Monday, October 26, 2009


I can be terribly indecisive. Giant menus put me into a cold sweat, and that's after the trauma of choosing a restaurant, deciding whether to drive, bike or walk, and what to wear. There are four big yellow squares on the bedroom wall where I once tried out some paint swatches, became paralyzed at the thought of choosing one color for the entire room, and then left a three year (and counting) monument to my indecision.

Tonight I have a decision weighing down that is slightly more significant than choosing colors or ordering dinner. Tomorrow is the deadline to decide if I would like to repeat the toughest, most stretching & challenging (& possibly awful) experience of my life. Or another way of saying it could be that to
morrow I decide whether I get to live out a life dream & return to something I am deeply passionate about. It's funny how those things go together, isn't it?

There is something about the red dirt of Africa that just gets under your skin-- under your nails, in every little nook & cranny. You love it, you hate it; you can't wait to leave, you need to go back. It's beautiful & painful, makes you want to laugh & cry, scream & bury your head in the sand.

Should we go back? The question has been haunting us for months now, and tonight it seems to echo, demanding an answer. The reasons to go are compelling, heart wrenching, exciting, and all seem to line up. The reasons to stay are sensible, grounded, comforting and desirable.

When we set off a year ago to lead a group of squirrely college students into a refugee camp 30mi South of the Sudanese border, we were sure. We knew that God wanted us there, that we were following Him, and that whatever happened, we were doing the right thing. We said that we would never want to do something like that without the same assurance.

And here we stand, at the crossroads, waiting for the writing in the sky.

As I lay on the grass in the park today, praying for guidance, the wind blew the clouds into big arrow shapes-- pointing away from the City, and roughly in the direction of Uganda. So, I suppose that if we were looking for writing in the sky, that would be our answer... but somehow I don't feel entirely comfortable basing my decision on cloud shapes.

The question is: What do we do when the reasons are equally compelling both directions? We've prayed, we've fasted, we've sought direction, wisdom & guidance. We've searched our hearts & desires (which seem to flip flop about 3 times a day). Little coincidences pop up that seem like signs, situations seem to line up, but they are never definitive.

The feeling is not unlike standing at the counter of a restaurant, skimming the menu as the line piles up behind you. You know you have to make a decision, but nothing pops up. At that moment, I usually blurt out the first salad that my eyes lay hold of. As the line piles up, though, I feel strangely at peace. I've done all I can do, and although the decision is weighty, knowing that God brought us through the hardest experience of my life once before helps give me peace as I face it again.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Swing of Things

I confess, I was actually a little bit jealous of all those people who had the flu this week. That's not to say that I actually wanted to feel miserable, but the weather was stormy and cold, and it was all I could do to keep myself from crawling back into bed... or laying on the couch with a box of kleenex, a pot of tea, and all three extended Lord of the Rings DVDs. Of course, as luck would have it, I did end up coming down with a cold on Friday (The nerve! Those germs could at least have had the decency to show up on a Wednesday), but had to push through and forgoe the cloudy day with Frodo.

It's not that anything was tragically wrong, or even overwhelmingly stressful, it was simply that initial push to get back into the swing of things. After traveling for two weeks, I felt a little bit like those cartoons with an Inbox piled to the ceiling, threatening an avalanche. And for some reason, it was just one of those weeks where life has lost it's sparkle and work felt lackluster. I would wake up in the morning, take an Airborne to fight off the cold that I wish I had, look at my To Do list and groan.

When you push-start a car, it's always those first few steps that are the hardest, working up momentum and getting things rolling. Not only has my week felt that way with work, but my thoughts seem to be congested in my mind, as well. For what feels like ages, I've been chewing on ideas & words, and have had so much to say that it all seems to get clogged on the keyboard. I've tried writing them down several times, only to get stuck and give up. So this is my first stab-- getting the ball rolling so that the keyboard doesn't get jammed.

Yesterday helped. Yesterday, I felt the clouds lift (quite literally) as we took the pup for a hike up in Mill Valley-- which is just as good as watching all three Lord of the Rings, because Mill Valley could double as a set for the movies. The base of the trail is dark and wet and mossy, and we followed a tiny stream back a bit into the forest. As we worked our way up, the sun peaked through, the leaves were changing colors, and Gavin dove headlong into bushes chasing after lizards (I swear, he's going to lose an eye one day).

Chris & I talked about the heaviness that seemed to be on both of us this week, and something about being out in the sunlight and breathing in the eucalyptus made everything seem a little more doable.

Even today, when the clouds rolled back in and my cold threatened to weigh me
down, the air of that hike stayed on me. I had to fight for it-- work hard to keep the momentum going. I might have overdone it, too, because after riding our bikes to church , I thought I was going to pass out. But after spending the day making a giant pot of homemade chili (seriously, we're going to be eating this chili for weeks), and watching the dog swim in a pond at the park, I feel like I just might be able to face the coming week without pretending to call in sick.

That's not to say that I'm actually looking forward to Monday morning, but at least I've got the ball rolling.