From Pee to Living Water

I think sometimes I overlook miracles. Ones that happen everyday so they no longer seem impressive. They happen every day at my house, two under two lends itself to miracles. Two babies with clean diapers at the same time, synchronized nap times, first words, first steps, a not-yet-two-year-old who agrees to go along with the plan. They don’t happen all the time. But enough that I forget they are miracles.

Lord, allow me to pour out you Living Water.

But it is emotional miracles, change of heart miracles, miracles you can’t see I have been noticing lately. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the healing, the manifestations, the return of $900 for your $500 deposit. I’ve seen them, and plan on seeing more. But the emotional miracles, the ones you can’t see. I’ve been seeing a lot of those lately.

Like the time just this weekend when God changed pee into living water. I wish I was speaking metaphorically here, but I am afraid that a misguided child snuck into a friends house and offered his practical joke in the form of peeing in her boot. A child that she could have ignored, but instead has been kind to. A child no one else thinks about much. His parents are too busy, too sick, too overwhelmed, too underserviced. The best that they can is not enough to meet the needs of the kids they have in the house. So the child sneaks into another house, and pees in a boot. Who knows why really, he probably doesn’t know himself.

The pee in the boot was not the miraculous part. It was the gross part. The miraculous part was the Living Water that was poured back out. The initial reaction was expected, I am calling the police (you should I responded) I am telling those kids I am done (be done I agreed) I am telling those parents that I don’t care how overwhelmed they are, they need to get a handle on those children (it is for the children’s own good I encouraged.) But then we prayed about it. And the bitter, stinky, gross puddle of waste that was pooling in our hearts was touched by the finger of God. And as the puddle rippled…..the piss in my friend’s heart was turned into Living Water. I love praying with Godly people.

I wonder if those kids would like to go to church with us? (I wasn’t so the church’s kids community could handle all that.) I had planned on asking those boys to walk my dog with me, I wonder why I never asked the parents. What would it look like if I were radically kind to those boys in direct response of being pissed on? It would look like Jesus. Like what Jesus did for us. What Jesus does for us. Even when we know we are doing wrong and continue it anyway, just because we feel like it.

I know that there are other miracles that are flashier, water to wine lets you continue to party. Manna every morning lets you keep walking. Being healed of blindness, lameness, leprosy; tumors disappearing all of these are glorious things. But turning a puddle of pee into living water, and watching someone pour it out to the pisser. How do you get more miraculous than that?

This post was written for Just Write. Go check it out!

What my students taught me about Kony2012

Last week, I had a whole big non-fiction unit planned out where we were going to use the book a lot and maybe read a memoir. I love memoirs….but then a student said to me, “Ms. Norman, we should watch the Kony 2012 video right now. It is important. It was like almost thirty minutes, but I watched the whole thing.”

I know that may seem like a not big deal, but it is. Try getting a tenth grader to pay attention to anything for more than 5 minutes, then you will know. This was a big deal. And all of my kids were talking about it, not just my sports kids or my drama kids or my under or over achieving kids. All my kids. What? Okay…maybe this is a thing.

When I got around to looking it up on Friday night my facebook page was already full to the brim, with the video, thoughts on the video, articles and rants about what was good and what was bad. Apparently this was a thing. As of writing this it is the most viral video of all time.

It was a little crazy getting to the copier every morning. It was even more insane teaching articles that had been published just hours before. While everyone likes to claim that they just loooove when their students are engaged, engaged students are unpredictable and you never know what is going to come out of their mouths when they have an opinion about something.  Plus they forget to raise their hands and talk over each other and then you have to yell.

But it was worth it. I saw, in even my most cynical students an awakening of something. This was big enough to care about. This thing mattered. They were able to look at the bigger issues, the deeper story. We talked about nodding disease and Gulu town thanks to this article. My students were quick to point out that these stories were too complicated. “There are too many characters, ” they told me. This is true for both twitter and simply too many people to talk about. “We are uninterested in complicated issues,” and “How will we know when those problems end. This seems doable.” They are nothing if not honest, my students.

We talked about how a video goes viral with this article, (but I found this one later, and it is better. This is what happens when you are doing a lesson plan in real time). My students are so brutally honest about what appeals to them. No punches pulled, no attempt at saving face so they can look more benevolent than they really are. Pure  answers as to what gets their attention and why. “We want to feel like we matter.” “We want to feel like we could make a difference.” “No one wants to think that hard” (Did I mention their honesty?) “It is easier if someone tells me what to think.”

We talked about who controls what stories are told (here) and how Americans have a savior complex (here). “Mrs. Norman” they said, “If we had been told other people were already doing something good and we were just supposed to join it, we wouldn’t.” “We like it when things are all about us. Even when they aren’t.” Isn’t that the truth about humanity?

And at the end of the week, when I was burned out by the way the story was told and the money that was put to making the video, the misrepresentations and and the feeling that even if we somehow managed to do this one thing (through the leadership on the ground locals who know best how to navigate a complex situation), it wouldn’t be enough, even then my most cynical kids had this to say. “It isn’t right that this is happening. Anywhere. Period. If it were happening in the U.S. someone would stop it. Why should this be any different?”

I was reminded why I like to work with teenagers. Particularly the younger half of high school. They still believe in the should. They believe that if something is wrong it should be corrected. Even if there are other problems that should also be corrected, when something is as wrong as Joseph Kony is. Teenagers still believe that our actions matter.

All this week we will be in the computer lab, using photo story for windows to make our own videos, informing more on the complicated issues in Uganda, or advocating for our own charities. I hope to have my own youtube channel next Monday where I show you the work of my students. But last week, the work of my students was to renew my hope.

If I can’t win…

Today, the technology that I was using in my classroom refused to participate and my students almost got a lesson on “colorful language in context.”

I stayed home from church yesterday. This was after going out after nine to find a neti–pot in hopes of clearing the pressure in my head. Sunday I woke up and simply did not feel good. So I sent out a mass text asking someone, anyone to cover me for kids community so that I could lay down my head and take a rest. Luckily I got some replies.

Saturday I got myself and the girls up and around in time to sign up for our trial membership at the Y. They have free childcare for members and I wanted to try this Yoga-Pilates strength class. I ended up at the class about 15 minutes late. Then twenty minutes after that I got called into the nursery because the Peanut was still crying. And she refused to be comforted by the amazing nursery workers. She wouldn’t let them touch her. But right as I got there they waved me back out. So I went back to the class. I didn’t want to. It was hard.

My body used to be pretty good at yoga and Pilates. I used to do a video three days a week or so; in High school I went to a yoga studio to get my gym credit (thanks Mom! what a good advocate!). I loved it. But now, two babies and too many years later, my body is unable to do everything it used to do even half of what it used to do. And it hurts my pride, to be on par with the white-haired woman next to me.

I know that my body, and the Peanut, need time. (Rooster however continues her streak and I was told by three different women what an easy baby I had.) In my head I get that. But that doesn’t make me want to walk out of the room any less. To just give up on the silly “in shape” notion. We are english teachers and rhetoricians in my house. We are speech teamers not swim teamers. We have a way with words, not physicality. So let’s just use those words to joke about how we are not the in-shape sort of people and please pass me the Girl Scout Cookies.

I’m not good at being bad at things. If I am bad at something I simply abandon it. I always have. It isn’t a very pretty part of me. It is prideful and selfish. There is an old family joke that our reunion t-shirts should read “If I can’t win, I don’t want to play,” But right now that doesn’t feel like a joke. It feels like me walking out of a yoga class because I wasn’t as good as I thought I was going to be. Or giving up on new technologies because I can’t get them to work right. It feels like resigning myself to the fact that I can’t get anything to grow in my yard and I should just deal with the fact that I will forever have dirt in the backyard and the flower beds or pay someone an arm and a leg to sod the mess.

It feels like me wanting to throw a big hairy tantrum right here right now because no one can give me the things that I want. And I want them NOW!

Then I get a reminder email that if it isn’t humbling it isn’t yoga. And it reminds me that if it isn’t a narrow path, then perhaps I am not on the right one. And then all the stars align and I am able to race to the Y to make the cardio-funk class. I drop the Peanut  and Rooster off in the nursery (where I remember to leave the big one with a snack) and when I think I am being all clever and sneaking out, she looks me dead in the face and waves, “buh-bye, see-ya.” Apparently we’ve adjusted.

I race to the cardio-funk class even though the only funk dance I have ever done is the funky chicken, and somehow I don’t think that counts. In the class are all shapes and sizes, and the front row isn’t limited to the clearly fit. There is a big man up front and he is killin’ it. And there is a woman right in front of me who looks exactly like my mom if she were to do cardio-funk. But the best was the guy in the back corner who is clearly a librarian and NPR enthusiast with his round metal glasses and his perfectly trimmed beard. He is having a blast in the corner.

I decide that if Yoga is only yoga if it is humbling, then Cardio-funk is only cardio-funk if it is fun. And I have a ball. I am just thinking it is too bad Jill couldn’t make it when she shows up right next to me. She still grasps choreography much faster than me. But today the goal wasn’t winning. It was fun. Which was good, because half way through I thought I was going to die. I wanted someone to come in and tell me the Peanut would not stop crying. But alas, I had to push through. And I did. And that was where the winning came in.

Grass Day 5: Not every seed takes

We made it! I blogged all week about grass (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4) I can’t imagine being a farmer and not believing in a God. I get over and over again why the Bible uses agricultural metaphors. And the one I like to avoid is the parable of the sower.

Grass and grass and grass

Maybe not quite that much, Lord.

The bottom line in that parable is that not every seed grows. Every time I have been taught the parable of the sower it is always the same take away “make sure your heart is not of rocky soil, make sure your heart is a place where God’s word can grow.” I think that is a valuable lesson. God does want to sow all kinds of good seeds in my life, and I am discovering some rocky soil in my heart as of late. May God continue to rake it on out of there.

But as I was scattering grass seed in my yard on Saturday, all of a sudden I was looking at that parable not from the perspective of the soil, but from the perspective of the sower. Not every seed I sow is going to grow into a blade of grass or a wildflower. That is not the way things work.

Sometimes the seed doesn’t take because the soil isn’t right, or a bird came and ate it, or the wind blew it away, or it never got watered. But sometimes the seed has everything going for it and it still doesn’t grow. And sometimes grass starts sprouting in the most unlikely of places. Simply because it can.

It is hard for me, to know I can do and say all the right things, and yet sometimes the seed will not grow, that thing I am trying and waiting for simply will not come to fruition. I like to think that if I just work hard enough, that the seeds I plant will all grow. If I just pray enough than everything I am planting will bloom into beautiful works of God. But this is not it. Sometimes I am meant to do the work because God asked me to, and nothing comes of it but a better me.

And sometimes, growth just sprouts up. Just because God is good like that and doesn’t really need me to do anything, or just because He knows I would enjoy it. Grass starts growing in the most unlikely of places, just because that is the way it is.

But it isn’t my job to grow the roots and the stems, to pop hope out of the ground, to make it all work perfectly. It is my job to prepare the soil to the best of my ability, to scatter the seed, to water it until it rains. Growing it isn’t my job. It is God’s. And that is terrifying and peace giving all at the same time.

There is no shame

No one ever told me how strange it would be, to see the things that I had been battling my whole life show up on the face of my daughter. Not yet two years from the day I had her, and already it happened.

The Peanut is a chatty one, and friendly as can be. She is especially friendly when she gets the sense that her parents like the person she is meeting. Our good friend Betsy recently moved back to Atlanta (forever, please). She was awesome enough to babysit on Valentines day and then this weekend she accompanied us to the farmers market. We were consistently mistaken as the two hottest lesbian moms in the place.

But before we left for the farmers market, the Peanut was showing off her new tricks by naming the people we pointed at. Mommy, check. Daddy, check. Rilla, check. She even informed us that Rilla also went by sister. But then we pointed at Betsy. She has said Betsy’s name before, which is pretty impressive considering the Peanut is not yet two and this was the second time she had met Betsy. But in that moment, she didn’t know it. And she looked for a long time at Betsy, then looked to the ground, crawled off Betsy’s lap, and walked over to her daddy, being cute.

I suppose I could be projecting on her, but somehow I don’t think so. She was embarrassed, ashamed that she could not remember someone’s name. Someone that mommy and daddy like.

In the past I have been easily shamed. I can remember verbal smacks from elementary school teachers that I didn’t even like. And to this day they burn. I used to spend hours at night reviewing in my head things that were said to me, things that I said, what I should have said, why that person said what they did. It was so much wasted time, wasted energy, wasted moments when I could be sleeping. For whatever reason, I could not let  those things simply roll off my back. I was embarrassed; sometimes I was ashamed.

It has taken me a long time to fully embrace the grace that Christ has to offer. To simply think “when you know better, you do better” and then go on about the business of attempting to do better. And even now, the people who are closest to me know that I am a serial apologizer. I say “sorry” for things that are not at all my fault. But I am working on it. I am doing better every day.

I don’t want my daughter to carry the that weight, the weight that I was carrying around for years. The weight that I now leave at the cross. I don’t want her to feel embarrassed or ashamed when she doesn’t know something or makes an honest mistake.

I want her to know that God’s grace isn’t just sufficient enough to cover our sins and squeak us barely in to heaven. It is abundant, and covers the rest when our best isn’t good enough. God’s grace is sufficient enough to take what you give Him and turn it into something beautiful. Even if what you give him isn’t the perfect right thing. It doesn’t have to be, just your best love. God thinks that is grand,

And I want her to know that we think her best is grand too. And all the people who love her, they think her best is perfect. Even when it isn’t good enough.

I Can’t Talk About Me Like That

Today started out like that other terrible day this week. Rooster is running a mild fever do to her four month vaccines so she is uncomfortable and can’t sleep well and I was just going to lay my head down for 5 more minutes….and this time I didn’t wake up until 17 minutes after I am supposed to leave the house. And the traffic was terrible because no one in Atlanta really knows what inclement weather is so they slow down to 35 when it is a little rainy out. (Seriously people, 75/85 isn’t just the interstate number, it should be the speed minimum!)

So I had to call my co-worker for the second time in three days and ask her to unlock my door. When I showed up at school the announcements were on. Another co-worker who also has an itty-bitty and a blooming toddler at home was holding down the fort. Both women told me it was no problem as I admitted how embarrassed I was. As the voice in my head chided, two days in a week you pull this? Get it together Abby!

And the worst part is, I may have lied to them. (I did) I may have told them that I was late because the Rooster had a fever, and not because the Rooster had a fever which made me tired so I made Christian take her a half hour before the alarm went off, so I lazily fell asleep after I turned off my alarm. (I just left out the part that made me look bad.)

Lucky for me the Lord convicted my heart and gave me the chance to come clean and apologize. My sweet grace giving colleagues forgave me and decided the grace they extended previously still stood. (I was not planning on confessing in person. I was planning on sticking an apology on here where neither of them go…that dang pride again.)

I was, I am, ashamed that I messed it up twice this week. My pride could not get over it. I am better than that. Other people are just big screw ups, but not me. I am not allowed to over sleep because I don’t do that. But I do, do that. I was easily the biggest screw up in my department this week, and it isn’t even Friday yet.

This morning I tweeted this: Kill my pride oh Lord; steal it from me. Let your grace fill those spaces.

God has heard my prayer of less than 140 characters. I decided to fight the lie that I am not good enough by treating myself to lunch, on a day I certainly did not deserve it. Besides, I had to go to the bank because I had no toll money to get home.

On the way out of the door I ran in to a teacher on duty. (Duty- the time once a week a teacher has to stand somewhere and bother every kid that walks by for a pass. It is necessary, but it is no fun.) She asked me where I was going and I asked her if she needed anything. Was I going to Starbuck’s? I was not. So we left it at that. Until my errands drove me right into the Starbucks parking lot. Literally, my bank and the Starbucks have adjoining parking lots. Cafe Mocha’s for everybody!!!

And when I delivered it to her, she told me I was good to her. She told me I was good, and I believed her. In that moment, by God’s grace, I was good. Not a screw up, not someone who better start doing better. And I had a beautiful conversation with another mom about how we don’t give ourselves the grace we give everyone else.

Sometime in mid-October I was telling Jill all the terrible things I was and she stopped me with this line, “I’m sorry, but I don’t let anyone talk about my sister like that.” She doesn’t let anyone say mean things about me, not Starcha who told me I was buck-toothed in the second grade who Jill threatened to beat up in the cafeteria, and not me about myself in my own kitchen. And now, I don’t either. I’m sorry, but I can’t talk about me like that.

Welcome to Franceland

WARNING: The following story happens within the metaphysical space my sisters have dubbed “Franceland.” Franceland is the space where we who are married to or are descendants of John S France screw up in a very specific sort of way. The classic example of Franceland is leaving the car for someone to use, but taking all sets of keys (including their set) with you. This happens more than we would like to admit, and more times than you would believe. This story is far more ridiculous than that. Feel free to be completely amused at my expense.

Last night I got all ready for bed and wandered upstairs. For the first time in a long time. I remembered both my Kindle and my phone so I did not have to trudge up and down the stairs multiple times when I just wanted to go to sleep.

At four the Rooster woke me up to feed her and on my way back into the bed I noticed that my phone was nowhere to be found. So I woke Christian up to set his Ipod as a back up (which he did without even grumbling). I was sure I took the phone upstairs and it would go off but just in case….

Fastforward to the Peanut waking up and Christian checking the time and “I’m really sorry Abby, but it is 7:04.” Turns out I took Christian’s phone upstairs, not mine. I am supposed to leave my house at 7.  I jump out of bed and rush around the house as quickly as possible and have to leave the Peanut in a fit on the floor because I am leaving. Never did I think I would be glad I leave every morning before the Peanut gets up, but it turns out I am.

And I need gas, like really need it. So I get gas and text someone that I will be late but am coming, and rush to work as fast as possible and make it to my classroom with about 6 minutes before the bell rings.

Right as that bell rings my most jocky of jock students points to the floor and says, “Ummmm, Ms. Norman I think you dropped something….” Right in front of his desk is a breast pad, which he thinks is a maxi-pad, that I did not put in because I was trying to save time and I figured  would put them in between classes.

Then I explained to a room full of tenth graders that I am still breastfeeding and sometimes my boobs leak, as I blushed uncontrollably and probably should have stopped talking but babbled on. I do that when I am uncomfortable. Even when the little man in my head is screaming JUST STOP TALKING. Because while I am a huge advocate of a woman’s right to breastfeed anywhere anyhow, it is still awkward to talk about when you are talking to adolescent boys about your boobs specifically. I am blushing just typing that.

So I was having trouble gaining traction anyway as I stumbled through the discussion about Antigone when my phone rings. My phone never rings during class, I leave the front of the room to discover Christian has called. Something is wrong.

Yup, something sure is wrong. Specifically, I took the car seat and the double stroller with me to work. And the Rooster has a doctor’s appointment. When Christian asked me what we were going to do, I answered “we are going to call Tiffany to come rescue us.” So he called Tiffany, who ditched her plans for the day, and by God’s mercy had an extra car seat. She got herself and her two-month-old in the car and delivered the car seat to Christian so he could take both girls to the doctor sans the double stroller (I have no idea how he got them both into the doctor’s office). Meanwhile I was frantically calling the Doctor’s office to see if they could delay our appointment.

They could reschedule the appointment (yeah!) for one thirty which is too close to Christian’s class today (boo!). So I had to teach my class amidst all of this. It was a disaster to put it mildly. Out of my mouth came, “This is why I am a teacher and not a surgeon, in this profession I can just say, well botched that one, we will try again tomorrow.”

Mostly, it was this. I have three jobs, mom, wife, teacher, and in that moment I was failing at all three. All of them. I was trying to laugh it off, but my kids could tell I wanted to cry.

Tiffany did in fact come to the rescue. Christian got the Rooster to her appointment (18th percentile weight, 72nd height, 75th head size) and the Dr. gave us the okay to turn the Peanut’s car seat around.

All is well that ends well I suppose. I am so grateful for the community of people I have in my life that would abandon their plans because I botched mine. I am trying hard to simply chalk this up to Franceland antics and laugh it off, and I am sure I will. But right now it stings a little. I suppose that is my pride again. I am certainly glad that Jesus’ mercy is new every morning. I could use a re-do tomorrow.

Confessions of a Grudge Holder

You would think I would have learned my lesson by now. The one about withholding forgiveness do to my skewed sense of justice. The justice that does not hold hands with mercy but instead demands that I get my due right now! The justice that, when I have occasionally gotten it, leaves me vindicated….and hollow inside. Not at all the way I thought I would feel. Because that justice isn’t of the Lord and from the Lord. It does not wait for the redeemer to come and paint a beautiful picture out of a fragmented mess. That justice is of the world……and this is not the first time it has seduced my heart.

 
You see, I am a grudge holder. Part of it comes from my excellent memory. I remember what people promised and did not, said and did not say. I remember. And more often than I care to admit, I hold it against them. And when the Lord calls me to repent, to go to my sister and brother in Christ and confess that my heart has been hard toward them….I tell Him no.
 
I grew up spending summers at my grandparents lake. There were thirteen cousins when I was young, with ten of us squished in to the span of 10 years. It was fun much of the time, but when there are that many cousins squished that close together, someone is bound to feel left out. And the dynamics were not in my favor. Looking back from an adult perspective I can tell you that much of the time it wasn’t anyones fault, and with my propensity for fit throwing I probably deserved some of  those doors that were slammed in my face. But I needed someone to blame. So I picked my cousin Rachel, the one who was born just six months before me. The one who had no need or desire for the close relationship that I longed for.  I hardened my ten year old heart toward her. And as I grew older I did not put away the ways of my childhood. I continued my grudge-holding. 
 
When I was in college we both were believers and the Lord called me to confess to her, that I had been storing up slights (real and imagined) since I was ten and holding them against her without her knowledge. But I refused. “No,” I told him, “she snubbed me she should go first. If she has this relationship with you then she should know how much she hurt me. She should come to me. I deserve that.” Typing this now makes me cringe. What a foolish brat I was. Year after year when we were getting together at Christmas or in the summer I would hear the Lord call, and every year I ignored it. I had stopped adding new slights to the pile and figured that was good enough. Even when I knew it wasn’t. 
 
Rachel died in a car accident the summer we were twenty-one. I never did have that conversation with her. I know I shorted myself out of the relationship that God intended for me to have, and it jacked up my relationship with my aunt for awhile. Until I confessed it all to her. She was gracious enough to forgive me. Good thing she isn’t a grudge holder.
 
A month ago I wrote a post about Christ-Giving, about how I wanted to give this advent season the way that Christ had given to me. At the time I was thinking about financial generosity. He has been so generous to our family this year. But that is not what the Lord had in mind, and apparently He takes the intentions I profess to the internet seriously. He gave me forgiveness, and He has been asking me to forgive others, more like He forgives me. You know, no strings attached. And oh is my heart a tangled mess of strings attached it seems.
 
I was called to let go of a grudge I had been nursing for a long time. Grudges are like stray cats; they only hang around as long as you feed them. And if I am really honest with myself I have been nursing that grudge because I know that the person I was mad at doesn’t really understand how badly I was hurt, and likely never will. I only wanted to confess my grudge if that person would then tell me how I had a right to it, and that I was of course forgiven because what they did was in fact as terrible as I had thought. I only wanted to confess if I would be told that my grudge holding had been justified all along. Which, thrown out in plain English like that, isn’t much of a confession at all. 
 
But that wasn’t God’s plan. Before any interaction with this person my dear neighbor Esther, who speaks truth in a gentle way I hope to one day emulate, had looked at me and said: perhaps the Lord will allow you to restore your relationship. If that wasn’t enough, the Lord gave me the exact words to say on Saturday, moved me to tears in worship on Sunday, and then because God knows just how stubborn He made me, had my pastor list the fruit of the spirit, and stick forgiveness where faithfulness belongs. I know my pastor knows the verse, that slip of the tongue was just for me.
 
And then God showed me something else. That I had been extending grace and mercy in a certain situation only because I expected that person to repent, and repent soon. The string attached to the love I had been so proudly extending to my friend was that she would change on my timeline. And I was frustrated because my time limit had come and gone and yet….no outward change. I felt like this person didn’t deserve that grace and mercy anymore because they hadn’t changed. How gross is that?
 
Christ has given me forgiveness, no strings attached. Even if I never repented of anything He still would have come to earth as a baby and grown into the man who chose to die a horrendous death for the sins that I committed. And this Christmas season, I want the gifts that my savior has given me to spur me to give to others, even if that doesn’t mean what I thought it meant when I wrote it the first time. And the Lord has certainly granted me forgiveness. Even forgiveness for holding grudges; no strings attached.
 
I don’t want to be a grudge holder anymore. The Lord has scrubbed that crevice of my heart clean. It is raw and a little tender to the touch, but that piece of my heart is clean. 
 
 
 

It’s complicated.

I had a hard conversation last night. One of those conversations that you dread getting into and don’t feel any better at the end. I felt like I was supposed to speak up, but now I don’t know. I could have said some things better, not said some things better. And I find myself thinking about it today. Lucky for me the person that I had the conversation with, we value each other and our relationship more than one awkward conversation that ends in……”well, I’m glad we can be honest with each other.” And this person had the grace to email me afterward, just to affirm that this would not change the way we loved each other. Which I appreciate, I needed.

Sometimes friendship is hard, relationships are hard, community is hard. Sometimes you are caught between saying and not, going or not, waiting or not, and there isn’t a clear right answer. You can’t figure out what the most loving thing to do is. You pray for guidance, but there is still mostly grey, when you are a black and white kind of girl.

You remember the time in the 6th grade when you very sincerely wore your WWJD bracelet, and looked down at it, and contemplated the ramifications of inviting the girl who no one had talked to your entire elementary school career to hang out with you at lunch….and then play with you at recess. You were sort of on the edges of the crowd as it was and you know you are risking a very uncomfortable rest of the year if this goes poorly. But at least that was clear. At least there was a very clear biblical precedent of Jesus inviting the outcast to eat with Him. Jesus would invite this girl. Clearly. So you did, and it worked out.

But right now there are a whole host of things that you don’t know how to respond to. You no longer have the bracelet, but asking the questions embroidered onto it leaves you with a new acronym sixth graders have been using, IDK. You don’t know what Jesus would do. As much as people like to pretend that the behavior of Jesus was completely consistent; that all we have to do is follow a set of rules that are clearly laid out in the Bible, you’ve actually read that book and it isn’t so clear. Jesus responded differently to what seem like the same set of circumstances. And you are neither omniscient nor omnipotent and you don’t want to pretend that you are.

There is just so much grey lately, and you aren’t very good at grey. You just want to do the loving thing……and are afraid of unintentionally doing a very unloving thing in the name of doing a loving thing because you did in fact do the wrong thing in the name of love. And it is all as confusing and jumbled up as that last sentence. You realize that there are times that you will in fact do the exact wrong thing. But that the grace and love that you are trying to extend to others is also extended to yourself. So you rest in the knowledge that that grace is enough, even as you stumble through the grey patches.

What I did this weekend.

Today I am scared. I feel like I am going to throw up. But also, I am proud of myself. I finished my book this weekend. Not that book, the one that has been hanging over my head for four years. Instead I finished the children’s book that God laid on my heart a month or so ago. The one God was talking about when He spoke to me as I was looking at myself in the mirror brushing my teeth. “I gave you the kids book because you are afraid of the other book. So finish it, and give it to me and I will prove to you what I can do.” I suppose I shouldn’t need proof from God that He can provide all my wants and needs. Just look at my great little family.

But stuff I create somehow feels different.It is hard for me to value my own writing. I am not even sure why, I mean, you people read this thing after all! (Thank you for that, I really do feel privileged.) The self doubt screams at me, “Who do you think you are anyway?” I didn’t have an answer for that. Until I read this. And the answer is so simple.Who cares about who I am, this isn’t about me. This is about not who I am. This is about THE I am, and my obedience to Him. And this weekend (because Christian took the kids, thank you!) I was obedient. I wrote a book that the Lord had laid on my heart. I don’t know what He is going to do with it. I am terrified of the rejection I may have set myself up for. But I did it. This weekend, I was faithful. And I need to trust that the God who has always been faithful to me in everything will also be faithful in this. But I still kind of want to puke.