Inside “The End”, Part 2

(Read Part 1 here)

Back in my office, still reeling from the news that Midday Connection (a program that aired nationally on Moody Radio for over 20 years) was ending, I stood in front of my bookcase and just stared. I had rows of books lined up for giveaways, Millrose Club mugs, potential guest information, a binder full of dreams for future Midday adventures… I grabbed a stack of promotional materials and headed for the big trash bin.

I emptied my bookshelves that first day. Somehow that felt good. It was too sad to look at all of the possibilities and dreams for a dying program. I’d rather look at empty shelves that spoke of other possibilities that I couldn’t see yet.

I went about my job in a fog. Our team was in shock, but we still needed to schedule programs, host programs, and answer listener emails, post facebook posts – and not tell anyone that the program was ending. The week after my meeting, I hosted a program and swallowed my tears and shook off my sadness as the on-air light came on. I wondered how were we going to manage this? I understood the reasons why we couldn’t tell anyone about the change – Moody Radio had a contractual agreement with our affiliate radio stations and they needed to be informed first. But, going about our days, doing programs, pretending nothing was wrong was painful. One of the things I’ve loved most about Midday is our pursuit of authenticity and vulnerability with our listeners. We talked about real struggles – our own personal struggles, doubts, half-formed thoughts. And, here was a biggie that we couldn’t talk about with listeners. I felt like a liar, a fraud.

Along with this deep grief, anger, and heartbreak, I recognized that there was some anticipation, relief, and readiness to see what God might have for me next. Holding grief and anticipation together – in the same hand, with the same breath – has been maddening, draining. How do you authentically live both realities? Well, here’s my chance to learn as I sat in my chair.

…read Part 3 here…

You might also want to check this out.

Inside “The End”, Part 1

It all started on May 27th when I was called into an impromptu meeting. No, actually I need to back up. It all really started during the Labor Day weekend in 2007. That’s when God began to do some difficult and exciting work in my life through a retreat with Anita, Melinda, and a new friend, Janet Davis. That weekend solidified my mission at Midday Connection (Moody Radio) – to speak truth and freedom to women. We continued to do that with all our hearts for the next 8 years. It was difficult and exhilarating work.

Then, May 27th 2015, I was called into a meeting that I assumed was about my job. I had gathered my courage a few months earlier and asked for a raise and job title change due to my increased role on-air. So, I assumed this meeting was to inform me about that request. My department manager met me at the door of the studio right after our live program and asked if he could have a minute upstairs. We walked upstairs and he lightly asked about my summer vacation and the weather. When we got to the conference room, our VP of Radio was there, which triggered a red flag. He asked to pray. Another red flag. His prayer was shaky and heavy. More red flags. I laughed nervously and said, “You’re freaking me out here…” He sadly nodded and quickly got to the point that Midday Connection was ending. I’d actually gotten so comfortable in my job that I thought they would never, NEVER end my program. I was in absolute shock. And, I learned that Melinda was leaving before Anita and me. My heart was broken and I knew this was only the beginning of the grief.

As I left the room with my white “How to Survive a Layoff” binder, I realized I was still holding a coffee mug that a listener had given me a few years ago at a live event. That’s when tears came… what about our listeners?

…Read Part 2 here…

You might also want to read this blog about vulnerability.

Art Therapy

I show up at my friend’s door, anxious, running late, with minimal supplies in my canvas bag: paper, a collection of paints and brushes. We settle ourselves downstairs in her kitchen, sitting at her table with a black and gray granite top. Heavy, cool, forgiving if paint makes it’s way off the paper.

“I don’t know where to begin”, I say. I always say this. I know that half of the process is just showing up. She sighs and says, “Me neither.” We sit for a few moments, silent, in front of blank paper… trusting… waiting…

I finally pull out a small piece of paper and doodle tiny circle after tiny circle. I’d read somewhere that this was a good anxiety-reducing technique and a good place to start if you’re stuck creatively.

I doodle and think while we chat a bit. Then, I gradually doodle and feel. I feel sad, uncertain, lost, overwhelmed. I know what to do now.

I pull out a bigger piece of paper and look over at my friend. She’s decided on a project, too, and she’s drawing with a beautiful blue color that she says is the color of her soul. We sit mostly in silence, painting, drawing, shading. I wonder what color I would choose as the color of my soul… I smell the banana bread she baked, paper, waxy crayons, feeling more settled inside. Her home is quiet. I feel comfortable, safe, and focused.

lori pictureOnce my piece is done, I’m surprised. It wasn’t until I finished that I stepped back to look at it. I thought that I was moving toward darkness, uncertainty. But, the doorway/window actually looks rather inviting, leading out and away from the dark and the stress of the bright colors. “Huh. I must have more hope than I thought!”, I tell my friend. My heart feels lighter. She celebrates with me and too soon we’re packing up supplies. I take a deep breath and say, “Oh. my… thank. you.”

What a gift – an hour and half with a friend working out thoughts and feelings, mostly without words. Words can be difficult and feel rough in times of grief. I’m so thankful for the gentle way that my clumsy images can speak. Thanks be to God.

The Chair

chairThe chair. The *chair*! I couldn’t believe it when I saw the chair at my neighbor’s yard sale. Inviting, comfy, roomy. I knew that this would be *my* chair – an easy decision to spend $30. We quickly did some rearranging in our living room and carted in my chair.

I’d just found out the day before that my job was being eliminated. I was stunned. This chair was a little manna for the day – and coming days.

The summer of 2015 was rather rainy and hot in my area. I used that as an excuse to stay inside. Summers for me are usually full of walks, yard work, and outdoor projects. But this year, I had no heart for any of it. I sat in my chair. Just sat. I didn’t read, I didn’t pray, I didn’t really do anything. I sat. Stunned. Anxious. Sad. Depressed. Angry. I spent 80% of my days in that chair. Our cats would visit me, my guy would come and go, the sun would come and go. I sat. I watched a patch of sky above my neighbor’s house.

I met with my spiritual director and told her about my chair. I was surprised at how I just sat there. So unlike me. That’s all I could do. I was hunkering down, healing. My life was suddenly unpredictable and uncertain, but the world in my chair was known and safe. She asked, “While you’re sitting in your chair, do you have a sense of God with you?” I thought for a moment. I hadn’t felt an absence of God – I knew God was with me, even though I hadn’t prayed much more than, “Help” from time to time. Then, a word came to me: nest. My chair felt like a nest. And I clearly had a sense of God over me, like a protective Mother Hen. I felt safe, loved, accepted by God. No judgement, no shoulds. Just love.

I’m not sitting in my chair as much these days. A few weeks ago, I dragged a small wooden desk into our house that another neighbor was getting rid of… cleaned it up, put it in front of a sunny window, filled the drawers with papers and ideas, pens and folders. Deep breath. I’m ready to get to work. Ready to try to fly again.