delight; the overflow

A pumpkin stem.

Can harvest pumpkin brownies determine a day's delight?

You can argue, but I have a Tuesday chock-full of evidence to hold up against your argument!

I have a sneaky little suspicion that this string of so-good-very-great days is no accident. It's a little something called overflow. I'm no physicist, but I'll propose a theory called "overflow" to explain this strange turn of events of the past week that has resulted in an abundance of joy. If you'd really like to know, the formula is complicated and cumbersome, so I will give you the wordier version (which happens to be my expertise).

I wish I could just write the numbers and letters and slashes and signs, because delight too often eludes description. Let me paint you a picture on this flat-screen canvas.

PAINT ME THIS: fellowship with the saints by way of several amazing biographies... hours... beautiful hours... spent with students who push me to be convinced about my convictions words, words, words... in books and articles and conversations... ...listening to sermons around the world and here in the city with a grateful heart that I can do just that... challenged to THINK ... but completely and passionately, knowing that knowledge always produces acts of love... ...baking a recipe for the first time with a wonderful partner in cooking crime... and filling almost every minute with laughter

I know... I just read over this "paint" list and I wish I could give each ambiguous phrase a story as perfect as the reality I am walking through. The bottom line is... my delight is not about the pumpkin brownies as much as it is about the overflow of my delight in the Lord. God keeps pouring more of Himself (Romans 5) out through His Spirit and I can't help but burst with joy. I keep thinking it's the coffee, but now I'm convinced it's the overflow. The more the Spirit pours out into my life, the more overflows everywhere else.

People get blessed... God gets glorified... and it's another good day.

But, tonight I feel I have to fail at any further explanation and ask you to take my word for it!

Here are some tangibles that have inspired: Andrée Seu has an article on Psalm 40:3 that spoke directly to my heart Tim Challies shares thoughts on being a better listener (a message I always need to hear) and also how we can make frugality an idol as Christians I've got a little something stirring with my partner in cooking crime here ... but only click if you want to discover the collision of two worlds in a kitchen :) Desiring God National Conference just happened this past weekend and I am slowly but surely going to listen to as many of the messages as I can.

I hope the next time I start a blog submitting I have some sort of theory it ends better than this!

monday: from bizarre to brilliant

You may not believe it, but Mondays are capable of bizarre to brilliant status. When you start the day off with your clothes on backwards, you have to wonder how things are going to go down. Add to that a proclivity for post-weekend depression (especially after one so beautiful), and you've got yourself a recipe for Monday morning disaster!

It's pushing 10 pm right now and I won't hesitate in saying this Monday shone brilliantly! I want to pack it neatly into a pretty package and send it to you, so your day might open just as wonderfully, but since I cannot this list will have to suffice. I know all of these elements are a result of God's great goodness (and in spite of me), so maybe your Mondays can sparkle too!

REASONS WHY THIS MONDAY IS BRILLIANT

  1. Last night, I set out my outfit for today and therefore squeezed at least seven more minutes into my morning coffee-quiet time-journaling routine.
  2. My morning soundtrack is bumping with some new tunes.
  3. Before school even began, the smile would simply not be suppressed... a group huddled outside my office and I cannot tell you why, but I couldn't help the top-of-the-morning tilt of the head and lopsided smile.
  4. Mondays always add an extra boost because we have chapel in the morning. There's something about standing with my seniors in worship that gives me goosebumps every time. (I also love that they've been bringing their Bibles lately... nevermind that it might be due to a little baking bribery :) A little bribery always worked just fine for my Aunt Jane during swimming lessons!
  5. We are gearing up for another SLEEPOUT this year on October 22nd and the first promo ran in chapel today... the excitement is building!
  6. Though it is temperaturally (made up that word) impossible in Honduras, it felt every bit like fall today, from the bold sun to the cool breeze... and I wanted to burst out singing Patty Griffin's "Heavenly Day" at the top of my lungs.
  7. Over lunch, I got to pray with a beautiful, dear co-worker and God made Himself so alive in those moments of community.
  8. Armed with a can of pumpkin and after beautiful discussion on every topic imaginable (so deep I missed our turn), I started what might make Mondays most beautiful this year. If that interests you, check this out.
  9. On the car ride home, I belted OUT some mad tunes from Starfield, Bright Eyes, and Joel Rakes.
  10. Now, night. I get to sleep sound, curled into my bed.

I praise God for brilliant Mondays!

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

bursting with joy

Cover of "The Four Loves"

I'm sitting here, under my tree, with books stacked high to my right and my heart full to overflowing with thanksgiving. I just spent way too much time looking at old blog posts trying to find some musings from the book, "The Four Loves" by C.S. Lewis, but I came up empty-handed.

I'll have to rely on my memory to relate the bliss I'm feeling and how I think Lewis explains it best.

It is only fitting, I might add, that I'm comfortable under my tree, where roots are stretching out underneath, reminding me where I find life.

Many of you are probably well aware of Lewis's famous book on the four different types of love, but I want to just skim the surface of what has me flying so high tonight: friendship. Lewis suggests (apologies for my crude summary) that friendship draws out God-designed parts of us that we never knew we were hiding. In community, we are able to watch God reveal Himself in us because of the way we are made to live in community together.

Isn't that magnificent?

Today is a repeat of so many other times in my life where I realize there is joy bubbling up in my soul that is set free when I place myself in community. It's like a pen full of words that finds paper or a box full of seeds that finds ground.

Community is a place God has specifically designed to reflect Him and point to His glory. I love how C.S. Lewis says that God ordains our friendships. There are certain people ordained for certain times in our lives for a very certain purpose - to draw out ways in which we never knew we were capable of giving God glory.

How beautiful!

I can't tell you all the ways this makes sense for today, but I can tell you that this day (beginning, middle, and end) made me ready to burst with the joy and inspiration of community. God's design is so very good!

Here is one of the reasons for my joy... one of my students Alejandra! She has a wonderful way of drawing out something strange and silly and spectacular... and I always walk away blessed!

I hope you are intentionally putting yourself in the company of others who are pursuing Christ. You will be so blessed by the new ways you find to give God glory for His design!

As always, .let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

pursuing lower pleasures

Here's something I wrote in May when my friend Heather was visiting, but it certainly applies to tonight. I just got home from a MARVELOUS night of capture the flag with my favorite seniors, then dinner, then dinner #2, and then various antics following. I think my joy almost burst a couple times I was so full of it! I laughed and laughed and laughed and I praise God for every surprising snort and crazy convulsion. I love laughter. I will have to write more about that later. For now, enjoy this REPOST from May.

-------------------- After a crazy day, an afternoon filled with charades and catch phrase and laughter, and a typically cheesy serenade for the 11th grade girls... Heather and I went for coffee and finally caught up a bit. I chose the Latte Au-Lait, which means I am now WIDE awake and she's zonked out (getting the sleep she needs so we can leave at 5:45 am to lead worship tomorrow at staff devotions).

I just want to write something quick tonight... maybe it will turn into a poem, but right now it's just thoughts about pleasure. As I think about the students and this culture and (maybe) popular culture in general, I decide that our greatest sin is pursuing lower pleasures. I know C.S. Lewis probably illustrated this idea more deeply than my brain can think it right now, but still it seemed a mini-revelation tonight.

God promises in Psalm 16:11 that in His presence there is FULLNESS of JOY and at His right hand there are PLEASURES forevermore. Wow! What a promise!

God promises the kind of joy that bursts out from inside our souls and overflows to uncontrollable laughter... the kind of joy that you can't keep from showing on your face... the kind of joy you can't wait to share with everyone you meet... the kind of joy that makes your heart feel like fire and makes you want to dance and shout and play in the rain...

NOT ONLY that, but also pleasures forevermore. God offers us pleasure that never ends - He created us with the desire for pleasures forevermore and He is delighted when we pursue the highest kind. He planted that little seed inside us, in the soil of our humanity, that tries to break the surface and soar toward the sun... all the ways our humanity longs to have pleasure can be traced back to the way we were created in His image to experience pleasures forevermore.

The moment I decide to pursue a less pleasurable pleasure than what I was created for, I am choosing sin. I know, it sounds confusing. Usually we associate pleasure with sin, but right now I am saying that we sin when we pursue less pleasure or lower pleasure. Because I know God created me and placed in me a desire to have infinite joy and pleasure, I know that anything less than a pursuit of THAT means two things:1. I am not experiencing the most pleasure possible (can only be found in and through God)2. I am trying to make lower pleasures fulfill my God-given desires for the BEST pleasure (which, of course is a fail from the start).

God created us, knows us, and delights when we are absolutely bursting with joy.

How Deep the Depths

I wrote this back in May of last year... full post here. I'm going to try to start re-posting some of my writing and poetry here so that I can have it in one place. I'll admit, it's also kind of fun to see what has found its way to the cyberpages over the last couple years. How faint the fool who treads the way and tarries about; runs blind to the fray.

How heavy the heart, hardened by years of abuse and betrayal and manmade fears.

How sad the sigh learned by repetition - disappointment, abandoned by man's wild volition.

How complete the chasm built with words great; explanations attempt determine eternal fate.

How stuffed the souls with semantics and speeches and tolerant voices crowding out holidays at beaches.

How lost the lonely, desperate to find a rhyme or a reason to be sanctified.

How dead is this end and reason to fight, with an honest confession - broken and contrite.

How firm the foundation, without shame, is the cross that bears my Savior's name.

How perfect the peace in God's Word alone that restores and revives a heart once of stone.

How deep the depths of this Love, divine, to reach through great wicked and make this faint soul alive. -----

.let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

falling, falling, falling

I have a history (see fright story 1 and fright story 2). Before you ask about a traumatic encounter I had as a small child, I am completely unaware how this dreadful thing started. All I know is, surprises often find me on the floor or grabbing the nearest arm.

I've become pretty good at recovering from these episodes. Unfortunately, the stories keep piling up! The only good thing to come out of this fright syndrome is that I have crazy good material to make people feel better about their follies. I love to see people walk away saying, "I might be embarrassing, but HER stories make mine look like nothing!!"

So... with that, I'll give you some material to refer back to the next time you feel foolish.

Location: Office Cause: 7th grade student, Ricardo Story: I'm not sure why, but I arranged my office so my desk and I face the wall opposite the open door. So, when students or staff come in quietly, I am unaware. It just so happens that Ricardo is a very wonderful and mischievous 7th grade boy who had not been informed of my response to surprises. Last week, as I worked away at my desk, Ricardo slipped in and gave a shout directly behind my chair. With the scream of an adolescent girl, I jumped and promptly fell off my chair, grasping the edge of my desk as I went. The worst part is the few moments following, when I realized the entire hallway had heard and several classes wondered who had just seen a ghost. SO embarrassing to have the guidance counselor be (rightly) the one to blame for such an interruption!

Location: Micah Project Cause: Nelson slammed a door or dropped a chair, I'm not sure which Story: This past Sunday, I was spending some fellowship time at the Micah house... and by fellowship, I mean, ducking from flying soccer balls and rough-housing with the boys who behave like wild brothers. So, we were fellowshipping and I had turned my back for one second from Nelson when I heard the most surprising BANG and my hand shot out, uncontrolled, toward Kristi who happened to be right in front of me. I grabbed her arm and scattered my feet until I regained my composure and then hid my head in her shoulder... Ah! The worst weakness to show a bunch of adolescent boys is that you scare easily! They wouldn't let me leave without making me jump a hundred more times!

Location: Victoria's house Cause: this time I'll blame it on the dark and the cowboy boots I love Story: I had just spent some wonderful time hanging out with Victoria, a senior who has a special place in my heart, and her new puppy Milo. The cowboy boots were a gift from my mom this summer, anticipating the birthday in October when I'll be here. It's amazing how boots can make such an impression - it pretty much carried my smile all day long, straight up until I was walking out her front door. It was dark and we were talking... and then next thing I knew I was floating backwards through the air and onto my back in the grass. Slow and fast quite together explain the descent, but once I was there comfortably situated in the soft grass, I realized how silly it must all look to the guard who stood a few feet away! Victoria could barely pull herself together to help me up, she was laughing so hard. So, I lay there in my green cotton dress and cowboy boots, looking helpless and embarrassed as red punch. When I finally got up, I said, "Victoria! Oh my gosh, you can't tell anyone that I just did that!" but, moments later I followed, "uh... just kidding, I'm sure I'll tell everyone tomorrow!"

And, so I did!

Especially today, don't forget to

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

sunshine on a saturday

[slideshow] I re-organized my room when I returned in August of this year so that my bed is cattywampus in the corner. A long, plant-patterned ribbon stretches down from the ceiling to hold a hanging basket that is growing several books at the moment. Beside my bed, stacks of books have already claimed floor space like good friends claiming the best seats. Creativity finds all sorts of places to hide and I hope I never grow tired of searching it out.

Today, the sunlight drifted in through the window and pranced straight across my morning face at 5:30 am. Even though it was Saturday, the day seemed to be saying there was much to live and that I better start early.

By 6:30, I had already made coffee, enjoyed whole wheat waffles, and finally sent several messages I had been writing in my sleep. I love mornings. Some mornings seem just so suited to curl up in covers warmed by a night's rest. Other mornings seem to beckon like a playmate outside the front door.

Today the morning beckoned outside my window, but instead of a playmate it sounded like a man on loudspeaker selling avocados, tomatos and onions out of the back of a truck. Well, no simile needed there. He really did start his rounds that early!

But, truly, this day made me thankful to live it. Do you ever get those?

Even as 5:30 am rolled into 6:30 and and then as 7:30 led to plans for the entire sun-drenched day, I felt more sure that this day was a gift. Maybe it has something to do with my obsession with Germany and the mid-1900s (thank you Bonhoeffer and Eric Metaxas) that I can't seem to shake, as I read the letters Bonhoeffer sent to encourage all his students to live with a robust courage to live hopeful. Though Bonhoeffer was involved in the conspiracy to end the reign of a tyrant (and also knew of the imminent danger posed to his ordinands in battle), he exhorted them to find joy.

In any case, 7:45 found me on my way to meet a friend and to visit Hospital Escuela, the most affordable (and least sanitary) places to get medical care in Tegucigalpa. After a second round of coffee, we met up with a medical mission team from Arkansas and offered our morning to cut, package, and stuff as they needed. I felt of little use, but hugely blessed by the opportunity to see what the Lord is doing through willing hearts and able hands! Because of their service, this week will be full of desperate-turned-joyful stories of patients receiving medical care.

We parted ways before lunch and set off, my friend and I, on the next adventures Saturday was hiding for us. Currently, she is reading "Becoming Conversant with the Emergent Church" by DA Carson and I am reading "Bonhoeffer," as you well know. Our conversation drifts in and out of the page turns, but I am so thankful to be in community. In fact, I dug up an old post I wrote in 2007 about community and, ironically, Bonhoeffer's "Life Together."

Then, while I was digging up posts, I found an old post I wrote after I attended the first ever Gospel Coalition conference in Chicago. It rocked my world, to say the least. I'm pretty sure that's when I picked up Carson's book (above) and jotted down then these thoughts.

After our book-reading, sun-loving afternoon, we met up with another friend and celebrated a birthday. A night of laughter and new faces and... did I mention laughter? Maybe one of the most encouraging things, as I continue to love learning this language, is succeeding at humor. If I am 3/5 for jokes in the States, then the odds that I would be witty here are pretty slim. As it turns out, I'm not all that bad! And, if I can do anything to add laughter to a room, it's a good day!

Well, I obviously spent far too much time trying to recap this little Saturday. I hope some of it makes sense.

Mostly, I hope that we

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY!

this is what I LOVE

[slideshow] I just wanted to post a few visuals so you can see some of what I've been up to since returning in August.

Laugh Circle If I haven't mentioned it yet, it is a completely unintentional oversight. I love to laugh. Thankfully, these girls humor me and also enjoy the laugh circle from time to time! The second week of school we went on mini-retreats for one day at a nearby camp. It was a time of fun, fellowship, laughter, and getting excited about what God will do this year!

A tree grew in my room I have had this idea for a long time, but apparently all it took was a good two weeks of sickness for me to get the creativity on the wall. The idea is that everyone who visits this year will hug the tree and I'll capture it on camera.

Bible study begins! One of my favorite things these past two years has been the relationships I've made with these now senior girls. They have taught me SO much about what it means to love without condition. My excitement is hard to express in these mechanical typing strokes, but it's safe to say this year might be the best yet!

Angel food cake with strawberry whipped topping If I have learned about my Bible study girls, it's that they love to eat anything sweet (okay, let's be honest - that's all girls!). Ever since I made the first angel food cake, the girls have gone crazy for it! That led to both from-scratch versions and stuffing my suitcases with mixes to bring back from the States. The result: our first Bible study was complete with angel food cake and a new whipped cream/frozen strawberry topping. Mmmm good!

beginning again

[slideshow] Wow. It's hard to know how to begin. I didn't write all summer, but I don't feel bad about that. I never really do. There's something about taking a break to live life and let the words drift in and out on the wind instead of flow from my fingertips. I spent some time putting pen to paper, but I even let that just be for a while.

What I DID do was enjoy the people who stood right in front of me. What a beautiful blessing it is to have community that builds us up, gives us new energy, and reminds us of the One who is responsible for anything good in this life.

I spent quiet mornings at the farm, drinking in newness of day. I passed time on the patio with my grandparents, listening to updates about neighbors and the bird family that just grew by three.

I ran the quaint streets of Atlantic and ate at my favorite Mexican restaurant. I played competitive nertz games with people who make joy bubble out in every direction and stayed up until 4 am debating politics and Christian living.

I barbecued homegrown steak with my parents on the East porch and talked about old times and the upcoming year. I spent beautiful time at my family reunion and then road-tripped for weddings in Chicago.

I picked up the biography of Bonhoeffer by Metaxas and rediscovered the biography of John Calvin. I watched some of my closest friends decide to love someone forever and I celebrated family every chance I got.

My summer was at the same time full and spaced out. It was a double-spaced, ten page paper on the most interesting topic imaginable and it never felt rushed.

And so, with that little prelude, I walk into this year with fresh eyes. All my excitement is bound up in the sincere decision to trust God in all things. In his grace, He makes every good work abound. If I could borrow a phrase from Mark Driscoll, I hope this year sees me working to the "glory of God and good of all people," knowing that God is moving regardless.

If you are still confused about this outlook, the soundtrack to Peter Pan captures it pretty well.

and, as always, I'm setting out to

let love fly like crazy

Hello, world!

Yes. Hello. I am coming to wordpress with my blogspot tail between my legs because I can't figure out for the LIFE of me why I can't log into my own blog. So, I took it as a sign to move along and into a new blogosphere, after several months break over the summer.

Now, here I am. I'm not sure how hard it will be to spread the word that I am now posting here, but I hope the transition won't be too painful. I also hope that I can really master the art of blogging here... maybe even try a few new things and kick it up a notch, in an overnight writing sensation kind of way.

Let's not get ahead of yourself, you are thinking. Okay, then. I'll stick to what I do best and see who shows up to read it. How about that?

I have a LOT to update about, so I may have to resort to the awfully uninteresting bullet points for a few posts, but then I promise things will get more interesting.