all the time we referenced Him as “Abba,” i didn’t understand. i didn’t understand until meeting my neighbor who doesn’t want religion, my jewish neighbor who teaches her children to call their daddy, “Abba,” my neighbor’s children who adore their “Abba,” a man i have come to deeply respect as a father.

now i have begun to understand what “Abba” meant; i have begun to understand how we slapped a sweet name onto our own fearsome, holy, separate, authoritarian, other God, hoping to talk ourselves into being faithful to Someone we didn’t trust but needed to trust “because He said so.”

But all the time “Abba” was our gentle, fierce Protector, our haven, our strength, our only One who could make sense out of the chaotic world we live in. “Abba” isn’t a distant “God our Heavenly Father -” He is “God with us,” intimately understanding our dust and our childishness, deeply loving us in spite of ourselves, always safe, even if we could not earn His approval.

“Abba” faithfully fathers us, waiting as we try our first steps into His arms, standing steady as we launch ourselves there with the exuberance of youth, holding His heart open to us as we grow older and less willing (but more desperate) to return to the grace in His embrace. i know now how He could never reject us, how “Abba” fights for His children, how He holds us and disciplines us and always works what He knows is best for us.

desert summer

it feels like fall here in the mornings. i understand from the locals that this is not how it usually feels, but waking up to 63 degrees and the sound of geese playing in the reservoir around the corner and the crackle of leaves that have dropped to our patio overnight does leave one to feel whatever one feels, now doesn’t it?

aaaaannnnddd now we rest a bit

the problem with having a restless heart is that you get called repeatedly to rest, and sometimes the enforcement comes in ways you don’t expect and really don’t want to embrace. in my case, that anxiety i was talking about yesterday has resulted in an almost complete collapse of my physical systems. again.

i am not pleased to be having seizures and collapses again, but i know that these times when i have not been able to do as much as i want to do have been really rich in the past – on every level. pete says i’m not made for this world. i wish he wasn’t so right, because i like this world, quite frankly. i like the way the light falls down and the way the wind feels as it brushes my face, and i like the sounds of laughter and music and the sense of adventure you get when you stand on the shore looking out to sea. i want to live the height and breadth and depth of my life, and when my body breaks down, it feels harder to do than i want it to feel.

one thing is for sure – it’s going to force a reprioritization and put some limitations on my life that haven’t been there for a while, which is very discouraging – you don’t want to take breaks when you’re trying to be famous (i’m only half-joking there, sigh), but it’s also a bit of a relief to have a real, physical reason that needs no justification for saying “no” and doing the “walk” thing instead of the “run” thing.

anxious over nothing

and then there are the days where i don’t feel happy, not at all, when the anxiety takes over and caring for my people feels so overwhelming that i think i don’t exist myself anymore. i have never had issues with my being a “selfish” person. i always kinda figured that is who i am, and maybe it stems from a survival instinct that has taught me about setting boundaries so that i don’t completely disintegrate into the dust from which i am made. but now, i feel extra responsibility to care so much more about people, and while it’s a worthwhile thing, to try to be more loving to people in ways they understand, it doesn’t come naturally to me, and my heart isn’t in it the way it is when i am observing and making a place for them.

that probably doesn’t make much sense. all the details are missing. it’s just thoughts i have that i’m putting down, and the feeling that i don’t always want to feel so stretched, but i can’t keep up with even the normal things of life like deadlines without freaking out. i know He says to be anxious for nothing, but it’s not easy when it’s a physical, chemical trigger thing. i’m seriously considering therapy – i am having more trouble than usual sorting out my thoughts. but then, i have to find a good therapist, and then i have to pay for one, and this is really not easy to consider doing at this moment. it took me eight years to stabilize in charleston – i want things to feel more familiar, more stable here – and they just don’t. it’s hard not knowing where to go for the doing-life things, taking chances on calling people, opening myself up to being hurt and disappointed – or worse.

anxiety is a mess – on the one hand, it’s something you have acknowledge to deal with the reasons behind it; on the other hand, it is a huge guilt-inducer, because you’re not supposed to be anxious about anything if you know God, right? i don’t always know what to do with black and white when things go gray with real life and not-so-much spiritual. it makes me glad for Immanuel, because i know He gets it. He’s not just God up there telling us what to do and how to be without having lived in our skin and felt what we feel.

there’s a lot of hope in a God who understands you, a God who is on your side, a God who isn’t waiting to condemn you.


we have named our apartment “meriggiare,” which is italian for “sit out the noon.” it’s a shaded place, a hot-but-shaded place, and it is welcoming and restful and wonderful in the heat of this desert, and i love that the light reminds me of europe. it makes me happy.

i’ve been saying that a lot: “i am happy,” “i am so happy!” “i am really, really happy.” It feels like an experiment in joy, a “did God, would God, has He, is He” meeting my expectations and going far beyond what i could have imagined when all this started back in november last year.

we have margin, and a place to “sit out the noon” and invite people in and sit down and do some quiet living if we want to, in spite of the construction and remodeling around us here. i kind of don’t want to move very soon. i could see us doing christmas here, maybe a year or two until we have saved a little to put down on a house or something. it has its quirks, but we like it.

i keep thinking about life, about how it would have been dumb of God to make people and then give them a to-do list in regard to Him. we put our own spirituality onto our dust, almost like an eternal penance for eating the fruit in the garden – but we were made in His image as humans, spirit in dust, and i really do believe that He meant for us to praise Him by just being what he made us to be, with the added element of eternal life that allows us to know Him and eventually, to see Him as He is.

i don’t know how it all works together, living human and being His, but that’s what it is, a paradox that means i am in the world and not really of it, that says i am under grace which restores me to Him to simply *be.*

not unhealthy

i figured out the thing that hit me hardest when i was at my parents’ a few weeks ago. i walked in feeling pretty healthy – exhausted as anything, but pretty healthy as a person – and needing some rest, only to be told that I am NOT healthy, that my kids were running me ragged, and that i would be facing consequences down the line from the decisions i am making now.

permit me a tiny rant, but um, that’s not okay. healthy people don’t do that to other people. i wouldn’t do that to my parents, regardless of what i think of their choices. i recognize that this is just part of life, but when i think about the way i have lived mine, i am proud of my choices. i am proud that i chose to make room for my feelings and keep living my life on a practical, realistic level. i am proud that i have learned how to stay and how to go and how to love and how to offer grace – to myself and to others. and i am proud that i am not living in shame because i can’t perform the way they raised me to perform.

i like being happy and having peace and real joy with God working in my life to care for me and for my people. my expectation is from Him, not from what i invest or don’t invest.

i can’t change the critical narrative with which i grew up, but i can damn well refuse to live it out. i *like* my life, i *like* my kids, and i *like* trusting God with the outcome when i can’t see five, ten, twenty-five years down the road. i want my kids to know Him, and i will do what i can to point them that direction and encourage them to be healthy and productive people, but i’m not meant to be the guardian of their every move, not meant to be the Person to provide their every need and desire. it is OKAY for me not to be what i often feel i have to be. it is OKAY for them to make choices and be strong people themselves.

chalk this one up to #thinksthatcometomewheniclean.