Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The ILLUSION of Control

Yesterday was one of those carefully crafted, planned and executed days. From the moment I woke up to the cries of a hungry baby, needing to be fed, I was on "full speed ahead" mode. My "to do" list was quite long and I just mentally checked things off as I went, forgetting that small accomplishment as quickly as I could focus on the next task. Mondays I go in to my office so it means getting up and getting Josiah and myself ready for the day. Then, taking Roy to work so that I can have the car. We had to make a run to Target so Josiah and I went and sped the aisles stocking up on necessities like dish soap and toilet paper. After that, home and Josiah's time for a nap. The moment he went down, I sped around the house getting dinner prepped and in the crock pot, tossed a load of laundry in the washer, checked my work email, got Josiah's endless amount of stuff ready to take with him to the baby sitter. He woke up, after feeding and changing I dropped him off at the sitter, drove to work just in time for my meeting to start. After work was done, pick up Josiah, run and pick up Roy from work. Get home, finish dinner prep, get dinner ready for Josiah. Another load of laundry. Eat, and head out the door for a prayer meeting for the ministry that I'm involved in. As soon as that's done, run by the Indian store for a few necessities. Then....breathe. I was headed off to enjoy an evening coffee girls' night with some friends that had been planned for a few weeks. What a day. I needed my friends, a cup of decaf coffee, some chocolate and to just shake off the stress of the day.

As I'm driving along, I was listening to this song on the radio:
I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep you safely in between the lines
I try to put you in the box that I've designed
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye

When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world

Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I'm strong enough
When you're the one who made me from the dust

I actually hadn't heard this song before, and it stopped my racing mind for a moment. Ah, yes. God is in control. On days like today, I forget who actually has it all together. It's really not me. 

Turns out I needed this reminder. Just a few minutes later......

splatter, splatter........CRACK!!!!!

Rain and hail began to pour down. A giant circular crack was punched into my windshield. I screamed and ducked (as if that would help avoid the onslaught of hail!). My car sounded like it was being bashed in with a bat. I couldn't believe how fast and how hard those little hail balls could hit. Some were marble sized, but I think some of them coming down were closer to quarter sized. They kept punching dent after dent into the car and crack after crack in my windshield. 

I turned into the nearest parking lot and tried to find an overhang to hide my car under. The nearest tree had to do and the leaves softened the blows to my car as I huddled underneath. 

And I just cried. I felt so small. So helpless. So out of control. I wept for fear. I wept for our super tight budget with most of our money already ear-marked for things for our new house and the move and regular bills. I wept for the sheer exhaustion of the day. I was NOT the king of my own world at that moment.  

This morning, I watched Josiah as he woke up crying out knowing that someone would be there to pick him up. He fussed knowing that food would be given to him. He fell asleep in my arms just before nap time, knowing and trusting that he was safe, protected and cared for. I need to be more like Josiah most days....faith like a child is truly something that I lose sight of. I forget how good my heavenly Father is. I forget that chaos can hit at any moment for any one of us: storms and natural disasters, death of family members, loss of jobs, relocation of jobs, broken relationships, the destruction of our own personal and ongoing sin, a sudden illness, etc. We really aren't as in control as we think we are. 

This morning, I need to crawl into my heavenly Father's arms and just know I'm safe, cared for, loved and he has it all under control....and I need to make a call to the insurance company.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Babies Don't Come with Instruction Manuals

I am a researcher....I love information and collecting all I can about different subjects. I thrived in school; then as a teacher I have file BOXES on different subjects.

So, when I got pregnant, the research started again. I read pretty much cover-to-cover the What to Expect When You're Expecting book. For each baby item we purchased, I read all the reviews and then when we received it read all the instruction manuals (you practically have to with the car seat in order to figure out how to put your baby in it safely!). I spent HOURS online researching cloth diapers and even attended a two hour class! And I honestly don't feel like I went overboard with it all...I was just trying to do the best I could to figure out the best decisions in the myriad of things to do, choose from and prepare for.

Then this little bundle of joy came into our lives. Oh what a day, to hold my tiny, beautiful, squirmy, wide-eyed, dark-haired baby boy. Every day was filled with new things to be experienced, decisions to make, moments to cuddle and a new normal to adjust to. Then I began to encounter things that there was no instruction manual, website, expert,  or clear answers for.

Here is my list of things that I discovered there was no manual for:

1. How in the world do you dress your baby for cold weather?!
Ok...I'm from Minnesota. It's pretty simple to us Northern Folk. It's freezing cold, you add more layers. Function trumps fashion.
But with babies....you can't add big fluffy warm layers when you are going in the car seat. When Josiah was just two months old, we took him in the car to a place we would be back and forth from warm buildings and walking around outside. Do you dress up in a warm snow suit and then take it off every time you are inside or in the car? How complicated!! We ended up dressing him in a couple layers (a longsleeved onesie and a hoodie) and covered him in blankets in the car seat, put him in the baby carrier against my chest when we were outside and covered him with a blanket. But seriously, it was quite the process to figure out.

2. Where does baby sit in the restaurant?
The first few times we went out to eat, we placed the car seat in the booth or on the chair next to us. Each time the host asked us if we wanted a high chair. I politely refused each time but inside was thinking, are you crazy? Can't you see he's so tiny and can't even hold his head up?! How in the world will he sit in the high chair? Little did I know most restaurants have high chairs or slings that hold a car seat so they can sit next to the table.

3. Baby change tables in public places
I NEVER paid attention to those in the bathrooms before and now it's one of the first things I check for when we are out and about. One thing I've noticed....most places have them these days, but most public places keep their restrooms significantly cooler than the rest of the building. Have you ever tried to change the diaper of a little boy when it's really cold?! You really have to watch out for, um, well....spraying.

4. How to schedule your life around breastfeeding
Breastfeeding. *SIGH* I could write a novel just on that journey. The HARDEST thing I've had to do in quite a long time (and that's saying a lot considering I've lived in a war zone).  My post-partum emotions mostly erupted over breastfeeding issues. It's only been the last month or so when I feel we've gotten to a good place in breastfeeding. There is a lot of information on how to breastfeed. I worked with an incredible lactation consultant. But there was nothing to tell me HOW to schedule life around breastfeeding....when do I wake up to make sure myself and the little man are both fed, dressed and ready to go out the door and he isn't crying out of hunger 15 minutes later? How do I schedule feedings when I have a babysitter giving him a bottle and I get home intending to feed him and it's 10 minutes after he's eaten? What happens when you are standing in line for stamps at Christmastime at the post office for 45 minutes and the baby starts crying because he's hungry? When you are out running errands and in the middle of them the baby needs to be fed...what do you do? I've now discovered the backseat of my car and utilize it more than ever.

5. Taking baby to church
Where do you sit? In the back? Near the aisle? In the family room outside of the sanctuary? I never even knew we had a nursing mothers room in our church until Josiah came along. Although I've now discovered that it's quite the chit-chatty place and I don't get to listen to the sermon if I am not the only person in there. What age do you decide to put your kids in the nursery? We still haven't because for one Josiah is pretty quiet and doesn't fuss at all. We like having him with us. Also, it's cold and flu season, and we feel he's still pretty little to be in a big crowd of little-bitties with runny noses. Do we go to the early service (where we usually go and have lots of friends) but interrupt baby's morning nap, or the later service (we don't know anyone, it's packed and louder and more chaotic) after the baby naps?

6. Childcare when you don't live near family
We have lived in Colorado Springs for two years so thankfully we have a community of friends and connections here. However, we don't want to just take advantage of all those relationships for childcare. It's a delicate balance of expressing need and not being a burden to others. I am working from home part-time so for the most part, I am able to be here for Josiah. But, I do go into the office once a week, or we have things come up, or we need a date night. So, who do you call? How do you ask? And most of our friends available during the day also have little kids at home so you don't want to just add to the masses.

7. Shopping with baby
So, I know you should not put your baby's car seat on the top part of the shopping cart. So we tried putting him in his car seat in the basket part. However, this does NOT work for grocery shopping day when we have to fill the cart. I've tried taking the stroller/car seat in when we have smaller things but that is only when I am picking up one or two items. So I've also tried putting him in the baby carrier but then have to deal with the cold element (see #1) in transferring him to and from the carrier and the car seat and walking through the parking lot in the cold temperatures and snow falling. So far, the carrier is the best (but not perfect) option. 

There are many more in addition to this. And I'm realizing, each parent has to discover the way that is best for their family, and best for their baby. For some things, there is no RIGHT way, just what works best for you. And then just when you get it figured out, something new comes along. This is the joy of parenthood and I have realized, it keeps me dependent upon God to lead us as a family. It keeps me and my husband communicating to figure out what works best for us. And it makes for some good memory-creating moments as we make our way together.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Back in the blogging saddle again

It has been over two years since I've written on my blog.

Two years.

And it's not as though I haven't had anything to write about. I've only gotten married, moved, looked for and started new jobs, traveled, and oh yeah, had a baby. Nothing much going on.

In fact, that has been the "problem." There has been so much going on that it has taken all my concentration and focus and investment.

Also, it has been a huge transition, and not all of it easy. I find blogging allows a peek inside of people's lives and I have to admit, there have been many moments these last few years that I've just been struggling to figure it all out, have a balance, etc, that any outside (and especially unsolicited) advice or input would just be the cherry-on-top to overwhelm me.

But, now that I'm in this new season of motherhood, I'm finding I crave a bit of a creative outlet. In my day-in and day-out routine with my adorable baby boy, there are deep parts of my soul that are needing some investment. I believe that writing is a big part of that for me.

So, here we go again. I have even been dragging my feet because i had plans to revamp my blog visually, maybe even go with a different platform, rename it, get a new focus and spin on it. But alas, getting over that hurdle was keeping me from the very thing I wanted to be doing, just writing. So it's back to the old standby blog that has been patiently waiting for me out there in internet neverland. A place filled with many of my previous thoughts and experiences....collecting digital cobwebs and unseen by pretty much everyone. Well....Lazarus come forth! Let's breathe some life into you again and see where this takes us.

Next post....some things on my new mommy mind I've been dying to process.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Remember what you learned

Ever "cram" for a test? I'm excellent at that....I can study and memorize then spit information out on to a piece of paper and really feel like I have a good grasp of the material. Then ask me about it next week, next month and it's a blurry memory.  How do we maintain what we "know"? Since I've really got into teaching, for me the things that stick the most are what I pass on to others, and those things that have poignant life lessons attached to them.

This has been a testing season to say the least. I moved back to my home country where I haven't lived for eight years. That is challenging whether you may be aware of it or not. I transitioned out of a ministry that I've been working with for eleven years. I have been looking for a job for nearly five months now and have been without consistent financial support for two months. And the greatest challenge is maintaining a very long distance relationship while planning our wedding which has the risk of having to be rescheduled if my fiancé's visa has any glitches.

I know there will be a time when I look back on all of this and see the 20/20 hindsight perspective. I'll see how it was all woven together for my good and how each thing that did or did not happen would turn out to be a blessing. But right now I stand in the unknown. Right now I'm in the thick of it with 10 days to a wedding I'm not even 100% sure will happen on that day.

But I've learned. And, oh, how these lessons didn't come easy. I wanted to put some things in writing before this season whisks away and dissolves into the next and I forget the poignant things written into my soul.

1. God is trustworthy.
As a student and teacher of the Bible, a committed Christian and a woman who has given my life to serving God, you would think this would be a given piece of information. This simple truth has been tested to the max and I am ashamed I spent far too many days in tears wondering if this was in fact true. When job after job faded out of my grasp. When delay after delay happened in Roy's visa. When day after day went by and I am still facing reverse culture shock and asking if I truly heard God right because the journey in front of me feels so difficult and at times impossible. But God's character stands above circumstances. I don't know why I still don't have a job (and believe me, it's not for lack of trying or experience or education). I don't know why Roy and I have spent seven straight months apart. I don't know why it seems he will only arrive here two days before the wedding. But what I DO know is that none of those things makes a dent in God's trustworthiness. His plans are not our plans. His best is not always what I think is best. That challenges can be far better for me in the long run than ease and comfort. God is trustworthy. Even if we have to change the wedding. Even if we have to live with family and work odd jobs for awhile. Even if another circumstance comes our way. God is trustworthy. I don't ever want to forget that.

2. Marriage is far more important than any wedding/wedding detail.
I now know why the "bridezilla phenomenon" happens. It makes sense. And it's been a tempting reaction. The entire wedding industry sells you this fact that you can and indeed should have the wedding of your dreams and every detail can be perfect. (as long as you're willing to pay for it of course). You are paraded through this list of expectations and then if that isn't overwhelming enough, they tell you that because you are a unique couple you can break any one of those expectations and do whatever you want because it's YOUR wedding and you are the princess and you rule for that day. Self, greed, pride, reigns on your wedding day and you have every right for that to be so.
But really, if my groom makes it here, the church could burn down, no one could show up, the food could be foul, the music like nails on chalkboards, my dress stained or ruined and as long as I say "I Do" and make a covenant before God (and at least one witness!) then our marriage has begun. And that is a beautiful thing. Roy and I have had the clarity of seeing that at the end of the day, if him and I are together, THIS is what matters. The rest is insignificant and fades into a list of memories. Our relationship endures.

3. Money is not the most important thing (though it is needed in life).
I believe the teachings of the church on money often leave Christians confused. We are told money is not to have any power over us. We are never to bow to money, make it our idol. And yet the simple fact remains, we need money. Money provides us with food. It takes care of our bills.....without it we could go to prison for never paying our taxes or ignoring our medical bills or end up homeless for not paying our rent. We do NEED it. But it is not to be the all-consuming power of our lives. That's a fine balance to walk, which I think always leads us back to our God as our ultimate provider. I have been without a job for five months. My financial support dwindled and was finished two months ago. At each moment I needed it I got either a temp job for a week or two or a phone call or a check from someone who wanted to help us with the wedding. I've had to cut back. I've stopped going out to eat or doing "extras." The only things I've purchased are things needed for the wedding or groceries. We need a job. But money is not the most important thing and cannot dictate my life, our lives. Roy and I don't know financially what lies ahead for us. We both need jobs. But we know that God is our provider and will make a way....either through opening a door for us to work, or sending the ravens while we sit by the stream as he did with Elijah. What we do have, we don't want to hoard or keep back but still continue to be generous and wisely take care of the necessities.

4. Communication is a priceless gift in relationships
A long distance relationship basically has to be built on communication. Thats about all you can do over the phone. It's hard to watch a movie together, to do a puzzle, to go out to eat, to hang out with a group of friends, to hold hands or watch a beautiful sunset. When you are in a long-distance relationship, you connect and then you talk. Because of that, our relationship has been forced to have a bedrock foundation of communication. We have talked about it seems like everything. We talk twice a day. We have read books together. And then we have talked about them. This is a priceless treasure. Good relationships have good communication. Not just dating/engaged/married relationships, but friendships and family. I have learned to value open communication in a new way over this last year.

5. A job is not your identity
This has been a lesson that has been years in the learning. What we do often stems out of who we are. We seek something where we can exercise our strengths and gifts. Where we can learn and face challenges that we enjoy. But what we do is not the sum total of who we are. Easy to say when you are doing something you love. A whole lot harder to believe when you are sitting day after day, filling out job apps, having to answer peoples' questions about what you do with "well, I did this for awhile and now I'm looking for some new opportunities." I've doubted myself. I've doubted my worth. I've doubted that all my experience was valuable. I doubted the path that I took in the pass because it didn't lead me to (what I imagined would be) "success." And when those moments came I realized that I was wrapping myself in the identity of job (or lack thereof). When I worked a temp job where I was treated like the office gimp, I had to remind myself that I had so much more to offer than the people around me assumed. When applying for jobs I knew I was qualified for and yet didn't receive, I had to remind myself that it wasn't because "I wasn't enough." Those are hard lessons. The job seeking season is brutal on the soul and punches your identity in the face. I definitely will have a lot more grace and compassion for those walking through that season in the times to come.

Well, this has been a very personal blog post, but I hope something God has taught me in this season could be a lesson for you....or at least that we can nod our heads and say, "yeah, that's true" together. Our journey is always an opportunity for God to teach us something new or deepen our understanding of something we already know.

So what have you been learning in your season of life? I'd encourage you to pass it on. Or to at least write it down so you can come back to it in the seasons ahead. 

Monday, October 07, 2013

One foot in front of the other: Seeking God's direction in the midst of uncertainty

Needless to say, walking the journey of life can have its confusing moments. These last few months or so have been no exception. Roy and I knew that making a relationship work across a very long distance and waiting for visas so we can be together would be no easy task. The daily reality of that though, has been eye-opening and faith-challenging.

We have been in the continual process of making wise decisions with planning our wedding and future. We have sought counsel, talked together, come up with multiple options and paths to take, and above all got on our knees and sought God in prayer.

All of us want clear direction. We want to know that when we take a step forward, make a really big decision, that the general outcome is going to be positive. We may even want specific details of how the situation will unfold: a time frame, a response from others, that dream job, or the house finished just the way we were expecting, the plans to come together exactly how we researched and planned. And yet the reality of life is that things change, plans fail and sometimes, we can never anticipate the outcome or the twists and turns along the way.

I've been reading in the book of Isaiah over the last few months. Isaiah is a book that really shows God is a God who can be trusted. I've needed the message of this book as many moments along my most recent journey I've questioned, "The circumstances are difficult. Is God really coming through?" It's revealed the areas of doubt in my heart that my head-knowledge just couldn't hide for too long. But in Chapter 30 of Isaiah, God calls out the nation of Israel for trusting in foreign powers (i.e. Egypt) to protect them. They make their own plans but they are not necessarily God's plans. He tells them that "In returning and rest shall you be saved; in quietness and trust is your strength." (30:15) When I'm facing uncertainty, the last thing I usually am is quiet and restful.....He then tells them if they return to him and trust him that "And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you saying 'This is the way, walk in it,' when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left" (30:20-21) In the middle of uncertainty, this sounds like a breath of cool relief and peace, to hear the one in control direct the way and guide the path.

But what about those moments when you're not in rebellion, just traveling the path and you're uncertain..."am I going right, or left or is this still the way I am to walk?"

About a week ago, Roy and I got the news that his visa interview was scheduled for AFTER our intended wedding date. While a wedding date is not impossible to change it is VERY, VERY much a hassle. We decided to see if we could get an earlier date, he called the embassy and I called the Minnesota US Senator. We waited and we got an earlier date....one that would put Roy here a day or two before the wedding IF everything goes absolutely flawless. We had a decision: go ahead with the intended date, or change the wedding before people finalize tickets and travel plans. Stressful times.

I took off for a walk in the woods to clear my head and just have it out with God in the semi-privacy of nature. Living in Duluth, I am very near the Superior Hiking Trail  which is nearly 300 miles of trail that snakes along Lake Superior's North Shore area. Much of it winds its way through Duluth itself.

I was walking the path, zoning out and just mindlessly following the path wherever it would lead me. The final destination was not the goal, but just the fact that I was journeying along the path. There would often be other trails that would intersect, places where the winter cross-country ski paths or snowmobile trails would cross the hiking path. At these junctions I would notice that there would be a little sign posted on a tree indicating the way the SHT continued. At some points, the woods would open up with a somewhat discernable path but have other areas people had walked or that seemed to look like trails to follow. At those moments I'd maybe slow down and look around and I'd see the blue paint mark on the tree that you can see in the photo above. Then I knew I was on the right path. But sometimes, I'd have to walk in what I felt like was the right direction and only after a little while, spy the blue indicator on the tree.

It dawned on me, that this is what the journey of following God is often like. We have a trail, there is a journey set before us and our omniscient, all-good God knows the best for us. And even when we are well intended and on the right path, we can question or feel a bit lost or disoriented. Sometimes the assurance and the direction doesn't come in that immediate moment when we feel we need it the most. Sometimes we put one foot in front of the other, using our best judgment and wisdom that we are still on that path, and seek above for that indicator that we are to keep heading in that direction. God's heart is not chaos and disorientation, but sometimes, he wants us to check in with our Guide to slow down and not just assume we've got everything under control.

This season has been building a foundation in mine and Roy's relationship of absolute abandonment and trust in the character and intentions of God. Even when the plan looks unclear, there is still something we can know with absolute certainty, and that is that our God is good, he loves us and he is never going to abandon us. We have decided to keep our intended wedding date not because it's absolutely certain that it will all work out, but we know we've sought wisdom, we have peace in our hearts and we know that no matter what happens...if Roy's feet are on US soil come Oct 26 or not, our God is still amazing, he is good and he knows the path ahead for us. We trust him, not our own plans and we will praise God on our wedding day no matter what it takes for it to come about.

Keep on the journey dear friends. Put that next foot forward even if you don't know where the one after that will land. Keep your eyes above for that blue marker, that sometimes small indication that yeah, God is here and the path is firm. And often, it's the moments of quietness and rest, not chaos and planning and preparing where our most amount of certainty and security will be found. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Empathizing with Abraham


The book of Genesis has become one of my favorites. The characters are so, well, real. They lie, they doubt, they inflict violence on each other, they do crazy stuff that leaves us asking "and WHY are these the examples of faith laid out for us?" In other words, I identify with their humanity. 

Abraham has been an encouraging figure to me as of late. And not because of him being the "father of faith" or what not, but just because I feel like I have a small little taste of walking in his shoes. 

Today is my last day of my temp job. Yesterday I received my final support check after eleven years of having a consistent, faithful support network. Eleven years ago I never would have thought I would say this, but I've really appreciated raising my own support and it's brought so much freedom to my life (for a further explanation of why, please feel free to ask...though it's not the focus of this blog, so I'm continuing on....). And right now, with my season of support finishing, I find myself on uncertain ground. 

Not only am I jobless, I'm crashing in other peoples' homes. My fiance just finished his job today and moved out of his apartment yesterday to stay with his cousin until his visa goes through. And oh yeah, we are still waiting for Roy's visa in hopes that he can arrive in the USA by our intended wedding date. So, here we are, two people starting a future together with no jobs, no home to call their own, and no guarantee of when they will be together. There is no anchor point to hold on to at this point to say "this is my security." 

....apart from having faith that God will come through. 

And that's where we stand. There's a million and one reasons to doubt. I have sent out many, many job applications, interviewed and been denied a job opportunity over and over. It seems like a closed door. Roy and I have very little finances and yet we have to see him move internationally, have a wedding and find a place to live, furnish it and live in the day-to-day. And as of today, both of our paychecks finished. 

It's scary. And all around me the American world is screaming at me to get insurance, save up, find security, make sure my future is solid. My arms feel like they are being ripped off in two different directions. 

Abraham. Abraham packed up everything leaving security behind. I think many of us who have gone through transition look to him and sigh, knowing that someone, somewhere at some point in history has known how we feel. I also have been thinking about how God promised Abraham he'd be a father of many nations and yet it was decades before he saw the fulfillment of the promise. Delay and no change in circumstances can lead down a very direct road to doubt the validity of God's words, doubt his willingness to keep his promises, doubt the good will of his heart towards us. 

I'm going to be honest and say I've doubted a LOT in this journey. It's been a struggle of the will, the mind, the heart and emotions to look at God's word and say "yes, that is true. Yes, this is the character and nature of God that I know and believe in." But the story of Abraham keeps pulling me back to that point. Realizing he had to wait years to see God come through and Roy and I hopefully are banking on months. We are definitely in a place where if God doesn't move, we are really stuck. I guess that can be good because it means God is FULLY in control and we have no power in and of ourselves. 

But, I post this in the public forum not to whine but just to ask for prayers. We also need the fellowship and faith of others to help us stand and walk through each moment of this season. And I would ask that you would also pray that my faith would be strengthened, that I would not walk away from this season missing what God is showing me and missing seeing God for who he is in the midst of my small circumstances. For those of you coming to our wedding, know that when you arrive you also will be witnessing a true miracle as so many things will have had to have happened to see that day come to pass. We're excited to share it with you. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

that bratty child named "entitlement"

Worldview lays a foundation for all we say and do and think in life. It lingers underneath our feet, behind our brains, within our prayers, seeping out when we are not even aware of the leakages into all areas, saturating every inch of our being. It becomes glaringly obvious when we encounter a worldview so drastically different from our own. When I sit across from poverty-stricken mothers, holding wailing children with snot running down their faces, no shoes on their feet and hopelessness in their eyes, I am shocked to hear words escape their mouth that reveal that they believe the life they live is their fate. They cannot escape it, this is what the universe dealt them. They must just shuffle on. My inner American cringes and I speak "hope and life" in feeble attempts to shift their thinking. I get on my knees in prayer later sharing with God my heart that their worldview keeps them in bondage from really having a true relationship with a God who loves them, who calls them his children, who knit them together in their mother's womb, who has a hope and a future for them.

Some days I would love to believe that my whole worldview is entirely Biblical. I would love to think that I have stared at the black and white and red-letter pages so long that they have transformed every inch of my being into the way God thinks and out of me oozes the love and grace and mercy of God. I have days where I wish I was Jesus himself in the way I treat others. To be honest, I thank God for my experiences that have helped me critically evaluate my own western-oriented worldview and purge away the things that are not godly within me. And yeah, there's much that God has shifted in my life...he's gone hard after materialism in my life. He's showed me what hospitality and serving really is (I joke with people that the American version of hospitality is asking "Hey, do you want something to drink, water, soda, coffee? No, okay.") But let's face it, we are all  human, we are all soaked in our own worldview, biblical or unbiblical, that silently oozes out of us daily.

And I cannot be the one to cast the first stone. My worldview will often separate me from relationship with God when not aligned with his truth and his heart. Yesterday to my shame, I came face-to-face with my own inner bratty child.

Coming back to America from living in Asia for quite awhile, I find myself being more acutely aware of my surroundings. I stand in lines and I hear the conversations around me so clearly (try living without your native language for awhile and then coming back to it....it's like sensory overload!). I listen to women complain about how slow the cashier is being, "They should get more people on these registers. These lines are ridiculous," (said to the whole two people standing in front of her). Translation: "I don't deserve to have to wait this long." I listen to a teenage girl tell her mom, "But (brother's name) got that new video game. Why can't I get this CD? It's not fair," Translation: "I deserve to have just as much stuff as someone else does." Or one day hearing "Can you believe my husband didn't consult me about the color of our new car? Now I have to drive around with this ugly tan thing." Translation: "I deserve to have things exactly the way I want them."

Entitlement: That bratty child that rises up in us and screams out to the world "I deserve this! I want this! I have to have this! You have failed if you don't give it to me!"

And I've casually listened to these conversations sometimes laughing, and sometimes, to be honest, sneering and judging, sometimes saddened, all the time thinking of people I know that if given a tan "ugly" new SUV they'd weep and hug everyone in sight. I think to myself, "I hope I don't say things like that."

Then yesterday, my inner bratty child came out to have a tantrum. My day had been one frustration after another. I sent out yet another application, resume and cover letter. I looked at my budget and saw nothing but squeezing and cutting things out. I looked at my list of things "to do" for the wedding and grew a little bit angry that I may not be able to have what others have had. It was yet another day with no job prospects, no accomplishments, feeling useless, and disconnected. In a conversation the words "I'm just so mad at God right now" came out of my lips. Translation: "God owes me more than this. Look at what all I have given for him and this is how he treats me."

Ouch. Entitlement, you are an ugly beast.

So, now that that little child has thrown itself on the floor, screaming, flailing and kicking its legs, it's time to deal some discipline and love and care. The honesty is out there. The ugliness is not hidden. So, I come back to my Abba, sit on his lap, ask for forgiveness and lean in and trust him that his ways are the highest good. He says so, he is faithful, he never leaves or forsakes us. Smooth my rough edges and continue to burn away those things that are ugly within my soul.