living as He did.

November 22, 2010

I’ve been ready for this baby for the past month. With so many friends having their babies early, I poured my energy into preparing for this little one’s arrival weeks ago. I delegated my responsibilities to co-workers, responded to all pressing emails and time-sensitive matters,  and even started developing plans for my return from maternity leave.

And still, I am not feeling anything remotely close to a contraction. In fact, this little guy’s feet are still up in my ribs and he’s as squirmy as he’s ever been. At this point, I think my due date will come and go without much fanfare.

What’s difficult about this is how counter the timing is to my personality. I am wired to give myself fully to something, but slowly backing out of my work responsibilities and waiting on baby leaves me in a weird limbo world. I’m not sure what to read or do or think about. I don’t feel comfortable starting anything new, but I’m getting antsy.

So I’ve started asking God, “what do You want to say to me?”

It’s a decent question. At any rate, it’s worth letting the King of kings and Lord of lords know that I’m interested in hearing Him.

And I’m thankful that He does seem eager to speak.

In the past three days, I’ve heard two challenging speakers  – Christine Caine and Francis Chan. Caine spoke passionately about being light in a dark world, quoting from John 17, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” As flashlights are of no use in a grocery store, lit with florescent bulbs leaving nothing in the dark, so believers are not meant to be hanging out with Christians all the time, avoiding the dark. We have the light of Christ within us, the hope of the world!

And then today I watched a talk Francis Chan gave a few months ago, and was bowled over. I’m including it here since it’s too meaty to package into a few lines:

I’ll comment more on it later, but wanted to make sure to archive the video so I can watch it again. I’m so thankful for people like Christine and Francis who – by the Spirit of God – bring life to my body and return passion to soul. Amen, amen, amen.


Feeling Alive

October 11, 2010

There’s this little baby inside of me, kicking at my ribs and tickling the inside of my stomach. He’s nearly 34 weeks old in utero and weighs about 4.5 pounds.

I listen to other pregnant women talk about how bonded they are to their babies, watch their eyes light up with excitement about the nursery and the little baby outfits.

I don’t feel this way.

But I do love this little boy in  a way I don’t fully comprehend yet.

Sure, he brings water weight to my calves, tightness to my chest, aches to my back and shoulders. But he’s a little life, a life I didn’t create, but had the privilege of helping bring to earth.

God made a life in me. A life.

More than turning 30, expecting a baby has reframed my thoughts on life. I’m bringing a life into the world that I hope will outlive me. How’s that for perspective?

So instead of choosing to give up everything, to throw in the towel and just wait for my time to be done, I have the opportunity to live more intently than I did in my 20s. I don’t, however, think this means that I have to demand significance. In fact, this may just be the kick in the butt I need to choose obedience.

My 20s were a [necessary] period of time when I wrestled with huge questions about my purpose, my identity, God’s goodness, my future, all of that. But what fruit has been produced from my constant longing for significance? I think God cares more about my obedience. And maybe it’s an old lady thing to say, but I think small acts of obedience might bring more freedom and beauty and goodness to the world than anything “significant” I could offer.

On my 30th birthday, I asked God to help me claim a few verses for this next decade of my life. Here’s what I’ve landed on:

Romans 8: 14-17: “God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?‘ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.”

1 John 3:18-20: “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

Freedom in obedience. Yes! Following God because he is the ultimate life-giver. Yes!

I long to be obedient, long for my son to pursue God, long for real life to be found in our family, our church, our community. I love this abundant life You promised, Papa. Help me follow You closely.


Tomorrow I will

September 21, 2010

Tomorrow I will eat breakfast. That much I can promise.

But even that’s a big accomplishment from a year ago. Those days of running out the door with my coffee freshly poured and my coat barely around my shoulders seem so long ago.

I miss coffee.

At least being pregnant has forced me to eat more sensibly. I cook up an egg for protein, toast a slice of bread with jam for pleasure.

Yes, that’s a big accomplishment. I should make that a task in my calendar that I can check off right away when I get into the office. There aren’t enough of those small day-to-day tasks that I appreciate sufficiently.

When we go camping, every ordinary activity seems to offer an opportunity to express gratitude – for my limbs and my brain, for the contrast of bright moon against dark sky, for a warm fire on a chilly night. I miss that when I come home. I have access to more here. More good and more, well, challenging. I have access to more friends. Which means more demands for time. Which means more deep conversations. Which means more mental and emotional energy. Which means more inclination to get short with my husband. Which means more exhaustion. Which means more longing to get away again.

More wishing for pancakes over a firepit on a windy morning when the ashes cook into the batter. More dreaming about laying in the hammock with a cold beer in one hand and a challenging read in the other. More thinking about which hikes to take and what snacks to pack. More remembering the simplicity of a life lived with God, without pressure or pushing or performing.

So tomorrow I will do more than eat breakfast. When I eat my egg and toast tomorrow, I will remember to thank Him.

Checking Things Off.

June 7, 2010

Watch Advent Conspiracy video. Check.
Listen to Tim Keller’s sermon, Hope for the Family. Check.
Clean out email inbox (aim for under 100). Check.
Request two Led Zeppelin albums and check status on Miley Cyrus cd at library. Check.

I did the sit-at-my-desk thing this morning until 1pm. That was as long as I could take it. I almost wish Mondays were my busy meeting days. After a Sunday, it’s hard to get myself up for a work day that’s just so dang slow. And my heat-sensor office lights do not help (read: if you don’t move wildly about every three minutes, the lights go out overhead). It just makes for a sleepy environment, one not particularly inclined toward productivity.

My boss is off on sabbatical for the next six weeks. I really love her, but I actually am excited for the change. I work best when I have very little supervision. It gives me an opportunity to figure out how I work – what hours are the most productive, which meetings are necessary to attend, what my supervisees need most from me. I learn how to depend on my instincts a little more. I set my pace of work. I determine what is life-giving and what’s not and work accordingly.

This is not to say that I don’t appreciate my boss’s advice on these things or that I don’t learn a lot from watching how she works. I think it’s just an opportunity for me to examine my own working style and discover the consequences of that.

In other news, I’m 16 weeks along in my pregnancy tomorrow and I’m pretty dang excited. I’m getting a little chub in my gut – enough to make some of my button-downs just a bit too snug. Thankfully, my sister dropped off two white garbage bags full of maternity clothes for me last weekend. My pants still fit – the low-rider ones have come in particularly handy. But I like seeing all these changes. I pray like crazy that the baby is doing well and I’m not doing anything to harm her or him.

I’m trying not to be a psycho worrier, so I channel my energies on thinking of names and what the meanings of them are. I think Jon and I are both on the same page with girl names but boys are another story. I made a list this weekend; maybe we’ll land on something from there.

Anyway, I’m trying to practice writing again. Jon’s been trying to get me to write for so long, but when he told me, frankly, last night at dinner that our marriage seems more peaceful when I write, I figured the least I could do was give it a shot again :)

Okay, back to more emails. Gonna see if I can get under 80 before 4pm.


to what end?

September 8, 2009

i don’t know if i’ve mentioned it lately (okay, so, it’s been a year since i’ve mentioned anything at all on this blog), but my job has expanded into the communications world at church. i’m digging it, loving the people i get to work with, enjoying the creativity of the work. it affords me an opportunity to speak into and influence things that matter to me. but the question that i think about more than any other in this new role is proving to be, “to what end?”

to what end do we create a newsletter encouraging people to get involved? to what end are we promoting X event? to what end are we asking people to serve?

i’m going through a great book with a friend and found this excerpt from c.s. lewis particularly refreshing:

It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects – education, building, missions, holding services. Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects – military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden – that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time. In the same way the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.

we exist to draw people into Christ. i hope what i do – and what we do as a church – contributes to that end.


September 25, 2008

i just received my weekly e-mail from sojourners, and am appalled to read the news shared by eugene cho:

This is hard to read.  Hard to swallow.  Hard to understand … especially when it happens at a Christian university such as George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon (20 miles southwest of Portland).  From numerous respected accounts, I have only heard good things about the university, so I share this news not in any way to condemn the institution, the faculty, or the students.

Early Tuesday morning (September 23), an effigy in the likeness of Senator Barack Obama was found hanging from a tree in front of one of the school buildings.  Truly disturbing.

While we ought to genuinely celebrate the historic elements of this presidential election year which includes Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Sarah Palin, this horrible news is another reminder that we have a long way to go. Is it simply because they are not like“me” and thus, they must be different … and thus, the other – leading to the “otherizing”, in this case, of Obama?

Rural or urban, Christian or secular, male or female, young or old, Republican or Democrat … we still have a long way to go.  We have work ahead.

you can read the rest of the story here.

it’s incredible to me that christians behave like this. it reminds me of a video i saw recently, created by granger’s executive pastor, tim stevens. the video’s goal is to illustrate how tim can “so easily find jesus in pop culture.” in the 5-minute film, tim tries to help his assistant, adam, see & hear jesus – for example, adam plugs into a ipod which is playing the song, “i kissed a girl and i liked it.” adam, stupid as he is, only hears “i kissed a girl and i liked it,” while tim is clearly keen to the spirit’s promptings and here’s the exact same song played as “i kissed jesus and i liked it.” yep. that’s one blessed guy.

anyway, that’s not even the bad theology i take issue with; my main problem with the video is when tim and adam sit down to “find jesus at the republican national convention.” adam shares with tim that he’s hasn’t watched any of it, but he did watch the DNC and didn’t see jesus. tim’s reply?

“that makes sense. he wasn’t actually there, but he’ll be at the republican convention.”

okay, so maybe the guy is joking. i mean, maybe he’s just poking fun at democrats. ha ha ha. and then i visited his website today.

ah, there it is. big deal pastor from indiana expressing his thoughts against the democratic nominees. ugh. what’s worse? him praising mccain. and on the basis of so little that’s actually fact.

i’m sure god is using granger church in great ways to reach people, but my respect for the leadership has truly plummeted. poor tim stevens. it’s just not right for him to manipulate that church’s respect for him just so he can promote his candidate. it makes me so sick.

i guess the good news for tim stevens is that he may very well get an invitation to teach at george fox university now.

monday meme

September 1, 2008

1. My uncle once, no, make that many, many times referred to me as ” the shrimp.” I’m still offended.

2. Never in my life do I imagine I’ll run a marathon.

3. When I was five I was often complimented on my handwriting and my rhythm.

4. High school was not as fun as college.

5. I will never forget walking the Great Wall, standing in Red Square, or that feeling in my stomach when Jon became more than a friend.

6. Once I met that boy from “What About Bob?” who played the kid obsessed with death. Wow.

7. There’s this guy I know that I would love to introduce to my friend Katherine.

8. Once, at a bar, my old boss encouraged me to go home with a guy who was hitting on me. Gross.

9. By noon, I’m usually wondering how much damage sitting in front of a computer all morning has done to me.

10. Last night, I came home after work pretty dang tired, so Jon took me to Culver’s and then we watched Lars and the Real Girl.

11. If only I had really paid attention to Jon 7 years ago, we could have been married for so much longer!

12. Next time I go to churchI will feel sad that I said I was “going to church” since the church isn’t a building, but a people.

13. What worries me most is worry.

14. When I turn my head left I see an espresso wood cabinet holding some of my favorite serving platters, two beautiful candlesticks I salvaged from an old building, and 4 bottles of wines in a cute little rack.

15. When I turn my head right I see my recently uber-clean kitchen which has seen quite a bit of traffic today.

16. You know I’m lying when I try to change the subject really quickly.

17. What I miss most about the Eighties is my side-ponytails. I look dang-good with side-ponies.

18. If I were a character in Shakespeare I’d be Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. Hands down.

19. By this time next year I’ll be pregnant?

20. A better name for me would be Maria.

21. I have a hard time understanding why Jesus doesn’t just come back already.

22. If I ever go back to school, I’ll study public policy, academic affairs, theology, counseling, rhetoric or french.

23. You know I like you if I am comfortable with our silence.

24. If I ever won an award, the first person I would thank would be my husband.

25. Take my advice, read a lot. then do something about it.

26. My ideal breakfast is french toast with fruit (a la uncommon ground).

27. A song I love but do not have is If I Had A Boat by Lyle Lovett.

28. If you visit my hometown, wave hello to Prince’s Paisley Palace, then head down to Excelsior to walk along Lake Minnetonka.

29. Why won’t people all get along? (Good call, Laura)

30. If you spend a night at my house, I’ll be giddy. I love overnight guests.

31. I’d stop my wedding for a life or death crisis.

32. The world could do without Hummers. (Again, Laura, good call.)

33. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than eat sushi for life.

34. My favorite blondie is definitely Jon – wait, blondie? I thought that said baldie. Oops.

35. Paper clips are more useful than not having paper clips.

36. If I do anything well it’s being empathetic.

37. I can’t help but laugh when Jon uses his Mexican accent when he’s being romantic.

38. I usually cry can I just add a period there?

39. My advice to my nephew is to learn to say mom before you learn to say Uncle Jon. I guarantee your mom will appreciate it more.

40. And by the way, you’re it!