Monday, May 31, 2010


Let me just start by saying that there is great irony in the title of this entry. Silence. I initially wanted to call this silence because it has been so long since I have written in here. I suppose you could call it blog silence. I have not written in here or anywhere else for quite a while. There has been silence, or maybe absence, in some areas of my life.

The irony is that in the midst of that "silence" my life has been full of noise. The noise has been very literal at times, and figurative, yet no less powerful, at other times. Since the new year began, I have changed job responsibilities abruptly, had sick kids a lot, recovered from my own surgery and illnesses, gone through many emotional ups and downs, wrestled with the future, and enjoyed a lot of great moments with my family.

The noise has been both good and bad. It has been encouraging and challenging. Yet for a person that is a natural introvert, the noise gradually builds from sound bites here and there to a constant roar that consumes me. It is the noise of students at work that need so much help in their lives. It is the noise of social media grasping for my attention to make sure I don't miss what is going on in the life of a person I kind of know through an acquaintance. It is the noise of children who want me to delight in them and celebrate their every action. It is the noise of decisions and future plans. The noise of budgets, income, and bills. Everything competes for a bit of my time and attention.

Noise isn't a bad thing. I think that I just find myself getting so overwhelmed by noise at times that I forget to carve out time for being quiet. Time to sit and do nothing. Time to write. Time to read a book that isn't intellectually stimulating. There is no grand point to all of this. I simply am acknowledging that I have let so much noise into my head and life that I have "silenced" some areas of my life that are very important. How often do we sacrifice what is important for what is immediate? How often do I trade what I value for the many things around me that fight for my attention - demanding that they are somehow vital to my life? Am I just afraid of what I will hear when I am silent?

Monday, January 4, 2010

A New Year

So 2010 has started. A new year is supposed to bring new expectations, hope, a fresh start, and even an eagerness for life right? Well I woke up today, after only a couple of hours of sleep, exhausted, in pain, and lacking any motivation whatsoever. The truth is that I am kind of at the end of myself.
2009 was a good year by many accounts. There were no great tragedies in my family. My girls continued to grow and learn and change in wonderful and confusing ways. My job changed several times but finally settled into something more predictable. Really, it would appear that I don’t really have anything to complain about.
But 2009 was also a very hard year. It seems like the last four months of the year at least two out of the four of us were sick with something. And sick with kids means even less sleep than normal. I spent much of the beginning of the year wondering if I would get enough hours at work and then when I got more hours, they restructured and eliminated the additional part time job I had been doing. So I spent a couple more months looking for something in addition to the part time teaching that might allow me to keep some resemblance of a normal schedule. Finally, I was offered a part time job at the school that complemented the teaching hours I already had. While it was a blessing, it was also a tiring process.
Really it seemed like last year was a whole bunch of small things that all added up to slowly drain the energy and eagerness from my soul. Job uncertainty, car troubles, sickness, confusion about the future, lack of sleep, tragedies in the lives of distant friends, and many other small things seemed to slowly chip away at my optimism. I like to think of myself as optimistic, but the process of continually fighting to hang on to a positive outlook actually gets tiring at times.
To top it all off, I finished the year with a surgery that hopefully will clear up some of my own health and fatigue issues, but even that turned out to be more of an undertaking than we ever expected. The doctor said that it would be a quick surgery and I might be sore for a few days or a week. What he failed to say was that “sore” meant in horrible pain even with prescription pain killers and that “a few days” really meant a couple of weeks. So my extra time off during the holidays was spent in pain, very drugged up, unable to do many of the things we had hoped to do, and unable to let Jamie rest much.
So why do I bring all this up? Truthfully, I guess I just want to lay it all out as I see it. Moving on from where we are can be nearly impossible if we don’t know where we are at. Last night at the gathering of our church, The Porch, there was a song played by Aaron Espe called “Faith and Doubt” which can be heard here The song expresses some of how I feel right now. Here are the lyrics:

I read that Jesus walked the stormy sea and he pulled Peter up
Said, Man you gotta believe me
And he shared with his disciples
Said, Here’s how to be free
If you asked me I'd say most days
I totally agree
But right now I can't pray, I don't feel like talking to God
I need somebody out there with a little skin on them

When I read that story I heard thunder everywhere
I could hear that boat crashing on the waves
The bow is in the air
And I have respect for Peter who had faith enough to dare
Step out onto the water
While all the others stared
And when hell is on your back,
Sometimes you think you got strength and you say,
Hey Lord, save me, I'm drownin' out here!

But I'm caught somewhere between Faith and Doubt
And I feel like I'm never going to find my way back outta here.

Last night I felt free just like I was a kid
So I laid in the grass and thought of all the things I did
When I didn't know of pressure it was easy to forgive
You didn’t have to be perfect
Not in my neighborhood
I don’t know what year things became so unclear but I’m still here.
But I’m caught somewhere between Faith and Doubt
And I feel like I'm never going to find my way back outta here.

So as I found myself in tears last night, unable to pray or sing, I simply sat. I cried, not because I had some overwhelming sorrow, but simply because I had nothing else in me. What came out was all that was left in my soul. And in the midst of emptying my soul through my tear ducts, I felt like God said to me that there would again be hope in 2010. Though 2009 felt like a year of “death” and fighting to hang on, 2010 would be a year that saw hope revived.
So while I admit that today I am still caught firmly in the cavernous “somewhere” between faith and doubt, I also hold onto the idea that hope will rise again. That just like the spring will bring new flowers and bright colors out of the cold and frozen ground, so maybe God can revive hope in my cold and weary heart. And it is with that last shred of hope that I say to God, “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Family Pictures

This summer we had the opportunity to have some amazing photographers and friends of ours take some family pictures of us. I am impressed with them because I know how hard it is to take pictures of kids and actually keep them looking at you the whole time. It gets even more complicated with parents looking at the kids and trying to get them to look as well. Brett and Emily Faulknor were fantastic and did wonderful entertaining the girls and keeping them focused on a hot day for an extended period of time. Not only that, they got some GREAT pictures. So here are a few of them.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Crazy Summer

This summer has seemed especially crazy to me. Maybe it is life with two young children. Or maybe it is all of the different things we try to pack into the summer months. I think that partially, it is the fact that everyone in the Spokane area is fully aware that winter is coming again, and it is hard to predict how long our activities might be limited by the winter weather. Regardless of the reasons why, this summer has been busy.
Early in July we had the chance to pack up our little car and go on a road trip. We drove about 1800 miles in 9 days, saw most of Jamie's family, spent time with friends in Redding, went on a safari, and spent some mostly sleepless nights in a hotel. It was great to be at the cabin with family and really fun to spend some relaxing days at Trinity Lake. We got to swim, wakeboard, fish, and just enjoy being together. Natalie especially loved the time with family and still talks about her aunts and uncles and cousin Micah all the time. I think her favorite part was having two dogs around though. A lot of times she would just follow Cooper and Bailey around and talk to them and give them hugs and kisses. The girl truly loves animals. We then spent a couple of short days in Redding and really had a good time catching up with some good friends.
Since then, we have been busy enjoying the summer back at our house. We had some friends visit us from Redding a couple weekends ago and it was a special treat to spend time with Derrick and Danielle twice in the same month. Plus Natalie loved playing with Judah and Zoe and now she wants us to get her some transformers, since Judah had some that he played with a lot. After they left, both girls came down with a ridiculous throat virus that causes a severely painful sore throat so that they did not want to swallow anything - including their own saliva. We had to force them to drink to stay hydrated and mostly they just cried because of the pain and the high fever as well. Thankfully they are mostly healed from that now.
In the last few days, Kaia has pretty much decided that she is going to walk. A few days ago she would take a step or two before falling, but now she is often going most of the way across a room before falling. She is a determined little girl and progressing rapidly. It is crazy to see two little girls walking around our house now!
So that is a brief synopsis of the things happening in our world this summer. More to follow, including deep and profound thoughts. I just need to find someone willing to share those thoughts with me first...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Truth

Brownie bear was my favorite stuffed animal when I was growing up. He was the one stuffed animal that I slept with every night for years. In fact, his right arm is permanently bent downward form where it was tucked under my left arm. On the other side, his left arm is curved upward from where I would grip it with my left hand and pull him close to me. His face is also lopsided from me laying on him for years. His ears are worn down and he has boots that my grandma sewed on after his feet got holes. He also has a hand knit sweater that my grandma made him. Consider yourself officially introduced to Brownie bear.

For several months now, Natalie has had Brownie on her bed, along with a plethora of other animals, when she sleeps. We have told her repeatedly to be careful with him since he is very old and he used to be Daddy's bear. The other day, Jamie went into Natalie's room after a nap and found Natalie quite concerned about Brownie bear. You see, Brownie's arm had come out of his sweater. Natalie has tried to take the sweater off before, but we asked her to leave it on so it doesn't get lost, or stretched out, etc. Anyway, Jamie asked Natalie how Brownie's arm came out of his sweater and Natalie said " I don't know". Jamie then asked if Natalie had taken it out of the sweater to which Natalie replied, "I'm a little baby, I can't tell you the truth."

What in the world kid?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Glimpses of Life Right Now

Kaia is crawling. That is enough to keep anyone busy. She started crawling a few weeks ago and ever since then, she is a speedy little kid who loves to crawl over to all the things she isn't supposed to get into and try to steal a few glorious moments of forbidden pleasure. For instance, she loves to suck and chew on shoes. As you can imagine, that is not the most sanitary of practices, so we have been hiding our shoes lately. She also loves to crawl to the book shelf and pull books off of it before we can get to her. She doesn't seem to want to play with them, just pull them off the shelf. She is a very determined and curious little girl.
Natalie isa walking now. Ok, she has been walking for well over a year and a half. She is still an incredibly intelligent little girl who has started asking the "why" questions a lot more. She is eager to understand why we tell her to do things, or not do them. She is curious about what we are doing and why we are doing it. The most impressive thing to me though is her large vocabulary and her articulate way of communicating. She sommunicates really well with kids who are several years older than herself, so it actually makes it hard for them to understand that she is not close to them in age. We find that older kids often treat her like an older kid herself. This creates some issues when they expect her to understand certain things that are beyond the grasp of a two year old. She does really good though for the most part. It must be hard being so smart sometimes!
One of our favorite things in the world lately is to see our daughters interact and make each other laugh. It is so great to see them light up and smile with pure joy when they play together or see each other first thing in the morning. We have learned though, that Kaia laughs at just about everything that Natalie does. That includes when Natalie is a bit rough with her. Yesterday, Jamie heard the girls both laughing and giggling a lot and when in the other room to see what was so funny. It turns out that Kaia was laying on her back and Natalie had laid on top of her with her arms and legs spread out like superman! I guess it is good that Kaia finds that sort of thing funny, we just have to be careful because it encourages Natalie to play rough. I mean seriously Kaia, don't laugh at your sister when she is hitting you, kicking you, or pushing you over - it just makes our job that much harder.
Anyway, that is a glimpse of our life right now with two wonderful girls.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bad Drivers

I am not sure what the real cause is, but it seems like there are a lot more bad drivers around this area than there used to be. Maybe my memory is being too generous with the past. Or maybe more people are just trying to drive while texting on their cell phones. Then again, maybe people are just truly as clueless about traffic rules as they appear to be.
When we lived inthe Philippines, the traffic appeared to be chaos at first. Yet after observing it for a while, it started to become clear that there was a definite system at work. It was very different from what I was used to, but since everyone seemed to be using that same system it worked. When I started driving there, it became even more clear. What appeared to be chaos was just a very fluid system of give and take - kind of like water flowing down a hill and finding the path of least resistance.
Coming back to the United States was an adjustment at first. I still slowed down for green lights in case traffic just decided to go on a red light. I found myself slightly more aggressive in my driving habits at times. Also, my awareness of motorcycles increased greatly. I gradually settled back into the "system" that we have in place here where people are expected to obey the laws, merge safely, and actually pay attention to lane lines. the problem seems to be that there are a handful of people trying to mix the two different systems. The vast majority of people here try to follow the laws but the ones that don't, either purposefully or because they are oblivious, create some serious safety issues. So for now, let me just express a few of my frustrations specifically.

Four way stops: Please learn the "right-of-way" concept! The first person to arrive is the first person to go. If two cars arrive at the same time, the person on the right goes first. It really should not be that hard. I mean the term "right-of-way" actually has the word "right" in it.

Merging on the Freeway: When you merge with traffic you are actually supposed to look and see if there are cars already in the lane. You can't just drive onto the freeway without even looking at the existing traffic in the nearest lane. Another key to merging is to be going close to the speed of the traffic on the freeway. It is NOT good to come to a near stop and wait for an opening to try and get in.

Turning: When there are multiple turn lanes, the car in the inside turn lane is supposed to turn into the nearest lane.

Changing lanes: When you need to change lanes, put on your turn signal and gradually merge into the next lane when there is an opening. It is NOT safe to just stop in the middle of a four lane road and put your turn signal on hoping that traffic will stop and let you in.

I suppose that is enough complaining for now. I think I just expected to feel at least as safe on our roads as I did in the Philippines, but I often find myself more frustrated and nervous here than I usually did there. Driving is for real, take it seriously.