-day notice (which still failed to get our landlord to notice us), prayed like crazy that we would have enough money to actually be able to leave, found a great place with a highly recommended landlord which we sadly couldn't afford, were directed to a roommate who could share the cost, signed the lease, packed up our stuff, moved about four blocks to our new place (above), found a fridge, unpacked, prayed that the fridge would start working, spent a week settling in, cleaned the old place, gave the keys to the old "landlord," and finally bought food to put in our newly repaired fridge!

By now, a huge weight has been lifted from our shoulders and we are spending a quiet Saturday in our new place. To be honest, though, the events of the the past month temporarily catapulted our economic situation into an entirely different realm than we were previously experiencing. I have often heard it said that many families in America are just one emergency away from poverty and I certainly believe it. Without the added pressure of a new deposit, we probably could have squeezed by, as if we were fine on our own, as if we didn't need anyone. Honestly, this is the way my sinful nature likes to live, feigning capability. Even the act of applying for food stamps was a little to close to admitting our true desperation for my comfort. Still, I am ten times more comfortable allowing my needs to be supported by an institution than by my willing brothers and sisters. Why is that? It may seem strange to be talking about our financial need so openly, but I only say this to express how dependent we are on God's grace and His people. There is so much in the story of our moving experience that is completely dependent on the generosity of the wonderful people in our lives. It was a good friend who found us this place and a roommate to share it with. Other friends graciously offered us cleaning and painting jobs at their homes so that we could build up the money for a deposit. A good friend of ours gave us a wonderful reference on our housing application that made the landlord eager to give us a discount. My family came down to help us move out and clean. A friend of my mom's gave us the fridge that we needed for our new place and a kind repair man gave us a discount on the price to fix it. Add to this countless other offers for help that might have been more quickly accepted if not for my pride. In the end, we are living in a way better place and paying considerably less each month than we were before. People have been so eager to help and things have fallen into place so well that I can't help but be utterly convinced that God has not abandoned us, that our need is actually a gift, the gift of tangibly experiencing God's grace and love more than we possibly could have otherwise. I truly believe that, as human beings, we all desperately need each other more than we are willing to admit. Maybe situations like these are just tangible reminders of our deeper spiritual need for community.

On a lighter note, here are some more pictures of our new place. We couldn't be happier with it. It feels peaceful and everything works well. It even has air conditioning and a dishwasher, which, though I hate to admit it, are two little luxuries that I'm pretty happy to be indulging in. I think it will take a few weeks for this to feel like our actual home that we get to come home to each day. Right now it kind of feels like we are on vacation from our old place! In all of this, I continue to be amazed by God's mercy in providing us with far more than we deserve or could ask for. I feel completely surrounded by a never-ending circle of grace upon grace.

crafty husband fixing the chairs

our little miracle fridge

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Today, as I was leaving the public library, I heard the distinct sounds of live pow-wow music.

Today, as I was leaving the public library, I heard the distinct sounds of live pow-wow music. I followed the sounds to a back room of the library where there was actually a drum group performing. In Tennessee. At the public library. I don't think I have met a single Native American person since I have been back here, much less an entire group. For about twenty minutes my whole world froze. I was running late and my meter had expired, but I just couldn't move. I'm trying to resist the idea that this means anything. All I know is that I felt an overwhelming urge to cry, no sob, and that I can't really say exactly why.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I had pretty much given up blogging for a while.

I had pretty much given up blogging for a while, but a couple of people asked me to update, and since that is more people than I even thought read this, I guess I will write a little something.

At the end of April, the coffeehouse at which I had a part-time job had to let go off a few people and I was among them. I finished up my semester at UTC, then started looking for a new job. It has been more difficult than I anticipated. As of today, I am still jobless, but, luckily, Andy has maintained his job, so we are making things work. I’ve heard from multiple sources that the best thing to do when you can’t find a job is to volunteer, so today I signed up to teach ESL to newly arrived refugees with an organization that I came across called Bridges Refugee Services. I have no idea what it will be like but I am pretty excited. I think people recommend volunteering when you can't find a job because at least you are gaining some practical experience during the down time. Mostly, I just don’t want to look back on the summer realizing I wasted all my time thinking that a job was just around the corner, when I could have spent those three months doing something productive. Also, I think it might be as good of a way as any to keep from going crazy. So for now, Andy is the primary “breadwinner” of our little family, and we are living paycheck to paycheck. I know that people usually use that term in a negative way, and I am in no way saying that it is easy, but it took the first few months of our marriage just for us to get to the point of having significant paychecks, so it very much feels like a positive thing. For many families, with children to support or with additional financial burdens, living paycheck to paycheck would not be enough, but for us, in our present circumstances, it is the perfect place to be. In some ways it feels kind of like the modern day version of manna from heaven. Each month, God provides us with just enough to pay the bills, to buy the groceries, and maybe to go on a date to the dollar theater. He gives us our daily bread--our bimonthly bread really-- but never as much as would cause us to forget our dependence on him, to think we have it all under control through our own efforts. Still, we are abundantly blessed beyond what we deserve. Still, at some point during each day I am again overwhelmed by how fortunate I am to have Andy and for us both to have our health and a roof over our heads. I just don’t feel that I could fairly ask for a life any more wonderful than that.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The other day I did something that, to be honest, I haven't done in a pretty long time.

The other day I did something that, to be honest, I haven't done in a pretty long time. I sat down with the bible and I opened it and I read. I read the first few chapters in the book of John. Now I know I probably shouldn't say things like this, but the fact that I hadn't read it in a long time, kind of made me look at it with new eyes. When I got to the middle of chapter 3, where John the Baptist's disciples are kind of annoyed that everyone is going to Jesus to get baptized instead of them, I was reminded of myself. John says to them:

“No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less."

I think John's disciples probably got really caught up in this awesome vision John had, of baptizing and preaching in order to prepare people for Christ's coming. Maybe they got so caught up in it, that their lives became all about the means--baptizing, instead of the end goal--pointing to Christ. So when this thing they lived for and found their identity in was taken away, it tore them up. I think that is where I am at. In the past, I have felt a very specific call on my life, to build relationships with people in poverty. Last year, living in Pine Ridge, I had so much time and room to do this and I felt so connected to God's desire for my life. So when we moved here, to Chattanooga, I thought all I have to do is fill my extra time with volunteering and relationships or something and I will feel that satisfaction again, I will feel connected to God. But it didn't happen. In fact, all it did was drain me and cause me to feel like I was constantly letting people down in every area of my life, so I had to let it go. The fact that I can't do the things I love and instead spend all my time at work or school drives me crazy! I think its because I've lost the things that I find my identity in. I'm almost positive that my intentions with volunteering and building relationships with people here weren't actually in order to show God's love, but simply to maintain my own understanding of who I am. I think I had good intentions in Pine Ridge, and I think it really was God who set in my heart the passions that led up to my time there. Somewhere since then, though, the means became its own ends. So, basically, I sympathize with John's disciples. I think John is reminding them that this is simply the way God chose for them to be his love at the time. I think I will always feel a draw to the things God has called me to, but maybe that is not what he has for my time here. I honestly don't know. Maybe he is just trying shout to me that I am not the things I do!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Almost three months ago, Andy and I began our marriage.

Almost three months ago, Andy and I began our marriage. Even just in these three short months it has been better and harder and more than we could have ever imagined. Even our wedding day itself wasn't exactly what we set out for it to be. We had planned a nice simple outdoor wedding in the park. We both love the fall, and Andy first told me he liked me on an October 17th so, that being a Saturday this year, we decided it was perfect. We did a little research and found Octobers in Tennessee to have fairly reliable dry and mild weather, so we went for it. We envisioned a barefoot ceremony in the middle of a circle of trees. A few days before the wedding, though, the weather took a turn and we were forced to figure out what to do with our outdoor wedding with temperatures in the fifties and below. We had our hearts set on that park so we worked around it and, for the sake of our guests, gave up on the circle of trees. Instead, we got married under a pavilion where the cold winds wouldn't be quite so harsh. I'm pretty sure everyone was still freezing though. Thank you to all that stuck it out! As you can see, Andy and I decided to still go barefoot and I'm sure we made everyone cold just looking at us. Nonetheless, we got married and everyone survived.

When I think about our wedding the main thing I remember, the thing I think I will always remember, is walking down the aisle towards Andy. Something in that moment just struck me and overwhelmed me. I hadn't even thought about the possibility of crying in the ceremony, but there I was, not even half way down the aisle, and tears are streaming down my face. That exact moment, walking towards Andy, felt so unexpectedly holy. In fact, I think it may have been the holiest thing I have ever experienced, to commit my life to someone else, and for someone to do the same to me. More importantly, for both of us to present those commitments to God and for God to be there and feel so present, more present than I have felt Him in a long time. It was just so overwhelming, so I did what I always do when I feel almost every other emotion, I cried. And Andy cried, and we took a deep breath and got it all out and then we married each other. It was great. I like him a lot. Which is good because then we spent the next two weeks driving across the country with each other, seeing beautiful things we had never seen before and may never see again. We saw the Great Salt Lake, and the Pacific Ocean, and the Redwood Forrest and Fisherman's Wharf and the Grand Canyon. We also saw a whole lot of the Northwest and the Southwest and each other. We had time to just be together, without planning a wedding and without worrying about the future. We played board games and had breakfast for lunch and took walks on the beach. It was hands down the best two weeks of my life. As crazy and stressful as our days are now, I am so thankful for the part of my life that started as I walked toward Andy. It sounds insane, but every day as I wake up, some days at 5:30 in the morning, most days not sure how we are going to pay the next bill, I am still so glad that I made the choice to be with my best friend.