Monday, January 26, 2009

what if

What if?

What if God is a storyteller.

And we are the characters in His story.


Over time, we have turned the story of the cross into a story about us.

A story that centers about us, our lives, our accomplishments, our sin, our need for grace.

We sing about God's love for us.

And His need for us.

And His plan for us.


What if...

we are a part of His story.

A part of His story that He loves deeply.

Characters He has created for His purpose.


This life is very real.

Nothing fictional about it.


But like Don says in Blue,

there is a reason we are drawn to stories.

"And there it was: setting, conflict, climax, and resolution. As silly as it seemed, it met the requirements f the heart and it matched the facts of reality. It felt more than true, it felt meaningful. I was starting to believe I was a character in a greater story, which is why the elements of story made sense in the first place."


Ever since the fall...

we've been pretty selfish.

On small levels.

On epic levels.

And just the idea that we are characters in a story that is not about us,

drives some of us crazy.

Makes us not just a little bit uncomfortable.


Like supporting actors.

The story might not be complete without us.

But our role is not vital.

Not central.

We... you and me... we are not the main character.

We are not the hero.


What if,

God has a specific plan for each of our lives.

But it, the plan, is meant to be interconnected with other plans.

To be a part of the biggest plan.

To glorify God.

The involved Narrator.


The God who opens up the skies and pours rain on the earth.

Who opens up the skies and sends down a dove.

Who looks upon lovers and encourages them...

Who speaks and blinds and raises the dead.


Not just a big Voice from Heaven.

But a God who walks among us.

A hero.


The story is about Him.

And His love.

And His grace.


So when we pray...

when we ask what our purpose is...

what if

it is simply to tell His story?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Suð Í Eyrum

I can hear it.

I feel it.

Like an army of raindrops making their way down a mountain.

Like a thousand rustling leaves.

A single heartbeat.

It is faint.

And there are days when I believe it has died.

But I can hear it.

And there are days my body shakes with it.

It has taken up residence in my chest, coursing to my fingertips, hovering behind my ears.

There are moments when I catch a fleeting glimpse of it.

It is as if...

for one brief moment...

all the world moves in sync.

As if we hear the same rhythm.

And our muscles respond.

And we move.


It is a brief moment.

But it is what feeds hope.

Then the world returns to its chaos.

A song that seems to have lost its cadence.

But I heard it.

And I have felt it.

I live and work for the moment when we move together again.

As one body.

A drum beat...

bare feet hitting the floor...

dust being shaken loose...

ice cracking...

the world will quake.

Some of us have found our rhythm...

I can only describe it has a "sliding into place".

Like a toddler with a puzzle.

We push and move and turn until the piece finds its spot.

Where we belong.

Where we fit.

The body sways.




We move.

Extending our arms, lifting our legs.

We spin in circles with our faces lifted to the heavens.

There is a rhythm.

I hear it.

I feel it.

It is carried to me on the wind.

It rises from the core.

It is elusive.

But it is intrinsic.

It is anticipatory in nature.

It grows.

And weakens.


Requiring participation.

And with a great roar -

A thunderous boom -

We will clap our hands.

The world will move as one body.

In rhythm with one song.

There are days when I feel it.

Days when I hear it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Two Figures

Years ago, we went to Cincinnati to visit a museum. A free museum. With my mom's best friend.

At the time, i couldn't imagine anything more boring. I remember being itchy and hot and my feet being tired. There was a Monet there that year. And all I wanted was to go home.

On Saturday, about fifteen of my friends and I piled in our cars and headed north to Cincinnati again.

It had been a few years.

This time, I was excited.

This time, I couldn't wait to get inside the huge building with tall ceilings and the maze of rooms.

We climbed the road to the museum, alongside Mount Adams, and a skating pond where boys were playing hockey.


We walked into the museum and all scattered, finding the art we loved.


And found ourselves staring at the same painting.


I walked close and then stepped away.

My eyes focusing on the colors, the lines.

My mind focusing on what it was my eyes couldn't see.


Everyone began to whisper.

'This is the most romantic thing I have ever seen.'

I smiled.

Over and over again, I heard it said.

It was a painting of 'a couple who had been together forever'.


I lingered for a while after everyone moved on.

Because in that painting, I could hear the wind blow.

I felt as though I had stumbled upon something secret.

A private moment.

I could hear the trees singing...


Vincent never tells us whether this couple is in love.

Hey never tells us where they are.

Or where they are going.


But somehow we know.


Museums are no longer boring to me.

I don't get tired or itchy or hot.

All I can think about is how one day, a long time ago, someone sat before a canvas.

Someone created the work before me.

From a white canvas.


Someone sat down to tell us a story.


And decades later, I would know the wind was blowing.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

loaf of bread

I walked into my only on-campus class on Tuesday afternoon.

Familiar hallways. Familiar classroom. Familiar, uncomfortable desks.

This is my last semester at this school.

I waited for the professor to show up. I talked to a few people in the class. Anything to break the uncomfortable silence that always falls between new students.

I looked around the room and noticed people. Wondered who would last the semester. Wondered if there was someone in this room that would one day change the world. I wanted to know their names... and I wondered who I'd become friends with by May.

The Carol walked in. Ms. Stiles. She started babbling about how it only took her 15 minutes to get to campus from Hamburg. About cataract surgery. And how next Tuesday we won't have class.

She explained the syllabus. And her attendance policy. Which is, "you get six absences. No more. If you want to take a mental health day, take a mental health day. It's up to you. But six is all you get."

I smiled.

I always worry when I like my professors right off the bat. The pattern has been, the ones I love on the first day, I loathe by midterm, and have taught me more about life by finals than many other people in my life combined.

I like Ms. Stiles.

Here we go.

So she tells us about her 30 years in social work. And about how we are required to have 25 hours of volunteer work for this semester. That teaching Sunday school doesn't count.

I left that class with that feeling in my chest, like my reservoir had just been filled.

I went back to class today. Having had a particularly hard day. I had lost the full feeling. I was empty.





I tried to push my emotions down. Shut them off. Tune into my logical mind. But I am not good at that yet. So I prayed.

Does it make me crazy that I have to pray for protection from myself?

I waited for Ms. Stiles to walk in. She had lost her keys. So she took off her coat. And left again. Only to come back, triumphantly dangling her keys from her fingers.

And so we began.


We all introduced ourselves.

The refugee from the Congo sat next to me.

The Iraq vet behind me.

The little lady from Mexico across the room.

Beside the ex-felon.

And the Vietnam combat nurse.

And the twenty year old with the colored markers.


I sat and listened.

And I felt my tank being filled.

Stories of what they wanted to do with their degree... what led them here in the first place....

And I wondered again if there wasn't someone in this room that might change this city.


Then Ms. Stiles started talking.

"Social workers get dirty".

And she had my attention.

"I start all my students in practicum off with folding clothes. I had a student one year tell me that she wasn't going to school to learn how to do laundry. And I showed her the door. If you are not willing to fold clothes for little kids to wear, I don't want you here."

I almost cried.

Ms. Stiles laughed. "Got it?"

We started talking about LCSW and psychologists and about field work and volunteer time. About how many fields go hand in hand and how people need help from a lot of sources.

"A social worker's job is more about helping people get a loaf of bread than understanding why they don't have that loaf of bread in the first place."

I laughed at this.

Considering the only counselor I know, does both for most of the people he comes in contact with.

"Social workers work mostly with the poor."

"When they have no one else to talk to, we are there."

And then....

"I see a lot of nursing majors come through my door." Ms Stiles smiled. "They say: I HATE biology, I dont know why I chose nursing, I just want to help people. Without biology."

It was as if she had been talking to me. About me.

"I just want to help people."


I left slowly today.

After her announcement that next week we would have a new classroom. OSB 305.

I walked out into the cold and got in my car.

The full feeling had returned.


It might be a stretch to think that a little, middle-class, white girl could cause a lot of change.

And it might be a stretch to think that this is what I will do for the rest of my life.

But this makes sense. On a level that things haven't made sense on in a very long time.

Because I just want to help people.

Sing for those who have no voice.


In twenty years, we will see if I was right. If this is what I was meant to do with my life. There's no way of knowing today.

(And you can remind me of this full feeling when thing get really rough over the next few years.)


I got in my car and remembered Ms. Stiles saying that we would meet in room 305 next week.

And I laughed.

Room 305 in the Oswald Building was where I had my first college class ever.

History 109 with Mr. Hinkle.


Things will end where they began.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I always find myself sitting down to write before the first day of school.

It's a method of marking time.

How I feel today, compared to the end of finals week.

What I know and forget.


This is beginning of my fourth year of college.

I should be almost done.

But I am nowhere close. Nowhere near.

But this is my last first week of school at the community college.

I've been saying that for a year now.

But this time, its real.

This time, I really will never go back.


And I find myself feeling apprehensive.

This is the beginning of the end of my security.

So much of what I know will soon change.

My world... is about to undergo a makeover.

And I am nervous.


I am in a funk.

A winter season.

All the beauty seems to be in hibernation.

All my boldness, all my courage, frozen over.


It is time for a change.

For soil to be turned over.

Progress to be made.


But everything is going to require great leaps of faith on my part.


I'm not saying anything new here.

You sit there, reading, thinking "She's been talking about changing for 21 years now!"

And I have.

I'm a connoisseur of good intentions, of grand ideas, of bold moves.


I collect them.

And look at them.

And they gather dust.

And take up space.


That is bad.


I am being called out.


I was given a book by one of my best friends the other day.

A book that was given to my mother by my grandmother.

The year I was born.

A book that may very well be my saving grace.

A book that has traveled through women's hands for twenty one years, to land in my lap.

The Father's way of saying, "I know what I'm doing with you. Just pay attention."


I pulled out Don Miller the other day.

That's the kind of mood I'm in.


Like Jazz.

A true, free form of self expression is what I am looking for.



I want to play the cello.

No kidding. What would it be like to learn to play music?

I want to dance.

And to continue to run and sweat and work towards a goal.

And I am so sick and tired of sitting here telling you exactly what I want to do and then retelling you and telling you again in a different way.

I'm good at making old ideas sound new.


And I'm done.


Tonight, my heart needs a safe place.

I went to church this morning and cried a few tears.

People are amazing.

That's the greatest lesson I have ever learned.

People were created to be the best creation.

And there are people out there who are the best.

I love seeing that manifested.


But I am in a winter season.

Walking through a dry desert.

I am pleading for spring to return.

For a sweet drink of water.


Maybe I can see the ice beginning to melt,

or an oasis in the distance.

And that is the reason for my state of mind.

I am confused.

And I am lonely.

And I am uncomfortable.


Which means... in my experience...

that when my world finally gets its makeover,

when my life is finally turned upside down,

it will change everything.


So I am headed now, to a safe place.

A place where I tend to hide.

A place where He is calling me to spread my wings, to get my hands dirty.

A place that may hold all the future.

Or just tomorrow.


Oh that I may survive this winter.

I wait for the season of singing...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

a letter...

I am waiting for you.

But somewhere along the way, waiting turned into looking.

Everywhere I go, I expect to see you.

I am anxious to meet you.

I am eager.

I have contemplated every scenario.

Every possibility seems to have entered my imagination.

What you will be like. The way you will smile. What it is that will let me know, I've finally found you.


But if I keep thinking about it...

if I keep expecting and looking and anticipating...

there will be no surprise.

Like watching a pot of water boil.

Or waiting for a flower to unfold.

The mystery is lost... because I am so intently looking.


My heart is lonely for you.

Who I believe you are.

For the life I believe we will lead.


I will continue to wait.

Until you round the corner, or touch my hand for the first time.

I will wait for that day when you first make me laugh.


But I cannot keep looking.

Because I am missing the forest for the trees.

Because when you finally do come, I want it to be a surprise.


Like watching the sun melt into the ocean...

Subtle, maybe.

But not expected.


You are out there.

I believe this with all my heart.


And until our paths converge,

I will be the best woman I can be.

I will live my life the best way I know how.

My prayer is that you would do the same.

So when the Father sees fit to let my river meet yours,

when our rivers become one,

we will live the rest of our lives doing the best we can.

Loving as best we can.


Stronger than we would be on our own.


I need you.

And I am going to continue to pray for you. And want you. And be lonely for you.


But I will not look anymore.


Come, find me.

Say hello.

I will see you then.

Just as my heart has seen you for years...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Who We Are

It is a new year.

Before us lies a blank slate.

The drawing board has been untouched.

The paintbrush is in our hands, the chalk held between our fingers.


Such stark whiteness causes great walls in my mind. Obstruction, found in the purity of nothingness.

I expect to find potential in the starkness. Find hope in the emptiness.

But I am overwhelmed.

With the acknowledgment of my failures. Of my shortcomings.


Because who I am is not who I want to be.


I want to be a woman with a gentle and quiet spirit.

And I want to be brave.

I want to be colorful and my words to be seasoned with salt.

I want to be intriguing.

And captivating.


With the beginning of the year comes potential.

And my greatest fear of inadequacy.

Of being presented with opportunities and chances to change.

To become new.

And not seizing them. Remaining static, remaining the same.


Oh, the Father finds me here.

Reminds me.

For anyone who is in Christ is a new creation.

The old has gone.

The new has come.


I know this truth.

I bear a permanent reminder.


Fear sets like the sun, casting shadows.

I have such a great desire to be so much more than I am.

But I don't even know where to begin.


Where do I begin?

What sets transformation in motion?

The magic word that causes it all to spin?


I have concrete goals for 2009.


But my greatest aspirations are abstract.


So much harder to accomplish.

But everlasting.

So rewarding.


May we find ourselves with new wings this year.

Entering this season with an easy yoke.

With simple answers and hearts full of grace.

Ready and willing to change.

To give up.

To fall.

To rise up again.


Who we are is not who we may be.

For we may all be made new.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A New Year

I am waking up to the third day of the new year.

It is 2009. And I have no idea where the time has gone. How have the days and months flown by so quickly? I am amazed.

I rang in the new year with twenty or more of my best friends, my family. Eating, drinking, dancing, laughing. The ball dropped, pausing an extra second at the end, and most of us experienced the best New Years of our lives.

Then we all went home.

And got together again the next morning. Over coffee and breakfast and silly board games, hanging out in our pajamas. There were a few moments when I looked around and my heart swelled. We will remember days like these for the rest of our lives.

If this is any indication of what the new year will bring, my heart is glad.

Now I am home. And the expected restlessness is setting in. 363 days now ahead of me. And I want to make them count. I want to make progress. To remember them. To grow.

So my new year's resolutions? Things I want to begin, or finish, or create, or accomplish before 2010?

I keep trying to make a list. Why is this not working? This list making thing?

I want to...

1. Cultivate and stumble upon as many full and lively moments as possible.
2. Learn to say hi.
3. Smile. a lot.
4. Have to buy smaller clothes.
5. Meet you.
6. Leave Kentucky.
7. Take the perfect picture.
8. Get a new tattoo.
9. Be more patient.
10. Learn something very interesting.
11. Make As in my classes this semester.
12. Learn not to compare myself to you.
13. Spend time with my sisters.
14. Plant a garden.
15. Run, hard and fast.
16. Get involved.
17. Renew my passport. Even if I don't get to use it.
18. Have a sleepover.
19. Get my own little downtown apartment.
20. Quit my job.
21. Get a new job.
22. Start at a university. The beginning of the end.
23. Research studying abroad.
24. Learn how to knit.
25. Be part of something big.
26. Encourage more.
27. Fix something.
28. Break something.
29. Make something.
30. Do well.

These are just a few things I can think of right now. Goals. Attainable ones.

Last year, we sat at Common Grounds with my Dad on New Years Eve.

He was the only one with a resolution.

It came true this year. And changed all of our lives.

There's power in foresight, in planning.

In letting go of all our plans to let this real thing called life take its own course.

Here's to the beauty of the unknown and all that lies ahead of us.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Resolution

I thought, perhaps, I would sit down and make a list of the things I resolve to accomplish or complete in 2009.

It is about two hours into the new year and I am just not in a list making mood.


What is my new year's resolution?

This year, I will do better.