A Christmas Love Story

love-winsThis year, Kent and I decided not to do Christmas gifts for each other since we had just spent a bunch of money doing several projects around the house. Instead, we each wrote something for the other. And now lovelies, I would like to share our words for each other with you.

From me to Kent – You make me want to:

You make me want to
Sit in the dark and stare at the stars
Go dancing late into the night
Or Drive up the coast in a rented convertible
See the scenes from far off lands
Eat fine dinners from trucks or linens
And feel the sand between my toes
One look at you and I’m off to Paris
Or stuck in a London fog
You are like the most arresting lyrics, the most beautiful picture,
the most thought provoking article.

Somehow I don’t know how to describe you but I must try

You are like a rainforest downpour
or the sprinkles in the desert on a sunny day…
You are rare and you make me want to dance
Or stop and lay in the grass and stare at the clouds

You are

That thing I can’t describe from that violinist whose music stole my breath.
The experience of a new kind of delicious taste or sound or feeling  that I have never experienced before.
You are exhilarating like a walk in San Francisco or New York City
You are calming like dinner on the beach at sunset

You are

Like a dream I wish I could fall back into even though I can’t remember exactly what happened
when I can still remember the feeling and I want that same lightning to flash again;
Like the first time you kissed me
Like the way that you need me
Like the sound of your voice when you say my name

I like

The way my food is better and my laugh is longer and my faith is stronger because you exist
The way Nate Ruess sings even better when you stand beside me.
Songs and singers ring truer because they sing about you and I even though they don’t know our names.
The way you are exactly the same yet nothing like the man I married.
You are somehow more, much more than the sum of your parts and your years and my memories and the present moment.
I like that together we are much more than all of me + all of you

You are

My happiest place on earth
My Disney World and my swim up in Puerto Vallarta.
My Vegas and my rural Ohio
My Newport Beach and my Washington DC
My trip to Europe and my Hawaiian vacation
My hometown and my favorite getaway
You are the part of me that is good at basketball and hates coconut
You are the part of me that does the things I never could
That part that makes me more than I knew I could be
I love that because of you I have become more me and because of me you have become more you.

I like

How when I look at you, I see it all
Everything we have ever done and all that makes us who we are, heartbreaking, ecstatic, melancholy, joyful, mundane, content,
boring and spectacular…
It is somehow all more real,
This life, my life because I found you.
I love how even at the end of all this I still struggle to find the right words that will say it all but I can’t find them.
You cannot be contained in mere words; you who are made of stardust.

You are simply too majestic for that.

From Kent to me –  How long have I known you?

How long have I known you?
How long have you stayed?
How long have I annoyed you?
How much have you paid?

For my heartache, my selfishness, my pain and my pride?

No matter the words, no matter the deeds
No matter the hurts, no matter the pleas
You stayed by my side

What makes you love so?
What makes you see?
What makes you so sure?
That there’s beauty beneath?

All of the layers
All of this junk
All of this pain
Everything, so .. fucked .. up

About me
About my mind
About my words
About my heart

This glimmer of beauty
That you see beneath
I hear it too
Screaming to be released

I am in here
I really am
Is there anyone who hears me?
Anyone to understand?

And then
In that moment when all seems lost
When no one answers
And no one is willing to pay the cost

When all any one sees
Is the ugliness and pride
You look down deep in my heart
I mean way, way down inside

And you see
You see
You see all the guts and intestines and muscles and blood

You see cancerous cells obstructing the path
But you see past it all
You see way down inside
And you pull out the best of me

As I writhe in pain
As I fight you because it hurts; it hurts; it hurts so deeply
You stand
You stay
You love

Sometimes it’s impossible to believe
That someone could love me so, deeply; so completely
As they see the infected flesh
As they smell the rancid guts
As they endure the waging war
And yet you do

You reach right in
You pull the goodness out into the light
You don’t ignore my pain; you feel it with me
You endure the sting of my decaying flesh, with me
You don’t ignore the putridness, you smell it, too
But you persist

You pull
You never shrink back
You never give up
You stand, and love
You wage a war
And then, my beauty arises
Even love unfolds

And there I stand

Here, I stand
Who am I?
How did I get here?
I am now a man
Perfect? Oh no.
Better? Oh yes.

Only you know the real me
Only you have endured
Only you have really believed
Only you are a part of me
Only you have truly loved me

Just as I am
I am yours
All of me
Just as I am
You have loved me

You saved me
You made me believe
You are saving me
I will always be yours

And now my new year’s wish for all of you…

I hope your holidays were beautiful and that your new year brings you joy unspeakable.
I hope you find someone who learns the words to your sad and your happy songs and then sings with you.
I pray you will know the all surpassing love of Jesus.
I trust that you will learn new things, spread joy and practice deliberate acts of kindness.
And in the end I pray that 2014 leaves you a better version of yourself…
Happier, healthier, more generous, more satisfied, more humble, more thankful, more joyful than ever before.

Thank you for sticking with me through another year. I am honored.

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Tell Me More About Your Daughter.

So as you may have noticed, I have not posted since last week. This has a lot to do with the fact that my kids have both been in camp on opposite sides of town for the past week and a little bit to do with the fact that I am trying to get some things accomplished before we go on vacation (especially since there will be friends staying at the house while we are gone). Every day I have been getting up in the morning fully intending to write to all you fine people out there in the blog-o-sphere. Well today, I am happy to say I am back. I am not sure however how many posts you will see between now and when I get back from vacation on July 5th.
That said, I am really. REALLY. R E A L L Y. Super-duper ready for this particular vacation. Not only do I get to celebrate my life with Kent and what it has meant to me for the last 25 years. I get to look into the future of our life together as well. And, if that weren’t enough, I get to share the trip with my amazing parents, fabulous other parents (Kent’s Mom and Dad) and our freaking ridiculous friends.  Oh yes, and I forgot to mention I will also be celebrating my birthday while we are there too! Yes, I know what you are thinking, “This trip is going to be EPIC!” You re right my lovelies it is going to be epic.
Now on to the topic of the day…

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Here is my question for those of us with both sons and daughters, do our news feeds say more about our sons than our daughters?

I am thinking that those of us who have children of both genders, need to make sure we mention the accomplishments of our girls as well as our boys and not just on Facebook and Twitter. It seems like, in my feed anyway, the exploits and accomplishments of our boys are sometimes more frequently reported. Of course our boys’ accomplishments are important and should be shared with family and friends. And I am not saying we should start counting our posts and keeping a score sheet. I am also not claiming to be perfect. I guess I am just making an observation and thinking it is something to be aware of. Society in general already has a tendency to focus on the accomplishments of boys (especially in sports). Personally, I love keeping up with my friends and their boys but I want to hear about their strong, brave, imaginative, funny spectacular daughters too. For some of us, I think if we went to our friend’s house for a barbecue they would know exactly what to talk to our boys about but would have no clue what our girls are into.

Please hear me, I do not believe that any of my friends are intentionally sharing less about their daughters and I am sure they do not realize that it might seem that way to someone else. However, I think this is something we should be aware of when we are talking about our children to others (even on social media). Some kids in our families share more of our interests or have hobbies or sports that are easier to post about. I personally want to be careful to show both of our kids that we are proud of their accomplishments and that we look for good things to say about each of them.

Also please understand I am in no way asking you to gossip to me about your children and their most embarrassing moments or current struggles. I would just like to see your daughter’s painting or see her gnarly kick flip. I would like to know what it is about her that makes you admire her strength.

I will go first. I love my daughter’s view of life. She always looks for the good in people and situations. She likes to find ways to encourage people. She love to read, she loves to play guitar and she currently wants to be a marine biologist who trains spy dolphins. She rocks. And oh yes, she has killer comedic timing.

Your turn.

I will leave you my lovelies, with an encouragement for all of us with both daughters and sons; we need to remember:

Our girls (and boys) need to hear us praise them in public and not just for their appearance and not just on social media.
Others need to know we value our daughters as much as our sons.
Our daughters’ need to be shown not just told that their interests, accomplishments and sports are just as important as our sons’.

This will help combat the messages our girls receive all the time that they are somehow less than boys because of their parts. I want Rosalind and Caedmon to both know that we categorically reject that thinking and that we find them both to be equally amazing.

Vows

In just a couple short weeks on the 4th of July Kent and I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage.
I will turn 43 right before our anniversary so if you do the math you will quickly figure out that I had JUST turned 18 when we got married. On the 30th of this month we will be heading to Puerto Vallarta with both sets of our parents and our amazing friends to celebrate our anniversary and renew our vows. This is where you come in on the story. When we got married in 1987 writing your own vows was not the phenomenon that it is today (and frankly I was a little clueless on how to really plan a wedding) so we said the vows that were laid out in the little book our officiant used. Our wedding was at noon on the fourth of July and the whole wedding party wore white (If you think of Adam Sandler in the wedding singer you are probably kind of close). It was beautiful and I was thrilled.

I had no idea what the next 25 years would hold, but I knew one thing on that hot day in Moreno Valley, CA, I loved Kent with all my heart and I intended to be with him forever. Everything I knew at that point about marriage I had learned from my parents and grandparents and I had amazing examples. I can tell you though, watching someone else be married and being married are two completely different things. I had no way of fully knowing the amazing, powerful, difficult, glorious, challenging relationship that is marriage until after that day and I am still learning more all the time.

So wow, vows. Yeah.

I have been thinking about them ever since we decided we wanted to take this trip and renew our vows standing on the beach. I have thought and thought and have written n o t h i n g.

Yet.

My struggle is how exactly to put into words all that it means to me to be married to Kent? How do I sum up in feeble speech this spectacular, insane, beautiful ride that has been our life? What can I say to make him understand how I feel about him? It sounds so cheesy but I sometimes wonder if he really gets it.

Don’t get me wrong, we have our oil and water moments. (Let me tell you, being married to me isn’t easy for someone who likes order and organization.) I hate schedules, have messy zones, say yes to too much and live life by the seat of my pants (translation: I am fun to be around but I have a tendency to forget things). Kent is also ridiculously busy and spontaneous but as a general rule he is much more organized than I am (thank God).  Part of our biggest issue is, as we like to say, neither of us makes a good secretary. But I will tell you this. There is no one I would rather spend time with or that I trust and admire more. Kent helps me be my best self.

Kent is the kind of man I want our daughter to marry. It is not because he is perfect. He is not. He knows he is not. It is because though he is the same person I married he has changed in ways I never would have imagined or even known were possible in 1987. Together we have grown through workshops, college, faith communities and just plain living to question what we believe to be true and look at how we come across to others and adjust and shift. I have watched him in the last 25 years become more loving, more accepting, more humble and more wise.

His support of me and my writing this blog blows my mind. He never asked to be part of what was happening here and honestly I didn’t even know what was going to happen when I started Word of a Woman on a whim at the end of last year. But his grace under fire and his defense of me to friends who think I have lost my marbles give me strength to keep going when I feel like writing people off and hanging it up.

Over the years we have moved out of a church home in the dead of night, worked crappy jobs, moved hither and yon, had both our cars die on the same night, lost people we loved, watched our friends get divorced, dropped out of school, had health scares and hurt each other. But we have also made beautiful babies, finished college, drilled wells in El Salvador, lived in San Francisco and New York, driven cross country, danced, stayed up all night, been to Disney World, made love on a private balcony, given away more than one car, planted a church, written a song, made life long friends and grown together.

The last 25 years were more than I bargained for bad and good, but I chose the right partner to share the ride with me and I will happily spend the rest of eternity with him. As a good friend of ours used to say about her husband, “I just can’t imagine my life without Pat Powell!”. Kent and I actually say this exact thing to each other when there are no other words to express how we feel. I know it sounds weird but I think the Powell’s would love that wherever they are. (mental note:scour facebook and find Pat and Mary Powell)

I know what you are thinking, “there you go, you just wrote the vows!” Not quite, but I think I have a good idea where to start now. Thanks for helping me figure it out. I’ll tell you what my lovelies, when we get back from PV I will write another post about our little beach ceremony and share the finished vows with you. In the mean time. Live together and love each other deeply from the heart.

When Did I Become Such A Dangerous Woman?

Was it when I said, I don’t believe you can Pray Away the Gay?

Maybe it was when I suggested that I am capable of independent thought and that Kent is not responsible nor does he agree with everything I say.

Perhaps it was one of the days I decided to stop being divided in my heart and become an ex-good-Christian woman.

Or maybe it was the day that I decided it wasn’t my job to keep “the peace” when keeping the peace requires the silencing or muting of half of the church.

Most definitely it was the multiple days I encouraged others to take a closer look at what they have always been taught about what God says about homosexuality and consider that maybe there is more to the story.

Certainly it was the day I encouraged other women and men in patriarchal situations to become what God always intended for them to be.

The Scriptures say, as much as it depends on me that I should live at peace with everyone. And I do. But sometimes it does not depend on me. Sometimes the peace comes undone because people do not want to live at peace with me when what I see when I read the scriptures does not match up to what they see. They say I will have to answer to Jesus for every word I have written and spoken. I am ready. I am prepared to stand before the lover of my soul and say that I have tried everything in my power to move people to love God and love each other with no unless. I have not been perfect. I guarantee you I am wrong about some things (as are we all). But I KNOW that what Jesus did is enough to fill the gaps and erase my sin and cover my errors. It is enough for yours too. It is enough for all of ours. As my good friend Sarah said yesterday,

I stand outside, in the wilds, banging my pots and pans, singing loud and strong, into the wind and the cold and the heavens, there is more room! There is more room! There is room for all of us! And then I’ll slide right up next to you, I’ll hook my arm through yours, I’ll lean in, I’ll whisper right into your ear, quiet, loud, it will sound like I’m singing or like I’m preaching, and I’ll say, there is room for you.

Make no mistake about it. Somewhere along the line I fell in with a dangerous crowd. I posted this status last month on fb and i think maybe it fits here.

“You say I run with a dangerous crowd, we ain’t to pretty we ain’t too proud. We might be laughing a bit too loud, but that never hurt no one.”

I have good news this morning. Jesus came for the poor and the sick not for the rich and the well. What many “good” church going people fail to realize is we are all poor and sick because of all that is wrong here and now both in our hearts and in this world. But old things are passing away, and he is making all things new. You bring his kingdom on earth as you love the people around you. God hates no one. His love is for everyone. He can and is making all things new. Our rules we place on ourselves and others seem like they will work (see Col 2) but they have no effect on the heart. Love? now that changes things.

“So c’mon Virginia, give me a sign. Show me a signal. I’ll throw you a line. That stained glass curtain you’re hidin’ behind, never lets in the sun.”

Only the “good” die young.

Here ends Theology 101 with Prof. Billy Joel.

Being dangerous isn’t always a bad thing.

Oh yes, please read this spec-freaking-tacular post by my friend Matt.

 

So She Did. A Word of Encouragement to Women…and Men.

“For a woman to not become all that she was meant to be is sin. She’s missing the mark. When she dumbs herself down to not threaten the insecure male, she is forfeiting all that God created her for.”

Tony Campolo

Today I read a blog post by Amy Young, who is asked over and over why she is still single. Her response when she is feeling up to it?

I am a Christian. I am a woman. I am a leader. Remove any one of those statements and I believe I would be married.

Wow. That three sentence answer is a powerful indictment on how we in the church raise woman to stunt themselves and men to look for stunted women. Think about her answer she would have a better chance to get married if she was:

  1. a Christian woman who is not a leader
  2. a woman leader who is not Christian
  3. a male Christian leader

Think about it. She is probably right. She goes on to assert two other points in the post:

1. If you marry before 30 your skills seems less threatening to Christian men.

2. There is a difference between having leadership skills and an actual leadership position.

Like many choices life offers, I didn’t fully realize what I was saying yes to when I stepped into public leadership at age 29. I now know that I was most likely trading leadership for partnership and that, though still beloved by many, I became threatening to potential “pursuers” because of the heavy and mixed messages sent about gifting, submission, headship, and gender. As my leadership blossomed into spiritual realms I became even more like kryptonite to some (both men and women): scary and powerful. It’s also confusing because it’s clear I’m good at what I do and people are drawn to me.

So, returning to the question as to why I am single, there is no simple, easy answer; but I do believe that, in part, it is because I am a woman and a leader and didn’t marry before it became apparent that I was not a behind-the-scenes leader but an up-front, out-loud, follow-me one.

I am thankful every single day to be married to Kent and that we got married as young as we did (18 for me and 20 for Kent). I have frequently thought when confronted with a story like this that I would have had a much more difficult time finding someone if I had waited until I was older to get married.

I had intended to write today about becoming all you were meant to be; about chasing and discovering the beauty of the undiscovered joy that is your gift to the world. I honestly wasn’t sure about how I was going to say it. I thought about a numbered list of witty and inspiring tidbits meant to inspire, I thought about a poem, I thought about just writing about my own experiences. But, as the Holy Spirit would have it, and as it happens to me so often, synchronicity and serendipity stepped in and I was given a gift by Melody Harrison Hansen who blogs at logicandimagination.com on facebook. She posted as her status the quote that you see at the top of this post and pointed me to a blog by Connie Jakab called Culture Rebel which was the source for her quote. She also had linked to the blog I quoted above from In A Mirror Dimly by Amy Young.

These two gifts (thanks Melody!) along with this snippet from Kathy Escobar’s post, ex-good-christian women, are my catalyst for today’s encouragement. Kathy wrote,

over time, we have been sold a bill of goods on what it means to be a christian woman.  we’ve been domesticated, tamed, caged, and limited.  we haven’t been properly valued or empowered or nurtured.  we have been taught codependence and given the company kool-aid to drink.

but it’s changing.  slowly, surely.

thankfully more and more women are joining the ranks of  what i call “ex-good-christian-women.”  it’s lonely at first but in the end, so freeing.

You know what?

The more I think about Amy Young’s post, the more I think about Tony’s quote, the more I reflect on the writings of the closest friends I’ve never met the more encouraged I get. Yes, you heard me correctly. Why exactly do I find encouragement in these things?
Because…

  • I know more and more women who are choosing to be “ex-good-christian women”.
  • I know more and more men, who like my husband are encouraging the women in their life to stop missing the mark by believing the lie that they cant be/do ________ because God doesn’t want them to. These same men are also helping to provide avenues and encouragement for these women to use and develop the gifts that they were afraid to even admit that they thought God gave them.
  • More and more young women are being raised to believe that God wants them to use every gift and every skill that he has given them to serve and lead in any way possible.
  • More and more young men are being raised not to fear strong women but to embrace them and appreciate them as the better and stronger companions that they are.
  • More and more people, men and women are finding their voices and speaking up and out on behalf of the oppressed.

And today, I would like to encourage you my lovelies, male or female…

  • You are amazing and have gifts buried inside you that are waiting to be discovered
  • Those gifts will change you and others in ways you never dreamed possible
  • Don’t give up just because you try something you have always wanted to do and it feels like the hand-me-downs of your childhood that you needed to “grow into”. Sometimes when a gift has been ignored on a shelf it needs more TLC to cultivate it than it would have taken to maintain it.
  • Try things even if you aren’t sure they are for you. You just might surprise yourself. And if you don’t? So what. You will be richer for the experience.
  • Husbands look for ways to encourage your spouse to be all they were created to be. Don’t be afraid of the strength she will find. Help her discover who she has always been and you will be rewarded with a richer life and a happier wife. I love my husband so much for encouraging me in my new found talents.
  • Wives don’t be afraid of your gifts. It will not subtract from who you are as a wife or a mother. On the contrary, if you become who God designed you to be you will be a better partner and a better mom to both your sons and you daughters.
  • Single women, you are enough. Don’t ever trade who God made you for a lie in order to have something less than all he has for you. Any man worth having will embrace YOU.
  • Single men, you are glorious, walk in all God made you and never ask a woman to be less than God made her in order to be with you. A strong and gifted woman makes an amazing partner.
  • Teach your children these things.
  • And most of all, love one another. Truly love one another. Which means freeing the other to be who they were always meant to be. It is a beautiful thing.

Your Existence Gives me Hope

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So I woke up today with a strange feeling of hope; hope that the tide is shifting; hope that the conversation is taking a new shape. Hope in the face of setbacks like a female attorney who bows to the will of her client,  by wearing a burqa; a client, who if he had his way, would have prevented her from becoming an attorney in the first place and who would strip her of her freedom to practice law and even from leaving her home unaccompanied if given the opportunity. Setbacks like the state of North Carolina passing an amendment that robs fellow Americans/humans of enjoying the same privilege to marry their beloveds and not to be alone, that is why God designed marriage, remember? It is not good for us to be alone, we need someone who is a perfect fit for us.

But like I said, I am feeling hopeful today. Why?

1. The existence of Kent Krabill; Proof that God loves me.

2. The existence of my children who live and breathe and change the world with their love.

3. The existence of Novitas (aka the island of misfit toys) who continually challenge me to love more and judge less.

4. The existence of the countless new friends I am discovering daily.

5. The existence of inspiration. I finally feel like I am learning who I always was.

6. The existence of the Holy Spirit who continues to lead me into the truth and to change me.

7. The existence of the amazing Rachel Held Evans (who inspires me over and over) and her new article.

8. The existence of Justin Lee and his 30 confessions.

9. The existence of magical moments. I mean did you see Josh Hamilton hit 4 home runs in one game? Have you been to Disney World?

10. The existence of Sixty Percent and people who write such things.

11. The existence of Kathy Escobar and The Refuge, Alise Wright, Amanda Miller Garber and RISE church and Pam Hogeweide and all the other UNladylike women of the church.

12. The existence of Brian McLaren, Wade Burleson, Rob Bell, Jay Bakker, my husband and every other men who supports the UNladylike women of the church.

13. The existence of Bert & Evelyn Waggoner and the influence he had on my life and the seeds of change planted in Kent and I at the Sugarland Vineyard.

14. The existence of Derek Watson  who set in motion the tectonic plates of our lives.

15. The existence of Laurie Watson and the work she does as a sex therapist who happens to be a follower of Christ.

16. The existence of the parents I know who are trying to teach their kids to love people, all people.

17. The existence of a shift that has begun in our country and the church toward freedom, equality and acceptance.

18. The existence of people who fight for these things every day.

19. The existence of groups like Christians for Biblical Equality.

20. The existence of the Marin Foundation.

21. The existence of common ground: President Obama and Vice President Chaney both support gay marriage.

22. The existence of Matthew Vines.

23. The existence of people who refuse to stop loving or believing better of people; even the ones who disagree with them.

24. The existence of my parents and grandparents and all the people who have helped to make me who I am.

25. The existence of art, music and poetry.

26. The existence of my God who never stops loving, never stops pursuing, who will one day make EVERYTHING right, who loves all and gives everything to bring his children home to him.

27. The existence of…YOU. YOUR EXISTENCE GIVES ME HOPE