Friday, December 26, 2008

Philosophy Lying on the Ice: or a Post of No Consequence

Dusk deepens into night. Birds twitter softly in the quietly swaying trees which crack and shiver as the chill air grows icy. Along the wild horizon pale purple becomes blue blending to deep navy. A solitary planet lights the sky. In the deepening dark backdrop a few pin-points of light peep into visibility as though shy of intruding themselves on the inhabitants of the world; perhaps fearful of breaking their slumber, or maybe wary of the sun's rays, willing only to venture abroad when his head is hidden. In a few moments, the constellations will grow distinguishable. Three hazy specks: Orion uncloaks himself. An emerging blur of distant lights: Pleiades enters in full sisterhood. Though hidden by dense pines, the Dippers ladle up the night from within the strong arms of the Bears, Great and Small. At last, the darkness reaches a full contrast so that the arm of the Milky Way is revealed: A massive starry swath draped in folds across the immense expanse of infinity.

As if gaining confidence, each star shines more brightly in the gathered night and illumines the two mortal figures lying motionless upon the snow beneath them.They lie flat upon their backs, arms beneath and cradling their heads, gazing at the lights in the darkness and at the forlorn trees stripped of their leaves now covered and softened by the gloaming, heedless of the plummeting temperature or the melting snow seeping through their coats. Now they remain in silence, now in speech, muted and hushed as suggests the setting. An owl hoots quite near and they startle but snuggle down into the icy bed again, unwilling to break the moment.

Philosophers, they solve the great questions of the world in the light of the stars with solutions all their own. After a silence, one breaks forth, pondering;
"Why do we fear? Why?"
The other turns the matter over for a moment, considering it's angles and complexities. The prompt reply;
"Because the electric fence would hurt really bad."

It is too much to take in. Laughter rudely interrupts the quietude and ceases again. But even a bed of ice becomes burdensome after a while, no matter how pleasantly situated, and the philosophers drew themselves off and left the heavenly lights to blaze undisturbed.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sing a Song of Sixpence

Actually, the title has nothing to do with the post. Well, almost nothing. :D

I hesitate to blog anything which relates to plans because if I do, the plans will most definitely change! Have you ever played Pin the Tail on the Donkey? Remember how they tied the blindfold around your eyes, then spun you around until you were disoriented, then pointed you in a direction completely different from your target? You swayed from side to side, trying to catch your balance. Arms out in front of you, you took one small tentative step forward, hoping to feel a bit of wall in front of you. Behind you, someone giggled. Someone cheered, "keep going! You're almost there!" Encouraged, you moved forward, reaching eagerly. Then you heard another whisper. "She's going in the wrong direction. She's going to walk into the other wall." Instantly, you halt, uncertain where to go next. From all around you advice inundates your ears:
"Turn left!"
"Straight forward - you've almost got it!"
"They're lying - turn around."
"No, no. Let her figure it out by herself!"
"Be quiet. We're helping her."
"No, you're not!"

You are unsure of everything but one fact: you are making a humongous fool of yourself and everybody is watching you do it.

Remember wearing the same blindfold a few minutes later as you swung a club in frustration at the pinata just beyond your reach. You knew it was there - within feet of your stick - but somehow you couldn't make contact with the silly wad of papermache! Newspaper and goo! The desire to smack that, that thing, surged through you as the frustration mounted. You searched the unvisible air for the pinata. Finally, the tip of bat encountered something hard and hollow. Winding up for your hardest stroke, your arms sliced through the air with all the force you could muster. But something was wrong. Where did it go? No! It was there, it was! Next instant you hear and feel a thud, and your dad yelps. Sorry. You turn and make another go at it, longing to the the crack of hardened newspaper splitting asunder, doubting whether you ever will. If only you could see!

Both of these scenarios have one very beneficial aspect in common: they're both games, playthings, diversions. You can end them whenever you want. How each turns out may affect a day, a week, perhaps even a month if your dad teases you about the bruise, but ultimately do not have a significant impact on the course of your life. There are more important things to living, and there will be more games.

I feel as though I am blindfolded with bat or tail between my fingers ... only to find that this is not a game.
I've been blindfolded and spun. Streams of instructions overwhelm my ears. I've pinned the donkey's tail to the ears instead of to the rump and now it's got to stick there. I've got a couple more tails, but they're a lot smaller. Someone gave me a club to swing, but I'm not sure where that blob of papermache got to. Canada? Michigan? I'm itching to smack it, but I've got to find it first.

And it's not a game. My future swings with the bat and sticks with the tail. Ouch!

I am, of course, speaking of college(s). What I look at is cost-effective nutrient-density. Most institutions charge a pretty sixpence. And it appears that pence of any amount are becoming more and more difficult to come by.

One thing for certain: I'm not going back to Hope. Dad's authority there. And there's no point: the Greek is gone, Nursing I can take here for less.

We've got some interesting developments on the horizon. Basically, two main tracks. I can go to Hillsdale for four years and come out at the end in debt with a degree in something really interesting that basically only equips me for grad school. Or I can go back to community college for two years to finish an RN and add another year at a co-operating school to achieve a BSN. Just two years to a well-paying job that is pretty secure even in economic decline. Three years to a bachelor's which would allow me to go to enter CTSFW's Deaconess Program, if God so wills.
I'm torn. Enter $. Quality four-year liberal arts colleges are expensive: that's just the way it is. Community colleges are much less. Hmmmm.
If Hillsdale now, I'll be out of sequence for freshman classes. If back to community college, I can't enter the Nursing program till fall. Either way, it can't hurt to postpone the final decision which will determine the course of the next three years till summer. (Or can it?)
But what about this coming semester? I don't want to do nothing. I need to be engaged in useful learning. For this, I have the same two institutions as options, plus a third. I may be headed to Canada.

Time is running out as I wait for pieces of the puzzle to fall into place. Yet, I'm excited too. Ok, so I'm a little scared as well. Mostly I'm just tired of uncertainty. Ah, well, this is life under the cross. At least we know that Christ is certain and will continue to be.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Allegory of the Crucifix

The first few weeks at Hope College, I wore the crucifix everywhere - even to work out. Then, one day, I took it off. And couldn't find it. A few days later, I found and donned it again. But something strange kept happening. The tiny ring holding the cross to its chain began weakening, bending and slipping from off the chain. I kept repairing it. One evening (sometime in October), as I was preparing to take it off for the night, I noticed that the cross and corpus were no longer on the chain. I examined the floor. I traced my steps throughout the room and the bathroom. It could have fallen anywhere, and I had traveled the length and breadth of the campus in that day. It pricked me deeply to have lost it, not because I attached my faith to a piece of metal around my neck, but because it reminded me of Whose I am and what I am called and enabled to confess. The next week, I would reach up to touch it, to feel the contour and remind myself, only to remember that it was gone - perhaps forever. The thought that perhaps the likeness of our Savior might be lying in the mud on some campus pathway, trampled by the profane feet of the masses, made me ache. But I soon forgot it. It fled my mind as well as my body.

The very last week at Hope, while cleaning up the floor by my desk, I found the crucifix again. It was hidden by various debris and papers from my studies, homework and essays. The sight cheered me, yet caused me a sober moment as well. Thankful to have it returned to my keeping, it occured to me to possibly consider the treatment afforded the crucifix allegorically. It is not hard for me to see a rough parallel between the circumstances of the crucifix and the circumstances of my subjective certainty in the promises of Christ while at Hope.

I look forward to wearing my crucifix again and, God-willing, not losing it either physically or allegorically.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Of the Beloveds

The tide returns, washing over the beach as it has so many times before, caressing each grain of sand, carving gouges through antiquated deposits, leaving a new layer of sediment, changing the face of the shoreline...

The page turns; a chapter closes; the past is sealed and cannot be relived but in memory. And soon, no matter how vivid the memories be now, they too shall fade and be lost, drowned in the tides of time, unidentifiable amid the swirling silty waves.

Though Hope College has challenged and pressured me in many ways, I do not regret this semester. Though I shall soon - God willing - move on to another institution, I do not look upon the past months as wasted. The time spent here was God-given and the Master Craftsman's chisel was not idle upon my rough stone in this place.

I shall sincerely miss the blessings God has lavished upon me here. There are many here that I have come to love dearly over the course of the semester and they have become a part of me. To leave with the knowledge that I may never see them again will, I know, tear a piece of my heart from me, rend a leaf from the book of who I am. They have shaped me and how can I explain their unique personalities and what they mean to me to people who have not lived, laughed, wept, and brushed teeth with them as I have?

I have promised never to forget them. And I mean not to. But lest the image fade with time, losing color, texture, and sound till it become but a vague silhouette in some recess of my mind, I here take down a brief portrait sketch of the Beloveds of Hope; those who have filled the lonely void of family and friends with their love and care.

My room-mate, Reneé (I finally put the accent in correctly): Ah, what would life have been like without her? What will life be like without her? Without concern for each other's family, encouragement in study, understanding of each other's sleeping needs, random conversations across the dark space between the beds at 1am? What will I do when we cannot tease each other about how Reneé "takes out her eyes" every night? I will miss the laughter at my silliness, the way she drew me into her social life and surrounded me with friends, the Spanish she forced me to speak and helped me practice - the Spanish which spoke from her heart. Who will remind me in Spanish to "trust God" and "take one day at a time?" I am forever grateful for how she tried to understand me even when I broke down or couldn't explain everything. We are so much alike in a mind set that "I am right." Tonight, I will lie down and wait for the evening ritual but she will be much farther than five feet from me. She will not whisper in Spanish nor will I. Our nightly "Buenas noches" will be one sided from now on. How I will sleep without it I do not know.

Michelle: From the moment I met her she warmed my heart with her motherliness. Always the gentle teaser accusing us all of being "saucy," always ready for some silliness over the latest, be it important or just plain meaningless. My heart went out to her during her early room-mate troubles and I am glad now that she will take my place. But I ache to think that I shan't take part of her cheering presence.

Araksya: Oh, how I will miss her! She could match Snap for teasing - especially to Reneé . So gifted, yet so humble. Honest and frank is she with a piercing insight that surprised me many times as she guessed in a flash secrets I had hoped to keep hidden and simply told them to me as observations. Her way of describing the world refreshes my spirit.

Ziye, Xisen, Christina, Leonie: They have drawn me out and loosened my throat to laugh many times. They share with me both their unique personalities and tidbits of their culture. I'll never forget spending late night hours before an exam squeezing German cookie dough with all my might through a large frosting cone and tip in lieu of a cookie press. I have not words to describe their personalities accurately, but they each of them cared for me in a special way and I hope that I have in some small way returned that love.

Mikella and Rebecca: Oh, girls! How glad I was to be your partner for the research poster and presentation. Both of you brought your fun-loving attitude to the project, tempered with a serious, hard-working spirit.

My Lab Partners: I'll have to admit there were times when I was frustrated with both of them, but they cheered my heart, made me laugh, and I'm certain there was not a group in the lab that had as much fun as we three did.

Dan: From questioning theology on bus rides, to 7:30am prayer, to Bible Study he's been a friend I know I can rely on.

And Monday Night Bible Study group: You all have brought so much to my life. Though your worship and theology sometimes made me more than squirm, your child-like faith, trust, and hunger for God's Word encouraged me and challenged me to faithfully confess in a setting similar to those in which I had previously suffered and inflicted much confusion. I'll miss you all - testimonies included.

Jess: What a wonderful RD! The first to welcome me theologically and understand how important both orthodox doctrine and conservative worldview are to me. Theology Sister, she once called me. I'm so grateful that she made liturgical prayer available in the mornings. I needed both the fellowship and the rest in the Word of God. I'll miss her, her tea pot, and her dog.

The Phelps Scholars and my Hall in general: I love you guys! The community we created together was vibrant and supportive. Squeezing people around a table in the cafeteria, the life we shared, and the discussions we had stimulated my mind and afforded me the comfort of a virtual family.

My Professors
Dr. Green: Only he could have called us all the names he did and only provoke laughter in response. We took him seriously on some things, but at a certain point we knew the seriousness had vanished. I'll never forget hearing his voice shouting in the basement only to find a very pleasant conversation taking place when I turned the corner.

Dr. Brouwer: I thank God he was my advisor. He cared for me with a pastoral air, listened and advised without pressuring me. I'll forever think of him as a wise Teddy Bear.

Dr. Yelding: His perspective on many things was different and interesting. He saved our research project when the data seemed to be running amuck.

Profesor Moreau: To think that I wasn't even going to take an English class! I would have missed my (almost) all time favorite professor! Demanding but very human and caring, he made the two hours fly by and cranked the papers out of us before we ever knew we were working. Constructive criticism defined him. His wife's cookies and treats endeared the class and the professor to us even more. I'd write well just from knowing he'd receive the paper and that he believed in my writing capability.

Profesora Swain: She re-awakened the fire of Spanish in me (with the help of Reneé). She was a real teacher, instructing us with everything she had, forcing us to speak, using Spanish from the beginning of the class, giving us helpful tips and methods of remembering facts. She even investigated the differences between the words for "goat" just for me.

Professor Schmidt: I have to laugh whenever I think of her. She was more of a kid than we were. Always energetic and enthusiastic whether we were working out, or in lecture. When supervising the cardio and weight rooms she'd run up and down the stairs between the two, stopping to chat with each person or singing with the overhead music. I'd almost play sports just to have her as coach.

Dr. Richmond and College Chorus: I'm so very glad I took College Chorus even though it wasn't for credit. Dr. Richmond took us, no matter how inexperienced, and made us tick. He infused us with morale and by his very presence captured our attention and effort, focusing it to one goal. Somehow, he turned us into an vocal organism tuned entirely to the subtle motion of his hands and body. He also very deliberately explained the theological importance of certain song lines and insisted on proper "Queen's English" pronunciation.
I really grew to appreciate the warmth and friendliness that grew between the members of the Chorus as well.

My Community Placement: I enjoyed the interactions with the dear seniors there and I will miss the personal quirkiness of each one.

And finally, my dear, dear Orthodox Christian Fellowship:

Joanne: She's always been the quiet mover and organizer from the very first day. The shy, hungery one, eager to learn, warm and loving. I'd trust her with anything. Indeed she was the first person to know I was leaving Hope and she never breathed a word.

Alex: One of the non-othodox present from the beginning. Always quirky and theologically well read.

Andy: another non-orthodox friend of Alex. Quietly thinking lover of history. He always listens in silence, speaks with humility even though I'm sure he knows and thinks more than he says.

All the other students who passed through OCF on occasion: I'll miss their interesting questions, personalities, and input.

Christina: Ah, strong Othodox champion! She mothered me and I know that even if she dearly would like like me to convert to Orthodoxy, she always has open arms for me if I need to weep for a moment or just need to feel safe. She's challenged me to consider and weigh carefully history and dogma and I have taken her challenges seriously.

Father Steve: Perhaps I'll miss him most of all. A heart for his student learners and heart for the church and it's history. Not as eloquent as some, but what he had to say was always well worth listening too. Wrapped as much in kindness as in his black clerical garb, he explained theological implications of church history with an eye to his own Reformed origins as well as Orthodoxy. Gracious about my inattendance at Evening Prayer, he also used only Trinitarian prayer to close the Study portion of the evening. And the incense he lighted for Evening Prayer always brought images of Emmaus to my eyes as well as tears.

I'll miss the Othodox group and learning about Orthodoxy. Despite our disagreements, I felt ideologically safer and more relaxed with them than with the Evangelical Protestants.

I'll miss - strange as it sounds - the bathroom too. That's where most of the girls on my floor caught up on the doings of the day. I hope nobody where I am headed minds songs late at night in the shower. I'm so grateful my floor girls didn't. I'll always remember the shower head of my favorite stall that came apart and shot it's metal inside piece at me, spraying water every which way. And the Norovirus posters warning us to wash our hands. Ha!

I know I have forgotten someone somewhere. But I hope that these brief sketches will aid my memory in years to come. I would not forget the days I spent here. I must put them now to rest and pack up my possesions for the move tomorrow. Tonight I go to OCF one last time. Tomorrow I sign out and depart - perhaps for a life time, though I pray I shall be able to return to visit the friends I leave here.

Tomorrow, the tide retreats. Tomorrow the ink dries, the page turns.

What will this day be like? I wonder. What will my future be like? I wonder

Saturday, December 6, 2008

This Morning

Soo... I've actually put on make-up by myself for the first time in my life. I don't think it turned out too badly, but I'm no judge of cosmetics.

We're filming for television this morning and performing Christmas Vespers all after noon. I'm actually supposed to be ready in 25 minutes. Ha!

I've just got to remember that I'm performing in a secular performance rendition of a Christian service. Somehow the poems and the crucifix don't match. I hadn't heard the poems until rehearsal last night. One made me cringe.

Got to go eat breakfast and fly out to the Chapel!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Two More Fortune Cookies

#1. "The fun side of a relationship begins to unfold."

#2. "The object of your desire comes closer."

hmmmmmmm. Declines to comment. Marvels at the ridiculousness of fortune cookies. Needs to work on ten-page-paper. Will leave. Going. Going. Gone.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Seven Random Things

Delving deep into the past here, readers....

1. My first school library book was a child's history of King Wenceslaus. I was terribly upset that his pagan brother murdered him.

2. My childhood heroine was Joan of Arc. She'd whip those nasty English! Oh, wait... I became forever disgusted with the French Dauphin for not rescuing her from the stake.

3. I liked to walk through the poultry barn at the county fair, as a child, crowing as loud as I could to the roosters. The hens would then cuckle, cuckle, cuckle, and the roosters would turn and stare at me out of one eye, puff their feathers, arch their backs and neck, slightly spread their tails and crow even louder. I'd crow back and set the chickens in an uproar.

4. My favorite movie for about a decade was the black and white "Martin Luther" film. I could quote it. I loved the part where Luther says something (to Katy) like, "Don't look at me like that! A man...under the Emperor's no man for you. We must find you another husband," and Katharina looks up and says meekly, "Yeth, Dr. Luther." The next scene, the priest pronounces them man and wife.
I also always laughed at the part where Erasmus explains why Luther cannot win his case; "First he has denied the authority of the Pope, and two, he has attacked the bellies of the monks: both very grave and unforgivable sins." :P

5. For the longest time (until I was about 8) I thought that the song Daddy sang while rocking me in the rocking chair was about breakfast cereal. "Swing low, sweet cheerios, comin' for to carry me home..." Somehow I could never figure out what the Jordan River had to do with toasted oats.

6. I've got to take a shower after exercising before I go to class. I'm weird that way. I don't mind being sweaty or filthy working out on the farm all day, but I feel disgusting mixing sweat with college classes.

7. I have no sense of timing in music - never have had. I can't clap a beat in syncrony with a room full of people. I can't read music - never have. You can definitely tell, too.

Well, that's seven. Can't wait for finals to be over!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

O God, source of all abiding knowledge, through Word and Spirit You both enlighten the minds and sanctify the lives of those whom You draw to Your service. Look with favor on the seminaries and colleges of the Church, blessing those who teach and those who learn, that all the baptized may apply themselves with ready diligence to their tasks and faithfully fulfill their service according to Your will; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Lutheran Service Book, pg 306

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Open Hand

The eyes of all look to you, O Lord, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

I had forgotten. It isn't the first time nor the last, I shouldn't wonder. But it was remembered for me and despite me and now I have been made to recall:

My Father controls all things. Yet that word, control, doesn't fully describe the way in which the Almighty works. Perhaps better to say "order." He orders all things according to His will. But contrary to what I once thought, that doesn't mean that God bends me to His will out of a sort of detached "knowing what's best for me" or that He moves me like a pawn on a chess board to be sacrificed in order to win the grand game. His good and gracious will is for my good! He does not devise ways to make me serve Him, but He serves me. How illogical is that? That God orders everything to serve and benefit man, to save me?

So if God orders all things, then nothing that passes in this life occurs "by chance." Each day, each breath, each seemingly insignificant chore, trek to classes, greeting, goodbye, homework assignment, the professor who seems to lay the axe to the neck - all are from the hand of God to serve me, to serve you. A thing which God gives, is, by definition, a 'gift' from Him. So not only life, but those people and events in life are gifts from God to me for my well-being.

To view my existence through this lens, changes my perspective dramatically. Things did not "just happen" in my life, but were meant to be. In this view, nothing is meaningless. Sitting here - typing when I should be sleeping - is not meaningless. I do not have to understand why an event happens for it to become purposeful. Nor does it have to embody a purpose of my own design. In Christ, nothing we do, nothing that happens to us is for naught, not because our actions are so weighty, but because Christ works in us and in our neighbor to accomplish His work (which is to serve and bless both us and our neighbor). In and of themselves my works profit me nothing. Christ's works profit me for salvation, justification, and righteousness. But Christ now takes my works which profit me nothing and joins them to Himself to profit my neighbor.

This had I forgotten.

When I look back at this last seven months, they don't look so worthless anymore. My actions aren't what gives worth to what has befallen. Every event, every decision made, every door closed with my fingers still in the frame, the friends, the frustration, the sickness, the professors, the acne, the assignments I relished, the homework I loathed, the arguments, the tears, the laughter, the exhaustion, even the simple fact that I dwell on the second floor of my hall, is a gift to me from my Father who opens His hand to satisfy my desire and my Brother who died for me and lives for me. For some reason, God ordered this past year in the way He did for me. Which is not to say that sin which took place over the past year was His will for me, but that even that frailty and disease of my flesh is evil which God promises to work out for good by Christ's death. Christ has redeemed me and nothing can befall me apart from His will.

God has worked through weakness and distress. He has brought me low so that I may exult in Him and not in myself. I find it ironic and hilarious that I am most at peace when I have not a clue what will happen and how things will turn out. I am given the most joy when all my best laid plans have been set aside and I can see no further than the next rise in the road. Then I must simply trust. Without vision, without plans of my own devising, with not a little apprehension - with no self-laid scheme - I fall back into the arms which were waiting all along to carry me. It is in being passive, receiving from God's hand what He gives, opening my mouth for Him to fill, that there is peace and rest. When I take to my own feet and search out a rest of my own making, a course of my own choosing to accomplish by my own strength, I find none.

His yoke is easy; his burden is light. But the one I put upon myself is not.


I know that my feelings are fickle and fleeting. Indeed they have rarely not proved treacherous. Yet, I dare to make an observation based on feeling and sensations of restlessness and peace.

Based on sensation, quitting [my current college] and, God-willing, heading to [a different one] is akin to returning from FOR YOU a year and a half ago.

When I left Ridgecrest I finally knew for certain that my sins were forgiven. I also knew for certain that I would not relinquish what I had learned that week from those pastors for the world. I understood that I would have to rebuild my worldview from scratch, would have to rigorously discard all preconceptions that didn't align with the new found orthodoxy. I realized that that would be painful - just how much, I didn't know. I knew it would mean confessing that I had spoken, argued, and professed wrongly for years. Facing my friends with a bran new worldview made my stomach quiver. Facing my parents made it somersault. I wasn't sure just where this whole "confessional Lutheran" thing would take me or just what I might end up disagreeing with my parents about. Until that moment, I had never staunchly disagreed with my parents ideologically. But suddenly it hit me very strongly that I might be obliged to. I felt like my life had been turned upside down, broken into tiny pieces by a giant sledge-hammer and suddenly put back together better than new, only in an unfamiliar pattern.

I had no concrete explanation to offer about what had happened to me or how. I had no clear plan of what I would do other than rejoice in forgiveness won by Christ and given me freely and pay the cost. Yet I had more joy than I have ever felt before and a peace and rest that the world had never given to me.

So now. I had planned Nursing since I was about twelve. It was part of my plan to do "great things for God." I basically did my own triage. The reasoning went like this, and it wasn't bad reasoning from a logical standpoint: The world needs the Gospel. People can't hear the Gospel if they can't understand it. Therefore Bible Translation is what is most needed. Therefore, since that is most important, I should work with Bible Translation. I like languages pretty well, so that should work out. I need to get a degree of some sort before joining a translation group. So what would I need on the mission field? Oh! Nursing! And if I end up having to stop being a translator, or if I need income, Nursing would find me a job pretty much anywhere. And if I get married and my husband dies and I have to support my children, Nursing is a good safety net. So I'll focus all my efforts now on getting a Nursing degree and then I'll decide what I want to really do. I figure I can start Nursing school at 16 and graduate at 18 and then I could go on to another college if I want to do "fun stuff."

Not a bad assessment for a twelve year old. As a result, I was going to do Nursing or perish in the attempt because it appeared to me to be "what God would want me to do." Though I loved History and Literature, I pushed those things out of my mind as possible areas of study because they didn't fit with my idea of God's plan for my life. But things didn't quite work out that way...

I pursued my course as planned with a few minor setbacks. Several factors intervened with the community college route and directed me toward a larger institution of higher education. After what seemed like endless search, we settled on [the college I am at now] because it was the only feasible option for both Classical Greek and Nursing. Unfortunately, Greek has vanished and other aspects of the institution have lost appeal. At the same time, I have come to the realization by way of much advising from mentors I trust that Nursing is not a Divine call for me. When I think of spending the next four years at my current school learning Nursing, I don't feel particularly excited or enthused. Science training at [my school] just doesn't give me a kick like History or some of the other liberal arts. While Nursing is an honorable profession which I may pursue in a shorter program later in life, I no longer see it as the road I must take or die.

Now I am standing at a fork in the road. The last year seems an exercise in facing shut doors. I guess the only door that has not definitively shut is the Nursing program at [my college], but I have a lurking suspicion that if I were thick-headed enough to insist on continuing my self-laid Nursing track that door would slam to as well.

I feel bewildered, yet strangely free and at peace. I don't have any plans for what to do with a major in History and Classics. I can't fully articulate concrete reasons for my transfer. But looking at what is unfolding before me, I know that God has an incredible sense of humor and He is giving me one of the great desires of my heart in the opportunity to pursue History and Classics at this particular place.

Nursing originally was my plan to please God. Strange how God doesn't really seem to have the same plans as I do.

I don't know what is ahead or what will happen in the next four years, but I'm excited. I've made no permanent plans and I can't wait to explore. God is satisfying the desire I had thought I shouldn't have.

So I have many things to be thankful for. Not least of all an overwhelming sense of relief to not be in charge of my life.

Happy Thanksgiving and Good Morning!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Latest Fortune Cookie

These things are so much fun:

Your path is arduous but will be amply rewarding

I'm glad God is a little more clear in his prophecy than that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Frightened by Wendy's

I won't bother to explain, but I found this as part of my homework.

"At Wendy's®, we're unrivaled in our passion for giving people what they want — and uncompromising in giving people what they deserve."

Aren't the implications slightly scary yet somewhat ironic and laughable? It occurred to me that perhaps a "passion for giving people what they want" and "giving people what they deserve" might be contradictory.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Closing Down

The Health Department has issued not a suggestion now, but an order: Campus must close till Tuesday Morning.

Can't say I've ever been more thankful for an epidemic.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Campus Epidemic

All over campus students were missing from classes today. Slowly the news seeped out, grapvine borne. One student here, ill. Another student there, stricken. As the morning wore on we began to hear other news by word of mouth. A campus residence hall was, so the rumors murmured, quarintined.

By four o'clock, campus safety sent out a message, urging students to stay calm, avoid mixing if they felt ill, and come to the health center if unpleasant symptoms surfaced. The health center, so the message stated, was working with the county health department to make a diagnosis. Crates of bottled water waited in the lounge of every dorm so that the sick might remain hydrated.

As one gazed around the cafeteria, one was struck by the silence. Ordinarily full tables were now but sparsely occupied. Then they came. The grave-faced men handing out orange slips of paper to everyone in the dining hall, leaving others on tables for those who would come after.

ATTENTION, the slips demand, proceeding to explain that Norovirus is sweeping across the campus, leaving vomiting, nauseated students in its wake. All are to wash hands frequently to "minimize" the "risk of becoming ill." The issuer of this orange bulletin? [----] County Health Department.

It's convenient that this weekend is Parents Weekend. :p

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why Do the Nations Rage?

The man has been appointed to the office. We respect the office. As the scribes and Pharisees who taught from Moses seat were to be obeyed, as Caesar was to be honored, so too are we to respect, honor and obey the President of the United States. We are to pray for him both as a fellow creature and as the governing authority. I sincerely say, "God bless Barack Obama."

Remember, however, the blessing for the Czar. I shudder to think of the human beings who may never see the light of day because their government did not defend them. My shoulders slump when I think of the hours, the days, the years of sacrifice and striving to build hedges around the unborn which may be undone by the one who should protect them.

All around me the campus has erupted in hair-raising, spine-tingling chanting, and screams of delight.

O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma! O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!........

The antiphon swells to incredible force and the building shakes. Windows everywhere quiver and rattle. I can hear the refrain carrying and spreading across campus. It seems as if the city itself is shouting. The cacaphony persists for ten to fifteen minutes and then subsides as the animated students go their separate ways pursuing homework, bunk or party. Every now and then the laughter, cries and chanting breaks forth again.

I thank God that I was not in Paris for any of the student revolts of bygone days. Merely finding myself surrounded by passionate, vocal students gathering to support a cause terrifies me. I am thankful for the "Christian" nature of this campus - otherwise I might have good reason to be frightened. Young people have an incredible tendency in their naiveness to be swayed and when moved by a common theme resemble an avalanche or a lava floe. Their impetus is irresistible.

But not forever. God thwarts all might of men with a breath. Though we may see throughout this world of sin and death events that seem to be a roadblock set before God's good and gracious will, God's will will not be deterred.

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and rulers gather together against the Lord and against His Anointed One.
"Let us break their chains," they say, "and throw off their fetters."
The One enthroned in heaven laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.
Then He rebukes them in His anger, and terrifies them in His wrath,
saying, "I have installed my king on Zion my holy hill."
I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, "You are my Son. Today I have begotten you. Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery."

Therefore you kings, be wise; be warned you rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son lest He be angry and you be destroyed in your way,
For His wrath can flair up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.

We Christians are those who take refuge in Him for He has taken us into His refuge and covered us with His feathers. No matter what the coming years may bring from fire, sword, lightning, tempest, sedition, rebellion, sin, error, evil, it shall not harm God's children. It may touch our bodies and lives and those we love, but it shall not wrench us from the hand of God who cares for us as for Himself. What scars we have and shall receive emotionally and physically Christ has taken upon Himself and born for us.

I am not by this post indicating that President Obama is a devil or is horrible person (though as a sinners all are horrible people apart from Christ's Gospel) neither do I consider Senator McCain a savior or model of perfection by any stretch of imagination. But I do take comfort that God governs the affairs of men. I rejoice that as the Proverb writer somewhere declares, the hearts of kings are in the hands of God and He directs them as a watercourse whither He chooses.

May God have mercy on our land and strengthen and protect our President in every good work. Where he sets his hand against the commands of God, may our Lord restrain him, turn him to righteousness, and perfect his ways. May the grace of God enable him to govern with competence and faithful fatherhood the people of this country. And may God bestow on us his grace to esteem and support the leader placed into office as he carries out that office according to God's will.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Reformation Day!

A Mighty Fortress is our God! A Bulwark never failing. Our helper, He amid the flood, of mortal ills prevailing... His kingdom is forever!

In these last days of great distress grant us, O Lord, true steadfastness, that we keep pure till life is spent, your holy Word and Sacrament.

Though with a scornful wonder men see her [the Church] sore oppressed - by schisms rent asunder, by heresies perplexed - though there be those that hate her, false sons within her pale, against both foe and traitor she ever shall prevail.

By all your saints in warfare, for all your saints at rest, your holy Name, O Jesus, forevermore be blest. For you have won the battle that they might wear the crown and now they shine in glory reflected from your throne.

Lord, may your soldiers, faithful, true, and bold, fight as the saints who nobly fought of old. And win with them, the victor's crown of gold! Alleluia, Alleluia!
O blest communion, fellowship divine. We feebly struggle, they in glory shine. Yet all are one in Thee for all art thine! Alleluia, Alleluia!
And when the strife is fierce the warfare long, steals on the ear the distant triumph song. Then hearts are brave again and arms are strong! Alleluia, Alleluia!

Jesus still lead on, till our rest be won. Though the way be dark and cheerless, we will follow calm and fearless. Guide us by Thy hand to our Fatherland.

O Savior rend the heavens wide! Come down, come down with mighty stride...O come, lead us with mighty hand, from exile to the promised land!

And in case it is necessary to cite source information, I'm fairly sure that all of those in some translation or another can be found in The Lutheran Hymnal, Lutheran Worship, The Lutheran Service Book, or "A very, very old Methodist Hymnal whose name I can't remember." However, all are compiled in an unpublished work - The Anthology of Sarah's Memory. This is an exclusive "nonpublication" accessible only upon request to the compiler.

Monday, October 20, 2008

At Nick's Request

(drum-roll please)

Again, through that ancient and sophisticated method of determining personality, we have discovered on a festive occasion, that all people are not as they sometimes seem. Deep secrets shall we reveal. Prepare to be enlightened by Apples!


squeaky clean

Anna Ha:






A Trustworthy Saying (or "I feel like doing a little exegesis")

Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful --

for he cannot deny himself.


Is not that last sentence especially a great wonder? It means so much more than simply that God will be faithful to us. He will be faithful why? Because He cannot deny himself! What does this mean. God has made us part of Himself. That can sound so trivial, but think about it! So much a part of God that to deny us would be to deny himself - that's how the Eternal Creator sees me and you. Is there any pain we feel that He does not? Is there any sleepless night that He does not also keep vigil? Is there any longing hope which He does not also either delight to fill or share our ache at it's delay or denial, though the denial may be for our good? When we laugh, does the Divine Trinity not laugh with our joy? When we hurt our neighbor, does He not take both the blow and the sentence for it upon himself?

Would a man willingly cut off his arm? Would he strike himself? Would he inflict hurt or damage upon his body? God has made me part of himself. Why should I fear that he will harm me? Why should I fear that he will deny me my heart's longings? God cannot do to me without doing to Himself. "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us, how much more will he, along with him, freely give us all good things?" (paraphrase)

All Humanity is united to Deity in Christ. God's flesh has taken upon itself all human woe. Deity has died. And it is not as though in taking upon himself humanity that Christ took up a burden which he set down in his resurrection or discarded in His ascension. Humanity is part of His very Being. God is Flesh. His Flesh is God. And that Flesh is in me! God is in me - not just some vague spiritual force within my heart but in my very flesh. When Christ gives us his Flesh to eat, he gives us divine humanity to eat. We are joined not just to Christ's divinity but to his humanity in a real way. We share his humanity, not as one shares a cookie - by dividing or getting a piece of, but by being, by incorporation into, by receiving substance. It is truly no longer we who live. Christ has taken on our flesh and he puts his flesh on us. We are "little Christs" - Christians. Our bodies are sanctified for the resurrection because they are Christ's body. Our life is hidden with Christ in God. That life is both our spirit and our body for now God is not only spirit, but body.

When Christians say that Christ lives in them I wonder if we really understand what they are saying. Do we often think that God's indwelling is only an incorporeal peace which is sometimes felt or an inward nudge when making a decision, or a prick of conscience? Is it more than that? Could we possibly speak of God dwelling in our body as well?

And I ramble. I was only going to post a verse and get back to homework. Now I've rambled on to uncertainty. Ah well, I forget where I was going with all that, and I'm not sure I haven't speculated too much anyway, but I haven't posted anything for a while, so I will foolishly post without proofreading and editing four times.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fiziks and Phood

Just because Snap posted on Physics and Anan posted on food. Therefore, I must be fully justified in posting on...

PI! Or Pie! Or Fi!

So here's the problem. I've got this friend and I can't stand up to it. I like it. It likes me. It makes me happy when I've got it but not happy after it's gone. I know I spend way too much time with it, but I can't seem to walk away and refuse it's call. I give in...just this once...I'll quit tomorrow. But tomorrow it is there, wearing the same sweet perfume, adorned with the same light brown jacket over smooth colorful shirt. And I furtively tiptoe over and snatch it up. It is my enemy-friend. To take a literary quote out of context I might suggest that, "it is precious to me though I buy it with great pain." Fi for shame!

Who is this friend?

Pie. Cream pie, Apple pie, Blueberry pie, Peach pie, Cherry pie, Chocolate pie.

Pie has a friend who often tags with it and from whose grasp I have an equally hard time escaping. It is called Ice Cream.

I wish the normal staple foods in the cafeteria were always as tasty as the deserts.

Pie and Icecream may not seem as significant as Isildur's bane, but they can kill just as surely, though more slowly. Even fair Exercise coupled with Salad cannot always restrain these two. Have any of ye noble persons any noble advice on this noble subject?

But that is surely ridiculous, is it not? I wonder what crazed college student wrote that?
Oh wait!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Fellowship of Kindred Minds

Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.
The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.

Joy doth oft come in the morning. Breakfast brought to light two sisters whom I've never talked to before and who even live in my hall. It was restfull and refreshing to simply sit back and listen to two girls who I understand and agree with. Though I did join in the conversation, I did not feel defensive as I have since coming here. We were simply sisters sharing mutual respect and receiving ideas freely. I could have cried for joy.

Perhaps we could talk so comfortably and open-heartedly because we share similiar backgrounds. Though I did not spend later childhood years on the mission field as they did, we all share the same disconnect from American pop culture and the same reality as children of Christ living in a foreign land. All of us have had diverse schooling experiences and have been shaped by the challenges of coming to grips with reality.

At this juncture, some might accuse me of suggesting that since I don't enjoy the same closeness of mind with them I am saying that they buy into pop culture and a false reality. No! I am not insulting you. I am not even making a dogmatic statement. I am simply turning ideas over in my mind. You may do the same.

But it refreshed my wary, weary, soul to find kinship where I expected none and to simply drink it in. To an onlooker, the conversation might have seemed very superfluous to have derived any sort of comfort from. But it was a rest for me. My thoughts were safe with these two girls and their thoughts and words were a joy to me. Truly, the "fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Out of the Depths

Out of the Depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord hear my voice! Let your ear be attentive to the voice of my plea for mercy!

If you O Lord kept a record of sin, O Lord who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness that you may be feared.

Forgive the paraphrase. It is from my heart. Yet it did not begin there. It was put there, breathed there. So I exhale it in a long staggering, sobbing breath for I have no words left.

I try to communicate, but succeed in nothing. I am trying so hard. When I finally find words, they are misunderstood, and I break. I have no strength that lies in me.

Though I do not feel it, I must respond, "Thanks be to God." If my healing lay in my striving, all would be lost. But Christ is my healing and my strength.

So tonight, I will simply say what is true.

Christ is God.
Christ died for me.
Christ feeds me with himself.
God makes me his child.
I am not guilty.

I look at myself and see bigotry, pride, and rude offenses against others. In horror at my own image, I try harder and harder to rid myself of these stains. But the harder I strive, I simply hear those who are close to me now convicting me once again. So let me stop trying to defend myself.

It is also true that I am insensitive to the feelings of others. I have made my objection known during conversation by my rude mannerisms. I have indicted the views of others both intentionally and unintentionally in my words. I have refused to listen with humility and an open mind. And there is more, much deeper and worse. It is all true. I now stop denying it.

Yet Christ is truer still. He is not insensitive, rude, quarrelsome, condemning. Neither am I. He is humble. He did not deny or become defensive when guilt was found in him (even though the source of the guilt was not in him but in me). So I am perfect. I am Christ's. I look like him. Nothing will snatch me away from his hand. He gives me his righteousness in place of my stains rags and he gives me his flesh and blood in place of my putrid flesh and blood. Now will my whole spirit, soul, and body be sound and blameless at his coming. Indeed they are. Even as I weep for my sin that divides me from my brothers and sisters, I am as holy in body and soul as Christ.

You may find those statements arrogant. You may find them obnoxious. You may even resent them. You may feel as if I am degrading your views in some way or calling you "unchristian".

Then let me then be arrogant! Let me boast in the Cross of Christ! It may be foolishness. It may be idiocy, but it is the power of God unto Salvation.

Now I must turn off my computer. There is more....There is always more....

Christ's Peace!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Not an American

I knocked at her door. We had only ten minutes. She opened it.

"Are you ready to go?" I asked.

"Oh, I am about ready."

"We have only ten minutes till choir practice!"

"Oh...I forgot - you are American. Time is gold to Americans. Not so in [my country]."

We walk down-stairs and out into the evening cool.

"But Sarah, you are not really an American."

"You're right..."I stammered startled.

"You do not have America culture. It seems like you have your own culture. But you are not really an American. You are more like [my country] than America. But you are not all like my country either. You should come - you might like it. But you make a culture all to yourself."

"It is true," I admitted. "I was born in America, but I do not belong to American culture." I do not know the songs. I don't recognize the names of movies, tv shows, actors, singers. I don't know the slang. I don't even know how to act "blonde" or how to flirt. I truly can't pull off even pretending those personalities: I've tried.
I've always felt out of the loop. I do know some things, but what I know doesn't match what everybody else knows. I don't fit in.
And I refuse to fit in with some things. I live by certain standards that I will not compromise.
But there is adiaphora I would like to understand. I'd like to know what my fellows are refering to when they speak of music and art and movies and drama.
I'm the child who loves to talk to adults instead of children. The child who'd rather ask questions just to hear the elder's talk than eat candy or watch a cartoon. I'm the second grade child to whom the school librarian gave permission to enter the highschool section of the library because she'd read all the biographies in the elementary section. I'm the child who scratched rubber marks off the gym floor to earn the teacher's attention because she didn't want to paint nails with the other girls and learn about every new crush. I'm the child who always was "It" when the class played T.V. tag because the only show I ever watched was CRI's "Creation Network".

Then came a happier social season. 4H gave me a framework for interaction geared toward accomplishing a worthwile goal and producing a product. I mastered the language, the red tape, the methods, the business of it. I could talk to any child, youth, adult using the language of goats, barns, manure, pitchforks, shaving, milking, breeding, and butchers. Then as I joined the Teen Service Club, I gained the language and social framework of business and service. I interacted and socialized to my heart's content.

Homeschooling allowed me to choose my social peers. I could invite and visit friends who thought like me. I participated in events and co-operatives with youth who at least shared or understood my vocabulary even if they themselves belonged to the wider cultural group.

And church - church is where I know I belong even when I feel worse than the dust I from whence I was taken. At Emmaus, I know that what I say theologically will be understood even if it is wrong and merits a correction. I share a vocabulary there too. I have come to at least partially understand an existing social framework.

But now....Now 4H is gone. Now Homeschooling days are over. Now I come to church only on Sundays and that to soak up as much orthodox teaching as I can before plunging back into the sea of "emerging adults" seeking to "find truth for themselves".

In other words, I am cast back to the American social-cultural system. And I stick out like a sore thumb.
"You've never heard of the Jonas brothers?" a friend asks in shocked disbelief as I try to figure out whether this new phenomenon is movie, book, music, T.V. star or other.
I fooled myself to believe that I'd catch on - that I'd figure out American pop culture and slang pretty quickly. But I can't learn in a few weeks the things my peers have been immersed in before they even came home from the Labor and Delivery ward. And I wonder, "Why should I try to learn these things?"
I guess I try to learn new things if they are important to me. Things become important to me if I care about them, or if they are important to someone I care about. I guess that is the reason I make a vague attempt to acquire some vague knowledge of pop culture. But pop culture doesn't appeal to me. I don't know why I should be giggly and talk about every guy who casts a glance my way. I don't like to talk about how something is "sexy" or the clothes that are "in". That vocabulary doesn't have any meaning to me. I don't have time to watch every movie on the planet or listen to everybody's music. So I try to keep quiet and try not to trip over my tongue.
That is why I eat dinner with the group of multicultural/international students when I can. They don't quite fit into the culture either, though they often understand American culture better than I do. We can all be our own different selves without rubbing anyone's feathers the wrong way. And we do, at least I do, very much enjoy being together and free to be goofy and make mistakes knowing that everyone will only love you more for being different than the surrounding culture.

I'm not sorry I don't understand American culture. I only had so much time to learn and what I learned in my few years I would not trade for the world.
I had parents who actually engaged me in discussion and debate. I learned to care for living creatures. I read every book I could get my hands on and by doing so, learned to write. I learned to work in the dirt with my hands and take pleasure in that work. I learned to think. I learned diplomacy and patience. I gained a firm grounding in science, mathematics, history - what is.

But now I'm out in the world and I'm different enough that people notice. There's no problem in being different. But sometimes, you get lonely for someone to be different in the same ways you are different. At the very least, you want someone to listen to and challenge the reasons why you are different.
I get the feeling that most of the outward "different-ness" of people is just for fun or on a whim. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about idea or worldview different-ness. Sometimes outward different-ness stems from idea different-ness. That is the different-ness that I'm refering to.

Anyway, I'll never belong to American culture. My international friend is right about that. I do have my own culture. But a culture of one is a pretty lonely culture to live in. I am working on entering into the wider culture while still retaining my own - a interesting balancing act. It's a little painful. I'm not sure I want to be other than I am.

In a way, I've become more like a child here at school than I ever dared to be at home. At home, I tried to put on the responsible-eldest-sibling-interacting-with-adults hat. But here, I sing in the shower, hop down stairs in bounces, twirl in the breeze, and tease, joke, and laugh like a baby with the dinner group.

And I'm very sorry, but I can't think of an appropriate conclusion. This isn't blog-quality, but I'm going to post it anyway because I need to. Don't understand? That's O.K. You don't have to.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hispanic Festival

Ahoy, my readers!

At last I took a break from my homework mountain. I thought I had a lot of homework with both community college and co-op. Ha! I was wrong. You haven't seen homework until you get up at 6:30am, go to sleep between 12:30 and 1am and do nothing but go to classes, do homework, and grab food inbetween.

Tonight I went to the Grand Rapids Hispanic Festival with the multicultural program I'm in. Since most girls in my hall are in that program about seven girls (mostly internationals) and I formed a group and traversed the festival together.

I discovered a very interesting aspect of Hispanic vending: about half of the items are Roman Catholic paraphernali roughly divided into crucifixes and Virgin Marys. That is definitely a good place to get cheap crucifixes! I found a very interesting plain piece of "jewelry" (if jewelry is an appropriate word) which I couldn't resist purchasing at the cost of five dollars. It is a plain wooden cross on the top of which is a dove. At the bottom sits a chalice with a wafer above it.

I've been trying to figure out the theology of the symbol. On one hand (and the assumption I bought it on) the cross could be a beautiful confession of the real presence and the potency of the Blessed Sacrament. On the other (which only just occurred to me), could it be a Roman Catholic statement of the sacrifice of the mass? I'm not sure. At any rate, the cross is very cool and I might have amused a few of my friends by taking such a long time viewing rosaries and crosses.

End of disorganized post. Good Night!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Kyrie Eleison!

If you read this, pray for me. That's all.

Kyrie Eleison!

It's not really that bad. It'll be worked out by tomorrow.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Oh Bless My Anna!

My wonderful sister sent me Astronaut Ice Cream! What could possibly be better for supper than that? It isn't much and it isn't healthy, but it's brain food.

God bless that girl!

Missing Supper

Slam a hole right in the middle of my nice day: I missed supper.

Ok, so maybe God has a reason for me to miss supper. I'm not complaining. But I guess I'd really, really like to.

I'm considering foraging in the basement to see if our Resident Director left any munchies in the fridge.

Homework on an empty stomach just won't be the same. Ugh! I guess forty days and forty nights is a whole lot longer to fast than just missing one meal. And praying on an empty stomach can't be any easier than studying!

Monday, August 25, 2008

What I Am Of:

My dear reader,

For my First Year Seminar, we are required to write this brief explanation of ourselves and our background. The example (and most of my fellow student's work) begins with the form, "I am from..." I have modified that to, "I am of..." for a variety of different reasons, non of which I can fully articulate at this hour.

Christ's Peace to all of you!

I am of Eve, mother of all living, deceived and misleading her husband.
I am of Adam who shirked his God-given vocation to shelter and care for his wife.
I am of Christ who bore their penalty and mine.
I am of paternal Pilgrim Holiness and maternal Roman Catholicism.
I am of water, blood, flesh and words.
I am of analogy, symbols, ceremonies, and rituals.
I am of Joan of Arc, my first heroine.
I am of Henty, Hugo, Tolkien, Alcott, Lewis, Augustine, Luther, Orczy and other authors.
I am of my ancestors – those whose stories I know and they of whom I know not.
I am of William Wallace, whose name is my heritage, and Robert the Bruce whose tale fires my heart.
I am of the blood, sweat, tears, sacrifices and prayers of the unknown many.
I am of lonely years of longing for friendship and years of self-righteous pride.
I am of the Triune God who crushes to the dust and heals body and spirit.
I am of a broken confession and a soul-healing absolution.
I am of nannies, teachers, parents, and professors who strive to engender wholesome knowledge and train a mind to think critically.
I am of a little goat who taught me to care for a creature other than myself.
I am of a 4H community that took me knowing nothing, and transformed me into a leader, a president, a secretary, and a County Council representative.
I am of a caprine herd that forced me to learn responsibility: to rise in the night to feed premature infants, to break my back shoveling manure, to milk in freezing temperatures, to diagnose and medicate, to throw myself into a cause, to be an advocate, to face wrenching decisions, to grieve.
I am of a young brother’s death in faith.
I am of an Ecuadorean tutor who broadened my world.
I am of Medicine, History, Logic, and Theology.
I am of friends who still care for me even though I wound them.
I am of hours of painful struggling with truth and how to find it.
I am of pastors who gently showed me truth, true peace, and rest; my shepherds and fathers in the faith.
I am of a mother’s struggle to submit to a God-given vocation.
I am of an extensive home-schooling community composed of all types of students.
I am of misunderstood stereotypes.
I am of physicians who live in soil: academicians who work with their hands as well as their minds.
I am of world-changers who keep to the background: those who fight for the life of the unborn in obscurity.
I am of poetry and drama.
I am of hymnody and song.
I am of “A Man for All Seasons” and the story of Thomas Moore who hid himself behind the Law.
I am of the forests and lakes, the pastures and gardens, the orchards and back roads.
I am of siblings who have loved, hurt, forgiven, teased, challenged, and demanded, with whom I have laughed and cried, argued and pondered.
I am of all those things which I cannot here put into words.
I am of things which have yet to be.
I am of perfection amidst impotence, holiness within impurity, faith through unbelief.
I am “simul iustus et peccator” – God’s own child.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

As Humanity Streams Past

“Excuse me, sir. What are you thinking? Ma’am, what is going on in that mind and heart of yours?”

No matter where I sit or stand or walk at the fairgrounds, streams of humanity flow past me. Each face, each life, each experience of every person is different. Each mind thinks, each heart feels different thoughts and feelings. Watching me carry on my life, no one would guess what tumult rumbles in my heart and in my brain. Just so, I wonder what other people are experiencing and thinking deep inside where they cannot even put thoughts into words.

That elderly man with the cane sitting in the sun on the bench – what is he thinking? Is he grateful for the warmth, or does the heat burn him? Is he remembering his own youth? What kind of memories are those? Is he peacefully enjoying the day or does loneliness pain him as he observes the families go past?

That young lady strolling along with the tall lad at her side – what does she feel? Is the boy her brother, her friend, possibly a suitor or fiancée? Is her heart secretly swelling for joy at his presence, though she will not show it? He whispers something, and she laughs mirthfully. What was the thought that produced such laughter? Was it the content of what he said, or the very fact that he spoke? Does he understand and share her joy? What is he thinking? Are the scents of greasy fried-food tantalizing his nostrils and stomach bringing back thoughts of years past, or do they nauseate him with the thought of impending heartburn?

The child racing past, weaving in and out of the fair-going traffic – why is he running? Does his heart race with fear that he will miss his show? Has he already had many problems in this day? Is he struggling against tears? Does he remember the kindness of God or has he never even heard of Christ’s free forgiveness? Or is he possibly only thinking of his awaiting lunch? And what about his lunch? Is he hoping that the sandwiches are peanut butter and jelly or is he harboring a hope for greasy, hot corndogs? Why does he want a corn dog? Is there some sort of status or satisfaction that comes from eating corndogs?

The family going by – what are they all thinking? The frazzled mother – is she thinking about where all her children are at every given moment, in addition to trying to locate displayed projects and deciding what to cook up for supper? Is she wishing her husband would reach the fairgrounds soon? Is she worried about animal care and showing, or has she only brought her young’uns to view the projects of other children? The girl pestering her to go to the circus – why does she want to see the circus so badly? What does the word “circus” mean to her? Has she waited all year for the moment of the circus?

The young couple walking yonder hand in hand, the wife obviously expecting soon, what are they thinking? Is the father’s heart full with the wonder of his soon-to-be-revealed son or daughter? When he smiles down at her, is he thinking of how he can serve her this day? When he furrows his brow, is he thinking of a recent argument, bad news from his boss, a sick parent?

And how many of these people are pondering philosophical questions of worldview even if they do not know it? How many are longing for love? How many are eaten away at by guilt? How many are worried about the next hour, the next day, the next week, the next year? How many have no idea what the future holds for them and look on it with terror? How many are plagued with worry over the things of this world which do not satisfy? How many rest secure in the forgiveness of sins?

I wish people would share their mind more often, at least when their thoughts can benefit others. But sharing one’s thoughts doesn’t seem to be very “acceptable” currently: for one thing, it’s dangerous when you are worried about protecting yourself from others, for another, it often makes other people uncomfortable. I, myself, have been scolded for sharing my thoughts too freely. A good portion of that body of scolding is justified; another portion I cannot understand and it saddens me.

I often wonder what my siblings are thinking. Silence can be a good thing, but frequently I wonder as the room grows still, what are they thinking? What are my family members trying to express? Why do they respond in that way to that comment? How do my action influence their thoughts?

It is mind-boggling to think of how many thoughts are going on at the same time when you survey humanity streaming past. All of those minds, no matter how limited they be, are precious – even that of the disabled boy who introduced himself to us during lunch. It’s also mind-boggling how God knows all those thoughts and cares for each person at every moment.

It is hard enought to understand my own thoughts and feelings. I am so glad that what I think and feel doesn't determine my identity. I am baptized: I am a child of God! I am so glad that I do not have the burden of never being sure of my salvation as the Roman Catholic gentleman Anan and I talked to today. My salvation is not dependent upon me saying "Yes" to Jesus every moment of my life. My salvation was "signed when our Redeemer died, sealed when He was glorified!"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Deep Breath

Now that entry day is finally ended, I can be more optimistic and cheerful about the rest of fair week.

I will begin with an shameless advertisement for [our] County Youth Fair. A beautiful, well-kept and well-organized fairgrounds houses displays of everything under the sun – from livestock to food, woodcraft to sewing, flowers to photography, veggies to house pets. In addition, vendors peddle their tongue-tempting wares only in well ordered, designated areas. And if you truly want to “get into” the fair experience, you can visit the farm equipment areas, the historical building, attend scheduled grandstand events, or even watch a few animal shows. Were one infected by a desire to own a few animals himself, auctions of small and large animals take place on Thursday and Friday.

Anyway, since you are now thoroughly convinced to come up to the fair this week, I’ll describe what my day looks like tomorrow.
Wake at 6am. Arrive at Fair around 7am. Do rabbit chores. Begin washing/ scrubbing goats for showmanship (nasty work this). Hand off a few cleaned and prepared goats to nicely, whitely dressed siblings (who will, preferably keep themselves white at least until the show starts). Clean myself up (which might include showering, and will definitely entail a clothes change into showroom whites). Review ADGA Senior Doe scorecard. Watch younger siblings show.
Watching the younger showmanship classes is a critical part of preparing to show, because by watching the judge and listening to his/her comments, I can generally figure out what this particular judge is looking for. Each judge has his own personal quirks and peeves. If I know that bump-setting impresses the judge, I’ll bump-set my goat instead of hand-setting. If I know that squatting will raise the judge’s opinion, I’ll squat instead of stand. Basically, it’s a kind of systematized flattery: you give the judge what she wants and she’ll give you what you want (ie: a nice placing).
Then I’ll enter the ring, do my best to control Caprina who thinks that the showring is a place for running, paste on a smile till that class is over, then milk out my darlings. Then change into Rabbit Showmanship clothes and run to the Rabbit Barn for Showmanship with my beautiful Flemish Giant “Addy” (short for Adiaphora).
Then I’ll run back to the goat barn to show market goats. Then I would have had to run back to the rabbit barn to show market rabbits, however, since two of our six market bunnies didn’t make market weight, I let Anna have the pen of two and decided not to sell rabbits this year. After all, I do have my 74lb market goat, “Lime”.
So, that’s as far ahead on Monday as I can see. After all that is finished, I’ll peek at what the rest of our entries earned. And hopefully we’ll go home in time to do some house clean-up: the place is a pit!

Oh, and Saturday I will be declaiming two poems by Sir Walter Scott. The plan had been to recite three, but three wouldn’t fit with-in the 7-10 minute time frame we are allowed. Ah well. I shan’t tell you which poems they be : if you want to know you’ll have to come hear them. Or ask my siblings. They’ve heard those poems more times than they’ed like.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Fair Anon Approacheth! And Vacation! And College!

Dah, doo, dah, doo.

This is a post of no great weight meant purely to treat with silliness the three fast approaching events requiring stressfilled preparation.

Sir Walter Scott. Yes, I know I'm crazy to try to memorize three or more poems of his in a week to declaim on Saturday, but somehow I'll do it. I love his poetry, even if this one rather irks me. Lady of the Lake and Marmion are definitely going to be on my wish list for Christmas.

I've still got to pack tack, clean more goats, ready the rabbits, fold origami, bake, arrange flowers, etc for fair.

And pack for vacation, and college.

Unfortunately, my family is dropping me at college half-way through vacation. Which means that everything I need for the first few weeks of classes must come with me on vacation. Oh, sad, rumpled, crinkled shirts! Must I subject you to such a state?

I'll get back to my work now and spare you more silliness.

{Big, silly, toothy grin from me to brighten up your day} :D

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Because I'm too lazy to move the post

If anyone cares to read it (If not, that's fine) there's a new post about three posts down.

Comment to Thinking Out Loud.

This was a comment. Was. Not is. :P

For what it is worth, we were taught in Interpersonal Communication, that no message will carry to the receiver exactly the meaning which the sender means it to have. Messages are "packaged", so to speak, using all of the prior experiences and thoughts of the speaker. Even when persons share the same set of experiences, they will never assign the exact same meaning and connotations to even a single word.But more than words, actions, dress, facial expression - everything communicates something, whether we like it or not and whether we intend for it to communicate or not. Humans are constantly seeking information about other people in an ongoing effort to ensure their own safety and the safety of those we love. Of course there is more to it than that. We cannot really care properly for a person without at least a rudimentary understanding of him or her. Because of this, we try to use what we know about a person to predict other things about a person: in other words, we stereotype. We could not survive without stereotypes. We expect a masked man with a shot-gun to be dangerous: we don't "wait till we get to know him better" to hide. We expect a doctor to wear a white coat and wash his hands. If he doesn't wash his hands, we might get sick.But on the other hand, sterotyping, or "pegging" people, is one of the surest way's of misunderstanding. Once you have "pegged" a person as being with this or that catagory, you view every move they make, every word they utter though that lens. For one person I met, every homeschooler automatically believed the earth was flat! For several of my fellow students, skirts mark Seventh-day Adventists. The tendency and neccessity of assuming certain things, as well as the certainty that nothing you say or do will be interpreted exactly as you intended, often leaves one feeling helpless and almost hopeless. We struggle to clarify our messages and be very clear and specific in our wordings. But I sometimes find myself throwing up my arms in disgust - ready to give up all striving to communicate. "What's it worth after all? Nobody will understand," my sinful nature whispers.
I find it interesting that the very Son of God, is the Word. When our words fail, this Word remains. And He does not stop speaking. When all we can do is whimper - and when we cannot even do that - He speaks for us and to us, to heal us. His words are living in that they act, accomplish his purpose. They are not frail or faulty like our words. Our words always fall short of the mark we aim at communicating. But His words never fail to act the very things he speaks. Our outward behavior will always be misunderstood, and often will succeed in effecting absolutely none of our designs. But Christ's outward behavior fully effected our salvation. What he communicated by His innocent suffering and death in our place covers all the hurt of our misunderstandings of him and one another. He is the Word who speaks and acts and accomplishes. In Him we share that perfect communication, though it wait for us in heaven.
When communication seems impossible and my soul moans, "Why do I even try?" There is rest in Christ. He communicated in my place. He understands in my place. I am understood in Him. And He still interceeds and prays for me when I have no words left.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

If God Himself be for me

If God Himself be for me, I may a host defy. For when I pray, before me, my foes confounded fly. If Christ my head and master befriend me from above, what foe or what disaster can drive me from His love?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rejoice With Me!

Please share my joy! I simply must share it with someone. Usually "joy comes in the morning" and not at 9 minutes to 11pm. But tonight it appeared rather belated. Never mind. It is here!

I managed to view my class schedule a moment ago and peek at what those wonderful registrars decided to do with my life for the next few months. I feel like I ought to send them a thank-you note (never mind that I have over 40 graduation thank-you's still waiting to be sent) : they scheduled me for exactly what I asked them!

So, come the twenty-eighth of August, in the Year of Our Lord two thousand and eight, at exactly (more or less, depending on the professors) 9:30 in the morning (am I correct in pronouncing that realm of time "ante matins"?) I will be sitting in a "health and fitness and other general goodies" class (in other words: a required class for nursing and freshmen that looks helpful and interesting and is officially labeled as a Kinesiology class).

Actually, to be honest, I'm having a hard time at the moment pinning down what day classes actually begin. The hope calendar decrees that classes shall begin the 26th of August; however, that day appears to be a Sunday. I do not think that the Calvinist school on which only two homosapiens were seen the Sunday Dad and I swung by will hold or begin any classes that day. So I can only assume that classes begin the Monday thereafter. But it also appears that I have no classes scheduled on Monday. That could change as Choir and Hebrew have yet to assign times. But discounting this fact, I will begin the 28th with a Kinesiology class, and have nothing else that whole, entire, glorious, brain-nurturing day.

Then begins the grind of study; but I plan to enjoy every turn of the gears. Hebrew, Kinesiology, the obligatory First Year Seminar, Spanish, Biology, Choir practices, getting to know my room-mate (who I think I will get along with quite well) and whatever other mischief I can get myself into.

But I'll be back every weekend - as long as someone picks me up. Yeah, the two Toyotas haven't been merged yet....and the vehicle permit is, um, very, very inexpensive.

So, rejoice with me! Life hasn't been, isn't, and won't be all roses and cotton candy. But here's a little of the sweets I'm currently eating. The sour and bitter aren't quite as much fun to share, though, dear reader, you have tasted quite a few of those dishes with me. Thanks for sampling!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Simmering Brain Juices: Or being a collection of thoughts on listening, loitering, contraception and love

Because it is after 11:30pm and therefore the literary brain juices are starting to simmer....

So I read both more and less than I let on. Like a few of my acquaintances, I enjoy merely listening to thought provoking conversation without anyone knowing that I am around, if that can be managed. (If the reader must know, Pastor Questioning can also serve this function when concerns do not weigh down my spirit.) It may seem weird for the loud, always-talking truthquestioner to confess a desire to listen - but it is so. I've always had this love of listening, but it is not a love of listening for the sake of listening. No, I love listening for the sake of learning, for the sake of feeding the voracious mind that sometimes manages to stay between my ears instead of flying away up in the clouds.

Some (glances pointedly at Nick Ig) may have discovered that I enjoy food immensely and make it my business not to miss a meal - or a dessert. Yet, even that delight of my body in it's sustenance pales in comparison with the craving of my mind for the delight of words of insight and profundity. At FOR YOU, I was shocked to find that I could devote my entire meal time to reveling in giving attention to the words of pastors without even missing the food. Indeed I did not even want the food! Even now on the occasions where a conversation plumbing such depths continues nearby, I find myself spellbound, tied to my seat, listening. It is with the utmost reluctance that I allow myself to be called away from the savory feast; but I must remind myself that it is not my Lord who speaks and Martha is sorely pressed for assistance.

All this to say that I purposely loiter (when I have spare time and energy, or must satisfy the listening/thinking craving) around people and blogs which tend to stimulate hard, demanding thought-labor on my part. But I seldom make my presence known. What would be the point? If I comment, the philosophers might feel it an annoyance and take their precious words elsewhere. Besides that, the moment I open my mouth, I expose my utter ignorance. In addition, I find few that truly understand or share my enjoyment in the twists and turns of hearty conversation about ideas and realities. For those who do not understand, my behavior could perhaps be quite puzzling and I might find non-existant motives impugned to myself to explain my loitering and commenting habits. For this reason I evesdrop on conversations and spy out other blogs as inconspicuously as I can. When I do comment, unless it is a person I am totally comfortable with, the comment is more with an aim to benefit the other person rather than express my own thoughts. There are exceptions.

(I guess, were I to be perfectly honest, I am often afraid of what other people might think of me and even more of what they might say. I know this is not right, but it is a very, very real fear. Would that my sinful heart could trust a little more.)

But sometimes, I find that I must think about some of the things which I read and hear. And in order to work through a rather large "think", I find it helpful to write. So I will write....

....about love.

Understand that I am taking you along on a developing "think". Who knows whether the ending conclusion I make after this post is completed will be drastically different - yes! maybe even contradict what I will here write. But the the "think" must be thought.

week-long intermission. Now I am back.

Almost two weeks ago, a certain post on the Four and Twenty Blackbirds caught my attention, abruptly, and for some unknown reason reminding me of a puzzling think which had begun about the time I first began to frequent the Emmausite youth blogs. Accordingly, I returned to the source of the source just in time for my train of thought to run itself off the tracks. But Pastor Stuckwisch's recent post recalled my previous ruminations.

So, the question is: Is there such a thing as "love at first sight" in the true Christian sense of the word "love"?

My first tendency would be to sarcastically say, "No. Of course such a concept is silly sentimentality." But is it?
Of course, I would not deny "infatuation at first sight". Some people are simply attractive and draw our attention and admiration. But is that true "love" which gives itself to it's neighbor, as Christ does to his church, not seeking to be served but to serve? I think not?

But wait! Is it impossible that a person could truly seek to serve their neighbor as Christ does from the moment they first meet? I think it would be foolish to pronounce this impossible. In fact, it just occured to me that perhaps we are all called to "love at first sight", yes, even before first sight, for our neighbors. Sometimes this means that we deny ourselves from satisfying the desires of what the world calls "love" in order to serve in true love.

So, I would not scorn the concept of "love at first sight" properly understood and defined. But I think there is another facet as well. Love is not just a warm, fuzzy, genial feeling of happy-go-lucky-ness with the world and all who are in it. Love has an object and acts for that object.

In some cases, the object is a brother or sister in Christ, other times, it is a sibling, a parent, a spouse. In each of these cases, the actions motivated by love find different forms of service. Obviously, I do not serve my brother as I do my mother. The form of service love takes in acting is determined both by the respective vocations of the two individuals and their respective personal needs.

But how can you fill a need when you do not understand that a need is present? This is where communication and understanding plays a big role in love. You must understand a person in order to recognize in what areas the love Christ gives to you can serve them.

But here's the problem. You don't understand or truly "know" a person the moment you set eyes upon him/her. Learning to understand better, though worthwhile, is difficult, and slow. Add "infatuation at first sight" to the mix and "getting to know" a person becomes even more difficult.

So I guess the point I'm trying to get at is that Love finds its place in service and service is limited until a person becomes better known. If one were to presumptuously assert that he/she "loves" a person (particularly in the romantic context) before he/she knows the other well, it might easily be said that the one making the assertion "loves" a person who does not exist - loves the person created out of his/her own mind.

Anyway...I'm not real certain about the last paragraph, but I'm toying with it.

Another blogpost caught my attention tonight, bringing back to my mind a rather sad comment I heard while eavesdropping:

A good friend was talking to a group of ladies and happened to mention several families at Emmaus who are blessed with five or more children.

The immediate response was: "Oh my ..." followed by silence. Then a Lutheran lady spoke up. "Don't they know about birth control at that church?"

Unfortunately, this is not shocking, though disheartening. One would wish that all Lutherans, yes! all Christians were duly catechized on life and reproductive issues. I wish I were so catechized. But at least I know that children are God's good gift and not to be spurned, avoided, or thrown away but received with thanks.

But I've stayed up an hour later than I promised myself I would. And the brain juices have kinda gelled up into a sticky mess. So I bid my dear reader, "Good Night."

A Conversation: Sorry

This isn't one of my most interesting posts (at least, it's not of the caliber of the posts I really keep this blog for) but I had to record a certain conversation which may shed light on the characteristic character of a couple characters.Understand that this is a shortened paraphrase of what took place, but Snap can testify to its overall veracity. I wish I could remember it as it happened, it would be more interesting that way, but I can't.

tq: Oh! Ow. My foot really hurts!

snap: I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to crush your foot with the seat.

tq: I know that, and I already told you that I forgive you.

A few minutes later, tq moves her foot to the brake and groans again.

snap: I'm soo sorry, TQ!

tq: It's ok. I told you I forgive you. Stop saying you are sorry.

snap: I'm sorry.

tq: No, no, no. Don't be sorry for being sorry. I just want to groan without you saying you are sorry again.

snap: Sorry.

tq: Stop saying sorry! I forgave you and I'm really, truly not mad at you. But if you keep saying sorry I'm might get upset.

snap: Sorry.

tq: When you say, "sorry," I feel guilty for making you sorry and then I feel sorry. Please, please, stop saying you are sorry.

snap: Sorry!

tq: {laughs}.................................

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Snuffling up Shampoo.

Someone please explain to me how it is possible to accidentally sniff a quantity of shampoo into one's nose thereby burning the nostrils and pharynx and such areas of the airway.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Something remotely obscure and meant to befuddle your mind while my mind is otherwise occupied.

If you can read this, you are too far away.

Pray, interpret.

Must there be an interpretation?

What if there is no interpretation?

And no, I am not depressed. I am simply relatively elated and exhausted. Which means that I should not be typing. And which further means that I should not publish this post which I will proceed to do anyway.

I suppose that to make this post worthwhile I ought to document some of the circumstances which have precipitated the lack of anything of substance being published to this blog for the past few weeks. I am playing cook/nurse/chambermaid/servant/secretary/glass-breaker/lemonade spiller/ clothes washer/annoyer/abandoning-er/and whatever else is needed. I can't say that I've done a very good job. (Come one, I've only broken one glass. You'd think I could drop at least five!)

The Only Fabulous Harrison Person is at home, more or less both in my charge and acting as commanding officer. So far she has not had much to do. The first few days, people dropped by, but today she has seen no other face than mine (and of course, the talking heads squished flat on the talking screen).

The tasks to which I am put are not difficult, but they are consistent and regular, though not constant. This leaves me considerable time for day-dreaming and for late night, email loitering.
Today, I put the house in order, helped Karen wash her hair, did general cleanup, let in the Physical Therapist and the Nurse, made lunch, then bid OFHP farewell for the afternoon. I ran into town, bought rabbit feed, had keys made, (ran another secret errand for which I may later be loudly berated: Let the reader understand), arrived at home, and was immediately set to emptying my room into the living room. So now, all my earthly possessions - every single last one of them - are sitting in disorderly heaps and more orderly box stacks in the middle of family living quarters. I shed a few tears while packing things away. Jaff, my Giraffe has seen better days as has my Lady Bunny.

It almost seems as if I am putting to rest a section of my life. As if a volume has been completed and a sequel may shortly be written. What strikes me as so strange is the fact that many of the "laws" if you will, which governed the previous book, and if not the laws, then definitely the "rules of thumb", are no longer binding. My former thoughts, and dreams, and plans now seem either fulfilled or ... gone! And look where I will, I cannot find them again.

Another way in which I seem to be between sections of my life struck me tonight. All the specific plans and dreams I have ever made have dealt with the portion of my life between Kindergarten and the beginning of college. College was a goal - an endpoint. But now I find myself standing on the brink gazing at a horizon I cannot understand, thinking many thoughts which utterly amaze and abash me, trying to get my balance before I plunge into the storm looming ever nearer.

I am not at all what I thought I would be at this age and stage in life. I had dismissed many of the feelings of literary characters as sentimental extravagance meant to delight the imagination of the writer and reader, rather than actual emotions and thoughts when I was younger. Now, I begin to question my youthful preconceptions.

When I was a child, I thought like a child. I created schemas for interacting with peers and adults. I manufactured frameworks for understanding not only how adults would behave, but why they behaved in certain ways. In my mind, I thought I understood how my parents and others felt, thought and acted in response to various circumstances. According to what I thought I understood, I determined to act. In other words, I decided beforehand, what I would think, how I would feel, and how I would act, when I became the age I am now.

What do you know? It isn't working. Should I be surprised? No.

But since a book has closed tightly shut and no more can be written therein, and I find that I still have enough loose leaves left between that volume and the one to come, I ought to find out the rules and laws which govern the pages I am about to turn. There is just enough room left in the torn out pages to take notes. I am eager to learn. I hope to find time to feel out the lay of the land with my parents, pastors, friends before the next scene opens.

But some things do not change. They continue from one book to the next, from one age to another, and from the beginning to the end. Christ is He who was, and is, and is to come. He sharpened the pen, prepared the ink, brought the paper. He wrote the first word on the first page. He dedicated it to his Father and wrote His own Name across the cover. He bound the pages together. He wrote the chapters; and even when I tried to tear the pen away from Him and spilt the ink across the page, he turned the smudges into designs I could never have imagined. Many times I wept over the pages, for to me it seemed that what He had written stripped me of my heart's greatest desires. But then He turned the page and the story continued, and my heart was healed. Often I thought I understood where the tale was headed, so I planned the next chapter. But when He finally penned that portion, it was nothing like what I had thought or imagined. Were my imaginations then for nought? I do not think so, but that is not the topic at hand. Now at last, it seems He has finished the manuscript, and lo! I find it was only a prologue - a precursor to another volume. I am confused, and impatient. Do you call that a story? Where is the ending? What did that girl whose life you have written do? Wait! Perhaps this is the story of the Writer not of the Page that was written upon...

And there is another parchment being unrolled - the same as the previous, and yet different. I am not to be the writer of this book just as I was not the writer of the last. Too often I think of the previous scroll as merely a good example so that now I can take control and pen a good tale myself. That is a dangerous lie! For if I could spill so much ink on the pages when I had less guile, what grevious damage I should do now were I to hold the pen solely in my own faltering grasp! These coming pages differ from the previous ones only in story written upon them: the Writer and the Page remain the same.

The afterword of the first volume and the introduction to the second are being written. The content of those pages I cannot tell.

But I do not need to know! There is comfort here. The Author of my life knows what He will write. His name is on the book and that is enough. Nothing will end the story until He lays down His pen. His work is faultless. What have I to fear? Even the moments which seem so useless - the paragraphs which seems so nonsensical - are His gift, His pen flourishes.
Why should I be discouraged that I have done so little to make Another's story grand and glorious? What cause have I to despair over my lack of works, when no works of my own are needed?

My life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is my life appears, I also will appear with him in glory!

So ends a period of my life and begins another. But Christ continues. My baptism marked me at the beginning and will still mark me at the end. My sustenance is still the same Body and Blood of my Lord. My clothing is still the righteousness of Christ: His forgiveness. My life is still only in Jesus' Word. What else do I need to know?

I am naive and know not what to expect. But that is okay. I'm content to walk next to my Daddy with my hand in His. He knows the way even though I don't. He won't hurt me. He loves me. I am content.