the staying; the going; the ink

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I wrote lately. I wrote about staying, and I wrote about going.

I wrote that I had learned to stay and now I am learning to go.

I don’t think that’s exactly correct anymore.

I thought this, before. I thought that the last three years were to teach me to stay. Live. Dwell. Befriend faithfulness, Psalm 37 says. Dwell in the land, and befriend faithfulness. I did all that. I was faithful and dwelt contentedly where God had placed me. The last nine months I had focused on going. I thought it was a new lesson. Like a puppy.

Lesson 1: Stay.

Lesson 2: Go.

No. Lesson one is THE lesson.

Go is really great. Go makes packing fun – like a jam session with besties. I wore my girls out packing things into boxes and boxes into my car and I wore me out with putting my car on the road and my home and family into the rearview mirror.

Go carried me all week.

Great, right?

A whole… week.

Yes.

That’s really not very far. After a week I was in Colorado Springs.

“Welcome home,” Anni texted me. “Welcome home,” Tiffany and Elena and Hannah and Afton wrote in their sweet letters.

I hesitated before I said it out loud myself. I would leave work and think “Now I am going… going back to… “

There are several awkward endings to that. “To the house I rent.” “To my bedroom in the basement.” “To the north end of town.” So welcoming, eh?

(Fine. You know what, Coloradans? I do say “Eh” and it’s awesome.)

Then I breathed. Slowly and deeply on low-oxygen air that still burns Minnesota lungs and I said IT. Going home. I’m going home from work. Home from church. Home from Bible Study. Home from hiking on whichever of all the mountains I’ve been scrambling about on.

Home.

Yes.

Home.

I don’t think Go was ever meant to last.

A few times I have caught myself thinking that I am on vacation. I saw a photo by my M’s dad on facebook and the first thing in my mind was “When I get home, I really want to see M right away! … Oh.”

Each time something small like happens I feel a still small voice.

You’re going to think this is like, scripture if I write it like that. Of course I don’t know the future. But I understand the underlying message of this still, small voice.

Stay.

I argue it a little bit in a half-hearted way. (No sane person really argues with staying in the mountains. Okay? Okay.)

But God, my old friends aren’t here. God do you know how deep 13 years of community are? Thief River is my Tribe. Yes, God, that was a capital T.

And I feel it a little deeper.

Stay.

I got it tonight. I think I got it. Part of it. Some small shining nugget that I’ll hold onto until, again, I need to go. 

I am here to stay. To dwell. This is not an experiment. This is not a semester. I am not here to dip my toes in the water, to roll another sip around on my tongue, to analyze the difficulty of the trail. No. I came, and God makes it more clear daily that I came to stay.

It sounds so permanent. It isn’t. I don’t have the foggiest clue when I’ll leave. (Most likely not this month. Anyway.) But until then, I am called to stay. Until then, I am called to dwell: I am called to befriend faithfulness.

How am I staying if I am holding on too tightly to those friendships that have nurtured and challenged me and made me better at ultimate frisbee? How am I staying if I chill listlessly in my comfy chair and wonder how Bible Study is going back home on Tuesdays?

No. Staying is staying fully, and dwelling here, and befriending faithfulness to new friends, new communities, a new church and a new home. A new job. New backyard and new friends. New ideas. New activities and new habits.

That.

That is staying.  

Those last three years are like any chapter in any book. It is closed and ended, but the characters have not gone away completely. The lessons your little protagonist learned will be used and flopped around and forgotten and relearned and worn out and comfortable in the chapters to come. The old has gone and the new has come and they are underscored with the same theme – the staying and the serving God in the everyday – everyday happens everywhere, to everyone. There is no Go farther than everyday.

And so?

I will stay. Dwell.

“Will you ever get a tattoo?” Kiara asked. Her question was nearly as out of the blue as it pops to you in the post. 

“Probably not,” I shrugged.

“But what would it be, if you did?”

“The word Dwell,” I replied.

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An Inception-like idea sprouted. I started to unintentionally recall scores of scriptures that mention dwelling or staying.

John 15: “Abide in me, and I in you.” Abide. Dwell. Remain. Make this place, this community with Christ, your home.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous: do not be afraid, do not be discouraged. The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Wherever you go. With you. Abiding, dwelling, staying beside. God dwells with me.

So I scheduled an appointment. I did a little trail run with a marker on my wrist, and liked it. (Dear Sharpie: Thank you.) No, actually. Not trail run. Trial run. (Mountains got me like: Everything is Hike. My bad.) Mountain-girl mentality aside…

Then one night, before getting tatted, I read Psalms. I read Psalm 37 to remember my lesson and my goal and to smile a little, with God, about our staying. And I read Psalm 42 and Psalm 19 just to get all the favorites, and then I read Psalm 23.

“I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

*deep exhale

Yes. Ooooh so much yes.

I went into that parlor with a gorgeous bestie and a full heart and came out giddy and bandaged and determined not to almost run any red lights by accident, like I did 4-ish times on the way there. I came out biting my lip because it stings when you get your wrist poked with needles and grateful for M’s hand to hold when it hurt to hard and silly-happy about this whole ink thing.

And I came out determined to learn again and keep learning to dwell, to dwell with God as he dwells with me, and to strive for that eternal dwelling.

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life is great, and stuff: or, why being happy hurts so hard

To the Coloradans who wonder how I write and what about: Sample below.

To everybody I knew before Colorado who wonders how I’m doing: Explanation below.

I only barely know why I’m compelled to share this. Don’t think it’s too perfect. Maybe I need to remember myself; others feel this, too.

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It’s a social media thing. We want to look perfect. But is it really that? Sure. We run into those people who are stuck on how lovely they look on their media and all. But some of us are just trying to remind ourselves how beautiful it is – because underneath it hurts – hard.

I take all sorts and kinds of photos and I sort them, cull them, edit them, post them, attach pretty words to them, and make them into something like art.

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wpid-2015-07-25-02.11.05-1.jpg.jpegIt’s not bragging.

It’s clinging.

I’m not proving to you that Colorado has a trump-card view, or that my solitary hikes are peaceful, pensive plunges into wilderness. I’m not showing you that I’m braver, I meet more genuine people, I have a cooler church and a sweeter coffee mug (actually, this is true. Tiffany and I have the coolest coffee mugs.)

wpid-2015-07-25-02.20.10-1.jpg.jpegwpid-2015-07-23-03.28.11-1.jpg.jpegwpid-2015-07-25-02.17.07-1.jpg.jpegI’m holding on to those things. I need to know that the people I meet here are genuine because it helps the ache of missing my homies. I need to know that the mountains are as beautiful as the plains – that they can be home too: sweating and straining towards some summit combats the pain of not staring across the lakebed of my state towards the sunset for hours, in a single evening.

I always look for beautiful things. Now though, more than before, I document them because I need to see them again and again – I need to look at the provision of the past to see the potential of tomorrow. It’s a choice, some days. Cling like hard and smothery to this present beauty and its Giver, or give up and wear out the roll of tp I keep by my reading chair, in case of runny nose and eyes. (I’m too cheap/lazy/happy to buy Kleenex.)

wpid-2015-07-25-02.21.44-1.jpg.jpegwpid-2015-07-24-09.20.14-1.jpg.jpegDon’t look at things I say and photograph with a jealous eye (idk – do you?) But then don’t look at anybody’s profile life like that. It’s never easy. The leaving, the severing, the growing, the newness and immersion and the quiet (lonely) nights at home, or the energetic, bright (numb) nights away?

These. Things. Hurt.

We all crave that peace and that excitement and that rare moment on our camera and those fresh words we find. There is a funny dichotomy between the perfection we hope we can grasp at – even for a moment – and the hurts we are trying to cover – even for a moment. It’s there in every sentence. Every photo. Every text. Every smile, every tear, every of just about anything we do.

wpid-2015-07-26-06.14.19-1.jpg.jpegSo, all ya’ll. Thanks for sharing a bit of my life. Thanks for being excited about it. Thanks for letting me share and be excited about your life. Let’s us keep clinging to and remembering and sharing lovely things, yeah?