Tuesday, July 18

When You're Grasping for Control

I was wishing her ill-will. And I hated it. Someone had wronged us (at least that’s how I felt) and I wanted nothing more than to retaliate. I was frustrated and angry.

I knew it wasn’t right to have these thoughts—certainly wasn’t a common occurrence for me to feel this way— and yet I did. I couldn’t shake it. I walked around unable to think well of this person and their slight of us, coming up with all the things I’d like to say to her, ashamedly, all very unkind.

“I’m angry,” I whispered to my husband later that evening, “and I hate it. Hate what she’s done. Hate that I want to wish her ill-will. Hate that I have such awful thoughts about another human being. But I especially hate that I feel so helpless and out of control to do anything about the situation.”

And there was the heart of my anger, truly, I hate when things are beyond my ability to control and that, most often, expresses itself as anger.

It’s a familiar struggle in my life.

It rears it’s ugly head when my kids don’t obey me or my husband Kyle doesn’t take the advice I’ve offered.

Kyle, who is often much more even- keeled and level-headed than I, looked at me with love and sympathy in his eyes, “Honey,” he stated, “what good will it do to hold onto your anger? You can’t control it, you need to let it go.”

Monday, July 10

Doing Life Together

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers.... Hebrews 13:2

My son puts the early birds to shame. He awakens ultra early and - if I'm honest - slightly grumpy, a trait inherited from his momma. And on this brisk morning in a tiny cabin nestled at the foot of the Black Hills, it's all I can do to get him dressed and out the door for a donut run with my hubby before his loudly whispered conversation wakes our traveling companions.

We're on a road trip because our friends are returning home to China, because they've never seen Mount Rushmore, because we want to eek out just a little more time doing life with them before we're separated by an ocean, a language barrier, and time.

Doing life together: it is one of my favorite things. And taking others on vacation with us is quickly becoming a cherished pattern in our lives. There is nothing quite like road trips, small cabins, and kitschy tourist traps (thanks, Wall Drug!) to replace polite small talk with the stuff made of real life: discussing cultural differences within the safe context of friendship, laughing over our bad road trip karaoke, and building memories as our children turn somersaults in the warm sunshine and freshly mowed lawn of the small mom and pop campground.

Monday, July 3

When Life Gets Lean

My dad always owned his own business. When I was a child he was a farrier, traveling from farm to farm—putting in long days, especially in the summer, coming home smelling like animals and outside and barnyards. I loved it.

When I was in middle school we moved, horseshoeing had become just too physically taxing for my dad to continue doing and so he needed a change. We settled across our state in a small town where he began a financial services business. And although I could say many things about that time of my life, one thing I remember distinctly was how lean the next few years were financially. Not that my parents complained or worried to us kids, but we could sense that things we’d done before wouldn’t be happening those first couple of years, that we needed to cut back on spending. Still, we found we were okay.

And that is why this season, this year, has felt somewhat familiar to me. My husband owns his own business and it has afforded us many benefits for which I am so grateful these past seven years. But this year has been slightly different. Through no fault of his own, some client bases have changed, contacts moved to different companies—leaving us in a season of leanness, at least financially.

Wednesday, June 28

The Pull of Home

We moved to a new town the summer before I began fourth grade. A shy bookworm, I had stick-straight blonde hair down to my rear, 90s bangs, and an affinity for wearing a Mickey Mouse tunic and leggings. It was summer, so without school to help me meet other kids, I grabbed my trusty Huffy bike and took to the roads instead. Up and down the streets I rode, hair flying in the wind, as I learned my new home. One by one, I counted the blocks and memorized the streets. Sibley. Marshall. Holcombe. Each day, the map in my mind expanded.

It wasn't long before I was looking at Lisa's hamsters, or playing with Rachel from across the street, or buying slushies from Handi Stop and daring my friends and I to suck them down in Lauren's piping-hot attic until we could no longer stand the heat.

I didn't travel far, really, no more than a mile radius in all. But slowly as I learned the streets and the people who lived on them, and began to measure the distance to friends in city blocks, the town became home.

Later, when I moved from the south side of town to the north side, I fell into my old bike-riding routine. Sara was two blocks away, Shayna a short distance the other way, Kelsie up past the schools. Familiarity bred comfort, and that became home.

Monday, June 19

Breaking Rules

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:36-39 (NLT)

Pulling my car onto the shoulder of the gently curving road encircling the soccer fields of our local park, my eyes scanned the fields containing of dozens of players, searching out my hubs. My children bounced gleefully in the back seat as I pointed him out on a far off field, warming up with some of the guys as they kicked a soccer ball back and forth. 

"Do you guys want to go say hi?" The words had barely left my mouth before the doors were thrown open and my kids sprinted around fields, always angling toward their dad. There is nothing quite as sweet as the bear hugs Aaron gives, and our kids know this. I smiled as they launched themselves at him into a fierce three-person hug from full sprint and lingered for a quick hello after a long day apart before turning around and beginning the sprint back. 

And while this might sound like the normal experience of any woman married to a man who is passionately passionate about the sport of soccer, the fact that every other player on the fields was Somali was a visible reminder that this is different. This is a quiet, new habit for my family in a community that has had its racial and religious tensions laid bare this past year in ways that are raw and incredibly hard. Our community's struggles with race, culture, and religious differences have left my my husband and I pondering how to engage our Somali community through genuine friendship in ways that are quiet and authentic, with no political undercurrents or strings attached.   

Tuesday, June 13

Unified Not Uniform

This morning we had family devotions with our kids and talked about the day of Pentecost from Acts 2. Although many things were discussed, one main theme that we focused on was how when the Holy Spirit came, the believers who were there began to speak in all the different languages of people that could be found throughout the city.

How amazed the people were to hear about the hope of Christ in their native language. It showed God’s design that all men, of every background, would be drawn to him.

We then discussed our recent move to our new neighborhood, right in the heart of our city, and why we believe God asked us to move here. We shared with our kids that although our last neighborhood was amazing (we still love and miss our old neighbors immensely!), we felt God was asking us to go to a place where diversity amongst the people living there was paramount.

My husband finished our morning by reminding our kids, “as believers in Jesus we are unified in our faith, but we are not uniform. God is calling all men to himself regardless of age, race, social class, or language. That’s why we’re here, to share the love of God with others who don’t look or act or even think like us.”