Posts by Michelle Koetje

On-The-Job Training for Kingdom Workers

Beginning training for a new job, I find, is one of those odd experiences in life that seems initially to have the opposite effect of what’s intended.  You start out on your first day thinking, “I’ve got this.”  After all, they hired you. They know you’re smart.  They know you can do it, and you know you can too.  But then the training starts, and gradually that confidence is edged out as layer after layer of tasks and responsibilities pile up in front of you. Suddenly you realize, you’re in over your head.

It’s like how old folks always say, eyes sparkling with wisdom and nostalgia, “The more you learn, the less you know.”  Only they’re talking about how experience teaches us there’s so much more to learn and understand in life than we’re able to comprehend when we’re young.  (They also like to say things like “I used to know everything too, and then I grew up.” If you roll your eyes, it only proves the point.  Remain still and nod. In 40 years or so it’ll be your turn.)

Being trained for a new job is a far more concentrated version of this life lesson.

From A Christmas Story to The Christmas Story

“You’ve never seen A Christmas Story?  You have to see it!”

Every year, sometime post recovery from tryptophan overdose (aka too-much-turkey) and pre pine-needle-fire-hazard-prevention clean-up (aka taking down the tree), I hear this phrase.  You’d think after 37 years I’d have done something to remedy my Christmas film deficiency.  Oddly, however, while most people have fond memories of this movie, and nearly everyone thinks my life is lacking without the ability to understand significant pop culture references related to its characters and scenes, no one really gets all that excited about the idea of watching it with me.  It’s more an experience to have had, not one to keep having, it seems.

Despite managing to get through over 3 decades since its release without watching this movie, I haven’t completely escaped knowledge of its contents.  Images from the movie are prominently displayed every year at this time.  There’s the leg-shaped lamp stand, the pink bunny suit, the tongue on the frozen telephone pole. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what these are, and you know why they’re funny, or meant to be. I, however, am missing the context.  Without the full story, I don’t know what any of these things actually mean.  Sure, I get the basic humor behind the tongue stuck to the pole.  But why is the boy in a bunny suit at Christmas time?  And what’s the significance of a plastic leg in fishnet stockings attached to a light bulb and fringed shade?

The Watches of the Night

The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn. ~ Job 7:4b It’s 4 am. Too early to get up, and yet if I go back to sleep it will feel like I just closed my eyes when the alarm goes off at 6. The blinds are drawn, so it’s dark, but my […]

What Makes You Stand In Awe?

What amazes you? When was the last time you let feelings of wonder wash over and overwhelm you? What does it even mean to be awed?

The day to day tedium of life can suck the inspiration out of us. We forget to stop and look around. To breathe deeply and remember the miracle of each breath and step. The functionality of life in us and around us becomes the background to our personal stories, and we can begin to feel like this is normal. We stop being surprised by the sunrise. We forget to look up at the mountains. And we drive quickly alongside the river without turning our heads to marvel at its beauty.

Becoming Unashamed

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Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7

I have never been quick to find friends.

A shocking revelation from an introvert who finds it easier to express herself in writing, after having ample time to think…alone.

I changed schools a number of times as a child, and each time I entered a new classroom for the first time I felt on the edge of panic.  If it were socially acceptable to run screaming from the room I would doubtless have followed my internal inclination to be anywhere else.  Unfortunately, I was always keenly aware of these constraints, of what it took to fit in and how much I fell outside of these invisible boundaries.  So I did my best to try not to be noticed.  Of course when you’re actively trying not to be noticed, it’s very hard to be known. 

A Tribute to Church: Why I Love My DiscoGroup

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It’s Sunday afternoon, church service is over, both of them, heading out to the parking lot, kids in tow, ominous heavy clouds in the sky ready to spill their contents, Monday on the mind, work and school, and only a few hours left to prepare for the upcoming week…so what comes next?  Obviously, it’s time to help someone move.

A few weeks ago, I was that someone. 

Darkness and Light

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Have you ever been so completely surrounded by darkness, real physical darkness, there was no difference between eyes open or closed?  And if your eyes were open, you felt them straining to adjust, trying so hard to find the slightest hint of outline that might suggest a shape, something solid, reachable by flailing arms, something to prove you hadn’t been sucked into a void, where nothing exists, empty of everything and everyone, except now you…alone.

Yeah, me neither.

A Story to Tell

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 “I’m so glad to hear how well you’re doing now.” There was sunlight sneaking through the cracks in the blinds lending a bright lemony glow to my room, […]

I would be so good at being rich

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I would be so good at being rich.  Truly, I would, if I were just given the chance.  And I don’t mean billionaire rich, that’s ridiculous.  Just a few million more than what I need to live on, reasonably comfortably of course, and the rest I would freely give away wherever there was need.  No, really… I would!

I’m still waiting on this opportunity to prove myself.  Looking forward to changing some lives with my wealth, and showing others what true generosity really looks like.  I will be so good at this, I promise.  Please, just give me a chance.  Just make it so I don’t have to be the one who needs anymore.  I’ve got that down.  I can move on to other challenges.  Like money.  That’s a challenge I’m certain I can handle. 

A Message from the Mountain

Mr.RainierRounding the turn on Highway 16 on my way to work each morning, past Cheney Stadium, then a quarter mile more and, on a clear day, I’m struck by the towering presence of Mount Rainier.  Her prominent position immediately demands attention, lifting my eyes upward to glorious heights.

Sometimes the Mountain is shrouded in misty, low lying fog, only her peak showing.  Sometimes she’s capped by soft curving clouds, shaped by the wind that sweeps up and over.  And sometimes the sun shines unhindered on white slopes and craggy outcroppings, revealing all her beauty, yet leaving the mystery of grinding glaciers and deep crevasses to the imagination.  At this distance it is not a terrible or dangerous beauty laid bare before me; yet I know she is not a gentle hill.  A heart of fire beats within her, and though I cannot see the fearful power in her grandeur from behind the wheel of my Toyota, I know it’s there.

Almost daily I lift up my eyes to that mountain.  For a moment my thoughts are stilled and I remember – I am small.