30 September 2015

Incorporating Autumn

Fall, leaves, fall: die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day,
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night's decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

- Emily Brontë

I am dressing with more colours for autumn and trying to pretend it is not 90 degrees outside. I long for autumn, cool air, pumpkin friendly environments, boots, jackets, and leaves falling. I long for it and think about it more than the average person. It seems so far off - like a dream. My senses are awakened to the possibility, keen and aware, yet lacking in the realistic nature of the desired season coming soon.

I hold onto a hope that we will soon get a sense of autumn. A clearing of the air. The chilled breeze lofting. The crunch of leaves that have fallen to the ground. The scent of cinnamon and herbs.
But not yet.
Perhaps if I am patient.

Autumn is golden tones - yellows, oranges, reds. To be incorporated in all aspects of the day. From apples to snack on, and utensils to write with (thanks C & C!). But autumn isn't here, yet. We just have to hold onto the hope that it will soon arrive. And it will.

28 September 2015

The Most Concrete Thing We Know

I reach down deep to extract some thoughts as my mind wakes on this warm morning. The quiet is intruding. My coffee is steaming. Books stacked on my table long to be read, as I long to read them. Yet, most of the time I am studious instead. I long for the day these exams are done and I can really enjoy my free time. Now, I feel like free time is not free, but I know I must complete that which is set before me.

This morning I am retreating from errands and the outside world. I know I need to step back and rest in some calm. To simply be still. To reflect and meditate in God's Word and presence. Here, this morning, I open myself to be recharged and reminded of the power of God's love, through prayerful musings. A quieted heart.

Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.

The Voice was and is God.

This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator;
His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating,
all things that exist were birthed in Him.
His breath filled all things
with a living, breathing light -
A light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
blazes through the murky bottoms.

It cannot and will not be quenched.

- John 1. 1-5

These days are littered with darkness. Our news is filled with despair and woe. It sweeps over all of us. It is too much to grasp. It cripples those who depend on this world for their happiness. If we set our eyes on this present world, which is fallen and hurting, we shall never be satisfied and we will grow desperate to see goodness, but still be blind to seeing the goodness.

However, if we set our sight on that which is eternal, we will see the glorious realm that is to come, as tiny glimpses. That is all we can handle thus far. We will know that this world is the temporary struggle we are dwelling in at present. While we are here, we will see beautiful signposts that point to our Creator. The trouble of the world is our concern too, which is why the best thing we can do is help encourage those people in despair. To look to the promise we have in eternity, for the beauty and love that then fills the hearts, makes the living here so much more bearable.

We were made for eternity, but we are mortally bound at present. We are unable to fully understand the mysterious nature of God, but that does not mean that He is not omni-present and unbound by time. We can gather snippets of truth from His presence.

He is unspeakable not by being indefinite but by being too definite for the unavoidable vagueness of language.
- C.S. Lewis

To discard the notions in our minds that rationally try to convince us that God isn't present; that He is some sort of transparent thing that can slip through our fingers and never touch us personally is false. Sure, He is so big and also so small at the same time, because He can be. Time and space have no authority over Him, but make no mistake, God is the most concrete thing we can know. We limit ourselves and our imaginations when we place Him into a certain shaped box.
Open our hearts. 

Open our minds. 

25 September 2015

Time and Remembrance


The reason we have the same event or anniversary come around each year is because it is good to remember. To stop and think about something from the past helps us keep close to our roots. It is a reminder to think about something and someone that shaped you.

We have memories for a reason. We are supposed to remember. We are supposed to go through the story again. Why do you think we have calendars that repeat every twelve months, every month that repeats each year, and so on? We are creatures of habit and cycles. This is why we need Christmas each year. This is why we need Easter. That is why we take communion often and have a church liturgy. These reminders help us refocus on what we should be focused on. Sometimes they are reminders of people we are deeply thankful for.

This is the sixth year that this day has held an anniversary of remembrance of my Dad. In the days leading up to this day, I tend to have sudden moments of tears. With nothing much to trigger them. They just come. I realize after grabbing a tissue that I know deep inside that it is because my memory knows of the anniversary of this day. I most difficult day I have endured.

Those who knew my Dad will have stories to tell. They are always good, and they usually make me laugh. The stories don't seem to fade. They frequently tell of his love of the outdoors. Camping. hiking. and trees. We called him Treebeard, but he didn't understand it because he didn't know The Lord of the Rings. But I still fondly think of him as Treebeard because he loved nature.

His love of cars, especially BMWs, could fill a book with stories. He is the one who found my first car, a 1991 BMW, and after I got a newer one 6-7 years later, he drove that old one until his last day on earth. He wanted his family to join him at all the races, shows, and events. Because most important we were, to him. I did not doubt it. His hard work and dedication to taking care of all of us was so clear.

I have his Bible sitting on my desk in my childhood room. It is a Bible I gave to him, and he brought to Sunday school every week. He had a love of learning and was always reading books, magazines, the Bible, and watching history shows. He retained information accurately. He could remember specifics, details, and scenes from twenty years ago, recalling as clearly as if it was from yesterday. He remembered all the details of his lawn maintenance business, rarely ever writing anything down. He dictated to my Mom, who would write it down.

Time is a tricky thing. It is a gift, but we are only given so much. Take each moment with care. Do not take for granted the time we have with those we love. We never know how long we will have them here.

I will sing of the tender mercies of the Lord forever!  Young and old will hear of your faithfulness. Your unfailing love will last forever.  Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.
- Psalm 89. 1-3 

22 September 2015


Sometimes you just need to do some Sundaying.
It doesn't involve anything too complex. Just lovely friends and a delightful place that encourages good conversation and quality time spent in a relaxed mood. Feeling rushed is not allowed. This is where you are to practice the art of simply being still.

Sundaying requires a relaxed mind and openness to laughter. It can be difficult sometimes to let that seemingly lackadaisical manner seep out on a weekend, but it is essential. I, gladly, had some excellent fellow Sundayers with me. These ladies were a critical ingredient to a day of enjoyment.

Letting go of the week and all the obligations can be difficult for me, sometimes. A quick weekend isn't enough time to decompress and really breathe. But it is a start.

So, I am thankful for a day of being playful.
The Oxford Exchange is such a good place for a reprieve.

Now, I am back in the depths of a study book. Maybe I will see you again next weekend!

18 September 2015

Oxford Daydreaming

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.
- C.S. Lewis

I interrupt the regular blog posts to bring you some Oxford daydreaming. Just because. I catch myself daydreaming about Oxford quite often. With all its sweeping scenes of ancient and meaningful that steal my heart.

It's not that I want to be away from here, but I want to be in both places. Do you ever get that feeling? That you want to be home, where you are known and where everything you need is located. But you also want to be where you feel most inspired and adventurous as well. That's me. I crave the familiarity of home, but I want it to be in my favourite place at the same time.

I am sensing a deeper theme here. How is it that I don't feel like I am whole in either place? Could it be that what I desire won't be fully satisfied here in this world? No matter where I am something will seem to be missing.

We won't get the feeling of being completely at home until the end arrives, and New Creation unfolds. Then, at last we will be able to say:

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now...Come further up, come further in!” 
- C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Until then, I will aim at heaven and get the beauty of the earth thrown in, as Lewis wrote. The places of contrast in which I live, and in which I love. There is an abundance of beauty in both.

16 September 2015

Part of the Story

When God made space and worlds that move in space, and clothed our world with air, and gave us such eyes and such imagination as those we have, He knew that the sky would mean to us. And since nothing in His work is accidental, if He knew, He intended.
- C.S. Lewis

What would happen if we were to live each day as if we were in an epic story? A story so grand, it has its own history and books already started. A story that contains each of us as essential characters within the thin pages of the beautiful, large, leather-bound book. Filled with elegant handwriting and stories so beloved, the passages would be detailed and complete, yet it would be unfinished. Pages continue to be added each day, and the story is continuing.

We are in the epic story. The Story. It is not something that only took place in the past, but it is still going on. Do we think of our every day lives as being part of the grand story?

Make no mistake, the story is grand, but that doesn't mean you have to be grand in the sense that our world thinks. You are important just the way you are; you are an essential piece that no one else can be. But do you live each day like it is a new page? Or do you look at the day as mundane and you find yourself counting the days to the weekend,? Days like a pass-through entity?

We are not told to do important things only on the weekend. That seems like nonsense. We are given each day to do important things. Each day we are set with the task of using the gifts God has given to do good works.

Here is your next day. Your next page. How are you going to fill the page?

15 September 2015

Welcome the Rain Drops

In Him all things hold together
It all unfolds from the centre,

from whence it came.

It is a morning starting out like being underwater. The humidity is at the max and it weighs down with a pressure, steep and heavy. The air is so thick it is like breathing under water. Indeed, the sky is the surface and we cannot break out.

A grey cover is above us and my heart is glad. I am thinking about the moment when the sky opens and a rainy day ensures relief from the teasing presence of the clouds. This is a relief, but it doesn't always come so easily. Sometimes we trudge through the day waiting for it to fall.

Sometimes a shadow comes over our lives. A grey cloud that lingers and attempts to drain all cheer from the scene. A grey hue that causes the light to tremble, and second-guess its purpose.

But love remains. Even when the rains pour down and the rushing waters come. Welcome the rain drops with a lovely umbrella.

Love always remains. And cannot be washed away.

"Tut Tut, it looks like rain."
- A.A. Milne

14 September 2015

Viewing the World

But if the vastness of Nature ever threatens to overcrow our spirits, we must remember that it is only Nature spiritualised by human imagination which does so.
 - C.S. Lewis

A paradox to unravel. Or to ravel into.
Our rationality is a window into the supernatural.

The worthiness of our existence is questioned and challenged. People will say that we cannot possibly be important. We are tiny specks in the universe. Why would a god pay any attention to us? Others make up their own views based on their whims. They cannot "buy" into the Christian world view because someone in the past has gotten it wrong and set the standard for them in a bad light. A human-set light. Alas, their mind is set against it and they do not turn their face back towards it. The sad thing is that they are missing the true core of Christianity because of a faulty human who portrayed Christianity in a skewed way.

They make up their minds that we can only depend on ourselves. Would people rather view their own existence as the sad notion that this world is all there is? If that is their belief, it is the saddest view of life, and they are rightly quite depressed.

What I cannot grasp is this. Why would someone decline to believe in the God who offers hope and life eternal with inclusion of a newly made earth where everything is perfected and gloriously made new? Why would they choose the view of deprivation and despair? Do they like to be unhappy in their own unhappiness?

I think a lot of people in our world do not think. If they actually used some time to think, they would have questions, which would lead to learning some truth. To get people to think about God, you first have to get people to think. That is the challenge in all of our days.

10 September 2015

A Place of Refuge

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The library.
I dedicate this post to all the libraries where, by nature, they are a place of refuge from the loud, fast paced world. A library invites you to come in and explore books. To rest among the pages of knowledge and story that surrounds you on shelves. The quiet holds you and the books beckon.

The library is a place where your thoughts have room to wander around a multitude of books, which contains myriads of worlds and ideas.

I have always been fascinated by libraries. When I was a child in elementary school, I loved going to the school library. I remember going as often as I could, and I went alone almost every time (how did I get out of class?) I would go to a few specific shelves that contained my favourite authors. I would be eager to see if there were any new books on the shelf that I hadn't read yet, and if there was, I would pull it off the shelf to check it out right away.

Books held so much possibility to me. They were full of stories, ideas, new words, and imaginative scenes. I did not realize it then, of course, but something I loved was the use of my imagination as I read. The story was written on the pages, but the world became real in my imagination.

This library, above, is the Selby Public Library in downtown Sarasota. I was there this past weekend, and could not resist taking some time to visit a spot I am always eager to enter.

08 September 2015

A Brief Pause

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
- Matthew 11.29

To awaken to the quiet sounds of a holiday weekend. To have an extra day attached to a weekend. It is a great gift. For me, it is something crucial for growth. Time to breathe. It is something I am deeply thankful for. 

I have scarsely had time to breathe lately, and that has challenged me in many ways. I have been stretched more deeply than I have known before. But if we are not stretched and challenged, how will we grow? If everything is easy and charming, what are we learning? That life is a breeze?

We go through the struggle and come out with a hopeful countenance. When I have a brief pause to reflect on this, my soul delights in the fruit of the labour. Then, rest can come. An extra day. A time to rest. And while not everything is restored in one extra day, one can bear the next day a bit more with a sense of calm.

Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.
- Maya Angelou