Hello. Welcome.

I'm a very determined kind of individual. Sometimes my determination is misplaced and things get very ugly. But, sometimes my determination leads to laughter, deep thoughts, and words on paper.

I write everything. I'm not very good at filtering ... so you will see it all. Maybe there will be a little inspiration for someone else along the way. I hope so. My sister also likes to guest blog and I'm sure you will appreciate her wit and wisdom.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I've MOVED!

Over to http://musingsinmontage.wordpress.com/. Come visit me there!

-Caroline

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Jesus, Savior, pilot me

I love hymns. I love hymns like I love traditions and tree roots and old friendships that remind you what it's like to be warm. I love hymns like a heritage uncovered and future realized.

Tomorrow, my parents arrive and the craziness of this week begins. I am thankful God slowed me down today (in the form of a very red eye, a doctor's visit, and prescription drops that warranted administering every three hours). I am thankful because I read a book (The Stranger by Albert Camus) and I took a nap (in a hammock) and I made a frozen banana/frozen strawberry smoothie (when they are frozen you don't need ice and it is more delicious) and I spent time with my Bible Reading Plan (much MUCH needed!) and I walked (home from the eye doctor and then ventured out once again between drop administrations) and I spoke with my mom (who was strategically packing and re-packing suitcases and responding to my strange requests) and I journaled (pen to paper is great therapy).

I am so thankful God is sovereign and knows when we won't admit our failures or our needs. In between some of these very slow-moving activities, I listened to hymns. This hymn, re-worked by Bifrost Arts (a new favorite collection of my already-fave artists), was actually written in 1871 by Edward Hopper, whose ministry was to sailors at the Church of the Sea and Land in NYC.

The words, well, they speak for themselves. Hopefully, they meet welcome ears... especially those who feel a bit cast about these days.

always

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

Jesus, Savior, pilot me

Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal.
Chart and compass come from Thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

While th’Apostles’ fragile bark
Struggled with the billows dark,
On the stormy Galilee,
Thou didst walk upon the sea;
And when they beheld Thy form,
Safe they glided through the storm.

Though the sea be smooth and bright,
Sparkling with the stars of night,
And my ship’s path be ablaze
With the light of halcyon days,
Still I know my need of Thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

When the darkling heavens frown,
And the wrathful winds come down,
And the fierce waves, tossed on high,
Lash themselves against the sky,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me,
Over life’s tempestuous sea.

As a mother stills her child,
Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boisterous waves obey Thy will,
When Thou sayest to them, “Be still!”
Wondrous Sovereign of the sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

When at last I near the shore,
And the fearful breakers roar
’Twixt me and the peaceful rest,
Then, while leaning on Thy breast,
May I hear Thee say to me,
“Fear not, I will pilot thee.”

Thursday, June 03, 2010

melodies and parodies

I like to be silly and creative and hopelessly sentimental. So, when Heather was here, we wrote up this little parody for our 11th grade girls. Last year we did a parody of "All the Single Ladies" and this year it is "Soul Sister." The funny thing is, when we do these parodies, we don't know the original songs, so we have to learn that as we are writing the parody.

So, here's the video - mess ups and voice breaks and random improvisational interludes and everything in between. Enjoy this little ditty - hopefully you will see how much we love these girls!

WORDS:
Heey Heeey heeeeeeeeeeeeey

Your sophomore year slipped away just like a dripping tear
You knew we wouldn’t forget you
and so we went and let you get inside our hearts
Your sweet, sweet smiles
and the laughter filling every single mile
We knew that when we started you’re the ones we have decided
this love will take us far

Hey, soul sister, forget those mista mistas in the barrios, don’t you know
the way you groove, just let it show
hey soul sister, please don’t miss a single moment of this life

Heey Heeeeeeey Heeeeeeeeeeeey

Just in time, we’re back together to celebrate this life
We’re searching out direction
in our lives we want affection, don’t even lie -ie-ieee
We’re so impressed
you’ve made it another year without a great big mess
We’ve got faith in you, you know it, girl now
you’ve to show your beauty inside

Hey soul sister, forget those mista mistas in the barrios, don’t you know
the way you groove - keep it free you know
hey soul sister, please don’t miss a single little moment of.... this life

(bridge?)
Well you can find the joy
deeper than any kind of speed
so gorgeous, just enjoy
the life God’s given you and the dreams
Just be yourself now finally
forget the lies and find the love sweet
the world won’t let you see

Hey soul sister, don’t let those mista mistas in the barrios, make you go
the way you’re made is for something great you know
Hey soul sister, please don’t miss a single little moment of ... .this life

Heey heeeey heeeeeeeeeeeey (this life)
Heey heeeey heeeeeeeeeeeey (this life)
video

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

i write, i dance

So, I don't know if any of you realize this, but.... May is OVER! It took me a whole day to get used to the idea. I'm pretty excited, now, though, because it means my parents come on Sunday, my sister a week after, and (with MUCH time hanging out with students in between) I'll be heading for a stateside tour on June 24. I'm not a big fan of countdowns (I'd rather count on today), but I do find myself a bit antsy for barbecues, family gatherings, road trips, and beaches.

Well, in my favorite bullet style, here is a rundown of what I've been up to (or some of it at least!)
  • My cousin Anna visited for TWO whole weeks! Other than a rough departure, the rest of the time was amazing! We even played in the junior high band concert because they needed more instruments! She wanted to experience life here and I think she did just that :) It was truly a blessing to have her and to see her big heart to serve and love and seek the Lord. In her searching, she also encountered an unbelievable amount of mosquitos, possibly a parasite, many rainy days, and an uncomfortable amount of airport hassle. It makes me love her even more to know that she enjoyed it despite everything that happened! This is an awkward junior high picture we took at the concert. Do we look like we are 20 and 25? Nope, I didn't think so!
  • I'm still reading through Luke with Mars Hill Church in Seattle and learning so much. Here is an interesting little piece on adolescence as we read about John. Kind of strong, but thought-provoking I thought.
  • Here's an article by Andreé Seu in WORLD magazine I read recently that really blessed me: http://online.worldmag.com/2010/06/01/friends-of-god/
  • THIS, my friends, THIS is a gem. Remember how I tried to write every day in may? I was inspired by Frenchtoastgirl for that challenge (by way of Christina).
    Well, now I'm going to try to become part of this little movement, started by Molly over at i dance the revolution
    She is trying to learn how to dance from her friend amanda and she wants us to be part of the revolution. I am pretty excited about it, especially because my college friends and I always talked about knowing a dance to do at all of our weddings. Just so happens that I have THREE of those weddings coming up in summer/fall and I would love to have this ready! :) Anyway, they post one video a week and the first 24 seconds looks HARD!
So, there's that. Oh, and I also am wrestling with some sort of parasite or tummy nuisance along with a ferocious red eye. Hopefully all of that will clear up in the morning, where we will go to school for the first time this week (classes canceled due to national emergency, courtesy of Agatha).

as always, friends,
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

rain

I know I am slacking, but here's another post for Every Day in May. I wrote this in a cabin on a mountain, listening to the rain gush from overflowing clouds.

RAIN
rain is like a slow train
with a steady, pounding beat
the rhythm comes in blankets
dropping delight, the cloud's sweet release

the destination is not the ground
but deeper dug into the soil
where all sorts of earth can be found
and all kinds of life roots toil

the drop's journey is not a steady path
directed by two parallel metals
but instead drawn by gravity's catch
and interrupted sometimes by obstinate petals

the noise of a single, solitary drop
is not likely to be noticed
but multiplied by millions non-stop
the din of drops is nearly uproarious

and so rain is like a train
though altogether different still
the rhythm and sound rush with refrain
but the life-giving nature is what thrills

Monday, May 24, 2010

con una corona de espinos

I walked in the door about half an hour ago and I'm glad at the thought of my pillow. God continues to show His grace and blessing, though I am still training myself to look for it. Tonight, I'm thinking on these two things: this article based off a Mark Driscoll sermon, and this Spanish worship song.

I'll let you figure out how they connect. Something along the lines of God's victory and strength preparing the way for men to lead as they were intended. Well, that, and we need no invitation or permission to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior. He is King forever!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

community is a must, but worry is not

I already knew this was true, but this little clip from the sermon today was just the reminder I needed.

In total, my Sabbath had four sermons in it and I feel blessed to have heard every one. After I read about John leaping for joy, I had to catch up with Mary's response and her song. I'm going through Luke (I started kind of late) with Mars Hill church and this sermon on Mary's song grabbed my very heart! I loved the phrase: replace worry with worship. Mom, if you are reading this, you should probably listen to this message... it's for us! Instead of looking at a whole list of things that could have wrecked her, Mary chose to worship through her worries and come out on the other side praising because her heart delighted to and not just because she knew she should. That is my plan for this week: worship through my worries and pray for a heart that delights as I do it.


Have I written for "Every Day in May" recently? Ummm... well, I could say I've been writing in my journal, but that would only be truthfully notes and prayers and verses. So, no, I haven't really written creatively this week, but I will!

Don't forget to
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

sometimes we are just called to be willing

After 45 minutes listening to dramatic pauses and well-placed Scripture references, I was ready to sign up. My elbows propped against my knees my chin strained forward as if I could hear the words faster if my face was closer to the stage. Every word fell in its rightful place and my heart became all twisted and stretched and then I heard this question,
"So, who will go to Africa this summer?"
The blood pumping inside my veins forgot its course and all rushed instead to my nodding head. "Yes," I was saying with the almost hypnotic up-and-down-motion, "Yes, I will go to Africa this summer."

I walked up with a mass of young, eager-to-change-the-world collegiate types and we all affirmed one another's calling to serve in Swaziland the following July.

I left the meeting exhilarated and ready to tackle the problem of practicalities. I called my parents and my joy bubbled over into our phone conversation, only tempered by their advice to pray and be cautious.

Days went by and the emotions wore off. Both gradually and suddenly as I prayed, I knew I would not be going to Africa and I then met a fierce dragon called doubt.

If the Lord hadn't told me to go to Africa, then who? If I was pursuing the Lord then why the mixed signals? Was I so far from God that I couldn't even discern His calling?

A mess would describe the spiritual struggle of the following days. I was so confused and frustrated with myself for being controlled completely by emotions, as it seemed. Then, in a conversation with my dad that I will never forget, he gently spoke these words,
"Sometimes, Caroline... sometimes God just wants to bring us to the point where we say we are willing. Whether you go or not doesn't matter as much as how ready your heart is to do whatever the Lord asks. You were willing to go and God saw your heart."
I rolled those words over in my mind for days, really hoping they were true. I questioned and wrestled and arrived at the conclusion that our pursuit of God is not dependent on His answers. My pursuit of God is not on pause when I receive an affirmative or in high speed when I'm waiting for a reply. God calls me to a constant, passionate pursuit of Himself and promises (regardless of my progress) He will be faithful and He will be sufficient.

As Isaiah, I hope I will respond to every call with, "Here am I. Send me." Even if the call doesn't amount to the movement of my feet, I pray I will be willing.

sometimes we are just called to be willing to
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

when I grow older, I will be stronger


If you don't know that the World Cup is in South Africa this year, you are missing a major excitement-building frenzy around the globe. Let me back up, if you don't know that there IS a soccer World Cup championship then you need to do a little culture study before reading on (here would work).

I love that I live in a country that becomes so passionate and unified over 11 guys, a rectangular field, and a round ball. I don't think I necessarily understand it all yet, but I do love seeing the loyalty and excitement that comes with this championship because Honduras was able to come together when so much was falling apart.

When I first heard this song above (one of several for the World Cup), I thought it was catchy. Every time I listen to it I go around humming it until I consciously decide to do otherwise. The rhythm is bumpin' and the words make you want to love soccer if you don't already.

So, now is the not-so-popular part.
As I listen to this song, I wonder if it is secular worship music.

Sometimes, it is easy to make fun of the cheesy worship songs with every other line a reference to sin or Jesus or redemption. Maybe they are too predictable, maybe they are "too ideal," or maybe we just straight up don't want to worship what the song declares.

So, how are we worshipping? This song just strikes me as a cry out to declare humanity does want unity and joy and peace and love. But, will we find it in a game? Can we worship a game?
------
I'm merely asking questions at this point, but you can guess where this is going. Really, though, what other worship songs do we sing?

I'm just thinking and I am so tired, so I suppose I'll just end it here.
Your thoughts are welcome!

Monday, May 17, 2010

is this freedom?

"not always, but sometimes...the thing you wanted the most is the thing that you now want the least."

Lucy tugged at the corduroy strap of her pink overalls and listened to the soft crunch of forest beneath her feet. The morning scene drifted in and out of sight, while she tried to focus on the sporadic groupings of trees and the unmarked path winding in front of her.

Freedom fell on her lips in the misty haze cloaking the friendly trees... and she breathed. She welcomed the familiar motion in her chest - rising ever-so-slightly while the pure oxygen gathered in her belly. This place was a sanctuary, an escape, a shelter, and a friend. It was strange to feel as if she'd just walked into her home, kicked off her shoes, and cuddled up in the overstuffed sofa. Physically, she was far from the place where her presence was expected to emerge upon sunrise. But, Lucy's heart lept at the joy of this new place. Every single bristling green leaf responded to her deep breaths, moving with the slight motion of her chest.

The energy was almost electric around her, though Lucy's relief at the lack of electric current was obvious. She let her hands drop to her sides, smoothing the corduroy pattern and testing the silence. With a slight shoulder shrug, which seemed to say to the trees, "you're my new friends, right?" Lucy slowly stretched her arms up, up, up into the air as far as her little frame could manage. When they reached the highest height, her mouth opened and an unplanned yelp escaped.

Startled, Lucy turned around (with arms still extended to the highest height) in a small circle and waited to see if there would be a protest. Sensing none, Lucy's eyes relaxed and this time the yelp was every bit planned. In fact, it turned into a joyful song and dance, with complete abandon to the freedom of the place.

Moments or minutes later (Lucy's joy did not let her keep track of time), Lucy wandered over to a stunning green shoot, growing from a fallen tree. The colors seem magical almost, or painted. Afraid to touch it, she got real close and smelled its smell. Wet, dirt, clean, and earth filled her nose. Her pause was altogether too long, but now Lucy knew she could linger without worrying. She stared at the little green shoot sprouting from the fallen tree until her eyes started to blur and her limbs began to droop.

Lucy felt the soft bark underneath her fingers and slowly laid her head down for a moment. Her legs still limp, she let them hang over the edge and float in the forest air. She slept.

A faint tickle traced her right knuckle and Lucy roused with half-open eyes to examine the cause. A caterpillar was making its merry way up, over, and around her in search of something, it seemed. Her eyes spread wider and accustomed to the forest light. In the hours that past between the abandoned dance and waking from the most restful nap, Lucy thought the clusters of trees might have changed. The dampness soaked into her and the full shade above her kept the leaves from glistening.

She remembered the joyful dance before her nap and wondered if she could muster the same song. The morning scene that started this whole excursion seemed so long ago.

---------------

My friend Nicole inspired me to write this little piece that I'm quite sure is only the beginning. I still haven't decided how old to make Lucy, but I already know I love her dearly. For now, it is called, "Is this freedom?"

I know you've got it in you, so
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

Sunday, May 16, 2010

sadness and love

"sadness reveals the depth of our love"

I spoke these words today at the airport, as I put my friend Heather on a plane bound for Canada. Her kindness has touched so many lives and one of the students at the airport was taking her departure kind of rough. I leaned over and said this bit about sadness and she just looked at my blurry-eyed.

I thought more about it today... about goodbyes and hellos and departures.
I'm still not sure if it makes any sense, but my heart seems to understand the reasoning. God has placed in us the desire to love and be loved because He is Love. When that love inside is stretched, bent, or tested, a certain sadness settles in because the love we can give and receive is not perfect. I don't think goodbyes were part of the Garden of Eden. I don't think tears at the airport was ever part of the perfect plan. Our hearts are stretched when the love planted inside of us rebels against the world its constrained to live in. And then words come out like they did today, reminding me that sadness can be beautiful too... even just that the broken pieces reveal the One who can mend.

That is my writing for today.

"sadness reveals the depth of our love"

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY
...even if it leads you to sadness

Saturday, May 15, 2010

jam-packed

I'm not sure why they say the phrase, "jam-packed," but I'm sure that is exactly what this day was!

I woke up super early (after saying goodbye to students at like 11:30 last night) to clean, do laundry, and prepare for cousin ANNA to arrive today. Then Heather and I met up with Jess and Danie for a roommate reunion breakfast, which we left in hot pursuit of the airport, where Anna arrived on a plane full of other well-intentioned, big-hearted people.

We went then to Alvin's house (pastor of Manos Extendidas) and from there to the feeding center to love, hug, serve, sing, teach, laugh, and smile with the beautiful kids.

We waited out a rain storm before we made our way back down the mountain where we enjoyed some bruschetta at a Honduran hippie coffee shop before going to a free movie sponsored by the European film festival. We were all glad we didn't pay for it, but after we went out for coffee and redeemed the night.

Finally, we arrived home and I hope Anna isn't too tucked out!

I wanted to share some creative words - a rap I wrote with a student as tribute to Heather who leaves tomorrow. I have struggled, admittedly, with this "Every Day in May" thing while having visitors and entertaining, but can you blame me? Really?

Rap for Primmer
This is a song for Primmer
for the girl we love
the one who plays wild guitar
and always gives lots of hugs

this is a rhyme for the time
when you found me all low
when I was searching for love
and a safe place to go

I was looking all around
turning over every stone
to find the answers to my questions
and ended up all alone

at the point of my sadness
when all else looked bleak
my exhaustion hit me hard
and made my bones feel weak

with the eyes of Christ
you looked out to find
me sitting there alone
with no reason or no rhyme

Now I just wanna say
thanks for taking the time
for listening and helping me
believe it all will be fine

Girl, this year's been rough
the battle's been strong
but we know you got our backs
you've been there all along

Up there in Canada
where you say "eh"
we know you remember us
in your prayers everyday

when you go back
remember one thing
it's a LOVE attack
comin from your family

in Honduras we are
(farther south than you)
tryin' to get through it's hard
but we'll manage, it's true

because you always said
and we'll never forget
we should strive for the Hope
that conquers all sin

so we wanna thank you and
leave you this memory
remember you've always got a friend
and you've found a friend in me
-------------------
I know it's completely cheesy, but Natalie and I are about to sing it tomorrow morning at the airport and I'm sure it'll bring a smile!

What are you doing to ....

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

Thursday, May 13, 2010

pursuing lower pleasures

After a crazy day, an afternoon filled with charades and catch phrase and laughter, and a typically cheesy serenade for the 11th grade girls... Heather and I went for coffee and finally caught up a bit. I chose the Latte Au-Lait, which means I am now WIDE awake and she's zonked out (getting the sleep she needs so we can leave at 5:45 am to lead worship tomorrow at staff devotions).

I just want to write something quick tonight... maybe it will turn into a poem, but right now it's just thoughts about pleasure. As I think about the students and this culture and (maybe) popular culture in general, I decide that our greatest sin is pursuing lower pleasures.

I know C.S. Lewis probably illustrated this idea more deeply than my brain can think it right now, but still it seemed a mini-revelation tonight.

God promises in Psalm 16:11 that in His presence there is FULLNESS of JOY and at His right hand there are PLEASURES forevermore. Wow! What a promise!

God promises the kind of joy that bursts out from inside our souls and overflows to uncontrollable laughter... the kind of joy that you can't keep from showing on your face... the kind of joy you can't wait to share with everyone you meet... the kind of joy that makes your heart feel like fire and makes you want to dance and shout and play in the rain...

NOT ONLY that, but also pleasures forevermore. God offers us pleasure that never ends - He created us with the desire for pleasures forevermore and He is delighted when we pursue the highest kind. He planted that little seed inside us, in the soil of our humanity, that tries to break the surface and soar toward the sun... all the ways our humanity longs to have pleasure can be traced back to the way we were created in His image to experience pleasures forevermore.

The moment I decide to pursue a less pleasurable pleasure than what I was created for, I am choosing sin. I know, it sounds confusing. Usually we associate pleasure with sin, but right now I am saying that we sin when we pursue less pleasure or lower pleasure. Because I know God created me and placed in me a desire to have infinite joy and pleasure, I know that anything less than a pursuit of THAT means two things:
1. I am not experiencing the most pleasure possible (can only be found in and through God)
2. I am trying to make lower pleasures fulfill my God-given desires for the BEST pleasure (which, of course is a fail from the start)

God created us, knows us, and delights when we are absolutely bursting with joy.

Here's what I'm praying:
O, that I might be an instrument on which God chooses to boldly play the joyful song of redemption.

.let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's only Wednesday?

I am exhausted.

I can't really think right now, but I know I need sleep. My creative writing for the day? I'm working on a rap with a student and we had a fun go of it this afternoon! Writing every day is DIFFICULT!

Lately, I've realized how much I read. I read articles, journals, tweets, blogs, posts, books, and more articles that lead me to a little gem that makes me think I know nothing and must keep reading. I realized this when I told a friend today, "Oh, I found this article about guilt by Kevin DeYoung that is really great - you should take a look." Then he said, "Yeah! You should tell me whenever you find good articles like that worth reading!"

I just stared at him. In my head, I thought, if you are serious then you'll be getting more emails than you can handle in one day. Between counseling articles, theology, philosophy, and culture, I read a LOT. I take comfort in the piece of advice I remember reading in a C.S. Lewis book - something like a good writer has to be a good reader. So, maybe it's making me better at the craft, who knows?

Anyway, I wanted to give you a couple things to read or peruse at your leisure... things that I've read in the past day or so. My cyber friend (he doesn't know he is, but we are) Tim Challies does this often and calls it "A La Carte."

Poison of Quaint Moralism is written by an Acts 29 pastor in Raleigh, NC. He suggests that the South has succumbed to a poison made by their own hands. He says, "Our churches are full of good-looking, upright, moral people. The tragic irony is that our goodness is our poision. A great many Southerners claim Christianity as their religion, mimicking righteousness on the surface while their hearts remain unchanged by the gospel of Jesus."

Kevin DeYoung gets to the heart of something I struggle with every single day: guilt. How much should I feel and how much is lacking a full view of grace? Read this article and ponder it yourself.

This is not an article, but I hope you will link to discover the musical treasure! I first found Joy when I was looking for all things Philly because my friend Nicole decided to move there. She's not typical, so don't expect that.

This isn't an article as much as it is a new person I am following. I love all the people at the Gospel Coalition (partially because I was there in the beginning - the very first Gospel Coalition conference in Chicago) and I am finding new people to respect, admire, and read every day. His unique perspective and style are sometimes just what I need.

Alright, friends. Enjoy the rest of this crazy Wednesday (and the entire Thursday if you read it in the morning!)

Don't forget....
.let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Jon Foreman, Andrée Seu, Joan of Arc, Peter, and me

I'm super tired. But, these two articles have been on my mind, so I'm going to crank out some processing about them and call it my creative writing for tonight.

In The Huffington Post, Jon Foreman recently wrote an article and then alerted all his twittlers (tweet followers) about his recent journalistic activity. Like the good twittler I am, I checked it out and found "The Dark Horse: Joan of Arc, Elliot Smith, and me" to be sufficiently thought provoking. Not long after, I read Andrée Seu's article in WORLD magazine after a more dedicated search for her writing. I can't find a twitter account for her ... or other ways to be creepily connected, so I have to do the old-fashioned thing and just search the WORLD website. It led me to a gem titled, "Falling from steadfastness" that has secured a space as one of my tabs ever since.

So, how could these two articles possibly intersect? Foreman eases us into a history lesson, via the web mecca of knowledge (Wikipedia) about Joan of Arc's visions as a young girl in an English controlled France. At the age when many young girls are learning to drive a car, Joan of Arc disguised herself as a man, and heroically led the French armies to battle and then victories.

Foreman's conclusion: Joan of Arc was only a hero because there was adversity.

We see the narrative story all around us, playing out in real-time and real consequences. We are all the underdog against this big, nasty opponent called sin. The odds are stacked entirely in its favor and the most obvious and safe and preserving decision would be to surrender before any battle begins.

Foreman is processing what this means for the way we're tempted to see the world through cynicism and bitterness. We're tempted to look at the opponent on the other side of the ring and give up before we begin. But, what better time to display our God-given abilities than in the face of adversity?

Because I am so "this generation," as I'm reading Jon Foreman's article I'm also popping over a few tabs to see what Andrée Seu has to say and totally digging it. She's talking about 2 Peter 3:17, "You, therefore, beloved.... be aware lest you fall from your own steadfastness, being led away by the error of the wicked." Seu calls steadfastness, "a moment-by-moment believing in God" and says that this fall Peter talks about is pretty serious. Then I get down to this little paragraph describing the error of the wicked,
What is the “error”? It is a slightly skewed view of grace that encourages passivity and discourages a striving for greater faith, since all striving—or any muscular “steadfastness”—is suspected of being works righteousness. Never mind that God says to “grow in grace” (2 Peter 3:18).
I read it and moused over to the Jon Foreman tab at the top of my screen and wondered if the articles were working in cahoots. If the error of the wicked is "a slightly skewed view of grace that encouraged passivity and discourages a striving for great faith," then turning back from adversity is not only making a statement about your view of the opponent, but also about your view of grace.

Foreman's article ends pleading with the reader to not approach life with mere cynicism, but to see adversity as an opportunity for heroism. Seu's article ends portraying this kind of heroism in the everyday grind of life... where our view of grace will carry over onto the kind of co-worker, mother, father, daughter, son, and neighbor we are. Seu writes,

There is a “holding on” that must be part of the Christian’s everyday life (Hebrews 3:6,14). “Steadfastness” is not the staunch maintaining of a theological position but something much more personal and difficult: It is fighting for your very life, using every weapon listed in Ephesians 6. These articles of armor were not meant to be admired on a shelf but scuffed up in battle.

And so, at 11 pm, I'm not sure if this makes sense at all, but I just mashed two articles together and came up with this: adversity is an opportunity for heroism as much as defeat. But, to even hope for heroism, one must be with a right view of grace and armored up to go into battle.

Monday, May 10, 2010

snippets, anecdotes, and 7 worst things

Okay, I'm ba-AACK!

Last Saturday, we ventured up the infamous, cloud forest mountain (noteworthy because of my first failed attempt and following lost-on-mountain-adventure). The quaint little cabins welcomed us in the little town of Rosario after the long hike. I was especially glad to reach our destination because we took students with us.

The night was filled with food, conversation, laughter, books, worship, laughter, scorpion spotting, laughter, scorpion killing, worship, and more laughter.

Again, I realized how important it is for laughter to be involved in my life! We woke up early and ventured out to see the sun break through the cloudy haze and then spent quiet time, worship time, reading time, and breakfast time.

We hiked out Sunday morning and we were "sucking the marrow" right out, as Thoreau suggests. I almost collapsed when I got home, if not for the dark chocolate Heather brought from Canada. I took in a Mars Hill sermon, cleaned a bit, and then we made dinner before going to Micah Project. Whew!

So.... I am not making excuses, I just want you all to know that "Every Day in May" took place in my journal for the past two days. Well, that's not entirely true. On Saturday night, Heather and I wrote a song that will never be sung again or written down. I wrote the words as they fell off my lips and I happily considered it my writing for the day.

Today... well, I decided to go back to the prompts from creativewritingprompts.com and I landed on number 231 which says, "List the 7 worst things to say to a person who just got dumped."

Hm. It's not really my cup 'o tea, but we'll see how it goes. I do like that it is going to be short, because I am WIPED out! Today after school, we met up with Diana and Maria and played some cards in McDonald's... then picked up Sara and made some AMAZING orange, mango, ginger chicken with vegetables over long grain rice.

So, maybe 7 things is all I can muster right now, anyway. :)

SEVEN worst things you can say to a person who just got dumped (in no particular order)
1. "Oh, don't worry, that girl I saw him with was probably just his sister."
2. "Hey, you'll survive! I mean, I've been dumped many times... and you kind of just get used to it, you know?"
3. "What did you do? I thought you guys had such a good thing!"
4. "I'm sorry. I mean, I can't say I know how you feel, since I got married and everything... but it must be real tough."
5. "I never told you this, but me and him... we, uh, well, we like each other."
6. "I guess God doesn't want you to have a boyfriend."
7. "I wonder what you'll do now..."

Hm. I'm a fan of creative writing prompts, but this was completely and unsatisfactorily uninspiring.

Well, I'll just say it was probably inevitable to have a day where I didn't love the prompt, the character, or the process. It happens.
Every Day in May Project, day TEN (days eight and nine are in my head or my journal)

Okay, now for that fleeting, precious thing called sleep...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

hiking shoes

I just laced up my hiking shoes (courtesy of one of my dad's successful thrift store expeditions) and I am heading out to conquer La Tigra, infamous cloud forest and puma hangout. We will be hiking to a hostel tonight and then heading back tomorrow.

So.... I am not going to rush my creativity. Today or tonight I'm going to do some very thoughtful writing in my new journal that arrived with Heather and then I'll post it on here for you to see.

Until then, what are YOU doing this great May day? Please share!

Friday, May 07, 2010

a haiku

I have been struggling these past two days because Heather, my former roommate is here in Honduras visiting. I went from writing fictional short stories to very short poems. But, my commitment was to creative writing every day in May, not lengthy or story or even necessarily good. So, thanks to eHow, I have a haiku to share tonight. I'm not exactly happy with it, but it's 11:46 and I'm tired. I also had a wonderful day and I think I'm frustrated I can't be creative enough right now to explain it.

I actually remember very little about haiku poetry, so if you have any brilliant ideas or advice, let me know!

--------
falling drops of rain
each quiet loss slow breaks free
tender, dry earth waits
---------
day SEVEN of the Every Day in May Project - to write creatively every day in the month of May!

Tomorrow, I am hiking La Tigra (the mountaintop/cloud forest) and staying a hostel with Heather, Jess, and some students... where we plan to have amazing deep conversations, beautiful laughter, worship, and lots of love!

arrival

a rush bursts out,
stretched across my face
a year's pain and delight
hold it firmly in place

words tumble like children
down a soft, solemn hill
and the laughter comes quickly
until all content with their fill

the paragraphs crowd stories
and the words in between
are collections of memories
and run swiftly like dreams

the lights linger,
late into the night
cool midnight breezes,
clothe conversations tight

for what have I waited
and for what do I bring
all the days in this year
woven like love on a string

arrival.
-----------
This post was written yesterday, day SIX, but I didn't have any electricity.
Oh, and my friend/ex-roommate Heather arrived. :)


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

the story of a boy and a satchel

This is a fictional story to put human flesh on the boy who gave up his fish and loaves for the five thousand. I completely made up everything, but maybe it will help us see this boy as a person and not just a name in typeface. Enjoy!
-------

Theo's eyes refused to open. Sleep had sealed them shut and even the obnoxious chickens in the front yard couldn't rouse him.

"THEEE-O!"

The scream breezed in and halted right next to his ear drums and seemed to reverberate in between his ears. Theo wrapped the scratchy threads of his blanket closer around him and tried to tune out the sound.

"THEEEEE-O!"

In moments like this, Theo downright despised his name for being two syllables. Why couldn't he be like the other kids, who had good-sounding, tongue-twisting names like Abinadab or Bizjothjah or Gath-rimmon. No one ran around screaming out those boys' names.

Theo's two-syllable name made the dull, gray morning even less desirable as he swung his bare feet to the cold, dirt floor. He rested his hands on the side of the cot and took a deep breath with half-open eyes and then slid his feet into leather sandals and laced them up his dusty calves.

"THEEEEEEEEE--"

"Yes! I'm here!" Theo grumbled, just as his sister Hannah appeared with mid-screaming mouth in the open doorway. Theo grabbed his satchel and slung it over his shoulder, barely hearing his sister's endless chatter.

"...and because of that, I am still not ready to leave to get water for the well and you have to feed the animals because they have been bellowing all morning and you know I also woke up extra early to help Mama because Father set off for the Sea and don't you remember that today you are going to the Sea of Galilee to be with Father? And--"

"Wait, what did you say?" Theo was extremely adept at tuning out his three sisters, but it sometimes kept him from important information, like today. "Did you say I'm to go to the Sea of Galilee to be with Father?"

"Yes, Theo, of course! Now, feed the animals so they will quit bellowing and ask Mama to pack your satchel with food for the meal. You don't know how long you will be away today." With that, Hannah smoothed her long mantle and tucked some stray, wind-swept strands into her chocolate braid.

Theo, with the news of his day's agenda, startled himself into wakefulness and went about the morning chores all the time thinking about the gathering at the Sea of Galilee. His strong, calloused hands worked the burlap bags easily and before his sister could return to pester him, he had already finished. He rushed back inside, sending a cloud of smoke to cover him head to toe, and went in search of Mama.

"Mama! I'm to meet Father today at the gathering over at the Sea of Galilee. What have you to send with me for food? ...But, I must hurry!" Theo had only heard rumors about all the commotion about prophets in the region lately, but he knew enough to know that the gathering at the Sea would be more interesting than a day working at home. A day at home would be filled to the brim with mundane chores and errands and two-syllables screams.

"Okay, okay. Calm down, Theo," as she spoke Mama moved toward the kitchen to retrieve two fish from the ice drawer and loaves of barley bread from the pantry. "Take these to your father and bring back a full report. Even if your father doesn't return tonight, I want you to be back before twilight, do you hear?"

"Mama, do I really bring fish? I am walking and you know how they will begin to stink on the way!!" Though almost 12, Theo still whined like a small child... especially about fish. "I don't even like fish, Mama!"

"These fish are all I have to send, okay? Please, just take them to your father and refresh him with this food and your presence," Mama now wrapped the fish in paper and carefully placed them in Theo's satchel with five barley loaves.

Reluctant, Theo resigned to his duty, happy for the reprieve from chores but unsure about the prospect of smelling fish for the two-hour-long journey to the Sea.

"Okay, Mama." His hazel cinnamon eyes smiled ever-so-slightly before he turned and started walking along the path.

After 15 minutes, Theo quickly realized that walking in the heat of the day was easily as horrible as doing chores at home. He spent the next 15 minutes arguing with himself which he would rather do. The argument ended without conclusion, except that both were undesirable and he had another hour and 30 minutes before he reached his destination. He could feel the sweat pooling on his back underneath his tunic and he shifted uncomfortably. The heat was unbearable.

Finally, he came upon the Sea and saw a great crowd assembling at the base of a mountain. He maneuvered his way (the benefits of his still-small frame) through the people to find his father. His eyes accustomed to the search for the broad-shouldered man, Theo found him quickly and they exchanged stories from the morning. Theo listened carefully as his father explained that the man, Jesus, had been speaking. The great mass of people had gathered abruptly, leaving work and daily agendas to hear the famed "healer" talk about authority and judgment and the glory of God.

Theo strained to see the man who had caused all the disruption, but could only see shoulders and beards. He raised his hand to feel his smooth jaw-line, silently wishing for the day he would have a full, man's beard and strong, broad shoulders like his father. He brought his attention back to his father's description,
"...and there's nothing really unique about him. That's the strange thing - everyone is drawn to him and his message, but no one exactly knows why. He talks about heaven and life and maybe we are desperate to hear about some hope. I don't know, Theo, this man is either really dangerous or.... or.... well, I don't know."

Theo nodded along at his father's words as he looked at the people around him. They all stood transfixed and in hushed conversation about the "healer" and his ways.

Suddenly, a small group seem to be conferring just above the crowd. Several in the group seemed agitated, but one man lifted his hands and placed them on their shoulders. He motioned out to the crowd and spoke a few more words before the men dispersed.

"That's the one - the man in the center who just settled that dispute. That's Jesus," Theo's father said.

Soon, the two men from the dispute were circling around the crowd and asking if anyone had any food. They walked amongst the crowd, searching (quite desperately) for someone who had food with them.

Without thinking, Theo approached one of the men and opened his satchel, "I have two fish and five barley loaves." He looked up at the men and searched their eyes. A quiet burning pushed him to say again, "Did you hear? I have some fish and some barley loaves here in my satchel." Theo lifted it up for their inspection.

The men nodded at one another and then, thanking Theo, swooped into his satchel and left it limp at his side. They wove back through the crowd, asking the same question, "Does anyone have any food?"

Theo returned to his father who stood with an unpleasant, furrowed brow. "And now, son, what do you expect us to eat?"

"Uh, I... I don't know father. I just, well, I don't know what happened. I saw they needed food and remembered I had some. I couldn't think of any reason why I shouldn't give it to them.... I...."

Before Theo could finish, the man named Jesus was holding the loaves and the fish and blessing them. Theo looked twice and a third time to make sure the man was the "healer" and that what he had in his hands were the very stinky fish he had carried in his satchel. Having confirmed these things, he began to squirm through the crowd to get a closer look. Within minutes he was at the very front, watching Jesus motion for the men to bring him the baskets.

Theo realized that his food was the sole contribution to the questions from the men earlier. And now, Theo watched as the man named Jesus blessed and broke his bread and filled baskets with it. The five barley loaves seemed never to grow smaller, only breaking off into more pieces. Now, Jesus was telling the men to pass the bread around so everyone would eat and be full. Theo thought for sure the fish would be a personal meal for the healer, but it was not so. The man named Jesus took the fish next and broke it and filled baskets for the men to pass around.

Theo stood incredulous as the baskets passed by him and he took from the bounty. He could have filled his whole satchel several times with what he saw in front of him. Then the basket passed with the fish and again Theo marveled at the way the food had multiplied right in front of his eyes. Even the long journey with smelly fish seemed a small thing compared to this crowd enjoying a full meal.

He came only with two fish and five loaves and gave it away without knowing why. Now, he saw that all he gave was multiplied for thousands of people. Twelve baskets stacked up around the edges of the crowd because the people couldn't eat another bite!

This was no ordinary day and no ordinary adventure and no ordinary healer. Theo silently declared he would be willing to give much more to a man like this.
--------------



Unnecessary car parts and unnecessary breakfast

I just want you to know I disassembled an (apparently) unnecessary portion of my car with a borrowed wrench set, two multi-tools, and some expert parking over a small ditch. Dirty hands and all, I marched down the hallway to ask the owner of the borrowed wrench set if: 1. this (the one I was carrying) plastic part is necessary 2. the oily residue is important 3. I should do anything with it - like keep it or sew it back on.

The laughter was too much - the whole thing was ridiculous enough to be hilarious and so I laughed until tears came out my eyes.

I have very little time, but I wanted to do a little bit of creative writing. Since I am making the rules about what it means for me to write every day, I'm saying it's okay to revisit pieces from days past and expand. So, we're back to the man who skipped breakfast.

He chose a table by the window, but nestled next to a book shelf filled with classics and comics - a strange combination, he thought. Without warning, the aproned girl set herself down across from the man and asked where he was walking from.

That morning, the man skipped breakfast.
(now continued)

The firm swish of her skirt as she sat startled the man and he couldn't process her question. Though he was seated, he couldn't manage to remove his lint-laden hands from his pockets, which made him look rather hunched over and awkward. It also, however, appeared that he was leaning in to listen to the aproned girl's words. Whether intentional or no, she took the hint as friendship and asked once again,
"So, where are you walking from?"

The wrinkled flannel shifted and the man brought his pale green gaze in line with the aproned girl's greys.

"I started this morning from my apartment on East 52nd." It occurred to the man that this was a strange question even for typical social encounters. Maybe it was its oddity that kept him seated in the cafe window, next to the bookshelf filled with classics and comics.

"Oh. I like your shirt," she said, "My name is Amber."

"I like my shirt too," he fidgeted and let his eyes fall to the empty table.

"Well, are you going to order or what?"

"I think I'll choose the 'or what' option," The man said whimsically, allowing his hands to venture from their hiding places to rest on the table's top and smooth the surfaces of the placemat.

"Okay, then." She said it like a the phrase of a folk song, building up to, "You know what's funny about this place?" Her eyes flitted from the flannel to the glass counters and back again, "the memories are like tippy-toes."

The man chuckled through his nose and then something barely audible escaped resembling soft laughter. His shoulders relaxed a bit and he allowed himself to study the strange, aproned girl named Amber who had memories like tippy-toes. An untrained smile split his lips and he expected her to squirm beneath his stare. She didn't. She caught one of the wild wisps of her hair, twisted it in her fingers and magically hid it into the auburn mass.

"Every day around 11 am, my mom would put down her pen and say, 'Well, I could use some fresh air' and just like that we were in golashes or sandals or winter boots (whatever the weather demanded or fit our fancy) and out the front door. Thirty minutes later we would show up here, at Café Sueno. My mom would also think and purse her lips together before ordering the orange cinnamon scone with English Breakfast tea. I would ponder in similar fashion and end up always with a peanut long john doughnut and a whipped-cream topped hot chocolate."

The man waited for Amber to continue, picturing her and her mother sipping drinks and munching at 11:30 every day.

"I was 5 years old and I waited all morning for those words, 'Well, I could use some fresh air.' When they came, it took all my five-year-old strength to not burst with excitement. So, I managed to keep my composure from the waist up (or at least I thought so), but for the entire walk my excitement seeped through to my toes and there I bounced until we'd ordered and sat down at that table right over there." Amber nodded her head toward another table right next to the window. "Tippy-toe memories." The words were lethargic and thick and sweet rolling out.

The man's smile was no longer awkward, but had made a kind of home between the creases of his cheeks. He thought about the rhythm of the world for this five-year-old and almost snuggled in to the sound of it.
----
This is day FOUR of the Every Day in May Project, where I am writing every single day creatively.

Do you have an Every Day in May challenge?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Normal Rockwell - story of Sammy

Today's creative writing comes by way of my friend Johanna who suggested I tell the story of a Norman Rockwell painting. I typed in Norman Rockwell, hit images, and selected the very first (which happened to be from www.rumorsdaily.com) and off I go.


Little Sammy Whittendorf got as far as Eagle Run Creek before he started to get blisters on his heels. He hadn't thought about how irksome his church shoes would be on the long journey, only about how tennis shoes wouldn't do for his entrepreneurial enterprising of the great western frontier. As he leaned down to tie the brown, slippery laces for the 23rd time, he wished he had chosen Monday comfort over Sunday style. He rose again and stretched his 7-year-old frame, lifting all his possessions and investment portfolios high into the air and then letting the red bundle linger a bit before finding its place on his shoulder.

Sammy peered over the single lane bridge at Eagle Run Creek and imagined he saw himself in the wrinkles of water. He didn't, of course, but he imagined a reflection of a strong, important man with a red bundle for a briefcase on his way to see about some business. Sammy quickly realized he wasn't imagining at all, but simply explaining his task for this glorious September day filled with opportunity. Enterprising was much more important than school and subtraction and Walter Leadenhower. Yes, he thought to himself, enterprising was much more important.

He leaned down and picked up a rough piece of grey gravel and weighed it in his palm. With all the strength in his enterprising spirit, he thrust it out and over the bridge and watched the fast descent. A bit disappointed with the distance, Sammy concluded decidedly there was a strong easterly wind coming in which reminded him he should get moving. He was to be at Fletcher's Crossing before noon and the sun was already climbing high above his head.

Sammy left the bridge forgetting about blisters, although his socks were beginning to soak and would remind him later. His sights were set on the undiscovered and (Sammy was convinced) untapped resources of the expansive plain beyond the town of Harrelsville, Iowa. Though still in the formative stages, the success of his hastily laid plans was every bit as sure as his awkward, arm-swinging stride.

About five paces after crossing the bridge, Sammy heard a distant rumbling that quickly turned into a much louder roar. Gripping his red bundle, he meant to dart into the ditch for cover (many a soul could be out to steal his innovative, if not quite complete, plans), but the combination of dust and a familiar voice sent him into confusion.

The voice boomed out of a dream-cloud of smoke, "Sammy? Is that you? What in tarnation are you doing out here? We been lookin' all over for you!"

Everything dreamlike faded and Sammy's hopes of enterprising the great western frontier of Harrelsville with it.

"Hello, Officer Patterson," kind of mumbled out of Sammy's lower, protruding lip.

"You know you walked almost 2 miles from your mom and pap's house? Now, that's a long way, son."

Sammy kicked at the grey gravel rocks underneath his feet, sending little dust clouds up to his chin. His red bundle had dropped and now sat beside him, a dejected pile imitated by his face.

"I only wanted to enterprise the western frontier, Officer." He sputtered on, "I just thought to myself, 'what good is all these numbers if I can't go-a-enterprisin' and makin' somethin' of myself?' That's what I thought, Officer, honest!"

Officer Patterson's eyebrows were knit together in one long line across his forehead and his nose jutted out under his important policeman hat. He seemed to think for a moment before he said, "You know what, Sammy?"

"Well, no I don't know, Officer Patterson," Sammy answered after he judged the pause too long.

"I was just wonderin' how you'd feel about some ice cream right about now. See, I've been feeling myself a little hungry for that rocky road flavor they got in new last week at the diner, what d'ya say?"

"Oh boy, oh boy! Officer Patterson, I thought for sure I was going to cry, but I love ice cream and now you've done it," Sammy caught himself in mid-ice cream-excitement, before his smile covered his whole face, "But, Officer I still want to enterprise, is that okay?"

"Maybe we can talk about this enterprise business with Teddy Noucomb at the diner. He's always got some good advice for... you know, enterprising, as you call it."

"Hm," Sammy rubbed his sweaty palms on the newly dirtied white t-shirt he wore, "I'll think about it. You can't talk business and enterprising with just anybody, you know."

"Oh, I do know. I do know," Officer Patterson said as he settled his blue hat back into place over his knitted brows and jutting-out nose.

"I s'pose I'll go then," Sammy said, picking up his red bundle and walking toward Officer Patterson's cruiser. The Officer opened the passenger door and secured the truant before walking around and taking his seat on the driver's side.

"I s'pose that'd be a good idea."

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Every Day in May Project, Number TRES

Sunday, May 02, 2010

May Newsletter - Honduran Horizon

Here it is, folks, errors and all. I hope you can read it alright with the jpg form. I've got to figure out another way to post this on blogger. Any ideas?





a story about a man who skipped breakfast

(Writing prompt #92 from Creative Writing Prompts)
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He wore the night around his neck, next to his wrinkled flannel shirt. The pearly snaps were the only smooth surfaces in his entire ensemble, but the man would never notice. He claimed the comfortable treasure (not of the re-worked fashion vintage variety) when his father had passed away one year before and had worn the plaid pattern almost every day since.

His sinister hands found the depths of his denim pockets and wrestled with the gray lint as he walked. It was morning, but the days passed without the normal measures of time. There was no work or school or duties or appointments. There was only the man, the flannel, the lint, and the very intentional walking. On this morning, the man looked up from his decisive path to see an empty café. The man quickly took note of the time, gathered it was around 8 am, and then wondered why the young aproned girl inside was sweeping around empty tables.

It had been awhile since the man's thoughts wandered from the flannel, the lint, and the walking, but something about the deserted morning destination drew him inside. Fumbling for a tight grip on the lint cloud with his right hand, he pushed the café door with his left, and entered headfirst. The man couldn't form an answer when he heard the aproned girl ask, "Welcome, sir. Where would you like to sit?"

He stood there, looking at the floor, and the whole mess of a solitary year rushed his mind. The conversation seemed to invite him so simply out of the self-imposed shell he crawled into after his father's passing. He drank her words like sweet honey and then managed, "I'm sorry, you said?"

"I said, welcome. Would you like a table?" This time she tilted her head to the side and leaned her broom against the wall.

He thought a smile pulled at the corner of her lips, but he hadn't studied a human face in so long he wasn't quite sure. He realized, as he wondered about the occasion of a smile, that the aproned girl was expecting a response to her question and he furiously rubbed the lint with his right hand and said, "Uh, yes, this one will do. Thank you."

He chose a table by the window, but nestled next to a book shelf filled with classics and comics - a strange combination, he thought. Without warning, the aproned girl set herself down across from the man and asked where he was walking from.

That morning, the man skipped breakfast.
------

What do you think? Should I continue with this for a longer story?
This is Day TWO of the Every Day in May Project.