Category Archives: Friends

What a box of Quaker Oat Squares can teach you…

I came to a frightening realization recently. I have always thought of myself as a generous person. I have been known for freely giving of what I have. There was a brief time in my life when I made more than enough money to live on and it was with great ease that I gave what I had to those in need around me.

Something has changed.

Perhaps it is simply this: living with need. Just plain not having enough to buy and pay for basic provisions.

We recently had the blessing of dear friends and family sharing our home with us for the weekend of Aaron’s baptism. I went to the grocery store in preparation, WIC checks in hand, and loaded up on food to have around. There are a few key grocery items that WIC covers for us, like cereal (for Doug, Mercy and me) and peanut butter. There are specific cereal brands we can buy, and one of them in particular serves as both a breakfast food as well as a snack on the run for our little girl. The monthly allocation is just enough to usually get us through each month.

The first night that our loved ones were here, Doug’s mom asked me if she could take some of the cereal I had over to my sister’s house where they were staying so she could have it to snack on in the evening. Of course I said yes and I encouraged her to take the whole box. As she left that evening, cereal box in hand, I realized that I was filled with anxiety over giving up that cereal. How ridiculous, I told myself! Yet I could not shake this deep desire I had NOT to share what we had, as I was haunted by the awareness that I had blown all my WIC checks for their visit and the month ahead stretched out before us yet.

Two of our big grocery expenses NOT covered by WIC are water (the non-rocket fuel laced variety) and soy milk (due to Mercy’s milk allergy). We go through a LOT of both of these items, due to Mercy’s love for her milk and my neverending need for hydration, which any nursing mom can identify with! The entire weekend, my heart would sink as I would watch our guests go through glass after glass of water, or opt for the soy milk instead of the regular (which CAN be purchased with WIC).

Needless to say, by the end of the weekend I was exhausted by this new and very ugly miserly side of myself I had not before encountered. I don’t want to be this way. I don’t think I realized before how hard it is for those accustomed to comfort to be generous when they find themselves suddenly without. I do not seem to encounter this behavior among those used to having little–they are usually the MOST generous, the most free to give of what they do have. My neighbors next door who continue to amaze me with their thoughtful gifts are an excellent example of this.

I have so much to learn, so much to die to, when it comes to trusting God and truly placing the needs of others above my own. Will I ever know Christ in me to the point of freely loving my neighbor as myself, in times of want as well as times of plenty?

thank you God

This has been a week of blessings for the Haub household.

Doug and I were given two really great tickets for the L.A. Philharmonic–I have been dying to get inside the Walt Disney concert hall since moving here! We actually ended up not being able to go but the gift meant the world to us.

A friend dropped by last night unannounced to drop off dinner for us–the food was enough to take care of us for two days!

Last night I called our dear friend who baby-sits Mercy for us to ask her if she could come over for a couple of hours this morning so that I could clean my house for my company that arrives tonight. After giving Mercy two wonderful hours at the park, she refused to let me pay her for her time and told me she was “helping out.”

This week I have had three good friends come over to the house to spend time with me. With each of these women I have shared honestly about my struggles and questions around being here.

Today Doug finally placed the order for his new guitar, something made possible by financial gifts from three unrelated sources. Only ninety days before our third “baby” arrives!
Our good friends brought their first child, a beautiful baby boy, home last night after a few days in the NICU.

And tonight we welcome dear family and friends who are here from Oregon for the weekend to help us celebrate Aaron’s baptism.

At night Mercy and I have a ritual where we “thank God”. I go through the day and we thank God for all the different things we did that day, the people we encountered, food we ate, toys we enjoyed, places we went, etc. We also thank God for the special people in our lives. It’s funny but I don’t think of it as praying, though as I write this I realize that it is pretty obvious that that’s what it is. It has always felt more like this fun recap of our day’s adventures. I hope that it teaches her to live with gratitude. I think it is teaching me to stop more often and examine my days and weeks like I have done here tonight.

Thank you God.

Yoda and the Passover

Dick Staub has written a new book, Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters, that explores the question of how my generation has (or in most cases, has not) been mentored by those who have gone before us. He uses the clever comparison of Jedi in desperate need of Yodas who will instruct and guide and enflesh what it is we hope for in our Christian lives.

Sunday night I attended a Seder dinner with my husband and the messianic Jewish congregation he helps lead music for at a synagogue in Beverly Hills. The irony of the evening was that I should have been home studying for my Hebrew exam on Monday morning, but instead I spent the night participating in something very beautiful and strange.

The Seder dinner celebrates Passover: the occasion in the history of the Jewish people where God brought judgment upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians for enslaving the Hebrews, and “passed over” the homes of the Jews in his slaughter of the firstborns, both children and animals, throughout all the land. It is this gruesome event that causes Pharaoh to finally release the Jews and “let them go”: following the Passover, the people of Israel are slaves in Egypt no more.

As I was reminded frequently throughout the Seder meal, celebrating Passover is about celebrating redemption: redemption from bondage and slavery, and extinction. For Messianic Jews, this dinner also celebrates the life and death of Yeshua, the messiah, who shared this very same meal with his disciples hours before his passion began.

So what does this have to do with Staub’s book?

It is said that the Passover is celebrated for the sake of the children, that they would hear the stories of their people. At the beginning of the Seder, there is a ritual where the youngest child asks four questions:

“On all other nights we eat either leavened or unleavened bread. Why on this night do we eat only unleavened bread?

On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables. Why on this night do we eat only bitter herbs?

On all other nights we don’t dip even once. Why on this night do we dip twice?

On all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining. Why on this night do we recline?”

As a gathered people on Sunday evening we read, together, the answers to these four questions. And over the course of the evening we read, sang, and listened to the stories of a people who were once enslaved and who are now redeemed. And through eating and dipping and washing and hiding, we answered, as a body: “why is this night different from all other nights?”

Sunday night, I sat in a room filled with Yodas. Sunday night I ate and drank with young and old who gather on this night with the express purpose of shaping the next generation. Sunday night I shared a meal with a people who would probably not understand the need for Dick Staub’s book. Sunday night I shared life with a community that regularly speaks to what Staub describes as the hunger “to discover your true destiny and your place in the cosmic story.” For my Jewish sisters and brothers, faith has never been something that one has to go out and get a hold of by oneself. Faith does not exist apart from ones family; one’s people. Faith is always something corporate: or as my husband likes to say, for our Jewish friends, “belonging” comes before “believing.”

I don’t know about anyone else, but in my church people get annoyed if they are not spoon-fed their worship experience by people up front. I don’t mean to be critical, but in the name of being “welcoming” and “sensitive” to visitors, there is a dangerous trend toward making the Sunday morning service a fun “experience”; something that can be “enjoyed” as a spectator, with actual participation and responsibility left at a minimum. The long hours and high level of participation that the Seder supper demanded would, in the language of my church, be “inaccessible”, “uncomfortable”, and a “turn-off.”

I wonder what it must be like for the children on the night of the Seder. As they look around they see their parents, elders and friends practicing a strange, inaccessible ritual with flat bread, parsley dipped in salt water, and hard boiled eggs:inaccessible, that is, unless one knows the story. As I sat there and shared in these rituals I thought of my own little girl. What in her life and experience in our home and in our church will teach her about who she is and who her people are? How will she learn the story of salvation as something bigger than a private romance between her and Jesus?

Maybe what Staub’s “Jedi Christians” need are not more conferences, seminaries, books and workshops. Maybe what we need is not another new, more “fashionable” way of doing church. Maybe what we need are not more opportunities to be “performed” to. Maybe what we need are simply more places where we gather to encourage our children to ask questions; where we eat and dip and wash and hide; where we, together, retell and reenact our story.

I do

I remember being single and really struggling with the idea of marrying someone and giving up my freedom to follow God wherever and however God would call me. I didn’t like the idea of giving up the “I” for the “We” because I felt like I would be held back somehow—no longer able to pack my bags and head for Africa or Chicago or anywhere else God might call me at any notice.

A wise friend told me to wait: to not marry until there was someone with whom I experienced MORE of life; MORE of God’s initiative and calling and direction than I had on my own.

So I waited. And waited some more. And then there he was. The one I tried to not want. The one I tried to tell myself I could live without.

My wise friend got it exactly right. Life with Doug is richer and more full than anything I ever could have imagined. There is more of God, not less.

Last week we had the pleasure of four friends from Seattle invading out little apartment and making their home with us. On Saturday they left to return to their own lives and callings back home, and while our apartment once again feels roomy and quiet, I miss them terribly. And it is not the morning Starbucks runs that Dick would make or the groceries that would just appear in the refrigerator or the extra hands that were quick to hold the baby that I miss. It is that being with them made life richer and more filled with God’s presence and grace.

I think this is what being the family of God is exactly about. It is that move away from singleness; from independence, self-reliance and “freedom” to a place where life is better together than it ever could be alone. It’s a lot like marriage and I understand why many are skeptical or afraid. Being yoked to one another is a lot of work. It can hurt. It is sacrificial. But just like life in our apartment last week, in all of the chaos and compromise, it is a treasure I don’t want to live without.

Sisters

Last night I drove to LAX to pick up an old friend, AB. She is here in L.A. for her spring break of her final year in college in the Midwest.

AB and I have a pretty special history together. In college, I was the coordinator for a big sister/big brother program in the inner city of Chicago. My job was to match college students up with kids in the neighborhood for mentoring relationships. Once a month, I would plan some fun activity for everyone to participate in together.

My “little sister” worked every Saturday at the swap meet, so she almost never made it to the planned events–she and I would get together on weekdays instead. AB was involved with the program and she was matched up with a college student, only her student was kind of lame and would often miss the events. Because I was usually “unattached” at our parties, and because AB was “big sister-less” as well, we kind of adopted each other, and became each other’s honorary big and little sister.

As AB got older, our friendship grew in depth and substance. In my years in Chicago, she became one of the dearest people in my life. I will never forget in those early years receiving my first ever mother’s day card from AB. I will never forget being the ”adult” for her birthday slumber party at her house. I will never forget her screening the boys I would date. I will never forget the hours of conversations we shared about boys, the hood, God, and family. I will never forget being there for each other when J was killed.

It’s amazing to me where friendship comes from sometimes. I’m glad that it’s like that—that you never know who will enter your life and change it forever.

mailbox manna

Dear Anonymous,

My guess is that you won’t ever read this, but maybe writing this has more to do with me than you anyway.

When I walked down the stairs to my front door last week to check my mail, the highest hopes I entertained were that perhaps the Newsweek had arrived a day early, or maybe a complimentary shipment of Storyhouse coffee would be balancing on the rack beneath our mailbox. As I reached inside our box, I was disappointed to find it empty. Surprised that there would be NOTHING in the mail, I put my hand back in for one more swish (something I am usually hesitant to do because of the little family of spiders who live in the beautiful palms above the box) and my fingers brushed the edge of a sturdy envelope. As I pulled it out I realized that, strangely, it was not sealed. It was addressed to us with our address written plainly, however it had not been mailed. No return name or address was written, and the envelope was not even sealed. A bit surprised I reached inside (again, thinking briefly about the spiders) and I pulled out three folded, colorful gift card holders.

As I unfolded the first, I was surprised to see Trader Joes printed on the card. I didn’t even know they DID gift cards. The next one, with its bold bull’s-eye, was a bit more familiar. The final card came from our good friend down the street, Ralph’s. The amounts written above the cards were generous.

Baby formula, diapers, wipes, and rice cereal would now be purchased with ease. I could look forward soon to Trader Joe’s peanut butter, frozen vegetables and brown rice. And we could once again load up on rocket fuel-less water to keep a baby fed and a breastfeeding mom hydrated.

As I walked slowly back into my house, I encountered my mom (who was visiting from Seattle) at the top of my stairs. By then the tears had already started flowing and my mom, obviously caught off guard and concerned, asked me what was wrong. “Someone gave us money for groceries…” was all I could get out before I began to sob. I went and stood in my room for a few minutes, leaving my mom and baby in the other room.

I don’t always know what the tears are for when they come. Are they tears of gratitude for the anonymous generosity of a friend? Are they tears of anger that we still, with my husband working full time at Fuller Seminary, and part time for a Jewish synagogue, can’t pay our rent and bills and put food on the table? Are they tears of shame that my mom would see how her thirty-one year old daughter is relying on help from others to have her grandbaby’s basic needs met? Or are they tears of communion with a God who has heard my cries and has sent me manna for one more day?

Though you remain anonymous, I am trying to see you in everyone who surrounds us here. In my pastor who would give us the shirt off his back if we asked for it. In my sister who has never said no to watching my baby for a few hours so I can go to class or write a paper. In our Kenwood neighbors who have done more to care for us this past year than I would have thought possible on this side of heaven. I am also trying to see you in myself. What are the things that I have that can be quietly and generously given to another who feels discouraged, isolated, or afraid.

Thank you, Anonymous.