Thursday, December 31, 2009

Keep the Crafting Alive!

For Christmas, I gave Kristen Amanda Soule's book, The Handmade Home (see her blog HERE). In it, I wrote something semi-inspiring :) and cheesy sentimental that ended with the charge,"keep the crafting alive!" We now loosely use the phrase half serious half joking whenever we find new projects we'd like to do. I love that we enjoy "making."

I was the lucky member of the family to receive the most handmade's this Christmas. I got a beautiful wooden recipe box made by Jay and an absolutely gorgeous blue knit scarf from Kristen. I LOVE it. It's from a pattern that I had wanted to learn but it was a little too difficult for my level of experience. Anyway, she surprised me and made it! She also knit and felted some toy balls for Sam. They came from a pattern on the SouleMama blog (see above)--this blog is always full of beautiful and inspiring ideas/projects.

I knit a hat this break and I am currently working on SOCKS! That's right, I have a beginner pattern and wonderful yarn (compliments of Grandma). Kristen is making the same ones (Oh, Sister!). I like how they are coming along, even if there are several mistakes already. I'm learning! It's exciting. I love's good for the soul :) I am determined to work in more projects and creations this semester...stress relievers.

(unfortunately I don't have any pictures of my own creations. sometime soon i'll try to get a few up...)
Oh, I almost forgot, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I'm spending my New Year's Eve sitting here with snow blowing around outside, some tea, my knitting project, and some articles I'm reading through. I might even try to write a letter or two. wonderful.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

shorter days=winter

spending a week of winter break in arizona followed by a week in upper michigan is...different. i kind of like it. this break has gone fast. I can hardly believe i'll be back in chicago on sunday. i know i'll still have a week before classes start but i'll be back in the city and working, which will be a little hard. i've so enjoyed this time away. i always appreciate stepping back and away from a semester. up here in the u.p., especially, i've been able to rest and think and be. It's lovely. I've been knitting a lot more--I made a hat (in two days!) and am now tackling socks! I've found that it is a lot "easier" than I thought, once I get help reading the pattern. there's nothing like knitting with a cup of tea when the world is white and beautiful right out the window. I love this house. there are so many good memories here. I find myself missing papa at unexpected moments.

this morning kristen and i had breakfast together at the suomi cafe. she commented on how "story-bookish" it can feel up here. I wholeheartedly agree. (have i mentioned how nice it has been to be away from the big city?!). It's great to spend time with Grandma and Matt, Jay and Kristen, Mom and Dad....and, of course, little Sam.

we went to evangel for church on sunday and enjoyed seeing some old familiar faces. It's always good to catch up with people here.

being an aunt is the best. when it comes to cuddling, playing, "walking" around the house, playing with toys, or spoiling lunch with teddy grahams, there's no one better to do it all with than sam :) he's the absolute cutest. i can't believe there's another one on the way! seriously, aunthood is amazing.

Arizona already seems like a world away. It is, really. No more warm winter days and beautiful sunsets up here! The time home was good. I really like mom and dad's new house and it wasn't as weird as i thought going "home" to a different place. I got to spend a lot of good time with friends--and good time with family. Luke and I went climbing on Christmas eve and i climbed my first 5.8! It's the hardest scale I've ever done which is kind of remarkable considering how out of shape I am. I was shaking so much and my muscles were going nutso. Luke was very patient with took me a long time to get past the first part :) i wish there were rocks in chicago...oh man.
I hope you all are enjoying these days as much as I am!

Friday, December 25, 2009

i learn from you. you learn from me. together, we grow up.

I always feel reflective at Christmas time. I don’t know why this is, exactly, but I think (at least in recent years) it has to do with the fact that I come home from break to a room that is “mine” but that hasn’t quite caught up to the Andrea who is now. Does this make sense? Inevitably, I find myself spending an afternoon fingering through old journals, photographs, and letters. Today was such an afternoon. The house has been quiet—mom, dad, and Luke took naps for awhile while I stayed in my room organizing and packing. “My room” in the new house isn’t really mine. The Andrea who grew up here (actually, in the old house would be more accurate) is contained in boxes and crates that are now stacked in the closet. Of course, I started un-taping the boxes so I could do some remembering. I found my old journals. I was lost in their pages for awhile…

Two years ago at this same time I was doing some similar acts of recollection and reflection. After a skype date with Michelle, I took her advice and spent some time thinking about the past year before the new one crept in and I was swallowed by a fresh school year (that would have been spring semester 2008, shortly after my return from Africa).

The remarkable thing about Christmas is that it demands a slower pace—space to stop (at least it ought to). I’ve been doing some thinking about the Christ-child come down to a world in need of love and direction; to relationships in need of healing (above all, to restore humankind’s relationship with God); to a future in need of hope. Last night, at one o’clock in the morning, my brother and I lay in our beds (it’s our Christmas eve tradition to sleep in the same room), awake in my dark little bedroom. We talked. We talked about life; about truth; about learning and growing; about family; about friends; about the future. And I thought about the people we live with on this earth—friends, family, strangers…whoever. We are always impacted by people—by relationship. I praise my God for relationships that have turned me upward and moved me onward, toward a home that is lasting and a love that is sure. As you might guess, when I read those pages of my dusty old journal, I praised. I want to share a portion I wrote about “people that changed me” because I have been thinking similar thoughts here, in 2009 (almost 2010)—thoughts about the power and gift of relationship, redeemed and provided by the One Who Is…

“God used so many people in my life this passed year [the year is 2007]. Family and friends that supported so many different decisions and steps of faith! I’m grateful to Mom and Dad for their prayer and patience, as they believed in me and for me—both at Moody and in Africa. At Moody so many incredible people shaped me—the girls on my hall, guys on the brother floor…key people in particular.
Michelle taught me to be vulnerable and open up—to share the “deep things.” She challenged me to be honest before God—an area of my life that has grown so much.
Melissa challenged me to learn about having real faith—lived not for others but for a watching God. She taught me what love is all about and what it means to have faith, patience, and hope in people. She taught me a lot about friendship and living in community—the importance of prayer, fellowship with God, and reading His Word.
Wendy encouraged me to be myself; saint, sinner, and all. She reminded me of both the beauty and the offense of the Gospel, and the necessity of both. She taught me to maintain an excitement for the things of God and to develop an authentic faith, rooted in truth but uniquely mine.
Zach taught me a lot about compassion and being heartsick for the world. He challenged me to think outside of myself—asking for God’s love and heart for a hurting world. He helped keep me “globally aware.” He showed me how to think big and ask good questions; to apply Scripture to my life by delving deeper. He challenged me in personal faith: hearing God, listening, and obeying.
So many faces and figures in Africa played a huge role in my life: shaping, poking, and prodding…
Hallie and Hannah, were “rock-friends” who believed in me, were excited for me, loved and encouraged me. They challenged me by asking questions of me—listening to stories and memories, wanting to hear, dreaming with me, sharing in life. They shared life on a deeper level by sharing their hearts and growing our friendship. They are loyal friends, eager to live and love. God, for all these people I am extremely grateful. I love them so much. I am honored by their friendships.”

That was two years ago and I am blessed to say that I still consider it a privilege to know these dear friends. I am even more honored by their friendships and the role they have each played in my life. I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on this past year. Who, this year, has moved your life, challenged your thinking, and “pilgrimmed” with you? I have yet to sit down and journal names and influence for this year but already I think of many...mariah, sarah, lacy, zach, kira, whitney, mark, hannah, hallie, and others...the list grows. not only friends and peers but now professors, teachers, siblings (i.e. sister!), etc.

What a gift people are.

Tomorrow I fly up north with mom and dad. I have loved spending time this break catching up and just BEING with Hannah, Mark, Kyle, Allie, Eric, and Isaac…and then, of course, Luker and mom and dad :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

awaiting the One long hoped for

The night was dark and cool. A group of shepherds was gathered in the fields just outside of town, huddled around small fires, surrounded by drowsy flocks. It had been a long day. Thoughts wandered home—how wonderful it would be to lie down in a bed, eat a hot dinner. But home would have to wait…

“Joseph?” He looked at her through the dim shadows and found his own exhaustion reflected in her tired eyes. He took her sweaty hand in his. “I’m here.” He felt her body tense as the contractions started again. Her grip tightened. How much longer? he wondered to himself. He brushed the hair from her face and found a rag to wipe her forehead. Amazed by her beautiful strength and swelling with admiration, he took both of her hands in his. It must be soon.

The hum of soft snoring drifted across the fields. A few of the shepherds slept while the others watched the flocks. The night grew colder. One of the older men seated by the fire pulled his wool blanket closer around his shoulders. Never mind, he thought, I’ll be warmer if I move around. Shifting his weight away from the fire, he stood to leave. Suddenly the air grew thick and warm. It seemed as if everything was fire.

Soft gasping filled the air followed by an infant cry. Mary’s body relaxed with relief. Joseph watched as she took the child in her limp arms—her eyes were swollen but serene. He touched the child’s head, struggling to hold back hot tears. She kissed the baby’s nose and fingered his little hand. Mary and Joseph, momentarily wearied but forever changed, exchanged quiet smiles. Their eyes met—we have just witnessed a miracle. This is the child for the world. It was not long before Mary and the child lay sleeping. Joseph went outside to sit under the stars. He remained there, captivated by their brilliance.

The sky was awash with vibrant color. What is this bright light? Several of the men were shouting but nothing could be understood. The light dimmed enough to reveal a figure in the sky. The being had an incredible presence that they all felt—even the ground began to grow warm. “Do not be afraid of me,” it said, its words filling the air with light, “I have come to tell you something wonderful, something that will bring joy to you and to all people. Today in the city of David a child has been born for you. He is your Savior, Christ the Lord. This is how you will know that it is he: go to Bethlehem and look for a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” The brilliance intensified and the whole sky filled with angels. Some were singing and some shouting, all praising God saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!” As quickly as they had appeared, they were gone. The night was dark again. The cool chill of the evening sent shivers around the group. For an instant they just stood in stunned amazement. Then, as if awakening from a stupor, the fields came alive as they rushed to gather their belongings.

The site of shadowy figures hurrying towards him interrupted Joseph’s thoughts. He tried to make out who they were. They soon stood before him, breathless, faces full of questions. He offered a confused and tired smile. Taking initiative, one of the old shepherds stepped forward and stammered, "We have heard the news. We've come to see the child, the hope of the world—the Savior." Before motioning them in to see the baby, Joseph closed his eyes, momentarily overwhelmed with wonder as a fresh realization of who this child was washed over him...The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, "God with us."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

rethinking some things

and rereading some of the semester's journaling. in doing so, came across this prayer i prayed on august 10, 2009. i find that it echoes the prayers of my heart here, now.

in least expected ways
you interrupt
you interrupt our worn out dreams
you provide refreshed excitement
in least expected ways
you interrupt
you show us new things to consider
-give us new dreams to dream
in least expected ways
you interrupt
you have provided
in least expected ways,
please interrupt.

these days at home are good. they are full and busy and i have not slept much. but i am enjoying my family and my friends to, i am convinced, the fullest :) and i look forward to quiet days in upper michigan in a few days.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

tonight i'm grateful...

...for friends who say things to which my heart says, "yes, I feel that, too," and we can understand moments of life together.

what did she say? she said, "it's not an effortless trust to know that the hard things are also the good things when I am in the midst of them." I say, "that's so very true...and, God, help me to trust you deeper."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Reading

So, I'm taking advantage of Christmas break to get a jump start on some stuff for next semester--internship, directed studies, etc. I haven't been so excited about a break reading list in a looong time :) Check out these titles! Most of them (actually, all) have been ordered on Amazon (i got some GREAT deals!) and are being shipped home or to grandmas. I'll be coming back to school with a new mini library. I'm eager for what kind of learning next semester will bring. This semester was a little rough academically because many of my classes were just "to get them done" and fill the requirements. I so much prefer to take classes that i can engage with and grow eager over. Next semester offers several of those--including TWO directed studies. Somewhere along the lines I miscounted my Bible electives and need another. So I'm adding another directed study with Dr. Schmutzer on A Biblical Theology of Sin. It goes without saying that I am so very excited about this. Also, the directed study with Dr. Peterman is filled out and submitted--A Study of Jesus' Healing Ministry.

In case any of you are wondering what to read over break, here are a few titles that might catch your interest.

Bartov, Omer and Phyllis Mack. In God’s Name: Genocide and Religion in the 21st Century. New York: Berghahn, 2001.

Biddle, Mark E. Missing the Mark: Sin and its Consequences in Biblical Theology. Nashville: Abingdon, 2005.

Brown, Robert McAfee. Making Peace in the Global Village. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1981.

Goldingay, John. Walk On: Life, Loss, Trust, and Other Realities. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002.

Power, Samantha. A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. New york: Harper Collins, 2002.

Swinton, John. Raging with Compassion: Pastoral Responses to the Problem of Evil. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.

Monday, December 14, 2009


rosie thomas is wonderful. she's great listening for the wintertime (and for writing papers and studying for finals). currently listening to: "say hello."
new band discovery: first aid kit. check them out. there's a video on their myspace that shows them playing in a forest in the leaves. ah, so beautiful.

it's monday. i made it. i leave for arizona on friday. whew, this semester has been an interesting one. only one more left--that's a little weird to think about.

this weekend i thought a lot about...
1. regret or "wishing things could be different" and what these thoughts/emotions mean, how they're motivated, what their purpose is...
2. the faithfulness of God displayed in His gentleness (when he knows we need it). My how patient he is. I have been so frustrated with myself recently. It seems like I always have to learn things the hard way--or, at least, the long way--and when it's all over, I wonder why I couldn't have just understood it in the first place, because now I can't go back to the way things were when I "needed" to know what I know now. do you ever feel this way? I match his patience with my impatience. i find myself praying that He would teach me something of his long-suffering self.
3. learning to distinguish between God's in-planted hopes, dreams, and emotions vs. my own, self-motivated hopes, dreams, and emotions (and where, if at all, there is overlap).
4. how to wait. how do we wait on the Lord? there aren't any easy-to-follow manuals on "how to wait for the Lord." so we just wait. sigh. i think i suck at waiting.

I had a lovely surprise this weekend.
On saturday Lacy and i spent the day together--my early "birthday day" since a bday during finals week is inconvenient. We did some christmas shopping and then she took me to 3rd Coast for dinner. After, she blind folded me and took me into a taxi...when she finally uncovered my eyes we were at the Joffrey to see the Nutcracker!!! Oh my goodness. So much fun. I've never seen a ballet before. it was beautiful. Best birthday surprise :)
Gosh, I can't believe i turn 23 tomorrow. sometimes i feel old.

Friday, December 11, 2009

on dreaming about mothering (among other things), part II

This is something of a tribute to mom’s raising their kids in “a foreign land,” namely, America. There are three women who have made it into my life in the past two years who I feel privileged to know. Each one is beautifully unique and different, though, in common, they all call Iraq “home.” In thinking of how I ought to describe them to you, I can’t come up with anything that does justice…

Hind is a beautiful wife and mom of two rather adorable children. She is gentle and sweet and keeps a gorgeous home. Rasha is spunky and honest—also a young wife and mother of two (with a third on the way!). Asra is shy and true, always smiling, even if her eyes betray her fatigue. She is a mother of three. All three of these women are diligent and hospitable hostesses. They are extremely hard working—hoping and dreaming for their families’ futures. If I am half the mother/wife these women are, I think I will be happy.

I am a terrible English teacher. I can officially admit this openly. There is little I can do for a few short hours once a week that will significantly improve their English—this is frustrating. But I guess I can be a friend, and help what little I can. Charity and I are virtually their only company once a week on Friday afternoon. I do love being a friend to these remarkable women. Sometimes I feel like they do insurmountably more for me than what I do for them.

I’d like to take some courses on teaching ESL, maybe a summer session with Oxford Seminars? We’ll see. I’ve been talking with my parents some more about stateside refugee work. They’ve gotten more involved in Tucson’s refugee community. It’s neat to see. Dad has been helping some of the men and women start home businesses (furniture making, crafts, upholstery). Today on the drive home from PCM (our weekly “teaching” of Rasha and Asra) I just cried. I kind of just “let God have it.” Not that I was angry with Him, but I don’t know who else to get frustrated about this with (I did end up calling mom). I love this family so much and all I want to do is see them succeed. I want to see them begin to enjoy life here. I want to see them find jobs, get the kids in the right schools, understand English enough so that they feel they can go out and be a part of the world outside the walls of that house.

There is a refugee ministry in Tucson that seeks to find families, churches, or small groups that will “adopt” refugee families. I’ve been thinking about this more myself—how much I want to adopt a family(/ies). More and more God gives me a love for people that wants to open a home to them—give my life to them. How much can “home and hospitality” be a ministry (?!), because sometimes I think I would be so pleased and content to work with the Lord in this way. How incredible to work teaching English, sharing home, watching kids (while the moms get out into the communities to learn, grow, and practice language learning), instructing home business skills (or simply finding outlets for already existing ones!). The world’s population of displaced is growing and so is my desire to see these families and communities succeed (on this side of the ocean and on the other—the needs are both the same and entirely different).

There is so much I wish I could talk to these women about. I want to talk faith and love; share life’s delights and frustrations; learn together; teach each other…We are able to do this to some extent, of course, but I mean carry on good, strong, deep conversations. I’m starting to pray that some way, some how, I will have access to a car next year so that I can keep up with them (you can pray, too!). Or maybe I’ll have to scout out the obscure public transit possibilities for getting to that side of town. Sigh. Life is beautiful, yeah? This world is full of so many different people, leading different kinds of lives…but really; we’re all the same, living the same kind of life. Hmph. In moments like this I sort of feel God smiling because of us.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


writing is, for me, therapeutic. i just write. it's kind of like breathing--it just "happens." i learn a lot from my writing. i can talk to myself, hear myself, see myself. i learn a lot from God through my writing. i watch Him move, see his presence, meet with him in secret places that only he and i can occupy.
sometimes i know i need (or want) to "get something out" but can't--there's no way of articulating it. Or, sometimes I do articulate it but i know soon after it's out that it isn't right...what i was, at that particular moment, thinking, feeling, or wanting to get out, didn't actually make it out. this might sound like nonsense unless you, too, like to write.
anyway, i recalled the post i wrote several hours ago before work. I had, at that time, several minutes and wanted to try to "articulate" something of what's growing in my soul these days. but it wasn't quite right--and i knew it as soon as i read this section of a book i'm reading by Henri Nouwen (it's called "Reaching Out"). This is what my soul's been thinking. Don't you appreciate when you read in a book or hear in a song words to which your soul responds, "yeah, that's what i'm thinking and feeling." This was articulated well, so here's how Nouwen puts it:

"During our life we become more aware not only of our crying loneliness but also of our real desire for a solitude of the heart; we come to the painful realization not only of our cruel hostilities but also of our hope to receive our fellow humans with unconditional hospitality; and underneath all of this we discover not only the endless illusions which make us act as if we are masters of our fate but also the precarious gift of prayer hidden in the depth of our innermost self."

this semester has been a time of learning of self--facing some real ugliness; sorrowing over recognized sinfulness; grappling with some weak and dangerous "tendencies" or "habits." it has also been a time of learning to love--love others, near or distant; love self through sin and brokenness; love God, the Seeing One who seems to heal by his seeing. this has been a semester of learning how to live--good times and bad times; hard times and easy times; in the comfortable and the uncomfortable. this has been a semester of learning to pray--finding out that prayer is a little different than i thought.

sometimes i think we live waiting for life to "happen" to us. we are waiting until we're qualified, prepared, ready; until we know, believe; until we're better, stronger, smarter. Life isn't going to happen to you--you're living it. This is it. right now, at 7:28pm in a little chicago apartment I am sitting at this desk typing and this is life. and i don't know when it will be over. i am so glad to live this life. i'm glad to delight in little and big things; and experience, also, the pain of little and big things.

this semester has taught me some things about how to live life--what I want my life to look like; how i want to live my days; how i prioritize my time; how i dream my dreams and pray my prayers; how i live in community with others; how i'm honest (or not); how I love (or don't); how I live before God; how he's patient with us; how i'm so impatient with myself and even more so with other people...things in mystery and things revealed; things clouded in darkness and things uncovered by light.

a few days ago i prayed that God would bring me into the light again and again so that i'd be exposed--only please, please be near me as i witness what the darkness has been hiding.

we are people becoming. life is happening. we are living it. it is beautiful. it is hard. God is near. and distant. close. and far.
He is a good God not to leave us to our own ways. i just did some work on the passage in 1 Samuel 2(:1-10), Hannah's song, recognizing that God's sovereignty is reason for a rebirth of hope. He is the one who reverses fortunes. I love reading the Old Testament narratives because I get to witness God at work in story--in lives--and i am comforted because mine is a story, and he works in this life, too. He is a God that journeys with and has given us His word, that also journeys with us. remarkable.

i know this has been a long post. what else is new. you know i like to write so you should expect it by now, right? :)
thanks for reading. i suppose the truth is out, though, that i write more for me than for you. actually, i also do it for you--because i believe that i'm not the only one who thinks, feels, and wonders about these things. somewhere out there are others who are living this same journey--and i like that :)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

On dreaming about mothering (among other things), part I

This post has been long in coming. In an effort to get it out, I’ve decided to make it a series.

Almost every girl dreams about being a wife and mom. I’m turning 23 in a week, am I allowed to be dreaming more seriously about these things? Well, here’s the thing. Yes and no…? Sometimes dreams become “more” to us than they should be. Don’t get me wrong; I think there is incredible value in dreaming. It’s a wonderful gift. But not when we allow our own personal value to be based on the actualization of those dreams. The mile-markers of life (births, deaths, graduations, marriages, families, children) contribute to our forming—they shape who we are, and who we are becoming—but are not the ultimate measure of our worth.

There’s a lot to be said about living our “humanness” before God. This is an area of thought that has really impressed itself on me this semester. So much of the time we deconstruct the human race before God and before each other—fitting ourselves into categories of communities: “the singles,” “the married,” “the men,” “the women,” “the sick,” “the healthy,” “the abused,” etc. The thing is, these aren’t false categories (there are single people, married people, men, women, the sick, the healthy, the abused). They are, however, “second” categories. First and foremost, we are human; we are image-bearers (and, i might add, we are part of a larger community of image-bearers. think about the beauty of that!). Recognizing ourselves in these terms allows us to live with a certain sense of solidarity. Scripture is rich in its recognition of humankind as the created of God—infused with his image; granted the possibility of his indwelling spirit.

What does this have to do with “mothering?” Well, I doubt it comes as a surprise that I want (badly) to be a wife and mom. At times the desire even seems unbearable. For most of us in our twenty-somethings, these desires are real and growing. But I just want to remind us that the actualization of some of these dreams isn’t the “end goal” or ultimate measure of our worth. And for those of you who are wives, moms, husbands, and fathers, there is a deeper measure of your value than how you fit in these categories. Although these positions are important and God-given, they are added to the already present reality of your significance as image-bearers of Almighty God.

I hope we learn to live before God as image-bearers—learning, too, to see each other as image-bearers. This will inform our love for one another and booster our desire to serve and honor one another. I know that I have had to learn some of these things in difficult ways this semester. God has had to humble me a lot, cleanse me of some pretty ugly pride, and strip me of a few unhealthy dreams. The remarkable thing is that He is faithful to replace what he takes away from and out of us. When we have grown used to gripping our idols and our lesser loves, their absence leaves us deeply wanting. But He fills those voids with unexpected pieces of Himself—new understandings, greater depths of love; bolstered faith; brighter revelation; quiet contentment; and, sometimes most beautifully, refreshed dreams.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

a little msg...does the body good?

when you've been hacking up your lungs for going on three weeks (like i have) and you feel drowsy, stuffed up, and cold, i have an idea: enjoy some old-time chicken flavored ramen. seriously. the sodium levels will brighten your taste buds, even if the msg might kill you in the end :) i kid.
sort of.
but really, i've had enough green things in the past week to aid in the battle "keep andrea alive through finals" (brussels sprouts, spinach, bell peppers, and asparagus among them) such that i thought a splash of good ol' ramen would cheer my spirits. it worked. obviously. funny how a food brings back a million memories too, eh? I haven't had ramen in ages.

ok. enough.
so, you know how i haven't really enjoyed my Church Planting class all that much? Ok, not really at all...
well, i think the whole semester *might* have been worth it for the final paper i get to write. yes, i am bogged down in a whole mess of assignments but this paper has turned into something rather exciting...
I'm writing on church renewal as a (perhaps) better solution than "plant a new church while the old one goes under." the body of the paper is "a vision for church renewal" in which i hope to touch on some important elements such as: the church's people as exiles, pilgrims, and postmoderns; renewing the use of scripture (liturgy, lament, and imagination); renewing the use of counseling (lay counseling and the integration of biblical theology and psychology); renewing community (through scripture, counseling, and living a biblical theology). I recognize this as huge and sweeping and, as such, unable to go super in depth. but i feel like in some of the other papers i've written for various classes i already have gone more in depth on particular elements herein. so it seems "time" to compile things into something through which i can say "this is what I am thinking, seeing, and feeling--now what." we'll see where and how it goes. considering that (1) i don't have much time and (2) i have many other assignments to get done ambition for the paper might not find an end in the finished product.

i hope you are well in the midst of crazy end of the year school stuff or other life places!
oh, and i hope you are keeping healthy! drink down that emergen-C!!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

unexpected rest

I love getting to work early.

I love sitting in the stillness of the house, listening to the clocks tick. Today I sat on the couch and watched the snow fall on the back deck. It was the first snow of the year.

I walked from the train station down neighborhood streets listening to "Come Thou Long Expected Savior," overwhelmed with longing for the return of the Lord. There are moments in this life when it's almost unbearable. Suddenly and deeply you are gripped with that longing to know the world whole and healed. It's during this season--one of felt "expectation" and "anticipation"--that I am soberly aware of this unsettled longing. This isn't the place where my soul is at rest. No, there is a place and a time to come...and the waiting is almost impossible.

In simple moments, like sitting watching the snowflakes land, there is remarkable rest. it happens so suddenly and unexpectedly. "Unsettled" as I sometimes am in expectation of the Lord, He is gracious to grant glimpses of that glorious rest--to provide pieces of an eternal stillness that we crave in this fast-paced space. Maybe these are the "sign-posts" that C.S. Lewis writes about in Surprised By Joy--you know, the ones that point us upward and onward, for we are only passing through.

Today I was so thankful for a beautiful snow, a warm scarf, a hot cup of tea, and a cozy place to go home to. Don't let us take these things for granted, Lord. We are grateful in our plenty--keep us so.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

you will loosen things unseen

“The wreckage of history—a trail of shattered beauty, defiled goodness, twisted truths, streams of tears, rivers of blood, mountains of corpses—must somehow be mended. That the past must and will be redeemed is a conviction essential to the Christian notion of redemption.” -Miroslav Volf

you will turn your ear to me.
you will hear my cry for mercy.
you will loosen things unseen.
what can man do to me?
you will be my help in trouble.
you will be my place of refuge.
you will cut these bindings free.
what can man do to me?

i'll sing for joy in your place of rest
i'll sleep in peace resting on your chest
and your voice will sound like a thousand waters
your song will rush for ten thousand centuries
(Aaron Stumpel, "Centuries")

For the past two days i've been thinking about "Christian guilt." Something inside of you might be saying, "but we aren't guilty--set free from guilt in Christ, right?" Umm, I'm not so sure. It seems as though (in general) Christians are quick to escape responsibility for things. There are a million-and-one Christian-copouts, I'm sure you know a few. Keeping redemption in view, I am beginning to see the importance and real need of Christian admittance of guilt for committed (historical) atrocities. Right now what is in the forefront of my mind is the Holocaust and the Christian failure to stand up and speak/act in response to it. There was an obvious lack of Christian civil courage to stand up in the public sphere(s) against the evils being committed (some, even, in the name of God).
Elie Wiesel does not believe in collective guilty, but he does banner memory. Why? Because without it, generations will forget and become indifferent. Memory is a duty both to the dead and to the living. Ok, so what?
Well, the Manhattan Declaration has been mentioned a few times in class. Have you read it? Here's the link: Manhattan Dec.
Christians are rallying around this one. This isn't entirely bad, but it is somewhat concerning. Take a look at it. There are portions of the preamble that are a bit disconcerting...
"While fully acknowledging the imperfections and shortcomings of Christian institutions and communities in all ages, we claim the heritage of those Christians who defended innocent life by rescuing discarded babies from trash heaps in Roman cities and publicly denouncing the Empire’s sanctioning of infanticide." We acknowledge the shortcomings and claim the heritage. The document walks through a brief history of the "great heritage" of Christianity (and please, don't get me wrong, we do have many wonderful contributions and testimonies of good in our heritage. but let's be honest, we also have some incredible tragedies and terrific atrocities).
The last paragraph of the declaration before it begins to delineate the points is potentially very alarming:
"We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. It is our duty to proclaim the
Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty."
The part that is uncomfortable is the line "no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence..." What are "we" saying here? My professor for the class points out why this document is so disconcerting and, in essence, unhelpful--there is strong voice of defense with virtually no explanation of that defense; the document offers the good things done in the name of Christianity (specifically) without mentioning the burden of sin that is also on Christian history. To be honest to the world, there must be both. What would it look like for the Christian community to start remembering rightly and truthfully it's past--the good and the bad. What would it look like to begin to see collective confession and repentance? What would it mean to begin a public discourse of reconciliation...? I think it might do a lot more than documents of defense.
I am not saying that it is not good or right or necessary to defend faith and values. It most certainly is. But it seems that we often do so at the expense of admitting faults, too, and expressing true, humble, genuine remorse for things that have been done (and continue to be done) in the name of God.

This is a "beginning" line of thought so bear with me, hopefully it will develop over the next several weeks and you'll see another post or two. Right now thoughts are a little hope is to stir some thought and prayer in you.

“To remember something incorrectly is, in an important sense, not to remember at all—we do not remember to the precise extent that what we remember is incorrect.” Miroslav Volf

“…memory is a blessing: it created bonds rather than destroys them. Bonds between present and past, between individuals and groups. It is because I remember our common beginning that I move closer to my fellow human beings. It is because I refuse to forget that their future is as important as my own. What would the future of man be if it were devoid of memory?”
-Elie Wiesel

Sunday, November 29, 2009

taking a break

...from paper writing, that is. i'm working on my elie wiesel paper now--the holocaust and memory. good topic but i get brain blocks when writing papers i really care about and want to learn from. eh, it will get done. it's my only project for today.

i was going to go to trader joe's since i have little fresh food in the apartment but its been raining all day. walking 30 minutes in the rain doesn't sound like a good idea when i've been coughing all morning.

i'm feeling a little bummed about not being home for the "christmas decorating." not that i have been for the past several years...for some reason i really would love to this year. yesterday i walked by a christmas tree lot and suddenly really missed picking out the tree with mom and dad--mom and i caring; dad and luke really not. haha. those are some good memories.

i've decided to "remedy" this homesick-for-traditions feeling by listening to christmas music while writing my paper. i don't know if it is helping or making me miss home more. current favorites: "come thou long expected Jesus," "o holy night," "o come, o come, emmanuel," "once in royal david's city." sung by such artists as sufjan, griffin house, over the rhine, derek webb, and others, i'd say this playlist is pretty darn good.

didn't go to church this morning. instead listened to a matt chandler sermon on "the art of remembrance." i thought it would push me into my paper writing. there's so much that surrounds this issue of memory/remembrance. it's very intriguing to me.

want to see some recent pictures of Sam? here are some from thanksgiving...i wasn't with them but kristen sent some pictures.
Becky (Jay's mom) gave Sam his christmas present early so she could be there to watch the assembly:

cute families! this is Jay's sister and husband...and sam's little cousin zavier.

i spent thanksgiving with melissa and her family in the suburbs. it was really wonderful to take a breather from school. i love her family more than i can tell. they are amazing. her dad is just wonderful. anyway, mel and i spent good time together and even got some homework done :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

what my heart is missing

watch this: amadou et mariam
(not that i was here exactly but you get the idea...similarities in sights and sounds)

sometimes i "forget" that i spent 6 months in a place so rich and beautiful. only because it's worlds away from me here. lately i've been thinking about it more...praying that God would so engage my heart with the world again while i remain here for awhile--at least some refreshed passion and vision. we ought never grow dull to the world. and i don't ever want to forget what that experience contributed to who i am becoming.

anyway. enough of the nostalgia, eh? back to the paper-writing!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

back again.

my back has been hurting more than usual this semester. i can't decide if it is stress or if something is "wrong" again.
it's been about 5 years since i've been out of the back brace. sometimes i can't believe it's been that long--that time was so "traumatic" to live through but now its such a part of the past. weird how that works, isn't it? anyway, i have an appointment and x-rays at Christmas. so if you think of it, i'd appreciate prayer. I'm not too worried because if surgery were needed i think i would feel it more. but you never know. sometimes i let my worries wander and i kind of get nervous. just be praying that A. things will be fine B. if anything isn't fine, it will be minor and i can just do exercises or something to remedy it.

anyhow, i appreciate prayer. thanks guys!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

there is little else as wonderful as being an aunt

i think i have the cutest nephew ever. and another nephew/niece on the way--check out the cute baby belly!! :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

food for thought

weekends FLY BY. can i get an amen?? whew.
i've been chipping away at this Holocaust paper. sometimes it is hard for me to write papers i really care about. it shouldn't be that way, it seems, but it is. bummer. i find myself wrestling in the thoughts of elie wiesel--this is really difficult for me sometimes. hm.

i read Deut. 8 on Friday. wow. i've been thinking about my tendency to construct idols; to grip them; to love them; to be disappointed by them. and i've been faced with the truth of God's faithfulness, despite my own UNfaithfulness. needless to say, this has all been really necessary and really difficult to face right now. incredible to live before a God who remains true in some of life's most trying circumstances. this is the God of provision--manna, water, guidance...

i talked to hallie today for the first time in a long time. it was good for my soul.

i spent some time sifting through old blog posts. i've had this thing since 2004. crazy. it's funny reading old entries. it also gives a neat perspective on the last four+ years.

in reading some old entries, i came across a few quotes that happen to strike a cord in my heart tonight. so here they are (and with them, I will leave you...good night):

"The house of my soul is too small for you to come to it. May it be enlarged by you. It is in ruins: restore it. In your eyes it has offensive features. I admit it, I know it; but who will clean it up?" -St. Augustine.

“Then the lion said--but I don’t know if it spoke--You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desparate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it. The first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peal off....Then he caught hold of me--I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on--and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment....and after a bit the lion took me out and dressed new clothes...” –The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Saturday, November 21, 2009

for $6.06

today lacy and i went to the thrift store across from her work to go book hunting. this is what i found...all for $6.06...

The Chosen-Chaim Potok
Davita's Harp-Chaim Potok
I Am the Clay-Chaim Potok
Israel: An Echo of Eternity--Abraham Heschel
The Town Beyond the Wall-Elie Wiesel
Night-Elie Wiesel
Hinds' Feet on High Places (thinking of you, Hallie)-Hannah Hurnard
and two other (random) beautiful hardcovers that i am tearing apart for projects...

WHOPPING DEAL, right?! I know some of you are thinking "she already has those books," and it's true (about most of them, not all of them), but books make such good gifts: birthday, christmas, or "just because."

we then walked to Powell's Bookstore where I found Wiesel's Trial of God for $5. Definitely worth investing in, so i snatched it up (the copy I currently have will need to go back to the public library soon anyway).

successful ventures. now it's time to immerse myself in wiesel's work so i can get started on this paper!

Friday, November 20, 2009

a week ago

a week ago tonight erin, michelle, amy, and i went to evanston for a david wilcox concert. tonight jay and kristen are seeing him in concert in virginia.
it was a good show. as much as i prefer peter mulvey, i really do enjoy his stories and appreciate his lyrics. he's full of delight, hope, true expressions of sorrow and loss, and a good amount of laughter. his songs reflect a lot of "real life" and i like that. the simple ins-and-outs of our days...

last night mariah and i were finally able to catch up. whew--about time! I'm going to drive out to las cruces for a day over christmas vacation. i look forward to it so much.
last night i was sitting at my desk and took a few minutes to look at the pictures i have hanging up. there's the one of zach, mariah, and i in colorado this summer, taken at sunset up on the mountain behind the cabin. those were a sweet few days. i was reminded how beautiful those days were: talking, listening, dreaming, praying, sitting. i hope for more times like that. they are remarkable moments of true joy. and yet they are so simple. sometimes the simple things are the best things.

there is also the picture of mark, hannah, and i at ELC this summer. i love looking at this picture because its a recent shot of the three of us, reminding me that we've been friends for a long time (going on 9 years. wow). and we're still friends. we aren't able to spend a lot of time together--we live in such different and far-away places--or even talk all that often...but when we DO talk and ARE able to spend time together, it's easy, and comfortable, and oh so wonderful. i look forward to a couple days of it at christmas.

tomorrow i'm going with lacy to the thrift store across the street from her work. they are clearing out a lot of their used books (at 25 and 50 cents!) and so we are going to scour and dig around for treasure-books. i can't wait. she bought me two elie wiesel books the other day: One Generation After and Legends of Our Time. i was so happy.

you know how people sometimes decide to "study" a person? They usually end up reading everything (or at least a great deal) that person wrote, etc. well, I've been thinking about how much I would really like to "study" Elie Wiesel and Chaim Potok. Maybe it's just because I'm sort of simmering in Jewish and Holocaust study right now but a) I love books by these two authors and b) I find each of them rather intriguing and compelling. I read The Trial of God (Wiesel) last week, as you know, and am currently making my way through his book From the Kingdom of Memory: Reminiscences. It's really. good.

sorry my entries have been miles long lately. i should probably try to keep them shorter.
tip for the day--go grab a good book and get reading!! If you need ideas, read Night/Dawn/Day trilogy by Elie Wiesel or My Name is Asher Lev and/or Davita's Harp (my favorite) by Chaim Potok.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

faith was different then

you know those moments that take you back? i got out of class early and decided it was time to organize my desk and do the dishes. something about being sick makes me want things to be in order--i think having a clean space to live in somehow helps me feel better about life even though my body seems to hate me. anyhow, i put on some old-school caedmon's call. I know, right. haven't listened to them in awhile. and all of a sudden "Lead of Love" started playing and i was hit with a million-and-one memories.

Looking back at the road so far
The journey's left its share of scars
Mostly from leaving the narrow and straight

Looking back it is clear to me
That a man is more than the sum of his deeds
And how You've made good of this mess I've made
Is a profound mystery

Looking back You know You had to bring me through
All that I was so afraid of
Though I questioned the sky, now I see why
Had to walk the rocks to see the mountain view
Looking back I see the lead of love

Looking back I can finally see (I'd rather have wisdom)
How failures bring humility (than be)
Brings me to my knees (a comfortable fool)
Helps me see my need for Thee

this song takes me back to high school: driving to and from school or to and from my job at Marie Calendars; living with a back brace that i thought meant the end of my life. it takes me back to hillsdale: walking up the hill to classes, sitting in the arboretum, my familiar spot in the lower level of the library by the corner windows. somehow that song did a lot to booster a faith that faltered and failed...a lot. while i was listening to it just now i was overwhelmed to realize what a different faith i have now. not that it's content has changed drastically or anything like that--but there is the realization that as life grows, faith grows: it's expression; it's obstacles. God has been gracious to preserve my small faith through some significant changes, doubts, questions, and learnings.

this has been a hard semester. i find myself praying that christmas break will provide time to rest in the quiet presence of the God i love. what weak, poor love I have to give and yet somehow that's ok because it is everything i can give. my heart is full of questions, yearnings, doubts, and securities. when i stand facing the One before whom everything rises and falls, i find myself holding only this weak love.
take our weak love, God.
thank you for taking our weak love.
thank you even more for giving us your strong love.

Read this before bed last night and felt silently secure in the midst of a general weariness:
"Listen this day for the groans and yearnings of your world,
listen to our own songs of joy and our own drudges of death,
and in the midst of our stammering,
speak your clear word of life
in the name of your word come flesh.
amen." -walter brueggemann

Sunday, November 15, 2009

from the couch

sometimes its hard to believe in a God we don't understand. things happen in life--to us or to those we care about--that don't make sense. they come at us out of nowhere.
life doesn't ask permission. life isn't polite. sometimes life is so very, very, unashamed.

and yet somehow we wouldn't have it any other way. we need a God that we don't understand. a God that is bigger than life when it doesn't ask permission, isn't polite, and is relentlessly unashamed. even the God that we don't understand compels us to pray for faith we don't have; strength we cannot muster; hope we dare not imagine.

be our biggest God. above the other gods. the gods of fear and doubt and distrust. steal away our false gods that promise fake support and empty hope. be our biggest God.
you are our biggest God.

and when this life steals all our words, stifles our prayers, and threatens to quench our faith, it is a beautiful thing to walk side by side. who will sit with you in silence, pray your worn-out-prayers for you, and uphold your faith with her own? it's important to be near each other. i'm reminded of the words of bebo's song:

You can borrow mine
When your hope is gone
Borrow mine
When you can't go on
Cause the world will not defeat you
When we're side by side
When your faith is hard to find
You can borrow mine

we pray. provide people to walk beside us when our faith is hard to find. there are those who are facing life raw right now. we've heard that you are Upholder; Healer; Shelter; Friend. reveal yourself as these. you are the giver of life. we pray for new life. in the meantime we also hope for new normals--life back to "the way it was" before the news, the choice, the to live again.

i like sundays

saturday feels like the end of the week and monday definitely feels like the beginning...

sunday is kind of this remarkable little "gem" of a day that doesn't quite seem to fit at the beginning or the end. it is what it is.
i like that.

hope you are enjoying your sunday.

Friday, November 13, 2009

i just found out that our spring play is The Trial of God. ummm. wow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

the hidden God

“One night the teacher took Wiesel back to his own barracks, and there, with the young boy as the only witness, three great Jewish scholars—masters of Talmud, Halakhah, and Jewish jurisprudence—put God on trial, creating, in that eerie place, ‘a rabbinic court of law to indict the Almighty’” (Introduction vii).

On Tuesday I finished reading The Trial of God, by Elie Wiesel. It is his depiction of the event he witnessed years ago in the concentration camp. “For years Wiesel lived with the tension and dilemma of that memory, pondering how to communicate its despairing solemnity” (Introduction, vii). He finally chose to write it as a play. It is a remarkable work. I can’t really express what an incredible, vivid, and stunning work it is—different than any of his other works that I have read (Night, Dawn, Day). It is difficult and gripping.

I won’t give away the story line. I want you to read it. As thinking human beings (generally) and as responsible Christians (specifically) I think it is necessary for us to wrestle with the issues raised in this book. We all have questions about God—many of the “hard” and “messy” ones arise from experiences of suffering or come from witnessing the trauma that fills this world. If we are to live for and believe in the redemption of the world (and it’s contents), this matters.

Does God care about human suffering?
Does God Himself suffer?
What does it mean for humanity to bear the image of God?
How can mankind commit such terrible evil? How can God allow it?

You can’t say you’ve never asked them—or, at least, thought them. I don’t believe I’m the only one that wrestles with loose ends and disfigured categories. Look at the world around us. Cry out to the God who IS.

On Wednesday we had a worship chapel and I struggled to sing choruses that pushed for happy praise and the expression of neat, proper worship for God. Maybe this was because I had, fifteen minutes prior, walked out of my “Holocaust and the Crisis of Evil” class having just watched a documentary on the concentration camps. I have never watched such graphic, live footage. Dr. McDuffee challenged us to consider (a) how such atrocities can be committed by men (some that claim to know God) and (b) how this can happen in front of God—can we know anything of His response?

I’d just like to share a few quotes from the play that hit me hard.

“…I’ll yell for truth all by myself! I’ll howl words that have been howling inside me and through me! I’ll tear off all the masks of Him whose face is hidden! With or without an attorney present, Your Honor, the trial will take place!” (103).

“You are using images, let me add mine. When human beings kill one another, where is God to be found? You see Him among the killers. I find Him among the victims” (129).

“You would like to hear the victims? So would I. But they do not talk. They cannot come to the witness stand. They’re dead…I implore the court to consider their absence as the weightiest of proofs, as the heaviest of accusations. They are witnesses, Your Honor, invisible and silent witnesses, but still witnesses! Let their testimony enter your conscience and your memory! Let their premature, unjust deaths turn into an outcry so forceful that it will make the universe tremble with fear and remorse!” (129).

“You can force yourself to accept sadness, not joy” (145).

“Just? How can anyone proclaim Him just—now? With the end so near? Look at us, look at Hanna, search your own memory: between the Jews who suffer and die, and God who does not—how can you choose God?” (157).

Well, dear reader, do you feel the questions now?
Does God care about human suffering?
Does God Himself suffer?
What does it mean for humanity to bear the image of God?
How can mankind commit such terrible evil? How can God allow it?

Obviously (but not so obvious to many, it seems) these questions hold great implication for all people everywhere, all over the world, and in any time.

The Afterword for Wiesel’s book is by Matthew Fox and is artfully titled, “The Trial of God, The Trial of Us.” His articulation and integration of the contents of Wiesel’s book is very good. I’d like to share a few things that he writes…

“Because the Jewish Biblical tradition teaches that humanity is made ‘in the image and likeness of God,’ to put God on trial is to put humanity on trial, and to put humanity on trial is to put God on trial. ‘All our names for God come from our understanding of ourselves’ warns Meister Eckhart. To put God on trial is to put on trial our understanding of ourselves, our ways of living in the world, of denying, of accusing, of projecting, of hating, and of loving…” (163).

“This play may be less about putting God on trial than about putting our uses and abuses and projections of God on trial…Not only is a one-dimensional idea of God erased in the play, but so, too, is a one-dimensional notion of evil, and even Satan himself, eliminated” (171).

Finally, and I will leave you with this last quote because this is long and I fear I may have lost some of you already. But I hope not…

“This play does not only arouse our capacity for judging God and our notions of God and judging ourselves; it also goes deeper than judgment. It touches awe and wonder, freedom and guilt, creativity and compassion, humor and paradox. It leads us into the realms of the spirit more deeply than interminable rational debate about the divine nature could ever lead us. It leads us to the experience of spirit, not only to its critique. It takes us beyond words, to the holy sanctuary of sorrow. It disturbs as the spirit so often disturbs” (165).

This is an “issue” worth pursuit, study, prayer, hope, question, and humility. There is more I want to say and wish I could say but don’t really know how. I always feel like this subject is too big to bring up. But it must be brought up. I always feel inadequate to talk or write about it when the seams of my own heart are bursting with questions. There remain the loose ends and disfigured categories…and so we are left sitting in discomfort and wonder. I hope such a position will, ultimately, drive us to the feet of the hidden, elusive One.

(Wiesel, Elie. The Trial of God. New York: Schocken, 1979).

Monday, November 09, 2009

i need a break.

Today was pretty much a terrible day. I don’t usually have “bad days,” I think I always point to the redeeming qualities in an effort to realize that things are never as bad as they could be…which is ok some of the time but then there are days after which you just want (and probably need) to say, “that sucked.” Today was one such day. Last week was a pretty awful week in general and I thought the weekend would push me into a fresh week with a new beginning. Today kind of blew that hope out. It just sucked in a whole lot of ways. I don't need to name them all—and you probably don’t care to listen to them all. But to top it all off, the boy I nanny (he’s four) decided today was one of the days he hates me. These come up from time to time but he’s been getting bolder in his pronouncements of hatred and dislike. Sure, it’s done in a 4-year-old kind of way but it can still be hurtful and I have a hard time not allowing it to make me feel like crap. He misses his old nanny, which is understandable, and I tell him he’s allowed to and that’s normal…but I draw the line at the hate talk, letting him know that it definitely hurts my feelings. Today he went so far as to say, “I even wish I had a gun so I could shoot you!” On top of a previously crappy week and a fairly awful Monday, his words almost made me cry. Then I thought about how it must feel for parents when their kids (especially once older!) say terrible and hurtful things to them…I hate you; you are the worst parents ever; I want new parents…you’ve probably used some of these phrases so need I say more?
I miss home. I want to curl up on the couch by the big windows and watch the clouds in the huge open sky. The sad thing is, that couch no longer sits in front of the big windows. That house isn’t home anymore. My parents have moved and going home will be a little strange. Life seems to be changing so much this year—lots of transitions. Sigh.
My left eye has been twitching for a straight two days. If it wasn’t also a bit funny (I mean, seriously, every other person probably thinks I’m winking at him/her) I’d probably be tempted to yell—it’s super frustrating! My sister says it’s from stress. Bleh.
So when you are me and you go to the library, picking up a book you’ve been wanting to “pleasure read” probably isn’t the best idea when you have multiple pressing assignments on your plate. Needless to say, I am (as of today alone) 78 pages into *the trial of god* by Elie Wiesel. It is incredibly interesting, insightful, and hard to read. I’m sure it will be finished within the next few days. And I’m also sure I will devote one single post to the contents of the book alone. So…more on that to come. I like to keep my readers hooked ☺
Alright. Off to work on some Life in Bible Times so I can read some more before bed…
Also, it might seem like a dumb favor but could you be praying for me? I really want to be able to be a comfort and support to the kids…even if they hate me…but it’s hard. I’m just super discouraged right now.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

good finds and time to myself

i spent several hours at the Chicago Public Library this afternoon. It's been ages since I've been there and it felt good to go back. Is it weird so say that there are good memories there? I have never frequented the public library but i've gone a few times, and i don't know, it just brings back memories. mostly of 1st/2nd semesters.

while researching for my Holocaust paper, I made a few unexpected good finds: i copied a chapter out of Sallie McFague's book Speaking in Parables: A Study in Metaphor and Theology. The title of the chapter is Metaphor: The Heart of the Matter. It looks really good, I'm excited to read it. The book as a whole seems fascinating. One day when I have more time I might actually try to sit down and read all of it. I also copied a brief section out of Elie Wiesel's Memoirs on "God's Suffering." The sentence that jumped out on the first page: "God accompanies his children into exile." The next paragraph begins, "What happens to us touches God."

yesterday was a hard day. i felt sad all day. you know when sadness is deep and you can't just shake it? even well-meaning people can't provide the "distraction" necessary/desired. do you ever wonder why we try to distract ourselves from life's hard experiences (emotions, feelings, thoughts)? i do. lately I've been praying that God would help me live full before Him.

when i reflect on my time at moody (which i have been doing more of lately) i think about two things in particular: (1) how God has taught me about myself (this time really has been one of self-discovery) (2) how God has taught me about Himself (i don't even know what to say here. he has awakened me and opened my eyes to wonder at and see him in remarkably "new" ways) and (3) the people God has used to shape and impact me (some major and minor characters who have lived this story with me and changed me forever).

it seems like i've had lots of time to myself lately. i haven't, really, but it has felt that way because there's been time to listen to myself, talk to myself, and talk with God (when sitting in our living room or with friends, walking to the grocery store, riding the EL, walking across campus and in between classes, while trying to fall asleep at night). there seems to be times when conversation with God is both inevitable and unavoidable, don't you think?

i need to get my nose back in the books.
i'll leave you with a quote from The Genesee Diary that I read yesterday:
"In times of doubt or unbelief, the community can 'carry you along,' so to speak; it can even offer on your behalf what you yourself overlook, and can be the context in which you may recognize the Lord again." (Henri Nouwen)
do your best to surround yourself with a community that will challenge, push, prod, guide, and encourage you heavenward/homeward. and pray for those without such a community. pray for the expansion of this community...

from pete

i love this peter mulvey song...

Light A Fire
burn Up All You Know
you've Had
so Much Time Just To
let Things Go
now You're
burning Letters Out
in The Snow
in Your Backyard

years Go Rolling
you're Thirty Three
it's Time
for The Cross
or The Bodhi Tree
but You'd
like To Cry When You
skin Your Knee
man's It's Hard

and It's The Same Old Friends On New Years Eve
the Same Snow Falls On The Same Old Leaves
and There's The Same Old Joy And The Same Old Hurt
same Old Corduroy Shirt

old Storm Windows,
the Broke-Tail Squirrel
and The
grocery Lists And The
skateboard Girls
and Your
rusty Brain Cells Give You A Twirl
oh No

kitchen Radio,
coffee's On
oh You'd
like A Month Just To Lean Up On
but This
open Road Wants To
get You Gone
off You Go

and It's The Same Old Jar Of Car Keys By The Door
the Same Old Scuffed Up Floor
the Same Old Thirst For More Until The Put You In The Dirt

it's The Same Old Nights Alone
the Same Old "baby When You Coming Home?"
to Feel The Same Old Joy, Oh The Same Old Hurt
same Old Corduroy Shirt
same Old Corduroy Shirt

Friday, November 06, 2009

thinking with tea

i think tea makes me think. or maybe i just tend to drink tea when i am in a thoughtful/reflective mood. sigh. i don't know. all i can say is, i am so glad it's the weekend. this week has felt like 100 years long. if i could, i would go for a long drive--get out of the city for awhile. sit under the bright blanket of stars. or in an open meadow. i feel pressed here. it kind of hurts. i feel a little worn out by life.

it's so full of choices, you know? it's full of a whole lot of choices. i've been reminded of something dr. de rosset said when we read The End of the Affair last year--that "there isn't anything glamorous about obedience." sometimes we make choices just because we feel like it's the right thing to do. but we aren't always ready for the results; the outcome. when we try to live honest to God, honest to ourselves, and honest to others, things don't always turn out comfortable (glamorous). i suppose we are meant to learn something in these moments. God, I hope we learn something in these moments.

a fireplace. that's it. i wish i could sit in front of a fireplace.

i've been doing some work today tracking down articles to read for the Theology of Suffering class I am a TA for in the spring. I've got three in line so far: "Soul-Making and Suffering" by John Hick, "Natural Evil and the Love of God" by Diogenes Allen, and "Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God" by Marilyn McCord Adams.

one of my professors said the other day "pain is bad." i was really shocked. really. i just sat there. i mean, i feel pain right now. but i don't think i can, in my right mind, say it is "bad." and i believe God is somehow in our pain with us.

friends just showed up with pumpkin pie. yum.
i really feel pressed. i don't know what to do this weekend but i feel like i need to get out somehow. take a break and take some deep breaths.

we live God-haunted lives. sometimes his invisibility makes it hard for me to trust his immanence. round us out, God, and teach us to be patient in our learnings.

Monday, November 02, 2009

listening to "hey ya" by obadiah parker

this song makes me think of sarah, mariah, and lacy. i think because it brings back memories of the four of us--last semester traditions and even their visit a week ago. i miss them.

today was a strange day. do you ever have days that just feel unreal? are you ever stopped by the thought, "how did i end up here?" not in a bad way, just in a reflective way. i felt that way a lot today. it was a day full of moments in which i seemed to be looking in on my life from outside of it. am i crazy? do you ever feel this way??

today cameron tripped and cut his lip a little. the blood scared him, i think, and his screaming made me so sad! i spent a lot of the afternoon calming him down. we ended up building legos. i really love those kids. sometimes when i take care of them i feel like a mom. it sort of makes me smile. sometimes it makes me laugh.

i've been thinking about my time here. i have one more semester at moody. that's it.
this has been a good place.
God has done much in me here.

sometimes i think of this time like you might think of a cherished photograph. you know, the one that you tack above your desk or tuck away in a dusty old shoebox. you can always look at it with deep joy and firm gratitude as something reflective of an experience--a moment--that really changed you. i think i'll always look back on this time as beautiful and experience rather indescribable and somehow very formative.

sometimes i feel so old...
and life is different than what i expected.
that's ok. i'm glad it's different. i hope it always surprises me.
forced trusting.
He will break in again and again...
i hope it and i pray it, for life is too hard without His interruptions.
even though it is often His interruptions that seem so hard.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

i miss africa

lately i've been remembering things, sorting through old pictures, reading long-ago journal entries...and i miss Africa. i miss the people. i miss the land. i miss a lot of things about it. i can't help but wonder if or when i'll go back. the future seems to clouded sometimes. hmm.

just thinking out loud :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

wheelock and weekends

i miss latin. that class was the best. i miss Dr. Weir (i even forgot how he spells his name...). i miss his raving tangents and sporadic swearing. what a brilliant man. what a wonderful language. i miss learning a language.
wow. there is a whole lot of missing going on in this post.
i've been thinking about languages again due to the fact that i have recently overheard several conversations about biblical languages, which has made me think about how great it would be to learn hebrew one day. who knows. maybe...

tonight erin, michelle (and her friend from out of town), amy, and i watched Lars and the Real Girl. I forget how much i like that movie until i watch it again. it's really good.

i am SO RELIEVED that it is the weekend. seriously. i don't think i've been this "ready" for one in months. you know that kind of tired that is rooted deep in your bones? that's how i've felt this week...and it's been hard. i hope i can (1) sleep a lot this weekend (2) go for a walk or two by myself (3) journal. all of these are things i have needed and wanted to do but just haven't.

do you ever just stop to think about your life?...ask yourself those questions like "wow, how have i gotten here?" or think, "i didn't anticipate this two years ago..."

lately several people have asked "Andrea, are you seriously thinking grad. school?" and "You really want to do that, don't you?" or "Are you still thinking about Wheaton?" I find myself more and more willing to say "yeah, i really am thinking about grad. school. I do really want to do this. and yes, i think Wheaton is the direction I am moving in." I can't really tell you how excited this makes me...Of course I realize that a decision now does not mean anything is set in stone. things tend to shift and move around. life's timing isn't always what i think...or even want...
i find myself catching my breathe--"the thought of ACTUALLY pursuing a master's at Wheaton seems so unreal..." It's almost like I am considering the possibility of a dream really coming true, and somehow it feels really strange. Good, but strange.

i get excited thinking about a master's in clinical psychology having had the eduction i've received here to undergird it. gosh...aaaah!

ok. i really need to go to bed.

tis the season, i guess

the other night we carved pumpkins AND made christmas cookies while listening to christmas music!! it was really wonderful...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

6 papers in 6 weeks

With six weeks left of school i decided it was necessary to sit down and determine what still has to be done--with regard to major papers/projects. I have 6 papers to 6 weeks.

i think one of the reasons i haven't felt like a student this semester is the lack of writing (except for two 3-5 pagers but they don't a result, i'm not in that "writing mindset.' ugh, i don't like it). i really enjoy writing papers--at least ones that require research, thought, and a heavier sense of quality. so i think at least 4 of these papers will be really fun/challenging to write. here are the subjects:

1. Violence and Memory: Rightly Remembering the Holocaust
2. Postmodern Hermeneutics: Critique, Evaluation, and Application.
3. Implementing Church Planting Methods in the Revival of Existing Congregations
4. A Biblical Theology of Herem: Old Testament Holy War

then I have two to write for my independent study course on the Gospel of John. They aren't as "major," though.

so i guess I have a paper a week to work on. not bad...

and tonight i'm finishing up two others i've had going for a different independent course. it will be nice to only have campus courses next semester...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

the cat lady

there is an elderly woman who lives on our floor with her cat. she is deaf and so we never talk, but she smiles. i smile back. you know that feeling when smiles are exchanged and it feels like more has been communicated than simply that but you just don't know what? we had that experience today in the elevator.

a few days back her cat got loose (it happens a lot). I was taking the trash to the garbage shoot when she stopped me, mouthing questions and signing her frustration over the lost feline. i apologized, saying "i haven't seen him, but i hope you find him soon." she gave me a sad, exasperated look (like she truly would ring that cats neck once she found him) and I opened the door to the trash closet. guess who ran out? her cat!! he had somehow got stuck in the trash closet. haha. she was so excited to see him. she scooped him up in her arms and they walked back down the hall fully content and happily reunited. it was really cute.

i like the cat lady.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"he has been good to us..."

this is what i told lacy when we were driving back from the airport last night after dropping mariah off. there were tears and heartache and it was painful to let go again, but there is an overwhelming sense of God's goodness in these days. He has been good to gift us with strong friends with whom we share life, climb, fall, explore, wonder, and wrestle. it was good to see sarah and mariah again--to be TOGETHER again. wow, i miss them a lot.

i've been thinking about how patient God is with us. I, in turn, am so impatient with him. this realization has quieted me today and i found myself in the culby 2 prayer room for awhile resting in the silence of that space. sacred moments are everywhere but sometimes they get lost in the business. i have to push for them. we pray that he break in and interrupt. he does that, thankfully, but sometimes we need to interrupt our routines, too.

senioritis has hit me hard this semester. probably because i haven't found my classes all that exhilarating. I look forward to next semester, though, and i think it will be a good one for "going out." gosh, i can hardly believe this time is almost over...

today i registered:

Intro. to Music-someone...?
Contemporary Islam-Dr. Namaan
Senior Seminar-Dr. Schmutzer
Wellness (1/2 semester)-Dunn
Directed Study NT elective-Dr. Peterman

I'm not sure what the directed study will be. I met with Dr. Peterman today and he said it is wide open--so I'm meeting with him in a week to determine more. I think I'd like to do something in the Gospels but I don't know what. ANYTHING? Gosh, these sorts of decisions are ridiculously hard for me...
I'm going to be a TA for the new Theology of Suffering class. Can't tell you how excited this makes me. I will also be working on my internship (developing a course book for A Biblical Theology of Global Violence). I am eager to devote time to these two, considering that I'll only be taking 13 credits, 4 of which include an intro. class and wellness. yeah, i know, it's a really nice schedule. I'll be working still and I would like to take a local pottery class one night a week. It will be a good semester--I just have to finish pushing through this one first.

i'm exhausted. seriously. everything in me wants to sleep. i'm going to go to the library for a few hours to work on some of my independent study classes and then i hope to get to bed no later than 8:30 or 9:00 tonight.

a thought to leave you with: do you ever feel like you leave your prayers at the feet of God and walk away, uncertain of how they've been received? this might be for any number of reasons--friends are telling you one thing, you are thinking another, God seems silent, your very soul seems pinched--like you want more faith to believe but for some reason it's just really hard right now...? i'm there right now. sometimes it's hard to trust God. it grows wearisome. i trust for others' sake, for my own, for unknown and unspoken things...and there is waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

this weekend was a "sighing of soul" kind of weekend. yes, in talking with friends i uncovered some of these "hard" thoughts and feelings, but i am also living in a deeply contented place. these are my sputterings and i realize they are a little scattered but whatever...ha. i don't care. have a good tuesday afternoon--stop to take deep breathes and, you know, enjoy a beautiful tree or look at the sky :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

apples and gifted moments

do you ever live days that are obviously "gifted" days? i mean, frequented with moments in which you say to yourself, "this moment is beautiful and so intentionally given to me." today has been one such day. i am privileged to look back on it and say "thank you, my God, for life lived today." the weather couldn't have been better. the colors were spectacular--i think today might have been the peak. the breeze scattered leaves, blowing them into my face as I sat on a sunny bench to eat an apple. i brainstormed a little with Dr. Schmutzer about my internship, continued dialoguing over The End of Memory, and caught some more of the vision i have for my future. i sat on houghton roof with whitney for an hour sipping a blended chai while talking about life, sharing wonder, and sitting in quiet over some of life's not-so-easy questions. i slacklined in washington park for half an hour (stepped in dog poop barefoot, but that's beside the point) and sat in crunchy, musty leaves.

i now find myself sitting in a library cubicle thinking about the homework i don't want to do but need to. Sarah and Mariah come into town in about 6 hrs--i can hardly believe the reunion weekend is here. i am SO anxious to see them. sigh.

i wish i had more time to read the books i've been wanting to read but don't have time to. today in Holocaust and the Crisis of Evil, McDuffee urged us to read, read, read (in particular, the Communist Manifesto). I wish I could take him up on it. Maybe i just need to prioritize a little bit better. hmmm. i might try to incorporate more "other" reading into my schedule. the problem is, the second half of the semester is going to be fuller than the first--lots of papers and projects. i got one of them approved today, which is exciting (and, in turn, motivational). For Cross Cultural Church Planting, a class I am often discouraged by, I have been given permission to write the major research paper/project on how church planting methods can (and ought) be used to revive existing churches. It bothers me how flippantly the class suggests we "give up on" dying churches for the purpose of planting new ones. I'm realizing more and more how much my heart is directed toward healing, nurturing, and ministering to redeem, not simply to create something new. does that make sense? so, with regard to this class, the "appeal" for me is not in starting new churches all the time but rather in addressing WHY existing churches are dying. What's happening here? What do these churches need that they aren't getting? How can we renew the health of congregations...?

My heart bends in the direction of member care...soul care...self care...there is a growing need and wow, if this need is ignored any longer......?

I'm excited to write the paper now.

My major paper for my Holocaust class is on the role of memory in suffering/trauma--specifically, as it relates to the events of the Holocaust. One of the major thinkers/writers i'll be studying is Elie Wiesel. I've already read a bit of his works and am eager to study more. I'm especially anxious to write this one since I've been reading The End of Memory. The idea of redeeming memory has been popping up all over the place recently...

I still have one more sermon to preach in November and am not sure at all what I'd like to do...It's to be a New Testament text. hmm. I'll have to give that one some concerted thought soon.

This has gotten long. sorry. there are a million and one thoughts bouncing around in my head and i had to get some of them out before i dive into this paper i'm writing on 1 Cor. 3:9-17....i am very ready to be done with this paper...i've been looking at it for far too long. sigh.

ok. gotta go.
i hope you live to recognize gifted moments this week! they are there, but sometimes they are shy and quiet. just look.