Saturday, March 28, 2009

Emphasis on "Break"

Do you know how you're typing a word and all of a sudden it just doesn't look right? I wrote Spring Break down on the calendar and the word "break" seemed odd. I was sure for a minute something was wrong with it. Surely, I had misspelled it. It just

Was it the context? If you just say the word "break" - what's the first thing you think of? I think of a broken bone. Then I think of "break it off." Like bread. Or a relationship. About the fourth or fifth thing I think of is break as in "take a break", rest a little. Just. Stop.

I think all this says a lot about the pace in which I live life. I used to be the most relaxed person I know. I'm not nearly the most stressed at the moment, but I've had a pain in my back and shoulders for about 3 weeks now that some friends who know a thing or two about pysical therapy say is stress.

There are just two days left of Spring Break and I was feeling a little bad that we didn't do more "fun" stuff with the kids - I had two days off and Dan took off one and besides three trips to the library and a bowling outing, we didn't really "do" much. But the kids didn't care. In fact they were delighted to lounge around in their pajamas till noon, hang out with the neighbor kids on the nicer days and read and play games in the house. They were delighted not to have homework, not to have anywhere to go at night, and not to get up early and be somewhere the next day. I am seeing their point.

I spent several hours today reading. A fiction book. In the middle of the day.

I was feeling a little guilty I wasn't getting anything done (although I had started some laundry, made breakfast and did the dishes). My husband told me to stop feeling guilty and read the book. So I did.

It was a wonderful break.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


My daughter Caitlin was a little exasperated the other day. She had just about had enough of unemployment rates, outrageous AIG executive bonuses post-bail-out, reports of the Dow Jones plummeting and 24/7 political spin. And she's twelve.

We don't obsess about the economy in this house, in fact we rarely discuss it, but log onto yahoo's home page and bam there it is. Flip through any network news channel (we have very limited cable) or radio station (there's a lot of flipping through the stations in my car these days) or newspaper and you are assaulted with bad news.

She wants to know what the bright side of things are and why more people don't talk about them more often. She kids about the song Mr. Brightside by the Killers which is on my ipod. I admit I really like the song a lot, although the lyrics are not something I wanted my 12 year old to memorize or worse, understand. And I tell her as fun as that song is, it's not the bright side we're looking for.

Today I was helping run some tours of a building our church may purchase as a second location. Just to be clear, that's not "in place of", but rather "in addition to" our current location. I'll tell you one of the upsides of a recession is how many people are suddenly interested in church. But even before the recession we were outgrowing our building. And we don't want to leave it, we want to make room for more at the existing place and transplant some of the current congregation that travels from 90 different zip codes to another location that also has room for a bunch of new folks. This is an ambitious adventure in the midst of all the bad economic news.

So there's some skeptism about the timing, but also an acknowledgement that the timing makes a very attractive building available at almost half of it's pricetag 2 years ago. That's a very big bright side. And after touring this building the people walk away beaming. I mean it - there's a glow and an energy and a buzz in their conversations as they catch the vision of what God can do to spread some very good news.

So as Easter approaches we are spending some more time talking about the "Good News". Capital "G". Capital "N". Because when the world seems to be falling apart, there is tremendous comfort and peace knowing there really is a hope that doesn't disappoint (see Romans 5:1-8).

And the bright side gets brighter when more people talk about it more often.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


You know how you have a little health scare and you start to reflect a little more? Dan entered the emergency room late Monday night and has yet to come home. They performed an emergency appendectomy around 4:00 in the morning.

There were dozens of people in the ER that night and as bad as Dan was, most of them seemed a lot worse off. It struck me how many of them were alone. I was grateful that my Dad came right away to spend the night with our kids so I could be with Dan. I'm a little overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayer and offers of help. I don't know why it's easier to give help than receive it, but it is. I think it's my pride. And it still surprises me, because I like getting help - and I never thought I was one of those people who would have a hard time asking for it or receiving it.

Then again, I never thought a lot of things about myself that seem to be true the more I look inside. I don't think of myself as overextended. I figure, our kids aren't in sports so we're way ahead of the time commitment game. I listen to so many other people rattle off their schedules and I'm tired just listening to them. Then someone says that to me and I wonder what they're thinking.

Therapists will tell patients when they're recovering from something (anything really - an addiction, a behavior, an illness, etc.) that if they want an accurate assessment of their progress to ask someone close to them how they're doing. Because as much as we think we have some objectivity, we always seem to think we're managing better than we are. In church we call them accountability partners.

So now I pay a little more attention when someone says they're concerned about me (that's the word to use to avoid a defensive reaction by the way). I wonder why. I consider maybe they have a point. And then things start to unravel.

So often, we walk around with subtle symptoms that we are either oblivious to, or are resolved to ignore. But for all the times we dismiss them as not being serious or attempt to wish or pray them away, seldom do they go.

Because symptoms aren't the problem. There's always a root cause. We like to treat the symptom. It's less messy. Make the symptom go away and we're back to business. But that never really cures the problem. You have to go deep to diagnose.

So while Dan was getting ultrasounds and X-Rays and CT Scans they discovered his appendix had ruptured. To clarify it didn't burst (literally like an explosion) but it was leaking everywhere. And the only solution was immediate surgery to remove the whole thing.

I lost a lot of sleep in the past couple of days and in my efforts to reassure the kids, catch up at work, maintain some semblance of order in my house, encourage my husband and plan for the next steps I underwent a Holy Spirit induced cat scan. Like Dan's it wasn't scheduled and I wasn't prepared for it. But I found myself on my knees, crying and feeling pretty sinful because my biggest worry was that we wouldn't be able to go on the getaway weekend we had planned and looked so forward to.

I spend so much time telling people God always has their best in mind and trust in His goodness and sovereignty even when you don't understand, but I was pretty upset that His best for me didn't include the weekend I so desperately wanted. So something ruptured. And man, did it leak. I was leaking all morning. It hurt. And it hit me that the only thing that was going to take the pain away was to allow God to surgically remove my sin. So I told Him the weekend was His (which it was anyway, but I figured I'd surrender to that) and asked Him to help me trust Him with it and thanked Him for His protection of Dan and all the evidence of His grace and mercy I had just experienced from living 2 minutes away from a fantastic hospital to having dozens of people praying for us both fervently.

I am in awe of this God.