Monday, June 18, 2012

we're moving

photo: Thomas Beck

Lindsey and I moved to Salt Lake City almost exactly one year ago to love people and hopefully show Jesus to some of them.

From the beginning things were not exactly how we had planned.  Our church had pulled its support over philosophical and theological differences, Lindsey was just entering the second trimester of her pregnancy, and neither of us had jobs.

But that is the nature of steps of faith.  If they go according to plan, then they are really just steps.

We both got jobs, enrolled Lindsey in Utah's fantastic medicaid program, and we made some really great friendships.

In our time here, we have had conversations that I never even dreamed were possible in the United States.  For some of our friends, we are the only (non-Mormon) Christians they have ever met, which allowed us to have very real and honest conversations about our faith.

Were it only for the friendships and serving people, we would certainly stay.

But in March, my dad had heart surgery.  Two days afterwards, he asked me to move back to Omaha.  He wanted my help.  

My dad has never asked for anything from me.

Most importantly, this move will allow me to be near my dad at a unique time in his life.  His last child moves out of the house on Friday.  He has never had the opportunity to live near one of his grandchildren.  And he is just coming off of life-saving heart surgery.

Additionally, it will provide us with some much needed financial stability.  After Charlotte was born, Lindsey stopped working, and my two jobs and a struggling small business don't leave any margin for luxuries like doctors' visits.

We started this journey wanting to obey God's calling on our lives.  While it would have been glamorous and adventurous to start a successful church in a state that is only 1.5% Christian, it is humble and right to honor my father and his request.

We look forward to what God has in store for this next chapter of our lives.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

tips for new dads from a new dad

photo: Raj Lulla Photography

1. If she's quiet in the car, she's either sleeping or pooping.  Grab the gloves and tongs if her eyes aren't closed when you open the car door.  Hazmat suit if she's smiling.

2. Six [plus] weeks is a long time to wait for happy-fun-married-time to resume, but your wife just had dynamite go off in her ladyparts, so be generous and understanding.

3. Take the baby out with you: on walks, to the grocery store, on errands.  Your wife deserves a rest.  You need to build memories with your child.

4. If your wife stays home, she is starved for adult conversation all day.  Call on your breaks, and make sure to talk to her (not just the baby) when you get home.  Encourage her to take the stroller to the mall (or wherever) with other moms, and loosen up a little cash so she can.

5. Just because the baby is out doesn't mean that her body is going to just snap back to pre-pregnancy mode, especially if she is breastfeeding.  Plan on spending some money on a transition wardrobe, and smile while spending it because nobody watched you "allegedly" poop, scream, and swear while a human being emerged from your body.

6. Start early praying for/with your baby. It was difficult during the first couple of weeks because she was a light sleeper, but it got easier. It helps you focus on what you really hope for their lives.

7. Her hormones are on a roller coaster.  If she's not a danger to you, herself, or the baby, just ride it out.

8. Sleep in whatever arrangement works for the first few weeks (couch, etc), but after a little while, suck it up and get through a few tough nights in bed. You'll be able to sleep better soon enough. Invest in coffee or strong tea.

9. Practice random acts of chocolate.

10. You will not be able to defeat the tsunami of dirty diapers, dirty laundry, etc. but an extra load of laundry or trip to the curb makes everyone feel better.

11. Call once per week and ask if she would like you to pick up dinner on the way home.

12. If, on the day your wife your wife confides she is ready to resume happy-fun-married-time, you do not buy her flowers, you're an idiot.  You'll be tempted to hire a skywriter.  Resist that urge.

13. Love used to be spelled "t-i-m-e."  Now it's spelled "d-i-a-p-e-r" or "S-t-a-r-b-u-c-k-s."  (Who am I kidding?  It has always been spelled "S-t-a-r-b-u-c-k-s," just moreso now.)

14. Things that used to take five minutes (i.e. leaving the house) now take 20.  Plan accordingly.

15. You will miss your baby when she is asleep the same way you used to miss your wife when you dropped her off at home after a date.  This is natural and does not make you a woman.

16. When she starts sleeping in her own room, check on her every night before you go to bed.  You will never regret this, even if you accidentally wake her up and (oh, darn) are forced to cuddle with/rock her until she falls back asleep.

17. If you have a daughter, buy a gun and practice your aim.  You are no longer a pacifist.  If you have a son, start teaching him self-control, or learn first aid.

Friday, June 1, 2012

sometimes my heart

photo: Gopher KC

Sometimes my heart breaks.

I almost cried on the way home tonight.  I rarely cry.  I hate crying.

But sometimes, it's too much.

A little boy was told tonight that he would be torn away from the most happiness and stability he has known in his short life.

Two friends' marriage is in trouble and on the brink of divorce.

People at work strive for more than they can reach, get stuck, and become frustrated and mean.

A friend's infant daughter grapples with an inoperable tumor that presses on her nerves and causes her near-constant pain.

Families squabble out of love, anger, and dismay.

The son of a good friend requires surgery on his skull.

Bills pile up.  Paychecks do not.

And these are only the things I know about.

I hear about more.

About a friend's family member being unspeakably attacked.

About injuries to innocent children.

I pray, and it helps, but prayer by nature admits powerlessness.

And yet, the same power that conquered the grave lives in me.  Some days it feels easier to summon than others.

Once I sat in a room with an atheist who claimed he doesn't believe anything is wrong with the world.  Apparently, he has never seen Born Into Brothels.

I hate having my heart broken for these hurts and not being able to do anything about them, but I also know that if my heart did not break for these hurts, I would certainly be causing some of them.

I hope and wish for more for some family, friends, and others than they even hope or wish for themselves.  I hope that God answers prayers for us even despite our own desires.

The same power.  The same.  If it conquered the grave and lives in me, how do I get it out?  Not out of me but more onto others?  I'm not a very good vessel sometimes.

Though the burden of seeing right from wrong, good from evil, just from unjust is heavy, I would not trade it for ignorance or apathy.

After all, the same power that conquered the grave lives in me.

I hope that C.S. Lewis was right in saying that "Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory."  I need an active heaven that spreads like a virus - one that reaches down and mops up sinful, broken messes, not an escapist fantasy with harps and clouds.

Joy, if it is going to be real joy, has to be stronger than the pain known apart from it..  Please God, give us joy, and let us be a source of joy to others who need it.

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