Hot Tuesday

My notebooks don’t stand a chance today. There’s condensation everywhere from iced drinks and putting ice cubes trays on the counter for two minutes (enough time for them to half melt), naturally, there are water stains on my notes.

It’s another day with this venomous robber, Heat, who steals brain power and energy and normal body temperatures. I’m fighting back with half-caf iced coffee and breakfast biscuits. Take that, Heat.

This is preparation for winter. Because of these 95 degree days, we’ll say to ourselves, “Okay, we won’t complain when it’s 40 below and snowing and blowing.” But we probably will, because we’re forgetful and complain-y. Let’s face it; we want sunny days with slight breezes and a high of 75. Then we want like 3 rainy days per month to keep things green and nice, but we don’t want storms. And we want snow for the two weeks from Christmas to New Year’s, but we want it to stay white and fluffy and melt on command.

Aren’t we picky.

I bet there are good things about hot days. I mean, if you just sit and get stuff done, they’re not bad at all. You might survive and be productive. It’s a time when you can sweat in public and still be accepted. If you visit the freezer section of the grocery store today, you probably won’t freeze like you usually do. It’ll be a relief. You can save money on your hot water bill today because a hot shower sounds completely unbearable.

That being said, I will welcome fall weather with open arms when it gets here on Friday. And I will stomp my feet if it gets delayed.


Pep Talk Monday.

There are nights when you, a person who willingly chose majors with a reputation for being full of reading, sit and wonder if your eyes will ever feel normal again. You scan page after page after page, trying to take in more information about utilitarianism and how to be a good writing tutor and nature and how to be a good writer, and you wish there was another way to get all this information into your noggin.

If you find yourself in a similar boat, here’s a pep talk for you [and me]:

Hey, you. Yes, you. I see you there. You’re doing your homework. Do you know how great that is? You’re staying on top of your assignments. Way to go. You may think that no one notices, appreciates, understands, or cares, but I think you’re pretty fabulous for taking care of business. You might even finish soon!

Did you have a long Monday? Yeah, me too. But tomorrow is a fresh, new day. It might not be as hot as today (it might be hotter… sorry. I know that’s not encouraging). I bet there’s something really great about tomorrow that might just make your whole week good.

Heck, there’s probably something great about today that makes it worth living through. I bet you can think of a few. Even if you can’t think of any right now, I still like you. We can still be friends.

You know what would probably make you feel better? Smiling. Try it. It helps. Then go smile at someone else and watch them smile back at you. See? Wasn’t that nice? Now, head back to your desk or wherever you do your homework.

Keep going. You can do it. Trying is the first step.

Regular Sunday.

Man on the street yells at the three passing girls something unintelligible with an intense stare. Three passing girls half smile and keep walking. Other man with a McDonald’s coffee cup that may not contain coffee says, “All right. Pull over. Let’s see some ID,” but three passing girls aren’t driving and have no reason to oblige.

It’s a regular day in Chicago, walking home from church and encountering real people.

It’s a regular day, and I’m realizing again that Jesus didn’t die so that I could be a good person. The gap between me and God, created by me and my sinful nature and my inability to make myself whole, isn’t bridged by my strivings. If that’s the gospel I’m living, then I’m chasing the wind, and I’ll get tired.

I’ll get tired if the lamp I’m burning doesn’t have any oil. I’ll get frustrated if I think that I have to fix myself and fight to be good. Because, try as I might, I can’t fix myself, and the gospel doesn’t say, “For it is by your best attempt to live a holy life that you are saved, through works, so that you can boast about how hard you tried.”

I’m washed clean because I can’t wash myself. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. It’s a message of inability, seemingly not empowering. You can’t save yourself. You can’t be good enough. You can’t. You can’t. You can’t. All my good grades and nice smiles and kind words don’t make me whole. All these little things I do because I think I’m making up the difference between me, a sinner who is saved by grace, and God, who has never needed anyone to make Him look good.

I am a failure. And as long as I think I’m succeeding at cleaning up my life, I’m going to continue to fail. Because it is by grace that I have been saved. It is God’s work, His holy transformation inside of me that I get to watch and be a part of but not control so that I can’t boast about how hard I tried.

I sit in the passenger side, along for the mission but not the driver. And definitely not the engine. Just a humble companion that gets to help and be healed. I’m healed by letting go of my need to make myself acceptable and letting Jesus make me more than acceptable.

This is why I need to give up. Because I can’t, but He can. And He will. And He wants to.


I used to have an incredibly erroneous idea of what a writers’ life was like.

I assumed that every person who had ever published anything had boatloads of money. I figured that being published meant that you instantly got rich and didn’t have to work for the rest of your life. Now, I wonder how the writers of some of my favorite books are doing. I wonder if they have enough to live on. I wonder if their works will actually take off after they’re dead, like so many of the greats.

I talked to a publisher yesterday who said that he knew someone who published with a big name publisher and only got 80 cents per book.  Thats not much, even if you sell 5,000 books. Think of how many hours went into that book.

So it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to base my whole future on this idea that I’m going to make money as a writer.

But it didn’t make much sense for the Israelites to cross the Jordan River into a land where the people were big and strong and not friendly, either. The Jordan River was at flood stage, so you know it wasn’t this dinky little crick they had to cross. Still, because it was God who had led them there, when the first people (the priests) set their feet in the edge of the water, the river stopped flowing upstream and piled up.

Piled up. A river. Piled up. And the Israelites traipsed across on dry land. That’s just the first of many highly unlikely victories they had. It didn’t make sense for them to be able to cross a wildly rushing river at flood stage and conquer the land beyond it. It really didn’t make sense for them to even try.

That’s probably why God kept saying in the weeks beforehand, “Be strong and courageous” and “Be strong and very courageous, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Why does it matter that God was with them? Because God’s the one who piles up rivers, that’s why!

Today, I’m trusting God to pile up my rivers because he’s given me dry land to walk on before, and He’ll do it again as long as He’s the one who’s leading me into a new land.

Brainstorm bathroom.

I’ve taken to writing poetry on our bathroom floor, which is neither an exciting environment nor a comfortable one, but I think clearly in there.

It’s the one place in our apartment where I can’t see the pantry from where I’m sitting. I’m guessing that has contributed to my success. It has white walls, floors, and fixtures, so that keeps me sane.

I sit there and write. I cross stuff out (never too much though, because you never know when you might see something you’ve crossed out before and it might spawn a whole other piece of work) and scribble and brainstorm and wish I had something good to write about.

Then I keep brainstorming and writing and thinking about how I have nothing to write about.

And finally, after what feels like an eternity but may have only been 15 minutes, inspiration strikes hard. It jolts me into writing mode, and then I scrawl out the words on the paper and try to get in the a good order before the lightning bolt moves on to some other lucky writer.

I have a poetry assignment for tomorrow.

Please excuse me, I need to go to my bathroom.

Things I’ve learned this week.

Sometimes you’re in college and you learn a few things. You figure out that you really can’t do everything and thus end up picking a few ways to spend your time. You learn how to study, learn that you’re easily distracted, learn that life isn’t as simple as you thought it was at first but is actually infinitely more simple than you make it out to be most days.

And you learn that when you make rice, it’s always good to make extra. You always have a use for leftover rice. Plus, rice is cheap, so you can replace it more easily than other things.

You learn that you have to put away the avocado right after you’re done with it; otherwise it’ll turn brown, which is neither pretty nor appetizing.

You learn that the best way to make friends is to cook aromatic food with your door open and Pavarotti playing. People will stop by and ask why the hallway smells like garlic and onions.

You learn that sometimes you spill blueberry syrup on your rug while eating French toast. And when the beautiful Tide-to-go pen isn’t able to get all of it out… you flip the rug over. And it’s not a failure to be clean. It’s just real life where people spill things.

You learn that you really do hate procrastinating… maybe even enough to never do it again. And all of a sudden, you feel like you’re on top of things. And it might be only the first week and you may not have started work yet, but you’re doing pretty well. Only 15 more weeks to keep it up, and that’s just about enough time to make it a habit, right?

You learn how beautiful payday is and how much cheaper Aldi is than the slightly closer grocery store. And you learn that just because they don’t call back doesn’t mean they don’t love you. And you learn that the post office is closed on Labor Day, which means that it would have been a good idea to check your mail on Friday, but you forgot.

You learn that you like getting up before 8, even when it’s your day off. And you learn that there are lots of ways to get around the fact that you don’t have a kitchen table.

You learn a lot. Sometimes by trial and error. Either way, you’re learning.

It’s only been a week. I guess you could say this is a growth period.