Saturday, January 30, 2010

because charity sang

This morning Charity was singing The Valley Song by jars of clay. When i got home from pcm i started listening to "Where I Began," the Andrea and Hallie mix, Vol. One. First of all, I love that song. Second, I love this mix. God taught me a lot about Himself and a lot about myself through these songs...and about living life with other people.

You have led me to the sadness
I have carried this pain
On a back bruised, nearly broken
I'm crying out to you

I will sing of Your mercy
That leads me through valleys of sorrow
To rivers of joy

When death like a Gypsy
Comes to steal what I love
I will still look to the heavens
I will still seek your face

But I fear you aren't listening
Because there are no words
Just the stillness and the hunger
For a faith that assures

While we wait for rescue
With our eyes tightly shut
Face to the ground using our hands
To cover the fatal cut

And though the pain is an ocean
Tossing us around, around, around
You have calmed greater waters
Higher mountains have come down

It was a "difficult" pcm today--highly frustrating and deeply challenging. God has granted both Charity and I a certain sensitivity to the concerns of the heavy-laden and observant hearts for situations of "injustice." So, naturally, we feel deeply the desre to see R. and E. succeed, grow, experience life and renewed purpose here, so far from their home. Not only that, but the hope is for them to truly, eternally, recognize a worth that is borne out of the reality that they've been formed in the image of God himself. I guess the hope and longing we feel can't really be expressed--it's too much for words. All this to say, please pray for these women we love. Pray for us--the courage to love with honesty, patience, and grace.
He has calmed greater waters and higher mountains have come down.

Rise up, you faith, for the Spirit of God will lead you into truth, praying the words you can't find to pray and expressing your heart before Almighty.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

grateful for cozy

bon iver, a cup of tea, the new quilt from my mom, a square of thin mint chocolate just pulled from the freezer, and readings on the Sabbath...In particular, a paper considering the significance of Jesus' healing (etc.) on the Sabbath.

I am deep in thought, surrounded by bible, a few biblical/theological dictionaries, waltke's OT biblical theology, and Brueggemann's Reverberations. I enjoy nights like this. I enjoy them quite a lot. The only thing that might make it better is if my legs would quit falling asleep in this crossed position. uuugh. or maybe if i didn't have two other assignments to work on (i am already feeling sleep begin to settle in).

so, my head has been spinning this week. certain subjects I am studying are beginning to prove their depth and applicability--a combination at once welcome but necessarily "difficult," too. such is the life of a student, right? :)

i think it's about that time. you know, when I share my excitement over the papers i get to write during the semester. yep, it's that time. i only really know a few of them but already they intrigue, interest, encourage, and challenge me, so...

for my directed study of the biblical theology of sin i hope to explore The Affects of Sin on Humanity 'In the Image and Likeness of God' (or something to that effect). For my senior seminar biblical theology paper i hope to explore the canon in a consideration of The Violence of God. Eventually I have a major research project on Christ's Healing Ministry...but more to come later.

And right now I really should be finishing this paper so I can get to bed at a decent hour.
I'll leave you with a simple quote I came across that I keep thinking about:

“There was…a divine necessity for healing on the Sabbath, insofar as the Sabbath was divinely ordained to be for Israel a foretaste of the kingdom of God. By healing those bound by the kingdom of Satan, Jesus had enabled the kingdom of God to break in upon human life (Lk 11:20; Mk 3:27). Thus, since the Sabbath was a foretaste of the kingdom, there was no better day for him to perform acts of mercy. Since the kingdom had arrived, the Son of man…was Lord of the Sabbath (Mk 2:28).” L.D. Hurst, “Ethics of Jesus,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. Joel B. Green and Scot McKnight (Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1992): 218 [210-222].

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


tonight i miss mozambique. a lot. my heart hurts and i am asking an old and familiar question that doesn't resurface as often as it once did--"when, Lord?" it resurfaces in different ways; with different and deep-seated emotions, thoughts, questions, prayers...

i am almost always startled by the stirring of these old familiar questions. life is so different for me now than what i thought it would (or should) be "back then." i've thanked God time and again that He didn't "leave me to myself" two years ago when I thought that the best, bravest, and most necessary thing to do was quit everything here in order to be there. Oh how wrong I was. how different life does look. and oh how grateful i am for His firm but gentle grace in keeping me here and doing what he has done in my heart, mind, and soul--for wherever I end up. the possibilities are different--enlarged? enriched? matured.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

weekend coda

While splashing around in the sink doing dishes a few days ago I started thinking about Haiti. I was listening to NPR news reporters cover various stories of the grievous destruction and deep suffering that face so many. The reporter was interviewing an American aid worker—asking “simple” questions. I stopped clanking the dishes and turned off the water. The reporter asked, “what is it like there?” The question was met with a long silence followed by a muffled gasp. The aid worker whispered, “sorry,” and there was another pause. Voice shaking, he said, “I think I’m just so exhausted. It’s really hard here. I’ve seen a lot of hard things. There is a lot of suffering.”

Both this Sunday and last I have been grateful to pray with my church—as one—for Haiti. Sometimes the hard realities of life aren’t spoken “up front” in churches, and this can be frustrating (yes, it is equally frustrating if only the hard things are spoken and, instead, the hopeful things are lost. Hmmn, a call to live somewhere in the middle?). One thing I love about the liturgy at Grace is the time each week for the “prayers of the people”—a corporate naming of the sorrow and voicing of the pain as we say together, “Lord, hear our prayer.” Often, there are prayers of joy and prayers of sorrow offered together, and this is always remarkable to me. What a strange but beautiful reality to pray and praise the birth of a new child alongside the prayer for a dear woman recovering from an aneurism.

I know I am not the only one who recognizes these tensions of life because Peter Mulvey sings, “my friend’s dad died this past winter time, and so we were standing by a hole in the frozen ground. But my little niece has lost another tooth, and today the air is warm and the blackbirds have returned…”

Hope and sorrow, strangely, seem to live together, don’t they? Faith doesn’t eliminate experiences of doubt. But doubt doesn’t eliminate faith, either (or, should I clarify, it doesn't necessarily eliminate faith). We might find ourselves in seasons of life that produce prayers like, “I believe, Lord. But help my unbelief.” The sun hasn’t shone since last Tuesday, but I am hopeful for a break in the clouds (i'm being serious, not poetic).

I watched (500) Days of Summer last night. There’s a scene in which Summer is asked what happened in her previous dating relationships. She answers, “What always happens? Life.” I find this very interesting. People say, “Life happens.” I’m sure you’ve heard it, right? Life happens. Yeah, it does. It happens in harder ways for some of us than for others, though for each of us it’s “happening” is very personal. And we make decisions and choices in life as it happens. I’m sure I’ve typed my thoughts out on here before about how life doesn’t seem to ask permission. It’s so “unashamed” in its movement forward—a mix of beauty and horror, delight and loss.

Because of several of my classes, I’ve been necessarily thoughtful about the story of life. We all live a story. There are a multitude of sets, plots, characters, and climaxes. But what’s the purpose of all these stories? How can we understand them?

I realized last week that I see over a hundred faces on my way to work in a given afternoon. That’s incredible. I love to look at these faces, curious about the stories they represent. Do you ever wonder what his story is, or hers? I do.

There is one great story that organizes all these little stories, gathers together our broken and unfinished stories, and provides meaning (a meaning beyond our own feelings of meaning). When we banner our own stories (important as they are) at the expense of the larger story, we sense the loss of meaning—a certain emptiness. So I’ve been wrestling with thoughts about Christ’s ministry, recognizing in fresh ways how he engages the personal stories—the lives of all kinds of people—and brings fresh meaning to them by introducing the larger story. It’s absolutely remarkable, really. It’s shocking. It’s beautiful. It’s difficult. It’s hopeful.

And this little life that I am living here will put me to bed tonight in a warm apartment with clean, crisp sheets that I washed this afternoon. I will go to bed here, and there are thousands in Haiti without bed or home or family. And I pray that I live this story remembering the larger story because without it, I cannot make sense of my own life or any other—or the events that have left Haiti bruised and broken.

Be your powerful, active, sovereign self
“You are the God who creates and recreates,
who judges and delivers,
who calls by name and makes new.
This much we gladly confess in praise and thanksgiving.
This much we trust and affirm…
only to ponder the chance that we are too glib,
that we say more than we mean,
that we say more
than we can in fact risk.
We make our gingerly confession in a world filled
with those who cynically acknowledge none but themselves…
and we stand in solidarity with them.
Thus we ask, beyond our critical reservations,
that you be your powerful, active, sovereign self.
Give us eyes to see your wonders around us;
Give us hearts to live into your risky miracles;
Give us tongues to praise you beyond our doubt.
For it is to you, only you, that we turn on behalf of the world
that waits in its deathliness for your act of life. Amen.”
-Walter Brueggemann

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

the God we would rather have

"We are your people and mostly we don't mind,
except that you do not fit any of our categories.
We keep pushing
and pulling
and twisting
and turning,
trying to make you fit the God we would rather have,
and every time we distort you that way
we end up with an idol more congenial to us.
In our most honest moments of grief and pain
we are very glad that you are who you are,
and that you are toward us in all your freedom
what you have been toward us.
So be your faithful self
and by your very engagement in the suffering of the world,
transform the world even as you are being changed.
We pray in the name of Jesus,
who is the sign of your suffering love. Amen."

-Walter Brueggemann
"In anticipation of reading Jeremiah 4-6/2000"

Friday, January 15, 2010

On Pakistani cab drivers, cracks in the sidewalk, and…biblical exegesis?

Week one is over. It’s Friday night and I spent a little over an hour at the Bourgeois Pig with Whitney knitting in front of the fireplace drinking tea and debriefing the week…and Christmas break…and life. It was a perfect way to “end” the week. Now I am sitting in front of my computer determined to get some of the week’s thoughts out.

Thursday was a hard day. This environment discouraged me. I felt a little bit suffocated. The initial week or two of a semester always requires transition—new thoughts, dreams, and direction on top of old thoughts, dreams, and direction. Integration is the theme of this time in my life. Integrate, integrate, integrate. Do you ever sense the deep difficulty of this? I do.

This week I was tongue-tied. There was much I desired or hoped to articulate but couldn’t. Are you ever in a class that touches on issues so ripe in your life that you are left amazed, a little shocked, and briefly incapable of “responding”? Welcome to Senior Seminar with Dr. Schmutzer. I get frustrated when I am surrounded by people that sound good—they can articulate well; use “the terms” of a given subject; and interact with questions on the spot—because I seem to always be at a loss for words. I have heard the same terms, learned the same terms, and could maybe give you a formal definition…but my heart isn’t there. I realized that this week and it was hard. It’s hard when you recognize the necessity and importance of a subject but its importance depends on how it is used and understood. Does this make sense? I’ll try to explain.

I have assigned reading in Kevin Vanhoozer’s Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. It is a wonderful book of which I am now a pleased owner. Flipping its crisp, new pages I am thrilled to discover articles on “Biblical Theology,” “Culture and Hermeneutics,” “Exile and Restoration,” “Imagination,” “Joshua, Book of,” “Political Theology,” the list goes on (for approximately 865 pages). I hungrily ate up the introduction, grateful for “a resource that combines an interest in the academic study of the Bible with a passionate commitment to making this scholarship of use to the church” (19). There comes a time, however, when we are “graded” on this information—measured for the academic purposes of posting grades and earning degrees. This is all well and fine. I have nothing against grades and degrees. But sometimes I just feel worn out. I feel the need to sit on these issues for a while first. I can’t talk about hermeneutics and exegesis and how biblical studies needs theology (though I believe in these disciplines wholeheartedly) unless I know how and why these matter for faith and life in the "real" world.

I love learning. I love the classroom. But I want to learn how to take things from the classroom into life “out there.” I need to know why hermeneutics, exegesis, and biblical/theological studies matter when my friend is having a really hard week; when a friend-of-a-friend found out he is very (potentially fatally) ill; when thousands upon thousands are the buried dead in Haiti and thousands more are hungry, thirsty, and grieving.

These thoughts were bouncing around in my head as I walked to work. I was pulled out of my thoughts by the sound of a wheelchair bouncing over cracks in the icy sidewalk. I looked up to see this man making his way down the sidewalk on the other side of the street. I considered the beautiful stranger who, for whatever reason, had lost the ability to walk. I bet he never thinks about hermeneutics and exegesis, I thought (childish, I know, but its true). For a moment I was, again, a little (ok, maybe a lot) angry. The heavy discouragement came back. What is this all for?

As it turns out, I really just needed some time to simmer down, think, and pray a little. I knew I would “come around.” I knew I would come back to a refreshed recognition of why hermeneutics, exegesis, and biblical/theological studies matter…for life…because they absolutely do.

Remember how I “hungrily ate up” that introduction? Yeah, because my heart resonates with statements such as, “…practical theology takes part in biblical interpretation when it inquires into how the people of God should respond to the biblical texts. The way in which the church witnesses, through its language and life, is perhaps the most important form of theological interpretation of the Bible” (Vanhoozer 22). The conclusion of the introduction is appropriately titled, “Reading to Know God.”

And as I simmer down I also think a little closer about why I like the “Exegesis” article. It is very well done. It is honest and informational--well written. I am struck by Klyne Snodgrass’ articulation that “the goal of exegesis is not merely information but a ‘usable understanding.’ Far too much attention is placed on ‘meaning’ and not nearly enough on the function of texts” (203). Suddenly I am able to think a bit better about exegesis alongside thoughts of my hurting friend and those suffering in Haiti. Snodgrass later quotes Gordon Fee, “Thus it is simply wrong-headed for us ever to think that we have done exegesis at all if we have not cared about the intended Spirituality of the text” (Fee, To What End? 282). And now the practical and theological begin to merge (not that these two are poles apart to begin with).

You know why hermeneutics, exegesis, and biblical/theological studies matter? Because they are deeply relevant to the lives we live every day. Yes, there are those who would seek (and do accomplish) to relegate these disciplines to “strict academia.” Sometimes this happens here, at this small little Bible Institute in downtown Chicago. Sometimes this happens in my own mind and heart, where I begin to learn how to bounce terms around but might forget why the terms matter for the man bouncing over the cracks in the sidewalk in his wheelchair.

Biblical exegesis “does not deal merely with individual books but also with the relations between them (doing biblical theology)” (Snodgrass 206). There is a great big story told by Scripture—it’s often called the grand “metanarrative.” Our lives are important because they are our own little stories—our personal “narratives.” But, our lives really only make sense when they are understood in light of the metanarrative. They are truly important because they fit into the bigger story of a God who lives and works in and between people.

So, after work (and 2 hrs. in the quiet house to think, pray, and wonder) I crawled into a taxi that would take me home. “Hello, how was your evening?” he asked. I smiled. “It was nice.” His name is Amin and he is from Pakistan. His wife and son are over there now and he will soon be with them again. He hopes to bring them back here but doesn’t know how. He thinks it is great that I am in school, and that I am interested in working with refugees someday. We talked about Chicago in the winter and how different it is from both Pakistan and Arizona. We laughed together. We shook hands. We were friends for 15 minutes.

I stepped out of the cab onto the sidewalk in front of Jenkins. Jenkins. Moody. Sigh. This is home right now. I am really glad this is home right now. I am so glad to be here. I am gifted to learn about hermeneutics, exegesis, and all the other “terms” and I pray—as often as I can—that God will preserve in me a heart that is soft and moldable, that seeks to integrate theology and biblical studies; the terms with the “real” life we live every day…and I consider this a very, very, important task.

Thank God he made us to be learners. Thank God for his patience with us as learners. Thank God for teaching us how to learn. Thank God for his gentleness with us as we learn.

well, the popcorn is out of the microwave and it is roommate time :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

there is the dream

i really love You've Got Mail. maybe its because i love the colors of New York or the small little "shop around the corner" bookstore. maybe it's because the story is lovely; or because i identify a lot with kathleen kelly (meg ryan's character). i was thinking about this movie yesterday because there is a scene in a restaurant in which kathleen's ex-boyfriend asks, "what about you, is there someone else?" to which she responds, "no. no, but there's the dream of someone else."

i remembered the quote, actually, because i was thinking about traveling, not about a "someone." i took the kids to get their passport pictures taken yesterday and the man asked if i needed mine taken, too. I said, "no." it was as if someone had asked, "what about you, are you going anywhere?" and all I could say was, "No. no, but there is the dream of somewhere." it was the idea of moving on that struck me.

i don't know where my life will take me. i have a lot of dreams for it. sometimes i wonder if i have too many dreams. this makes me think of another scene from You've Got Mail in which kathleen writes,

"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void."

that's how i feel right now. yesterday in senior sem. i got thinking about the things I enjoy and the things I am "good" at (or growing to be good at). "Regardless of what you really enjoy, what other tools do you see in your toolbox?" This was the challenge. and i thought about my internship...and how freaked out i am about it. because for me, this assignment demands integration of almost everything I've learned here in school. It is a big step "forward" in my heart, mind, and thinking about (my) life. It is learning to "bring thinking through the door, instead of leaving it at the door" (Dr. Schmutzer). It is intimidating and exciting; thrilling and terrifying. It is overwhelming and exhilarating--because I recognize the weight of the issues but also feel the importance of their study and life. sigh. i just need to get the ideas cemented down a bit more--they are too abstract and in my mind, so I get frustrated easily.

my life does feel small. oh so valuable but small. do you ever wonder about your purpose in life? if you are really affecting any great change or promoting good? sometimes i wonder...

(you're going to get sick of this reflective crap, huh? haha. sorry! actually no, i'm really not...there are times in life that are necessary times of reflection and this is one of them. i can't apologize for it).

Monday, January 11, 2010

and then i smiled

today was kind of a strange day. but there were unexpected moments of peace and rest in which i stopped, smiled, and expressed a heartfelt thanks for life's little joys--like a letter from a friend in cpo; or a call from my sister. today i realized, again, that i am on the older end of things here. realizations such as this one really make me "ready" to leave. it feels like high school sometimes, which is not really very fun.

i wish i could be taking the classes i am now with the "fresh" energy I had over four years ago when i started college. why is it that we finally get into the subjects we thrive in most when we've expended our energy on the "other" classes. oh, this is disappointing...alas.

last night i went to a "fiesta" with whitney and matt at tarah's apartment. it was amazing. we watched nacho libre (which for some reason i once hated but now find so hilarious).
tonight lacy made dinner for emily, danielle, elizabeth, matt, and i. it was great to hang out with fun, "new" people to laugh and talk with. good times.

ok. I need sleep. goodnight, world. i will see you in the morning.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

thoughts from the kitchen floor

“…we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” I Thessalonians 5:14, 15.

Read this while sitting one the kitchen floor this morning with my cup of tea. I told you I love my mornings :)

I am struck by the verbs: admonish, encourage, help, be patient, do (good). For the second half of last semester I felt like my heart was being tenderized to live a truer and deeper love/compassion for people in my life (whether or not I call him or her “friend”). It’s easy to get used to those around us, isn’t it? Our routines become “old hat” and the people we see everyday are not always new or exciting, they just are. How can we live new expressions of love and compassion for these?

I find it necessary to understand something of what love looks like in the mind. For me, this is where things simmer. I’m a thinker. I mull things over. I think about people. How often do we consider our thoughts as a form of loving action?
My perceptions of people, held deep in my own heart and mind, are not always right or true, and yet I base everything on those perceptions, allowing them to dictate how I think about, act towards, and pray for people.

I am remembering how God wrung some of these poor understandings of myself and others, revealing what it might mean to actually see people as image bearers, carriers of life, endowed with a certain grace and glory. Viewing people with these new eyes changes everything. Sometimes it causes me to tremble a little. I can’t think too casually about interacting with my roommates on a Friday night or shrug off a friends’ need to be with someone. Does this make sense? Even fun and “simple” things like a night on the town or an afternoon at home with family take on new meaning, for we are always interacting with people who bear the divine stamp.

We are all so thirsty for relationship and community. We are poor at living healthy relationships and weak in living honest community. I find myself so utterly and completely plea-full for new expressions of His faithfulness in promoting health among us—His working redemption into this needy creation is a remarkable thing…and we take part in it everyday as we admonish, encourage, help, be patient, seek, and do good…

Friday, January 08, 2010

great God, run ahead of me

i've been a bit "unsure" for the past few days. with an internship that explores the biblical theology of global violence and suffering, a directed study on the biblical theology of sin, one on the healing ministry of Christ, and a TA position that has me reading work for a class on the theology of suffering, i've done some thinking about how to "absorb" these things during the semester...and how to absorb well. God's done a remarkable (and ncessary) work of teaching me how to handle burdens and passions in healthy(er) ways, but there is always more work to be done, right? I've prayed to Him as the one who goes before--recognizing that, even now, he goes before me into a semester that holds steep challenges and great emotional weight. i believe strongly in these subjects--and recognize the need for their inclusion in christian life and faith--but i also know when i (personally) need to "let go" for a little while and take a break. i've been studying these areas for awhile now but never so much at one time. I've already determined to allow myself some "breathing space" on the other end (that is, less "study" for awhile and more just sitting on stuff).

i just pray--with as much of my heart as i am able to corral into concentration--that God would tear down the un-truths in my soul and build in their places a truer understanding of his redemptive plans and purposes in the life of the world, the faith of his people, and the souls of the lost.

now for the main reason i'm sharing this: i was thinking about this last night and found myself sitting on the couch flipping through an old Bible that i had with me in Africa. i came across this verse and had to write it up somewhere where i will see it often. all nuances of the issues aside, this verse is a great comfort: "when the earth quakes and its people live in turmoil, I am the one who keeps its foundations firm." (psalm 75:3)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

to make you smile

a few pictures from mom and dad's visit this week :)

i always knew that mom went through a phase of really wanting to be an astronaut. well, what i didn't know is that she actually wrote nasa a letter in junior high, asking why they didn't "accept" female astronauts. she even heard back from them...what she calls a very "sexist letter," explaining why astronauts should be men and females shouldn't be involved in such a field, etc. she lost the letter(s) through the years. wouldn't it be cool if she still had them? my how times have changed.

i spent some time knitting tonight. ah, it was very pleasant. how i love crafting...
check out this "craft room" from the SouleMama blog: amazing. i can't imagine what it would be like to have a room like this. I mean, i'm nowhere near her level or quality of work, so i'm not in "need" of such a space...but even just looking at it makes me smile. what a wonderful space for dreaming and creating.
maybe i'll put together a box of inspiring, creating sorts of things :) that will do.

today was a good day. i got to talk to Mariah and Sarah on the phone. sigh. i miss those girls so much. i would give almost anything to live near them--to be able to get together for a meal, to watch a movie or a show, to adventure together, laugh together...someday, we hope :)

i'm off to bed. goodnight.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

honey ginseng in my favorite mug (and this book of a post)

this is the first time i feel like i am "wading" into a new semester. usually i feel like I am all in and all wet at once--i fly back to chicago from some break (be it christmas or summer) and i'm off the plane for a day, maybe, before classes start. this time around i came back the week before to work. a whole week before classes start. time to think, pray, wonder, prepare, clean, organize, unpack, order textbooks, and think about what *good* habits I want to initiate at the start of the semester.

mom and dad stayed a few days after dropping me off (sunday). they left tonight. we went to the museum of science and industry yesterday (it was a free day!) and the shedd aquarium today (also a free day!). we walked a lot, spent too much time in the bitter cold, but enjoyed each others company. i love my parents. a whole lot. we also had the whole drive down from the u.p. (about 8 hours). we shared good, much-needed, conversation during that drive. sigh. i am grateful for these days.

so yes, i'm "wading in." I have known for quite some time now that this semester will be a busy one. i mean, who really WANTS to take 19 hours, work, and volunteer teaching english all at the same time? not to mention balance church, personal rest and soul-development, friendships, and faith? sounds almost impossible, eh? well, not really. but the break was a good time of thinking about practical things like what Andrea actually can and cannot do, what she should and should not do, etc. I've come to the conclusion that I will be able to "do" the semester but I need to be, every minute, aware of why I do what I do here, and what aspects of what I "do" here are most important, if that makes sense...? I need to start out strong. I recognize a needed grace to begin well, with my heart in a place that only my Lord can teach it to be. So I've taken to prioritizing my time and commitments, sacrificing little "luxuries" (that are more like distractions anyway), like facebook (yes, I will soon be deleting my account for the semester). You know, we just fill our days with so much. An old friend of my parents said today, "I think one of the enemy's greatest weapons in this day and age is the promotion of the busy life." I'm glad he said that. I'm glad I heard that. and it got me thinking...

Is there a difference between living full and living busy? I think so but I'm right in the middle of learning it myself, so i can't tell you what it is.

I'll share a few of my ideas for "simplifying" life as I face a loaded semester...

talk with God. this happens naturally here when I am working--I think I've mentioned before how much I love using that walk to and from the train stations, as well as the jerky ride along the EL, to talk with God in my head. I am almost always full and contemplative during those times and it is wonderful to journey as if He were in the seat beside me or walking the same icy sidewalks through town.

write. i am a person who needs to write. some of you are, too, so you need to find ways to bring this delightful gift and "promoter of health" into your days. For me, this means writing on my blog, in my journal, letters to far-away-friends, and scratching down simple and messy prayers to a God that always hears, even when I deeply doubt that He does.

pray. and, specifically, i know that this semester I need to actually go to a place to I've determined to spend more time in that lovely little prayer chapel on Culby 2, because I love that room and I am at peace in that space.

craft. this will most definitely include knitting (hello, Founder's Week 2010!). I'm still working on the socks and i want to start a new hat pattern. luke also bought me some lovely paper for christmas--all kinds for collaging and creating :)

eat right. i learned last semester that i need to eat a lot of FRESH foods when 1) I am busy and or stressed 2) the world outside is dull, frozen, and grey. this also includes more tea than coffee and EVEN MORE water than anything else. Did you know that you work and move slower when you aren't s drinking enough water? I am dehydrated far too much of the time.

vitamins. plenty of Mr. C with a healthy dose of D thrown in (since we don't see the sun very much in these cold winter months).

exercise. I've wanted (at times even planned!) to run a 5k with Lacy for a looong time. I want to do it before graduation. Also, tiffany and I have excitedly decided to swim a few times a week. I am going to alternate with running (since I would rather swim than run, but i do want to run...). tiff has a toga dvd that i want to try to use twice a week or so for my back.

read. i know i'm not going to have any time for "leisure reading," but that's ok because a lot of my reading for classes this semester fits into that category anyway--I can't complain. with all the reading for my internship, my plate is full and overflowing. i have my heart weakly and haltingly set on a few different biblical books for the semester. I always commit impulsively to the study of a book (which i inevitably fail to follow through on, as a result) and this time i really don't want to do that. so i'm sitting quietly on the options for a little while.

sabbath. realistically, I know that i cannot say "sunday is my 'day of rest,' and i won't 'do' anything on that day." For more reasons than one, I don't think that is a smart or biblical approach anyway. but i do want to create some sacred space on my sundays, in particular. morning or evening, i haven't decided...

friends. these are both people that are here--i can sit and look at a face--and people far away--a voice will do the trick! i have people in my life that i love to live life with, and i won't easily give that up. God continually has to teach my how to journey with these people in healthy ways. i am grateful for coffee dates, holding hands to pray, listening, being listened to, adventuring through the city, long phone conversations, quick "i miss you" texts, and other expressions of life lived together--the happy and the sad, the carefree and the serious, the "deep" and the "shallow," dance parties and life lessons.

last but not least: MORNINGS. I have a 9am MWF but nothing till 2pm TR this semester. which means...i have glorious mornings to enjoy!! i absolutely love mornings. i like sitting with a cup of hot tea in front of the window--even if it's only for 5 or 10 minutes. silence and the stillness are wonderful company. please, invite them sometime :) that "too many" ideas? too much "structure?" I don't think so. I feel really good about this...and God's been whispering some of these things into me for awhile now. i think this is part of learning to develop a theology of rest.
i recognize the much-needed grace for the task. the Spirit is the most faithful One to journey with. and i am wading into an ending and a new beginning. i am well aware of how deep in need of Him i am.

What are ways that you know you need to live so that you might promote a healthier life--a rested soul?

[keeper of our steps, teach our feet the path. seer of our squandered love, ravish us again. healer of our secret wounds, remind us of your care. lover of our bloodied hearts, hold us in all our different moments.]

well, i need to go pop this mug of tea in the microwave. it has gotten cold :)
sending some warm love to you this cold january night!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

in small ways recognized

sometimes God's faithfulness is "big" but comes to us in "small" ways.

i keep forgetting to thank you all who were thinking of me and praying for my back appointment over break. great news--my back is STRAIGHTER than it was, which is rather remarkable. the doctor was really pleased. my upper curve is 25 degrees down from 28 and my lower curve is 19 degrees down from 21, i think those were the numbers (?). woohoo! he just told me that it's important to maintain good flexibility--he told me to start doing yoga :) i think it would be fun to take a class. but i really wanted to take kick boxing this summer so we'll have to see. maybe the smarter thing would be to buy a yoga dvd. probably.

anyhow, I am quieted to be the recipient of His recognized presence walking with me through these years. I still can't really believe i went in for my 5 year check up and it was better. usually there is a slight "getting worse." hmm.

Friday, January 01, 2010

tired on ten hours?

i got ten hours of sleep last night, why do i feel this pooped? ugh, i get frustrated when i feel so tired after having had so much sleep. oh well.

today was a great day. we went out to the kuiper's new house on lake superior (misery bay area). it is a gorgeous little house/cottage tucked away in the woods on the high shoreline. they have "the great room," which is just lovely--all wood and windows with a small stove in one corner. then there is their master bedroom, another "guest" bedroom, and the basement with washroom. through the trees out the back you can see the lake, cold and foreboding in the winters but (no doubt) delightfully enticing in the warm summers. we sat and talked drinking tea and eating left over christmas cookies. i will always remember gene as the one who devoted such sincere time to me that summer we lived here before I started high school. she recognized a relatively friendless and insecure teen and befriended me. we spent a few different afternoons together. i specifically remember walking the canal and getting macdonald's happy meals for lunch (she said "no one is ever too old to get a kids meal").

listening to her today i was reminded why i love her so much, even though i hardly know her and never spend much time with her. she lives life with unashamed commitment, determination, and a certain settled contentedness. she seems to find real joy in any circumstance--she seems to suck enjoyment from life, but it is never fake or dishonest (this, my reader, i believe is quite rare). she's matter-of-fact about life and its realities. both her and don are now over 60. she doesn't apologize for growing old, though she does recognize the changes that come (some of them that do amount to a certain kind of sadness). she said "i just loved my fifties. sixty feels a little weird but i loved my fifties." this makes me smile. I hope i'm like that when i "grow up."

don is equally encouraging (even refreshing) to be around. he always maintains what seems to me to be a very healthy understandings of the "carefree." he can joke and laugh on one hand but express equal measures of genuine care, concern, and "seriousness" when a particular situation calls for it. he truly is all kinds of sincere.

i think the kuipers just kind of epitomize what you would call "wise" or "seasoned." They never seem old to me--only wiser, stronger, richer. they are always encouraging and refreshing to be around. they told me that if i decided to come up to the u.p. for a break i could bring friends out to their cottage. wouldn't that be fun! :)
so...the HIGHLIGHT of today: snowshoeing with the kuipers. i've ever been but have wanted to for a long time now. it's been one of those things on my life's list of "to do's." i decided that i would really enjoy (for a time of my life) living somewhere that gets a good winter, with woods to tromp around in (and, of course, at that point i will invest in snowshoes :)).
we walked through the woods chatting off and on, admiring the snow-graced trees, climbing over logs, and taking in the glorious winter atmosphere. absolutely breathtaking. i'm telling you, it was good for my soul. remember how i mentioned my prayer that break would be good in ways i didn't know it needed to be? today was one of those "ways" and i am grateful for that. God is good to give simple gifts like these.

i. love. snowshoeing.