Monday, May 31, 2010

on my way to work...

i see many things.
i am lucky to have a job that i can walk to--and through such a fun neighborhood!

you know that your day starts out right when, leaving the house, you witness a three-way squirrel fight in the big tree out front and jump when one of them screeches, falls a good ten feet out of the air, and lands on the top of that black car out front. WHAM! haaaaahahahahaa. the other two jump down, there is LOTS of screeching, and they all scurry off. I laugh. i wonder what the fight was about. and i keep walking.

i round the corner to find a line of 15-20 people waiting for the local Village Discount to open. yes, it's a great little thrift store, but 8:30am on a Monday?! weird. what made me smile most was the fact that most all of them were speaking spanish. I love moments like that when i'm reminded of Mexico and suddenly feel like i'm somehow "at home" with these dear people. i think i'm getting anxious for a visit to the Sierra Madre. but my life is in illinois right now. that seems strange to me sometimes.

i have the day off work after all. i got there and no one was home--somehow we miscommunicated about today. oh well. i went to trader joe's to get groceries for the week. have i told you that i decided awhile ago that every time i get groceries there i must try something new (since the place is full of so many wonderful things)? two weeks ago the pick was their flaxseed and hemp tortilla chips. new favorite: yum. today i got a package of frozen mango chunks for summer smoothies. I also stocked up on a wider range of fresh fruit: cantaloupe, grapefruit, bananas, apples, and strawberries. I've decided I need to get more fresh things in me when the weather is so hot and thick. it helps, trust me.

i am going to read Waltke's OT Theology for awhile before starting in on more cleaning/organizing. when lacy wakes up i might convince her that we should stop on over to the Village Discount to see what all the monday fuss is about--maybe its something I'm not in on...

i hope today has been as delightful for you as it has been for me by 10:30 in the morning. seriously, that squirrel fight was amazing. wish you could have seen it. sigh.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

summer is here

only two weeks into summer and i can say that i have...

gone on a roadtrip (a few, in fact)
planted tomatoes and a pot of basil and thyme
enjoyed a 312 (the only beer i've decided i can say i "like")
eaten a hot dog
collected lakeshore stones and driftwood
begun summer letter-writing
enjoyed backyard "make believe" with a 5 and 9 year old
gone kayaking on a pond
aided in the capture of a beautiful painted turtle (and watched the delight of two little boys who held it captive in a bucket on the beach for awhile)
jumped into a lake on a summer night
gone slacklining
begun summer reading
gotten sunburned
...the list goes on a bit...
the point is, things are off to a very pleasant start :)

here are a few of Jake's pictures from the trip to the U.P.

I absolutely love this one. haha. this was mom and dad's first house after they were married. it's now being turned into a "historic home" up near the old copper mine...crazy.
the Calument Water Works. This is one of the world's most beautiful beaches, I'm convinced. breathtaking shoreline...

out near our Coles Creek house:
the bridge! man, I love this place...
and there is much yet to look forward to. these are good days.
oh, and i mustn't forget, i also became an aunt "again."
i can hardly wait to see these two in July...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

welcome to the neighborhood

have i mentioned how much i love our new neighborhood? aaaah, it's absolutely wonderful. it is quiet and quaint and feels "small town." in the mornings, people are out walking dogs, chatting at starbucks, eating breakfast at any of several local diners/cafes--its great. i smile almost every time i walk or drive through :) the Trader Joe's is full of wonderful people that i consider "friends" in some way simply because they 1. live in the neighborhood 2. seem like people i'd be friends with 3. shop at trader joe's (of course).

i am currently at starbucks sitting in a booth (it is a converted restaurant so it is especially wonderful and unique). i'm writing the last paper of my Moody career. it's true, i have one more to finish up before grades are due on the 31st. i've been working on this one in my head and heart all semester--The Problem of Sin and the Image of God: Sin's Consequences for Life and Faith. i spent some time in Moody's library this morning as a "visitor" (so read my parking permit and ID). so strange. it is the weirdest feeling driving downtown now days. suddenly my life in Chicago is so different. changed forever. i am excited about the ways in which my existence in this big city is changing, it's just a little awkward--like an outfit half grown into...

it's been in the 80's and humid. this girl from the west knows NOTHING of how to survive the humidity. basically i just get grumpy. sorry, world, i will try to get over it. sigh. who ever thought you could take a shower at 7am and need another by 9am??!! YUCK. we don't have air conditioning either. last night we put the window unit in our bedroom which helped IMMENSELY. we can now sleep at night. bonus! otherwise we hang out downstairs most of the time because it is possibly 10 degrees cooler down there.

last night was Monday night at Waterhouse. It's a favorite place--$3 burgers and $3 beer of the month on Mondays. Lace and I have been addicted to their burgers for awhile. mmm. i should give a shout out to their sweet potato fries. yum.

summer reading thus far includes a re-reading of The End of the Affair. that book entirely shook my world the first time I read it. i still remember coming back from starbucks after having finished it, feeling like i had just met with God (at starbucks!!!??!). the book is (among other things) a remarkable picture of God's fidelity and our frustrating infidelity. it's a raw and refreshing kind of honest.

i'll let you know what else I decide to pick up this summer. i have high hopes for good reading :)

how are you enjoying the first days of summer? i pray with sensitivity to how God will live with you these months, pulling and pushing you in new ways on these summer days. also, i pray for refreshment and enjoyment. live full these bright, brief and blessed days!

[p.s. i am an aunt times 2! little baby girl mcgee (yet to be officially named) was born sunday at 1pm, happy and healthy. i am so excited to see her in July!! pictures soon to follow...]

Saturday, May 22, 2010

and "the world spins madly on..."

It's already been a week since graduation. I think the Weepies were onto something when they sang "the world spins madly on..."

I'm in the UP for the weekend at my Grandma's. This was possibly the best place for me to be this weekend--to reflect the end of college and to anticipate the "beginning of life" (not that it is only just starting but you know what I mean).

I met Jake in Wisconsin after work on Thursday and we drove till after 3 in the morning to get here. It was a great drive and a good chance to spend some time together catching up. We managed a few hours of sleep but couldn't really sleep the day away because Jake had to leave Friday night to be back in Wisconsin to shoot a wedding. It was more of a whirlwind trip for him--but so good even though brief.

We went out to Calumet Waterworks and walked along Lake Superior. There are few things more wonderful than enjoying the raw beauty of the world's "hidden places." The rocks, the birch bark scraps strewn across the sand, the lapping water, the soft breeze. There is something so breathtaking--so pure--about it. Such moments of enjoyment provoke deep thankfulness in awareness of what a gift this life is and how remarkable the opportunity to enjoy and share it.

The reality of graduation is settling in. In other words, I find myself experiencing strange moments of sadness coupled with sudden moments of great excitement and unbridled joy. Life is so uncertain. Life is so "available" (open, unknown) and full of opportunity. Life is so unpredictable.

I've decided to spend time this summer intentionally placing myself at the feet of the Lord surrendering thoughts, dreams, hopes, and questions about life/future. The "in between" times of life (summers, breaks, etc.) have often been really hard but also full of remarkable growth and change. So, I sort of timidly and whole-hearted hopefully await what is to come :)

Graduation weekend was really wonderful. It was fast but good to have mom and dad around as well as good friends (got to spend time with sarah briefly and mariah a few extra days). Enjoy some pictures of the weekend! I'll try to put up pictures of the new place soon. We are getting more and more settled and I absolutely love how much it already feels like home. It is a blessed space for living and we are so thankful to God for his goodness in providing it. His faithfulness has been demonstrated in such tangible ways.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

our home

i'm in the new place! it's lovely. we have a library. yes, it's true. sigh. once there are no boxes lying around i will take pictures to post. in the meantime, you just have to trust me. it's cute :)

the morning sun comes in through our living room windows and subsequently floods the kitchen floor with the perfect amount of sunlight. with tea and/or my bible and a book, this is soon to be a favorite spot. the neighborhood is wonderful. quiet, quaint, and lots of cute shops, restaurants, and small bars/pubs. i look forward to making this home for the year.

summer has started with a rush. this week has been so busy with packing, moving, cleaning, unpacking, etc., and work on top of all of that. but this weekend will be a nice break. i'm leaving thursday night to drop tiffany off in milwaukee and then meet jake in appleton for a drive up north to visit grandma. unfortunately he has to be back down to shoot a wedding on saturday but i'll stay up there until sunday when mom and dad can then drive me back down.

i am eager for a break from the city, the open road, the shores of lake superior, the good company :) aaaah. the perfect "true" start to the summer, in my opinion. i'm going to start my first book of summer reading (haven't decided what yet but i'll let you know).

i have to run--off to play for children all day.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sleep, Where are You?

I'm so tired. So very, very tired. Next week I plan to sleep A LOT. aahh.

I've been so buried in writing papers and thinking and grading...whew. Yesterday my car was broken into and today I had to get the passenger window replaced. Life goes on :) It's been a difficult week as I am very nearly drained of energy--emotional, physical, spiritual. There is no way I would be able to keep on after this week but God has been faithful and gracious to help (miraculously) get me through these days. Jake has also been a huge help and encouragement. I am grateful. Tonight I can say that these are good days, even though I've been pressed and discouraged in many ways. This is the life I have right now and there is a lot about this time that is remarkable in its newness, possibility, and mystery.

I keep thinking back to the faithfulness of God. I can't ever seem to escape that one. He insists on branding my heart and soul with it.

Ok. Enough of a break for me--back to writing! I appreciate your prayers, friends...and so many encouraging texts and emails. Thank you!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

"rock me mama like a wagon wheel..."

I love O.C.M.S., have I ever told you so?

I have been in this library since 12:30 this afternoon until now (7:30pm) except for a 35 min dinner break. ugh. Because my motivation is diminishing by the day, it takes me 2(3)x as long to get anything done. Bother...

I think now it's time for Mason Jennings.

Friday, May 07, 2010

For you to read tonight (or some other time)

First, I direct you to Hallie's blog because this post is beautiful and a definite "must read" :)

Second, I'd like to share these words from George MacDonald...

"Therefore, O Lord, when all things common seem,
When all is dust, and self the center clod,
When grandeur is a hopeless, foolish dream,
And anxious care more reasonable than God--
Out of the ashes I will call to thee--
In spite of dead distrust call earnestly:
O thou who livest, call, then answer dying me."

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

days like this

days like this make me want to run from the routine and shed the world for a little while.

hard conversations with friends and family can put things in perspective fast and "unexpectedly." yet another reminder or two that life is lived in moments: small, meaningful, intentional moments. these simple choices and "ordinary" experiences can carry eternal weight and life-long significance. i've been reminded how my words and actions matter--and how truly i need the grace to live in relationship with others.

i read psalm 139 yesterday morning and was delighted to drink in all its beauty while i sat on my bed for a quiet 30 minutes before diving back into the rush of this schedule i'm living right now. the last part of verse 18 is kind of incredible: "I awake, and I am still with you." ah, yes, how truly i experience this. sometimes it is startling to find yourself "still with him," isn't it? and i am grateful to know that his presence accompanies us as we journey. it would be entirely impossible for us to experience a satisfied life and live its never-ending mysteries without finding ourselves "still with" Him who is the one with us.

so, i feel bad for people who have to communicate with me on a regular basis these days (maybe that includes you since i try to write things out as i process...haha, lucky you). i'm pretty sure i'm the world's most frustrating person right now...i can't articulate anything, i'm tired all the time, my focus is shot, and my attention span has got to be less than that of a 4 year old. oh goodness. i keep thinking that come June i will find my "renewed self." i pray for it. i have great hopes of rest and recuperation for this summer...and i have started praying now...i can hardly wait :)

graduating from college is tough work. or maybe i just overloaded myself this semester. yep, that's probably it.

goodnight all!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Wisdom from Strangers

So I've had a phrase running through my mind off and on since wednesday night: "Comparison is the thief of Joy."

Jake and I went to see Over the Rhine at the Evanston S.P.A.C.E. last wednesday, one of my favorite venues in the area (realized I've been there three times before for Peter Mulvey x2 and David Wilcox). It's a great little back room with beautiful exposed brick and limited seating, which means the shows are personal and intimate. I love that I can see facial expressions and feel the movement of sound through the wood floor. It's small and it's wonderful.
It was a great show.

I don't know the name of the female member of the band but she's cool. I think we could be friends if we ever had the chance. I'm pretty sure she sees the world in story/song and I resonate with the "story" part of that, which is probably why I appreciate their style of music and composition so much. Hmm. Anyway, they're older now but she recently got her first tattoo: "comparison is the thief of joy." Yes, for a tattoo I find it a little cheesy but what the heck, most tattoos are some form of cheesy cliche in their own way, right? I tend to think so.
She only mentioned it in passing and i think the phrase is rather profound, whether or not you decide to ink yourself with it. How easily we fall prey to the task of comparing ourselves to others. Seriously. How often? All the time. We are an insecure people, unsure of ourselves with others and even unsure of ourselves before God. But I've been thinking about confidence, joy, and the definitive self-worth that each of us possesses. I'm thinking again today of human flourishing and what it means to be 1. made in the image of God and 2. conformed to the image of Christ.

Another small bit of wisdom from a stranger came in the form of a phrase spoken this morning in church: "We are formed by the habits we live." I've been doing some renewed thinking/praying about the life I live--the way I live it and with whom I live it. It matters, you know, how and with whom you live life. I'm realizing that many of the very significant figures in my life--those friends who have eternally impacted me, continue to speak into my soul and shape my life--are far away from me. It's hard, sometimes, to realize that.

Distance is hard. I am grateful, though, that mutual forming/shaping can happen from a distance and so we continue to share life, we just have to be a little more creative and intentional. I love that I can shoot out an email, send a quick text, or write a real letter asking for prayer, sharing life's questions, wondering faith's tensions, and exploring today's joys and sorrows. Community and human flourishing. We become more and more aware as we live, I think, that there is a certain vibrancy that embeds our existence when we share it truthfully/wholly with others. To be authentically human is to be conformed to the image of Christ. We are most alive when we are committed to His kingdom "charter." God himself lives in community--a threefold name and life.

I sort of feel like I'm babbling now. Sigh. I will stop. Maybe some of that makes sense. But maybe it doesn't. Oh well. I need to get homework done. This week is going to be crazy. We got the keys to the apartment yesterday so on top of everything else we will be taking loads of stuff over there...oh goodness, these busy, busy days. But they are so good. Oh so good. I am very grateful for these busy good days :)