all penalties need a handbell.


Today’s post is dedicated to my lovely stand partner in my church handbell choir, who faithfully turns the pages and laughs at the stupid wisecracks I make every Wednesday night.  Did I mention she likes my blog too?  What a woman.  Here’s to you, Dawn!  Go to dark Gethsemane… again… and again…  (no one else will understand that, but you can just resign yourself to that)

I’ve had a post-it by my bedside for the past couple weeks, where I write down various things that pop into my head at night when I’m trying to go to sleep.  Or when I’m trying to have my quiet time with God in the mornings.  A quick note jotted down on the post-it, and I am free to resume sleeping, praying, or reading.  This week I’ve been keeping track of the things that I wanted to blog about, which are: all my love, needing a penalty box, and handbells.  Let’s start from the end and work our way through these completely unrelated topics.

handbells

This is not my handbell choir.  It’s the Warrenton Handbell Choir, whose picture conveniently came up when I searched, “handbell” on Google images.  My handbell choir is just as good-looking however, even if our bells aren’t quite so big.  We don’t wear matching green attire, but we do have theses really neat page lights that look like antennae.

Each Wednesday at 8:50 pm, I walk into our church’s sanctuary, usually having already gotten ready for bed since I won’t get home til after ten.  Dawn’s usually already at the table, getting her black gloves on when I come in.  I wear no makeup, my retainers are already in, and my hair is usually the way I put it up to wash my face.  But she always greets me as though it makes her day to see me.  Then we muddle through our songs for an hour and sometimes crack jokes with my mom, who stands just one place away.

and that, folks, is handbell choir.  A relatively unique experience for an 18-year-old.

Now, on to:

penalty boxes

I went to my first hockey game last week, which happened to be a Wild game where they won in a shootout.
image

That happens like twice a season, I’m told by my hockey-savvy friend.  Anyways, one of my favorite parts of the game was something similar to a timeout.  Maybe you’re familiar with this, but let me narrate for you what happens.

These big boys in lots of pads have quite a bit of drive to win, and they also may have some anger issues.  So, when the guy on the other team is trying to shoot a goal or something, sometimes players have to get a little rough.

And sometimes the refs don’t like that.

So, they put the big boys with lots of pads in a box.

Yes, a box.  They put them in the penalty box and set the timer for a certain amount of minutes so these big boys can cool off and think about what they’ve done so they don’t overheat and melt the ice.

And when I got home, I was thinking about how sometimes I really need that.  I remember vividly being sent to my room when I was younger, where I would sit and cry for shame of getting sent to my room.  Or I would fume and cry about being unfairly punished.  Then, once I had become properly penitent, I would yell, “can I come out now?!?” repeatedly until someone replied.  I think I need self-inflicted timeouts, time in my own little penalty box.

Or maybe I should just spent more time thinking before I speak or act.  That may be more of my problem, my rapidity of speech.  Either way, I liked the idea of sitting in a little glass box, where you can still see what’s going on, but you can’t affect it.  You just are to sit and think about what you’ll do next.  Maybe why you shouldn’t give other guys really hard shoves, or, in my case, why I shouldn’t say harsh things or be judgmental.

Penalty boxes.  Timeouts.  The people who came up with those are to be commended.

ALL MY LOVE

This week at night church, our worship leader recounted one of the most profound conversations I have ever heard in my whole life, one he had with his mentor about the verse in the Bible that says, “Love the Lord your God with all you heart, and all your mind and all your soul, and all your strength.”  I’ve heard people talk about this before, but the simplicity and profound nature of this conversation just threw me for a loop and made me marvel one again at my God.

Their conversation went like this:

mentor: what do you think the most important word in that verse is?

mentee: love.

mentor: I think it’s all.

——————————-

mentor: is your love perfect?

mentee: no.

mentor: isn’t it amazing that God wants all of it?

This is the part where I step back mentally, drawing in a slow breath as I think about that again.  I’ve heard time and time again in my Christian circles that God wants me, all of me, just as I am, because he loves me so much.  Then I think about the way I love people, sometimes half-heartedly, sometimes with reservations, sometimes with irritations, sometimes without much commitment, sometimes not genuinely, but always imperfectly.  Then I think about my love for God, though I love Him all the time, my love doesn’t always translate into action.  And sometimes it gets a little cold or lukewarm, like that dish that you heat up in the microwave but forget about so it gets soggy and gross.  And sometimes it looks like falling asleep while I’m talking to Him.  But even through all of that, He doesn’t say, “oh you keep some of that.  It’s a little ugly and not up to par with what I think I should get.”  He doesn’t reject my affection or my devotion.  He doesn’t tell me that I need to clean myself up before I try to love Him.  He doesn’t demand that my weaknesses become obliterated before I try to serve Him.

He just asks for all.  Give me all.

And my remaining thought is still, why?

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Training.


For some reason, this morning as I dropped my favorite bar of soap and lost it in the shower, I thought to myself, I should blog about this later. Then once I actually woke up, I realized how dumb that was.
Blogging about soap. What’s next, furniture or kitchen appliances?
good grief.
No, the actual topic I want to ponder today is this: why are there so many trains in my life these past couple days?
Sunday: stopped at the train tracks on the way to and from my friend’s house, incidents more than five hours apart. That’s two train incidents. In one day.
Then today, on my way home from my nanny job, I was stopped by another train! That’s three in two days.
You might say I’m reading into the circumstances of my life a little too much, but I think there’s something significant in the excess of trains.
Trains make me pause, to wait a minute before charging on with my life. If I charged on in spite of the train, I would most likely lose my life. Maybe God’s been protecting me from things that could have happened if I was not stopped by that train. Collisions, sightings, gunshots, or other dangerous and/or threatening things.
Or maybe it was so that I’d hear just one more song on the radio before I got out of the car.
Or to just so that I would stop.
Or to give me a picture. This is likely since I am a visual person. Trains are going somewhere on a track. One car follows another to reach their journey’s end. They transport. They have graffiti all over them. They have cabooses which signal the end of a wait.
I usually get to the train with maybe fifteen cars to go. Maybe I need to end something, or perhaps the wait is about to be over for something else. Maybe it’s a reminder to be patient, because I never know when the train is about to end.
That really is true. Trees always mask the end of a train in our area, so I just have to sit and be patient. When the boys I nanny are in the car, they like to count the cars. It’s a painful wait sometimes, since I lack patience. And sometimes I’m just anxious, concerned that I’ll be late or miss something valuable because of the train.
But maybe the train is intentional.
I don’t think I’ve been seeing the waiting in my life as a train. I’ve been seeing it as a wall. A brick wall. Not only do I not know when it’s going to fall down, but maybe I don’t believe that it ever will. Or maybe I’m going to try to knock it down myself.
I need to see these waits as trains. If I try to move the train before it has gone by in its own time, I will get smushed on the tracks. But I can believe that the train will move. It will go on to reach its destination, leaving me free to reach mine.
Onward.

Thoughts of the very late evening.


The last few months of my life just flashed before my eyes. And they were April, May, and June 2012.
This is going to sound so stupid,
but for about ten minutes, I imagined that I was dying.
It all started when I was getting ready for bed and saw some dark purple spots on the sides of my neck that looked a little too much like bruises. Instantly I thought of the part of My Sister’s Keeper where they find the bruises all up and down their daughter’s spine. And, of course, that made me jump to the worst possible conclusion.
I have leukemia.
Now, I don’t actually have leukemia or cancer or any sort. I just have a wildly overactive imagination that immediately chooses the path of the worst case scenario to think about.
So, there I was, taking a bath and thinking what if the purple spots don’t come off? What if I get out of this tub, look in the mirror, and see them, still there?
Then I pictured myself going to my doctor, feeling scared stiff. When they sent me the postcard for my 18-year-old checkup, I should have gone.
They put me in one of those paper gowns and have me breathe deeply while they place a stethescope on my back. Then they draw blood (which I lay down for, since I am prone to fainting) and tell me that they’ll let me know the results in a couple days.
The way this horror fantasy ends, I have to spend days and weeks in the hospital while I go through unsuccessful treatments.
I know this sounds like the dumbest thing to think about, the most unproductive use of brain cells, to worth about something so unlikely. (By the way, the purple spots washed right off.)
But it got me thinking, what do I want to do before I die?
And I’m not going to tell you all of it, because it just might involve you, telling one of you things I was too afraid to say in life – you know, the things that you really should say, but since you actually have to see the person day in and day out and you’re not sure of their response, you hold it in. There were a lot of those type things: apologies to voice, love to share, people I want to share about my relationship with Jesus with… and then there’s the dream of having something published that is widely circulated. I realized that if I got to do a Make-A-Wish, I would ask to write something for the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, something groundbreaking, giving a voice to someone who has never had one before. My heart beats faster just thinking about it.
It’s so clichè to say that I want to live like I’m dying. And I actually don’t. I want to live life fully, but doing hard things and meaningful things even though I’ll still be around for the effects, backlash, or whatever comes from it. I want to live a John 10:10 life. Jesus came so I could live life fully. So fully, I shall live.
Look out, world.

Targetting and attractions.


Have you ever experienced that awkward moment when you are at Target and don’t expect the bathroom door to be quite so resilient against your push? So when the door doesn’t swing wide open like you expected it to, and it opens just barely wide enough for you to squeeze yourself through, you find yourself feeling as though anyone who can see you thinks your trying to be sneaky?  I had that experience today. Maybe I’m the only one who has ever been so unfortunate as to misjudge a door’s weight.
I was targetting a wider entry point, but instead I got a sliver of opening to slide through.
Oh, Target.
Today was a day of many small purchases. After my mom treated Brooke and me t
o spring break pedicures, we popped over to Tuesday Morning to just see what they had.
I wasn’t expecting to find anything super exciting. But I walked out if there with a shopping bag containing two Chinese-printed coffee mugs and a little jar of buttons.
I don’t even understand why I was so attracted to those things. Well, I sort if understand. The mugs had a similar print to some dishes that my grandma has in her house in Bartlesville, ones that I love using when I go visit her. The buttons? Well, I guess I thought there might be something creative I could do with them. So I followed my strong attraction to them and made the purchase.
Then, when I got home, Pinterest helped me to figure out what they would become. After it’s all finished I’ll post pictures.
Maybe this is just me, but my decision-making process when I’m shopping has a lot more to do with emotions and instinct (and price tag) than it has to do with logic.  If there’s a really strong attachment to something, I only use logic to rationalize the purchase or to dissuade myself from borrowing $309 from my mom for the beautiful dress I found. (Though that was a completely hypothetical example, I do tend to have expensive taste in clothes. But then again, I also have patience to look through clearance racks).
No, I usually go with my gut as long as my gut is being reasonable about price and as long as whatever the item is will fit in my room. And today, my gut said buttons. And Asian mugs.
I like that.
The spontaneity and small bit of happiness that comes from spending $7 on slightly frivolous yet also slightly useful items is just plain fun. Not that all of life needs to be fun or happy. But when it can come at such a small price, it’s nice.
I also get joy from smiling at people. Or when I see people I know in Target – and one of them tells me she likes reading my blog :). Or when I get a handwritten letter in the mail that isn’t a cleverly disguised piece of college mail.
So many thing to be thankful for.
Still working on coming up with a name for my phone.
The contenders thus far: Gwenyth, Dotty (because of her polka dot case), Twila, Zeke, Jeffery, and Newton.
Suggestions?

Words I like.


Trying to remember how Photo Booth works…

Oh, right.  We just press the button in the middle.  This, folks, is my new phone.  He/She will be helping blog on-the-go (apparently mobiley isn’t a word) and helping me moderate comments faster!  Hooray!

He/She needs a name, however.  And I would like to request your help in naming him/her.  It’s just so boring to refer to it as “my phone.”  And I want him/her to be personalized, to have a gender, to be my friend.

Suggestions thus far: Gigi (since she’s a samsung galaxy s2 skyrocket), my mom suggested naming her after the female astronaut…. but then we couldn’t remember her name, Charles – after my favorite author

That’s all I’ve got so far.  Comment with your suggestions and why you think it fits!

I’ll leave that alone for now.

I was in church yesterday – twice, which makes me a super-Christian, obviously – and during the evening service, I kept hearing words that I liked.  Maybe you can relate to this, hearing a word and thinking ooooh, yes.  I like that one. Because of meaning or sound, or how people never use it.

Some of these words for me are:

authentic – because it means real, and because it makes me think of being in an antique shop or art gallery. (post coming on church with.us  about that!)

submerged – because it gives me a picture of coming out of a swimming pool as kid.  Being completely soaked, dripping water all over everything while I looked for my towel.  Also, it brings back fond memories of vacations and summers spent at the community center pool without a care in the world.

intentional – because it indicates purpose

uncommon – because that’s what I want to be.

I particularly love the last one.  Every time someone uses it, I feel my heart pound a little harder, like I know it’s my calling to be uncommon.  The word common just has such negative connotations for me, thinking about things that are called common: houseflies, the flu, cold, man, wealth of the bahamas…  Other than the commonwealth of the bahamas, those are all pretty undesirable or negative things.  Uncommon connotes creativity and ingenuity and innovation.

I think I would like that to describe me.  Feel free to use it if it applies.

How to get blueberry stains out of car upholstery.


My most sincere apologies to those of you who waited around for a post about pie on Wednesday.  I wanted to post it, but each day I tried to, there was so little time at home, and none of that was intended for blogging.

So the whole thing started with pre-made crust, something I would normally not do, but since I had actual calculus homework and a test the next day – this was just an extra nerdy part of calculus, not graded… – I forwent the homemade crust.

But I did make the filling from scratch, using lovely frozen blueberries.

And made the top look pretty by weaving the crust strips.  (My mom likes to remind me of how I used to call them “dough straps” when I was younger and would watch her make pies.)

Then I sprinkled a little Cinnamon Sugar on it from Penzey’s (nothing less than the very best in the organic spice world) and put the beauty in the oven.

We celebrated pi day quite well.
Minus the fact that the blueberry pie threw up on the seat of my car on the way to school. So, after I gave it a good four days to seep in, I grabbed my Spot Bot, and we went to clean Audrey.
It worked.
So now it’s just a beautiful day, one where there is hope for me to abandon the paleness of my skin.
That’s what you’re supposed to do in spring break, right? It doesn’t matter than I’m not in Mexico, Hawaii, or Italy. I can change my skin pigment right here at home. Slowly but surely, with this strangely warm and beautiful weather, I will use these weak northern rays of sun to my advantage.
Ah. The smell of spring. The feeling of sunshine on my arms and legs so long shrouded by layers of fabric. No more. It’s time to smell the flowers even though they make me sneeze because the simple action is a time to pause and breathe in something wonderful. To renew.
That will be my theme this spring break, renewing. Breathing deeply, enjoying the little things, spending time with my sister, reading my Bible, and getting filled up.
Recharging batteries. And I guess ill be productive on the side. Like cleaning Audrey. I guess cleaning fits in with the theme of renewal. Getting stains out of my life, getting clothes up off the floor, doing laundry, taking a deep breath, and making things as good as new.
The whole week is ahead of me. Here. We. Go.

Bulbs, circles, and Philippians 1:6


I’ve been noticing some common motifs in my life lately. And here they are: circles, burned out light bulbs, and Philippians 1:6.
Such random things, which makes me think that the repetition is significant. That I should pay attention.
Circles- people keep talking about circles. Drawing social circles wider so that more people fit. It wouldn’t be so strange if it hadn’t been happening for the past few weeks, in places where I am the only common denominator.
That’s got me thinking: who have I put outside my circle? In my own self-righteous way, I’d like to think that l don’t even have a circle, that it’s an open shape with room for all to enter. But that’s just not true. I have my circle of acceptance. And I put some in my circle of disapproval. And some in my circle of disdain. And some in my circle for people who are not my idea of normal.
I can see some of their faces in my mind now. Gosh. What am I doing? There have been so many times in my life where I have been in someone else’s circle of __________. How heartless am I to put someone else into the same position?
Circles. Need widening. Need to merge.
Another theme is burned out light bulbs. I’ve had two burn out in my room. One was about a month ago, at my bedside table. I think I keep the lightbulbs in a drawer in my desk, but I just keep forgetting to check. Then yesterday, when I turned on the Chinese paper lantern that hangs in my room, the light bulb flashed and died. Needless to say, I have not yet replaced that one either. The funny thing about burning out lightbulbs is that they always flash really brightly right before they run out of incandescence.
I’m almost out of time to be a high school student. Maybe this is the word picture I need to keep in mind, to- as Switchfoot puts it- “burn out bright”. To flash God’s light brightly throughout my spheres of influence before I leave them.
The last motif I’ve been noticing is Philippians 1:6. I think I’ve hears people bring this up at least three times in the past two weeks, in various places that I’ve been.
“being confident of this, that He who began a good work In you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
He’s not finished with me yet. My circles need widening, my light should be brighter, I should be less cranky and crabby to my parents, my attitude should reflect the change in my heart, hard work should not be daunting, I should serve more readily, my heart should have Jesus on the throne all the time.. Dot dot dot. The list can go on and on. And it does. No doubt there is much to improve, much to make right, much to change. But He’s not finished with me yet. I am a work in progress, a piece of work (double meaning intended) in the process of being made beautiful and right. I’m not a fully baked pie yet. I’m not a finished sculpture. I’m a half-written novel.
But I am confident of this, He will carry me to completion. He’s not going to leave me here, half-finished. What glory would He receive for that?
He will continue the good works He has begun.
Amen.
Another circle that had to do with today was pie. And I’ll post about that tomorrow, with pictures.

Strange apparitions of the afternoon


I just had one of the strangest dreams ever had during my Sunday afternoon nap.
So, naturally, I’m going to recount what I can remember to you. I only remember parts of it, but I faintly discern that the part I don’t remember well had something to do with getting mad at my mom for waking me up and a Culver’s in the Panama Canal to which I swam.
You’re starting to get the idea that I’m insane, aren’t you?
I literally woke up fifteen minutes ago, and a recent conversation with a fellow strange-dream-haver inspired me to write down some keywords so that I can document it for the whole world to read. How nice, right?
The part I can still picture began in a little bar. By little, I mean maybe ten feet long and three feet wide. There was no bartender or behind-the-bar area, and the walls were yellow and dirty-looking. Of course, in dreams, you can’t always control what your character does. It’s like a faulty video game. So I’m staring down the empty side of the bar out the door. I’m sure I wasn’t drinking because I was just a tagalong, and underage! My aunt and uncle (who just left us this afternoon after a lovely three day visit) were talking to my parents behind me about coming to see them.
My uncle was telling them about a hotel (which, oddly enough, I could see as he spoke about it.) where we could stay when we went to visit them in Texas. “its kind of rustic and not everything matches. But if you don’t like it, you can stay in a lower cabin down the road.” (they were like little cabins, precariously, vertically stacked, one on top of the other.)
As I sat there, his words faded away, so I guess they must have left me. (why would they leave me alone in a dirty bar?) Then I saw some big guys (reminiscent of the scene in the Snuggly Duckling in Tangled ) come and stand in the doorway, which, apparently was my cue to leave. I don’t remember walking through the door, but all of a sudden I was outside, watching a Claymation couple -where the woman was less than half the size of the man- kiss outside the bar.
Transportation is strange in these unconscious visions, isn’t it? Because I somehow ended up at my high school – which looked much older, scarier, bigger, and dirtier than my actual, lovely place of learning- for a musical practice. And what better musical to put on than High School Musical ? As we rehearsed a dance number, I remembered that Zac Efron was coming to be a guest performer in his original role as Troy… And what do you know? I, a tall blonde girl, would play Gabriella!
This sounds like it could end well, but don’t get too excited.
Apparently, Meghan Fox was there as well, playing in some minor role. The bane of every real girl’s existence. I haven’t met a single female who likes or respects her for any reason. So, of course, when Zac arrives for rehearsal -late- he heads straight for her. Even though I’m definitely playing his love interest! This dance number called for the group to be laying on the floor – almost like a bomb had gone off in the area- so in that low position I decided that I would protest Meghan Fox and leave.
I had to return some props first, so I had to sign in this basket that was my only prop, and I ran downstairs to a creepy pool room. I came to the end of the stairs, and the “pool” was in an ‘L’ shape in the corner. The water was thick and actually aqua colored with a little yellow around the edges. And it was opaque.
I think I had the feeling that I was being chased at this point and not by Zac Efron, so my panic was growing as I thought I saw something move in the water. Two young girls came down the stairs and – despite my protests- hopped straight into the murky depths.
Then they didn’t come back up for like 5 minus, and when they did, it was actually five girls. And they were my friends. One of them gave me a note partially written on pink doily-type paper, partly on a tissue.
But I never found out what the note said, because then I woke up.
Feel free to psychoanalyze me. I’m fairly certain that something is very wrong here.
On the up side, I got to eat a brownie and take a nap. And I get to go to church tonight.

Your typical spring/new beginnings post. or maybe not.


Drip. Drip. Drip.

frozen for so long,

ice and snow explodes

into a river,

flowing down my street.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

picking up debris

as it flows.

not a clean melt.

it wets my feet.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

like an awakening

bursting out of deadness

into new life

with a new beat.

the pulse goes drip, drip, drip.

After weeks of cold, winter winds, icy coatings on my windshield every morning, and surprise snow showers, things are melting.  Granted, tomorrow it’s supposed to snow again, but today is beautiful.  This is what March is supposed to feel like – 55 degrees is perfect.  I’ll take that any spring day.

I probably think about this every spring, along with 80,000 other thoughtful people in America who happen to like to write, but it’s still worth remembering: spring is a time for new beginnings.  Winter is the time of hibernation, deadness, less sunlight, and much less warmth, but spring is a wakeup call.  She says: Wake up! Feel again.  Clean out your heart and life and closet.  Feel the sun on your face, and don’t hide when the light exposes your failures.  Begin fresh again, even though you tried to do that on January 1st.  Such a pleasant lady, that Spring.

I watched the water run through the gutters as I went for a run today.  (It’s so interesting to me that there are SO many parallels to life and emotion in nature.)  The water was coming out of these huge piles of snow and running through the gutters, picking up all the silt, sand, salt, and dirt that accumulated there over the winter.  It’s not like it escaped the frozen life for a pleasure trip down the street.  There was certainly some yucky stuff in there, things I’m sure I don’t want to have delineated for me.  Isn’t like renewal in our lives?  We come out of darkness, being frozen to emotion or God, and we don’t immediately find a nice little pond surrounding by flowers where we can rest, right?  We have to push through the dirt that accumulated while we held off God’s spring cleaning or while we shut out all feeling so we could be safe.

Renewal isn’t pretty or easy, with all the things we have to get past in order to get there, but the end result is gorgeous…  if we can manage the upkeep.

Thank you, Jesus, for the bright sunlight and that there isn’t any need for a winter coat today.

Ahh.  Lovely.