girl growing

and a space for her to play in

Thursday, November 30, 2006

seeing red

i've been trying to decide what to get everyone for christmas...
family, friends, and also a way for our church to give.
at HBU this week some orginizations have been trying to get people involved in the AIDS awareness, but it hasn't been working out too well.
most of these kids don't know anyone who actually has AIDS.
neither do i.
i've been thinking a lot about karen, betty, and my friend melissa.
all of them work or volunteer in places that involved people who suffer from AIDS...
and they don't just do it when AIDS awareness week rolls around, or when bono or oprah tell them to.
so i thought i'd find out who was a part of this whole 'red' campaign and this is what sent me to:
i think what they're doing is good...
i'm just wondering why we all have to spend money to do it.
motorola's got a red phone.
american express has a red credit card.
gap's got the red t-shirt.
armani's got a red watch.
converse (who my wallet can actually afford to support) has red shoes.
and apple's got the red i-pod.
none of these things are fact, they're pretty darn cool.
i'm just trying to figure out where we went wrong, if in fact we did.
when did we need to get people to buy things to actually care about AIDS?
i'm sure i'm not the only one feeling this frustration...i wonder if my friends who volunteer at the AIDS hospice care.
i doubt it, they're good people and are probably just happy that something-no matter what it is-has caught people's attention long enough to care.
but is this the first time someone has pleaded with us to help the AIDS epidemic?
but perhaps i'll spend $250 to get that red i-pod...
or maybe some of those red converse (they actually let YOU design the shoe, they just put red insets)...
and then they'll give %15 to help fight AIDS and other worthy causes...
or maybe i'll just give all the money to AIDS instead of buying something.
perhaps no one will get gifts this year...
but instead, perhaps people will live.
dec. world's AIDS day.
i'm not sure what i'll do about christmas and how i feel about society as a whole...
(myself included, there's a lot of conviction in this blog)
in my greek class yesterday we covered the word that means 'hate' especially in the part of scripture where jesus is talking about what used to be said about loving your neighbor and hating your enemy...
we looked up what the word meant...
i ran through the words i expected to be there...
and then the last one caught my breath...
i don't want to be indifferent...but i also don't want to be naive.
there is a big world out there...and a i'm a little girl.
i don't know if that means i should buy red things or not,
but i want to try to help.
whatever that looks like.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

life goes in circles...

i just got back from shopping at lowe's with my dad...
we were picking up a pretty big piece of ply-wood for me to make a paddle with for one of ryan's fraternity brothers (yeah, i know...).
so while we were walking down one of the aisles we tried to pass a rather tall, round gentleman who kindly stepped out of the way for us.
as i passed him, i smiled and said 'thank you'.
i guess i was in a pretty good mood considering i'm coming down with what appears to be the flu...and i've also had pretty great parents who continue to teach me to be polite.
we began to walk away when we heard from behind us...
'you know, it is so nice to hear thank you'...
i spun around to look the man in the face.
he seemed flustered, and kind of embarrassed.
'people just don't say it just don't hear thank you,' he continued.
i smiled sheepishly...and stammered out another 'thank you'.
my dad giggled as we turned around...
i didn't know what else to say.
the man was from way out here in the country (tomball,'s really not that country)...
he had his gym shorts pulled way up with his shirt tucked in over his large tummy...
he had a thick accent and seemed like the kinda guy that only grunts in conversation...
and yet he was kind.
he was thankful.
he made my day.


i have my own red phone now.
karen, one of my favorite people, stumbled across a bright red phone and she thought of me.
if you remember...i posted a little while ago after visiting NASA and seeing their bright red phone.
i wanted my own...
in fact, this is what i said,
'as i listened on the tour and heard about the 'red phone' that's shown above... i began to wonder where i could get one.
i've been in a couple places lately that i think i'd like to have the choice to dial out...get a little advice...or pass things on to someone holding a much higher rank.
yes, i'd like one red phone please.'
and now i have one.
ken entered us into a conversation on sunday about thankfulness, appreciation, and gratitude.
he asked some pretty challenging questions.
for me, it's not usually that hard to say thanks to people.
i think that, as i mentioned on sunday, that sometimes it's hard for me to see the sacrifice that others have made for me.
i it because of my own immaturity and lack of sight, or is it others unwillingness to be open with me and let me see their sacrifice?
it was hard for me to take the red phone because it's a gift.
someone was thinking about me...and sometimes i wonder why i should be so special.
it's also hard because i have finally been offered the reality i wanted: a way to call for help.
ryan and i have been having some hard conversations lately about help and why it's so hard to allow others in.
there are some that have made themselves readily available...
and yet i lie, and tell them that i'll call them if i need them.
like lita said on sunday, 'i would rather drown in the ocean than have someone save me.'
i'm also left wondering why it is so hard to accept others thankfulness.
i feel sheepish and silly for a good deed done.
i'd rather just do it and run away...and never have them say thanks.
i'm thinking that perhaps by them saying thank you, i'm admitting some vulnerability.
me accepting their thankfulness says that i needed to be thanked, or even more...wanted to be thanked.
and maybe it's just that when we truly admit thankfulness or accept it...we're becoming intimate.
we're having feelings, and who likes feelings?
it's hard to soak it in and be content just knowing that we are worthy to be treated and to be thanked.
i'm so thankful for karen and her red phone,
and yet part of me wants to leave it in a dark corner in my room and pretend it's not there.
it's presence is reminding me that i need to reach out to others...especially those who can really help me.
there are people in my life that are going through some hard things right now...and i'd hate to bother them with my own life's junk (which in comparison seems almost silly).
ryan is constantly reminding me that those people care about me...and want to help me.
but i don't want to admit help.
i don't want to show the chink in my armor.
i don't want to become vulnerable.
i don't want to become intimate.
i don't want to say thanks.
i don't want to be disappointed when others act as normal humans and fail...and feel...
i'm a control freak.
i'd like to believe that i can figure all this out on my own,
but yet i readily admit with my mouth that i can't.
do i believe that i want help, or need it?
i'm not sure.
i'm thinking not...seeing as how that red phone is so intimidating.
so it's hard...
this is hard, hard.
but i've heard it can be better.
there are people i want to say 'thanks' to...and so hopefully i'll spend some time this week doing that.
there are people that i should probably let know i've made a sacrifice for...
maybe i haven't been honest about the effort and work i've spent for them...
maybe i really wanted to be thanked too.
there are also people i need to call...
and tell them i need their help,
even if all that means is to listen.
perhaps i should pull that red phone out of that dark corner too...
it would have made a nice picture for this blog.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


as life gets longer,
awful feels softer,
and it feels pretty soft to me.
and if it takes shit to make bliss,
well i feel pretty blissfully.
if life's not beautiful without the pain,
well i'd just rather never ever even see beauty again.
well as life gets longer,
awful feels softer.
and it feels pretty soft to me.
-the view
modest mouse

bowing out gracefully...

i've been disappointed in some of the adults in my life recently.
i guess i keep thinking that they're supposed to have it all figured out...
as if one day it all simply clicks, and we grow up.
i suppose we never do.
we try our best...but in the end...we're all just trying.
hoping to respond maturely...
i want to give them grace to continue to grow...
i know i'm not ready to be held accountable to any standard of age yet,
and i'm not really quite sure when i will be...
if ever.
regardless, i got hurt by them.
i've watched them and tried to learn from them and a couple of them have tripped up.
made mistakes...and i was one of the casualties.
i, like some of the others that have been hurt, are trying to walk away.
we don't want to fight...or argue...or throw rocks.
we just want to pick ourselves up and continue on.
well, some of us don't want to fight...i certainly do.
i want justice, and revenge, and for them to feel the same pain and loss that i do.
i want to defend.
i don't want to show grace or all.
ken and i are both starting a new chapter in our lives.
we're both on a journey for new jobs...
i'm learning that sometimes life isn't fair.
sometimes people lie, and are dishonest, and manipulative.
it's simply their way or the high way...
state highway 2920 to be exact.
and so we're waiting...
waiting on God to show us that he didn't forget us or mess up,
but simply has something else in store.
i want to believe that.
ken seems to believe that...and he's having to deal with much more than pride issues.
ones like money, and security, and livelihood.
and so i'm watching him...
i chose him as my mentor and even now i'm learning.
i'm watching him be graceful.
i'm watching and learning and hoping i can be like him.
what he does in his life and in ministry (which i've found to be indivisible) are beautiful.
i watch him balance, create, lead, facilitate, listen, and grow.
and so even now...when he could understandably be angry and seek to hurt those that have recently hurt us, he is showing me the kind of adult i want to be.
now, he doesn't have it all put together...and at times i've felt the pain of a ken mess-up (as i'm sure he has mine)...but regardless, i'm seeing someone try.
which i think is more than i can say for a lot of adults.
and maybe karen is right, maybe they can learn from us kids that don't know any better.
and i'm discovering that despite being a white, middle-class, american, 22 year old female...
the world does not revolve around me,
and i don't know everything.
i want to learn and try just like him...and others.
he's taking his bow...
but not exiting the stage.
we're simply beginning a new song...
and i'm proud to watch and call him friend.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


yesterday was one of the windiest days that houston has seen in quite awhile.
we usually don't catch wind...just heat and humidity.
i found myself on campus caught in the middle of all that wind.
lucky i have my short flipped and whipped around and i didn't care a bit.
the sunny and cloudless skies were deceiving though...
they made me believe that it was fine to go out and play.
the wind stung my face if i stayed out too long...
and the 'breeze' chilled me to the core.
i would see friends only a few yards away and when i tried to speak to them, the wind would wisk the words right out of my mouth right as they left my lips.
at one point i walked around the corner of a building and was nearly knocked over by a strong gust of wind.
i found myself scrambling to hold onto something...
something sturdy...
something secure...
something tangible.
but that's not the wind.
it's unseen.
it's mysterious.
it's hard to watch it come and go,
and it can be painful.
it'll knock the breath right out of you.
the wind was frustrating.
i walked out of my house that morning thinking i was walking into a beautiful day...
instead, i found myself doubting my steps.
doubting each corner turned.
i was amazed at its magnificent force...
the trees would bend to it,
people leaned into it or braced themselves for it,
and it never stayed constant.
i'm feeling similar lately.
too much to type tonight and right now, words have to be chosen wisely.
i'm hurt.
i'm worried.
i'm frustrated and angry.
i'm relieved.
i'm liberated.
i'm wondering what is next.
several big changes in my life occurred this week...
and i don't know what it all means yet.
what i do know, is that i've had the breath knocked out of me...
and instead of picking myself up and trying to fight the invisible wind...
i'm going to try to be graceful.
i may have bruises and scratches,
but at least i'm feeling.
i'm alive.
perhaps tomorrow will be prettier.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Germans and Gender

attached is a video of my friends from way back in the spring when some of my own church community went and met with some other church communities in europe.
looking back now, i wish so badly that i had gone.
i finally got to meet a lot of them in these past two weeks, and now...looking at this video...i miss them terribly.
there are a few new faces in addition to the ones on the train...
the rest of the germans...
andrew jones' wife debbie...
brad from cali...
and mark berry from england.
the last of them, mark, left tonight and i'm kind of feeling...empty.
i only got to spend a fraction of the time with all of these people since i'm still in school and finals are next week, but what i did get to spend was so fulfilling.
there were moments where language, cultural background, unmet expectations, and exhaustion all got in the way of good dialogue, but despite that...i now have more friends.
i hope the value me as much regardless of all this as well.
i think i was most touched my mark's parting words...
he affirmed us.
his words felt like a massage.
to a community that's been knocked around a bit lately...we needed to hear his words.
he was willing to come and see...see what we really are.
he was willing to take a risk by coming to check out this small, seemingly insignificant group of folks in tomball, texas.
(yes, i find that to be a huge risk)
we haven't felt special lately. not that feeling special is necessary, but at feels nice.
because when you type in 'wellspring' you don't find us right away.
we're one of many that hold that name.
when you type in my find this blog, but nothing more.
when you type in ken's name you find that controversial article that started all this,
but on the most part...we are unknown, and i have a feeling that there are more of us out there.
not needing to feel validated, but desiring it so much sometimes.
i wish i knew where they were, and what they were about.
not in the 'hi, how are're just like me' way that the germans dislike (and perhaps rightfully so) about us americans.
i really want to know. i want to massage some life back into their aching bones.
i want to heal the ribs...that perhaps like ours...have been breaking under the blows.
feeling misunderstood is hard...and i think it's easy to grow if no one around can ever really understand what it's like to be me, or us.
i don't want to become so hurt, and so isolated that when people like mark try to affirm me...i shy away, not wanting to believe the kind words.
i want to soak it in, and believe it, and trust it.

this week has been a good week.
personally, it has been a roller coaster...but good nonetheless.
i feel inspired.
wheels have been put into motion for whatever it is we wanted to birth in all this.
i'm still not sure what to call it, or what will come of it, but people i trust have made commitments to see it through...
i'm thrilled about it.
and so, just as i watch this video from what seems forever ago...
i am excited about new memories.
about new friends.
about new connections and possible growth.
about feeling validated and acknowledged.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

safe space

and my brand new family ventured off into space...

NASA to be exact.

now, i've been to NASA about 5 times-mostly through the YMCA teen program i worked with, and so i kept wondering to myself why i should skip my greek class (right before finals), buuut karen campbell has a way of helping me put things into perspective.
...when in the world would i get the chance to hang out with these germans, brits, australians, californians, clear lakers...
so we went.
at breakfast, i got to sit with some of the neatest people at NASA.
'the astronaut of astronauts' was with us...and it was not only educational, but exciting to hear that most of the visitors from NASA were interested in the emergent church.
my dear, new friend mark led us through an amazing meditation before we headed out into the abyss...and it got me thinking...
perhaps this really is uncharted territory we're crossing into.
perhaps this new church thing IS as risky as they're telling me.
perhaps someone was brilliant in taking us to NASA, because honestly i couldn't see how in the world it was going to connect any of the dots for me.
but it did...immensely.
as listened on the tour and heard about the 'red phone' that's shown above... i began to wonder where i could get one. i've been in a couple places lately that i think i'd like to have the choice to dial out...get a little advice...or pass things on to someone holding a much higher rank.
yes, i'd like one red phone please.
and while i sat watching the short film on the new international space station...
i started to listen...
analogies began to flood me.
so many people, perspectives, languages, tools are all coming together in space.
they're binding themselves, making huge commitments, and learning to speak to each other.
i hope that this new church thing we're doing continues to learn how to speak, to accept, and to try.
i watched the astronauts crawling around on the outside of the space shuttles.
the film showed us just how dangerous it is...and i actually felt my stomach lurch.
i was if i was on a roller coaster or was free-falling from a plane.
i felt queasy.
later, while walking around one of the actual rockets, larry j and i spoke of the significance of feeling small. i told him that i want to go to the grand canyon one day in order to feel small again. being a 22 year old woman in america...i'm almost bred to not feel humble.
i would like to feel small, and as if the world does not revolve around me.
larry mentioned the sequoia trees near him in cali...
and although that kind of serenity would be completely welcome in my life right now...
i cannot seem to get away from places like the grand canyon or space.
i want to feel small in those places.
and why...well, i think it's because of that lurch in my stomach.
it's's something few people have done...
and it makes me nervous.
the sequoias, though beautiful, serene, and magnificent are not a threat.
the thought of falling deep into the grand canyon
or slipping off into space
make me uncomfortable...
and i like it.
"failure IS NOT an option" we kept hearing repeated.
unlike apollo...i think failure is an option for us.
although i'd like to avoid it...there is still a chance.
this...'thing' that's been created this week by my new friends could possibly fail.
ken...or me...or wellspring can and probably will fail at times.
the chance to fail is risky...something no one wants to do...
and it makes me nervous.
and i like that too.
the film today said, 'there are a few things that can be done in space that simply cannot be done on earth...'
i think there are a few things in the 'emergent' church that simply can't, aren't, or won't be done in other places of church.
we are not elite...we don't have it figure out...we want to feel humble and small...
but despite all this, i am excited. i am proud. i am nervous.
i think of my friend mark...and his 'safe space'.
to me, that feels warm and welcoming,
but also a paradox at the moment.
space is not safe...not all the time...especially when you're out there on the edge.
but there is trust...and community...and in the event of failure, unlike the unforgiving nature of the galaxy...we have second chances. those that help us begin again.
my heart wanted to burst with joy while my new friends visited my academic home.
even though i wasn't with them all week...i have felt a deep connection...
a deep communion...
a connecting of kindred spirits...
people who will travel with me into unknown territory,
and perhaps fail with me.
who knows what storms and sunsets come tomorrow...
but this is it. this is the journey. this is home.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


i love this time. i love this place.
that's something that i keep saying to myself, especially tonight.
we dialogued about persecution at wellspring today.
in addition to the normal stations that we have set up, ken added one about the topic.
on one of glass windows that practically covers a whole wall, he covered the panes with thin, white paper and asked us to graffiti them.
on the left half of the panes we wrote words or phrases describing persecution...
things we've heard or experienced.
and then we did the same on the right side surrounding the idea of grace.
it was good...therapeutic.
it felt good to write some of the things i've heard or felt.
i felt vulnerable up there writing.
it's hard to be given the freedom to express yourself, because sometimes we have no idea what to do...we're not sure how to let it out.
after wellspring we all went out to dinner.
i marveled at the atmosphere.
across from me sat mentor and second father.
next to him was dr. favorite professor from HBU.
i was shocked he was there, but at the same time so ecstatic that he was willing to join us.
he wants to be involved and i'm glad the academic side of my life is represented.
ken has said he's the smartest man he knows.
next to me was josh, a boy from vanderbilt who's writing his dissertation on the emergent church.
he thought we were important enough to come check out.
on the other side of ken was mark the englishman.
further town the table were all the germans from kubic church.
julie the australian was there along with all the visitors from california.
trishia taylor...who i've only heard great things about, was there too.
she's apparently one of the best in her field as far as professional counseling goes.
the couple from the baptist student ministry at U of H sat at the table.
karen, my other mentor and the woman that has helped to organize this was her usual bubbly self as was her best friend, roger.
together karen, ken, and dr. furr make up the trinity of my mentorship...
karen, with the heart and support of a fellow woman in ministry...
ken, showing me the tangible work...teaching me with his hands...
dr. furr, teaching me the knowledge to back all this up...
and mixed in...feeling slightly sheepish and embarrassed at all the attention, was the rest of the wellspring family.
pat, with her bright white hair and aged wisdom sat in the midst of all this and seemed puzzled.
we don't think we're that interesting...but i'm sure all of these amazing people don't think they are either.
tomorrow more will show up.
andrew jones' wife will be here...and if you keep up with the emerging know who he is.
doug pagitt will be here too...
all of these people...coming together.
and there are still others that weren't there.
others who, simply based on relationships are made important...
after all, when sitting at the table, no one asked, 'why are you important? why are you so special?'
it was more of...'who do you know, who are you in relationship with?'
we all came because we know someone.
we are made special, and important, and significant because of relationship...
not what we know.
i'm amazed.
i'm overwhelmed almost to the point of tears.
so many people in one place saying..."this is important. whatever it is...whatever it will be...this is important".
and i'm glad too...because i don't have a PhD.
i haven't written any books or started a mega church.
i'm not writing a dissertation.
i'm not nationally known.
i am just a girl that is trying her best to figure all this out.
my family is here.
my soul is singing...
amen. amen. amen.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

just like him...

His father was a drinker
And his mother cried in bed
Folding John Wayne's T-shirts
When the swingset hit his head
The neighbors they adored him
For his humor and his conversation
Look underneath the house there
Find the few living things
Rotting fast in their sleep of the dead
Twenty-seven people, even more
They were boys with their cars, summer jobs
Oh my God

Are you one of them?
He dressed up like a clown for them
With his face paint white and red
And on his best behavior
In a dark room on the bed he kissed them all
He'd kill ten thousand people
With a sleight of his hand
Running far, running fast to the dead
He took of all their clothes for them
He put a cloth on their lips
Quiet hands, quiet kiss
On the mouth

And in my best behavior
I am really just like him
Look beneath the floorboards
For the secrets I have hid
-sufjan stevens john wayne gacy, jr.
if you haven't seen the movie on gacy, you should.
and if you haven't heard of sufjan, you should.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

a place

last night as i sat around in the shuman's living room with our new friends (i'll blog about that later) we played what i'll call 'the question game'.
we went around the room asking some serious and some silly questions...
'if you could change one thing about your life what would it be?'
'if you could be any animal what would it be and why?'
and lastly, 'what is your favorite space...?'
we went around the room and let everyone share.
the other julie and i actually snuck out without really having to tell anyone our favorite place...but i want to.
mine is...the couch.
i know, it sounds funny, but let me explain.
there are several couches i like.
the first one, is my parent's couch.
i came home last night around 10 and they were sitting there together.
what started out as small talk about my day and how ryan and i are doing... turned into a 2 hour conversation about faith, belief, God, prayer, doubt, love, fears, marriage, relationships, and the church.
sometimes we get heated and upset, but it's getting so much better.
i am so glad that i have parents that let me come, and sit, and share.
i'm lucky to have them.
another couch i really like is any couch that ryan's on with me.
i're thinking, 'gross....feelings' but i'm learning lately that feelings are okay.
and i'm being totally serious.
there was a good span of time there that i didn't think i was going to find...someone.
there's a lot that was expected of that 'someone' and i'll just leave it at...he fits.
and there's nothing more wonderful than cuddling.
and the last couch i think of is the one in ken's office.
it's been a year now that i've been with wellspring...that's amazing.
i remember being so timid and shy when i first sat on the couch last october, and now it's almost like...home.
i've napped on it (not while i was on the clock!).
i've cried...hard...on it.
i've shared fears, doubts, regrets, concerns...
i've told secrets about boys, i've giggled uncontrollably, i've been validated...
i've treated it like a therapist's office and stretched out, hoping clarity would come.
it's been good space for me.
when i look at it, i see so many things.
so many things learned, so many things expressed, so much time and i don't know that anything can compare to it.
i like being there.
and i'm so thankful that it's not just a couch in that office...because eventually that couch and that office will disappear. i won't need either of them, but i have a friend and a fellow seeker, and mentor that will have the same memories, and that's really where i like to be.
remembered. appreciated. cared for.
so many many great things.
so many happy places.