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.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunburnt face, scraped elbow, and Sunday music

I'm nursing a tomato-red face and a brave, battered elbow today. I wear these reminders proudly, because yesterday was a good day. I gave my best effort as shortstop for the Marlins and even slid into second base, in an all-out show of my commitment to team and sport. :)

It was my friend Jenna's (Micah Project) birthday and she decided to host the closest thing to a baseball tournament. We met up at the ball diamond (which looked very Sandlot-esque), called Gigantes field, to play in the best organized kickball tournament I've ever seen. There were four teams: Marlins, Astros, Cardinals, and Dodgers (complete with homemade team shirts!!!) competing for the title of champion. The Micah boys showed up full-force along with tons of teachers from the International School. I loved it!

Today, I am thankful for so many things. I have some new inspiration for my room - incorporating sewing space and a prayer corner - that I am pretty excited about. I am working on some ideas for the upcoming high school student retreat... the theme is amazing race, so you can imagine how my mind is flying. I spent the morning doing my BRP (my affectionate and creative acronym for Bible Reading Plan) and can say I am truly loving the Word right now.

I did some cleaning/reorganizing/laundry ... and this invariably ends in more mess (creative organization sometimes just means re-purposing junk and moving it from one place to another). And, in the course of my scattered, Sabbath schedule, I am listening to some GREAT new music.

See for yourself:
brooks ritter

Brooks Ritter- Child from Jeff Venable on Vimeo.

after I found brooks ritter, it was pretty easy to find sojourn, the worship band he plays in at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Not surprisingly, the music was a beautiful addition to this Sunday. Check them out: Sojourn

How did I happen upon Brooks Ritter in the first place? I happen to read a blog called Holiday at the Sea, written by Brent Thomas. He posts music weekly on his blog. Thanks Holiday at the Sea!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

God is living in me.

I just want to post a few reflections I had on the Holy Spirit while reading through Forgotten God and studying Scripture. I am overwhelmed at this idea that God is inside of me. The power of the most High, the beauty and perfection and love and GOD. Inside of me, really?

I can't make sense of it. Inside me is so close. I can't escape this body and that's how close He is. The Holy Spirit is in me. whoa.
So close

The Living Lord inside of me
-who sees and hears, convicts and leads,
this Holy God in possession of my very innermost spaces, even now claiming my soul-
this Living One is grieved by what He finds
littering the corners and walls and storage bins of my heart.

You are grieved, O Lord, at what you find and see and hear

You are closer than the words on my lips.
You are right here ... burning up like heartburn my inside.
My chest feels to explode,
for I did not realize how close you were.
You are so close.

this washed up piece of garbage,
cast-off and misused by its owner
this junk clumsily folded into
moving parts
neglected and scorned by the one entrusted

this hollowed-out shadow, dark with anger,
fierce with bitter rage and pain
this monster so neatly covered,
a mess of mixed-up rusty joints

this dreadful piece of epic failure
the depraved mind and within
the lusting heart
the jealous soul and
unwilling spirit
the ignorant and forgotten
the angry and spiteful
the abused and burdened
the twisted and desperate
the confused and grieved

the lonely

the shallow

the human

YOU live here

Friday, January 29, 2010

a few things for Friday

I'm not in the best of states today, but I'll come around.

I am still struggling to make technology agree with me, these days, but I thought I would give you a few very helpful and thoughtful links for Friday. (Partly because it will make me feel better about myself the next time I blog, seeing how it wasn't THAT long ago:).

The State of My Union
This is an article written by Chris Tomlinson over on the Gospel Coalition blog (where some of my favorite authors and thinkers blog together). I am a pretty big fan of The Gospel Coalition, so I get them sent to my email and today this article popped up in my inbox. I might be kind of 'out of the loop' about Obama's State of the Union address, but this article reminded me about what is most important and how intentional I am about the state of my union with Christ. Check it out!

World Movers

This is just something that keeps popping into my ever wandering brain. I love to write and I love Jesus (in opposite order of importance and passion). Maybe this is a way I could use both to glorify God someday. I don't know. Anyway, I think it's a great thing.

God's Funeral

This is just an interesting book I wouldn't mind reading soon.

Inspired to Action
Even though I'm not a mom, I'm still pretty stoked about doing the Maximizing your Mornings plan (free ebook I picked up from Kat's blog). I am not-so-secretly stealing these 'mom' ideas to organize and prioritize my childless life. ... and it's working.

Thoughts on Joy
I just like what this article has to say about joy, especially because I've been thinking a lot lately about what it is and how to get more of it.

That's it for today, friends.
I'm off to a mission trip meeting, report cards and parents, game night at my place, and possibly a movie later with some students.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

i'm sick and so is my mac

So, everyone who doesn't use a mac will enjoy a romp in my confession:
my macbook is sick.

(laugh if you want, I can't hear you anyway)

Right now, my macbook is propped open at about a 35 degree angle, with the bottom on my belly, while I recline with my elbows sticking out like a chicken and my hands on the keys. I'm sorry if you can't picture me. Basically, it's awkward and not functional, which is why I have been doing very little blogging lately. At work I had to lay my head sideways on my desk to read my emails on friday... so you can imagine this weekend has been a little less electronic.

Which, as it turns out, hasn't been so bad because I'm as sick if not sicker than my computer. I have a funny throat, nose, ear, tummy, fever, body ache kind of thing going on.

But, these two things I just became more thankful for:
1) the international cleaning standards of franchise fast food restaurant bathrooms
2) pharmacies in third world countries where the little lady behind the counter will diagnose your symptoms and give you some helpful drugs.

are these things good in all cases and causes? no. but today, I was thankful.

Well, I'm thinking about getting a desktop monitor that I can connect to my laptop at least at work. So, I'm not sure how communicative I will be this week.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

be LOVE now

Last night I fell asleep reading Forgotten God and doing the Bible Reading Plan. I'm not saying that I started late and fell asleep. No, I'm saying I started at 6:45 pm and two hours later my unconscious head was crumpled next to my Bible, book, and journal. I still had my day-clothes on, and I wasn't quite sure if it was morning-noon-or night.

I'm still not really sure why I am so tired. I think I might be getting a cold. But, it seems almost ludicrous to be caring about such small things after a 6.1 earthquake hit an already ravaged Haiti. Who cares about sore throats?

My cousin Amanda posted this on facebook and I've got to agree:

haitian timoun foundation founder, rick barger's words: "The real disaster that has plagued Haiti is not the earthquake. It simply exposed it. The real disaster is its poverty. Poverty created the lack of infrastructure. Poverty provided the breeding ground for corruption that works to keep Haiti poor. Poverty keeps children from going to school. Poverty places people into a cycle of dependency. Poverty strips away dignity and crushes dreams."

This is the thing that should be causing us all to stop. think. question.

We shouldn't be asking, "where is the love after such a horrible event?"

We should be asking, "Where was the love before the earthquake?"

I personally know of several people who have seen the horrors of Haiti firsthand, even before the earthquakes. As much as our hearts break right now for the thousands and thousands of hurting, we must learn to have broken hearts before disasters.

Let's be love now.

Monday, January 18, 2010

no such thing as a future version of myself

This is a tweaked version of a little article to appear in the next Journey, the HS newsletter I write for the guidance office.

When I was in high school, a regular day would find me dreaming about a future version of myself... a very good looking version.

I wasn’t messy or disorganized. I was never late to work and always dressed exactly right. I was never over-stressed or panicked about what the next days and weeks might bring. I was responsible (but care-free), busy (but not overworked), tidy (but not obnoxiously so), and punctual (but flexible).

Basically, I created a dreamy, perfect version of myself and decided that would be my future.
I was comfortable thinking I would “grow” into this person and eventually have all the good habits and character traits I was missing.

Then, I went to college. I got a job. Then, I got another job. Now, I am here.

I am still waiting for the perfect version of myself to appear and introduce all the habits I thought would just grow into my life. Six years later.

What went wrong?

Let me share a little secret the great, big, nasty world has been keeping from me: I will never get “there.”

No matter how many people tell me it gets easier and no matter how many times I convince myself this crazy phase of life will pass, it won’t. There are some things about who I am that will never change. I can’t change my personality or the way I was wired to try a thousand things at one time.

There are other things (like being punctual and responsible) that I can change with a little bit of good, old-fashioned discipline. Apparently, what I should have been thinking about (during my daydreams in Mrs. Tietz’s classes) was making habits out of that future picture of myself.

I am setting out to change the habits I form with my everyday decisions. I'll try to stop daydreaming about a future, perfect version of myself and instead try to make habits today worth keeping.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Post for Haiti

I just keep feeling overwhelmed at the enormity of the pain and suffering in Haiti. I know there are tragedies and disasters around the world every single day. Sometimes, we are struck with a disaster that seems so complete. This is one of those times. I just wanted to give a few links where you could go for info, give donations, and keep up-to-date on news and how to pray.

Compassion International is an organization that has proven themselves faithful to God's call to serve the poorest of the poor throughout the world. When a crisis happens, I know Compassion is already on the ground and already working with churches in the country that they have developed relationships with. I know when I support Compassion, I am not just giving money to a haphazard medical mission, but a structured organization with a pure heart fueled by God's design.

Paste Magazine is giving away a BUNCH of free songs to download if you donate through them or if you donate at all through any organization you can reach the free songs. This is a way artists are supporting the cause too.

Mars Hill Church is sending a team down with photographers and videographers to bring back images so people can see and respond. Read the story below.
The Mars Hill Blog | Blog Archive » Haunted by Haiti

Posted using ShareThis

Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center has great pictures and blog to follow. Click below to see more from their blog.

The Gospel Coalition Blog has posted some really great, honest articles that give some perspective. I especially liked the article, "Live with Haiti in Your Heart." If you feel yourself stuck in a strange place of apathy and guilt, read this article.

Living Water International is an organization whose goal is to bring water to people all over the world, and also the living water of the gospel. Their goal is to repair 500 wells damaged by the earthquake. Click here to see how you can help. My family used our Christmas tithing money to support this great cause!

"We Will Rise Up"
This song is an anthem and a challenge to the church to rise up in the midst of hurting and pain to heal the world with the power of the Lord. Click on the link below to download it.. hopefully it works, it's a link from twitter. If not, go to NationsBeGlad twitter and they posted it there.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

thoughts from today

These are some thoughts and quotations that found their way into my journal while reading "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan:

  • The Spirit desires to use us when: our hearts are aligned with His vision, we are filled with genuine love for the church, we desire to see the church grow in love for God and others.
  • God's intention is that the gifts of the Spirit would point to God, not man, giving all the glory and praise to God and none to man.
  • I want to serve and use the gifts God has given me in a way that people give God praise and forget that I was involved.
  • miracles ALWAYS point to something GREATER
  • when you so casually say you were "called to a place" what do you mean? what would that place look like if you weren't there? what would the church look like if everyone gave and served and loved like you do... would it be healthy?
  • God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it's absolutely vital to grasp that He didn't call you there so you could settle in and live out your life in comfort and superficial peace.
  • I shouldn't be rejoicing in the gifts given, but in the GIVER and the GRACE freely given!
1 Corinthians 12:7
we are given a "manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" ... "empowered by One and the same Spirit who apportions to each one individually as He wills."

This morning I did some reading and planning my mornings for this week (www.inspiredtoaction.com), then I went to read and journal in El Centro, and then this afternoon I went to the feeding center. It was SO good to be back!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

stopping at 8

I don't care what you say, you phantom, cyber late night guilt-tripper. You can call me lame or loser or whatever you want to call me... I'm stopping at 8. I'm going to be done with electronics and planning and cleaning and thinking about anything but:
journal. Bible. bed.

If this goal seems slightly out of character for me... well, it is. It just kind of rolled off my fingers in the blank that says, "Title:" above this post. But, after it came out I decided it would be a bold goal. I will use a few of these minutes to give just one thought.

It all starts with this quote I picked up from over at my friend Kaci's blog.

"Entering the day without a serious meeting with God, over his Word and in prayer, is like entering the battle without tending to your weapons. The human heart does not replenish itself with sleep. The body does, but not the heart. We replenish our hearts not with sleep, but with the Word of God and prayer.” - John Piper

I read this today in the morning and sighed super heavy. Everyday resolutions struggle to be free every morning of my life. I'm not talking HUGE yearly ideas like losing 20 pounds or drinking wheatgrass everyday or becoming a professional singer or seamstress. I'm talking about every single morning when my alarm beeps at 4:45 a.m. I have this crazy inner wrestling match (strangely void of any physical motion) about how important it is for my resolutions to start this very day. It's always a toss up who wins. Now that I am reading through the Bible in a year, there's a lot going on in my mornings, so I really have to get moving, resolutions or not!! This quote brought it all back to center.

And there is God.

This morning, as I gathered details and permission slips for the orphanage field trip, I found out Michelletti (the current President) was going to visit. Nevermind the fact that this would never happen in the States, we pretty much lost any hope of salvaging the morning once the students found out. I can't try to explain how everything went down, but it was pretty neat to watch.

About 40 minutes after Michelletti left, I loaded up 25 7-12 graders into a bus to go to the orphanage for an afternoon of crafts, games, and a drama. We acted out Daniel in the Lion's Den and then we made Lion masks out of paper plates.

Then, at about 5, I tried to say I would "collapse," but instead I said I would, "complatz." I can't even reason out that I was smooshing two words or flip-flopped letters... it's just messed up (where did the 'm' come from??).

And I think back to the morning. And I think about the world and how big it is.

I think about the earthquake strong enough to flatten a city. I think about people who have survival first and
computers and
buses and
teriyaki and
music the last thing on their minds.

So, what will be the first on my mind tomorrow morning? The very first?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Last Names- A Wish List

Caroline's recent book crush, author Lauren Winner, has got me thinking of last names. Since I am currently unmarried, (and don't have a certain boy in mind that I'd like to hitch myself to permanently,) my future last name is still up for grabs. As someone who sees all things as opportunities, this gets me thinking. Wouldn't it be a great strategic move to use this "new last name" thing for the greatest gain? Like, marry someone with a cool, funny, or random last name just for fun? Yes, this does really cross my mind. Therefore, when I meet someone with a cool last name, I can't help but think...

Do they have a brother? :)

Here are some last names I'd love to get my hands on. (All real)

-Christina Nation (Christina Nation sounds like a SWEET PLACE!)
-Christina Winner (Lauren has got to feel good about herself in the morning with an affirmative last name like that)
-Christina Star
-Christina Fox
-Christina Speaks
-Christina Beach
-Christina Pigg (at least my middle name wouldn't change to ISA- but still...)

Some names I would NOT like to marry into.

-Christina Butt (kids would get beaten up, for sure)
-Christina Lame (opposite of the daily affirmative, daily downer!)
-Christina Pain (If I became a doctor, kids would not want to come to me with this last name)
-Christina Fager (Couldn't do this to my kids either)
-Christina Mrtwentyfourhours (oops, that's not his real name, just what my co-workers call him... ;) )
-Christina Lowersherstandards (just kidding- this one's not real)

Any other last names I'm missing?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lights Out, a short story

Awhile back (maybe a couple years) I started writing something just for fun. It was called, "Adventures of the Life I Wish I Led." It was meant to be a novel in the voice of a memoir... about all the adventures I take in my head. Maybe I was just overwhelmed at the idea of capturing those mind adventures in words or maybe I was intimidated at the really good idea I thought it was and so got a bit discouraged in the outworking of it all. Well, I have a new idea.

It's called: true stories. We'll see how it goes. This idea started out as a Christmas present to my parents, well, my mom really. She loves (or at least I tell myself she does) to read my writing and so I thought I could write some real-life tales in the form of children's short stories. I only got as far as three stories, with promises of more. Here is the first.
Winter had settled in to the tired country home, steeped on all corners with fluffy white. Five child-size flurries ran circles inside while their parents struggled to keep up with the winter games. The frigid cold snuck in under doorways and through weak windows to whisper on the necks of the great family in the season of Christmas.

The great family watched one day as the snow and ice piled high outside the windows. The child-size flurries had spent the day building igloos and angels and ramps for sleds, but were finally content to sit around the great family’s wooden table and sip fresh hot cocoa from the stirred pot on the stove. Long before dinner was a thought in Mother’s mind, darkness fell like a blanket on the country home in the valley.

Five pairs of rosy cheeks and tired eyes began to plead for promises of "dinner soon." But, before Mom could respond, winter’s darkness burst through the front door and consumed the country home. With masterful grace, Mother swooped all the child-size flurries under her tender Mother wings while lighting candles to push the cold darkness back out to winter.

The great family - Mother and Father and all the child-size flurries - excitedly spread the living room with candles and cards and popcorn on top of a bedsheet. And the dark night filled with the sounds of laughter and love until the last flurry was packed into the pullout couch and tucked in tightly to ward of winter’s chill.

I will never, ever, ever forget my mom's red, bursting face as she read the line, "with masterful grace..." She could not keep the giggles behind a straight, storyteller's face (of which she had to this point, done a very fine job). It probably took a good minute for her to recover and sputter something about, "masterful grace? more like, desperate panic!"

Oh, mom.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

taking the first step

I'm a little late, but I'm starting anyway. I'm going to read through the Bible in one year. Should I be ashamed that the reason this thought sunk in (finally after years of pondering) was a twitter post by ESVdaily? Well, I'm not. I am thankful for twitter and for ESV Study Bible (which, by the way, is an AMAZING online resource!) and I am thankful that God's Word has become so dangerously relevant (who knew that God would ever speak to me through Twitter?).

So, today was the first day I officially began. I boiled a large pot of water and brought a cup and a tea bag strong enough to last through several steaming water refills. The ESV Study Bible was a little overwhelming at first. But, now, I am understanding how absolutely amazing it was the day I decided to order a year of WORLD magazine and receive the study Bible as a bonus. A BIG bonus. I am doing the Bible Reading Plan, conveniently found at the back with the mountains of other useful information.

I read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Genesis 1, Luke 1:1-25, and 1 Chronicles 1. I spit through the genealogies of Chronicles and spilled a bit of tea on the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth in Luke, but other than that the readings are starting out splendidly, with Eric Schrotenboer playing some great piano hymns in the background. I feel the weight of the Old Testament and have a new hunger to understand it, thanks to Lauren Winner. I want to see the beauty of redemption through the eyes of God's chosen people.

Tonight I will go see the Micah boys for Sunday night service and probably return to more tea before I read a bit (now onto Forgotten God by Francis Chan) before sleeping soundly in my slightly tidy messy room.

Look tomorrow for the first of many short stories of my childhood :)

Saturday, January 09, 2010

sometimes walks are sacred

Today didn't go as I had planned.

When I did venture out, the air was warm on my face and the 30-minute walk to El Centro was therapeutic. Saturdays usually are filled with this or that and always Manos, the feeding center (a ministry set up on the outskirts of the city where many people were pushed after Hurricane Mitch). After I reached El Centro, discouragement was a phone call saying the feeding center was canceled because of a training for the center's teachers. I determined to finish my book (see below) and walk.

I know, I could afford to aim higher. But, today (and probably often) I think walks are sacred. Sometimes the brain energy it takes to process things falls into rhythm with my steps... left, right, left (step over large square hole in pavement), right, stutter around an oddly placed electric pole, left, right, left, nod and greet the mother/daughter walking towards me, right, left. Yes, I think walking is a sacred thing. Covering physical step after physical step and watching yourself make progress - setting off in a direction and arriving at a destination. I think the movement makes ideas rise to the surface and find clarity. The prayers I pray in these sacred walks don't sound like prayers at all. They sound much more like a conversation.

I got back to my house and accomplished some cleaning, mending (well, preparation for), reading, listening to music, and I am not really sure what else. You know, I think this feeling might come from my mother, but there is something ridiculously difficult about seeing an empty Saturday. I am here, shouldn't my Saturdays be full of ministry somewhere... or at least be full of something? I'm finding the answer is no.

here are a few things I'll recommend from today (when I wasn't walking)...
I am pages from finishing Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner and, well, the journey is one I will probably take again. I like thinking my roots travel far deeper than I have thought to dig. I like the challenge in the idea of liturgy and seasons and meaning hidden inside and between traditions and rituals. I read this book in four different places today and enjoyed it in each scene.

I just saw Meet the Browns (Tyler Perry movie). I watched it by myself, but that didn't stop me from chuckling and getting a little weepy. Good stuff.

Maximizing your Mornings (secretlifeofkat) So, this is my new take on mornings... I happened upon the secret life of Kat's blog awhile back and so recently stumbled upon her fabulous FREE ebook to help moms start their mornings off right. No, I don't have children, but I do need to go to boot camp for my morning routine and I think this might be the way to do it. Then, maybe when I DO have kids, I'll know how to handle myself.

My ears are having a play date with Jillian Edwards and, well, can you picture the best times spent in the backyard, the sandbox, the treehouse? Combine those times with a few road trips where your hands hang out the window to make wind rollercoasters.... that's the best explanation I've got.

Every day since I have returned from the States, I have taken a very serious and precious bite out of the raspberry truffle chocolate bar my sister gave me for Christmas. This amazing chocolate is from Vermont and I am dangerously close to writing a little note to appreciate their excellence!

Friday, January 08, 2010

joy and suffering

I spoke tonight about joy and suffering at the HS outreach. This is the passage (thanks to my mom) we focused on and I believe it is so powerful in our understanding of what joy is, how we can find it, and how much God desires we have it.

Nehemiah 8:1-15
1 all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel.
2 So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.
5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, "Amen! Amen!" Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
7 The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear [a] and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.
9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, "This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep." For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
10 Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve."
12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.
Read through this a couple times and see if your view of joy doesn't change too. Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Be Thou My Vision

Tonight's post is not inspired of anything inside me. I just want to share a hymn that is increasingly powerful in my life. As I pray for my brother traveling home from Colorado and my long distance friend in Canada, for my family snowed inside in Iowa and my unpredictable students here, for mission trip details and planning the talk for tomorrow night... as I do and think about all this, these words bring me back to center:


Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

it's so... cold?

Everyone in the region of my home state would guffaw me right off cyberspace if they heard me say this, but I'm saying it anyway, "I was cold today."

The dampness kind of crept in and up under my light corduroy jacket and kept my hands damp and kind of tingled my bones a little.

I just had to say that one thing about the cold and now I'll move on because I know of many others who are waking up super early to scrape ice off windshields and at night snuggle under electric blankets and trudge around in feet of snow in negative 25 temperatures. I'm sending my warmth to you, friends!

I kicked back with some more jasmine green tea tonight, but the craziness is starting to settle in. I found out this morning that I am going to speak this Friday on joy and suffering at our outreach event for 10-12 grades. What a topic! Ay!

Please comment with ideas and suggestions and love!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

here I am, Returning

I'm back.

My room is a mess. My overflowing suitcases lazily rest on the floor where I dumped them after a 16 hour journey, a bed of rumpled blankets boast the 12 hour nap that directly followed my arrival, each thoughtful gift I received over Christmas lays half-pondered on the ground where I have very good intentions about fully pondering it, a strange collection of mail that should've been shoved in one of those convenient blue boxes is still clinging to the insides of my suitcase,

and I am sitting here, drinking jasmine green tea and typing.

I was in Iowa for almost 1 1/2 weeks. The snow wooed my warmed, Honduran heart and the faces of favorite people filled my vision. There were not enough hugs and jokes and convos and laughs... but there were so many! The laughter made me certain of God's goodness (if I wasn't before), because if we are made in His image then He must be the Ultimate at laughter and that makes me love Him all the more. Sewing with my grandma and crowding my mother's kitchen, running around with cousins in the snow and cuddling up in a blanket with my sisters, wrapping a cold night with the wise words of my grandpa and chilling with my best friends who also happen to be my siblings...
I'm returning to community and family. I'm returning to the admission that we need people.

My best friend Meghan asked me to be her maid-of-honor. Our eyes filled up a little bit, but life is mostly the same between us - we share the kind of understood love that doesn't necessarily send emails or letters or phone calls, but it prays and hopes and is still so fierce.
I'm returning to the joy of the heart friends I only see once-in-awhile. I'm returning to believing I can love them without a face-to-face coffee date.

I snuggled into two books before I jumped on a big Continental bird to fly back here. One I have nearly finished after two days: Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner. Winner's writing style reminds me why I love getting lost in between black and white typed words. I heard her speak when I was in college, but my too-skeptic college self didn't allow me to believe her story was good. Well, it is. The other book is Forgotten God by Francis Chan and it is proving just as delightful ... my heart is necessarily challenged at each page-turn.
I'm returning to believing things are good and worthy of hours of thinking and digesting and several cups of jasmine green tea.

I bought a new journal at Target in Michigan. The store startled me with all the bright reds and discounted prices, but I managed to find a $3.24 eco-friendly journal with wide pages and a wire binding (very important, as I like to flip each page completely behind).
I'm returning to writing with a pen. I'm returning to saying my prayer with bold strokes. I'm returning to a personal account of fears and failures.

My sister Christina's birthday is today. I only left the states a couple days ago, but memories always make me feel uncomfortable with my love. My sister isn't really one for precious, picture moments with fluffy words and embraces. She is the queen of conversation and wild with wit... but sometimes I just have to know that she can feel my love without words or corny phrases. I know it, I do and I'm whispering happy birthdays today for her.
I'm returning to confidence in how people understand my love. I'm returning to believing that my sister doesn't need to be persuaded - she just knows how much I love her even when my hands are empty.

My friend Chels is my new mentor (she doesn't know that yet). I turned my head slightly after college to pursue what I thought important. It was easy, as we all went separate ways ...but a few years later here she emerges as this gentle well, deep with wisdom. I am sad to not have watched the process or been more supportive as she grew brilliantly toward the light of Love.
I'm returning to knowing I have much to learn. I am returning to humbly searching the deep, deep wells of the wise ones around me.

here I am, returning.