Tuesday, October 19, 2010

anticipating amazing

We leave for Ethiopia in less than 48 hours. Everyone we know who has been anywhere in Africa tells us that going there was life-changing for them. It is a really strange to anticipate a life-changing event. I know I will be different when I come home, but I don't know exactly how I will be different. What parts of who I am will change? How will my post-Africa self view my current pre-Africa self? Will I ever learn to ask questions that aren't intrinsically egocentric? All of this remains to be seen.

I'm writing about these questions here because I'm not sure what will happen with this blog in the future. No matter what happens in Ethiopia, I am pretty sure I will still love to write when I come back. Still, there's a good chance this will be my last post here for at least a few weeks, so I didn't want to leave ya'll wondering. If you want to follow along on our trip and the ensuing adoption adventures, there's a link to that blog on the side bar.

In the meantime, Xavier Ibarket. (God bless you in Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

love wins

Life is so fragile. We make all these plans. We have all these expectations and goals and dreams. We say things like, "Maybe in 10 years I'll do [this or that]."

We hope for success. We grieve failure. We worry. We think we have it all when our interest rate is good, our cars are paid off, and our portfolio is gaining. We breathe a sigh of relief when our kids get good grades, our family holiday gatherings are drama-free, and our annual performance review comes in above-average.

All of this is as sure as our next breath. Can you guarantee that the next time your medulla oblongata tells your lungs to expand they'll do what they're told? And if they do, can you guarantee that fresh, life-giving air will fill them? No. None of us can.

If all we have to hope for is what stares us in the face every day -- our home, our job, our spouse, our friends, our family, our sense of self-worth -- we are [and I really want to cuss here but I won't]... screwed. If this life is all there is, our story is always a tragedy. Death wins.

Thank God our hope is not here. Thank God our hope is not in our next breath. Thank God death does not win. Out of love for us and a desire to bring glory to his Father, Jesus Christ conquered death once and for all, transforming our lives from a series of meaningless inhales and exhales into an eternal gift. Our hope rests in that transformation, in that grace, in that free offer of true, redeemed, everlasting life in the kingdom of God. There is absolutely nothing -- no accomplishment, no failure, no decision, no tragedy, nothing -- that can change this gift of God on which our hope securely stands. Love wins.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

too late, too soon.

Carly Henley, 1990-2010

I was going to finish my half-written post about how completely insane and overwhelming things are right now as we get ready to go to Ethiopia in 2 weeks. I was going to try a new timed poetry writing experiment today on the blog. I was going to gather some sweet quotes from my youngest and snap a cute picture to go alongside.

I can't do those things... I can't do much today. A mother, father, and step-father lost their daughter yesterday. Four young people lost their sister. Many, many others lost a cherished friend when 20 year old Carly Henley, a UW junior, an aspiring singer, an absolutely beautiful girl inside and out, took her own life yesterday.

If I could summarize the collective sentiment I have heard today it would be, "We had no idea."

My friend Chelsea is on my short list of awesome people I am privileged to know. She lives in another state and isn't connected to this story at all, but just so happened to have posted about teen suicide on her blog yesterday. She ends her post with these words, words we all need, words I will join her in saying:

you are loved. you, who are reading this post. you are loved and you do not walk through this world alone. whether you believe me or not the God of the universe, the one who thought up the ocean and whispered the stars into being loves you. and His love is steady- lean into it. His love saved me when no one else and nothing else could. he takes you, gay or straight, black or white, fat or thin. he accepts you in all your varying states of brokenness. he holds you. he loves you. but just in case that feels a little too far away, i want you to know something else: i love you too. my heart may not be as big as His, but it is big enough for you. if you are reading this and you need a soft place to land here it is. if you need someone to talk to, here i am. you are valued and worthy and loved. that's all. pretty simple.