Day As Well

On the weeks that fly by,

and the evenings that arrive before I’m ready,

so that 6pm might as well be 11pm,

and then it’s nearly midnight and I’m not really sure what there’s time to do.

It’s on those nights that I sometimes decide not to write.

Not to write here.

But it’s 4pm and I’m sitting in Barnes and Noble,

watching cars drive too-fast through the intersection below,

and I’m writing, now.

It’s almost the end of 2014

(although I wrote 2015 just now, in that line above)

and it occurred to me on Sunday,

sitting under the pale white light of a church morning sky,

to wonder what it is that I’ll remember 2014 for.

Of course, my first thought was the my Little Book-

the increasingly battered miniature notebook

I’ve carted around in my bookbag, my purse, my suitcase,

these past nearly-12 months.

I could check there, of course.

To remind myself.

But there’s a part of my mind that knows, of course,

that I might just as well give a moment,

or maybe several moments,

to consider, to reflect upon,

what I made of this past year, and what it made of me,

and what I’d like to come of the next.

Maybe I’ll do that, here in the next days and weeks.

I realized today, suddenly and rather joltingly, that my student teaching

begins in one week from today.

January 5th.

Of course, I’ll not begin teaching for some days after that,

but a first is a first, and to just have a week feels rather abruptly short.

But really, a year is one week, just over and again,

and they all build on one another,

and I think that in this middle week-

these seven days that span the end of a year,

the beginning of another,

the end of Christmas break,

the beginning of student teaching,

the end, the end, the beginning, again a beginning,

I think I’ll make the same choices today- these days-

that I’d like to make all the other days, as well.

Because I’m not moving through these to get to the others;

each day and each week has 24 hours of value and depth,

decisions that will be made,

memories that will take shape.

And so, this Monday, December 29th,

while the grey clouds settle deeper over the shadowed buildings,

and the people move and stand

and read and shop

and lose and breathe,

I go and I live

and this day, this beginning day, this middle day, this ending day,

could also be a very good day, as well.



A Blessingful


There’s a lot that could be said,

About this season and this day

And the reason for it all.

And I will say it, later, because I believe it,

But tonight,

After a long day of sitting on this couch,

Watching these, my people, move and breathe, and celebrate and live,

It makes me want to praise

And to thank

And to marvel.

Because to look at a gift like these few hearts,

And I feel the love He has, in giving them to me,

And to imagine the value and the loss and the love

That the LORD of hosts felt for this world

In the incarnation, in the earthly birth of His Son?

Well, it blows me away.

And bring my humble heart to worship.


Every Bit

I’ve told you before, I know, about the conversations in my little books.

My own scrawly writing, squashed letters filling pages,

some in blue pen, ink spots scattered across the pages

where my thoughts lingered, and the pen bled.

Some is written in black ink, the fine tip rolling seamlessly across the page,

unbroken ys, gs, entire words melding into one.

Amidst those scattered, chaotic, heart-real pages,

there is bold writing;

letters written in caps, spaced wide, set apart.

Maybe I told you before, maybe I’ve explained;

I’ve no magic powder, to high-powered instruments to hear

the the voice of God,

but I’ve His Word in the Bible,

in the world,

leading and shaping my own heart,

and those big letters, those capital shapes running across the pages

of my little books?

I believe those are the Lord.

The same Lord I listened for this afternoon.

Nearing the end of a two-hour drive, the second of my day’s travels,

I leaned against the headrest behind me,

allowed my mind to wander, ever so slightly,

over the weights, the thoughts, the conversations,

that have run through my mind, raced round my heart, in the past days.

I thought and I listened,

and I talked, too.

Maybe a little odd,

maybe at interesting choice,

but five hours roundtrip is a long time to be alone in a car,

and yes, I admit it- sometimes I talk to myself. Out loud.


And this was talking, too, but I was talking with God,

just as if He was sitting alongside me,

buckled into the passenger’s seat.

And I explained and I wondered,

and I stated and I reasoned,

and as I talk,

I felt doubts, responses, rebuttals, rising unbidden to my lips,

and I pulled them out, turned them over,

once and then yet again,

considered them.

And, those words considered, I spoke again;

another response, another word, and so forth, on and on.

Because that’s how conversation goes,

and that’s how people learn

and trade

and grow,

and in the things I said

and the thing I heard,

I came to see a little more,

to understand a little more,

and I settled a little deeper into the hope I cling to daily.

Hope that He’ll not leave me,

and that He’ll not leave me the same.

Because His voice, working in my heart, bringing thoughts to mind,

whispering into my own conversations,

would see me grown,

would see me changed,

would see me following Him more and more.

So I open my eyes, open my ears,

open my heart,

and I listen and I speak and I live,

and through it all, I pray, I trust, I hope,

I’ll becoming more like Him every bit of the way.


The Eighth Birthday


The youngest sister turns eight years old on December 20th, and amidst wrapping presents, creating the traditional Birthday Treasure Hunt, and the hours I spent hunched over a craft table with Glendy, meticulously gluing blue jewels to a pair of high heeled “Elsa shoes,” I leave you with a conversation from the kitchen, circa Wednesday night.

Mother: Natalie, put a plate under you, I just cleaned the counter.
Me: Come on, I’m just peeling a clementine.
Mother: Just grab a plate, Nat.
Larissa (yelling from living room): Rub some bacon on it!

Happy birthday to the little Larissa- I don’t know where we’d be without you!


Life Right Now {#62}


Late night Chicago driving,
Moving slow, rolling around residential streets.
Counting Santas and watching
White lights flicker
Along towering houses.
They wore their jams;
Fleece footies and penguin nightgown,
Slipped right into bed when we got home.


We Shall Part No More

We’re sitting in the space outside the coffee shop.


It’s become my space now.

Study notes, Bibles lay strewn around us, and my computer’s propped on my raised knees.

We’re studying, but I’ve taken a moment to pause, my eyes watching, unfocused, as students I can’t recognize move back and forth across the plaza below.

I can’t believe I’m going to be saying goodbye to this place so soon, I say, almost to no one.

Beside me, my studying partner looks up from the Bible spread open in his lap, his gaze following mine into the indiscriminate darkness of the plaza.

We talk for a moment, vocabulary words and biblical references set aside for the moment.

We talk about goodbyes and transitions and visiting friends in the months to come. And the goodbyes that come all over again.

That’s why I like the Moody song, he says then.

I glance over, eyebrows raised. God bless the school that DL Moody founded?

Yea, he nods, then recites a familiar line that I had forgotten existed.

When Jesus comes in glory we shall part no more.

And I nodded then, and I knew what he meant, and in the days since, as it seems like every conversation ends with a hug, with a vague promise to visit, to keep in touch, to check in, I’ve held onto those words.

Held onto the hope of a day of no more goodbyes, no more waves as dear friends disappear around the corner.

Held onto the hope of an eternity spent in fellowship, spent completely surrounded by the hearts I’ve walked alongside all the years of my life.

Held onto the hope that all these things we do down here, all these things we strive for together, will be complete, will be made whole, in that wonderful eternity.

And then, only then, I can’t wait for then, we will part no more.

~ Natalia

Whatever Comes Next

Friday afternoon pushing through the front door, I toss my keys on the dining table, stepping over the welcoming heap of shoes, onto the well-loved green carpet beyond.

In the living room, the mother leans back from her seat on the couch, her inquisitive face sliding into my line of vision.

It’s nearing 4pm, nearing the hour of dance and errands and work and dinner, and she asks about schedule and plans and I stand there, hands on the back of a chair, suddenly realizing the length, the breadth, the depth, of my to-do list.

I think the past 12 hours were a bit of a respite, I tell her after a moment. A respite that I will have again when I’m back here on Wednesday, when I’m done.

And I was right.

Friday evening brought errands, twenty minutes at the middle sister’s dance Observation Day, before work lead to an inhaled dinner, a downtown drive, and back to back study meetings that only ended when the student center closed at 12am.

Saturday morning brought the Angel Tree Party, an event I await with eager anticipation, and relish with joy, every year. Pizza lunch dissolved into an afternoon in the same rolling seats outside the coffee shop, and it’s Sunday night now and I’ve spent so long sitting here, I might as well sleep here tonight.

At least we’ll finish knowing that we worked hard, I told Jesssica not three hours ago, as we trooped through Moody’s underground tunnels to the dorms, for a half-hour dinner break that ended in another hour of conversation, while the evidence of our final project work sat temporarily ignored all around us.

And tomorrow is Monday, the first day of finals week- my last finals week at Moody- and I have a list of things, important things, and the hours will come, and with every passing round of the clock, I’ll choose what to do next. And I hope now, I hope so very much, that I choose the right thing.

I’ve worried before, and maybe I’ve even written here, that I won’t make the right choice. That I’ll get distracted, I’ll stumble, I’ll choose wrong, and the time I might well have used to bless, to encourage, will be thrown to the wind of misplaced priorities and things that hold no real meaning.

But last Monday afternoon, sitting in the warm glow of large-bulb Christmas lights, I said trust myself and she nodded her affirmation. My eyes wandered once more over those eleven dried leaves stuck to the wall behind her as I leaned back and considered what trusting myself might look like, how I might do so when the moments move so fast, the list grows so long.

But today, right now, I don’t worry. Maybe it’s the three and a half years I’ve already spent running, working, living in this downtown space. I can look back, see how it’s all gotten done, it’s all come together in all the long months behind me, and I can know, now, that the choices I’ve made have unfolded into good. There’s trust there, I know. Trusting myself, yes, but also trusting grace and sovereignty, and that the time I’ve been here- and the ticking hours of time I have left here- has not, will not, go to waste.

And with that confidence, with that hope held tightly in my hands, in my heart, I take one step, then another, towards work, play, study- and whatever it is, whatever I am doing, there is joy and there is adventure. Because I’m trusting myself and I’m trusting Him, and whatever comes next? Well, it’ll be just what was meant to come next.


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