On God and Life

Last night was a horrible night of no rest. I slept on the couch in a sleeping bag because the bed just wasn't cutting it... turns out the couch didn't do much better. Maybe I was nervous about the talk I had to give this morning? I woke up so that I could be at the church by 6:30. There is this small group that meets every other Wednesday morning called "Faith To Go". They eat breakfast, drink coffee and meet with someone from the congregation for an hour. It's a really good idea to get to know the people who make up the parish, and it is my understanding that it fuels their mid-week spiritual slump to consider the trials and faith transformations of others. How do we, as Christians, allow our vocation and day to day business to fit into the network of God's plan? It's a really small group, but it could be bigger. Yes, 6:30 is early, but in the long run, it seems as though these people have truly benefitted from hearing other's stories.

So this morning I woke up with the birds because it was my turn to talk about personal stuff. My relationship with... God I guess, and how I got to be where I am. There is a lot to talk about. Emotionally, I feel as though I have done so much growing up in the past five or six years. I guess that is college and the great big beyond. But there is so much to be said about those few years. Seriously... that is nearly my entire relationship with Chris, college, depression, traveling, mending familial relationships, choosing a profession and working through that vocation. So much has happened that has been transformative... I didn't know where to begin.

It started with an introduction to my life: Siblings, parents, a million extended family members (there are four new babies to meet... in a matter of eight months! Holy shit my family knows how to expand!), education, Catholic roots... and the inevitable denial of all of those things as a teen and young adult. But the story, my story, grew into such an incredible cyclical journey back to those things. I talked about how much of that internal push to return home was exacerbated by Chris' entry into the Seminary. I talked about my initial resentment. I mean... I had agreed to marry him and he was a business man. We were going to be silly rich because he is such a smooth talker and people like him. I knew it we would be fine. Ha! Life is just hilarious sometimes. Two weeks later he expressed the undeniable tug he felt towards becoming a leader of faith. I said sure, but inside I was bitter. Not towards him, but towards a God that could pull the man that I love away from me and our inevitable future family. I know how busy Pastors are. I know that they are always on call because people are always sick or dying or getting married or being born or fighting or alone and needing someone to be with them. But I need to be with him, too. I didn't want to share him at. all. And so I supported Chris, but not God. Fast forward three years, and I can say that it would be so wrong of me not to share him. He has such a gift... a talent for preaching and sharing the difficult messages of true altruism and devotion to something that cannot be seen or heard. How can I deny that, and keep such an amazing and intelligent man to myself? That is not fair. And so I share him with the world. Perhaps it is some innate fear of the wrath of God (there is that good old Catholic guilt). Who am I to deny His message and call to Chris? Who am I to say that this is not the life for us? But I am not fully committed. I would be the first to point out the holes in my own faith. And I did so this morning.

We talked about how I would rather stare at the babies in the pews in front of me than listen to the sermon. We talked about how I thought of it as a sort of a joke when Chris went to Seminary... something I don't even know if I told him. We talked about how I have a hard time trusting a God who is so quiet in my life, whose messages to me are so hidden they may as well have been written with water on pavement three days before I reached them. We talked about how frustrating is is to have the gift of making beautiful things with my hands, and yet how superficial and excessive art is. How do I help others when I am so concerned with manipulating materials for my own emotional and financial gain? Where is the work of God in that? I expressed our exasperation at the thought of working for God, honestly, and what that could mean for us financially and for our family and the limited time we might have together. Sometimes it makes me angry.

But we also talked about how blindly sitting in a pew in the back of church every Sunday for a year straight has filled a void I didn't know existed until it began to feel full. We talked about how I have learned to "let go and let God" (and can I just say that for the record, I hate faith jargon... always have, always will... but sometimes it really fits the bill).  We talked bout how I am well suited to fulfill a tough mission, and about how they, this morning's listeners, see Chris and I going far with the gifts we have received. When I hear these sentiments and evaluate how far I have come in the past few years I can see that. But an uphill climb is never an easy one. The thought of being a whole Christian is exhausting. I am not external in the little faith that I have. It is personal, quiet and within. I am still embarrassed when approached about it because I have so little faith... and am married to a man who has so much. How does that work? I am afraid that people will not understand how I can, now, so fully support Chris and yet so intensely scrutinize the God that has put us on this path. My fear of people's misunderstanding has lead to some intense judgements. I am so human sometimes.

But this morning's talk was good. It has given me a lot to chew on today. Perhaps it was good to verbally exercise some of the insecurities I have about my own faith journey... something that both comes to light and is denied several times each day. These people have established a good thing in this early morning fellowship.


We are packing for the move. There are boxes everywhere in our apartment... absolutely everywhere. My anxiety has been running super high for a few days straight now, so this is a post about the market. Lincoln's Saturday morning downtown market makes me so happy! There are markets everywhere in town each day of the week, but there is nothing like going downtown and meandering between old brick buildings and visiting with the vendors who drive from all over eastern Nebraska to sell their uber tasty and fresh goodies! Here are a few shots from our past few trips.


Mister Suehr

Fortune has come our way. We are so blessed to have known each other for 15 years. We are lucky enough to have realized young what we wanted in a mate, and had the clarity to realize it was each other. Seven years, three months, and twenty-one days. One incredible year of marriage.

He will always be the best choice I have made. When I need help, he is there. When I need someone to knock me off of my high horse and tell me how it is, he is there. When I need a shoulder, a hug or a hand to hold, he is always there. And he always was.

One year

Two years

Three years

Four years

Five years

Six years

Seven years.

I can't imagine not having him in my life. Sometimes I get really caught up in the fact that someday, hopefully in the very distant future, we are going to have to say goodbye to each other. It is such a horrible, sad thought, but I have it all the time. I kind of feel like I have to miss him. I have to think about what it would be like not to have him around. It helps me appreciate the stupid little things a whole lot more... like, doing the dishes together or folding the laundry together. Or the times when he is napping on the couch and I am doing whatever around the apartment. Those quiet, pointless moments are some of my favorites. He is my rock.


While On A Walk

I went for a walk yesterday. It went a little something like this...

When I walk around with my camera, I always start off a little self conscious. Really. I was dressed to run (and tried to after my first lap around Holmes Lake... epic fail. More on that below), and had arrived on the trail headed counterclockwise at the same time as a large family with two adorable dogs. Every time I would kneel down to take a picture or pause to scan the grasses around me, I felt encroached upon. I appreciate solitude in my midmorning walks. It was horrible timing. I felt rushed, especially when their dogs (both of which were on leashes, but were allowed to run free dragging them behind their tiny bodies. And this makes sense how?) would run up to me and sniff my feet or yip. I'm all for a cute dog, but keep it with you.
Anyways. So I departed the path for a bit when I discovered these little gorgeous flowers, all three of which are the same type. How beautiful are they, seriously. There had to have been thousands of them growing in little color clusters along side of the road leading to a golf course. It was so perfect.
I especially like these soft pinks. Some of them were more peach than others, but they were farther back into thicker high grasses. I was already running the risk of ticks and didn't want to go deeper into the grasses. My running attire consisted of ankle socks and loose running capris, so I was pretty exposed. Not too exposed to hang out with these beauties for a bit, though.
There were also a lot of these huge poofs. Like, dandelions on steroids.
I have noticed these flowers everywhere here in Lincoln. They grow much like dandelions would all over someone's yard back home. A few days ago my preschool class went for a walk outside and every. single. child. felt the need to leave the sidewalk and collect as many of these as they could from the yards we passed. It was so cute. The path along Holmes Lake hosts small bunches all over the place, especially atop the dam.
This makes me want to get married all over again. Look at how lush those leaves are! I am a sucker for healthy looking greens.
Here are those same small wildflowers, only these have a symmetrical pink design on the outside. The way the grasses were blowing on the top of the dam was so refreshing. At this point, it was probably 11:30. The clouds were thickening and a small pre-rain breeze was blowing. If there is one thing in Nebraska that I will miss, it will be the ever present breeze. There is little here to inhibit air flow, and nearly every day whatever the weather, there is an accompanying breeze. It is wonderful. The sides of the dam are covered in high grasses and they were blowing in soft waves.
Talk about perfect texture...
We are in serious need of rain. The lake is low by several feet and the stagnant water is turning green with algae and other water plants. The stench isn't too bad yet, but I hear it can be horrible. I guess that is something we have to look forward to? I am a little bummed out about this every time I go there to run. It is one of the few places I actually enjoy in Lincoln. It is always so quiet, and when it is not, it is still so rejuvenating. I remember a summer in Gettysburg where the drought was so bad that the lake smelled for weeks on end.
What amazes me about the lack of rain here is that it is natural to the Nebraskan climate for this part of the year. Chris and I are amazed at people's resistance, however. Everyone waters their lawn daily. Everyone. And they look at you like you have fourteen eyes if you tell them you don't, or that your sprinklers are broken, or that you think its silly. I cannot imagine what their water bills are like. Chris told someone from the congregation that in PA, we just let our lawns die, and she about fell over. I don't know. I think you should embrace the climate you live in and adjust. It seems like such a waste to me.

These leaves are so beautiful. I am always looking for new textures and ways of using shape and line in my own artwork. Leaves are some of my favorite places to find these interesting elements. Asymmetrical or nearly perfect, it doesn't matter which. Of course there are a few plain, standard leaves that aren't always worth mentioning. But here! Here is the excitement. 

Look at those points! Count the asymmetry! Appreciate the voluptuousness of the body! Gush.

These make me think of shells, whales and scallops.
This awesome orange flowering plant was in a maintained bed by the point among all sorts of very straight and vertical grasses. It was so obviously showing itself off, hanging over the side and whatnot. It is so different!
I am sad that we didn't get the kayaks in this year. We got them out here and they have been in the deck closet since the day we put them there last August. I would use them over the next two weeks in the mornings, but I can't bring myself to use them here anymore. I miss kayaking the lake at home in the brisk morning wearing nothing but my suit and a cover up. I miss dreaming of the interior of the lake houses and what the people inside might be eating for breakfast or whether they are watching TV or reading a book or playing with their children. I always loved the few times that people were sitting on their docks with their coffee and they would chat with me about the lovely morning weather as I drifted by. I cannot wait to go home. Stillwater kayaking is where its at. I remember one evening I went out with a book and read in a cove while the sun set across the lake. It was so still... until a speedboat when by and created a TON of wake, haha. I get carsick really easy... and what do you know?! I get kayak sick, too. I had to put my book down and wait for the waves to calm.
These were also by the road to Holmes Lake Golf Course. They went on for probably a quarter mile and the strip was probably five feet wide. These too were blowing in the breeze. By this point there had been several short but intense cloud bursts. That steady breeze continued, however. The movement across this strip was so dynamic!
It is so pretty there. I love to focus on the grasses and think about them growing.
Holmes Lake is one of the few places in Lincoln I will miss visiting. It has always been a relaxing place for Chris and I to get away from our homesickness and recenter our spirits. Maybe because it is like Lake Heritage, our home. Maybe it is our affinity with water. Maybe it is the smell of pine that so sweetly blows along my favorite part of the path.
One of the few hills worth photographing (I'm sure there are more, but this one is so pretty). I like the areas of grasses that the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Dept. leave wild. The perimeter of the lake is nearly all high grasses, reeds and other water loving plants. To the outside of the path on this section by a small cove, this hillside wraps around the back part of the golf course and a small observatory. I once watched a snake slither from the lake into this meadow. There are always birds taking off and landing with dry grasses and worms hanging from their beaks.
More evidence that we could use a few good heavy rainstorms...
So, after walking around the lake while maintaining enough distance from the company of a large family with two curious dogs, I decided to run. After all, it was cloudy, kind of rainy and for once, not above 90 degrees. As I finished my first quarter mile and was atop the dam, the weather laughed and waged its battle. The clouds literally vanished, the humidity spiked as the rain from 30 minute before began to evaporate, my reliable breeze died and the temperature rose with that. I wanted to die. Ever resolved to complete my second lap, I pressed on. By the time I got a third of a way around I gave a big internal "fuck you!" to the heavens and walked. I was drenched. I am not cut out for a mid afternoon heated run. My intervals after that were lousy and I was as red as a beet. I'll stick to my early morning routine from now on.



I am was training for a 5K. Oh, I'll still be participating in my Color Run in Omaha in two weeks, but it will be pretty pathetic. The past two weeks have been horrible for running. If the humidity wasn't near 90%, the temperature was above 90 (or 100. pick your day). If the weather was right, my body decided to crap on my healthy sleeping habits and keep me up all night, thus ruining my chance of a morning run. If the weather was right and I missed the morning run, we had something to do in the evening. I have only been running for about a year (and not too consistently or successfully), so I have yet to embrace the all-weather-all-the-time attitude. I still prefer comfortable conditions considering that I want to die after each run. I have no stamina. I hate this. I have always been this way too. I know that running isn't the best active lifestyle choice for me or my Lawrence knee joints (thank you dad), but I have really gotten used to the awesome feeling of accomplishment and honestly, the sexiness that sets in about 4 hours after the run.

Now that my responsibilities as a preschool teacher are officially over, and I have no actual plan for next year (horray for uncertainty! horray for sarcasm!) I am making it a goal to run all. the. time. Forget bad nights of sleep keeping me from a morning run... I no longer have 9 - 10 hour days to keep me from napping! Forget silly weather... I have a change of clothes for that! Forget plans... I'll find time! I want to keep this up so that the next time I register for a 5K, I will be ready.

Oh, right now I feel so blah though.

Let's talk about weight. One year ago I was the heaviest I have ever been. I can honestly say there are wedding pictures that I just don't like to look at because I was one heavy lady. I know how fit and healthy I have been (hello high school). I know that I could lose enough weight to get there and I know I could work out to be that toned again. I have had this 5'6" body, these legs and butt and boobs and arms since the freakin' 8th grade. While it sucked back then, it has provided me with many years to figure out what it is capable of and how healthy it can look/be. I will get there. Since moving here, I have dropped 10 pounds, and during the occasional super healthy/active periods, 15. I could stand to lose probably 15 or 25 more. Wow. That feels like so much, especially when I have to work SO hard to lose 1, and I can smell pasta and gain 3. I just have to remember to do it one day at a time. One run at a time.


Ten Green Fingers

I'm in love with our plants. The collection is growing. They are my children, and I frequently tend to them at odd times during the day. For instance, I decided that 5:30 this morning was a great time to transplant some of the shoots from our elephant ear to new pots.

Green onions re-sprouting.

Sweet potatoes on the windowsill growing roots in the sunshine.

New growth on our recently pruned ficus ginseng bonsai.

The back of a leaf on our newest, the elephant ear.
I am also growing a garlic plant, two cute cacti along with some jade, a desert rose, and attempting to sprout some avocado seeds. I brought a planter with a dead yellow flowering plant home from my classroom a few days ago (one of my preschoolers presented it to me during teacher appreciation week... watering a plant on a super high window sill isn't exactly top priority in my classroom. oops!). I was going to put something else in the pot, but it unsuspectingly bounced back and sprouted two new leaves yesterday. I repotted it in a new, large pot after cleaning out all of the waste and finding a very healthy and long set of roots! I also found a packet of miscellaneous seeds I picked up downtown for free around Earth Day. I planted them this morning while separating the elephant ear. We'll see what they grow up to be! I could tend garden all day, every day. I'd rather keep the dirt under my fingernails than spend money on a manicure.

This is the beginning.

I am not entirely sure what my purpose for this blog will be yet. A catalogue of things that inspire me, of things that I am creating, or things I am doing and places I am visiting? There are many things that I would like to document here, and maybe they will all eventually have a home somewhere here. For now, I guess I will use it as a place to update (mostly myself) about where I am going.

There are a lot of new things going on. Chris, my husband, and I have one more month left of our year living in Nebraska. One more month... I can barely believe that eleven months have passed. We have been married for one year, and so much has happened. I have had a solo exhibition of drawings. I have been a pre-school classroom assistant (although at times, it has felt like I have been the teacher). I have been a cook... this is probably one of the more rewarding parts of being a... wife?...woman? I don't know how to categorize this, because Chris and I work to be equal in the kitchen. We love it there! Maybe someday we won't live in an apartment and can customize that space to work more efficiently for how awesome we love to be!

Anyways. We are moving home to Pennsylvania very soon. I am looking forward to that new beginning. It might be a mere year; Chris will hopefully get his first call (he has one more year and then poof! he'll be a Lutheran pastor) next spring. By this time we will hopefully know where we will be living. Hopefully; and hopefully it will be right around south central PA. There are no guarantees. Can you believe that?! I have a hard time with that sometimes... especially because I do not have a strong faith built foundation. It is very hard for me to, as many say, "trust in the Lord". I barely believe in him. I feel a lot of pressure sometimes about this, although I am not sure whether it comes from within or from others. How can I be a pastor's wife and have such an insecure... everything about religion and my own spirituality? I struggle sometimes to be myself and adopt that identity. I can be so crass, judgmental, materialistic, selfish and lazy. I fully support him, but it is hard at times when other people expect me to be typical of that role. A lot of people who know me even laughed at the thought of "pastor's wife" being part of my identity when they found on Chris was enrolling in seminary and we got engaged a bit later. That hurt. I know we are both challenging people with strong opinions and pretty dominant personalities. Those roles will always be tough for us to conform to in any capacity. Perhaps the biggest thing we will learn is how to grow into those without sacrificing the parts of ourselves that separate us from stereotypes. It is exhausting.

Oh man, that's enough for now.