I’m not a big fan of process. I like efficiency and productivity. Process seemed like a barrier to all that.

But as I’ve gotten older, I am realizing the importance of process more and more.

I was listening to the book of Job a couple of days few weeks ago. I wondered, why is this book so long? Why does Job go on and on about his trials with his friends. Why do his friends go on and on. And why does God go on and on and ask Job tons of questions at the end? Why not a short and sweet story like in the gospels.

Then I realized. It’s about the process.

The book of Job is about process.

And the importance of process.

The trinity that I consist of (mind, body, heart) has a hard time being a unified trinity. What my heart wants, my head says no. My body reacts and has demands (sleep, food). My head says do this or do that or what about this, and my heart doesn’t want to budge. It feels unsettled.

So how does one go about integrating the trinity of the self? Process.

What is process anyway? I’m not sure exactly what it is but I think it has something to do with time, reflection, and, of course, change.

For me, process involves finding and deciding on the right words. Creating the story to explain the facts. Brene Brown taught me that my brain is wired for story. We get an endorphin rush when we create a story to explain our experience. And our brains do not require a statistically significant quantity of data to create the story. Unfinished stories feel, unsettling. So I make up a story that seems to fit at that moment.

Inevitably, I rush the process. I don’t wait for all the information. I don’t make an effort even, to gather all the information. I am not content with the not knowing. The uncertainty. The unsettled feeling. So I fabricate. (Brene calls this a conspiracy.) Endorphin rush of a finished story. THE END.

*quick side story: The other day, I saw a zip lock bag full of toiletries on my side of the bathroom counter. I was angry at my spouse and thought, “Why can’t he put them away himself.” But then I remembered that he knows I like to take the unused toiletries from hotels. And then I thought, “How sweet of him to remember to bring them for me.” See how quickly I tell stories to myself? This all happened in a few seconds or less.

But the book of Job is so painfully long. Job asks “Why?” nineteen times. He doesn’t understand why all these terrible things are happening to him. He demands an answer, an explanation from his friends, and from God. He considers the options and keeps asking why. He doesn’t quit. He keeps at the process. For a long time.

And then something happens. He gets a reply from God. In the form of 55 questions directed back at him. I don’t really know what that means, but I believe that God honored the process that Job endured. God didn’t give a short and cute answer. God was patient to let Job get it all out and hash through it all with his friends. Even when they gave him bad advice.

Process is messy. And when you’re in it, you don’t know quite when it will end. You just have to trust the process.



Learned recently that someone I know passed away.

This person… I was full of judgement towards this person. I barely had one short conversation with this person but I judged them based on their looks and the behavior that I saw. What I didn’t know was this person’s story. This person had had more than their fair share of life’s troubles and tribulations. This person had major health issues, that I couldn’t tell by looking. Full of judgement, was I. Towards this person that I was called to love.

Maybe I am being too harsh on myself? But one of my words for the year was “not judging.” That year, I started to become aware of how much I judge people. Before that year, I really thought I wasn’t all that judgmental. I’m thankful that God only reveals my sinfulness in little bits… so that it’s not too overwhelming.

I have told myself that if my father or mother died, that I would not be too affected. This death has made me reconsider. We don’t have a great relationship, my father and mother and I. I am OK with it. I have learned not to go to the hardware store, expecting candy. But maybe I’ve gone too far in the other direction. Maybe I’ve put up walls instead of boundaries. Maybe I’ve hardened my heart towards them just a tad bit too much. Maybe I can start by being open… and letting my heart grow soft again.

This praise song has been on my mind. I can’t seem to get it out. Have you ever heard it? It’s old school I can’t seem to find a good version on YouTube but here are the lyrics.


Face to Face by Mark Altrogge

Jesus, I love you. For when I was blind and lost.

You shed for all your enemies, your blood upon the cross.

Because you have loved me, now I can love you to.

Your love flows deep into my heart and I send it back to you.

And Jesus, our love will only grow much deeper.

Sustained from above by your overflowing grace.

And Jesus, our love will only grow much sweeter.

And someday we shall be together, face to face.


Truly, because God has loved me, now I can love him too…

You’re Not Mad?

Today my son AJ (3 years old) did something that he does every once in a while. He spilled milk. All over his table. It was his high chair table, and there is a ridge, so none of it spilled out on to the floor or onto him. It was quite a bit though, about 1/3 of a cup?

Normally when the kids have a big spill, I get mad. I yell. I say “WHY DON’T YOU BE MORE CAREFUL?” Of course, it’s not really a question. I know it’s not their fault that they spill (ok, maybe a tiny bit?). That they are just young children and that their motor skills aren’t finely tuned yet. And that even adults spill. But it’s my default reaction… to get angry.

However, today, I did something different. I did not get mad. I just said something like, “Oh no, you spilled the milk. That’s ok. Accidents happen.” I don’t even know why I didn’t get angry. I just didn’t.

And then Christian (5) said, “You’re not going to get mad?”

As in, “I was expecting you to get mad.”

I felt sad to hear him say this. Sad that my son was expecting me to get angry. Expecting anger instead of grace from his mommy.

And I felt good at the same time. That I hadn’t gotten mad.

I was surprised that I felt so good. Instead of angry, I felt full of grace. I felt like a good mother.

I made a note to myself to react more like this in the future.

And I hope that my kids aren’t so surprised when I react with grace in the future.

– Mary



Total side note: During this small “ah-ha moment” I was reminded about that scene in Mad Men when Don’s wife #2-to-be (you know, the pretty Canadian secretary) casually cleans up when Don’s son spills milk at the restaurant. And Don is so impressed by her. And the kids are impressed by her. And all is well and the world doesn’t come to an end just because there is milk all over the table.


I’ve been obsessively reading all posts over on Momastery. Recently, she had a love flash mob and raised over $80,000 to buy two vans for two families in need.

I’m proud to say that I participated. =) It wasn’t much but I and glad that I was a part of it.

I have these grandiose ideas about how I’m going to grow up to do great things. And then I see how sinful I can be… how petty and little. And the voice inside my head tells me that I’m not going to amount to much so why bother trying? All I’ll ever be is mediocre. Just try to be decent, don’t go for the grand.

And then those ideas seem so far fetched and removed and impossible. And then I get all deflated and down on myself.

I’ve been trying to have some self-compassion. It’s been really hard. I go from pride to self-condemnation and am rarely in between. I don’t like what my negative thought patterns are doing to myself. So I’ve been trying to be a little more gentle with myself. To accept that I make mistakes. To accept that I cannot be perfect. To accept that I am a sinner.

And that it’s OK. Because by God’s grace, my sins are not counted against me. That by God’s grace, I am see as perfect in His eyes.

One Word Theme for the Year

Last year, my word for the year was “not-judging.” That was the year I found Al-anon and I learned a whole lot about not judging in al-anon meetings. I learned that I have a whole lot of judgement towards others. A WHOLE lot. Every time I criticize someone, I am judging them and thinking that I am better than them. I try to remind myself that everyone is trying to do the best they can and that no one needs to be reminded how screwed up they are. We all are. Screwed up that is. I have especially a hard time not judging my husband. I think I know him so well… but the truth is that I don’t know what he is thinking all the time. I don’t know all of the experiences he’s had… and on top of that, he is a different person. So yeah, no judging husband either.

This year, my word for the year was love. I have to be honest, even after a year of thinking about this word, I don’t know much about love. Most of the time, I don’t know what it means to be loved, or to love someone else. I know that I am loved. And I know that I love others… but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I told my kids that love is hugs and kisses… and I think that captures the gist of it.

I am wondering what I should choose for as my theme word for 2012. I’ve been thinking about humility. That would be a good one. Goes well with not-judging, does it? And with LOVE! Maybe I will get some more insights into what my word should be in the next couple of weeks.




Yesterday, I had an amazing opportunity. Let me go back to last week to tell the story.

Last week, I had a horrible experience at work. An important person put me on the spot at a big-wig meeting. I felt humiliated, angry, scared, and useless. Bad things to be feeling at work. I got home and sobbed. In front of my children and husband. It didn’t help that the baby was projectile vomiting and that I am facing some hard challenges in my marriage. I hadn’t slept well for a week. I almost always sleep well and have never had insomnia. So, that was very unusual for me.

Anyway, I was very disturbed by the experience and was viscerally afraid of this important person. I tried to put it behind me and wrote the person an email. I said that I regretted our interaction. I admitted I was not my best self. I also expressed my hope for a better working relationship. The person emailed back and said to not worry about it, that we’ll get the project done perfectly and that we will do it very quickly. Interesting, huh?

So, how does this relate to the amazing opportunity? Well, yesterday, I had a meeting with another important person. She is not the same person, but just as important. We were making small talk and she started telling me about her weekend and how she was trying to help her friend. As we talked, she asked me if I had any experience with similar problems. I was able to share my experience, strength, and hope with her. She was SO grateful. She said that the meeting was like orchestrated by God. I completely agreed. The work-related conversations also went very smoothly. I felt validated, valued, and appreciated. I felt useful.

Both experiences just came my way. I don’t think I could have prevented or predicted either. But I am glad that I was not so embittered by the first experience, that I kept my heart open and could be of service to this other important person. I thank God for the opportunity. =)