Wednesday, July 30, 2008

time to mold the clay

i think today i finally gave up, literally hit that wall and couldn't go another step. cancelled the rest of my appts. for the day, went home and requested a 2 week leave of absence from work to try and get some perspective and deal with the source of all this anguish. I would say half is overwhelming work and half is a deep, personal wrestling in me with God himself. I'll give you 2 guesses who is winning that particular wrestling match.

I will start that 2 week leave of absence/sabbatical from work on Friday August 8. Until then, I'm going to try and get as much taken care of from work as possible, but I'm letting it all go.

I have come to the end and giving myself over to surrender. Whatever God wants is what I want. What following Jesus looks like, its the path I want. If I'm to leave this job to seek the next step for me, even if I don't have something else in place, I'm gonna trust Jesus to bring us there. If I'm to stay and reinvent this job situation with boundaries and God at the center of me, then I'll follow him through that. I'm done controlling what provision looks like, I made a mess of it and it made a mess of me. I'm a large hump of clay, time for some molding.

This day has been very revealing and I find that to be encouraging. I'm encouraged as I head to bed, I think I'm ready to go toe to toe with some of these root issues within me.

I think I'm finally ready to ask God to heal my heart for Him not healing Palmer. there, i said it, only took me 2 1/2 years. I think I'm ready to ask God to heal my heart for a fatherless and abusive childhood. there, i said it, only took me 35 1/2 years. My pride has held onto these pains and stuffed them down deep within me. My pain has too long been a source of my identity, its time to crush that clay and remold something new. I can't make any of this happen, I'm just here saying I'm ready and open.

peace to your heart of clay,

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Book Review Endorsement

I highly reccomend this book review site on Kingdom topics and issues, simple and missional living for followers of Jesus. Chris Smith is a friend and I think does a great job for busy folk like me to get some helps on future reading. Check it out.

Englewood Review of Books

Sunday, July 27, 2008

sliver of light

I chose to stay home tonight with my kids while my wife is still away instead of going to house church tonight. I hate to ever miss house church, its an anchor in my week to be with the church gathered in community. But I was/am exhausted continuing to wrestle with the unravelling pieces of my inner life. I'm going to guess that at some point tonight in that meeting, they were praying for me, because I saw a sliver of light in my dark thought processes. I kind of feel like I've been a plane spiraling out of control and i kept looking to the horizon just to see and know which way was up and which way was down. Something kind of broke through to give me just a glimpse of perspective tonight and its a thread I want to keep pulling. I can only assume its because there are people somewhere else praying for me, caring for me more than I care for myself.

I'm doing what i can with what I have to be productive in my turmoil and darkness. I know that I need to keep my heart open because it has been hardening and that just isn't me. I have gotten my guitar back out this week, just had my second gig all by myself playing and singing some old songs and seeing if they connect to that person deep inside me. I think i heard at least echoes of a former self down there, there were some slivers of light, it wasn't all darkness. Its important for me to admit that I am a heartfelt, passionate and emotional person and that I can't keep that bottled up, even if its dark I need to rage towards God. Keep myself open in the hopes that He is going to show up again.

I'm also asking some pretty difficult questions about myself. I'm finding patterns of self-loathing and criticism, remnants of displaced drivenness and perfectionism, and roots of a people-pleasing imprisonment that has left me completely burned out and bitter. mmmmmm, the inner self is just so dang tasty.

I scoured my bookcases for books, old or new that may need to be picked up and thrown at the wall of my mind to see if they stick. Tonight's choice is a bit our of my normal reading cuz is so mainstream christian sub-culture but it's "Get a Life" by Reggie McNeal. I think our denomination sent this to all church planters, i know i didnt' buy it. Here are a couple snippets:
The way you are living today is how you are living life. None of us get today back. . . . We can choose to defer living until some circumstances are met, but that means every day till then is another lost day of life. . . . If you choose to get a life, get ready to ask yourself some hard questions.

Not half bad thoughts, I'm gonna peruse it further. I do know that my circumstances are not nearly bad enough for the inner turmoil I'm feeling, I've got some demons in here that need confronted. Jesus slept on the boat during the storms, I need a piece of that action.

a sliver of light tonight, keep praying church!


Friday, July 25, 2008

A trip to the ER

Well, nothing like physical manifestations of emotional turmoil.

Thursday afternoon while at work, I thought my appendix was bursting. Started having very sharp pains in my right lower abdomen that kept coming in waves. then came the nausea and then vomiting, good good times. the beauty was as well that my wife had just left for one of her annual "girls" trips with friends, my daughters are at summer camp and so I'm responsible for my son. He was left at an aunt's house and I took myself into the ER, that drive was excruciating and a bit scary, I know that the appendix is nothing to mess with.

6 hours in the ER, some morphine, blood work, urine test and CAT scan and my appendix was pretty normal as well as the rest of my vital organs. Went home and slept off the morphine. Back to my primary Dr. today and he's pretty sure that I have a flared up intestine that is stress induced. That would mimic all the same symptoms of appendicitis. That explains the sharp pains and why they come in waves. Felt okay today, much better than yesterday but I still feel twinges.

So, all the wrestling and anger and stress etc. ended up taking a physical toll on my body. I'm gonna have to look at some changes to me or my circumstances or both, what I'm doing or how I'm handling it is not sustainable.

Had a fun day today with my son and look forward to picking up the girls from camp tomorrow morning, being around them is a constant sabbatical, they keep things real.

well, to my brothers and sisters out there in similar struggles, take care of yourself.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Sound of Settling

I have not done a good job at making peace with my vocation and the fact that it makes me feel like I'm becoming a completely different person, one that I don't even like. One of my former students when I taught high school saw me today and said to her Mom who works with me, "Mr. Marshall doesn't look happy anymore". I've heard my oldest daughter say similar things to me. On the outside it appears I'm giving off sounds of settling. Settling for a life disconnected from my heart and gifts. Settling for letting others use me in their own pursuits of pride and greed. I never wanted to settle for anything short of the dreams and passions on my heart but I feel trapped and I admit I'm losing hope in it all. Settling says this is all there is, it doesn't get better and the sooner you wake up to that fact the better off you'll be. Settling sucks.

Above is one of my favorite pics of my lost friend, Palmer. I still miss him so much. He wouldn't have let me settle, he never did. He lived his life on purpose and in simplicity. His life was his art, it was quite beautiful. It was a life I felt was worth fighting for. I longed, prayed and fasted for his healing. I never believed in his death until i left his coffin and even then I still wasn't giving up but it was for naught. Either God has some master plan he doesn't feel like telling us or I lost that fight. Both answers as you can see haven't left me with much peace about it all. I'm sure its connected to all the other disappointments and shattered dreams I'm wrestling with.

I took that pic of Palmer, it was on Cuthbert Island off the North coast of England. In the background was the ruins of the ancient Abbey and behind us was the coast at low tide. We sat with our Irish pints and journaled on that day and in that place. I remember that being a day that my heart was fully alive, not as it is now. If I would have known then that Palmer had cancer, I would have prayed over him in all those ancient holy places. Rather, we just enjoyed what we had and although I'm severely disappointed with the outcome, I'm thankful to have those days and the memories of the adventure with him.

Palmer never settled for the death of his 1st wife, Jennifer. He held out hope for her until the very end. I really have never seen anything quite like his faith. And then for himself to be diagnosed with cancer, suffer greatly and leave this life with the same disease is quite puzzling. But he never lost hope, he never settled for anything less than a resurrection and that's what I prayed for him. I wonder if he can pray resurrection for me tonight? I don't have a freakin' clue where to turn or what to do, so I will ask Palmer wherever he is sleeping tonight to pray for me. He wouldn't listen to the sounds of settling, here's to hoping he'll help me not to listen either.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday's "what were you thinking?" post

1) Going back to the post about when Rains and I met, this was about that time period, 6-7 years ago. I guess the pic shows a pretty immediate friendship.

2) Is that the beginning of a mullet? Who let me out of the house with that hair? A true "what were you thinking?" moment.

3) Thanks to Creech the always present photographer with a great eye for the sacred and spontaneous.

I'm going to try and rid myself of this melancholoy disposition this weekend, we'll see how that goes.

peace to your weekend,

Thursday, July 17, 2008

a life less complicated?

When I was younger, I had vigor and passion. I had a sense of calling, I dreamed of a preferred future, life lacked complication. I had time and space to think, reflect, read and be. This just isn't who I am anymore.

I wonder if its just a season of life. I work a job that mostly sucks the life out of me to provide for my family who are seemingly having a good life. They are healthy, present with one another, have daily bread and much more, good schooling, participate in their preferred extra-curriculars, friends, loved etc. Generally growing up in a safe environment both physically and emotionally, that can't be underestimated. There really isn't anything I wouldn't do to provide this for them, it makes just about anything worth it. Its part of growing up, its about them, not me.

I wonder if I'll ever be that other guy again someday? Will there come another season where I don't have to give my firstfruits of energies to the "man" in things I largely don't believe in? Is there such a thing as a job you love, or is that a myth?

Here in America, the present economic realities are rough and the future looks rougher. Having a job w/ benefits is to be considered a blessing, my mind tells me that. My mind also tells me its all relative, there are Kingdom brothers and sisters all over the world who are suffering greatly in poverty and under abusive government power structures. Who am I to complain? In fact I feel overwhelming guilt for just asking these questions, perhaps I should privatize these thoughts. (the reason I don't is because I don't think I'm alone in these questions)

How do you live the life of a monk as a Father of 3 in suburban America? How do you keep touch with your heart and deep dreams in a world of speed and greed? Whatever the answers are, I'm not doing a good job of it. I lack space and time to do much searching for it, mostly hoping that if there is an answer that it will find me.

Perhaps in the future I will walk in a field of a life less complicated, but for now I'm just trying to make peace with the mire I'm in.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Entering Politics

thank you, Rains

I needed encouragement today, and it came in the form of this:
the Kedge

In his sabbatical, Kevin is practing the art and discipline of remembering stories of his past. Our past shapes us doesn't it? Our past is a look into the who we are now. I am very thankful to be a part of Kevin's past and hopeful to be an eternal part of his future as well.

I needed encouragement, I have been in a physical/emotional/spiritual rut for a couple months (thus the complete lack of blog posts). I have felt a complete disconnect with my heart and that leaves me rudderless, wandering in the mundane, trying to stay above the waves, but mostly just choking on the salt water. Its been a bit of a wilderness and I'm not sure when its going to end, so I just look for markers on the course that assure me I'm not alone. Kevin's words did that for me today. I'm hoping to reconnect and remember who I am, or if this is to be a transformation, I'm hoping to get out of this cocoon and shed these scales. Perhaps this bout of existentialism is just the product of getting older.

Perhaps I'll need to blog on some stories of the past for me and see where it takes me. No promises, but I do miss blogging.