Year 4

January 31, 2015

Every Birthday, I write a letter to my son. Here is this year’s:


Dear Son,

This fourth year of your life has been hard. Really hard. Hard enough to make your mama’s knees get worn out from praying. Hard enough to make us cry many tears. Hard enough to consume our lives, our minds, our souls, even our bank accounts.

You have been sick.

I remember last year, as the impact of your illness was just beginning to show, my prayer was that by your 4th birthday you would be well. Back to strength. Back to health. Back to ability. But I did not get that prayer. You are still sick. You are still struggling. You are still behind. You still lack ability. Every day I find myself whispering to God to bring you back fully, completely. Every night I am thankful for the small inches of growth given that day. And on nights I have nothing to say thank you for, I simply breathe out prayer for strength to keep moving through this.

When I think of all we have lost, I drown in sorrow. But we have gained things too. We have gained a knowledge of you that I don’t think we would have had without this long illness. We have learned that parenting can so easily become wrapped up tightly in small silly things that drive parents crazy, and we have realized that those things matter so very little in the face of what truly matters. We don’t “sweat the small stuff” and so we rejoice that you drew on your sheets with a marker knowing that a few months earlier you didn’t have the strength in your hands to hold a marker. We don’t get irritated at the stream of jargon from your lips because we know that you could have easily been kept silent forever. There are big things and there are little things, and we don’t waste our stress on the little things. In fact, there’s little margin in the bandwidth of our stress levels to stress the little things. We have to reserve what we have for things that matter. Read the rest of this entry »

I haven’t written much since I was waiting for contact from someone. He emailed yesterday- this kind man and pastor who oversees a number of churches in a particular region- expressing some of his thoughts at recent disappointing event. And once I heard from him, I felt free to try to sort out thoughts in writing.

We had another near miss with a church- a beautiful, interesting, creative church that would have been as close to perfect in fit for us (and us for them) as possible. But for whatever reason, they took a sharp turn toward someone else. And even in our disappointment and broken love for this church, we bless the candidate who will lead them next into their new season of change and growth.

Yet this has been hard to swallow. It is not the first time that an interesting and compelling church has slipped through our fingers so close to the finish. As a friend of mine describes, “It feels like always being a bridesmaid but never a bride.” That friend now pastors a wonderful church where he feels right at home. I rejoice with him.

Since seminary, one of my spiritual practices is to use the narratives of the Bible to help make sense of my own story. So at different points in the journey, I have found companions in Abraham and Sarah. Or Peter in prison. Or Job in pain. Or Lazarus’ death and resurrection. Or even Epaphroditis who burned himself out in ministry. This practice has allowed me to explore parts of scripture that inform my own experiences, that inform my theology about those experiences. And quite frankly, they offer hope. Which I’m pretty sure is in short supply for many of us and we need it.

Recently, I’ve bounced between the narratives of the Israelites’ victory over Jericho and Joseph’s story in Genesis. Joseph probably more than Jericho. Yeah… Joseph has been my buddy lately. In fact, I’m pretty sure we are at the part when he’s in prison, gifted with God’s presence the favor of the warden to use his gifts and excel, but being forgotten in the injustice of a butler’s lack of memory. Yeah… I’m pretty sure we are there.  Read the rest of this entry »