Part of the 30 day challenge series

1. Family friends were over one evening, and sometime after dinner, the kids (maybe just the boys?) started taunting me.  Maybe as a result of a disagreement.  But after trying to hold my own and fight back, I was so distraught that I ran downstairs.  I found my dad and cried to him because they called me stupid and ugly.  I remember how much their words cut me.  Then he held me and consoled me saying it wasn’t true.  And I never felt so deeply thankful to have a daddy.

2. This isn’t one distinct memory, but the many memories of my mom’s faithful presence during my childhood, shuttling us kids back and forth, taking us to lessons, keeping our home, laboring in the kitchen, making sure we didn’t go hungry, doing loads and loads of laundry, washing us, making sure we take our medication … just caring for us in the little, unmemorable ways every day.  When I had a fever, she was there.  When I had the stomach flu, she was there.  When I needed anything, she — was — there.

3. The trauma of losing two loved ones in one night.  In an unspeakable way.  They were closer to us than family.  This was a pivotal point in my childhood.  Everything changed that night.  It marked the end of childhood.  It paved the way for Christ in me.

And God-willing, for other loved ones, it will still pave the way.

Part of the 30 day challenge series

Ian, before I begin, I hope it’s clear that no “accomplishment” for me comes without a kind God.  And I’m kind of daunted by all the superlatives in these prompts.  “5 great accomplishments” is easier to answer than “5 greatest accomplishments.” :]

1. Becoming your appa‘s wife.  Not that I had hoops to jump through and exams to pass to do this, though my fears and flesh could be the hoops and dating itself the exam. ;]  But second to following Jesus, this was the best decision of my life.  No exaggeration.

2. Giving birth to you.  I carried you for 10 months in my womb, 5 of which I spent very sick, and labored for 22 hours (sleepless for about 34) and pushed you out!  I still can’t believe that happened.  Then I proceeded to learn how to nurse you, losing even more sleep.  I couldn’t sit down for over a week after you were born, so I had to nurse you standing up the whole time.  Even when you woke in the middle of the night.  When I visited a lactation consultant at the hospital a few days after we were discharged, the lactation consultant said to me, “Oh! You’re the one who nurses her baby standing up!  You poor thing!”  But I’m not sure how much credit I can take for all of this.  Half the time I couldn’t believe it was my body doing this or that.  I didn’t know what it could do!  God’s design.  Uh-mazing.

3. Getting a graduate degree — but not for the reason you’d think.  Yes, getting a degree takes work, but getting a degree I didn’t want, saying okay after 4 years’ battle with your grandpa, and then fighting through ugly, monster-heart bitterness when graduate school became really difficult … Ian, I had to battle my flesh every day.  Multiple times a day.  I had to work through my bitterness.  It ran so deep, not just because of this issue but because every other issue leached onto this one.  But God was faithful.  I still don’t know all the reasons why these three years of my life were in His plan, but if nothing else, it was a place where I had to learn to entrust myself to God through someone else’s will.  What happened in the end?  I thanked your grandpa.  I still don’t think I would have chosen that discipline for my degree, but no bitter heyday here anymo’!

4. Keeping my little cousins close.  It never gets easier keeping loved ones close, especially as life gets busier and people start movin’ away.  But I’m grateful God gave me my “little” cousins.  I’m grateful for the depth of love and friendship He’s given between us.  At least, it’s deep on my end.  They ain’t gettin’ rid of me anytime soon! ;]

5. Learning to be a good friend.  Your grandpa once made an observation about me in high school: You’re a two-year best friend.  My closest friendships never lasted more than two years.  I was fickle and backed away from friendships when they became rocky.  Or it was out of sight, out of mind.  Which is very unloving.  But the two-year best friend streak was true for half of college, too.  In total, that’s most of my life!  But I don’t think this fickleness really changed until my relationship with Christ deepened.  If I can’t be faithful to a perfect Friend, how can I be faithful to imperfect ones?  But by God’s grace, this has changed.  And is changing.

Part of the 30 day challenge series

After reading today’s prompt, I wanted to put it off ’til tomorrow.  Or skip this one.  Because it’s so long!  It requires so much thinking!  But a challenge is a challenge.  So here goes!

Since the prompt is worded in the past tense, I’ll mostly write about these people in the past tense, too.  And I’ll focus more on the positive influences. ;]

1. My dad. He was always very vulnerable with us about his sins and weaknesses.  He openly repented before us in prayer when his sin was either against us or in front of us.  His faith wasn’t perfect but it was real.  He simultaneously encouraged me to be a tomboy and a lady.  Go after things, get involved, try everything at least once … but please, do it like a lady.  I learned how a person could roll and tumble and play with the kids, but also talk to them about serious matters.  He was both the goofiest and most serious person in our home.

2. My mom. I don’t know anyone more hospitable than my mom.  Anyone was welcome to her home.  And once you stepped into her home, you became family.  Our childhood home was never empty.  My brother and I always wondered who would be over for dinner.  All the kids wanted to sleep over at our house on weekends.  She embraced motherhood and excellence in homemaking.  She was extremely sacrificial.  I hope you see the fruit of her influence in your life, Ian.

3. My brother. My brother didn’t always fit the mold.  He was bright, curious, and street smart.  He took risks.  He wanted a challenge.  But he was also affectionate and fiercely loyal.  So how did he influence me?  Two ways.  First, he was definitely the big brother, so I was definitely the little sister.  In a good, good way.  He took care of me, gave me the best of his share, and protected me.  He taught me to appreciate chivalry.  Didn’t we fight though?  Of course!  Haha.  Second, he gave me an appreciation for people who are unconventional, because he’s unconventional.  And I love it.

4. My aunts and uncles.  I’ve really been blessed with loving and involved aunts and uncles.  Uncle Jim, Aunt Connie, Uncle Young, Uncle Chris, Wehsoomoh, Uncle Peter, Imo some of my friends and even your appa initially found it interesting? strange? unusual? that I would chat on the phone with my aunts and uncles, catch up with them, hang out with them.  But they loved uncle Jonathan and me first.  They spent a lot of time with us when we were growing up.  They were our second dads and moms.  And we’ve always had second homes to run to when our first home became difficult — as first homes usually do at some point.  Ian, I hope you have second homes where you are loved, too.  And I hope our home becomes the second home for many others.

5. Pastor Pat Boyd. Pastor Pat was my youth pastor.  From him I learned how to boogieboard, surf, skateboard, and pour out time and energy into life on life ministry.  His ministry was a persistent one.  Moving, leaving for college, not seeing him for years … it didn’t matter.  He wrote.  He called.  He was there when you needed him.  He didn’t just tell us about God.  He spent incredible amounts of time with us, played with us, found ways to tease us out of our shell, and exhorted us to own our faith.  I still see his influence in the way I relate with people in ministry.  And in the way I tease people.  I’m sure all the other youth kids could say the same!

6. Charisse. I didn’t spend as much time with Charisse, but she was a camp counselor one year when we went to Hume Lake.  I think it was my second year of high school, and there was a missionary speaker at camp that year.  One day the missionary announced there would be a special meeting during the recreation time for those interested in overseas missions.  She came up to me later and said, in her searching, earnest way, “I can see you doing missions.  You should go to that meeting.”  Give up my recreation time at camp to go to a meeting about missions?  But I went.  Her words had an impact on me.  And to this day, one of my greatest passions and desires is to fulfill that calling.  However God may lead.

7. Elisabeth Elliot. I think I read everything she’s ever written, including all of her old radio transcripts.  Before I had an older, believing woman to learn from in person, I was learning from Bet.

8. Jinny. I wrote about her in my previous posts.  She really poured into my life during the latter half of college.  And we still keep in touch, I still seek her counsel.  I look up to the way she loves God, her husband, her children, and her church family.  She’s faithful behind the scenes.  She frees her husband up for ministry.  She opens her home for ministry.  I’m not those things yet, Ian.  But I want to be.

9. Your appa. Can I even begin to count the ways your appa has influenced me?  In every way!  And I’m sure his influence will only have deepened by the time you can read this.  He’s influenced me in small ways (like our silly sense of humor that smacks more of appa than me!) but in more significant ways, too.  Your appa is the more thoughtful, careful, patient half of umma.  After a couple years of marriage, I think I’m a teeny bit less hasty?  A teeny bit less reckless?  :]  And in a mysterious way, appa‘s manliness has made me more feminine.

10. You! Since you were born, my ambitions have slowly changed.  My understanding of God and His gospel love has deepened a little.  My mama bear instinct has emerged.  You’ve changed my world from top to bottom, little dude.  And you’ve changed me.  By God’s grace, for the better.

More on this in a post to come.

*Edit*

I quickly scanned this post before going to bed, and I realized I had two #4s!  So I deleted one.  This confirms my inability to count anymore.

5 blessings.

November 21, 2012

5. This Thanksgiving is already so different from last year.  Last year, in an effort to hold together a cracking family, I offered to host Thanksgiving dinner.  Not everyone showed up.  I was really heartbroken.  This year, “family” means something new along with the old.  JE is now my first family, his family is my family, and my family is his.  And my family (I believe) is being healed in deep places.  It hasn’t manifested yet, but I see evidences of grace, traces of answers to many many sobbed out prayers over the past years.  Redemption isn’t always instantaneous in the way I want, but I can trust Him.  Something better than my plans are unfolding.

4. Friendships have changed a little this year.  Friends have married, some have had kids, and I’ve married.  Changing seasons means some changes in friendships, too.  The once abundance of time and availability and face to face time has become more scarce.  Earlier this year, that left me a little lonely.  But I’ve found many of my friendships have matured as a result.  There’s more giving, less demanding.  And the personal reminder that love isn’t conditional.  Even when my friends are busy (rightfully) or forget about me in times of change and during times when more demands are put upon their time and priorities, I can still love them and keep my heart open in loyal friendship  — never making the basis of our friendship their actions (or even the fickleness of my own heart) but Christ’s faithfulness.

3. We love our new church family at Gateway Bible Church.  I’m so, so, so thankful for this church family that has loved and welcomed us at the beginning of our marriage.  There’s so much I can say about individuals and even groups of people here … or even about our excitement about the church’s heart and vision … but that may deserve its own post later. :]

2. I love JE.  Remember those fears that riddled me before our wedding and even in the first few months?  They’re melting away, and instead are replaced with more affection for him.  I’m thankful he never directs me to his own merits but rather Christ’s when I’m afraid (and there’s a lot I’m afraid of, we’re both finding out — even our marriage aside, there’s plenty to feed my fears it seems).  And while decorating our home for Christmas this past week, I realized how bossy I can be about trivial things, like where to hang the snowflakes.  (I know, get a life, right?  Haha.)  But he overlooks my many sins where love can overlook them, and gently corrects me when I need a blindside or perspective check.  I’m looking forward to seeing him hold our little one for the first time next May. :]

1. I’ve still been chugging through reading the Bible in chronological order (it’s been forever, haha).  Last night, I read about how “we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19).  And I was reminded that God’s word is sure, and it is a lamp shining in a dark place.  Makes sense — if God is sure and is light, then of course His word would be, too.  But I was reminded of the treasure His word really is.  He was and is kind to give it.  We can anchor our all on His word, on His promises.  We can look to it as a lamp shining in the shade, especially when life is at its darkest.  And even when life seems bright, our God and His word are brighter still.  Incomparably so.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends near and far! ♥

If you will hold the rope.

August 21, 2012

Reading William Carey’s biography, British missionary to India at the turn of the 18th century, “the father of modern missions.”  Many still marvel at his single-minded labor for the gospel, but I wonder how many know of his four faithful friends?  Friends who vowed to hold his arms up until death — much in the way Aaron and Hur upheld Moses’ arms in the battle against the Amalekites.  Friends who then kept their word.  Friends who fiercely loved him and the God of their cause.

The night before Carey left for India,

The five contrived to get apart — Ryland, Sutcliff, Fuller, Pearce, and Carey.  They talked for the last time together of the task which lay before them, with all its uncertainty and possibility.  Carey drew them into a covenant, that, as he went forth in the name of their Master and their Society, ‘they should never cease till death to stand by him,’ and to this they pledged their troth …

Later, in Fuller’s warm mind, it took imaginative shape, and he would often thus describe it, until his pictorial words became transferred to the original event, and the rope-holding pledge became a fixed and consecrated tradition.  But the simile was Fuller’s, as he once explained to Christopher Anderson.

“Our undertaking to India really appeared at its beginning to me somewhat like a few men, who were deliberating about the importance of penetrating a deep mine which had never before been explored.  We had no one to guide us; and, whilst we were thus deliberating, Carey, as it were, said, ‘Well, I will go down, if you will hold the rope.’  But, before he descended, he, as it seemed to me, took an oath from each of us at the mouth of the pit, to this effect that ‘whilst we lived, we should never let go the rope.‘”

With entire fidelity, that covenant was kept in every case until broken by death.

(William Carey, S. Pearce Carey, p. 108)

Makes me wonder: Whose rope am I holding with that ferocity of devotion?  And who have I humbly asked to hold my rope (maybe not to the distance of India but in similar fashion)?

From mess to glory.

March 30, 2011

Last Sunday afternoon, I spent a couple hours with two generations of the Helvestons (love them).

Sometime in the middle of various conversations, Lucy held up her latest crochet project — one hand full of messy tangles of yarn, the other hand holding up a beautifully crocheted blanket still in the works — and chirped, “Sometimes, God takes this and makes this!”

I hearddd that. ♥


(Laura, bundled up and untangling yarn, the crocheted portion in folds to the right.)

Glean.

January 31, 2011

Follow-up ambition post is still in process, but ’til then, check out some good reading at http://glean.posterous.com.

Couple of guys (TY and JE) who love God, love His gospel, and desire to love their city (Oakland) in a very gospel-practical way.