Saturday, January 31, 2009

the real world

I've waited a couple days to post this, mostly because the accompanying photo is horrible of me... but the story that surrounds it is something I want to remember, so I"m getting over my double chin and blogging it here.

My friend Julie started a new job this week... and it's been an amazing opportunity for me to watch God at work in and through her.

She's working for a company where most everyone is younger (I wonder sometimes about going back to college, or culinary school and am aware i'd be twice everyone else's age), she is in the real world (vs. ministry world) where people are real, different, all over the place in their spiritual journey and many of them take smoke breaks.

Day two of her job Jay and I were missing her and wanted her to know that we were thinking of her, so we put together a care package, with things to help her fit in at her new job. I'm not telling what all we put in the package but I did buy my first pack of cigarettes that day. As I left my boss/pastor in the car, ran to the counter and said, "can i have your cheapest package of cigarettes?" I realized I must have looked like a real strung out smoker... :-)

In my life, I'm mostly hanging out with believers, and this week I've been challenged as I hear Julie's stories about spiritual conversations she's falling in to quite naturally. It makes me long for a little more of that rather than all the conversations I'm in about how to do ministry better.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A cry for help answered

Thursday afternoon I sat at my desk crying.
It's right on schedule... it's mid January (which means after the long December workload) Mike lost his job and i was tired from 74 hours on campus last week. (before i get mail, this week was MUCH better!) but i was crying, none the less.

I had hit the wall. I couldn't remember being this discouraged. What was it that had me over the edge? A pile of wood in the new unfinished basement. You see our basement is finally about to be finished. Construction begins tomorrow after about a 4 year wait. And, all the props, scrap wood, art studio droppings which have accumulated were to be removed somehow before then. I've known about the wood well, for about 4 years as the pile has grown but I didn't realize it would be up to me to get rid of it. Naive, per norm.

Morale on my team is kind of low right now. We're doing more with less resources. Isn't everyone? This is a blog for another day, but the idea of saying that we had about 10 hours of hard physical labor to add to their day off Monday, well it was this managers nightmare. I was stuck, stumped and a puddle.

So, I swallowed my pride, realized that I wasn't alone and fired off a cry for help.
Honestly, I don't remember the last time I did this. I'm pretty stubborn, bordering on martyrdom. I pride myself on showing up first, serving strong, not asking someone to do something i won't do myself, solving my own problems, cleaning up my own messes, you know... pretty independent and then at times unhappy about the isolation of independence.

When my boss/friend Jay heard my cry he took the task on, told me he would handle it and that I wasn't invited to be involved, thank you very much.
Now, it was his day off.
He had knee surgery about a year ago and this task was going to involve lots of stairs and weight to bear.
He had also spent Fri/Sat (the other part of his weekend off) working with some friends on a Memorial service.
It was above and beyond his call of duty, to say the least.
He emailed some of the guys at church, i mentioned it to Michael and voila' they got busy and got done in 3 hours what would have literally done me and my crew in.

None of them will want me to sing their praises, in fact, Michael, said "this is not a blog" we can pretend this isn't about Jay McKenney, Tyler Braun, William Efird and son, Bob (Jay's father-in-law), Bryce Schroeder and Michael Fraser and learn that sometimes, when you live in community, it's ok to cry for help and let others help take care of things and you.

But acts of service is my love language and these guys are my heroes today.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

thinking like a 40 something

lately i've been realizing that i might be over the hill... on the other hand it's not all bad, it definately has it's benefits, being 40 something.

I'm more careful (full of care).
I have developed significantly meaningful relationships.
I feel things more deeply than i did when i was younger and there is a richness to experiences and moments that I may have taken for granted when I was younger.
I realize that life changes and try to savor what is here in front of me now.
There is also an awareness that life is pretty hard for most people and that how we navigate life when it happens to us is one of the most important ways we can reflect Jesus to people around us.

Recently our family got some tough news. Michael has been laid off from his job.
A friend asked me about how i would handle the news with the girls and as I thought about the answer I realized I want them to respond to the news as a full human being.

In their soul and relationship with God I want them to learn and to notice how God provides, how he is faithful.
Emotionally, I want them to be free to be afraid, to miss things they will do without, and to care for one another and especially Dad during a stressful time.
Mentally, I want them to engage in the challenge and be part of the solution, for us to pull together as a team.
I want this for them, and for me. But it's a grown up concept... to be well rounded and to engage all of ourselves in a challenge. Good thing I am over the hill...

Monday, January 19, 2009


“A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22)
This past week has been tough, long and stressful to say the least. I'll write more about it as the week goes on but for now I want to share this bit.

I was E to the X hausted Saturday night due to some extra work at a conference and got the chance to run out and have dinner with friends, between sessions. I literally felt like a zombie walking up the stairs to Jenni and Brian's new place. Didn't think I had the muscles in my face left to muster a smile (it's more work than frowning- haven't you heard?). In truth, I could have cried as easily as laughed.

As I entered the house I literally was transformed by the love in the room, the comfort of being surrounded by people you could be real with, I spent the next 30 minutes decompressing and warming up.

Then, the games began. As they must. If Jay and I are in a room together (not at work) for too long.
I don't know if this clip will make sense to the masses, but I want to save/savor it so am posting it here.

As I left to go back to work I realized a couple of things...
first, I was energized by being around people who I love and who know and love me. It would have been my instinct to not go to dinner, to curl up in a ball somewhere with chips/salsa and Si Senor bean dip but the charge I got from hanging out with them was tangible. I returned to work with a renewed focus and enthusiasm.

And second. I think I love special events because "I can be nice to anyone for a couple of days." One of the arrows the enemy uses with me is that "if you know me long enough I will disappoint you." The truth in there, and there is some, has prevented me from diving in to relationships, from being real, from gutting through the good, the bad and the ugly with people God places in my life in the past. But I realized, as I went back to the conference, to do what was easy relationally, that the success I feel when something like that is pulled off doesn't touch the warmth of true community, of love and laughter with people you really, and I do mean really know.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Boat Show

"Barn's burnt down... now I can see the moon"
11 years ago our house burnt down. The short story... mobile home + old space heater with bad wiring
The rest is much more important...

It happened the weekend of the boat show in Portland, so every year, this weekend, I remember...

I remember someone yelling my name in a theatre during the opening credits of the movie Firestorm (serious, I couldn't make that up).
I remember running out an emergency exit into slow falling snow as we ran to our car.
I remember pulling up our street to see firetruck lights flashing on our neighbors home.
I remember the smell the burnt memories and the surprise load of clean "reds" laundry in the washing machine.
I remember the moment we found out a neighbor had saved our dog, Belle.
I remember spending the night courtesy of the Salvation Army.
I remember shopping at Target for underwear and being grateful I had worn my favorite JCrew denim jacket to the movie.
I remember the phone call to both sets of parents.
I remember being grateful our kids were with Granny.
I remember going through what was left of the house, the next day.
I remember Chris' Goosebumps library on his shelf, melted and the faces of Molly's dolls.
I remember realizing I had lost my piano...

When you have a fire, you learn things...

I learned to sleep with bedroom doors closed.
I learned to mail pictures of your youngest child to your family sooner... we have very few pics of Abby as a baby/toddler.
I learned to store important things low because heat rises.
I learned that you may never know how kind people really are until you are in need.

One story I want to always remember is the day the kids came home from Granny's and we told them about the fire.
Mike and I rented an apartment that morning, I remember how cold and empty it was.
We made our way to my friend Elise's house and waited for the kids...
The telling of the story is a blur, all we could do was get through the story and be with them. Then we made our way to show them our new apartment.
I tried to get myself "up" for this, committed to make the best of it... and when we arrived it had been made a home by my friends... as if by magic, they had taken rooms and filled them with the things we needed, there were presents in the living room (this was only 3 weeks after Christmas) and cookies were baking in the oven when we arrived. Chris' school friends went together to replace his new N64, everywhere we looked there was love.

I know I am changed by this experience.
I care less about stuff and more deeply about other things.
And, I cry more easily, even now, when I think of the love that we were shown.

This is how long ago eleven years is... this is the first day outside our new home.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Christmas on New Years

We celebrated Christmas on New Years Day with Michael's family in McMinnville at Granny's house.

all of us (except Emily who was at work)the "kids table" though our grown up table... is pretty cool too

Gifts... How does your family handle gifts for one another?
This was year 2 of exchanging a $10 value gift "yankee trader" style. I like the idea, though i don't know if it worked out quite as well this year... And then each family also does something small for the other families.

My great (seemed like it at the time) idea was to make hot cocoa mix and homemade pretty marshmallows for everyone with a home (we now have grown up cousins in apartments etc.) Well... we had enough cocoa mix to sample 1 mug on the way to Granny's and it was SO thick, like eating a melted chocolate bar... and the marshmallows... never set up, so... not my best attempt. It's the first Tyler Florence recipe to fail me... so i'm figuring it was me.
My sister-in-law Karen... her gift this year was unbelievable, literally. She knit slippers for ALL of us... how cool is that? . She even knit them in the "right" colors for each kid... blue for Rice, navy/red and white for Westview and Orange/Black for our Beaver.

Turning a page...

this morning feels like the end of a story...

the past several weeks have been so unordinary... the weather, the season, Chris home... I'm honesty still trying to sort it all out.

When we celebrated Christmas (finally) with Mike's famiy on New Years Day all his sisters, and mom L O V E D being stuck at home. I did not. I just could never really settle in. I think it was primarily the lack of independence... the fact that I couldn't hop in the car and be/do what I wanted... as I write that I think of Heather in South Africa who has the challenge/priviledge to live in a culture where some of their freedom is quite limited for a good cause, a real reason. How silly my musings are in light of eternity...

Last night at the Christmas (in January) concert, as the snow was falling again, Jill talked about seizing moments... this hit me hard.

I wonder if I wasted some moments. I'm sure I did... as I entered Chris' room this morning to look for the left behind cell charger, I'm very aware he's gone again and I wouldn't mind if he was here, being tripped over in the kitchen again... on the other hand, as he reminded me several times this visit, he is a man now. And in so many ways he is. He is independent, thoughtful, capable and pretty self-sufficient. It's always interesting when he comes home, as it changes the dynamic in our house and shines a light on some of the ways that we've found a new normal, some good, some not so.

I've been forced to slow down. Yes, forced. People who know and love me wish I would do this on my own. But I don't. The past three weeks though has allowed me the opportunity to take stock, to pay attention and it's not been easy nor does it feel good. In fact, there's alot that doesn't feel good. Friends hurting. Relationships that need to change/heal. Ugly in me. Lots for God and I to work on in the new year.

One thing about being home was I did a ton of cooking! One night at Chris' suggestion we tried making Chicken Tikka Masala. It turned out that it was on the night Zena was coming over for dinner. Which was fun because 1- she likes Indian food and 2- took some pressure off... because she's very tolerant of my cooking. It tasted better than it looks. It was great to reconnect with Z... she's family and we haven't seen her in TOO long!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Tradition... Tradition!

A tradition of ours is bowling with the Schroeder's and other friends on New Years Eve. This holiday has been void of tradition due to the snow,so it was nice to do something that was 1- familiar 2- out of the house 3- with friends and family

(our famiy minus Mike who had to work late)

(Andy & Molly, Hillary, Abby, Marshall and Kelcee)

The general idea is that we don't care much about the bowling... but I do realize each year that I am a closet smack talker and pretty dang competitive, but it always gives me something to work on as a New Years resolution.

So long 2008...