Saturday, September 29, 2012

If I could just have one thing...

(Originally posted on September 28, 2012 at

As the birthday dream window slides gently closed, I wanted to reflect on the birthday-specific wishes and dreams I've had today as I've had time to drive and think and talk about them since. 

Anyone can get through life. Survive it. Breathe air. Do the cycle of things. Chase happiness, get bigger and more noticeable, move upward toward an arbitrary goal. 

But I want more than that, as we all secretly do. What is it though? What is this one thing I want? What fits in all the empty places?

I think I'm finally figuring it out. 31 years later.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

31 Flavors, or a Baskin Robbins Birthday

Today is my birthday, which I traditionally love and hate for all the typical, American white girl reasons. The fact that I have to endure this attention that I'm not supposed to want, but I do want it, but then it's always disappointing since some lights are still red on your birthday and some people forget to call and inevitably your husband can just not do everything you imagined but never actually said. (Although the pink Chuck Taylors were a great touch.)

Birthdays are a strange sort of holiday, and I think they are the direct result of the Fall of Man. I mean, a day where everything is supposed to be about me, and I end up being the most unhappy I've been in months? Yea, that pretty much sounds like something Satan cooked up. He's mean like that.

But there are all these elaborately beautiful things about birthdays, and one of my favorites is that, when done right, it's a time to launch someone into the next season of their life. To bless them, bear them up and give them compliments and praises and identify the beauty and gifts and goodness they bring to the world. Because most of us are prone to forget all of that as we move so hastily through life. 

Thursday my friends brought me back down with a few simple things, a light lunch with my favorite candy treats, then a sushi dinner with more friends, and scarves and a journal and tea, and new shoes from my boys. And it wasn't even my official birthday. 

Afterward my friend handed me a list of dreams she dreamed up for me for my 31st year, and if I had read them a little more slowly, I would've just cried all the way home, but I read them fast. So I didn't. But I feel like I want to frame them and hang them up so I can remember what I want and what I'm supposed to be living for. She encapsulated it all so well. 

I wanted to start a little list of 31 things that I would like to see, experience, live this year. It's like a condensed version of the dream blog, birthday-specific. I feel like birthdays are an open door day where you can ask God for things, like heaven is having a sale or something, so it's just easier to get what you're asking for. 

So my 31 things are probably what I've already been dreaming for on the dream blog, but this is the concentrated version for the year. 31 is a weird number so I'm not sure what this will mean, but I want to at least see what happens. And now I'm suddenly having this trepidation that I can't think of 31 things. I really only want one or two. But here goes:

1. More quiet, alone time (indoors and in nature)
2. Start, read and finish one book a month
3. Prioritize silence and solitude and get it in daily
4. Weekly date nights with my Josh
5. Intentional enjoyment of my son 
6. Intelligent conversations with John about his thoughts and preferences
7. For reconciliation in my family and for all of us to know God fully
8. For a church home for my mom
9. For deep character and integrity for our WELL leaders
10. For an uncompromising commitment to truth and Jesus in our WELL community
11. For 24/7 prayer and worship in Manhattan
12. An appreciation for and contentment with simple living
13. Purpose and career goals, success and favor at work
14. A children's ministry that connects kids to God in new, mind-blowing ways
15. Miracles as a regular part of our WELL experience - Sundays and all week
16. Courage to follow God and obey him 
17. A baby girl, whose name might be something like: Anna Joy Sophia Eliha Redeemer
18. Real freedom from debt and heart freedom to be more generous
19. Love from God that I know, enjoy and live in
20. Boldness to pray for anyone anytime and effectiveness in seeing immediate healing
21. Love that is full of wisdom and inspiration, spilling out to others and bringing them joy
22. Love that doesn't try to prove itself but looks for ways to lift other people up
23. Love that doesn't get tired but serves and gets energy from it
24. Love that lets me like myself and take a break when I need it
25. Conversations with Jesus where he tells me what he's really thinking
26. An unquenchable, unstopping love for the Word and prayer
27. A son who prays, hears from God, and watches his prayers get answered
28. A husband who is loved, admired, effective, encouraged by his life's work and dreaming with God
29. To write with boldness, clarity, and inspiration that comes from God that will motivate a generation and bring them to a new level with God
30. A church community who knows Jesus, loves him and will follow him anywhere
31. For God to continue the work he started in me 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hopeful Thoughts

I try to wear my wrestlings with hope and faith in sight. That way, other people who wonder if they can be spiritual and sometimes have questions and feel upside down can say, "Well, if she can, I can."

Today I wrote about a dream for my friends who want babies. And a few days ago, I sent up a dream balloon for another new baby for myself. A baby girl, since I'm feeling specific. 

When I think and dream about impossible things like babies, I feel the end of my arms' reach. I can tell this is precisely where my control runs out. And of course, a squirming discomfort ensues since no one, especially me, likes to feel out of control, flinging through space with a blindfold. 

But alas, we kind of are, aren't we?

I wrote tonight that, thanks to my friend, Kim, I've realized that Hope by itself is very small and frail and can't breathe dreams to life all by itself. It needs faith. Kim has faith and I guess I have hope because I write a lot of these dreams like I must. So I will borrow her faith as mine grows.

[Photo cred:]

I wrote this poem about hope as I fought with her. I hate to say that these were my thoughts, these violent, terrible thoughts, but this was me. I gave in to hope eventually, but it was rugged and a bit ugly at times. It still amazes me that something weak and vulnerable can win a bitter heart simply by being persistent. But this is exactly what hope did. 

And still, this is how I get some days when I feel helpless and fresh out of power. I get angry. Angry at hope for letting me dream myself into this mess in the first place. Angry at myself for being so gullible. Angry at God for not talking me out of it.

But dreaming is essential for life. I know it. I'm putting the hoping and dreaming out here for all of us to read, see, feel, experience. All I know is that hope seems to be worth it. And if you can add some faith, you will not be disappointed. 

Hope, the Foolish Child

The child, Hope, is unrelenting in optimism;
Wakes up and says, “Today’s the day”, every day,
Even though It hasn’t happened yet.
With odds against the whole thing,
Hope seems blind to reality.
A starving Pollyanna,
Hope is a survivalist.
In a concentration camp of pain,
Hope is a finger of grass, poking through the asphalt.

Sometimes you want to strangle her neck,
Silence this thing that seems only to bring disappointment.
But she walks blindly, dodging death and famine,
Evading what seems to be true,
Believing in something that is nowhere in sight.

What shall I do with Hope, this child I can’t stop feeding?
I want to kill her, but she says the sweetest things.
She knows my desire,
Keeps telling me it’s coming, it’s coming.
I start to think she might be a liar.
And just when I’m about to stop standing there like a fool,
Hand over my eyes,
Staring into that thin horizon line,
Just then she points, shouts,
“Here It comes!”
I squint into the light and sure enough,
Here comes my Longing.
I reach over to hug Hope, that bouncing child.
But she’s gone,
Gone to lay claim to a new desire.

I wonder,
What if I’d given her up?
What if I’d sold her for a clever book title,
Something for the cynics’ best seller list?
What if I’d held her down and shut her up,
Put my hand over her mouth and made her quiet for good?
Disappointment would have moved in.
Skepticism would have been my neighbor,
Resentment shacked up on the couch.
I wouldn’t have been at the end of the drive that day.
I would have missed my Longing as It rode by.
My Cynicism proven right,
I would have looked haughtily from my balcony,
Confident my Self-Righteousness saved me much wasted time.
I would never have known.
I would’ve been right, sort of, but I would have never held Joy.

I thought of all these things.
And then I stood there one more day,
Stood waiting with Hope, holding her tiny hand.
I was there when the Longing came by.
I welcomed the Longing, gladly,
Snatched It up and planted It in the yard:
A Tree of Life for all to see.
A Tree of Life to remind me.

For those who will wait,
Who believe enough to stand out in all that weather:
She does not lie.
No, and Hope does not disappoint.

[by Sarah Siders. Written August 2009]