My plea for love like God's is that it gets broader and more transcendent and less like me, less boxy, less denominational, less logical and measured... more passionate, more graceful, more open, more extravagant and more COMPLETE. Just more.Read More
I've been leading worship in churches since the early 90's. I like to plan but I like to leave a little room too. You know, for God. For inspiration. For the room and the people in it. But sometimes it's hard to make that room and be sensitive to it. But today was one of those days.
Yesterday while driving out to south Charlotte to pick up my son from a CHOPPED (cooking show) themed sleepover at his buddy's house (such cool friends), the sun was shining and I was just processing the news. The images of airport protests and detained citizens and travelers. Snapshots of displaced Syrians. Mexican wall plans. Banned Muslims. The texts from friends of all different colors voicing fear of traveling for fear that their children would not be allowed back home. I was thinking about our Sunday morning gatherings, our communion table, my friend Cedric's message on embracing those left out in the cold by the church and the song just started. So I sang into into my phone. But only a verse and a half came out.
Then in church this morning listening to Cedric's moving message after leading worship with my friends, the rest of the song just came. So I jotted it in my phone, sitting there in the front room surrounded by a church full of friends. Some I know, some strangers. Some Bible believers and some on-the-fencers. Some gay some straight. Some black, white, brown, young, old, single, married, dating, divorced, separated. The song just poured out and what really could be better inspiration?
I decided it should be in the key of the next song and as we invited people to partake of the communion table, I laid my phone on the keyboard and sang this mostly spontaneous song. One that began in the car yesterday morning and had never been played, rehearsed or worked through. But the moment seemed right and God seemed just a bit thicker there.
I've just got to bow out of the social media debates as fretfully drawn to them I may be. I need to be "practicing for heaven" as we tell our kids and remind myself that heaven is borderless and wall-less. Chock full of Syrians and Mexicans. Welcoming and wider than we can wrap our minds around. And I want to practice well now.
Longer tables not higher fences, friends. God shed His grace on everyone. Every. That's literally all I really know right now.
Once a month, one of the staff members of our church, Watershed, writes a post for our blog for a series called POUR OVER. It's sort of a "what would we say to you face to face over a great cup of coffee if we had the chance" kind of conversation. This month, I wrote our November (and very first) POUR OVER and wanted to share it with you. It's something that's been kind of brewing in me for quite some time but something that I shared back in October on a Sunday (the video) in one of our church gatherings.
HERE IS THE POST. I hope it brings some healing your way this season.
Here's what I know for sure and is my 3rd little #40at40 bomb I want to drop on you:
Faith is complicated, God is unfathomable and I've never held the answer...I just make overtures toward having a relationship with the Almighty.
A few years ago our church was doing a series I was invited to name which we called FAREWELL ALBATROSS (you can listen here - episodes 112-120). It was a teaching series all about letting go of baggage, embracing a whole relationship with God and realizing that from the beginning of humanity we have looked at God through a contractual lens rather than a covenantal one as He has extended to us. That one point alone was the impetus for writing this song and my good friend and one of my favorite musicians, Matt Shaughnessy played it with me at our show at The Muse a few summers ago.
Watershed is celebrating it's 10th anniversary in September and I'm thinking maybe Matt and I can revive this song that day (what do you think, Watershed/Charlotte friends?). I have questioned many things the past few years.
But I if I could tell you one thing about God it's that He's an evening walks in the garden, long talks over coffee, water-wine revising just to prolong the feast kind of God.
He wants to be with you. Really. Where you are in what you're doing on all the other days but Sunday too.
Also, this video definitely spurred me on to add yoga to my exercise regimen. Arms don't seemed to get toned while running I guess (regretting the sleeveless shirt while playing keys. That's another #40at40 post, perhaps?). Thank you Courtney for your constant encouragement and for booking us at The Muse that evening and to all the friends and family who filled the room...it was magical.
INK & BLOOD | Taryn Hofert 2013
I am bottom lines.
And signatures on dotted lines.
And contracts that bind.
You’re evening walks in a Garden
Long talks over coffee
Water-Wine revising just to prolong the feast.
I am ink and You are blood
I am lines and You are love
Still You fold Yourself into this caged heart
I’m the ancient mariner
with albatross neck-bound
And even with the blade in hand
I cannot cut the rope
You’re the Noose Unloosener
Bird like lead sinks in the sea
You think grace is never wasted on a captive heart like me
I am ink and You are blood
I am lines and You are love
Still You fold Yourself into this caged heart
I am fixated on boundaries
I am no forest and all trees.
Pedestrian, and questioning and rushing through the meal
You’re an Unrequited Lover
Unencumbered by my numbness
Unrelenting despite rejection and my disbelief.
I am ink and You are blood
I am lines and You are love
Still You fold Yourself into this caged heart
So, not all of the things my 40 year old self would tell my much younger self are life-changing, epiphanic wisdom bombs. But if I'm older than you and you're reading this or, no matter your age, if you're planning on getting married and/or starting a new life with someone,
let me share this one very essential little nugget with you that no one shared with me:
Back in the year 2000 I was in love and newly engaged and excitedly hit the stores with a very unenthused- to-be-registering, minimalist fiancé to scan gun the daylights out of home essentials for our wedding registry. Weddings have changed a lot since Y2K and honestly, for the better.
I salute you, barn wedding having, non-tux renting, cooler people with digital wedding albums. None of that was around back then so we had it all: the over posed non-digital photos, the red rose bouquets instead of a handful of wheat and artichokes, audrey hepburn gloves for inexplicable reasons, the formal attire and unity candle, yada yada. I wouldn't change any of it because it was beautiful day, we were surrounded by friends and family, I married THE ONE and everything about it screams the era in which we were married (which will give our boys something to tease us about for decades to come). I mean, at 5 ft. tall maybe I could have worn a little puffier dress and veil? Ok, maybe I'd change that....
If I had that scan gun (or mouse) in my hand today, I'd scan much differently. So please, younger and/or soon to be married friends, learn from our mistakes. Since it's Spring, and wedding bells are in the air, and both my sister and sister-in-law are booked solid through the end of summer, please take note of point 2 on my list of 40 things I've learned at 40:
2. REGISTER FOR NEUTRAL TOWELS (and plates, while you're at it)
I don't care if your bathroom pinterest board is chevron, charcoal and jadeite...I'm telling ya, think of the future you, in your bathroom and don't fall for the classic blunder. I thought we nailed it with our sage and salmon selections circa early 2000's combo (see our linen cabinet photo above) and now, as I fold those blasted sage and salmon towels weekly (or pick them up off the floor because my sons are immune to hanging them up after showering) I want to go back in time and scan my own eyeballs. The towels are nice. They're good quality. They've held up for almost 15 years so we have a hard time justifying replacing them. But they're so so dumb.
Pretend like you're dressing for a safari and then choose towels in the shade of the pants you'd wear on said safari. A nice pale camel color. A subtle linen gray. Imagine a honey caramel Indiana Jones hat and scan THOSE towels. And let me tell you something: don't fall for stark white no matter how awesome they look next to white subway tile in the west elm catalog: you'll think you can bleach them but they'll only fade to a sad yellow with mascara stains and Lord knows what else in a few years. Go click on that killer egyptian cotton, non-attention drawing, thick, absorbent neutrally shaded towel and enjoy it for years to come in every bathroom, through every trend, in the laundry basket, on the floor, next to every shower curtain. Trust me. This is a mountain I'll die on.
Emily Henderson, as always, has good advice on this as well. For years engaged couples have had hopes of people just giving them honeymoon funds. Or gift cards. But most people want to leave that stuff up to you and want to possibly give you something you can enjoy for years to come- something wedding gifty. And if you don't point them in a general direction then inevitably they will give you crystal. The kind of crystal you never wanted, like heart shaped crystal wedding frames or obviously re-gifted lavender colored pillar candles. Even if you register they're still going to give you those things (or at least they did in 2001) but you might actually score a few killer bath towels that you'll have to look at for a long time and might still like.
CREATE A CANVAS RATHER THAN MAKE A BIG STATEMENT
I guess what I'm trying to say is that if people are going to spend money on you, the things you'll still love, keep, use and appreciate will most likely be the very classic, basic things you chose. My now husband was so disinterested by the wedding registry process he proceeded to scan every wall clock he could find (none of which we still have or still work) and our first condo looked like we were running a clock shop after our wedding- even in the half bath, we knew what time it was. We registered for most things at Target and a few things from a nice store (Crate & Barrel) that we worried, back in the days when people didn't really shop online, most people would not be able to access. And while we were so appreciative of people throwing us showers and giving us gifts we became a little overwhelmed in all that registering and ended up with choosing a lot of quantity over quality. A lot of wall clocks and who knows whats. You can actually tell a lot about a couple by their registry. He loves keeping time, I love salmon and sage apparently.
GUESS WHICH THINGS WE STILL HAVE?
When I reach in our cabinet for our set of champagne flutes from Crate & Barrel that our good friends and co-workers Amy & Norma gave us, I think of them and toast to them and their thoughtfulness and friendship. From the photo you can tell a few fell victim to our over exuberant toasting. When we serve dinner nightly to our family on the very basic white diner style plates, also from Crate & Barrel, that my wise college roommate Amber urged me to select (she also helped me choose the puffy dress, but ya win some ya lose some) I can imagine us continuing to share meals on them (with all the chips and scratches) for life. Instead of scanning so many wall clocks and getting carried away in the towel department, making a super basic but long haul kind of list would have served us much better. So what if we had to flip burgers with a fork and didn't get 4 spatulas....one full nice set of 8 million thread count sheets would rock. Quality over quantity. Basic over bold in the beginning. Foundations.
But really, this is about much more than wedding bell paper wrapped gifts and cabinet filling and wedding planning. Everything is spiritual. As Rob likes to say "This isn't always about this". Your home, no matter how humble, out of style or hip, rented or owned, is sacred. And you are beginning to create a sacred space...TOGETHER.
MY MOTHER IN LAW'S HOUSE IS COMPLETELY STARK WHITE Not just white person white, yes, that, but I mean like white carpet, white sofas, white walls- white everything, white. The first time she poured me a glass of cabernet there I was afraid to drink it inside. But the reason she loves the snowy color palette is that each season she adds a different accent color to the house. A springy set of throw pillows and flowers in April, kelly green taper candles on her fireplace and coordinating hand knitted blankets over the backs of chairs and sofas to match in the winter. Yes, she's Martha Stewart, not intimidating at all. (She's also one of the top selling realtors in Charlotte so she knows a thing or two about making a home more inviting). What I found very shockingly stark the first time I saw it I now view as pretty genius because it allows her to reinvent her space, express herself and make it new and exciting throughout the year. Although I'm still afraid to sip vino in her living room I love the versatility and variety the environment she has created offers....
THE FIRST FEW YEARS OF MARRIAGE CAN FEEL VANILLA And guess, what? That's ok. You're most likely doing something really right if it does... It can feel like all power bills and grocery lists and toothpaste tube debates. Perhaps it even feels a little sterile and nothing like you both imagined. But with every argument you work through and every counseling session you make the effort to attend together you are stretching and sweating to build that blank canvas. You can do this. And at only 14 years of marriage we are learning that the most romantic, most heart stopping and amazing moments haven't been found in our wedding album, exotic vacations or times when anyone was around to capture them.... they were on a Thursday, in our first year of marriage, when I spent the night on the bathroom floor because my birth control pills sent me there and awoke in the morning to find Scott had brought in pillows and spent the night there with me. Or on a hot summer's Michigan evening when we laughed (and almost cried) ourselves to sleep on a mattress in the basement of an old fixer upper that needed so much work we couldn't even live in it for months and wondered together what on earth we had gotten ourselves into as we stared at the spiderwebby floorboards and water pipes above our heads. Or one early morning over coffee when we heard our younger son with a speech delay actually say a few words strung together that made sense. No one else was there. There are no photographs of that moment. And we welled up with tears and raised our coffee mugs in a toast. And that toast wouldn't have happened without the basement dwelling and bathroom floor sleeping. It's incremental. It's bland before bold. It's a slow, slow burn, baby. I think if we spent more time on canvas construction than statement making in the early years more marriages would survive...
I'll leave you with this, one of Jack Handey's deep thoughts:
If you ever teach a yodeling class, probably the hardest thing is to keep the students from just trying to yodel right off. You see, we BUILD to that.
Stretch that canvas and embrace it's vanilla-ness. For the love of all things, don't register for bold colored/print towels. And take your sweet time before you try to yodel. This is what I shall write in every wedding card from henceforth.
Now, who wants to trade some sage and salmon Target bath towels for some caramel colored fluffy ones?
I turned the big 4-0 on Valentine's Day. In honor of this over-the-hill milestone, I'd like to share 40 things I've learned on this often awkward, very enlightening and not always the wisest but fulfilling journey of mine.
1. BE SEASONALLY SENSITIVE
Most of us fall into one of two categories: monochrones or polychrones.
No, I'm not making up these terms. They're real.
- Do one thing at a time
- View time commitments as critical
- Are committed to jobs (projects and tasks)
- Adhere religiously to plans and dislike changes
- Emphasize promptness, always
- Are accustomed to short-term relationships
- Do many things at once and are highly distractible
- View time commitments as objectives
- Are committed to people and relationships
- Change plans often
- Base promptness on the significance of the relationship
- Built for long-term relationships
When I first discovered these terms about eight years ago it was as if someone made a Venn diagram out of my marriage. NOW I GET IT. He's a mono and I'm a poly. Our google calendars sync into a painful color coded irritation soup for him. He has been planning for retirement since he was eleven and I'm still trying to figure out what shade of greige to paint the bathroom.
And if, like me, you're a polychrone, you most likely experience failure to transition.
Not just transitioning from sleeping to jumping out of bed. Like transitioning from being someone with a career and a full-time to job to perhaps, a stay at home mom or part-time employee or maybe even someone now unemployed. Like being single after being in a long term relationship. Like watching your kids get on the bus and realizing the baby days are behind you and feeling (ahem...let me swallow this massive lump in my throat) nostalgic, paralyzed and a even a little bit frozen. Adele Nazeem.
Yeah, me too.
And now, fourteen years into marriage, my monochrone husband shares with me that I'm not alone in my struggle. Because even though he is forward thinking and transitions with greater ease, monos struggle with thinking so much about what's next that they miss right now. All the planning eats up the present.
Monos are moving ahead, polys get stuck behind: but no one is in the RIGHT HERE & NOW.
And that, my friends, is what I want to remind you to do. To be present where you are right now and really embrace it. In all of its uncomfort or comfort. There's no room for dualism when it comes to our time: monos and polys must unite and become one. Become a presentchrone (now I really am making stuff up) by putting down your phone and shutting your laptop and setting aside your worry and self-consumption for long enough to chase your kids around the house when they get off the bus today. Or to wrap your arms around the one you love when you wake up tomorrow morning. To make more memories than scrapbooks. Eat the strawberries while it's summer and do the things you can only do right now that you can't do another time- because you don't get this time of singleness or newlywedness or new parentness or teenagerness or retirementness or even recent grievingness or whatever it is that you're in back...so really, really be in it.
Quite a few years ago we started a family tradition of customized, time consuming themed birthday parties for our boys. Not rent out the roller rink kind of shindigs, but the homemade kind that pretty much celebrate the "big thing" the boys were really into that year. Except that I'm not the most pinteresting. From Green Lantern to violins, to WIPEOUT, to Eragon- there have been elaborate games and snacks and costumes and themes that sort of outline all their little passions in their seven and ten years. Why did we start this and how do we make it stop? I blame my creative mother, party waiting to happen father and photographer sister for all of this. My favorite memory of one of the boys' extravaganzas involved my husband in a Gryffindor tie, Harry Potter glasses and shorts all alone at our neighborhood park setting up a Hogwarts scavenger hunt for eight very excited party goers while random park goers gave him bizarre worrisome looks. Last year my just turning seven year old, Keane, chose the theme of Samukai. No, I didn't know who it was either, but just so you know, he's a lego ninja and we spent the sleepover with bandana clad mini ninjas chopping airborne marshmallows with plastic swords while we bid farewell to all the Samukainess of age six to then usher in a new year. It was sweet, it was sticky and it was a blast.
I'm a terrible transitioner. I'm painfully poly. And sometimes sentimentality and sensitivity actually cause me to miss out on the beauty that's happening in this very hour under today's sky. I constantly am reminded of something one of my boys' favorite Montessori teachers asked us as parents to do for our children:
"Give them 10 minutes of eye-to-eye contact along with your undivided attention every day".
You know what's sad? It's freaking HARD to do. And I'll be tucking them into bed and night and realize, we never did it. But it's not too late. Honey, tell me more about your day. What was the best part? What exactly are you building with all those legos scattered on the floor? And while my heart refills after sinking that I missed out on doing something so simple and meaningful that day, I'm continually reminded... it's never too late.
I think about this with God often. What does 10 minutes of eye-to-eye contact with Him look like? What does it look like for you? Do you realize you never really made room for that right as you're falling asleep after a netflix bingewatch? Yeah, me too.
May you embrace your current season of life. May you maximize it. May you give those you love the daily Montessori 10 minutes they deserve. May you give the One Who Is Love your undivided attention. May you not miss the now because you were stuck in the days-of-yore past or the can't-wait-'til-then future.
Btw, I'm the "tall" ninja at the Samukai party. xo.