Tag Archives | being

What is the Shape of Your Soul?

daydream papa nap dream

The only statement you really need to make is the sound of Your Name pressed against the never-ending skin of the universe.

When someone is striving to be more spiritual or more religious, all too often they end up despising their physical existence in the hunt for the metaphysical. I have been guilty of this. I understand the impulse. I want to rub up against something divine, to grant Meaning and Purpose to my mundane existence. I want to believe things happen for a Reason, that the monotony and heartbreak of everyday life isn’t all that there is.

I’m not supposed to talk about these things. It’s not polite. But, during tragedies, or in the quiet, lonely moments of the night, these feelings slink about in my heart, like never-ending questions. What is the meaning? Who am I? What is my purpose?

I don’t have answers, but I find comfort in words. (more…)

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Paint Away The Pain: On Hard Times and Creating Art

whimsical whimsy owl squirrel mouse fox mooseElune and I are discussing artwork and the creative process. She asks me: “Have you ever used art to paint your way out of your hardest times in life or your inner struggles?”

This past year, I addressed some painful issues: depression, financial insecurity, old wounds, and disillusionment with church leadership. These topics probably seem even heavier when juxtaposed against the lighthearted and fanciful style of my artwork. How does my life experience inform my artwork? How can someone who thinks about such dark things create such whimsical pieces?

I’m not sure I have an answer. (more…)

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Depression, Suicide and Hope: My Redemption Story

jeans with ripped kneesI need to tell you about the time I tried to kill myself.

I spent my early twenties at Harding University. When I tell you that my school is a legalistic Christian school, this is what I mean: not only are there strict rules about modesty, one day I was stopped by a teacher in chapel and told to change because my jeans had ripped knees; girls and boys are in separate dorms, at opposite ends of campus, and have strict curfews; girls are required to pass a weekly cleaning inspection; not only is alcohol consumption forbidden for all students and staff, but if a student is merely seen holding a can of beer for someone else, they will be expelled. I could go on and on, but hopefully you get the picture: I was in a controlling environment.

When I think back to my emotional state at that time, I imagine myself cowering in the corner of a room, huddled with my head between my knees, with sticky black paint poured over my back, dripping down my head, pooling at my feet.

I was 22 years old when I overdosed on pills and was rushed to the hospital. I used to be afraid all the time that I would die by suicide. It hurt so much to be alive, and some days I just couldn’t bear it. I spent the entire ride to the hospital terrified that I had tried to commit suicide. (more…)

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((new portrait)) Beauty Grows In the Thick Of Things

I am a sublimation junkie.

Well, not technically. Let’s have a little tangent and unpack “sublimation” for a bit.

Psychologically speaking, sublimation is when you take something reprehensible and transform it into something acceptable. But that’s not what I mean. I get excited when I am presented with a situation that is painful, broken and sad, and out of the pain, something new and beautiful is born, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

Philosophically, Kant’s theories about The Sublime portrayed it as something beyond the grasp of mortal man. Mortal man is too messy, too complicated. However, I disagree with Kant. I don’t believe our messy, mortal lives are something we need to overcome or despise for their limitations. I believe we, as people, are fully and truly exactly who we are meant to be…and that connection to The Divine can be discovered when we live more fully, more deeply, and more truly exactly right where we are. (more…)

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Radio Lab, Musical DNA, and Surprising God

tech joy

My hands are in the sink. I am washing dishes. My family is off playing Nintendo. I am blissfully alone, and my mind is open. Radio Lab is on NPR.

The interview is with David Cope, a composer. When faced with musical writer’s block, Cope built an analytical computer program, named EMI (Experiments in Musical Intelligence). EMI is able to ascertain patterns unique to each composer run through its system. After analyzing scores of music, Cope applied algorithms from these composers to other works of music, giving them new and amazing life. (more…)

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I’m Just Like Isabel Briggs Myers

matt & phoebes

Myer-Briggs is my favorite personality test. When I stumbled across this little nugget about Isabel Myers and her husband, Clarence “Chief” Myers, I was exhilarated: I have the same personality type as Myers (INFP), our husbands have the same personality type (ISTJ), and, according to the Myers-Briggs test, we are NOT supposed to be compatible!

Isabel and Chief were, by all accounts, happily married; Matt and I are, as well (of course I have to say that, but it’s nevertheless true). However, learning to love each other has had its obstacles. I thought I’d share a few tidbits of what it’s like being an INFP who is married to an ISTJ: (more…)

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Confessions of an INFP (Introvert/Intuitive/Feeler/Perceiver)

birthday gangWhen I was preparing our home for Phoebe’s birthday party, I learned something eye-opening about my INFP personality type. The morning of a party, I always have anxiety, but not the type I always thought.

You see, I grew up in a structured and tidy home that was always presentable to guests. I’d always assumed my “party anxiety” was about presenting my guests with a perfectly hosted experience (aka: an experience like the one my mother would offer); however, that is not it at all!! I don’t care if my home, or anyone else’s home, is tidy or not…in fact, I find myself more at ease when there is a small to moderate amount of mess.

The reason I get anxious before a gathering is because I am an introvert. No matter how much I love hosting my friends, large groups make me extremely anxious. In this case, “large” meant 4 extra adults and 6 extra kids. HAHA!!! A much smaller crowd than Phoebe’s party last year, when our home was bursting at the seams with two dozen extra people. (more…)

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Flops and Failures

Fudge flop #2 has potential to become a tasty sauce. We’ll see!

It’s easy to feel like today was a failure. I screwed up making fudge. Twice. I messed up a piece of artwork I was going to give a friend. Phoebe ate NOTHING so she was in a bad mood from being hungry. I wanted to take a break from “Christmas prep” to have a fun family moment and sing carols while I played guitar, but Phoebe kept saying, “No! No! No!” and then started twisting my guitar strings out of tune. Plus, we’re having a ton of issues breaking down a table we need to move into the living room, because we’re hosting Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow. And I feel sick.

I’m most anxious about not having gifts for people I care deeply about. Because of the fudge flops and the art flops and the LIFE flops, there are no gifts made for any of the family that is coming over tomorrow. Not even the kids. STRESS! We had *plans* for gifts, and we’d budgeted time to make them, but it’s just turning into an impossibility. On top of that, I have no gifts for a few local friends that I hold very dear in my heart. “How will people know I love them if I don’t give them gifts?? How will they know I care?? It’s Christmas and I owe it to them to show them that they are special to me! If I don’t get my special gifts made and delivered by Christmas, it’ll be a disaster!!” THESE are the thoughts and fears racing through my head.

Deep breath.

Say a prayer.

Complain to Matt about it.

Say another prayer.

Ok, God. Maybe I’m not supposed to make the gifts I’d wanted to give today. Maybe I’m just not supposed to give gifts this year. Is that ok? I feel uneasy about it. But right now I’m out of time & there are more important things.

Like playing with my daughter.

And kissing my husband.

And nursing.

And family time.

And opening gifts from Grandma & Grandpa Healy a little early (Thanks guys! Phoebe was super sad for a bit, and your gifts were a life saver!)

And, mostly, leaning into the greatest gifts that surround me: my dear family, a home warmed by love and spirit, and the grace of my Lord.

I hate being incomplete and imperfect. I hate not living up to my standards. But, I guess if Jesus came to Earth to forgive me for not living up to His standards, who am I to overrule the mind and heart of God? If Jesus can forgive me, I can forgive myself (I have to forgive myself…I need to forgive myself…).

Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of taking me just as I am and filling me with the goodness that You are.

A few pictures from the day…

Muffins are just an excuse to eat dessert for breakfast. And I took advantage of that excuse!

Busy. Busy. Busy.

Playing with Christmas stacking dolls.

No matter how busy it got, I still had my helper.

We had really fun family moments today, too!

Her hands are blurry because she’s tickling herself. Lol.

Nursed to sleep by the light of the Christmas tree. By Erin

Posted using Tinydesk blog app

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Live Extravagantly. (Because Living Simply is Hogwash)

live extravagantly collageI’m going to tell you something about our Western culture. It is simple. It is easy. Hungry? Eat a snickers. Lonely? Social network. Bored? Flip the channels; or watch You Tube; or play Angry Birds. Everything is at our fingertips, and we don’t have to work hard for almost anything. We are a culture of open access and consumerism.

I, however, am a wily counter-culturist. I am not satisfied with living simply. I don’t want to roll over and sip a McDonalds fake-milkshake. I want to make life better. I want to grow. I want to learn. I want to give my spirit a chance to soar.

I want to live extravagantly.

The phrase “live simply” really irritates me. First of all, I usually see it, embellished and for sale at a ridiculous price, or on display in a gaudy and overcrowded room. The whole idea of selling people the phrase “live simply” goes against the entire point of the virtue. If you want to simplify, start by getting rid of The Stuff. And, if you need a token on your wall, turn over the junk mail envelope you were about to recycle, and scribble your virtuous reminder in your own handwriting, then stick it in plain sight with a thumbtack.

On a deeper note, the phrase “live simply” irritates me because it implies a sort of ease and abandon. As in: “If only we would shun all of the things that bind us, and could release ourselves to just live…to Live…to simply and poignantly LIVE.” I call rubbish. Anything worth having, doing or being in life isn’t easy; neither is it simple. I’m not satisfied with having a simple marriage; I want a passionate one where we dream together and build a wonderful life together while having lots and lots of sex. I’m not satisfied with having simple friendships; I want to bear my soul to people, to let them see how complex and ugly I can get, and to still know that they will stand by me when the going gets tough. I’m not satisfied with being a simple parent; I want to be extraordinary, to show my baby true compassion, humility and imagination.

I want to live extravagantly.

A tangible example of what I’m talking about is our food choices. If you want to be an automaton about nutrition, just eat whatever you’re advertised and don’t give it a second thought. If, however, you want to eat better food, you have to learn more about how to cook, or which restaurants to go to, or how to garden…and it’s a complicated process. Now, I love to eat fresh, local, in-season foods, but five years ago I couldn’t see past the Happy Meal and Hamburger Helper. I had to let myself get confused. I had to challenge myself to find different sources of food. I had to be willing to prepare foods I’d never even heard of before. But now I’m becoming an excellent cook, and this year I’m trying my hand at gardening, never satisfied to let inertia set in. I will grow. I will learn. I will throw my hat into the ever-complex and changing ring we call “life.”

And here’s the deeper truth: Life. Is. Complex. Whether or not you see that reality, it’s true. The food at the grocery store had a long road to get there, whether or not you are aware of it. The choices we make in relationships affect us and others in profound psychological and sociological ways. Therefore, we can tune out and waste our time away with simple, easy diversions that muffle our souls. Or, we grow, bit by bit, into colorful, imperfect, graceful, awkward beings. Let us fill ourselves with strength, beauty, fears and dreams. Let us pour out the cups of our hearts, leaving room for God to move in our deepest ditches. Let us romance and giggle and cry and forgive.

Let us all live a little more extravagantly.

By ekwetzel

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