family for today

imageDear Foster Daughter,

Welcome to your new home for a while. Today, you made me the most dad like person I’ve ever been. How weird is that? The singalongs, car dancing, Costco yelling, and brief tea party after I came home from work were the perfect introduction to being the dad of a four year old, even if only for this unknown length of time we get to be together.

I know life’s been pretty weird for the entirety of your life. I also know I don’t even know. I do know that you’re really loved though. You’re loved by your birth parent that’s fighting to figure out how to enter your life in a more whole way again. You’re loved by incredible, sacrificial foster parents before us that have raised you into the burst of sunshine you are today. You’re loved by friends and family and community members you don’t even know. You’re surrounded by love. And yet, tonight as you held my hand from the backseat of the car and wished out loud to be with so many others that weren’t with us, love didn’t feel like enough. What a mess, right?

But here you are: Snoozing across our little hallway, surrounded by stuffed animals you can’t remember the names of, in a house that’s gonna be a home for a while even when that doesn’t make any sense.

You should know that me and your new foster mom are a real hot mess. We’ve got all kinds of crap we’re refiguring out everyday. Tonight after you fell asleep we argued about how to watch the olympics…as if that matters in comparison to anything we just experienced today. But we argued anyway. I sat silently staring off down the hallway thinking about how unqualified I am to operate a tv, let alone help raise you up in this formative time of life right now. But here we all are anyway.

Tonight we talked about how when our family needs to go to Costco, we all go even when we don’t want to and I sort of wanted to tear up because in that moment I acknowledged out loud that we, for today, are in every way a family. What a wild adventure you’re embarking on. I don’t think any of us have any idea what kind of beautiful collision our lives have entered into. I’m really excited to see what happens next though. The months ahead are really going to be something. And maybe, when you’re old enough to understand any of this, you won’t even remember who I am. I hope to God though, that you’d know you were loved and that even when it didn’t seem like enough, it was all we had and that was that.

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New Adventures.

13315496_10154303681193474_801323856064890394_nIt’s easy to forget the way stories work. When you’re stuck in the part of the story where it seems like everything is going to hell, you forget that there are more pages ahead.

Tonight as I ramble on with my words that feel flat when placed in the context of the richness of real life, I’m so grateful to God that the story is unfolding into the parts that are hopeful and beautiful and full of paragraphs that you just want to read over and over again because they just stir something inside your head and your heart that you just can’t help but smile about.

The last two years have been such a messy two years of life. That’s for another blog. I’m thinking about getting into writing more. But also I always say that and then I eat ice cream and watch youtube videos of people popping zits instead. We’re all in different places.

Anyway, sticking with the literary theme of the first paragraph, Lace and I are getting to jump into the next chapter. No, Lacey’s not pregnant. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

What IS happening is as follows:
I GOT A JOB!

Starting the 20th of this month, I’m going to be an employee of Lutheran Community Services. I will be a resettlement caseworker and will have the privilege of walking through life with individuals and families that have fled their homes and are starting part of their life over in the city we’ll both be calling home for now. There is a lot that is traumatic and broken about the resettlement process in our country and I was really quite hesitant to get into this specific position…but that thing about how we plan our stuff but God directs our steps is for real. He’s kind of unfolded this and allowed me to walk in even when I’m not quite qualified. I’m really anxious and also overwhelmed with feeling lucky at the same time. Weird/exciting times! I’m about to have my worldview blown up for the 100th time in the past few years, can’t wait for the messiness of that…here’s to hoping they give me a desk in an office with AC!

Next up:
We’re moving a couple miles away! Goodbye Clackamas and easy access to Chick-fil-A. We had some good times…but it’s time that we embraced some healthy distance in our relationship.

Lace and I have been looking and praying for a new space to move to that is relatively affordable in the Portland area and we have found the kindest landlord ever that is letting us move in and begin prepping for…

BECOMING FOSTER PARENTS.

We’re really really really stoked to become foster parents. While we’ve both really worked hard on our own crap over the past year of life, Lace and I have become more certain than ever that this is something we’re gonna be doing. Like, I feel more sure about being a foster dad than I do going into my new job, or having any kind of career for that matter. I’m really really sure about this step that we’re taking. I couldn’t be more excited/scared out of my mind about it.

We’re not going to be anyone’s savior. We’re not trying to fix anyone. We’re planning on screwing up quite a bit. We’ll probably both cry a lot. A LOT. I’ll probably eat too much ice cream because I’ll be frustrated. But we’re really stoked to join in on the goodness and absolute messiness of helping kids understand what love and safety look like even if for just a few days or months or years at a time. We kicked off our certification process this past Saturday and hopefully will finish up in the coming few months!

So there you have it.
A little update on the adventures of Lacey and Seth.
Wild times, folks. Wild. Times.

(photo cred: jayeads.com)

when the finish line is close but so far away and your eyes are tired and the teapot is empty

IMG_2261The questions are inevitable, with less than a semester left until I finish grad school, people I encounter want to know what’s next. Well, that’s a really great question. I’m not even annoyed by it. I get why some people might be… sometimes there is weird pressure and this thing of proving yourself to all of those that have been watching, and I certainly have been wrestling with some of that. But really, I think if someone cares about you and watches you take out thousands of dollars in student loans, it’s really fair to wonder out loud about what the next part of the journey will look like.

Tonight, I’m feeling the weight of that wonder. The weight is much more self-imposed than anything else. I am wondering what the next steps look like. My current job 25 hour a week job isn’t going to work out when there are more bills to pay and journeys to be lived. Also, I really want to do something with what I’m learning. I really really do.

Today though, the answer is just that I have no idea what is next. No idea.
Honestly, life could look like a zillion different things and I’d probably be okay with it.
I just don’t know what even one of those zillion things are yet.

Grad school makes me tired. Actually, maybe just life makes me tired and grad school is a major player in life right now. Over the past year and a half I’ve spent my days and nights re-figuring out all the things I thought I already understood about myself and God and everything in between. Sometimes before work, I just sit in my car and listen to music in Spanish that I’m trying to learn, but instead I just stare at this one tree that always blows around in the wind that I always park in front of and I wonder about how I ended up working at an alternative high school in the most random job of my life.

And I wonder how I ended up getting married to the most gracious woman ever.
I wonder how I’ve lived in Portland for almost two years and haven’t gotten a tattoo yet.
I wonder how God can be good in the midst of so much brokenness.
I wonder if all the dreams that Lacey and I have and had will ever come into real life.
I wonder how Donald Trump is a serious contender for the president of the United States.
I wonder how people still believe that racism is over and then I wonder what role I play in creating and adding to racist systems that seem to be thriving in my own city.
I wonder if our student loans will ever be paid off.
I wonder how grace can be real.
I wonder if I’ll ever be able to drink coffee again.
I wonder if all that I hope for and hope in is at good as it seems in my head and my heart.

I wonder if my back acne will ever go away.
I wonder if I’ll be able to get a new highs score on the one game I play on my phone.
I wonder if I’ll ever be able to live like I was made to live. If I’ll be able to understand the eternity that’s been set in my heart.
Just average things.

And then I finish up my morning yogurt and go into the school I work at where I feel totally out of place and like I’m in WAY over my head most days.

And some nights I go to class until 8 or 9 o’clock. And some nights I go to counseling because I need help at loving myself and Jesus and my wife and everyone that’s everywhere in-between. And some nights I stare at the pages and turn them before realizing that I’m too tired to take it all in.

But then some nights, Lacey and I eat cake and ice cream together for no particular reason while we watch some kind of movie. Lately, while attempting to be romantic, we’ve watched movies about genocide, alzheimer’s, and abductions. We’re fairly cute, to say the least.

Sometimes it’s good for the soul to write a bunch of stuff down while drinking tea.

I guess I just know that so many people I know are trying to figure this stuff out too (not sure about the back acne…but a lot of the other stuff) and I think I want to be better at being in community and I’m not so good at it sometimes. Not authentically and consistently anyway. I want to celebrate more. I want to wrestle with big ideas with people more.

I’m not sure where I’ll be vocationally in the next year, but I know that I never want to stop living a life full of wonder and full of good people.

Here’s to entering a season of lent remembering that we already know the end. We already know that death loses…but sometimes we have to stumble around in the dark before we get to live in all of the light. I like that Jesus is in all of it. I like that Easter is not all that far away- in so many ways I know that new, redeemed, meaningful life is coming for us all.

What a deal. What a freaking good deal.

2016

I am welcoming this new year with a deep, reassuring breath.
I have been ready for this year to start.
Lacey and I got to roll into this new year surrounded by some of our very favorite people in the world. Some of the coolest nieces and nephews in Southern California. Well, I guess, to be honest, I think I fell asleep around 10 PM on New Year’s Eve, but when I woke up I heard this guy early in the morning whispering through a crack in the door that “dinner was being cooked”
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There are few things in the world that I love more than the sound of these ones running around yelling, “Uncle SETH, get me, no don’t get me…okay, get me! TICKLE ME!” Few things are more wonderful than seeing my wife in full-on Auntie Lacey mode. Loving people so well and seemingly so effortlessly.
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I mean, is there anything more beautiful?

These past several months of life have been ridiculously hard, and getting to bookend them with visits to our wonderful fam down in So. California (right after spending lots of days with our incredible families in Oregon) has helped bring such a needed to joy into our souls. We are the very luckiest.

I find myself saying that a lot lately. That I’m lucky. I don’t really believe in luck. But also I’m tired of #blessed. What I mean by being lucky is just this idea that all of the good things I’ve been given (abundant grace) have been just so unmerited. It’s nothing I deserve. I deserve the opposite and more…and yet, here I am. Living the dream, seriously. (minus the student loan debt…I don’t think that’s anyone’s dream).

I mean, I’m getting my Master’s Degree in something I REALLY love. I’m married to the most gracious, forgiving, beautiful woman in the world (who happens to be everyone’s favorite teacher). We are surrounding by a whole community of friends and family that love us and root for us always. We have enough money in the bank account to buy my favorite black bean dip from Trader Joes. We are getting increasingly involved in our faith community. We get to do homework and grade papers to the sounds of a record player and music we love almost every night and we can do that safely in our warm little apartment. We have abundantly more than we could hope for. We are the luckiest ones. I’m not bragging. I’m just surprised and thankful that life has turned into something so much better than I would have thought it might when 2015 started.

2016 is sure to be full of it’s own adventures, hurts, and celebrations. I’m stoked to see what’s to come. This year though, I’m looking forward to taking each day a day at a time and soaking in all that God has to show us.
Here’s what I’m shooting for so far:
1. Graduating from Grad School
2. Getting to know my wife better than ever before
3. Getting to know the character of God better than ever before
4. Reading a Harry Potter book for the first time (I’ve never read or watched the guy…my wife is a BIG ol’ fan) AND then going to Harry Potter World or whatever it’s called.
5. Getting healthier again. Grad school has been rough on my midsection and feeling good in general.
6. Getting a job that has something to remotely do with the degree I’ll hopefully get.
7. Learning a couple’s dance routine with Lacey while watching So You Think You Can Dance this upcoming summer.
8. Moving into a home where we can be the kind of community members we want to be.
9. Becoming proud of the fact that I’m now a tea-guy because my doctor hates me and won’t let me drink coffee.
10. Leaving the country to somewhere besides Canada.

So there it is.
I’ve been wanting to get back into blogging. I’m hopeful that I’ll get the chance to spread some of our “luck” around our community and the world. I’m hopeful to experience joy and pain in healthy ways. I’m hopeful to learn more about myself and those in our lives in deeper ways than ever. I’m hopeful because I have hope and have learned to lean into it even when it’s distant and intangible.

Welcome to 2016, the year of new hope.

love over heroism

The thing about spending your life walking beside people in the midst of their stories is that if you’re doing it to write a good story on a blog, you’re probably doing it for the wrong reason.

To be a little transparent, when I began this Master’s program focusing on global development and justice, part of me [the part that I try to pretend like it doesn’t exist] was thrilled at the idea of saving the world around me. I could be a HERO! Though I didn’t want to say that out loud, especially as the idea of setting up ourselves as heroes goes against everything we have been learning in this program, the temptation to be a savior to people was alive and well in the darker parts of my soul.

One of the things I’m learning this summer is that stories are sacred.
In the midst of sacred stories, in my experience and reflection anyway, there isn’t room for a hero unless that hero is:

  1. Omnipotent and named Jesus
  2. The one living out their own story

For me to try to step into the role of anyone’s hero, takes away from the dignity of the individual I’m walking beside AND takes away glory from the one that actually has the capacity to shape their story into one of the best ones ever lived.

I’m learning a better way to live out this live I’m trying to live.
It’s kind of wild and also I’m not really good at it yet. This new way of living out life is one that I’ve been trying to get good at for a lot of years. It’s not really new. It’s not even unprecedented. It’s just something I’m not that good at yet. I really like getting the credit for things, I really like feeling like a hero. This way of life though, doesn’t have room for that.

I’m trying to just love people. It’s as simple as that. (I would roll my eyes if someone said this to me, because it seems like the really good person kind of thing to say. but i know its not this easy or cut and dry)
And when I say simple I mean really really hard and messy and confusing. It’s beyond a feeling or idea, or even any kind of Christian missions-y definition.
It’s easy to read a book and get inspired to be whimsical and joyful and right in the midst of all of the bad parts of life. But to be honest, it’s not really all that easy, not for me anyway. And please don’t tell me to just be like Jesus in every situation because…that’s not any less confusing. Because loving like Jesus requires hands and feet and Spirit and truth…and so much more than I understand today.

It’s messy because you have all these decisions to make about how love needs to look everyday. Some days love looks like being quiet and listening. Sometimes it looks like being loud and angry for the goodness and justice of someone you’re trying to love. Sometimes love looks like forgetting boundaries and answering the phone at 11PM because someone wants to say hello. Sometimes it looks like telling them they need to buy their own light bulbs when they only have a few hundred dollars to get them through all of life for the next 4 weeks. Maybe I’m just making myself feel better, but I like to think that Jesus wrestled through some of these same decisions while He lived amongst us on earth.

This summer of working in refugee resettlement is tricky for me.
It’s tricky because I’m trying to love each person well. I’m trying to enter into stories that I’m invited in a way that expresses the ultimate love and gives the most dignity to the story I’m entering into. I think it looks different every single day. I think that some days I come close to maybe hitting the mark, while other days I couldn’t be farther from real love if I tried.

Maybe I know what I need to do to get better at this whole thing and I’m just writing out some essays to justify my lack of loving better. Maybe I have no idea what I’m doing. Regardless, this morning, it’s the place I’m in.

What are you doing to love well? What are you doing to love in ways that give dignity? What are you doing to love in ways that actually express a love that gives without expectation?

Summer Thinking Kind of Thoughts

I have attempted to update my blog about 18 times this summer.
I haven’t posted a single thing that I’ve written.
I write them up and then save them to post the next morning after I ponder them over. Then I just keep pondering and never post them.

Sometimes I think I don’t post because I can see too much of myself in them. I read through them again and I think: “that’s too vulnerable.” “ I don’t want to come across like______” “maybe this is too bold or offensive…better to just not post.”

Sometimes I don’t post because I realized that I tried too hard to be vulnerable. Sometimes I write to create a façade that I’m deep, that I have meaningful thoughts, that I really have a grip on this world and on Jesus and I have found this way of putting words into a few paragraphs that capture that really well and somehow I’ve exposed my soul in way no one else has in the process.

It’s strange that I’ve evaded vulnerability and at the same time attempted to use it as a mask.

I am a strange creature.
I am a human, so I guess that really goes without saying.

This summer I’ve been reading through a few good books, slowly but surely.
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
and
Scary Close by Donald Miller.

They’re both exposing me to parts of myself that I have tried to ignore for far too long. I love this and hate it at the same time. It’s really meaningful healing process in so many ways. It’s also incredibly annoying. Who likes to realize they’ve acted like a first class tool for years of their life and then realize their own broken patterns over and over again?

I think that I don’t really know how to process the world these days. I’m sitting here writing and thinking and deleting paragraphs and realizing that life is much more messy than I thought it would turn out to be.

I’m slowly reading through the book of 1st Samuel this summer. I’m seeing the life didn’t really turn out for anyone the way they thought it would go. In fact, life went really terribly for some even when they seemed to be faithful to God. What is someone supposed to make of that?

Since I’m not a full-time pastor anymore, I don’t have to come to a conclusion. (I think I made myself do that, whether or not anyone else forced me to.)

Last night watching the movie Inside Out, a trailer came on for the new documentary coming out on Hillsong. I’m a pretty big fan of figuring out, exploring, and dissecting Christian culture, so I’m stoked about this movie. I was feeling excited and then the last line they shared in the clip hooked me and stuck in my brain beyond just excitement. I think it spoke to the place I find myself in this summer.

The guy being interviewed said:

“Does everything make sense? Absolutely not. But I think more stuff doesn’t make sense without Him.”

Happy Birthday, Lacey.

Today marks 25 years of life that my wife has lived on this earth.
For a quarter of a century, the world has had an opportunity to know the woman I think is the most beautiful and brave. She makes me laugh everyday and at the same time she has a depth that is beyond my understanding.

I’m so grateful that I get to adventure through the brokenness and the joy, the mundane and the spectacular. Her heart is the best companion through it all.

My words are not really enough to express my love for Lacey Jean as I sit at my computer tonight.
I could go on with some poetic metaphors for all the ways I cannot express my love for her. But even Lace would probably just want me to cut to the chase…
So:
Happy Birthday Lacey Jean King!
You’re my very favorite! Let’s eat carbs and ice cream to celebrate!
I love you.

Your 24th was a real riot! Let’s do it again for 25!

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