Thursday, March 21, 2013

The thing we don't talk about

Why don't we talk about sex?

I mean married people, why don't we talk about sex?

Especially sex after children.

I am convinced that we could fill books with horror stories about the times we accidentally walked in on our parents doing it and now we are just waiting for the day it happens to us.  Or all the ways we have to maneuver "quality time" with our spouse while our children watch TV, sleep, play outside, or even while having dinner.  I mean when five minutes presents itself, you just have to take it.

I had a friend tell me one time that her children wanted to know what her and her husband were doing in there for so long.

She told them they were jumping on the bed.

I remember how I felt right after we had each of our three children.  I had someone in my personal space every minute of every day.  I was holding someone, someone was pulling on my leg, someone was breastfeeding, and the worst was following me into the bathroom.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE MY CHILDREN.  I don't wish them away from me, I desire for them to draw close to me.  But I would be lying if I said 5 minutes to myself didn't sound like heaven.  (OK...10 min, maybe more.)  But someone was ALWAYS touching me.  Did I make that clear?

ALWAYS. TOUCHING. ME.  And it would drive me insane.

Then my husband would give me that look, and please forgive me, but really, when he wanted to snuggle close and get "reconnected" it just felt like one more person in my personal space.  And the really sad part is, I really like getting "reconnected".  My husband is the sexiest man I know, and even more, he is immensely generous and good to me.  I love him.

But right after children, it felt like his greatest gift to me was leaving me alone and letting me sleep.

One time in the midst of being busy and having lots of things to do, and lots of lists to keep track of all that I had to do, my husband gently looked at me and said, "How do I get on the To Do list?"

After having children, finding the time to have sex is like a big strategic game of "Chess".  Every move you make effects the next 12 moves of the game.  If I wash the dishes for her and sweep the floor then she will be in a better mood.  If I read to the kids now, they will play nice after, which means I can get dinner done on time, which will put us on schedule for bedtime if I can keep one kid from terrorizing their brother.  If my spouse puts the kids to bed, then I can get supper cleaned up which will help put her in the mood, and then maybe, if there is any shred of energy left after wrestling the kids to sleep, we can have "Marriage counseling".   (That's our code word here.  We figure if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then time in the bedroom, or closet or bathroom or wherever the kids won't find you, keeps the therapist away.  So far our form of Marriage Counseling is working.)

If you are the parent of small children, you would be lying if this has never happened to you.  Maybe it doesn't happen all the time, but it has happened.  Just own it.

With children around, your youthful body and energy is used on the little people running wild in your home.  You become a machine that cleans and cooks and drives to doctor appointments and school plays and activities.  You are the farmer, financial planner, cook,  counselor, doctor, lawyer, and community activity director.  Even in the midst of simplifying life, children have needs.  Your home has needs.  People need to eat and they need clothes to wear, and they need somewhere to sleep.   They need time to talk with you about issues they are having with friends and school work.  Devotions need prepped, and quality time is a priority for the family.  You give more than 100% each day, and still it's not enough.

But what about the two of you?  The parents who are in charge of it all and struggle to keep their eyes open past 9pm.  I don't know about you, but most of the time I collapse into bed still in my clothes.  I feel guilty and promise to be better about it tomorrow.

How can we find time to reconnect when everything at life is pulling at you and winning.  We give and give and give and after you are covered in food, wearing the same clothes three days in a row, how in the world are you supposed to feel sexy and want to "reconnect"?  Seriously, why can't sweats be a turn on?  Then I am trying to remember that I am a woman first instead of a mom, let alone a wife.

It feels like a cruel joke.

Paul and I have been through many different phases in our marriage where this special time comes easy, and when it's difficult to make it happen.  There are times when the stars align and we find we have energy to invest in this part of our marriage.  Then there are the times when we barricade our door, pretend we don't hear the kids yelling at each other, convinced they will figure it out, and hope against hope we can stay in the mood.

Marriage with young kids is hard.  The demands and questions and decisions you have to make fly at you faster than you can even register what's happening.  You live in a place of being reactive instead of proactive, let alone intentional about "quality reconnect time".

Everything about this subject is tricky.  Even writing about it is tricky.  You have desire meets reality, love vs. responsibility, expectations creating miscommunication.

Paul and I have found that the only way to navigate through these risky waters is to keep talking about it.  We have to keep talking through our mis guided signals.  Our miscommunication.  Our exhaustion. Our need.  Our hurt.  Our desire.

This very specific part of our marriage is a key to its success.  It keeps us connected.  It keeps us attracted and interested in one another.  It keeps our desire and love for one another strong.  But it has also hurt each other.  We have unintentionally wounded each other with our tired rejection, or our words that weren't meant to hurt, but they did.

But to create a thriving marriage, we have to keep talking about it.  Every time our life changes, the rules change, and we have to take the time to talk with one another about how to make time for sex in the new stage of life.

So carry on dear warriors, fighting for your relationship.  Making your marriage a priority.  Connecting and communicating with your partner.  It's more than hard work, it's constant, every changing, reevaluating work.

But it is so worth it.

Even if the only five minutes you can find, finds you in the closet with the door locked.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Feeling exposed and scared out of my mind

It's easy to build self confidence and contentment in the privacy of your own home.  I have done that for years now.  No one to really see the cracks in your defense system.  You can almost pretend they don't exist.

It's terrifying to put yourself out there and wonder.

Will people like me?

How harsh will the judgements be?

I put myself out there when I speak, when I write, when I invite you in to share this life with me.

I have built my career on being authentic and real and transparent, but recently, those limits are getting tested in changing waters.

I never realized how vulnerable it would feel to ask people to support you.  To walk alongside you and say, "I want your dream to come true!"

Because...well...what if they don't?  What if they were just being nice?

The reality is, I only have a voice because of you.  I could write blog after blog, but if no one reads it, then it isn't serving its purpose.

I could write a brilliant faith evoking message, but if no one shows up, then it can't bear fruit.

And I could write a wonderful book full of stories that point toward kingdom living, but if no one buys it, then my ministry lays dormant.  My ministry only exists because there is an audience.

The deep secret fear that seems to be coming up in full force lately is, "What if nobody cares?  What if no one is listening?  What if people will think its stupid?"  And the big one for me is, "What if nobody likes me?"

What does that say about me and my ministry if people don't want to stand behind it?

For the last few years all of my speaking gigs have been lived out where I have felt most comfortable.  My families high need diet being my excuse to not stretch too far outside my comfort zone when it comes to my career.

But here I am now, writing new material.  Searching and preparing for gigs I have never done.

And now I am writing a book.  Yup, I am going to do it and write a book.

This is all new territory.

It's scary as hell.  Can I say that?

I feel exposed.  I feel terrified.  I feel insecure which I haven't felt in years and I don't know what to do with all those feelings.

What if you don't want my book?

What if it's all just a bad idea and I should go back to simply living.  (Not living simple, that is something all together very different.)

To say "it's hard to put yourself out there" is a statement that doesn't quite convey the risk you take in taking a chance.

You put your dreams and hard work out there for others to experience, and the goal is to share Christ through it all.  But its risky to invite you in.  There was a beautiful TED talk that explored the gift of asking.  You can watch it here.

But what if no one is listening?

(If you want to know more about the book, I'm waiting for the promo video to come out and then will invite you all into the project.  I would love the company!)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hope and Despair

I have to laugh that for all the grief I give my husband about a painting that hangs over our couch in our home, I am actually including it in a blog.  

A few years ago, my husbands best friend had a desire to add "artist/painter" to his list of many talents.  He had decided long ago that if he were to ever become a painter, it would start with a large black canvas that had one small white dot on it.  To mock modern art, he would call it "Hope and Despair".  It communicates that no matter how small the evidence of hope may seem, it does change the landscape.  The despair is not untouched.

When our friend turned 40, Paul commissioned him to start his dream, and paint on the largest canvas we could afford.  For days he came to paint.  Lots of pepsi and wine got drank, and the dream became a reality.  I was in full support of my husband trying to help make dreams come true, till I was told that in order to be a true work of art, it is commissioned by someone and hung in their home.  So here it sits, in our home, a big black wall of canvas, reminding us that dreams do come true.

Hope and Despair

When I was driving down our street the other day, I saw this...

It is a large Chalkboard with the painted letters, "Before I die..."  I got really distracted by it and wanted to check it out, so I pulled over and walked right up to it so I could read what people were writing.  This is what I saw.

Amongst the desires for fame you also find hope to know God, hope to end the pain, hope to find love, hope to truly find oneself.  It was simply beautiful.

Here, in my hood where we are frequently on the news for destruction, anger, stealing, killing, rape and fires, I found this.  A long list of hopes and dreams that people have for their future, even in the midst of the despair, hope can be found no matter how small.

I saw a big black canvas written all over with white paint.

Hope is not lost.  Even in the midst of all of the despair, hope can be found.  We can't survive without it.  People here have big dreams of finding love and God and repairing what is broken.  Amazing things happen when we work together towards that dream.

Today I felt like it is well with my soul.

Hope has not been lost.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

When faced with death

My thoughts are jumbled and my emotions are tied in knots.  Fear, sadness, anxiety, hurt, justice, peace and anger all rage war to be the emotion that claims victory over my heart.

I have been in one other waiting room in my life where the patient faced possible death.  I sat with an 18 year old girl in the summer between High School and College when she was supposed to be believe that all things were possible.  I sat there with her and thought, "Her mom is going to come out of this.  They always say there is a chance of death, but it never really happens."

Then the doctor came out, took this young girls hand, and had to tell her that her mother passed.  They couldn't save her.  She was now alone.  Her father died three years earlier, and now, there, on that day, she lost her mother and was alone.  Completely alone.  I understood at that moment the phrase, "the world stopped.  It stops for just a moment."  It's true.  In that moment, the world around you ceases to exists and its like someone hit a pause button.  You pray, you cry deeply with EVERY fiber of your being that you heard them wrong.  Please God, tell them to take it back.  You wonder if you heard wrong, because you know that in that moment the earth stood still for you.  That moment happened eight years ago, but I remember it, I can close my eyes and feel like it was yesterday.

Last week I joined my entire family down in Houston because my cousin Ryan was having life threatening, high risk surgery.  They were removing his lung and tumor, and only one doctor in the country would even attempt this procedure.  If you would like to know more about his condition and story, he is an avid blogger and beautiful writer.  You can read about here

Here is a picture of Ryan at his Cycle for a Cure.

I won't recount his story for you here, but I will tell you my perspective.  I had been home eight hours after speaking at a conference all weekend and Little and I were headed to the airport to fly down to Houston to join all of my family in support of Ryan, his wife Andrea and their two small boys.  My focus had been on work, prepping sitters for the kids, food and the new book launch.  I came home, spent a few precious hours with my family and then Lu and I left.  When you have a 2 year old, flying is a big adventure, and so you play games, sing songs and generally live moment to moment.  Paul had told me before I left, "I am concerned that you haven't processed exactly what you are walking into down in Houston."  I ignored him, knowing he was right, but not wanting to dwell too much on it.

See part of the reason we were down in Houston was to say good bye.  Ryan had less than a 5% chance of surviving this surgery, and so according to statistics, this would be the last time we saw him.  But of course you are hoping, praying, and hoping again that you are really there to help with his recovery.  To be there with his wife and parents and kids.  To give your support.  But in the back of your head, in the dark place you don't want to say out loud because if you say it out loud, God forbid it might come true.  We were there to say good bye.

When Little and I got there we were hugging our family, saying our hello's, thankful for the opportunity to see them, and yet, knowing why we were there.  The joy of seeing them was followed by an immediate heavy feeling of the possibility of death.  Emotions were raw.  We were all holding tightly onto our thoughts and feelings not wanting to reveal what we were thinking or feeling.  The goal was to stay positive and create one last night of wonderful memories with all of us together.

The night before the surgery we all gathered for dinner and celebrated Ryan's wife birthday.  It really was great to see everyone, we don't all live close to one another so this was a rare occurrence.  After the meal was over, the emotions shifted.  The energy in the room changed.  I turned in my chair and saw Ryan sitting quietly in his chair, tears threatening to fall.  My first reaction was hard a blow because I have never once seen him falter in his positive attitude towards fighting this cancer.  Now I understand that I don't live with him and there is no way that he could be positive every moment of every day, but as a dedicated reader of his blog, I know that he chooses to be positive as much as he possibly can.  Seeing the reality of what he was choosing to do, seeing his humanity in that moment brought all the emotions I was trying to avoid come flooding into my heart.

Ryan was choosing this surgery to give him the best chance of living cancer free.  But the risks were incredibly great.  The risk of death was high, and in that case, he would be leaving a wife, a three year old and a 9 month old son.  Two children who, if he died, eventually would have no memories of their father.  He had to choose a surgery that meant, he was in truth, saying I can die at this moment and I will accept that.

I watched him in that chair trying not to loose his emotions.  He was surrounded by his family and I would assume was feeling the weight of his choice and potentially his last night with everyone.

How does one even comprehend those emotions and choices?  I found I was hugging my daughter harder that night.  I kept thinking how incredibly brave and courageous he was that night to willing make that choice so that he could against the odds, live a longer life with his family.  He was so brave, and full of courage, and I would assume, so alone in that moment.  Completely and utterly alone in his thoughts and emotions.  Even surrounded by the people who know and love him the most, no one could imagine what he was going through.  He was alone in thoughts.  He was alone in feelings.

And my heart broke for him.  My heart broke for his family.  I hated sin in that moment.  I really hated it.  Call me ignorant, or simple minded, and maybe my faith is simplistic, but I don't get angry at God in those moments.  In the moments of complete and utter fear of the circumstances around me.  I get angry at the fact that sin is apart of our world.  That we invited in.  That we have to live with our consequences on this earth until we are made perfect in eternity.

Please hear me, I am not saying that because of Ryan's sin, God gave him cancer.  I am NOT saying that.  What I am saying, is that we live in a sinful world full of brokenness, disease, death, and tragedy.  No one is untouched by it, and just because you are a child of God, doesn't give you a get out of jail free card to pain.  We are all touched by and live in a sinful place.

And maybe the reason you could call my faith simplistic is because I have personally been untouched by tragedy.  Those closest to me have been inflicted with much pain and disease and tragedy, so I am not a stranger to it.  I don't ever view God as a bystander, just watching horrible events take place.  I never wonder where he is, or question why he doesn't stop tragedy from our lives.  I guess I have always understood that he can't stop it for everyone.  If he stopped death, disease, and tragedy from everyone, than we would be in heaven.  I also understand and have experienced the peace and healing and life giving relationship with God that comes out of such pain and hurt.  I have seen redemption be born out total darkness.  I have witnessed the body of God raise up to their calling and help and be responsible for those who have been broken.  It is the most beautiful thing to behold, watching God's children living as God intended by loving others in their pain.  Experiencing them sacrificing themselves for others.  We don't get those beautiful moments of joy and depth without the pain.

Would I rather see Ryan completely healed and healthy and free of pain.  Of course I would.  I would choose that.  But God is doing something with this story.  He is working in Ryan's life.  He is bringing healing and he is raising up the body of God around him.  There is redemption happening there.

So in my moment of feeling his loneliness, with a lifetime of memories of my cousin, and complete awareness of his choice, all my tears threaten to fall.  I didn't just want to cry, I wanted to sob and cry out and let the emotions take over so I could feel the depth of them, and then let them go.  I went to him, kissed him on the cheek and told him I loved him.  I had no words of wisdom and nothing profound to say.  What I wanted him to know is that his life mattered and changed me.

Then I walked out with my daughter and my dad and sobbed.  The unflattering cry where tears mix with snot and your whole face is wet and red.  I just allowed myself to feel for him, for the hurt of so many others who have been touched by uncontrollable pain.  That night all our hearts were heavy.

How do you live in a reality of something dark and scary, but try to hold onto a little bit of hope?  Those emotions are so conflicting with one another, its hard to let either one win out.  You don't want to hope so much that the reality will be hard to accept.  And you can't let go of any glimpse of hope, because living becomes impossible.

So it brings me back to the waiting room the next day.  I had nice conversations with uncles and aunts and cousins.  I played games with Little.  And the whole time, even though there might be faint smiles on our faces, we were all just waiting.  Waiting for the bad news, hoping for the good news.

We were told to go back to the hotel because his surgery started later than expected and they didn't need us all there.  That's where we were when we got the news that the surgery went very well and Ryan was in recovery.  My grandmother is the only one who cried out in joy and wept.  We sat there.  Completely shocked.  At least I was.  I couldn't believe how much I was prepared for the bad news.  My own history had prepared me for the worst, but the worst didn't come that day.  We immediately came together and prayed our thanksgiving to God and then I wept.  It was a miracle.  There really is no other option.  It was a miracle.

We are all guaranteed death.  We will all in some way experience pain and hardship and tragedy.  The hard days will come, and maybe they are even already here.  I am a believer that God is still good even in these moments.  I have to believe that.  And I was prepared for that.

But we got life that day.  Ryan got life that day.  His boys got their dad that day.  His wife got her husband that day.  His mom kept her son that day.

And postponing the tragedy just a little bit felt good.

It felt good to celebrate life, even just for a little bit longer till the next hard thing.

Thank you Lord.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

We can't lose hope

We live on the wrong side of the tracks.

We also live on the wrong side of the bridge.

And on the wrong side of the river.

If people are familiar with Minneapolis, then they usually ask, "Where do you live?"  Our response is, "We live in North" the nickname and location of living on the wrong side of...well...everything.

And their look is always the same.  One of fear, sadness, pity.  That is the most common response.  One I was used to when I would tell people I lived near Detroit.  I've been getting that look my whole life.  Now there are some who love North Mpls.  Just like in any urban dwelling there are friends and neighbors who love to create an urban/hipster/artist/liberal/earth conscious environment in the city. We would fall into that category.  But eventually, every person who lives in an urban setting, and one that is known for its long history of crime and abuse, needs to ask,

How long can I live here and still be safe?

As I sit here and write at 2pm in the afternoon, a dear friend of ours is fixing our back door because our home was broken into for the fifth time.  And yes, we do have a security system.  We got that after our house was cleaned out 10 years ago at Christmas and vandalized to a disturbing degree.  With the system in place, we have had four more assaults. (And this is just the personal attacks, whereas our neighborhood  is a place of high activity for random shootings, murders, robberies and rape.  And by neighborhood, I mean our street and back alley.  It is a normal occurrence for friends at parities of ours to come away with some sort of ghetto hood tale to retell when they leave.)  I hesitate to write this because 1. It makes me feel like the girl in an abusive relationship who doesn't know when to leave because she finds an excuse after every attack to stay.  Or 2. We will have even more people joining the campaign to tell us to leave.  I understand, we should move, but truly, I don't want to hear it.  That isn't what this post is about.  And I don't want you to feel sorry for us.  Everyone has struggles in their life, and currently, our neighborhood is ours.  This isn't a contest to see how scary and sketchy our hood is compared to yours, its just our reality.  Simple.

When we first moved into our home there was a host of friends who lived in the hood.  There was talk about how it was a hard place to live, but everyone had hope that it would it would get better.  Slowly, friends were moving away because the crime was hitting closer and closer to home.  And yet, we have remained.  People have slowly been giving up hope that anything will change in North.  That no matter how many young families move in and improve their home, make a life for themselves, they will eventually get scared off and move away.  The others that stay can't afford to leave and so they hunker down in their homes and don't participate in the improvement of the hood.  That was our neighbors story for 30 years, until the tornado came and claimed their house, forcing them to leave.

Five years ago the Lowry Bridge got shut down for repairs and then eventually was blown up to be replaced by a beautiful bridge that was stronger and sturdier than before.  The Lowry bridge is one of the main veins that runs from North Mpls to NE Mpls.  Before the bridge went down, NE Mpls was considered the crime epicenter of our area.  After the bridge went down, it got locked down and concentrated in North.  Crime has since remained and flourished where we live, whereas, NE has become the "New It" place to be.  It's been interesting to watch the transformation of NE Mpls and how the art scene has exploded there.  Old buildings have turned into art warehouses, co-ops have started, small creative consignments shops have started, coffee shops and local cafe's decorate dozens of corners.  Tourists visit Uptown Mpls, locals who know the inside tract hang out in NE, and many are too afraid to come to North.

You can tell that locals here are excited and anticipating the shift of culture for North.  They are hoping that with the bridge opening, which it did this last fall, that the good things that are happening in NE will make its way into our little area.  The warehouse district is also spreading closer and closer to our area.  We are only two miles from downtown and the warehouse district is the "New It" place to live.  So on the other side of the bridge is the New place to be, and the other side of the Highway is the New place to live.  Old buildings are being resurrected.  Art and co-ops and small business are popping up all over.  New life is being breathed into the areas surrounding us, and we wonder,

Can it infiltrate, or will it just compound and lock the crime into our hood?

Two years ago our neighborhood was hit by a tornado.  Though it sounds terrible, and in the moment it was, it has given a face lift to home after home in our area.  For 18 months what was a war zone has turned into a mosaic of beautiful homes.  In my mind, this can only serve to help North siders feel proud of our little hood.  However, we get nervous to hope.  To hope that things can turn around.  To hope that our little hood in Mpls could be a safe place to be after hoping for more than 10 years.

Last summer was the hardest on our family.  Crime has slowly moved closer and closer to our home.  A few years back a girl was murdered in front of our home on the corner.  Two summers ago, I was trampled down by the S.W.A.T. team breaking down our neighbors door looking for stolen weapons.  Last spring while making breakfast we watched the police throw smoke bombs in the home across the alley from us and bring out 5 hostages.  But last summer, in the middle of the night, gunshots and bullets rang out in our backyard and alley.  It brings on a whole new dimension when your husband dives over your body to protect you from stray bullets.  It's when I truly felt scared for the first time.  Things shifted for me then.

How long can you hold out hope that things will change?  10 years ago things were supposed to be looking better for North Mpls, and yet, to me it just feels like it has gotten worse.  Everywhere I turn in my neighborhood there are bars on the windows, gates on the doors, graffiti on the walls and garbage on the street.  So many homes are boarded up and abandoned.  When I drive my kids to school passing business after business gated to protect themselves, I think, what do my children see?  How do I explain to my children that our home got broken into...again... without inflicting fear in them?  How do I create a safe place for them, when our safe place has been robbed?  When the evidence of vandalism is all over our broken back door?  How do I reassure them that they are OK, when I am not even sure I believe it myself.

Today I realized how often my spirit is ready for battle.  I live in a neighborhood where before I leave the house now, EVERY time I leave the house, I need to brace our backdoor with a 2x4 wood beam.  I need to be on guard to keep my family safe, while at the same time resting in trust that God is bigger than our fear.

I want to hope that things are going to be better where I live.  I want to hope that I could feel safe in my home.  Right now my spirit is uneasy as I look at our open drawers that were rummaged through and my bed that was moved around by men who robbed us.  My personal space was invaded again.  Strangers were looking and tearing through our stuff.  And somehow I become distanced from that because, well, its happened before.

This whole post is jumbled in thoughts.  It is fearful and somewhat hopeful that all the good things happening around us could finally come and be apart of us in our neighborhood instead of always just being slightly out of reach.  We live in this confusing place of protecting ourselves, but trying to let go and trust.  Looking over our shoulders waiting for the next attack, but trying not to let fear dictate everything we do.  And finally raising children who see God's goodness in everything.

Living in the hood felt very personal today, and somehow I had let my guard down.  I want to only see the good things happening around us.  The parkway coming to our street, all the community gardens, the park parties.  But I'm not gonna lie, lately, all I see are the bars on the windows and the drug deals happening in the cars in front of our house.  My heart is heavy with the lack of hope I felt today.

When you start to feel hopeless, you realize how important hope is.  We need to have hope.  We need to be able to believe.  Believe that God is still good.  Believe that people can choose love instead of hate.  Believe that people can change.  Hope that sin and hurt won't overtake a city.

When the kids and I talked about the break in today, we prayed for the young men who broke into our home.  And I guess that is what I am asking from you.  We as a family need your prayers.  Prayers to head God's direction for our lives.  Prayers for my children that we as a family can talk about this, but that they won't live in fear.  Prayers that Paul and I can help our children understand. Prayers that hatred and bitterness would not claim our hearts and home. Prayers that we won't loose hope. But prayers especially for the young men and women, not only in North but all over the world that choose hatred and anger, and retaliation for the hurt they are struggling with.  Hatred breeds hatred.  Those that choose to hurt others are deeply hurt themselves, and need our prayers.

Close friends and family asked me today how I was doing.  They showed concern and I am so thankful for them.  I guess this post is my response.  A jumbled, confusing, scattered response.  But that is how I feel right now.  Jumbled.  Confused.  Scattered.

Update:  Sometimes I forget how far these posts go.  Sometimes I write because I need to process what is happening in our lives, and I forget that there are hundreds of you reading it.  Thank you so much for the outpouring of love that you showed me in the last 12 hours.  Thank you for your prayers, and your kind words.  Thank you to my friend who showed up today at my door to visit with me over coffee.  I love being apart of the Church.  The church that lives in the hearts and soul of the people I am honored to call friends and for those I have never met face to face but pray for us anyway.  I want you to know that God has used you all to encourage me and find strength in my trust in our Lord.

There is so much I love about where we live, and it was never my intent to degrade North Mpls. What I will do is give an honest opinion about the fact that here, in this urban setting, we have the gift of daily surrendering our control to God.  We are taught and challenged to trust.  We don't sit comfortably and safe in our home, but many times I see that as a gift.  Yesterday I just didn't want the gift.  I also want to say that we never moved here to this neighborhood to do "ministry".  We do however believe in living as Christ like examples wherever we are, wherever we live, wherever we work.  So we try to shine brightly here.  And when the time comes and we are able to move, we would like to venture a bit more out into the country.  But even if we still decided to move today, we would remain here until our home sold and all was in order, which means we still live in a tension of fear and trust.

Thank you for being being with us.  For loving us and for walking through life with us.