The Humanity of Our Antagonists

I’d like to preface this by saying that I am not a film/theater critic. I’m merely writing this as someone who appreciates The Phantom of the Opera, as someone who has seen a few too many one-sided narratives in my life so far, and as someone who is always on a hunt for nuance in stories.

A few weeks ago, I watched Phantom of the Opera (2004) with my husband. This was the first time I’d watched it in probably four or five years—certainly the first time I’d seen it since having children. Phantom has always been one of my favorite musicals.… Continue Reading

Forever Camping (Or, Interdependence and the Belovedness of Community)

I have a distinct childhood memory of one summer spent camping somewhere in Oregon on our family vacation. My sister and I pedaled about on our little bikes, befriending new kids in adjacent campsites, hurtling throughout the campground in a pack of small bicycles with no regard to the one-way arrows posted by some septuagenarian campground manager. One of the pleasures of camping is the freedom to unabashedly observe the possessions and paraphernalia of the campers around you, you smell each other’s food (for better or for worse), and you hear each other’s late night music and conversations.… Continue Reading

Living in Weakness: My Story of Anxiety

“Live leaning in when the pain is fierce

Oh, the bow, it will break at his coming

Stand who can understand the design

The refining holy fire.

Oh, gracious light. Oh, gracious light

I have been walking, walking so long, in darkness.”

(Sandra McCracken, Oh, Gracious Light)

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There is an episode of Call the Midwife, where an elderly woman with a gynecological malady (I can’t remember what) comes in to the clinic asking for help. The midwife calls a doctor to assist, and the doctor diagnoses an ongoing disorder.… Continue Reading

Eden and My Girls

Elise is wide eyed at everything, from the start of each day. Her wide eyes search me out in the morning hours, and she is keen to touch my face as she greets me. In fact, she touches every face she can reach, no matter how unfamiliar the face. To her, every person is attractive, a potential friendship.

She zealously crawls about the house, hungry to see and touch everything within reach; when she finds an item of interest, she stops to taste it and forgets all else.… Continue Reading

Five Years’ Time

In February five years ago, I flew to Myanmar for the first time. I had never been to a developing country before. I had considered and sworn off the idea of cross cultural work back in college, my business studies leaving me certain that westerners overseas did more harm than good.

But I came to Myanmar, planning to see Yangon and Rakhine state, and experience the place my fiancé had called his home for the past seven years. It was to be a three-week visit, and for two of those three weeks, I wanted to be anywhere but Myanmar.… Continue Reading

Christmas is for the Oppressed and the Oppressor

The Christmas story is not really a very nice story. We have made it that way through years of re-telling, whimsical stories and songs, and whitewashed nativity scenes. But the nativity story is really dominated by themes of power, patriarchy, vulnerable people, injustice, genocide and poverty. If you were reading the Christmas story for the first time, the stage that is set is not one upon which you would expect to find God.

Before I moved overseas, my love for Christmas was love for the folksy story many westerners know and celebrate; my understanding of Christmas was incomplete.… Continue Reading

Elisabeth’s Arrival

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Elisabeth’s Birth Story

I only had time for one pre-natal appointment with my Chiang Mai OB before giving birth to Elise. At the appointment my doctor echoed the words of my Myanmar OB and mentioned that I was measuring small and that the baby seemed small. I wasn’t overly concerned, as they said the same thing about Lena, and she was 6.5 pounds at birth (She was born at 38.5 weeks). I was nearly 37 weeks at this appointment, so I expected that I had some time for the baby to pack on some more weight before birth.… Continue Reading

International Women’s Day: A Defense and a Lament

When my daughter was born, the medical staff asked what name to write down. Without looking at one another, my husband and I both replied, “Magdalena.” We had another name in mind too, but as soon as we saw her face, we knew we wanted her to carry the story of a woman loved by God and chosen as the first to see his resurrected face. In a society where a woman’s testimony and personal worth had little value, it seems no mistake on God’s part that he chose a woman as a first witness to his resurrection.… Continue Reading

To Lena: All you have to do is be my daughter (Or, My child is not a missionary)

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To Lena, as you grow up

You get to be our child, and that is all you have to be. Yes, your childhood is set to be quite different from that of your North American peers, your challenges different. When well meaning people say things about being a “little missionary,” don’t take it to your heart, my dear. In North America, an accountant’s daughter is not expected to be concerned with tax code, a fireman’s child is not expected to respond to emergency calls in the dead of night, and no one is asking a trucker’s child to obtain a commercial license and know all the best routes to drive in winter weather.… Continue Reading

A Beach where Zebras Roam

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In our Pacific Northwest home, nature was as close as one’s backyard, or as far as a 20-minute drive to a well-wooded park. It didn’t take too much effort to get away from the sight of buildings or even other people, and was not difficult to find places where nature dwarfs humanity. In Yangon, there is no such luxurious way to get a change of pace. In the past year, I can only think of one 30-minute period of time where I could neither see nor hear other human beings.… Continue Reading