Thursday, December 27, 2007

let the living begin

"So, I see why people settle and why people start calling how I'm living 'life'. Because it's alot easier to just live than to live. Because God doesn't really give any clear-cut directions on what living entails." (sara)

Do you ever feel like you can cast off the old junk, run as fast as you're able, and end up God-only-knows-where? This is the best feeling ever.I wrote this post before I read Sara's entry, but it seems that we are all struggling to know what living really is. So often, I start feeling like I have lost all feeling, all meaning. Then I remember that life is so very short...

And I'm not suggesting you all have to sell your stuff and move 500 miles away. Maybe we just have to move our hands, tilt our heads, shift our focus. Or maybe we're used to all the moving and it just means stopping. So stop or go, move or stay...

we feel we can fly
when we see with new eyes
all the beauty so hidden
for days upon years

but what's stopping you now
is the slight change of tone
that your voice can never attain

build up your strength
muster your best
and head for highway
before it's too late

Now is all we've got.

the glory of God is man fully alive. (St. Irenaeus)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Advent/Christmas thoughts

The mall's sign flashed, "Only 7 shopping days until Christmas!!" And I remembered that it doesn't even feel like Christmas. Minus the fact that most days it is above 70 degrees here, (excluding this lovely day, with only a high of 62!) there are many years that it doesn't "feel" like Christmas. And it hasn't really felt that way since I left for college. Before that, I could count on being at home, sleeping in and eating lots of baked goods, for the entire Christmas break. I could count on the fam being together, eating breakfast casserole on Christmas morning, and getting cool presents. THIS certainly felt like Christmas. And going to Christmas Eve communion, I can't forget this. This was the ultimate unifying experience, to go kneel at the altar and being given the most amazing opportunity to take the body and the blood.

I'm a bit disheartened that this was Christmas, that my feeling came from presents and lights and cozyness. I am not suggesting that being with those you love isn't Christmas--it is certainly a part of it, celebrating love and family. I just don't think it's the point of it all.

But now, that feeling doesn't come around. I'm not really sad about it. I'm just in search of the new feeling--the Advent feeling. Christmas begins to mean something different when you read the "7 shopping days" from inside your car in morning traffic, instead of reading it from inside the department stores. Christmas means something different when you don't have much money to buy presents and when you are reminded that God came as a baby and put on flesh.

A friend posted once that she's always in search of a certain feeling. I guess we all are, even if that isn't right to do. But sitting in traffic this morning, I confess, I wanted it to feel like Christmas. I wanted to drive around and look at lights and be cozy and unwrap some gifts with family and have Christmas back once again.

And I want Advent, too, I really do. This anticipation should be stronger. God sending a son--his son--to bridge a gap, that's something to be excited about.

Only 7 shopping days. I better hurry and find the feeling.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Oh, Winter, where art thou?

Christmastime. 80 degrees. Sweat and the need for air conditioners.

This is Mississippi, folks. :: Sigh :: You never get used to it.

So, instead, you run the AC and put Christmas lights up (both inside and out) in hopes that you can trick yourself into believing it really is wintertime. But I guess we can't ask too much, because technically winter doesn't start until December 22nd (this year, at least.) You can bet I'm going to be one unhappy camper if the temperature doesn't plummet at 1:08 AM on December 22nd. (see here :: )

Jeff's begging me to move north.


On the other hand, if you missed out on the swimming weather in June-August, there's always.... now.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dear Christians,

Stop buying so much!!!!!!!!!!!!

This moshpit of consumerism can drive me so insane sometimes. Watching television is even more unenjoyable now (except for Rachel Ray and Alton Brown) than it has ever been. Apparently credit cards help you save money and live life to the fullest, shampoos and running shoes make you to look much more physically appealing to the opposite sex and will probably increase your chances of being slipped a phone number in a bar, and prescription meds will cure your herpes, though you'll probably develop arthritis or gastrointenstinal dysfunction in the meantime (but these are "rare" and only "moderate" side effects.)

And still we are swiping those cards like madmen.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

||| Her Story |||

He's been gone for 18 years. She says it feels like it happened just yesterday. When they were sitting in a room alone together, it was likely that one of them could guess what the other was thinking. Married 34 years. Best friends. Soulmates. Her sons says, "If dad had a headache, mom took the BC." And you have to know this gal. She's a fiesty, semi-old-timer, who has been there and back again. She takes care of a handicapped daughter, and has raised at least one other child from what I can tell through her stories. She researches all her supplements before she buys them, and knows as much, or more, about the product as I do. A faithful customer.

Around the holidays, though, she gets sad, because she misses him. She doesn't often offer personal information. Unlike most people, she isn't aching to tell her story. She seems to be saying, nonverbally, that she has made it this far and doesn't need our sympathy to make it the rest of the way. Although today, she did say something that caught me off guard.

"Did you know this is the time of year with the highest number of people who do away with themselves? You know, suicide?"

I wasn't ready for that one.

"Only thing stopping me is that Mississippi doesn't have a bridge good enough for me. Besides, my husband always said it wouldn't do me any good because I know how to swim."

Joking, I assume. But sort of serious. Likely, she was communicating the fact that she can understand why some people might choose to end this journey, because they are so sad, however, I don't know if she will believe this tomorrow, because she seems to have the sort of spirit that comes out of these sad moments and realizes the fullness of life. When she's raking the leaves in her yard. When she gets a laugh out of us here at the store. When the sun is shining brighter than usual.

When I told her Jeff was my best friend and we never get tired of each other, she didn't roll her eyes and say, "Just wait; you're only on your 4th month." Instead, she said, "I know... when you've found your soulmate, you know. I do not understand getting married 3 different times!" [enter rolling of the eyes and throwing up of her cute little hands.]

Soulmates. Best friends.

Today, this gets me through.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

||| Thoughts on the Bible |||

"Many people these days feel an absence in their lives, expressed as an acute desire for 'something more,' a spiritual home, a community of faith. But when they try to read the Bible they end up throwing it across the room. To me, this seems encouraging, a place to start, a sign of real engagement with the God who is revealed in scripture. Others find it easy to dismiss the Bible out of hand, as negative, vengeful, violent. I can only hope they are rejecting the violence-as-entertainment of movies and television on the same grounds, and that they say a prayer every time they pick up a daily newspaper or turn on CNN. In the context of real life, the Bible seems refreshingly whole, an honest reflection on humanity in relation to the sacred and the profane. I can't learn enough about it, but I also have to trust what little I know, and proceed, in faith, to seek God there." (Kathleen Norris, "Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith," emphasis added.)

refreshingly.... whole.

Monday, November 19, 2007

If only we cared about Bangladesh as much as we do the United States of America.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Don't you mean ROBERT RANDOLPH?!

I found myself yelling at my friend, who, as a result of drinking entirely too much beer and gatorade + vodka, couldn't manage to correctly pronounce (or remember) Mr. Randolph's name.

"You ready to see Randall Robolph?!" he shouted at the girl standing beside him (who absolutely did not need to judge his perfected shouting skills.) And this made me mad. Not because he offended me and mispronounced his name, but because he always drinks too much and always annoys me.

There has been a gap between where I came from and where I am now. The conservative lifestyle I grew up around, one which didn't seek to understand but rather to memorize and repeat and act accordingly, caused me to be one who questions much as I entered college. I didn't turn from my faith; I embraced it. I like to think of myself like Tony Campolo-- the conservatives think I'm liberal and the liberals think I am [very] conservative.
I bring this up to say that after having spent so long running from many half-truths of my upbringing, I am now enterting a discerning phase, where I can safely and calmly revisit ideas and truths and doctrines of my past, and still embrace some of those.

One is alcohol. I am not Baptist; I don't stand by its stance on alcohol, that if you have a sip you're sinning. I do, however, treat it like anything else, with moderation and wisdom. Drinking too much and forgetting the latter part of your evening the night before does no good for anyone, in fact, it can definitely do you harm. I have watched many of my friends who came from ultra-conservative backgrounds turn around and run the complete opposite direction. But instead of embracing moderation, they have embarced extremism quite different from the extremism of their theologically conservative pasts. Instead, it is okay to [always] drink too much, because alcohol isn't sinful.

No, alcohol isn't sinful, just like food isn't sinful, just like money isn't sinful.

But oppression of others with your love of money and your drive to get as much of it as possible... is sinful.
Ungratefulness and wastefulness of the overflowing food on your table... is sinful.
Being reckless with your friendships and words as a result of repetative intoxication... is sinful.

And I'm not asking for perfection. I'm asking for confession.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Let Us Build a House, Pt. 1

It took us a while to get started. I can admit, 7 am is terribly early for someone who isn’t expected to be anywhere until 10 am on a normal workday. Nevertheless, I arose to the mostly dark morning around 6:20, clambered about the quiet house being careful as to not wake my blissfully sleeping husband. I made it to the work site only about ten minutes late—not bad for a not-so-early riser—only to find that I was not the only one who didn’t make it on time.

This was our first morning to begin construction on the new home for our dedicated friend, T. She, along with a few others, trickled to the site within the next hour, and after a light breakfast of Nutri-Grain bars and Sunny Delights, our work was soon underway. The morning air was now filled with the sound of hammering and laughing and other sounds of the exciting construction crew, also known as the brothers and sisters of Court Street United Methodist. We were feeling fresh and excited and ready to build a house! With hammer in hand, I quickly discovered what little bit of strength I have in my forearms, but I made it work anyway. My swing was becoming swifter by the minute, and I was feeling more and more confident in myself. With everyone else working just as swiftly as myself (if not faster), we were pleased at how quickly things were progressing.

My favorite parts of the morning, though, were those when I took a break and just looked around me. On this small slab, in the middle of the muddy Mississippi (we were blessed with much rain and much mud last week), were a dozen or more people swinging hammers and telling jokes and lifting boards above their heads, all in the name of giving. You see, Habitat for Humanity prides themselves on a “hand-up” not a “hand-out,” offering families an opportunity to help build their house with their own hands, plus a little help from others. In our case, the body of believers at Court Street have been more than happy to chip in—serving meals, bringing water, and putting up walls. As I looked across the slab, I saw community happening at its best.

I am passionate about seeing the Church be in true community with one another, doing life together in all its beauty and messiness, its joys and struggles.

As the first wall went up, it was a truly unifying moment. Everyone grabbed a section of the stud-wall and lifted together, some with tears in eyes, all with smiles on their faces. Together, this is what we can do.

So let us build a house. And let us build the Church.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

he's back...

now that clifton is here, I feel this subtle pressure to write witty-er posts, to make you laugh out loud in inappropriate places.

thanks a lot, buddy.

[for your reading enjoyment...]

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

And they were beautiful
everyone's beautiful
all of us crawling on hands and knees
in need of you.


I am reminded through Becky's blog that everyone's beautiful, yes, everyone is made in the image of God. I am already used to the rolling of eyes and scoffs that we don't flush the toilet as often as others [if it's yellow, let it mellow...] and that we do our best to recycle and save energy and spend less money and get creative and build our own spice racks and shelving units, not only because creation is ours to look after [which is most definitely a reason that I do these things] but because of this: Before we can truly recognize the need to care for and reach out to the rest of the world and understand much of its poverty, we have to first recognize our own lives, in all its richness. Most of us (dare I say, all who are reading this post) know nothing of one flush of a toilet for us equaling the total amount of water that many people on this earth have for their total water use in a day.

and because everyone is beautiful, I need to live as simply as possible.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

:: because you're different ::

you know the difference.... someone who is different, well, on purpose. someone's whose life goal is to go against all authority, all normality, all that's "good and proper," everything you think they should do. someone who is all too happy to define all the post-modern words you don't understand and even lift a nose in slight disgust that you even thought you and he could be friends (for you are not different enough for him.)

Then you meet someone who is different, yet truly at home in their skin. someone who is, "hmmmm, just different than most." someone who breathes life and lives it just as fully, who might even appear to walk on air, trusting in nothing more than today. in good books, and conversations, and a good set of paint brushes. someone who can wear their hair up, down, swept into a barette, or blowing in the wind. someone who likes hot tea in summer and icees in the winter, just because they can't keep it straight and like it that way.

i see a difference in these two types of people. when I glance back at the past, at what I once knew of this person [the first mentioned], i see years of not fitting in, of being picked on, of being laughed at, of always feeling short of expectations. could this have caused a bitter,rough-hardened heart to remain? could this be the cause for this new rebellion? one that may not fit, but he/she is going to be a part of the rebellion, because it sets them apart, but this time, they have complete control. he is going to be a part of this rebellion on purpose.

see, before, other people singled them out, pointed fingers, made snide remarks, snickered in class.... but not now, no, now he has complete control over himself, over how people look at him. in fact, now he wants everyone to look at him, craves all the control, needs your attention (but pretends like he doesn't need any of your attention.)

oh, but the person who owns their uniqueness, their "different-ness," those are the ones in whose presence you feel relaxed and at ease, someone you trust because they aren't different at all. she is just "different" to some because she lets her insides spill over, and those happen to be daring and beautiful and will probably catch you off guard sometimes.

but really...
she is just being herself.

peace be with those who walk and live among us who need the differentness just so they can rise above their own past.... peace.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

marriage and stuff

[ for Josh and Chad ]

Life, thus far, has changed in some ways, and refused to change in others. Here is the update many have been waiting for.

Our wedding was perfect: very Jeff-and-Abbye-ish (or Jabbye-ish, for those who like the combination nickname, affectionately coined by Mikey P.) I wouldn't change a thing. My brother had trouble lighting the altar candles (pre-wedding) and recieved a generous round of applause when he finally achieved victory with the tallest candle that simply did not want to light! I knew it was going to be good when from the hidden space I was in, I could hear people clapping (and I learned that Josh took a huge bow in response to his applause.)

Honeymoon-- excellent. Despite what we couldn't do--hike, bike, walk long distances--we had such a great time. Jeff was in a bit of pain, and later we found out he had gout. This was our hugest struggle, since upon returning from the trip he got gradually worse. Even after a trip to the doc, we took things into our own hands and treated him naturally (thank to my newly acquired knowledge of natural medicine!) He is much better, no worries, though you can be assured I was not always graceful having to wait on him hand and foot. I am MUCH more selfish than I thought I was. It was humiliating at times to admit what a jerk I can be! But we made it through.

Here we are, in Hattiesburg, MS, living in a very affordable rental house, which is a huge blessing. Besides, if we get a hankering for Mugshots, it's only a few footsteps away. Jeff is itching for something different, as am I most days. Our struggles consist of discontentment, not with our stuff, but with our hands. What is there to do? How can we get more deeply involved? For Jeff, he wants to matter; he wants to stop waiting tables and do something to move him toward the things he really wants to do--open a restaurant, start something big, something life-changing. Our pastor reminds us to "bloom where you are planted," which helps me through most days. I work at a retail store where I learn about natural health and vitamins, herbs, natural deodarants and shampoos to people. I have learned so much, I have a great boss, and really, it's good in many ways. But often, I, too, am very bored, longing for something else. Some days I want to move, some days I just want something else here. But on the days I do want to move, North Carolina and Memphis and Michigan all look appealing (North Carolina is on the top of the list!) But our constant reminder to each other is the here and the now, what matters now, who are we loving now, seize the day, don't waste your life, etc. etc.

Marriage is beautiful, and I love waking up next to Jeff. This is very, very true. So believe it, that marriage is worth it, gout attacks and all!

This is all the update I am sending now, lest you get bored....

Peace, family.....

Monday, October 1, 2007

oh, the hours...

The days and hours pass so quickly, yet so slowly, that I find myself not knowing what to do with myself. Be thankful for my job, with my wonderful boss and the knowledge I am gaining from it and the beautiful, aching customers I get to meet and enjoy, or despair because it keeps me locked inside a retail store for too many hours. Perhaps I should keep reading Mother Teresa for lessons on gratefulness. Though it is very true I would rather be lying on a blanket in the grass or gliding down the Longleaf Trace on my bike right now, this is the real world, as my hubby reminded me, and sometimes you just have to make money to survive. So I am trying my darndest to choose gratefulness and joy, in all things. It is necessary. India. Brazil. They remind me of gratefulness, and not just because, "Phew, glad I'm not living on the street or sniffing glue or born into a brothel," but because there is a God who orders the universe and set us a little lower than god-status, and lets us have our hands in this whole beautiful mess. And for that I am learning to be... grateful.

The wonderful body of believers we get to be a part of are really stretching us, in wonderful and frustrating ways. I've always been a part of the United Methodist Church, and even after bitterly running away, I am drawn back to this place. Though I believe that denomination is our measly way or wrapping our hands around a tangible God (who is, I think, intangible) I am still drawn to this body of believers who choose the banner of United Methodist. Inside our walls are more skin colors and tastes in music and home lives than I've ever had in one place before, which obviously is difficult and absolutely refreshing. It is difficult as a self-proclaimed, free-spirited 22-year old to sit in a pew on Sundays singing hymns that I appreciate so deeply, yet yearn to wander from sometimes, just a bit. I would just love to sing.... to God. I'd love to help run sound just to stop the endless squeaking on Sunday mornings, when the mics are turned up too high because someone doesn't really know how to run sound, but is trying to very hard (out of the goodness of their heart, I am sure.)

Then I come back to this: gratefulness. Grateful for this body of belivers, who are struggling just like me, even if over completely different things. But really, what looks different, is quite the same, I think--which is, we're all just trying to figure this out. We're all just trying to figure out what works and what doesn't, how to get through life, how to sing good songs, how to be organized, how to play our roles in life... how to make the journey.

But sometimes I just want to throw it all out and start over.

Starting over, though, is an impossible thing to do. And so I will be start with this hour, this very fleeting, passing ever-so-quickly hour, by being grateful.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Who knew recycling could be so fun? I really enjoy dropping off our plastics and newspapers and aluminum cans at the recycling center. Seriously.

Today, I still want to move. I just want to be out of Mississippi today. Problem is, I love Court Street UMC. I want to pick them up and move them with me wherever I go.

Kevin Trudeau is not your doctor. Remember that.

That is all. :) Peace.

Monday, September 24, 2007

rain and boredom

My job is wonderful, for so many reasons (that I won't go into) but sometimes... many times... it just makes you feel useless to sit and stare out the window in an empty retail store. Sometimes I just want to move. Sometimes I just want to change. Sometimes might be soon.

Can anyone give me feedback on Durham, NC? Visiting there in a little over a week, and oh, how I want to fall in love with a new horizon!

And then I am reminded....
bloom where you are planted.
yes, thank you.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Patty Griffin, Kimmie-Kim, and the city of Memphis

Every time I hear Patty sing, "Sweet Lorraine, a fiery-haired, brown-eyed schemer, who came from a long line of drinkers and dreamers..." I think of Kim. Not because of her reddish-brown hair, and brown eyes.... and I'm not so sure about the drinkers and dreamers... but just because the summer of 2005 was one of the hardest and best and most memorable summers ever. I never dreamed I'd end up in the ghetto of Memphis instead of the beautiful mountains of Lake Junaluska, NC. But I could and I did. Kim and I were bestest of friends that summer, and I even have to admit I probably broke a few staff rules to go and do fun things with Kim and sleep over at her house a few times, instead of noisy staff bunks.

But the best part was falling asleep to Patty Griffin's voice during our summer afternoon naps-- I, on a mattress on Kim's floor, and her snuggled up with her overpriced comforter that was, to her, what a blankie is to a 5-year old. I miss Kim so much. I know you miss friends; it happens. Such is life, loving and leaving friends. But none do I miss in the same way I miss Kim. We don't talk much anymore, and not suprisingly so, since we are now both married, both doing our own thing. But sometimes there are friends that you wish, really, really deep down in your belly, that you didn't have to leave, that you didn't have to accept as, "only for a season." Sometimes you just want them there all the time.

So forget wishing on the same shooting star... I just hope we're both still listening to Patty sing, and thinking of each other.
"Darling I wish you well,
on your way to the wishing well...
I still have this secret hope
sometimes all we do is cope
somewhere on the steepest slope
there's an endless rope
where nobody's crying."
[patty griffin]

sappy post, I know. get over it.

Monday, September 10, 2007

fully alive

The glory of God is man fully alive. -St. Iraneaus

so it is true. life is fleeting. you never really get this until someone else goes, someone else leaves this blip in time, as Henri Nouwen calls it, to go on and spend eternity doing whatever we will do in eternity. This is even more difficult than before, now that I have a husband. Not that is is much easier with your parents and friends, but I have become one with my husband, and unless you, too, are married, I cannot describe the complexity and mystery to this. If he were gone, however, I feel the a big piece of me would be gone, too.

And when another someone leaves this earth of trees and politics, I always start feeling these feelings again, and then come back around to this: Jesus is my portion. What does that even mean, exactly? Oh, he is my sustainer, my comforter.. our "oneness" with Christ is also something complex and indescribable. I don't fear loss of Him, I don't fear losing his love. It is wonderful to know that "neither death, nor life, nor present, nor future,..." can keep us from the love of Christ, that he isn't going anywhere. And that is all you must have to cling to when your flesh and blood oneness leaves [spouse], is your holy of holies oneness, the one who made you in His image.

Does anyone else find this all extremely difficult to wrap your mind around?

Monday, September 3, 2007

boredom and the National Park Service

I've had entirely too much time on my hands this weekend. On one hand, it's been really nice, not having much to do, spending time with Jeff's family. On the other hand, it has made me feel lazy and gluttonous, since the only memorable things that take place during a boring weekend are meals and movies and conversation (or silence, depending on the mood and choice of company you keep.)

Bill Bryson's, "A Walk in the Woods," has kept my entertained at times, however, and I am now enlightened and slightly enraged (overstatement, really) about many people's lack of care for nature and animals and the pure, didn't-need-man's-help-in-the-first-place beauty of the woods and the water and the mountains (and all other forms of nature which some of us find beautiful.) Being a geography minor was one of the best things about college. Global warming and glaciers and pictures of mountains and valleys were shown to me, before the aforementioned became political issues. Ah, I am a treehugger at heart, I suppose. I care passionately about the earth and its beauty. Yet, don't I lend to its demise? Don't I drive a car and use products that aren't earth-friendly? Idealistic to say I would give up all of these things, but I do try to be earth-conscious, touting use of such product names such as BioKleen, Method, and Dr. Bronner's (not to mention the natural supplements I began putting into my body about a year ago.)

It's useless for me to sit around and feel guilt-ridden about some of the nitpicky ways I give a helping hand to hurting the ozone layer, but in my eyes, it is most certainly NOT a waste of time to be more conscious of my actions and product choices.

Interesting that Bryson talks much about the National Park Service in the book and their lack of help for the parks they supposedly service. Why, it is no stretch to even say they have contributed to the neglect of much about nature. Bryson even suggests that their lack of funding compared to a decade ago could be the best thing for the woods, since they didn't need the Park Service to make it in the first place, and may not need them to make it now (unless hikers increasingly become careless and don't heed the use of trash cans and the 'if you find it there, leave it there' rule.

but now I am ranting

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Heather is in Brazil. Josh is India. I am in Hattiesburg. We are one.

This body of Christ thing is amazing, absolutely... amazing.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

what Crystal did

she pushed me over the edge, made me get a blog here. Nevermind that I haven't spoken to her in... a year? that's too long.
see, I've been wanting a blogspot for a while. I'm obsessed with writing, with journaling... with online journaling, too, I admit. Xanga has failed to fill the hole in my heart that some online blogging network must fulfill--and hopefully now blogspot can fulfill it.

so back to Crystal. I come read her blog sometimes, and today I did again, about her relationship ephiphanies, her admittance to the way her heart enjoys the chase. and I was excited to read her honesty and disapproval of all the self-help dating books we are led to as a youth, excited to share in it with her (no matter how bad of a real friend i have been to her). anyway, go read her blog if you want to know, but I finally decided that yes, blogspot is for me.

my URL, 'the way we wander' is inspired by the most recent quote I am obsessed with: "Not all who wander are lost."
we wander recklessly and aimlessly, more than usual it seems lately. We are seekers, but we are not lost. we are craving fulfillment, but we do not despair. we wander and we will find. and even then we will continue to wander, our whole lives. we are looking for the kingdom here on earth (as it is in heaven) because we are so very sure we are God's hands and feet and have been put here to be God to everyone else. yet we are not lost....

and this... this life is a blip, just a glimpse. only a glimpse.

peace, family...