Saturday, May 30, 2009

I know He knows

I know this, but I sometimes forget and someone reminded me yesterday:

God knows my desires because He MADE them. He gave them to me!

Which, then, is kind of funny when I think about the fact that I’m telling Him about my desires on a regular basis when I pray. God, did you know that I really want this? And for this person, I’d ask that you think about this. And thank you, crazily enough, you provided something and it was just what I needed. Ha! Imagine that!

Yesterday I blogged about a dear friend, who I said just “knows.” I don’t always have to explain myself, because she gets it. She knows! Well, God is this too. He knows, and even if our desires or our “needs” are not met today or tomorrow or in the way we think they should be, there is such great comfort in simply knowing that He knows.

I have a tendency to get anxious. To get ants in my pants, and when I remember that He knows my desires because he created them…I can feel myself settle, calm, sigh. Oh yeah. Ok. He knows. Thinking about this got me humming the song “He Knows my Name,” which has always brought me to tears or close to tears. So, for me, and a few other very special people in my life who are anxious for various reasons…words for this Saturday...

I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands

I have a Father
He calls me His own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call

Friday, May 29, 2009


I sat outside with a friend last night, drinking a gin and tonic, she a glass of white wine, celebrating her 28th birthday. It was a quiet, no-frills night, as far as birthday nights go. I didn’t sing her happy birthday, and the waitress didn’t even card us, which would have been the “it’s her birthday” moment. In fact, at one point, we got asked by a group of girls if we wouldn’t mind moving so they could use our table because it was their friend’s birthday and they needed more chairs. We politely gathered our stuff and moved. I did have half a mind to go back over to the table and say, hey, just heads up, it’s MY friend’s birthday too.

Despite it’s low-keyness, or maybe because of its low-keyness, the night was good. Good because it was the perfect, no-mosquito, early Minnesota summer night and good because being in each other’s presence is just comfortable and peaceful and knowing. She knows that I know certain things, and I know that she knows certain things—like the meaning of anxiety, singleness, and writer’s block.

I got to thinking on my way home last night how each year our hearts absorb more. They take in experiences and relationships, both good and painful. Sometimes they’re strengthened and fortified. Other times they’re cut and bruised and take time to heal and scar over. But no matter what, stuff (at times called s***) didn’t just come and go. It was absorbed and became part of us, changing us, making us what we are. And true friends are those who absorb with you. They’re there pre- and post-absorption with the same love, just different hearts right along with you.

So, dear friend, happy birthday. Thanks for knowing, and for absorbing with me. I love you!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Really really

If I had a word of the month, this month’s word would be "really."
Emphasis: REA-lly?
The reason I love "really" right now is because it’s both an incredulous question and a knowing answer. It actually answers itself.
Really? Really.

Did she just do that?
Did he just text that?
Did that just happen?
Am I to understand that?
Is that woman driving a pink Beetle with the license plate "SEXYGRL"?
Is that neighbor making a “flower” bed for their dandelions and other assorted weeds?

Yes, she just did that.
Yup, he did in fact press "send" on that lamest of all texts.
Si, senorita. That happened.
Yes, understand it as such, hard as it is to believe.
Mmhmm. She is driving a pink Beetle with the license plate "SEXYGRL."

And yes, they like dandelions.

Am I really blogging about really? I really am.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Love, how many times

So, over the weekend, in doing research for my paper, I was typing into google "How many times is..." And you know how the most common, most recent searches automatically pop up in a little pull down box, so that if, by chance, you happen to be searching for what everybody else is searching for, you can easily click on that, and forget having to type in the rest. Well, if you type in "How many times is...", do you know that three of the top 5 searches are variations of "How many times is love in the Bible?" I guess people want to know. Millions and millions of people. And, of course, now you’re probably thinking, ok, hj, tell many times is it? I can’t really tell you though because it depends on the Bible translation as well as the inclusion of "loved" and "loves," but definitely upwards of 500. (Note: one of the other top searches was "How many times is Grey Goose distilled?" Really? That many people want to know? Well, it’s three times!)

This got me thinking about why people want to know how many times exactly love is in the Bible? Do they want reassurance that God loves them? Do they sigh in disgust when they realize that yes, they should actually love their lame or rude neighbor? Or maybe they’re just giving a presentation and they want to sound smart and rattle off how many times love is in the Bible?

The number of times that love is in the Bible I suppose does show that love is a critical, if not THE critical component of Christianity. Both God’s love for us, and as Christians being called to love each other. Whether it’s 496 or 623 times, I’m not sure really matters. Especially because some of those are actually warnings against loving the wrong things.

1 John 3:16
"We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us..."

We know it not by how many times love pops up in our Google searches, or how much we see, feel, hear, or know love on earth. But rather, we know because He died for us. And I don't really think there's a number big enough for that kind of crazy love.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Draw near

I don’t know what to tell you.

Well, I can’t really say.

That’s tough. I’m not sure.

I can’t answer for you.

These answers are not helpful. Or maybe they are. I’ve recently heard them, and part of me wants to snap back “Wrong answer! Just TELL me! Help!” But I got to thinking that they kind of force me to go to the person I probably should have gone to in the first place—God. And honestly, I’ve gone to Him, but I haven’t really waited patiently for an answer of any sort. Or direction. I want to know NOW. So I try to take matters into my own hands. He’s probably laughing at me as I go from friend to friend to mom asking for help. “Keep tryin’, hj, they’re not going to deliver,” He smirks. And what’s funny is that if I actually got an answer from someone, I’d have to still go to someone else. I mean, obviously, you need a second opinion.

I’m working on—trying to work on—my final paper for class. So I’m spending an inordinate amount of time on Hebrews 10: 19-25. I’m parsing it down to every last syllable—well, not syllable, but word. I got hung up on verse 22: “let us draw near with a sincere heart.” Doesn’t the phrase “drawing near” make you think of a warm fire (or a Christmas carol)? The phrase “drawing near” makes you want to draw near! But when I’m impatient, I draw far from God and seek my own answers. My heart is far from sincere because maybe I ask for His help, but I don’t wait for it. I go try to find my own answers.

A warm fire just begs for time. For lounging. For chillin’. For taking a load off. I want to draw near to Him with a sincere heart and just lounge in that warmth. I’ll probably get an answer of some sort then.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Spontaneity to Thursday's regularity

So, last night at the Twins game, I had a yummy ice cream (choc/van twist) cone. It was great, but not as great as TCBY (The Country’s Best Yogurt), and because of that it got me craving TCBY. As the lunch hour approached today, I got a hairbrained idea. Why not be super wild and crazy?! For lunch, don’t eat the can of soup that’s been in my drawer for months at my desk. Instead, why not hop in the car, drive a ridiculous distance to get some TCBY?! It’s neither practical nor the best use of time, which made it sound super great!

I did. I grabbed my keys, hopped in my car, rolled the window down, and drove to one of the nearest TCBYs. It was connected to a Subway, which had a line out the door. But no one was at the TCBY counter. I walked up to that counter, picked out what I wanted and waited. No one helped me. So, I decided to go wait in the looooong Subway line. I finally get up to that counter and ask if I could please just have a cup of yogurt. Sure, she says, and together we walk over to the other counter. Excitedly, I ask for a cup of chocolate and vanilla twisted. My mouth is watering and I’m patting myself on the back for being so spontaneous! What a terrific idea, hj! Well, she says, they’re not serving vanilla today. Um. What? doesn’t every place serve vanilla every day? Alright. Well, I'll just do plain chocolate then. She turns to do that, pulls the chocolate. She turns back to me...sorry, they’re out at the moment. So, I can either get strawberry (they were serving only two flavors unlike Cali's great Golden Spoon which never failed me with "cake batter") or wait a few minutes for them to refill the chocolate. At this point, why not wait a few more minutes? I tell her I’ll wait and thank her for filling it for me. She goes in back only to come out a minute or two later. They’re out of chocolate completely.

Come again? What?!

But I didn’t eat my can of soup like I always do. I didn’t sit in front of my desk like I always do. I didn’t worry about using unnecessary gas. And I was even going to get the “regular” size not just “small”! I waited in the loooong Subway line? And now I got nothin’?! (I didn’t want strawberry). I turned and chuckled. That’s SO what I get for being so spontaneous on a regular Thursday.

To lick my wounds, as I wouldn’t be licking any yogurt, I drove to the nearest park and grabbed my blanket. I laid out in the middle of dandelions enjoying the sunshine, cool breeze, and the smell of flowers for about 15 minutes. And that short break was pretty darn close to being as good as the country’s best (or lamest) yogurt.

I strongly encourage spontaneity on a regular Thursday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A watched fern doesn't grow

I have ferns coming up, and they’re fun to watch because they start out curled and then slowly uncurl as they get bigger. I was cleaning out the dead leaves and grass around the ferns over the weekend. I looked at them closely and recalled the film strips I was shown way back in kindergarten and first grade—the ones where they videotaped a plant and then fast-forwarded the clip so you could see the growth. My mind wandered to how I could do that with my digital camera...If I could do that. But no matter how long I stared at them, I didn’t actually see them grow while I sat out there. They did probably grow an eensy-teensy bit in that short hour that I sat by them though.

This morning I walked out to my car, and the ferns practically doubled in size over night. Maybe it’s the spring rain we got last night. I don’t know, but I was amazed!

My life feels like my ferns sometimes. I stare at it so closely and feel like I can’t see God moving. Where is He? What is He doing? And then I wake up one morning and unexpectedly see change, growth, challenge, opportunity...something. And I think...Wow. How did that happen?

I often get bogged down in details (which are not all bad!). Whether it be in editing work projects or refining relationships.( In meetings, I’m the one who rains on the brainstomers’ ideas...yeah, that’s all fine and good, but how exactly are we going to pull that idea from your brain and actually make it happen in terms of money, people power, resources, etc.? I want a minute, detailed breakdown, please.)

In a conversation with my momma recently, she told me that I was thinking short-term. I was being near-sighted. I needed to think bigger. Go longer. In essence, go for touchdown. Not short pass. It's so difficult for me to do that sometimes though.

I found some verses in Ecclesiastes (11:4-6, The Message translation) that act as a great reminder that we probably shouldn’t focus so hard on the details of our earthly lives, but rather think big-picture...think God, think heavenly. And chances are, if I do that, I’ll walk out every morning and be surprised by the growth in my own life, just like the growth in my ferns.

“Don't sit there watching the wind. Do your own work.
Don't stare at the clouds. Get on with your life.

Just as you'll never understand
the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman,
So you'll never understand
the mystery at work in all that God does.

Go to work in the morning
and stick to it until evening without watching the clock.
You never know from moment to moment
how your work will turn out in the end.”

Monday, May 11, 2009

I know right

At three years old, I laid in bed one night practicing how to emphasize different syllables. I wanted—needed—a drink of water. So, to make sure mom and dad were clear on just how badly I needed this water, I began...

I want a drink of water.
i WANT a drink of water.
i want A drink of water.
i want a DRINK of water.
i want a drink OF water.
i want a drink of WAter.
i want a drink of waTER.

It didn’t work. Mom and dad just lied in bed in the next room laughing at their daughter, who, clearly, at a very young age was living in a world of words.

I should have known I’d be an English major, constantly wondering about words and what they could mean if used—emphasized—in different ways.

I recently got the text message: “I know right.”

I DO know, actually. What I know is that this person was not telling me that he, in fact, knew right, and I knew wrong. This was not a declaration, but rather a rhetorical question. One in which “right” is said with an inflection that makes it a question. I know, right? Like, can you believe that? I’m for real. Rather than proclaiming superiority, he was actually trying to build camaraderie—we’re in this together, thinking this is crazy. And even if he had added the question mark at the end, it still wouldn't have worked. I may have thought he was asking me if HE knew right? You talkin' to ME? I know right?

I chuckled to myself thinking about the importance of stressing the appropriate syllable. Saying what you mean isn’t always going to cut it, especially with texting. You better stress what you mean or know what be stressin’! To which you say, I know right.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

More and more each day

Sometimes I talk with one hand over my mouth.
I am my mom.

Sometimes I look over my grocery receipt as I push my cart out the store…to make sure they didn’t make a mistake.
I am my mom.

When I wear my hair curly,
I am my mom.

I sit Indian-style at the kitchen table.
I am my mom.

I cross my arms while shopping.
I am my mom.

I live by lists and organization.
I am my mom.

I cook and bake and show love and appreciation through food.
I am my mom.

I love coupons.
I am my mom.

My handwriting is near typewriter quality.
I am my mom.

More and more each day, I am my mom. There is no one I’d rather be. God has blessed me.
I love you, momma.

Friday, May 08, 2009

We beat you

When it comes to grocery store lines, I’m generally fairly patient. I will let a mother with three crabby kids in front of me. Or the person who has 9 items, as opposed to my 10. Or if my cart meets another cart at the same register entrance at the exact same time, I will let the other cart first. It’s OK. I don’t mind.

But yesterday I was reminded of the time it wasn’t ok. My friend sent me a grocery store receipt from Henry’s (in Cali), and at the top wrote “WE BEAT YOU!” and here’s why:

On my recent trip to Cali, my friend and I hit up the grocery to pick up a few last-minute items for that night’s dinner. When we headed up to the register to check out, we discovered the lines were horrendously long. And it wasn’t even like people were buying lots of stuff. It was just lots of people buying a few things, like us. Standing in front of us was a guy who reminded me a little of Vin Diesel. You probably wouldn’t want to be in an alley with him. Or actually maybe you would because he’d kick the crap out of any bad people. He had bulging muscles showing through his tight black t-shirt and a shaved head. We made eye contact and kind of gave that shrug and nod that says, “wow, this line kinda sucks.” Well, suddenly the next lane over opened up. And Vin Diesel half turned and looked at us to see if we were going to move. Again, there was just a little nod which conveyed the fact that we were going to stay put and he could move to the newly opened lane and we wouldn't think he was rude for trying to cut in front of us.

So, time continues to pass as me and my friend wait in our line and Vin waits in his. I kept watching to see who was in the lead. We beat him to the register, but only narrowly. He was very close behind us. As my friend paid, I finished bagging and looked over at Vin in the next lane and out of nowhere...I have NO idea where this came was like an out-of-body experience, I lifted up one of our bags and loudly proclaimed to Vin: “We Beat You!” My friend looked at me like I had lost my mind—and I think I had. Vin didn’t hear me, so rather than just letting it be, I proceeded to lift our bag higher and say louder “WE BEAT YOU!” And at this point, others turn to look, too, to see...was I yelling at them? Had I had beat them? Vin heard, but there was no facial expression as he tried to figure out if I had really just said that to him.

My friend grabbed my elbow and forcefully directed me toward the door—both of us laughing. HJ had returned at this point, and I was asking my friend why I had done that and proclaiming that we really needed to get out of there fast! So, we get to the door only to discover, it’s only the “entrance.” We can't get out! We turn and realize that in order to get to the exit, we have to walk past Vin, who is still at the register, finishing paying.

Sheepishly, very sheepishly, we quickly walk past Vin, who is now smirking. He nods, and says “karma.”

Maybe it was me finally releasing some of the pent-up tension from having lived in California...the land of insane traffic and long lines and people EVERYWHERE. I don’t know. But we beat him.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The bests

So, I just finished deadline—meaning I sent off a magazine, 38 pages of my writing and editing to the printer where 60,000 copies of it will be made and then sent to people around the world. This is the best feeling and the worst feeling. The best because it’s been an incredibly long couple of weeks at work and I’m happy to be done, but the worst because I can’t change anything else anymore. No more adding commas, or checking spellings, or reworking headlines. It’s done, and that is a very scary thing.

This got me thinking about bests/worsts, and how if you want the best, chances are you have to go through the worst. Or at least be willing to go through the worst.

Today is an absolutely amazing May day in Minnesota. The flowers are blooming—you can smell ‘em. The grass is green. The sun is shining. It’s 78 degrees. But it’s only this amazing because we went through six months of winter hell. Having lived in Cali, I know how to take good weather for granted. There were days when 78 and sunny annoyed me! I like that in Minnesota, the bad-weather days make the good-weather days GOOD.

And I’ve loved deeply. A person reached the corners of my heart; he shined light on all my shadows. And because of that, when it ended, I hurt deeply. The tears stung. Then, they stung some more. But given another chance, I’d take the stinging because his light was so warm and bright.

Anyways, I get nervous. I get nervous when I send that magazine to the printer, and I get nervous to let my guard down, to let someone in, to hurt again, but then I remember God’s bests, and it’s all good.