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  • How to Wait Well

    For a brief few days, I felt the sting of sadness the end of a year can bring. There's something about letting go of the past twelve months that's hard for many of us. It's a pity that Christmas is in the midst of, and for some people the reason for, all those low and lonely feelings. Christmas is a glorious holiday in that it is the celebration of Glory itself coming down to us. But Christmas is also the people and traditions attached to it, and when those people and traditions become only memories...well, it just makes us sad. 

    I've had a difficult time this fall. I keep feeling like I shouldn't say it's been hard, because in many ways, it's been easy, but I will say it has been the weirdest season of my life so far. Alot of our friends we made in the first year of BSSM came back for second year, and it started without us. I had moved past the expectation of second year for us once I knew it wasn't going to happen, but it suprised me how hurt I actually was by it once everyone was back. I did move on to a new expectation of just being here in Redding anyway and resting with no work or school responsibilites and, instead, working on getting pregnant. But September, October, November, and December have passed with the certainty of not being pregnant, so that has hurt, too, because even though I'm not worried anything is wrong with my ability to become pregnant, I just thought I had heard God say it was time to and because of that it would be easy and happen pretty much immediately.

    I had a life plan worked out revolving around getting pregnant this fall. So that has to change now obviously. I know it sounds like "Duh! Life happens!" but I hate that it has to change. It makes me feel silly for assuming I knew how everything was going to happen. I'm just not seeing what I wanted to see right now, and I haven't had that happen in life very often. No, actually, that isn't true. I've not gotten what I wanted lots of times, but there's something different about it right now. I think it's because during first year, I was filled with so much hope and anticipation of the future, and I experienced a spiritual deposit I've found hard to even explain much less process despite all the time I've had this fall. So it feels like a school year's worth of emotional and spiritual revival hype built up for seemingly nothing, because then it just stopped, and I wasn't a student anymore. I didn't have a title. I didn't have a well-defined place to pour into or from which to be poured into. Relationships and intimacy seemed all of sudden so much harder, because if I was going to have connection, I had to be intentional. I found a couple of places to plug into and I continued to meet new people, but nothing really stuck like it did during first year. I'm so grateful that a few friends we made last year are still strong features in our life here, and don't get me wrong, I still really love this church, but so many times I have wanted to be rid of this season.  

    The pain of waiting is a dull, nagging pain that convinces you it's not that bad and that you're okay, but then every two weeks it hurts so badly, you find yourself crying in your bed, or in the laundry room, or in the bathroom, or yelling at your husband because you can't explain what you're feeling or why everything in the world feels so inadequate. In the fall of 2012, God told me I would walk into a season of "a trudge," but right after that, we were launched into the craziest, fastest-paced adventure I had been on in my life because we decided to come here, and we lost our job, and moved to England and all that. I go back to that word, "a trudge," and wonder if it's now that God was talking about. This certainly feels like trudging. 

    I mentioned at the beginning of this post that for a brief few days, I felt the sting of sadness the end of a year can bring. But then I was reminded of the preciousness of my marriage celebrating our ninth anniversary on the 22nd. I got through Christmas with my husband and a couple of sweet friends by my side. And now I've come to these last few days of 2014 being able to finally write this personal confession of a blog, because I feel ready to enter 2015 now even though I still don't know when I'm going to get pregnant or how that's going to change the timeline I had previously imagined for myself. 

    If you haven't already noticed, this post isn't really a formula for how to wait well. I don't even know if I am waiting well, because for the most part, I'm moody and temperamental and don't seem to feel as confident as I have before. And what is it I'm really waiting for anyway? Nothing I want in this world can be as fulfilling as knowing God, and I already know Him. So maybe those of us who are burdened by the weight of waiting should put the object of our wait not on babies, or jobs, or success, or changes of situation but just on Him. Despite my frustration as God and I trudge along, I still know that He's the One for me. I can't explain it, but as you know Him year after year, you know that He's on your side, and He's going to make all of this make sense at some point. 

  • Turning 30 and other post 20s things...

    This summer turned out to be a lot more eventful than I thought it would mainly because of a surprise trip back home to North Carolina. But I’ll extend back to the end of June when I turned 30, and the next decade of my life began.

    David did so well in getting lots of friends involved in throwing me a surprise party. What’s funny is that I had actually asked him to do it. Only someone like me would understand the idea of semi-planning your own surprise party! I didn’t know the time or place: I just gave David a list of people and a few ideas and then let him run with it from there. It was a ton of fun having a crowd of folks from our life here in Redding huddled in our small town house living room. I did learn one thing: I don’t really ever need another big surprise party again. It was lovely reminder, though, that my husband will still stretch himself for me. It wasn’t the easiest thing for him to put an event like that together, so once it was over, he was truly happy he had actually pulled it off. What a sweetie and a real catch.

    In July, my mother went into the hospital with some intense abdominal pain. It turned out to be a cancerous mass in her colon. She went into surgery the next day to have it removed, which was successful, but the home doesn’t run itself while you have to sit in a recliner and recuperate.  Graciously and providentially, my cousin was able to give me a buddy pass of his as he works for an airline, which meant a killer deal from San Francisco to Charlotte. David, selflessly willing to see his wife leave for two weeks, was a huge factor in my ability to go home to help. It was a fantastic and intense 14 days in North Carolina. The cool, green mountains were a respite to my soul after almost a year of the dry California sun.

    Spending time with my parents was overall a tremendous blessing for me. It gets weird at times with parents as you grow up and change and become quite different than they might have imagined or expected. My parents and I are on this journey of figuring it all out – working out how to be what we need to be to each other after 8 and half years of me being married and no longer under their roof. I’ve been saying for a while now that someone desperately needs to come out with a book on how this relationship – parents and their adult children – is supposed to look like, because from my perspective, it’s been a real heart breaker in some ways. I’m currently learning to honor and respect my parents a little more than I have in past several years, and I’m getting the sense that there’s a lot more sacrifice involved than people ever talk about. I’m desperate for more than just the cliché stressed relationships of adult children and their parents that you see in popular culture and movies. I’m aiming for Kingdom family, and I’m eager to learn how spiritual family can include your biological family, too, not just other folks you meet along the way that take you under their wing.

    The four foster children (aged 3, 4, 5, and 8) my parents took on in June were a huge part of my visit. Unfortunately, my parents need more time to sort out a permanent arrangement for them, and they have since gone into the care of another family since my return to Redding, but there is no doubt they know my family’s love through it all. My experience in July with them left me more confident than ever in my desire to start a family. I was so tired by the end of the day from my general schedule while in NC: waking them, picking out clothes for them to wear and getting them off to daycare, cleaning and doing laundry or organizing some part of the house left untouched for a while during the rest of the day, cooking dinner, playing with them, bathing them, and then finally getting them tucked in for bed and having a bit of time with my parents in the evening. But I realized how incredible fulfilling those days were. I said to myself at some point, “This will be my 30s. This will be an offering of a good portion of my life unto the Lord,” and it filled me with such joy.

    As I haven’t updated at all this summer, many of you don’t know that David and I are not doing the second year of BSSM. We decided this back in July, when we realized the finances were not coming together for our tuition plus paying rent and life expenses. As you might have realized, I have not worked all summer; I never got any positon anywhere. David took on two jobs, which has allowed me to stay home for now. Second Year seemed a further stretch than we were willing to make at this point in time. Besides, if I want to become pregnant, it makes more sense to not be doing school while I prepare and let my body absorb a new life growing in it.

    So here we are: trying to get pregnant, David working hard, and us doing what we do quite best – loving people well. There is this new sense of our role here in Redding we have in this season, which is to be friends and support to people, a safe place, and one to go to for love and community within the Bethel culture. Our housemate for the summer has left, our original lease partners are back in the house, and we’re enjoying the quiet yet dynamic life we have here. Since we didn’t have to pay $8000ish in tuition, we were able to register for the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) class that starts this week. We’ll have that once a week until March and receive a certification in the program that will hopefully lead to open doors in teaching English as a job either back in NC next Spring or in England the following year.

    The plan is just this: finish my book while I get pregnant, have the baby hopefully next summer while in North Carolina, move back to England with said baby January 2016. These are the basic directional things we know and feel confident in God’s leading. The rest is a day to day journey in hearing His voice on each matter. It’s a brilliant way to live.

  • My Writer's Declaration

    My writer's group from the year decided to keep meeting throughout the summer to encourage each other's summer writing plans. We've recently challenged one another to write our own declarations - a sort of mantra to speak over ourselves as we continue honing in our craft. 

    If you're a writer, consider writing your own and then plaster it somewhere you have to see it. Begin to believe in your talent. (Do this for all sorts of areas in life.) What we think we are, we become. Here is mine:

    I am a poet laureate, a voice to a nation both in America and England. I write local color, the flavor of my people and my time. I am a ghost writer only I get credit. God planted words in my spirit, but He asked ME to nurture them. I write with pith and purpose, and those things will get me noticed. My craft is a work of redemption, reconciling a desperate world of hope deferred to an abundant Kingdom of dreams restored and creativity that breeds more of the same. My words, then, are mulitiplied into a collective much bigger than them or myself, so, Christie, here this: your writing is not a solitary act. I write with rhythm and occasional rhyme, because there is also this infinite song within me. I am a novelist with projects that stick and fruit for my labor. I write and culture shifts one word at a time because of my patience and longevity. My words are not merely marketable - they are timeless and universal and they will not be forgotten. 

    Now you can hold me accountable to these words I've written about myself. If you begin to see me as I have described, then surely the hope within me rises. Please direct me to your own declaration, if you choose to write one about yourself for whatever capacity you desire. May our words bring life to our spirits.