Friday, November 9, 2012

How Murphy Tried to Hijack Our Girls' Vacation

Murphy's Law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

It was a lovely, sunny Monday, and Ellie and I were all packed up and ready to hit the road to Davis, Oklahoma, with three wonderful girl friends (and one Boy Toddler) who I'll call Sweet, Spirited and Adventurous.

It all started with it being "that time of the month."  Forgive me if that's TMI, but it really does make a difference, which all women - and any men who have spent time around a woman - know. I was desperately trying not to grump around the house, instead repelling my sour mood by baking chocolate cake, eating the chocolate chips as I went, concocting homemade wheat bread, and enjoying my baby's giggles.

Sweet, Spirited and Adventurous were on their way to my apartment, since we were going to split our group into two separate vehicles, my Lexus (aka Pretty Car) included. Just before they arrived, I checked on the wheat bread only to discover it hadn't risen. Instead it had remained a dense, rectangular brick that might or might not be fit for consumption. I bagged and packed it anyway (Ha-hah, you were my lab rats, Sweet, Spirited and Adventurous!).

Moments later, the girls arrived. That's when Spirited realized that she had left Boy Toddler's high chair at home. After she departed to retrieve it, I recalled that I owned a high chair, and she could've just borrowed it. By that time, though, she was already well on her way back to her house.

I later learned that as Spirited was driving away from her house with Boy Toddler's  high chair, she got a phone call from her younger sister. "There's a big box of food here," Younger Sister explained. "Did you mean to take that with you?"

Indeed, Spirited had meant to take it - it contained the ingredients we would need for dinner. She drove back to the house once more and retrieved the food, then rendezvoused with the rest of us at my apartment.

Finally, we were ready to go - Spirited, Boy Toddler and Adventurous loaded into one car, and Sweet, Ellie and I in the other. I turned the keys in Pretty Car's ignition, and that's when Murphy sowed chaos.

All the warning lights - oil, oil temp, engine and battery - blinked on on my instrument panel, and the car would not back out. I pressed down the gas fairly hard to make it reverse at all, and when I began to move, the steering wheel decided to go all ghost-y on me and forcefully lock into forward position, and then the car stopped moving altogether. After stopping and starting the car several times, I decided to put my money on the bet that we probably weren't going to be able to take Pretty Car after all.

Sweet got on the phone with Spirited and Adventurous, who had already started down Lindsey Street for the highway. Meanwhile, I was trying to call Chris over and over without success. As I dialed my dad instead, with Sweet still on the phone trying to explain what was going on, Ellie - who was sticking her little fingers as far inside her mouth as she could manage - scratched the inside of her mouth very hard and burst into loud, pained squalls.  So Sweet jumped out of the car to get and comfort Ellie, whose mouth was bleeding, while I talked to my dad and tried to get my dying car out of the middle of the parking lot.

Fortunately, Sweet's car was still available for use, so she and Adventurous decided to go to Sweet's apartment to get it. Spirited stayed with Ellie and I. I was so frazzled that I decided it might be nice to have a delicious Starbucks drink to lift my spirits, but just when I was about to ask Spirited if she wanted to get one...I remembered I didn't have a car (yeah, yeah, First World problems).

A few minutes later, Spirited gets a call from Sweet. She had just arrived at her apartment and realized that she had left her purse with her car keys behind at my apartment. At this point, Spirited and I looked at each other and started cracking up, because otherwise we might well have cried.

Sweet arrived back, picked up her keys, and she and Adventurous went once again to her apartment to get the car. And I am happy to announce they made it back with no snafus, and we were able to toss the bags and strap the babies into the new vehicle and go.

The rest of the vacation went great, except for the part where I decided to free-climb some rocks and take the path of most resistance back down, whence I got stuck on a ledge with the next good foothold ten feet below me... Besides that, our stay in a lakeside house near Turner Falls was peaceful, gorgeous and refreshing. We shared many great conversations and late-night laughs. Furthermore, my car is now repaired and back at home.

I guess Murphy may have his days, but someone much bigger and much kinder has my life. In the end, the dear reader, it's much easier to see how he has it under control after all.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fear & Frontier

I can feel my blood pressure rising, my pulse quicken with anxiety. Why? One word: transition.

A new season of transition has begun. The last one began with Ellie's birth. Now, just when I was feeling like I had motherhood in hand, I turn around to see my five-month-old barrel roll across the floor to get into the Xbox wires, and eat her first solid foods (which I'm going to have to start actually cooking and storing soon), and take two naps instead of four (meaning I have less time for writing and voice acting), in addition to realizing that we're moving across the country in two months, and my husband's going to school and working part-time, and I'm not going to know where the grocery store in Wake Forest is.

It's new, and so it scares me. And while slipping into the all-too-comfortable "American Dream" scares me more, a house, white picket fence and 2.5 children certainly sounds a whole lot safer.

I mean, how will I know who I'm going to be in these new situations? I know how I am now - I can avoid the pitfalls easily. But in the future, when new stresses beset me and I'm running around like a chicken with its head cut off because Ellie spilled her milk and rubbed peanut butter in her hair and the maybe-new-baby is squalling because he/she rolled over onto a sticker and I haven't taken a shower in two days and we have to adjust the grocery budget because prices went up and income went down and we're taking our first overseas family mission trip in three weeks...then, who will I be? How will I handle it? Can I accomplish every task set out for me in that dark frontier of the days I've not yet lived?

But isn't this a picture of my whole life? Have I ever really known what I was doing? I'd say no, and as it turns out, God has not failed me in staying true to his good, gracious, sovereign character to date. This doesn't make my feelings go away, but the Word does command me not to be afraid. It says to bring my requests to God in prayer and thanksgiving, instead. Friends, if you think of me, will you pray that I will turn my fear of transition over to the Lord in thankful prayer as soon as it arises? I could use the prayers, and the reminders of just how in control God is over periods of great change.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Fine Art of Discouragement

I've done it, I've done it. I've made discouragement into a fine art. I have fine-tuned the ability to spiral downward into a pit until the only thing that can drag me out is what my friend Katie calls a "come to Jesus meeting" with my journal and the gospel.

When you've made discouragement into a fine art, it takes some artfulness to find encouragement, too - thus the journaling. My journal entry starts out with this: 

Why does it seem like every time one big issue goes away, another steps in to take its place? Last year, it was desire for a child. God help me - this's overwhelming discouragement about writing.
Call me a temperamental artist, if you will. I am, and I know it for true. Over and over, I have to remind myself why I write in the first place, or why I should write in the first place. It's to glorify God through my profound joy in the task, I tell myself, as well as my skill in my work. However, because it's so much easier to slip into daydreams of fame and obsession with the opinion of others, I usually end up camping there. Then I end up here, and voila! the cycle begins again!

As I journaled tonight, the Holy Spirit opened up my heart to a new idea - that the cycle doesn't have to happen in the first place, and that my struggle, my almost-daily discouragement in writing, is an opportunity for me to learn how to immediately redirect myself away from worldly goals and toward godly ones. If that is what comes of these days of frustration, all of it will have been worth it.

So, if nothing else, I pray that these days teach me genuine dependency on the Lord for my joy, my purpose and my identity. Discouragement is a lousy fine art, after all, and never worth the time that I give it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

An Issue of Obedience

"You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?"

A photo that may or may not represent me "running well."

Since becoming a Christian in 1999, I've read this phrase in the Bible many times. It's typical Paul - no-nonsense, straight-shooting style, telling the church at Galatia how it is. 

It hit me anew when I read it again yesterday. Here's the whole passage (Galatians 5:1-8) so that you can have the context (context is of paramount importance in interpreting Scripture aright):

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you.
For those unfamiliar with the issues surrounding this passage, Paul is criticizing members of the Galatian church for succumbing to false teaching, teaching insisting that circumcision, a necessity according to Jewish law, is necessary also for salvation. Paul reiterates that salvation is through "faith working through love," and that those who would treat it as an issue of works or law is bound by something lesser than the glorious grace of Christ, "the hope of righteousness."

I am a works-oriented person. I struggle with wanting to do Christianly things just to make God "like" me more (as if it worked that way). A reading of Galatians has, therefore, always been encouraging to me. 

And it should be encouraging! I know I'm not the only one who struggles with dependence on works in this task-driven and output-oriented American culture. However, these verses are so much more than mere encouragement - they are challenge. 

The are challenge because reliance on grace instead of "circumcision" - the works we depend on to "save" us, in whatever form they take - is not just something that will better our lives when we embrace it. It is an issue of obedience. Paul says, "You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?"

That simple statement made me realize what I hadn't been able to see my whole life past. Living by grace and not works is non-negotiable. To do anything but what God has prescribed is sin.

To do anything but what God has prescribed. It is sin for me to embrace any thought pattern, lifestyle or worldview that is not the Lord's perfect will. Oh, no! If I did not already know Christ, I would be asking, with desperation, the question that the disciples asked in Matthew 19:25: "who then can be saved?"

Recognizing all this, isn't it amazing that I can turn to the Lord in repentance and know that even in my constant, systemic, unrecognized sin, I am forgiven through Christ's blood? Merciful Lord! I only pray that my current repentance will carry through to its conclusion, and bring about a change in my mind, heart and soul. Praise be to the Holy Spirit, who convicts and guides even when we would be willful and unbiddable!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Part 3 of Blog Serial

Part three of "Bloodlines of Epheria" is up!

Stay tuned for more, and thanks much for reading.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Part 2 of Blog Serial

Hey, everyone! If you read the last post, you know that I started a fantasy short story (maybe novella - not sure yet), which I'm posting as a serial on my official website. I put up part one last week, and just posted part two.

If you haven't read either part yet, check it out. You may like it. I'm enjoying writing it, for sure.

See ya on the flipside.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Writing Blog WIN

Dear friends,

I now have an official writing blog! Now my many fans (c'mon, I know you're out there, right? ...Right? *cricket cricket*) can follow my writing news, and even see a beautiful graphical illustration of where I am in my various projects! My dear husband Chris designed the site, and it looks great. So give him a big high-five when you see him.

Some of you have expressed interest in reading my writing, and today I've created a way for you to do so for the low, low price of free! Free things are always awesome. But before I go on a rabbit trail about how much I like free things, here is the introductory post about what I'm talking about, stolen from off my writing blog:

Hey, kids,

Well, my plans for my full-length fantasy novel have taken some twists and turns, which has been more than a bit stressful. Nothing like a good ol' dose of feeling-like-a-total-noob right before sending your first query letter to an agent. So, today I took a short break from anything related to that project. Instead, I started writing something strictly for my relaxation and your enjoyment.

"Bloodlines of Epheria" is a fantasy serial that I will publish on my blog. Check back frequently to read the next installment, and by all means, leave your feedback! I love interacting with people about story.
Hope you enjoy the first installment. Happy reading!

 So, I hope you'll check out my "official website," and perhaps read the serial that I started writing tonight, just for fun. As always, thanks for reading. :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Beautiful | Crazy

Can't sleep for thinking again.

I have concluded that I have a weak mind (Jedi mind tricks would work on me - after all, I'm not a Toydarian! There's a nice little Easter egg for you Star Wars punks out there).

Ahem. As I was saying, I have concluded that I have a weak mind. I think I am more easily overwhelmed than the average person. Having experienced clinical depression, I know I am biologically predisposed to mental illness. Also, I recognize that my coping mechanisms are often flimsier than others', and I reach what I call "crisis point" sooner than many. And yet, where this knowledge would've once discouraged me, it is now, by the grace of God, nothing more than a neutral set of facts.

For I know that my weak mind is not me. Look at it this way: if I were suddenly diagnosed with cancer, the cancer would be an outworking of an imperfect body born into a sinful world. You would not say it was a result of me, though, would you? Jaimie with cancer would still be...Jaimie. My skills, traits, quirks - they'd all still be there. My personality, soul and spirit would be in tact, too. In the same way, my weak and broken mind is an outworking of an imperfect body in a sinful world. Jaimie with a broken mind is still Jaimie. Therefore I have great hope.

One day, when Christ brings about the new heaven and the new earth, there will be neither physical sickness nor mental sickness. The infirmity of the mind as well as the body will be washed away in the perfection that comes in being fully immersed in Christ's presence.

That's not to say that our "true essence" is separate from our body. Accepting that would be bowing to Platonic dualism - a fallacy that can easily lead to the belief that the body isn't important. Indeed, we are both spiritual and physical creatures. The two cannot be separated without removing something that is inherently part of who God made us to be. Otherwise, why does the Bible say we will have actual, resurrected bodies one day? Why would we want or need them?

All this to say that I'm glad that the Lord has worked in my heart over so many years to show me that I am not the sum of my defects. Indeed, I am a child of God's image - no small thing! I just haven't seen just what that looks like, yet.

These thoughts pour from my heart after an evening when a thousand stresses crashed home, and my husband was there to catch me and hold me and listen to me, and my God was there to give me the light and joy and strength that comes from hope and truth. So, I overflow with thankfulness in all of this, because God is good, has been good to me, and will ever continue to be!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Swirl as of Feathers

I rediscovered a curious poem that I wrote a year ago. It's a love poem, but it's sad, and I was and am happily married. I think someone or something else inspired it - maybe it was actually just a swirl of feathers, who knows -  but I can't remember:

A swirl as of feathers
A swoop and a bend as if to kiss
A tenderness and breathless passion
Like a lily field aflame
But softly rises smoke and fire
And naught left of lilies but lies
A swoop of a ghost and a gentle kiss
And all that's left of remembered bliss
A swirl as of feathers

The House

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Psalm 127:1a
I keep telling myself this so I can go to sleep. I'd like to hammer it into my head with a thousand nails to make it stick.

Have you ever done something that you knew was good work - an essay, a piece of art, a project? Something you stepped back from and said, not with arrogance, but with satisfaction, "I've done this well. I worked hard, and it paid off. This is something worth reading/viewing/studying?"

I'm in the final stage of my novel, and I think I've done something well.

It has been a (literally) life-long dream to write a novel and see it published. In the dream, readers from all over discover an author whose work they become inextricably sucked into, that sparks life and energy in their mind, and that opens up a grand vista to a world they never began to dream of.

The books I most loved did that for me.

I should stick to the point, though - I think I've done something well, something that has real potential to be published by a respected publishing house.

This thought moves me profoundly. I began my first full-blown "novel" in the sixth grade. I unwittingly fell in love with writing when I was six. Now, I'm twenty-three, and I'm almost ready to find an agent and send my first real, adult novel out into the frightening publishing netherworld. I'm so close to seeing an actual "dream come true," I can taste it.

Of all the writing I've done in my life, this is my best. I opened up this post with the verse I did because I have to remind myself that my best is all I can do, and the rest is in God's hands. Just because I wrote something well does not mean that it will get published. My writing will be judged based on my skill, yes, but much of the judging also depends on the whims of publishers.

When I imagine my dream coming to fruition, it nearly brings me to tears. Call it cheesy, but fill in the blanks with your own dreams. Powerful, right? Now, the real challenge is trusting God's sovereignty in the midst of something so very personal.

As I come to the end of my second draft (and the final "writing" draft, if you will) and start thinking about cover letters and summaries and sample pages and agents, you can pray for me that I will trust the Lord, and love and enjoy him ever more than the gift of writing that he's given me. For I build nothing in life - not even this - without him. I have to remember that, and rest.

85% done and counting...!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Getting Territorial

It's easy to equate the phrase "taking care of Ellie is my job" to "taking care of Ellie is my territory."

Indeed, taking care of Ellie is my job, and I very much view it as such. In the same way that Chris has a responsibility to get up each weekday morning, drive to work and make money to support our family, I have a distinct responsibility to get up at whatever hour to nurse the baby, play with her during the day and generally keep her happy and healthy as she grows up. It's a worthwhile job - the best job ever, in my opinion - and the "pay" is the joy of raising up a child to delight in Christ and her life in Him.

Yesterday I noticed a dangerous slip in my thinking. When Chris made an innocent suggestion about something to do with Elayne, I took it amiss and told him that I felt he was "jumping into my territory." He was quick to point out that we must not become territorial over our child! Mothering may be my job, but parenting - that's a team effort. 

I think that it's easy for mothers to become possessive of their children, adopting an insidious pride in the fact that they're around their babies 24-7 and therefore know their tiniest quirks. As if that entitles them ( to take over the role that God has given to both parents! We quickly forget that just as we are merely stewards of our money and our talents, we are merely stewards of our children. Ellie belongs to God, first and foremost, for it was He who "knit her together in [my] womb" and who "wrote every one of the days ordained for her before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139). I did no knitting, or writing. I am simply privileged to be the one God chose as Ellie's mother.

Perhaps internalizing that truth is the surest way to combat the idea that Elayne is mine and mine alone to deal with. If I remember that she is God's, then I will strive to raise her in a Godward manner, which means that I will inevitably see parenting as something Chris and I must do together. For Chris and I are to Ellie, as to the rest of the world, a picture of Christ and His church in our marriage (Ephesians 5), and Ellie won't see that picture well if I keep trying to take over and do things by myself.

Something to chew on. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

From Inside My Lil' Cocoon

The last time someone asked me how my novel was going, I answered without thinking, "Somebody needs to die." What I meant was, I needed to kill off a character in my novel that I hadn't killed in the first draft. Well, that person is dead, so now I can blog in peace.

Is it strange that I enjoy killing off characters in my novel? The other scene I distinctly enjoyed was a breakup scene. I've since psychoanalyzed myself and decided I simply like having control over "people's" lives. The control I have as an author over my novel makes me feel a little more in control of my microcosm, makes my head feel a bit more organized, my thoughts more linear (because let's face it - my thoughts resemble an O-ball way more often than they do a line).

This is an O-ball, by the way.

I learned my lesson from last time I tried to write in Starbucks. This time, I brought ear plugs. Unfortunately, I can still hear the atrocious music, but conversation is all muffled, so no more discussions about how my feet don't reach the floor.

Something about this cocoon of silence is incredibly comforting. Yet another example of my introversion. Not being able to tune in to the words of other people - even as much as I like people-watching - makes me feel secure and alone. And alone time is what I need right now, despite the fact I am writing a post for public consumption.

But you know, in the end, I write not for the public, but because I like to.

It's good to be out of the apartment. I'm so thankful for the time that Chris gives me to write every Monday and Tuesday evening. Little Ellie is going through some kind of developmental leap and it's temporarily made her a pill. She requires constant attention, and things that usually make her happy only do so for a few minutes before she decides she's upset again. I love her, and I definitely miss her after a few hours away from her, but I'm glad for the break.

We just got back from a trip to Colorado Springs - Ellie's first plane ride! She actually enjoyed the airport, I think. She stared at all the people with great interest (takes after her momma). It was downright cool there, even cold at night. What a beautiful place. Sometimes I forget what naturally lovely places there are in the States because I'm Texas born and bred and Oklahoma schooled. Not that TX and OK don't have their own beauties, but let's face it - just like Robert Downey, Jr. is more handsome than David Crowder, as a whole, Colorado is prettier than Oklahoma and Texas.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Coffee, and Mr. Comments-On-My-Feet

Before I begin, am I the only one who thinks the music selection in Starbucks is often just short of awful?

As you may have gathered, I'm at Starbucks right now, enjoying the alone time that my husband gives me every Monday and Tuesday night that we don't have Bible study. I was working on my novel, but I'm currently inserting a pivotal chapter with plot points that didn't used to exist (don't ask me how that works - this is my first novel, after all), and it's proving arduous. Therefore, I am taking a blogging break. 

I have a certain chair that I like to sit in - it's located as far from the main seating area as possible. In fact, it's in a corner beside the restrooms, just across from the dessert display case (which, on a side note, means I salivate like a Pavlovian dog the entire time I'm sitting there). 

A youngish man with a head of thick black curls, carrying a battered brown book (a Bible? a novel?) has occupied said chair, however. He is accompanied by a man of similar years, tall and athletically built. The Athlete's obvious nervousness around Curly-Hair looks downright humorous on his person. I wonder what their relationship is. Is Curly-Hair a new tutor or mentor? Is he an employer? Regardless, he and The Athlete are in my chair, so I'm left sitting beside the man who keeps commenting on my feet.

Yes, my feet. I suppose my first mistake was proffering a friendly smile as I sat down beside him.

"Can I put this here?" I asked, gesturing my purse at a spot on the table between us.

He pushed his glasses up on greying sideburns and smiled back. "Sure. Do whatever you want." A pause. "Cute boots."

"Thanks," I replied, feeling a bit self-conscious. Quickly, I unfolded my laptop and began to type, not wanting to leave the conversation open while I waited for my iced mocha.

Minutes passed without event. I retrieved my drink when it was called and continued tapping away on the computer.

A fly landed on the top of my screen, creeping across it like a high-wire. I shooed it away irritably. All of a sudden, the man beside me let out a guffaw. I sensed him looking at me, so I turned to him, baffled at why he was laughing.

His belly bounced as he laughed and pointed at my boots. "It's funny that your feet don't touch the ground."


I'm used to such comments. I'm sure - hopeful, anyway - that my grin was good-humored rather than longsuffering. "Yeah, it's always like this for me, so I don't even notice anymore. I'm much more surprised when my feet do touch the ground."

The green plaid across his bulk continued to heave as he laughed. Lips compressed, I turned back to my writing, wondering what he'd say next.

He didn't say anything else, but he did attempt to catch a fly that landed on his arm with an exaggerated sigh. When I looked over to see if he had caught the fly, he noticed me looking, and rubbed his hand together over the floor as if to drop the fly's remains. Only, nothing fell out.

In retrospect, perhaps I should've taken the fly opening to make a comment on his feet.


Update: I think Mr. Comments-On-My-Feet actually did get the fly! As I got up to leave I saw a dead fly on the ground right beside him!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Welcome to Our Neighborhood.

I'm a tad burnt out on writing serious posts, so here's an introduction to where we live for those of you who have never visited the Krycho apartment.

Our apartment complex is a strange place - its convenient location a few minutes from OU would suggest that it would be filled with college students, but it is instead filled with a mixture of cute families and seedy groups of dubious relations. Despite the speed bumps, it is also a prime place for cars to speed through, often blaring the sweet strains of rap music. 

I don't understand the speeding, especially given the number of children who play right in front of their doorstep where the cars are parked. Though right now, it seems most of the kids have flocked to one of the two swimming pools located on the premises. The swimming pools are a veritable smorgasbord of people-watching pleasure. That is, if you can tolerate the awkward PDA of late-twenties couples who don't seem to be bothered by the fact that there is a maelstrom of six- to ten-year-olds playing Marco Polo beside them. I often see characters at the pool that I don't see anywhere but the pool, and I make it my business to observe as many different people in the complex as possible. 

However, you can be certain you'll see a few particular people on most days. Our very friendly upstairs neighbor walks by our window at least five times a day and is nearly always shirtless. I often wonder if that's his convenient way of not accumulating laundry. This is the same fellow that very kindly let me shoot off a full-sized firework on the Fourth of July, which was great fun. What was not fun is when he shot off another one at 3 in the morning the next day. My first thought on bolting awake was, "Rockets!", my second, "Hope the apartment doesn't catch on fire." I also hoped the baby didn't wake up. She didn't, and neither did my husband.

Another noise you might hear at dark o' clock is a very profane domestic disturbance. These have not occurred so much, as of late, but maybe that's because neighbors, myself included, have had to call 9-1-1 a few too many times. 

The police recently spent three full days hanging out outside my particular apartment building, going in and out of one of our neighbor's apartments. That was interesting. I really wanted to ask them what was going on, knowing the worst they could tell me was, "I can't tell you," but I didn't think that would be very politic - therefore, I refrained. 

See? I have some control over my curiosity. :)

In all of this, I must remember that the neighbors also have to put up with Chris and me. I can't imagine what they must think on hearing Chris sing about munchkins on fire, or about penguins eating my mom's toenails. I also occasionally do strange things, like look out my window until someone walks by who looks like they can help me with a jar of sun-dried tomatoes that I can't get open for the life of me. In this instance it happened to be my brand-new military neighbor. He was in his camo when I darted outside to ask him if he'd open the jar, which he probably thought was the reason I decided he was an ideal candidate to perform this feat of strength. That might've been a little awkward for him, I guess, since I had never introduced myself before, and didn't then. But I'm telling you - that jar was stuck. Maybe only someone military could've opened it. That's what I like to tell myself.

All in all, we live in a neighborhood of fascinating and weird neighbors, but I suppose you don't have to be a normal neighbor to be a good one.

Friday, July 13, 2012

incurvatus in se

I had a few ideas for this post that slowly morphed and/or degraded into what it is now. The truth is, I wanted to write about pride. Then I realized that I was feeling prideful about the fact I was dealing with my pride. Then I decided that I wasn't going to write. Then I wrote in my journal. All that to say, what I want to say is now in my journal, but I have re-written it for you here.


Who knew that motherhood would be such a battle with pride? Ellie is already so beautiful and smart, I find myself feeling vanity on her behalf, as it were. My weak and wayward heart!

In addition, I've noticed that I feel as if I can be a godly mom without anyone else's help. Like, I'm already there, I just falter from time to time. The reality is that I'm totally incapable of being godly, or teaching Ellie to be godly, without a daily outpouring of grace, the Spirit's guidance and humble brokenness over my sin.

I feel brokenness now...I see my dirty self with an appalled loathing that drives me to find solace in the gospel.

Oh, that I would come to the cross and the empty tomb before ever I reach this point!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wake-Up Juice

Ugh. Home-brewed iced coffee - even a few swallows! - is wake-up juice if I ever had it. Or maybe the reason I'm wide-awake while the hubby and baby are snugly sleeping (as they should be - Chris watched Elayne while I had some grown-up time and she screamed his ears off for two hours) is because thoughts of a loved one lie heavy on my heart.

Even now, I sigh to think about it. This loved one is hurting badly, and turning to everything except Christ to find answers. Now he's turning inward, hiding away, and it pains me greatly to see. I pray for him often, though not nearly enough. However, I know it is not my prayers nor my words that can ultimately help him. Only the Holy Spirit can do that, by opening his eyes to the love of Christ and the blissful hope that he offers through his death and resurrection.

Thus unfolds one of the biggest challenges in my life: comprehending that it is not I, nor a perfect series of words or actions, that can help or save a person. I find it confusing - it is obviously not wrong to want the person to be helped or saved, yet it is wrong for me to trust myself rather than God to do the work (1 Corinthians 3:6-7, 2 Corinthians 3:4-6). I can't seem to let go of the notion that my own power plays a part, somehow. I am allowed to play some part in the sense that I can petition the Lord for souls, but it is not because I merited that privilege by earning Good Christian Points. Reconciling that in my mind is difficult, to say the least.

In addition, I feel that if I say the wrong series of things in an effort to point this loved one to Christ, that I will undo whatever work has already been done in his heart. When I step back from this idea, it is laughable - as if my weak and transient words could override the work of the Holy Spirit and the plan that God has sovereignly ordained! Yet I continue in this line of thought, day after day.

I don't want to indulge the sin of distrust even as I do something that would please the Lord if done rightly. I am glad that he knows the motive of my heart. I hope that the motive, at least, pleases him. After all, the Lord understands how I feel about this loved one, how much I desire that he discover Christ  as all-sufficient, for he loves this person more than I could even imagine loving him. I am thankful that he's allowed me in this person's life so that I can act as his ambassador. Blessed privilege that is! May he give me grace and help to trust him ever more as I represent his glorious person on this earth.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A New Type of Mortification, or The Post I Couldn't Finish

 Let me be honest with you. I wrote the following section of a blog post but couldn't finish, because I'm just not there yet:
Lately, I've noticed classic mom folly crop up in my life. I've felt angry because I couldn't control Elayne, taken out my frustrations on Chris, and tried to handle my anxiety and stress alone instead of taking it to God (a la Philippians 4:6). 
I usually deal with conviction of sin in a quiet, introspective environment - going to another room if I'm in a fight with Chris, for example, or removing myself from a situation to sketch my thoughts in my journal. While there's still room for me to do that sometimes, I'm finding that my busyness is (obviously) more ongoing with a new baby. Therefore, I'm going to have to learn to daily kill my sin in the midst of the swift flow of life - a skill that I am bound to need eventually when Chris and I go into full-time ministry. 

I started writing this last Sunday and let it sit on my computer screen, telling myself each day following that I was going to compose the second half "in a little while." However, throughout the week, I found myself doing all the same things I spoke of in the first paragraph. I felt very discouraged, and I'm still struggling to figure out just how I'm going to actively mortify my sin when my brain is swimming with a million details of day-to-day life.

If you think about it, then, you can pray for me in this spiritual venture. I know the Lord is faithful and that he will see me more sanctified in the days to come as I trust in him!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Better Days

I am happy to announce that these past 2-3 days have been significantly better, and all I can say is thank God, and thank you for your much-felt prayers!

I've been able to find much more joy in Elayne and her infant antics, even in the wee hours of morning. Much of this is because I've been intentional in meditating on God's perspective of children. The Bible says children are a blessing from the Lord. It also says that we are his children, so in taking care of Elayne, I can get to know God and his perspective and care for me more truly and deeply. That's very encouraging. I've often asked myself how I'm going to "do ministry"with a small child, "ministry" existing in a tight box that I've constructed over my college years. However, my spirit was lifted when I realized that if I get to know God better through raising Elayne, I will inevitably serve him more wholeheartedly. As we see God more clearly, we become more like him, and that cannot be constricted to just a few areas of life. It'll spill over into everything, praise him!

 In addition to all that, I've been able to carve out some time for reading in the afternoon (my quiet time, and maybe some of Shepherding a Child's Heart) and before bed (Wheel of Time book 5 re-read, baby!). The addition of these very regular and encouraging activities gives me hope that Chris and I can discover our "new normal" sometime soon.

In other news, I'm trying to decide whether or not to attend the Wordsmithy writing conference August 2-4. Chris pointed it out to me and said we can make it happen, if I want to go. It sounds great, but I'm quite insecure about my writing at the moment. Not that I think it's not good or anything, but it's been a bit long since I've sat down and worked on the second draft of my novel with any consistency. Indeed, I let it go to the wayside during my first trimester (understandably - I pretty much slept any time I wasn't working or trying to keep the nausea down) and haven't picked it up since. So, we'll see. The idea of a writing conference has always both excited and intimidated me, so it's not a surprise that I'm jumping on the excuses for why it would be inappropriate or whatever for me to go.

More later, dear reader.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Trying to Figure This Out

Maybe that's my first problem - I'm trying to "figure this out."

For those of you who may not have heard, Chris and my first child, a daughter, was born on Sunday, May 27, at 1:39 pm. Her name is Elayne, she was 6 lbs, 4 oz, and 18 inches long. She's a beauty, and we are so very proud to be her parents.

This first week of parenthood has been interesting and difficult. I don't do well with change, and this is (obviously) a change of tremendous magnitude. Thank God for giving me a husband who takes this kind of thing in stride, and has very realistic expectations for what new phases of life will look like. So far, parenthood is kind of like marriage in that it is wonderful, yet hard in ways that you can't fully understand until you've been there. Not that I think I'm some veteran - au contraire! - most of the time I'm asking myself, "What on earth am I doing?!"

If you've been on my Facebook page lately, you might have seen that Chris and I think I may be experiencing postpartum depression. Apparently, 1 in 4 women go through this veritable maelstrom of malicious hormones, and those who have had depression before (read: me) are much more susceptible to it. For those of you who have never been depressed, the best way I can describe it is this: a depressed person's thinking is limited to a concrete cell. A wall rises up in front of the person's mind, and the more depressed they are, the more incapable of penetrating that wall they feel. It prevents them from seeing the greater perspective, finding hope, and deriving joy from circumstances. That's where I am right now - when I see Elayne, I find myself feeling sad and hopeless, and harboring dread about the future (for example - "I'll never get good sleep again...things will always be this difficult...Chris and I will never get time together...I'll never get to do anything I personally want to do because the baby will take up all my time forever...").

I guess you could say I feel a bit more prepared to deal with depression this time around, since Chris and I have spent almost three years learning how to battle it off together with prayer, encouragement and the truth of God's Word. That sounds really nice and spiritual, but in reality, it stinks in epic proportions. I don't want to be here again, and I'm asking for prayer that God will deliver me out of this very soon. I want to enjoy every moment with Elayne, for she is truly a treasure. If only my brain would meet up with my heart there.

Hopefully, I'll have a more positive story to post next time. I mean to start blogging more consistently, now that the little one has arrived. Perhaps I'll post my birth story eventually - we'll see (not everyone wants to hear about that, and I understand!). In the meantime, I wanted to give you this brief update. Over and out.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Thoughts About Labor (the Baby Kind)

Throughout my pregnancy, one of my biggest fears has been labor, mostly because it's one big question mark. Labor is different for every woman, and there's pretty much no way to predict how it will go.

I, personally, am a big fan of knowing everything that's going to happen to me before it happens (haha, you say), so you can see why the thought of an unpredictable hours-long bout with pain doesn't jive with me.

Naturally, I set out asking many different women about their experiences with labor, each time hoping to hear what I wanted to hear - that is, "You know, it does hurt, but in the end it's not that bad, and you can do it!" Instead, I've discovered that woman seem to have some morbid need to describe their pain to me (ranging from "it feels like you're being ripped apart from the inside" to the loud statement of a hyperbolic grimace) any time I mention that I'd like to give birth without any medication.

Yeah...not helpful. I've been striving to find someone who will forgo the terms "agony" and the like to remind me (as a male friend at church did today, God bless him) that women - many who had to have been wimpier than me - have been giving birth to healthy babies without medication for centuries.

Not that medication is bad. I'm not going to try to be a hero if I really think I need an epidural, but I'm also not going to keep it so close at hand that I reach for it (so to speak) at the first sign of difficult pain. In the midst of all of my trepidation, I keep reminding myself that my body was made to deliver a baby and has been assiduously preparing for it these many months. And, of course, Baby Krycho will come at the end of it, and what could be better? As my mother-in-law put it - the most encouraging words about labor I've heard to date - all of it is pressure with a purpose.

All this to say that I'm going to be careful, I hope, to speak as positively about labor as I can when someone (especially a first-time pregnant woman) asks me about it in the future. It's partially my fault for asking so many people about it, when gathering information from only a few trusted sources and medical staff would've been wiser for me. However, I've been more than a little appalled at the reactions I've gotten, so you can bet that I'm not going to ask around about labor any more!

And that is all.

30 weeks down, between 6 and 10 to go...

Kick, kick, kick, all day long!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Block

I discovered this today amongst some old files. I was attempting to describe where my heart was at at the time. It ministered to me today, providentially, and I hope it does the same for you. 


I stand on a pedestal, like a slave being sold at the block, for all the world to see. I breathe shame. Despicable child that I am, I cannot but look at the faces surrounding me and wonder, “What do they see? What are they thinking?” The questions burn—they taste like vomit in my mouth!

Yet, who can I be, but this slave? I know nothing of the world that does not demand perfection.  All my life, my captors have tried to train me to be a model of perfection, but I have failed them! In my heart, I am sickened by the fact that I want to please them at all, enough to sacrifice my heart, mind and body to their deadly appetites. I want so badly for them to praise me that I let them keep me on the block longer and longer, just so people will know that I am of some worth to these men!

In the crowd, I see the beloved face of my husband and the faithful eyes of my best friends. They look at me now with a feeling much deeper than the simple concern they began with. They were once slaves, too, you see, but a man of light set them free long ago.

That same man once came to my cell to free me. I stepped out from behind bars only to jump back into the arms of the people I knew best.

Yet my dear ones cry for me here, today, especially my husband. Their eyes plead with me, begging me to believe that I am destroying myself, grinding myself into nothing. From the ground, they beg me with earnest voices to at least try to see what they see. But up here on the block, I see nothing but my ambition to be worth something to these slavers.

My husband reaches out his hand, telling me that I am worth his very life to him. I turn my head away. He who would take me home, nurse me to health, dress me in beautiful robes and hold me tenderly in his arms, does not count. The only people who count are these dealers in death. Why? Because they are the men who run the world, don’t you see? They are the ones who will launch us forward into fame and renown. They are the victorious army – everyone else fights with a glory that will not be seen until the very end. While I am on this earth, I want to be a part of the army that looks like it’s actually winning!

Sleep is my only respite from this deadly dance.

In the night, I curl up in my cell and forget about my captors’ presenting me until the next day. Someone shakes me awake. For a moment, I hang on the edge of a dream, clinging onto the doorframe that leads into a land where my value is secure and my eyes are made new. Then, the wind of reality sucks me out, out, out, with black and hellish pain I cannot fully describe.

What is this? A man has come to rescue me in the night. He reaches out his hand, as my husband did, and in his skin is the light that illumined the dream. In his being is the essence of value, security and newness, made real before my eyes.

But I cannot accept. Oh, who could accept something so good? Something so good could not be true. And I cannot ever be free.

“I will free you.”


“Dear one, I will free you.”

No, Lord, NO!

“I have adopted you, and you are my child. I have loved you, and you are able to love and be loved. I have become your righteousness, and you are sanctified forever with me.”

I can’t.

“No matter what you say, beautiful one, no matter what you do, these things will not change.”

I bare my teeth. Anger erupts in my heart and scratches up my throat like a scream too loud and bitter to swallow down. I scream, and scream, and scream.

His face never changes, except for a slight tightening of the eyes that might be sadness. His face is all love and compassion. He is not unsure of himself, even in his emotion. He is surety incarnate as he looks at me, spreads out his hands and says, “Did I not tell you it is finished?”

I swallow every word I have ever spoken when I see those hands with those holes gaping in them, wounds that pierce from front to back with indiscriminate hatred and rejection. In my mind’s eye, an image of blood and storm clouds and tears and death flashes like lightning.


Noise like a hurricane explodes in my ears. I cannot hold on any longer! I cannot, I cannot, I--!

All at once, the world goes still.

I am not in my cell.

I panic, groping the floor, trying to figure out what this strange world is. I collapse—I am too exhausted to go on.

In a haze, I feel strong arms lift me. They hold me securely and carry me as their owner walks forward.

I look up, dizzy and squinting against the mist, to see a smile more warm and definite and unchanging and sincere and full and holy than could belong on anyone but the Son of God himself. He brushes a tear from my cheek with his finger—I didn’t know I was crying. I need to turn my face away. I cannot face him like this; I can never face him again!

I cannot stop crying. He cradles my head, lets me bury it against his chest. When I look up, he is still smiling with even more love than before, if that were possible. I try to return the smile, weakly.

He nods, and holding me close, whispers, “Did I not tell you? It is finished.”

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Baby Days

Some of you are probably sick of baby-related status updates and pictures now, and that's okay. I, however, have not yet written any thoughts on pregnancy, and it's high time for me to do so!

Pregnancy is an ongoing joyride for me. Okay, perhaps that's a little hyperbolic - what with the nausea in the first trimester and ultra-extreme mood swings and fluctuating appetites in the second - but I am truly enjoying life in a way I never have before. There is a HUMAN LIFE inside me, and she's kicking, turning somersaults, and making her mother laugh and exult in the pure essence of vitality and newness that she is.

Some of you know that Chris and I were unsure of when we'd be able to have children, due to varying risks with the two different antidepressants I've taken. After much deliberation, research and counsel, we decided to stop trying to actively prevent pregnancy last year. I've wanted children pretty much since we were first married, so you can imagine my elation when I found out that my oft-tearful and fear-laden prayer had been answered in the affirmative, quite soon after we made that decision. I suppose I expected God to give me the hardest circumstance in order to grow me (and the scary forms that took in my brain changed from day to day), but instead, he saw fit to bless Chris and I with a biological child, who is, thank the Lord, healthy and rapidly growing.

So, about that expecting-God-to-make-it-hard bit: I have what I like to call a "coping mechanism" that I should probably throw out the window, and that is to expect the worst so that if it happens I won't be disappointed, and if it doesn't, I'll be that much happier.

It's never actually helped me cope, by the way, but I keep holding out for it to.

Anyway, when I'm in my best frame of mind (that is, my most God-centered one), pregnancy gives me a hugely intimate and tangible reason to lift up praise to God. After all, children - whether biological or adopted - are a gift from him, and gifts from God are never to be taken lightly. In a generation where babies are seen as inconveniences and time, money and energy-drainers, I, as a Christian woman, can rejoice in the truth - that motherhood is an immense privilege, giving Chris and me the nearest and dearest little disciple we'll ever have, and letting us participate in the divinely-ordained act of both creation and molding into the image of Christ.

Until June 2, then, or whenever Baby decides she's ready to emerge from her happy, warm home into the wide, wide world, I will hold to these thoughts and thank the Lord for this time of life, even when it doesn't feel like the ultimate pleasure that is does today.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Frightening Revelation

Wow. It's been a very long time since I've posted here. I guess I feel like I don't have much in the way of startling personal insight or the like. Though my husband blogs to work through the things he's thinking, I usually blog to express things I've already worked through.

This time, however, I'm going to share with you something that hit me just last night. So, forgive any lack of order, and here we go.

I was reading John Piper's Desiring God yesterday per Chris's suggestion. I had recently been telling Chris how I lacked joy in studying the Bible and praying, so he encouraged me to read through chapters five and six in Piper's book - the chapters on Scripture and prayer.

I found the chapters to be uplifting and helpful, and they brought me nothing but peace -- that is, until I reached a particular section of the prayer chapter. There, Piper was expounding on how prayer brings us happiness at the same time it brings God glory. As he put it (emphasis mine):

Prayer is the very heart of Christian Hedonism. God gets the glory; we get the delight. He gets the glory precisely because He shows Himself full and strong to deliver us into joy. And we attain fullness of joy precisely because He is the all-glorious source and goal of life. Here is a great discovery: We do not glorify God by providing His needs, but by praying that He would provide ours -- and trusting Him to answer.

Suddenly, I was stricken.

You might wonder why, and rightly so. The quote above is nothing but wonderful, right? I felt my heart fall, however, as I  re-read the last sentence.

We do not glorify God by providing His needs, but by praying that He would provide ours -- and trusting Him to answer.

If you know me, you know how works-oriented I am, constantly thinking that I need to meet my Christian quota in order to earn or maintain God's love. You'd think I would want someone to debunk that myth for me. Many loved ones and mentors have tried. I always thought I wasn't getting over my works-guilt-complex because of some personal inability to do so, but on reading the aforementioned quote, I suddenly realized that I didn't want to get over the complex. I didn't want to pray for God to provide my needs and let him answer. I didn't want to glorify God, because I want to do it myself.

Because I want the glory.

After over ten years of being regenerate, how could it be that I still wanted glory for myself? Not only that, but that I wanted to deny God glory so that I could call myself self-sufficient? What dirty pride is caught up in that! I became humbled and ashamed of the state of my heart in this!

And yet now, in the midst of the shame, I feel a strange sense of joy, a warm flame building up inside me that reminds me: now that I know, I can change. This is the best place to start. Will I now pray to God for the power to change, or will I try to depend on myself, denying Him the glory so that I can say (if only in my own heart) that the transformation was all me?

I've talked a good talk about trusting God until now. Here I stand at the crossroads: I sin if I do not begin to walk these things out.