Low Battery

I love my phone.

It gives me the chance to access audio books while I do housework. I also track several health things, including my nursing schedule for my baby.

A quick click gives me the weather, the time, the date, and the loops I love to be in (aka group chats).

My handheld device connects me with friends and family in instant, unimaginable ways. It makes me feel like a photographer as I capture moments and share them in real time, unless I want to finesse with filters first.

I write down quotes in the digital notes and screenshot tidbits of info for later. I even do all my grocery shopping from an app and the couch.

Lately my phone’s been busy arranging slideshows of highlights from one, two, and three years ago. So sweet and sentimental to have flashbacks without even asking.

A brief text can coordinate hospitality. A tap and I’m sailing my way through the book of Numbers as I tidy up the living room.

Thanks to my phone, I can video call my brother. Store my recipes. Search Bible commentaries. Cash checks. Soak up curated music. Even talk to people occasionally.

I check emails in moments waiting for my dentist appointment … an appointment I wouldn’t have remembered without my calendar app. Or would have found without my map app. Goodness, I’d still be lost somewhere without maps or the ability to call home for directions (thanks, Dad!).

I do not want to know how many hours I’ve spent listening on my phone to people talk about health and current events or home decor advice. It’s all aesthetic and addicting.

NO WONDER I feel uncomfortable when the battery goes in the red zone.

I mean, I’m waiting for a birth announcement from a friend, surgery updates from a dear sister in Christ, and a chance to hear the next chapter in the novel I’m listening to. My phone makes all of this easy and convenient.

Tonight my phone battery stooped dangerously low. I charged it on the counter while I made dinner…or so I thought. Instead of regaining power, it was dying. Marco Polo and Pinterest were fading out of reach thanks to a finicky charger.

My phone who faithfully serves me needed me to serve it.

I jostled the charger and managed to get a few more percentages. We ate supper. My husband left for Bible study.

With just one hand available thanks to my son, I wanted to read articles and view stories.

Then my charger truly broke. Part of it was still in my phone. Now I was minutes away from losing all my — my data, and this bothered me. I formed a plan to order a charger online…or should I make my day busier tomorrow and go somewhere to get one? Shoot an SOS text to my husband to pick one up? All the panic in the name of restoring communication.

But it was a problem for tomorrow.

So I rocked my baby to sleep without anything shiny in hand.

In the solitude of the dim nursery, I prayed aloud for our family. I prayed for my priorities.

And I thought about the verses I had read this morning:

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7-11)

All the wonderful, good ways I use my phone and all the wasteful, useless times I spend on there are all loss and rubbish in comparison to the paramount glory of knowing — just simply knowing — Christ Jesus my LORD.

I can do without the purposes of my digital assistant when I examine them in the light of the Savior’s face.

He is all I need. Lord, spare me from idolizing anything — convenience of online groceries, glamour of Instagram house tours, power of knowing things instantly — above You.

Tonight I’m thankful for a battery that plunged the black hole to remind me of Who matters and Who deserves my first-fruit time and attention.

I love my Savior.

Stories of March

Since I procrastinate like the best when it comes to documenting (both privately and publicly) my life milestones, it’s high time for a personal update. Maybe I delay because certain events feel too sacred to lock onto a page . . . like when you snap a picture but you know your smudgy smart phone can’t capture the justice the landscape deserves.

But, lately, I’ve noticed how much I relish reading a blog post, prayer letter or post with pieces of the author’s heart tangled up in it. When it’s their story, it draws me in as I relate, imagine, rejoice, and empathize.

We love stories.

So I don’t want to withhold my stories from this very special month of March.

March 1st marked three years from when my husband first messaged me and a long-distance romance was birthed. Neither of us knew where a simple message would lead, but with so much in common, our conversation exploded and one thing led to another. After four months of writing and skyping, we met in person, and the rest is history.

March 16th signified our engagement just two years ago. I’ll never forget the roller coaster day that ended with a ring and cheesecake. God is good.

One year ago March makes me think of empty offices, Frozen 2, Greek food, virtual meetings, remote church, and Psalm 34. It reminds me of long springtime strolls, rehearsing the sovereignty and goodness of God.

And now this March is the month where we’re experiencing many sweet firsts with our firstborn son. His name is Judah Charles, and he turned one month today. God answered so many prayers relating to our pregnancy and birth, and we’re smitten with the precious little man! The journey of being a stay-at-home mom has truly been a gift.

It’s stunning how much we love him. While falling in love with a spouse leading up to marriage is gradual (with some uncertainty), love for a child is unconditional and instant. It mirrors how our Heavenly Father loves us even when we are helpless and unreasonable.

Welcome to our family, Judah! We can’t wait to see the story He writes for you.

What are your stories of March?

The Blues of January

“Oh, dear, how hard it does seem to take up our packs and go on,” sighed Meg the morning after the party, for now the holidays were over, the week of merrymaking did not fit her for going on easily with the task she never liked.

“I wish it was Christmas or New Year’s all the time. Wouldn’t it be fun?” answered Jo, yawning dismally.

Little Women, Louisia May Alcott

Here’s to the foggy Mondays after break. In the case of Little Women, Amy searches for her homework, and Meg bemoans her shabby dress but, next, points out the little munchkins she takes care of won’t notice what she wears anyways. Jo must go back to the fearsome Aunt March. Beth has a headache.

Sound familiar?

Longing for luxury, the four sisters wish life could always be parties, bouquets, resting, and reading.

I don’t blame them. I would add coffee and writing, then we’re set.

I remember last January. I carried the plight of my busy schedule, daydreaming about all I would do if only I just had more time at home. It was easy to compare myself with others who had better success with, what I chalked up to be, more flexibility. If I had the same schedule, then surely my creativity could fully unleash. My house would be clean. Scores of books would be ingested, parties could be planned down to details, such as the colors of the straws.

Then, what do you know? I kind of got my wish! For the first time ever, in an event completely unforeseen, I had the chance to set up a home office, with ample time in the spring evenings to do whatsoever I pleased.

It was much like the March sisters’ experiment in chapter eleven. Faced with another vacation, the girls resolved to give into their thirst for a complete break from work of any kind.

Sounds delightful. Wouldn’t not working be the antidote to their January blues described above, plagued by headaches and homework?

As the story goes, Jo read so much she grew fidgety and quarreled with her best friend. Amy found “when her sisters left her to amuse and care for herself, she soon found accomplished and important little self a great burden.” Meg’s sewing projects go awry, and Beth’s bird dies.

They admit their experiment was a failed one, and Marmee replied with her advice, “Have regular hours for work and play, make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well.”

What strikes me about the two scenes (the morning after Christmas vacation and the first few days of complete vacation) is that neither one makes anyone happy. I know the whiplash of this, too. Take my work-from-home experiment for example. While I’m tempted to complain when I have to rush out the door on a Monday morning, I’m just as likely to waste an opportunity for productivity on a free day, longing for the structure I recently loathed.

Contentment is not sourced in our moment’s activity or schedule, is it?

Let’s aim to be like Paul when he penned:

Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. 

Philippians 4:11-12

I’m about to shift lifestyles in a big way, leaving the office for stay-at-home mom life. I hope I can soak in all the good and the discipline of my current office life, but also know that all the answers to my wishlist won’t be found in more time at home. I desire to be like Paul, to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself in. Whether it’s headaches like Beth’s, or shabby dresses like Meg’s, in abundance of a sunny afternoon, or suffering from lack of sleep, packed work sessions or too much leisure time, I hope I will do all things through Him who strengthens me.

PC: Kevin Fitzgerald, Bogus Basin, Boise, Idaho

The Blessed and The Besieged

This week I’m sharing a short story I wrote as a writing assignment. The goal was to capture an attribute of God. I hope you enjoy! Have a beautiful fall Tuesday.

The Blessed and the Besieged

“I’m home–if anyone cares!”  

No answer, but a wave of butterscotch oatmeal greeted me as I slung my keys onto the hook.

    A pile of warm cookies and a hot pot of coffee on the counter was all the apology I needed for the absent welcome from my family. I left my jacket on as I surveyed the empty patio out back. With use of every limb and a shoulder, I gathered my Bible, journal, coffee mug, and a sweaterish blanket and stumbled through the backdoor. 

    My coffee steamed as I arranged myself on the patio chair. Tufts of raked leaves meant my brothers were somewhere nearby, but for now I breathed the bright, crisp stillness. 

    I thumbed through my “thankful journal,” thick with lists of God’s faithfulness of the past few months. Good grades on the midterms. A way to serve my church at the upcoming harvest party. Family who followed the Lord. Forgiveness.  

    Today I added butterscotch and bowling parties, the book of Psalms and piano music. I closed my eyes and fully felt the warmth of the sun. God, you are so good. 

    The door burst open. “Kate? There you are.” 

    My brother Tobias waved my phone. “You’re getting a bunch of calls in a row.”

    “Oh, I hope I don’t have to go back into work for some reason.”

    “It’s Lindsay.” Tobias tossed me the phone.  

    I snatched it and re-dialed. 

    “Kate?” my best friend sounded desperate. “Can you come pick me up? I was in a wreck and my car . . . was damaged.”

    My heartbeat quickened. “Are you ok? Tell me where you are. Ok, I’m on my way.” Almost tripping on the creamy sweater blanket, I wadded up all my books and the blanket and thrust them into Tobias’ arms. “Tell Mom I’m going to pick up Lindsay.”

    The orange-gold branches waved at me from the sides of the road just like before, but they seemed to lose their magic as I made my way to the intersection. 

    It was a mess. Where to park? Police lights, ambulances, traffic directors. The peace I had felt moments before seemed wadded up with the blanket I had left behind. Finally I spotted a turquoise hoodie I knew well. 

    The tow truck loaded Lindsay’s new-to-her buick. The side looked like a chewed-up caramel.

    “Oh Lindsay! Are you free to go? Are you ok?”

    “I’m ok. Everyone’s ok. But let’s get out of here!”

    Questions nagged me, but every time I tried to voice them, my words failed. I drove through a nearby coffeehouse and ordered a double cappuccino with whipped cream.

    Tears broke through my friend’s stunned frozen expression.  

    I didn’t blamer her. This was a financial hit on top of an emotional mountain. Lindsay was on the heels of a painful breakup and her mom’s mysterious health issues worsened by the day. Her boss recently cut her hours and no one had heard from her dad in six weeks now.  

    I handed Lindsay the coffee, scanning her face for signs she was ready to verbally process. “Thanks, Kate.” She sighed. “I thought God was loving.” 

    My eyebrows shot up. “But you know He is.” Surely a bent-up buick wouldn’t be the breaking point for one of my strongest friends. I fumbled as I put my change back in my purse.  

    “Then why does my life play out like this? All the time. Seems like He’s kind one day, and then He’s forgotten me the next.” 

    I swallowed and fixed my eyes on the road. “God is good all the time…He isn’t a mood ring. He’s all of His attributes all of the time.” 

    “You remember when we used to play dollhouse? We’d use the cushions and the bookshelves to make mansions and pool houses. Their lives were perfect.”

    I smiled. “Yes, of course. Not to mention the horse barns and boats galore.”

    “I feel like your life is like that. Mine just isn’t.” 

    Defense rose in my chest, and I gripped the steering wheel tighter. But it wasn’t the time to point out how we didn’t have a pool or horse barn or to say how I sprained my ankle recently, or that our wifi was terrible or my dog died earlier this year. She was right. The pain wasn’t comparable. I thought of my thankful journal, creased and crinkled. My parents were strong Christians, and I didn’t have to worry about chronic back pain that had kept Lindsay from sports in her senior year. 

    “Everything is going to be ok…” I knew this was the wrong approach but I had to say something. “Just take a moment to rest. It will all look better in the morning.” We were now in her driveway. Her eyes were dry now but the frown assured me I hadn’t persuaded her. 

    “I’ll see you at the Harvest Party.” She shot out of the seat. “Thanks for the coffee.” 

           


  

    My thoughts, cinnamon sticks, and orange slices bobbed as I scooped cupfuls of cider to different church members. As I handed them away, I thought about each of their circumstances. An older widow who was losing her eyesight and thus her driver’s license. A man whose wife left him years ago. A toddler who already had undergone several heart surgeries. 

    Nothing seemed fair or just. No one tasted the same cup of suffering. 

    I smiled at each of them and tried not to mind the hot drops of liquid spilling over the ladle. I hoped Lindsay would join me soon, but she seemed occupied at the kettle corn booth. What would I say to her when she did come? She thought I had a perfect dollhouse life.  

    “And teach me humbly to receive the sun and rain of Your sovereignty.”

    Was it just this morning in church that we sang The Perfect Wisdom of Our God? My eyes found the turquoise sweater again then dropped to my boots. Leaves bigger than my head pasted to the damp ground. Yes, there was a lot of sun in my life when it came to tangible blessings. 

    And yet, did this give me a silencer — a reason I couldn’t speak into my friend’s trials? Should I be afraid that my turn was coming? 

    Corrie Ten Boom, a Papuan believer in the jungle, my pastor’s wife. Believers from shades of history who, though they had different earthly gifts, still had access to God’s person and character.

    God is all of His attributes all of the time regardless of our situations. 

    The joy spilling around the Harvest Party, the strength of the Ten Booms, the promises of trials but also shared holiness — all of it the evidence of everlasting lovingkindness.

How could I remind Lindsay?  

   


   

Praise and smoke drew upwards, the bonfire concluding our time together after sunset. 

    I joined with my cider as our pastor said, “Please share a testimony of what God’s done for you!”

    I sat next to Lindsay and tugged my beanie closer around my face. “Hi,” I whispered. She halfway smiled.

    Testimonies brimmed between songs. All the same people I had served cider to hours ago, were now giving thanks for the blessings truly tasted in the contrast of pain. It gave great hope for me . . . and for my friend. Trials now and unknown would receive His same sovereignty and grace. 

    Lindsay pushed away a tear, I hoped borne from a softening heart. After a rousing round of Come Ye Sinners, the pastor again called for our testimonies. The silence tugged on me. I had so much to share. But I didn’t want to seem like I was boasting and insensitive when I knew about Lindsay’s doubts. 

    That’s not a good reason to withhold praise! I can’t be afraid. 

    I stood. “God has been encouraging me through a thankful journal I’ve started.” I glanced around at the fire-lit faces. “Every day it seems I use a different pen and have different circumstances, but His attributes stay the same. I’ve been reading a lot about His lovingkindness. The Bible says it’s better than life…my life is very sweet. But I’m finally realizing it’s because His love is larger and longer than life. It will outlast and outshine both the good and the hard of right now. Sin and death will end. No matter what trial He sends, we can humbly receive it with this perspective. So…yeah. That’s all.”

    I thudded back down on the bench. My eyes stung for a moment because of the smoke and because I was checking to see if Lindsay was mad.

    “Thanks for sharing,” Lindsay whispered. “You are one way God’s shown His love to me. And that’s an encouragement.” 

    I gave her a hug. I didn’t want to be the extent of anyone’s experience of God’s love, but I knew He would be faithful to her. He would show her the depths and heights. If I was a start of her remembrance of His love, there would be no end to the marvels she would discover. And God will wipe away every tear one day.     

“Blessed be the Lord, 

for He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me 

in a besieged city.” 

(Psalm 31:21) 

A November Prayer

Hallowed be Your name, oh Lord. Let Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

We’re on the brink of a loaded November, and only You know what will come.

I know it will cause us all to need You just as much as we always have. Please bring us humility from Your heart and wisdom from Your storehouses.

We ask You, like the psalmist did, “Do not grant, Lord, the desires of the wicked; Do not bring about his evil planning, so that they are not exalted.” (Psalm 140:8)

Continue reading “A November Prayer”