Monthly Archives: October 2011

Care Package

A care package from my Growth Group back in San Diego has arrived just in time. Jamie masterminded the whole thing—have I mentioned what an incredibly generous friend she is to me?—and I’m in awe of how loved we are.

The package includes:

  • Notes from the girls—some on pretty stationary, one with a hand-drawn pepperoncini on the bottom since we always have a Costco jar of pepperoncinis at our gatherings, one written in hot pink pen on a napkin
  • A photo with a handwritten note on the back
  • A flyer from a found art exhibit at an art show by the Bay
  • A Thomas shirt and bathtub toys for Luke
  • A princess starter kit for Lane, along with the cutest chocolate brown corduroy bloomers ever and a little outfit on a miniature hanger for one of her dollies
  • Magazines for “inspiration” and “creativity” (including People, Real Simple, the Pottery Barn catalog, and a Writer’s Digest pub)
  • A flower hair clip for me and one for Lane
  • Perfectly pale pink nail polish
  • A mix CD that includes El Shadai from Amy Grant, if you can stand it
  • Archer Farms Tex Mex trail mix from Target . . . one of my personal favorites
  • A beautiful hardback journal with swallows on the front—in a signature turquoise and green pallet
  • A novel
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • And all this crazy love spilling out on random sticky notes and scraps of paper

And once again, I am cared for by this band of Gypsies . . . mind, body, and soul.

Just about once a week I get a video of the girls when they all get together. Some of it is them saying hi to me, but mostly it’s just a couple trips around the table so I can see them and be with them—laughing, eating, talking, being together. Mostly it’s just them letting me know I’m still a part of them and they are still a part of me.

I was really moved by the response I received from my last post. Clearly, some of you are struggling with that stuck feeling, too, and you needed to hear that Emmanuel might in his own way be coming to thee. Not necessarily to change your life but to keep you company while you’re living it.

I didn’t realize when I wrote those words in that post that Emmanuel would be coming to me in the form of a care package. Christ in the bread and wine of Sour Patch Kids, the sacrament of Target Tex Mex. Christ scrawled on napkins. Christ in a cardboard box. (Who says you shouldn’t put God in a box?)

I am believing that some kind of care package could arrive for you today, too. And that it would nourish you as you need to be nourished.

All my love.


Company Keeper

I listen to Christmas music year around. Not constantly or anything. Just a little here and there, all year long. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because I am a melancholy, and the message of Christmas is so incredibly poignant, so tragically beautiful, so achingly humble and hopeful. I can’t just save that for a few weeks at the end of the year.

This morning, after I dropped off L&L at preschool, the following played from the Christmas mix CD Jamie made for me last year:

O come O come Emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appears

O come thou Dayspring, come and cheer

Our spirits by thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel


Since my last post, we lost Steve’s beloved grandfather, a gentle giant of a man who treated his family like we were all some kind of royalty. What a guy. We will miss you, Grandpa. I hope you’re having a Manhattan in heaven right now!

When it came time to decide who would be traveling back to Arizona for the memorial service, it became clear that it really didn’t make sense for the kids and me (22 weeks pregnant! more on that development soon) to pack up and go—such long travel and such a short stay. Also, the family would be preparing Grandpa’s house for sale during the few days they were all together, and two 2-year-olds wouldn’t have been helpful in that process.

I got it. But I didn’t like it. And here’s why:

First, I was sad to miss the opportunity to grieve with the family and to celebrate Grandpa, who had been an incredible patriarch. When we moved to Bahrain in 2003, within practically weeks of arriving, I lost both my remaining Grandparents and was not able to go back for their services, and this brought back those sad memories as well.

But then I felt myself getting angrier and angrier, and even a feeling of desperation started rattling around inside me. I tried to pay attention to what all that was about, though it was mostly—in the moment—about resenting Steve for having freedoms I didn’t feel I had.

Ultimately, I realized how isolated I was feeling. And while we are settling here and we are making this house our home and this place our place, I’m still fragile and vulnerable in all the worst ways. And not getting to be with family, while Steve was getting to, just made the burn worse.

I felt stuck here. If you’ve ever felt stuck, you know what a terrible feeling it is to believe you are trapped and powerless. I panicked a little and mostly took it all out on Steve, which he appreciated I’m sure.

On top of it, I was here with the kids by myself for five days. And, of course, the morning Steve left, the battery in my car died, making me feel that much more vulnerable, that much more trapped, that much more angry. You’d think getting a battery replaced in your car would be a simple matter. As it turns out, nothing is a simple matter in the Middle East.

I’ve learned one thing in my life and that is when feelings as strong as these surface, you’d better pay attention because stuffing them back down will create something intensely toxic.

So I just tried my very best to feel what I was feeling and not try to explain it away or “yeah, but we’re so blessed” it to death or try to manufacture resolution with the “God brought us here” pleasantries or slap a “God has something to teach me right now” on it . . . because doing any of these things prematurely will just backfire.

And I got through it. In the very ugly way that you get through sometimes. Lacking hygiene and cussing under your breath a lot. Eating fast food and sleeping with the lights on.

Still a bit tender and not totally on easy street yet, this morning I heard this song, a song sung to someone mourning in lonely exile, to someone who needs her spirits cheered, a person under gloomy clouds and death’s dark shadow. Someone who need an injection of hope, no matter how humbly it arrives.

And I thought, especially after the tears started streaming down my cheeks, hey maybe that’s me. Maybe that’s all of us.

Emmanuel shall come to thee. The dayspring is here. The darkness disperser. The love. The presence. The company keeper. He is here.


And I cried all the way home. Because something finally entered into that space of pain and relieved it an inch with a balm of love and presence.

So I’m not going to move too quickly, for fear of needing to resolve it all. I’m just going to let myself be kept company because that’s what Christ does for us most of all if we let him.

And if you’re feeling widespread gloom today or there’s just a tiny place inside you that is pricked, I will keep my fingers crossed that you might be able to hear these words:

Emmanuel shall come to thee.