November 2018 Newsletter

**Thank you to all of our faithful supporters & encouragers through the years. We appreciate you so much & are excited to discover what direction Mountain Haven will be heading as we seek answers, rest, & direction this next year.

Financials: Monthly Revenue Required: $2700.00 and Monthly Revenue Received: $1300.00 Remaining Need:  $1400.00

Something Interesting or Unexpected that Happened Last Month: 1.) We were able to spend 48 hours at the Mayo Clinic and it was a reassuring and educational experience. This is a long road towards management, but we left with a little new information, and assurance that we are on the right track with recovery. 2.) Chris’s parents stepped out of their comfort zones and spent two days with the kids at our place in Duluth. It was a really great time for all of them. 3.) Had the best time with Brandon and Emily over MEA. Kevin was feeling good enough finally to hang out, laugh and eat together. It was such a precious time for us to be with them.

Top Prayer Requests: 1.) Pray for Kevin’s continued healing and our family to continue to  forge a path forward, he is still fighting a Fistula and a couple other issues. Chris to acclimate to working, Kevin’s surgery on October 31 to go well and bring relief, for Kevin to find the right kind of work and for our family to slowly reorient ourselves spiritually, emotionally, and financially after his health crisis of the last 26 weeks. 2.) Pray that we respond to change, the voice of our loved ones, the cries of our children with a response that reflects a transmuted self.

Mountain Haven -October 2018 Newsletter

Transmute Your Pain, Don’t Transmit it

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries: avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.  C. S Lewis (The Four Loves)

When I was driving over the big bridge connecting Wisconsin to Duluth this evening, I was struck by the beauty and magic of all the city lights sparkling on the hillsides of Duluth. It was really mystical. It got me thinking about how we see, what we see, and what others might see if they look at us from different angles. You see as I climbed the bridge, and got closer to the city the lighted landscape took on a different form. I saw less but saw more form, more concentrated areas of the city. I was able to see the traffic, the garbage that had blown on the side of the road, and the mess of the iron ore plant as I drew closer to it. The lustre and shiny lights that twinkled in the background were gone and the up close and personal view was often messy, and chaotic as I navigated traffic to get back home.

So it is with love, from afar- Oh boy is it magical, mystical, alluring, dreamy and romantic. But get me up close it is messy, selfish, frustrating, complex, and sometimes chaotic. There is sickness, attitudes, habits, personalities, beliefs, and behaviors to deal with every day- not to mention the family of origin patterns that we get stuck with. Sticky little beasts like avoiding conflict, shutting down, acting like a martyr, holding grudges, choosing silence over fighting to keep the peace, not making tough decisions, laziness, harshness, over simplifying life, religiosity, staying busy, putting on a front, making up excuses, and staying stuck. And that is only naming a few. I think our family of origin, or how we were raised or not raised, has a deep and lasting impact on how we love- both our lovers and our kids.

We can all reflect back and think of the parents that never fought, or the parents that fought too much, or the perfect Sunday dinners while hypocrisy reigned all week, or the passive father and domineering mother, or the angry father and the fearful mother, or the multiple divorces, or the abuse that was prolific, or the absence of one or both parents, or the idolatry of money or prestige or position, or our abandonment, or being spoiled, or being the kid the parents relied on too much, or the forgotten kid or the troubled kid, or the kid who experienced pain and learned to stuff it. Whatever our upbringing  we need to understand that all families transmit a message to one another. The word transmit simply means “to cause something to pass on, or to broadcast or send out.” ( There are so many messages that were transmitted to us from watching our parents love life, their relationships, and then messages we decoded or deduced from their parenting of us. Messages that were not always spoken with words, but were more “caught, rather than taught” (Stanley Ellis)

It is critical to evaluate these transmitted messages. To flesh out the nuances of what we came to believe about the value of our loved one, the idea of weakness, our thoughts toward struggle and pain, our ideas about suffering, our values and practices about money, our closely held ideas about faith and its expression, our beliefs about parenting our children, our thoughts about grace and law, our deepest held stances on what behaviors we expect from ourselves (and why), our practices involving conflict with others including our lovers and our children, and also our views on condemnation, shame and vulnerability (this is only to name a few of the transmitted beliefs we should start with).

We  start life out with a clean white canvas but, unintentionally, before we know it our canvas is littered with a picture we never dreamed possible. Possibly a picture more chaotic and out of control than we imagined. I believe this is subtle, and an undisciplined life unwilling to embrace the transformative and heartbreaking power of love will remain messy. Or conversely will remain reductionistic- with finely formed straight lines and the prescribed paint by number form that we started with. Unchangeable, and predictable. Formed out of the transmitted family of origin patterns that lie deep inside each of us. A stoic, stodgy, selfish kind of love unwilling to give more than the minimum required.

There are things like: strongly held habits, patterns or beliefs that we won’t challenge even though our loved one asks us to change or consider an alternative. Or the stuck ways of relating and living we engage in because we are afraid, and we feed the fear because as a child the fear kept us safe. We don’t confront, we hold the hurt in, we lay it down- but all the while we count the cost. Or like me, we hope that the love of our life can fill the void of abuse and pain that existed within us but when they don’t, we dismiss them and shut our heart down. This dismissive avoidant self I like to conjure up is super tough, super helpful, and can make it through anything, so she often masquerades as Kevin’s Love. But he is not fond of her because she is tough, and hard, and seems angry and self sufficient.

When we let our struggles, our pain, our abuse, our memories, our experiences (good or bad) be transmuted, we are talking about “changing or altering ourselves to a higher form” ( . The higher form is love. A genuine love of God, the other, and our self that arises from a surrender to the truth- and an intentional ripping off of our masks, and a tender and painful listening to our lover, and often others, about what they may see with in us. Our selfishness is in holding to the transmitted story, the false selves, and the tried and true ways. Our freedom and love will be experienced most in the surrender of our transmutation. A freedom to say that we will metamorphosize. Then acting with the best intentions towards those changes.

The scene up close should be just as lovely as the scene far away. What others see from afar- mystical, magical, romantic, and inviting; should hold even more treasure up close and personal even in the messiness. Kevin and I are learning to see the big, beautiful, twinkling, shiny story of our love from afar by working on the intricate, detailed parts of our story up close. We know that we will transmit only what we know, both to one another and our children, or we can transmute something brave and different. A whole new way of loving in truth, vulnerability, daring, and sacrifice. It starts by asking ourselves how the narrative of our family of origin experience has shaped us, affected us, derailed us, or caused us to be stuck. Then we slowly unpack our stuff- with one another- or with a friend or a counselor.

Truth has this uncanny power to bring light, and light has this uncanny power to then point us in a new direction. A new habit, a new tone, a new attitude, a new shift. These things look different for all of us; perhaps it is more sex, less complaining, more giving, less of your hobbies, more listening, more talking, more date nights, more involvement with the kids, less involvement with the kids, a career change, a life change, more fun, less fun, more learning, more openness, more truth telling, less faking it, less legalism, more discipline, more laughter- I think you get the gist. Little changes, day by day change the entire view, far away- and up close. And both views will be beautiful.


Comments are closed.