Through The Mire

Giving Thanks

October 2, 2013
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Somehow my brain is crazy-thought-free today. This isn’t a compliant. It is more if an observation. I can’t remember the last time I felt at peace like this. It is beautiful and the best part: there is no logical explanation for it.

For those who know me well, you understand how crazy tends to be my default mode. I over exaggerate most of the time and I always think about what could possibly go wrong when something awesome is either happening or about to happen. Today, I’m resting in the fact that I have a job, a nice place to live and friends, family and a God who loves me more than I can fathom or deserve. To all of you who have been long suffering with me in my madness, thank you. Thank you. Thank you! That is all I have to offer today, an overwhelming sense of gratitude.


Posted in Everyday Life


August 23, 2013
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Are you really not done with me? Lately I am finding it harder and harder to believe. I can’t really point out why, but I am growing discontent and even yesterday I found myself on the edge of bitterness and rage. Have I been fooling myself all these years, believing that you exist? Was it just easier to go through the religious motions than face that reality?
I have begun a study on joy. Not happiness, its fleeting half-sibling but real, lasting, tangible joy. I am weary of my “good feeling” and peace being circumstantial. I can honestly say is is more rapidly killing me slowly. In praying through this, that one word, ‘Joy’ kept coming up. Really, that is the last thing anyone wants to be slapped in the face with when they are angry, but there it was, persistent, aggressive. So, I find myself changing course in my usual Bible reading plan and embarking on a journey to try and figure out what exactly this means.
Of coarse, many theologians and Biblical scholars have no doubt approached this subject and written their own theories. It isn’t that I don’t care about their opinions (maybe my slightly jaded self doesn’t just a little) but I really need to study this for myself. I will later seek out references and brothers and sisters to hopefully confirm (or correct me) as this thing progresses.
For whatever reason, God has me on the edge of completely loosing my mind. I mean this in all honesty and sincerity. And I find myself, not for the first time, wondering what this shit is all about. Some of my non-believing friends think that I take this Christianity with a glass of Kool-aid, but they would be so very far from the truth.
My life in many ways has been a battle. A battle for love. A battle for acceptance. A battle of life. A battle to please. A battle to let go of myself and live life knowing the truth: that at the end of every battle in this war of living, Christ has been my champion. Every. Single. Time! Shit, I’d have killed myself at 17 if that wasn’t the case. And that truth also scares me because that depression follows me like a panther just waiting to strike and tear my soul to shreds. It has me cornered right now.
So, call me stubborn, but I refuse to believe that Christ would carry me this far only to send me to the wolves. I refuse! He’s brought me through worse trials and deeper despair and that is what I’m clinging to. I have to own up to my own insanity that is keeping me prisoner right now and be ok with my lack of a solid community. It takes me awhile to make friends and to build relationships (I’ve only been here 18 months after all) but I also need to be honest about where I am with the people I do know. So…here it is kids. A seemingly fundamental part of who I am at its ugliest. Lord, help them…

Walls of My Heart

August 21, 2013
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Perfection, intention
Fine lines continually blurred until out of focus.
Folly I know well, seeing as I continue to climb that pedestal you so graciously toppled without my asking.
Bruised, bleeding, scarred, scared I live as though I believe there is nothing better.
Lies fill my head, a slow-release aneurysm killing me softly
Leaking poison that trickles down into my heart and soul.
“But I was safe up there!” I shout, my voice barely a whisper, my voice quivering, choked with anger and confusion,
Choked with the realization that I have been wrong about that pedestal my whole life…
Scared knowing the wolves could devour me with ease left here exposed, ashamed
Yet not alone, no, never alone
As much as that poison in my head would have me believe.

Like, Woah…

July 29, 2013
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I am seriously in awe right now. Every time I am made aware of a part of our bodies and a new way of seeing bits and pieces of it, I become giddy.
Friday morning I had an MRI (I think I have a blog post somewhere detailing all the craziness of my pituitary malfunctions. I’ll add a link later). It is pretty routine in that doctors like to see what is going on in there every few years. Since it’s been several since my last scan (and this is a new set of docs), I wasn’t surprised at my needing one. Everything went well. I didn’t develop claustrophobia (it’s crazy close in there) and I even wanted to doze off somewhere in the middle of the scans. There is something soothing and melodic about those banging/ticking noises (I do like industrial metal after all) and I found myself playing various NIN songs to the “beats”.
One thing different about this MRI is that I got a disc of the images. The technician told me that it was my copy to keep so I need to be sure and ask for it back after the doctor is done. Sweet! You know I went right home and took a look. I can see myself embarrassing any future children/nieces/nephews/godchildren with it one day.
“This is mommies frontal lobe. Oh! Look how my eyes are all white and sci-fi looking!”
Yeah…they might have nightmares. Or maybe they’ll be as excited as I am?
At any rate, to say I’m fascinated is an understatement. As soon as I figure out how to save some of these images to my computer, I’ll let you know. In the mean time, our bodies are awesome and complex. Don’t take them for granted. I need to be reminded of that often.

Flooding Mind

July 15, 2013

This is a general update of sorts. It’s been a strange couple of weeks in the sense that I have been generally alright. I’ve had a few visitors by friends (new and known) and my sister even came to visit and explore this vast city I live in. Even as I start to write this blog I have no idea where I’m going or what it will even be about. There has been quite a bit on my mind lately but I’ve been letting it kind of fester and eat away at the edges of my sanity. I should probably stop that. At any rate, I wanted to share this with you at the very least.


I want to tell you of an experience at work I had several weeks ago. It was my first experience with a resident passing during my shift. It wasn’t totally unexpected, but she was fine when I first came in, then an hour-and-a-half later, she was gone.
Many things ran through my head as I struggled to push on with what I knew had to be done before the family came for their final farewells. I was reminded of some of the research I did during my brief semester at Moody on the burial customs of the Ancient Near East (ANE). Most would tend to and prepare their loved ones for burial as a family. They would mourn for extended periods of time and even some would bury their loved ones in special hollows under their homes. In our Western culture, we send them off to be beautified, trying to re-create the person we once knew in vain. We disguise our feelings of grief and devastation in the name of being strong, having too much to do to really be bothered with emotions. We have removed what could be a crucial key in our healing and processing the loss of a loved one-preparing them for burial.
In a way, I had a hand in the process of her final resting, wherever that may be. Part of my job is to clean and prepare the body for when the family comes to see them a final time before making funeral arrangements. It is something they cover pretty extensively in theory, but there is no clinical that could prepare you mentally and emotionally.
I wasn’t frightened, I wasn’t grossed out. I was heavy, reminded just how out of control we are when it comes to our deaths. I thought, Someone washed my great grandma when she passed away. I was reminded how even if we only know someone for a brief time, they affect us, they touch our souls. It is probably the most humbling thing I have ever done and while this isn’t my first experience with death, that doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, I hope it never does. I don’t want to become cold and calloused in the face of the dead and dying. I admit, I could feel a part of my brain shutting down, slowing. I tried to carry out my duties with as much grace and dignity for my resident as possible. I began to sing “It Is Well” without realizing it at first. It seemed like a logical thing to do, sing to her. Eventually, through my nurse coming in every few moments to make sure I was doing ok, I finished a verse and chorus. As I finished, one of her roommates came down the hall & asked if she could say goodbye. I said yes, and that I would go with her. She prayed a Hail Mary and I joined her during the Lord’s Prayer. The whole time I wanted to cry, but was afraid that if I did, I wouldn’t be able to stop. Even that night after I got home, I wasn’t able to. I just fell into bed, completely exhausted, breathing, decompressing, asking The Lord to cover her family, and for a bit of rest, and if he wills, prepare me for another day in the morning.

The Great Unraveling

June 3, 2013
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It is the time of year when the invisible lines between spring and summer begin to blur. Just as the sun begins its tyrannical reign across the vast landscape of concrete and brick, the buds of the mercifully scattered trees dotting this densely populated city give way to beautiful leaves, giving brief refuge from the fiery glare of summer’s monarch. The leaves and branches bow and dance in the still cool gusts of wind, chilling the sweat on your skin as you scurry under the young foliage, thankful for even a few seconds of peace.

It is in this time and place I find myself still amazed that I am even here. There isn’t much I like about this city, I have to confess, but I haven’t been able to help my falling in love with it. Brick by brick, person by person, every cup of coffee consumed, this city has been good to me. Hard times have been had to be sure, but since I am employed, housed, clothed, and fed I really should have no grievances. Except maybe the weather. I hate the summers here as I have hated all other 26 summers spent in the Midwestern part of America. Sure, I have fond memories of sandcastle building and endless days swimming or floating along the dozens of lakes surrounding my childhood home but one is not meant to live in their bathing suit. After awhile, you miss that hoodie you scraped together half of your babysitting money to purchase only a few months before and you’d rather like to get a few more wears out of it before the next growth spurt hits.

I find myself torn between so many places lately. I definitely feel that my chapter in Seattle has ended. Though I miss the people there (and the weather, and the mountains, and…most everything), I have felt some peace about being here in the Windy City as of late. However I still have this restless feeling that only the Midwest knows how to inflict me with. I’m serious! When I lived in Seattle I was perfectly content to dwell and be in the city for extended periods of time. Sure, I’d drive out and hike once every couple of months, because it was fun (and I’m always fascinated by the bizarre types of vegetation you find in the shadows of the forest floor). Chicago however, like the more northern region of the Midwest I grew up in, gives me this strange sense of being trapped. As if I’m boxed in somehow and if I could just get into my car (well…a car nowadays since I don’t own one outright) and drive somewhere, anywhere, I’d be alright. I’d be able to breathe. It would confirm that yes I am indeed crazy and there is no way that this place is trying to suffocate or imprison me.

I watched the movie The Great Gatsby recently (and I re-read the book a couple of weeks ago) and I can relate to Mr. James Gatz from North Dakota in a way. I’ve always had these strange ideas that I’d move away from my hometown and re-invent myself somehow leaving behind all the pain and angst of my childhood. As Gatsby couldn’t really change who he was, neither could I (even my attitude is out of my control most days).

Unlike Gatsby I do not have a hopeless optimism. I’m more like Mr. Caraway in that respect, always wondering about when the next awkward moment will come. Seeing the beautiful decay all around me but not quite able to nail down what it is that makes me uneasy about it. Trying to find some way to fit into the mess of other peoples lives without completely going overboard and abandon all of my faculties completely. (Also unlike Gatsby I’m not bootlegging or throwing large parties to impress a girl (or boy) for that matter that I barely know but am helplessly infatuated with. But…never mind about that).

Seriously though, I can never seem to settle into the joy of the moment. I am determined to root myself someplace and yet…am scared completely by it. I float from one experience to the next hoping that this…this has to be it. And then, I wake up the next day just as heavy hearted, just as sad as I was before. I find myself in a seriously frustrating place these days. I know that this darkness, this unrest is largely a chemical imbalance in my head. That because of certain medical issues my hormones get crazy out of wack and they are again reaching a peak due to my not being able to have kept up with my medication for reasons that are long, technical and irrelevant.

It has reached a peak that I haven’t experienced since high school. My moods are like the winds blowing through this concrete jungle: intense and nearly knock me over sometimes. Other times they catch me off guard while walking around a corner. I am utterly out of control and I’m a bit scared because I know where these gusts can take me, and I don’t like it one bit. I know, deep down, that God is in control of this situation, as He is with every single situation of my life but I’m still frightened. I don’t want to go back to those dark corridors in my mind and soul. I don’t want to hit that wall again and again waiting for the glass to shatter and end my misery. I don’t want a permanent solution to a problem I know can be helped by God’s common grace.

I just want to go to bed and wake up when it’s over…

When News Shook The World

March 10, 2013
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There is something to be said about all the information available to us in modern times. We can learn about almost anything with the right key words into any search engine and find more than enough to satisfy our curiosities. However, I think there is maybe a bit of a disservice in it. I’m not saying that it is a bad thing to be informed, I am saying that all of this news and information has left us a bit callous in a way.

I get the Sunday paper. It is a fast dying form of media that I try to take time and read every week. I am a tangible person by nature and a bibliophile at heart so the thought of getting my news only online or on television sounds scary to me. It was looking at my paper this afternoon that I had the thought: People used to pick up the paper to see what was going on in the world and the front page used to change peoples’ lives. For example, when news of the Titanic trickled in and hit the front page, I’m sure it rocked people hard (extreme example, I know). As it should have! I’m sure the daily routine was thrown for a loop, their oatmeal less satisfying as loved ones were worried about. Now, we hear of a tsunami, a plane crash, a train wreck and we take a moment to reflect on the tragedy and horror of these situations but eventually we get tired of hearing about it.

Everything is breaking news but it is all just the same old stuff, just another day. It’s on the morning news, the pre-noon news, the news at lunch, the news at dinner, the late night update. It is on Twitter, Facebook, and we grow weary of hearing about it. It becomes almost a stench to us. We start seeing stories about puppies being rescued and how cute this little bunny is because we can’t handle it any more. The world is so effed up and broken and we tire of hearing about it.

Of coarse this place was hit with a tornado. Do you know what is going on over there? Madness. Of coarse people are shooting each other, what else is there to do? And we cover over our humanity with vague assumptions and negative comments to distract from the fact that we are grieved…and it could very easily have been us…the victim or the criminal.

There is a sense where we can’t have an emotional response to EVERYTHING that happens because we’d be a wreck, all of the time. But we are, aren’t we? We are all being held together with a strange glue and not many can put a finger on it. Some of us deal with the stress in negative ways, others throw money at it, hoping someone will figure it out, some of us are in denial. We go to sleep and the cycle begins again.

I don’t have all the answers by any means. I am still learning this balance between being broken over the brokenness while still able to handle every day life. I have a lot more feelings than I let on in every day conversations.  Still, I can’t help but wonder if humanity as a whole hasn’t forgotten just how fragile we really are. How much we need a savior. I include myself in these accusations, make no mistake about that.

Deliberations on Happiness

March 5, 2013
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"Picture of Dorian Gray" by Ivan Albright. Oil on Canvas. On display at the Art Institute, Chicago, IL.

“Picture of Dorian Gray” by Ivan Albright. Oil on Canvas. On display at the Art Institute, Chicago, IL.

A friend of mine posted a vlog posing a question: What is the big deal about happiness? This is actually something I used to think quite a bit about. Shortly after high school I’d run into old acquaintances or former class mates and most would always say: “at least you are happy” when I would tell them all the forms of nothing I was doing with my life after all these years. No, actually I’m not but thanks…I think…

Being an avid over-analyst, I would guiltily pour over my life in those moments after speaking with whoever it was that spoke those words. Since I’m not happy, do I really have grounds for complaint? What is it that I’m looking for anyway? I’m gainfully employed, I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, even a few people outside of my family who seem genuinely interested in my life and what goes on in it.

Yet, that wasn’t enough.

My problem, in large part was that I set too high of an expectation for myself. I had this crazy idea in my head that if everything lined up and this little short story of my life I was writing had even a few meager readers, things would be alright. Better than alright, perfect even. As the years passed I became more and more angry because not only were there pages missing, my entire book had caught fire. Completely engulfed. All the back-up copies on my computer have been eaten by whatever worms or resisters that do such horrid things. I woke up one day and found myself with every right to complain: no job, no idea how I was going to pay rent, no idea how I was going to buy food and it was one of the most beautifully joyful days of my life.

Perhaps I’m not making any sense. What I’m trying to get at I suppose, is that happiness, as I understand it, is fleeting. It’s like that last piece of your favorite cake and you don’t have the ingredients or time to make more. That last spoonful of Chubby Hubby at 1am and all the stores are closed. That brief ray of sunshine on a Seattle winter that only lasts for a few moments before hiding behind another jerk cloud. Sure, there will be more cake, and “it can’t rain all the time”, but those moments in between can seem unbearable (especially if you are fond of sunshine. I’m not, but I hear other people tell me about its splendor). The cake, the ice cream, the sunshine cannot sustain us. We are more complex than those things! We are more than a smiling face. We hurt, we suffer, we are a hot mess every one of us (especially those of us who have become really good at pretending we are not). I think when we can stop trying to BE happy all of the time, we will have the freedom to truly be happy.

I’m not sure if this answered his question, but these are the thoughts that came out of my head.

When Thoughts Collide

February 16, 2013
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This post is a compilation of a few thoughts over the past few weeks. The second offering is a poem.

It floors me sometimes how a brief 15 minute conversation with a stranger can change your perspective.

How one brief encounter can remind you just how fragile your job, home and family are.

How simply and amazingly a large Shamrock Shake can broaden the hopes of a man who has lost everything and more.

Every day is a gift and Chicago has reminded me of this more than ever. I think that is the one thing I appreciate most about cities. They don’t try and hide away their broken and lost though most of its inhabitants would prefer it to be so. Perhaps that is why people flock to the suburbs where the less than perfect are tucked away neatly and kept quiet so those still standing can’t be reminded of their own fragility.

The reality is that we are all one breath away from tragedy. One small event away from falling apart and away, loosing everything we hold dear. Loosing everything we have ever known. Loosing our very selves.

I cannot ignore them. My heart is broken, healed and mending all at the same time. I see these men and women and can’t help but be stirred to pray for them at the very least. To offer what I have, even though it wouldn’t be enough. But for that one, fleeting moment it is. Even for a little while. How can I weep for someone I barely know? How can I go on with a heavy heart while maintaining at least small (albeit feeble) boundaries?

It is the love of Jesus Christ that dwells in my heart. He has mended, is mending that once crumbling, cracked stone wall. He is the reason I go to work day after day and pour my heart, mind, and soul for these largely forgotten men and women young and old. He is the reason I don’t completely cave under the pressure of balancing humility and perfection. He is my perfection.

Glass Icicles

It’s snowing
And blowing
And blowing snow…
I should be cold, but somehow this chaos warms me.
A snow globe of silence whistling around me.

Where am I going?

Every day I am faced with death,
I’d rather not be the one to die.
Lives of men and women whose names I have only just learned,
Lives of the most forgotten and unloved.

I can’t love them, not really.

Love is no small thing, this much you have taught me.
Buried deep in the soil of our souls is a burning seed,
Fighting the very thing it was buried to do,
Fighting the imminent death and consequential life if only it would submit…

Submission is love, in a way.
Oh, and more!
So much more!
Love will never be real, not without your love first,
Your love always,
Your love only…

Grown-Up Christmas Musings

December 25, 2012
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Every year Christmas seems to take a turn for the weird.

Not weird as in I see Alien Santas or see a real prancing reindeer but weird in that it is never the same.

It all began when my parents separated many years back. That first Christmas was awkward to say the least. There was a tension that made me nervous. It was weird to not have my dad there with us (we always celebrated with my mom’s side of the family). From then on, every year I was “home” for Christmas, it was split in two. Two celebrations. Two meals. Two different homes. It was heart breaking and hard not be an adult about it all (I was 22-23 when this all went down).

In 2007 I moved out West to Seattle. With only a temp job, and no vacation time to speak of, it wasn’t possible for me to fly home to be with my family. I think it was hard for them too. My grandma Doris I think had a hard time accepting that Seattle was where I was called to be (I see now looking back) and so it was phone calls from wherever I happened to be. That first year God blessed me with a friend who had a big dinner at her house every Christmas. So, every year I was in Seattle (except 1) I spent Christmas Day at my friend NJ’s house. It was great to have a place to go and the next few years it was a good time/entertaining helping her entertain.

One year I spent Christmas with my Grandma Margaret, Aunt Anita & Dad in LA. That was pretty sweet.

The past two Christmas’ have been extra hard, I think. My Grandma Doris passed away two summers ago and I miss her fiercely. I miss the funny looks she always had for us, the hugs that were so tight I really did think she might break something, and her laugh. I will also miss the amazing lefse and krumkake she would make. So good! The store bought stuff isn’t even palatable, truth be told.

This year is no different. I find myself in a city I don’t really know (and am still trying to develop a love for). My bio family celebrated Christmas the weekend I had to work and the family I acquired in Seattle is too far away. I am thankful for the friends that God has placed in my life who have invited me to spend a few hours with them this Christmas morning before I work.

It was really tempting to be very emo about not being able to spend Christmas Day with friends & family. I hate change and it can be especially hard this time of year when my Lutheran roots run deep as far as my cling-wrap like love for tradition and stability. God really gave me a good smack upside the head:

What is Christmas really about? Right, ME. I sent MY son so that he could save the lost, not so you could eat cookies with your family (though, by all means, enjoy those moments!). Also, what better way to spend Jesus’ birthday than by loving and serving those most forgotten about in your society? What a rare opportunity to be able to love and serve these men and women, to show them who I am, and get PAID to!

It is true, I can’t argue with him. I’ve always wanted a job where I got paid to love and care for people. Well, I have it and it wasn’t until now that I realized it. So, I’m thankful for all the ways that God has blessed me. I pray I do a better job loving and serving these lovely (and unlovable at times) men and women today than I did yesterday.

Merry Christmas everyone! I love each and every one of you! Wishing I could be celebrating with you.

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