when you meet people like us | guest post from Christina

This is a guest post from my sister, Christina. She has good things to say and I’m glad to have her say them here. Read this if you don’t know what to say to someone who is hurting or read this because you want to understand our hurt a little better. 


Caroline, as I’ve said, is the wordsmith.  So much so, that while greeting people at the visitation, I accidentally received many compliments for her beautiful writing, by people who hugged me while saying some version of , “Oh Caroline, I’m so sorry!  And you’re such a beautiful writer!” and I hugged them back, “Oh, you are sweet! But I’m Christina!”

But grief is this weird thing, this weird thing that completely takes over your personality and your world, and you start thinking, “Hey, whatever works.”  Maybe this whole “writing out your thoughts thing and publishing them to the world” helps.  Too many quotes? That’s just the kind of classiness that you get with this brown haired sister.  My beloved sister-in-law and I were talking the other day and I mentioned that I was going to write a blog entitled ‘World’s Least Spiritual Griever.’  This is that blog.

A portion of you who read this blog don’t know us, or at least don’t know us well. And some of you we consider ‘our people’ and you are struggling to love us through this. This post is for both of those groups.  For those of you who don’t know us, read this and keep it in your back pocket for when you meet people like us, people drowning in a sea of sorrow and grief.  For those of you who know us well, the ones we consider ‘our people,’ this is for you too.

To our people: We’re sorry for being weird.  For not calling or texting you back.  For zoning out when we’re talking with you.  For probably waiting too long to send you a thank you for the home-cooked meal you brought over to our homes.  For ruining our conversation with you with our new-found perspective, trying in the softest of ways to let you know that your problem isn’t a real problem, because in your problem everyone is still alive.  We’re sorry that our emotions, the things that upset us, and our demeanor change a million miles a minute. We’re sorry that we won’t commit to plans. We’re sorry that there are only a few people that we can tell the whole story to (because re-living the worst minute/hour/day of your life is something you just can’t do very often). We’re sorry that it’s hard to engage with us, even though you clearly love us very much.

And the things that are probably just me… I’m sorry I almost passed out on my porch when you brought me a meal last night.  I’m sorry I can’t stop apologizing for this new personality that is so radically different than my old one.

We can’t explain why all these things are true, and it’s hard for us to not know when we’ll feel ‘better.’ But I’m afraid it’s going to be a long time.  And that terrifies me.

If you want to help:  Even making this list makes me feel like such a needy person, such a diva.  “Here are the things I need, please do them!” But I have to believe that there are a few people who truly are ‘in this’ with us, awful as it is here, in this place. Assuming I’m correct, this is a list for these people.

Friends, please let us talk about him, and what happened.  Please don’t avoid us because you aren’t sure what to do.  If you are not sure what to do or what to say, can I make a few (more) suggestions?
“How are you doing/ feeling today?”
“This is terrible. I’m so sorry.”
“Sometime I’d love to hear about William”
“What’s one thing I can do to help you/ love you today?”

Let us feel happy and joyful when we have those moments and act normal around us, but gentle.

Let us tell you stories about him and our life with him and make us feel safe doing this, like it’s not weirding you out to hear about this thing that happened, or about him. He was an incredible man (the best I’ve ever known, honestly,) and one of my favorite people in this whole world. I like talking about him.

Invite us to things but don’t be offended when we don’t come. Text us and don’t be offended when we don’t text back.  Call us but don’t be offended when we let it go to voicemail.

Have I mentioned that (if you are close to us) please please ask how we’re doing, and ask about Will? Of course, don’t ask these questions as you quickly pass by.  That’s the worst.

You know what else you could do?  If you really want to step inside this dark cave of terribleness with us? Read about grief a little.  C.S. Lewis’ book ‘A Grief Observed” is incredible.  Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff‎ is also a perfect depiction of grief.

Crazy, unhelpful things sometimes burst out of people’s mouths.  We have tons of grace for this… sometimes.  Flippant comments about different things making it ‘worth it’ or different reasons why we should be thankful, those are tough to hear, because we are living in a nightmare and nothing is a fair exchange. Some things you will try with good intent and those things will go very wrong.  But please still try them?

One thing you can assume…

We are not ‘doing well.’ We are not ‘handling it.’ We are not confident of anything right now.  We’re losing it and at least this grieving sister has spent multiple hours in the last week considering vintage motorcycle and/or treehouse tattoos and searching online for girl baby names that start with the letters ‘Will.’

So, that also happened.


Find all the writings on grief at this link and join with us as we mourn in hope.

Guest Post | Wedding Speech, Take Two

I have been signing things Caroline Kolts for the past week, not that there was a whole lot to sign on our honeymoon in Iceland (check out Patrick on instagram). I have to keep reminding myself that together we make a family, the two of us. These first days of family are like making fresh footprints in untouched winter snow – everything is sparkling with promise and waiting to be discovered, built, and dreamed. We went to church for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. Kolts yesterday and I was overwhelmed to be sitting next to my newly covenanted love and worshipping my First Love.

I will spare you all of my marital bliss-speak and offer instead the sweetest words that my sister insists appear as a guest post. I am more than glad to oblige, because her guest posts always attract more attention than my regular posts and (I’ll admit) I like the traffic. 😉 Actually, I have read and re-read these words since she sent them earlier today and I can’t figure out why I hit the jackpot with such a sister and why she thinks so highly of me. God has blessed me abundantly with her crazy love.

sisters

Caroline is the wordsmith between us.  While she’s weaving words, making landscapes that you feel and experience, I’m working on writing a to-the-point-email that will inspire people to work for me for free, so there’s a difference clearly.

She’s also the cheesy one of us, the one who waxes poetic about our sisterhood.  Whereas I’m the problem-solver, the send-Caroline-random-gifts-giver, the two-words-on-a-card-writer.  Those two words? Love you!  So, a difference there, as well.

But Caroline and Patrick’s wedding made me feel all kinds of cheesy, like there weren’t enough words in a speech to convey the joy welling within, and there wasn’t enough speech time to squeeze in the love I have for them, the slow moving sadness that comes from missing them, and the gratefulness in loving them together and separate, so much.

So, here is my guest blog post.  The speech I wish I would have spoken.  The official unofficial wedding speech, only 2 weeks late.

Caroline.  Your soul is the most beautiful I know, you know me better than anyone and yet are my biggest cheerleader.   My friendship with you makes me think marriage must be ok, that ‘someone knowing everything-ness’ and all.  In a weird way, it is so not weird that you got married before me.  For you have always gone first.  In following Christ, in maturity, in radical hospitality.  At a soul level, I think in some ways we are both the older sister, just in different ways.  Someone told me the other day that they love the way I talk about you, a mixture of awe, respect, and love.  And how could I not? You are exceedingly lovely, and I’ve always been baffled at the male sex due to their failure to realize this and marry you quickly.  But now I realize why it took them so long.  It was always Patrick, who you were meant for.  And the Patrick novel needed more chapters of adventure before the marriage part.  So, male gender, I’ll give you a pass this one time!

I have always been more concerned with who Caroline would marry than she found necessary.   I always had this desire for her to end up with a person who would fit her, wouldn’t stifle her, wouldn’t try to get her to calm down, settle down, and stop dreaming crazy dreams. Someone who would bring out the hilarious side I see, and reassure her of its validity in the world, that her creating laughter is just as important as creating ponderous thoughts.  And, selfishly, I thought her marrying someone that was ‘ok’ would make our time odd or strained, or worst case scenario, that there would be less of it.

But Patrick. Patrick who’s always been around in the best of ways, always been Caroline’s best fit, the moment just waiting to be right so all those puzzle pieces would fall into place.  I told Caroline at William’s wedding, “He just needs to be in our family.  Why don’t you just marry him?” The funny thing is, that premonition was so right.  He fits perfectly into our family.  Patrick who I have loved as a dear friend for years, who insisted I sleep on his air mattress when I slept over at the apartment he shared with his cousin (he slept on the floor).  Patrick who rented a car when I visited over Thanksgiving because he knew I was getting stressed with the subway like a pansy.  Patrick who along with Caroline, somehow thinks that I am both a good dancer and the life of the party, two things I have trouble seeing in myself.  Patrick who is a relentless friend, visiting his tribe often and asking heart questions over skype without that hurriedness I find myself plagued with often.  Dear, dear Patrick.  Who, having somehow drank the Kool-aid that my family’s been drinking for years, is now fully on board with the relentless cheerleading that is the Nichols family.

I told Caroline the other day that, strange as it may be, now when I’m with her and he’s not around, I miss him. Which is strange, because I’ve been around her without him for her whole life! But there’s just something about this great pair, that’s kind of like a 2-for-1 special.  Two creative people, each uniquely helping and filling in the gaps for each other, but together stretching each other to be more, do more, love more.  What they both did so well separately, they are able to do increasingly well together.  Like a 1+1=3 situation.  Them together, they’re a pretty unstoppable power couple.

Cheers to Caroline and Pat, my favorite 2-for-1.

Wednesday Web Suggestions

1) Have you heard of Mark Driscoll?
He rocks. He’s to the Left of the Right, to the Right of the Left. And he rocks. Heard him speak at Catalyst West last week, and he was every bit as good in person as the sermons I hear online.

2) Stuff Christians Like. This is hands down my favorite blog of the year. I own his book, have met him in person, and Jon Acuff is the real deal. Or if you have a bit, or want some cubicle listening, check out this– a video of him speaking. He’s HILarious.

3) Just for fun, check this out. Somehow, beards have become a big part of the lives of some guy friends in my lives. Saw this site that one of the aforementioned bearded men posted. Hilarious! I think most youth pastors stay in the neutral area of beard trustworthiness, thankfully.

4) Every Day in May. I’m doing it. At Catalyst, I was struck by the fact that I’m a painter… who doesn’t paint. And why not? Well, to get myself back in the habit of doing what I love, I’m committing to painting every day in May. Doesn’t have to be good, doesn’t have to be big, but it has to be a painting. Follow me on twitter to hear about how its going! 🙂

5) Favorite new blog here. Happens to be my good friend and boss at Valley, and a legit guy who writes from the heart about life, youth ministry, and funny stuff. Check it out!

Hope to write more about Catalyst soon, and will definitely be keeping you in touch as far as how Every Day in May is going.
Night, friends.

Christina

Fit, Fat, and Following God

First of all, this post is going to probably rile you up a bit.

OK, you’ve been forewarned.

Check out this article.

It’s a controversial article on Fat and Christians written by a Christian doctor. Here’s an excerpt, from a list of 6 things Christians should do about their fat…

1. Reject Your Fat

The first step to overcoming obesity is to not tolerate it. Do not excuse it. Do not comfort yourself about it. Do not rationalize it with your reasons, whether emotional, spiritual, medical, or genetic. Say to yourself, I am fat and I need to get rid of it!
2. Recognize Your Eating Patterns

People don’t get fat for just any reason. They respond to all of their cravings, and eating discipline doesn’t exist. Over-eat and you will become fat. This may not happen in a week, but it will happen. The law of physics applies; if you continue growing fat cells, they will extend everywhere and invade every inch of your body. Obesity leads to early death, but fitness extends life.
3. Stop Hiding Behind Religion

The very evidence of fat in a person’s life demonstrates that there are some spiritual areas that need attention regarding compulsions and lazy behaviors. Hiding behind your Christian faith (or fat) by saying what matters most is that you are growing in your spirit is an insult to God when you fail to address an area of life that matters to God. God is faithful and will point out the sin that causes the fat to exist in the first place.

Wow. I have rarely read anything like this in Christian circles. Usually we read stuff more like “accept yourself” “love yourself!” and “Jesus loves you for who you are” as answers to not liking how one looks or feeling self-concious about a little too much “junk in the trunk.”

My question is, dear readers, where do you think ‘self-esteem and loving what God gave you’ and ‘rejecting fat and circumstances that got it there’, fit together?

Anxious to read your thoughts!
Christina

Come here often?


Some conversations around the coffeepot this week have centered around this question- where are our people hanging out?

No, not coffeeshops.

No, not at the Mall.

We’re talking about online!

The big question of our week involves, where are our people hanging out on this big world wide web of ours?

Here is my question to you loyal blog-readers. Where do you ‘hang out?’ I’ll come clean, here are my biggest online hangouts, in NO particular order.

1) People.com (Yes, embarrassing.)
2) Twitter. (Love it. Connects me to my amigos y amigas y FAMILIA!)
3) Facebook. (Mostly for ministry.)
4) Gmail. (For everything- documents, spreadsheets, email, pictures. You name it, gmail has it.)
5) Blogs. (Younghouselove.com, kaci-jo.blogspot.com, alanandsteph@blogspot.com, and jonkalvig.com, and OF COURSE, this blog 🙂 are frequent-visit places.)
6) Hulu. (The perfect solution for people who aren’t at home when their shows are.)

Where are YOU hanging out?

Beyond the ‘Bobblehead Jesus’

Have you seen this video?

It’s a funny (hilarious, actually) look at the way some people view Jesus.

At Underground (the High School worship service my ministry puts on every Sunday) we are exploring for the next 3 weeks, the huge disconnect between what is true of Jesus and what we believe of him.

For instance, I find myself thinking He is disappointed in me, frustrated with my slowness, and weary of my missed or lackluster ‘quiet times.’ I think He’s up there in heaven, shaking His head at how I just can’t get it together. ‘My goodness, Christina, you’re 27 years old! Time to get a few of these kinks worked out!’

But when we look at Jesus of the Bible, he’s not weary of people not being spiritual enough. In FACT, when people were super-spiritual, He was not that big of a fan. He liked faith. He liked neediness.

Check it out.

Mark 2:1-12 (New International Version)

Mark 2

Jesus Heals a Paralytic
1A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7″Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

8Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .” He said to the paralytic, 11″I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

This dude was so needy that he couldn’t even bring himself to Jesus! And (from what we see) he was relying on his friends not just for a free ride, but for the faith to heal him too! And Jesus not only healed him, but forgave his sins as well. Wow.

Question: What is the disconnect in YOUR life between the Jesus that IS and the ‘Bobblehead version’ that you replace him with?

It’s up to you (New York, New York)

Have I mentioned, dear readers, that I am FINALLY TRAVELING BACK TO NY this Spring Break? After 3 years away? I could NOT be more excited to travel back to the mother ship, my home away from home, my happy place. Thinking about traveling back in time to 2006 and the role NYC had in my life, I’ve taken a look back at my blog posts from that year. In honor of that-here’s a thought from Christina of 2006. So different, yet so similar. Check out this post, from August of 2006.

Just got back from the library. Being in the library, looking at the stacks and stacks of books, reminds me more and more that I’m not who I want to be, or not who I percieve myself to be. See, I’m wandering through the stacks of books, attracted to the simple girly titles, all the while feeling guilty that I’m not looking for F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sylvia Plath. Isn’t it weird how you have this idea of who you are, even though it’s crazy different than the truth? I wouldn’t know what to do with Sylvia Plath even if I bought the cliff notes.
I’m learning more now than ever that I know myself less and less. I mean, I KNEW who I was in college, I knew that I was the one to call if you didn’t want to study, the one to throw the dinner party, the one to call if you needed some free counseling and “wisdom” from someone who’s been through it. While I was IN college, I loved the social life much more than the classes. Now, being out of school, I wish I could go back and have 24 more hours in every day and suck all the learning out of Iowa State. Now that I have every night free, I long for the textbooks I sold back, wishing I had my advertising books so I could read up at night and feel a little more confidant when applying for jobs the upcoming morning. I don’t know, it’s just so weird to not have “student” “advertising major” “Iowa State University” and “Campus Crusade for Christ socialite” to define me. What defines me now, that I’m not an advertising student at Iowa state spending too much time socializing up the school? What kind of music do I like, now that I can’t depend on having a Christian radio station to put on whenever I need some tunes? What kind of books do I like when I don’t have a discipler or the local Christian culture telling me what the next big author is? Tough.
Man, my life is strange right now. I never in a million years would have expected for this to be my life right now. I feel like this year is such a long waiting moment in my life. Waiting for adulthood, waiting to find out who I really am without Campus crusade telling me, waiting for New York to feel like home, waiting for a “real” job. It’s strange, this life of mine. I am so used to “glass-half-full” life theology that it’s hard for me to really look at my life and ADMIT that it’s tough. But the thing is, I’m doing alright. Little by little I am finding out who I am. Making the decision to be faithful even when I don’t understand. Praying that my self-righteous pride will shut itself up while I just try to do the best that I can. And try to push the mother guilt away while I attempt to raise these children the way their parents want me to and push away my questions about whether they’ll turn out really weird after watching this much T.V. What a year. 🙂 But the thing is, I’m smiling my little face off right now, listening to John Legend on the computer (a singer I found all by myself and LOVE LOVE LOVE him) and thinking that I wouldn’t trade my life for the world. because I know this is where I’m supposed to be. I know that learning all this is going to make me who I am, future tense :). I’m making no sense, right? Well, somehow in this moment, I’m happy, standing in this gap. I suppose these next couple years after college, I’ll be climbing that mountain on the other side. And I’ll come out on top,

you’ll see 🙂

So thankful for God being faithful to introduce me more to myself in these last 3 years. To mold me and shape me and make me more and more okay with who I am. And SO fun to look back and see where I was, how far I’ve come! And to realize that, even though I certainly know myself better now than I did 3 years ago, the “mountain” will take a lifetime to climb. And I’m ok with that!

Question- dear readers. What grew you up? When did you really get to know who you were?

Christina