Monday, November 15, 2010

"The Realest Thing About Me"


As a believer I have the blessed opportunity to gaze into my own heart and see Jesus Christ. To find the mad paradox of His beauty and light and goodness and truth breaking irresistibly through the many chinks and cracks of this very flawed human vessel. To call myself a saint, of all things, and to laugh at the gorgeous joke of it and to know that it’s the realest thing about me.

~ Lanier Ivester, The Two Trees ~

I just read a marvelous post by a one of my favorite online kindred spirits.  I first "met" Lanier through reading her vivid posts on the YLCF, but she has now also joined the writers of the Rabbit Room.  Do read the post here, and be encouraged.

Oh, and the poem she quotes was surprisingly familiar to me, as parts of it make up this song from my favorite Celtic singer:



Had to share that.  Now I'd better go write and get my characters out of trouble. ;-)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Currently Busy...

... with NaNoWriMo!



If I know you somewhat (i.e. if I think you're a real person who won't steal my story ideas, hehe!), you're welcome to read the story on my *whispers* super-secret blog.  Just comment with your email, or send me a note at rael{dot}henson{at}gmail{dot}com, and I'll send you an invite. 

I'll be back eventually. :-)  Bye for now! *dives back into novel-writing* 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Scribbled Thanks


171. Sweaters

172. The crisp, neat smoothness of clothes freshly ironed

173. Honey from friends' bees

174. An ever-patient, ever-loving, bearing-all-things mother

175. A second letter from Zach

176. The throbbing purr of Bella-cat when she flops down beside me cozily.

177. Conversation about communication

178. Enough cinnamon rolls to share

179. A safe weekend trip

180. Cool stories from my dad about Belize - especially the Indiana Jones cave, and the spot where they shot a scene from Star Wars

181. Brothers to pray for and help me grow

182. Cool night air drifting in through the open windows

183. Delighted squeals from a 3-year-old girl, feeding our chickens from her hand.

184. The invention of Playaways - so handy and enjoyable on trips and while puttering around the house!

185. A slivered new moon

186. The growing friendliness of the chickens (even if it is because they know who feeds them)

187. A surprise visit from old friends on their way through Texas

188. The bravery of such friends to adopt.

189. An evening watching TV shows with Whit and the Mother

190. Seeing a lady in the store console a little lost girl and help her find her parents.

191. The West Texas friendliness of smiling at complete strangers

192. Hearing someone who just moved here say it was better than California, and more like their hometown. :-) I don't hear that too often!

193. A sign for the "Open A Bar" Ranch. Hehe.

194. Madeline L'Engles's marvelous, thoughtful little book, A Circle of Quiet

195. Raspberry ginger ale

196. Lavender Blueberry Dark Chocolate 

197. Limited funds, to better enjoy the above by making it rare. ;-)

198. A reminder that Light Isn't Boring

199. Clean sheets

200. Home sweet home, and crickets singing softly into the night.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Back of the World


"Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world ... If we could only get round in front!" 

~ The Man Who Was Thursday, by G. K. Chesterton ~

I listened to The Man Who Was Thursday over at Librivox just recently. It's one of the strangest surreal books you may read, but at the bottom (or the back) is that deep, wise, childlike humor Chesterton was given that make his works a delight.


This idea that we only see the back of things intrigues me. It is a theme of the Great Story, and it shows up again and again.

Slavery ending in songs of joy beside the sea.

A smelly little shepherd who is actually a warrior poet, chosen as king.

Wandering strangers who eat your food - divine messengers.


And then, the main character shows up unexpected and in disguise. People hoping for rescue were disappointed, He claimed to be God, visiting as a lowly man the ones he made, bringing life to their sick and hope to prisoners... But all he said was so preposterously good, it could not be true.

He didn't even look like God! How were we to know?

He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Isaiah
Perhaps you disagree, but I think we have a gloomy propensity to believe the worst is happening rather than the best in disguise.

We expect the Lion to eat us, not invite us to a feast.

Like Syme, it seems the world is turned upside down, and anarchist will rule the world. Who is a friend? Is anyone real and substantial? How can we escape the never-tiring, enigmatic man called Sunday? Or how can we catch him and find who he is?

Like Orual in Till We Have Face, I go through most of life complaining, martyr-like, overwhelmed with the sorrows and horrors of the world and my own ugliness, seeking answers and the face of the Lover who eludes me in a dance of mystery.

Like Sam's moment of horror in The Return of the King, when Frodo declares the Ring is his, and Gollum wrestles him in the cracks of Mount Doom - Everything has gone wrong, and The End of All Things has come.

But then like Sam, suddenly we we wake up in surprise, and find everything sad has come untrue.

 ~

Monday, October 04, 2010

Autumn Has Come!


Hey, good people! I've neglected this poor blog lately, so here is an update sort of post. I have been working part-time at the non-profit organization which shall remain anonymous, and enjoying that.  I've also been busy with AWANA, youth group, and Bible Study.  And still, thankfully, I have some time to spend with some friends and my dear family.  Though we're all getting so busy, I may need to fight for family meals and make sure they happen.

The fall weather is here!  Cooler air brings lovely reprieve from West Texas summer heat.  People were decked out in sweaters at church yesterday, and hot chocolate, snickerdoodles, and fall decorations are making appearances.

On a more somber note - Lately I have been finally learning who I am.  I long knew I held certain core values, like homeschooling and openness to many children - not as law for others, but as things I see supported by Scripture, things I believe passionately to be good and beautiful blessings.   But it took a painful experience to help me realize, not just in theory but in fact, just how important these things are to me.  When it comes to relationships, I cannot ignore or quiet that part of who I am or think I can easily change it.  And I think if God gave those dreams to me, He did so for a reason, and He will show me what that is in His good time. 
 
So I'm praying boldly to the God who invented Romance to lead me where He will, and to bring good wives to all my dear brothers in Christ, wives who will perfectly complement them and follow them anywhere.  I know we still have choices, but He is also totally sovereign.  Oh the beautiful frustrating mystery of it!

And while I pray, I'm running into the Strong Tower, which is always serene and safe in the midst of battle.      

In summary: God is good, relationships are hard and wonderful... and fall is here!  Three nice categories for my list of blessings, which I have not been counting for several weeks. 


~ Fall ~
141. Sunday nap under a quilt - restful and cozy!
142. Fellowship with sweet friends in a coffee shop after church
143. Brighter stars (I think cold air makes them sharper, don't you?
144. A plaid wool skirt and shawl - heather grey, lovely, warm, and Scottish.
145. Spiced Chai
146. Cassette tapes of The Hobbit in the car- wonderfully dramatized, but with the most horrid Renaissance musical interludes. ;-)
147. Simmering homemade chicken and vegetable stock on the stove
148. Fall flowers from the garden - a sweet bouquet in a white pitcher
149. Chickens the size of doves (they're growing fast!)
150. October - the Birthday Month in our family!

~ People ~
151. Two-year-old people.  I kept a little girl this weekend so her mommy and daddy could go on a date.  I forget how disturbing it can be to have a stranger show up for the day instead of your parent.  I don't blame her for crying, and ordering me from her room, and sobbing "No Tankyou!" when I begged her to come eat dinner.  Sometimes I just need to crawl back in bed and take a nap, too.  Sometimes I don't want to be around anyone.  And sometimes I forget what patience mothers must have, and God infinitely more!
152. My dear co-worker, T.  She makes me laugh so much.  Not many people will break out in musical numbers with you while editing documents, or discuss the pointless aspects of Facebook, or commiserate over the lack of commas in AP style.  And she has the coolest hair, which she cuts herself.
one of my glorious occupations ;-)
153. Absolutely superfluous screaming during silly games.  Not that I do it.  But when others do, I'm learning to laugh instead of get annoyed.
154. Gentlemen who make sure ladies find their way to cars in the dark
155. Grandparents and Rosa's Cafe for Sunday lunch
156. Exuberant hugs from M.
157. The cellist and guitarist, lovingly lending their talent during Communion to remind us of Christ's beautiful sacrifice.
158. Hearing a mom complain about the infant-hood of her child, how exhausting it was, glad she was older now.  I was sad, because I've never had even one child, but I have heard other moms treasure those fleeting months.  I hope if I am ever blessed with one or more children that I can enjoy every moment of that beautiful sacrifice.  I'm thankful for the reminder that it will not be easy, but sad to hear complaints about motherhood.  And I think  - What am I complaining about that someone else longs for?  Am I enjoying my freedom to serve as an unmarried lady as God's current gift, fleeting as it may be too?
159. Compassion and forgiveness when I am weak, fearful, and unintentionally hurt others.
160. Abundant opportunities to minister to my little sisters in Christ, and grow myself from spending time with them!

~ God ~
161. Strong Tower
162. Everlasting Love
163. Shield
164. The Tender One who tends my soul
165. Love better than mine
166. Ancient of days
167. Fighter of Guilt Monsters
168. Coming King
169. The Prairie Maker
170. The Dream Giver

Happy Monday to you!  I still owe you a post on letter-writing. Hopefully that will come soon. Anything else particularly you'd like me to blog on?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Candles, Yawns, Smiles... (121-140)

121. Fire.

122. Candles.

123. Paintings by 2-year-olds.

124. Midnight snack of homemade Chocolate Cheesecake.

125. A gently-drawn smile, jumping out from a sad face in a moment of joy.

126. A patient cashier at HEB.

127. Homemade lemonade in my lunch - in a Mason jar.

128. The satisfaction from organizing bathroom cabinets, bookshelves, stuff for the attic

129. Freedom from stuff as we toss it or give it away
 
130. Getting to help friends move stuff to their new house on the Ranch.

131. The fun of assembling a little girly bookshelf.

132. Being alone.

133. Not being alone.

134.  Morning sunlight making fallen leaves glow golden

135. Yawns.

136. Toes.

137. The good long phone conversation with my friend Catie, about books, stories, getting tired, Corgies, hospitality, organization, craziness, graduations and weddings, and maybe a visit from her later this month, all the way from New Mexico! :-)

138. A homemaker-hearted Mommy.

139. A God who doesn't give up on us. :-)

140. Younger girls interested in learning homemaking skills, and a possible opportunity to teach them!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Quotes on Letter-Writing

Soon I'll be posting on how I go about writing letters.  Hopefully with pictures!  Until then, enjoy some quotes on why letters are so nice. 

Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.  ~Lord Byron

And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?
~W.H. Auden
 


What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters.  You can't reread a phone call.  ~Liz Carpenter


The one good thing about not seeing you is that I can write you letters.  ~Svetlana Alliluyeva


Correspondences are like small clothes before the invention of suspenders; it is impossible to keep them up.  ~Sydney Smith


Grammar is the grave of letters.  ~Elbert Hubbard
 


A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often - just to save it from drying out completely.  ~Pam Brown
  

 

Monday, September 06, 2010

101-120

101. Spiderman - all three films, each with something different to teach about everyday heroism.

102. The chicks' quickly growing wing feathers... and claws, and tail feathers, and independence!

103. The comforting, warm, homey smell of chicken pot pie.

104.  Dogs basking in the late summer sun.

105.  Watching old movies with my mom and two of my brothers.

106.  100-year old books, discovered at the local used bookstore, for a dollar each.

107.  Butter.

108.  Herbal tea, perfect for a not-quite-well tummy.

109.  A washer and dryer that work.

110.  A good meal and conversation with my Mom and brother Jonny.

111.  Old humorous poetry

112.  The fresh feel of a clean face.

113.  A successful house-and-dog-sitting job completed - no major disasters, no break-ins.

114.  Getting to see my dear and much-missed friend Melissa, sharing our stories over coffee and scones, tough advice and empathetic encouragement.

115.  Being reminded (by Melissa) of how abundantly God desires to bless us, sometimes waiting until we've given up all our dreams to Him so He can then give them back in more splendor.

116.  Being reminded by Spiderman that "Sometimes, to do what's right, we have to be steady, and give up the things we want the most. Even our dreams."

117.  Spending time with my friend Kate over the long weekend.

118.  Playing with little Rebekah, "reading" her a worldless picture book.

119.  The gift of a stoneware casserole dish - thank you, Sarah! 

120.  Being able to sleep in my own house tonight.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Ah, September. You're here!

September 1st... just saying it thrills me to the bone, for many reasons.  It heralds more fall coming on.  It holds some friends' birthdays.  And, it means in precisely two months, my favorite writing challenge of the year shall begin.

Yep.  National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo.  The 50,000-words-in-a-month challenge.  Click the picture above to see the website and learn more about the madness.

I wrote down a few character ideas tonight, just for fun, and already I want to know what happens with the happy plumber's family and the hardworking, silent young man who lives in their guest house.  They live in the same little town as the Thistlebanes (for those of you who know that family).

I have absolutely no idea of plot yet.  

I do think I have decided to give Melod and Co. a break this year.  I want to venture once again into the weird and wonderful small-town minds, to experience what we call "everyday" happenings, which are so entirely mysterious and unplumbed that we usually don't see them.

Like when we go outside at night to get something from the car, and we forget that there's an upside-down hole right there above us, light-years deep, nothing between us and it but air and clouds and atmosphere, and that only because of a few laws of physics and gravity am I not falling headlong into outer space.

Um, yes.... Probably time to stop writing for tonight.

But I am getting cautiously excited about the approach of the 1st of November.  Time slips by fast, and I have plenty to get in order before frantic noveling ensues!

In other news, AWANA started tonight (hurrah!), and on my way to and from it I experienced an earnest West Texas dust storm, the musty smell of rain in the desert, warm sprinkles of rain, grand rumbles of thunder, and a huge full rainbow. :-)

Monday, August 30, 2010

81-100

(I'm going to try again to do these on Mondays.  We shall see.)

81. A long, slow Saturday afternoon.  It was actually restful, refreshing, and it slipped off into night leaving me more ready to face Monday than I have been in a while.  A good Sabbath.

82. My brother Zach, man and Marine-in-the-making, prayed for and farewelled and boldly gone off to boot camp yesterday after church.

83. Sandwiches, especially on Hawaiian buns.

84. A mother and a brother to make sandwiches for.

85.  A "little" brother (age 16, taller than me) who's neither ashamed or too busy to meet his sister (me) at Barnes and Nobles to quietly sip stuff and read our respective books in companionable silence

86.  The nearness of fall, announced by slightly-cooler weather.

87.  Books by Charles Dickens, like Dombey and Son.  Somber.  Moody.  Autumnal. Understatedly humorous. Filled with great moral depth, and the comforting knowledge that Dickens will probably let some of the good characters end happily.  Way better and more wholesome than Twilight, but with plenty of bleakness to satisfy those of us who go in for melancholy and darkness-with-light-peeping-through-the-cracks sorts of tales.

88.  Loreena McKennitt's music - also autumnal.

89.  Well-kneeded bread dough, after several rises, a smooth lump of elasticity.

90.  Energy to make bread again. 

91.  The smell of fresh bread - pitas, which all puffed up nice and plump.
 


92.  The spicy-sweet smoked aroma of bacon frying in a pan.

93.  AWANA starting up again this Wednesday - I miss my 5-6 grade girls!  I also miss the games, songs, council time, memorizing the Word, and hanging out with different members of my church family.

94.  The fact that my mom and some other ladies are about to study the same book my Bible Study group just finished.  It was a really good one, so I'm excited for her.  :-)

95.  A warm sun - a cold sun would be so disappointing, wouldn't it?

96.  Our six warm little chicks.

98.  Vanilla Chi tea.

99.  A reminder to not be obsessed with my service, but rather with who I am in Christ.

100.  The unending love of my Savior, and the treasures in heaven He calls me to lay up.  Because most things on my lists, blessings though they be, are only fleetingly mine.  I'm glad to know that if I became a penniless beggar on the street tomorrow, I would be just as rich as ever in the things which matter.

Guess what we got?

Little Grey says hello. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rambles from a borrowed basement

Here I am, sitting on the floor of a lovely homeschooling family's basement, where Sarah and Catie (sisters of the groom) and I are staying.  Another young lady (Courtney) is over practicing violin duets with Sarah for the wedding.  They're both great musicians.  Ah, I love homemade music :-). 

In midst of listening to Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, I was over on the YLCF, reading some excellent reposted articles for single ladies on love and trusting God.  Excellent stuff, about beauty, expectations vs. ideals, patience, and God's perfect faithfulness to give us the "no"s that will actually turn out to our greater joy. 

Good stuff.  I am so weak, but He is strong.

The fact of the matter is that the only way to true peace with regard to our future mate is by way of an age-old path called surrender. In fact, it’s the only way to true peace about anything. And the more comfortable we are with that idea, I believe, the happier we are in this life. We sometimes think of surrender as a last resort, an arms-folded acceptance of an unpleasant situation, rather than the gateway to all the delights our Father’s blessing and joy. 
~ Lanier ~

Surrender.  Not mournful, but eagerly expecting good things from  my Father.  That's what I need and am praying for. 

In other news, my brother Sam (the best man... in many ways, thinks this adoring sister ;-) ) drove down last night from Iowa- hurrah!  Dear quiet Sam, friends with jolly Aaron since they were nine years old.  I still haven't seen him yet - he's hanging out with the bride's family, and Joy and Aaron (or "Jaron," as the about-to-become-one-person is being affectionately called, hehe!)  It's funny seeing the confused wildness that happens even with a small wedding, with friends coming from all over, and families galore, and pennies pinched and rehearsal dinners hand-decorated....

"The brisket in the borrowed freezer needs to come out to thaw!"

"Don't forget the black pants!"

(playing with kids at the park) "Wait, Ethan, you probably shouldn't be eating sand."

"Ellie, you like gnawing that lotion bottle, don't you?"

"Emmie, how did you manage to fall down again?" 

"Can you add something to the lists for Wal-Mart and Sam's?"

It hasn't been all stress, though.  Not with these folks. :-)  Earlier we three "big girls" did have time to play with the littles in water.  It was an amazing fountain at the park, designed flat and slanting into drains, so it barely holds water. But it shoots out these sporadic streams of water, so the adventure is to run through and try to not get wet...  A few of us didn't dodge in time, but then, getting splashed is fun too. ;-)

Farmington is lovely.  It's a pretty little edge-of-the-mountains sort of town, with enough hills to be pretty but not block the huge sky.We listened to the new Andrew Peterson CD about five times driving up from Albuquerque, across the rolling hills, and last night in the pouring rain as we drove around town running errands.

This is a very odd post.  But ah well.  :-)  I think we're about to head off to the next thing soon, so I should wrap this up.  Dress rehearsal this afternoon, then the rehearsal dinner, then tomorrow the two giddiest people in the world will share their first kiss and head off to their secret honeymoon destination "somewhere in Colorado."

They're about to go dancing in the minefield, and sailing in the storm.  :-)  May the Lord bless their new family with greater things than they can imagine.

(picture added August 24, 2010)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thankful Thursday 71-80

"Now we're counting stars and counting sand,
little feet and little hands
we're counting joys"
~Andrew Peterson
71 - Andrew Peterson's article on Boundless: Buried Treasure: The Adventure of Staying Put

72 - Coffee in airports

73 - Not having to drive Wednesday (good, because I got a dangerously small amount of sleep)

74 - Airplanes - almost as exciting as dragons

75 - Some four-year-old children at the airport, who were as thrilled about the grasshoppers on the window ledge as they were about watching the airplanes.   They might as well have seen fairies; they couldn't have been more enthralled and exclamatory.

76.  Headaches... because at least it means I still have a head. :-)

77.  A God more exciting, and more trustworthy, than an airplane - He takes us on wilder, more dangerous rides, but He is even more worthy of trust than a huge metal bird with a human pilot.

78.  Friends who rescued me from my vigil at the Albuquerque airport.

79.  Driving through northern New Mexico - rain and rolling hills, mountains and cloud-shadowed sky, and Andrew Peterson singing about family and marriage and God's love and nearness and justice in our darkest hours.

80.  Little bitties - Ethan of the happy face and ever-protruding tongue,  Ellie all plump and keen-eyed and serious.  Ellie granted me more smiles than I expected, since last I saw them she was fussy, and Ethan was the happy fellow.  I guess she likes me. :-)  And Emmie the cheerfullest 3-year-old I know.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thankful Thursday (51 - 70)

Busy days!  Edit and writing work, cleaning out our utility room, listening to Andrew Peterson's first fantasy tale, going to ladies' Bible study, eating too much ice cream, drinking too much tea... not blogging enough, but working to record the blessings, still.  Because God is good apart from circumstances, but even in this world He doesn't leave us without abundant hints of His bountiful goodness.

(Oh, an update:  For anyone who was wondering, I didn't quite finish the Boundless Summer Challenge.  Maybe next year.  The last week got me  - I got behind on the writing part, and then life grew too crazy.  But it was an amazing experience, and I hope to go back before too long and finish the last few Tasks.  I got so much out of the ones I did, and hope I keep doing things like them!)

Here we go.   This is too fun!  :-) 

51. The big West Texas sky

52.  Signs

53.  Psalm 139

54.  Handel's "Harmonious Blacksmith" on piano

55.  Air conditioning


56.  Stamps, handwritten silly note, an octopus card

57.  A friend's birthday dinner of sandwiches, "special" sauce, and laughter

58.  Rain seen from a cozy deli, pattering on cars, trying to blow open the stained-glass and wood door 

59.  A mother who loves history

60.  Church history, and people who love reading about it

61.  Too much laughter, when everyone needed it

62.  Guacamole

63.  My dear friend Sarah C.'s kindness and wisdom and friendship

64.  The smell of rain in the air which greeted me as I walked out of HEB, arms loaded with produce :-)

65.  Rain when the sun's shining

66.  The tall candle on Cheryl B's kitchen table that had melted crookedly... tilting sideways, as Sarah M said, "like a sunflower reaching for the sun."  We pointed the stretching wick towards the window, and I think we were both solemnly happy for its effort. 

67.  The art and joy of reading aloud, and being read aloud to. 

68.  Air conditioning  ... oops, I put this twice.  Air conditioning more than one day in a row, then! :-)

69.  A little brother who gives me rides when I ask, in the glorious and ancient white monster.

70.  A God who is way bigger than all the "What if"s and "If only"s I could ever come up with. :-)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Finally I'm doing another thankful post!  This is to continue recording my blessings with the Gratitude Community.  Ideally I'd do it Monday and use the cool banner Ann has on her website, but Thursdays seem to work a bit better for me. :-)

31.  An abundance of newly-met kindred spirits

32.  The cheery tea cup painted with one of my favorite flowers - wild rose.

33.  The loves God gives us to bless others (me: baking, one-on-one coffee dates with sisters, a home and family to share)

34.  The amazing rescue and protection, by God, of the little girl in our church family.  She fell 15 feet from a tree, landed on her head, fractured her scull and suffered some bad gashes on her face, was airlifted to a special hospital, and after surgery and a whole churchload of people praying, is recovering amazingly.  No known brain damage, already walking and talking a bossing her brothers around.  Thanks for Rebekah's life, Lord!  

35.  Second winds

36.  Sleep

37.  Fleas.  Hehe, And for not having them anymore. ;-)  Betsy and Corrie could be thankful for fleas in concentration camp.  I can surely be thankful for the same, minus the concentration camp!

38.  A little vase of garden flowers

39.  Awana leaders and a passionate commander

40.  The Gospel - good news - of Christ

42.  Frantic, flurried, flustered, prayers that God hears anyway

41.  A lovely bowl of lovely food to satisfy my gnawing stomach

42.  Pans of beautiful peaches from my grandparents' trees

43.  Songs written and sung by a modern-day Inkling that get better each time 

44.  An America that (for the present) is quite unlike China, and does not limit family size or force abortions and sterilizations on women.

45.  Homemade basil pesto

46.  A Scottish Blacksmith, a Farmer Marine-to-be, an Engineering Thinker, a Programming Wise Man, and a Music-lover.

47.  Being blessed with having the above for my brothers. :-)

48.  The Boundless Challenge - such a growing opportunity!

49.  The crazy times, to help me cherish the quiet times more

50.  Libraries

Boundless Summer Challenge - Task 14

Life is sacred. Think about it.


  • Spend a few minutes rummaging around Heartlink, a ministry of Focus on the Family that affirms the sanctity of human life.



  • Come up with six reasons why we should be concerned about protecting pre-born life.




  • I've known that abortion existed and is wrong since I was little. Ages ago we went to a rallies and held signs proclaiming the sanctity of life. I've seen some heartrending videos, sat in worldview lectures, and supported Pro-life organizations like Care-Net. But I'm not sure I've ever actually written a list like this. Of course, even one reason should be enough, and there are far more than six. But here are some of the most important reasons we should be concerned about protecting the pre-born:

    1. Conception is the beginning of a life, a human, a soul, a bearer of the image of God. (Psalm 139:13-14, Genesis 1:27)

    2. Each human life is of infinite value to God.  I should value what He values. He showed us that He values life when Christ died for the most unworthy an insignificant of people. 

    3. Christians are are called to defend life, especially for those who cannot defend themselves. (Psalm 82:3, Prov. 31:8)

    4. Abortion is murder, presenting a threat to all life.  Infanticide and regular euthanasia are almost upon us.  Next might be those people who can be accused of posing any sort of bother to society (Christians?).  Here's a quote from Treebeard, a character in The Lord of the Rings, illustrating that we cannot isolate ourselves forever without eventual consequences, and choosing to do right is far better than living with a defeatist or escapist attitude:

    “Of course, it is likely enough, my friends,” he said slowly, “likely enough that we are going to our doom:  the last march of the Ents.  But if we stayed at home and did nothing, doom would find us anyway, sooner or later.  That thought has long been growing in our hearts; and that is why we are marching now.  It was not a hasty resolve.  Now at least the last march of the Ents may be worth a song.”

    5. Abortion hurts the mother. Sin always has consequences and affects more than we imagine. The mothers are victims themselves - emotionally distraught, not supported, scared, lied to.  The abortion industry is a big industry, not interested in providing options or speaking truthfully or actually seeking the best for pregnant women.  These women need our compassion and help and the love of Christ!

    6.  We must never value something for its convenience, or size, or what it can do for us. Lives are being ended quietly every day, without a sound.  It's so atrocious - it's hard to believe, hard to even think about.  It's easy to forget, to only help the people in front of me, to speak for those who might one day do something nice for me in return.  It's easy to feel defeatist about the long battle.  But if we really desire to do things for the least of these, to practice unconditional love, to show we value what God values even when it is tiny and hidden away, then we cannot remain silent.   

    Very convicting.  Lately I haven't taken action or even prayed about what I should be doing to stop abortions and minister to hurting women.  Talking to God about this issue is the least I should be doing! 

    Can you think of other reasons we should be concerned about protecting tiny lives that I haven't listed?

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    Boundless Summer Challenge - Task 12-13

    So, I've been behind in updates on the Challenge - insanely crazy last few days, filled with great fellowship, work, and tending animals and gardens.  But I've kept up with the tasks themselves, for the most part.  Here's a quick update: 

    Task 12 - Make Church a Priority


    "So use your gifts to serve your church. Be eager to be a part. Embrace your need for the church. Build your life around your church. Imitate Christ, who loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25).

    Pour your life into it — make Jesus' passion your passion."  Joshua Harris, Pour Your Life into It

    This weekend, the assignment was to read a couple of articles about the Church, and then do one of three things: 1) find and go to a church if you normally don't, 2) get plugged in if you're not already, or 3) do something to show appreciation to the pastoral staff.

    I'm fairly involved with my church already (AWANA, youth group), so my task was #3.  I decided to make cinnamon rolls, which I brought up to the church office on Monday morning for the staff, elders, interns, and whoever might be there.  Wrote a little note to the "unsung heroes." :-)  I also made sure to thank our preaching pastor for his excellent sermon.

    These articles, the memory verses in Romans, and the sermon Sunday (about doing what you're designed to do) have reminded me that God designed everyone with different gifts and passion.  Occasionally we are called to do things we're uncomfortable with, but usually we can serve God best by doing what we enjoy for others!  I enjoy baking, and sharing our home with people, and inviting girls out to coffee.  So I'm going to do those things, and not apologize anymore saying I "only" do such-and-such, which is an excuse Satan has probably encouraged me to use for years, resulting in selfishly used time and opportunities lost due to laziness.

    Task 13 -  Beginning of Worldview Week - Memorize Romans 12:1-2 and read or listen to John Piper's sermon "A Cause Worth Living For."  

    I learned the verses a while back in AWANA, but they need a little polishing.  I'm still a bit clumsy with last week's passage - Step it up, Rael!

    Good sermon by Piper!  Great reminder of the great truth we know that the world is dying to hear, seeking a life of thrilling significance in so many things when only God will give it to them.  How can I keep it a secret, or be ashamed of the gospel, or be intimidated by initial rejection?  May God help me share! 




    (More later, when I actually have time to write!)

    Sunday, July 25, 2010

    Andrew Peterson's "Counting Stars"

    This came in the mail today.


    Walked outside into the evening air to check, because I've been waiting long... and there it was, in crisp manila packaging, waiting behind the other envelopes.  For Rael.  From the Rabbit Room. CD-shaped.

    And I jumped up and down like a kid at Christmas in front of our mailbox. And carried my treasure into the house, and let it sit in its cellophane packaging, and did some other stuff. Almost afraid of the first listen, because there can only ever be one.
     
    Finally I did listen, headphones on and lyrics before me, to take in the stories and songs Andy had to tell.

    Well told. Beautifully, sorrowfully, full of love and children and ache. Darkness that we cannot shake. Hope that lives on in the night. Stars shining forever beyond Sauron's reach.
     
    Andrew Peterson's done it again. How does he keep writing this stuff that gets better and better? 

    I beseech thee, good reader, if you have any love for acoustic and intimate songs that whisper of God through the beauties and sorrows, songs of this world where God waits just around the corner and watches from the blackest sky, ready to hold you up when you've almost forgotten hope - do give this a listen

    And then another. 

    And another.

    Because Andy's music is like that. There can only be one first listen, yes, but like any good story, every song is better with each telling. There's always more to those words than can be caught right off. Listen long enough, and they start to soak into your soul's skin and tell you stuff.

    May the telling go on and on until the stars we count with Abraham become breathing things we hold.  

    Until faith is sight. 

    Until the waiting is over and the Reckoning done.

    Friday, July 23, 2010

    Just Because...


    Tasks 10 and 11

    Task 10 - Time to Explore Mentorship

    This task involved reading about mentors, watching a short video, and then doing one of two things:

    1.  If you don't have a mentor, take some steps to get one.
    2.  If you're already being mentored, take steps to mentor.

    I'm being mentored by my friend Sarah C, so I did the second one.  These were the specific instructions:
    • Make a list of younger adults/teenagers in whom you see potential, and who might benefit from what you've learned over the years.
    • Write down specific things that you would like to share with someone younger than you that you feel would benefit them as they walk through a life stage you've walked through.
    So, I did just that in my journal.  I've been thinking about mentoring some younger girls in my church lately, or at least spending time with them one-on-one.  Helping with youth group is fun, and it's been a start to help me get to know some of my younger sisters, but it's hard to get past the surface sometimes in a group. 

    As far as specific girls, I made a list, but also I'm going to wait and see if God lays anyone specific on my heart, or (which could be a way He speaks) see who really wants to spend time with me, hehe!  Because I wish I could spend quality time with each girl every week, but that's not very feasible.  And God doesn't ask us to change the world by spreading one person thinly over millions.  A few good relationships, built with shared life and conversations that are deep and long and weighty - this is what He works with. 

    So tomorrow morning I'm taking a young lady to get coffee at a local cafe.  Should be fun!

    As far as what we shall talk about  - I confess I'm a bit nervous.  I know I have been incredibly challenged and encouraged in the past by mentors who took the time to ask hard questions, and listened intently, helping to dig things out of me I didn't even know were there!  I want to learn to do that.  And to speak words of truth into people's lives, not fluff or meaningless chatter or sermons, but real encouraging words.   I wrote down some of my life experiences I could share, and some things I'd tell my younger self.  But mainly I'm praying for wisdom and quietness, to get to know my little sister better, and know how best to love and encourage her.

    I'm just plum excited!  :-)


    Task 11: Time to Be a Friend

    • Find someone who doesn't usually go out or who doesn't seem to be very connected with others and invite them out for coffee, or invite them in on your weekend plans.
    For this task, I kept trying to think of someone who might be falling by the wayside.  I know they're there.  I've been one.  The problem with trying to find them is .  I'm still praying for open eyes to see those left-out people, and the courage to make an effort to reach out to them. 

    But now, I'm going to count my coffee date with the quiet young lady from church tomorrow. She's one of the few homeschoolers in the youth group - most of them either go to public school or the small classical school.   I remember what it was like to feel left out (quite unintentionally, and perhaps unavoidably) of the inner circle of people when I was going to the classical school part time and still homeschooling.  So maybe I can help or encourage her in that area.  I'm so excited for me, too - a younger sister to go to coffee with, who loves fairy tales and beauty and quiet thought!  I'm sure we're very different in many ways, but that will just make things more exciting. ;-) 

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    Boundless Summer Challenge - Task 9


    Today's assignment was to perform a random act of service and kindness for someone.  

    I offered free babysitting to a young mom.  She's been sick lately, and I offered to give her a break by playing with her little boy.  And/or, if she and her husband want to go on a date night later, I could watch him then. She hasn't got back to me yet, but I said I would keep bugging her so she knows I'm serious. ;-) 

    I've been wanting to do this more, since it's something I as a single have time for, and it's a way to bless and encourage married people. :-)  It's also a way I can get a glimpse into their life, and perhaps appreciate more the trials (and joys!) of taking care of a child, something they do every day!  AND, it's a good reminder that these folks are my family, and I want them to be able to rely on me now and then as I will definitely need to rely on them!    

    That's it!  I'm only sorry I didn't do more today! I suppose I'm allowed to do them later, not for the Challenge, right? ;-)  Some of the ideas, like paying for someone's meal or coffee anonymously, sounded like too much fun!

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Boundless Summer Challenge - Tasks 7 and 8

    This weekend, the Task had two parts.  I shall now report on both, and end with today's Task.

    (Task 7, part 1) To wrap up Relationship Week:

    The assignment was to spend some time with an elderly person and ask them about their relationship successes and failures, and what they've learned.  The neighbor I planned to talk to was out of town, so I ended up calling my grandma (who came over only Friday, but I missed my chance then).  It a little awkward, since we don't usually talk about anything too serious on the phone (aside from gardens and brothers and cat stories, which are entierly serious), but I decided I'd rather tell her right off about the challenge, and she was eager to help. 

    She started dating my grandpa at 15 (!), and married him at 18.  And interestingly, her advice to folks nowdays was to not rush impatiently into marriage.  We both agreed that people are far less likely nowdays to marry so young.  Much more emphasis on college, starting carreers, doing other stuff... Being the dedicated Boundless reader that I am, I found myself wanting to go into a long discussion about how maybe her generation had their priorities straighter than ours... but I thankfully didn't say (very) much.  Anyways, the point of the Task was to listening to her, not hear myself talk! :P  Ick.  Learning more how bad a listener I often am.  What have I been missing?   

    Once I decided to be quiet, I think my eyes started opening.  It makes sense now why she has always been so emphatic about us kids going to college - she never did, and I think she feels she missed out on lots of stuff.  Hmm.  Even as I still hope to be married, and often wish I had been married years ago when I had all my prime childbearing years before me (25 is supposedly the peak, after which fertility in women begins to decline) I should remember that this time as a single need not be wasted.  There are many productive things to do for God.  And the grass can always look greener, married or not. 

    Another thing she saw was that sometimes people got married who, though still married years down the road, could not be heard to say one kind word to one another!  She said it is definitely good to be friends and to have common interests.    

    One last thing - my grandma told me about my grandpa bringing her flowers - roses, wildflowers, and just recently some squash blossoms! ;-)  How sweet. :-)    I told her I was so thankful for their marriage. 


    (Task 7, part 2) To start off Community Week:

    The next assignment was to listen to or read a sermon by John Piper.  I've been a fan of his for a while, and his sermons are always so passionate and instructive, so this was no pain. :-) 

    One of the things that struck me was his words for those who feel they have nothing to offer to the Body.  Maybe we're disabled, or clumsy, or inept, or whatever.  Some would tell us we need self-esteem.  But we actually need God-esteem.  Romans 12:6 says we have gifts, and we should use them.  So to claim we have none is not a sort of humility - it is actually, whether knowingly or ignorantly, calling God a liar, and being a rebel! 

    I don't want to rebel against God!  So I need to watch what I say about myself.  And I need to graciously remind others that they have gifts, given by God, for the good of others.  And as Piper said, the best way to "find ourselves" is not alone off in the woods somewhere.  It is with our family, life rubbing on life, seeing for my brother, my sister, what they cannot see themselves.  And letting them see for me. 




    Task 8 - Memorize Romans 12:3-8

    I've started this one, but it will take me a few days.  It's rather a sizeable passage, and today was quite full.  Good stuff to have memorized, though!  I printed it in a cool font, and am carrying it around with me to work on in spare moments. 

    I've been thinking lately about my dear local church family.  For the past year or two, I feel like I've been on a honeymoon with them.  Now, as I've been getting to know people better, it's like any relationship - flaws become evident, weaknesses and inadequacies show up.  Basically, what could have become an idol is crumbling.  Which is good!  The trick at this point is to press on with them, and remember that even imperfect people are absolute treasures, as near and dear to me as my own arms and legs.  Which they are, literally in the spiritual sense.  I need them.  And wonder of wonders, they need me!  I no longer need be critical if someone is not the best of ears - maybe he's an eye.  I can now appreciate him for his ear-y-ness. ;-)  Another person might be an eye, but maybe they need me to be the best toungue I can be for them.

    Just thinking about this makes me ecstatic.  Maybe the honeymoon doesn't need to end. ;-)  I love how God set us up to help and depend on one another.  So glad Church is more than a Sunday morning gathering!    So glad God gave us weird and hilarious illustrations to help us remember!

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    (Some of) What I'll Be Doing This Weekend


    July 16-18: Relationships Week/Community Week

    1. To wrap up week one's focus on relationships, make plans to spend time with an elderly person this weekend — someone from church, an older family member, someone at the local nursing home, someone from work. Ideally, you'd be with them in person, but if that's just not feasible, it's OK to chat with them on the phone. Sensitively ask them about their relationship successes and failures, and what they've learned from those relationships.
    2. After you've completed this task, write a comment below: Describe your experience spending time with this person and what you were able to learn from them.
    3. To start off the second week of the Challenge's focus on Community, Listen to or read this sermon by Dr. John Piper: "We, Though Many, are one Body in Christ," based on Romans 12:1-8.
    4. After you've completed the reading, write a comment below: What new insights about Christian community did you gain from this sermon?
    This is basically two tasks, but we get the whole weekend to do them.  They both look quite enjoyable!  The first thing I must do is to either decide which elderly person to seek out... or to keep my eyes for someone I was going to run into anyways.... I think I'd better start off being strategic, and if God wants to bring a random person into my path instead, I'll try to watch for that opportunity as well.  The rules doesn't say you can't talk with more than one elderly person. ;-)

    Cheerio until Monday, or sooner! :-)  I'm off to clean the kitchen and listen to the end of a Tommy and Tuppence mystery!

    Boundless Summer Challenge - Task 6

    Yesterday's task was a bit difficult.  That's why I didn't even finish writing this until today.

    One of the reasons I have rarely done specific "relationship" posts on this blog is that I don't think I can say anything well that hasn't already been said excellently, whether on Boundless, or YLCF, or by the wise elders at my church.  Also, I simply feel unqualified, as a single lady who has been terrified of guys for much of her life, to give advice on getting married! 

    Here's the Task instructions:  
    1.  Read through some of these articles and make a list of essentials in a marriage partner. Take a few minutes to pray about your requirements, sincerely asking God to show you what qualities He desires in your partner.
    • If you're single, then make a list of people you are "interested" in (even if only mildly) and cross out the ones who do not meet the above essentials. Hm.
    • If you're dating or engaged, take time to think about ways you could improve this relationship and discuss with your fiancĂ© what qualities you really appreciate about them.
    • If you're married, go back to those things that drew you to that person and the qualities they have that you appreciate. Talk to them about this.
    2.  After you've completed the bullet points above, write a comment below[on the Boundless Line post], exploring in general terms (no specifics needed) a couple of the qualities that you identified.
    Make a list of people you're even mildly interested in?  Hmm.  That's a bit odd.  Sounds almost like trying to decide which house to buy.  But I guess the point of this is not so much the precise people on the list.  Mainly, it's to see if we're being biblically or worldly in our attractions. 

    As it happens, I actually made the second list (qualities I'm praying for in my husband) earlier this year.  Should have done one ages ago.  I had some council from one of the elders in my church, which helped me see a bit more clearly through the bucket-loads of qualities I had sloshing about in my mind. The only two requirements absolutely in Scripture seem to be:

    1. A Christian (II Cor 6:14)
    2. Must be able to provide for his family (1 Tim 5:8)

    That's all! But sticking with that, of course, one can still make an unwise choice.  And even if there's nothing logically unwise about the person, there's still a huge amount of freedom involved.(Ack!)  Just because someone is marrigable doesn't mean you are the person to marry them, or that if you don't marry them that you're in sin.  So I have a short list of other things, still with Scriptural support, I think (but not explicitly commanded as requirements for marriage), what are vitally important to me, and will hopefully be helpful considerations when I am in a relationship.  Beyond those, I also have a list of Preferences (important, but not deal-breakers), and Likes (just minor stuff for consideration). 

    Much to think and pray on.

    I hope all my unmarried readers will be praying, too!   We have an amazing God who wants us to pour out our frustrations and heartbreaks and longings and joys to Him.  I'm learning that whether I get the answers I want or not, the joy of drawing near to God can overshadow even my saddest days with a cloud of unimagined glory.  :-)

    This is one of my favorite quotes from articles, because it reminds me to hope.   
    "Nobody really "settles" in a biblical marriage because God has designed marriage as a wonderful gift that gets better with age. This is what people worried about settling don't seem to get. They think joy in marriage is all about the original choice one makes about whom to marry, rather than how they nurture and build their marriage. Again, this misses the picture of biblical marriage.

    Bottom line, the real danger for God's people in pursuing a spouse is that we will "settle" for the world's vision of self, love, marriage and even romance, rather than a vision of those things steeped in scripture and rooted in the love of Christ. Biblical love and marriage ask more of us than the world's selfish pursuit of non-existent perfection. But the rewards are infinitely richer."
    Scott Croft's article, Settling (the original version)

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Boundless Summer Challenge - Task 5


    Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love...
    ~ Romans 12:10 ~

    This was Wednesday's assignment:

    1. Visit or call your closest friend. (No texting, Facebooking, tweeting, or IMing.) Ask them how YOU can be a better friend to THEM. 
    2. Ask if there are any areas you can improve, or ways that you can be there for them in a better way. Don't let them get off the hook by saying that you're doing just fine.
    3. Spend some quality time asking questions about their life, focusing the conversation on them instead of yourself.
    4. Write a comment [on the Boundless Line post] letting us know how it went.

    What a good assignment!  Oddly enough (or was it more than chance?) this was another case of the task fitting right in with what I needed to do anyways!  My dear friend Catie, who I've known since I was 7 and she was 3, has been on my mind a lot lately.  Lots of changes going on in her family, what with lots of traveling, and her older brother marrying one of her dear friends... I've tried calling and emailing her these last few days, and she left a message on my phone and sent a reply email... and tonight I finally called and got to hear her cheery voice for real!

    We talked about various stuff going on in our lives, books we're reading, struggles we're having...  I asked how I could pray for her specifically, something she started a while back but which I thought to bring up this time.  And I finally asked what I could do to be a better friend.  She thought about it, and finally said, "Keep in touch more!"


    Duly noted.  Not complex at all.  But vitally important.


    The single biggest problem in communication 
    is the illusion that it has taken place. 
    ~ George Bernard Shaw ~
     


    Kind words can be short and easy to speak
    but their echoes are truly endless.  
    ~ Mother Teresa~

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Gratitude for my Daddy

    I've begun the Boundless Summer Challenge, and so far it has been more challenging than I expected.  More reading and writing and soul-searching, as opposed to just little tasks one could pull off in 10 minutes.  I've gone from excitement about it to a bit of resentful grumpiness at feeling like I "have" to meditate on truth and be changed by it in a day.  But I think as long as I remember it's a bit of a discipline, a means for grace and for God to change or teach me as He will, no matter my apparent success or not, then I shall enjoy it much more.

    Part of today's assignment is for guys to try to show love to a woman in their life (wife, mother, sister, etc.) and for girls to demonstrate respect to a significant man (husband, dad, brother, etc).  I decided to make a list of things I respect about my Dad, which I will list as this week's blessings.  :-) 


     
    It's odd - part of me feels like that's cheating... But no, it's actually a sort of integration and melding of things God's been nudging me towards lately - recording my blessings, and increased gratefulness for my family.  The life He calls us to is hard, but it's also much simpler than I usually make it. 

    I know I missed last week - out of town.  And yes, I know today's not Monday, again  It's barely even Tuesday anymore! Ah well. ;-)
     

    Why my Daddy is Amazing 
    (an only-the-tip-of-the-iceberg list)

    16.   Once, when I was away at college and had major car problems, my Daddy came and rescued me.  He took the car to a shop and got the problem fixed.  He also got me my first cell phone around then, so I wouldn't get stuck on some lonely road again without being able to call for help.  I knew when he said "Call me if you need anything" that he meant it, even if it meant driving a long way.  I felt so cherished. Thanks, Daddy.

    17.  He drives all the way from Houston (8+ hours) just to visit us on random weekends.

    18.  He used to play The Bug Game with us on the living room floor ages ago.  If you're wondering what The Bug Game is, good reader, I'm afraid it's rather beyond description.  Let's just say it involved wrestling, tickling, increasingly challenging levels, and at least four of us piled up on the "Bug" at some point.  We probably asked every night, to the point of extreme annoyance: "Daddy, are you tired?" (translation: not "Daddy, how was work? We care about you and hope you get some rest now" but actually "Do you have enough energy saved to be the Bug for our entertainment?")  It was always the highlight of the night when dear Daddy was not too tired to play.  Or, perhaps my grown-up eyes can see a bit better now... I'm sure you were actually still tired some of those times, Daddy, but you played with us anyways.    

    19.  My Daddy is clever and great at fixing things.  He's an engineer, but not just of drilling rigs and computer programs.  He engineers things like homemade boats, and clamps, and who knows what else.  He's a very hard worker

    20.  He was brave enough to have six kids, and helped my mom through the pain and sorrow of several miscarriages and losing little Elliot (who died several days after his birth).  I say it takes a brave man to keep on trusting God for whatever children He might want to give after that!  If he hadn't, if he had said, "Four is enough," then my two youngest brothers, Isaac and Whit, would not be here.

    21.  He and my mom decided before any of us came along that they wanted to teach their kids at home... back before they even knew such a thing was called homeschooling.  I am ever so grateful they chose to be radical in that way, and I'm excited and hopefully to one day carry on that legacy of homeschooling and really knowing my kids.

    22.  He and my mom did some deep theological study before us kids were born.  I know that's a huge reason why I grew up with such a biblical foundation, and probably partly why I find theology so interesting - it was talked about often at our house, outside, in the car, as we walked along the way...

    23.  My Daddy taught himself Russian, y'all!  He went over there for work, and decided he'd rather make the effort to learn to speak to language, rather than go the boring way of always using interpreters.  He got so good, actually, that some Russians couldn't detect an American accent when he spoke! You know, once you're grown, it's supposedly far harder to learn a new language than it is for children.  Well, my Daddy laughed in the face of such odds, and learned one. Good example for me.  It's never too late to learn a language, or a new instrument, or any such thing.

    24.  He has this awesome manly engineer handwriting.  :-) 

    25.  He's got a great sense of humor.

    26.  He likes a good cup of tea.

    27.  Whenever he comes to see us, he usually brings us each a Breakfast-on-a-Bun in the morning.  Yum! :-)

    28.  He's got the coolest blue-grey eyes.

    29.  He reads my blog. :-)  Not just any dad would make that effort to know what his daughter's been doing, even amid all my rambling and non-informative posts.

    30.  Even though he's not perfect (neither am I!), he's one of my heroes, striving for wisdom and faithfulness and goodness, doing what he can to take care of the people in his life.  I am so blessed to be your daughter. :-)  I am so blessed to call you Daddy.

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    1000 Gifts and Recent Adventures

    holy experience




    Been wanting to join the Gratitude Community for a while.  I know it's not Monday anymore, but I wrote most of this yesterday... anyways, happy un-Monday to you!    

    Someone asked me recently what adventures I've had.  So I thought I'd list recent adventures, mostly of the small sort, as my first compilation of Gifts.

    1.  Learning how much I don't know about the future, and other people's minds, and my own self. And how it's a mixed blessing. But mostly good, because God made it that way, and it helps me learn trust.

    2.  Pretending I live in the country...watering some friends' garden and trees, feeding their chickens, skinny cats, and barrel-of-a-black lab named 'Rilla (Gorilla).   Enjoying bits of dirt and sun, water splashed on my feet, quiet conversations with the critters... and with my Father.

    3.  Precious time journaling and listening, more than I have in quite a while. Rediscovering the joy of scribbled words on a page.  Of comforting, gently-prodding bits of the Word memorized  Longing for cut-in-stone answers... but even more, craving His nearness.

    4.  Munching Rosa's Cafe burritos with a younger sister in the faith, discussing old books and study habits and selective memory and CDs we listen to over and over and over and over...

    5.  Learning, slowly, to give my anxious heart to One who can calm it, instead of burying it in business.

    6.  Buying clothes... something I always put off, but needed to do... and actually enjoyed.  It's been exciting to actually find feminine, modest, lovely clothes. May I never wish I were a boy! :-)

    7.  Hearing about two friends' courtship and engagement - hurrah for Aaron and Joy! I remember when Aaron was a little boy collecting snakes, lizards, basset hounds, birds, cats, inventing the silliest stories with his Playmobile characters. And when I first met Joy, she and her clan of siblings were reading Redwall books and Greek mythology and producing their own plays and speaking in unique accents. Now he's a vet who's still wild about animals but wilder about God and family, and she's an intelligent, lively, lovely young lady passionate about truth and home. Engaged in a spot in the mountains nicknamed Sherwood. Perfect. :-)

    8.  Waking up at 4 a.m. feeling rested, with plenty of time to think and read and pray.

    9.  Exploring musty shelves at the used bookstore.  Finding a fresh, crisp copy of The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis for $2.  Exactly what I was wanting, but didn't expect to find there.  A surprise present from God that almost made me cry. 

    10.  Renewing old acquaintances with two sisters, homeschool graduates, setting a day to investigate the downtown coffee shop.

    11.  Soaking up a Sunday School lesson focused on observations, not assumptions.

    12.  Sending snail mail, handwritten notes and pretty stickers across town. 

    13.  Enjoying unexpected rain after intense dry West Texas heat

    14.  Eating garden-fresh tomatoes with basil, vinegar, and cucumber

    15.  Starting this list, officially, which I've been unofficially doing off and on for years, looking forward to a more regular habit of thankfulness. 

    Anyone want to do this with me?  I probably won't be consistent on the day of the week.  I just want to record God's specific goodness and grace.  I want to open my eyes today, but also 10 years from now, to catch glimpses of His faithfulness and intimate involvement in my life.


    Note: I'm playing with layout... I liked my old one terribly, and might switch back... But meanwhile, please excuse any drastic changes that show up here. :-)

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    "the best love letters"

    "...the best love letters are the ones simply breathed and lived and laid down with a life."      ~Ann Voskamp~


    Ann over at Holy Experience is such an inspiration and calming presence to me, though I've never met her.  This is a lovely post of hers I just read and had to share: How to Really Write a Love Letter 

    Wednesday, June 02, 2010

    Meditate on these things (not my list of complaints)

    I am thankful for:
    • Wednesday-night Bible study
    • sweet fellowship with young ladies
    • godly, wise mentors (today, especially Cheryl B.) 
    • pens and paper
    • afternoon naps
    • spicy-sweet dessert tea
    • ice cream
    • air-conditioning
    • a Sovereign God, who has everything planned and under control
    • a Jealous God, who wants us to be His only
    • a Patient God, who lets us make choices, even wrong ones, so we can learn
    • a Loving God, who knows exactly what His children need
    • a Wise God, who gives simple (thoughnot always easy) instructions for life
    • my own copy of God's Word
    • bagels
    • Izze (Sparkling Blueberry)
    • the invention of braiding
    • the adventures to be had while house-sitting
    • the creativeness of people
    • the unexplainable
    • an affectionate little dog 

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Echo



    You call me beloved.
    I echo, till
    weak, faint, fading away,
    dying, trying, I say, still,
    what You, Beloved,
    first put into Word,
    battered against your Father’s mountain,
    sounding the perfect echo
    that began the avalanche of saints' songs.

    ~Rael~

    written in 2007

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    Literary tag

    If I have ever been tagged before, I have not noticed.  Until now.  Thanks, Merriette! :-)  This is very rare, you know, but I'll do it for you and my own amusement.

    1 - What is your favorite book?

    The Lord of the Rings.  I know, big surprise. 

    2 - Who is your favorite character in that book and why?
    Samwise Gamgee, closely followed by Frodo (or vice versa, depending on when you ask me).  Sam is humble, down-to-earth, not especially clever or good with a sword or handsome or dashing or well-spoken, but he feels things deeply even when he can't say why.  He knows that he's part of a Grand Story.  He's also a hero in the highest sense of the word - faithful to the end, persistent and persevering and sacrificial, who carries his friend Frodo up Mount Doom.  He reminds me of Jesus, who is even more faithful and persistent than a hobbit, and who carried our sins and sorrows up a Hill when we could not.  And after the Evil was destroyed and it was finished, then came the waking, and finding that everything sad was coming untrue.


    :-)  Oh, and Sam is a gardener, a cook, and a wellspring of hilarious phrases from the Gaffer.  How could I not like him best?

    3 - If you could spend a day as a character in the book who would it be and why?
    Rosie Cotton.  Because she gets to live in the Shire, marry Samwise, and have lots of cute hobbit children. ;-)  Only a day would be too short to do all that, though, so I'm ignoring that part, muhaha.



    4 - Would you rather read Pride and Prejudice or Little Women?

    I've read both, and P&P would probably be a quicker read, but at the moment I'd pick Little Women.  We're about to watch it for my "Young Ladies Film Society" (i.e. movie night for girls from church), and I'd like to be able to notice the big things they added/changed in the film.

    5 - Where is your favorite place to read a good book?

    I've had many.  Once it was the tree in my grandparents' back yard, which alas, is now gone.   Often on my bed, in the car, by a cozy fire, or at the kitchen table with a plate of something yummy.  These days, it's mostly on the couch.  With a mug of tea or coffee, ideally, and sometimes a bit of chocolate.


    I shall not tag, but if you want to answer the same questions, of course you're quite free too.

    Lovely Wednesday night to you all!  I think I shall go refresh my coffee now, and read my current book - Dug Down Deep, by Joshua Harris, which I did end up buying and which has been quite refreshing and good.