Sunday, January 27, 2013

when we need to be thankful

When the mommy brigade takes over Panera with their newborns I want to run.
In fact I do run, right out the front door.

Tiny heads with tiny hats on them. Little animal-eared sweaters. Most days it doesn't affect me. Most days I don't feel like the air has been squeezed out of my chest. But today I do.

Sometimes we don't understand why. 

Why so many around me this year carried that hope in them, that new life, only to have it be snuffed out. Why good people, the best people, lost the most precious thing in the world.
And the pain came in waves that wouldn't stop.

I don't get these things. 

There are so many things we can live without. Without nice cars and kitchen cabinets. Without ac and cheeseburgers. Without the people we need nearby.

We don't know until we have to. But then we do.

But we cannot live without love. 

So when he rolls over and holds my face in his hands through my mascara and tears,

I feel the world come into focus.

On days when I want to feel really sorry for myself, or really angry that it hasn't happened for me, on days when the waiting seems unbearable,

I glance over at this person, who knows to put on a comedy series when I can't stop crying,

who knows how to tether me to a singular hope when I want to give up, 

and my whole broken and battered heart wants to implode with gratitude

that he is mine.

The world is not fair. We're never quite where we want to be.

But there are sparks.

We have to catch the shimmer.

We have to say thank you for what is here and now.  And sit with it.

For when someone is exactly what you need them to be.

For when he gets it right.

For sunny days.

New best friends.

Any tiny chihuahua's who lick your face, named Rosalita-Chiquita-Banana-Pants.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Most people would think that moving to Africa was the scary part. The big leap.

But it wasn't. It was the most natural thing in the world. Moving back to America.
This is the scariest thing I've done in a long time.

Here the fears are loud.

Will God provide?
Will I become selfish?
How will I not let God get drowned out by all the noise?

Will I love who I am when someone is not calling me “Mama.”

How to straddle these two worlds with any of me left in between. 

Over there God is in all the crevices of my day.

I'm spilling out all the time. No time to think about me or be ungrateful. Just a constant stream of thinking about others.

It really is true that when you lose your life, you find it. 

You lose yourself in love, you lose yourself in giving, in serving, and you gain a whole life built on connectedness and the pleasure of feeling God move in you and through you.

And yet God is with me here too, but why so much harder to feel it?

To me, it doesn't seem crazy to convince people to move to Africa to serve the poor and the abused. To let emptying yourself out, radically change you.

To me it seems crazy to build a life here in America. I don't know how to do it.

And yet, who are we without our giving? 
Who are we when the spinning stops?

Will we like ourselves enough when Father is asking us to just be? To just be His.

It doesn't feel right to me yet. But I know this is the next painful step in growing.

How to know who we are outside our function. Outside the thing which has defined us for so long.

Over there I live in a constant thrum of being needed.

Of being necessary. Of being vital. It's strange to be outside the urgency. Is there some happy balance between loving others and also loving myself?

Especially when I don't feel so important now.

How to find new ways to connect. New ways to worship.
New ways to hold gratefulness in my hands for what is here. 

I'm like an addict. I miss it so much.

But there's no doubt to me that God is in this. That there is a new lesson for me to learn here, outside the tyranny of the urgent, outside that need to be needed.

God is not out there somewhere. He is here, now. In this moment.

Whether on these dazzled streets of California, or on that red earth I still call home.

Life is where He is, so life can be anywhere.

We just have to stop and feel it. Breathe deep, and let the fears go.

I'm always the impatient one. Always want to know the right answers and the right way to do something. Always want to have it all figured out. But I'm starting to feel normal again. Slowly. Too slowly for my taste.

But trust is not built on knowing. Trust is built in the grey. In the in-between.
When all the while He is coming towards us, but we just can't see it yet. 

When He's asking us to have compassion not just for the hurting ones, but also for ourselves.

Can we be brave enough to take that leap, whatever it might mean for us?

To let ourselves be scared again. 

We judge ourselves by other people's capacities all the time.

But what is brave for me?

What is brave for you?

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Sometimes the days get dark.

The January cold seems to blow right through you. 

Days where you're not sure you want to get out of bed, and God seems like a dream you had you can't quite remember.

Transitions can be hard.

I don't think I expected that. Expected to find myself in a new place, not knowing anyone, living out of someone's guest room and on other's kindnesses, just craving a space of my own.

A nook. A place I could crawl into to feel sane. Or like my old self again. A routine I could sink my teeth into.

Sometimes we feel like fish out of water and we feel like we're going crazy, but people tell us its normal and it's all going to be ok.

And then four days into the biggest move you can remember making, you get pneumonia and the doctor tells you in a reassuring voice that it's going to take a while for your body to feel normal.

He says annoying things like “rest,” when you're not quite sure how to do that with your suitcases strewn all over the floor and an apartment hunting list a mile long. Where should I rest? How?

Where is my African sun?

Where is the me that gets up and knows what needs to get done that day.
I know it's called culture shock, but putting a label on it doesn't seem to make me feel less like a crazy person.

I keep looking for things I can't find.... “now where did I put that one sweater I own....”
I had a pair of fuzzy boots didn't I?

Instead I just layer on mismatched clothes like a bag lady.

I feel like body parts keep giving up on me. I surrender. You've put me through enough! My eye. It's red and oozing. I can't figure out why. I'm like a creepy, angry cyclops.

I tell my husband he should just leave me for dead somewhere before I have a leg fall off.
I know, dramatic. But it feels dramatic.

Nothing feels right.

I tell myself it's temporary. But we can't wait for things to change.
We have to make a heaven out of hell now.

I bundle myself up into as many layers as I can find (again, think bag lady) and go outside to lie down in the sun.

I take deep breaths. I start to breathe again.

I remember what it is to breathe, as though the last few weeks I've been catching my breath, waiting for the impact.

I feel the warmth on my face start to seep into me.

I look up and watch the clouds shifting through the trees.

And I feel Him again. I start to feel my Father. In a patch of sunlight. 

There you are. I've missed you.

He's there waiting. For us to drink deeply of his love. To lie under the shade of Him. To find a way to connect, however that might look.

He's so faithful. So faithful when we are so faithless, that it makes me want to cry.
He wants us. Even with how messed up we feel. Even with our ugly eye.

But there He is, telling me He's going to take care of me again.
I picture a writing nook in the sun.

And I trust it. I believe it.
It's going to be alright.
I just have to keep the faith.

As the sun dips back into the clouds, I go inside still clinging to this holy moment.
Still clinging to this tenderness.