Monday, September 27, 2010

I'm from the Grand Canyon State

so if you're going to advertise a "canyon" at your state park, well, i might be a stickler about whether or not the hole in the ground actually qualifies as a canyon. yes, i'm going to belly-ache a little about this weekend trip we just got back from. i really do it in jest because, who doesn't finally just laugh about how ridiculous it is to go on a "hike" up stairs and over boardwalks with a plaque every hundred feet detailing your location. i suppose it comforts the city folk who might be a little uneasy in the great outdoors. mariah and i had many a good laugh on that walk. we are still laughing :) at least we're learning to appreciate the places we've been that are a little less tamed. i've done some more thinking about my trips up north this year and how much i just love lake superior. i'm all for the rugged beauty. it's been a great refreshment. AND, we're going in two weeks to visit Grandma again (if you don't cap your invitation you're going to get sick of me!!). I cannot wait.

mariah and i talked about doing a portion of the appalachian trail this summer. hmmm. i'd love it. there are so many things i really want to do "out of doors." i hope i get to sometime soon. i feel like i've been storing up talk and desire and now i'm ready to just get on with it! we talked about that this weekend, too. we want to stop saying "someday i will..." and "wish i could..." and just do it. gah! i get so excited just thinking about it. here i come, wide world!

the grand canyon is a must and maybe i can finally cash in on that father daughter trip to havasu falls (last time he had a hernia). isle royal is on the list for round 2. south america would be amazing. maybe i should start thinking a little bit smaller--yep, appalachian trail this summer.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

a needed kind of happy

this weekend mariah, erin, and i went camping. yes, it was a needed kind of "happy for my soul." we went to starved rock state park near utica, il. it was lovely. a midwest version of "the great outdoors" (which i'm discovering means more manicured trails/"hiking" paths than i'd like but i take what i can get :)). we collected some treasures along the way--mostly handfulls of acorns :) !!! we had fires and ate hobo dinners and made smores. we snuggled up on cold nights to keep warm and enjoyed crisp mornings (ok, this sounds like we were gone for a long time...two nights is all. haha. mariah and i on friday and erin joined saturday. but it was still wonderful). it rained and even that was wonderful because we could listen to it splatter on the tent and shake down off the trees. aaah, i'm telling you, it was just what we needed. we had good conversation and laughed a lot. we explored the park and explored the (sorta strange) little town. it was good to get away for a bit. this world is big and wide for adventuring and exploring. i want to do it. a lot.

also...everything smells like campfire. i love it.

and these. well, these were taken for Jake...

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Mine is a blemished life and nothing is exempt."

the above, penned by Walter Brueggemann, has been of good "comfort" to me today. truly, the book that I am currently reading of his (Finally Comes the Poet: Daring Speech for Proclamation) has been extremely insightful and a very profitable read during this particular time/station/season of my life. i didn't expect it to be nearly so, well, appropriate. i'm much too tired to write out anything coherent at this moment, but i wanted to send out that opening quote because it's made me think in small steps about God's grace in some new ways--you know, fresh ways (ever notice how stale "Gospel" becomes??). eventually i'd like to share more because i think it's worth it, i think it's necessary, and i know i'm not the only one who wrestles with the staleness--a "truth greatly reduced," as he frames it. so stay tuned. i'm off to read for awhile before bed :)

happy weekend to you all!! any exciting plans? i have brunch tomorrow with a few friends, a phone date with hungary, an afternoon and evening with the schnake's, church and the farmer's market (our CSA!!), and who knows what else...busy but wonderful, i'd say! hope yours is great.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

the week i've had

i guess i shouldn't write about my week on thursday afternoon. it isn't over yet. oh well...

it has been a busy one. it has felt so crazy and disjointed. it has required a lot of me (maybe because i wasn't at full strength to begin with). it has been full of the lessons of "growing up" which means dealing with uncooperative people, car insurances, serious budgeting and financial planning, registering my car in illinois, renewing the license plate, changing my drivers license (all of which are still in progress. long story but hectic day at the DMV, bleh. i have to go back tuesday because their system shut down. sigh). and work was a little stressful this week. maybe i just didn't have the energy to teach the many life-lessons that present themselves each day. I did some of it, though, and battled the tantrums and struggled to motivate the not-so-motivated little students to work on homework. sigh. it felt like sink-or-swim this week and mostly i thought i was sinking, but i managed. C and i enjoyed a game of backyard soccer yesterday, despite his unwillingness to let me help S with her math homework first. it was a "life lesson" that we didn't pass up because, in the end, he learned something really valuable (i think). Is this what it's like to be a parent?! sheesh, bless your heart mom (and dad) for all you put up with...and for all your patient teaching.

dad reminded me this morning that this year is good because it has provided itself as a time for me to learn a lot of really good lessons about being independent, paying bills and handling finances, and learning what it means to live all the (not-always-so-fun) details of daily life (and, i guess, 'adulthood'). which reminds me, it's been *so good* to hear mom and dad's voices after a month of their being in Mexico. i've been missing them a lot.

i keep catching myself wondering, in the middle of it all, where this is taking me and what this is all preparing me for. and what i'll do after this year for a job because, well, i don't know what i'm really qualified to do. but i suppose i'm getting ahead of myself. i'm living the year, first, right? hmm. alright, i guess that's the update.

off to do work and laundry and driving the kiddos to dance and swim. i do so love these kids, though, have i mentioned that? as hard as it can sometimes be when they don't listen or decide to do battle with me, i really do love them more and more all the time. and saying goodbye will be very hard...

tonight i start pottery. i'm sure i'll have something to say about it. i'm kinda nervous! but oh so excited :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

sweet woman

Jake took the beautiful picture that is now my new background last weekend while walking around his new city :)! Isn't it great? Something inside of me sorta "catches" every time I look at it. I think it's sweet and wonderful and I want to take her hands in mine and ask, "what's your story, sweet woman?" and, "would you share your soft, whispered prayers?" I imagine her hands are warm and she offers a tired smile and we sit together for a bit there on those steps...
...oh yeah, and i imagine i can speak hungarian or she can speak english. but those are minor details ;)

And now this quote is fitting. So glad Mariah reminded me of it and had me reread it today...

"I might seem to be comparing something great and holy with a minor and ordinary thing, that is, love of God with mortal love. But I just don't see them as separate things at all. If we can be divinely fed with a morsel and divinely blessed with a touch, then the terrible pleasure we find in a particular face can certainly instruct us in the nature of the very grandest love. I devoutly believe this to be true. I remember in those days loving God for the existence of love and being grateful to God for the existence of gratitude..." (from Gilead)

ummm, yep. that's pretty much exactly how i feel. there are things in this life too deep for words. they lie "out beyond ideas" and invite us to take part in a larger existence--to peek into a greater reality. it's one of my favorite things to discover this to be true of an experience, opportunity, or person (etc.) and smile into the day, loving God for love and grateful to him for gratitude--gifted moments. this week has been hard. really quite hard, and i know it has been hard for some of you as well. but there have been such gifted moments (as there always are, i think, though we can miss them if we aren't careful) and when the week is as this one has been, we have to hold really tight to those moments.

be watchful for the moments, k? hold tight to them. and enjoy how this photo (i find) binds mortal and divine love.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

life and family and home

i like this. it reminds me a little of our own family projects...that i mostly hated at the time but somehow now have fond memories of.


realized dreams are a beautiful thing--and encouragement enough for me that God walks the days with us. i've been grateful to Him in a hundred different ways and for a hundred different things. realized dreams and realized prayers. i am thankful He journeys with. these are wonderful days.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lead Kindly Light

"Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom, Lead thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home; Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene:
one step enough for me."
(John Henry Newman)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

snail shells and backyard baseball

there's something delightful about late summer afternoons in the backyard watching a five-year-old hit home run after home run. C and I played for a long time out back yesterday. the winds were gusty and even broke branches off the big maple but luckily we were unharmed ;) we found two small snail shells that were of interest to me but as soon as he found out that "there are no snails inside!" he threw them aside. haha. home runs are more important. i think he made...hmm...close to 20. he's a good hitter. it was a lot of fun.

in other news, a raise has sealed the deal for a trip to Hungary, i think (and is, needless to say, a huge blessing in general). the only tricky part now is finding a time that works best for several different schedules. the best dates (prob Dec sometime) don't work the greatest for the family I work with...praying that something will come together that works well for all parties involved.

i got all my books for fall reading and will now work on some sort of reading schedule. i can't choose one to start with. oh, the dilemma :)

yesterday i collected my first two fallen leaves of the season. they're that beautiful mix of green and early yellow with orange. aah, so lovely. fall is spectacular. i tell you, it is a season that truly does my soul good.

i've been knitting up a storm--learning a few new techniques and improving old ones. i'm hoping to try some more difficult patterns this fall. we'll see. yesterday i visited my favorite in-city yarn store: SisterArts. that place is wonderful.

in closing, i'll just say that during the past few days i've been thinking a lot about love. in particular, what it looks like and involves to love someone (romantic and not). what does love demand? what does love offer? what does love teach? what ought love look like? etc. etc. i guess i've been rethinking God's love (which sometimes seems so hard to comprehend and, even, experience. but most of the time, i find i'm blind to it--and he's patient enough to break through my limited demands of what i think his love should look like. his love is surprising). and i think i'm realizing in new ways that His love really is the only place my love can start--which has a lot of implications, especially when i don't understand His love. But even if I can't understand it (or if i tend to misunderstand it), can't it propel me to love others? love is so hard and so beautiful. and feeling yourself love another is frightening, because it's such a vulnerable position. and loving someone takes work. but it's somehow so beautiful.

CS Lewis writes,

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

Monday, September 06, 2010

no "laboring"?

currently listening to: Jon Troast

It's Labor Day morning and I'm sitting here waking up on our couch, thinking about what a strange holiday this is. I started thinking about it when yesterday, in prayers for the people, we prayed for those who live and work in unfair living conditions around the world. Labor Day has always seemed like a weird holiday, "hey, let's all not go to work one day and call it 'labor day'." huh.

Most of the world could never afford the luxury of just taking a day off. Last night at a church event we listened to a couple who had just come back from a summer in Niger--hearing them reminded me of the ways of life I lived and observed in Mozambique (in particular). There is no day without labor--they wouldn't think of it. Livelihood depends on a long, hard day of work. I think the idea of a "holiday" to not work would be unthinkable, almost laughable.

So maybe you have this Labor Day off, like I do. I hope you take time to think about the privilege it is to have a day like this, use it well, and shed some of the entitlement that we can easily express during such times ("you have to work on Labor Day--I'm so sorry!") There's a world out there struggling to get food on the table and we live in such plenty. I hope God makes us a grateful and generous people.

Friday, September 03, 2010

i really like lamp light

maybe because it makes a room "cozy," but who really knows. sometimes i feel as though i "really like" strange things...but what can i do? i can't help myself :)

the most amazing smells are coming from our kitchen. i'm making Food and Wine's "Winter Vegetable Chili." I know it isn't winter yet, but it seems more like a fall-ish recipe anyway (carrots, parsnips, bell pepper). It looks (and smells) soooo good. I love making soups/stews. with homemade bread? mmm. sometimes i wish i was at home so i could practice more recipes and have people to eat the food. it's hard cooking for one...

it's a gorgeous night: i'm wearing sweats and a sweatshirt and still get the shivers every once in a while. it feels nice to need a few extra layers.

mom just sent me some excerpts from a book she's reading about Sabbath and the concept of rest. i look forward to reading them.

i got together with Whitney today--a new friday ritual (to visit and pray). i love having her to pray with--she has taught me so much about God over the past few years. i feel indebted to her.

today i've been thinking so many wonderful and challenging things. such truth really does provide freedom (but why do we tend to backtrack to the bondage of all that is untrue?)...and people are remarkably invested with dignity and worth, but we don't often honor and respect that in one another. there is a certain sacredness about people, you know? this has me thinking and praying in new ways these days.

well, i don't really have a point to this post. just scattered thoughts, i suppose. tonight my heart is full of hope. for no real apparent reason, but it is quite wonderful.

goodnight, all.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

the rain has kept me in

this morning was going to be my self-assigned field trip here but it is pouring rain (pouring) and i don't feel like navigating the city and the expressway in this weather. besides, i've been out and about and busy all week and it's nice to stay inside. the breeze in through the windows is misty and i can hear the rain spluttering and splattering as it hits the street and sidewalks. mm, wonderful.

so, i think it's a reading/crafting day. i've found a few projects for Santa's little elf to begin in anticipation of the holiday season (if you want to make your presents, you have to think about them ahead of time). so I might begin some of those. two books arrived yesterday so i might get started on my "studies." the next few days are supposed to be cooler so i might make bread!

tuesday night i escaped the city for wisconsin--lovely little gettaway full of crafting, adventuring, love, and blessing. it was wonderful to be with them, strange as it was that jake wasn't there. i'm scheduled for another visit in a week or so. can hardly wait. until then, it's work and city living...and i am actually enjoying it. yesterday was a fun day of playing with C. I pushed him on the swing and gave him "under-dogs" till he laughed and giggled. we made small note cards at the dining room table for awhile while S read her book on the sofa. they're good children and i am happy to work with them. i'm trying to think of fun autumn crafts and projects...hmmm. if you have ideas, let me know!

on another (although semi-related) note, my children will have wood(en) toys. None of this plastic crap (or, at least, in great moderation). there are so many beautiful toys to make from wood and lasting things--materials that are much more aesthetically pleasing, won't talk at you or sing obnoxious songs, and will handle much more "naturally" to the touch of little ones. needless to say, i will make them if i have to. there are so many patterns, directions, and ideas out there. we ought to be more creative with our little ones ("our" as if I have any. i know, but working with them on a daily basis provides some grounds for opinion, right?!).

off to be productive. happy thursday!