Waiting Tables: Lenten Baptism Post for Megan Tietz at SortaCrunchy

Today I’m honored to be writing about my family and the promises of Baptism for my dear friend Megan Tietz of Sorta Crunchy. I’ll start you off here, then you can head over to her place to finish on up. And while you’re there, do dig into what she’s doing to observe Lent this year through her Waiting Tables series. It’s been profoundly helpful and encouraging for me in this season.

flickr.com user antique nature

flickr.com user antique nature

I was baptized as an infant in February of 1982, with my family gathered in the pews of the stained glass church on Baldwin Street. The same church where my parents were married and my grandparents were founding members.

I was baptized as an adult in late August, 2003 in the center of a large church, surrounded by plastic grey chairs with a few friends and family members scattered in the midst of thousands of others.

It was a profound day, full of awkwardness and freedom. There is nothing comfortable about standing in front of a crowd in cotton baptismal shorts, being submerged in a hot tub by someone you only know a little. There is nothing commonplace about leaving soggy footprints on church carpet as you tearfully make your way through the aisles. But for me this mess a thing of wonder, a miracle. After all, faith is not comfortable and baptism is such a profound gift that the dripping mess fits the radical newness it represents.

Dead with Christ and Alive in his resurrection, leaving the old behind in the water, grabbing breath as a new creation.

Imagine how much baggage has been left at the bottom of baptismal hot tubs.

As I mentioned above, I’ve technically been baptized twice which is a real church taboo. So, while my adult baptism was freeing and beautiful, it somehow felt a bit subversive. My entire family is Reformed and believes in infant baptism, so when it came to this evening I worried they would think I was invalidating the beautiful gift they’d given me as an infant.

It was out of this concern that I decided not to invite any family beyond my parents to the baptism, I worried it would cause an issue and I didn’t want them to fuss over it in the first place. So that evening, while spirit-led and memorable to me, went unobserved by most people in my life.

Please head over to Megan’s place to finish the story. 

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How to Meet and Marry an Okie on the Internet (Part 4)

I’m telling the internet our story, the story of meeting a boy I met online and how over time we fell for each other and made it work across the miles. For part 3 click here.  To start at the beginning click here)

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I woke up the next morning unsure of just exactly how to feel, I was dating Kel… officially. What did that even mean? It meant no more flirting or dating guys from Youth Group… and telling people as much I assumed.

But really… now what? 

It’s not like we could hang out…  I couldn’t even friggin call the boy before 9 pm CST for risk of using up too many of his family plan day time minutes.

I’m pretty sure I called some friends and told a coworker but other than than I think I just sat in excited shock mulling over what this step really meant for us.

I always knew in my heart that if we dated, it would immediately turn serious. The reality was that we wouldn’t be able to fully get to know each other unless one of us made the leap to live in the same area code and that was a scary, risky step…

I was about to restart full time college and he was set to graduate from OU the following spring so the logical mover in this scenario would be him, but could I ask him to do that?

We settled for having him visit at Christmas and he found an airline ticket that arrived on Christmas Day. I nervously / excitedly counted down the days and started prepping him with all the info he’d need for the whirlwind tour of meeting all my friends and family.

Part of his visit would be spent at the Lodge with my extended family, which meant my parents, grandparents my 8 Aunts and Uncles, my 13 cousins and a few of their wives and maybe significant others as well…. for two nights and two days… no big deal right? 

And he’d need to get to know a few of my friends, meet my siblings, get to know my parents a little better.

Oh gosh what was he going to wear? Was he prepared for a Michigan winter?

When I went to ask him these question he told me that he had a really nice trench coat and fedora that generally kept him pretty warm. This freaked me out appropriately and I immediately hit the mall and bought him a new coat, hat and gloves for his trip.

I wasn’t trying to change him per say… but he was already the weird new internet boyfriend, we didn’t need a Fedora in the mix.

In hindsight maybe I should have run with it but I like to think he was much warmer for my efforts.

Then all the sudden there I was, at the airport anxiously waiting for him to walk down the ramp from the terminal on Christmas Day.

People made their way down. Nope… not him. Not him. Not him.

Geez, I was nervous, I was still so unsure about this relationship myself but it was time to take all this huge and completely delayed step of seeing how he assimilated into my real life, all at once… during the holidays. Oiy what were we thinking? 

And then there he was walking down the ramp and grinning at me, we hugged and kissed before waiting at the magical luggage ride to gather his bag. After we drove home, I got him settled down into a basement bedroom at my parent’s house but not before he gave me my Christmas presents:

A memory foam mattress pad, (yes he’d crammed it in his bag  and because my back had been bothering me)
And a replica Lord of the Rings Evenstar necklace (Because we were nerdy like that)

The next day was Christmas with my family and I remember this part over all else: My Dad gave Kel had tracked down two out of print copies of two of his favorite books on faith (Real Christians Don’t Dance” and “Real Christians Don’t Ask Why”) because he felt like a pastor-to-be should read them.

I got mostly small appliances that year because I was preparing to move into my first apartment on my own.

He survived all the family parties as the internet boyfriend oddity and my family was warm and welcoming, albeit a bit skeptical. 

While he was there he walked through my new apartment and was still in town for my first day at my new College (Kuyper College, which would become my alma mater)

The only bad part of his trip was knowing that he wouldn’t be able to be there for the day to day once he went home. He wouldn’t be there to help me move int or flop on the futon for an episode of Simpsons or Scrubs, no random late night pizzas or move dates.

We’d be back to the phone calls. We couldn’t even text because well… there really wasn’t texting yet. 

Before he left he made me a commitment that he was “all in” and that after he graduated that May he would move to Michigan, get a place to live, put seminary on pause for a bit and find a job up in Michigan.

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I promised to spend spring break in Oklahoma and we both promised that we would do what it took to make it work, his deep brown eyes were quickly becoming my favorite sight in the world and putting him on a plane was dreadful… but we had a plan, we had hope.

Stay tuned for part 5 which won’t take too long, I promise. 

Love Showed Up: When Love Drives You Home

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I found myself, maybe not so unexpectedly, stretched out on a hospital bed in the emergency room of the local hospital. The night before was left littered with despair and confusion. As I looked up at the ceiling and felt the paper gown that wrapped my tired body, I wondered how I fell into this hole and how the hell I was going to get out.

There was a babysitter sitting in the corner. He was reading his book. I knew his sole purpose in this room was to watch my every move. The nurses and hospital staff had already taken everything I owned and tucked it safely away so that I would not be able to harm myself.

“Do you know why I am here?” he asked quietly.

In my defiance and anger I told him that I knew he was there because it was his job to babysit me. “I choose to be here, honey. You deserve to be safe. And so I am here. I am with you.” These words, words of love, were the beginning of hope peeking through.

~ ~ ~

Depression threatened to overrun me that night.

My faith was crumbling, my hope fading, and Love seemed to be sitting on his hands.

About three months before, I started questioning everything. I didn’t know why I believed what I said I believed or if it even mattered. Is Jesus who he says that he is? Did he really do what he said he did? And if he is and if he did, what does that mean for me, right now, in this moment?

And to add insult to injury my own body was betraying me. I was depressed. Depression seems to be the demon that continuously haunts me. For the three months leading up to this night I wanted out. It wasn’t necessarily that I wanted to die, I was just so tired of living. It was like I was standing on the top of a skyscraper, on the very edge, and I couldn’t step backwards off the ledge. I either had to stand there or jump. It’s not that I wanted to jump. I just was so tired of standing on that ledge.

~ ~ ~

The night before, the police showed up and I was put under close watch. Sleep was impossible. The dark hours seemed unending and the morning came reluctantly. With the arrival of dawn, I received an ultimatum: the back of a police car or the nearest emergency room. Seeing no other option, I chose the latter.

With heavy eyes and weary bones I asked the nurse to turn off the light. The curtain was pulled to shield my face from the sterile fluorescent lights in the hallway. The babysitter even decided to give me a few minutes to myself and settled in his chair right outside the doorway. After a few minutes I woke up to voices, a familiar voice, outside the door. A shadow appeared on the curtain and a hand pulled it gently back. The face I saw immediately shattered my defenses and the room, once drained of breath, was pumped full of oxygen.

On my way to the hospital I shot a text to the couple from my church that I live with. I didn’t know which hospital I was headed to but said I would contact them as soon as I was able. I told them not to worry. Lindsay was out of town but that did not stop Scott from searching me out. He searched until he was able to find me, tucked behind a babysitter and crisp hospital curtains.

“Hey, Ali. I am really glad you are safe.”

In that moment, I felt both immense shame and immense relief. It’s almost as if, because he could sense the shame, he spoke out against it. “You have done nothing wrong. You are not in trouble. You have nothing to be ashamed of.”

Warm blankets were brought in and Scott sat down. He didn’t pry. He didn’t push. He didn’t ask me open-ended questions. He knew I would never be able to answer them anyway. He assured me that Lindsay was thinking about me and praying for me. He assured me that I was not in trouble and there was no need for shame. When he did ask questions, he gave me options and I just had to pick. Picking was easy compared to conjuring up an answer on my own. “I am going to get you something to drink. Do you want coffee, tea, or water? When we leave, I am going to make you some lunch. Do you want this type of sandwich or that type of sandwich?” I didn’t have to come up with any answers. I simply had to choose.

After nine hours and a psychiatric evaluation that seemed to last forever, it was decided that I would be allowed to go home. Because the hospital had to release me into someone’s care, Scott talked with the nurses and made plans for my discharge. Clothes changed, belongings gathered, I began to prepare myself for the “walk of shame” out of the hospital. The shame I imagined was quickly extinguished after I realized I wasn’t walking alone.

~ ~ ~

Sometimes love searches you out.

Sometimes love shows up in your hospital room.

Sometimes love shows up with warm blankets.

Sometimes love shows up to remind you that you are loved,

that you are safe,

that you are wanted.

Sometimes love shows up and sometimes love drives you home.

934148_564066710800_1490501974_n copyAlison Luna, born and raised deep in the heart of Texas, is learning what it means to press in to the places that hurt in order to fight for joy. She loves her last name and finds promises written in the stars. You can find Alison wrestling with the idea of hope here and tweeting it out in real time at @luna1387.

Soup and Pie (On Observing The Anniversary of a Loss)

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Today marks the 9th anniversary of the day we lost my Dad (for more on this click here). I can’t wrap my head around this number, some days it feels like I’ve spent my entire life without him and then other days I still go to call him.

Thoughts of the March we buried him still haunt me, many of my memories are of staring down at my black ballet flats, on the funeral home carpet, on the painted concrete of the church, on the freezing grass at the cemetery.

Head bowed, soul overcome

In the end it all happened, it’s not a phantom or a figment of my imagination. He is gone and I am here, with a family and a life he isn’t a part of and cannot touch or enter into except in memory and remembered wisdom.

Softly in spirit sometimes, although usually painfully absent

The first anniversary of his death was hard, we all gathered at the cemetery as a family and words were spoken over the shiny, black marble headstone. We shivered and felt lost, still unable to believe that he was gone and not quite sure what to do about it. A year, a year without David, without Dad.

Gathering those who remember, this is one thing to do about an anniversary of loss.

The second anniversary of his death was possibly harder, we were newly married and I was in my last year of college. I called a few friends and asked them if they would join me in my grief, if we could eat my two favorite comfort foods together (soup and pie) and laugh or cry as needed, as the evening led.

They came into our apartment slowly and I tried to smile and reassure them that this wasn’t going to be weird. But was it? Would it be weird?

Some brought cards and flowers. There were 8 of us all together, or so, my memory is hazy on certain details. We shared soup from the restaurant down the street and store-bought pie.

We sat on couches, plaid hidden under slipcovers, and in a semi circle on the floor. With our warm bowls gathered in front of us I looked into the eyes of each face and thanked them from the depths of me for their willingness to come, to remember and to weather whatever this was.

I think I mentioned my Dad a few times but it was no formal service of prompts or intentional remembering. It was simply a gathering of friends who loved so well that they were willing to enter into the awkward unknown of my grief.

Willing to say “On this Day where darkness feels eminent, I will bring light into your apartment. I will share a bowl of soup over something hard.”

When it comes to remembering a grief, marking a day that has permanently marked your life all I can tell you is this: Remember and Invite.

Don’t pretend it’s not the day that it is, be open with your friends and coworkers that this date on the calendar (which may seem ordinary to many) is a dark square on yours. A day marked with loss.

If they know you, they’ll know the weight that the day carries but in the telling you will create an openness, a vulnerability, an invitation that gives others the knowledge they need to love well, to offer grace.

You point to this day and say this? This is going to be a tough one to weather and I wanted you to know. 

You can even take a step farther and say “this is what I need.” … if you know… and you won’t always know.

This is when the brave ones will enter in and do their best to love well, bring your favorite latte, cover you at a meeting, take you out to lunch, send you a text, a prayer, a hug, a grace.

Be open, do something, do what feels like the right thing to do to abide .

Honesty, Openness, Invitation, this is my best advice for observing loss anniversaries well.

Thank you for reading, I honor and deeply appreciate your heart and your eyes. To have each new post from this blog delivered to your inbox, enter your address in the box below. 

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Love Showed Up: Breathe in, breathe out

Elora Ramirez has been a friend, role model and lovely presence in my life for a while now. She’s the founder of Story Sessions, a community of women (of which I am a part) who support and encourage each other in their lives and writing journeys. Her leadership is changing lives friends, in the most tangible ways.

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She texted me one morning in June.

“I don’t know exactly what you need, but I’m praying for you and am here. Whether that’s bringing you lunch or picking you up to escape—let me know?” 

It was two days after receiving the call that the birth mother would be keeping her son. This was the second broken placement and in so many ways, hurt far more than the first one. We’d seen the picture, held the hope, created the space and laid open our hearts. And now, ashes. That’s all that remained.

I remember getting the notification of my friend’s text and then staring at the baby clothes hanging in the closet in front of me, the numbness overtaking every limb like a heavy liquid.

“I guess lunch sounds good. I should probably eat something.” I replied, burying myself deeper into the covers on my bed and closing my eyes. Closing my eyes, I didn’t have to remember. Closing my eyes, all I saw is what I felt: darkness.

Within an hour, she was at my door with cheeseburgers and milkshakes. She put the bags and the cups on the counter and then pulled me close for a hug. I couldn’t say anything, hadn’t been able to articulate any phrases or sentences or words for days, and so I just stood there. She didn’t let go, she just kept breathing.

Almost like she was trying to remind me how to move forward: breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.

I ate lunch and made small talk, but soon I just needed the quiet darkness of my room. I told her I was going to take a nap, and she just smiled. I whispered on my way out of the room, “thank you—for bringing lunch. I don’t know if you’ll be here when I come out or not, but it was good seeing you.” 

She didn’t leave until almost midnight.

She stayed and read on my couch while I tried to rest, and held my hand when I gave up on the silence and walked back into the living room with tears in my eyes. We painted our nails, I asked about the book she was reading, and by the time my husband came home I felt more like myself than I had in days.

And then, as if sitting me in the midst of sackcloth and ashes wasn’t enough to remind me of hope, she went home and penned a blog post that still brings immediate tears to my eyes.

I know most people don’t know how to respond in the midst of heavy grief, but in this moment, love came down and showed up in the form of someone who is now one of my best friends and people. It’s more than acknowledging the heavy days are heavy—it’s coming over and offering to carry the load for a bit, even when the person doesn’t even know how to move out from under the weight of grief. And in this moment—I felt seen. Loved. Held.

2014-03-06 09.03.37What if your story could change the world? Elora believes it can. The one you’ve been hiding under your heart’s bed, afraid that a little air will make it a monster you can’t escape? That’s the story she wants to hear. That’s the story you’ve got to tell before it sucks the air right out of your lungs. It was this belief that prompted Elora to launch Story Unfolding, a respite for tired artists aching to be heard. She also runs Story Sessions, a community for women who create. She’s written a novel and writes out her thoughts and the holy & broken on her blog

Don’t miss a post in the Love Showed Up Series, there is so much goodness here Use this handy box below to subscribe over email, or click the bloglovin icon on the top left to sign up that way.

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Interested in contributing to this series? I’d love to hear your story. Shoot me an email at leannerae (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll have a cup of virtual coffee over it.

7 Hard Things (About Church Planting)

This was supposed to be up on a Saturday but you know… life.HELP I recently asked the fine folks in our facebook group. (Are you there yet? If you are did you know that new content doesn’t show up in your feed unless you “like things” that page post from time to time? Helpful advice from your neighborhood blogger)

Anywaaaaay 

I asked these fine folks what they would like to know about our Church Planting Journey, because honestly I’m starting to get a little overwhelmed and brain-frazzled so I need to know: What can I fill you in on?

There were several good responses, but this is the one I want to respond to today and it comes from reader Ginger.

“What the specific challenges are that you two are finding? Obviously you have to depend on God to bring the increase, but how do you cope with the challenges?”

Yes. Church Planting is hard and Ginger I just wanted to thank you for helping me open up the floor and talk about it. Kel and I have thrown this question around a bit and come up with what I hope is helpful and true for all those on this journey across the country and world.

1) Getting people interested without seeming creepy- I’ll be honest with you (this is how I roll) we only have three people on our launch team as of today and that can get a little discouraging. Since we started this journey it’s been bitterly cold and engaging people has been less than easy as no one is feeling very social. This will all change soon as we plan events and spend more time outdoors in the community, but for me I worry so very much about coming across as the face to face telemarketers of the church world, which is so not what we are going for.

2) Not taking it home- Although this is officially Kel’s job (my name is not on the payroll anywhere) we both feel deeply called and to engage the NE Grand Rapids community through this church. This means that if we’re not careful, the church plant can dominate our dinner conversation which is okay in part but we are a family who existed before this church and will exist apart from it. Sometimes we need to talk about church stuff at home and sometimes we need to focus on our lives apart from it, it’s a delicate balance and we’re not there yet.

3) Maintaining a big picture- As with any big task, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details. I have to keep telling myself that we do in fact believe that God has called us to this and that through our open hands people will experience changed, healed hearts. That this is about people and Jesus and really nothing else in the end, not paint or logos… people and Jesus.

4) Let it Go, Let it Go– I am not in charge of this church plant, and it’s wonderful. God has plans in mind I haven’t even dared hope for. He has people for us to meet and stories yet to write. I need to open my hands and bathe in the hugeness of our God and the smallness of my role. Do we need to work? Yes. Do we think that we are the ones who will make it work? Nope.

5) Keeping upbeat – It’s also easy to get discouraged with slow progress, I am not a patient person, so this is really hard for me. The other day I found myself going negative nancy on things, talking about how our budget was too small asking if we were behind. Kel approached me later that night and told me this: “However discouraged you feel, I feel 10 times that discouraged and nervous about all of this.” So part of our church planting process has been about keeping our attitudes upbeat, but honest about our feelings and for me it means tipping the scales in favor of encouraging Kel and away from expressing fears.

6) Worrying we will make the wrong calls culturally– We are planting a church in an urban area and I’ve never lived anywhere except suburbia. This leaves me feeling so very culturally inept. When we were in Oklahoma I felt this way at times when I picked the wrong food for events (apparently college students hate pasta salad?!) I don’t know what people in this area want or need from church, so Holy Spirit help us here and community? Forgive us when we fumble it.

7) Feeling inadequate in general- I don’t have it all figured out and I don’t feel like mine is a spiritual journey I want on display as an example. We forget to read the bible, we forget to pray with our kids, sometimes I feel like a hypocrite and a lot of times I feel that surely other ministry families must be better than us… whatever that means. I know that better is non existent and this it’s all relative but this is a massive struggle for me personally and regularly express and project upon Kel.

So there it is, the ugly, honest hard parts that our subconsciouses are currently aware of.

So, tell me: Is there anything you want to know about our church planting journey?

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God, I don’t give this to you.

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It was past midnight, maybe three AM when I found myself face down on our dingy comforter silently sobbing these words:

God I give this to you, I give it to you, I give it to you.

I sat up. I got honest.

God I don’t give this you, not today. I fully acknowledge that it IS IN FACT yours right now but my fingers won’t unclench. They will not release. Today I cannot let this drop into your hands where I fully understand that it already rests.

Today I am grasping, today I lack the faith, today I am fully of reasons not to trust you but God… will you help me? 

Could you love me, even now when my fear and faithlessness gather into piles of reasons why you shouldn’t? 

God I am through pretending that I leave my endeavors, my people, my life, my plans in your hands because I think we both see me scrambling for control, for the reigns, for the false hope that I was ever in charge in the first place.

I wonder if the only way to get somewhere in all of this is to sit up straight, walk out of bed, turn on the lamp and confess to you plainly that I do not trust you. That I do not give this to you… but that I want to, deeply, with a desperation kin a deep, desert thirst.

Continue to romance me? To pry my fingers open one by one saying “dear one, dear one… I got this. I got it love, please let go, drop it into the hands that have never stopped holding it. I know you are wounded, I know that you have questions and reasons why the only person who can make things okay is you but I promised you freedom and I will never stop calling you thusly.

He cannot promise he that everything will be okay
That there will not be additional pain, even loss.
That promise does not exist friends.

So tonight I sit up in the midnight hour and confess honestly the heart space in which I find myself.

God I do not trust with you my children and I do not trust you with my husband.
I do not trust you with our provision and I do not trust that you go before.

But God? I want to.

Can you spare a bit more patience? Go with me a while longer while I point out all the ways in which you have let my prayers fall through the cracks or be answered with the worst possible ends?

Will you forgive me my faithlessness a bit longer while I come to terms with it and beg a bit more forgiveness? A bit more love, a bit more time on our journey back to trust.

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How to Meet and Marry an Okie (part 3)

 

I’m telling the internet our story, the story of meeting a boy I met online and how over time we fell for each other and made it work across the miles. For part 2 click here.  To start at the beginning click here)hands

I stepped out of the airport and called Kel to let him know he could leave the stand by lot to pick me up. My hands were shaking as they pulled along my roller suitcase, what was I doing? Was my hair alright? But mostly… what was I doing?

I saw his Lincoln Towncar turning around the corner by the parking ramps, he pulled up and helped me with my bag, we hugged, got in because I don’t linger in airport pick up / drop off. I have an appropriate fear of the TSA.

I settled on to the leather seat of his car (appropriately known as the couch on wheels) and we looked at each other across the front seat.

“Hi.”

It wasn’t awkward, it was exciting. It was butterflies and stolen glances and laughter.

We ate an insanely early dinner at the one and only Ted’s Café and Cantina and then drove around the University of Oklahoma’s campus before unlocking the campus ministry where he worked for a dance lesson.

One thing no one knows about Kel is that he is a classically trained ballroom dancer. Yes, really. And I am the least graceful person I know in real life. I walk into door jams on a daily basis, I misjudge table clearance and stub my toes hourly. It’s a little like always having a touch of vertigo I imagine.

So when he suggested dancing I laughed but remained open to the idea of being closer, trying something new.

He hauled out a boom-box (remember those?!) and we started practicing. I can’t remember what dance we tried or which song we danced to, I remember giggling a lot and feeling caught when his campus minister walked in on us.

There we were at 9pm dancing together in a mostly darkened building, me this stranger from the internet who flew in on a whim and was flirting with one of his Senior interns. Or whatever I was doing…

Yet I was greeted warmly by everyone I met in Oklahoma. Because Oklahoma is warm like that. Most of them didn’t even know I existed, turns out Kel was a bit more private about his internet/phone friend than I was.

Eventually we returned to his duplex (which had half a Christmas tree in the corner in September and was home to not only Kel and Andy but also a few families of mice, several of whom I had the pleasure of meeting) and true to his word Kel slept on the couch while I got the bedroom.

The next day he parked cars at the football game, then we swung by Classic 50’s (Norman’s premiere drive-in soda stop) and decided to take a drive out to his childhood home where did a little tour and I met his mom.

On the way home he reached for my hand and I knew it was coming, the air was thick with unspoken romantic possibilities, terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.

We got back to his apartment and sat across from each other, the inevitable DTR couldn’t have been more obvious, it hung like a cloud.

What were we doing? What was this?

I expressed my concerns as graciously as I could manage, it probably sounded something like this: “You’re a methodist and I’m hard core non-denominational (oh the hurdles I used to think were a big deal) you love Taco Bell and I’m sort becoming health-nut and OH YEAH YOU LIVE IN OKLAHOMA and I live 1,000 miles away, I don’t see how this will ever work”

In my heart I knew that I couldn’t just date Kel casually, that things would escalate quickly and that we were starting in the middle of “getting to know you” journey.

I never game him a definite answer, but still we kissed a little… or a lot…ahem… yeah…

So the next few days passed in a blur, I can honestly tell you that I have no idea what we did except I know that we shot a movie for his campus ministry advertising an upcoming retreat in which I was the heroine and wore the most unfortunate bra one could wear in running scenes, and shorts. There was jiggle but the thing turned out great … if you asked someone who wasn’t be watching my jiggle in horror.

Eventually it was time for me to get on a plane and fly back home, I can’t remember who picked me up from the airport but I remember this distinctly. Kel called me after I landed and said “I guess it’s time to tell my friends that I have a girlfriend in Michigan.”

To which I answered: “I never said yes, I’m still at a maybe” (I know, tease, B, mean… I agree. Bad 22 year old Leanne, Bad.)

Even with all the kissing.. poor Kel…Bless him he hung with me, told me to take all the time I needed.

So I took a few months, we talked and he remained patient, until one night I called him at two in the morning

“Okay Yes”
“Yes what?”
“You know… my answer is yes.”
“Yes… yes you’ll be my official girlfriend?”
“Yes.”

“Awesome, great news… yeah I’m going to go back to sleep though.”

I guess I deserved that.

To be continued…. 

How to Meet and Marry an Okie (part 2)

This is chapter two of my little blog-novel about how I met my Okie husband on the internet machine. For chapter one, click here. 

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Leanne and the infamous road trip Lincoln.

The phone calls with Kel started at “just this once” and then “only for special occasions” but as good things tend to do, they became an addiction. We started talking to each other every other night, for at least two hours.

I think “every other night” was an unspoken rule. We’d never met in person and we had no idea what “this” was so every night phone calls would be crazy, but every other night was normal… or at least less insane.

We’d have to wait until his evening minutes kicked in and we never indulged in daytime calls unless it was an emergency. We had email and AIM for that and he didn’t want to get in trouble with his mom for using too much from their share plan. Cell phone rules used to be so quirky back the days when we actually called people

So every other evening I’d crawl into my American Flag day bed (Yes, really) and wait for him to call, and at 9:01 like clockwork his number would light up my little flip phone.

And we’d talk about our days
We’d talk about God
We’d talk about our families
We’d talk about random things like “if you could have a farm with four corrals of animals, any animals you’d choose, what would you have and why?”

FYI Kel would have all beavers, because he wants to see what it would be like when they stampede.

We figured out how much I hate the word penetrate... A lot… by the way… just typing it made me feel icky… 

Sometimes on the weekends he would talk to me as I delivered pizzas, I’d update him about the weirdness of people and how much they did or didn’t tip.

The one night, inevitably I suppose, we discussed the idea of meeting in person. He was planning a cross country, seminary tour road trip with his best friend and was planning to be in Ohio and Chicago and “could he come up and meet me, no expectations?

We’d always joked about how we’d never meet in person, and suddenly all that was changing.

I have no idea what I said, probably “sure” or “yes,” but in my mind I was nervous. This was getting real! Meeting him in only a few months?

I had no idea what we had but I was really scared of screwing it up and losing it. Kel was this voice on the other end of the line, these words on the other end of the computer screen… this person I’d never met who understood and cared more than most I’d met in real life.

Of course I “wanted” to meet him, but…

I was so nervous about it that when the time came, I ran down my immune system and started feeling that preemptive nasty cold sore throat just hours before he pulled into town.Still, I gulped down some medicine and drove to our designated meet-up spot, calling my friend and coworker Amy on the way for moral support.

I pulled up, Amy stayed on the line to be sure that I wasn’t going to get kidnapped by a serial killer.

I got out of the car and he walked out of the house where he was staying, wearing a gray button up shirt and khaki cut-offs pants he’d made himself. They were fraying at the bottom.

And then there we were, saying hi and hugging and so nervous about things that we could hardly speak.

I ran back to my phone to let Amy know I was not being kidnapped… our plan was fool proof, obviously.

If I’m honest, it wasn’t bells and whistles, it was one of the most awkward moments of my life. We didn’t know how to do face to face, we knew late night phone calls and AIM flirting and here we were face to face for the first time yet already knowing each other’s deepest junk.

Yet we sallied forth and went out for dinner. I’m pretty sure I talked to his friend Andy more than I talked to Kel and he spent the meal smiling and flicking straw wrappers and napkin balls at my head like a first grade boy. (yes, really.)

After dinner, we headed back to my parents house to play cards and eventually parted ways for the evening.

The next day I took them to Lake Michigan and we went to our first movie in the soon to be demolished Studio 28 where his friend got us free popcorn and Nachos. We watched Shrek 2 and he gained gold stars for letting me eat most of his nachos after I tanked my own.. I mean who has brakes for free nachos? No one that’s who. 

That night we said goodbye, hugged and went our separate ways. I was supposed to accompany them to Chicago to the next day day but instead I ended up staying home instead, my sore throat had turned into full blown sick.

I thought it was goodbye forever. That wasn’t kismet, or movie worthy at all… it was sort of awkward, I wondered if we would even keep up the phone calls. 

He didn’t call much in the next few weeks because he was on the road finishing his seminary-tour road trip.

But then, one night he did and we resumed our every-other phone call thing like nothing had changed between us, like nary a straw wrapper was flicked.

Summer came and clicked along and we grew closer, over the phone and in emails. This was our jam. I’d never encountered anyone in my life who seemed to be so into me, who got my crazy and for some reason kept coming back for more? What the what?

Labor Day weekend rolled around and I had this urge to hang out with him, it was insatiable.. but there were serious barriers, the 1,000 mile variety.

1) It was Friday and I had no way to get to Oklahoma, surely holiday weekend tickets would be astronomical.
2) I was scheduled to work 3 jobs that weekend / next Tuesday (Pizza, Desk Job, Delivering Papers)
3) I had mentioned NONE of this to Kel, how much crazy could he take?

So I shot up an arrow prayer that went something like this: Okay God, if you want this to happen: All of my bosses have to be cool with me not working, the ticket has to be less than $200 and Kel has to be free for a visit.

Within the next 30 minutes every stipulation was met and I had booked my ticket to Oklahoma City.

I didn’t have to fly out of Chicago or Detroit, the first search I made on Hotwire was a ticket leaving the next morning from Grand Rapids into Oklahoma City for only $199.

So I called Kel and it went something like this:
“Hey what are you doing over Labor Day weekend?”
“Parking cars for the OU game and that’s all I HAVE to do.”
“Can I come visit?”
” Tomorrow? That’s weird, you know that? Like tomorrow, tomorrow? I won’t have to time to arrange for you to stay with a girl friend but I guess I can sleep on the couch. Uh, sure. Why not?… this is weird.”
“I know, I just really want to hang out.”

So I booked my ticket, dyed my hair bright red… because brave things call for brave hair… and boarded a plane to Oklahoma City the very. next. morning.

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Confessions of a spiritual hole-poker

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I have a typewriter, an old beige-gray Adler from the 1950s. This isn’t all that extraordinary anymore, I know a lot of writers and vintage lovers who have them. Although I don’t know how many use them.

I use mine. It was a gift from a dear friend to help me as I moved through prayer and therapy. I love a keyboard over hand journaling but I needed one without connectivity, somewhere to write where copy/paste to twitter simply wasn’t a choice. Somewhere I could write and pray and be without temptation to promote or share.

So in the mornings I do my prayers on my typewriter, or at least I’m starting to.

If you ever paint me as a disciplined, have it all together writer, pastor’s wife person: please refer to this postor this one… for a little perspective. Then read the rest of this post and all false beliefs well be well and truly shattered.

But some mornings lately I do write and pray and talk to God via typewriter, earlier this week I found myself writing something that surprised me. It plunked slowly from my fingertips and as it took shape I knew it was a prayer worth holding onto.

“God, I feel like I’ve been living in skepticism when it comes to you. Doubting much and believing little. Help me survey this crumbled foundation of faith and start re-piecing my beliefs back together”

I’ve developed this bad habit over the past 10 years. I poke holes in spiritual things. If you read me a scripture, share a theological truth or play me a praise song I immediately look for ways it’s not true.

How it hasn’t applied to my life
Times in which God didn’t come through
Spots where it feels like BS

For I know the plans I have for you…
Really? You planned this for me?
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts..
This is what I suck at being a Christian…Got no peace.

I use the bible to tear myself down, to prove why I’ll never hack it as a Pastor’s wife, why I’m a total hypocrite and surely one of those lukewarm types on the fast track to being spit into the bowels of Hell. I’m nothing if not dramatic in my inner monologue Continue reading