The One for a Schnauzer

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Freddy Kay. He was always the first thing I missed about home. He fit perfectly inside my arms in the way that made him do that low, rumbly growl as I’d bury my face in his old-man beard. He was so tolerant of my hugs.

Freddy was smart and stubborn, loving and loud. He knew who his people were and was fiercely loyal to them. He spent half of his life positioning himself strategically around the house so that he could keep a watchful eye on everyone’s activities. If that spot coincided with a sunny place on the floor, well that was just pure puppy gold. Freddy always greeted people loudly, and was only ever at peace when all of us were in the same room (preferably the living room so he could snuggle onto the couch).

Our first Thanksgiving with Freddy, my mom picked him up Lion King-style to bring him to the empty dinner table as we talked over half-empty glasses of tea after the meal. As she entered the dining room, Johnny yelled out “he’s peeing, he’s peeing!” and the horrified look on my mother’s face was enough to make me laugh even now. He wasn’t actually peeing, but in her defense, it was entirely likely that puppy Fred would’ve done that. He took quite some time to house train – mostly because we spoiled him shamelessly.

Freddy went on to prove his cleverness when, at the ripe age of six, he learned how to shake hands in a single day, taught by a stranger, no less. The things that dog wouldn’t do for a peanut butter treat are limited. He saw me off to junior and senior prom. He waited by the back door every school day for John to come home. His face was the first thing I kissed on the morning of my wedding, and he sat with me while I got ready, as if he could feel my nerves and wanted to help. He tortured my puppy girl for the entire time she was in his house, showing his disgruntled hiney to her whenever she tried to play. He loved my mother with complete devotion, and was secretly Johnny’s best friend. He was faithful and lovable and a little on the hefty side.

And now he’s in puppy heaven, hopefully with his own place so he can be the alpha dog, and somewhere with an unlimited supply of kashi bars and bacon. He was a good boy, and will be sorely missed.

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The One with 100 Percent

IMG_2014IMG_2029IMG_2025It always goes that our babies teach us our biggest lessons – how to live and love (at least that’s what I’ve heard). Our sweet Luna teaches us a lot about patience and play, and this weekend was no exception. We drove her back to her first home and favorite spot on earth – the turf at Boys Latin. She ran wild and free, chasing down frisbees and lacrosse balls until she plumb worn out. She was in her element and was darn good at it. There’s something about seeing someone (even puppy people) firing on all cylinders that makes you realize when you’re not. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say I’m running at 90% capacity. I’m juggling this new season reasonably well, but there’s a fog some days that reminds me I’m not maxing out my potential or living my best.

In total honesty, operating at 100% sort of scares me. Most days I’m not sure I have the energy to be that on, and so I hold back a little for fear of burning out. That is, of course, when I try and do it all myself. I always thought that I should be a self-sufficient individual and that anything less than all-on-my-own would somehow be weak. And I used to live in the fear that someone would discover my secret – that I’m not actually that strong and instead I’m sort of terrified. I consistently fail at doing it myself and I need the help of a whole village. I need the support of family, encouragement of friends, and grace of a perfect Savior.

I’m learning the freedom in asking for help, in admitting my fears and weaknesses, and praying into them instead of running from them. When I give over my worry, I slowly make room for more – more people, more joy, and more hard and holy work. And when I shake off my own stubbornness I can be fueled by grace and love, which makes me less afraid. I’m shaking off the cobwebs and praying myself awake.

 

The One with France

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Four years ago to this very day I was walking the streets of Paris, map in hand and jet-lagged parents in tow.  The beauty and history of the city struck a note with me that has been unshakeable.  Paris offered a breath of fresh air and absolute inspiration.  It almost seemed that if you turned just the right corner, you might be swept into Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris universe, sharing drinks and exchanging words with Modigliani or Hemingway.

It was with an aching heart that I learned of the attacks in Paris last week, along with terrorist events in countries across the world.  Beruit.  Kenya.  Syria.  The world is aching and hurting, and the injustice seems crushing.

In the face of tragedy, how do we return to our everyday lives?  When entire populations are displaced, unable to live safely in their homes, do we continue to sit safely behind our computer screens and wait for others to speak up or jump in?  How do we balance the fight against terror abroad and the fight against injustice that exists within our own country and our very neighborhoods?

During a time in my own life filled with questions, I’m finding my best answers rooted in the timeless gospel of Christ.  How did Jesus respond to the bad guys?  What kind of life did Christ model for us with respect to hospitality?  And all the answers I find make me squirm and wish I hadn’t asked.  Of course Jesus did the hard things and the holy things.  He skipped the easy route and went straight for the upside-down justice of Heaven.  And of course, he calls us to do the same.  When he separates us into the sheep and the goats, he doesn’t look at our resumes or our church attendance.  He looks at how we treated the least of these – the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the imprisoned.  We find the face of Jesus in the faces of the hurting and the broken, the refugees and the persecuted, in those near and far away.

In complete honesty, a Savior that identifies himself in face of the lowly is hard to reconcile to my comfortable life.  My work is terribly ordinary but my heart is broken for this world.  How do we navigate this space with a type of grace that accommodates but also a righteousness that cries out for justice?  What can I do with my God-given gifts to make this aching world just the smallest bit better?

For me, it all begins and ends with words.  I look for wisdom in scripture, friends, and family.  I listen to stories filled with hurt and with healing.  I softly share my own words, here in this corner of the internet and in coffee shops with close friends.  We move forward carefully but with purpose, sharing words, never silent, always open to the hard and holy conversations.  We will learn from these words and by learning we will build up a generation of helpers and doers and thinkers.

Pray for Paris.  Pray for Beruit.  Pray for Kenya.  Pray for this broken world of ours.  And while you’re at it, pray for your neighborhood.  Pray for your city.  Pray for all the ways that we can do better, as human beings and as children of God.  Pray for the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the prisoners.

 

And if you’re a reader like me, Sarah Bessey’s words in this post have been so helpful for me in attempting to navigate this all.  Read on, write on, speak on.

The One with Our Stories

Well, dear friends, where to begin?  These past couple of weeks have been fraught with headlines, but I remain caught up in the nuances of the everyday.  There’s no shame in that, I suppose.  My defense mechanisms often have me default to keeping my head down and getting my own work done.  This bodes well for maintaining personal business, but I know deep down that my silence does the world no good at all.  And to be perfectly honest, I’ve neglected updating this space out of my own uncertain feelings.  My heart aches for broken communities, and my voice strains to be heard, but I’m not all too certain of my words these days.  The terror that racked my home state just a few weeks ago is still fresh in my mind.  The Supreme Court ruling of last week is churning in my brain.  Debates of symbols and flags and cultural appropriation are flooding social media pages.  And I’m still at a loss for what to say or how to help.

At the ripe age of twenty-four, I realize that my opinions and tastes will invariably change, as I lack the wisdom that often comes with age.  But I am certain of how I feel in this moment, however temporary it may be.  The world we live in is broken and full of anger, and I feel lost in navigating the truth of it all.  But what I know to be true every single day is that God is good and that our stories are valuable.  In the midst of confusion and heated emotion, I will continue to engage in the hard conversations that will enlighten me and challenge me.  I will share my story and my experiences, and I will learn the stories of the people around me.  I will speak, and more importantly, I will listen.

Because reading articles (and articles and articles) often helps me give shape to my own thoughts, here are a few items of interest that might help you, too.  And please, tell me (or a neighbor) your story.  Give me your perspective, and tell me the experiences that have shaped it.

Your Story Must Be Told

The Unfinished Work Remaining (great thoughts from a Wofford friend)

SCOTUS Ruling on SSM: Rejoicing and Mourning (a facebook note from my pastor)

Thank You, Donald Trump!