Category Archives: Friendships

Gifts

You can’t always fully appreciate the value of a gift when you received it…

In winter of 2013-14 in Maine, a good gift-giver Chuck gave me a treasure that I only now appreciate as such.

Her name is Kaitlin.

Chuck had an amazing ability to entrust Joel & I with ministry inclusion that was outside our pursuits, but so good for us.

In this case, he asked if I would disciple his friend, Kaitlin. We actually met up at the local Taco Bell (there were no Starbucks in Farmington), and decided to start a friendship.

I didn’t instantly know Kaitlin was a treasure. She didn’t sweep in and say, “Here’s all I have to offer as a friend.”

But she might be my most treasured gift from God in a long time.

Kaitlin is an amazing listener. Not because she quietly listens. But she LISTENS, actively and rememberfully, to what & how you say things.

Kaitlin makes time for people. She drove 6 hrs each way at thanksgiving from her home in northern Kentucky for 48 hrs with us in Tennessee.

Kaitlin loves my children well, recognizing their value & setting aside time for each of them.

As I prayed today for companions in my daily life here in Friendswood, God brought to mind my sweet Kaitlin (and others) He has provided over my lifetime, filling me with thankfulness & hope.

Observing Jody

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Back in Houston, Jody and I were pastor’s wives together at Kaleo.

But before that, I met Jody in Seattle. She was attending a conference with a group of Kaleo people, and Joel and I were tagging along, since we were ministering at a different church at the time. Jody was a new face in the midst of a familiar crowd, and she made a big impression on me.

She offered me friendship.

On the plane ride from Seattle to Houston, she invited me to a party at her house… an epic tea party. And if you know me, I’m not a tea party type of girl – I didn’t register for any china for my wedding, I don’t have a waist suited for hourglass style dresses, and I love my coffee.
But that didn’t matter. Jody invited me to attend a party because she was open to having a new friend.

This was profound then, but I can only now pin down why.

You see, I was living in Houston, a city where I grew up, with so many subgroups of friends/acquaintances from youth, jobs, and various churches. I rarely had any friendship-making on my radar… I could barely see the people I knew already.

I’ve watched Jody for 5 years, trying to figure out why her invitation was unique and made an impression on me.

Then I moved to Maine this summer.

And I started texting Jody questions. Realizing how enormously alone a new place is. Realizing how unconscious I’ve been to the various Kaleo women that came from far away to live in Houston… and who were usually cared for my Jody.

Thankfully, she gave me honest replies, admitting how hard it was for her to move to Houston, to let go of a job she loved.

And then I realized Jody already taught me what I needed to know to thrive here.

By offering friendship. By not already being so consumed by life that she overlooked a potential friend.

I’m loving all the amazing people I’m getting to meet in Farmington/Strong, Maine! I’m so thankful for a fresh start to meet these people and develop friendships.

Thanks for your example, Jody. Thanks for inviting me to tea.

This is for Rowan Twosisters, my friend

Over the past several weeks, I have read at least 1,000 FB posts & blogs on the “Chick-fil-a” scandal.

I have kept silent.
I have kept silent as I do on most political or controversial issues, because I do not think Facebook is the appropriate venue for these.

I have kept silent because I didn’t think silence could hurt anyone.

But then it did.
Tonight at 9:50p, I read this post on Facebook from my friend Rowan TwoSisters:

That is why we’re so angry. This is personal for us. There are times in your life when you have the opportunity to stand up for your friends. When you let that opportunity pass, your friends notice. It doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, but it diminishes you, and it diminishes the friendship. That’s how it is, no matter what the issue or what the venue. (Including this link)

This stabbed me in the heart, just like The Kite Runner. For Rowan, my silence was the same as abandoning her during an attack. I can’t do that – I love Rowan.

I have know Rowan for a long time. I have always know that Rowan is a lesbian, an organic food junkie, a birth coach, a hula hooper, a wife, and a wiccan.

I have always HOPED that Rowan knows that beyond my other definitions – mother, organic food junkie, lactivist (barely), human trafficking abolitionist –  I am a follower of Jesus Christ, a Christian.

Only today, I suddenly realized that if she does know this, she might assume that I agree with the big “Chick-fil-a support rally” because some people misused my Savior’s name when they paid a lot for their super-fattening lunch.

So here I break my silence & take my stand.

The recent “us” against “them” controversy surrounding Chick-fil-a is the most non-Jesus like thing I have ever witnessed as part of the Church. There is no them to separate from – we, the Church, are a bunch of people making life choices that are controversial too.

  • We have sex before we get married.
  • We get divorced and remarried.
  • We are stingy with “our” resources.
  • We forget the poor and orphans.
  • We vote Republican and try to prevent the government from taking can of the poor and orphans we have neglected.
  • We avoid the people who come into our churches looking different from us.

As I writing this, my husband showed me something to remind me of a story in the Bible on this.

John 8: Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery,making her stand in the center. “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse HiJesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger.

When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. 10 When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

I stand in unity with my friend Rowan. I have made choices that the Bible condemns. I did not turn from these choices because a big group of rule-followers condemned me. Neither will she.

Jesus drew me with His love.

I hope Rowan can see that I love her. I hope she can see Jesus living in me.

Rowan, I am so sorry for 8/1/2012.

Basilica nostalgia

The last 48 hours have converged into the perfect storm of friendship & memories.

Friday, during my sick timewasting, Joel told me about Facebook timeline. It’s kinda addictive. It combines photos & chronology which I love.

As I sorted through pictures on Facebook, correcting the dates on each album (so it appears in the right spot on my life’s Timeline!), I tagged this picture I uploaded 2 years ago:


This is the group that helped us get the BSM building ready for Basilica’s public launch in September 2006.

The comments from the “tagged” people warmed my heart, the 1st being my favorite:
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It was nice to share these feelings as we prepared to see a large group of our former Basilica members today, as Joel preached at Covenant Community Church.
——

So I guess this was filling my mind as I slept, because I dreamt about today last night. Of course, the church location in my dream was different, and, as with all dreams, out of context people were there.

But the close of the dream was AWESOME.

I was introduced as being Joel’s wife, and the closing of our church was alluded to.
Then I witnessed my own internal dialogue in response:
“80% of churches fail within the first 2 years. Basilica made it 3 years, but we did not have a healthy, sustainable body.
So we closed. And were able to be Organ Donors, sending strong members, into other churches, like Covenant.”

The wonderful, mature families that came out of Basilica are a huge source of motherly pride for me! I am so proud of them. But I had never thought of it like organ donation before this dream.
Now I’m even more proud, that Basilica was, and that we were able to fail TO THE GLORY OF GOD.
—–

I was still contemplating my dream as we headed to Covenant Community Church Pearland this morning.

It was a surreal-ly peaceful worship service for me.
1. I got to see some of my favorite families:

  • The Cowarts
  • The Fosters
  • The Fisks
  • The LaCazes
  • The Morkins
  • The Parks
  • The Von Kanels
  • The Willis
  • Marissa Stephens

2. I got to meet baby Matthew Foster & hold him during the sermon.

3. My husband preached an awesome sermon, pulling together several areas of the Bible in a glorious way.

It’s nice to get some clear hindsight.

the Glorious Beards of Basilica
The Glorious Beards of Basilica

Dreams

I just woke up from a dream… a really vivid, makes-my-heart-hurt dream.
About Jodhpur, India.

If you know me in real life, you probably know, living in Jodhpur is my “other life” – the one I would pursue if I didn’t have this super-awesome one with 3 kids and a husband who thinks India is really hot.
I can usually repress thinking about how much I miss it.

But I just woke up from a commonly-recurring dream about a homecoming trip to Jodhpur. They used to be less emotional, just me wandering around India, trying to find places I remember but don’t know the route to.
But this one just tore out my heart.
It was a reunion with my most love India families – Anindita, Man Singh & Anita, Honey & Rajeshwari.

The hard part of the dream focused on Anindita:
She’s like my Indian sister. When I lived in Jodhpur in 1999, she was in college – and I was just out of college.
I spent the night at her house, talked about future hope & dreams in our different family-cultural systems of expectation.

In the dream, I see Anindita, start crying and hug her. I ask her about children and she says she has a 9 year-old. I realize this means she was pregnant last time I was there, before either of us were married. I feel hurt and confused, because neither of our family-cultural systems support this, but we could have shared this.

Then I woke up. And I feel sadder with reality, due to the dream.
Because reality is the reverse of this:

My last visit to Jodhpur was in January of 2001, one month before Joel and I got married.
About 1 day into the 17-day trip, I could barely muster the energy to walk down a street. By the 3rd day, when we actually arrived in Jodhpur, I was pretty certain that I must be pregnant… and in a foreign country with only 1 other person… and with my whole identity around being a Christian missionary, in a identity-crisis.
It was the hardest time of my life.
And I spent most of this time faking I was okay with Anindita.
I had a reason not to tell:
I really wanted her to know about my God, and I didn’t want to make Him look bad by being another fake-Christian American like most Indians have seen on movies.
Cause He really is EVERYTHING, even if I get pregnant before I’m married.
I didn’t want to cancel it all out.
I didn’t know if I could explain grace in a culture where shame is so powerful, dictating your every move.

I’ve never had a chance to tell her.
After that trip, I came home to my wedding only 2 weeks away, my first scary ultrasound 6 weeks away, and then had Arabella 7 months later…
Every year, as time passes, I want to write a letter, catch up, show her my babies.
But I never had.

I look for her ANYWHERE on the internet all the time. Haven’t found her yet.

I miss Anindita. I wish I had just told her the truth at the time.

Ling xiu

From Voices of the Faithful compiled by Kim P. Davis

Most workers from our organization must learn a foreign language. For me, it’s Mandarin Chinese. While studying, I was intrigued by the phrase ling xiu (leeng SHE-oo), which refers to a Christian’s daily devotional time.
Although this was new vocabulary, I already had learned both of the characters in different contexts. Ling means “spirit” or “soul.” Xiu means “to repair.” I had learned xiu I with the washing-machine repairman who was coming weekly to keep our ancient model running!
In my notes, I wrote “devotional= spirit repair.” What a fitting way to describe our devotional time: repairing the soul by reading God’s word and communing with Him. Like that dilapidated washing machine, my spirit needs the ultimate Repairman. Although I complained about the washer, it was stronger than my own inner man. It needed weekly repair, while I need it daily.
At one point, the repairman explained that the washer was used too often. I laughed inwardly at his solution – if I could just stop dirty laundry from accumulating, all would be well! What a parallel to how the stresses of life wear away our spiritual vitality just like the never-ending laundry wears out the washer’s parts.
We can’t stop the stresses of life any more than my family can stop producing dirty clothes. So I keep calling the Repairman to patch up my soul. Our daily “spirit repair” time is what keeps me sharing the gospel even with slow results and using my poor Mandarin when I look foolish. It provides compassion for my city so I can fulfill God’s call in my life.

I’m a word-picture person and it is always helpful to have one more picture to drive me to the Lord.
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I want to share with my blog friends about some people close to my heart and the life changes that are taking place. Michael and Tammi Rice have been close friends of Joel and I for around 4 years now. Actually, our beginnings are pretty awkward and funny.
When Joel and I started hanging out in August 2000, Joel had been a Christian about 3 months. Slightly before him, his friend Brian, also a former atheist, had also become a Christian, through the birth of Brian’s son. Anyway, they had started having informal bible studies at Brian’s apartment, and Joel invited me to come along. He explained in advance that I would probably be asked to read aloud from the Bible, since they were all so new at this and not comfortable yet. Also, when they prayed, it was silently, since no one was comfortable praying aloud either. All this was funny to me, since I had grown up in church and bible studies, and it had never dawned on me that it was odd to pray aloud.
So, I attended this Bible study twice with Joel. This first week was pretty “normal” compared to my other Bible Study experience. We read through some scripture, discussed it, and bowed our heads to silently pray. The second week things got weird. Basically, some people were invited to “come hang out” without really knowing about the Bible Study part. Mike and Tammi were at this Bible Study… I think they might have know about the bible part, but some of our other friends definitely did not. This was also something that I had not concept of – I had never been somewhere when people came to a bible study unaware. In fact, it wasn’t until after the fact that I caught on to this. Anyway, alot of awkward debate ensued, and people were offended, and Mike and Tammi were somewhere in the middle of all the friends, Christian and not. And since I was just meeting these people, and thinking “why did you come to a Bible study if you don’t believe in God?”, I didn’t really connect with Mike or Tammi.
My second encounter with Mike was worse than the first. It was in Spring 2001 when I was pregnant with Arabella, working full-time at Star of Hope (including 2 nights until 10:30pm), and VERY MOODY. I came home to Joel & I’s apartment around 11pm one night. He was hanging out with someone I didn’t know well (Mike) and I was tired. So I walked straight to my bedroom, got ready for bed, and called for Joel from there. I said something bitchy about the guest leaving, and went to sleep. (and we wonder while Joel was so in favor of adoption/never being pregnant again!)
But the third encounter with Mike & Tammi was totally different. We ran into them at a show at Mary Jane’s in Fall 2001, when Arabella was a few months old. It was one of my first nights out without the baby, and I actually didn’t leave her very far. My Mimi lives off the same street as MJ’s, so I just dropped her there between feedings, then went back in time to feed her. Tammi and I started talking as soon as we got to the show, then she left to go with me to Mimi’s and bring the baby back, then she sat outside with me and Arabella while the men finished the show. Tammi was so easy to get to know that I wondered how I had missed out on her the year before.
At that time, they started coming to Ecclesia with us, and quickly became involved in the same small group we were in. Our lives became very intertwined. They epitimize community living by their entire attitudes. I remember that first year as a beautiful mixture of resources – money, time, friendship. With Mike & Tammi, there is never an awkward discussion of balancing who paid for this dinner with who will pay next time. They are NOT worried about being even = they are always willing to be ahead. They are “givers.” Hopefully, in the long run, we haven’t just been “takers,” but I know that Mike & Tammi don’t keep track.
When they started going to Ecclesia, Mike was still figuring out where he stood with Jesus. I think this is often harder for people raised in the church. It is hard to make it your own and not just feel like you are defaulting to your parents’ choice. But eventually, Mike was baptized at Ecclesia. That is a pretty funny story. The baptistry at South Main (where Ecclesia had church) was either not filled up, or not heated up, or both. So, we headed outside the fountain in front of the church. By the way, it was COLD. Also, Mike is 6’+ and the fountain was about 1′ deep, so this was a humbling challenge, but very neat.
Anyway…
From the start, Tammi has been talking about going to Africa. Back in 2002, she talked Peace-Corp, cuz she and Mike are very interested in social reform and helping in a tangible way. She also has been talking about adopting children and/or being houseparents to orphans.
Last year, they started looking for a mission organization to go to Africa with. And they went to a meeting at Mike’s parent’s church about a trip to Kenya, Gateway, where they experience some frustration that I remember from my college years – people don’t take your seriously. When you want to be a life-time missionary, it is hard to convince people that this is your dream for forever. I remember Tammi saying, “We told them we could bring tents and sleeping bags, if we could just come.” But of course, the process is alot more complicated then that.
But Tammi stayed on the email list for this ministry in Kenya, and she continued to fall in love with it. The ministry is actually called Starfish Kenya. To sum up the ministry, basically, a Kenyan couple has adopted 31 orphans and needs lots of help. Tammi & Mike started planning to go on Gateway’s annual trip this summer.
Then, over Thanksgiving, the Kenyan father, Naftali, suddenly passed away. This has left Margaret, the mother, alone to care for all the children. As soon as Tammi told me about Naftali’s death, I knew that it was time for them to go. Everything in their lives has been leading to this – being about to help Margaret raise these orphans.
So, they are preparing to go to Kenya in September, after graduating in May from University of Houston, and then attending Montessori training over the summer.
Please pray for them. They must raise about $20,000 this year. They have to finish school and keep working their full-time jobs.
Please pray for Margaret. 9-months doesn’t seem long for Mike & Tammi to prepare; it seems like a long time for Margaret to be on her own.

Working toward healing, I become more and more transparent. Hopefully, in the end the sadness will melt away, and you will see me whole again…
Everyday, I am doing self-examination to figure out what is leading to my feelings of depression and anger. My mom suggested chemical imbalance the other day. Right off I knew this was not it…
Which lead me to realized that something in my life is leading to my sour outlook. So I need to pin point the thing.
Tonight, Tammi suggested that I am under spiritual attack because of the work God is using Joel for. She encouraged me not to listen to the Devil, letting him sabotage this work. This is an idea I have been wrestling with myself. It is almost as if I can tell myself not to sabotage it, and pick a fight to try to sabotage it all in the same moment.
So, Joel heard Tammi and I talking. And he came in to bug me until I would tell him what we talked about. Which was annoying, but the exactly right thing for a husband to do – be interested and listen.
When I hear myself say what is going on, I feel like a nut-case. Basically, for the first time in my life, I don’t want to be on God’s big adventure. I’m not saying I don’t want to do it at all…. just not right now. Honestly, I have never wanted average life so much.
So what changed?
We adopted Darin.

My friend Krissy and I talked about 2 days ago. We both had our 3rd child this year and were sharing our feelings on this experience. She put it very well. She said that Kadence brought a lot of balance to her life. She had been struggling with doing the mommy-thing to her older 2 boys and re-defining herself as an individual. Having Kadence reconnected her to the mommy priorities, and helped set her individual priorities.

So, this spring, when God told Joel to plant the Basilica Community, I was in a season of renewed exploration of who God would have me be at Kaleo, as a minister of the gospel with Joel, and later in Russia. It was easy to see how taking on this challenge would build into all that God might use us for.
Then God laid out all the pieces for adopting Darin. It was clear and undeniable that God had prepared this path.

But adopting Darin had taken me out of the season of exploring outside ministry, and returned me to a focus on motherhood. Only, with just 6 weeks preparation, I have not made a graceful transition between the two.

This is actually a relief to understand. I can see that I need to make some life adjustments. Now figuring out what those are is the next challenge.