"God showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand… and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought: 'What can this be?' And it was generally answered thus: 'It is all that was made.' It was so small I thought it might disappear, but I was answered... everything has being through the love of God." --Julian of Norwich

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Trust: The butterflies

 

The good Lord has me in the wringer these days.

It has begun to sink in that everything in our lives is about to change, that giving up the crazy patchwork life that we’ve been living—how many jobs can one man work?!—also means giving up a lot of things I love.  Because a new job for Clint probably means moving.  

Moving.  

Moving and I have a history.  Like that one period of 18 months in college when I moved seven times.

Last week this reality hit me hard, in my very body.  My stomach gets that light, tumbly feeling like when I’ve jumped off of something high up and I’m falling.  My throat constricts with grief:  If we move out of the Lower Mainland of BC, how will I make it without my friends?  Without this apartment we call home?  Without all the community resources in our neighborhood?  Without Avalon whipping cream? (Trivial but crucial for someone with allergy)

But seriously: we don’t have any idea what our future will look like beyond August.  Like none.  We have wishes and dreams and that's it. Where will we live?  What will our lives look like?  How will we make ends meet?  Will we all be able to be together while we file the right papers with the right immigration authorities and wait interminable waits? (ok, now I hope I’m being irrational)  How will I keep the girls safe and happy and fed on time?  What will we take with us and what will we leave behind?

Can you feel it with me?  Those tummy-butterflies?

When I was younger I lived on this uncertainty.  This is the life I chose for myself: international travel, perpetual schooling, bustling cities, risk-taking ministry, small apartments, smaller income.  There is an exhilaration to taking a jump, packing a vehicle with everything you own and heading off for the unknown.  But now that I’m in my thirties with children to be responsible for, I’m getting tired.  I’m feeling so homesick for the lovely people and comfortable places I’ve left behind.  (It’s possible that the thirties are just exhausting no matter what… but my case still stands.)

I pray every day.  Hard.  But I still feel ALL THE THINGS.  Anxiety.  Worry.  Anger.  Sadness.  Grief.  And hope. (Is hope an emotion?  I think so.  And something more.)

A week ago on Pentecost, I felt the weight of all this and I found a little prayer:

            Send your Holy Spirit upon us and clothe us with power from on high.  Alleluia.

It reminded me (again) to trust in the power of God that I really do believe in.*  Not just, like, a little bit, but at the core of my being I believe in this power.  And I believe it’s our only way forward.  

Will you pray with me?

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This post is linked up with Amy Young's Trusting Tuesdays at her blog The Messy Middle.

*Do you remember my first post on Trust in January?  And this one in February?  I'm not sure if I could have said this back then.  I think this gut feeling is progress. I wouldn't be surprised if it was the discipline I discovered back in March.  Or how God came through for us in April.  But I'll gratefully accept.

Friday, June 6, 2014

A note to my future self


I just want to remember everything.

Remembering is important, because when you break it down into its parts, it literally means to put something back together... re-member.  It's the opposite of dis-member, to take apart.  When God remembers Israel in the Old Testament it preserves them and holds them together, even puts them back together like the army in the prophet Ezekiel's Valley of Dry Bones.  When God remembers us it means that he will be able to restore us to perfection at the resurrection.   I feel like remembering this life, storing away the memories of precious times gives me a glimpse of resurrection too.

I want to remember how Julianne’s newborn hair fell out gradually (unlike Lucy’s which just wiped right off with a washcloth and made me panic), and how it left behind one Tintin-like fauxhawk bit that sticks up at the back.  How her hair sticks up in feathery tufts after a nap.  Her little bird legs, her long, long toes, her strong rolly-polly thighs and arms, how her left ear is still a bit smaller than her right.  Her squawky little cry.  Her faces:  stretchy face (arms up over the head, cheeks so fat and sweet), sleep smiles, angry-cry face, trembly lip. Each of the things that all babies do, but Julianne does in her own little Julianne way.

I want to remember how Lucy is growing up.  How she looks at books in her room for hours, finishing each book meticulously before moving on (and how that lovely habit backfires when it’s time to transition to a new activity, “I’m almost ready” she says on the first page of a book, the same first page which she is still telling herself a story about five minutes later.) 

How she uses words bigger than she is:  “Mommy, this [serving] spoon is enormous!”  “Look at those fluttering flags!”  How she is starting to make up silly, repetitive, imaginative games, running from “scary guy” or playing hide and seek or cooking me something in her toy kitchen.

How excited she was to meet Julianne and hold her the first day, but how freaked out she was by this wiggling, squirming real person in her arms, this person who came home with us.  How she turned to me one day at the kitchen table and asked, really quietly, “Can we send her back?” while the look on her face confirmed that she was just nervous about everything changing.  How she says “JooyeeANN” proudly to anyone who asks her sister’s name.  How she delights in her own newborn picture on the fridge next to the baby’s and declares with pride that it was her when she was a tiny baby.  How they’re both wearing the same first outfit in those pictures. 

How Lucy’s favorite food is waffles.  How she never lets eating gluten-free get her down. (I also want to remember with pride the effort I put into making sure that we all eat together--either gluten-free or at very least that she has food that is equivalent to what the rest of us are eating.)

How brown her eyes are and how her skin just soaks up the summer sunshine until she glows.  How her hair is exactly the same auburn color as mine, and how it curls at the ends, flying every which way.

I want to remember what our life looks like right now.  How tiny our apartment is (only 780 square feet!).  How Lucy still sleeps in her crib with the side off and Julianne sleeps in the co-sleeper by our bed.  How I struggle to manage the stuff:  stuff that clutters and stuff that comes in and out of the apartment making piles by the door.

How much we enjoy our walks to the park, to Main Street, to the Bagel shop and the gluten-free cheese bun shop and the gluten-free cookie shop and the coffee shop.  How warm and wonderful the sun feels on our skin this spring and how cool the breeze.

Several times a day I wonder if these are my last weeks in the Vancouver that I’ve fought to make my home, and a scratchy lump forms in my throat.  I have to close my eyes to keep from crying.  I love this place.  I love this life.  But everything changes, life moves on.  At least I can remember it.

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What are the sensory details that you want to remember about your life right now?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Life with corn allergy

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I’ve been living with symptoms of corn allergy for about 10 years now, and I’ve known about the allergy for five.  I thought you might like an update and description of what this means for my daily life.

Even though I know that it’s corn that seems to trigger my migraine headaches and tummy issues and even though I’ve finally hit good rhythms of simple corn-free cooking and baking, I still get the headaches regularly.  It’s not usually from consciously “cheating”—eating something that I don’t know whether I should eat or that I know I shouldn’t eat.  I’ve found enough substitutes and gotten enough headaches from trying things I shouldn’t that (with a few exceptions) I don’t even miss the foods I’ve had to give up.

And I’ve had to give up a lot.  If you’re curious about the details, I have made up a Google doc of the foods I consider unsafe and safe.  I’ve had to give up most conventional foods with milk, flour, vegetable oils, baking powder, vanilla, brown sugar, and most things that come from cans. 

Corn-allergy is tricky because unlike Gluten allergy or other allergies none of the foods listed above have to have corn or even should have corn in them, it’s just a cheap additive in the preservatives or vitamins or colourings.  People look at you a bit sideways when you claim that there is corn in milk.  Or regular flour or oil, why should they be contaminated?  And why should a tiny bit of contamination matter?

But matter it does.

I have a bit of a headache today in fact.  And though I can make some blind guesses, I’m not exactly sure what triggered it, and I’m past the point of agonizing over it or blaming myself.  I do my best and stuff happens.  That’s a good life lesson that this whole experience has taught me.  In our world today we like to know who or what to blame for everything.  But I’ve found that sometimes there are just accidents beyond our control.  I’m making peace with that.

Another good thing I have learned form my allergy is how to cook.  Five years ago when I found out about my allergy, my cooking skills were limited.   I lived mostly on prepared foods/frozen foods/box mixes/canned soups, etc.   I’ve been on such a journey of falling in love with food and cooking and baking. 

For a long time I’ve found it hard to start all over again in this area of life.  I resented the hard work that it is to make everything (EVERYTHING!) from scratch.  I was hungry a lot (especially through my first pregnancy and breastfeeding).  But I’m finally falling into good rhythms of enjoying the work I do in the kitchen. 

There are some things that I still miss dearly.  I miss convenience foods like the comfort of just ordering pizza or popping into McDonalds.  I miss the classic corn foods like cornbread, tortilla chips, and most of all a big bowl of popcorn (I used to rate it as one of my favorite foods).   I miss being able to easily participate in church lunches or others hospitality.

But I am grateful.  Knowing about my allergy has helped me feel much better and eat much healthier.  I know Clint, Lucy, Julianne and I are much healthier for it. 

But when I get my resurrection body, the first thing I want to do with Jesus is make a big, huge buttery bowl of popcorn.  And I think this ache for the great renewal to come is a pretty healthy thing too. 

Come, Lord Jesus, come!


Do you have any questions for me about corn allergy?  What in your life makes you long for Jesus’ return and our resurrection bodies?  Leave me a comment 

***edit: I forgot the link to the Google Document!  If you're curious, you can find it by clicking here.****