Tuesday, December 4, 2018


Monday morning greeted me far too early with a buzzing phone on my dresser across the room and a bizarre dream I couldn't shake no matter how often I got up to quiet my notifications. A squirrel was biting hard onto my finger and wouldn't let go, and no one would help me despite the fact that mysterious surveillance cameras had been set up in our house. As if Monday on its own wasn't distressing enough.

Olivia came in as I was recovering from my confusion. She was returning some borrowed clothes to my closet and asked it she could wear my new skirt. I love that she does this, and I love that we can wear each other's things. Sometimes I wonder if this means I dress too young, but most times I just don't care anymore. I do want to find that balance between dressing according to my preferences and body type, and dressing normal for my age. I suppose this goes for a lot of things, including behavior and choice of activity. If I'm going to err on one side of the balance, though, I think it's toward free-spiriting it. I've spent far too much of myself and my time pointlessly trying to meet expectation and shoving away myself. Maybe it's more accurate to say that now I want to find the balance between living freely and not appearing mid-life crisis-y!

It has been said that you spend your first forty years trying to become what you've been told you should be, and the next forty years undoing what you became in order to discover who it is you were meant to be all along. Maybe this is true. At least now I'm on the side where freedom grows. What a relief!

Later in the morning Michael and I talked about piercings. He has offered to buy me a tattoo.  (Let me just say I absolutely love this about my relationship with my son.)

After brushing my teeth and getting ready to run Jacob and Andrew to school, I stretched my shoulders and upper back in the door frame and then practiced my handstand. I'm still working on holding it steady; I'd also love to regain long lost flexibility in my spine to hold a pretty backbend. It may take me a while, but I'll get it. Why is this my goal? Because I want the joy of movement and freedom to enjoy life well as long as possible. Also, I love a good challenge.

Sometimes I do grown-up things, too. I do some things I want to do and some things I don't, because loving well requires both. Loving well is sometimes more of a challenge than backbends with scoliosis of the spine.

Truly, my greatest desire is to love well. Simply, to love God and to love others is the pursuit of my life. Learning just to accept who God made others to be and who I am in Him is all a part of this pursuit. Just accepting the gift of people and the gift of relationship - without demand to be what we're not, without resentment, without reservation. Just accepting individuality, feelings, preferences, thoughts, opinions, and so on. I think this acceptance is a huge, huge part of loving well, because acceptance is the opposite of rejection.

Rejection comes in so many forms; it can be veiled in well-intentioned sounding excuses, or cloaked in false spirituality. But rejection is never loving well. No one ever feels loved when they detect rejection. Furthermore, no one can love others well if they are in rejection of their own personhood, who God made them to be. "Love your neighbor as yourself." In this fallen world, this doesn't presuppose that we love ourselves perfectly. Love the way you need to be loved.

Truly loving, freely and wholly, is only in the absence of all rejection, because this is how we are loved by God. We get to just come as we are, over and over again.


Monday ended with a late night walk by the ocean with Michael and Olivia. The night was cool, the beach deserted, and we just walked shoulder-to-shoulder, talking, listening. Mostly I just listened and resisted talking much. I took in the sounds of hopes and dreams, plans, thoughts. I accepted and received, and tried to simply love well.


I've not been great at picking up my camera. It's getting harder to capture life as it is now with a house full of teens. Nearly gone are the days when my camera pointed in the direction of my kids went unnoticed. I'm sympathetic to that, even though I long to continue documenting these wonderful days we are still living.

The following images are from last October.
Homecoming 2018


endless play

 height comparison

my loves

(lump in my throat)

more friends

memorable times


Monday, November 26, 2018

Alien Thanksgiving No More

So this happened. No more Alien Number, no more non-citizen status, no more interviews and border interrogations, no more visas, no more renewing papers, no more wondering what to do if denied.

Jon and I have been granted citizenship.

We celebrated "American Thanksgiving" as actual Americans this year. In typical fashion, we filled our home with brothers and sisters in Christ and created a festive environment, all the while missing the feeling and familiarity of holidays with family. Some fine day I'd sure love for my kids to enjoy a Canadian Thanksgiving with extended family. I am sure, though, that the tradition of celebrating with all sorts of people will become precious to them in years to come.

All six of us have dual citizenship now. Our immigration years with all the hidden ways we have been affected are actually priceless to me. Our status, our limitations, our increased worldview and collection of experiences, our fight to establish ourselves and to create a sense of belonging despite the many ways we didn't belong... these have all added to the fabric of our story.

Being a first generation immigrant is yet another way I am different, and I do like different! But I also really love to belong.

Now I do belong and for this I give thanks.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Behold the Turtle...

 "Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out."

-J.B. Conant

I like quotes. Short ones especially because I can interpret them as I wish. This one seems about right... 

Progress may be slow, but getting outside of our comfort zone is absolutely essential. Pick areas in life where you need to grow, or must grow, and set goals. Stick your neck out. Be vulnerable. 

And move forward.

It may be years before measurable progress can be charted, but progress surely comes. And no one ever regrets progress.

I can't help but add to this (because we all know the allegory): Run your own race. We each run a different course with different capabilities and resources, and one is not better than the other.

Thanksgiving is a time of year I can note measurable progress in my race. I'm getting nearer to attaining some goals I set in my mid-20's. There is still some distance between myself and the goal, but the start line is farther behind. Of course it hasn't been easy, but that's what makes it so satisfying. 

When it come to the setting of goals, I typically think in terms of being vs. doing. However, being and becoming the person I desire will requires action... and a whole lot of uncomfortably sticking out my neck!

Gratefulness for people and for relationship has been brought to the forefront of my mind this Thanksgiving season. Apart from this, I am thankful for the "course," capabilities, and resources he has granted me to nurture those relations.

If the summation of all that is good and right - all that which brings glory to God and joy to man - is to love God with our whole being and to love others as ourselves, then each person's race (life), capabilities, and resources must be oriented to these two loves. All that God grants us to enjoy is for these two pursuits.

May our enjoyment of God's gifts this Thanksgiving be our expression of giving thanks.

{We found this little guys last month at the beach. He's a dry-land tortoise, but he was being swept in and out of the surf after someone apparently dumped him and tried to pass him off as a sea turtle.

The lifeguard said he could call the Animal Control people, but my boys are opportunists. They took him home and enjoyed him for a few weeks; since we weren't interested in raising a tortoise for the next 100 years, my boys sold him on Craig's List for a pretty penny.}


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Notes on Emotional Connectivity

How does it feel when someone is truly invested in your well-being and validates your needs and feelings? How does it feel to be seen?

I've known it with just a few people and it's pretty awesome. I treasure the few that have touched me in this way, those that pause with intention to truly see me, to connect, and know me -- even if I've looked away, fearing to be known.

Empathy: It's an amazing gift to receive and to give.

The subject of emotional connectivity is of huge interest to me. I am intrigued, I want to learn the skill, I desire the experience. By contrast, the topic of emotional neglect has been brought to my attention as well since it stands in stark contrast to connectivity, empathy, and relationship. One builds and nourishes, the other erodes and sickens. Our nearest relationships can be measured on a spectrum, except this spectrum has no center, no neutral. Relationships are never neutral.

I have three little journals here with me tonight, each used for a different collection of notes. Today, however, I noticed a similar theme weaved throughout all three, so I've decided to gather some of those thoughts in a collection here. I hope to do so in somewhat of a cohesive way.

Notes 10/27/2018:

A prayer~ "Lord, give me eyes to see and affirm progress, not perfection. Remove criticism from my lips, and give me a heart of thanksgiving. Open my lips with words of encouragement, and use them to build up and give LIFE."

"The mouth (words) of the righteous is a fountain of LIFE..." Prov. 10:11

"The southing tongue (kind, helpful words) is a tree of LIFE..." Prov.15: 4

"He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty." Job 6: 14

Affirm, encourage, validate, congratulate. Have compassion. Share in another's joy, no matter the subject. Touch, look, give attention, seek to understand.

Notes on emotional neglect:

Over time, neglect causes wounds. These wounds are the result of what is not done (contrasted by abuse, which is something that is done).

Note of urgent reminder: Put down your phone, lest it become a tool to inflict emotional neglect.

Reading notes:

Parents who under-notice, under-value, or under-respond to their children's emotions inadvertently send a powerful message to the child that says, "You don't matter." People who didn't receive emotional validation from their parents in childhood will likely struggle to provide it as parents. If you have emotional blind spots, you'll be blind to other people's emotions as well.

Emotional neglect is a cycle that can be broken with awareness, intentional discipline, and practice.

Summer reading notes, 2017:

Affirmation praises God for the work of the Holy Spirit (fruit) in the lives of believers. Affirmation returns the glory to God and encourages the individual.

True encouragement affirms attributes of God in ALL people made in His image. Therefore, affirmation of people can return praise to God.

Thinking on what is lovely and of good repute in a person helps to develop words that encourage and build up.

To be a source of help and encouragement requires the development of observation. Study those you love, and those you've been given momentary opportunity to love with affirming words.

Notes on creativity and individuality, summer 2017 (in preparation to teach my kids):

God is Creator, and created us in his image; we also create and express creativity and individuality. Because God was so creative in making us each differently, our own individual expressions and appreciation for creativity is going to differ.

So learn to appreciate differences. Don't look down on others for liking and expressing different styles, music, art, fashion, decor, humor, etc.

Don't even give a hint of disapproval for such things as individual preference, but cultivate a heart of appreciation and praise for individuality. No one ever stood out for good/change/innovation/justice... by being like everyone else.

Choose to be inspired and motivated by others, and be FREE to be who God made you to be.

Affirmation and inspiration is the opposite attitude of jealous comparison.

Thoughts on superficial/external affirmation:

As with so many things, we've over-reacted to the self-centered nature of the self-esteem movement. Being anti-self-esteem is not the answer.

For crying out loud, it's OK to say "You are so pretty" to your daughter (or any girl)! The Bible says it as a matter of fact about Sarah, Rachel, and Esther (to name a few). They were simply beautiful women. Same goes for the handsomeness of the boys in our lives. Don't we want the proper expression of femininity and masculinity in our children?! Then affirm it when you see it! Note what is good, what is lovely, commendable! Saying, "Your outfit looks great!" affirms things like thought, order, and creativity. Don't withhold kind words for fear of vanity. Let your people know they are seen by you! Be known for commending rather than critiquing.

Maybe this building of confidence by us will keep them from trying to find it in all the wrong places and through the wrong means later on...?

Obviously, also affirm the things that cannot be "seen" such as:

-how a situation was handled
-discernment/ wisdom
-problem solving
-social skills (ex. humor, politeness, confidence, poise)

Closing thoughts on emotional connectivity:

Do you know what it's like when someone is unable to connect emotionally? Do you feel like you are able to have a meaningful relationship?

No. It's awkward and confusing at best, and likely detrimental.

How about relationship with the Holy Spirit? Is it possible to be in relationship with God and be void of affection and emotion? How can we be aware of him and relate to his indwelling if we don't at least partially relate through feeling?

I frequently ask myself to what extent I am emotionally stunted. Maybe this is peculiar to you, dear reader, or maybe the world is filled with emotional dysfunction. I'm not one to know.

I've loved noting how Jesus was full of uninhibited emotion, and how he beautifully related with the people closest to him. It has been helpful to realize how my relationship with the Lord can be alive with emotion rather than lethargic with only logic. He created us to be emotion-filled people; he has intended for us to experience him and this life he abundantly gives. We cannot fully experience anything through logic and knowledge alone.

I want to learn to feel and to connect deeply; openly and out loud.

(Images 8/2018)

Monday, November 5, 2018


It's warm here in this corner of the world, and not at all like the cold, damp wind my mother described this past weekend, or the frost and sleet I normally associate with November. I've lived in southern California a good long time now, but the warm November temps still catch me off guard. I kinda love this weather, even though I can't figure out how to incorporated fall decor when my backyard rose bushes are producing such lovely pink blossoms. I'm clipping them daily and bringing them in because they are far prettier to me than orange gourds. I should have worn a summer dress today.

Saturday night was unusually foggy, though. I really loved it. It was well into the evening before I was able to head out for my Saturday run. Saturday runs are almost non-negotiable in my mind, but since it was late I had decided on a shorter run than planned. But the ocean spray, dark and misty air, and silent plumes of fog wafting passed me were just too alluring. I kept on running, hardly mindful of the fact that wherever I stopped to turn around would only mark the halfway point. I arrived home all wobbly-legged over two hours later, satisfied. I had chased fitness goals, mental clarity, and peace on a foggy night.

Jon had a fire crackling when I came in. I don't know, but maybe the fog and the fire cast a romantic spell on us; we entirely lost that supposed "extra hour of sleep" of November time change.

Marriage has proven to be hard. We were warned like all couples are warned, and then we learned from experience. We've also learned to persevere, to keep pressing into our relationship. In a rush to get out one evening last week, we had packed a selection of cheese, cured meats, crackers, fruit, and nuts from the kitchen, along with a blanket. Jon sped down the freeway in his GTI like a 19 year-old punk. At age 40 I should be afraid of such driving, but speed really doesn't faze me. We were chasing the sunset, chasing romance. We found our sunset, then later a spot on the crest of the cliff to set up our little dinner under the darkening sky. If you had been watching us, you wouldn't have seen us smiling much. Life isn't like the movies, but it can be so, so sweet nonetheless.

Press into it. Chase after the good stuff with intention and perseverance. And maybe try to kiss a lot.

San Francisco 7/2018


Thursday, October 18, 2018

From My Viewfinder

I stayed up too late last night (again) and I'm paying for it now. Since tonight will likely run late as well, sitting for a moment seems reasonable. Andrew has a writing assignment he wants me to help with; I'm not exactly taking a break as I intermittently focus on the feudal system of the Middle Ages and work on my post. I'm adding a few ocean pictures from the weekend. These pictures are of the water before the rain came.

Yep, we got rain on Friday! At long last! It came complete with lightning and thunder. Jon and I were on a date together, darting from roof cover to roof cover, trying to find a restaurant that could seat us within an hour. Without the outdoor patio space, seating was really limited. My younger boys called from home to tell me about the storm, and Michael texted from a high school football game to say the lightning show was pretty cool. Olivia came home drenched... and smiling. Rain after several months is such a novelty to us.

The ocean is endlessly fascinating to me. I am captivated by its movement, colors, texture, and all the surprising expressions of temperament and mood. Every moment is new; art in motion; vastness and power beyond comprehension. Who can keep from thinking of the Artist, and what he must be like beyond surface comprehension?

A small portion of my running route viewed from the pier~

Saturday I found myself out on the pier once more, but this time I took pictures of birds. I had my 50mm prime lens, so these images were taken from very close range (less than 2 ft. at times).

It's interesting how much can be seen through a small camera viewfinder. Through a little peephole, we can see vast landscapes, for example, or intricate details of an insect. In comparison, my ability to see the whole picture of reality is extremely limited, but with intent to understand there is still so much to be seen and understood through the means God grants us. He gives us viewfinders by which to see reality.

What matters most in my understanding, though, is grasping the fact that the Artist of my soul and the Writer of my story has unlimited sight and knowledge, and he creates with eternity in view. Amazing.

Breaktime over.


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