“We Can’t Stop” Talking about Miley (But We Need to Start Talking About Syria)

On Tuesday, I was feeling very heart-heavy for the world.  I had been catching up on news and was sickened by the images of the tragedy in Syria.  At the same time, I was sick of all the Miley Cyrus judgement and joking.  In the same twitter feed and news sites, I was seeing the disparity of Miley vs. Syria.

In a moment of self-righteousness, I composed the following tweet:

“Based on my twitter feed, we all care more about Miley Cyrus’ dance moves than we do the fate of our brothers and sisters in Syria”

Thankfully, I had a moral pause.  I don’t always have those.  I’ve had plenty of tweet-regret in my lifetime.  But on Tuesday, I deleted that draft and spent some time looking inward (which is a feat for an extrovert who specializes in judgementalism).

Here’s where the post gets really honest and really embarrassing: If anyone published analytics from my phone and computer, they would have found far more hits to Miley Cyrus opinion blogs and tweets than world news searches.  I could tell you more about Miley’s VMA outfits than I could the death tolls in Syria.  I’ve spent more thought-time on pop culture than world events this week (and probably most weeks).

And I’m not proud about that.

After a few days of reflection, here are some initial thoughts about why this is for me:

1.  I get most of my news from my news feed.  In a 15 minute block of time I can read tweets from friends, a favorite faith blog, and a news story from a CNN tweet. Truthfully,  I probably place just as much weight on my social news feed as a I world news.  My news sources are out of proportion.  On any given day, I take in more social news than I do world news.  This is regrettable for 2 reasons: 1) I am ignorant about things I should know about and 2) It makes my world feel more important than the greater world.  My worldview is out of whack.

2.  Gossip sucks me in.  This week, I have read post after post, tweet after tweet, blog after blog about Miley.  I like to be in the know if the people I respect, like, or want to like me are talking about something.  It’s in our human nature to want to be included in things (*Cue middle school flashbacks).  Sadly, I think I place more weight on others’ opinions than finding out facts for myself.

3.  Social Media isn’t the best space for promoting peace-making, deep discussions about pros and cons of war, and expressing deep sadness about the brokenness of the world.  Social media is designed for quick quips, sarcastic digs, puns (you knew I was going to include that one), re-postable quotes, and life’s highlight reel. It makes sense that Miley’s VMA perfrmance would trend instantly on twitter and facebok because it’s easy to reduce our thoughts on her performance into 140 characters.  It’s darn near impossible to reduce thoughts on chemical warfare, death of innocent people, and the threat of war into a post on social media. This is not a commentary on social media, it’s a commentary on the fact that I need to find another outlet for regularly investigating world news and discussing the ethics behind conflict.

4.  It’s easier for me to judge than think critically.  I’m good at forming quick opinions about things I think are pretty black and white.  I have clear-cut opinions about modesty, married-folks interactions with people other than their spouses, raising children to have confidence and prudence… you get the picture.  It’s more difficult for me to form opinions around issues that are gray.  Issues with depth and layers and huge implications aren’t so black and white.

I don’t love gray areas and philosophy wears me out.  Seeming never-ending issues like world conflict are crazy-making for me since there’s no easy solution.  So I’d rather waste my time judging a celebrity than engaging in difficult discussions.

I know there’s more to this, and I hope that I will continue to dig deep and think about this.  Does this resonate with you?  Do you have any additions to this list?

I know I need to make some changes regarding the information that I take in and the information that I put out.  The world needs more peacemakers and less gossip columnists.

 

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Sassy Friday: Christians and Tantrums

I posted this back in the winter when Christians were ranting about gun control, but I thought it fitting to repost today with all the buzz I’m seeing about #doma. Replace references to gun ownership with doma and my feelings remain. Let’s not be resounding gongs or clanging symbols, regardless of our stance, lets show love.

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Call me a hipster, but I’m over social media tantrums.

I’m especially over outspoken Christians who are tantruming on social media. I’m over Christians ranting and raving and sensationalizing political initiatives. I’m over Christians saying we have a dictator for a president. I’m over Christians spending more time talking poorly about our leaders than praying for them. I’m over Christians confusing their political opinions with the gospel.

I don’t get all hot and bothered because I disagree with folks, I get hot and bothered because the majority of the social media temper tantrums I see are
a) not well-informed (ie uneducated)
b) sensationalized
c) not productive
and mostly
d) giving Christians a bad reputation

Christians, please do your research. The Bible talks about desiring knowledge and wisdom. Make sure that you are consulting varied news sources for your information. Just like with research papers in school, it’s best to have varied sources to verify information. News sources are no different, check your sources; vary your sources.

Christians, we are in an information age. People are passing information faster than ever before. But just like that game “telephone” we all used to play in elementary school, information gets changed as it gets passed from person to person. Let’s not get worked up because of something that so and so heard from so and so. Let’s not let our favorite news caster spark fear. Again, go back to the last point and do your research. Also, keep perspective. Remember in what country we live. Remember that there are people in the world who are starving, people who don’t have clean drinking water, people who are killed because of their ethnicity or religion. Keep perspective about where you opinions fall in the grand scheme of the problems of the world. Your ability to own as many guns as you want is less important than the 27 million people who are enslaved today in the world. (Keepin’ it real since 1982 folks).

Christians, we are supposed to be light in darkness, we are supposed to add savor and flavor to the world. If all we are adding is negativity, we aren’t doing a great job at our job. If all we do is complain about things, we aren’t spreading good news. If all we do is bash our leaders when we are commanded to pray for them, we aren’t in line. Instead of posting complaints and rants, let’s post about what we care about. Let’s give solutions, not just problems.

Lastly, Christians, we have a responsibility to one another to uphold the reputation of our brothers and sisters. As an outspoken Christian, my attitudes, behaviors, and comments affect the public opinion about Christians in general. That’s a weighty responsibility. Please remember that in your words, conversations, and social media posts and I’ll try to do the same.

In summary, no one likes a 2 year old tantrum, but it’s sort of expected and definitely understandable. No one likes an adult tantrum; it’s unexpected and undesirable, period.

Radical Exemptions? Week Sum Up

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Thanks so much for being part of our Radical Exemptions Series.

This week, I shared some thoughts I had about this article.  I couldn’t shut off this idea:

“The truth is, we don’t get temporary leave from following Jesus’ call when we have life changing events like going off to college, or starting a new job, or getting married, or even having children.  Our family status doesn’t interrupt or exempt our calling, although, it might impact the scope and reach of our calling.”

Knowing I can’t speak from experience about following Jesus with children, I asked some of my friends who have children to share how they are following Jesus.

On Tuesday, we heard from Ruth who lives in Asia, who was honest about the fact that even though she is living a life many of us would see as radical from this side of the ocean, that she battles monotony and intentionality in her life.  She shared some practical ways that she fights the battle of the routine.

If you ask God to show you openings in your life, he will.  Just be prepared: it probably won’t be comfortable and orderly and fit nicely into your schedule.”

On Wednesday, we heard from Molly, who lives in smallish town Alabama, who talked about creating a Kingdom-Minded Family.  She gave great Scriptural background to how she and her husband are raising their children and using their homes and regular lives to point others to Jesus.

“The Gospel is the only antidote to my selfish cravings to live to please myself.  And the more I am consumed by the Gospel, the less radical Christ’s commands actually seem.”

On Thursday, we heard from Jon and Jan, who live in an intentional community in San Diego.  They shared about how they are raising their daughters to be global citizens that are kingdom-minded – for the whole kingdom of God, not just the American Kingdom.  They gave some practical ideas of how they are doing that.

“We quickly realized that the very best gift we could give our children is to live the kind of life we would desire them to live as faithful followers of Jesus”

And on Friday, we heard from Shannon, who lives in suburban Northern California.  She talked about being a faithful Christ-follower with a growing family.  She shared about their adoption story, and the fear she confronted with saying “yes” to God.  She also shared about how her goal is to remember her main purpose in the midst of everyday life with four children.

“I am grateful I didn’t let fear stop God’s plan.”

As I read my friends’ stories this week, I was struck with a lot of thoughts:

1.  I have some amazing friends, who inspire and challenge me daily.  And you didn’t even get to hear from most of them.  I’m so thankful for the remarkable people God has placed in my life.  Thank you for being amazing!

2.  Being radical doesn’t always look all that radical.  Not all of us are missionaries, and even those of us that are have very normal aspects to our lives.  Being radical looks like visiting widows down the street, and opening our homes to college students who want a homecooked meal, and giving up “me time” to call a friend who is hurting.  Being radical looks like sacrificing our entertainment budget to help friends adopt a child, or going on a mission trip rather than a vacation, or inviting the homeless woman we pass on the street over for coffee.  Most people will never know about our stories of complete radical following of Jesus, and that’s ok.  Sometimes that’s what makes it radical.

3.  Raising children who know what it really costs to follow Jesus requires intention.  And I see so many friends doing this beautifully!  It happens during nighttime prayers when you pray for children in other parts of the world.  It happens when you play at a playground in a different part of town where the moms and dads and kids have a different skin color than you.  It happens when you get wild and decide to take your two children under the age of four on a mission trip to Africa with you.  It happens when you let your children stay in the room when you and your friends are struggling through scriptures and sharing how you’re grappling with the hard stuff.

4.  All of us, parents or not, need reminders sometimes to give God our everyday ordinary lives and do something different with them.  We need to be reminded to ask, “Am I where you want me to be?”  “Am I serving how you want me to serve?”  “Who have you placed in my life that I can love well?”  Sometimes that’s our kids, or our partner, or our neighbor, or a child in India, or our pastor, or our child’s teacher, or that annoying coworker, or the homeless man down the road…  There’s so much potential in our everyday lives, let’s be open to God.

I’ll leave you with the verse we started with (Romans 12:1)“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”

Radical Exceptions? Following with a Growing Family

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Thanks for joining this week as we discussed the ideas of there being exceptions to following Jesus in the series Radical Exemptions?  We talked particularly about parents and the call to follow Jesus.  And since I am not a parent, I turned the blog over to parents all week who talked about how they are continuing to follow Jesus with a growing family.  Here’s Tuesday’s guest post, here’s Wednesday’s, and here’s yesterday’s in case you missed them.

And I don’t want to leave anyone out.  If you have ideas and thoughts to share, here’s how you can do that.

Today’s final guest post comes from Shannon Krueger.  Shannon and I met in California through our husbands, who were both serving as youth pastors at different churches.  They are a family that has embraced the idea of organic outreach and believes in sharing Jesus in natural rhythms and relationships.  Shannon and her husband, Keith, live in Northern California with their daughters Alexandra, Hannah, and Elliyah, and their son, whose adoption is nearing completion (but whose name must be kept confidential until that time).  I know you’ll enjoy hearing Shannon’s take on following Jesus as a family.

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Being a follower of Jesus has been by far the best adventure of my life! It’s definitely like being on a roller coaster with twists, turns, ups, and downs. I answered the call and became a follower of Jesus in 2000 and it has been a wild ride ever since. I was reflecting on this wild ride this week and how even during the very challenging times Jesus has been right there with me. He was celebrating with me with the highs and carrying me through the lows.

Jesus calls us to love and serve him wherever we are. This may be in an overseas mission field, across the country or it may be right in our own home. I love that Jesus is so creative because it provides limitless possibilities to shine for Him! One way we are following Jesus is by growing our family through adoption. My husband is adopted and has had a desire to adopt for as long as he can remember. For me it was a different story. God really did a work on my heart and placed a desire in me to adopt, but it didn’t happen overnight. The Lord has used my husband to help me see that the decision to adopt is not about me. It isn’t about me not being able to handle four children and it’s not about my inability to handle the challenges we are going to face. It is about making a difference in one child’s life. It is giving a child an opportunity to love and be loved, it is providing a loving home for him to grow and most importantly it is sharing the love of Jesus with him.

We started the adoption process with an introduction class and paperwork in 2008. We had finished our first round of paperwork and the next step was to meet our social worker. Well SURPRISE I found out I was pregnant the week we were going to meet our social worker! Talk about adventure…this was not even on our radar, let alone with our plan of adoption. We had to let our social worker know that we would be calling back in a few years. Fast forward to 2011 and after our youngest daughter’s 2nd birthday we decided to start the process of adoption again. We filled out paperwork, answered lots of questions, took adoption preparation classes, read a bunch of books, and prayed A LOT! After preparing our hearts and home, we received a call about a boy who needed a home in October 2012. We were on vacation and when we returned we had two days to get his bedroom all ready. The night before we were going to meet this boy we found out he wasn’t going to be coming after all.

There was no doubt God knew who our son was and He would bring him to us at the right time, but it still hurt. A few weeks later we found out about another boy who needed a home. As we have learned with the process of adoption there are always twists and turns. We didn’t end up meeting this boy until January. The day we met him my husband and I knew he was our son. We had him stay with us several times, we went to visit him several times and in March 2013 he came to live with us forever. We are still going through the adventure of court hearings and waiting periods for the adoption to become final, but God has made it very clear to us that this boy is the son we have prayed and waited for.

I have been thinking a lot about the adventure of parenthood. One of the biggest ways God has been growing me is overcoming fear. I was so afraid of having 4 children and the challenges of adoption. God meets me where I am at each time and every step of the way has reminded me to keep following Him, that this is part of His plan. Even though we are only a few months into having four children, I am grateful I didn’t let fear stop God’s plan.

I know some people think that being a stay at home mom is boring and mundane. And believe me I am not a fan of the laundry and other chores, but the challenge for me is to not lose sight of my main purpose. My role is to show Jesus to my children. I have only led two people to Jesus in my life and those two people were my oldest daughters. I do hope as God continues to use me that I will have the privilege of leading more people to Christ.

So how am I serving Jesus every day? When I die to self and serve my family by managing our home, I am showing them Jesus. When I home school our son so that he can get caught up and have an easier transition to his new life, I am showing him Jesus. This year I organized informal prayers walks with a few other moms. I printed up the staff list at my daughters’ school and we walked the neighborhood around the school praying for each person on staff. We usually had a few of our younger children in a baby carrier, stroller, or walking with us.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” I am definitely weak! I do not in any way have it all together. I am constantly asking for forgiveness and feel like I am falling short as a mom. But what I do know is that if I keep asking Jesus to use me, He will. The other day my son said he wants to be a police officer and one of my daughters said she wants to be a social worker to help children like her brother. All of this hard work is not in vain. My main prayer for my children is that they will love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. If my husband and I raise them to not only have a relationship with Jesus but to show Jesus to others around them, then impacting our four children will impact others who will impact others.

We are in a season of pouring a lot of our time and energy into our four children. We are in that stage of just trying to survive each day and a lot of people are showing Jesus to us through their prayers, meals, helping with the kids, encouragement, etc. But as we come up for air we will be able to bless our community more. That might be picking up trash as we walk home from school, praying for a friend who is struggling, baking some goodies for our neighbors, visiting a convalescent home, and whatever other creative ways God asks us to show people who He is. We are eternally grateful that He allows us to be a part of this incredible journey!

Radical Exemptions – Link Up and Thought Sharing

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Has this week’s series’ stirred up some thoughts for you?  Do you want to share them?

If you blog, I’d love for you to post your reactions, thoughts, ideas…  On Saturday, we’ll have a big idea sharing party.  But I wanted to give you a few days notice so you’d have time to put your thoughts together.  On Saturday, copy and paste the link to your Radical Exceptions? post into the comments on this blog.  Feel free to use the header we’ve used all week and feel free to link to this series in your blog.  I’ll share that link on Saturday and we can all read what others are thinking, dreaming, disagreeing with.  Good?

What if you don’t blog, but you have some ideas of how you are following Jesus as a parent? (or maybe not as a parent, if you aren’t one)?  Shoot me a facebook message or email me with your ideas.  If you could keep the ideas brief and more in bullet form than essay form, that would be great.

Then, on Saturday, I’ll post all your ideas.  I’ll share your blog link ups and your ideas and we’ll just share, share, share.

You in?

Radical Exemptions? Raising Children to be Global Citizens

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Thanks for joining in this series Radical Exemptions?.  This series is all about following the call of Jesus and how that call to follow Jesus is pretty radical.  We’re talking particularly about parents following the call of Jesus because of this article that started the whole discussion.  Since I’m not a parent, I acknowledged that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and have turned the blog over to friends this week who are sharing how they are continuing to follow Jesus now that they have children.  (Here is Tuesday’s guest blog in case you missed it, and here is Wednesday’s).  I hope you’ll continue to join us for the rest of the week as we continue this series.

Today’s guest blog comes to you from Jon and Jan Huckins (although they will always be Jonny and Janny to us).  We met the Huckins in Northern California through a small group of Youth Pastors & Wives.  We ate together, shared about ministry struggles and victories together, the men surfed together, and we cried together.  We always admired Jon and Jan’s adventurous spirits and deep desire to make an impact on the world.   Jon & Jan have two daughters; Ruby and Rosie and they all live in Southern California (when they aren’t traveling the world).  I can’t wait for you to read today’s guest post!

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Before we had kids, we loved to travel, had worldview stretching experiences and were all together creative in how we lived the lives we had been given.  For us, having the right kind of experiences meant far more than have the right kind of house, car or other possession that could be associated with “success.”  As we reflect on our development individually and as a couple in the context of marriage, it is clear that these experiences (and resulting relationships) have shaped us more significantly than any classroom or lecture series.  It has been the classroom of real life relationships that have formed us into global citizens who follow a Jesus with a global reign.

And then we had kids…

Having heard that we would finally have to “slow down” or change our unorthodox way of life with the wee ones around, we were feeling a bit anxious about this new stage of life.  Would the most life giving elements of our life quickly be swept away in exchange for dirty diapers and trips to the laundry mat?

Well, they could have been, but we quickly realized that the very best gift we could give our children is to live the kind of life we would desire them to live as faithful followers of Jesus.  In other words, if we are to be role models to our children, we need to live the kind of life we’d hope they’ll live someday.

So, we figured we’d just keep on living the unorthodox way of life and bring ’em along with us.  That’s why God made front packs and folding strollers for crying out loud!!

We are far from having things figured out, but here are a few key learnings we aspire to embody…

Faithful Living In Exchange For Fear Based Parenting

There are few things harder that releasing control (even if its just a little!) over the well being of your child, but in order to faithfully live into the call we know God has for us, it has become a nonnegotiable.  Rather than fear based parenting, we want to willingly step into those situations and experiences that will stretch us and expose our children to the kind of people and places they wouldn’t encounter if we don’t jump off the path of security.  Janny feels called to support and come alongside families who have come to San Diego as persecuted refugees.  Rather than going alone, she chooses to bring our daughter (Ruby) and invite her right into the middle of an experience that would stretch any mother’s protective instincts.  With dozens of snotty nosed kids running around, women from all over the world gobbling up our little 8-month old and kissing her face, Janny has to intentionally release control for the sake of faithfully being present in the places and relationships she has been called.  As a result, not only do these sweet women call Ruby “habibti” (my love), Ruby is learning to see others through the lens of a shared humanity rather than a set of cultural, religious or social constructs.

Kingdom Values VS American Ideals

We deeply desire our children to view themselves as global citizens.  In other words, rather than only seeking the good of our neighborhood, region or country, we want them to seek the good of the world.  We desire for them to see the direct lines between the way we shop, vote and live here in the US with the impact of our brothers and sisters half way across the globe.  In an effort to live simply (we really don’t have a choice on this one!) and to advance the common good globally, we try to shop at thrift stores (and host neighborhood clothing swaps!) as much as possible.  Our kids sure don’t know the difference and we hope that they view thrift stores as their department stores!  Another example is that we choose to buy multi-cultural baby dolls for our daughters so they see diversity as normative, rather than princesses and barbie dolls.  Although sometimes uncomfortable, make these types of decisions in the small things so we can promote well rounded world-views and experiences.  Who knows if it will work, but we at least giving it a shot when we are able!

Invitation Rather than Isolation

Lastly, we really try to do our best at inviting our children into the natural rhythms of our life, work and worship as much as possible.  Rather than removing the kids from our times of community worship, we are learning to celebrate their presence (even when it isn’t all the pleasant!) as part of the worship.  Also, we invite our kids into the lives of our adult friends.  Having committed to walk intentionally with a community of Jesus followers means we have also committed our children to walk with these people.  Although we may do some things differently, we are learning to release some of our control and allow our kids to be invited into the lives of those that love us most.  It is now to the point that Ruby has to pray for EVERY person in our faith community before we go to bed.  We never thought prayer could be so exhausting!

In the end, things are very different than before we had kids.  Things certainly move a bit slower.  Things often don’t go in the way we envision.  And things are viewed through a much different lens.  But we are realizing that is the beauty of family and a continual process of learning to live lives of selflessness, hospitality and generosity.  Parenting has become one of the most dynamic forms of discipleship.

Blessings on your families as you navigate these waters and please share your best practices!

Radical Exemptions? Living Overseas Doesn’t Exempt Me From the Ordinary

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Thanks for joining in this week’s series “Radical Exemptions“.  Yesterday, we started a discussion about following Jesus fully, intentionally, and sacrificially.  We talked about the fact that following Jesus means that we follow with him in many seasons of life (some of which some of us will experience and some of which some of us will not): singleness, dating, marriage, children, retirement, caring for aging parents…  We noted that we don’t get sidelined for certain seasons when it comes to being a follower.  We looked at an article that sparked the whole discussion about parents, in particular, being radical with their faith.  So we honed in on parents.  Since I’m not a parent, I’ve asked friends who are to guest post all week about how they are following Jesus in their everyday lives.  For the rest of the week, we’ll look at how they are teaching their children to follow Jesus, and how they are continuing to follow Jesus with their children as a part of that story.

I met Ruth (Ruthie back then) over the summer of 2001 after receiving a roommate assignment letter for my freshman year at Asbury University (Asbury College back then).  Despite our different backgrounds, personalities, and fashion sense, we became dear friends.  I consider Ruth a friend and a sister, and I deeply respect her life and her calling.  She lives with her husband, Kevin, and daughter Juliana in China. Baby #2 is due sometime in early fall.

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I put in a load of laundry then thread my way through the maze of toys on the ground to check if there are enough left-overs for dinner.  I convince my 2 year old to sit on the potty (oh, the joys of potty training) and browse diaper patterns for the baby on the way.  I make a cup of coffee and forget to drink it.  My life is very ordinary.  Oh, except I live in China.

I’m currently studying one of the world’s most difficult languages without any special language aptitude.  I cook on a one-burner stove in a kitchen that freezes over in the winter, but I’m just glad we got rid of the hordes of nasty roaches.  My daughter watches Chinese cartoons, loves tofu snacks, and thinks her grandparents live in the computer on Skype.  When we go out people stare at the strange foreigners and run over to take pictures on their cell phones.  If you were here, you would probably find many things strange and fascinating.  But after seven years, even the strange parts of my life have become ordinary.

Sometimes at the end of the day I wonder, “Does it really matter that I’m here?  Am I doing anything more significant than laundry?”  Even in China, it’s easy to get consumed by the mundane.  I never realized before how much time and energy children take (and I still only have one!).  How do we accept the mundane, embrace our role as parents, and resist complacency all at the same time?

Well, fortunately I have some super profound and experienced thoughts categorized numerically to make them seem more organized:

1. Don’t separate the mundane and the sacred.  Cooking is a part of life, and you can only go so long without washing clothes and still expect people to hang out with you. I’ve heard people talk about praying as they fold laundry and memorizing verses in the shower.  It sounds like a great idea and always makes me feel guilty that I’m likely composing a mental to-do list or thinking about something I saw on Facebook (Sorry to shatter the illusion…moving overseas doesn’t suddenly turn you super-spiritual.  I know, I was disappointed too.)  But guilt-factor aside, we’ve got to stop dividing our lives into “the boring, meaningless stuff” and “the exciting, super-spiritual stuff.”  God loves to meet and teach us in the midst of the mundane.

 2. Invite people into our lives…the laundry room as well as the living room.  Let people see you in the mundane aspects of life – how you respond to your kids when they are screaming and what you do when the washer is breaks again.  In a mostly non-creepy way, people are watching you.  Not just the “smiling nicely in your Sunday clothes” you but the “up with the baby all night, haven’t showered in two days” you.  That’s where the real you comes out -not always glamorous, but authentic.

3. Realize there are periods of life when the mundane kinda takes over.  I just got through three months of fabulous morning sickness where I did little except move between the couch and the toilet and meditate on how I felt like dying.  Laundry was difficult and cooking pretty much out of the question; dragging myself to class was about as much as I could handle.  Some periods of life are like that.  It’s hard enough just to get by.  Accept it; it won’t last forever.  But if you find all of your life is just struggling to get by, maybe it’s a sign to either re-prioritize or reach out for help.

4. Don’t separate parenting from “a life of adventure.”  Parenting will certainly change what you do and how, but it shouldn’t be the death sentence for influence outside the home.  You may not have the flexibility you did before, but parenting can actually expand your spheres of influence.  For me, becoming a parent has had a very humanizing effect: “Oh, the strange foreigner is a mother too.  Maybe she’s not so strange after all.”  Lots of people approach us now that never would have before; kids tend to lower the intimidation factor.  They give an automatic “in” with other parents, grandparents, and people who like kids.  And in their own simple ways, children speak truths in ways we might not be able to.  When we stop thinking of them as obstacles, children can be a great asset to our “life of adventure.”

 5.  Ask for opportunities.  A life of adventure may mean packing up and moving to China or fostering a child.  It may mean befriending the grouchy old woman down the street who seems all alone.  It may mean starting a playgroup of people very different from you.  If you ask God to show you openings in your life, he will.  Just be prepared: it probably won’t be comfortable and orderly and fit nicely into your schedule.  It will more likely look something like this: You are in the middle of a super busy day, your children are fighting fiercely, the house is a mess, and someone you find kind of annoying shows up at your door for an unexpected chat.  You consider pretending you’re not home, but instead you take a deep breath and invite that annoying person into your messy, honest life.  And from there, you just never know what will happen.