Sunday, June 29, 2008

2 Stories Worth Telling


A friend of Pete's and mine, Dominick, is a helicopter pilot looking for a job, which as you may imagine is difficult in Grand Rapids. A few months back he was driving home and he sensed very clearly from God that he was supposed to turn left on an upcoming street. He turned left, and God pointed out a house that he had never seen before. He heard God tell him to knock on the door, so he knocked on the door. No one was home and Dominick left.

A couple months later, Dominick felt very strongly that he was supposed to go back to the house. This time the man was home, though he was thoroughly confused as to why a young man with a Swiss-German accent was at his doorstep. The owner of the house turned out to be a Christian who believes that God can speak to people like Dominick. He also happens to work for Air Med in Grand Rapids. They had an awkward conversation, and they said goodbye.

After the man shut the door, Dominick knew that something wasn't complete. He asked God, Was that it? And God said, That wasn't it. So Dominick knocked on the door for the third time. This time, the man gave Dominick a number of a contact person, but warned that the company hadn't hired a new pilot in the 15 years that he had worked there. Dominick called the contact person and learned Air Med was officially looking for a new helicopter pilot. His application is in process.


Some friends of ours are praying for a second child. They were told the first time around that they would not be able conceive naturally, but God blessed them with their beautiful son.

They have been praying and considering In Vitro this time around, and have felt peace through every step of the medical process. At an appointment last week, the doctor reiterated that their chances of conceiving naturally were slim to absolutely none.

"Like I tell everyone in your situation," he said, "I have only heard of one couple who concieved naturally with this particular condition." He rummaged through some files in the back, and returned with wide eyes. "And you were that couple."


Why would God tell Dominick to knock on the door of an empty house?

And which is further against the odds? Their chances of conceiving a baby? Or: the doctor relaying an impossible statistic, unknowingly, to the one couple who had experienced the impossible.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


It is important to be hard-working and productive, but I have profound admiration for people who take vacationing seriously. Because it is a serious matter. Vacation requires an entire rearranging of your scheduled life; you must cancel weekly appointments, create special outgoing voice mails, and otherwise arrange for your absence. Vacation requires an understanding that everything can and will go on without you, the way it will when you die. As I said, vacation is a serious matter.

My husband's parents are vacationing role models. When Doug (my father-in-law) was going through graduate school, him and Kathy lived in a double-wide trailer and spent their college loan money on travels. My husband has no early childhood memories of video games (they didn't own a system), but he has seen every state minus Alaska and Washington. He also has been to Disney World 21 times in his 24 years (which, yes, I agree is excessive).

The best thing about spending your time and money on vacations, I think, is this: unlike material things that break or burn or get phased out, you will hardly ever regret a vacation. Even the terrible ones where you get into fights and break your ankle just turn into funny stories. So even though it's more difficult to plan a vacation than buy a new entertainment system, the memories never become out of style, and their value only increases as life moves on and seasons change.

I call that investment, not spending.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Heaven and Birthdays

For my 8th birthday I had a tea party. By noon on December 14, the table was set with a white table cloth, flowers, a platter of pink cupcakes and my mom's eclectic china set. I looked at the beautiful spread, admired my floral dress in the mirror, and threw up on the kitchen floor out of sheer excitement.

I've cooled down a little since then, but I still anticipate things pretty intently, and I enjoy doing so.

Which is why I hate surprises. At least, the kind of surprises when I know something is coming but can't know what it is. It's juvenile, it's silly, but it's true. My husband wanted to surprise me with our honeymoon location, but there was no way I could have let that happen. I annoyed him to a breaking point and never regretted it. We poured over travel books and I bought about a dozen bikinis that I haven't worn since.

I think this is why it's hard for me to anticipate heaven. Heaven is like God saying, "Listen, I'm planning our honeymoon. That's all I'm telling you. Nope - no pictures. Nope - no travel books. I'm not even going to tell you if it's tropical."

He probably figures that if I knew, I would throw up all over the kitchen.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I am so thankful that Sarah Barlow convinced me to get StatCounter, because otherwise I would never have known that people have accessed my site after searching the following phrases on Google:

Living like Anne Shirley

1 Month of Starvation


I'm pooping out water whats wrong with me

(Don't worry person who is pooping out water! I can't tell who you are, so you have nothing to be embarrassed about. And I'm sorry that my blog didn't have any information about what is wrong with you; I suggest you eat more fiber and see a doctor.)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pleasant Boundaries

Growing up, I had neighborhood boundaries that marked the precise lot of land that I was free to roam. My world was squared in by a fence, a street, a sidewalk and the top of a hill. Within the boundaries were my house, my best friend's house, my bike-riding sidewalk, a yard to play tag, a porch to play Boxcar Children, and a green electric box to stand on and shout, "I'm QUEEN OF THE WORLD!" when my parents weren't watching.

I was content with three of my four boundary lines; I didn't have any real desire to cross the road or sidewalk or jump the fence. But one summer I grew a particular resentment towards the line that separated me and the hill. Despite my passionate plea, my parents failed to grant me an extension, and I was resigned to standing at the top and staring forlornly at it's exotic, descending enticements. My friends were overjoyed to exploit their liberty by running, skipping and rolling like barrels to the bottom while I watched.

Eventually I was allowed to go to the bottom of the hill, at which point I realized that my friends had been pretending to have a lot more fun than what the hill really had to offer. But I remained suspicious of boundaries and what they might be keeping me from, particularly boundaries like time and money that keep me from traveling more, giving more, and spending more time investing in more relationships. I understand boundaries that keep me from sin, but why are there constraints that keep me from good things in life?

Boundaries will always exist around the finite things in life such as time and money. But what I'm learning is that boundaries are necessary in order to explore the infinite within the finite.

I can introduce myself to every single person in my town, but I will never know my husband Pete all the way through.

I could visit every country in Europe, but I will never be able to experience and learn everything about Atrani, Italy.

I could give away every dollar that I make, but I will never get to the end of what it means to be generous.

I could roll like a barrel to the bottom of the hill, but I could never stop finding ways to play in my front yard.

Psalm 16:
Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup.
You have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely, I have a delightful inheritance.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Animal Hospital Walls


I've only been in a veterinary clinic once before, but I remember a similar motif to the one I visited today: uncoordinated wall colors, and random framed drawings of assorted household pets. We were the only ones in the waiting room, but it still took about five minutes for Pete to sign papers authorizing the euthenatia, and another five for the vet to prepare. I started at one side and worked my way around the walls of the animal hospital.

First picture, first question: why would someone draw a picture of such an ugly cat? He or she must have really loved the cat. Still, wouldn't this artist realize that even though she loved the cat, no one else would value a framed picture of such a hideous looking creature? An inscription was printed on the bottom right corner of the matting: It's always hard to lose a family member. Thank you for easing my pain. With love, Cindy.

I moved on to a picture of a man with a fishing pole, glancing over his shoulder to his trailing dog. It was the very picture of man and his faithful companion - I don't know when artists will realize that this picture has been painted a thousand times over. I told Pete my theory that a dog is everything a man wants in a woman: good listener, rapt audience, non-argumentative, adoring. He nodded but didn't smile.

Across the room was a bulletin board smothered in animal-themed note cards and holiday pictures. One picture was of of a 30-something couple and seven rottweilers. I wondered if this couple had security issues or if they couldn't have children. The names of the dogs read like a top-10 baby names for the past ten years: Emily, Isabelle, Ethan, Ava, Michael... I decided that they couldn't have children. They looked really happy. The Christmas card said Happy Holidays from the Wilson Family!

The private waiting room was the color of a kiwi and had a couch covered in animal fur. Pete sat on a stool and I sat on the arm of a chair. "She was a good bird," he said, and I agreed. The vet came back with Max, who was still moving slightly but quickly stiffened in her hands. "She went to sleep very easily," she said. "I don't think she had a lot of blood left."

We wrapped Max in a cloth and placed her in a box. We thanked the wonderful vet who had said all of the right things and carried Max with such care. I glanced again at its walls covered by the affection of a rare breed of people: animal lovers. I thought, If I were to make an addition to these walls I would inscribe this verse:

Matthew 10:29: Are not sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.

I have always had a somewhat sarcastic bent towards animal lovers. Yet somehow, I think their Christmas cards and ugly cat drawings - and our tears over Max - illustrate a small portion of God's love for his creation.

His eye is on the sparrow.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dreams of Jesus


When I was a little girl, my mom would push my hair back with the palm of her hand and pray over my dreams. "Father, give Joy good dreams," she would say. "Dreams of Jesus."

I don't remember very many dreams of Jesus Himself, but most of my dreams were fun and colorful; I feel fortunate that I escaped childhood nightmares. What I have suffered most of my life have been pre-sleep nightmares. I've had them off and on ever since I was about 12 years old.

My pre-sleep nightmares occur when I get into bed and close my eyes. An image will come to my head - sometimes from a movie, other times from an article or book, and sometimes just from the recesses of my brain (those are the scariest). The image is of someone doing something terrible and atrocious and painful to me or someone I love. Usually I am in another country, and it is tied up in missionary work.

I don't really trust God to keep me safe. Pete said, "I'm trusting that God will take care of us in whatever way that He sees fit." I said, "I don't really know what that means." Sees fit? I trust someone if I think that he will take care of me and protect me to the best of his ability. God has the ability to keep me and my family safe, but the truth is, He may or He may not. And He hasn't promised to keep me safe; in fact, he promises that there will be hardships.

Right now, I care about my body and my emotions and my life more than I desire to glorify God. If bringing God glory required me to be abused or tortured, I'm not sure that it would be worth it to me. I would wish that I had stayed home.

But I'm going because I don't want that to be the case. I want to somehow see outside of myself; I want big picture vision. I want faith. I want to trust. Maybe I'll never trust that God will keep me safe, but I want to trust it's really worth it. I want to trust that I have a strength available to me that isn't my own.

I think that my dreams have been very much protected my whole life. I don't fear sleeping. These images that I allow myself to fall asleep to... I have control over that. I can take control over that. I can fight them, change them, refuse them.

I want to get into bed and have good pre-sleep dreams. I want to fall asleep to visions of Jesus.