So, It’s Been A While….

I know I’ve been pretty silent her in the blog world for quite a while (for almost two months, actually, if anyone has been keeping track….oops). My life, on the other hand, has been anything but silent. I don’t have adequate words yet for some of what has happened in those two months (and some can’t be shared in a public forum like this anyhow), but I can give you a brief list of some of the major life events since I last wrote:

  • We did a lot of wondering and praying about how we were going to pay rent and bills at the end of July.
  • I found a job (quite shortly after I wrote that last post about being discouraged by the fruitless job search, actually). Now I work as a server/cashier/dishwasher at a breakfast café in Westport. I really love it (except for working every weekend…). And it has been a reminder of God’s attentiveness to my heart and desires. During my final week of work with the after school program, I was praying and asking God to provide work for me and Derek. I felt God ask, “Well, what kind of work would you like?” The first thing that came to mind was a little breakfast and lunch café, full of bright colors, where I could serve cheerfully. That picture opened the door to a lot of lies in my heart about how I would never be good at the things that I wanted to do (some yucky heart residue from the after school job). About a month later, when I received the call for an interview at this breakfast place, God reminded me of that conversation with Him. Sure enough, the job opened up.
  • We contemplated a major, life-changing decision, ultimately deciding to say yes to what we felt was an invitation from God. That following month was an emotional roller coaster, careening though drama, phone calls, urgent meetings, a good deal of heartache, and then eventually ending with all our options exhausted and all the doors closed. God spoke to us deeply in that process, though, and assured us that He always brings forth life. Though we don’t know or understand what that might look like in this and we still carry a fair amount of grief over how things turned out, we’re still believing His word in that. (One of these days I may write a password-protected post sharing some more details of what happened and the ways God spoke in it).
  • Derek found a job (just in time to confirm the aforementioned life-changing decision). Now he works three days a week doing apartment maintenance and grounds keeping at an apartment complex near the Plaza (which fits perfectly with his school schedule).
  • Derek and I celebrated our second year of marriage by going out to our friend Autumn’s farm out in the middle of nowhere in Kansas. It was so peaceful and perfect. (I came home to discover that my engagement ring was stolen from the house while we were gone, though we got it back later that night, but that’s a whole different story….)
  • Derek returned to school for his second semester in CISCO networking. Don’t ask me what that is exactly. I just know it has to do with computers (and nothing to do with facebook) and that now he knows enough about routers to set up a home wireless network for us (pretty handy!).
  • I started school full-time. After almost five years out of school (which I still don’t regret, by the way), I’m a student again, this time working towards my associates in child growth and development. The classes are proving to be pretty intensive so far (more so than I expected for me first semester). I’m learning a lot already, though, and growing more and more excited about learning to teach young children well.
  • We moved out of the Tracy House and into our own apartment. We had been looking towards this move since the beginning of the summer (we were finding it increasingly difficult to live in community as a married couple, especially in a community with such a diversity of ages, life stages, and values). We felt like God was inviting us into a season of more intentionally establishing the foundations of our family. Somewhat unexpectedly, Lindsay decided that the season of the Tracy House was coming to a close and we all moved out at the end of August. So now, for the first time since we moved to Kansas City, Derek and I have our own space, a huge (and cheap!) third floor apartment, complete with a sunroom and its share of old building quirks. The building is named Isabel, which means, “God’s promise” or “Our God is a vow.” It feels like a significant name for our new home. We are mostly unpacked now (except for the second bedroom, which has become a temporary storage space for everything that doesn’t have a more permanent spot yet). Now I often find myself distracted, dreaming about ways to make the space lovely and home.

So there you have it: the reasons behind my silence over the past couple month. And now, I have some homework to do (or procrastinate on…) and some beautiful weather to enjoy….

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Is This Not the Fast I Have Chosen?

“Rather is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bonds of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every enslaving yoke? is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house – when you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from the needs of your own flesh and blood? Then shall your light break forth like the morning, and your healing (your restoration and the power of a new life) shall spring forth speedily; your righteousness (your rightness, your justice, and your right relationship with God) shall go before you, conducting you to peace and prosperity, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” – Isaiah 58:6-8 (amplified)

We have a high chair in the corner of our kitchen now, with a baby doll tossed underneath. An assortment of toys and sippy cups make a trail down the hall and into the living room, leading to a basket full of board books and a mini trampoline. All signs of the new life in our house.

On Thursday we welcomed a young mom, Shelby, and her two kids (ages one and two) into the Tracy House family.

Their move came on the tail end of a week-long fast with the Collaborative, where we met nightly to bare our hearts in vulnerable confession and prayer, journeying together through repentance, humility, faith, intimacy with God, calling, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. During the days I sat with my open journal and empty belly and let ache and hurts, fears of failure and dread of rejection, rise up from the muddy depths of my heart (as Richard Foster wrote, “More than any other Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us.” – Celebration of Discipline, p. 55). The fast left me feeling a bit raw and weary by the end of the week.

But now I’m settling back into a new sense of life here, embracing the increased noise and movement and vibrancy that a house full of kids brings. This morning I woke up earlier to spend those last couple hours of dark and quiet with the Lord before the house woke up. Then Derek and I sat in our sunny kitchen and had breakfast with the kiddos. After breakfast I cleaned the kitchen and danced with the kids on the newly swept floor. Then I sat and read Angel a book.

I think I could get used to this….

Lindsay with Shelby and her family right after her baptism on Independence Day this summer

My Weekend (In Case You Wondered)

I started listing off my weekend in paragraph form, but then, this seemed better to capture the feeling of abundance in this season and this weekend in particular:

Saturday
solitude
a short walk down a
leaf-littered sidewalk
crisp underfoot
to a sunny picnic table
an open bible
a half-filled journal
a stack of questions
and a breeze that tumbled
vibrant red leaves
around the slide and
across the lawn

Back home
Applesauce making
juicy hands (and sore wrists)
stirring a simmering pot of
sweetness and spice
and a shiny new pressure canner
(a birthday gift)
hissing and steaming
And while it cooks

Lesson planning and letter writing
twisting long strings of words
around the frame of a full life
folding them into an envelope
to send over seven hundred miles
to my sister sister

That evening
a mini van to a rodeo
and a top row of bleachers
dust churning below us
at the edge of our seat in appreciation
for the majestic strides of the galloping horses
the powerful kicks of the bulls
and the fine art of lassoing a cow
(perhaps less appreciation for
sequins, drawls, and presidential jokes)

Sunday
early morning drizzle
coffee, prayer, worship
then song singing
playdough making and
treasure hunting with kiddos
with the treasure of Jesus in their hearts

Afternoon drive with the girls
to a pumpkin patch
hillbilly golf and cornhole
(and “tic tac toilet seat for those who dared)
bleating goats and laughing kids
the rumble of a hayride
and chatting in the afternoon sun

Home again
to roast vegetables and
talk homeschooling
then

Potluck
collaborative gathering
bearing a savory celebration of fall
pumpkin, chard, cheese, turnips, bread, wine
and laughter
more laughter
rolling deep and often
into the darkness of evening
with the smell of fall through the window
and finally
goodbyes on the porch
bags of pumpkins, pears, apples
(genuine Wisconsin gown)
swinging in hand

And home
to talk of our house and
chat with Abba
about His plans for this family
and finally
reading time with my husband
snuggled under the covers
Harry Potter and hobbits until bedtime

(Normally this is where I would end with an artsy fall photo –  or, more likely, a whole string of photos – but alas, my camera died a couple weeks ago :-( so for now the word pictures will have to do)

On Jobs and Joblessness

A lot has happened with us over these past couple weeks and I know I’m overdue for an update on life.

As I wrote before, Derek was unexpectedly laid off from his job the same day my job ended at the school. We were a bit stunned, but felt like God must be doing something in this sudden rerouting of our lives, though we didn’t have a clue what that might be. To be honest, even now, two weeks later, I don’t feel like I have a much better grasp on what God’s up to with us in this season, but still feel confident that He is working and whatever He is doing will be good.

In the following week we jumped back into job searching (didn’t we just do this?). Derek discovered that the Roasterie (a local coffee roasting company, whose café is just a ten minute walk from our house) was hiring. Interestingly, they had posted the job opening the very same day he was laid off. He applied and went in for an interview a couple days later. He described it as the smoothest interview he’d ever had and came home pretty confident that he had the job. Sure enough, a couple days later they called and offered him the job. So exactly a week after losing his job at the nursery, he was employed again. Talk about God’s provision!

We’re excited about this job, not just because it’s a job (though that in itself is plenty exciting), but because 1) it’s in a coffee shop (pretty much a dream job for my coffee-loving husband), 2) it’s a local company, which fits with some of the lifestyle values we’ve been pursuing lately in trying to buy more locally produced things, 3) it’s within walking distance (and also along the main bus line so it will be easy to get to, even when/if we move), and 4) it has the potential of being a long-term, career sort of job, which has been something we’ve been praying about for quite a while now. The job description stated that they were looking for “a permanent figure that desires to make a career for him/herself in the coffee industry.” Seeing that Derek had previous management experience, the manager interviewing him asked if he’d ever consider moving up to management in the company. Hmm….

Oh, and did I mention that we get a free bag of coffee each week? Yes!

As for me, I’ve been diligently job searching, perusing craigslist, sending out resumes, and taking the bus all over the city to apply places in person. I feel like I don’t have any clear direction from the Lord for this season, so I’m trying to listen carefully for His voice in each step.

This new job has also brought up a lot of discussion about our future. We are still unsure about a lot of details of our future, or even what we want that future to look like. We have ideas, pieces of dreams, but still so many questions. We know we want to like incarnationally among the poor. We know we want to live in community. We know we want to build a foundation of prayer. We know we want to built natural, organic relationships with people. Lately we’ve been talking about things we want to develop in our lives that have the potential of helping us connect with people (particularly people who don’t know Jesus). For me, this includes my sewing, gardening, cooking, and love of children. I want to develop avenues to open our lives and hearts to the people around us.

Which has brought me to consider going back to school to earn a certificate in child growth and development (I only need eight more classes so I could finish the certificate in two semesters and decide then if I want to go on and finish the associates degree). I’m mulling over the idea of running a daycare out of our house in the future (because we do hope to one day have a house of our own). It could help support us in our ministry, even after we have kids of our own, and could potentially provide a way to build relationship with the families in the neighborhood. But going back to school….overwhelms me a bit. It’s a decent time commitment and I’ve never been a student without school being the central focus of my life. It feels like it would be a delicate balancing act between priorities this time around.

In the meantime, I’m trying to make use of this open season. I like to be busy, to feel like I’m working towards something, so the abundance of free time is hard for me sometimes. I feel like God worked a lot in my heart during those six months at home after we got married, though, and I feel more at peace with the openness of this season. I’m actually excited about having time to pursue some of the things that have been on my heart.

In an effort to avoid wasting time this season (the more time I have, the easier it seems to let it slip by), I made a list of things I want to explore and do this summer. A lot of those have to do with gardening, sewing, and other do-it-yourself sort of projects, as well as general sharing-life-with-other-people sort of activities.

Currently, that list includes:

– Work on our garden
– Research community gardens (I’m really hoping to start one next summer, which means starting planning this year)
– Visit a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm in Kansas City (there’s one in particular I want to visit that employs local youth)
– Go to the Brookside Farmers Market (it’s about a ten minute walk from us but I haven’t been there yet)
– Go berry picking (I’ve been trying to find a good place to do this)
– Go corn picking (Derek knows of a place where you pick corn and get to keep half of what you pick for free)
– Learn to sew (or continue learning to sew, I guess. I’ve sewn in the past, but it’s been a while and my skills are pretty basic)
– Sew something from a pattern (I’ve actually never done this)
– Make a baby blanket for a friend who is pregnant
– Learn about sewing machine maintenance (especially with an older machine, this seems practical)
– Put together a sewing basket (I have aspirations of finding a fun basket for this at a garage sale/thrift store)
– Find an air popcorn popper and roast our own coffee
– Make homemade ice cream
– Blog regularly
– Start writing down thoughts for a book (I almost didn’t include this one, because the thought of me writing a book sounds ridiculously far-fetched, but I have some ideas so here it is)
– Go camping (I can’t even remember when the last time I went camping, so I’d really like to get a group of people to go this summer)
– Have people visit us (this one is happening for sure…yay!)
– Invite people over for dinner and other fellowship things
– Work on building friendships, especially within the Boiler Room
– Decide about school this fall
– Finish at least some of the books that I’ve started, including:
Abba’s Child
– Brennan Manning
Stranger to Self-Hatred
– Brennan Manning
Celebration of Discipline
– Richard Foster
Resse Howells Intercessor
– Norman Percy Grubb
Punk Monk
– Andy Freeman (I’ve read this before but want to read it again)
– Move? (we’ve been talking about the possibility of moving east of Troost, hopefully to live in community…)