Torrential

The view from my back yard is serene, with one lovely pink rose blooming. Just blocks away, a torrential river divides my city, as our South end is cut off from the North end by a raging 500-year flood. The images are captivating and horrifying. This is most certainly my first experience of seeing such pervasive disaster and media coverage that is actually within arm’s reach. I find myself vigilant, wide-eyed and trying to find something for my hands to do. Our house is peaceful even as thousands of people in Lyons are right now being evacuated by the National Guard because their city became a series of deserted islands with no power, water or stability. These moments remind me that no matter how powerful we make ourselves out to be, we humans are really just specks in the universe. We think we are so smart and able to tame this wild world. Nope.

Days like these past days force us to completely stop. Really, is it the end of the world if we miss two days of work? Or more? I think the world will keep spinning without us pushing a few computer buttons. These are also the days where we must find and act out true, lasting compassion. I am preaching to myself here too. Perhaps we can learn to conserve more resources, to spend time on what is really important in this life and to line our actions up with our words. This is all what I ponder as the gray sky blankets our city, with more promises of rain, more roads washed out, more hope and stability needed. Already good and beautiful stories are coming out of this event. I hope we can all build even more strength and response. I hope we can all realize that while we may be a tiny force compared to weather patterns, earth quakes, tornadoes, blizzards and hurricanes, our response and tenacity for life will anchor us. Perhaps this 500-year flood will wash away some of the petty crutches we lean on.

And while half of my brain recognizes mortality and insignificance, the other half radiates with belonging. When we sit down in God’s presence and spend the night protected by His shadow, we can trust Him because He is our refuge and safety. He rescues us from hidden traps and dangers and deadly traps. His huge outstretched arms protect us (See Psalm 91). My hope for all of us is that we take God down from a man-made throne of destruction and we recognize His heart for each of us … personal relationship and love, significance and restoration. Here is my rhythm for today:

Psalm 93

God is King, robed and ruling,

God is robed and surging with strength.

And yes, the world is firm, immovable,

Your throne ever firm—you’re Eternal!

Sea storms are up, God,

Sea storms wild and roaring,

Sea storms with thunderous breakers.

Stronger than wild sea storms,

Mightier than sea-storm breakers,

Mighty God rules from High Heaven.

What you say goes—it always has.

“Beauty” and “Holy” mark your palace rule,

God, to the very end of time.

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Here is a photo taken by my friend Stephanie from her apartment window in Boulder last night

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Here is the road heading up to Estes… we traveled this just last weekend to go up to the Scottish-Irish festival! This is so surreal.

Also, here is a great footage video!

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Dream Thread

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This past spring, I faced many heart decisions. Coming down the home stretch of my pregnancy, a chilly fear attempted to settle on my soul. How would I deal with this huge shift into motherhood? Who would I be in the middle of these new family demands? You see, I was raised by a pioneer woman. My mom’s brilliant creativity and talent always blazed a trail through normal. She sang, danced, and acted. She ran away from college and joined a touring bar band in Canada. She came back to college and eventually earned a Ph.D. She started a children’s theater. She has changed careers several times. Now she teaches. And I was born in the middle of everything. My main memories of her are how much she has always loved me and how much she has always let me be in the center of her life. She gave me a strong work ethic and the imagination to re-invent myself over and over again. But what does it mean for me to be a mother?

I have always wanted a baby. However, I have never been a very good housewife, and when I bemoan this, Matt always tells me he didn’t marry me for my housewifery skills, and he would rather me philosophize all day if that is what my heart desires (this is usually the case). I knew having a baby would shift a lot around. One month before Elleanna came into this world, I was offered a full time teaching job in a far away state. This was a dream job of teaching full time as a journalism instructor and even under a few of my mentors! Oh how we agonized. Oh how I ached with the physical pain of the last month of pregnancy. Oh how I considered every piece of me. You see, Elleanna is one of the sweetest dreams to ever come true for me, and I find it ironic that on the cusp of this fulfillment, I was offered another path entirely. I am not saying that because I am a mom I am now only a mom. I am saying that after a full week of wrestling and sleepless nights, we decided to say no and stay here, and hope that maybe someday another door would open.

I struggled with feeling like I chose comfort over adventure. Even now some days I find myself daydreaming of what it all would have felt like to pioneer a new trail. Other days I am a happy fully soaking sponge, enjoying life as it is now. Baby love is hard and delicious, and we already chug along like a well-oiled family unit. Some days expectations get the best of me. I want it all – a better physique, a fulfilling career, time to volunteer, time to research and be well-read, time to be the best mother possible, time to be the best wife possible, time to have a sparkling house (actually, I wish a magic house fairy would come and spare me these constant cleaning chores).

So who am I now in the middle of all of these changes? My days are full, and for the first time in my life, I understand why people just want to veg in front of the TV sometimes. After a full day of baby wrangling, I just need a break. I have a hard time reading through a full book right now, let alone apply for more grad school. And other days I find myself thoroughly enjoying this slower season of less commitments and the pursuit of chasing baby smiles.

This past Sunday the associate pastor at my church presented a simple yet striking message. He challenged us to search our hearts and find what is our “dream thread” – what ties together the best days and the worst days? What keeps our hearts beating? What emerges as purpose over and over again as life’s seasons move on? I found myself thinking of some pretty high days… my wedding day, the day we found out we were pregnant, graduations, etc. and some low days… getting dumped by a college boyfriend, the death of a young cousin, the estrangements of heart friends. But I have to say my heart thread resonates best with the surprisingly calm moments. On big important days, I am often so nervous and high strung that I don’t really register what is going on. I have found the most delight in marriage when Matt and I have deep conversations over a cup of coffee or a drive somewhere. I have found the sweetest moments with my baby girl as I get up with her to nurse in the middle of the night and she sighs with relief that I have come for her, and I stroke her sweet mop of untamable hair and try to keep my bleary eyes open. I am finding job satisfaction in light bulb moments with students, connecting with an interesting person over an interview and writing.

I wonder, as I battle the ebb and flow of expectations, if shooting for the moon means I miss what is right in front of my face. I hope I will look back at my life and see these simple things as worth the ride. I hope there will be a time when we can risk it all and prove what we are made of. I hope we will always know when to pull back and wait.

“Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young,

Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes,

Before your vision dims and the world blurs

And the winter years keep you close to the fire.

In old age, your body no longer serves you so well.

Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen.

The shades are pulled down on the world.

You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt.

The hum of the household fades away.

You are wakened now by bird-song.

Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past.

Even a stroll down the road has its terrors.

Your hair turns apple-blossom white,

Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body.

Yes, you’re well on your way to eternal rest,

While your friends make plans for your funeral.

Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over.

Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends.

The body is put back in the same ground it came from.

The spirit returns to God, who first breathed it.”

Ecclesiastes 12: 1-7