Today marks the first in what will be a recurring series of interviews with some fabulous people I’ve met. Like I’ve said here before, I firmly believe that most of the good done in this world is done by people quietly going about their business, responding to God’s call when it comes.So today please welcome Trisha Priebe, writer, blogger, wife, mother, domestic goddess extraordinaire. She is husband to Luke and new mother to Andrew who finally, officially, became part of their family after an excruciating 29-month adoption process. In the middle of their wait, God led Luke and Trisha to write a book, Trust, Hope, Pray, to encourage other Christians in the task of waiting. You can read my review of it here. Hello Trisha! Now just to clarify, we first met in college ages ago when we were both member of Chi Sigma Phi society (Go Sailors!). And I have to say, I always thought you and Luke were among the cuter couples on campus – “devoted” is the word that springs to mind. How did you two meet?
I am hopeful that “devoted” is not just your gracious way of saying, “infatuated” or “disgusting.” Ha! Luke and I really tried not to be “one of those couples.” We were introduced by the guy I was dating at the time … and that’s probably all I should say about that. Our first date was to a Chi Sigma Phi, Greek-themed dating outing on Valentine’s weekend. So we did not choose romance. Romance chose us. How could you NOT fall in love discussing Greek mythology by candlelight?! In your book, you mention that you have stories of adoption in your family. Could you share those with us?
There is actually a lot of adoption on my side of the family. My mom lost her biological mother to a brain tumor when my mom was in second grade. My grandpa remarried, and my mom and her siblings were loved and raised by their wonderful new mom—my grandma. Additionally, my brother and I are adopted. Several cousins are adopted. Our family is a sort of patchwork quilt when it comes to genetics. The cool thing is, when we’re all in the same room, the lines of demarcation are completely blurred. Many of us even look alike. Strange. But so wonderful too. I want to talk about the book a bit. I’ve always imagined that writing a book with your husband would be among the most rewarding and infuriating things a couple could ever do together. Can you describe your creative process?
What could you possibly mean by, “infuriating.” :-) We wrote in shifts. First, we discussed the verse that would be the theme for the page. Next, we decided the direction we were going to take. After that, I wrote the rough draft. Finally, Luke came along and tweaked/critiqued/improved what I had written. I am a writer. He is a preacher. It worked out well. Often, we wrote through the night, so it was good to have two people eyeing the work for accuracy. I once referred to “the Son of Christ” and realized—with a snap of clarity—how grateful I am to be married to a seminarian. As ironic as it may be, did you have to go through a waiting process of any sort in developing the book and getting it published?
From start to finish, the book was written in roughly 5 months. So it was a quick process. After we submitted the final draft to the publisher, the wait was agonizing, but in reality, waiting even twenty-four hours at that point would have felt severe. We just wanted to hold the book in our hands! The publisher did a fantastic job from start to finish. We are blessed to have the Sonfire
family in our lives. We hope to work with them again. While we’re waiting on God, it’s easy to lose faith in Him, become disheartened, and rely on our own ability to get things done. What do you see as the greatest spiritual challenges to a Christian when God finally does fulfill our expectation, when the waiting is over?
Excellent question. We are experiencing this “post-wait period” right now. The greatest spiritual challenge, for me, is relying on God now
the same way I relied on God then
. It’s so much easier to pray when prayer is the only option. It’s so much easier to trust when God is the only choice. While the truths during “bad times” are the same as the truths during “good times,” it is somehow harder to obey when all is well. Go figure. How did you feel when you finally received word that you could travel to Thailand to meet your son?
Surreal. I had spent 29 months imagining that moment. I spent the two weeks that passed between phone call and plane ride in a state of euphoria. I was awake, of course, but I’m not sure my feet actually touched the ground. In the book you say that you “are not so naïve to think we won’t be waiting soon enough for something else. All of life is a series of waiting on God.” What, if anything, do you wish you had done differently in this last waiting process? What do you hope to do differently or better in the next?
Again, great question! While so many answers come to mind, I think the primary change I will make next time I experience a wilderness wait is not relying on the support of people. We encountered some incredible kindness. No doubt about it. But there were times I looked to individuals to provide me with what God alone could supply.
One of the things you learn when you wait for something is that life goes on for everyone else. People marry. People have children. People buy houses. People get promotions. And it’s hard to be the person for whom life stands still. And while it’s great when people come alongside and keep you afloat with their encouragement, relying on other human beings for something God provides has all the stability of whitewater rafting. I agree completely--we’ve experienced that ourselves. Just one final question, do you have any other book ideas brewing?
Truthfully, I usually have a half-dozen book ideas brewing. I have been asked by many people—because of Trust, Hope, Pray
—to consider writing a book from the perspective of someone adopted. We’ll see. The outline is cooking. If I write that book, I hope we can discuss it here! Absolutely! Thanks again Trisha, now go enjoy some long-awaited cuddle time with your little guy. (I’m sure your big guy would enjoy some too.:-)
I saw this on a blog this week and it reminded me just how simple it all is really. And yet how so very, very difficult. A friend of mine recently told a silly story about a man standing at the gates of heaven waiting to be admitted. To the man’s utter shock, Peter said, “You have to have earned a thousands points to be admitted to heaven. What have you done to earn your points?” “I’ve never heard that before: but I think I’ll do alright. I was raised in a Christian home and have always been a part of the church. I have Sunday school attendance pins that go down the floor. I went to a Christian college and graduate school and have probably led hundreds of people to Christ. I’m now an elder in my church and am quite supportive of what the people of God do. I have three children, two boys and a girl. My oldest boy is a pastor and the younger is a staff person with a ministry to the poor. My daughter and her husband are missionaries. I have always tithed and am now giving well over 30% of my income to God’s work. I’m a bank executive and work with the poor in our city trying to get low income mortgages.” “How am I doing so far”, he asked Peter. “That’s one point,” Peter said. “What else have you done?” “Good Lord…have mercy!” the man said in frustration. “That’s it!” Peter said. “Welcome home.” My friend who used this silly illustration ended it by saying, “Teach the law. The Psalmist called it perfect. Teach it until people recognize their inability to keep it and cry out for mercy…Mercy always comes running.”
Today’s one of those sleepy Saturdays where despite knowing
that I have been awake since 7:00 this morning, there’s really little to prove
it. I’m still in my sweats, I’ve been nurturing a bottomless cup of tea all morning, and now, with husband and children safely ensconced in the weekly Monopoly game, I’m heading off to nestle up under my favorite green blanket and visit my current favorite author.
A lot of it has to do with the weather. The official forecast is a high of 52 degrees with steady rain showers throughout the day.
And the delicious truth is that I. love. it. I love bad weather—from dreary, damp, bone-chilling days to flash summer thunderstorms to fierce nor’easters that blanket the countryside white---I revel in them all.
I think it’s mostly because bad weather has the remarkable ability to force us slow down, to be still, to rest. And true, not everyone has the luxury of staying in today; my own husband had to head out to work this morning, and as he did called out over his shoulder, “Hey, do we own an umbrella?” (yes, we’re that sort of family). But for the rest of us, bad weather interrupts our plans and forces us to remember Who’s really in charge. Almost as if God Himself were saying, “For heaven’s sake, would you just please slow down? Would you just please be still? Would you just trust ME to take care of things for a bit?”
So in the slug and the slosh of muddy, drizzling days, I’m happy to let Him. And will always consider them one of His finest gifts.
Photo by Stephen Vosloo
Prepare yourself for a first here at SAL: a link to an another article. (Does this make me a real blogger now?)` Actually, when I read this WORLD magazine interview with Phil Vischer (yes, the VeggieTales guy), it reminded me so much of my own process of wrestling with a dream. It also reminded me how easy it is to lose sight of your core values in pursuit of that dream.
In the interview, Vischer relates that as his Big Idea company became successful, it quickly took on a life of its own and he soon found himself ambitious in all the wrong ways. Eventually in 2003, the roller coaster ride ended--in bankruptcy. And Vischer lost the rights to the very characters he had created.But it's just like our God to give second chances, and
so several tumultuous years later, a humbled Vischer is starting over, this time with different governing dynamics and a commitment to let God lead. The lesson for us is this: go ahead, dream big but make sure that you remember who gave you the dream in the first place and trust Him make it a reality
Things have pretty quiet here at SAL lately but that’s precisely because they’ve been pretty noisy at home. The last few weeks have been a jumble of school, work, traveling, seeing friends and visiting with relatives, all complete with a generous dollop of emotions, decisions, and frustrations--in a word, life.
Through these busy times, I’m realizing what wiser people already know: no matter how organized, how diligent, how dedicated you are, you simply can’t do it all.
And you’ll just frustrate yourself trying. Go ahead, get up every morning at 5:30 and fall into bed exhausted at midnight
, you still won’t be able to give your children the attention they need, spend quality moments with your spouse, pursue your own interests, and save the world at the same time.
The truth is that when certain areas of life are active with the noise of living, others will seem deathly quiet. And this ebb and flow, this noise and silence, reminds me of one of life’s unavoidable certainties—we are limited. We are small. We are not as capable as we think we are.
If you’re like me, you probably grew up with the notion that the sky’s the limit; if you can dream it, you can do it. You also learned that if you work hard enough, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. It’s only ever a matter of commitment and discipline. And so in the end, we celebrate those who “achieve” success and judge those who cannot. We pride ourselves in our accomplishments and feel belittled and embarrassed when we fail.
But with each busy week, each passing year, each new frustration and disappointment, I’m learning that there is a lot I can’t control. That success and failure are not always a result of what I did or didn’t do. And that the underlying assumption that we control our destinies is an insidious lie. Because at its root is the belief that we are God.
These last few weeks have reminded me that I am not. And in an odd way, coming face to face with my humanity has been incredibly freeing. Because when I finally accept my limitations, I’m able to embrace His lack
of them. And when I accept that all my work is useless unless He works for me, I can finally rest.
Ultimately it won’t change the fact that I’ll continue to dream and work hard to pursue those dreams. It just means in doing that, I have the hope that making them a reality doesn’t depend on me. That it never did. Instead, pursuing my dreams means throwing myself on the mercy of the One who does
control it all, has already saved the world, and gave me my dreams in the first place.
What do you do when things are so bad that there’s really nothing more to say?
Ridiculously, I keep talking.
It’s tragic really because I always know exactly when I should stop. I sense it—that quiet moment, that break in the conversation, that instant when the Spirit says, “Enough.” But for whatever reason, I find security in words, always believing that just the right combination will unlock the pain and bring sense to your momentarily senseless world. Like a magic spell or Open, Sesame. Give me enough time and enough letters and I can fix it. I can fix you.
And so I talk. And talk. And talk.
I talk when all I really should be is quiet, when all I really should do is listen. Listen to the pain, listen to the heartbreak, listen to the grief. Listen for the One who can heal it all.
Today, my memories are fragmented, bits of broken emotions, twirling and falling in kaleidoscope order. They are memories of
Confusion, hearing about what could only have been a horrific mistake
Shock, learning that New York was being repeated in D.C. and in quiet green pastures of Pennsylvania
Fear, scanning the sky believing that no place was safe
Disbelief, watching two stately buildings crumble into massive heaps of twisted metal and concrete
Anger, realizing that it all had been intricately planned
Strength, discovering how men and women had sacrificed themselves to save perfect strangers
Courage, recognizing that their sacrifice emboldened us to fight evil too
Hope, knowing that even in the moments that reveal all that is wrong in this world, our greatest Good is still stronger and one day in His time, will overcome it all.
My father is not a violent or angry man; he is excruciatingly patient and self-possessed. Unlike many fathers, he never roared, strutted, or flaunted his authority. He didn’t yell or belittle me. When I failed, he didn’t condemn.
It was terrifying.
In fact, my most uncomfortable childhood memories are of sitting across from him after he had caught me doing something I shouldn’t have. Silent, he would simply look at me. My conscience, on the other hand, would be screaming, Just punish me – get it over with! But I dare not say anything either. One thing I had learned through these encounters was to keep my mouth shut. Talking only got me into trouble.
He would break the silence after several minutes by simply saying “Tell me what you did.”
This was my cue. Predictably I began with “I didn’t do anything.” Then I’d confidently rehearse my version of events and, more often than not, conclude with an out-right lie. He’d listen, sit silently for another few minutes, and then simply repeat “Tell me what you did.”
So for a second time, I’d tell my story, perhaps revise a few facts, and add a detail of truth, hoping to convince him. But he was too smart for that. He’d listen and again merely say, “Tell me what you did.” Usually, by this point I’d begin to get frustrated. Was he deaf? I’d just told him twice what had happened. What more could I say? This was getting us nowhere. But I had no choice, so I’d repeat my hopeless excuse for a third time.
And still all he would say was “Tell me what you did.”
Quickly frustration would turn to anger. How dare he sit there so passively, so silently! If he doesn’t believe me, he should at least say so, get angry, and threaten me. We both know I’m guilty; we both know I deserve to be punished -- why doesn’t he just do something! I don’t remember how long we would sit there, him listening patiently while I talked myself in circles, but I do remember that the truth always cycled its way out of the lie--sometimes purposefully, often not--and eventually my own lips would condemn me.
Then--and only then--would my father speak.
And while he would speak words of correction and discipline, my quiet father mostly spoke of his own past failures and of forgiveness. Of forgiveness that until then I hadn’t even realized I needed. This was the power of my father’s gentle self-possession--his patience forced me to wrestle with my own guilt, and in doing so, prepared me to receive mercy that I couldn't have only moments before.
I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t the same with our heavenly Father.
We often expect Him to deal with our sin immediately—to rant and rave and hurl down condemnation—only to find that He is longsuffering and patient. He calmly waits and uses many different means to allow us to come face to face with our guilt. And once we’ve worked through our reserve of excuses, when they are finally depleted and we finally realize that we need Him, He stands ready to overwhelm us with grace and forgiveness.
Today with my own children, I usually fail to mirror my father’s composure. More often, I become angry and accusing. But even in those times, when I need it most, I remember how both my fathers have treated me, and I simply hear a voice saying “Tell me what you did.”
If you're interested in good book that handles a controversial subject with grace and balance, hop on over to The Gospel Coalition and read the review
I did recently of Dealing with Depression: Trusting God through the Dark Times
. It was written by Sarah Collins, a former teacher and Jayne Haynes, a family doctor who recognized that many of their Christian friends and family were ill-equipped to respond to depression in the church. Here's an excerpt of the review:
As we support those suffering from depression, we must gently assure them that there is hope and purpose even in the midst of their pain. God has not abandoned them; Christ himself is a Great High Priest who intercedes for them, and ultimately he is drawing them closer to Himself. That’s good news for anyone lost in depression’s maze of doubt, pain, grief, and uncertainty.