Saturday, July 21, 2012

100% Jana

To be given a name is an act of intimacy as powerful as any act of love…To name is to love. To be named is to be loved."--Madeleine L'Engle

My dad has been archiving digital copies of all of our old family photographs in preparation for the slide-show portion of my sister's wedding.

He posts a few to facebook (my mom gets veto power on our behalf for any embarrassing ones), but the others he just e-mails around every once in a while to us. 

He sent me this one yesterday. The subject line of the email is "100% Jana". 

That kind of melted my heart. I love that this is what my dad sees as 100% me. This was taken about 5 or 6 years ago, and I think I was home on vacation from my teaching job in California. I'm smiling, I look comfortable and relaxed, and I'm in one of my favorite places (my parents' garden) doing one of my favorite things. Those peaceful moments in the garden are one of the times I feel most me, and it surprises me when other people see those moments and recognize them, too.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday's Lyric: Work to be Done, Stephen Delopoulos (feat Katie Herzig)

"I've been meaning to tell you something."
"mmm?" I was unpacking a box of art supplies onto a sturdy wooden table on Luz's back porch.
"You're like, my Straightjacket." 
"What?" I wasn't offended, just confused. Luz usually has a reason for saying the things she says, so I was willing to go with it.
"My Straightjacket." She laughed this time. "My human Straightjacket. Do you know that album?"
Aha. I should have known it was a pop culture reference I was missing. Luz and I were both homeschooled, but Seattlelite designer Luz who has played piano since she was small and her composer husband know more great music than I do. We kind of fill in the pop culture blanks for each other with music and movies and television shows. "Nope, I don't think so."
"Steven Delopoulos?"
"Right, from Burlap to Cashmere?" Because, who forgets that name, once you learn it.
"Right! He has an album called Straightjacket, and it's just, you know, that one I keep coming back to. I don't listen to it for a long time, and then one day...nothing else will do. Except Straightjacket. And it's always good...I always take something from it."
I grinned, because...what a great compliment, really.  "Let's listen to it while we paint."
"I've got it queued up."

I loved this conversation because learning about those landmark moments where art meets circumstances opens up so much about a person. It's not just about likes and dislikes for people who talk like Luz and me; it's a kind of transparency. Ginny Owens' 'Without Condition' during my first fall in college. Bebo Norman's 'Big Blue Sky' that first year I was at summer camp. Mat Kearney's 'Bullet' over that crazy year of youth ministry and trying to find my way home. Those pieces of art associated with those times in my life are especially powerful.Though they might not hold up artistically, they still remind me of the dreams and joys and fears I had then.

It turned out I had heard a few songs from Straightjacket before from Paste Magazine samplers and so on. But this song was new to me. I think lyric writing is a very difficult thing to do; I certainly can't do it. But I love seeing the words of a song I like written out. While incomplete without the music, the lyrics have grace of their own. 

Work to Be Done

She was older 

Lost connection 
Lost that light above her head in all directions
But she climbed that mountain
And cried aloud like a marching drum
Sound your horns and heed your calling

There is work to be done
There is work to be done
We’re all just dust to glory
There is work to be done
There is work to be done
Bow your head to the mission story

He couldn’t see it
But he heard it
She saw him struggling with the symbols
So she wrote it down
She looked right through him
And saw the shadows of the risen Son
Cast your nets unto the ocean

There is work to be done
There is work to be done
We’re all just dust to glory
There is work to be done
There is work to be done
Bow your heads to the mission story

I remember when I borrowed all my healing from a stranger
And I recall when I reached into the ocean like a soldier
And the burning sun just made me colder
And the hollow moon just made me older
So I reached out of my body and the stars became a story
And I bowed my head in glory
As the story ends in One

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I picked the first raspberries of the season from the patch in my parents' backyard last week.

P6240109.ORFThe berries are gorgeous and delicious. I love that we can grow so many berries here in the northwest.

Incidentally, you can actually see my left-hand index finger in this picture, and you can see that it has returned to it's former finger-shape, for the most part. I was in doubt for a long while.

The scar across the fingerpad that is visible here is the mark of the deepest cut that went 1/3 through the bone. 

I can now pick berries and do most other activities, such as typing, and I have full movement of the finger joint. It's still a little oddly shaped from the dorsal side--the scars are still tighter on that side so the fingertip looks narrower somehow. And also the cut that went through the dorsal side whipped through the nailbed, so now that my fingernail is grown out by 3/4 of an inch the nail with its own mirror-image cut is grown out. I use superglue to keep the nail together until it grows all the way out, but the cut nail shows me a "calendar" of how much time has passed since the injury. 3/4 inch...4 1/2 months.

Nerve tingles still happen, and the very tip is still numb, for the most part. People tell me it can take a year or more to redevelop those nerves. So sometimes I still get off-center on the keyboard because I cannot feel the little bump that tells me where "home" is. 

I hit the caps key instead of "A", and suddenly I'm typing strings of nonsense.

Funny how just being one key off can result in nonsense.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sanity Lessons

I recently started sanity lessons. 

I have never done official counseling before, except for a short bout of career counseling at a critical juncture of career decision-making. My Sanity Lessons are a place to bounce ideas, to air out--and discover--lies that I have been living on, and to hear them spoken back to me so I realize that they are, in fact, lies. I can explore my motivations, express mourning, and discuss important decisions and how to make them, when to say no to opportunities, get "permission" sometimes to give myself time off. 

My counselor 'gospels' me: "Why do you feel that you need to do that? What does it say about your identity if you say no? does it change how God sees you?" 

P7081677.ORF After four weeks of counseling, and reading a book my counselor recommended, I finally wrote down a lie that I apparently believe and operate in, a lie I still am not sure what to do with. 

"I believe that being a single woman for my whole life means being barren and unloved." 

 I know that God loves me, my family loves me, and I have many friends who love me (as imperfectly as I love them). I have friends who are much older and single, and while I see sometimes the losses in their life of love and family as echoes of what I miss, too, I don't think of their lives as worthless and unloved.

But experiencing intimate, knowing-and-being known love "with skin on" is a deep longing for me and for most of my friends who have remained single for any length of time. Someone to look forward to the years with and make life decisions with. Someone who shares the burdens and joys of life. 

Every question about singleness then, for me has been not just "how do I deal with being single today and for possibly my lifetime?" but "how do I deal with being unloved and barren today and for possibly my lifetime?" I'm not saying that's how everyone feels, but that is the lie that I'm trying to combat in my own understanding. 

As a single woman, I struggle with feeling unloved in concrete ways. I mow my lawn AND do my housecleaning, laundry, and work full-time to pay for everything I own or consume. It's down to me to make sure my taxes are complete and accurate, that my insurance is paid, that my finances are secure, and that I save or invest in my future. If my car breaks down, I ride the bus. If I'm injured I take myself to the emergency room, fill out the forms, fill the prescription, make myself chicken soup and make sure I have ice packs and clean blankets before taking the pain meds so I can crash on the couch. It doesn't *really* make a difference in anyone's life if I have a horrible day at work and arrive home, dinnerless and exhausted, at 8pm to a dark house full of dirty dishes, empty toilet paper rolls, and broken appliances. Ok, I'm painting a dark picture. Last time I went to the emergency room, my parents took me and stayed with me past midnight, bless them.

In addition to Sanity Lessons, I pay for Massage Therapy. Nobody rubs my feet or massages my shoulders when I'm weary, or runs a hand through my hair or even gives me hugs on a regular basis. No one so much as holds my hand, not to mention anything beyond that. Massage therapy once a month or so helps to combat the chill of being unloved via touch. Massage Therapy is one concrete way that I can take care of myself. For one hour a month, I get permission to physically relax. 

 I have a friend who has returned uncountable times to an abusive relationship. Despite counsel and help, advice and begging, she continues to go back because 'when he's all right', she FEELS loved. She asked me once to make her a picture that contained a lyric from the band The Head and the Heart. They original lyric reads "You're already home where you feel loved." In my painting for her, I changed the sentiment to "You're already home when you *are* loved." 

Maybe feeling loved is as much of an idol for me, in my resentment, as it is for her in her addiction

 Will I be okay if I never experience feeling known and loved in that way? Will every time I have to walk into a party alone, do my taxes alone, eat dinner alone, fumble through a career move or house move alone feel like salt in a wound? What if it does? 

 Feeling loved vs. Being loved 

 This is what I cannot seem to resolve. I know I AM loved by the only one who really matters. but I struggle with feeling UNloved because I don't receive some of the concrete forms of love in the ways that seem so sweet and good and true and part of God's plan for community and family. I see my roommates, friends, and siblings being "loved on", challenged, accepted, refreshed, encouraged, motivated, rejoiced in, and cherished, and I see them grow in their relationships. Is it any wonder I see great joy in loving and being loved like that? Who wouldn't desire that? 

 I vacillate between finger-shaking at God: "You PROMISED, God. You SAID you would give me the desires of my heart. These are the desires you gave me. Why then do they go unfulfilled? That seems like a dirty, low-down trick." 

and momentary glimpses of the truths that he IS good, he IS God, he IS faithful, and that my perspective is small. I have more questions than answers, just as everyone does. 

So what do I do? 

Do I live a life of mourning? 

 I don't want to do that. I want to wake up every morning feeling loved. Feeling known. Feeling beautiful, precious, cherished. I think that is a small part of what God wants for me. 

 Perhaps feeling loved simply isn't rooted where I think it should be. I'm still figuring it out.

Monday, July 9, 2012


Hospitality is not opposite to consumption 
But the other side of this grace 
is only to receive freely 
the gospel-giving of hearts in communion.
From hand to hand we receive this body, 
broken for you 
-pressed down shaken together overflowing- 
Even in receiving hospitality, 
to give away joy to those who would give.