Lent – with cake

March 4, 2009

I know. Lent with cake sounds upside down. Lent is a time of penitence, of focusing on what it costs to follow this Jesus person. Each Lent, as I spend forty days in purposeful absention, I learn something new about God and myself. Cake doesn’t sound like purposeful absention. But this year, it is.

In the past, I’ve given up dishonorable speech for Lent (i.e. no gossip). I’ve made committments to pray and sit with God for an hour each day. Once, I spent my Lent praying for forgiveness for all the crap I’d done to people (including myself) in my twenties. Without fail, the leanings of my heart about what to focus on guided me deeper into my relationship with the Living God, so that each Lent, I stepped into the rest of the year spiritually fed and awake.

Gradually, my insights from Lent have been integrated into my day-to-day life. This Lent, I feel very aware of some of those integrations. I made a choice a long time ago to give my life over to Christ. I knew then and I know now that I would do that imperfectly and often sloppily. But when I gave over my vocational life, I put my life in His hands, instead of my own. That has meant, at times, less money, less security, and less clarity.  He has always provided – I’ve never been without a roof or food or friends. The yoke of that decision is light – but not without its accompanying worries.

Those worries have become burdens and even barriers in my faith life. I’ve been so confused and angry at God that I have spent weeks where my only prayers ran along the lines of, “What in YOUR NAME are you DOING?!” or “WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU?” While I think it’s good and fine for me to be honest with God, I’ve often become stuck in those frustrations and fears, which I think are rooted in a lack of lively, creative, childlike trust in Him. I despair at times that He is really with me. I allow the circumstances of my life to determine how I feel about the Spirit. This is backwards. The Spirit has the power to determine how I approach my circumstances.

So this Lent, as my husband and I pray for provision and eat beans and tofu instead of something pricier and tastier, I am giving up despair for Lent. This Lent, I am focusing on the power that can raise the dead. “Resurrection power!” to quote my Pentecostal brothers and sisters. This Lent, G-Whiz and I are making one cake every week, to celebrate the fact that God is a good God – who delivers a delicious, abundant life – no matter what the circumstances may be. This Lent, I am choosing to abstain from despairing that God is good and God is present. With each tasty bite I plan on increasing my faith and setting down my fears.

Pictures of Lenten Cake #1 – Lemon Cake – soon to come.

(Quand meme, Jesu, viens vite!)


What am I giving up for Lent?

February 25, 2009


Details soon.

The cul-de-sac of faithfulness

February 22, 2009

This past Friday, I was out walking on a suburban street with my eighth grade English group. They come, if you can imagine, from 4-6 pm on a Friday afternoon, to do vocabulary, to read and to discuss literature with me. Oddly, they are all boys, and there are only three of them. On our walk, I asked them to pay attention to details as they looked around the California suburbs, to use those details in a writing we were going to do later.  I’d never walked on that particular street, and it turned out to be a dead end, so our walk was short.  When we got back to class, I wrote about the dead end being a surprise to me.  As I was writing, one of the students asked me how to spell cul-de-sac.  I almost laughed out loud.  He was right, it wasn’t a dead end, but a perfectly tidy, circular cul-de-sac.

When we were out walking, I was once again surprised by my own life. What a strange way to spend Friday afternoon. I finally know what I love to do vocationally, but I am hanging out with three thirteen year olds, walking down a suburban dead end cul-de-sac. This is not chaplaincy.

I do not mind so much, anymore, that it has taken me so long to find the thing that I love to do so much. But waiting to do it, the time that it is taking to equip myself to do it, that wears on me sometimes. The economic realities of my family’s life dictate that I cannot do another full-time un-paid CPE internship right now.  I need to do two more internships.  The possibility exists that I may find a paid internship, but they are rare.  I want nothing more than to be walking through a hospital, meeting people and having the opportunity to accompany them on their walk through difficult times.

Instead, I’m working at an after-school program, teaching English.  I am very grateful for the work, especially given our economy’s downhill nature these days.  My husband has been looking for work for about three months now, which is also dispiriting.  I was laid off from my ESL teaching job in January.  With all my heart, I wish I could be making a living (even a small living!) doing the work that I love.  But, for now, I simply can’t.

This brings me to faithfulness.  These days, when we pray “give us this day our daily bread,” we pray it fervently.  When we give thanks, as we do at every meal, we do it even more reverently.  There is something about being on the edge of poverty (I know we are not nearly as close as many) that makes us even more grateful for what we do have.  We are trying to be faithful, to hold on to just a mustard seed of faith in a time of great unknowing and great need.

I try not to despair, to think of all the things that could derail me from the path that I believe God’s asked me to take.   Jesus meant something when he told us that moving a mountain was something we could ask for and expect.  He wasn’t joking, I assume.  My husband keeps moving forward, looking for some kind of job that a former pilot could do well, even if it’s not for much money.  This continual searching without much positive feedback requires the fuel of hope and faith on his part.

Faithfulness for me, right now, means trusting that God’s hand is at work in the midst of our want and confusion, even though I can barely discern what His hand is doing.  Faithfulness is not giving up on a dream of serving His people.  It means that even though I’m walking on what looks like a dead end, as the eighth grader reminded me, it is not a dead end.  It’s a cul-de-sac.  Hopefully this time will be like a cul-de-sac in my life.  I will get to the end of it, turn around and be back out on the road that I want to be travelling.

John Adams, via HBO, ROCKS

February 7, 2009

I love learning about American history.  A lot of it leaves me feeling a little depressed, but some of it makes me proud to be an American.  I’ve always loved the story of the American revolution – it’s amazing to me.  My husband and I have been watching the HBO movie “John Adams” (I don’t know if that’s the right term, maybe it’s a mini-series?) and it is amazing.  It’s as if all these little pieces of the revolution that I knew are all fitting into a fleshed out context.  Jefferson, Franklin, Abigail Adams, John Adams, the early discussions about the Declaration of Independence – everything makes more sense now.  It’s the best thing I’ve seen on film in a very long time – satisfying intellectually, dramatically and visually.  And how awesome is it that I live with someone as square and geeky as myself, who wants to spend Friday night watching historical films about John Adams.

I wish we could get one of those revolutionary flags to fly at our house.  My favorite is the “Appeal to Heaven” flag.  That’s right, y’all, we’re APPEALING TO HEAVEN we’re so sick of being Britain’s bitches colonies!!  It would be a welcome change of pace from those damn bunny “Happy Easter” suburban house flag things.  God I hate those things.

Sick children are just so much fun

February 3, 2009

Aren’t they? Bee (7) is home with the flu, and she is unbelievably cantankerous.  She’s even tried to pick fights with everyone. It is simultaneously funny and enervating. It’s hard, because I genuinely feel bad for her, she has a fever and doesn’t feel well. But then there are moments like last night when we had to give her medicine. It was as if we were going to do an amputation with no anaesthetic. And we pulled out ALL the tricks, including a spoon-full of cinnamon sugar after the medicine. Still, some of it ended up on her neck, the floor and her shirt. Nice.

It makes me wonder how people with a passel of kids deal with this. I remember I used to read a blog of a mom with seven or eight kids, and they were incessantly ill. I guess those parents must develop parenting limbs that we don’t have to. Get well soon Bee!

Sleep, one of the coolest things EVER

January 27, 2009

I had the best sleep last night – almost eight solid hours of rest.  This is one of the thousands of reasons that I will never be Speaker of the House, Secretary of State, or even just the over-acheiver of Eagle Rock.  I love to sleep.  I feel so fabulous when I get enough sleep.  And so crappy when I don’t.

Since finishing my last Clinical Pastoral Education internship in early January, I’m looking around my house and realizing that being so insanely busy for four months and also SLEEPING means that there are still parts of my house that I have not really moved into  yet.  Mostly closets and small piles of things here and there.  It’s so wierd how once a pile of books/papers/whatever sits tidily in a corner for a while, it ceases to even register.  It becomes part of the house’s scenery.

There is one pile in the dining room that has a Japanese writing desk in need of refurbishment, a spanish dictionary, a spa certificate, two journals, and  Tasha’s ashes.  Hmm.  I’m really not sure how to appropriately distribute those things.  Or how they ended up all together in the first place.

I miss the hospital so much it hurts.  It is so hard to finally know what shape of ministry I really love and not be able to do it Right Now.  I’m praying, as ever, that the One Who Is In Charge will help things along and I’ll be back doing what I love sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, I can tidy up around here.

World’s most neglected. . . blog

January 19, 2009

I’m on the island visiting my parents.  G-Whiz is with me, and we are having a nice time doing abso-freaking-lutely nothing.   

So much has happened since July 14 I am not even sure where to start.  

I miss writing on this little blog, so this is just my little statement to myself and the universe: I is back!