Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Caring for your introvert"

I can't help myself when it comes to personality tests and learning the personality types, the quirks and the ins and outs of the people around me.
It's fascinating. It's like candy.

So out of curiosity...what are all y'alls personality types?!
There should be a facebook application for the Myers-Briggs or you can take it here.

But this was the article that got me thinking, it's all about introverts (joy!).
"Caring for your introvert"

"I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush."

Friday, May 22, 2009

In The Eye of the Beholder

I am pulling a Shannon and copying this blog from my personal blog onto the NW blog because I like it and I can. I am also recommending that "pulling a Shannon" be the official term for this action, in honor of her 26th birthday.

Note to Rascal Flatts: I understand that, after reading this story, you'll most likely want to write a song about it. I think it's right up your alley. Feel free.

It's been that kind of day today.

I struggle, sometimes, with the superficiality of my job. It's loads of fun, but in the end I am still expected to close the deal. I've always done well in sales and always felt a little funny about it... I mean, it's not like I'm saving lives. I'm selling dresses. Important dresses, sure, but dresses. I'm working for the man and the empire. I'm not really doing anything all that meaningful.

Today, what I do mattered. Today, I was humbled and smacked upside the head for being short-sighted and cynical. Today was a good day.

You see, we have this dress. It's an old, old dress that's been hanging around the sample sale pile for at least six or seven years. The edges are yellowing and the beadwork looks like it has narrowly survived a natural disaster. The neckline is cut remarkably high, a look that screams 1994 and would make most conservative grandmothers rather happy. There is a giant, cliche, borderline farcical bow that snaps (yes, snaps... biggaudymetal snaps) on just above the badonkadonk. It's not a very pretty picture, this dress in its sorry old plastic bag.

I've been mocking this dress. I've been whining about it, threatening to donate it, and claiming that its presence alone was a threat to our credibility as a retail establishment. I've implied, nay, insisted that it could not possibly serve a purpose on this planet, ever. As you can imagine, I haven't done so subtly. I've been a big jerk to this dress.

Today. Today, the sweetest bride arrives with an army of annoyed looking women who practically vibrate around the store, exchanging unhappy phrases in Japanese. They are skeptical of price, have only so much to spend, have been treated poorly. They are protective of the bride, and they are fierce. Somehow, in the frenzy and the yelling and the buzzing, they emerge with the dress. I cringe, subtly (I do at least that much subtly), and obligingly hang my nemesis in the fitting room.

It isn't until the bride is undressing that I see the scars... the open, new, painfully raw scars that are freckled across her torso and neck. They huddle in with the lumps of small tumors, bruises, and unnatural indentations. The cancer, she says, took her hair... she had beautiful hair. I, for once, have nothing to say.

I know I don't have to tell you how this all went down. You are smarter than me, and you've seen it already. That dress, that ugly, forgotten, embarrassing dress, covered those scars perfectly. It will take work to make it beautiful, but the work will be done, and the beginning is there. She had a thousand dollars to spend, and bought my least favorite dress at $125. It will be rebeaded, restored, refinished, and it will cover her scars. She had been looking for quite some time for a dress that would make her feel safe and beautiful on her wedding day, and that dress will be the one. She has an impossibly wonderful smile.

There was joy, today. They thanked me, and hugged me, and left happy. I sat in the back room for awhile and let myself cry.

We are short-sighted. We look so often at something, someone, and fail to see the potential through the missing pieces, the stains, the broken parts. We forget that God is in the timing. We forget that He takes broken edges and fits them together like puzzle pieces, creates something beautiful from something tattered, harbors a perfect plan for what we have rejected. Often it is the smallest of things that remind us. I am reminded today.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Imago Dei

A friend of mine from college is now student-teaching an english class in Seattle. They just had a guest poet speak in her class to the students and it proved to be a powerful time for both her and the students as his words were piercing. When one girl asked if there was any one experience or thought that showed up in almost all of his writing, he admitted that religion did. Although he didn't get specific, he DID say that he had been told once that he was going to go to hell for being himself, and he stated adamantly that he didn't believe THAT anymore. It was clear that he had been shown a face of religion that all too many people are shown-- that of judgement, anger, and condemnation, rather than love, welcome, and grace.
I have heard similar versions of this same story over and over in several conversations lately with people who have been hurt and wounded by the church and its people. After the Imago prayer night and praying that we would truly be image bearers of Christ, I just found this poem to be so pertinent, chilling and true. May we all be the Imago Dei.

Note: This is NOT my poem (though I wish I had written it!) This is the poem my friend wrote after hearing the poetry of a man who had walked away from the church with battle-scars. I just wanted to share it.


"There are no scars on His hands or His wrists," he says"
But my heart is clenched like a fist," he says"
What else could it be, when they shouted out 'Hell!' to a boy who was only being himself? And these sinners, these speakers, they unfurled floods of anger, they sneered while condemning their own vice and dangers, they steered their church across my knees, I see train wrecks, I see ship wrecks, I hear them speak, 'You: fault line, no straight lines where you come from,' they said, they said, they said to me.

"Angels make wings, right? They fly, right?
"But the feathers I found were only rubbed-out eyelashes for wishes made upon,
"Wish for light,
"Wish for wholeness,
"She put me to bed, said 'Sweet dreams son,' but running is all I dream about.

"I want wishes, I want light,
"And she pulls out her lashes to get me through the night.
"She says, 'One of these days, we'll both wake up with grace on our pillows.'

"I tried to follow.

"They said flames, they named names, but when I offered up mine,
"They said, 'Beast, away,'
"I looked for light, I looked for freedom, I tried to fly but hit the ceiling,
"There was no light switch, there was no quick fix, I said the prayer, I said, 'Pick me then!'
"But what I found was cold religion.

"'Do as I say, not as I do.
"'He forgives sinners, except sinners like you.
"'Toe the line kid, and do it our way
"'Take up the cross or rue the day
"'You didn't.

'"Just myself," he says.
"I was just myself
"And they said that that
"Was plenty hell-worthy."

I take it in.
I ache within,
I've said those words,
I've dug a hole for burials of lesser souls
I've nailed the lid on the coffin.
I confess. I confess.

I confess, I did.
And I look at a man with residue
Of religion gone wrong, of God misused.
He cried out for help, and he got abuse, and I'm sorry, I'm sorry

I'm sorry, I did.

We should have said, come as you are.
Should have said, right there too.
Should have said, I'll just listen
Since speaking is so over-used.
And no shaking fingers,
No skeptical foreheads
The face He had
Could not have been the face you read
From us.

Where do I begin?

Is there water to wash the damage, to clean off the face of a Lord we've mangled, to wipe the eyebrows to clean the nail beds, are there waves to recreate the music we've savaged? Is there water to make the sunrise, to send up steam for reflective cloud skies shape them in angels, shape out the feathers, send down a real one to a boy still asleep, send it to the boy who is running through dreams, send it then, send him grace, send him grace on his pillow.

Rouse him gently.

Show him a face of kindness first.
Don't speak, don't hurt, just deepen eyes,
Soften your breathing,
Just show him a sigh, show him healing.
If you open your mouth, you should only sing something lullaby,
Just quiet-like.
Let the light creep in through the window
And let that soften the harsher corners,
Let that ruffle the dusty curtains,
Let that chase away the spiders,
Let that reach into monster corners,
Let that blow the cobwebs and ashes,
He is just a boy, he is just


And that is loved. And that is worth holding.
Let the dawn break
On the heart that he's clutching.

I can't begin to apologize
For the lies the lies the lies the lies
That said you weren't acceptable.

Those words are damnable.

Should be a safe place to land
Should be a strong weathered hand
His face
Should say, "I understand,
"And I love you, I love you, I love you,
"It's love
"Like sand on the shore
"Like rain from the sky
"Like poppy weed buds that fire burst bright
"I love you like this
"I love you right now
"I love you running and aching and braving and shaking and falling and breaking again, and I loved you then
"And I loved you then
"And I loved you then, even then."

It's kindness
We missed it
It's mercy we forgot.
Instead of His words,
We sang funeral songs.

I confess,
And I'm sorry.
And I pray with my lashes,
That His face in the sunrise
Gives you grace
And not ashes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I love being a Christian

I don't know how people get through life without Jesus. When you're stretched too thin, when you don't no where your strength is going to come from, you can rely on Him.

(not to mention the whole afterlife thing)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The wherefore of whining

I like to complain about our health care system--it just has so many problems--and I'm not the only one. I'm sure it's surpassed baseball in the nation pastimes rankings. In truth, though, the health care around here is astonishingly effective. For a knee/shin problem, I got to take a 20-minute nap and listen to classical music. Afterward I was handed dozens of pictures of the inside of my leg. The inside. And now we know what the problem is. How is that not fantastic? I could go on and on with other examples, but I won't.

This all reminds me of a study I read about once, one that involved cyclists riding many miles over a course of multiple days, sort of a Tour de France type idea, except it wasn't a race or in France. Anyway, they found that when the cyclists were made to undertake moderately taxing rides, and provided with lots of amenities (food, nice sleeping arrangements, etc.), they
complained a copiously. After all, it was still a difficult endeavor; they were putting in long rides, and undoubtedly suffered numerous aches, pains and inconveniences. However, when luxuries were stripped to a minimum and the riding was made to be more taxing, the riders' whining nearly ceased. They were too busy focusing on the task in front of them. It makes sense that when life is easy, you can afford to address all manner of imperfections, and when it's hard, you just deal and survive; but it makes an odd situation where the more pleasant life becomes, the more whining takes place.

It makes me wonder: do I complain because things are so terrible, or because my life is normally so soft and plush? Perhaps it's time for an attitude check.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A thought for today based off of two days ago's thought

I heard a Duke University professor give this analogy in reference to the chaos regarding the current frenzied stockpile of antibiotics to fight "swine flu".

He told this story:

Imagine that you go out to buy a suit. You're really excited about this suit, and you go all out. You buy all the accessories, from the socks to the cuff links. You spend upwards of $1,000 on this outfit, and wear it out of the store to show it off. As you are walking across a bridge, you look down and see a man drowning. You don't have time to take your nice clothes off, but you don't hesitate and jump in the water to save the man's life, without even thinking of your clothes, even though they're going to be ruined.

So often we get to an emergency situation and spend without question. When confronted with need, we work something out to meet that need. What if, instead of having a $1,000 suit ruined to avert a tragedy, we wore simple clothes and built a guard rail? What if, instead of spending billions in a moment of panic to fight this specialized flu, we were spending a few dollars a day to wipe out malaria and TB and leprosy and cancer and diabetes? We could save millions of lives a bit at a time or wait until the tragedy is unavoidably present and spend lavishly. I wish we, as a culture and as individuals, were better at planning long-term and being consistently generous and preferring others.

(Also, I think it's weird that some of our blog post labels include Ace of Base, ice cream, and the Yukon. Sounds like the cards you might have in Apples to Apples.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

And another one

This time from Oak Leaf Church in Cartersville, Georgia:

"We’re ALL created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). If you are prejudiced, that’s like looking at God and telling Him that you don’t like His work."

Thought of the day

Courtesy, Without Wax:

“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it.”
“Well, why don’t you ask Him?”
“Because I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.”