Friday, February 29, 2008

Which way do I go???

And so I find myself in a dilemma. Do you know the meaning of dilemma?
“A situation in which somebody must choose one of two or more unsatisfactory alternatives.”

This is making me crazy - cuz it's difficult to live with either choice. One choice leaves me with a great deal of stress and anxiety, and the other a great deal of guilt.

It's times like these you just wanna say "God, please give me a road map...."
Of course he would probably give me a map like the one we got in New Hampshire that doesn't label half the roads so you are always confused, wandering and guessing. Navigating one way streets, driving in circles - or halfway down the road finding "You can't get there from here", or a dead end. Which makes me want to just pull off the road and throw my hands up in despair.

Not only does God choose to give us great learning experiences, He also appears to have a sense of humor. Only right now I'm not finding it very funny.....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Come to me......

So, this is what I'm thinking about today. It's not perfect - I'm still struggling with it, working it out in my head, - there's a tension here that is hard to resolve ("I am awesome and mighty and you can't look at me, but look for me, call out to me and I will help you."?) but this is kinda where I am now:

Storms. I'm not a fan. Of course they are awesomely beautiful - but only if I know I am safe from the wind and the lightening. I don't like storms in my life either. I don't like conflict or great difficulty (no matter what type) swirling around me. When life storms hit I just want to crumple up and hide under the table. And it seems like the storms are more frequent these days - instability in my life leading to those troublesome storms reminiscent of the violent spring storms we find in nature.

I'm tired of the storms. My legs are numb from hunkering down to stay out of harms way. My mind is exhausted from trying to reassure myself that I'll weather this storm too and only be the better for it. My heart is stumbling along, stressed from fear and pain.

That said, yes, storms are beautiful. Humbling.

How have we gone from appreciating the awe of God's power, his majesty revealed, to hiding from the waves and locking ourselves up tight to be safe?

The two just don't seem to fit - at least not in my life right now. But, the other day, as I was listening to a sermon (which didn't really go THAT direction btw) it struck me.

God is in the storm. This is a teaching time. And he's there the whole time. I mean, look at the night Jesus walked on the water.... the disciples were in that boat in a hell of a storm, totally freaking and probably thinking they were going to die for sure. And as the storm raged they tried to see through the waves and the wind and the mist, looking for any glimpse of salvation. Trying desperately to see land. And what did they see? More wind. More rain. More lightening. And a faint hint of something just beyond the waves, moving on the water. Passing them by. And they were afraid.

God is revealing himself to them in this storm. Right in the middle, in the height of the storm when they are beginning to give up hope; right then they strain one last time to see salvation and see God. He is there. Right there. Not pushing himself on us, or begging us to notice him. He's there in the thunder, in the pounding of the waves, in the flash of the lightening - that is the evidence of his power. God is passing by. So awesome and frightening we need to turn our face away. It's now we need to remember to look for Him. To be still and listen. The compassionate savior wants more than anything to calm the seas, climb into our boat and be with us. How many times does he pass me by because I'm not looking? Or I've given up. Or I'm so terrified of the storm that I refuse to come out from under the covers? Or I'm mad at him, and I'm determined to fix it on my own?

The storm calls our attention to God. To his working. To his power. To what he wants us to know. He is fearsome and awe inspiring - even terrifying, and he wants something from me - something that I may not want to give. And just through the waves, just as like Peter I am starting to go under, I see the compassionate savior waiting to rescue me. And I need to call out to him, to invite him to help me through this storm. Calm the waves. Otherwise in great sadness he will pass me by. And the storm will continue to rage....

Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mighty to Save

Everyone needs compassion
Love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Saviour
The hope of nations

Saviour, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever, Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender
I surrender

Shine your light and let the whole world see
We're singing, for the glory of the risen king,
Jesus, Shine your light and let the whole world see
We're singing for the glory of the risen king

I can Never get enough

....of Boston that is, and the North Shore, not snow. But apparently, as my sister so kindly pointed out, I am a snow magnet, and the snow followed me to Boston.
10 inches in 8 hours. I'm 10 minutes from Gordon, and can't get there.
Instead Sandy and I sat in Applebees for about 3 hours, and went to the theater to see Juno - I had seen it, but Sandy hadn't, and then sat in Panera for another couple hours. (All of these places were in walking distance from our hotel - so we were never in any danger, even after I had a really yummy raspberry colada...)
Hey - at least I was away from West Chicago, with a friend, having fun and making the best of a crazy situation. We did have a good time. Except I drank way too much iced tea......
Finally, Saturday we connected with Carissa, and then Sandy connected with her friends. They headed one way and I took Carissa and her friends, Dani, Erica, and K.P. to Rockport for lunch. Yummy - clam chowder and focacia bread with olive oil.
Then I was the hero. No kidding. All I did was take them to Trader Joe's. Seriously. You would have thought I handed each of them a hundred bucks. It was hilarious. After I dragged them and all their goodies outta there we went to Target, and, well - they needed swimming suits for spring break. That was interesting.....
And, finally out for calamari and other goodies at Vinnie T's before I returned them to their dorm.

Sunday, Sandy and I got to go to church with them at Community Church in East Gloucester. I enjoyed that, and I'm glad to know that Carissa is finally getting plugged in somewhere. I like the pastors (check out the staff section of their site) and I liked what I heard.

Then we headed out around the harbor, to the Atlantic shore, circled back in and went to lunch at Gloucester House. Yum. Shrimp, Clams, Calamari, Scallops......

I am sooooooooooooo thankful for this much needed break!

Anyway - the pix are below. Enjoy!

10 inches in 8 hours.....

Rockport - Bearskin Neck

Erica, Carissa, K.P. and Dani - Rockport Harbor

The girls in Rockport

Rockport Harbor

Rockport Harbor

Dani, Erica, K.P. and Carissa

Atlantic ocean off East Gloucester and yes - the water was this blue....

Atlantic ocean off East Gloucester

K.P., Carissa, and Erica - Gloucester Harbor

Gloucester Harbor, behind Gloucester House

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I can't believe I forgot to post this!

A few weeks ago I was leaning on my window sill dreaming and looking out at the trees and the snow, and the owl. What? An owl? I ran to get my camera, but my new camera's memory card was full, and the second memory card was still in the awful plastic packaging that you can never get anything out of, so I resorted to my old camera.
I snapped the picture you see, then grabbed my new camera, cleared the memory card, figured out how to off the flash, (new camera, remember?) went to the window, hit zoom and as I went to capture the "perfect picture" the owl spread his awesome wings and took off faster than I could snap the picture.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Winter promise

I saw a sun dog this morning! It was absolutely beautiful. The colors were gorgeous. A winter rainbow on either side of the rising sun. I wanted to pull off to the side of the road and just stare at it - but I had to go to work. And, of course, I didn't have my camera.
God makes the coolest things!

Friday, February 15, 2008

The same pain that can blemish our personality can act as a creative force,
burnishing it into an object of delight.

Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

Thursday, February 14, 2008

When is it going to stop?

This time it hits close to home.

DEKALB, Ill. — A man dressed in black opened fire with a shotgun and two handguns from the stage of a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University on Thursday, killing five students and injuring 16 others before committing suicide, authorities said.

The gunman fatally shot four women and a man in a "brief, rapid-fire assault" that sent terrified students running for cover, university President John Peters said. Four of the six total dead died at the scene, and the other two died at a hospital, he said.

My heart hurts.

I don't know what else to say. Except these families need to be blanketed with our prayers.

And, I'm glad Joe and Dave are ok.

EDIT: I saw a picture of the shooter's dad today. It broke my heart. We need to remember him in our thoughts and prayers too. I can't even imagine how difficult this is for him.
"There is no neutral ground in the universe;
every square inch, every split second,

is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan."

I coulda had a V-8!

As I was driving today I felt compelled to listen to the radio. K Love. Dunno why. I haven't listened to it much in the last year. I haven't done a lot of things in the last year.

I'm thinking I should have been doing a lot of those things. But I got busy. Busy, busy, busy. With "stuff." Distractions. People. Fun. And before I knew it I was waaaaaaaaaaaaay off track. Which would explain a lot of things. I think I just experienced a wake up call this morning. No - not that I should be listening to K Love. LOL. Not at all. But that there is something in my life that I have been putting on the back burner for a couple years that really shouldn't be there. So, it's time to get up, dust myself off and get back on track.

Why does it take being hit over the head with a baseball bat before we acknowledge that we have to turn around, retrace our steps and head in a totally different direction other than the one in which we have been traveling?

Happy Valentine's Day!

"It is now well-established that both animals and humans show health benefits from social contact (e.g., House, Umberson, & Landis, 1988). Positive physical contact in the form of touching, hugging, cuddling, and the like is known to release oxytocin which, in turn, has anti-stress properties. The present analysis suggests some mechanisms whereby social support may provide health protection … accompanying relaxation. As such, oxytocin may confer health benefits (cf. Ryff & Singer, 1998)."

Simple lesson of the day, hug more and hug longer!

Happy Valentines Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.....

So, I have been thinking about Isaiah 53 this week. Partly because of the Lenten season, and partly because - well I just am. Verses three and four keep playing in my mind over and over.
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. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
The whole thing of Jesus suffering, and the necessity of it is spinning in my head. I know people have many reasons and theories for this. It's complex with many nuances. So, without getting into all the theology behind this passage, it is comforting to know that God can truly understand what we humans are feeling because He felt it too in the person of His Son. It's easy for individuals to talk about their problems and for well meaning people to say they understand - although I am pretty cynical at times. If a person hasn't experienced it how can they even begin to say they know what their friend is talking about? Presume to know what they are feeling? Sure, they can sympathize, pray, and listen. Just please don't give people pat answers and "christianese." You can't truly understand until you have been there. And that's what it is about this verse in Isaiah 53 that keeps running in my head. He knows, He gets it, He has experienced it. And is able to enter into our suffering with us. This is just one small aspect of why. And as bad as I think my problems are His were exponentially worse at this point. Not only can He understand my pain, He can understand way beyond what I can even imagine.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

“The waves of the sea help me get back to me..........”

I need a beach - where I can hear the rhythm of the waves.
Like breathing.
Dependable despite the rest of the world.
I need to be soothed with the heartbeat of the sea.
Again and again.
Like a lullaby to calm my wounded soul.
My hurt.
My fears.

I need to feel the sun burning clear to the marrow of my bones.
Warming the relentless cold.
Stirring the life that has gelled and stopped in response to the coldness of rejection.
I welcome the thaw.
The sun's hot sting, letting me know that I am still alive.

I need to be where I can feel the caress of the breeze.
The hug of air and salt and humidity.
A comforting blanket that enfolds my discarded heart.

I need to feel the shifting sand.
To observe change.
Subtle. Minute.
Unless the wind is blowing hard.
And the waves are angry.
Things are never the same from day to day on the beach -
yet the landscape has a comforting familiarity.
I need to learn that daily shifts and changes in my life don't really alter the basic landscape of who I am.

I need to sit.
And do nothing.
Answer to no one.
Stay as long as I want.
Do it for me, and not worry how it might look to others.
I need to think.
Let my tears mingle with the salty air,
let them run until I'm dry.
Until I'm empty and ready to be filled.
With God.
With His mercy and love.

Til I'm ready to let Him be all I need.
Til I realize He is the friend who will never leave me,
reject me,
or take without giving.

Who cares about me more than I have ever cared about Him.
Who, no matter what I do, will never toss me aside.
Who loves me as I am.
Who hasn't made me a project.
Who won't grow bored with me.
To whom intimacy is not a scary thing.
Who shares the depths of His love even as I share the depth of my needs.
Who, while rejoicing in my growth and change won't walk away because it's taking too long.

I need to dig a hole in the sand and watch as it fills relentlessly with water,
changing from a hole to a vessel.
Eventually becoming mingled and mixed and one with the very thing that fills it.

I need a beach.

Monday, February 11, 2008


I thought long and hard about what to give up (or what to make a part of my life) for lent this year. Nothing seemed right. It all seemed like it could be grouped under ulterior motives. So, reluctantly I decided since I wasn't doing it for the right reason I would not participate. Until yesterday. The perfect thing occurred to me. So what if it's 5 days late. This is something that is meaningful, and sacrificial and just not an easy thing to give up. Sometimes I think we take the easy way out - e.g. chocolate or sweets when we really want to lose weight anyway, or giving up TV when there's nothing on because of the writer's strike, or doing something that we should be doing anyhow in hopes that after forty days it will be a habit in our lives. That is not the intent of lent. This year it took a lot of soul searching to find the thing that will remind me daily, hourly, maybe more often, of Christ's sacrifice. I don't know if I will succeed but at least the constant reminder of what He did will be before my mind and heart in a very visible way.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Don't let other people's opinions

burn holes in your dreams.

Elsa Joy Bailey

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

This is VERY cool

I found this on the Serious Eats site this morning, and it was so cool I had to share it.....

Snapshots from Asia: Leaf Bowls and Terracotta Cups


In the bustling North Indian city of Kolkata, it seems ironic that the two things I’m most excited about (besides the mind boggling variety of street food) are probably also the most generic items to be found: leaf bowls and terracotta cups used by wallas (street hawkers) to contain yummy goodness.

These bowls and cups are disposable, biodegradable, ecofriendly, and—best of all—take the place of the nasty paper, plastic, foam, and foil stuff ubiquitous everywhere else.

The bowls are made from leaves that have been “pinned” together with twigs and dried in the sun, while the cups are “expertly thrown by potters at a rate of more than ten cups a minute.”

20080204terracottacup.jpgCalled “matir bhar," the cup here is the bigger, 100 ml one used for water, while chai wallas (tea hawkers) dole out their daintier, one-ounce cousins. All day long, locals can be seen on the streets sipping on the sweet, spicy, milky brew… often accompanied by a dunkable bikkie on the side. Any time is tea time.

It used to be that a hole would be dug after a meal, with the used cups and leaves tossed in and covered with mud. This would eventually turn into a rich humus that could be used to fertilize crops. Urban living, however, means these cups and plates tend to end up as litter on the roadsides. While I know litter is litter, somehow, crumpled plastic just does not have the poetry that broken terracotta cups and shredded leaf bowls do. Especially when all that remains of the cups at the end of the day is red dust shimmering in the air.

About the author: Wan Yan Ling is an impoverished grad student and sourdough finger-crosser living in Rhode Island. She can usually be found in the kitchen procrastinating on "real work" or online tracking down obscure recipes. Ling thinks eating alone is no fun, and she still believes in hand-mixing.

I find this amusing....


Photograph from La Mariposa on Flickr

Monday, February 04, 2008

What are you reading? Another Meme....

This one is fun. Here are the “rules.”

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. No cheating!
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

Here is my selection:

The book is Madame Dread: A tale of Love, Voudou and Civil Strife in Haiti.

"The church provided him the opportunity to travel to Rome, Jerusalem, Great Britain, and Canada, where he perfected his English, Spanish, Italian and Hebrew. But he needed only one language to get his message across to the Haitian people, and in Creole he shouted loud and clear and often that social change was possible and the Hatian people had the tools to do it. Like a rampant infection, youth groups took up his cry for liberation theology and social change and the Aristide dynasty was launched."

Tagging Julie, Christine, Jen, Mike (yes, I know you hate these.....) and Vanessa.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Our listening creates a sanctuary

for the homeless parts within another person.

Rachel Naomi Remen