Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Epiphany Part Two

Hello again! Where were we?

Oh, yes! So, my mom was saying all this - how Jermaine's eyes light up when he talks about his music. I was moved by how moved she was. My mind just started spinning (in the good way - not in the way that you regret in the morning).

My train of thought ran something like this:

This is what he's meant to do. I just feel it. Huh. Isn't it odd how (for the first time in my adult life) we have enough money to live (if only for a period of time)? It's not a forever thing for sure - but what source of income is? Maybe, just maybe . . . he could take a break from the job searching. I could take a break from stressing over the job searching. And he could just fully concentrate on his music. For a moment in time, at least. Wouldn't that be incredible?

I felt it so strongly. I sensed it was the right thing even though it sounded kind of crazy. On the way home from Charlotte, I brought it up with Jermaine. He was excited - I mean, what's not to like, right? Fully concentrating on music and a non-stressed out wife. Definitely a Win/Win.

I had another epiphany around the same time. I realized just how strongly I feel God's presence when I dance. Helped to explain why I tear up during dance aerobics. It doesn't really have anything to do with this particular blog, but I like sharing it.

Anyways, getting back to the epiphany at hand - that's what we decided to do. He got to be music minded and we both got to be peace of minded.

We worked out the following plan - after Easter, if nothing had happened musically, he would resume the job hunting grind.

And so Easter came. Coincidentally, we traveled south again. On our way back from Charlotte, we had a different conversation.

Hmm. This is where it gets a bit complicated. I'm trying to figure out the best way to explain all the random thoughts I had. I guess you could say I've been having mini-epiphanies since Easter (although I don't think Jermaine would word it that way). But they were all weird and they conflicted with each other. Truly, I feel like nothing made sense until today.

On the trip back we talked about starting up the job hunt again. We would both have to - because I'm graduating soon and it's almost job-time for me as well. We discussed what it would look like - because he and I are very different kinds of people. And part of the stress before had to do with our conflicting natures.

Piano lessons came up. He could potentially make enough money to sustain our family teaching piano lessons alone. If only he had a keyboard. And honestly, it's a sad state of affairs that he hasn't owned his own keyboard in so long. This music, it's like part of him.

Soo, we bought one! And it's awesome - there's a picture of it in Part One of this blog.

So that's that, and it's good. But we keep wavering - should we pursue this music school/piano lessons idea? Should he finish college (he only has a year of undergrad left and it would really boost the whole job searching thing!)? Where does producing come into play?

Jermaine is . . . different from a lot of guys I know. And I love that. That's a huge part of why I married him.

And, I mean, also, I'm different from a lot of girls I know. Maybe that's why he married me.

This whole, "the man is the provider" idea. It doesn't really work so well for us. I'm the crazy ambitious one. He's got mad talent, but doesn't fair well in the multi-tasking department. It's the way God made him.

And you know me, I'm Ms. Feminist. Somewhere along the way, since Easter, I got to thinking . . . maybe I'm supposed to be the provider.

And that's where PAWS comes in.

I have these passions I want to pursue - creative endeavors I feel I was made to do. I'm such a dork that I made up an acronym.

I'm a


Social justice, human rights and gender stuff - those are my messages.

PAWS is my medium. And pastoring (I think) is the glue that holds it all together.

So, for the past couple of weeks I've been plotting. Planning. Trying to figure out what I needed to do to make these dreams a reality.

Back to the car ride home. Jermaine and I decided we'd both pursue our dreams passionately and vibrantly. But, until we found ourselves gainfully employed doing what we loved, we'd have to be willing to take on some jobs that maybe suck.

I know. It sounds like a no-brainer, right? Ridiculous, even, that we'd have to flesh it out like this.

I could give you a bunch of reasons as to why we did. But they're not essential. And if you know us at all, you probably already know them. Point is, we did need to flesh them out. So we did. And it made a world of difference.

Eek. But, this is where it gets a bit wonky. Last night, as I was praying (and seemingly out of nowhere), I got this supreme urge to pray this crazy prayer:

That God would provide Jermaine with a job doing something he absolutely loved (probably in the realm of music or graphic design) - and that he would make enough money for us to live - and then I could pursue my passions without needing to make any money to add to the family income.

It felt beautiful and good and right. I woke up this morning feeling refreshed - and wanting to steal away to pray/flesh out this nonsensical prayer.

I finally managed to get away (this afternoon - after I wrote the first blog) - I put on Robots for Sadie and Alex and I went into our bedroom and starting folding the huge mound of laundry that both Jermaine and I had been "about to get to" for the past several weeks. As I folded, I talked it out with God.

I listened to this sermon yesterday. I don't feel like getting into the whole thing (it really made me think tho - if you want to listen to it, you can find it here. It's called "Stay Thirsty"). I'll just say it left me with the a deep desire to really investigate what I long for. Like, at the root of all my good and bad desires, what is it I truly crave?

I traveled all the way back to high school. My deepest desires from then until now. What has changed, what hasn't?

Recognition, love, affirmation - these are my deepest ones, I think. My strategies have varied considerably, but the base desires have not.

I think God made us to pursue our passions. I think they are a part of a larger plan. And I think he wires us with these desires and unique ways of pursuing them - so that we might passionately seek him and other people, whom he loves deeply.

I was lost in thought, thinking these beautiful things, when I remembered that, only weeks ago I had come to the conclusion that perhaps Jermaine wasn't supposed to be the breadwinner here.

Well, I thought, what am I supposed to do with that?

Ha, I don't know, exactly. I feel that he has been called to pursue music. I think I've been called to pursue this odd combination of writing and performing.

I also know that he's very good at living in the moment. And I am not.

During my laundry prayer today, I realized that if my family died, I would have a lot of regrets. I would desperately wish I had spent more time with them. Perhaps that is the true epiphany.

I think I am called to pray this prayer - that God will grant Jermaine a Walker-sustaining career - because although I am called to pursue my own career, I am also called to experience deep joy and peace with my family. I have been concerned with money for I-don't-know-how-long. I think this prayer is really about letting that go.

I think. Eek.

Will you pray for us?

Epiphany Part One

I always have these thoughts (I call them epiphanies but Jermaine says that's too strong a term). They're mostly insightful things, stuff I feel God leading me to.

I get them and I think, 'I'm definitely not sharing this one with anyone.' It feels hokey to talk about them. I'm always saying stuff like, "I think it's a God Thing" or "I feel God leading me toward such and such". It sounds unfathomable. But I do feel it, and I don't know how else to describe it.

And just last night, I had another one. I used to feel compelled to share right away - usually with Jermaine. And let's just say he didn't always share my enthusiasm. It's gotten better. Now, I can sometimes hold off telling people for a whole day.

I had no intention of blogging this - up until I started typing. Let me see . . . where should I start?

I was just rereading some of my old blogs and it occurred to me that I haven't really spoken a lot about what's been going on in my life. I mean, I've written a lot about the stuff I'm doing, but not the emotional backdrop. And I find that odd because it's been such a big deal to me. Hmm, I guess I'll have to back up a bit.

Here's the basic story I find myself in:

Last year - 2009 - was difficult (to say the least). Jermaine got laid off and I didn't take it so well. I was majorly depressed. And I didn't realize it right away. It wasn't until I took on 19 credit hours that it hit me that something was not right. And at that point, there was nothing I could do but flail and work relentlessly to keep up with my horrendous schedule. On top of that, we were dealing with some colossal money problems and as the year came to an end, it dawned on us that our lease was about to be up and we were stuck - we couldn't afford to stay and we couldn't afford to rent another place (unemployment is not considered income and you must have an income to rent).

Around that time I started the whole 31 days of Spiritual Disciplines. It was a God-sent in many ways. Also, some very new friends from our church approached us and asked if we wanted to come live in their house with them. It was such an unexpected miracle!

And, of course, (finally!) the Semester from Hell ended, and I could breathe again. Our money issues had subsided in some ways and, although Jermaine still had not had any luck finding work, I was starting to feel more at peace.

And then, we went to Charlotte for Christmas vacation. An odd series of events led me to an odd series of epiphanies. My friend, Amie, Jermaine, my mom and I all went out for coffee and while we sipped Jermaine explained to Amie what it was he was trying to do musically.

It's hard to flesh out, and I feel I never tell it right, but I'll try anyhow. Basically, he and this guy (his friend, and company partner), Mika, have been working on producing amazing quality music since about 2004. They have evolved over time and they are both incredibly talented. They need artists, and until recently they have not had much luck in that department. But, in the past 6 months or so, they started working with a singer/song-writer (whom they've worked with in the past) - a woman who most definitely matches them talent-wise. They had a song, and I thought it was amazing. But they're all ridiculous perfectionists and so they're entirely reworking it. They're also working on some other stuff - a website, getting radio play, etc. And things are starting to really come together. They're not looking for super-stardom - they just want to be able to make a living doing what they love. And Jermaine believes that God is going to use them in amazing ways. I think so, too.

Like I said, he's telling Amie all this, and afterward, after Amie has left, my mom exclaims how moved she was, listening to him, the way his eyes lit up. This is about the time that I had one of my epiphanies.

Ahhh, but this blog is getting too long. And, I'm sure you have other things to do. So, I'll end on a suspenseful note and finish it later. ;)

(honey nut) Cheerio!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Journey to India

Hi! Thanks for reading this! I'm going to try to keep it short. It will be the first of a LOT of notes/blogs/emails/letters I'll be writing regarding India. And it will hopefully cover all the basic stuff.

As you may have heard, I'm going to India!!

THIS summer, in fact.

I'll be leaving July 30th (a Friday) and I'll be coming back around Sunday, August 15th.

It is NOT a mission trip.

The organization I'm going with - Made By Survivors (also called The Emancipation Network) - is an anti-human trafficking organization. You can check out TEN and more about what human trafficking is at this site -

Our basic agenda -

- We'll have breakfast and a planning meeting everyday at 8:30am.
- Next, we'll go in groups to visit different shelters each day. At the shelters we will interact with the kids there and "divide our undivided attention evenly among the kids". Each volunteer is responsible for putting together/bringing games, projects and other fun things to do with the children.
- At the end of each day we have some free time - keeping in mind that we want to get to bed early to be refreshed for the next day.

We'll be there for two weeks and during the weekend that falls in between those two weeks (which just happens to be my birthday weekend!) there is an optional vacation trip to Goa, India (a beachy resort type place).

The total cost for the trip will end up being somewhere between $3500 and $4000.

Ooh, that's where you come in (hopefully!).

I am going to attempt to raise at least the entire cost of my trip. Any extra money that I raise will go to The Emancipation Network. Last year, someone raised $10,000. And these funds are crucial to the existence of the amazing shelters they provide.

Incredibly, the morning after I found out I was going to India, I woke up to a text - dear friends/family pledging $500.

I was blown away.

I have this strong sense that this is a God thing and that God will provide completely for this trip. I'm excited to send out letters and emails and tell people about this journey. But, no worries if you can't help me out with the fundraising aspect. Can you pray? Even if you don't consider yourself a "religious" person (especially if you don't, actually). Because I'm willing to bet that prayer is probably more essential than money.

If you want to donate a financial gift, great! If you just got your taxes back, even better! ;) I'm in the process of setting up a PayPal button so you can donate a dollar (or more) with a couple clicks of your mouse. If you prefer to send a check, let me know so that I can email you my address.

I'll be sending letters/emails out in the next week or so. If you prefer one over the other, let me know.

Thanks again, for taking the time to read this. Your support means a great deal to me.

Friday, April 9, 2010

San Francisco Reflections

Sooo, I was supposed to blog while I was on the trip . . . but, I never got around to it.

Er, well, you know what they say!

Here are some reflections. It was an intense and wonderful trip. Our group was great - and small - so we all got to know each other pretty well. :) San Francisco is BEAUTIFUL. I'm so thankful I got a chance to go - it was definitely an opportunity of a lifetime.

This is what our week looked like:

On Monday we went to do some community organizing. I had some issues with it because we were wading in very political waters. I'm not a hugely political person. I understand that we need politicians, and since I know I wasn't cut out to be one, I am incredibly grateful for people who do feel called into that arena. But, having said that, I didn't sign up for this trip to rep a particular partisan agenda, and I felt uncomfortable doing so.

Additionally, before that day, I'd never heard of the organization that we were supposed to be advocating for. In the past, I've found myself in sticky situations where I was selling something I wasn't necessarily buying. I felt that I didn't have enough information - and I was very wary.

I voiced my concern - and I know I wasn't the only one who felt that way. Still, I participated in the actual community organizing later in the day (my group talked to people outside a supermarket). I have to say, I was surprised and touched by how receptive people in the community were. They seemed to genuinely want and need the help that this organization was offering.

Tuesday - We went to speak with the Chief of Probation, Donald Blevins, the Probation Director, Reggie Davis and Community Network Coordinator, Tony Crear. I thought it was really interesting and informative. I was very thankful that these busy guys took so much time away from their days to come and talk to us. Mr. Crear told us a little bit about his story - how he came to work for Almeda County - it was incredibly inspiring.

Wednesday - It was a fairly intense day. We saw a parole meeting that morning. I was moved to tears more than once. I don't remember the first speaker's name - but I will always remember his speech. He said he used to sit where newly freed men were sitting - and that he'd made the decision to do something different with his life. He told of how, earlier that week, his mother had passed away and the event had proved devastating - but - he was SO thankful that she passed away knowing that her son had made something of himself. He wanted the same for these guys. And we could tell that he meant it. All the speakers were so genuine. It was hard to believe and deeply inspiring to discover that they gave these same spiels EVERY week.

After the parole meeting we toured the brand new Almeda County Juvenile Hall facility. It was immaculate, crisp, state of the art, and haunting. I really felt for the kids that found themselves there. And I was moved by the passion that exuded from the people who worked there

Thursday was a much needed free day - I did some shopping that morning for souvenirs to bring home and then in the afternoon we all went to Alcatraz. It was (surprisingly) beautiful - and haunting as well, but in a much different way.

Friday - Oh, MAN - this was definitely the hardest day. We went to San Quentin. Before we went a lot of people were expressing how nervous/excited they felt about going. Personally, I was feeling kind of indifferent. I didn't fully grasp the intensity and meaning of this last leg of our journey and I was feeling very tired - living in the hostel for the week and being away from my husband and daughter had taken it's toll on me - I was starting to feel ready to go home.

So, as you can imagine, I hadn't prepared myself mentality (or emotionally) AT ALL for what we were about to experience. But from the moment we arrived I knew it was going to be more than I had originally bargained for. We had to go through two separate security checks. As we stood outside waiting to go through the second one, Mr. Crittendon pointed out death row and explained that we would not be able to go there, for obvious reasons. We were all a little relieved, I think.

After we all made it through the second security point, we walked over to the chapel as the gates closed behind us. It was eery, to say the least. In the chapel, we sat down with the teens who were a part of Real Choices - a group of boys who may have been vulnerable to becoming involved in gang activity. Our prisoner guides introduced themselves, directing their attention to the teenagers mostly. Some of them told us how they got there. Some had been there for 20-30+ years. In his introduction, one of the prisoners, explaining that before a person gets to the point of violence or a gang - there's a kind of catalyst. He asked us all what that might be. Then he posed this question, "How many of you have a father figure in your home?"

In our pew, every college kid's hand shot up. We sat behind the teens and watched . . . as nothing happened. Almost none of the teenagers could raise their hand. The illustration was vivid, remarkable, and really really sad. I felt angry at the world - at this illustration that some people are a lot more fortunate than others - and I tried (successfully for the moment) to hold back tears.

Later I did cry. It was hard, walking through the prison. When we walked by the prisoners in their cells, our prisoner guides would walk by our side for our protection. The psychology of that alone was almost impossible to wrap my mind around.

Our guides told us about heated racial tension, and the very real possibilities of being killed or being put in a position where you're forced to kill someone else. We ate prison food, which wasn't that bad until our guides informed us that it's what they ate EVERY single day. Mr. Crittendon told us about the amazing mural in the mess halls by Santos, a former prison and an insanely talented artist, who had hidden secrets in the walls.

The word that kept coming to my mind throughout the day: dehumanizing. The whole thing, it was crazy. And sad. Like, we treat the prisoners like animals and then we're surprised when they act like animals.

Our guides were AMAZING. I was moved by their stories. And I've found myself thinking about them often since I returned.

I walked away from San Quentin feeling like I had been changed in some kind of fundamental way. Not many people can or want to say that they visited San Quentin on their spring break, but I am ridiculously thankful that I can.

Vernell Crittendon, our guide and facilitator, was AWESOME. I loved getting to know him throughout the week. He, too, was a total inspiration. I'm so thankful that we got to meet him. He is truly a remarkable man.

Ha, I think that covers everything. Thanks for reading this lengthy blog. :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is risen, Indeed.

D'you ever have a dear friend whom you love deeply? And you go a while without talking to your friend on the phone. You want to call them. But there is just SO much to say! You put it off. You think, I'll call when I have time to really talk. Problem is, you are very busy, and that time never comes. Eventually you reach this point - you almost don't want to talk to your friend because there's just so much to discuss and frankly, you're embarrassed about how long it's been since you picked up the phone.

Yeah. That's how I feel about this blog.

I have about 4 unfinished, outdated drafts. I don't know where to start!

But, alas, it's Easter. Alleluia! He is risen!

He is risen, indeed.

I'm not going to write a long catch-up blog. I will, I promise. At some point. Or a couple of them. I'll write about my trip to San Francisco and my upcoming trip to INDIA.

But not today. Today is a day for pure undiluted celebration. And I wanted to share this with you.

Resurrection: Rob Bell from The Work of Rob Bell on Vimeo.

You can check out the script and download it yourself (and I think there's a discussion guide, too) on Rob Bell's website. The script is AMAZING. Jermaine found background music a little distracting. And I agree to a point. I'm not sure how long it'll be available. So, if you have a chance to watch it today, I would recommend doing that.

Thank you for reading my blog. Have a blessed Easter.

My prayer for you today . . .

Thank You, creative God, for creativity. For life and breath and blood and sweat and tears. Thank You for making everything all bloomy. Guide us, Spirit. Toward community and away from selfish desires to have it our way. I pray that each one of us may experience life's rich joy. That we may experience reality - the good God stuff - the way it actually is. Jesus, you are beautiful. And we are grateful. Thank You for loving us. Thank you teaching us how to love you and each other. Amen.

PS. Yesterday was the anniversary of the day Jermaine got laid off (still no job yet - but, again, updates coming soon). If you get a chance, check out my Easter entries from the past and Peter's Journal. Also (!!) check out my bestest's blog, Live With Laughter. She's quite amazing. :)