The Stories I Tell Myself

February is Rare Disease month. I don’t currently have any big plans to write about rare disease this year (although that could change) but it’s part of our lives. Our oldest son has a rare disease called Isovaleric Acidemia. It almost killed him when he was born and we were unaware that IVA existed. He carries those repercussions in his body to this day and he will his entire life.

{The short version of IVA is that your body has a defective, though present, enzyme that should function when breaking down protein, specifically the essential amino acid leucine (essential means it’s in all protein). Because the enzyme doesn’t function, instead of leucine being broken down and continuing to be metabolized, it gets stuck and produces isovaleric acid and ammonia. IVA is managed by a low-protein diet and a medical formula, among other differing things.}

This pandemic has been especially trying for him. He is not more likely to get sick but being sick is more complicated for him. We have ended up in the emergency room to get fluids over a stomach bug more than a few times. A fever of 100.4 slashes his daily protein intake because your body breaks down your own protein when you have a fever. We pay for AirEvac because our local hospital won’t admit him and/also because he needs more specialized care at a children’s hospital when he is sick.

Since being sick is much more complicated for him, we have taken extensive quarantine measures during the pandemic. We’re homeschooling. We see only a small handful of people. My husband has been working from home. We’ve done it outside, or masked, or on zoom, or not at all. While I’m grateful for all the good our family has still been experiencing, it’s been a long year.

Citizen living: the why + how of my news consumption

Every single time I have voted, I have felt the weight of the cost for my right to vote. In my shadow walks the women who petitioned and protested and went to jail in order for me to vote. (I also cannot leave that statement there without acknowledging that did not clear the path for all black women.) It’s an honor to participate in the workings of our nation. I call and email my representatives gladly because they cannot represent me if they don’t know how I feel. At some point, perhaps the next time there is an election and not a pandemic, I would like to assist with voter registration or even the election day process. I’m sure my ability to participate will shift over the years.

I am grateful to live in America; my goal is to work for the common good of all people. Although I participate in our country, my intention is to put my effort into the kingdom of God. My ethics are to be kingdom ethics, not party ethics. I may, at times, agree with one party or another, but I am also free to critique either. My allegiance is to Jesus and His kingdom. My desire to stay current on politics or the news is to engage well with the world. To care for my neighbors, to vote responsibly, to discuss how our theology weaves throughout our tangible lives requires an awareness of the world I inhabit. To speak credibly to the world about Jesus means I must speak from the reality of what the world is.

Seminary Notes 4: a harvest of Greek

Over and again, my pencil scratches out the same strange symbols in a chart with crooked lines.

NS    ος        η/α        ον
GS    ου       ης/ας     ου

This quarter in seminary I’m taking Greek. Last quarter I took Interpretive Methods. I loved it and at the same time felt a smidge like a slacker for only taking one class. Today I’m drowning in thankfulness that I don’t have another class along with Greek. Greek is memorizing. Scratching out paradigms (that’s what the above barely-begun chart is called) until they are perfect. Memorizing vocabulary and breathing marks and articles.

Earlier this week, I flipped book and discovered I’m going to be memorizing paradigms for a long time. Chart after chart to learn equals day after day of practice. Bits of knowledge will eventually compile into a body of information that I can use. Just this week, I actually translated a few small phrases from Greek to English. The work is a gift; seminary was a closely-held dream for years. The gift is also the work; it means nothing if I won’t put in the time.

Exercises in Advent Resistance

This month I’ve been reading Advent by Fleming Rutledge. The book is a collection of her writings and sermons on Advent which she insists is not just the coming of baby Jesus, but the “once and future coming of Jesus Christ.” I’ve made my way slowly, one tiny section each night before sleeping, and it wakes me from my stupor. It is easy for me to believe the stories on the surface of living: Christmas is commercial, next year will be better, I am what I make of myself. Marinating in those lies makes me sluggish, unwilling and unprepared to move with the demands and truths of life.

Instead of being lulled to sleep, I am called to be awake. If I was dead before Christ, now I am alive. As one who is alive, I am a child of the day, called to self-control and putting on armor. Rutledge frequently references 1 Thessalonians 4 in her Advent teaching, a passage speaking of judgment and relief that sounds unfamiliar to my Christmas ears. Because my mind associates Advent with a baby, with good news, with hope, I need her reminders that yes, Advent is about hope, but it is hope in the face of horror.

RBG and How We Think

A few years ago, a friend loaned me a copy of My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I carried around that book of speeches and lectures and briefs for a couple of weeks, absorbing Ginsburg’s work and becoming fascinated with her as a person.

I went on to read Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life and fell in love with RBG. Lucky for you, you don’t have to read hundreds of pages. You can watch RBG, a 2018 documentary, or On The Basis of Sex to learn more about her life and all she has accomplished. America was a completely different world for women before RBG. I appreciate that work but spending time with her life taught me to admire her as a woman.

Here are some things I greatly admire about RBG:
-her ability to foster strong friendships with people who disagreed with her
-her marriage to Marty
-her work ethic
-her commitment to her beliefs/standards
-her lifetime of work
-her brilliant mind and logic
-her integrity
-her unswerving commitment to lead others to incremental growth

Resources for Gender Series on Instagram

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you know that we’ve been working slowly through a conversation on our gender theology. Week by week, we’ve tackled one topic at a time and I’ve loved having the space and the interaction for the discussion. This week, we’re going to discuss “headship” and the problems with using the term and I wanted to be able to share links with you.

I attempted to choose leading complementarian thinkers and theologians to give you the best views that there are. I have also tried to find definitions of headship or a related topic. When I point out how I disagree with them on this topic, I am not discrediting them as people or their ministries as viable parts of the kingdom. I encourage you to read all the posts for context and tone.

Seminary Notes 3: Pick Your Pace

While we were at the beach last week, I finished up summer quarter finals. I wrote two final papers, one on Hamilton (which was a major win for 2020) and an exegetical project on the Davidic covenant. I also took an exam, which was a timed series of four essay questions. It was brutal and I was glad I got to view the ocean while I was writing. Second quarter is finished even if I don’t have grades yet.

During the summer quarter I made the decision to only take one class in the fall quarter. It was hard to decide to slow my pace but the words of one of my professors were instrumental in making my decision. We had a guest speak to the class and she commented on how long it had taken her to finish her degree because of her job and her family. My professor calmly replied, “We don’t apologize for things like that.” Instantly I remembered that this isn’t a race.