Risk, masks, and an unveiling of our hearts

When Micah was seven days old, the resident at UK Children’s Hospital told us she was transferring him to Cincinnati Children’s. In UK’s PICU (pediatric intensive care), they operated in-house. They shut down the entire unit to visitors, including parents, and performed surgeries right in the child’s room. When they were prepping Micah for transfer, we were told that they were breaking the rules to sneak us in the back to see him before transport despite an operation being in progress. You might be tempted to think that was considerate of them, but really they were concerned that he might die during the trip. Tears trickled down my face as I looked at my infant covered with tubes and wires, but the resident in the corner sobbed as she watched.

Later that same evening at CCHMC, a team of specialists wanted to put Micah on dialysis. His ammonia levels were so high that nothing else would clean his blood. The problem was that he was technically too small for their smallest dialysis machine. It would remove too much blood from his body. They had a plan to add extra blood to minimize the risk, but the risk was great. We signed the papers anyway. The other option was to watch him die without trying anything.

Risk is something that has gone hand-in-hand with Micah’s life. I’ve watched him with bated breath for eleven years. His runny nose affects his behavior. A low fever starts a sick day protocol and murmured prayers as I stress clean. A simple stomach bug lands him in the ER for fluids. Risk is inherent in him being alive. Not just him, but all of us, though often to a lesser degree.

A move to a new state + a glimpse of a ghost

I met my ghost a few weeks ago. She walked down the road opposite me pushing a blue tricycle with a strapped-in toddler. Stunned, I stopped. Like the ghost of Christmas past she came with murmurs of my own history which resurfaced as she rounded the corner.

I started walking the road to the cemetery the first summer we lived here. We moved in November of 2011 and by summer I was pregnant with our second child and convinced that walking would be healthy. I was right. It became a habit. Summers kept passing and we had more children and we were still out walking up and down the road as long as the weather was tolerable.

The me of ten years ago would be secretly horrified by the me of today. Then we belonged to a fundamental baptist church and I walked in long skirts and fussed with my long hair. I was uncomfortable with myself which of course made me awkward around others. I don’t say any of that to scorn my younger self-I wouldn’t be myself without her-but it is an accurate reflection.

Seminary Notes 6: goodbye- I mean, hello, Greek!

Last week, after I tucked my boys in bed Tuesday night, I clicked the “take quiz” button to start my Greek final and felt queasy when the details at the top told me there were 200 possible points and only 14 questions on the exam. The entire twenty weeks that we’ve sprinted through Greek I’ve been glad that I haven’t monitored my blood pressure when it was time to take the weekly quiz. Greek is fascinating. Studying it has changed my appreciation for the Bible. Moving this quickly through the work for a grade has been stressful.

What I Read in May

In May, I read half the number of books I’ve read every other month this year. I also waded through the depths of my second quarter of Greek in seminary, spent at least half the day outside with the boys, bought a house in a different state, and sold our home here. I don’t set numerical reading goals and this is precisely the reason. Different times in life (or just the year) make different demands on my time. I refuse to feel behind over something I made up, like a reading goal. (You can also note that the last post here was what I read in April.)

May Reads

What I Read in April + stretching my reading muscles

A few months ago, I admitted to a friend that when I read N.T. Wright’s academic work, I’m only absorbing a small portion of it. It stretches my mind. It’s work that I can reread in a few years and there will be so much untouched, it will be like new. I read this type of work because it’s how I grow. Toni Morrison’s work referenced below is also like this. I’m skimming the surface and not mining the depths, but it’s enough for now. I’m gaining the nourishment I need to put down deeper reading roots.

It’s the same for my second-grader. He regularly reads sentences and paragraphs that are slightly beyond his competency. They make him uncomfortable. He’s a little afraid he can’t do it. But, with help, he does and his reading ability grows. If either of us stays inside our comfort zone, we don’t increase our capacities.

Faithful, but not Fast

One of my goals for this year is to write publicly every week. Most often that is here, excepting the week I send out the monthly newsletter. I need both the encouragement to write consistently and the discipline of writing longer form pieces. Last week I hadn’t written much, mostly because I was discouraged. I feel discouraged about raising my kids. We’ve been at this for a while and it still feels like we are doing the same work. I feel discouraged about the conversations about women and the church because sometimes it seems like we’re still having the same conversations. I feel discouraged about my own sense of vocation because I can’t see a path forward. I’m still living these same days.

After some thought, I’ve realized that much of this discouragement is because I can’t see an end line. There’s no banner stretched out over the finish that I’m straining toward in any of these areas. The boys will weigh on my heart as long as I’m alive, even after my work of raising them is complete. There will always be those people who are happy to subjugate women and slap the name of Jesus on it. My own path forward may always feel like a mystery. I’m slowly practicing obedience and faithfulness in the everyday and not analyzing other metrics like success or notoriety or feelings.

Last week, I started reading Keep Going by Austin Kleon. In the introduction he says “the question is always the same: How to keep going?” To frame it that way helps me. This is what life is. Life is beautiful and difficult, joyful and terrible, boring and ecstatic. These days can be both excruciating and strengthening. But the call is always onward because I am actually going somewhere, even if it’s not a somewhere I was taught to look for.

Patience on the Path to Maturity

This week the woman I’m discipling and I laughed hysterically over a story in Rich Villodas’ book, A Deeply Formed Life. He tells about a temp job that he had shortly after he became a Christ in which he prominently displayed Romans 3:23 on his computer screensaver and wore t-shirts with Bible verses on them in an attempt to evangelize his coworkers. Before quitting the job, he sent an email to the entire company explaining how they could go to heaven. He walked out feeling triumphant.

We laughed and laughed and then we shared stories of when we have been just as aggressive and obnoxious and thought we were doing God a favor. We considered the work we were doing as vital to the kingdom, even if it meant knocking on a stranger’s door and accosting them with a question about hell.

I must admit that my perspective on evangelism has changed drastically. (Here’s a short podcast by NT Wright you might like if you’re curious about less aggressive evangelism.) But I need to remember those embarrassing stories so that I will remember God’s endless patience.