Monthly Archives: September 2013

Joy in the morning

It’s 9:45 in the morning, and I’ve just put the baby down for a nap. I checked Facebook as a cheap substitute for some kind of feeling of connection to those I love. It’s Sunday morning and instead of being at church, I’m home with Baby V. In the middle of the night, I checked on him on my way to the bathroom, and as I was walking out of the nursery, I heard those dreaded sounds…By the time I had taken those four or five steps back to his little body, he had thrown up.

Aaron came in to help while I changed the sheets and got everything straightened out. The two of them were cuddling in the rocking chair under a quilt when I tip-toed out of the room and crawled back into bed. A few minutes later, I heard Aaron whispering comforting words to the baby as he tucked him back in, and a moment later, I felt his hand on my back. Even in the dark he knew I had tears soaking my pillow; he knew the implications of the baby being sick and how they hurt my heart.

This morning I tried to be cheerful and helpful as Aaron was getting ready for church. Baby V seemed better—he appeared to be super tired but his fever was gone and there was no more vomiting—but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to check him into the church nursery after the night we had. As he left, Aaron hugged and kissed me and looked at me with such compassion I had to turn away.

I hate missing church. The people at Westside have become our family. Every Sunday we worship with them, taking communion and singing songs and learning more about our all-loving God. I get to see and talk to women I wouldn’t otherwise see during the week. I check in on the Covenant children who seem to be growing much too quickly. It is precious time and some of my favorite hours of my entire week.

Today is an extra important day to be at church. Our pastor’s wife and my sweet friend, Kara, is having surgery tomorrow. We’ve known about it for months—after her battle with breast cancer over the past year, this was supposed to be a routine procedure. But at a pre-op appointment, Kara and Jason heard some potentially terrible news—Kara might have another battle with cancer ahead of her. They won’t know for sure until tomorrow when the surgery is complete and pathology tests are done. Friday morning, one of Kara’s dear friends hosted a time of fellowship and prayer for Kara and I missed it because Baby V had a doctor’s appointment. My heart was heavy and sad wanting to be with those ladies, wanting to encourage Kara but also needing the fellowship and love of other women who are also gripped with fear that our beloved sister might be facing the worst.

So instead, I’ve looked forward to today, being with our church family—the people who know and love me and have loved Kara and her family so very well through their journey. They are the people who understand why some days I wake with a heart frozen in fear, why I lose my breath when I think about tomorrow, why I want to throw up when my mind starts playing out different scenarios of “what if.” But instead of being across the aisle from Kara where I can watch her worshipping with her children and take joy in their smiles, I am sitting on my couch listening to lullaby music streaming from the nursery.

Somehow I feel even more helpless than I would sitting helplessly at church. I know that’s ridiculous, but my heart yearns to give Kara a huge hug and make sure she knows how much we love her and her family, how we’ve got their backs. I had wanted to talk to her biggest little this morning about occasionally helping me once Baby Girl is here. I looked forward to seeing her other children chasing each other and catching rolly pollies. Yet I know those are all selfish desires. Kara knows my love for her. She doesn’t need my tears and weak smiles—this morning she’ll have the encouragement of the Bride of Christ and Jesus himself in all his glory. She will sing songs that remind her of the strength, power, and love of God. She will participate in the Communion of the Saints in which she joins the immense family of God in celebrating and humbly acknowledging what Jesus did so we could have this sweet fellowship with him and each other.

Church has started by now. Since Aaron is the worship leader, I know what songs they are singing. I know the basic order of worship. And I can participate—maybe not in person, but I can pray and worship from a distance. I can claim the joy of being a part of this body of people even if I am not physically present. I know the heartbeat of this group, I know what is on their hearts today. And while I can’t experience worship with them in person, I certainly can in spirit. I can praise the Lord, thank the Lord, petition the Lord, and be encouraged by the Lord, knowing he is doing the same for my church family. I don’t know what his story is for Kara long term, but I know that this morning, his story for her is to love her and to show that love to her through the arms, words, and prayers of others. And because he loves me, too, I can be a part of that from right here on my couch.

Christ Is Risen

 

Pamela’s Prayer

Several years ago, my college small group and I came across a movie called “Pamela’s Prayer.” We watched it together and thoroughly got the creeps. I always wanted to do a Little People rendition, and I’ve finally completed it. This is dedicated to Meredith.

Please note: I am not mocking the lifestyle or moral choices portrayed in the movie. I am simply poking fun at a movie that my small group girls and I enjoyed some laughs over.

 

Pamela’s Prayer, as portrayed by my Little People

Pamela is a sweet, Christian girl raised by her creepy widowed father who puts all his emotional energy into his daughter instead of marrying again and providing her a mother.

Pamela respects her father and doesn’t notice that he is creepy and that he thinks about her future sex life with her husband.

p's prayer 001

Pamela is a teenage girl and longs for intimacy—thankfully not with her father, although he’d probably be okay with that, judging by how he refuses to travel for business so he can keep his legalistic promise of praying with Pamela (WITH, not over the phone, dummy!) every night before she goes to bed in her Victorian prairie chastity-belted nightgown.

Pamela’s dad tells her that kissing a boy before you’re married is practically buying yourself a one-way-whore-ticket to hell—if she really loves and honors her future husband, she’ll save her lips. After all, how would she like to have to explain to him that she actually kissed another boy when she was 16? Tramp.

p's prayer 2

Pamela wants to obey her dad, but temptation is strong. Sadly, her friend does fall into temptation and either gets pregnant from kissing a boy or is just really devastated because she kissed a boy. Let this be an ambiguous warning to all young women who think they want to kiss a boy!

p's prayer 002

Coincidentally, Pamela’s grandfather retires from the family business of librarying Christian films, with classics such as . This means Pamela’s dad has to hire someone to help out. Gee, is there anyone out there who could meet his standards?

There is! Not only is he cute and a Christian and weirdly interested in Christian movies, but HE ALSO BELIEVES KISSING BEFORE MARRIAGE IS WRONG. See? God does answer prayers.

p's prayer 003

Of course this cutie and Pamela fall in love, and he asks Pamela’s dad permission to marry her. And then he asks Pamela to marry him, right in front of the dad, because what woman could think of a more romantic proposal than one that involves her dad who, again, has been thinking of her future sex life for years?

p's prayer 004

You wish the movie ended here:

p's prayer 006

Instead, it ends here:

p's prayer 7

Redefining masculinity

I was very impressed by this gentleman’s perspective, especially as a secular man (he’s the secular man, not I…). I particularly appreciated his thoughts on the recent Miley Cyrus controversy.

http://www.csindy.com/coloradosprings/anti-sexist-jackson-katz-pushes-forward-with-his-gender-jarring-messages/Content?oid=2761326

My heart hurts

I was 20 when my parents died, and for the first time, I understood that people had problems. Real problems. Life isn’t a Hallmark movie where tears may flow, but everything is wrapped up in a nice, little bow after all is said and done; life hurts and is full of heartbreak and is ugly messy.

It took me a long time before I could drive without fear, and I remember being so sensitive to bad drivers—maybe their parents just died in a car accident, too. Maybe their baby is sick. Maybe their wife is in labor. Maybe their mother can’t remember them.

I’m also the kind of traveler who thinks everyone else is doing the same thing I am. When I’m headed somewhere fun, I assume everyone else on the plane is, too. When I’m exhausted and grumpy headed home, I think everyone else is surely doing the same. When I travel for funerals, I looked around and wonder how many people around me are grieving.

I guess I am selfishly close-minded like that. I assume everyone is going through what I am experiencing. Or maybe I have a hope that people will understand what I’m going through and have a little grace.

This is different. I have known all my life that illness strikes. My parents died suddenly, but I’ve been around sick people. My aunt had cancer for 23 years. A close friend of my sister’s has also had long-term cancer. But this is the first time a friend of mine who is my age has gone through something like this. Since hearing her news, which is inconclusive at best, I have walked around in a haze. I can’t be surprised—I know the statistics of illness—and yet I can’t seem to process what I’ve been told. Maybe that’s because of the uncertainty of the situation?

Instead of walking around wondering who else is sick and giving grace to people because I’m keenly aware in this moment that sickness affects so many, I want to ask people, “Do you know my friend? Did you know she might be sick? Because she’s amazing. Smart. Funny. Beautiful. She loves my baby boy. She laughs at my jokes. She touches lives wherever she goes. You need to know her!” I have a frantic feeling, wanting to scream from the rooftops the unfairness of this situation. But I can’t because it’s not fair for anyone to be sick. As special as my friend is, she is no more so than the next beloved person who falls ill.

We took a 6-pack to her and her husband after finding out the news (un-news? Is it news when you really don’t know anything yet?). I sat on our couch beforehand thinking about her, hoping that we could be an encouragement. My Bible sat nearby, but I couldn’t pick it up. I couldn’t even think of an encouraging passage. Instead, I wanted to pray. Yet my prayers wouldn’t come. I heard my voice say, “God, I just need to be with you right now. I just need you to draw me close. I just need to hang out.” I once told this friend that I wish I could fix her—she said, gently, “I don’t need to be fixed—I just need grace.”

That was me in this moment. I didn’t need perfect words of advice or the perfect Bible passage. I just needed to be reminded of God’s grace. Of his presence and his character—his goodness, his Sovereignty, his tender love. That’s enough for now. And I take great comfort in the fact that when my friend’s un-news turns to news, it will be enough then, too.

Richard Nixon

was long out

of office

by the time

I was born

and yet I

begged every

Halloween

for a mask

of his face.

Alluring—

his face was

to me, my

fingers held

up in peace

signs, although

I didn’t

know what that

really meant.

So I saved

my money—

since my mom

refused my

pleas—and bought

the rubber

likeness of

President

Nixon whom

I never

really knew.

Only that

he was in-

famously

bad. With his

face on mine

stealing my

innocence,

masking my

identi-

ty, I felt

raging shame

of being

R. Nixon.

I couldn’t

take the heat

of the man.

Or rubber.

What relief

to peel his

face off mine

and breathe air

unfiltered

by his mis-

matched nostrils

pretentious-

ly trying

to pass as

the real deal.

How sweet to

realize

that I am

not Richard

and never

will/can be.

 

When I was a little girl, I was intrigued by presidential masks, especially the one of Richard Nixon. This poem is a metaphor of the masks we choose to wear instead of risking being known for who we really are. It is a celebration of God convincing me I don’t need a mask–that I am lovable to him just as I am.

Personal testimony

This is another carryover from my old blog. It’s a bit outdated, as it’s pre-children, but I just thought it might help you get to know me better and understand my perspective.

When I was young and would hear crazy testimonies in high school youth group, I used to wish that I hadn’t grown up in a Christian home; I thought that I would understand God’s love so much better if I had lived the rebel life and had a radical conversion.

For a while, I tried to go through a rebellious phase to see what that was all about and to see if I could dance the line ending in a Prodigal Son homecoming. Pathetically, I was a rather timid rebel and didn’t really do much.

But then my parents died in a car accident when I was 20.

That really shook my faith, and I was so angry at God that I turned my back on Him and all the wonderful friends and family who loved me and wanted me to turn toward God for healing.

After years of rebelling in my own way, I heard God calling me–wooing me–and I did have that Homecoming I always dreamed of; my friends and family were there to welcome me back and celebrate that God’s hand had never left me.

But sometimes I really struggled understanding that God really did love me. I believed lies that God didn’t really want to forgive my years of rebellion and angry heart. I sometimes believed I would have to earn God’s Grace and convince Him that he made a good choice in loving me. But then He gave me the most wonderful gift: Rockstar! Rockstar loves me with the constant love of God and has been the biggest influence in my life teaching my about God’s beautiful Grace.

Lars and the Real Girl

This is a carryover from my old blog. It was a big favorite, so I decided to bring it with me.

Lars and the Real Girl as presented by me and my little people

Meet Lars. He is a stereotype of a young man of today’s generation. He lives in the garage of the house where his brother and sister-in-law (Gus and Karen) live. As much as Gus and Karen and people from church try to pour into Lars, he maintains his isolated existence with few or no meaningful relationships. But he can’t ignore his human desire for love…

“Hey, Lars! your brother and I want you to come over for dinner!”
“No, thanks, Karen.”
“You never come over. I’m worried.”
“I’m fine. Goodbye.”

“I’m worried about Lars.”

A few days later…”I have a girlfriend! I met her online and she is shy because she’s in a wheelchair. She was raised by nuns so we can’t sleep together. Can she stay here?”

“Meet Bianca. She used to be a missionary nurse. She is like Mother Teresa in Britney Spears’ body.”

“Dogtor, my brother is crazy! He is talking to a doll! What do we do?”
“Just go along with it. He’s just sad because your mom died.”

“Hey, townspeople. Please pretend that Bianca isn’t a sex doll and that she’s a real girl. Lars is crazy because he’s a sad orphan, and now he’s totally objectified women to create the perfect girlfriend who can never leave him.”

Bianca has been elected to the school board and she volunteers at the library, reading to small children. Everyone loves her–her schedule is full.

“I’m mad at Bianca! She never has time for me anymore. She’s so busy helping in the community. Will she abandon me, too?”

“Hi, Lars. I’m Margo from work. Bianca’s so cool. Would she mind if you came bowling with me? Just as friends. I wouldn’t ever ask you to cheat on her.”

“Even though she can’t bowl, I’m still in love with Bianca. I’ll stay with her forever even though she turned down my proposal.”

A few days later… “AAAAHHHHHH! Bianca’s sick!!! Call 911!!!”

“I’m afraid she’s very sick, Lars.”
“Yeah, she’s dying. don’t touch me–it hurts.”

“Kiss me one time, Bianca. That felt weird.”

“She’s dead. Sniff sniff.”

“Bianca touched all our lives. Amen.”

“Hey, Lars–now that Bianca is dead, do you want to go for a walk? I’m a real girl.”

The end.

The Mundane

I wrote this while contemplating how shocking it is in the midst of grief to realize the world continues spinning even though it feels like it should stop with the passing of someone you love so much. The first time I experienced this was when my parents died and I stopped to get gas on my drive home–I almost couldn’t believe that the gas attendant didn’t know what had happened.

 

The mundane continues despite death,

like having to get gas at three o’clock in the morning after

your rotary phone rings to deliver

the message that your parents have died. You wonder

what the gas attendant thinks about you

and your puffy eyes. You wonder

if you should tell him: I have reason for crying—

my parents are dead. DEAD. But you realize

the wonder of the world continuing—phones

still ringing, gas still pumping, money

still exchanging—distracts you as you inhale

second-hand smoke, wishing you were high

and this were all a dream.