Thursday, July 11, 2013

Obstacle Course

I'm sharing a poem today from Simple Mom (link) that touched me this morning.  She talks about having so many choices every day but the most important choice is our attitude. This is for all the moms out there, or anyone that feels they're running a race every single day to make it through. 

Obstacle Course

Last night when I lay
sleepless, thinking,
I turned my problems
from back to front,
then front to back,
trying through worry
to wear them down
to nothing.

If anything,
I only made them
loom larger, by slipping
one next to another,
matching craggy edges
until I had fashioned
an insurmountable

Today I find
they are neither
worn to dust nor
mortared together;
one by one, they crop out
through the morning.
And as I meet them,
I huff and sigh and whine.

Yet I recall the first
evening of summer camp
when I was fourteen—
we leapt over fallen trees,
grabbed for rough rope ladders,
splashed through mud pits
in the dark.

We laughed raucously
in the face of each hurdle,
and we emerged
from our challenge
soaked but exhilarated,
with skinned knees
and new best friends.

So tomorrow I vow
to try this: the child who
shakes me awake
is the day’s starting
pistol, and I will leap up
with vigor, unfazed
by my handicap
of inadequate sleep.

Later I will brave
the oven of our minivan
to maneuver squirming children
into buckles and boosters—
without once losing my cool.

And that evening I will dance
around mounds of laundry,
as I head to my desk
to confront with boldness
the dark recesses
of our perpetually

Sunday, June 02, 2013

An Invitation to Suffering

Many of you know that we have officially moved into our house in Orange Mound.  We've been here for three weeks, punctuated by the joy of having family visit from out of town and the celebration of Adelaide turning two years old and the frustration of having all four tires and rims stolen off Donald's truck a week after we moved.  I'm still processing this year of Memphis- with all it's grit and heart and barbecue-fueled dysfunction.  It's already one of my favorite places I have ever lived, but it's certainly one of the more difficult chapters in my life to date.  Because I cannot quite put it in words just yet, here's a short essay from Bob Lupton's book describing his urban ministry in Atlanta, Theirs is the Kingdom.  

"I do not like pain. Not in any form. Loneliness, sickness (my own or another's), anxiety, frustration, disappointment, hurt-- these are not the companions with which I choose to share my life.  I actively avoid them.  I buy drugs from the pharmacist to shield me from physical pain.  I surround myself with people like myself who dispel my loneliness and reassure me that I am okay.  I control my contacts with people who take more than they can give.  I schedule my days to eliminate disruptions and to accomplish the things I think significant or pleasurable  A theology of abundance  peace, and health has an enormous appeal for me.
     Recently, I witnessed a small act in the drama of city live that both moved and troubled me deeply.  It was a familiar situation.  A family with three small children was evicted again for nonpayment of rent.  Their ritual "put me up for just tonight" had been used too often.  With no money for bargaining, the only place they could find to stay was a front porch. The father slept under a bush.  Although I was quite unwilling to give them any more, I wondered what would become of them.
    Then an unbelievable but predictable event occurred.  An unemployed brother whose own family was barely surviving took his evicted relatives in.  Once again, it was those who could least afford extra mouths to feed and were already crowded to the point of eviction who found it in their hearts to help. Even more disturbing to me was the cost of caring, increased hunger; hot sleepless nights made even more uncomfortable by crying babies and wall-to-wall bodies; the stench of inadequate sanitation; short tempers, constant confusion.
     This picture still burns in my mind.  It is a haunting reminder of the energy I spend avoiding the cost of loving others.  I establish an emergency fund instead of inviting hungry families to eat at my table.  I develop housing program to avoid the turmoil of displaced families living in my home.  I create employment projects that distance me from the aggravation of working with undisciplined people.  As a counselor, I maintain detachment with a fifty-minute hour and an emphasis on client self-responsibility.   As I share the gospel with the needy, I secretly hope that God will handle their problems.
     Of course, I don't allow myself to think this way very often.  I choose rather to concentrate on the positive things I am doing for people, the helpful things, right things.  But when I am honest with myself, I must admit that I cannot fully care for one who is suffering without entering into his pain.  The sick must be touched if they are to be healed.  The weak myst be nourished, the wounded embraced.  Care is the bigger part of the cure.
     Yet I fear contagion.  I fear my life will get out of control and I will be overshadowed by the urgent affairs of others.  I fear for my family. I resist the Christ who beckons His followers to lay down their lives for each other.  His talk of a yoke, a cross, of bearing one another's burdens and giving one's self away is not attractive to me.  The implications of entering the world of suffering as a "Christ-one", as yeast absorbed into the loaf of human need, are as terrifying as death itself.  Yet this is the only way to life.  The question is, will I choose life?"

Friday, March 01, 2013

happy weekend!

Since I am seemingly incapable of writing new content myself, I'm gonna direct you to enjoy other, more productive parts of the internet! My weekend will be filled with seeing Eric Metaxas (you know him, the Bonhoeffer biographer) speak tonight, and helping some dear friends move into their newly renovated house tomorrow. Hope your weekend is fabulous!

This kale caesar salad is consuming my thoughts. I feel like an actual trip to San Francisco is in order.

The Jesus Juke duck is a great baby present. Think about it.

Very excited about getting my first Stitchfix in the mail next week; it's going to be awesome!

Broccoli Basil Mac and Cheese? Yes, please.

I can't imagine going to sleep and being swallowed by a sinkhole.  Hi, Florida! See ya never!

David Platt wrote a great article about many Christians' obsession with finding God's will for your life.

Story of my life: "I don't know who wrote this book dedication, but it's hilarious."

Now forget that kale salad, go to Muddy's bakeshop and eat a cupcake. It's Friday, dangit!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

the nut cottage.

We were in downtown Helen, Georgia (the Myrtle Beach of the North Georgia mountains) last weekend with my family when I spotted this sign.  I'm seriously considering re-naming our home after this business.

In the last two months, we have:
- hosted my family for Christmas in Memphis
- traveled to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon
- endured two of Donald's toughest months of intern year of family medicine residency
- somehow decided to eat a vegan diet for three of those weeks
- visited with our great friends, the Campbells, who are moving overseas soon!
- put a deposit on a house in Orange Mound
- are attempting to renovate said house
- threw a very fun Super Bowl party in our rental house
- filled out our initial paperwork for an adoption agency (Are we crazy for adding another kid into this crazy mix? Absolutely. But I like crazy.)
- chased a toddler all over the place
- chased a toddler throughout her role as a flower girl in a wedding in Charleston
- visited Donald's grandmother who had to have some emergency surgery
- hiked to see some beautiful waterfalls in the mountains of Georgia
- started running on a regular basis, in an attempt to regain a semblance of my sanity

And now you know. If you really read that list, I owe you a cup of coffee or something.

Monday, January 21, 2013

music mixup.

So, I'm not a big "swap" type person, but when I heard that Kim at The K.O. Story was hosting a music swap, I was 100% in.  Finding new bands to listen to was an obsession of mine for years back in high school and college-- my old desktop computer had thousands of albums (with the help of a handy little external hard drive).  There's just something magical about music, you know?? The right song can set a mood in a way that not much else can.

Making playlist for Kim required a lot of thought!  It's tough to figure out what you are going to send   The theme was "New Beginnings", which happens to be one of the best themes possible in my opinion-- the concepts of change and redemption are the catalyst to writing amazing music.

Take for example my third song, Needtobreathe's "Keep Your Eyes Open"... it was our family's theme song last year while we were making all kinds of big decisions about moving and residency. The song states, "If you never leave home, if you never let go, you'll never make it to the great unknown."  See?! Music says things so much better than I ever could. (PS- my friend and our wedding photographer Josh Drake shot & edited this music video for Needtobreathe!! Isn't he amazing!?)

Without further ado, here's the playlist I sent to Kim.  I wished that I'd more time to write out every single song and meaning, because each of these are significant to me, in some way.  My favorite new band made it on the playlist, Meager Fare. These are guys that I've know for almost 9 years now; they are good friends who I met in college! So talented.

On Wednesday, my post-man delivered Kim's mix...  I knew right away that we were a musical match. She's a Damien Rice fan, who is one of my favorite artists of all time; and Kim did an amazing job of compiling a mix for me.  Here's a little peek at my favorite song from the mix-- it immediately made it's way onto my workout playlist!

Had so much fun with this little project... we'll definitely be doing another music mixup.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

silence + observance.

I'm just finishing a very interesting book, called "Drop Dead Healthy".  The author is one of those hilarious people whose writing style makes me want to invite him over for dinner with my family to talk about ridiculous and random topics-- but I digress.  The premise of the book is this:  after a serious scare in a third world hospital, the author decides to learn everything he possibly can about being healthy, and implement all of it into practice.  Even the kooky stuff.

In the 3rd chapter of the book, he interviews a professional who emphasizes the health benefits of... silence?   Uh, yeah. I guess to each his own.  Af first, I didn't quite know what to think hanging your academic "hat" on such a mundane topic, but the more I think about it, the more it seems to make sense.  The reality is: as I am sitting here, I can identify several noises.

- the Fed-Ex plane flying overhead
- Adelaide's box fan whirring in her bedroom aiding her sleep
- the chirping of birds in the backyard garden next door
- our ancient heat pump working to keep us warm
- the train horns from the railroad tracks at the end of our street

So you know, maybe silence is a good thing.  I often wonder if I would observe more in the presence of silence-- I think often because I can hear something so know it's there, I don't have to actually look at it.  (This seems really mundane, but I am talking about a unifying human experience here, so it's pertinent to all of you, I guess.)

Earlier this week, I returned from a run through the neighborhood with Adelaide and my next-door neighbor greeted me (in my chest-heaving, desperate for a icy shower, breathless about-to-enter-the-house state).  She informed me that her power had been off for about 45 minutes (the entirety of my run) and wanted to know what information I knew about the matter.  Having just spent the last almost-hour of my existence cursing my legs, lungs, and generally making the effort just to take another step/breath, I knew nothing about the outage.  After hopping in the car to run errands, I realized that I ran right past the power trucks working on the lines-- literally right past them-- and never noticed.  How's that for observance?!

I wonder how my life would change if I tried intentionally to observe more, and stopped relying on my assumptions.  I think this applies to more than just sight and sound-- how many people do I interact with, but I do not take any notice of them because I am busy thinking about my own concerns?

Living intentionally changes everything; as John chapter three says, "He must be greater, and I must become less."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Have a great weekend!

We've made it to Friday despite the craziness of Christmas preparations and the threatened Mayan apocalypse  (Explaining the Mayan thing to some of the neighborhood girls was one of the more humorous moments of my last few months... they were really concerned that the world was ending!) In light of the holidays, I am leaving you with a few of my favorite reads of the past week:

Christmas in a cold prison.

I love these prints! The blue and orange one of Second Timothy is my very favorite.

Is there a better combination than avocados and eggs? This pita pizza is almost reminiscent of the best breakfast ever-- the black bean burrito from Brother Juniper's!  ( picture

This blogger spends 1/2 her time in a German apartment, and the other half in a home in the United States built from old tires. She is my new hero.

Vegan penne al vodka? Pass the cashew cream, please.

How did I not know Candy Cane pudding existed?

Doctors with too much time on their hands diagnosed the injuries from the robbers in Home Alone.

12 tips for an easier Christmas-- who doesn't want that??

Tourism advertisement for your hometown-- well worth watching.

Gonna decorate these cookies this weekend, as well as make presents for my neighbors. Pioneer Woman for the win! Have a wonderful holiday weekeend.