Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy to Be Alive...

It's funny the things you remember.  I was out riding my bike, and it was seriously cold.  I remember my itchy wool cycling socks (mainly because I never bothered to change them in the flurry of activity.) I remember the sound of the nurse's voice, and that it was somewhere around one...or maybe two in the afternoon when I got the call.  I remember hearing my dad's ringtone, and thinking I'd call him back in a few minutes, after I finished my ride.  But instead, I de-clipped, pulled into a park, and called his number back.  A woman named Claudia answered and said that she was a nurse, and she was with my parents, whom she just watched roll their car across the interstate three times. I remember that the world stopped.  She put them on the phone.  Dad, predictably, said "We're going to be ok. I think." And Mom babbled incoherently.  She was the one about whom we worried. 

I met them at the hospital.  I dug all their belongings out from the three feet of mud that was on the inside of their car.  Dad had an earful of mud, and Mom had a cut on her foot that required a few stitches.  And they were fine. Really, beautifully fine. I have a whole theology about the hand of God now. 

That was five years ago. New Year's Eve Eve, 2008.  We still celebrate every year.

But maybe it changed us all in some way, to know that in the blink of an eye, all things could've turned out wildly different. Priorities shifted, and "stuff"--whatever it was that seemed so important-- ceased to matter.  What we clung to was what made us  happy, what made memories, what filled our breaths with as much life as possible. 

A lot of people make New Year's Resolutions. ( I set intentions).  But on New Year's Eve Eve, I remind myself what it means to be alive, and I promise anew to celebrate that life with all I have. Life is fleeting and unpredictable, but I remind myself that when my life is spent, I want to be too. I say special prayers of thanksgiving on this day, not just that my parents' story turned out unexpectedly and miraculously well, and not just that we have something to celebrate.  But also that we do, celebrate.  We celebrate wildly and boldly.  We do it by living fully. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mischief Managed...

My mom passed a lot of great things on to me: enthusiasm, creativity, Wadsworth curves.  She tried to pass a love of having all the things organized on to me.  That one didn't take.  Well, to be truthful, I love all the things being organized.  I just don't have any idea how to make that fairy tale a reality.

So this year, perhaps I gave my mom the thing she has always secretly wanted: I asked her (begged her, pleaded, made the sad puppy dog face... ok, no not really... she seemed at least a little bit delighted by the prospect) to help me clean and organize.  She smiled, made a plan, and marched off in search of plastic containers.  And she pulled out everything from my kitchen.  No cubbard, cabinet or other hidey hole for my mess went untouched. Even the countertops were stripped of their adornments  clutter.  Even my refrigerator was decrumbed, and de-leftovered. (And umm... degrossed. I kind of deserve a bless her heart award?) Bonus: I found a lot of things I didn't know I had--cuts down on my grocery shopping "necessities"! And then she managed my bathroom area, which was way beyond making me crazy.  Meanwhile, my dad, who doesn't love organizing, but doesn't mind deep cleaning make my sinks and floors and stove sparkle.  (And, I sent them out unattended and they home with plush bath mats and those super fabulous gel mats for the kitchen. WIN!)

Turns out maybe they gave me the gift I've always wanted: to be able to really rest in my space, and to know where my stuff is.  But maybe the bigger gift is that suddenly I feel unsqashed and creative and relaxed.  Now that I can see all my spices and know what I actually have, I am dying to cook.  It's admittedly been a while-- and maybe that's why I didn't.  I don't like to cook in a mess.  I'm optimisic that once I finish holidaying I will be ready to cook.  (And wow, now I even have refrigerator space  in which to keep things.)

I am still pondering my New Years' Intentions (I don't really do resolutions), and they often fall into shapes of a word.  One of them I think will be Breathe.  (I'm also considering write and create and simplify.)  For me, breathing means being comfortable not only in my skin (cheers, 2013... made a good start on that one!) but also being comfortable in my space.  It means, at least partly, a place for everything and everything in its place. I think "breathe" is a starting place for my other intentions, and I think the progess that happened the last few days is a good start on "breathe".

Look ma, Mischief Managed!

For Bella the Wonder-dog, "Breathe" means her new (pink, no less) Thundershirt, which has made her a completely new dog.  She's cool, calm, and collected.  Score one for the grandparents!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Public Figure

When I was ordained I took vows: That I trusted in Christ, that I believed the scriptures, that I accepted the doctrines of the Reformed Tradition, etc.  Those are the ones that I said outloud.  But it turns out that I took some others that I shouldn't have.  I seem to have vowed that I would forget my gender all together, and be as vanilla as I could. I began wearing pants and suits and skirts down to my ankles--and all quite baggy.  If I wore makeup, it was very soft and neutral.  My hair was a long, frizzy mess that was anything but spunky.  I have always had a thing for fun shoes, but other than that, I wore very few things with any personality at all.

Preachers of the PC (USA) variety very often wear a robe when they preach--so that helped even more.  I did finally get a "girl" robe-- that was a little more tailored for my shape than was my previous one-size-fits-all-get-et-done robe.  But still, I was able to hide sufficiently.  Being a preacher's kid turned preacher, I just always always wanted to be afforded the same luxuries that were given to my dad: to just preach, without having to defend my calling.  But I worked so hard at being  a preacher who happened to be female, that I forgot that I was indeed a female preacher. (You know, aside from lovely stoles and coordinating, liturgically appropriate footwear!)

Fast forward five years and a lifetime. I've lost 57 lbs from my heaviest weight, and gained a spunkiness that I thought I'd lost forever. I've found a desire to be real and authentic, and to stand in my own (admittedly fun) shoes as I walk through life. I've cut my hair quite short, and I am starting to wear clothes that fit my shape. Most days, I make it out of the house with my hair (mostly) done and makeup on my face.  I don't wear tennis shoes to work anymore.

But tonight, all my notions about living fully into my identity as a fun, fearless, fabulous female pastor were taxed.  I was doing a wedding at the church, and every Southern girl knows that a wedding that occurs after 5 p.m. requires a bit of formality. It just felt all wrong to wear my official go to preacher garb suit-- which now fits me about as well as a trash bag.   I guess I could've found something equally as dowdy, but I just couldn't make myself do it.  Especially after talking to some fun church ladies and learning that they were planning on wearing cocktail attire.  I took stock of who was likely to be in attendance, and realized that it would be a fun crowd. I consulted my wonderful group of clergy women friends, and posed the question: What's a girl to do? The communal wisdom was that I should "Wear the dress and cut a rug!" and "have the fun" and "wear it and own it" and "wear spikey heals and great earrings and pearls".  Or as one said, "Would be rude not to wear it and rock it."  (And this is why every girl pastor needs a group of girl pastors to ask serious questions...they rock.)

So I did. It was conservative and tasteful with no body parts hanging out, but it was form fitting-- a had a just-shy-of-conservative slit up the side. (And worth noting: the dress was the one I wore to my senior high prom.)  And I wore dangly, sparkly earrings and red lipstick, and strappy sandals to show off my sparkly red toenail polish. I felt a little strange, but I felt good in my body.

There are parts of my body that I still don't love.  I still have a pooch and jiggly arm fat that keeps waving after the rest of me stops.  But I also have collarbones, and muscles, and a waist,  and ankles.  I'm not yet where I want to be, but tonight, that wasn't my thought. Tonight, I wasn't a girl trying to hide.  Once the service was done, and the robe came off, I was just Kim: the girl lucky enough be to comfortable in her own skin and have fun with people she loves.

I always knew being a preacher would make me a public figure.  I just never knew there'd come a point where I didn't mind having a figure... in public.

Friday, December 20, 2013


My body is showing signs of overexertion (again...thanks, body.) I pulled a muscle (or twelve?) in my back, and strained my shoulder.  And some other TMI-ish sorts of things.  Long story short, I'm grounded from the gym until further notice. And making friends with ice and Advil and heating pads. 

But come four thirty or so, my body is ramped up and ready to conquer the world.  Or, at least the gym.  This time last year, I was about to beg for days off from the gym so I could get everything done. Now, I don't know what to do with myself.  I'm antsy and I miss it. I want to be with those who have become my people. I want to come home completely spent and crawl into bed. I eat better when I go to the gym and don't crave sugar. I'm nicer and more productive.  The truth is that on many days, the gym is the thing I most look forward to. 

I was off from the gym for two and a half weeks due to illness.  At least my body understood that, and I didn't have the energy to fight.  But I feel perfectly well, so I'm having to fight to do what's best for me.  Silly voices in my head are saying dumb things like "If you go to the gym early enough, He-who-trains will never know." 

Who is this person who is fighting to go to the gym, and threatening to do it even though I know my body is saying no? Apparently, the gym has become part of who I am.  I never thought I'd see the day when a few days off from the gym would feel like more of a curse than a blessing.