Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Rain, rain go away
come again some other day
if you don't, i don't care,
i'll pull down your...

i've been humming this little ditty from my childhood in my head today - as we have had day after day after day of rain here in the soggy mid-west. and it just dawned on me that the words as i remember them make no sense at all. please, someone, how does this little rainy-day chant actually go?

Friday, April 24, 2009

remember when life was so carefree?
pounding away at a good song and chomping on bubble gum could cure any anxiety.
remember when life was so carefree?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

buying responsibly

my last trip to the grocery store, i started to reevaluate our ethics about where we get our food - after i saw my grocery bill. $6 for a gallon of milk? but we only buy organic milk from local farms - that comes at a price (which i don't really get - the stuff transported over thousands of miles should cost more, in my mind, but oh well). i try to buy vegetables that are in season, if i can help it, thinking that they may be from local illinois/wisconsin farms. we drive up to wisconsin to buy our free-range (happily raised)meats. if we do eat out, we try to eat at panera or chipotle - they only use free-range meats and they are also very environmentally responsible when it comes to their business practices. but they are more expensive that other fast-food.

yes, this economy has me re-evaluating. i thought of just buying the regular cheaper stuff that everyone else buys, full of bad hormones, bad memories, and a large carbon footprint. but then i remember the commitment that landon and i had made a few years ago when we committed to buy and eat "ethically": we'd rather eat beans.

i'm thinking we may need to consult dave remsey when it comes to keeping this discipline in our budget.

though, we've been trying to eat more vegetarian (for budget's sake) and i've made some terribly awful meals. eggplant chickpea curry wasn't too bad, but not great. eggplant roasted red pepper frittata was so awful we tossed the entire thing in the trash - non-edible. tofu coconut curry was yummy, but even that was a bit expensive. chickpea patties was yummy but not really fulfilling. eggplant parmesan seems to be the only winner so far. i'd like to incorportate more beans and vegetables into our dishes in place of meats, any suggestions on yummy vegetarian dishes?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


thank you all for your prayers and sweet comments, and even more for your support throughout my life. love is all i got for ya!

i'm afraid i forgot something really important in my post yesterday. the aftermath of the aftermath: healing.

well... how did i miss this? healing takes time. wholeness is possible - it is what was always intended from the start. i had to learn not to expect anything less than these. and joy... joy has nothing to do with pain and circumstance. Joy is knowing God. And that's that.

So though i struggled through pain for years regarding what i had suffered through the shooting that day, it was not all consuming.

This is when everything changed: A few weeks after the end of my Junior year, my boyfriend who muttered those words i will never forget, dumped me at my parent's house one evening. A few weeks after that, i found myself feeling quite lost. Mom and Dad took Janelle and I up into the mountains - to Estes Park - for a week of relaxation and family time.

I was questioning a lot. I analyzed that last year - the year after the shooting. I had withdrawln myself from classes my second semester at Columbine (except for choir, of course) because i was having too many flash backs and the pos-traumatic stress was unbearable and driving me to be a crazy person. I was seeking psychiatric counseling and was perscribed medication that i refused to take. I still was sleeping each night with the light on. There were things that I had leaned on - places i went to for sanctuary and for healing: singing, sports, church, self destruction, and the boy. And without him, with school out (no sports, no choir...) i was finding myself quite lost and confused and pretty much nowhere nearer healing or restoration than i was immediately following the shooting over a year earlier. And i felt helpless. I felt hopeless.

We spent those days in Estes Park enjoying the beautiful Rocky Mountains and each other. One afternoon, i was walking through a cold rushing river alone. I was thinking about my life and wondering if i would ever be able to move beyond the hurting. I was all alone with freezing, wet feet, listening to the birds, feeling the sun on my face, and i decided to sit on a rock that divided the roaring stream. I let the cool water run over my toes, i dipped my fingers in the river and felt like some pain in my heart was being taken from me, into the river, and i was invigorated. And as i sat there in still silence God spoke to me. As he had only a few times before, but never so clear: "Let me heal you" he beckoned to me. And i realized that i had been looking to everything else for comfort and i was nowhere better, if not much deeper in the suffering than i had ever been.

And he did. Not immediately. I'm not sure how to explain it to you. To me it was a miracle, though i don't want it to sound so foolish or extraordinary to you. As i decided to let God be the one to comfort me (it had to be my choice), and not look for the reassurance and shelter elsewhere, he gave me clear opportunities and direction to let him do that work in my heart and in my life. He was very intentional as he led me through a healing journey the next several years. When i learned to live in the joy of his love and to look to him instead of to fear and self pity and boys and busyness and sports and whatever else....he did an amazing work of healing and restoration in my life.

Did i mention that yesterday? There has been victory in my life - God is the victor. He has so easily won over all else that had somehow once consumed me and dragged me down. He has healed me to wholeness. And it has been none but him - only i can know this - don't disbelieve me. God is active in this world and if you have not heard him, he is beckoning from the side of the stream that you are wading through - "let me heal you".

Monday, April 20, 2009

Remembering Columbine

I’ve been thinking about the gravity of this for days. And I’m not sure why a 10 year anniversary just feels heavier than the others. Everyone is getting back together – there is a breakfast today for the “survivors” and memorial services held last night. This anniversary obviously bears weight for more than just me.

Each anniversary each year brings different things to mind, brings me to different emotions. Last year I was so busy working, I hardly thought of it. Some years I am so overwhelmed by God’s great healing and love in my life that I’m just compelled to worship as I remember the wound afflicted and see that here I am again, whole and free because of his great work in my life. And some years I am so sad, remembering the pain, and remembering others who could not cope as well as I, who later took their own lives. And this year is harder than most.

I’ve been thinking awhile about these last 10 years and about how that one day has affected each day following. I think if I would have known how difficult it would be - if I would have known the pains and struggles that I would endure for years after that one day - I wouldn’t have been so full of hope and strength after the shooting. In this case, I’m glad that I could move forward without knowing what I know now.

There were many struggles that I suffered through after that day. Running through dead bodies and thinking that you, yourself would die while we were hiding there for hours, and the amazing panic and peace that come from an experience like that… it is something that no one should ever have to realize in a day, but especially someone so young as we were then. It truly was a day of lost innocence, as many of the adults had said, which I never understood until I could later see what they had probably anticipated: the ramifications of something so terrible to suffer in for years.

And I truly look back and praise God. God is the victor in this world each day despite the evils that sometimes seem to overwhelm us. God has been a healer in my life and in the lives of many others that were with me in the suffering. But he let me work through the pain, he let me suffer through evils, and I’m glad – it has brought me understanding, strength, and it has brought me closer to him.

I think the worst wound was realized when the first man I loved broke my heart, “I’m sorry. It’s just too hard to love a ‘Columbine girl’”, he said with dry eyes . And for years after that break-up I knew I was masked. Wherever I was where people knew me at all, that’s all I believed I was to them. And I doubted that I would ever be loved for ME ever again – no one would ever love me without pity or curiosity as their motive (whether they knew it or not). And it terrified me. I guess it caused me to hold my heart further into my chest, and trust became difficult. I remember when one of my friends came to me one day at APU and said to me, “everyone is asking me about you – about Columbine – and I’m not sure what to say. They keep telling me that they heard you went crazy, that you have issues.” Was that their perception of me? I remember girls sweetly asking me to join them for a shopping trip or to the beach and when we finally were alone in the car, they all wanted to know, “what was it like?

I’m having nightmares again this last week. Three, actually. But I used to have them 3 or 4 times a week for about 7 years. And in all of them I am hiding or running from gunmen. But I am always a protector of someone, trying to save others. I wonder if this is my mind’s way of healing my wounds of surviving 10 years ago. Well, if I had more courage that day, what good would it have done to have left the shelter of my desk and walk out into the open to confront them? I would have been among the dead and nothing else. But it’s an amazing thing to live through – surviving something that others did not. It’s an awful torture. I’m not saying I wish I had died – I do not wish that at all, not for one minute. I am grateful for my life. But of course, when you are living through the guilt of surviving, you look back and wonder if you were more courageous, if something would have been different. And why me? Why did they die when I survived? And so I reconcile this in my nightmares, though I haven’t suffered them for years until just recently again.

It’s amazing how a few hours in one day can change thousands of lives for years.

How I wish I could be reunited with the others today. I wish I could sit with them in the Columbine High School commons and feel that triumph – here we are again– we are still here – we have overcome. But just knowing you are all there together gives me a strength knowing that I could have been among you.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Anna, my dear sister-in-law has introduced me to an incredible poet that both she and i (and probably some of you) will relate to. This one stirred me deeply:

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives -
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning, feel like?

Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over
the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left -
fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

To put one's foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!

To set one's foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the present hour,
to the song falling out of the mockingbird's pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened in the night

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what's coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn't ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean's edge.

I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.
by Mary Oliver

Friday, April 17, 2009

Beautiful day

Today has been a day for short sleeve shirts and skirts and sandals. wow, it has been too long...
The weather has been in the upper 60's, without much wind, and utter blue skies! it has been the best weather of 2009, and i even had the morning off at Starbucks today! woohoo!
Though landon has been studying like crazy to perpare his thesis defense for tomorrow (a BIG deal), he fit duvi and i into a few hours of his afternoon outside.
And the best thing about living here is that beautiful river and the trail beside it, so we spent our afternoon in the SUNSHINE (yay!) walking on the trail with our sweet puppy. we eventually tarried off the trail to the river and watched duvick swim for awhile. what a beautiful day!
****note: would have actually POSTED this on Friday (now Sunday morning) but cound't get the picture to upload - what the heck!

p.s. Landon passed his thesis! yay! he is amazing and i am so proud of him - what an accomplishment.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

every body needs a...

Every morning when i get on my computer before i start working with ACSI i "connect" with you. And i've noticed how i check my favorite sites in the same order every single time: check email, then read your blogs, then see what's new on facebook. this takes me between 5 minutes to an hour depending on how exciting your lives are.

Landon thinks that my time sitting here alone feeling like i'm connecting to friends when really i haven't seen many of you for years or at least since Christmas is silly. but i've been thinking about it, and talking about with anna and others and realize that men and women (or at least landon and i) are just different in our social needs.

i thought that when we moved out here Landon would find our friends for us - since i was working mostly from home and he was the one interacting with people our age in our season of life with similar beliefs and values (Christ, education, etc...). i'm not sure why i expected him to just bring home amazing and interesting men WITH their wives so that my social needs would be fulfilled. beyond this probably not being realistic in general, this is just NOT Landon. it took me awhile to figure out that he actually wasn't going to bring an amazing couple through our front door.

and we've talked about this recently - we were talking about how i really have no friends. "you have no friends here either," i said. but for Landon that is not really a desire or a need. He is in touch with old friends via email and phone and a mutual love in their hearts, i guess. i'm much more high maintenance. the need for a friend to be PRESENT in my life is overwhelming. though i don't really have DEEP friendships here in illinois, God has really blessed me with some women that i have grown to love, even if we don't have much in common or really understand each other on a deep level. it's enough to have their love and to have them present.

but most of you, the commonalities go deeper, and further back. we have history. we have future (i'm HOPING!) but we don't really have PRESENT. and that's okay. really, beyond loving you and treasuring you, i NEED you. even now. this is okay, for now. reading your blogs, giving you a thumbs up on your facebook status (ha!) and calling you rarely and seeing you even less... as long as we know that there are thougths and love between us. i can handle seeing you at Christmas or more or less. and it wasn't always like this, was it? we used to be together almost every day. though, as i think of this, there are a few of you whom i realize i actually have never met (and that realization is crazy to me - i feel like i know you!). but i'll be in colorado soon and we'll have to hook up. but you are my best friends' friend and now mine through blogs and whatever else and because of who you are to her and who you have become to me, you are dear also.

i'm not sure where this is going. i just realize that right now in this season of my life when i feel so alone and isolated the communication between us via this Internet is so precious and so necessary in my life. it seems pathetic from the outside, but to me, it is just essential.

on another note, to bring us closer together via the internet but with actual verbal and visual interaction, i want to share our skype address: lhmcbrayer. give us a call!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

the wild fire life

now that the weather has been a little warmer (right now it is 39 degrees - but this weekend it got to 51, so we're getting there!) Landon and i are enjoying the fire more. It's one of my favorite times - between dinner and bed time - sitting next to a blazing fire with my boys in our back yard. Now that it's getting lighter later, and because i go to bed pretty early, we've been having our fire while it's still a bit light outside, but who cares - no need for fires to only be in the dark!

And it's the wildest i ever feel out here. ha! pretty pitiful, that. sitting beneath the bare branches of our silver maples, amidst duvi's land-mines, between the fences of our neighbors houses, just yards from our home - is our world of wild! i love how refreshingly delicious s'mores are every time, and how my hair smells like smoke and my feet are cold and my hands are warmed by the flames. and it just feels a bit primitive, but mostly just a bit wild.
i LOVE it!

Monday, April 13, 2009

mr. hairy

The other night, i'm sitting here minding my own business and Landon comes out of a 15 minute trip to the bathroom and plops down on the couch across from me. Then he lookes over at me and i notice that something's just a bit different.... ha!

What the...!?

Here, let me fix it...
...not so much...

Welp. Those of you who have known Landon for at least 3 years have seen the cycles of his hair. He is always inspired to grow it long, yet he has a hard time sustaining it. Then he'll shave it and begin the growing out process until he decides it's too unruley again... and it repeats. (and he may totally disagree with my interpretation of his hairy cycles)

Last year's rebellion against long hair:

And the year before:

Landon's attempts at styling it when it's developed some length:
the most popular ponytail. He still resorts to this often

The most recent 'do: a tiny braid just to keep the hair out of his face. I've been braiding his hair in the mornings before work and church.

(on a side note, look at how different we look compared to (almost exactly) 5 years ago - the picture below)

When we were first dating he swept it behind his ears or put it in a hat or bobbypin

HELLO!!! i like this look! a lot! but he actually has to PAY to get his hair cut like this: longer on top and short on the sides and back. He calls it a "penis cut" for some reason, but i don't get it. i think it's hot.
And then, when it gets too long, he just bends his head over the sink and shaves it with his beard-trimmer. This is what it looks like right now. Pretty much every summer he shaves it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hard Times

photo by rrogers_vfx

Maybe it's because I work in Waukegan - where the demographics are such that many people are very poor, many unemployed, many living on welfare, food stamps, etc. Or maybe you live in a neighborhood like this too - maybe this is just the way things are these days. Makes me feel like we are characters in a Steinbeck novel only present day. It scares me a bit, to tell you the truth.

Today is the nicest day we've had this year, i think. Sun shining upon us through pure blue skies without fierce winds. Everyone is out.

Today at 9am as i drove the mile stretch between Starbucks and the bank, i saw what this last winter and this unforgiving economy has done to my neighbors. The bus stops were packed and people were walking up and down the edges of the street (we don't really have good public transportation outside of Chicago, but you gotta get somewhere somehow). I saw people leaning over the edges of the dumpsters outside of the local businesses. I saw a poor man with one leg on crutches making his way up the street. I saw a group of 5 men standing in a circle tossing their hands in the air, making gestures and screaming at each other. Every other store is vacant with "For Rent" signs in the windows. I have many customers who have lost their jobs - they tell me, which is why they only come once in awhile instead of every day. A woman today, a dental hygienist told me that she's pretty sure her office will go under, "people just don't have insurance any more," she says.

We receive applications every day for our beginning barista jobs. $7.80/hour or something like that. These applications are from people with masters degrees and families. This is no longer a job for "kids" these days.

Is this what is happening in your community also? Are your neighbors desperate and hungry?

I am so grateful that Landon and I have the opportunity to pay our bills. To buy groceries, to live in a warm home. I am grateful for my 2 jobs - and i feel glutenous being employed by 2 companies while those surrounding me can't seem to find a job anywhere. I am grateful that Landon has the opportunity to go to school and that we have the option of pursuing our dreams. I am just so grateful.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

where are you taking us?

so..... one of those contingencies i referred to a few weeks ago that would surely secure that we are positively going to Utah next year was not met.

and so....

we're thinking of other options. and we are thinking of going anyway - without funding. and we know that many people are in debt and we can jump on the band wagon for the sake of higher education and really, the pursuit of our dreams.

please just be praying for us, that God would lead us. There are some things to seriously consider that have been hard to seriously consider: no funding = no money/insurance = i need 2 jobs = renting/no kids still/crabby wife/stress. BUT I think i've learned from these past 2 years enough to enter into the next 2 (or 4 or 5) years with more reasonable expectations and a better way to approach life like it is now, but in a new place with new opportunities. AND, i will be nearer those i love and finally and once again beneath the mountains. oh, i could live a little freer there. a little more wild. a little more like myself. even if it be the same life.

so...that's the update. that's what is consuming much of our thoughts and prayers right now. i hope you will see us in utah in the future. we're still hammering this out.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Our Table

Time at the dinner table is treasured. It is the only time of the waking day when cell phones are not answered and minds are not racing with the burderns and bustle of the day. It is sacred. It begins in prayer, and ends in happy tummies. It is usually the only time i get alone with my husband each day where we concentrate on each other and not on things needing done and whatever else married people talk about that has to do with living together more than growing together. It is sacred.

Our table.

Landon lived with a house full of fantastic guys while he was at UCCS. The year after he graduated he moved into a house with his best friends and then proposed to me soon after. Four months later we were married, and during those 4 months he slept on the floor/futon or something awful each night while he lived out the remaining months of his bachelorhood. In the kitchen of their house was what would soon be our table. I love thinking of those men that we so dearly love sitting together at that table eating the nasty stuff they invented in that kitchen (mostly thinking of aaron and philip here- ha! brandon somehow knew how to cook better than the rest). Soon all of the guys were out of the house and no one was to claim the table. So we did, even though landon hardely really lived there.

Before our table lived with "the guys", it was a family dinner table of the Campus Crusade for Christ director in Colorado Springs. He has a lovely wife who remains my greatest inspiration of a praying woman. While they lived with this table, they had 2 little children. Their first, a girl, their second, a little boy adopted from Russia. And the love and life of that family is still smothered all over this table in not so appetizing, but still precious reminants.

Our table, supposedly, is the EXACT same set that my parents had when they were first married in December of 82. The table that was mine when i was born.

Our table sure has a lot of character to show of its last 25ish years: legs chewed by some dog i never knew, missing rungs on the chair backs, glitter, paint, and crud stuck in all the cracks and ridges. there is this sticky residue on the chairs that is activated during our sticky humid summers here and every time i rise from the seat, i find am literally peeling myself (whether skin or denim or fleece, etc..) off of it. ouch!

Yet, i love to think of the history of the table. Especially the prayers prayed, tears cried, moments shared, families built, and lives experienced around this focal point in a family - the dinner table. I am so grateful that this table can be OUR table. And i hope that i can continue to share beautiful meals with my talented chef husband here, and I trust that even i will some day build my own family within its missing rungs and chewed up legs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Those who know your name
will trust in you,
for you, Lord,
have never forsaken those who seek you.
Psalm 9:10