Saturday, July 30, 2011

A David Psalm

Psalm 23

A David Psalm
1-3 God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

4 Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I'm not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd's crook
makes me feel secure.

5 You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

6 Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.

I'm back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.

(The Message)

I am chased down by the God of the Universe. Who wants to show His beauty to me. Who wants to surround me with His love. Every single day that I am alive.
How awesome is that?!?

Find Me In The River

Our adventure on the Muskegon River in Michigan can be described as just that: "an adventure." We made good memories, enriched our friendships, cared for the four teenagers we brought with us, spent all day every day in the outdoors, saw a dazzling night sky full of shooting stars, swam in the river, jumped off of dunes, chased dirt-covered babies, battled ravenous life-sucking bugs, suffered through 115 degrees F heat index in the direct sunlight, devoured an enormous ice cold watermelon, survived three crazy monsoon-like rainstorms (one that hit while we were on the water in our canoes), made it through sickness and sunburn and a tooth that abscessed and wet clothes and asphyxiation by massive quantities of bug spray (just kidding...but almost)... Lexi had a marvelous time playing in the dirt and sand and water and was never at a loss for something to do. Neither was I, since I was chasing her the entire day...given that she had a strong inclination to fall over the edge of the dune and slide all the way down the steep slope of sand into the clear river below.

Upon our return home, we unpacked as fast as we could, and then the very next day welcomed Eric's parents at our home for the following four days. The day they left to return home, Abby's parents (Abby and her husband Nick are our housemates) showed up for a visit. The day they returned home, Nick's friend Jordan showed up for the weekend.

So today Nick and Abby and Brielle are downtown with friends and Eric and I very decidedly took the day off. We still have Lexi, so it wasn't terribly relaxing, but today was one of those long, quiet days that everyone craves after an extended period of craziness. We went on a walk as a family, took naps, read books, made Lexi giggle hysterically, had dinner ready by 5, Lexi bathed and in bed by 6. Time slowed comfortably and brought with it the rest that we are so in need of.

Life has become busier since moving in with another family. There is always something going on and things that need to be done, people that need to be met with and places inhabited. Friends are always in abundance and food disappears at an alarming speed.

Slowing down has in many ways become harder to do now. It takes a deliberate effort to stop and remember to take a breath. You have to choose to make time to simply be in the Lord's presence. Since being home, I have been struggling with this and thinking a lot about what that looks like. And while the visual image is pleasant, it doesn't mean the process has been easy. I keep picturing myself standing waist deep in the Muskegon River, arms spread out, eyes closed and face turned to the sky. The current of the water pulling at me, washing over me, surrounding me with its clear, cold, abundant waters. Bringing refreshment. Quenching thirst. Giving life.

Surrendering my plans, my dreams, my hopes and letting Christ be all that is in me. Trusting implicitly, even when it means losing all the things I have been holding on so tightly to. Letting go, and allowing Christ to hold and have his way with my life. With my disappointment. With my heart. With my physical body. With the plans I have for my family. With the hopes I have for my friends. With the plans and ideas I have for myself. With the dreams I have for this house and our surrounding community.

Christ calls us to Himself.

He doesn't call us to fill ourselves with what we think is best for us. Our job, ideal living situation, family life, financial status, or even plans that are all made with the best intentions.

He simply calls us to Himself.
To be in the river. And let all that is not of God be washed out, and in its place, be filled with the very life of God. So that we can't help but love Him, and want to be chased by Him, cleansed by Him. Washed clean by this incredible God that so tenderly cares for us.
He loves us first. We are drawn into love Him. And out of that love for Him flows the desire to live in obedience to His Word, which becomes known and understood with Him, in the river. In that surrender. Submerged in the water.

The song "Find me in the River" by Delirious, has never seemed more fitting.

Find me in the river
Find me on my knees
I've walked against the water
Now I'm waiting if You please

We've longed to see the roses
But never felt the thorns
And worn our pretty crowns
But never paid the price

Find me in the river
Find me there
Find me on my knees
With my soul laid bare

Even though You're gone
And I'm cracked and dry
Find me in the river
I'm waiting here

Find me in the river
Find me on my knees
I've walked against the water
Now I'm waiting if You please

We didn't count on suffering
We didn't count on pain
But if there are blessings in the valley
Then in the river I will wait

Find me in the river
Find me there
Find me on my knees
With my soul laid bare

Even though You're gone
And I'm cracked and dry
Find me in the river
I'm waiting here
I'm waiting here

Find me in the river
Find me there
Find me on my knees
With my soul laid bare

Even though You're gone
And I'm cracked and dry
Find me in the river
Find me in the river
Find me in the river
I'm waiting here for You

Waiting here for You
I'll wait here for You
I'll wait here for You

Friday, July 15, 2011

A True Sense of the Word


Spunky - spirited; plucky.

Ad 1. spunky - showing courage; feisty.

spirited - displaying animation, vigor, or liveliness

2. spunky - willing to face danger

brave, courageous - possessing or displaying courage; able to face and deal with danger or fear without flinching.


This summer, Lexi's personality is shining. She is strong, independent, willfull, intensely curious, always moving and active, and full of laughter and fun. She has found her legs and her voice in the past several months, and talks, sings, and dances constantly. At 14 months, she can verbally say: Please, thank you, more, NO!, yes, nigh-night, all done, be-bo (belly button - blame it on the hippo), teeth (brush teeth), shoes (her first word), Mama, Dada, woof woof (EVERY time she hears a dog bark) and her favorite word - "THIS!" while pointing at various objects for me to name. She is learning to use the potty and likes to chat with all the sesame street characters that are printed on her special seat.

Lexi loves people, dogs, climbing in and out of her stroller, bubbles, water, puddles, digging in the dirt (maybe this is why she loves dogs so much...), investigating trash at the park, hugging Brielle (the 11 month old baby that also lives with us), eating food off of my plate, biting when she doesn't get her way (we are working on that...), drinking ice cold milk out of a sippy cup, dancing to music, laughing at herself, making everything into a game, and climbing anything that she can hoist herself onto.

Lexi is also the proud owner of her very own life jacket. Which will come in handy this next week when she decides to dive out of the canoe for a solo swim (yes, it is inevitable)

in the Muskegon river. We anticipate lots of fun, as well as a very wet baby. But knowing Lexi, she will probably be able to paddle the canoe on her own by the end of the first hour, so I'm not too worried. :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Little Things

Summer used to be such a magical time. In some ways, it still is. But nothing can compare to summer when you are a child. Everything seemed magnified, fantastical, extraordinary, special.

Little things.
Like waking up at dawn, putting on my favorite swimsuit and counting down the minutes until the neighborhood pool opened.
Catching tadpoles in a jar at the creek and watching them grow into tiny miniature hopping frogs that would eventually hop out of our tiny fishbowl and disappear into the suburban wild.
Sitting out on the front patio with Dad listening to his stories while he grilled me a special burger, just for me.
Playing airplanes and horses in the yard with my older sister and younger brother, while my Mom sat outside with a neighbor and ate guacamole and chips. My baby sister crawling around at her feet.
Skateboard races with my best friend, Tony. Which almost always ended with his mom giving us Popsicles and him allowing me to watch him play Sonic the Hedgehog on his Nintendo.
Going to bed when it was still light out, knowing that on special nights, Mom and Dad would let us stay up until it got dark.

These days, summer looks a little different.
Lexi is the one who goes to bed when it's still light out, not me (unfortunately...).
Avocados are $2.49 EACH this season here in Chicago - even at the cheap stores. No guacamole and chips for me.
The pool is not quite the same when all the kids there have these shrill high pitched screams and the junior high girls look like super models and I look down at the stretch marks on my soft middle and realize that I am getting older by the day. I think I'll stick to the beach. (There are plenty of flabbier people with an unhealthy overdose of self confidence that inhabit the beach who tend to make me look really good in comparison... I did not just say that.)
I haven't been on a skateboard in at least 12 years.
I'll take soft serve ice cream over an artificially flavored Popsicle (made with 7 dyes and high fructose corn syrup) any day.
You have to pay me some big money to make me touch a frog these days.
My Dad still grills me a special burger when I am home, but somehow the physical distance of two countries makes the visits fewer and farther between. I never knew what it was like to miss someone until a country border line was stretched out between me and the people I know and love best in the world.

Things have changed.

I have my own family now. A husband. A daughter.
We are making our own adventures, our own memories, our own plans and dreams.
I have spent my summer blowing bubbles in the park with Lexi. Digging holes and building sand castles with her at the beach. Shopping for the perfect watermelon. Sitting in the grass and sharing long talks with Eric while he grills in the evening light. Laughing with friends and dreaming big together. Concerts in the Park downtown on a lawn so crowded with people that the outdoors feels claustrophobic. Late nights with no sign of stars, just the orange glow of city street lights and the blaring Mexican music at the birthday party next door. The savory smells of ethnic restaurants wafting onto the sidewalk during walks with Lexi. Dogs barking. Kids shouting in a plethora of languages and playing in the alleys and on the sidewalks and occasionally in the busy streets. Lexi learning to walk and then run, and learning to say a new word almost every day. Chatting with the neighbors in Spanish. Baking fresh bread for dinner. The smell of strawberries on Lexi's breath and berry juice trickling down her chin.

These things are summer now. The carefree days of imagination and discovery replaced by responsibility and a beautiful reality. Eric's smile. Lexi's giggles. New adventures.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Summertime at last

I can make it a super long story as to why there haven't been any pictures of Lexi on here lately. It has everything to do with the fact that my camera broke. And then my phone camera broke. And then I lost my other camera in the move and only just now found it. And Eric has lots of cameras too, but they were all over at the old apartment since he worked out of the space as an office until this weekend when the end of June arrived and we had to turn in our keys. But lucky for me, I have a friend named Jenny who has a camera and who also hangs out with us a lot. :)

So what have we been up to lately?


Sun hats and sunscreen and seaweed and sand
and seagulls and snacks and splashes
at sunny Foster Beach.

Can you say Fireworks?!?

If you haven't already heard, we've moved.

A word about our new neighborhood demographic: Latin American majority. This is so awesome for me, since I LOVE the Latin American culture and speak Spanish and also have a insatiable love for Mexican food... So it's not all that hard for me to love my neighbors when there are brown Spanish speaking babies running around with Lexi at the park and the kids on the side of the road have an horchata stand (forget the lemonade!) and there is a lady that sells tamales and elote and helado right across the street from our apartment!

But if there is one thing that you should know about Latin Americans (especially if you plan to live in the same neighborhood), it is that they LOVE LOVE LOVE fireworks! And when I say Love, I really mean L.O.V.E!!! If you have ever spent any time in Mexico City, you will understand what I mean. Latinos celebrate a LOT. They love life and they live it fully and passionately and with lots of parties and music and, you guessed it, FIREWORKS!

Every single night during the 3 1/2 years that I lived in Mexico City, there would be fireworks going on all around the neighborhood and city. They set off fireworks for everything. To commemorate a Saint, to ward off evil spirits, to celebrate a birthday, to honor a death, etc., etc., or to simply just set them off for the heck of it!

So now imagine all these Latin Americans who have come to live in Chicago, IL, where it is illegal to buy/sell fireworks in the state. People become much more selective about when to set them off, since it means a long drive to Wisconsin and back for a decent supply!

This year, Chicago decided to cancel their big July 3rd (not the 4th) firework show down at Grant Park to reduce costs and avoid the massive crowds. Instead, Chicago has decided to just let Navy Pier do the show and hope that the whole city decides to stay home instead of trying to all cram on the pier together. Yeah right. I've been to one of their firework displays on a Wednesday night in June and the entire walkway was PACKED with human persons!!!

So this being the case, our neighbors have made a point to have as much firework fun as they can, city show canceled or not! Eric and I literally watched a family unload an entire TRUCKLOAD of huge fireworks from the back of their truck the other day!!!

(Did I mention that unauthorized fireworks in Illinois are illegal?)

All that being said, it is only July 2nd, and it sounds like we are being heavily bombed over here. (It probably doesn't help that I've been watching Battle Los Angeles at the same time...Me: "Was that just a grenade?!?")

Now, don't get me wrong. I love these people that I intentionally moved to live closer to. I am ALL for them gaining legal status here in the USA and becoming citizens and having a good life here. I know what life can be like back where they come from, and I am glad that they can make their home here now. And I'm glad they are having fun this weekend with their fireworks.

But I'm also glad that the USA only has one real fireworks holiday. Especially since I have a baby who needs to sleep. :)