Owen had an oncology appointment today. Before every oncology appointment, he has an ultrasound to check out the growth of his liver tumor. This procedure usually takes 15 minutes. But today, the time in which it took to take all those pictures of his insides was the emotional equivalent of two days.
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The Roundabout Way
“You can teach what you know, but you will reproduce what you are” -- Christine Caine
A few days ago, Ellia made an autobiographical cereal box. I loved it. Anytime we use recyclable trash for homework purposes, I’m on board.
She named her cereal Elli-O’s. Obviously.
The rest of the box was covered with her dislikes and likes, hobbies, favorite author and musician (currently Stephen Sondheim, which I would argue is not a normal choice for a 7 year-old).
She wanted her cereal to be about who she is and how she lives. So additional to her favorite color, she wrote on her box in gold Sharpie the three lies she doesn’t ever want to believe:
- I am what I do
- I am what I have
- I am what other people say about me
Katie is one of my best friends from seminary. She’s a real life sunshine-y care bear. She’s passionate, deeply kind, and every time I hug her I get glitter on my soul. I recently got back from a two-week stay with her in Florida. On a particularly rainy day during my visit, she came home from her job, noticeably non-glittery and emotionally spent.
“We had a memorial service today,” she said flatly. “I mean, who has a funeral at work?!”
“You just need to know we’re for you.” Ellia has had a tough year. She’s had several hospital stays, missed plenty of school and spent a good amount of time in her wheelchair. She’s struggled to see herself as more than a kid with a genetic disorder. She’s strong, not just for a seven year old, but she challenges the emotional strength of every person around her.
And I think lately, she’s been tired.
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near. And the people throughout the whole region came to John for baptism and the confession of sin.
It’s super snotty, but there have been times in my life where I’ve read a sermon title in the bulletin in order to decide whether or not I want to commit the next hour to sitting in a pew. If it’s a sermon about tithing or church growth, then you can find me journaling in the foyer. And I’m pretty sure I’ve never willingly listened to a sermon entitled, “Repent Now.”
Ellia was baptized this morning. Several weeks ago, she came to Brett to let him know she was ready-- she spoke with certitude about her desire to follow Jesus-- to take seriously her call to be a disciple. Brett had the privilege to baptize Ellia. When someone is immersed symbolically in the death of Jesus and brought out in the newness of life, we all have the opportunity to reflect on the powerful mystery of Christ in us-- the hope of glory. Brett wrote a profoundly important letter to Ellia today, but it is a strong word for us as well.
Just now, Ellia got out of bed to come read me the letter:
Recently, I attended a women’s conference at my mother’s urging. It wasn’t my typical scene, but my free ticket came with a free lunch and it just so happens that free food is on my short list of favorite things. As soon as I opened the door to the conference center, I began to criticize everything—the speaker, the book promotions, the mugs and t-shirts and cheesy marketing. Judgment poured out of me like a fire hydrant. Why am I even here? What could I learn from people who were overtly “cliché” or theologically different than me? How could I be taught by a woman who insisted that all 7 of the points in her talk begin with the same letter?
“What do YOU have to say to ME?”
It's surprising the ways through which we see and experience God.
Two weeks ago, I was significantly changed while spending 15 hours in a hospital waiting room. While in Florida, I had the privilege to pray for and be near Lindsey and Kevin Dennis as their precious daughter, Dasah, came into this world. She was born with acrania-- a rare condition in which a baby doesn't develop a skull. (Read more on Lindsey's blog: http://vaporandmist.wordpress.com).
While she was alive, she was fully alive. And now that she has left this world, her parents, family, and church grieve greatly.
I participated in the Lord’s Supper for the first time when I was six at a Baptist church in Vernon, Texas. The crackers were super tiny. The juice was barely enough to wash down that tiny cracker. All I knew was the Lord’s Supper was a time of reverence, but for me it was a time of anxiety. I was always afraid I’d eat the elements before it was time to do so. No one wants to dive into the tiny cracker meal before the preacher tells you its ok.
I’ve always struggled with communion. It’s been explained to me for most of my life, but I still don’t quite get it.
Currently, I’m in sunny Florida on a short writing project. While here, I’ve been spending time with the community of Mosaic. Tonight, this church is gathered for worship and a time of prayer. Two members of the church community, Kevin and Lindsey, are facing unimaginable pain and a devastating reality. Tomorrow morning, Lindsey will deliver her baby girl, Dasah, who is expected to die shortly after birth because of a condition known as acrania, meaning that in utero she did not develop a skull.
The pain is magnified by the fact that only a year ago, Kevin and Lindsey lost a child. Sophia, their firstborn, died only 10 hours after birth from a similar condition. I can only imagine the exhaustion and the painful anticipation of tomorrow’s events.