31 October 2015
This morning I woke up to the most appropriate Halloween situation. Before the sun rose, a glow was coming in on my pillow. Strange, I thought, the back light of my landlord's house doesn't usually shine in here. My gaze went up, through my curtains, and up to the sky, where a full moon was hanging there, like a lamp, right outside my window. The only light it cast was onto my pillow, so it seemed. I awoke to moonlight.
Also, an owl was nearby. He hooted a soft, gentle call for about fifteen minutes as I slowly woke up before dawn, but stayed cosy in my bed. I listened for the owl and imagined him to be sitting nearby on a tree limb, taking in some observations. He would sit on a branch, hidden, as he contemplated a nap after being awake all night. Before the sun rose, he hooted his good morning. He then took off his glasses, tucked his book away, and found a cosy spot to sleep.
I hope your day has some fun Halloween notes. Nothing too ghoulish, but maybe a little spooky.
29 October 2015
I found this reporter notebook in my dad's BMW six years ago. When he passed away I claimed this notebook. He didn't write in it, but I wanted to. I've been using this notebook for any interview articles I have written for my church's magazine. Using this flip notebook makes me feel more like a journalist, and it makes me think of my dad, of course. He was proud of my writing endeavors, and I know he would read all the articles I have written over the last six years. So I am glad to put this little notebook to use.
I haven't written an article in a while, but I was recently asked to write one for an upcoming issue of the magazine, so I dusted off this notebook again, and put pen to page.
I had the opportunity to interview several 3rd graders about their thoughts and feelings upon receiving their first Bible that the church gives them. Let me tell you, that is an entertaining interview session. Ask nine year olds questions about the Bible, and you will receive responses you never expected. You will learn, for example, whose dad is an unbeliever, whose dad killed a rat, who thinks they can read the Bible in a year, who thinks they know most of the stories in the Bible already, and who thinks the Old Testament is all battle scenes. I won't divulge any more. I am going to leave you hanging in suspense. You will have to read the article when it is published.
I have a foggy memory of getting my first Bible in 3rd grade. The presentation during the church service is always a blur. Any time I am in front of people and feel their gazes, it becomes something I barely remember later. I have an old photo of me sitting at the table with the other 3rd graders afterwards, and I am kind of hugging my Bible close to my chest. The love of books, words, and learning has always been there. Knowing that with the Bible, the words contained on the pages held some deep meanings, that require a soaking in them. With great care and attention, the words should be read. These words should be pondered, and their mysteries explored.
Maybe I didn't think of all these things when I was nine, but I knew there was something very special about the words within those thin pages. And I was going to learn much more about them.
26 October 2015
This world is not conclusion;
A sequel stands beyond,
Invisible, as music,
But positive, as sound.
It beckons and it baffles;
philosophies don't know,
and through a riddle, at the last,
Sagacity must go.
to guess it puzzle scholars;
to gain it, men have shown
contempt of generations,
and crucifixion known.
- Emily Dickinson
Books and leaves. Leaves are they both.
One is a coloured beauty from nature, scattered everywhere at this time of year. One is a man-made collection of leaves bound in books that scatter everywhere all the time, hopefully by sharing good books with one another. It connects us to share in such words.
Leaves of a book contained in a volume work together to bring truth and knowledge. Leaves of trees fall off their limbs and provide a blanket on the ground.
The leaves of autumn show off in their vibrant colours and catch your eye. The leaves of books hide, tucked inside the covers until you pursue the mysteries they hold within.
The beauty of autumn is the beauty that can be found in the fallen things.
The beauty of books is the beauty of fallen authors revealing truth and beauty.
God can show us beauty in all things of His creation. There is a touch of Him there. A glimpse of His imagination and we can only dance upon the brink of it, which is enough to get our own imaginations moving into the realms of our heavenly Father. I love John Donne's meditation where he writes about us as being scattered leaves of pages, that are all of one volume, and one day, all the pages will be bound together again.
... all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again, for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.
- Meditation XVII, John Donne
23 October 2015
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;
that ye, being rooted and grounded in love
May be able to comprehend with all saints
what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,
that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.
- Ephesians 3.17-19
The notion of being deeply rooted in God's word is one that stays in my mind. It sinks into my soul, and produces the nourishment I need to keep on the narrow path. It's good to be reminded that in all things, we can be rooted in Christ. No matter if we are cooking soup, walking a trail, helping at church, or typing away at work. In all things, we can be rooted in God's love.
For we will be refreshed and kept strong if we plant our roots by the living water. We shall bear fruit during all seasons, for we will be nourished all the time. Whether we feel like we are in a drought, or if we feel goodness is raining down, all shall be well.
We are not hopeless or lost if we stay deeply rooted. We know where we stand with eyes lifted up to the Holy One, and we don't have to waver like the others who do not choose to believe deeply.
The sun rises brightly. It is cool outside, a blessing in itself, for these autumn days don't contain the true autumn feeling yet. Let's look at this day ahead and think about how we can be rooted in God's love. We do not have to fully understand, but we can still dwell in it.
21 October 2015
There is a blustery wind outside, blowing with extra gusto.
Could it be an autumnal wind?
My imagination roams into dream land when we are on the cusp of the possibility.
Is that a coolness in the breeze I feel? I shan't ignore it, for this is the beginning of the best time to live here. The sense of the tropical slowly ebbs away, like a tide going out to sea.
I breathe deep the fresher air. Sitting outside is pleasant for the first time in more than five months. It is a joy to behold, and only the best months are to come. Each day draws us closer.
Nature rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets.
Prodigal of blue.
- Emily Dickinson
19 October 2015
Sometimes I dream about the wild, untamed landscapes of the UK, of the drives taken around Scotland, watching the transformation of the land rise with sloping hills as we drove north. More rugged became the scene. More dramatic and mountainous. More breathtaking.
I stumbled across a photo I took from the car, as we pulled off the side of the road somewhere south of Glen Coe. You can see me in the rear view mirror taking the photo. The bare, dramatic peaks were in front of me, with a thick layer of cloud resting on the top, enshrouding just the peak completely. The cloud hung there, leaving a surreal feeling that if I raised my arm I could graze the bottom of its puffy greyness.
As I recall, the cloud moved out of the area a minute later, because the weather there literally changes every two minutes. The way the sunlight hit the side of the mountain highlights the drama of its placement. I remember just gazing at that scene in amazement, at how such a windswept landscape could be so utterly beautiful, and yet, I had no idea what I was in for. We were on our way to Glen Coe, and then to the Isle of Skye after that. Two places that forever in my memory hold the deepest, most magical landscapes I have ever seen.
I dream about these magical places because I have been there, and I can imagine all the scenes in my mind. I can walk along the path again. I can feel the wind whipping through my hair. I can see the cliffs and hear the sound of the crashing waterfall into the sea. I dream of going back. To touch and see these bits of creation. To be in it. To dwell there even for a day is a gift. God has created and still creates such beauty in this world that we get to see.
15 October 2015
Accomplishment 1 - Florida has cooled down on a few occasions to where the temperatures dropped into the 60s! Lovely! I wish it would stick around, but I will take what I can get. It has been nicer late in the evenings, that I have been able to turn off my a/c. That's a big accomplishment!
Accomplishment 2 - Elliott came over to visit. I love getting to see my niece. She immediately sat down at my piano and played and sang for awhile. She is a two year old with bounds of energy and curiosity. She cannot use much energy up in my tiny home, so she talks and wants you to read her stories from books she will hand you from my table. I don't have a very kid-friendly home (I tend to have breakable things within the reach of little arms), so the book reading is a good idea.
Accomplishment 3 - I made my very first pour over coffee at the office. Colin brought in a lovely glass set and allowed me to practice my first pour over! I am no barista, but it was fun to be able to practice, and it is fun to try something new. Now I know how to make better coffee next time.
Accomplishment 4 - I finished reading a book. This is usually not a big accomplishment, but due to the hours of studying I have been doing every night and every weekend, it feels like a big accomplishment to finish a book. I am dreaming of a reading holiday, where I can read for hours on end.
Accomplishment 5 - I passed the Series 7 securities licensing exam! This is me, right after I finished the exam, holding the printout that shows my passing score, and I am so exhausted, I cannot even smile fully, apparently. That was the biggest smile I could manage after an all-day exam. Now, it is on to studying for part two. It's not over yet.
13 October 2015
I follow you upstream through this dark night
My savior, source, and spring, my life and light.
- Malcolm Guite
There are good steps ahead. Steps that leads to something unseen and perhaps not thought about. Something so deep that it just cannot be reached yet. That next step hasn't fallen before you.. But it's right up ahead. The next step deeper.
More wonderful than you can imagine, it will be.
Do you wonder how it could be true?
Where it comes from is not from earth. No earthly thing is going to be able to pour so much pure truth into you. No. It is heaven born. Falling down like stardust so delicate, yet full of all the elements of love and grace. Scattered like dust it will seemingly look unorganized, but step back and let God's plan take hold, and the picture will come into focus. Dust off your shoes and follow His path.
What is coming isn't a result of you doing extra good and being rewarded for it. It doesn't work off a point system. Instead, it is a direct result of God's intense love for you, which you had before you were born. This is something you were made for. Your unique fingerprint is the one that can open this door.
But you have to be willing to let go of all your own strongholds. All those things that you have a tight grip on that hinder you and hold you back. You must let go. Let go of the habits that hold you down, and the fear. You cannot see the good until the clutter is gone.
And then get ready to be amazed by the goodness that awaits up ahead.
09 October 2015
In a very real sense not one of us is qualified, but it seems that God continually chooses the most unqualified to do his work, to bear his glory. If we are qualified, we tend to think that we have done the job ourselves. If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualification, then there's no danger that we will confuse God's work with our own, or God's glory with our own.
- Madeleine L'Engle
As I read Madeleine's words, she sums it up so succinctly, I only need to add words of agreement.
What she is saying goes against the grain of the world. In America, we reward success, achievement, and taking credit for it to make ourselves look good. That is how we are taught to make our way up in the world. Our culture tends to encourage giving yourself glory for the success.
I feel so unqualified in so many ways. Whether it be job related or personal life related.
Who am I to think I am qualified to give advice? Or that I have real wisdom to share?
But I love Madeleine's reminder that God uses us (the broken, the weak) to do some of His good work. In our own ways, we can do good. No matter how small it may seem. If, in our minds we were doing great things because we think we are great, we will be inflating our own ego and ignoring the fact that nothing is possible without God.
To Him be all the glory. Not just pieces of the glory we might select to give Him.
07 October 2015
Two leaves fluttered slowly down, twisting, turning, toiling as they floated down from the tree along the road. Delightfully dancing as the season beckons them to fall.
Is autumn here?
I quiver with delight at the thought.
This morning I woke up to the first real sense of autumn. The temperature was in the mid-60s and it was wonderful. When one can step outside and feel a coolness in the air that hasn't been felt in five months, it is good reason to smile and dwell in thankfulness all day long.
And that is precisely what I did.
The weather was weather. Chilled, misty, rainy, then clearing and sunny. Set that cycle on repeat. That is the definition of weather, and I love it. It felt like England. Unpredictable in the grey and misty coolness. Staying cool all day.
The rains that come are light, starting and ending with a misty rain that makes me think I could be in the UK, where fog and mist rise often (and possible at any minute) creating a feeling of enchantment. My yard became an enchanted garden, where the blooms pop brightly, and the layers of plants go on further, like entering the wardrobe and going deeper into a place full of richness and beauty.
When I looked out my window I thought I was looking out at the quadrangle in which I recently stayed in Oxford, just for a second.
I will continue to look for these tiny signs of autumn.
05 October 2015
The Lord is ever present with us.
Don't be anxious about things, instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your request, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.
- Philippians 4.6
When we are told to not be anxious about things, but to pray instead, it occurred to me that sometimes I think of prayer as something so official and lofty, like a ceremony that one must be equipped for. As if one has to be in a certain frame of mind and surrounded by candles and Bibles or something. But no. Prayer is really just talking with God. and that doesn't feel formal. Just personal and intimate.
When we are standing in line at the grocery store, we can talk to God about the struggles we are feeling that day. When we drive, we can talk to Him about the peace we want to feel about a circumstance. When we mop the floor and fold laundry, we can talk to God about our family or dear friends.
The thing about being anxious is that when we replace our thoughts (which tend to dwell in the "what ifs" and possible negative scenarios) with talks to God, our thoughts begin to conform to what God wants for us. We start to think about how gracious God is and we think less about that big exam one might be so anxious about.
Where are we letting our thoughts dwell?
That is where we can be deeply rooted through every aspect of our day. No matter where we may be.
02 October 2015
I am so glad you are here, at last. I long for the falling leaves that you might bring and the chilly air that makes me crave more cups of tea. As I wait, I reflect that I am so deeply blessed exactly where I am, so that is where I begin.
After a long week of working, studying, dashing to and fro, and struggling to fit too much into too little, here is a short little snippet of a silly poem I wrote earlier this week as I walked downstairs to my car, through the wet grass. These are the kinds of lines that sometimes jettison themselves into my imagination.
Leftover rain drops intrude into my shoes,
The morning grass is wet with dew.
Colourful hues breathe deep and sigh,
As clouds of cotton float on by.
Climbing up higher through the day,
Bringing showers of rain drops my way.
Delightfully dense with rain, we rest,
When cosy indoor atmospheres are best.