Category Life

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.

Today is certainly one of the days when the meaningless of life resonates deeply with me. All of us caught up in our rat races, whether it’s a ‘butt wiping, disciplining’ rat race or a ‘climbing to the top of the corporate ladder’ rat race. I’m tired of the arguing. I’m fed up with the division. Can’t handle the anger. None of it matters. It just doesn’t. I feel burdened watching everyone turn on each other. Exhausted by people demanding I pick a side. I’m having a hard time finding hope in all this madness.

What really matters? Because whatever that is, we should be spending our energy there. Creating beauty, hope, love. But I’m not certain that much of that exists anymore. I haven’t witnessed much of it lately. Meaningless, meaningless. Where do we go from here?

Life feels heavy right now and I know ‘cast your burdens . . . .’ but at the moment I’m not sure what that means. The answer is always ‘Jesus’, right? How his heart must break.

 

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monday musings: a hug and kiss

It’s been one of those weekends where I have become acutely aware of my own shortcomings and time after time admit I was wrong and ask for forgiveness. Those times are never fun – they hurt like heck for one thing but then you have to choose what you’re going to do with the knowledge. My general leaning is to let myself wallow, lose hope and then eventually get on like it never happened.

This time, as Jude and I played at a nearby park, he came over to me and gave me a hug and a kiss, and spoke in his sweet boy voice as he looked up at me, “I love you momma” and then went on continuing to filling his pockets with rocks.

For all the moments that he makes me want to pull out my hair because of his disobedience, there is at least one moment like this, where the simplicity of childhood momentarily bleeds into my chaos of adulthood and everything is put in perspective. At least for a short time.

 

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Monday Musings: bigger isn’t better

Again and again we have been telling the story of our move. Central Austin. New house. New business. Planting a church. How God has surpassingly continued to meet us in each circumstance. And again and again I have people lament for me the fact that we are moving to a small(er) house.

Sometimes I just bite my tongue and change the subject. And other times I wax poetic about the virtues of living with less, smaller environmental footprint, less to clean, the character and charm of older homes, the proximity to my job/downtown/yummy food and how I just love small homes.

But most of the time I mourn that the focus of our society is bigger is better. Why oh why would I want to live in a smaller home if I could take that same money, move out to the suburbs and have a brand spanking new house that has 5 rooms and 4 bathrooms and two play areas? I don’t need more space. We wouldn’t need more space even if we had a bigger family.

I don’t buy into the ‘American Dream’. Bigger is not better – in fact it may be worse because it can distract us from the true meaningful task at hand – loving like Jesus loved. More (whether it’s ‘bigger’ or just ‘things’) can shackle us to the cares of this world so that we are distracted – unable to love the way we are called.

The truth is we value the mission that we have been placed on, this story that we are creating much more than a large house. We believe that living in central Austin in a smaller home is going to impact eternity through the people we will meet and live life among. None of it feels like a sacrifice to me.

 

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monday musings: the house story

Are you guys wondering where we are in all the housing stuff? We are certainly still on our adventure, even through this process of buying and selling a home.

I’ve talked about it before and even though you think I would learn my lesson, in the back of my head, I still don’t believe that God wants to take care of me. Why would he want to give me good things? And why do I want stuff anyways? Jeez consumeristic self, can’t you get a hold on your wants? So many people don’t have a home to live in, where do I get off wanting?

I knew we were selling our house and moving to an area of town I desired to live in – I couldn’t really ask for more than that, right? I knew that we weren’t going to be able to afford much because the homes are much smaller and much more expensive. Honestly, I just thought we would live in a two-bedroom dump and have to struggle to fix it up.

Yeah. I’m still struggling to wrap my head around what actually happened.

We found our dream home.

Well, actually, our friends tripped over our dream home. The short story is that their dog ended up in this yard and the families ended up talking. Turns out they needed to move and were looking to sell the home without a realtor to save a little money. Was anyone they knew interested in moving to central Austin? Um, yes, we were.

We viewed the home and fell in love. I couldn’t get over the little touches that were throughout the house that seemed like they were custom designed for our family. But then there was the money. Things always seem to get hung up on money, eh?

It was going to be too much for our family in this season of our lives. In case you didn’t know, Jason is starting a business so much of our savings (make that all, actually) is going towards this start up. That doesn’t leave us with much to go towards a new home, especially in this more expensive part of town.

Turns out, if you ask people to help, sometimes they actually can. Oh and it is humbling to ask for help with money. Jason’s dad agreed to help us out by doing a lease-to-own on this house.

See why I’m struggling to wrap my mind around it?

Sometimes I feel like God gives us good things that are just too much. Too awesome. Too amazing. I still feel a bit like puking when I think about it. I may actually puke when we move because then it will be overwhelmingly real.

After all of this, we put our house on the market. And it sold the second day.

To be honest, I worried about sharing all of this. It’s sometimes easier to share the messy, the difficult and the struggles – everyone can identify because we all struggle to make sense of the crazy. But what do you do with the blessings, the rejoicing and the too awesome? I feel like it should be shared too.

But I don’t share to brag – we did nothing. I have to keep reminding myself that the glory goes to God in all of this. I struggle to understand why we are recipients of his grace but I am grateful.

 

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monday musings

It’s a season of reflection in my life right now. We move in a little over a month (hopefully everything works out in that department – stand by for the full story there – I’m still waiting to see how it will unfold) and I’m looking back over the last three years when we moved last time. This move is almost exactly three years to the day but the big difference is this time I don’t have a sense of dread. Just a sense of this being the move I’ve been waiting for. The house. The people. The area. All of it.

Oh but three years ago, I hardly recognize the person that moved here. Who was she? And why do I feel so disconnected from her? As I’ve been processing I’m realizing some things that weren’t clear to me in the moment. I was talking to a friend and mentioned it in passing and she affirmed it. And then another friend agreed. And my husband agreed.

I had postpartum depression.

It had always baffled me, how easy having a child seemed easy to other women and why it would feel so difficult to me. I’m not discounting the fact that is it hard. It is. But I felt like it was suffocating me and other women just seemed winded – like they were running a 5k. I was really good at telling people that everything was fine. That the season I was in was difficult but I was always fine. Except that I wasn’t. I pretended to function as fine. I even kept up with a lot of things that I enjoy, except. . . I didn’t enjoy them. I just did them. I kept up the act, trying to fool myself.

When Jude turned two I felt myself surface and just now I can look back clearly and see the symptoms that I was trying to will away. Granted, there were a lot of things going on in my life that compounded the depression – the move, leaving a church I felt connected to, joining a new church, stopping my career, Jason quitting his job, difficulty in our marriage, limited money, not to mention the stress of having a new kiddo. It felt like I was drowning.

And then here we are today. Facing a similar lot of changes – moving, Jason’s new business, disciplining a toddler/preschooler, planting a church. And yet, I don’t feel like I did this last time. Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that we are walking into some difficult times, but I feel like I can do it. I’ve been lead to the path that we are on willingly instead of blindly.

And I’m excited that I can walk into it with my head above the water.

 

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monday musings: our adventure

I mentioned it in passing a few weeks ago when I was putting forth my struggle about the thought of being an only child family.

Our adventure. It’s right on the brink now.

I am excited and terrified about it and somehow, that makes me feel like it is the right decision. If it isn’t scary, it isn’t a risk. And if it isn’t a risk, the gains can’t be very big. And we are hoping for eternal gains with this risk.

We are beginning to write a story of a church plant. We have been in discussion with some of our close friends about this for years now. I can’t even believe that it has been so many YEARS since this conversation begun. And here we are, getting ready to sell our home (yep, again) to move into the heart of the city. If you know me, you know I am thrilled about the location. I love the city. I love the people there and the way they think. I love the food. I love the houses. I love the trees. I love the messiness of the poor intermingled with the wealthy. Life has been lived in the city and there is history that you can breath and feel as you move through the space. My heart already lives there. I. Can’t. Wait.

And I am also terrified. The church that we yearn for is one with intense community, much like you would find in a family. And as an extreme introvert, community is scary for me. I like the written word (can’t you see?) but I am not eloquent in person. My mind blanks when I am asked to speak on my toes, I don’t speak up in group settings, I take days to process information and come to conclusions. But somehow, I know that this is what I am supposed to do. My sad little introverted self is supposed to lay down my fears for this church.

We don’t want to be just another church – we want to show that God is beyond the American box of church. We want to reexamine traditions and serve our community in a revolutionary way. You have heard me speak of a desire to bring heaven to earth and that is what we long for. We want to bring heaven to central Austin. We want to be Jesus to those that have not encountered him. We want to show Jesus to those that have been deeply hurt by past church encounters. We want to be Jesus to everyone – no exceptions. And I know that means we are going to be uncomfortable. My heart trembles at the thought of giving up my comforts, of sacrificing things that I hold dear but I know we will be called to this. And more. I pray that I will grow to embrace this.

We have begun writing our story and it’s going to be an adventure.

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monday musings: learning to rest

I think I’m finally starting to understand how to rest in my doubt. Sadly, it’s not a 10 step process, so I can’t give you any answers as to how it could work for you. I’ve talked about it here before, how my faith has been punctured with doubt. It has hurt tremendously to wrestle through this faith that has both defined me and set me apart. I’ve told God that I don’t believe in him and yet I keep coming back to Jesus. I’m sure it seems crazy to those of you who don’t believe Jesus is God but I can’t explain it other than the fact that I feel him calling me back to him. I know, I sound like a nutcase even to myself sometimes. How he works is a mystery to me. It’s just too big.

I just finished reading Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner and I love how she said it,

“… in those same moments of strained belief, of not knowing where or if God is, it has also seemed that the Christian story keeps explaining who and where I am, better than any other story I know. On days when I think I have a fighting chance at redemption, at change, I understand it to be these words and these rituals and these people who will change me. Some days I am not sure if my faith is riddled with doubt or whether, graciously, my doubt is riddled with faith.”

I haven’t found answers to a lot of my questions and I think I’m beginning to feel a peace in not knowing. I’m not called to know all the answers, even though that’s what I want. Oh GOD, I want the answers so bad. And because of this, I’m sure I will return to this struggle time and time again. I do know that I am called to be Jesus to our broken world and to bring heaven as close to earth as I can. I love that idea, bringing heaven, a perfect earth, to our current situation. How achingly beautiful is that thought? Can’t you feel how wrong everything is? And just to bring a small piece of something right . . .

I think everyone can agree that our current planet is far from heavenly. We see hints of this ultimate beauty in nature and then we see the absolute failures in our own humanity. I believe God’s heart is tremendously pained by humanity’s trajectory. We have enslaved each other, treated our planet poorly, exploited the weak, turned a blind eye to injustice and killed each other in the name of war and even worse sometimes in the name of faith. I am one person but I know I can bring heaven to the few people in my corner of the world. I desperately want to, even when I’m in the throes of doubt.

Another quote I wanted to leave you with from Lauren Winner’s beautifully written book,

“… maybe this is a way of inhabiting faith that is, indeed, faithful; that is generative. Maybe God has given some people belief like a pier, to stand on (and God has given those people’s steadiness to the church, to me, as a reminder, as an aid), and maybe God has given others something else: maybe God has giving to some this humming sense that we know nothing, this belief and disbelief a hundred times an hour, this training in nimbleness (and maybe this is a gift to the church, too).”

Maybe my doubt is a gift to the church. Maybe my ceaseless desire for answers and constant wrestling brings something to the table that will keep things fresh. Maybe God made me with this unquenchable doubt so I could draw people to Jesus just the same.

 

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Monday Musings: Easter

(Too much alliteration?)

We spent our Easter very low key. Since we weren’t traveling, I almost forgot to do anything for it – no egg dying, no chocolate bunnies. And then Jason took Jude to a public egg hunt and Jude didn’t even get one egg. The parents and bigger kids had elbowed their way through the crowd and snatched up all the eggs. Jason ended up stealing an egg just so Jude would have one. What an incredibly sad representation of what Easter is actually about (we redeemed this experience twice over, so don’t be sad about the little boy that didn’t get any eggs). Last I checked, Easter isn’t about consumerism . . . and yet . . .

Early last week I read this article about the Easter conundrum and it’s similar to the Christmas Conundrum. It’s worth a read (and makes me want to read her book even more). It made me think hard about how we focus on the holiday. . . I have quite a few memories of egg hunts, pretty new clothes and easter baskets that overshadow what Easter actually is about. I know at this point in my parenting journey I have the ability to shape how Jude views the holiday. We set the traditions. I certainly missed opportunities this year although we did read some of the Bible passages associated with Easter. Part of me really enjoys some of the traditions I grew up with. I loved dying eggs and I certainly love chocolate bunnies (although would like to get fair trade Easter treats in the future) but it’s not what I want the focus to be on.

I want Jesus to hijack my holidays. I want him to liberate the way I think about church and traditions. I don’t want to do things the way they’ve always been done to keep up with the status quo, I know there is more out there. I want our lives to push more and more to sacrifice and serving others, even if they don’t think about Jesus the same way I do. Especially then. Traditions can have extraordinary beauty to them – I see amazing value in some of the more traditional Christian practices but I also know that traditions when done thoughtlessly or without understanding become absolutely meaningless. I want to run hard from this and I’m still processing what that means for us.

What did you do for Easter and what do you think of the standard Easter activities?

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THAT question

I know. I have a 2.5, almost 3 year old. That inevitably means that people begin asking THAT question. “When are you going to have another one?” Because really, it’s just assumed that when you have one, you’ll certainly have another. Only children don’t seem to be an option (irregardless of the fact that all the myths about only children are indeed, just myths). Part of me understands, they’re just making conversation. And it does seem as if babies dominate many of the conversations I’m a part of these days. I’m pretty sure almost every one of my friends is pregnant or has just had a baby. . . And I am very happy for them, don’t get me wrong.

I just think, sometimes, that maybe, multiple kiddos are not for our family. Becoming a mom was very hard for me and Jason and I have been struggling with this decision since Jude turned one. We were never the couple that wanted ‘x’ amount of children and so we don’t feel like we have to have another right away. But at the same time, we don’t want too much time to pass if we want another child. I just don’t know that I want another child.

Part of it is selfish reasoning – I don’t want to be pregnant for my 30th birthday (holy crap, that’s THIS year!), life is finally moving along again, Jude’s in Mother’s Day Out so I get a bit of time away from mom-land, I love that we can finally communicate . . . so many great things come along with this stage that I don’t want to see interrupted. But there are days. You know, the days where you are barely hanging on to your sanity because of the tantrums and the constant demand for attention and never getting to be alone?  Those are the days where I want to run far away from the possibility of having any more children. If one strong-willed, active toddler is hard, I can hardly imagine having two (even if one is less strong-willed).

And then there are reasons that maybe aren’t so selfish – Jude was such a blessing, yes, but we felt a huge increase in strain on our marriage after having him. If we only have one child, we will certainly be able to pay for his way through college, we can afford to eat in a way I believe in, we have so much more flexibility to minister to others, our schedule is more open and we can easily open our home. I’m not certain how those things would play out with additional children and that’s just plain scary. Fear of the unknown, rearing it’s head again.

But then my biggest concern is that Jude will one day be alone without siblings to remember all of the silly growing up stories. . . and on the flip side of that, I am hopeful that our community will be family to him and he will grow up with boys that witnessed and experienced life as our extended family.

I have felt peace about waiting for an answer to this question because we are about to embark on a pretty big adventure soon. But that doesn’t stop the questions from coming. And although I had felt very settled in my decision, I still find myself wrestling and over thinking.

To be honest, I’m not entirely certain why I’m sharing. Maybe you guys would pray for us in our decision making and that we can rest in peace of waiting? And maybe share a bit of your journeys to have children/not have children/dreams of children. I am always encouraged by hearing what you guys have to say.

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word of the year 2012

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you’ll know that each year I try and pick a word that I can reflect on throughout the year. In 2010, my word was trust. It ended up being a difficult year for me in that area but nonetheless, I appreciated getting to reflect on what trust looked like in my life and how much I lacked. And the quilt block tradition was started. Here’s the empire star block.

Word of the Year Quilt Block

And then last year my word was belief. I know I didn’t talk much about it on the blog, but I did reflect on it quite a bit. And I must say that it was quite an appropriate word for me. My belief was challenged and restored in so many areas of life – marriage, friendships, parenting, faith. It’s been a hard year but it’s also been incredibly healing in so many ways. It closed with clarity in so many areas that I had been scrambling to find. Here’s last year’s dresden plate quilt block.

'Belief 2011'

This year I have been thinking and praying about what my word should be for the year. It hasn’t been as clear as it has been in past years. One of my resolutions for this year (if you can call it that), is to be kinder to myself. My internal voice is quite vicious to me while giving much grace to others – not healthy, I know. 2 Corinthians 10:5 talks about taking every thought captive and obedient for Christ and I strive to exercise this in many areas of my life but not in my view of myself. So that lead me to the word gratitude – thankfulness, appreciation, gratefulness.

Word of the year block 2012 - gratitude

Gratitude destroys those voices in my head. It creates a happier heart, better relationships, relinquishes control. There are a lot of changes coming up for our family in this next year and they will need to be navigated with a grateful heart. We have so much more than we deserve even through the difficult times because of our faith in God.

Word of the year block 2012

My quilt block this year is the modular cathedral block. I love the clean modern look of this and it reminds me so much of cathedral window quilt blocks that I just adore. The fabrics are Sandi Henderson’s Meadowsweet Meadowdot, Amy Butler’s Love Sunspots in Mint, Patricia Bravo’s Oval Elements in Green Apple, and Joel Dewberry’s Modern Meadow Herringbone in Maple and of course Kona cotton in white.

What about you? Any words that you are going to meditate on as you go through 2010?

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