questions: part one – on stories.

i won’t be satisfied with okay
and I can’t be okay with alright
so point me to the edge of life,
i’ll stand up on my toes
stretch my fingers out to there
and bring it back here.

because it’s too important,
for us to forget
we’ll unify our thoughts,
God will hear and save
God will hear and save us.

all together standing up on our toe[s],
we’re reaching for a freedom that they don’t know
so catch it as it pours out, we know what we need
don’t get tired when you’re running back to show them.

–okay, flyleaf

 

My friend Chris often posts pictures of “how might we” questions he has written down in a notebook—a practice I emulated last week, and used to prepare for my conversation with Richard on Thursday.

I didn’t reference the notes once—I didn’t need to. While we weren’t too sure of where we were going—and found ourselves in many different directions!—Richard, more concise than myself, was able to summarize our varied of conversation in a single tweet.

how might we: encourage / move / allow story / gradually / better / encourage / become / embrace / bridge / explore / transcend.While writing this, I fired down a string of questions into a black Moleskine, attempting to pare down the 835+ words that have been strewn about thus far.

encourage.
move.
better.
become.
embrace.
bridge.
explore.

question.

The most dangerous phrase in the English language is, “We’ve always done it this way.”

—Grace Murray Hopper

I question everything. I kind of think that refusing to question everything means that we become, and remain, stuck—we do not grow, and thus, we do not change.

How might we encourage change? and at that, the type of change to build connection through story—to build community through connection. To encourage the asking of questions rather than the acceptance of the familiar.

 

i wont be satisfied with okay / and i cant be okay with alright.

 

During our conversation, Richard noted that many people don’t know what their story is.

How much do we know our ambition, our purpose, our goals, if we don’t know our own stories? The stories we are creating, writing, LIVING, every single day.

Knowing our stories though, like living them, doesn’t come passively, or with passivity—it comes with being fully alive in them, and in sharing them. How much are we living passively because we don’t have enough opportunities to share our stories with our communities? And if we do, what are the barriers to sharing? Do we, perhaps, as a society, feel as if we cannot open up enough to ask questions of our own beliefs, experiences, our stories, by intentionally communicating these things with others?

We talk with one another every day–do we really engage, or do we just talk? Are we really having a conversation, or are we sidestepping the brokenness right in front of us? Are we swerving around the questioning, the longing, the creating, the uncomfortable, the fucked up? (Are we using this agility to deke around that fucked up even exists?) That problems exist right in front of us, even if they are separate from the base of Maslow’s pyramid? That no problem, no experience, no struggle or triumph, is greater or lesser than another?

it was a beautiful letdown when You found me here,
yeah for once in a rare blue moon, i see everything here,

i’ll be a beautiful letdown, that’s what i’ll forever be
and though it may cost my soul, i’ll sing for free.[…] i don’t belong here, feels like i don’t belong here.
i will carry a cross and a song where i don’t belong […]

we a beautiful letdown, painfully uncool,
the church of the losers, the dropouts, the sinners, the failures, and the fools.
what a beautiful letdown—are we salt in the wound?
let us sing one true tune.

–the beautiful letdown, switchfoot.

the church of the losers, the dropouts, the sinners, the failures, and the fools is where i want to belong. Messing up means we tried.

In the context of faith: Do we worship in this same way? One-sidedly? Aiming for perfection that doesn’t exist—and doesn’t matter? In the church, or in any community, do we have—or how can we facilitate—a conversation around story?

Around sharing our experiences, our downfalls, with freedom from fear.

The stories that make us the people we are.

 

I got on the bus and put my earphones in—my iPhone shuffled to Okay, above. I repeated it five times.

‘cause it’s too important for us to forget
[…] so catch it as it pours out,
we know what we need,
don’t get tired when you’re running back to show them. 

So, let’s start here in the comments, or e-mail me

what’s your story? 

a tough topic take on God and transformation

About six weeks ago I went to church with my friend and coworker, Jess. We decided that we would do a church-swap of sorts, in which one Sunday I went to church with her and her family, and another she and her family will come to church with me.

When I first started seeking out a church community to be a part of, I tried multiple churches and eventually settled at one that was much like the church I attend now in the way it functions. However, my friend and I, both in our teens, were never reached out to except for by one member of the Welcome Team who sat in front of us each week. Six or so months later, I encountered a subject, on Easter morning, within the sermon that I did not feel fit my beliefs, and I never went back. Since then I have regularly attended two churches: the first, a United church, which remains supportive of rights of people who are part of the LGBTQ[addadditionallettersasyouseefit] community, and loving them for who God created them to be [yes, I am of the thought that a person’s sexual orientation is as inborn as their hair colour, and that it is not a choice],  which I left because at the time I did not feel like there was a place for myself as a young person in the community. The second is my current church, who present such touchy issues of homosexuality and abortion in a facts-based setting, but leave the table open for exploring your own beliefs, and I really respect this approach.

These subjects are difficult for people, especially, it seems, in a faith-based situation, to talk about. Additionally, these discussion can get very emotionally heated, especially when intermingled with the topic of God, which people typically have a very strong position regarding . . . regardless of it is a belief in God or not. Stories, personal accounts, interactions . . . it is obvious that we all have a very vested interest in our own stories and relationships. Thus, relationship with another human, whether intimate or friendship, can often be a touchy subject when those we also care about are concerned about certain aspects of that person’s life–faith, religion, sexual orientation, past choices . . . the list goes on.

If we are, for example, believers in God, I’ve found this is often a very touchy subject.  As a Christian who was not raised a Christian, I think I see this a bit more than the average person. I do not think there is anything wrong with not believing in God, but at the same time, I still hope for everybody to experience the love that is Jesus. it is a tough line, and I choose to simply follow Jesus in my approach . . . love.  Additionally, with many of the above splaying out from what Christian society has told us is good or bad, right or wrong, and how it tries to paint the picture in black and white in a world of colour.  Often, though, this colour comes out in our stories–our teachings, our stories, our tears.

During the church-swap, Jess had warned me that a guest pastor was speaking for the past several weeks, and that he was pretty infused with passion for Jesus. So much so, that whenever he talked about how much Jesus loves us, he cried. Every single time. And while I at the same moments can recollect and often feel the same passion rising within me towards my God, it is of my belief that if you are in the position to be teaching others about the love of Jesus, especially potential new believers OR people who are simply exploring who Jesus is, you need to be able to communicate your passion in a way that educates with a limited emotional attachment. YES, passion and excitement is good, but for instance, if you are counselling an individual and simply reminding them that God loves them [which is essentially what one is doing on a less one-on-one level during a sermon], then you need to be able to step back. Passion is essential in some contexts, but when you are teaching others of a touchy subject, for instance, or presenting potential applications and/or the choices that an individual can make, your story remains your story, and as fuelled as you like it . . . but your point should come with no strings attached, no vested interest, and an ample dose of what you wish to deliver in a fact-based package. Much like the delivery of stance on homosexuality was delivered at my home church.

I was reminded of this scenario when I was reading Jenny Simmons’ blog tonight, in which she writes about speaking to a camp group of some very tough kids in very dark places. On speaking to these kids about Jesus, and His love for them.

I refuse to manipulate on behalf of God. He does not need me to twist anyone’s arm. He does not need tears and lame promises to make Himself known. He is God. To emotionally intimidate people into knowing Him is a terrible offense.

–Jenny Simmons in What if They Were Angels

I fully believe this. I believe that God, from the beginning, has been in the position of ultimate transformation on both a global and individual level. I believe that He finds a way to stir in all of us, at different points in our lives, but that He gives us the will to determine how we respond to this.

That we don’t need cheap rewards and incentive for inviting Him into our journeys.

That it is not up for us to try and manipulate others with our words or our emotions, because He is more than capable.

That He simply loves us where we are at with open arms for when we are ready.

That nothing is ever final enough to divide us from Him.

Ever.

12 of 12 – february ’12!

On the 12th of each month, a bunch of bloggers from around the world take 12 pictures of their day and blog them.  Here are my pictures for February 12th, 2012!

12 of 12 - february '12

8:50 am – church. Yeah, we currently have a giant Rubiks Cube [each edge is six feet] hanging in church to accompany the IT’S COMPLICATED series we just began. It’s pretty awesome.

12 of 12 - february '12

10:05 am – church. Between services, scouting out the recycling bin for my Starbucks cup. [My friend forgot the non-fat, no-whip bit, but I love her anyway :)].

12 of 12 - february '12

12:24 pm – church. Who did you meet this week?  Snapped a picture of this after taking care of the 3 + 4 year olds :].

12 of 12 - february '12

3:13 pm – kitchen at home. I hung out with my cousin, Dean, yesterday and we went to our grandparents’ for dinner. We brought dessert, except my grandma made PUMPKIN PIE, so we had leftovers. So I got to bring dessert home.

12 of 12 - february '12

4:48 pm – kitchen. Final exam schedule for the term. Is it over yet?  Midterm madness tomorrow and Tuesday, so really it is only just beginning.

12 of 12 - february '12

4:57 pm – kitchen. Energy systems anybody?  This stuff is all on my Principles of Coaching exam tomorrow. I am kind of scared, but not nearly as scared as I am for my Physical Growth and Motor Development midterm on Tuesday.

12 of 12 - february '12

6:03 pm – kitchen. Pizza for dinner. It involved various coupons and my mom and I having to go in separately to pick up two pizzas.  Also I ran into a guy who graduated high school a year before me and is dating somebody I graduated with, so we got to make small-talk. That’s always fun.

12 of 12 february '12

6:34 pm – kitchen. Probably the most ridiculous BBM conversation I have ever had. And perhaps the most ridiculous conversation I have had with Dean [and trust me, that says a lot].

12 of 12 - february '12

6:48 pm – kitchen. Charging my fitbit for the week or however long this thing lasts. Love it.

12 of 12 - february '12

9:33 pm – kitchen. Currently reading Matthew Good’s book. It’s so weird. I thought it was going to be like a memoir or whatever, but it’s basically a bunch of short stories and/or he is teaching you to fake multiple personality disorder or become an anti-nausea med addict.  Probably fictionally, but since I will never try I will never know.

12 of 12 - february '12

10:29 pm – kitchen. Yes, I feel like I haven’t left my kitchen all day.  Also I’ve been eating these cookies off and on all day. They are so good.  Freaking studying.

February 12 of 12

10:56 pm – kitchen. This is my pile of studying crap and textbooks I don’t actually read much.  That’s an issue and I need to work on it the next half of the term.

12 of 12 – november ’11!

On the 12th of each month, a bunch of bloggers from around the world take 12 pictures throughout the day.  Here are my pictures for November 12th, 2011!

November is the time of year for my church’s annual youth retreat to a bible camp about two hours outside of the city.  I fall under the interesting category of “inclusion leader”, so I was one-on-one with a seventh grader [hereafter known as “the girlie”].  We met for the first time at last year’s retreat, but I also went to camp with her in the summer, so the two nights were a piece of cake and super fun!

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12:21 am – cabin room. The girlie is asleep on the top bunk, the bottom is mine [I moved on night two though, since the girlie and I had the room to ourselves!]

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7:50 am – cabin. One of those days — winter + my asthma = out for me.  Giving the girlie a few more minutes to sleep before waking her up a little before our 8 am wake-up time [since I know it will take her at least five minutes to actually get out of bed!]

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8:21 am – outside. Yeah, that’s what you want to see right when you get up.

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9:52 am – chapel. OH MY GOODNESS. ELISA AND I MATCH!! :]  COORDINATED LEADERNESS!  [Also, if you need an interior designer and you live near me, please hire her so she does not have to go back to Vancouver, as I will miss her if she does!]

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9:57 am – chapel. The grossest youth game ever.  In which an onion was passed like a hot potato, and participants had to take a bite of the onion when it stopped on them, or they had to sit down. Disgusting.

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1:40 pm – on the rocks. “Creation reveals Your majesty — from the colours of fall to the fragrance of spring, every creature unique in the song that it sings . . ” —Indescribable, Chris Tomlin

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3:12 – dining hall. Yeah, I can play Apples to Apples and Sorry! at the same time.  No big deal.  [Also, yet another 12 where I’m playing Apples to Apples!]

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3:57 pm – dining hall. The official design of the youth retreat.  Our church’s graphic designer is super talented and amazing!

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4:32 pm – cabin. Ready for the Awards Dinner.  This is my semi-rockstar outfit.  Because I don’t do formal.  The girls all looked amazing and all took like an hour and a half to get ready, it was super adorable.

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5:46 pm – dining hall. And the dinner prayer went “God, thank You for pizza.  Amen.”. [Probably some other stuff, too, but mostly it was about the pizza.]  Veggie pizza — I made a new vegetarian friend on the retreat, we met at a workshop on haters and some guy in his small group was jokingly making fun of him for not eating ribs, and he and I exchanged several high fives over how tofu sucks.

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10:23 pm – cabin. The girlie and I came back from chapel [way] early as she was just totally wiped out.  She fell asleep around 9:30, so I had like two-plus hours before I went to bed by myself.  So, i tweeted of my boredom, and Bob came to the rescue! :]

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10:46 pm – cabin. Since the girlie was asleep and I couldn’t leave for snack, the lovely Elisa brought me cookies back! <3  Camp makes super good cookies, these ones were white chocolate, Friday night’s were chocolate chunk.

12 of 12 was created by Chad Darnell.  Check out his blog to see a list of all September 12 of 12s.  Thanks, Chad, for dreaming up this awesome idea to connect people around the world, and for allowing us to infiltrate your blog space for another year!

love is louder than circumstance

You make all things work together for my good.

and if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us? [. . .] our God is healer, awesome in power . . .

 

I hear ignition in the words off her tongue.  I see the light in her eyes.

This IS the girl I knew last year, but the girl has grown.  I am seeing the change, seeing the love.  And I am blessed, amazed, astounded at the work that God is doing in this girl.

She’s sixteen, and has the beautiful trusting mind and relentless love of a five-year-old.  A glowing smile, and a hug every time we see each other.  And the above are a few of the choice lyrics that overflowed from her heart tonight during worship.

Last year she came but rarely engaged.  Worship was too crazy, too overwhelming for her, and on the bigger, busier nights, she’d often choose to stay home.  This year, I can’t even piece together what changed in her, except that God is doing amazing things through music in this girl.  She runs in every single week, finds me, gives me a hug and then holds onto my shoulders, jumps up and down and says “Kerri! Are we doing worship tonight?!”  And I am so, so happy every time that I get the opportunity to say “YES!”  And then she asks me repeatedly “How long until worship?”

The character of God is changing the character of this girl.  I love that when I least expect it, He opens my eyes through her in such a way that only a big, big, BIG God can do.

I am blessed.

I am blessed by her presence, her heart, her love, her perspective.  Her perception.  Seriously, she caught me tonight, figured out I was tired, and then after worship told me I needed to go home and go to bed.

I am blessed that through some path only an amazing God has created that our paths crossed, and I’m able to be a part of her world–I do one-on-one respite support for her at our youth events on Friday nights.  It’s something I never perceived happening when I signed up to be a youth leader, but it was definitely not an accident.  And it’s an amazing learning experience, not only in working with people with disabilities, but in life.

She opens my eyes every single time.

She teaches me how to trust.  How to engage when the moment is right for not everyone, but for me . . . as she does.  She teaches me how to open myself up to others . . . not for them to see more of me, but for me to see more of them.

She reminds me time and time again that LOVE is LOUDER than circumstance.