blogs, books, deaths, and dreams.

the spiritual life does not remove us from the world

i missed you!  in the 5+ years i’ve been blogging i have taken a month off here and there, but this was the first time i took 2 months off and really didn’t worry about it at all. i wish i could say the break was awesome, that i’m coming back rested and clean and shiny, but that’s not true. i’m coming back a little lighter than when i left off too months ago because the manuscript for the book is almost done, all 5 of my kids are all safely back in school, and there are also some wonderful things happening for the refuge, details below.

but i’m also coming back feeling like i’m maybe i’m actually in the twilight zone.  though 2 months ago my last blog was about the loss of one of a sweet refuge friend who died in a tragic car accident in june, my first one back includes two other losses this past weekend.  this past weekend jose and i said our goodbyes to a dear friend who died far too early in the morning, and in the evening i was with a family from the refuge as their husband-father-brother passed from this life to the next.  goodness gracious, that’s a little bit much for one day.  i bawled all the way home that late night, struck with just how tender and fragile life really is and how much our little community continues to endure.  my friend and co-pastor karl and i will be doing our third memorial service at the refuge since easter this friday. we have 6 refuge kids who have lost a parent in the past two years.  it all feels a little extra crazy. psalm 61 is what i keep coming back to: “hear my cry o God, listen to my prayer. from the ends of the earth i call to you. i call as my heart grows faint, lead me to the rock that is higher than i” (v. 1-2).

and here’s the paradox.  in the midst of the hard stuff, the refuge is also entering into one of its most lovely seasons of its 7 year story.  we finally found more permanent space to hub the work that we are doing as a local mission dedicated to the hungry and hurting in north denver.  we had been using temporary space that we liked a lot but the leadership that managed the building radically shifted and it was clear we had to leave.  plus, the realities of no upstairs bathrooms for our friend with disabilities and horrible space for our ever-growing refuge kids catalyzed us to step out and see what else might be possible.  we found the sweetest little spot not too far from where we are now in broomfield, next to the local food bank and a habitat for humanity thrift store. it really couldn’t be a better spot for us and for the first time we will be able to have open space for hospitality and advocacy during food bank hours, run whatever classes, workshops, and groups we want, and have a sense of “home” for so many who have been orphaned spiritually, practically, and in all kinds of other ways. we’re also really excited about a brand new season for SMU–single moms unite, a supportive community and gathering for single moms in north denver. really, we will just keep throwing parties, telling stories, finding hope, and practicing the ways of Jesus as best we can. we are in the process of painting it and getting it ready for our transition october 1st.  it is a dream come true (and a sweet & simple hub to live out some of our dreams).

through the generosity of friends in and outside of the refuge we were able to raise all of our first years’ rent in three weeks and part of year 2 so we could move forward without having to worry at all about that. that felt like a little crazy miracle, but there’s no question:  we love people not fundraising!  at the same time, it was a good challenge for me to consider the longer and more sustainable view of what we are doing up here. we are working on developing some new local partnerships to hopefully get year 2 covered soon so we can rest a bit.  some of you have already seen this through facebook, but here’s our story in a pdf–the little mission that should (next to our what we believe, it’s one of my favorite things we’ve ever written).  it helps tell a little bit more about what the refuge is about:

my friend barb also articulates it so well.  it’s also why i’m so crazy about life together in community:

on top of all of this, i have been slogging through the manuscript for faith shift: hope for spiritual refugees, church burnouts and freedom seekers.  it really is such a fun project in so many ways because i care so deeply about the topic.  based on the series i did here called rebuilding after deconstructing, it hopefully will help people feel less crazy & less alone when their faith starts to unravel.  i sent the last section to the editors on monday night, and all’s that is left to write is some stuff for an appendix.  i am so happy to be over this hump!  last week, my friend karl and i facilitated a workshop for a church that is going through a huge trauma related to leadership & church wounds and needed a place to process some of their feelings.  it made me realize just how desperately we need places and spaces to talk honestly about some of this hard stuff. i really hope faith shift will help with that, too.  these are the emotions we walked through together (we had some reflective stations that went with each of them):

church baggage feelings

feel familiar?

it will take me a little bit to get a groove again around here, and i’m going to just take it slow in this next season.  but i do have 3 blogs that i know about coming up in the next week or two, starting tomorow:

  • educate, advocate & agitate (some thoughts on equality)
  • what’s your position on? (the question of the day related to so many hot topics and the last one that is helpful)
  • abusive pastors and the crazy $#^!^$*! they get away with (because charisma and our addition to kings & inspiration makes us compromise our integrity).

i can’t wait to hear some of your thoughts on them.

see you tomorrow. it’ll be fun to be back together here; i feel grateful for this space to ramble, rant, dream, and grieve.

peace, kathy

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Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

11 Comments

  • Welcome Back!! I love you, your voice, and your ability to make me feel normal… which is quite a feat! 😉 I’m prayin’ that your heart finds the space it needs to heal… so much loss in such a short time is hard on it.

    Reply
  • Having been a part of the refuge community for now over half its life, it is safe to say that the idealized dreams have long since woken up. 🙂 Thankful for hope in midst of darkness, and a clear feeling that we are not left all alone. 2013 has been bizarre so far, that is for sure. There is no place I would rather be, and no other people that I rather do life with.

    Reply
    • thank God we have a grief therapist on staff 🙂 um, yeah, i warned you that dreams were prettier when they were just dreams…i am with you 100% on your last line

      Reply
  • I have missed you and your voice so much! Congratulations on the amazing progress on the book during such a busy summer. So sorry for the losses within the refuge community, and so thankful for your more permanent space. Welcome back, dear friend!

    Reply
    • thanks dear mar, it’s nice to be back, too…it has been quite a ride. i thought of you so much in the writing of this first draft and look forward to your feedback once it makes it a little further along in the editing process with them. meanwhile, i’m so freaking excited it’s almost done!

      Reply
  • Hey Kathy. good to have you back.

    What I heard from Barb was with the refuge what she got was people being there and when she didn’t feel she could be loved, there were people to be loving. It was touching, thank you and her for sharing. Great tohear about the way you have come across the rent. See what did I tell you about God providing? *wink*

    Oh and by the way I don’t think I’ll be less crazy. I was told after doing one of my comedy slots that I am a crazy guy. I think its a compliment to be called that in that context *wink*.

    Don’t work too hard now that you are back!

    Reply
  • A new place? Hope you never went to the trouble of scraping the peeling paint off the outside of the Grange Hall, and repainting it.

    Looking forward to your new book. Do you know when it will be out?

    Reply
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