Breaking into Spring

As of 5:30 p.m. on Friday night, I have been on spring break, not just from school but also from work (both spring breaks happened to fall on the same week).

Saturday morning I started my break with a big breakfast, hosted by Justin Andrews. We ate delicious food, talked, and laughed. Then we meandered over to Anna’s going-away garage sale where I picked up a new bag (after straining under the weight of school books and notebooks for seven months, my old one finally snapped this week), a garlic press (hallelujah!), and an armful of beautiful fabrics.

From there Derek and I rode down to the library where I perused the shelves for some fiction to read (I find it so hard to find good fiction sometimes). Then we packed a picnic dinner and spent the evening at Loose Park, sitting under a budding apple tree. We ended the night with a movie (the second Jurassic park, if you must know; I’d never seen it and spent a decent percentage of it calling advice to the characters and gripping Derek’s arm).

On my list for the rest of this week off:

  • Go to the Kansas City Community Garden’s office and sign up for a membership.
  • Start our garden. I confirmed with the landlord this week that it’s still okay for us to plant one and posted a flyer by the mailboxes today inviting the neighbors to join me. My goal is to get the plot tilled and a temporary fence (to keep out animals — especially the neighbor’s dog) this week.
  • Start (and perhaps even finish) my observations for my child development case study (yes, I do plan on doing homework this week unfortunately).
  • Begin researching Reggio Emilio for my curriculum comparison project (and decide on my second curriculum focus).
  • Begin research for my program spotlight project.
  • Finish research for my risk factor project and write the paper.
  • Write eight activity plans for my curriculum class.
  • Write four activity plans for my internship class.
  • Set up my observations at Plaza de Ninos.
  • Finish reading, reviews, and application activities for my health, safety, and nutrition class.
  • Read fiction
  • Spend time outside (it’s supposed to be sunny and in the 70s for the first few days this week)
  • Catch up on letter writing (I have at least five that I’ve been meaning to write)
  • Make something creative (perhaps that toilet paper role wall hanging? Or some flowery branches for our dining room?)
  • Write a blog or two (maybe. No promises…)
  • Do laundry (and all that everyday stuff that still needs to happen).

Actually, now that I look at that list, I have quite a bit of homework to do. Ugh. But even so, I plan to spend time relaxing and enjoying break, too.

Unfortunately, my body seems to have it’s own plan of being sick this week….

Naptime Battles

Working with young children has some unique challenges. These days I work with children from nine months to two years old, depending on the day. Much of my day consists of interpreting and responding to their subtle needs: a fresh diaper, a drink of milk, a snack, a nap, or simply being held. A video we watched in one of my classes a couple weeks ago stated that infants and toddlers are one of the most challenging age groups to work with because they require sensitivity to these subtle cues that tell you what they need. That sounds about right.

Naptime has been particularly challenging. In the beginning, it was an all-out battleground. I came in every day, wondering who would win and hoping I could get at least one child to sleep that afternoon. I spent hours trying to get them to sleep and dreaded the moment when their parents came and I would have to share, “They lay down for a little while today but didn’t actually sleep….”.

Now that I have been there about a month and a half, I have become a little more adept at the naptime routines. I am beginning to recognize when each child is getting sleepy and I have learned how to set up an environment more conducive to sleep (I close the curtains, turn on the fan, and start some soft music). And I am learning what it takes to put each individual child to sleep (some require lullabies and back-patting; others need to be rocked for a while; and a very few would rather be left alone to put themselves to sleep) and who is more likely to go to sleep first.

Even so, these young kids fight sleep every day. It is kind of funny to watch, really. They walk around the room, rubbing their drooping eyes and crying at the drop of a hat (or, more likely, the drop of a toy). They are so obviously tired. But when I lay them down on their cots or gather them in my lap to rock, they immediately pop back up, scrambling to find a toy, a cup, another teacher, anything to try to distract me from the naptime routine. The older ones look up at me with eyes half closed and ask hopefully, “Up? All done?” I have learned to persist in laying them back down over and over, singing verse after verse of soft, rhythmic songs, until they finally succumb to sleep.

It is pretty ridiculous that they fight so hard against the rest that they so desperately need.

Actually, when I reflect on it, I am pretty sure I do the exact same thing.

How many morning have I sat down to spend some quiet time with the Lord, only to look around the house for any chores that need doing, checklists I could make, homework to start, even a book to read, anything but simply resting with Him, anything but what I really need? Thankfully God is a good caregiver who pulls me close, despite my struggle against Him, and persists in drawing me back to His heart over and over until I finally relax into His invitation to be with Him.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.” – Psalm 23:2-3

Made for Community

Sunday marked the beginning of a new year, which means flipping calendars and, if you’re like me, the beginning of a season of scribbling out dates until I finally remember to write the correct year.

Sunday also marked my last shift at the breakfast restaurant. Several weeks prior I was offered a job as a support teacher at an early childhood education center, mostly working with infants and toddlers. I jumped into the classroom the day after I was hired, soaking up as many hours of experience as I could fit in before I took responsibility for my own extended day classroom this Tuesday. It marked the end of working every Saturday and Sunday, opening up my weekends again.

Despite how much I hated working every Sunday morning, I found myself reluctant to leave the job. Part of it was a reluctance to make yet another transition (we’ve had so many in the past couple years). When Sunday afternoon came, I lingered a bit, trying to figure out how to say goodbye to coworkers who I spent hours with every week but who were not necessarily friends in the sense that they had no place in the rest of my life (am I the only one who finds this a bit awkward?).

That afternoon, as I enjoyed my rest at home, I pondered why I found it hard to leave that job. It wasn’t that I was particularly attached to the restaurant business (though I do love hospitality). Then that still, small voice said simply:

“Because you were made for community.”

I was made for community. Indeed. That simple phrase opened up my perspective. Looking back, I recognized that I have spent a lot of my life feeling alone, so when I find pockets of community, I cling tightly to them. Even surface communities, where the closest ties are merely proximity and we share little of our lives, feed that desire for community. For the past five months I spent more time at the restaurant than anywhere else and I did develop a sense of community there that I sorely missed elsewhere in that busy season of school and work that left little time for anything else.

In a small way, it reminded me of the power of meal-sharing in building a sense of community and acceptance. Though we did not share full meals, there were early morning breakfasts before the customers arrived, sampling the chef’s daily specials, and gathering with the other servers to eat miscooked meals that couldn’t be served to the customers. Even in these brief moments of chatting between bites, I saw how sharing food brought people together, even people who were very different from one another with a wide variety of backgrounds and lifestyles. It reminds me of Brennan Manning’s insights on the power of meal-sharing in A Glimpse of Jesus, in the chapter titled “Healing Through Meal-Sharing”: “In the East, to share a meal with someone is a symbol of peace, trust, brotherhood, and forgiveness; the shared table is a shared life. To say to an Orthodox Jew, ‘I would like to have dinner with you,’ is understood as ‘I would like to enter into friendship with you’” (Manning, A Glimpse of Jesus: The Stranger to Self-Hatred, p. 54).

But I also recognize that a surface sense of community like I experienced at work will never satisfy my desire for true, Christ-centered community. It remains only a shadow of the depth of relationship that God desired among His people and – even more importantly – the communion we were made for with Him. We are made for deep relationships that push deep beyond the surface, that open up our lives to be vulnerable with one another, that carry one another’s sorrows and joys, and that sharpen each other like iron sharpens iron. A surface sense of joint activity will never satisfy the ache for community like that.

I was made for community. Not surface community, not just shared activity, certainly not the facebook version, but true, deep community. This year, as I transition into a new season, I want to intentionally pursue relationship, giving it greater space in my life again.

(P.S. I don’t really do New Year’s resolution, but if I did, I would probably also resolve to blog more this year, so you may be hearing from me more regularly again. Maybe.)

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….

When a Fish Sandwhich Girl Meets the Abundance of the Father

For a while now I’ve felt God pressing into the places of my unbelief that He is faithful and will provide for us in all circumstances (you may remember this post from this past winter).

About a month ago, at a friend’s suggestion, I looked into the life of George Mueller. I began with a small book of excerpts from his diary. I tucked it into my purse to read on the bus, but was soon gripped by account after account of God’s provision. Sometimes the provision came just in time (money the day rent was due, bread as the family prepared to sit down for dinner) and sometimes it came as soon as he prayed. God provided money, food, material items, workers and supplies for the orphan home he founded, physical strength, and even a vacation. All without Mueller expressing his needs or desires to anyone but God. Now I’m working my way through a biography of George Mueller by Roger Steer. Every time I open it, I’m challenged by the account of this man who was so enthralled by the sweet mercies and graciousness of God that he trusted Him to provide for every need, large or small. I can feel it shifting the paradigms of my heart.

This shifting kicked into high gear a couple weeks ago when Dave Blackwell spoke at the Boiler Room about the abundance of Jesus (you can listen to his talk here – do it). He began by sharing a story about when an uncle of theirs came to visit and took them out to dinner at a fancy seafood restaurant on the plaza. When Dave opened the menu, he immediately went to the cheapest item on the menu – the fish sandwich. He was all set to order it when the uncle asked if they liked crab legs. When they answered that, sure, they liked them, he proceeded to order several pounds of crab legs. And from then on, if they even so much as mentioned that something sounded good, the uncle would call a waiter over and order it. This uncle’s generosity was so extravagant, far beyond the fish sandwich that Dave would have chosen for himself.

Then Dave retold the story of the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:5-13), a situation where it would have been impossible for the disciples to give even the barest minimum, even just a mouthful, to the multitudes. Yet Jesus supplied as much as they wanted and then some – twelve baskets of leftovers after everyone had eaten their fill. Then came the story of the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11), where Jesus provided the equivalent to about six hundred bottles of wine, because He cares about the celebration and the details. He wanted to show His glory, to  challenge the disciples with the reality of His overflowing bounty. He wanted to reveal the character of the Father, the extravagant giver.

I recognized myself in Dave’s description of “the fish sandwich kind of people,” the ones who settle for the cheapest thing they can get, the bare minimum of what they need. Not only do I literally order the cheapest item on the menu when I go to a restaurant, but I’ve locked the highest bar of my expectation of God’s provision on just getting by with the basics. I even remember a time, shortly after I graduated from high school, when I classified myself as “working class poor…those people who work and work and work but only barely make ends meet. They are the people who drive junkers or walk because they don’t have a car at all. They aren’t homeless or starving; they just never get beyond the basics of getting by.” (from my journal, October 4, 2005). Even more recently I’ve often felt a nagging weight of fear that it’s all up to me to work hard, to earn my way, to make sure we get by. This leaves no space, no expectation, for the abundant, extravagant generosity of the Father.

So that afternoon I began confessing this wrong mindset towards God and asking Him to reveal more of who He is, more of His goodness, faithfulness, and provision. Over and over the prayer broke out of me: show me. Show me. Please, Abba, show me.

And He has.

First it was through boxes and bags of things sent home with me from work as we cleaned and packed up our classrooms: a whole pack of computer paper, several jars of peanut butter, ice cream (the same day that Derek had mentioned a little wistfully how good ice cream sounded), apples….and hundreds – yes, hundreds – of mozzarella cheese sticks. I brought home four gallon-sized Ziploc bags full of them and we threw away more besides that. I gave them away to the interns, to friends, to neighbors, to the kids, and still there were more than we could eat ourselves. (Derek joked that it was kind of like in Exodus when the Israelites were set free from slavery and left carrying the riches of the land with them).

The next day we finished packing the last of the classrooms. As we gathered up our things to leave, I noticed the schoolyard garden, still full of vegetables, and asked if we needed to do something with it. My boss, flustered with the final details of packing everything, said that she’d pay me a little extra time if I stayed to clear it out. So I recruited a friend from the Boiler Room and we spent a couple hours chatting as we cut vegetables and tugged out weeds. In the end, we brought home four large grocery bags full of fresh, homegrown vegetables: kale, collards, red potatoes, beets, onions, and cilantro. I gave some to the teachers and staff at the school, sent some home with the friend who helped, passed some on to the interns, and still had more than we could eat (we’re still working our way through the collards in particular). That evening I made a meal almost entirely out of vegetables from the school. As I washed the dishes afterwards I suddenly realized that I was experiencing the abundance of Jesus that Dave had talked about that Sunday, the abundance that I’d asked God to show me.

Since then my awareness of God’s provision has only heightened, even in the little things. I had an interview at the library (the day my job at the after school program ended, I came home to find the e-mail asking me to come in for an interview). The day after my job ended, I began to nanny once a week for the Blackwell boys (they even offered me an extra day this week, just in time to pay next month’s rent).

And on Thursday I had been thinking about how we’d need to look for another bookshelf when we move because two out of the three that we’re using right now belong with the house. That evening we took the kids down to the park and there across the street, half buried in a pile of junk that someone had cleaned out of a house, sat a gorgeous solid wood bookshelf, with inlaid wood designs, a row of little drawers, and a deep, rich finish. Immediately God reminded me of how I had been wishing (not even praying, just wishing) for another bookshelf that morning. And there He had provided it, not with a bare minimum plywood shelf but with a solid, beautiful piece of furniture. Now it sits in the living room, waiting for the day when we have our own place. Periodically I go over to it and run my hands over the wood, maybe tug open one of the little drawers, and am struck again by the goodness of my Abba in the way He cares for us.

As I learn to recognize God’s provision in these things, gratitude spills out more and more freely. And with that recognition and gratitude come a gentle swelling of faith to ask and trust in the good plans of God for our lives. I’m reminded of something that Dave said, that God is not adverse to giving physical things because we can see and touch them and they act like a switch, turning on revelation of what God is like. This is still a work in progress, but as we walk into summer, I feel like the switch is turning on and the waves of God’s goodness are washing over old fears and mindsets more powerfully than ever before.

“As for me I am poor and needy, yet the Lord takes thought and plans for me. You are my Help and my Deliverer. Oh my God, do not tarry!” – Psalm 40:17

My Anthem This Week

Psalm 3

Lord, how they are increased who trouble me!
Many are they who rise up against me.
Many are saying of me, there is no help for him in God.

Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
With my voice I cry to the Lord,
and He hears and answers me out of His holy hill.

Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

I lay down and slept;
I wakened again, for the Lord sustains me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about.
Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheek;
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
May Your blessing be upon Your people.

Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

Snow Day Pancakes

In honor of my THIRD snow day in a row (which means five days off in a row, plus the four day weekend coming up — pretty ridiculous), I thought I’d post my favorite pancake recipe, which I made to celebrate my first snow day. I think I may have posted a variation on this recipe before, but it’s worth posting again. I find myself using this as a base recipe over and over.

Snow Day Pancakes

Ingredients:
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. all purpose flour (I’ve also used all whole wheat before and that works, too)
1/2 c. cornmeal (I think this is the key for the yummy texture)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices to taste (optional — but I usually like to add some sort of spice; this time it was nutmeg)
2 eggs
2 c. milk
2 Tbsp. oil

Directions:
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, then add the eggs, milk, and oil.  Stir together with a fork to break up the eggs. Pour on a preheated griddle and cook over medium heat until bubbles appear and the edges begin to look dry. Flip over and cook a few minutes longer or until golden brown. Top with your choice of toppings (I like warm applesauce and cinnamon or yogurt and honey; Derek likes butter and lots of maple syrup). Enjoy!

(You can vary this recipe by adding chopped fruit, nuts, or other spices. This time I added a couple tablespoons of leftover pumpkin to the second half of the batch and it turned out great. I’ve also made it with 1 1/2 c. cornmeal and 1/2 c. of flour and added garlic and Cajun spices to make a savory pancake before, too, and topped them with tomatoes and beans. I’d love to hear what variations you use….)

Snow Day

Yesterday I woke up to falling snow and the announcement that the Kansas City School District had closed schools for the day. SNOW DAY! (which we never had as homeschoolers, by the way)

So I drank coffee with Derek, talked about plans and dreams for the future, went for a walk through the snowy neighborhood, wrote a blog, looked through old photos with Derek, and ended the day with pancakes and eggs for dinner. The snow was still falling when we went to bed. I think it was one of the best, most relaxing days in a long time.

And this morning? The sun is shining but the newspaper is warning of high winds and frigid temperatures and schools are closed again. Time for some tea, laundry, and perhaps writing Christmas thank yous….

Oh Work….

It feels like a disproportionate amount of time an energy this past month has been focused on work.

Since Derek lost his job at the Roasterie, we’ve discussed jobs a lot: what kind of work he should look for now, what kind of work he might want to do long-term, what kind of work I want to do long-term, how all that fits in with the life we feel called to, etc. Derek has started looking into school more seriously and exploring what kinds of careers exist in the computer world. He’s talked to friends working various computer jobs, visited career counselors at several area colleges, and researched books at the library. This season without a job has been a blessing for him in the time it’s given him to consider what he wants to do long-term rather than just what will provide for this immediate seasons.

A couple weekends ago we had a middle-aged couple stay with us for the weekend (along with a single guy who has been traveling with them), which prompted more reflections on the place of work in our lives. This couple loves the Lord and are striving to walk by faith. They also believe that God has told them that they will never have to work a job again in their lives. For the past four years they have chosen not to work, instead living off of their life savings, then the money from selling their house, and now for the past eighteen weeks off of the provision of whoever will give them food, shelter, or money, living in their car and eating sporadically. They plan to do this indefinitely, believe God will provide for them. Though Derek and I know that God is faithful and provides for us (we’ve experienced that in our own lives time and time again), we were uncomfortable with their attitude towards work and unwillingness to pursue any type of work. We spent an interesting weekend talking to them and hearing their story, but then sent them on their way, armed with banana bread, prayers, and hopefully a sense of God’s love and truth.

And then, of course, there’s my job. That’s probably been the most challenging part of life recently. Outside of the expected frustrations with my boss and lack of organization in the program, I simply feel ill-equipped to handle this group of kids, much less have any sort of positive impact in their lives. I’ve worked with kids for years but this is the first time I’ve worked in a school setting, much less with this large of a group of kids (at least sixteen kids per teacher – sometimes more). Several days I’ve come home and started looking for jobs on craigslist because I feel like I just. can’t. do. it. In the past week I’ve been run over with a trash can (I did get a nice note later that afternoon saying “Ms. Rebecca I’m sorry for running you over and I will never do it again. I love you”), stabbed in the hand with a pencil, called fat, ugly, and mean, and told “I hate you” on a regular basis, among other things. It feels like chaos every day. Even when I’m not actually at work, I’m planning for work, talking about work, thinking about work, stressing about work, praying about work, or dreaming about work (the other night I dreamed that I got so frustrated with work that I quit….and then came back. Twice). I’ve been researching classroom management, talking to other teachers, and trying to stay rested and organized, but I still feel so unequipped, so ineffective.

But perhaps, in a funny way, that’s God’s grace. All this is growing my awareness of how much I need God. All the time. That prayer invariably comes up in my prayer each day, over and over: Abba, I need you! I need His provision. I need His wisdom. I need His favor. I need His authority. I need my time with Him every day. I need His voice, His presence, His reassurance. I need HIM. There is no way I can get by without Him, much less see the transformation and restoration I long for in the lives of these kids and in our neighborhood. Perhaps that’s what Jesus meant when He talked about being poor in spirit? Abba, if this is what it means to be poor in spirit, may I see You kingdom come here!

Again

Here I am again, processing through another set of changes and struggling to put words to the immense magnitude of it all in my heart. It feels like trying to scoop up an ocean in a bucket.

Yesterday Derek was let go from his job at the Roasterie.

The news didn’t come as a complete surprise this time. About a month ago his supervisor sat him down and gave him a list of things that he needed to improve on (things the he felt he was doing already) within the next two weeks or his position would be terminated. She assured him the next day that the threat of termination was really more of a “scare tactic” (an effective one, too, from the standpoint of this wife) and said that they would discuss it again at the end of the two weeks. That date came and passed with no meeting, though. When Derek asked her about it, she said it was postponed until one of the other supervisors could be there, too, so we thought that perhaps things were settled. Derek was getting more hours again and things seemed to be going better in general. But then yesterday he went to his other supervisor with a scheduling question (they kept scheduling him during times that he wasn’t available) and was told that, actually, they’d decided to let him go. His supervisor pulled an official letter off a shelf (how long had that been there?), handed it to him, told him that if he had any questions he could call the main office, and sent him home. Just like that.

With that news rolled in a whole host of questions, from the serious and weighty (Will my job cover all our expenses? Will we still be able to go home for thanksgiving? What the heck is life going to look like in the next couple months?) to the ridiculously small and petty (Where will we get coffee now?). I have this urge to scoop them all up, collect all the details, and fit them together like a puzzle so I know exactly what everything is going to look like, exactly what to expect, exactly how it’s all going to work out. But that’s not how life works, is it? It’s certainly not how faith works.

Last night we scrolled through lists of jobs on craigslist. This morning we sat together and made a budget, discussing where we can possibly cut back expenses. Right now Derek is at the local community college, talking to someone about the possibility of going back to school next semester (something he’s been thinking about for a while). And I still have my job, crazy though it may be. Practically, I know we’ll be okay. Hopefully we’ll be more than just okay. Perhaps this is opening a door to whatever God has planned for us.

But to be honest, a part of me is so tired of the constant transition, constant instability. We just went through this three months ago. When Derek got this job the Roasterie, it seemed to offer a glimmer of hope for something more than just getting by in the moment. And yet here we are again. By God’s grace, my heart has stayed fairly steady through each transition. Time and time again, faith, hope, and love (the three that remain) have buoyed me back to the surface. But will we ever get to a season where every day stops feeling like a battle to fight, another obstacle to push through for the hope of what’s to come someday?

I feel like all of this has simplified my dreams lately: A home. A garden. Good, honest work for both of us, where we can serve faithfully. Friends nearby. Family. Time with God. Time with each other, unburdened by the heaviness of depression and discouragement. Simple celebration of each season. Vibrant relationships. Fullness of life. Growth. Simplicity. Rest. Joy. Balance (yes, here my dreams start to trail away from the concrete and into the less-definable longings of my heart).

I remember a while ago Michael Flowers spoke about the Psalms of lament and how most of them include the questions “Why?” and “How long?” I can feel those same questions welling up inside right now. Abba, will you meet us here and turn my cries “why?” and “how long?” to heartfelt cries of praise!

“For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.” (Romans 8:24-25)