Thursday, September 4, 2014

Three years ago today....

Three years ago today.....

We were at Target picking up groceries when we got the call that sent us into a frenzy of excited movement.  It was time to go to the hospital.  The child that had been matched with us was here.  It was time.

Three years ago today---we held Miriam for the first time.   I was elated----and terrified---at the same time.  She was so small---she seemed fragile--(Don't break her---don't break her reverberated in a silent chant through my mind) She was beautiful---with her dark hair and big eyes.  Tiny, wrinkled fingers.  Tiny, wrinkled toes.  How could anything be so small---so precious.  Stuart's face was gentle---kind---in love with his daughter.   Stuart is a quiet person---but one should never mistake a quiet person for an unfeeling one.  I have never known a person one who loves--- as unconditionally, without any regard for himself whatsoever---as wholly as my husband.  And in that quiet moment---which wasn't really quiet---but surrounded by a flurry of activity (sometimes quiet is something that happens on the inside---I really believe there are times when God slows everything down---just for you---and says---don't miss this---because it's Good)----Stuart met the tiny person he'd loved all along---and so did I.  And it was Good---it was beautiful.

Three years ago today----I paced the halls of a hospital for the entirety of the night---awake and unsure what to do with myself.  C had asked that I stay the night---so I did.   I watched M through the glass.  I watched the other babies---I watched the other mothers rolling in wheelchairs through the hallways.  Three years ago today---a lot of things happened that were frightening---coming really face to face with the brokenness that is at the root of adoption is an experience I will never forget---it is forever a part of me.  It was heartbreaking, scary----and a little lonely.

Three years ago today---God took care of me.  Even though whatever heartache I had must have been insignificant when compared to the heartache of Miriam's biological mother----God still was undeniably with me.  He was present in my family---He was present in the nurses----He was present. And when I wasn't looking for Him---- He was looking for me.  Three years ago God cared for me in my weakness---and He cared for Stuart.

Three years ago-----C told us---"This child was conceived in your heart long before she was conceived in my womb.  She is your child----don't let anyone ever tell you differently."  Three years ago----in a hospital room---there were a lot of tears.

Three years ago----not to the day---but it all runs together----we heard from the adoption agency that there was a very real possibility that C might decide to parent Miriam after all---(there is a revocation period where the biological parent can change their minds about placing the child for adoption)---that she was having second thoughts.  The adoption agency asked if we would like to put Miriam in interim care to protect our hearts.  But we couldn't do it----we said again----we will love her as if she is ours for as long as she's ours-----and we hope that will be for a very long time.  Stuart sat in the recliner holding Miriam----her fingers reached up for his face---curling and uncurling----and I watched my husband cry in silence.  Three years ago---we learned that the deepest vein of love doesn't taper off just because there's a possibility that a beloved person might not always be nearby---the deepest vein of love runs without ceasing----cannot be deterred by any circumstances----it is an unconditional love----the one we can only really understand when we reflect on God's unconditional love for us.....we got to feel a shadow of that kind of love when we first loved Miriam....

Three years ago----we learned that Miriam would stay with us---that she would be our family.  Three years ago---we celebrated Miriam.

Today---we celebrate her again---we thank God for her again.  Miriam is spunky--determined---sassy.  She is already full of compassion.   If she sees another child hurt or crying---she is always running over to them---patting on the back.  She has been known to kiss boo-boos---murmur soothingly---"It's okay."----or just be sad with them---"Baby's crying"---she will say sadly.  Miriam is outgoing---everywhere we go---she greets everyone with a cheerful "Hi!" and a wave----and when they leave (the restaurant, the store, wherever)---she tells them "Bye, bye!"  Miriam loves to sit on the "big bed" (our bed) and cuddle up for Backyardigans or Angelina Ballerina.  She loves her grandparents---her aunt Nikki---her Uncle Jake---and Aunt Kelly who she rarely sees but she remembers from past meetings and asks to look at pictures of--- to the umpteenth degree---I sometimes think she will burst from the excitement she feels when she sees them.  She loves her friends---who really should be called family---like Karen, Penny, Kristy, Ashley---to the same crazy degree.  I love that she loves---so stinking hard---and with every fiber of her little self.  She just loves totally---without abandon.  That's my favorite thing about her--- that she loves fiercely.

Today---I say a prayer---thank you God---for our little firecracker, Miriam.  Thank you for making her just the way she is.  Thank you for letting us be her parents.  Thank you for walking through every step of the adoption journey with us.  Thank you for loving us unconditionally.  Thanks be to God for the family you have brought together----and simultaneously---I pray for Your peace---the peace that surpasses our understanding---to pass over what was broken----what was lost---and may Your hand heal.

Happy Birthday to Miriam.  We love you 8 better than a snake.  :)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter 2014

Easter is a time that always knocks me off-kilter----off balance.  Here I am---living life and getting worked up over petty things that don't matter----handling things that do matter as if they don't----thinking critical thoughts of myself and others---all carried away with my own little microcosm.  And here comes Easter.  Good Friday in particular----remember what Christ did so that you could walk with God---so that you can live a life that reflects that walk---so that you can have a relationship with the only purely good God that ever is or was or will be.  Remember.  It should knock me off kilter---it should put my sights back on God----and there is nothing remotely balanced about God.

If you profess faith in Christ---people look at you closely.  Some people look at you closely to find your faults---to find your pettiness----and that way they can dismiss your faith as faulty and petty. Some people look at you closely because it strengthens their own sense of worth---of self-righteousness---when they find you to be lacking.  And some people are Christians too---and they think---as Christians---we should be better than that---we should stand apart---we know better than to act that way.

And when I say some people---I put myself under that broad umbrella term too.  I think it's easy to look for reasons to dismiss people--other Christians---or just other people even.  Because people are messy----people are hard to deal with.  People can be downright infuriating.  Isn't it sometimes easier to walk away?

This time of year--I remember that God didn't dismiss me because I'm messy---because I'm too hard to deal with.  God didn't dismiss me because I'm infuriating.  I'm stuck on "Howl's Moving Castle" here again.  I think about Sophie---who was cursed and turned from a young, healthy woman into a 90 year old woman with one swift spell.  The curse is actually broken very early on in the story---but Sophie keeps herself old by her own will.  As the story progresses---sometimes she lets go---and you see her briefly as young again.  But over and over, she reverts back to the 90 year old woman because it takes her forever and a day to really understand---the curse is broken.  The only thing keeping you this way is you.  I'm the same way---I have moments---sometimes only seconds a day---where I live in the freedom that Christ died to give me.  And then I revert back---living under my own curse---instead of in the peace---in the joy---that is a life where you walk with God.  It's ridiculous---it's infuriating---I haven't wandered 40 years in the desert yet---but there's a part of me that understands the inclination.  The human inclination to do life on your own.  But God doesn't dismiss me----he is always there.  He doesn't dismiss any of us.  He knows we aren't perfect---he knows that we can never be complete without Him---He knows that we can't live a perfect life.  So He does it for us---He becomes human---He feels thirst, hunger, pain---the anguish of the cross---where God turns His back on Christ---where Christ experiences the separation from God--so that we don't have to.

This time of year---I remind myself---don't dismiss people because they're messy.  Remember God's love, God's patience, God's kindness to you.  And pray for a heart that can extend that Grace to others. I remind myself---pray without ceasing to live a life that reflect God's love and God's grace.  And yet I'd also like to remind others----don't dismiss Christ because Christians aren't perfect.  Folks----Christians are Christians because they understand how completely imperfect they are.  That's it---we love what is Good---yet we can never be completely Good.  Christ bridges the gap for us.   And though loving God makes us want to be Good---we aren't always going to be successful.  Speaking for myself---MOST of the time---I'm not going to be successful.  My hope is never in myself---it lies only in the unflinching, unconditional, sacrificial love of God.

This time of year---I remind myself----spend less time looking at yourself---or at others---and take a good hard look at the cross.  The cross where my curse was broken---the cross where your curse was broken.  Stop living tethered to perceptions of your sin---of my sin.   God paid our debt---why I can be so intent on keeping a running tab is beyond me----unfathomable---at the foot of the cross.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

On being significantly overweight....

I watched Howl's Moving Castle last week----and it really struck a chord in me.  In it--you meet Sophie---the eldest daughter of her family.  She works quietly, diligently---in a hat shop.  Her sisters go out and make different lives for themselves---and one of them asks her "Sophie, is this really what you want for yourself?"  And Sophie responds by reiterating that she is the eldest daughter---this is what her father would have wanted---she doesn't mind, etc.  The story world accepts witches and wizards as commonplace----and the beginning villainess of the piece is the Witch of the Waste.  In the movie, the witch of the waste transforms Sophie into an old woman out of jealousy after Howl (the wizard with the moving castle) shows an interest in Sophie.  Though at first Sophie is upset about her youth being taken from her in one swift spell----she accepts her new appearance and age remarkably quickly.  She says things like "Well now---this isn't so bad---your clothes finally suit you."   And she seems even happier when she realizes that staying and working in the hat shop wouldn't work out now that no one would recognize her.  She escapes her sense of obligation and sets the course of her life in a completely different direction.  Sophie meets up with Howl again after her transformation---and he attempts to break the curse that was put upon her.  And though her appearance remains the same----it's my understanding that he did break the curse.  What isn't readily apparent at first is that Sophie has a magic of her own---and that for the majority of the movie (though she doesn't realize it)---she is the only one who is keeping herself an old woman---because deep down she thought that being an old woman had its perks---it allowed her to go about her business without unwanted attention---it gave her an escape from a life she didn't choose but felt obligated to accept----it gave her an odd kind of courage:  "One of the nice things about being old is that you're no longer afraid of anything."  She spends an inordinate amount of time trying to find a way to break a spell that she herself had cast.....

Everyone has vices---everyone has faults----when you're significantly overweight----it isn't hard for the people around you to see that you struggle with eating too much---or moving too little---or maybe it's just setting and abiding by limits for yourself.  It isn't an invisible vice, I suppose is what I'm trying to say.  It's a problem on the inside that shows up in an obvious way on the outside.  I have been at a healthy weight before---I have been significantly overweight before.  People don't really talk about their views regarding overweight people to overweight people.  But when you're at a healthy weight---other people at a healthy weight say things to you.  I've heard people say of significantly overweight people:  "I just don't understand how anyone could do this to themselves.  I mean---it's a choice.  Just stop eating---and the weight will go away."  And the truth is---they are right.  Being significantly overweight---it's just like Sophie's spell---I cast it myself.  And maybe on some level---it was inadvertent---but for me---I think there are things that I kind of enjoy about being overweight.  (This is true for me---I'm not speaking of anyone else)  I've found that the following things are true for me when I am overweight---1--people are more careful what they say to me (and this also means that relationships are surface only relationships---part of me likes this because real relationships take a lot of work) 2--It gives me an odd kind of courage.  Being significantly overweight will help you grow a thick skin---though most people who are in your day to day world are kind and supportive---when you're out in the world,  some strangers feel free--or uninhibited enough---to make derogatory comments regarding your appearance.   And to protect yourself--- you begin to care very little (or at least pretend to care very little) about what other people think.  To some extent---I know this can be a good thing---but taken to the extreme---it hardens a heart.  3---It gives me an excuse to sit on the sidelines---which is less scary than participating in life---or in intentionally living a purposeful, God- driven life.  I'm beginning to realize that a frightening thing about idols is that they don't just distract you from seeking God (as if that weren't bad enough)---they lead your heart---direct it---change it---and not in a good way.....And if you try to fix them by yourself----you tend to just find another idol to replace the old one.....and it might even take a great deal of time to realize that you're right back where you started.  Fill up your heart with anything but God----and you're going to have a sickly heart---a hardened heart----a broken heart....

A couple of Easters back---one of our pastors gave us this illustration---he asked if we had ever seen elephants at the circus---had we ever noticed how these giant creatures were kept in check by a mere post on the ground.  Why doesn't the elephant just take a purposeful step???  It could easily rip the tether binding it to the post in the ground with very little effort.  And then he said he found out that trainers will begin binding the elephant to the post when it is a baby----and too small to break free.  The baby elephant will strain and pull and try to get away----but will be unable to do so. Eventually---it will give up.  And even when the elephant is grown and stronger---it will continue to believe that it can not break free from its tether---because it couldn't before---it must not be able to do so now either....And he said that we can be the same way.  Maybe we have tried to break free of sin before---we have tried on our own to stop our self-destructive habits on our own----and we were unable to do so.  We live a defeated life.  And sometimes---even after we have invited Christ into our hearts---even though God can free us from any chains that would bind us----we remember the time when we could not break free  on our own---and we continue to live a defeated life even though God has already broken us free.  And that's why it's so important to remind ourselves daily---of what Christ has done.  We have the strength to live life as a child of God---we are forgiven----and the new Spirit within us can do what the old spirit could not.....

I'm writing this to remind myself.  A couple of weeks ago--- I kind of just gave up----I thought I can't do this anymore---I don't even want to.  There are some things about being overweight that I actually like.....

I picked up Howl's Moving Castle on a whim----and that one little animated film somehow reminded me----I may have cursed myself----but God has broken it already.  I just have to remember the truth---that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  And sometimes the only voice that is telling me that I can't is my own---  And leading a defeated life is not what I want---what I want is to be free.  And that freedom is found only in the pursuit of God and the work of His kingdom.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Just a quick check in day.  Lost 1.4 pounds ---totaling almost 18 and a half pounds.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Just a quick check in day.  I lost 2.5 lbs this week---totaling about 17 in all since the beginning of January.  It becomes more and more apparent to me that God is the only way that this is possible for me.  When I ask God to lend me strength of spirit to break down these unhealthy (both physically and spiritually unhealthy) dependences---He really does lend me this strength.  So, that's a praise and a blessing.  And I'm grateful.  I finished exercising one day---and I just thought---I feel like I can breathe again---I feel like a person again---a person who knows the difference between what matters and what doesn't.  And that feeling of freedom----more than even the numbers on the scale----that is incentive to keep going.

Internet has been spotty at home all week---so haven't been able to really stay online long enough to post much this week.....It's been a somewhat challenging week.  However, every time I start to feel bogged down and just overwhelmed----perspective finds me.  As I've been tempted to compare myself to others---to find myself sorely lacking----a sense of calm overrides the encroaching panic.  I am who I am---I have strengths---I have weaknesses.  But my identity rests in neither of those---but only in Christ.  And day by day---it isn't about trying to be as good as or better than someone else---but just doing the best with what God gives me---and hoping to live a life that somehow reflects back just a little of His goodness---His light.  I'm grateful for these reassurances from a God who sees me---all of me---and still chooses to hold my hand during these moments of insecurity and fear---no matter how trivial they are when looked at under the magnifying glass.

Miriam has taken to repeating:  "Jesus loves me" many times throughout the day.  And this makes my heart happy.  (We'll focus on that and not the "MY Jesus!" where she uses the same emotion for MY as when she's claiming a favorite crayon or block..... Hahahahaha.  Oh toddler time---it's always fun.  :)   Love my sweet girl.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Check in day.  Lost 1.4 pounds this week.  That makes about 15.4 pounds total lost.  Although I've stayed under my calorie goal for most of the week----I have missed my exercise session twice.  Once because I just thought that getting up at 5 on a day that I was going to be at school till seven might make me unbearably cranky----and once because after staying at work at school until seven---I just plain didn't feel like it.  So yeah---take that mild amounts of adversity.....

Eh---it's ok.  I've been dancing with the kids this week---a hip hop dance that I learned at a workshop with fourth and fifth graders----and a fun folk dance that is more like a game than a dance with third graders.  I figure that has me dancing at least 30-45 minutes a day....Count it.  :)

Discovered a food I didn't know I liked.....hummus...but apparently only pine nut hummus.  My new favorite food---low on the glycemic index---and does manage to fill you up with just a little--which is a good thing because it does have a fair amount of fat in it as well.

Also---I can eat celery and like it---IF there is a little peanut butter with it.  I have an aversion to celery usually----so I've come to the conclusion that if peanut butter can make celery better---it can make ANYTHING better.   Fun experiments ahead.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Yesterday, I think I was too angry at the snow that didn't happen to post here  :p  

You can read more about how my deeply rooted, long-standing grudge against snow began here:

Dear snow, although it’s certain
We’ve had our differences in the past
You and I both know that
This cold shoulder just can't last

For years now I have waited
For you to come around
And you have left me nothing
But a dusting on the ground.

Or you’ve blown in with the wind
For Friday afternoon bus duty
Did anyone ever teach you
Mockery’s just snooty.

Ok--you’ve had your fun
But it’s time to mend our fences
Just pop on over for a visit
Come back to your senses.

I just want to tell you
That hey---there’s no hard feelings
I still love you—I still care
I still find you quite appealing.

And should you show up casually
On Monday afternoon
I would welcome you with gladness
That’s all—hope to see you soon.

But since the composition of this poem----I have come to the conclusion that there are hard feelings towards snow----many, many, many, many hard feelings.  And even if it DID snow at this point---I wouldn't speak to it.  Bring on the spring---that's right snow---you heard me---spring---warm sunshine I'm rooting for you now---down with snow and all things icy  (Do you think my reverse psychology will work on snow? )

Anyhow---nutrition and exercise wise---still hangin in there.  Lately---I've caught myself thinking---Ok--my goal is to be down this many pounds by the end of the week.  All the while---the truth of the matter is---that's the very mindset I wanted to avoid when starting out with this whole thing.  If I don't lose even one pound----but am making healthy choices and learning not to lean on food as a crutch----if I can---remain at war with this idol in my life----at lean on God the way I'm built to----well, that would be the point.  And nothing else.  So---this is a nice place to remind myself of that.

Miriam is saying more everyday----and she adds people that she loves to her ongoing monologues every day too.  God bwess Ashwey and Kwisty.  God bwess Jackie and Janice.  God bwess Banni-G (whose name is actually Giovanni, but Miriam has renamed him Banni-G)  I am proud of how much Miriam loves people.  I am such an introvert----and though I often admire people---pray for them on an ongoing basis---and hope for God's blessings on their lives---I do poorly with communicating my feelings towards them.  I am not at easy person to be around socially----it's awkward---for me---and I imagine for the people around me as well.  And I am at a place where I'm ok with that---but I love that my daughter is different from me is this respect.  I love that she hugs people without abandon----that she loves people in general---and is sooo stinkin' excited to see them. I'm going to be real for a minute---and hope it's ok.   Sometimes these differences are a reminder to me that Miriam and I don't share genes---that we lack that biological connection.  And at times, I won't lie----that can hurt a little---scare me a bit---because I wonder---will we be able to relate well to each other as Miriam grows up?  But then---at the same time---I know that although I am certain our relationship will have challenges that are specific to adoption related issues----at the same time---these differences that I notice---Miriam being an extremely extroverted, active (really turning out to be a tad athletic---the kid can make a basket 9 times out of 10) little girl----they are what make Miriam Miriam---and I love Miriam.  I wouldn't want her to be anyone else.  I'm proud of who she is---and even if I am the introvert who would rather sit in the chair with my knitting and a book on tape----I'm glad Miriam is the kid who is telling me "Mommy--pway ball.  Pway ball.  Pway mommy pway."  I'm glad she isn't afraid to get in the game....and I'm glad God blessed us with our daughter.  This home---this family---is changed completely because of Miriam----and though the insecurities that are intrinsic to an adoptive family are certain to crop up now and then----beneath those ripples on the water---the deep is still, rich, and brimming with beauty. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sting me with a phrase
Unhinge me with a word
While I--I remain silent
Consequently feel unheard.

Be terse and be unkind
Though not outrightly cruel
Just drain your voice of warmth
And train your expression to be cool.

And I---I hardly know you
You're no confidante---no friend
Yet I lose my balance
Totter and descend.

From the corner of my eye
Behind the next breath taken
Already there's within me
A voice that leaves me shaken.

You are not who you should be
You are less than I would hope
You are always just free falling
Down an ever sharpening slope.

Your voice joins the other
That was already there
And they tightly wind together
And remain like braids of hair.

And who am I--that I cannot
Untangle strands of three:
Who I am, who I'm not
And who I'm perceived to be.

"Quiet," says my Companion
"Be still," says my Friend
"Child of mine, be silent,
I'm here---let me attend."

Deftly, gentle hands work
Through too tightly braided hair
One section at a time falls loose
And I---I feel seen and bare.

I hide my face within my hands
But Friend says---"Look at me.
He holds the strands in isolation

This one---who you are
Your identity
Remember---this is simple
Beloved---you belong to Me.

The second--who you're not

Your deficiency...
I am perfect in your weakness
My Grace is sufficiency.

And finally--the third
Who you're perceived to be.
This one doesn't matter
Beloved--you belong to Me.

Beloved--you belong to Me.

Just a quick check in day----I lost 2.2 pounds this week.   So that makes about 14 pounds in all.  Still staying under my allotted calories most days.  Up to 15 minutes of exercise in the mornings now.....and yes I know that's a pitiful amount...but increasing by 5 minutes every two weeks makes me feel like I can actually do the exercise.  I have lost a large amount of weight in the past----and I know that exercise is a critical thing for me---so I don't want to burn out early.  I want to just gradually add it in so that each little bump up will feel more natural.  Still praying for strength to stick with this----and some days are harder than others right now.  But I know God is lending me perseverance---and answering my prayers.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

First thing yesterday morning, I ran into the same little girl while I was at bus duty.  I was so excited to talk to her because our conversation from the day before had stuck with me.

As I approached her, I overheard her talking with another little girl---they were making plans for when they would sit together---at lunch, at indoor recess, etc.  And it made me smile.

I asked her quietly---"So did you work things out."

"Yes!" the little girl smiled---"We did!  And now we've even made up a rhyme together."  And so she and the other little girl proceeded to perform an elaborate hand game as they chanted rhymes about girls with yellow hair and boyfriends named Jello----and other silliness that only friends can fully share.  

It was a good moment.

Especially after the bit of a rough start yesterday.  I swear I think my brain is already deteriorating.  I drove past the school yesterday on the way to drop Miriam off at daycare---and noticed there were a lot of cars there.  I'm usually one of the first ones there, so I was a bit surprised though not overly alarmed. Hmmm, I thought to myself, that's funny.  After dropping Miriam at daycare, I came back to school---walked in the building----and saw a lot of teacher's kids playing together in a classroom.  And that's when it hit me---faculty meeting.  7:45 faculty meeting.  I checked the time---it was 8:20 when I finally discovered my mistake.  I stood in the hallway---contemplated going in to the meeting late----but just couldn't. I couldn't stand the thought of drawing that much attention to myself. The new superintendent of Bartlett schools was there today meeting with us.  I had been looking forward to this meeting.  How had I completely flaked out on a faculty meeting?  I went back to the car and cried for a few minutes. I was so angry with myself.  I called Stu and told him what I'd done---he tried to tell me---it's ok---it's not the end of the world if you miss a meeting.  And then I got kind of angry with him too.  (one of my prayers is for a gentle spirit----that one needs an under construction sign)

I don't know---sometimes I just feel like I'm doing everything poorly---everything.  I know those feelings aren't completely accurate----but I do feel it's true I make more mistakes than I used to.  I forget things, legitimately forget---important things.

But ---then I try to remember something our pastor talked about last week----our identity isn't in our weaknesses---our struggles.  Our identity is in Christ.  Spending time beating myself up about things I'm not doing well---I don't's one thing to go to war with your idols----which I'm trying to do---but it's another thing to focus solely on intrinsic character traits about yourself and wish you were different.....I'm a forgetful person....absentminded-----not that I shouldn't try to write myself notes---make extra effort to remember important things----but this feeling of "not good enough"---that isn't valid.  My identity---anything good in me----anything of worth in me----can be found in Christ, and in Christ alone.  And His grace is sufficient for me.  

It is ridiculous how little it takes to sink my meager ship when I forget this.  Perspective-----I'm praying for that too.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I was walking back to my classroom yesterday---and a little girl in the first grade was walking beside me---headed in the same general direction.

"Hi Mrs. Finch," she said cheerily.

I said Hello back and asked "How are you doing today?"

The little girl said, "Fine--" and it seemed sincere.  But a minute later, she said "Well, actually---not so fine."

I said--"Oh really?  What's going on?"

She answered sadly--"Lost a friend----a best friend."

"Oh---that's terrible.  How did that happen?"

"She says I never sit by her....but I always sit by her every day." and then, with a desperate since of exasperation that you don't normally hear from first graders she said---"Come on---just cut me a break already."

I told her---"Well, I wouldn't give up on her just should try talking to her.  It is a serious thing to lose a friend---a best friend.  And sometimes all it takes to keep a friend is a talk.   Maybe she misunderstood something----and she thinks you don't want to be her friend anymore.  Try to clear it up---and see what happens, ok.  Don't give up..."

She nodded, but didn't look too optimistic---and walked into her classroom.

Today---I hope I have the chance to ask her what happened.  Because it truly is a serious thing to lose a friend---a best friend.  I'm pretty sure she already knew that---I think first graders understand that more than we adults do sometimes.  Friendships are important----and they're worth saving.


Stuart had to go pick Miriam up yesterday from daycare.  Although she seemed fine at home---and fine when I dropped her---they called and said she had been crying ever since I left---rolling around on the floor and holding her stomach.  She had calmed down by the time Stu picked her up----and he took her to the doctor for an 11:15 appointment.  The doctor said she seemed fine---he listened to her breathing because she's had a cough for a couple of weeks---he felt her tummy---and said it felt normal---checked her bloodwork---also fine.  He said---it might be a virus and that if it was she might feel worse that afternoon or evening.  But Miriam felt just fine all evening----so we're thinkin' gas---and limiting dairy as recommended by doctor.  Miriam usually has some pretty big meltdowns at the doctor's office---but Stu said she was really actually very sweet this go-round.  When the doctor came in---Miriam asked--"Who's dat?"  Stuart told her--"It's the doctor."  Miriam said:  "Doctor?  Doctor?"  She was good while he did everything he had to do---and didn't even cry when they stuck her finger.  She did however cry when they put the bandaid on--"Sticker off!  Sticker off!" she demanded.  Hahaha.  When the doctor left she said---"Bye bye doctor......that's my doctor."

I'm really glad Miriam seems fine and isn't sick----but I'm also really glad Stu left work early to get her. Yesterday---there was a lot of rain, freezing rain, and flooding on the roadways.  I was glad that Stu and Miriam were home before it got really bad.  Count that whole story under the blessings column please.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

From Piper's devotion:  This morning I read about the "Five Ways affliction helps"---I really like this article---so I'll post those five ways here----as a reminder that affliction isn't something to curse and be angry over---but rather it can be seen as a way to grow closer to God in relationship....

"Affliction takes the glibness of life away and makes us more serious so that our mindset is more in tune with the seriousness of God's word."

"Affliction knocks worldly props from under us and forces us to rely more on God, which brings us more in tune with the aim of the world"

"Affliction makes us search the Scriptures with greater desperation for help, rather than treating it as marginal to life."

"Affliction brings us into the fellowship of Christ's sufferings so that we fellowship more closely with him and see the world more readily through his eyes."

"Affliction mortifies deceitful and distracting fleshly desires, and so brings us into a more spiritual frame which fits God's word more."


I had one of those dreams that was still going on right as the alarm clock's jarring buzzer started ringing in my of those dreams that leaves you disoriented because you wake up so abruptly from this other reality.  All my teeth had started to fall out (lovely, right?)  Just one at a time at first---and then by the handful---could have made a killing off the tooth fairy...  Anyhow---obviously I'm pretty upset that all my teeth are falling out----but a beautiful woman---I suppose she was a dentist, though she was dressed more for an outing to some grand party---don't remember much---but I remember dangling earrings and a dazzling necklace with amber jewels---anyhow---the lady started putting my teeth back in place, one by one.  And when she had finished----she said---there, now see----you're beautiful.   And right after she had put me to rights----she was fired from her job.....I woke up right as I was trying to comfort her.  A little disturbing really----made me think of role reversals a bit.  How we tend to put the people who have been there for us---up on a pedestal---and we somehow think that nothing bad will ever touch them.  And yet----those people are human too----living in the same broken world as we live in----and the brokenness---the affliction----it will find them too at some point.....And we may be the ones who need to pick up the pieces the next time.....

Keeping my prayers in a separate notebook right now---but I will say that I'm praying for change.  I keep praying for situations to change----but I've also prayed that if it isn't God's will for these situations to change----then I pray for change within myself.....

Blessings: Laughter.  When I was student teaching, the principal of Campus School told us "My advice to you is this.  Laugh----laugh whenever you can---as often as you can."  She knew what she was talking about.  

Friday, January 31, 2014

Check-in day.  I lost .8 pounds this week---that makes  11.8 in total, I think.  This week was a bit tough.  I was ill on Tuesday---didn't eat a lot----but on Wednesday, I was starving---got to the point where I just didn't measure things out or count anything much.  I still avoided sugar----and I really don't think I ate anything too awful.  But---I didn't really accurately track what I was eating.  I exercised Monday and Tuesday (before I got sick later that morning)----but then I was still feeling beat down on Wednesday---so I skipped exercising----Thursday I just forgot to reset my alarm.  And now, here we are on Friday with a loss of less than a pound.  But that's really ok.  Feeling well enough about that.  So long as the scale is going down---so long as I'm not bailing out on the fight---I'm ok with it.

Read about Jacob wrestling with the angel this morning.  I love this story.  There's a great article about that here :

I always wondered---how did Jacob wrestle with an angel and win?  How is that even possible?

I love the article's explanation.  It talks about how Jacob had been fighting with God---really all is life---tricking people---deceiving and lying to get his way---without ever relying on God to care for him...This fight happens right after Jacob fled from Laban---and right before he's going back to the lands of Esau--as God commanded him---and he's frightened of Esau----because the last time he saw Esau---he stole his inheritance by pretending to be Esau---the oldest son---while speaking with his aged father.

God tried to get Jacob to understand that the real fight isn't the one going on between Jacob and Esau---but the one going on between Jacob and God.  The angel wrestles with him---all night long----but when the angel is ready to go---he dislocates Jacob's hip with a mere touch.  It isn't as if the angel couldn't have overtaken Jacob in the fight effortlessly at any moment----he fought with him for Jacob's sake.  He fought with him all night until Jacob was completely exhausted---and ready to rely only on God----until Jacob said "Bless me."  Until Jacob acknowledges where the blessings are really coming from----they don't come from Jacob's cleverness or his machinations----they come from God...

The angel also asks Jacob---Who are you?  The last person who asked Jacob---who are you?  was his father when he was about to bestow his blessing upon the person he thought was his eldest son.  The last time Jacob answered that question---it was with a lie---I'm Esau---he said to his father....  So it's doubtful that this is a coincidence when the angel asks this question again---a question that he obviously knows the answer's a reminder----it forces Jacob to confront who he really is---what he has really done----and when Jacob answers truthfully---the angel blesses him.....

Any struggle we have with God doesn't keep going because God can't end it with one goes on for our own bring about self-awareness---to bring about the realization that God is the only thing we need to depend on....I love how beautifully this story depicts that...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Blessings:  sweet friends that I get to teach with.  So--a few days ago we were celebrating a friend's birthday at work.  My friends at work know that I'm trying to cut out sweets for a month.  Our librarian went to pick up cupcakes for the celebrations---but she also picked up a cup of mango for me---because she said I should have a treat too.  It wasn't even my birthday---and she went through the trouble to find out my favorite fruit (I never would have said mango if I'd known she was actually planning on grabbing some for me--it can be troublesome to find--I thought we were just talking about fruit---I'm kind of oblivious....most of the time)---and then bring it along with the cupcakes the next day.  I am blessed by sweet and thoughtful friends.

Another blessing---cooking a meal that didn't turn out awful or result in fire, flood, or any other natural disaster which is common in my kitchen.  Yay for Pioneer Woman cooks sour cream noodle bake.  Turned out well---and things are left basically intact.  Huzzah.

Prayers:  Again---they repeat.  Today, one of my family members is having that second interview---so I prayed especially for her today.  Also, it is a friend's birthday---so I prayed for her too---that she would feel beloved today.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Reading about Jacob and Esau today.  It's always been difficult for me to understand the story of Jacob and Esau.  Jacob schemes and lies to steal away Esau's birthright---and then again to take his blessing.   The commentary I'm reading says that Jacob does these things because he is spiritually hungry---and that God will work with imperfect people----God will be present with imperfect people---when they passionately pursue him.  The Bible says Esau despised his birthright----and the commentary notes that Esau was more concerned with the physical world than the spiritual one.  There's a verse somewhere that says something like--"For Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated."  That one has always disturbed me....

Of course, God would have blessed Jacob regardless.  Jacob didn't really have to lie and cheat his way into having God's blessings---and Jacob will have a hard life for a few years because of his treachery.  But God will not give up on him.  As Jacob is fleeing his home, because Esau is literally ready to kill him----he has a dream---Jacob's ladder---the angels going up and down.  God gives Esau the same promise He gave to Abraham---about blessing His family.  And He says:  "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land.  For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."  Genesis 28:15

I can't help of think of the dreams I had when Stuart and I were going through the adoption process.  Two have stayed with me.  One dream---after we met M, the biological mother of a child who had chosen us to parent---but who would ultimately decide to parent herself.  Stu and I had met her several times---and we thought M was lovely and vibrant.  Stu and I had stayed up talking late one night---about how--yes, we wanted a child----but how, part of us was very sad that the child couldn't stay with his biological mother.  We were both excited about the prospect of parenting----but also very sad about the brokenness that is intrinsic to adoption.  For us to have a new family---another family must first be broken.  It is not an easy thing to accept.  That night, I dreamed---I stood with a man---nondescript---and he just told me---"This is all going to work out.  More than just work out---it's going to be good.  It's going to look as if things aren't ok----but they are.  All will be well."  At the time, I thought that perhaps the dream meant the adoption would work out for the best.  Looking back, I think it meant that the child would end up where he was supposed to end up---with his first family----and that all is well.

The second dream occurred the night before Miriam was born----an old woman sat with me on a mossy stone.  And she told me matter of factly:  "You can do this.  You can do this because the Holy Spirit is with you.  The Holy Spirit is in you.  The Holy Spirit is around you."  And she repeated those words.  And the next day---as Miriam's birth was accompanied by uncertainty about whether or not the adoption would take place--the Holy Spirit was with us.  In the coming days, as we would fall in love with our daughter---I would see Stuart, as I can still see him vividly now---sitting in the chair with Miriam's fingers curled around his---he would meet my eyes---and we would be thinking the same thing---what if this adoption plan falls through?  And even then---the Holy Spirit was with us---gave us a peace beyond understanding.....

God is with us---even when we are imperfect.....

I write these things today to memorialize them----as Jacob laid the stones to remember---I'm writing these words to remember----the goodness of God.  The way he comes to us in the details of our lives and cares for us with such kindness that we don't deserve.   God is good.

Blessings:  getting to hang out with Joshua, Nikki, Ashley, and Kristy last night.
                   And many, many more

Prayers:  they repeat still....they are many as well.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Well, checkin day for week 3.  I lost 2 pounds this week.  So I'm down 11 in all.  I stayed under my calorie goal every day except for Wednesday when I went a couple of hundred calories over.  But yesterday, I was significantly under the calories I could have used---so I say it all works out in the end.  I've added exercise this week.  Very little---just 10 minutes in the morning on my own and 10 at night with the kiddo.  I enjoy the light floor aerobics routines that are a little dancey.  I've found that I do best if the patterns of movement are varied enough that I have to think more about the steps than how fast I'm moving.  And I cannot stick with a program where the instructor marches, dances, exercises, whatever---off the beat.  The music teacher in me just can't handle it.  Petra Kolber is really just a delightful instructor via DVD---and I enjoy her routines.  So that's going well.  I plan to keep it at my little piddly ten minutes am and pm one more week before upping my exercise time a bit.  I could handle more physically---but training myself to get up earlier is the biggest challenge here---and I'm really in no hurry.  I have no time limit on losing weight, etc.  I just want to be fit to serve---I want to break down the idol of food (which is a sad thing to admit, but I do think food is an idol when I let it control me the way that I have in the past)  And I want to be able to keep up with my athletic, little girl.

Today, I am thanking God for blessing me with three weeks of strength to stick with this.  Because---let's not kid ourselves----on my own---I just can't do it.  On my own, I need a chocolate shake to make it through the day.  But with God---I just need to remember to call on the strength that He's already agreed to give me.  And I want to lean on Him----and nothing else.

Still reading through Genesis each morning.  Right now, I'm reading about Isaac's family---his wife, Rebekah---his sons:  Jacob and Esau.  Just a side note---I talked about Abraham yesterday, traveling through Abimelech's lands and telling everyone his wife was his sister to save his own skin.  I didn't remember at all that Isaac does the same thing---travels through Abimelech's land and tells everyone that Rebekah is his sister----because he believes that someone will kill him so he can have her for himself.  Which--I suppose---when you read through the Old testament you see that it is a legitimate concern.  But still---come on guys...really???  Again, imperfect people being blessed by a holy, perfect God.  And thank goodness God doesn't treat us the way we deserve to be treated....

Blessings:  I try really hard to remember my kids' names---it's difficult because I see the whole school---and I tend to get sibling groups mixed up, etc.  But the kids know I really try to learn their names because I take little name tests at certain times throughout the year---just to make sure I'm keepin up with everyone.  They love it when I take a name test---and they especially love it if I happen to get a name wrong.  But that's another story.  After class on Wednesday, two of my fifth graders generally like to stay after class and give me a name test whether I want to take it or not.  A boy and a girl approach me--"What's my name???" they ask each week.  And here's the thing---I know their names, but they come up with elaborate nicknames that I am also supposed to remember---and the nicknames change on a weekly basis---ridiculous things like Fabio, Ferdinand, etc.  It's just a game we play.  So this Wednesday---I said Fabio and M-dawg.  Now, M-dawg is this little skinny, quiet as a mouse girl---so I find the name M-dawg somewhat hilarious.  Then M-dawg tells me--No I'm Mad--dawg!  And now Fabio wants to be called J-dawg.  I tell M-dawg---I'm so sorry Mad-dawg---I will try to get it together for you.  She pats me on the shoulder---with fake concern and humor lining her face---"It's ok Mrs. Finch, one day you'll get it right."  I just love these little, silly moments with the kids.  They make me happy.

Yesterday morning, first thing---a kid in the hallway randomly told me--"You are so beautiful,"  Such sweetness.

Prayers:  family members with illness, difficulties.
                 Students dealing with illnesses.
                 Family member still getting ready for that interview that keeps getting pushed back.
                 And many more.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I woke up thinking about relationships this morning.  How people change and grow.  I've heard people say things before like, "A tiger can't change his stripes,"---and I suppose that in a frustrating relationship with someone who just seems caught in a loop of undesirable behaviors--- it can feel that way sometimes.  But when I look back on what I've seen so far----thankfully, that just doesn't seem to be true all of the time.  We are changed by our experiences/our surroundings---in good ways---in not so good ways----as surely as an egg in a pot of boiling water is changed by its environment.  And when you throw God into the mix---who delights in making all things new----on perfecting His plan by using the most imperfect people----well, things can really get interesting.  In Miriam's bible, it starts off by saying something like, "Some people think the bible is a book of rules.....others think it's a book about heroes telling stories about what they have done for God.....but really the Bible is about God and what He has done."  It isn't difficult to see that the "heroes" of the Bible are just people---people struggling with sin, fear, and misconceptions---and everything good that they accomplish is done only with the strength of a graceful, merciful God.  Even Abraham----that story about Abraham traveling through unfamiliar territory kills me----he gets scared of the people there---anxious that they will kill him because Sarah is so beautiful that they will want her.  So he tells Sarah---"Do me this kindness.  You must say that you are my sister..."  Oh come on, Abraham.  Really?  Luckily, when Abimelech wants to take Sarah as his wife---God intervenes.  The story of Abraham and Sarah's marriage fascinates me----because it must have been one rocky ride.  And yet---despite all this----in the end, we see Abraham mourning Sarah---going through a great deal of trouble to find a suitable burial place for her.  We know he loved her.  I imagine she loved him---in spite of everything.  I am reminded again to show grace in relationships----none of us are already who we will become.  We are all works in progress---God shows us enormous grace----and when we are given this much grace ourselves---it is expected that we also give that kind of grace to others through our friendships, marriages, relationships of any kind.

CS Lewis gives another perspective on why we should be kind and show grace in our dealings with each other:

"There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours."

Or, put another way:

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you may talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet if at all only in a nightmare."

Lewis reminds us that we all go on forever---one way or the other---we become the companions of God, as was intended when we were created----or we become creatures of infinite wickedness.....and so it is no small thing how we relate to each we treat one another....

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

May the seeds that are planted
Find good soil and take root
May they grow, may they flourish
May they bear healthy fruit.

Lord, please forgive me
When my branches are bare
When I turn from Your joy
And turn towards despair

Sometimes the darkness
Spins truth with a curve
This is what you have been
This is what you deserve.

And perhaps this is so
But completely misleading
Irrelevant when you are seeking
And heeding

A voice that has said
I will dwell within you
And from what you were
I will make something new....

Blessings:  the kid on the intercom yesterday who, while finishing the pledge of allegiance, said "with liberty, justice.....and all."  Funny how one changed word can so totally alter the meaning.  I was tickled.
The light snow that fell yesterday---snow always makes my heart lighter.

family, friends, students----that God is with them as they face times where their health is in jeopardy.
Family member with a second interview today.
For students dealing with a personal loss.
And, of course, many more.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Well--it's been two weeks.  For those two weeks---I've counted calories and kept them at or below the goal set for me by that handy dandy little fitness app.  Now--I'm very slowly adding some exercise---just for a few minutes in the morning on my own---and then for a few minutes in the afternoon with Miriam.  When the weather is nice enough, we'll use that as outside play time together.  But I've ordered some little fitness videos geared towards kids for the days that it's too cold, rainy, or dark.  They haven't come in yet---so yesterday I was curious if Miriam would be at all interested in just some regular old light floor aerobics since she loves dancing so much and it is kind of like dancing....I stuck the tape in---and Miriam immediately climbed on top of her little table, grinned, and started dancing.  I nixed the table dancing for obvious reasons---but she then seemed to have a really good time dancing on the floor----even imitating the little squats----ummm---hilarious.  It made the exercises fun for me too.  And Stu was endlessly entertained.  Miriam always has a way of making things better.

I attempted to make quinoa yesterday----I just found out that isn't pronounced qwin-oh-uh---but rather keen-wa.  Keen-wa----for some reason I want to say that with a British accent.  I think it would have turned out better if I hadn't substituted garlic salt for garlic.  Eh---live and learn.  The night before the quinoa experiment gone wrong---I attempted to make beef and vegetable chili for dinner---this also went terribly awry.  I have no idea what I did wrong---but the resulting chili was an abomination to taste buds everywhere----way too spicy (I did catch myself starting to put in two tablespoons of cumin rather than two teaspoons---but I corrected the error....really)---and even if it hadn't been too spicy---the taste of the chili under the spices was just----bad.....really bad.  We ending up having random things from the pantry that night.  I don't think that the kitchen and I will ever make peace really.  We are just mortal enemies.

In my devotion time this morning---I read about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  There's a cheery romp for you.  This, to me, remains one of the most disturbing stories in the Bible.  I can imagine Abraham pleading on behalf of any righteous people who might be found in those cities.....If you can find just fifty--Lord---might they be saved...forty....thirty...twenty...ten.  And the angel of the Lord says---if I can find ten people I will save the cities on their behalf. And then the angels go to Sodom---Lot takes them into his house for protection----and then the whole town surrounds the house, trying to break down the doors---threatening sexual violence upon the visitors.  Lot---whose morals must have been skewed from his time in Sodom---actually tries to offer up his own daughters in exchange for his guests.  Disturbing---there's really just no other word for it.   And yet----there are places where the cruelty and violence of Sodom and Gomorrah can still be found.....and I suppose that we know from Genesis that God's patience for evil is not something that will last forever...

Blessings:  Miriam's dancing.  :)  

Prayers:  Friends and family struggling with illnesses.
                 Friend: unspoken
                 Family:  second interview coming up.  Yay!
                 Colleagues at school and students.
                 Student struggling with illness.
                 Students struggling with loss.
                As always, many more.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Check in day:
Well, this week I lost another 4.2 pounds.  So, in two weeks, I've lost a total of 9.2 pounds.  That's more than I was expecting to lose---and I'm thankful for that much weight being gone.  It's not much really for someone like me who has so much weight to lose----but it's still a lot.  It's enough to make me feel a lot better---not as sleepy all the time---more active during the day----more myself.

If yesterday had been a test---I'm pretty sure I would have failed.  Just reading through yesterday's notes from my devotion time----it is uncanny how applicable they were for that particular day---- I could have drawn strength from them if I had bothered to try.  Sometimes words are for the wind----let them go---show people grace because many times our words don't come from our true self----show people the grace you want them to show you when you say something that isn't really from you.  Still working on it.  Still praying that God will work on my heart---because sometimes it can be so very hard.

Something from one of my pastor's sermons keeps jumping out at me too---he once talked about idols and how pervasive they can be in our lives.  One idol he noted was a people pleasing idol.  He said something along the lines of---Nobody even better talk to me if I preach a bad sermon.  And he believed that this attitude---this feeling of almost devastation----is revealing of a people pleasing idol that he struggles with.  I'm pretty sure I struggle with that one too.   I should not feel so sad if I don't live up to someone's expectations----not if I'm giving all I have---and doing my best.  Oh my goodness, it doesn't matter.  And yet---that little horrible part of myself wants to make a good impression---wants people to think "She is doing a great job!"  Bah!  Build a bridge and get over it.  Except I know I can't build my own bridge---which brings us back to why I'm here---early in the morning---praying to God for change---for a bridge, not of my own making.

Blessings:  I am thankful for  a husband who loves me unconditionally---who has taken over with Miriam two nights in a row while I work late at school.  For a family who invites us over to dinner because they know I ain't cooking here at the end of a crazy week.  I'm thankful for that kid who---when asked---tell us something you learned about Martin Luther King---said, with awe in his voice---he was a king!!!  I'm thankful for the first grader who asked me "Is your job hard?"  I replied---"Sometimes--but it's a lot of fun too---"  And he smiled at me with that sweet smile that only a child can muster.  That was a good moment.  I'm thankful for Miriam---perched on Papa's foot and asking for a bite of apple pie.  Also---a good moment.

Prayers:  Praying for family members and friends who are dealing with illnesses and upcoming surgeries.  Praying for a family member waiting to hear back after a job interview.  And many, many more that I'll leave unspoken.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Do you think that you can reprove words, when the speech of a despairing man is wind?" Job 6:26

From Piper's Devotion:  "In grief and pain and despair, people often say things they otherwise would not say.  They paint reality with darker strokes than they will paint it tomorrow when the sun comes up....What shall we do with these words?  Job says that we do not need to reprove them.  These words are wind--or literally "for the wind"  They will quickly be blown away...Therefore, the point is, let us not spend our time and energy reproving such words.  They will be blown away of themselves on the wind.  One need not clip the leaves in autumn.  It is a wasted effort.  They will soon blow off of themselves.  O how quickly we are given to defending God, or sometimes the truth, from words that are only for the wind.  If we had discernment, we could tell the difference between the words with roots and the words blowing in the wind.....What you hear is not the deepest thing within.  There is something real within where they come from.  But it is temporary---like a passing infection----real, painful, but not the true person."

One of my resolutions this year was to show more grace towards people.  I still struggle with the notion that if someone says an unkind word to me---or, more often, about me----(gossip that loops back to its source)---that I don't have time for that person anymore.  When I disregard God---my natural, old self is very unforgiving---and can hold a grudge for an embarrassing amount of time.

But then, when I look at myself---if  I say something thoughtless that is then perceived to be unkind----I get peeved.  Because I think to myself---I didn't mean it that way.  Something I said struck a chord I didn't even know existed---show me some grace...

Grace is so much easier to expect---to receive----than it is so extend.  I pray today for discernment---let me know when to deal with words that have roots--- but when to let a light breeze carry off words that are "not the deepest thing within..."

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.”  ----George Eliot

Blessings:  Thankful to have a dad who still will drop everything to help me if I run into trouble.

Prayers:   Many

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I often have this conversation with my students:  rests are difficult for us---because we want to fill them with sound.  It's part of our nature---we want to rush past them and get to the part where we get to make the music.  But here's the thing to remember---the silence is a part of the music.  Don't rush the silence---it isn't something apart from the music.  It is the music---it's just as important as the part of the music that is sound.  It builds anticipation---or it can turn a rhythm from symmetrical to asymmetrical---it can create syncopation.  Or it can just give a phrase which has arced and descended---space to breathe.  Where the silence is placed---how long the silence lasts---it's a part of the music.  It's part of what makes the music mean what it means.

I've been reading about God's promise to Abram this morning---God's promise that he would bless him with a large and prosperous family.  But Abram and Sarai become impatient, and take matters into their own hands.  And some fair amount of heartbreak follows.

I suppose the seasons of life that are the hardest for us to manage are the ones in between anticipation and its fulfillment--the ones where God seems silent.  This Bible story reminds me----don't rush past the silence---it isn't something apart---it's part of what makes our lives mean what they mean.

Yesterday, as I was pulling out of the garage, I noticed that our old fence was crusted with ice crystals---the morning light caught them and they shimmered like something out of a fairy tale.  The fence is old, broken in places, and yet when the ice reflected back the light of the sun---it became beautiful.  Hope.  I, also, want to reflect back something beautiful.  There is nothing beautiful in me alone---I am broken.  But I still hope to catch the light---and then reflect it back out into the darkness.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The hair on the back of my neck
Starts to prickle
The air is electric
Adrenaline trickles.
Like drops from a faucet
Whose intensity shifts
To that of great falls
Rushing over the cliffs.
It's more than the senses 
Could ever detect
No matter which of them
I choose to select.
Should my vision sharpen
Becoming more clear
Or my ears heighten
To more vibrantly hear.
Perhaps I could follow
Every beautiful slant
Of light and of brilliance
Of melodic descant.
As it is--I just know
There is more than appears
And God is still present
He draws ever near.
He is the Seeker
When we are too weak
He is Compassion
When the world is so bleak.
He is the spark---
That can light up a stone
The Lord of the seen
And what is unknown...

Random Morning Thoughts:
I sometimes think that the second week of any lifestyle change can be the hardest.  I'm wanting to fall back into old habits.  Found some candy leftover from Christmas in my desk yesterday and seriously wanted to just sit down and eat the whole thing.  But, I didn't.  Getting up earlier to have quiet time in the Bible and in prayer also seems to be more challenging this week.  The alarm goes off and I think---I don't really have to get up yet.....but so far I've been getting up anyhow.  Still praying for strength and change in my heart.  I committed to this daily quiet time for five days a week--but after going two days without it---I'm pretty sure I need it every day.  Sunday provides that quiet time/Bible study naturally in church----but I think I need to have a quiet time on Saturday mornings as well.  It's just too easy to push God to the back burner when I don't make an intentional effort to spend some time with Him.  

From Devotion Time
Romans 8:5-6  "Those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace."

From Piper's devotional regarding this verse:  "This is stunning.  What you set your mind on determines whether the issue is life or death."

Stuart and Miriam playing ball together---a house of squeals and laughter.  
Playing chase with Miriam and watching her dance.
A good day with the kids at school yesterday.

Family struggling with illness
Students affected by personal loss
Family member with a job interview today
Praying for Miriam's relationship with Christ someday.
(And others...)