Life Right Now {#36}

We went
bowling for
Larissa’s birthday



Real Battle

I wrote a paper on a movie last semester. I told you about it, remember? I watched The Adjustment Bureau and wrote about sovereignty and free will and the echoes of God that are woven throughout the film. I like the movie, and I liked the paper, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I could have written more, much more, on that same topic.

And today Larissa’s birthday party, we’ve all ended up at the same restaurant afterwards. And I’m sitting sideways in the corner, my feet balanced on the bottom of my father’s chair. Conversation has skipped stepping-stones from professor to Paris to films and have you seen Midnight in Paris? And my ears are perked instantly because that’s another movie that I like quite a bit, and just about anything including the word “Paris” snatches my attention and holds it.

There’s discussion about the movie, and some have seen it and others haven’t, and I told my dad I could write a blog post about the film, but then I stopped; If I could find some deeper meaning in it. And someone said they bet I could, and maybe I could, maybe I will, someday.

But I saw The Hobbit again tonight and maybe I was more awake, and maybe I had my eyes open to it, but the depth of the story; of lines, of looks, of actions, sunk in a little more. And Orcs aren’t real, and Gollum doesn’t exist, but the darkness that’s creeping into Middle Earth in The Hobbit, the darkness that nearly overtakes everything as the story of the Ring continues to unfold, isn’t fake.

God is real. Real and sovereign and the most powerful One. He is more good than I can ever wrap my mind around, and He is light. That’s true. But Satan is just as real. Deceitful and smart and fighting against all that is good, all that is light, with all his being. He’s working to bring darkness.

And sometimes, Satan seems to be winning. There were 500 homicides in Chicago this year, and someone was getting beat up on the corner as we drove past on our way to PCM. And God is the Creator of the world and everything in it, and He’s the King of my heart, but sin streaks black through even the redeemed and sometimes I’m just as dark as outside, too.

But He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world, and I know Light wins over darkness in the very end. It’s a funny sort of limbo I’m in, we’re all in, now. Because we’re saved, redeemed, now, and I know exactly where I’m going when I die. But I’m still alive now, and I’m still watching the light collide with dark all around me, and I’m supposed to be involved in this fight, too.

And Gandalf says courage and strength, and it’s the little things that matter. And he’s a wizard, so he must not be wrong, but there’s a big thing under all these little things, too. A big God under it all. And each kindness, each prayer, each stumble step of faith, is founded in the drowning undercurrent of a God who is Light.

Because good is real and evil is real, and this life we’re living really is an adventure, but I know who wins, and I know what He would have me do.


Beginning of the List

I need to confess

that there are many things

that I’m not sure what takes priority over what.

I wrote those first lines and then stopped for a second

because some of these things,

some of these priorities,

I do know.

I know them and I wrote them down,

because sometimes I forget just about everything.

Maybe I’ve told you before-

there’s a pink piece of paper

next to my bed at school.





Those are the priorities.

My priorities.

So if I’ve sat here for rather a long time,

and even typed out part of a post,

and it just didn’t feel right,

then maybe it means that tonight,

my priorities just aren’t quite right.

So I’m going back to the beginning of the list,

and maybe things will straighten out

from there.



There’s snow falling outside. Well, actually, it’s stopped falling for the moment. But it was before and I stood in the kitchen and watched the white specks swirl past the window. Kitchen faces the brick wall of someone else’s world, but in between this home and that home, snow flakes fill the open air.

I drove to work. Drove carefully, carefully, but I’m worried about being late and I should have wiped the snow off the car windows before I left. I can see what I need to see, visibility’s not incredible right now, anyway. And there’s a thin heap of snow balanced on my window, and I’m only rolling fifteen miles an hour, surely nothing can go wrong. But you never know and I roll down the window, watching snow pack together in a heap, and the air is cold and flakes swing gently into the car, landing soft on my face, my hair. And the light is green and the window’s still rolling down and the tiny snow bank on the outside of the window collapses into the car, and I’m driving up the street with a pile of frozen white on my arm.

It kept snowing while I was at work, too, and the parking lot’s near empty by the time I come back out. There’s a snow scraper in the car and I’m careful to use it, but I almost forget to clear the snow off my window again, because I can hear Taylor Swift on the radio inside the car, and I’m thinking about Mexico again.

And the car wiggles on the way around the corner, but I’m driving so very slowly and it’s more fun than scary, really. I park in the garage, because I think that’s what the mother would have prescribed, but I don’t like going in the back door, so I walk around to the front. Walk straight up the middle of the alley, and it’s so still that I can hear the snow packing together under my boots. A soft, straining, settling sound. And the snow’s still falling gentle and wet on my head and coat and it’s settling on everything it can touch.

And before I shuffled the car into the garage, before I pulled around the corner to the street I’ve grown up on, there’s a stop sign on the corner, and snow is everywhere and snow can be so much. Because glance up, look around: snow is beautiful. Stunning, breathtaking wonder on every surface that it can get its sticky grip on. But there are other words with snow, too; like dangerous and wet and slippery and cold. And there’s an inches-thick white layer on everything in sight, but can you even tell what’s underneath? Because snow can be deceptive, tricky, disillusioned, too.

And God’s put beauty in this world, and He’s shattering this night with the silent wonder of snow falling, and a strange guilt starts to creep in, because I should be appreciating all this. And I am, actually. I really do love the snow, and I do breathe in tight when white-laden branches catch my eye; bright ice reflecting soft yellow street light glow. But I answered my mother’s phone because she was wrist-deep in dish water and the other end speaks Spanish and I forgot to not, and one time Hermana Tere asked me about snow.

And Mexico missing’s not always so close by, and the ache of longing softens with distraction. But Skype conversation at midnight says unless you do what you love, you will never be happy and there was more, too, but there’s snow outside and tightness in my heart because I know what I love and I know where I love, but snow isn’t just snow, and it will never be that easy, will it?


Just Now

It’s late, late and I’m just sitting down to write. And I thought about future and I thought about past, but I’ve been hearing tomorrow will worry about itself, and there’s so much past, I’m not sure I could choose what to write about.

So here’s a picture of baby sister, six years old, with big brother at Forever Yogurt on my birthday.



Christmas Snapshot

It’s been four years since we were in this city, this state, this home, for Christmas, but if Christmas is His incarnation, redemption born in a stable, then it’s not just a day we’re commemorating; it’s a way of life. A way of life that breathes grace and mercy, wears redeemed like a cloak, and leaves God’s love deep in everything we touch, do, say.

December 25th is one day, one very special day, but it’s not so much different from any other day, because this day and those days God is truth, God is love, and God is just, and Jesus is the perfect redeemer we’re drowning without. The special of today is not that He’s more Him today than any other; the special of this day is that today we’re thinking about it.

Today just as any other this is a building of six separated, but the lines swirl unreadable between neighbors and friends, between friends and family, and there are four breakfast casseroles here. Our ceiling is their floor, all day, every day, but today, we’re all sitting around one table, please pass the mango juice, and can you even imagine the weaving of life strings in this room?

Because I’ve got a story and upstairs has a story, across the hall, too. My story is me and yours is you, but there’s one God who holds all stories in the palm of His grand Story. And I know He’s wise, I know He’s sovereign, because He’s winding each story together and I’ll never quite understand. I’ll never quite understand how story meeting story means there’s wise words to soothe nervous hearts, little hands ready to play together, and six units of family wound together tight just when we need it.

December 25th is a snapshot of a year; close your eyes, I bet you can tell me where you were last 12/25, and the one before and before, well into years behind. True for you and true for me and turn around, last year today the mexican sun was hot and white bright through the VIPS window. And it’s funny because it really all started in this mexican diner chain; Mexico City in 2008, I’d been in Mexico four hours and really didn’t know what I had ordered.

Last year little family squinting in the sun in a downtown Mexico diner, at least we all know what we ordered. This year there’s snow finally, finally, dusting the Chicago streets outside, and I’m peeling dinner potatoes when Mom says call Mexico.

I always hesitate, and I’m really not sure why, but I call the Casa Hogar and Christmas has traditions, they’re all watching movies. But the voice on the other end rings happy, hits deep in my heart. Wise woman, woman whose love binds tight and holds strong. And we’re trading words over this Skype call; asking questions, murmuring assent and understanding, soaking up details because it’s been a long time and it’ll be longer until we’re face to face.

And then Rubi’s on the line and I suddenly realize that different countries, schools, families, skin tones really don’t matter because three years running friendship, Rubi was in my class at school in Mexico. And there’s a grip, a trust settling in my heart, because I trust Him to do well, and I trust Him to do right, and these are not friendships I have to fight to keep a grasp on, these are gifts He’s given because He is gracious.

And later, later, the day’s winding down but my phone is buzzing and cousins are friends, too, and the cousin-sister sends me back to Skype, once more. And it’s funny because I can hear them maybe a little, but they can’t hear me. But a picture is worth a thousand words and a video chat is worth more; words or no words. The other side of the country is 4×6 inches on my computer screen and I’m waving and blowing kisses to family I adore.

And Christmas is a day just like any other, and God is God every hour always, but pause, celebrate: Christmas is so very special, too.


Christmas Content

There’s a young heart at church who told me today that Christmas always surprises her.

She didn’t see it coming this year, and then Pastor’s standing up front, leaning over the little metal pulpit, telling us it’s Christmas Eve Eve.

And her twelve-year-old complaint echoes same in my own heart, because I hate the way December 25th pounces, and I’ve started to dread these days.

Because it’s my birthday 24th and then Christmas 25th and it feels like a rush to squeeze in as much festive, as much joy, as I can, because these two days come once a year.

But this year’s been different.

There’s been no rush, no stress, no holiday cheer pressure. Just peace and rest and content.

And I’m so very thankful for that.


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