Sunday, May 02, 2010

passing sincerities

As a cashier, I have the opportunity to cross paths with hundreds of people a day. Most of these interactions are quick and not memorable, but every once and a while I am given a quick personal glimpse into one of my customer's lives. This week, I was privileged with such a glimpse. A woman came through with tears in her eyes and as I greeted her she started apologizing for her emotion. "I'm sorry to cry in front of you, but I was just reminded of my husband. He died 8 years ago, but I adored him." Tears began to fall with greeter freedom as I stopped checking out her groceries and leaned forward to hear more. She continued, "I just spoke with a young woman who has just met a man. They are falling in love...she was picking out wine and cheese to take to him on a picnic. That's the kind of thing my husband would have loved." Tears continued..."It's been eight years, but I miss him so much. I have such wonderful memories." I was at a loss for words, but stammered, "It sounds like you had a remarkable wonderful to have loved so deeply." By this time her grocery bags were packed, bill paid and she was moving towards the door but she turned one last time and smiled at me through thick tears, "I loved him so much. It's a shame I'm such an ugly crier." I laughed and thanked her for sharing, realizing that every person coming through my line is drenched in personal stories, yet it is rare that we let our guard down enough to share. This woman, though a complete stranger, let me into to her story, loss and grief. In that brief interaction I got to celebrate a rich love, grieve a deep loss and be encouraged by a rich marriage. How much more life is there to be lived if we took the opportunity to invite people into our stories, even strangers. I hope to love like this woman loved, and live in her sincerity, so to bring people into the depths of my life, even in quick, passing interactions.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Redemption in Grief

Good news! I'm learning things in seminary! Yipee! I don't know if I'm learning what I'm "supposed" to be learning...but I'm learning things nonetheless...

One of these boldest lessons came from my Intro to Counseling class last Thursday. The class was on grief, and it was pretty raw. As the professor spoke and classmates shared, I could sense all of my past griefs wanting to come out and say hello. My parent's divorce, the death of friends, friendships torn, family relationships changing, romantic hopes broken, health scares, bands breaking up...all things I have had to seriously grieve in their turn over the years. Each of these things took months to years of emotional energy, counseling and processing to work through and accept. But I realized through this lecture that there is a great gift in grief. Granted, this can only be claimed in retrospect--so don't any one dare tell someone who's grieving that it's a gift--that would be really stupid. But as I look back on these parts of my story, I can see how much I was changed, edified and made alive through each of these painful processes.

One author puts it this way. "I am convinced that most of us, most of the time, live in an anesthetized state. Our bodies may be functioning, but we feel nothing and are aware of nothing of great importance. We suffer from what someone has called 'the anesthesia of the familiar.' To grieve deeply and openly brings us into the recovery of life, where the anesthesia wears off and we see and feel and taste and touch life for the first time. It is the greatest paradox of life that we can truly come alive only after the arrows of death have pierced our hearts. The things I once took for granted, or passed without notice, are now the most immeasurable of treasures...If we have ears to hear, we discover that the cries of grief are at the same time the birth pangs of faith"

Through my limited experience, I find this to be true. My life has not been as hard as many, but I have grieved many things over the years, and I know it changed me. For better and worse grief makes you alive to things you had never before experienced, and it transforms you. There is a seasoning to a person that has been through a great loss that can not be mimicked. Character comes out of loss, pain and grief. It is absurdly painful, but it is these moments that make us the people we are.

Somehow I walked away from this lecture thankful for the grief I've experienced. This is not to say I am thankful my parents got divorced or that I had experienced broken relationships, but I am thankful for how those experiences have crucially changed me. Through these events I have been matured and given a perspective that can only be learned by experience. I am thankful that there is this much redemption in tragic loss. With time, joy replaces grief, and I think I will only fully understand that when I see Jesus face to face. But I do know I love now more deeply than I did before. I am more focused and balanced. I know myself better. I have a better capacity to care for others. I am more joyful. I can empathize with those who are experiencing great loss. Somehow grieving brought these changes in me, and I am thankful.

More than anything, I am ridiculously thankful for the perspective to be able to say that.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

500 Days of Summer

I saw this movie recently, and for some reason it is sticking with me a long time. I loved it, cinematically, artistically and musically (great soundtrack) but something about it makes me uncomfortable. As I am passively watching it for a second time, I think it's because it is too real. Both of the main characters hit close to my heart, and it makes me want to hide my head in a pillow. I am much more comfortable watching a pointless, fluffy chick flick that I am something that challenges me at the core of my being. Shoot, why can't I just stay shallow?? Oh well.

For those of you who haven't seen it, 500 Days of Summer is a story about boy meets girl, but isn't a love story (I stole that from the opening line, don't tell...). A young romantic man is looking for love to make him happy, answer all his problems, seal his life dreams and make him feel alive (what girl can not identify with these sentiments?). He meets a young independent woman who does not believe in love, but has a vivacious take on life that is both compelling and attractive. As their relationships unfolds, the woman begins to believe in the reality of love (but not with this young man), while the man falls completely and hopelessly in love with this woman. It is not your typical ending, and to the romantic watcher (like me...) it leaves you with a sharp stab from reality. We don't always get what we want. What we hope for is not always what unfolds in reality, but often our view of what we want is limited by what we can see. I am becoming more and more convinced that what we see (and consequently think we want) is just a hint of what we desire. I have had so many friends who, once they met their spouse, said something along the lines of "I didn't even know to hope for this in a person, he/she is so much more that what I thought I wanted." So it seems we are often surprised when love finds us and our expectations are blown out of the water. The man in this movie wants the girl, and though that desire is painfully unfulfilled, better, unseen options are waiting to be found. The girl in this movie (though she is admittedly the one that I was angry with at the end), seems to have the better perspective and is able to say "no" to something that is good but not best. All this left me with the following smattering of unrelated thoughts:

Relationships are hard, especially the ones that don't end well.

Any interaction between two people is almost always interpreted two different (and sometimes opposite) ways.

Through the lens of infatuation our expectations can become completely and totally wacked (there is a great scene in the movie depicting this.)

Love is very real, but often comes from the most unexpected, unforeseen places.

Many people and relationships serve as learning ground as we are on the road to finding love. Without the relationship in this movie, the woman would never have come to believe in love, but through the relationship, the man's heart was demolished. Was it in vain? Not at all. Lessons learned, lives changed and love eventually increased, but not without the pain of loss. We are all integrally involved in one another's growth, development and walk towards love and sometimes we get hurt in the process, but it is not in vain. To say it from another perspective, we are all learning how to love, exploring our horizons of possibilities and gleaning lessons from those around us. Every relationship offers us a new, unique perspective, and we are most benefited when we are willing and open to receive these lessons.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Heading East!

This post is so over due it's ridiculous! I've traveled from Alaska to Spokane to Nor Cal to LA to London to LA and back and forth to Nor Cal a few more times. The past two months have been full, rich and wonderful. I loved being in Spokane and visiting friends who have become family. Time in Nor Cal is always fabulous and too short. London was amazing in so many ways. Finally, I am really glad I decided to stay in LA for November and December. It was a great time for me to reconnect with friends from high school, play music, enjoy sunshine, be with family for the holidays and work at Whole Foods. There were definitely moments of loneliness and I greatly miss being in community, but all in all it was a fantastic season. I am really thankful that Katie and Scott were "near" by and that I got to see them several times. They are wonderful and I will miss them a lot.

I took up a hobby while here in LA. Running. This is as much of a surprise to me as it might be to any of you, but it has be great! My mom has a group of running buddies that took me in and step by step I became a runner. WEIRD! In fact, I became enough of a runner that I am entered in a 1/2 Marathon. Weirder STILL! The race is this Sunday, and I am really excited! I am feeling relatively strong, ran 12 miles last week, and am ready to give it a go! The first time out, I am just going to be stoked to finish, so let's just hope I cross that finish line!

So yes! I am running the Phoenix 1/2 marathon...On my way to St Louis! Yup, you read right. My car is currently packed, loaded and ready to drive east to good ole St Louis. I have been admitted to Covenant Seminary and am starting this semester on a Masters and Religion and Culture. All the stories around this move are phenomenal. I originally applied in November, just to test the waters and see what was possible. From there, God swung the doors wide open. There were obstacles, and they were all surmounted. There was doubt, and God firmly calmed it. There was (and is) financial need, and God continues to provide every penny. I have never walked into a life change with this much confidence and assurance of His leading. Sometimes I laugh out loud when I think about how quickly this all happened. So much has changed over the last year, and God has brought me SO far. I am excited for this next step and can't wait to see what it all looks like!

Pray for safe running and driving. I'm driving from Phoenix to St Louis alone, and am hoping for good driving conditions.

If any of your journeys bring you to St Louis, please drop me a line! I'd love to see you!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

more pictures

me?! have too many pictures?! no way!

but, really, isn't that the reason why most of us keep track of blogs anyway? the pictures make the post!! :)

on the train!

beautiful lake bennett!

wonderful friends...

pablo on his lunch break

paul's place of work! the white pass train.

paul and dani!

dani and i hiked to spergle or sturgil or spankle or something landing. it was fantastic!

On a completely different note, we leave tomorrow at 5am for our two week tour to Anchorage! It should be a blast! My sister is coming up for our first show, and I can hardly wait to see her! I am so excited to see the interior of Alaska and get some time away from the daily grind. It should be a phenomenal couple of weeks.

dani! birthday! decisions!

The best way to describe this past week would
This week held
some of the best moments of the summer, hand in hand with some of the worst.

On the high end, my good friend Dani came to visit me! Dani
has been a close friend since Whitworth days, and always been one of the most intentional people in my life. To this day she is one of the only college friends who came down to LA to visit my family, and now is one of the only people who will make the million-dollar investment in a vacation to Juneau.

It was so good to have her here. We went on a good hike, ate some AMAZING blackened salmon, and had wonderful conversations. She got to see a One Aisle Over show and even went on a bike tour! Over the weekend we traveled to Skagway to visit Paul. The weekend included a wonderful hike, meeting many of Paul's friends, playing Settlers of Catan over red wine and chocolate, a 10 hour ride on the train, playing music, birthday dinner and birthday pancakes! All in all, not too shabby! I have heard so much about Skagway over the years from Paul, Lindsey and others that I was thrilled to put places and faces with stories and names. Skagway is a wonderfully charming city, and I FINALLY understand how it has captivated some of my close friends for several years.

For my birthday I woke up to my 27th year in Skagway! It was good to start the day with Dani and Paul. The rest of the day was not exactly fantastic, but it went on. It just happened that some mis-communications with the band came to a head on this day, and I spent a good chunk of the b-day in tears.

There is a bit of confusion right now as to how long my commitment will last with the band. They desire (and deserve) members of the band who are willing and able to give more than I am currently able to give, and this leaves us at a tense point. They want me to commit to the group for the long term, and a LOT of me wants to do this. But I get insecure about the future and the long haul. Do I want to commit to performing with this group for the next several years? Is that my heart for life? What about school? What about counseling? What about family? What about missions? How do these things fall into line with trying to play music full time? Is this a left turn from the Lord or a refining moment that might cause me to pursue my original plan with greater zeal? These and more questions all play a role in complicating my decision. On top of this, relationships in the band have been at times strained, which makes me less inclined to stay long term in Juneau. All this and more came to a head on my birthday and several hard conversations later, I was ready to walk away from the band. But I had a good conversation with a band mate that made me willing to give it more time. He pointed out that all our relationships are intensified because we all live together and recommended I find a new place to live. He also took off some of the commitment pressure, stating that he realizes it's a big decision and wants me to take the time to really let the decision be true, rather than throwing away something that could be wonderful. I really respect this perspective, and am holding off on making any big decisions for a while. In the meantime, however, we had a FANTASTIC show this weekend, which made me fall for the band all over again. This was our biggest show of the year. We performed for a LISTENING audience of about 200 people and had a LOT of fun! This was a fund raising concert to put money towards our recording project in October, and it went really well. We played well and had a fantastic response. It was especially exciting for me because I had fun! I have been so tired and burnt out that playing has been laborious for me, but this show was a blast and brought back a lot of the joy that had been lacking. It was unspeakably refreshing to enjoy playing, music and my band mates again.

I think it was the dose of enjoyment I needed to keep pressing on. When it comes down to it, I really like these people and this music. Maybe this is a short term gig, but maybe this is just the first trial in a very good long term relationship. Everyone has always likened the commitment to this band like a marriage, and I find it fitting. The dating process is great, but filled with many bumps in the road and questions before one is ready to commit. I need to give this group that same grace and allow all of us to learn through these "bumps" in the road. Who knows where this all will go, but I don't want to throw away what could be a huge gift from Jesus. :) We'll see.

Monday, July 13, 2009


So, so, so, so, so much has happened since I last blogged. This summer is honestly turning into a whirlwind. Long work days, rehearsal, gigs and the occasional tid-bit of social life is leaving me a bit tired and worn. The up-side is I love everything I am doing, but I am running ragged. I guess one could say this last chunk of time has been a crash course in real life after the honeymoon period in Juneau. It's not that it's bad, it's just that the initial excitement of living in a new, beautiful place and doing all new things is wearing off. I've been lonely. I've missed my friends. I've had a desire for someone to know and appreciate my heart and passions. I want this place to feel like home, but it isn't yet--and nor could it be. I've only been here three months and haven't had time to develop many relationships outside of the band and work. Thankfully, I really like my band mates and co-workers, but I still long for the heartfelt communion of those who know you well and appreciate the small things in you. I realize this is a natural part of all transitions, so I'm not jumping ship or rotting away in despair--just acknowledging the natural absence of these things. All reading this must know: I am a very relational person and thrive off of deep conversation and transparent relationships. Life gets to be a bit drudgy when those aren't around...but I have confidence they will grow with time. It has been a good time of communion with the Lord around these things. He has reminded me that He is the one who can know me most intimately, better than I know myself. When my heart longs to be understood, He has been gracious to remind me to come to Him first. When I am lonely, He has been good to turn me to prayer so that I remember the constant communion available in Him. When I struggle with being single (big surprise, right?) He has reminded me of His sovereignty over my life, my heart and the future. When I struggle with relationships at home or at work, He reminds me to die to myself and serve those around me in love. All these things have a been huge lessons in His character and heart for my life. Every time I feel myself wanting to complain, the Holy Spirit reminds me of Jesus's life and how He felt lonely, misunderstood, used, unappreciated and abandoned far more than I ever could. Oh, to know Him and the power of His Resurrection, and may share in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death. This is not an easy calling, but it is the road of those who choose to follow. And not that it is shy of joy! In each of these areas He has brought much joy indeed. I am thankful that He has been so quick and clear to convict and show me how I can be more like Him. Goodness knows, I fail daily, but I thankful for the transforming work that is taking place.

I had a conversation with a friend last weekend that has stuck with me. We talked about the call to take scripture seriously and be willing to lead the radical life that it calls for. Those who have known me since my college days know that I once was SUPER crazy towards this direction, but now I approach it with a more balanced and earnest heart. I want to lead the kind of life that is truly transformed by what I read in scripture. I want to live a simple life that is full passion, love and sacrifice. When I was in Ethiopia, the thing that struck me most was how powerfully believers there believed and lived by scripture. If it was in the Bible, they believed it as Truth. We tend to explain things away with our "knowledge" and "cultural ways of thinking." Dang it, it is such a cop out. I don't want to be a fundamentalist Bible-thumper, but I do want to be a person who lives radically after the Truth I believe. I don't know what all that looks like, but it has been a good thing to ponder for a while. How easy it is to settle into complacency and forget that this world is not our home. How easy it is to want to fit in with those around us and to let go of the conviction that grips our heart. I know this complacency because I live there far too often, but I don't want to settle there. This Sunday's sermon was on Calvin and it stuck with me that Calvin only lived to be 55 years old. He only lived 29 years more than I, yet his life completely changed history. Our lives don't have to be that public or propel such historical change, but would they all be that filled with passion that God's glory can be seen boldly in them even if we don't live long on this earth.

The following song has been blasting on my ipod for the past couple weeks and I want to share the lyrics with you...

Lord, He thunders from heaven
and His voice can stop this world
He created the day and night
still He knit together this little girl

Oh, you could sing us a new song,
Oh, you could stand up and say
"Hallelujah! He loved me today!"

He gathers the sea to jars
and He calls the stars by name
clothes the flowers in every field
still He loves me just the same

Oh, you could sing us a new song!
Oh, you could stand up and say,
"Hallelujah! He loved me today!"

The earth trembles and mountains shake
and the wind can blow so strong
All of creation waits for the day
When you call Your children home

Oh, you could sing us a new song!
Oh, you could stand up and say
Hallelujah!! He loved me today!"

On a completely different note, these weeks have been great and busy. We have played SO many gigs and they have all gone really well. People in the community are really looking at us like we are about to take off. I have no idea what will come of this in the future, but it is pretty fun nonetheless. In an effort not to take up more of your precious reading time, I am going to resort to a bullet list to fill you in on all the things I have done in the past month. I love you all, thanks for reading.

*paul came to Juneau about a month ago--had a great, refreshing weekend with him--went on a great hike
*played a lot of gigs
*dad came to Juneau, went on good hikes, ate great food, went on a boat ride to Tracy Arm, went Halibut fishing with my friend Carl
*played a gig at Chapel By the Lake where people actually sat and listened to us (as apposed to being drunk and crashing into us...)
*4th of July was a party! Stayed at a HUGE house on Douglas island with a bunch of friends, watched the fireworks over the Gastineau Chanel, played three gigs over the course of the weekend and led worship Sunday AM, followed by a great boat ride where we plucked crabs and shrimps out of the sea to eat for dinner and jumped into the ocean to cool down (YES, the Alaskan ocean)
*This weekend had another gig (no way!) went to the end of a cheap wine party and dog-sat for a spastic chocolate lab who has more testosterone than any animal I have ever met. Finished up the weekend with a great game of ultimate with some campus crusade folks.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Haines Brew Fest

Several weeks ago, One Aisle Over traveled up the Gastinaeu Channel to Haines, AK. We played at the Annual Haines Brew Fest, and boy, did we have a good time. We took a long weekend (Friday-Monday), played the Brew Fest on Saturday and took the rest of the weekend to bop around Haines and see some beautiful country. The Ferry ride itself was phenominal (see pictures below) and Haines is a georgeous little town. We stayed at Ron Horn's home (the Presbyterian pastor in Haines) and he was a gracious host.

The Brewfest itself was wonderulf. We were the main band, playing for 750 people who were in attendence. We received some really great feedback and sold several CD's...all in all it was very encouraging. We played a few other times through the weekend: once in front of a great coffee shop with amazing scones (see picture below) and once on the return trip on the Ferry. For both of these little sessions we put out my violin case as an after thought, but ended up making over $100! It was a great little surprise and again, very encouraging.

While staying with Ron Horn, I learned a lot about photography. He is a wonderful wildlife photographer and took me under his wing, teaching me how to use my camera and tempting me with amazing lenses. One morning he, Chris and I got up early to go look for wildlife to photograph. Our first sighting was a beautiful cinnamon colored black bear, and I was so excited to see it I forgot I was the one holding the camera. Oops. Didn't catch that shot, to say the least. But we did see a moose, swan and swallow (see below) :).