Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Creation at the Zoo

I am an animal lover and a nature lover.
That might be an understatement.

I cried at a rodeo once.
I'm not into the circus...

and, I have always loved the zoo.

This is a paradoxical love, because while nothing compares to looking in the eyes of a tiger (behind glass), or to watching a mama orangutang nurse her baby, or seeing a king cobra slither by (behind glass), my heart aches for their loss of freedom- for life in a cage or an 'enclosure'.

I have to say- it seems to me that the zoos I have spent time at (San Diego, Denver, Fort Worth) have all worked very hard to ensure the health and well being of their animals- providing a natural environment, a healthy diet and exercise... I know they live a good life... but still.. it's a little bit sad.

However, my sadness is overpowered by love when a day at the zoo intersects with my love for the story of creation.

What wonder! What mystery!

Did you know a viper can lift its body up to stand six feet tall to look you in the eye?

Have you seen the face of a stingray?

Watched the way a monitor lizard glides through the water, it's legs moving like she is crawling up a mountain?

Enjoyed the flying acrobatics of ring-tailed lemurs? Tugging on each others tails and running for cover...

Looked in the eyes of a komodo dragon, or a 15 foot crocodile, or a white tiger?

Watched a 130 year-old tortoise eat strawberries- it's beak-like mouth moving side-to-side?

We have spent a lot of time at the Fort Worth Zoo this year (and I do mean a lot). Each time I go I am so filled with wonder I can hardly contain myself.

I am so amazed at this creation.
How can this be?
How can life be so diverse, so full of mystery?
How could our Creator form and mold each of these brilliant creatures?
And us too?
This diverse wholeness of humanity?

What wonder! What mystery!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Live like a traveler...

What would it look like if we lived like a traveler?

Not like a tourist, but like a traveler...

We would have to...

Pack light,
less concerned with accumulation, and more concerned with flexibility...

Carry a sense of wonder, curiosity and awe,
Ready to explore, try new tastes, open to new sights and sounds...

Embrace a spirit of openness,
let go of judgement and learn from our surroundings with humility and grace...

Live in the present,
free of schedules and pressing to-do lists...

Pack out what we pack in,
aware of what we use and how we use it...

Leave things better than we found them...

What if we lived right where we are for just one week- as a traveler....

What would we see?
Who would we meet?
What new foods could we try?
What conversations could we stumble upon?

Do you want to try this with me? Try to live like a traveler, for just one week?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

holes and holiness

Being Mom to Ryan is inevitably different than being Mom to Mia and to Faith.

Ryan is a boy. A very active, energetic boy. Some might say, 'a handful' ;)

Ryan looks different that me, so people often look at us different and ask different questions of us.

Ryan is four- curious, adventurous- and four.

I have learned so much from Ryan. I've learned about love, patience, anger, sadness, and healing. I've learned about teaching boys to pee standing up, reading books about trucks and tractors, play fighting with sticks, and have learned some crazy karate and dance moves. I love his laughter, his big smile, and his pure joyful spirit.

Ultimately- as with all human stories- I find that our story is one of brokenness and wholeness- of holes and holiness.

Last week we were at a beach in Corpus Christi when a group gathered next to us. About twenty Filipino people gathered- families laughing, playing, enjoying vacation. The women sat in a group of chairs laughing and talking, the men sat in the back watching
and sharing. The kids played in the sand, building castles and digging.

Watching this community my heart ached for Ryan. I ached for the loss of his Filipino culture, that he will never have a mom whose face looks like his, who makes lumpia and chicken adobo, and serves fish for regular family meals. Who laughs and sings in Tagalog and dances traditional Filipino dance.

The reality is that as much as we try to ensure he knows the Filipino culture, he will never know it as he would being raised in it.

Now, I know this is not the future he would have seen in the Philippines. Born in an area of extreme poverty, and brought to an orphanage at 5 days old- this family is not the family he could have ever
experienced there. I know the gift of his life here. I know the gift he is to our family.
But that does not take away the holes.

As we journey together, Mama and son, I hope I can recognize the holes, while also living fully into the holy joy of loving relationship.

That's what family is about- right?

We are all full of holes and holiness.

to Plug-in or to Un-plug?

How do we find balance in sharing and connecting on-line?

There are so many beautiful things about the internet... I have to say- I am grateful for the sense of community I feel on facebook, blogs, email (haven't yet found the joy of twitter..).

But, at the same time, all of these can also bring this sense of pressure, need to share, guilt for not sharing enough, insecurity of sharing too much.. feelings of inadequacy.

How can we find balance in this world of excess information- of constant opportunity for connection- which can, ironically, lead to isolation?

How do we find rhythm and balance?

How can we utilize and be a part of this incredibly connected world community, this web of life, words, pictures, friendships, information, humor, and support, without getting trapped by the 'if it didn't get posted to the internet then it didn't really happen' mindset?

How can we maintain true, deep, human physical connections, while also appreciating the tools available though our little phones, and glowing computer screens?

What do you think? How do you find balance and rhythm in the technological community?

(image from :

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chaos, Beauty, and Foot Washing

Tonight I did something a little risky.

We are in the midst of our Vacation Bible School program at Ridglea.
This church is a little smaller, a little rough around the edges, and honestly, just plain Holy.

Our VBS story was from Genesis 18:1-9. 'Abraham greets his guests with hospitality'.
[We leave out the next part of the story, when Abraham's nephew Lot's house guests get threatened by rape, so Lot throws his daughters under the bus and offers them up in exchange for the safety of the strangers... ]
anyway... I digress... back to the beautiful chaos.

So- I decided to do a foot washing service with the kiddos.

The kids were a little off the wall tonight. Three groups of kids, ages, 3-5, 6-7 and 8-10.

Of course the most rambunctious were the little ones. As they bounced around the room, crawled under the chairs and made 'toot' noises, I wondered if this had been a bad choice.

Just when I thought I should push the eject button and move on to plan B, they surprised me.

After rushing through the story (if you can hear me, clap once) I called the first child to the little chair and asked her to take off her shoes.

The children went silent.

[The older children expressed embarrassment over their dirty feet, and disgust at the thought of washing their friend's gross feet]

The little ones stepped right up, took off their shoes, and sat down.

I washed the first little one's feet, slowly pouring the cold water over her dust covered summer feet. As the water hit, her little toes curled, and her face lit right up.

I looked in her eyes and said "Mbote" (Langala for welcome- we are learning about the DR Congo). She then moved to the place of foot washer, as the next child moved into the chair and peeled off his shoes.

One by one each child sat in the chair and let the cool water move over their feet and through their toes.

One by one each child took the ceramic pitcher in their hand and nervously tipped it to spill the blessed water onto the feet of their new friend.

They looked at each other and said 'mbote'. Welcome.

Welcome, Holy Spirit. Welcome.


Perhaps they have already forgotten this experience.

Or, perhaps they sensed a small piece of the Spirit of God and heard a message of welcome. Welcome into the beauty and chaos of life lived in relationship with God and our community of dirty, dusty feet.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A prayer for today...

Let me be confident enough to keep moving.
To let the words out of my mouth, to let the letters off of my pen.

Let me be humble enough to listen.
To be open to God's overwhelming presence in others.
To remember my own smallness.

Let me be confident enough to see my own gifts,
to live fully into your light.

Let me always recognize your light in others,
and live in awe of your diverse creation.

God please grant me gentle humility, quiet confidence, nurturing strength.
Let me be grounded, present and always aware of your love.