Tuesday, June 29, 2010

life will get ya

there are days when life feels a little like a slap in the face. it's almost as if it decides it needs to remind you of something, "hey, remember me--life? yeah, i'm still here." it's not even that we forget we are living (maybe we do, i don't know) but more like we forget that life is what it is: a sore throat in the morning when you felt fine the night before, a cough that won't go away, word of discovered cancer in a family member, a split-second car accident (yes, this happened today. sigh). life steps in boldly in these moments--very painfully in some of them--and reminds that things are short, time moves fast, we don't know what the next moment holds. all we have is a whole lot of "now's" strung together to make this thing called life. And i'm reminded that i want to live my now's well. I want to remember to treasure the simple things, to banner the eternal things, to hope for the wholeness of things, to rest in the mystery of things.

This week has been a little pebbly--several unexpected happenings to kick things off. I'm still trying to chip away at my psychology class. I have a lot to get done in a short amount of time. I still feel like I need a break from school but then I'll be taking two classes in the fall. Sometimes I have mixed feelings about this.

I love living with Lacy and Mariah. I cherish times when we laugh together over stupid things, enjoy watching a movie, sit quietly around the kitchen thinking and talking about life's hard realities, and listen to each other cry when the days bring tears. I keep praying that God will make this year a time of good fellowship and intimate community--the kind that can, yes, be uncomfortable but teaches the necessary and beautiful lessons of life. you know, those ones that infuse our days with a certain richness.

Last weekend was wonderful. I went up to Wisconsin on Thursday and enjoyed good time with Jake and his family. We climbed a beautiful old train bridge (i only made it halfway so I didn't actually climb the thing) on Friday. Mariah came up Saturday and we watched the U.S. vs. Ghana game together with Jake's grandparents. Sunday was a great summer day--big cookout at the house after church; roadtrip to Sheboygan for the Peter Mulvey concert.

We walked the Sheboygan lake shore for a while and then grabbed Thai before the show. It was at a great coffee shop full of character and comfy couches. There were only about 15 others there. he had played a 3 hr show earlier in the day and was visibly tired, including his voice, but it was still really wonderful and completely worth it. Thanks to Jake, I actually talked to the man. I know, crazy right? I don't normally do stuff like that. But i really wanted to hear Knuckleball Suite (seriously, its the summer song) and so Jake convinced me to go up to him after and request it. He had already left the stage and the shop had put on their own music. But I skittishly approached him and tapped him on the shoulder, "um, i have a random question. I drove up from Chicago for this [i know what you might be thinking but this is not entirely untrue] and I would really love it if you played Knuckleball Suite." he looked at me doubtfully, looked at the sound guy, and then back at me. "If it's too late, I understand." He turned back to the sound guy who said "what the hell," to which Peter Mulvey responded "what the hell!" and went back on stage.

Yes, he played Knuckleball Suite. hmm. it was beautiful. it was perfect. that song almost always makes me want to cry. i think he was really glad i asked him. he thanked me. that made me happy, because he truly did seem to enjoy playing it for us.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

As You Know

I've been reading Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. I'm really enjoying it. Just want to share a few quotes from the book.

"I do not at all understand the mystery of grace--only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us." Later she adds, "I don't know why life isn't constructed to be seamless and safe, why we make such glaring mistakes, things fall so short of our expectations, and our hearts get broken and our kids do scary things and our parents get old and don't always remember to put pants on before they go out for a stroll. I don't know why it's not more like it is in the movies, why things don't come out neatly and lessons can't be learned when you're in the mood for learning them, why love and grace often come in such motley packaging."

This morning I am cleaning, doing laundry, running a few errands, and packing for Wisconsin. I don't work today or tomorrow so I'm leaving the city. Mariah is taking the train up on Saturday and we'll explore the area while Jake shoots a wedding. Then, on Sunday is the Peter Mulvey concert. WOO! Good things ahead :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

the travel itch

i want to take a trip. i mean really take a trip. i'd like to tour America's heartland, stopping at local B&B's and no-name hotels with small diners attached. I want to explore the east coast--tour lighthouses, walk along undisturbed beaches, dig for clams. I want to explore the west coast--drive up highway one, camp on the beach, admire the redwood forests. i want to meet the people that make the character of these places and enjoy the natural beauty that defines these different parts of the country. i want to experience the difference in culture--food, dress, lifestyle. i want to pack a cooler full of food and throw a tent in the back of my car and go...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"i smiled at how you love this place..."

I thought it appropriate to quote Peter Mulvey right about now. First, because i am listening to him at this moment. Second, because i will be seeing him in concert again a week from Sunday. I never tire of listening to his music. Songs that tell stories that capture the moments of life, beauty of life, people of life, difficulties of life, experiences of life, hardly ever get old.

I've caught myself smiling a lot lately--smiling at how i "love this place" (i.e., wherever I happen to find myself at that moment): driving in the car (with someone or alone), admiring farm country (obviously when I am out of the city), walking down the sidewalk, smiling at strangers passing by, playing with little boys I nanny (teaching kids about life is included here :)), talking with friends, phone conversations, rock climbing, exploring new towns and cities, cooking, watering my plants (lame, maybe, but i like watching them grow), reading, smelling the rain, enjoying days without humidity (wonderful!), writing letters, praying questions (learning to be content with lots of unanswered ones), wondering about life, resting (trying not to be so restless as I do ;))...

I'm finally reading Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. It's really wonderful so far, I'm enjoying it. More thoughts as I get further into it :) For now it's just a great summer read and helping me rethink some things about living life.

Lately I've had days in which I feel really young--life is all new and fresh--and days in which I feel old--life is rushing past without me (some "this is it" and some "let's get on with it!" if that makes any sense). It feels a little strange to have both of these sensations but I'm confident the Lord has a purpose in these lessons I'm learning, thoughts I'm having, and experiences I'm living...now.

This weekend we're painting :) I'll be posting new pictures sometime next week, I'm sure. Can't wait...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

from my morning spot

(a.k.a., the chair by the living room window)

it's a gorgeous morning and the birds are chirpy in the trees outside. aaah. last night walking home from work i saw fireflies. in the city!! these are the marks of summer, and i am enjoying it very much :)

i didn't sleep very well last night because horns, fireworks, and noisemakers of all kinds kept waking me up. yes, the blackhawks won the stanley cup. WOOO!! our neighbors (he's a blackhawk) were t-peed last night. a few of the players were out front this morning cleaning up. they can play hockey but they cannot climb trees. it was pretty pathetic. and funny.

mondays and wednesdays are looong days at work. yesterday i took the little guys to Starbucks to visit Lacy at work. we packed a picnic snack. it was fun--they really are so cute. whenever I take them out, though, i end up having to explain to someone that "no, they aren't mine. i'm just the sitter." it's because we're all blondes. i'm sure i've mentioned before that I feel an immediate connection to blonde kids. we get along :)

if little boys get their energy from the diets they keep, then i should probably start slurping down dirty rain water and scavenging for stale cheerios in the crevices of...everything.
needless to say, i'm excited to have boys someday.

yesterday i played out back with S and C. it was so wonderful. we played corn in the hole, swung on the swings, and then i watched them skip around their neighbors garden for awhile. it was so bright and sunny and everything seemed green. a big butterfly landed on C but he didn't let it stay very long to which S exclaimed, "C! Those moments don't happen often. You really ought to have savored it!" and C asked, "What does 'savor' mean?" haha. they are so funny sometimes.

this is my morning off. i'm going to write a few letters, i think. i also need to do laundry and run a few errands. one of these days i should make bread. i also need to get cracking on my online summer course. i finally got the textbook in the mail a few days ago. i have until July 26 to finish it.

i'm almost finished re-reading the Great Divorce. goodness, this book is so fantastic. what are you reading? any suggestions?

I get more and more excited everyday for the visit to VA in July.

these days have been full but quiet, and i am grateful for that. God is a silent presence which can feel a little disconcerting at times. nevertheless, i'm experiencing Him in rich, simple ways and He knows what and how i need Him most as i learn to live and love.
isn't it interesting how we are always learning and relearning things? i suppose that's what it means to be made new.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

thoughts from a big fat book

"'Who am I?' is the fundamental question of our existence. Our self-identity is the window through which we perceive and engage the world; it determines all that we do. Our 'inscape,' using the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins's term, determines our landscape. This identity, or 'inscape,' is formed by two factors: memory and destiny. Without a memory a person loses identity, and without a history to sustain it, a society and the world around it become virtually phantom realities. Memories of our past inform who we are, shape our self-understanding, and give us a vision of our destiny, and that vision or hope moves us forward, forging our will and determination. If we suffered amnesia, forgetting our home and community, we would confess that we were lost, uncertain of our identity. Our collective history shapes our thinking; our sense of destiny moves us to reach beyond ourselves, motivating us to desire and to strive" (emphasis mine).
--Bruce Waltke, Old Testament Theology

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

the kitchen windowsill (and a quick tour of the big blue house)

i love the kitchen windowsill. why? you'll see...
And now for a brief tour. It's a rather cloudy day for pictures but many of you have been wanting to see the place. Here it is! Except for the bedroom, which is currently in chaos.

The nice big kitchen with lots of counter space:

The entry/living room (keep in mind that 1. we haven't painted yet 2. we don't quite have all our furniture 3. nothing is up on the walls...):

The library and spiral staircase. ahh, i really love this room. The light through that window is fantastic...
The upstairs (affectionately referred to as the "tree house") is home to our little family/tv room at the top of the stairs and our bedroom next door. it is cozy (hot in the summer but warm, we hope, in the winter)!

These windows (in the living room) are my favorite (actually, can i have favorites? the kitchen windows are great, too. i just really appreciate light :)). in the daytime, the sun shines through the green leaves of those big beautiful trees and throws shadows across the wood floor. at night, the street lamps cast an eerie glow through their branches and fill the room with quiet light. i told you, i love these windows.
That's our little home. God has been so good to us and we are very grateful :)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

woods and camping and family

this post makes me so happy: check it out!

lately i've been excited thinking about having kids. everyone has told me that being a nanny is the best form of natural birth control. this is true, sometimes, but it is also just such a fun opportunity to interact with kids, play make-believe, and learn a lot. i'm enjoying it very much. and i'm thinking and dreaming about my own family. someday. and it involves lots of adventuring.

seriously, check out that post. the pictures are wonderful :)