meriggiare

we have named our apartment “meriggiare,” which is italian for “sit out the noon.” it’s a shaded place, a hot-but-shaded place, and it is welcoming and restful and wonderful in the heat of this desert, and i love that the light reminds me of europe. it makes me happy.

i’ve been saying that a lot: “i am happy,” “i am so happy!” “i am really, really happy.” It feels like an experiment in joy, a “did God, would God, has He, is He” meeting my expectations and going far beyond what i could have imagined when all this started back in november last year.

we have margin, and a place to “sit out the noon” and invite people in and sit down and do some quiet living if we want to, in spite of the construction and remodeling around us here. i kind of don’t want to move very soon. i could see us doing christmas here, maybe a year or two until we have saved a little to put down on a house or something. it has its quirks, but we like it.

i keep thinking about life, about how it would have been dumb of God to make people and then give them a to-do list in regard to Him. we put our own spirituality onto our dust, almost like an eternal penance for eating the fruit in the garden – but we were made in His image as humans, spirit in dust, and i really do believe that He meant for us to praise Him by just being what he made us to be, with the added element of eternal life that allows us to know Him and eventually, to see Him as He is.

i don’t know how it all works together, living human and being His, but that’s what it is, a paradox that means i am in the world and not really of it, that says i am under grace which restores me to Him to simply *be.*

not unhealthy

i figured out the thing that hit me hardest when i was at my parents’ a few weeks ago. i walked in feeling pretty healthy – exhausted as anything, but pretty healthy as a person – and needing some rest, only to be told that I am NOT healthy, that my kids were running me ragged, and that i would be facing consequences down the line from the decisions i am making now.

permit me a tiny rant, but um, that’s not okay. healthy people don’t do that to other people. i wouldn’t do that to my parents, regardless of what i think of their choices. i recognize that this is just part of life, but when i think about the way i have lived mine, i am proud of my choices. i am proud that i chose to make room for my feelings and keep living my life on a practical, realistic level. i am proud that i have learned how to stay and how to go and how to love and how to offer grace – to myself and to others. and i am proud that i am not living in shame because i can’t perform the way they raised me to perform.

i like being happy and having peace and real joy with God working in my life to care for me and for my people. my expectation is from Him, not from what i invest or don’t invest.

i can’t change the critical narrative with which i grew up, but i can damn well refuse to live it out. i *like* my life, i *like* my kids, and i *like* trusting God with the outcome when i can’t see five, ten, twenty-five years down the road. i want my kids to know Him, and i will do what i can to point them that direction and encourage them to be healthy and productive people, but i’m not meant to be the guardian of their every move, not meant to be the Person to provide their every need and desire. it is OKAY for me not to be what i often feel i have to be. it is OKAY for them to make choices and be strong people themselves.

chalk this one up to #thinksthatcometomewheniclean.

magic – a meditation

byKSauer0000813

when the words come (not this morning, i think), they are simple words for intense feelings, but they are the right words. of course, i don’t have time to write them down or the ability to remember them later – i am a bit of a blur as my life moves on ahead of me, not caring if i am keeping up or not. i wait, believing that i can come back into it when i am ready, once i figure out how my skin feels on me in this new place.

i’m reading again, and i like it. i am exploring eat, pray, love by elizabeth gilbert, having read her big magic on the plane last weekend. i’m thinking about inspiration, wondering if it truly is alive the way she describes it, or if it is Him, seeking out open hearts. i’d like to think He’s got a bigger magic than i can comprehend – and i think it’s funny, that i have always thought of Him as magic. i wonder if He’s okay with that.

i do like writing, in spite of the limitations on my words right now. i keep thinking that i have a book in me, but it’s not for right now. i’m only remembering how to use words right now, only relearning my voice in the words that have retreated as i let the pictures speak for me for so long.

i landed in a place last weekend where i used to fit. while i wasn’t surprised to find that i didn’t fit there anymore, i was surprised to find that i didn’t want to fit there anymore. the experience triggered a restlessness in me. i felt both trapped and liberated – i don’t know what that means. these old spaces that i have been in aren’t comfortable. the memories were overwhelming – one moment thanking Him for the familiar, the next moment howling with grief over my losses. (i’ve rarely cried uncontrollably, that gut-level shrieking sob that seems to surface only in my most painful moments.)

something is happening in me. i don’t have the energy to fight or control or do – if i had to find a word for it, i think i would choose “receiving,” standing with my hands open as life does what it’s going to do, waiting to see how He will act on it – half-believing He won’t, but expecting that He will. it’s an odd paradox, standing in faith while holding so many doubts. i think i want Him to be real more than i want anything; i don’t believe i can call Him into existence like a fairy, by clapping my hands or squinting my eyes shut and calling Him down. The “magic” I ascribe to Him is in the reality of His being, and His somehow being for me, even as He is for Himself.

mornings in-between

by k. sauer

We finally bought that patio table I’ve been dreaming about, and I’ve found my spot in our new apartment where the light is white and I can hear the birds and feel the breezes in the morning and the evening. I think I knew before we came that I’d end up on the patio, that I would forgive the heat for the cool of the day when I would find a way to breathe.

Today I might be getting in the way of the construction workers, but they don’t seem to mind my being here, and I don’t really mind them – I understand about doing what needs to be done when you can do it. They’re on the roof, and there is a shadow falling across the wall of the patio, and the kids are coming in and out, and I feel a little bit alive again, being out in the life bits of the world. It makes me imagine what it might be like to live in a European village somewhere, where the laundry gets hung out the windows and there are always stories happening around you.

I can’t quite get this apartment to feel like home – I suppose that might be expected. We’re thinking about how long we’ll stay, how long can all three kids share a bedroom, how long we will live by halves until we think about owning a house again, how long it will be until we are truly Home. After thirty-some moves, I don’t really believe we get to have that on earth anymore.

But I figured out over the weekend that the thing I am looking for isn’t so much a forever home – it’s the ability to feel content wherever I am. I crave hygge, and the scent of fresh bread baking and bacon for breakfast and the light coming in, throwing sunbeams across the living room. It’s finding green outside my window, nurturing life where it might not otherwise exist, holding expectation in spaces where I question His ability and desire to provide the abundance He’s promised.

We’re in between here – and we know it. We didn’t know it before when we bought a house and made plans to stay in Charleston. I am re-learning how to make memories without having to have them again, trying to reorient myself in a time zone that comes after all the other time zones, trying not to feel as though I have been left behind as all my friends and people I know get up hours before I wake and go to bed hours before I am ready to sleep.

It feels good to write again. To record the narrative in my mind. It helps me clear my head a little. I want to hold these moments.

words that…

i need words
the words that say more
than pictures do,

words that script colors
on white
with only
black and white

words that tell
what happened
what happens
what happens next

words that express
feeling and sadness
that give
courage and happiness

i need words that help
me understand
who i am
becoming.

5-30-2016

snapshot

Do you feel alive at all? Because I don’t feel like I know you right now.

If it’s any consolation, I don’t feel like I know me right now either. I feel dark inside. And very, very tired.

When I Need Him

Sometimes, I am afraid He is not really there. For big things like car accidents and 9/11 and cancer, or for littler things like gall bladder issues and daily peace. There is an essential oil for anything you want to feel or not feel, and death has to happen, and gall bladders will do what gall bladders will do – there are reasonable explanations for everything good and everything bad that happens in the world.

I don’t want to stop believing in Him – there is nothing like imagining Him out of existence that frightens me more – but I am having a hard time lately. Maybe I am looking for a sign that could only be Him, but then, wouldn’t I try to explain that away?

Driving to the doctor this morning, the tears began, and they stayed close through my visit and spilled over as I tried to breathe normally in an oxygen chamber meant to help me feel better than I have for the last week. Why do I have to believe in a God who is good when He doesn’t always act on the bad things with His goodness? My adult self is, I think, grieving for the God I wanted to believe as a child – but I wonder if I believed as a child again if He would reveal Himself to me?

I love Him – I wouldn’t be complete without Him in my life – but I am afraid sometimes that I have invented Him, that all this here is all there is, and if that is the case, why go on? His Person is so much more than His doings.

When I am at the end of me, though, I can’t help needing Him. I don’t always like that His Kingdom is not of this world. Everybody is praying for a loved one who has cancer, and many times, their prayers go unanswered. Is God just trying to school us in His sovereignty when we ask and are denied? Do we have such a small faith that He is ignoring us? Why does He want us to need Him if He won’t act on our lives?

This is a funny switch from my fear that He WILL act on my life, though. I have been reliving our Alaska trip since Noley came, thinking about the endless depth of the sea that surrounded our ship, the way it moved beneath me, nothing holding us up but itself. I don’t know if I have ever been called upon to trust like that in real life, not even really in an airplane, which can land even if it is in distress. There was NOTHING but the sea, and that morning I watched it and felt it, I felt His love for me, and I fell in love with God all over again, and yet I still held back from asking Him what He’d invited me to ask Him.

That’s the trust He’s asking of me, to let His love, as deep and endless as the ocean, to hold me up, to let the wellspring of His heart meet my deepest needs, not just my physical needs. I’m floundering here, though, trying to breathe, but so very afraid of so many things, and so very tired of dealing with my body. I need help, on so many fronts right now, and I’m not spiritual enough or childlike enough to ask Him for it, or at least to ask Him for it in the *right* way, if there is such a thing.

The peace that passes understanding – it’s not something you can arrange to have, you know?

Apparently, I Don’t Believe

And I’m not yet sure I want to…

Since I was a child, I’ve heard about that eighteen inches between the head and the heart. I was taught the danger of knowing something in your head and not believing it in your heart. Living like that was never okay – you couldn’t just know “about” God – you needed to “know God,” or you would, of course, be lost forever.

(Oddly enough, many of the people who taught me this lesson are the same people who also teach to “believe in your head and your heart will follow.” Let me leave the irony there for the moment, however.)

As I grew and learned to speak the truth in my heart, I felt that I managed to avoid the 18-inch gap that stretches for eternity without the Holy Spirit’s work in a heart, and in typical, human fashion, I rather checked the lesson off my list of things to pay attention to, pretty much figuring that if God had me, He had me, and He would take care of it.

This worked fine until this year, when God decided to do that thing He promises to do to people who draw near to Him – He drew near to me.

And let me tell you. Having God draw near is one of the most incredibly uncomfortable things that can happen to a girl who, for all intents and purposes, has been living a practical deism for the last ten years or so. It’s not that I have taken God for granted, and it’s not that I don’t believe that He can or would weigh in on things in the world. I don’t really think He created the world, set it spinning, and then stood back to watch all the things go down without Him once He set things in motion.

But apparently, I do believe that He only ever intended to get as close as Christ, and since everything begins and ends with Him and His life, death, resurrection, and return, I have no right to expect to see any blessing, interaction, intervention, or presence of God in my actual everyday life here on earth. However subtle it may have been, at some point in the last several years, I simply stopped believing that God’s goodness was at all specific.

Except there was that time… And there was that one too. And He *did* specifically tell me that these things were good gifts that He was giving to me

My jaw kind of dropped yesterday as I realized that for everything I believe in my head about God, I really don’t believe in my heart that He intends to be good to me. The reason I hate the word “blessing” is that it feels like a curse. I reject the idea that delighting myself in Him should have any effect whatsoever on my life outside of a fulfillment of my spiritual obligation, and the thought that He will “give you the desires of your heart” (if those desires are not specifically Him as my great reward) makes me throw up a little in my mouth.

I’m sorry. That’s probably heresy. And here I’ve been living it.

So that eighteen inches between my head and my heart is getting me into trouble, because even if a body is doctrinally “right” in the head about God, you can’t leave the heart behind, because it is with the heart that “man believeth unto righteousness.” You don’t get a to-do list to check off for spirituality when you’re walking humbly with your God. You get your heart and God holding it and holding you and being God enough to do so with Christ covering up the rest of the mess with His righteousness.

I don’t know what to do with God when He gets all Old Testamenty in my life and wants to interact in “all my ways” as I’m learning to acknowledge Him there. I think I do want blessing, and happy, and I want to say “oh LOOK what God did!” – but I’m scared to let Him in, really let Him in, and be that specific and that personal with me in my world.

Because I’m the better manager for this life that is not my own, don’t you see.

My practical deism has just been given a limited lifespan. I’m not sure I am ready to say with the Roman centurion – “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” But I think I’m willing to wait a little longer with Him drawing near, and take one step at a time while I am learning how to humble myself in His sight. I’m already generally okay with His being God. I guess it’s time for me to learn some specifics, huh?

How Great?

My mom told me recently that the first time she ever felt me move in her womb was during a congregational hymn at – of all places – a Bill Gothard convention. The irony of that location alone makes me snort a bit – and to be perfectly honest, the hymn that made me dance then has been making me snort even more lately, for the irony that “How Great Thou Art” has been the song in my head for as long as I can remember, and it is, in a way, the very last song I want to sing right now.

All my life, He has been my safe place in my music. I wasn’t ever meant to compete, or even to lead worship in church – it was a special line of communication between me and Himself, a way of speaking my prayer, of listening to Him. It has always been what He has used to open my heart to Him, whether I am singing, or playing piano. It is where I know He cares about me, where I understand Him, where I am allowed to fly. There *is* no edge of the cliff to stay away from when I sing – except when I have been angry with Him.

It’s not that He even deserves my anger lately – I don’t think, anyway. His challenge to me to ask Him for weddings has become quite the conversation, and it is almost May and I haven’t asked because I am afraid that He will let me down, and on the days I am not, I am afraid that I don’t know how to ask properly to get what I want, and I am afraid of wanting what I want enough to ask Him for it and risk wanting Him to weigh in on my life in a tangible, practical way. And I am afraid of “no” and “too much” and of His saying “yes” and then being overwhelmed with things I don’t want, because “relationship” and “love” is never as easy as “oh that’s beautiful” – it is always “exquisite,” like crucifixion, and suffering, and “diverse temptations.”

Last weekend He went into “ye have not because ye ask not” with me, and “if your son asks you for bread, do you give him a stone?” and then a wedding I really, really wanted to shoot went to another photographer, along with a piece of my heart. I felt less. Worthless. Shattered. And so. very. angry.

Because as much as I believe He is good, I do not believe that I have a right to expect that His particular goodness would extend my direction, and I know that I know that I know that He is not a “vending machine” God, only there to answer my prayers like some cosmic genie in order to get what I want. I know that I don’t deserve anything, that I have no right to expect anything from Him. He is God after all. He’s most interested in His own glory.

I told Him to screw off.

And then the next day I found myself breathing the words, “Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy hands have made…

I wanted to smack myself, walking the edge of that cliff that suddenly reared itself before me. No way was He safe enough for me to handle sending that particular song His way. No way was I ready to acknowledge His greatness if I couldn’t desire – or accept, or ask for – His greatness in my own life.

It has been fun to imagine it this year as I’ve thought about asking for weddings. To think about what I might see happen if He really does do exceedingly abundantly above all I can ask or imagine. It has been wonderful to consider what “being childlike” in my faith could mean for my walk with Him.

But I am not childlike. Holy wow, I am not childlike. I am a fighter and a control freak and I think I know the whole story and if I don’t know it, I am CERTAIN it will not be good if I cannot guarantee the outcome I want.

I’m stuck, you know? Wanting Him, not being sure I want Him, knowing through to my marrow that He is great and He is God and He loves me and deserves my praise, knowing how utterly empty I am without Him. Like the Psalmist said, His love hems me in both behind and before – He has laid His hand on me from the time I was in my mother’s womb, and my freedom is also the thing that constrains me, that holds me back from doing and seeking whatever and I want with my life without acknowledging Him.

GOD, I wish knowing Him was only about “doing the right thing.” I wish it didn’t involve desire and my whole heart and all my strength and all of the self He created – and is recreating – in me. I wish He could just be God-up-there and worry about all the spiritual stuff. This whole God-with-us thing is throwing me. I can like Him just fine so long as He doesn’t really want to be involved in my life.

But I need Him so much. I need Him to be concerned about my needs and my desires and the little things that make me happy. I need to know He doesn’t just care about everybody else, and even then just the big things. I need to know that somehow His desire for His own glory means that I have a place with Him even when my world seems to be falling apart at the seams, even when disappointment and thwarted desire challenge my ability to trust that God-who-is-great really does work all things together for the good of those whom He has called.

I am *in* it right now. I don’t know how to ask for weddings anymore than I did last Friday, and I trust Him less now, especially with all the logistical issues after the baby is born. I worry that He will just say “no” (when He has intimated that He has a “yes” for me!), and that all this business-building and investment I have done has just been a joke. It all feels like a joke at the moment. Except being His and not wanting it but wanting it more than anything.