in hot pursuit

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13 ESV)

Today I worked straight through lunch, and when I finally unplugged my headphones at 1:30 to see what Bryan was up to, he asked if I was ready to eat.

I was surprised to hear that he’d also skipped lunch because he was waiting to spend time with me.

At first I was irritated because I hadn’t planned on taking a break at all. The Task Master in me had things to get done and no time for fraternizing!

Then as I stood there at my kitchen island slicing an apple and considering my inconvenient situation, I saw a mental picture of myself running away from the people I love the most – my kids, Bryan, and even Jesus. My heart doesn’t pursue them with a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love, but retreats into selfishness and bitterness.

But just like my diligent and loving husband pursues me over and over, Jesus continues to pursue my heart.

So I repented today.

I repented for always running away and making myself the most important person in the room. I expressed my gratitude for a husband’s love that clearly images the unconditional love of Jesus. And I said, “Help me! Help me! Help me!” because I have no idea how to live differently, but I know enough to trust that Jesus will change my heart.

Zugtastic Pumpkin Carving Festivus 2011

I love that Bryan balances out my Control Freakishness by having the kids design their own pumpkins. They had some awesome drawings that involved teeth and scars, and I kept hearing Bryan say, “I’ll see what I can do.”

He did great, of course.

Carving six pumpkins made for a bit of a crazy Saturday night, but so fun.

I just noticed I matched the wrong pumpkins to the wrong drawings in a couple pictures below, but you get the idea.

Nine Years

Star Wars Dad

I’ve been married to this guy nine years as of last week, and I’m pretty excited about that. He’s a great dad and pastor of our home, and the hardest worker I know.

I think this year has been the best year we’ve ever had, despite job loss, start-up life, and stressful money situations, and I know it’s only going to get better.

One night a couple years ago over drinks a girlfriend asked me how a woman like me could go to Mars Hill. There was a lot of sub-context exchanged in the asking, and it wasn’t necessary for her to elaborate on the question. I knew exactly why she asked it.

She’d read in Seattle’s alternative papers about Mars Hill and its hatred of women and its bigoted misogynist pastor, and based on what she knew of me and my relationship with Bryan she couldn’t fathom how I could subject myself to such teaching.

You see, there’s a verse in the Christian Bible that always riles up the ladies, whether they are part of the church or looking in from the outside. The verse is:

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22).

We don’t like that ugly word, submit. It evokes anger and outrage in us because it sounds like we are not equals. The truth is we are equals. Undeniably. But different in ways that go beyond basic anatomy.

What often gets overlooked is the second half of this passage, the one that refers to husbands:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25).

In case you don’t know The Story, Christ gave himself up for the church by dying.

So Jesus doesn’t call his ladies to submit to dicks who think they’re God – or jackasses who treat women like shit – or lazy assholes who beat off to porn all day. He calls us to submit to a man who sacrifices himself to lead, teach, and provide for his family.


I am married to such a man. And so, yes, I submit to him. That doesn’t mean I’m a weak, marginalized woman. It means I’m smart, because I picked a guy worth following.

Thanks for the great ride, baby.

A very merry 40th Birthday (mostly because it wasn’t mine).

Bryan's 40th birthday party

Bryan turned The Big 40 on December 10th, so I threw him a big party in Seattle this weekend for all his friends to celebrate with us. I want to give a big shout out to our friends, Nate & Beth Grigg for hosting the party in their lovely home! Apparently it was a practice run for them since they both turn 40 next month.

(oops, did I say that OUT LOUD Nate?)

The highlight of the evening was the Good Things Rapid Discovery Slam in which a few of us presented cool things inspired by or that remind us of Bryan (detailed explanation here). I read the following essay, written especially for this occassion:

On making an entrance into my life

You came to a BBQ at a house filled with single women, setting out your green salad with mandarin oranges, almonds, and a poppy seed dressing. Sitting there next to the bags of chips and buckets of KFC brought by lesser men, that salad made its first move on your behalf.

You get there first, and you make an entrance.

You came to the office for a meeting one day, and stopped by my desk to say hello. I mentioned we were all going to a show next month, and did you want us to get you a ticket.

“I’d love to take a beautiful woman to a show,” you said, and before I knew it, the group outing became a date.

You get there first, and you make an entrance.

And then I remember sitting at a table across from you in a loud, smokey room, drinking something pink and eating something wrapped, feeling that familiar panic of what-if’s and how-do-you-know’s. I’d pushed back on lesser men before, and they all went away into history, leaving behind affirmations of fear.

But when I pushed back on you with my what-if’s and how-do-you-know’s, you anchored me with you eyes, and said you’d keep asking until I said no.

You get there first, and you make an entrance.

So I followed you off into the sunset, knowing our destination lies somewhere between limitless possibilities and certain painful death. But as they say in our song:

We’re sailing on a strange sea
blown by a strange wind
Carrying the strangest crew
that ever sinned

We’re living in a strange time
working for a strange goal
We’re turning flesh and body
into soul

You set our course on this Strange Boat way back during those salad days. I didn’t know it then, but I know you knew it, because that’s how you roll in this set-up upset reset life.

So I raise a glass to you, Bryan Zug, on this, your 40th birthday. Thank you for setting our course as we follow after that Strange Star.

Maybe others came this way before you, but you got here first, and you made an entrance.

Captain of the Sock Police (repost)

I was looking back through my archives for something and came across this post. It made me laugh that two years later he’s still fighting the Sock Battle. The original post can be found here, in December 2007.

captured by the sock policeEvery year when the weather turns, Bryan goes into Paranoid Sock Police Mode. It’s not uncommon to hear things around our house like, “The reason you got sick, Ruthie, is cuz you’re not wearing your socks!” and “Thomas! You just coughed because you’re not wearing your socks! Where are your socks?”

Maintaining this level of Sock Security was easy with Ruthie because he just made her wear tights every day. But because Boys Don’t Wear Tights, he’s had a tougher go of it with Thomas. Apparently, as you see in the picture, he thinks pulling Thomas’ socks way up high will help keep them on. Tucking his p.j.’s into the socks also helps, and will increase Thomas’ chance of finding a wife.

I just roll my eyes at the insanity. The kids go all day with bare feet because I have bigger fish to fry than trying to find discarded socks throughout the house. But as soon as Bryan gets home from work he’s on Sock Patrol. I figure, if he wants to spend his energy policing bare feet, then so be it. I usually just end up sweeping random socks into a laundry pile at the end of the day.

In a related story, Bryan has also been known to wear socks with his sandals during cooler summer evenings, and even into fall. I have requested he not do this while in my presence, but I am not obeyed. “My feet are cold,” he always says. To which my normally irrational mind rationally thinks, “Then wear shoes…”

This piece of logic escapes a man with a Sock Blind Spot.

I recently laughed at him when he sent Thomas downstairs in these ridiculous black knee socks, and told him I was so blogging about it. He was all, Fine, but you should watch this commercial first, because socks are a NORTHWEST thing.

Yeah, baby. Sure they are.

Stolen Moments

Bryan's road crew

I think we were all stretched a little tight last week when Bryan was out every night at events, bookended by working both weekends. It was one of those occasions where it did no good for me to complain about it – whether out loud or in my heart – so I simply embraced the flow and made it work.

That alone was a miracle of Jesus-proportions.

It was Friday morning when I realized we both needed the car that day, because for some reason when he said “I have a video shoot,” it didn’t occur to me he can’t haul all his gear on the bus. I considered leaving the kids at home with our new house mate while I drove him into the city, then realized the commute would be a perfect stolen moment for the kids to see their dad.

I should have known they’d end up being roadies.

The kids made two trips with Bryan into the Maritime Events Center, hauling tripods and gear boxes while in their jammies. They felt important and useful, and I think it’s a memory they’ll store away for a long time.

Not bad, for a few stolen moments.

bryan & my jitterbug

As for my own sanity, Bryan took me with him to an event on Wednesday. Friends kept the kids, I picked him up downtown, and we jetted across the lake to Mercer Island more than an hour before the event started – which was more than enough time to sit on the lazy veranda at Mercer Island’s Roanoke Inn, sipping cocktails and gazing into each others’ eyes.

I felt happy sitting there, relaxed despite the overwhelming week. Bryan had insisted I come with him, and I initially balked at the logistics of making this happen. But as I sat there, I realized it was his way of taking care of me, of loving me within the limitations of his schedule.

And I was glad I acquiesced.

bryan "in the zone"
Bryan with Kenji Onozawa and Adnan Mahmud.

And then we were off to our event, and I got to watch Bryan in action and meet the great folks at the Jolkona Foundation.

So now the question is, can we sustain this life pattern – these stolen moments – for the next few months as work and travel pick up? Can we make this work? Is an hour here and there enough?

We posed these questions to our faith community last night – friends from our church who love us, know us, and ask us the challenging questions. These are the folks to remind us of our vision as a family and as a lover of Jesus. They will celebrate our successes with us, and speak up when they see our priorities getting out of balance.

To us, Life is a group effort. Bryan can’t lead our family without the family’s support, and our family can’t thrive without our community’s support.

So as to the question of sustaining through the Stolen Moments? I have no idea how we’ll fare, or how long we can plug along at this rate, or even how long we’ll need to. But it’s fun being in this together, and it’s comforting to know we have Community to put things into perspective.

perhaps I need a nap


Last night I fell asleep folding the laundry.

(Yes, that’s right, my life is that exciting).

Around 1:30 in the morning I woke up to the distant cry, “I POOPED!” and strained against grogginess to make sense of the context. It felt like the middle of the night, yet I was hearing my son hollering at me from the bathroom upstairs.

Sure enough, he was stranded on the toilet with a dumped load of Number 2, and near hysterics that no one came to wipe his butt.

This morning I asked Bryan why he didn’t wake me up to go to bed, and he laughed. Apparently he called my name several times and physically shook my body, all with no response. And since I’m quite the angry bear when aroused from a deep sleep, he just left me there.


I honestly have no recollection of any of this, yet the other night around 2am a ringing alarm clock next to Ruthie’s bed IN THE NEXT ROOM woke me up.

Whatever. Call me fickle.

never a dull moment


Setup, upset, reset.

This is how I’ve come to define our life together – enjoying the moment, but not getting too comfortable in it; being thankful for what we have, knowing we may not have it tomorrow.

This is how I define it, even if I don’t always practice it. Sometimes I get greedy and want more. Sometimes I worry we won’t have enough. Sometimes I wish for The Way It Used To Be. Sometimes I wish we could do The Next Thing.

Contentment and peace is where I want my heart to be.

Bryan is joining a Seattle startup called Lilipip, and I couldn’t be happier for him and for us. At the moment I feel like life is large, the possibilities are limitless, and nothing could darken our brightly lighted world.

Setup, upset, reset.

I hope one day we’ll look back on this season and still feel the same way.

A very full cup of AWESOMENESS.

eyes are watching!

Bryan left the house FIVE HOURS AGO with the kids. What a treat to be left in my own house ALONE! I deep cleaned, I organized, I returned long-winded emails that required me to think, I stared at the blinking cursor of writer’s block, and I tackled unfinished projects.

I feel so refreshed that – and I don’t often have occasion to say this – I miss my family and I want them to come home. THE SILENCE IS KILLING ME! This was just what I needed after a few weeks of a little too much togetherness.

Thanks, hon.

This is why I don’t homeschool.

Me: So Ruthie, your homework tonight is to write three words in the “air” family.

Ruthie: CHAIR!

Me: Awesome. What’s another one?

Ruthie: STAIR!

Me: Yup. One more!

Ruthie: PAIR!

Me: Close! I know it sounds the same, but that’s actually spelled P-E-A-R.

Ruthie: [blank stair stare]

Me: Um, yeah. Actually, PAIR is right. Good job.

Happy Birthday, SuperThomas


Thomas, today you are four years old. I can hardly believe we’re here already! You inspire me every day with your generosity. When you experience something amazing – a taste, a view, an object – your first reaction is to want to share it with someone.



IMG_0348.JPGYou are slow to warm up to new situations – it took you three three months to say hello to Daniel at the bus stop, and four months to stop clinging to me at preschool drop off. You sit back and assess a situation or person, determining who will be one of your trusted peeps. But when you make a determination, it seems to be a set relationship.

This year you also claimed a “best friend.” You ask to see him on a daily basis, and tell me you wish he was part of our “famiwy.” Your sleepovers and park dates are filled with Light Sabor wars, kung foo fighting, and SuperHero rescues. Knowing your intimate, faithful, and dedicated personality, I imagine this friendship lasting many years despite attending different schools in the future.

Like most sibling relationships, you and Ruthie are love/hate, but mostly love. You adore her, and you protect her. That time we went to Santa Cruz beach and Ruthie ran in and out of the surf? You were so worried for her safety that you screamed at me and pushed me toward the water to stop her.


You follow her everywhere and do what she does. This sometimes gets you into trouble because you don’t evaluate whether your choices are foolish or wise, only whether Woofie did it. My prayer is that your conscience will override the strong draw of your sister’s leadership, and you will one day speak into her life regarding some of the choices she makes.

thomas roars like a lion.jpgI think your challenge will be to believe in yourself and to trust your instinct. You are thoughtful in your determination, and quiet in your execution, but your ego bruises easily and you worry what people will think. I’m confident Jesus will lead you through all this, and I think you’re already working out what that looks like. When I make a decision that puts you in tears, your question to me often is, “Does Jesus agree with you?” And when I say, Yes, Jesus gives me wisdom to be a good parent, you are satisfied.

I love you, and I love being your mom. I’m continually aware that I walk a fine line between leading you and raising you to be a leader. I want to support you and nurture you in a way that bolsters you up as a man, but still cuddles and snuggles you like a boy.

And your dad? You are WAY INTO your dad. Every morning when you wake up you ask, “Where’s dad?” Every night when he comes home you skooch your chair around the dinner table to be right next to him. And on the weekends you LOVE to run errands and do GUY STUFF with your dad. Sometimes you even climb into his lap with your blankie and your thumb and chuckle just a little bit – you are so content in that space it brings an uncontrollable giggle up through you. I LOVE that – the happiness and contentment that expresses itself in a bubbling over of laughter.

In closing, know that I want to encourage your natural curiosity. You are filled with striking questions and keen observations. Here are a few of the things you’ve said to me over the last year:

Why does the sky change colors?

How did Scout get up to heaven when there’s nothing for him to stand on?

How do things melt?

Why does Jesus live in the sky?

Hey I know! We can send the [broken] spoon up to heaven for Jesus to fix, and then he can shoot it back down to us!

I wish I was Jesus or a Super Hero so I could save people.

Daddy I need to change my pants so I have somewhere to put my gun. (he needed a pocket).

Daddy, can we break our car so we have to buy a new one over there and I can play in the Spiderman house? (re the Spiderman jump house in the used car lot)

I wish there was a machine that could make it so the WHOLE WORLD could watch Clone Wars!


LEE080114- 0080.jpgBryan: “Can you drive?”

Jen: “I hate driving.”

Bryan: “I thought you loved driving?”

“I do in general, but when I drive you read a book. When you drive, we TALK to each other.”

“I don’t think you fully understand the man God gave you to marry.”

“No, I think you stole me from someone else who would talk to me while I drive.”

Dear Roo & Tug…

One of our goals as a family is to spend more time creating and less time consuming. We’ve recently backed that up by prioritizing our schedules to allow more time for us to create – Bryan, in particular, since I always seem to be able to squeeze a little in here and there.

Bryan’s newest writing project, and one we’ve been talking about for at least a year or more, is a series of notes to our kids describing what this crazy family is all about. I think the idea came after a long season of defending ourselves and declaring what we are not about. That grew tiresome, and I think I lost myself into bitterness for awhile.

As we healed from hurt and made our attempts at restoration, we discovered it was much more life-giving to ourselves and to others to tell stories about what we are for, and why we are for them. Thinking on these things, rather than on all the ways we fail in the eyes of others, turns my heart away from the bitterness to receive the joy God calls me into.

I never considered myself or my husband to be complicated people, but apparently we are in the eyes of some. I’m sure chances are high Ruthie and Thomas will also be seen as complicated souls. I feel the best gift we can give them in this respect, is the nuanced context of our worldview.

With each note Bryan writes – in his classic ease and familiarity and cadence – my head explodes with the knowledge I get to be married to him, that I get to be led by and pastored by him. He is an amazing dad, and amazing husband, and an amazing writer.

(I wish I could see his ears turning red as he reads this.)

So without further gushing, I give you…