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WOKE!

6/15/14, taken by Vanessa Kruse Photography

“I woke up at the moment when the miracle occurred, I get so many things I don’t deserve…”
– Bono, The Miracle of Joey Ramone
 
It’s no secret I’m a huge U2 fan. Their music has impacted and influenced every season of my life.
 
This morning I woke up before 5am CST. The lyrics above were the first things that came to mind, and I gave Thanks.
 
Four years ago I was in Mountain Time Zone on this day, and it was around *right now that my Mom’s presence left her physical dwelling and continued on into eternity. I had just drifted off, having pulled 2 all-nighters in a row, but something stirred me and I simply knew.

 There’s a 100% chance our earthly bodies will all come to a close. We all “die.” But what percent chance will we fully LIVE? What percent chance will we wake up and realize each day, every moment, is a miracle, and if we’re breathing in it, we’re meant to be part of it, bringing love and life to it?

[Read more…]

“I Love Her More…”

free photo courtesy: pixabay user/emrahozaras

free photo courtesy: pixabay user/emrahozaras

 

I can’t sleep.

I’m not sure if it’s the hormone expressions of a 46 year old woman, the fact that I had to use the bathroom, a text from a friend in the middle of the night asking for prayer, or the fact that my 7 year old son has been sleeping with me for the last week and periodically throughout the night I get a heel in my side or an elbow to the face. We call him a sleeping octopus.

Either way, I just had one of those “Love You Forever,” moments and so now I have been awake since 3:54am.

Parenting isn’t easy.

[Read more…]

Growing Up With Bobby and Bebe: A Series

Agree to Disagree

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When my parents moved to Colorado 6 years ago, they drove in from Phoenix and walked in my front door into the kitchen where I was standing at the sink. I heard in my heart (when God tells me something, it’s something smarter than I could have thought of…), “They are here for the rest of their lives and your job is simply to love them, not try to change them.”

I think I literally glanced up at the ceiling trying to get eye contact with God, as well as position my ear better to hear the response to my rebuttal, “Even my Dad?!”   [Read more…]

I Had a Dream

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Right before waking up this morning, I dreamt a friend and I were standing in the middle of a four-lane road with cars flying by in either direction. We were discussing the vital importance of practicing the act of writing for 20 minutes everyday, no matter what…

And then I woke up

Prior to waking up and prior to standing in the middle of the road, where I was, incidentally, holding a vintage typewriter under one arm, I had been at a beautiful gathering of writers and journalists who were sitting at tables together, sharing and listening. [Read more…]

Speak: Contemplation

Speak love. Speak it with, and without, words.

Speak love. Speak it with, and without, words.

I’ve been contemplating many things for quite some time and the more I keep it in, I feel I may implode.

Why have I held these things in rather than go with my usual mode of verbally processing my thoughts to whomever may be in the room or on the other end of the phone? To be fair, my husband would attest to me processing these with him over the years, and each time he reminds me, “Adrienne, THIS is the content of your book. Write it. Write it down. People need to hear.” I love him and need him to say this to me, especially since writing it down is part of the equation: In order NOT to implode I must write these things down and get on with living.

So, again, why have I shared these thoughts I ponder day in and day out with only a few?

Open confession: I’ve feared segments of Christendom. [Read more…]

Practicing His Presence: The Effects of the Wind

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Woolly sheep resting in a pasture under a bent pine atop Auckland, NZ. (photo: #loneviajera)

Right now all I can hear is a wind from the north raging and whistling the sweet tiny lake cabin where we are presently staying. I’m kind of surprised my youngest hasn’t run down and jumped into bed with me yet from the ruckus…a sign he really is exhausted playing as hard as a 5 year old does. The elements have a way of carving, forming, shaping, anything that’s in its path. I’ve stood cliff side at the ocean’s edge, dared the railing at the Grand Canyon, sat above the tree line atop the Andes as the sun beat down and the winds and height made it clear no life could live at the peak too long. And we wonder, wonder why all the suffering, why all the pain and erosion? We raise our fists to the sky, maybe to the God some don’t even believe in, but whose fault it surely is for all the agony, and no answers come, at least not ones some may care to hear. It’s amazing houses withstand northeasters, but more miraculous is the beating a tree may take day after day after day. And it’s a variety of trees, too, not just those rooted down deeply. On the shores of warm beaches spanning the globe, shallow rooted palms sustain gale force winds regularly. And some days they don’t. Some storms are weathered by all sorts of trees with all sorts of root systems on any given day. And then, one day, whether it was a storm or just the specific day and time established, it was the one, the one where the uprooting determined the final number of rings to be counted. Therefore I don’t wonder. Well, I do if we think of the word wonder in a way that conjures up awe and continued pursuit and a life of curiosity, but not “wonder” in a despairing way, because we are all only here as long as we are here. Only alive hearts feel the stretch, ache, and deep pain of being bent low in the path of the screaming wind. But the elasticity with which we are made, the brilliance and endurance with which we were created, resurrects us to our original design, rising tall, again, on our firm foundation.

(*This morning I only had 10 minutes to write, so often I just don’t because it doesn’t seem like enough time to finish a thought. But I followed the cheering and advice of my writer friends and put my butt in the chair (I stayed in bed and pulled the laptop in…) and sat with my eyes closed and my fingers on the keyboard, and this is what came of it. There are links to other posts I’ve written like this if you follow the tag: Practicing His Presence.)

Who is Invited to the Table?

A year ago when we sold our house and stuff and embarked on this journey as The Graveswolds, God put two words on my heart: GATHER and TABLE. I said, “Really, Lord!? You are teaching us about hospitality, but we don’t even have a house OR A TABLE?!”

And He said, “You don’t need those to experience hospitality. Wherever you go, gather around tables with friends and strangers and break bread. Share your hearts and listen to those gathered. Do this often. This is Kingdom Come. This is the work of peacemaking.”

I’m sorry I haven’t spoken up sooner, at least not in my writings or a more formal venue. I honestly thought my voice and heart didn’t matter on a scale other than loving others and practicing peacemaking in the day to day.

I’ve rethought that a bit…and my voice and heart matter big time, just as much as yours!

I’ve grappled with these feelings, and a deep down knowing, for likely my whole life. The last several years they have resurrected, and too many “coincidences” and gut feelings have “fallen into place.” When I was a kid growing up in Arizona, there were reminders everyday, but since life seemed peaceable, I wasn’t sure what to do with how I felt or the things I wondered. It just was what it was and life kept going…my life kept going, at least.

Specifically, these feelings resurfaced when I found myself in Auckland, New Zealand and Australia, last year on holiday, and again, just a few weeks ago. I walked the streets freely, my accent the only thing distinguishing me from the locals at first glance, and that, only if I used my voice. I sat stunned on a park bench one day, overlooking the bustle, watching the swells of people, diverse, colorful and living, thinking of tensions around the world and back home on American soil. And I can’t say it any other way as I thought,

“Holy shit! Some Europeans just went all over the whole freaking world and started ‘discovering’ other places to live, in spite of whoever lived there first…”

Not only that, they swung by Africa and other countries and continents to do a little “shopping” on their way there, for a “workforce” to make their dreams come true. What the what?! #$%^&*?

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A bumper sticker on the back of a car we saw while recently in Australia.

As a kid, celebrating Thanksgiving and learning about the earlier days of the “discovery of the New World” and the founding of the United States, my young heart wrestled with some key, un-ignorable logistics.

Wait…people were already here, so really, did Columbus ‘discover’ a New World?”

I remember a commercial with a Native American chief atop his beautiful horse, overlooking pollution, a tear streaming down his cheek, and my guts hurt. Every single day of high school, and then some, I drove across an Indian “Reservation,” past government-issued housing, to get from my custom home to classes and activities. I pondered, too, the very real possibility that maybe some of my German blood could have been traced to the brutally hateful side of things in the world wars, but hoped they had sheltered or helped, and seen the deception, instead of the devastating alternative. I wondered if any of my earlier Stateside relatives had befriended Natives or rallied for or against slavery in America’s history, or civil rights, which crowd they followed, or if they blazed trails of healing instead. I hoped distant relatives had loved well as much as it depended on them…

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Me, circa 1977, leaning against our house that was an old hunting lodge my parents remodeled, along the banks of the Maumee River in Ohio.

 

I am a vanilla white, mixed breed American girl, born and raised in the United States. From word of mouth, as well as DNA testing, my bloodline includes: German, French, Swiss, English, Irish, Scottish, early Egyptian Jew, and 2.67% caveman… (“23andme” is an interesting way to learn about genetics from a medical standpoint, as well as an historical one). These things don’t define me, but they are part of who I am today, no matter how far removed I am from them.

My family moved to Arizona in 1978 to be closer to relatives. Had my family personally removed the Natives from the Phoenix metro in order to move there? No. We didn’t. We simply moved into the neighborhood, just as we had on the riverbanks of Ohio where we found exquisite Native tools and arrowheads, and, as an adult, I’m aware of this now, mindful of this, conscious of the fragmented reality that my freedom to move about wherever I want, to vacation to the ends of the earth, to drive and fly here and there, have come at a cost.

I’m a peacemaker. Why were there battles in the first place? And if someone “won”, that means others lost, and I don’t really think we have “enemies” since our battle is not with flesh and blood, soooooo, what does that really entail? What happens to the “losers?” Is there a better way to do all this? Is anyone actually speaking to each other or are WE all just pulling weapons on one another, pointing fingers, erecting walls, or corralling people into segregated groups, heaping label after label after stereotypical label on each other?

One thing I know…we have hurt one another. WE. There is no “us” or “them” but WE. And WE belong to each other. WE are a family of humans who cannot choose the members. WE ARE FAMILY. But this God-breathed human family is hurting. We may not have family trees to point a finger at who the bad relatives were versus the good ones, but the human family has a common trunk in the Tree of Life and the breath of God, and somewhere in the Garden WE began distinguishing, deciding, and judging between each other rather than belonging to each other.

I’m from a mixed bag of a lot of history…none of us knows all the specifics on how our blood has been woven into this world’s pain. I know I’m not a racist, nor do I have ill will towards anyone, but the reality is, not knowing what to do about the broken system doesn’t bring healing if I don’t do anything at all. If I’m going to be completely honest with you and myself, I can hope and wish and pray all I want that my ancestors were trailblazers of peace, but here I am today, comfortable in society in 2015 while heartache abounds on every side, so there’s been a breakdown somewhere along the line.

It’s not a matter of pointing fingers…we all have logs in our own eyes. WE have ALL hurt someone at some point, just as WE have all been hurt. Instead, it’s simply saying, “I am sorry. And I forgive you. I’m responsible for my life and actions and how I see and treat others. Help me understand…will you please tell me your story?”

I think TODAY is as good a day as any to start trailblazing peace and love. It starts with US…you and me. WE must stop waiting on systems to clean up the messes of our ancestors, no matter the color of our skin or our dark histories. Our SOULS run deeper than systems. We each must take responsibility for loving others well. Our present state of being is not without context.

The quote at Hemingway's in Manly Bay, Australia, the night I met a friend for dinner.

The quote at Hemingway’s in Manly Bay, Australia, the night I met a friend for dinner.

Have you ever heard the statement, “Can’t we all just get along?” Some people don’t believe it’s possible, but WHAT IF we tried? “Getting along” doesn’t mean everyone is best friends or believes the same things or even shares all the same interests, but it does imply seeking the good of all people, as long as it depends on each of us. At a table, we are compelled to sit with others and look into another persons’ eyes, to really SEE them and HEAR them and seek to KNOW them.

In this beautiful, bustling, broken, and hectic world, I believe there’s been a breakdown in making peace over time. We are naive to believe ALL the Native Americans and ALL the Pilgrims sat around that first Thanksgiving table…or that just because the lunch counters didn’t have dividers anymore that all the white guys saddled up next to the black guys for biscuits and gravy…or that within our own families, certain relatives were ever even on the guest list. Perhaps mealtime got interrupted, was hurried, or became all about the food and not about who was gathered there to share stories and break bread?

I’m a simple girl…idealistic, but unabashedly hopeful. As long as it depends on me, God has given me a glimpse of my life’s work and it’s to live and breathe peacemaking, everyday. I don’t know all the details of how it will work or look, but Someone modeled Love for me many years ago and it looked a lot like gathering around tables, breaking bread, and sharing stories.

 

Maybe the basic act of breaking bread together again
is where everyday peacemaking must begin?”

Moses Wasn’t Worried About His Prostate…

…and other life concerns.

 

So, I’ve been thinking about Moses’ prostate, mostly, how it’s never really mentioned or addressed in scripture. And I was thinking about how aspects of media, social media, the internet, news, and television, have created a sense of “awareness” and even “community,” yet, at the same time, it’s so much awareness and connectedness, so much information, about everywhere and everyone, it borders overwhelming and spread too thin, raising the question, “What can I do?”

It’s SO much to take in, vast and expansive…so many exquisite stories, 7 billion approximately, and all hold beauty and tragedy, life and death, every one pertinent, worthy, valuable. Behind every story, way deep down, is a soul, hand-crafted and God-designed, we aren’t just stories on the news. While 7 billion individuals seems like a lot, seen as a whole, it’s just one…all part of one family, made up of many parts. (The part about how we can’t choose our family members is another post…)

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So, then I was thinking about how big a task Moses had in leading the Israelites out of Egypt, so he kind of needed to be focused on the thing at hand. See, at the time Moses was carrying out the task of leading the enslaved Israelites out of Egypt, he wasn’t scrolling Twitter or Facebook or World News, seeing all the other incredibly important causes or events around his country or on the other continents, or tweets about non-things like red cup outrage, or checking his calendar to make sure he was making his bi-annual prostate check-ups.

He just did the thing…the thing he was called to do.

Same with Joan of Arc, I mean, she changed the future and course of France from when she was 13 until she died at the stake at the age of 19, so hadn’t even qualified for a mammogram yet and likely hadn’t even had a PAP test…she wasn’t watching World News, distraught by the plights of peoples world wide, or even so crippled by the entirety of the war ravaging her country, but she just did the thing, right there, where she lived, within her community, and this little old 13 year old rocked history, unaware of the totality of it.

Then I was imagining all the amazing women I know and don’t know all over the world and picturing them with huge love in their hearts and God’s assurance of grace and might over their lives, and my heart swelled…

OH, the impact!

OH, the beauty!

OH, the power when women simply say, “Yes” and “Let’s do this…” and the ripple effects…oh, the ripple effects!

OH, the lasting effects of collaboration and focusing on THE THING! A THING! ONE THING!

These could be men, or boys, or girls, no matter the age, background, credentials, or training…but either way, seriously…the impact!

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And then I look at my phone, email, social media or have a doctor’s appointment about a lump, or think about water in other countries or stories of women, or glance at our family calendar, or remember I need to pack for an upcoming trip or send a note to a loved one or pray for 7 friends with cancer or friends fighting for their marriages or for adoptions or try to remember if today is a no-carb day or a free day or if I actually should fast or plan a date night to always stay engaged rather than “just married”…and there are so many real things that matter. So many. And all important.

…then I look in the mirror and see myself, alone with only my head and heart and hands, and get overwhelmed because the worst thing happens…paralysis…loss of feeling, action, direction, purpose. I have no illusions I’m Moses or Jesus or Santa or all the amazing women all over the world, so then I wonder what my point is, how I can make any sort of impact or difference in the world…like, why am I here and what is the point of me and there’s just so much pain to heal…

See, our battle isn’t against flesh and blood. The red cup thing that wasn’t really a thing, was actually, INDEED, a thing, because the truth is, it was a petty opportunity to distract HUMANS from THE THING of loving EACH OTHER, no matter what we believe. It was an attempt to get us pointing fingers instead of turning our palms up and offering a hand, reaching for one another. It was symbolic of all the things that can easily divert us from loving well, in spite of our messes. Until we stop delineating between who is more deserving of our rallying, our generosity, our listening ears, empathetic open arms, but mostly, God’s unconditional love, we are still missing it. Do I really believe every single one of the Israelites that Moses led out of slavery was nice and always behaving or someone I’d agree with on every issue? There’s no way, just like “God so loved the world that He sent His Son…” wasn’t just for the ones on their best behavior.

I don’t claim to have all the answers. In fact, the less I claim to know, the more free I feel to be faithful with the small thing right in front of me. However, that only comes when I’m not stuck in a rut of paralysis, looking around, some days wishing my “just do the thing” was an organized, structured, approved-of, sponsored, official “thing.”

I don’t think I’m called to any Moses-scale operations, but I, like you, am called to avoid the distractions and be mindful of the one thing it all boils down to: practicing extravagant, unconditional, day-to-day, for everybody, kind of LOVE.

(images courtesy of pixabay free photos)

It’s The Smallest Gestures

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Did you know that in South Dakota, USA, drivers on rural roads wave to one another? They greet each other on the approach, essentially saying, “Hello! I see you…have a good day!”

The gesture is friendly and reminds me how we are all connected and share a desire to belong. It reminds me how we are part of a bigger family, a big, beautiful, diverse one that’s messy and dysfunctional all at the same time.

I’ve adopted the wave even outside rural settings, kind of like a smile to a stranger on a sidewalk, or a simple “hi!” to a fellow human at the store. I even like to wink, so I hope someone doesn’t take it the wrong way…Anyway, it’s easy for me to be busy and focused, determined to cross off my “to-do” lists in an attempt to feel a sense of accomplishment on any given day. But this one-finger wave, or two on the days I’m coordinated, allows for connection and acknowledgement, on the road to wherever it is we are going. It’s more like, “Hello! I see you…I wish you well…Godspeed.”

Clearly I read a lot into things. My counselor says I am a “highly cognitive thinker”…it’s the empathizer and peacemaker in me, wanting to connect all the dots, making sense of the non-sensical, hoping there is a reason or purpose in the day to day, knowing deep down in my heart how much God is in love with every one of us…when we strip everything down and see each other as souls created in God’s image, kindness to a “stranger” driving by, someone we may never meet, may go farther than we might imagine with a simple flick of the wrist. Love can be spread in a zillion subtle ways.

The locals don’t wait to see if I know the wave or not, they just wave because it’s their practice, their nature…and as I “reply,” as modeled in the picture above, I’ve come to feel a sense of belonging…crazy how in a place that’s so freaking cold, I can feel warm and invited. 

If You Could Do ANYTHING…

ANYTHING at all, to make a lasting contribution to the world, regardless of experience or finances,

WHAT WOULD IT BE?

This simple question has generated some beautiful responses from people lately as I’ve asked old friends, new acquaintances, and total strangers, the words you just read.

And you should see how people’s faces light up at the question! As if for once they are given the chance to dream and think and believe and aspire outside their day to day.

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I’ve spent a lot of time looking at my feet, watching every step. Last year I hung out a car window and did not watch the ground but looked up to the tree tops in search of koalas. This picture came to mind when I wrote this post because of the limitless possibilities of the potential answers to the question, “If you could do ANYTHING…” Plus, the fresh air felt amazing!

The question of “What if?” has limitless outcomes and asking ourselves “What if?” whether, “What if I take a risk?” or “What if I never take the risk?” or any variance of the question, can at least re-shift our focus if we’ve been spinning our wheels in the same space for a while, or believe we’re at a dead end.

Some friends and I are using the information from the interviews and responses we are gathering to dream collectively about something we are launching soon and it’s all just kind of surreal and exciting and kind of scary all at once.

And I’m lovin’ it!

We would love to hear your heart and contribution to our research by sharing your answer in the comments? So, here it is again:

If you could do ANYTHING…ANYTHING at all, to make a lasting contribution to the world, regardless of experience or finances, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY!