The full human experience.

10.04.2019



The first time I saw myself as weak was in his eyes. I saw my reflection, distorted, in the green-eyes of the red-haired boy. He told me those with faith, which I minutes before had professed, were those who didnt have the grit to face the truth of the meaninglessness of our existence. It's science and chemical reactions.

I fought him hard with my words and feigned uninterest, not for sake of knowing he was wrong, but fearing he might be right.

the second time I found myself weak, well-the second that I can recall with ease- was in a bathroom tiled to the ceiling. Easy to clean and hard to break. Very much unlike my circumstances in that moment. A tiny safe place, for a woman who both messy and broken, had only uncovered more brokeness in her and her husband than she could bear.  A prognosis certain: beyond earthly repair.

oh, but wait, there was the time before, when the ultrasound fell lifeless, when the tech refused to make eye contact. That moment forever presenting. defining.

and another, now the moments come with ease. I remember. When my self control failed me-too many moments to recount, when I felt exposed over money poorly spent, poor calculations in choices, precious time wasted.

he was right, that green eyed boy about one thing.

I am weak.

but he was wrong about that other bit, and I'm not so afraid anymore.


He saw me. The God-man I put my faith in. When a traveling saint of the same faith prayed over pre-teen me and looked her square in the eye and laughed a jolly laugh. I felt akward and struggled to make eye contact. He pray-talked to me "my goodness Jesus, she is meticulous isn't she! you like things just so, dont you?" and with a tenderness "God made you just like this. "

He held me, the one who formed the science and the chemicals, as he mended our broken hearts and showed me that He, and only he, can replace what is lost, what was given away unfairly.

He spoke to me, with my real ears hearing. I thought at first it was just the intercom, my brain synapsis firing so fast I looked around bewildered when I was wheeled back to the inevitable news that death had been found in this shell of mine.

I've held my head in my hands in a car at night, weeping at a doctors warnings. Of white blood count and us 'seeing how the next 24 hours go." Driving home, and throwing up with the deep fear of loss.

I've held my own girls hand as she tries to understand why a new friend would tell her "no one cares about you." A lie I've spent the better end of a few years unmantling.

I've seen enough to know that if our existence is void of meaning, then I certainly dont have the grit for it. Green eyed boy, you are right.


But I've seen Him,

Heal a man. a real life one. I saw the mans tears at the surprise of it. I watched to see if it was a fluke weeks later.

I felt Him, prompt my heart to ask a question I wouldn't ask,  no never. that brought out ugliness I didn't want to see and in its stead healing I couldn't make for myself.

I heard him, give me permission to fail boldly, reminding me that death is of little consequence to the one who has already overcome what was once thought to be the final say. Reminding me that he even now still dances over what he's made.


Today I saw a little boy, who I get to raise, lift his hands up in joy and run full speed through grass. The leaves rained down as wind blew. He started to shoot his arms out like spiderman and swing his little legs out wonky and I cried and laughed at the pure perfection of it.  and my arms, the ones I once held around my own empty self were full of two more people I am too weak to mother well.

Not too long ago I sat across from a treasured friend talk about how she chases one high of sorts after the next, trying to heighten the dullness of this existence. After the kids go to bed, it seems necessary, and I understood.

I too have sat within the uncomfortable bounds of this time and space and ached for the eternity I have been created for. I too have felt the weight of my own broken self, like a heavy blanket over my soul, growing desperate to escape it.

my husband and I joke when it gets too much. When the news is too heavy. When we don't know how it's all going to shake out. We say in dark humour "well hey! atleast we're getting the full human experience!"

It's a phrase reserved for when we're especially weak.

he was right, that green-eyed boy about one thing.

we are weak.

but God be praised.

he was wrong about the other bit.

and because of this, through His grace, I've got the grit for these days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1czuvSCXrUE


Six Months in New Hamsphire!

8.10.2019



In a few short days we get to celebrate six whole months of living in New Hampshire! Those photos above are from our hotel stay. They're an effort in finding joy during the in between of not knowing where we'll live and going a wee bit crazy from living in a hotel! They're a sweet reminder. To see how God has provided for us is quite a sweet thing. We have a home! a garden! budding friendships! 

If you have talked with me in the flesh as of late, I will have undoubtedly said how absolutely lovely this state is. In a million ways, New Hampshire is a meshing of all the places we hold dear (they even have a store that sells Finnish Fazer chocolate! and a pub that sells Guinness Stew that tastes similar to the stew from our honeymoon!) The one thing it does lack, of course, is the people that made our hearts tethered to the places we've called home.

Quite some time ago, I read a book called Born to Wander. It was an excellent read. It gave permission to understand that this feeling, this ache, isn't one to remedy. We're not home yet and it's okay-no, it's good-that we know this.  We haven't arrived yet at home.

Over the past decade of moving to and fro, there are several things I've found worth the while to ponder on, to find comfort in. Here's three: 

1.) God's omnipresence includes this space here.

While its anecdotal, I have yet to find a place that God is absent. I, as many a fellow believer, have felt seasons of such absence (and what a heavy season those are to those who call Christ their all,)  I have yet to be abandoned.  

When we first move and we hit an inevitable moment of recognizing loss, it can be easy to panic and wonder if we made the wrong call. It's easy to say we 'felt lead,' in good Christian fashion. Yet, there is quite a bit of moving our own feet in front of the other, of volunteering to move; of choosing to say yes. While there is what we call God's leading, there's also the fact that we chose it. Sometimes, if I'm not careful, I can feel like we may have missed where we should have gone or said 'yes' too prematurely. But this isn't the case, and even if it was!  God's here too. Which leads to my next thing.

2) He has good work prepared for this place. 

When we first moved back stateside - I assume as part of the culture shock of the return - I had a bit of a distaste for Americans. Sorry friends. "Oh, they're so loud! Oh! They always have so many opinions!" (says the american having an opinion. ) Especially the "American Jesus" (I still have feelings about this....) caused such a deep struggle in me. It took me a bit to realize how wrong I was in my position.  All people are treasured, immortal souls worth the time of knowing and caring and loving on. Even if they in good southern fashion, 'bless my heart.' ;)

 Whenever we move to a place, and I begin to feel disappointed or discouraged, I remember Ephesians 2:10.  "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

While my work as a home school parent is largely unmeasurable, God's been kind in showing me just how much the role of caretaker is akin to the role he took. In some very small way, functioning like this-as a servant giving up my right to stay in one place or be seen- means I get to do what he did>  Namely serve, leave his home, lay his life down for his friends.

I've grown to see the random flat mate that becomes a dear friend, the grocery worker who I get the chance to make legitimate conversation with, the mama at the park, the cynic that gives me the time of day...  All precious reminders of a God who sees; of a God who asks his people to show up and love his image bearers. This here. This all matters in time and space. For me it's a perpetual nod to what C.S Lewis says: 

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

It helps me frame my days in a new city and an old role. It assigns worth to what I normally, as a human prone to fear of man, productivity and performance, would assign little worth to. I treasure people in a way I don't know I would have had I not been a stranger so many times.

And lastly, when the ache of losing out on what could have been feels suffocating, I remember this:

3.) God has created a specific beauty reserved for this space.

 And I get the privilege of seeing it.

I have never seen the bio-diversity in such short distance like I have here in New Hampshire. I have mountains and oceans, Goldfinches and foxes and bears! and whales and big cities all within an hour.  In Alabama, the wonders of the insect population (seriously some of the coolest bugs I've ever seen.) and those magnolias....the gift of a good southern woman checking in on someone who's she's decided is one of her babies. There is no beauty quite like it. In Finland, goodness paragraphs have already been assigned, and the Midwest holds us as it's our treasured origin story. Colorado is just a whole separate world of wonder.... I could go on and on about each place we've had the chance to breath in and call home. There are wonders God has specifically reserved for each of his places. A note in the melody. And I've gotten to hear a few. I'm working hard to not take that for granted.

Rather than mourning the fact that I often do not get to hear the notes as long as I like, I try to relish the reality that I get a greater glimpse at the symphony.


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This six month mark is always a very bitter sweet mark for me and Ben. It typically is a heavy month of realizing that friendships take time, that real life is still here with its sorrows, that we're not on vacation (ha!) and that we have work to do here. Right now it means overtime and homeschooling and feeling a little weary and lonely.

But I saw a goldfinch yesterday eating my sunflower seeds. My tomatoes are ripening. I swear the Trader Joes cashiers are straight up certified counselors and we've grown. a lot.

Ben and I-with having to build and rebuild and build and rebuild a life have formed into creatures I don't know we'd recognize from the onset. It's been hard. I sometimes hate it. But it reminds me a lot of Eustace (ya'll know C.S. Lewis is my celebrity dinner guest forever.)

“Then the lion said—but I don’t know if it spoke—’You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off….
“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off—just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt—and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me—I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on—and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again.

We're both a bit of Eustace, and Aslan is continuing his work.

Before we moved anywhere - in our first year of marriage- we had a rocky time of things. A lot of hurts and poor communication. For whatever reason, Eustace continued to come to mind and so I hung this quote from the Voyage of the Dawn Treader on our old fridge:

“It would be nice and fairly nearly true, to say that 'from that time forth, Eustace was a different boy.' To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.”

The cure had begun.

It became a mantra of sorts when I wanted to give up on us (I'm sure I've written it on this blog a million times over.) And it still comes into my mind time to time.

The cure has begun.

I now know that as with every cup we're called to drink, there's God doing good work in us. Despite its changing taste, he continues to complete what he began. And I see it. The first six months feel like a painful pruning every. single. time. It hurts emotionally sometimes to a point there's a physical ache. Yet, it isn't void of growth. The cure has begun.

What a gift to have a regular reminder that God is at work and that he sustains; That we can't do the work, but He can; That he doesn't just send, but walks with us into where he calls us.

I hope that after all these years of going who knows where, I can rest in knowing that I've seen a few places and in each of them, we found Him there. So far, that has been the one truth I am convinced of. I remember telling Ben that. As a Christian who is prone to skepticism, I remember telling Ben how much I hope when I get close to dying that I would feel more confident that God is who He said He is. At the time, I wasn't sure.

Ten years later, and a million desperate prayers in between, I'm seeing that God's answering that hope bit by bit. I've grown confident like David  " I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."

I'm seeing it.

Cheers to six months! For however many more 'six months' we get, I'm grateful to call this place home.

The Flume Gorge :: New England Adventures

7.16.2019


When my dear friend from Montgomery came for a visit, I took advantage of her kind heart and adventurous spirit to check out some local places before Ben's family came. One of the places that has been on my list since before we moved was The Flume Gorge up in Fraconia area. It did not disappoint. 


When Ben's family arrived, the first adventure we went on was to the Flume. it's such a beautiful space and is significantly cooler due to the waterfall and walking between two rock faces. If you ever find yourself in NH and are looking for something to do, this is well worth your time. It's very kid friendly, although it isn't stroller friendly (stairs and waterfalls don't mix well with strollers.) but our kids loved the adventure of it.  (Ages: 2,4,6)


 Plants are very well identified as you walk along, and if you go the Flume website, they have a scavenger hunt that you can print out and later take to the information desk where they give stamps and stickers for completion (much to the delight of our little people!) There's a sweet gift shop and cafe of sorts. For tired little legs there's a bus that will take you up to the beginning of the flume gorge trail. Our kids quickly learned this and liked the adventure of the bus.

I think the Flume is one of our favorite places to date. We'll definitely take you this way if you come stay at the Sprague Bnb!