14 December 2009

I just thought this was funny


It's just from facebook, but I liked it. :)

13 December 2009

themes of the year, and I am vindictively happy about the cold

(Maybe vindictive isn't the right word, but I love it. It is what I feel when, as in most winters, we are cheated out of any cold weather whatsoever and "winter" is an elusive treat that ends up skipping us until next year, when we will wait in vain for it again.) I want more than a tiny, token "break" from summer, I want winter!!!

I am cozy on the couch drinking grapefruit juice and eating cheese toast, with way too much caramel popcorn in my tunny and football on tv. It's a good place to be.

My students just had their recital tonight. They really pulled it together at the last minute--after the rehearsal, the recital usually feels like a Christmas miracle. It was stunning and I actually thought, "Did I teach them all to play like this?!" and almost cried. (This happens to me these days, now that many of my kids are out of methods almost completely...)

And they all gave me presents at the end. There was a Starbucks gift card, a really yummy little loaf of spice bread with chocolate chips in it, awesome tea from Israel, two lovely candles, a picture album, caramel popcorn, and Sarah Palin's book.

It has been a good winter so far, quite cold and gratifyingly cloudy, so I am mostly satisfied that seasonal weather has not been completely elusive. We have Christmas lights on our outside banister, and the inside of our house is all decorated too, and cozy, and I have somehow had time to watch a lot of football and cook dinners. I am a little bit skinnier than normal, due to a bunch of dancing and then 8 days of being in bed with strep, and then more dancing. It's true that nothing tastes as good as being skinny. (If you're really that vain, which I am.) Anyway, tasting stuff isn't usually what makes you fat, it's eating a lot of it, so I guess you can have your tasting and be skinny too.

Since the year is about to end, and I am leaving my quiet a home a week from tomorrow and not coming back until January, this might be my last chance to reflect at the same time as having internet. I've been reflecting already, if you didn't notice. This year I learned that not trying to please Everyone is so worth Everyone's displeasure. I have even learned to take the displeasure as something positive for me, since it is a sharp reminder that I am no longer expending the energy to please, and am therefore happier and healthier anyway.

This year also seemed to revolve around evangelism for me, too. Sermons about it, opportunities with it, things jumping out of the Bible, stories from friends about it, all that sort of thing. Not really an odd thing to pair with not pleasing everyone, when you think about it. And it's funny, because last year was focused around obedience. I guess personal obedience has to come before you can share your faith. It couldn't be the other way around. Not that I'm all obedient now, but I'm more on the way than I was...

I don't choose these focuses, but when I look back on a year, I see the theme. So I wonder what next year's will be. I am starting to think maybe it will have to do with being kind. Impossible to be sure, but I have just been thinking a lot more about kindness recently. I just want to be as kind to Steve as he is to me so he can see how it feels.

05 November 2009

I just want to...

I want to make this tea cozy, only bigger for my big teapot:



I want to have a birthday party that looks like this:


I want to have these mushrooms in my patio garden.

I want to make these gloves. AND wear them.

I want to eat these:


I want to wear this: Tights with tall socks, with heels and some cozy sweaters and a scarf.


And I want to have these goats for pets, like she does. :)

26 October 2009

glamour goat

This picture and its caption totally made my day. I LOVE goats!!! I can take or leave Madonna, but I am SO HAPPY to live in a world that has goats!


"Madonna totally looks like this little goat."

22 October 2009

a quote for today

"I am sick and tired of people saying that if you debate and you disagree with this administration, you are unpatriotic...We should stand up and say, 'We are Americans, and we have a right to debate and disagree with ANY administration!'"

~As shrieked by Hillary Clinton to attendees of the 2003 Jefferson Jackson Bailey dinner in Connecticut

Can I just add to that, KEEP IT UP RUSH LIMBAUGH AND FOX NEWS!!!! (and the rest of you!)

Is it just not obvious to most Americans that Obama's attack on people/organizations who do not agree with him is utterly outrageous and un-American and scary? I don't care if you love or hate where Obama is taking our country, this situation is showing his true colors and they are frightfully anti-free-anything. (except health care, it appears. We'll see how that goes.)

Having said that, I feel better and will now continue recovering from three hours of dance class. Thank you for your time.

18 October 2009

Cat

from The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and other verses from The Red Book
by J. R. R. Tolkien



The fat cat on the mat
may seem to dream
of nice mice that suffice
for him, or cream;


but he free, maybe,
walks in thought
unbowed, proud, where loud
roared and fought
his kin, lean and slim,
or deep in den
in the East feasted on beasts
or tender men.


The giant lion with iron
claw in paw,


and huge, ruthless tooth
in gory jaw;


the pard, dark-starred,
fleet upon feet,
that oft soft from aloft
leaps upon his meat
where woods loom in gloom--
far now they be,
fierce and free,
and tamed is he;
but fat cat on the mat,
kept as a pet,
he does not forget.


~pictures by Steve and The Kince
~

03 October 2009

sister & brother

Waiting for Steve to wake up and hang out this morning, I was wandering around facebook (in between videoing Steve snoring) and I found this picture of Micheal and Kathleen.


I love it because I miss them (and all my family--don't worry, I will eventually stumble across pictures and stories about all of y'all!) and it reminds me of when they were little, because they were always together then. As little bitty kids, they'd wake each other up so early almost every day, and go outside as if there were going to be a meteor shower or a rainbow or, I don't know, something they couldn't possibly miss, out in our yard. I'm sure they could tell me what was really going on, and what they were playing, all I know is that I was awakened so many mornings by their tiptoeing and whispering in the grass outside my screened-in bedroom.

And now they're almost completely grown-up.

01 October 2009

And now, a very sensible opinion from Coco Chanel:

I don't understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little - if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that's the day she has a date with destiny. And it's best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.

My sentiments exactly, though as usual, in fewer words. Thanks, Stacy!

27 September 2009

narcissism (is fun!)



This is me with my new red hair! It's even brighter in person, and most people who have "noticed" it (a couple of students and the lady at the music store) have made funny generic comments like this, "Well, looks like you're ready for fall!" Or "Wow! That must open up a whole new color palette for you to wear." (huh? If anything, I can't quite wear red and orange as well as I used to...) Like they think it's horrible, and don't want to actually say so, but don't want to lie either and say it looks good. I really like it!

In person it looks kind of like this, but a little redder.


It took two boxes of hair dye! And then my sweet Steve brought me flowers to match:

25 September 2009

about delight & peacefulness

My dear lamb, Delight, in his picture on my desktop, reminds me that I am a sheep and that I have a good Shepherd.

Such a good Shepherd, who even cares about the details of my life, who gives love and mercy and not what I deserve. It is nice and relaxing to think about, because if you have a shepherd, then all you have to do is follow. You don't have to worry about tomorrow, or yesterday.

"Because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need. "

~Psalm 23:1 (The Living Bible)

23 September 2009

Heaven?

Heaven isn't somewhere else. I've been thinking about it. Lately I have been reading the Bible in search of what Heaven will be like. Not reading anywhere specific, just watching for glimpses. I tried to explain my idea of Heaven to someone recently and was asked what I was smoking. But really, I don't think that Heaven is somewhere else. I think Heaven is the Earth, when Christ comes back to take eternal possession of what is already His. When the kingdom of God comes, like it says in Revelation, when the new Jerusalem comes. When the knowledge of the Lord has covered the earth as waters cover the sea.

If we die before this happens, we go to be with the Lord, but is that really a place? Well, He says He is preparing a place for us, (John 14:2) but it seems like the Bible talks more about that place coming to us than us going to it. Sometimes, it even talks about God coming to live with us, and not the other way around. "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man." (From Rev. 21:3)

I don't know all the whens and whys, but I do know that Heaven, as we tend to think of it, a quiet, otherworldly place with angels and harps, is never described in Scripture at all. I wonder why that is the traditional view. Where on earth (hah! no pun intended) did that come from? What is described in the Bible is the new Jerusalem, (Revelation 21:10, Micah 4:1-4) the new heaven and the new earth, (Rev. 21:1-2) God's kingdom, and what that will be like. (Isaiah 11:6-9)

As Christians, we can tell that we already live in a picture and a shadow of what the new heaven and new earth will be like. Because when we see the earth--the trees, the grass, the animals, the people, the moon and stars, any beauty at all, any harmony, any glory---we are seeing a tiny bit of what God intended and intends His world to be. C. S. Lewis puts it far more articulately:

The faint, far-off results of those energies which God's creative rapture implanted in matter when He made the worlds are what now we call physical pleasures; and even thus filtered, they are too much for our present management. What would it be to taste at the fountainhead that stream of which these lower reaches prove so intoxicating?

~The Weight of Glory

I cannot pretend to know what it will be like, but sometimes it strikes me: What if it really is the same, only without all the effects of sin? If God's kingdom comes here to earth, will the same trees and seas and mountains be here, only glorified as they were meant to be? And then what about Paris and London, and all the wonderful cathedrals? But those are man's creation. But if the earth is redeemed, well, I just don't know. But it is so thrilling to look forward to it--the earth being more of the real thing than it is now, like C.S. Lewis said at the end of The Last Battle:

Lucy looked hard at the garden and saw that it was not really a garden at all, but a whole world with its own rivers and woods and sea and mountains. But they were not strange: she knew them all. "I see, she said. "This is still Narnia, and, more real and more beautiful..."

It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia, as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it, if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley... And on the wall of that room opposite the window there may have been a looking glass. As you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different--deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more.

And finally, my favorite thought about the reality of Heaven, because I really believe that in writing this one line, said by Aslan to Lucy, Lewis captured what this life will mean when we first step into the next one:

"The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."

18 September 2009

1. the letter to the church in Ephesus

I have always had a fascination with the letters to the churches in Revelations, so in my own study of the book, I decided to start with those.

Before Jesus dictates to John the seven letters to the seven churches, we get a physical description of Jesus as he appeared. The beginning of each letter includes one or two aspects from this description, each has something different. I am not sure if I will find out why here and now, but I am just going to focus on each letter and see what I learn in general. Any insights are welcome.

The first letter (chapter 2, verses 1 through 7), to the church in Ephesus, is from "him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, and walks among the seven golden lampstands." Earlier, Jesus explains to John that those stars symbolize the angels of the seven churches, and that the lampstands symbolize the churches themselves. That is the picture in our minds as we read the letter:

I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and have found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But this I have against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. To one who conquers I will grant to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

After reading through the letter the first time, I found it surprising that Jesus had a problem with that church, because they seem so exemplary. Much better than I am. They "have not grown weary." I grow weary all the time and just quit; weary of having faith, weary of praying, weary of reading the Word. Weary of the most basic things, in the easiest of times. I did not go back and research the cultural background of Ephesus at that time, but I'm pretty sure that just being alive then and there, not to mention being a Christian, was way more difficult than it is here and now. So anyway, that's the example I found for my life from this church. I really was convicted about the flabbiness of my faith and my walk.

Next, the rebuke Jesus had for them. They had left their first love, the love they had for God when they first became Christians, I think. And what to do about it? First, it says remember it (the first love) and second, to repent and do what they did before, when their love was still on fire.

Do? But they seemed to be doing all the right things already. And then this passage came to my mind:

If I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. I Corinthians 13: 1-3

So, Jesus wanted them to go back to the love they had for him in the beginning, because loving the Lord is what makes our obedience real. (If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15) So, loving is obeying. Obeying is loving. But what is love? Then it hit me:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I Corinthians 13:4-7

I know this passage is in the context of how people should love one another, but if this is God's definition of love, it makes sense that we must also love Him this way! Not that God is human, that he sins and lets us down, or that we would have to be patient with him, and bear with him, and things like that. But when you think about it, we are often impatient with God. We are resentful and arrogant: unwilling to endure, unwilling to believe all things, and bear all things, even unwilling to hope and rejoice with the truth! The letter to the church in Ephesus helped me to see this, and I am so excited because it is a new thought for me--a new perspective on what really loving God is.

I learned from this first letter that I need to have some grit in my spiritual walk and not just give up every time I am tired. I also got that new picture of what loving God looks like.

I still do not quite see why that particular picture of Jesus was given to us at the beginning of the letter, but I still really hope to learn the significance of that someday.

Revelation

Beth Moore, who has been a particular blessing in my sister-in-law's life, is teaching through the book of Revelation for the next few weeks. Knowing how dear Revelation is to me, this sister invited me to do the study long-distance with her. Two things have happened with that:

We discovered that there was no workbook for the series, so I would not really have a resource to participate in the study. I was really disappointed but decided to see what I could learn from sort of making "workbook" on my own, by studying deeply and asking questions, instead of just reading. I got really excited about that project and started right away.

Then my SIL has started scanning in the worksheets that she gets from the Beth Moore study, so I actually can participate after all!

So now I am doing the Beth Moore study and my own study, and I have decided to blog about the results.

17 September 2009

just a word


grit
:

firmness of mind or spirit : unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger

How 'bout it, America? What ever happened to such a vital part of our collective national spirit?

Many people these days believe they are entitled to EVERYTHING, except to give life a good try with their own gumption, creativity and yes, grit. The people who once formed this country and it's government had little else.

16 September 2009

delight

I came home from work one day and Steve had made this the background of my little mac:



This picture came from a "most e-mailed pictures" list that Steve was looking at one time. I loved it so much and every time I see it makes me very, very happy. If I had a pet baby lamb, I would name it Delight.

14 September 2009

this says it all...


I'm proud of the 2 million people who went to Washington on 9/12 to show Obama that they hate what he is doing to our country. I would have been there if I had not already had plans to be elsewhere, and if there's another rally like that, I'd love to be there!

09 September 2009

Day by Day

When sad, awful things happen to people, it's hard to understand why. It's hard for me to just get a grip. This hymn makes me feel better sometimes. I pray it's words for the people who are going through sad things, that they will have such peace and trust. I pray that I would be able to say and mean these words when my time comes to go through something like that.

Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in the Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day as He deems best--
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special blessing for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Power.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As your days, your strength shall be in measure,"
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E're to take, as from a father's hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

~by Caroline Sandell Berg, 1865

05 September 2009

champagne-bubblebath cocktail circa 1940?


Sometimes a book, and even less often, a movie can portray how you see the world, capture and express things inside that you cannot put into words, or draw in pictures. When this happens, it is often the deep, difficult things that are brought out and expressed.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day,
a novel written in the 1930s and recently made into a movie, is like that for me. In this case though, instead of expressing some sort of mysterious difficulty from my somewhere in my psyche, it brought out the tiny details instead. Things too minute for words, and yet very descriptive of how I think about the world. (This is all very self-analytical.)



Not so much the plot, but the images and colors in the movie, and rooms and glamourousness of it somehow resonated very accurately with what my mind has always looked like on the inside, ever since I can remember being conscious. Not that my mind is glamourous, luxurious, or a comedy; I think it's more clumsy and undisciplined than anything else. (Like body, like mind?) We're working on that. It's just that, if you take all that (the movie images) as one impression, like a painting, then you have my mental sort of "filter" I guess.

I was going to say lots more clever things about all of it, but I'll just put up the rest of the fun pictures and leave it at that.




Doesn't this make you want to drink champagne and sleep in silk sheets all the time for the rest of your life? (and have curly hair?)

04 September 2009

back to normal

After a horrendously busy (but very fun) summer, I am finally recovered enough to have words for some of my thoughts. Most of them are kind of heavy these days though...new opinions on politics, new thoughts about faith, and praying from a broken heart for two young husbands I know of whose wives are gone to be with the Lord. There are many other things on my heart, real and imagined as usual...

25 July 2009

what I think

These are the categories that most occupy my thoughts these days, and this is what I am thinking about them all right at the moment.

Music/Culture: Certain songs on the radio make me want to run, not because they're stupid or lame, even though lots of them make me want to run for that reason. But some make me want to run because they have an ugly spirit that sort of jumps out at me and hates me. I can't think of any specific example because don't keep track of them. Figuring this out is sometimes not very high on my list.

Countries/Travel: I miss London, and the countryside around it. I really want to go back there and spend a long time. And I love remembering Paris. Having been to Paris really does change your life!

Languages: Studying Latin is a fascinating new activity I've discovered. It's history is so interesting. Spanish is fun and easy compared with German and French, and it makes me feel good in the hot summer.

Passions: Having a burden for the lost is not the most fun sometimes, but things happen to build your faith.

Me: I like being tan and having glow-y white, sparkly fingernails to go with my lovely diamond ring and my Juicy Couture charm bracelet. I'm missing the thing in my brain that's supposed to get rhythm and translate it into my body. Still wondering what to do about that, as I practice and practice dancing.

Piano: I like sight reading Chopin nocturnes, now that I can. Practicing doesn't really scare me anymore. That's a relief. I can play jazz now. I work very hard at the rhythm, but the chords finally come more naturally.

Food: I want sushi, and to go to the Tipperary soon.

Family: We are all getting together soon.

Friends: I am about to take a break for a while.

Husband: We are so happy and finally unstressed!

Theology: Reading a lot, as always. Realizing that you can only learn from someone if you trust and respect them, and it takes a long time to find a preacher, writer, philosopher,theologian, etc. who can be trusted and respected.

God: He is faithful. All the time. He comes through. His Word means what it says to me.

16 July 2009

Christians who hate Christians

Three or four times throughout my life, I have met Christians who think that the vast majority of other Christians are judgmental, nasty, prideful people who take every opportunity to be ugly to non-Christians and Christians who they think are "fallen" or something.

Maybe these few peoples' opinions don't really matter, but I find them upsetting. They haunt me, each of these Christian people I've known who feel they need to be defensive against Christians. I cannot figure them out. They are usually sensitive and nice, and seemingly knowledgeable about the Bible, but when you come to defining who Christians are, you find that these people almost hate them, and think we'd all be better of without them, even though they share their fundamental beliefs.

Maybe someone, or some church, has been mean to them or someone that they love. Maybe they wish Christianity were something that it's not. Also, they usually have a strong dislike for tradition. I guess Christianity has traditions, because it is so old, but tradition is not wholly bad. It should not obscure the real thing though, the reason for it, and maybe sometimes it does.

I don't know. I don't understand. I would think you would love meeting and being with people who love the Lord and can understand what he has done for them. I think the sort of people I am talking about--the Christians who hate Christians--really do love to be with others who believe like they do, but when they think of the church in general, they think of the kind of people who do not really know that they need grace, and so are prideful and like to judge.

My question about that is, how can the latter even be defined as Christian? Isn't a Christian someone who knows that they are unacceptable to God except by his own mercy and sacrifice? So then why do these "Christian haters" think that Christians are so awful? Why don't they know that who they are really hating are people who think they're Christians, but don't understand anything about it at all?

It's just that churches today are so full of such a mixture--and that's fine, I hope some of the mixture gets saved--but so many of these churches are without strong biblical teaching, and so many pastors are afraid to speak the truth that's in the Bible, that "Christian" has become a whole mass of people who everyone can define however they want: nice people, harmless people, judgmental people, abortion-doctor-shooting people, family-ruining people, gay-hating people.

The Bible does not use any of that to define a follower of Christ. Christians, of all people, should recognize other Christians by the biblical definition, and not be distracted and confused by all of today's random cultural definitions. I just did not know Christians could be that confused about one another, and it makes me sad. I always knew that non-believers think who knows what about us, but if some Christians cannot even recognize the difference between real Christians and culturally labeled "Christians," what do we do?

15 July 2009

scary music

The new Harry Potter came out this week, but since I'm not going to see it until this weekend, I have been watching all the old ones. Sometimes, I just listen to them while I clean the house, or paint our dirty, chipped, embarrassing stair rails a clean, glossy white. I'm doing that a bit at a time, in a relaxed, this-isn't-a-big-project way, so watching a movie and having tea during painting doesn't seem that out of place. But with Harry Potter on in the background, I hear lots of scary music. Every day, hours of scary music. Well, almost.

Scary music sometimes has a pounding beat that makes you feel like something is about to happen, sometimes the soft, sharp, high pitches make you feel creepy, sometimes it just sounds like how it feels when something really scares you all of a sudden, and you feel that adrenaline rush. (But not in a very good way. I guess some people like it. I like sugar.) That last kind of music describes having a scary feeling, rather than creates, I think.

But what makes scary music scary? It's just a bunch of sounds. What if it's only scary to us because we have been conditioned to think it is, just like we are conditioned to make sense of all music based on the scales that western music uses. (Not country, for those of you who were thinking that. By "western" I just mean, not far east or Asian and all that. Their music only sounds "weird" to us because it is based on an entirely different pitch system than ours. So, if we were used to their scales, their music would sound normal. I've probably over-simplified it, but yeah. Speaking of over-simplifying, this whole parenthetical explanation probably over-complicates what I was trying to say in the first place.)

You know, we've all seen scary movies, and maybe it's what is going on when the music happens that makes us scared. If the music were out of the context of the movie, it might not really be scary. When you hear some modern "classical" music, it can sound really strange. Even Stravinsky when you think of the rhythm in Rite of Spring, could be used as "scary" music; you could make it work in a movie, if it were not distractingly familiar. Of course, it was written for a scary sort of ballet, I guess, anyway. But some sort of dissonant symphonies or string quartets would sound scary, but if you're just sitting in a concert hall listening, they just sound strange or itchy or beautiful or whatever. They just sound like music.

I don't know...

02 July 2009

inspired by champagne

Okay, not how you're thinking. But in a way, well, yes.

Steve got a recliner today, partly with some birthday money from his parents, and partly as a present from me for taking his PE test, and partly because we finally found one that has a head rest tall enough for him, yet is not a huge, billowy, awful, suicide-inducing sight, like most recliners. And to kick off the holiday weekend we went to get some champagne. When we came back to the house, Steve was happy to see that our Kince had not claimed his new chair. No, the Kince still sleeps in the ten-dollar yellow chair from Castaways. I love that chair. And that store.

Speaking of Castaways, I am drinking out of a classic (think black-and-white movie) hollow-stemmed champagne saucer that I bought last time I was there, for thirty-five cents. Kind of like this:



I have no idea whose it was, unlike the vintage suitcases I bought there once, which, from the luggage tags, I found out had belonged to Lahoma Roaten, the mother of one of my dad's childhood friends. Castaways is full of small-town history like that.

Anyway, back to what I really meant to write about. Champagne, the very fact of it, the nature of it, the perfectness of it, inspires the way I see life. I don't even drink it that often, and I'm not saying my life inspiration is alcohol; it's not the alcohol in it (as I type that I can hear my friend Will saying, "That's what they all say.") but really, it's the, I don't know, the effervescent luxury of it, the idea of it, the happiness of it. It's always the drink of celebrations. Life is a luxury and a celebration, when you think about it. A sumptuous affair of moons and stars and music and sunsets and springs and winters, and glowy green grasses and roses with soft petals that feel good against your face. And champagne.

Champagne is one of the many things that makes me know that life is beautiful. Not because I use it as an escape or something, just a treat that is glamorous and lovely. It just sparkles in an un-everyday sort of way, like a chandelier, or a star, or a diamond ring, or a drop of water on a spider web.

17 June 2009

the man sitting beside me on the couch with a beer and the remote...

He is my husband.

He just turned 34.

He has a perfect nose.

He likes to teach me things, especially about cooking and leading an organized, peaceable life.

He always takes me seriously. When I have strange and irrational feelings, instead of just "being a guy" about it and waiting for me to get over it, he tries to understand.

He quietly listens to me, and never interrupts.

He tells me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear.

He loves just to see my facial expressions, when I am surprised or laughing or concentrating.

He has the best blue eyes ever.

He is wise.

He thinks I am really, really beautiful.

He is patient with all of my craziness. By patient, I mean that he never interrupts, yells, or says anything mean, or starts a fight. (That's all my department.)

He always wants to help me, even when I'm mean.

He is willing to do things with me that only I want to do, like watch 9 hours of Lord of the Rings, or listen to Beatrix Potter stories read out loud, by me. He really likes to hear me read stories, actually, but he isn't always in the mood, so then if he listens to a story, I know he is being really unselfish.

He thinks the story of the Lord of the Rings is nothing more than a really long walk. This is his one glaring flaw.

He loves to bring me surprises, presents and flowers.

He is quiet, which teaches me to listen better.

He really, really wants our marriage to be good.

He is happy and sweet.

He is really strong.

He knows a lot of things that I don't.

He is very smart.

He loves me very, very much.

This is what I am thinking about today. Also, I have a quiche in the oven and two lovely loaves of bread that just came out. Actually, Steve just ate one. :)

(Since he is sitting beside me, I am forced to correct the above and say that he did not eat the whole loaf. I ate two pieces.)

Just after I married him, I got to introduce him to one of my former professors, who had taken my class to study music history in Germany, and also, as it turns out, used to do marriage counseling. She said to Steve, "Marriage is hard, isn't it? You could be Cary Grant and God himself, and it would still be hard!" Funny that she said that, because that sort of sums out how I think of Steve.

14 June 2009

Is this really necessary?

Apparently, I have a less-than-normal understanding of personal space. Well, I suppose I can acknowledge the need for it in one or two ways:

Strangers, of course. It doesn't do to get to close to them, I guess. Piano students, too, especially if they're an astonishingly rude 4th grader who can barely read and talks like Rush Limbaugh's impression of John McCain, and his equally annoying, conceited and unable-to-listen father. (the 4th grader's father, not John McCain's.)

But I really don't understand it in families. How can you need personal space from your siblings, or your husband, or your wife? I know about needing space--time to be alone, time to think, time to cool off, time to do projects. But that is space for a reason. Personal space seems to be this on-going barrier that one is loath to break at any time. Space is just for a while, for a good reason, while personal space seems a permanent part of the person, a part that other people aren't allowed to approach.

I don't approve of permanent, personal space between people who are supposed to be close. It seems unnatural. Of course, take your space, but does it have to be there all the time?

12 June 2009

controlled by sweaters (for 2 years)

Some days I just feel fat and itchy and gross and old. I think it's allergies.

On the bright side, I have recently begun typing while looking at the screen instead of the keyboard! This is a huge step, and I didn't even try, it just happened one day!

Actually, today was one of my best days this whole summer. Yesterday was too. I read. I napped. I practiced. I made our bed. I worked out. I cooked dinner. I enjoyed clean floors. Both days I did all that. None of those are things that I usually get to do. Never in a normal semester, and most of the time not even in the summer! And today, Steve bought me the first season of The Road to Avonlea! It was a big surprise! I think this is my first summer where I am actually relaxed and organized enough to enjoy a little time off. I mean, I've had time off before, but either spent it worrying about something, or putting off cleaning my house. Usually both.

A few days ago, I put my sweaters in the attic, and that changed everything. It freed up a shelf in my closet, (which then got to hold all my extra bath stuff, which made my bathroom use-able again, which made the downstairs bathroom not full of my makeup and toothbrush) AND freed up the floor of my other closet, which means my shoes are no longer all over the house, which means my hanging clothes are accessible, which means the important clothes are no longer on the living room banister waiting to be worn. I now have a living room that does not look like a closet, which makes it much easier to clean up the pet hair every other hour when it gets bad. (Okay, not really, but almost.) And since all that is done now, I have time to practice, read, and nap, like a normal person who doesn't have kids yet.

One shelf, one box of coats and sweaters in the attic, and my entire life has changed. It's wonderful. And my cherry tomato plant has three bunches of little green tomatoes on it now.

Anyway, I am perfectly content, but still rather itchy and bloated and old-looking today. I need to go take an allergy pill, and perhaps a glass of wine.

06 June 2009

A Poem for Saturday

The Good Little Girl
by A. A. Milne

It's funny how often they say to me, "Jane?
"Have you been a good girl?"
"Have you been a good girl?"
And when they have said it, they say it again,
"Have you been a good girl?"
"Have you been a good girl?"

I go to a party, I go out to tea,
I go to an aunt for a week at the sea,
I come back from school or from playing a game,
Wherever I come from, it's always the same:
"Well?
"Have you been a good girl, Jane?"

It's always the end of the loveliest day:
"Have you been a good girl?"
"Have you been a good girl?"
I went to the Zoo and they waited to say:
"Have you been a good girl?"
"Have you been a good girl?"

Well, what did they think that I went there to do?
And why should I want to be bad at the Zoo?
And should I be likely to say if I had?
So that's why it's funny of Mummy and Dad,
This asking and asking, in case I was bad,
"Well?
"Have you been a good girl, Jane?"

04 June 2009

bigger than history

I always think I am over it, but sometimes I worry. A lot. I worry as if I can do anything about anything. I worry as if our God did not exist. Elisabeth Elliot once wrote a list, for a devotional I think, entitled "How to Make Yourself Miserable" and this was near the top:

"Worry every day about something. Don't let yourself get out of practice. It may not add a cubit to your stature but it might burn a few calories."

Our trip to Paris made me stop thinking about my usual old thoughts, and voila, I have started having new ones! But one thought that has been allowed to soak in is that worrying is wrong, not only because it is unkind to the people one lives with, and makes you complain-y and all that, it is also a huge insult to God, our God, who loved us and gave Himself for us.

"There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides You; there is no Rock like our God. Do not keep talking so proudly, or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by Him deeds are weighed."

~1 Samuel 2: 2 & 3

"Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge, or showed Him the path of understanding? Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust...He brings princes to naught, and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. "

~Isaiah 40:14, 15 & 23

01 June 2009

Passion is my "thorn in the flesh."

Sometimes I think that, anyway. I have all these subjects and opinions I am passionate about, not the least of which are about theology and politics. Sometimes those two seem to go hand in hand. I am not sure if that is right, but then when I think that my theology should and does affect all of my opinions, then it must be right that it also influences my political leanings. But one has to be careful that it does not go the other way around.

I was asking my husband why I have to know all this, and think all this. Why do I think it logical that the earth is far too large for us to have an effect on it's climate, good or bad? (I feel so alone in that thought, but I know there are just as many scientists who agree with it as those who disagree--maybe more.) Why do I care so much about our Christian heritage as Americans? Why do I so badly want our laws to reflect it? Why do I find it shocking that Christians I know could have voted for such an advocate of infanticide as now sits in the Oval Office. WHY DO I CARE? I hate knowing things.

Sometimes I wish I didn't. My husband says, "Then don't." We talked about how, what if you just voted Republican every chance you got and didn't know the issues, and hence, care? I don't know. For one thing, I don't really care about "republican" or anything else. I wish you could just vote "Christian" and leave it at that. Not that all Christians have the same political views, but it does seem like we are all heading in one direction eventually, and that is Christ-likeness. Won't we all eventually have the same opinions, in the end, when we are like Christ, and all perfected? But then they won't be opinions anymore. Then we will just know.

Opinions. I keep typing that word, and sometimes I mess up and type "onions." Here is a cheesy analogy, but there is sort of a connection there. Opinions are sort of like onions. They come in layers. They're usually strong, it seems, and not necessarily what you would choose to smell, or hear. Sometimes they make other people turn away, go away, or cry. Weird.

But I hate having opinions because I am so tired of the passion that accompanies them. That is why my husband told me to take a break from knowing, or at least listening. I am not sure I can. The passion, I know, takes away energy from me. Sometimes it takes the energy that I would usually use to enjoy life. Part of this is because, somewhere deep down, I must secretly believe that I can control peoples' reactions about my opinions, or change their minds, or make my opinions theirs. Sometimes. But that is not ultimately what I want. But it must be a part of it, sometimes.

So, I have finally acknowledged that I have the opinions, I have the passions, and that since the Lord is in charge of my life, I must have them for a reason. I have felt convicted lately to pray more about everything, and I had never thought really to pray about this. I mean, of course I pray about the causes, and the people they involve, and all that, but I have never simply prayed about my exhausting opinions. But I need the Lord to tell me what is to be done with them. I have tried on my own to harness and use them, and it never goes too well. Things in human hands rarely turn out right, in the grand scheme of things. So I do not want this in my hands alone.

It is not so important, my passion for these things, when compared to the fact that people every day are dying without Christ as their Savior. I have a passion for them too, and maybe that is more where my focus should be. It has definitely taken center stage lately. Anyway, if I have to be this person, the one inside me with no shortage of passionate opinions, I want the Lord to have control. Just one more time, I am remembering that I am not God.

27 May 2009

the quiet carries over

We are back, and it was wonderful. No talking on the phone, no endlessly e-mailing students, no teaching, and Steve and I actually got to talk!!!

My thoughts are foggy, but quiet. We had a very good time, but I have not yet immersed myself back into what was my normal routine, and I am not sure I will. I have not listened to the news at all yet, or Rush Limbaugh, or the few radio preachers I like. I have not really seen facebook or my e-mail very much either, or watched TV or talked on the phone. I feel that I quit all those things, those parts of home, to go on this trip, and now that the trip is over, and these things have not started up again, I am left in the quiet. I like it. I don't want to break the silence.

I would love to catch up with friends one by one, and I will definitely blog about our trip, but for now, I am just in the quiet. Well, and leaving town again. Since returning, we have already been to Houston for a crawfish boil, and now it's off to Rockport, Corpus and Austin in the morning. Our family and friends have a few big things going on that we want to be there for. :)

But I think my life will be overall quieter from here on. It makes me appreciate music again, and pay attention to what I see, like my beautiful herbs on the balcony.

14 May 2009

leaving Dallas for a while

We are leaving for London and Paris tomorrow. Even though I am super excited, the exhaustion still continues, but is not as bad since I remembered that God is God. I talked to my mom and sister about it, and they both said that they have thought I was over-exhausted for some years now, but that I always said, "Oh, it's just because I'm in college!" Or "It's because I'm stressed." Or "It's because I just got married and we never have down time."

It turns out I might need more than down time, even though some of that would be nice! Mom and Kristin both told me separately that they think I need to go to a doctor about this tiredness. Being tired beyond your years is I guess not natural. Steve says I need to read books about boundaries and saying no and not stressing. I really thought I was a normal, not stressed person, but maybe not. I thought my job of teaching piano just took more energy than other peoples' jobs, and that's how I justify being tireder than everyone else. Sometimes though, I just think this town is sucking the life out of me.

Anyway, boring...but I just had to blog about it because, since other people think that I need to go to the doctor, it is a relief to think that maybe I am not a lazy hypochondriac after all. It turns out that if I want to stay at home for three months and not see anyone, maybe that's alright. I think I will do that after we get back.

But I am SO excited to leave for Europe tomorrow! I mean, I will be. This post seems like a strange mix of complaining and trying to get excited. My intellect knows that this is exciting, but the rest of me is just tired. I am sure I will feel differently when we actually are going. :)

07 May 2009

Paying the Interest

I feel so exhausted, like a horse who is never allowed to stop and rest. Today I asked the Lord for an answer to all that is worrying me: stressful goings-on in our national politics, stressful disagreements with friends, a long list of people whom I should call (don't ask why that should freak me out, it just does!), how I will get my house clean and prepare to travel out of the country next week, while I lie in bed exhausted almost all day every day until it is time to get ready for work. I rest, but the extreme weariness does not go away. I feel every day as if I were just getting over the flu, and even the smallest chore exhausts me to the point of being almost bedridden, and yet I don't sleep much.

I think it is coming from my heart, my soul. I know more people with cancer and tragedy in their lives than I ever have. Most of them are Christians, and handling it well. I know we are not called to carry everyone's burden's really, but to share them. You can't take away what the Lord has given someone to bear, but you can help. Praying is helping, even though it sometimes seems so futile. I see so much suffering all around. Parts of my family have even been touched, by the heart-wrenching sorts of things that make you just say, "Why?" There's no good reason I can see for someone who did nothing to deserve it to be smitten with some painful, inexplicable illness, or death.

So I pray for miracles for my friends who are gravely ill, I pray for strength for the ones who live in constant and insatiable physical pain, and comfort for the ones who have lost someone, even though it seems to me that there must be no comfort possible, even from God, though He is the God of all comfort. I try to be active in standing up for what I believe the Bible says, in every aspect of everything I am and do, even in the face of a bunch of hate from our culture, who hates God's word because they do not know Him. I weep and plead with the Lord for my friends who are not saved: my friend Emily, who has brain cancer, my old piano teacher in Corpus, who is very, very old and does not seem to know the Lord's salvation yet. I pray strongly for him and his entire family, and it seems like still nothing happens. Then I get discouraged. But there are others, too, who I know and who need to be saved, and I keep on because I do not know what the Lord might be doing. Well, sometimes I actually stop, but I always start up again.

All of these things have fallen heavily on my heart, and at the same time, I have been forced to articulate things I have never articulated before. I suppose this is called growing. But I am so tired from it. Partly, I feel that this town sucks the life out of me (if you hear me say "Dallas sucks," that's what I mean), and partly, I spend some amount of energy hating Dallas (not good for my health, I know), and another large amount loving my life here in my little condo with Steve and our animals, and an even larger amount trying to sort through all that is happening with and to everyone I know and love. I feel that the stress of knowing all these things is draining my energy before I can produce or obtain any more.

So, here I am in bed again today, but I do not rest. My thoughts don't rest, and that's why I think it is taking so many days in bed for me to recover from what looks to other people like a few mildly stressful months, maybe. Even talking exhausts me, which is different from usual. There is something about my voice coming out of my body that just seems too tiring for words! (no pun intended.) So, today as I read the Psalms, I said, "Lord, please tell me!" Of course the Lord knows something I don't. That's the point to a lot of it, but I wanted an answer that would make my thoughts be quiet and rest. My mind is so tired. My heart is so tired. My world is so chaotic and fallen and full of lies.

And I turned to my next Psalm in my order of the day, number 97, and it answered me with: "The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the coastlands" (I love how the caostlands get specifically mentioned--I wonder why though) "be glad!" That's it? Be glad? But it is a relief. My churning thoughts are grinding slowly to a halt for the first time in weeks, because He reigns. I am not in charge of it all. I confess I wanted a more complex explanation, but this seems to have been the one I needed.

Speaking of worrying about politics, my sister sent me a bunch of great quotes from the founding fathers of our country, and I wanted to ram a few of them, not least this one, down a few high-up throats:

"...if we desire peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are ready at all times for War." ~George Washington

But the one that really stuck out to me was this, and think it is straight out of a mind that tried to think Biblical thoughts:

"Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble."
~George Washington

My husband tells me this in various ways over and over. I do not consider all of my spiritual battles as borrowed trouble, or the real trouble that my friends are in as borrowed trouble, but it is borrowing trouble when I worry that the Lord does not have it all under His control, and that perhaps I must take it into mine.

04 May 2009

Healing in the Ruling

A friend asks me, "Who are we to look at someone who is deeply hurting and tell them that they're wrong?" I think it is the wrong question, because of course, we are nobody. God is the one who does that. If He chooses to do it through a Christian, that is His business.

But does that mean that we should not defend what the Bible says? However distasteful it is to our present culture, God's Word is still His Word, in every arena of our little cosmos. This friend says that "Our weapons are not against flesh and blood" so maybe we shouldn't have a military. She will apply that to our government, but when it comes to verses about gay marriage, she'd rather not apply it to politics, which I think is a little inconsistent. There may be a strong case out there for Christian pacifism, even though I don't agree, but there's not really a case for gay marriage being okay. Not from the Bible anyway. If I could find one, and tell all those hurting, confused people to go ahead and make themselves happy, I would. I would love to. But as a Christian, I can't.

And who are Christians? We are people who were hurting, broken and confused before we found God's mercy and His plan. We would still be hurting and broken, if it weren't for Jesus. Sometimes, we're pretty darn messed up but, as another friend of mine often says, perfection is not required of us. What is required is repentance, and faith. To trust and obey. And we aren't allowed to make the rules.

How can someone want to tell people about Jesus, but not want to tell them that they need Him, or why they need Him? The telling of why is the looking-into-their-hurting-eyes-and-telling-them-they're-wrong part. We don't always do just that, but if the Lord is working in someone's heart, they eventually come to that conclusion. Our need for Jesus is not because of our pain, confusion, or messed up lives. Our need lies in the fact that we are sinful and God is holy.

God has mercy: His mercy wakes us up to the fact that we need Him. His mercy makes us able to repent. His mercy forgives us. His mercy made a way for us to be counted righteous by faith in the One who was sacrificed for us. His mercy heals us. The people who were healed physically and/or spiritually in the Bible had to have the faith to ask Jesus to heal them, and to realize that they needed Him first.

It is the same with us. The message of salvation is not, "Come and be healed," it is "Come and be ruled." But healing is a part of it. There's healing in the ruling. There is healing only when one repents and submits to Gods design.

24 April 2009

driving across Texas and random things

Texas is great. Where else can you just randomly drive past tons and tons of places that look like this? I saw all sorts of places like these in the last week.


Everywhere on the way back to Dallas on I45 looks like this these days:


Sometimes there are bluebonnets, a few or a whole lake, but always the greenness, the lovely trees, the fence, the sky, everywhere. Usually with other wildflowers, too.

A few hours ago, my husband finished taking an 8-hour engineering test! We are both so glad it's over, his studying took up almost as much time as a part-time job for the last 5 months. I made brownies for him tonight and ate a lot of the batter just now. We are going to Copeland's tomorrow to celebrate, and I am going to drink tons of Mardi Gras punch and eat lots of shrimp and pasta.

Yesterday, my brother's car broke down for good, (which he'd been expecting since Novemeber) in the middle of Texas, and he had to sell it to a junk yard in the middle of nowhere. It "threw a rod" or some such thing. My brother had to wait for 6 hours at McDonald's in a town called Gun Barrel City, until I could get there to pick him up. Even though he had a ton of books with him, and a sketch book, it was still a long day. My drive from Dallas to Gun Barrel City (never heard of it) was so beautiful, and I saw so many lush seas of bluebonnets, this is exactly what the road looked like:


Well, it was four lanes, but that was the only difference. And around dusk, I saw a field with no bluebonnets, but it had really, really big puddles in it, and lovely trees, so that looked like the Wood Between the Worlds!

Then I picked up my brother from McDonald's, with his two huge tupperware containers of books and other things that had been in his car. It was dark by then, and as we drove we just talked and listened to music, and it made me really happy to hang out with him. We went to spend the night with one of my best friends, whose birthday it was, and I got to give her some things that I had meant to mail to her. We saw her last weekend when we went down to meet Libby, but this was kind of a surprise visit. Surprising to all of us, and it means that I have driven some 25 hours or so since last Saturday! But driving is worth it, to see the people and the countryside.

This morning I took Stephen the rest of the way to College Station and came back to Dallas, just in time for work. We drove through the most wonderful fields, with magical-seeming trees and wildflowers and grasses. Those fields feed my soul somehow. It was so good to be out of Dallas. I don't really think Dallas deserves to be part of Texas for many reasons, but not least of them is that it does not even have the awesome normal grocery stores that the rest of the state enjoys. Well, neither does Ft. Worth, but it's at least better in all other ways.

I LOVE all the countryside in Texas, but north of Houston is one of the prettiest places in the spring and summer. It is a shady, glowy green, like I imagine Ireland must be, with flowers and wild-looking trees and old fences. I wish I could have taken pictures of my drive on TX30 from Huntsville to College Station this morning. I tried to find some kind of like it online, but nothing would really equal the trees. Here's what the glowy green was like, though. Even though I saw greener, this was the only picture that reminded me of it enough:

I think it's the trees and the green that gets me, more than the bluebonnets, even. And when there's an old house or barn or truck in the field, I love that too. This is what I miss when I am stuck in this town. I cannot wait to live out there someday and have a great big garden.

15 April 2009

Tea

For the last few months I have felt sort of helpless, sitting at home and watching our new president stomp all over the U.S. Constitution in ways I never could have imagined. The only thing more stunning than his obvious contempt for the document is the fact that it seems not to bother the people who voted for him. I cannot think they all wanted this. Probably many of them are just good people, who thought they voted for a good guy. I guess. Or maybe they are so far removed from remembering and respecting our history in the world, that they see the our Constitution in the same light he does.

I am passionately upset about him and all that he does, and how the mainstream media worships his every move, just as they twisted Bush's. I am angry about what he is doing to our national sovereignty when he goes overseas, and how he seems to think spending and spending money that isn't there is going to help us. I don't see why people seem to think it will help. Would anyone treat their own household or business finances the way he is treating our national finances? Why would something work on one level when it has already been proven not to work on many other levels? (And, I might add, on the national level in many other nations!)

But what really gets me (aside from his lack of respect for the lives of unborn children)is the striking disregard he shows for everything our nation has been built on. I am so mad I cannot even spell. I am literally retyping every other word! That could also be because I drank far too much coffee this morning, but still. If you cannot see what he is doing, I seriously question your logical-thinking abilities and your education about American history and government, two of the admittedly few subjects in high school (and since then) that I actually studied (and study) with a passion. But if you feel you need proof of the current administration's disregard for these things, I feel that I would enjoy providing it. And it would probably be good for me to articulate the things I am seeing. That will be another post then.

Anyhow, a particular friend, to whom I vent a lot, frequently informs me that she is not a congressman, and that I should be venting to them. I should get involved. Channel my passion. Write to my congressman. I know. And I do sign petitions by the wonderful ACLJ organization as often as possible. But I admit that I have not really done normal political activist things like writing to my representative and so forth. I should, especially since I love to complain about these things.

But those things seem so futile. I feel like one lost, lonely voice that will never be noticed. However, tonight, I am going to a tea party. In Dallas at the City Hall. I am so excited to be together with other people who do not want their children and children's children to be born dependent on the government because of the very debt that the same government has caused them! (Really, folks, who thinks that is going to be helpful? It utterly baffles me.)

I'm happy. I'm passionately happy. Just to be involved in some tiny way. Being involved makes me happy. But being stood up for by my governor makes me happier. And gives me hope. Especially in light of the completely demoralizing fact that it's my president who has to be stood up against.



I know that this gathering will not change anything immediately, and that business as usual will continue in the Obama administration, but it feels good to finally be involved. Tea party, here I come! I'll let you know how it goes.

11 April 2009

thoughts on an imperfect Easter

Easter weekend. Thinking about reading my Bible, which I left in the car and some point this week and have not brought into the house yet. Avoiding getting too close to Steve's face because he has had a fever since Wednesday night. He might be getting better today though. (I was trying to type "getting better" and I typed "gettering" instead. Getting + better = gettering!) Anyway, I miss getting close to his face. I am sure that if he did not feel so bad, he would enjoy the break, because I touch his face a little too often for him, but he has learned to bear it well. He comes from a family where they have this strange thing called "personal space." I'm not sure I entirely understand it.

We were going to have our own little Good Friday service last night, but for some reason we never got around to it. I feel that Easter weekend is a time to reflect. On the cross, on His mercy, on how to tell people about it. Not that I don't reflect on that every single day, at least a little bit. Gratefully, incredulously, happily. At some point, every day, I am over-awed by the mercy of God sending Jesus. But I have a notion that on Good Friday, Easter, and the Saturday in between, my reflecting should be specific. On purpose. And I feel that to sit and reflect purposefully, I have to have the whole house all clean, and nothing distracting me, except maybe a cup of tea, and I can't be in my pajamas. I can't be sitting on the couch, on a bed of sheets and blankets with my Eeyore and my pillow, eating muffins while the coffee table is covered with glasses and cups of tea and sprite from yesterday.

The Lord doesn't mind all that, I think, but since I do, I'd like to get up and do something about it. Instead, I rest, lazily on the couch, since I have a headache, and I fear (from much past experience) that, because I am tired and there is sickness around, any extra exertion, be it working out or just cleaning the kitchen, will land me in bed with a fever and antibiotics for the better part of two weeks. Not cleaning up, just wishing to. Not making my yummy menus, just thinking about them. Not reflecting on the cross, just thinking about reflecting.

I've slowly come to a realization–one not just for today, but any day when I let perfection (or the absence of it) dictate what I do–that the Lord puts us in our physical circumstances, on purpose, so we can learn, but I don't learn, I just use circumstance as an excuse sometimes. Now I think of Corrie ten Boom, in a gross, disgusting, really sad concentration camp, infinitely worse than my cozy, messy house, and how she could have thought, "Worship? Read the Bible? Not here, this isn't the place, this isn't the time." That sounds really silly, but when I think about it, that's what I do all the time.

Now, not to advocate leaving one's house or self an awful mess and only considering spiritual matters, because God gave us the physical world as well, and bodies and houses are important, and always will be. But He is more important, and those things only matter because of Him.

07 April 2009

I have to get this off my chest!

I realize that facebook, texting, e-mailing and other forms of modern communication take their toll on grammar and spelling. I even find it understandable (though not excusable) when people get their "there"s, "their"s, and "they're"s mixed up. But there is one thing that has been driving me too crazy for too, too long now:

WHY am I the only one who seems to know how to spell the word "yay"? I mean, some people spell it that way one day, and like this "yeah" the next, or even this, "yea." And I am completely flummoxed by that. (I once got that word, 'flummoxed' in this word-of-the-day e-mail thing from dictionary.com. (I know. How dorky.) I had always used it, when the situation called for it, but had no idea that it was in the dictionary. And in the etymology section, which you know, usually contains a lot of old latin or french, the e-mail said simply,

"The origin of 'flummoxed' is unknown."

I am still laughing, just at that sentence, the sound of it alone, even if it didn't convey such odd information.)

Anyway, I feel that I have a complete understanding of the differences between "yay", "yeah" and "yea" (although not how to separate them with commas, apparently) but nobody else seems to get it. Not even my well-read little sister, who had read all great literature including The Iliad and The Odyssey by the time she was ten years old. I mean, sorry, I get beautifully spelled letters, cards, postcards and e-mails from a lot of you, I probably just see facebook too often. Here is what people do.

They say something that sounds exciting, like, "I made a chocolate cake today!" or "You're coming to town tomorrow!!! :) " and then, they say some sort of "yay" word, as in, yippee, yeehaw, or goody-goody-gumdrops. But they spell it in one of three ways. There is "yay" which is not the most common, but which for some reason I deem correct. The only correct one. Then, there's "yeah" which I am pretty sure is simply a casual slang for the word "yes" and nothing else, and pronounced very differently from "yay." Then, there's "yea" which I've only seen in the King James Bible and probably Shakespeare, (well, AND on everyone's careless and grammar-less facebook profiles.) "Yea" is pronounced the same as "yay" but means something different. Sort of "yes" but sometimes it's used differently. Like "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." And seeing it used to express happiness and excitement just makes me, well, annoyed, but there's also a sort of ironicness to it. ("yah" is another common variation, but I think it's way too dumb to address. How could anyone think that the vowel sound is long when there's an 'h' on the end instead of a 'y'? Yah! Doesn't that mean giddy-up?)

I am not using the international phonetic alphabet to correct any of this because I don't really know how to make some of it on my keyboard. But what person, who can't spell the word "yay" properly, could read IPA anyway? (So just in case they're reading, it wouldn't even help correct them anyhow.) "Yay" may or may not be in the dictionary as a real word. I don't know. Maybe it is. I have not looked any of this up anywhere, it is just what I think every single time I see the word "yay" misspelled. And for all I know, "yeah" and "yea" may be acceptable alterate spellings of the word, but I think they're totally different words and it annoys me to death that nobody seems to know that.

They probably do, they just don't care. I'm sure that's it. I hope. I so cannot believe that so many people would be so devoid of the knowledge of a few simple words in their own native vocabulary. I wonder why I care. I wonder why I think this through every single time I see one of those other words when I know someone means "yay." What is so hard about spelling "yay" anyway? It's spelled phonetically, for crying out loud!

So, to sum it all up:
Yeah = slang for yes
Yea = yes, if you're the Bible or Shakespeare
and
Yay = Yippeeeeee!!!

Got it?

I'm sure I make tons of grammatical mistakes; too many elipses, (elipsises?) not a strong grasp of hyphens and all that, (hyphens-and-all-that? just kidding) too many of these :) and difficulty being quite correct when quotations and puntuation have to be used after the same word, but, I don't know...

At least I actually know what I'm saying when I write or type "yeah" or "yea."

If you think this post is mean, go learn some grammar. But you can do it happily, like, while you're eating cookies or something! That's what I would do. :)

06 April 2009

desperation

I have a rather brilliant piano student in about 6th grade or so. I once played the piano at her grandfather's birthday party, and it seems that over the years, I have met her whole family, grandparents, mother, father, sister, aunt, etc., many times. More than one usually meets one's students' families.

This child has an Aunt, Emily, who has also taken lessons from me in the past. Off and on, since adults are usually so busy. Emily used to have brain cancer years ago. It recently came back. She has tried everything, many times, and there does not seem to be too much hope left for a cure. Her doctor says that when her current treatment ceases to be effective, she will have a year, more or less.

This lovely, kind, normal family seemingly has no idea of God. Maybe they believe he's around somewhere, I'm not sure, but in the e-mail updates from Emily's mother, there seems to be nothing but a grasping at whatever medical hope still remains, and an acknowledgment that they are all sad and depressed and dreading the end, but doing all they can to keep happy and enjoy life now.

These e-mails have put to rest the doubts that I had about assuming that they have no idea that God is there, in charge, and that He cares. If they had any hope in the Lord, it would have come through. So I am left to suddenly, shakily, whether I want to or not, realize that there is a reason that I know them. An inescapable reason. The same reason I know anybody who doesn't know Jesus. There really are no accidental meetings. I pray for all my students, that they will know the Lord someday. I tell them if I can who He is and what He has done for me. I pray for Emily, for her healing, of course, but what would a few more years on earth be if eternity were not addressed? Mostly I pray that the Lord would prepare her heart for whatever He might say to her, through me, or any other Christian who might be a part of her life.

I am a little nervous to know that I absolutely have to go and tell Emily the Truth, but I am so glad that I can. I am so glad that I know Him, that He died for us and covers us with His righteousness, and that He will be there when we die, just as He is here now. I cannot think of the words I'll say, or how one brings up the afterlife to a person who is most likely dying and trying not to think about it. But the Lord will give me words when the time comes, I know. It's a desperate situation. I am not especially close to Emily. I was her piano teacher for a couple of years. I have never had a life-threatening illness, so who am I to speak to her about it? I don't know about all the pieces to the puzzle of this girl's life. But I have the one that matters, and I know that sometime soon, I have to tell her.

I think about visiting her, and hate the thought of bringing up the topic of death, but it's really about LIFE. Eternal life, eternal beautiful trees, eternal worship, eternal music and singing. Perhaps not eternal sunsets, I suppose, since there will be neither sun nor moon there, (Revelation 21?) but I'm sure the sky will be lovely colors anyway. I want her to know what I know. Who I know. I have never lived a day in which I thought that death would be the end. I cannot imagine how sad I would be if I thought that, every time I enjoy or love something or someone, to think it will all be over one day! I have never seen a sunset or heard a symphony, or taken a breath with the sadness that must come with not knowing that you will spend eternity alive, and with the source of beauty, and music, and truth, and life. Life. This is not about death at all.

But if you think of it, pray. That Emily will have an open heart and be able to hear the Word of God. That I will be bold, and that the Lord will give me the words to say. I know He will, because He knows that I am absolutely counting on Him for that part, because every time I go through what I might say in my head, I cannot even bring it up properly or coherently. Pray against the enemy, who hates this. And pray that the Lord will open her eyes. I pray these things so desperately. I don't know why, since He knows what I will ask before I ask it, but I do.

04 April 2009

But if I didn't take these breaks...

...from posting, I would have tons of posts that look like this:

TIRED!! I have spent the last 3 weeks feeling very very sleepy all day and all night, and I have been very miserable, but had to pretend I wasn't, which was probably good for my character.

or this:

Why is everyone dumb?

or this:

I HATE this town!! I hate this wretched, wretched town!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why would anyone live here on purpose?

or this:

How does one stop hanging out with people with whom one has entirely nothing in common anymore, yet the people don't realize it. Only you do. You go, and hang out, and try to talk, but they don't understand anything in your life anymore, and you just try not to offend them with your tiredness or your difference from them, but they insist on being offended anyway. I guess that's how you stop hanging out. (for further and more articulate and comforting explanation, see here.)

or this:

Today I cleaned the house and went to work and came home and sat on the couch and felt lonely and sorry for myself, because Steve was studying, and I see him once a week, it seems like.

But I should explain that last one. He really has been studying a lot, but 1) I am grateful that he's going get this certification thingy, because it will be good for our future. 2) He is so diligent, I know he will pass. 3) He cares so much about me and our marriage that he does special things for me, like brings me flowers and things, to make up for not getting to see me very much, even though he's tired and busy. And that (his caring so much) is something that I can never be thankful enough for, and that I just don't deserve at all!

So it's alright. Everything will be okay, but I just don't post sometimes, because I am tired, and tired of the world, and I think everyone is dumb, and mean, and I hate everything, and almost everybody, and especially my students. And if I told you all that, you might be rather offended. Because I say it rather cuttingly when I am in those moods.