Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A day late and a dollar short

I have been locked in my room and forced to finish this blog post I started weeks ago.  Amber said she would slide some bread under the door.

There was this study I heard about a while back.  Some scientist thought it might be a good idea to see if prayer might have a causative relationship to healing in certain terminally ill patients.  After their double blind, controlled study they saw no such relationship.  But they did prove that God doesn't respond to double-dog dares.  You can't blame the scientists for wanting to check it out though. I don't know which is more peculiar, the scientists or the people who cast their wishes up to heaven to snag the hem of a robe.  This odd group of people, of whom I am a member, has various reasons and intentions for their castings, ranging from saintly to the ignoble.  I have played a hole or two at prayer and here are some of mine.

Some I call the "scratch ticket" prayers.  "Please, baby Jesus, just one more Ace and I promise I'll get a vasectomy." These are usually pretty straight forward, phrased in a simple quid pro quo manner.  But there is nothing REALLY at stake because it costs you nothing and has nothing to do with God, only a winning Ace. 

Another type is the "Beuller" prayer.  "God, we just thank you, God, for your blessings, God, and your faithfulness, Lord, and ...God, we want, Father, for you, Lord, to be our God, God."  Beuller...Beuller...  I don't know why I do this, but it works when my kids do it to me from the back seat.  In my experience these are offered to be able to check the Pray box, but tend to be a bit vacuous; usually requests that will have a redeemable solution whether God "comes through" or not.

Other prayers are expensive, high wager and take a slice of heart to ante in.   

As we were making plans for California I was talking to my mom about all the obstacles we faced in getting out there; there was licensing and housing and getting on with the right agency and the right hospital in the right place...  She cordially invited me to remember I was doing this to myself, no one was forcing this situation on me and my family.  You know that irritating rash that always seems to flare up when your mom says something?  That rash is called truth.  We were putting ourselves through this, none of it was necessary.  We weren't entering a witness protection program, we had a nice set up in Fort Collins. 

There has sat an old doubt rocking on my porch.  I can't name him, though I have tried, but there he rocks and fans himself and reminds me what I fear.

I fear Default.  The Default means gathering the best I can by my own means, on my own savvy and microwaved wisdom.  I default when I can't foresee a Divine plan for my circumstance, when there is no miracle; only the entropic evolution of my own choices.  But the default is sensible.  The default is the practical young accountant wearing Dockers who contributes to his IRA.  He will pacify colic with a warm, sobering bottle of prudence and judiciousness.  But doubt is gnawing, not that God is absent from my circumstances, but that He hasn't invited me into His.  Instead of facing what it might mean if he doesn't come through, I default and fold my hand.  I reel in prayers and desires because the sensible default convinces me they weren't really all that realistic in the first place and probably pretty stupid and naive to ask for and, after all, there is no promise in the Bible God gives you for a specific house or location or job and besides God said he loved you once already in the Bible so just live with that etc. The default wants to abort my hope and faith with sensible plan B.  

 When we arrived in LA we had several days to find a house before I started work.  We shacked up with Jason, Amber's brother, who kindly opened his apartment to us.  My contract is only for 4 months so we tried to find temporary housing.  Which brings me to my first word of advice for all those looking to move to LA: don't try to find temporary housing. Only if you are willing to be propositioned by an eccentric millionaire cougar or live in Dr Dre's childhood home, will you find temporary housing in LA.  
We had been praying specifically for an apartment within walking distance to the hospital, in a safe neighborhood, and at an affordable rent.  Which brings me to my next word of advice, affordable rent: If you are from the midwest like us, take what you would assume to be reasonable rent for a two bedroom, add on the cost of a black market kidney, divide by 12 and there is your monthly cost.  Have I crystallized this for you?  But all these prayers, they weren't weren't about the things.  It was a rebellion against doubt and my need for God to be a Father to me.

It's difficult to depict adequately how frustrating and discouraging that month was. Our family unit was suffering, kids were being neglected, school was not getting done.  Exciting new behavior issues cropped up.  We were in a new city, a new job, no place to retreat to. At one point Amber straight up lost it.  It reminded me of that scene in Stephen King's Carrie where she destroys everyone at the prom (see here).  Two or three times these perfect places came up but we were denied.   I walked down the street after being rejected, angry, cursing, questioning, impugning. Just like all the other times, You are going to let me figure it out on my own, an I'll make excuses for you and find some reason why this default is really God's provision after all while never being convinced.  

Then we got our apartment.  I probably could have said that in a more climactic way, but there you go.  It was a relief.  But it was only a relief at first.  It wasn't until the other day, when things had settled, that I realized how specifically God had answered us.  No, that's not what I want to say.  God "answers" Beuller and scratch ticket prayers.  He heard me.  But more than that, even, He knew me; he saw my piece of heart and raised me.  I wept the other night when it had settled on me there was a name tag on that present.  It was no default.  It had fingerprints; strange clues that circumstances had been tampered with.
That incumbent, rocking doubt, he hums a dissonant tune under his breath; that I really don't matter to Father; that I am not worth saving.  

I know people have different world views, some more thought through than others.  I read this verse the other day in Corinthians 8, "Those who think they know something do not yet know it as they ought.  But he who loves God is known by God".  I think I would paraphrase it as, "Look, I don't care who you are, you don't know crap.  But you are known".  I'd rather be known than know anything.  I wonder how many would give up all their "knowledge" to hear someone calling their name.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

It has arrived!!!

Yup. The California Nursing License has arrived. What you should know is that this comes as a shock to us as we've been waiting basically since October.
But it's here, it's really here!!!

The next step is finding a placement in the vicinity we are shooting for: L.A.

So if you're the praying type...you can pray to the end that we would end up right where we need to be and find just the right housing! If you know of any housing in or around the City of Angels, feel free to get in contact! (I'm talking to you, family!)

We'll keep ya posted as we know more, but we will aim to be moving mid to late April.
Here we go on a new adventure!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Wait, wait, don't tell me.....

 Now for a brief update about our lives for our loyal fan base (thanks again for reading so faithfully, mom.) I used to play oregon trail when I was a kid.  I don't know if any of you remember that game.  Even though on that old school computer that measured its memory in tiny prefixes , with its blocky- pixilated figures, there was some tension and excitement.  Will I have the ammo I need to kill a deer?  How do I fix this broken axel?  Will my wife get dysentery? What is dysentery?  Life feels a bit like that.  Like the game, not dysentery, though Im sure I could draw a few similarities.  
  We were originally just planning on being in town til the start of the new year. But as obtaining my CA license became more of an uncertainty, we decided to accept the offer to extend here at Poudre Valley.  We have extended now 4 times, I think.  It's kind of like the fiscal cliff thing, where we extend the deadline at the last second only to face the same situation in a few weeks. 

I swear I'm getting stupider.  Measurably stupider. I will have flashes of great ideas, thoughts to write down or clever ways to teach the boys, then they just vanish from my mind like .  Chances are I have had several ingenious witticisms since I started writing this, but damned if I remember them.  I chalk my widening stupidity to the fact that not many things in our lives are stable.  Thinking is for agrarian societies.  We have digressed to hunting and gathering.  Mostly thinking of where the buffalo will be next.

  If I were wanting to sound platitudinous,  I would insert a big BUT here and say how we are "learning so much" and use lots of cloying Christian vocabulary; paint a word picture in Thomas Kinkade pastels about how everything is really apple red happiness even though I just took such a long time explaining how frustrating a situation we are in.  But the gospel has death in it. I don't want to skip to the resurrection part and how life is all fine. Winter always precedes Spring.  Death before resurrection.  Amber and I are frustrated, in some ways.  Its hard to be in between.  I don't think we are handling it with all-star Christian attitudes all of the time.  There's some death that needs dying to. 
  So I say this with death in one hand: God has been good.  He has bound Himself to us to always do us good.  We have a job, we have a great living situation thanks to the kindness and indefatigable grace of our friends the Jacobsons.  
  So the plan as of today is to see if my license comes from the California Board of Nursing by tonight, which has roughly the same odds as me not wanting to punch them in the face. Like one in a million. The same as me not wanting to punch them. Meaning I do. Want to punch them.  If it does not come, then we will extend through mid April, where we are praying the board of nursing will grant me a license for my birthday. 
  Anyway, I digress.
love, tim