The Things We Take Off At The Front Door.

My favorite chapter in Tina Fey's BossyPants is the chapter called "What Turning Forty Means to Me."  It says,

“I need to take my pants off as soon as I get home. I didn’t used to have to do that. But now I do.”

That's the whole chapter. 

This is great news because I already have to take my pants off as soon as I get home, so forty has nothing on me. I'm invincible to forty. 

But pants aren't the only things we take off at the front door, are they? We are always shucking things off there. I contend that we shed our very skins.  

In the summer we shed things that are wet and grassy: drippy bathing suits, damp towels, sweaty socks, grass stained shorts, shirts sticky with watermelon juice.

In the spring we shed things that are wet and muddy: rain jackets, sloppy boots, gardening gloves.

In the winter we shed things that are wet and snowy. We unzip and step out of our outer shells. We strip off layers of coats, hats, shirts, scarves, leggings, socks, and soggy mittens.  We peel them off like we're husking corn.

We don’t shed anything in the fall because fall is perfect.

When we get home from work we kick off the heels, peel off the pantyhose, unbutton the jeans. We take down our hair, cast aside the briefcase. We unclasp the bra, pull it out of a sleeve and toss it across the room.

And it's at the front door that we take off all of our defenses.  Home is where the masks come off.

We take off the “Everything is great!” mask.
The “I’m an organized parent!” mask. 
The “We’re so happily married!” mask.
We take off the "American-dream, I-can-do-it-all-myself-if-I-just-work-hard-enough" mask.

We peel off our skin, exhale, and become who we are.  Not what we do, or how our kids behave, or how we introduce ourselves at parties – who we ARE.

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We always undress when we come home.  Pantyhose and pretense: they both come off at the front door.

I wasn't sure this post had a point. I thought that maybe it was just an observation. But after I thought about it for a minute it came to me. The application is this: please, please, please don't forget to strip. Take off the masks, take off the pretense. Take off the blame pantyhose. Because if, when you walk in your front door, you can't peel off the layers of defense and pretense, you'll never really be home. 


Separated

Every time things pipe down around here, it’s because there is something consuming going on that I’m not ready to share with the internet yet. In this space, I share my thoughts and observations about the world. It follows, then, that when my world is permeated by a thing I can’t share, there is radio silence.

When I have a baby, that baby gets my thoughts, observations, and my world.
When I write a book, that book gets my thoughts, observations, and my world.

And the events of the last year have gotten all of my thoughts - all of my world.

One year ago today, I got, as our dear sister Glennon Melton calls it, ‘The News.’  She calls it “The News no spouse ever thinks they are going to get, even though so many of us do.”  It was Black Friday, aptly named.

I stayed.  

During the last year in therapy I received more News. Then more News. Then more News. Then more News.

It became clear to me that the things that needed to take place in order to reconcile our marriage were not going to happen.  So Dan and I are separated. In fact, we have been for a while now; the divorce will be final in less than a year.

Much prayer, much therapy, and much counsel have led me to this point.  I have every human emotion every day: sadness, anger, fear – so much fear. Relief, gratitude, hope. Loneliness, joy – even peace.

All of them are fleeting, scuttling in and out of the chambers of my heart like a bunch of wily hamsters that I can’t control. 

My people have carried me in ways that you would not believe. I am excited to share that part with you – the part about how we carry each other. 

I will continue to write about the world, and now that this is a part of my world, it's probably going to make a cameo in a post or two.  It was time for you to know.

Please hold this news gently. 

And before you comment, please remember that this is the Internet: the place where words live forever. 

I will never stop being grateful for this space and this community of readers. I really, really love you.

Kate

Music is a Heart Language

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When I was in high school, I heard a song called, “Clear the Stage.”

It was gorgeous. It was intense, poetic, and convicting, and I loved it. But I also misapplied it.

Instead of hearing “Christ is greater than,” I heard, “Lights, decorations, and great music are distractions.”

I began to feel guilty for loving a good stage set. I started to wonder if I really loved God or if I just loved music. I started to believe that appreciating graphic design and smooth stage transitions meant I was loving the experience over the Creator, and that I had to push those things aside in order to worship Jesus more purely.

Fear and shame caused me to twist a call to authenticity into a denouncement of anything that was beautiful besides Jesus. I was on track for a confusing, shame-filled, puritanical few years.

Mercifully, there was an artist that attended my church at the time. He had loved both Jesus and art for a lot of years, and one evening I heard him say: “Maybe the beauty isn’t a distraction from worship. Maybe God made it beautiful so that you could worship.”

Well, yes.

I believe that beauty is God’s signature. Or maybe more like His fingerprint - He leaves it on everything He touches.  I believe that beauty points to God, and that things are beautiful so that I can worship.

I love good music, good design, a good stage set, and logistics. I would even say that those things enhance my worship experience - and that there's nothing idolatrous about that.

I've recently begun to think of music like a language.

When you’re in a foreign country, even if you’ve been there for decades and you’re as fluent as fluent can be, when you hear somebody on the subway speaking your first language – your heart language – your ears perk up. You want to turn to them and say, “Me too!”

That’s why it’s so beautiful (and important) to see the Bible translated into the heart languages of people that don’t yet have access to it. Because you can hear the stories in a language that you know, but when you hear the gospel in YOUR language, your heart language, the words carry a little more weight. You feel them pressing in on you differently. Like they don’t have to filter through your mind first, they get fast-tracked to your heart. 

I think that music is similarly intimate. Music knits itself to our experiences and it can transport us back to places and people with the force of tidal waves. This has happened to you: you hear a song and it slams you.

We have a heart language and we have heart music.

When I was in a church that was different from the church I grew up in, I still loved Jesus. I still learned things, I still worshipped with sincerity, I still served. I still had lots of joy. But when I stepped back into a church like the church of my childhood, I couldn’t help from crying, because it was like hearing somebody speak my heart language.

It felt like the setting in which I learned to love Jesus. It was exactly like the first time I heard the gospel, and the first time I raised my hands in worship. Everything about that place reckoned back to the early, formative years of my faith. To be in that kind of building, in that kind of atmosphere, hearing those kinds of songs was like hearing my heart language after a long season in a foreign country.

I try not to be critical of other styles of church: different music, or seating, or orders of service, or communion protocol. I also try not to be critical of people that have a very strong preference about those things. I try to remember that they may just be clinging to their heart language.

Hear me: I believe that the gospel is paramount. I believe that it comes before heart-music (or style or language) every time, by a million miles. I believe that we must be willing to leave our country, to learn a new language. If you are clinging to your heart language at the cost of allowing others to hear the good news in THEIRS, you are choosing your comfort over their rescue, and you’ve got to let it go. Reaching people comes first.

But I am not a Puritan. Greater suffering and greater boredom does not necessarily mean greater holiness. I believe that God made things beautiful so that we could worship. Right now, I am a part of a church that is speaking my heart language, both linguistically and musically, and I love it.

What is your musical heart language - in church or otherwise? What album feels like hearing your native tongue for the first time in a long time? 

A Podcast, A Yogi, and a Concert Walk Into a Bar...

A podcast, a yogi, and a concert walk into a bar...

...and by a bar, I mean my life.  Not that my life is like a bar...nevermind.  What I'm saying is this is what is going on around here.

1. I recorded a podcast with Jamie Ivey, who is exactly as much fun as she seems. 

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We discuss:

  • Harry Potter (because to thine own self be true)
  • Netflix (because you are not above a Netflix bender)
  • Joining the national bone marrow registry (and selling our blood plasma for the free childcare #momlife)
  • Thoughts on turning 30
  • Books every millennial that grew up in church has read (shout out to Adventures in Odyssey!)
  • Our own evolving theology
  • Other things

If you've been imagining that I have a southern accent because I write things like "my children acted like they HAD NO RAISING," and "Holy May," you can hear what my actual voice sounds like.  Oh and I'm giving away 10 books to podcast listeners, so there's that.  What I'm saying is listen to it. (Here!)

2. I contributed 4 new meditations to Yoga Bird this month to be a part of a 28-day fitness calendar.  The calendar is great (meatless recipes every week, a variety of yoga sequences, and a week-long focus on each of: satisfaction, bravery, love, and balance), but what I really want to tell you is that these devotions are some of my favorite I've written.  I wrote them all in one evening, so there was no research or waiting or collecting ideas.  I just wrote what I knew to be true of God TODAY.  This batch is my thoughts and hopes of the last few weeks all poured out on paper.  If you have a subscription to Yoga Bird, you can listen to them here

3. Ben Rector is coming to Raleigh and I am going with my friend, Cindy, to hear all the music and feel all the feelings.  If you do not know Ben Rector, I am very sorry for you.  I first heard his Free Falling cover 5 years ago and then we feel in love.  (Okay I fell in love.  Details.)  His "Into The Morning" and "The Walking In Between" albums are two that I can listen to the whole way through without skipping or losing interest. Will any of you local dears be there too?  

If not, I'll throw you this bone.

What are you all up to this week?  If you've found something you love around the web, or created something you're really proud of, I'd love to see it in the comments!  Lay it on me. 

 

The Same Thing Happens Every Night

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The same thing happens every night:

At dinner time, I stare blankly into my refrigerator and hate my life. The baby, sensing my frustration, practices empathy. He toddles over, drapes his body over my feet, places his forehead to the ground as if in prayer, and screams for 35 minutes.  This perfectly reflects the posture of my soul at dinner time: despair and agony in sackcloth and ashes. Henry is an emotionally intelligent child.

I decide to make the kids something fast. Oatmeal.  I slice up some fruit and give each child a little pile of almonds to trick them into thinking that this is, in fact, A DINNER.  See?  There are sides.  It's a meal.  

Sam wants 2 ice cubes in his oatmeal because it is too hot. The ice cubes melt and he accuses me of giving him ice-cube-less oatmeal.  I put another ice cube in his bowl. Now it is too cold. And too runny. He needs it heated. With more brown sugar.  And two more ice cubes...

Madeline is pissed because three weeks ago I mentioned I MIGHT make shepherd’s pie again ONE DAY and how is she supposed to feel safe in the world when I keep breaking these kinds of SACRED PROMISES?

Henry wants to drink the oatmeal from his bowl, and accidentally empties the chunky, starchy, slime down his shirt, into his lap, onto his chair, and onto the floor.  Then he panics because THERE IS SOMETHING TOUCHING HIM!

Sam nibbles one bite of every almond and is full.

Madeline eats as fast as a snail on barbiturates, and cries when you leave her at the table.

I say, “IT IS TIME TO GO UPSTAIRS.” 

I say, “No, we cannot paint/go to the park/watch a movie/ride bikes/plan your retirement.”

I get the children in bed.

I put the children BACK in their beds.

I deliver cups of water, band-aids, straighten sheets, take off socks, put socks back on, turn on the hall light, turn off the hall light, straighten the sheets again, more water, Sam has to pee, no he cannot have a chocolate chip as a reward, because it’s too late that’s why, and bid them goodnight.

I clean up Henry’s oatmeal waterfall.  

I realize that it is 10:00 at night and I have not eaten anything since that PB&J I had at 11:30am.  I tell myself, “No, self.  You absolutely cannot make little smoked sausages wrapped up in crescent rolls at 10:00 at night.”  

I eat a package of peanut butter crackers that I SWORE I would only use for school lunches.  This is no time for principles.  

And that is why you should send your mothers flowers on Mother’s Day.   Because your mother did THAT every night for years.  

Mom, I love you.  Thank you for loving me in spite of myself.