Tag Archives: Love

Hard Ass Mama

A few years ago, one of my higher-ups insinuated that I would be less qualified for my job once I gave birth.  This person seemed to believe that being a mother would make me less fit to do the work I enjoyed so much.  It broke my heart and made me question my identity.  I spoke with one of my sister clergy, a mother too, and I remember her telling me that I would be a better priest for being a mom.  And not because I’d become more nurturing or motherly–not because I’d offer better pastoral care–but because I’d be a better administrator, better leader, and stronger voice.

I thought back to that conversation last night as I held my inconsolable 7-week old daughter.  She is not a colicky baby.  But she does have the occasional night when she will do nothing but cry for an hour or two.  She won’t take a pacifier or bottle, she won’t nurse, she won’t be rocked or bounced–she’ll just scream in my ear.  All I can do is walk back and forth in her darkened room, sush-ing and patting, walking and walking until there’s a worn path on the rug.  Back and forth, back and forth.  Knowing that she will at some point tire of crying and fall asleep, but I can never tire of loving her.  I may not like it.  I may feel like she’s yelling at me and wearing me down.  But I can wait her out.  I can be stubborn and unrelenting.  I find new strength I didn’t know I had.

And then I remember my colleague’s encouragement, and realize I am indeed becoming a better priest by being a mother.  That these few hours of pacing are teaching me the persistence I need in my profession.  That being a mom has taught me I can carry more than I thought I could.  That I can put up with more than I ever imagined–and what I won’t put up with.  That intuition is a leadership skill that can only be realized or discovered–not taught.

I know a lot of moms who feel like their career–one aspect of their vocation–has to take a back seat while their children are young.  I feel that sometimes too.  And it’s hard because I’ve always been driven and I love my work.  But every once in a while I can see the “professional development” that my children bring me.  It may not be notable on a resume, but it’s meaningful and true.

If in the years to come I am a more persistent prophet, a more valiant lover, a more courageous and thoughtful leader, a wiser authority and a more savvy administrator–you can thank my children.  Because moms aren’t all softness and kisses.  We are hard asses.  And we will do the work.

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Tough Love

Preached at Trinity Wall Street on the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany.
1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28

We tend to think of love as something soft and nurturing–and it is these things. But if we’re “doing” love right, it’s also hard.

Watch it here.

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A Deacon’s First Sermon

On Saturday, I was ordained a deacon at the Church of The Good Shepherd in Raleigh.  It was good to be in my home diocese.  On Sunday, I “deaconed” and preached at Christ Church in Charlotte, with all the sweet smells, visions, faces, and sounds of my home parish.  While I had preached at Christ Church before, this was my first time preaching in “big church” with some extra pieces of clothing befitting a deacon.  So it was a touch foreign and abundantly homey at the same time.  I remain filled with gratitude.
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Proper 7, Christ Episcopal Church, Charlotte, North Carolina
Genesis 21:8-21, Matthew 10:24-39

In the name of the One, Holy and Everliving God, Amen.

Even the hairs of your head are all counted…
I have not come to bring peace, but a sword…
You are of more value than many sparrows…
I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother…

Goodness, today’s Gospel message is full of paradox. One moment we are told how special and cared for we are. The next we are told of certain struggle and pain. Three times we are told not to fear, and then we are given some scary predictions of what to expect as followers of Jesus.

This is not an easy passage to preach.

And our first reading from Genesis isn’t any easier. Abraham sends his slave and mistress Hagar along with his firstborn Ishmael into the wilderness with nothing but some bread and water. And he does so with God’s blessing!

What are we to make of God’s word to us today? What is the good news?

I have a friend. He could be your friend too. He’s a member of this parish and he’s a doctor and most of his patients happen to be children. This friend often has to give children shots. And when he does, parents will attempt to prepare a child saying, “Now don’t worry honey—this isn’t going to hurt.” At which point my friend must turn to the child and say, “Actually, this is going to hurt. But only for a moment. And you are going to be OK.”

Now which of these statements is most likely to engender trust in the child?

Truth can be hard to hear sometimes, but truth doesn’t let us down. Truth grounds us. Truth gives us the sure foundation we need so that we can weather whatever lies ahead.

This Gospel passage is a shorter snippet of a longer conversation Jesus is having with his disciples about what to expect as followers. Some scholars call it the “missionary discourse” because Jesus is preparing his friends for a mission. He has summoned the twelve apostles, he has commissioned them to go out into the world preaching and healing, and he has warned them of persecution. Then comes this bit of comfort… and of swords. And then Jesus finishes the conversation by telling them that those who welcome the disciples–these missionaries–welcomes Jesus himself and the God and Father of all.

Are you a follower of Jesus? Then you, too, are a missionary. Listen to these hopeful and hard truths—they are yours.

“It is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher.” In other words, remember Jesus? Always stirring up trouble with statements like, “love your enemy” and “it is better to give than to receive?”[1] The Jesus who came to “proclaim good news to the poor” and “freedom for the prisoners?”[2] Well, Jesus followers, if the disciple is like the teacher, we ought to expect more than a few raised eyebrows about our lives and actions.

And listen when Jesus says, “What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.” As Jesus followers, we’re not just called to know that God is Love and rest in that truth. We have to be and do that truth. We can’t just sing at Christmas “Go tell it on the mountain,” rather we must live lives and make decisions that truly tell-it-on-the-mountain every day.

Think back to the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Do you recall the very next sentence? “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”[3]

When peace is not the way of this world, peacemaking is not peaceful work.

And so Jesus, like the doctor about to give a child a shot, tells it to us straight: “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Again and again in the Gospels we see Jesus portrayed as one who contradicts the social norms and introduces chaos. Indeed, Jesus can be divisive. So the life of a disciple, a Jesus follower, a missionary–of you and me–could and perhaps should demonstrate the same. When the Gospel proclaims a counter cultural message, and we are the voices that proclaim it, we are going to come up against traditional power structures and even against one another. We see evidence of this division in our homes and in our churches as we all seek truth and then live out the difficulties of the truth we seek.

And as a result of being truth seekers, truth proclaimers and truth doers, we may feel deserted. Like Hagar and Ishmael, we can count on wilderness moments of thirst for living water and hunger for the bread of life. And like Hagar and Ishmael we can count on God showing up, hearing our cries, staying with us—even in the wilderness.

Today’s Bible passages tell it like it is. They tell us, “This is going to hurt, and you are going to be OK.” Truth like this may be hard to swallow, but it’ll stick to your ribs.

It’ll stick to your ribs when you take a big risk to make what could be just a small change in a broken world. And you’ll remember: do not fear…even the hairs of your head are all counted.

It’ll stick to your ribs when you speak up for a cause or a person who has been beat down. And you’ll remember: have no fear…nothing is secret that will not become known.

It’ll stick to your ribs when you keep quiet at a time you’d really like to speak up – so that someone else can be heard. And you’ll remember: do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

The truths that give us comfort and hope mean what they do and ground our faith because we’ve heard the hard truths too. Jesus’ statement, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword,” is uncomfortable to hear. It makes us squirm a little. We might want to gloss over these words to focus instead on words like, “I have come that they would have life and have it to the fullest.”[4] But Jesus’ promise of the Kingdom of God and life eternal and “life to the fullest” are promises we believe because Jesus tells the truth about all things—persecution and peace, division and reconciliation, oppression and salvation.

Jesus tells the disciples, “do not be afraid,” because Jesus knows how scary proclaiming the Gospel can be. Jesus anticipates us making unpopular decisions and speaking uncomfortable truths. AND Jesus tells the disciples, “do not be afraid,” because Jesus knows that God will show up and stay with us and sustain us until the fullness of the kingdom is known and the peace of God reigns supreme.

And so I’ll end with a prayer by William Sloan Coffin, taught to me by my dear mentor John Porter-Acee:

May God give you grace never to sell yourself short,
Grace to risk something big for something good,
Grace to remember that the world is too dangerous for anything but truth
And too small for anything but love.

Amen.

 

[1] Matthew 5:44 and Acts 20:35

[2] Luke 4:18

[3] Matthew 5:9-10

[4] John 10:10

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Christ is Risen—-SO WHAT?

Preached on the Third Sunday of Easter at St. Matthew & St. Timothy Church, New York City

For three Sundays now, we have been hearing stories of resurrection. Easter stories. Stories of Jesus’ friends responding to the mind-blowing reality of a resurrected Christ.

First we hear from the two Mary’s at the tomb. Together they go to the place where Jesus was buried, only to find the stone rolled away, the tomb empty, and an angel of the Lord indicating that Jesus has up and moved on to Galilee. Always going places, that Jesus. Can’t keep him down. The women are terrified! Not only is their friend missing from the place where they laid him, but their world is surely turned upside down and inside out, if what the angel says is true and Jesus has beat death after having been dead.

Then we hear from our doubting friend Thomas. I don’t know about you, but Thomas’ story always makes me feel a little better about myself. Like me on some days, Thomas has his doubts. And yet he is still counted among the faithful disciples of Jesus, and he even gets a whole story dedicated to his stubbornness as Jesus appears specifically to him saying, put your fingers in my wounds and your hand in my gaping side. And as Mother Carla reminded us last week, it is because Thomas doubts that he is later able to exclaim with confidence, “My Lord and my God!”

That brings us to this week. This week we’re on the road to Emmaus with Cleopas and his friend—both followers of Jesus. They seem to spend the whole day with an unrecognizable Jesus, who unpacks the scriptures for them and calls them “fools” just like in the good old days. It is not until Jesus breaks bread with them that they recognize him—and then he disappears. We sing about this at Eucharist sometimes: “The disciples knew the Lord Jesus/in the breaking of the bread.” And then they turn to each other and say, “Were not our hearts burning within us?” Aw, man! How could we be so dense!

Each of these vignettes speaks to our persistent and exuberant proclamation throughout the fifty days of Easter:

Alleluia! Christ has Risen!

The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Only, the responses of Mary, Thomas and Cleopas don’t really resonate with our weekly exclamations. If you were to say to any of these followers, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” They would likely respond: “What’s that supposed to mean? Are you sure? Oh. My. God.”

And if we really take seriously Mother Carla’s weekly exclamations, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” Perhaps before we can say, “The Lord is risen indeed,” we, like the disciples, need to ask: Wait… what?

What do our lives look like after Easter? And I don’t just mean, well now we have eternal life thanks to Jesus’ victory over death, though that truth clearly has massive implications of its own. No, I mean what is the impact of a risen Christ today. And tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow. What does Easter look like in my everyday life right now.

Christ is risen. So what?

Christ is risen. What now?

Like Mary and Mary at the empty tomb, we need to take a moment to realize, with trembling even, that our world has been turned upside down. Death doesn’t mean what it used to. The God we worship is more powerful than any “end” or “finality” death once represented. And nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even death. Jesus has changed the world and there’s no going back.

And like Thomas poking Jesus’ wounds, we need to spend some time contemplating just how crazy this idea is. Rather than just accept the resurrection as if it’s simply an event we remember every Easter, we need to grapple with the unbelievable implications of Jesus returning from the dead with wounded hands, feet and side. And then believe it. We have to name our doubts before we can proclaim the mystery of our faith.

And finally, like Cleopas on the way to Emmaus, we need to be continually schooled by Jesus while our hearts burn within us.

Only then can we begin to live into the everyday reality of life after Easter. Only then can we live our lives as people who begin to comprehend the significance of a resurrected Jesus.

Peter tells us that it’s through Jesus we come to trust in God. It’s through our fear, doubt, wonder and celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead that we find faith and set our hope on God.

And it’s in response to that truth that we have what Peter calls “genuine mutual love,” so that we can “love one another deeply from the heart.”

This is what the every day Easter life looks like. This is what it looks like to be “born anew,” having received the Holy Spirit after Christ’s death and resurrection. First comes the trust in God; then comes the genuine love. First comes the grappling with fear, doubt and wonder so that we can believe the unbelievable with courage and conviction; then comes a love that is equally courageous and life changing.

And you know what I’ve discovered here at St. Matthew and St. Timothy? That just as courageous faith makes for genuine love, so does genuine love make for courageous faith. I know this because the love you have shown me over the past two years here has given me a new boldness and courage in proclaiming my faith in Jesus—in English and Spanish. This post-resurrection-Easter-courageous-genuine-love is life changing stuff—and I know that because your love has changed my life.

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

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Listening for Fire

Preached on the Sixth Sunday of Easter at St. Matthew & St. Timothy, New York

Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 148; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35

Last week Mother Carla gave us some homework.  She encouraged us to think of Love as we made decisions—to ask ourselves what the loving response might be and to act out of that love.

How’d it go for you?

Did you love your neighbor?  Did you love yourself?  Did you ask yourself, what is the most loving thing I can do in this situation or that?

I read in a book this week that, “When Jesus calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves, he is telling us that we cannot really love either without loving both.”[1]  If I don’t love myself, I’m going to have a hard time loving you.  And if I’m not very loving toward you, it’s going to be tough to love myself.

Last week John’s gospel reminded us how people would know we are disciples of Christ, “that you love one another.”

This week Jesus tells us that he will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit—earlier Jesus describes the Advocate as “the spirit of truth…he abides with you, and he will be in you.”[2]  Here Jesus tells us that the Advocate is a gift from God, sent in Christ’s name, and that this Spirit will teach us everything, and remind us of all that Jesus has said to us.

And this is what I want to explore with you today—how we know or listen to the Holy Spirit—because I think knowing the Holy Spirit really informs our ability to love one another.

Jyoti Sahi- India

So first off—what are some names we have for the Holy Spirit?  Today’s text calls the Spirit an Advocate.

Teacher

Helper (Paraclete)

Comforter

Pneuma/Ruach—wind or breath in Greek/Hebrew

Intercessor—groans on our behalf

These names help us to know what the Spirit does.  And knowing what the Spirit does should help us to recognize the spirit in our lives.

There is a book called “The Helper” by Catherine Marshal that I used to read every year for Lent.  The book is older than me, and it uses some language we’re no longer accustomed to.  But I read it every year for several years because it taught me how to practice listening to the Spirit.  And I really do mean practice.

We start with what we’ve just done—naming who the Holy Spirit is so that we know who to listen for.

Then we move on to where we find the Holy Spirit.  Jesus says, the Holy Spirit is inside you.  For me, I feel the Holy Spirit most in my gut.  For others, it may be their heart or their head.  Regardless, finding the Holy Spirit requires a self-awareness that comes from turning inward.

Once we know whom we’re listening for and where to listen for it, it’s time to practice listening.

Usually we need to start small.  Pay attention to the little urges, nudges, pauses and prompts.  Maybe I have gut feeling that I need to leave 5 minutes early today, or that I need to call and check on my friend, or that I should text my husband to let him know I’m proud of him, or that I really ought to stay home and rest instead of attending an event.

We get these little feelings, and we wonder if we should pay attention to them, you know?  That’s where listening to the Holy Spirit starts.

It doesn’t always make sense, and you may not ever know if following that gut instinct really made a difference in your day or in the day of someone else.  But it gets us in the habit of listening, trusting, and acting.

As you practice, you might sometimes wonder, how do I know I’m listening to the Holy Spirit, and not some other urge or influence?

Remember that Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would remind us of all Jesus has taught us.  So like Jesus, the Holy Spirit will encourage us to act in such a way that we are loving one another.  Sometimes listening for love will help us tune out any other distractions.

Once we get used to hearing the Holy Spirit in some of the smaller every-day stuff, we can trust that same voice when we feel prompted to make bigger decisions.  Maybe it’s time to move, take a risk at work, get out of an unhealthy relationship, start a family, choose where to go to college, or take on a new responsibility.  If we’ve been practicing listening to the Holy Spirit, we will know that still quiet voice in situations great and small.

This ability to know and trust the Holy Spirit is why Jesus can say to his disciples and to us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.”

Jesus says this as he is about to be taken out of this world.  He knows the disciples will soon be faced with fear and unknowns.  But because the Holy Spirit remains, the very Spirit of God that Jesus has embodied for us on earth, we are never alone and we have nothing to fear.

The more we know this Holy Spirit, the more we know the peace of Christ.

I think this peace is twofold.  I think there’s the peace we experience from acting with the assurance of the Holy Spirit.  I think it’s a peace that surpasses our understanding because sometimes the Spirit calls us to do things that defy logic.

But then there’s also the peace that is created when we do the most loving thing as Mother Carla challenged us to consider this past week.

The peace that Jesus leaves with us is one we experience and one we create if we but listen to the Spirit and love one another accordingly.

I spent a lot of time talking about how to listen for the Spirit because I think it’s something we have to train our ears to do.  As much as we might think love ought to come easily, love is something Jesus teaches us again and again, sermon after sermon, parable after parable, and ultimately with his death and resurrection.    And Jesus tells us, “the Holy Spirit will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”  So if we’re to love one another, we’ve got to practice listening to the Spirit.

In two weeks we will celebrate Pentecost.  Pentecost is when we remember the in-rushing of the Holy Spirit that empowered the disciples to preach boldly and in languages they had never spoken before.  Pentecost is Holy Spirit Sunday.

But if our hearts are to be set aflame with the life giving power of the Holy Spirit, we’ve got to be open and ready to listen.

So practice with me.  Start small and get ready for something big.  You never know what boldness the Spirit might call you to, but you can trust it will be a call to love and peace.

Amen.


[1] L. William Countryman, Living on the Border of the Holy: Renewing the Priesthood of All, page 176.

[2] John 14:17.

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self love slacker

this weekend i attended what i thought would just be a lecture on friday night, but enjoyed the speaker and the content so much that i had to re-arrange my weekend plans in order to attend the day-long workshop saturday as well. it was worth it. as an episcopal priest and jungian annalist, pittman mcgehee had some wonderful things to say about the psychology of love (a preview to his book “the paradox of love” to be released in october). there is no way i could summarize the weekend in a brief enough way to hold your attention, so i’ll just leave you with the things that are sticking to me a few days later. (not sticking with me–there’s a lot more of that–just the things that i feel like could be sticky-notes on my forehead).

1. when pittman takes on a new patient, he asks them to pick up two forms of exercise: physical and spiritual. duh! this is sticking to me b/c i’ve been slacking on both, and both are forms of self-love! which was another theme i’ll get to.
2. people really desire 3 things deeply: meaning in general, purpose in particular and a place to belong. true dat.
3. let it be. agape is the “let it be love” that lets you be who you are and lets me be who i am and lets us love just like that. so simple, and yet maybe the most important self-love and other-love lesson to lean on. if i have to please you, that’s not love. if you have to please me, that’s not love. if i have to please myself, that’s not love. let it be, and let it be loved.
4. the “wounded healer” is a metaphor i’ve long identified with. how interesting, then, that Jesus was resurrected with His wounds. what hope for the wounded (ie: everyone).
5. maybe human becomings is a better term than human beings.

anyway, in light of some of these things, i’m going to get back to my 3x a week running schedule, my daily journaling schedule, and maybe even blog more. not because i should, not like a task, but a gift to myself that makes me feel better. at least the running and journaling have that effect. the blogging is more just to help me pay attention to the special and the sacred in the everyday.

today i’m paying attention to the fact that the paintings on either side of me are of charlotte and new york city. coincidence that i’m sitting between the two? they’re the only city paintings in this place. i’d buy them both if they weren’t $750 a pop. looking forward to nyc so much, but relishing every moment left in the queen city. that’s special.

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open valentine year II

After half my emails bounced back (I really ought to update my address book!) I’m posting an open valentine to bloggers and facebook for the second year straight…

So much has happened in the past year to be thankful for. The biggest news is that the “guy” I mentioned last year asked me to marry him.  So I will! At a very small wedding on New Year’s Eve coming up. We are thrilled, our families are thrilled, and perhaps the most excited of all is Pepper. She adores Jay!

Jay synopsis: Jay is the supervising news producer for the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, finished in the top 1% of the Boston Marathon last April, placed 3rd in his age group in the Richmond Marathon this November, loves music and harmonizes with me in the car, hales from the village of Newark in upstate New York (where he is a local prank celebrity), and is a born and bred Packers fan.

I also mentioned last year that I had entered the discernment process to become an episcopal priest. After 18 months of interviews and prayers and many life lessons, the bishop granted me Postulancy for Holy Orders. Being a postulant just means I get to go to school to be a preist–Yay! There are still lots of steps before becoming a priest, though… so more on that in years to come.

As for where I’ll be in school next year–I’m waiting to hear back from my first-choice school: General Theological Seminary in New York City. I checked the mailbox this afternoon in hopes that I’d have news on that front for this (already day-late) Valentine, but nothing yet! Regardless, the plan is for me to go to school this fall, finishing my first semester without Jay while he finishes out his contract in Charlotte (boo!) We’ll be married between semesters so Jay and Pepper can join me sometime between January and March. We’re excited about starting our marriage in a supportive community of faith at seminary.

And that’s the scoop! I did take a group of 34 kids to Nova Scotia on pilgrimage this year, traveled to the Bahamas with Jay for my 30th birthday, spent a week on Lake Ontario at Jay’s family’s cottage, attended several best friends’ weddings (singing in two of them), celebrated several births, and celebrated my granddad’s 80th birthday in Texas with every single aunt, uncle and cousin on that side of the family. It’s been quite a year, with lots of love to celebrate.

I pray that you too are celebrating love every chance you get. May we all find even more love in our hearts this year than we knew we had, remembering Proverbs 15:17, “A bowl of vegetables with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate.”

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open valentine to bloggers and fb

after getting muchos bouncebacks to this emailed valentine yesterday, i thought i better share the same on blog and facebook for all those i missed! love.

It is my custom to mail valentines to friends and family, near and far. But as the list of places I’ve lived grows longer, and my relationships multiply, well… it gets expensive! So please accept this electronic valentine and update as a token of my continued affection. I’ll even throw some pictures in (just click on any highlighted words).

The past year has been a doozy, in a good way. Here are the highlights…

I continue to love my job as a youth minister. The kids and the church are awesome. Last year I took two ski trips, a beach trip, mission trips to Costa Rica and West Virginia, and I led a Pilgrimage to Ireland. It was a lot of travel (10 days in Ireland feels like 100 when you’re taking care of 37 teenagers!) but I got by with a little (or a lot of) help from my friends. And the best part: countless Moments of Grace. Nothing like a lack of control to help you see God right in front of your nose.

I love life in Charlotte. Though the city is lacking in diversity, it is over the top in hospitality and activity. My friends here introduced me to a number of new hobbies, including my first two triathlons, first two 10k races, and first two half-marathons. My family thinks it’s hilarious that I, the nonathletic child, have become a runner. Who knew? Chalk it up to peer pressure, in a good way. I’ve got an awesome Monday night girls’ group–we read books and pray together. I’ve got an awesome Thursday night girls’ group–we drink wine together. Got to love balance. I don’t just hang out with girls, though… there are boys too. One, in particular. And he’s a yankee (gasp)!!

The two most exciting and daunting pieces of news are Pepper and the Priesthood. Pepper is my dear sweet dog. A 2-yr old German Shepherd Lab mix I rescued her last March; she is the love of my life. She cannot get enough love, nor does she ever run out of love to give. She barks at boys and likes sweaty shoes. I didn’t think I could handle the responsibility of a dog, considering all my travels, but my friends have made it all possible. It takes a village. As for the Priesthood, I entered the discernment process to be an Episcopal Priest last fall. It’s a long process, complicated, exhausting, rich and life-giving. Depending on how things go, I may start seminary in Fall of 2011. Maybe I’ll know by next Valentine’s Day… in the mean time, I appreciate your prayers!

No matter where you are this Valentine’s Day, I pray that you know Love. Uncontrollable, no strings attached, unconditional, radical, unstoppable, mindbending… God LOVE.

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13.1 thank you’s

a while back i got this wild idea to run a half marathon (i think it started on the cruise with my girlfriends this summer, when i read an article about endurance training, and thought, huh… i’ve been training for things all year… but endurance… that’s something new…) everyone kept telling me it’s a mental challenge as much as a physical one. my girlfriend jocelita said, “maybe just think of a different person at every mile…” so i filed that little nugget away.

a month before the race, i made a list. i was going to run 13.1 miles, so i chose 13 people that had made the biggest impact on my first year in town. here’s the run-down…

From 2009 Fall

mile 1: aimeesita. 7.48. this was my fastest mile (downhill and pumped up). aimeesita is so many things to me, but she is always my designated hug for the day. without her, i could go a whole week hugless!

mile 2: anniebananie. 8:47. anniebananie shares my office and therefore my craziness. she listens to me whether she wants to or not. sometimes she acts like my mom, but she never gets upset with me. love!

mile 3: chip dinero. 8:42. chip dinero is my mentor. he’s been there for lots of up’s and down’s this year. i look up to him muchisimo.

mile 4: danimal. 9:12 (pace is slowing… uphill). not only did danimal introduce me to sweet pepper bear, but he also taught me to rake leaves and he manages my fantasy football team… which is winning. most generous guy i know!

mile 5: farrellita. 8:40. farrellita intimidated me when i first met her because she is so cool. now she, her hubby and her baby are like family to me. her back porch (with a glass of wine in my hand) is probably my favorite place in town.

mile 6: hi-mey. 9:24. i met hi-mey up at farrellita’s cabin last spring. we hit it off immediately. i love him so much, i introduced him to the best girl i know. and he asked her to marry him. she said yes. and there was much rejoicing.

mile 7: jocelita. 9:13. jocelita is one of the biggest cheer leaders i know. she was biking all over the course on her stylin’ yellow wheels, cheering peeps on left and right. she inspires me!

mile 8: juan. 9:12. juan is my boss. i often say i want to be like all the priests i work for when i grow up, but i especially want to be like juan. he’s got more wisdom and insight than peeps twice his age. and he’s a tree hugger.

mile 9: julia. 9:37. julia was one of my first real girlfriends here. she taught me to ride with clipless pedals, and was there for my first fall. she later told me she was hoping to be the mile that includes the toughest hill on the course, and she was… well… half way…

mile 10: latissimus. 9:55. my slowest mile on the course. in part because it included the other half of the toughest hill, but also because i had to stop and hug hi-mey and wave to anniebananie, who were waiting on the course, cheering for me. YES! latissimus introduced me to 1/3 of the peeps i know here, drove me around the first 3 car-less months i lived here, and then taught me to drive stick when i finally did buy a car. other than dating, he’s pretty much awesome

mile 11: lindensita. 9:37. lindensita’s stretch of the race was actually perfect, as it’s the same stretch we “speed walked” the day i told her i wanted to be a priest. she was the first friend i told… the guinea pig. and she didn’t freak out! linden gets the mountain girl in me.

mile 12: maria carolina. 9:52. mi amor, mc! this chica started the monday night girls’ group that has become my sacred space each week. we have some crazy similarities, meaning she makes me feel understood in a way few people can.

mile 13: sloandawg. i don’t know that i actually stopped my watch when i crossed the finish. sloandawg, i think, has put up with my very worst, and she’s been there for some of my best moments too. she ran my first 10k and my first triathlon with me. she lets me repeat stories over and over, and she put up with the bulk of my culture shock when i moved here. i love her. she’s also engaged to hi-mey.

From 2009 Fall

in the end, i finished the race in 2:00:11. my goal was to get as close to 2 hours as possible, so 11 seconds over is pretty stinkin’ close! i was very pleased. and dad was standing at the finish line waiting for me with a great big hug. as were jocelita and jota.

jota is someone else i need to thank. he has made running fun, as has the whole running club.

sarita also gets a shout-out for biking all over the course to cheer me (and others) on!

lorita too, who could not be there, as she was cheering on her hubby in his first ironman race, but who coached me through every one of my long runs leading up to the race… she’s one of my new favorite people. and her watch, which usually beeps at us when we run uphills, was beeping in my head, reminding me to slow up a little on those uphill stretches.

all in all, it was an epic day, i finally earned a real medal (YAY!!!), and we closed out the festivities with a dinner party for the 13 and their dates. thanks to chef dad.

thank you, thank you, thank you for all who encouraged me along the way, and especially for all who have made this town HOME to me.

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just a taste

i tend to live out loud. keeps me authentic. it’s a lot easier to falsify aspects of life when you keep them hidden. so don’t be shocked when i say on my blog (and thus on facebook) that i saw my therapist today.

i really love my rock star of a shrink, who i’ll call juana. she helped me acclimate post-africa as i tried to remember my identity, and as i tried to re-learn emotions. i think she did a pretty good job. we met regularly last summer.

and we met once in january, in a moment of freaking out over how awkward my new dating relationship was, which ended shortly after. (no worries).

but i hadn’t seen her since. it’s not that i haven’t had my ups and downs… i have. but i am a) extremely self aware, b) practical, and c) an external processor. meaning i walk into a counseling session knowing exactly how i feel, understanding why i feel that way, and i’ve likely processed it with several girlfriends.

the current downer: i’m lonely.

on one level, it’s absolutely ridiculous. i have the most amazing friends, and lots of ’em. my social calendar is full. my work is fulfilling. life is balanced. life is good. God is great.

on another level, it makes perfect sense. there’s an empty space, and it is what it is.

so when i told my boss i was in a funk (i mean, he’s a priest, i can tell him anything)… he responded, “when’s the last time you talked to juana?”

i said, “dude, i know why i’m lonely.”

at which point he laughed and said, “oh, you do?”

“fine,” i said.

and i called juana.

she pretty much said what i expected… i’m not in need of real “therapy” because it’s ok to feel lonely. it’s real. it’s part of life. i’m aware, i’m balanced, i’m good to go.

but she did say one thing that kinda stood out… this little nugget will somehow help me cope… though i don’t know how… i just know it will.

basically, i’ve opened myself up to loneliness. i’ve allowed myself to be open to love, i’ve put myself out there, i’ve been crushed and broken and hurt, but i’ve also opened a door that i could-not-would-not open this time last year.

in a sense, it’s a good thing.

you know when you’re not really hungry, but then somebody gives you a bite of a cookie, and then suddenly your stomach starts growling and you’re like, ‘when’s dinner?!”

well that’s where i am right now. i didn’t know i was hungry. i had a little taste of something good, and now i’m eager for the main course.

i’m hungry, but not starving. lonely, but not desperate.

and somehow, that little juana-ism is like the sherbet they serve between courses… a pallet-cleanser of sorts. so i share it with you, free of charge. but i recommend you back it up with a strong dose of self-care if you feel you’re in the same boat. laughter, prayer, exercise, acupuncture, short-term attainable goals, pedicures, mountains, dogs and best friends come to mind.

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