Happy

I’ve a paper due on Thursday. It would be exceptionally accurate to say that I am stressing. I told the father this evening that I’d take a test over a paper any day. This statement was based mostly on the fact that tests by nature come with time limits. Papers, on the other hand, can and will soak up the time that you give them, and more; they can always be better, longer, deeper, more informed.

So I’m a little anxious.

Then, later, there’s a text from a favorite on my phone, his own words a response to my frustration, guilt. I’m anxious and simultaneously feeling guilty for being anxious, for communicating anxiety, and he nods at my worry, knows it’s there, then: happy, he says.

And I’m back in my room after a day of everything that is the college life, and all these little things, they are things to be happy about.

Happy for clean sheets, crisp, warm.

Happy for brushing my teeth, feeling them clean, smooth.

Happy for rest.

Happy for work to bring me joy in coworker friendships, in those little swimmers.

Happy for car rides and dinner made by the mother.

For people I know, live with, miss, visit, talk with, cherish.

The list, really, goes on and on; there’s a lot to be happy for, I know.

But I’m also happy for 8am classes dedicated to theology, to the study of our Great God, and happiness is best expedited with sleep, rest, so I’m off for the evening, friends. Tomorrow is a class day, an afterschool volunteer afternoon, a homework (read: paper-writing) evening, and maybe, hopefully, there’ll be some happy in there, too.

~Natalia

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Any of This

It’s all so very quick, life is.

Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it,

but then Saturday morning art museum

turns to Saturday afternoon homework

and then, I’m excited, eager, moving quickly,

it’s Saturday evening Red Line home

for a mother, little sister surprise.

Sunday, that’s today, earlier,

but baked oatmeal at the dining table,

driving to church in the sun,

it went so quick and now feels so far away.

And now it’s Sunday night (almost October!) and tomorrow another school day, another school week.

And the days go so fast

but so many are so very good,

I can’t afford to complain,

to be discontent,

to blink,

because soon, I know so very soon,

it’ll be new, moving, forward, later

and I really don’t want to miss any of this.

~Natalia

Life Right Now {#48}

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Morning at the Art Institute;
I’m grateful for museum-buddy friends.
History rich, deep, in paintings, art.
A world much bigger than school.
A childhood of museums, France memories.
And Panda Express for lunch.

~Natalia

More Things

I just want to do more things.

Because

then I’d feel like I was being productive.

Because

then I’d feel like I was wasting less time.

Because

then I’d feel like I had purpose, goals, forward momentum.

Because

then I’d feel like I measured up alright,

in comparison to the other people I see, who seem to do so very many things.

Because

then I’d be busy, be on the go.

Because

then I’d have less time to think about, be bothered by, things that are hard,

things that hurt

and confuse

and frustrate.

Because

then I’d feel like someone I could be proud of

Because

then I’d feel like God was proud of me, too.

I just want to do more things.

~Natalia

Back Then When: WOW Camp Drinking Fountain

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June 2009.

~Natalia

Providing Even Then

The text said please pray, if you want, and I stopped there, like a call to worship, call to prayer, and I did. Sitting on the southbound train, houses through the window lit dull yellow with street lights, I pulled my headphones out, closed my eyes, prayed.

The quiet surprised me, unsettled me, at first. Not quiet outside; the train still swayed, clicked along the track. The doors still beeped open at every stop. The automated voice still announced present, future stops. The child two rows behind me told her mother a story about a lion. A woman across the aisle talked on her phone. A pair behind me talked, conversed. It wasn’t quiet outside at all.

But it was inside. God has that effect, brings that peace, stillness.

So I sat there on the train, just me and God, quietly.

I prayed, of course, for the request. But then thanks occurred to me and I opened my eyes, watching the dark houses zip by under arching telephone wires, as I thanked God. Eyes drifting closed again, I thanked Him for giving me, providing me, blessing me with things I didn’t seek out, didn’t see coming.

Your provision is so good, Lord, I told Him.

I provide for you in the things I don’t give you, too.

I paused, then. Opened my eyes, watched a man load his groceries in a Jewel parking lot, before we had passed him and his white plastic bags. I thought about provision, turning the idea around in my head, testing what I thought I heard Him say against the convictions of my heart.

Because it’s easy to see the grace, and good, the overwhelming and undeserved in the giving. When I get gifts, time, relationships, blessings, that I know I did not earn, was not looking for, would not have if not for Him.

But it’s not as easy, not as simple, to see His provision- His giving to me, loving me, pouring blessings on me still- when what I get is not what I wanted, not what I hoped for, quite opposite from what I thought would be good, would be wise, would be a blessing.

But behind, under, around, this giving and blessing and providing, it’s a sovereign God who knows it all, gives it all, withholds it all. I believe that. I must believe that.

And if I believe in sovereignty, wisdom, a view-point much larger than my own, then I must trust in provision that sometimes feels like being deprived, in a plan that sometimes feels incoherent, hard to follow, frustrating.

And when what was provided goes away, and what I thought would be given never comes, I’ll hold to this, to all of this, because there are pictures, views, reality, that is much bigger than what I can see, what I think is going on. Because He provides in the good and the best and the joy and the peace, but he also provides in the challenge and the missing and the questioning and the doubt.

~Natalia

Dear B

That’s not even your name, of course. There’s not a single letter “B” in your first, middle, or last name. But my mother- Aunty, you call her- picked you up downtown that July day and two days later, I was calling you B.

You were so quiet when you first arrived. Tiny braids wrapped around your three-year-old head, you mostly watched, those early days. Eating, drinking weren’t your favorite, then. You did sleep though, and sleep long. We smiled at night, in the shadows of the yellow hallway light, because you hugged your pillow when you slept- arms and legs wrapped, monkey-style around that flattened pillow, your pink nightgown ruffled under your tight grip.

I went to Guatemala shortly after you arrived, and you were asleep the night I returned. So were Glendy and Larissa, your playmates, buddies, companions. You all woke up before I did the next morning, and I heard your voice loud, strong, articulate, amongst theirs. I laid there in my top bunk for a little while that morning, listening to Aunty make pancakes in the kitchen, to Papa shuffle around his little office there between the dining room and the kitchen. But mostly, I listened to hear your voice. The voice you had found during my time away.

You left two weeks later, riding home in the pink flower carseat that Jaiden rides in, too. Aunty drove you back downtown, back to the arms of a mother, father, sisters, baby brother, who all love you dearly. But those weeks, between Guatemala and your going home, we had fun together; you and I and Glendy and Larissa.

You went to Vacation Bible School with the girls, although each of you in your own class. You fought the early morning hard on Monday, riding in your carseat barefoot, in your pajamas, Aunty helping you into a dress (Larissa’s? Glendy’s? You all shared, you know) in the church bathroom. Five days later, you jumped out of bed when you heard the girls moving, clambering in that little voice of your about your class at school.

One night, Aunty and Papa out, I got you ready for bed. You took a bath swirling gleefully in the lukewarm water, then stood patiently while I tried to comb out your tight curls (Aunty is better at that). I carried you to the kitchen, you making silly faces, giggling at yourself, all the while. I have a picture of you that night, hair a legitimate afro, energetically spooning vanilla yogurt into your mouth. Later, you told me that yogurt was just ugly milk, and I sent that quote, along with your silly yogurt face picture to Aunty. We both laughed. You made us laugh, brought us joy, Miss B.

One of your last nights with us was an outside day. I had you three again, relishing those sunlit summer evenings in that hometown that I’ve so come to adore. You colored with chalk outside, three girls together, yet playing apart, while I stood between you all and watched your creativity grow. We walked to the ice cream shop after that, I bought you ice cream cones with the money Aunty left. We sat in the park eating those cones, me alternately helping each of you clean the drips from the cold treat, licking around the softening cone. Ice cream gone, you played tag, rolled down the hill, until it was time to go home.

There are many things that marked this past summer, B. Many things that I look back on and cherish, hold onto. There are a lot of things that I want to remember, to write down, about the past four months. And in many of those memories, you are there, B. You weren’t with us long, but you made your mark with that dimple smile and your sweet voice, astounding me every day with your long sentences and beyond-preschool logic. You fit into our family, brought us joy, made us laugh, B. And now, where you are with your Mommy and Daddy, B, I hope you’re still smiling, still laughing, still talking. Still bringing people joy- You have that gift, kiddo.

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~Natalia

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