and a space for her to play in
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
from the other side
i've had lots of conversations with people lately about why i'm here and where i've come from.
just today i sent an email to a new friend who's about to graduate and seems to be in a similar place that i was then.
i'm also staying with a girl who just moved here from the US and is having a hard time figuring out who she is and where she's going.
to both friends, i mentioned my blog.
it's hard to remember all the details of what has happened and perhaps easier to just read what i wrote.
i checked back to see when i began my process of being 'undone'.
in september of 2006 i wrote a blog titled 'wrestle' and my first line of the entry was
'i cannot find God'.
and back then, i couldn't.
the next two years were the most painful two years of my life thus far.
as i've written, it was two years worth of being undone.
flash forward to july/august of this year...
and as my friend johannes said,
i needed to get up from the bathtub floor.
the bathtub floor was where i found myself much too often over the past two years.
the pain had gotten to be so much that i would lie there, crying in a fetal position, until the pain was gone and i could go on.
it is strange to talk about all of that in past tense now.
things are so different.
my life is so different.
i am so different.
it feels good and i hope that i can share some of what i learned from that.
just the other day i shared the email that ryan wrote me before i left on this trip.
he and i were broken up at the time,
but these were the words he wrote:
'i want you to have the time of your life in europe.
i want you to continue to work hard at unlearning old habits and putting on the new juli and finding out who that is,
and to have fun doing it.
please, have fun for me.
go see beautiful things.
meet beautiful people.
practice loving strangers.
practice being those things that are at the center of who you are.
take pictures (you take great pictures).
have good conversations with people you respect and want to learn from.
listen and share with people that look like they need it.
let people listen to you and share with them every little part of who you are and where you have been and where you want to go.
they will love you for it and you will love them.
and it will give us something to talk about over coffee when you get back.'
i know i have done those things...
when he first wrote that to me i didn't know if i could,
but i did and it has been beautiful.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
i absolutely loved my trip over to ireland
(more specifically belfast).
i took a 2 hour train ride down to dublin,
and although the scenery on the way down was amazing,
dublin looked just like any other big city-
tons of people, shops, etc.
whew. it was wonderful.
i really enjoyed the people i stayed with-
susan & jonny mcewen that i met at greenbelt.
i also got to check out their 'community'...
(i don't know that they would use that word)...ikon.
i really like ikon, though sometimes it's hard to get my head around what pete rollins is saying.
i'll try to do a couple posts later on about what i got from their gathering.
lots of philosophy & theology...two of my favorite things.
belfast is also a place rife with violence, anger, hatred, oppression.
the city isn't that big-reminded me of the town i grew up in, tomball.
but there are so many people crammed into one little space.
literally, if you crossed a street you would go from one allegiance to another.
in the past it was always catholic vs. protestant,
but now it's more like all the northern irish vs. the immigrants.
it is a tumultuous place and since susan and jonny both work for peace in the city and are brushed up on their history so i got plenty of tours and stories.
so, if i had to pick a word for belfast,
it would be
those people that fight and hate,
regardless of where it's coming from,
are loyal to a point i can't understand.
but it's not just them,
the northern irish are a stern, 'we don't do bullshit' kind of people,
but they're also some of the kindest most hospitable i've ever known.
i hope to have them as friends for a long time.
in addition to learning, i had a blast there too.
the mcewens' are friendly people and two of the nights i was there got personal invites from performing musicians letting them know their names were on the list at the door for entrance.
(like i said, it was a blast).
ikon was a great plus though...
and i'm excited to take back some of what i've learned once it's processed.
i think belfast will always have a tender little piece of my heart...
and maybe one day, if i'm lucky, i'll get to go back.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
i got the chance to hang out with my friends the bakers and their group grace church this weekend in london.
they are a really neat bunch and i enjoyed my visit a lot.
when i walked in i was greeted by people in white zip-up suits, gas masks, and wellies.
the theme of the month is 'contamination' and i got to get in on part one of the two month series.
grace did a great job of getting people to interact.
i like that once a month they have an organizing meeting and people volunteer to help with the upcoming service, whatever that looks like in the end.
seems like people there really value the group and want help keep creating 'grace'.
in this gathering we considered different ways that we make ourselves 'clean' or 'acceptable' to God...
different verses were read from the OT to the NT where people were told not to eat certain meats, not to participate in certain behaviors, etc and then jesus came and flipped that on it's head.
at the end of the gathering we all stood in front of a long white sheet and someone read from the NT how only the high priests could enter the holy of holies but that jesus came and split the curtain...
as this was read someone actually came up and pulled apart the two sheets revealing a huge white light blazing on us from behind.
i was stood in the center and was somewhat blinded by the brightness.
i think that moment i got what they wanted me to get...
i felt washed over.
i felt like all my efforts to control and be perfect were unnecessary.
i felt accepted with some new friends.
it was nice...i liked it,
and i hope to visit them again before i head back to the states.
pictured above is a shot of me taken by jonny baker.
i love that he caught that moment for me.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
definition: to come forth into view or notice, as from concealment or obscurity.
now, i don't know about most people these days,
but it seems the whole 'emerging/emergent' movement has gotten more confusing as time goes by.
seven years ago i found myself leaving the episcopal church i had been raised with,
and began to journey with ecclesia church in houston when they had around 40 people and were still in a gym.
5 years after that i found wellspring through a class at HBU,
and no one but the heavens could have orchestrated that meeting.
i was in desperate need of something more and ironically found it in my hometown.
(that is another story for another day)
i remember going back to school the day after my 'worship and music' class had attended wellspring,
and so many students were upset by what they had seen.
'there was no clear pastor/preacher.'
'the communion wasn't given enough attention and wasn't blessed.'
'they played secular music before the service started.'
'they meet in a bar/poker venue!'
the list went on and on.
my professors listened quietly and tried to explain the experience as best they could,
but i found myself in tears.
whatever that was, whatever i had experienced at wellspring was the representation of all that i believed the church should be striving for...
and my fellow students were spitting on it.
this month marks the 3 year anniversary of my commitment to wellspring.
the following year my university began offering a class in the 'emerging church'.
my schedule didn't allow for me to take the class but my boyfriend did.
i found myself in a bitter place.
over the year i had spent a lot of time reading up and studying the emerging movement,
and i took on many of my ultra-conservative baptist schoolmates with gloves off and guns blazing.
it was something worth fighting for.
it was a movement i believed in,
and still do.
i just don't argue anymore.
i don't try to build walls of sound theological groundwork from which to hide behind as i throw biblical spears at my friends.
in fact, i find myself tired.
since finding wellspring i've also joined in with other groups that are living out these new forms of church and some are totally unaware of the 'emerging conversation'.
this 'postmodern/emerging/emergent/community/collective' debate is part of who i am.
i can't let that go,
but at the same time i find myself weary from the fighting.
i do feel as though something new is coming in all this,
(perhaps that's my own addiction to change)
but i do believe that the next generation will do some things differently.
maybe that will be my generation, the early twenty somethings,
or maybe it will be my children.
maybe we will 'birth it or bury it' as my friend karen has said before.
maybe it will just continue to emerge.
or maybe it will descend even further into obscurity.
time will tell.
for those of you who want to read about the current discussion of whether we should lose the word 'emerging', check out some of my friends who have blogged recently.
and the christianity today article from a month ago that reads:
'R.I.P. emerging church: an overused and corrupted term now sleeps with the fishes.'
guess we'll find out if they're right.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
this past week up in orkney the jones family have been dealing with quite a bit of drama.
right now orkney is one of the places where the new HPV vaccination is being given across the UK.
i'm no expert on HPV, but from what i've read it's a sexually transmitted disease...and so that adds a moral dilemma for most people who want to choose abstinence until marriage.
after several conversations, the jones daughters decided to opt out of the vaccination.
the jones' 13 year-old daughter turned in her permission slip signed 'no' but on the day of the vaccine was pulled aside by the doctor who informed her she was the only one that had marked 'no'...
abigail told her that her mother had given her the choice and asked whether there was a chance she could be unable to get pregnant later on.
the doctor told her no and proceeded to go ahead and give her the vaccine.
abigail had not verbally said 'yes' and her permission slip sat in front of them marked 'no'.
abigail also has type-1 diabetes.
when she got home that afternoon the whole family was shocked.
how in the world had the doctor gotten away with it?
abigail has been taught to respect adults, especially doctors due to all of her experience, and was just as confused by what had occurred.
i know in texas that for awhile the vaccine was mandatory,
but it was later overturned.
in some schools it still is mandatory.
it's hard to know what the truth is about HPV...
but i do know that what happened to my friend abigail is not okay.
if you've got a daughter or are considering getting the vaccine,
i recommend you read andrew jones' blog on the family's experience here.
makes me sad.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
we're celebrating christmas today at the jones' house up in orkney.
(yesterday we celebrated christmas eve!)
yeah, i know, we're a couple months early,
but we simply couldn't resist.
winter has arrived up in scotland.
i checked the weather the other night...
it said it felt like 22 degrees outside.
the wind blowing so hard that it was knocking the front door open.
you can also hear the wind flow through the chimneys-
it sounds like rolling thunder.
so, since it pretty much feels like christmas to me,
and i've been downloading christmas music for the past week,
i decided we should celebrate...
and things just kind of escalated from there.
yesterday the jones daughters and i baked sugar cookies.
we spent the day decorating them and ate them as the family watched
'a muppet christmas' together.
today our family chef (andrew) is cooking up a chicken and stuffing,
and we've got my christmas music blaring throughout the house.
i woke up this morning to the sound of running feet and the youngest jones girls going from room to room singing 'jingle bells',
and when i left my room and exclaimed to the youngest jones that
'it's so cold today!' she replied back, very matter-of-factly, as she jump-roped through the hall...
'well of course, it's christmas.'
i don't know what it is about christmas that makes people so happy,
so willing to join in on the fun when the holiday is still 3 months away,
but i like it.
it adds a bit of fun to the cold outside,
gives us something to look forward to,
and an excuse to be silly as a family...
curled up by the fire, eating cookies, and singing carols together.
yes, even in october,
it is the most wonderful time of year.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
'not only does travel give us a new system of reckoning, it also brings to the fore unknown aspects of our own self. our consciousness being broadened and enriched, we shall judge ourselves more correctly.'
-ella maillart; swiss writer
i've spent the past week and a half back up in orkney with the jones' family.
awhile ago i checked the latitudinal line to see where the island lines up with north america, and it lines up with canada.
since it's an island, however, it stays pretty warm considering how cold it could be.
even still...i find myself wearing 3 pairs of socks, a sweater, a fleece coat, gloves, a hat and blankets as often as i can.
oh, and i drink plenty of hot chocolate.
for the past week i've been trying to manage the 5 jones children while their parents are away in the states for some business (and pleasure too-they're on their way back from tahoe right now!)
these kids are great...they pretty much take care of themselves and i simply remind them to brush their teeth, clean their rooms, and wake up for school in the morning.
other than that though, i spend my time reading and trying to stay warm.
the part of orkney that i'm on is called stromness and is more like a small village than a town.
the jones' live on top of the post office and the stone road outside their door is barely wide enough to fit vehicles.
across the street is a bakery where we buy our bread as well as small shops full of expensive local crafts.
it's nice to be right here in the middle of things and it's still safe enough so that we never have to lock the door.
this is also a hard place to live for someone like me who has come from american culture.
they have a small washing machine and have to hang their clothes to dry, which would be fine except that it takes days to dry since it is so cold.
despite renovations, there is no central heating through the house and warmth comes by fire or space heaters.
we have to hand wash all the dishes, which would also be fine except that there are 8 people living in this house and dishes add up quickly.
we also light the stove by match have to guess when the food is done since the stove is so old.
if you want hot water here you've got to use the 'burco boiler' which takes about 30 min to heat up and when you jump out you're freezing cold again.
oh, and i also finish off mice that the cat finds around the house.
i have learned so much about myself in just a week.
i've gotten into the 'jones rhythm' and enjoyed helping run the house.
it's also made me miss home and really reflect and appreciate the luxuries i've lived with.
when i decided to stay until december my mom began packing a few boxes full of my winter clothes (what little of it i have since i'm from texas!),
and so i've been as warm as i can possibly get (thanks momma!)
yesterday i went to pull on a sweater she sent and as i slid it over my head i smelt home.
suddenly i was tearing up and wanted so badly to be back in tomball.
i smelled some of my other clothes and sure enough they smelled like home laundry.
that got me wondering if i've taken on a new smell here.
i wonder if i pick up scents from everywhere i've been,
and how long it will take after i'm home to regain the smell.
debbie and andrew return home this afternoon and i've got no idea where i'll go next.
shannon is back over in the states until mid-november but has offered to let me use her flat while she's away.
i've still got more places to see too-more communities in london, friends in bath, manchester, and of course there's ireland.
today is october 1 and i'm already listening to christmas music.
i love the holidays, the fall, and the cold...
but for right now, i think i need another blanket and another cup of hot chocolate!