Saturday, February 7, 2015

Priebe Post-Christmas Post 2015

 The task of decorating for Christmas changes each year.  As kids leave and get busy with their schedules, my motivation seemed to leave with them.  I had to make myself begin sorting through the incredible mismatch of ornaments. 

Before me I saw the styrofoam snowball covered in glitter, and noticed what looked like tiny teeth marks - a little critter must have made his way inside the bin in the basement. Contrast that with what I saw next - the cut glass Waterford ornament depicting Mary and Joseph. I was almost ready to pack it all in, overwhelmed with the pressure of making Christmas just right. 

As I blinked back tears, the thought occurred to me - how much of our life is a mismatched juxtaposition of our messy efforts and the finest and most beautiful? Who's to say which is more valuable?  The macaroni ornaments with nibbles from mice tell a story just as much as the crystal. 

We have a tendency to put the best and most beautiful forward.  I do it too – just remembering past Christmas letters and Facebook posts convicts me.  But if it weren’t for the messiness of life – the struggles and our attempts to make it right - we wouldn’t have a need for a Savior to come at all.  And though we like to think the soft glow around the holy family gathered in the manger, I’m sure it wasn’t all that great. 

So, I’m not ashamed of our mismatched collection of ornaments. I hung the tattered ornaments on the tree, alongside the fine art ornaments, and then packed them away neatly so I could do it again next year. 
Even in January, it’s important to remember that He took on our messy humanity to bring us to His glory. 

So as I look back on 2014, I see highlights, and struggles.  I won’t detail the struggles; it’s just not polite. But know that Jesus takes them – ours and yours – and weaves them into something greater. That’s the beauty of Christmas, and that beauty is with us throughout the year.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tension Tamer Morning

This isn't snow; it's hail. It's little balls of ice, layers upon layers of frozen condensate, each layer representing a trip through the stratosphere high above the earth. And behind the gathering of hail is a sugar baby watermelon waiting to be harvested. Underneath the rich green rind, we hope to find bright red flesh, sweet with summer goodness.

I love the juxtaposition that this morning brings - the heavy blanket of gray clouds against the brilliant gold of the leaves, the hurried irritation of the search for clean clothes against the hopeful truth of the music on the radio. As I sit sipping my "tension tamer" tea (a great blend by Celestial Seasonings), I consider the ever present tension of our world - the unsettling reality of grief & suffering against the calm, confident joy of the unseen victorious one.

Though the day came before I was ready, & I longed to cuddle deeper into my cozy covers, I am grateful that God granted me this glimpse of the eternal.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

You Are How You Look...Or Are You?

I spent much of the past 3 days in warm sweats and fuzzy socks. The fireplace drew me like a magnet, and the easy chair had a great view of the television. Even though my laptop was charged, I spent much more time playing Words with Friends than planning lessons or developing our new literacy program. I just wasn't feeling terribly productive.
               I did venture out into the cold on Tuesday. Though school was still closed, I dressed in warm work clothes and headed to the library. I made my list and got down to business. It amazed me how much of a difference a change of scenery and attire affected my productivity.
It can also work the other way for me. There are times when I feel and act pretty confident, and then I look in the mirror. My hair is flat, my complexion is uneven, my eye make-up smeared. It's a shocking reality check. What was I thinking acting like I was "with-it" when actually I look like this?!
              I've been on FaceTime and Skype a handful of times. Every time it shocks me how uncomfortable I feel when I see myself as the caller sees me.  Even though I look in the mirror every day without flinching, something about a camera just brings out the worst.  Inevitably I have to quickly finger comb my hair and adjust the phone or computer to reflect the best vantage point.
I heard a story the other day about a young entrepreneur in Mogadishu.    There was no dry-cleaner in that city, and anyone who wanted to get anything dry cleaned would have to fly to the nearest city with a dry-cleaner.  Once he opened his dry-cleaning business, people were wearing suits again.  It made a difference.
Dress codes in schools and at work…Uniforms...The clothes make the man.  What we wear affects the way we feel about ourselves.  Buying bathing suits is a least favorite chore for most women, because, as my friend says, “Women over 40 just look better with clothes on.”  Our culture affirms that appearance is important.
 What you wear is much easier to change than how you look, but even that is possible. Plastic surgery and airbrushing are commonplace. We recently had a family portrait taken, and we gladly paid the extra cost for retouching – “to soften lines, even skin tone, and remove blemishes.”
I read an interview this week with Mireille Guiliana, author of French Women Don’t Get Facelifts (click here to read the interview). Her one sentence description of this book is “Aging with Style and Attitude.”  There is something to be said about embracing your age and the natural changes that come with each stage of life. 
That's how the woman discussed in Proverbs chapter 31 lives; “She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come”(Prov. 31:25). Her confidence comes not from the clothes she wears, but from the Lord.  She is not worried about the future or what she look like, much less her laugh lines.
Though I want to be thinner, I want more to be confident in my standing as a daughter of the King.  I want to be like her. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


It's a new year, with new possibilities.

The cynic says, "Resolutions don't change you.  You'll never change.  Your resolution will last a month if you're lucky."

But hope wins out today, and I resolve to post regularly (realism keeps me from saying weekly, but that is my aim.)

I plan on posting a question on Facebook, then a few days later, sharing my thoughts on the topic.

The post I just completed addressed the question, "What do you imagine in the expression on God's face when He looks at you?"



“She’s got a way about her…” Billy Joel’s smooth voice floated through the car. (Click here for a video)  I was with a girlfriend and we were headed to work.  I spoke my thoughts, “Wouldn't it be something to have a man say that about you?”

There are other songs that floated through my head as I thought about that – the Beatles' classic, “Something,” (click here to listen and view the lyrics) and James Taylor’s “Something in the Way She Moves.” (here's a recent performance of this song) Men singing longingly, describing some ethereal quality about a woman that makes them whole, completes them. I want that quality, and though I know it’s unhealthy (and somewhat creepy) for someone to say they can’t live without you, I want a man to yearn for me like that.

There are things about Hollywood’s version of love that set us up for disappointment.  The image of finding your soul mate, completing each other’s sentences and walking off into the sunset is missing the reality of the little irritations that go along with sharing a life together, much less the gaping wounds that two people can inflict on one another.

And yet, I don’t think Hollywood was the original author of this image of perfect love.  It began in the Garden of Eden, when God say that it wasn't good for man to be alone, and he made a helper that was "just right for him"(Gen. 2:18b, NLT).   When Adam saw his specially created just right for him bride, he exclaimed, 
“At last! This one is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh!  She will be called woman, because she was taken from man” (Gen. 2:23, NLT).
This must be the model from which the on-line dating services try so hard to imitate…the original definition of “Soul Mate.”

So, we have the template, we have the ideal in our heads, and we yearn for it, write songs about it, and when something goes wrong in a relationship we thought was so right, we lament, “I guess s/he wasn't THE ONE.”

We know the reason.  The Garden of Eden is no more, as dirty thing called SIN entered the picture, and thus we have need for a Savior. 

But we don’t like to admit our need.  In our American glorification of independence and autonomy, we like to think we can make it alone. There are songs about that too.  Think Simon and Garfunkel, “I am a Rock, I am an Island.”   After being hurt, we shore up our defenses and declare ourselves sufficient unto ourselves.

Now what does God think of this?  My question for the week was “What do you imagine is the expression on God’s face when He looks at you?” I like to think that He looks at me with loving longing, yearning for me to come to Him for completion.

Because He is the one who completes me.  He has no desperate need for me, just love. And though he provided me with one who is “just right for me,” He is the one who mends those riffs between man and woman, filling in the empty spaces left when the puzzle pieces of two lives don’t exactly fit.

And so I look to Him.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Inertia to Momentum

Ugh.  I feel stuck again.  There is this incredible inertia that is like a magnet holding me down in bed in the morning, or drawing me to food or fiction ...

I can function in this mode -- I am getting to work on time (sometimes barely), and I have managed so far to keep the family's clothes clean... but I have this nagging feeling that God wants more from me than a life in which I am just "functioning."

What has given me hope is a reminder from a new friend that "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph 6:12).  My struggle isn't even against my own flesh, though it would seem so.  The struggle is against the Enemy, and there is no way I can fight that battle on my own.  In an ironic turn of truth, self-control is not possible without surrender.

In my word study on self-control, and the old fashioned-sounding synonym "temperance," I found that it was only used 4 times in three verses in the New Testament, and one of those times was in reference to Pauls' behavior.  The other references are Galations 5:22 (the Fruit of the Spirit), and 1 Peter 1:6.  What struck me is a verse later on in 1 Peter - "He that lacketh these things (knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness) is blind and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins" (1:9).

Boy doesn't that hit the nail on the head.  We HAVE been cleansed, but we so easily forget it!  "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly" (Prov. 26:11).  That is such a vivid word picture -- maybe if that comes to mind when the alarm goes off, I can run from it like the stinking smelly regurgitated sin it is.

And perhaps that is how inertia is turned into momentum.


Shalom (שָׁלוֹם) is a Hebrew and Jewish word meaning peace, Nothing missing, Nothing broken, wellbeing, and complete[1] [2] [3], and used to mean hello, and goodbye. (

 I have been captivated by this word, particularly in the way it implies wholeness.  I thought of it while reading David James Duncan’s novel The Brothers K, when Kincaid, the main character, describes his vision of the Kingdom of God.  In the beautiful treeless landscape of heaven there are several pools.  He approaches one, hoping to escape from the group, and he sees a miniature version of the world he is on, including

…a boy who must correspond to- or perhaps even be, me.  He was like me, he was exactly like me. Yet he wasn’t me at all.  There was none of my confusion in him, none of my nervousness, nothing the least bit sad or dull or hesitant.  His features were mine exactly, with a single, all-encompassing difference: they had that indescribable quality – the kingdom quality. He belonged to the world or worlds around him as surely as the greenness belongs to the grass, and the longer I looked at him, the longer we watched each other, the more I felt like a huge sloppy cartoon caricature of the being who the boy in the pool really was. (p. 84)

 I’ve come to believe that the Kingdom of God within each of us contains a version of ourselves with the kingdom quality, and part of our purpose in life is to discover that vision and rise above sloppy earthly caricatures of our kingdom selves.  Before you dismiss this thought as sacrilegious, let me acknowledge that the vision is God inspired, and only with the sure knowledge of God’s unconditional love can we rise above the fear of failure and live boldly as the people we were made to be.

It reminds me also of a truth expressed by Steve Brown, one of my favorite podcasters.  He asserts that almost anything of value is a by-product of something else.  If we search for this vision, we will be miserable.  But if we live our lives in thanksgiving to the God of the universe, we will discover along the way our unique giftedness and calling. 

So as a greeting to you all, I say Shalom, and in that beautiful word I express the confidence that you are more than what I see with these earthly eyes.  Shalom.