Midweek Prayers: Sequels Stink

I'm convinced that it's generally new versions of the same old crap that bite me in the butt, rather than new stuff.

When my sweet friends found out I was pregnant, many of them said, "you're going to be such a cute pregnant lady!"  And since I think pretty much all pregnant ladies are cute, I agreed.

Because I totally forgot about my fucking boobs.  Which are outpacing my tiny belly at a horrific rate*, and succeeding (once again) in making me dumpy instead of darling.  Now, 6 months in, when no one can tell I'm expecting unless they're told (well, and Dave, who's lovely, but doesn't count), I realize that the same body stuff that stank 20 years ago pretty much still stinks.

I feel 13 again (because I'm still the middle schooler being told she looked like a whore for wearing a shirt unbuttoned over a tank top).  Or 19 (because I'm still the college girl whose boobs were the only thing anyone suggested as a reason a man would be interested in her).  Or any of the other ages where my body was fair game for public discourse, and assumptions were made about who I was based on my shape.  (I do not feel at all like 21 or 30, where I figured out how to turn lemons into lemonade.  Melons into some sort of daiquiri, I guess.)  I feel conspicuous, not in the warm, maternal, hoped-for way, but in the "these are all anyone sees of me... AGAIN" way.  I had a lovely two weeks in the first trimester where I thought, "I don't have to hide these-- they're pregnancy boobs!  It's finally acceptable!"  But that was 3 cup sizes ago.

I wanted to look like a mom, and instead I look like more of a caricature than I did to start with.  I wanted to embody something joyful; instead I look even more like the same old ugly jokes and jibes.  Same old stuff.  New version.

I know in my head that the trick is to shut out the voices around me (and the echoes of old voices that I let bounce around), and try to hear the voice of the One who designed me.  My heart just wants to sit on the floor and wail, though.  I need prayers beyond my own to get my head and heart on the same page.

*This is, incidently, not the time for the "miracle of life, and accepting your changing body" speech.  I love watching the baby move every night when I go to bed.  The kicks are sometimes uncomfortable, but I'm always happy to think that wiggling means the little cheeseburger is doing OK.  This is not about that. That is not helpful.


A Diverting Interlude

There's so much that's too private to be bloggable right now, so...

Instead I give you recent animal babies born at the DC Zoo.

I could kiss every single one of them on their tiny heads.


Wednesday Prayers: It's a Leadership Issue

Jackson Katz (in a very good, but somewhat long TED talk) addresses the responsibility of those in power to prevent abuse.  He's talking about men, but makes the point that women in power have the same obligation.  Keeping people safe and preventing abuse isn't a sensitivity issue:  it's a leadership issue.  It's the responsibility of people in power.  It's about courage and integrity.

Over the last couple of years, I've become uncomfortably aware of how often Christian communities call people to gentleness and softness, while rejecting courage and toughness as things that might also be from God.  Love your neighbor, love your enemy-- yes.  But don't surrender your power to them.  Don't equip tyrants to destroy that which is sacred.  In many Christian circles, I've found that "power" is a dirty word.  I think it's only dirty when we let it run amok, when we turn our backs on its misuse and hope it will go away.

This week, I'm praying for the clarity to use my own power well, and to honor it as a gift, a blessing, a calling.

Have there been Christians in your life who have used power in holy ways?  Have there been times that you've longed for someone to step up with courage and integrity?

 PS: Hawks, Wayne.


Wednesday Prayers: Surprise Me

One of my better qualities is resourcefulness.  (I suspect that's related to my less attractive quality of stubbornness.)  

I'm resourceful, but I'm not miraculous.  I can't make wine from water, or get that water from a dry stone.  That means that sometimes I have to throw my hands in the air and just pray, "surprise me."  

For the upcoming year, Oh Lord:  surprise me.

Has God surprised you?  Would you tell me about it, so that I can remember God's creativity and be encouraged by it?

Family of Choice

A gorgeous friend (maybe my oldest friendship) sent me Shauna Neiquist's Bread and Wine (remember how much I loved Bittersweet?).  I keep crying when I read about Neiquist's weekly dinners with her small church group in Michigan, and her monthly supper club in Chicago.  

Growing up as a military brat, there was a built-in cultural net, and family-of-choice (or of necessity) was common and strong.  I remember holiday dinners with Marines in Frankfurt (still West Germany then), and the hostess whose hospitality formed the foundation of my idea of ministry.  12-Step groups entered my life in middle school, and family-of-choice was part of that system, too.  I've lost count of the number of caring adults who nurtured me there, but some of them I treasure as those who (through the preventive medicine of compassion and truth-telling) surely saved my life.  

Where I live now, people's social lives often center (sometimes nearly exclusively) around their extended families. For a lot of reasons, that's not an option for my household.  We have friends here, but we don't have a group of friends.  Rather than a net, we have a number of separate ropes.  (In fact, we have ropes all over the country, which is marvelous... but it's not a net.)  Living here, both being Not From Here (and worse:  not being from anywhere, which is next to impossible for many to imagine), and not being part of a family feels precarious.  It can be lonely, but I can work around that-- lunch with one friend, coffee with another.  What's trickier is that when there's Big Stuff, being held by totally separate threads doesn't seem to work as well as when they're interlaced.  

As Dave and I think about where we might be next, I'm wondering how you all experience family-of-choice vs. family-by-blood in your particular geographic region.  It feels like the emphasis on family-by-blood is especially strong here, but I want a reality check.  Do you have a group of local friends who support each other well? A workout group?  An especially close Bible study?  Anybody willing to tell me about their experience?


Wednesday Prayer: On the Road Again

I'm heading off on a teeny road trip today, an act which almost always Restoreth My Soul.  Feeling free is a wordless prayer to me, and alone on the highway is where God most often encourages me, and reminds me of who I am.  I'm hopeful that will be true this week, but even if it's not, I'm grateful for the opportunity to remember where God has been with me on other trips.

Is there a particular place where you feel particularly known and loved by God?  Will you be there soon?


Wednesday Prayers: Discipline

One of the ways my (slight) extroversion shows up is in discipline.  If I'm around other people, I can get anything done.  More than a dozen other people combined.  Energy of a hummingbird.  

When I'm alone, though, I'm bored, distractable, lonely.  Very little gets done. Right now, after graduation and before Whatever's Next, I'm alone a lot.  And not productive.  I don't mean that in a lovely spacious, happy way, but in a dull, dragging way.  I'm trying to see loved ones often enough to make a dent in the torpor, but I also need to discipline to use this open space well.

That's my prayer for this week:  motivation, and the satisfaction of productivity.  Solo service, instead of communal.

How about you?  Is there an area where you're dragging?  Can I hold it in prayer for you?


Wednesday Prayers: For Purity of Heart

I've still got John Irving's Owen Meany on the brain.  Considering the beatitudes, he asked of the pure in heart, "BUT WILL IT HELP THEM-- TO SEE GOD?"

It's a serious question.  In the Hebrew bible, the face of God was a terrifying thing to even think about seeing.  And when Job met with God, what satisfaction really came from it?

I would love for God to make everything tidy and secure, and I simply don't for a second believe that happens in this life.  But I'd like to see God, anyway.  That's my prayer this week-- to let platitudes and easy answers slide off of me, and instead be able to see God in chaos and strife.