Friday, December 30, 2005

Good Bye 2005

How do you sum up a year you would rather forget? I would use the following words:
  • Pain
  • Grief
  • Abandonment
  • Fear
  • Confusion
  • Transformation
  • Laughter
  • Tears

But to be honest, this was the hardest year I have ever gone through. Let me recap the year for you. Settle in, because this is going to be long...

In January, I returned from a trip to Kansas City (like usual) and arrived back to find out that my mentor was leaving Willow in June. I was hurt, angry (at Willow, at God, at anything that walked by me), I was sad, not for me, but those in the program who only had a year or 2 years with the most powerful woman I know. I left for Bethel, my last intensive, and finished one of the hardest "papers" I have ever written...the statement of faith (if I ever get really ballsy, I'll post it). I also found out in January that my friend Vivian was moving to a magical place called Denver.

At the end of January, my grandmother had a stroke and I realized that this would be the year I would lose her. I would now be grandparent-less and my birthday buddy wouldn't be around any longer. When I returned from Bethel in February, I found out that the second most powerful woman in my life, Carol, would also be leaving Willow. In the midst of all the pain of leaving Elevate and moving into Oasis and Champions, Carol gave me space and the support I needed. She encouraged me to try new things, she listened deeply, cared deeply and shared an intimate part of my life with me. How the hell I would survive Willow without her and Sheryl would be tough. Only then I didn't know I wouldn't be at Willow past June either.

In March, the wonderful young woman I mentored for a year suffered a great lost, along with many people in our community. Laurie's death is unexplainable, but everyone affected still yearns for a way to connect more deeply with each other. I lost a job with Young Life, one that I desperately wanted, and still don't know why I didn't get it. My 25th birthday party was the best. I have never felt so loved with a group of people before and I may never experience that again, but I loved it. I made a decision to go to a Radius Retreat, bought a ticket with money I didn't have and simply wanted to get away...

In the midst of January/February/March, I had a conflict resolution that popped all my authority shit, and was one of the hardest leadership lessons I've ever gone through. It was a good learning lesson but never again. I learned that mistake once, I refuse to learn it again.

April started with me at a Radius retreat, learning the word cheeve and losing some weight thanks to boot camp. I came back from the retreat, after wrestling with the Trinity all weekend long, knowing that my next step would be Denver. I slowly started removing myself from ministry opportunities and began another cycle of grieving, saying good bye to my small group.

In May, we lost a leader and that was my second suicide in the year. 2 too many. It was a blow to our ministry, and our leaders responded in such a good way. But again, it brought up Laurie and everyone I lost to death over the years. My small group had our last official Friday morning meeting, and I wasn't ready for it. We sat in that room, crying, realizing what we had was special, that I wouldn't trade it for the world, that we've never experienced community in such a way before, and there is a slim chance we may never again. I began packing my room. I did no work (well, very little) for my last class of seminary. I came to Denver to look for an apartment and had a wake up call on what the community might look like when I get here.

In June, I said good bye to Willow, to my small group, to my community, to my life in Chicago. I set up intentional good byes with the people that really mattered to me, and felt like I ended well. I graduated from Bethel. I moved to Denver. And I began to realize how much I missed my community. I felt alone, distant, and an island in a city where I knew people. I couldn't understand it. I had no stability in my life, and all I wanted was someone, anyone to pursue me. I also began working "normal" hours, dressing up for work and it still kills my soul.

In July, nothing major happened. More grief, more pain, more feeling alone.

In August I went to a concert by myself. I went camping for the first time and actually enjoyed it. I got a new temp job (which eventually became my permanent job) and then 2 catastrophic things happened. The first was having my grandmother pass away. While I'm glad she's no longer in pain, I miss her, it was weird not talking to her on Christmas Day (or even recognizing her on Christmas Day). Watching the coffin close was one of the hardest things I've ever seen. Then Katrina hit New Orleans and slowly washed away a second home to me. It's painful to see the pictures, memories are gone, however, I believe that town will rise again (the South always does). Fleeing the city, hearing the rain, these are memories I will keep with me forever. Andy came to visit, and that gave me so much love.

September came and went and the takeaway from that was that my beautiful best friend had a beautiful baby girl. That family just keeps growing.

October, Radius had another retreat, which was another eye opening life changing event. It centered me. I chose this community, I choose what happens to it. I finally accepted it for more of what it was. I began to feel lighter. An old Ryan Adams song became my theme song and I realized that I still have a ton of grieving to do around my small group from Chicago.

November was good, starting with Brian and somewhere in the middle losing Brian. For that brief moment, I realized I was worth loving. I was sad to see him go, I was confused and hurt, but I'm one hott mama, there are plenty of fish in the sea...I had an amazing Thanksgiving dinner with Radius and began to realize how much I really enjoy spending time with Wendy and Jenny.

And now it's December. There are days of sunshine and laughter (like dancing around the Virgin Music Store with Maria). There are days of darkness and confusion about who I am, what I am doing, where I will be. The holidays were fine, only a few things tweaked me theologically and relationally.

So, what you may ask do I want out of 2006? Anything has to be better than the year I had. I'm reminded of the "Friends" quote when they were making New Year's Resolutions:

Ross: No divorces in 99 Chandler: I thought your divorce isn't
going to be finalized until 99. Ross: 1 divorce in 99.

I want to say there will be no grieving and I know that's not true. I've just learned how to accept it more. I want what everyone wants.

I want 2006 to be a year of love. Not romantically (though that would be nice) but holistically. I want to experience the Trinity's love in a more fuller way. I want to be love to others. I want to be loved in new and fresh ways. I want this song to be true in my life.

May your 2006 be filled with love...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I can't believe I'm admitting to this...

So, when I first discovered Napster in college, I downloaded so much crap it wasn't even funny. The first song I ever downloaded was "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer.

I now hate that song.

However, one song I secretly loved was this (I'm too ashamed to even put the title on this blog). I would listen to it, cranked up and sing along. Cheesy? yes. Meaningful? in the moment. Do I have it now? NO!

So, while I was on hold this afternoon trying to clear some things up, it was playing. And all of the sudden, I was standing in the middle of Moore Hall, room 543 singing along.

Thank God for transformation.

By the way, the year in review/hopes for 2006 post will be posted on December 31st. Until then, enjoy the rest of 2005 (personally, I'm glad the worst year ever is ending, but more on that later).

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Making a mistake that I can't make again...

Last night, I wanted to go to dinner with my friend Sheralee and ever since Brian and I broke up, all I want is Chili's, so Sheralee and I decided to go to Chili's for margaritas (once again, work was stressful) and good conversations. I thought that Brian wouldn't be working (he didn't typically work Monday nights) so it would be relatively safe for me to go. I mean, it only took 3 weeks for me to go back to the 16th Street Mall, after some time, I thought I could handle going to Chili's.

And here's the realization I made. Yes, I can handle Chili's, it was seeing Brian I couldn't handle. We walked through the door and he was the first person I saw. And once we were seated, I started crying. (You should have seen Jenny and Marko's faces when I told them this story). It was hard, but I realized how much grieving I still have to do around this situation. So much for being over him.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

This one goes out to my friend To Bring

In High School, I was friends with a girl named Traer (which is a Spanish verb "to bring" and a family name for her). She lived in Lee's Summit and we did so much together. In fact, after I graduated from high school, she and I (with like 10 other people) went to Paris for 2 weeks. It was amazing. We laughed, we found really cute boys to hang out with and still I look at those pictures today and realize we had a great time.

Prior to leaving for Paris, The Wedding Singer came out to the theaters and I loved the soundtrack (there is also a good memory with my friend Jordan, but that's for a different post). Traer and I would crank it up to the loudest it would go and dance around. One of the songs that always makes me think of Paris is "every little thing she does is magic" by the police. I think of the 30 year old, us wandering around Paris and how I fell in love that summer with the most amazing boy, however those feelings were not reciprated (another blog, another place, another time).

Recently there has been a remake of that song and every time it comes on I think of her. Of us dancing in our hotel room, delirious from the flight and trying to figure out how we were going to meet up with the 30 year old and his friend. So, to my friend To Bring, I dedicate the following lyrics to you:

Though I've tried before to tell her
Of the feelings I have for her in my heart
Every time that I come near her
I just lose my nerve
As I've done from the start
Every little thing she does is magic
Everything she do just turns me on
Even though my life before was tragic
Now I know my love for her goes on
Do I have to tell the story
Of a thousand rainy days since we first met
It's a big enough umbrella
But it's always me that ends up getting wet
Every little thing she does is magic
Everything she do just turns me on
Even though my life before was tragic
Now I know my love for her goes onI
resolve to call her up a thousand times a day
And ask her if she'll marry me in some old fashioned way
But my silent fears have gripped me
Long before I reach the phone
Long before my tongue has tripped me
Must I always be alone?
Every little thing she does is magic
Everything she do just turns me on
Even though my life before was tragic
Now I know my love for her goes on

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

maybe it's just me...

But when I get into stressful and hard situations, I don't crave alcohol (no I use that to hide from any to me about this summer...actually talk to anyone I was in small group with over the last three years with, they'll say the same thing) or exercise (freaks). I want grease. Sonic, Taco Bell, Burger King, anything...

I don't know what it is about this week. Whether it's preparing to go home or work in general, but I'm stressing like crazy. I need a nap constantly and all I want is a bacon cheddar burger from the Cricket (the world's best should come to Denver to check it out)

So, I'm trying not to go (I have a lunch packed and my friend just gave me a few of her fries), but I don't know if I can resist temptation much longer.

Just food for thought.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

oh what a night...

So last night, I went to a free concert here in Denver (I also realized that all the concerts I've been to in Denver have been for free, but that's another blog story). And it was great. Goo Goo Dolls, Better than Ezra, Howie Day, and Anna Nalick for FREE!!!

It's a story that is inappropriate to share on the internet on how I actually got to go (sticking to Dooce's rules about not talking about work on the blog), but I went and it was exactly what I needed. I began to think about why I love to go to concerts. Is it because it's seems like a community? People uniting for one thing that they love (or tolerate). Is it the energy, the force of excitement that someone feels when their words are being screamed back at them? Is it my desire for me to be in the same light? I don't know, but I love going to concerts. It was amazing and for can't beat that.

I met these amazing guys one of which invited me skiing with him and his boyfriend sometime. We are going to try to grab drinks at some point. Ahh, the gay boy connection continues in Denver (Hi Eric and Darren!).

And I talked to a male stripper, but that's a different story all together.

Anyways, it pays to listen to the radio...Thank you Alice 105.9 for a great way to kick off the week.

On a complete side note, the Golden Globe nominations came out, and I would like to congratulate the following person on his nomination and to say that if he needs a date (you know that if Mandy can't be there), I would be more than happy to fill in.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...

On Sunday, after a TC meeting with Radius and a nap to recover from Saturday night, my friend Sheralee and I went to Wal-Mart and Lowes to get Robert.

Who's Robert? That's my Christmas tree. He's a beautiful fir, that's big and soft and makes my apartment smell wonderful. We added lights, decorations, and thanks to Real Simple, wrapped the boxes so it looks like there are real presents underneath. I love it! It's so good for my soul and I can't wait to get home to it tonight.

Stop by and see it and if you can't do that, then check out these photos!

Friday, December 09, 2005

this is how angry I am

Mrs. White: I hated her so... much... it... it... the... it... the... fee... flames... flames... on the side of my face... heaving... breathless... heaving breaths...

-From the movie Clue

Thursday, December 08, 2005


"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love."
- essayist Hamilton Wright Mabie

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

My best friend ROCKS!

There are people who know you well, who can look deep into your eyes, into your soul and know what is really going on with you.

Many people will attempt this, however, only the few will know you to your core. I'm grateful that I have many people like this, but they have been recent additions. No, my best friend has known me for over 5 years and I'm eternally grateful for her friendship.

Our stories intersected at KSU, through Young Life, but it wasn't until a retreat for Young Life leaders that we really began to connect. We have seen each other at our best, our worst, and those moments in between.

But here is how well my best friend loved me yesterday. She understood that the boy situation was hard. She understood that even though our relationship was short, intimacy can't be measured by time. So in order to love me well from 8 hours away, she sent me a package. Now I rarely get packages from people (except for my mom, who sends me coupons and old magazines each week). So when I saw this package on my front steps, I got really excited. I opened it up to find some very fun new pjs filled with garden gnomes and some hilarious magnets of lawn ornaments. She loved me so well in that moment and I love her for it. I can't wait to see her when I get into KC in a few weeks.

So, my advice this cold Denver morning...thank God for your friends who know you so well that they can send you exactly what you need in the moment you need it...that is what community is all about.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

do you know what today is?

Look around you...what are you grateful for? Do a quick exercise of the things you are grateful for. It could be your job, your friends, the peppermint mocha from Starbucks, anything that you are grateful for. Did you think of your life?

Now, think of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, where AIDS takes people's lives on an hourly basis. Think of the children whose parents, families, and friends whose lives are taken because of the lack of education and drugs that could save their lives.

Now think of what you could do to help. I'm not meaning getting on a plane and doing something (though for some of you that might be the case). I mean, signing up for the One Campaign, educating yourself about AIDS, giving to World Vision, befriending someone with AIDS, or simply being grateful that you are capable of doing something.

Today is World AIDS day...please do something.