Jul 13, 2011

Hanging Balls of Flowers

Two weeks after restarting this blog titled daily inspiration and I have yet to post anything new or inspiring. I was aware of the descent into un-inspiration as I was spiraling down. Those first few days I felt like my eyes were open to the world around me in a new way, my brain synapses were on fire, and I was crafting a hundred different posts in my head as I went about the day. I started to notice things, smell things, feel things that I had never noticed, smelled and felt before (or in a long time). But with each new noticing came a wall of self-doubt that slowly crumbled my inspiration...Why would anyone care to see a picture of hanging balls of flowers?

In talking with a friend about this spiraling descension into nothingness, I was reminded that this is a space for me to get out all that goes on in my mind. It is a place to process those connections that fire me up for some reason, and write it down in a place that may eventually inspire someone else to pay attention to the magical world we live in. And then, create space in my brain to continue building on these connections, space to continue growing.

And so this is my second attempt. I accept there may be a third, fourth and fifth as time goes by and self-doubt triumphs over inspiration. But as another step forward, I share with you those lovely hanging balls of flowers that I love!

Jun 23, 2011

Next Things

"I want to be where the dreamers are"
This morning I woke up with this phrase on my lips, so I decided to update my blog for the first time in three years. Here is the backstory:

Last week I was introduced to the Secret Language of Destiny, which is basically a personality theory based on astrology called "personology". Coming from a Christian background, astrology is the devil's work; but as a thinking Christian, I tend to think of astrology as the science of the ancient world. It's interesting in an historical sense, and a bit freaky in how similar the personality structures determined by stars and birthdates align with the new science of my MBTI test results (which I first experienced at a Christian organization where the results were used to help direct me to who God had created me to be).

My personology type is Pisces III, born in the week of Dreamers & Dancers. Yes. Just the phrase elevates my spirit to joy, enchantment and desire. It has stuck with me and inspired me to do something, and in this day and age, that something has to be blogging! This blog, Next Things, began at a time of transition in my life five years ago. It was a way to communicate and share life with people far away. This time around, I am looking for a place to share inspiration, to communicate the aspects of my life that draw me into wonder, mystery and vision.

The distinction between Dreamers and Dancers to me is the difference between thinkers & doers, choreographers & dancers, visionaries & entreprenuers. They are qualities that are interdependent, and may even exist within the same person, and yet are different functions that when brought together can make the impossible possible. I tend to be more of a Dancer, a practical person, but there is a lot of Dreamer in me as well, which is why I think I seek out those people in my life. They call me into wholeness.

And thus, this next thing begins. A continuation of my journey.

Dec 21, 2008

Winter Soltice

The Franklin house covered in snow. Notice the awesome candy cane lights!

The neighborhood park looks like a winter wonderland.

It's gotta be at least a foot deep! So fun!

And, I chopped off my hair! Just thought I would throw that in too.

Happy first day of Winter!

Jun 30, 2008

I have been absent, but in my absence I have become obsessed with the new CD's from Jason Mraz and Alanis Morrissette. In particular, Alanis (yes, we are on a first name basis) has a song called "Incomplete" that has resonated deeply with the past few months of my life. So as a first step to re-entry into the blogosphere, here is a poetic snapshot into the struggle that has kept me silent for so long:

One day
I'll find relief

I'll be arrived

And I'll be friend to my friends who know how to be friends
One day
I'll be at peace

I'll be enlightened
and I'll be married with children and maybe adopt

One day
I will be healed

I will gather my wounds forge the end of tragic comedy

I have been running so sweaty my whole life
Urgent for a finish line
And I have been missing the rapture this whole time
of being forever incomplete

One day
my mind will retreat
And I'll know God
And I'll be constantly one with her night dusk and day
One day
I'll be secure

Like the women I see on their thirtieth anniversaries

I have been running so sweaty my whole life
Urgent for a finish line
And I have been missing the rapture this whole time
of being forever incomplete

Ever unfolding
Ever expanding
Ever adventurous
And torturous
And never done

One day I will speak freely
I'll be less afraid
And measured outside of my poems and lyrics and art
One day I will be faith-filled
I'll be trusting and spacious authentic and grounded and home

I have been running so sweaty my whole life
Urgent for a finish line
And I have been missing the rapture this whole time
of being forever incomplete

Apr 17, 2008


This morning my mind was full of wandering thoughts. One of them was about a book I read last month for a vocational counseling class I am taking. The book is David Whyte's Crossing the Unknown Sea. Specifically, I was thinking about this one idea:
To wake the giant inside ourselves, we have to be faithful to our own eccentric nature, and bring it out into conversation with the world.
He talks about how some people are asleep in their vocations. We know these people, especially when they are our leaders. They are the people who we know we can no longer count on to provide vision, support, or direction. We have all probably been asleep in some job at some point, I know I certainly have. But what I love about this idea even more than the call to wake up, is what Whyte calls his readers to wake up to - our unique, eccentric, made in the image of God, self. I think this is such a hard concept to consider as a born and bred Christian. I have been taught all of my life to die to my self, not to be faithful to it. So, for my Christian world view, I have to understand such a statement in different language - I have to to be faithful to the person God created me to be, that is marred by sin, and redeemed by the resurrection of the divinely human Jesus Christ. I live, we all live, on the resurrection side of the redemptive cross, which means that I am called to die no more, but to live in Christ, the savior that redeemed me so that I could live as God created me to be - my self.

In my morning hours, I dwelt on the idea of conversation with the world. It reminds me of the attachment theories I am learning in school that describe how an infant is formed by their interaction with their environment. Their first environment is their mother, then the father and siblings that they gradually become aware of, then there are peers and eventually a spouse or intimate relationship. We are in constant conversation with the people around us, and those conversations shape who we are and who we become. I have spent two years trudging through the pains and the blessings of how my conversations with the people of my life have shaped me. I have been learning how to have new conversations with these important people. But this path can tow a very tight line with complete self-absorption, and I am ready to start having conversations with the world.

As I consider my past conversations with the world, they were often extremely conforming. I was agreeable to everything I felt I was supposed to agree about, and I hated everything I thought I was supposed to hate. Over the past few years, all that changed, and I have been very angry, and all of the sudden my conformist conversations turned into fighting and disagreement. I am beginning to grow weary of fighting, and there is no way I will go back to conforming. As I talked through these thoughts with a friend, she pointed out that both fighting and conforming are reactive ways of being, and therefore neither are living out of faithfulness to my self. I have gone from extreme of reaction to the other extreme, and now I am ready to start settling into who I am.

This is the beginning of my conversation with the world about maturity as opposed to reactivity. It is still hard to fathom that the world would want to converse with me, which I suppose will have to be part of the conversation, but this is about seeking to be part of the world as a unique woman who knows she has something to offer the world.

Feb 15, 2008

1-2-3 Meme

I saw this 1-2-3 Meme on my friend Matt's blog, and I thought it sounded like a fun idea. Here's what you do: grab the book closest to you, turn to page 123, go to the 5th sentence, and then write out the next 3 sentences. Here's the one non-school book by my bed:

The Architecture of Happiness, Alain de Botton
"But what remains to these stones is their eloquent ability to deliver the message common to all funerary architecture, from marble tomb to rough wooden roadside shrine - namely, 'Remember'. The poignancy of the roughly chiselled family of mossy orthostats, keeping their lonely watch over a landscape around which none save sheep and the occasional rain-proofed hiker now roam, is heightened only by the awareness that we recall nothing whatsoever about the one they memorialise - aside, that is, from this leader's evident desire, strong enough to inspire his clan to raise a forty-tonne capstone in his honour, that he not be forgotten.

The fear of forgetting anything precious can trigger in us the wish to raise a structure, like a paperweight to hold down our memories."

Ok friends, it's your turn! Post a comment with your book quote or link to your own blog!

Feb 12, 2008

Unconscious Bias

Scanning the web during class I came across some important and fascinating research about unconscious racism and bias.

First up, are you a Secret Hater? I think this is an important conversation to be had. We are so afraid to admit to our deep seated racism and bias toward others. Our politically correct culture doesn't help much with one's pursuit of authenticity. But the truth is, if we don't own up and repent of our prejudices then we will only continue to harm others and continue the cycle of prejudice and oppression in our culture.

Next, there is a link in the article to the Implicit Association Test. You can register for free and take a series of tests that will measure your unconscious preferences. I don't even know how to explain it, but I encourage you all to take some time to do this. One of the tests is measuring presidential candidate preferences, and quite surprisingly I had a strong unconscious preference for Hillary Clinton over Obama, Huckabee and McCain. If you read my previous post, you know I don't plan on voting for her. So it is interesting to consider my bias toward women leaders over men.

Finally, another link in the article is to the We're Only Human blog. Disclaimer: I haven't had a chance to actually read it yet, but I browsed the post titles and it sounds like a really interesting look at the psychology of human life.

So, all in all, it has been a really successful class time this morning. =)

Feb 9, 2008

Elephonkeys and Donkephants

Today I went to my first caucus. As a Washington resident, I was able to join my neighborhood at the local elementary school to cast my vote for the next presidential candidate. It was really fun to be in the midst of chaotic assembling, hearing debate amongst participants, watching people volunteering to be delegates. It felt important and active and inspiring.

What will be shocking to most of my friends and family is that it was a Democratic caucus, not Republican. I have been a card carrying Republican since I turned 18. I remember my first election in 1996 as a Biola University student proudly casting my ballot for Bob Dole. I was a passionate supporter of George Bush both elections. But no matter how I feel about the legitimacy of the war in Iraq, the last few years have been tiring.

Here are some of my primary thoughts about casting a ballot outside of my party line:

The past couple years I have been asked to engage difference. This has taken many forms. Psychologically, the ability to handle ambiguity is a feature of a sound mind. Theologically, it has been the expanding understanding of the scope of my Christian faith (including the multitude of influences of paganism and other religions on the formation of beliefs we currently hold today as evangelicals). Speaking of humanity, I have been called to engage the different races and socio-economic experiences of people in this country and throughout the world. I just can't look at say, poverty, anymore without the consideration of systematic oppression, or at least indifferent elitism, being a key factor in some people's daily life. I just don't see many current Republican leaders releasing rigid dogma in order to engage difference in a healthy way.

Then there is hope...hint, hint. I can't lie, I have been really inspired to hear a candidate for US President talking about hope. It's just plain weird, and yet really inspiring. I have learned a lot about hope this past year, and one thing I have learned is that it is not a fluffy, feel-good concept. It is about suffering, it is about faith in the goodness of God, and it is about doubting...because faith isn't faith unless you doubt. I am full of doubt about our nation, our politics, our choices, our economy, and perhaps most significantly the concept of the American Dream. So to hear someone address my doubt with a message of hope, rather than a bunch of fix-it checklists that will never be followed through on and don't address a system that needs a new imagination, is really refreshing.

It is still an uphill battle for Obama to win the nomination. And there is a lot of debate yet to happen once it is the actual presidential election, but for now I am relishing my position as an Obama Republican.

Jan 20, 2008

Girl Power

At MHGS we talk a lot about power...acknowledging your power, owning your power, using power for good or ill, white power, feminine power, people borrowing power from others, people giving their power to others, etc. When I returned to Seattle a couple weeks ago I experienced an inner crisis about my own power. After some contemplation, I realized that I have become very cognizant of power within my family, and I have realized that it is fun and enjoyable to own my power in those relationships (and probably a lot less harmful now that I am aware of it, I hope!). I got back to Seattle and entered a place where I feel safe to be more authentic in some ways, and yet it is a place that I feel very powerless, and when I feel powerless I revert right back to inauthenticity. My power in my relationships and career at home is the very thing that makes me feel like an outsider here. This past week I have been struggling to understand how I can own my power in this new context in a way that honors myself and others. Part of that is being able to ask for things I desire without shame, as well as being able name my failures with humility rather than shame.

I am compelled to write about this because of several pop culture and political things going on right now. As I write this, I am watching TLC's Miss America Reality Check. It is a reality show where all the Miss America contestants are getting a make-over, and really they are trying to make-over the entire Miss America image. They are trying to get rid of the stiff walks, the overdone hair and make-up, and the hideous fashions. They are trying to make Miss America authentic. From a business perspective, I think it is kind of genius. In the wake of all the documentary revelations about the pageant world, perhaps this is a first step creating more authentic role models for girls. From a personal perspective, I find myself relating to so much of these girl's struggles to let go of their facades in fear of being themselves. It is so much easier to be judged and rejected as a fake persona than as your real self. And yet, there is no power in living out of a fake self.

The other contest currently going on is for the US President, and Hillary Clinton is the first viable female candidate in our history. That is exciting to me. I was watching my Sunday news shows this morning and the topic of conversation was her husband. The pundits are saying that Hillary is using Bill to play the "bad cop" role in her campaign, saying all the ugly, hard things about Obama. The result is they are questioning her ability to control her husband as well as her ability to take and give hard punches on her own. Peggy Noonan said that it was an "un-feminist" move by Hillary to hide behind her husband. I think it is all a little unfair; it's not like Bill is some no-name husband, he is former president for goodness sake! We just don't have any good examples of a man and a woman both holding the same level of power and being married to each other.

And whether or not Hillary becomes President, or whether you vote for her, I think we have to be able to step back and acknowledge that like it or not this is the woman that has been defining the role of women in politics for the past 15 years. First she redefined the role a First Lady, then the role of Senator with obvious ambitions, and now as Presidential candidate. That is a heavy load for her to bear, and it is a role that as a woman I feel I have to pay attention to.

Then there is Cashmere Mafia, a new TV show on ABC that is about 4 women friends from business school who all hold powerful positions in their respective careers. It is Sex and the City gone corporate. The first episode kind of made me queasy. I am sure it is some unresolved something, but I hate TV shows that, by portraying women in the extremes, make me feel like I should want more stuff in my life that I don't actually need. But anyway, it is an interesting show to watch as I consider "girl power." They are women being faced with repercussions of their power; mainly, in relationship to their significant others. So really this show featuring 4 powerful women is about how men struggle with women leading, and how the women then struggle with their men.

Perhaps this is the gist of what I am writing about, that feminism has changed because in the big picture of media we aren't struggling with women getting to positions of power, but the struggle has shifted to how women use the power they have and the impact on their relationships. For centuries, perhaps millenia, women have sought to be married to power by playing roles and wearing pretty facades. When, as "simple" wives, they directed powerful charities and built respectability for their own skills, they still believed they were worthless without their Mrs. title. That facade has been shattered.

With feminism women fought to have equal status as men, but often to the detriment of their femininity. My generation, after a winding road through owning our sexual power a la Ally McBeal and Carrie Bradshaw, is finally wanting to struggle with how feminine power is different than masculine power. How do we embrace our sexuality without using it? How do we (I) own our (my) power of competence without crushing others with it, especially the male ego? How do we surrender ourselves to the support of men and women we do feel helpless? It feels to me that it is the quest for authentic power. It is the quest that I suppose I am on myself in my own way.

Jan 1, 2008


Happy New Year friends and family!

I have not had many memorable New Year celebrations. I remember last new year's eve as the night my windshield got hit by a firecracker leaving a beautiful display of cracked glass (that remains to this day). There was the new year's eve in high school at a girl's house (whose name I can't remember) that was fun. And then there were the childhood celebrations that included struggling to stay up until midnight so we could participate in the subversive act of banging pans in the street in the middle of the night without consequence.

This new year was different. My roommate Stef organized a simple potluck and bought some extra plates to smash. We finished our good luck meal of pork and sour kraut and proceeded to write all the things we wanted to leave behind in 2007 with markers on the plates. After a solemn few minutes of reading our plates to each other, we took turns smashing the plates on our front porch. I realize this is probably very representative of a bunch of MHGS counseling students' way of "celebrating," but really it is about marking - something I hope to carry with me throughout my life.

2007 was the year I learned about marking moments in time. My 30th birth-day was ushered in by a midnight mass to ceremonially bring an end to my 20's. I still have a little bottle of ashes from that midnight "celebration" to remind me of that marking. I have a friend who writes a letter to each of his children on their birthdays. He writes about his impressions of them in their past year of life, he seals it and stashes the letters away for when his children have grown.

Marking is not about being sentimental, and it isn't about being overly dramatic about life events, but I think it is about choosing to make space for the sacredness of our everyday life. Marking is about choosing to remember the past in a way that frees you from living in the past. It is choosing to be fully present, even just for a moment, to take in all the beauty and the misery that has shaped us. Marking is also about keeping in view the great paradox of a spiritual life - that suffering and goodness often intertwine. Marking is about having hope, being filled with love, and acknowledging desire for your future. Last night I wrote down things I wanted to leave behind, but only because I have deep desires for my future. I suspect I would have found this marking celebration quite silly a few years ago when I had no concept of the depth of my own desires. And I suspect that the act of marking without reverence and hope is what makes traditions become meaningless rituals.

I am very grateful for how my life has been marked by people and experiences this past year. Thank you family and friends for marking my life!

Nov 27, 2007


This was my first Thanksgiving not spent with family. In retrospect, it is really one of the first Thanksgivings that I even had a choice. Most of my friends were married young, they live near their families and holidays were not a time to spend with friends. So, it was really amazing to have a group of friends to share a traditional Thanksgiving meal with this holiday. There was so much difference at the table that wasn't filled with conflict or drama, but instead inspired curiosity and laughter. Different family traditions, different cultures, different stories, and I still got to sit in front of the TV with a full belly to watch a post-dinner movie. Thank you Jessica and Rachel for hosting us and cooking an amazing turkey!

The day after Thanksgiving I did something I have never done or desired to do - enter the post-Thanksgiving Christmas bonanza. Having easily accessible public transportation helped alleviate the parking frustration. And the amazing Seattle street performers added to the enjoyment of the craziness. For instance, I learned from the crazy street preachers that Thanksgiving is a holiday to thank God he has not killed me yet; good to know. Thankfully, the joyful tub-thumpers were nearby to remind me of the beauty of God's creation and why there is much to delight in. Then there was the free Starbuck's tent endearing a bunch of "buy local" Seattle-ites to mega-corporations one tiny cup of free hot chocolate at a time.

However, the festivities were all about the Christmas Tree lighting and the fireworks. It was the first time I felt playful in a really long time. There was some dancing, some yelling, singing along with carols, and a lot of waving the fun star lights in the air. I felt free, and it felt good. That is so much to be thankful for.

Nov 1, 2007

Happy Birthday & A Self-Soothing Christmas!

So, October is great. However, I think I am equally excited about November 1st. First of all, it is my dear friend Tira's (AKA Sporty Spice) birthday! Happy Birthday Tira! Welcome to the world of your third decade; I hope it's full of all new surprises, growth, children, and fun memories together.

This is also the official start of the Christmas season. This can be an incredibly irritating fact, like our entire world wants to skip over gratitude to get to the gifts. But one thing I am thankful for is the amazing string of made for TV holiday movies that will be blessing me with wonderfully heartwarming, romantic fluff for the next two months. There will be a creative retelling of the story of scrooge, the criminal hiding out in a small town who finds redemption, the work-aholic corporate woman who discovers love on Christmas Eve, and of course the black and white classics (of which, Holiday Inn is by far my favorite). And then, a couple weeks before Christmas, the tv executives will get really creative by having the "12 Days Before Christmas" countdown. This means instead of one holiday movies a week, I will get to watch one every single night!!!

Part of this holiday movie extravaganza fantasy is plush carpet. As I am taking a sexual disorders class right now, I may need to grapple with the fetish level of this carpet desire as I literally became teary-eyed rubbing my feet into a carpet the other night. But in the meantime, my holiday fantasy for this season will definitely involve watching these movies on the comfort of the plush carpet in my family's homes. Many of you know...I am what I like to call a "floor dweller." I would choose to sit on the floor over the couch any day. But I am also very tactile...I love texture. I calm myself by sliding my hand over various textures, like my polished nails or my therapists suede couch. Anyway, I don't have carpet at my house, so typically I just lay in bed to watch movies, which is really a horrible habit, but what is a tactile, cheesy-movie loving girl to do?

So fanciful holiday movies + plush carpet = Sarah's self-soothing Christmas.

For my counseling friends, I just want you all to know that I will continue to plunge the depth of meaning into these various pathologies so that the self-soothingness of these activities will be out of the choice to be kind to myself rather than perpetuate dissociation from the realities of my life experience and feelings. =)

Oct 23, 2007

Braking & Falling

Happy October!

October was always one of my most favorite months back in 'zona, but this month has become my full-fledged favorite now that I am in Seattle. While east coasters bemoan the weak display of fall colors, my desert-raised self glories in what is on display in the great northwest. When you add some sunny days and little warmer weather to the mix it becomes downright fantastic. The sky has cleared the last few days, which to be honest has made me really grumpy, but today there isn't a cloud in the sky so the beautiful Olympic Mountains are showing off above the Puget Sound. I think there is something about these grand mountains that always humbles me and makes so grateful for life and beauty.

To add to the fall excitement, today I went grocery shopping with a bucket load of coupons. I saved $80! I am so fricken proud of myself. Plus, I got things like apple butter, pumpkin cream cheese, beef stew fixins and a lot of red wine.

This week is also fall break for mhgs. It is a much needed break for me. Though the weather and colorful beauty of this month are wonderful, it has been a rough month. School has inadvertently been playing out my internal struggle to know who I am. My perfectionist and very-latent overachieving self has pushed into a schedule of classes that was way too much. The papers and projects have called me to live into who I desire to be, and yet they have fed into my same ole self and perfectionist patterns. It is a strange dichotomy. I am caught in this place of wanting to be different without knowing exactly what it is I want to change.

So the idea of braking has been a nice one this week. Just stopping. Not falling apart, breaking into pieces, and giving up...all of which sounds very tempting right now. But pausing long enough to feel the weight of the questions and struggles that I am working through right now. Letting it all sink in, perhaps with the quiet hope that change will come whether I know it or not!

Sep 30, 2007

Church History Brain Drain

This is what happens after a graduate student drinks coffee before going to bed, can't fall asleep, then sleeps in late, has a paper due the next day and therefore chooses to forgo bathing and getting out of bed in order to work on said paper all day, and then becomes so tired of paper topic that taking photos of oneself becomes a welcome distraction:

Rain and Ryan Adams

The rain has arrived in Seattle. It is so beautiful and refreshing. I just don't get how people don't like this weather!?! The fall colors are also starting arrive. You can see little patches of red and yellow appearing on the green trees. It is so beautiful. I am so excited for fall!

The perfect musical accompaniment to the fall season is Ryan Adams. I realize I am one of the last people to become a fan of Adams, but whatever. I actually had one of his albums on my iPod for a while now, and as I drove a friend home a few weeks ago he told me I needed to be in love with Adam's song Avalanche. I did, and then moved on to other Ryan Adams gems. I just can't get this one out of my head:

"When The Stars Go Blue"

Dancin' where the stars go blue
Dancin' where the evening fell
Dancin' in your wooden shoes
In a wedding gown

Dancin' out on 7th street
Dancin' through the underground
Dancin' little marionette
Are you happy now?

Where do you go when you're lonely
Where do you go when you're blue
Where do you go when you're lonely
I'll follow you
When the stars go blue

Laughing with your pretty mouth
Laughing with your broken eyes
Laughing with your lover's tongue
In a lullaby

Where do you go when you're lonely
Where do you go when you're blue
Where do you go when you're lonely
I'll follow you
When the stars go blue
The stars go blue, stars go blue

Laughing with broken eyes...oh my, I think I want to rename my blog based on this line. This song just feels and sounds like life to me. It is melancholy and oddly happy. It is filled with love and loneliness. There is beauty and darkness. Life.

Sep 18, 2007

Playing House

It occurred to me today that my life feels like a very prolonged game of playing house. The game has become very complicated with relationships, bills, and lots of keys (which really was a sign of adulthood to me in my pre-teen years...adults get to have so many keys!)

I am doing all these grown up things in my determination not to be a child, but unfortunately I just can't continue to hide the fact that I am really a little 8 year old pretending to know how to be an adult. There are other problems...

Children don't know how to express their needs and desires.
Adults don't want to be friends with children.
Children are very easy to trample over.
Children are prone to tantrums.
They need help to grow and mature, and children playing house think they can do everything on their own.

Apparently, in my pretending, I forgot that I was just playing. Of course, children pretending to be adults have no time for playing.

Now I am sitting here with grown-up problems that my very mature 8 year old self just doesn't know how to pretend my way out of, and I am pissed. I am pissed at the 8 year old for not having it figured out, and I am pissed at the 30 year old that let an 8 year old run their life for the past 22 years.

Aug 31, 2007

Summer School Recap

It was a long, hard summer. It started with two classes...

Psychopathology 1: it was as horrible as it sounds. Probably made especially hard by my own pathology, but whatever. This was my first Master of Counseling Psychology class since I switched from M.Div. to MACP. It kind of freaked me out to be sitting with counseling students talking about psych hospitals and reading (and rewriting) giant medical manuals...this just wasn't part of my new vision of combining theology and psychology.

New Testament Genre: ahh, a breath of fresh air surrounding my psychopathology class each week. Taught by Professor Joanne Badley, whom I highly respect, and I got to learn about the ins and outs of NT theology. I went through the book of 1 Corinthians to outline the narrative of the church relations with Paul that led to his writing of this letter, and it was fascinating to see the context and story develop. I know it bores most people, but this kind of stuff makes me smile...any chance I get to help me make more sense of the bible is a very welcome thing.

In this midst of these two classes I had a Leadership intensive class. What I thought was going to be a very cerebral class turned out to be tremendously emotional for me. As I was taking personality tests realizing how different my way of relating to the world is compared to most of my MHGS peers, I was also missing out on the student leadership retreat I was meant to be at. The culmination of these two isolating experiences probably set the tone for one of the loneliest seasons I have had in years this summer. oh, fun.

July and August were filled with lots of free time with two intensive classes in between:

Multicultural Issues: Holy shit. It is a humbling, sad, frightening experience to have your white privilege held up for you to see. It is even more humbling when it is people of color, who have experienced all the hatred they are calling me to recognize in myself, who offer this education with such incredible grace. One of our assignments was to go to places where we would be the minority. It was stunning to pay attention to what I was thinking and feeling - terror, self-consciousness, fear, mistrusting people's kind greetings, the relief to see another white person. It made me realize that even my theology of church is an indication of my privilege; if I was the minority in every church I visited, I would surely find comfort in almost any church where I was surrounded by people who look like me, and my personal church style and theology preferences probably wouldn't even be a consideration. There were lots of realizations during this class, but this one was most impactful because I have held to the idea that theology, or our faith in God, is what could bring us to racial reconciliation. Now I see even that idea is seeped in issues of white privilege.

And finally, Philosophy 1: just a big, long mess of trying to grasp Plato and his Forms; Augustine and Aquinas' attempts to make Greek philosophy Christian; and the depressing turn in Descartes and Kant to complete doubt, individualism and relativity. This was the first class I almost dropped, but I made it and am glad for it (thank you Blaine for recommending Passion of the Western Mind!). Like it or not, our ideas of Christianity are seeped in ancient philosophies, so it was helpful to get the background understanding.

So, that was my summer school in a very big nutshell. I don't know if I am genuinely struggling with this whole student thing, or if I am simply on the brink of burnout after a full-throttle year, but I am tired. And yet, I can't even imagine what I would do if I re-entered the "real world." So, I hope to just hunker down over the next few months with Christmas as my light at the end of this tunnel.


My Mom and Aunt Elaine came to Seattle for a visit last week. It was so nice to be treated to a luxurious vacation in my new home state. We visited Pike Place Market, the historic underground tour of Seattle, the Ballard Locks, Golden Gardens beach and ate a ton of great food in Seattle. For a family that is perfectly happy watching movies and drinking wine all day, that is a pretty impressive list. (Although, we did get our share of wine in too).

Then we headed over to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, which I have wanted to do since I moved here last summer. We stayed in charming B&B's, went whale watching and visited the beach and mountain parks. It is stunningly beautiful. Here are some pics of the places and the family!

Mom & Aunt Elaine at the Market

Me & mom hanging on drift wood

Massive, beautiful driftwood on Rialto Beach

Hoh Rainforest

Sol Duc Falls

It was so wonderful to be with family. My last name is Casbeer, but being around my mom and aunt reminds me that I am all Chapman! It felt so good to be with people who know and understand me even in the midst of all of our differences and quirks, and who love me just the same!

Love you mom!

Aug 7, 2007

Some Thoughts

Amidst a flurry of various hell, fire & brimstone messages on a overtly Christian bus of sorts was this message:
The words of the living God are the highest of all education.

I think it simply frustrated me. Not because I take personal offense to the evangelist tour bus, but because I know this thought is fairly prevalent among Christians. I am in school to learn about the living God and God's word and how that knowledge intersects with an understanding of self and others. I wouldn't say that this education is more valuable than knowledge of the Bible, but I also think it is naive to think that the Bible is plain text. The word of God would be meaningless to someone who could not read or understand the language it was presented in (which, by the way, would include all of us English speaking evangelicals considering the Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek!). And if this pithy phrase was meant only to refer to the moral education offered in the Bible...that would require a whole other post, but my thoughts would be somewhere along the lines of how the Bible has been used to justify all kinds of cruelty and harm against others out of selfish ambition.

Okay, the next thought.

I realized this weekend that if you take away Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart and every other big box retailer, I have no clue where to buy a toilet bowl cleaner. How sad!

End thoughts.

Aug 2, 2007

Angels My @#$

I just discovered one reason to NOT like living in the East Lake Union neighborhood:
The Blue Angels. Oh my goodness, those jets are loud when they are flying directly over your roof!

Aug 1, 2007

Body Love

I have been reflecting on the body a lot lately. I have been wrestling with my own body image issues as I try to get myself back into the gym for the hundredth time. I wish I loved it. I wish it made me ecstatic. It doesn't. Mostly it just makes me tired, but maybe I just need some time.

Right now I am somewhere in between angry and motivated. I got a flush of anger at a cafe this week as a woman sat with her legs crossed twice, like her legs were little vines intertwining each other. Is that really comfortable? I also got perturbed with the guy that was double stepping the stairs to the grocery store. Is that really necessary? So your skinny, so you are athletic. I am tired of fat jokes and open scrutiny of other people's bodies. Do you see me? And I am really sick of the nation's new found focus on child obesity that blames the children and let's the parents in charge of feeding them completely off the hook. I wish there was a study of those parents. I would put my total savings on the outcome being those mothers and fathers having serious eating disorders or at least seriously disordered eating. Why don't we get that behaviors are learned, even if it is an opposite behavior? This is a portion of my anger.

I wonder how much of our body issues truly are mental. And by mental, I do mean psychological. Like the Indexed image above, our minds are getting played with all the time about what we should look like. The crazy thing is, most of us know this to be true, and yet we still judge ourselves and each other by magazine cover standards. Psychologically, these are issues of self worth. But I think after exploring the psychological aspects of this issue for a couple of months, I am still left wanting for more.

This has led me to the concept of honoring the body as spiritual discipline. From Lauren Winner's Mudhouse Sabbath, here are some thoughts along this line:
Attending Christianly to our bodies is a matter of some urgency, because there is no neutral way to be a body...What I want is to pay more attention - and more explicitly theological attention - to my body and the things it does every day and the connections between the work of my body and the daily service of God.
...the church fathers labeled Gnostism, with its insistence that spirit was separate from and superior to matter, a heresy...Even the most faithful Christians can sometimes catch themselves in a Gnostic mindset of wanting to deny, rather than rightly order bodily desires for sex, food, even sleep.
I also started reading Honoring the Body by Stephanie Paulsell. So far, she is speaking to the dichotomies of the body. Integrity (our distinctness) and relationality (our connectedness with other bodies), freedom and constraint as "practices that seem to constrain the body often have freedom as their motive," and lastly sacredness (deeply blessed) and vulnerability (fragile).

I wish I could soak this all in. I wish I could have such a vision of the body, a vision that internalizes the goodness of God and the beauty of my created self...body and all. I wish that as I go to the gym tomorrow I could maintain the perspective that caring for my body is one small practice of worship to God, and that God does not require self mutilation or condemnation in this practice in order to make it holy. I hope that I will soak up the belief that God actually cares about what I eat. That the God who instituted feasts, dietary laws, Lord's Supper and the tree of good and evil actually still cares about how, and what, and when, and with whom I eat.

Is this possible? This mix of freedom and constraint, this tension between sacred and vulnerable...are they neat categories, or could I really learn to "rightly order" my body?

Jul 28, 2007

Coming Down

I'm coming down from a long week. It started last week as I worked, for money, for the first time in many months. It felt good. I basically made coffee for 4 days for the Story Workshop at school, but I gained a lot of pleasure in making coffee...something to do with mindlessness, and being out of the house, and making a little money. But, I sat in on the final few hours of the workshop which was the most heartbreaking and the most rejuvenating experience. I sat and listened to the attendees share their stories, their past stories of harm, as well as their current stories of feeling hope. It was a great reminder of why I am at this school. It is graduate work, but it is a whole lot of heart work too, and it is beautiful. For anyone who is interested in experiencing Mars Hill Graduate School but doesn't want to be a student, I highly recommend this workshop.

Then I sat in on Philosophy for 4 full days. I have zero experience with philosophy, and those four days didn't improve my knowledge much. Hopefully working on the final paper will help it all come together. But we had an entertaining professor, Carl Raschke, who has a knack for saying and doing some crazy things. I thought I would share a few of the moments that snapped me out of my lecture stupor...

Theology is the shotgun marriage between Plato and Paul.

What makes us Christian is that we have a God that actually pooped.

One of the best ways to shake up a church is to read scripture.

And for those who like to stay up to date on Postmodernism, apparently...
Derrida is out. Spinoza is in.
You can take that information to the bank...or at least wikipedia!

Happy weekend!

Jul 17, 2007


He says about unity that "by diverging, it agrees with itself...like the harmony of a bow or a lyre." ...Harmony is concord, and concord is a kind of agreement; but agreement cannot be created from divergent things while they are still divergent, and harmony cannot be created unless divergent things agree.

The Symposium

Jul 15, 2007


It is amazing to see, as I plumb the depths of my hate, how much of life appears to be a complete facade - a play with well constructed scripts and costumes, perfectly practiced gestures and facial expressions. People will say, "You don't hate yourself-you look so put together," "you're not a racist-you're so nice to people," "you aren't playing a part-you are so honest." I think today is the first time in the past year at MHGS that I have truly believed in the complete and utter depravity of mankind.

Today, I see no good in the world and I find no hope in God - the apparent mastermind of this mess. And yet today, I went to church where they are celebrating a year of hope, and it felt so good. But now I sit here, trapped in my little room in the enormous world too afraid to step out and fuck it up all the more by my mere hateful presence, and too scared to stay in here all alone murdering myself.

Jul 5, 2007

The Fourth on Franklin

Happy Independence Day!

We inaugurated our new home last night with our first party for the fourth of July. Our Eastlake neighborhood basically shuts down as we are just blocks away from Lake Union where there is a fireworks show. The night started with just hanging in our front yard watching our new neighbors having water balloon fights. These soon turned into throwing water balloons at cars driving by.

Most of the drivers laughed it off, but someone got pissed and called the bike cops, which left the lingering question...how do you call a bike cop? Anyway, Rachel was on top of it - eaves dropping and filling us in. She actually heard the bike cop say, "help me help you!"

Then we headed down to the Lake to watch the fireworks. Hope everyone had a good holiday!

Jun 17, 2007

Father's Day

Today has been filled with so much emotion. It began with me recalling how fun and funny my dad was. He was filled with life, and yet he always had this hidden twinge of melancholy about him. I wish I had known what that melancholy was about when he was still alive.

I have joined Student Council at Mars Hill Graduate School, and today was the end of the annual retreat. It was spent in worship - silence, remembrance, communion. On days like this, silence is deadly. My 30 minutes of silent prayer and reflection were filled with tears and wrestling. Dan Allender said in my Leadership class this week that it is a beautiful thing when we can leave behind our deconstruction of idols because we have something even greater to reconstruct. I reflected on this idea. Is it time for me to stop deconstructing my dad, my family? I know the patterns, the pain, the worship of my dad; is it time to begin reconstructing myself and how I will live out my story in the ways of Jesus?

There is part of me that thinks if I could get to the place of reconstruction then I could finally truly mourn my past. There isn't a lot of room for real grief in the midst of anger.

I have also been reflecting today on my understanding of God, of our culture's understanding of God. In my New Testament class, we read a little bit about the culture of 1st century Roman empire/Jewish culture where the father was the provider for all - wife, children, slaves, etc. The emperor was the father of a nation, Paul was a father of the Philippians, God is Father. Can we even know and understand this idea today where father does not necessarily imply provider, life-giver, leader? Even in families where fathers are the primary providers they are often very absent emotionally. Can middle/upper class Americans have a theology of fatherhood that informs our knowledge of God? Do we even want that today in a culture where leaders and fathers are absent and/or corrupt?

This got me thinking about the names of God; specifically, God's name for Godself in the OT - I AM. I know this will probably sound heretical, or at least outlandish, but I wonder if I AM is the God we can relate to today in our First World experience of individualism. I don't know if this even makes sense, but as I searched today to understand God in light of my sad and difficult relationship with my dad, I turned immediately to I AM, the God who is self sufficient and all knowing, and yet created humanity and lives in communion with the Son & the Spirit. I can relate to I AM IN COMMUNITY. That is bigger than me, it is more glorious than me, and yet it helps me understand God perhaps in the same way the Biblical heroes understood God as a Father within their culture.

In my culture, our American culture, "I" is the only real source of power that we know. We create our own futures, we make choices to determine our 5-10-20 year life plans. God is intermixed with these individual pursuits of happiness, but ultimately it is up to me. If it took Paul and the early church to adopt the idea of God as Father as a frame of reference for the character of God within their culture, then perhaps I need to embrace the idea of an individual God in the midst of community as a frame of reference for my understanding of God. I am an individual who needs community, but I fail at this all the time, and so I need a God who is an individual within community to turn to for my salvation.

This is what has been floating around in my head today...Happy Father's Day. May the concept of Father be redeemed in our broken culture. I AM knows I need it!

Jun 13, 2007

Bible Club

It has begun. Bible Club convened with the reading of a modern day Epistle written by our fellow worker in Christ, Cabe, which was so apropos. We proceeded to hash out all our thoughts and hopes and interests and expectations, and then we finally settled into John 17 as our first passage to study. I am so excited.

Kate asked at one point why we were all truly interested in this idea. It immediately occurred to me that I have never really experienced community reading the Bible together, studying together, wrestling together. I have been in lots of Bible Studies, but that means I have been in lots of groups where leaders told me what a passage meant and how I was supposed to live and believe. I am not dissing those experiences because I know I learned much from many leaders in my past, but all I had to do was show up and soak it up...it required very little of me.

There is something incredibly more exciting about engaging the text myself and with others, of getting to follow the passion within me that draws me to a text while still learning from others. It is exciting to do this with the intent of learning how to really live the gospel out in our 21st century, American, affluent, and pluralistic society, as opposed to just fulfilling my Christian duty with a daily quiet time which has always brought me more guilt and confusion than real transformation. We get to "play" with the Text, which to me means I get to get my hands dirty with friends as we struggle to understand what it means to have the faith of a mustard seed in a society where we get pre-maid mustard in handy, squeezable bottles at the supermarket; or, what it means to love your neighbor in a culture of fences and locked doors...and terrorists who decapitate their enemies. This could perhaps be called a midrash group, at least deep down I hope that will be the experience.

I feel kind of weird being so excited, but this new group brings life to my soul. I have had a really rough week, but tonight I have laughed and smiled much. It is good.

Jun 12, 2007


In the past week I have had my personality tested and my handwriting analyzed. In one page or less all of my problems have been made sense of. I literally want to print out this stuff and take it into my therapist or my school or my house and scream...maybe this is just the way I am!!! Maybe all these relational and personal and familial issues are just my personality.

For instance, I hate chit chat. On occasion I can do it, but as a general rule I just don't get it. Here is the answer:
INTJs do not readily grasp the social rituals; for instance, they tend to have little patience and less understanding of such things as small talk and flirtation (which most types consider half the fun of a relationship).

Of course there is a lot more, but I am an INTJ, so I am too private to share it all. Sometimes these assessments help me feel free, even for just a moment, to be okay with who I am. Maybe I just need to scream that to myself.

Jun 8, 2007

Next Things

It has been almost a year living in Seattle. What a ride!

I can feel the sentimentality as well as the stress approaching as Stef, Smruti and I have to move by the end of the month. This house, which has come to called the Meridian House, has been so wonderful. So much has happened within the confines of this space, good and bad. There has been lots of tears and laughter, deep conversations and partying, football and Grey's Anatomy.

It would be really sad if we weren't moving here, the Franklin House:

This big, beautiful house is going to be our new home. It is closer to downtown and in a really cute neighborhood called Eastlake. And we will be adding a new roommate, Holly, which we are really excited about.

The other big news...Bible Club is starting! Yeah! There is just something oddly ironic and subversive about starting a bible club at Mars Hill Graduate School. Not because we don't respect and believe in this Text, but because we spend so much time deconstructing all the ideas we have ever held about the bible that have gotten in the way of us actually reading it well. It is kind of exciting to know that I can continue deconstructing while at the same time reconstructing a new appreciation and love for this odd and beautiful text. If this club gets off the ground, it will have to be in honor of Joanne Badley, NT scholar and professor at MHGS, who first gave us the assignment to study the Sermon on the Mount that inspired the Bible Club.

Jun 5, 2007

Self Service

I just returned from a wonderful weekend with old friends. It is interesting to consider how adulthood, marriage and motherhood have changed our views of the world. There was a lot of discussion around selfishness. The message is everywhere, from Oprah to Christian self-help to the endless array of fashion, home improvement, flashy cars and more that are paraded by us every minute of every day. Where we once would have enjoyed dishing on celebrity gossip we are now turned off by the excessiveness of our culture.

And yet, here I am working on a graduate degree in counseling psychology. Everything I learn is about the self - the part of us that is the culmination of parenting, environment, learning, experience, as well as the mysterious internal make-up of innate personality, desires, likes/dislikes that makes us each different. We were created diverse, there is not one human being that is the same, and so therefore I have to think there is something about "self" that reflects the glory of God. If we believe we were created by God, then understanding our self must reveal something of the glory and character of God, right?

I remember my first encounter with therapy. My therapist did not practice from a Christian worldview, and he kept telling me that I needed to be more selfish. I was dumbfounded and resisted him for months. Then I read a book that talked about co-dependency - enmeshing yourself with others to the point that you don't think or act out of your own agency. I remember going to my next session with the a-ha: he wasn't asking me to be selfish, he was asking me to stop being self-less, or without a self. I wonder if the Christian community has become so enmeshed in pleasing each other by obeying social structures that we have forgotten to really seek God's call for our own self. Have we come to equate living out of one's uniqueness with selfishness? It seems kind of ironic really, because if we are upset with others stepping out to do something different aren't we really getting upset because they won't be around for us anymore!

Of course, I am probably making this more complex than it needs to be due to our lack of language. There are more obvious external forms of selfishness - living with no regard for how you impact others (i.e. drunk driving), consuming and collecting stuff without need, not sharing what you have been given with others. But I also think there is internal selfishness that can only be unearthed with a little digging. I hide. I have never thought of this as selfish because I never really thought anybody needed or expected anything of me. But as I grapple with my self - my personality, calling, worth, I am realizing more and more that hiding is selfish. A selfishness that comes from the sad place of not believing you have anything to offer.

It is an odd paradox that the more I have come to understand my self, the more I desire to extend myself out to others, to serve. But I guess that is another language issue. Is not being selfish the equivalent of serving others? Can you serve others with an attitude of selfishness? I guess a truer sense of self will not always lead to service, just as serving others will not always be a sign of selflessness.

So where does this leave me? I think a lot of this has been stirred up not only from my girls trip, but also from just finishing a paper on Luke 12:42-48, the parable of the unfaithful servant. Read it. It's disturbing. But ultimately it is about being vigilant and watchful for Jesus' return. It is about choosing to treat our brothers and sisters with dignity and care since the kingdom of God is here, and not yet. It is choosing to work and live out of Jesus'example. For me, this is where theology and counseling intersect. The goal of the therapist should be to help the servant live more fully into the kingdom of God, building the courage and strength to fight against their depravity in order to live out of their God-given glory.

May 27, 2007


This weekend is Seattle's Folklife Festival. It is one of those events that provides wonderfully amusing people watching and some good music. Lots of tie dye shirts, kilts, and opportunities for checking off your list of things you never thought you would see.

Old man being a human video game, check:

My brothers in Christ. Uhg:

Wading in the water with Cabe & Kj. Don't look too close, there are naked children in the background!

Bluegrass under the Space Needle:

May 25, 2007


I just went through some pictures from this spring. Thought I would share...