Sunday, December 28, 2008

Peace

I love my pastor.

I love going to church and coming away both encouraged and convicted. Both.

I have so many thoughts lately--thinking about my baby, my husband, my home, my job, my parents, my brother.... I alternate between thoughts: I worry, I recognize how blessed I am, I plan, I fret/worry some more, I cry because I'm both hormonal and happy...but all the while, there is always this thing inside me that craves...more. I think I'm craving peace.

But it's the kind of peace that my dad first taught on and then Beyers taught again today: the word "peace" means, in the Greek, to "set at one again" (this is my own translation-- I'm just sketching here). Beyers put it like this: drop a glass and it shatters into a million pieces. The process of putting it back together again is what it means to be set at peace: to be re-made whole. Dad, as a counselor, added his own twist to it: to have one's mind set at peace is to have it restored to sanity. I love both of these definitions.

I worry constantly-- some days I'm cool, but some days...wow. Stupid worrying. The kind of worrying that...well, yesterday Don and I went to the car wash (a really good one in Snellville-- I'm going to tell all of my students that they need to get jobs working at one of those this summer. Hard work, but honest and pretty good high school pay) and we were watching my car come through the wash itself (you could watch from picture windows-- my son will love watching this one day!). I knew that there is this one piece on top of my car that keeps wanting to come off-- it's a strip of something... I cannot describe it, but it's purely cosmetic and you wouldn't be able to tell if it came off completely. Anyway, I was watching and I said to Don, "Honey, what if that thing comes up?" and he looked at me and smiled and said, "You worry all the time, don't you?" It wasn't offensive and he didn't mean it to hurt me-- it was an observation. I had worried all day about little things. Worried that I wasn't entertaining him enough as we ran errands together-- our first day together, just the two of us, in ages. Worried worried worried.

It's not the first time we've talked about it. And I don't know where I picked it up-- I guess I've always been a worrier, and I'm praying for my children that this worry thing will not be passed along to them.

But Paul said that if we set our minds on Christ, that if we spend time before Him in prayer, that He will set our minds at peace. I can just imagine putting these things I worry about straight into His capable hands and Him putting those hands on my head: peace, be still. Where my mind has been fractured with worry-- doubleminded-- He will make it whole with trust.

Let it be, Lord. And thank You for the word.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

And then all is fine!

Fear is so fickle. It never tells you when it's going to show up, and then it leaves and doesn't call again until you have no time for it.

Today, no fear. Most days, no fear.

Until day before yesterday, when I started thinking about labor. :) But I have to admit, that was rational, "oh my gosh, you'd better get thee to a labor class thingy, and quick" kind of fear.

And today, I bought maternity tops. WEIRD!! But cool, too.

This whole thing is blowing my mind all the time. And can I just tell you, people treat you like stinking royalty when you're pregnant? My have-been pregnant friends know this already. I suppose that I have also made much of pregnant women in the past, but it's really precious. I'm not showing really, yet, to anyone but myself (stuff fits funny, etc.), but my friend Paige and I went shopping today and she's hilarious-- she tells everyone. Suddenly, people get really, really happy. The waitress at Longhorn's brought us EXTRA bread :) straight out of the oven and made sure to remind me that it was multigrain and good for me and the baby. A cashier at another store decided to give me a short dissertation on breastfeeding and the proper time to introduce cereal. At school, I've heard kids say, "Dude, be nice. She's pregnant!"

That's my favorite.

The only complaint I have today is this: I would LOVE Bailey's Irish Creme. It's not something I ever want, really. But today, it would be yummy. I'll settle for cocoa.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fear is like...

It's so weird how fear seems to just strike...like a snake: coiled, waiting around the corner for you to trip or pause or sit....


Things are coming along swimmingly and then I go and break my own rule: online medical info. Why? Why do I do these things to my brain? I can do nothing about the fact that I am 37 years old and pregnant! I'm a bit stuck on getting pregnant while not-exactly-skinny, too. Why do I have to go read the complications?

I am insane! Because this thing that has happened is a miracle! And I am doing everything that I am supposed to do to make sure this baby (boy) is born healthy and whole. And the rest, as my dear friend Amy says, is up to God. "He is knitting this baby!"

But the fear... the only thing I can compare it to sometimes is the feeling I used to get about 45 minutes into a flight (I haven't flown in so long...): oh my gosh. OH MY GOSH. How is this thing in the air? What happens if a bird flies into the engine? What if another plane's radar goes down? What if I poke this pen realllly hard through the wall of the plane? What if someone else does? I want off!! I WANT OFF!!

And there's nothing you can do once panic hits on a plane. Just breathe deep and pray and recognize that your butt is on the plane for the length of the flight no matter how you happen to feel about it. And repeat that one verse again and again:

God has not given us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power and love and a sound mind. 2Tim 1:7


The same with now: I am thrilled to be pregnant. I am beyond happy to be expecting a baby boy. I am amazed and astonished and blessed and overwhelmed. But I'm ON this ride, scary possibilities and all. I can't get off. I'm in. 100%. And if I let panic seep in, like the cold flush that rushes through my face and hands whenever it happens, I'm sunk.

So I put my trust in Him. And if you think of it, I'd welcome prayer :)


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Baby books...

One of my sisters-in-law (both of my sisters-in-law have been life savers during this pregnancy!) recommended a book to me and I finally got it today-- can't remember what it's called... oh yes-- The Pregnancy Journal: A Day to Day Guide to a Healthy and Happy Pregnancy. It's really good-- I appreciate the guided journaling that it provides. You know, I give my students writing prompts every day-- they write for the first 10 minutes of every class, and my hope is that it is helping them, but it never occurred to me that I might find my personal journaling helped with questions, too.

Because I have so many thoughts when it comes to this pregnancy. This baby. Worries (though not as many as at the beginning) about everything-- funny skin coloring (is it a melanoma? is it just my skin getting older? is it weird pigmentation the books all talk about), minor aches and pains (early labor or the uterus growing?), when will I feel the baby and know for sure that it's him/her? What am I really going to do about raising this child? Do I want to be a burden on my parents (who do not see it as a burden at all, not remotely, not slightly, not close to even hardly), will my child be scarred because I wasn't home with him/her, is it going to have some significant birth defect because I still cannot choke down vegetables? Is the baby being hurt when one of my students decides to show his/her butt and my blood pressure spikes suddenly?

But one of the questions in the journal that I bought asked, "Is there anything you want for your child that you didn't have growing up?" and Don and I both sat there for a couple of minutes, thinking about it... and we could both honestly say that we want our child to have EVERYthing we had growing up-- neither of us feels that we lacked anything. We had (have) godly, wonderful parents and siblings. We grew up in homes with adventurous fathers and nurturing mothers. And lots of laughter. The only thing that we came up with just highlighted that point: more time with the grandparents. We lived in Georgia while my grandparents all lived in Tennessee-- we saw them once or twice a year-- maybe more sometimes. Don really only knew his maternal grandmother. I have vivid, wonderful memories of all four of my grandparents, but I would have loved to have been able to spend more time with them. Don and I fully plan to have our child spend as much time with its grandparents as they can stand :).

But the other thing that this question made me think of was my spiritual inheritance. I grew up in a home with parents who were constantly seeking after the Lord. Mom and Dad became believers when I was a little child, so my earliest years were defined by my parents' radical baby Christian zeal: Keith Green and Second Chapter of Acts concerts, not to mention other Christian artists who were cutting edge at the time. I remember having communion in the living room of a young pastor named David, in a house that sat right beside the spot where the old town Ace Hardware store sits (the house has been torn down... I think a used car lot sits in its place). We had grape juice and pita bread. I remember sitting in Ronnie Starmer's living room while he led the simplest worship song, which he had written: "Jesus I love you, Jesus I love you, Jesus I love you, yes I do," while his little daughter, Holly, danced around in the middle of our circle. I remember Big Eddie, who was crazy as a loon-- a new Christian whose brain was fried from so many drugs and whose life tragically ended by his own hand-- and all of these other folks who were students at Heritage at the time (Randy and Lori-- they were seniors in high school and I thought they were the coolest. Their youngest child just graduated from Heritage last year. I love this small town). Mom and Dad drug us to every church imaginable-- from small house churches to huge mega churches, both filled with the Holy Spirit, to the more mainstream Southern Baptist where we learned the word of God in such a solid way. Always searching. But always cleaving to the Lord. I learned that the kingdom of God was made up of all kinds-- my dad always says that the kingdom is made up of "odd birds" :). I learned that Christians worshipped in so many different ways and while I was more drawn to the charismatic, I could appreciate the less demonstrative. I remember playing mom and dad's records in the den at our old house on Peggy Lane-- I would listen to the words and sing and dance and I remember feeling so strongly the presence of the Lord every time.... My childhood was saturated with God. Listening to my parents and their friends talk about Him, talking about Him with my friends (usually scaring each other while talking about the rapture), and thinking about Him. God is what I remember most about my childhood.

And that's what all of my hopes for this baby are wrapped up in. Don had a similar childhood (remarkably similar), but we both recognize that the times were different. It was the beginning of the Jesus Movement and so many former hippies were getting saved. Evangelism was a huge topic in the new charismatic renewal movement and the rapture was a constant topic, too. It was the 70's and, at least in my mind, the adults seemed less jaded than the adults I know today. Am I just exoticizing my own childhood? Entirely possible.

But even if I am, I still want my child to grow up in a God-soaked existence. I know that I walked away from the Lord for a season, when I was a teenager, but He was always real to me. I don't know how He did it, but there was this hook in my heart-- a huge place that always came back to Him. I remember a morning after a really long party. The kids had drifted off to spots on the floor to sleep off whatever they had done the night before and I was the only one awake-- I still hadn't come down off of whatever substance I was on and I was afraid that I was "stuck" like that. I remember looking at the ceiling fan in the room I was in and praying, "Oh God, I am so sorry. If you'll let me go to sleep-- if you'll keep me from going crazy-- I promise that I will serve you for the rest of my life." Two years later, I was on the mission field. My first thought in my moment of extreme panic was probably not unique-- I've heard of more than one person offering verbal contracts to the Lord in moments of extreme panic-- but God was always where I looked when I was afraid. My parents were praying for me daily.

And Don and I want our child to grow up in an environment where his/her first thought is always "God." We want the Spirit of the Lord to be so evident, so strong, so pure in this place... that our child will grow up with the faith that he and I have: steady and real. Through all of our mistakes and failures and expeditions as far from the path He had called us to as possible, we always held the knowledge of the Lord in our hearts. And when we were old, we did not depart from it (proverbs 22:6).

But I can't reproduce my childhood. I can't reproduce the same living room and den. I can't reproduce the moment when I saw that my father's nickname on his fire department helmet was "Radical" because once he found the Lord he couldn't shut up about it. I can't reproduce the kitchen table where my friends would end up sitting to talk to my dad about the Bible. I can't reproduce house church and watching my parents being totally free in the Lord, teaching me that it was okay to do whatever you wanted in worship. Surely, I have a rich inheritance. Now, how do I give that to my child?

I know, I know-- it will happen. It will just happen that we will be who we are and our little one will grow up in the family God called him/her to be in. If He had wanted him/her to be in a family in the 70s, that would have happened. But this baby was chosen to be born now, for such a time as this. And my prayer for him is that he would grow in the strength and knowledge of the Lord. That he would fear the Lord from his first breath. That even now, he would sense the presence of the Lord. And that he would crave understanding from an early age. My prayer is that he will choose God always. That he will passionately crave Jesus. That he will be odd, unique, curious, and always drawn to the things of the Lord. I think of Hannah, and secretly thought of her so many times before I knew that I could actually get pregnant... in my heart of hearts, I would pray, "Oh God, if I could only have a baby... I would commit him to you from the very beginning. I would bring him to the temple to serve you all the days of his life."

It is the cry of my heart to invest all of this in this little one. My heart is huge with it. I sense the fear of the Lord, coupled with a realization that while this responsibility is enormous, it is not wholly in my hands. There is One who loves this one far more than I can even imagine already. One who is knitting him/her together right now. The only One who knows whether it is a him or her! So my prayer is that He will help Don and me to do our version of what our parents did for us. I can't imagine how He'll do it. But I'm starting early-- this baby has already heard (I know he can't "hear" yet, but you know) lots of Keith Green being sung in my car!

Monday, November 3, 2008


Okay, I'm the first to confess that I have issues.


This baby kicked and flipped and moved around.... Good heartbeat, perfect size of the neck (looking for deformities, etc.) -- amazing. I've never seen anything like it. Never.


Here's a pic!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tomorrow

I'm completely crazy.

No, I'm serious. When it comes to worrying, I tend to be incredibly creative in figuring out new ways to do it. It's almost like there is something in me that craves worry... something so drawn to paralyzing fear. But it's something I am committed to giving over to the Lord. My pastor spoke of having the mind of Christ today, and this passage comes to mind tonight--

ICorinthians 2:13-16

13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.

16 "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

There is so much here, but the idea of having the mind of Christ...that humble mind of Christ that trusts God and His wisdom. That mind of Christ that trusts that His Father is perfect. That cannot ever fathom the sovereignty of God and chooses to look Him in the face and just trust... like the eyes of a little baby when it looks into the face of its mother: I don't completely understand you or who you are or why you love me, but you keep doing it and I trust you and look only to you. Simplicity.

We have an ultrasound tomorrow afternoon-- it's a perinatal exam; there will be some special stuff because I am over 35 and am considered "at risk" (for some reason, these words do not bother me one whit. Maybe because I watched my friend Ericka have 5 children, all over the age of 35). Anyway, we'll get a good look at the baby tomorrow and I am both excited and afraid-- and I hear that this is normal. I went to the doctor last week because I had some spotting the week before and they tried to hear the baby's heartbeat and weren't able to-- the doctor wasn't worried about that because I was only 12 weeks and she said that it was a bit early with the external thingy, but I wanted to hear that heartbeat again...

And on top of that, I've been feeling better-- who gets freaked out because they are feeling better? My goodness, what a nutcase I am! It was right on time, too--everyone has told me that I would begin feeling better around the 12th or 13th week (honestly, though, I am so easily influenced-- if experienced mothers had all told me that I would begin growing acorns out of my nose, that probably would have happened...). I told Don the other day that I just didn't feel pregnant any more because I didn't feel like youknowwhat any more. He just cocked his head to the side, looked at me funny and told me that I was insane.

It's true.

But if I have the mind of Christ, I will walk with faith. This baby is a miracle all around. But I go cold at the thought of walking in there and getting a bad report tomorrow...what if... OH but why dwell on such thoughts?

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8).

If I have the mind of Christ, I will be constantly distracted with the goodness and the wisdom of the Lord. I will trust Him that whatever is happening in my womb is under His strictest care. I will trust that He put that baby there in the first place, without us trying but always hoping in our hearts, and He has a purpose for it. Him. Her.

Whatever is true. Honorable. Just. Pure. Lovely. Commendable. Excellent. Worthy of Praise. I will stay my mind on Jesus. He is all of those things.

I remember when I was a teenager my mom handed me that verse written on a piece of paper during church one day. She must have discerned that I was walking through something that was bumming me out (who knows what it was-- teenagers... so happy to be done with that!) and those words were straight from the Lord. If I'm a worrier now, how much more will I be when this child is a teenager, aching and hurting like I was so much of the time? I want to be like my parents-- I know that they worried, but they prayed, too. Whatever is true. Whatever is lovely.

I will think on these things. And I will expect a heartbeat and a perfect report tomorrow. More than that, I will just expect the will of the Lord and the mind of Christ.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Overheard

In the hallway outside my classroom on Friday afternoon:

"Okay [hugs], 'bye-- I'll see you on myspace!"

"M'kay"

AND

At the homecoming dance last night:

Girl 1: Know how you always think people are watching you or reading your Facebook page or whatever? They prob'ly aren't.

Girl 2: True dat.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sigh

Every once in a while, I read something or hear a story that reminds me of that season in my life that seems to have cut me into two halves: before and after.

To be truthful, there were so hurtful elements-- can there be "infidelity" in friendship?-- but the only one that remains is the loss of two friends, an "older" married couple. The other thing was embarrassing, but didn't leave wounds that persisted. It's funny when I think of the couple-- they were at that time the age that I am now.

And I think about it all the time, to be honest. I'm not obsessive about it. I don't dwell on it daily. But it probably comes up once a week, or once every couple of weeks. When I smell Aveda's Rosemary Mint shampoo (it's what I used that summer in Israel)(it will also mean Israel to me, forever-- if you ever go, you should take it. It peels the diesel and sweat right off your skin and out of your nose. Didn't work as well in Edinborough. There, Jodi and I used straight peppermint in the palms of our hands-- peppermint is eternally Scotland). When I taste really fantastic milk (we accidentally bought cream for our cereal until we figured it out-- everything was written in Hebrew). When I pass the Seventh Day Adventist church on the way to school (who knew that they were vegetarian? We cooked the most wonderful meat in their kitchen pans, not even realizing that they were vegetarian AND kept kosher... and the hosts never said a word to us about it. So gracious). When I think about the fact that I am going to have a baby and this woman that I loved like the older sister I had never had does not know and will never meet him or her.

I am not obsessed. I simply think about it, I think, in the way that someone remembers someone that they love who has died. Because they are dead, honestly.

And I wonder, again and always, how? Not, "how could they have betrayed my confidence and embarrassed and humiliated me the way they did?" That's completely forgiveable. I have led, I have screwed up. There's room for that.

No, the how is "how do you abandon a friend"?

I guess my question is, really, what (oh, at the risk of sounding trite) is friendship anyway?

I hate even writing a question like that-- it sounds like a self-conscious free-write produced by one of my high school students. But then again, sometimes they ask questions that we think we are so much more sophisticated to ask any more.

But my ramblings on the subject get shorter and shorter, don't they?

This life is so full, so good... thinking about this has nothing to do with that. No, nothing. Just sadness that doesn't budge.

In other news, we're at week 11!!! Ah, beautiful life. I keep praying for the health and well-being of this baby... May seems such a long way off. My eyes are fixed on the One who said Yes and this one came into being...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Up late

Hm. For some reason blogger won't let me give this entry a title. No big deal.

I'm up late. Thinking. Hungry. Blown away by the pictures in the book Don and I were looking at tonight-- "In the Womb" is the name, I think. It's a National Geographic book, I think, and it follows the growth of a baby from conception to birth, with some of the most fantastic (in the truest sense of that word "fantastic") images ever.

Did you know that right now my baby has a face??? Oh my gosh. A face. And little tiny hands and feet. And it's the size of a grape, about 1 and 1/2 inches long. That its little placenta is now doing most of the work of balancing hormones and providing perfect amounts of nutrients and oxygen, etc., to the baby.

I can't sleep, I'm so amazed at this. This is a miracle.

I mean, okay-- I'm sick all the time. Who cares??? I'll get over it-- and this little person is my reward!!

Wow.

Wow. Imagine how God feels? Watching this kind of thing over and over again, breathing life into it (wow-- I have my spirit in here, the Holy Spirit in here, and my child's spirit, hanging out inside me, growing every second). It can't ever get old. I'm sure it doesn't.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Wisdom

First, here is James 3:1

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
2For we all stumble in many ways If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.
3Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.
4Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.
5So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!
6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.
8But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.
9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;
10from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
11Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?
12Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh. Wisdom from Above
13Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.
14But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.
15This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.
16For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.
18And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.



I know: this passage is intense. The thing that has been grabbing me by the throat for the last 10 years is that first verse: "Let not many of you become teachers, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment."

I've worked with many leaders over the past few years. I have had more fun, learned more than I could have imagined, been more heartbroken and disillusioned, and have gotten more healing and inspiration, than I could have ever imagined by being in positions of leadership-- both recognized "leadership" and functional leadership.

But, in a world where many things blow my mind, one of the biggest mind blowers of all is how quickly people run toward leadership without heeding constant warning from the word-- Matthew 18:6 says that it would be better for us to be dead than to stumble one of "these little ones who believe in Me." There are constant warnings for those who choose to say yes to any kind of leadership: live your life in such a way that no one can question your actions. Do your best to steer clear of sin. Cleave as close to Christ as you can get.

I can't tell you how many people, especially during my time at Agnes Scott, have talked to me about their aversion to the church primarily because of the examples of our leaders. As believers, we've all had that conversation with someone. Personal responsibility aside (it is ultimately the individual's choice for Christ or not), Jesus was very clear about OUR role-- as far as it concerns US, do not be the reason anyone avoids Him. Do not be the stumbling block, do not be the teacher who misrepresents the word, do not be the leader who says, "Listen to what I say, look at what I'm pointing out in the word," and then lives as if he has never read it himself-- looking in a mirror and forgetting his own image the minute he walks away (James 1:23).

I'm concerned with how much blood is on our hands, as the body of Christ. How many unfit or immature leaders we have installed in positions of influence-- their blood and the blood of those who were following them trails behind them. YES, God is a God of redemption-- my life is sound proof of that-- but we wonder why our battle skills within the body are so flimsy? We wonder why there is so much sin and hypocrisy among us? A cold reality at this moment is that we are not following the dicatates of the word when it comes to leadership-- we are not heading His clear warnings. We do not know the Word. We fill empty positions because they need to be filled; we procure people with talent but no heart; we buy entertainers and compelling speakers with no depth. We tickle itching ears with the things they want to hear and wonder why sin abounds in our very midst.

Sigh. I'm not addressing anyone in particular. I had a dream that bothered me and got me to thinking.... And every few months, I think of the most recent leader I worked with who bit the dust, and I wonder where WE went wrong-- how we were accomplices to his failure. And, as a teacher, I am compelled to never let it happen again on my watch.

Maranatha, Lord-- come quickly. Oh, how we need you in this place.

And how grateful we are that you are full of mercy!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Super Chicken - 01-The Oyster

Um...doing research on what we're going to allow our children to watch on television. So far, we've agreed on vintage Sesame Street, Schoolhouse Rock and Superchicken. Our child is going to be a total child of the 70's. All we need to do is add Fat Albert and we're talking total time warp.

c is for cookie

The best part of this skit is when the choir of monsters come up in the background...also, when Cookie Monster goes "OOOOOH, C is for cookie... OOOOOHHHH C is for cookie...."

I struggle with this...

just went to a website that is a sort of "facebook" for the missionary organization i worked with for most of my twenties, and i found myself struggling with a posted item... it was a missionary family looking for a nanny.

i'm sure it's just semantics. i'm sure that the thing that bothers me about it is what the word "nanny" entails to me-- it's sort of a modern equivalent of a "governess" in my mind-- it has an elitist, priviledged ring to it.

i struggled with it when i was in the mission, too. these volunteer workers are supported by local churches and individual church-goers. i have more than one friend who was "invited" to serve as some family's nanny but who was required to raise her own funds, pay her own way to travel to and/or with the family, and was not recompensed for her work in any way (okay, she was serving in the mission field-- she was recompensed, but you know what i mean).

my question is complicated. my struggle is complicated. in the mission, there are countless ways to serve. in the body of Christ, there are countless ways to serve. my friends who served as nannies saw their calling for that season to be serving the parents of young children whose families were deeply involved in [what was often] serious overseas mission work. both parents were working in whatever area it was at that time and they honestly needed someone who could watch after the babies while they were working. just like any family.

and i'm stymied right there. because that's totally valid. plus, who am i to judge another man's servant (the Lords)?

but it wasn't always the case that the family had two working parents. sometimes they just had a thousand kids.

i suppose the place where i struggle is that they are getting free child care, while the nanny is working her butt off in incredibly hard conditions (oftentimes), and she is paying to be there. she pays her own staff fees, she pays her own food/travel fees, etc., and she is not serving the community but an [often] American family. it's killing me, but it sounds so...colonial.

oh my gosh. is my opinion really that the mother should step back from ministry to raise the children she chose to have?

gosh, i don't know. i don't think it's possible that that is purely it. because the thing i really struggle with is the fact that they "hire" these nannies and do not pay them at all. it feels like the position is a luxury to the family and they are getting it completely free.

or maybe i just remember that once, i babysat for a family when i was in the mission and i was completely taken by surprise by the fact that i wasn't paid. i didn't know that it was sort of the culture in our organization that, if you babysit, you did it out of the goodness of your heart. the couple were headed out for a date night-- dressed wonderfully, going to a nice restaurant. when they returned, they paid me with a loaf of what was admittedly some of the best bananna bread I ever had in my life.

i hadn't expected that at all. i took the "job" babysitting that night because i was trying to earn money for outreach. where i came from, if you babysat...well... you got paid. i mean, my folks always paid my babysitters. and let me tell you, nathan and i made sure they earned every penny of it. :)

anyway. you can tell that i'm conflicted about it. because i can honestly see both sides. the nannies are serving the Lord by helping the mothers who are in ministry. but i'm wondering how they feel alright about not paying them at least something? "the worker is worth his wages" and all that. but aren't our children our primary ministry? or are we trusting that the Lord will cover that bill? both bills?

or maybe i just want them to use a different term. a different title. i have no idea what that title might be. not even any smart alek ideas. but i know that i have enough "more ideas" that i had better stop now. because i have friends who have done both and my aim is not to point fingers...i'm just wondering is all...

**I should add that this is what my husband said in response: "In the mission field, I'm sure that there are families who have prayed about it and nannies who have prayed about it and if they feel it's their calling then who am I to question how they serve the Lord?"

This is one of the four thousand reasons i am married to this man. He's so right. I repent. I'll leave the post just to leave his comment.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Captain Vegetable

I wanted to post this really irritating Sesame Street skit about Captain Vegetable, because I really need to watch it and be brainwashed back into eating them.

As of sometime last week, the mere thought of eating a carrot makes me want to hurl. A piece of celery? I'd rather eat snake meat. Lettuce? I can't even stand the way it SMELLS!

What is wrong with me?? A little tiny alien the size of a blueberry has taken over my body!!! I am drinking Perrier (and regular water) and eating crackers all day-- gone is the hummus, in absentia are the legumes, banished are the cucumbers... and there is very little else to eat. Those things I have listed are what I previously lived on. Tonight? Lean Cuisine broccoli (broccoli!) alfredo. It was fantastic. And ginger ale. I made Don move away from me so I couldn't smell his salad.

I could smell his salad.

OH, the drama!!

:)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Maybe it's just me... [update]

So, I took that post down because I received a couple of emails from friends who were concerned that this bit was about them, and it wasn't!!! The reality is, the friend I wrote about doesn't even know that I keep a blog and that's why I felt fairly certain that it wasn't a big deal to write about it-- but because I was keeping a secret (baby) last week, which was increasingly known to more and more people, several people fit parts of the description of that story!

And the thing is, it's not even remotely an issue-- we talked about it and it's completely taken care of! I'm chalking it up to raging, unreasonable hormones :)

It's all good!!
:)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Baby ....

Oh my gosh, I saw the most amazing thing today.

Today, I saw the beating heart of my unborn child.

Selah.

I cannot properly describe how that felt. Maybe I haven't even organized it into words in my own mind. I held Don's hand as we looked up at that screen and my fears were completely forgotten-- there was this gorgeous dark spot, with this tiny (I'm only 6 weeks) wooshing sound and this faint pulsing white spot (his/her heart only started beating this week) and it was like nothing I have ever seen.

It was a miracle.

How can you look at that and not believe? How can anyone remain in the darkness of unbelief when they are faced with the mystery of new life-- new life which has taken up residence in what you thought was a barren womb? And how can we ever fathom the mystery of what it means to be knit together in the smallest place by the biggest hands that ever were?...

There is so much to think about. So much to ponder. But here is this-- my heart does magnify the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant (Luke 1:46)

Wow.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Overheard

From one freshman boy to another freshman boy on a Monday morning, just before class started in 1st period:

"Hey man, did you know that if you burp and fart at the same time, your lungs will explode?"

"Nuh-uh"

"Yeah, dude, my brother told me."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

So here it is...

I'm pregnant.

Crazy, right? How wild it is to even type those words in such an incredibly public forum. 7 weeks pregnant. What a miracle.

And the crazy thing is, we weren't even trying-- and I didn't think it could even happen. I was fully prepared to see a specialist this fall in order to start trying in January. But the Lord? He knew. He always knows.

But I had no idea how scary it would be. At once, I'm completely excited and totally petrified. I've been surrounded by all of these pregnant women all of these weeks with no clue about what was going on inside my own body, but mesmerized at what they must be going through. But I didn't consider the constant awareness that your body is not your own. That every weird ache or pain would send my mind down fourteen possible paths, none of which are positive. That I thought hypochondria was bad when I was alone in my skin...but now, there's two of us and I need to get. a. grip.

But I never was alone. The constant, never-fading presence of my God was and is felt.

I woke up with spotting this morning. Just a bit, and it stopped after the first...well, I won't go into details, but it didn't last at all and was always pink and that was incredibly early this morning. I've downed about a million ounces of water today and haven't seen anything to lose my mind over (except for a tiny amount of darkish brown this afternoon and that was it). I called several of my pregnant or have been pregnant friends and got a ton of sympathy and advise and also called my doctor, who told me to lie down all day-- so I did and was bored like crazy. Called my mother about 20 times. And felt all kinds of ghost pains.

You know I'm not allowed to look at WebMD. I'm not allowed to even peek at online medical symptoms sites. Because if I read it, I've got it. So of course my left shoulder has hurt (ectopic pregnancy), but so has my entire body-- I'm aching like I'm about to get the flu-- but it's normal.

So I turned over a new leaf midday. I decided that I will only read the positive comments on this website my sisters-in-law both told me about (it's a great site: babycenter.com). Look, if something bad is going to happen, something bad is going to happen-- there is nothing I can do about it. I am taking great care of myself and am doing everything I can. The rest is up to the Lord and I trust Him. But I can't go feeding my imagination.

For 9 months. OH, the drama.

I need to be delivered of this fear!!

So, in the spirit of the Year of Not Taking Things for Granted, I am not taking these days and this feeling of something amazing happening inside me for granted. No matter what happens tomorrow, next week or next year, this is now and it's unlike anything I have ever experienced. And I am not alone in it-- even in the dead of night when my child's father (oh, the awe of those words) is sleeping peacefully and my usually-exhausted self can't go to sleep, I am not alone. My earthly father has always referred to the verse that talks about the fact that the entire universe is held together in the expanse of God's hands, and I've been thinking about that today, wondering what is going on with this little one buried deep inside me. God's huge hands hold the expanse of the universe but somehow, miraculously, can go so small and tiny that they hold the life of this baby in perfect balance, too. Amazing.

Not taking that for granted, no sir.

Thank you Lord!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hope

Here's the thing about hope: it's a bear. No matter how much you try to grab it by the throat, it just seems to rear its ugly head given the first opportunity. It's relentless. It's tirelessly optimistic. And if your hope is not in the One who is endlessly perfect, it will break your heart.

Fortunately for me, my hope is in Him. And things just keep coming up roses. Even if I don't always get what I want.

:)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Taking things...

Well, my fingers are about to fall off of my hand because, until a couple of weeks ago, I haven't played the guitar in AGES, and now I am leading worship every Saturday morning for the upcoming Chrysalis, for which I agreed to be head worship-- the weekend will be fantastic fantastic, but I am honestly looking forward to sleeping in the very first Saturday after that weekend-- the meetings started the first weekend after school started and I feel exhausted!! But the truth is only that I'd like to sleep in-- being with these women (and a couple of men) of God is so sweet, and listening to their talks is so encouraging. Anyway, I think that I will be able to pull off an F, which is a very big deal.

See, about 15 years ago, my best friend taught me that I could play virtually any song at all using only four chords: G, D, C, and E-- oh, and it was good to know A, too, but you could manage if you needed to without it. She was absolutely correct about that. I mean, you're definitely limited, but it's doable.

But there's this one song... "All who are thirsty/All who are weak/Come to the fountain/Dip your heart in the stream of life/Let the pain and the sorrow/Be washed away/In the waves of His mercy/As deep cries out to deep/We sing come Lord Jesus, come..." Beautiful. My heart just sings these words. Come Lord Jesus, come. That He responds to our thirst-- that He calls to the thirsty places in us, that He calls to the deepest hearts of who we are... And you just can't play this gorgeous song without F. I've been playing it tonight and am doing alright, but I'm really having to concentrate, which isn't always easy when you're worshipping, too.

So I'm playing it and I'm aware that I could fall apart completely while actually leading it tomorrow, and I wonder why that is. How can I just dissolve myself completely into Him and be able to just lead tomorrow? I guess just do that: dissolve myself into Him. But my fingers get all tight and I bear down too hard on the strings and hurt myself almost every time...how to "lose" myself like when I sing? I don't know the answer to it.

I had a friend in YWAM, Jonathan, who talked about how he taught himself to play guitar-- other than the fact that the guy is just a straight-up genius. He said that he got good and depressed and would sit in his room for hours and hours listening to the radio and playing what he heard them doing. When he told me, I think that he thought that this was helpful information. Um, no. I still can't play. And I've been depressed plenty.

Anyway, I'm going to just go for it. And I'm going to stop complaining about getting up early or having no Labor Day weekend because of the flight. It's an honor to be able to do it, but not just to be allowed, but to be ABLE.

I've realized that lately I've been taking some things for granted and I want to stop. In the last couple of days, I have listened to friends who are longing for a career they can love-- and I have one. Others are longing deeply for a husband...and I have one. There are those who wish they could return to school-- I did. Some who miss their parents-- and I still have mine. So many things to be grateful for-- who knows where to begin counting the multitude of blessings??

Anyway, there is no monumental occasion (like Lent or New Year) to mark this new thing I want to do, but I'm doing it today. August 15. The Year of Appreciating Things has begun.

I will start with my bed and go to it now.

:)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

worry

"And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his [Or height] life's span?" luke 12: 25

I just pressed "redial" for the 10th time in the last hour.

I've been trying to get in touch with Don all day-- he and a friend of his are kayaking somewhere today and I expected him back hours ago. But I'm kicking myself because I don't know exactly where they are kayaking and I guess I just sort of assumed they'd be back by 3 or 4. I mean, he left before I left for a team meeting this morning, around 8 a.m. He was sort of trying to tell me that he might be allllll day, I think, so I shouldn't worry, but of course I am. Did I worry like this before he fell off the scaffold?

I seem to always forget that the Lord has guarded us every day of our lives. I forget that God loves my husband more than I love him. I forget that I am married to a man who served in the Navy for 4 years and hikes and fixes things and is not stupid. I forget that he always forgets to power up his cell phone, so not answering it means that 1) the phone is dead, 2) the phone is safely in his truck so it won't drop in the river, or 3) in the river.

Still no answer.

I just saw that there are severe storm warnings and as I mentioned, I don't know where he is exactly. Normally we have all of each other's information, but I was rushing out the door and nervous about leading worship for the first time in a while and was completely distracted. I'm not even sure what he was wearing. Why didn't I pay closer attention?

So I place him in the Lord's hands again and always. He is just precious to me, and it's not precious like "preshuss" -- I waited so long for him. I waited and waited, and there he was, the most amazing friend I ever had, the most wonderful husband-- perfect for me. A perfect fit intellectually, spiritually, personally...everything. He is not replaceable.

Worry gnaws away at your gut like a rat and there seems to be no salve, no balm for it until it is relieved. Sometimes I struggle with it so intensely, it feels like being stuck in a labyrinth-- no out, no way through, just longing for relief. Have you been there? Where imagination begins to take over?

Imagination, vain imaginings, kicks in and I picture his beloved body crushed at the foot of a scaffold, chipped and bruised. I relive something I never saw-- his feet sliding down a brick wall, his body hanging in the air, no one around-- no one saw him fall but Jesus. Even he doesn't remember. I imagine how close he came to leaving me and I begin to panic again... and I dial his number again and forbid myself from looking at the weather report again.

That worry...it does not produce one valuable thing. I don't clean when I am worried. I don't read. I don't do anything productive. I seize up, feel paralyzed, feel sick and stunned with it. And I despise it.

So I pray again for his safety, for his phone call, for his life-- and I remember that worrying does not add one moment to any of our lives and I think that it must take away from mine. I want to become more like Jesus, looking up to my Father in heaven and trusting Him to be perfectly wise and strong and able to care for my husband. I want to be full of faith like that.

But I am grateful that, until I have grasped that kind of faith-- until I have been delivered of this spirit of fear-- His grace is able to cover both of us. All of us.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sleepy

...but I just wanted to write to say hello. I haven't dropped off the face of the earth-- it's just school time! :) Tomorrow night is open house and we are frantically getting things done-- my team is in pretty good shape because we banged out some of our work a couple of weeks ago. As always, there are minor glitches that are beyond our reach, but no big deal. It will all work out.

Anyway, I'm so excited about the kids. Can't wait to see them and to see what the year will hold. I struggled last year with the thought that I would never be able to love a group of kids more than [insert previous year here], but as always, hearts unfold and children wiggle their way in. I just keep seeing the faces of my then-strangers on the eve of open house, and how they became so dear to me only a few months later. It will all happen again tomorrow night. Wonder who my Horatio will be-- he was my student who made sure that he was the FIRST to shake my hand last year :). Wonder who could possibly step up to take his place...

To bed!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hypochondriac's Nightmare


You have to see this. This woman had a 140 lb. tumor removed...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Katie Reider

Please see the stuff I posted to the blog this morning. There are so many things happening, and I want so much to write, but for now I'm going to spend some time praying for my friend Dana's family-- her husband's sister passed away this morning... his mother passed away in the last year also.... I love our God, but sometimes I don't understand His ways... so I'm going to pray about that, too....

Blessings--

Katie Reider Fights for Her Life

And another...

And another...

Another short video.

Katie Reider

This beautiful young woman passed away this morning. I didn't know her, but her brother and sister-in-law were dear friends of mine in YWAM and I wanted you to pray for them this morning, if you would. The blogsite, so you can read her story, is http://katiereider.blogspot.com/ , and if you go to iTunes (or even look on YouTube), you can hear this voice.... Such a stunning voice and generous spirit. And now, she knows all of the secrets of the universe...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

This love

I remember, sometime when I was a kid, yelling at my parents, "You HAVE to love me-- you're my parents!!" Do you remember saying those identical words, or at least thinking them, to your folks? I remember even saying it to God-- You have to love me. You made me. As if their love-- the love of parents and family that is causeless and seemingly bottomless and exists regardless of what you did or did not do-- is less real than the love of people who meet you, find that the things that they like about you outweigh the things that they don't like about you, and then offer friendship love. Those friends, boyfriends, spouses, picked you. Parents don't get to pick. They don't get to choose. We are simply thrust upon them. So their love doesn't count as much.


How off is that?


When I looked down at Ella the other day, I began to cry. We all started laughing, but everyone in the room understood: there are no words for what I felt. It was primordial, if you'll excuse the word. It sprang up inside my heart, this fierce passion for a little girl I had only held one other time, the evening of her birth. In her face I saw all of my baby pictures and my little brother's face. I saw my sister-in-law's red hair and unattached ear lobes :). She looked up at me with enormous blue eyes and beautiful rose-bud lips and it occurred to me that there was not one thing I would refuse her, ever. My flesh and blood. I knew that I loved her immediately. I loved her the evening of her birth, I loved her the minute my brother told me he was having a daughter, and I was seized with loving her last Sunday.



And other than being desperately cute, she had done nothing to earn my love. She hadn't performed any feats of wonder, kept any of my secrets or regaled me with entertaining stories. She had never helped me out in a time of need, nor had she noticed anything especially important about me. I had to love her.


And it's no less important than someone picking us.


What I mean is this: we were chosen, in Christ, before the earth was even established. Before we had made one wrong (or right) move, we were loved. Each of us, individually and corporately as a species. I don't get it, but I know that it is the truth. And this love that we are loved with is not even remotely related to our ability to earn (or lose) it. It exists because He exists and because He loves us deeply, passionately, and without just cause. In the same way that my niece-- both of them-- has captured my heart without having "earned" it-- loving her because I have to love her is the only way to love her. This is a love that knows no boundaries.


And she's not even my daughter. Can you imagine (some of you can) how it must feel to love a child you've given birth to? Oh my gosh, the torment and the joy of it.


Anyway, it's something I've been thinking about-- those fights, that desperate desire to feel loved that every teenager seems to be tormented with (and not just teenagers-- but it's that desperate need coupled with the sheer lack of rational thought that seems to really bruise them).



See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him... (1 John 3:1)



Oh for the faith to fully receive that into our bones....

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Cardboard Testimonies

Just watch this. Yes and amen to this.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

new birds

i like the word lovely
painted and spilled on and mopped up with linen
and i love the word like
and the way it holds you on its fingertips
and i need the word still
and all of the quiet concentration and
leaned-into-it almost tripping in front of it-ness
that it implies and whispers and groans and sings
and i hope the word here
with promises and promises and promises
torn and etched into the face of things.
but i always like the word lovely
and the way it creaks its heavy fragrant load
into my hair and my pores and my dreams
and i'm wrapped up with pink and maybe and perhaps
and i will expect the somehow
the way water appeared that time in the woods
in frosty, lovely aluminum cups
and bit our throats all the way down
like birds chirping in new paint
soft like down, sweet like you.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

ENFJ

Don has been in the mountains since Sunday and I am about to die without him here.

At the same time, I'm loving all of this...solitude. I could be doing stuff, but I have chosen to be completely quiet every night and it's so weird. Went to group this morning (which was awesome-- I'm really convinced that we need to offer this course to teachers-- it's a parenting group that Dad and I are facilitating through an anti-child abuse organization here in our community and some of the attendees are send through the courts while others are there on their own) and realized that I hadn't spoken to anyone since sometime yesterday afternoon. After group I went to the doctor (hypochondriac is fine) and then to work in my classroom. Other than chatting a bit with Scott and Officer M., I was completely alone the entire afternoon (and a convo about the 4th with Kristen).


And it was good.


I'm supposed to be completely driven to be around people. My Meyers-Briggs thing says that I am an ENFJ, but really I'm on the line for most of those. I was almost half and half on a couple of them. But have you ever notice that the older you get, the more you kind of...mellow out? But I wonder if that's true of introverts. Seems like introverts might stay introverted, while extroverts seem to discover that being alone is pretty nice sometimes... so does that mean that the introverts have it all right? I KNEW it. Dang.


Anyway, I'm kind of rambling here. Must have something to do with the voice that has not come out of my mouth much. Got a lot of thoughts all jumbled up in here!



Bullet points, just to get them out:

-people are weird.

-i miss my husband.

-i wish Big Love was still on.

-i'm concerned that i won't be able to watch Ghosthunters tomorrow night because Don isn't here.

-i'm really, seriously frustrated with a couple of situations that i have absolutely zero control over.

-i miss my nieces and sometimes think, wouldn't it be cool if it was like Little House on the Prairie times or early-American times when families lived in the same towns and stayed near each other? oh my heart, i miss baby ella. made worse because i don't know when we'll see her again. must make time with chandler, too, and soon. she'll be walking before we know it. and she's straight up adorable.

-i'm so excited about school coming up. nervous about teaching bible. it will be fine, but still nervous. if the roster i saw is correct, that class is HUGE and it's made up of Caroline's former students because she was going to be teaching it before it was given to me. great. we'll have students striking the first day of class. plus, did i mention that it's huge?

-i want to let something go, but i can't. am i still hurt or just really, really curious? both, maybe. what am i hurt about? being embarrassed. old, old situation. maybe i'm irritated, too.

-was it just me, or did my doctor seem to be completely checked out today? i'm sure she's great. it was weird. anyway, i'm okay, so that's good. oh no-- isn't this how old hypochondriacs act??? like their doctors are never good enough? oh my gosh...

-did i mention that i miss my don? he'll be home soon. and i'll talk his ears off. pray for him :)



that is all. oh, latest picture of ella and me :)

Ella and Papa!

Monday, June 30, 2008

how not to pick up chicks

Oh my gosh, this is hilarious. And creepy. Apparently, it's real, too. I saw this on another blog and I'll try to find the link to an article that she posted along with it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

To laugh often and much

To laugh often and much:
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children,
to earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends,
to appreciate beauty,
to find the best in others,
to leave the world a bit better
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch,
or a redeemed social condition,
to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived:
This is to have succeeded.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson



What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

from the Westminster Shorter Catechism Project, Thomas Vincent

Friday, June 27, 2008

It happens that fast

The first thing I saw this morning was the smiling face of my husband. He was up early, dressed and packed for his day kayaking on the Yellow River with Joshua and Nolan. He kissed my forehead and woke me up, saying, "Thank you for my birthday present Samantha. I can't WAIT to get on the river!" He has been planning on today all week long.

About 10 minutes after he left the house, he called me. "Hey, I just had a wreck down the street. You think you could come down here?"

I hate those phone calls. But there is one thing about this one that I loved: it was Don calling me, not the Sherriff's dept. or an emergency room nurse. Not like last time. Not one bit like it.

And shockingly, I was completely cool about the whole thing. The wreck happened less than half a mile from our house-- he had gone to the gas station close by and then doubled back to go to old town. I saw him pass the house and waved right before the wreck happened. I prayed as I came over the hill that the Lord would just breathe peace on me when I saw the truck and saw him.

My sweet husband looked heartbroken. Standing there, blood running down his face, he was looking at the back end of the little truck he loves so much (crumpled a little but fixable-- he drove it from the scene) and at the kayak I gave him this weekend for his birthday. There's a hole in it now, along the bottom where it scraped, I guess. While he is my husband, a strong, completely capable and mature grown man, I saw a little boy for a moment, so disappointed. There were all of these police around, cars slowing down to look, an ambulance driving up, but all I saw was my boy and I knew what he was feeling. He really wanted to be on the river today, and he felt like a dork for getting into a wreck.

We never leave the house without telling each other we love each other and kissing. It's what we have always done, but especially after he broke his neck in '03 (I have a growing collection of Don-in-the-hospital pics!). You just can't ever tell what is going to happen. One minute, you're headed out for beans and a jar of pickles and the next...

But here's something I know, and it might sound trite or addle-brained, but I don't care: I know that God is in control of this whole thing. I feel...honestly...certain that the Lord was in that moment. He knew the what and how of what my husband was headed toward when he passed the house again. Don, of course, was sitting there pounding his fist into his knee when we were at the hospital getting his cut fixed, saying, "Dang. If I had just... or if I had only...." There are so many other possibilities-- if I had just kept my mouth shut, if I had only said no to this trip, if I had only waited for that HR person to get back with me before taking a different job, if I had turned left instead of right...

But I have to believe that, while we are housed in these earthen, breakable vessels, we have an unbreakable God who is actively in our every moment and He directs our paths.... Is it possible that this had to happen this morning?

I don't know. I don't know the other guy's circumstances. He wasn't hurt, but his car took a hit. And there are plenty of really bad things that happen in life, too, that God isn't exactly "behind." I don't know. It's all about His sovereignty isn't it? And that's at the top of my list of "Things To Ask Jesus When I Get To Heaven."

Either way, my man is alive and well right now and I am grateful beyond words. How I lived for so long without him is a mystery to me-- and I'm not finished living all of my days with him. He is the funniest, sweetest, kindest person I have ever known, packaged in a brusk, sharp-edged man-- and a perfect match for me. How grateful I am that I am writing this right now... not trying to figure out funeral arrangements.

Let's all be grateful today, right? Things can always be worse. No matter how bad you might think they are right now.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Put on love

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3: 12-15 (NAS)

Oh these words!!!! NIV says, "Be tolerant of one another and forgive each other if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, you also should forgive."

I had lunch with a friend this afternoon and I was overcome with this intensity of love for the Lord, and I am just blown away with His goodness and how beautiful His words are. "Be tolerant of one another" and "put on love"...

He said that He is coming for a bride that is spotless-- a bride who has made herself spotless. Here is my challenge to us: go out and make things right with anyone you have anything against. We don't have to be best friends. We don't have to rush out and have a spend the night party or even feel incredibly tender toward the other person, but to establish that bond of unity that will actually draw the attention of the Lord toward our obedience... yeah. Don't you want to see Him? I do, too. The friend I was having lunch with is sort of on a different page than I am spiritually, and she is so much fun to talk about this stuff with, but I was just overwhelmed with the reality of Him and His words when we were talking today...

Put on love.

In faith...


You thought I was going to write something deep, didn't you? I know that you have come to expect only the most insightful, well-thought-out musings of a would-be theologian, but alas, even brainiacs like me have common thoughts... :) ha!

So, to the left you will find my new couch. Yes, I found my new couch after my brilliant friend and colleague, Rachel, pointed it out to me. She nailed it, in fact. She saw it and knew that I would love it. Friends, she was correct.

As you can see, it was only one of thousands of nameless, faceless cathedrae, but Rachel called it forth to its destiny: "Hey Sam, you have to see this couch. It's totally you." And behold, it was so.
Only it's going to go through a complete transformation. Kristin and I went to the place to get it (um, did I mention that I paid $15 for it? No joke) and drove it straight to the upholsterer's place. Upholsterer. Hm. Odd word. To be completely honest, I spent about 15 minutes of time on the drive back to Conyers thinking about the word "upholsterer" and wondering if it would be more accurate to call it the "miller." And then I began to think about the surname "Miller" and how cool it was that people drew their names from their professions sometimes-- unless your profession was something having to do with throwing out the garbage or burying people. I remember being in 4th grade, looking up name meanings with Mrs. Redding, whose maiden name was Hudgens, like mine. She had this fantastic way of making me feel smart and interesting-- she was one of the greatest teachers I ever had. She would lean down to me and ask me questions and look absolutely captivated with my answers, proudly reminding everyone that we were "most likely family" and saying things like, "from one Hudgens to another!" all the time. But then there came the day when she discovered that it was possible that our ancestors were likely in the business of feeding pigs. "Hog sloppers, Sammi. But probably the best the farmer could hire!"

Of course, she was just guessing. Later I found a book of surnames that suggeste that the name came from a combination of the names "Hugh", "Richard" and something else, and (it's been a while since I did that research) somehow had to do with spirit, mind and body. I like this better. Very spiritual.

Anyway, our couch is going to kick butt. The shape is GREAT!! Exactly what I've been looking for. But where you see the three sets of three buttons, there will only be three sets of one button, with no gathering. Also, I'm looking for a gorgeous red fabric-- if you're in the Atlanta area, feel free to make suggestions!! You can post it here or email me.

And why did I post this under the title "In Faith"? Because I am putting together the perfect living room in my head... but it's kind of in another house. In a house we would love to have. Maybe one day? Who knows what God has in store? Something good-- that's for certain.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Baby Ella

Oh my gosh, we are blessed. I have these two stunning nieces and a thousand pictures...

I spent the afternoon with my newest niece, Nathan's daughter, Ella. It's amazing how much she looks like our family. Just like my little brother, and apparently just like my baby pictures, too. It's completely incredible. God is so wise, the way He creates families. You know, I even have a friend who was adopted as a baby and she looks like her birth parents somehow.... I don't know. Anyway, Ella (and Chandler) belongs to us. And it's amazing.

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Hm. I think of how much my heart is FOR this little girl and it occurs to me that if I can love her this way, after one afternoon and because she's my blood, how much more does the Father adore us?

And can you imagine Simeon??? When Lucy handed Ella to me this afternoon, I couldn't help myself-- I began to cry. And my beautiful niece is looking up at me with my brother's eyes and just staring at me with the most precious little expression, and I was undone. Can you imagine how Simeon felt when he held Jesus as an infant, knowing that he was holding the redemption of mankind? I mean, I have dreams for Ella to go to Agnes Scott and major in some brilliant thing and live a long, happy, fruitful life, and I can imagine that anything is possible for her...but Simeon held the center of all of our hopes. In his arms. And he was undone.

I can't believe how secure God is, to make Himself that vulnerable. To cloak Himself in a skull that is not fully formed for the first few months, and to live in a body completely dependent upon mortals to feed it healthy, good food and keep it from infection. To be held and kissed and loved, too. I wonder how that felt to Him....

Anyway, off to bed. I'm missing my nieces something fierce. We should get some Swaney babies up in here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

So, um...

it's late again.

I'm up hoping.

Hope is such a funny thing...like singing into a cavern-- you can hear your voice echoing all pretty and graceful off the walls and you wonder if the loveliness is only being heard by you. If it's wasted on no audience at all. But then there's God.

But then there's God.

I have this thing that I've wanted for exactly one week. One week is not a long time to want something badly, but there it is and I want it. I've been wrestling with superstition, doubt, fear, anxiety and hope, joy, euphoria, and anticipation for seven days and I feel exhausted.

I wonder-- how much does our wanting something matter? If it's not something bad, and it seems to be something good, how much does our desire for it play into God's plans? My friend Amy and I were praying about it and she had this image of God leaning down over her little boy Joshua, putting his hands on his little shoulders and saying, Hold on. Not now-- just wait a minute.

I can see that. I can see that I need the Father heart of God to hush my anxiety sometimes.

Don says that I did this with him, too. He's right-- what is it about me that has such a struggle with waiting? I wonder if sometimes I think, "Oh no! This is such a fantastic [deal, man, trip, job]-- how can God ever top this??? If I don't get THIS one RIGHT NOW I'll never have another chance."

Again, God made trees. Loads of them. Each one is perfect in its way and God was able to recreate the miracle again and again....

Still, I'm hoping for this one thing this time, and call me anything in the book that you want to call me, but one thing I am for SURE is loyal. I know this about myself. When I see something or someone I love, I'm loyal to a painful fault.

So, if you're a pray-er and you want to pray with me, just pray that God's will would be done. Of course, it will be-- so I don't understand why Jesus wanted us to pray that, really, but He did, so I will. Let His will be done.

I'll let you in one what I'm talking about later. Until then...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

How Do You Know?

So, I'm thinking about what it means to wait on the Lord and I found this fantastic article.

I'm still waiting, but I have to be DOING something with my brain while I'm waiting, so I start wondering. Wondering if it's cool to ask for prayer for something like a house or a car from a friend who is in full-time missions and up to her ears in NEED. Is what I want/hope for/desire even remotely triggering a bump on the scale of things God cares about?

Of course the answer is yes. But it's also no. Because it's not about what we want, is it? It's about the heart that wants it and the One who has plans that we have no idea about.

So...how do we pray? Jesus already told us. Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.

That's a good solid prayer.

Do you have to stop yourself from saying, "But..." when you get a good hard look at it? I do sometimes. Because I spent years in YWAM in the schools of intercession talking about prayer, praying, researching prayer, studying prayer, etc., and it got complicated. Don't get me wrong-- I don't think that stuff was wrong. I think it was RIGHT. But I also think that there is something so simple that we are missing sometimes.

Because I get it into my head that I have to pray just this way or cock my head to the right and say just this combination of words or ... and it doesn't stay there long, but it's superstition that we are sort of wired to lean toward. I can make it happen or not happen because everything that happens can be controlled by me in some way.

Nuh-uh.

I had some friends who meant well but whose theology was a little wack-o and I didn't realize it until I was able to stand back and look at some advise/opinions/actions with distance of time and space. They wouldn't walk into certain stores or talk to certain people because of spiritual residue or something (for the sake of full disclosure, I am now one of those people in their book), and it occurred to me that this didn't fit well with that whole conversation in Colossians:

If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!" (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)-- in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence...Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth (Colossians 2)

That's a loose correlation, but my point is that He hasn't called us to be superstitious people. Not to pollute ourselves either, but not to fear walking across the threshold of a book shop in England because they have New Age paraphernalia-- hello. My Father made all of this. I don't have to be afraid of the trinkets of the enemy. I'm not cavalier either, but anyway...what was my point?

Praying for things could be simple, right? Jesus, please do your will. I trust you. Thank you.

OH, for that simplicity. In my head, I'm fighting a war, but who fights it really? Is it really us?

Yes and no-- Daniel fasted and prayed for all of those days-- when the angel of the Lord FINALLY made it to him with the answer to the prayer, he told Daniel that he had been fighting the Prince of Persia that whole time. Our understanding is, then, that Daniel's praying and fasting helped that situation. I need to read that passage again.

I know we're called to come alongside the Lord in prayer and ask ("You do not receive because you do not ask"). Just ask. And to bring pure hearts before Him. Pure motives. That we would check our hearts and motives as we pray and that He would direct our prayer the way He directs our paths.

Until then, there are the things we want. And He is our Father and He loves us.

So I have something I want desperately. Here I am, asking. Jesus, I'm asking. I'm asking you to see it, hear it, and to do Your perfect will-- not mine. I trust you.

That's a good prayer.

Monday, June 9, 2008

There is no way...

...but what if there was?

Have you ever seen a real live miracle? Have you ever witnessed an honest-to-God impossibility happen? I think that we have long ceased being amazed with child birth-- I mean come on. It happens all the stinking time--but it remains an amazing thing that science has yet to perfectly imitate. It remains a mystery and a miracle. Where does all the stuff come from to MAKE the baby? And the baby that hatched it? And the baby that hatched it, and so on... Who pushed the universe into starting in the first place (Descarte's theory of perpetual motion, anyone?)? We all know that it was God. How He did it? Well, that's between Him, Him and Himself. We'll know eventually.

But today, I'm wondering about miracles and wondering if we don't see them often because we aren't looking or we simply don't believe or we are just so stinking jaded.... You and I are walking miracles in every way, but it sounds too trite, really, to push that. We say it all the time. But here's what I always think when looking at the impossible: God made trees. Grass. He engineered the whole thing. So...why can't He perform other miracles? All the time?

He can.

Hm. And He probably is. Are we sitting on the edge of our seats in "hopeful expectation"? Galatians 5:5 says, "For we, [not relying on the Law but] through the [Holy] Spirit's [help], by faith anticipate and wait for the blessing and good for which our righteousness and right standing with God [our [a]conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action, causes us] to hope."

So what we're waiting for there is Him Himself-- the prize of gazing with wonder upon His glorious face, walking in His grace-- but that word "wait" shows up with "hopeful expectation" a LOT in the Bible. And that word wait doesn't really mean sitting with your hands in your lap-- the implication of the word is one of sitting forward, on the edge of your seat. Anticipating. Hm. Hopeful expectation.

What do we expect of the Lord? What are we really looking forward to on a daily basis? Are we looking for the same old, same old, or are we expecting Him to be the amazing Person He can't help but be?I want Him to change my mind... to expect miracles that will bring Him glory.

Following Him is full of such amazing opportunities.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Just kidding

Not about the quiet time part-- that's for real. But about the burn-out part-- I think I was just tired (and hormonal). Anyway, I've been reading a gorgeous book-- Anne Lamott's Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. Lamott is anything but traditional, slightly scandalous, seriously funny and really seems to have a handle on the love of the Lord. Which messes with me big time because she refers to God as "She or He," which is something that always sticks in my craw.

Still, it seems like I'm missing the point when I get caught up in that, and I feel happy when I feel like the Lord is taking my fingers-- fingers which get good and cramped while wrapped around an issue I think is critical-- and peeling them back. I don't want to miss the point that she's absolutely correct when she talks about the sweetness and goodness of the Lord. When she talks about forgiveness and grace-- because she's walked in it. Sure, we disagree politically, but I am certain that this woman and I will stand together before the Lord one day, worshipping Him forever.

So I asked the Lord, "Are you a man or a woman?" And I felt His response sort of like this: You can't define me in human terms. You are sprung from me, not the other way around. Male and female, I created them-- it's all found in Me. You are a reflection-- imperfect, marred, but a reflection-- of Me. Your parts are miniature reflections of Me. I am so much bigger than your small definitions and labels.

(it seems like it's kind of like saying to a mom or dad, "You look just like your son." Their response seems to always be the same: "No, he looks just like ME.")

And in that, He chose to reveal Himself to us as a Father. He describes Himself as a mother and identifies with motherly things, too, in the Old Testament, but primarily He is described as and referred to as a male entity and I have no problem with that. In fact, I honestly do prefer it-- I know that we all have our ideas, preferences, etc., but I do believe that the Word is completely Holy Spirit inspired and that He chose to identify Himself in a certain way-- that's good enough for me. It isn't a slight to women. It's simply our Maker knowing the best way to reveal Himself to us, to communicate with us and provide some framework for us to understand and refer to Him.

Sigh. I just can't wait to see Him one day. Not before my time, but at the perfect time. To stand in His presence and KNOW. Meanwhile, I'm determined to seek Him and see Him where He will be found. And tonight, He's showing me lovely things through that crazy Anne Lamott.

So anyway, I'm not burnt out. I was just tired.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

so, uh...

...does "burn-out" feel like intense boredom and a general lack of vision?

I think I need to do a Bible study ASAP. I actually got mad at my husband today when he suggested that the reason I didn't have a lot of vision for something I've always had vision, passion and excitement for might be the fact that I haven't had a quiet time in...well... shut up-- how's YOUR quiet time?[I asked].

Oooh, testy. Gotta take care of that. When there's very little honey or sweetness in our responses, it could be a key indicator that we've spent too much time away from the source of all sweetness-- Jesus. We can be saved and loving God all day long, but it's so easy to let intimacy sort of, well, fall to the wayside. Like forgetting dates with your spouse. You have to be intentional. It's worth it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Yay! Summertime!

So, I am staring down the barrel of the first summer of freedom in many, many years-- and it's freaking me out a little bit! I mean, I'm not doing nothing, but it's not at all like summers before I was in school, or the summers during school. This kind of feels...well...settled. I guess I haven't felt settled in a while. Well, I feel settled while all around me, everything seems to be rushing--

And that brings to mind the word transition again. So many of the people in my life, both personally and professionally, are in serious transition. My college kids are in serious transition in multiple, mind-numbing ways-- it sometimes occurs to me that they are pretty much champions and they have no idea, just traversing the waters of your late teens/early 20's: they are working their way from high school to college (or full time job) mentality; living at home and relying fully upon parents to getting out on their own (or beginning to feel the responsibility to get out on their own) and figuring out how to survive as an adult; dating with no real possibility or expectation of "permanence" to dating that could possibly lead to marriage (and all of the other complications that come with dating when you aren't 100% accountable to your parents any more); going to church every week because your parents will cut your butt off without a dime if you aren't completely active in youth group to going to church because there is something inside you gnawing away at your peace and you need God and relationships and all that being in church can bring. The faith of your parents is now not good enough. They have to make it their own. And while those things are huge, there's so much more. Figuring out your post-high school identity, rethinking friendships, stocking your own refrigerator....

My students are in serious transition, too, and I am thinking of trying to tackle that theme in a few units this year-- I don't know that the 9th graders will get it as quickly as the 10th graders will-- sometimes it's harder to see things when you are swimming in the middle of it all.We'll see. But they are transitioning from middle school to high school, they are transitioning (if in church) to older youth groups and friends who can drive. I watch them transition from short little squirts with bad hair at the beginning of the year to slightly taller squirts with marginally better hair-- some change significantly. Their hormones are changing, intensifying-- kids who never noticed the opposite sex are suddenly completely useless because of it. The course work in high school is different-- the expectations from adults in every arena change. What was good enough just a few months ago (even weeks ago) isn't good enough now. I imagine that their heads are spinning. It's so sudden. Can be so incredibly stressful.

I have colleagues in transition-- retirement, promotions, moves across the country, horizontal transitions. Packing up offices and loading up cars, subtle changes in paradigm (what is intensely important to one person in the final staff meeting of the year is of little or no consequence to the person on their right or left).

And for those of us in the world of education, we get these pauses between paragraphs-- summertime. Time to clean out Joshua's room. Time to invest in a better blender and visit my sister-in-love and my gorgeous baby Chandler. Time to make dates with Don and see them through (how do we forget to do dates after only 6 1/2 years? Everyone knows you're supposed to do dates...). Time to get the car fixed, mow the lawn, spend time with our parents, find time to visit my brother and other baby niece, write in my journal again (me only, no adoring public), do an intense bible study...and be prepared to go through the multi-level, never-ending mind bender that is the school year in just a few weeks.

But Jesus? He never, ever changes. He doesn't change. He walks with us through the transitions, guiding us and talking us through it. He, who has lived through every change that has ever occurred in the history of mankind, does not change offices. His personality and sense of humor do not change slightly as He begins spending time with new people. He does not become unreasonably indifferent to the things that you used to be able to talk with Him about. He does not transfer and lose touch or interest in your life. He does not develop new and better friends. He does not change. He does not change. He is just as gorgeously kind and beautiful, gentle and wise and strong, as He was the first time you met Him...

What an incredible comfort. He isn't static-- it's not like He is some stone Buddha, forever changeless in a marble room draped in incense. No, it's simply this: He is so dynamic, so enormous, so infinite in person, that we will spend eternity learning who He is...we will grow in our understanding of Him, perhaps transitioning into new seasons of relationship with Him, but we will only ever see Him increase while we decrease into His perfection...but He never changes. Never. So lovely.

Thank you, Lord, for being so full of integrity and perfection. Thank you for holding my hand through these transitions-- surrounded by those transitioning, you take away that feeling of being a way-station, turning and turning like a carousel. You are solid but not silent. You are ever moving, but never changing. I need you and I love you.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU

Check THIS out. Amazing. HARD WORK.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hm.

You know what is absolutely fascinating to me? This type of person: holds a grudge for years, based on reality or not, and refuses to release people/person who has allegedly wounded them, even when they have asked for forgiveness (yes, I'm on the sidelines watching this one). But it's not simply this TYPE of person-- we all struggle with something like this at some point in our lives, I'm sure.

No, it is not just the struggle to release a grudge, but that out of that same mouth comes praise! How can that mouth both bless and curse? Can we? Can our worship be acceptable? Is it not the height of hypocrisy to blather on about how free or insightful or gifted we are in the place of worship/teaching/missions/ (insert righteous activity here) and yet walk in serious unforgiveness?

That same person scratches his or her head and wonders why the Lord will not release him/her into the fulness of the ministry they know the Lord has called them to. Hm.

Again, I know we all struggle-- but when a man or a woman falls into this trap, it becomes nearly impossible to communicate with them. I've been there-- unforgiveness is a curse and a trap and it stands between us and the Lord. He said, when you have a gift, bring it to the altar, then if something is wrong with a brother or sister, go and make things right with them and then return. Man, we have to stay current on that point. Things can really pile up-- especially when we feel justified. Feeling justified seems to be one of the most dangerous feelings ever when it comes to the subject of forgiveness....