Tuesday, February 28, 2012


The irony is not lost on me.

At 3am this morning I was awake. Wide awake. John was crying because his room was too hot - poor kid. And I was awake. I thought about why I must be awake. Was I supposed to be praying for something? I couldn't think of anything burning. I thought. I tossed. I read. And John was up again. This time we both sat in his rocking chair and rocked and tried to make the time pass until he wanted to play, which was not at all what I had in mind. Back to bed for us both.

About 5:30 I fell asleep, only to be rudely awakened 20 minutes later by an alarm clock that claims it was "merely doing it's job". My attempts to resist coffee, which had been successful for the past week, were foiled. Was not going to make it through the day without it.

Insomnia does a number on the personal aesthetics. No wonder they call it "beauty sleep". [Slight exaggeration of facial features thanks to PhotoBooth.]

In some ways, I have an ideal job. Tuesday through Friday I work 10 hour days, teaching soldiers and their families ways to enhance their lives, connecting them with good stuff like churches and therapy and local social programs. But today is Tuesday. And on Tuesday I talk about sleep. I conduct an educational group or hold large group sessions for soldiers who forgot how to sleep during life stress or deployment or both and need to relearn how it works. So every Tuesday, that's me, at the ready with sleep science and stress management techniques galore. I've been talking about this stuff for two years. I know my material.

Until this morning. I laid awake for two hours, like I tell the guys not to do. I knew I should read, but I just laid there and fought with myself, like I tell them not to do. About 5:15 or so I finally read. Reading worked as the perfect mild sedative it always is. Why did I not do it before, like I tell the guys to do? Ah yes, the doctor is the worst patient, it seems.

Tonight I skipped my satellite group at Mike and Kim's to cuddle up home in the imminent storm, chili and tea in hand, dog in the kitchen, most of the house to myself. I may be asleep by 9 tonight. Hoping God will talk to me though. I really want to hear from Him, want to know what is going on in the world, in the nation, in our little Bethlehem of a city, and what He wants me to do about it. So much volatility. My goal: to be one of the sons of Isaachar. "From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take" (1 Chronicles 12:32). 

So incredible that we can be like that, knowing the seasons, the times. That God can wake us up - mind, soul, body, spirit - and teach us something, in the night, in the day, anytime. We only need to desire to know. And we need to listen.

If you're going to speak, Lord, wake me up any time.

Isn't He wonderful? Love this picture of Jesus. He is alive, a man, still speaking to us. Can you believe it?   [Photo credit: the child prodigy and personal friend of God, Akiane]

Monday, February 27, 2012

Living (and Dreaming) in Community

Our family snapshot at the moment.

As of today, we have 8 people living in our house: two parent students, one paraeducator, one student-photographer, one social worker and one pastor. And two little babies loving life. It's busy but I can't really imagine life any other way at this point. Really, I can't.

So here they are:

The Bowkers Three: Kelley, Megan and Wee Wittle Wiam

 Megan and Kelley serve on our core staff of leaders at church. So yes, we not only work with them, we also live with them. And we still like each other. Incredible, I know.
The fabulously squishy and charming, Liam Kohen Bowker. What a doll baby.

Emma (L) and Christy (R) are apparently about to get eaten by a snake at Hobby Lobby, of all places.
Our beloved photographer and pal, Emma, has been with us for the month while her hubby's been away for military training. We love Emma and an excuse to live with her is easy to make up. We're so glad she's been here this month and we will miss her when she leaves, even though she'll be 10 minutes away.

Christy has been with us since last year, September I think, and her short stay turned into weeks and then we all broke down and decided that she was going to be our roommate...again. :) (She lived with us right before John was born too.) She's working with some adorable littles at a local school, finding her calling involves some form of intense advocacy for women and kids - it's all taking shape before our eyes.

And of course, us. The Siders, Josh, John and the little Bear/Monkey/Puppy/Baby. Depends on the day.

Thing I've been obsessing over lately:
History and future of Manhattan
Babies and Mommies 
The connections of all these - there are many!

I've been so fortunate to meet some amazing women in Manhattan, to feel for the first time in years that I am living alongside some incredible peers who love me, support me and can read my mind too, as an extra mind-blowing perk. Because of them, and perhaps because of some of the maturity one is bestowed by turning 30, I feel able to dream bigger. I am in a season of thinking of things and doing them. I spent many years coming up with ideas and berating myself into inaction because I never thought I could actually succeed and follow through on anything great. I felt I had a great calling, but was stumped by my fear of failure. Well, I've taken on a heap of huge projects recently, and stopped early in the process of most of them: bought a website, started planning to write a book, and I don't know what else. But practicing failure was just what I needed, and when we hit 2012, it was clear: Manhattan needed 24/7 prayer and worship to accomplish all that God has for this city. So that's been my primary focus, with adoption right in the wings, just waiting and hoping for God to open the doors so we can take the plunge. Of course at the moment, with every room in our house full, that won't work. But I feel it will be soon. Or I hope.

My Dream Job:
I think I found my dream job. And Tracie Loux, is pretty much doing it. I didn't know I had a dream job until I found her. Tracie and her husband John have three birth kiddos and four adopted.  Tracie works for an adoption agency called Hannah's Dream. And Tracie's sister-in-law, Renee, is also an adoptive parent, and works with the Orphan Justice Center, who is sponsoring a local program called Safe Families for Children. Safe Families works with churches and families to provide a network of homes for children whose families are temporarily unable to care for them. In a way, it's a preventative measure to keep kids out of foster care or provide care for a family who doesn't have local support and needs a place for children to go while getting medical care, deploying, etc. I love this program! They don't have one in KS yet, but they're in the early stages of talking about how this could work within our child welfare system. I'm hoping to stay in the conversation on this program and it's movement west into Kansas. (I'm sure Sam Brownback would be excited to see the churches working to support families, as churches are meant to do, rather than the government trying to manage this deeply intimate and personal role.)

I'm just dreaming now. But if I could do anything, I would quit my job and run an adoption agency and pregnancy resource center, like Life Choice, who I volunteer with now. And I would run the Safe Families network for our region. And I would adopt. Adopt kiddos from the states and across the world. I would spend time fundraising through creative ways to support these organizations and our adoptions, and I would love on our adopted kiddos and help their little hearts get healed. This is what I would do if I could do anything. 

Dreaming is wonderful. Dreaming when you know that anything (with God) is possible is far better. I love knowing that God and I can come up with a great idea and actually make it happen. The people and the resources and the education and training and funding and everything we need to do whatever we think of is all right there. We just pray and agree with God for what He already wants to do and watch the thing materialize. 

[Much thanks to the men and women who sowed into this city and our lives in prayer and who, in their lifetimes, never saw the breakthrough. But we get to live in it now.  Thank you to you all.]