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Monthly Archives: May 2012

wednesday words

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lauren winner is one of my very favorites. everything that she’s written has been so timely in my life. her first book is called ‘girl meets god.’ it’s an excellent book & it’s really smart– all about winner’s life & journey through reformed Judism, orthodox Judiasm, & Christianity. unfortunately the combo of the cover & title make the book seem like some kind of chick lit Christian book that will tell you how to meet the perfect boyfriend. so when I tell people I love this book I feel like I have to follow up with “IT IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN IT LOOKS I PROMISE.” anyway, digression.

I read winner’s most recent book last semester. titled ‘still,’ the book explores loss & failure, doubt & faith. tonight while I was tidying my room, I found it on my nightstand… I picked it up, flipping through, re-reading parts I’d underlined. there are countless things that I gleaned from this book… lessons about sainthood (“the failure of a saint reveals the forgiveness & new possibilities made in God, & the saint is just a small character in a story that is always about God.”), about the simultaneous closeness & elusiveness of God, about prayer, about Emily Dickinson. my copy of ‘still’ is full of marginala & underlining… but this part in the preface is perhaps my favorite:

“The enthusiasms of my conversion have worn off. For whole stretches… my belief has faltered, my sense of God’s closeness has grown strained, my efforts at living in accord with what I take to be the call of the gospel have some undone.”

And yet in those same moments of strained belief, of not knowing where or who God is, it has also seemed that the Christian story keeps explaining who and where I am, better than any other story I know. On the days when I think I have a fighting chance at redemption, at change, I understand it to be these words and these rituals and these people who will change me. Some days I am not sure if my faith is riddled with doubt or whether, graciously, my doubt is riddled with faith. And yet I continue to live in a world the way a religious person lives in the world; I keep living in a world I know to be enchanted, and not left alone. I doubt; I am uncertain; I am restless, prone to wander. And yet glimmers of holy keep interrupting my gaze.”

the biggest complaint about ‘still’ seems to be the fact that winner doesn’t offer a lot of concrete answers. but oh, it is sometimes healing in and of itself simply to find someone asking your same questions. I’m glad to read the words of someone who has learned to doubt well… & ever so thankful for the gracious, gracious God who incessantly sends glimmers of holy to reclaim my wandering gaze.

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california, etc.

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californiaaaaa. we saw lots of zoo animals, rode around in a 15 passenger van, ate frozen yogurt, & spent lots of time with sweet, sweet friends. it was not as sunny as I had expected & even downright cold at some points. but what it lacked in sunshine it made up for in avocado. now it’s off to get my body back on central time. but first…

:: preordered the new welcome wagon CD. real excited. also, check out their ep here for free!

:: realizing just how much more I retain when I write down things that I read. it’s crazy different. good thing to remember in teaching, I guess.

:: I’ve been reading lots of Teach for America pre-institute stuff. learning tons about racism & health care & criminal justice & school funding. a lot of it is really rough to think about… here’s a good article about food stamp fraud & the often complicated situations that lie beneath.

:: this video is real simple but it makes me smile a lot.

& now it’s a time for a couple of days of packing & moving & house hunting… then a weekend of celebrating birthdays & marriages with friends… then this next little chapter of life in the Delta.

p.s. thanks to sister’s iPhone for the pictures!

arizona

dear southwest, I've never flown you before. & I'm really excited. don't let me down. love, ruth ann      Untitled

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& that is Arizona really quickly from my phone. a few highlights…

hiked a little around the rim of the grand canyon. got some solar viewers & climbed down into the canyon a bit to watch the annular eclipse. I had never used solar viewers before– they were so cool, kinda like crazy intense sunglasses. then watched the sunset… got to see two Arizona sunsets this weekend &, well, they’re really pretty. but living on a coast sure has spoiled me in that regard.

Nathan found us a perfect spot in between the grand canyon & havasu falls & we camped there a couple of nights. yesterday we hiked havasu falls. we had to take route 66 for a bit to get there, which was kinda fun. the waterfalls were lovely. I had read some conflicting stuff on the internet about day hiking it… it’s over ten miles one way & most people stay the night. we decided to try to hike there & back anyway. not the wisest choice ever (midday Arizona sun is killer), but it came out alright in the end. & on the way  out we spotted that lovely “NO DAY HIKING” sign. whoops.

& as always, the best part of travelling (or of anything, really) is the people. made friends on both plane rides over… lady from 2nd plane invited us to dinner. we watched the eclipse with a random guy who worked for park services. met so many friendly hikers. people in stores & hotel lobbies & german girls at the campground & nice gas station cashiers. people are awesome, ya’ll.

…speaking of wonderful people, I get to see 13 of my favorite people (my family + this family) in california tomorrow. excited… be back next week!

scenes from home

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bridge walk with Carey. breakfast at Friend Green Tomato. running with my dad. so much reading. pool time with Hannah. popsicles!! (the bluebell lime ones are so so good.) thrift store with Rachel. pretzels with Wilson. the best skies. rec league baseball games with the grandparents. lots of good talks with mom. fresh fruit in the fridge, always.

home has been real lovely. tomorrow Nathan & I leave to take on the grand canyon. I asked him yesterday if he thought we should “practice setting up the tent.” my eagle scout brother was utterly offended & refused. let’s hope things go smoothly. right now my biggest problem is picking which books to bring… that’s a good sign.

big decision

I just wanna swallow summer whole.

every year I go back & forth. when it’s summer time (or almost summer time), I start thinking about everything I love about summer. how excited I am for warmth & swimming & sun. etc. I am positive that I love summer best. but then… then, as it’s fall time & it’s getting closer to cold weather & scarves & jackets & bonfire smell, I start remembering all the nice things about cold weather & become convinced that winter is the superior season. but today? today I went to the pool & ate a Popsicle on the front steps & reveled in sunshine & that good sunscreen smell. & as I sat there, I realized that summer? well, it is my absolute favorite. this is the real deal. no take backs.

:: home has been full of so so many good things.

:: I’m realizing daily how much I allow my head to be clouded with pointless fretting and anxiety. I want to live like I really do believe that God works everything for my good & for his glory. that’s hard.

:: Avengers did not disappoint.

:: took a mini trip to Jackson last weekend for the wedding of the year… Bryant & Laura are finally married! crammed lots of quality things into one weekend… time with roommates, pizza with Parker, & sweet time at the Journey.

:: this book is fantastic. so so helpful. the amount of things I need to be learning boggles my mind.

on Saturday brother & I are headed to the Grand Canyon… planning to watch an eclipse, ride some bikes & hopefully play in these. then we’re meeting the rest of the family in California for all kinds of adventures. it’s going to be a fun way to spend these last few drops of sunshine & free time that I have left. I’m excited. after all… summer is my favorite.

22.

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no birthday is complete without cake.

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…or a surprise pinata.

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but, as always, it’s the guests that make any party worthwhile. I was real thankful to get to usher in 22 with so many people that I love. it was a weekend full of lots of happy things– surprise room decorations, dandelion wishes with emmy, lunch with family, a balloon from my favorite two year old, & a princess bubble wand.

but as far as big presents go, well, on my 21st birthday I got a shooting star. & this year I got a super moon. God knows what I like. last year as I watched that shooting star, I prayed that God would make me a strong woman. so many times over the past 365 days I have thought “why on earth did I ask for that?!” it’s kind of like praying for patience; you never know what you’re going to get. & what I got was a really hard year. a beautiful year, but extraordinarily difficult. but the other night, as I enjoyed the super moon, I prayed the same thing. that God would make me a strong woman, that I would love him more, that I would become more like Jesus. here’s to praying dangerous prayers & waiting expectantly for them to be answered in beautiful ways. 22. I’m excited.

graduation, whattt?

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3 commencement addresses, countless photographs, one itchy robe… just like that, undergrad is over. it was a little surreal to see so many people that I’ve spent so much time with walk across that stage & claim their “piece of paper.” but at the same time, it felt very right & timely. God has given so much grace in this season. both this weekend & so many weeks leading up to it I’ve felt so very calm & assured that this is good, this is right, this needs to be now. I know His ways & timing are always best, but it sure is nice when my heart feels that as well.

a couple of weeks ago I was walking to work & thinking about how college was almost over… looking around campus, thinking about the different buildings I’ve lived in and memories I’ve made. nostalgia, blah blah blah. & I quietly, confidently realized… this place has been very, very good to me. all the disappointments & tears & tests & times when things just seemed pretty miserable have been more than “made up for” in relationships & joys & victories & learning. time here has been full of those moments when you realize that you’re really, actually doing it…. living truly & deeply. sucking out marrow, as Thoreau would say. it’s been real, MC. the past four years have been full to the brim with learning in the very truest sense of the word. college has taught me Greek & literary criticism & Spanish & philosophy. but mostly, college just taught me a whole bunch about how to live well & love deeply. & I want to keep learning that for the whole rest of my life. cause heaven knows, I’m not nearly done.