It Hurts Like a Billy-Oh

30 08 2011

This post is very personal.  It’s a bit more personal than I’m comfortable with, but I think that I should share it anyway because people want to know what this whole experience is like, not just the good parts.  Right?

This week was rough.  We’re talkin’ curl-up-in-the-fetal-position-cry-myself-to-sleep rough.

I was lonely.  Not the kind of lonely that made me want to go home.  Not the kind of lonely borne out of self-pity.  It was an entirely new kind of lonely.  It was isolation.  Yes, I have friends here.  Yes, I live with people who speak English.  Yes, I can call home whenever I want.

But I was still lonely.

Have you ever had an experience of loss (a break-up, death, end of a friendship, etc.) ?  Do you remember how it felt like something was literally ripping open your chest?  That’s what this felt like, except without the loss.

I emailed by pastor back home asking him to pray with me and for me.  I told him that I needed an English-speaking friend that was fully, 100% fluent that I could have an easy conversation with (perhaps even a thoughtful, deep conversation) or I was going to have a meltdown.  In typical Chris Green fashion, he encouraged me to embrace the isolation, to lean into God, and to not resent the process.

I’m trying. It’s not easy.  And I’m fairly certain I have some more time in this lonliness before I get the friend I so desperately want…if I get the friend.

Upon reflecting on this time, I was reminded of the book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis (part of The Chronicles of Narnia).  In the story, there is a character named Eustace.  Lewis writes, “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

He is not very likeable and he doesn’t try to be.  He resents the fact that he is in Narnia and that he is stuck on the ship, “The Dawn Treader,” against his will.  The crew lands on an island where a dragon lives. Eustace, in attempt to avoid work,  stumbles upon the dragon only to discover that it is dying.  He decides to tell everyone that he killed the dragon.

Now, as we all know, dragons are hoarders of treasure.

With the dragon dead, Eustace finds that he is surrounded by all sorts of gold and diamonds and jewels.  He finds a golden bracelet and puts it as high on his arm as he can so that it won’t come off.  Then he falls asleep.  When he wakes, he discovers that he has turned into a dragon overnight.  This discovery of his dragoned self humbles Eustace and he seeks to make amends with the crew for his behaviour, but that’s difficult since he’s a dragon that can’t talk. It seems that he is set to be a dragon forever now.

But then comes this beautiful scene. Aslan comes to Eustace and tells him to unrobe.  Eustace tries to remove the dragon skin several times, but each time he finds that he is just as much a dragon as he was before.  Finally, Aslan helps him.  The way to remove the dragon skin is deep, painful clawing into the flesh.

This is how Eustace describes it:

“Then the lion said – but I don’t know if it spoke – You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep and I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

“And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on – and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again.”

All that to say: If I need to be undragoned, so be it.  It hurts like a billy-oh, but it is necessary.  I cannot undragon myself.  If this is part of the process, I welcome it.  I don’t want to be a dragon anymore.





Oh, how things change.

9 06 2011

It’s weird to think about how things have changed in my life in the last year. And how happy I am that they have, even though I fought the process every step of the way.  Let’s go back to 2010.

January 2010 was the first time I ever met my brother, sister (in-law), nieces, and nephew.  It seems strange that it hasn’t even been 2 years since we made contact.  It is like we didn’t miss out on anything.  They are my family and I’m constantly amazed at how unforced the developing of our relationships have been.  God really did know the timing for us to meet. 

Then in February I started dating this guy (for the sake of this blog, let’s call him Monty).  Monty and I had a long distance relationship and it had its ups and downs, but, overall, it was a great experience for me.  I don’t regret dating him and I look back on our time together with fondness.  Monty is a good man.  But our lives were going in different directions.  He has a daughter and what’s best for her trumped what’s best for “us” any day of the week – and rightfully so.  I could never ask him to choose between us.  Finishing my education is non-negotiable.  And that could take me anywhere.  One of us would have had to give up on something  that is very important to us – and we both felt like that was only going to breed resentment if we tried to continue our relationship.  So we ended it, on good terms.   I don’t talk to Monty much anymore.  He’s seeing someone else now and they seem very happy together.  And I’m moving to South America – something that couldn’t have happened if we had stayed together.

In August, my youngest nephew was born.  Landon Rhone 🙂  Oh, how I love that baby.  I was totally shocked when my sister said she was pregnant, but this precious little boy has definitely brought us closer as sisters.  I do hope I get to see him before I move since I’ll be in South America on his first birthday.  I guess I’ll just have to get him something awesome from Colombia as a gift.

In October, I was unemployed for a month.  That was actually not that scary.  My bills were all paid and I saw people being generous with me all the time.  Unemployment, though seemingly scary, ended up being a time of prosperity and encouragement for me.  I’m so glad I went through that.

Last November, I had to move. I was living in a townhouse owned by some friends of mine.  I had told them when I moved in that if they ever found a buyer to just sell the place.  The sold it in November.  So, I moved to the highlands – where I currently reside. 

Since my unemployment and my move, my budget has been getting steadily more restrictive.  I have felt like every time I pay a bill, I was using borrowed money.  I have felt trapped by my financial obligations and I have been praying for months for a way out of them.  I didn’t expect it to be Colombia as the answer, but I’ll take it 🙂

Then, sometime in the fall, we found out my oldest neice was pregnant.  She was very young – very.  It was world shattering at the time.  I had no idea how to respond.  I remember adamantly refusing to call it a “mistake.”  I never want to think of my precious little Addilynn coming into this world as a mistake.  She was a surprise, for sure, but no mistake.  Our family had a hard time adjusting to this new development, and an even harder time learning how to respond to it.  But, despite Kendra’s age, she’s handled this parenting thing like a pro.  Addilynn is the best thing to happen to our family in a long time.  If she’s not one way that God intends to restore and heal my family from the things that try to destroy us, then I don’t know what is.  She is redemption. Period.

she is fat, also.

And through all of that, there was the thesis.  That nagging little assignment that was the difference between a degree or wasted energy.  I was convinced that God had good things in store for me when I finished.  Not because he was holding out on me, but because the thesis writing process was making me who I needed to be to receive the good things.  I was right.

A lot of other stuff took place last year, a lot of really painful things, a lot of really great things, a lot of really personal things that are just none of your business. 

When 2010 was over, I was ready for 2011.  I ended 2010 exhausted, broke, and very unhappy.  After the break up with Monty, the moving out, and the budget crisis, I felt hopeless and faithless.  Good thing my faithfulness has nothing to do with God’s faithfulness to me.  I remember talking to my pastor Chris and telling him I thought that my faith in breaking it off with Monty, quitting my job, and moving to a new place was going to be rewarded with a season of good things.  I was so mad at God for me being in a worse financial situation than before, by being alone, and by not giving me a job in a school like I had prayed for.  I was so sick of 2010 by the end of it! 

The first couple of months of 2011 didn’t really start out much better.  My budget didn’t change, my anxiety of doing it “alone” only increased, and I was still working insurance – not teaching, which is the dream. Where were my good things?  I’m glad I didn’t know then what I know now. 

I had to learn to trust others with my money.  I had to learn that living alone and being single does not mean I’m living this life “alone.”  I had to finish my thesis.  I had to learn the value of my family.  I had to recognize the things God has called me to and be willing to pursue them no matter the cost (i.e. ending things with Monty).  I had to learn to live on very little, trusting that God will provide for my needs – and trusting that if it’s not provided, it’s not a need. 

In short, I had to grow up.  Yes, there is a lot more growing to do.  But I am convinced that those lessons must be learned the hard way – only this time in Colombia.  Hopefully, I won’t fight them as much this time.  Hopefully, I will trust that God is in control even when I don’t understand the way it’s happening.

So, I’m moving to Colombia.  I’m excited, terrified, nervous, exhausted, happy, sad, and invigorated all at once.  It’s a weird place to be in.

Until next time…





I was wrong…

15 04 2011

Well, baby Jack did not arrive yesterday as I anticipated and confidently boasted for several months.  I have to admit that I was wrong.  While I’m at it, I figured I would admit to some other things I got wrong.

I once thought it was a good idea to grab a curling iron by the barrel to fake assault my step-dad.  I was wrong.  the curling iron was on.

I once thought I could pull off a successful garage sale.  One bad sunburn and $15 later, I had to admit, I was wrong.

I thought the movie Changing Lanes would be good.  I was wrong.

I used to think my nose was huge.  I was wrong.

One time I got a really bad sunburn.  I tried everything to bring the burn and the swelling down.  Someone told me to put banana peels on my legs.  So I did, thinking it would help.  I was wrong.

Last week I thought I could pull an all-nighter.  I was wrong.

I thought, “I’m the exception. Starbucks won’t suck the life out of me.”   I was wrong.

I thought that Tooth Fairy would be a shoe-in for best picture this year.  I was wrong.

I once thought Charlie Sheen was losing.  I was wrong.

There you have it: I was wrong. 

Today in History:

1967: Anti-war protests held in New York and San Francisco.

Massive parades to protest Vietnam policy are held in New York and San Francisco. In New York, police estimated that 100,000 to 125,000 people listened to speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr., Floyd McKissick, Stokely Carmichael and Dr. Benjamin Spock. Prior to the march, nearly 200 draft cards were burned by youths in Central Park. In San Francisco, black nationalists led a march, but most of the 20,000 marchers were white.  (all this info was pulled from here).

The 60s may be my favorite decade.

Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter V for Viviana.  A special shout out just for you!





more lists. I really REALLY like lists.

12 04 2011

Duh! Whining!

I think I have the beginnings of a sinus infection again.  This would be the second one for the year.  Awesome.  NOT!  My nose burns, I have one tooth that has become overly sensitive to cold in the last three days, a cough that won’t stop, and a pounding headache caused by said cough.  I’m a tad bit miserable and I feel like whining.  So I will.  I really want to be resting, but I can’t.  I have to work and I have to write a paper. I think the stress of the paper is the instigator of all my health problems right now.  boo.

30 Day Push Goal Challenge:

On Sunday, I had to rewrite my 10 goals for the year.  I decided I would share with you.  I didn’t look back at last weeks so this is all fresh from my head:

1. pay off credit card
2. apply for PhD
3. successful VBS for Divine Life
4. $500 in savings/emergency fund
5. send out resume to schools so I can teach
6. buy a bed
7. visit my dad in Phoenix
8. improve my Mary Kay sales
9. lose the weight!
10. Save up $300 for Christmas

I love goals.  They make me happy, especially when I knock them off the list because they are complete!!

Top Ten Lists:

Because I love lists, I have two more to share with you:

Top 10 cities in US that I must visit:

1. NYC – check!  went in Dec 09
2. Boston – check! went in July 09
3. D.C.
4. Miami
5. Vegas – went once as a kid, would like to go as an adult
6. Orlando
7. San Diego
8. Los Angeles
9. Seattle
10. San Francisco

Top 10 Non-US places to visit:

1. Ireland
2. Russia
3. Greece
4. Egypt
5. Italy
6. New Zealand
7. Australia
8. France
9. Germany
10. Spain

I love to travel.  I need to travel!

Today in History:

1633: Galileo is convicted of heresy

Anyone want to guess his heresy?????  Heliocentrism.

Galileo believed the earth revolved around the sun. What a wingnut!  The church, under Pope Urban VIII, believed that it was scriptural fact that the earth was the center of the universe.  Galileo was condemned, his book of Dialogues was prohibited, and he spent the rest of his life under house arrest.  Around 300 years later, the church cleared his name – turns out, he was right!

click here for more details.

Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter J – for baby Jack.  GET HERE ALREADY!!!





An Excerpt from The Book of the Dunn Cow

27 01 2009

This is from the chapter “Chauntecleer’s prayer is met by one thing, John Wesley’s rage by another.” its lengthy but beautiful.

“You, God,” Chauntecleer finally said; but his iron body did not move. His muscles were taut wire. Had someone touched him at that moment, he would have spun and murdered him.

“You, God, promise-then break promises,” he said. “You give. You warm me to your gift. You cause love to go out of me to your gift-and then you kill me. You kill my gift.

“I did not want this land. I would just as soon have traveled my way, taken what came to me by chance and left the rest. I would just as soon have gone a-mucking through this world of yours unnoticed, untouched by-your-righteous-hand. Then i may been empty, but not bereft; I didn’t know what blessing you had it in you to offer. Then i may have been alone, but not lonely. I didn’t know what love you could ordain. You, God! You took me out of my life! You set me into this false place. You made me believe you. You gave me hope! O my God, you taught me to hope! And then you killed me.”

Chauntecleer trembled where he stood. He closed his eyes against the darkness to control the trembling-not because he thought his words were wicked; simply because he did not want to tremble before God.

“If I had never had sons, how could I lose sons? If I had never ruled a land, how could I fear to lose the land? It is in giving that treachery begins. If I had never loved these animals, which the almighty God put into my keeping, I would not die thinking that they might die.

“But by your will I am where I am. By your will things are what they are. Now by my will I demand to hear it from your own mouth: Where are my sons? Why is Pertelote weeping underneath me in the Coop? And what am I to say to her? Bear them, bless them, watch them; then ball them into tiny balls and stuff them in the earth! I’ll tell her. She’ll be comforted. I’ll tell her of the will of God.”

Chauntecleer drove hot air deep into his lungs. He roared: “And by my will I demand to know now-it is most certainly time now to know: O God, where are you? Why have you hidden your face from us? Why now, of all times, when things are on the rim of disaster, have you turned away? Nine months! I have not seen the stars for nine months! In nine months we have not seen a single passing of the sun, and the moon is only a memory. Faith, right? By faith I should believe that the spheres still turn above these everlasting clouds. Tell me! Tell me! Infinite God, tell me what we have done to be shut from the rest of the universe! But you won’t tell me. You’ve dropped us in a bucket and let us be. It wears a person out, you know. Yeah, well.”

Then the Rooster did move. His head sank between his shoulders. His wings drooped. He broke into tears. “My sons, my sons,” he wept. “Why didn’t God let me die instead of you?”

Chautecleer sobbed several moments together. Then he spoke in another voice, without raising his head.

“Aye. He wills that I work his work in this place. Indeed. I am left behind to labor. Right.

“And one day he may show his face beneath his damnable clouds to tell me what that work might be; what’s worth so many tears; what’s so important in his sight that it needs to be done this way…

“O my sons!” Chautecleer suddenly wailed at the top of his lungs, a light flaring before it goes out: “How much I want you with me!”

The dark land everywhere held still, as if on purpose before such a ringing, echoing cry. The dark sky said nothing. The Rooster, with not an effort to save himself, sagged, rolled down the roof, slipped over the edge of the Coop, and fell heavily to the ground. Wind and sobs together were knocked out of him; he lay dazed.

And then it was that the Dun Cow came to him.

She put her soft nose against him, to nudge him into a more peaceful position. Gently she arranged his head so that he might clearly see her. Her sweet breath went into his nostrils, and he assumed that he woke up; but he didn’t move. The Dun Cow took a single step back from the Rooster, then, and looked at him.

Horns strangely dangerous on one so soft stood wide away and sharp from either side of her head.

Her eyes were liquid with compassion-deep, deep, as the earth is deep. Her brow knew his suffering and knew, besides that, worlds more. But the goodness was that, though this wide brow knew so much, yet it bent over his pain alone and creased with it.

Chauntecleer watched his own desolation appear in the brown eyes of the Cow, then sink so deeply into them that she shuddered. Her eyes pooled as she looked at him. The tears rose and spilled over. And then she was weeping even as he had wept a few minutes ago-except without the anger. Strangely, Chauntacleer felt an urge to comfort her; but at this moment he was no Lord, and the initiative was not in him. A simple creature only, he watched-felt-the miracle take place. Nothing changed: The clouds would not be removed, nor his sons returned, nor his knowledge plenished. But there was this. His grief had become her grief, his sorrow her own. And though he grieved not one bit less for that, yet his heart made room for her, for her will and wisdom, and he bore the sorrow better.

The Dun Cow lay down next to the Rooster and spent the rest of the night with him. She never spoke a word, and Chauntecleer did not sleep. But for a little while they were together.

At dawn Chauntecleer crowed lauds; and then he went alone into his Coop.