Inward

Inward

The stones were cool under my shoeless feet as I took my first step into the labyrinth, Oregon trees leaning in all around like giants protecting the silence of their clifftop sanctuary. I could see the center of the circle just feet away, but the path that ran inward turned quickly out to the very edge again. In and out and doubling back with no warning, the way into the center didn’t seem to make sense, and I wondered as I looped again along the outer edge how much further I had to go. And then one more sudden turn, and I was there. The green-filtered sunshine and warm fir breeze invited me to sit there in the middle for a while. So I did, and gratitude sang through me and got stuck in my throat like a sob. So I let the birds sing it for me. Thank You for...

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The Gift of No

The Gift of No

We sat in the office of the private high school’s principal. She was compassionate and apologetic, but unequivocal. We had a spot for her and wanted it to work out. We really like her. But it’s not a good fit. …can’t accommodate her needs… …more severe than our other students with ADHD… …so sorry… We knew something was different about our first daughter from the time she was only a few weeks old. She was extremely sensitive to temperature, light, and noise; she would wake up even if the phone rang in another room. By 18 months, her lack of impulse control was evident. In chaotic places like the church nursery, she became aggressive towards other kids, and while we were potty training she once dove head-first into the toilet. She couldn’t explain why. At age three...

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The In-Betweens

The In-Betweens

My house is staring at me. A betrayed kind of look that says, “Seriously. What have you done?” At least that’s how it feels after our family’s week-long bout with a horrible flu, followed immediately by an unexpected mid-March snow day. Muddy foot and paw tracks in the foyer and kitchen, pillows and blankets and tissues piled like modern art sculptures in across the living room, and unspeakably grimy bathrooms… all pleading with me to do something about it. Right. Now. The problem is, I can’t. I’m in that infuriating in-between stage of recovery where I can think straight enough to know what needs to be done, but my body refuses to cooperate. It’s hard for a doer like me when reality decides it’s time to just be. And, no it’s not flattering when I call myself a...

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To See and Be Seen

To See and Be Seen

I’ve been going through career counseling recently as we try to make a decision about our next missions assignment, and after all the tests to figure out what jobs would best suit my personality and strengths, we’ve made a discovery: I’m an odd duck. (Friends and family, you may all now say in unison, “Well, duh!”) My unusual combination of personality traits makes me an even odder duck in an organization of odd ducks (because, let’s face it – missionaries aren’t normal). This hasn’t come as a surprise to me. I’ve always felt a little out of step with the world around me, wherever I am. But I think I’m not alone. I’ve been asking around, and I’m finding something I’ve suspected for a while. Most people have a sense of being different. Most of us have facets that...

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An Open Letter to My Fellow Up-ended Missionary

An Open Letter to My Fellow Up-ended Missionary

Dear Friend, First I want to just sit with you for a minute. I may not know what’s happened for you, but I know the ache. I am sorry you’re in this place. So, so sorry. It’s ok to feel breathless. Life just knocked you onto your back. And it’s right to grieve. You’ve lost something precious. Maybe your dreams, or your security, or your innocence. Maybe relationships, or your ministry, or even your home. Maybe, like us, you’ve gone over and over what you could have done to keep that Thing from happening (or what others should have done). But that road’s a dead end, because it happened. It’s done. And this place is where you are. I know how hopeless this place can feel. It hasn’t been too many months since my family was struggling to regain our footing in the wake...

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Lighten Up

Lighten Up

I just turned forty, and it feels like a deep sigh. There’s something about beginning a new decade that hits a reset button. My thirties were a time of gathering – living new experiences, picking up pieces here and there to build a life and make a home for my family, taking hold of my own identity and passions. As I’ve entered my forties, I’m finding that it’s a time of laying down – a time of sorting through my possessions and heart to put aside extra things that weigh me down. Having given away or sold most of what we owned before we moved to Papua New Guinea for a time that ended up being much shorter than planned, my family has had a chance to start fresh. When we moved back into our house last month, beautiful people came around us like a rising tide and...

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Far As the Curse is Found

Far As the Curse is Found

We drove home from Ohio the other night. The air smelled like winter, and strings of lights hung like halos around picture perfect houses, but there was something not right hanging low on the western horizon. Smoke. There are these places burning in the Appalachians. Memories and plans burning to the ground, and the hungry fire roars on. There are these songs on the radio about how all is calm and all is bright, while the flames turn beauty to dark ash. There are these toys in store aisles, and there are these parents burying children taken out by a madman on a school bus. There’s this woman, this sweet friend with a brilliant smile, who just heard that her cancer is back and growing fast. And there’s this husband and son being brave and working hard to make...

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