Thursday, November 22, 2012

How I want to die

I think about death a lot. I write about death, often.

I am not sure why.

A few Sundays ago, a guest preacher told us a story about his grandmother, and how she died. On the days leading up to her death, hundreds of people came knocking on her door, asking to bid Grandma March one last farewell. Former drug addicts, recovered alcoholics, people she met on the streets, at the grocery stores. They sat by her bed, tattoos and dreadlocks and all, telling stories about how her kindness changed their lives.

The preacher ended his story with this thought,
We are all going to die, right?
I want to die like that.
And I need to start living differently now.

We begin the journey to our deaths at the moment of our births. How I choose to die does not begin the moment I receive a fatal medical diagnosis, or when I am met with a car accident, or the day I turn 65. No, I am dying right now. At this moment.

The length of time I am about to spend finishing this sentence. This is how much closer I am to my death.

How I choose to live is how I choose to die.

I have many favorite quotes from Jonathan Edwards. Some of my favorites are among the words he spoke moments before his unexpected death. For his wife Sarah, who was far away when his sickness struck, he left these words:
Give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her, that the uncommon union, which has so long subsisted between us, has been of such a nature, as I trust is spiritual, and therefore will continue forever.
Shortly after leaving his messages for absent members of his family, he looked about and said,
Now where is Jesus of Nazareth, my true and never failing friend?
I want to die like that.
I want to die longing to see the face of Christ.
But I know I would not wish to see his face at my deathbed
if I do not wish to see his face right now.

Soul, love rightly.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

That which is necessary

Repentance and forgiveness are daily, necessary routines in our marriage. Routine unlike eating dry, plain oatmeal. But the routine of waves. Ebbing, flowing. Covering, returning. Wide, open shores. Big, generous waves.

Repentance and forgiveness do not define our marriage. There is so much more to our lives, entwined. But without them, there would be no us. There would be no life.

On this side of eternity, we dance this awkward waltz. We laugh, we cry. We step on toes, we let it go. We turn and return. We give and forgive. We dance with arms wide open, hands holding fast.

Repentance and forgiveness are daily, necessary routines in our worship. Routines unlike boring, redundant worksheets. But the routine of hungry boys at meal times. The routine of children running outside, of autumns warm and golden.

Repentance and forgiveness do not define our worship, our allegiance. There is so much more to our lives, entwined with Christ. But without these, there would be no life. There would be no worship.

On this side of eternity, our repentance and God's forgiveness are necessary. Rebels before a holy God. Are we to be like a standing tree or the chaff that the wind drives away?

Children, turn and return. God gives and forgives. He waits with arms wide open, his hand holding fast, holding us.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Hans told Emeth the other day that being a missionary is better than being a doctor. Instead of heartily agreeing with my husband, my mind's immediate reaction was, "Really?!"

Hans was right, of course.

I want to be like Hannah who offered her son to serve in the Temple.
I want to sharpen three arrows who would fly and fight in the Lord's winning battle.
I want to raise three men who would lay down their lives for the sake of the Gospel.

Yet, in moments like these, I realized just how bound I still am to the ways of the world.

Let's face it. Our dreams are not outrageously creative. You've seen them. Those inspirational quotes about dreaming big dreams, chasing the moon, falling among the stars. Blah blah blah. To be the best at this, to be the first at that. To be fulfilled, to be distinct, to be authentic. To be "most-something," anything. All is vanity. Nothing is new under the sun.

This is not what I want for my sons.

We are eagles created to fly. We were once bound, dragged down by the miry bog. The Lord in his grace and by his truth has set us free. We are now free to soar. Instead of spreading our wings, however, we are busy, busy, busy—building cages. Cages engraved with our earthly titles. So we can sit in them and have others admire how beautiful are the edifices we have made for ourselves. Some are made of sticks and bricks, others silver and gold. Very impressive. Not really.

Because a cage is a cage is a cage.

We must chose one or the other. Either we seek first and work hard to build the kingdom of heaven, or we seek first and work hard to build our own kingdom of one.

Soul, grace and truth has set you free.
Burn the cage.

*Photo credit: our friend Vivian. Thank you!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

This strange child of mine

This has been by far the strangest of all three pregnancies. I blame my weird behavior on this boy, while I still can.

1. He is very particular. I woke up one Sunday morning, and I knew the exact handbag that I wanted to use that day. A black patent leather bag. He absolutely insisted.

2. He adores stripes and patterns in black, white, and gray. Occasionally, he enjoys splashes of bright red and sage green.

3. He would not let me settle until I find the thing that strikes his fancy. His pickiness has been handy as we have been decorating our new home. He knows exactly what he wants. Last week, we finally found the perfect lampshade. Three months later.

4. His brothers were so easy to please when they were in my belly. They wanted rice, soy sauce, and eggs for breakfast. This guy wants prosciutto. With crunchy toast and French brie.

5. When I was at the deli counter, I heard myself telling the server, "The baby thinks this tastes too much like ham." The kind server actually took me seriously. After evaluating their selection of prosciutto, he chose the most expensive kind. Of course he would. My taste buds are suddenly keenly aware of the different textures, depths of flavor, and the fat contents -- of prosciutto, of all things.

FYI: He only get a quarter of a pound per week.This kid needs some boundaries.

6. Like his brothers, he loves meat. But he likes meat in very particular ways. While I am typing this (at 10:30 p.m.), I am eating a warm chicken salad, with avocado, dried cherries, and a good squeeze of lime juice.

7. He is the most active of the three brothers. His kicks are the most frequent and the strongest, especially when I am trying to sleep. At twenty weeks, the brothers felt like butterflies in my tummy. With him, I could see my belly shaking and protruding at various places.

8. Occasionally, he wants an icy drink of squeezed lemon juice. With salt. His dad prefers honey.

9. He gives me severe writer's block.

10. But he makes me paint and draw. A pleasure lost to me for the past six years. He somehow brought it back.

11. He makes me cry. Not a lot (thankfully). But about the most unexpected things. I would be chopping vegetables, and bam! A thought would come and the tears would start.

12. He is a late bloomer. During the first and second trimesters, the ladies at church were convinced that I was pregnant with a girl. Everyone kept telling how "normal" I looked, and how I "glowed." According to them, I was so big, swollen, and puffy during the first two pregnancies.

Yeah. I think I lost my glow. And I am back to being big, swollen, and puffy again.
I am definitely having another boy. I can't wait.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A diptych for the kitchen

That I may cast my eyes on the true bread and the true wine
as my hands work to create mere shadows of divine things.
That I may remember how manna rained from heaven and water gushed out of rocks
when little hungry people are crying to be fed.

Soul, be still, for our God provides all our needs.

That the Lord may feed true food to all who gather at our table,
family, friends, travelers, foreigners, strangers.

That we may taste the Feast of Life.
That our hunger may be satisfied, our thirst quenched.
That we may love rightly and truly.

That we may remember the Body that was broken for us,
the Blood that was shed for us.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.