And the Cherry on Top is the Big Apple

shutterstock_129949166Finally I get to tell you a bit of what’s really been going on in my life.

For many months now I’ve been in a state of limbo. That feeling you get when you sense one season is ending and another is coming—but you have no idea what it means.

Dave has felt the same way. And yet over the years, we’ve learned to trust that inner knowing. So this summer, we began to make long-needed upgrades to our house. New exterior paint. Adding a bathroom upstairs. Shoveling out eight years worth of accumulated junk.

This fall, we learned what we were really up to. We got news that Penguin Random House was moving one of its imprints—Convergent Books—to the New York City offices, and was inviting Dave to move with it. As many of you know, Dave helped to launch Convergent a couple years ago while working as an editor for WaterBrook Multnomah.

On Tuesday, Crown Publishing, a division of Penguin Random House, announced the move, along with some other changes at the company. An article in Christianity Today noted, “Convergent, which focuses on books for ‘progressive and mainline Christians who demand an open, inclusive, and culturally engaged exploration of faith,’ will be led by David Kopp.”

Since I write out of my life so much (a nice way of saying I’m good at spiritualizing my self-absorption), it’s been tough to blog when I couldn’t give you the scoop. Even once I knew what was coming down the pike, it had to stay a secret until it was officially announced. Now that it has been, I’m not quite sure how to explain what I feel.

Honestly, I vacillate wildly between sadness and excitement. I’m devastated about leaving my community here in the Springs—those precious, amazing friends I’ve made both inside and outside of recovery. And moving away from my oldest son will be very hard.

But I’m also anticipating good things. In recent years, I’ve found so much help and encouragement among the tribe of Christians Convergent Books was conceived for. So in many ways, this move represents a kind of spiritual convergence for me personally. I can’t explain it all now, but I think it’s going to free me up to write my next book.

In the meantime, it comforts me to remember that I can carry all of you with me to New York.  And after seven years of learning how to form true connections in recovery, I get to take my friends here in Colorado Springs with me, too. Used to be, when I moved away, I moved away. Out of sight, pretty much out of mind.

Recently Dave and I had one of those long conversations about the trajectory of our life, marriage, and careers. We came to the conclusion that God is a genius for bringing us together, that life has always proved right in the end, and that moving to the Big Apple just might be the cherry on top of our dreams.

This morning, my eyes fell on a book title by Anne Lamott that pretty much sums up my feelings and my new prayer mantra as well: Help. Thanks. Wow! 

P.S. Check out the amazing  Convergent Books blog when you get a chance. Right now there’s a great video by Kathy Escobar on her new book, Faith Shift. 

P.S. S.  I’d love to hear from you today. Please forgive my being so behind in answering emails.  I’ll get there!


This Makes Sense

shutterstock_26493481[This post is straight from yesterday’s Raw entry. A friend wrote to say it touched her and I should post it on my real blog].

I haven’t written here in a few days. I think I do that sometimes when stuff is going on in my life that isn’t Raw sharable.  You know, family stuff or personal matters that don’t need to be shared online. Which, I suppose, is the big difference between Raw and my journal.

This morning Jesus was talking about end times, which is one of my least favorite sections. I’m sorry, God. It just is. But once again, I loved this part of a poem by Hafiz called “Wanting our life to make sense.”

All day long you do this, and then even in your

sleep. . . pan for gold. 

We are looking to find something to celebrate

with great enthusiasm,

wanting all our battles and toil and our life to

make sense.”

So, so true. And I am one of those gold-panners, sifting every experience, every thing I read, what other say… for that nugget of truth that might buy me some wisdom or help me on my way somehow.

But of course, at the same time, I am not content just to pile up the nuggets somewhere in my head or heart, I want them all to fit together like an expensive lego structure so that it will all make sense–something about the symmetry and timing and truth of my life will add up to Meaning with a capital M.

Why is it some of us are so bent on Meaning and other people are content just to live and be and accept what comes or else label it good or bad, but have no need to think much beyond that? Why do some of us hanker for mystery only to stomp our feet when it doesn’t pan out in a way that helps us?

This poem piece dovetailed really well with what I read in Frederick Buechner’s reflections today too. He was talking about a prof he once had, James Mullenberg, but I was interested in the ideas:

“‘Every morning when you wake up,’ he used to say, ‘before you reaffirm your faith in the majesty of a loving God, before you say I believe for another day, read the Daily News with its record of the latest crimes and tragedies of mankind and then see if you can honestly say it again.’

“He was a fool in the sense that he didn’t or wouldn’t or couldn’t resolve, intellectualize, evade, the tensions of his faith but lived those tensions out, torn almost in two by them at times. His faith was not a seamless garment but a ragged garment with the seams showing, the tears showing, a garment that he clutched about him like a man in a storm.”

I love this. And I so relate to that feeling of wearing a faith that has so many holes and is so poorly made that it feels at times embarrassing. And yet, you couldn’t rip it off my body or take it away from me for the world. It is all I have to clothe me some days, this tattered silly faith in a God who won’t make the world make sense or give it concrete, permanent Meaning, but who insists that I love it and him anyway.

I’m very aware of things not making sense today, of the injustices of the world, of the unfairness of things—all my blessings and all those blessings that people I love don’t have. And the blessings aren’t transferable. They aren’t material, but relational and spiritual and circumstantial. Which is part of the problem with being rich with the kind of gold that isn’t salable—you can’t give it to others even when you want to. It belongs to you in a way that allows you to bless others from some of the profit, but it can’t be handed over.

Here, take this. Let’s trade lives and I will live yours for a while and you can live mine and I’ll suffer for your problems and you can have mine—which are so much less of a burden than yours! If only we really could bring each other relief that way, when someone is having a hard life we could say, “I’ll trade you for a week!”

But our life is the one thing we can’t really and truly ever give away. We can “lose” it and sacrifice for others or and lay it down in service, but we can’t exchange souls like a house swap.

I read a beautiful blog this morning about being grateful for little things like birds, and it reminded me that I have dropped my gratitudes list on the blog. I need to just take it down. Maybe lists just aren’t my style, maybe gratitude happens here in Raw more naturally.

Today I am grateful for this: My husband’s smile and how when I stood at the bathroom door this morning talking to him about a favor I need him to do—mail some books to an author—he suddenly turned and kissed me with shaving cream all over his face—and now mine.

A shaving cream kiss. This is a big thing. This is a gold nugget. This makes sense.