Monday, December 31, 2012

Farther Along

Two thousand twelve... it's been a long year. How does that work? How do some years feel longer than others? Or shorter? They say that as you get older time seems to go faster. This past year... the fog was slow, the walking forward was slow, everything was slow. I don't understand it all... I get glimpses now and then. But I trust that some day "we'll know all about it" and "understand why".


Farther along we'll know all about it

Farther along we'll understand why

So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by

Tempted and tried, I wondered why
The good man died, the bad man thrives
And Jesus cries because he loves 'em both
We're all cast-aways in need of rope
Hangin' on by the last threads of our hope
In a house of mirrors full of smoke
Confusing illusions I've seen

Where did I go wrong, I sang along
To every chorus of the song
That the devil wrote like a piper at the gates
Leading mice and men down to their fates
But some will courageously escape
The seductive voice with a heart of faith
While walkin' that line back home

So much more to life than we've been told
It's full of beauty that will unfold
And shine like you struck gold my wayward son
That deadweight burden weighs a ton
Go down into the river and let it run
Wash away all the things you've done
Forgiveness alright

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by

Still I get hard pressed on every side
Between the rock and a compromise
Like the truth and pack of lies fightin' for my soul
And I've got no place left go
'Cause I got changed by what I've been shown
More glory than the world has known
Keeps me ramblin' on

Skipping like a calf loosed from its stall
I'm free to love once and for all
And even when I fall I'll get back up
For the joy that overflows my cup
Heaven filled me with more than enough
Broke down my levees and my bluffs
Let the flood wash me

And one day when the sky rolls back on us
Some rejoice and the others fuss
'Cause every knee must bow and tongue confess
That the Son of God is forever blessed
His is the kingdom, we're the guests
So put your voice up to the test
Sing Lord, come soon 

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by


(Thanks for the song goes to Josh Garrels)

Look! I Made a Hat!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Years

Lots of people name their years. I've thought about it... tried... One year in college I asked for Boldness and God took me to Japan. Years ago I prayed that I would learn Servanthood. The year before last I prayed for Harvest, and I received. The next year I prayed for Humility and Thankfulness (http://bit.ly/TrdZMP), again... crushing blows paired with good love and joys. He gives and gives and gives again. And I am afraid. What do I dare pray for? For God will give it to me. This is a frightening thing.

When little Merida in "Brave" asked for her mother to be changed, she didn't know what it was that she really needed and what it was that she was really going to get. In fairy stories people ask witches for things and get what they ask for but it isn't what they thought and they'd be more careful if they thought that they would actually get what they were asking for. How much more should I truly consider what I ask God for?

I've thought of things... self-discipline in the spiritual disciplines... discipline is a big one. But I'm too scared to ask for that, to scared of what form it could come in. I desire grace and wisdom. I yearn to encourage and bless the people around me. I ache to be whole and well without losing compassion and sensitivity to what God has done through Christ in me and in the world. I want to be fearless. I want to be willing to be open and vulnerable to people so that they can see what God has done. Because God gives and gives and gives again. I am so blessed.

So, I don't know what this year will bring, or what I'll name it, if I'll name it, or if I"ll find what it is that I'll ask God for this year.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Crying Snow

How hard it has been not to be returning to Iraq this year... after Christmas... flying out and knowing that in less than a day I would reach my destination and that it would be Nashville not Suly... America not the Middle East. I've cried on and off for the last three days about it. It distracted me... and people ask... and I manage to choke out that it's just so much more real that that life is gone for me. It sinks into my heart another level.

But God doesn't leave me there.

He gives me love. He gives me snow. He turns my tears into crystal loveliness.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Broken

Why is this world, these people, so broken?
Sickness, persecution, grief, sorrow...
Hundreds of terrified nightmares will be griefly tread through for months, even years to come.
Children too small to sit in the front seat will jump at at every door slammed.
The sound of running feet will cause quickening heart beats.
Walking into the classroom again will bring teachers to tears.
But for now, they are numb with pain and a fog of the unreal.
And I know this feeling of broken shock, of certain acts being committed where it seems most wrong.
And it weighs heavy.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Special Grace

My phone was run over the other day. What grace!

"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;not forsaken;struck down, but not destroyed..." 

This is my grace that every day, every time I pick up my fully functional phone, I am reminded. It was struck down but not destroyed... as I have been and will be. It should have been crushed, but it was not, as so I should have been, but am not.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Words

In Iraq I learned a lot of new words... they were just not in English. While I miss those words and learning more of them, I have re-discovered the joy of learning new words in English!

Some recent discoveries are:
1. The "Maledictory Oath"--may something bad happen to me if I don't fulfill my end of the bargain
2. Solecism--a grammatical mistake in speech or writing, or a breach of good manners
3. Eucatastrophe--the sudden salvation of a character from some impending doom

The first, made sense in context even though I don't remember having heard it before. The second I actually had to look up and it's been a long time since I looked up a word in English. The third, I admit, I knew before so I didn't really learn it new this time. It's more like I rediscovered an old friend and am so happy to have done so that I couldn't help but add it to the list of words for this week.


Monday, December 03, 2012

Broken Things

My dear mother, knowing of course what I am working through right now in regards to writing something, sent me this video. It was great! I thought it was interesting that what my mom pulled out of it was the appreciation of nature, which is great. But what resonated most with me was the evaluation of how brokenness can create beauty. While this is not a "Christian" talk the point she makes is a very Christian truth. God redeems... he makes beautiful things out of the broken. And those broken places are what can often be used to help repair and make beautiful the broken places in others. These inspire me... because I know I am full of broken places that God is using in the lives of others. The video is a little long, but take the time to watch it!

 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

From Chapter 11

I ran across this quote I had copied down from somewhere... all I had put at the top was Ch 11. After google searching the quote I discovered that it was from Perelandra, by C.S. Lewis. It struck me that it went right along with several conversations I've had about distraction, focus, and the chatter of the American world.

" Inner silence is for our race a difficult achievement. There is a chattering part of the mind which continues, until it is corrected, to chatter on even in the holiest places."

The lovely red tree I see out the window of my office

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Father's Care

Said the Robin to the Sparrow,
"I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so."

Said the Sparrow to the Robin,
"Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me."

~Elizabeth Cheney "Overheard in an Orchard"


How often do we live as if we had no heavenly father? Those of us who have been adopted into the family of God know that we have a Father who loves and cares more than we could ever know. Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them (Matthew 6:26).





Saturday, November 24, 2012

Exercise...

So, today I had plenty of time to exercise. But did I? No. I wasn't totally inactive: I swept and washed the kitchen floor, chopped vegetables, did the dishes. But I didn't go outside. Why? I don't know. I lack motivation. Where does motivation come from? It has to do with when you want something badly enough that it overcomes your desire for personal comfort right now. After all, what gets each of us out of the bed in the morning? So how do I get that to apply to exercise. I don't mind walking or even jogging once I've begun. How do I get to the beginning?

If I had an answer I would have begun already. But I have a few things I'm going to try this week. First, I'm going to go to the gym on the way home. I won't have settled in and curled up and have no desire to leave. Second, I'm going to put up some sticky notes. So... we'll see.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Day

"But "foodism" can also obscure the real point (and fun) of Turkey Day."

Today I read this in a news article. I don't even remember what the rest of the article was about because I was so flabbergasted by this statement. I find it amazing that a person could be so self-contradicting and actually publish it seriously. For if it really is Turkey Day and all about Turkey, foodism seems to be the most rational response. After all, we're worshiping food. But the author seems to imply that something else other than food (like maybe family and thanks) are really the point of this day. If so, why didn't he just call it "Thanksgiving"?


Monday, November 19, 2012

What Teenagers Do?

I was sitting in Einstein Brothers Bagels on Sunday afternoon journaling, happy in the feeling that I was writing again and that I was enjoying it again, and that my words seemed to be making sense (at least to me!).  I was being thankful, as we all should be this time of year... and every other time of year for that matter. But I digress.

There was a couple sitting in the booth next to mine. I couldn't help but overhear their conversation. They were speaking loudly enough that when my sister called she could hear the guy talking through my phone. They were obviously on first date. She was wearing a hot pink sweater and her make-up was bright to match. With his button up shirt and southern drawl, he paid for their bagels and coffee, making sure she had all she wanted. Their topic of conversation ranged from relationships and divorces, to hobbies, interests, and careers.He mentioned having seen a picture of her and she laughed and said it was taken in Fiji. At one point the woman mentioned that dating seemed kind of awkward and the sort of thing that teenagers are supposed to do, but that she doesn't want to be alone anymore. The desperation in her voice was tangible. From there the conversation took a rare direction for a first date as it turned to the ending of life, health troubles, bifocals, and cataract surgery. Oh yeah, I didn't mention that this man and woman were both rather gray haired and wrinkled. I both pitied them for their rough lives with divorces and grown estranged children. But I also sort of admired them for being willing to go out on a limb to find a relationship, especially after so much failure. I ended up having to go before they did. I was sort of sucked in like people get with TV shows or soap operas (so I'm told). I wanted to know about these people and how it ended up for them. I wanted to know if they would have a second date and how they would pursue this obvious gap in their lives. I never once heard either one mention church or God or anything personally religious. I wonder if they know that God is really who they are looking for.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

High Spiders


This is what has been rolling around in my head for the last few months... I mean, this plus trying to figure out life in America and life after huge life-changing events.


Now take that and multiply it a few times and add non-profit organizations and draw lots and lots of lines of connections making something that looks like the web a spider would make when on drugs or maybe more like a group of spiders on caffeine...


(What are we doing to ourselves?)

But that's off topic, which reminds me... I am horribly distractable these days. I can't stay focused on anything productive. It's driving me crazy... or maybe it's a symptom that I'm already crazy. But I already knew that. What was my point?

Oh, yeah. American companies, logos, brands, and products along with all the things they support are incredibly complex and interconnected. Everyone is owned by someone else and everyone supports someone else. Economics, giving, and the government are not nearly so clear cut as we Americans would like.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Food

Advertising is pretty horrible, I've decided. Recently I've spent a lot of time researching restaurants, and by the end of the day there are a handful of restaurants that I really want to try (or visit again). And it's all through the power of advertising. Food described or pictures of food can make you hungry. That's one of the reasons I wonder about all the pictures of food that people take with Instagram or post on Facebook or Twitter. It's a crazy thing that we are trying to do to our friends. No wonder the US is overweight! We all spend our time looking at pictures of food and getting hungry because of it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hangman

I run a study hall once a week for some high school students. It can be pretty boring, mellow, quiet... probably everything a study hall is supposed to be. But some days, when the rain makes the room gloomy, or the Monday morning has fogged everyone's brain over, we play hangman for about ten minutes. It's fun, not entirely devoid of mental exercise and gives me the chance to interact with them a little on a personal level. They have yet to be hung. Even the word "why" (which is a great hangman word) didn't phase them. They almost got stuck on "genius" though. Next time I may not give them hands and feet.

Thankful:

  • Quiet respectful students even on Mondays
  • People who love me for no reason
  • Vibrant trees
  • My water bottle
  • Owning a rain jacket on a rainy day
  • Teenage girl giggles
  • Long fingernails
  • Last minute coffee
  • Einstein Brother's Bagels
  • Coloring books and colored pencils
  • Getting to use green and blue in my cross stitch
  • Giraffes that are selfish and get struck by lightning (Andy Griffith reference)
  • Tears in church

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Potato

I think life sort of got away from me. Well, at least this blog did. Most of my spare moments have not been spent on digging more deeply into the things I understand, but instead on trying to comprehend the surface of things I've never heard of or only have vague recollections of having heard once maybe a long time ago.

I find it funny that I ended up in the US on a year with a presidential election where everyone gets super involved in their own worlds of politics. I think it is hysterical that grocery stores have potatoes that are individually wrapped in plastic and called "microwave ready". I miss conversations with people who are not Christians, but I revel in how I'm surrounded by the body of Christ. I am annoyed that people always drive 10 miles over the speed limit and then tailgate me when I only drive 5 over.

But all that aside, I'm here. I'm in the palm of God's hand. I'm happy most days, blessed every day. And I'm going to try to write more, just to be in the habit of writing. So some of it might end up being nonsense--like microwave ready potatoes.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Hammer Holds--Bebo Norman


I've been trying to write something about this piece of music for a while now, and find it hard. I feel so deeply some of these things, but I hate to communicate a message of pain without joy. And my life is so full of joy along with the pain.  Today in church a little girl snuggled up to me while my eyes watered as the pastor stretched out his arms describing the cross. Joy, pain, joy... this is the life!

A shapeless piece of steel, that's all I claim to be
This hammer pounds to give me form, this flame, it melts my dreams
I glow with fire and fury, as I'm twisted like a vine
My final shape, my final form I'm sure I'm bound to find

So dream a little, dream for me in hopes that I'll remain
And cry a little, cry for me so I can bear the flames
And hurt a little, hurt for me my future is untold
But my dreams are not the issue here, for they, the hammer holds

And the water, it cools me gray, and the hurt's subdued somehow
I have my shape, this sharpened point, what is my purpose now?
And the question still remains, what am I to be?
Perhaps some perfect piece of art displayed for all to see

So dream a little, dream for me in hopes that I'll remain
And cry a little, cry for me so I can bear the flames
And hurt a little, hurt for me my future is untold
But my dreams are not the issue here, for they, the hammer holds

The hammer pounds again, but flames I do not feel
This force that drives me, helplessly, through flesh, and wood reveals
A burn that burns much deeper, it's more than I can stand
The reason for my life was to take the life of a guiltless man

So dream a little, dream for me in hopes that I'll remain
And cry a little, cry for me so I can bear the pain
And hurt a little, hurt for me, my future is so bold
But my dreams are not the issue here, for they, the hammer holds
This task before me may seem unclear
But it, my maker holds

Monday, September 24, 2012

Another Monday


Some days it takes every last ounce of strength to get out of bed.

Glowing sunshine, mist rising off fields, and the crisp beginnings of fall can alleviate some of the deadness of heart. The smell of a hazelnut candle and the patterns of sunshine on the pale carpet can reach in to touch the life that is buried inside somewhere. But quiet cold rooms and redoing work that was done once before can be a fierce wind on that little spark of motivation. 
What's the point of even trying? 
And I realize that that is just another one of the lies.

Questions plague me about where to go to church, which jobs to do, who to make friends with, what to even do with my afternoons and evenings... and I am pushed and pulled in a hundred directions and feel like I wish the world would shut up and hold still...
just        for       a        moment.

And I raise my arms like Moses did, but while the time moves on 
I am left reaching for God. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thankfulness

I have kept putting off posting my thankful list for several reasons. First, it's all over the place and I haven't consolidated it well. Second, I kept thinking I wanted to post it on a Monday so I could link over to A Holy Experience. But, alas, neither of these things seems like it will work out for now. So I'm posting it here, today, unlinked and incomplete, but at least posted. 

847. Memories of beaches
848. Rosy-fingered dawn
849. End of vacation comes quickly
850. Saticoy girls
851. Psalm 42-43, how good, how much I want God
852. I begin to see the end of this down time
853. Job possibilities
854. Bible Studies
855. 2+ hour phone calls with friends
856. Molly's choices made with peace
857. My brother is here
858. Sister is coming
859. White wine sangria
860. Sharlee
861. Prayers that are perfect
862. Feeling lonely
863. The tan man
864. Boxes covered in pretty paper
865. New tennis shoes
866. Patsi
867. Walks with friends
868. Little boys
869. Showers
870. Lotion
871. Writing new things
872. So much blessing I can barely stand it 
873. New roommates
874. A beautiful house
875. A piano
876. More than one job
877. Realizing I'm a mess
878. Being ok with being a mess
879. Dave liking the candy machine
880. Breakfast with friends
881. Today began fall... weather-wise

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Magnetic Make Up Board

So, somehow I came across this blogsite... http://laurathoughts81.blogspot.com/2011/03/make-up-magnet-board.html

I was inspired.


So I bought a metal pan, some fabric, some magnets, and a glue gun. And I put this up! It was fun to have a useful craft project.

Friday, September 07, 2012

I do know that waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty,
to carry within oneself the unanswered question, 
lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one's thoughts. 
--Elizabeth Elliot--

Friday, August 31, 2012

Infancy

Infants and small children take naps. Now, I take naps.

I was once told that it was the amount of new world to process that caused the young to sleep more (although still not nearly enough, according to some parents I know). It is while we sleep that our brains organize and filter all the information that has passed into our busy minds through our eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and skin. That is my excuse.

While living in the world is not new to me, everything is new. This world is not the world I have lived in for the past several years. This world is not even the world that I have lived in ever. Sure, I've seen and felt grass before, but less often than dust and concrete. Sure, breathing is an old habit, but breathing wet air, humid dampness, and it is not a vacation breathing but every day real life breathing. And every day I take one more step into the living of a full life here and now.

I take pleasure in the freshness of it, approaching life like a five year old child, seeing things as if they are new. Even the old seems new and I wonder if now in this world I could learn to clap and cheer for the rising of the sun.  I will take pleasure in the time when I finally become comfortable with this world too, though. There is a joy in each stage that differs from other joys like the joy that comes from playing volleyball on a sunny beach is different from the joy of sitting next to a wood fire reading a book during a snowstorm.

So I learn and adjust and nap.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Some Quotes I Found Digging Through Old Papers

Those to whom Christ is precious, will long that others should taste of that preciousness.  --Thomas Chalmers


Ferdinand: "Wherefore weep you?"
Miranda: " At mine unworthiness, that dare not offer what I desire to give, and muchless take what I shall die to want"
--The Tempest III ii l. 77-79


It is what she needs; no thin Idealist, no coarse Realist, but a man whose eye reads the heavens while his feet step firmly on the ground, and his hands are strong and dexterous for the use of human implements. A man religious, virtuous and--sagacious; a man of universal sympathies, but self-possessed; a man who knows the region of emotion, though he is not its slave; a man to whom the world is no more spectacle, or fleeting shadow, but a great solemn game to be played with good heed, for its stakes are of eternal value, yet who, if his own play be true, heeds not what he loses by the falsehood of others. --Margaret Fuller



Friday, July 27, 2012

The Ball and the Cross

Having been inspired by a dear friend to read better books, I began two this week. One, I've had in my Kindle for weeks now. I love real books and pages and holding paper, but this is one book I'm happy to have digitally. It is "Bonhoeffer: Paster, Martyr, Prophet, Spy" by Eric Metaxas. Have you seen this book? It's huge! I wouldn't ever be inspired to take it with me anywhere because of its size. But the Kindle didn't get any bigger when it was downloaded!

Free gothic-cross-pray-faith.jpg phone wallpaper by darcieThe other book I began is "The Ball and the Cross" by G.K. Chesterton. This one thrilled me in the first chapter because it started to explain something I've been thinking about for over four months now.  
The character named Lucifer claims, "...the cross is the conflict of two hostile lines, of irreconcilable direction. That silent thing up there is essentially a collision, a crash, a struggle in stone. ... The very shape of it is a contradiction in terms."

Then Michael responds, "But we like  contradictions in terms. Man is a contradiction in terms; he is a beast whose superiority to other beasts consists in having fallen That cross is, as you say, an eternal collision; so am I. That is a struggle in stone. Every form of life is a struggle in flesh."

The cross as contradiction itself has long been on my mind. This, however, is part of it's glory. It is the glory of a God who redeems the fallen and makes it whole and beautiful. When the horrible is intersected by the beautiful we then have a cross. And in many ways, this is the Christianity I believe in.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Unwrapping His Promises


And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. --Colossians 1:17 ESV

There were some days in the last few months where I was consciously aware of how my very existence would cease without God's continuing presence. He was literally holding all things together, especially me. I don't mean this in the way that I was being emotionally held together or that the pieces of my circumstances were being held together (although those things were held) but that I was more physically being held together.

This is hard to explain. It seemed that without God in those very moments I would die. I wasn't contemplating suicide; I was on the verge of having all of the molecules of my body fly apart of their own accord. I could feel it. Without God actively holding me together I would cease to breathe, to live, to exist.  

The interesting thing was that in those moments while I didn't actually mind the idea of dying, I did mind flying apart. I did mind ceasing to exist. Perhaps this is why so many people who don't believe in an afterlife still fear death. Which is more frightening? Heaven, hell, or just stopping?

So I would pray, and I knew in those moments God held me together. I could feel his pull the way we feel gravity when we jump up in the air. By feeling myself about to fly apart I could also feel the opposing force holding me together. And Jesus won. I'm still here. Jesus will continue to win, because he holds things together. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Reading Good Books


I've noticed that my reading habits have sunk lately. I was talking to one of my friends about books the other day and I saw how the books I was reading had sunk to... well... junior high levels. Now, I enjoy a good kids book and have no problem reading them, obviously. But you have to admit that "Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief" is not what you call the pinnacle of literary expression. When that's the only kind of thing I read, I know I've chosen the path of the easy. If everything I do is easy, then I am most likely not doing things that I should be, right?

Recently I had a conversation with a young Muslim friend about Ramadan. He had wished his friends an "easy fasting".  On further questioning it became apparent that fasting was not meant to be easy. It wasn't meant to be torture either, but to test faith and to experience what the poor do it is necessary that it be difficult, that there be a challenge to it. I was then asked why I was asking hard questions. The answer for both of these is that the best things in life are usually hard. We often achieve and learn most through the things that take some effort, not by the things that are easy.

So, I decided I need to read some better books, some hard books. Have any suggestions?


824. Good conversations about hard things being good
825. Microwave smores
826. Recuperating
827. Military men who have seen too much so we don't have to
828. Handel's Messiah--He carried our sorrows
829. Avocados
830. Fresh raspberries
831. Peaches
832. Long Bible times
833. The possibilities of dreams
834. Curel Daily Moisture Lotion
835. New striped skirt
836. Torrential rain shadows
837. Sun-breaks that glitter the wet ground
839. Communion Songs
840. Talking with a friend on a bad day
841. People who have airline tickets
842. Washing machine in the house
843. Cozy darkness in the Nuart
844. Raspberry cheesecake

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Images


         She pulled out two large pieces of white poster board and a couple of black and blue permanent markers. Laying them on the polished tile floor, she knelt next to them. In precise large print and simple vocabulary she outlined each rule and the corresponding consequences. The squeak of the markers echoed off of the bare walls in the room. Using a hammer and small silver tacks she put the posters up on the wall. She readjusted them several times to make them straight.  Finally, standing back, she surveyed her work.

          Walking she ran her hand along the plastered concrete wall until her fingers caught on some chips out of the paint near the door. She walked over to a shoulder bag on the floor and pulled out an A4 sheet of pale pink paper. She wrote a cheerful little rhyme  about books on it before taping it to the wall over the damaged paint and plaster. Pacing through the room again she checked and alphabetized the six books on a small shelf in the corner, lining up the spines in a row on the dented wood.

          Her eyes scanned the room marking each item in its place. Twenty-two desks stood at attention in neat rows. The clear taped name tags on the top of each desk gleamed in the sunlight.
           
          Then turning around, she sorted the dry erase markers in the metal tray below the white board. Picking up a green one she wrote, "Miss Hansen." Stopping, she erased the words and wrote, "Welcome!" She paused again and erased the exclamation point. Then she added, "to the fifth grade!" She capped the marker, picked up a red one, and added a flower in the corner of the board. Capping that marker too she put it back in the tray and lined up the markers again.
            
           Sighing, she picked up her bag and cell phone. Stepping through the doorway she glanced back into the room. She shut the door carefully behind her and silently strode down the hallway.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thanks for Funky Straw Flowers


 

805. Random meeting of Kent
806. My first job call-back
807. God is still on the throne
808. The puppy dog curled up on the spare mattress on my floor
809. Playing yellow bingo cars all by myself (That way I always win! Now if only I could find 5 yellow cars in one day!)






810. Just looking to Jesus
811. My father's laughter
812. God directs even the details
813. The stone heart that Angie gave me
814. Dr. Jerry's e-mails
815. The opportunity to make some money
816. The walls in my sister's bedroom
817. For our friend who takes care of our house



818. Giving-up-things-I-love pain
819. Cross stitch contours appearing
820. Long talks with wise people
821. Round hay bales on green hills
822. The yearbook
823. Whole wheat bagels



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Outside One Evening

The light slants sideways, dripping down the dark brown bark slowly as the voice full of words hums on and on. A tall ivy clothed tree stump glitters green against the gold of the setting sun. And twisting between the slender white poplar trunks are curls and wisps of smoke, rising from the mouths of mellow young men. A white circle of it floats, expanding and dissipating in the cooling air. She holds her phone sideways, her thumbs tracing across its screen at intervals. He absentmindedly fidgets with his pipe and the paper in his lap. Another hurriedly takes notes writing down things as if a life depended on it. And I wonder which of us is missing out on the most.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Fear


Recently I've been working through my fears. There are many of them. I know that God does not give us a spirit of fear... so I fight it. But there are so many and from so many directions that sometimes I feel so lost in it all.

You see, I'm afraid of not fitting in. The transition back to the U.S. stirs up this ugly fear that has to do with what people think of me and what I think of them. I'm also afraid of fitting in. I don't want to be like everyone else. Iraq has changed me and I don't want to lose that. But then I'm also afraid of pretending to fit in even when I don't. The combination of not wanting to fit in and wanting to belong makes me horribly likely to try to look like I fit in while all the time decaying on this inside because I am different.

I am not who I was before... before ever. I am not an Idahoan... a Tennessee-an... or an Iraqi. Who am I? I'm a child of God whose true home is Heaven. Unfortunately this means that I'm an alien, an exile in a foreign land here. And that's hard.



Thankful List
782. Dr. Jerry's random e-mails.
783. Moments of impact that define who you are and who you become
784. Silver nail polish
785. Choices I've never had to make
786. God forgives instead of becoming bitter at my betrayal
787. Free music from Josh Garrels
788. Picture of Katie and Jonathan in the mail
789. Smooth flights
790. Heat at Loon Lake
791. A day of complete independence
792. People who understand
793. Birds in the backyard
794. Having sent off the e-mails about my house stuff
795. Coming to terms with probably never going back
796. Several applications submitted
797. Tears... everywhere
798. Forgiveness
799. People happy to see me at the Nuart
800. Being able to help and be of use to someone
801. Stomach hunger
802. Fast internet
803. The regular hum of a washing machine in the house
804. Feeling lost and unsure of where I am to go (this is a hard one)

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

A Day Entirely in the Imperative


Blink. Again. Spread your arms and yawn. Slide out of your bed, arch your back, and creep catlike to the bathroom. Now wake up. Wake up for real. See the world, not just as  you've always thought of it in the morning of a new day but as it really is. Pay attention to the details in the grooved bark of a tree or the spots on a butterfly's wings or the white foam on the tip of the ocean waves. Choose today to become truly aware as the story unfolds and plots crash together in front of your toast and orange juice.

Walk out into the sunshine or clouds of the day clothed with peace. Open the car doors and drive away grateful to God that it runs and moves and doesn't explode when you turn the key in the ignition. Don't rage at the crazy driving man who doesn't stop at the stop sign and don't swear at the woman who can't figure out where she's going. Give thanks for your parking spot, near or far.

Enter your workplace, glad for a profession, a way to provide for yourself, a place to learn new things, a way to serve like Jesus did. Communicate open heartedly and reach out to the people around you. Love them because you are commanded to. Love them because God does. Love them because red blood has been shed.

Breathe. Pray. Admit your empty inadequacy and your hollow weakness. Suck in another breath and fill your lungs with air. Be filled with the breath of life, the Spirit of all grace. Be thankful for that air and that grace. But turn your heart to be thankful not only in the pleasant graces but also in the severe mercies, the endings in things as well as the beginnings. Feel the pain of the losses and grief but rejoice. Rejoice in the trials, troubles, and sorrow. Seek Christ's grace, Christ's goodness, Christ's joy. Again, be thankful.

Work hard. Glorify God in what you do. And at the end of the day return home and value that you have an address to put on forms and a pillow to rest your head upon. Be a blessing to the people in your home, not a curse. Smile. Say hello and goodbye, please and thank you.

When you eat, consider how death gives life when the body of the dead is consumed by the living. Remember the sacred things and how whenever we eat of bread or drink of cup we proclaim something. Proclaim death purposefully, resurrection gladly, and Jesus' return with sure hope. Do not eat or drink in vain, but with community, gratitude, humility, and joy.

And at the end, after the sun has set, lay yourself down, weary from fully living a whole day. Rest and pray and commune with the God who filled each moment with life and joy more than any one of us could manage to grasp in those moments. Then sleep well and peacefully preparing yourself for the next day's gifts to be revealed.


Monday, July 02, 2012

Pancakes and Bluegrass






764. Tears for Jeremiah
765. Dave's words of encouragement... we are not defeated
766. Noni finishing and folding my laundry
767. Robin's hysterical laughter when she gets tired
768. Moments where you just wish time would slow and you could hold onto it for a really long time
769. Round topped doors
770. Fido's
771. The little Toyota Yaris rental car
772. The gut weight of hard times
773. Being done with buying plane tickets
774. Breakfast at the Hocks
775. Large team meals with everyone from everywhere!
776. Newsletter success
777.  He will have His bride as rich as Himself, and He will not have a glory or a grace in which she shall not share.--Spurgeon
778. Hugs of friends who are new
779. Having so little to give
780. "From Depths of Woe"
781. Napping in the D's living room on a Sunday afternoon


Friday, June 29, 2012

Epiphanies

So I found this book in McKay's bookstore. (McKay's is like the Costco of used books; it's amazing and addicting and very very dangerous.) The book is called "The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction." And while I don't tend to write fiction, I liked the idea of learning to write in different ways and I also like the idea of having epiphanies!

Yesterday and today I began working on the first lesson. Writing something that is obviously in the first person perspective without using the words "I", "me", or "my" more than twice all together. This is not easy. Sometimes it feels awkward. Sometimes it just ends up branching out to be more creatively said. I'm still working on it.

It kind of reminds me of the time my sister wrote an entire paper for her Rhetoric teacher without using the letter "e". He didn't even notice. And I don't expect anyone who might happen to read my short 600 word first person perspective writing to notice that "me" is used only once and "I" is used only once. But I do hope that they notice the point that I'm trying to get across.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Family Reunions

Family reunions are amazing things. There are so many people and everyone knows each other (or is meeting each other) and it always gets bigger and bigger. People mingle in and out and it's not like other parties where people feel like they have to impress others. Here we're family. We've traveled overseas together. That means we've all seen each other stinky, groggy, and jet-lagged. There's no pretense left. I like it. It's comfortable. I like that. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Buying Plane Tickets

Some days it feels like everything will always be hard. Some days just communicating with people is overwhelming. Some days even the hopeful parts of life seem too far off, even if they are less than two months away. But some days... you have to buy plane tickets. And sometimes those are the worst days ever. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Thankful Again


 
736. 60% Dark Chocolate
737. Overcoming the darts of the evil one
738. Messages from my students
739. Skype voicemail
740. Getting Excel to do what I want!
741. My presence making a difference to friends
742. Ericka playing and singing
743. K and C's purple mouthed baby's smile
744. Smiles at scarf gifts
745. Fresh cake donuts
746. Pretty new planner
747. Refining fire that burns off my bondage




748. Seeing Patrick
749. Tribute blend coffee fresh ground
750. Helping others process through details
751. Katie's fake eyelashes
752. Jonathan and his groomsmen praying in the chapel
753. The look on Jonathan's face as he made his vows
754. Katie looking like a model
755. My friend "giving me permission" to get married
756. Golden honey drizzling
757. Drinking tap water
758. Words that speak God's direction for my future

759. White t-shirt
760. Amazing foods... over and over again
761. Laughter and talking around the table, in the living room, at the airport
762. My new piercing
763. Adjusting to America more purposefully



Saturday, June 16, 2012

Blowing Bubbles in the Evening


 Bubbles are some of the most beautiful things on earth, I think.

 But, because they move and reflect light, they are very hard to photograph...
 
especially at night.

 One interesting thing is that you can see your reflection in them.

 But that reflection is short lived.

Sometimes you get the chance to see amazingly weird or wonderful things. 
 
How often do I forget those things when the situation is over? When the bubble pops?
There are so many things I never want to forget. Reflections I don't want to lose.