“Sometimes the only way to return is to go where the winds will take you….

In both good and bad ways, I find myself sitting in a place I never would have anticipated or expected even just a few months ago.  I no longer live in Fountain Square (my first “home” in years), but on the Near East side (which I surprisingly love).  I’ve stepped out of the formality of my intentional community (so no more family dinners).   I’m getting ready to leave the non-profit world for corporate America/desk job.  I live with a cat.

Oh, and I’m single.  Once again.

“…to let go of all you cannot hold onto…”

I’ve mentioned in previous posts my discovery and study of Ayurveda, an ancient methodology out of India that focuses on holistic emotional/mental/physical health.  Well, I found a guy in the city who’s actually studied to be a practitioner.  I got so excited I just scheduled an appointment on a whim, unaware of cost.  Fortunately, he allowed me to have a very short session for a portion of the price.

The timing of the appointment couldn’t have been more perfect, as I was wrestling through the emotional wreck of this last relationship.  In just 15 minutes he hit the nail on the head:

“If he’s gone, then let him go darling.”

I began to cry and he offered me kleenex and the opportunity to lay on the floor and cry if I wanted.  I chose to stay in my chair as he gently and tenderly encouraged me to stop finding my identity in my relationships and focus on becoming whole.

“You need to learn to love yourself.”

I asked him if he could see right through me.

Learning to love myself has been the journey I’ve been on for the last year and a half.  I can (kind of) grasp God’s love for me, and fairly practiced at loving others and, occasionally, allowing them to love me.  But loving myself has been a foreign concept.  I left him knowing my first step would be to end a relationship where I felt abandoned, disrespected and unloved.  I spent the afternoon thinking about how I could learn to love myself, what that practice would look like.  Here’s a rough draft:

1. Mainstream activities–Do one job.  Pick just 1-2 hobbies.  Don’t overcommit to meetings or other engagements.

2. Don’t engage in situations or relationships where I might feel pressured to give more than I can.  A good friend of the family always said, “He who puts the most into a relationship gets the least out.”  This has been true in my experience, especially recently, and I’m exhausted by it.

3. Acknowledge that there are certain foods that will promote my health and others that will seek to destroy it.  This is so much more than a “diet,” it’s about realizing that my body needs certain conditions to thrive.

4. Move–run, do yoga, take walks in nature.  Treat my body with respect.

5. Respect my sexuality–remember that my body is a gift I can choose to give, a precious commodity that someone must earn my respect in order to deserve.  It is not a substitute for real intimacy.

6. Take care of my finances–being financially sound is just as much an aspect of being healthy as anything else.

7. Hold myself with gentleness and tenderness–i have always driven myself to do/be more, but it is important, even crucial, for me to acknowledge that I am spread way too thin.  In the last 2 months, I’ve experienced being hit by a car, fighting with a good friend, moving, changing jobs, going through a break-up…several, if not all, of which are factors for depression.  I need to rest.  I need grace and mercy to be applied like salve to my wounded spirit.  Who can I expect to give this to me, if not me?

Yesterday, the training school presented which brought back a flood of emotions and thoughts.  Training school was and will always be a pivotal point in my life, so it was weird to be sitting there thinking about how it was me on that stage a year ago.  And it was two years ago that I was wrestling with the decision to even do training school.  And then all the things that have happened in those two years, the ways I’ve grown and changed.  Like a kid marking my height on the closet wall, I was surprised to see how I’ve grown.

And how much more growing there is to do.

That was probably the most surprising realization…as amazing and intense as TS was for me, the growing/changing/wondering continue beyond.

On a different note, I ran my 5th 1/2 marathon this past Saturday.  Or rather, ran/walked.  It was my 5th on the 5th of May.  Classic.  Couldn’t have planned that better if I’d tried.  This was also my fourth Mini-Marathon in a row and the one thing I’ve always wanted was a pic of me kissing the bricks on the Speedway; finally got my pic.  The second is of my and my one-time running partner, Megan, after crossing the finish line together.

“…for the hope beyond the blue.”
-lyrics by Josh Garrels 

As I shared with my dear brother, Teddy, last week, I try to remind myself that these times of upheaval and change are when we do the most growing.  That if we desire to closer to the people we were created to be, we should celebrate these times of change.

That does not mean I always do, but living is a process, after all….



goodbye. finally. (part the third)

i promise this will be the last one….

the year of post-training school
ts ended at the beginning of May, and was swiftly followed by a period of what i came to call as “low-grade grief”.  similar to a fever, it seemed to just hang out, always below the surface, exhausting me and causing me to tear up at the slightest provocation.  i went from seeing the same people for 10+ hours a week to seeing them maybe every other week, if that.

it was hard to let go of.

in the summer i began developing the gallery, putting legs on a dream a friend presented me, preparing it to open in October.  open it did, despite the last minute wall painting and art installation that was happening just 24 hours prior.  we had a great opening night, and have continued to grow our influence since then.  the gallery has truly been a rewarding challenge.

i also helped launch a church in October, that actually meets in the gallery, and will begin a teaching rotation with them this coming Sunday.  this means i no longer frequent Common Ground, tho i still consider them my extended family.  the new church has been such a blessing.  it is in my neighborhood, we have discussions each week about what we’re learning or experiencing.  we talk about how to better love our neighbors and what it tangibly means to walk with Christ.  in many ways, it feels very training school-esque.

the year of The Big Table
our year as a community was trying, both on a group level and as individuals.  together we navigated issues of communication, personality conflicts, heartbreaks, issues of vocational choices and callings.  we supported several members as they launched new businesses and others as they considered job changes and another as he went to school full time.  in Sept., Kel and i moved just a block and a half away and our dear sister Ray moved in to what we now lovingly call The Big House (ours is The Cottage).

it has truly been a sacred place for me, a place where i could safely practice loving others well, and learn how to accept love.   we lived a good deal of life together…here is just a sweet sampling of memories:

Ang and i missed the jets flying over for the Indy 500, but G was able to run up to the 3rd floor and see them out the attic window.  Ang and i were pretty disappointed and gave G a hard time.  Ang must have indicated that she was more upset because the next thing i saw was G following her through the house with a video of jets flying on his computer.

for some reason i was adamant about getting Kari a pinata for her birthday.  it was a blue dinosaur that we hung in the doorway b/w the dining room and kitchen; we used a broom for the bat.  after several divets in the wall, a broken broom handle, and a busted blue dinosaur, we had some good youtube videos.

every week we had family dinner, and those were filled with so much food and laughter.  i remember one of our first outside on the back deck…Kel was in charge.  she set the table with sweet little napkins and broke out a bottle of wine.  when we sat down, she lit a candle and dedicated the meal to her grandfather who had passed away just a couple days before.  i remember feeling so grateful for our abundance.

every first Tuesday, some local DJ’s host “Let Go,” a giant trendy-hipster dance party at a nearby pub.  Kel, Teddy and i have made a habit of biking over and dancing our hearts out.

and then all the other little moments, smoking cloves and watching the city move, traveling by megabus, plane, train, and car all over the county (and beyond), visiting the Sun King tasting room, biking all over the city as the days grew longer and longer, having tea on the front porch, getting lost with the girls trying to find the camping spot, prepping Ashley to move to Tijuana, dance parties in the kitchen.  life here is indeed rich and full.

2011 was  a good year; now here’s to 2012, which is already promising to be challenging, and beautiful, and so…alive.

goodbye. finally. (cont)

the year of training school
it’s an understatement to say that the season of training school rocked my world.  God really used it to heal forgotten wounds, stir up and expose old patterns, teach me about love and community.  but most importantly, i got to know God on a much deeper level and know myself.

in that process, i discovered a way that i am wired/something i am called to do with my life: pastor.  we were in Tijuana almost this time last year.  at the time i was intent of doing “free writes” in the morning, which essentially means writing first thing in the morning, without thought of editing or content, for 3 full pages.  just writing stream-of-consciousness, whatever comes out.  as i did this, i wrote, “maybe i’m called to pastor.”

i freaked out initially, but kept writing.  we prayed that morning as a group, preparing to visit the city built on an old dump.  i hesitantly approached Larry afterwards, and told him of my revelation.

“we will continue to push into this over time,” he said slowly.  “but my initial response is ‘absolutely.'”  his response came as a deeper shock, and i spent my time walking through the dump, deep in thought and reflection as God brought scene after scene to mind, gently prodding, “that was pastoring….and that, that was also pastoring.”  all these giftings i thought i had–wise counsel, writing, teaching–they culminated in the concept of pastoring.

i wasn’t immediately ready to accept it, tho.  i didn’t want to be put into a box, to be immediately dismissed as a children’s or women’s pastor (not that there is anything wrong with either of those callings, it just wasn’t fully me).  through the rest of our journey together, Larry prodded and pushed.  at the slightest provocation, he would whisper, “that’s how a pastor would respond” or “that’s what a pastor would say.”  he annoyed the crap out of me, truth be told, but eventually i came to treasure how he pushed me to accept this gift.

we spent the late winter and spring together, pushing into the hurt of broken relationships, travelling to Toronto, learning to put fear and anger aside for the sake of loving someone well.  it was a fruitful and beautiful time for us a group and as individuals.

Taco night in Tijuana

BJ, me, Ashley after ladies retreat in Brown County

Wintry 24-hour excursion to Toronto

Last trip to Toronto, by way of upstate New York and a team-building ropes course.

in the next post, i will talk about life post-training school…whew.  i’m beginning to realize just how full and impactful this last year was for me.  thanks for hanging on for the ride!

28, and counting.

one of the housemates and i have birthdays within 10 days of each other, so we decided to have a mass co-birthday party on Monday.  we ended up extending the invite to friends of our housemates as well.  all were welcome.

i spent the majority of the day on the porch, lounging with new friends and old, drinking beers and playing corn hole.  a perfect day.

one thing that really struck me as i looked around was the variety of people from different seasons in my life.  some members of my family came early, as well as friends from college, and then more recently made friends.  many of these people i didn’t know this time last year, but they have come to have special places in my heart.  what a difference a year makes.

as is tradition on my birthday, i like to do a brief reflection of the last year as i work to embrace “28.”  so, here goes:

june 2010
i celebrated this birthday with a surprise visit from my mom and sister and a pedicure, then slow danced with a boy i thought might become my future.  my Uncle Wade died mid-month, which facilitated a very quick road trip to Memphis.

july 2010
i wrestled to accept training school and prepared to move.  i moved to FSQ and the aforementioned boy and i broke up.  i ended the month completely crushed.

august 2010
spent a great part of the month still recovering from the break-up, eventually coming to the conclusion that it was actually a really good thing for both of us.  we met for coffee, and for the first time ever, i became friends again with an ex.  end of the month saw me taking my first road trip to Canada, and thus beginning my epic journey through training school.

september 2010
i confessed my feelings for a new boy, road bikes to broad ripple, navigated family members who didn’t agree with my decision to pursue training school, and felt, over and over again, that i might jump ship.  this was a hard month, in many ways.

october 2010
went primitive camping for the first time, both with my house and with TS, which ended up being amazing.

november 2010
second trip to Toronto equaled amazingness.  ran the Drumstick Dash with my housemates and planned our first real Thanksgiving dinner for the house and guests.  rode bikes in the bitter cold to the Circle for the tree lighting and got to meet Mayor Ballard.

december 2010
went to Chi-town for a day with class, took the train and megabus and had a beautiful day.  had a car accident mid-month, spun out on the interstate across three lanes of traffic and hid the wall.  amazingly drove away with very little damage.  just before Christmas got into a fight with a good friend from TS.  celebrated Christmas morning in the quiet of my house, with Firecrackers from England.

january 2011
started the New Year off with a horrible hang-over, both physical and emotional.  went to Tijuana with a lot of weight and some relational drama in our group.  reconciled a realationship.  ate amazing food.  played soccer with awesome kids.  realized a calling to pastor, in some way, somewhere.

february 2011
i don’t remember much about this month honestly.

march 2011
i really began to anticipate Ash Wednesday and the Lent/Easter season.  decided to clear my schedule to spend more still time with God and my house family.  anticipating the end of TS really began to weigh on me emotionally and mentally, as i prayed and waited for God to provide a vision of the path i should take.

april 2011
God began to open doors for me, things that i had barely uttered to others, and i began to feel excited about the next steps.  took a trip at the end to New York and Toronto, camped under the stars, saw Niagara Falls.

may 2011
began the transition from my “job” to other projects.  ended TS.  presented at church and got affirmation for the pastoral calling.  began to share my car and picked out a road bike.

which brings us to today.  i’ve already had breakfast in bed made by my roommate, went on a nice run, got a call from my beautiful nieces telling me happy birthday (thanks L. and A.!), and had a cupcake with coffee.  i don’t know what 28 holds, but i am certainly more comfortable with an uncertain future, knowing i have a good God who loves me, family to support me and friends as close as family.

transition and reflections

i have to apologize for not writing for some time.  a good friend follows my blog and can always tell that something is going on when i don’t post for a period of time.  i tend to get bogged down by things and writing, although one of the most life-giving practices i have, tends to get put on the backburner.

i am definitely in a time of transition…class has ended officially, i am taking on new responsibilities and really digging into a coffee shop i’ve been developing a relationship with, looking forward to developing an art gallery with them that will open in the fall, and navigating some pretty serious health issues with my mom.

transitions are always challenging in their very nature…it is so much more than simply moving from one thing to the next.  it is risky, usually, as you learn to let go of something you’ve outgrown; scary as you learn to embrace something a bit bigger, a bit more challenging, and crazy unknown; slightly melancholy as you reflect on what’s being left behind; challenging as you work to stay in the moment whilst all this is swirling around.

this is where i find myself.

we talked at church a couple weeks ago about our training school experience.  it was nearly impossible to sum up 9 months of journeying together, the relational challenges and the subtle but powerful movements of God.  but still, as we sat together and laughed about our stories and lamented on the end, i felt such a swell of pride and love and joy in my heart.  these nine people had become my family, had been gentle but firm mirrors for things both good and bad that they saw in my life.

it’s time for change, for something fresh and new, i can fully acknowledge that.  but man, will i miss walking so closely with these beautiful people.

the next steps are unknown to me, tho i know they are ordered by the Lord.  in the fall, i partnered with the local coffee shop, Calvin Fletcher’s, to do their marketing and communications.  they are a non-profit, dedicated to supporting other fledgling non-profits by donating all their tips.

i quickly fell in love.

so i volunteered my services and began to pray that maybe this could be a place that i would invest more of my time and energies.  just about a month ago, the owner asked if i would be interested in helping to organize and manage the gallery he plans to open in the fall.

it has been incredibly risky to let go of the security of my current job, but i feel God is calling me to a place where i can be more fully alive and present.

in the midst of all this drops some pretty serious health issues that my mom is experiencing.  they did a biopsy on a mass a couple months ago in a very sensitive, very private female place that had cancerous cells.  yesterday, she had surgery to remove the area and send the tissues off to be tested by a pathology lab.

as the oldest sibling, i have been having trouble knowing just how to support my mom in this time.  there is no real family to speak of, and a small support group of friends, but for the most part and the majority of the time, it will be just me and my sister.

but God was so good to us yesterday.  she went back nearly an hour ahead of schedule and within about 2 hours, was coming out of the anaesthesia and we were all with her, laughing and joking about the silly nonsense we McNabb women think is funny.

we just went for a drive to get her out of the house and into fresh air.  we cruised the wooded roads of the Fishers/Geist area, Starbucks in hand, listening/singing to America’s greatest hits.  it was a sweet moment, and considering the circumstances, one i am even more grateful for.

with all this going on, i am so thankful for a God who is becoming my strength.  i have wonderful people checking up on and praying for me and my family.  i feel supported and loved in such deep ways that i am occasionally moved to tears.

as i was leaving the track during the Mini Marathon a couple weeks ago, the song “Good Life” by OneRepublic came on my iPod.  some of the lyrics: this has gotta be the good life…tell me, what is there to complain about?  it defined that race to me, and is defining life for me now.  even with everything: the fear, the worry, the feelings of utter helplessness and potential for great loss…still, this has gotta be the good life.

as a friend recently reminded me, “God is right on time.  God is so good.”

(so there you go, A.  there’s your update.  love you, and thank you for all calls to check in on me, and for your friendship these 20 or so years.)

ladies and gentleman, Nolan Sells….

“i don’t believe that anyone who questions God or Christianity is an apostate or doing the work of Satan. if Jesus intended for right-thinking to be the path to heaven then He wouldn’t have spoken in parables. the basic principles of Christianity are obvious because Jesus made them obvious–everything else is available for interpretation.

what frustrates me in all this is the idea that Christians feel that it is necessary to call out other Christians when they have any disagreements, even over the most trivial of points. it is as if they have to try to prove Christ wrong when He says “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” i see this “controversy” as the foot in the body of Christ calling out the hand for having a different function. so what if rob bell is a universalist? so what if the pastor in the video from whatever church isn’t? it doesn’t matter.

it will not be our ability to provide answers to the tough questions of life or to provide sound theological reasoning that will set us apart as followers of Christ but our unity. the only way to have unity is to love each other despite and because of our differences, which is basically as Christ loves us.

love does win.”

above all else, unity.

the Scriptures are rife with pleas from Christ and the apostles, Paul especially, to put down arms and embrace unity.

it’s incredible to me, then, that disunity, division and squabbling are key characteristics of the American church.  the Baptists are crucifying the Pentecostals for speaking in tongues, and the Catholics shouldn’t be baptising at birth and the Lutherans and Wesleyans are ok with women pastors, while everyone else seems to be stuck in the 1950’s.  and then there’s the “non-denominational” church, which really doesn’t mean much except that they don’t pay denominational fees.  but they reserve the right to their judgments, thank you very much.  the Driscoll-disciples are burning Rob Bell books and we’re using the pulpit to condemn God’s creation. 

if one were to completely pull back from the picture and look, they would see a world in chaos and a church in even greater conflict.  Christ came to continue God’s vision of redemption and reconciliation, and all we’re doing with it is using his name to create more discord.

do you still believe that God is really bigger than the dispute? 

do you believe that it’s really not our job to figure out who’s “right” and “wrong,” but that He can do that for us?

do you believe in a mysterious God who can’t be quite figured out?

do you believe that Jesus called us to navigate and discuss our differences, but ultimately to embrace our brothers and sisters and their unique perspectives on God and the world?

i truly desire to answer yes to all these questions, but find my pride, arrogance, tendency toward dissonance, extreme value of independance constantly getting in the way.  i’m not convinced Christ calls me to do it perfectly always, but i’m pretty sure He called me to walk with Him.  and in doing so, i have to acknowledge His insistence that we love each other as we love ourselves, as He loves us.