Blog Hopper

It seems that as I discover new areas of personal passion in my life I start a new blog, hoping to focus on the new venture I’m involved in undertaking. In my wake I apparently leave behind ghost blogs that linger on a half-finished sentence of a former endeavor.

This blog appears to be an example of that. Maybe I’ll gut this site and make use of it again one day. In the meantime, I’m actually now located on Blogspot at A Tribe of Two. Come check it out and make yourself at home!

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There I am continuing my efforts of living and writing bravely. Hopefully still leaving things Not Untold. Topics include family, marriage, psychology, personal growth, health, what books I’m reading, and more.

My current passions are:

  • Psychology
  • Birth
  • Children & Childhood
  • Trauma
  • Connection & Relationships
  • Marriage
  • Personal Growth
  • Yoga
  • Aerial Arts
  • Getting Healthy
  • Colorado Living

and…

  • my cats…
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A True Friend Speaks Truth

Donald Miller: How You Can Change Your Friends With A Few Words (Scary Close)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJr1IE1wJAQ



I hate to say this, and I know it may come as a huge blow to some of you who know me but I am, in fact, imperfect.

I am as human as they come.

I only put it this way because anyone who knows me, who is in relationship with me, knows how difficult it is to be in relationship with me. The mistake I have made for so long is thinking that I’m harder to love than anyone else. I’m not that special. What has been hard is that I’m terribly transparent. If I feel it, you’re going to see it. I can tell you, not everyone appreciates this.

My siblings each had a different experience growing up. My oldest brother is ten years older than me and is, on paper, my cousin. As is my sister, twelve years my senior. My half-brother, Robert, is the closest it gets in blood. We all spent our early years in the same household. We heard the same arguments take place, loved the same pets, played basketball on the same hoop and laughed at the same films. We ran to the same table for dinner and climbed the same trees. However, each of our experiences were dramatically different, as different as we each are from one another. The single most dividing difference for me was being placed in foster care. Not removed from the home but returned to State’s custody like a defective product that just wouldn’t work right.

There’s this need in me to understand what happened to my siblings after I had gone away. How had our toxic environment impressed upon their hearts and their lives? Robert and I, being the youngest and only three years apart, (from my perspective) got the worst of it. Even saying that, I just don’t know, though. I see where my sister is right now, I’ve heard some of her deepest sadness, and I can’t actually say for sure whether it was Robert and I who saw the worst from our parent’s brokenness.
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Speaking from what I do know, my own experience, adolescence was hard and it was ugly and it was messy. My saving grace was the few kind interactions I met along the way–through multiple “homes” and varying situations. Sometimes, it was a case-worker who was there for 6 months, with a simple look of, “I see how hard this is, it’s not fair and I am sorry” before it was on to the next.

Sometimes, it was an attorney representative with a thoughtful book during a rare visit (usually under the worst of circumstances), his indifference to the destruction I created all around me and his consistency to see me an individual who possessed the ability to overcome.  .

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Sometimes, it was a pastor’s wife who always took my phone call or answered her door.

Sometimes, it was a teacher at a new school who took notice and offered a few words of encouragement at the end of a class.

Other times, it was a friend who said enough is enough and made the hard call, pouring a mighty love at a difficult situation like a fist– unwilling to tolerate the abuse or negligence.

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But just as there were a handful of these saints in disguise, outnumbering the angels were those who would diminish you to almost nothing with just a look or a word or an action– at times determining your fate with just the stroke of a pen. Effortless.

The true redemption arrived when I was fourteen, already accepting what the world had begun writing as my life’s script. I played the part well, coming to perfect the role and wearing the costume as my new identity.

What separates my experience most, now, from that of my siblings is having had a woman like Kelli in my life.

Each of us kids got through in our own ways and each of us deals with our own hurts and triggers and shortcomings to this day–probably always will to some degree. But who I am today, whatever goodness I amount to in my life or get to be a part of, none of it happens without Kelli, Kevin or those other amazing people. Every time I am presented with a new door I have to stop before entering, hug the person next to me and say thank you. Even if it’s going to be the last time I see them or our relationship is going to change forever. It’s worth turning that knob and crossing through. It is because of their love and dedication that I now have what I need to make that door a possibility, a reality. I owe it to them to see where it leads and to never forget to say thank you.

Now, I get to the Donald Miller video clip and to my point in drawing upon my humanness. Still to this day, I am making mistakes. I do things now that my future self will look back on and grieve, shaking her head and wondering why I ever…

But I am already there. I am already her. I look back and I grieve for what was done, what was left undone and the actions I took, the decisions I made. We could sit and compare but when you grieve over the shame of your past it doesn’t matter if the next person says they’ve done worse, or just as bad, or fidget uncomfortably, having never come close to the horrors of your choices. At the end of the day, you are left with yourself and you tear yourself apart. We reduce ourselves to bad people who deserve for bad things to happen to.

We all, to some degree or another, arrive at those moments in life where we just beat ourselves up. We all, in those moments, need someone who is willing to be the crack into our darkest places, wedging a gap where the light can begin to come through and consume the lies.

God places these people in our lives.

I was fortunate to have been given Kelli to reinforce that I am a good, kind and gentle person, with great depth and capacity for empathy and understanding.

What makes Kelli such a consistent bringer of light is her relationship with the Lord. Without a doubt.

I have known beautiful, amazing secular people but none hold the immoveable, unfailing love I have experienced with this gorgeous woman of Christ.

I can say this with complete conviction because I have seen her human parts, too. She has let me see those very real pieces. I have watched her struggle as a person, grasping for what the right thing is to do in a particular situation or to be filled with anger or pride. The difference is that wrestling with life, with the Lord, with relationships– out of love and with the determination to do what is right. Very rarely does she not arrive in that space necessary to be who God has called her to be.

So, now, when I do something I know is wrong or selfish, I can more easily forgive myself and move on because I can say, “Yes, I had a moment of selfishness. No, it was not okay and, no, I do not want to be a selfish person” and I can leave it at that.

I don’t have to say that because I had a moment of weakness I am a weak person.

I don’t have to say that because I did something bad I am bad

It is a strength and skill I began to learn with Kelli.
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While my upbringing was made up of broken pieces, I was so incredibly fortunate that it paved a wonky little path to people like Kelli and now Kevin.

God says that man is to one day leave his mother and his father and to become one with his wife.

I have left the covering I found in Kelli and have been united with Kevin. Together, we get to be the wedge, bringing light into each other’s darkest places. I am continually blown away by the opportunities that arrive for me to speak truth into Kevin’s life and the many “opportunities” for him to speak truth into mine. It’s scary, sometimes it doesn’t go perfectly. Sometimes, we have to come back and try again but Kevin is always ready, choosing love before judgement and growth before defeat. I know that we will only grow to be a stronger, single force as we mature, and choose to seek Christ’s vision for our life.

View More: http://lizajamesphotography.pass.us/stephaniekevin

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I worry for the people I know who never had a healthy, relentless, affirming, compassionate person in their life to speak truth.

It breaks my heart to watch them battle with themselves and the people they love because they cannot see their worth. They stir up the waters that other, unimportant people surrounded them with and they create a storm of those waters.

I still do this and I know it but the pain and injustice of watching those I love working though it is unbearable.

Tough love won’t always suffice when you are warring in those places.

It takes our loving, repetitive and reaffirming words:

“It’s not your fault”

“It’s not your fault”

“It’s not your fault”

“It’s not your fault”

“You’re good at relationships”

 “You’re good at relationships”

“You’re good at relationships”

“You’re good at relationships”

“You’re doing a great job”

“You’re doing a great job”

“You’re doing a great job”

“You’re doing a great job”

“You are a good person”

“You are a good person”

…And then for us to show up as often as we possibly can.

That affirmation is what will withstand human error during its most destructive and ugliest appearances.

A true friend speaks truth.

In Memory With Great Love

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It absolutely breaks my heart to share that our very, very dearly loved Moab is no longer with us.

I grew up with pets, my parents and siblings always had a deep love for animals. I grew up loving them, too. I sometimes joke that I think I love my animal pals more than any human. Yes, I’m one of those.
(So prepare yourself for a long, gushy account of her life and impact on our lives and hearts)

Our cats, our dogs, they are very much a part of our families.

I have always longed for my own cat. My upbringing was quite tumultuous and so this longing was never fulfilled.

Moab was my first.

Kevin and I found her, very spontaneously, in a parking lot in Texas as a kitten. Unknown to me, Kevin already had plans of getting me a kitten for Christmas that year.

I gasped when I first saw her and immediately turned to Kevin with a pleading expression. Very little begging was necessary as Kevin’s intentions were already in alignment and so we took her home that very day.

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We knew we would name her Moab right away, for personal reasons, and she was welcomed into the family!

Having forgotten about a prior commitment, in all the excitement, the first three weeks of her life were a little busy. We were helping Kevin’s family restore a rental property they had purchased in Topeka, KS and staying with Kevin’s brother and sister-in-law in Independence, MO for three weeks. This meant a long drive to MO and several trips back and forth to KS. Being still very small, Moab slept a great deal with only the occasional crazy burst of energy.

This would look like occasional adorable hopping across the slippery, wooden floors, attacking the sheets about our feet and teasing the dog.

Finally, we returned to Texas and settled back at home with our little MoMo.
Right away we could tell she was a wild one. She loved to climb and play.

This need only seemed to grow as she grew and became more curious.

Having grown up with outdoor cats my whole life, I was used to letting them in and out of the neighborhood and admiring the neighbor cats who came over now and then to check things out. How Max or Abby, Garfield, or Roman was doing was a happy, casual exchange among neighbors.

So, once Moab grew big enough to not appear as prey to birds, we began exposing her to the great outdoors. First she was only allowed out while we were out and over time, she was given free-roam over the property. Since we were living on 40 acres in the country, my only real concern was coyotes at night and therefore Moab came in every evening.

Moab loved to climb the big oak tree and even the rafters of the house we built next door, last summer. She enjoyed pouncing on the tall grass lining the walkway and prowling the field, stalking birds and grasshoppers.

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When she wasn’t outside, she was inside with us–which was most of the time. She loved being held, walked around at a new height to see everything from a new perspective. When in an especially loving mood, she would rest her head on your shoulder, giving you a little snuggle. Should you reach your head down to hers to return some affection, you could count on a little, tender head-bump.

We loved having her life in our home, moving about as she wished and interacting with everyone who passed through.

Then, our long anticipated move to Colorado had finally arrived. The discussion of what to do with Moab came up. The idea of leaving her behind with Kevin’s parents was suggested since our employment and living arrangements had not been established in Colorado.

I insisted that she was to make the trip down with us, as family.

It wasn’t easy but we all got to Colorado in one piece. We even found a house to rent and moved in! Moab settled in pretty quickly and very soon won the hearts of our house-mates.

Again, the conversation around whether to let her out or not came up. For the first couple of weeks, we thought we might transition her into becoming an indoor cat. However, it was clear that she missed her outdoor adventures. So, we caved. We began letting her out and picking back up our old routine of calling for her and rewarding her when she came running home. All seemed well.

But we are no longer in the country and the many streets had me nervous. I began having her inside as much as possible. When she seemed to get board, we bought her a cat-tree and several new toys, hoping to enrich her indoor time. Kevin and I were happy to find that a cat-door was already installed here at the house. Due to cold days and so much snow, we would leave the door open so Moab could easily return home when she was ready.

The night before last we had left and returned home to find she still and not come back. When it started to get dark, we went outside and called her name. I never liked for her to be out after dark. She didn’t come. I was nervous and slept in the living room, hoping for her to come back in through the cat-door. This wasn’t the first time she had gotten out in the evening, although that rarely was the case. She always came back home late in the night or early in the morning when this did happen.

So, I waited hoping it would be the same. Morning came and soon we were though our day and still no Moab. Kevin made flyers and posted them around the neighborhood, I made a report. By the time it was again getting dark, I texted some family with cats and asked if their pets ever stayed out for multiple days at a time. I was assured that they had definitely experienced this but that their furry family always returned home. I felt just a little better and went to sleep.

This morning, Kevin received a call from someone who had seen our flyer.

Kevin came into the room and I could tell right away something was wrong. He told me someone had called about Moab. Even though everything in the situation was screaming for me to prepare myself for the worst news, for just one moment, I still hoped maybe that person had called to say that he or she had found our MoMo and was available to return her home. When Kevin shared where she had been found my heart just broke.

After, hours of crying (which have yet to stop…to my embarrassment, but it can’t be helped), I decided to take to my blog. This is because I cannot stand to tell my house-mates what happened and hear how very sorry they are or text my family, all so very far away, and inform them of our terrible news.

But I feel so much. I always have. It’s often been one of the very most difficult realities about residing in my own body. Every emotion hits me like a ton of bricks.

It needs transference. I need to get it out or I’ll remain an embarrassing, miserable, depressive mess.

I didn’t know what I would say in beginning this post or how much I would share but as I was writing I just had to go from beginning to end.

And now that I have arrived with having to state that this morning Moab ceased to be with us, my hope is that this entry stands as encouragement to protect your animal family. I certainly wasn’t a perfect pet owner but I tried to do my best. Now that I have experienced losing a pet for the first time in my entire life, in the very worst imaginable way that I never thought I would ever have to, I would do things differently.

Namely, I would not allow any future cat out, unsupervised. To some, this seems cruel, unnecessary, and over the top.

But I am not a cool, casual animal lover. My pets are my family. I had to bury my cat today and see what state she was in when she died and, however great a life she had, I hate that she died that way. I hate that today or yesterday was her last day, at only just over a year old. I hate that she was alone and that she was killed and her body was left out in the cold until found.

These things could have been better prevented and I carry so much guilt today that I had to learn the hard way.

So I share my experience in hope that you learn from it. Not all outdoor cats meet the end Moab did but it’s the risk we take when we let them roam, unaccounted for.

My heart is broken.

If you love your pet as I have loved Moab then I felt that I should share.

We love you Moab

I’m sorry if I could have or should have done a better job. I hope you enjoyed your life here with us.

Be at peace.

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Snow Day!

Just briefly, I have to share some snow with you.
I have heard some here say that there’s been less snow this year than those past but coming from Oregon and then a year in Texas, it’s been unreal.
The snow will start in the night, only seen up in the street lights from a window. I wake up and the ground is blanketed. Unusual grey skies are sustained as the snow continues to fall, building in heaps on everything in sight. telephone wires, evergreen trees and our cars.

Without a break, the flurries just continue. All. Day. Long. Sometimes the flakes slow to a barely-there-decent; then, before you know it, it’s pouring giant white clumps, determined to impress.

By the next day, the sun is bright, the skies are a rejoicing shade of blue and everything, everywhere, is soft, white and untouched.
It’s sacred.

Especially here in the neighborhood where no cars have yet to disturb the scene.
Kids laugh, Moab hunts leaves beneath the snow and neighbors shovel their sidewalks.

Here’s a snow day for you:

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Give Thanks

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Well, it’s about time for an update, don’t you think?! Mine and Kevin’s dream of saying goodbye to the Pacific Northwest began about two years ago as we started to imagine an extended future together and the possibilities for new adventures. We didn’t know where we would want to go but the conversation was alive and growing quickly. We tossed around ideas and shared with one another the qualities we felt were important to our ideal communities. A lively church, outdoor adventures to be had, four seasons and sunshine! Being an Oregon native, that last one was crucial. Kevin used to joke that he never met anyone who loved sunshine so much. All my fellow Oregonians will understand when I describe the first sunny day after a long streak of grey skies and rain being our most productive day in that whole while. You feel like it’s an atrocity if you don’t or are unable to make use of the sunny day by taking a hike in the gorge or floating down the river. Heck, go sit in a city park on a blanket and read all day. We don’t care what you do but, for all that is good, do not stay in and waste the day.

With this important point in mind, Kevin suggested Colorado– not compromising seasons, Colorado was the clear choice. And so, the saving began!

It’s been two years but we can excitedly tell you that we have finally arrived! We left the Texas living we had grown fond of on the first day of winter and tearfully hugged our family goodbye. Then, we set out for Arizona to visit my family for Christmas. Two days later, we arrived at our RV park in Colorado Springs, as planned. For fairly cheap we received a heated cabin, shower and toilet facilities and on-site and laundry. As we had not yet found jobs, we hit the pavement hard that first week.

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Within that first week, we had heard from family friends who graciously offered their home to us and we also secured one job! Not only that but before long we found an amazing house of Christian guys on Craigslist who embraced us, no question. The timing and the circumstances were so what we needed that there was no denying the covering of provision from our Daddy above. I won’t glamorize our experience (having the suspension of our car completely give out on our very first day in town, that freezing first night when the snow was coming down and the heater didn’t work, or the minor traffic oopses sustained) but never were we given the opportunity to lose heart for our needs were met every time. His faithfulness, despite our changing moods and shifting affections is astounding. We are so fortunate to have the love of someone so relentless in His devotion.

Mainly, I write this now to say thank you to those who supported us. Our savings began in a wine jug and on our wedding day we were overwhelmed by the increase in finances found in that small jar. With further outpouring of love and generosity and continual hard work on our behalf, we met our goal and made it here safely. Thank you for caring about our journey and for choosing to be a part of it. We look up, everyday, at those great blue mountains that tower over the city and cannot believe the great blessing we get to live out. Our prayer is that we continue to be obedient to what Christ would have us do here and never abandon our thankful spirit– however hard things sometimes are or uncertain. We believe we were brought here for a reason and now that we are here, we hope to live each day with intention and forgive ourselves and each other on those days we forget.

We give thanks to our Father and our community. Thank you.

Keep checking back to find out the ways in which we fill our days, here in The Springs, the new dreams we dream and adventures we’re seeking and goals we are setting! Should be exciting!

Love & Light to you.

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Learning to Listen

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I’ll be the first to confess that I don’t handle change very well. God knows, I’ve had my share of change but it’s never been something I’ve gotten friendly with. I love new adventures, day-dreaming and stirring up the next exciting thing. It’s just that once things settle down (you know, you’ve moved and now it’s time for the routine) I get pessimistic and restless. Actually, backing up, usually the very moment I step into that new adventure I have that realization of, “Lord, what did I just do?” I become small, not so brave. I look inward and fear my tray of offerings is too shallow. That’s when I start looking for my support people and an exit strategy. Sometimes I chill out and settle in. Other times I make another change.

Over the years the Lord has said, “slow down.” Often, placing loving, tender and patient souls dear to my heart and vital in my life to be the daily reminders of that encouragement. It’s in that in-between space where the Lord likes to do His tending to and cultivating. And I have been a slow bloomer. Terrified of my shape and textures and colors. Comparing my bud to the soft petals and vibrant colors all around me. In my heart I don’t measure up. I put my relationship with Christ on hold until I feel like I’ve reach the appropriate level of growth to walk with Him. But I’m learning to listen. 

I hear that there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to an adventure heart. There is no shame in being timid of those very adventures I dream up.

I know longings of my heart which include intimate relationships, novelty, usefulness, meaning, creativity, and travel. I know they are gifts from my Father.

Growth will bring peace, patience, confidence, one-mindedness, kindness and more I am sure. This takes time, listening for what His will is in my life and, now, for the life my husband and I are creating, together. 

Our next step is Colorado. We are saving up, praying about it and waiting to hear when the right time will be. In the mean-time, I feel like that old travel-bug is stirring up in me ideas of Peacecorps or YWAM. These have been on my heart and mind. I will be talking with the Lord about this and sharing my ideas with my husband, listening for what desires of his own he might have. Above all, we desire to be obedient in all our decisions. My emotional, reactive self makes this a huge challenge but I pray obedience and kindness over my spirit. 

I’ll keep you posted on new findings and happenings!

Until then, 

Love & Light to you!

 

A condition/the condition

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I remember listening to this..probably years ago, now…and was so glad to hear someone else discuss anxiety and depression and mental illness as not a condition to treat and stigmatize but as a very real part of the human condition, the human experience. That mental illness is a symptom of greater internal issues and not the source. You are not simply defective or incomplete. There’s cause for the misery you feel or the lack of motivation and enthusiasm for life. The anxiety that influences those decisions and reactions you later have to apologize for. In addition, It’s time we stop putting on the face with one another that isolates our fellow peers, and friends, loved ones and even strangers. That face that says, “I don’t know your struggles, I’ve never experienced that, I’m not weird, I’m stable and you are alone.”

I have a growing list of books on my bedside (floor) table and one I absolutely will be adding is John Mark Comer’s first book titled My Name is Hope: Anxiety, depression and Life After Melancholy.

If you have felt pushed to ingest medication “to balance out” all the many things that are “wrong” with you or have felt shocked by the staggering statistics that state how medicated our country is then I would encourage you to read this book–if for no other reason then a starting point in which you begin to hear that you are not alone.

Visit the link below for the My Name is Hope| Series:

http://www.ajesuschurch.org/my-name-is-hope-series/?sermon_id=875