December 1, 2011

Actual Reality

"Actual reality! Act up! Fight AIDS!" (a line from one of my favorite shows/musicals RENT)
Today is World AIDS Day and I'm having a hard time putting into words what I want to say.  God calls us to pray and seek the good of the city in which we live, to protect the orphan and widow, love our neighbors, free slaves, feed the hungry...to be His hands and feet to serve those in need.  All of these tell me that I should be praying for a cure and supporting the cause to heal the millions effected by this terrible disease. Disease, pain, sickness, sorrow, natural disasters, betrayal, hatred...the list goes on and on, reminders that things are not as they should be.  Reminders like today make me long for the day when God fulfills His promise to heal every disease and wipe every tear from His people's eyes.  But until that day He calls us to be His hands and feet to spread His blessings and love far as the curse in found.  So until that day comes I will pray and give, spread information and encourage folks to get tested and get active in the cause.  Check out http://www.worldaidsday.org/ . 
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

Linking up with Emily and others redeeming the imperfect over at Imperfect Prose

November 17, 2011

Christmas Minor Keys and my favorite moment in television


I decorated this week!  I know it's a bit early but life has been kicking my butt and I definitely needed some Christmas in my life.
Glitter and God's promise to live with His people work together so well to give me a new perspective.  
My all-time favorite Christmas television special is Merry Christmas Charlie Brown.  The minor key of "Christmas Time is Here" seems to get at the heart of slightly melancholy longing that I associate with Christmas.  
As much as I long for the joy and peace that Christmas brings, I know that it will only last for a season.  I know that I'll keep longing until the day that Jesus comes back or He brings me home, but it sure is nice to have glimpses of glory caught in fairy lights and mistletoe to look forward to.   




And then there's the fact that Linus preaches the gospel each year on national television for the best moment ever!!!

linking up my Christmas melancholy joy with Emily at Imperfect Prose

November 9, 2011

Dragons, Manhattans, Snowmageddon, and Alphabetical Christmas Playlists

Let's just say it's been a busy month.  As some of you know I am a Fire Inspector/firefighter, but in October my job title changes to "Fire Prevention Rockstar."  I love fire prevention and public education...teaching people how not to set their house on fire and how to get out safely if something goes wrong is one of the many things that get me jazzed up pretty easily.  October is fire prevention month (because the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire falls in there), which means I get to educate the public even more :) This year, not only did I get to visit students and teach them about fire safety but I found a book to share too! No Dragons for Tea: A fire-safety book for kids and dragons is now my new favorite book and I'm pretty sure I can recite it now from reading it so often.  It's a great intro to fire safety concepts for kids...and it rhymes!  "When the smoke alarm says beep beep beep get out fast and stay out" "stay 3 giant steps away from things that get hot" "stop drop and roll" "don't play with matches" "do a fire drill at home, with 2 ways out of every room" became my daily mantra.  I love my job but 1200 kids in 3 weeks kicked my butt a bit.


To celebrate surviving Fire Prevention Month, I hosted a 1950's cocktail party for my knitting club posse.  Cooking is uber relaxing for me so it was a great way to unwind...
so is drinking a manhattan in a fun party dress and apron!


If only the chillaxing could have lasted....less than 24 hours after my party I was suited up in my firefighting gear responding to back-to-back emergency calls during a freak snow storm on October 29th.  As it's been a pretty mild fall a lot of trees still had leaves on them, this plus the thick slush and ice that fell from the sky did a whole lot of damage...trees and powerlines closing down roads, power out for more than a week in a lot of places...it was a mess.  I spent most of last week getting to practice hospitality alondside my co-workers by answering phones at an emergency operations center and working at a shelter for those who were displaced by the storm.  While the storm and the damage that was done by it was a mess and not something I would ever wish to have again, it was fun to be able to use that gift at my "day job."

Now that power has been restored, roads have been cleared and the citizenry has been educated it's time to focus on upcoming holidays!!! Since Halloween has come and gone, I feel that I am allowed to rock the Christmas tunes (on a low volume for now until Thanksgiving) at work and start lighting pine scented candles (at a constantly attended location of course).  One of my favorite Christmas playlists on my iTunes (yes I have more than one) is a mixed CD that I made for my lovely cousin...i unknowingly recorded it in alphabetical order.  Luckily she shares my love of most things orderly and the alphbetical nature of the CD gave her much joy.  So know I listen to it in alphabetical order.

God has taught me some things since I last wrote:
1. It is not possible to be all things to all people and I need to be more prayerful about commitments I make
2. Burn-out is a real and ever present threat, i must learn to be poured out and not get burned out... as my mother said, "God calls us to be a vessel not a phoenix"
3. The body of Christ is a beautiful thing
4. Glimpses of heaven in toddler laughs, pre-schooler looks of wonder, and friendly hugs are worth more than I ever realize in the moment that they happen.

I'm sorry I have been so absent and that I have been so long-winded in my return.  Thank you for your patience with my journey!

Linking up with Emily at Imperfect Prose

October 5, 2011

writer's block and jack o lanterns

i haven't written much lately because I have been at a loss for words when I sit at my computer to write.  Driving home from work, picking out which peanut butter to buy at the grocery store, when I lie awake in the middle of the night staring at the clock....these are the times when words fill my head and thoughts come together.  Then just as quickly the words fade, the thoughts no longer make sense, the rational part of my brain takes over and says, "you can't post that."  Part of my problem is that October is just a rough month anyways, we have a history you might say...October is a month of reality, and that doesn't always suit me very well.  Somehow that transition from September to October hits, like a child the year turns from 9 to 10 and the weight of "double digits" brings closure to a simpler time.  The expectations of a new year, the hopefulness of spring, the rollicking reverie of summer, even the excitement of a new school year all seem to slip away and I start to think, "well it hasn't happened yet, it probably won't this year," and that makes me a bit gloomy.   The days are significantly shorter and there's no hiding the fact that I can see my breath when I leave for work in the morning.  Summer dresses can no longer stand up to the dropping temperatures and the toes that reveled in sunshine and sandals are banished to the dungeons of socks and boots.  And then on top of all of this reality and chill there's halloween hitting me in the face everywhere I go.   Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good costume and pumpkins and my fair share of funsized candies; I'm even a huge fan of the Nightmare Before Christmas, but there is only so much creepiness I can take.  Gorey goblins and wicked witches, spooky spiders and grey gravestones seem to take up every available space, and the constant reminder of death and evil just get a bit tiring after a while.
I know that some people get mad about Christmas taking over store fronts in October, they claim that Christmas has no place taking over Halloween and Thanksgiving's time in the spotlight.  In some ways I can see their point but for me it's one of the few things that gets me through October.  The Incarnation, God becoming flesh and dwelling among His people is what gives me hope. I know that no matter how much reality slaps me around that Jesus felt the same.  Walking through Macy's and seeing the Christmas dishes displayed, Hallmark moving the ornaments to the front of the store, sneaking a Christmas CD into my computer at work, these are all things that give me joy and get me through the first frosts and barrage of jack o' lanterns because they remind me that Jesus loves me enough to take on flesh.  And because He came and lived here on Earth for a bit, I know that not only does He "get it" when the gloominess sinks in and I can only pray in sighs, but He will also love me through it.  In the words of one of my fabulous Titus 2 Women, "Christmas really does make everything better"

Linking up with Emily at Imperfect Prose

September 7, 2011

Functional Glitter

These are my new much beloved boots!  They found me at a fair last weekend and I just had to bring them home.  Icould not be happier with them, I now have real boots to do my boot-scooting in!

On the ride home from the fair, I was so excited about them that I reached into the bag and pulled one out to began reading the description on the tag of all of these boots' wonderful features. 
Not only are the insoles padded and moisture-wicking (a much appreciated feature for when "you could have danced all night") but the carbon-rubber outsoles are actually designed to be "acid and manure resistant"!
Imagine, something so pretty, with all of that shiny bling, being designed to last through mud and muck!

In the midst of my giggles about this feature it hit, isn't that what love is supposed to be?

Functional, resilient, and yet beautiful? 
I remember my Pastor saying once that Romans 12 is a picture of love with it's overalls on ready to work, this is what love is to look like in real life ...
"9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
   “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
   if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

The beauty of hospitality and compassion, the tirelessness of joy in hope and sincerity, the peaceful strength of true humility, the manure resistance  of overcoming evil with good!
Who knew that cowboy boots could preach the gospel?
I pray that my heart will be ever more shaped like my Savior's, covered in functional glitter.

Linking up with Emily and others at imperfect prose.

August 24, 2011

Cosmic Giraffe

Let me begin by saying, "I wish my phone took better pictures..."
One day at work, running between inspections and appointments
I stood at town hall waiting for the world's slowest elevator
In my waiting I took time to look at the artwork on the bulletin board
And there I saw it... A GIRAFFE!
(for those of you new to this spot...I love giraffes!! For a full explanation click here )
And not just any giraffe, a giraffe falling through space!
"What?" you may ask, but you heard me correctly
On top of construction paper black covered with stars and moons and planets crayon bright
lay pasted a construction paper, elementary-aged drawn, giraffe....
legs sprawled to either side, falling head first, tail tangling in the cosmic breeze
this second grade art project, hung in town hall, has been on my mind since the first time I saw it...
Giraffes are fearless - strong, in control of their world, gracefully striding over grass and mud
I want to believe that giraffes are strong because they are fearless, not fearless because they are strong
I want to believe that this cosmic giraffe is confident and strong even though it is so far out of it's element
how often have I felt like that giraffe lately....Life is going along normally and then all of a sudden I find myself upside down falling through space, left wondering "What happened?  How in the world did I get here?"
Fearlessness is much easier when control and predictability are mine for the taking...but what about when my world flips upside down and shakes my into space?
I want to be fearless - strong when found suddenly falling through space
not fearless because I know my own strength
but strong because I know that I have nothing to fear
confident in the One's whose hands I find myself in, confident in the grasp of my Savior
...I have a long way to grow before I am that fearless-strong but I am growing and for now that is enough


Linking up with Emily and others at Imperfect Prose

July 27, 2011

a month of sundays

ever have one of those days when you feel like you're running around like a chicken with it's head chopped off?
that life is just sort of happening to you instead of you being able to control any of it
that there just aren't enough hours in the day, or days in the week for that matter?
it has been one of those weeks...no months....no summers for me
At every turn I feel pulled in a another direction by something good to do
even vacation has been a bit hectic, something is planned for every weekend and almost every week night
I don't want to say no to any of it....it's all fun things to do or things people I love want me to do
even the idea of quiet time seems like a "to-do" instead of a respite
when I do slow down for sabbath or night I clunk to sleep, no energy or brain power left for thoughtful reflection or mediation
I know that this cycle is unhealthy and that eventually it will have to end, but I just don't want to say "no" to any of it.
I'm definitely having a Martha-type summer, when the plan was to have a Mary-type season
I know that delegation and self-control are needed,
that I must find time to "be still and know that He is God"
right now I feel like my brain is a ball of yarn-snot (you know those tangled knotted clumps that pop out of the middle of a skein of yarn just when you've gotten a rhythm down to crocheting?)
I know that tugging and praying for the best won't untangle it, i must put my work down an focus on untangling the mess before I move forward
I could use a month of Sundays

July 19, 2011

Gonna put the world away for a minute...Pretend I don't live in it



This explains where I've been for the past few weeks, I've been wandering unplugged from the world of blogs and whatnot.  I've been feeling pretty fried lately, posting on facebook my varied attempts to press control-alt-delete to reboot my brain....smelling salt air, fingerpainting, crafting, hanging out with family, watching movies, reading, etc.  Instead of writing about what this experience has taught me I thought I would share some of the pictoral evidence of my mental vacation...since I haven't quite figured out what I've learned yet.

June 29, 2011

glitter glue and world peace

Sometimes spilling glitter and squishing paint between my fingers is necessary for my emotional and mental well-being and stability.
My thoughts shout and pull in so many directions that I feel like I just need to DO SOMETHING
Messy creativity somehow helps me get my thoughts back to running smoothly and not sabotaging my peace and joy.
Finger paints, glitter, mod podge, scraps of paper, photographs, pieces of clothe...these are my reset button when my mind needs to re-boot.
If I don't create when I get the itch, I tend to get a bit touchy and cranky and not fun to live with
I wonder if people were allowed to take mental health days in order to create something (anything-even if its just a mess) if a lot drama and conflict could be avoided.
I know if listened to the urge to create a little sooner I would be able to avoid my inappropriate responses to minor inconveniences
I not saying that glitter glue will bring world peace, only Jesus' return will bring that, but I am thinking that listening to our hearts' cry to create might make us as individuals easier to live with

Joining up with others who create and express to communicate at Emily's for Imperfect Prose

June 22, 2011

"i didn't recognize you without the handcuffs"...RENT, Phish food, and other guilty pleasures

As a first-born, type A, over achiever, I feel like I was designed to go go go
Most days I try to stay on top of things,
deadlines, meetings, homework, expectations, projects, travels, friendships
all good things, all worthy of my undivided attention
but sometimes all of that undivided attention leaves me feeling
thin...sort of stretched, like...butter scraped over too much bread. (thank you Bilbo Baggins)
that's when I realize that my brain needs a holiday
It doesn't take much
  • an ice cream cone on my lunch break,
  • a night in front of one of my old familiar movie friends like RENT, Sabrina, Harry Potter or Sweet Home Alabama
  • a new nail polish color, hair color, or shower gel to try
  • Ben and Jerry's straight out of the tub while thumbing through a mindless magazine
  • a coloring book and crayons
...something that requires enough attention to silence the racing thoughts, but not so much attention that I really have to think.  Just enough to escape reality, until I feel like I can rejoin the world.

Tonight is a guilty pleasure night....watching RENT, singing along to every song, eating ice cream and making a up of chamomile tea
Life has been kicking my butt a little lately but I know that's only a matter of time before this too shall pass.

I know that there are probably healthier ways to regain my sanity, but for now this works for me
how bout you? how do you unwind?

linking up with Emily and others at Imperfect Prose

June 15, 2011

Gilbert Blythe, Sky Masterson, Adam Pontipee, and Boaz

Facebook statuses have a funny way of latching on to my mind.  This is one I saw today, "Repost for the LADIES: While wating on ur BOAZ, don't settle for any of his relatives...Brokeaz, Poaz, Lyingaz, Cheatingaz, Dumbaz, Fakeaz, Cryingaz, Lockedupaz, Goodfornuthingaz, Lazyaz, Ignantaz, and especially Beatyoaz....wait for BOAZ!!! If u don't know who Boaz is, read ya Bible or Google it! Lol :-)"
Aside from making me laugh out loud, it got me to thinking...what am I looking for in a "Boaz"?  
 
Those who know me or have followed me for a bit know that I tend to think in movie quotes and song lyrics...this has translated to my romantic ideals.
Gilbert Blythe, Sky Masterson, Adam Pontipee, Luke Danes, that scottish doctor from Christy...the list goes on a bit but you get the general idea.  Some girls are looking for Prince Charming to sweep them off of their feet like Philip does to Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, but my middle school heroes were decidedly less disney.  Sometimes I joke that these men are the reason I haven't settled down, how can I ever find a man that lives up to such an eclectic group of standards?  I don't even know what they have in common other than the fact that I mooned over them as a seventh grade girl trying to figure out what love looks like.  
Pondering the list, it looks like strength is a common denominator (as is stubbornness to a fault).  As I have grown I have added a few things to the list...does he love Jesus?  Does he like pie? (that's a story for another blog) Is he intimidated by the fact that I run into burning buildings?  Is he aware that I come as a package deal with all of my friends and nephews and family? 
The longer the list the more impossible the task seems to be.
Thank God He knows my heart better than I do and that "with God all things are possible."  
I know that my list needs have some wiggle room, and I know that marriage is not an answer to a problem or a guarantee for happiness.  I know that marriage is the union of two sinners, who have the privilege of becoming intimately acquainted with each other's foibles and flaws.  
But as my sister once said, "it would be nice to have someone legally and spiritually bound to deal with my garbage."  or to quote Lorelai Gilmore, "You know there are very few times in my life when I find my self sitting around, thinking I wish I was married, but today... I... I'm happy, you know? I like my life, I like my friends, I like my... stuff. My time, my space, my TV. But every now and then, just for a moment I wish I had a partner, someone to pick up the slack, someone to wait for the cable guy, make ME coffee in the morning. Meet the stupid sink before it gets shipped back to Canada"
I don't know when God will bring me my Gilbert-Sky-Adam-Boaz, or even if he will, but I do know that until I know that it's from God, I'm not going to settle for any of Boaz's relatives.

If your still reading this rambling mess, thanks for listening...sometimes typing makes it all make a little bit more sense.

June 8, 2011

auntie lauri

Most people who know me, know I want to be a mom
...and I have for a while
Growing up, I had numerous ideas for what "I wanted to be when I grew up"
but it was always something and a wife and mother
Sometimes this long lasting desire clouds my heart, and I doubt God's goodness
Many times I have been frustrated by the lack of opportunity for this desire to be met,
instead of recognizing God's goodness in placing me in exactly the position He wants me in
by His grace, those times have become less frequent, but they still happen
But when those doubting times happen, even in the midst of my minds active rebellion against God and His goodness
God is still good to me and tells me that He's got me and I need not doubt or be afraid

God knows my heart's desire better than I do and He alone knows when or how it will be fulfilled
For now He has blessed me richly by calling me to be Auntie Lauri my 3 favoritetest boys in the world
Being part of their world enables me to keep a better perspective on mine and although it's not exactly how I thought my life would go
For now this is enough

linking up with Emily and others at imperfect prose

June 1, 2011

new soil

I must begin by saying that God is faithful!
He answers the cries of my heart even when I cannot find the words to shape them
Prayers humbly typed in "blogosphere" somehow reached the ears of God and He came through for me
not in the way I thought I wanted
but in a way all His own
rootbound and melancholy He plucked me out of my comfort zone
not in one fell swoop this time
but in countless little ways these past two weeks
some pruning here
a little trimming there
each new project a bigger bowl to stretch my roots out into
kindred spirits popping up in the most unexpected places
bringing joy and casting out doubt
like lady bugs descending to eat away my aphids
My prayer now is for faithfulness to meet God where He has placed me
...to trust and doubt no more

Joining up with Emily and others at Imperfect Prose

May 18, 2011

Root-bound

yellowing leaves...starting from the inside
stunted growth
fewer flowers
symptoms looking like too dry or too wet but not quite
roots once safe and warm suddenly bumping into walls, twisting in on themselves, getting tangled and outgrowing home
restlessness settles in slow and steady in both my plants and my soul
if only re-potting was as easy for my soul as it is for my norfolk island pine
last time I felt like this I up and went to Kenya
but now with deeper roots and more responsibilities then I had two years ago
I'm praying for adventures closer to home
just as my pine had to wait patiently for me to re-pot it into roomier home
I'm waiting on God to give my roots some breathing room in some new adventures
because He loves me and knows my heart even better than I do

Joining up with Emily and others at Imperfect Prose

May 11, 2011

hank williams jr, lilacs, and narnia

A man of much worldly experience has been known to sing, "If heaven ain't a lot like Dixie, I don't wanna go"
if it were me I would sing, if heaven doesn't have lilacs, I don't want to go!
(well I would still want to go, but I would probably be a bit disappointed)
I love lilacs...this time of year I find reasons to leave my desk and walk by the bush in the green by town hall just to get a few good lung-fulls of that beautiful scent in me to get me through the day.  I believe there is not a problem that May can throw at me that lilacs won't help.  Someday, my home will have a big lilac bush ( or two or three) planted right by my windows so that when I air the house out for spring cleaning I can welcome in that aroma.
While my love of lilacs and a few other pieces of this rock we call home (like ocean waves and gala apples and clear starry nights) may seem a bit random and a little nutty, they're one of the reasons I am so greatful for heaven to look forward to. 
Being raised in a christian home sometimes wonder how my life would be different if I didn't know God and His promises.  If I didn't have a new heavens and new earth to look forward to, I would be scared of dying.  I can't imagine facing each day knowing that I may not smell lilacs again or eat another crisp apple, but God, the Creator of all things, promises to renew and redeem all parts of creation, to restore everything to even better than it was in the beginning!  So instead of fearing never smelling lilacs again, I can look forward to smelling them the way God always meant for them to smell, without the taint of the curse of mortality on them.
It's like when everyone goes through the door in The Last Battle , "But that was not the real Narnia.  That had a beginning and an end.  It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia which has always been here and will always be here....You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy.  All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door." 
I can't wait to echo the unicorn and say "I have come home at last! this is my real country! I belong here.  This is the land I have been longing for all my life, though I never knew it till now.  The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this."
I believe I love lilacs because they smell a little like heaven, and for now that is enough.

Joining up with Emily and others at Imperfect Prose

April 27, 2011

hope that does not disappoint

perhaps I tempted fate a bit too much last week
let that be a lesson to me, never claim an eeyore week before it is through
last week went from gray to prickly black...ever read that book about alexander and the horrible no-good very bad day?
life it seemed was getting in my way at every turn, barring productivity, joy, peace
everything I touched got ruined...
but Halleluiah! Easter morning did not disappoint!
dressed in a pretty dress with a rockin' hat I went to church determined that joy would come with the morning
everyone dressed up, the sanctuary filled to overflowing with faces, some familiar some not
the orchestra played, the Word was read and Pastor preached on Job
wait Job? you may ask...YES!
Even in the midst of all of his suffering and pain, ever so much more than I could bear or even imagine, he proclaimed "I know my Redeemer lives"
Life is messy and muddy, painful and slow at times, but I know that my Redeemer lives.
All these things shall pass away and I will think on them no more when I see His face smiling at me.
Because my Redeemer lives I have nothing to fear
Because my Redeemer lives I can love freely because His love satisfies when others disappoint
Because my Redeemer lives I have joy and hope in knowing that I am on my way home
Because my Redeemer lives I can recognize hints of heaven in truth and beauty that I see around me
Thank God that hope in Him does not disappoint!

Linking up with Emily and others today at Imperfect Prose

April 20, 2011

plumb tuckered out

 I'm tired
I'm not sure why but it's making these past few gray days even drearier
It's been an eeyore kind of a week
even with the daffodils blooming and trees beginning to bud - the promise of spring has seemed awfully far off
Between hard things going on, gray cold mornings, rainy afternoons and chilly damp nights
the dark feels like it's closing in and it is just plumb tuckering me out trying to fight it
...but i keep telling myself that Sunday is coming
I love Easter!  
Easter morning reminds me that though Thursday and Friday loom heavy with
  somber words and desperate prayers
  betrayals sealed with a kiss
  ransom bought with blood not my own,
the story doesn't end on friday night
Sunday is coming with
  death conquered
  love victorious
  promises kept
the black rain clouds in my soul will only last so long,
soon light will break through and scatter darkness...
not because of anything I can do but because Jesus says so

Thank God that He knows my frail heart well enough to know that I need reminders
I long for the day when I won't need reminders of the resurrection anymore because I will see the Risen One face-to-face

linking up with Emily tonight at Imperfect Prose

April 13, 2011

Living on Kenyan Time


It’s funny how life cycles around and things occur in spurts.  Lately God has been bringing Kenya to mind in all sorts of ways.  Every once in a while, but lately more often than normal,  a smell will bring a flashback, or a craving for Kenyan tea will hit or someone will ask me about my trip.  Last time I wrote seemed to be the beginning of the cycle…the tip of the iceberg of memories.  I know that that scar of poverty-witnessed is embossed on my heart, but these reminders have got me to thinking, in what other ways has my life changed since that excellent adventure?
I remember wondering, on the plane ride home, at how my life would ever be the same, ready to change the world or at least my view of it…I also remember mourning how “normal” life returned so quickly once I got home.
One recurring thought is about how I use my time.  “Kenyan time” was a fluid concept, punctuality was more of a loose suggestion then a rule.  It took a while to get used to as an American, especially as a New Englander, but now I wish I could have some of that fluidity back.  I wish I could find a way to work that freedom into my life to put relationships before results and people before punctuality.  In theory it sounds like a good plan, but it’s a lot easier said than done.  I also miss the tea breaks in the morning and afternoon, a time to sip and talk and reflect regardless of to-do lists and deadlines. 
The more I’ve thought about this concept of Kenyan time I guess a lot of this boils down to “living in community” being a cultural priority.  When community is your guiding principle then time and tea and talking all flow out pretty naturally.  I also think that a culture of need is a pretty big driving force, when food and shelter and other basic needs are harder to come by, you have to rely on your community for support  Physical need seems to stop a lot of competition in its tracks and focuses everyone on what’s important.  I wish I knew how to translate a realization of spiritual poverty into the catalyst for community that physical poverty is. 
How amazing would it be if the recognition of our sinfulness and brokenness pushed us to rely on our brothers and sisters more strongly, instead of pushing us to retreat into our stone soul-castles casting out everyone who would dare try and come close enough to see our weakness. 
I pray that God will open my eyes to see the needs of myself and of those around me as opportunities for relationship building…that I would not focus on how to fix the problem but how to love through it and let God do the healing.

Linking up with a community of brokenness at Imperfect Prose

March 30, 2011

Scars...revisited

This week I want to re-visit something I wrote on my other blog 2 summers ago when I was in Kenya....

I've been thinking about scars lately, how they don't hurt but can tell a story and can bring back memories of pain or growth. 
Maybe that's one of the reasons I am here, God wanted to give my heart a scar of poverty...that the pain I have seen and felt this summer and the growth in understanding and love from it might eventually not always hurt or invade every waking thought as they do now but will leave a mark that others will see and will give me a better ability to share my story and how God has worked in my life. 

Looking in the mirror now, I can still see the scar.  Like any physical scar, sometimes its hard to see and sometimes it stands out vividly, and sometimes i can still feel the sting.  In a way I wish those times that I feel the sting would happen more frequently.  Looking back now I am saddened at how easily it seemed to scab and heal over, how easily I forget that it's there.  But God is gracious and holds a mirror to it every once in a while and reminds me that it's still there.

Linking up with Emily and others at Imperfect Prose 

March 23, 2011

barefeet searching for excellence


This is the end of my barefooted adventures…whatever is admirable.  It seems that all the things that came before –truth, purity, right-ness, beauty – feeds into this final thought as if these things are not enough but I must think of only the highest caliber in each category.
My heart is prone to wander, making idols or created things instead of loving the Creator as I should.  I think that this final requirement is the only defense against idolatry.
It is so easy to love things of truth or beauty, to look up to those who are right and pure and to let it end as admiration instead of letting those things do their job and point us to the Author of all Beauty, Truth, and Right.  I shield my heart’s eyes from the infinite glory of God shining in my face and instead focus on the objects reflecting that glory and call them the source.  By calling me to ponder excellence God is pulling my hands away and telling me to stop taking the easy way out. I need to let my eyes feel the disquiet of infinite glory and see my heart’s defects in the light it provides.  Only in this light can I see how much I need God’s grace and how far Jesus had to stoop to pull me up from darkness.
Barefeet takes courage, I pray that God would strengthen my heart.

March 9, 2011

lovely barefeet

“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely…”

March in New England is a hard time to focus on lovely. November is kind of a drag for it’s grayness – March is defined by brownness. The world around me seems enveloped in a smear of mud The snow that once was white and clean is the gray-brown of road salt and the ground newly reveled that once was green in summer splendor is now brown with dead leaves and mud.

Mud is everywhere…roads, yards, homes, cars, clothes. I have to admit I’m pretty good at suspending reality and being optimistic, but even I can have a hard time imagining mud into lovely.
Trees are lovely, flowers are lovely, clean flowing streams and crisp green lawns are lovely…even freshly fallen snow and dripping icicles are lovely, but there is just something about mud.

Perhaps mud’s “lovely” comes in the anticipation. Mud season is a season like all others and I know that “this too shall pass.” The sight and sounds and smells of mud may not be lovely in and of themselves but there is something in the air tickling the senses and teasing of spring to come. Like the first few chords of a favorite song, this March air can get the adrenaline pumping. “No, all is not as it should be yet, but it will be soon” the earth seems to say.

The lovely is there for the taking in March, it just needs to sought fiercely and held tightly.
In the midst of cold and colds, surprise snow that has over stayed it’s welcome, dirty snow/ice piles, potholes, and flooded streams, hope for change is in the air. That tricksy southern sun warmed wind catches your ear and whispers as Narnians said the spell began to break… “Aslan is on the move.” And that is a lovely thought indeed.

Letting my bare feet get a little muddy and joining up with Emily and others at Imperfect Prose.

March 2, 2011

purely barefoot

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure,

Purity is a lost art.  Not that any  person or time or place could claim true purity, but it seems that at some point the pursuit of purity used to be something worth doing.   
Yes, there are still individuals who pursue purity or maybe even a few groups, but as a culture nothing could be more foreign. 
The loss of absolute truth may have something to do with it...by definition purity has no room for gray areas or exceptions or excuses.  It demands perfection...pure love, pure joy, pure peace, pure faith... all without a shadow of doubt. Part of me longs for those things, and yet when I look at my life through this filter of purity all I can see are smudges and taints, shadows and holes; and I wonder, so far gone, is it worth it to try anymore for purity?

I know that Jesus' pure love, pure, obedience, pure sacrifice is the only hope for my soul.  It is only in Him that I may be made pure.  Washed clean not by my pursuit and striving but by His blood. 
The pursuit of purity is only effective when it is the fruit of being forgiven
And yet, this pursuit is even more counter-cultural than the pursuit of purity for purity's sake. 

I'm wrestling with this and joining my voice to the community at Imperfect Prose

February 23, 2011

barefooted justice


Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right
As a girl born and raised in the Constitution State I feel that I have a genetic predisposition to love rules.  I like knowing where I stand and what I need to do…and what I can expect others to do.  The problem is that in a broken world, communication breaks down and rules are more of a fluid concept to most people.  The rules only apply when convenient or personally beneficial….I must confess that I’ve been known to craft a few loop holes myself every once in a while.  Loop holes, exceptions, special cases, appeals, and the like have become so much a part of the regulatory culture that we live in, it has become difficult to find what real rules apply.  It seems the Pharisees had this same problem in Jesus’ time.  Spending more time on their made up rules that they felt that could follow than they did on God’s perfect law.  I think that is why we make some many superfluous rules and laws…we like to feel we measure up  and the more rules we can claim to follow the less the more we can numb the sting of non-compliance with the rules that really matter.
All of this baggage aside, what does God require? Perfection.
Plain and simple, complete obedience…I couldn’t do it and so Jesus did it for me.  In response to that perfection God calls me to love Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love others as I love myself.  He calls me to seek justice, love mercy and to walk humbly before Him.  He calls me to seek the welfare of others before my own.   After quite a bit of prayer and thinking this week I think it boils down to the fact that doing anything less than loving God in all that I say do, and think; and loving and treating every other human being as an individual created in the image of God, is doing injustice.  It’s a high standard that I fail in every day, but this is what God is calling me to do.  I pray that He would work in my heart, to strengthen the muscles I need to do this better…that I would learn to love well – for that is justice.
Walking barefoot and joining up with the community at  Imperfect Prose