God has us on a journey. One of adventure. Of learning. Of battles. Of love. Growth is this journey realized. So here is our story.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thin places

Yes, hello, I'm writing again it seems. Much to say of my inner turmoil about writing...for another post entirely. For whatever reason, synchroblogs are drawing my words public. This is where bloggers all write about the same topic simultaneously. (I just learned the term, too.) Well, my new favorite blogger Sarah Bessey prompted a synchroblog today on what is saving you now? Her original post on what is saving her impacted me deeply, and the music that she shared broke my heart's gate wide open. This post was my own response to what her words and music triggered in me, and it just so happens that it fits with her synchroblog today! Here is what is saving me...

There are stories, mystical tales, legends maybe, whispering around me of thin places. Places where heaven and earth touch, join even, on a thin plane of mystery. 

Today I treaded ever so lightly, unknowingly, into a thin place.

The music swept me up in an instant. Simple words of praise, majestic building chords, swelling to a crescendo of melody, calling me to lift my heart upwards, compelling me to cry…a song deep within my soul bursting through the flesh encasing me. I met heaven in the Student Union.

And I think this is not the first time I have stumbled upon a thin place.

There are the fleeting visions in my mind, that whisper to me of great things I will do. The visions that stir my heart, bringing to life every gift I’ve been given and every passion I’ve committed to. The visions show me ribbons of my dreams, gifts, and passions, swirled into an intricate tapestry of all the beautiful work there is to do. I meet heaven in my dreams of the future.

I wonder if thin places exist all around me, available to me in the simple, mundane, joyful, and even painful moments. And what about the drudgery? Can they be found even there, in the glaring white screen of a blank Word document, in the calendar full of deadlines, in the irritating commute through rush-hour traffic?

How about on the endless black line of a dirty swimming pool? Amidst the splashing, the habitual kicking, the robotic arms reaching, pulling, and pushing, there was a voice. Maybe not an actual voice to be heard with my waterlogged ears, but a flow of words. Flowing through my mind, to my heart, down into my soul, as the water flowed past my body. Do you know there are thin places? You may stand in the hallowed ground between heaven and earth. Look for them. They are there.

And just now it’s starting to dawn on me that perhaps the desert, my home for this space in time, is a thin space. I haven’t seen the thin space through the gnarled cacti, standing tall and lonesome, through the oppressive sun, beating down on endless summer days, through the wide open spaces, so desolate that it makes me want to run from this place. But I have a hunch that heaven is meeting me here, in the desert, in the place I have never wanted to call home.

Heaven meets me on my drive, at the end of a weary day, in the purple mountain majesties that I face.
Heaven meets me in the quiet weekend rhythm of dinners out, night swims, and hikes on the rocks with my little family of three.
Heaven meets me (can it be so?) in the drudgery, the toil, the disappointment, the insanely hard work of my graduate student life. Because in this chaos of my mind, raging like a monsoon in the harsh desert landscape, a beautiful thing is happening. I am seeing things, learning things, loving things, embracing things, and fighting for things like it’s all brand-new. Other-worldly, perhaps.

May my eyes open wide and my heart open deep so that my soul may stand in the thin places.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A love letter to my body

Dear Body,

I’m ready to make amends. I want to be your friend. I want to stop hating you, comparing you to others, wishing you were different, picking you apart. I want to love you for exactly who you are. No more, no less. Let me begin by saying I’m sorry.

I named you my thorn in the flesh.

Because of your cellulite, dimpling along my thighs.
Because of your breasts, too small to offer me cleavage.
Because of your all-American face, too plain to let me stand out in a crowd.
Because of your stubby fingers, that always made it hard for me to play complex chords on the piano.
Because of your stretch marks, streaking along my sides in bright hues of purple, pink, and white that I can never hide.

All of these imperfections, and the countless more that I will not name, dug painful wounds into my soul day after day after day. The more I hated your flaws, the more I noticed more of them. You were my thorn. Slowly and gratingly burying yourself beneath my flesh.

Now I see that our broken relationship is the thorn in my flesh.

Because your thighs hold me strong as I run in the sun, bike for miles, and climb mountains. 
Because your breasts stay perky for my husband and out of the way for my active play.
Because your simple, freckled face seeps familiarity and kindness to everyone I meet.
Because your fingers are the vessels for spilling words on pages, for making melodies on keys, for caressing my little boy’s soft back.
Because your stretch marks announce to the world the triumph that we have accomplished together, you and I—the love & communion & ecstasy of two people swelling to a crescendo in the birthing of new life.

I had you all wrong. You weren’t driving a painful thorn into my soul, I was. I couldn’t see how beautiful & amazing & strong & delicate & playful & life-giving you are. You have always been perfect in your imperfections.

Can we start over now? I’m ready to see you for who you are, to love you for who you are. I’m ready to dig out that deeply rooted thorn of hatred and let the wounds heal. I want to see you in all of your intricate, simple, messy glory.

I know I won’t be a perfect friend. There will be days when I start picking you apart again, naming your flaws, and fighting to make you different. Just please be patient with me. Whisper to me of your greatness, and I promise that I will listen, even if it takes me awhile to quiet the critical chatter in my head.

You and I are a team. A great team. And I trust that as I learn to love you better you will love me better too. Let’s start a new chapter in our friendship today.



*This brief appearance during my blogging hiatus was inspired by a synchroblog happening here at shelovesmagazine.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hello and goodbye

Hello. It's been awhile! Finals, Christmas break in Cali, the start of a new semester, health issues... There has been a lot to keep me from this blog.
But really, I'm writing to say goodbye. For awhile, at least.
Every year I come up with a New Year's theme (my antithesis to the resolutions of striving that hold me in bondage), and this year I chose the word simplify. It took me a year and a half of graduate school to realize just how unbelievably hard this life is. For some ridiculous reason I entered into this new life assuming that I could keep up with everything like I always did. Cooking gourmet meals every other night, regularly hosting dinner parties, engaging in art projects, being super social, traveling near and far, keeping up my blog... Yeah, right. Something finally got through to me by the end of last semester, and I was able to see how insane my expectations for myself had been. Juggling motherhood, a marriage, and grad school is more than enough to make me crazy. And so the word simplify came into focus. I desire to strip my life down to its barest roots and cling to only what really matters. In essence, if it isn't a necessity or it isn't life-giving, chuck it. For example, cleaning the bathrooms: a necessity. Yoga classes: life-giving. But blogging? There are times when pouring out my heart through writing is life-giving. But there are many other times when I spend far too long writing, and then get caught up on how many people responded (or didn't respond) to my post, or how boring it was, etc. Those ruminations are definitely not life-giving.
And so--in an effort to nurture myself (and my soul could use some nurturing)--I am letting go of this form of communication for the time being. I'll probably even give up Facebook for Lent again, too. It's difficult swimming upstream against our society's current of "busier is better". But my soul needs a rest. Just writing those words gives me a whisper of peace already.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A holiday as it should be

This Thanksgiving was everything a holiday should be...quality time with family, an abundance of yummy comfort food, cozy times around the fire, and plenty of laughter from kids playing. We couldn't have asked for more.
For the first time in 10 years, we got to spend a holiday with Brandon's brother Zac and his family (Hillary, Malakai & Kihana), and Brandon's mom and stepdad. We got a couple days with Z & H and kids in our home before making the road trip up to Grandma Jojo and Grandpa Gordon's cabin in Northern Arizona. Of course, we had to take Z & H to Sedona--our absolutely favorite place in Arizona. (I've said this before, right?:-) And it did not disappoint.It was so rewarding to watch our next generation get excited about hiking and nature!
Then it was 4 days out of civilization. No TV, no internet, no paved roads, hardly any cell phone service, and solar-powered electricity. Always an adventure, and always a retreat.
There was baseball, mountain biking, and horseshoes.The cousins even got to have Christmas morning together!And one of the most special things was getting to watch Soren and Malakai love on each other. They are almost the same age difference as Brandon and Zac, which of course reminded everyone of the Sawyer boys as kids. I'm sure Grandma Jojo was in heaven!At one point on our caravan drive to the cabin Brandon said, "Right now, life feels exactly as it should be." Thank you, God, for glimpses such as these.

What does Advent mean to you?

The meaning of Advent has been weaving through my inner thoughts over the past week. It's a term I rarely heard spoken as a child and definitely never celebrated in my Evangelical upbringing. But as an adult who now runs in more progressive/liturgical Christian circles, I hear this word regularly and only wish I knew of its meaning. It's more than calendars, small presents, and candle lightings, right? I am hoping that Advent is more than some "25 days of Christmas" sort of thing. So what is it, exactly?
My sister and her husband have decided to celebrate Advent this year by doing something Christmas-y each day in December...ice skating, going to light parades, making Christmas cards, etc.
A blogger in my church fellowship is writing on his personal journey with the weekly themes of Advent.My little home church welcomed the season of Advent last night with a candlelit labyrinth. We spent time walking and reflecting on our journeys and the things we carry, symbolized by stones we literally carried in our hands along the walk. We stopped at various stations along the way to offer thanks, appreciate God's goodness, participate in hope, and experience peace as we let go of the stones/burdens of our lives.
Yet still, I am searching for what is at the heart of the season of Advent. I have heard it is to be a time that we prepare for the coming of our Lord. Beautiful language that often evades me. And so I open up this conversation to you...
What does the Advent season mean to you this year?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fall. Finally.

We made it. To November. For us Arizonans, fall comes a little late. I now know that I can count on refreshing, cooler weather by Halloween. We even got an extra little blessing this weekend with a cold front and rain, bringing the temp down to the low 60s. So out of hibernation we crawled, with hopeful hearts and a renewed sense of love for this desert land.Just the 3 of us frolicked through our local farm's fall festival. The simple joys...

milking fake cows...

climbing on tire towers...

petting real cows...

kissing another fake cow...
...oh yes, and measuring Soren's height for the year. He made it to a full 3 feet!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Our little hiker boy!

I (Brandon) couldn't be more proud of my little guy this week! It is finally cooling down enough in the mornings to have fun outside so I took Soren on a hike. He was so excited to go. We got his Ranger Rick binoculars, his camo shoes, his gecko tanker, and he was ready to go.

We started out by trying to head down a normal trail, but Soren was not having that. He started pointing off the trail into a dried river bed saying: "I wanna go that way!" After trying to lead him back on the trail for a few minutes he ended up laying in the dirt crying. So I gave in and we started our adventure the way Soren wanted to do it. For the next 90 minutes we did not see the trail. He went up and down ravines, over rocks, and through bushes. Any obstacle you can think of he went straight for it. Many times I tried to hold his hand down steep and rocky sections and he got so mad at me. He is a such an independent little guy.

Our local hike was just the start. On Saturday we took a day trip to Sedona and went for a beautiful hike. Sedona is just an amazing place! Such a gem of Arizona.

We brought our carrier, but Soren wanted nothing to do with it for the first hour and a half. We hiked a good 1.5 miles up and down some very rocky and hilly terrain and he just charged it. We would stop to take water breaks every once in a while and Soren would get a quick drink and say: "I wanna hike!" So off we went.

I really haven't pushed him to be so much of a "Sawyer" but he is turning out to be quite the adventurous little guy. However it happened it makes me one proud Dada. I am a truly blessed man with a wonderful adventurous little guy.