Jun 28 2010

Gratitude

Mondays are for gratitude…counting to 1000 and beyond…

193. The birth of Sarah Kathleen on Friday morning to dear friends Cathee and Brian. Yay!

DSC_0371194. A still-empty apartment feeling more like home every time I return.

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IMG00056195. Hours of looking at scrumptious wall colors. So thankful to the Creator Artist God for the complex physics that makes colors possible and the eyes to see them with.

DSC_0417196.  Walking Magnolia and finding lovely views so close to my apartment.

197. Friends helping me move (thank you, Doug!); quoting lines from Star Wars as we carried boxes and boxes of my books up the stairs (“Almost there!”).

198. The smell of freshly cut pine wood shelving.

DSC_0448199. New apartment sounds: Seagulls, bird song, the deep rumbling horn blast of leaving cruise ships, seaplanes, and the low buzz of the distant city.

200. A wonderful evening of laughter and reconnecting with Kim, Ryan, and Sara at Angela’s birthday party.

201. Being asked to be a godparent for a soon-to-be born little boy.  It may be the closest I get to motherhood. So honored and excited!

202. That God answers my questions when I take the time to listen.

DSC_0347203. A surprising and immediate answer to prayer at church yesterday.

204. Generous offers of furniture.

205. Countless meals, and tea with biscuits at Kimberlee and Doug’s. Learning how to make a BLT with avocado, sautéed portabella, arugula, and homemade mayo.  Yummy!!

206. Little Jack taking my hand as we walked down the sidewalk, and the bouncy exuberance of Little Jane.

holy experience


Jun 14 2010

Gratitude: Out of Anxiety and into Joy

Mondays are for gratitude…counting to 1000 and beyond…

The past few weeks, I have been industriously looking for a “contemplative cottage” here in Seattle, an apartment or little house that embodies certain characteristics: peaceful, lovely, quiet, prayerful, creative, domestic, welcoming, conducive to study, and the list goes on.

oregon extension cottage

An Oregon Extension Cottage (far up in the mountains)

On the slightly more practical side, I made a list about what this dreamy abode would include, quiet being most important, good public transit, convenient to my church, cat-friendly, warm in winter, a fireplace, a view of trees or something beautiful, a deck or patio for those infrequent days of dazzling beauty, and an exposure that is bright even on the gray days.  I will be at home most of the time, working on my dissertation, so the environment is important.  Inexpensive is also on the list–a tall order in this current market.

I was surprised to find that there were also some hidden desires on my list, like the allure of early 20th century craftsmanship and living in my old neighborhood of Queen Anne.  I came face to face with these as I put a deposit on a circa 1962 apartment with most of the practical items I listed, but little of the impractical charm.

In the midst of praying and pondering and feeling anxious, I drew a card from a word of the day deck. Yes, gratitude was the word, and such a timely reminder.  I sensed God encouraging me to consider these questions:

  • Can I have an attitude of gratitude toward this place, focusing on all that it has, not what it lacks?
  • Can I learn to live and write and pray no matter the atmosphere, depending on Christ for inspiration, not the decor?
  • Could I remember in prayer all those who do not have any housing, adequate or life-giving housing?
  • Can I learn to embody, with God’s help, the very qualities I want in the brick and mortar of my home: peaceful, loving, quiet, prayerful, creative, domestic, welcoming, conducive to study, and warm?

So today, I’m thankful for…

180. A place to live in a solid building with good windows, water, electric, stove and fridge, conveniences I take for granted.

181. Public transit just outside my door.

182. Quiet, no traffic noise.

183. Inexpensive rent.

184. A fireplace.

185. A huge balcony overlooking trees.

balcony

186. Top floor.

187. Large enough to host get-togethers and dinners.

188. Really nice managers, who have been patient with me as I figured out the public transit options.

189. The best part:  as I’ve practiced gratitude, the anxiety has transformed to excitement and joy!

And some other things I’m thank-full for from this past week:

190. My mom’s surgery was a success and she is doing fine (!!!)

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191. An evening at Gasworks Park, happily taking photos.

192. A delightful Sunday: Church BBQ, then afternoon tea and conversation, dinner with dear friends, and yummy ice cream!

holy experience


Jun 9 2010

Visual Thanks

Mondays are for gratitude…counting to 1000 and beyond…

175.

Black-capped Chickadee at my kitchen window.

Black-capped Chickadee at my kitchen window.

176.

Sunset Skyscraper

Sunset Skyscraper

177.

Rainy morning with....

Rainy morning with....

178.

...tea and Titus

...tea and Titus

179.

More good books for a rainy day.

More good books for a rainy day.

180.

Mutti, for her love.  (She is having surgery Thursday, would you pray for her?)

Mutti, my lovely mom. (She is having surgery Thursday, would you pray for her?)

holy experience


Jun 2 2010

Love or Longing?

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“I dream of a Love that even Time will lie down and be still for.”

When I was in my 20s, I used to say, if I marry, I won’t marry until I’m 30.  I could count on a few fingers men who had touched my heart–men who also only saw me as sister and friend.

Love–the covenant, life-long-promise kind of love–remained a distant hope.

“There is plenty of time,” friends and family would say, during seasons when I’d flail and founder, and demand a reason for my singleness.

Now I am 40, and can look back at two decades of dating experiences (less than one hand could count) and a brief engagement–infrequent, glorious and often painful forays into the realm of love and heart.  The Lord took me on a journey this past year after I caught another glimpse of this longed-for- Love, and promptly reached out with both hands and held on like one drowning, squeezing out its life.

I have felt a lot like Elijah impatiently pleading with God at the mouth of the cave.

Patiently and gently, the still small voice responded, “So you want to be married? Good, let’s take a realistic look at what you call love and what you would bring to a future marriage.” Through the verses of the old standard, Proverbs 31, God asked the tough questions: Do you have your house in some sense of order? Do you have an understanding of how you deal with stress and discouragement? Are you following My call on your heart and willing to make it a priority? What are your habits, good and bad? Are you able to nurture a relationship? Are you financially and emotionally stable?

I reeled and was silent in the face of such Love. Love that sought my best, not just for me, but for all whom I am in relationship with. Love that wasn’t interested in coddling me or worried about my reaction.  Love that would speak its peace and then still be there in the morning.  The kind of Love I longed for, but didn’t know the first thing about how to give or receive.

And then God had a heart-to-heart with me about the difference between love and longing.

Longing is that deep heart-desire for a kindred spirit, a person who knows me intimately, a person who loves me even when I’m not likable; the desire for comfort after a hard day, for a hand to hold in fear; for the kiss that curls the toes.

But the focus of longing is on me and what I desire.

Love was not in my relational earthquakes or the wind or the fire, the tumult or anxiety, the intensity or the tears.  Longing, yes, but not Love, a Love that simply loves, without demanding payment.

Now, the desire to be loved is good and wonderful, and this desire has a place in relationships, but actions rooted in this longing are not the same as love.  Love places the beloved at the center–not a desired response, not the fulfillment of my longing to be loved.

Am I giving love or longing? Am I seeking to do and give what is loving for the other person, or only what will garner a fulfillment of my longing?

It is a question that is changing how I approach all relationships.

But what do I do with the longing?

I write this only as one in the midst of asking the question.  I believe God is the only One who can bear and fulfill the full intensity of our longings–no person can be our fulfillment.  Deep friendships , family, and covenant relationships have space for the mutual sharing and fulfilling of longing—for love, intimacy, encouragement, delight.  However, I am persuaded that even then, the call is to love those in our lives first, and our longing’s fulfillment comes only as a grace-full gift.

I am practicing giving God my longings and giving others love.

holy experience

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