For Christmas, my sister bought me the Head and the Heart Vinyl album. It. Is. Perfect. The song Rivers and Roads could not be more perfect as I think about all of my dear friends who are sprinkled around the world.
So I got a tattoo. The immediate response from friends was to question its authenticity. It was crafted so well by Travis Eason that I suppose it looks more like a painting than ink on my skin. This particular tattoo has been on my mind for the last few years, I wanted a representation of me, my passions and the goals for my life all wrapped up and tied together in a neat, inked, statement.
This Aspen leaf is the perfect depiction of my love for all things Colorado and outdoor splendor; along with a symbolic statement for community. An Aspen grove has roots that run deep and are sprouted from the same seedling, they continue to birth new life as old trees burn away in fires. Though each aspen has unique scars, they all feed from the same source, just as each of us in the global community.
He is very well fed. He doesn't know it though, he has no idea that he is warm and fat because of Babies-R-Us snugglers and expensive formula. His only job right now is to breath, eat and gas it up. What a life.
In the small moments that I do not think about my career, my commitments, my bills, my loans, my loathsome future...I am content to stare at Bryce. To kiss his little wrinkles. To smell his fuzzy head.
With Bryce beginning, he has reminded me of my own life. The good version. The one where I get to eat dinner with my Dad while he asks me genuine questions, the one where I talk to my fifteen year old sister and watch her develop opinions and become a little woman. The one where I have to humbly admit I have nothing figured out, but am being asked by Boet's (God) still small voice to "be here".
I am tempted often to scream at God, I plead with him to fix my Dad's body, to give my brothers babies insurance, to have someone tell me what to do with myself. Then I think, maybe I should just marry the next guy who comes along (1950's style) so I don't have to worry about all this uncertainty. And then I laugh a little, because I know this is not how it works.
I am no theologian. I argue a lot, and I ask a lot of questions, but that does not assure I have any solid truth to offer.
Something I have been challenged with lately is the statement "to know God." In high school, I spit this phrase all over the place, working it into evangelizing conversations I would have with friends. I said it so much that I actually believed I knew the creator of mankind, earth and sky on a personal intimate level. "I know God as my personal Lord and Savior" is so frequently used that is has begun to sound like a recorded greeting.
"Hello, thank you for calling Apple Glass, this is Krisi, how can I help you?" (Sing-song voice)
"Hello, I know God as my personal Lord and Savior, this is Krisi, how can I save you?"
Do I really know God, have I seen his face? When I become desperate and bitter, I am reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew 25: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'
Studying the scriptures might tell me how to know, breathe and taste God,
but to see Him, to taste Him, to breathe Him, to know Him I must cast aside my selfishness and comfort...
I want to see the face of God? I need to reach out and cup the face of the thirsty, the hungry, the homeless, the naked, the lonely, the imprisoned.
So now I depend on scratched CD's and terrible radio to provide noise for my car. I heard the song titled "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri, and even though I know it's supposed to be for a boy from a girl, in a moment of simplicity and half sanity, the lyrics to this pop song became a whisper of God's promise to me. God had things to say to me, and he used a pop song...this is new.
(This is me:)
Colors and promises
How to be brave
How can I love when I’m afraid to fall
But watching you stand alone
All of my doubt suddenly goes away somehow
One step closer
(And Christ responds:)
I have died everyday waiting for you
Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more
Time stands still
Beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything take away
What’s standing in front of me
Every hour has come to this
One step closer
And all along I believed that I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more
We want to know: What does your heart beat for?
It started the summer of 2006 on a city bus in Sofia, Bulgaria; I was eighteen and wide eyed as my team loudly observed the passing skyline each day on our way to a park clean-up project. On the last morning of our trip, a slender woman shuffled onto the bus and plopped down into the seat adjacent to me. For the sake of clarity, let's call her Ruth.
Ruth could have been fifteen, but the heavy eyeliner and stilettos gave her the air of a twenty-something club hopper. Unfortunately, her sexy outfit was not a style statement...but a uniform. Ruth was my first exposure to a real life prostitute; her hair was the color of flax seed and her eyes seemed distant and pensive. She hugged the steel wall of the metro bus and was given a wide birth by the much more virtuous commuters.
I want to tell her story. I want her to know she is not forgotten, that women around the world suffer from abuse and exploitation. I want to give Ruth a voice.
There have been many other times in my life that I felt a great passion beating in me, it has a rhythmic cry of "no more tears." When I see a hungry homeless man with a toothy grin, of a teen who has no healthcare. I want to help tell their stories; when I am filming, editing and writing I can feel this passion coming alive. I am a complete amateur in my field, but have a hunger to learn and develop at a film maker.
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." -Dr. Suess
What a wise man, writing colorful whimsical books for children, and slipping in little lessons for us 'grown-ups'. Life changes so quickly, whether you are getting married, graduating from college, having babies or moving to foreign countries.
One day, I am just riding my bike Lucy to class, drinking loads of free coffee and shuffling around campus in a total bliss of low responsibility. And then out to nowhere, I become a woman of the workforce. It seems so odd, I know that I am still considered young, but I can feel myself changing like a real Northeast Autumn.
I drove around Abilene last weekend in auto-pilot. Nothing seemed distant or far from me, but I realized the town is no longer my home. It is difficult to let go of community, to move forward with life and be glad about it; but Dr. Seuss is right to suggest that we choose to smile rather than pout.
So today I am traipsing around with a metaphorical broad faced grin. And still selling glass.
I can't wait to see this movie. I just started reading Donald Miller's book: Blue Like Jazz.
In the Christian world, I am about ten years late...but anyway, it is enlightening.
"The genius of the American System is not freedom; the genius of the American system is checks and balances. Nobody gets all the power. It is as if the founding fathers know, intrinsically, that the soul of man, unwatched, is perverse."
I saw this picture a few days ago and thought...I can do that! Easy.
First, I made a few of these...
while my fifteen year old sister filled balloons with air, at one point she said:
"Krisi, are you sure these wont pop in the hot wax?"
I ignored this statement and proceeded excitedly with my project, not bothering to read the instructions. I gathered all necessary supplies and 'patiently' waited for my recycled wax to boil. Grabbing a balloon I cautiously dipped the neon rubber into Harvest scented wax and within five seconds the hot air EXPLODED all over my mom's stainless steel kitchen, my face, hair and sweater. Oops.
My General Manager calls me the clicker, I move to fast and often make simple mistakes because I will not take the time to read over my work. I hate waiting, I am terrible at taking my time... it often results in splattered wax.
Last night I gathered up my day old hair and twisted it into a braid, starting at my crown and cascading down to the nape of my neck, it looked pretty good. I did it watching TV, no mirror or comb involved.
I love this picture. Capturing the light, focus and sparkle in her eyes all at the same time was practically a miracle. Especially since she spent the rest of the day in child-tantrum tears. The truth? I took this photo by accident.
In fact, I would go as far as to claim that practically nothing that turns out right in my life was done on purpose.
Crafting, cooking, painting, job profession, singing harmony, sewing, photography...all of it I attempt to conquer and always end up with a product different than my initial intentions. This is a funny truth to life I think, if it turned out the way I planned when I was sixteen, I would be married to a Baptist youth pastor with a baby on the way. Instead I am a single lady, braving the workforce and living with my parents; quite an unexpected accidental adventure.
I think this unexpected adventure is worth it for those moments of getting it right.
Feeding a baby
Giving a GOOD haircut
Getting caught laughing...
Getting caught planking.
Having a friend know you so well they tag you in this picture:
"If GOD gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers- most of which are never seen- don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What i'm trying to do here is get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all you everyday human concerns will be met."
This is a cold that stumbled into Abilene. It crept up on us with fingers clawing at our skin, pulling at the roots of my scalp.
It wraps its chilling fingers around my stiffened nose, tightened mouth, so stinging it causes teeth to ache
My ankles ill exposed soak in the icy wind with no gratitude
The cold squeezes out the sunny memory of a warmer day
Blinding clouds of dreary gray carry thick waves of icy wind that smother me.
Sunshine splashes across the cool spring pond
The pavement black, inhales the rays that joyously that melt into the ground
It smooths like creamy lotion over every colorful surface,
Kissing the skin with a slight and tempting pink
It coaxes the buds out of the tender soil, and twists buoyant leaves our of sleeping roots and twigs.
When the day starts without the sun, there is a certain excitement in the earth
They have been waiting patiently for the rolling and crackling clouds to carry them a gift
Every rose and lili dress in their brightest colors, trees stretch out their limbs to full extent with thirsty anticipation
Colors that hide in brighter light, let out their full ambers, lush greens, stunning auburns and all give their best performance for the creator
As the first drop falls to the mossy floors, insects and humans alike burrow deep under covers and back nooks to observe the glossy spread in a dry and content environment
The smells combine a sweet must with sugary blooms to create a tantalizing aroma
The kissing of drops on every surface is a gift from the heavens
Even the dirt smiles as it becomes mud cakes and chocolate puddles
For three months I have drug myself into car dealerships, smiling and quoting prices I knew nothing about. But the day has finally arrived, I was annoying enough, for long enough. And I had a bite. Three bites really.
Three windshields. That were bought and installed because of me. How cool is that?
The last four years of my life were spent daydreaming about how I could solve problems in the world, stand up for justice and speak on behalf of those who have no voice. I thought graduation would take me to remote parts of the world...it took me home.
I have no food for the hungry, but I have windshields. And you know what? This is only the beginning, I am learning persistence and determination, I am learning to be relatable in a culture far removed from my own. One full of cars, service drives and glossy business cards.
Here is where growing-up kicks off. And I know I am not alone, there are plenty of other boomerang kids out there making sales just like me. Congrats.
I remember two years ago sitting on my excellent back porch in Abilene lounging with friends, avoiding homework, housework, ect. I had made the semi-committed decision to embark on a classic college-graduate adventure, and backpack across Europe. So I tucked up my knees and turned to Brooke, proposing we make this a shared experience. I repeated this proposal to several of my friends over the next few months, they all had an initial response of excitement and anticipation which seemed to fizzle with the reality of the cost and time commitment.
As much as I talked about it, I never thought I would actually go.
So Saturday, October 10, 2010 was a day of complete unbelief as I signed into my Paypal account and booked the flight to Germany, eight months in advance. I had to seal the deal, with or without a friend because I didn't want to chicken out.
Everyone thought this was brave, to go alone without protection or camaraderie.
I thought this was panic.
I went and had an excellent experience. Read about the journey here.
One of my college roommates left for Europe a week ago with a friend and has been blogging about each mishap and tasty french pastry. As much as I loved my trip, I have a deep lament that I did it alone.
Laughing when lost is a luxury reserved only for those who travel with a friend.
I know that clinging to my regrets like a mothers skirt teaches me nothing. Having a friend to share my adventure would have been a spectacular treat, but pushing to communicate through tears and make friends with strangers taught me much more about my character.
Yesterday I was selling glass in Dallas and made the ignoramus decision to eat lunch at Smashburger, located in the heart of downtown next to the Federal Reserve Building. Little did I know there would be 300 amped-up protesters spewing chants that Micheal Scott summed up years ago: "Mo money, mo problems."
It was almost comical to see dozens of twenty-somethings who haven't showered in days sporting cameras that cost more than my paycheck, and tweeting each clever pun they reverberated.
But you know what?
I wanted to yell out the window of Mouse the Honda, "hey, way to go, i'm with you guys!" while at the same time I was tempted to belt "suck it up and sell glass like me!"
I am realizing more and more how this country needs both the consistency of conservatives and the active change of liberal ideology. Checks and balances right?
Who made it into history books? If the Boston Tea Party members strolled by me, I would have been in a buggy ducking my head, wishing I was brave enough to dump tea into the sea...while also mocking their silly costumes.
It is time we middle-class twenty-somethings developed our voice; mine is just a little hoarse right now.
It has been six months since my last session of class and I can hardly accept it; however, I cannot fully claim the life of a completely independent adult. Apparently Merriam-Webster has a definition for graduates like myself, we are known as the boomerang children: which is “young adults who returns to live at his or her family home especially for financial reasons.”
That's me. The Boomerang girl.
Yesterday, I was in Dallas visiting Car dealerships and Body Shops, presenting them with all kinds of smiles and free pens. Parking Mouse the Honda on golden bricks in a Mercedes dealership, wedged between shiny metal worth more than than my entire education seems rather comical. But none the less I marched up to the men in suits, sporting little earpieces you would see in the CIA and presented them with my glossy, 3x3 business card.
I rewarded myself with a stop at a Cupcake Boutique in Uptown to visit my friend Emily to reminisce about the good ol' days. We laughed about how life had brought us both to places that went completely awry from the original plan, but still seemed rich in experience and the inevitable character building.
Emily kept saying "I wish someone would have warned me about this stage of life." I thought about how I was lucky enough to have friends prepping me for the next twelve months and all of its woes...and yet I still feel unprepared.
I parallel my experience to climbing Longs Peak: no matter how many videos I watched or advice I received on how to have a successful trip, it was the actual feet-on-trail experience that taught me how to climb a mountain. Being apart of the "Boomerang" club is not ideal, but I sure am learning to climb.
On Saturday, my mom rallied two of her semi-willing daughters into helping with an all day cooking project. We slaved away in the kitchen for six hours, dicing, chopping, slicing and squeezing all kinds of ingredients into soups, casseroles and more. The smell of stewing meat and veggies warmed the kitchen and clung to my apron, the first day of October was greeted with baking chicken and Chile Verde.
Why you ask? Me sister-in-law is home from the hospital with her two little miracles. We are still praying for Bryce's pumping heart, praying that the defect might be minuscule and quick to heal. My mom wanted to make the transition as easy as possible for the new family, so we planned out their next ten meals.
Do you want to know the thoughts running through me head all day?
Man, I am an excellent servant.
Fast-forward twelve hours;. I was planning a bike ride to the Modern with a friend from church, and ready to relax and celebrate the sudden dive into brisk fall mornings. The house phone rang with an urgent pleading which my mother answered, I heard the dejected tone in her voice as she listened to my Grandmother asking for help after a night of "sick".
Without hesitation, my mom put on her gloves and moved to the door with my younger sister in-tow. I stood rooted to the floor, gazing after them in complete defiance, knowing there was nothing in my legs that would carry me towards the impending doom.
All I could think about was how selfish my heart is, I would cook all day reveling in my personal sacrifice and refuse to help my grandmother on grounds of a weak stomach. Picking and choosing our discomfort has no merit.
C.S. Lewis once wrote: “Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. … Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’"
I never knew I could love two little babies so much. Last night I held them both for equal quantities of time, gazing at their fluttery eye lids and perfect lips. Burritos. Wrapped in blankets and love.
So when the in-house doctor came to speak with the parents...alone, my mom got a little nervous. I thought nothing about it. What started as a heart murmur was re-diagnosed as a heart defect. Itty bitty Bryce has a heart defect. Walking out of the hospital, we were met with a whipping wind and the signs of a storm, inside the Baylor Medical Center, the storm had already begun to beat down on Stephanie, Nick and those little lives.
We gathered and prayed, it was a sight of beauty. Six sets of hands covering Bryce from soft round head to swaddled feet.
God and I have been weird lately. Who he is and what he is about has been the forefront of my questions. But last night I pleaded with Him, I boldly asked him to heal Bryce and shelter them all.
To stand like a brick wall against the penetrating wind and rain.
"Even the darkness is not dark to you." Psalm 139.
I remember scenes from Hook and Father of the Bride II when the Dad holds his son for the first time.
What beauty and absolute joy.
I have held babies, I have snuggled and kissed them.
But Bryce and Travis are my little nephews. The First.
Lots and lots of blonde hair, deep blue eyes and itsy bitsy red bodies.
Five pounds, four ounces. Five pounds, eight ounces.
Bryce Daniel and Travis Avery.
The birth of two little lives has astounded me. My connection to Nicks wife Stephanie and been tightened and sealed with a new level of sisterhood. I am an employee, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a niece, a cousin, anaunt.
THE OAK by Lord Tennyson
Live thy Life,
Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
Then; and then
All his leaves
Fall'n at length,
Look, he stands,
Trunk and bough
I wrote this Christmas of 2009: Last Saturday I went to a wedding of two friends and witnessed love sewn together simply and in sincerity.
Since I could spell I have been doodling the name of Jesus in the margins of bulletins and notebooks. Sometimes I would add a cross or a few swirls and hearts. I have always boldly claimed that any man I married must love God first. He would be romantic and spiritual like a twisted prince charming mixed with the fictional heroes Christian authors are creating.
But it was Saturday, listening to the vows that I was stunned with a new revelation. The pastor reminded both Brittany and Meguell that they would never be each others 'first love' and that the covenant they were entering was between three and not two. It made sense of course, Christ had to be the foundation or the point of the triangle; yet as the words came out of his mouth my heart protested.
I shocked myself with the honesty I masterfully repress when it contradicts my doctrine. All romantic tears which were welling quickly gasped and hid exclaiming the unjustness of this fact; Not my first love? I have to remind myself that I know all this, but why did it smack like my mom's chewing gum?
Knowing the answer doesn't always bring contentment, because awareness of the truth still leaves us with the decision to accept it.
In school, we are pumped with career options, and tips and tricks for landing the perfect job. One of the main phrases my professors would use was "everyone is in sales, because you have to learn to sell yourselves." Well I am here is to tell you that unless sales is in your title, you are NOT in sales.
Did you know that most service drives at car dealerships are walls of glass?
I cautiously park mouse the Honda between two shiny new Lexus', quite aware of the nervous looks from a receptionist beyond the tinted windows. Deep breaths and a free note pad carry me past the sign reading 'service' and into a long garage lined with glass doors, glass windows and men in snug oxford's or polo's branded with names like Larry, Kevin, George.
It reminds me of the game battleship, I can see the board but have no idea what awaits me in the water. The minute I open my mouth is the teller,
I receive one of the following looks:
1. Ugh...how do I get rid of her?
2. Free swag?! (Stuff We All Get)
3. Hmmm...a girl, she's young. Her name reminds me of Three's Company.
4. This business card looks like a coaster.
I receive one of the following answers:
1. Uh, we have been using our glass guy for 65 years.
2. We are looking for someone new, but let us call you.
3. Oh great! Sure! And go see my friend at Blahblah Body shop (Snicker behind the hand)!
I recently was told to remember the client is not rejecting me, but my product.
This is great advice...unfortunately, I have not yet mastered the separation of myself from my work.
Lesson learned: Selling glass is a lot like backpacking in Europe. Read why here.
Taking a hike is a glorious adventure. Driving to work on a Monday is not.
Three weeks ago I started up 'Mouse' the Honda and rumbled off towards the three lane mess-o-traffic when I made a conscious decision, I said "Krisi, today is going to be the best day of your life."
Not Possible. I was in traffic. On a Monday. Going to work. Not New Zealand or Ireland or Boston in the Fall.
You know what? It was not the best day of my life, not by scale of all the days of all time. But it was better. When I quit complaining, I saw all the good life being lived around me.
1. Not being the only woman in the office. (There are only two of us.)
2. Learning a lot about glass. A lot.
3. Cooking meals under the wisdom of a seasoned chef and mother.
4. Discovering that my nine-year old sister turned 15. FIFTEEN.
5. Learning how to walk into a car dealership for the eighth time in one day and not speed away out of fear of rejection. And learning how to beat the snivels with a Sonic hot dog when the ninth car dealership does reject me. Check out where I work here.
The twenty-five mile commute to work everyday can become quite wearisome.
I have a little advice for those like myself who can no longer rely on their one-speed cruiser for transportation:
1. Get a library card and start an audio book list.
Do not rely on the generosity of librarians to provide you with listening material WITHOUT your card. I repeat, they may make you cry, or slink out humiliated for not having the proper identification.
2. If you are lucky enough to live near a reliable train, use it! I would trade in all of these hours idling guiltily in traffic for a good book in a smelly train car. Emissions decrease and brain grows. Perfect.
3. Find your local public radio, NPR has some fabulous interviews, and they have incredible taste in music.
4. Drink an Americano. I grab a cup at Starbucks that is five minutes from work. It is my reward for patience in traffic.
5. Don't be 'that guy' on the road who cuts everyone off and acts like there is a woman giving birth in his backseat. You know who you are.
Three months ago I was ushered into the adult work force. I was also added to the ranks of recent graduates who cannot afford to live independently, fortunately I have gracious parents who willingly handed back over a set of keys. Moving home was difficult for several reasons:
I crave independence...
Some of us leave our parents nest rather reluctantly, others are forced out, I closed my eyes and lept with grand expectations. For four years in Abilene, I succeeded in gathering up friends and community who encouraged and challenged me to grow; Sunday meals and late night chats with a glass of wine became anticipated events. Evaluating the faith I claimed was an accepted process and shared with my peers. Thinking on my own and making decisions effecting only me was a daily routine.
Living with family means cooking cannot be exclusive, driving anywhere must be announced, politics, theology and philosophy will be questioned and challenged by my elders, leaving my bed unmade becomes offensive, ect. I am learning how giving up my tiny freedoms as an individual can exemplify sacrifice and prepare me to face every day life with a renewed humility.
Responsibility for more than ME can be exhausting, but richly rewarding.
"Seek welfare of the city where I have sent you...".