Excuse me, sir; where would you like for me to put this bitterness?

If I can’t stop feeling anger toward that person, than surely that makes me a bad person. And yet, I just can’t quite get past my resentment…

Dealing with bitterness is tricky business. I have been enormously fortunate that I have only a few instances and persons in my life that truly irk and stir me up inside. I don’t think about them often. In fact, most days should I be asked point blank, I would say I have forgiven them. But in the rare occasion that I am face to face with them, my forgiveness confidence begins to wane.

This happened recently to me. I was watching a movie with Scott – just chilling at home one evening – when a friend sent me a picture of someone that caused a great deal of pain in my past. I hadn’t seen that person for almost a decade and boom, there they were in high definition on my uber-clear iPhone 7+. My friend ran into him at an event and sneeked a picture to send me. She didn’t do it out of maliciousness but she knows my curiosity is as intense as her own. In an instance, I was sucked back in time. The unfairness of it all! The great discouragement and intense disappointment. I was suddenly there. In an instant and with a wave of bitterness as strong as the initial, first-wave impact.

My instinct was to grab myself around the throat and chastise myself for not being over it yet, a reaction that was initially very confusing. As the smoke began to clear and settle in my mind, I let myself off the hook long enough to remember that it isn’t healthy to tell yourself you must be grateful and upbeat and oh-my-word-over-it-already. I gave myself a moment to realize there are parts of that story that will never be resolved. We are allowed to feel badly about things that are perfectly legitimate to feel badly about.

A few days later, while still in this mind space of wondering about bitterness and how best to deal with it, I received the news alert on my phone that Otto Warmbier had died. You know the story… A year ago Otto was traveling with a group of students to North Korea when he decided to take home a propaganda poster that was hanging in the hotel hallway. Now first of all – this is TOTALLY something I would do. I would! I am a memorabilia addict. I love collecting things from here and there. So I get it. In North Korea, however, Warmbier was immediately detained, arrested and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. The facts beyond that are a bit sketchy but sometime within this past year, he fell into a comatose state of not really knowing where he was or have the ability to communicate. A week ago they released him back to America and yesterday he died.

Bitterness. I immediately wondered how his parents were supposed to deal with that massive level of resentment and bitterness and angry rage toward an unjust government that treated their son so immensely unfairly.

This brought me back around to my own dealings with bitterness – albeit not at the level they had to deal with. And that’s the thing… We compare our struggles. I recently did something to my knee and it’s been a pain in the rear ever since. It takes me a second to stand up on it with any strength. However my mind reminds me of the people who lost limbs at the Boston Marathon Bombing. UGH! So let’s agree, firstly, to not compare our bitternesses and struggles, okay? Let’s not assign levels of trauma to our individual pains.

But I’m still left with the question of what do I do with this messy, unresolved issue? There are a handful of them in my life that I simply don’t have a nice tidy bow I can wrap them up in and call it The End.

“Ironically”…isn’t it always the way?!…I am currently reading Anne Lamott’s latest book, Hallelujah Anyway. The main theme of the book is mercy. She describes mercy simply as radical kindness. My initial reaction to that was to roll my eyes and assign it with a teenage-angst, ‘Whatever!’ Is she going to tell me to forgive and forget? Is she going to tell me to treat those that have wronged me with an inordinate amount of kindness? Cause I’m not sure I can really do that in all cases. No. I’m certain I cannot. And yet I know that psychologically we are the ones who suffer the most when we hang on to bitterness and anger. We are the ones that end up tied to chains and living a very tight and clenched up life.

So excuse me sir; where would you like for me to put this bitterness??!

Lamott suggests that when you are lost in your own gerbil-wheel mind and your thoughts are spinning out of control with anger and worry, that is the time when you do the simple, basal things. You give up your seat on the bus. You tell a stranger how cute their shoes are. Lamott always suggests flirting with old people. Scott and I were recently in a grocery market looking for salsa. We passed a 20-something girl holding a bag of chips while reading the back label. She would look at the bag and then at the other bags in front of her. Finally Scott leaned in and said, “You will LOVE those! They are SO good.” She snapped out of her little bubble of concentration and smiled. “Really??”, she asked. I added the fact that you can even convince yourself they are healthier than regular ol’ potato chips since they’re air popped. She laughed, having made up her mind. “Then I’ll buy two bags!” as she reached for the cheese flavor that Scott suggested and happily moved on down the aisle.

All the air around us shifted. She was happy to have received some first-hand knowledge and we felt good about offering our advice that helped her make a final decision. All of it was done with a light and fun undertone. It wasn’t a life-changing moment, but it did offer an endorphin boost and we all were breathing deeper from it.

Perhaps for people like myself – those people that aren’t quick to skim over the whole thing and move on – maybe it’s best that we show radical kindness to others first. Certainly to ourselves first of all. I would wager that most all situations of bitterness involve many layers and degrees of hurt. The trick is to sort through those layers to determine which ones are in your power to change. Often times, there is within the bitterness a degree of shame for ourselves. Why did I not see what was happening sooner? Why did I allow that person to talk to me that way? Why didn’t I do this or why did I say that? Those are layers we can work on. Those layers need the soothing nature of mercy to be extend to them in heaping doses. Inevitably, once those self-flagellation issues have been worked through, there will still remain parts of the situation that are out of our control. So what do we do with those?

I imagine the Japanese internment camps or Syrian refugee camps where large groups of ousted people are thrown together in close quarters. Food and water is of utmost concern. Protection from the elements. Safety from the oppressor. But also, the need to support and encourage one another also emerges. Adults telling stories to the scared children. Women helping each other carry water and men lending a helping hand to other families. I believe that is where I can lay my bitterness. Not at the feet of the one who I feel has gravely hurt and wronged me but by re-channeling it into helping others with their bitterness. When I can help you work through an issue, I am simultaneously and unknowingly rubbing salve on my own. We are a common pool of humanity with issues as numbered as there are people. A collective show of mercy and love and forgiveness is stronger than the bitterness we each individually endure separately. We are to honor our brokenness. Not cover it up and act like the chipped pieces of ourselves don’t exist. But to approach each other, chipped and worn, helping each other to figure out Our Stuff.

You remember the crazy Seinfeld episode of George and the marble rye? I love marble rye bread! I recently read that contrary to popular belief it is not a marbled mixture of rye and pumpernickel bread but instead, a mixture of two different types of rye. Either way – I’m a fan. You and me and them – we are marbled together into one loaf of humanity. We are in this thing together. So if you are having trouble letting go of that one time when… and I am having trouble letting go of that one time when… then refocusing our energies into something completely different may be the answer. It won’t solve the injustice we felt. But it will help smooth out the jagged edges of it. Instead of desperately trying to find the perfect ribbon to wrap it all up in and call it Done, perhaps letting it sit up there on the top shelf of the closet is okay. It’s dusty up there. The oxygen level is almost nil. It won’t be pretty and we won’t parade it out to our house guests, but we don’t have to dwell on it either. Or fix it. Or do anything with it. We can also stop reprimanding ourselves because we haven’t bathed it in radical kindness. Let’s just leave it there. On the top, dusty shelf in the closet and actively pursue the everyday moments when we can help someone pick out cheesy puffcorn and make an old person feel young again. One day we’ll sell the house and The Thing will be pushed so far back on the shelf we’ll not see it and move on without it.

It might not happen tomorrow. But in the meantime, let’s listen a little closer to our internment camp neighbors. They need our help. And we, desperately need to give it…

This Was Where I Began…

Perhaps I was so surprised because I didn’t know I was in the general vicinity until I was right up on it. As soon as I saw the large rock wall, I had a deja vu feeling of the first church I attended as a child. A few feet more and I realized that it was, indeed, Grace Church of the Nazarene.

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The scene before me, however, did not match my memories. I drove further past the property then turned around and pulled into the parking lot. I sat there, taking it all in. An empty parking lot, except me and a homeless man in a baseball hat that undoubtedly didn’t know I was nearby. Or more accurately, simply didn’t care.

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The big stone-built reception hall was almost entirely gone. It looked like the carcass of an animal, long ago devoured and left for vultures to scavenge. The memories rushed in without permission or forewarning.

I remember a particular time when the congregation gathered in the large reception hall for church, sitting in folding chairs…although the reason we were there instead of the church building across the parking lot, I cannot remember. I was sitting to the right of my father – I might have been in first or second grade at most. As the choir director was leading us in song, my father’s large index finger was showing me how to read the mystical verse-then-chorus-then-back-up-to-verse-again rhythm of hymnal reading.

I remember the potlucks or afterglows or all-church socials…whatever hip title they had at the time for group dinners…where glorious food of all kinds were laid out on table after table as women busied themselves to keep the tables filled with sides and casseroles and always, always, there was cake. Delicious cake. The reception hall was equated with joyous celebrations in my mind’s memory.

I most vividly remember the incident with my younger sister and a kind, older gentlemen of the church: dear Bill Hawk. He was faithful to the service of the church, often serving as the greeting usher. At one particular after-church social in the large stone reception hall, Bill greeted and chatted happily with the parishioners of the church – children playing and running free as the background soundtrack to the event. My sister, probably around 3 years old, was leaning too near the grand, heavy doors that welcomed everyone inside. Her small fingers slipped inside the door jam just as Bill (who was standing outside) shut the door after wishing an exiting family a good week. Not able to get the door to close properly, he pushed harder, not hearing the screaming cries of a young girl whose fingers were literally flattening under his pressure. For the rest of his life he apologized and agonized over that event, Bill being the last person on earth to ever hurt a child.

As I looked around the parking lot and church grounds where I freely played as a small child – under the careful, peripheral-vision of my parents – I remember being a bit enamored with the ‘bad boy’ of the church, Eric. He was older than me and seemed to have complete control of anything he wanted. I should have known then that my propensity toward bad boys would be an ongoing draw.

I remember Phil Troutman, a teenager when I was in primary school, who always sat with his hands clasped behind his neck and blocked a large portion of our view of the pulpit where we sat, just a few pews behind. I remember the older Schnetzer kids, dressed like the 60’s teenagers they were, standing with the rest of the teen group, hands raised as they sang We Are One in The Bond of Love, swaying in unison – a scene that could just as easily have been a part of a Haight-Ashbury love fest as it was playing out in the first few rows of a conservative church from the Wesleyan tradition.

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I always have a strange feeling of doom or if not doom, an aura of mystery when I remember the multi-colored cast that fell over the sanctuary during the evening service as the sun shown through the deeply colored diamond-shaped windows along the side of the building. I’m sure some beautification committee felt they were wonderfully mid-century and would add a festive hue to our worship. But for a small child, it always brought up unexplained scary feelings for me.

This was the church that celebrated my parents as they came back to Kansas City as a young newlywed couple. Grace Church threw them a wedding shower and a few years later, a baby shower to welcome me into the fold. Within a few days of being born, I was being proudly shown off during church services and soon after, dedicated to the Lord. This was where I began my faith journey and here I was 50+ years later looking at the skeletal ruins of what was once so vibrant and bustling with life.

It was a sad scene to absorb on an early weekday morning. I was simply driving around, looking at the neighborhoods that branched out from our new home. To unexpectedly see this childhood memory was surprising and a bit overwhelming. In my mind’s eye I could see the people that once inhabited this thriving church. I could smell the smells and hear the loud conversations and intoxicating singing.

And just as quickly as the rock wall rose up in my path and the feelings of dread washed over me, a new thought entered my mind: Grace still stands. The homeless man shifted his weight a little as he leaned against one of the remaining walls of the hall and I turned to see a sign: Kayros Iglesia Del Nazareno. This was still being used as a church. A gathering spot. A community of believers. Grace still stands! The colored windows were gone, one window missing a pane altogether. The reception hall was completely unusable. But the purpose of the church building was still very much intact.

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It didn’t take me long to imagine the lives of those that have passed through this church. A glance back at my own fifty years shows definite signs of wear and some scars too deep to be reused. My world has included immense happiness that includes two amazing children. It has included love and horror and tears. There have been good years and there have been sad moments. And yet, grace still stands. The Father that protected my sister’s hands from permanent damage is the same Protector who led hand-clasped-behind-his-neck, Phil Troutman into a lifetime of missions work in Mozambique. My father attended this church at a young age with his family and at the age of 18 he stepped in as the church organist. My entire life my father has been our church organist (at 3 other churches) and it wasn’t until a few years ago at 78 years old that he gave up that title. Grace still stands.

Many of our childhood memories can be pulled out, polished up and seem to be in pristine condition. We compare our messy now to the spit-shined then and wonder what happened. What went wrong. But if we take a closer look we can see the divine thread of protection and redirection and compassion that God has weaved through our story. The times when we deserved harsh retribution but instead found inexplicable love. The moments when we look back and shake our heads, wondering how it is that we are still alive to tell the harrowing story. Those moments, my friends, are moments of grace. Undeserved merit. Times when God has undoubtedly wanted to wring our necks but instead decided, ‘I love them too much to let this lesson end here. I’ll let them work through this on their own while watching, in peripheral fashion, to make sure they don’t get too far.’

Grace still stands.

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Rubble and debris and broken windows cannot stop its permeable warmth. Outer conditions do not dictate the grace that resides within.

Don’t get too discouraged when looking at the broken parts of your life. Think, instead, of the times you have risen when you thought it impossible to walk. Think of the dark times when you cried in shame but found undeserved mercy at the end of the night. Grace still stands. Free and accessible and unending.

Grace still stands.

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#roomformanchester

The hashtag #roomformanchester sprang up shortly after the horrific explosion this week at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester England. The point of the hashtag was to signal that your home was open for strangers should they need a place to stay while looking for lost loved ones.

The news has been overwhelming at times. Young, innocent, excited pre-teens and their parents had just finished watching a concert they would remember for a lifetime when suddenly, their lifetimes seemed much shorter than their years would suggest. An ocean away, I have cried numerous times with the world as we collectively watched innocence explode right along with the devastating, dirty bomb.

And yet that hashtag has lingered in my mind. Room for Manchester. Our truest goodness tends to rise quickly in the wake of such tragedy. This particular hashtag had a tinge of conviction for me. I thought of the many ‘hashtags’ I should embrace in life…

#roomforforgiveness
#roomforselflove
#roomfornewbeginnings
#roomforempathy

Room for stepping out of my comfort zone and into the uncomfortable mess of another’s pain.

‘Room for…’ implies selflessness and an element of danger, as most personal growth does. Manchester residents opened their homes to strangers. Taxi drivers gave free rides to those desperate to find answers. Hotels took in children who couldn’t find their parents.

Manchester made room for those in need. I have to wonder where in my life I need to break down routine and comfort and – using what I already have – make room for others in need…even when that occasionally includes my own needy mind that needs room for encouragement and space.

Can we embrace that hashtag for a bit longer? Can we all make room for bigger, better, scarier, and ultimately an expanding of our hearts for others? Thank you, Manchester, for leading the way. Surely we can learn from their kind, quick and gracious spirits.

Room for……what do you need to make room for?

It’s keeping me sane(ish)

Most days around here are spent boxing up our belongings. I try to do the lion’s share of the work on this end because I’m kind of useless on moving day. So the biggest part of my contribution is the before and after. The downsizing part of this particular move has added the additional responsibility of making sure I love everything that goes in a box. Have I used this in the last year? Will I be using it in the next 3-6 months? Can it be replaced at a later date? And the most important question of all…one a co-worker taught me years ago: If you were going to use it, would you know where to find it? The answer to that last question is usually a no. I like everything to be within my vision, otherwise I forget I even have it.

As of April 3, we have 25 more days before the move. In some ways, that seems like way too short of a time period. In other moments, however, it seems an eternity.

So how do I keep sane within the confines of chaos?

I started keeping a sketching journal shortly before we found out about our move. I’m not faithful about doing it daily, and I’m okay with that. Each morning I wake up, grab my chai tea and land on the floor with the cat. I pull out my book and sketch a little about the previous day – highlights I want to remember.

The idea for the journal came exclusively from Samantha Dion Baker. I have been silently admiring her work for about a year now. Man oh man!, her journals. Each page is a work of delicate art. Her sketches are so unique to her and easily recognizable.

Something I have learned about myself over the years is that I learn a new technique best by imitating something I admire. Some might want to yell, “Hey!, that’s copying!” To which I would reply, “Yes. Exactly.” It is how – in the very very beginning – I learned to scrapbook. There were scrapbookers I really admired so I copied their work until eventually my own style emerged. I have encouraged students who have taken my classes over the years to do the same. For the most part, the techniques you admire in others are the ones that you will most likely gravitate to yourself. It’s within you – the artists you admire can help draw that out of you.

I am hoping that’s the case with Samantha’s work. I have always wanted to learn how to sketch – I love that type of art. And I love watercolor but have never taken any classes to learn how to properly do it. Instead, I have used the UNLIMITED resources online to imitate until my own style begins to set up like Jell-O.

I wrote to Samantha to see what she thought. I told her I wanted to share my progress with my blog readers but would give her COMPLETE credit for the inspiration. She readily agreed and said she was glad to be of inspiration. (A sure sign of a confident artist that isn’t hoarding their talent but eagerly helping others along the way.) I am literally looking at things within her own journals and transferring them as best as I can into my own journal. I’m already starting to see patterns emerging in the way in which I see things. I have a looooonnnnnggggggggggg way to go, but I am completely enjoying the process. It is a way to get completely lost for an hour, concentrating hard and thinking only of the page in front of me. The perfect escape from the boxes and packing tape all around, just out of my periphery.

Because things are so crazy and hectic right now in our lives, some days I only get a pencil sketch down before having to move on. Other pages have the ink drawn in, but no color yet. Sometimes I use colored pencils to add color, other times, Copic markers. I have yet to step into watercolor but mostly because it requires more space and that’s something I have in very small amounts nowadays.

I will occasionally share some pages with you. But for now, here is my very humble beginnings. I have tried to wait for a sunny day to take pictures, but if you live around Kansas City, you know it’s been so dreary and rainy lately, I might have to wait six more months for a sunny day!

 

 

I can’t tell you how much this is keeping me sane.
Well, Ish.

That was cute of me. 

I believe the last thing I said was, “…and I’ll blog about this move along the way.”

I was insane.

Currently my desk is completely covered with plants from all over the house so that I can still get to them to water them and they can still get sun, but I needed their regular spaces around the house for piles of boxes. Getting to my computer to do a complete blog is simply an impossible dream at this point. 

But I did want to check in a second and say hey.

Moving reminds me a lot of pregnancy. You know, the pregnancies I had 29 and 26 years ago that everyone said I would forget the childbirth process as time went by. I haven’t forgotten. It also reminds me of the long flight I took from the middle of the United States to South Africa. After a few hours all rational thoughts go out the window and all you can think is, “I’m finished. Right now. I mean it! I need to be done with this. Pull this plane over this very minute and let me off.

That’s about where I am with this move. And I still have a month to go.

I don’t know if it makes me a superficial person, or if it’s pretty common among all people, but I need a calm, pretty environment. I don’t live well with clutter. I told Scott the other night that my body actually hurts from walking and stopping and pivoting and turning and maneuvering my way around piles of boxes all over the house all day long. 

Yes, I’m grateful.
Yes, I’m excited for the move.
But still, yes, I’m discontented and impatient with the process.

We are learning to keep our sense of humor. And to be very patient and understanding with each other. Both of us have mentioned to each other that we are we bit control freaky and not always very nice when it comes to the moving process. Maybe in admitting this to each other before hand, we can find the space for forgiveness when the aggravated times inevitably will come. Scott and I are both firstborns. Every book will tell you that two  firstborns should never marry. I mostly disagree with them, since Scott and I seem to get a lot done together. We are a pretty good powerhouse team. But in times like these, when there are too many details and too many plans and too many contingency things that could go wrong, we both step firmly into our firstborn rolls. After seven years of marriage, we are learning when to step back and let the other lead. And that seems to be half the battle. Well that and I respect the hell out of the man. 

The biggest thing I’m keeping in mind, is that we have had rainy overcast and dreary days here in KC for weeks and weeks on end it seems. I recently heard somebody say that they are ‘solar-powered’. I loved that description! It fits me to a tee. And without any sun lately, my battery is running low.

And while I’m at it, can I just tell you that I have some of the most fantastic friends in the world. Seriously, you may think yours are great, but I think mine are the awesomest!! 

I received this text from my friend Vicky the other day. I have known Vicky since third grade, and she knows how much I don’t like rainy days.

There’s nothing quite like a well-placed text to really turn a mood around. It wasn’t what she said, of course, but rather that she remembered something about me and reached out to do something about it. I really wish I could remember that with other people. A connection can happen with such a small, free, simple act of kindness.
So now I’m back to the boxes and the smell of magic marker and the tape that just won’t stick.  But also back to making decisions about the things I have been blessed to co-exist with for awhile, trying to determine whether or not our journey together is finished and it’s time for someone else to love it – or if our time together is just not quite done yet. 

Moving would be a lot easier if I didn’t humanize everything in my life! 

The adventure continues –

g

and not 24 hours later…

A little backstory:

My husband, Scott, has worked with Union Pacific railroad for 26 years. He has some fascinating stories of his time on the railroad. One of my personal favorites is on 9/11 when he was in lock-down at the main dispatching station in Omaha, Nebraska, listening to the tv say all planes had been grounded but looking outside in the sky as Air Force One brought the president to the underground bunker in Nebraska (dude!) He has been a train conductor, a manager, an instructor and as of October of last year, he has been managing a yard in Atchison, Kansas/St. Joseph, Missouri. He drives an hour and half to work and an hour and a half back home. The commute is ‘doable’, but not ideal. That was the reason for our moving further north. We didn’t want to leave the Kansas City area but needed to be further north and near a highway for Scott to pop on quickly. Our move to the River Market would cut a half hour off his trip – gaining him one full hour a day. We’ll take it.

Scott had some days off so we were going to dedicate four days to looking for something in the downtown/city market area of the city. And then I got sick. I battled the flu for the first two days so it wasn’t until the third day that we could start our search. Centropolis, the building we ultimately decided on, was our first tour. Of course they say you shouldn’t ever pick the first place you see, but when the first place you see makes your heart sing, what need is there to look further?! We told the realtor we loved it and begun the application process.

Not 24 hours later we received a phonecall from Scott’s boss. He apologized for calling Scott on his day off but he knew we were going to be looking for houses and wanted to give Scott a bit of news…

But first, another backstory. Or is it a sidestory?


There is a segment of the railroad commonly called the Tie Gangs. (Sounds like they’re Brooks Brothers bandits, doesn’t it?!) There is a VERY large, multi-million dollar machine – which I’m sure has an official name but I don’t know what it is – that travels the country laying cement railroad ties, replacing the old wooden railroad ties you’re probably more familiar with. When it comes to an area of the country, it is usually there for a number of months laying track in that area. Railroaders bid to get these jobs. They travel from all over the country to work on these Tie Gangs. A number of years ago Scott worked one of the Tie Gangs as the conductor of the train that carried the cement ties. They moved a few inches at a time while the Big Machine picked up the ties and laid them on the track. It’s actually pretty fascinating to watch!

But back to my story…are you still with me?

Scott is on the phone with his boss, Curtis. Curtis told Scott he knew he planned on looking at housing but said NOT to look in St. Joseph or Atchison because the big, BIG boss of the region had called Curtis to say The Big Machine was coming through Kansas City this summer and he wanted Scott to run the entire operation in Kansas City for the duration of the summer and fall. WHAT?!

To recap: We move downtown to be closer to Scott’s St. Joe/Atchison work and Scott ends up working in downtown Kansas City. CRAZY!

It is a real honor for Scott to be given this responsibility. The head of the region nominated Scott specifically, based on his experience and knowledge of the railroad (he really is a Railroad Savant!) The thing about Scott is that he is a communication hound. He’s liked by everyone (no bias or overstatement here…ask anyone. Our friends just put up with me, but truly love Scott) 😉 and he is very easy to work with. He will be the perfect person for the job!

So just like that, the entire landscape of our lives has drastically changed all within a 24 hour period of time.

As Scott was telling me about his day yesterday (the Tie Gang’s first day on the job) he said it was impressive to see all the people gathered together under a big spotlight, early in the morning. The Gang foreman gathered everyone around for a job briefing then they all bowed their heads for prayer. “Be with us, Lord, and keep us safe. Be with our families back home while we’re away. Help us to watch out for our brothers out here in the field…” Scott said it was a moving scene. These guys are doing a pretty dangerous job and know that they need to start with a plea for God’s protection.

So no stress here! Major downsize. Big move. New job. Extra responsibilities.

As for me and Scott, the best thing we can do is to stop, gather under the lights in the early morning, and commit this season to prayer…

Adventures Ahead

It is with more excitement than trepidation (but a very healthy dosage of both) to announce that Scott and I will be moving in May. It has always been our dream to live in the River Market area of Kansas City, so we have finally decided to take the big plunge. Our nervousness (…okay, MY nervousness…) and what has held us back from making the move before, is the sacrifice of space. But it seems like it’s the right time to reduce and pare down. ‘Downsizing’ is such a popular term right now, but a much more difficult concept to execute. I’d like to take you along on the journey as we make this move – greatly reducing our living area, but at the same time exponentially expanding our ‘backyard’ quality of life.

Small living for a big life.


Many of you have heard me talk about my-best-friend-who-doesn’t-know-me-yet, Anne Lamott. The first book I read of hers, Traveling Mercies, was when I first fell in love with her old soul. She talked about her sobriety, her childhood, dating woes and how she eventually stumbled into a faith community. I read most of that book sitting under my favorite tree at Loose Park, going through a rather dark valley of my own. Some days I would go down to the City Market just to walk around and be lost in a crowd of ‘regular’ people.

Anne wrote:

‘…this is where I liked to be when I was hung over or coming down off a cocaine binge, here in the dust with all these dusty people, all this liveliness and clutter and color.’


That’s what the City Market has always been to me. A beautiful mix of everything. Dusty people. Not people striving to be perfect but people covered in life. That’s who I have always identified with the most. The City Market is where I think Christ would choose to walk around. It is where God’s creativity is most gloriously evident.

So at the end of April we are moving to a much (MUCH!) smaller place but at 5th and Grand (and why I recently changed my Instagram to @ourlifeisgrand.) Our backyard will be spices and Dutch flowers and Vietnamese markets and homemade salsa. We will reap the harvest of organic farming, without having to do all the work.

We envision running out in the early mornings for coffee, being in mid-recipe and realizing we are out of a certain spice only to walk down the street to the old spice man to pick up our needed supply. We will jump on the streetcar that stops at our corner and ride through our beloved city at a moments notice. We will insist that friends who come down to the city market to shop on the weekends, stop by and say hello by just buzzing us on the intercom just outside our building. As you can probably tell, we are beyond ecstatic for this new adventure.


I will be blogging and Instagramming the experience. Come join us as two suburban-raised, middle-aged, hippie-hearted adults take on the dusty magic of city-living life.

Come see us soon,

g