Saturday, April 25, 2009

My, how time flies

Something I love and hate…how time flies when you’re having fun. Lazy days on the beach with my dear friends in Cali. Laughs over good drinks with best girlfriends. Funny phone conversations. And then suddenly you look at the clock and realize a gi-normous amount of time went by and it felt like a total of three seconds. But you know darn well you had a good time…as opposed to like those last 20 minutes in class where time seems to have frozen, or that last hour of work on a Friday, or waiting in the doctor’s office.

I’ve been digging into 2 Peter today for class. One of my favorite things about reading the Bible is that I’ll just be putzing along, do do do, reading, do do do, and then a verse stops me. Wait…what did he just say? And even though I’ve read it before, it hasn’t hit me before. Today that happened with 2 Peter 3:8-9. “Remember…with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises, as some understand his slowness.”

I got to thinking about how sometimes we think God is moving at a snail’s pace, not doing something in our life that we want Him to be doing. But I think He actually loves us so much, and so enjoys our company, that His time is flying! What seems like to us is two seconds to Him. And then when I realize that’s He’s enjoying my company, I wonder why I’m so busy wishing time would go quicker, when I could be laughing with Him, and soaking in all of His blessings right now. Tomorrow's will come in due time.

Friday, April 17, 2009

His colorful blossoms

Buds! They’re on the trees. There’s no turning back now, fellow Minnesotans. We are in spring, at long last. Alleluia! 'Bout dang time.

Last night, I discovered that I have bulbs coming up in my yard, but I don’t know what they are. I moved into my place in October, so I only know my home during the fall and winter. Spring is new territory. I started pondering what color exactly the bushes would turn out to be. What about the blossoms on the trees? Is anything planted in the corner? If I put juice in my hummingbird feeder, will I get hummingbirds? All these questions! And it’s fun thinking about the surprise of it all.

Last night in doing homework (which included digging up [garden pun intended] some passages from Old Testament wisdom literature), I came across the oft-quoted Lamentations 3:22-23.

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

His mercies, His blessings, His gifts are new each morning. We have no idea what they will be! Just like my bulbs. I was challenging myself to think about my days like that—in terms of opportunities and potential, rather than routines. What cool thing will He do today? How will He surprise me? What colors will His blossoms be?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Itsy-bitsy spider

One night when I was still living at mom and dad’s, as I was crawling into bed, I saw a spider on the wall my bed was up against. I’m not incredibly fearful of spiders. I don’t like ‘em, but I’ve lived alone long enough to know that I must rely on myself to kill ‘em (and when you were once greeted by a large rat in your grill...well...spiders just ain’t that bad. I’ll save that story for another time). So, I grabbed a nearby shoe and went at it. Well, I hit it, but not hard enough, or good enough, because it didn’t get smooshed on the wall. Instead it fell into the dark valley between my wall and my bed. Crap! Now what?!? I did get up and moved my bed, but couldn’t find it. So, I snuggled under the covers, but had an incredibly hard time falling asleep thinking about this maybe-hurt-but-not-dead spider underneath me. My fears eventually gave way to Zzzzzs though, and I peacefully woke up the next morning and went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. As I flipped the light on and put the toothbrush into my mouth, looking into the mirror...there, in my hair...was the spider. IN MY HAIR! That means inches from my mouth! It was dead because its legs were all curled up. (which is interesting, why do their legs curl up when you kill them?) In very girlish fashion, I shrieked and leaned over the sink, shaking my head vigorously back and forth to make it fall out. SICK!

This morning, my alarm went off. I pressed snooze. Alarm went off again. I rolled over. Turned it off. Stretched. Pulled my hooded sweatshirt hood a little tighter around my face and peeked over at the window. Yep. Blue skies again! Sweet. Yawned, and then...suddenly saw directly above me a spider. RIGHT ABOVE MY HEAD. You have never seen a person hop out of bed on a Wednesday morning so quickly! I grabbed my slipper, hopped back up on the bed and had to do a little jump (making the headboard hit the wall...oops, sorry neighbor), get the spider to fall down onto my bed, then shoo it over onto the floor and finally kill it. Gross.

Then I go downstairs to start my coffee only to discover another spider, same kind, chillin’ like a villain in the 9x13 pan I have out to make dessert for friends tonight! Sick! So, killed that sucker and washed the pan (don’t worry MG girls!).

But it’s not even like I have a warm place for them to stay. My furnace is dead. So leave me alone! Go next door! Go be swallowed in someone else’s sleep. Quit trying to be my friend! You're not invited to dinner.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mixes to sigh to

Here was the difference between my college roommate and me.

My mixed CDs were organized by genre. There was a "chill" mix. A "running" mix. A "Friday night" mix. So each one kind of had the same general music. This makes sense to me. I also dated my mixes...because for some reason, knowing the month and year they were made is important.

Hers were mixes, in every sense of the word, and she didn’t try to hide it. The titles of hers were "Complete Randomness" (so true). "Ya’ll Fixin’ for Some Good Music" (this was created for a spring road trip one year to my old stomping grounds in Tennessee, and again, so true). One was called the "Mix-a-Long."

I recently read a book that quoted C.S. Lewis in his book The Four Loves. He talks about how certain friends bring out very good and very specific qualities in you. So, for example, one friend may be able to draw out your sense of humor like no one else. Or perhaps you never laugh as deeply and as truly as you do when you hear one particular friend’s stories. I liked thinking about how this plays out in my own life.

Our mixed CDs were indicative of the differences between my dear roommate and me. And as much as I think my neatly organized and greatly put-together mixes were/are, there was always something so refreshing about hers. Throw caution to the wind! Who cares if anything works well together... if the end of one song will naturally flow into the beginning of the next. It doesn’t matter. They’re just fun to sing to! To rock out to! It’s just a mixed CD!

This morning on the way to work, I popped in "Complete Randomness." First it was R. Kelly’s Remix Ignition. Then I moved on to Ani DiFranco’s As Is. Dispatch’s The General. And 2Pac’s Me and my Girlfriend. I smiled because, well, how can you not when you’re singing "it’s the freakin’ weekend baby, ‘bout to have me some fun...?" And how can YOU not smile thinking about me singing 2Pac?! As I sang along, I could feel that specific sense of ease that she—and her mixes—was able to pull out of me. The sense of ease that told me to take a deep breath because it’ll be OK.

She helped drive me across the country when I moved to Cali. I remember waking up in a hotel in Vegas in tears, unable to breathe. What was I doing? I couldn’t move the West Coast alone?! We needed to turn around. I couldn’t do it. She took me in her arms, stroked my hair, made me laugh, and said, yes, I could. We would continue our drive, and everything was going to be alright. She didn’t throw one of her mixed CDs in at that moment, but she may as well have.

That friend was able to pull out from me big, deep, everything-will-be-alright sighs, because sometimes I forgot (forget) to breathe.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Seders gone by

For the first five years of my schooling, I went to a small parochial school, and we celebrated Holy Week—from Palm Sunday on through Good Friday. I very distinctly remember the days that we got to eat a Seder meal (much like the Last Supper of Jesus and His disciples) because we had to dress up “like Jesus.” Wearing my bathrobe and my flip flops to school seemed so cool and weird! And perhaps even stranger…my dad was on staff at the church that the school was connected to. So, he actually wore HIS bathrobe and flip flips too! No other kids were quite so lucky as to see their father in his pjs at school!

That day though also made me fearful and apprehensive. It was the day that horseradish would be put on my plate. It represented “bitter herbs” which were supposed to remind us of the bitterness of slavery that the Jews had to undergo. Whatever horseradish was, I knew at the time that it couldn’t be good. I watched a fellow classmate try some, start laughing, have it come out of his nose, and then promptly start crying. That was enough for me. I didn’t want any bitter herbs. And yet we didn’t have a choice! It was put on our plate. I just prayed it wouldn’t touch the sweet apple/cinnamon mixture next to it.

A few years ago in California, I hosted my very own seder with three dear friends. We researched how to make and serve the traditional seder elements. We had some gross grape wine, lamb, homemade unleavened bread, “haroseth” (that sweet apple/cinnamon/nut mixture). We sat cross-legged around my coffee table, while one of my friends walked us through the rituals, prayers, specific drinks of wine. It was great fun and added a little more meaning to our Easter season as we thought about the ancient Passover.

Tonight I will eat another seder, at church with mom and dad (He and I won’t be wearing our pjs. Although he did don a robe in public again on Saturday, dressing up like Jesus for the church’s annual community easter event for kids. In fact, one father told his little girl that I was "Jesus' daughter" as I face-painted her cheek. Another little girl wanted to know why my dad was hiding in a cave. Some things never change.) The seder will remind us of the Jewish trials so many years ago, but then ultimately the freedom we have today in Christ.

Bring on that horseradish!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Me, me, me

As I ate dinner tonight, while staring at Sunday’s crossword puzzle wondering what a four-letter word meaning “polite interruption” could be, the news was on in the background. ABC’s Charlie Gibson was doing a short commercial, promoting his nightly news. As the commercial ended, Gibson said “What people care about most is: How does this affect ME?” He went on to say that the oh-so-smart ABC knows this and will deliver.

What? Did he really just say that? I stopped looking at the crossword puzzle. I’m not a dummy. I was a journalism major. I know the media is always trying to tap into people’s fears and emotions. But for some reason, the comment that people only care about themselves was so coarse and blatant, I cringed. And he wasn't even saying that this was a sad state of affairs. In fact, it was like he had discovered the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Ah ha! SELFISHNESS!

Perhaps I was offended because I had just heard that 150 people died in an Italian earthquake, that a St. Thomas freshman in St. Paul has been missing since yesterday. That a 16-year-old was raped by a third-level sex offender who was just released from jail a couple weeks ago. And all we care about is ourselves? Tomorrow, the news will tell you 1. if you live on a fault line and 2. If you do, how concerned you should be about an earthquake in your area. And then it will tell you what your freshman son or daughter should do to avoid being abducted. It will also provide a map of where all the sex offenders in your county live.

It will quickly turn away from the victims or the real news to focus on YOU, because that is, after all, what we want, right? I know our human tendency is to think only about ourselves, but I don’t believe that’s what we’re called to do. Maybe it's not easy or natural or even normal, but can we at least try?

I wonder what would happen if the news ended every single piece with information on how we could help, support, give back.
Charlie should try it.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Can you believe this?

Who knew? I can face paint.

This morning, I spent three hours at church painting bright-colored crosses, flowers, eggs, chicks, and rabbits on hands, cheeks, and for one boy—his forehead. He was adamant about having a brown basket of eggs prominently displayed on his forehead.

Here’s the thing though…I can face paint, but I’m not sure I can face paint very well. And yet, the best part was that I’d finish and place the small mirror into the child’s sweaty palms. They’d move their head around until suddenly…oh…there it is….they saw their cheek and my masterpiece. And even when the colors bled too much or the little shake in my hand made the rainbow arch crooked, a huge grin spread across his or her face. They thought it was pretty cool. And they would look up at their mom and dad or grandma and grandpa, as if to ask, do you see this on my FACE?! Can you believe this?! I watched them hop down from the chair and run off to a friend or a sibling and point to their water-based tattoo excitedly.

It’s the Easter spirit. We are so far from perfect, like my artwork, and the Lenten season reminds us of this. But Jesus died and then rose again for us, and His disciples (and me) could barely believe it “because of joy and amazement,” (Luke 24:41). So, let’s hop off our chairs!

Friday, April 03, 2009

The B-word

I’m sad to be missing a friend’s baby shower tomorrow. I don’t know if they will be playing any games, but I will say that if they do, I will NOT miss that part.

I’m not a huge shower game-er. Game-er period. I hate ice-breakers. Can’t we start up conversations without the use of cheesy games or questions? If I have to do an ice-breaker, then please break some ice into a glass of a special beverage for me too. I swear if you come to my baby shower, there will not be any games.

I’ve hula hooped at a shower before. Thrown a “dirty” diaper (one holding a little snickers bar) into a trash can. Molded a piece of bubble gum into a baby. Guessed tummy sizes. And then there’s the game where you receive points for not doing or saying certain things. Like crossing your legs. If someone sees you crossing your legs, you lose a point! Or you're not allowed to say certain words like "baby" or "girl."

A friend who hasn’t played as many shower games as me, went to a recent baby shower. As she walked in, she was told not to use the B-word. Using the B-word would result in her losing points, and then not winning the prize. The B-word? She wasn’t sure what this meant or was referring to. The B-word? She quietly asked the host, partly covering her mouth ... “we can’t say B*TCHES?”

Oh, this makes me laugh on this Friday morning. Yes. I will play that game at my shower!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Still listening

I’ve recently become enamored with Pandora—the internet radio site, where you can just type in some of your favorite artists and Pandora (mysterious genius behind a curtain somewhere) supplies a continuous flow of music that you will most likely enjoy. And he or she is probably right about 95% of the time! I do like almost all of the songs provided.

I currently have two “stations.” A Brett Dennan one, playing nonstop chill stuff from The Weepies, Joshua Radin, Jack Johnson, Iron and Wine, Ray LaMontagne and Mason Jennings to name a few. And then I have an Otis Redding one, with Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, Louis Armstrong, et. al.

One of my favorite things though about Pandora is that it’ll periodically stop and ask if you’re still listening. You then have to click the little button, “Yes, I’m still listening.” Sometimes I have a meeting and I leave Pandora on. I come back to find her asking me if I’m still listening, and I feel bad. Like I have to explain to her, sorry, I just met some friends over lunch and then had a meeting, but I’m back now. Thanks for waiting so patiently.

This morning as I journaled, I felt like I needed to tell God, “Yes, I’m still listening.” It’s just been such a busy week, what with vacations and school and long workdays. He’s kind of like Pandora I guess. Truly a mysterious genius supplying a steady flow of very cool things. And thankfully, He doesn't wait on me to tell Him that I’m still listening.