Like It Or Not

Life is on the verge of transition. I’m not speaking existentially for all, but specifically for myself. This coming week will be the end of a long and full season with the School of Biblical Studies. All of the celebrations will occur, students will graduate, millions of photos will be taken with strings of people side hugging and smiling, epic recap videos will be cried over, mini speeches will be made.

I pan out that way to invite you in to the universal themes of hard won victories and deeply forged friendships.

On a more personal level, I hate goodbyes.

Let’s be clear, many stages of life and relationship are difficult. I was talking with a friend earlier today and she expressed how much easier it is to be in our mid 30’s than it was to be in our 20’s, and yet emotions never seem to lose their vivid colors. We are much more likely to laugh together over a mistake than to cry alone, but mistakes still require the getting back up part. I’m not quite an old lady yet, but getting back up requires a bit more effort now than at 21…

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A Father’s Love

A Father’s Love: Father to the Fatherless
Guest Post by Thad Nelson

I was on a construction jobsite a few years back listening to a conversation between two of my co-workers about how terrible their fathers were and I interjected quite insensitively how awesome my own father was. This stopped the conversation and Charlie says to me, “Hey stop it. You’re spoiling our pity party!” It was at this point in my life that I really stopped and took stock of who my father is and what I had learned from him. Peacemaking, patience, joy, sticktuitiveness, self control, frugality, gentleness.

My dad never had an opinion when it came to eating out. He is generally not a picky person but it’s not like he doesn’t have favorite things:

Lasagna, 1000 island dressing, and carrot cake, to name a few, but I realized in retrospect that what he really wanted for dinner was for us to be happy and not to fight. When I was young I wanted a certain wood toy and so he set out to build it for me. I was so distraught by the noise of the saw that he stopped and never made it. I think about myself in a similar situation and I think I would say, “If you don’t like it, then go in the house” Turns out, I am not my father. I began to recognize that he had consistently modeled the art of peacemaking by setting aside his own wants and desires for the wants and desires of others.

I would say that I learned patience from my father from countless hunting and fishing trips, but it would not quite be accurate. At least not in the sense that I typically think of his patience. He is patient with people. He was patient with me and my sister and my mother and our stray cats and all our shortcomings…

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Trauma Brilliance

Some of the best moments of marriage to my ex husband were the weeks following our daughter’s death.

I won’t say that they were the only good moments, because that would just not be true, but they were some of our best.

The day of Sarah’s birth and death, we were both some kind of mighty beings. After all, I pushed a human being out of my body with no drugs and after over 24hrs of not eating or sleeping and undergoing unbelievable amounts of physical pain. I actually had burst blood vessels in my eyes and when she was finally on the outside of me, they laid her gooey, curled up body onto my chest and I thought, “Huh. That’s a baby.”

I guess it was exhaustion induced ambivalence.

It didn’t take long, though before indifference turned to wonder. Drained and bleary wonder.

We were, I think, too tired to do anything that day but obey whatever was happening each moment…

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Don’t Freak Out

Last Monday I taught the book of Philippians to the students in our School of Biblical Studies. I get nervous before teaching- not because I have stage fright and not because I’m afraid of what they will think of me. I get nervous because I really want to do a good job- I don’t want to waste people’s time, but I also want desperately to convey something of who God is when I teach.

I know, I know- this is really only something God can do. At the same time, I am responsible to invest time in studying the books I teach so that I do have a foundation. God can speak through any donkey, but I don’t actually want to be an ass.

Teaching Philippians was a really good time. A few hours before the teaching started I had this wave of gratitude for the fact that I get to do the thing I’ve dreamed of doing! It’s ridiculous, people. I have no degrees and very little experience. But I get to spend serious time in God’s word and then I get to lead this awesome group discussion. This is what teaching mostly is to me. I love asking the students, “What do you see?” because even after studying for weeks and weeks they still see things I have not seen. It’s an honor and a joy. We laughed and we cried. Together we had a clearer picture, a fresh reminder of who Jesus really is and who God is really calling us to be together….

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Wanderlust and Wonder

Geography is not my strong suite. This, despite the fact that I have a strong desire to visit every nation. I think this desire stems from the fact that of all things I am mostly relational. Even my enjoyment of nature comes from the fact that I unconsciously (and consciously) interact with animals, nature and even inanimate objects as if they are secretly human. So when I meet someone from another place and I get to know them a little, I want to see where they are from.

I saw this documentary a few years ago that took place partly in Mongolia and afterward

no images were found

I would sit around imagining what it would be like to be there in person. What does the air smell like? Is the air fresh like my hometown in Washington or is it still and full of decades of bodies and meals cooked like downtown Chicago?..

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Heart as a House

Something I discovered last year stays true today; breakdown leads to breakthrough. After the crying moments I experienced last week, there has been so much more peace.

This week God gave me a picture of something really beautiful concerning these dark places in my heart that I had noticed but wasn’t sure what to do with. Bear with me while I give some back story: In 2003 there were several times when my heart was likened to a house. At the time the house was shut up tight. Blinds down, door locked. It was pretty cozy in the living room area with a fire in the fire place, but no one was getting in there with me. Two other pictures of this house that year involved my struggle with depression and that soon I would stand up from a slump I had been experiencing.
Then several years later I was dealing with some issues I had with food and had a mental picture of that same house with a big, hungry monster in the basement. Insatiable, demanding and grown out of a desire to protect myself from pain.

I’ve been walking out some awesome healing this year. I have been finding more and more how God really will satisfy my needs…. and that most of those needs come down to a need for love. This is so good and feels a little bit like learning how to fly….

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Counting Thursdays

January again.

This year I had better intentions for the month. I had planned, not only to be busy but also to be happy. The funny thing about my “happy plan” is that the only thing involved in the “plan” was that I choose to be happy. Certainly this is a possible thing to do, but I might have been smarter to give myself helps along the way.

This doesn’t mean I’m unhappy today, it just means that the melancholy I felt a little yesterday and the grumpy I felt a bit this morning were both confusing surprises to me. I tend to deal better with emotions when I know why I feel them.

But here is what I realized this morning. I was thinking about the coming week because my roommate had asked me if today was my daughter’s birthday. “No,” I said, “it’s (and I had to count the date and days on my fingers) Thursday.” This, then made me realize a lot of interesting similarities that are occurring this year that haven’t occurred since she was actually born….

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A still, small gaze

Last night I sat for a while with an 11 month old baby in my lap. He sat calmly staring into my eyes for a long time- searching my face with his little fingers and then taking hold of my nose as if it were my hand. He seemed to have his own inner stillness while he studied my face and it amazed me. The memory of it even now calms me and simultaneously reminds me of the last living moments I had with my daughter.

What do babies know that we do not? What we know may be summed up in the vast amounts of information and stimulation that they have not yet experienced. Everything is right now. Need, joy, hunger, want, adventure, intimacy, sleep…..

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“Having coffee”

I just had coffee with my friend Heidi. Having coffee involves so much more than just drinking liquid from a cup… When I say “I had coffee with my friend” I mean so much more. We connected.

One thing I’ve been thinking about lately (among the many things I’ve been thinking about) is how we understand different things about the world and about ourselves depending on who we’re having coffee with…

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Running headlong

I had a talk yesterday with Jessica about The Unknown.
Somehow the unknown used to seem less scary. Maybe I was naively optimistic about the possible outcomes. Now I am not quite a cynic, but I am more wary. Also I have learned how awesome it can be to be known and know others… to get good and comfortable in the familiar.

When I think about moving to Colorado sometimes I feel afraid. It’s very unknown and I will be leaving some pretty incredible people who have become so dear to me….

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