Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The pigeons

"No good deed goes unpunished."

I hadn't thought much about what that saying means until yesterday. Yesterday, the day I reached my capacity for the pigeons on my porch.

It started 2 months ago when a sweet mama pigeon decided to lay 2 eggs in one of the plant pots on our porch. We had our reservations about the circle of life starting on our patio, and some friends told us that they can become pests, stink and poop everywhere. But we decided, "What the heck? It'll be fun to see them hatch, see the baby birds grow, and then celebrate with them on the day when they'd leave the nest." More accurately, I thought this would be a good idea. Tyler was skeptical from the start, but I guess my idea won. I kind of wish it hadn't.

I'll tell you which part of this experience WAS exciting. It was neat to see the blue eggs one night, and then the next morning, two baby pigeons. Granted, baby pigeons are...well...not the cutest of all baby animals,

but it was still pretty neat to think about the baby bird pecking its way out of the shell, fighting for freedom, and making it into the world.

What was NOT pretty neat was the next month of pooping and chirping. The poop brought a colony of gnats and flies that were permanently hovering over the pot. The chirping might have been endearing, except that it reminded me of the poop and the flies. What REALLY got me was when I saw a new egg in a different pot. Apparently we became known as the pigeon-friendly patio. But once I found out what diseases are carried in pigeon poop (Histoplasmosis, Cryptococcosis, and Psittacosis, according to and saw the poop all over the floor of our patio and our pots, their fate was sealed.

That night I shared my frustration with Tyler who decided it was time for the baby pigeons to learn to fly. They'd been flapping all over the patio and their grown-up wings were developed. He was just expediting what I'll bet would have happened in the next few days. He got the broom and gently invited them to try out their wings, both the babies and the three other grown-ups who had decided they liked our porch.* They haven't returned.

And there was much rejoicing.

Upon reflection, the pigeons seemed like a nice idea at the beginning. Sure, I had some idea that they might turn out to be a problem later, but I didn't want to address that when they were sweet blue eggs in a pot. So I allowed space and time for them to grow and develop, which turned out to be a potentially disease-causing nuisance.

How often have I done the same in life? Let a small habit become an addiction, spend way too much time doing things I should have said no to at the beginning, or nurturing habitual unhelpful thoughts that occupy way too much time. Next time, I'd be smart to think about what I'm giving my space, energy and time to. On the front end. So I don't end up with gnats and flies buzzing around on my porch and animal feces everywhere.

*No animals were harmed in this incident.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Epiphany in a Parking Garage

“Should we go or not?”

That’s how our Sunday morning started.

We were already going to be an hour and a half late to the three hour long church service, we were going to mess with our son’s nap time, and yet we decided to go.

We piled into a cab and made the trek downtown to find ourselves in a ballroom of a hotel. Our little guy fell asleep on the way but awoke to the way-too-loud PA system. I decided to leave and try to find a quiet place for him to resume napping. The first try was a bust- a hallway by the bathrooms where clicky shoes, flushing toilets, and chatty voices made sleeping an impossibility. I headed back out the hallway that led into the meeting room, which was full of kids and laughter and a clown making balloon toys.

I kept moving away from people to find myself in the hotel’s parking garage. There was a smoker’s area in the corner with plastic chairs attached to each other,
the kind you see in bus stations or old airports. No smokers though, just empty chairs.

I sat down, holding my finally-sleeping son, and let him continue to rest in peace.
Beads of perspiration began to form on his head, and I could feel myself getting damp with sweat. I sat there indignantly, thinking, “So THIS is where new moms get to sit with their infants during church. This is just great.” I looked around at the parking garage- the oil-stained floor, the accumulation of dirt everywhere. A parking garage.

A place most people don’t give much thought to. It’s pretty much just the place you walk through to get to somewhere else. Unimportant, dirty, inconsequential.

And then it hit me.

Another mother held her baby in a similar place about 2000 years ago.

Her son was born in an unimportant, dirty, inconsequential place because no one else offered them a place to stay. But instead of being smug and self-important, she treasured up the details of her son’s birth and pondered them in her heart.

God, please help me to be more like Mary. I pray my eyes would be open to the treasures and my heart would ponder them in wonder. Thank you that I have something to celebrate at Christmas. Thank you for hope and for entering into our mess. Thank you for the love you've given to me and a new son I get to hold in my arms.

Thanks for this year's Christmas present: an epiphany with my son in a parking garage.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Infant Honors Program

I can't believe it's happening already.

"Ooh wow- your son is already sleeping for 8 hours straight? That's great!" Something rises in me. A quiet sense of pride that my child has some extra special talent or ability. Sleeping? Really? A talent? I remember hearing conversations like this before I had a kid. I would have an inner dialogue afterwards that went something like, "Wow- those parents must be doing things right. Or that kid must just be extra fantastic. She's probably headed for the Ivy Leagues." When I type it, I realize how ridiculous it sounds, but in the subtlety of conversation or my own thoughts, it's not so clear. My success as a parent and the virtue of my son seems to be determined by how and when he attains developmental milestones.

"I'll pray that it will become easier for you day by day to take care of him." This comment came after my son Asher was unconsolably crying, several times, during a visit with a friend. After hearing this, something in me wanted to say, "But wait- he's a good baby. He was tired and off today, this isn't normal for him. He's not one of those colicky babies." Because if I had a colicky baby, that would feel like I'm an incompetent parent, or Asher is going to grow up to be a difficult child and then a high-maintenance adult.

Why do I do this? Connect my worth to such milestones? I suspect it's because there's something in me that looks to my son to tell me how I'm doing as a mom.

Help me, God, to be the best mom I can be, but to not let my worth ride on how my kid is sleeping or when he starts to crawl or walk.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mothering. My word. It's harder than anything I've done so far. Harder than moving to and living in Siberia, harder than a marathon, than earning a master's degree, trying to speak Thai, or teaching first graders or middle schoolers. It's also better than anything I've done so far. Nothing has been richer, more beautiful, more demanding, stretching, humbling, or heart-melting. I remember a profound realization I had in the hospital after Asher was born. A huge hidden reservoir of love existed in my heart that I didn't even know I had. I had no idea I had the capacity for this kind of love; I truly didn't know it was there. I've got amazing family and friends, so I didn't have a kid to fill some vacuum of love in my heart. I wasn't looking for love; it was just a delightful surprise. A big one. One that I couldn't have predicted but am so thankful for. As I held him and fed him, I realized I could look at him for minutes that turned into hours. I would tear up just looking at him, marveling at this person- a PERSON- who grew inside of me. This person who I know nothing about personality-wise, interest-wise. This person who only makes my life more complicated and exhausting. And I can't believe how much I love him. What a miracle. I lean into that love when he's crying and I can't get him to stop and and it hurts my ears. I lean into it when I'm spraying poop off of his cloth diapers. Or when my body is tired and sore from feeding him. I'm in awe of mothering and the billions of women who've done it before me or are doing it now, because it's the closest thing I've found yet to humble, selfless love. Well, except for a certain someone who left heaven to come live among us and show us what true selfless love is. I'm bedazzled all the more when I think of God's love, to think of how he loves me even when I'm thankless or just make things more complicated. He loves me no matter what I do for him. As a matter of fact, I think he loves just looking at me, just watching me...just like I enjoy looking at my son. I'll bet He enjoys watching me learn lessons from my little man. About an hour ago, I was holding him, bouncing up and down, rocking him back and forth, watching his eyes get heavier by the minute. He'd start to relax, and then bam- he'd tense up again, arching his back, flexing his legs and arms. His pacifier would fall out of his mouth as I'd whisper, "You're gonna be alright. Everything's ok." He would melt back into me, curving around my middle, ferociously sucking on the pacifier once again, moving towards sleep. I saw myself in my son. How often do I forget the rest available to me in my Creator's embrace? I start to worry about people's opinions of me, finances, the future, health, loved ones. Then I stop and remember who loves me and how He's got me, and I melt back into rest. Man. Who knew my 2 month-old could teach me so much.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It's been a long 5 years or something...since I last posted anything. I guess I could list a gajillion reasons about why that is. Busyness, more important things, getting a little disgusted with self-importance and thinking that what I have to say is worth putting on the internet for everyone to read. I probably felt a little gun shy for offending an Indian gentleman who didn't like my post about India. Maybe the biggest reason for my silence was that a lot of the meaningful parts of my life were being impacted by others, and sharing their stories felt, well, maybe a little violating or exploitive. Like using those pictures of kids who look pitiful and hungry to get people to give money. Only instead of me trying to raise money, I was sometimes sharing those stories to feel like my life was interesting or important. I still don't know what I think about all that, but I know that writing and sharing is important. So here goes. Since I last posted, lots has gone down. Cliff notes version: -3 more years teaching in Bangkok, 3 of the richest I've known. Walking alongside of fellow Jesus-lovers, learning what it means to be Jesus to those around us and to walk in humility as we grow. I saw God at work in the lives of my students and their families, and He grew me up in the process. -I returned to the United States in June 2011 and moved to the great state of Idaho where I completed a master's degree and obtained a license in professional counseling.
-Oh yeah...I got re-acquainted with and fell in love with an old college friend, Tyler Smith. We got married in February 2012 and are expecting the birth of our first little one any day now.
How times have changed! So there it is, my first "getting back in the game" post. More to come.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Vacation with Dani


The last thing that might be super interesting to share with you all was when Danielle came to visit. We split our time between Northern and Southern Thailand. That means we got to go to cooking school,


rent motorcycles and zip around the hills, see beautiful jungles and flower gardens, and get super cheap Thai massages. Lots of them. Then down south we got to ride motorcycles (again- we really liked that part of vacation ☺), snorkel, read, talk, go for runs and walks on the beach, and be wowed and wooed by our God. One of the sweetest times was when Danielle and I each chose to spend time in quiet with God, just asking him to speak and seeing what he would have to say. He led me through three very strategic passages- Esther, 1-2, Nehemiah 1-5, and 1 Corinthians 6 that reminded me of the God-mandate that he was setting forth regarding how I take care of my body with food and exercise. It was a mercy to have him speak to an area of my life in which I had desired breakthrough for so long, but seemed totally unable to manufacture on my own.

Another fantastic aspect of this vacation was all of the incredible time I had with Danielle. She is truly breathtaking, and it was a delight to get to enjoy her for two whole weeks in one of the most delightful countries in the whole world. We laughed, cried, were quiet sometimes, talked, did our own thing sometimes, and shared a lot of experiences together. She is a fantastic travel companion for whom I am well-suited. Time with her was such a gift.

Since she’s left, I’ve been back to the grind at school, but it really hasn’t felt like that. I’ve had an overwhelming sense of thankfulness for what I get to be a part of. It is an amazing privilege to be a Christ-follower in the lives of these little ones, and to continue to volunteer for Nightlight and hope on behalf of those for whom there seems to be such little hope. You can pray alongside of me for breakthrough in ministry, particularly towards women who

Friday, November 21, 2008

A crown of beauty

Isn't she beautiful? A woman at rest who has come to know the heart of God- what is really means to be forgiven much, and so she loves much. This is a woman who works for an Nightlight here in Bangkok. She and all the other ladies who work for Nightlight got to go on a retreat to the beach in which they encountered the heart of God in a way that led to what sounded like an amazing time of worship. My friend Annie who runs Nightlight told me about it- it sounded like one of the more beautiful times of enjoying the heart of God that I've ever heard of. This woman and many like her used to have a job that robbed her of her humanity, but that life isn't what defines her anymore. She is the Beloved- a beautiful woman, adopted into the family of God- a princess. Even on the days when I don't feel super thankful for what I get to be a part of here, I know that there IS much to be thankful for. I get to be a part of God's plan for people. That is awesome. I pray that many more would come to know the beauty and lightness of heart of the lady in this picture:

Come and move, Lord Jesus. Set the captives free. Invite them to know and love you. In your name I pray, Jesus. Amen.