Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Have you ever been going about your life, minding your own business, thinking that you have become quite holy and that God must be practically finished with your redemption process, when--WHAM-O-- you are suddenly smacked in the face with the reality of how very far you have to go?

Not that that's ever happened to me.

Okay, it happens all the time.

Most recently, it went something like this:

I was in the midst of an e-mail exchange with a fan of my blog. Or rather, a person who reads my blog occasionally. Okay, someone who read it once. Anyways, I was quick to admit to said blog-reader that I read her blog every day. Which I do. But she would have no way of knowing that because I never ever comment on her blog. As I was explaining why I don't leave comments, I typed, "I don't ever comment because I am shy."

That's when I got the wake-up call.

Ring. Ring. Holy Spirit on line one.

"Yes, Lord?"

"What you have called 'shyness' I call 'pride,'" He said. I could hear the smile in His voice.

"What? No, no. I am not prideful, just a little shy. As in introverted, demure, humble."

Heavenly laughter. (Glad God finds me funny). "Jenn, you are steeped in pride, cunningly disguised as shyness."

"Really?" I asked, suddenly saddened, as the truth sunk in.

"Really. But I'm going to dig that pride out by the root. And plant my humility in its place."

"Thanks, Lord. And by the way, I agree with your assessment. I confess that I have been prideful by holding back from others, setting myself apart, and refraining from engaging. Thanks for your forgiveness. And thanks for your transforming power that will free me from the ugly clutches of my pride."

Does this stuff ever happen to you? It's like the curtain has been pulled back, and what I believed was a perfectly benign aspect of my personality is revealed to be a malignant disease on my soul.

But when I first tried to explain my new sin-cancer diagnosis to my family and a few close friends, I was met with confused, questioning looks. Most people don't equate shyness with pride. And I am not sure everyone should. I am certainly NOT saying that all shyness is pride, I am simply saying that MY shyness is pride.

So as much as I hate explaining myself, I would hate even more to be misunderstood. But when I spell this out you are all going to see how very shallow and depraved I really am. Try not to be too shocked and appalled.

Let's start with the digital level (this is so stupid it's embarrassing):

Why I am too "Shy" (Read: Prideful) to Comment on Blogs
by Jennifer Williamson

If I comment on another person's blog I have to admit that I am reading their writing. And as a writer who also has a competitive nature (don't tell me--that's pride, too?) I don't like it that other people have more popular blogs than I do. Yes, I know this is petty and stupid, but if I am going to deal with my shy/pride issue I have to deal with the true ugliness of my sin. So I don't want to admit to being a reader of a blog that is probably better written than mine, and prettier, and more insightful, yadda, yadda, yadda. Everytime I ever comment on a blog, I wrestle with this stuff. Pride. Pure and simple. Yuck

Now let's translate this to the real world (it's gonna get worse before it gets better!):

Why I am too "Shy" (read: Prideful) to Reach Out to Others
By Jennifer Williamson

In any given circumstance I am more concerned about what others think of me than I am about those others. Pa-the-tic. But true. I am much more comfortable (notice emphasis on MY comfort) watching others from a distance, observing, assessing, even judging. I am content to sit alone, content to keep to myself, content to watch from afar. The problem is my "shyness" motivates me to seek out my own comfort and contentedness rather than working for the interests of others. It spawns sins of omission. I sin in what I do not do. I do not look for opportunities to bless, encourage, or serve the needs of others. I sit in my quiet happy place, looking only to my own interests. Yuck.

Now all you shy people out there, resist the urge to jump to my defense. I am not going to go "extrovert" on you all sudden-like. I am simply going to set aside my "preferred" style of interaction and invite the Holy Spirit to have total dominion over that aspect of my life. I am confident that He will guide me in this process. I will no longer wear my shyness like a badge of honor; rather, I will yield to the Lord's leading, even if He asks me to go outside of my comfort zone. I think that's what it means to "die to self." And though that does not sound all that pleasant, I am absolutely certain that anything and everything done for the glory of God produces pure joy and ultimate fulfillment. I will never outgive God.

So I'll give Him everything.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fruity Pebbles and Barney

After taking the boys to school I came home and napped for four hours--right in the middle of the day--while laundry was undone, meals were unplanned, pets were unwalked, e-mails were unanswered, phone calls were unreturned, and grants were unwritten.

Best sleep I've had in weeks.

Then I ate 2 bowls of Fruity Pebbles. Two big bowls. I am still contemplating a third. Cereal is my favorite NO-prep food. Maybe we'll have it for dinner.

While eating Fruity Pebbles, I watched an entire episode of Barney--start to finish. How does that dinosaur stay in business? He is the MOST annoying, MOST pathetic, MOST uninteresting character on all of T.V.--excluding Paris Hilton. He still sings the "I love you" song at the end of the program. Gag.

And no, I don't want to talk about my pantry. Yet. Ask me again on Friday.

Lest you worry that I am depressed, fear not. I am simply recovering from a women's retreat. I should be back to myself tomorrow. Wednesday at the latest.

Well, now it is time to pick up the boys from school. I hope they had a full and productive day. I hope they weren't lazy. I hope they did everything mightily as unto the Lord.

I know I did. (wink wink)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Chandler

My baby is twelve! In a joyful affirmation of all that is Chandler, he received musical birthday cards from both sets of grandparents. He has opened them over and over to hear "I'm So Excited" and "That's the Way (uh huh uh huh) I Like It," and he grins and dances every time. Chandler is a barrel of monkeys, a ball of enthusiasm, a bushel of encouragement, and a bundle of joy. He was our surprise gift from God, and he hasn't stopped surprising us. We love you, Chan. Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring in Spangle

This was the view out my kitchen window as I was making dinner. Love it! Farmer Bob is getting his field ready for summer wheat. It makes me anxious to plow my own little garden and get planting...that is, if we are going to be here this summer, which I sort of hope we aren't...but if we are going to be here, planting day is just around the corner.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Loving Walla Walla

We spent the weekend in Walla Walla visiting our alma mater, Whitman College. As we drove into town, there was a banner welcoming us. Huh. I didn't know they were expecting us.

Graham took this picture of David and I. I was (delusionally) thinking we might be mistaken for students. After all, I WAS wearing my "High School Musical" sunglasses. However, later we were at John's Wheatland Bakery (our FAVE), and John himself asked me if our son, GRAHAM was a Whitman student. NO! No no no no no!

Can anyone out there identify what Chandler and I are doing in the photo below? It is a Whitman rite of passage. Anyone? You'd have to have done it to know. (Come on, V...don't let me down!)

But more importantly than visiting Whitman, we visited dear friends that we made while we we were in college. Dear friends, but not your typical college friends. The people we were visiting were families that took us in during our college years. Families with kids (who are now grown and married) and dogs and home-cooked meals who had us over for lunch after church. Families that became a refuge. Families that mentored us. Families that modeled Christian living for us. Families that became, well, family. We will be forever grateful for their impact on our lives, and are deeply blessed to have re-connected with them after so many years.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Math Olympics

The brilliant pianist and conductor, Leonard Bernstein, was once asked, "What is the most difficult instrument to play?" Without a moment's hesitation he answered, "Second Fiddle!"

Ain't it the truth?

One of the lessons I long to learn AND instill in my children is how to be second best (or third or fourth) with grace and style. Second place can be a great teacher, and when we learn to embrace it, we defeat pride, take more risks, and grow in graciousness.

Not that we should strive for defeat...that's not the point. We should strive for excellence. We should run as if competing for a prize in all things. But when we give our best, and get beat anyways, that still is a holy moment. A moment of truth. An opportunity. A time to shine. It's coming in second that reveals our true colors.

My ultra-competitive (wonder where he got that?) son represented his school in an ACSI Math Olympics today. He didn't want to just do well--he was in it to win it! He was feeling pretty confident going into the awards ceremony, and he looked at me with a hopeful smile when sixth place through third place had been awarded, and only he and one other student were left up front. But when his name was called as the second place winner, he was clearly disappointed.

Disappointed, but still smiling. My Chandler has come a LONG way. A few years ago he would have been in tears. Today he was gracious to others and pleased with (but not prideful of) his own effort.

Way to go, Chan!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Dear David and I are knee deep in the fundraising process--a process that has been surprisingly fun. Are you shocked? Me too.

I--a grant writer by trade--am no stranger to asking people for money. My own father says I was born asking for money. But asking Dad to fund a night at the movies or asking Bill Gates to buy a vehicle for the Red Cross are one thing. Asking friends--people we want to keep as friends--for financial support is a whole different ball game. But then again, its not about us. Not really.

The truth is, we don't want people to give because they believe in us. We are a family made up of three dorks and one super-cool thirteen year old who have no idea what we are doing. We will mess up. Dissapoint. Blow it. Don't give to us, we're not worth the change in your pocket at the end of the day.

No, we are so thankful for the many people who are giving IN SPITE of us. People who know that God is big enough and great enough to use three dorks and one super-cool thirteen year old. There are people who are called by God to participate in His work in France, and have a faith (and an imagination) that tells them that Williamson Four For France could be God's instruments for this work. These people give to God, and through their gifts, we are equipped to go and participate in the way that God has called us.

David and I and the boys have been absolutely humbled, blessed, and giddy by the outpouring of support. We could not say "Thanks" enough.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pantry and Peeps

My kitchen pantry is fast becoming a danger zone in my house. The left side is not so bad, but the right side is a nightmare. I tried to establish a spot for school supplies, as the boys often do homework at the kitchen bar. But the school supply basket became the proverbial kitchen catch-all. I think I see a videotape in there. We don't even have a VCR! By Friday...a new pantry.

Oh, the boys heard about a Peeps joust on Air 1 Christian Radio's Morning Show, and staged a joust of their own. Each Peep is armed with a toothpick, and placed on a plate within striking distance of the other. They are then placed in the microwave. I'm not sure you can tell who won, since they both got blown up. And the smell of toasted marshmallow filled our home for the rest of the day. Here are the gory results. Beware, small children may be traumatized:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Morning

It is Easter morning, and I am slowly sipping a cup of hot chai while David is in the kitchen slaving over cinnamon rolls. Oh yeah, he's better. After three days Jesus rose from the dead, and after three rounds of antibiotics, David is (finally!) well. So much to celebrate--not that the two events are equal in impact.

I have been trying for three days to write some profound post about Good Friday or Easter, but anything I write seems to belittle the events I so eagerly long to describe. Human history hinges on that moment in time, when the perfect God of the universe gave Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. He conquered death, and shares that victory with all who believe. Big stuff. And I only have small words. But still, I am deeply grateful.

I watched a montage of scenes from the Passion of the Christ last night, and wept through the whole thing. I have been crying a lot lately, so that was not so weird. But as I cried, I tried to analyze why the tears were falling. I have always known what Jesus did for me on the cross. I am disgusted with the brutality, and grieved that my sins were the cause of it. But I think what really gets me is that fact that when I watch scenes from that movie, I cannot help but realize that I am watching the one that I love die. Not some historical figure with whom I have no personal attachment. MY Jesus. It is a story that is both historically accurate and presently significant. Personally significant. By His stripes I am healed. With each crack of the whip I am keenly aware that His death is saving me. And when that tomb is empty I am reminded that I, too, will live forever with Him. The Passion of the Christ is a movie about Jesus--but it is also a movie about me--it is the true story of how my Hero came to my rescue. You may not see my face in the movie--but I'm in it, and so are you. We are the very ones He came to save.

So no words I say will do Him justice. I'll thank Him with my life.

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Bedroom: Restored to a Place of Order

I am so happy with the results of the first week of my own personal extreme home make-over! I definitely got my groove back. But above all, any attempt at organization must, in my opinion, be FUNctional.

FUN*ctional: a system of organization that can be easily maintained over extended periods of time without infringing upon a person's overall enjoyment of life.

Here is the place that used to hold a cluttered mess of crafting supplies.

I gathered all my knitting supplies (yarn, pattern books, knitting needles) and placed them in a basket in my bedroom. This space is easily accessed, keeping my knitting handy, yet contained. I used the same basket that had become a catch-all for all sorts of miscellany. All of that other stuff found better homes.

I put the card-making supplies into an old Rubbermaid container that I found...

...and then stashed it all in a corner of my closet with my sewing machine. Again, everything is easy to access AND will be easy to put back away when a project is compete.

Last, but not least, the home office space is cleaned up and fully functional. Printer paper is handy: ivory on the left, white on the right. The books on the floor are journals, most are new, just waiting for me to fill with ink. But my journals are just a tiny piece of my book storage problem.
Something I noticed as I cleaned and organized my bedroom this week was that for a family that loves to read, our home is shockingly void of bookshelves. Unfortunately, this means we have stacks of books all over the floor in almost every room. We rarely buy books; most of the books in our house are borrowed from friends or the library. Still, I need a system for our borrowed books besides building towers on the floor with them. Any ideas?

I have essentially resolved never to buy another book. At least not a paper book. Some day I hope to get a Kindle, and then I can go DIGITAL with book buying, which would allow me to have bajillions of books without needing ANY storage space. Ahhhh the joys of the modern era.

Next week: The Kitchen Pantry

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Tribute to the Sun

Well, you might get sick of me this week, but I just have so many words running through my head that I simply MUST put them somewhere, and as I am working so hard to UN-clutter my house, I guess my extra words will have to live here, on my blog. Where they won't gather dust.

Yesterday was the occasion of a Jewish celebration that happens once every 28 years--a day that celebrates the sun. Apparently, yesterday the sun was in the exact point in the sky that it would have been on the day it was created. I don't know how people figure that stuff out, but someone, somewhere, seems to know where God put the sun the day He made it, and then calculated that every 28 years, for one day, it returns to that spot. Sort of like salmon going to spawn, I guess. Anyways, the article I read clearly stated that the Jews were NOT worshipping the sun; rather, they were worshipping God as the creator. Whew! Because even I--a devout monotheist--get tempted to worship the sun this time of year.

Are you northwesterners as happy to see the sun as I? It makes me want to sing. Tra-la-la-la-la-la! I feel revived! Motivated! Hopeful! And no longer homicidal.

"Homicidal?" you ask.

Yes, I have come close to killing the man I love. It would be a mercy-killing. Mostly. You see, Dear David is going on his eleventh straight week of ranging between under-the-weather and deathly-sick. I (the one who has not ONE ounce of compassion in my soul) feel like the real victim of his endless illness. He doesn't whine or complain, he just hasn't been quite his congenial self. And I need my playmate to be fit for all the fun I have planned in life. Anyways, he is now on his THIRD round of antibiotics, and with the sun shining and all, I can actually envision him getting well. And then, of course, I won't have to kill him.

Yesterday I took a walk without wearing a coat. Such joy! Chandler came along on his bike and talked to me about all sorts of interesting things, like which planets are hot and which ones are cold, and whether the moon is hotter or colder than the earth, and why. You know, kid's stuff. Maybe next time I'll ask him to explain that 28-year cycle of the sun.

And how many of you find yourselves walking in your neighborhood in the springtime and realizing you wouldn't recognize your own neighbor if you passed him on the street--because he's been hibernating since October and so have you. Suddenly everyone is out and about, pasty white and squinting, waving in every direction while secretly thinking, "Who the heck was that?"

Most exciting to me, though, are the green shoots of daffodils and tulips busting through the soil to salute the sun! These are the picture of faith:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

I do not see the flowers yet, but when those shoots rise out of earth that has been frozen and covered in snow for months on end, I am SURE that Spring is coming and CERTAIN that I will see an orchestra of colors singing in my flower beds within weeks. Can I get a witness?

And if I am this overjoyed to see the sun today, I can't imagine what I will feel when I get to heaven, and the SON will replace the sun. Jesus will be all the light and warmth we need, forever. And we all will be SON-worshippers! And I'm sure I'll recognize my neighbors who are there--never to hibernate again. WOO HOO!!!!!

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Revelation 21:23

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Bedroom Mess

My house is about to get whipped in to shape, one room at a time. This week's focus will be the bedroom, which is peppered with piles of stuff that I'd like to keep handy, but not in disarray.

This is my knitting and card-making pile. I lost all crafting supplies in the flood of 2006, but have slowly begun to re-accumulate some yarn, knitting needles, paper, and other crafty items. The only problem is, despite this accumulation, I have not established a system or a place for said items. I can't wait to get these things organized. I am much more creative when I can begin from a place of order.

This basket was supposed to hold my slippers. Unfortunately, it became a catch-all for reusable bags, clean towels, ski socks, stray skeins of yarn, and who knows what else. I'm almost scared to see what I will uncover in this pile. On the right is, oh, portraits that need framing, stray pieces of grant-writing work, and probably an unfinished work of fiction that will be published after my death.

And this is my home-office space. It is obviously out of control. I hate organizing PAPER-WORK. This will be the biggest challenge for me. I might enlist DR's help, as he is a whiz with knowing what I need to keep, and what I can throw away. If it were up to me, I'd just toss it all. Or set a match to it.

Okay, so talk about motivation. In my ultra-organized days I would have been mortified by any such pile in my home. Now they are everywhere! By Friday I should have photos of these same places...only they should look much different. You may not even recognize them. Extreme Home Makeover, here I come!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Winds of Change

I used to be organized. VERY organized. I was industrious, scheduled, and (no lie) a list maker. I was so efficient, so Type A, that I tended to prioritize "to dos" over "whos." I needed to slow down and learn to relax.

So I did.

But the pendulum has now swung too far the other way. Of this I am sure--since dear David is the one who sent me the memo. How did I get here? What happened to my drive? And is it possible to find a happy medium?

I found the answer to the "How did I get here?" question while visiting my parents last week. My mom, who knew me to be an industrious, well-organized person from the age of 6, suggested that I crossed the line from "laid-back" to "lazy" as a result of my thyroid disease. Don't you love it when someone close to you, who knows the details of your health AND personality, can shine the light of perspective on your circumstances? I think my mom is spot-on (as usual!). Battling low-thyroid levels for over a year sent me into survival mode; I had to forget the to-do list, and just put out the fires.

But my thyroid levels are finally approaching normal, and I now have the energy I need to start tackling the things that I have let slide for the past 14 months. The problem is, I have almost forgotten HOW. I am honestly having trouble figuring out where to start.

So I have been sifting through my memory tryng to remember my organizational techniques, but it is hard because when I was organized it came so naturally that I hardly realized I was doing it. A few things I remember doing are making to-do lists, scheduling a day to each week to clean house, and scheduling a day each week to run errands. This will be my starting point.

However, I have been so lax for so long, there are some places around the house that need a major overhaul. To tackle these bigger projects, I am going to focus on one room a week. You all are my accounatbility partners for this. I am going to begin with my bedroom. I will post a picture of the bedroom today (Monday) and then again on Friday. The change should be shocking!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


In January of 2005, I had big dreams. I was convinced that God had something else for me, and I was determined to discover exactly what that "something else" was. I talked with David, I talked with God, and in the end, I decided that my "something else" was one of two things. I was either going to be pregnant or enrolled in Law School by September of 2005. That was my plan.

I committed my plans to the Lord, and set the wheels in motion for God to direct my paths. Confident that He was going to either give me another baby or give me a new career, I pursued both possibilities: I began fertility treatments (because by medical standards I am infertile) and I applied to Law School. By March I had been accepted to Law School, but even on Clomid I was not ovulating. It was beginning to look like God was pointing to the J.D.

And then I had the dream. A real know, at night, while I was sleeping. I rarely remember my dreams, but this one was vivid in my mind from the moment I awoke.

And here's where you might begin to think I am crazy.

But that dream stopped me in my tracks, and changed the course of my life.

I discontinued my fertility treatments AND I declined my spot at Gonzaga Law School.

And I waited. Because the dream didn't kill my yearning for "something else" it redirected it. But to what? Well, that was the big question, wasn't it?

Shortly thereafter, I forgot the dream, and I hadn't thought about it in years. And then a few weeks ago, in my Bible Study on the book of Daniel, there was a question that asked, "Can you remember your last spirit-striking dream?" I left the answer blank, because I could not remember any significant dreams, but while I was sitting in my small group discussing that chapter, the dream from 2005 came back to me with amazing clarity and detail. I think I know why God reminded me of that dream now, but first, I need to ask you a question.

Do you believe that God still speaks through dreams? He did it in the Old Testament. He did it in the New Testament. He had never done it for me before,and He hasn't done it since. But I think maybe once, God used a dream to speak to me.

Do you want to know what I dreamed? Here it is:

David and the boys and I were on a road trip, and we made a pit stop at a very familiar Circle K in Umatilla, OR. I told David that I needed to use the restroom, and headed for the dingy door in back with the handwritten "Ladies" sign. Up until this point everything in the dream was familiar in real life, and fairly normal. But as I pushed open the bathroom door, I entered a large and luxurious tiled bathroom with three stalls. Each stall was a full bathroom, complete with sinks and showers. So I immediately decided that I wanted to take a shower, and walked to the first stall, but as I looked in, I saw something repulsive. Right in the middle of this beautiful shower was a large pile of poop. (I just dreamed it, so don't blame me if it's gross!) I back out, stunned and disgusted. Now I really needed shower! I went to the next stall, anticipating the warmth and cleansing, but as I tried to enter the second stall, I saw someone in it. A janitor with a friendly smile was in that stall, making it sparkle and shine. He did not seem the least bit surprised to see me, but almost like he expected me. He said, "I'm still working here, but you should use the next stall, I've already cleaned it." Encouraged, I moved on to stall number three. As I opened the door on the third stall, I realized that this was the was the best one. I couldn't really see all of the way in, but right inside the door was a woman behind a desk, ready to hand me a fluffy white, warmed, towel, and a bathrobe. She, too, seemed to be expecting me. And while I had a sense that I was about to have the best shower of my life, I was told that I would have to wait just a minute before entering.

And then I woke up. Never seeing fully in to the third stall, but convinced it was the one for me.

I told David my dream, and we both felt like it was speaking to our circumstances. The poop shower represented Law School--something that appeared appealing at the onset, but upon closer look, would not be satisfying to me. The shower with the janitor represented my desire for another baby--something that was a good thing, but not a part of God's plan for my life. We did not know what the third shower represented, we only saw as a confirmation that God did, indeed, have something else for us, but we could not see what that was at the time--2005

So, fast forward to 2009. When this dream was brought back to my mind recently, I had a bit of an epiphany. I think, perhaps, FRANCE is the third shower! Going to France to share the love of Jesus is my big dream. My something else. That thing that God had planned in advance for me to do (with David and the boys, of course), but had not yet revealed.

So, I'm just wondering. Do you believe that God still speaks through dreams? Because I would not want to ever suggest that a concoction of events from my subconscious mind is a word from the almighty Creator of the universe if it simply isn't so. On the other hand, I would not want to dismiss a message from the King of Kings as a bad burrito.