Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I'm giving up on setting limits;
We now have cockroaches.

By now, I mean we have probably had them all along but kept trying to deny it, didn't want to deal with it - I compromised by setting limits:

The first few roaches we found were just dead, and we thought maybe they were just left over from the previous tenant. No biggie, whatever poison or spray they used before we moved in had worked and we were just seeing the remnant of a situation that was under control. I decided this was okay; my limit was bugs that were alive.

Then we started seeing tiny little baby roaches, and they didn't freak me out too much, so I budged the boundaries of my mental limit to include tiny baby roaches that don't do any harm (and certainly don't grow up into real roaches).

Then, Matt and I were up late one night, and it occurred to me that since cockroaches like the dark, the middle of the night was probably a decent time to wander into the kitchen, flick on the light and see just what the situation was. It was bigger bugs. The cupboards under our sink are all sitting empty since Matt plugged up the mouse hole, so at least the roaches couldn't hide amongst our pots and pans. I killed a bunch with our fly swatter, and threw out their gross bodies. One escaped through an impossible crack at the bottom of our cupboard, so Matt said he could fill that with drywall compound too. My new bizarro limit - under the sink is okay as long as the upper cupboards stay pure.

Last night I was getting a glass of water when I startled a full-grown, speedy-fast cockroach in the cupboards. I screamed and then felt really disappointed that we definitely have to deal with this. Ugh.

Let me tell you something crazy though - these cockroaches aren't THAT big a deal to me. Yes they're gross... everyone knows how I feel about bugs. But I was baptized by fire in Brazil, and the fact that I can't hear these roaches run, their bodies are shorter than the width of my hand, and they can be killed with a fly swatter... It's gonna be okay!

I hope we get rid of them, that the super steps up and has some cockroach A-bomb, because apart from this issue our apartment is getting kind of homey, and I would love to just enjoy it :)
Here's my thought about setting limits - I've been reading Job and loving it, getting a lot more from it than I ever thought I would. And my continually expanding limits of what's okay for me reminded me of God and Satan arguing over limits for Job - first, Satan isn't allowed to touch Job's body, but then later his only limit is not to take Job's life. I am sure that Job was much more upset than I was to have his limits continually pushed, moved back, and disrespected. At the end of the book, however, he is able to say to God, "I had heard of you... but now my eye sees you" (42:5). I pray that no matter how outrageously, laughably, or tragically my physical, emotional and spiritual limits are tested, that God will see me through

In other news, there are ropes hanging in front of our living room window - hopefully we will have balcony railings soon and can enjoy our balcony for the rest of the summer! Also, I met a sweet old lady from our floor who has lived there 15 years. Her name is Dorothy, and her door is often propped open, so maybe we will visit some time!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

At War

It's official: we have mice.

Matt emailed me at work (Thursday) to tell me that a mouse ran across our living room floor - we went to war with traps and sticky paper and killed three mice in an afternoon - it turns out they came out to play every time we left the house. Crazy! (Update: it is Saturday night and we've killed a total of 7)

Our game plan is to kill them until there aren't any left, then seal up the hole where they came from so a new family doesn't take their place. I have less despair than when I opened a cupboard door Wednesday night to see droppings everywhere in our empty, bleached pantry.

I'm also SO glad I married a man like Matt, who is tough enough to get rid of the bodies! :) I'm not squeamish about them being dead, but I have this irrational dread that if I have to touch one, THAT's the one that will not actually be dead, will flinch alive and bite me - as if mice play dead inside cupboards to prank people.

Being at war with the mice drew me back to a verse that struck me last week - Colossians 4:12 "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers..." I love that reminder that prayer can be a struggle. Not just a struggle to do it, but a way to fight, to go to work spiritually for others or ourselves.

I struggle (the bad way) to be diligent in prayer, often procrastinating, postponing, and neglecting to do it, but every time I do I remember how deeply I need it. I pray that I would be quicker to pray, to take advantage of this weapon and tool that God has given us - free access to the King of kings and Lord of angel armies! He is my Defender, Comforter and Provider, and I know I need to be in his presence to truly thrive.

So this war with the mice is a good reminder for me of the struggle I need to also make in prayer, to "stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God" (that's what Epaphras prayed for the Colossians).

Friday, July 9, 2010

Disappointment and Trust

I had dinner with my mentor on Monday, and one of the things we talked about is how difficult it is to recover from disappointments that make us feel betrayed by God. The scenarios are different for different people, but I think that most people experience some kind of crisis that makes them question God - why He didn't intervene to save a loved one, rescue a relationship, open doors for a job or a mission trip. These things can shake the foundations of our faith: Doesn't God know what's going on? Doesn't he care?

I think an important realization to come out of these crises is that it's not personal. Each of us is a thread in the tapestry God weaves in the world, and I think part of spiritual maturation is realizing there is more to God's plan than loving me and me loving him. He is at work in the world, building a kingdom. We get to be a part of that, and loving him is a huge part of that, and his love for us is the basis for everything else; but his love is also much bigger than us and frequently supersedes what we can understand. Sometimes no matter how long or how hard we cry out for answers, we simply don't get one. We have to trust that he knows and he cares; we must learn to live beyond the self-centered emotion of betrayal and trust God again - to be able to seek his guidance without guarantees other than his goodness and love.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Shadows and Substance

Colossians 2:16-17 says,“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”

This passage struck me when I read it on the subway Wednesday morning, and it kind of stuck with me unsettled until that evening. After prayer meeting, I was visiting with the two other women who were there and shared how God is encouraging me so much this week through Colossians, and how this passage appealed to me even though I didn’t fully understand it.

Nimoy was wandering around in the church library while this chat was going on, and I thought about how crazy his shadow looks, how if his shadow was all I could see, I would never imagine what he was (a dog), much less what kind of dog he was (wriggly and sniffy). On the flip side, because I can see Nimoy, I can see how his shadow works.

It’s hard to write out thought processes that happen in a second, so I hope you’re still with me. Basically I realized that trying to figure out the rules will get you nowhere if your mind isn’t first set on Christ. He is the substance that gives meaning to the shadows. It doesn’t mean that shadows aren’t important, but they can be distractions if they’re not kept in perspective. This is encouraging me to continue exploring this theme of the rich hope there is in Christ and sinking spiritual roots into it!