Sunday, February 27, 2011

two pictures and some words

First of all, I have one cute nephew. He caught his first fish. From what I understand, he was holding the pole but had some help reeling it in. Wish I could have witnessed it firsthand. Check out that face!

Second, from what I hear the Tucson mountains received a beautiful dusting of snow this morning. A wonderful site to behold. Hannah sent me this pic, which is now my desktop pic. Lovely in every possible way. It screams, "This place is beautiful! Look at the mountains! And look at our Southwest architecture!" I miss all of it.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Approaching Lent

It's been a wonderful Saturday, "slow" but not unproductive. Have you ever realized how easy it is to feel lazy when the day is slower? Such a misnomer of our culture: that busy living equals productivity and purpose. There's such purpose in stillness and production in just being. Today I've cleaned and organized (a little), made a few phone calls, read (Anne Lamott, Plan B), made soup broth, sat on the couch and prayed (or tried to), journaled, caught up on emails...I'll still be going to work this evening. I rather enjoy the occasional Saturday evening with the kiddos :) But right now, before that, in the stillness of today while the snow (still) falls out my window, I'm thinking about Lent. I'm thinking about approaching the intentional time of God-reliance with new thoughts, needed questions, simple conversation.
God, I always need you. Many days it seems like I live to forget that I need you; instead trying to prove to myself or others that I'm strong enough to do it on my own. Soon there's a season to help us frame our need in the context of your story--help us locate ourselves, again, in your find the freedom, peace, and rest that are there.

I came across this brief article today in Sojourners. While I'm not always a fan of the way they frame some of their stories, I appreciate this contribution by Walter Brueggemann on Lent:

"Lent is a time for “following.” The narrative about Jesus’ suffering and death provides a way in which we are able, in an act of disciplined imagination, to situate (or resituate) our lives in the story of Jesus. We become aware that the story of Jesus requires and permits a new version of our own story of life and faith.

Lent is a time for fresh decision-making about reliance upon the God of the gospel. Such decision-making in Lent is commonly called “repentance.” It’s a time to reflect on the way in which God gives new life that is welcome when we recognize how our old way of life mostly leaves us weary and unsatisfied.
Lent is a time to face the reality that there is no easy or “convenient” passage from our previous life to a new, joyous life in the gospel. The move is by the pattern and sequence of Jesus’ own life, an embrace of suffering that comes with obedience, a suffering which comes inevitably when our lives are at odds with dominant social values.
Lent is a time for life with God. While Jesus’ suffering and death are quite public events in the Roman Empire, his prayers—echoing the psalms—evidence that his primary focus was on life with God. In Lent we may draw away from public life enough to give energy to this defining relationship with the God who hears and answers, who summons, forgives, and saves."
Walter Brueggemann, a Sojourners contributing editor, is professor emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.
I'm still trying to determine what it is I will "give up" this year or how I will act out my dependence on the one whose sufficiency is my life. Last year I gave up worry (see here). Yes, it was a difficult time wrought with failure upon failure but it taught me a lot about what it means to live to be God's--to be kept, held, upheld, and known but the one who is shaping me.
"What is Better?
Isaiah 55:1-9; Psalm 63:1-8; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Luke 13:1-9
Lent is a time for making decisions about God’s good news and our life in the world. The decisions pose the question: “What is better?” In Psalm 63, we get an answer, “God’s steadfast love is better than life.” The psalm evokes a plethora of images: God’s fidelity is like water in a weary land; a feast of rich food; a shadow amid the hot sun; a strong hand that keeps one from falling. The psalm invites reflection on God’s reliability, for which there is no adequate substitute in our busy world of consumerism.
Corinthians is more concrete. Here the alternative is to “desire evil.” The phrase gives Paul a chance to review ancient history as an “example.” That memory includes the golden calf (Exodus 32; 1 Corinthians 10:7-8) and murmuring in the wilderness (Numbers 21:4-6; 1 Corinthians 10:9). The “desire of evil” is an alternative of self-sufficiency, of shaping our “gods” according to our convenience. To “desire evil” in our contemporary society is to imagine that with enough power, goods, and control one does not need the gift of fidelity.
Isaiah’s poem sets the choice that God’s people are always making—free water, milk, and bread, or the rat-race of self sufficiency. “Seek the Lord” is an invitation to abandon self-sufficiency for life in the gospel. Luke, with its two odd case studies, is preoccupied with “repentance” and the call to “bear fruit.” The hard part is choosing to live differently. That is always the important part, now as it was then. Life in the rat-race makes us “prey for jackals” (Psalm 63:10) without time to bless and thank God (Psalm 63:6)."
Lent is 'Come to Jesus' Time. by Walter Brueggemann. Sojourners Magazine, March 2010 (Vol. 39, No. 3, pp. 48). Living the Word.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

getting ready

Lent begins March 9. I'm now beginning to think how I am going to approach it this year...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

again, grateful

for a dad who picks his daughter up well past his bedtime, because the plane was delayed. and even though he left at 6am this morning for his 24 hr bike race (i'm consistently proud of my dad) he was awake and alert to talk with me in the dark and listen to all my fits of frustration and confusion and life-wonderings. he is patient and wise and i guess i really needed some dad time. good thing he's coming home tomorrow. my dad--one of the "fat and 50" relay team that will *win* (wink wink) the Old Pueblo bike tour :)

and i woke up to mom sitting at the table--her beautiful crown of all speckled grey hair (she might not think it beautiful like I do but it is and i love it)--eating cereal. and then we talked and she listened to my same fits of frustration and confusion and life-wonderings. i'm grateful for these two wonderful parents. i've missed being with them.

the sky is huge. the sun is bright. it is 70 degrees and i'm in a t-shirt. it's good to be back here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

today: grateful for...

driving: 1. windows down 2. sunglasses
sloppy wet goodbye kisses from a 3 yr old.
oreos and milk.
conversations with friends.
going HOME.

I'm off to the airport in a few minutes...a much needed get away trip. Tucson, here I come!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

gosh, the days are full of thinking

I've been full this week. So many different thoughts crowding around my heart and mind, trying to get my time and attention. I've been aware of the great gift of prayer for filtering these thoughts. I read Romans 8 the other morning and got thinking about the gift of the Spirit (in particular for the tasks of seeking wisdom and discernment). Seriously, what a gift. There's a verse in John (I should go look it up...but i think it's chapter 14...) in which Jesus talks about the gift of the Spirit and the gift(s) of peace of mind and heart. A life steeped in prayer with/to the Spirit is a life of peace, I think. But not a life without feeling and emotion. Sometimes I think we misunderstand what "feeling peace" looks like. Don't we tend to view peace of mind/heart as almost an emotionless state? Nothing bothering us, nothing concerning us, just a happy-go-lucky contentedness, unaffected, serene.... I'm not so sure that's accurate. Actually, I can say with a high level of certainty that it's not.
I think peace of mind and heart probably have more to do with the rest and relief that come with trusting and entrusting our lives to the Lord--to the day-by-day guiding presence of the Spirit, a presence we rely on even without knowing it sometimes. Peace of mind and heart is the exercise of faith. Belief that there's a bigger story written by a hand other than our own but a story we are nonetheless written into...a story in whose context we find meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. This doesn't mean we don't feel life (the ups and downs; the joys the sorrows; the security and the insecurity) but I think it means we can be steady in life. Peace of mind and heart are an offered assurance that our lives are not our own and that's something of a relief (because we know our need--we live with ourselves day in and day out and so are pretty aware of where we fumble, falter, and fail). In God's restoration story we find significance beyond what we could offer or cultivate ourselves and that provides us with deep rest: peace. We don't have to figure it all out. We can't. Life isn't an equation that we have to do our best to figure out or answer. There's a structured order to our existence (and in our learning and understanding who we are) that provides us with peace of mind and heart...
It's taking me awhile to get my heart and mind around this. Still learning. It'll probably take a lifetime ;)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Snippets from "The Rock," TS Eliot

"The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,
The Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.
O perpetual revolution of configured stars,
O perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,
O world of spring and autumn, birth and dying!
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust."
I remember where I was when I first heard these words and was churned--sitting in a Hillsdale auditorium orientation week listening to Dr. Sundahl. I miss that man.

Resolved: I need to spend more time reading good poetry.
In other news, my parents now own a house in Flagstaff. Crazy, right? Dad took a load up yesterday when he signed the papers. Who would we be if he didn't have a whopping trailer load and a canoe on top? Not the Childs, that's for sure. There's only one way to move...and travel, for that matter...ha, and this is how it (always) looks:

I can't believe they're actually leaving Tucson. Sad.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


tonight i discovered two blog updates by two friends who RARELY update ;) it was nice. thank you, Hallie and Phil, for typing out some thoughts...

Monday, February 14, 2011

my new little friend

I've just started sponsoring a girl from the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). She's absolutely beautiful. Her name is Divine Kimbembi and she's almost ten years old. She lives with her mom, one brother, and two sisters. I know nothing of the details of her life or her community. I don't know where her dad is. I don't know what her world is like. But I'm excited...excited to write letters...excited to pray...excited to build a new friendship with this little life so far away and so "different" (maybe) but also so alike. we already have a lot in common--dreams and desires, hopes and fears, longing, dignity, love and worth...

Isn't she beautiful? Pray for her with me, if you think of it. 1.1 of the Congolese have HIV/AIDS. It's a country torn by war, rape, and ravaged by disease and poverty. But its a country full of dignified human beings just like any other--looking for hope, love, wholeness and meaning in a world that feels broken and often so "out of control." We over here might know nothing of her realities "over there," but we learn and we learn how to pray. Because we know who keeps the world together ["When the earth quakes and it's people live in turmoil, I am the one who keeps it's foundations firm." Psalm 75:3]. Compassion is learned because it's a part of being in his image and growing into his image--an image that sometimes feels too big for us; too hard to fit into. But he teaches us to fit into his image. He melts and molds, pulls and stretches. We are, at once, already made in his image but we are, too, being conformed more and more. This is a remarkable mystery...the hard delight of living to follow him.

Peter Mulvey

I saw him for the 5th time last night. When I realized it was concert #5 I thought, "is this ridiculous?" Then he started playing Shirt and the question fell away as I remembered, again, why I appreciate him so much. His songs are such true-to-life stories that touch on rich themes of life in simple and undramatic ways--the routine, the mundane, the "way life is" day-to-day...and all communicated with such musical genius. There's always a song or two that catches in my chest; gets me down deep. Again, it was Trempealeau (which, unfortunately, hasn't found it's way onto an album nor are the lyrics posted anywhere online...), Knuckleball Suite, Mailman, and Shirt. There are others that are worth noting but I'll resist :) It was a great show, at a great venue (Evanston SPACE), with great company (Monica and Rebecca, my friend from pottery).

Sarah has come and gone. It was lovely having her here. It was hard to see her leave. I guess I sort of surprised myself by crying on the way home from the airport. We'll see each other again, we always do. But there's something sometimes hard about growing up and acknowledging that goodbyes sometimes mean a long time till hello, and so much is up in the air uncertain about all of our lives that we have no idea where we'll be or how we'll get "there" and how that will influence the ease of the next reunion, etc. I guess I thought about how we can't take friendships for granted--especially time spent with good friends.

Speaking of good friends. I'm leaving for Tucson on Friday and am trying not to think about it, lest the week go by slower. I'm ridiculously see friends, to see family, to see Tucson, to see sunshine...aaaah. Southwest, here i come!! Get me out of this giant snow-puddle for awhile. whew.

On Saturday we went to a lecture at our church on what the creation narratives teach about what it means to be human. So good. Sometime I'll try to write something about it. I can't yet, too much of it I'm still in the thick of as far as learning/understanding goes. I mean, I'll always be in the thick of it I suppose, but right now its still all too fresh to communicate with much clarity. So stay posted!

In other news, it's getting into the 40's this week. Yesterday was oh so "springy." Now the snow will melt. Now we will live in snow puddles for the next month, unless of course the temp drops again, which is very likely. But I'd like to think that it's almost March and the worst is over...? Please! I'm ready for some sun and some warmer days and...some color back in this skin. yep. so white.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Thought for Your Sunday

“The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” –Irenaeus, 2nd cent A.D.

(by the by, this is my 1,002 post on this blog. whaaa? crazy...)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Church's Great Malfunctions

I really appreciated reading this article today. Volf does a great job of articulating some of the felt mystery/challenge but no doubt deep beauty of following/knowing God.

The Church's Great Malfunctions | Miroslav Volf | The Christian Vision Project

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

i live in a busy city

"Hurry is the death of prayer." -Samuel Chadwick

Monday, February 07, 2011

fat snowflakes

Putting thoughts down while the laundry dries is as good a time as any. Writing with a pencil on paper while watching fat snowflakes fall lazy out of the sky is a nice change from punching thoughts out on a keyboard (even though I've done just that by the time you read this, so you could share in these thoughts with me...). I like quiet afternoons at work, in between laundry and clean-up and the kids :)

Lately, the thought of blogging has felt daunting. There's too much to try to put down, get out, share with you...but then I'm eventually always unable to keep it in. Eventually I have to write.

I've been caught--frequently--in the moment of "now but not yet," the "on earth as it is in heaven" utterance that lingers on my lips when eternity unexpectedly breaks into moments down here. I guess it couldn't happen any other way. He interrupts us, doesn't He? He has to...otherwise we'd be forever tied to our ongoing routines, our patterns of thought and behavior, our entangling questions, pursuits, and ponderings.

For the first time I watched the Superbowl. Our family is one of recreational sports, not so much organized (/professional) sports. Put us in canoes on a lone river over the stadium--we're more comfortable there. This isn't for good or bad, it just is. So it was fun, for a change, to be around people who also appreciate the thrill and excitement of "the game." But...enthusiasm for the game and team pride aside (elements I definitely appreciate)...there was something about it all that I couldn't quite stomach.

We were watching the news coverage in Cairo--talk of the political, economic, and religious unrest, with all the video coverage included--when the newscaster said, "...and the eyes of the world are also on Dallas Texas, where preparations are being made for Sunday's big game..." and just like that the streets of Cairo became the streets of Dallas and I was dazed and confused and a little unsettled. Did those two stories really just fall back to back (not that surprising, i guess, it happens all the time)? But did he really just make the transition like that? Yeah, he did. And then I learned all about how we cater to our appetite for entertainment: a trophy that costs $25,000; extreme cases of people spending $4,000 on tickets to the game; consideration of player salaries; and a discussion of how much it will cost to melt, clean, and clear the snow/ice from the stadium. There are some things I will never understand (in this instance, how much money we can invest in a sport)...because sometimes I still see the eyes of hunger, need, and loneliness looking at me from the face of a small child in charge of himself...and 4 others...because the world has taken everything else...and sometimes I really struggle with the fact that I come from a country that sometimes so carelessly banners comfort, success, pleasure, and possessions (because i feel it in myself, too, and it unsettles me. sometimes i don't fight the tendencies in me first...)

Hear me: I'm not saying that entertainment is wrong. I'm not saying pleasure is wrong. I'm not saying that spending time, money, and energy on "fun things" is wrong. It can be, obviously, but it doesn't have to be. So don't think I'm sending out a general condemnation of all things pleasurable, enjoyable, entertaining, etc. That would be ridiculous. It's just that, sometimes there seems to be an imbalance, doesn't there?...and we aren't always willing to notice it responsibly. This weekend I noticed it--in myself, in all of us, in our country, and in the world...

So here I am, delighting in these fat snowflakes, thinking about the Egyptian people...and I keep picturing that $25,000 trophy...and I guess my heart hurts a little. Because I don't understand. I don't really know what to do. I pray. Sometimes I can't pray. And I realize that earth is behind heaven but we were taught to ask, " it is in heaven" and so I do...with what feels like such weak faith but with certain hope because even in this small short life I've lived I've seen how He's with us--getting messy right alongside; feeling the pain and acknowledging the imbalance.

Redemption is tied up with patience, I think (and patience with faith). Persistent patience. The journey. The process. Patience for healing, wholeness, peace, right order, reconciliation, shalom. We are people becoming. He makes all things new (but he doesn't always tell us how long it will take). I find myself living this with something of a dedicated curiosity. My heart, mind, and soul hold on but that doesn't mean I don't have questions or wonder.

Well, the fat snowflakes are falling out of an even darker sky, which means it's later--time to take the clothes out of the dryer and get the kids from school.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
And now, the newsy stuff :)
I had a lovely weekend. I absolutely reveled in the wonder of the Wisconsin winter woods. They were beautiful--long, dark shadows of the bare trees breaking up the snow all bright with sun! Gah, I wanted a pair of snowshoes so bad. But I got to go cross country skiing for the first time with Jake's mom. It was fun...and funny...and just really great. haha. I could definitely get used to winter with the sports included. yep.
Watching the Packers win with Wisconsin natives was also really fun...and funny...i thoroughly enjoyed it. I even got some of the game explained to me. Woo!! Learn something new every time :)

This morning Mariah and I had coffee with our pastor. It was great. So great. Encouraging, insightful, invigorating...yes, one of those times that makes you so grateful for good conversations and getting to know new people. We learn so much with and from one another, you know? It reminds me of something someone told me when I was in Swaziland: "everyone i ever meet has something to teach me." I've been learning fresh lately how blessed we are to live life with others. None of this solo-action crap. We keep setting ourselves up to be our most important project but we eventually tire, weary, and fall apart. Faith, for one thing, requires community. We believe for one another and with one another as we believe for goes the journey.

As you can tell, lot's of conversations and interactions over the past several days have made me think a lot...and God's been putting some pieces together in my heart and mind...pieces of questions, doubts, ideas, fears, etc...I'm grateful. A friend has said many times recently, "we count on His presence more than we know..." to which I say "yes, yes we do!"

Goodnight, everyone. I hope you are pushing through the grey and dark of winter. Spring will come. I remind myself of that often on these consecutively grey days :)

Thursday, February 03, 2011

taking it all in

Do you ever have days that, at every moment, demand recording? So much is heard, seen, and experienced that you wish you had a pencil in your mind to mark it all down word-for-word..? I think this happens more often with a five-year-old around. Today was one such day for me--a fantastic day.

[sitting in the living room knitting while C watches Go Diego, Go]
C: "Andrea, could you please go into the other room, I would like my privacy."
Me: [giving him the look] "C, that's ridiculous. You're watching TV and I'm not making any noise, what do you need privacy for?"
C: "I just like it sometimes. And S is fine reading by herself. She gets to read by herself all the time."

[waiting outside while S finishes dance. C is eating his pretzels but one falls on the floor--carpet--and i pick it up and eat it]
C: "That's good, Andrea. When something falls on the ground you can pick it right up and eat it because your mouth washes it off."
[Not sure that was the lesson I was going for...]

[Also while waiting for S...always priceless conversations...]
C: "I've always known a lot about Ancient Rome and the Army. About six years."
Me: "Huh. So, basically you've known about them since before you were born?"
C: "Yep. I remember when I was in my mom's stomach and she ate an apple and it came floating, floating down to me whole and then I ate it."
Me: "But you hate apples. So...?"
C: "I mean, it was a banana."
Me: "Oooh."
C: "An apple and a Banana. That's my memory from inside my mom's stomach. Do you have any memories of being in your mom's stomach?"
Me: "Definitely not."
C: *laughs* "Oh."

[At McDonald's for lunch, S spills sauce on her coat and snowpants...]
S: "Ooh no! Well, I'll just have to tell mom to throw this right in the wash."
C: "It's all over your snow pants, too!"
--I get napkins and help her clean up--
C: "Well, you know what I always say. If you start a fight, you have to do it!"
Me: ????!!!!?

man...this little guy is funny. i've really been enjoying my job.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

the homily

here's the homily recap from church on sunday. it's a short summary and well worth the read: check it out!

waking up to this

and it's getting worse as i type. 6-8 more inches expected. oh man, it's so beautiful. granted, we have no idea what the next few days will look like in the city. there are those who border on hysteria (they are the extreme) and those who are hardly bothered. i'm among the hardly bothered (i mean, our power and heat are on and we're fine...). i just think it's ridiculously beautiful and can't wait to go out back later to play in the snow with my roommates (all three got a snow day. WOO!).

What do you do when you're snowed in (respectively)??!! read books? knit? hang out with cool friends? DRINK HOT CHOCOLATE?? go outside and play in it?? sit in and listen to the excited children outside, discovering it all?? yeah, sounds good to me...