I was slurping a steamy bowl of pho while the friend across the table from me ranted. She went on me listed wrong after wrong that her family had done. She told me how she responded and the clever lines she had used. And I completely agreed with her inside, but I paused briefly from my soup while she stopped long enough for me to comment...and I am certain that she did not like what I had to say.
I told her she was right on the money. She grinned, glad to have my support.
And it was a really big but.
That she could chose to be right OR she could chose relationship.
Sometimes we do not get to have both.

She kept talking. Justifying her response. And her actions. And I just slurped my soup and listened
Only to tell her it doesn't matter.
She has to choose which is more important, being right and letting everyone know it or mending the relationship.

I haven't talked to her recently. But I think she chose being right.
And sometimes that is the necessary choice. Not every relationship should be mended.
But. Often. I chose to be right when I should just choose to be quiet.
When I should choose love.

I am quick with words and rebuttals. My introverted husband doesn't stand a chance in a verbal argument. I am right even when I am wrong. But it doesn't come without a cost. Lingering feelings and anger often for things I can't even remember what the initial argument was about.

Yesterday I stayed home sick. My daughter, also stayed home sick, but her sick looked more like loudly dancing around the living room and interrupting me about every 5 minutes to ask a question. I got zero rest and ended up on Facebook and the internet.
And the more I read. The sicker I felt.

Lots of people out there, with the best of intentions were choosing to be right. Rather than relationship. (Just google World Vision if you are in the dark here and be warned, some of you are going to want to stop reading now).

Some things are worth taking a stand for, and even if I agreed with their version of right...(which I don't)... I have always admired people with solid convictions...because mine have always been a bit murky. But. If they are going to choose right over'd think that it would at least be something that Jesus felt called to least once. (He did however mention feeding the poor at least 9 times).

God is righteous and holy and perfect. And since humans are big sin slobbering messes, He spent a good chunk of the Old Testament telling us how to clean it up. Who is unclean and who isn't. What to eat and what not to eat. Where to sit and where not to sit. I could go on for days because there are 613 laws in the Old Testament, essentially telling us how to be righteous and holy and get clean.
God kept trying. Giving the Jewish people more rules, reminders, rituals and even followed them around in a cloud through the desert. But. That was not enough.
Humanity was still a mess. We were still getting it wrong.

So instead of condemning us. He chose relationship.
He chose to come and dwell among us. While we were still dirty and messy and all kinds of screwed up. He picked fishermen and tax collectors to be his disciples. He talked to women and children. He touched the unclean. He broke all the rules.

I am so tired of people trying to be right.
Especially when it so hurtful.
I don't think this is the example of the guy I keep reading about.
Every single time when it came down to being right or being in relationship-- Jesus chose relationship. He occasionally spoke sharply but he never spoke hate. He chose the messy and the marginal.
And long before they got cleaned up or probably even washed the fish smell off their hands.
And for some reason I still have a hard time fathoming...he chose me.

I almost never write about things political or controversial.  It makes me uncomfortable and opens up the table to arguments I don't want to be in, but I read enough of people being right yesterday that it just felt so incredibly wrong. You may not agree with me. That is fine. You don't have to. Hopefully we can still be friends and you won't send me a nasty email or write a long hurtful comment about how right you are.

A few years ago a friend wrote me from Peru, heartbroken. She had just ended a relationship and was in that dark ugly place we have all been where the only solution is lots of time, ice cream and Air Supply's greatest hits. I tried to be kind and relate to her hurt.....but my response only made it worse. You see, her heart break was over a girl. And one of the questions that she asked me was if this was her punishment.  If she would always be alone because she desired a wife rather than a husband.
I completely dodged the question. Mostly because I didn't have an answer.
I didn't condemn her, but I wouldn't tell her that wasn't true.
I couldn't answer for her because I told her it wasn't my heart, it wasn't my issue, it wasn't mine to wrestle with. That I didn't have answers but I didn't feel like I needed to. In other words...these are your questions to sort out. I have enough of my own to deal with.
I should also mention this girl loves Jesus passionately and does more to serve the needy and the poor and the widow and the orphan on a single day than I do in an entire month. (and that is on a good month).She wrote back and said this" If people like you won't stand up for me, won't love me without shame or apology, won't fight for my rights as a basic human, then who will?"
I didn't know how to answer, but this time ice cream and sappy love songs wouldn't fix it.

I chose silence and fear of being wrong over relationship...and sometimes that is just as bad.

Different girls. These two I have known since they were tweens, tucked in their too tiny bunks and blowing fuses with too many hair dryers getting ready for the Camp Stewart dance. Now they are amazing women with the cutest kids and glasses I have ever seen (except maybe my kids ). It has been a dusty hill country road that brought them together, but in just a few short months I will sit there in a new dress...probably wiping away a tear or they promise to love each other til death do them part.
Do they love Jesus? I'm not sure. I know they have both been brutally wounded by the church and people they trusted. And days like yesterday on Facebook didn't  help. I do know that they know that God shows up along FM 1340. They have felt him in the cold Guadalupe waters. They have heard him speak in late nights around a fire, laying flat on their backs on the tennis courts counting stars, and laughing til we ache even into our 30s. They know relationship.
And I chose wedding cake and dancing til my feet hurt instead of being right.

I will try to chose love every single time.


My daughter is learning to spell. She can't read yet, but don't tell her that.
So far she has mastered the following words: zoo, her name, her brother's name, the name of a boy in her class (I'll have to investigate this later), and dog. I'm glad that she is learning...although sad that I will no longer be able to spell out words I don't want her to understand, a few of which might only contain four letters.
She is loving this new skill and it has all but taken over many of our conversations. She is constantly asking me what certain letters spell. Unfortunately she just strings together whatever letters spring to mind and 99.9% of the time our conversations go as follow:
"Mom what does c-g-n-t-q spell"
Slightly confused but also proud of her abilities..."That spells nothing?I thought nothing started with an n."
"You didn't actually spell the word does not make a word"
"No, I said what does c-g-n-t-q spell" this time only louder and annunciating slower in case I just didn't understand her properly.
"Sorry Tess, that is not a word"
And she painfully starts to sound it out, like clearly I am an idiot and just do not understand her.
"Tess that is not a real word. At least not in English anyways"
"Well what does it spell in Spanish then?"
By this point I already have a headache, realize I will not win ...and finally just say...."that spells couch" forever crippling her ability to be hooked on phonics.
Buoyed by her success she tries another, "Mom what does p-l-r-z" spell. I have created a monster.
"Alex, I'd like to buy a vowel please."
Clearly my nineties game show humor wasted I give in and say, "That one is easy Tess. Clearly it spells pocket." She nods her head in approval. Like I am finally speaking her language.

I have tried to reason with her. To calmly explain that you can't just string any letters together you want to make a word. If you could we would all be Words With Friends champions and my students would find far less errors on their quizzes and tests. Also, autocorrect would be a whole lot less funny.

But. If you think reason works with my child, at least my younger one, then you have clearly not met her. (Or me, because this apple doesn't fall far from the t-r-e-e).
I may spell just a tad bit better than she does...but....we both share a knack for trying to make things out of nothing. My daughter insists that whatever nonsense letters she puts together must make a word.
I decide in some crazy part of my brain that little thoughtless comments, actions or emails must be significant. I create situations or problems out of little events and sentences that should add up to nothing. I replay conversations in my head unnecessarily. I assign meaning and motivation often when there isn't any. And this ability only gets better in the middle of the night. Maybe I am alone in this, but I doubt it.
Occasionally my daughter strings letters together accidentally that actually spell a real word.
Sometimes these middle of the night scenarios actually take place.
But more often than not they don't.
More often than not we both get it wrong.

Today in the car I asked my daughter to spell dad. I belly laughed as she confidently spelled, " D-O-D-O". I promised my husband that I didn't teach her that. And when my brain is adding up things that were never meant to be added she might as well be spelling M-O-M.

And just in case her future kindergarten teacher is out there reading this, I promise I have tried to to tell her that they're is only one write way to spell a word. (Someone please catch the irony of that was one of my few grammatical errors that was intentional). Some things aren't meant to be created into problems. There are enough real ones out there waiting to be spelled out or solved.
Sometimes things add up to nothing.
For everything else, there is spell check.


I hate leftovers.
I don't reread many books, I rarely rematch movies.
And I am well aware that somethings are better the second time around.
Combine this with a character trait of being too much...
As in I eat too much. I talk too much. I say too much. I buy too much. I drink too much. I even apologize too much.
Pretty much, if anything is worth doing, I believe it is worth overdoing.
And you get a lot of leftovers. Which eventually have to be thrown out.
Right now there is a box of Enos pizza sitting in my fridge.
Enos has the thinnest crust known to man, it is not my favorite pizza, but easily in the top 10... I would marry this pizza if it was legal and I wasn't already spoken for, yet I will have to force myself into eating the leftovers for lunch rather than pulling through for something I like less.

I don't know quite what the aversion is, maybe it is my longing to try new things. To read a new book rather than the same one 5 times. Or maybe it was my moms contentment to mix together whatever leftovers were in the fridge and eat them cold from one container. I am literally gagging thinking about it.
I hate leftovers.
Yet, I also feel bad about excess, I try to not be wasteful or eat too much .  And everyone knows that the portion size of one meal at Pappasitos is for 15 rather than one single stomach (and that is before factoring in the 3 baskets of chips I eat before they bring me my food).
So, I ask for a to-go box. I wrap up my leftovers, or a put half the pasta sauce in the freezer. And I inevitably forget about it for at least a year.
And trust me.....when you leave sushi leftovers in your car overnight. In the Texas heat. is a lesson you only need to learn once, and smell for weeks.

But I am sure that I am missing something here.
Somethings are even better the next day.
Some jokes are only gotten the 23rd time through the movie.
My daughter can quote most Disney movies. Word for word. And I won't even get started on Frozen. And she seems to like them even better the 433rd time. (That very same day). When they were little I had half the kid books memorized. So much of my brain space is taken up with Goodnight Moon (goodnight nobody, goodnight mush) and about every Dr. Sues book known to man.  And apparently theirs is too because they could totally tell when I skipped pages.  My kids could also eat the same box of frozen corndogs for every meal for at least a week straight. They will probably do just fine getting rid of the little white cartoons in their adult fridgerators.

I avoid leftovers, because I don't want to miss out on something new.
They mean more than that. To mean they are boring, frugal, and the same thing I ate yesterday. However, in reality...leftovers are incredibly extravagant.
Extra. More than we need or can eat or can have our fill of.
They are our "too much."

I read a story this morning about Jesus...not only feeding the 5000 with just a few fish and loaves...and if that isn't crazy enough but pointing out that he had the audacity to have leftovers.
Not only was there enough for everyone, but there was too much. Some to take with them for the road.  And that someone in the Bible (or 4 someones) felt the need to note this.
I mean, we know ALMOST nothing about Christ's life from the time he was a baby to when he hit 33.(except for that one cute story about losing him that I'm sure Mary is less than proud of..)
But, we are told about this particular miracle in every single gospel (heck even his birth doesn't show up in every single gospel)....and it doesn't stop with the miracle of feeding a bunch of people. Each story that it takes the time to point out how exactly how much was leftover.

I still live in a world of scarcity.  Worrying that there will be enough.
Money at the end of the month.
We are forever worried about running out or someone else getting what we wanted.

And Jesus simply shows us that there is enough.
For 5000.
For me.
For you.
And that there will be plenty leftover.
12 basketfulls according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And I am pretty sure that is more than will fit in anyone's fridge.
That one little white box in my fridge is starting to sound better and better.

But. We are called to not just eat our fill.
To also give out of this excess.
To unload bag after bag from the back of your car at a Women's shelter, slightly ashamed of my excess. Of all that I had leftover.
Of my too much.
My daughter cried and cried in the backseat because we were giving away one of her dresses.
I tried to explain where it was going. That it was already a tad too short. And that she had a dozen more in her closet. Let someone who doesn't have one get to twirl in it.

She was ok for a minute, the tears subsided and she asked if she could have it back when they were done wearing it.
I said "No, it doesn't work that way." And so she cried some more.
All the way to the snow cone stand where she ordered a red and blue snowcone and ate until the top of her mouth froze, her chin turned purple and she asked me to play the song from Frozen. Again. (and again. and again.) Eventually, 4 rounds of the same song later, we made it home. She had forgotten about her tears. And her dress. And hadn't even finished half of her snowcone.
I asked if she wanted me to put it in the freezer for later or throw it away.
She thought quietly about this for a moment. And then said she had enough and that maybe we could give the rest away.
I don't think anyone really wants the other half of my daughter's melted snow cone.
But.  Maybe. She is getting the right idea about left overs.
About having enough.
About being loved so extravagantly she doesn't have to worry about more. Or later. Or running out. Or even how incredibly cute she looks with a purple snowcone goatee in whatever dress she wears.

The little white box in my fridge reminds me of that.
Of being loved by a God that loves extravagantly.
With plenty left over.

The blind spot

Everything we see is really just light focused onto the back side of your eye. Essentially your retina is like a tiny little movie screen for all of our images to play out on. It is covered with over 100 million photoreceptors to help give your own personal movies color and shape. This is also a good place to mention that the images are all upside down. Or maybe we are the ones upside down? Either way, these images get flipped and sent to our brain via the optic nerve.

Every time I read about light, the eye, optical illusions, and how we see things I am amazed. There is an article on NPR about light and how we see and that seeing is not merely the reception of signals but that it is really more like dancing (go read it...and have your mind blown...or at least something to chew on for a while Or if you are a Vsauce fan, watch the one on color and spend the rest of your day wondering if your red is the same as my red. My students don't always share my enthusiasm. Apparenlty their twitter feed is way more fascinating than my lesson plans. Which is crazy because I don't even tweet.

Last week we were studying lenses and the application of optics. There was a bucket of cow eyes in the store room that no one was using so I cut one up for each of my physics classes so I could show them the lens inside.  And how it wasn't that different from the glass ones laying around on lab tables at the back of the room.  Of course my class was disgusted, completely awake and paying attention for a change while I sliced and diced on my desk under the document camera trying not to get eye juice all over the papers I still needed to grade. Most students did not want a closer look, a few pretended to throw up....but a handful each period came up and wanted to see for themselves. One student pointed out that it looked like it had an iphone charger coming out of the back of it. And he was kind of right. After I'd cut away the fat and tissue, the optic nerve did not look that different from the white cord charging my ipad in the nearest outlet.

Our eyes and light and everything about them is crazy ridiculous. My eyes are getting worse with age. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the amount of reading I do and how incredibly lazy I am. Too lazy to get out of bed or off the couch and turn on the lights. Even if I need glasses these days, my eyes still do the amazing job of turning waves into electrical impulses. I might be near sighted and have a bit of an astigmatism, but even if your eyes are 20/20---as amazing as they are---they are still faulty.

Your retina, that tiny little movie screen in the back of your eye where the images get focused, has a decent size hole right in the middle of it. Almost exactly the same size as an iphone charger cord. There are no photoreceptors where your optic nerve is connected to your eyeball.

In other words -- we all have a blind spot.
Actually, we all have two.
One in each eye.

My students still didn't really get this so I had them draw a circle and an x on the back of their notes. Cover one eye and focus on the circle. Then I told them to slowly pull the paper back until the X disappears. And when the paper gets about 10 or so cm from their face you can hear them discover this for themselves. (google blind spot test and try it for your self). At this point, without fail, someone in each class asks why they don't see holes in what they are reading or seeing all the time. And I remind them that unless they are a pirate or have been in an unfortunate accident that they have two eyes.  That are eyes are relatively symmetric and that one eye's field of vision will compensate for the loss of vision in the other.

Like good friends, they cover for each other.

This morning I was listening to a podcast on my run. And I might be a science geek from 9-5, but on my own time I rarely listen to or read about that stuff. It is Lent so I was listening to an interview of a pastor that I adore. She is covered with tattoos and has a potty mouth and does crazy things like reads litergy, puts a chocolate fountain in the baptismal fount, and talks about brokeness and feeding the poor in words that make me feel a little bit less alone. (Nadia Bolz-Weber in case you were wondering and you should be). This was an interview so there were only snippets and stories but at one point the interviewer asked her about a sermon she had recently done entitled "Loving Our Enemies Even If We Don't Mean It". She responded with how "meaning it is overrated". If we all waited to mean would be a Long. While. And most of us would never get anywhere. She then went on about a phrase that I've never bought....One a pastor at my church did a sermon on something similar last Lenton season...that I particularly liked.
"That God will never give you more than you can bear."
Saying this was also crap, not biblical, not true and particularly not helpful in the midst of someone else's struggle.
Because of course He will. That is kind of the whole point.
If we could bear it we wouldnt need him or each other or grace. It is all more than we can bear. And that maybe if we were going to insist on using that phrase we should at least re-word it to say "God won't give you more than community can bear."

I kept running, but my heart was really listening now.

She explained that at her church that they read the apostles creed and that there is not likely anyone in the room that actually believes every single line of the creed.
Again, that meaning it ALL is overrated. That by saying it in a room full of people --someone in the room probably believes each part of it. Not individually, but collectively.
So in a roomful of people....well, they are covered right?
That we have tried too hard to individualize everything. To believe everything. To be everything. To bear everything.  And that if we try to do it all. Or believe it all. Or be it all that not only will we fail, but that we are missing the beauty of community.

And as I ran I thought about our eyes.
My own blind spots.
The literal iphone charger sized ones. And the still very real ones that have a lot more to do with my heart than my eyes.
My doubts.
The things I attempt to bear and carry and believe.
And that I am thankful that they were never meant to be carried or seen alone.
We are meant for community.
Even our own eyes need each other, is it so suprising that our hearts do as well??