the love of a Papa

I was at Bible study the other day and we were talking about gossip. However, as many of us know, sin is all the same it just wears different names, so the topics were vibrant and varied. As is typical, I launched into an object lesson with the following analogy. And (maybe because it fell kind of flat), I'm going to write it here to convince myself it's worthy of preserving. I have illustrated a bit more thoroughly, now that I've had time to stew over it.

A little boy has a tradition of grabbing his papa's calloused hands and inviting him into his room everyday, where the boy gives a grand tour and presents the day's creations. He shows Papa every nook and cranny - so proud of the display and the way he cleaned and prepared it for Papa's inspection. Even though Papa has seen and knows exactly what lies behind books and under the bed, he takes genuine interest not in the presentation, but in the presenter. His eyes are fixed on his boy as the little one goes about the room pointing things out like they are brand new.
Together, they rearrange furniture and dream and hope for the colors and shapes that will enter the room in the future. He tugs Papa's hand over to granny's rocking chair in front of the shelves of storybooks and there they sit rocking and cherishing one another. The little boy adores his Papa and absolutely lives for the time of day when he gets to bring Papa into his own little space in the house.
On a frightful, stormy Tuesday
the little boy loses track of time. He pulls out toy after toy after book after experiment after cluttered toy and surprises himself at the havoc he can wreak on his room. The day turns to night and the boy neither wants to clean nor wants to invite his Papa in to see this mess. He closes, carefully without even a squeak to announce it, the door to his special space and walks on tippy-toes over the scattered mess.
The boy sits uncomfortably on granny's rocking chair, unsure what will happen if night passes and Papa doesn't come. But, all the while he sits and there is no knock and no sound on the stair.
He does not budge from granny's chair, but moves ever so gently just to stay in motion. With night on the heels of day and morning following night's footsteps, the little boy feels relief like a cup of warm hot chocolate. He can hear his breath now as he decides it was good to close the door.
The following day
the little boy slips from the room without sound and meets his Papa downstairs and watches him drink coffee and read the paper. He expects something, anything, to recognize the absent invitation. But, his eggs and toast smell like breakfast and the orange juice means the day will roll on, like any other. He wears relief like a blanket and even mumbles the everyday greeting, "Mornin', Papa" in the direction of Papa's breakfast chair.
The days and the weeks pass
with the same routine. The little boy slips out in the morning, after a night on granny's rocker, gently swaying to the sound of his breath. The little boy's eyes are dark with fatigue, staring at the bright sunshine in his orange juice. Relief has become a best and only friend. He takes it when he leaves the house for security and drags it back up the stairs when he returns to close the door and look at the mess inside his special space.
He still sees Papa around the house, but speaking to him doesn't seem right. He clings to his blanket and wonders why he doesn't feel comforted. It hurts to see Papa sitting so close and to remember the times of cherishing one another. The blanket he carries feels more like shame than relief.
One day
arrives much like the frightful, stormy Tuesday so long ago. The little boy sees the rain and the crackle in the sky and remembers how dark his days have been. He looks about the room, surveying the strangled scene. Without warning, the boy (not so little) stuffs the blanket underneath the bed very, very far to the corner by the wall.
He opens the door just a little at first, and then the whole way. He walks tippy-toes (because his feet now know this walk very well) to the stairs and down. He finds Papa in the expected place, at the window with his spectacles dangling on his right hand and admiring the horizon. When Papa turns, the boy can not look at him. He only takes Papa's calloused hand and with his head down leads him up the stairs and, without hesitation, into his room.
No words escape the boy's mouth, just the loud breathing from all the months of time alone. He invites Papa in, head bent low, and then begins to sob. He cries and cries and says something about sorry with his hands covering his face, but the word gets all jumbled before it forms on his lips.
Papa takes him by the hand and examines every piece of brokenness strewn haphazardly about the room. Papa does not make any mention about particular toys or experiments or books or clothing, only helps the boy pick up each piece. The boy feels the blanket is over him again, though he thought he hid it. With each piece and every new mess, the boy feels a new pain.
The boy's exhaustion takes over and his tears are all worn out as they pick up the last pieces. He didn't mean to, but he is still clutching his Papa's hand tight. This time, Papa leads him over to granny's rocker. The boy cuddles in, covered by a new blanket and he sleeps. The dark eyes sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep.
When the boy wakes,
though he knows not for how long he slept, he lifts his eyes ever-so-slightly to recognize the scruff of Papa's whiskers close to his forehead. The boy cannot summon the words, but Papa asks if they can talk and share like old times and the boy says, "Oh, yes! Papa, yes!" with all the joy of rest.
The boy slowly gathers speed and lets the words fumble out from his rusty lips. He feels different this time, talking to his Papa. He remembers the terrible work before his rest. He remembers Papa's silent patience. He remembers that Papa has seen everything. The boy remembers the blanket he stashed under the bed, by the wall, and makes motion to find it. But Papa's arms are reassuring and the boy knows the blanket is gone too.
Papa loves the boy.
.let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

Careers, Adventures, and the Single Woman

This is a re-post from November 19, 2007 when I was living and working in Austin, Texas with Americorps, coordinating service for the college students at St. Edward's University. It is so funny how I recently saw a bright light bulb illuminate about my strong desire for a partner in ministry, male leadership, and family. I thought I was seeing a new understanding and desire emerge. Then, I randomly read this old post and it seems that this desire is not so new at all! Though my location has changed and my contentedness to continue adventuring alone until God guides otherwise, I still feel very much the same.

Enjoy!
Why am I going to write on one of the most written about topics in social, single circles? Well, not only am I now one of the target audiences for said discussions and articles, I am also forming my own take on what it means to be a Christ-following single woman looking for adventure in the midst of career-driven prescribed dreams. I realize that just sounded like a personal ad... and please before all of you well-meaning, Christ-following single men looking for adventure in the midst of ________ (fill in blank) send a response, know that this is not an invitation.

I recently read an article published in the opinion section of Forbes magazine titled, "Don't Marry Career Women." Of course, days after it’s publication there was widespread public outcry and Forbes quickly published a counterpoint from one of their female writers. As I read through the first article, the first few paragraphs quickly captured my attention, “Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career. Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage.”

Michael Noer goes on to establish his argument on the shoulders of these social scientists who give all sorts of discouraging information about divorce, extra-marital sex, marital satisfaction, and the added complication of children. Being a recently graduated woman myself, who checks the single box on official documents and replies to relationship queries with the most graceful shift in conversation, what Mr. Noer said struck a chord. But, not one that you might think most obvious for my life stage or position.


The Journey
I spent four years in a liberal arts Christian college lusting after adventure and carefully growing the seeds of wanderlust sown early in my childhood on an Iowa farm. Though I trained my mind to filter much of my education through a Christian worldview, I couldn’t help but soak up bits of this overwhelming anthem: dream up anything, find some passion, and set out to realize that dream. It’s true that the American dream shouts this anthem, but the voices I was hearing above the rest were women. My professors, classmates, and celebrated success stories assured me that the only person who could prevent my dreams as a woman… was me.

So, when I graduated and set out on my first adventure to Austin, Texas working as an Americorps VISTA, I had no doubt this time of glorious, “independent woman” freedom would only give birth to other independent ventures. But the excitement is surprisingly wearing off and with it I’m becoming increasingly uncomfortable in these independent shoes.

Adventuring Alone
The single most important factor in my life is my personal relationship with the Living God. The fact that God made us in His image relational, and that He’s placed us in intentional community should be apparent enough. But, my hardheadedness has stretched out this learning process into what is now 23 years. Finally, though, I’ve realized that we weren't designed to adventure alone. It’s not that I’m an inferior woman who is void of an independent spirit. It is that I am beginning to understand instead my soul’s deep longing comes from the very opposite of independence. Darwin Anderson, from International Messengers, once said in a training session that “independence is just plain not helpful in the mission field. There is no room for it and no need of it.”

Even though I strongly agreed when I heard this almost two years ago, I am realizing now that independence is useful in few places. What is all of life, but a mission field? After about four months here in Austin, I realize that I don’t want to be independent. I don’t want to plan the next exciting adventure where I will uproot from community once again only to go to a new place and start over. The family of believers I have providentially fallen into here is of the most amazing kind. My spirit is conflicted when I imagine my adventures would start in new community only to be pulled from it.

Career woman
But, let’s get to the real meat of it. There’s community and then there’s a spouse. There’s a definite difference between being a part of a Christ-following community and being a part of a “till death do us part” union. Michael Noer wasn't writing about the downfall of career women in the life of the church; he wrote about the negative effects of "career women" in the home. For some reason, my dreams of being a wife and mother have found themselves separate from my dreams of travel, missions, and career. Though I tried for four+ years, I can no more separate these desires in my heart than one could separate the red from white swirls in a candy cane. Yet, somehow I’ve found myself here. Like it or not, I am this career woman that Michael Noer writes about. I have a degree and I am looking for a well-paying position that would make a dent in the loans from my wonderful, high-priced education.

I realize the cited social scientists had several good points with which I sadly agree. But, Mr. Noer, where does that put me? I am the one you warn against, but also one who quite unwillingly finds herself in this situation. Thankfully I am well aware that my marital fate does not rest in the hands of any crafty columnist, but instead in the scarred palms of a Sovereign Savior. The desire of my heart is that my next adventure would be with someone whose heart is equally captivated by Christ’s redemptive story. I have full faith God is growing me for an eternal purpose; career or no career, husband or no husband, new city or old farm. I have full faith, but I sure am tired of adventuring alone.


----
So, dear cyber friends, what say you?


let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

after all, the rain

There is a very sad song by William Fitzsimmons called, "Afterall." It's a song that pleads for love to remain, after all. With the memories of wedding vows in repetition, the song is so painful because by the end he is pleading without hope of securing the love, afterall.

Tonight, for some reason I feel the sadness of the "afterall," but my heart pleas from a different place entirely. Fitzsimmons sings, "Please don't leave me..." and though I feel at home in this phrase it's not because I want someone to return to me, but I feel the song drifting from the lips of my glorious Savior. The sadness does not come from my hope in a relationship that will only disappoint. No, my sadness comes from disappointing the One who offers the only hope.
Yesterday, Good/Black Friday passed without a solemn reflection or study, though I saw a bit of the processional in the city, noted the elaborate alfombras in the streets (beautiful, colored sawdust carpets), and searched for several inspiring articles and meditations (relevant, chris tomlinson's poem). I spent most of the day with a student and her family, reading, hammocking (my newest favorite thing to do), swimming, playing volleyball, eating, and passing Spanish conversation.
So, after I got home and checked my twitter/email/facebook (in that order), I was just ready to be done. I didn't have any ambition to open my Bible or journal or pray. I was just tired. So, I slept like a rock and this morning came without announcing its arrival too loudly (or too early). And, about the day I went.
Something I forgot to mention ... an extremely important *something* happened last night and again now as I am writing this.
RAIN.
If you haven't been following Central America's news lately, the current drought is a pretty big deal. Some people in certain areas are only receiving water once a week and others less than that.
Last night, when I was outside the city with my student's family, the drips started to softly pound the tiled roof. It had been so long since the steady sound and smell of rain had visited this place. When the electricity went off, I really started to breathe in the smell I love so much: wet ground.
How strange, I thought, that on the night when Jesus was so cruelly crucified all those years ago... on this night the rain falls to water the earth. Only with this sorrow from heaven could there be any chance of life here on earth. In "Reason for God" Keller writes that Christ's forgiveness for us was costly suffering. This forgiveness of a world of sins stands very intentionally in front of the most costly suffering the same world of sins could muster and says, "I will take it all."
The meditating I refused last night is now hitting me like the lines of Fitzsimmons' sad song of broken wedding vows. I am most humbled and hurt by my willingness to be so cavalier with my Savior, who has suffered at great cost to forgive me and pull me closer to His side. Though my Groom has laid out great, mysteriously beautiful instructions to know and love Him, I leave for other lovers.
Like almost every other day this week, this morning I grabbed my stack of books and set off for morning coffee and a place to flip some pages. I met up with my friend Jess and we compared stories about Semana Santa and laughed about the silly things and frustrated ourselves over how our lives aren't exactly how we pictured them and how there are so many things we could change and how (especially) we would love it if God could very obviously point out the next steps in our journey.
At one point in our conversation, Jess said, "Sometimes, after we talk I feel so... discontent."
I think I said, "I KNOW!" before she even finished.
And it rains.
It's still raining outside and I am so unbelievably glad.
In Catholic tradition, the most ceremonious part of Easter is Friday when Jesus was crucified. They march through the streets, build beautiful shrines, act out portions of the event, and mourn the loss of the Messiah. And then it's over.
It's still raining outside and I am so unbelievably glad, because the rain is LIFE and not death. Because though my Savior suffered at great cost for my penchant for other lovers, it is only through His suffering that I can live.
Just as the death of drought finds life only by rain, so our heavy, other-lover souls find LIFE by Christ's costly tears of suffering.
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

because today CHRIST LIVES!

sensical straights, a poem

so I thought I wanted to control every piece,

to put in order and stuff into sensical straights
all the ways my life colors outside the lines
I thought I could force my body to stretch so far
and hold so fast that nothing is left behind,
not even the smallest hope or dream outside my reach
I thought that this holding together would be, well, the life of me
I thought if I held everything together I would stay in tact too.
...because a great, monstrous fear is to unravel
until only a heaping mess of life-yarn remains
now, if I could put a lasso around what most confuses me
and all the ways my randomness leaves disasters
of colors and shapes and people stranded
if I could somehow capture this crazy, inner, picasso-sized mess
and train it, conform it, teach it, mold and shape it...
until finally it becomes standard and organized and disciplined
then my guilt might not have such a strong voice
to guide and scream and gnaw and attack and whisper
at all the things I haven't done or all the ways I've failed
but, now I see my thoughts are incomplete
can I hope for perfection by imperfect means?
does another failure and more guilt await
after this hopeful process of control?
------------
inspired by chapters 10/11 of Reason for God by Timothy Keller
thoughts welcome!
write your own poem this month in the spirit of April=poetry month!
as always,
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

two poems

Here are two poems I wrote during the course of our 8 hour ACSI conference today, after a half-day of school.

from the ground
we are just dust, just particles
chemicals and dirt and ground
one day surely we will return
one day we will be found
so, then what makes this moving flesh
a vessel for something more?
what is this skin covering-
what more than dirt and bones?
O God, pierce the very land
that makes my heart its home
till and break and make submit
this wild heart to You alone
the dirt again will overtake
my breath and my lifeblood
captive to the cycle of death
and left with death-mixed mud
O God, O God, pierce this land
so stubborn in this season
that refuses to bear the fruit you ask
the dirt defiant without reason
how does the dirt dare to ask-
how does it find a voice,
when everything about its nature
is dependent on a greater force?
with what complaint can the ground reply
to the Maker's questions
when anything good in dirt
comes at the Maker's suggestion
O God, O God please pierce this land
that makes my heart its home
till and break and make submit
this wild heart to You alone
orphan child
orphan child, wrapped in bare skin
the night stole her innocence
darkness crept where light should be
and took wholeness from her side
and yet in the deepest dark dwells
a light that burns deeper still
someday the orphan child will no longer wander
but will be captured in redemption's glorious tide

thoughts on Truth

Thanks, Christina for writing yesterday about business vs. personal. I think the blurred line only gets more blurry when you are working in a Christian context. Because your business is also mission, and also community, and also the Body of Christ, and also family. All those things together make for a pretty crazy mix of business/personal. I have to echo the thoughts of our mom on this one... personal goes with you wherever you are. You bring 'personal' to every meeting, every encounter with a student, every board decision, and every pink slip. You bring personal because that is how we are made: personal, relational, human. I think God intended it this way. But, it sure is difficult.

Entirely unrelated (and mostly because I already have it written and it's an easy copy/paste job), I wanted to share something from awhile back. I spoke to two different sets of high school students a couple weeks ago on Nehemiah 8 (per my mother's brilliant suggestion) in an attempt to discuss joy and suffering. I did some writing before/after and here some excerpts:

When I stand up against Truth ...

first all confident and dignified,
(sin secret and hidden) spouting
nonsense words and misplaced
pleasantries                                      ...
when I stand up, beside Truth

SHAME fills me and

my knees buckle,                                     ...
too weak to stand
EVERY thought of comfort is
destroyed and scattered like
chaff, swept up by the hungry wind

pride is a monster
and I fall faster

fear, though I know its true place
surrounds the pieces
of what was once complete

the feeling that i have failed
again
that the world has failed
again
...
is only overcome by the

Presence

it is overcome by the

Presence
---------------

So, you may be trying to connect the dots and having trouble. 
"Joy, suffering, Nehemiah 8, and now this strange writing about Truth and destruction? You totally confused those kids, Caroline!"
Is that what you are thinking?
Well, I didn't share my personal writing in my message, but what I DID share was the beautiful realization that God offers His very presence to the people of Israel who had listened to Truth for seven hours and felt the meaning and their sin rip open their souls. They were destroyed by the gap Truth exposed between them and a precious, perfect God. At that moment, God reached out to their broken, bruised, battered hearts and said, "Do not grieve." He saw that they realized the depth of their brokenness and at that moment He invited them into JOY. He invited them into His presence to sit beside redemption and drink in life. 
I love that.

with the Sun, delight

I guess I'm on a bit of a poetry kick these days and I don't mind at all. I hope you don't either. I finished reading "The Singer" by Calvin Miller at the same time that the song, "Come and Sing" by Brooks Ritter (see yesterday) was repeating on my ipod. To put it shortly: after (what could have been merely) a frustrating day, I realized something... If all I accomplished today was getting myself to that beautiful throne to join in the angels' song, then that would be just fine. If I made it there and just really belted out my heart full of gratitude, then this day was alive. This song just kind of bubbled out of that joy.

----------------
with the Sun, delight
straightaway I run 
to chase the kite
whipping, whirling forward 
in silent skyward flight

I run without care
abandoned and free
I race through golden rays
and dance the Sun with me
like a child to a mystery
I'll follow you on
like a melody to a symphony
I'll listen close the song
like a dawn to a day 
like a weekend to get away
like my heart to love
I'll follow you on
over flower meadows 
my chest heaves with defeat
the flimsy fantasy
seems to escape in repeat
I run heavy on
one sweet thought on my mind
I race the golden rays 
and with the Sun I'll dine
oh I'll race the golden waves
and with the Sun I'll dine
I run, careening careless 
with face stretched toward the bright
I race the golden waves
and with the Sun delight
I race the golden waves
and with the Sun delight

God is living in me.

I just want to post a few reflections I had on the Holy Spirit while reading through Forgotten God and studying Scripture. I am overwhelmed at this idea that God is inside of me. The power of the most High, the beauty and perfection and love and GOD. Inside of me, really?

I can't make sense of it. Inside me is so close. I can't escape this body and that's how close He is. The Holy Spirit is in me. whoa.
--------------

So close

The Living Lord inside of me

-who sees and hears, convicts and leads,
this Holy God in possession of my very innermost spaces, even now claiming my soul-
this Living One is grieved by what He finds
littering the corners and walls and storage bins of my heart.

You are grieved, O Lord, at what you find and see and hear

You are closer than the words on my lips.
You are right here ... burning up like heartburn my inside.
My chest feels to explode,
for I did not realize how close you were.
You are so close.

---------------------------
YOU LIVE HERE
this washed up piece of garbage,
cast-off and misused by its owner
this junk clumsily folded into

moving parts

neglected and scorned by the one entrusted

this hollowed-out shadow, dark with anger,
fierce with bitter rage and pain
this monster so neatly covered,

a mess of mixed-up rusty joints

INSIDE
this dreadful piece of epic failure
YOU LIVE
INSIDE

the depraved mind and within
the lusting heart

YOU LIVE
INSIDE
the jealous soul and
unwilling spirit
INSIDE
the ignorant and forgotten
the angry and spiteful
the abused and burdened
the twisted and desperate
the confused and grieved
the lonely
the shallow

the human

YOU live here

no such thing as a future version of myself

This is a tweaked version of a little article to appear in the next Journey, the HS newsletter I write for the guidance office.

When I was in high school, a regular day would find me dreaming about a future version of myself... a very good looking version.

I wasn’t messy or disorganized. I was never late to work and always dressed exactly right. I was never over-stressed or panicked about what the next days and weeks might bring. I was responsible (but care-free), busy (but not overworked), tidy (but not obnoxiously so), and punctual (but flexible).

Basically, I created a dreamy, perfect version of myself and decided that would be my future.
I was comfortable thinking I would “grow” into this person and eventually have all the good habits and character traits I was missing.

Then, I went to college. I got a job. Then, I got another job. Now, I am here.

I am still waiting for the perfect version of myself to appear and introduce all the habits I thought would just grow into my life. Six years later.

What went wrong?

Let me share a little secret the great, big, nasty world has been keeping from me: I will never get “there.”

No matter how many people tell me it gets easier and no matter how many times I convince myself this crazy phase of life will pass, it won’t. There are some things about who I am that will never change. I can’t change my personality or the way I was wired to try a thousand things at one time.

There are other things (like being punctual and responsible) that I can change with a little bit of good, old-fashioned discipline. Apparently, what I should have been thinking about (during my daydreams in Mrs. Tietz’s classes) was making habits out of that future picture of myself.

I am setting out to change the habits I form with my everyday decisions. I'll try to stop daydreaming about a future, perfect version of myself and instead try to make habits today worth keeping.

Lights Out, a short story

Awhile back (maybe a couple years) I started writing something just for fun. It was called, "Adventures of the Life I Wish I Led." It was meant to be a novel in the voice of a memoir... about all the adventures I take in my head. Maybe I was just overwhelmed at the idea of capturing those mind adventures in words or maybe I was intimidated at the really good idea I thought it was and so got a bit discouraged in the outworking of it all. Well, I have a new idea.

It's called: true stories. We'll see how it goes. This idea started out as a Christmas present to my parents, well, my mom really. She loves (or at least I tell myself she does) to read my writing and so I thought I could write some real-life tales in the form of children's short stories. I only got as far as three stories, with promises of more. Here is the first.

LIGHTS OUT

Winter had settled in to the tired country home, steeped on all corners with fluffy white. Five child-size flurries ran circles inside while their parents struggled to keep up with the winter games. The frigid cold snuck in under doorways and through weak windows to whisper on the necks of the great family in the season of Christmas.

The great family watched one day as the snow and ice piled high outside the windows. The child-size flurries had spent the day building igloos and angels and ramps for sleds, but were finally content to sit around the great family’s wooden table and sip fresh hot cocoa from the stirred pot on the stove. Long before dinner was a thought in Mother’s mind, darkness fell like a blanket on the country home in the valley.

Five pairs of rosy cheeks and tired eyes began to plead for promises of "dinner soon." But, before Mom could respond, winter’s darkness burst through the front door and consumed the country home. With masterful grace, Mother swooped all the child-size flurries under her tender Mother wings while lighting candles to push the cold darkness back out to winter.

The great family - Mother and Father and all the child-size flurries - excitedly spread the living room with candles and cards and popcorn on top of a bedsheet. And the dark night filled with the sounds of laughter and love until the last flurry was packed into the pullout couch and tucked in tightly to ward of winter’s chill.
----------

I will never, ever, ever forget my mom's red, bursting face as she read the line, "with masterful grace..." She could not keep the giggles behind a straight, storyteller's face (of which she had to this point, done a very fine job). It probably took a good minute for her to recover and sputter something about, "masterful grace? more like, desperate panic!"

Oh, mom.

overflow of crumpled hearts

art from funkartqueen again:)
This is a work in progress...
----------
minutes brimming empty
where wandering thoughts
arrest a scattered spirit
and deposit a soul ill at ease

the overflow speaks, sputters
out from crumpled hearts
to fall misshapen on top
the ground, mud-covered

a lone wilted, weary traveler
dumps heavy burdens of cold stone
alongside hearts mistaken
for quiet love and mercy tender

an inclined ear to pity's plea
awake and tend the battle
a wise one must in wartime make
a firm stand for what most matters

nothing like the written/spoken word

Here is a poem I wrote today:
sitting here with a cup of tea
atop of a tired afternoon
distraught with all the crazy
that will pass before the moon

today was, of course, supposed to be
set apart and beauty-filled
but i think the way i spent it
more hell than heaven thrilled

i'm glad i can be honest
and share what's on my heart
i'm glad you can know sometimes
my mornings have rough starts

even though I may surprise you
with my messes and mistakes,
i hope you will be patient, still
and with questions never hesitate

i think i am starting to see
that blooming girl inside
i think i might have glimpsed
all those things you try to hide

i'm okay with taking it slow
and with learning bit by bit,
but I don't just throw my love around
so can you please take care of it?

And here is a video ...

http://www.youtube.com/v/IFURxgaLxEE&hl=en&fs=1&color1=0x5d1719&color2=0xcd311b

I love it. We're doing 24/7 prayer this week and THIS is what it's all about - using Scripture to bring God the glory for who He is!

we are supposed to

we are supposed to want to revel,
to dine fine and delight
to escape a workdays wrestle
under a clear, starlit night

we are supposed to want to get
fast and furiously away
from the stresses and the messes
of dull, dreary everydays

we are supposed to fight and finagle
every second of the five-day week
then rush away to Saturday, where
of things work-related, we do not speak

we are supposed to just “get through it,”
and endure our vocation
in hopes that one day we just might
end up with one long vacation

we are supposed to savor moments free
away from desk and planner
to find diversions completely apart
from lists on the task manager

we are supposed to fit in this box
where everyone relates-
we complain and groan and sit and moan
about our jobs that we hate

what if we supposed instead
that work could be enjoyed-
that through our daily toils await
unspeakable gifts from being employed

suppose we each were fashioned
for work and not a long vacation
how then would we feel at the close
of one five-day-long summation?

suppose we are wasting our energy
with a fight quite misdirected
running from all the daily joys

has our souls severely affected

my desk is a brick wall

Hair wadded on the top of my head means business. It means there is no messing around with swoopy stragglers, determined to blur my vision. It means my just-clean, still wet hair is tightly bound with a wonderful elastic band higher than most cheerleaders dare to perk their tresses.

And this is me tonight, after a most random day. You've heard the cliché "writer's block," where the words stop forming at the tip of your tongue and the typewriter has been silent too long to be a hesitation or a dramatic pause or an intentional 'brain break.'

I'm not talking about writing (unfortunately, I have no reason to make a legitimate "writer's block" plea). I'm talking about work.

For the past week I've been waiting.
waiting for a telephone call about school closures
waiting for a demonstration to finish
waiting for stoplights that only blink yellow
waiting for the curfew to be lifted
waiting for internet to load news about my city
waiting in lines at the crammed grocery store
waiting for things to bake

The waiting was not peaceful. Rather, I should say finding peace amidst the wait has been a fight. I tried on lots of different responses to see if they would fit the (very) many moments:
Some moments I was antsy (truly fidgeting) and anxious.
Other moments I could appear resigned and even indifferent - kind of a, "whatever will be, will be" attitude.
Sometimes I would stretch my little creative fingers and try to make paintbrushes express the palette pushing at my brain.
A good amount of moments I've spent reading - classics and philosophy and studies.
Moments slipped away in regret for moments wasted.
Moments were thrown at wishes for moments to come.

So many moments and all that flustered, not-peaceful waiting were wound very tightly around a hope that someday we would return to school and find a routine hidden underneath the newness of a third "first day of school."

That day was today. The routine? Still looking.
I went from chapel to office to office to chapel to my desk... and quickly left to find others to meet with and de-brief with and compare notes with.

My mind is such a stubborn creature. I couldn't make it bend to the appropriate response to the moments of this day, which was of course, "Be productive!"

No matter how many times I tried to shove my thoughts into an unseemly straight pattern, I found myself sitting at my desk (the smallest amount of moments) busting the seems of the pattern because nothing was fitting. My desk is a brick wall.

All this was satisfactorily frustrating (I would be concerned if this behavior wasn't curious) and I came home tired (which I thought was completely unmerited). I won't bore you with the play-by-play, but I want to share a few moments where God seemed to open the sky and say "here is the beauty."

I was able to chat with my mom (trust me, I never though 'chat with my mom' would ever sound normal) tonight and she reminded me, in her wonderful motherly way,

"BUT God is still on His throne and He is God all by Himself. Give some thought to throwing out your ideas and plans and joining Him in where He is working right now."

And I say, "Okay, mom. I will try that."

Listening to: Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors
Drinking: Green Tea with coconut, ginger, and vanilla

papa

a poem for my dad
i might have been confused
about your love at first
all the whiskers, the wrestling -
the working, raw hands were the worst

those dreadful early mornings
when my 'turn' came around
I heard your voice in the stair
and then slowly tumbled down

I climbed upon your lap
no matter what my age
and we sat there together
and together there we prayed

then out to the milking barn,
too tired to complain,
I'd sit on a bucket and you'd ask,
"who's your best friend these days?"

I was a normal, growing girl
all moody and self-involved
and so I want to say I'm sorry
for not seeing your resolve

your persistence to know me
and your love I shrugged off
your interest and encouragement
when others called it a lost cause

thanks for giving pointers
on free throw shots and running form
thank you for attending
every time I would perform

I am sure that I passed over
and looked the other way
when you chose to sacrifice
so my joy could be displayed

I remember those nike shoes
you gave me once for Christmas
I don't know how you got them, but
the miami dolphins colors - delicious

every season with it came
a new thing for us to conquer
unruly bulls, flaming buildings, and

flooding basements almost put us asunder
any moment I've resented you
for punishments or curfews or tempers
is swept away with one small truth
that your love was at the center

in the several years since
I have lived outside your "roof"
I grow ever more thankful
for your tough love and your reproof

not all dads are like you
though many are very fine
I believe that there are very few
who can imitate Christ's love, divine

we are growing now, both me and you
we are struggling steady onward
I just want to say thank you again
for pressing farther in and upward

I never called you papa
though I always wished I could
but I'm alright to call you dad
because our love is understood

dear diary

dear diary,

i am reading this new book. it's flashy and trendy and has exactly the right amount of author honesty stamped on its clean white pages. the beautiful stories of someone else's life has got me hooked like a helpless fish and grasping to make her struggles and dreams somehow part of my own.

on the pages of a book even the tragedy of loss seems strangely romantic. yesterday i picked it up again and flipped through several chapters. i can't help but see her life as dreamy and extravagant, though the typeface admits her daily struggles with life's everyday-ness.

i don't fit there. i'm almost positive there will never be a time when my 'everyday' includes spontaneous trips to europe or annual vacations to private islands or elegant dinner parties or frequent flyer miles to visit old friends. i mean, i guess i can't be totally sure.

but, i'm okay with that. why do i feel like, as i'm reading, that this has to be my story too? that what this author pens as her dreams and tales and desires... somehow has to reflect the bud wrestling to burst forth from the little tree inside of me?

it doesn't, right?

my 'everyday' discoveries of joy and my less elegant, far simpler dreams of what my life will become ... those are legit too, right?

i believe yes. i believe that if five years from now i'm still making art on canvas that no one understands (we'll just call it abstract ;) and still wishing for solitary places to write from my imagined deep, philosophical gut with the hopes of one day writing something that is significant and still acting 17 though I will be pushing 30 and still floundering about without a "normal" job and financial plan and still wishing that I could be part of something outrageously bigger than myself (though not completely sure what that might be) and still just doing the day-in-day-out randomness that seems to be the puzzle pieces of my life...

if i'm still that person, i guess that's okay.

and i guess, diary, what i want to say is that i'm learning that loving people is hearing them ask this same question and then hearing different answers. even the author, i'm sure, as she was writing, was daily proving her legitimacy - of dreams and joys and struggles and pains.

loving people, maybe, is knowing that what i've got to say may not resonate with you. and what you're telling me may not make any sort of sense at all. but hearing each word - a little gift bundled in a (sometimes) messy package - open up to reveal a teeny bit more about who we are.

i think when i was in high school i had this quote on my wall: "to understand any living thing you must creep inside and feel the beating of its heart." according to my google search, W. Macneille Dixon said some version of this so he gets the credit.

the wonderfully crazy thing about creeping inside anyone and feeling the heartbeat, is that this kind of deepest love always, always, always reveals who made us.

now that is significant.

the postmodern missionary

I wrote this poem for my newsletter that came out and thought you might appreciate reading it. It's been awhile since I posted poetry, but this is something that I've been thinking about as I read the news and sit in conversation with my contemporaries. I suppose you see how I feel about the mess I found. Don't be mistaken, I'll include myself in these tendencies as well.

amidst trends and fashions
we set out to reach “the lost”
though even that word itself
is starting to sound odd

what is lost anyway?
we are not quite sure
but we are certain we can
lead others to be secure

with less than compassion
and little thought of the best
we ‘make do’ with half-hearted
and we settle for less

a model contrived
of our own skilled volition
jaws determinedly set
to accomplish this mission

little notice we give
to saints of the past
who have weathered the storms
we are sure not to last

of such relevant struggles
old hearts know not one thing
each day is brand new
with new messages to bring

we will persevere, though
in our own way
don’t you dare say different
or we’ll lead you, too, astray

step aside now, concern,
don’t mottle our path
wisdom comes too slow
time to wait has now passed

tradition, stay clear,
we need not your sturdy presence
you will only hinder
our mission and strong cadence

listen here, Lord,
please don’t show your face
we’re content to chase our passions
and Your presence might be a disgrace

Please leave your comments and let me know what you think... is it too harsh? Am I imagining things? What is to be done? All questions and no answers. That's where YOU come in! :)

Excerpts

Here are a few articles that have appeared in the guidance newsletter (The JOURNEY) I started. It's slowly picking up steam at the same time that the circulation is severely decreasing. Our printing quality is greatly lacking, but I think they are still getting read (or at least that's what I tell myself)!


LOVE IS A MOVEMENT

When was the last time you were moved? I’m not talking physical movement. When did you last feel drawn into action out of love?

You may have just read the questions above and replied, “Never.” But, dream with me for a moment that it is possible to be moved to act out of love.

Some of us just returned from the Bagope retreat and we’re fired up about the lights we have shining within us. We had a weekend jam-packed with laughter, friendship, and (of course) emotions.

We were confronted in different ways with the things God is asking us to give to Him, to release, or to confess. We lit our “candles” with the light of Christ and vowed to be changed forever.
But, as we return and the emotions fade, those commitments we made in earnest now seem close to impossible in this darkness. At the campfire, one student shared her frustrations with wasting time - wasting the present.

There will never be a time where doing what is right is easy or comfortable. Even so, God commands our love to be one that is expressed through our actions. What is your love moving you to do? Forgive a friend? Speak to your father? Start giving your time to a cause outside yourself? As a child of God, our faith is expressed through love. God gives us everything we need to go and do (and He commands it in His word - James 1:27). So what is your love for God moving you to DO?

When did you last care for something or somebody without caring if they returned the favor? This kind of love is contagious, leaving in its wake eternal change. Please, don’t take my word for it. Search God’s heart to find how He is calling your love to be movement.

CABIN FEVER

The sun is shining bright on the mountain, the summer clothes are back in major style... and school is far from thrilling.
As a student in elementary school, I remember the familiar phrase that would freckle my teachers’ conversation right around spring time, “cabin fever.”

No, I did not go to school in a log cabin, although I don’t think that would be a terrible thing. My teachers were referring to the incurable restlessness that overtook the classroom right around March.

As we all struggled to stay in straight lines for lunch, Miss Ludwig would say, “I think you’ve all got a case of cabin fever!”

A stranger might sense the same type of fervor if he/she should happen to visit the halls of Pinares. We can almost taste summer’s freedom, illuminating the end of this four quarter tunnel called school.

Now that I’m on the other side of the education process, I’m wondering if the summer was worth all the fidgeting. The apostle Paul spoke of forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. He didn’t say anything about forgetting about the present. Don’t let the glazed-over look fool you - we are not created to do anything halfway. Just think if God had used that mentality when He went about forming creation!

Every single task worth doing is worth doing well, as my mother used to say. This very day (not tomorrow or the next) we are given is a gift. What good is it to waste the day (or the school year) thinking only about when it will end?

Somehow, there’s a way we can shake this cabin fever and finish well. I am sure of this, because I know we were created to do things excellently. There is always a way.

for mother

Click on the image to see better quality.

I wanted my mom to see it first, but this is my little way of saying thanks. I know, some of you think it is corny (namely, my siblings!!). But, mom and I have a special corny language and we understand each other there. Some people send balloons or flowers or cards or thoughtful gifts. I guess I like to send rhymes.

Love you, mom!

a poem for Sunday and thoughts on inspiration

I wrote this awhile back and just found it again. This morning, the sermon was on the honor of mothers and their beautiful place in God's plan for creation. It made me think about all the times my mother could have pointed to her own wisdom, but instead she directed me to God and His perfect way for me. I am so very, very thankful for the example of unconditional love I saw (and see!) in my mom. Her own faith journey has been an inspiration and encouragement to me in so many ways. I wrote this poem at a different time, but reading it over I think it speaks a lot to the way my mom never hesitated to point me toward the comfort I would find in the arms of my Savior.... and knowing that was the best she could give.

when darkness comes
when darkness comes
and the lights are dim;
when comfort fades
and your hope seems grim

when you’ve searched your heart
and found only fear;
when you’ve searched your soul
and can’t seem to hear

some still small voice
keeps saying “slow down;
seek first, my child,
before your heart tumbles ‘round”

when you get weak
and decisions overwhelm;
when you pretend to be okay
but nothing seems to help

when every problem tires
and your spirit is put to the test;
when impatience sets in
and you are weary with regrets

some still small voice
keeps saying “come near;
seek first, my child,
you know I am here.”

What does this day move you to ponder? About moms or creation or blessings? Lately, I've been struggling to find inspiration... its hiding underneath schedules and busyness and I don't like it one bit. Every time I go hunting for it, I am looking so hard I don't see what screams in front of my face. Inspiration used to come easy. You know, I think inspiration is really just giving God opportunity. So, I'm making space today to give God the opportunity to speak.