Sunday, December 30, 2007

neighbor, silence and craic

-My neighbor on the plane helping me put on my coat. There's something so endearing about someone guiding the sleeve to your arm.

-Passing under bridges and hearing the heavy rain be suddenly silenced, only to come back into heavy rain a second later. It feels like travelling between two worlds: one wet, drippy and pounding, and another, silent, dry and dark.

-Getting a voicemail from my friend Ian letting me know he's in town, and knowing the next couple of days will be a fun mini-Belfast-crew reunion.

Friday, December 28, 2007

hello again

-Hours of catching up in my old college coffee shop with some old college friends.

-Taking a really long time to wake up by watching t.v. and hanging out with my sister.

-Being greeted by my sister's dog Hayden when we got home. He was so cute, happy and affectionate.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

rise and dine

-A great night's sleep where I didn't even move at all.

-Breakfast with my sister at an adorable old-fashioned diner.

-Finding exactly what I needed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas day

-That feeling of waking up and knowing that the day's a bit more special...because it's Christmas.

-Sitting outside reading in the warm sunlight and feeling completely relaxed.

-Hanging out with family: sharing gifts, cooking & eating, watching movies and telling corny jokes.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

-The familiar clinking of coffee cups letting me know it's social hour at my house (i.e. time to get up and drink coffee and enjoy bleary-eyed conversation).

-Waking up to cold, finally Christmas-like, weather.

-Watching the full moonlight reflect off the railroad tracks, like a beacon leading us home.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

under the Texan sun

Sorry it's been so long! With work, getting ready for Christmas, traveling, funerals**, phone calls and more, blogging's fallen by the wayside. I'll be better about posting now, I promise! (Although posting pictures at home is proving a bit tricky.)

**This post is dedicated to my Aunt Louise, who read my blog every day, and who will be very missed by us all.**

-Sitting outside in the warm Texas sunlight, reading a book and petting my parents' dog, Fritz.

-Finally getting a really great night's sleep.

-The perfect turkey avocado sandwich for lunch.

-Catching up with family.

-Getting an email that confirms my first "conversation" about being a mission worker with P.C. (U.S.A.) staff.

Monday, December 17, 2007

cooking, confirmation and chorus

-Clay emailing me great pictures of the family, including one where my Mamacita and I are cooking. I can't wait to be home and cooking for Christmas.

-An elderly man in church coming up to me after Lessons and Carols. I had done one of the readings, and he gave me a huge hug and said, "I'm so glad you're in my life. God has great things in your future! I'm so glad I know you." It was just what I needed to hear, and confirmed for me why God has me here instead of home already.

-A smile from someone just when the song we were singing in church mentioned smiling.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

courageous acts

Emily and me.
-Being given an awesome coffee mug by Emily, my good friend who is done with seminary (sad). It says: "Peace also takes courage." A good thing to remind myself every morning as I drink my coffee, knowing that wherever I go next year as a peacemaker, I'll need to take courage with me.

-Helping one of the youth lead worship, and having a ton of people come up afterwards to tell him what a great job he did.

-The older woman in church who, once she heard I was in seminary, said "We need more women leadership in the church." I agree.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

bittersweet snickers

(I actually made a video of how laid-back and silly we are.)

-Having friends come over again for Sex & the City Tuesdays at my place. We always laugh, drink wine, watch Sex & the City and eat ridiculous amounts of chocolate and cheese. It was Claudia and Emily's last night, so it was really bittersweet, but so fun to all hang out. This has been a tradition for 2 1/2 years, and I always love it.

-Hanging out with the youth as we cleaned up from Wednesday night dinner and played games and realized that this is the part of my job I love.

-Going over to Karen's to hang out and being greeted by Snickers the dog. Karen was dog sitting and it was so fun to have a dog to play with. Snickers is awesome.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

merry christmas, charlie brown!

-Eating lunch outside in the 75-degree December. It was really nice to not have to bundle up.

-A cute little Charlie Brown looking Christmas tree outside a house.

-Having an amazing spark of productivity, and getting all of my final papers done early!

Monday, December 10, 2007

unexpected productivity

-Working in a coffee shop and having a ray of sunshine come through the window and land on me.

-Unexpectedly running into my friend Sara who I worked with this summer. I haven't seen her in forever, and it was so great to catch up.

-A really productive afternoon where I actually got more done than was on my to-do list.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

soup, special & shampoo

-Being invited to stay for lunch at church, and having the most delicious soup, sandwich and cake. I noticed how completely at ease I was, and realized how much this church has cared for me.

-We had our youth Christmas party tonight, and I was really tired beforehand. But the party turned out really fun: I caught a second wind, we had more youth come than I expected, we sang "opera-style" Christmas carols while I played guitar, and during the mystery gift exchange, one of the youth gave me the dark chocolate bar he got because he knew I liked it. All in all, a great time, and well worth the energy it required.

-Treating myself to some new shampoo because I had to go grocery shopping after the party and a session meeting. It smells really nice, and will be sure to wake me up in the morning (something I really need these busy days!).

Saturday, December 08, 2007

driving and dancing

-Doing work in a coffee shop and having a couple of seminary friends stop by randomly. It's so fun to see people you don't expect to see.

-Driving to hear one of the youth play in her band concert and realizing it was much further away than I had anticipated. This meant that I had extra time driving with my windows down, singing along to the radio and seeing the Georgia countryside. It was a perfect Saturday drive.

-Being in a room full of people at the CTS Christmas banquet who I really enjoy being around. It was so fun to see everyone all dressed up and dancing.

Friday, December 07, 2007

holiness actually is all around

-Going into Richards Center and hearing drumming and clapping. The Black Seminarians Association was in the middle of a Kwanzaa celebration, and they let me join in with clapping, dancing and shaking this neat drum thing. It was really fun.

-Attending a Buddhist prayer service for class, and discovering that it was only two monks (one male, one female) who lived in the ashram and prayed every morning and night. They had turned what was once a crack house in Atlanta into their dojo. I meditated with them (with some distraction as my legs went numb) as they drummed and chanted and was moved by their sincere devotion. Then, they invited me to have a simple dinner with them, as they broke their week-long fast for peace. It was so comfortable and relaxed to be eating dinner with two Buddhist monks I had never met and learn their philosophy of simplicity, pacifism and enlightenment. It was a holy experience.

-Watching a familiar movie and knowing my favorite lines before they were spoken.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

savoring sweetness

-The satisfying crunch and minty taste of a candy cane.

-Falling asleep with a feeling of savoring these next few months here in seminary, while they last.

-Being in the dark chapel with my entire class and sitting in complete contemplative silence. I could actually feel God there...a sort of warm heaviness around, above and within me. I knew that God equally held every soul there and I was overwhelmed by the silent prayers swirling around me.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

conversations, clothes closet and chestnuts

-Catching up with good friends on the phone.

-Karen knocking on my door and presenting me with a pair of vintage leather shoes tied up in a lovely scarf that she got at the Clothes Closet (our free seminary resale shop). It was so thoughtful.

-Deciding today that it is officially close enough to Christmas to listen to Christmas music. Nat will be serenading me (via my record player) for weeks now about chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

Monday, December 03, 2007

God in stars, music, heights, water and trees

-Seeing two shooting stars in three days. They were both shockingly bright, like meteors.

-Pain in my fingertips and hands brought on by a weekend full of guitar playing and djembe drumming.

-Being outdoors and re-discovering my "outdoorsy" self. I rock climbed for the first time in a really long time, and even got to kayak on the lake. Watching the water reflect the sky and trees in a moment of complete stillness was idyllic and inspiring.

-Hiking through unknown forests and catching a glimpse of the sun through trees.

Friday, November 30, 2007

thinking, listening, comforting

-Going to Thinking Man's, a seminary tradition. I haven't been in a while, and it was so great to see so many people and flit from conversation to conversation. Some non-seminary friends even showed up not knowing I would be there, and I got to catch up with them too.

-Listening to a song called "Falling Slowly" and looking out my window to see a single leaf fall slowly.

-Comfort in a large cup of tea.
I'm out of town for the weekend, but will post again on Monday.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

swish, support and shine

-The swishy sound of a brush on canvas.

-Feeling a little overwhelmed with work and having wonderful people immediately offer to help.

-A brilliant moon shining through trees. It was both eerie and beautiful at the same time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

laughter and kindness

-The sound of eight friends laughing together all at once. During the course of our hanging out, this happened several times.

-A bright yellow tree outside my window that was a beautiful contrast against the blue sky.

-A kind compliment.

Monday, November 26, 2007

borrowed, breakfast and 'brellas

-Wearing my mom's (correction) 31-year-old velvet coat again.

-Coming into work a bit tired and hungry this morning and finding fresh coffee and cinnamon rolls.

-The plink-plunk sound of rain hitting my umbrella, leaves and puddles.

Friday, November 23, 2007

again and for the first time

-Drinking coffee in the morning with my family, all wrapped up in a cozy blanket (me--not my entire family).

-A moment of complete stillness outside in the cold night, looking over the moonlit yard, where I was by myself but did not feel at all alone.

-Watching my parents feel their granddaughter kick for the first time.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

reunited & refreshed

-My sister waving with both her arms at me when she came to the airport to pick me up.

-Seeing my good friend Angelina in my favorite old coffee shop from college, and catching up on life since we've last seen each other.

-Walking with my Mom and Aunt, enjoying the coolness of winter and that gorgeous, massive Texas winter sky.

(One more: laughter coming from the next room which makes me want to leave the computer as soon as possible!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

wind, light, water

-Watching bright yellow leaves fall like rain, only more gracefully. Rain mostly falls straight down, while these leaves danced in currents of the wind. I couldn't take my eyes away.

-Light reflected through my glass-bottled Coke. After completing papers and applications, I indulged in an afternoon spent eating takeout Thai food on the square while reading.

-The relaxing feel of having my hair washed before a haircut. It wasn't quite Robert Redford in Out of Africa, but still pretty nice.

Monday, November 19, 2007

delightfully decadent

-Being in the right place at the right time.

-The little girl in the pizza shop who squealed with delight when her mom handed her a cup for her drink. How great would it be if we adults held onto our childish enthusiasm?

-Song sneaking over to me in the quiet study room of the library to present me with a delicious caramel pecan chocolate.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

once upon a swell season

(thanks for the pics, Jessi.)
-Seeing the best live show I've seen in ages. I saw Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, known as "The Swell Season." They were both in this brilliant Irish film called Once. To have them literally right in front of me playing songs I knew so well from the film was both surreal and inspiring. I loved when Glen explained that the hole in his guitar (the same one he played in the movie) is because it's so well loved. He's even been offered a brand new guitar by Takamine (because they're embarassed at the shabby shape his is in), but he remains loyal to his original one.

-Being cheerfully greeted in a parking lot by someone I don't know.
-A proliferation of ladybugs around the doorway to my dorm. Today, I came inside and noticed one had landed on me and come in as well.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

a great night

-Noticing that the big tree on campus that was damaged in a storm has mostly healed over. It's amazing how stubtle the process of healing can be.

-A feeling of deep joy.

-Standing around the kitchen with friends, drinking wine and eating homemade corn tortillas folded into mini quesadillas with black bean soup. The conversation, Cuban music in the background and impromptu dancing was delightful.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

mail call

-Mailing in my application for mission service (the essay part). I'm so excited!!! Next comes references and the presbytery endorsement form, but I already had a professor (my mission prof no less) offer to be a reference. It's really happening!

-Putting on a warm, fuzzy, oversized sweatshirt and spending the whole morning wearing it and my houseshoes as I did work inside.

-A steaming cup of mint hot chocolate to keep me warm during class.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

hijabs and highways

-Getting lost, which led to a beautiful drive through autumn-colored trees while listening to the radio.

-Rain. Georgia's in a severe drought, so the cold, steady rain is very welcome. I enjoyed wrapping my scarf around my head like a hijab and running through the rain to my car.

-While Karen told stories of her Middle East trip, she must have seen the longing on my face, because she gave me a big hug and said, "I'll visit you in Bethlehem when you live there."

Monday, November 12, 2007

praying and listening

-Catching a live show of Damien Rice on the radio that was so great I stayed in my car to listen after I got home.

-The little boy at dinner who blessed his food by saying loudly, "God, eat this food!"

-A powerful prayer used in my Feminist & Womanist Ethics class. It's by Carolyn Stahl Bohler:

"Infinite One,
May we have a right perspective on our very real finitude as well as our infinite capacities.
May we not fool ourselves into thinking that we can live forever or that we are capable of doing or being all things, even for a few people. May we not be self-sufficient. Yet may we never limit what you can do through us. May we have a little more wisdom, a little more love.
We hope for and expect much. May we know when these hopes are too high or too low. May you accelerate us or put on our brakes, in a gentle way.
Gratefully, Amen."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

tree of life

-Finding out that Ash and Clay are having a GIRL! I'm so excited!

-Being assessed as ready to receive a call and then be examined for ordination. For you non-seminary types, this basically means I can put my resume out there, and hope a missionary job involving reconciliation ministry comes my way. My committee was overwhelmingly encouraging, and I am just feeling so "full" at the moment.

-A hobbit-kind-of-Saturday. It began with me wearing the beloved and much desired velvet coat of my Mom's from college, which of course reminded me of what hobbits wear in Lord of the Rings. Then, I actually had lunch at the best little restaurant this side of Middle Earth, the Hobbit Cafe. It's in Houston, and I seem to always go there as a celebration of some milestone in this journey to ordination. Lastly, I found the greatest traveling bag that has a big tree of life on it, that is somewhat similar to the tree of Gondor in LotR. I know, I'm a huge nerd. Isn't it great? Oh, and best of all, the bag is fair trade! You know hobbits would shop fair trade. ;)

Friday, November 09, 2007

encouragement, whimsy and canopy

-Seeing a woman who remembered me from a meeting at the seminary last year where I shared my call story. She asked how it was all going, and was really encouraging, and I don't even know her.

-One of my favorite professors (Kathleen O'Connor) returning my small wave with a graceful twirl of the scarf in her hand at me as she said, "Hello!" It was such a joyful and whimsical way to be greeted.

-Walking under a canopy of bright trees and sunlight.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

flying, well-being and tomorrow

-A bird gracefully flying in the bright blue sky.

-A thoughtful email from Ed that said I was doing a good job as the youth director. He also ended it with "shalom," which is so meaningful to me.

-When we part ways, the way Jessi always says, "See you tomorrow!" Somehow, it's always true, whether we plan it or not.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

soil,trees and prayers

-The earthy smell when I water my plants. I remember learning in microbiology in college that some microbe produces the earthy smell when water hits soil.

-Red trees, followed by gold ones, followed by orange ones...

-Finding a really great prayer for class tonight.

Monday, November 05, 2007

dreaming of India

-Being invited over to dinner by Ruata and Nutie. They made me the most delicious Indian food, and I enjoyed conversation about culture and language with them and their daughter Pui Pui and her friend from Afghanistan. Even the bitter leaves and seeds they eat after meals called "pan" was a fun experience (although not nearly as delicious as the curry), especially because of their laughter at the look on my face as I ate it. I really appreciated being invited into their home.

-Well-earned sleep.

-Dan stopping by to bring Fred over for a visit (see last post). I was running late and frantically searching for my keys, and Dan instantly saw them sitting on a table by the tv. A different vantage point always helps.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

fred, matthew, katie, peter...

-The power of a dog named Fred to put me in a good mood. I dogsat for a friend for a couple of hours, and it was so nice to have a pet around.

-Being coerced into playing volleyball outside on campus. I am really not athletic, but was delighted that there was no pressure from my team. The first time I actually served decently, both teams cheered for me. So nice.

-Hearing Matthew Perryman Jones and Katie Herzig (along with Peter Bradley Adams), and being so familiar with their music that I knew what song they were playing by the opening chord.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

life imitating art

-Getting an email from a youth asking if she could bring a friend to our lock-in this weekend. I love that she's bringing a friend!

-The elderly man behind me in the grocery store checkout line who was only buying a card with a kitten on it. I enjoyed picturing the smile on his granddaughter's/wife's/daughter's/friend's face when (s)he opened it. I was also aware of how much effort it must have taken this man to go to the store on his own, pick out a card, and then wait patiently standing in a really long line.

-Doodling in class turning into art.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

laughter, lilies and listening

-Starting my day with laughter as I see the picture my sister emailed me of her in her Halloween costume for work. They had a contest today, and she won (look at her use that wand)!

-Picking a daylily, grateful I caught its bloom in time, and letting it gracefully float in a bowl of water.

-Staring up at the stars, my mind swirling with questions and hopes, and knowing that God hears me even when I don't speak them. Tonight especially, I know She hears me.

-A fourth for today: playing counting crows songs with Jessi outside on campus, and being joined randomly by two more guitarists and a drummer, creating a energetic jam session. It was so much fun.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

seasons of love

-A group of kids walking with their teachers in the cool morning adorned with a colorful variety of knit hats.

-Glancing out the window as I walked down the stairs and seeing a tree with lovely red leaves.
-Sitting down to write a poem about birth for pastoral care (which I honestly complained a bit about) and actually having it flow out easily. I wrote it about returning to my old church when I came back for college after moving away when I was young. Here it is:
i walk into the church
eleven years after i left it
somewhat taller
somewhat wiser
somewhat more lost

i see faces unfamiliar to me
light up as they recognize mine
“we remember when you were born”
they say
“we remember you almost didn’t make it”
i stop and listen.
“we remember you were three months early”
i listen, nodding.
“we remember you were very sick, very small”
i listen, feeling suddenly weak.
“we remember how worried we all were”
i nod, trying to remember.
“we remember the prayers. oh, how we prayed for you”
i fight back grateful tears.
“we prayed and prayed that your little body would develop,
your brain,
your lungs,
your heart…”
i think,
i breathe,
i feel.
“you spent months in the hospital, and still we prayed”
i keep listening, wanting to hear a happy ending to the story of my birth.
“and then, on Easter, here you were: tiny but healthy.
we baptized you into the family you already belonged to.
we said we would keep praying for you, and we still do.”
i am overwhelmed by their faithfulness
the power of their prayers
to create miracles
and i feel my lostness melt away
leaving only life
whole and sanctified life
that belongs not to me
but to the faithful pray-ers
who prayed me into being.

Monday, October 29, 2007

warmth and fascination

-The cozy warm feel of a soft scarf around my neck.

-The cute older man who stood in front of the big fish tank at Twain's, watching the fish with intent fascination. After he spent about five minutes on one side of the tank, he even walked around to get a look from the other side.

-A stranger saying hi to me in a store, and then wishing me a good day as we went in different directions.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

musical pumpkins

-Seeing one of the teenagers at church unabashedly sitting in the pew with his arm around his Mother, and hers around him.

-Carving a pumpkin for the first time in as long as I can remember. It was really fun and helped me get into the Halloween spirit.

-Discovering while giving a youth a ride home that we have the exact same taste in music. We raved about each band we loved while the other enthusiastically chimed, "I know...they're so good!" It was a nice bonding moment.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

sittin' on the dock of the [lake]...

(Sorry I haven't posted in a while...I went out of town for the weekend. See?)

-A beautiful sunset reflected off of Lake Sinclair at Jessi's lakehouse. The color and symmetry was breathtaking.

-Playing games all day with good friends.

-Food. LOTS of really, really good food. We always all take turns cooking at the lakehouse, resulting in a variety and abundance of deliciousness.

-Listening to birds sing and the water lap as I sat on the porch reading a great book.

-Reaching extra far down off the dock to dip my toe in the cool water. It was a miracle I didn't fall in.

-Riding in Jessi's convertible with the top down, letting the wind blow through my hair. I loved staring up at the bright blue sky as we cruised down the highway.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

rhythm and blues

-Gearing myself up to enter all of the youth program dates into the church website calendar, only to find that Leslee had already done it for me.

-Misty blue water outside my window as I worked on Bible study at Starbucks. It was also a nice touch that my cup had a Jimmy Carter quote on it: "Peace is more than just the absence of war..."

-Driving home from church and having this inexplicable feeling of complete happiness and contentment with my life. This can't really be attributed to any sudden change (although good ords results helped), but is more the feeling of being caught up in a rhythm that I am not creating, with a vaguely familiar and deeply joyful melody.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

yellow brick road

-Yellow leaves scattered over the brick sidewalk.

-Passing all of my ordination exams. What a relief.

-Finishing an amazing book (Twilight by Stephenie Meyer). I was literally reading it every spare moment I could. AND, it's part of a trilogy, so I have more to read!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

we're one but we're not the same

-Going into a restaurant with Claudia from Mexico, Martin from Kenya and Judith from Jamaica. The mingling of accents and common laughter was lovely. It gave me such an appreciation for diversity.

-Working on a sermon outside on a really beautiful day, instead of being cooped up inside.

-A session member coming over after our meeting to check in, encourage and uplift me.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

the sky is falling!

-The smell of cinnamon rolls baking.

-Sitting outside with friends and dodging acorns that were hailing down on us from the trees above.

-Sitting on a familiar couch with Karen and Rob, laughing and watching tv. When he took me home, Rob said, "thanks for hanging out." Even though hanging out is such a regular thing for us to do, it was really nice to be thanked for it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

tolkien and talkin'

-A perfect moment: sipping tea on my couch with the cool autumn air wafting in my window while listening to BBC radio plays of Lord of the Rings.

-Being a little hobbitish myself and eating a second breakfast.

-Hearing Claudia's sincere appreciation for being at Columbia. This spoke right to my senior-year-apathy, and helped me see this place with fresh eyes.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

dancing in the rain

-Going to sleep before 10:30. This never happens, and I awoke feeling really rested.

-The barista at my favorite coffee shop telling me that I look like a dancer. I am a dancer, but at barely 5 foot 1, this is a great compliment!

-Walking outside in the gentle rain.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

hats, chats and smiles

-Wearing a hat.

-A quick dinner with Sandra. I made bubble & squeak, a traditional dish with I had in Belfast all the time. It was really nice to catch up over comfort food.

-The cute old man at the farmer's market who smiled at me. We've smiled at each other before there as we passed each other in our shopping, and I could tell we both remembered this. The smile had a tinge of recognition to it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away...

-Booking a flight to Belfast for early March. I thought about how badly I wanted to go, cleared my schedule for the first week in March yesterday and then just booked it. I can't wait to chat with old friends, have an Ulster fry for breakfast, hear that quirky accent again and worship in my old church.

-A stimulating class discussion where I was able to learn a lot from my African American classmates about the issues they face in their churches as women. There's something so important about sharing stories and experiences to become agents for change in our churches, communities and world.

-After a movie with Melissa, I decided to see if my friends were still out watching the football game. When I got to the parking lot of the sports bar, I saw one of their cars, and knew friendly faces would greet me inside. When I walked in, they did.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

the white stripes

-Reconnecting with Belfast friends & young people I worked with via facebook. It makes keeping in touch so much easier and it's great to know that, despite distance and silence, those relationships are still intact.

-Sally's amazing prayer today.

-White stripes of sunlight stretching across my ceiling.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

embraced and blessed

-Going to see Nickelcreek & Bela Fleck with friends. It was my friend Melissa's 23rd time to see Nickelcreek (no joke), and her enthusiasm was contagious.

-A sweet little girl from church I saw today who came right up to me and hugged my knees.

-The beauty and holiness of the Hindu temple we visited for my Hinduism and Buddhism class. During a ritual service, a woman came to me with a candle and I followed what I saw others doing by running my hands over it and sweeping them over my face and head. She gave me an almost imperceptible nod of approval, letting me know I had done it correctly.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

scarf, scary, strum.

-Scarf weather!! (Those who know me know how excited I get about scarves.)

-Doing something really brave.

-That first strum on my guitar after changing the strings...beautiful.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

my kind of takeout

-Receiving a package from my mom consisting of my favorite cookies packed in cute little boxes. It was so fun to eat them in Georgia and feel right at home.
-Starting a new book. I'm not so sure about it yet, but it's just good to be leisure reading again.

-Waking up to my alarm without hitting snooze once and feeling extremely accomplished. It's good to start the day on that note.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

loyalty, generosity and creativity.

-The adorably loyal basset hound who was left outside while his owner got some coffee. Everytime someone would enter the coffee shop, he'd wedge himself as far in the door as his leash would let him and just stay there blocking the door. People kept having to nudge him back outside.

-Parking in front of a meter with time still left on it...twice.

-Getting a little creative and making radicchio lasagne. It was so yummy.

Monday, October 08, 2007

weekend in florida

(Sorry I haven't posted in a while...I was keynoting & leading worship with some friends at St. Augustine Presbytery's youth conference.)

-Seeing the St. John's River in Florida. I've never really seen a river that looks so much like a bay. I loved the white sailboat in the distance.

-The energy and enthusiasm of jr. highers. They're just different than any of us. We don't normally run up to someone we've never met and say, "Will you be my friend??" It's refreshing.

-Playing guitar so much that my fingertips ached, and knowing that I'm getting back into it again.

-Hearing youth articulate what mission is to them.

-Talking in front of 75 jr. high kids and having their complete attention.

-Many young people coming up to give us hugs after the conference to thank us. They were so generous.
-Our road trip back to Georgia from Florida ended up being 2 hours longer because of construction, but we still had a great time together singing at the top of our lungs, hearing stories and making up road trip games.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

gender and a new generation

-At youth Bible study, we were discussing who we say Jesus is. One young person asked, "Do you think Jesus was male because in a male-dominated society that's the only way he would be listened to?" She's in eighth grade. I was amazed at such a profound question and was so glad that this young girl was realizing on her own that Jesus wasn't male because God thinks male is better. I was then able to explain that Jesus' "maleness" was not the most important or defining thing about him.

-The most perfect piece of toast with raspberry jam.

-A hilarious email from my aunt welcoming me to the "aunt hill." I quipped back that I'm glad to know I won't be the shortest one in the family now.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

dance, praise and poetry

-Seeing some good friends enact scripture through dance in chapel. It was really moving.

-Getting a haircut I'm not too sure of, and having friends persistently compliment me on it.

-Having to write a lament poem in my pastoral care class. This was a trying exercise for all of us, but produced powerful results. Here's mine:

Grief as an Ocean
I’ve heard it said that grief is like an ocean.
It’s watery enough.
But what of this onerous ocean?
This sea that seems so placid at times
and roars with squalls at others
Do we all contain, deep within and below,
such an ocean?
Could it be that this ocean
this grief
is a gift?

We swim in this gift of grief
Succumbing to its waves and ebbs and flows
Yearning for moonlight to reflect on its waters
And the tranquility of a new day.
In the waiting for healing we travel these waters,
sometimes with a sturdy vessel to carry us
and sometimes barely keeping our head afloat.
We have days where the sudden violence of a storm
transforms our ocean of grief,
making it dark, unpredictable and overwhelming.
We barely breathe,
struggling to break the surface of waters
salty with tears.

And then we too have days spent
floating upon the surface of its deep waters,
letting the sun warm our faces,
purposely or absently oblivious
to the cold depths beneath us.

This ocean of grief cannot be predicted,
or mapped
or charted.
Only lived.
Only survived.
And the living
and the surviving
is in this gift of grief
that, like mighty waters,
carries us; tossed, sopping and shivering
to the shore.

Monday, October 01, 2007

aunt me

-I'm going to be an Aunt!

-I'm going to be an Aunt!

-I'm going to be an Aunt!

(That's PLENTY of grace. :) Can you tell I'm excited?)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

walking on water

-A delicious lunch with my Mamacita on the Riverwalk in San Antonio before heading to the airport.

-Friends who are kind enough to pick me up at the airport at midnight.
-A feeling of relief and accomplishment after a Sunday's work being completed.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

planes and plains

(Sorry it's been a while...I had to make an impromptu trip to Texas.)

-Sitting next to someone on the plane and actually talking with them. The interaction with strangers is one thing I love about airports.

-Getting a ton of supportive calls from good friends.

-Spending time with all of my family. It was so great to catch up with parents, my sister, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

-The largeness of the Texas sky. After living away from here, I find myself staring out the window as we drive past fields of cotton topped by big fluffy clouds in a massive blue sky.

-Late night soul-searching couch conversations.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

we're healing, despite ourselves

-A heavenly-looking sky where sunlight streamed from behind large clouds. It looked like light was being directed to particular places where it was most needed.

-At my committee meeting last night, we were discussing the progress the church has made in moving out of its conflict. One woman simply said, "We're healing, despite ourselves." What a beautiful statement.

-Knowing that my Granddaddy and Great Uncle are really enjoying each other's company right now.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

melodious mexican food

-Spending a couple of hours playing guitar and singing with Karen and Jessi in the chapel to practice for our upcoming youth conference. It's the first time we've all practiced together, and we weren't half bad. It felt great to have strings vibrating beneath my fingers as Karen and I strummed in unison.

-Dinner at Los Bravos with lots of friends to celebrate Jessi's birthday. We sat outside, sipped cool beverages and ate more than we thought possible.

-Forgoing fast food on my way home for my homemade spaghetti with sauce made from tomatoes, pancetta, garlic and basil.

Friday, September 21, 2007

sisterhood of the traveling pants

-Cheryl shaking a crate myrtle tree above my head so that little purple blossoms cascaded down onto me.

-My professor using a metaphor to help us understand the concept of Hindu moksha. Usually I find that metaphors over-simplify and cheapen a concept, but in this case, he illumined our understanding of moksha in a beautifully real and vivid way.

-Getting my sister's old jeans in the mail. She has great jeans, and when she wears them out a bit, they come to me. We're pretty much the same size, so they fit like a glove. Ash drew a picture of jeans saying "Hi, Whitney!" on the package, which made me laugh out loud.