Monday, July 28, 2014

the risk of roots

Tears welled up behind my shades the day those first seeds were planted. He had built me beautiful raised garden beds three boards high complete with hoop houses to hang shades from in the summer and bird netting stretched tight to keep our chickens from foraging. We shoveled burlap sacks full of rich compost into the beds and carefully placed those first heirloom seeds just under the surface, and as I watered the fresh soil, all dark and promising, we toasted chilled Coronas and sat back against the hen house to admire our work.

And I cried.

I was not crying because of my husband's sweet labor of love for me. I was not crying because of the symbolism of new life and growth or because of romantic dreams of farm-to-table organics cultivated by the earth under my very own fingernails. I was not crying because of the dreamy life lessons my children would absorb as they tilled and weeded and harvested alongside me. No. These were not misty tears of joy. These tears were of death, mourning a piece of my soul that died that day. Salty drops of surrender stung like waving a white flag. In a matter of weeks those tiny seeds would burst with life and begin to push their fragile little roots down, down, down grabbing hold and declaring their place and it would take everything in me not to go rip them out in hopes of sabotaging their plans to stay. 

I didn't want to stay.

Wanderers at heart, it was never our plan to stay in the desert this long. By far the most difficult season of our lives just kept going and going and going and circumstance after circumstance just kept knocking us down. Each time we stumbled back to our feet we were met with yet another blow, and yet year after year, it's been almost ten, we kept dreaming about our next adventure, putting ourselves out there for more opportunities than we could count only to hear crickets... deafening silence. Although this long season has been wrought with frustration and disappointment it has also been so rich in the scaffolding of so many friends, deep relationships and true community. I will never forget the Easter church service on the lawn a few years ago when our pastor spoke about loving our city. 

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, 
says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 
Marry and have sons and daughters; 
find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, 
so that they too may have sons and daughters. 
Increase in number there; do not decrease.  
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city 
to which I have carried you into exile. 
Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."
Jer29 

My heart sank that day even though I already loved our city. I just knew I was the exile and the Lord was inviting me to settle in. Eventually building the garden beds was just as much about cultivating obedience as it was about fresh vegetables, and from that obedience grew such relational prosperity my eyes fill salty just thinking about leaving. Even so, despite those treasured graces, our overwhelming desire to risk the change required to live in a place where our geographical, spiritual and  professional wildfires collide, where we can press into living fully alive in who we've been created to be, remains undeniable.  Like shoots pushing up through well-watered soil, all things according to their season. 

Planting those seeds that day felt like giving up, a gritty defeat. With every seed came the promise of roots and it all just felt like staying and staying felt like dying. But sometimes the staying is the true risk. For the wandering heart who thrives within change and is always exploring there can be no greater challenge than in the not going. Not pushing. Not ripping seeds from the ground before their time. The waiting. Risk lies in the being present, peeking around each corner and under every rock for the really good stuff and fully giving ourselves to the season at hand knowing that seasons always change. There is risk in the investing, where we do not simply survive as passive observers but instead actively participate in creating a life every single day, getting all tangled up with the ones nearest us and being all here. Risk is allowing growth to surprise you and even shape your definition of beautiful in the most hostile of climates.  

Seasons always change. It is one of few glorious guarantees we're given and I've been clinging to it like a lifeline as the Lord has been bringing release and freedom to the staying. The winds of change we began sensing last fall continue to gain momentum. Loose ties are fashioning tidy bows one by one. The lights are green and the arrows are all pointing forward. It's almost time. Almost. We are on the verge of bursting knowing every day is an act of obedience as we press in to the last stretch of this season allowing it it's own fullness. 

So as temperatures here in the desert are scorching, my garden lays bare but for grasses and the occasional weed. The nets have been off, the shades have been folded up and put away in the shed and the girls till and fertilize the soil while they hunt for bugs. I didn't even bother to plant for summer. The beds needed a rest. I needed a rest, to not expect anything to grow, to not need to tend or prune or water. Just to rest. And as I look out the windows here in my office I am tempted to think the garden looks abandoned and shabby, even a little wild maybe. I can relate. But I kinda like knowing all that wild, abandoned, shabby, fertilized soil that looks parched and cracked right now is going to yield fierce beauty and life-giving fruit in this next season to come. 

Friday, July 04, 2014

family photo Flipagram

Can't resist sharing a few of our favorites from our recent family session!


All photography by Sadie Such Photography & Films

Saturday, June 28, 2014

FULLY ALIVE :: why we are no longer homeschooling


You would think we had just surprised them with a trip to Disneyworld. You know those commercials where the kids are shell shocked and screaming dizzy with insanely high pitched squeals? Yeah it was like that. There was fist pumping, eyes popping, hands in the air like they just don't care and lots and lots of jazz hands. Funny thing is, we didn't surprise them with a trip to Disneyworld. Not even Disneyland. Oh no. We sat around the dinner table, built up a fair amount of suspense and announced that we will not be continuing homeschooling and both kids are enrolled in the charter school we were a part of a few years ago. Tissues anyone? Anyone? No? Ok then, moving right along.

Good thing my identity was never wrapped up in being their school teacher or this reaction would've been a serious blow to my frayed-around-the-edges apron strings, the ones I keep tying and untying, double knotting and continually loosening. Nope, I couldn't help but laugh as Carsyn teetered back and forth between cheering the news and moments of hesitation caught in sideways glances in my direction hoping their jubilee wasn't hurting my feelings. Oh seriously, children, no. Go on with your crazy happy-about-school selves! My sweet, sensitive little soul, she kept giving me the homeschool version of the it's-not-you-it's-me talk, and her brother, well he just partied like it was 1999. Eric and I kept exchanging smirks and winks as their wild excitement confirmed a decision eight-or-so months in the making, a decision based upon what is best for our whole family, and gave me the last little bit of permission I needed to - {gasp!} dare I say it - be really excited too!

I am tempted to first tell you all of the reasons why not continuing to homeschool is what is best for our kids in hopes I can head you off at the pass and prevent you from thinking I'm selfish. But really, I'll sleep just fine at night if you do, so since that's not where the story started and since the children are not the only factor I may as well begin at the beginning.

Late last fall I found myself face to face with Galatians 6:4-5

Make a careful exploration
of who you are
and the work you have been given
and then sink yourself into that.

and I've been swirling those words around under my nose like expensive brandy in a fancy snifter ever since, not quite sure if I could handle even a sip of the strong stuff. See, the thing is, I know whose I am and I know the work that I have been given, the art waiting to be made. I haven't always accepted the word art, but I have learned a bigger definition of the concept that expands with a capacity to include more than just the painters, musicians, potters and poets - the everyone-elses. I have been challenged to see my love for building streams of words as art alongside those gifts as well as alongside the builders of bridges, builders of cures for diseases and builders of algorithms. Everything we make is born of creative beauty with rhythm and cadence shouting the glory of God. The art-work, the making of something so rooted in createdness always reflecting the image of God and his creative nature, is not at all a surprise to me. I've always known it was there. The work feels like the most accurate version of myself, even when it's hard and awkward and ugly, and the process cultivates such presence I cannot help but be drawn back in again and again. And yet I fill my days with so many other good things, things of value and merit and worthy of the approval of others, but leave no space for sinking into anything. I must allow myself to sink. I do not believe the full life is found by treading water. I'm more of a sink or float kinda girl and I've been floating for awhile now, arms stretched out like a starfish and lungs full of breath to keep me buoyant. I can swim in the deepest waters when I know how to float, and now it's time to get beneath the surface, time to anchor deep into and what is being put before me by the one who is my anchor. 
Because my anchor holds.

In my tattered, underlined and dog-eared copy of My Utmost for His Highest Oswald Chambers writes, "The good is always the enemy of the best" because it is the good things that so easily preoccupy us, keeping us just busy enough and just satisfied enough to not chase headlong after what is best. I know the art-work I've been given to do. It sits in the corner staring at me every day, waiting. Every now and then I hear it ahem at me, waiting for me to take it seriously, to take myself seriously. And so I apologize to my art-work and explain on about how I have all these good things I'm doing and how I really do want to give the work the attention it needs but just cannot right now. And then, ironically, when I do try to focus on the art, I find myself apologizing to all my "good things" with the same hollow lament of how I really do want to give them the attention they need but just cannot right now. So, at the end of the day, trying to do it all leaves me doing not much of anything very well rendering even those really good things mediocre at best. Hashtag not winning.

The question came in a still, small voice not long after my faceplant into Galatians 6 whispering What have I put before you and what have you put before yourself?  I knew immediately. I didn't even have to look at my trusty Top 5 Things chalkboard list screwed to the side of our bedroom armoire to know which things on the list were His and which were mine. Here's the thing, its not that we cant make our own goals or have our own dreams. I am a firm believer in both as we surrender our lives AND exercise our free will simultaneously. Our well-intentioned endeavors can be filled with purpose and intent and used to love others and every once in awhile there is a pulse given us that we simply cannot ignore. A thing we must do with our days that seems to come from outside of ourselves. I give added weight to those ideas on the chalkboard that seem impossible and may never yield a measurable result but must be looked in the eyes nonetheless.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
 but the Lord establishes their steps. 
Proverbs 16:9

The question was posed to show me how getting about the art-work God is inviting me into is not a matter of Should I do this or should I do that? It is not Will I be successful doing this or successful doing that? Responding to an invitation from the Creator of the Universe to sink into my createdness is simply about making room. Thats the tough part. Making room. Margin. Extra space. Not just on my calendar but in my mind and in my soul because some days it feels more like art and some days it feels more like work and we have to show up for both. In everything, right? Parenting, marriage-making, relationship-building we have to show up and make choices that create space for holy things to grow. So I felt like I was in one of those old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books I loved as a kid. The ones where you read along in the story of the kid who is down deep in the submarine and if you turn to page 12 he takes the controls from the captain, but if you turn to page 35 he exits through the hatch and swims with a whale. It was always edge-of-your-seat suspense! {Note to self: Check those books out from the library and maybe Garrett wont want to stab his eyes out during reading time.} Little did I know as a child, how often I would arrive at those choices throughout adulthood, and here I am again.

Homeschooling was never a calling for me. It was always pure inspiration. I had been inspired by friend after friend who shared my same philosophy of education and I loved what I was seeing in their childrens journey. I also had my own thoughts on specific things as I watched my moms 34-year teaching career paired with my own degree in elementary education. Carsyn had been a part of an amazing school with amazing teachers and leadership which made the leap into homeschooling so hard to do, but I knew if we were going to go for it and make the leap there was no time like the present and I refused to always wonder what if

Right?

Im done with what ifs. Ive had enough of those hanging around from my 20s. You couldnt pay me to be in my 20s again. My 30s are where its at! Recklessness has a whole different context up in here and it has nothing to do with rebellion and independence, but everything to do with a secure identity and dependence on Christ. In fact, recklessness has actually become my goal! {Hang on a sec while I go write it on my Top 5.}

If you debate for a second when God has spoken, it is all up.
Never begin to say Well I wonder if He did speak?
Be reckless immediately, fling it all out on Him.
You do not know when His voice will come,
but whenever the realization of God comes in the faintest way imaginable, recklessly abandon.
It is only by abandon that you recognize Him.
You will only realize His voice more clearly by recklessness. Oz, Utmost

When my identity is firmly rooted in His word and who He says I am his child, safe, secure, atoned for, free, adopted, an heir to the inheritance, His beloved, a warrior - I can afford to LOVE recklessly, FORGIVE recklessly, DREAM recklessly, RISK recklessly. After all, whats the worst that can happen? Disappointment? A change of course? But whats the best that can happen? Living FULLY ALIVE? We will bet on that one every single time and well take our kids along for the ride to show them first hand what it looks like to chase after Jesus without fear of failure.

The words FULLY ALIVE have been sanding my soul in waves. With the rise and fall of every salty tide of circumstance they scratch away old and false postures of suffering servanthood and buff bright white visions of createdness that glow oh so bright against the shoreline. I mean, we all know it when we see it and were drawn to it, those people doing that thing they were made to do. The vocalist who gives you chills during your favorite Broadway show and leaves you shaking your head in awe. The painter whose collection you just cant walk away from, it stirs something within. The writer who pens words that change the way you see the world and makes you want to be a part of the movement. The engineer who seemingly defies the laws of physics to hang bridges from the heavens connecting this group of people to that group of people and make a way across the wild. They leave us jaw-dropped. When I witness someones giftedness I often wonder what it must be like to walk around this planet in plain clothes being able to do that amazing thing. And what if they didnt? What if they hid that specialness away or never gave it the space it needed to thrive? What a shame it would be for the rest of us. What a shame it would be for them to not live FULLY ALIVE. When they do, when they belt out their beauty for all of us to see, they give us permission, as we give each other permission, to do the thing, our own thing in our own lives.

There is a saying that rolls around some homeschooling circles: you are the best teacher for your child. I sat in my first homeschooling conference two years ago and so appreciated the nature of the mantra as it was intended to infuse confidence in every newbie parent sitting there wondering if they had what it takes to educate their children. Every parent knows their child best, knows their learning style, their strengths and weaknesses, their temperament, what motivates them, etc. Yes. Absolutely. Thumbs up. I sat a little bit taller in that session feeling pumped to start my first year and ready to get started. But its not always true is it? If I want my kids to learn Mandarin Chinese Im not going to be the best teacher for them. Why not? Well I dont speak Mandarin, so theres that. If I want them to be proficient on the piano, well I dont play the piano so I wont be teaching them piano. Someone else is going to have to teach those lessons. And yet, at the same time, I still believe the mantra is true. I am the best teacher for my kids! And you, you are the best teacher for yours! That fact just doesnt necessarily always equate to home education because there are so many lessons we teach our children outside of traditional academics.

I am the best teacher for my tiny revolutionaries so what are the lessons that are only mine to teach? Any good teacher can teach them math, reading, writing, science, history, etc. Those lessons dont have to come from me. But Ive come to believe so passionately that the lesson that is mine and only mine to teach, the lesson that no amazing school teacher can teach them, the lesson I cannot get wrong, is what it looks like and sounds like and feels like and lives like for their mama to be FULLY ALIVE in who God has created her to be wielding every ounce of her being for the work set before her toward the kingdom of heaven pulling it down ribbon of light by ribbon of light to taste its goodness here on this earth. If I teach them nothing else let me teach them this. Let me inspire them to trust God and, as my dear friend Sarah says, "to take up their own space" in their one wild life. Their daddy sure is teaching them this. He is showing them what it looks like to be all-in chasing hard after Christ risking everything. Why arent I? 

There have been a few different occasions during this past school year where Carsyn has stopped me...
Mom, you okay?

Huh? What? Of course I am! Why do you ask?

Oh I don't know. You just seem sad.
She spoke to me with an older voice beyond her years filled with quiet concern and insecurity. I stopped and looked her over, my head tilted in confusion, brow furrowed. How long had she been watching me? That crazy girl. I couldn't figure out what she was talking about. It was a normal day, a good day even, everything was fine, school was smooth, I was folding some laundry in between subjects, the kids had good attitudes and we were rollin'! So what was she talking about? I shrugged it off and didn't give it another thought. Until the next time. And the next time. She was seeing me before I could see myself.


Do I think Im doing them a favor by saving the lesson that is only mine to teach for when theyre older? How can I tell them, especially my girl, that God has an amazing plan for her life that utilizes all the uniqueness and affinities packed into her tiny little heart, mind and strength and then not live every day spending my own hearts desires for His glory? I cannot. How can I tell my son that God has so obviously made him to be a builder and then not build my own masterpieces for him to bear witness to? So I wont. When I hear the voice of God I will stop and follow.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. 
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 
― Howard Thurman

Kinda feels like a really long game of Marco Polo, eyes closed in faith and changing course every time we hear His voice with hands outstretched feeling our way along. Sometimes frustrated that Hes not where we thought He was. Following still. We know the sound of our shepherds voice and we will always follow.

Wandering, but not lost. 

I know the art-work set before me. Im choosing to make space and to live FULLY ALIVE. We are changing course and moving forward into the next step which does not include homeschooling our kids AND it truly is the right decision for them as students.

Carsyn will succeed in any educational environment. She loved traditional school and she has done well in homeschooling. She has conquered fears and explored her own natural interests and strengths and she has been fine. But I dont want her to be fine. I want her to be light-in-her-eyes thriving! I havent seen that in a little while and I can see she needs more. More challenge. More diversity. More independence. More of someone other than her mama. And I'm really okay with that. Garrett, on the other hand, has not been fine. No matter the subject, he goes stir crazy and fights me with weeping and gnashing of teeth. What we originally thought was just a defiance and disciplinary issue we came to understand was simply him not communicating what he needs. On Wednesdays he was a different kid. Enrichment program days were his absolute favorite because he thrives with all the bells and whistles that come with the classroom environment, the stimulation, the group-work, the buzz - all of it makes him come alive. He needs more. And I'm really okay with that. 

That's right friends. Our adventure in home education has come to a close and, from the sounds of it, we are all feeling pretty excited about it! We have made huge strides in these past two years, weve taken advantage of the freedom afforded by home education and we have had a lot fun along the way. But this is what we do. We constantly evaluate and reevaluate and make changes according to the needs of our family. That's what we all do, right? Because we all love our babes. Whether we homeschool or send them to school, we are all just doing our best to make the right decisions for our families and that is always something worth celebrating. Together. We can celebrate with others who make different decisions, or even make decisions differently, than we do when we recognize that the courage to make any decision at all comes from paying attention, living consciously and taking risks. Sometimes that kind of bravery looks like making a change or going against the popular opinion surrounding you and sometimes it looks like staying your course.  Wherever you find yourself in the conversation, I hope you feel the freedom to chart the best course for you and your crew. 

  

We are fire
Burning brightly
You and I
We light the sky 
when we ignite
When we come alive
When we come alive

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

anaerobic faith

Still here. Still waiting. Still believing. But it's been three months, friends. Three months of wondering where God is taking us. What He has for us. How the crazy pieces fit together. We are still completely convinced that He is asking us to wait on Him. To trust that He is making a way for us. It is so tempting to just go bulldoze through the hiring processes Eric is in the middle of right now. Make things happen! Get some answers! Push it through! But then again...

"It is much easier to do something that to trust in God; 
we mistake panic for inspiration. 
That is why there are so few fellow workers with God 
and so many workers for Him."
-Oz, Utmost

There is weariness in the waiting. Whatever it is we are waiting for. But in the weariness lies the strength. Does that sound familiar? Strength in weakness. Like a good run, we start out fresh. {Disclaimer: I'm not a runner anymore, but I've been dreaming about it lately so maybe that's where my metaphor is coming from. Join me.} You know the deal. Ponytail high and tight, cute workout clothes, maybe some neon running shoes fit for your particular pronation. We start out with a little warm up jog. Ya know, just to get in our groove. Feelin' good. Got our faves on the playlist. We're rollin'. Our form is good. Our breathing is good. We're chattin' with our running partner about all the latest. Feelin' good in the neighborhood. 

And then after we've been running for a little while our heart rate finally takes it up a notch and whoooo-whoooo no more chit-chat. We've gone anaerobic. Suddenly we can't finish a sentence without taking a breath and we just have to shut up and run.   In-2-3-4, out-2-3-4, in-2-3-4, out-2-3-4. Focus. Relax the shoulders. Release the grip. Don't stop. Our ponytail is sagging by now and sweat is drippin'. The cute new tank top has started to chafe our armpits and who gives a rip what color our shoes are because we have a stabbing cramp in our side that supposedly will go away if we keep breathing! In-2-3-4, out-2-3-4, in-2-3-4, out-2-3-4. Focus on the goal. Our landmark. That spot we must reach before we're done. Keep going. 

My faith has gone anaerobic. I'm in the zone where my pulse is pounding in my ears and all I can do is breathe. In-2-3-4, out-2-3-4. We've been running a bit longer than expected (isn't that always how it feels?) and although our landmark is in sight, it seems like it keeps moving, evolving, staying just ahead, coaxing us along. Everything is good, we are on course toward exciting things. And yet we wait. 

The waiting is not a standing still kind of waiting. It's a heart-pounding, forward-moving, in-pursuit kind of waiting that requires every bit of us because this is where the strengthening happens. This anaerobic zone is where our spirit grows into a fuller, more whole, capacity to trust. Like the runner's heart, we must actually pursue a state of weakness and fatigue in order to condition ourselves for greater endurance. 

"...the waiting depends not on God's providence, 
but on our fitness." 
-Oz, Utmost


I want a greater capacity. For breath, for life, for trust, for hope, for focus, for resolve, for love, for grace, for bravery.  So I'm going to keep waiting. In-2-3-4, out-2-3-4...

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

rest






Is it just me or is rest just difficult? 

I opened up my son's closet the other day to cram Eric's sport coat into what has become our second closet for things we rarely wear but can't purge (old houses = tiny closets) and saw Garrett's old crib bumper. I typically hold pretty tightly to my "if you haven't used it in the last six months it's going on Craigslist" rule. So much so that when Carsyn was little she showed up at my bedside one night sobbing after a bad dream. When I finally calmed her down enough to tell me what her dream was about she stammered, "I dreamed that I didn't play with my dinosaurs enough and you sold them all on Craigslist!" For real. 

I laid eyes on that sweet bumper, all Pottery Barn white and navy nautical and remembering it against the espresso wood in G's nursery. I got all nostalgic with memories of my little preemie boy and his early days and thoughts of how that bumper is among the many things we've held onto during our adoption journey just in case there would be another little one. But all that lasted a split second and I was like oh that has got to go.

Because I need something to work on! I need to plan, research, prepare, purge, organize, SOMETHING TO MAKE THE WAITING EASIER! I'm like a new mama nesting with no nest! And so I can't. I'm a visionary whose been blindfolded! And so I may as well just sit down and rest. 

REST. 

It's the word that rings over and over in my mind these waiting days. 

REST.

We spend our lives scratching and clawing for its elusive benefit as we aim for the next weekend, the next break, the next vacation, yet when REST happens to us instead of by us we reject its beauty and refuse its blessing. 

I don't want to miss this. 

And so even in the busyness that comes with hiring processes and wrapping up a year of homeschooling and all of the other bits that make a life we are practicing REST. It requires practice for us. We read more than blogs and sports highlights. We let the kids stay up to watch E.T. for the first time. We watch first-round NBA playoff games. We make a mini-date out of going to the feed store and grabbing lunch. We paddle. We swim. We stare at maps. We sit on the couch and talk, staying long enough to arrive at different conclusions than when we first began. We lounge on the bed on a Sunday afternoon long enough for random thieves to pull up to our house and steal two of our front patio chairs before our crazy awesome neighbor hollers PUT THAT SHIT DOWN OR I'LL SHOOT YA! We love him. 

So I'm not Craigslisting that bumper or anything else right now. I will not busy myself just for the sake of distraction. I am practicing the stretch that comes from receiving. The recovering of one's strength for what's to come. 


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

anthems for wandering in tight spaces

You guys. This waiting is killing me. No, no it's not. That's not true. This waiting is expanding my capacity for peace and trust making me strong and steadfast. But it really feels like slowly dying.  I guess that is because waiting for the Breath of Life is a dying to myself. A wringing out of my own breath making room for more of Him, my buoyancy which keeps me afloat upon turbulent waters. We are going on two months since Eric lost his job and so much has happened and there are so many possibilities, but there is nothing for us to do right now but wait. I keep wanting a task. REST. Something to do, something to work on! REST. I don't want to rest! I want to know! 



We are waiting on so much more than just a job during this season. Our journey toward adoption has been part of our list of  ambiguous unknowns for a year now as it was last April that we held our killer yard sale fundraiser raising EXACTLY enough for our next big agency payment. Last spring, just days before we were set to send them everything in our adoption fund we received news that the DRC had suspended exit visas for all children due to some internal investigations of possible corruption within the country's burgeoning adoption system. We had seen this type of thing happening in other countries and were just not sure how long the suspension would last or if it would ever lift. Finally it did and we could move forward. But we couldn't. Eric and I no longer felt like we were supposed to move forward. But the door was open again! What are were we waiting for?!?! That door wasn't ours to walk through. We couldn't explain why and every time someone would ask for an update we would be left shrugging our shoulders and waiting... again with the waiting. Fast forward to last month, we received an email announcing the closing of our international agency followed just weeks later by another announcement of their declared bankruptcy - our Congo program just disappeared - and yet instead of feeling abandoned on this journey, we felt one step closer to the fruition of seeds planted long ago. 


I can hear you breathing,
I can hear you leading
More than just a feeling
More than just a feeling
I can feel you reaching
Pushing through the ceiling
'til the final healing
I'm looking for you

Orphan care and trafficking, our two deepest passions and convictions regarding justice, collided right before our eyes last April and pierced our hearts clear through in a way that began to weave the two once-seemingly separate issues tightly together. We began reading and learning and then we just sat in the wake of the wreckage. For six months we waited. In the sitting, the waiting, we started noticing that our beliefs about trafficking truly mirrored our beliefs about orphan care. We are absolute advocates for the rescue and restoration of victims of sex-trafficking and believe wholly in the healing power of Christ for the enslaved. And yet, if we do not invest in the healing of men, the predators demanding children to rape and those who sell innocence as a commodity, there will ALWAYS be a steady supply of victims. Similarly, we are absolute advocates of adopting the fatherless into families and we believe wholly in the healing power of Christ for the abandoned. And yet, if we do not invest in families on the verge of collapse, the preservation of cultures and communities and the restoration of dignity and basic human rights, there will ALWAYS be a steady stream of orphans. Well, that sounds great. Really. But what about it? What do we DO with that? What is our part to play? These two sides of our hearts no longer remained separate. Colors bled together as we just sat in the mixing and swirling all the while knowing that for all the ambiguity and all the waiting there is something taking shape. 


I’ll be waiting
Anticipating
All that I aim for
What I was made for
With every heartbeat
All of my blood bleeds
Running inside me
Looking for you
    

Slowly, little by little, next steps have been placed before us. Did I mention slowly? Yeah that. A week ago the curtain was pulled back and all of a sudden the need to go to Africa became so clear. Enough talk. It's time to go. Isn't that just how it is. Next steps show themselves precisely when they mean to. And just like that an opportunity to go to Africa with a dear friend and kindred-warrior-spirit popped up. For June! As in just over a month from now! The agenda so perfectly tailored for our shared vision!





And we find what we're made of 
Through the open door 
Is it fear you're afraid of? 
What are you waiting for? 


And at this point I'm not going. The door is open but it is not yet mine to walk through. And it's killing me. I know, I know, this too is expanding my capacity for peace and trust making me strong and steadfast, but waiting really just feels like slowly dying. 


I'm trying to find where my place is 
I'm looking for my own oasis 
So close I can taste this 
The fear that love alone erases 


And so today I'm fighting for the peace part. The trusting and the strengthening. I'm fighting for the courage to believe that circumstances are no hurdle for the One The Wind and The Waves Obey, that for all the ambiguity and all the waiting there is something taking shape and that pressing into this tight space of the waiting is an essential piece of this great wandering.

Monday, April 14, 2014

hashtag envy

{Photo Credit: @staceywoods Instagram}

This morning I cruised past this photo on IG with the hashtag      #ilovelivinghere tucked beneath the killer sunset/silhouette/sea image and was struck once again with the sheer beauty that emerges exponentially when one of us human beings is rhythmically connected to our tiny place on this earth.  It's not just the pink sky or the back lit children playing in the sand or the shimmery reflection on the water, although any one of those things is holy enough. Anyone can grab a snap of a sweet spot and toss it online for others to drool over.  That's not it though. That's not the thing that pulls at my soul. I can follow any number of feeds or peruse Pinterest for ideas meant to inspire envy but they don't. I'm after the backstory, the lens through which the image is viewed. The pounding heart moved by a crescendo of the senses in that nook of the soul where creation meets real life, 

where heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss

where the art spills to overflowing as a result of loving where you live. 



I don't envy people who have bigger bank accounts, fancier houses or more expensive cars. I don't envy people with prestigious titles or walk in closets full of designer labels. I do not envy power. Or fame. Or pedigree. But I do envy those who absolutely love where they live, wherever that may be. The farmer's wife bottle-feeding piglets before sunrise, the executive walking to the office in the big city, the artist in the dingy downtown loft, the beach bum on the island, the astronomer in the desert, the mountain biker in the pines - it is no small thing to truly love your small space on this planet. 

During our most recent visit to Flagstaff, one of our favorite little college towns just two hours north, we were walking back from a brewery along a chilly little downtown street where we grabbed dinner and beers after paddling a local lake when I saw a bumper sticker on a muddy truck that read "SEA LEVEL SUCKS: breathe thin air". I literally stopped in my tracks to make sure I read it correctly. Someone actually thinks this? Someone actually thinks sea level sucks? This person loves the mountains that much. How incredible it is to me that we are each designed with such a variety of affinities. My affection for that little town grew that day as I imagined the driver of that truck living FULLY ALIVE with the pulse of their life synchronized with the song of the wind through the pines in the place they absolutely love. That's holy stuff right there, friends. 









Latitudes and longitudes speak to our souls sparking wildfires within our createdness. Whether we visit those places or make a life in those spaces, they matter. It's why we are drawn to wander. For years now Eric and I have been practicing beauty #growwhereyouareplanted knowing with intense certainty we have been exactly where we are supposed to be. For so many reasons and with layers of purpose we have been sure. For us there is no greater priority than following the Spirit's leading in our lives because apart from Christ we can do nothing. So when our conviction began to lift toward the end of last year and we started to wonder if change was coming our tethered dreams began to regain buoyancy. Fast forward through Eric's shocking job loss a month and a half ago and here we find ourselves. Palms up. Prayers up. Ready. And still waiting. As our lives are currently swirling with in-state, out-of-state and international job applications submitted, emails and phone calls trading back and forth, the possibilities seem endless and a new adventure feels eminent. All of the pieces of our normal lives are floating up in the air waiting for a place to land and yet we rest in the knowing that this journey is laden with direction and every single quiet breath now is pure gift in preparation for what lies ahead. But it's hard to be patient. So hard. Like kids waiting to open a long-awaited gift, we are crazy with anticipation for the next plans God has for us! 

There is no adventure quite like trusting God with your whole self. Even the parts that you think are insignificant or frivolous, like the things your heart loves, the things that make you feel FULLY ALIVE. Every bit matters. Every bit is on purpose. Wherever it takes you or wherever it keeps you may you always seek those spaces where heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss just for you.