Friday, September 14, 2018

The Reading Life

If you know me, you know I'm a bookish sort of person.  I have been bookish since I can remember and could read Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and Superfudge and later tales like The Hobbit  and A Wrinkle in Time.  Sometimes my bookish tendencies get me in trouble, because I would definitely mostly rather read a book.  Sometimes it also confuses me.  I like to be with people, I do a lot of extraverted reading, at ballgames, at coffee shops, in the park, in the car with the kids screaming, places where there are external noises to keep me moving. 

I began to feel guilty about all the reading. Shockingly, there were comments from people around me, because that's what we, the human race, does best, ignorantly comment -
                                    "How do you read so much?"
                                    "Do you do anything else?"

Of course I do other things, I'm the mother of 5.  But here is how I read so much, it's a priority.  I don't watch much TV.  If I'm digging my way through a lot of books I won't get on social media.  I have no games on my phone and I don't play games.  If the kids are watching a movie, I snuggle too, but probably read a book instead of watching the movie.  If its half-time and everyone goes to get a snack, I stay put and read a few pages.   Basically, I always carry a book with me.  Last night I headed out to watch some volleyball and in my bag I threw in a book with a super appropriate title.

I didn't crack open the book, not even once. I caught up with a great friend, but I was prepared, just in case.  On a side note, the girls were on fire last night, it was a great game.

The thing is, I read a lot because I love to think and take in information.  Even the lightest book is a place for me to think deeply.  I have taken the StrengthsFinder several times and my number one strength is always Input.  I get energized from input of information.  In Anne Bogel's book, Reading People, she also talks about her strength of Input and how that impacts her reading life.  I read because it is an outflow of my strengths.  I read because the Input of information makes me feel alive, just like making music makes my husband feel alive.  For me, reading is not an escape but a way to make my world bigger and my life richer.  Okay, you got me, sometimes reading is all about the escape, ignoring the hard tasks and negative emotions, but more times than not it is the way I work through it.  When we got our boys I read every book I could on attachment and international adoption and transracial issues.  When I started to feel like my world was very small in regards to race, I started reading the stories of people with different backgrounds.  When I can't understand my husband, I read books on marriage.  These books mentor me and grow me.  I tend to read a wide variety of books and I'm not interested in just reading what I agree with, reading books that stretch my brain brings me energy in an unique way.

This is my current stack, including a few on my Kindle. I just noticed there is only one fiction on that stack and no classics.  That is a unique stack for me, but September is a unique season of learning and growing and grabbing a new rhythm.

I would love to know what you are reading and any recommendations you might have.  You can follow me on Goodreads to keep up with my reading life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fear is a BULLY

Last weekend we went to one of our very favorite places, Vedauwoo.  My 6 year old was super excited when we got there, he was going to climb the highest rock and scale the steepest surface.  But suddenly, without warning he was frozen and proclaiming to the world that he was going to die.  There are places at Vedauwoo where this an absolutely logical fear, he just wasn’t in one of those places.  He was probably about 6 feet up and surrounded by boulders to help him make his way down the 6 feet.  But all he could mumble over and over was how he felt like he was going to die.  The prodding of his mom didn’t help, the goading of his sister didn’t help, and the motivating of his aunt didn’t help.  Eventually, his sister picked him up and handed him to her boyfriend to carry down.  To get past his fear he needed something or someone to move him.  Fear does that, it causes us to stop and become illogically frozen.  Often this happens in a place that we really wanted to be in.

I, too, know fear.  I have had this dream, this dream that I keep massaging and manipulating and pondering but never doing.  I dream of writing, and blogging and speaking.  I did what one is supposed to do when they have dreams, I made a goal.  By September 1, 2018 I was going to have a more professional looking blog.  I don’t.  I don’t because I can’t make myself sit down to design it.  Why would I have a goal that I cannot make myself sit down and do?  Because I’m living in the land of procrastination, the land where fear overgrows its space and traps emotions and actions and keeps them from moving.  Whether I want to or not, it is time to dig deep into myself and ask what I am so afraid of...

I am afraid of not writing anything worth reading.  What if my writing is ordinary and just like everyone else and nobody wants to read it?

I am afraid of being a fraud and not really being an expert in anything.  And even more disturbing, to be called out in my lack of expertise.

I am afraid of not making time.  It’s easier to spin out of control in the busyness of nothingness than to really set aside the time to observe life and think deeply, to be thoughtful about my life and those around me and observe the patterns that emerge.

I am afraid of being vulnerable and writing IS vulnerable. Enough said.

To my fear I say, you don’t get to bully me anymore.  I am posting an imperfect blog on my imperfect site.  I am setting aside time and taking the leap.  To you reading this, you have permission to ask what I am writing and where I am speaking and how my new blog is coming.  And when my vulnerability causes me to want to freak out, I’ll smile and tell you what I am doing and thank you for asking, because fear doesn’t get to be a bully in my life anymore.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Felt Safety

Fear will bully your child into poor behavior - Karyn Purvis

I woke up this morning thinking about felt safety.  Felt safety is a concept used in TBRI or the “parenting with connection” approach.  It’s something you might hear adoptive parents or parents with kids from hard places talk about but in light of the state of the country, it seems like something we should all talk about.  Felt Safety is different than being safe, it is about feeling safe.  You can be safe, but not feel safe.  When we don’t feel safe we are triggered into a fight, flight or freeze mode. It is a pretty simple concept to understand, but a really hard one to put into practice. It requires respectful listening and honest understanding, effective leadership and maybe the hardest of all, shared control.

When my kids don’t feel safe, it is not their responsibility to try to make themselves feel safe. When they take on that responsibility, they usually choose very unhealthy coping mechanisms.  It is my husband and I’s job as the strong safe adults in their lives to help them feel safe.  It’s my job to lay down my rights so that they can feel safe.  I may feel like I have the right to watch a bit of TV or listen to some news, but sometimes/most of the time, screens and noise lead to sensory overload and lack of felt safety.  I may and often do feel like I have the right to connect with people and talk as long as the conversation takes, but if I don't come home when I say I am going to come home, so long felt safety.  I may feel like I have the right to finish reading a chapter in a book or read my Bible but if it pushes past their bedtime, I can kiss felt safety and a calm bedtime goodbye.  But if I give up my rights and we maintain a sense of felt safety in our home, we become more resilient and fear is no longer bullying our children into bad behavior.  

The more I am aware of this in my children, the more I am aware of this in my own life.  When I don’t feel safe, I start responding to life defensively and a little triggered.  As a woman, when a man makes me feel unsafe. I walk a little faster.  I become hypervigilant, my pulse races and I want to flee.  When I feel unsafe in the church, when my ideas or even my existence as a woman feel attacked I start to hide.  I distance myself from what feels unsafe.

This is true of homes, churches, schools, communities, and countries.  The question we should be asking is whose job is it to create felt safety? Well, it is the role of the strong safe adults, the leaders of our country to create felt safety.  It is their job to not argue and fight for their own rights but listen and hear EVERYONE and create a culture where everyone gets to feel safe.  Because we live in a republic democracy where citizens have the right to choose their leaders and have representation, it is not only our leaders' responsibility but it the responsibility of us as citizens.  Creating felt safety is a big task.  It is hard to create felt safety just inside a home because it requires hearing and respecting and actively protecting.  How much bigger is the job outside the home?

What if those of us with privilege stood up and said: “I have some rights that I could lay down so that you can feel safe.”  
  • I don't actually need an AR15, I could give that up so that our children could feel safer.
  • I don’t actually need to give you a hug, I could give that up so that you could feel safer
  • I don’t actually need to post tasteless jokes on social media about guns, race, sexuality, gender, LGBT individuals, and issues, or the generation that is getting the blame for all that is wrong in the world, I could give that up so that you could feel safer
  • I don’t actually need to look like the most woke white person right now, I could give that up and listen to you so that you could feel safer
  • I don’t actually need to argue about whether racism really exists, I could give that up so that you could feel safer.
  • I don’t actually need to be right  I could give that up so that I could listen to you and you could feel safer
If you are a lover and follower of Jesus, isn’t this what he calls us to.  To lay down our rights for the sake of others.  This is what humility is, this is what submission is, this is ultimately what love is to lay down what makes our life ours for others.  Jesus laid down his life so that his sheep could feel safe.

This Lent season I am giving up debilitating anger towards those who aren’t providing felt safety and I am going let my passion move me to stand in the gaps I see...  
  • I stand with children, they should be safe and protected in schools.  I am a Wyoming girl, but I stand for some serious gun reform.
  • I stand for racial justice, could we (the privileged and children of the many generations of oppressors) stop fighting over whether it exists or not and just move towards each other.    
  • I stand with women, our bodies are not free for taking, free for the grabbing, free for the looking.
  • I stand with anyone who feels like an other in the church, may you know that you are welcome at the table, that Jesus came to you just as you are.  He will transform you, you will change because He will change you.  But may the church not get in the way of you knowing Jesus.
That is my felt safety manifesto.  I wonder, will I be safe when I hit publish. Probably not, but that is a right some of us will have to give up if anything is going to change.  I wonder what would happen if we gave up our right to help someone else feel safe.  My voice is one of millions crying out, maybe there is something you could give up and stand with me too.

Friday, November 11, 2016

I used to write

I used to write.  I wrote a lot about what I loved, what I did, what I believed and then I stopped.  I stopped to advocate for two boys.  I stopped because I only had one thing to say, "bring my boys home".  I stopped because pushing the keys on the keyboard caused my heart to bleed and it felt just a little less vulnerable to stop the bleed and stop the writing.  Today I am writing, because I have more to say.  I have things to say about parenting and marriage and adoption and spirituality and books and *gasp* politics. 

Where do I start with a heart that is overflowing with words? 

How about politics, how it has invaded our lives and taken over in the most obstructive way?  How we are swimming in a sea of toxic rhetoric?  How we blame the media for writing the narrative but we just as quickly write our own narrative around the election, a narrative that supports our own ideas?  How do you stop the narrative spinning, the black-hole falling, the deep sea diving fall from reality?

Stop and listen.  Speak less and listen more.  Post less and listen more.  Stop blaming the media and starting asking yourself, "what is my role in this circus?"  Hear the stories of the people around you, take a deep breath and hear their heart not their rhetoric.   Hear their pain and don't try to fix-it or explain it or tell them why it shouldn't exist.  Consider your speech and your posting, will it bring life to the people around me?

Love extravagantly.  Love your neighbor as you would love yourself, whether they are old, young, grumpy, happy, White, Black, Latino, Muslim, LGBTQ, alcoholic, or a serious coffee lover (maybe even bring them a cup of coffee and a chocolate croissant).   And don't forget to love the Trump voters, the Hilary voters and the Third Party voters.

Laugh.  Laugh lots.  Laugh at comb-overs and pant suits.  Laugh at yourself for the weird words you say (or maybe that's just me).  Laugh at funny jokes and kids antics.  Laugh at yourself, when you'd rather criticize yourself.  Just laugh!

Abide.  Abide deeply.  Change can't be muscled through, it must flow out of a deep abiding relationship with Christ (this is something I learned this from yoga).  To-do lists and rants and beating ourselves up won't change us or anybody else.  There is a work that only Jesus can do.  Take time to listen for his voice, ask him what he wants you say, what he wants you to believe about the world, ask him how he wants you to love. 

There are more words tucked inside my heart, but this is where I'm starting post-election 2016.

Books I am reading, because I know you are curious:
Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikaibu (earliest novel written, 11c. Japan)
Iliad by Homer (my newest favorite, why had I never read this in its entirety before?!?!)
No-Drama Discipline by Dan Siegel and Tina Bryson (because I have 5 kids at home and no-drama is a good thing)
Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Univited by Lysa TerKeurst

Have a campfire dance party on me.....

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday, The Art of Celebration

lyrics from "Boldly I Approach" by Rend Collective

Boldly I Approach Your Throne

Blameless now I'm running home

By your blood I come

Welcomed as your own

Into the arms of Majesty

This is the ART of CELEBRATION

Knowing we're free from condemnation

Oh praise the One, praise the One

who made an end to all my sin

This is the ART of CELEBRATION

knowing we're free from condemnation

Oh praise the one, praise the one
Who made an end to all my sin

This song has been the soundtrack to my day.  A reminder of what we are celebrating this weekend.  A reminder that there is an art to celebration.  It's not just a party, it's bright orange yolks and clean laundry.  It's clean dishes and colorful eggs.  It's the smell of lemon and the laughter of kids.  This right here is my YOLO,  It's my living life intentionally and giving it everything I've got.  It's knowing that this all means something because "the goodness and kindness of God appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy." (Titus 3:4-5).  I can now boldly approach the throne. 

This is the art of celebration
knowing we're free from condemnation
Oh praise the One, praise the One
Who made an end to all my sin

GOOD Friday!

GOOD Friday, you always sneak up on me.  We talk, we plan, we pray but when it comes, I'm surprised.  I'm surprised by the GOOD friends.  Friends coming over to hang out.  Friends coming over to create.  Friends coming over to work.

I'm surprised by a GOOD service and a GOOD church family!  Coming together to remember what Jesus did for us.  Coming together to enjoy a meal.  Coming together to serve each other and our community.

See Ya Thursday

See Ya Thursday!

See Ya Gas, hello Cheyenne!  
You didn't let me down. You got me to Cheyenne with plenty left. 
I could have at least made it to the state-line.

See Ya Braces, hello Beautiful Smile!  
It was fun while it lasted, but off you go.  
We are thankful for the job you did, but not the pain you caused.

See ya Daylight, hello music! My lullabies are now played by my daughter.  
It's her music that fills the house.  Her creativity, her artistry, and her passion that flow freely in this space.