Thursday, February 03, 2011

Reluctant Breakfast

From January 23, 2011 -- I am leaving it in present tense because that's how I pounded it out in the restaurant. And I'll just keep adding to finally post it tonight. So there.

Here's a first: Jesus wants to go to breakfast and I don't want to.

He wants to talk and I don't want to hear it.

It's the kind of thin-lipped, brow-scrunched, cheek-chewed morning that casts my memory back to the kicking and screaming I first did when He called me to start this blog. "You must be kidding: Because God said to put it out there ..." is not just a sassy little title I made up. I was mad, struggling with things that were too big for me, annoyed that my boat was rocking, and wanting to keep it bloody quiet, thank you very much. I'd say that I am ticked off all over again just thinking about it, but I think that's today's ticked-offedness roiling, not juice from five years ago.

It's been many, many weeks now that I have recognized an increasing tendency to let the noise and busyness of life be okay with me alongside a decreasing desire to hear deep things. I want to be efficiently surface shallow that I get lots of things done. I am more and more drawn to what my pal Amber calls "the siren call of suburbia". I want peace and quiet and simplicity and to do what I want when I want. In a cute little house.

It's been a stretching, tiring few years, and I think God has given me some sweet respite in there, where he said, "It's okay. Just be quiet and rest." And there were things I couldn't sort in my brain and it felt good to ignore them to some degree and say, "Too hard. Don't need to know. Yours, God, not mine."

And I don't think there's anything theologically wrong with that. In fact, it's probably the way to live with him if I could find the groove to stay in it. But I do think that I have let the brain vacation dally on more than was intended and I have become too content with making me cozy and allowed that in turn to blossom into an impatience to wait on God long enough to hear his voice instead of just the "not so bad" ideas and thoughts that well up from my lump of fatty brain mass.

An increased hunger for him combined with decreased patience on my part and an inability, and, frankly, a lack of desire, to quiet my soul and do the hard surrender that listening requires has left me here ...

desperately feeling the void in my soul and furious as heck that he wants to talk to me about it and maybe call me to things I don't want to hear about.

Mix that in with a current season of sensing consistent, loud condemnation in my heart and soul over just about everything connected with my work and ministry, which I know is not from him but is freaking loud right now, and you have a pretty ugly Sluss cocktail.

Which is why I am pondering locking this blog-thing down to invited readers only if I am supposed to get really honest out here. But then there's this out-loud, slightly shouting tussle I get into with God about why he says he wants me writing and putting all my blah-blah out there anyway. I am not pickin' up what he's puttin' down at the moment, if ya catch my drift.

All that to say, I was completely willing to turn down bacon in order to avoid breakfast with him. But go I did. We'll see what French toast and the Holy Spirit have to say about things in the long run.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Well, Merry Christmas! See ya back in Heaven!

One of the friends that it’s a hoot for me to post about but who is a bit shier than I am (read: has boundaries of appropriateness) has agreed to have a code name based on my post about aqua zumba; she’s the one who forgot her towel once and grabbed a blanket from her car instead.

Now, she’s Blanket Girl. And until she stops being an introvert, I’ll try to use her code name :)

Blanket Girl’s Christmas was different than mine. As we discussed all my goodies and what we were going to do with the P.F. Chang’s gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket and with that Disneyland Premium Annual Pass in my wallet and the iTunes gift card that was already uploaded into my account, she couldn’t contain herself anymore.

“Good grief! You are SO spoiled! Do you know what I opened on Christmas Day?”

“What? A belt? Bike clips? Deodorant? Toothpaste? Don’t act like you didn’t ask for all of those things. I know you did. Can we talk about why you want deodorant for Christmas?”

“You can always use deodorant and toothpaste. You can’t ever have too much. And, no, I didn’t get those things.”

“Then, what?”

“Sympathy cards. A box of them.”

“What the … ?”

She wasn't kidding. Mailed to her from family in another state (mind you, someone PAID to mail these to her), on Christmas Day she pulled from a merry box some angel accoutrement, and then, the capper …


Merry Christmas! Hope you get to use all twelve of these up this year and then we can send you another box with the new designs!

No matter how weird your Christmas was, you probably can’t lay claim to this level of crazy or “Whoops, didn’t read the box” scenario.

I think I’ll keep my homemade quilts, thanks :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Where everybody knows your name …

Think watching Guy Fieri is fun? Me, too. Problem is, watching Triple D or anything else where he's eating or cooking just makes me want to EAT!

Happily, I caved in tonight and went to one of the places a few miles from my house where Guy's been for Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. You're jealous. Trust me. Mom and Dad have been there with me. They even wrote on the wall, it was so nummy. In fact, I texted Mom while I was there tonight to make sure she was jealous since I knew that would make dinner taste better ;) The first time Mom and I ate here, I had split pea soup; when they asked me how it was, I asked if they would mind if I moved in for the winter.

Rick's Press Room is in a fabulous spot I love in Meridian; my two favorite pizza places, my yarn shop, and Rick’s are all within yards of each other. I think of it as my happy block :)

To appreciate the total joy of the rest of my post, and to get hungry, take six minutes and watch this.

And, yes, that celery slaw is mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Just going in the door makes me happy. Julie, Rick’s wife, greets you like she’s known you forever and learns your name and checks on you at all the right moments during dinner. She shared the special for tonight, but my mouth had been anticipating the salmon in potato since an hour before I left the office. Order up!

I smile through my spring salad and then that salmon arrives, cozy in its hash brown crunchiness, perched on a bed of mashed potatoes and julienned zucchini. And, oh, the sauce.


In the midst of this joy, Rick came out to greet me and see how I was doing! So nice! I like people who appreciate my enthusiastic gushing about tasty things :)

Next thing you know, things unabashedly look like this:


And next thing I know, Julie is walking up with this:

and says that Rick wants to buy me dessert. Truly?  Thank you and Yay Yay Yay for Sluss! I told Julie that the chocolate mousse cheesecake and I would be having a private moment at the table …

I was so full after this that I could feel it in my ears. No advice on whether that is good or bad, please. Just let me wallow and enjoy.

We chatted a bit before I left (Julie liked that I was texting my parents to make them jealous – tee hee!). I told her that I don’t need a neighborhood bar; I need a neighborhood restaurant that thinks it’s okay that I am drooly, gushing, over-appreciative food dork.

She thought that was great :)

Come have dinner with me, one and all!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Seventeen Degrees and an Older Face

Did you know I Aqua Zumba now? It’s quite entertaining from whichever side of the water you’re on. If you’re me in the pool, doing Latin dance moves and splashing about like a hopped-up, chubby Loch Ness Monster, you are entertained because you are the youngest person in the pool and, compared to the other ladies, you are lithe and smooth and full of woo-woo-fiesta-chlorine mojo. If you’re poolside, like all the people who wander in to check out whether they would like to join the gym and happen upon the tsunami that is uncoordinated ladies grooving and jiving in the water, I can’t think you would find it anything but “you’ll never believe what I saw” fodder for your friends later.

But there was no class for me tonight. On the way to my car after work, with the full intention of zipping over to the gym, I realized that I forgot to pack a towel this morning. I have a friend who forgot her towel once when she went to do her swim laps; she grabbed a blanket out of the car and used that.

Um, no.

There is no way in Hello Jell-O that I'm going to take a blanket in with me, and no way that I am going to try to use itty-bitty gym towels to dry off. It is 17° outside and my hair already makes icicles after class on the way back to the car even when the rest of me is dry. Home instead tonight!

On an additional entertainment note, I had a new passport photo taken today. My last was in 2001 when I was headed to Italy. I love that passport photo. I'm 40 pounds lighter, I have long BROWN hair, and, well, it's ten years ago. Today’s picture will not be 40 pounds lighter, will not have as much brown in my locks, and will find me pastier and laden with with wrinkles above and below and side to side. Could make one a bit bummed.

Then, of course, it made me giggle. And giggling transitioned to gratitude. My face reflects ten years of living a life I never imagined. It tells the story of leaving a job and students I loved, changing careers a couple of times, moving to a new state, and learning new things. There’s a groove in my forehead that I am sure I can attribute solely to the “focus furrow” that appeared as I learned to knit and purl last year.

My face in 2011 tells the story of new friendships, deepening old ones, and people to love and miss from places like Russia, Jordan, Lebanon, Kenya, Uganda, Romania, and Spain. It experienced an international courtship, a house sale, a house purchase and a refi, a zillion plane flights to California and back, invaluable talks with its mom and dad, and new nephews and a niece forcing it to make ridiculous maneuvers to entertain them.

It walked through the birth of friends’ children and the loss of friends’ children; it spoke at a funeral for 17-month-old. It said goodbye to a beloved grandfather and witnessed its niece arriving into the world, live and in person. It uttered encouraging words and it uttered hurtful words it wanted to suck back in moments later.

Most gratefully, this face learned, and is learning, to look to its Maker more, to bask in His radiance, and to trust His viewpoint and provision and goodness. And I heard Him whisper tonight on the way home when I glanced in the rearview mirror that my wrinkles make Him giggle, too.

It’s been a good decade, Face. I think I’ll keep ya :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Start small, I guess.

If you haven’t been doing something for a while (oh, like exercising, eating veggies, cleaning your ears, whatever), I guess you should start small.

So here’s a bitty post :)

In fact, it’s a post I started in September, when my mom was still here for our lovely late-summer new habit of a visit for just us girls. When I looked at my blog today and saw this unfinished post from last year, I honestly laughed out loud. I just saw Linda (mentioned below and pictured below from our weekend visit) this past Saturday night for the first time in over two years and one of the first things she asked me was about why was I not blogging / when would I be blogging again. How cute that the last post I was in the midst of references her blog!


Thus, I bring you September 2010:

Well, between adjusting to some new sample contact lenses, ordering my first progressive lenses for a new pair of glasses yesterday, and my mom leaving tomorrow morning, I am a little woozy this morning. Add to that a special morning work perplexity (the kind that's not easily solved and has a critically close deadline ... I don't love those), and my next thought is, "It's only Tuesday?"

My pal Linda has been posting like the maniac for Jesus she is (hope she likes that description; it's a compliment!) and there is something in each share that I appreciate. This morning it was a post from her past weekend. I love how she describes a conversation a friend of hers, who is recovering from a stroke, had with Jesus about what she no longer has as she continues life in what feels like incomplete healing: "I don't have that anymore." God made her laugh and reminded her that there aren't any “its” she needs; she has Him. He is more than enough.


Back to January 2011:

I think I started writing that post because there are a bunch of things I don’t have anymore, either. I certainly don’t feel like I have the smarts I once did, and my command over words, my one super power, is dribbling away like a melty ice cream cone. I sit there frequently with my mouth gaping, waiting for the right word to pop in so it can leap out to keep my story or my point moving. Mostly, drool just shows up instead.

Oh, and I apparently no longer have control over my facial muscles in my sleep. That drool thing began to kick into high gear on my pillow this year. Ewww! I have learned to scooch to the dry spot and faint away into sleep again.

But there are lots of things I DO have. The love of a faithful God to a frequently faithless girl. Friendships that keep getting better and better. Family that still laughs with me and at me (I need both kinds of chuckles!).

Grace to remember what I have and grace to celebrate what I don’t, please, Jesus! Amen!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

48 Hours Out

Two days later, of course, the perspective is better. Maybe it helps that I messed with knitting much of the weekend. The string and sticks excitement even motivated me to do enough math to figure out a pattern of my own doing (kind of) for a stoll/shawl thing for the end of my Mom and Dad's bed to compliment the gorgeous quilt Joanna made for them last Christmas. Now I gotta see if I can get THIS done by the next Christmas ;)

Thanks for the kind and encouraging comments. It never ceases to amaze me that even when we know better or know "the facts", it's a tremendous blessing when people speak truth over us. Thank you.

Big breath for a new week. New mercies and "burning grace like rocket fuel". Every moment. Can't walk it without you, Lord. Not just, "I don't want to." I mean it: "I can't." Please be present in every breath.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Not Today

I just don't have it in me today.

Today, nothing fits me. Nothing that is being asked of me, of how I live and work, hangs comfortably on me. Today, it's all too big, too hard.

Today, I don't even know what could be asked of me that would feel like a fit. I can't remember what I am good at anymore. What might God have designed me for? I had answers a few years ago; not so much, now. I like being a cheerleader, rah-rah optimist, who makes people laugh and feel better. I like being nice to people (though I fully realize I do not always succeed in the attempts--sometimes I don't even attempt). What kind of productive career with an impact for God's Kingdom do you live out with those two desires?

Today, I don't have a clue.

Today, I am the "my every failure leads to another example of my failure" girl. Just a few days ago I was bragging (in that nice, "look what God has changed in me" kind of way) that I don't really live in the world of Kathie butt-kicking that I used to. Used to be, when I would catch myself in a mistake or a moment where I realized I could have been more Christ-like, I would spend far more time berating myself about my poor behavior than confessing and being renewed at the feet of my Savior.

Today feels like failure. It feels like years of failure with some of the same struggles, the same lack of growth, the same fears, the same selfish "why can't things just be the way I want?"

In a work discussion yesterday about potential changes and reprioritizing, a very caring person asked me if the new ideas and plans (compared to a different plan we once envisioned, neither one materially or inherently better than the other) made me feel like a failure at all ... in light of the changes and shifts, he was worried about me. The intent of the question was, without doubt, to make sure that I knew I was not viewed by anyone as a failure. I answered confidently, glibly, "No! I am grateful for this. Everything that has transpired has been in the kindness and wisdom of my Father."

Today, the answer's different. Though I know it's not true, my tired spirit cries out, "Sorry! I know I blew it!"

Today, I am sick of being shaped, reworked, molded, built up, refined. I want to be a lump of clay that's left alone in whatever color, shape, sheen, I already am. Something raw in me says, "ENOUGH already! NO MORE change! THANK YOU!" I want to be selfish, to curl up in the safety of Him and not be available to the world.

Today, I don't want to be used of Him, to be a valuable tool, to make a difference.

Today, I am not loving "learning to be imperfect" as my blog description so cheerily states. I want perfection, or something much closer to it. I am worn out with embracing the tripping, stumbling me. I want to be a girl that looks like she knows at least a speck of what she's doing.

Today, there is not enough of me to go around.

The great thing about being a girl and being 40 is that this may all well change tomorrow.

But today, this is the story. Good thing His mercies are new every morning. They'll be back.