Why Do You Feel?

The past 11 days have been a slew of saying last goodbyes, traveling from one of the remotest countries on the planet to our new home here in the States, all 17 bags + carry-ons in tow, saying hello to some of “our people” and fantasy family, purchasing groceries, getting acquainted with our new home, purchasing our Christmas gifts and celebrating Christmas…it’s been a tad hectic. I write that to say thank you for understanding why I didn’t post last week, and as a way to share why I feel the way I feel right now. And why do I write about why I feel what I feel? Because of Clay, an artist friend of mine’s  post on Facebook a few weeks ago.

He writes, “Writers, everyone talks about honesty. Let me tell you what honesty isn’t: a description of something you feel. We’ve all felt the full spectrum of emotions, but I want you to tell me WHY. Be specific. I’ve heard it said that many writers spend time writing about the epic mountain landscape, but only the best write about the blade of grass. If you want to make someone feel something, don’t tell them how you feel, tell them what made you feel. Give me a story, not a list. Give me humanity. Be so honest that it gets you in trouble.”

Though I don’t fully agree that everyone has “felt the full spectrum of emotions” as some suppress what they are feeling because it’s “dangerous” and leaves them vulnerable, I do agree that there are many of us who desire to know they why and how. How did it make you feel is just as important as why. But without the why, we are left hanging in a place of ungrowth…dormant perhaps. Knowing why someone, or why you yourself feels a certain emotion, helps us truly be present, experiencing the moment to the fullest extent we can or are able to.

I was on the 10 hour flight from Seoul to Seattle when I started to cry. Sobbing really. My youngest son looked up, got very quiet, and asked if I was crying. “Yes,” I said. “Why? Are you hurt,” he replied. “No, no I’m not. I’m just very, very sad.” Why,” came that very sincere heartfelt innocence truly wanting to know why. “Because I had to say goodbye to some people that I love a great deal. I had to say goodbye to our cat who was special to us. I had to say goodbye to a place I loved and a job that I really loved doing. And to a lifestyle that is no more any longer. That’s why, C,” I replied. “I’m sad to dad. I had to say goodbye to our cat….and my friends. I don’t have anymore friends, at least, I only have two friends where we’re going, but none at my new school. That makes me sad.” And he began to cry to. We sat there for a while, snuggling up next to each other.

It’s been a hard place to be in, here holding both joy and grief in tension. The past few weeks, I’ve handled many things matter-of-factly simply to get the logistical stuff done. But when I stop and allow myself to feel, it all comes back quickly and intensely. It’s amazing how simple things that seem hardly connected, can cause me to feel the pain of saying goodbye-a smell, taste, the way the sun hits a certain angle on a tree or bush….simple things. And then of course there is that excitement of something new, undiscovered territory, risk and what lies ahead. The joy of relationships that were deep and jobs that were fulfilling. The feeling of being home, a new start, a new chapter.

The next few months will be more about reflection, deep searching, an inward and upward journey than they will about a profession. My hope is that I will take my friend Clay’s words to heart and be able to express why I am feeling what I’m feeling and more clearly express the learning journey that I’m on. Whether it be spiritually or the trail I’m currently hiking. I also hope that as we head into a new calendar year, you all will be able to express the same things. Not because you’re narcissistic (unless maybe you are), but because we learn and grow from each other. Reading what I write, I hope it helps you grow in your journey in life. But I also need to learn, and perhaps there are things in your life I may can learn from. But I won’t know unless you share them with me and others. I encourage you to share the what, why, how, where and when with others this year.

May 2017 find you to be on an inward and upward journey as well.

be blessed today

My Reading list since December 2015, What’s Yours?

I know you’re probably looking for some deep insight and great spiritual wisdom (snickers silently to himself), but not today. Today, I want to share the books that I read over the last 12 months. Perhaps you have a book worm in your life or you’re looking for something that is going to challenge you. Take a look at this list and perhaps you’ll find something. As you look through this list, you’ll notice that some of these books are not about spiritual formation, per say. I do believe that learning is still learning, and we can always learn more, so I would encourage you to look at all of them on the list (I should get credit from Amazon or something for recommending books…hhmmmm).

Anyhow, what I would also like is suggestions from you. We all learn from each other, after all. I don’t usually read fiction (except the Shusaku Endo one at the bottom), but if it’s intriguing, I might be up for it!  I hope if you do read one of these books, that God uses it to speak to you.

be blessed today

Discernment: Reading the signs of daily life-Henri Nouwen

Coming Clean: A Story of Faith- Seth Haines

Rising Strong- Brene Brown

Seasons of the Soul: Stages of Spiritual Development- Bruce Demarest

Contemplation And Midlife Crisis: Examples from Classical and Contemporary Spirituality- OSU Rosmarie Carfagna

Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the year- Philip Reinders and Eugene Peterson

Life Together- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Let Your Life Speak: Listening For The Voice of Vocation-Parker Palmer

The Dusty Ones: Why Wandering Deepens Your Faith-A.J. Swoboda

On Loving God-Bernard of Clairvaux

The Making of a Leader-Robert Clinton

The Search For God and Guinness: A biography of the beer that changed the world-Stephen Mansfield

Crossing the Chasm, 3rd edition- Geoffery A. Moore

Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There-Leonard Sweet

Branding is for Cows. Belonging is for People- CJ Casciotta

Run With The Horses: The Quest for Life at its Best –Eugene Peterson

The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey-Henri Nouwen

The Needs of the Heart-Chip Dodd

Water To Wine: Some Of My Story-Brian Zahnd

Silence- Shusaku Endo

 

 

What Are You Expecting For Christmas?

Transition is hard. For me, this transition from Mongolia back to America for an unforeseen amount of time,  has been the hardest transition thus far. YET, it’s been the most joy filled transition that I’ve ever had. Grief and joy…they seem to go hand in hand. Sometimes immediately, other times it may be days, weeks, years before the joy becomes present or is noticed. For me, they’ve been simultaneous…but I’ve mentioned that before.

The other night, I was praying with our youngest son before bed. He’s the one that likes to snuggle. As we were laying there in his bed, huddled up together, he began crying. Crying about his loss of friends here as we move back to the States. Crying about how hard it will be to make new friends. Crying about saying goodbye to our cat here, most of his toys, his room, his bed….and the loss of not traveling anymore like we do. He is in the midst, like we all are in our family, of grieving loss. And it’s sad. It’s hard. It’s painful. And, it’s so needed. We have had several nights like this the past few weeks. For him, this is his 11th move in 9 years of age. For our daughter, the youngest, this is her 10th move. Our oldest son, this is his 14th in 11 years of being born. And for Iris and I, it is our 16th move in 15 years of marriage. That’s a lot-A lot. And almost half of those moves have been international. Putting it down on paper makes it quite sobering.

I was reading through a daily guide through the Advent season the other morning. The scripture that day was Psalm 126….

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
    and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
    we are glad.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
    like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
    shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
    bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
    bringing his sheaves with him. (ESV)

 

It’s no secret that Christmas time is a time of expectation, right? Whether it be the excitement of what present you’ll receive, or the reaction on someone’s face when they open their present. Or maybe it’s a little deeper, and there’s the anticipation of Christmas morning, the snow, the tree, Christmas dinner or perhaps the reaction from the kids. sigh….I love Christmas. I really do.

Looking back through the Bible, the Jews were expectant as well, looking for a Messiah. They were looking at someone to come and restore the kingdom, God’s chosen people. To regain control, establish the kingdom, perhaps to make them again, the great nation they were instead of the mockery they had become. They had expected a warrior king, not the Prince of Peace, and especially not a king that was born in a stable. How utterly ludicrous….and yet so paradoxically divine. Their Messiah, our Messiah has come, but in a way so very differently than expected. He did do what was promised. He is continuing to do what was promised. And he will do what is promised…bring restoration.

Reading through the book of Job, his story is also one of pain and hurt. The whole book, the whole story is of great loss and pain. From his property, to his children to eventually his friends and his own health. He suffered massive loss.

But then came restoration.

Job’s story, the story of the Jews and of us today, is one of restoration. A fallen world, us a fallen people, a place of hurt, pain, loss and grief that so desperately desires restoration, even when we may not know it. In the last chapter, we read that everything Job lost was restored….not replaced, but restored…and then some.  Jesus came to restore relationship and in Revelation we read how the world will be restored to what the Eden that was.

And that’s one of my prayers for my family, for my children. What great losses they are suffering, we’re all suffering, will be restored someday. We can never replace friends, loved ones who have passed away, even family pets. But we can be restored whole again. Joy does that. Better yet, God does that and joy is a part of that. It makes “Joy to the world” have new meaning to me. I wonder where, or what, needs to be restored in your life. Restoration isn’t fixing a problem. Restoration making it like it was before. And with Christ, his restoration is something far greater than what was before, more fuller than the loss suffered, though unexpected.

After writing last week and reflecting on this today, I believe God has given me these few words for Advent this year-realignment, restoration, renewal, re-establish. These are the words that I need to focus on during this time, this holy time.

What about you? What in your life needs to be restored? What does God desire to do during this holy time of Advent, in your life? Are you willing to take time and reflect on what it is?

be blessed today

 

Photo Credit Here