Sunday, December 6, 2009
We have a home scent. A signature 'home scent'. Every home has one; a scent that distinguishes one home from the next. Life has to stir inside a house for awhile until the aroma settles. Our sense of smell is said to be tied closely to our memory, giving us the ability to recall past events or experiences. It is personal. It can bring instant comfort and security. Every time I walk into my parents house I breathe in and sigh. It is home. It is childhood. It is love. Now, in Portland, I live in a new scent. The shared scent of three individuals coming together and embracing life. It is a mixture of old and new. Built in 1921, our house carries a lasting scent-let's call it 'history'. We bring the new. We fill it with life and breathe into its walls. We are writing our own story, and now it reeks of it. Mmm. I walk in the door and it greets me with warmth, acceptance, assurance, and safety. It is home.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The season for crisp air, rainy afternoons, flowy scarves, pumpkin spice, and Aaron Copland.
Summer can suck it. Hello Fall.
I find it so completely appropriate that this week has been a total transition in our weather as well as in my life. What a perfect parallel. There is no denying it. Fall is here to stay. Summer is gone. Ring out the old, ring in the new. I am now a resident of SE Portland living on a delightful street, in a delightful neighborhood, with 2 delightful housemates. Good grief. How did I get here? This is a season of blessing for me, and while we can be hesitant to claim that for ourselves with the "too good to be true" mentality, I am going to brush that aside and recognize it for the blessing that it is. There are and will be plenty of life struggles, but if we focus on living trouble to trouble we will miss out on enjoying the great things life has to offer. It is ok to be happy. It is ok to be content. Is it strange that we have to remind ourselves of that sometimes?
My life is far from perfect. My heart is still in a process of healing, I am emotionally unstable, and I live in a state of constant uncertainty. Yet, today I choose joy because I don't know what tomorrow will bring. Until then, I shall sit in my favorite neighborhood coffee establishment, sip my americano, munch my maple scone, watch the rain fall, breathe in the fresh air, and grin.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I love the summer, but I turn giddy when I see the first yellow leaf fall to the ground. I love seasons, and how distinct each one is from the next. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter- each ones holds a different meaning, a different emotion, a different kind of energy. For me, Fall brings routine. Summer is all over the place. It is wild and carefree. Fall settles you down. Life begins to normalize. Kids go back to school, and adults, having used all their vacation time, go back to the office. The air gets cooler, the flowers wilt, the leaves change colors, and crunch under your feet. There is always that one day that you notice it for the first time. You wake up, walk outside and realize that Fall has arrived. You inhale deeply and let it out with a contented sigh.
This year, Fall holds a deeper meaning for me. Not only does it mark a new season in the calendar year, but a new season of life. I am finally at a place where I can root myself. I am joining a community that I feel blessed to be a part of. I have a peaceful sort of contentment and I cannot express how good that feels.
Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life
- Wu Men
Monday, August 31, 2009
This is the first time I've put my thoughts to paper since moving to Portland last April. My reasoning? I have none I guess. Could be a lack of motivation, but mainly I've just had nothing I wanted to write about.
I think I've been on an intentional hiatus from processing since I moved here. Transitions are quite overwhelming, no matter how wonderful they may be. Perhaps there has been so much to process that I have temporarily numbed myself to it all as a defense mechanism. Life is coming at me a thousand miles a minute. It's exciting, but challenging. I am being swallowed up by the sea that is Portland. By no means am I drowning, just learning how to navigate the waters.
Let me give you a bit of an insight into my post-college/post-Puyallup life. First of all, let me address every Portland stereotype right here: they are all pretty much true.
Portland is weird. Portlanders are actually quite prideful about it. They embrace their weirdness, and want you to embrace it too. In fact, for many of them, the greatest failure is going unnoticed. Therefore, they will do everything in their power to let you know that they are bold and unique individuals. The funny thing to me is that nearly everyone does it, so in fact the “weirder” you are, the less different you are from everyone else. Hmm…I’m gonna go ponder that thought with my fellow existentialist friends.
Tattoos: If you have one somewhere on your body why don’t you go ahead and pat yourself on the back- Portland will like you. If you have more than one, Portland will love you. It really doesn’t need to be super meaningful- so don’t stress too much. I’ve had so many friends tattoo themselves in Greek or Hebrew, or with meaningful poetry or scripture, but honestly some people here just do it because they thought a cat face with a tiara on it was just fun (and yes the woman in front of me at Stumptown has that exact tattoo on her arm…I can’t make this stuff up people).
Green: Don’t you dare throw that apple in the trash you nitwit. That goes into the compost bin! You drove 6 miles to work today on NOT a bicycle? The planet hates you. You went to Wal-Mart for groceries instead of the neighborhood co-op? Just pack your bags and leave. Portland is a haven for go-greeners. This is something I really love about it. Sure sometimes it’s a little overdone. The act of recycling is not just an earth-conscious act, but a hip trend. Everyone’s doing it. But hey, if people are just doing it to “be cool” then power to them. It really does help our environment- Go Go Gadget Green!
Now that I’ve addressed these delightful little stereotypes let me sum it up by saying, I love it here. I love the weirdness, I love the free-spirits, I love the environmentally conscious crazies, and I love the community I feel here. It’s a tough place too. Spiritually speaking, it is pretty dark. Let me rephrase that: RELIGIOUSLY speaking it is pretty dark. People are spiritual here, that is not an issue. Christianity is just not something that many hold to. Perhaps it is the concept of absolute truth. I think that is a hard thing for people to accept here. They want to be open to everything, but when you are open to everything, you really don’t have concrete belief in anything at all. I want Jesus to shake this city. I want an outpouring of the Spirit. Imagine the work that could be done if these bold individuals became radicals for the Lord, proclaiming truth all over this town.
That leads me to explain how God has been stirring my heart these past few months. Thanks to one of my great mentors, Rob Fairbanks, I was connected with Dan and Ann Steigerwald here in the PDX. Both have been doing ministry for many years, including work overseas. They are incredible people and I have really enjoyed getting to know them and talking ministry. I have also been connected with two new friends, Bryan Dormaier and Desirae Marks who, along with the Steigerwald’s and myself are hoping to start a church plant in the SE area. The visioning process is already in full swing and we are working with a few others who are interested as well. One couple who works with Christian Associates (the church planting organization Rob, the Steigerwald’s, Bryan, and Desirae are a part of) are considering a move here from Texas to join our team. Woo! Oh how good the Lord is. Things are happening. Great things. Challenging things. I am learning and growing and living.
I will try to be better at updating, but this gives you something to chew on for awhile. Pray for me when you think about it. Pray for wisdom, for vision, and obedience.
Until next time,
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
This world has enough cynics. It is good to be aware of what is going on around us. It is right to be mindful of reality and not to be ignorant. Ignorance, after all, is not bliss. Ignorance is a band-aid for a wound that festers underneath. It may not be seen, but the problem remains. However, it is in our human nature to spend much more time thinking negatively about ourselves rather than positively. Everything around us tells us that we are not good enough. There are terrible things happening every day that give us reason to lose hope. Why feed that? Why live hopelessly, and with a heavy heart? Why not offer encouragement to those drowning in grief? Why not choose joy over sorrow? Why not search for the good in life, and in doing so inspire others to find it? A life filled with angst will leave you feeling distraught. It causes depression and voids your life of any contentment. The more we focus on our sufferings, the more we lose sight of our blessings. We get so caught up with what is not right in our lives, that we forget the things that are right. The things that are good. The abundance of blessings we have, or have had. We lose touch of the reality of joy that surrounds us, because we fear our joyfulness might offend others. God's desire for us is not to live in guilt, and sorrow. He wants us to be mindful of the things we can and cannot change. He does not want us to tolerate injustice, but instead to seek restoration and peace. However, no matter what we face in this life, He does want us to choose joy. His grace allows for that. He calls us to live in it.
To be honest, it is quite difficult for me to live this way. There are so many things that upset me. There is so much unfairness in this wicked world. I am often consumed with anxiety, and a desperation for change. Yet, I know that hope is here. It is available. I can still seek change, while maintaining optimism. If I do not have a joyful heart, then perhaps I need to check my motives.
A great friend once told me, "I don't think God desires for us to be constantly distressed. The pursuit of perfection in Christ will always show us our limits, our failures, our shortcomings, but let us never forget the tension we live in - it has been finished already. We are second life."
Lord, do a work in me. Let me delight in your promises. Give me a spirit that rejoices in your goodness. Amen.