Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bad Art, Healing Art, and the In-between

On Sunday I had a frustrating day, the sermon felt really flat even though I like the content, potluck meant more time at church and less time for some visits. I did not get my usual afternoon nap as I did visits and some errands. I threw together a pot of tortilla soup in the crock pot, it smelled amazing. We took some down time to see Hidden Figures, which is amazing. After the film we came home to a house full of the smell of this soup. We started to eat the soup, we could not eat the soup, I put the whole lime in, it turns out lime rinds will make soup so bitter, nothing will counter act it. I ended up eating pop tarts, dinner of champions. Then in a move that was less than wise, I decided to work on a craft project I have been dreaming of for almost two years. Right before we moved here I saw one of those canvas signs that said in this home we do... I liked it but waited to purchase it. When I went to purchase it, it was sold out. I did some internet searches and found more words I liked. I had a picture of a sign and a few extra words to add. I had spent Saturday evening designing my template/stencil on the computer and Sunday I had "printed" it on my cutting tool. This is a tedious process. My kiddo went to bed in the middle of this process. I didn't plan to finish the project that night but I did. Once I got going I couldn't stop. The thing is I had attended a sign painting class a few weeks ago and I had the steps down. In the class we used boards at home I was using a canvas I had purchased. It turns out that canvas in addition to being too textured and pliable to really hold my stencil, also bleeds when you paint with this technique. I made a good first try but it bled and it is splotchy and not what I envisioned. I decided I would regroup and try again. I hung it on a wall to dry so we didn't get painted kitten feet.

Fast forward to the next morning, kiddo gets up sees my project on the wall and excitedly say, "Mommy is THAT your poster!" I replied, "Yes it is, but it got a little splotched up. I need to do it over." "MOMMY! There is no such thing as bad art!" (I know she hears this at home but I am pretty sure she hears it at school too.) As always she has me thinking on my toes. "Well it isn't bad but it isn't how I would like it, so I will try again." This led to a good conversation about practicing and trying again.

Now it is not lost on me that the first word on these signs is REAL and there is a chance that maybe I should leave it as in an attempt to be authentic. I told my daughter I liked the over all design and the colors but I would like to try again. She talked about how she could try again on her drawings. It felt like an excellent teaching moment. On Tuesday I remade the soup and made sure to point out, I was trying again. This weekend I will do take two on this sign to get it how I want it. She is right there is no bad art not in soup or signs. Yet, there is the idea that if something doesn't turn out how we might like we can try again, most of the time.

It would seem that there are no second chances when it comes to this past election because tomorrow the inauguration happens. I am not going to lie, this election has been hard on me, it has not only pressed on everything I hold dear in a negative way; it has made preaching the gospel with out sounding political nearly impossible. My job went from challenging to overwhelming in one day's time. I am hurting, I am a little angry, I am a little afraid. My call is to serve the people of God, the people of God are well, everyone. How do I raise my voice for the oppressed because of my call and convictions, when suddenly the love of Christ is totally political like it was 2000 years ago?

Long before I was a pastor, long before I knew this would be my life, I lived, worked, and dreamed in film production. Film was and is my art form of choice. Now I left this field, particularly live news (my last related gig) because I didn't like some of what it stood for. Lately, art has been my balm. Art has been helping me to heal and process my emotions. There is a lot out there that can be considered entertainment: music, tv, movies, books... you get the idea. Not all entertainment is art. The difference is entertainment amuses us, art speaks to the full breath of human experience. Art speaks to pain, uncertainty, oppression, joy, love, and overcoming. Art speaks to all that we experience and it stirs in us through pictures, paintings, words, songs. It hits that place of commonality we humans tend to have, it overcomes all the barriers we build to protect ourselves, hits us right in the heart. This past week I was reminded of the powerful voice of art in our lives. I am grateful for the way fearless art spoke to me this week. I am proud that in this contentious time the artists are not afraid to speak truth into the world. In this strange time we must cling to what gives us hope.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fertility and Grief

This week we started our last allowed round of intervention on the local level for the treatment of infertility. We have other options and we have pretty amazing insurance right now which means many of those options are covered by said insurance. We need to discuss how much further we want to take things should this round fail. At this point, we are not super hopeful it will be successful, experience has robbed us of naive hopefulness. We have been through all the tests, everything is showing up as it should. The medicine is allowing me to ovulate, sometimes with multiple follicles. My Fallopian tubes aren't blocked. Paul's counts are all good. I have lost more weight (there is still more to make disappear), I now weigh almost 60 pounds less than I did when our daughter was born. We are consistently making our lifestyle healthier.

This is one hell of a roller coaster ride! First, it's emotional: my whole life I have dreamed of having a big, loud, family, that never takes themselves too seriously and is full of love, much like the one I grew up in. Don't get me wrong, my childhood was far from perfect, a perfect childhood doesn't exist, but I really love my siblings and I am glad we journeyed together toward adulthood. Every month as I lose the next round of bathroom roulette, I grieve deeply for the family I have dreamed of. For the dream of growing human life with in my own body. (Our family will grow by adoption if we have more biological children or not, it is just a hard thing to cling to.) Imagine the thing you want most in the world and you cannot do anything else to work toward that goal. I don't quit, I set goals, I reach them or I adjust. Every month there is this build up of cautious hope, every little body change is a spark of light, then there is the let down. The tears. The grief. The depression. Then there is the fact that during this whole ride I am taking medication that changes my hormones to activate my body to do what it should do naturally. It is emotional before you take the hormones, after, well lets just say GOD BLESS PAUL! He married a woman that doesn't cry all that often and didn't for 12 years, now I don't stop long enough to catch my breath some days. I can't know for sure but I doubt that is easy to deal with.

Recently I made some medication changes, maybe they will be the secret to this puzzle, maybe they won't. There is no good explanation for why our sperm and eggs won't meet up when they should. Perhaps I need to schedule them a facebook event or create tinder accounts for them.I am sad and frustrated and disappointed. I still have to lead church, to preach the good news, when I want to scream what the heck God? I could write you twenty pages on the theology of infertility and where God is in this process. Yet, that doesn't help with my own feelings and frustrations in this process. God and I have a rough relationship some days (I am probably not supposed to say that but it's true and this pastor would tell you as much in person).

This journey takes over your life. Today I walked into a local business I frequent and there was a new employee who was obviously pregnant, my heart ached a little. This week it is my daughter's week to be "star student" and tell her class about herself. I held back tears when it came to the question of how many brothers and sisters she has...0. Last week seeing all the baby stuff in the basement was like a sucker punch to the gut, I had to work to function the rest of the day. Everyday something presents itself that makes me want to lose my composure, some days I give in and I do. Seemingly innocent social media posts become like daggers in my heart and it isn't because I am not genuinely happy for people. It's like every pregnant belly, every pregnancy announcement, every birth announcement, every quip about surprise pregnancies, every complaint about multiple children... starts an unhealthy script in my head. Rationally, I know dealing with an unplanned pregnancy is hard, I know dealing with more than one kid holds it's own set of challenges, I know there is excitement to welcome new life. Irrationally, it starts that internal dialogue, you are broken, you aren't good enough, you are a bad parent to the kid you have, you are a terrible pastor, why does your spouse put up with you, you should have eaten less in childhood. These are lies, they aren't truth, I KNOW that. Some days it is really hard to remember that. To remember hormones play a huge role in my struggle with weight and health. To remember we are all broken. To remember I AM good enough. That I am not a perfect parent but I am a decent one and so on. So I fight to find my footing and it gets lonely and exhausting. I have done some really hard things in my life, some by choice and some by circumstance, this journey might be the hardest thing I have done.

I haven't been myself lately, my focus is off, my thinking is muddled, this is a huge part of the why. If you are reading this and you happen to be the kind to pray, please pray for this process. If you don't, send good vibes into the universe for us or whatever gives your life meaning and connectedness. Over the years I have prayed for God's timing not my own. Lately I just pray to accept God's will in this and I fear our wills are at odds as they often are. I pray to do the thing I least want to do and I am not alone in that, there is a long line of saints who have done the same. Recently, I found community, with a group of women who share in this struggle, I am so grateful for them and our shared experience. (Although I wish none of us had this experience.) I have found solace in their stories and their bravery.