monochrome sun

A Blog for My Bits.

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Further Up & Further In.

In November we will be moving to LoHi (Lower Highlands, right next to the city).  I could not be more excited for our new apartment, and our new journey further up and further into this city for which we have been called.  It amazes me that my heart is choosing to engage in this city that I hated being part of for so long.  God works – and He moves mountains.  Part of me is afraid of the pain of further engagement… but the freedom God has brought into our lives and hearts, and the continuous teaching of the Holy Spirit, makes risking the pain far worth it.

Thank you, God.  Take us deeper.

Further up and further in…

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  1. Marriage.  The Gottman Method (counseling) has helped us a lot, especially the idea of “managing” conflict rather than “resolving” it;  I find this approach MUCH more realistic and practical, plus it allows God to do the work of true resolve.
  2. Family.  Need to check with Joe, but I think our kids should call my parents Peemie & Pop.
  3. Work.  I have an affection for the word “work” itself.  The challenges, the brokenness, the vision, the people, the aggravation, the fun, the preparation, the learning, the teaching, the leading… I have learned remarkably much about God through my work and processing my work.
  4. Management.  Relationship power wins over role power the majority of the time.
  5. Friendship.  Hits me equally in expected and unexpected places.
  6. Denver.  Hasn’t changed, I’ve changed.
  7. Domestic Life.  I seem to do all dusting, maintaining furniture, decorating, fixing small things, disinfecting, cleaning kitchen & bath, watering plants, making the bed, doing laundry and folding clothes.  Joe seems to do all cooking, taking out trash, re-filling cat food dispenser, changing litter, vacuuming, and regularly making french press coffee.  We both do dishes.  This seems to work, although he gets annoyed that I never cook and I get annoyed that I mostly fold clothes.
  8. Medication.  I have a (mostly) haphazard relationship with taking medication.  I’ll just pop a pill and call it a day.  This is unhealthy.
  9. Personality.  I am an 8 on the Enneagram.
  10. Sentimentality.  I lost one of the diamonds in my engagement ring in New York City.  I am okay never seeing that particular original stone again, and while I love the ring, I am not bent out of shape about this whole ordeal.  In a broader stroke, I think I am losing any sentimentality I once had.
  11. Correspondence.  Writing a card or letter the minute the idea pops into your head to do so can make your day.  And the receiver’s.
  12. Cats.  …can develop chin acne.
  13. Church.  Is tough, even when you adore your church.  Being away from it for a long time has given me more realistic expectations and in many ways more love, more patience.
  14. Cleaning.  Vodka, lemon essential oil & distilled water goes a long way.
  15. Success.  “Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment.” – Jim Collins.
  16. Journaling.  I now get the art of journaling.  In the sense that it’s not an art, you’re mostly embarrassed by what you write, but it helps exercise your writing muscles for when you want to write something well.
  17. Neighbors.  I am not good at “neighboring,” except when it comes to domestic disputes outside our apartment at 12AM when I decide to get involved and talk it out with the couple, by loudly mediating from our balcony.
  18. Initiating.  I feel the need to be the initiator, even when that means initiating silence to force others to initiate.
  19. Contending.  I feel excitedly closer to someone if they contend with me.
  20. Body Image.  I now have a tummy, noticeable child-bearing hips, un-toned arms and a daily complex.
  21. Leading.  Being a great leader often means being the least anxious person in the room.
  22. Grooming.  Sulfates dry, dull and damage my hair faster than hot tools.
  23. Reading.  I still prefer non-fiction, and have been on a philosophical kick all year.
  24. Clothing.  Less is best, and now I dry clean and get pieces tailored regularly.
  25. College.  I do not regret not finishing college at all.  It has forced me to work harder and not operate with the entitlement/resentment that I see fester in some my age.  I have learned the beauty of being an avid learner, a knowledge addict, teaching myself applicable information and making the “college” factor irrelevant.
  26. Health.  I have now experienced vertigo, late-20’s hangovers (i.e. death) and tension headaches.
  27. God.  Here I have almost nothing to say, because anything I write will be pitiful.  But, I want to say something.  So.  I have learned more of God as my pursuer; and in so learning I have begun to fear Him anew.  I learned that He is not afraid to enter my darkness.  I think “afraid” is actually the wrong word.  He is willing to go into my whorishness and ugliness to gather me and bring me back to Him.  I never knew Him quite in this way, or to these depths.  I have also learned more of Him as the bondage breaker and the relentless lover.  He really cannot be messed with.  That, and He is patient.  He is good.  And He is curiously kind.  And uncommonly understanding.  And never shocked.

…yeah.  Twenty-seven things learned in my twenty-seventh year.

 

From: The God Who Is There

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“God has created a real, external world.  It is not an extension of His essence.  That real, external world exists.  God has also created man as a real, personal being, and he possesses a “mannishness” from which he can never escape.  On the basis of their own worldview often these experience-seekers [i.e. psychedelic drug users] are neither sure the external world is there, nor that man as man is there.  But I have come to the conclusion that despite their intellectual doubts, many of them have had a true experience of the reality of the external world that exists, and/or the “mannishness” that exists.  They can do this precisely because this is how God has made man, in His own image, able to experience the real world and man’s “mannishness.”  Thus they have hit upon something which exists, and it is neither nothing, nor is it God.  We might sum up this third alternative by saying that when they experience the “redness” of the rose, they are having the experience of the external world, as is the farmer who plows his field.  They are both touching the world that is.

In the same way, lovers on the left bank of the Seine in Paris experience the “mannishness” of man when they fall in love and yet cry because they do not believe love exists.  If I met any of these, I would put my hand gently on their shoulders and say, “You are separated from God if you do not accept Christ as your Savior, but at this moment you understand something real about the universe.  Though your system may say love does not exist your own personal experience shows that it does.”

-Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There

Operating While Out Of Alignment

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Ultimately I want this post to be encouraging, but in order to reach the level of encouragement I’m hoping for, it first needs to be honest.  Here it goes.

I do not know how any couple stays healthily, joyously married.

Correction:  I do not know how any couple who does not keep Christ at the center of their marriage even attempts to stay healthily, joyously married.  And for those couples who do attempt to keep Christ at the center of their marriage – could one of you please say “amen” and then travel with me to the bottom of my pit to swim around a bit without offering advice?  Let’s just swim here for a minute.

A significant disclaimer before we begin.  I am writing this from the perspective of a painfully opinionated, independent #8 on the Enneagram scale.  I am someone whose core narrative is “I cannot and will not be controlled by anyone or any thing.”  This is evidenced by, quite frankly, all of my life choices, including the following:

  1. Not getting a degree.  I refused to buy into the cultural narrative that I could not be uncommonly successful without one.  Looking back my decision had little to do with wanting a degree or not (I did and still do), and more to do with proving others wrong and silencing the “shoulds.”
  2. Working 60+ hour weeks regularly.  The more time I spend honing my knowledge and skills the higher my proficiency, the more likely I am to be promoted above my peers, the faster I rise and increase my salary, the quicker I get to the point where I am free to make decisions others may not see for a decade.  (Side note: working longer hours is more likely seen in men, as opposed to women, because men, if I recall correctly from Jordan Peterson lectures, are higher in the neurotic personality trait).
  3. Spending $250/month to park in the city instead of using public transit, which could save me $150 or more, because I feel the need to control my mornings and evenings by gripping the wheel of a 5,000 lb. machine, pretending I’m in the Daytona 500 killing it.
  4. Developing a psychological disorder when I was 14 because, essentially, I was bent out of shape by being unable to escape my skin if I needed to.  Yep, it doesn’t make sense because you’re of sound mind.  They put me on anti-panic drugs for a while.  It got really ugly.  Thank the Lord for Jesus, Dr. Rita and modern medicine.

Items 1-4 above should give you a picture of the person who entered my marriage almost 3 years ago.  Plus, I don’t like or try to do any of the following:  (1) cook meals, (2) plan meals, (3) sit down for meals, (4) think about meals, (5) think about ever trying to get better about numbers 1-4.  My handicap is the attitude from which I approach providing daily sustenance to myself and my other half.  So at level 1 I am failing.  You get the idea.

The aspects of marriage, however, that I think everyone can agree are difficult, include laying down one’s own demands and/or needs for the sake of the other.  When the opportunities to do this arise in moments of vulnerability it is just… so achingly difficult to lay yourself down.  And if you’ve been subconsciously score-keeping?  Forget it.

Almost three years have gone by.  So much goodness has flown from our marriage.  That said, there are circumstances that spread us thin, individually, and big gaping wounds developed in my heart.  Into those wounds I fed my work, self-praise, my image, worldly highs, self-assurance, medication, blaming my partner beyond his share, becoming indifferent… so much more.  It got ugly and, in a lot of ways, it still is.

The beautiful thing about Sunny & Joe is that we adore each other.  We are consistently excited to see the other person when they get home from work.  We play and laugh together every single day.  In the midst of major disagreement we can be sweet.  The phrase “endeared to each other” best explains it.  I think it has little to do with our strengths in loving each other, I think it’s our natural chemistry.

The difficult thing about Sunny & Joe is that they sometimes view timelines, realities and priorities differently.  Which are critical items to ensure alignment for marital success.  In the words of Jim Collins, “Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment.”

Aligning is so damn hard.  Knowing how to operate while out of alignment is so much damn harder than not being aligned.  And it’s that part I speak of.  It’s the part that is crucial to navigate well, detrimental to navigate improperly, and insanely hard either way.

How does anyone do this well?

If I believe what I say I believe it is only possible to do this well in Christ.

In Christ I have a person who laid down His life for my brokenness, my unfaithfulness and my folly.  Without Christ I have no one on my side, no one in whose identity I can walk, no one to unconditionally love me.  Without Christ NO ONE UNCONDITIONALLY LOVES ME and no one tells me I am worthy because I am not.  Without Christ how could I actively love someone if I am not aligned with them?  While misalignment handicaps me, and telling myself I can hold out for reform becomes harder each day, I have no choice, without a Savior, than to remedy the discrepancy by cutting off the non-compliant.

What is the alternative?

I hold out daily for reform because the remedy of our discrepancy is the Hope I already have.  Instead of focusing on alignment with my spouse I can focus on alignment with the true Bridegroom.  In Him I have all that I need and in Him I am able to love at all.

One day, years from now, when my marriage is 50 years old or so, I want to be able to say:  I did not always align with my spouse.  There were seasons where we did not align at all.  And there were seasons I decimated the sweetness on the ground, because of my folly and stubbornness.  But if ever I loved well, and if ever I laid myself down, it had nothing to do with me, but for the fact that I am loved everlasting by a Bridegroom who is never unfaithful and whose love is never not aligned to me.

Nona

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August 24, 1933 – April 10, 2018

My grandmother, Joan, died last Tuesday, April 10th.  I was in Utah when I got the call from my mom.  I cried at my desk and then actually took a lunch to sit in silence in my car in a Chick-Fil-A parking lot.

I called her Nona, which is Italian for grandmother.  She is my mother’s mom, and was a complete riot – the life and center of every party.  Sometime after I was born she came to know Jesus and has loved the Lord ever since.

This is what I said at her funeral on Monday, April 23rd.

Joan Frankenfield was my Nona.  As her only granddaughter I took pride in knowing I made this dazzling diva a Nona.  We have always shared a deep connection, and in many ways, even more than she knew.  As a woman, now in my late twenties, and more comfortable with my craziness, I often wonder if my love for people and passion for “the party” matches hers.  My Nona has a roaring yearning for joy – this was most evident when I witnessed or heard stories of her provoking others.  For example: by adding pickled-pigs-feet to a stranger’s shopping cart, or changing the prices on a restaurant’s “specials” sign.  These sorts of things I find myself doing more and more.  And for this reason I now know why I once told my mom, “I’m more like Nona than anyone.”  

My husband recently took a survey about me, in which he answered “what annoys Sunny the most in life?” “People.” “What does Sunny love the most in life?” “People.”  When I heard this I immediately thought of Nona… I think her greatest joy was knowing and learning people… more than they were sometimes comfortable with.  She could make you part of the joke, but not with malevolence, rather a desire to be closer to you and appreciate you and see if you could handle it – not taking yourself seriously.  Nona could cut to the core of you in search of a connection.  And oh my stars, she was funny.  

In these last years [with dementia] I saw her joy for people in her eyes.  It was powerful.  Her desire to connect could not be taken away.  As I kissed her beautiful, soft hair the last time I saw her I thanked the Lord for placing me in the lineage of such a bold, engaged, creative, deep, witty, resplendent individual.  

God is good, and I know Him more by knowing others, with the same desire to connect as Nona had.  I cannot wait to love on her in heaven.