Thursday, July 24, 2008


Ok, I just need a moment to vent. I've been up all night because just as I was dozing off, a little thought popped into my head and I've been pissed about it ever since.

Those of you who know me well, know the drama between my mother and I. I've done a LOT of work over the last 5 years or so to fix my end and I finally got to the point where I could forgive, and mourn. I had to mourn the loss of my mom. Let me 'splain. There was always this hope that my mom could just be a mom to me. It dawned on me - a little revelation, if you will - that my mom is who she is and will likely never change, and I needed to get to a place where I expected nothing less than that from her. In other words, I could not expect her to be anything other than what she is. So, for me, that meant I couldn't expect her to be my friend, say kind words, accept me for who I am without all the digs and criticisms about my life and character, and so forth. I had to let go of what I thought she should be and just allow her to be.

I've realized that since then, I've been able to look at her through the same lense that Jesus looks at her. She is a child of God. She is loved. She is broken. And I needed to love her despite all of the crud that mucks us all up, inside and out. It has completely changed the way I relate to her. I don't engage in the digs because her words mean nothing to me. I'm solid in who I am, so when she criticizes me, I know it isn't me she criticizes. It's her. She can't stand who she is. She hates being in her own skin. So, of course, what does she do? She lashes out at the easiest target. I just happen to be the one that she became accustomed to targeting over the years. I'm not sure she knows what to do now that I don't engage in that way. (It's kind of funny, really.)

So.. that brings me to yesterday. My beloved sinister (scab) sends me an email loaded with the news that my mom has now received her second notice of foreclosure. On September 20th, they will start charging her 9% per day on the $13K she owes on the the failure to pay her property taxes for the last 4 or 5 years. My initial response was, well... that's no shock. We saw that coming 5 years ago.

But then I got alone and quiet and the thought popped into my head that I've been praying about ever since and that is, true to form, I wouldn't have expected anything less, but now that she got herself into this pickle, which she knew would happen, she will expect that her kids bail her out. Let me make this clear, in a couple of months, my mother will be homeless. She's going through chemo for the probably last time (I honestly don't know how she will make it through this one, but I've seen God perform miracles in her before). She is absolutely broke. She refuses to sell the paintings. So, instead of being responsible EVER, she will likely lose everything. Everything. That means, whatever is in her home at the time will be seized. Including the paintings that she has hoarded for all these years.

I'm pissed because once again it is somehow our fault that this has happened. "She can't get anyone to help", "I call and no one calls me back", "I'm just going to burn the paintings"... blah blah blah. All bullshit.

That's my rant for the morning.

Jesus, change my heart and help me to see this situation the way that you see it.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Weirdness of the PacNW

Since I wrote my last blog, I've had some interesting conversations. Most of them started because the few who know me fairly well could tell something was different when we returned from Chicago. Usually I would answer "I'm doing great" when someone would ask how I was doing. (And it isn't a lie. I really AM doing great... Just extremely homesick and friendsick... if that is even a word.) But.. there was one who wouldn't take that as the "real" answer and kept pressing. Then the tears started. That was enough. She sat in my office and just listened as I unloaded.

Then she said that she felt exactly the same way. She has lived in Oregon for 26 years and STILL doesn't have any close friends.

Disclaimer: My last entry and this isn't meant to be hurtful to anyone. It is just me trying to put words to my sadness.

It's kinda funny (not in a haha way, but a peculiar, "sad clown" sort of way) living back in the Pacific NW. I couldn't put my finger on it for such a long time... What is it about this place that doesn't make it feel like home? Well... after numerous conversations with those who have moved here from other places, we all came to the same conclusion. Hospitality. Very few people here are hospitable. Sure, people have you over for a BBQ and a few laughs, but it isn't the same. In the midwest, people welcome you into their home as if you are just part of the family. They look into your eyes when you speak as if hanging on your every word. They intently listen, not to just the words you speak, but to your breath, your posture, all the stuff that happens in between words. It's hard to explain unless you've felt it, too. I grew up here and wouldn't have felt this way if it weren't for the last 15 years spent in other states. And then coming back isn't the "homecoming" I thought it would be. I'm not sure what I expected... I don't think I really expected anything other than to just do life with other people - whether in a similar life place or not. I've never had such a hard time trying to make friends! I've had to work REALLY hard. It's exhausting. Truly exhausting. And I don't understand why it has to be such a chore to walk alongside people.

The people that I've spoke to on this subject have all had the exact same experience. God created us to be in fellowship and community with other people, so it's no wonder we all have that desire to know and be known.
Scott and I have wrestled with our attitudes this last week. My fallen side says to hell with trying. We'll see who our real friends are when we stop being the first to make contact... We'll see who comes around... Isn't that awful??? I refuse to submit to the enemy that way. That is seriously a lie from the pit of hell, literally. So, we'll keep plugging away. We'll be hospitable in an unhospitable city. We praised God and dedicated our home to Him when we first moved in almost 4 years ago. We prayed that this would be a place where ministry and friendships would happen; that this would be a place that would be peaceful, kind and accepting. A lot of people have come through our doors. We praise God for that. We are commited to keeping this ministry alive for as long as we're here - however long that may be. And while we are desperately lonely for deep friendships, we will be engaging. A light in the world. Something other than status quo. God has called us to be nothing less.

Since June 18th (the day we left for Chicago), Jeffrey took his first steps. He ate his first filet mignon. He took his first boat ride. He took his first plane ride. He saw lightening bugs for the first time. His lungs and sinuses cleared up. (No green boogies for the first time since November!) A lot has happened in 3 weeks. Hardly anyone knows it. It breaks my heart to think that he might not know what having deep friendships looks like.

I just don't know what to think about it all. It's depressing to say the least. It might sound like I'm having a pity party, but really I'm not. I know we're here for a reason. I kind of like being in this place of unfamiliar because this is when God moves. I like hanging on His perfect word knowing that nothing is in vain. We may never see how God has used us to touch the lives of others. I have my guesses as to why we were brought back here - I won't be sharing those today... or maybe ever. But I know that God has more in store for us. Whether it's here in Salem (yipes) or elsewhere will remain to be seen. I'll go (or stay) wherever He wants us. I'm just grateful that I am beginning to understand what I couldn't put words to. That emptiness just leaves more room for Jesus. I can't think of anything I'd rather be filled with.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I think God has us here for a season, but I think he'll be leading us away from here at some point. (Who knows when?) We just don't fit in…. Some people love it here and call it home. For us, it's just a place we've stopped on the way to "home". Ever since we've moved to Oregon (6 years ago) we haven't had any truly, deep friendships or a committed community of "family". I don't know why… It isn't for a lack of commitment, investment or effort on our part. The only way we know how to love is deeply. But for some reason, most of what we've encountered here are people who go to a certain level, and then they back off (as if it goes too deep for them); or people who just are very busy with other things and don't have time. Maybe it's us… maybe it's them. I don't know. (This isn't true in all cases. We've made a few pretty close friends, but nothing like we had in California, Montana or Illinois.) I long to know the heart of people, and I long for them to really know me. We're not interested in surface-level chit chats.

I've been really struggling for the last couple of years… Same thing – new friends, new community, new everything…. It finally dawned on me about a week before we left for Chicago. Scott and I stayed up into the wee hours of the night just talking, crying, sharing, listening…. Then everything I realized was confirmed while we were there. We connected with our family and friends, and BOOM – there was our community. We've forgotten what it was like…. And then in God's perfect timing, my old accountability partner from Montana called out of the blue last week – she said just to hear my voice. (God did that, I'm sure of it.) It just confirmed in my heart what I've been dealing with these last couple of years. It's been a lonely road.

Why we're in Oregon, I don't know. For a season... For a reason... Oregon isn't home to me. Never has been. I doubt it ever will be. We lean into God's leading. Perhaps we'll find our way home one of these days.