29 September 2012


I adore Autumn. I love the bleached long grass against the evergreen coniferous trees next to the changing leaves of the deciduous as low fog clings to the earth and the sunlight peeks through the still full branches. I love the dark grey of the sky as it threatens to rain, the cool mornings and heated afternoons. I love the sunflowers just visible over all the fences and the apples and pears adorning each bushy fruit tree. I love the spices and the want of a warm fire and hot chocolate as you snuggle up next to your sweetheart in your favorite sweater while reading a good book. I love all the rich food featuring spectacular colors as well as every kind of squash imaginable and this wonderous time when orange, yellow, green, and brown can all come together without being a terrible 70's throwback. I adore Autumn.

I could wax on and on about how enamored I am with the season. I like Spring when all the green comes out and Summer is lovely with all it's sunshine and water fun and a true Winter with lots of snow is always appreciated. But there is nothing like Autumn. It's a time to be busy, a time for family, a time to appreciate all you have as you come back to earth after a selfish Summer. I love every piece of it. And I love that this is the first real season Rory is getting to experience. I think he looks so handsome in his long-sleeved onsies, pants, and shoe-looking socks. I would put him in a scarf if I thought he wouldn't try to eat it and get fuzzies in his mouth.

My sweet little boy is beginning to laugh. He likes when you kiss him while his mouth open and it makes that echoing noise or when we rustle the comforter above his head. But mostly he laughs at himself when he is alone on a mat while we are occupied elsewhere. Apparently, he thinks he's hilarious. He fuses for appropriate reasons; hungry, sleepy, full diaper. He makes funny faces and likes to pretend that he is Popeye. He will look for Mark or I when he hears our voices. He would rather sleep in our bed with us, but does alright in his hammock. He loves practicing holding his head up on his own and when we help him stand or sit up. He entertains himself alright, unless, of course, he wants to be held - then you better damn well hold him. His cries have become distinct for what he needs. And he loves to snuggle.

Rory Heleuma

I am watching the hair on his head grow. It's funny, you never really see yourself growing, you just look in the mirror one day and you've changed. It's almost startling. But with a baby, you are watching them grow each and every moment of everyday. That moment Rory holds his head up on his own for a minute or so, when he laughs at something we do, when he turns his head to look for where the sound is coming from, when he is officially too long for all of his newborn clothes and we have to think about putting them away. These are the moments that make up a life. The moments you remember you have zero control and all that control you pretend you have is really just that - pretend.

Mark lost his job last week without notice, "bad economy and all." Imaginary control lost. This has become an excellent opportunity to put our trust in God, an excellent and terrifying opportunity. Too often we rely on ourselves and say "Don't worry about it, God, I've got this one." But that isn't what He wants. He wants us to come to Him in all things, not just the things we think we need help with at this particular moment in time. One paycheck is an excellent reminder of how the control we think we have is entirely pretense. That isn't to say we should just sit back and let God do all the work. We should take every opportunity to seek out purpose and work, but by faith - not merely works. This morning I went out to the car to discover a dew soaked envelope with cash inside. We have no idea where or who it came from. But thank you, whoever you are. A great reminder of the kindness of others and the providence of God.

My husband continues to be the sunlight to my Superman. He builds me up and rejuvenates my spirit. He takes shifts in the night, diaper changes, snuggles, and burping with Rory. He talks me down from my self deprecating high horse and tells me I'm beautiful. I only half believe him and only half of the time. I want my body back and I want it back now. I feel awkward and uncomfortable and just generally awful about myself - I'm not fishing for compliments, but feel free to leave any you feel led to! Marko is an unbelievable source of strength and relief. He is such a loyal husband, I really have no idea what I would do without him. He speaks into my life like no one else.

Quelle suprise!

I have recently learned to type with a sleeping baby in my arms (the trick is to sit him upright in your lap and lean him against your elbow). This is by far the task I am most proud of accomplishing with Rory, though my favorite is that I can make coffee in the early morning with him on my arm - coffee always wins out. It's nice having him in my arms while I type though, his sweet face angled up at me as he brings my core temperature up so a sweater is unnecessary. I've been freezing ever since giving birth - so holding him evens me out again. People always used to tell me, "Wait until you have kids, then you'll understand." But I'm not sure I do. I love my son, he is the most wonderful gift. But it's not a love greater than any I've ever known. My first love is always going to be God - overwhelming and all-consuming, it always should be. My second love is Mark. He is my husband, made for me as I am made for him and if he is not my second, how will my son ever grow up knowing or treasuring romantic love? Rory is solidly third. My love for him is beautiful and deep, but it's not something I suddenly understand now that I have him. I have always known I would have him, therefore he has always been my third. He surprises me, for sure, and I enjoy every fleeting moment! But becoming a parent has not changed the way I view the world. Maybe that's just me, because I've always "had kids." Not my own, but I cherished them as such and perhaps Rory is an exemplification of each of them. Then again, maybe I just still don't understand.

We've been in fairly consistent contact with the ECC and so far, it looks good for us. Missionary life, here we come (hopefully)! I have no doubt we'll go, but I am praying we have finally found the avenue to get there. The issue has recently arisen about whether or not it is responsible to take our 7 week old son into the mission field. The answer to that question is that it is far more irresponsible not to. We are giving our child unprecedented opportunity to grow up with a world view not dictated by "the American dream" or western media, while still having those things available to him. We are giving him a global education and a multi-cultural upbringing so that he might have a better understanding for the rest of the world. He has the benefit of having western medicine and education along with that of the third world (which can be equally as valuable). We are never going to intentionally put him in immediate danger abroad, just as we would never put him in immediate danger here in the US (walking through Belltown after a certain hour, taking him to a violent 99% rally, getting into a vehicle with an inebriated driver, etc.). We aren't taking our son to a war ridden corner of the world where genocide runs rampant and caucasians are discriminated against. - But even if we were... there are children in those corners of the world. And don't we want to teach our son true equality? Don't we want to teach him that he is of the same value as those children and to help them in anyway we can? Isn't that the responsible thing to do? To teach him compassion and love for all peoples, even those in violent places? I'm not saying everyone is called to what we are called to, I'm just saying that my call is just as important as yours so please don't make it seem less or less responsible than the choices you made/make. They are just different. As they should be.

My baby is awake, so I am going to go snuggle with him and my husband. Because I love them more than you... I'm not sorry about it! But I love you also, dearly and deeply. Find your call, dear reader, and follow it to the furtherest part of your heart and back again. Don't let anyone tell you it isn't as important as theirs, because they're wrong. Live your own dreams and let those around you live theirs!

13 September 2012

The Enemy

"The enemy? His sense of duty was no less than yours, I take it. Wonder what his name is, where he came from, if he was really evil at heart... what lies and or threats lead him on this long march from home, if would not rather have stayed there." Faramir

How do we see the rest of the world, specifically those with views differing from our own? It is so easy to villify others, to make ourselves out to be the hero and our cause to be "good" in the battle of good versus evil. But there is rarely heroism in being a hero - that comes much later. And there are hardly ever black and white answers about what is good versus evil.

In Captain America (and, indeed, in any World War comic, novel, film, etc.) you see many young soldiers eager to "kill nazis." However, Steve Rogers maintains he has no interest in killing nazis, simply that he can't stand a bully. I believe this response to be a correct one, but we get so caught up in our version of things that we forget to keep an open mind. And yes, Liberals are as guilty of this as Conservatives.

With the upcoming election, our country has been starkly divided in Romney vs. Obama. It's not so much about who is the better candidate as it is "defining" American citizens. Either you are a Republican: a fiscally conservative, tax cutting, gay hating, anti-abortion patriot. Or you are a Democrat: a liberally minded, tax raising, tree hugging, anti-military hater of traditional values. I find it difficult to believe everyone fits into one of these  categories.

The truth is that we've become polarized, no longer willing to accept another's opinion as valid unless it aligns with our own. We've made "different," into "evil." And, once again, Liberals are just as guilty as Conservatives. Varying opinions should be encouraged, challenges to our beliefs are what help them grow. We need opposition to understand why we think the way we do.

That being said, allowing others to have opinions do not necessarily make them educated. They may be naive, ignorant, arrogant, or stuck in their ways, but always entitled to their own. That is not to excuse ignorant actions. We must be held responsible for our actions - which includes discussion. Bullying someone with an opinion is an action, not just a point of view, and you become responsible for the injury you commit.

But I think we would do well to consider Faramir's words (Tolkien) before we judge someone. Are they truly the enemy or merely differing in opinion? We would do well to remember the only reason to go to war, not to destroy human life but to eliminate mistreatment and misunderstanding. If we had lived the life of another, would we have made different decisions? This is what we must consider every time we look at someone else.

I'm struggling with being on the wrong side of everyone's opinions lately. I am angry with the hurtful words so many spout towards those who have been raped, had abortions, are homosexual, choose a different lifestyle. But I am also angry with all the scalding comments concerning Christians coming from the other side of the spectrum. I find myself at the center of a white hot debate in which nothing is being accomplished. I simply wish that the conversation were more of an actual conversation than slurs slung back and forth. I wish we could speak to one another with respect rather than closed-mindedness.

Let there not be an "enemy," but conversation. Let there be opinions that allow others to exist. Let there be respect. There are important issues at hand, I hope they would be considered fervently rather than swept beneath a rug of misunderstanding.

And now, a picture of my darling boy to counter all the politics.

You're a little happier now, aren't you?

06 September 2012

Ocean Blue

"The world's still the same, there's just less in it."

I used to dream of National Geographic scenes as a girl. You know, the vast rainforests of the Amazon and the wide desert sand dunes of the Sahara. The snowy Gobi with the elusive two humped camel and the open bush lands full of grazing zebra and giraffe. After Planet Earth was released, I was the happiest girl alive, the only thing better would have been to see it myself. But that doesn't happen, not in real life.

Except, it does happen. People research these places, photograph and film them. They visit these places and witness the wonder that is creation all the time! As a high school student I would get frustrated that none of my friends or family wanted to do any of the things I wanted to do. They would always have excuses; school, job, significant other. "Another time," they said, "Later," they said. That was never going to work for me.

By the time I finally found the courage - or stupidity - to leave on my own, my adventure was not about to be small. So many people told me I was crazy, jumping on a plane to South America alone as a young female with no real plan, no one to greet me as I stepped onto Peruvian soil. But the truth was that I had been crazy not to leave sooner. I wasn't running away to a savage land, I was escaping from a prison into a National Geographic fairytale.

Staring at my beautiful little boy lying next to me on the sofa, I want that for him. But I don't want him to wait nearly as long as I did. I want him to laugh at those who tell him he's crazy and point out that they are merely afraid of what they don't understand, of what is unfamiliar. I want my son to be sure of himself as others doubt him. Watching him wide eyed and already so curious and alert, I know he will surpass all my hopes and dreams for him and accomplish his own.

My darling boy

It's funny, even at my most rebelious, my faith in God never faltered. I struggled with many aspects of the church and doctrine in the Bible, but never with the existence of God or the validity of His story. That being said, I only truly rely on Him when I feel incapable. Though, in reality, I am never capable on my own and should always depend on Christ. I see this so perfectly laid out with my son. I was so sure I could do natural child birth because I was created for it and women have been doing it for thousands of years. But never because I believed God would help me through it. Then it was difficult and I remember so clearly the moment I thought to myself, "I cannot do this." Not that I wanted drugs or a c-section, simply that I was not capable. I didn't even think to ask God for help and still he provided it. From that point where I admitted my inability, labor was quick and easy. It was still painful and hard work, but it was no longer a struggle and I was suddenly unconcerned with whether or not I was capable.

Last night, Rory decided that he did not, under any circumstance, want to sleep in his hammock. He did not want to be by himself and would punish anyone - namely me - who attempted to leave him on his own with tears and cries to wake the dead. Everything is more difficult at night. Probably because it's dark and you're tired and uncoordinated, and everything is simply more apt to fall to pieces. And oh, I did. I fell to pieces. I just knew I had screwed up and I couldn't actually do this, I wasn't fit to be a mother and I had imagined myself to be better at taking care of children than I actually was. "I cannot do this." was my thought for the second time. But this round, I did call on God for help. I think my exact prayer was for strength, right before I burst into tears. Did Rory suddenly sleep through the night? Nope. He was just as fussy and demanding as he had been all evening. But Mark suddenly woke up and let Rory sleep on his chest for just two hours before the little one got hungry again and I has those two whole hours for devoted me-sleep. When I woke up, I was still exhausted and uncoordinated and it was still dark, but I trusted God to give me just enough to get me through.

I think more often than not, God uses the things we consider strengths to show us how weak we actually are. And He demands we use our weakness in serving Him. I consider childcare a strength and God has already proved my weakness in that as he demands continued patience from me, a violent weak point in me. Patience during pregnancy, patience with advice givers, patience with my son at three in the morning, patience with my husband when he leaves clothes around the house, patience with myself as I go through emotional and physical turmoil, patience with God as He reveals (and doesn't reveal) His plan to me. Oh patience, how you thwart me.

I love the story of Moses. He is such a wonderful example of God showing weakness where we believe our strengths to be and using weaknesses to reveal strength. Moses continually questions God, but God works through him regardless. Christians so often ask that we have it all together - or, at least, look like we have it all together and never question what we don't understand or don't like. "Fake it 'til you make it" is the popular phrase. I call bullshit. Stories you find in the Bible are not about people who fake it. Moses, for instance, was a murderer and very consistently tells God "Nope." But God uses him anyway. There is a moment in Exodus where Moses goes into the "thick darkness" to meet God. I like that. I like the idea that God isn't always found in the bright light, but through the thick darkness. You simply have to seek him in that thick darkness. It doesn't mean you will just suck whatever you're feeling up. It might be joy and contentment. But it also might mean confusion and questions, it might mean betrayal and anger. You hash it out with your Creator, walking through thick darkness.

My thick darkness is 4AM when my son decides he doesn't want to sleep in his hammock, but with Mark and I. My thick darkness is not having the time and being too exhausted to effectively communicate with my husband, which leads to lots and lots of miscommunication. My thick darkness is my frustration with the political slow process of becoming a missionary. My thick darkness is people not understanding that unless I say it's okay? Do not try to touch, hold, or walk away with my new son. My thick darkness is my paralyzing insecurity about my body postpartum. But in that thick darkness I witness God using my supposed strengths to teach me lessons and my weakness to accomplish great things. In that thick darkness I find Him.