Thursday, October 31, 2013

All Hallow's Eve

image.jpegThis week, instead of concentrating on just one word, I want to just let my thoughts flow. My last post may have come off a bit… how do I say… complain-ey, and for that I am truly sorry. We all get a little down on ourselves or situations every now and again. However, now that my 4-week history class is over, I feel like such a weight is lifted from my shoulders. I am forever indebted to that class, though, because now I see clearly the history in my daily life and the impact that history has on all of us. 


Since it is so close to Halloween, I thought I would research its history. I stumbled upon this ( article and it astonished me. It’s kind of funny how you think you know things, but really you have absolutely NO clue about them! As a child I never knew the history of Halloween, nor did I care to find out. I was more concerned about getting the most amount of candy that I possibly could and convincing my parents to let me eat it-in its entirety-that night. Oh, to be young again. 

Kai's Halloween craft (and arm)
I was surprised to learn that it was originally a Celtic holiday which celebrated the changing of the season. They also believed that this was the time when the border between the physical and the spiritual world was at its thinnest and they celebrated the lives of the people that had passed that year. I thought that part in particular was so cool. We celebrate peoples’ lives at their funeral, but I thought it would be really interesting to celebrate them again on another day in the year.
Granny and Kai picking pumpkins

Claire mentioned in one of her previous posts a pastor named Nadia Bolz-Weber. She introduced me to the concept of human life being a continuous cycle of death and resurrection. She says that inevitably whenever she is doing what she thinks she knows to be best, God performs what she refers to as a “Divine heart transplant” and replaces her previous thoughts with what He knows to be best. I think we have all experienced this at some point, even if you don’t believe that it was God who was doing it.
For instance, when you think you don’t have time to help someone and start to walk away, but something in your heart tells you to go back and help anyways. Or when you are so mad at someone that you want to call them every four-letter word you can think of, but instead something deep inside you helps you to let go of the negativity and forgive.  These are our own personal deaths and resurrections.

Kai as Einstein last year
This Halloween, I want all of us to have fun. Let’s capture the spirit of Halloween that children seem to cling to so naturally, but somehow along the way, we adults forget that the magic of holidays is still applicable to us, too. Enjoy the family time, eat some festive treats, have some cider, have fun decorating, and be as present as humanly possible. Let’s celebrate the people we have in our worlds AND the people that have passed on. Celebrate yourself, but also celebrate the deaths and resurrections that this year may have brought you. You are the most perfect version of yourself that you possibly can be at this very moment, so enjoy that and embrace this ever-so-fleeting life. Oh, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oxygen Mask

"It's kind of like when you're on a plane... They tell you that in case of an emergency to put the oxygen on yourself first, rather than your child (or whoever). It seems counter intuitive because you want to help people in their time of need, but if you pass out you can't help anyone. Ya know?"


I've said it before and I'll say it again because I am still trying to get this order to love others well you must take time to love yourself well. It's so simple it's the hardest thing in the world. Let's all try, just once more...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tiny dot
Today, my worries and concerns seemed really big, all encompassing, churning inside me and keeping me from being able to do and be who I am. I have felt exhausted and overwhelmed. I even had a sore throat from burning the candle from all ends while I cope through the uncertianity that is piled on my plate.

Then my mom sent me this image. Suddenly, my problems seem small. Smaller than small, actually...they are so tiny in the cosmic vasteness of this created universe that perhaps they are not even problems at all. Maybe in the grand and enormous scheme of all things alive and unknown, I don't even have any problems.

Perhaps, you don't either.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Communion isn't bread and wine

Christians have spent a lot of time making bread and wine something holy over the last 20 centuries. Its pretty weird when you actually stop and think about how Holy Communion became what it is today in our churches. 

For those of you who are not aware, Communion or Eucharist is that time during a worship service where Christians will go forward or be served a bite of bread and a shot of wine (or grape juice) to remember Jesus Christ's sacrifice of body and flesh when he died on the cross for our salvation. We remember that we are given new life because of him.

I love communion. I was born of a very mystical father who adored Holy Eucharist and modeling this wonder to everyone who participated in the ritual with him. I have always found that communion is an intimately awesome part of worship when the participants are intentional and reverent.

I still get teary when I see a host of people heading up to the table and watching pastors and elders look folks in the eye saying "This is Christ's body broken for you, Claire..." However, as much as I love and believe that the purpose of this ritual is to do what Jesus commanded us to do (which is to REMEMBER him), I can't help but wonder if we have boxed this idea in a little too tightly. 

The more that I have learned and the more time I have spent studying the history, theology and tradition behind communion, the more I am convinced that our Lord must giggle to himself each time we set this grand processional of elements into motion.

Jesus created the Lord's Supper the night he was with the Disciples in Jerusalem for Passover (the Holy Seder meal still kept by the Jews). The Passover meal was a traditional MEAL served and eaten by practicing Jews for their families to remember Moses and the great Exodus out of Egypt. They remember all that God has and will continue to provide for his people. In fact, it is symbolic of the journey and the last meal that the Israelites were eating during the final plague when the Angel of Death took the lives of the first borns from families who did not have the blood of the lamb on their door posts. So, Jesus is in this upper room with all of his bros eating the Passover meal just like all good Jews would and should have been doing at the time. 

Did you catch that this was a meal? All food groups were represented, there was chatting, lounging, he washed every one's feet. We are talking hospitality, hosting, serving, passing the food, talking about God, laughing, singing, and hanging out together. In short, I like to think of this as a time of communing with one another. 

Communing with God.



Jesus told the Disciples a lot of life changing, important stuff that night. They argued over who was the best or his favorite. They found out he was going to be killed and then come back to life again. They realized that Judas was going to betray Jesus. Peter made a promise that he would never abandon Jesus (which he broke). Jesus promised he would never be lost to them because he would leave with them (and all of us) the Spirit (Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth, Counselor, Friend, Advocate, whatever you want to call it). This was a really good meal that Jesus's community shared together. It was also a meal that honored God and an ancient tradition laid down by the forefathers.

In worship on Sunday mornings, it seems a little diluted now to sit in the pew and wait for an usher to invite you forward to receive a small hunk of bread and a taste of wine to remember Jesus. 

I have vivid memories of (as Preacher's kid) waiting on Dad after worship and nibbling on bread and sipping grape juice that was still sitting on the communion table. I would take my finger and trace the carving on the side of the table that read "This DO in Remembrance of me."

Do this in remembrance of me. 

Jesus said that when we take a cup and take bread we should remember him and all that he has done for us. Think about that. 

Just like all the unlikely chosen people of scripture, Jesus chose these ordinary, everyday, mundane elements to become conductors of our remembering his life and love. 

What I hear Jesus telling us, as he sits at a full table communing with his very best friends over a meaningful, traditional, and hearty meal, is that when we gather together, eat, and drink he is there too. When we commune together, we commune with his very Spirit. We become his very life living and whole. 

That is not just 5 minutes at the end of worship when everyone eats a tasteless wafer and takes a half shot of Welches. 

This is dinner with your family.

This is lunch with your co-workers.

This is a break over coffee.

This is having a beer with your friends.

This is sitting in staff meeting.

This is hosting a party.

This is celebrating a birthday.

This is sitting around a bon fire roasting marshmallows.

This is a deep 1am discussion over wine.

This is jamming on your back porch with your neighbor who brought over his guitar.

This is lounging around your living room talking about the meaning of life.


Communion that we practice in worship has become a symbol of the communion we are called to live into in each and every moment of our lives as followers of Christ. This Spirit that binds us all together is living fully in community. Where three or more are gathered together, Jesus is there also.

When we commune together, we commune with God. Our ordinary, mundane, common as bread and wine lives, are the communion that we invest, ingest and embrace in so fully that in all that we do, we become the LIVING memory of Jesus Christ himself.

THAT is communion. THIS is our calling. This is what fills my life to overflowing.

This is the cup of salvation.

Take. Eat.

Thanks be to God.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Put it all in your mouth!

I have inherited a few pet peeves. Just like with all thoughts and behaviors, I have the power to change these prejudices and I confess, I may be past this particular one at this point. Be that as it may, I still want to share one of my peeves with you for the purpose of today's topic. I do not appreciate picky eating.

I was raised by parents who expected that I should eat everything in front of me. It was made very clear to me as a child that there would be no food that I was allowed to turn my nose up at, especially without trying it first. I have a very vivid memory of being about 5 years old and gagging down steamed squash at the dinner table. I was crying and had been sitting there for what I remember as hours (though it probably was only a few minutes) protesting my parents unwavering demand that I should eat all of my squash before I could be excused. I ate it. I was alone at the table and almost swallowed them whole to get them down so I could go play.

I love squash now, by the way.

As kids growing up in our household, the expectation went even further than to simply try all your food, eat all your food, or clean your plate. All of those things applied, but my parents took it to another level. We were meant to do all of those things THEN kiss mom on the cheek and thank her for our meal. She worked full time and so did Dad and we still always had a home-cooked meal on the table. We understood very early that the food on our table was a gift that we would thank God for before each meal. Then we would thank Mom for taking the time to prepare it for us.

As a child, sometimes this was annoying. Now that I am grown, I want to slap my hands on the table and yell a resounding "THANK YOU!" to my parents for teaching me this incredible lesson in life.

It has only been in resent years that I have let go of the annoyance towards people who refused to try new foods or tell me the long list of very basic vegetables that they refuse to eat. I've stopped grimacing when I suggest eating at a Thai restaurant or trying Ethiopian food when I watch my companions eyes widen as a look of fear and disgust wrinkled into their foreheads as they resist my suggestions. Now, I don't try to change everyone around me into being open minded eaters but I still do pressure them to at least taste something new. Most people oblige me in that for which I am thankful.

Food is such a gift. In the States we have this amazing opportunity to not just eat three meals a day but to actually decide WHAT type of food we want to put in our bodies. We have the luxury of cravings, of eating out, of not finishing our leftovers and of course, of being picky.

When we are developing babies, we spend several months of our lives literally exploring the world with our mouths. We tasted everything! When do we stop doing that?

Being able to sit down at any table in any part of the world and partake of food with company is magical. It is such freedom to travel with a group of friends who excitedly dip their hands into a pot of porrage in Africa. It is awesome to go to a lunch meeting and devour suschi with a co-worker. It is so much fun to enjoy the presentation of the tofu bean bowl or the vegan lasagna that was just artfully laid in front of me. No matter what your moral decesions are around food, my call to arms today is that you just TRY new foods. Just taste them.

There are so many things that people choose to fear in this world and there are so many circumstances where fear based around eating is legitimate. However, in most cases, fear in the USA sitting over a giant helping of anything is probably a waste of time and life experience.

Food, to me, is a small adventure. The flavors melting together, the colors, the presentation, the cooking process... I love taking whatever we happen to have in the apartment and make something delicious from it. Tonight, I created the most wonderful meal of potatoes, onions, Thai curry paste, Indian curry powder, sweet chili sauce, milk, eggs and garlic all added to corn tortillas and sprinkled with flax seed. I already know half of you just visibly cringed.

As my Papa used to declare, I am here to say that my meal tonight was "DAMN good!"

This is just the point. God has created us with senses that truly allow us to experience this world to its absolute fullest. How in the world would we dampen that experience by refusing to eat certain foods or fearing new dishes? Why would anyone take a gift like this ability to explore AND enjoy our sense of taste and bind it (and essentially yourself) with fear.

Food is necessary. Food is flavorful. Food is art. Food is an adventure. I hope you don't miss it. Put it all in your mouth and just discover what this world tastes like. You just might like it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Touching Strangers

This clip is from a story that was featured on CBS News. Photographer Richard Renaldi has been shooting a project called "Touching Strangers" for 6 years. The beauty of this project brought tears to my eyes. This beauty doesn't seem to come just from the photography but the connection that is made between the strangers who posed for the shoot. Richard takes total strangers off the street and poses them together as friends or family. It is amazing to hear how just by standing in positions of care or love they seem to experience it with one another. I think this is one very small example of an enormous reality. Take a look...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Spoken Word Poetry

                  Marvelous beauty. Words. Words. Words. Enjoy! by Sarah Kay

Friday, October 18, 2013


Originally, I was writing this post about a different word entirely. However, the word ubiquity came across my path and I immediately felt drawn to write about it this week. The dictionary defines ubiquity as “presence everywhere or in many places especially simultaneously.” Currently, this is exactly how I feel… everywhere all at once.

Anyone with children, especially small children, will tell you that it is no walk in the park. Completely rewarding? Yes. Leisurely? Definitely not. My day starts by attempting to make a nutritious breakfast (that my son will actually eat), while simultaneously explaining the various reasons why he should not touch the stove. We approach health as holistically as possible, so in an attempt to be preventative in regards to our health, I have to manage to get a multivitamin, activated folic acid, a probiotic, a fish oil, vitamin d, and iron all into this first meal. To say that getting him to take all of these supplements is a challenge would be the understatement of the year.

After that, I try to get some chores done, while Kai is playing with his toy of choice. I usually get a solid 10 minutes-if that-of work done before I hear that precious voice asking, “hold you?” meaning he wants me to hold him. We play and I try to concentrate on teaching him new things, playing to his strengths, and keeping my composure as he empties an entire jar of buttons (or any number of things) onto the floor for the third time that day.

While my little angel is napping, I am catching up on laundry, dishes, sweeping, and my own school work. I try to make a healthy lunch for myself, but usually as soon as I blink my time has elapsed and the little man is awake and ready for more cuddles. I have been trying to get my health under control, so I also have to fit in five healthy meals and a workout between all of my other obligations.

Oh and did I mention school? I am in school Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday right now, with my Saturday and Sunday classes five hours long each day.

Then there’s my husband; My patient, kind, supportive, calm-as-a-cucumber husband. He truly is the yin to my yang. He is so incredibly understanding and helpful. Even with his help and support, though, I always feel like I am spread too thin. I feel ubiquitous…

After all, how can you really be present and grateful and immersed in all the joys and blessings of life while you are trying to continually be everything for everybody? I feel like I am constantly trying to be an influential mother, a stellar wife, a straight-A student, a thoughtful daughter, a fitness guru, a master chef, an unwavering friend, and an immaculate housekeeper all at once. It’s not fair to the people in my life and it’s not fair to me, either.

Honestly, this blog helps to inspire me to be the best version of me that I can be. Reading everyone’s stories truly makes me stop and think about what it is I am doing and how I can improve upon my daily habits. Many times, we get so caught up in being so ubiquitous, that we forget to slow down and be present. My intention this week is to take it day by day and truly enjoy the beautiful life I have been given. What are you grateful for presently? Do you ever feel like you are spread too thin? What do you do to remedy that feeling and become more centered and focused on the beauty in your life? Have a great week everyone!!




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

3 years and some change...

This blog post was written and created by my friend Angela. Enjoy!
Here’s the thing: I don’t really like change. Transitions can be just, meh. I also don’t like stagnancy. So where does that leave you? It leaves you feeling somewhat resistant and hesitant to both step forward and be fully present in the journey that is life. My control issues run deep and my journey of surrender goes farther back than I can probably remember; but surrender gives way to joyful anticipation, trust, and ultimately Peace. A few weeks ago, my pastor used an example of life being like a trapeze act: if you keep holding on to the 1st fly bar, you not only miss the moment (of moving on to the 2nd fly bar), but you begin to swing backwards. This is where my tendency to want to control things, figure my life out, etc. leaves me.

About 5 years ago, I was housesitting for a family that moved to China for a year, living with 2 of my best friends, Tatum and Whitney. I’ll never forget the day when Tatum and I were sitting on the kitchen counters, her listening to me ramble on with the age-old question “what am I going to do with my life??”…we were recent college graduates, in transition, and coming to grips with what we were going to do to make the world more awesome, in the words of Kid President. I was debating whether or not to start the process of applying to physical therapy (PT) school, which would include me taking 4 more pre-req classes and the GRE, not to mention the lengthy application process itself. I was hesitant, as per uge, but then Tatum said something that has continued to shape the way I view the unknown today: “Well, you like science-y things, you like people and helping people…just keep going until you get a red light.”

And that’s exactly what I did. I just kept going. The process itself took 2 years of working part- and then full-time as a PT Tech, taking those 4 awesome (not) physics and chem classes, taking the GRE (twice), applying to 3 different schools, interviewing at those 3 schools, and as the good Lord would have it, being accepted to all 3 schools. No red lights whatsoever. Naturally, I wanted to go back to UNC – not just because that’s where I went to college, but because the students that were in the program raved about the faculty, how much it felt like a family, and how much they loved it.

Enter 2010. The beginning of the 3 most challenging/awesome years of my life thus far. It is nearly impossible to briefly re-cap my experiences over those years, but here are some fun facts in list-form (and honestly, making this list helps me remember and be grateful for the journey):

I have dissected an entire human being – I have cut a body in half, both ways (this is called a hemipelvectomy). I have held the human heart and brain in my hands. And let me tell you friends, we are nothing short of miraculous. The more I’ve learned about our bodies, the way we heal, etc., the more I am in awe of our Creator.

Grad school is a time when people get engaged and married. Here’s the breakdown from my class:

26 students: 5 males, 21 females.

At the start of school: 2 males, already married with children. 2 females, married. 1 female, engaged.

At the end of school: 2 males, engaged. 7 females, engaged. 1 male with a new baby boy.

Grand total: 9 engagements, 8 weddings (thus far), and 1 child born…that’s a lot of life celebrated together, people.

Concerts/events attended: Tyler Lyle, So You Think You Can Dance tour, The Nutcracker (at least twice), Lucy Schwartz & The Civil Wars, Chapel Hill Jazz Festival, Brooke Fraser, Mumford & Sons, Bon Iver, Hillsong United, Sara Groves, Audrey Assad, Jenny & Tyler, Wine & Design , Milo Greene, The Breakfast Club, the Collection, Anchor & Braille, Elisa Ray, Hill & Wood, Rebekah Todd, Coldplay, the B-52’s, Mandolin Orange, Tift Merritt, Prypyat, Bowerbirds, Gungor, Martin Sexton, Kopecky Family Band, Josh Garrels, Punch Brothers, Lucius, Sufjan Stevens, Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau

Races run (and let it be known that I do not like running): Warrior Dash,Color Me Rad, The .5K (yes, that reads point-five-k)

“Vacations”, quick trips, and the like:

Lynchburg, VA

Severna Park, MD

Grandfather Mountain, NC

Cherry Grove, SC


Stone Mountain, NC
Greenville, SC

Carolina Beach, NC

Savannah, GA

Wilmington, NC

Phoenix, Sedona, Williams, Flagstaff, the GRAND CANYON, Holbrook, Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert, Sitgreaves & Tonto National Forests, Woods Canyon Lake, AZ – this was a very planned and very awesome trip that could fill an entire blog post (and then some)

Louisville, Lexington, KY – the Bourbon trail!!

Nashville, Franklin TN

Andrews, NC

Saxapahaw, NC

Hanging Rock State Park, NC

Places I’ve lived/moved-to/been for clinical rotation or school purposes: New Bern, NC; Charlotte, NC; Chapel Hill, NC; Greenville, SC; Chicago, IL; San Diego, CA

 Things I did for the first time during PT school: went skiing (snow- and water-), played a mandolin, went skeet-shooting went range shooting, saw the Grand Canyon, completed the Bourbon Trail, played croquet, sang at open-mic night with one of my favorite professors, went hammocking, played a concert as one half of Mosaic People, went hurricamping, served in a foreign country

Fatigue is an ass – thus learned by a powerpoint slide from our cardiopulm class 1st year that said ‘Fatigue’ at the top, and then had nothing else but a picture of a donkey aka an ass. This became a common phrase for our class and continues to be in my vernacular on the regular.
Family dinners, cobbler-offs, and community – I quickly became good friends with a fellow classmate, Lauren, who just so happened to share my birthday (albeit 2 years younger). Because of the goodness of God, I was introduced to a phenomenal community (outside of my class) through Lauren. We hung out nearly every week and spent Sunday nights together doing ‘family dinners’…

...which basically meant we went over to one house, brought dessert/wine, or somehow contributed to the masterpiece meal that was being made. We made everyday events competitive and fun, like having cobbler-offs (who makes the best cobbler…apparently Lauren and I do, btw), carving pumpkins, playing cards, or going bowling. We laughed, we prayed, and we did life together. My life is forever changed and deepened because of these relationships.

If ever you get the opportunity to do it, go serve in another country – I had the privilege of participating in our service learning trip to Antigua, Guatemala this year, along with 7 faculty/leaders and 14 of my classmates. We practiced physical therapy in one of the most severely underserved communities I’ve seen, we learned how coffee is made, we hiked a volcano and went ziplining, but most of all, we threw our expectations out the window and just loved on the community and each other. And even though this wasn’t a ‘medical missions’ kind of trip, it was missional to me, and I know the Holy Spirit was alive and moving in us.  

 And now, here I sit on the other side of 3 years – 3 years of studying, class, clinical rotations; 3 years of many a celebration (see #2); 3 years leading to a doctorate degree, with all the blood, sweat, and tears that go with it. And you wanna know how I made it through all the changes, transitions, and crazy times? Surrender
Surrender, to me, means a relinquishing of my desire to control, to plan, or to get my shit together (I woke up every day, and told myself I was going to get it together…it was exhausting). Surrender means choosing JOY because God is Sovereign. He knows you and He knows me. He enables, provides, facilitates. He withholds no good thing from us. He gives us rest when we ‘don’t have time to rest’. He made wine. He created dancing.

I am in the in between. In the past 2 months, my seasons have drastically changed...again. I have been Struggs McGee. But I’m going to keep moving forward until I get a red light. I’m going to let go of fly bar number whatever and if I’m held in suspenseful air for a while, then so be it. I’m going to keep celebrating, embracing my emotions, traveling, concert-going, giving, serving, dancing, being present in my life and the lives of others. Gratitude turns everything into enough, and I have a lot to be thankful for over these 3 years and some change J

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Evolution of a Butterfly

What do you think about this? Are we in late stage caterpillar? Are we transforming as a society, an organism? I am ready to become a butterfly.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Happiness if futile...

Reading taken from Meditations from the Tantras by Saraswati

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I love you.

“I love you.”

Taken from a book called Loose Change by Jim Dollar

I say it when I think it. I say it to my husband probably 20 times a day (he can attest). I say it to my mom when I leave her office at work. I say it for goodbye and I say it for hello. I say it for “good night”. I say it because I mean it. I say it because I am thinking it. I say it because I feel it. I say it because I want that to be the last thing you hear from my mouth when we are parted. I say it because I want to hear it. I say it because I need it. I say it because it is real.

Joel and I just learned that in Sanskrit there are 86 ways to say the word “love.”

Western culture has become so limited in our understanding and expression of love that we are depleting ourselves of experiencing it. This drain might actually be coming from our use of the word, our one, single word for love.

In Sanskrit, there is a “love” for friendship, for parents, for siblings, for animals, for a spouse, a boyfriend, a pastor, a teacher and the list goes on. There is a way to express love fully and appropriately to every one and thing that you do love. What freedom!

Perhaps, our one love is enough for you?

Joel and I discussed just how this word already changed in the context of our friendships since we have been married.

Joel noted that once we were married almost all of his dear female friends responded to his “I love you” with “Love ya!” Or if they didn’t add the “ya” on the end where “you” used to be, they would simply say “Love you guys.” This of course, was adding me into the picture.

On one hand, I am a product of this culture and I say “bravo!” to all those beautiful girl friends who respectfully add me into that statement of love. It is awesome that we have male and female friends who respect our marriage and love us both as one. In this system and rules of our culture, this is appropriate and right.

On the other hand, it is a shame that in our culture a married man might feel uncomfortable by telling a dear female friend that he loves her. Or she can feel fearful of saying it back in case it is taken the wrong way. In the same way, I have male friends who also give me the “love ya” or the “love you guys” just as Joel’s friends do. We both have noticed our opposite sex friends have cautiously moved away from just saying it outright, “I love you too.”


We are not complaining. At the end of the day and even in the moment of expression we know that we are both dearly loved. It is simply an observation. We have heard in theory and are incline to believe it to be true, that because our culture has reserved “I love you” for committed relationships of the romantic kind or parental kind, we have prevented our friendships from having an expression for “I love you” that is equally as strong.

Since we have taught our culture that the expression “I love you” is primarily a romantic statement, we have created generations of friendships ruined by the phrase. Since love is a romantic word, then any feelings of love derived in a friendship are often misinterpreted. One person or the other or both, feeling that expression of love, could then be led to think that this relationship is indeed a romantic one when probably it was not.

It seems a shame that we set ourselves up for limiting our understanding of love as a romantic experience. Friends who say “I love you” to married friend don’t want to be a home-wrecker or ever misinterpreted by expressing the phrase, so they remain cautious. Friends who experience love toward a friend might find themselves suddenly thinking they are “in love” or that this relationship has become romantic. Sadly that mistake (but understandable thinking) can result in an experience of actually becoming a home-wrecker or being rejected by a friend who does not return those romantic feelings. Then a friendship or a marriage might end.

We haven’t set ourselves up for the fullness of love with our language. I must return to the power of the Word. Words create life because they create action which turns into behavior and then choices…and so on. They really do. Perhaps we should make up our own expressions to describe the abundance that love can offer to human beings in all sorts of relationships. If you can experience the depth of friend-love without considering this relationship has turned romantic, then imagine how you might grow.

How would we begin? What words could we invent to describe the fullness of love in a variety of settings?

I will give it a shot…

Love in…

Nature- “moonfull”

Family- “warmsafehome”

Friendship- “deepconnect”

Mentors/teachers- “sagegratitude”

Animals- “bigworld”

Romantic relationship- “knowgodsgoodness”

Ended relationship- "alwayspart"

Expressing love for a past experience “Learnedgrowth”

Expressing love out of gratitude “Bigfulheart”

Expressing love for a place “goldenland”

Expressing love for God “Gloryfull!”

I’ve done it myself; looked at a dear friend of the opposite sex and said “I love ya.” Written an email and wanted to write “I love you so” and all that I wrote was “Thanks, Claire.”

I think we all want love to be bigger than our understanding or definition of it. If we do, then we need to live into that. We need to experience friendships as a different way to love that is just as full and rich without being romantic. We need to be blessed by the phrase “I love you” and not threatened, fearful or inauthentic. Perhaps someday, as our language and cultural maturity in relationships evolve, we might get to a place where there are multiple understandings and expressions of love.  In this system I abide in, I will still say it loudly and clearly, “Friends, I love you. Joel, I love you. Mom, I love you. God, I love you.”



Friday, October 11, 2013


“If I had the chance to see everyone naked, I would take it. I want to see everyone naked. I am just curious.” -Joe

This was a quote from one of our dear friends. There was nothing sexual about this comment. In fact, the very reason why he made it was because there was nothing sexual to be deduced from it. He also hoped it would shock us. He very truly was and is just interested in seeing what other people’s naked bodies look like.

Have you ever felt like that?

In all my trips around the world, I have found myself delighted to discover that I am on a nude beach of some sort. I find myself looking around, just curious about all the bodies around me.

Joel said it once, “Humans look so different.” He’s right. Sometimes, it is a wonder that we are all the same species in the first place. We look so different from one another. Even among the same races, there are so many varieties, shapes and colors. We really are a marvel to behold, each person, a masterpiece of variety and expression.

Inevitably, it seems that the only nudes I’ve ever encountered on a beach are very old. Usually, they are leather worn and the color of brass. Their skin hangs and sags. Once I saw a couple waking side by side and I was amused that I truly would not have known who was male or female had their genitals not been exposed.

You might be shifting in your seat as you read this. I’ve encountered a lot of people who are very uncomfortable with nudity. I get that. I felt like way when I was younger. I was raised by a very modest man in a community of very modest people. In one of my earliest memories as a three year old, I recall walking in on my Dad in the shower. He screamed like a girl and shoved me out of the room, slamming the door behind me. In any culture, the message was clear, “naked is bad.”

Later in life, naked just became sexual. Everyone who was naked was going to have sex. I heard it said among my youth leaders growing up, “There are two kinds of naked. There is naked ‘I am going to take a bath’ and then there is necked ‘I am up to no good.”

When I was nineteen I was visiting my boyfriend in Switzerland and I remember being utterly shocked when his 10 year old sister asked his dad to give her a bath. I was completely wierded out by that concept because my dad would have NEVER helped me bathe when I was that old. She was practically grown and puberty had definitely set in. He was just as shocked as me, but his shock was in my reaction. His response was quick and sharp, “You’re thinking is perverted if you think that is weird.” He was right. My thinking was perverted. In fact, I would venture to guess that our whole culture’s thinking is perverted.

When did naked become so forbidden? When did we have to hide our bodies?

What is so special about my body that I can’t show it to anyone except my spouse?

Does all nudity create lust? I don’t think so. I think that we teach each other when and where lust should happen. We’ve made it clear that nudity should create lust.

As a child, one of the most natural and wonderful things that I remember doing was ripping off my bathing suit and playing all day in the lake at my grandparents house. No one judged me; no one thought it was rude, sexy or weird. My cousin and sister did it too. We didn’t think twice about it. Children are free to be nude in most situations.

As an adult, I still enjoy the freedom of walking around nude. It has been empowering and liberating to realize that my naked flesh does not make men and women keel over with lust. Just because I am naked does not mean I am going to have sex with someone or that I am up to no good. Naked is simply naked.

I have known so many people that are entirely uncomfortable in their own skin. I know people who live alone and dress immediately when they get out of the shower, won’t even glance at their naked bodies in the mirror. Why? I’ve actually instructed those people to prance around after a shower or peer at themselves in a mirror just to really behold and feel the goodness of their God-created bodies. A couple have done it and actually report feeling more at ease and confident.

It is with such awe that I watch documentaries of tribes in Africa or South America that live and work and do all normal human things in the buff. I am fascinated because I cannot even imagine what that is like. What would it feel like to sit at my computer all day in the nude? What would it be like to change the oil on my car in my birthday suit?

I know what you’re thinking… “Claire is a nudist.”

I have been called that before but it isn’t true. I am not promoting nudity in all life situations. I like wearing clothing, the expression, the art form, the warmth on cool days. I just long for a world where naked isn’t sexual or forbidden.

Have you ever been in a locker room or been in a dance studio where everyone around you just stripped off their clothing without giving it a thought and you just stood there frozen by self-conscious fear of your own body?

When I studied abroad in Zurich, I had a good friend there who also was raised in a modest culture. We both wanted to take part in the epic gym experience at our university but we knew that it was looked down on to leave the gym without showering. We decided to go to a Kondi (jazzercise meets zumba) class together. Once class was done we followed the line of women to the locker rooms. Not only did everyone strip down to nothing and walk, proudly (it seemed) to the showers with a towel hung over their shoulders, the showers also had no doors or curtains at all. The showering room was really just a big room with shower heads all around the walls. Woman were just showering and catching up on life as they chatted back and froth, sharing shampoo and combs. To me, it looks like the showers from the Nazi death camps.

My friend and I were giddy and ridiculous, now that I look back on it. We felt like we were doing something insane, something daring. We wiggled out of our clothes. I tried desperately to appear cool and calm but could not feel entirely comfortable as my friend would break into sudden giggle-fits every few minutes. Once we were in the showers, we tried to talk naturally but we realized we were not looking at each other so it didn’t feel natural at all. Finally, there was this moment where I just said, “Lets just look at each other and get it over with.” We stood there a moment just looked at one another. We laughed, not because we thought the other looked funny or bad, but because we were so lame. Naked didn’t matter at all. It was so crazy that we felt that way. There was NOTHING to this but bathing.

 We considered that we had done something marvelous by conquering the showers at the ETH. My Swiss roommates thought we had lost our minds. I will never forget their faces as I described what it was like to shower with all those people. They thought I was so creepy for making such a huge deal out of it. They hadn’t ever considered that there was anything unusual about being naked when you shower, even with other people in the showers with you.

My friend is right; we all want to see everyone naked. It just isn’t a big deal. We are curious and we are curious because it is forbidden. Don’t we all know by now that forbidden fruit didn’t work out well for humans? Why do we continually recreate it?

As we move on as a culture, perhaps we should give each other a break. The Victorian Era has long past. Breasting feeding in public is not offensive. Taking off your clothing to hop in a lake for a swim is not a big deal. Helping your older child take a bath is what parents are there for. Walking in on someone in the bathroom only requires an “excuse me” and then let it go. In fact, I think we have made much too big of a deal about all of these “private moments.” We were born naked. We were created naked. There is nothing more natural that this.

Naked is naked is naked is naked. Without clothing does not mean “without morals.”