Friday, January 29, 2010

good pairing

You know how restaurants sometimes pair their meals with a suggested beverage? Well, I can't even begin to recommend a good wine to accompany lobster tails, but I can recommend reading Psalm 84 while listening to This House, by Sara Groves. If it were a menu item, it would read something like this:

This House, with Psalm 84
Savor this sweet, gentle melody while the beautifully-crafted story unfolds with a rare and surprising authenticity. The accompanying psalm brings out subtle notes of separation and reunion, growth and calling, sojourn and homecoming. Indeed, He has withheld no good thing.

Read here. Listen here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

prayer scraps

A few [very] scattered thoughts on prayer...

prayer beyond communication and into communion
not simplified to merely thinking about God or talking to God -- prayer as being with God
for people who depend upon verbal ability... prayers of short and simple truths that sink in deeply
mental preoccupations becoming prayer
"prayer is our work and our work is prayer"
prayer that allows the Holy Spirit to pray in me
in the midst of chaos, a heart at rest in prayer
rhythms of life as spaces for prayer

These scraps of ideas might crystallize before I lead a workshop on prayer as a spiritual discipline next Saturday... or they might not, and that's probably just as well.

If you're in the area and want to spend time exploring spiritual disciplines in preparation for Lent, come to JKPC on Saturday, 2/6, 9:00-12:30 (childcare provided).

they said it

(no reason)
Nate: I'm so brave. I'm not even scared when a snake tickles my toes.


(just stringing together words and adding suffixes as he sees fit)
Dexter: Can I have the fivest one that I want?


(at dinner)
Nate: Can I have some more teeter tots?


(overheard while the boys were playing together)
Dexter: Nate, you're a nice brother. You don't hit me. I like you, Nate.


(telling Jon about our day)
Nate: We saw the magnolia trees!
Jon: Which ones are the magnolia trees?
Nate: They look like a tree full of uvulas.

Not a bad description...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

playing the game

Nate has a game he likes to play at snack time. He holds up a graham cracker (or multiple graham crackers carefully pressed together), and asks "How many graham crackers do I have?" The goal, of course, is to try to trick the other person into thinking you have one when you actually have more, or vice versa.

Naturally, Dexter has to try to do everything Nate does. Here is a video of Dexter trying to play this game with me.

He knows the basic script, more or less. He knows how to hold his hands, when to keep them still and when to move them. But he clearly has no grasp of the underlying fundamentals of the game.

This feels uncomfortably familiar to me.

Are we like this in our worship? We know the script. We know when to stand, when to kneel, when to sit. Do we have a clue what we are doing? Why it matters? If it matters?

My two-year-old is teaching me:

1. Motions and words ≠ knowledge.
2. Keep watching and imitating.
3. Smile and have fun while you try, even if you're not doing it right.
4. The game gets a lot more fun as you grow into it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

dexter prayer

Last night after Jon prayed with the boys, Dexter said he wanted to pray too. Here's what he prayed:

Dear God, we pray for Robenson for the buildings that falled down and for Emily for she can help all her friends. In Jesus' Name we pray, Amen.

Translation: Robenson is the child we sponsor through Compassion in Haiti. We have been praying for him all week and for the whole country. We haven't heard official word about Robenson but we did learn that he lives quite far away from Port-au-Prince, so we are hopeful that he is OK. So, you're probably wondering... who is Emily? Um... that would be Thomas' friend Emily... the TRAIN. Two things near and dear to the heart of our two year old: the situation in Haiti, and trains.

our new adoption blog

We have a new home for all our adoption information and updates: We Are Adopted. I have moved all of my adoption-related posts from the last few months over to that site and will be posting future updates there. I'll keep the half-finished thoughts, stories, poems, and ramblings coming at this site, but now you don't have to sift through it all if you really just want to get info on our adoption.

Peace, and a blessed Martin Luther King, Jr Day to you!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

tyrannosaurus dex

There is nothing funnier to me than when my two-year-old is really good and mad. He scowls. He stomps. He lets you know, in no uncertain terms, that he is not happy and you are gonna hear about it. Here are just a few of the things I have heard him say in anger over the past 24 hours:

I will flush you down the toilet!

I will spit you into the crocodile's mouth!

I'm gonna bite your boo-boo!

Thankfully he has not been able to make good on any of these promises...

Monday, January 11, 2010


Bits and pieces of life and culture that made me laugh, cry, think, and become more like myself in 2009.

Books: Beyond Deserving, by Dorothy Martyn and There Is No Me Without You, by Melissa Fay Greene

Author Melissa Fay Greene with Ethiopian children

Songs: When The Saints, by Sara Groves and No More Tears, by Sandra McCracken

Art: Forgive Thy Brother, by Scott Erickson

Website: Twitter

Album: Curse Your Branches, by David Bazan

I took this picture on my phone. Great night.

Movies: The Hangover, Up, and Into Great Silence

The Carthusian Monastery featured in Into Great Silence

TV shows: Dexter, Madmen, 16 & Pregnant/Teen Mom

Miscellaneous: home-grown raspberry jam, blastocystis hominis, and bittersweet transitions.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Someday I want to have a chicken coop in the backyard. I think chickens would be good pets: they stay outside, they are fun for kids, and they do something useful by providing delicious eggs.

I recently learned something interesting about chickens and now I can't stop thinking about it. Did you know that when a baby chick is hatching it is very important to leave it alone and not help? The time that a baby chick spends struggling to peck its way out of the egg is a critical for their development, as they engage and strengthen the muscles they will need in their new life outside the egg. To intervene in this process with the intention of "helping" them is, in actuality, to stunt their maturity and readiness for life as a baby chick.

Sometimes I feel like I am this hatching chick. As I peck furiously at the blinding world, I can make out figures -- silhouettes gathered around me. Are they really just standing there watching? Surely they could give me a hand and crack off a section of shell! Can't they see my desperate desire for emergence, for arrival, for apprehension of this hinted-at life beyond my knowledge?

But that is love, isn't it? To let the egg hatch in its time. To respect the process, the struggle, the unseen development and strengthening. And so I am loved: watched excitedly, cheered on enthusiastically -- loved, and not helped.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

they said it: one liners

Dexter: My feeling is hurt.


Me: Boys, we don't wrestle in elevators!

(Snow-wrestling on the other hand...)


Nate: Hey Dexter, are you ready for adventure? For danger? For death?!

(I was relieved to find out that this is a quote from Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Yes, the movie quotes continue.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

you can't handle the truth

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15

Honesty is a tricky thing. God commands it and legal systems depend upon it, but when it comes to human relationships the waters are muddy. Sure, we all say that we value honesty in our spouse, friends, children, and co-workers. But truthfully, these human relationships would not survive unchecked honesty. If a person honestly spoke every thought, opinion, and feeling out loud, they would be downright intolerable (case in point: the movie Liar Liar).

In human communication there is an unspoken expectation, not of honesty alone, but rather honesty that is tempered by tact and utility. Our response to true but hurtful words is often either "Couldn't you have found a nicer way to say that?" (i.e. no tact) or "Why would you say that to me?" (i.e. no good purpose or utility).

In addition to the honesty, tact, and utility that decent human beings require, God directs us toward another element in our interpersonal communication: love. Love desires God's best for its beloved. When communication is rooted in both truth and love, it will naturally incorporate tact (speaking kindly) and utility (speaking for a good purpose). The problem, however, is that most of us don't want to hear the truth, even if it is spoken in love. And likewise, some of us don't want to be loved, even if it is the truth.

Sometimes I find it simply miraculous that any of us are able to have one moment of true communion with each another. But we do... thanks be to God.