Friday, June 29, 2012

sorry i'm not sorry

Hello, readers! I'm making another announcement about upcoming changes here.

As you may have noticed in some of my recent posts, money is on my mind. More and more, i am coming to hate my job; this past week was supremely shitty, and i'm starting to look elsewhere for employment.

In the meantime, i am not too proud to take money where i can find it. Therefore, i have just applied for an AdSense account. It will take 48 hours for the application to process, so it will be Sunday evening before you see any changes.

I know how much ads suck, and i will work hard to keep them from becoming intrusive or distracting. And if i find that they are just too overwhelming or inappropriate, or if they're not making as much money as i'd like, i will discontinue the service.

Please let me know if you are at all bothered by the change, or if there are specific ads you'd rather not see. I want to work with my readers to make sure we all have a great experience here.

Thanks and have a great weekend :)

Daniel 11-12. Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah 1-3

All passages from the NKJV.

Hosea 6:1
Come, and let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.

In a garden, you often have to prune your plants. Sometimes you have to prune them pretty severely, cutting them back until it seems there's nothing left. But after this, they grow stronger and healthier than ever. Sometimes, a broken bone sets wrongly, and needs to be re-broken in order to heal completely.

Sometimes, we're growing things that we don't need in our lives (bad habits, unhealthy relationships, an imbalance of responsibilities, etc). Sometimes, our brokenness heals wrongly. Sometimes, we must be cut and broken, torn and stricken, all over again to ensure our continued health and wholeness. Sometimes, God uses tough love.

Hosea 6:3
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.

The first two lines of this remind me that we are to love God with our minds, that intellectualism is wholly compatible with faith, that God wants us to know and be known by him. The last three lines are beautiful, especially in this rainy week: God is steady and constant, God is saturating, God fills us to overflowing.

Joel 2:23
Be glad, then, you children of Zion,
And rejoice in the Lord your God;
For he has given you the former rain faithfully,
And He will cause the rain to come down for you --
The former rain,
And the latter rain in the first month.

Here we find another instance of the phrase "former and latter rain". It seems to be an expression of faithfulness and dependability, as well as of nurturing and providing. It makes sense, and it's also a beautiful piece of poetry.

Micah 6:6-8
With what shall I come before the Lord,
And bow myself before the High God?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams
Or ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

One of my dad's gifts is interpretation and teaching of Scripture. He was our Bible quizzing coach for many years, and we spent nearly as much time in deep study of the Word as in practicing our jumps and our memorization strategies.

One year, we were studying either Matthew or Hebrews; i can't remember which. Both are epistles written specifically for Jews, either to convert them to Christianity or to guide Jewish Christians in their new faith. They incorporate a lot of the history, the law, and the traditions. They include long genealogies. They present arguments and information in a way that Jews in the first century would understand and appreciate.

They spend a lot of time talking about traditional Jewish law. God gave His people thousands of commandments, not just the ten you know. There were very specific details about what they were allowed to eat, how it could be cooked, at what time of the year they could eat it, who they could have sex with and under what circumstances, what kinds of fibers their clothes could be made from, how they should plant their crops, etc. And when Jesus came, He told us that He came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Yet when He was asked what was the most important commandment, He named one that was never listed in any of the books of the Law: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

My dad's theory is this: people like to think they can do things. We want to compete, to earn salvation, to succeed by our own merits, to win by our own efforts. But God doesn't work like that. Salvation isn't about doing the right things or winning or being good enough. It's about acknowledging that we can never be good enough by our own efforts, and that we need mercy and grace. God is too good, too high, for us to approach. We can only come near to Him when we humble ourselves and ask Him to draw near.

My dad thinks that God gave these ridiculously exhaustive rules as a way of demonstrating the impossibility of ever being good enough. It's simply not a valid concept. God wanted us to see what it would take to be "good enough", realize that it was impossible, and humble ourselves. Instead, many of the Jews (and many Christians even today), think that holiness is something we can attain on our own, that holiness is like an algebraic equation. If we add these prayers here and subtract these sacrifices over here, we can reach "X".

This passage, all the way back in the Old Testament, is a support of my dad's theory. You can hear the surrender in the prophet's voice, feel that his questions are rhetorical. With what shall I come before the Lord? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression? All that God asks of us is to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him. All we can do is love and let go.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Every time it rains, these little yellow snails come swarming out of nowhere and crowd onto our sidewalk. I never see them in the grass or on the flowers. I only see them on the sidewalk, after the rain.

I usually see two or three. Sometimes, a careless person will step on one, and i'll see the shell fragments and slime squished on the edge of a stair.

Fifty snails. Or seven. Math is not my strong suit.
Yesterday, there were TONS of them, all over the stairs and sidewalk. There was one cluster of like, fifty snails of various sizes and shades of yellow. I have never seen that many of them all at once.

I only see this kind: the little mustard-y yellow-brown with the black racing stripe. I've never seen any other ones. They never stay for more than a few hours. I go home for lunch somewhere around 1 or 2 pm, and i leave work for the day at 5. When i'm there for lunch, there are snails. When i'm home from work, there are none.

Snails are cute, sure. And they're slow-moving, and their shells are pretty and fun to decorate with, and they are delicious. Yes, i've eaten snails. Twice. Once in France, and once in Spain. In Spain, they prepare them very simply, steamed or boiled with seasonings, and you just suck them out of the shell. They are very tiny, and the method of cooking usually leaves their heads poking out of the shells, their tiny faces frozen in a series of silent screams. Spanish snails are pretty upsetting to eat. French snails, on the other hand, are baked or roasted in a thing like a muffin tin, each snail in its own little compartment, and they are neatly tucked into their shells and covered in butter and herbs. You eat them with a fork, and you never have to see their faces. This way is much better.

I have to confess, however, that i fibbed a little when i said that snails are delicious. The truth is that, much like octopus, snails don't have much flavor beyond what they're cooked with. This is another reason to prefer the French method: they mostly taste like melted butter and herbs.

But these little guys are not for eating. I just like to watch them enjoy the sunshine.

Monday, June 25, 2012


I've written before about my history with thunderstorms, how the pounding raindrops and crashing thunder are something of a lullaby. I haven't written before that the first time i made out with a boy was in a thunderstorm, when the power went out and we were left in total darkness. I also haven't written that on days like this, my mother used to love to make a big pot of tea and put on an old movie, something with Jimmy Stewart or one of the Hepburns. We're a distant cousin of Katharine, you know.

I still like to put on something black-and-white when it rains, though these days my tea likely as not has a shot of whiskey in it. To ward off the flu, of course. I like to put on slubby old clothes and snuggle with John and watch the old stories over again. There's nothing like Cary Grant on a rainy day. There's nothing like Cary Grant any day. Maybe George Clooney.

It looks like it may rain all day today, and i'm stuck at work. I'll be sneaking peeks of Sandman, of course; i recently got the fourth and fifth volumes and have ordered the sixth and seventh. I'll work hard: emails, voicemails, transcripts, and letters. Two of our office assistants are on vacation, so i'm handling their workloads. Maybe at lunch i'll watch an episode of Mad Men, the next best thing to a black-and-white film. After work, i'll put on slubby old clothes and wash a load of laundry and drink some tea. My black and white cat will nap on my bed while Breakfast at Tiffany's or Philadelphia Story plays in the background. I might even take a nap today.

I wish i had a porch with a swing and a grandmother on it. I wish i could call out "rainy day" from work, but they don't have a code for that in the accrued hours. Days like this will be so much fun for teaching.

Days like this almost make me wish i was fifteen again (except that no one in their right minds would ever want to go back to that age). I want to have no responsibilities, to be able to wear pajamas all day and spend the morning in bed with a stack of novels. I want to eat two bowls of cereal for breakfast and spend the afternoon snacking on fruit that someone else paid for while Audrey Hepburn wafts across the screen in some glamorous, tiny gown. I want my biggest annoyance to be that my cat has fallen asleep half on my arm and half on my open book.

But when i was fifteen, i didn't have a cat. I didn't even know about Sandman then. And most of the movies in the house belonged to my parents. I would have been watching in the living room, in the midst of a swirl of chaos, instead of in my cozy, still room.

Growing up isn't really moving forward. It's more like moving sideways, or at least diagonally. Some things are better, some things are worse. Mostly, things are just different. We trade some responsibilities for others. We trade some freedoms for others. When i was fifteen, i didn't have to pay bills, but i couldn't put whiskey in my tea.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ezekiel 24-48, Daniel 1-10

This week, there was nothing specific that really jumped out at me. But in reading Daniel, i noticed something interesting: While Daniel has earned some honor and respect for himself in Babylon, the Babylonians have not converted to Judaism. They realize that his God is pretty powerful (witness the interpretation of dreams, the fiery furnace, the lion's den, etc), but they continue to worship their own. It is this, in fact, that gets Daniel thrown to the lions in the first place.

But every time there is some kind of confusion or emergency, and the king's advisers call on Daniel, they refer to the Hebrew God in glowing terms (Daniel 4:34-37, 6:24-28, etc). It's unlikely that "heathens" who worshiped a different god would be so complimentary of this one. They might recognize His power and authority in some areas, but they would not speak of him worshipfully. They would either convert or be a little less effusive.

History is written by the victors. I'm not saying that the "history" parts of the Bible are a pack of lies, but it is important to remember that the Hebrews themselves wrote it. It is possible to write an account that is 100% factual, and yet present the information in such a way that even other eyewitnesses wouldn't recognize the story. And i have to wonder how often the Hebrew scholars and historians painted up the facts a little. Did the king's advisers trust and respect Daniel? Yes, the ones who didn't want him dead. Did they have some respect for the God that was able to protect him from harm and interpret dreams? Yes, the ones who weren't so jealous of his success and his closeness to the King that they created religiously oppressive laws for the sole purpose of having him killed.

Those of you who remember Veggie Tales might recall one of my favorite songs, the one where the king's advisers are scheming against Daniel:
Oh no, what we gonna do?
The King likes Daniel more than me and you!
Oh no, what we gonna do?

We gotta get him out of here!

It's important, when reading the Bible, to keep in mind who wrote it and what motivations they may have had for presenting the truth in a certain light. A people enslaved by another nation need a reason to feel superior to their captors. Like the certainty that all the Babylonians were in awe of the Hebrew God.

Just something to think about.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Not a Real Review: Sandman

This is not so much a review as a ramble about what might just be my new favorite book series.

I'm very new to graphic novels and comic books. I started reading the X-Men comics a few months ago, and while i have been enjoying them so far, they are strange to read. Comic books are not simply more grown-up versions of illustrated story books. They tell stories in a different way than i am used to.

Reading a comic book is a little like watching a TV show. The way that stories are structured, the way that longer arcs are serialized, and the way that exposition takes place are all strongly reminiscent of TV, but they are still written and not performed. Learning to read them is a little like learning to read a new language.

If comic books are TV shows, graphic novels are movies. The pacing is more deliberate, the suspense more sustained, the serialized arcs and exposition are longer and deeper. They're not inherently better or worse, just as movies are not inherently better or worse than TV shows. They're just different.

Those who are interested in graphic novels should start with Sandman, and they should read Mark Oshiro's reviews alongside of them. Mark is much more familiar with this genre than i am, and is also a much better reviewer. Reading his reviews has helped me to unpack what is happening in each issue of each volume of these novels.

Sandman is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. These stories are dark, and harsh, and gritty. And they are very, very real. To paraphrase what the Sandman himself says in the third volume, something need not have happened to be true. These stories are absolutely true, and that is the source of their horror. They expose some of the most unpleasant truths about human beings and examine some of our darkest realities.

But this is not shock for shock's sake. There is redemption and beauty to be found here as well. Just as in life, however, stories take longer to resolve. This isn't an after-school special where the happy lesson comes after half an hour. This is a serious film, where the ultimate resolution may not be found until several sequels later. There are moments of joy, moments of love and peace, moments of quiet. But they come at the price of suffering and horror. Consequences are rarely uplifting, but always credible.

These stories may not be everyone's cup of tea, but i can guarantee that they won't be easily forgotten. These are stories that sink down into your psyche and stay.

Monday, June 18, 2012

by our love

People in the Church spend a frankly inordinate amount of time talking about things that are Christian vs. things that are not Christian. This is silly, because Christian is a noun, and not an adjective. Christ-like is an adjective, but not one we use as often, probably because it's harder to beat people down with. Christ wasn't really a big fan of beating people down, after all. He was more about loving people, openly and freely and gently and overwhelmingly. But you can't shame sinners with language like that, so instead we talk about things and people being unChristian.

The Bible being a complicated, old, and contradictory collection of texts, it can be hard for the discerning Pharisee -- oops, i mean Christian neighbor -- to delineate exactly what things and people are Christian and which ones are not.

Fortunately, this is one of the few things about which Christ was pretty clear. No parables here, no metaphors, no miracles. Just very plain language: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35, NKJV)

If the things we are doing or saying are not obviously loving, if they come from a place of judgement or pride instead of a place of love and kindness, if we speak and do for the sake of proving ourselves right over someone else instead of for the sake of loving someone better, we are not behaving as Christ would have us behave. This is the measure of how "Christian" we are.

We will walk with each other
We will walk side by side
And we'll guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love.
--Peter Scholtes

Friday, June 15, 2012

shopping 6/15

  • Puffs Ultra Non-Lotion 3-pack
  • Pennzoil full synthetic 10W-30 motor oil
  • Olay age defying classic daily renewal cream
Yep. That was everything. I made a trip to Walmart specifically for these three things and no others.

Reason #12 Why I Should Live With My Boyfriend

Last night, John took off my bra and proclaimed,
"I am the Abraham Lincoln of boobies! I have emancipated them from their garments of oppression!"

Jeremiah 50-52, Lamentations, Ezekiel 1-23

Although i read all of the above passages, the stuff that stuck with me was all from Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 12:24
"For no more shall there be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel."

Ezekiel 20:49
Then I said, "Ah, Lord God! They say of me, 'Does he not speak parables?'"


The first passage made me think of C. S. Lewis (i have got to read more apologetics). I think it was "Surprised by Joy", but it may have been "Mere Christianity". Anyway, he was talking about one critique of Christianity being its weirdness and lack of rational, logical conclusions. According to Lewis, "Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we were expecting, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that twist about it which real things have." We like to believe things that are flattering to us, that make us feel better, that are easy to understand. God doesn't offer that.

Second, this made me think of Jesus and of my church and of the debates about the reliability of the Bible. Some people think that every word of the Bible should be understood literally: the world was created in six days of 24 hours each, Eve was created from Adam's rib, women should not speak in church. Others say that the Bible is a collection of stories and poems that point to a greater truth beyond mere literal fact. I've written a little about this before, so i won't go into all that now.

But here's the thing: it is possible for something to be true without being literal. And throughout the entire Bible, God has spoken to His people in stories, in parables, in allegories, in metaphors, in poems. He almost never speaks literally. I don't know why this is, but it's true.

My pastor occasionally preaches in parables instead of traditional sermons. Some people don't like it. I usually feel like it's more authentic that way.

It's more confusing, more layered, more nuanced, and more open to interpretation. Probably because God isn't interested in building an army of robots. He wants people who will be in relationship with Him and with one another. If the Bible were absolutely, literally true in every instance, none of us would ever need to talk to one another or to God. But the fact that it is open to interpretation means that we need to spend a lot of time in intentional community and discussion. We need to be open to one another and to God, we need to be aware of different points of view, and we need to be humble and curious. Because He does, in fact, speak parables.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Overheard in the Office 18

"It's like a happy explosion in your mouth!"


When i was younger, i used to collect collections.

I have been a huge nerd for my entire life, and when i was younger i used to think that if i had some cool "thing", i would become cool by default.

Having only a very tenuous grasp of the concept of "coolness" and of what things could be labeled cool, i decided that a really awesome collection of some kind would really seal the deal for me. The trouble is, i could never decide which collection was the coolest one. (That wasn't really the trouble. But it was the thing that precipitated this story.)

I tried collecting stamps, keys, coins, rocks, pieces of wood, stuffed animals, old books, beads, erasers, safety pins, buttons, shells, sea glass, and marbles. (This is not a complete list.) Please take note of the lack of coolness for basically every item on the list. And lest you be tempted to argue, thinking that some of these things sound like they might make really impressive collections, allow me to disenchant you. I was young, and had no money, and my town had extremely limited access to everything but soybean fields. So my collection of, for example, stamps, was not some colorful album full of rare, expensive pieces of miniature postage art. It was more an envelope full of regular stamps that we had recently received. Our exchange students did afford me access to some international stamps, but by and large my collection lacked value, interest, and diversity.

"I meant what I said,
And I said what I meant.
An elephant's faithful
One hundred percent!"
The weird thing about collecting is that you'll find something you like, pick up maybe half a dozen really awesome representations of that one thing, and then suddenly everyone you've ever met starts inundating you with more of that thing, because they want to help you with your collection. While this is really nice and helpful, i tended to be pretty fickle with my collections and too nice to tell people that, so when someone came up to me in the church parking lot with a handful of used stamps, i didn't know how to tell them that i wasn't really collecting stamps anymore. And i tend not to throw things away, especially when they were gifts, so my room is often cluttered with things i never wanted belonging to collections i am no longer interested in. Every year or so, i purge, but things still seem to pile up somehow.

This brings us to the elephants.

I really do like elephants. I think they look majestic and solemn and beautiful, and the little ones are insanely cute. They're generally considered faithful, responsible, patient, and lucky. Maybe that's why Dr. Seuss's Horton, who took care of someone else's egg through terrible winter storms and who almost died protecting people too small to be seen, was an elephant.

Anyway, i started collecting elephants some time in middle school, i think. And after a while, though i still liked them and would occasionally buy elephant things, i wasn't really interested in my collection.

And yet, it grows.

When my roommate went on a trip, the present she brought back to me was a hand-carved elephant (with a baby elephant inside! Insane!) I hadn't said anything about my elephant collection to her; she had just seen it in my room and decided to contribute. My mom bought me elephant earrings one year for Christmas. My sister gave me a whole family of bright orange elephant figurines.

But my brother has been the biggest supporter of my collection over the years. A few years ago, just as my collection fever was starting to wane, he gave me an elephant figurine the size of a cat. Then he went on a trip to Luray Caverns in Virginia and brought me an elephant carved of glossy gray stone. When he went to Italy, he brought me a glass elephant. When he went to a toy store, he brought me a plastic elephant.

This past weekend, at my sister's graduation party, Adam brought me a jade elephant. He walked up to the table where i was picking crabs, placed it in front of me without a word, and sat down.
"Oh, wow!" i said, trying to figure out if he was giving it to me or just showing it to me. "This is pretty sweet!"
"Some Asian lady was selling these in the hospital, and it was cheap, so I picked one up," he said nonchalantly, and then started eating crabs. (It was, in fact, a gift for me. Adam is thoughtful and sweet, but doesn't like to actually say out loud anything that might indicate that fact.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dear Amtrak

On the evening of Sunday, June 10th, I went to the Wilmington, DE station to board my 11:36pm train back to Boston. Your website recommends arriving 30 minutes before you are scheduled to board; I was there 45 minutes early. I had already printed my ticket, and I checked the departure board before going to the platform. The board told me my gate, and had the correct time listed for my departure (11:36). By 11:45, I was beginning to wonder if there had been a delay. Although the platform had electronic message boards to alert passengers of any changes in the schedule, I had not seen anything at all about my train. By midnight, I was seriously concerned. I called my father, who went online and discovered that power outages down the line had delayed all trains by at least an hour; my train would probably not arrive until one AM.

The message boards on the platform still said nothing.

Eventually, trains began arriving. However, the message boards were not being updated properly, so they were giving last boarding call fifteen minutes before the trains had even arrived at the station. As you can imagine, this caused some confusion.

I was scheduled to be on the 66 train to Boston. Eventually, a 900-something train pulled into the station. The electronic message boards had no information about what train this was, the conductors announced nothing, and I didn't see anyone to ask. I assumed that my train would be the next one and settled down to wait. A security guard working at the station came to me after the train had pulled out to inform me that that was the last train of the night. I eventually had to pay an extra $69 for a train that left at 4:50 the next morning. I will miss a day of work, not to mention a night of sleep.

I understand that delays happen from time to time, and that they are no one's fault. I understand that there are mechanical difficulties, communications snafus, and any manner of other mistakes that cause confusion. However, it is your job to work as hard as you can to keep all of your passengers informed of any changes in their travel plans. All stations need to be made aware of delays, and need to update their passengers accordingly. When you know that there has been an issue, you need to work extra hard to ensure that everyone knows what is going on. Plans change, and it's not necessarily anyone's fault. That's okay. What is not okay is not telling anyone that plans have changed.

I have been deeply disappointed and greatly inconvenienced by your mistakes this weekend. In future, please endeavor to suck less.

Tired, hungry, frustrated, and broke,
Diana Lark

Saturday, June 9, 2012

playlist ruminations

Some girls, they glow in darkness
But by our standards, that's not much
Some girls, they'd like to win
But instead they'll serve you lunch

I love to travel. I like the inbetweenness of it, the freedom of not really being anywhere. You're departing and arriving all at once. It's so ethereal and poetic. It's also romantic and magical, especially when you're on a train. I watched a lot of old movies/read a lot of British novels when i was a kid. And still do. And always will.

But i can't sleep when i travel. With all the flying i have done, including international flights across oceans late at night, i think i've slept on a plane twice. Once i slept in an airport in Spain, because i was on a layover and was better able to sleep in the tiny airport chair with the janitors walking by than in the airplane. I don't sleep in cars, i don't sleep in trains, i don't sleep on buses.

I don't think i've ever seen the train this full before. Conversely, i've never had so much legroom. I think i accidentally took a handicapped seat.

It's coming up on midnight now, and i'm sleepy and writing and listening to music and doing homework. And staying awake, munching dried mango and sunflower seeds. God, i'm such a hippie sometimes.

That's what takes up time in this life
Add up the sum of the slights
And sooner or later
Love comes inside you
Gets behind you 
Takes you under its wing

It's partly that i'm afraid of someone stealing my things while i sleep. It's partly that transportation seating is generally not as sleep-inducing as my memory foam mattress pad and my warm, cozy boyfriend. It's partly just that i'm enjoying the ride so much.

Of course, i also have massive amounts of homework to do. And i am happily ignoring it all to blog. I am so self-sabotaging sometimes.

We long for journeys and the roadside
We long for starlight and the low tide
Yeah, we long for fairy tales and firesides

But it's also really healthy for me, mentally, to be taking this time. I don't spend much time alone these days. I mean, sometimes John isn't around and i eat and/or sleep alone, and sometimes i'm driving alone or in the grocery store alone, etc. But i don't often take time to intentionally be by myself. When i'm alone, it's usually a fluke: waiting for someone, someone is waiting for me, staying up in the kitchen doing homework while John sleeps.

We long for sunlight on the hillsides
Yeah, we long for yesterdays and hindsight
Oh, we long for fairy tales and firesides

This trip is just me.

Yeah, we long for carnivals and fairground rides
Oh, we long for journeys and the roadsides
Oh, we long for fairy tales and firesides

Friday, June 8, 2012

Jeremiah 15-49

1. Jeremiah 23:23-24
"Am I a God near at hand," says the Lord,
"And not a God afar off?
Can anyone hide himself in secret places,
So I shall not see him?" says the Lord;
"Do I not fill heaven and earth?" says the Lord.

2. Jeremiah 29:7
And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.

3. Jeremiah 29: 11-13
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
NKJV; emphasis mine.

1. Sometimes i do feel almost overwhelmed by the fullness of God. It's rare, because i'm busy and cynical, but there have been moments when the beauty and grandeur and power and presence of God were so overwhelming that i have been brought to tears. There are moments when it seems that there is almost too much God to worship, and i understand why it is that to know God is to fear Him. I understand why we call Him awesome.

2. Jeremiah was written to a people in exile. They had been captured by the Babylonians, and were being held in captivity (again). Yet God tells His people to pray for peace in the city where they were slaves. It's an important message for two reasons: first, focusing your attention outward instead of inward is a good way to distract yourself from your own problems. Sometimes too much inward-looking produces nothing but further anxiety. Second, it's hard to find peace when your environment is chaotic. Praying for peaceful surroundings will make it easier for the Israelites to be at peace within themselves.

3. Those of us who have spent much time in churches (especially youth groups around graduation) have heard some version of Jeremiah 29:11 approximately 43,974,234,544 times. And it is a good one, but it gets trite after a while. I was struck, however, by reading it in context, mostly because the bolded line reminded me of a C. S. Lewis line in The Last Battle. It also reminds me of Matthew 7:7-8, which is also one of the two passages i have chosen to pretty much sum up my theology (not the ice cream one).

Here's what Jeremiah, Jesus, and C. S. Lewis all say to me: those who seek God (truth, goodness, peace, love, redemption, healing, etc.) will find Him. He doesn't play games. Neither does He force Himself upon us. All we have to do is ask, but He does wait to be asked. I often find myself asking several times a day, not because He has moved away, but because i have. I'm fickle and impulsive that way. But He is always there for the asking.

I was once annoyed by some boy who was flirting with me. While i liked him and wanted to flirt back, i wanted to do it on my terms, not his. I was telling a friend of mine about how this boy was trying to get me to meet him somewhere, and i said indignantly, "I am not his beck-and-call girl!"

God has much less pride than i do. He is my beck-and-call girl.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Today is the next to last class i will have to take for my degree (i hope). I'm at work, frantically trying to finish an assessment portfolio for a unit on fairy tales. Yes, fairy tales. Don't you wish i was your teacher? (No, because i'm a tough grader and you don't want to participate in a Socratic seminar on the feminist critique of fairy tales or create a picture book detailing all the graphic violence and darkness in the original tales.)

Anyway, i have this class today and one on Monday, and then i'm done with classwork. I still have observations and student teaching, but i'm essentially done.

I don't have time or mental energy to write much more right now, because i'm still trying to finish this thing, but i just wanted to say that i'm almost done with my M.Ed. And i still don't know if that's the correct abbreviation for it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Reasons to Live With my Boyfriend

I've been posting individual list items on this topic for a while now. Some of them were humorous, but all were serious, in that we both have really terrible roommates.

However, i am currently paying $400/month in rent, and my utilities are only about another hundred. You can't beat that deal in the Boston area, unless you want to live in a rat-infested shoebox in a bad neighborhood. His rent is a little higher than mine, but still pretty good. I recently saw a one-bedroom apartment advertised for $1100/month, not including utilities. Next spring, i will be starting my student teaching, which will involve one whole semester of full-time, unpaid teaching. I'm looking for federal grants and part-time work, but i'll mostly be living off of my savings. Unless i find an insanely cheap apartment (like, less than $500/month including utilities) by September, there's no way i can fork up first/last/security and pack up again. It just won't be worth it.

But the time has come. John and i have reached a place in our relationship where we need more time for one another, need more attention from one another, but we can't always give it. He gets home at 3:00 and spends a few hours doing laundry, or eating, or doing the chores his roommates haven't, or lesson planning. I get home at 5:00 and spend a few hours cooking, cleaning, and doing homework. Once rush hour traffic has settled down, he heads over to my town for a choir rehearsal. Then i head to a 4-hour class. By the time we are both done with our day, all we have the energy to do is fall asleep, so that he can get up at 5:30 and get to school in time.

We see each other almost every day, but we spend very little time together. One of us is always in the middle of something: i am doing homework, or he is paying bills, or i haven't eaten all day and am too hungry to think straight, or he is talking to his parents about his dad's health, or he is looking at apartments and i am doing laundry. Even the weekends are usually filled with all the errands we didn't have time to do during the week.

This is the point in the relationship when most people would get married, but we've only been together 13 months, and we've really only known each other for about 17. We still need to find a church that we can go to together. We still need to finish our masters' programs. Have you ever moved in with someone who was a close friend, and within two months you could barely stand the sight of them? We need to make sure that doesn't happen with us. We've seen many, many, many couples who jumped into marriage, and while they married the right person, their speed put unnecessary strain on the relationship and they are now struggling and doubting. We have the rest of our lives to be married. We can take our time with the steps in between.

In the meantime, we miss each other. We need a mutual place that we can come to. We need to do the hard work of orienting our lives around one another. We need to share the space in the refrigerator, in the closet, in the garage, in the bathroom. We need to spend Saturday morning in bed, snuggling and having tickle-fights, because no one needs to get up and go home to do laundry. The laundry is right here, and we can put a load in the washer and get right back in bed. We need to argue about whose turn it is to buy milk, about which direction to hang the toilet paper, about which dishes go in the dishwasher and which are hand-wash only.
You say that your heart is mine. This, then, is love: i have learned to be at home in you, and in so doing, i have found myself at home in me.

Friday, June 1, 2012


This isn't earth-shattering or anything, so no worries. I just want to let you know (although you'll probably figure it out on your own pretty quickly) that i'm going to change my posting schedule. I have been posting twiceish a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays, with bonus posts when i felt like it. Moving forward, i will be posting thriceish a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with bonus posts when i feel like it.

The Friday posts will be religious/spiritual/faith-based/faith-seeking/Bible-studying/etc. in nature. I'm mostly doing this as motivation for my intentional pursuit of a deeper relationship with Jesus, but also (a little bit) to post more often, because that's a good thing (or so i've been told).

The first of these posts will likely go up next week. Probably. We'll see.