Consistency, Language, and Lent…

I thought I had hit my stride on treating myself well and working out and it all goes so well… until I get tired, until I get bored, until I get sick, until until until… I have so many excuses about not doing things that make me feel GOOD once I’ve done them.  All these road bumps get discouraging. No wonder as Christians we have seasons to focus on consistently doing things that don’t always provide immediate gratification. Continue reading

C is for Consistency

Consistent is a word that many artists seem to have a love/hate relationship with. I think we’d love more consistency with our budgets, creativity, maybe even our schedules. I think it’s scary because consistent can seem like a euphemism for boring, stagnant, or done by rote. I’m writing this post to tell you that it doesn’t have to be. Continue reading

You Can’t Fake a Deep Breath

In an earlier blog post, I mentioned Kristin Linklater’s awesome quote on how holding your breath makes part of you absent. I think that observation is one of the intimidating things about activities that make you take deep breaths and truly be present- acting, yoga, birth, prayer, rest (not just sleeping but sabbath day take a break or a vacation conscious rest…). All of these activities make me recognize my own humanity, my frailty, my imperfections. Continue reading

Baking #14: Hot Cross Buns

I learned this Lent, from someone in my church group, that hot cross buns are a Catholic tradition for Good Friday. I had no idea! In fact, I had never even tried hot cross buns until a dear friend baked some for my bridal shower several years ago. Before that, I thought they were just nonsense words in a nursery rhyme song you learn to play on the recorder in elementary school music. (one a penny two a penny….) Regardless, I remember them being delicious (which made me a little confused because usually Lent means giving up all the delicious) so I decided to go do a little research.  Continue reading

Holy Week and Lessons from my Baby

Even though it’s April already (how did that happen?!?!) I wanted to write one more entry geared toward belief as we head toward the triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. I wanted to share some ways that having a baby has changed the way I’ve started to think about my relationship with God. There are a lot of parent/child comparisons in the Bible, referring to God as a heavenly father and I don’t think I was ever really comfortable with them and never really understood them until I had my own child and felt the immense love I do now,

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I can’t contain all the love I feel for this little guy!!!

the willing sacrifices every day with no expectation that my son “deserve” or “earn” them. Continue reading

Needlework, Discernment, and a Favorite Worship Song…

messy needlework

Any idea what this picture is on the right side?

One of my favorite parables or well known sermon stories is the idea that our life is like a tapestry. When you work on needlework such as embroidery or making a tapestry or even cross stitch, the working side or the “wrong side” looks like a total mess. You may be able to see some echo of the colors or patterns, but it also has all of the tangles and knots and awkward criss crosses. The parable goes that during our life, we see the working side of the tapestry God’s creating, but He sees the gorgeous picture on the other side. I like it because I like the idea of using a metaphor of what is traditionally women’s work and undervalued to show God’s plan. I like it because it resonates  with the nonlinear. I like it because when I think about when I do needlework, one of my favorite parts is looking at the wrong side and seeing the echoes of the right side.

In my first post about Lent, I wrote about how nervous I was to not go in with one set plan of what I was giving up. I’m finding some daily challenges and realizations from being open to this lenten journey. I’m getting a little better at looking at the patches of color instead of desiring a road map… well, I am sometimes. But for today, I wanted to write about those glimpses of the big picture or echoes of the final piece if you will. These aren’t all the moments I’ve had those glimpses, but there are a few big ones, and they are some that make me smile.

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How many people are lucky enough to still be crazy for their group of friends from high school?!

*8th Grade- I am in a show with my local theatre troupe. I am having a hard time in middle school (seriously, that’s the one period of my life I don’t think you could pay me enough to relive.) and I am already a proud nerd. I love theatre and reading and anything to do with words. A fellow cast-mate has noted this and asks me if I will come take an admissions test with her for a school she really wants to go to in a few months “since you’re a nerd and all, you probably like tests, right?” We laugh at the idea, but I entertain it. A little voice in my head or maybe my heart keeps telling me to do it. I ask my mom about it. The admissions test is for Xavier- a private Catholic school. I apply; I take the test with my friend; I get in and she does not. After that potentially awkward realization, I end up going to Xavier. My life is changed forever and I make some of the best friends in the world.

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Don’ know what I’d do without this beautiful tropical fish.

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All this joy from a silly children’s theatre show.

*I am in 10th grade. I am in a theatre troupe (I promise not all my stories start this way!) and the director has asked me to try out for a ridiculous adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk. I tell him I’m not sure if I’m interested or can fit it into my schedule, what with the absurdly challenging school I’m attending. He asks again, and I give in but tell him I don’t think my parents will want to drive the commute down to the theatre every night. Something in my head or heart keeps telling me to audition anyway. I get cast. I meet another cast-mate who can drive and happens to live about five minutes from my dad’s house. I pester him with questions every night on the drive home and eventually he becomes one of my best friends. I go see him in one of his first college plays and fall in love with the campus and the theatre program. I end up at the same program and I make some of the best friends in the world.

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These girls are seriously the best. All that time at the beach wasn’t bad either!

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That’s a lot of Pepperdine love in one tiny picture!

*I am a college graduate. I am living in New York City even though everything inside me told me to stay home after I came back to Arizona for Christmas. I am probably the most miserable I have ever been. nycI am isolated even though I have friends in the city. I am exhausted. I am broke. I am angry and scared. I decide, forget this- I’m running away from the real world. I’m going to become a nun. That familiar little voice inside me is pestering me about how much I want children (and also about how nuns still live in the real world) and I tell it to hush up, I’ll join the BVMs and work with school children. I inquire into joining a convent. I don’t tell my mother as the one thing she made me promise when she agreed to send me to Xavier was that I wouldn’t become a nun and deny her grandchildren. The BVMs let me know that you can’t officially join the sisterhood if you have student loan debt. Since I went to Pepperdine, I anticipate being in debt forever. I’m even more angry. I decide to say FINE GOD, if you won’t let me into a church vocation because student debt then SCREW YOU! I will just go to grad school and take on SO MUCH DEBT IT WILL MAKE YOUR HEAD SPIN! (I’m pretty sure God laughed. Seriously, He can take our anger. It hurts us, not him.) I leave the city to go to a graduate school I would never have heard of if a random friend from high school hadn’t Facebook messaged me about the program. I go to the program in spite of many warnings about the foolishness of the cost (and I would probably give those same warnings to my friends and family). In spite of the tuition and working while being a full time student and rehearsing plays, I make some of the best friends in the world.

*It is two days before graduate school starts. I happen to go see a play with one of my soon to be classmates. We start talking and we can’t stop. We can’t stop on the way there, at intermission, on the way home, and most of that night. A little voice inside me says maybe we could keep talking forever. 946436_911721530666_966131363_nBy the time we graduate we still haven’t stopped talking and we share a last name. We still haven’t stopped talking today, even when our son makes us feel so tired we aren’t sure we’re coherent. Through our marriage, I catch  glimpses of that beautiful, beautiful tapestry. Some people call that experience a sacrament.

The Jesuits have a word- discernment. “Discernment- a word that describes the process of coming to understand how the Lord is calling you and inviting you to serve Him.  It is a spiritual and personal journey.  It is a journey of understanding, of seeing and acting.” I like to think of discernment as a way of quieting all the noise around us every day and spending time trying to hear that little voice inside. Some call this voice intuition, others the benevolent universe, others the holy spirit. So far, my Lenten journey has been about getting back to a place where things are quiet enough to hear that voice again. I’ve been keeping my phone around less, cutting out pre-bed Facebook time, and seeing what it’s like to walk or drive in silence once in a while. It’s uncomfortable so far, but I have a feeling it will get easier.

Something else I’ve been doing is longing for community. Because meeting those amazing friends and sharing my journey with them doesn’t make discernment harder. Those other people make it easier. Most of my closest friends don’t live so close geographically. I cherish the community of friends I already have, but I’m hoping to keep building a local community too. The people I share my stories with are one of the most beautiful aspects of my life… and that brings me to one of my favorite worship songs. I don’t have a lot to say about it because I think it speaks for itself, but I hope you’ll take a few moments to listen to it. It was the song we chose to have as a reflection song at our wedding and it’s one of my favorite memories of that day.

Any favorite tapestry glimpses in your life? or favorite parables for God’s plan in your life? I’m loving cultivating this time to reflect and redirect.

Lent: Mary & Martha & Hard to Measure Goals

***Originally Posted on 2/19/15 This is the last of my old posts crossing over. new content from here on out!***

I went to a great session of my church’s MOMS group last week. The topic was Lent and it left me with a lot to think about. Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is, perhaps surprisingly, my favorite part of the liturgical year.  It has been a time to reflect and pray and make major changes in my daily and spiritual life. I usually go into Lent having a pretty clear idea of what I need to work on the most to draw closer to God, but I was extra appreciative of my church group last week because this year I am at a loss.

My favorite Ash Wednesday meme…

Since becoming a parent, so much has seemed to change and get thrown up in the air. I can feel on top of the world one day and at a total loss the next. The shenanigans questions of “balance” and “having it all” are constantly nagging at my head. I’m a multi-tasker by nature and suddenly I feel like I need to get all that multitasking I used to do done AND take care of my child AND contribute to start saving up for the next big life event. Everything is very full speed ahead and it has left me with very little time or mental space to really sit and contemplate what I need most in my spiritual life.

Luckily, one of our MOMS group facilitators suggested checking out this website and I ended up getting the Lenten journal that website came up with. The journal is called Only One Thing and it seems to be the perfect thing for me right now.  The title comes from a passage in Luke about Mary and Martha. Those of you who are not familiar with this story, Martha is a lot like most of us- she is trying to do ALL THE THINGS, especially because Jesus is visiting her and she wants it all to be perfect for him. Her sister, Mary, is sitting at Jesus’ feet, being with him, listening to him, not necessarily doing anything the world would judge as “productive” which of course makes Martha angry. She asks Jesus to tell Mary to help her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things: there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

So I’m going to prayerfully work my way through this journal which gives you one word a day to focus on with the day’s readings. The focus of my Lent this year is scary for me because it seems the things I’m supposed to abstain from are over-commitment and guilt. It would be much easier to keep track of giving up chocolate or hot sauce. It’s scary because the world won’t necessarily see or understand these sacrifices as they would with a good natured teasing session when people aren’t eating hamburgers on Fridays. It is scary because odds are good I will fail multiple times over these 40 days, and I REALLY like to succeed. I like being the straight A student. I like being able to check something off my to-do list and those things need to be easily measured. I like having visible, outward indications of my achievements. I am such a Martha.

Trying to break this way of thinking…

I am excited and nervous for what this season will bring. Lent is a beautiful time of reflection and sacrifice and change. I wrote in some comments earlier that perhaps the surprise “B” in my year of Bs is Bravery. It takes a lot of bravery to let go of the plans you have, to be uncertain about what is next, and to trust that God will take care of it and will love you as much through your failures as your successes.