Friday, July 30, 2010

just a few standards for my next relationship

After spending the past nine weeks with two-through-14-year-olds, I have made note of a few qualities in the younger generation of men that I would like in my own future and potential soul mate. In my marriage to come, I would like it if my husband:

1) Responds with a whispered “Yes!” of achievement when discovering that I will be staying with him at the rock wall and not departing with the other kids to the game room. (Translation: Desires to spend quality time with me and enjoys my company.)
2) Gives up his swing on the playground for me when another little boy gigglingly steals the one I was going to use. (Translation: Looks for ways to protect me and sacrifice for me.)
3) Lets me into the “No Wimin” fort made out of chairs in the corner of the classroom, even though I’m definitely a wimin. (Translation: Desires my presence at his football-game-viewings on Sunday afternoons, even though I’m a girl, and for more than just the cookies I will bake him.)
4) Scours the campsite for wood to start a campfire, without being asked. (Translation: Provides for me.)
5) Not only requests to sing Justin Bieber, but is my backup singer while I play it on the guitar. (Translation: Supports my gifting and talents, and is my partner in using them.)
6) Tells me about the times he’s climbed his uncle’s rock wall with only his arms, then proceeds to try 3 different times to climb the rock wall with only his arms, and only when I’m there to coach. (Translation: Is humble, strong, and desires to share his accomplishments and struggles with me.)
7) Buys me a fake, stick-on mustache from the gift shop. (Translation: Surprises me with little things to let me know he thinks about me.)
8) Calls me “Dinosaur Lady.” (Translation: Shares my affinity for Jurassic Park.)

I think I’ve had more 10-year-old crushes this summer than I ever had when I was 10 years old. Sometimes boys under 10 know better how to treat a lady than boys over 20. Then again, sometimes they don’t wear underwear for an entire week and think pooping in the lake is cool. Maybe I'm just turning 23 soon and feeling a little undiscovered....
Sunday, July 25, 2010

there once was love

I've rediscovered some loves. Not of Double Stuf Oreos, which I have consumed 8 of while sitting here at my computer. Not of a clean bathroom, which I daydream about every time I shower in my flipflops and try to roll up my pant legs when I put them on so they don't dip in the puddles of sand on the bathroom floor. Not even of those days when sweat isn't dripping off my face and making my thighs stick together when I walk. I never lost or forgot those loves, so I don't need to rediscover them. Here are some loves I have rediscovered, though, and it's like seeing my husband return from a long trip, having forgotten how handsome he was and how much I missed his smell:

+ Creation. Not true: I have never forgotten how much I love God's creation. But I had forgotten how much I love being completely engulfed and consumed by it morning through night. Last week was Backcountry Camp, and amidst the rivers, woods, rainy nights, and campfires, I found myself being filled with beauty like an empty balloon filled with helium, until all it can do is soar into the sky and pop for lack of a better release. Sometimes I forget not only how much God's love is revealed through His creation, but also that I am His created one, as well. It's so easy to look at a perfectly pure river and not wonder why God delights in His creation, but He delights in us as His creation, too, and our voices give Him even more pleasure than the voices of the perfectly pure river.

+ Writing. To save myself from soaring into the sky and popping, I've rediscovered why I write. After years of creative writing classes and assignments, I was pretty sure I'd lost whatever desire to write I'd had when I entered into college. Both my journal pages and my mind grew blank of creativity. But I realized as I sat on a damp rock beneath a waterfall why I write. I don't write because I should or because I'm required to. I write because I want to capture, I want to preserve, I want to remember. I write because I have to, or else my mind and heart will become so full that I either pop, or I spring several leaks and everything seeps out without any record of it. I'd forgotten what it was like to need writing, like needing food or sleep. Writing is a reaction to me. What would the trees do if they couldn't rustle when the wind blew?

+ Reading. Four literature classes and two history classes last semester had me convinced that I was done reading, unless menus at PF Chang and Olive Garden counted. But all summer I've played ball, I've gone swimming, I've hiked, I've climbed, I've jet-skied and tubed and paint-balled...but I haven't gotten completely lost in a lecture or a chapter so that minutes pass and I forget to stop thinking. I miss this. Thanks to miss Laura's blog, I'm now reading A Separate Peace. I love words, and I'd forgotten this until I was surrounded by a lack of them.

me and Bali in the middle of the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

darkness is as light to You

I went to a tattoo place last night. It was the first time I'd ever been to a tattoo place, and not just judgmentally passed outside of one in my car. There was a guy sitting outside who looked like a newspaper, he had so much black ink on him. It looked like he hadn't combed his hair in a long time, but his pony tail was very fashionable.

"What can I help you with?" He asked, taking a drag of his cigarette.
"I called earlier about getting my nose pierced," I replied.
He nodded. Silence.
Okey-dokey. "Is that possible tonight?"
"Yep." Pause.
All-righty-roo. "Like, right now?"
He laughed. "Right now!" Pause.
OMG, just tell me what I'm supposed to do! I just looked at him.
"There's some paperwork on the counter inside you can fill out. Just let me finish smoking this and I'll be right in."

I walked into the parlour, and there was a guy sitting in one of the tattoo chairs, watching House. He had piercings all over his face and tattoos all over himself. I wanted to ask him if he ever watched Miami Ink, but I thought maybe that would give it away that I'm a sheltered Christian girl. I wonder if I actually would've been there had I actually thought about what I was doing. The pictures and bumper stickers stuck all over the walls was so vastly different from the sign outside of Wilmore that says "Jesus Loves You!" as you drive into town.

As I sat in the chair, I squeezed Bali's hand and tried not to read the sayings on the walls. The smoker from out front sat next to me and dropped an f-bomb and maybe some s-words here and there. The things running through my mind were not about how, in a few seconds, this strange guy in tattoos whom I'd never met would be sticking a very sharp needle into my nose, oddly enough. Instead, I was thinking about how I'd been home schooled for most of my life; how, as a pastor's daughter, I ran through more church hallways than school hallways, and how, if a bumper sticker was stuck on any walls near me, it said something about Jesus walking on water or something about His footprints in the sand or something.

I took the few seconds as Tattoo Smoker Man of Few Words (that's his Native American name) bent the metal he was about stick through my nose with a pair of needle-nose pliers, and asked myself, "How am I feeling right now?"

Jesus doesn't call us to live in the Asbury bubble forever. Though I would love to live in that community playing Settlers of Catan whenever possible and eating Bruster's on Banana Thursdays, that's not the real world. And we don't have to be afraid of the real world, because "I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day" (2 Timothy 1:12). Not that Jesus calls us to be tattoo artists or get freaky horns implanted on our heads (Bali: "Do you do those here?" Tattoo Smoker Man of Few Words: "No, man. I don't cheat with death"), but if He called you into the darker places of the world, would you go?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

2 Corinthians 3:17

Tonight as I was jogging (I swallowed two bugs - scratch that: two bugs flew to the back of my mouth and army crawled down my throat fluttering their wings and singing "Just You Wait 'enry 'iggins" from My Fair Lady) fireworks went off all around me. I could see them across Lake Erie lighting up the sky above Cedar Point. I could see them down the street where they are illegal. (My 8-year-old first cousin once removed: "Grandpa Jim's coming tomorrow with fireworks." My 8-year-old first cousin once removed's mom: "Grandpa Jim's going to prison.") I could hear them above and to the side and in every direction...much like the soldiers at Bastogne must've felt in 1944, only with a lot more pressing on their minds than the cramp I was getting in my side, shinsplints, and those two bugs hanging draperies in my stomach.

I distinctly remember my Fourth of July last year as if it were not an entire year ago. I was dog-sitting some pretty wealthy people's Siberian husky (named Tucker, but he was a girl) in a canyon of the Wasatch Mountains in Salt Lake City. I spent the day in my pajamas, watching the History Channel's all-day documentary on the Revolutionary War, eating cream cheese icing right out of the container, and journaling. When it got dark I could see fireworks going off in four different parts of the city from my front window. I don't remember Tucker being involved very much.

A certain sadness hung over me as I jogged around a large loop and watched the fireworks reflect in the water tonight. There was a lot ahead of me a year ago that is now behind me, but that looks a lot different now looking back than I thought it would. Like if you're in a boat and you're about to glide into this incredible clear water with lily pads (which are endangered, and you're not allowed to pluck them, because we need to save the lily pads for our unborn children) that have beautiful yellow and purple blossoms, and you just know they're going to smell beautiful...but once you get there the roots of the lily pads get tangled in the blades of your propeller and your boat breaks down, and you discover you're allergic to the scent of lily pad blossoms, and there are mosquitoes. When you finally make it out and on your way you look back, and the sight of the incredible clear water is now tainted by what you experienced, and you wonder if anything you come across in the future will ever be as clear and beautiful as the few moments before the lily pad blossoms turned into mosquitoes.

I don't know where I'll be next July 4th. I don't know what will happen in a year. I realized, though, as I watched fireworks from Ohio that I could've been watching in Utah a year ago, or Wisconsin two years ago, that I can't put my hope in circumstances anymore. I seem to learn this lesson over and over again. Circumstances change, shift, alter, break, or simply turn out different than you thought they would. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Who better to fix our eyes on instead of the uncertainty of "clear" water?

"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them--the Lord, who remains faithful forever" (Psalm 118:8; 146:5-6).

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