Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Checking In

Things have gotten busy - really busy as of late.  Typically, this time of the quarter is centered upon finals week and finishing major papers without losing my sanity (or husband or son).  But this past month has brought with it two new housemates for our own home (well, four, if you count children, which I'm going to) as well as a huge R&R project for the back house of our rental property in downtown Los Angeles (and not the "Rest & Relaxation" kind, either!)

I'm learning (perhaps re-learning) things about myself in the process of all the repairs and renovations - and my husband.  For one, we manage projects very differently.  Two, we both struggle with the fear of making a wrong decision.  The stress that results from having to agree together (or relinquish control) has not been pleasant, but I'm happy to say that after two full weeks of a great deal of bickering and frustration with each other, we're finding our stride.  Still, I cannot wait until this is all over and we are ready to invite new tenants in.

Our new housemates have brought quite a bit of diversity to our own home (the apartment we reside in).  For the most part, our previous roommates have all been highly educated, working or in school, fairly moderate or progressive politically and theologically, and, well, ...white.  Our new housemates are different in almost every way.  It has been interesting (read:  enjoyable) so far although I suppose only time will tell how our differences will play out in the daily interactions we have.

I have been proud of myself for maintaining some level of commitment to my physical health in the midst of the incredibly long days we're working.  I've been to the gym more often than not and caught "forty winks" myself, during our son's nap time.

My food intake, however, has fluctuated between the extremes of moderate, healthy eating, and consuming lots and lots of shit (read:  Red #40, sugar, fat, and a whole host of preservatives and chemicals I normally try to avoid).  I've been pondering about the possibility of calling myself a "compulsive" eater.  In times past, I would never have admitted to anything of the sort, but lately, my obsession with obtaining and eating food has been obvious, even to me.  I'm not really sure what to do with these thoughts.  I've thought about going to OA.  I've considered just meeting with a few others I know and love.  I've mostly not done anything.  I know that's not where I want to stay, and to be honest, I don't believe I will.  But this remains a most mysterious and daunting area for me.

Spiritually/Philosophically, I'm in the same place.  How on earth did we come to be?  This universe is so magnificent, so outstanding that I cannot seem to believe that all that I see (it's actualization and potential) is the result of chance.  And yet, the very concept of God seem so outrageous, the belief that a Divine Being has created and is maintaining a world S/He will preserve until the end of time seems much more like fantasy than reality.  Or a really, cool video game where all the good guys beat the bad guys and get the ultimate prize of eternal life in bliss.  So, I can't seem to believe, and I can't not believe.  And of course, I'm still moved to the core about the violence, suffering, and evil in this world. Anyone have any good books on the topic?

In other news, the Occupy camp in downtown LA has been forced out.  That makes me disappointed.  (But we've finally decided to "Move Our Money" to a local credit union (TBD).  All of our retirement and investment accounts were already outside of the Big Banks (mostly in micro-investments through Calvert Foundation, some in CA state bonds), but our checking accounts were/are still in Bank of America.  Soon to be not, thanks to the strong testimony (and urging) of one of our community members in Urban Village of Pasadena).

Our winter garden is surviving - although I've seen birds pecking at my spinach leaves and have a strong suspicion they are "what happened" to all of our carrot tops, the first bed of spinach we planted, and a great deal of our beet shoots.  I must take the advice to cover our newly sprouted plants with bird netting next time - the devastation they cause is heart-breaking!  Still, the broccoli is coming along, as is the cilantro, and I can determine at least one strong garlic plant.

I've also expanded my knitting abilities and am trying a new cowl for my 3-year-old niece.  I'm getting very excited about its completion and deciding what to knit next.

But, I have an exegetical paper due on Monday, and so off to the library I go.  

Saturday, October 22, 2011


My midterm for my Hebrew Exegetical class "Jeremiah" is next week and I've been studying hard.  The last 2.5 hours have been met with determined resolve and diligence and I am nearly finished creating my study sheet.  And thanks to the Tall Pike with cream, my brain is alert and focused.

Until the last five minutes.  The pastry display case beckons and I have begun to imagine buying something sweet.  Bye bye Jehoiakim and Jeremiah's "Temple Sermon".  Hello rice krispy treat!

But I am not hungry.  And I have had a few weeks with renewed interest in trying harder around food and I don't want to give in to the desire for fear that it would quickly spiral downward.  And the money would not be well spent. 

And yet, my connections to food are strong and recovery is hard.  Very hard.  How do I prevent myself from giving in? 

Today, it is by sheepishly admitting to my unknown (and perhaps nonexistant) blog readers that I am feeling weak.  For some reason, admitting my desire lessens its power.  And so I hereby confess my desire to you, dear blogspot, and resolve not to eat anything.  And now that I've made room in my brain for the Jeremiah that remains, I will sign off and return to studying. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Joining the Revolution

Have you ever desired to spend more time at home?  To be debt free?  To be less tied to the extractive economy?  To have more time for family, for friends, for living?

Have you ever thought there was no way you could never possibly do that?

Think again.

How much money do you think you really need to survive?  In reality, there will be a magic number that is different for each person/couple/family, but I have a feeling it is a lot less than what most people conclude.

My husband and I live off of $12,000 per year in one of the most expensive cities to live in:  Pasadena, CA. 

How is that possible you say?


1.  We live in a city where bikes, feet, and public transportation are plentiful and cars are not a need.  (We do not own a car, but own two bikes).

2.  We have two roommates who share living space, thus making rent in an increasingly expensive city, much more affordable (Our share is $525/month).

3.  We know how to cook, scavenge, and look for food.  Cooking helps us eat well, healthy, and cheaply.  We have also dumpster dived when desiring that thrill, and visited food banks to help offset the cost of eating.  (We spend an average of $50 per week on food).

4.  We do not own cell phones, and granted, at times it is less convenient but saves a fair amount of money. 

5.  We do not pay for internet access.  We go to the library, the local coffee shop, our local school, or mooch off of something unsecured. 

6.  We utilize low-cost health care options.  I.e. My husband and I both had our teeth deep cleaned at our local community college by students in training.  While it took longer, it was very inexpensive ($20/person). 

7.  We do not have health insurance, home insurance, renter's insurance or any insurance.  This is the risk I think most people are not willing to take saying "What if you got cancer?"  "What if you got in an accident while riding your bike?"  "What if...?"  My husband continues to challenge me not to let fear be driving force in my life - and I would challenge others to do the same.  That being said, we do have a substantial nest egg we could use if something came up.  Sure - it would wipe us out - but what is money, eh?  (Some day I'd like to write a blog on the corruption of our health insurance system - and the moral reasons for not participating in it -but that is for another day).

8.  We are debt free. 

9.  We buy most items second-hand and try to make others.  

10.  We are learning the art of bartering.  (I.e. exchanging one service/item for another). 

In a recent conversation with a friend who was trying to find more ways to save money, my husband suggested she reduce her gas expenditures and take public transportation.  She responded with the usual:  "But I don't have time!"  My husband replied:  "Well, it's either time or money - what's more important to you?" 

I choose time.  (And by the way, the bus doesn't really take that much more time than a car - especially in Los Angeles). 

Friday, October 14, 2011


What is "wealth" to you?

To me, it is being home with lots of free time to play with our son.  It is waking up without the need to hurry and rush.  It is taking a leisurely lunch with the option of a nap after.  It is having enough flexibility to go on a vacation at the drop of a hat.  It is being able to spend the best hours of my day with my husband at my side.  It is living with less stress, less demands, less worry about how I'm going to find enough time to hang out with my friend, my son, my husband, myself.  It is having enough time to know neighbors, to volunteer for that which is important, to notice the small things.  It is being able to produce what we can, and buy what we need.  It is eating healthy food and breathing clean air.  It is being loved by friends. 

It doesn't necessarily mean having a large bankroll.

I have felt the wealth of a large bankroll.  It was nice - mostly because I could buy whatever trendy thing I wanted and give large amounts to organizations I liked.  But my life was busy and I got to the point where I longed to be compensated with time vs. overtime pay (which is what my previous place of employment had offered me).  I didn't need the extra money.  I didn't even want it.  But I needed the time.  And I really wanted it.

I knew a man who once revealed to me that his goal in life was to "break even", meaning, he wanted to work just enough hours to provide for what he needed and nothing more.  The rest of the time he wanted to play and read and study and do whatever fancied him.  I remember praising his decision in my head and deciding that one day, I would emulate him. 

Now that my husband is at home I am tasting that freedom and it tastes better than I dreamed.

I wish more people could experience the life I'm living right now.  I wish more people wanted it.  I think it would do wonders for people's physical and mental health.  It would do wonders for the world.

But it requires a re-evaluation of what one truly "needs".  It requires making sacrifices and doing without things our society convinces us we need to live.  It requires telling fear to go F-off.   


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Becoming Radical Homemakers

I woke up physically sore from digging a new garden bed yesterday.  Our soil is really poor quality and so compact that we needed to use a pickax the entire two feet down.  Pickax's are heavy and my upper body is not used to heaving and hoing like that. 

Radical homemaking, urban homesteading, sustainable living:  whatever term you prefer...  it is all exhausting in the end.  I think I put in more hours now than when I was working full time at Fuller.  But the work is meaningful and rewarding.  A few days ago I finally realized that our home was truly a unit of production.  We cook, garden, repair and reuse, research, create, barter and have begun to preserve a small amount of food.  It feels really good to lessen our ties to the extractive economy.  Really good.

It also is incredible to have my husband as a partner in all of this.  Did I tell you, blog readers, that three months ago he, too, quit his full-time job?  There were many reasons behind his decision to quit; all of them were noble (and if I could share them with you I'm certain you would agree but you will just have to take my word for it).  I joke with him that he has "retired" at 36 years old and quickly put him to work, since I am the head of the home.  (That of course, is a joke.  We both aim to share responsibility and leadership in the home - it's just that some of us are better at it than others).  :) 

It might be surprising to some that there are persons willing to give up full-time jobs with great benefits and a salary that is more than enough for our needs but we have never been ones to operate within society's norms entirely.  (To be fair, the decision was a lot easier to make because my husband has a rental property in Los Angeles that gives us $1000 per month for our use).  Both my husband and I desire to create a life together that uses little and is rich in love, relationships, and meaning.  We have both found that money and buying stuff doesn't really contribute to that goal as much as we'd like.  And so we've chosen to make good on our words and begin to focus on the things that make life worth living. 

It's been three months since we've met this task head on and the result is even better than I expected.  It's not all peaches and cream, this is certain, but I can count on one hand the number of times I wished one of us was back at work, receiving a more substantial income.  I could not count on one hundred hands the number of times I felt thankful that we made this decision.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011


My husband just resolved a dispute between us by asking a Magic 8 Ball online.  It favored me - so even though I think it was absolutely ridiculous and utter madness to even consider doing that - I'm glad it told the truth.  :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Matthew 19:14

When Jesus said "Let the little children come to me..." he was most certainly NOT talking about two-year-olds.

(Or maybe his invitation was more for the parents of the two-year-olds:  "Let the little children come to go take a break and have a hard drink or two...or three."). 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Food, Glorious Food

What is it with me and food? I am not hungry and yet I eat. I am full and yet I want more. Sometimes what I eat doesn't even taste good but I keep eating it, making excuses and excuses...

"I already started it - I should finish."
"It's a special treat I might not get another chance to eat."
"No one will see me if I eat it."
"I don't want to hurt his/her feelings."

When did I develop such an unbelievably unhealthy relationship with food? And how do I break it?

I thought I had "healthy eating" down - and then became pregnant and then gained 30 pounds and then lost 20 and then gained 20 and then lost 20 and then gained 20 and then lost 20 and then gained 20. I have gained and lost more weight these last two years than my whole lifetime. (It was just the same pounds, over and over).

I feel incredibly, utterly stuck. I write blog after blog (mostly in my head) about how I want to do better, how I need to do better, how I will do better. And for a moment, I believe I can.

On the rare occasion I share about this in person, some will offer solutions about "choosing not to eat the trigger foods, or not to overeat on regular meals, or to exercise more, or to blah blah blah". I smile and nod but roll my eyes internally. They don't know the power food has over me.

I attended OA meetings off and on for a few months many years back and I remember having such a difficult time acknowledging that I was an addict (as was/is the customary introduction of an OA attender). I wouldn't say the word - I couldn't say the word. I didn't believe it to be true. Not me - not food. That's ridiculous!! Right?

Maybe not.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Back and Forth

Our son just learned the phrase "back and forth" and now he delights in saying it over, and over: "Back and forth, and back and forth and back and forth", giggling while we swing or rock him.

I take significantly less pleasure in the phrase. Too much of my life has been lived in that reality, particularly in my struggle with eating in moderation, regular exercise, and any other area that thrives off of regular discipline (one's character/ethics, spirituality, etc).

Do I choose faith or allow my thoughts to direct me towards unbelief?
Should I eat a second helping or dessert, or should I remind myself that what I've consumed is enough?
Do I run or do I rest?
Do I retreat or do I seek out friendship?

Back and forth and back and forth I go. Sometimes it is a daily flow, other times it happens over a period of months.

I am so tired of living life "back and forth". I wish I possessed more of a stable, consistent personality that found such decisions easy. But instead, I act with impulse and emotion and need to discipline myself towards consistency. I suck at discipline.

But today I'm going to try.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I'm with Captain Cutshaw

Taking the bus has its benefits. For one, my husband and I can have an uninterrupted time of talking, which is rare with an almost two-year-old.

On the 690 yesterday we talked about Theodicy, which seems to be the sticking point for me and my inability to continue with faith. It was a meaningful conversation and I'm thankful for his input, although I cannot say we arrived at any conclusions. :) When we arrived at our destination, he played a clip from one of his favorite movies, "The Ninth Configuration". The conversation between two of the characters went something like this:

Colonel Kane: You're convinced that God is dead because there's evil in the world.

Captain Cutshaw: Correct.

Colonel Kane: Then why don't you think he's alive because of the goodness in the world?

Hmmm. I have for many months now considered God to be non-existent because of the tremendous evil in this world, unable to reconcile such violence with a Creator who supposedly was planning something so good that it would make all the suffering worthwhile. (Is it just me, or do you also think this makes God look sick?) And while most Christians continue to point to that (hell, I was satisfied with that response for a decade), it is now an unsatisfactory answer to me. Some people are born into violent slavery and live and die in violent slavery. Their entire lives consumed by violence. How can their life be redeemed when it is already over? Some would say, "Oh, it'll be redeemed in the after-life". Still, to me, that doesn't seem fair of God.

I know this problem within our tradition has existed for a very long time so I should not expect someone during my lifetime to come up with something new. But it would be nice.

Until then, I have to think about the inconsistency of my believing God doesn't exist because of the evil when there is also the presence of goodness in this world. Pray for me in my angst, and for all those who suffer incredible injustice, oppression, suffering, and violence.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A new vocation?

My lack of faith has proven difficult on a new level...  I do not know where to turn to - or who to turn to - when I want to be comforted with hope.

On the way to the library today, I was listening to NPR's AirTalk broadcast today ( in which Larry Mantle interviewed Scott Carney about his book The Red Market: On the Trail of the World’s Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers.  Hearing the atrocities made me so angry at my fellow humans for how they could treat one another in such base ways.  I was livid...and sick to my stomach.  Once more I longed for some kind of hope; or, to use the words of Julian of Norwich, that "All [would] be well" ...that there was Someone who truly saw such evils and would somehow bring restoration.

But such faith is far from my reach at this point.  And so I am left in this hell-hole of a world with little comfort.  I remember reading that Mother Teresa also longed for the comfort of reassurance (with respect to God's presence)...and while rarely receiving it in her later years, still continued in her work.

Perhaps the only way one can escape such a state is to also work for justice.  Perhaps if I could work at bringing about even little pockets of justice in this world...there could be some light to look to...  while I wait for Light to return...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

rant against the medical system

Writing this paper has reminded me once more that I just don't understand Western medicine.  The medical field treats the body in a purely modern way - where functions and disease in the body can be reduced to mere law-based science.  Yet, doesn't metaphysics and quantum theory reveal that our bodies are much more complex?  And what about the placebo effect - doesn't that simply shoot a significant portion of our reliance on medicine in the foot?  What happened to our common sense?  Think about it:  If research shows that a particular trial drug is just as good as the effect of administering a placebo WHY THE HELL WOULD WE CHOOSE THE TRIAL DRUG? 

My husband's answer would be something like, "Because our society has trained us to place implicit trust in doctors - and the medical system".  We can also thank capitalism (and Big Pharma):  There is not a lot of money in placebos. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

On Being Human

I am about to begin outlining my final Philosophy paper for the term (insert relieved smile here). 

Usually I linger in the research stage of paper writing and postpone the dreaded writing component until the very last minute.  I love research and find learning such a fascinating process.  I do not love writing, nor do I find it fascinating.  It's boring, time-consuming and difficult. 

Perhaps that is why I find myself surprised that there is a part of me that is not dreading this paper in my usual way.  In attempting honesty, there may even be feelings of excitement and anticipation that arise within me when I think about writing this paper.  I'm not entirely certain of the reason (although it's likely to be tied to the paper topic), but I'm thankful nonetheless.

So what am I writing on?  The placebo effect and how it supports the theory of nonreductive physicalism.*  We are powerful people with a capacity to participate in our own healing.  That is the simple reality of being human. 

*The belief that one is entirely physical in composition and possesses higher-level capabilities (thinking, spirituality, etc).  This is often viewed in opposition to dualism - the belief that humans are composed of two separate substances - matter and spirit (or body and mind/soul). 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I hate this part

I caved and ate a candy bar.  It's not even 10 am yet.  Instead of beating myself up over it, I'm asking "Why?"

The excuse I gave myself right before I ate was that I wanted something sweet to eat with my coffee, and once I allowed myself to eat the piece of candy, then I could settle down and focus on my assignment. 

That is a bunch of bullshitsu. 

So then why?  Why did I scavenge for a sweet treat? 

This is a question I have asked myself at various other times and have been unable to come to a satisfactory answer.  How does one even begin to uncover the reasons behind the decisions we make within our addiction weaknesses addiction?  This task seems so arcane to me, especially with regards to food. And yet, the desire to understand continues to follow me and so I keep asking various questions that might help me arrive at somewhat of an answer:

What was I thinking about right before I had the desire to eat?  How I didn't want to follow through with a commitment I made for tonight, how much work I needed to accomplish before church of long ago and the pain associated with remembering, my church in the present and the pain associated with going, the desire to connect with God, the desire for God to be real...the longing for the belief that God really does care. 

How was I feeling before I ate the candy?  Hmm.  Thinking back, I guess I felt stressed on the surface and sad within the deeper parts of me. 

At what point did I decide to eat the candy?  As soon as I began to recognize the feelings of sadness. 

How did I feel or what did I think when I took the first bite?  I thought, "This doesn't taste very good."  "I don't have to finish it."  "I might as well finish it."  "Ok, I'll finish it."  "Now what do I do?"  As soon as I finished eating it I felt the familiar emotion of disappointment and the realization that it wasn't what I was looking for. 

Was there any point where I made a good decision?  Yes, as soon as I realized that it was not the candy I was looking for I paused and asked myself what I truly wanted in that moment.  Part of the answer was to feel connected with myself again.  And so I turned to this blog as one way of processing my actions with the hope that in doing so I would feel more connected. 

And I do.  Thanks for "listening". 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

These Latter Days

It is rarely helpful to compare your situation to that of another in hopes of adjudicating between the two.  Life - and how one experiences life - is much too complex for such behaviors.

After many years of doing quite the opposite of the statement I've just written, I began to realize how destructive it was, and began the long process of pruning the patterns that had so deeply rooted themselves.  I had thought I had reached a point in my life where it became more natural to not compare than to compare.  I was thankful; it truly felt like a more human (and freeing) way to live. 

I was in my therapists office this past week and as I spoke, I began to realize that I was falling back into the game of comparison.  My words in the session indicated my need for external justification (by comparing my situation to that of another) for how I was feeling.  To say it another way, I felt as if my life wasn't bad enough to warrant this "low" I'm feeling and thus I would not allow myself to feel it (or feel incredibly guilty for feeling it).  If only I had to manage multiple children at once.  If only I was working in a job as well as being home with our son.  If only I was going to school full-time rather than part-time....  Then!  Then, I could have reason enough for the difficulties I am having...without feeling so ...weak...and fragile. 

Thankfully, I left her office with a renewed resolve to withhold judgment on myself.  My feelings do not always have to be justified.  I am free to have them regardless of whether they may appear to "match" my external circumstances or not. 

And so I acknowledge to myself, and to you, my few readers, that these latter days have been difficult.  More difficult than I let on to you...and to me. 

"I just don't have much left to say.  They've taken their toll, these latter days." (From "Latter Days" by Over the Rhine)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Family Ties

My brother is an admitted addict to video games.  He's detoxing right now because he is living with us and we don't own a TV.  We laugh together as he recalls his favorite game moments, and how, when he was out of a job, he played video games day and night:  "I didn't leave my chair unless I needed food, to check the mail or poop!" 

But it's also painful to see his process, and see the struggle to find something, anything that can fill that void.  I'm finding we have more in common than I remembered. 


Apologies to Bonnie Tyler, for I can almost guarantee that she did not write her song with a box of chocolates in mind.  But let me continue...

One of my dear roommates was given a large box of chocolates as a "Thank You" gift for participating in a wedding.  The box is as large as 6 cartons of eggs stacked on top of each other in rows of two and was filled to the brim with little single-size chocolate bars.  You know, the kind that people often give out at Halloween.  I write in the past tense because my roommate, being the generous man he is, placed the box on our "Share Shelf" in the kitchen.  I, being the glutton I am, helped myself to 5 pieces the first day, and 10, the second. It is no longer filled to the brim.

It's embarrassing to write that. 

I do not need that chocolate.  I do not even truly want that chocolate.  What I want is a distraction from the mounting stress.  And food is my go-to distraction.  I enjoy it, at least for a while until I realize I've consumed  the daily caloric needs of a regularly-sized woman within the first 6 hours of the day and wasted precious hours walking from the computer to the kitchen to the computer to the kitchen.  And then the reality of what I've done begins to settle as heavily as the consumed food.  Eater's Remorse is as strong as Buyer's Remorse.  But today is a new day, and the refrain from "Total Eclipse of the Heart" is repeating itself in my mind, beckoning me to "turnaround" when I near that damn box and go sit down to work.  I'm going to listen to Bonnie this time. 

Today, I choose to give myself what I need:  focused time reading philosophy, quiet moments for resting (aka, knitting!) and mindful food consumption.  What are you going to give yourself today?

Friday, February 11, 2011

where is the Good that is supposed to be You?

We humans are profoundly fucked up.

Some might be offended by my adjective, but I do not apologize.  What word could adequately describe the incredible evil that we inflict upon each other?

  • We steal children in order to sell them as slaves for labor or sex.  
  • We murder for money, for revenge...for entertainment.
  • We pay to watch movies that laugh at violence and leave the theater with bright eyes, talking about what "cool computer graphics" the creators used. 
  • We strategize how to make more money at the expense of another and call it 'intelligent'.  
  • Husbands hit their wives; wives cheat on their husbands.  Both yell at their children for mistakes their children did not make.
  • We refuse to acknowledge the beggar, homeless, or addict on the corner so that we can pretend they don't exist thus relinquishing any responsibility we might have.
  • We knowingly participate in (and financially support) systems that oppress people and abuse their human rights.
  • We know these things and may cry a little bit but then quickly move on to our hair appointment, study session, church service, shopping errands, and cleaning...promptly forgetting the evil and our connection to it.  

I used to believe that God allowed evil to happen for a reason (perhaps to build one's character or faith).  If that is true, I think God is fucked up too.  How can hell be any worse than a child living day in and day out as someone's tool for sexual pleasure?  Or a child being locked in a closet without food or gentle touch because the father or mother or caretaker had some sick need for control?  What about the child?  How can his character survive?  How can her faith be strengthened?  If God uses evil as Step 1 of a lesson plan, I want nothing to do with God. 

where is the Good that is supposed to be You?

Friday, February 4, 2011


Why do women choose to wear shoes that modifies their walk to the point of humor? (At least from the perspective of the woman who watches behind her coffee cup).  Fashion (and the decisions we make in the name of fashion) never ceases to amaze me.  

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Some say he is running away from that which he needs to confront.  Maybe he is running away from that which is holding him back.  Or maybe he is running towards the future he longs for.  Or is it I who am longing for that future on his behalf? 

Starting over is complicated.  Whatever the reason he has chosen to leave one place and go to another may he find what he needs.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Come, be my light.

"   ...where is my faith?  Even deep down...there is nothing but emptiness and many unanswered questions live within me..."  
page 187, Mother Teresa:  Come Be My Light.

I am four classes away from finishing my Master of Divinity, have already begun the pre-ordination process, and cannot seem to hold onto my faith.

I've had paradigm shifts before, the biggest one being as a sophomore at Houghton College (after encountering the wise Dr. Kristina LaCelle-Peterson), but they've never led to a loss of belief, simply a changing or restructuring of belief. 

I have heard people quip about how seminaries should be called cemeteries, for they are filled with persons who are spiritually dead, or who will be spiritually dead if they spend enough time there.  But I cannot transfer blame to my current enrollment; from all of my reflection, my time here at Fuller doesn't seem to have a direct correlation to my current state of mind.  In fact I am surrounded by people who are very thoughtful about their faith and who love God.  Sure, I have friends who are asking similar questions, but my faith (or lack thereof) cannot be blamed on their questions. 

So here I am, longing for Light, and wondering if it even exists at all.  And if it does, in what form?  Is it limited to one tradition?  Which one?  Is it found in multiple traditions?  How then does one choose?

I am taking a class in Anglo-American Post-Modernity with the renowned Dr. Nancey Murphy.  The first month has given me new ways to think about faith.  Will it be enough?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Losing weight

I wonder if this time will be different.  I wish I could say I'm simply picking up where I left off...but I'm not.  A lot has changed in my life since I last tried and I fear that I lack the energy and focus to succeed.

The past two years have taken a toll on me and I simply seem unable to find my way again.  But I remember times past when each little decision made for the better resulted in a 50 pound weight loss.  And the part of me that remembers what that felt like continues to try and point me towards taking that first step.  But the first step always seems the most difficult. 

Why is it so hard to begin, when I know that it's the accumulation of small steps that result in a big loss?  Is it because I know how long it takes?  Does that dissuade me?  Is it because I am afraid of losing my drug of choice; what will comfort me when I feel sad, stressed, tired, or angry?  Is it because I am afraid of failing?  Of trying, yet again, and then realizing I cannot follow through?  Is it because I am afraid of being thin?  (Where will I hide?) Of being healthier? (And saying a forever "No" to baking my kick-ass desserts?)

How does one break the patterns of behavior that have settled like concrete in the synapses of my brain?  I've read that when an addict has changed his or her behavior and created new patterns of response (instead of a drug of choice) the old patterns are still there, lying dormant, but the new patterns can be created and strengthened over time.  Both realities scare the shit out of me.  For if the old patterns are simply lying dormant, they could rear their ugly heads once more in a fit of gluttonous relapse.  And I've discovered that when they do they are harder to get rid of the second time around. And although new patterns can be created (there is hope for us all!) it's the "strengthened over time" part that is daunting. Just how long is this going to take?  Will the work ever be "over"?  I know the answer is "No". 

All these reasons, and more that are unknown to me, restrain me from taking the first step towards health.  And so I wait...wait for light...

I know it will come.  I know I will not forever reside in the land of relapse.  But the first step is so hard. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

"I guess they don't make them like that anymore"

I was reading a friend's blog recently, and happened upon her post reflecting on marriage, particularly that of her parents.  She wrote of how she resonated with an episode of Brothers & Sisters where Kitty was being questioned by her mom about her reluctance to marry her fiance.  Kitty's response:

Kitty: "The problem? It doesn't feel like you and dad. I guess they don't make them like that anymore."

This was not the first time I've heard comments like this and I admit that I've wondered similar things. But the longer I've been married, the more I can't believe that there was anything more special about our parents generation, or grand-parents generation.  We view their marriage 20 or 30 or 40 years down the road...which means that 20 or 30 or 40 years of effort has been put towards cultivating the love, respect, honor, romance, connection etc., that we so often admire in their relationships.  We expect that our dating relationships will have the same outcomes, reactions or connections and are disappointed when we find otherwise.  But maybe we are simply premature, and need to have the long-haul in mind.  For if we, too, put 20 or 30 or 40 years of effort into a relationship, perhaps we would have similar relationships to that of our parents or grand-parents (or whomever we happen to admire).  And with that in mind, it's only natural that persons should emphasize one's character (humility, commitment, openness to change, etc.) as the starting point for a future partner...for its the stuff that good marriages seem to be built on.  It's cliche to call attention to the fact that big boobs or nice legs only (naturally) last for a time, but I can't lose the opportunity to point it out again.  I, myself, do not possess the "hot factor", or so I've been told.  But I do possess commitment to my spouse, no matter how much he pisses me off.  And I do possess an openness to continue working on my own weaknesses.  And I do have enough  humility to realize that sometimes it is my own actions which prevent us from moving forward.  And I do possess the desire to work at making love work.  And I think that's hot.  (I want to give a 'shout out' to my hot husband, because he too, has these things, and has made me feel 'hot' for having them). 

I think that what Kitty says is more of a reflection on our culture...our desire for near perfection and our willingness to call it quits when the going gets tough.  Good relationships - good love - takes time to build.  We should be more patient with ourselves and our partner.

do you just dive in?

I've created three posts but have not had the courage to publish them. I wanted to begin this blog reflecting on my desire for "light": spiritual light, physical light, emotional light.  I've named the blog, "Come, Be My Light"; what better way to begin than to reflect on the light I long for, right?  But, as a newbie to the blog world, my posts feel a little too exposing for the moment.  So I've decided to build up a little confidence first and write about less personal things.  Stick around, I'm sure it'll get more interesting.  :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Let us begin with a nod and a toast...

I hate choosing names for anything. Which is a change for me, since one of my favorite pastimes as a child was to look through a baby name book and create lists of my favorite names. Each of my stuffed animals and the one pet fish I had each had a very carefully chosen name, based on sound and meaning. Thankfully, my husband and I had a relatively easy time choosing our son's name.

But to have to choose a title for a blog? Ridiculous! How does one sum up his or her purposes for a blog for which he or she has no idea what it will turn out to be, how long that blog will last, and who will read that blog? It seems much more appropriate to assign a name at the termination of a blog. Yet the powers that be in blogger world have asked me to assign a name, and so I have chosen "Come, Be My Light". The name is (more than) a nod to a book I recently read: Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, edited by Brian Kolodiejchuck. Reading it brought great relief into a time of spiritual and emotional chaos and since I will likely be writing about such things on this blog the title seemed fitting.

You might be wondering why I am choosing to join the blogging world so late in the game. Aren't blogs a little passe? Perhaps. But there are a few blogs out there that have changed my life and continue to challenge me towards better ways of thinking and living. So, to those who have let me read, thank you. I have received a great deal of satisfaction and encouragement from you. I propose a toast in your honor.