The Genesis of Trauma {an awareness and outworking}

When my body began showing deeper marks of the fall, I was perplexed by the working of the Godhead within such a broken body, mind included—anthropology, biology, and theology existing together, if you will. I was also curious to see how this part of my story was being grafted into the larger story God is writing in the lives of those He loves in redemptive narrative. When there is a lot of turmoil, it always helps to back up. So I went way, way back. I went back to the garden, back to Genesis, and was further humbled at the mercies in both life and death and the way these fundamental processes are spoken of in scripture. Their existential out-workings near, I began to see saint – sinner, Law – Gospel parallels. I am going to spend some time laying some foundations before moving forward. 

We are complicated beings and these are difficult things to talk about, but in an attempt to “know thyself” and know {more of} God, I hope to take it slowly and attempt, not fully aware, yet sure hope-filled steps. I would like to ask, friend, that you hang in there with me. We have to be made aware of darkness before we are moved toward the light. 

Life and Death in Scriptures 

The world is made and deemed good by the Word. Everything was alive and thriving. Man is created. More specifically, man and woman are created in the image of the Trinity, called very good, and given instruction and dominion over creation. Given the description of the setting, senses are used to experience the Glory of God from the very beginning; the visual of the garden, the implicit smell of all things lush and fragrant, the earth beneath their feet, with the sounds of rivers and all the animals accompanying God and these first humans, walking together. Then out of the trees, pleasant to sight, adorning the landscape, and good for food, two are differentiated with particular purposes. The first tree, the Tree of Life, offers perpetual walking with the Lord in the garden and is not prohibited. Then, there is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It offers a consciousness of what lies beyond the garden, exclusive then to the Universe-Maker and celestial beings. Death did not exist. What a peaceful dwelling it must have been. 

Because every other being is created and not Creator, an expectation is given. The authority is His, and doesn’t belong to the creatures. God, the Designer, Creator, Sustainer must be obeyed. The first law, not eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is given to man. To go beyond the boundary requires a complete break in submission to God’s authority and falls away from His perfect will. After Eve joins Adam, he is given the task of naming the animals. When he does not find another being suitable for sharing his life, God gives him one. It is implied that man communicates to woman the call to obey God. 

But they don’t. They eat and are immediately ashamed. They both knew they had done wrong and knew there was something now inherently wrong. 

The terrible lie is believed by the first two human beings, who, in their desire to be their own god, didn’t trust the way He created the world to work. We, in our fallen flesh  as descendants of Adam and Eve follow suit. We want to be God, autonomous, holding the knowledge of good and evil in our hands without it changing or affecting us. But we were never meant hold it. We were never meant to taste that fruit—the fruit of having knowledge only God can rightly deal. Try as we might, creatures cannot assume the place of the Omniscient, Omnipotent Creator. The realization changed us as a people. 

The consequence is both a curse and a mercy. There are different effects felt from the fall on the man and woman. The removal from safety, provision, and peace to danger, toil, and distress was surely traumatic for them both. I don’t use the word trauma lightly. I hope it speaks loudly to better appreciate perfect security turned full enmity—enmity with God, with each other, and with creation—even with their own created bodies. In light of this desire, the most feared, shared destiny sinks down into their souls “for you are dust, and to dust you will return”. 

Adam and Eve are exiled from the garden and away from the Tree of Life, for to disallow perpetual dwelling in fallen flesh is mercy. I cannot imagine going from paradise to the prison of a wild world. There is no going back. 

Now, bodily death is inevitable and necessary. It is brutal. It is ugly, perpetuated in every story from the very first family. It threatens. It lurks. Man kills man with mere years from the fall within the very first family. Perversion from creation and intention is not far behind. Animals kill man and so do famine, disease, and pestilence. Plants die. Animals die. They are killed for protection and for food. They kill one another. To trace death in scripture is to simply read scripture. All of creation is subjugated to it. It is the punishment for all lives lived under the curse. It infiltrates everything— from macro-systems to micro-cells. Sickness, aging, hunger pains, genetic variation, and beyond, as I can’t even imagine all the implications are just the beginning of what this means for humanity. 

I wonder what it felt like to have a body sustained to a body sick? I wonder how the first marital argument went for the first couple? I wonder how it felt to have everything provided to having to toil to eat? From being safe to becoming suspicious of the other creatures around you? The questions swirl. The answers aren’t pleasant, especially as we trace humanity from that point onward. 

Mercies New from Then On

At some point, God instilled in human beings self-preservation, for who would desire to live in this fallen state? Peace has been replaced by all kinds of sufferings both physical, relational, spiritual, and emotional. There are new laws in place as well as new processes and consequences. With all that we know now about how our physical brains change as a result of trauma and stress, it would have been fascinating to study a scan Adam or Eve’s brain and measure brain function pre- and post-fall. 

Since the fall, our desire to preserve ourselves is regulated by pain and fear. Death bring pain and fear and we are designed post-fall to avoid it. Yet, it is unavoidable. These new sufferings are also gifts, the kind that makes one wise and compassionate, and are instilled to sustain. To deny our created, finitude-instilling sense that we protect ourselves at all costs from dying is denying our very humanity. 

As with all good, created gifts, this mechanism goes awry. It is tragic when self-preservation is suppressed for whatever reason. The wake is devastating. And on the other hand, just like autoimmune reactions attack good cells, our bodies can be convinced that danger is emanant. Most times, the reaction is trauma induced, stemming from a time when a threat was very much a reality. Our brains shift to defend, to induce a response again regulated by pain and fear. 

~ This was what was going on behind the scenes of my first panic attack. ~

All of this sounds completely dreadful doesn’t it? We are told something in scripture that in contrast, brings hope. Take a minute and read the verses from 2 Corinthians 4 of the Welcome page. 

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (v. 16-18)

Because I am fallen with Adam and Eve, my flesh has been given the gift of self-preservation. It is a good gift. Yet, the continual renewal of my soul is worked through death -and- resurrection. The Law in particular brings death—a ministry of death as 2 Corinthians 3 says. My soul panics in response, because panic is what my flesh knows. It is protective. It is defensive. Yet, soul-self-preservation is precisely the opposite of what I eternally, fully, wholly need. I cannot save and preserve my own soul. 

This is the body the Holy Spirit chooses to dwell—the body subjected to sin. 

My body and soul are integrated here, in this space post-fall, pre-redemption, before body and soul are whole. And it feels like warfare. But despite the conflict, God promises life

Redeemed in Panic

It was the middle of the night several years ago, yet the memory is strong even today. I awoke suddenly, not by something external, jarred from within. In a few seconds, I was convinced, by heavy breathing, tightness in my chest, nausea in my gut, fogginess in my mind, and the echo in my ears there was something terribly wrong. I couldn’t breathe. I felt wholly threatened by something. I moved from my bed down on the floor and put my feet up on the edge of the mattress. I had to get a rush of blood to my head before I lost consciousness. I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but I was sure whatever it was, it was terrible. I thought I was dying.

“I have to get to the hospital,” I frantically told my husband as he peered down at me troubled and confused.

A quick car ride later, I trembled violently as I walked up to reception. I don’t remember what I told the gal who greeted me at the Emergency Department but I must have made it clear that I had to be seen by a doctor and fast.

After an array of exams and tests, the conclusion made by the doctor, a man seasoned in his career who spoke very decidedly, was that I had experienced— not any of the diagnosis I was expecting appropriate for such dramatic symptoms— was a panic attack.

The news was completely unexpected. It hadn’t even entered my mind that this was even a possibility. And I felt embarrassed. I would like to believe that I am sympathetic to the fragility of human mental capacity. I know first-hand how easily persuaded the human brain can be to adjust to negative stimuli. I have empathized with many others who have suffered various breakdowns. For years, I had thought through the implications of different perspectives and movements within Counseling and Christian Psychology and, while I have attempted to move toward a more holistic view of the fallen soul nature and fallen biology of man, my prejudices somehow remained intact when it came to me. Even as a person who claims to be well-versed in frailty with reasonably low view of our human anthropology, I had the realization that I never thought I would experience such an event. I had much trouble being so kind to myself as to allow compassion to assuage my embarrassment. Panic attacks seemed reasonable for anyone given the right set of circumstances, yet I supposed I believed I was somehow immune. Yet, printed on the discharge paperwork— my discharge paperwork— was the confirmation. I didn’t need the kind of medical intervention I had thought, perhaps a heart catheterization or treatment for a blood clot. I needed an anti-anxiety medication and some coping skills with long-term therapy.

I want to back up just a little. The point at which this event happened was relentless and difficult. Within a few months, I had been anesthetized multiple times. I don’t know about you, but having someone put me to sleep and cut my body open in some way or another is utterly terrifying. I am naturally a calculated, involved person and relinquishing control to this degree is just about as scary as scary can be. It took all willpower to move my legs and feet to walk into the surgery center over and over again. I hated it. Yet it was what I needed. My body, in order to be well—or at least better, had to be broken and repaired over and over again.

The breaking broke me down. And this was my body’s response. This was my mind’s response. I felt threatened beyond mental capacity.

A few years later, another set of circumstances, panic happened again. And then again. Body takes over and fight, flight, or freeze ensues. Again, jarring. Again, embarrassment. Again, coming far enough out of the thick of it to grow in acceptance and arm myself with some kind of negotiation. Over the past several years and even recently, I have come to realize that the body does keep the score (ref:  The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk) and this will be a part of who I am—a person affected by traumas that shapes part of the story God is writing in me.

At some point, I was introduced to the remedies that has helped the most. First, I have learned acceptance and anticipation. Being mindful and learning to listen to my body, leaning in to feel my humanness, has lessened anxiety. This mindfulness coupled with learning a coping mechanism that utilizes senses to ground the brain in reality and decrease the self-preservation response has helped me cope (Hint:  this is important. It sounds quite sacramental, doesn’t it?). Self-care has been a must. I am not divine.

I have learned through the years that the same processes that are at work in my flesh are paralleled in my soul. I see it over and over again. Until my flesh completely fails, self-preservation, the very God-given process that lends itself to do just that—self-preserve—Is something my spirit mimics. Though this is true, I am not called to save or preserve my own soul. I cannot do it. In the same way that I ground myself in the truths around me physically, I also have a strategy for negotiating soul panic. And the best part, what is born of being open to this process gives space for seeing the hope of resurrection.

This is the whole reason for writing in this season. I hope to work through this—first on the whole, and then share the way this has manifested itself in different areas of life. In the same vein, I hope to offer thoughts that shape expectations for living in the hope of resurrection without circumventing or denying the crosses we still carry here. I hope you will join me!


Forward by Forgiveness


When we first moved into this home, I forwent the traditional bushes and chose perennials for the bed below my front porch. I wanted lots of color and variation. Some plants have done well and some have not. The hostas I was sure would grow, just were not (all) happy there. Things that looked pretty ratty have thrived. The red, clay soil may be to blame or maybe the shade. To those of us with a serendipitous gardening style, there is more trial and error than green-thumb at play.

I did have a person good at such things help a few years ago. I requested peonies because I find their blooms just divine. He planted them in a few places— a few in the front and in the back.

The plants started very small, so straggly-looking in fact that they could be mistaken for weeds. This happened once. One of my little daughters, trying to help, pulled and broke it right at the root. My response was swift and sharp and it broke her heart. It left a wound-er/wound-ed memory for us both. Those woulds have necessitated a few returns to this event for healing.

During winter it seemed gone. When frost graced the ground, you’d have to search in the cold mulch for a trace of it. Then this past spring came, and something magical happened. Not only was my peony visible, it was suddenly a foot taller than last year with multiple stems. It was beginning to look stout and to my elation, had beautiful buds.

The life of my peony has paralleled my internal life and in some ways, the life of my family, over the past year. While months have passed, it has been more winter than other seasons. I guess I could say that it felt like something snapped– or at least we have been keenly aware that we have been living in the aftermath of something having been broken. I have wondered if any good could come from the breaking.

Bringing a child with a tough history into a new family is hard. I have spent months assessing, coming to terms, assessing again, trying again, in an attempt to see her clearly and how to love her. While it has been the catalyst for lots of half-controlled chaos, there is more. At the same time, I entered the parenting-teens years. Might I define these years as a beautiful, encouraged push for independence yet simultaneous marked stupidity? I think that is mostly accurate. In this radically-technological age, the stressors are heightened and seem to have long-term unknown consequences. Every new advance births opportunities for parent/technology-aware-child negotiation. I have said to my eldest several times, we are the first generation to see the effects of the screens everywhere way of life. Then, I have children in between. I have been teaching them to read. Lord help.

Then, there is the continual realizing the depths of my own brokenness as it relates to each child. I keep thinking, even revisiting my last blog, that I have surely plunged the depths of it all! Yet, that was only the tip of the iceberg. It doesn’t only come with a new addition. It comes in everyone else over and over again as they respond and simultaneously grow and change. It comes as they engage culture, their own universally-shared anthropology, and unique-to-their-own-personalities angst. Their brokenness exposes mine. It pours out of them in developmentally appropriate ways, gaining sophistication as they relate stage to stage. Like colts, stumbling, testing, finding resources (I hope), failing, testing again, they move. Then they get stronger and move faster! Their brokenness is bold. My brokenness teaches them things I wish they did not know. Mine is seasoned and hidden beneath years of defenses. These things play off one another. We don’t move past it. We go through together.

I wish I could say that my preparation has kept me going. God knows I have read more parenting books, articles, and information over the course of it all. Some of it helped for sure. There are just some things you don’t know until you know. Life in the horizontal has been many times serendipitous like my gardening. Some of it I regret has mimicked my sharp reaction to the mistaking of a plant for a weed– hurtful to everyone. Some of it has been helpful and for those things, I am thankful.

If you were to pin me down on what has kept this whole thing going– the thing that I have needed most– the thing that has even allowed this reflection– has been forgiveness. We apologize a lot. It is the thing most abhorred by those (including myself) who don’t want to be told they need it because that would mean not doing something right, yet it is the place abundant in safety, grace, and acceptance of the most life-giving kind. It mends.

We all share in the realizations. We all sin against each other. We all are sinned against. We all suffer the brokenness of things totally beyond our control. And we all find hope in the place it remains regardless of the season.

In Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren describes repentance, where forgiveness is realized, in the life of believers:

Repentance is not usually a moment wrought in high drama. It is the steady drumbeat of a life in Christ and, therefore, a day in Christ. 

Our failures and successes in the Christian life are not what define us or determine our worth before god or God’s people. Instead, we are defined by Christ’s work on our behalf. We kneel. We humble ourselves together. We admit the truth. We confess and repent, Together, we practice the posture that we embrace each day– that of a broken and needy people who receive abundant mercy. 

Being forgiven mends, however, the repair is only a shadow of being made whole again. I cannot emphasize more the sustaining grace (vertical) that makes the practice (horizontal) of other things I do possible. Absolutely none of this could be accomplished without the safety found in the Gospel. None of it. It would be too terrifying, too impossible, too brutal, too condemning. Repentance gives way to absolution that reflects resurrection.

Just a side note, I love talking through the horizontal things; which strategies have been helpful when and thinking through parenting of children in all the stages. But those conversations for me are most often best over cups of coffee where nuances are better allowed. There are overarching principles, but many many ways they can play out. The truth is, we don’t make our kids do anything. It is not our job to figure out what works to make them into our own image. It is our job to love them, give them the Word, then lead them to Him.

Just like my peony, life is so quickly and easily broken– yet it is so painfully and slowly repaired. Sometimes the breaking comes from things done to me and sometimes I do it myself. After the broken comes an entire season of realization. It takes time. It takes brutal honesty, “admitting the truth” as Warren affirms. It takes awareness. It takes education –which never seems to be in short supply. And it takes an everyday reorientation to my life in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

His life works out in me. It is in the soil; where roots are steadied in the Gospel. It is the rain; the blood of Christ, given for me. It is the food; the body of Christ, broken for me. It is in the pruning and breaking; the Law meeting me everyday. It is the sun; the hope of God, faithful and sure, converting resources and maintaining energy. And all of it woven in environment is the grace of God, gifted to me by faith.

There is something powerful in seeing the need for forgiveness and realizing it is provided. For me and the daughter I hurt, it has been the way forward. And God knows, it will continue to be the way forward when all our best plans are found failing.

For the things done to us, it is also the way forward. The cross substantiates the harm done and justice provided. Knowing the same grace provided to me is provided to all in Christ brings the only hope at lasting peace.

Even when human forgiveness falls severely short, absolution from the One in whom wholeness dwells never fails. So if you ask me how we are doing, I will say most assuredly, we are held in Christ. I dare not dig myself up to check the roots (although I sure try once in a while). I can’t even say if we have blooms! I continue to pray, Lord I believe, help my unbelief. My head is lifted, drawn to the sun– drawn to the Son– because He is our only hope and the forgiveness He offers has been the savior of the season.


Time to Write Again

I felt everything grinding to a halt. Especially the creativity and the ability to move from thought to page without great effort. For the past several months, the inconsolable, bound-to-pour-out-onto-something part of me nestled into a section of my soul reserved for another season, another time. It hasn’t been without attending, but the functional, do-only-what-is-necessary part of me kept it quiet while the hourglass sand poured on, seemingly very slowly. I have missed the part of myself that breathes so freely though. I have tried to make peace with it, and in retrospect, physical exhaustion made peace all the more possible;)

I have needed what only adequate time can give. I have needed moments to drink deeply the well dug for our family– our new family, completely intact. And to assess, without publically processing.

Finally sensing some open space to type, I realized just moments ago that I have troubled through the past several months trying to be honest with myself. As a person who tries to move toward truth, praying grace and mercy live there too, I have needed time to even begin to head in that direction. If I haven’t been able to be honest with myself, I suppose it has been darn near impossible to be honest with anyone else.

Maybe some of that will change today? In a moment of some kind of bravery, I decided to start writing again. Here goes.

Well, just another thought first. I am well aware that I write a lot about my children. And in that vein, I am creating for them an online/in-print story that may have some affect later on. I am constantly thinking through this and want to be kind and careful. There are their stories and there is mine. The two are connected— yet I do try to disconnect mine and address it with as little known implication on their future selves as possible (who even knows what this might mean anymore?). I may do well and other times, not so well. However, I am aware and I do try. My main desire is to connect with others who, first and foremost, are people who have an awareness that the Gospel is taking hold of them. I am on this road praying I see signs of the vertical Word coming down to me in the finished work of Jesus, staying near by the attending of the Spirit. Secondarily, I wish to connect with others horizontally in shared experience, pressing in to all that is good and all that is hard this side of eternity.

That said, I will give this a go again.

When our last little one came to be with us, there was a lot we knew. We prepared and prepared. I remember that God-forsaken adoption form— the one that identifies the needs of the child you are willing to love and call by your name. That form is terrible. I get it though. I do remember filling it out, trying to come to terms with my own limitations, praying in advance for the child on the other side of all those checkboxes. Micah and I both did. You never really know– just like waiting during gestation– how the boxes will take shape in a real, living, complex human being. This whole person is a soul adoptive parents seek to know as best they can, even though they may have had years apart.

I know Micah and I expected something to be hard. I know I have mentioned this before- but just as in everything, there are varying degrees. I don’t think anyone can be prepared for the day-in/day-out and how it affects everyone else. Its kind of like having a seasoned mother explain sleep deprivation to a first-time mom. It can be well articulated, yet falls short the first time she brushes her teeth with hemorrhoid cream or feels the cloud descend on her every thought due to no stretch of real rest over 1-2 hours for weeks (sometimes months) on end.

The prepared-for things have been okay. There is always— always— a measure of brokenness that must be attended that is unknown. It should be expected. As I have said before and will well maintain, adoption comes from brokenness. It begins with brokenness and it exposes it in everyone involved, even and especially in the lives of those called to press in. It requires measures of self-awareness that take the forms of moments of confrontation, assessment, explanation or resignation, and adjusted expectations. I consider the scars on her little body as an example. As I run my finger tips over them, I wonder, How did this happen? I contemplate the possibilities. Then I realize, I will never really know. This brings me to consider the way this scar has changed her, and the consideration of it changes me. It is easier to assess external scars. The internal ones are much more complicated. Some of them are tucked away under layers of defenses. It takes ~again~ time.

When I first heard of our little girl, I knew she was my child. Her needs made sense to me. And honestly, she and I together have seen our way through many moments in learning to love one another. And like all parent/child relationships, we have learned how we don’t always do it so well. It has taken longer, much longer, to discern what I don’t know, how it affects her, and (most importantly) what to do about it. Again, confrontation, assessment, explanation, and adjusted expectations.

The biggest example of this and what we are still working through is Tallie’s initial diagnosis. She has microcephaly, although not the “garden variety” as we have been advised. In many ways, you’d never know it. She is verbal. She is potty-trained. She understands so much of what we are saying. Yet, she has real limitations. It has taken a long time to try and wrap our heads around what she is able to do and what she is not and why. Her doctors cannot give us a prognosis for her. They are astounded at what she has proved capable. Since she does what is unexpected, there isn’t any way to project what is to be expected. Each stage of development is a mystery. I love a good, God-granted anomaly. It is also a challenge.

While her needs are important, I don’t want them to define who she is. They are a part of who she is, and parts I want to honor. She is a whole person, both/and, just like us all. She is made in the image of God. She is my daughter. She is so much more than a diagnosis or her abilities. She is a little ray of light, pointing to the Father of Lights who gave her life and has sustained it.

I have also been learning about her created gifts, favorites, and loves and she, ours. We learn the way we tick and work together in created cooperation. Empathy has offered healing and loving correction has led the way to trust. Praise God he grants us some complementary giftings as well as steady opportunities for apologies and forgiveness that equip us for each new day.

Then, there are her siblings. Adoption is a shared experience for every member of a family and mine is no different. Each one of my children has led me at different times and in different ways in loving Tallie. Her sisters are so sweet to her. At the same time, it has taken adjustment for everyone and spaces to process. And my attending to each of them and being aware of their needs has been paramount. Yet, this has brought me to my own limitations. There are certain things I keep having to learn to leave to the Lord. I cannot be who He is for each of them. And only He knows the stories He is writing in their lives.

In a day when strategies to thrive vs. survive is all over my news feed, I can tell you with heaven-pointing, teary eyes that we are surviving. And I am thankful. Forget the over-realized eschatology of the self-declared thrivers! The truth is, the past several months have been really hard and they have really been good. The truth in accepting the hard makes the hope of the good (both temporarily/imperfectly and eternally/perfectly) all the more profound. In the recent past and ahead on the horizon, there are days when deep joy bubbles over. Usually, those happen with our new one around dance parties, cake, noodles, or the communication of a new thought. I have had to be more patient than ever, more prepared for anything, more organized, more proactive, and more kind to myself. It has been good to remember where we were months ago and enjoy the blessings of today.

And it is very good for me be reminded of the hope of heaven, where the broken is not merely mended, but completely remade, and adjust my expectations toward the trouble of this world. I just cannot — cannot — hear enough that the same Gospel God brought into my view through adoption, considering my own separation from my Father and His work to reconcile me in relationship with Him that is completely based on the work of His Son, is the same today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Neither my failures or successes as a mother will compromise His affection for me. That’s a tough one to believe on the hard days and easy to forget on the good ones! The same is true for each of the Childs children. In a world where there are thousands of ways our relationships break apart, praise God for a Savior never forsakes and who steadily speaks the promise of resurrection and eternal, familial, holy-connected peace. I am thankful that in this family, there are reminders {as heaven breaks through} behind the eyes of my children.



When Rest Finds {you}

Do you know the most fulfilling moment I have had between me and my newest little one? You might guess that it was when she pointed to me and affirmed “mama“. Maybe when she first said “my love you.” Maybe it was when I had been away for a couple of days and returned home to her enormous, crescent-moon-eyed smile and shrill screams of excitement. Those things are precious to me, like jewels.

Those things tenderly noted, the most profound, fulfilling, moment ~hands down~ I will always remember in these early days is when I looked back in the van and saw my girl asleep. We had been out and about that day and in the middle of all the activity, she gave up her no-nap policy, closed her beautiful eyes and slept. Then again, voluntarily, a few days later at home~


There is a lot of hard mixed in. As I have written before and will say again, adoption is a result of brokenness– the kind of brokenness that affects the way a brain is wired. It can, and many times does, cause defensiveness and insecurity that might follow for a lifetime.  It makes complete sense that would be the case. It would be unkind for me to assume otherwise.

For weeks she had been testing me. She wasn’t sure what to think of this arrangement. All of her faculties had been telling her that she needed to make sure nothing was going to fall apart. She thought she needed to prove her worth half of the time and the other half, wanted to see what I would do if all of her brokenness spilled out in all the worst ways. She needed to measure my response and know, with as many senses engaged as possible, I would always be there– Micah too. Sleep was not her friend in this endeavor. Anything could happen during the dreaming hours. If she wasn’t holding this all together, who was?

But this child of mine, she laid it all down– the control, the anxiety, the fear, the uncertainty, the illusion of need for panic– and my little one rested. What an honor to be privy to such a sacred, healing, space.

This child. She teaches me so much about the way I am loved. Not because I am particularly good at loving, but because I so identify with her struggle. It is easy to say, “Jesus loves me.” It is much harder to believe it when I am experiencing all the things she doesn’t have the sophistication to hide. We all carry varying degrees of the same struggles.

There is something beautiful and holy about true rest– even aside from the pursuit of it. It is a part of self-forgetfulness (T. Keller) only grace gives. When it just happens, whether it is because we reach the end of ourselves or because it is so contrary to the way that everything else works in the world, it evokes a peace that is beyond what I may find the words to describe. What I can do, is point to its shadow and appreciate, rejoice even, its presence. I know that behind the presence is a Person- three to be precise.

You could take a thousand of my struggles and sins and line them up. You could name them for which lines they cross. But this is sure of each one: every visible and invisible sinner-side of me is barred with temporary, “I am His, I can rest” amnesia. My problem is not finding and remembering all the ways my relationship with Him should go sideways. It is remembering that He remembers my sins no more and has done everything— everything— to make me His.

My soul finds rest in God alone. My salvation comes from Him. Psalm 62

I imagine that, after all has been done for Him to say, “You are Mine”, coming to the end of control, fear, anxiety, reasoning, and trying so hard to make sure it doesn’t all fall apart then finding rest in the comfort of His work, His peace, His mercy, and His grace gives Him a glory due my Abba, Father, by the work of His Son, and in the abiding of the Spirit. Lord I believe, help my unbelief.

Does Anyone Understand?

This is a third installment of a blog series that has taken a back burner as my life has been largely occupied by new little girl. To catch us both up, here are the links for the previous blogs:

Our Relational, Triune God

Who Am I?


I found a meme a couple of years ago and it immediately resonated with me.

I have seen this in a few different places. Many people have used her as a way to express the way they feel having a particular illness or in an effort to explain their experience living in a unique situation or circumstance, running the gamut from acquiring Lyme Disease, facing depression, or living with Sensory Processing Disorders, just to name a few. While the reason she resonates differs, she speaks to many folks the same way. I feel like I could be this woman too, with the lightning and the coffee and the well-expressed play-on-verse. I feel her isolation and underneath, her desire to connect but feeling more and more disconnected. These are serious feelings that can lead down some dark paths. I think of my news feed lately, discussions of depression and suicide in every circle. I understand those things are not cured with better Theology. Sometimes our physical needs must be attended first. At the same time, we need connection. We were made for it.

A few years ago, I was invited to join a facebook group for those who have some connection to embryo adoption. It was a rather small group to begin with but after a couple of years, it branched off in a few different directions. Even a small group of people bound by a similar path still find areas of disconnectedness and dissimilarity. Even within the branches, one may or may not still feel like it is an exact fit. We reach out for someone to listen, even through the written word with accompanying emoji, and hope anyone will catch the inflection in our voices that underscore the deep, emotive power of our experiences.

Our lives are varied and unless we believe someone sees us clearly, our experiences can isolate us. But something sacred happens when another human being enters into another’s experience enough to empathize. More immediate bonds are formed when we find others who have the ability to sympathize with us. I know there have been times a writer or speaker will say something that connects me with them in a way that makes me believe we speak the same language— a language not everyone understands. Almost always, there is something unique or some variation of thought in the way we process things that arise.

But this is what we all want. This is what I ask for as I try to explain my thoughts, feelings, and desires in a way that begs to be understood. This is what I want when I employ my understanding of words, usage, and grammar (sometimes poor grammar) to write honest descriptions. And this is what causes me angst when my attempts at being understood are met with indifference, apathy, or judgement. Surely, if only I could speak with more clarity, I would be heard. If only I could describe my feelings and thoughts in a way that the hearer had a visceral understanding, you and I could form a bond and truly see each other.

When life experience affects me deeply, I ask the big questions, whether or not I am aware. There is a question underneath the desire to be seen and heard that my soul speaks. If distilled down to a core level, I ask, “Does anyone understand what I am going through?” or more specifically and importantly, “Does anyone understand me?”. Could it be that God, in His wisdom, not only sent Jesus to seek and save the lost, which attends my greatest need, but in tenderness came to live as man so that at the appointed time, after “it is finished” and “ascension”, He sat down at the right hand of God the Father so that He may always live to intercede for me— every moment of my day. Could it be that He pleads wholly, body and blood, as God Incarnate, Emmanuel, Substitute, and Sympathizer?

In Trinity, Christ Jesus just might answer in a way that has the capability to speak to those core questions. Could , “Does anyone understand?” be met with a balm-for-the-soul, “I do”?

The Person who relates to my question with perfect sympathy and empathy, omniscience and personal experience is Jesus Christ. There are so many functions of the incarnation. Upon Him is the crux of salvation in his life, death, and resurrection. But among those holy rites are very human ones. Kelly Kapic has an excellent chapter in his book, Embodied Hope which looks at Colossians 2:9 through the lenses of Athanasius and Warfield, exploring the emotional life of Savior of the World. It is beautiful. We often think of Jesus in His big moments, doing all to fulfill the big laws, accomplishing all we should do and doing nothing we shouldn’t. We think of His big decisions, His preaching, teaching, discipling, providing, and healing. Among the big moments were many small ones. Was there down time in the life of the Savior of the World? Well, it would be true that all of His time here was completely and perfectly good, even the ways He negotiated every in-between moment in His ministry. He fulfilled the Law for us, savingly as a substitute but also sympathetically. He didn’t fail to take every moment captive in service to His mission when others were watching and did not fail to continue even when they weren’t. His life, every minute, was poured out, measured to meet us in our every need.

There is a record of his humanity recorded in the gospels*. Jesus developed in utero and was born. He was circumcised. He increased in wisdom and stature as His body grew and brain developed. He learned to walk, to eat, to jump. He was baptized and felt the water wash over Him. He was led by the Spirit. He was hungry, tempted, and physically needed the ministry of angels. He negotiated complicated circumstances to stay the course of His mission on earth. He listened and asked questions. He used words and language to preach and draw people to Himself, the Living Word. He was famous and popular among people and built a reputation. When He healed others, He used hands which He created first for Adam. He looked down and experienced the skin He designed for man for Himself. He submitted to their limitations in His humanity, yet they bore the power to help and heal in His divinity. One hand grasped the hand of Peter in the water, his very physical feet rested on the surface of the waves. He mixed and placed mud on the eyes of the blind. He broke the bread and served the wine.  He tenderly held the feet of His disciples and washed them. He marveled at those who came to Him. He reclined and ate. He gave counsel. He felt compassion– in fact, He was moved with it over and over again.

Kapic says, “Jesus was no stoic.” And I wholeheartedly agree.

Could it be that His face is not neutral? That He expresses emotions with us as He prays for us? With His own blood, He addresses our biggest needs and with His never-ending petitions, doesn’t fail to remember our smallest.

So what isolates me these days? What makes me ask, “Does anyone understand?” Well, learning to parent six children has —in the same day— had me both laughing in stitches and wanting to curl up in the fetal position. Our family life has needed to be entirely renegotiated. Adoption is beautiful and so, so hard. Our church has been undergoing some pretty difficult stuff. Some of my adult relationships have changed. I am continuing to hear, “at your age…” from medical personnel. I have visited various docs way more than I would like so far this year. There may be a facebook group for those things— but could it be that in the Trinity, I might find a relationship more satisfying?

When I feel grief, the kind that rips my soul open, makes my gut seize, and elicits the kind of cry that makes my head hurt, Jesus has wept.

When I feel deep joy, those awarenesses only experience brings to the most simple and profound things, causing my smiling eyes to well up and face beam as the center of my chest threatens to burst, Jesus created this response and felt this too.

When things are so complicated that feelings and thoughts, desires and choices make my mind spin, Jesus negotiated tough situations in a way that always put the work given Him by the Father first. His priorities were never compromised and capacity to love never undermined by His mission.

He knew the feeling of torn skin and broken bones, of lethargy and sweat, hunger and thirst. When my body breaks, aches, and hurts, He has felt those things.

He was misunderstood, misjudged, the subject of gossip and lies. When I am a target of speculation and judgement, He knows what that feels like, too.

When I am in situation of suspense and I feel completely nauseated or my mind is fatigued to the point of mental exhaustion, He knows.

He felt all of these things, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). He lived without the poison that makes me forget His righteousness for me and praise my own accomplishment ~or~ momentarily, fear, despair, and forget to hope.

The words spoken to the Father on my behalf are uttered out of the lips of a Holy Savior using real breath from once breathless, now transfigured lungs. If I meditate on this long enough to fill in the space between biblical inspiration and my experience, I imagine He explains how it feels to live under the weight of sin in a world groaning for redemption. He is the fulfillment of weeping with those who weep, rejoicing with those who rejoice, and all that is between.

Jesus Christ did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but took the form of a servant (Phil. 2:5-7), so that He could do what I cannot. My life doesn’t need a makeover. I don’t just need some help. I need a substitute— for all of it. I need a Savior who lived an obedient life that honors God in all ways in all things— a life that fulfills the Law and silences it. I must have the sin-penalty paid— death and sacrifice to satisfy the wrath of God. I have to have someone who is an advocate for me who defeated death so that I may have the eternal hope of heaven. Yet, in the way God ordained my need to be met with His work, I have a Savior who is also is my Sympathizer.

It is hard to believe that anyone could do and be all of those things. Lord I believe, help my unbelief. Learning more of this Savior and Sympathizer with others in community is a gift and a connection worth preserving.

Jesus was eager to return to the Father at His ascension. He was also eager for us to receive the Comforter. I have more questions. Could it be that in the Persons of the Trinity, there are more answers?



*Ref. Matthew 2:1; 3:16; 4:1,2,12; 4:24; 5:1-7:28; 8:3,10; 9:36; 11:16, 21; 14:14; 15:32 – just to name a few.




Many Questions {and then a beautiful answer}

Back in January, I started hearing that things weren’t moving as we had hoped. We knew from the beginning that adopting from Haiti could be a very long process. Maybe I misunderstood. Maybe things slowed down. Maybe I am just beginning to feel my age. Maybe I am coming to terms with the ages of the children around here who are growing at easily noticeable rates. Whatever the catalyst, we knew something was off. We asked some questions and the information we received made us believe it would take even longer. As we looked again at the timeline and studied the shortest and longest possible scenarios, Micah and I knew something was going to have to change. Knowing that we still felt called to adopt, we began exploring what that change could be.

After looking toward other options, we learned we could adopt from Asia. The timeline seemed more feasible. We began getting used to the idea and at the same time, began grieving the loss of what we hoped for in Haiti. After a couple of near matches, I wasn’t sure where things were going.

Then, I got a phone call. Apparently, the reason all the maybes began to pile up, questions swirl, and unsettled thoughts and feelings rushed in at just the right time was because our child was here. There was a little girl originally from Asia, already living in the United States, who might be a fit for our family. Honestly, we knew she belonged here from that first conversation. It wasn’t a question of how but of when.

Within just a few weeks, everything was in motion. The more we learned about her, the more we realized her life was being born into our lives. Everything has happened so fast. The Lord has been before us all the way. I have no other explanation for the way so many details have come together. Bedrooms were moved around, books read in preparation, pertinent, appropriate conversations were had among friends and advisors, shopping was done— all in the service of making us and our home available and ready for this little girl— and all of it in a time frame that, looking back, almost seems impossible. Then, we received an incredible placement timeline that moved her from the state she resided in to ours. The hard work of our agency and the blessing of officials has been both humbling and simply amazing.

This evening as I type, she is with us. She is home.

Over the past year and a half, the Lord was readying us for her and her for us. Now, we cannot wait to be “officially” a family in the eyes of the law. Prayerfully, it is only a matter of time. I can’t wait for you to meet her. She is a delight.

God bless the orphans in Haiti, Asia, chryo-preservation units, and all over the world. God bless the families willing to love them into their homes. God bless them for the days, months, and years they wait for each other. May He continue to call us by His name and weave our lives together.

In Pain and Providence

Everything happens for a reason. 

These words cut into me as deeply as the pain I felt in my back, but sliced into soul instead of skin. “Okay, you got me,” I thought. I fantasized about switching places with the bearer of ill-communicated words of God’s providence. The pain overrode my response and kindly kept my mouth shut.

I had spent the better part of the previous week preparing for a trip away with Micah. He and I don’t get away alone very often. And when we do, there is so much planning that goes into it. Making sure our five left at home are covered as well as whomever is kind enough to come spend days with them, taking on the pressures of their care and schedule, is a days-long process.

There was so much to consider, plan, and prepare. Yet, come the morning we were to leave, everything was done. The biggest problem on my mind was the over-packing of heavy books I had done in the excitement of having some extra reading and writing time. I had spent a few minutes feeling relief, even journaling a few notes of thankfulness. I had one errand to run, and with a short flight delay, there was plenty of time to get it accomplished before heading to sunny Florida.

That morning, there was a school delay. Even as sleet had affected roads the night before, it seemed largely inconsequential compared to the sum of the life-negotiations I had finally ceased navigating. Buses were still running. Schools gave extra time but did not close. I gathered several items in my arms, including my purse prepared with traveling necessities, and headed out. I opened and closed the front door without a pause in my movement thinking only of the last task before the trip.

My next thoughts were, “What is happening. I am falling. There is nothing I can do.” It seemed to last a long time— the falling down part, even though it was only a couple of seconds at most. Because my hands were full, I didn’t get them behind me. I was quite sure I had hit the concrete stairs, but I couldn’t tell exactly what was injured, at first. As I fell, I somehow yelled for Micah who was just inside the door. I didn’t think he had heard me, so I raised my phone, already in my hand, and tried to activate it. I knew something was awry and I needed help. As my husband barreled out the door toward me, sliding too and landing to my right, I tried to turn and help him. My body wouldn’t comply. It took him a minute to shake off his injuries.

Now, I have watched funny videos enough to know that if you had been a house or two down watching this craziness, it might be reasonable to snicker at what appeared to be a pile-up of people at the mercy of icy stairs. I saw the viral video of the jogger who bragged and busted it on live news in 2014 and while I hoped the poor gal wasn’t seriously injured, I laughed. It was funny. The trampoline, piñata, “watch this” people who have walked away with $$$$ for their pain know, as much as it hurts, our mistakes sometimes induce the best laughs.

Speaking of mistakes, I have never wanted so badly to go back just a few minutes and consider for just a second the fact that icy weather conditions equal slick stairs. I had a lot of time to desire a do-over in my desperate situation. I was immobile. Micah tried to get me up but it just wasn’t happening. My back had gone into some kind of spasm. The pain oozed in and had taken over. He tried again to lift me. Nope. So he called an ambulance.

I had 10-15 minutes of laying in the sleet on the concrete landing before they came. I had 1,000 thoughts. The overriding one orbited around the feeling that I just couldn’t believe this was happening. And what had I done? What in the world hurt so bad that I couldn’t move? And— would I even be able to move?

The next hours were full of pain… so much pain, particularly as the ambulance bumped and swerved its way to the hospital in terrible traffic, then as the medical professionals moved me from board to stretcher, stretcher to ER bed, bed to CT, back to bed, bed to X-ray, back to bed. Coats and clothing had to be maneuvered. Every movement was excruciating. I cried a lot.

In the midst, enter lady with the untimely truth.

Sometimes, we are untimely with our words.

We are so uncomfortable entering into suffering, sometimes (shall I say many times if we are brave?) even our own. We want to smooth things over, even with holy things. But what if the pain is just as holy? What if this road, the way of the cross, is the one we absolutely cannot avoid? And we stay on it all the way until we meet the day we arrive at our physical end? Then and only then do we awaken in complete, never-going-back, whole resurrection. What if the suffering, both physical and spiritual, ushers in truths that shine a spotlight full-on the state of our bodies and souls and is what brings us to God?

This is the way of the cross. It is the way of suffering.

Words that go around suffering feel more like weapons rather than truths that support space for all the real pain of this broken place. What is ironic is that my Providential, Sovereign God was with me every moment, not forcing unrealized redemption of as a way to anesthetize the suffering. The promise that it would come to an end— that Jesus came to defeat all that is hurt and pain and secured the promise of an eternity absent every bad thing (most importantly my own sin and rebellion)— was just as true unspoken as heard aloud every minute. It reached in in the cross and proved Immanuel once again. The Holy Spirit, Comforter prays for me. The One known as the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief, now seated at the right hand of His Father, hears. He always has the ear of my Father. He ever-lives to intercede for me, as I writhe and cry, feel the limitations of a body, finite and frail, knowing how it felt to have bones that cracked and broke, flesh that was bruised and torn. He sees His scars and knows— being human hurts and He prays accordingly on my behalf.

He waited with me on the stairs. He was there with Micah as he made decisions and moved to care for me. He was all around when my consciousness was lost. He was there as the IV tore open my vein and as meds were administered that helped with the pain. He was there as the nurses attended and anticipated my needs. He was in the assessment and treatment given by a seasoned physician, knowing all that was wrong, even before the viewers of the scanning machines. He was there as I sat up for the first time, feeling the weight of the pain settle in muscles that would remind me of the injury even to this minute. He was behind and before as the Physical Therapist taught me to walk and climb and descend stairs. Every second of pain, every minute of question, every hour of recovery since… Never moving out of the discomfort but abiding with me in it, the Incarnate One, Emmanuel, was mine. Not because of who I am, but because of who He is.

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20

I have spent the last almost two weeks knowing what it means to have part of my spine break. It is astonishing the pain two fractures of the transverse process of one’s L1 vertebrae inflict. The bone is one thing— the muscles responding are another. I was fortunate to avoid worse injury and paralysis. I was fortunate to not have damage to organs. I have re-learned how to do things I haven’t thought about being able to do ever. My baby sister— the little one I was so proud to care for some as a baby, now grown with a baby of her own— came in to care for me this time. Before her, Micah’s parents kindly held down the fort. Folks have brought meals and flowers. I have received prayers and cards. I treasure them. I have come to appreciate well-honed skill of my Physical Therapist. I am making progress! I am so thankful that God brings temporary healing to shadow the hope of heaven. Micah and I have added a new season of knowing in a way that will be woven in the tapestry of our marriage forever. I am a dependent being, made more aware of all the outside-of-me help.

My eternal hope, and yours, is not that we always share truths in timely ways. God knows I have tried to avoid sharing in the sufferings of my friends and neighbors by forcing an over-realized eschatology instead of weeping with them in their very real pain. I do have a desire that I grow in bearing with one another well, loving as I have first been loved— but that is not my hope. It rests in the One who ever lives and pleads for me. Jesus lived a life marked with timely words uttered from human lips, emanating from His omniscience and perfect compassion, for me. He submitted to suffering and death for my sake. He rose again to bring the promise of resurrection— for me.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

I don’t know the reasons why this happened. I suspect they are good ones. They don’t change how hard this has been and may be for a while. I may never know the whys. And that is okay.



Who Am I?

The internet is a place where we can design what the world sees us to be. As much as I’d like to think I am real out here, the truth is that you know me from a lot of words filled with truth and typos and some glimpses into my life via the one-second snapshots I have probably edited and posted. Sometimes I get brave and try to be as truthful as I can. But I know, as much as we’d like to think we are who the internet thinks we are, we only scratch the surface out here.

I think about the thing for which I’d like to be known. I’d like to be known for being a person in process— loved by God and wanting to know more of what that means. A person with real flaws, real gifts, real pain, and real joy. A person with questions and thoughts. I’d like to think myself a writer. And not just a writer, but a good one!

Every real relationship, either face-to-face or screen-to-screen, i.e. wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, neighbor, acquaintance— begs the question, who am I to {you}? Am I liked? Loved? I want you to see me as a positive adjective  noun. It isn’t entirely satisfying for me to define who I am either. I want you to agree with and affirm me. This is powerful— because who we say we are is confirmed if someone agrees with us— and not just someone, but someone with some authority. Or maybe if enough people say it, then it will be true. But what if there is one dissenter? One who point out the flaws and says I am a negative adjective noun? And what if deep down I know they are right? Facts and opinion, founded or unfounded, tears at the peace of the hope of positive identity.

Who am I? Who do all these people think I am? But who am I really? What is my identity? Where do I belong? If I put this upon you to answer for me, I am certain this question will never be put to rest.

Deitrich Bonhoeffer wrote this verse, still applicable today:

Who am I? They often tell me
I would step from my cell`s confinement
calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They also tell me
I would talk to my warders
freely and friendly and clearly,
as though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I would bear the days of misfortune
equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself,
restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
trembling with anger at despotisms and petty humiliation,
tossing in expectation of great events,
powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today, and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?


We cannot talk about who we are without first talking about who God is. It is He who made us— not we ourselves. I am growing in my awareness of how controversial beginning here is these days. Yet, I come from the starting point of scripture and I desire to maintain the integrity of its assertions. From there, we begin as God reveals Himself. The Old Testament is full of stories that reveal the One True and Living God.

First, God is not some amorphous, out-there deity. He reveals Himself in particular ways and He relates to His creation in particular ways as well. At the beginning, He is Creator. He also relates closely with Adam and Eve, walking with them in the garden. But very quickly after the fall, God reveals Himself to be I AM- the One who was and is and is to come. His authority is swiftly established as He asserts His judgement and dominion over the earth and its inhabitants. As the Law is added, we learn I AM is not one with whom to be reckoned alone. No one comes to God in their own way. He also chooses to reveal Himself by name in terms of His attributes as well as His covenants. Among those, there is El-Shaddai. El is a generic term for deity that “instills with mankind a mysterious dread or reverence”, with -Shaddai meaning “God of the Mountains” or “The Almighty God”. El-Roi means “God who sees me”. Yahweh-Jireh combines the covenant name for God with the place God provided the lamb in the place of Isaac and means “The LORD will provide”. There is Adonai which shows honor and “took on the connotation of God’s absolute lordship”. {reference, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, pp. 1171-1172} God has many names and these are only some of the ways God chose to reveal Himself for years and years. These names are the ways those with faith called upon Him. They would have thought themselves “Sons of Abraham”, the ones who were the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. Yet Abraham was not their ultimate father.

Woven throughout scripture are promises of the One who will bridge the chasm between God and man. There are prophecies that speak of Him. His identity is woven in and  through the Old Testament. He will be a child; one called a Son. He is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. He is the child born to us (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6) Immanuel, God with us.

This Son comes to earth, making the claim to be the fulfillment of the prophecies. He says and does many things to prove His divinity and, at the same time, displays His humanity. One of the things He does is teach the disciples how to pray. Yet, after all the descriptive names that reveal the person and character of God in the Old Testament, Jesus tells the disciples to pray in this way (Matthew and Luke’s gospels), and calls out to God saying our Father, or Father. He has spoken of their Heavenly Father, yet speaking of and speaking to are different things. Jesus speaks directly to God as Father and admonishes those around Him to follow suit. Of all the names the disciples would have known to address God, Dad was the way Jesus wanted them to know Him.

Jesus introduces us to God— our, His, mine, your Everlasting Father. 


Scripture is first a book about His rescue plan, to borrow a phrase from Sally Loyd-Jones. His plan, His person, His Son, Jesus is the main narrative. And who needs to be rescued? The first chapters of the book of Romans answers this question as does other scriptures which describe those apart from God. This must be acknowledged if I am to begin to settle the question of who I am in relation to Him. We are first made aware that we are people following the prince of the power of the air, hopeless, dead in trespasses, orphans, exiles— all the negative adjectives nouns— We are those who need rescue. I feel all those adjectives deeply as they give voice to the part of my soul that longs to be pulled from despair. Clearly, we need a new identity if there is to be peace in all the parts of our souls that ask, Who am I?

After a rich explanation of our need in the first several chapters of the book of Romans, Paul voices a response to God after having his eyes opened to his own sin. I have written about this before, yet I feel my soul repeating it when I continue to come to terms with the depths of my own need. When we become aware of who we are before God,  our response isn’t, Sovereign Lord. It isn’t Righteous Ruler. Not Deliverer. It is, “Abba! Father!” We look to Him as a child looks to his or her dad, knowing the only real help comes from Him. Our hearts are like lifted arms, only to be made aware that He has been pulling us up by our hands all along. This is the chosen way God shows Himself to a people who are made aware of exactly who they are. There is nothing more to say, nothing to explain, nothing to do but see Him and press in to the awareness that He is our Father. 

God is I AM, our Father, one with authority and paternity. In the way He chooses to reveal Himself as Father, He relates to us and by default says you are.

But God— being rich in mercy made those lost to Him, found. He sent Jesus to seek them, to live for them, to die for them, and to be raised again for the hope of eternity— all so He can name them. The adjectives and nouns no longer change in relation to Him. The title is no longer up in the air. It is settled once and for all.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his son into your hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.  Galatians 4:4-7

The one who carries the name above all names has named us. He has initiated, maintains, and promises to wholly ~body and soul~ restore our relationship, complete with the benefits of the only righteous Son and rightful Heir, who gives His righteousness  and rightfulness to His inheritance to us.

We all want to be called someone significant who is loved and cherished, who is accepted and forever belongs. And because God calls Jesus, Son, and because we are in Him, we are sons and daughters. And not only are we sons and daughters, but we are heirs, beloved, and forever belonging. The blanks we seek to fill-in with all the relationships we have in our lifetime will vary. But we no longer have to ask the question, Who am I? If God, our Father, is who He says He is, then we are who He says we are.

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine.

link:  D. Bonhoeffer

Hearing His word settles me down— as only the voice of a loving parent can settle and sooth, because His words do not hang on anything other than who He is and what He has done. The struggle now is to believe— to convince my mind, not yet whole, that I am becoming who I already am. I can hear it a thousand different ways today and need to hear it again tomorrow. Sinner and Saint. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.




Our Relational, Triune God

This past summer, my second oldest son and I were debriefing after he had spent time in VBS. “How was your day?” I asked.

“Well, (short pause) I detected a bit of trinitarian heresy,” he replied.

I burst out laughing. I vacillated between being curious, proud, and sincerely hoping he had not called out the teacher in front of everyone in the middle of lesson time! This child— His parents. He gets it honest people.

I have spent years trying to fight the fact that I love theology. Once, I joined a women’s book club. When the group voted on future recommendations, I was a tad (okay, more than a tad) disappointed my choice, The Doctrine of God by John Frame (which I was lightly reading at the time), wasn’t a shoo-in. I just can’t fake it. I am not a Janette Oak reader. Never have been— never will be. And maybe it is okay that I am okay with that at this point in life. Perhaps you have known this all along and you are okay with that too.

We all have a theology, whether or not we are aware of it. Our thoughts about God permeate our conscious and subconscious. Even those who wouldn’t claim belief in a higher power take great pains to defend their position and disprove others. I find that… interesting.

Our theology shapes us. It reaches into the everyday and gives a foothold when everything else seems to be shifting. The way we know God changes the way we see Him, clearly, but it also shapes the way we see ourselves and others. It matters for me when I kiss my husband. It matters when I look in the eyes of my children, love, and lead them. It matters when I wait and wonder about our two Haiti babies and the hearts of birth parents. It matters when I glance in the mirror and see an aging face. It enters into chores and rest. It speeds and slows the diffusing of all the experiences that seem like such a big deal.

Particular in this internet space, I find myself sometimes uplifted, other times discouraged, and often sad. The internet seems to be, in its expanse, a readied means for invoking and revealing the soul. From stern warnings, social media conflicts, and new stories, creating awareness of all the broken things on one side— then to the  positive  heart-warming stories, “how to’s”, reminders of grace, and unification for a cause, there are so many feelings out here! Regardless of the theme, the affects of “likes”, “loves”, “reviews”, and “shares” make me painfully self-reflective.

Outside the cyber world, the real world offers an incessant dialogue between head and heart, mind and soul. When I find myself reacting strongly or feeling down, there may be surface questions that roll around my head, but if I could reduce all of them, they would originate with these three thoughts:

  1. Who am I? Who do all these people think I am? But who am I really? What is my identity? Where do I belong?
  2. Does anyone understand what I am going through? Does anyone see and understand me?
  3. Am I all alone?

I think about how the Triune God— Father, Son, and Holy Spirit— relate to these questions. Part of the way God has chosen to reveal Himself speaks to them. I am a person who forgets things, which is a big reason I write. I am always encouraged as God reaches from the outside in to my day, my space and circumstances, reminds, and gently leads. I hope that as I think again about who I am and who God is, I can encourage you too. I hope to go through these questions in a series of blogs so they are a bit more concise and easy for mediation. I honestly think books could be written here! But in this season and for reflective purposes, I am going to keep this a beginning point for a conversation which will most likely continue until faith is sight.