Sunday, September 26, 2010

the walk

It’s been a while since I have mused in blog form. Another reason I am thankful for today…I am taking the time to do things I love. It helps me to put my thoughts down on paper (or online in this case)…it’s like it holds me more accountable…not just to myself, but to God.

While most of the Houstonians were watching the game today, I took a wonderful nap on the couch and then ventured outside for a walk. I still don’t know who won the game, but I am sure the second I log on to facebook, therein lies the answer. My walk was much more important though, so I have no regrets.

My walking destination was Hermann Park in the Museum District. A few stops down on the rail and I had arrived. However, when I got off the rail I realized that I had never walked the loop around Rice University, so I made a game-time decision and crossed Main St.

I noticed all the “pretty people” jogging. No one was making eye contact, which bothered me at first, but then I just accepted it and chose not to look up either. I noticed all the buildings that made up the campus and thought about all the learning that takes place inside the walls of that university. I reflected on my time at Duke…I was just as proud of my higher education as any one of those smart Rice people, so I found myself walking proudly in my DUKE tshirt. I noticed all the beautiful homes, lined with huge trees. Before too long, I was simply self-absorbed…wishing I was more beautiful, wishing I was jogging instead of walking, wishing I had an MBA, wishing I had a quaint little bungalow lined with trees.

After I finished the loop, I was pretty content with the exercise portion of my day, so I headed towards the rail. I crossed back over Main St. to the rail platform, but something was drawing me to keep going and cross over Fannin St. to the park…my original destination. I thought, “Okay, I’ll just take a stroll around the reflection pool and then head home.” So, I crossed the street.

I noticed all the kids playing ball. I noticed all the families placed on blankets that were too small sharing a bag of chips. I noticed the teenage couples who think they’re in love. I noticed the new dad taking video of his wife and tiny infant. I noticed the homeless men and women taking a nap. I noticed lots of people who weren’t “pretty people.” I noticed the ducks swimming in the dirty water. There was life all around me, and it felt so different from my loop across the street. I was so taken by the scene that I sat and watched kids play in the fountains…their giggles, as the water from the ground squirted them in the face, were infectious. A little boy with big blue eyes came up to me and said hello…he was not afraid to make eye contact.

I found myself thinking about God. I wondered what God thinks when God looks down on us, especially those of us who polarize ourselves with our higher education, beautiful homes and self-absorbed thoughts. I found myself wondering about the lives of those around me. I wondered if they knew God. I wondered if they felt loved. I wondered if they wished they were on the other side of the street.

I am not sure why this little venture outside today impacted me so much, but I was reminded of something pretty fundamental: I know God loves each of us very much, but when we become self-absorbed it breaks God’s heart. God is calling each of us to cross the street and experience life that causes us to think about God and others. Now my task is to figure out how to best put this belief into action. I feel led to do something more, but I don’t know what that something more is right now. May God forgive me for being self-absorbed and may this musing (and any of you!), hold me more accountable to listening to God for some answers.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

the wedding

this weekend i officiated keith and ashley's wedding. what a blessing to have such a significant role at the wedding of two people who i have known since i was 4 years old! that's right, the three of us started school at parkdale baptist in corpus christi, then we followed each other to middle school, high school, texas a&m, and then all ended up in dallas too!

this couple never officially dated until 2yrs ago, but they have been good friends to each other throughout their entire lives as individuals. it's really beautiful to see God's plan unfold. their love for each other is bound up in their love for God. you can't help but be joyful when in their presence.

although there are many reasons why i love each of them, i think ashely's courage and keith's compassion are two of the biggest reasons. my sweet ashely has been battling breast cancer over the last year. she is doing so well, but she had her share of chemo and radiation leading up to the wedding. we all know that those treatments can take a toll on you in various ways, including hair loss and ashley was not immune to it. ashley has always had the most beautiful long hair, so as one would imagine, she wanted her hair to be just that on her wedding day. well, after a series of events, ashely had a choice to make and she decided to take her wig off and go natural to the reception. SHE WAS STUNNING! i was so proud of her for being so vulnerable. i can't imagine what it was like for her to feel so exposed, because she has not wanted much attention surrounding her cancer. however, her confidence in who she is as a child of God who is surrounded by God's love and the love of family and friends gave her the courage to experience freedom. i was overwhelmed with joy watching her be so free. and, then there was keith...he loves her so much. watching him be with her when it was clearly difficult, how he encouraged her and told her how beautiful she is also brought joy to us all. way to go friend!

may we all experience such freedom.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

the first week in midtown

here are some "midtown musings" from my first week:

i love the metro rail system: 6 minute walk from my door to the rail stop. everyday this week a train has come within 2 minutes of my arrival. 6 stops later is methodist hospital. get out, walk across the street and i'm in the commute time on day one was 20minutes!! subsequent days proved to be just as good!!

i confirmed that the bar across the street is only open on weekends, so that combined with a little white noise via a small blizzard fan to drown out the sounds of any normal cars passing by meant good, non-interrupted sleep!

throughout the week some friends accompanied me as we tried out a few local eateries and attractions/ is a photo journal

kk and i walked hermann park

we tested out the tex-mex across the street from my apartment

a group of us gathered at coco's crepes...byow on a friday night is nice!

then we went to mosaic theatre to see john ramsey and a couple other up and coming comics. i have not laughed that hard in a long time. the show benefited john and his wife, who are moving to kenya for a year so he can serve with international justice mission and she can work in a local children's hospital. check out ijm. such a cool organization.

emily and i walked to the midtown farmer's market on saturday

the farmer's market is in the parking lot of monica pope's (renowned chef) restaurant, t'afia. she was outside under a tent giving a cooking lesson that morning!

then we walked next door to tacos a go go. YUM! breakfast tacos all day long!

the end to the week (and best part of it!) was a visit from mom, her friend karen, my brother ryan, kim, jacob and josh. it was jacob's 8th birthday, and he was surprised with tickets to the texans vs cowboys game. we all had a great time, even though the cowboys got spanked. it was brought to my attention that i don't really know who i am for now...12 years in dallas, but now i live in houston! hmmm.

so, as i sit here in my apartment with yummy chocolate chip pumpkin bread baking in the oven and reflecting on my week, i am so thankful. the pictures above are just a few of the good things that have made my week. i have spent quality time with people who matter to me, and conversations have begun with people at the hospital who will be a significant part of my journey. this coming week marks the start of my permanent position as a staff chaplain, and i am preparing to officiate the wedding of two childhood friends on saturday in dallas. thank you God, for all the many blessings in my life.

Monday, August 23, 2010

the apartment

the last four days has been a whirlwind...

i packed.
i moved.
i unpacked.
i put things in it's place.
i learned a lot about my new neighborhood.
thanks to mom for coming to town for the weekend to join in the work and the fun, as well as steph and her family, NATIONWIDE MOVERS (love those guys), bryan, kc & jojo, kk, kyle & brenda, emily & karen. and thanks to all those who supported me from a distance...i felt so loved!
bottom line is that i love my new place! i can't wait to hop on the rail in the morning and not even get in my car...a far cry from the hour and fifteen minute commute i was doing from katy. i look forward to more visitors, so if you find yourself in houston, come on by! in the meantime, here is a sneak peek at the place...

view from my's just one big room with a small balcony

kitchen...might be my favorite part of the place

view from the balcony doors

this entertainment stand is my favorite new piece of furniture

looking into my bedroom...i have another balcony off my room

bedroom view from balcony side

bathroom...i'm sure this didn't need a caption!

standing on living room balcony looking at downtown. that second balcony is my bedroom.

sketchy strip center across the street from me. a.k.a. escobar night club that wants to believe it resides in nyc. it's so loud. friday @ 2am i wondered if i had made a horrible mistake moving here. saturday night was much more calm. i'll keep you posted on this...

a sign of good friends...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

the move

it's the eve of move day. a.k.a. the last night in katy.

exactly one year ago this weekend i moved here, so i just made steph have "reflection time" with me. i sat in her chair in her bedroom as she cleaned out her dresser, and we did a year in review. we remembered some of the places we have been (israel, iowa, retreats, our homes, conference, the beach), some of the things that became our rituals (walks, scones when we needed a pick me up, watching various tv shows), some of our favorite foods (salads with peppers and avacados, kashi pizza, dove dark chocolate, sonic ice), and some of the people who have come and gone in our lives (funny how this category made the most memories!). we realized how much we have grown as individuals this year. in different ways, we have both been challenged, and i am so thankful that we had each other. she is the kind of friend that encourages honesty and gives me the space to be myself. i will miss seeing her everyday, and i will never find the words to express how grateful i am for her sharing her home with me. it was not only a refuge from the world, but it literally allowed me to live into the calling God placed on my life. without her generosity, i don't know if i could have moved here to do the residency at the hospital, and it was through this residency that God revealed another step in my journey.

i hope everyone has someone in their life like steph has been for me. and if you do, tell them you love them and thank God for such a gift.

love you, steph!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

the party

being in austin last weekend for mom's 60th birthday & retirement party was just what the doctor ordered...these last few weeks have been rough at work, but all that stress was left behind for this celebration! i am SO thankful to God for my mom. she has loved me unconditionally and sacraficed much in her life as an expression of that love. hope you always remember how much you are loved, mom! here are a few photos from the night...

our "food network" elvis cake

the cake & party favor table

"happy trails, the best is yet to come" trail mix for the drive home!

mom & elvis, of course
i'm pretty sure this was the "love me tender" serenade

mom & me-mom

my grandmother who is not scared to party at the local sports bar with us!

my favorite brother & sister-in-law

ryan & kim


i also got to hang out with these two amazing nephews...jacob and josh!

welcome home to their new puppy, bailey!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

the balloon

balloons. for me there was always something about them that made me happy. bouquets at birthday parties, a single balloon tied around my wrist, or even watching one float up in the sky with wonder. always happy, unless someone came along and popped it. then, happiness turned to fright at the sound of the pop and then fright turned to sadness at the loss of that simple thing that was no longer there...and it all happened in an instant.

that's what this past week felt like for me. the balloon that was tied to my wrist on the day that i was offered my permanent position at the hospital was suddenly was shocking and scary in the moment, but the real feelings of sadness and loss of dreams is what makes each day so hard right now. but wait...I STILL HAVE A JOB...i keep reminding myself of that, especially in times when lots of people don't have jobs. however, things have changed.

very unexpectedly, the director of the spiritual care department was terminated last friday. no one really knows why...even he was shocked by the news. it was a jolting reminder that big businesses all function the same, at times executives don't see eye to eye, and often one exerts power over another that changes people's lives forever. i'm just one of hundreds that have been affected by his unfortunate circumstance. the stories told this week about how he has impacted lives is overwhelming.

as i continue to grieve the loss over the separation, i struggle with feelings of anger and just plain sadness for him and for me. i felt so strongly that we were all in the will of God as we dreamed about the programs at the hospital that i would eventually be a part of under his leadership. as he stood with me at my ordination, it was symbolically marking the beginning of this new direction in ministry, and i was filled with joy. the future of those ministries is uncertain now, and that makes me uneasy.

as a person of faith and one who ultimately trusts in God, i have been asking a lot of questions this week. i don't know what my job will look like come september, so once again i find myself trying to be patient in the waiting. but with each day, the haze is lifting, and i am beginning to imagine again. so, here's what i'm thinking today: maybe the balloon didn't pop...maybe it just came untied from my wrist and has floated off, leaving me to wonder where it will end up.