New Blog

Its been a good run but I've decided to start a new blog.


I switched to a simpler purpose and format in order to share pictures of baby Selah with family members who are far away.



Seven Winters New

Cruel your hands broke
The glass in my chest,
Glass to sand
   to dust
   to flesh.
I can feel my blood moving again,
Steadier than when I was fifteen.


An Unexpected Birthday Party

This is going to sound like one of those crazy TLC shows.  Get ready:

At 4:30pm on Thursday, October 11th, Justin and I zipped over to our midwife's house for a quick checkup.
At 7:37pm we met our daughter, Selah Rae Hymas.

15 minutes old

  I promised to write a little bit about why we decided to have a different sort of birthday for our baby than we were initially planning, but we had no idea how different Selah's birthday would actually be!

  Back in March, when Justin and I discovered that we were parents, we were extremely intimidated by the huge melange of decisions before us. We knew we wanted as natural and intervention-free of a birth as our situation would allow, but I held this idea with a measure of hesitation--would I be able to handle the mental and physical demands of childbirth?  What if it was too much for me? These decisions brought me eye-to-eye with my lack of confidence and impulse to dump the sense of responsibility onto somebody else.  

 The first time I actually considered a home birth was at a birth options class offered by Bloom Spokane, (a local network of naturally-geared mothers and care providers.)  I loved the idea of welcoming baby in an environment where gentle, natural birth choices would be the order of the day, but I was still too insecure to imagine having a baby without people in white coats telling me what to do. We started seeing an OB: a well respected, very personable doctor who sees lots of our friends.  In the meantime I started researching more and talking to women with alternative birth experiences.  The way these resources described birth totally changed my perspective.  The focus wasn't on trying to manage a horribly painful and dangerous condition, but rather on working with your body's natural, finely-tuned rhythm.  "Birth isn't pathological." a friend told me, "Its a natural event your body was designed to perform safely."  The more I learned, the more I saw that I could trust God's perfect design and overcome the physical challenges with a sense of purpose.  Because we continued to receive confirmation that my pregnancy was healthy and low-risk, I was an ideal candidate for a home birth.  For me, choosing a home birth was about putting aside my fear of the pain and taking responsibility for my baby. Justin and I interviewed several local midwives and chose a certified nurse midwife, Margaret Lipton.

  We were still two and a half weeks out from Selah's due date when I started feeling... funny, I guess.  Well, ok, this is really embarrassing, but I thought I had a UTI.  I had read so much about women getting faked out by false labor, and it just wasn't very painful so I figured it couldn't have been the real thing. I woke up twice on Wednesday night, but went right back to sleep, mildly annoyed with those stupid 'fake' contractions!  On the morning of Selah's birthday I got up early and met Justin at the YMCA for a swim.  Then we came home and cleaned the whole house for people coming over that evening.  That's when the contractions were getting noticeable, and I called Margaret to see what she thought about treating a UTI.  We set up an appointment for that afternoon and I continued bustling happily around the house, making bread and stopping every few minutes to deal with those dumb old braxton hicks.  I should have realized that this was different, but there was still something in my head telling me that real labor was supposed to be white-hot rockets of blistering pain that would send me howling in misery.  

  At 4:30 Justin drove me to Margaret's for a quick, in-and-out checkup.  But the test showed no infection.  Margaret eyed me suspiciously, "What makes you think this isn't labor?" She asked.  
  "Psssh," I replied, "It's still so early and I haven't had any of the other signs!"
  Margaret got out the Doppler device to listen to Selah's heartbeat, "These are real labor contractions you're having," she said, "You don't have a UTI, you're having a baby!"  
  She was about to send us home, when all of a sudden my water broke.  Right there.  In her office.  Justin almost flipped out.  Margaret checked my progress, and here's the big shocker: 
without much discomfort at all, without even knowing I was in labor, I had reached nine and a half centimeters.  
   "Uhhh, honey?" Margaret laughed, "You're not going to make it home!" 

Leaving Margaret's house
  From there it was pretty intense.  Not painful like somebody slamming your fingers in a door, but more like power lifting a barbell or sprinting up a hill.  At times I made it more difficult by straining other parts of my body (mostly my voice) but I was amazed by how doable it was, and throughout it all, I felt powerful.  Within three hours Selah was born, and the feelings of love and elation as she was placed on my chest were so unreal. This breathtakingly beautiful little girl looked up at us with eyes hopeful and courageous: we had been through a baptism of fire together and we were now a family.  I couldn't stop telling Selah what a strong, brave girl she was.

 Its funny, looking back, how worried I was at the beginning about everything going smoothly.  I ended up ignoring the pain I was so concerned about, and the intensity of the last part was like a rite of passage.  I wouldn't trade it for anything (and that's coming from the girl who pops four advil for a headache.)  I gained a lot of personal confidence through this experience and that's exactly what my daughter needs to see modeled in a woman.  I pray that God would give me the courage to always give my best to Selah, not fearing the cost.  Looking at this little face, I already know that its worth it!


Receiving: The Whole Point of Being Alive

Saturday night we went to a dinner/concert/auction for our friend Tabi, who had cancer removed from her thyroid a few weeks ago.  The place was packed with lovely, friendly people, all of whom care for Tabi and together are taking collective ownership of her hospital bills.  As Justin and I sat scarfing delicious pasta, a sea of talking, laughing people swirled all around us.  I didn't even have to be in a conversation with someone to feel at home.

Before the auction was over we caught Tabi's husband, Brent, on the fringe of the crowd.  He was all smiles, but admitted that it is hard to be on the receiving end of such a big event.  I don't blame him; its often hard to imagine deserving the kind of abundant love that God wants to show us, because frankly, we don't deserve it. His love is lavishly given without us ever earning it.

It was Tabi's joyful tears that spoke to me the most that evening.  She told her story: the cancer, the looming cost of surgery, and she confessed that for a while she didn't feel like her troubles were worth anyone's time. She had asked herself, "How could my situation be important to God when there are much greater needs in the world?"  But through no initiation or pursuit of her own, God showed Tabi that she is worth it to him.  "Through this process," She tearfully declared, "I have seen that God cares deeply for my needs and I matter to him in a way that I don't even begin to deserve."  Tabi's honest, raw emotion depicted the simple joy she had found in grace.  It was piercingly beautiful.

This is why we exist: to simply receive the gracious, overwhelming love of a God who cares deeply for us and to give that love to others, generously and undeservedly.  And it works.  It actually, really works, and on Saturday I got to see people give and receive this love in ridiculous amounts.  Truly awesome.


Three Homes, Two Birth Plans, One Summer

This summer we lived in three places, switched our whole plan for bringing Baby Hymas into the world, and learned that our plans often have to grow with us.

In June we moved from here:
to here:
and then in August we moved here:

It kind of went like this:

Scene: Justin and Allie's first apartment
Justin: Oh hey, our lease is up in June.  We should move.
Allie:  Cool.  I'll look on Craigslist and Padmapper until we find something awesome.
...two months later...
Justin: Oh crap, its almost June. 
Allie: We've already visited five apartments that we liked, how are we going to choose?
Justin: Lets just pick one and call it good.
Allie: Righto.

So we moved into an adorable South Hill apartment an awesome landlady and a backyard for Justin to start gardening in.  It was a blissful June.  We were two blocks from Manito park, five minutes from Trader Joe's, two minutes from the South Perry District, tucked in a quiet neighborhood of turn of the century mansions perched on the hill overlooking downtown.  In all the ways that seem to make sense, everything was perfect--except for this nagging feeling.

One concept that has really impacted Justin and me in our experience at Whitworth and at Vintage Faith is the idea that community should be a central part of our lives.  In Western culture, life is fragmented by our busy schedules and individualistic impulses; we typically don't depend on others, drop in on our neighbors, or consistently share life with others in the way that other cultures so naturally do.  I believe that when we relate with other people on a deeper level, a family level, that we will help each other grow into the kind of people we were meant to be.  This doesn't happen overnight.  I think that it requires a level of overlapping life that most Americans would find awkward.

In our lovely, perfect South Hill home, Justin and I discovered that we were far away from the people with whom we were sharing life and developing more authentic, soul-sharpening relationships.  Our setting was perfect for us to enjoy as a couple, but we had stopped sharing meals with our friends and stopping by their houses.  We kind of just disappeared across town and set up our own little recluse bubble.  When we recognized this, we shared it with our missional community and together we came up with a plan.  Our friends needed renters in the house they're not living in right now, and we needed to live somewhere that would help us prioritize community.  After giving it a lot of thought and prayer, Justin and I felt like renting our friends' house would allow us to better pursue the relationships in our lives, and participate with our friends' goal to steward their home for missional purposes.

Its been a little over a month in the new house, and Justin and I have been super blessed by all kinds of new friendships and opportunities in our neighborhood.  We now live in West Central, and almost as soon as we moved in we were greeted by an onslaught of lovely, inspiring people who are using their unique talents to serve this neighborhood.  From Pat and Connie who started Riverfront Farms, to JJ and the Youth For Christ crew, to Bobby the owner of Indaba Coffee, and the Caraways who have their serving hands in everything, there are so many role models here in West Central who Justin and I aspire to be like, and most of them are our neighbors!  And while I've loved apartment life, nothing beats living in a house--especially when it comes to having our missional community and neighbors over!

This location lends itself to serving others and engaging with our friends and neighbors; now we just need the courage and accountability to actually do these things!  So far, Justin is getting plugged into the community gardening scene, and I have done a little music at the West Central farmer's market, but we are still confronting those old selfish, individualistic tendencies.  Please pray for us and offer any encouragement or advice! 

To be continued:  Part II: Why We Completely Switched our Birth Plan...


When do you bail?

    This afternoon Justin and I had lunch with our friends Nick and Drew.  Without being specific, we were talking about how difficult it is to stick with a commitment that doesn't seem to be generating any fruitfulness in our lives.

    I'm not saying that we ought to depend on the things we do to give us soul level satisfaction, because then we'd just be flakey, fair weather friends with no real sense of commitment to anything.  Throwing in the towel when things are hard is like saying, "Actually, I was just in it for me, and now it's not working out for me, so see ya!"  I don't want to be a consumer.

    But on the other hand, how do you know when to quit something that's harmful?  How do you distinguish between the pain that means you're building muscle and the pain that means you're straining muscles?  I am always suspicious of my motives when I want to quit something that is hard, but I'm beginning to wonder if that suspicion might just be a hindrance to moving on to something healthier.

   So how does this work?  How do you tell if you should hang on or let go, especially when you don't want to be guided by your feelings?


Blueberries vs. Burgers

   Justin and I decided to cut our internet back in March because we felt like Netflix, Facebook, and the habit of mindless surfing (mostly mine) were stealing our marriage-building hours. Then my computer died for about three months, so that's why I haven't blogged in a long time.

   Anyway.  We decided to let the world wide web back into our home with the condition that we would help each other avoid re-acquiring the taste for wasting time on it.  As I've been confronting the temptation to blow hours and hours on the web, I've been thinking about how its kind of like the struggle between eating organic vs. processed food.  The internet is an imitation, it can convey all the conceptual realities of the world but only with artificial flavors and textures.  Pinning a cool craft project or a recipe on Pinterest can almost feel like completing the project in real life; the right pictures, statuses, and comments can create a persona of yourself on Facebook that might almost be like you.  But not quite.  The internet may give out sugar-highs, but it never provides real satisfaction.  That's why hours of surfing the web always leaves my brain feeling fat and lifeless, just like a nasty burger-hangover.

  OK, so the metaphor isn't perfect (Facebook and Pinterest are probably not as evil as partially-hydrogenated oils or red food dye) but my point is, we aren't going to find soul-level satisfaction unless we're willing to ditch the quick fixes that so easily creep into our spiritual diets.  I find that in my eating habits or activity choices, I often turn to cheap thrills because I just want to do things my own way and be in control.  Why would I go my own way when we have a God who provides us with things like blueberries?  All that processed candy is just stupid next to freshly picked blueberries!  We can trust the God of blueberries to give us a rich and abundant life that's so much better than anything we could contrive on our own.


The Grace of God Compells Me to Hang Out with People Unlike Myself

   The following quote is an analysis of Christian engagement with the secular world from Langdon Gilkey's memoir of his internment in the WWII Japanese-run camp, Shantung Compound, after which the book is titled.  It is a slap on the wrist to all Christians who have isolated themselves, behaviorally if not physically, from the secular community around them.  Gilkey is describing the behavior of various religious groups within Shantung Compound during the two and a half years in which they were kept together in alarmingly close quarters.  These comments do not come from someone who is making a passing judgement--Gilkey literally lived side-by-side with these people and had an honest, consistent picture of their behavior over the course of his internment.
   "The Catholic fathers possessed a religious and moral seriousness free of spiritual pride, the communicated to others not how holy they were but their inexhaustible acceptance and warmth toward the more worldly and wayward laymen. Nothing and no one seemed to offend them, or shock them; no person outraged their moral sense.  A person could could on their accepting him, as he could count on their integrity -and such acceptance of others is sadly rare on the part of "moral " people...  ...The fathers mixed amiably with anybody and everybody: with men accustomed to drinking, gambling, swearing, wenching, even taking dope, men replete with all the major and minor vices.  Yet they remained unchanged in their own character by this intimate, personal contact with "the world."

   ...How much less creative, I thought -and how far from the Gospels- is the frequent Protestant reaction of moral disapproval, and of spiritual of not physical withdrawal.  Although they did try to be friendly, the Protestants nevertheless typically huddled together in a compact "Christian remnant."  Not unlike the Pharisees in the New Testament, the kept to their own flock of saved souls, evidently because they feared to be contaminated in some way by this sinful world which they inwardly abhorred.  In contrast, the Catholic fathers mixed.  They made friends with anyone in the camp, helped out, played cards, smoked and joked with them.  They were a means of grace to the whole community." (p. 179)
   I personally believe that "Christian remnant-ism" is the default mode for most Christians, and for most people, simply because we prefer to be around people who think and act like us.  Christian branding (such as Christian radio, movies, literature, education curricula, etc.) has also served to mono-culturize Christians in a way that makes them detectably uncomfortable with non-Christians and non-Christian settings.  And why, if we believe we are Christians because we are justified by Jesus and not our own works, do we think that Christian culture is somehow less sinful than non-Christian culture? Because sin is about motivation and about what we set our affections on, we're just as likely to be influenced into sin by hanging out with Christians as we are with non-Christians. 

  Jesus was so closely associated with secular people that the religious leaders accused him of being one of them, even to the point of calling him a "glutton and a drunkard." (Luke 7:34)  We cannot expect to follow Jesus' example and make disciples of all demographics if we are only comfortable being around people like ourselves--if we only hang out with Christians.  All of us have interests and talents that can be relational inroads towards the people in our work, schools, neighborhoods, garden clubs, gyms, coffee shops, bars, and book clubs. The grace of God compels us to relationally pursue these people because we were first pursued by a Love that won us over.


5 Hilarious Things about being Pregnant at Whitworth

1) Aliens!
        One of my professors is constantly checking in with me to make sure everything is ok, which is something I really appreciate about Whitworth's faculty: they really care about their students.  At the same time, I get the feeling like he expects me to faint or vomit in class, like my condition is some kind of alien disease.  This leaves me feeling very tempted to make a dramatic scene during class, like start screaming that my water broke or something.

2) The Bump Check
        "Oh hey, Allie!" *eyes flash down to check out the bump* "How are you?"
        I can't really blame anyone.  After all, I would be curious too, and the bump is kind of hard to see this early in the game. 
        But seriously my face is up here.

3) Bloodhound
        Some time during week 6, literally overnight, my nose went from normal to bloodhound.  I started picking up all sorts of scents--clues really--from the world around me.  The guy sitting next to me in Core ate a chipotle sandwich for lunch, they're having those rosemary potatoes in Saga, and I swear that from the HUB I can pick up traces of the Magnolia tree in front of Lindeman.  I also discovered that people think they are really sneaky about letting loose some pressure in public.  During lectures, tests, choir, you name it, strange smells are leaking out everywhere.  Whitworth's olifactory underworld can be a scary place.

4) Anterior
        Everybody knows that being pregnant means having to pee all the time, but if you're like me, and your baby-utilities are built horizontally and forward (instead of vertically and upright, like most people's) you're going to end up wiggling in you're seat, tapping things, and thinking "five more minutes of class.........fiiiiive more minutes..."  While I'm fully symptomatic with Senioritis, I really just want class to get over so I can hit the rest room.  Here is an illustration:

5)  Grad Plans
       When it comes to my graduating class, everyone is in default mode right now: Step 1) Greet a fellow senior. Step 2) Ask them what they're doing after graduation.  Out of the people I've talked to, only about 20% of us actually have a plan for tackling the world, but in my case the answer is easy.  Whether Justin gets an organic agriculture internship somewhere or I get a ministry job someplace or we stay in good ol' Spo, my life is essentially spoken for by 6.8cm of tiny love.  The distant future has all the same questions, hopes, and dreams as my peers, and yet the near future is pretty clear cut. In roughly 187 days there will be an entirely new person in the world who will require the foundational love, care, affirmation and guidance that all of us need to become the people we were meant to be.  Regardless of my career path or living situation, this task will become one of the greatest and most meaningful challenges of my life.  I still laugh, though, whenever my friends ask me what I'm doing after graduation.  "Ha! Have you looked at my stomach lately?"


Oh baby

1.  These two crazies are going to be parents.

2.  Baby Hymas is the size of a lime, and has all of her fingers and toes.  He is thinking, kicking and swallowing when he's not sleeping, and all of his vital organs are up and running.  She already has the distinct facial features that make her look different from other people! 

3. So far, there were 4 weeks where we didn't know we were a trio, and then 5 weeks where we knew, but we couldn't tell the world, 1 week of ralphing, 6 weeks where everything smelled like a poison bomb, 1 week since I've ditched my regular jeans, 4 weeks of crying whenever I think about things like Old Yeller dying, 2 weeks of craving cranberry juice all the time, 6 weeks of detecting every scent within 4 miles, 4 weeks of chewing Eclipse gum all day to fight of nausea, 3 weeks of worrying that I'm going to fall off my step-stool in choir and, in total, 11 weeks of helping Baby Hymas grow all the important parts he or she needs to be a person! Only 29 more weeks to go!

4.  Awkward: Trying to politely refuse soft cheeses and sushi.  E-mailing my professors when I can't come to class because I'm tossing my cookies. Leg twitching during class??  Trying not to forget my vitamins. Picking up the slightest whiff of... everything.
     Awesome: Emily's maternity box with tons of adorable clothes!   Having the best excuse ever for missing Spanish 102.  Choir girls dreaming about how singing around the baby is going to make him or her so smart.  Cuddling with Justin, fuzzy blankets and big mugs of tea, sharing dreams about our family.