Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Follow Me to a New Blog!

Hi Friends!

Thanks for stopping by! As you may have noticed, I haven't been here for awhile.

I've moved to

Stop on by at anytime. I'd be delighted to see you soon!

Enjoying the journey,

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Coming Out of the Clarkson Closet

I was a closet Kelly Clarkson fan.

American Idol premiered my senior year of college. I saw pieces of a few episodes and saw enough to know I hated it and everything it stood for. My friend Dee, on the other hand, was a huge fan, so I heard Kelly beat out Justin via the TV in Dee’s Mom’s minivan while we were stuck in traffic moving out her college stuff.

Dee, of course, bought her first CD and I rolled my eyes every time we listened to it that summer. But by album number two, Kelly was winning me over. And I found myself, a few years later, one slow Friday afternoon admitting to my cubemate, Casey, that there was that one Kelly Clarkson song I kinda liked. He, in turn, begrudgingly admitted to digging one of her tunes, too.

Casey and I are both music snobs and so this mutual admission was sorta a big deal. And the follow up online search to figure out which two songs we actual liked was on the side of scandalous. So much so, that when a team manager walked in and ask us what we were doing, we both averted our eyes and turned brilliant shades of red.

I came out of the Clarkson Closet in 2011. Sure, I had been spotted cranking I Do Not Hook Up on rental cars radios since it dropped in 2009, but I made excuses, like, “all the stations in Dallas suck, this was all I could find to listen to.” But I couldn’t admit the joy, nay the inspiration, Kelly provided until a few years later.

And then I discovered Catch My Breath, and people, I’m here to tell you, this lady gets me.
In this one catchy ditty, Kelly and her composing team of Jason Halbert and Eric Olson sum up the trust/truth journey I’ve been on for the last couple of years in the way only a pop song can. And I can admit that now.

This song has become a bit of an anthem for this section of my journey. I have indeed spent the last 6 months laughing hard with the windows down, leaving footprints ALL OVER this town, keeping faith and, because I’ve felt a little like life has been sucker punching me, remembering to catch my breath and then letting it go. Because you know what, no one can hold me back, I ain't got time for that.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

USPS: The First Five Months

I've worked for over five months as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service.

I seriously never thought I’d see the day. People, delivering the mail is HARD. Way harder than you think. Well, at least harder that I thought, I really can’t speak for y’all as a whole, but I digress. What I can speak to is that I am much stronger physically, mentally and emotionally than I was on September 7.

For starters, I spent the week before Thanksgiving until the week after Christmas walking 13 miles in a hilly neighborhood carrying 20 to 40 pounds of holiday parcels and paper in snow, sleet, hail and 20 degree temperatures.

I spent the fall learning to parallel-park a right-side drive vehicle like a BOSS.

I have delivered mail on almost 40 different routes out of nine different stations in the Portland Metro and counting.  A few of those were on those super scary windy roads I was concerned about. I hit nothing and no one died, WIN!

I’ve seen little kids’ eyes light up when they see me walk up the stairs to their homes. I’ve heard snarky remarks from bartenders and office managers.

I’ve NOT been bitten by a dog, BUT I’ve had a few grab the mail from my fingers through a mail slot. I’ve been barked at PLENTY; once by a dog sitting in a house wearing a doggie snuggie. But let’s face it, I’d probably be barking, too.

I’ve adjusted to someone else telling me my schedule and changing it and letting me know at 5:30 in the morning that my start time is earlier or that I need to report to a different station. Yeah, I’ve adjusted, not well mind you, but adjusted nonetheless.

I guess what I’m saying is I survived thus far and I honestly didn’t think it possible.

There were days in October when I knew I just need to make it through this day to the next one, not the next week and certainly not to the next month.  I’d psych myself up with speeches like this one:
“Today… God will provide me with the strength for…today. Tomorrow will bring new mercy. So focus on this day, Sellers. Or better yet, this moment. We can totally get through this moment.”

I sang a lot, too. Mostly inspirational stuff, but sometimes when it’s really cold I find myself making up songs like, “I can’t feel my face. But it’s OK. Because my face was overrated.” It's surprisingly catchy, but I’m afraid it's more in the style of Nickleback than Imagine Dragons. Who knows what the neighbors think.

I listened to The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack and Oceans by Hillsong and Ember by The Groves and For Now from Avenue Q on repeat. I cried on Sundays, my one day off, as I thought about who I was and where I wanted to be and how most of this makes little sense to me.

And then it was the New Year. I had completed 90 working days, that insurmountable goal, and suddenly, somehow, things don’t look so awful.

Trust that I still have truly awful days. Like yesterday, when I was sent to the Eastside and delivered MOUNTAINS of mail, in 25 degree weather, on a route I’ve never been on, while 32 MPH winds whipped down the lanes and over the giant staircases leading to EVERY SINGLE DOOR.

But then there’s today; a short 5 hour day where I delivered mail in the snow, vehicle free, to my neighborhood and had time to work on my book proposal and blog.

And to this, I raise my cup and in thanksgiving I sing, “L'Chaim! To Life! L'Chaim!”

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Yelling with Strangers: The Magic of New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve
I guess I could have stayed home last year/night and welcomed the New Year in solitude and contemplation; but that probably wouldn’t have been what happened.

I would have either A. fallen asleep before midnight because I worked nine hours at the USPS or B. watched the New Year’s Eve celebrations on TV and lamented my singleness. You know, because television and movies tell us something magical should happen on New Year's Eve.

Instead I contacted my friend Jessica, we put on cute festive dresses and we went out; first to dinner at Zeus Cafe where my friend Lori was serving for the evening and then to the Boiler Room for Karaoke. And that’s when it got weird. Not the normal partying with Teletubbies, Care Bears, Elvis Impersonators and Nearly Nudes Portland weird, (which I’ve done and can totally handle) but frat party karaoke weird.

I’ve done a decent bit of karaoke in this town and never encountered a crowd such as this. I’ve also never been hit on with such frequent ferociousness, either.

It started with Polish Matt whose actual name is much more European, as he said...repeatedly.  It ended two hours and six dudes later with Jordan who insisted he wasn’t hitting on us just before he and Jess got into a conversation about Jesus. Well, Jordan wanted to talk about sex. We did not.

Towards the end of the conversation he asked what else he needed to know. Jess said she didn’t know if it was strange to talk about this in a bar and then Jordan tried to launch into monologue on the weird sexual positions he prefers. In a successful attempt to redirect the conversation, I asked him what part of town he lived in.

What I wish I would have said was that what he needed to know, in addition to Jesus being a real person who once lived, as Jordan said, is that, “As crazy as it sounds, Jesus is a being with whom Jess and I both have real relationships. We believe that Jesus knows us, loves us, and gives us peace. You called us wildcards, because you couldn’t tell what we were about; what we were after. You were right, Jordan.  Unlike many people we observe in this bar tonight, we aren’t desperately trying to fill our lives with people or things that we hope will provide us with significance.

“Jordan you talked about not being able to really connect with anyone ever and that even though you came here with a group of friends, you don’t really know them and that’s why you’re chatting up two wildcards on the wall who have been observing it all. That has to be lonely. I hope that in 2014 you find peace, you find trust, and you find Jesus…as crazy as it seems.”

But I didn’t and soon Jordan walked away and I told Jess that even though I had cooked up this plan, I REALLY didn’t want to ring in the New Year in this place and I’d rather walk to Pioneer Square in the freezing cold and see if other strangers had randomly assembled there. We left during the frat party-est version of Afternoon Delight, walked past women hula-ing electric neon hoops in Old Town and arrived with thousands of others at the square at 11:45 pm.

There was no program, no plan, no official countdown; we were all just drawn to the square, to the tree, to connection. At five minutes ‘til, a roar rose in the crowd. There I stood, with a good friend, in a crowd of strangers joyfully anticipating the future, shouting with glee over the possibilities. It was a good place to be; sorta magical, really.

They say what you’re doing at midnight is what you’ll do all year. This year, I can really get behind that.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanks For Being Lost

Sorry I haven’t written in a while, I’ve been lost.

When I started delivering mail for the USPS I spent a few weeks in a super hilly, sorta windy road, neighborhood. I was lost a lot. On the first day, in the middle of a neighborhood, around one in the afternoon, I stopped and yelled, “JESUS! I DON’T LIKE THIS!” And then, after a bit, "Help me. Please."

I don’t like not knowing where I am. I don’t like not knowing where I’m going. I don’t like feeling like I’m not in control/charge of my life.

A couple of weeks later it was Sukkot and in this same predominately Jewish neighborhood many of the families built Sukkahs in their driveways. 

I went home and pulled out my copy of Girl Meets God, the reason I know about this at all, and re-read what Lauren Winner, a woman who wrote about her journey from Judaism to Christianity, said about the holiday.
“On Sukkot, Jewish families each build a hut, a sukkah, to remind themselves of the sukkot the Jews inhabited while they camped in the desert for forty years…Today, the sukkah you would build might be an eight-foot cube, made from plywood held together with twine. You cover the roof with greenery (the covering is called schach, and it should be translucent enough to let in starlight) and invite neighborhood children to hang drawings on the walls. You eat all your meals in the sukkah, and drink all your drinks, and sometimes even sleep there. I miss Sukkot because it is while sitting in the sukkah that you learn lessons about dependence on God, that even the walls of your brick house are flimsy. The trick is to grab hold of those sukkah lessons and remember them once you’ve taken apart your shaky hut and resumed eating you meals in the spacious kitchen of your four-walled spilt-level.”
For the next week, I was constantly reminded that while the Jews wandered around mostly aimlessly, behind a CLOUD, with their life paths completely out of their control, for 40 YEARS, God provided food, water and shelter and sandals that didn’t wear out. So, I’m sure God can handle my current wanderings, both literally and metaphorical.

And I find peace in this, that is, when I remember. But that’s why God created Sukkot, so that we would remember. He knows we forget, so, in his infinite wisdom, he instituted an eight day feasting celebration with space and time to remember and then give thanks to the God who provides, both then and now.

Christians don’t typically celebrate Sukkot, most probably have never heard of it.Two of the other Feasts, Passover and Pentecost, seem to get more play, probably because of perceived closer ties to the story of Jesus. However, back in Jesus' day, this Feast was THE BIGGEST deal. And once on the final and climatic day, Jesus made this bold proclamation, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” I think after seven days of living in booths recalling the old stories of desert life, hearing about living water would have been a PRETTY big deal.

Most days I forget that I not only have access to this fount of awesomeness but that it is in fact in me. When I remember, and ask Jesus for help or give thanks, I know I can feel a surge of life.

So, this year, I’m looking forward to Thursday’s celebration of thanks. Thanksgiving, it’s a pretty big deal.

Read more in Leviticus 23, Deuteronomy 16 and John 7.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Just Call Me Ms.McFeely - Speedy Delivery*

October 2011 ~ First US Post Office ~ Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
It’s not in my nature to wake up at 5 AM.

It’s also not in my nature to willingly take on something that I’m not absolutely positive that I’ll be fairly exceptional.

This might sound a tad braggy, but really it’s more about my fear of failure and rejection.  And maybe it is about my pride. I’m sure it is.

It’s all wrapped up together really: fear of failure and pride.

Because what am I afraid of? That people will judge me and not think I’m awesome? Because mostly I’m not talking about life or death stuff, I’m talking about everyday life stuff and more specifically my post -ministry employment choices.

I started work with the United States Postal Service on Saturday.

On the one hand, I really love the Postal Service and many of the reasons I love it were confirmed on my Shadow Day on Saturday when I got to ride in the jump seat of the right-side drive jeep vehicle thingy. In the USPS they call it a LLV BTW. They (and now I guess we) really like abbreviations.

I had a great trainer who is passionate about his work. He talked about how at least one person everyday gets something he or she really cares about in the mail he delivers and that makes his work worthwhile. And let me tell you, it’s hard work. His route has two of the steepest streets in all of Portland.

We walked up them.

For 6 solid hours we walked and drove around the West Hills carrying pounds of paper and packages and it was pretty cool. But there are parts of this gig I’m not sure I’ll get the hang of. There’s the possibility that I may have to drive one of those aluminum boxes on wheels on my own super windy narrow route.

This terrifies me.

Then there’s the idea that my dyslexia may get the better of me and I won’t sort and deliver fast enough. There is also the concern that this full-time position won’t leave me enough time to focus on my writing and the forward motion of my book; an important piece of this next part of my journey.

None of these things are life or death (OK the driving thing could ratchet up there but that would be WAY OUT OF CONTROL. Breathe, breathe.) and, in a few months, I’ll have gained that incredibly pricey thing called perspective and view this time differently. The cost of that perspective is the experience and that’s another area I’m poor in. 

So, here is what I know today:  

Things will always change. What’s important is how I react to that change. For example, I was assigned to a new station today. Today my belief that God is in charge of my journey won out and that together we can do incredible things so I didn’t completely freak out. As opposed to yesterday, that is an entirely different story.

There is a chance I will ultimately fail and that’s OK. Really. Strangely enough, I’ve always wanted to be a letter carrier least once in my life. It’s one of my random life goals, along with learn to play the accordion and speak French and publish a book. I’m taking them two at a time I guess. We’ll see how that works out.

I will amaze myself. I woke up at 5 AM and made it to my in-class training on time and incredibly prepared. 5 AM! I wasn’t aware I could do that.

*Isn't Mister Rogers the BEST!!! Be kind. Be a neighbor.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Living is Hard: Podcast on Traversing Transition, Climbing Mount St. Helens and Loving People.

Mt. Adams as seen from Mt. St. Helens ~ August 2013
Normally, I would have written out a blog post about my climbing Mt. St. Helens and it applications to EVERY ASPECT OF MY LIFE, instead, thanks to technology and friends who wield it, I am sharing this story audibly.

 To listen, click here: The Groves - August 25th, 2013 

This podcast also includes some additional thoughts about God and love and life that I was given the opportunity to share with my friends at The Groves.