30 Dec 2012 Leave a Comment
25 Nov 2012 1 Comment
I’ve been writing a blog post for almost an hour now. Not actively; I just started typing seconds ago. But I pulled my computer onto my lap forever ago, clicking open Google Chrome, watching the mouse slide across the screen as if of its own accord. I should have written an hour ago, but I didn’t and I’m here now and really, how much difference does an hour make?
I returned to school this evening after a wonderful, wonderful Thanksgiving break with my family in Michigan. There’s a long and lengthening list of things that we do every Thanksgiving weekend, every time we celebrate together, and there’s a settled comfort between flying from event to event, outing to outing, and enjoying the soft, enjoying the quiet, in our time together.
And I’m here again for the first time in days and my insides are turning a little, and I’m beginning to feel just a little unsettled, and I think I just figured out why. Because maybe tradition isn’t code for easy, and wonderful doesn’t translate to simple. And I’m starting to think that what I need right now is just a little time to process.
Because the air mattress makes a sound every time I blink, and I’ll eventually fall asleep with my phone under me, but flip flip squeak over and stay awake for a while. Cousins are two years apart and this time, this night-time to talk and laugh and be is what we treasure.
Because maybe it wasn’t to our advantage to divide teams generationally; there’s wisdom with age, and there’s accumulated knowledge as well, and if we get one more question about 1930s movie stars, we’re going down. But Catchphrase is catch-all and even the littles pipe up on this one, and slip of the tongue- no, that’s what I meant, we’re all sitting in this room, and the game’s beeping out of time, but nobody cares because we’re all laughing too hard.
Because there’ve been more than family members around here, now, and friends make their way through our weekend, too. And it’s gift giving time and friend sits behind because this is family Christmas, after all. But there’s a gift bag with her name, too, and tears sometimes come when our name’s not what we were expecting, and deep happiness runs under it all.
And back at school The Neighbor’s laughing and these walls are thin. And Jen taps on the door and Mary knows me well. Liv and I talk profs we love and I hear a greeting down the hall and someone vacuumed and Nelle says like coming home.
I don’t have head space for thoughts that need sorting, or heart space for emotions conflicting strong. But Skype ding and What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly. And my heart grabs tight onto something there, but I can’t figure out if it’s supposed to apply to my school work or my heart, or my future.
But then again, I guess that’s what makes me the caterpillar.
08 Oct 2012 Leave a Comment
Monday night at 10pm, and it’s uncharacteristically busy up here in the game room. There’s deep irony in the fact that the two places I promised my freshman self I’d steer clear of are the very places I’ve become rather fond of in recent months. The game room and the library.
But I’m not here playing games, although I do occasionally; Mary’s working on the other side of the game room desk, and Di and I have pulled our chairs up to the long, low counter. This is beginning to become a bit of a Monday night routine. Classes just barely over for the day, we gather around the desk; a small group of friends in the midst of the ebb and flow of game room activity.
It’s busy tonight and our conversation, our back and forth, rises and falls to be heard over the voices and games that fill the room. Homework out, pages open in front of us, we pass words back and forth, a heavy dose of jokes and laughter mixed into our conversation.
Minutes pass, a half hour. Behind us, people play foosball, and beyond them, three games of ping-pong are occurring simultaneously. Four individuals are playing pool in the corner, and the tables along the wall are host to a Catch Phrase game, and another band of students huddling around a rather intricate game of Ticket to Ride: Europe.
At the desk, Mary on one side and the two of us on opposite ends of the other side, we turn our attention to the work that needs done. Reading, email responses, papers. Pandora can just be heard above the noise, and we look up occasionally; a thought that bears sharing, a joke that brings a smile, a bit of information that might prove useful… or not.
Homework is done and slowly but surely, things are checked off check lists. Stray ping-pong balls bounce off my boots, and I lean out of the way as students approach the desk, temporarily relinquishing ID and lanyard in exchange for a board game, a card game, two pool sticks.
Time continues to march on, and I finish my emails and settle into my homework. Two midterms today, and what’s left between me and Missions Conference is an ever-shrinking list.
I pull my Bible and Hermeneutics folder out of my bag, fishing the assigned worksheet out of the stiff blue folder. Seven passages references, each with two lines following it. Read the passages, understand the passages, indicate the main point of the passages.
The instructions are concise and clear and I know what to do.
Blank worksheet page in front of me, I flip through my Bible. I’m finding the passages, but identifying their main point is serving to be a bit of a challenge. I want to get it right, and I’m having a bit of a hard time.
Taking notes in a notebook already nearly full from other classes, I change my tactic and approach the passages from a different angle. They are starting to make sense, and my notes are beginning to look increasingly more like the polished homework I’m to turn in tomorrow. This is good progress, for the most part.
Our third counterpart has since left, but Mary’s still on the other side of the counter, the clean, white light from her computer screen illuminating her face. I look around the room, slowly emptying of students, before turning back to her. I’ve been providing her with a fragmented series of comments about my work for the past hour, in exchange for her commentary; side notes and random are nothing new to this homework time.
You ever just step back and think and realize that studying the Word of God is our homework?
Mary nods, grinning. She knows this. She’s thought through this deep privilege before. The life-giving Word of God is our textbook here. Not the only one, but certainly the most important. Even as we fall more in love with the Author and Creator of life, we’re assigned to study, to scour, to learn from, His letter to us His children.
My exegetical idea worksheet, previously a minor challenge to undertake and conquer, suddenly becomes a blessing in itself- Here. Take this, the very Bible you read every morning, and study it more, dive into it deeper, delve further into its truth, and call that privilege “homework”.
An oddly crowded game room, three friends, a homework worksheet, and the unimaginable blessing of studying God’s Word for school.
04 Sep 2012 1 Comment
I once played a game in a river in Texas. Bobbing up and down in the green-tinted water, encased in yellow plastic life jackets, we counted to three and then dove under the water.
Kicking frantically, pulling at the water with our arms, we fought to get down to the river bottom, struggling against the powerfully buoyant life jackets. We held our breath as long as we could, scrambling to reach the murky bottom and grab hold of anything we could wrap our fingers around before the life jackets won and we popped up to the surface. Panting from the effort, we showed each other our prizes, our proof; a rock, an uprooted piece of seaweed, a handful of sand. And sometimes, an empty hand, raisined finger tips curled around nothing.
I’ve heard it said that Jesus is our rock and that when we get away from Him, when our hearts stray and our minds wander, we’re going downhill. We’re sinking into a valley, falling off a bridge, descending into the depth; we’re going down.
But right now, I’m not scrambling to climb a mountain; I’m not begging God to help me get back up to Him.
No, right now, I’m floating. Today, I float. Bobbing up and down in the river that this life is. It’s too deep to touch the bottom, and I’m not sure if it’s worth the effort to fight against the jacket to get down there.
But I want to be down there.
Somewhere, under the layers of school, relationships, and endless to-do lists that I’ve created to keep myself busy, keep myself marching through life, there’s a safe place. A strong, secure place, resting on the palm of the hand of the very One who made me.
I want to get down there. I want to slip off this life jacket, a neon-colored reminder of my humanity; a brilliantly colored, ever-present reminder that I can’t get myself there on my own.
I want to unclip the life jacket, slip out of its strong, binding, prohibiting grasp, and sink down to where I know I’m known, know I’m secure.
But it’s different, really. Unlike our invented game, I’m not taking a gulp of air before plunging myself into the water, not to breath again until I resurface seconds later. In this life, this reality, down there is where I breathe best; nestled safely in the thick sand of my Father’s hand, His heart.
If I can just get down there, I know I’ll be able to breathe. Be able to give my anxiety, my busy, my to-do, to Him. If I can just get this life jacket off and get down there, I know everything will be okay.
But there’s a little more there, too.
God’s not chilling at the bottom of a river, a solid rock much too heavy for me to lift, for me to raise. He’s not stuck down there and He’s not staying down there.
God is living and active and more involved in your life and in mine than either of us could ever imagine. He comes up, comes to where I am aimlessly, confused, moving in the water as the waves wash over me, pushing me a tad closer to shore, and then pulling me back out again.
He comes up and He smiles. Smiles and beckons me to come back with Him. Come with me, child. Take your life jacket off. Take those worries off, those cares, that fear. Take it off and come with me.
But I can’t, LORD. I tried. I can’t get it off.
He smiles again, maybe He chuckled a little bit, too. I know that. Of course you can’t take it off by yourself- but I can. Let me help you.
And clip, the thing’s off. He knew the load I carried, the worry that pulled me back from Him, and He knew how to take it away, too. He’s the only one who knows all and can do all.
And then I’m free. I’m not plunging my head into the water, fighting violently to make any progress as I struggle desperately to try to get to him.
He comes to me. Comes to you. He comes and reaches out His hand and says, Here, come with me. Let me help you.
And He does.
02 Aug 2012 Leave a Comment
25 Jun 2012 Leave a Comment
21 Jun 2012 1 Comment
It’s been two long, full, wonderful days with the cousins.
We visited the Hancock Observatory, pacing around 360 degrees of bright Chicago landscape.
We walked down Michigan Avenue, hiking past stores and shops in the sweltering heat.
We sat in the grass at Millenium Park, listening to a jazz band perform and watching the people of Chicago wander past. We took pictures in the Bean, splashed around the spitting fountains, and then made our way back to the purple line.
We sat in a circle on the living room floor, concentration and competitiveness mixing with shouts of laughter as we played round after round of KEMPS, topping our evening off with a little Catchphrase.
We ate lunch at Great Harvest, nibbling on free bread samples while we waited for our delicious, fresh sandwiches.
We visited Dad’s work, traipsing up and down white tiled halls, stepping into labs and listening intently as Dad explained the function of different microscopes, and what exactly a polymer is.
We sat on the bleachers at the pool and watched Stevy swim, working to keep an eye on the correct athlete amidst lanes full of swimmers.
We had deep dish pizza, digging into juicy slices heaped with tomatoes, pepperoni, and vegetables.
We watched movies, nestled into couches while Nemo, Ironman, and other films unfolded on the big screen in front of us.
We played, we chilled, we laughed, we talked.
It’s been two days with the cousins, and we’re having a wonderful time.
07 Jun 2012 Leave a Comment
29 Mar 2012 Leave a Comment
17 Mar 2012 2 Comments
But Lord, there are so many children in the world with so much need. Broken people living in broken places, going through a broken system.
But we are all broken. It’s a broken world we live in.
And I don’t know what to do about it, Lord. What am I called to do, to respond to this need, to this hurt.
I cannot heal even one heart; it’s all you, Lord.
It’s so much, but I want to help, and I don’t know how. How will this problem be fixed? There’s so much yet to be done.
But things are being done. Every day, every hour, something somewhere is being done for the hurting, the helpless, the vulnerable.
We spent today at one of Christ’s Hope’s Ministry Care Points outside the city. 23 children, 23 little souls who need someone. Someone to help them up. Someone to encourage them. Someone to show them how to write the alphabet. Someone to play soccer, play tag, play basketball. Someone to tell them, show them, how much God loves them, how much He cares.
There’s so much need, but things are being done.