Sunday, July 20, 2014

moving to Nola

we're moving this month. 

It's been three years since our last move and these past three years have been so good.  We've gotten jobs and promotions, we've had two baby girls, I've gotten my coursework done, presented papers, and fellowships have been won. 

We're all healthy. We're grateful.

And yet, we've never wanted to set roots down in New Jersey. As good as NJ has been to us, I don't want to be "from" here.  I don't have any family in the area and the housing prices are astronomical in this immediate area.  We could have chosen to move, say, two towns over to more affordable options, but Judah's school has been the draw to stay put.  If we're going to move, I want to move somewhere we can buy and settle.  put down roots.

I am looking forward to building a life in New Orleans.  I hope it turns out to be a place where we can really grow our children.  I hope it turns out to be a place where Chris and I can put in some hard work and see a return-- I'd like to teach an ESL class on Saturdays, we would like to lead worship on Sundays. We want to spend a lot of time with Judah in these, the twilight, years of his childhood.  Can he really already be ten years old?

We're excited, New Orleans. Please be good to us!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On Grace...

Note:  I have just begun reading Max Lucado's Grace: More than We Deserve, Greater than We Can Imagine.  This blog post is a type of reader's response to the book.

We will be confident when we stand before the Lord, even if our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:19-20 NLT

I think one of the most salient, deep cored beliefs of our culture is in the truth of the heart.  So often, we are told, all we need do is to *know* the truth of our own hearts, to listen to that truth, and follow it.  But the Bible, of course, does not agree.  It doesn't refer us to ourselves, our inner depths, as the source of infallible, if personal, truths. It questions us, our motives, and this for me has been so hard.

It is hard to think that one can be wrong, even if she is on a path which "seems right" (Prov. 14:12).  It is so difficult for me to both know that I can be wrong, even if I think I am right, and still make decisions. I want clean hands. I don't want to make mistakes.

This has led me to a bad place, a place where I am paralyzed by my unwillingness to make decisions because I cannot be 100% certain that these decisions are the right ones.  I let so many aspects of my life fall into disrepair from what is tantamount to neglect: I am supposed to be living and active in my own life.  If I do nothing, things start to fall apart.  I can write this simply, but this perfectionism and fear are powerful and I don't feel any breathing room between myself and these feelings.

This week I am fasting these feelings: inadequacy and despair to be intelligently active and righteous in my life.  Really, righteousness? It's funny just typing that word--how can I really be righteous?  But yes, if I am going to act at all I want it to be in love, in kindness, in goodness, in faith. . . in self-control. I want my life to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Righteousness.

The Spirit is not hard on us.  The Spirit is our counselor and our comforter, the lifter of our heads. The Spirit does not bring shame and disaster, does not accuse us of all the evils lying dormant in our hearts or active in our lives.  It is the kindness of God that leads us... not just into repentance but into the goodness of the kingdom and our lives in it.  Repentance is just that first step, but it is kindness all the way through for....

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). 

The Spirit doesn't have to parent us in anxiety for our very souls.  There is no anxiety because there is no threat of condemnation. God's Spirit leads us into all truth, in peace and in joy, because we are already God's.  Nothing can threaten this.  Nothing.

The woman caught in adultery, how can we even understand that grace?  The Law was against her, for sure.  But Jesus was for her, for her. I think I understand, now, why it was that Jesus was so much harder on the religious elite.  They had the law on their side, but how insufficient is this law!  It can only issue death, for we are, all of us, sinners. They had the law on their side... but that is it?!  No, we need grace. We need grace. I need grace.  I need to trust God's grace.

I have always been schooled more deeply in God's perfection, in his justice, in His demands for holiness. I have trembled in despair over how to trust this God, who may or may not decide to kill me. But how incredible is it, that God's mercy and kindness and grace, are God's strongest characteristics?  God is perfect and just and holy.  But as concerns me and my relationship with God, God is even more merciful, kind, and gracious than He is perfect and sinless and powerfully holy.

May my heart respond with faith, not fear.  May it stop condemning me.  May my heart instead become sincere in my faith, that I would be able to come nearer to God.

Let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, because we have been made free from a guilty conscience. Hebrews 10:22 NCV.

Monday, June 16, 2014

streams of consicousness

Nap times, deferred.
I am sitting here listening to  Ruth Ann Swenson, the opera singer, and trying to tune out the whining of Julia Noel, the two year old.

It's humorous. 

Back in her crib, Camilla, the three month old is also trying to nap. There's precious little "success" around these parts these days.

These days, I really worry about my scholarship. I really do. Because I can't get to it. It's so far away from me.  I am so tired.

And this detachment makes me worried.  I expect a less than stellar end of the year review.  It's to be expected, but I am still dreading it.

I know lots of less productive souls in my graduate department, who do not have me Extenuating Circumstances. So, I think it is best not to freak out and figure out how to get to the work.


I am so tired.

Anyhow, things here improve steadily.  My sister and I have been closer lately.  I feel I can see her perspective more often than not and this has never been the case before!  I start to beat myself up less.

I am not scared of an upcoming move: possibly even across the country to a new place.  I welcome that change. Though New Jersey has been good to me, so I should just be gracious. But still, the people here are all, "stay in your own lane" kind of people. It hurts the Texas in me.

Father's day was low key but still special. Chris is working so hard on the daily to be a good husband and father. It has helped me relax some, but now it is also kind of inspiring me. =)

I saw a dear friend over the weekend and her sweet baby daughter, who is four and almost five years but was still the best surprise for Julia, though only 2, who can't get enough people and playdates.

We're moving in less than a month.

It could be to across the street and into a slightly bigger apartment.  That would be an easy if uninspiring move, but I could live with it just fine.  I have loose ends here that could be tied up better with a little more time (hello exams...)

I'm 35. Sometimes just thinking that is a smack in the face.  I hope not to feel this way at 65. I can't deal with life going this fast....
it's too precious.
I need it to slow down, just a little.

I need to take it in.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

In Chicago

Everyone here is really nicer than most other places. When I first lived in Chicagoland, straight from Texas, people didn't seem that nice.  The midwestern hospitality thing seemed more fiction than fact, because I was from San Antonio then.  San Antonio is the nicest place I have ever been. People are just so friendly. 

But now that I am from New Jersey, Chicago appears to be everything it thought it was and I missed it before!  People smile and make small talk in elevators. I am at a conference, so Chris and Camilla went out by themselves yesterday.  Chris said that Camilla was constantly stopped on the street. Complete strangers stopped in their tracks to coo at her and lightly brush the top of her little hands.  Camilla was in heaven. She absolutely loves being talked to.  I am so grateful!  I think people should always take notice of babies. In New Jersey, some people can look right through her, like she isn't there!  It's nuts.

As hard as conferences are, and they are, I find I like them.  This one is particularly grueling-- everyday is 8:30 - 8:30, with a two hour break for lunch and that is basically it, except for five and ten minute breathers as your instructors see fit.  Yikes!  But I really enjoy getting together with other people in doctoral programs to commiserate. It's heartening to see everyone struggling and making progress.  I also find that the workshops, intended to instill me with a sense of purpose and calling and coherence, actually do.  That is a miracle in the academy. This is miraculous. =)

Anyway, time to prep.  I was supposed to be business outfitted, but none of my business outfits fit yet again, after Camilla.  Bleh.  Business wear is too expensive to purchase at my present size. I don't have the money.  Yesterday, because I didn't nurse or pump enough, I leaked through my shirt.  Everything is harder for mothers!!!

But I am still glad to be here. =)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

opportunistic mothering.

today Judah played in his first ever concert. he has this trumpet, this really nice trumpet, that my dad bought him.  My dad plays the trumpet too.  Judah told me last night, ahem, last night, that he needed a white shirt, black dress pants, black dress shoes and a tie to wear for the concert today.  Somehow our local kids consignment shop came through for me on all counts!  $50 later, I left, bag of concert clothes in hand.

I had no inkling he would be looking so forward to the concert today. I have wanted him to have a taste of this: of the success you feel when you apply yourself to something worth your time.  His sweet eyes were so shiny about this. He glowed in his recounting the whole scenario: he played every note perfectly.  He did!  He looked so handsome, but still like a big boy, not like a dude or a guy, so I could really get into it. 4th grade has been great year for us. He has grown in his capacity as a scholar, but he is still super sweet and appropriately childish. He still wants to play board games like Connect 4 with us.

When Judah was smaller, I was significantly depressed. Subsequently, Judah came to be attached to my mother in ways I don't begrudge, he needed motherly attention that I couldn't totally provide. But my heart ached a little to wonder, Who would Judah turn to, first, if he got hurt today? In my heart, I knew the answer was likely my mother.  When I thought about this maybe being the case, I just reminded myself that we still have a lifetime ahead of us, and that I can prove to him that he can come to me over time.

He's been so allergic these last few days.  Seasonal allergies have always been a problem for him.  His eyes, in particular, get really crusty and swollen, and there are literally sheets of mucus lining his eyelids at times.  He is on four medications and his pediatrician doesn't seem to be able to do more.  We'll be seeing an allergist next Wednesday.

But in the meantime, he has been coming to me.  I irrigate those eyes. I take q tips and pull out the floating mucus strings. It doesn't gross me out at all! I rub his back when he gets really irritated about it. I get him an ice pack and give him pain killers. He relaxes his posture.

I earn his trust.  He can come to me. I am here for him.

it's happening-- a little at a time. =)

Monday, May 19, 2014


So much of it comes down to waiting, I think,
so much of it comes down to patience

life unravels.
entropies: they happen.
they aren't coincidental. they always happen.


i watch and people i used to know
are subject to it
subjected to it
subjects of it

chaos can be good or bad
it really isn't either
it's where they fall (the chips)
its where you fall when it's over


(i recommend that you )
don't give yourself over to it
don't abandon your skin and your tissues
all the membranes holding you together 
holding you to your loved ones
holding in your organs

don't defy the wind and the rain
don't scream at them in anger
it isn't personal- -it's this way for everyone

you're one of us

& it's true: if it isn't better yet, it's not the end.

This is (now) what I know
we wait for meaning to come round us, to gather us, to-gether us,
like we wait for the sun on the most bitter night
like we wait for the warmth in the dead of the winter
come, wait for the sense of it all, with me.


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