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Friday, June 27, 2014


word of the day: lie \ˈlī\ to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive; to be in a helpless or defenseless state

I have a love-hate relationship with medical school.  I hate it mostly.  And I love to talk about how much I hate it.  That’s really the extent of the relationship. 
Lily feels similarly.  She also makes this face ALL the time now.  It is hilarious/making me feel like I should smile more or something.
We live at the mercy of tests and doctors and uncertain hours.  Jake and I recently had a conversation in which we ranked our upcoming months on a scale of bad to terrible.  Bad felt very manageable which tells me I’ve come a long way in our almost six years of marriage. 

There are times, though, when the pressure of the current and upcoming realities of medical school start to feel unbearable.  And it’s in those moments that a small voice whispers in my ear, “I didn’t sign up for this.”

It’s an “I” and not a “you” because the best lie makes you believe that you came up with it on your own.  The lie is easier to detect when it comes from somebody else.

Now, I could probably write a 328 part series about the lies I believe on any given day.   Lately, this just seems to be the one that weasels itself in most frequently.

I was reminded today of an excerpt from one of my favorite books, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.  In a chapter titled “The Thing about a Crossing” he speaks straight to my feelings:
It’s like this when you live a story:  The first part happens fast.  You throw yourself into the narrative, and you’re finally out in the water; the shore is pushing off behind you and the trees are getting smaller.  The distant shore doesn’t seem so far, and you can feel the resolution coming, the feeling of getting out of your boat and walking the distant beach.  You think the thing is going to happen fast, that you’ll paddle for a bit and arrive on the other side by lunch.  But the truth is, it isn’t going to be over soon. 
 The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined.  The point of a story is never about the ending, remember.  It’s about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle.  At some point the shore behind you stops getting smaller, and you paddle and wonder why the same strokes that used to move you now only rock the boat. . .The shore you left is just as distant, and there is no going back; there is only the decision to paddle in place or stop, slide out of the hatch, and sink into the sea.  Maybe there’s another story at the bottom of the sea.  Maybe you don’t have to be in this story anymore.[…] 
I think this is when most people give up on their stories.  They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies.  But they get into the middle and discover it was harder than they thought.  They can’t see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward.  None of the trees behind them are getting smaller and none of the trees ahead are getting bigger.  They take it out on their spouses, and they go looking for an easier story. (177-179)
“Oh, but Jake is almost done with medical school. You’ll arrive at the other shore soon enough, and you’ll look back and realize all that paddling was worth it.”

See, that’s the thing.  I’ve been thinking about that phrase, “I didn’t sign up for this” and have been wondering what exactly I DID sign up for.  What did I expect?  Easy?  Because when has it ever been particularly easy?

Jake’s doctorate isn’t the shore I’m paddling toward.  It’s an island.  It’s a milestone.  I’ll be the first to kick medical school out of the boat when we get there but am not blind to the fact that something will take its place that will again cause me to feel like I'm entitled to something different. 

But it’s like Miller said: “The point of a story is never about the ending, remember.  It’s about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle.” 

The first eight definitions of the word “lie” have to do with something that remains motionless.  Helpless.  Defenseless.  That’s what happens when we believe a lie isn’t it?  It is meant to paralyze us.  Take away our direction.  Keep our boat in place.

It always helps me once I detect the lie.  Instead of a weight that hangs heavy around my heart, it becomes a fly that just needs swatted away once in a while.    It’s still annoying, yes, but it’s not enough to keep me from paddling. 

And so, I guess I’ll get molded into a better person or whatever.  But do NOT ask me to start sitting with medical school at lunch. 

I hate that guy.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


word of the day: filter \ˈfil-tər\ a device that is used to remove something unwanted; holding back elements or modifying the appearance of something

I went a week without any filters on Instagram.  I know.  Radical.

In addition to no filters, I decided to only take one picture of any particular moment I wanted to capture. No exceptions.


I realized I was trying too hard to take the perfect picture on Lily’s birthday back in May.   For the entire day, I tried to record her showing me how old she was on her fingers—a trick she had already mastered.  An entire day.  She wouldn’t do it once.  I even had a video of her doing it a few weeks prior, but she wasn’t one then1, and I had this need for a live birthday shot.  I literally turned all crazy mom on her as we kept trying.  All day. 

I finally put my phone aside and let her actually be a one-year-old on her birthday, but it really got me thinking about my need to post perfectly filtered pictures to my social media outlets. 

And so, my personal challenge was born. Only the first picture of a moment. No added filter.  Here are a few of the shots I got:

Not great. I didn't even post them all, quite frankly, because I didn't want to annoy all my Instagram followers with an onslaught of poor quality and blurriness.  

On Monday, when the idea popped into my mind, I knew it would culminate with a piece of writing.  I thought, though, that it would be a reflection of how I hide behind filters and only post these facades of the beautiful things I do all day.  I thought I would compare the ratio of beautiful pictures I take of Lily to the blurry or screaming pictures I don’t take of her.  I could write about that (it truly is a lot blurrier around here than filters allow), but that’s not really what the pictures taught me. 

In my case this week, one take, no filter pictures told a better story.   They had more emotions and more movement.  They weren’t the result of a staged third attempt because I hadn’t quite captured the face perfectly the first time Lily made it.  The picture was the moment and told the story itself.

They were better because they were worse (from a strictly philosophical stance).

But more importantly, I found myself enjoying moments more.  I would snap one picture, then put my phone down and just watch Lily.  It’s something I’ve been trying to do more anyway—take less real pictures and more mental ones.  To be fully present in situations rather than trying to capture every awesome moment on film (because I could—Lily is awesome). 

And what I’ve found is that when I’m taking mental pictures, I’m remembering the moment better because I’m actually present in it.  I’m not just a prop. 

So, I guess, here’s to being present.  To living in moments rather than trying to capture them perfectly. 

Lily’s not about that anyway.

1 She also had just woken up and her hair was a mess.  Gasp.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


word of the day: crisis \ˈkrī-səs\ an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person's life; the turning point

I bought a tube of lipstick the other day1.

I saw a picture of a girl wearing lipstick in a magazine that mysteriously gets delivered to my house every month and decided in that moment that I had to own some.  It’s noteworthy that I bought a tube of lipstick because I’ve never worn lipstick a day in my life.  But now I do.  And, I even like it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that tube of lipstick since I bought it.  Mostly, I think, because it reminds me of my mom.  Unlike me, my mom has always worn lipstick.  Hers always came in really shiny gold tubes, and I loved to look at them when I was a kid.  Moms wear lipstick, at least mine always did and does, so when I bought that tube, I had this feeling that I was really solidifying myself in the ranks of motherhood.  Or, in the least, I was finally becoming an adult.  Or something.

I guess, for a very small moment, I wrapped my identity up in the idea of lipstick.  Which seems a strange thing to think unless you know me very well, and then you might know that I’m often thinking about identity (it’s a recurring theme in my life).

I wrote my last post about how motherhood has not so much changed me as it has revealed me.  Since then, I don’t think I have done as much thinking about identity as I really should have2.

You see, I think I lost sight of who I am for a while. I forgot amidst the diapers and papers and books and toys and dinners and studying and everything else that spins around on my plates that, I am, above all, a citizen with God’s people and a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Ephesians 2: 19 &22).

I am not defined by the fact that I’m a mom any more than I’m defined by a silly little tube of lipstick (Coral Ambition to be very specific.  I just took a quick break to put some on). 

I had a thought recently that I have been having somewhat of a suppressed identity crisis. That was quickly followed by a thought that an identity crisis sounded like a pretty bad thing.  Then that really got me thinking.

Isn’t every day an identity crisis?  Words like significant event, radical change, and turning point stand out to me in the definition.  It seems to me that each day I am faced with a choice of what to believe about myself.  The significance of that choice is obvious and the implications are endless.  When I believe lies about who I am and when I lose focus on Truth, I succumb to things like self-pity, fear, despair (and on and on and on). 

I guess I concluded that an identity crisis is not such a bad thing.  A crisis is just a turning point, after all.  It’s what you choose in those moments that have the power to change you.  And, in this moment, I choose Truth.

And lipstick, obviously. 
She knows what's up.  It's like she can see inside my soul.
1 I recognize that this is rather a strange way to begin a blog post after complete radio silence for 6 months and poor “blogsmanship” for the entire year prior.  There are reasons, yes of course there are reasons, but none of them are yet print ready.  So, there you go.  In case you were wondering.

2 This is the most likely reason for the previously mentioned “complete radio silence.” And by “most likely,” I know that it is.  I just don’t want to write about it yet.