Posted in Faith

The Hypostatic Union’s Greatest Hits (and Heresies)

Note: This post was created in partial fulfillment of an assignment for a course in theology.

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth”

-John 1:14, NRSV

In the spring of 2009, I got laid off from my teaching job. In true public education fashion, we four budget casualties were given our pink slips during our planning times then sent back to our classrooms to serve our students while processing life-altering news. If you work in education, this surprises you not even a little bit.

When I finally got home that evening, I flung myself on the couch and ugly-sobbed.  In that moment, I felt/saw/sensed Jesus sitting next to me, gazing into my snot-and-tear-stained face. “I know,” I felt him convey, “I get it. I’ve been human in this world. It’s so hard. I can’t take this from you, but I can be here with you.”

In that moment, I understood why the Incarnation matters. In theology, “the Incarnation” refers to Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus was God incarnate on earth. Jesus was fully God, God was fully present in human form in Jesus. This is also referred to as the hypostatic union, which I think sounds like a band name. I even asked social media what genre of music they thought “The Hypostatic Union” would be, scroll to the end of the post for that list.

The word hypostatic comes from the Greek hypostatis, meaning “entity” (if you heard the dad from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” talking when you read that, you are my people). Christians believe that God the Father and Jesus the Son are two hypostases sharing one ousia, or being. This belief actually extends to all three persons of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. *crosses self* We’ll save pneumatology (theology about the Holy Spirit) for another day, however, today is about Christology (theology about Jesus). 

How can God and Jesus be the same person and yet distinct? In meme language: If two, then how one?

Continue reading “The Hypostatic Union’s Greatest Hits (and Heresies)”
Posted in Faith

Tell Me Without Telling Me: Genesis, Tiamat, and the Women of Babylon

NOTE: This post was created as final project for a course in Old Testament studies.

There’s a meme all over social media right now, “Tell me without telling me.” It’s basically about making things obvious without coming right out and saying them. Here are a couple of examples:

Them: Tell me you’re from Portland without telling me you’re from Portland. 
Me: Well, I started my day with a VooDoo Donut and some Stumptown Coffee. or My Netflix password is RipCity1977 (it’s not, by the way). 

Them: Tell me you’re a mom without telling me you’re a mom.
Me: I washed crayon off my walls and vacuumed cheerios out of my minivan yesterday.

In my first two semesters of Old Testament study, I’ve discovered that God’s “tell me without telling me” game is immaculate. The truths conveyed on the pages of Scripture go way beyond just the words that are printed on the page. I have also learned that the methodology for making meaning out of text and discovering these hidden-in-plain-sight truths is called hermeneutics. The Oxford Languages website defines hermeneutics as “the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts.” For our purposes today, we can think of hermeneutics as the lenses we use to search Scripture for what God might be telling us without telling us.  

In this post, we are going to examine the creation account in Genesis 1 and use two hermeneutical lenses to see what the Scripture may be “telling us without telling us” in its verses. We are going to compare and contrast Genesis 1 with another account of creation, Enuma Elish. Then we are going to use a “feminist lens” to see what God might have been “saying without saying” to and about women by telling the story of creation in the specific way that God did. 

Continue reading “Tell Me Without Telling Me: Genesis, Tiamat, and the Women of Babylon”
Posted in Faith, Family

When You’ve Got No Clue How to Parent

He tends his flock like a shepherd;
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.”
-Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)

Have you ever had a season of parenting that you were deeply unsure how to navigate? To be fair, that’s every season of parenting for me. But there are some moments that are more profoundly uncertain than others, moments when I feel not only like I have no earthly clue what to do with and for my children, but I don’t even know how to help them.

I’m there right now. I will spare you the details because my kids are old enough to care right now about me spilling their beeswax, but suffice to to say that it involves epic meltdowns, me getting screamed at, and a child goofing off with their friends at inappropriate times. We have no clue what to do here. UGHHHH!!! WHY IS IT SO HARD?

Jeff and I are not the first parents to feel this way- not now, and not throughout history. In this blog post, I’m going to share what God had to say VERY CLEARLY AND EMPHATICALLY to me during one such season and also what Yahweh had to say to our forbears in the faith, the people of ancient Judah, when it came to navigating uncertain terrain.

When Cam, the older of my two kids, was about 8 months old, he lapsed into an epic sleep regression. Four months of fighting bedtime for hours, refusing naps, awake for 2-3 hours every single night. It was BAD, bad. WICKED BAD! If you want to play the “Well, did you try…” game, the answer is yes we did. We tried it all and nothing worked. I questioned every decision I made and cried buckets. I got a maximum of five interrupted hours of sleep each night for four months on end and spent at least as much time each day and night trying, either actively or passively, to get him to sleep.

One night, I sat in the glider in his nursery, rocking a stubbornly wide-awake Mister Cameron, with my heart aching so profoundly that I felt physical pain in my body. He needed sleep badly and I did not know how to help him get it. We were both beyond exhausted and I didn’t know what to do.

As I rocked, I asked God to give me a Scripture- any Scripture, to help. I was not even picky about what the verse had to offer- comfort, guidance, whatever. I just needed a WORD in that moment. Not often do I hear concrete words in my head from God, but in that moment I clearly heard,

“Isaiah 40:11”

And that was it.

No lines upon which to meditate, just an unfamiliar address that, as far as I could recall, meant nothing to me. “SO! UNHELPFUL!” I huffed to myself (and also to God) and continued rocking away, grumbling about random Bible addresses that WERE NOT IN THE LEAST BIT HELPFUL IN MY MOMENT OF TRIAL!

Awhile later, after I had placed him in his crib and retired to my own bed to listen to him not sleeping on the baby monitor, I finally remembered to look up Isaiah 40:11.

It reads, in the NIV which is the Bible I was using at the time:

“He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.”

I felt all breath whoosh out of my body and I physically doubled over with the impact those words had on me.

First of all, one thing to know about me is that Handel’s Messiah, Handel in general really, is my jam. This is a text from a Messiah aria, it’s the front half of “He Shall Feed His Flock/Come Unto Him,” which is generally sung by the Mezzo-Soprano and the Soprano soloists. I had never sung “He Shall Feed His Flock” portion as it’s typically done by a Mezzo, but I had sung the “Come Unto Him” part more times than I can count and just hearing the introduction makes me weep because it’s so gorgeous.

Take a listen here (this singer does both halves herself):

The personal hug from God aside, the imagery associated with the verse is breathtaking, and its implications for a struggling parent are powerful.

“He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart. He gently leads those who have young.”

In a moment when I felt I was failing to sooth and comfort my child, I pictured God holding Cameron close to His heart- so close that Cam could hear God’s heart beating. We are told as parents that our heartbeats are very soothing to infants because of the months they spent in the womb, cocooned in warmth and safety to the rhythm of a heartbeat. Skin-to-skin contact is scientifically proven to have a measurable impact on attachment and on babies’ vital signs. The imagery here is incredibly powerful: God holding Cam close and soothing him when I could not, holding him so close that Cam could hear God’s heartbeat, which would be even more nascent to him than mine…just wow.

And gently leading those with young! It’s me. I’m “those with young.” God could carry Cam and lead me on my journey with him at the same time.

What’s more, I realized that to God, I am also a lamb. He also gathers me in His arms and carries me close to His heart. I’m His child every bit as much as my children are and the while the world is quick to look past a mom and her needs to those of her child, God is not.

In terms of context within the Bible, Isaiah chapter 40 begins what many scholars call “Second Isaiah,” a group of prophecies that are widely believed to have been penned during the exile of the people of Judah in Babylon. Jerusalem had been gutted by Babylonian troops and the Temple, the place where the Judeans’ faith held that Yahweh resided and was to be worshipped, had been burned to the ground. Much of the Judean population had been taken into exile in the city of Babylon where they were forced to learn to do life in a foreign culture and to wonder where their God was, both physically and metaphorically. The Temple was no more, they were far from their promised land, what comfort was there for them? Had Yahweh abandoned them? First Isaiah (Chapters 1-39) contains some scoldings, admonishments and warnings about the cost of unfaithfulness to Yahweh – one might even conjecture that the Judean people had landed their very own selves in exile by their disobedience and failure to keep Yahweh’s laws. If they were anything like me, many Judeans might have actually believed this to be true and would have carrying worry and guilt as they wondered how to raise their children in an unprecedented situation.

Despite all of that, Isaiah 40 begins with the words, “Comfort ye, my people” (which, incidentally, are also the first words sung in The Messiah). Isaiah 40 speaks comfort to a people who are unsure what to do next, a people who surely had to be wondering how to raise their children under these new circumstances. They are reminded that Yahweh is with them guiding their steps, protecting them and their children, even when they don’t know what steps to take.

Back to my present moment. I’m questioning my decisions in this moment, even questioning whether my decisions in the past have CAUSED this moment. So that’s fun. I’m writing this post more for me than for anyone else, I needed to be reminded of this story today and I figured it was time to write it down so the details don’t escape me next time I come into a similar season, because it’s not like it ever stops happening, right?

I’m going to end this post by encouraging you to meditate for a moment on Isaiah 40:11. What images does it bring to mind that you can hold close to your heart? In what ways do you need for God to hold you close right now? In what ways do you need guidance with your “young?” What comfort can you draw from the knowledge that God holds your babies, no matter how old they are, at all times- when you’re holding them yourself and when you can’t? I am going to hold these images close to my heart in the coming hours and days. I may not make all the right decisions because I’m not perfect, but God is carrying my kids and me along the way. Praying for His comfort for me, for them, and for you and yours.

Posted in Faith

This is Why You’re Struggling in 2021

Someone dropped this meme in a group text the other day. When I first saw it, I thought the pic was photoshopped- a ship that large couldn’t possibly be stuck in actual mud with a tiny excavator trying to dig it out. Now, you better believe I still saved it to my phone and texted it to basically everyone I knew because it’s so darned relatable. But still, the photo was so ludicrous that I assumed it had been cobbled together by someone with a sense of humor and a knack for photo editing.

Later that day, however, I realized the photo was real. I’m sure you’ve heard about the mammoth container ship that was stuck in the Suez Canal until just a few hours ago, blocking traffic through one of the world’s busiest shipping channels. While reading a news story, I realized the image in the meme was an actual picture of an actual excavator trying dig out the Ever Given so that the nearly 300 other ships waiting outside the canal could resume their voyages, saving the already tenuous global economy from a shipping trade kerfuffle that could have ripple effects for years. Go, Little Digger, go!

When I last set fingers to keyboard on this blog almost a year and a half ago, it was November of 2019. That’s approximately 16 months in linear time, but in life experience years, it’s been about a decade. If, on the day I published my last blog post, I had texted myself a series of snapshots of life from March 2020 to March 2021, I’m pretty sure my response would have been the same as when I first saw that meme above. “That can’t possibly be real.”

Let’s take a minute to imagine what we would have thought if our 2021 self had texted our 2019 self images from the past year. Let’s start with those that are shared: masked people standing six feet apart from one another, closed schools, empty public spaces, overflowing hospitals, hundreds of thousands dead in our own country and millions across the world, widespread protests and spectacular political unrest.

Now let’s move to our own personal images because it seems like the past year has brought a disproportionate share of tragedy, trauma, and change to individuals and families in ways that are unrelated to the pandemic: lost jobs, cancer diagnoses, deaths by heart attack, suicide, and car accidents- and those are just off the top of my head from my own life and circle.

And then there are the intangibles: the grief…the exhaustion…the political tension…the isolation…the labor of hoisting our entire families on our backs and carrying them through circumstances we’re having a hard time navigating ourselves…the lost sleep…the lost events and experiences…the lost TIME…and let’s not forget the anger, I have heard so many friends mention processing deep anger and resentment at whole litany of people and circumstances…

It’s hard to imagine which of the images from the past year my 2019 self would have found the hardest to believe, but I think I have a guess:

It would be an image of me a few weeks ago, standing in the shower in a darkened bathroom, doubled over with body-wracking sobs, wondering what was wrong with me that I was so exhausted and unable to cope. My thoughts were racing and fixating on things like age, mortality, unstoppable change, and the inevitable grief that seems to be waiting as the years march on. The peace that passes understanding which was supposed to be guarding my heart and mind in Christ Jesus was inaccessible and I felt like a fraud of a Christian.

To be clear, it’s not the “sobbing in the shower” part that would have surprised me. I don’t think I would have even been surprised at my struggles with change and mortality, issues which I had previously barely even poked at let alone obsessed over. When taken in the context of the other images, those of grief, loss, and unchosen change, it would have made perfect sense to 2019 Tori that 2021 Tori was struggling with these things.

No, what would have shocked me is the “wondering what was wrong with me” part. If I was sitting there looking at an image of my emotional breakdown in the context of the other images from the past year, it would have boggled my mind that I couldn’t see why I was struggling.

And I know it’s not just me. I hear the same words coming from friends and family as well: we can’t understand why we can’t get it together, why we are so darned exhausted all the time. It seems like linear time has been lying to us, letting the fact that these events have unfolded over time make us blind to the full scope and cumulative impact of what we’ve all experienced over the past year. Maybe it’s our coping mechanisms, which haven’t really let us sit with all we’ve been through and experienced and now our bodies are rebelling and we’re confused about why since we’ve had to engage in a fair amount of denial to just to be able to to our jobs.

It could also have something to do with the fact that things are actually looking up a little bit- I know that seems weird, but hear me out. In college, I would come home after finals week and crash. I would sometimes even get physically sick and inevitably, I would cry (because crying is how I process emotion and since I haven’t grown out of it yet, I doubt I will). It was like I had pushed myself through what had to be done, did what I had to do, and then when it was finally over, I truly could let down and deal with all of the stress and tension I had walked through during the term at school and, especially, during final exams.

Spring is peeking out in more ways than one right now. Vaccinations have started (I’ve had both shots and am days from reaching full immunity), here in Oregon schools are re-opening and sports are resuming, we are starting to think about things like seeing family members and planning vacations, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. In our family, my husband just got a job offer, five months after being laid off from the company where he’d worked for 14 years and planned to retire from. We are starting to let down and I think the post-finals crash is in full effect.

The trauma isn’t over, not by a long shot. Just got a message from a friend who is trying to negotiate school re-opening as an administrator in a district that is not handling the process well and I could hear the burden in her voice. My kids are enjoying their return to school, but the masks and distancing will inevitably get old and the honeymoon will end in spectacular fashion, leaving me to hoist them on my back once again and carry them through. And people are still dying, the political tension and polarization continues, our personal losses and struggles remain…and we are exhausted.

I wish this was the part of the post where I gave you answers to all of this, but unfortunately I have none. The purpose of this post is not to tell you how to handle it all, but to encourage you to go easy on yourself and take heart because there is a reason you feel like this. Dozens of reasons, actually. Also, I want to encourage you to take care of yourself. Drink fluids, move your body every day (which is so hard when you’re exhausted), find something light to watch on TV (I highly recommend the Great British Baking Show), eat something even when you don’t feel like it (almonds and jerky are high in protein), and don’t take yourself too seriously if you can help it.

And reach out. To a friend, family member, TO YOUR DOCTOR. Counseling, meds, whatever it takes to get you through this, do it.

And, for the moment, let’s spend some time with God. Because He sees each of us, knows us better than we know ourselves, and wants to minister to our hearts and heal us right now.

Find a comfortable place to sit, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Picture yourself exhaling the grief, tension, anxiety, and toxic fumes of the world and breathing in the sweet, peaceful perfume of the Kingdom of God. World air out, Kingdom air in.

1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you.” That is both deep truth and holy invitation. God is the best listening ear you can imagine, strong enough to carry your burdens and powerful enough to help you with them. So take a minute and just unload on the Father who loves you. Tell Him everything you’re feeling, your fears, your hopes, even your anger- ESPECIALLY if you’re angry with Him. I know that sounds weird, but this is a relationship and He wants to talk through it with you, He can handle it. Ask Him to draw your heart and mind to anything you may be missing, any burdens you may be carrying and pain you may be feeling that you haven’t recognized yet. And let yourself just sit with it all, sit in His presence, knowing you’re not alone with this- you are NEVER alone. Open your heart and make room for Him to respond to you…this is easier said than done and I don’t have a magic formula, but know that it gets easier the more you do it. The more chances you give Him to speak, the more attuned you’ll become to the way He speaks to you- just to YOU, in His own special just-for-you way- so if you don’t hear or feel anything right now, take heart. Just opening the door is enough for now.

These next moment are for you and God, the two of you together in ways that I can’t speak to because they’ll be just for you and Him. It may be powerful, it may be peaceful, and it may not feel like much of anything- and that’s ok. When you’re ready, move into the rest of your day with these words in your heart:

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In those words is a reassurance that trouble is normal. The presence of trouble in our lives doesn’t mean we are doing it wrong, Jesus promised we would have trouble. But there’s a promise that He can overcome it. I don’t know what that looks like right now. I’ve watched Him overcome my troubles in the past but I haven’t seen yet how He’s going to overcome the ones I’m worried about right now. At the deepest and very most basic, it’s the assurance of heaven, so I’m holding on to that.

Jesus says that he leaves us his peace, but I leave you this meme. Seems a fitting end to this particular diatribe. I love you, friends.

Posted in Faith

Daft Punk, Pharell Williams, and God With Us

Sometimes, God shows up in the form of Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams.

I mean, maybe not. But hear me out, here.

God has been doing A LOT of work with me this summer in the area of…well, a lot of areas. But they all kind of point to the same thing:  my worth to Him is not tied up in my job performance, I’m not only as valuable as the Important Things I Do For the Kingdom.

I matter to Him because I matter to Him, and He goes with me everywhere- even in the things that I don’t feel are, like, super important Kingdom Work.

Like dress shopping.

I walked into Nordstrom Rack this weekend with knot of dread in the pit of my stomach because I could make you a list a mile long of ways that 41 is better than 21 and dress shopping would not be on that list.  Just, ew.

The automatic doors slid open for me, I walked through them and surveyed the landscape of what would be my own personal gauntlet for the next however long it took me to accomplish the task at hand. I couldn’t see my own face but I imagine I was sporting a lip curl marking both disdain and misgivings.

But then, I was instantly snapped from my self-pity by what I thought I recognized as a familiar combination of rhythm guitar and falsetto croon emanating from the tinny speakers in the store’s ceiling. “Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?” I thought to myself, sounding in my head very much like Li’l Wayne pouring champagne on a Samsung Galaxy in that one commercial.  “I mean, this sure sounds like Daft Punk and Pharrell but sure they are not playing that in Nordstrom Ra- why, I’ll be. The sure as heck are….”

Nordstrom Rack feels like more of a Taylor Swift/Ed Sheeran scene than a Daft and Pharell scene.  But there they were, soothing my eardrums and threatening to make me lose myself to dance right next to the Max Studio blazers (which I got one, by the way.  Huge sale, super cute).  And I knew right then in that moment that it was all going to be OK.

It was like God was reminding me, through the insertion of my jammy jam into a most unexpected environment, that me going dress shopping mattered to Him.  It’s not that the dress itself was important- although it could be, God can use absolutely anything to move mountains (as evidenced by the way this most secular of musical pieces moved my heart to remember Him). It mattered because I was doing it and I matter to Him.  He was with me because He is always with me, lovingly holding even the minutiae of my life in His tender and all-powerful care, because that’s who He is and what He does for those He has created and called (that’s me and you, by the way. Even if you haven’t heard Him calling, that doesn’t mean He’s not calling).

So remember that today, as you go about doing whatever it is that you happen to be going about doing.  He’s with you because He loves you. The things you are doing matter to Him because you matter to Him.  It doesn’t have to feel like Super Important Kingdom Work or one giant leap toward His Great Purpose for You. He made you just as you are and He delights in You. You are precious to Him.  And whether you are serving the poor, weeding your yard (blech), or shopping for shoes or dresses or what have you, He is with you because YOU MATTER TO HIM. And now, jam out to some Daft Punk.

Posted in Faith

Making Room for God

6:38 am on Monday. The Dude, my almost seven-year-old early riser, is out of bed, dressed, and clunking distractedly through his morning routine. The Superhero Princess, four-and-a-half, is still sleeping in her room and I will not dare wake her until about one minute before we have to leave to take her brother to school. Not a morning person myself (The Dude gets that from his father), I groggily set a piece of toast and a banana on the kitchen island in front of The Dude and shuffle on slipper-clad feet back into the living room.

On the way, I try not to trip over the shoes, coats, and backpacks randomly strewn throughout the entryway, in desperate need of some organization. I heave a deep sigh as I plod past our dining room table, piled high with the remnants of yesterday’s car clean-out, begging to be sorted. On the adjacent sectional sofa sit three piles of laundry my husband had “done” the previous day and left for me to sort and fold. The demands are calling. The expectations are pressing in. The hustle that this day, and every day, requires is beginning anew.

But before I tackle any of it, I make my way over to the aforementioned easy chair with a cup of tea and pull a blanket onto my lap. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, let it out, and then…I just sit. I breathe in, I breathe out, I whisper a word or two of prayer or scripture to help my wandering mind focus, and I just sit. I don’t pick up my devotional, I don’t open my Bible, I don’t even put words to my prayers yet, except maybe to tell God, “Good morning.” I use these very first moments I have to myself this day to cultivate stillness and make room for God.

Read more of this post on the Kindred Mom Blog

Posted in Faith, Foundation 2019

God Has No Prerequisites

I went to college back in the days before online registration.   This was the era when email, the Backstreet Boys, Zima, and body glitter, were the hottest new things on the scene.  And in those days, you had to call in from an actual landline phone in your dorm room to register for classes.

Note: I’d like to give a special nod to anyone reading this who remembers the days before you could even call in to register.  You are warriors.

A week or so before the registration period we would pick up thick course catalogues and spend the next few days highlighting which classes we needed to take, which “sections” (aka dates and times) we preferred, and what our backups would be if our first choices were full.  Then, at a time divinely appointed to each of us (aka assigned alphabetically by the Office of the Registrar), we would call into an automated system and follow the prompts to choose our courses.  I remember waiting with baited breath on the other end of that phone line to hear the blessed words, “ED 211 is available.” And heaven forbid you punched in your numbers wrong, then you had to start all over.

In the days leading up to and following registration, I would pore through the catalogues much more thoroughly than was probably necessary.  I’ve always been curious about what life is like for people who have taken different paths than I have, and the Oregon State University course catalogue gave me a small window into other students’ lives.  A vocal music and elementary education major myself,  I would often flip through the sections for other areas of study, particularly science and math-heavy areas like physics, biology, or engineering.  Since it was all sooooo far out of my comfort zone and what I perceived to be my capabilities, I found it utterly fascinating.  In fact, a decade later I married a guy who had actually been a chemical engineering major at the same college at the same time. I wonder if I ever browsed descriptions of the courses he had to take. How romantic..

What fascinated me the most about these course descriptions were the prerequisites , or “prereqs” (pronounced pre-wrecks) listed below the course descriptions.  These were the  classes that one had to have completed before one would even be allowed to enroll in the course being described.  In order to take some of the 300 and 400-level science classes, you had to have taken a lot of other science classes, and don’t even get me started on the math.  Some of them even had grades associated with it. Not only did you have to have completed differential calculus, you had to have gotten at least an 80% in the course.  Lord, have mercy.

Do you see that right there? That’s what I’m taking about!!!! Fun fact:  my husband actually took this course as an undergraduate.

I admired the folks who were “smart enough” to hack it in these fields, to have taken all of the advanced calculus and organic chemistry and whatnot, perhaps that’s why I eventually married one of them. But I never got as far as trying it for myself.  I would inevitably drop the dogeared tome in the recycle bin (in Oregon we were already recycling in the 90’s), and blissfully turn my attention to whatever child development or music history courses my “right-brained” self would be partaking in the next term.

It seems like many of us take a similar approach to our faith journeys.  We are curious about God, interested in deepening our faith, perhaps even admiring of others’ relationships with Jesus. We feel a tug on our hearts to get closer to Him- and why wouldn’t we?  Connection with God is what we were created for.  As Martin Laird puts it, “God is our homeland. And the homing beacon of the human being is homed on God.”  Continue reading “God Has No Prerequisites”

Posted in Faith, Foundation 2019

How to Make it Snow (Psalm 37:4)

Take delight in the lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
-Psalm 37:4

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
-Matthew 6:21


Here in Portland, OR, snow is a novelty.  We are a snow-loving family and so when we see even a 10% chance of the white stuff in the forecast, we get excited.  We engage in all sorts of ridiculous shenanigans trying to magically get snow to materialize. Like many other families, we flush ice cubes down the toilet and wear our jammies inside out. My husband swears that not remembering to get the snow tires put on the car is a surefire way to ensure it snows (but of course, he does it anyway because he’s The Daddy and that’s now he rolls). My daughter insists that she can channel Queen Elsa and make snow and ice appear with just a stomp of her foot. My would-be Jedi Padawan believes he can use The Force to choke the snow right out of the clouds.  Personally, I have learned that it’s more likely to snow if I’m not expecting it, so I try not to expect (which is a bit of an oxymoron, but whatever). In any case, we will try everything in our power to make the snow we so hope for materialize.

It’s tempting to take this same approach to Psalm 37, verse 4, which says, “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  At first glance, that scripture can make it seem as if taking delight in the Lord is the spiritual equivalent of flushing ice cubes down the toilet. If we delight ourselves in God, then we can get what we want, as if Godly delight-taking somehow magically moves the heart of God to see things our way.

Now, there is probably a kernel of truth in that approach.  Scripture teaches us that prayer and praise can move the heart of God.  For example, the Old Testament tells about several times when Moses changed God’s mind and kept Him from wiping out tribes upon tribes of Israelites in His Holy fury at their disobedience. God is, after all, a loving father and friend and as in any relationship, our conversations, interactions, and feelings matter to one another and can hold sway on the way things unfold.

However, if we stop there, believing the only thing at play here is the need to say a few flattering words to or about God in order to get on His Most High Holy Good Side, boy we are missing out.  Not only we will end up staring out the window with our jammies on inside out wondering why it’s not snowing, but we will miss out on massive amounts of grace and blessings that are waiting for us. Continue reading “How to Make it Snow (Psalm 37:4)”

Posted in Faith, Foundation 2019

Shutting Down the “Shouldstorm”


This post is part of my Foundation 2019 series.  Read why I chose “Foundation” as my word for the year here.

I live much of my life right smack dab in the middle of what I call a “Shouldstorm.”

I sit here as I type this staring at a pile of unfolded laundry, not even showered yet, with a to-do list a mile long and only about 45 minutes before I have to pick up my daughter from preschool and the winds are starting to kick up. “You should be folding that laundry- matter fact, you should have folded it right away, it shouldn’t even be sitting there.  And while you’re at it, you should walk right past those laundry machines and organize the storage area. And you haven’t worked out in awhile, you should be doing a better job of working that into your life because you should be back your pre-babies weight by now…”

It always feels like there are a million things I should be doing at any given moment.  The ones I’m neglecting needle and nag me, I barely have the time and bandwidth for the ones I am doing, and let’s not even discuss the things I probably should be doing that I don’t even know about. It’s a veritable maelstrom of “shoulds,” so I call it a “shouldstorm.” Note: if you  happen to hear in the term “should-storm” a striking auditory similarity to another “stormy” term that features a more colorful sh-word (aka “sh*tstorm”), I assure you that it’s not even a little bit coincidental. 

I’d like to be able to to say that it began when I became a mom, and motherhood has definitely ramped the storm it up to a category 5 hurricane.  But if I’m honest with myself, it’s always been like this for me.  Ever since my teen years, I’ve struggled with the feeling that there’s something else or something more I should be doing, some other way I should be- It’s like FOMO (fear of missing out) and FONBE (fear of not being enough) all rolled into one. Continue reading “Shutting Down the “Shouldstorm””

Posted in Faith, Foundation 2019

Noah-Level Communication

This post is part of my Foundation 2019 series.  Read why I chose “Foundation” as my word for the year here.


In 2019, I’m doing the Bible in One Year reading plan in the YouVersion app.  I think it’s absolutely the greatest thing ever for two reasons:

  1. They’ve got it all planned out for you and locked and loaded with an AUDIO OPTION. All I have to do is plug-in my headphones and press “play” and the daily devotion teaching and the assigned passages of scripture play back to back to back right into my ears and I don’t have to do a thing.
  2. The devotions are done by Nicky Gumbel and his wife, Pippa, and they are absolutely delightful. I first encountered him when I did the Alpha Course years ago at the Episcopal church I was attending in Lakewood, WA and he is quite possibly the Britishest dude ever.  He used to work as a “barrister” before becoming a “vicar” and I just love listening to every gracious word he says.  I’m getting so, so much out of his and Pippa’s insights, possibly more than I’ve ever gotten out of any other plan or study.

One dark, frosty morning in very early January, my husband and I headed out before the sun was even up to drop our car off at the dealership to see if they could finally figure out what is making that infernal squeaking noise in the heating system.  On the drive there, I listened to the daily readings, which included the story of Noah in Genesis.

God seems to dole out Scriptural insights to me incrementally, giving me a little more and a little more each time I listen to or read a passage.  This time, the thing that stuck out to me was the end of Noah’s time on the Ark, when he was trying to figure out when the time was right to get off of the boat.

I don’t know about you, but if I had been trapped on a boat with my entire extended family and a bunch of animals for weeks upon weeks, I would be getting off that boat at the very first sign of land and never looking back.

Not Noah.

First, he sent a raven.  Then he waited. Then he sent a dove. Then he waited. Then, he sent the dove again. Then he waited some more.

And not until the time was very perfectly exactly right, when the water had not only receded but the earth had sufficiently dried out, only then did he finally disembARK (see what I did there?).

What struck me about this was not so much Noah’s patience, although that is some remarkably significant patience being demonstrated right there, but the level of communication Noah has to have had with God- not only during the process of figuring out when to get off the boat, but through the whole entire saga. Continue reading “Noah-Level Communication”