May 192010
 


If I speak in the tongue of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I have to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13


Revolutions tend to get busy and loud and so it’s important to periodically huddle the team together, look closely at each other, and remember what all the revolting’s about.

Monkees, Huddle Up.

I started this blog because I was desperate for a place where I could relax and tell the truth – a place where I could quit volleying for position and start listening and learning from other women instead. I started this blog to practice loving better. I wanted to get better at loving. Because loving is a skill – a skill that is completely counter-intuitive and needs to be practiced. I started this blog because like me, a lot of women struggle with life, and need shelter from the storm. And I started this blog because I was sad about all the yelling about God. Because I saw the women I knew as a big venn-diagram, each her own hot pink circle of opinions and positions and ideas about faith…. but I detected a sweet spot in the center where all of those individual circles overlapped. And that spot was love and fear and courage and kindness. And I thought, maybe if we made that sweet spot our daily meeting place, it would change things for us. Maybe we’d remember that people are doing the best they can. That we’re okay, each and every one of us. That the time it takes to take care of each other is time well spent.

And it’s happening. People are loving each other well here. And when extraordinary love is created, it can’t be contained. It explodes and pours out into the world.


After all this time,

The Sun never says to the Earth, “You owe me.”

Look what happens with a love like that.

It lights up the whole sky.

Hafiz


And so the love at Momastery seems to be shining and overflowing and causing some Monkees to feel inspired and empowered and ready to run out and change the world. And this is good, it’s gotta be. It’s why they say love is the most powerful force in the world. If you want to see a person explode into a million beams of light and warm up everything around her, remind her, as many times as it takes, of how beloved she is.


And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved. To feel myself

beloved on this Earth.

Raymond Carver


Some Monkees have recently identified a noble cause that we are interested in exploring. Helping orphans, Serving the poor. This is wonderful, and yet tricky. Because the primary point of The Revolution is slowing down, telling the truth, and loving each other without agenda. Service work, though noble, is still an agenda.

Have you ever known someone who had a very noble cause but talked to you about it in a way that made your skin crawl? I have. And I’ve thought a lot about why that is. I think it’s because the moment someone’s cause becomes more important than the person in front of her, her cause is lost.

There’s a story in the Bible in which Mary, a friend of Jesus’, pours an expensive bottle of perfume all over his hair and feet to show Jesus how much she loves him. This was shocking because, well, people didn’t just go around doing that. I mean, awkward. And also because this bottle of perfume was worth a whole lot of money.

Jesus’ disciples got fired up about the extravagance of the perfume pour and may have accidentally gotten a bit self-righteous. They said something like, “Hey Lady! Why did you do that? What a waste! You could have sold that perfume and given all the money to the poor!”

And Jesus said something weird. He said, “The poor will always be with you, but you will not always have me. This woman has done a wonderful thing.”

Now your guess is as good as mine on what he meant. But I have a hunch that one of the many things he was suggesting was this: stay in the moment. Love the one in front of you, because this moment, with this person, will never pass your way again. Don’t hold back. Spend it all. Don’t trip over the person in front of you to get to someone you’ve decided needs love more. We all need extraordinary love. Every last one of us. Because we are all poor, in one way or another. Mother Teresa said “the greatest poverty is loneliness.” So we fight poverty every time we see the person in front of us as a child of God, worthy of all we have, instead of a stumbling block to a different person, a more important moment. We don’t have to save up love because God fills us with more and more each time we empty ourselves. If we concentrate on loving the one in front of us, one person at a time, we can’t go wrong. And we avoid pride. So that’s our cause. The person in front of us, always.

So we try not to be jerks first, and save the world that way, one person at a time. I am starting to think that not being a jerk just means loving people the best we can, one at a time. Loving each moment the best we can, one at a time.

And so some of us will continue on with the project, keeping in mind that the people here are not means to that end.

Two more things.

1. There are a lot of Monkees who need a service project right now like they need a hole in their Caravan tire. They have come here to rest and they feel like they’re getting the old bait and switch. Like Tova did on Giveaway day, they want to say in response to the service project posts… “I ALREADY DID HARD THINGS, DAMNIT!” I get it. I really do. There are Monkees who are dying to jump and Monkees who are dying to lie down. Everyone should feel free to do what she is dying to do. We all know that saying No can be as revolutionary as saying Yes.

2. Also, the Great Shepard Fold in Uganda is as Christian as the day is long. I understand completely that this will be problematic for some Monkees. Please accept my sincere apologies about that. When I emailed the brilliant Ginger Fox, panicked about how some Monkees would feel about this, she said: “I don’t think it’ll be that big of a deal. Just tell the Monkees it might not be the best place to donate their kids’ old Black Sabbath onesies.”

So maybe we could take her lead and just keep our sense of humor.


Tomorrow Mike and Megan will be back. With so much exciting news. And with more ways to get activated immediately, if you’d like. Love the ones in front of you extraordinarily.

LOVE, G





May 232010
 

Thank you for giving us the time we needed to find our storyline again and pick it up where we left off.

During the excitement of telling our story and getting the response we did from you, we somehow forgot everything we had just learned. That doing hard things, things of consequence, is never done on our terms and schedule.

Instead we set off to make getting involved easy, to make it just one-click to making a difference. We wanted to make sure that you got to see the results quickly, received your tax deduction, weren’t offended by the core mission of the orphanage, weren’t distrustful of those collecting money, while at the same time helping GSF in a way that was actually helpful. We were exhausted before we even got started.

Because helping in a way that is actually helpful is often hard, uncomfortable, illogical, and never quick.

Please forgive us for getting caught up in the excitement and not thinking it through, for underestimating the effort and for forgetting that making hard things easy is a stinkin full time job, and we both have full time jobs and some kids that need us to cross the “T”s and dot the “I”s to get them home.

So we need to step out of the orchestration business and ask you to use the processes already put in place by GSF.www.goodshepherdsfold.org

Email us ([email protected]) to get our address if you have materials already collected and we’ll get it there. Thanks for those that have already done so.

We want to thank all of you for your understanding and grace as we’ve sorted this out behind the scenes. It has been an extremely hard and humbling decision to make but one we feel good about. If you’ll still have us, we’d love to introduce you to our kids when the time is right.

-Mike and Megan


***************************

Monkees, G here.

So. To be clear, there will be no official partnership between Momastery and GSF, but you are welcome to donate individually and send what you’ve already collected to M &M. And Mike and Megan, we will still have you, absolutely. Everything you wrote was true. We love you two. You’re right, this is hard stuff.

Monkees- I have spent much of the past month trying to prepare this service project for you. I have cried, lost sleep and prayed exasperated prayers. I have run into wall after wall, and like Ms. Pac Man, I’ve turned around and chomped full bore in a different direction. I’ve flailed about. That’s what I do, I flail about. I stress, I worry, I panic. Even though I encourage you all not to. Because I believe in service, and I believe in you. Because I cherish your enthusiasm and courage and generosity and confidence in me. Because I really, really don’t want to let any of my dancing partners down. And mostly because I always forget that I am Not In Charge.

I always expect that when I jump up and say HERE I AM, God will respond: Oh YAY! There you are! How wonderful of you! You look so CUTE! Come right on in and help!”

But He doesn’t. Ever. Instead He says in a million different ways: “Are you sure? Are you really sure?”

Ask anyone who’s tried to start a non-profit. Or tried to adopt. Or tried to teach. Or answered the call to serve others in any capacity. Ask Mary, who must’ve been thinking…A DONKEY, REALLY? NO ROOM AT THE INN? Are you KIDDING ME? I don’t know why it’s so hard to do what He asks us to do, it just is.

It seems especially hard when you’re trying to work with children. I think maybe He loves those little ones so much that He doesn’t let anyone near them until He’s positive that her heart is in the right place. Until she’s ready. Until she’s been tested. And I think He might be telling me that my heart has some more preparing to do.

Don’t get me wrong, Monkees. I’m not giving up. Quite the contrary. I am mind-numbingly stubborn. But this journey requires some serious humility. And it appears that right now I’ve got a hell of a lot more learning than teaching to do. I have been schooled this past few weeks. And I’ve got a hunch I’ve only just begun my education. I’m like in service preschool. I keep thinking of U2’s line….If you wanna kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel…..

The good news is, I know a few things I didn’t know a month ago.

I know that my heart is in Rwanda, with my Sister. Rwanda is where my service project is. That’s where my partner is. I’m not taking another step unless it leads there. So that’s good information.

But this time around I’m taking a much different approach.

I’m going to take my own advice and step back, slow down, and focus up. I’m going to stop worrying and planning. God willing, I am going to visit Rwanda, squeeze my Sister, and meet her new friends. I am going to slowly learn from Sister, who is there now and is a willing partner. And I am going to make you no promises and offer no time-line. I am going to be patient and listen for God and try to elongate my five minute Western attention span. I am going to relax and keep my heart open and get on with life and love the ones in front of me and see what happens.

And I am going to encourage you to do the same. If your heart is on fire to do some good, then do it. Find it. No need to wait for me. There are Calcuttas and Ugandas and Rwandas all around us. God has a place for each of us. Ask Him to clear a path for you and then follow the bread crumbs.

And if your heart is telling you to wait on Sister and Rwanda and me, well I think that’s wonderful too. I am confident that when the time is right, He’ll gather the people He wants working with us. Whether it’s a hundred Monkees or five, the right people will show up. When it’s Time. And When it’s Time, nothing will be done publicly.

And here’s what I really want to do now.

I just want to keep telling you my little stories. I want to keep introducing you to each other, making you laugh and sharing my thoughts about hope and love and faith and big old human hearts. Also, if it’s okay, I’d like to keep writing about my zits and bangs because they’re on my mind a lot, too. And they’ve gotten much, much worse. Just terrible.

I have so much news for you. Not big world changing news, just little family news. I’d like to get back to that for awhile. That’s about all I can do, that’s what I love to do.

I hope that works for you.


Love,

G

P.S. This is Monday’s post, it’s just up early. Catcha back here on Tuesday. With some funnies.



Sep 292011
 



Dear Anonymous,

Tish’s fish, Sadie, died last week. We’ve been through the passing of a fish before, but this time was special. My little man, Chase, experienced what I can only describe as an existential crisis. He cried and shook and begged me for answers . . . for two hours. He said things like, It’s not about Sadie, mom. It’s that everything we love is going die. How do we survive that? And – I know what you’re going to say about heaven, mom, but how do you know it’s real? You don’t. And I don’t know if I can believe it.

I didn’t offer many brilliant answers to my baby’s brilliant questions. But I was grateful to be able to tell him truthfully that Yes, I believe that there is some sort of heaven, though I doubt it’s like anything we’ve heard described. When he asked how I believed l told him that I believe because I have to – because if I didn’t believe, the terror that was gripping his heart, the terror of losing the people I love forever would overtake me and I’d have no joy or hope and I’d die inside. I told him that I believe because I have no other choice, because I was made to believe, because if I didn’t believe in life after death I wouldn’t be able to live life before death. I’d panic and then freeze.

When he asked me what I believed heaven was like, I told him that I believe heaven is a place where everyone loves each other perfectly.

When he asked me, Why, mom? Why does God send us here, where things hurt so much? Why does He make us love things that He knows we’re just going to lose? I told him that we don’t love people and animals because we will have them forever, we love them because loving them changes us, makes us better, healthier, kinder, real-er . . . stronger in the right ways and weaker in the right ways. Even if animals and people leave, even if they die- they leave us better. So we keep loving, even though we might lose, because loving teaches us, changes us. And that’s what we’re here to do. God sends us here to learn how to be better lovers, and to learn how to be loved, so we’ll be prepared for heaven.

When I finished this part, Chase looked right into my eyes and his tears cleared for a moment and he said, “Yes. I can believe that part. That sounds right. I believe that.”

And I agreed. I thought – Wow. Yes, that’s actually what I believe. I can buy all of that stuff I just said. That sounds True to me, thank God.

Anonymous, I am trying to become more loving down here. I am trying to learn. And you, willing or not, have been a teacher for me. I want to apologize for my response to you. It was a great essay. It really was. But this place has never been about great essays. This place is about Love. And I have learned that sometimes I have to leave a great essay unwritten in order to love better. Because it is better to be kind than to be “right.”


If I speak with the tongues of men and angels but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.


As I read and re-read my response to your comment, Anonymous, I realized that I must have sounded pretty clangy to you. Because what I did was announce that I was going to turn the other cheek, and then didn’t. At all. What I did, actually, was defend myself and then sweetly judge and attack you. My least favorite part was when I wrote “people like you.” I don’t even believe in people like you and people like me. I just believe in people. I’m sorry for using those divisive and unfair words.


To be clear, I don’t regret writing that essay, just like I wouldn’t change what you said. I don’t spend a lot of time beating myself up and I hope you haven’t either. I’m grateful for this whole process. We needed to go through all of it to get to here.

But now I know I didn’t really listen for the love in what you said. I listened for the judgment, so that’s what I found. Seems to be how it works…seek and you shall find.

If I’d really turned the other cheek, I would have simply tried to explain to you why I want to adopt, which is so hard for me to put into words, but would have made for an even better, kinder, truer essay. Less sassy, but better.


Anonymous, I am so in love with this brutiful world that I feel torn up a lot of the time. I find people to be so beautiful, so strong and this world to be such a painful mess for the brave people who live here. I tend to take on the pain of others as my own pain, because I believe it IS my own pain. Because I really, truly believe that we all belong to each other. I believe that heaven, at first, will be a revealing, a lifting of the fog when we will look back down on Earth and see that we were in fact, one big family. And that hell will be seeing that and knowing that while living our lives, we let our brothers and sisters and mothers and father suffer and starve and die, while we had more than we needed. That will be hell, I think, for awhile. Knowing the truth. Knowing we let our own family members die. But then God will wipe our tears, and forgive us, and make everything new, and redeem us all. And we’ll heal, and become whole and enter our eternal family with forgiveness and understanding and love for all.

That is my interpretation of Matthew 25:33.

And so I just want to be part of my eternal family now. I love being a mama, and I love other mothers. I am awed by our strength and sacrifices and bottomless love and passion and courage. And I don’t understand why I get to raise my babies and some mamas don’t. Why I have every resource I need and more, more, more and some mamas, dying of AIDS, have to travel miles in bare feet to beg for medicine for their starving babies. Babies whom they love and cherish every bit as much as I love and cherish mine.

Thinking about this disparity drives me close to what I would consider the edge of insanity. I hate it. I don’t understand. And I feel compelled to do something, to show my love for and solidarity with these women, these mamas who are just like me. And so I think, I can’t do what I want to do, which is to fix things, to make things fair so that these mamas can raise their own damn babies. But I can give one of their babies a home. I can offer one of these mama’s babies every good thing I have- which is my husband and my children and my home and my faith and my friends and my joy and my hope. I can do that part, I can beg God to use me to answer another mama’s prayers. I can care for her baby since she can’t. I can be part of the second best thing. And I can love that baby and raise him to know how much his first mama loved him too, and when I get to heaven I can put that baby into her waiting arms, because I’ll know her, and she’ll know me, and we will finally be a whole family.


And all of this- it still doesn’t describe completely or precisely why I want to adopt.


There is a book I love, called Pillars of the Earth. In it there is a man named Tom, whose dream it is to build a cathedral. He sacrifices everything -his family’s money, future, security, even health to realize his dream. Some people, even in his own family, decide that he’s a foolish, selfish, crazy man.

When he finally gets his big break and the man who holds the power to make Tom’s dream come true asks him: Why? Why do you want this so badly? Why have you sacrificed everything to build this cathedral?

Tom replies:


Because it will be beautiful.


That’s my real reason, Anonymous. I want to adopt because it will be beautiful, to me.


That’s why I’ll never be an adoption advocate, which has been requested of me several times. Because I don’t believe that everyone should adopt. I believe that everyone should discover what she finds to be most beautiful and then create it.


So anyway, that’s what I should have said, Anonymous. I should have tried to bridge the gap of understanding between us instead of building a bigger wall. I should have explained instead of defended.


Also, Anonymous.

I may have been extra sensitive for this reason:


Craig and I had to make the horrible decision of letting our adoption go last week. We were as close as a family can possibly get to bringing our baby boy home, but we had to say no, we’re sorry- we can’t. Please give our baby to another family.


My health, it’s getting worse instead of better- and there was a bit of an intervention from some people I love.

Glennon- you’re sick. You’re barely making it through the day. You can’t do this. You must take care of yourself and the family you already have. You must heal.

It was quite familiar to me, actually. I’ve been through a similar intervention before. That one was tough to hear too, but necessary. Good things came of it.


But you can imagine, Anonymous. It’s been hard. After all these years.

It’s been hard, but not impossible. I have a friend who’s doing impossible, and I know the difference.

We have some emptiness now, Anonymous. Empty space in our hearts where we thought that baby would be, an empty nursery, empty time, empty plans where shopping and decorating and nesting used to be.

But if there is one thing I’ve learned about empty, it’s that empty can be more exciting and ripe with promise than full. There is space, now.

What will come fill it? What will enter our lives? What’s next?


I hope that healing comes next. From this loss and from my disease. I hope that I will learn what healing is, what it means, what it looks like, and that I will be able to share the whole healing process with you. Because we are all healing, right? So we might as well do it together.

Love You, Anonymous sister.

G