About Me

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Malindi, Kenya
This blog used to be about me and my new husband starting our life together in Brookhaven, Georgia. Now, 8 years, 3 children, and 1 trans-continental move later, I'm writing for me; to document the emotional and spiritual journey I am on so that I don't forget the paths I have traveled in my heart and mind.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


For the last 6 months or so I've really been trying to focus on this idea of "RECEIVE." I somehow came to the understanding that God wants us not only to find joy in giving to others but to also find joy in receiving from Him, which I am not very good at. I am a striver. I strive towards goals and dreams and wishes and obligations until I'm exhausted and not much fun to be around or very good to the people I love and who need me the most. I really want to stop striving, but I find it so hard to balance meeting goals (which I am extremely hard wired for) with "rejoicing in the Lord," which requires me to just say thanks and have fun with the presents God gives me. I never seem to have time to just have fun. Like, "God, thanks for giving me this awesome family, I'm just going to have fun hanging out with them and not try to pick up the house or figure out what it is I can do that will make me feel like I'm doing something really awesome with my life." I also have some obsessive tendencies that keep me from "RECEIVING." Just ask my husband what they are and he can tell you. I can't stand to lose things, like, in an unhealthy, obsessive way. I find myself asking my two-year-old where her little teddy bear toy is and I realize, "if she doesn't care about it, why do I?" I obsess about clutter. I think Chris's heart starts beating faster every time I open a drawer because he is anticipating the inevitable question, "What is this for, and do we need it or can I get rid of it?" My mind goes to whatever thing I have lost last or whatever closet needs to be cleaned out or whatever stain on my girls' clothes I need to get out, and I am not present with my kids. WHO CARES ABOUT ALL THAT STUFF ANYWAY?! I know that in my heart but my mind goes back to those things. And I know these are really strange things to obsess about, but it's just me. If I don't have any of those things to obsess about then I revert back to my life. Why don't I have a career? I am fully qualified to. What would I do if something happened to Chris? How would I support my family? What will I do with myself when my kids don't need me as much as they do now? I just don't know how to define myself or measure myself, and this bothers me. But neither defining myself or measuring myself are required for the act of receiving. I just have to open my hands. When someone offers to help me, I am now trying to say, "okay, sure, thanks!" instead of my mind thinking "accepting this person's help is undermining my ability to do (whatever thing we are talking about) and my ability to do (whatever thing we are talking about) might be a good way to define myself so I had better hang onto it and do it myself, hoping to get a little bit of praise and make myself feel better for a while." I think that, before now, receiving help or gifts had subconsciously made me feel weak or less than because I needed or appreciated whatever I was receiving. But I now see that only through receiving the good gifts God offers can I become a stronger, better person. And not only that, but receiving is also a humbling experience, and we could all use a little more humility, right? Even something as simple as a complement can be hard to receive. I'm tempted to somehow deflect it, like saying "well I'm not really that great," "someone else really did most of this," "it almost never turns out this good" or some other remark that makes the compliment less valid. But now I try to just say, "thank you!" when someone has something nice to say, which actually takes more humility than my old way of responding. When someone comes to visit us in our home, and that is almost a constant, they often ask if there is anything they can do to help. I used to say "no" automatically because I wanted to feel like I had everything under control. I can take care of my kids and keep the house picked up and cook supper (not). But that resulted in a lot of stress for me, and the stress would lead to bitterness or jealousy or resentment or all kinds of other negative feelings that stress brings on. Now I say "yes" before I have even thought of something for the person to do because there is always some way they can help and I'm slowly tearing down this idol I have made of myself in my own heart. If God really wants to open the flood gates of heaven and rain down His blessings on me, I'm not putting my umbrella up!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

He sees

I think that as a human, one of the hardest things to do is to look at someone else’s pain, to truly witness their hurt, and not do anything about it. Sometimes we don’t want to do anything about it, sometimes we can’t do anything about it, and other times we could do something about it but we know we shouldn’t. I feel like I face these situations almost everyday. At times the pain becomes too much so I try to avoid it. I don’t look at the crippled old woman on the side of the road begging for change. I don’t make eye contact with the blind man being led around by a young boy who should obviously be in school but is instead serving as the eyes of someone else. Then comes all the self-talk that tries to make me feel better about it. “If you give to beggars, they will just keep begging.” “The better way to help is to build infrastructure that can actually build up the community as a whole so that they can help their own out of poverty.” And there’s always the old favorite “If I give her money I don’t really know what she will use it on.” These ideas are true to a certain extent in many cases, but for some reason I feel every bone in my body telling me, “just look her in the eyes.” I don’t want to do it, but I just feel like I should, and my conviction is strong enough that I finally turn and look her in the eyes. Then I think, “oh she’s got me now, I made the classic eye-contact mistake.” She comes over with her small child and asks me to buy her a sack of flour. Why did I do it? Why did I turn and look in her eyes? Once I looked into her eyes I saw a soul that was just like mine and I just couldn’t bear to see that soul suffering. I believe that whether I am talking about beggars on the street, or people that live around me and earn about a dollar a day, or people who feel rejected by society and rejected by church, I can’t make a decision about how to treat them until I have turned my eyes directly into their eyes and witnessed their pain, as much as possible. Not only does this witnessing help me to show them love in a better way, I think that the act of witnessing, in and of itself, is a loving thing to do. No one wants to suffer alone. A few weeks ago I went to the hospital after all the doctors and nurses had left on strike and there was a woman laying on the bed in the empty ward. One other woman was there with her, but other than that they were alone. The sick woman was groaning with every breath and clearly in so much pain. I could hear her groans as I approached the ward. What could I do? I am not a doctor, and I have no idea what’s wrong with her. I just sat by her bed and held her hand and prayed. I felt like I had just found someone left on the sinking Titanic but I had no way of getting her off. Do I turn around and walk away because it’s too painful to watch? Or do I hold her hand as she sinks into the water? Then there is the person who I could help but know that I shouldn’t. Well, I don’t really KNOW that I shouldn’t. Who knows these kinds of things anyway? It’s just a matter of accounting. If you give out money to everyone who comes along and asks you for it, there will one day not be any money left. On top of that, if you give to one person every time he or she asks that person will learn to depend totally on you and not make their own way in life. These facts are obvious. But when it comes to putting these things into practice, the lines become VERY blurry. How hungry is too hungry? How uneducated is too uneducated? How sick is too sick? How much financial burden and debt is too much burden? We are constantly making these decisions and it is exhausting. Wait a minute, this is my privilege. You either have enough to face these decisions, or you have so little that you are at the mercy of someone else’s decisions. I’m thankful, but it’s still so hard. So whether I decide to help or I decide not to, I will do the hard thing: I will watch. I will watch as they rise above and find their wings, or I will watch as they sink under the weight of the burdens life puts on them. But I will NOT walk away. I will NOT turn around or hide my eyes. Jesus didn’t come to earth and solve everyone’s problems. He solved a lot of them, but there were many many more that he left. If he hadn’t come to earth, maybe he wouldn’t have had to see it all and feel the heaviness of a world full of pain. But he came and he saw. This Christmas when I think about Jesus coming to earth, I am going to know that His coming means he has looked at me in the eyes and has seen my pain, every single time I hurt. He doesn’t always fix it or take it away, but he always, ALWAYS sees. No one is suffering alone.

Monday, December 12, 2016

what am I doing here?

I don't feel like I am a good writer. The truth is, I don't really feel like I am good at anything. I have struggled with this feeling all my life. I used to stress so much about what I wanted to be when I grow up. I would ask my mom to list all the options of potential careers for me. Nothing she named seemed right. I just didn't get excited about anything. Many years later, when I was in my early 30s, my dad and I were talking about writing and he said, "You don't just wake up one day and say 'I want to be a writer.' Only people who are truly passionate about writing will do it and a very small percentage of those people will actually be successful. You don't do it for the sake of doing it you do it because you can't not do it." This conversation has really stuck with me as the truth of what he was saying seeps deeper into me. You don't choose something because you just want to be good at something, you don't just choose a career so that you have a career. You pursue what you love, what you are passionate about, and the reward is that you do what you love, what you are passionate about. Success and careers are the byproduct. They must be complete afterthought. In fact it really seems that most successful people are surprised by their success, not expecting it. So how do I find success, or completeness, or wholeness, or that feeling of 'this is what I was made for' if it is something I should be surprised by? That can't be the goal, because you aren't surprised when you reach your goals. What is the goal? I've been reading a lot of really good books that address this issue and they all word it in different ways but it just dawned on me that they are pretty much saying the same thing. The goal is to find beauty, find yourself, find yourself beautiful, find God, find God in yourself, find your true self, find your connection with those around you, find your own uniqueness. There are so many ways of expressing it but no formulas for how to attain this "it." I feel like I haven't attained it yet but I also don't feel devastated by that realization. I'm still searching. Sometimes when I think of my kids it makes me panic, aren't I supposed to have found "it" by the time I have kids so I can be the right mom? What if they leave home and I still haven't found "it" yet? How do I balance searching for "it", which seems really important, and being a mom, which seems HUGELY important? But I still want to be good at something, and I want to not be able to not do something. I want to have something to offer to the world. I don't know where to start, but I know I need some sort of outlet to process my journey. I may not find the finish line but I will document my journey well so I will remember which paths I took. That is what I want to do with this writing. Just document the journey. I think we all want someone to witness our lives. I try as a mom to be a witness to my kids by being present with them as much as I can. Present with my body AND my mind. I want someone to witness me, too.