Monday, August 29, 2011

A Staggering Work of Heartbreaking Genius

I read that book title a few years ago and thought. That. Is the single best book title I've ever seen.  Did I read the book?  Nope.  Cuz the content didn't seem all that staggering or heartbreaking or genius.  But the title, that got my attention.

Over the years the title has popped into my head now and again, and I've wondered, what would qualify as a staggering work of heartbreaking genius? 

I remember being very young, oh 7 or 8, and playing dolls with my friend who lived downstairs from us.  Our version of dolls was pretty crafty though, if I do say so myself.  Instead of actually creating storylines and scenarios, we were totally into making the houses and the furniture.  Cardboard, craft paper, scissors, markers, glue...we created some masterpieces and mansions.  I distinctly remember turning an entire bookcase in my room into a doll's paradise.  Eat your heart out, Beverly Hills.  There was a storage room, or bodega, in the back of our building and we took over that too, and turned it into a playhouse.  Every little girl does it and  I was no different.  Dreams of being grown, and decorating my house.  Dreams of the bright and shiny future that would go exactly as I planned for it to go.  Rose colored.  Gold colored.  Filled with light and love.

Well.  And then we grow up.

This past week was pretty monumental.  It included 2 earthquakes, a hurricane, a baptism, and several conversations with friends who have fallen apart a little bit.  It would be easy to draw that cliche between the storm outside and the storms in our lives.  In fact, I just typed a sentence out saying exactly that.  And hurricanes are pretty great visual aides for the devastation a storm can create.  But the point is not the storm and the havoc and the damage it creates.  Physical or metaphysical.  I've talked a lot on this blog about suffering and pain and struggle.  My own.  Other people's.  My family's.  Peter, as in the disciple-slash-apostle guy, said it pretty well:

For, “All people are like grass,
   and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,

Isn't that delightful.

But.  Here's where the heartbreaking work of staggering genius comes in.  Are you ready?  After the falling, the Jesus following human being gets back up.  Peter had lots of those moments.  He decided to jump out of the boat he was in and walk on water to Jesus.  He did really good for like two steps and then started to sink.  He fell in.  Jesus walked over and grabbed his hand and pulled him back up.   A little later in his life, he took a really pivotal opportunity to deny multiple times that he ever knew Jesus.  A different kind of fall.  And over breakfast on a beach Jesus restored their relationship.  And Peter got back up.

Humanity is a staggering heartbreak.  We screw up on a daily basis.  Bad.  Hard.  Yucky stuff.  Stuff you don't want anyone to know about.  Sometimes our lives can feel and look like a hurricane just went through.  Or an earthquake just hit.  But the best part is to come!  The genius is that God takes our fall and lifts us up.  Changes the outcome and the interiors of our souls.  Restores our relationship and does not leave us in the grime and filth of our lives.  The human race is God's staggering work of heartbreaking genius.  Whether the story is of a new Christ follower who has been changed and turned from a life of despair.   Or like the story of my friend who had to resign from his church because he screwed up major big time.  But asks forgiveness and believes in grace.  God is not done with any single one of us when we fall at any point in our journey with him.   God is building his story.  His home to be filled with us.  And the future he has going on is rosy and gold.  And will not change.

So here is the story of us.  Of those who follow God.

 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again

Psalm 103

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
   slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
   nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
   or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
   so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
   so far has he removed our transgressions from us.   
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
   so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
   he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
   they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
   and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
   the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
   and his righteousness with their children’s children—

Friday, August 26, 2011

Today has been a stretching, shepherding day.  I know why God had me miss my trip to NY.  Doesn't mean I don't miss my vacation, trust me I do, but God had his reasons. 

Emotionally tired.  Praying for peace in the middle of this spiritual war.  Baptism = attacks on all fronts. 

It's a good thing that God is greater. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

life, the intangible dream
we try to wrap our minds around eternity
and dress it in the rags of what is present
and for certain real
as if reality could not be other
a step away from here
a simple move to the left or right

rage and weep, sing and dance
and drink and toast and sit silently
fighting & loving are just two sides of the same coin
perhaps we are tired of tossing it
or maybe we will go another round

every now and then a window opens
into joy and heaven breathes on us
these, these are the butterfly wings
that carry us over the valley of the shadow
and into dreaming again
reality is only a step away

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Help

It's not often that I walk out of a movie theater wanting to be a better person.  Tonight I did.  If you haven't seen the movie, The Help yet....go see it.

I sometimes forget that I go to church with people who named their child SodaPop.  And then I get reminded. 

At the end of the last wedding event, I ran downstairs in a skirt I pulled up to make a dress. No hair.  No makeup.  It was midnight thirty.  Surely, I thought, all the guests will be tired and in bed.  You see where this is going, right?  As the elevator door opened, arrayed in front of me are every single one of the very fine/hot/gloriously pretty looking groomsmen from the day.  All I wanted was a freakin' Coke.  So I covered my face and muttered "don't look at me"  or maybe I shouted that.  It's all a lil hazy.  The drunk boys thought it was all good fun and yelled various things after me, like...."You're awesome."  and "get me a pepsi".  *sigh* 

Have a good weekend one and all.  Hugs and keeses. :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Let's Return to High School. Or not.

One of the yuckiest things in life is encountering a snob.  You would think that once high school is over, it's over?  Right.  But for some people not so much.  There are lots of times I'm grateful for my background and my childhood, but in encountering these kinds of people it's when I'm the most grateful.  Not because of the cultural and language gifts that I acquired, but because of the diversity of people I was exposed to.  I was the only white girl in my graduating class.  My friends were from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Bolivia, Finland, Sweden, Spain and India.  And hey, I'm just gonna be honest.  I wasn't the least popular girl in high school, but I wasn't the most.  Somewhere square in the middle.  And that's kinda where I like it even now. 

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to have dinner with a new friend from out of town who has been mercilessly gossiped about and cast out of cliques in her church and in her neighborhood.  We are always going to connect more with some people than others, and sometimes personalities clash.  But this is not what this is.  This is just straight up adult women who still have a high school mentality.  Hey guess what, no one cares if your hair is that cute.  If your friends are that pretty.  Or if you are that important.  Or if your kid is a genius.  No one.  Being that kind of person makes you a fool and an immature Christian, if you are one.   Choosing friendships on the basis of that kind of criteria is so narrow.  People like that have a stunted life experience. 

As I listened to my new friend pour out her loneliness and hurt, I thought about the other people I've encountered like that.  Some of whom I go to church with.  Yup.  And I thought what a sad state of affairs we are in.  The Body of Christ is sick when we choose friendships based on the right group to be seen with.  And then I thought about the ways the Body is functioning in a well and healthy way in the same church and invited her to hang out with some of those women.  Worth comes from within.  Value and friendship is found in loving with an open heart and mind. 

Life is no Nintendo game, choose wisely.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Not too long ago I was really down.  Having a major why am I in this business moment.  Thinking about how many good and great photographers I'm surrounded by.  Comparing myself.  Feeling like crap.

And then today I looked and noticed that I've been published 4 times since January on local, national and international wedding blogs.  Well, looky there.  Time to take a good dose of perspective.  Thank God for my blessings that I forget to count and carry on.  :)

Love & Chocolate

Jon McLaughlin has a line in his song "Smack into You"(which is less hilarious than the title suggests).  It goes like this:

Head down as I watch my feet take turns hitting the ground
eyes shut, I find myself in love racing the Earth
and I'm soaked in your love
and love is right in my path, in my grasp.

Lately, on this journey, as I've been watching my feet hit the ground the theme has been love.  Unconditional.  Necessary.  Practical.  Love is right in my path.  And I find myself surrounded by people who need it.  Who want it.  People I need to pour into.  Where I get tired and think that maybe I can retreat, God taps me on the shoulder and gives me more of them.  The tension for me in this is how, practically to love and give without trying to make myself God in their lives or creating codependent relationships.

And the longer I've been running this race of life and Jesus the more apparent it's become to me as Scripture takes on bones and flesh in the realities of now, that everything boils down to love.  The way we live.  The way we react to hurt.  The way we react to selfishness in ourselves.  The way I make choices about what I do and what I say.  Lately the words of Jesus about love being the greatest commandment, and love your enemies, and be sincere in your love, and all of 1 Cor 13 has opened up and taken on new depths of meaning.  New depths of reality.

It's like you know intellectually that 2+2=4.  But math is not reality until you have 2 pieces of chocolate and really want 2 more and then the joy of having 4 pieces of chocolate hits you.  It all makes sense.  :)

And so if I take love in my grasp and walk it out,  it will require a lot of cross carrying.  Which makes much more sense in this upside down kingdom of God than you would think.  Love according to the world we live in means receiving what makes you feel good.  Love according to the upside down kingdom means giving what is good for the one you love.  Whether it feels good or not.

I wish I had a piece of chocolate. ;)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Tonight I tried margaritas and pizza.  Highly delicious.  I recommend.

Tomorrow I have to go to talk to 10 troubled teenagers about photography.  Yup.  We'll see how that goes.

The older I get the more I realize that Christianity is mostly about loving those who do you wrong and what carrying a cross really means. 

Looking forward to hanging out with Kellie, Wade-O, Drew, and Ryan in a couple Saturdays.  We have yet to decide what hijinks to get into. 

Must find time to get a mani/pedi this week.  And my eyebrows are starting to resemble caterpillars.

Speaking of nail salons, I leave you with this:

Monday, August 1, 2011


firefly wings
dance in the dusky dark
like stars playing hide and seek

and butterfly dreams come
to steal summer nights

falling down to watch the clouds
pass over the world
a moving picture show

strawberries & watermelon
on gingham checkered squares
tag, hide & seek
catch me please, but not too quick

sunny days dreaming
by a blue reflecting pool
& orange/gold sunset painted ocean waves

merge again into firefly nights

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