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?)