A Banner Week

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“We will sing for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.” – Psalm 20:25

This has been a banner week in the lives of some of our refugee friends.  As I have mentioned, it’s been hard to know how to invest – where to invest – when to invest – here in Clarkston since we moved.  We have dipped our toes into relationships with new refugee friends, but we’ve certainly not hurled ourselves headlong into anything.

God isn’t bound by our mediocre efforts, though!  He is the Father to the fatherless, the defender of the orphan and the widow.  Sometimes, He lets us participate.  When we do, we are blown away by His goodness to those who live in a state of profound vulnerability.

Sunday, we visited three families here.  Anyone who has visited with friends from other nations knows that three families in one afternoon is a miracle in itself.  Most 10-minute conversations easily stretch to 2 hours of interaction and hospitality (on their part).  There’s no such thing as “quick.”  But God multiplied our meager time.

God provided for the first family we visited by opening up a space at an adult literacy program, Mommy & Me, after registration had already happened.  These African friends have been here only two months.  The dad is brilliantly pursuing growth and life for his family (wife and four small children) through his study of English and through his job on the night shift at the poultry processing plant.  His wife is working hard taking care of their children in this hot, humid, very confusing new place.  Her English is not strong, and we are thrilled that she will have the opportunity to experience 9 hours a week of instruction while her two preschoolers are enjoying a pre-school class of their own.  What a gift – language instruction by masters’ level teachers, community, childcare…all within walking distance of their apartment for only $10 per month.  God is so good!

He provided for another friend with a job!  Amazingly long story, but this gentleman was a “random” connection in a parking lot on a day in March.  He had just arrived in the U.S. at that point, and he was overflowing with enthusiasm to work, pride in the 6 languages he speaks, and tales of the life he left in Djibouti.  His wife and three of his children are still there, but he is here with his oldest son, blazing a trail.  We very randomly ran into him again a few weeks ago.  At that point, he was discouraged by his lack of employment and by the prospect of keeping his 13-year-old son safe in the harsh environment he’d encountered.  That night, some friends joined us in praying for a job for him.  Very miraculously, our kind Father provided him a job that pays more than minimum wage.  And, his work hours are during the day, which is so good for his son.  We met with this African friend Sunday, and yesterday God secured a job for him.  How sweet!

Finally, God has provided restoration and redemption for a widow and her two children who we’ve known for three years.  We met her the night she arrived here.  She was quickly overwhelmed to the point of illness and hospitalization.  When we visited over the weekend, she proudly, laughingly served us food and coffee in her clean apartment. She adeptly holds a job and provides for her two school-aged children in a way that showcases God’s ability to uphold the widow and care for the orphan. He has not let her falter. She is being redeemed.

I’m so humbled.  We are so inconsistent and poor in our efforts to love His wounded children.  This is because we are wounded ourselves.  He is so gracious to pursue all of us with His grace. He allows us to glimpse His tangible power when we fellowship with the apple of His eye – the vulnerable ones who quietly face giant obstacles with faith and resolute determination, even when all of life seems daunting and overwhelming.  What a gift to watch Him delight to do what He does best – to redeem.

Please join us in praying for these and other friends as they do the hard work of adjusting to life in the United States.

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Forty and Pink…Rough Combo

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I turn 40 in 21 days.  My mom used to be famous in our family for saying, “I feel better at 60 than I did at 40!!” Hmmm…I am beginning to understand. I accidentally colored my hair pink last night. I’m thinking 40 might be the low tide of reasoning, funding, and energy.

My morning’s email to my colleagues at work looked like this:

1.  Yes.  I know it’s pink.

2.  Yes.  It will be repaired.

3.  Yes.  It’s great to laugh with me.  Just not at me.

4.  No.  Not going to try it at home again.

5.  Yes.  I know you’re mostly men and probably wouldn’t even have noticed, but I feel better getting it on the table.

So, now that my colleagues are over it, and as I eagerly await the magic of my new best-friend-colorist “Camby” (she must be only 23 – I have no peers named Camby) at 3:00 this afternoon, I reflect on what has led me to the simultaneous mid-life/pink hair brink.

Let’s see…

I think we need to call this what it is: Vanity.  I am a redhead.  Really, a redhead.  My hair has always been my selling point.  Lately, it’s rusty and dingy and alarmingly shot through with gray.  I want to remain a redhead, not a very pale skinned, freckled, splotchy middle-aged lady with stale iced-tea washed gray hair.  That image is not in line with my long-standing self-concept.  Redheads know what I’m talking about.  The ghost colored cellulite, sunburns, rashes, and trips to the dermatologist are only worth it because people rave about “your hair!!”

[Ironic sidebar:  When I awoke at 4 am this morning fretting about my pink hair, I went to get a glass of water.  In the kitchen, my phone’s screen showed a photo of me at age 15 before the Christmas dance.  My friend Cameron had found it at her dad’s house and texted it in order to point out MY HAIR (she did not know of my pink-issues) and what a “do” it was back in the 1988 day.  I’m telling you.  Redheads have strong life/hair connections. Close sidebar.]

15 year old redheaded "do."

15 year old redheaded “do.”

Another factor.  Time.  I have none.  That box of color that I pulled off the bathroom closet shelf last night has been in there for four months begging to be used.  Have I found a solid hour of kid/chore/to-do free time to devote to turning my hair pink in the last four months?  Nope.  So, when I arrived home from a rare dinner out with a girlfriend and found no husband, no kids, and a peaceful dog in my home, I pounced.  A little too hard.  As the color marinated, I thought “Why shouldn’t I leave this stuff on an extra five minutes?  After all, it’s been almost 6 months since I colored my hair.”  While I lingered, I ate a few bites of Haagen-Dazs straight out of the carton and savored the sounds of Duck Dynasty in the background.  I felt so free, so adult, so empowered.  ARNNNHHH. (Buzzer sound.)  Bad call on the lingering, Strawberry Shortcake.  Bad call.

Shall we discuss money?  Oh, let’s.  None of that right now either.  I realize that living where I live among refugees who arrive here truly destitute, that whole “no money” comment sounds very catty.  It probably really is.  This is one of the struggles of integrating what I am seeing in Clarkston with what I am used to in my life.  Honestly, I’d patted myself on the proverbial back for getting the $6 box of color at CVS. (Proverbial due to a rotator cuff injury from trying a 5 a.m. boot camp…but that’s another mid life issue that I won’t explore here).  Being “thrifty and all” is a more intentional aspiration for me these days. (Not just because I’m being super spiritual, but also because kids cost SO MUCH MONEY.  Do you know how much it costs to be in band?  Or to twist an ankle?  Or to run cross country?  Or to buy school supplies? Or to insure two teenage drivers?  Of course you do – these are rhetorical questions.) Apparently, though, you sometimes get what you pay for. My thrifty drugstore  effort at beauty apparently backfired, leaving a lingering pink glow ON MY HEAD.

Last factor: peer pressure.  No, I don’t have shallow friends who want my hair to be vivid and rich before they will be seen with me. It’s pressure from my son!  (Those of you who know him will not find this shocking at all.)  My very own 12 year old boy has spent the last 18 months – my period of gray decay – chronicling the progress of the icicle strands and letting me know just how much he thinks I need to color my hair.  I laugh at him.  My inner and outer selves both laugh. He’s amusing and endearing and annoying all at once.  He’s 12. But, I have to admit that part of the reason I pulled the box off of the shelf last night was because I pick him up at band camp on Saturday and wouldn’t it be a fun little mommy-wink to have freshly colored hair?  Not so much. I think the pink would do him in altogether.

He might rather walk home.

Or maybe I’ll send all the kids to live with my parents for the remainder of the year and then ask my mom at Christmas if she still feels better than she did at 40.

(You want to see a picture of the pink.  No can do.  I tried to imitate my snap-chatting 16 year old and take a few selfies, but my nose looks uncharacteristically ginormous, my hair really is pink, and the lines around my eyes are very pronounced.  Let’s leave the selfies to the snap chatters and use our old-fashioned imagination.)

Not Looking for Wonderful

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I’m stirred up.

Maybe it’s the caffeine this morning.  Maybe it’s the extra summer-time that I have to ponder my navel.  Maybe it’s the move to a place where I see different pass by my front window at least hourly.  Maybe it’s a week at the beach with 37 people who share my DNA – that’ll create introspection, I tell you.

But maybe it’s the Holy Spirit.

My gospel prayer continues.  Lord, show me what is True.  Show me what is Kingdom-Real.  Who is this man Jesus, and what did He mean when He said, “Follow Me”?  What did He mean when He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”?  What did He mean when He said to duty-driven Martha in the face of her brother’s death, “I am the resurrection”?

Break my understanding of Your gospel – Your good news – wide open so that my American, 21st century, educated, sanitized, power-gridded, GPS self bows before what is True. Only.

Over and over He says, “Believe.”

Over and over I try to understand.

Looks like those things are different.  Understanding depends on me; belief bets the house on Him.

This morning as I stare out my kitchen window and appreciate quiet rain and the gift of two teenagers still asleep, I think about the revival-prayer I just read on Beth Moore’s blog, Rain Down Revival.  I think about how it reflects my heart’s prayer and about how I want it to be my for-the-world prayer.

Then I begin to feel self-important.  Sneakily.

Surely, even if I wait until the waters of revival are stirring, and even if I take time to get a sense of the rhythm of it before I dive in…surely He will not be able to do this without Me.  I’m a big deal, right? Surely He will hold my part on the stage until I get my costume arranged just right.  Surely my resume is key to His work. Surely He needs my “wonderful” for His work.  Sneaky self-importance.

I hear Him whisper as I wipe down the coffee pot.

Not wonderful. 

Surrender.”

Surrender is the place of Holy Spirit flourishing. Wonderful is a giant distraction.

God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.

When He and Martha talked, He knew her brother was lying in a sepulcher.  He altered that reality, yes. He brought Lazarus back.  But I wonder if He was also gently prying loose her self-important dependence on her resume of deeds?  I wonder if He was teaching her in a most spectacular and poignant way that resurrection follows death. Real life occurs when soul-surrender throws its full weight on the reality of the Holy Other rather than on the mirage of the personal wonderful.  I wonder if He was gently saying to her, too, “Not wonderful.  Surrender.”

Thy will be done.

The Agonizing Promise of the Small

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This morning, I walked with a neighbor who has lived in Clarkston for many years.  For most of the years, her family lived among refugees in an apartment complex.  She is a teacher and became burdened by the lack of access to English classes for moms of preschool-aged children in the complex where she lived.  Out of that burden grew a program called “Mommy and Me” that is now a thriving adult literacy program currently held at the Clarkston International Bible Church.  Today on our walk, my friend shared details about the new burden God has put on her heart for economic development and its intersection with the adoption world in the Congo.  Wow.

(Sidebar: I’m so unfamiliar with this other-world that I am not sure whether the country is best referenced, “Congo” or “the Congo” as I type.  There ya go. Ignorance.)

She was clearly struggling to fit huge vision and burden into short bursts of available time to connect, fund, research, raise awareness, and birth this new ministry that God is crafting in her life. I, on the other hand, was feeling awed by the amazing power of God to take a human vessel and pour through it a tiny but profound piece of His redemptive work via a surrendered and willing heart.

Oh, and I was also feeling totally dwarfed by this friend who will have fostered two amazing ministries by the time I’ve figured out how to…fill out forms, master signupgenius.com, procure the longest-lasting manicure, fund camps for my kids, get the mildew out of my shower curtain, and generally avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. I realize this self-analysis is not very gracious, but – face it – shiny, white, magna cum laude suburb-lady with three kids can look herself in the mirror and think these things pretty honestly on a “lazy” summer morning, right?

This is the wrestling I have.  I think many of my friends have it, too.  We’re full-out family mamas in a world where that job description is known to eat those of us who hold the title and spit us out medication-dependent and hand sanitizer-obsessed.  It’s not for the faint of heart.

BUT, there’s that other world out there – the one that we know grips God’s heart profoundly.  The orphan crisis.  The homeless population. The millions of refugees.  The clean water initiatives.  The sex-trafficking industry.  These causes and needs LOOM (on facebook, no less!?!?). In response, I genuinely ache and then go try a new smoothie recipe since I don’t know what else to do. (This morning: cantaloupe, ice, and coconut milk.  Pretty tasty.)

So today, I am both discouraged and encouraged by my amazing friend.  Discouraged that I’m not her – that my pro-activity and my surrender have been so often stunted by my fear, selfishness, and the tyranny of the urgent.  Encouraged that she starts small, too.  She spent two hours yesterday procuring an email address with the right @ “whatever” at the end.

That’s small.  And frustrating.

Small is all we’ve got, ladies.

Today I’m thinking about small and how agonizingly profound it is.  Not one of us is exempt from embracing the small as we follow the God of huge redemptive grace.

I think our culture tells us that we must (and can) be “profound” (read in a booming, deep voice).  So, we buy that lie and look for opportunities to leap tall buildings in a single bound rather than fighting for grace by the inch.

Today, may we embrace the agonizing promise of the small.

Being Rabbit

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It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in our new home for two and a half months.  Often I still feel like I’m visiting Clarkston when I drive into my driveway.  The fact that we’ve had our first leak, our first dinner guests, our first re-organization of closets, and our first birthday in the house make me know I’m home.

I’ve been absent from the blog much of this year – little time to write due to the demands of job and family and move.  I’ve also shied away from writing because, while I want to process the heck out of this move, I also wonder how relevant my own stirrings and musings are to anyone but my own journal and me.

One of the things that God has nudged me about, several times, is the urging to bring others along with us.  Traveling with friends is so much more satisfying, orienting, and encouraging than travelling alone. I’m here to update you and to bring you along, should you care to join us.

So, where are we today?

Well, I’d have to let Doug speak for himself, but I do think that we’d both say that this has been one of the most intense seasons of our lives so far.

As for me, I’m struggling with “being Rabbit.”  Winnie the Pooh is my all time favorite children’s story series.  Perhaps I love the sweet community, or maybe I really enjoy the British take on being a child, but I think I most appreciate the absolute type-castability of Pooh’s neighbors.  In my four walls, we have a definite Owl, a total Eeyore, a budding Kanga, and even a Christopher Robin.  Unfortunately, I’m the Rabbit around here. Got to work hard and get it right.  Can’t play – too much to do.  “Why is she cranky?” “Not sure, but she’s too busy to ask.”

ImageThere’s really way too much to get right – being a neighbor, step-mothering, career choices, supporting my working-so-hard-too husband, learning a community, plugging in with refugees (with what time?), and staying connected with friends.  The Rabbit in me is daunted and wants to put a sign up in the yard that says “no trespassing” until I get my rows tilled and my seeds planted and my seedlings labeled.  Sorry, chickie-mama, but this life doesn’t allow for that level of control.

The problem with Rabbit-weaknesses is that most people name them as strengths when they compliment you.  Efficiency, care, awareness, and industriousness – these are good things that can be really important in running a home and nurturing family.  They are me, and they matter to our life. Right now, though, they feel like they’re causing me fret over a level of order that I have no business trying to attain.  Lists, lines, rows, priorities and tasks are dangerous rabbit trails (excuse the horrible pun) that are apt to suck the joy out of this transition for me…and therefore for everyone in my house.

Yesterday morning in my devotions, I stopped short at a verse in John. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his inmost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38)  Rivers flow.  They sweep.  They swirl.  They rush.  They meander.  They cleanse.  They bubble.  They refresh.  They reflect.  They ebb.  They flow.  They curve.  They cut.  They nourish. They are alive. Things that are alive cannot be contained, cordoned off, parsed, or neatly organized. 

When I stop my Rabbiting, lay down my list, give up today’s fret, and believe Him, the well-defined rows may very well disappear, but they will be replaced with a powerful, nurturing force of Holy Spirit life that will allow for both adventure and order, both calm and chaos.  I don’t have to get it right, but I do need to lay it down and just believe.

So, “where am I?” –  I’m caught in the tension, and I’m glad He keeps showing up and loving the Rabbit in me enough to ask her to lay down her garden tools and take a walk with Him.

Well Defined Lasts

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My friend Kitti (www.kittimurray.com) is a sage who says that raising kids is sad sometimes because, while you always record their “firsts,” you never really know when their “lasts” are happening, so you cannot mark them in time or savor them while they happen.  True.  When was my son’s last sippy cup?  His last snooze in a car seat?  His last, “sing one more song, mommy!” before bed? I really don’t know, and that makes my heart a bit nostalgic for what “last” I might have overlooked today.

Moving is different.  Well-defined lasts abound.  Tonight was to be our last family dinner in our home, but a track meet ran late, so we ate on the fly rather than around the table.  That just-missed-last has me choked up tonight.

I just took my second to last shower in my shower upstairs.  I’ve carted the last load of groceries into my big-‘ole kitchen.  And, this afternoon, I helped a twelve-year-old sort through the last of his scattered and under bed (even in bed!) toys to decide what stays and what goes.  Head in hands, half way through, he lamented, “downsizing is HARD, mom.”  Yes, son, today it is.

Dread is a pretty disgusting emotion.  It’s heavy and dark and lumpy and doesn’t really fit.  Not that I dread moving, but I dread leaving.  I dread my next 48 hours of last.

As with this whole move, I think of my refugee friends.  I wonder how many lasts were unable to fit into neatly labeled cardboard boxes or carefully sorted piles.  I wonder how many good-byes were whispered, lonely into nighttime pillows rather than offered with loving hugs or savored over coffee.  I wonder how it feels to be ripped rather than gently pried away from a home.  It must hurt deeply, and the dread must linger more fully, when lasts aren’t marked and counted.

So today, I am trying to appreciate my cognizance of all of the lasts.

“Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord—with the first of them and with the last—I am He.” Isaiah 41:4

Human Venn Diagram

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We are moving on Friday, and I am feeling a lot like a human Venn Diagram.

I know, that’s weird, but I teach English so cut me some slack.

Every time I drive out of my neighborhood in Peachtree Corners, I begin to mentally do the compare and contrast in my head.  It’s mostly contrast.Venn Diagram

Here’s what my head sounds like…

I love my brick house, but I’ve always wanted to live in a little frame house, too.

That silly crack in our garage isn’t going to be there to bug me anymore, but I wonder if living wrapped in asbestos shingles will be any less bothersome to my OCD self.

My closet now holds nearly four times the stuff that the new closet will hold. (Doug did the linear square feet…I love my accountant husband.)  Can I confidently say that only one in four pairs of my shoes are favorite-enough to make the cut? 

Our dog will love having a fenced yard. Now she hates going outside in the wide expanse of the front yard, where small dogs feel perpetually unsafe.

The QT will be so far away! Ahh, but the Farmers Market will be around the corner!

Suburban aesthetics are so soothing sometimes, so symmetrical and clean.  But in Clarkston, I get to exercise my quirkiest decorating whims because it’s “all good.”

I won’t keep going. That would be painful for you (and for me), but you get the picture.  There is much in the way of contrast going on.  I could be a photo lab for all of the contrasting images I’m sorting through.

So, my Venn has big, wide outside circles and a pretty skinny overlapping part. Let’s see, what’s inside that little wedge?

My kids will be there. (Good, because I thoroughly enjoy them, 85% of the time.)

I get to take my favorite books, my Burt’s Bees chap stick, my pillow, and my coffee pot.  Oh, and my desk.  I think I’ve figured out where my desk will go.  That’s real progress, folks.

The accountant husband will be there, and I’m totally fond of him.

And, not to spiritualize this silly English teacher exercise, but I am so thankful that Jesus promises that He is Immanuel in all situations.  All yards.  All closets.  All gas stations.  All garages or asbestos.  Always.

So, I think I’ll have to say that the compare part wins.  Thank you, Lord, that stuff really isn’t central.

Amen.

Thank You and Shalom

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Tonight, I need to say thank you.

Our dear friends from across the world leave in the morning. They board a bus and head out for American dreams in Columbus, Ohio. They take bags that look and smell so much like the ones we helped them to pull off of the carousel at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport nearly three years ago. They will hold a coffee urn, several china espresso cups, spices, and a coffee serving set. They will hold children’s clothing and a few beautiful outfits that will be worn on special occasions – birthdays, Christmas celebrations, etc . They will hold some American mementos picked up along the way, hopefully, too…maybe a book, probably a DVD, and likely a few pictures that they’ve taken during their time in Clarkston. I imagine they will hold the plastic sheets with images of Mary and baby Jesus that were their main apartment décor over the time we’ve known them.

I need to tell them Thank You, but our communication is still not clear enough for them to read this note. I weep because I cannot tell them the whole Thank You. A hug had to do. The small words “Thank You” had to be enough when we left them last week.

I need to tell them Thank You for their hearts – for their bravery and their fortitude and most of all for their sense of humor. The smiles and laughter that always embraced any mishap. Those are true gifts…ones I possess scarcely, but hope to possess more strongly.

I need to tell them Thank You for their children – for each precious soul who eagerly opened up their hearts to our own kids and helped to teach us all that communication is 99% not dependent on the spoken word.

I need to tell them Thank You for inviting us – for inviting us into their vulnerable spaces of child bearing and job searching and driving tests and school problems and neighbor love and pest control issues and acclimation to cold weather and semi-urban life.

I need to tell them Thank You for loving us – in their way. For continuing to offer us the third cup of coffee, even when our American selves were too busy to drink it, time and again. We seemed to always have to go – two hours in – after only two cups of artistic love.

I need to tell them Thank You for being our friends – for looking past our foibles and our pride and for welcoming us into their hearts as much as we hoped to welcome them into ours.

I need to tell them how much we will miss them. Not the idea of a refugee friend, not the “chance to serve,” not the family opportunity. THEM. We will miss them. We love them so much. They are our friends. We will miss them.

I need to tell them goodbye.

But I don’t want to.

Shalom, dear friends. May His peace be upon you.

The first coffee ceremony we had in 2010.

The first coffee ceremony we had in 2010.

Until we meet again…

Emotional Motion Sickness

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I find myself emotionally car-sick these days.  When I was little, being motion sick in the car was a sure fire way to earn a seat in the middle of the back (on the “hump.”)  Not the most coveted seat in the car, but the one that allowed a steady view of the road in front of us as we drove.  The anti-venom for motion sickness is having something steady to focus on.  The problem was that my little brother got more car-sick than I did – like, he actually threw up, while I just turned green – so he was the one who scored middle seat status, while I craned my neck around my mom or dad’s head rest to see out the front of the car.  Families of seven require all sorts of compromise.

As a driver and mom, I’m the one at the wheel 85% of the time now.  When I’m not there, I’m riding shotgun next to my honey. (My favorite place, since that means we can visit, he’s got the responsibility, and I control the radio. J)  So, last weekend when we went to rural Florida for a family birthday and I rode in the back seat, I was surprised at the return of motion sickness.  The highway was fine, but as soon as we got off and started driving toward the country, I was having 9-year-old car trip flashbacks.  It’s embarrassing to have to ask your in-laws to stop the car, but wow did it feel good to walk around in the fresh air for a bit.

Life in our home has ramped up in the last month or so.  There is plenty to focus on and even more to FEEL:

The house is under contract. (Imagine sentimental impact and gratitude.)

The long awaited kitchen cabinets in the new house linger…and so does our move date, making it an ever-moving target and tough to plan for. (Imagine a control freak freaking out.)

There is a spring break Clarkston vision trip for some fun Wesleyan families in the works, mid March. (Imagine wanting it to go so well and planning for 17.)

Both teenagers have spring sports.  Did you know a Lacrosse team can cram 22 games into two months? Thank the Lord for only four track meets! (Imagine the food, calendar, laundry, and trips to school – your own life, probably.)

Our house has to be packed, sold, donated, stored, moved, and disposed of.  At least 4,000 extra square feet of stuff has to go somewhere. (Imagine the decisions.) (By the way, do you want some?)

Oh, and we both have jobs. (No imagination here…jobs are way too normal and necessary.)

That Gospel Prayer is continuing to roll over and over in my head.  I keep coming back to trust as so basic.  Do I trust Him?  Do I believe Him?  Do I believe HIM and not the system, my works, the earning, the effort, or the image?  Romans 1:17 says, “He who through faith is righteous shall LIVE.” Life.  Through faith.  That’s all. One steady gaze.

This month (well, most months) make me think that I can get said LIFE through a to do list, or a well planned series of meals, or a perfectly orchestrated day of events with a little Jesus thrown in.  Often this philosophy leaves me emotionally motion sick as my gaze shifts all over the place and my emotions sluggishly pull behind my gaze in a disorienting, stomach-rumbling sort of a way.

Life through faith.  Because His righteousness is accomplished and certain and mine is filthy and disorienting.  I’ve got to fix my eyes on Him, because He is enough, especially in the chaos.

Hebrews 12:2 says that we fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

He walked in faith.  He pioneered fixing His gaze.  He perfected faith because I cannot.

So, my prayer this month is that the distractions of this move would not cause me to be emotionally motion sick.  I pray that I would fix my gaze on Jesus and LIVE because of His pioneering faith.  Experience rest in the hard work rather than distraction in the chaos.  Through faith.

Sort of like riding shotgun with my honey.

Human Static

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Recently, Doug and I volunteered to take a refugee woman from Burma to an eye doctor appointment.  We were grateful to have the chance to do it, since the business of our lives over the last several months has really hindered our time connecting in Clarkston.  Our new friend was in her late 50’s and spoke very little English.  She had had cataract surgery and was going for a follow up appointment.

Anytime you’re in a car with a person who does not speak your language, there’s the definite possibility that things will be awkward.  They were (a little).  When things get awkward, I start to do mental gymnastics, which I commenced that morning in the car.  Where had she come from?  What was her story?  What did she think of I-285 on a Saturday morning?  How often had she been away from the confines of Clarkston?  Did she have a husband?  What did she think of me?  Was she amused by my banter with Doug, or did she think it was rude that we were talking and wonder if we were talking about her?  Human mental static, on steroids.

The doctor’s office was quiet – it was a Saturday morning – so we got right in to see him.  He asked me several questions about her health history, and I had to uncomfortably explain that I did not know a thing about this dear woman.  I was just here as the transmission, wheels, and steering column.  (That’s because Doug always gets the job of being the brakes at our house…HA!)  So, I tried in vain to act like I knew more than I did…to be an expert on someone I was totally unfamiliar with.  He asked, “Can she read the letters on the wall if I put them up?”  I confidently replied, “I doubt it!  Most likely not. I don’t think so.”

EyeChartBG1

Dummy.

Yes she can.

She read all of them.  Down to the little ones on the line that read “20/15” and indicated that my new friend not only knew her letters, but she also had excellent post-cataract-surgery vision.

Really.

Really?

I was arrogant enough to assume that she was illiterate?  Yes.  Absolutely.  Humblingly.  Prideful.

All of my assumptions and mind-static on the way to the office had led me to paint a very certain picture of this “poor” woman who knew no English and probably very few other things.

It’s quite possible she is a Burmese rocket scientist…or PhD…or chef…or teacher.

Why on earth would I make assumptions like that?  Why would I let the static in my head paint pictures of things that were so far from true with so little evidence?

Because I’m normal, I think.

Here’s what I’ve been mulling over all week, though:  Jesus came.  This is the season of Advent.  He entered our world and became human.  Tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  In addition to our temptation, what must it have been like for a Holy God of clarity and creation and peace to take on a human mind full of so much static?  Did it sound so harsh to His holy internal ears when he became a man and suddenly heard the internal cacophony of questions and answers and assumptions and ideas and feelings and confusions and judgments and ponderings?

I don’t pretend to know how much He endured of this type of human challenge, but I keep thinking of how raw and painful and jarring it must have been to Him who offers the peace that passes understanding.  He bore our sin.  He bore our judgment.  He bore our death.  And, He lived inside of our static.  How grateful I am that the Prince of Peace chose to enter our human cacophony and offer us His gracious silence, even in our least holy nights.