Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 29

Do you know what today is?

On this date in 1429 Joan of Arc lead France to victory over the English.

On this date in 1784 Mozart's Sonata in B Flat premiered in Vienna.

On this date in 1813 rubber was patented.

On this date in 1995 Michael and Heather Williamson were married! (We love you guys!)

And on this date in 2010...

we purchased four one way tickets to France!

Monday, April 26, 2010


He didn't want a big party. That's not his style.

He had no desire to take a big trip. Traveling has become a lifestyle for him--being home is now the luxury.

He wanted to celebrate simply: A family dinner (grilled salmon and strawberry shortcake are on the menu), followed by a jam session with his boys.

He's 40 today, and he got his heart's desire. He will be jamming tonight on a rockin' new ESP electric guitar and a Fender amp that is big enough to support his 40 year-old body.

He is content.
And I love him more than words can say.

Happy Birthday, David.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Out of "Africa"

Our boys are looking forward to a school trip at the end of May. I went to a parent meeting about the trip, and learned that there are two requirements that must be filled in order for students to be eligible for participation on this adventure. 1.) a GPA of 2.5 or better and 2.) No more than two trips to "Africa" in the next four weeks.

"Africa" is the name given to the desk in the hallway, where students are sent when their behavior is not appropriate for the classroom.

After the meeting, having no concerns about their GPA, I asked the boys, "Do you spend a lot of time in 'Africa?'"

Graham quickly responded, "No, mom. Not at all. I usually just get sent straight to the principal's office!"

Go big or go home, that's what I always say.

(FYI, Graham has only been sent to the office twice this year, and once was the result of a misunderstanding. The other involved pyrotechnical exploration within a independent and unsanctioned experiment. He did not burn the school down. )

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Death to Tyrants!

I am praying for a mutiny. Against myself. I have come to the conclusion that my ego is a tyrant and I no longer want to serve her selfish ambition and vain conceit. Her appetite for fame is insatiable. Her lust for glory is obscene. Her desire for power is downright embarrassing. I say, "Death to Tyrants!"

One problem. I don't know how to kill my ego. We share a body, and even when I issue an eviction notice, she doesn't seem to leave. She sticks around sharing her lofty dreams--her INSANELY self-absorbed dreams--that I am ashamed to admit I enjoy. We revel in them with a sick attraction, captivated like moths swarming a flame.

I'm reminded of the lyrics of one of my son's favorite songs:

There ain't no drug
The sickness is myself

Before I know it, I am serving that evil tyrant even though she and I both know that I have pledged my allegiance to another. He is not a tyrant. He is a servant King. He is a humble leader. He likens Himself to a shepherd. He gently leads, He sacrificially gives, He wholly loves.

I want to live for His glory. I want to live to make Him famous. I want to let His Spirit be the antibiotic that kills the infectious disease that is my ego.

Oh Lord, make it so.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Slow Boat

We are getting close! After our last newsletter, four supporters INCREASED their giving, and four new donors have made pledges. David and I continue to meet with families and churches to share about our call to France. We are hovering right at 88-90% of our needed monthly support, which means that we could be purchasing one-way tickets to France before the end of the month. CRAZY! FUN! SCARY! EXCITING! I'd feel an entire spectrum of emotions if I could find the time to feel them. Unfortunately, life does not slow down just because a momentous move now looms in our not-so-distant future.

In the midst of this final phase of fundraising, we have spent hours at urgent care with each of our boys; we have led worship as a family at the women's Bible study at our church; Chandler is regularly rehearsing for his role of Long John Silver in his school's production of Treasure Island; Graham is scheduling weekly band practices; the lawn is growing at record rates; the garden is begging to be planted; David is figuring out if we can rent our house instead of sell it, and what it would take for that to happen; I am writing grants, teaching Bible Study, and lunching with friends as often as possible; we are all still trying to fit in regular work-outs; three of us need routine doctor's appointments but none of us can find a moment to call to schedule them. If laundry gets done it is an anomaly, if the dog gets walked it is a wonder, our carpets have completely forgotten what a vacuum-cleaner is, and sitting down to a family dinner requires an act of God. Sadly, I bet you all can relate!

I keep telling myself that it is "just a season." And since we do not live in this frenzied state very often, I am pretty sure that I am not lying to myself. Still. I need to breathe. I need to process. I need to ponder. Which brings me to the boat....

Last summer in our Cultural Integration Training school, we learned about some of the "modern conveniences" that actually handicap missionaries. One crippling convenience is the efficiency of travel. Years ago when missionaries would leave for the field, they would take a boat. On that boat they would have time to process the enormous move they we making: Time to grieve what they were leaving behind and time to anticipate the journey ahead. Today, most missionaries hop on a plane, and 20 hours later hit the ground running, not having a moment to catch their breath, much less sort out their emotions. We were encouraged, if it is possible, to take a boat to the field, like they did in the olden days. To weep. To anticipate. To reflect. To savor.

So, over the weekend, I began to price transatlantic cruise fares. They are not much more than one-way airline tickets. I think this might be our preferred mode of transportation. The slow boat. Yes. While typically it is speed that impresses me most, it seems like this is one of those times when slower just might be better.

Friday, April 16, 2010


How does it happen? How does a perfectly organized storage room decay into a cavern of chaos? After spending all of last Saturday cleaning out our storage room, I have been pondering this question not only as it pertains to my material world, but also as it pertains to my mental/emotional/spiritual world. For I do believe it is possible to have cluttered emotions and a cluttered mind; but, I also believe that peace, joy, and contentment reign when my heart and home are submitted and committed to a life of simplicity. I struggle with how to get there.

I feel like I work hard to keep our life simple. I am not a collector. I regularly donate clothing and household items to Goodwill. I have very few keepsakes. I do my best to take care of the things that have been entrusted to me. And yet...

...this happens. I realize it didn't "just happen" on its own, but the making of the whole disaster felt rather effortless on my part. I mean, I certainly did not work to create such a mess! Here is evidence that the law of entropy that we all learned about in seventh grade chemistry is still in effect. All things tend towards disorder. My storage room is clearly scientific proof!

I believe that the law of entropy is a result of the fall of man. We live in a world that is doomed to decay, and our only hope is the grace of God. Through that grace we have the power to swim upstream against the strong current of entropy--but it will not happen effortlessly. Believe me, I've tried the route of least resistance. It leads to something that looks like thermonuclear fall out.

I am considering anew what the fight against entropy entails, and how I might better engage in it, and here is where my thoughts have taken me:

First, I need to slay my inner sloth! The path of laziness is a tempting trail for me. Most messes do not start out as enormous entities. They begin with little piles here, a few stray items there, and the unwillingness to take the extra steps that would be required to return said things to their proper place. Doing nothing appears to be the easy way--but that is a MYTH! I wonder how much time I waste shuffling things around to avoid the itty bitty bit of extra effort it would take to put them away. Why oh why do I do it? I'm lazy. Not always, but sometimes. And sometimes is often enough for entropy to make significant progress in my house.

Do you think that there is a spiritual application of this concept? Is it possible to be spiritually lazy? Oh yes, I think it is. God gives clear commands in His Word, but I shuffle those commands around to avoid the extra steps that would be required for total obedience. I tithe 8%, because, you know, it comes to a nice even number. I overlook my own pride issues, because, you know, it would mean having to deal with insecurities to face them. I skip out on service opportunities, because, you know, it would mean having to die to myself to serve others. Yes, spiritual laziness is definitely a factor.

Second, I need to submit to structure! I have a system for keeping house, but I have recently neglected that system in favor of more fun and exciting endeavors.

"Can you do lunch on Thursday?"

"Sure," I say, "That sounds great!"

I completely ignore the fact that if I DON'T clean house on Thursday there will be no other time for me to do it until the following Thursday. And I fall prey to the deception that says structure limits my life. Structure is very freeing when applied appropriately to life. When I regularly clean my house on Thursdays, I keep entropy at bay and enjoy my time at home for the whole rest of the week. When I skip cleaning on Thursdays then I spend most of my time at home agonizing over the horrendous state of our abode and feeling guilty that I have done nothing about it.

Is there a place for structure in my spiritual life? Oh, but there is! God is clear about issues of order: Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Unfortunately, most days I seek coffee, the daily news, and a hot shower first. Casting literalism aside, I also tend to seek my will, my desires, and my best first. I get my priorities out of order because I rebel against structure...even the structures that God put into place to build strength and effectiveness into my life. When I neglect to put God and His kingdom first in my life, I spend my days agonizing over the horrendous state of my heart and feeling guilty that I have forsaken my first love. His structure exists for my own good, and I am blessed when I submit to it.

Because of God's grace, a fresh start is always available to me. Entropy is not my master. God promises to bring beauty from ashes, even when the ashes are the result of my own laziness or an unwillingness to submit to His structure in my life. When I get it right, God is good. When I get it wrong, God is good. I can neither impress nor disappoint Him. I can only receive His love, and live my life as a grateful response for His goodness and grace. After all, my whole life, apart from Jesus, is a messy storage room cluttered to the point of total uselessness. I am entropy personified, save this one fact: He saved me. Now my life is ordered by the hands of a God who not only cleanses me from messes that are entirely mine in the making. He also restores me so that I can be used for His eternal purposes. Oh the joy of being His!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our Storage Room

Today David and I agreed to clean out our storage room. This is the place where we keep all seasonal decorations, keepsakes, vases, candle holders, and other knick knacks. We also store our luggage in there. Everything from the room went in to one of three piles: 1.) Pack for France 2.) Pack to store in the U.S. and 3.) Garage Sale. Here is a picture of the storage room at 8 a.m. this morning:

All of the items that are going to be moved or stored went back into the storage room to await moving day. All garage sale items are in the garage. So here is a picture of the storage room at 8 p.m.:

And here is a picture of me sometime in the process. It deserves an explanation, but I'm too tired to give it tonight. Maybe tomorrow.

Lest you are concerned that the very thought of having a garage sale put me out, fear not. I most certainly will NOT be having a garage sale. All garage sale items are being donated to our church for a garage sale that supports a mission trip to Nicaragua. A win/win in my book!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Did you know...

Did you know that we still have Christmas lights up on our house? In our defense, it snowed today, and somehow the lights did not seem so out of place in April when snow was falling. We are, well, slightly behind in many endeavors. The Easter Bunnies were out in time, but that had more to do with the fact that company was coming to my house than an "on-the-ball" "with-it-ness" of seasonal awareness. I missed Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day altogether in terms of decor, which totally bums me out because I have the most amazing shamrock covered teapot. You know how some stores have "Christmas in July?" Do you think I could have "St. Patrick's Day in May?" One season we didn't dare to miss? Tax season. While I don't do any special decorating in honor of April 15th, our taxes were officially filed on time, thanks to David. I do wonder if Hallmark makes Tax Day cards and kitsch. Its possible.

Did you know that I am the only one in my house that can watch American Idol without having a guitar in my hands? Probably because I don't play guitar. Or because I do not consider American Idol to be a "sing along" or a "play along" show. I find myself saying, "Shhhh, I can't hear the T.V.!!!" Call me crazy, but I actually like to listen to the contestants. Nevertheless, I am starting to feel, I don't know, empty handed during the only T.V. show that we watch in our home on a regular basis. Perhaps I could get a Ukulele. Or a bagpipe. If you can't beat 'em....

Did you know that I think Alcatraz is about the creepiest place I have ever been? It wasn't just the iron bars, the concrete floors, and the very on-display toilets in each cell. (Though the toilets did remind me of a recurring nightmare that I have that involves an ice cream parlor, a public toilet, and a bus-load of Shriners--but that's another story.) I swear there was just a general eeriness about the place. I learned a lot, but it was a lot of stuff that, having no plans to ever "do time in the big house" I could have lived my whole life without knowing. I didn't even feel a glimmer of hope in the inmate library--the library!--the happiest place on earth. How is it possible to not even feel hopeful in a library? It didn't help that I got seasick on the boat going out to the island.

Did you know that I haven't slept in the past three nights? On the bright side, I am getting a lot of praying done. Because as long as I'm up I might as well do something productive and I just can't bring myself to get out there in the snow and take down the Christmas lights. (Do you notice how that was written as if I have ever put up or taken down Christmas lights in my entire life--which I haven't?) So I pray. Lest you think that this is some subtle hint to David to take down the Christmas lights, be assured that I have not an ounce of subtlety in me. I actually only JUST realized that the Christmas lights were still up, and I am somewhat bemused about it. So late at night/early in the morning, Christmas lights just happen to be one of many things that God and I talk about. Not like, "Oh dear Lord, what ever shall I do about my Christmas lights?" Rather, like "Lord, my life is so blessedly full that not only were Christmas lights up on my house for Spring Break, but I think there may still be Thanksgiving leftovers in the Fridge. Please help me to keep up with you, and all you are doing in my life." Thankfully, I think God is a little bemused Himself.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


I am at one of those places in life in which I wish I could push the pause button. Or at least the slow-motion button. As I sat at a Starbucks on Fisherman's Wharf with my family last Sunday morning, I actually began to tear up, overwhelmed by the depth of emotion packed into an ordinary, everday moment. Breakfast with my boys--adventure looming before us--made me keenly aware of how very quickly the days of parenthood are passing.

Words cannot express the delight that I have in simply sharing my life with my boys! They are engaging and engaged, interesting and interested, teacher and student, courageous and cautious, masterpieces, and yet, still works of art in progress. I see the fingerprints of God all over them.

I must suck the marrow out of every minute. Carpe Diem even the dullest of days. I am certainly savoring this sweet season of life. The dawn of teen years herald the imminence of adulthood, and ultimately, the independence that is the hopeful, yet somehow melancholy goal that passionate parents have for their progeny. Someday Graham and Chandler will break out to be the men that God has called them to be, no longer heeding my instruction, but following the call of their creator. They are already showing signs of manhood that both bless and pain me. I trust the Lord is also preparing me for their eventual launch into the world. I trust that when it is time, I will fully release them. Even now, I must hold them in an open hand.

But today, they are still my boys. And I am savoring the joy of being their mom.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Two Haiku--No Foolin'

Since April is National Poetry Month, I wrote two haiku about my experiences in San Francisco.

Haiku #1: Ambush
Ambushed on the street
by a man who shined my shoes
without being asked.

Haiku #2: Visitor
At lunch on the bay
we saw a large sea lion
swim lazily by.

Want to join the fun? Write a haiku and leave it as a comment! It's easy. A haiku has three lines. The first and the third line must have five syllables each. The second line must have seven syllables. Rhyming is totally NOT required in a haiku.