Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tutorial: Artichoke Hummus

I love hummus, and I love artichokes. While cooking bores me to tears, it was only a matter of time before I came up with a recipe to combine the two.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Leather or not you like it... DIY Journal Tutorial

Today, a dream came true. Some dream of beaches, castles, zombies (my husband and his sister), etc. I dream of working up the courage and imagination to create my own leather journals.

Note: You can make these without any special tools at all. Any part-time crafter like me can pull 'em together.

Thanks to an extra long weekend, the darker, more mysterious back ways of Hobby Lobby, and dismantling a crafter's block, you get to see my dream unfold.

This will be a long tutorial, but the length belies the simplicity of the project.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Time to Mourn

The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote one of the most beautiful, haunting poems in literature. Beautiful, and in our society, seemingly impossible to honor (poem posted at end of post).

A time to tear down, a time to build:
A section of the Murrah Building, still broken, but now a poignant part of a peaceful place
I attended a memorial service for Connecticut victims at my hospital today. The turnout was small. Not surprising, considering the crowd I work with--overstretched, and already bearing the traumas and sufferings of others, taking time to confront their own reactions and mourning comes at great cost (if it comes at all).

The meeting consisted of myself, a few chaplains, a few Sisters, and a couple others. After listening to the 23rd Psalm sung, and a prayer of Advent, we each offered reflections. At first, I heard familiar strains (not bad, just no longer meaningful for me): "I know good will come of all this. I just know it" etc.

Finally, one of us copped to anger and confusion, particularly in regard to the national response. "Why is everyone yelling, and pointing fingers? There's all this pressure to make big decisions, and everyone is fighting for their point of view."

At first it looked like we would try to comfort him out of his emotions.

Our society ill prepares us to live the conversation of pain. We act. We do. We escape. On a national level we force upon ourselves actions and decisions in the time that belongs to mourning. We suffer, but deny our suffering, focusing with impaired hearts and minds on actions--never realizing these actions cannot be sound.

But, we must mourn. We must ache. By denying the power of the suffering, and refusing the journey of grief, we stave off healing. We make decisions without the wisdom of deep experience. Activity lends a false sense of control--a much more appealing sensation than sadness.

Our task for this time is to mourn. To weep. To grieve. To be present to our own suffering, and that of others.

Accept that no satisfying "why" exists. Select symbols that remind you why your heart may feel burdened even in times of levity (I wear a green and white ribbon--Sandy Hook school colors). When others express "negative" emotions, validate that human reaction. Take moments to examine your own reaction. And, connect. Connect to your family, friends, faith community, national community, local and far neighbors.

In a society with no language for sadness, we feel alone and abnormal in our emotions, and isolate. Know we all hurt too. The very passion of our anger and action belies the depth of our brokenness over the loss of these people.

For the brave soul who shared his anger and confusion, we chose presence. The conversation turned from attempts to eliminate our discomfort at his discomfort, to acknowledging the reality we shared. From that conversation came a plan to reach out to our coworkers, offering a safe moment to express prayers and emotions. The Sisters agreed to make green and white ribbons for all who want them. And we will place a table with a chaplain, volunteer, Sister, or behavioral health specialist in an accessible location for a couple of days.

Know that the underlying discomfort you feel is common, real, and a necessary part of this time. Take comfort, not in demanding relief, not in politicizing, setting agendas, or preaching, but in knowing this time belongs to itself. Which means the time of laughter will follow. That time is not your concern. Live this moment, now. Your experience after will be all the richer for it. 

A couple of other better written sources:
Deepak Chopra: After tragedy, brain needs to heal. A really good review of the neuroscience of trauma, and the wisdom of healing before making decisions.

Elizabeth Kaeton @ Telling Secrets: Evil. A deep look into evil, mental illness, and choices.

Rachel Held Evans: God Can't Be Kept Out. To combat all that horrible theology out there trying to tell you God plays games of tit-for-tat, or can somehow be pushed into, or out of, a box.

The author of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:
There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build, 
 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,     
a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

All Business Card Boxes

I found a blog making boxes out of business cards, but no tutorials for the way I do it. So here's what I've been making for all my tiny Christmas presents this year:
Making use of the When Pigs Fly Stamp (tut here)
Made this box out of 6 business cards. Apparently career ADD is good for something... (like having 1000 useless business cards!). Recycling's never been so fun.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

When Pigs Fly: stamp tutorial

I'm really getting into carving my own stamps. It's intricate, satisfying, and if you're a klutz and crave more excitement in your crafting life, dangerous (totally sliced my own thumb open--cut away from the body!). I'm laying out the process for making this flying pig, today.

1. I am NOT a photographer
2. I'm way too impatient to wait until daylight to get better lighting
3. The other carvings I made from pink erasers (pack of 5 or 6 @ the Dollar Store)


Grieve with the rest of us. Don't preach and over-simplify highly complex and devastating problems. The temptation to use this moment to forward your agenda causes you to miss the more pressing opportunity to join a community in mourning. Be so, so sensitive to the full implications of words and pictures. Grieve. Weep. Pray. Meditate. Reach out in love to the people in your life.
taken near my house

Friday, December 14, 2012

Grieving Our Tragedy (some resources and perspective)

What a terrible, senseless day. We feel rocked, frightened, angry, lost, & broken at the deaths/loss of so many children and adults in the Connecticut elementary school shooting. I felt my reaction in my whole body. Heat. Tears. A need to run--move--help--DO.
Statue of Jesus Weeping, OKC, OK. I took this photo near the Murrah Bombing Memorial Site--across from the actual memorial, built by a church. So many children lost there, as well.

I have no words of comfort or hope, even though I know time may bring those things. Now we mourn. Now we search, and weep, and reach out to each other.

A friend of mine, Sarah Jacks (LPC intern), offered some excellent wisdom I must share. She graduated from the counseling program with me, and is completing her counseling hours toward her licensure.

Sarah says, "Turn your TV off and pray. Connecticut needs out prayers. You do not need consistent, traumatizing coverage." 

Do grieve. Do pray. Do meditate and think. Do not traumatize yourself. These brokenhearted mommas & daddies & friends & lovers need our support and strength. No sliver of information garnered from consistent news watching will ever tell us why.

Sarah also provides resources for talking to children about violence: herehere. Her blog is

I suggest one other thing. Please look into your life, and pay attention to the signs of troubled persons. We in no way bear the blame as victims. My words serve to build bridges, not lay blame.

A personal story. I saw an angry rant on an acquaintance's Facebook page. A military person (not my acquaintance) posted vitriolic, racist words, and threats to kill  members of the community he "serves" in. Unsure what to do, I called local police, who connected me with military intelligence. This occurred after the soldier in Afghanistan shot and killed so many. I don't know where the investigation went. But, I refuse to let politeness, discomfort, or excuses keep me from paying attention to real signs of disordered thinking. I sincerely hope this person received emotional support, psychological treatment, or the attention he needs.   

Today's tragedy moved me to impotent anger, to wordless prayers, and deep sadness. This inhuman act will never make sense. Never be explained. Burrow into your sorrow--we must acknowledge the pain--but do not forget your life, your loved ones. Do not listen to ignorant voices who will parse moments, and attribute human inhumanity to God. Be present to the people you share space with. God be with us.

Addendum--just saw that my mom posted this--may it be so:
The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalms 34:18

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Scarving for Details

My big leap of... something: Look what I made!

chesha in motion, indeed

Hello again
I took a long hiatus. I just stopped caring about beating out my theology, or lack thereof. I experienced one brother attempting suicide, and one brother graduating with a doctorate. I got a job. I traveled to Israel for a month. I sat on my couch with Jason. I got a dog.

Alphabet Soup in Motion
I started therapy. Psychoanalysis, if you're interested. Pretty sweet deal, actually. The guy has been a therapist for years, but needed one last case study to complete his certification, or  whatever, in psychoanalysis. I see him FOUR days a week (that's right, four). For real cheap. Best thing for me.

I started playing with my creativity again. I paint, make jewelry, carve stamps, design projects, and prettify my house.

I'm about to commit what I suspect is blog popularity suicide. Although, I'm sure the case could be made that not posting for well over a year already did that.

More after the jump.