Saturday, September 13, 2008

Swim at your own risk

After watching Darfur Now the other day, while the credits scrolled up the screen, Andrew said, "I just got the strong sense that I'm supposed to die with nothing. If I've hoarded possessions, then to some extent I've failed." This is the heartbeat of our lives. Be willing to part with anything and everything if someone else needs it more. We came into this world with nothing, and we can't take anything material with us.

This concept, however, would have been foreign and a little scary to the Andrew and Sarah of 8 years ago. When we were first getting to know each other, we both gave the impression with or without words that we wanted a quiet life working, supporting a family, and living in one house for the rest of our lives. Now something's awakened in us. Something that yearns for that radical existence Jesus talked about when he said, "If you cling to your life you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it." I don't know for sure when and how it changed. But somewhere we were spoiled for the ordinary.

There's a bumper sticker or flair on Facebook that is popular among girls. It says: "Well-behaved women rarely make history." There is something in Andrew and I that wants to "misbehave," not in the sense of breaking the law, or rebelling against anyone in particular. But in a way that our lives wouldn't make sense to the play-it-safers. "Why would you purposely buy a junky car?" "Why wouldn't you buy a house, especially in this market?" "Why would you let someone live in your second bedroom when all you have is an apartment to share?" "Why would you give away more than the obligatory 10%?" "Why would you want to move closer to the city, where it's not as 'safe' as it is here?"

Andrew and I cringe at the word "safe." It's an illusion! When people say "safe" they're referring to the external comfort factor in which they've put their faith. A big car. A nice house in a nice subdivision. An alarm system. Nobody with a different skin color nearby. A strong military. A wall between the U.S. and Mexico. To Andrew and I, "safe" means essentially walking dead. This is real safety: "Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God's right hand in the place of honor and power. ... For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God." For this reason, "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going." Real safety is knowing that this empowers you to take risks, be generous, step into an abyss when you can't see the bridge, and love without strings attached, all because this life isn't all there is.

External comfort factors are not safety. They are not all bad, but they are not safety. And safety isn't all good, either. I would rather live a grand adventure and have an impact in the world than fabricate a comfortable, quiet existence where the biggest difference I make is in what color I paint the livingroom wall.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Information Overload!

One of my strengths, according to the Strengths Finder test, is Input. I gather and assimilate all kinds of information, making connections, and sharing them with others. Sometimes I haven't thought of something I've read for years, then it comes up in conversation and I'm like, "Yeah! I read that...(yadda yadda yadda)." People say, "How do you know that?" I couldn't tell you where I learned it, I just know.

Obviously, this can be a curse, too. People want cold, hard evidence to back up opinions. I can say "I read it somewhere," "I heard several different sources say it," or "I thought everybody knew that," but it doesn't hold a grain of sand. Debaters want verbal APA and MLA citations. Well if I carried around the internet with me, I could probably figure out where I read or heard something. But that doesn't happen, and I read, watch, listen, and learn A LOT!

Lately I've been reading a book called The Tangible Kingdom, about becoming a church without four walls, programs, and the five-step model to "getting saved." Am I the kind of person who will step out and form community outside what is traditionally known as "the church," or do I just like to talk about the idea of it? I am challenged, not only personally, but corporately. What part do Andrew and I play in bringing this kind of vision to our own "church," who may or may not receive it well? Maybe they will be ready for baby steps, though. I will just wait, watch, listen, and act when given the opportunity.

I've also been following politics. I watch television, movies, YouTube videos, I read articles, blogs, magazines, books, and I try to decipher what is true. I try to see through emotionalism, spin, partisanship, and pandering to constituents. And I have to say, people make a living trying to do this, spending all day all week following, studying, deconstructing, analyzing the candidates. And I think I can do this as a free-time hobby? What is free-time, anyway? I'm supposed to be studying for the GRE and writing a portfolio! I just have to keep synthesizing what the experts say about the candidates and draw my own conclusion. Hopefully I'll have one by November 4th.

Just a couple hours ago, Andrew and I finished watching the movie "Darfur Now." To say it was enlightening, amazing, inspiring, etc, is to sell it short on a few limited words. Just see it for yourself. I sit back and think, there are hundreds of stories like this one all over the world. What can I do for just one of them? How do I fully help, while not ignoring all the other places where injustice, poverty, and war reign supreme? I will do what I can for what I know. And I will always be gathering more information, learning more. But there is not enough time in the world for one person to make a difference. That is why I have to trust that drop by drop, the bucket will be filled.

I definitely have my times of "information overload," but I wouldn't trade it for an isolated bubble of an existence. I wrote an essay about specialists and generalists once, and in it I argued that generalists assimilate information from the specialists and provide broader perspectives that in turn help focus and unify the specialists. I can't bemoan the fact that I don't have enough time to deeply study everything I'm interested in. If I can use my strength of "Input" then I can contribute to the education and awareness of others. For instance, I can show how being a true Christian means also being concerned about "the least of these;" and how that concern can flow outward using the privilege of voting to effect law and policy that can help those in need; but most importantly, how that concern can flow outward from our own hands, feet, words, and wallets.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What Does This Mean?

I've spent the evening reading short stories by Edward P. Jones and a section from the book Grace Is Where I Live, by John Leax. I trimmed the cats' claws, I talked to Andrew about health care and politics, and I read one of my unfinished stories and started on another. This writing is hard. They say writing's a solitary exercise, but for me it languishes outside of community. If I don't have someone to tell me, "This is where it sucks. Change this part," I become stuck. I don't know where to go next.

Right now, I'm writing here to get some of that off my chest. That's part of the reason. Mostly it's 10:30 and I don't want to get caught up in a story if I do happen to hit "flow" because I know I have to get up early tomorrow morning. Why, when I decided to write tonight, did I go to the kitchen, toast Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread, spread Nutella on it, and sprinkle peanuts and marshmallows on as a second supper? Why, when I sat down at my desk did I choose to let Molly's getting her claws stuck in the chair convince me I should trim all the cats' claws, right now? Why, when I finished with that, did I remember the birthday cards I still had to make from yesterday's to-do list? Is this some kind of spiritual warfare? Or is this divine guidance pushing me toward my journal instead of my notebooks?

Why, when I want to write the most, do I have such difficulty doing it? Perhaps a quote from John Leax that caught my spirit, did so for a reason tonight. He was talking about prose, but it fits my fiction as well:
This uncertainty has nothing to do with any lack of faith or conviction. It has rather to do with three shifts in my thinking. First, I have an increasing respect for the wondrous mystery of my life. Second, I am more aware of the limitations of language. And third, I am dumbfounded by my finiteness before the infiniteness of truth.
It's not so much that I'm already there, or had already realized I am there. But I sense it is where I am going. He put it into the words I feel so constrained to understand.

My life is a wondrous mystery. Born by divine intervention, raised with a promise over my life, I am now struggling to find the fulfillment, or the path to fulfillment, of the promise. I am on my own, but I have people around me. Totally new people who do not know personally the Sarah who was cradled in Illinois. A few know the Sarah who carried her life into college in Indiana, and most know the Sarah that carried all that to Georgia as a new self--Sarah and Andrew. I am the same, but I have evolved into new identities. And I feel I am never constant.

Words. My life revolves around words. I love language as a tool and language as an art. Yet I find it so difficult to harness language around my thoughts, my experiences, my imagination, and create something new and true to the thought, experience, or imagination. I always feel my words come up short, like a line thrown just out of reach of a drowning person. Like setting up the longest ladder I could find and realizing I still can't grasp the lowest branch of the tree. Oh, words!

And that reaching and grasping at, it is all for conveying truth. Even in fiction. There is truth in fiction, otherwise it would be alien and undesirable to read. But sometimes I feel like Pilate. "Jesus, what is truth?" And like John Leax pointed out, Jesus answered him without words. How can my finite grasp of my own experience lead me to express in finite words what in reality is infinite?

This is why I struggle. This is why I love it so. Because in my own stretching and straining, I hope I can be worship to the Author of truth and creativity, the ultimate All who is in all, the infinite.

I am undone.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

This Just In! News Channels Lose Me

Last Thursday I spent the whole morning reading. Not a bad way to start the day; except that I was at the mechanic's waiting room with Fox News Channel talking at me from the TV in the corner. I've decided, if there's one thing that could fall off the face of the earth and I wouldn't miss it, it would probably be news channels. There are a lot of things I don't personally enjoy or reap the benefits of, but I recognize they have a place in human ecology. But news channels?

If they're around to instantaneously report vital information, there's the 10:00 news, and more effectively, the internet. Most people have the news e-mailed to them, or they can look it up from countless (relatively) reliable sources.

If news channels function as some sort of entertainment, they're as successful as laugh-track sitcoms on minor networks.

If news channels aim to provide education, they've fallen into the same trap as most American schools. The most they educate on is useless, irrelevant, mind-numbing information. If you want education, watch C-Span, History Channel, Discovery, or my personal favorite, PBS.

I was at the mechanic's for nearly three hours, and the biggest stories, the most led-up-to, were about Obama and Clinton traveling to Unity, New Hampshire to begin their new tour called Unite for Change. The big inside scoop? That they'd decided on Unite, instead of Uniting or United. Uniting implies a never-ending effort. United implies they've already done it and it's over. This explanation was given at least twice while I was there, and it was just as interesting as it sounds. Also, Barack's tie matched Hilary's suit. Wow! That's teamwork!

Then there was the breaking news that the FCC was meeting to discuss new rules concerning embedded advertising in TV shows and movies. Don't they have better things to do? Must want to get on the ticker on the news channel. Transitioning from the FCC via the "Great Cheese comes from Happy Cows; Happy Cows come from California," it's apparently newsworthy that dairy cows in Green Bay, Wisconsin now sleep on waterbeds. This "watershed" discovery led to slightly higher productivity. Wow, I'll have to try that with my cows at home.

Possibly the most inane and un-journalistic news story was about baristas in some Seattle area coffee shops that are being told to cover up or be regulated as "adult entertainment" coffee shops. The reporter "had to go undercover" to get this story. A couple coffee shops were drawing customers with bikini-clad baristas. Competition ensued, and some women customers complained that the "uniforms" were getting too skimpy. Follow that story with a humorously repulsive picture of Sasha Cohen as Borat in a "mankini," and you've got news.

Is this news, I ask you? It's not news, it's not entertainment, it's not education. It's not even good for white noise while I'm trying to read.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Boxer's Knuckles

Why do I have a tendency to be doing perfectly simple things and seriously hurt myself?

In 5th grade I was looking back over my shoulder while reaching to open a door. I bumped the push-bar and "jammed" my finger, finding out a couple weeks later that I had actually broken the bone in my hand and had to wear a cast on my right hand for months. I also have a tendency to easily choke on water. Andrew and I were driving to school from visiting my family, and I took a drink from my bottle, thinking it was almost empty. I drained the bottle, only then finding out it was too much. I tried to swallow it all and ended up inhaling. Andrew almost pulled over, as I was gasping for air. After several long moments, I finally cleared my windpipes with several large burps. How embarrassing!

So Tuesday morning before I went to work, I was using my resistance band to strength train. Just as I was pulling a lat row, the hook that attached to the door came right off! The plastic part at the end snapped back and hit my bent knuckle, splitting the skin across the joint. I immediately washed it out with soap and water, not willing to look at it too closely before I got a bandage and some pressure on it. I can't explain the pain I felt, just a radiating, aching, throbbing pain. What was worse than the pain, though, was knowing I still had to shower, wash my hair, and get to work within the next 40 minutes. I found a clothespin and wrapped it to my finger so it wouldn't bend, stuck my hand in a ziploc baggie and tried my best to wash my hair with one hand. Now, four days later, the cut looks pretty good. It's not infected at least. Still haven't tried to bend my finger all the way. The finger is bruised, but I think I'll live.

What's up with me? Does anybody else hurt themselves doing what most people do every day without incident?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Birthday Treats

I live a simple life, but a blessed one. I don't need much to feel extravagantly loved.

My 25th birthday was Monday. I knew Andrew had something in mind, but I wasn't sure what.

My day at work was wonderful. I got there early, earlier than usual. I was there for about an hour when I heard the tell-tale whisperings. Every birthday we have cake and sing to the birthday person. One year I was forgotten, almost, when my birthday came and went and we ended up celebrating it the same day as my boss' three days later. I tried not to be disappointed. It was summer time and there was hardly anybody there on my actual birthday. But I'm kind of a birthday nut. I suppose it's a little selfish of me. I always feel I'm a notch more "special" on my special day. I don't even need a party, if people just wish me a happy birthday. This year my co-workers did a great job. I knew what was up when people started leaving their offices en masse, but it's fun to play along. They said I was "needed in the kitchen." When I came out to find everybody singing, gathered around the table with a candle-lit chocolate cake in the middle, I knew this year it was special.

By the end of my day, I was helping a friend figure something out at her desk, which is by the front door. I remember now hearing the door open, but at work I'm so used to people going in and out that I ignore the door. I see somebody walking toward me like they are looking for my attention. I finally look to see who it is, and of course, you probably already guessed it's Andrew. I was surprised, though, because he never comes to my office! He had come to pick me up to whisk me off for my birthday!

First we went to Williams-Sonoma, where I picked out a nice, $80 Wusthof kitchen knife. Yes, technically it was last year's Christmas present, but we just never went shopping for it. And shopping is the fun part! Then we went to Books-a-Million, where I browsed, but used great birthday restraint, because I kept seeing books I already have but haven't read yet. I decided I would have a happier birthday without one more book on my shelf that I probably wouldn't get to for 2 years. Anyway, then we went to Thai Spice, a nice Thai restaurant that we've always heard about but never tried. I had Panang Curry, and Andrew had a dish with basil, cashews, avocados, potatoes, and a coconut milk curry sauce. Then we went to our beloved TeaFusions and bought two more bags of loose-leaf tea. I have never had such great tea--I hope that place never closes! After that we went home and watched two episodes of Gilmore Girls, one of our favorite shows (and yes, we have seasons 1-4 on DVD).

You know the best part of all--my favorite part about what Andrew did for me? My t-shirt, jeans, tennis shoes and baseball hat husband, who later revealed he had worked from home that day, dressed up in his nice Dockers and pin-striped dress shirt, just to take me out. One thing you should know about my husband--he does not like to dress up or even take pains to look "casually nice". He's no metro. But he dressed up for me! I am a lucky girl. :) Again, it doesn't take much for me to feel extravagantly loved.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Just Like Grandma Used to Do

I'm supposed to be getting ready for a friend's baby shower, which I'm helping to plan. But I just can't wait to share this awesome magazine with all 3 people who read my blog! I posted a link in my Nota Bene sidebar, but this needs more recognition.

I subscribe to a magazine called ReadyMade, which features practical, fun, and eccentric do-it-yourself projects. One of its main credos is sustainability and simplicity. I love it! It's right up my alley. But what got me so excited today was checking in online and finding articles about canning and jarring fresh produce. An age-old tradition and skill that has been mostly lost among today's buy-tomatoes-any-time-of-the-year convenience. And it's super easy! You can jar cherries, apricots, pickles, tomatoes, pretty much anything with an acidity greater than beer.
Once I get a garden, or perhaps if I get some fruits and veggies from the local u-pick farm, I might try some canning.

Check out the link in my Nota Bene, and for the article on canning, click here.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Culture in a Petri Dish

Jeremiah is known as the 'weeping prophet,' and even referred to as a whiner sometimes. People at work, where we proofread Bibles, skip over Jeremiah and Lamentations on the sign-out sheet because 'he's so depressing.' He's constantly crying out over his people's destruction, calling for them to turn back to the Lord, interceding with tears before the Lord.

I like reading Jeremiah. It makes me think. A lot. Israel had turned its back on God and followed after worthless gods. Today, people in the 'church' like to say 'America has turned its back on God! They kill babies and worship sex and use foul language!'

Well, first of all, America never was God's chosen nation. There were several Christian principles upon which the country's laws were roughly based. But it was not a theocracy. There were many Christians among those who made up the young new country. There were also many people of varying degrees and types of faith. (Thomas Jefferson wrote his own selective version of the Bible!) If our country's culture has become increasingly degraded (which I believe is a false perception), but if true, perhaps it is because the church has become increasingly detached, irrelevant, and defensive, rather than lovingly engaged, current to God's kingdom plan, and confident in our God's holy love.

We should be transcendently concerned with fixing the health of our churches and families and not with fixing our culture.

Culture, that elusive term, is not so bad in and of itself. Culture is people. And aren't people, the people around us, in our culture, the ones Jesus calls our neighbors? The liberals, the conservatives, the gays, the bigots, the rich, the poor. Christianity, after all, is not independent of its culture. God uses the culture to grow and challenge His church. And he uses healthy, growing Christians to spread life into the culture. The difference is we live blamelessly within our culture, not disdainfully apart from, or even indifferent to, our culture.

Jesus came into His culture and surrounded Himself with the least religious people, and if they let Him, He changed their lives. If America has 'turned its back on God,' it is because the church has turned its back on God's way of touching the world and changing lives.

For more thoughts on what God's way might be like, pick up Blue Like Jazz or Searching for God Knows What. Excellent thoughts, great writing!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sticky Thoughts

If it's been forever since I've written here, it's not for lack of things going on. I do keep relatively busy with 2 jobs, youth group, friends, church stuff. But I never thought I was extraordinarily busy.

Suddenly aware of tension headaches and a constant stiff neck, I realized, This isn't normal. A kind friend gave me a neck and shoulder massage at work and asked me if I was stressed out about something. I thought, I have nothing to be stressed about--I'm not that busy. But why would my body be reacting like this?

Then I realized: It seemed for a while that I was not so much busy doing things, as busy thinking about and planning things. I realized I had so much on my mind, afraid if I let anything go I would forget about it and it would catch me unready, unprepared. So after my massage, being the tactile person that I am, I got out my pad of mini sticky notes at work and wrote down each thought like shot rattling around in my mind on individual stickys. I covered my desk with them. Then I grouped them into categories. I had the essentials: get to work on time, work out, etc. Then the urgent things: helping plan a baby shower for a friend, checking the next step to apply to grad school, etc. Then the important, but not urgent things. Then of course, those things I realized I was spending energy thinking/planning/dare-I-say-worrying about over which I have no control, or which I have no obligation or commitment to keep. Like this blog, for instance.

I would get stressed out because I hadn't checked my email recently, or because I hadn't looked something up that had piqued my interest, or because I hadn't updated my facebook status lately. I know it sounds so silly, but for some reason, when I start something for my free-time, down-time, de-tox time, I feel like I have to do it. Like it becomes another appointment on my schedule. Bad habit to get into!

So, that was a couple weeks ago. Over Memorial weekend, Andrew and I took a trip up to the mountains to stay in a cabin overlooking a valley and ridges beyond. That was just the kind of relaxation I needed. No agenda, wake up with the sun, read all morning, forget about technology, and just soak up the quiet. Beautiful. We did some fun things, like walk around the Arts in the Park Festival in Blue Ridge, go to a double feature at one of 5 drive-in movie theaters in Georgia, and eat at a riverside restaurant tucked in the winding valley of the Toccoa River. By the way, we saw Indiana Jones and Ironman, both of which were enjoyably good.

So if you're ever stressed out and don't know why, get out a pad of sticky notes and just write what's on your mind, whatever you can come up with; it might surprise you how much you have weighing on your shoulders.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I want to write a paper and I'm not even in school!

Andrew and I just watched Cast Away on TV after seeing it last when it came out in 2000. I could almost write a paper on that movie. There's so many discussion points just below the surface. For instance, Chuck (Tom Hanks' character) was obsessed with keeping time: "We live and we die by time. And we must not commit the sin of losing our track on time." Then he was forced to spend four years on an island, with nothing he could control but his form of death. And even that didn't work out. When he returned to America, I bet he had a different idea of the word "hurry."

Then there's the psychology of human survival. No matter what the adversity, those who survive keep an almost iconic focus on something or someone that creates consistency and purpose. Chuck's icons-- his pocket watch with his girlfriend Kelly's picture, his island friend "Wilson", and the angel wings on a Fed-Ex package that washes up on shore-- create a continuum of comfort that occupies Chuck's energy and gives him an outlet for despair, hope, loneliness, and fear. They give him a project to do, to keep him going.

If I did write a paper on this movie, I would love to study the connections between what was going on at the turn of the millennium and how that might have colored the meanings of the movie, too. I would also love to study loss and survival.

I want to watch it again now. I love movies! Andrew asked me why I liked to watch movies so much, and I said, "I think it's because I can enter someone else's world and experiences and see what it might be like and apply that to my own life. And I like to see how other storytellers do their thing." With movies, you've got the writers telling a story, the directors telling a story, the actors telling a story, and the editors telling a story. When it comes together well, it's like a symphony, and I think it's fantastic!

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Thin Silence

This poem was inspired by a reading of 1 Kings 19:12 where God appears to Elijah on a mountain, wrapped in a "thin silence." It's also inspired by the classical and medieval view of the celestial spheres, which C.S. Lewis alludes to allegorically in his space trilogy, especially Out of the Silent Planet.

before the world began,
and ever since,
there is this thin silence.

hovering, it hums with harmony

this world existed within
sang out as part of
that thin silence

until it was muffled,
stopped up,
encapsulated from the song.

now the silence is broad and deafening.

a sound-proof booth
traps us in
waking death

there is no harmony
there is no melody

this world can't even hear itself.

from time to time
slivers of that warm song,
like a blade of grass that catches the wind,
slice through and pierce the silence
in a few searching souls

reminding us we were meant to sing along

copyright 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sheep Feedings

"Beware of counterfeiting the love of God by working along the line of natural human sympathy, because that will end in blaspheming the love of God."

Jesus, after his resurrection, asked his disciple Peter the same question three times (John 21:15-17): "Do you love me?" Each time Peter said, "Yes, Lord, you know I love you." Jesus' three-time reply, "Then feed my sheep." Like Peter's triptych of questioning, we are to be sure we love Jesus, then show it by spending that love on everyone else--especially "the least" of people. But if we spend love from our own human sympathy, claiming to be in the name of Jesus, we will soon be worn out, and God's love will be perceived as wearing out. But when our heart is fixed on Jesus, our spending is never exhausted because our love for Him is reflected back to us in perfect Love. That perfect love is what can't help but spill over onto even the most "unlovable."

Who do I have trouble loving? Fundamentalist Christians. Confrontational Christians. Bad drivers. Christians who make politics their religion. Rich people who think they're still "owed" something. It's easy for me to dismiss and avoid, or even slander, these people. But God wants me to love them as even He has compassion on them.

Also, when I start volunteering at the pregnancy resource center, I'm going to be tempted to love people out of my own sympathies. That's bound to wear out or come and go. But if I enter that building with love for my Savior filling my heart, I will be fixed on and filled by Him to help feed His sheep.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

why do I believe?

Something just occurred to me, something simple that I never thought of before. I was stretching, looking out the window at the clear, crisp, sunny morning, and I saw the two LDS guys that live in the apartment complex. They were all dressed up in their black suits, throwing their trash in the dumpster before driving off on their mission. And I thought, what would I say if I got a chance to sit down and talk with them? They look fairly young--20 something--and I wondered if they grew up Mormon or if they converted. Their methods seem so outdated to me--wearing suits and ties, going door to door trying to convert people. I admit, I don't understand much about Latter Day Saints. Then I thought I would ask them, "Why did you choose to be a Mormon?" or "What made you choose...?"

Then it struck me: Why did I choose to become a Christian? We usually ask people those questions if they have "converted" from something else. But I think it's an essential question that each person should answer regarding their religious/spiritual views. The last thing this world needs are Christians who just are because they grew up in the church. At some point in the late teens to mid-twenties, the lifelong Christian should be able to look at their faith and their life and give an answer to their choice. I'm not talking about proof here, because you can't prove faith and still be able to call it "faith." Belief in something is at the very core of humanity, and that core is without substance if a person can't explain why they believe.

I chose to be a Christian because I've seen and felt the transformative power of Jesus' love and redemption in my life. He has chosen me--to use me to give His love and words to people around me. I don't want to be the person I could be without His Holy Spirit inside me. That's why I believe.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Be a good little leaf

The leaves are budding on the trees in front of me. I wonder if they've captured enough energy from the sun to endure the cold this coming weekend. It rained this morning, so the wood is darkened, black branches in deep contrast with the naive little leaves. Baby buds, their whole life ahead of them, were thrust into the world by the labor of mother nature. They are inexperienced. They are still bright and clean. At least they have each other to weather the coming months together until winter claims every last one. But they also have the roots to nourish them. The roots are ages older than they. Maybe the tree in its wisdom has warned these newbies what to expect. I'm sure it tells them about storms, the risk of lightning. About drought, and starving. Probably they know about the insects already. Some that help. Some that hinder.

Maybe the leaves are so bright because this is their moment to shine. These are glamour days, then the testing begins. Finally, in their golden years, they give another show. After trials make them hearty, they can show off the beauty of wisdom in their life's final act.

So, it's not so bad to be a little leaf. Green and full of energy, their glory is yet ahead of them.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

So Long. . .No Time

February was one of those months that went by in a blur. It even had an extra day, but that didn't help. I haven't actually just sat down at the computer to "play" in a few weeks. But here's a rundown of what I've been up to lately. . .

Mid-February was a trip to Orlando for the Chick-fil-A seminar. It was wonderful! "Great Leaders Serve." It's like a business seminar that doubles as a discipleship conference. Not to mention that the first night we got to worship with Chris Tomlin and listen to Louie Giglio.

I received my first issue of a new magazine called "ReadyMade." It's even better than I could have imagined when I ordered it! Right up my alley. Now I just need a sewing room, a wood shop, a garden, and a house. . .

If you don't read any other book this year, read "How We Love," by Kay and Milan Yerkovich. It's family and relationship psychology with Christian reinforcement. I am learning so much about myself and how I react based on years of learning to deal with my emotions in a certain way. I think everybody could benefit from reading this book, whether you are a high-schooler, single, married, no-children, raising children, empty-nesters... It's good for everybody! It shows you how to heal.

The prospect of going back to school for a Masters in Fine Arts is becoming more realistic in my mind. Next up is registering for and taking the GRE test and moving forward to the application. The goal: Creative Writing candidate in Fall of 2009!

The latest news, poor Dawsie has a UTI. For those of you who don't care to know more about my cat's medical issues, please skip to the next paragraph. For those of you with insatiable biological curiosity (like myself), he, shall we say, turned the litter pink after he was done going potty. And he was acting weird going in places he shouldn't. So I took him to the vet today and got him some antibiotics for his infected urinary tract. Poor baby.

OK, that's all for now. I can hardly keep my eyes open.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Groundhog Day

It's great weather for a road trip, but will I be going on one? Well, I was going to go here with the youth group, but it got cancelled. :( It's beautiful, sunny, mid-60's; birds are singing like it's spring. It's also Groundhog Day today. Apparently, General Beauregard Lee, the Atlanta groundhog, didn't see his shadow whenever he came out today, so we'll have an early spring.

Generations from now, children will ask their parents, "You mean they actually believed a groundhog could predict the end of winter? Wow, they were primitive."

Of course, we don't really believe it, or at least no more than we believe our fortune cookies from Hot Wok. We dismiss it when it turns out to be inaccurate, but we marvel at the wondrous mystery when it does turn out right. A part of each of us chooses to pretend to believe, like we choose to pretend Santa is real, even when we "know" it's not true. I think all humanity is hot-wired to need something beyond "science," beyond "logic," to believe in. Something bigger than what we think we can control. I'm not really talking about religion here, at least not in the sense that people choose to believe something they know isn't true. But it does come back to religion in a way. All our silly superstitions, all our make-believe, show that we were designed to know there's something more. If there wasn't Something More, we wouldn't be able to imagine it. We're, every one of us, searching to know God, whether we realize it or not.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snow in Georgia!

I'm so excited--it's snowing!! Earlier this week, Wednesday night, it snowed a bit, but it was gone Thursday morning. It started snowing this morning, and it's already accumulated more than it did on Wednesday. It's so pretty! I love snow. Especially with all the pine trees and bushes around here, it lays on the branches in clean contrast with the dark green leaves beneath it. I even love how it falls through the air. It's not in a hurry, just drifts its way to the ground. This is the first time I've seen snow in Georgia so it's a big deal to me. That's one thing I missed about living in the north. Here's a video from our apartment looking out at the snow. Yes it's only a parking lot, but it's a beautiful parking lot with snow on it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Now Taking Donations

Imagine a slice of history preserved for 150 years, surrounded by pastoral fields and trees, and closer to both of our jobs. Imagine heart of pine floors, 5 fireplaces, a room with a full wall built-in bookshelf, floor-to-ceiling pane glass windows, walk-in closets, 4 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, and a little red barn, all on 5 acres. Imagine quiet mornings reading next to the window with birds chirping in the grassy field outside. Imagine winning the lottery. Well, that's what would have to happen for the rest to be a part of my life.

I've found my "dream home." Andrew has driven by it on his way to work for 2 1/2 years now, I've admired it on the way to hockey games, and a couple months ago it went on the market. I hunted it down online, and fell in love with it even more. I've always loved old homes and always wanted to live in an old home. Think about it--this house pre-dates the Civil War by a decade and survived Sherman's trek through Atlanta. It's seen the abolition of slavery, the invention of the automobile, in-house electricity, TV, who knows what stories it could tell! An old house is usually rich for the imagination. Muses hide in its walls, closets, and floors.

As tantalizing as it is for my creative side, reality never let her claws out of my mind. Never mind that the down payment on this house would be almost as much as Andrew and I had hoped to spend on the full price of a house! Never mind that monthly mortgage payments would be almost 5 times what we pay now in rent. Sure we could make it happen! Yeah, right. Maybe it will be my mansion in heaven. At least I can look at the pictures and dream.