About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
As an aspiring theologian I live in a city, state, country and time that offers minimal allowance to stern conviction. However arousing this "fenced" position seems at times, I cannot stay silent or relent on that which sternly convicts the very core of who I am. If nothing else, this is the slow and steady, (rather infrequent) thought-life of one who has tried her turn at silence, failing miserably on all accounts. In my limited experience thus far, I have come to realize four very important facts of life which demand attention: First, that I am here by God’s appointment, second, in His keeping, third, under his training, and fourth, for His timing (Andrew Murray). The end of the story is still a mystery to me but I’ve relinquished my pen to its true author, leaving the future in a terribly exciting state.


A God of light; a God of dark

I'm listening to you now in the hallway, staring at my toes and trying to focus on chipped-polish. It’s no match for the aching sound of your tears. No matter how many books I’ve read on child development or the vast counsel and wisdom handed down from women far more advanced than I on the various stages of motherhood, I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to this in time for it to pass. You’re a “good sleeper”, an “easy baby” (as if there is such a thing). I have no reason to complain in the company of friends whose little ones cry for hours at bedtime. My heart overflows with gratefulness when I think of this indiscriminate blessing. However, as your teeth wage a ruthless war against your gums, the challenge has heightened and I feel myself being tested. 

The preciousness of your pleas pouring through the cracks in the door behind me is crushing to my spirit. While there was a time you would wail in segments with your earnestness to grab hold of my attention rising and falling, depending on the day’s events, this is new. It seems as though you are acutely aware of your surroundings at every moment. Just as my arms wrap you up and my feet begin toward your room, your tiny body tenses. I feel your heart rate quicken and limbs begin to squirm without purpose. You smother my face with slobbery kisses and babble loudly, reciting every vowel you know. You do this as though you’ve done something wrong to deserve punishment and now need only to earn enough “points” to keep me near. I ache as I praise your efforts and snuggle you in closer, knowing the nursery door is only a few feet ahead. And the night must come. Even Superman needs his sleep. It is essential that you know the sun will rise and fall each day, requiring much; necessitating rest. You need to grow. This is non-negotiable, however often I dream of it being otherwise. And I must help you.

You can’t see this, not yet. You can’t see how your daddy has prepped your room, turning on the nightlight, humidifier, and pulling the shades to help your eyes rest. You can’t hear the soft music over your own vocal chords and you’re unable to recognize the clean sheets pulled tightly around your mattress to keep you safe and warm. He's even made sure your favorite stuffed animals are at your side, reminding you that this is still home where you belong. No, all you see is darkness. All you comprehend is silence.

So as I lower you into bed and the room begins to dim, your crying turns to shrieking. And then your shrieking takes the form of a silent sob, which periodically comes up for air and fuel, and only so as to launch into another outpour of lamentation. As the door closes and you feel me leave, your weeping reaches its summit: a bellow of hopelessness I won’t ever be able to rightly define, decants from your throat. I quietly beg for you to stop and begin to feel the heavy flow of my own tears; those familiar streams. It’s a wonder they haven’t permanently stained my cheeks. I won't leave the hallway, not until I hear your heavy breathing slow, giving way to sleep.

If you could only know what I know ... If you could only trust that the darkness doesn’t mean that I am absent. If you could look into my eyes long enough, listen to my whispers in your ear, reminding you that I am constantly present and never going to leave you alone. If you could just remember how each morning I faithfully rush to your side, sweeping you up and filling the house with our giggles. If you could just realize that with the absence of light and distraction, you will learn to grow, learn to rest. If you could only comprehend how I ache for you, weep when you weep, and loathe the sound of your pain with every fiber of my being. If you could just see me now, pressing my face against the other side of your nursery door, praying for your safety, your health, your dreams. Have I not conveyed the depth of my love for you? Can you not hear my heart begging yours to know that I am still here, still for you, still wanting you? 

…Have I not earned your TRUST?

Oh God, how naive I've been. 

Are you still outside the door of my room? How long have you been crying? How long have you been waiting for me to trust in the faithfulness of your morning; the necessity of this night? Forgive me, I didn't notice you there...teaching me to know you in the darkness and rest in anticipation of the light.

“I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” 
Deuteronomy 31:6


I Am Yours and You are Mine

As foreseen, my son has been my constant reminder of the love of God. Relaying the following story to a friend two weeks ago I was encouraged to share again here, however redundant this theme may be.:}

Recently the university I’m earning my Masters with put on a talent show for current and prospective students. I took Afton along with me for the first few performances in order to catch-up with my old Admissions team. The room was packed and Afton was immediately snatched up by a number of doters. Grateful for the break in constant parenting duties, I let him ride the wave of welcoming arms, keeping an eye on him from a distance as he moved around the room. He finally made his way back to my own circle, settling on the lap of a friend two seats away. It was past his bedtime and with all the chaos encircling us he wasn't acting like his normal, smiley self. Instead he maintained a sort of dazed expression, his mouth agape and eyes glazed. Friends of ours, familiar with his unremitting giggles and grins, took turns trying to unearth a smile. He slowly moved on from each expression without reacting in the slightest to their charades … until at last, his eyes met mine.

That’s when it happened. His whole countenance changed. He unreservedly transformed from this slack-jawed, wandering, uneasy boy, to the happiest baby anyone had ever seen! The top of his head down to the tip of his toes, smiled -- it seemed as though every part of him was grinning. He may as well have shouted to the rooftops, "That's the one I was looking for!"

Everyone at the table gave a unanimous "awwww" and I beamed with pride. My usual, smiling-at-anyone-and-everyone-baby (who made me doubt as to whether I was really any different to him from joe-shmoe at the grocery store) set me apart in that room like never before.

When I arrived home I just began to weep, feeling humbled and prodigiously honored to belong to this boy. And in the midst of my joy-filled-tears, Jesus said to my heart, "You know, this is how it will be ... when I come to get you and bring you home. A sea of unfamiliar-faces will stand between us. It will be when everything seems empty and lost and you realize more than ever that you truly don’t belong where you are; when you’re tired and looking for a sign of ‘home’... You will look up and see me searching. And when I see YOU, I will smile from my head down to my toes. And everyone will know that I am yours and you are mine."

John 1:12-13 

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.


Blessed are You who Weep...

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. . . . Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven” (Luke 6:21-23).

Grounded. I feel grounded - a yearning for flight. Madness encompasses my TV screen, my radio. I'm lingering on every young face passing me at the grocery store a little longer than usual, needing to somehow be certain they never slip from their mothers fingers. This weekend, Afton had his fourth-month-shots. I was handed a pamphlet by his pediatrician on just how necessary and prophylactic these were and reassured that I was a good mother for seeing to it that he received his scheduled immunizations. The front page had pictures of healthy-looking moms holding their chubby children, gazing into the eyes of one another with euphoria written all over their faces. The children even had band aids on their arms, indicating that any and all procedures had been completed prior to the snapshot. I studied these pictures for some time, immersing myself in the colors so as to be sure I didn't see the injections taking place on my sweet baby's tiny thighs. Since I indeed cried harder than he did during his last blood-draw, the nurses suggested I stand back and allow them to "take care of things". I looked too early…perhaps on purpose, just in time to see his precious smile fade into consummate misery. His current screams (bless his heart) equate that of a 13 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert, and they pervaded the halls, waiting room, and surrounding parking lots of the doctor's office. I remained calm, nursed, sang-to, and cradled him tightly in my arms until the tears subsided. After a number of errands we arrived home and it was as though the entire ordeal revisited him in great detail. He was in agony again. My evening was immersed in experimental measures of reassurance. Eventually my husband got home from work and found me half asleep on the floor with him in my arms, murmuring repeatedly, "every little thing is gonna be alright..." 

After "tagging out" and allowing my little prince to be held by his daddy a while, I went to the bathroom to ready myself for bed. Looking into the mirror at my shabby reflection, I noticed one of Afton's band aids was stuck to the center of my shirt. It had Superman pictures on the sticky ends, and when I turned it over, a spot of blood stained the center. I'm not sure when it was supposed to hit me. I had thought myself quite durable while discussing the horrendous shootings of this past week with friends and family, offering biblical truth and sound reasoning for the necessity of choice among God's creation, the depravity of man, and the "Problems of Pain" (as C.S.L. coins it so beautifully). Yet upon seeing this tiny speck of blood on a Superman band aid and feeling again the ache in my heart for the little boy in the next room, unable to understand why he needed to bleed at all, came the full realization of Sandy Brook. And it overtook me like a tidal wave. To see my child with a pin-prick, the inevitable scraped-knee or fat-lip, this is the challenge my heart anticipates and prepares for. Finding my baby in a pool of blood, his chest still and heart quiet…this cannot be what we, what anyone, is asked to endure. I sank to the bathroom floor in tears, asking God the question, "Is anything still working according to your plan?" 

Surely, this cannot be what He meant when He said "take up your cross". How often have I crawled to the end of my bed where Afton's pack 'n play sits, watching intently in the darkness until I can make out the rise and fall of his chest. Life will teach you that when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Already I brace myself to lose this "something" I find all too good to be true. I've been unable to shake the thought of that band aid; what if the bleeding never stopped? What if the precious soul of my child was unable to cling to his flesh any longer and I, frozen in another realm, was unable to help on his tiny heart. I envisioned each mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, sister, brother frantically beating their hands against the void - waking up each morning to false hopes of it all proving to be nothing more than a terrible nightmare. In the words of John Mark McMillan, "For all my revelating I just can't make sense of this gravity we're in". Lord, can we hope here? Do we dare? Has your creation fallen so far? Have we been "given over to ourselves" entirely? The very question of 'why' seems shallow now. 

An organization called Youth with a Mission that I have had the privilege of serving alongside in the past, recently mourned the death of one of its many great leaders. Don Gillman and his wife served the people of Taipei, Taiwan for many years before his unexpected passing in November. There is no shortage in testimony of the deep contributions Don's 54 years of life offered the world. He passionately and unrelentingly displayed the love of Christ. In the wake of so many tragedies this past week, a particular story of Don's came to mind -- one he had shared with our missionary teams in Lakeside, Montana years ago. Don had traveled to Indonesia and was given the rare opportunity of touring an underground prison preserved from the 1960's in memory of those tortured and murdered in its mass genocide. Each room of the memorial held tools, stones and bedding still in place from the haneous acts. "It was painful to walk through", he said, with blood still staining a majority of the floors and walls. But the particular items present, causing him to stagger in anguish, were the pictures in each room of the prison. They displayed those chained and mutilated in their original positions of torture. He would not relay the details of these evil depictions, but he told us with a heaviness to his voice, that many were of children. Toward the end of his tour he found himself gazing into one frame of unspeakable horror, and as his thoughts lingered to those inflicting this torture. He suddenly uttered aloud, "These people, they aren't people at all … they're animals." And I won't ever forget what he said next. "God responded to me in a very rare and direct way. He said, 'Don, this is what you are capable of apart from me.'" 

Looking at Newtown, I swallow hard with the same realization. 

A professor of mine recently discussed the "unnatural darkness" that swept over the land following the crucifixion of Christ. I was intrigued by his specific translation from the Greek -- yes, how 'unnatural' the entire event seems. There is nothing natural about crucifying an innocent man, nothing natural about sending your only son to be tortured and killed by those you had sent him to save. Nothing natural about forgiveness. How high is this calling of unnatural grace? How deeply are we called to mourn with those who mourn and passionately "fix our eyes on the prize set before us?" (Hebrews 12) Surrounded by such "unnatural darkness", will we say (as only a centurion had the courage to), "Truly, this was the Christ"; Truly He is God and we are not. Truly, there is still a plan -- beauty amidst ash. Truly, there is rebirth, and surely … surely, we will see Him again… 

With a heavy heart, my prayers are lifted daily for those who lost loved ones this past week. May they find comfort in the Great Comforter who was, is, and still is to come. 

1John 3:2

No, Alone I Cannot

As a new mom, now 10 weeks postpartum, I've been craving friendship. Only not the sort you find yourself needing on a whim out of vacant affirmation. I'm desiring women of all stages and phases of life to be deeply present in mine. I need my married friends with and without children as well as those who have adopted, fostered and sacrificed in ways I never have. I need to know how it is even remotely possible to manage the constant hunger, need for affection, and hygienic-demands of more than one child. This is an unresolved mystery to me now that I am racing (and often tripping) through each day to meet the needs of ONE. I need my single friends; need to remember what it is like to ache for someone else's name to attach itself to mine -- the desire to feel as though I belong within a unit out from under my parents' roof. I need the wisdom of the old and the young, the new and used hearts. How often I wish I could take back the fleeting comments I've made to women in different stages of life, of which I was utterly naive. I can recall saying to friends of mine with young children, "So what else are you doing these days?" How  ridiculous I must have sounded to them. A single friend of mine in her 30's recently told me about a conversation in which she invited another married friend of hers to a local, late night happy hour. The married friend responded with "oh how I wish I could be single again, without the responsibilities of a husband and children...Happy Hour sounds like so much fun." My single friend retorted (on the inside, of course), "Really?! Because I would trade a cheap cosmopolitan and bar fries for a husband who loved me, any day of the week." Now, as someone who married rather young and has endured her fair share of heartache, I can honestly say that there have been many happy-hours mourned. Still, the assumption on both parties (one being that marriage is the ultimate attainment for life-long satisfaction, and the other, wishing it were so and longing for women without the "chains" of that commitment to recognize their freedom) is foolishness. I think it is too easy for us to assume that the depth of our current stage is the ultimate and final plummet. Truly, do we ever "arrive" at such a maturity as to leverage us unable to accept the wisdom of those on another side - whether that be single, married, celibate, dating, parenting, adopting, laboring or attempting to conceive? I have heard the most profound wisdom from the mouths of children. Why is it that so often we conclude others (though they be a few years ahead or behind us) incapable of the same? I'm craving friendship…and wisdom; wisdom I do not have, though I am a daughter of 27 years, wife of 5 1/2, and mother of 1. I will continuously lack the wisdom God has generously (and I do think purposefully) endowed to those outside of myself. Could it be that we were created for not only relationship but discipleship?…I simply do not have what it takes. I never will. The sooner I recognize this and hold tight to the hands outstretched in my direction, the sooner I will climb the mountain before me. I have never been so aware of the fact that my portrait, my design, was not meant to stand alone.

Heartbeat like a little train, forging on, through the fray
Sometimes in the quiet I can hear it
You send me up into the night, a mother's hopeless, endless flight
of worry I can't be a better fit
And oh how little I've become for you, certain there is more to do
before I introduce you to the air
But in my dreams I see your face, your honey eyes and chubby waist 
and overcome, I linger and I stare…