Walking the Sea

Walking the Sea: December 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Great Quotes

There are several pertinent quotes I would like to share with you today:

This one I've had on a virtual post-it note on my desktop. It has greater meaning to me now than when I first read it.

"It’s not that things are any better, nor have I made any head way, but I *am* gaining perspective.I am holding my situation up to the light as though I am looking at an unusual vase. The vase is beautiful… but I just don’t know what to do with it. I turn it, look and turn it again, looking at it from every angle. I keep looking for an angle I can work with…The vase is simply too beautiful to put on a shelf somewhere… There has to be a perfect place for this vase, perhaps a place low enough that I don’t need a chair to stand upon, but a place that is high enough that it doesn’t get broken… A safe place where the light hits is just right to show the world all of it’s amazing colors… Until I find the best place for the vase, I’m going to stand here and hold it, analyzing all of it’s angles…"

This one too, same place:

"I will be speaking gently to myself this evening, pausing to remember as needed what the Lord's hand feels like on my forehead."

My dad sent me this one this afternoon:

"History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats." Bertie C. Forbes

Things to think on.

December 2008 - Moving in the Storm

Here in the Northwest of the United States, we always dream of a white Christmas but it's extremely rare we ever get one. Then, a week and a half before Christmas, the forecast for the coming days called for snow. Many were excited, we hardly ever get snow this early in the winter season! A week and a half later, we were singing a different tune. Gone was "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas" for we had all forgotten what that entails. First the snow came turning everything white and slippery, then the freezing rain that made the whole world one giant ice cube, then the snow again, and finally it all froze over once more into ice before the rains finally came back and all the snow and ice is melting away. (I've never been so happy to see rain in the forecast.) It will take a while for the banks of snow to clear, some are still pretty high where it was pushed off of sidewalks and parking lots. We just aren't used to that here and a lot of people have been housebound for days on end, including me. It's enough to make you just want to get OUT.

At the same time the storms have been rolling on through the valley, storms have been rolling through my life. A week into the storm, I was laid off from my job. They wouldn't tell me why, but budget cuts are a pretty reliable bet as it's happening to many. Getting a hold of unemployment has been frustrating to say the least. Then on Christmas day, I tried unsuccessfully to start my car. The next day I tried replacing the battery which apparently needed it anyway but that didn't work, then tried putting gas in and that didn't work either. The next options are the fuel pump, much more expensive. At this point I was in tears, I had reached the end of my rope and didn't know what else to grab onto. It was right then my dad called me getting a very upset daughter on the phone. I managed to tell him about the car through my tears, he said some very fatherly things, and after telling me he would pick me up in the morning for our family Christmas, we hung up. A half-hour later, there was a knock on my door and there stood my dad, coming straight to my apartment after work to give me a big hug.

Thus far, I have felt like I've been alone in my problems; that I need to come up with the solutions by myself with little help from anyone else. It's very depressing. I cannot tell you how much it meant to me that my dad let me know I am not in this by myself, that he is there for me and will continue to be there through it all with endless love.

The next morning as my family was sitting around the living room with my nieces playing amongst us, my dad explained to my mechanically inclined brother what was going on with my car. My brother said he'll look at it and try to figure out what is wrong. It was a weight lifted off my shoulders to know I have help, people who care.

This storm is certainly not the one I wanted, either the ice and snow or the one in my life. We often don't know why these storms come through and shake up what we counted on, why they alter the way we live our lives. But if there is something I have learned from the ice, is that it eventually melts and goes away. The snow banks disappear and are no more. This gives me hope. Eventually we find our feet again and when we do, we find the storm has pushed us in a new direction, a direction we had resisted or never knew existed. The storms open our eyes to new possibilities. As dark and jumbled up as they seem, there is light and strength in the storm. This is a hard thing for me to write, even harder to remember when I am struggling to not despair. But something deep within me tells me this is true, truer than the storm and truer than the darkness. It is true beyond all things, the truth that is part of the deepest truth: God's love. And I know it's there. Like my dad coming to reassure me I am not alone, so God assures us we are not alone. He is there, even when we cannot see Him in the way we did before. God is indeed moving in the storm.

Labels: ,

November 2008 - Thankful

I finally have my book website caught up- for the next two days anyway until January. Here is the November newsletter.


This may sound funny but this afternoon I realized it is Thanksgiving, a time to give thanks. There is so much in my life to be grateful for. The first things that come into mind are not things at all but people, images. Stacey dancing, Katie cheating at cards :o), my nieces playing twirl-a-chair, Emily sitting on her stool, the editorial board laughing together, the folks at Freedom Friends in our regular seats, and countless other friends too many to name. I am so grateful for them all. To love and be loved is the greatest gift of all. Everyday of my life I know this to be true on an ever deeper level in my heart.

Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about what is meaningful in our lives. I've seen the American dream and how it is more of a nightmare than a dream. I've seen what it does to a person and the people around them when power becomes vital to have and to hold. I've seen people who have plenty of money but have little room in their lives to enjoy what it can bring. In my culture, we tend to spend a great deal of time and energy trying to obtain what is not worth having and little time on what is. Sometimes i imagine being in heaven and looking down to see what I still hold in my hands. What of value in my life made it through the fire of death? So far, I have only come up with two answers. One is the love that has been poured into my life by those around me and the other is the love I have poured into theirs. Everything else is transient and not eternal.

This is the knowledge I want to direct my life with. This is the truth I hold as my guide. I may not be well off financially or the most worldly successful, but when it comes to a rich life where it counts, that I've got and what's more, I know who to be grateful to. I truly am, a rich woman.

Labels: ,

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Banner

For several months I have been jealous of how my friend can change her banner several times a day on her blog. Tonight, since I am up WAY too late anyway, I decided to try it. Here is my attempt using a sibling photo we took in mid-December. I will be changing it soon as I play. :o)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Sitting on the couch looking at my Christmas tree all lit up in dark put me in a reflective mood and I thought I would bring you along. It's Christmas eve. A familiar time, often a good time, sometimes quite painful, but this year it's different. This is the first year I am not seeing family on Christmas, the first year I haven't despaired about that, and it's the simplest year I've ever had. It's also a year I am in painful awareness that my life is nothing like I thought it would be. I seem to be nowhere near where I wanted to be in so many ways. Some of you may have heard of the labyrinth, a path that looks like a maze that works its way all over a circle, eventually going to the middle then back out. I feel like I've been on the path trying to find the center. I was pretty close for a while and then it feels like the path just went right back out to the edge and I am standing there wondering if I really am that far away or am I much closer than I think?

You think you have some of the answers to the questions you have been asking then you discover that not only are the answers not working, but the questions aren't either. Rilke says to live the question, that the answers could not now be given to me. Why not? I got nothing left. I'm back in that place where I have nothing to loose. Though perhaps I never left that place. I have lost so much over and over again that there is nothing else I can hang onto. But yet there is so much that has been placed in my hands so I keep asking the questions to what feels like a smoky hand, a wispy face I can barely see but not grasp and at this stage, grasping something solid would be nice.

This afternoon I was thinking about this while resting in my blankets and I cried. I am actually not much of a crier but lately, afterward it has felt pretty good , cleansing, like releasing something that has been burning inside, like breaking through something. I thought about it later and I think it's because I'm being honest with myself. I touched on it anyway. And if I can't be honest with myself, I can't be honest with God. I really think I need to go back to my writing. I can make all the excuses I want to about lack of time but what I'm beginning to suspect what it really is, is that I don't want to be honest with myself or God because then I would actually have to look at that stuff. I don't want to go into that black water again, it's easier to ignore it but not forever. Eventually, it floods you and pulls you away from the stump to which you cling anyway. I have been here before. I just didn't want to come back and yet I did want to and that is the ironic thing.

I hope you all have a good Christmas. I know for many of us it's been very cold. Snow and ice has been the name of the game here in the northwest. Many still can't get out and I'm so grateful I now can. I haven't spent this much time at home in a long time or seen this much snow and ice in the valley. In fact, it's still here. I am praying I make it to my friend's house tomorrow safe and sound. It will be the first time I've driven in a week and a half, which reminds me, I need gas. I'm actually really looking forward to tomorrow. I really enjoy spending holidays with these friends and it will be great to see them again. Either I'm in huge denial or I'm actually enjoying a quieter Christmas this year, or should I say, a more extended one. I am getting together with family, just not on the day of. Overall, I'm doing alright. There are just these deeper questions that have been moving inside of me for some time now and I think being cooped up and watching all of these Joan of Arcadia episodes has made me come closer to asking them.

My heater blanket should be in full swing by now. Have a great Christmas and I'll write again soon!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gift from a Friend

I just got off the phone with my friend J.D. He and his wife live down in Eugene and he works for the state. This evening he was reading my blog post about losing my job and he called me immediately not only to give empathy, but to tell me a story of his own. It turns out he was evaluated about two weeks ago just like I was with similar suggestions for improvement. Like me, he worked on those and thought it was going well. Then, this last Friday, same day as me, he got called in and they told him they were releasing him from trial service as he was not a good fit. The exact same thing I was told. We were given identical letters and told we could go ahead and leave. Like me, he has been struggling through this as he thought it was something he had done or hadn’t done and I am sure was asking himself what he could have done to make things go a different way. Until he read my blog. He then realized through the similarity of our stories, this was spread far wider than him and even me. The governor of Oregon has called for major cutbacks in all the state budgets and J.D. thinks they are cutting the limited duration and probation period folk because that is what is easiest. He had been taking it personally until reading my story and he urged me to not take it personally either, that my performance had nothing to do with it. My manager even said I did a good job. Thinking about it, it makes sense. Three other people got cut on Monday and something my manager said I had been wondering about is now clear to me. Even if I had stayed in the other division I was originally in, I still would have gotten cut. It was a matter of money.

So, I still need a job and a means to support myself, but my pride is still intact and so is J.D.’s. We were a great comfort to each other knowing we were not alone. The one difference between our stories is he was already hired to be a youth pastor on the coast after the New Year and I’ll be looking for a job. But I’m very happy for him and his wife. That will be a great place for them. J.D. has already invited me to come spend the weekend with them on the coast and speak to his youth group. After the show closes in mid-February, that will be a great trip.

Thank you J.D. for giving me this comfort, for letting me keep my pride of a job well done, and for giving me permission to share your story on here. Even more so, thank you for reminding of why I write, of why I share myself, my joys and my pain, through the written word: so that others may find strength and encouragement in knowing they too, are not alone.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Turn of Events

I really wish I had better news to share with you tonight. Perhaps it is good news but I don't fully see that right now. Most of what I see is a bad economy and me, really in need of a job. This afternoon I went to my manager to give her a project I had done for her when another manager came in and shut the door. They told me they were releasing me from trial service as of today. (Every state worker hired is on six months of trial service. I already had four months behind me.) My manager said I had done a good job, that it wasn't the quality of my work, that she even wanted to keep me, but they were letting me go. They both told me they will give me a glowing recommendation and there is another manager there I worked under who has already told me he would as well. I managed to talk to her very calmly, collect my things and make it out of the office without tears. I walked through the capital grounds in the hail straight to my friend's tattoo studio downtown where I knew I would know the comfort of a friend and hear wise counsel. Megan saw me first, (I know all the staff), and knew immediately something was wrong. I managed to tell her through my tears what had happened and she gave me a big hug. When Emily was finished piercing a client, she sat on the floor with me behind the counter and we talked for quite a while. Well, she talked, I pretty much listened. She told me to take this time to really look at what I want to do for a career, to find a way to use my many talents for income. She said, and I agree, that this is the universe yelling at me as I wasn't heeding the whispers to follow what I know I am called to do. It felt so good to hear someone say it wasn't me, that I am very valuable and have a lot to offer. She said in six months, I will look back on this day and see it as a good move in my life.

So now I'm doing those things I know I need to do, like put my school loans in deferment, that kind of stuff. One of the things I really like about myself is that even in crisis, I keep a cool head, know exactly what needs to be done and I do it. What I am not looking forward to is telling my family, mostly my parents who were so happy I had a job in this economy. But I did say on facebook I lost my job and am counting on the family gossip line to soften me having to give the news and I want to be honest with what I'm going through with my friends and not hide it. So here I am, being honest and open with my pain in writing, ironically what makes me so successful as an author. I am going to enjoy the simplicity of this Christmas and my beautiful tree and I'll figure things out from there.

I have decided to pick up my spiritual direction practice again after having laid it down for a time. I have really missed doing it and I know a pastor who is interested in referring people to me. Two months ago I was officially certified as a director, a special moment for me when I received my certificate after so many years of study, hard work, and putting in the supervision hours, and I am looking forward to walking with people once again on their spiritual journeys.

Thank you so much friends for your encouragement and love I know is there. I appreciate it more than I will ever be able to let you know.

(If by chance, you have a job opening, let me know and I'll send you my resume. ) :0)

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

21st Centuring Threats

Yesterday I took my camera down to the Capital Mall, a park surrounding the Oregon capital building, and took many photos. You can see them at www.flickr.com/SpriritWaterPublications/ When I got home, I submitted my favorite one to the Statesman Journal, our local paper, along with one I took of my friend's cat while house sitting for her. Today I looked them up online and found they had published them both on their website. (I don't know about newsprint yet.) When I told Katie about the picture of Julian, she said begrudgingly, "That's a good picture, even if it is of a cat." And by the way, that was after a bit of prodding after her initial objections to the picture soley because it was of a cat. Trying to sound very threatening, I retorted, "I'm going to blog you!" when she simply replied with "21st century threats." Humph. I rest my case. And when I know what that case is, I'll let you know. In the meantime, here are the photos and links in question.



Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas is Coming and Winter is Here!

I am now officially in the Christmas spirit. Getting a gigantic Christmas tree home did the trick. Katie and I drove to a tree lot on Friday night to pick one out. We wanted to go to a tree farm and cut one down ourselves but schedule wise, this was far easier. But it was a brave idea considering how long it took us to saw off the bottom of our tree last year. I still have the circle of wood we were so proud. I'm not sure how long it would have taken to actually cut one down. Perhaps next year. We discussed our choice before we got there. We had the same priorities, just in a different order. She wanted an affordable one and I wanted a big one. We both got what we wanted though it looks quite a bit bigger at home than it did at the lot. At home, it's HUGE and we both love it. It's the biggest tree either one of us has ever had and we could do it because we have vaulted ceilings baby. Oh yeah. Not having a truck, we decided to strap it to the roof of my car. Luckily, there was a branch hanging over the front window so we would know if it was falling off. Never having driven with a tree strapped to the top of my car, I was being very careful until Katie starts freaking out, "It's moving, it's moving!" Sure enough, the branch had moved but you could still see the branches in the back window so I kept going. Being rather mischievous though, as we were driving past the grocery store, I yelled, "It's moving, it's moving!" and enjoyed her reaction for a second until I told her I was joking. That's what she gets for having me drive with a Christmas tree strapped to my roof.

When we got the tree home, quite a job getting it up to the third floor, we placed it in the tree stand and became appreciative of all those years our parents straightened the tree. As Katie made adjustments underneath, I heard her say some very unladylike things and when I asked what was the matter, she said she saw a spider. Katie hates spiders. I'm the one called to kill them around here. A few minutes later, some more choice words left her mouth, and a little after that, I saw a spider crawling on me. Without thinking, I blew it off my arm and only then realized Katie was right below me. I wisely didn't say anything.

On Saturday, I attended a play, "The Best/Worst Christmas Pageant Ever" and it truly was the best Christmas pageant ever. If you have never read the book, you ought because it's great. I went with some women I know and we kidnapped one of my friend's mom to come with us. One part of the play is still in my head. These wild kids, the Herdmans, were fight and tossing around the baby Jesus doll until a mother who was directing the pageant took it away in a fury of outrage. Everyone left but her and Imagene who was playing Mary. Someone sang a solo while the Mother, Grace, reverently held the baby, put it back in the manger, wrapped the blanket around it and placed it in Imagene's arms, moving the girl's arms to show her how to hold it. She then held her face and kissed her on the forehead and left. The look on Imagene's face was incredible as she sat there and held the baby and I don't know about others in the audience, but I had tears running down my face. It was so beautiful and powerful.

This image has stayed with me since. Even as I write, it is still in my head. I told Stacey and Danica about it last night at Irish step dancing class. I was surprised but pleased Stacey still wanted to hold the class even with the snow starting to fall again. After all, I thought, how much can it snow in one hour? Uh-huh. Two inches is the apparent answer I'm glad I went. We had fun and what is better than dancing, snow, friends, and great music? Not much. Still, I slipped and slid home, even sliding nearing ninety degrees at one point. I was scared but trying to keep a cool head so I could get back safely. Stoplights were hard. By the time I got home, I was shaking and still trying to get over that drive. Though the state offices where I work are open today, I decided to stay home and stay safe. It's still really icy out there and I don't want anything to happen to me. I'm thinking I will catch the city bus tomorrow. Last night Katie decided to stay at her sister's in Keizer instead of trying to go across town and a friend of hers decided to come here instead of trying to get home to Mt. Angel in the foothills. So Tina and I decorated the tree and it's beautiful. Stacey got home safely too. The only vehicle to make it up a steep hill in fact. I was relieved when I talked to her.

It's nice to have a free day to work on odds and ends that have hanging around my neck. I'm still waiting to hear back if we have play rehearsal tonight. If we do, I'll just catch the bus into town and get a ride home from someone. Brrr... it's cold. This is the earliest storm we have had in a really, really, long time. Here is to another weird weather winter! And Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More Thanksgiving Photos

Gabreella is the red head and Madison is the one with sandy colored hair. They are both two and a half years old.

I loved watching this and taking photos, my dad used to play this with me when I was her age. I have a video of us doing it.

Madison looks beautiful in her chapstick!

Gabee enjoyed playing with Madison's hair. It was the cutest thing!


Madi and Gabee tried putting the sea shells on Poppie's ears.

Madison remembered every type of shell after I told her and could then name others as she pulled them out.

I love those two!

Madison and Gabreella twirled each other in the chair.

My dad

Mother and daughter!

Mother and daughter!

She takes after her mother and aunts...



Monday, December 8, 2008

Thanksgiving Photos

My sister, Megan, has been asking for Thanksgivig photos. I'll post more tomorrow but here is an appetizer for tonight. Enjoy Megan!


Sunday, December 7, 2008

In Seattle with Ashley and Katrina!!!

I got to see Katrina and Ashley!!!! This is me bragging to the world. I just had a totally awesome weekend in Seattle. Not only am I immensely proud of myself for tackling the downtown streets while driving, I also pumped my own gas, helped Katrina find her way around, and found my own way back to Ashley's house as well all by myself. I feel GOOD. Accomplished.

Let me explain who these fantastic ladies are. Ashley was one of the first members of Freedom Friends Church but she moved to Seattle before I came along there and now is a sojourning member at University Friends Meeting. We met at the women's conference and have since become friends as well as Friends. We have been planning for me to come up there sometime for several months and we finally did it. Ashley is now c0-clerk for the next women's conference. She is a Quaker Lightening Rod.

While Ashley and I were thinking of me making the trip north, Katrina sent an e-mail to the Editorial Board telling us she was moving to Seattle for a while. I was beyond THRILLED. I met Katrina in April at our meeting in North Carolina and as with all the members, we really connected. Katrina and I actually flew home together as far as Detroit so we got to know each other a bit better. Several members on the board have gotten to see each other at various meetings and I've been jealous out on my own here in the Northwest. But no longer! Katrina came over to Ashley's on Friday and we got to hang out, eat Chinese, and talk late into the night. I loved having her around to remember our time together as a board, someone who understands what it meant to each of us. And she a lot of fun. It was also a great reminder of how small the Quaker world really is as two people there already knew Katrina and were surprised to hear she was in town.

The next day Katrina and her cousin, Erica, joined Ashley, her roommate, Eric, and I on the Seattle underground tour. It was a great time, I loved seeing the streets below the streets of Seattle and hearing the history of the city. Our tour guide even recognized Eric as a Quaker based on his beard. It gave us all a good laugh but I'll let Ashley blog about that one. In the afternoon, I walked around Pike Market and took a look around on the Space Needle. Something I had never done before. Saturday night we had a young adult potluck and I joined Ashley and Eric at meeting the next morning giving my regular Quaker Youth Book Project spiel.

All in all, I'm still giddy from getting to spend time with people I love and getting to make new Friends/friends.

Then, when I came home, I not only had delicious pumpkin soup with my roommate, Katie, I got an e-mail telling me I have been awarded a scholarship to go to a "Weaving Sacred Wholeness" conference in South Carolina in March! How utterly cool is that? It's all about Quaker diversity and I'm thrilled. Yay for me! And yay for the people who gave the money so I could go! THANK YOU!!! And a huge thank you to Ashley for having me up for the weekend. It was so good and much needed. I'll be back soon!

Labels: , , ,