Saturday, April 26, 2014

On Nostalgia

As we gear up to leave Virginia, I find myself becoming more and more nostalgic. I am not sentimental, really, except when I begin to think about all the symbols and remembrances in life, and how some things are like other things -- I guess that's the poet in me. 

I was telling Lindsay and Emily the other day, as I was thinking about moving, that as John Green says in The Fault in Our Stars, "Nostalgia is a side effect of dying." And I think this is true. We become nostalgic about things and places and people and memories because we realize in these moments of change that we are so very mortal, and these moments of change remind us that our lives are short and these changes are little deaths. Our leaving Blacksburg is a little death. We may not come back here, may not see these dear ones again on this Earth, in this life. And so we become nostalgic, because we are dying, all of us, and we want to remember and hold this places and memories and people dear. 

And the same with our little ones. Parents can err on the side of being too nostalgic, of course, and not enjoy each stage for mourning the others -- but it is true in some ways. Jude will never be this naive, this young, this trusting and excited about life as he is today

So, what, then? Where is gospel in our living, in our dying? 

Everywhere, reader. We live today in the joy of the gospel, and take the joys and sorrows in the knowledge that Christ is risen, that the reason the Son of God came was to destroy the devil's work (1 John 3:8), and that He is making all things new. 

And here are some of our daily joys. 


Blessings to you, dear reader.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Leeks and Onions

Bear with me here, reader.

Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. (Exodus 14:30-31)

Three days later: 
And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” (Ex 15:24)

Two months later:
 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out to this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Ex 16:2-3)

And again, still later: 
But the people thirsted for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (Ex 17:3)

Andrew, Jude, and I are moving to Oregon next month. We currently live in Virginia, 2700 miles away from our future home, future friends, Andrew’s future job at the hospital there. We are busy with all the things that come with moving, plus moving with a toddler running amok in the house, moving almost literally coast to coast. Andrew’s brain is awash in details about moving trucks and plane tickets, and we have piles and boxes all over the house of things we desperately hope to sell at a yard sale this Saturday. Our house is in a constant state of chaos; clutter is just state of being right now, as much as it stresses me out. There’s just not much point organizing a desk drawer I will dump out and pack in a matter of weeks. We are ruthlessly purging, sentimentality thrown aside as we would rather have a little extra cash in our pockets than keep this or that and find place for it in the moving van.

But wait. Let me back up a bit – a whole year, really. To understand this journey, reader, you need to know how and why Oregon. Andrew, my husband, is graduating medical school in four weeks! Wow. He will be a doctor, and we are moving for his residency. A common condition. Except that our original plan, reader, was the absolute opposite of what we are doing now. Just like Jude was a huge God-imposed edit in our ten-year plan, so is Oregon. Andrew wanted to be an internist, do hospital medicine Scrubs-style, and we did not plan to move anywhere except closer to family. We had our eyes on western North Carolina, firmly sure that we would not be leaving the Appalachians we know and love.

But then.

Through a series of events we’ve almost forgotten already, but clearly God’s leading, in March of last year, with much prayer and trepidation, we decided to pursue Andrew becoming a surgeon. Since he will be a D.O. instead of an M.D. (explanation here if you aren't married to one), his options were limited to … anywhere in America except the Southeast. We looked to Ohio, Pennsylvania, anywhere we could be conceivably close-ish to family.

He applied to a program in Corvallis, Oregon for two ridiculous reasons: because he felt like he needed to apply to more programs (so it was purely padding a list) and because the people on the website looked happy.

But then there was an invitation to interview, which he took because it would be good practice for the programs he cared about. Except – he loved it.

So three days after Christmas found all three of us on an airplane, loaded down with Goldfish and books for Jude, making the trek from East Coast to West. We spent two and a half weeks in Oregon; Andrew got his hands (well, his gloves) dirty at the hospital, Jude and I wandered around town in the rain.

We didn’t fall in love with the town the way we wanted to. There wasn’t a magical moment, or any sort of clear epiphany from God, but we did fall in love with the church we found there, and with the people we met. And we saw that everything about the town and the community was so much more what we wanted than any other place we were considering. So, in a slow, tentative, undramatic way, we thought it would be best.

And now, one stressful Match Day later, we are preparing to move there. Three things that we never could have foreseen: We are moving to Oregon with our kid, for Andrew to become a surgeon. My twenty-year-old self is laughing hysterically.

Well, move… somewhere.

We have been looking for a place to live since February, and have yet to show anything for it except a long list of un-returned phone calls, unanswered emails, dead end after dead end. It feels like a Celestial Someone is screening our calls, cutting our phone wires, sabotaging all our efforts to Be Responsible. We have done everything that we can at this point.

And now, I, Israelite that I am, with fresh memories of rivers parting and the taste of manna still on my lips, am grumbling in the wilderness: “Lord, have you brought us here to be homeless?”

I believe; help my unbelief!

I know we will have a place to live, and that it will be right where God wants us to be, for the purposes of our friendships or our own growth, et cetera. But now, everything in me is fighting against my Inner Israelite. I have seen Him change my heart and my life, have seen Him provide over and over for us, showing us that this crazy new plan is what He has in mind for our family -- and I just want to eat leeks and onions. 

I want to say, “God, if you’ll give us a house, then...” – but that’s not faith, is it? It’s superstition. God is not conditionally good based on the state of my health or my son’s behavior or the walls I sleep in at night. God is good, no matter what. If we all three have to sleep in a one-bedroom apartment by the railroad depot, God is good and will take care of us. If we have four bedrooms and a fenced yard, God is good and will take care of us. If God lets the Babylons come, He is still good. If He lets His own Son be murdered, He is still good. He knows what He's doing, and He has much greater purposes than my comfort or materialistic ideals.

I’m so scared to learn this. I want to know God is good when my circumstances are good. I’m terrified to learn that God is good when I don’t see those external things as good, despite all the ways I have done so in the past.

But, come what may, God will be good. Remind me of that. No matter what. No matter what.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Cup

Some after-Communion scribbles:

The Cup

tide pounding, surf splashing,
brook racing, pulse throbbing,
juice dripping, blood spilling,
rain coming, sea rising,
milk-nursing, sweat sticking,
river parting, honey flowing,
oil running, blood burning,
water rinsing, ink scratching,


blood leaking, milk coming,
water washing, myrrh scenting,
wine brimming, well-drawing,
mud cleansing, sea calming,
perfume soaking, water purging,
wine sharing, sweat dropping,
blood pooling, blood clogging,
water washing, vinegar stinging,
tears sliding, water falling,
oil covering, rain crashing,


pulse beating, water springing,
wine gushing, honey flowing,