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Awakening Starts with Prayer

Mark 11:22-25 Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”

I like prayer because it reminds me that we have a relational father. A relational God. I heard once that our view of God is tied so closely with our view of our parents. 

In Chicago I worked with someone who grew up in Cabrini Green- a hard place to experience childhood in the South side of Chicago. He said one of the obstacles for faith initiatives in the inner city is teaching kids about God, the father. Because often, kids have a view of father that is unavailable, totally absent from their life. That makes me sad. 

So I started thinking, what’s my view of God. Is he like the all-knowing dude who creates us, winds us up and then let’s life happen as he hangs out in the clouds. Or he is legalistic where we must do good works to gain his approval. Or is he wise and strong like Gandalf from Lord of the Rings with a long beard? Does God care about a relationship- or just a conversion point? Do I view God as passive? Or active? Or Kind? Or caring? Or available? 

Sometimes I think God might be too busy for me- like there are kids dying of AIDS in Africa and really horrific things going on in the world that break my heart. So my ‘please help me be a better version of myself because sometimes I feel unfixable’ prayer seems a little trite. 

But God is bigger than that. It doesn't matter if the darkness is personal like Paul’s thorn in his side, or my constant need to accept and receive grace, or if it’s global like racism, or the beyond crappy stuff happening in Syria, prayer invites light into dark places. 

One time someone told me to ‘let go and let God.’ 
I had an urge to punch that person because I don’t really know what that means on a practical level- especially when I’m going through a hard time. But I do know that God does powerful things. And I have seen bold prayers move boldly in some of my friends and family. And I have seen light brought to really dark situations in some of the people closest to me. 

At the end of the day I think what we have to offer each other is prayer and relationship.
Mark 11:22-25 punctuates that. 
Following Jesus’ leadership looks like praying boldly for God to do God’s work. 
Awakening starts with prayer.  

Where in your life do you need to experience God’s boldness? What ‘mountains’ need moved in your life? Can you bring those bold prayers to God?

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Be Who You Are

I'm 34. Maybe it's time to just start being who I am. I have brown straight hair that sometimes decides to fall out and I dangle more than I used to (thank you Amelia).  I'm dorky and awkward and honest to a fault. I'm addicted to chapstick, gum, and bagels.

Sometimes I pretend I have it together and that I don't need help.
Sometimes I pretend that I like small talk.
Sometimes I pretend that being a mom is easier than it looks (Did I mention Amelia puked on me this week- she had chili for lunch.)

When we moved to Colorado, I made a conscious decision: I will just be me. It was the best advice I ever received when I was interviewing. Just be you. So beyond the workplace, I want relationships where I can be Hanna. And where the other person can be the other person.

Life will be easier if we all just be our awkward honest selves.

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It's okay

I remembered 2 things today. 

 

The first: it’s okay. 

 

It’s okay that in 15 days at 6am, we’ll lock our doors and pull out of our driveway for the last time. It’s okay that we don’t know what’s ahead of us. It’s okay that not all of our family understands why we would pack up and move to Colorado. We don’t fully understand it either. It’s okay that things in my life are largely imperfect and I can’t make them perfect. It’s okay that people (even those closest to me) think, act, love, fill-in-the-blank different than me. I have a tendency to be critical of those differences but I can choose to love them instead. It’s okay that my days go almost always not according to my plans. Welcome to parenthood- but really, welcome to life. It’s okay that my time in Chicago is ending- even if I’ve been begrudging towards it ending. And finally, it’s okay to feel equal parts of the entire emoji spectrum (insert the following emojis: 😊smiley, 😿cat crying, 😂hysterically laughing smiley, 👻ghost, 💾floppy disk, 🙄rolling eyes smiley, and 🏃running guy).

 

As for the second thing I remembered today: It’s already been forgotten. 

And that’s okay too. 

 

👍

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What's My Purpose?

After a call to my parents yielded little results with getting an answer to life’s burning question: What’s my purpose? I went to the next best place. But to my chagrin googleing, What should I do with my life, didn’t produce any profound results either. I was left with a few links to Buddha-themed websites and a list of self-help books on amazon. Apparently finding your purpose isn’t as easy as it was portrayed on ‘The Jerk”. I need more than an ashtray and a chair… and some rhythm.

Since I can’t foreshadow the future, I spent some time reflecting on what I learned in the past year. Hoping that maybe the past 12 months would illuminate some grand insight about my next step. And unfortunately/fortunately this is not an exhaustive list.

  1. I’m mostly under prepared for everything in life—including (but not limited to) being a parent.  Thanks to the internet I can read lots of opinions about being a parent but none of those opinions really matter.  It’s the lessons learned in the doing.
  2. Rolling with the punches is really hard. I’ve finally conceded. Parenting has been a lesson in giving over what power I thought I had to this tiny human being.  So long easy shopping trips, quiet car rides, free time, eating slowly, clothes that stay clean for an entire day, and good bye to letting the sun rise before me.
  3. Parenting is rewarding. And so is working. And so is being a good friend. And so is being a loving wife.
  4. If I’m working, I want to be at home. If I’m at home, I want to be working. Each decision I make about how I spend my time carries enough weight to crush me with guilt. I have to constantly make the decision to be okay with my choices.
  5. When in doubt, don’t judge.
  6. If you’re still in doubt, be kind… even when you’re tired and self-righteous. 
  7. Get outside everyday.
  8. Being a parent will trigger all insecurities you’ve ever had (even the ones that you pushed deep down and thought disappeared). Decide to love yourself anyways.
  9. Sometimes life is just hard. And you can’t think about how hard it is. Instead you just decide to take one step forward and get done what needs to be done.
  10. If your upper lip needs waxed- wax it (instead of blaming it on constant bad lighting that produces too many shadows). And then call your mom and let her know you’ve experienced another rite of passage. Please read #5 and then #8.
  11. Thank your parents for loving you. And getting you this far. And for putting up with your crazy self when you were a sticky-hands-in-everything-toddler, and during your 7th grade awkward-training-bra phase, and during your high school mean streak, and during your college find-your-self-days, and when you were in your 30’s.  And thank them for listening to you rant. Always.

Cheers to another year of lessons and hopefully a little bit closer to finding out my life’s purpose. ☺

Love and peace to your soul,
Hanna







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Here's to you 2016!

Hi 2016!!! I can already tell you’ll be awesome.  So far you’ve filled my life with time to make chowder (which is pounced shou-dare in our house), put away Christmas decorations, and a color in a coloring book.  This year I’m not even hoping that you’ll be filled with easy sun drenched days—that’s just an added bonus. I’m mostly looking for growth and for you to remind me to be kind to those I love most. And to those I love least.

The year before you felt full.  Tiny humans will do that—fill your days with a rhythm that consists of 80% cleaning up bodily fluids and the other 20% made up of preparing for the next hour of the day. I have never worked so hard to keep my house marginally clean. Or myself marginally fed marginally healthy food.  But don’t get me wrong, 2015 was a good year. I have a healthy baby, a loving husband and I’m pretty grateful (on days when I’m not cynical).

Life could be a lot harder, a lot colder, a lot tougher but it’s not. And I’m grateful that Amelia smiles, I’m grateful that she can breathe, I’m grateful that I can laugh (and cry), I’m grateful that I have money to buy wipes to clean smeared poop off Amelia’s back. I’m grateful I have a car with heat that works. I’m grateful I have a husband who can diffuse my temper and still wants to hug me even when I’m unreasonably pouty. I’m grateful our house has windows that let the sunlight in. I’m grateful that God gave someone the idea to invent gummy bears.  And thanks French people for good French press coffee.

So here’s to you 2016. That you’ll remember to be gentle with my heart and if you have magic powers maybe you can help keep my bad moods in check. And if not, just send me not-so-subtle reminders throughout the next 363 days to be thankful for the things that fill my life that I all too often overlook.
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You Are Not Alone.


Don’t forget this moment… don’t forget this moment… don’t forget this moment. I repeated these words over and over again and hoped I would remember every part of feeling the weight of Amelia’s 7-month-old body lean into me as she fell asleep in my arms. Out of all the senses smell has the strongest link to memory. I leaned over to smell Amelia’s breath. Still smells like baby. And her head smells like baby. And I like that.

But just as I settled into the joy of holding Amelia, my inexperience got the best of me. I remembered reading you’re not supposed to let babies fall asleep with a bottle because it rots their nonexistent teeth. I reminded myself- don’t tell anyone you did this. I don't think you’re supposed to rock your baby while she's sleeping either because it creates some kind of unhealthy dependence on the rocking being necessary for baby to stay asleep.  And I made another mental note- don’t tell anyone you rock your baby to sleep.

With so many parenting theories and parenting experts, I've become timid about sharing  my parenting ups and downs. I’m afraid that someone will figure me out- that I’m phony.  That I'm not an expert.  I’m mostly insecure about every parenting decision I have ever made and I'm only 7 months in. 

When Amelia was the size of a grapefruit and an ultrasound revealed cysts in her chest, a friend gave me a beautiful card with the reminder: You are not alone. There’s truth to that.  When I’m rational (which isn’t as often as I’d like) I know that even though parenting feels both intensely lonely and overwhelmingly suffocating, I’m not alone.  I’m not the first woman to struggle with feeling insecure about caring for my baby. And I’m not the last. I’m not the first woman to rock her baby to sleep and feel God’s sweetness. And all the books in the world, could never teach me how to be Amelia’s mom.

When Amelia was the size of a large watermelon (after she was born), my dad looked at the tower of books on parenting theories on our coffee table and asked, have you learned more from the books or from experience? My dad is wise like that- he throws out questions without you even realizing there’s a lesson waiting for you on the other side.  Experience is a good teacher. And so tonight I'll put the guilt aside and feel the joy and peace that comes from sitting in a quiet room watching my baby’s chest go up and down as she sleeps.
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We Make Small Arguments Big

Walking up to the front door I noticed a gray motionless mouse complete with a long motionless tail. I gagged and ran to the back door to enter the house. While I began the important work of layering plastic grocery bags within themselves to create an appropriate thickness for picking up a dead mouse, I wondered why Brandon would let this happen. Somehow me shoveling* a mouse to its grave had become Brandon’s problem.  A few weeks ago I heard a mouse chomping on a Werther’s wrapper in my closet at 3a.m. And that was Brandon’s problem too.  My rationale: because he’s the one who eats Werther’s candy and the wrappers have more longevity than cockroaches — they can make it through an entire laundry cycle without any change.

Somewhere along the line I decided that dealing with mice was something that would be on Brandon’s list. Like the awesome wife I am, I never communicated this decision but I have become overwhelmingly frustrated about having proximity to a mouse (mice).

I think frustrations come easier when you’re tired. 

I think frustrations come easier when you’re learning how to be a parent.

I think frustrations come easier when you just want to be selfish.

Like any good martyr, I gave Brandon the cold shoulder and reminded myself: I am a strong independent woman. But the truth is I’m not feeling that strong these days.  And the truth is I want his help and need his help. But instead of asking for help and communicating what’s going on, I make small arguments bigger by responding at an off-the-charts intensity. So when Brandon responds in a not 100% awesome way, I jump at the opportunity to be angry.

So then Brandon’s all like ‘what the heck’ and responds with an off-the-charts intensity back.  And so a tiny argument, the size of a small mouse, becomes a big argument. It’s kind of our thing. 

But tonight Brandon said he was sorry. And I said I was sorry. And looking back I hate how I responded. And looking back he hates how he responded. So maybe next time we can meet each other at a lower intensity.  And keep our mouse-sized arguments the size they are meant to be.

R.I.P my little gray friend, R.I.P.



*Um, no amount of bags would have been enough for me to pick up a dead mouse. I’m not that tough. I do get credit for trying though.  But when I started to feel the weight of the lifeless mouse in my hand (even through an entire month’s worth of plastic bags) I screamed and dropped it.


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