Monday, January 24, 2011

A Thousand Colorful Balloons

Two friends and I had been talking for hours. Trivial things, mostly. Laughter split the conversation often as we thoroughly enjoyed each other's humor. I'm not sure when the tide changed, but instead of bouncing into tidal pools, it drew away from the shore. Out to the quiet deeps.

Out poured stories long tucked away. All of us consider each other to be stable, vibrant women, but as we talked, we discovered that we all had something else in common. Teen depression.

Our triggering circumstances were all different, but we all had been there. I thank God we all lived to tell about it.

Her beautiful eyes lowered at she told us that the only reason she didn't collide head-on with a semi was the fact she had a passenger.

She showed us the scars on her lovely arms and legs. Scars, now almost gone, where she had sliced her skin to ribbons when her heart couldn't take the pain.

And I relived how I'd lie in bed and the darkness seemed to take form and mock me and I'd remember the rope I had seen coiled on the shed beam.

Those were dark, lonely years. And all three of us were alone in our confusion, pain, and fear.

We are better now. To say "I thank God" is so cliche, but only a thousand colorful balloons released to the sky could better articulate my gratefulness. I love being alive. I can't comprehend not being alive and present in today. Now, instead of the future seeming long and bleak, it suddenly looks too short to do and experience everything I hope. And I can't imagine my life without my friends. It's a thought too horrible to entertain.

I share our stories because I believe there is power and healing in the telling. I hope that someone will say "Me, too!" and know they are not alone or somehow tainted.

I also share our stories because our experiences are far too common. One in six teens self-harms. About 60% of teens have thought about putting an end to life. Odds are, you know a few of them. They might appear self-confident and happy, but be there for them. You don't know whose life you might be saving.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Questions about Love

Mary, when you'd held your Son,
Nourished Him with your love,
And, awestruck, watched His growth,

How could you love so fiercely
And give Him freely?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Behold, it was very good.

"This is a sad moment," I said to my co-worker, forlornly holding up my apple core, gnawed to the seeds. "This was a good apple. Now it's gone."

He's the type of co-worker who understands why getting all sentimental over an apple's demise is funny. Or maybe he's just polite. Either way, he laughed.

I do think I was partly serious, though. It WAS a good apple, and I would have happily continued biting, chewing, and swallowing for an hour... had the apple permitted.

This giveaway was great fun. I checked my blog far more often than necessary in happy expectation of more comments. Thank you all for participating! Reading your comments was rather like opening gifts, and I smiled a lot.

Yup, this giveaway was fun. Now it's over. And I really underestimated how hard it would be to only give ONE book away instead of one book to EVERYONE who entered.

I managed to master my sentimentality long enough to push the fateful "generate" button, and this is what it said:

And then the confetti flew.
Metaphorically speaking.

Comment #6 was written by Rebekah Miller. Congratulations, Rebekah! I'm all excited for you because you're a fellow artist and I know you'll love the layout and art of the book just as much as the words. Miraculously, I have your email address... I'm sending you a message to ensure you have mine and can email your mailing address to me. I'll send your delicious book as soon as I know where to send it. 

Thanks again, everyone! I have the best friends and readers, and no one can convince me otherwise.

Meanwhile, my yearning for an everlasting apple ebbs in the presence of robust, steaming coffee.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Why I blog... and a Giveaway

I started this blog for two purposes:

1) Writing helps me process things. Having a blog gives me a think space where people can give me feedback on what I'm thinking. That keeps me thinking. Hopefully, my humble cogitations benefit my readers in some way as well.

2) Mine is the privilege of knowing many people. I like giving them occasional snapshots of what and how I am doing.

Usually, my posts are free-writes, the results of recent ponderings pounded out in one sitting with little (or no) editing. I never imagined... and still can hardly believe... that so many people would be interested in the thinkings and adventures of me.

But, as someone once said, numbers don't lie. In 2010, my blog received 16,314 visits, more than doubling the amount of visits it received per month from January to December. I know a lot of people, but there is no way I know all of you. So, both to thank you for reading and to find out a little about you, I have an idea.

Let's have a giveaway.

Some blog giveaways are for the purpose of gaining more readers, so the authors make rules about posting links to facebook and stuff before you enter. But my only intentions are already listed above, so there is only one requirement: Leave a comment if you want to be entered. Say something about yourself if you want to get acquainted a little. If you want to remain all incognito and stuff, just say something like "I want a shot at winning the book." Or something like that.


Yes, I said "book".

This one, to be precise:

Drops like Stars, by Rob Bell. I love my copy far too much to give it up, but I found a few copies for a wonderful price at Ollies. I hurriedly snatched up all the ones I could afford and clutched them to my heart. No, I'm not exaggerating. This book speaks to me so much that I just had to get one for a few of my friends. In fact, a few are enroute to some pretty amazing people as I write. If you don't get one, it's not because I don't love you... it's because, even though they were marked down, they still weren't dirt cheap and I just paid rent on my house and all that. You know what I mean. I hate money.

But back to the giveaway.

Here's what I said about the book when I was given mine:

Visually, artistically, the book is a treat. It gives wings to the soul-words it contains like notes to lyrics.

There's really no way to give you a synopsis of "Drops Like Stars", but these segments give you a little peak:

"Jesus doesn't give the story [of the prodigal son] the proper Hollywood ending

we've all come to expect...

...Some elder brothers never join the party.

Some fathers never throw one.

Some brothers never come back.

Some things never get resolved.

Lots of parties are missing somebody.

And when we try to resolve things 
too quickly or pretend that everyone
is there when they aren't or offer hollow,
superficial explanations... it's not honest
and it's not right and it's not real.
It's not how life is.


If we went to the ballet and
everybody in the audience was 
wearing snorkels or the musicians
were all red-haired banjo players
with no teeth or instead of being
handed a program we were handed 
a squirrel, we would immediately 
begin asking,

What is this?

But our real question would be,
Where is this? Where do we
put this? How do we place it?
Because our standard reference
points - the usual insulators -
wouldn't be there to guide us.

That's what happens when we suffer. We had things well planned out.
We knew what meant what. We had all our boxes properly organized
and labeled. But all that was disrupted when we began to suffer.

So there's "out of the box", which is often merely a variation of the same thing.
And then there are those who think and feel and live and create from a different place.
They've had their boxes smashed and their insulators dismantled until

they had no other option

but to imagine a totally new tomorrow."

That's just an introduction to a fascinating compilation of honesty, humor, photography, and quotes line this one by Abraham Joshua Heschel:

"Above all, remember that the meaning of life is to live it as if it were a work of art.
           You're not a machine.
When you're young, start working on this great work of art called your own existence."

So thank you for reading my blog. Do you want a shot at winning Drops like Stars? Just comment on this post, telling me so.

The giveaway will be open for a week. Next Friday, I'll enter the comment numbers into a random number generator, and post the winner. Be sure to check back next Friday!

peace & love to all,

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Discovering a dragon

Snow zoomed at the windshield, like sprays of a silent firework in the headlights. The car heater blasted away gallantly. Nothing stood between me, the white roads, and an hour of quiet. Quiet, except for an audio book.

I thought I had time-warped when I pulled into my driveway, but the clock glared in outrage at the suggestion. I had only a few minutes in which to change for work, but I wanted to keep driving. Because Eragon, a sturdy country boy, was just about to discover that the large gem he had mysteriously found in the feared mountain, The Spine, was not a stone at all...

In this age of Cd's and MP3's, I only have a cassette player in my car. I haven't driven much further than town limits for the past few weeks, and the tapes are due at the library. The unrest of being yanked prematurely from a great story has haunted me until, yesterday, I bought the book.

With characters and style vaguely reminiscent of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Madeleine L'Engle, Christopher Paolini writes a captivating story all his own. It's a coming-of-age tale of the gifting of a power for good that puts Eragon in jeopardy of the Empire's wrath.

I recommend it, and Eragon is still raising a dragon in secrecy. Something tells me I just might need the whole trilogy. Farewell, I think it's almost meal-time for a baby dragon...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Derek Webb on judgment

This quote by Derek Webb encapsulates my ponderings and discomfort of the past year. I hope it challenges and motivates you.

"I felt a lot of people around me drawing lines in the sand, and that year I decided: I don't want to draw lines and have to be on one side or the other, but if someone's going to push me to one or the other side of the line, I'm going to stand on the side of those being judged because that's where I feel Jesus meets people."

-Derek Webb