Parenthetical Revelations

I‘m in the middle of trying to write two final essays for the quarter, but wanted to record somewhere the things I’ve learned in the last three months.

There were lessons like how to turn a fraction into a decimal, into a percent; how to more effectively edit a piece of writing; how to (and how not to) interpret literature (this distinction was difficult because it’s very different than interpreting the Bible). But these things are not as fun to explore as the few tidbits that have taken me by surprise…

Read More

The Adventure of Armed Robbery

Letting go of fear can make anything an adventure.

Several years ago I was working at an espresso stand in Western Washington. This is becoming a more popular way to buy coffee beverages throughout the US, but it has been a kind of epidemic in the Pacific Northwest for decades now. I usually worked by myself in this little hut just off of a popular highway. To the East (on the window side), was the highway and to the West (the door side) stood an enormous and visibly abandoned building.

Within the course of several weeks we began to hear reports of other drive-thru espresso stands being robbed in the area.

Setting aside what kind of dope would risk jail time for the pitiful amount of money to be found in an espresso stand, it made all of us worry. I remember coming to work on several afternoons feeling fear that this thief would choose me.

What fear accomplished in me made me worse at my job. Instead of welcoming every customer that came, I felt super cautious and suspicious of certain men and all walk-ups. I smiled less, and engaged in much less conversation…

Read More

Divided Humanity

One of my closest friends, a white American woman, is married to a black Jamaican man. She doesn’t really watch the news and so I was explaining to her what I had read/heard about the situation that has been unfolding in Ferguson, MO. She mentioned her own awakening awareness of racism since marrying a black man and, unfortunately, his introduction to racism since moving to the U.S.

At the age of 22 I worked for the summer at a camp in Wisconsin. Most of the kids coming to the camp were from inner city Chicago. Black city kids at a mosquito infested Christian camp with an almost only white staff. It was a particularly difficult summer for me and likely also for them. This was partly because I had just been kicked out of Bible college,  and my inner brokenness made me more fragile and less capable of connecting with my campers.

White people who want to steer clear of being called racist tend to do an opposite kind of injustice to their fellow brown humans by pretending that skin color is the only difference, missing the rich differences in culture. I have never heard a black person make this same mistake. On my first or second week as a counselor at camp, I was wrestling heavily with the communication-by-insult factor. On my insistence that regardless of how ubiquitous this was in their families and communities, it was still not nice, one savvy 12yr old said with great inflection, “You don’t know many black people, do you?” 

I didn’t bluster and say, “I have black friends” because I honestly didn’t. Growing up in the suburbs of North Seattle did not bring me into contact with very many black people….

Read More

Zombie Life

Although I have mostly integrated my Western Washington self and my Colorado Springs self, I find the first day or two after traveling really disorienting.

Coming back to Colorado is the more disorienting of the two transitions. It doesn’t help when I have lost a lot of sleep.

So Wednesday night I had two hours of sleep. This led to a very confusing time checking in at the airport at 5am on Thursday. They have those machines now, the do-it-yourself check-in touch screen computer screens. Although I was flying into Denver, I did not remember this until I’d failed three times on the computer screen typing in Colorado Springs, and then stood in line and talked to a real person. The real woman I spoke to made me wait, “I’m not ready for you yet,” and probably because I was so tired, I felt sure that she was clacking away nonsense on her computer keyboard simply to put me in my place. I explained the confusion I felt that my flight didn’t exist and it wasn’t until she used the word, “Denver” that I realized my mistake.

Once I was finally back in my room in Colorado, I did some random unpacking and took a nap. Then I read, or tried to read and took another nap. Last night, exhausted at 9pm, I fell asleep hard and woke up almost twelve hours later. This was not disturbing to me, but a relief to have gotten sleep I obviously needed.

What was disturbing is how the day unfolded following this epic sleep…

Read More

The Etymology of Identity

I went to the bank the other day to change my name with them. One of the ladies who was helping me asked for the reason I was changing my name and I simply said, “Divorce.” She related with me that she also recently changed her name because of divorce and we talked a little about the joy of returning to our maiden names. As we sat down to go over some other things with my account, she was open and really friendly. A compatriot.

Then somehow it came up that I worked for Youth With A Mission. At this news she ever-so-slightly stiffened, both in her body and in her banter.

When this is brought up with strangers, I look for the most non-threatening way to explain something that is so far from what is normal and also far from its stereotypes. I try to stay focused on things that make sense like how I love to teach and travel.
Sometimes I have to walk people gently through this and often it actually makes me happy to confess that I’m a Christian and proceed to be different than I know they’re expecting.
Telling people I’m a “missionary” is a bit like telling a boyfriend, “we have to talk.” They start to sweat a little and blood rushing through the head causes their hearing to decrease….

Read More

The Un-Adult Truth

The house is napping and I am in the basement with the books. It’s a daylight basement, which is really more of a rainlight basement.

Although I grew up in the great Northwet of

no images were found

Washington, I have spent just enough time away to gain a nostalgic perspective.
In small towns like Carnation (where I am today) I look outside and immediately remember movies like The Journey of Natty Gann, which then make me think of logging trucks, and big men wearing plaid and big beards.
Or I remember walking  from school like a pencil line connecting the dots of puddles the whole way home….

Read More

Convergence

My friend Susie and I drove to Chicago for Thanksgiving. This was not a short drive, let me tell you. To her praise, Susie did the majority of the driving.

We left Wednesday evening and drove through the night… took a slightly “scenic” route and got even more scenic somewhere in Iowa when we missed an exit. We survived and the trip there, though several hours longer than it should have been, was pretty miraculous and full of laughter. We drove through the suburbs and picked up my friend Dave and from there headed into the city…

Read More

Birds Have Nests

The simple definition of sojourner is “a temporary resident”. To me the word conjures up so much more.

As we were reading Exodus, I was moved by the command in 23:9 which says “You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”  God is talking to people of Israel who had spent the last 400 years as slaves in Egypt. They were clearly not treated like honored guests there, but driven hard. They were oppressed, to be sure.

no images were found

Anytime, too that either Exodus or Leviticus talks about a Sabbath rest of any kind, it mentions the sojourner or the “alien” among them… Make sure they also get to rest. Any guest should be treated like family. Conversely in Leviticus 25 it talks about what you should do when your own brother is too poor to own his home or even “maintain himself” (vs. 35), you are to treat him like a sojourner- you won’t make him work for you like a slave, but treat him as an honored guest.

There is God, being funny again. Treat strangers like brothers and brothers like strangers. It actually makes so much sense, right?..

Read More

Out of a silent planet

I‘ve been trying to read books. A little success was made this last week.

I picked up  Perelandra by CS Lewis. It’s the second of  the “space trilogy”. In all fairness, I have read this book several times, so it’s less of an exercise and more of a favorite world to visit. What I love so much about this book, though, is not the interesting world, but the depth of insight Lewis shows concerning the mind of the main female character.

The main male character, Ransom, is sent to the planet of Perelandra with the job of saving its perfect and innocent first inhabitants from the dark serpent sent to corrupt them. Ransom is just a man.

This suddenly reminds me of what I did last Thursday night. I went with a group of friends to down town Colorado Springs to see if God had anything he wanted to say to people there through us.  Back in the days of Bible college this would have been Evangelism time but this was much less about putting notches on the soul conversion chart and more about revealing God’s character and His heart for whoever needed to hear….

Read More

Talking to Strangers

I have been hearing a lot lately about “The Woman at the Well”.

This is a story about Jesus and a Samaritan woman found in John chapter 4. The messages that I’ve heard recently point out various interesting points and thoughts about what is said in the story but I realize as I read it myself that I am not a great scholar. I read my notes and am moved but then cannot remember how it is connected with the words in the story. So as much as I want to  share with you the profound things I heard, I think the only thing I can share with you is what I read for myself in this story….

Read More