Wednesday, March 18, 2015

For the one who is tired of living the mundane

Some days don't feel profound. Some days feel like the monotonous mundane. Some days I feel like I am a gerbil on the wheel of life, spinning to nowhere. Some days I have no words of substance to add to this space.

I have come to find, however, that "some days" become the days when I know my God the best. Because God is here, in this mundane. In the early mornings when I struggle to drag myself out of bed to face another day. In the overwhelm of the workplace that gets more of my time than anyone or anything else. In the relational labor of pursuing and being pursued by broken people. In the management of money and time and passion. In the falling into bed at the end of it all, anticipating the early morning to come too soon, once again. God is in this mundane, making it glorious even in its monotony. 

I think I often buy into the lie perpetuated by our culture that says if something (a job, a relationship, an act of service...) does not yield immediate and grand results, it must not be worth our time or effort. And so I discount the mundane as unholy or unworthy of my continued faithfulness. What I read in Galatians 6:9, however, is this: "So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up." 

Don't get tired, friend, of pursuing that broken and world-hardened person who is hard to love. Don't get tired of driving to that workplace where you have invested yourself for months or years or decades. Don't get tired of washing dishes or rocking your sleep-deprived babe. Don't get tired of the mundane you are living, because at just the right time you will reap harvest. It may not be harvest you will even see in this lifetime, but it will come. 

There is glory in this mundane, in the quiet pursuit of a God who loves you forever and always, who seeks out your heart even in the drive to work or the dishwashing and babe-rocking. Who sees your faithfulness in that difficult relationship or seemingly fruitless act of service. Be encouraged...You are not hidden, and your steadfastness in the mundane is reaping a bountiful harvest. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Thoughts on being an "auntie"

They were my first babies. Every afternoon I would eagerly show up at their home after I finished my day at the high school. I would scoop them up and kiss their cheeks, then see what new and exciting trick they had learned since I left the night before. Their mom and I became fast friends, and I learned their schedule well enough I could recite it-or execute it-in my sleep. The boys' daddy was far away bandaging up the broken, so she and I, we loved them well in his absence while also praying that he would return quickly. I will never forget the day they both had to be admitted to the hospital. At nine months old, their little bodies had been ravaged by a horrible virus and they needed some extra R&R to fight it off. I was a freshman in high school and was terrified. I did not give birth to them, but I would have done anything in my power to protect them and make them if they were my own. 

I could tell you about my other family. I watched them grow and sprout and we made carnivals and learned the piano. We told fairytales about the antics of our dinner foods, and I sang the little girls to sleep. A new baby came, and I loved her immediately and fiercely. It wasn't long before new adventures took them away. I never could have known, though, that tragedy would land me back in their arms (and this time, their home as well) only a year later. Baby girl was bigger now, and although it took her a little while to remember our mutual adoration for each other, affection returned and soon her little chubby arms would curl around my neck and she would cry out "Abidale!!!" whenever I walked into her room. Those kids, they were my healing. They loved me through a hard season of grief, and I loved them back. We walked the journey to Little Brother together, praying and fingerprinting and running frigid hot chocolate stands in the middle of snowy winter, earning the ransom to bring him home. We talked about hard things, and stroked backs when sickness came, and made "welcome home!" signs to greet Little Brother. Little Brother is not so little anymore, and the Welcome Home Crew is nearly taller than I am, but they are still my "little" brothers and sisters. When they drive and marry and have babies of their own, I will still look at them and remember the baby hugs and bedtime snuggles and hours spent playing board games...those years are forever imprinted on my heart. 

I cannot forget the next threesome. They were my teachers, my get-out-of-bed, life's-not-over motivators. She would slip under the covers with me on gray days and whisper secrets about her stuffed animal friends. We would craft together and I would try out new hairstyles on their angelic white-blonde crowns. He and I, we would shoot baskets or throw a football together while teasing and talking about life. They taught me what it means to never give up, even when life is hard or other people don't understand the struggles you face. 

And of course I can't stop without talking about the heart-bursting ache I have for my newest babies. To watch big siblings step into their roles, to bake cinnamon rolls and eagerly wait for pictures of their growing family...there is honestly nothing sweeter. These days, I cannot wait to scoop those babies up each day when I get home. When I am gone, I miss them so much it almost hurts. I cannot describe the joy of watching two kids I have known since birth pick up their baby siblings and love them HARD. It has been the biggest privilege to walk this journey with their mom and dad, to see how much these babies were longed for, and now that they are here, to kiss their cheeks and hold them when they are sick, and even to rock them when they won't sleep at night. It is the most extravagant gift God could give me in the in-between. To be part of a family, to be part of the miracle of new life, to be invited into the hardest of transitions and the most vulnerable moments a family will experience...what an indescribable blessing. If God never gives me a family of my own someday, THIS...this will be enough. 

In our culture, we take pride in the degree to which we don't need anyone else. This pursuit of extreme independence seeps into the American parenting philosophy, turning mothers against other mothers simply because they disagree over birthing methods or stand on different sides of the vaccination debate. In other parts of the world, parenting is a community effort. Mothers link arms with other mothers, sharing hardships and victories on a daily basis and holding each other up when the days get long and the nights longer. "Aunties" play important roles in the lives of children as they grow and learn how to integrate into society. There is no such thing as days spent at home alone with the children. Instead, days are spent in each other's homes and company, working and playing and parenting together. 

I am not a parent, but I have had the unique privilege of watching many different men and women become parents. From where I stand, having observed many different parenting styles and techniques, I can say (in my humblest of opinions) that the single most important thing you can do for your children is to invite someone else--an "auntie," so to speak--into their lives. Parents are not superheroes, and not one of us is perfect. We need each other.


I love being an "auntie," and I need these kids in my life. God has blessed me tremendously and taught me so much through the families that have become my own. I trust that I have positively impacted those kids and parents as well, as I have invested and spoken truth into their lives. If you are a parent, don't try to go it alone...the journey is too long, and the mountains too steep. Find your people, and stick to them. Your kids, your family, even the "aunties" who invest in your kids' lives will be better off because of your resolve to parent together. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I remember

I remember that day. 

I remember opening up the newspaper while eating breakfast, then quickly losing my appetite when I began to read about all you had endured in your short life. 

I remember looking at your picture, etching your face in my brain because someone has to miss you. 

I remember the gut wrenching ache as I tried to understand how another human being could possibly do this to a little girl. 

I remember you, Aiyana.  

On March 16, it will have been 10 years since you left this earth. Though you are gone now, and the world has moved on, I want you to know that a little spark settled into my soul that day. As I read about the torture you endured at the hands of those who were supposed to protect and adore you, that ember settled into the depths of my being, where it has burned ever since. 

In the days after you died, I asked a lot of questions. Why? Why you and not me? Why did God bless me with a family who cherishes and loves me, while you suffered in silence until it was too late? Where is the justice

My 15-year-old self couldn't understand, and I mourned over the heinous crimes committed against you, a girl I had never met. 

A lot of people don't understand my passion for "kids from hard places." I get it...most people my age are busy climbing the career ladder or buying their first home or getting married. My heart is not "normal." You, your story? It changed me. From the moment I opened that newspaper, I have never been the same. I long to do something, to make sure little girls like you are loved and cared for the way you should have been. I ache to take "unwanted" kids like you into my heart and life, to speak over them the words of truth you probably never got to hear this side of heaven: you are wanted, you are precious, you are loved. 

Aiyana Emily Guavin, you live in my heart. You are the root of my passion. I will never forget you as long as I have breath in my lungs to speak up and able hands and feet and mind to DO. SOMETHING. Because little girls like you deserve to be remembered.    

***Don't remember? Here's one of the articles I read that year.