30 September 2007
Also, I'm working on that "Power of the Gospel" thing. It'll be up tomorrow. I promise.
Yesterday, as I stepped out of the side entrance at church, I was greeted with a surprise. No, it wasn’t a bouquet of fresh flowers, or a puppy, or even a baby left at the church’s threshold. It was rain. More specifically, it was a rainfall that had recently ended. As soon as I stepped out of the door, my thought process went something like: What? It’s wet; maybe the Meals on Wheels people dropped something; oh, it’s wet everywhere; I guess it rained; it wasn’t supposed to rain today was it?; wait, it definitely rained here!
This certainly does not serve as a shining example for my skills of deduction, since it took me a whole six thoughts to decide that yes, the moisture on the ground was definitely caused by a form of precipitation falling from the stratosphere.
What it does serve as is a point of interest: why on earth did I not recognize the obvious? I’ll tell you a secret: I only believed that it had rained once I took a breath in and smelled it. Yes, smelled it. My friends make fun of me because I claim (like any good New Englander) that you can smell snow coming. Maybe they would just make extraordinarily bad New Englanders, or perhaps I just have a superhuman sense of smell and a poor idea of what New Englanders can and cannot do. However, the fact remains that despite all the obvious evidence around me (mainly the fact that there was water all over the ground and its surrounding objects) I didn’t truly believe that it had rained until I smelled it and proved by different means that what I suspected was true.
It makes me wonder. How often do we not see God where He has clearly been?
Sometimes, God’s actions are like the rain on the ground; we see it, we know it’s there, we acknowledge it, but we don’t actually believe that it’s God until we prove it by a different means. People walking away from what should have been a deadly car accident, taking the job that led you to a certain special person, falling asleep in the middle of an all-nighter only to find that the majority of the test is on the one chapter you studied anyway—no matter how trivial it may seem, God is present. It’s just a matter of whether or not we recognize Him.
Do you recognize Him?
Can you smell it?
27 September 2007
Yup, that's it!
Isn't it beautiful?
I'll let you take your time and marvel.
Yes, friends, this is the famed "lump of something that slightly resembles a bowl" that was mentioned previously. This is my glorious creation at the potter's wheel. This, oh ye in awe, is a spoon cozy.
Let me explain: when my attempt at making a bowl or vase or some normal object of pottery failed, I decided that no, I didn't want to get back on the horse and try again, I was going to make this first attempt work! It would be beautiful! It would be practical! It would a place where I could rest my sponge in between uses! It would be, in short, a sponge cozy.
This idea was tossed out the window about 48 hours ago when I was notified that my work of art had been shipped to school--in my zeal to set up my apartment, I had already purchased a sponge cozy...it has suction cups so it hangs out on the side of the sink and is big enough to fit two sponges; a duplex if you will. I couldn't just throw it away, so I had to change roles. This beautiful, beautiful work of ceramic genius would now and forevermore be a spoon cozy...a place to put your stirring spoons whilst cooking so as not to mar any of your kitchen surfaces. Brilliant!
It didn't take one of the fine people in my apartment complex long to point out that it is also the perfect size to hold one singular cookie.
I'll keep you updated on its uses.
26 September 2007
Situation: Last night, I stayed up late and got up early today to study for my Astronomy midterm. I was feeling great...until I walked into the classroom and all knowledge of astronomy (along with any stamina I had) exited my body. I bombed the test, and while I was walking back from class to a sinkful of dirty dishes and an empty fridge in my apartment, the following thought process ensued:
"I can't believe I bombed it...I actually studied for this one, and that turned out to be my downfall...This sucks...Maybe I should have prayed about it...yeah right, like God would give me the answers, when's it ever easy like that?...God wouldn't have failed it, He made the universe...I'm tired. I'm hungry. I didn't get any mail today. I have to do laundry. My foot hurts....::grumble, grumble, grumble::"
Conclusion: I'm probably going to look back on this in a few days and laugh at the utter absurdity of it all, but for the moment it brings up a good point--do we really have to rejoice through everything? I could have stopped my monologue of self pity today and jumped for joy across campus shouting "I'm so glad the Lord is good!!!!" but I didn't. Should I have? Would other people have? Can you honestly say that when the year isn't what you thought it'd be, you just got dumped, you're falling behind at work, you're recovering from a cold, your foot hurts--whatever ails you--that you honestly feel like rejoicing? Even Jesus wept when he found out Lazarus died....
I'd like to think that God was walking beside me (perhaps limping in sympathy) saying "Boy, that test was a beast!" Maybe I can take my shredded cheese and iced tea in the fridge and perform a miracle like the loaves and fishes. Or maybe I'll just take a nap.
25 September 2007
I'm an idea person. Just ask the fine people at Gallup, who last night declared to me (in incredibly tacky language) that I love ideas ("What you can be sure of [in life] is that ideas are thrilling, and most days, that is enough"), I like seeing the context of something ("You look back. You look back because that is where the answers lie...") and that I like to learn ("The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered--this is the process that entices you.") They've basically cracked me open and seen what makes me tick, and that sort of freaks me out. Regardless, I think I'll keep these aspects about myself and use them...here!
This may sound like an incredibly pedestrian concept, but I'll state it anyways: the Gospels are really important in Christianity. Those texts, for all their spin and historical confusion, are the only documents that tell us about the events that we base our faith on, written by people who (at best) were there and (at worst) were a whole lot closer to that time than we are. The Gospels are the angsty Gen-Xers of the literary world, if you will--important, but incredibly misunderstood.
The fact is that the Gospels weren't really written for us. I have a hard time believing that the writer of John sat down at his parchment and thought, "In two thousand years, some young woman will be reading this, and think it's interesting, and write about it in her journal on a worldwide communication platform." Uh-huh. They wrote for that time and for that context, and while that doesn't mean that nothing is applicable to us (I'll cover that topic in a later post), we have to seriously look at what the original context was to be able to truly understand and therefore better apply it to our lives today. See? It's an idea. And it's the past. And it's learning. I love it!!!!
So, my dear friends, I seek to explain the Gospels a little better in this new series entitled "The Power of the Gospel." Stay tuned.
When I was ten, I was obsessed with all things old-fashioned. In my mind, if women did it in the 18th century, then I wanted to as well. And so, one night on the back porch, I begged my mom to teach me how to crochet. How I got it in my head that women sat by the fire crocheting blankets and scarves through the Revolutionary War, I'll never know, but as I said, I was a girl obsessed. Ten years later, I'm still honing my crocheting skill, but I've found that there is a valuable lesson to be learned from the craft--it's okay to go back and fix things.
We live in a culture where success is measured in how quickly things get done--papers, work reports, ATM stops all follow the "quicker the better" mentality. One example: blessed with the ability to make total nonsense sound intellectual and cursed with the bug of procrastination, I've found that I can write my average college paper in about two hours without any drafts. It's quick, it's done, and it's not quite up to where it could be, but perfectly acceptable to 95% of professors nonetheless. For years, my papers have been flawed but quick and my crocheted items have been lumpy and asymmetrical. It wasn't until last night when I unraveled an entire row of the blanket I've been working on that I realized that it's okay to take your time. It's okay to go back and fix things--in crocheting, in papers, and in relationships.
For some reason or another, we all have relationships that have gone awry--with our friends, our family members, and also with God. Somewhere along the line we've dropped a stitch or tangled our yarn and we're too involved in the quest to be the perfect friend/family member/Christian that we've let it go. We've left the perfection for the pursuit. It's okay to go back and fix it. A friend will always accept an overdue helping hand. A sibling will always accept an apology. God will always listen when you pray, even if it's been awhile. It's okay to go back and fix things. So maybe my blanket will be done a bit later than planned, but it will be more beautiful than I ever dreamed if I just take the time to go back and fix its problems. I imagine that's what women in the Revolutionary War did. I think they even had a mantra for it, "Haste makes waste."
23 September 2007
To tell the truth, I feel a little silly for getting so upset about that in this situation. I'm blaming it on the fact that I wrote that blog relatively early in the morning (for me) standing in my friend's kitchen, having not eaten yet, and having not read the rest of the book.
Please allow me to correct myself: according to Carter, John was written to first century Jews to convince them that Jesus is the Messiah. Thus, the most effective way for the writer to do that would be to use Old Testament prophesy and interpret it as referring to Christ. It makes complete sense to me now.
I'm still not a fan of Christological interpretation (if it's not the original intent, of course) but I'd really like to know how other people feel about it. Maybe I'm incredibly unusual and the rest of the world is fine with it, who knows? I'm looking forward to finding out....
22 September 2007
It was amazing.
And from this experience, I have decided that "The Prince of Egypt" (albeit not entirely accurate) is one of the best movies ever. Sure, they ignored that Egyptians and Hebrews probably didn't look exactly alike and therefore Moses' identity crisis in the end of the first act is probably a little out there. Sure, it has a little too much violence for little kids. Sure, it has the world's largest time jump with the Hebrews going from crossing the Sea of Reeds to Moses coming down the mountain with the Ten Commandments in 0.2 seconds. But does that ruin the musical spectacle that is the film? Certainly not!
I urge you to checkitout!
Further proclamation: if "There Can Be Miracles" doesn't put a tear in your eye (or at least give you goosebumps), you don't have a heart...especially after that little girl comes in singing in Hebrew. Oh the cuteness.
21 September 2007
If I may make a few requests regarding comments:
1) Please sign it...with a name or an initial or something, just so a) I know who is reading and b) so if I know you, we can talk about it further (if you so desire).
2) I love getting compliments, really I do, but this isn't meant to be a fan club. If you think a certain post was lovely, that's great! I love feedback. What I love even more though (and what the purpose of this is) is to see that it's making people think. If you agree or disagree with something you read, if it brings up an emotion in you or makes you angry, if it reminds you of something you've read or experienced, I want to know. I'm not one of those people who's easily offended by debates---especially about religion, so please please please with a cherry on top say what you think! I'm also open to topic suggestions. Boy, am I open to topic suggestions!!!
I know it's only been a few weeks, but I'm enjoying blogging, and I'm excited for how it will evolve in the future! Thanks for reading.
20 September 2007
(I'm not as vain as I sound, I promise)
I like to think that for my size I pack a bit of a punch, so when I sat down at the potter's wheel, I felt ready. The clay hit the middle of the wheel with a perfect "splat!" I took my position, cradling the cool mud in my hands, foot at the ready to press the speed pedal. It began to turn. I applied pressure, and then......disaster. This clay was more than I could take. It was the most difficult medium I have ever worked with. When I wanted it to go up, it went down. When I wanted it to get thicker, it got thinner. It was, to say the least, stubborn. And coarse. I'm always up for a little exfoliation, but this was downright absurd. Here's what ended up happening:
Yes my friends, that clay was so stubborn that my then-boyfriend had to intervene. He was the Patrick Swayze to my Demi Moore in "Ghost," sitting behind me to lend a helping hand. I'd like to be able to say that we worked together and make the world's most beautiful vase. I'd like to be able to say that what came from it was a bonafide work of art. That, however, would be a lie. What came from it was a very pathetic looking lump of something that slightly resembled a bowl. I stood defeated. A Renaissance woman I was not.
Being the massive geek that I am, I had a song about clay stuck in my head this entire time. It's sung by a CCM band named LaRue and it says: "Like clay in the potter's hands/ Mold me, mold me...For whatever it takes and whatever the fate/ I'll trust You/ For whatever the cost and whatever is lost/ I'll love You, O Lord"
I don't know if whoever wrote this song ever actually tried pottery, but I like the image. I've heard the analogy of God shaping us like clay before, but I can understand it so much better now. That clay did not want to budge. It was perfectly happy being in a lumpy little buldge, thank you very much, and it did not want to be formed into something more beautiful. That sentiment hits a little too close to home. I'm perfectly happy the way I am, thank you very much, and I'd rather not change into something that's more beautiful to God---especially if that means a sacrifice or some sort of pain. I'm coarse and difficult and resistent, and while I'm sure that God doesn't need anyone to sit behind Him to add some weight to His hands, I'm sure He gets frustrated sometimes. I'm sure I end up looking like a pathetic excuse for a bowl.
So maybe this week I'll try to be a little more open to being formed. Maybe if I talk to the clay it'll agree, too....
It’s the handprint bit that really got me.
It’s so true!
Think for a second about, say, the five most important people in your life. Haven’t they all left a handprint on your heart? I can definitely see where my family and loved ones have left their handprints. I would even go so far as to suggest that everyone in your life leaves at least a tiny fingerprint of influence. And wouldn’t you know it, prints of all kinds (hands, fingers, toes, even your tongue has its own print!) are all unique. Every person who is important to us has left a unique stamp on who we are, changing us “for good,” as the song says.
But what about the One who actually made that heart that has so many handprints on it? Indeed, God’s handprints are all over my heart alongside my family and friends’. And why wouldn’t they be? After all, He’s the one who “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). Indeed, I can see God’s unique handprint on my heart even more than anyone else’s—in events in my life, in shining moments of faith, and even in the fact that I can find a connection between God and a musical about the mystical land of Oz. He must have been in a fine mood the day He made me--couch jumping, lip synching and all.
16 September 2007
I must admit that I've been ensnared by the fable as well.
You can check out the whole story here but the general gist is that there's a poor fisherman who finds a stranded crane one day, takes it in, and nurses it back to health. When it's healed, it flies away. A few days later, a beautiful woman comes knocking on his door, they fall madly in love, and get married. One problem: they're poor. She has a solution: let me make you some beautiful blankets to sell, and then we'll have enough money, all you have to promise is never to look at me while I'm making them. He promises, she weaves, and they become rich...but the fisherman also becomes greedy, forcing her to make more and more blankets so they can get more money. She falls ill and gets more and more sick, but that doesn't stop him. One day, he breaks his promise and walks into the room while she's weaving the blankets. There, he sees the crane, pulling her feathers out to make the beautiful blankets. When she sees him, she flies away, never to return again.
Heartbreaking, isn't it?
She loved him so much that she literally put pieces of herself into making it work, and he was blind to her illness and unappreciative of her sacrifice. I know that Jesus said that "there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15:13 NLT), and certainly she fulfilled this(!), but what happens when it's not a two-sided road? What would Jesus have to say if the proverbial "one's friends" didn't appreciate the "one's" sacrifice?
I have the sneaking suspicion that he would say "Well, my dear, that's life."
Think about it: the disciples sort of freaked out after the Crucifixion. I'd be super interested to know what they did on Holy Saturday before the women went to the tomb, more than just a sentence telling me that they went into hiding or something. What was going through their minds? Did they appreciate the sacrifice that had been made only a day before? Or were they let down, so sure that their hopes had been forever diminished?
What was the husband in the fable thinking? Did he lament over a loss of revenue or the loss of the purported love of his life?
I feel like this story tells so much about human relationships, albeit cynically. However, showing it in contrast to Jesus and the Disciples sort of gives me hope--in this case, the crane came back, fully forgiving the ones who didn't appreciate the sacrifice.
Way to go, The Decemberists.
15 September 2007
In my John class we're reading "John: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist" by Warren Carter, and reading it has brought up a bit of a sore spot for me: Christological interpretation of the Old Testament. Carter states, "For John's gospel, the correct and distinctive way of interpreting [Old Testament Scriptures] is to read them in reference to Jesus." I understand that this is the way that the writer of John interpreted Scripture (which only comprised the Hebrew Bible at the time), but does that mean that the rest of us should too? Does a Christological reading (that is, reading the Old Testament looking for references to Jesus) pay proper homage to Old Testament writers and themes?
...more to come...
14 September 2007
There’s just something about them. Despite what science says about nearly spherical globules of gas contained in a liquid, I hold that bubbles are really little pockets of joy. Think about it: what’s the first thing you want to do when presented with a fresh roll of bubble wrap? Why, pop them of course. The world is full of proof that bubbles are responsible for a fair percentage of human joy: the soft drink industry makes billions every year for their bubbly beverages, bubble tea is the newest craze amongst many college students, and what trip to a restaurant would be complete without hearing a joyful youngster blowing bubbles into their drink in the booth behind you? Bubbles can save your life, too! Ask any surfer what to do when caught underwater with no idea of what way is up—blow bubbles, they’ll always rise to the surface of the water. Even the introverted take joy from bubbles—personal space bubbles, that is. Yes, sir or madam, bubbles really are the source of all joy.
And God made them too.
The same God that made that magnificent sunset over the southern Pacific also made the tiny bubbles that we so enjoy, especially in the summer. Tell me one thing that feels better than a flying leap into a cool lake on a blistering hot day. That blissful sensation of the bubbles from your impact making their way up to the surface of the water, skirting along your body on their quest for freedom can’t be beat. God made them as much as He made lions and mountains and any other sort of thing that strikes awe into our hearts. So often we put God in a box—a big one with bright colors and incredible dimensions. But very often, He’s also in a teeny tiny box, or in this case a nearly spherical globule of gas. Either way, He’s pretty amazing.
13 September 2007
Snap! Crackle! Pop!
Late last night, while encumbered by daily prompt writer’s block, I took a trip downstairs to the kitchen to find solace in my good friends Snap, Crackle, and Pop. No, I’m not referring to any joint problems in my young age; I’m referring to the cartoon pitchmen for Rice Krispies. For as long as I can remember, Rice Krispies have held a special place in my heart. Many different breakfast cereals do: my Grampa always had Shredded Wheat in the mornings with dry oatmeal on top, Froot Loops were the best (and deliciously forbidden) choice at Grammy and Grampa’s house, and Raisin Bran is my Grandpa's favorite morning meal. Call me sentimental, but Rice Krispies beat them all.
When I was little, my mom would pour me a bowl in the morning, sprinkle some sugar on top, and pour on the milk. Here’s where the crucial moment lay: right after the milk was poured, we’d both lean toward the bowl and listen. I’m fully aware that most people actually eat their breakfast cereals, but Rice Krispies are different. Rice Krispies talk. Seriously. Ask my mom. Every morning, after that last drop of milk had escaped the container, we’d listen and I’d ask her to translate what the Rice Krispies said that morning. They were a very chatty bunch. Sometimes it was “Good morning!” or “Good morning, sleepyhead” if I’d had some trouble waking up, and once I even remember them singing “Happy Birthday.” Lest you worry that children in Africa went without food while I sat merely listening to mine, I am happy to report that after hearing what they had to say, I always chowed down, albeit a little guiltily, since consuming that which has just spoken to you is a little cruel. Nowadays, Special K has replaced Rice Krispies as my morning ritual, but every once in awhile, when I’m at school and feel homesick, I’ll pour myself a bowl and listen. The effect is definitely lost in the middle of a raging college dining hall full of noisy twentysomethings complaining about unfair professors and making plans for that night in lieu of studying. With all that noise around me, I can’t hear the snap, crackle, and pop of the cereal. I can’t hear what the Rice Krispies are saying.
Here’s the God connection: He is often the voice of the Rice Krispies, getting lost in the milieu of the dining hall. When we’re younger, it’s not so difficult to spend some time every morning listening to that still, small voice in the middle of the quiet kitchen. As we get older and more and more noise gets in the way, it becomes harder to hear. That doesn’t mean the sound stops, it’s just being overpowered in the dining hall. All we have to do is take a step out and listen. The Rice Krispies are still crackling, God is still talking.
I wonder if they ever talk to each other….
12 September 2007
It gets me thinking.
Why didn't God create the God Signal?
Why can't we just shine a flashlight with a cross or a Bible or an Arc of the Covenant sign on the clouds and wait for Him to show up? "God, I need you, come sort this out, will you?"
That'd be convenient...and entirely lazy.
Yesterday was crisis day.
Come to think of it, this entire week is crisis week.
Pretty much all of my friends and I are in dire need of a God Signal.
Example: Karen* was not doing well. Suffice it to say that a potential gentleman suitor was not acting very gentlemanly, and she was not happy about it. When she messaged me, I was in the middle of my own personal pity party over my crisis, but as soon as I realized how upset she was, I grabbed a sweatshirt, threw on some flip-flops and tossed some pudding cups in my bag. This was definitely a time for chocolate, and since they were 100-calorie cups, there would be no guilt. It was the perfect remedy.
When I arrived at the scene of the crime (here's where if this were a comic, it would say "...and the hero arrives..." on the top), I found that pudding wouldn't cut it. This was serious. Her God Signal was definitely shining. We took a trek to our favorite cafe for lunch ("Our hero knew just what to do!"). As we took turns lamenting our problems, we ordered something new and exciting--two pear and brie sandwiches. To the culinarily uncultured, this may sound disgusting. To those in the know about cheese, it sounds like heaven. To you I say: yes, my friend, it was. As soon as we took our first bites, Karen and I looked at each other in relief. All problems were solved--ungentlemanly gentleman suitor who? The day was saved ("...and the hero goes running off into the sunset, waiting for next week's adventure!")
I don't pretend to think that it was me who saved the day--it was all God, who just chose to work with me. Rather, I finally chose to work with God. As unbelievably convenient as it would be to have God float down on a cloud and fix everything in our lives, it probably won't happen. And it's probably that way for a reason. Karen's God Signal was up. So was mine. We saw that in each other, and by helping each other through it despite our own problems, we were Christ-like to each other. I'd imagine that's why God made it that way--to force us to act on our beliefs as a community of believers. He's tricky that way. It reminds me of that verse where (I think) Jesus says, "Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, so shall I be there as well."
*--names changed to protect the innocent and potentially embarassed
11 September 2007
This morning, a beautiful baby girl was born to two of my favorite people of all time, Professors Peter and Genevive Dibley. Her name is Langsea Sophia Dibley, and she's 7lbs, 6 oz, 21 inches long.
I'm super excited.
Pictures and stories are soon to follow.
10 September 2007
The Spot Under the Covers
I did not want to get out of bed this morning.
It’s not that my situation in life was unbearably undesirable or that I was dreading my workday. In fact, other than the nightmare I had right before I woke up, all was well; my fish was throwing pebbles against the side of his tank, persistently reminding me of his hunger, the sun was shining, and I had found that perfect spot under my covers.
That was the problem. I had found that perfect spot under my covers.
You know the spot I’m talking about—the covers draping perfectly with enough excess room above your legs for movement in their pleasant cocoon but not low enough to feel constricting, that perfectly warm temperature that’s neither too hot nor too cold radiating up to the edge of the blankets. It’s a phenomenon that occurs maybe once every two months in my life, and I try to relish it as much as physically possible when it happens. It’s a wonderful feeling, perhaps even bordering on divine, and this morning it got me thinking about God.
There are numerous ways that God is represented in the Bible—a storm by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21), a shepherd (Psalm 23:1-3), a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12-14), a dove (Matthew 3:16-17). I don’t aspire to put myself up there with Biblical authors, but I would suggest another, more modern day, representation of God: the perfect spot in the covers. Just as God was a leader when He showed Israel the way through the desert in the pillars of cloud and fire or a protector when He fights off the proverbial wolves as a shepherd, He’s also a presence to rest in. He’s that perfect draping blanket with the perfect temperature. Ecclesiastes tells us that there’s a time for everything—to live, to die, to tear down, to build up. Just as there are times when God needs to be a warrior and fight for His people, so also there are times when He will provide comfort and shelter for them—when He’s the perfect spot under the covers.
I suppose I should get out of bed and get started on my day. I’ve had my rest. And besides, my fish needs to be fed.
A better term would probably by My Experiment: can I actually find enough pithy commentary in my daily life to make a blog worthwhile? What's more, is it pithy enough to make other people want to read it?
My grand vision is that this blog would be a place for reflection on the day's events, but also an outlet for theological thoughts of the everyday variety. It's no secret to anybody in school that we often get so caught up in being students that we forget to apply what we've learned; this blog should be my individual remedy to that malady. And I promise it won't be preachy. Or boring. Or whiny.
We'll see how it works out, shall we?
And for the record, it's properly pronounced "Bible-Loo-Hoo." Get it? Good.