Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Lines from December, Part 1

Here we are! We made it! After such a long long day. It is delicious to sit still, washed and fed, in soft light from the Christmas candle in my window.
You were so kind to help me to drive, and teach, and keep good temper (even after the palette was tracked around the room).

Thank You for all these students. For R. For the privilege of being part of something that matters, that takes all I can give, but gives back.
Thank You for R cleaning the rug, bringing me coffee. The time to talk and wash out stale thoughts. For all the cars that let me merge. A (mostly) working spark plug. Mama hugging me and telling me she was proud of me tonight.
Small quiet moments like this.

Today we had the party. As often happens, I was a brute beast during the prep, trying to overcome my sour spirit and and be sweet and helpful. The little tiffs that precede these events often make me question the worthwhileness of parties. But when they happen, I (sometimes) change my mind. This was a good party.
We need to be reminded more often than we need to be instructed, eh?
Please sift my mind. My thoughts retrogressing six years.
You can do quick work, Holy Spirit. Turn me around. Use me as an instrument of truth and love tomorrow.

It is really December; cool, not frigid. Today was sweet. The play was interesting; pretty murky and satirical, though poignant and engaging at points. The end was enigmatic. But it was good to spend time with L and see J.

Give me my heart's desire. Give me You.

Oh, but this is life! This is real living!
To wake early, sip tea and read and write and pray in the flowering light, to laugh over breakfast, complete small tasks, drink hot chocolate with whipped cream dimpling into foam on the surface.

To drive out to run errands and visit a mother and newborn (and hold the baby and make faces and kiss her tiny cheek), to come home just in time to walk arm-in-arm with parents around the neighborhood, to have a hot shower, to eat granola standing in the kitchen, and drive out to a meeting.
To listen to Handel's Messiah in the car, to plan efficiently and cheerfully, and from there to spend a few hours at a luxurious little spa night for mothers, giving them back massages, rubbing oil into tired shoulders, talking softly (or not) and praying rest into deserving muscles.

This is a blessed day.

P.S. Also, it was so sweet to have Dad call me over to hear Psalm 116:1-2:
"I love the LORD, for he heard my voice..."

I feel very useless. Please help me. I am nothing but gloves; put Your hands into me and use me.

Dear Jesus,
You deserve all my love and devotion. May this heart grow and bleat for You. I say "bleat" because it sounds like "bleed" and "beat", and "blaze" and "eat" as well. It's because my heart throbs for You. And because I am Your wee sheep.

This has been such a full day; last day at school, plus the seminar. So much richness. Gifts upon gifts. Words of affirmation. Hugs. Beautiful artwork. Frustrations, too. But my phone waited until after classes to finally bite the dust. THANK YOU.
John 12:24.

It frightens me a little to be so far into the month already.
Today was insightful. I am not certain of all my thoughts. I need more love, and with imperfect love I may see only half-truth. But I must learn to see and name... it is important. Even though (perhaps especially because) everything can change.

It felt like I had to bail us out multiple times, or at least tip up the prow.  I am a balancer - I could have done the opposite just as readily, but this felt novel and uncomfortable. It's a bit of a mirror to me - reminding me how incomplete and non-definitive my own social graces and compassion can be. I need to remember that it is not about me. Self-absorption, one way or the other, causes 85% of social distress. That's a statistic I just made up.

I know my own eyes must be somewhat biased, and personal impressions should be taken con sal.
Oh, for freedom from this feebleness and sin. Thanks be to Jesus Christ, my Lord, who knew this word before I wrote it, and knows when I will read it next.

You are my merciful and veryfunny God.
Tender mercies, trustworthy mercies, mercies like thunder and thick jam.
Today a light snow fell, cold but not profuse enough to stick. I recorded "Northumbrian Lullaby", and came up against vocal limitations and piano potential. What a gorgeous instrument. Melodic and responsive. I, on the other hand...

I ate turkey and peas for lunch. And an oatmeal cookie. I turned on all the window lights. I want to enjoy this Yuletide Sabbath. And so I'm also swaddled up in my pink blanket, on my bed. Just finished a rich cup of drinking chocolate.
In all this luxury, I want to ask, what next?
How can I hold all this lightly, give all this up? Where am I lazy, and need a good firing up? Where am I weary and wounded, and need rest and convalescence? Funny how all these things can be present in one little body.
Like baby R on Monday, crying so hard it makes you wonder how so much intense emotion can come from a tiny peanut of a human.

But I don't think I've been feeling enough. I'm trailing behind in the procession. You, Kingly One, swing around and walk slowly beside me, kindly, not blaming me, and put my shame to rest by Your disarming friendliness and genuine love.

When did I start thinking I could blame You for other people's shortcomings? When did I start believing gossip, rather than the look in Your eyes?
Help my unbelief.
I know something's right when I confess my lasciviousness in dreams, and wake shriven and serene. When circumstances don't crush me the way they should. When I don't really care about making a fool of myself (if I am an honest fool).
Your Spirit is alive in me. I will bear fruit. I will learn, inch by inch, stumbling as I go. You will give me all the help I need.

Today was strange, no sleep until ~3am, and then sleeping in until ~10am. Praise You that I can do that, at least. I did paint, finished 2 panels, so I'm back on track.

I want to be really present, but it's hard. Help me keep things simple. Help me choose what really matters, what I really love, the habits I really want to form.
Essentials are life-giving. Non-essentials may not be. I'm thankful, though, for the time You spent with me last night, keeping me aware of You. You gave the time, You took it.

It's the week before Christmas... far into it, now. Prayer this morning was lovely.
But I'm so tired, I'm pretty off. Center my mind and heart. Help me trust You.
Debt and Aleppo and an off-color nickname have me uneasy. And my lungs are heavy as it is. Be my hope and light.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Lines from November, Part 2

There are times You startle me with consciousness, when I am aware of my raw need of You. Maker, Savior, take me to Yourself. You are all there is to live for.
I love You.


There is so much that I want to remember about today - that I had just enough time to prep for class, that the first two classes went SO WELL and the students were SO ENGAGED and enthused that several of them came back at lunch to paint.
That S returned, and we've made pax.
That N said, "Thank you so much."
That J showed me his one ring, and I responded correctly with, "Keep it secret, keep it safe."

That there was so much joy, even in the crazy, back-to-back rush of things.
I delivered the B's portrait, successfully parking and leaving, and A gave me snacks, and the kids wanted me to stay and see projects and new beds, and the portrait looked beautifully at-home. And I've been paid 3 times this week, and my debt for the car repairs is already roughly halved.

And people were kind in traffic, and I read aloud to Mom and Dad, and Mom and I laughed heartily because she remarked on the "similarity" between our birthday cards for Dad (mine, Loyola's "Go forth and set the world on fire" and hers, a chipmunk at a campfire stuffing his face with marshmallows). Send forth the Jesuits! Eat s'mores! I don't see the similarity quite the same way. ;)

I can tell I need to sleep. My body is stiffening and my writing is becoming atrocious. Take all the glory from me. Be praised, Great Finder of Lost Things. Redeemer of the Lacklusters. Stone Heart Dissolver.

Love us into oneness.

I am choosing You. And You are choosing me. Yes.
I am coming. Seek me and find me. You are my One True Friend.

Mm, it's been a while since I wrote after midnight. But tonight was a contra night, and that changes things. It was a windy, sleety night, but we drove to the city and danced, long and hard. All except Q, who danced once with each of us and went to rest in the car. When we danced, we spun so fast my right earring went flying and bounced against the doorframe.

Thank You for 2+ hours of talking and praying with C. Catching up about K's passing, after 6 1/2 weeks without IV, so slow and painfully. Thank You that we could be honest with each other. Our needs are so real. We need You. To be really rooted and secure in You.
There will always be an overwhelming amount of need, sorrow, and cynicism around us. Help us to approach it ONLY from a place of rest in You. Protect us from our own tender hearts, our own laziness, pride.
Give us humility, love, and patience. Patience also with the feelings that may or may not accompany obedience.
There is a faith that is seen best in hindsight - it does not feel glorious or triumphant at the time.
As always, You must provide everything we need. Including synapses.

I am thankful for this long Sabbath Day at home. I am restless, but You are patient with me, and even though I cannot claim anything remarkably successful about today (my work or my small endeavors), You have been gracious. You are gracious.
I am accepted.

I'm still shaking, but thanks for bringing me home safe, for giving me courage.

Thank You for seeing fit to heal her leg and arm through the prayers of Your servant. I am lacking in faith. I am very wary, if not cynical. I am sulking like an offended child, and much of me still thinks I'm justified. Why is there such stupidity alongside such suffering? Why do some make quiet devastating sacrifices while others scheme and mock? Why is what is noble so often made foolish? Why does foolishness have its charm?

If I spin myself in circles enough, I will fall down, which is what I want to do. I want to be covered in sleep, and wake with answers as natural and new as the dawn.

"I have told you these things,
so that is me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart!
I have overcome the world."
-Jn 16:33 NIV

Thank You for this good day that wasn't what I hoped for or expected. Grace was evident in it:
A turkey from the H's, S's stamps (so perfect and well-timed). Feist's "The Reminder".  Progress on J's face. A car bill I can at least scrounge up. Rides to/from Bible Study. Lots of good hugs, and people who care about me.
Draw us through even the smallest pipes back to You, like Santa through the vents. Despite our fighting, draw us.

Help me to come back into my true self in You. To love You first. I've been living as if I much rather love busyness, Netflix, and my own importance. Help me fear You. Help me be content in this season. Thank You for Your kindness in this day, even though I wish I had painted longer, with more focus.
I'm thankful to have the car back, and for the walk with Mom.
I'm thankful for Your second chances, and the simplicity of me and You. I cannot live for anyone else. Take me by both hands and swing me back into freedom. BLESS tomorrow.

It feels good to be alive tonight. To be a little brave, a little tired and creative. Just got back from a singalong in Lancaster City with H and the gang. I brought them jam. T and I talked. I drove home in the peaceful dark, reminiscing over similar drives two years ago. That route at night is a dream.
Thank You for helping me PAINT AND GARDEN today, and for the Christmas tree. I'm not very gentle or understanding. Help me learn to de-escalate, and to let go of my own wishes without bitterness or martyrdom. Continue to school me in this. Thank You.
Refresh my heart. Pierce me with Gospel. Please keep me praying and giving what I can give.

This was a lovely evening with Mom and Dad. Good banter and laughter at the table, looking at jewelry from Grandma, arranging the living room for the holidays, reading Sayers and watching "The Crown".

Lord, show me what You would have me do today. Already I feel "off" from my plan (or non-plan). Help me to be secure, prepared, joyful, flexible. Let me see You. Work through me, things of beauty and truth. Give me a great rumbling hunger for goodness. Lead me to the nugget of joy in creating, again. The freedom in giving. Remind me where I'm forgetful.

I think "diminish" is a beautiful word. I took note of it from Galadriel's lips a few weeks ago, but Mom has been using it recently as well. There is something very John the Baptist about it. .

Lord, I need Your help to be grounded and ready for tomorrow, and the day after. Good as today was, I left a lot of loose ends. And I don't want to be scattered between small tasks.
Keep my string taut, help me sway and dip, but not careen or buckle.
Help me give You my whole self again, whole and dense and flaming like a Christmas pudding.
Or smaller, calmer, like a green pea popped in Your mouth. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Lines from November, Part 1

Today was topsy-turvy, and all the better for it. Work in the morning here, shopping in the afternoon.
I love the rhythms of Tuesdays, though they're tiring. They have their customs.
I had a friendly interchange with a gentleman customer and lady cashier at Family Dollar. I saw B at Wegman's, in front of the parking lot waiting to be picked up. It was very uncomfortable, he tried to hug me and instead we recalculated and I pressed a few fingers into the palm of his outstretched hand, passing quickly, sounding bright and evasive.

What I hate is that I don't even think I can explain to him without opening the door for more expectation on his part. I don't completely ignore him, as J suggested, but I'm not sure what is worse. Help me be a healer, not a murderer. Help me be shrewd, kind, wise, blameless. Not simply absorbed in my own comfort/safety, but no gullible and pointless martyr, either.
I do not need to feign friendship with men I do not trust. I am not their savior. But show me what I am, and should be, and help me be that, unflinchingly.

Thank You for waking both Mom and Dad this morning, and timing things just right so Dad could make the early train.
I am NOT ready for the rest of this week. But You can make me so. Be my only comfort. Remind me that You are. Give me breathless bearhugs, give me courage.

Thank You for seeing me safely through today, all of today, in Your faithfulness.
Sweet notes from Mama to start off the early morning, sweet words from You, less than an hour's commute. The fog lifted in the parking lot as dawn broke, robins layered the world in song, fiery trees glowed in the grey.

And every class went well. I felt the most rapport with the 6th graders, had the most difficulty with the 10th +. But it was good. M & R helped me clean up, I left just before 4 and made it home just after 5! Miraculous!
Thank You.
So I made potato soup, and I'm chillin' in my room.
Oh Lord, I want You. And I need Your help to be faithful. Help me believe You, pray hard, pray free, pray joyously.

Well, Lord, I had hoped to be asleep right now. But help me believe in You, instead. Help me work through whatever needs to be worked through, here. As I pray, as I eat bread in bed (bliss- it's still that fleeting combo of soft & crusty).

I need to learn to love like a woman, not a girl.
And I need to be mature and circumspect in the relationships I really invest in right now - where they're headed, what they mean.
But, Lord, I'm not one who knows how to love better by loving wiser. I humanly respond with, "Well then, snuff the love!"
Show me, instead, what true, tough, tender love is like. Willing to cause pain if necessary for wholeness. Willing to hold fast in discomfort. Patient and faithful to the point of absurdity. But not naive.
I'm a real human being. I'm honey and dung.

I could get used to this. Succour days like this. Mom provided a "birthday" breakfast gratis, Dad shared pumpkin spice coffee. Paintings finished - !

Reading Alexander on the deck, in the sunlight, with cool traveling air. A thank-you card from the Ms, which I carried in my lips up the apple tree to read. Dinner with K and C at a fancy Tapas restaurant.

Thank You for Middlemarch while gessoing. For helping me decide how I will vote. Remind me of the preciousness of life. At the same time, help me let go of mine. Help me not count my life too precious to spend in service of others, or to sacrifice so that someone else can live.
I already have You. You are the flavor in any pleasure - even bread is anticlimactic. But I don't have anywhere near enough of You.
I need You tonight.

"But I want You more, I want You more, as if I'd never said before..."
(Jordan Klassen)
"I love you... like kick drums on your bedroom door."

I'm a bad Sabbather. I'm afraid of the deep end, I splash in and out of the shallows, and maybe float a bit, but I haven't learned to trust myself to dive, to let the air burn in my chest, and not panic.

Lord, I am still too distracted. And whenever I try to be mature and adult, I only notice how pathetically childish I am. If You are applauding me, I suspect it is the way we applaud children who are attempting a riddle, or a magic trick, or imitating an Olympic athlete: this is adorable - the concentration is so cute.
I can almost see me with my tongue sticking out, hands poised dramatically.

Thank You for a sense of humor, and thank You for saving me by grace, because otherwise I'd be awfully discouraged right now. I'm incapable of any real love or power or wisdom without You. I'm flighty, and self-absorbed, and ignorant.
Please take me in and train me, however You can, to be foolish for You, weak for You, unselfconscious for You. Just looking at You, thinking about You, in love with You.
Scrub out the fears and the persistent lies. Strap truth securely around me, Jesus.

It is so sweet to be alive again today, Lord. Help me live to the fullest. Help me worship You, whatever I feel.


Kiss You for today. A very productive, hopeful day. Finished off with the Advisors' Meeting and reading Sayers aloud to Mom and Dad, and reading "The High King" to myself.
Tomorrow is election day. Make us Christlike in our votes and in our attitudes.

Sustain us as the weather grows steeply cooler. As we prepare. Thank You so much for all the home time I've had recently. I've needed it. Be my nest.

We still don't know who won... I don't, anyway. Avoided news and social media. But it looks like it could be T-.
These verses You gave me the other day are coming to mind...

"The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most Hight is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men."
-Dan 4:17 NIV

Help me trust You in whatever happens. As Mom just said, if he wins, we have deserved it, and there are lessons we will have to learn. You will have to help me to be clear-eyed, and not a mocker. Prayerful and respectful and yet not avoiding the truth or making excuses. I still don't think he could last 4 years. Impeachment, if not something worse... but then again, You can humble the proudest heart. Let Nebuchadnezzar be the case study - and let me pray for humility, repentance, and kindness to the oppressed (v. 27).

Savior, help me. The future looks so bleak right now.
Somehow, turn us into a country that loves the world. That embraces the "other". Where the unwanted of every nation can find a home, and a new beginning. Can find You.
Bring us Syrian refugees. I didn't make that welcome sign for nothing. We haven't been praying for nothing.
But I know I haven't been praying enough. Or listening for You. Help me now, here in this lonely beautiful house, while salt clings on my eyelashes and my vitals ache.
You, Maker of everything that exists, are the only peacemaker. The only hope we ever can have. Give me Gospel, and nothing else. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
Reap Your harvest.

"It is to me indeed 'Victoria'"! (Chesterton)

Best Friend, this was a plentid day, as I see now I am come to the end of it. Varied, rich, and sweet. Psalms. Paintings. Potato soup alone, by candlelight. Finishing "The High King" while pacing the back deck, in the golden glow, until my fingers and feet were numb with cold. Going to the S's and watching Fellowship, and munching and sipping goodness, and enjoying each other's company.
I glazed and painted. Listened to music and "Middlemarch", finished the Albania/Kosovo/Montenegro Dispatch over lunch. Responded to G's article. Mailed off C & S's recording. Called Papa. Didn't call E.

Oh... I don't know how to decide what matters, because You seem to take such precious care of details, and I don't want to miss anything. Like how You help me drive even when I'm off. Like making me uproariously gassy when I'm home alone, but politely controlled out with friends. Like no snow, after all. Like deviled eggs, spinning in the kitchen. Like F texting for prayer, and You answering. Like a few true words hitting their mark.

I can trust You beyond everything. Stir up our desire, our zeal, our love for You. Heedless of ourselves. Be my reputation. Love me out of this funk, into something wiser, kinder, bigger. Take me in Your arms and carry me that way, all tomorrow.

I'm thankful for this day. It began with a noble pheasant poking around under the pear tree. I began a new song on the piano. And tonight I re-recorded Psalm 10.

Although I wish they were more deeply connected to You, I was thankful for the times of rest I had, outside, flat on the deck while the sun was warm enough, and inside on my bed, listening to rich sad soundtracks. I ate supper to B's music. That was very good.
Please go before me this week, weave all the threads, make something beautiful and honoring to You. Guide me with bit and bridle; I must not be impetuous.
The LORD, the LORD, is King forever and ever.

Dear Jesus,
This is my last day home alone. It has been precious. I spent most of the daylight hours at S's, cleaning and baking a very little, and talking and eating and praying and being blessed much more.
I baked chicken, printed paintings, read and paced, ate. Worked out, ending with wonderful sweaty dancing and yoga. I showered and finished the movie, which is frustratingly difficult to skip through cleanly, but which is worth the struggle. I did cry.
I cried during Pastor B's prayer yesterday morning. These are good signs.
But something the tears tonight revealed to me is that I want to be wanted. Meaning that I long to give myself to a love that has waited and fought and trusted. I want to bring pleasure and joy and fulfillment, to love back fiercely and loyally. To be someone's answer to prayer.
I do appreciate Bathsheba's character in the movie, but most of the time she's only exasperating or convicting me. Gabriel Oak is the one I really want to see happy (ti voglio bene). So that's You. Because it's such a picture of You, and Hosea, and You again. I hate Gomer, but I will love her and be her if it means Your praise in the end. If it means Your inexorable love is displayed, resplendent.

But Jesus, help me now, to love You with all truth, purity and passion. With my whole howling heart, scandalously, recklessly, breaking my jar and pouring myself out to You.

Make me faithful to You from start to finish.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Lines from October, Part 2

Thank You for this lovely day. With Mom and Dad, with A, and at study.
You gave me courage, and protected us on the drive home from the train station, when I nearly got us T-boned by an SUV, making my left turn.
So humbling.

Jesus, show me how to seek You. Show me what life should be - this (deeper), dramatically different, or  ?
I do know that Your love is necessary. Please please give me more. In the nutty bolty, nits and grits. In all seasons. Be my savor. Please give me love for my work, especially the book. Surround me in story, in truth and beauty and goodness so real that I must depict it, irresistibly.
Wake me tonight if You like.
Bless tomorrow. Refresh us in each other's company. Use us to point each other to You, Jesus.

What a glorious day it's been with A. Good meals, conversation, beauty and activity and munching apples on the dam. Crunching leaves, basking in the day. Thank You for the chance to speak and hear each other, to encourage each other. I trimmed her hair. We watched the first hour of "Sweet Bean" and gave back massages.
And here I am, trying to sleep because I decided to drive in tomorrow. Thanks for reminding me, If I can't trust You, who/what can I trust? I can leave to You all the things I can't control about tomorrow. Make me ready to receive and respond.

Do grant me sweet rest and peace.
Prove Your presence in my heart again tonight.
Thank You for being so faithful. I worship You.

What a gracious day this has been.
I'm satisfied even if the ends are frayed, because You were faithful and generous and rewarded me for small nips of faith.

A and I talked long, finished our movie, listened to music, back massaged, and prayed. And we've been eating splendidly well: homemade pizza, pancakes and yogurt, omelets and salad, breaded turkey cutlets and roasted veggies, chocolate cupcakes, potato soup and salad and turkey and crackers and Vermont sharp cheddar, blueberry cobbler and lemonade.

Guide and protect and nourish tomorrow.
For peace and productivity and love.
For You and Your   s h w e e t    love.
Oh how do I have both for You? Your holy revered Name.

Lord Jesus,
Show me if there is anything standing between me and You. Help me turn from it. I would rather give up anything than forfeit closeness with You.

This was a love of a day. A rare fall day, windy & cloudy & bright, not bitter. Stories meeting. Photoshoot with H and S. Reading Flannery O'Connor on the back deck, wrapped in a red blanket.
Enjoying the freedom to rest. Happy Sabbath.

Goodnight, and happy watching.
(Since I know You'll be awake for the whole thing).
Thank You that there are brave people in this world, and that You are so bold.

This was the rammiest day of the fall, by far! Odd hours with You, caffeine, and sunshine gave me a good shove off the dock of the morning. Which I needed, for everything that followed. The rocky bottom of cramps, and a hole in my hull made by a four-figure car repair bill. Goodbye, savings. We're not capsized, but we're taking on water.
Enough of this boat stuff. I'm still cheerful, even refreshed by the blunt honesty of need. I need you. I do not have enough money for my living expenses. Not to both eat AND drive AND mail paintings. But right now, in miraculous balance, I am alive and well, and I can do without butter and bouillon for a week. I can run up a gas debt and still go to prayer meeting tomorrow. I can borrow from my MA savings and send my portrait north, in my place. I will survive.

You know, I'm rich. I have a car, and it's in working order (now). I have food, clothing, shelter, work, play, AND love (I sound like Brian Regan). And music - punchy as it was this morning: "The Merry Horn", "Misty", themes from "Babes in Toyland", not much mellowed by tonight (e.g. Danielson).

This feels like the summer, when I finally realized I COULD NOT do everything. I had to be ruthless, because saying yes to anything extra was a death sentence.
Here, in this new season and circumstance, I must say NO. No extras. I just can't. No buts. Only God has veto power, and He holds the checkbook.
I can throw a tantrum, sulk, and complain, or I can thank You and live this, fully accepting my limitations and even glorying in them. This, now - this is adventure. I can't wait to see what You will do (seriously).

Ha. You know? I actually do trust You when push comes to shove.
As Lord Peter Wimsey says,

Wednesday nights find me antsy these days. So many things to bring tomorrow, ha! There are just too many interesting things in the world, and not enough time to paint them.
I'm painting too carefully again. I'm pretty tired of the pieces I'm working on... but You're giving me love for them anyway. I'm calling it love, because that's what I'm asking You for. It feels more like persistence (which is probably what love does most of the time).

A few things. We had our first hard freeze last night, and the beautiful compound morning glories were a wilty mass this morning. Mom tore them down already. She also lengthened the table so as to have room to lay out K's quilt. The combination of a cleared deck and a large table makes meals feel alarmingly exposed.
Mom and Dad allowed me to join them on Part 1 of their date - a walk at Hibernia. It was good, but I found myself feeling sad and distracted. Wearing pants could have helped. I've discovered that my red winter coat + long skirt (esp. + hat) makes me look very young and dumpy, and I can't seem to banish self-consciousness when I'm dressed that way. I act out like a caged animal, and very silly.
We collected sassafras leaves. I found several but dropped my prettiest, a red one, which made me so disappointed that I DID feel very childish on the drive home. Like I'd lost a balloon or something.

The yeast I'd put in the challah was very old and weak. I opened "fresh" packets, showering the counter, and bemoaned my klutziness so much that Mom consoled me with matter-of-fact kindness and forbade me to beat myself up over little things.
Marvelous, what a Mom's consolation can do.
Finally the dough rose, and the bread emerged glossy and crackling and voluminous.
I drove a loaf to H, ate a tiny roll with Dad, and wrapped another for R. The last full loaf is for the Os, who inspired the endeavor.

Oh Lord, I'm not ready for this. I'm like Cinderella in the vestiges of a tattered gown, carefully planned out but thwarted. Show me how You can make simple things glorious, when given to you.
Thank You for giving A the opportunity to talk to J about You. Thank You that L and S are expecting. Thank You for soup, rest, and laughter and memories.

This is all passing so quickly away. Dreams remind me of feelings I forgot how to have. Take me with You tonight. Take me home in Your pocket.

"I remember now, I remember now, He loves me, He loves me."
- Danielson Famile

I've been wide awake the last hour, after sleeping ~4. Yesterday was a good, good day, perfectly punctuated by time with L.

I need Your help to pray for all the heaps of things that could crush me right now. But no. Last night, still early, at the catalpa and writing, was freedom again, and reminders of Your dispensations that I haven't felt in a while. So take me again, this morning, as I have a couple more hours in which I could sleep, paint, pray, write, just rest...
...this habit of Yours is a mercy, much as I sometimes bewail it.
Help me to do what is right.
Help me to trust only in Your righteousness, Christ Jesus.


This has been a lovely day. Thank You for this time with L, for the gift of seeing and being seen. Thrifting this morning, daytime apart, early evening shopping for food, and back at the hotel, eating like college students. Talking horses, music, life....

I'm just so hungry for You. To feel You between my teeth, or myself between Yours, that at this late sleep-deprived hour I'm inured to everything but You. Well, I like to think I am. Please burn Your words into me.

L should be close to home, now. What a joy it was to have her here. She gave me so many varied kinds of gifts. Trust and loyalty and love not the least of them. I want to give back. Help me rest in You in my inability to process all of life right now, or do justice to (let alone abundantly bless) my friends. But I can leave that to You.

A little scab from an ant bite is just now flaking from my foot. A relic of Georgia. What a lot of things, what a number of places You've brought me through in the last 6 months. Make me strong and steady. Help me trust You. Really trust You. Because You know I am still so tightly tied to what I can see and know and control, to my own wants and needs. But You've got my back.
I need this kind of clarity.
Protect me, keep me tender. I want to be the kind of woman who can match a real man. Help me lean into what is stretching me. And teach me, also, how to rest. Relax with You. Enjoy You. Meet me in these next few hours, and in our worship tonight.


Thank You for displaying Your terrible power tonight in that storm that blew through during worship practice. And thanks that we still managed to practice all the songs! Thank You for the fellowship in the gathering of believers, including these young people. It is so beautiful.
Thank You for keeping me safe.
For being    g  e  n  t  l  e   with me.
Please help me keep my word. "Give to me a stalwart heart, which no tribulation can overcome."

It's been two years since Mom and I shaved bald.
Today I subbed 4 classes, K2-6th. We drew and/or colored leaves. It was great, and an adventure, with everything falling into place at the last minute.

I used to feel elevated most of the time, gloriously immune to disaster. Sometimes I still feel that way - hedged by You. Breathless as the edge of danger, and sure (yet trying to be) that You will work everything out.
Give me faith.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lines from October, Part 1

I bought a car. A 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix. We worked out a reduced deal with 2 paintings thrown in.
Bless Your Name, Jesus.

Thank You also for hours of facepainting. 3 cats, a tiger, a bow, a football, a bluebird, 3 flocks of geese, a dozen woolly bears, pumpkins, candy corn, half-dozen apples, leaves. Something crazy like that. Like 60-80 paintings.
And pumpkins, three (real) pumpkins to take home. I didn't understand why You sent the rain earlier - why it became torrential just when I would have stopped at the farm. Now I see in part: You wanted to give me free pumpkins later. And even a tablecloth for painting class, of all things.
Oh, Lord.

"If anyone chooses to do my will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own."
-Jn 7:17 NIV

So special when You do things like this. Like prompt me to pray for people who need prayer (and I read their messages later).
Thanks for the small things You helped me do today. Show me Yourself.

It is a miracle, and I don't want to wait long to thank You and recount - Dad told me at breakfast that the trains are back to their old schedule (which happens to be very inconvenient for traveling to school). But now I have a car. I have a car just in time, and I had no idea. Your timing is impeccable.
You are full of perfect jokes.
Thank You.

This has been quite the weekend. It was rich and festial ;) and a feast of friends. Also a lot of practice driving around Lancaster and Columbia.
So, so dear to be with old college friends.

Today was the V's reception, and it was a blissful, windy, sunny, crisp day.
Somehow I'm full and drained at the same time. Refreshed - so refreshed!
But exhausted.
There are so many things I need You to teach me. Presence and intention, peace, graceful good humor, love.
"May it be to me as you have said."

This morning K preached on forgiving our enemies, giving the examples of Jan Huss and Christ. I was pretty sure I had no enemies... but as I think about it, there are people I avoid. That I even find myself wishing did not exist (at least in their current state), or did not have a claim on me.
People that I find it difficult to love.
Show me Your will. Be my first and last. Flow through me. Thank You for caring for me in all the circumstances of this weekend, in the love and hospitality of others, in skill You gave, in safety on the roads, in a working car, in beauty and fair weather. In meaningful connections. In Your Word.

I'm writing from the Infirmary at Camp. It's Thursday evening, my last day off from school until Thanksgiving. A gift of a day, because it gives me the flexibility to be here, although I'm missing some of my inventory #s and may have to come back again.
I'm planning to get up for a "prayer" hour for the second time, tonight. So I'll be heading to bed soon.
Squeeze me.
Please empower me for all these paintings, and give me peace, and care for me. Surround me on every side, as You have been doing. Sharpen my heart. Deepen my mind. Arouse my passion for You, my compassion for others.
Use me in spite of myself.
Feed me bite by bite on Yourself, from Your fingers.
Answer me. Help me to pray.

Thank You for being a friend to me. A true friend. I want to recount some of Your many gifts; I will forget otherwise:

A quiet morning to prepare for church. Wesley indicating "low break fluid" while still in the driveway, and Mom and Dad with a rental this weekend, which meant I could take the Buick to church. Bracing sermon on Tyndale and Your Word. A shared look and smile with K. A little time to catch up with B. C's hug. A note from L, delivered by hand from Australia by J.
The minor prophets. Music - at least a rough recording. Lots of leftovers to eat, including beets. Time to dance to Audrey Assad's "Inheritance".
These gentle moments in bed, by lamplight, with a full moon glowing outside.

Why am I given this, when so many people across the planet only endured today? And why am I still so slow to catch up to gratitude, and fearful for my life and future? I wonder if I'll be some stunted persimmon. Nothing in myself is reliable. You are my only comfort. But then, You only can be. You are more than enough. Baste me with the truth and bake me this whole night long.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Lines from September, Part 2

Caro Gesu,
This is better already, kneeling to be with You.
I am bitter, ill, and need You. I need You. Save me. I am not strong. I will only self-destruct, I cannot make anything true or lovely. This world is too loose, and too tight, all in the wrong places, it seems.

Open up to me. Put me in place, let me feel the whir of Your activity, around and in me. Humming and endless.
Help me wait - wait - for Your words to dissolve on my tongue.
They are not fast food.

Thanks for Mom coming in and not leaving right away, giving me a chance to speak, praying. Please help me not hide. Help me walk toward the light, even if it is nothing but a pinpoint.

John 14
Psalm 150
I made it back safely from my "11-11" day out. To the S's with H, to contra with the gang. I drove 110.9 miles. So nearly 111.
It was a pleasure to be with those folks. And back to contra after 9 months.

Lord, I want my dimes to go to Your work. I want my life to be at Your disposal, whole and in all its particulars. My car, when it comes. My time... ugh, my time! My energy, including my emotional and mental energy. My clothes and books. My body, my appearance, my food. All my paintings. I DO still think too much about my career, my "famous someday", my power and influence.

I really do want my attention to be focused at the heart of things. The things that last, that aren't things. You and Your Word, souls.
Thanks that Dad's class went so well. That he prayed for me in the car today.

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Jn. 10:10

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." Jn 10:27

"Tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock and where you rest your sheep at midday.
Why should I be like a veiled woman beside the flocks of your friends?" SoS 1:7

I don't feel settled. I'm like a shell, wandering from room to room in search of something. Checking off my to-do list brings little sense of accomplishment. Even Your Word is like water by spoonfuls - I need a greater thirst, and I need it slaked.
Open me up to see what is right before me. Please give me love again. Humble me - I know that much of this is only difficult because I am in the way.
You are more important.
Jesus Christ.

Thanks for hemming me in, for stabilizing me tonight. We can do this. It will, in fact, be a glorious success. Just help me cling to You.
Love me tenderly and passionately. Stir up all my love for You. Only in this can the world see Your reality in me.

22. Sylvania, Georgia
So much in a day. This was a long, pleasant, peaceful day. Lots of time visiting with P, meeting others. J and E will probably have portraits made.
I strolled around the ponds today. It was delicious - balmy, breezy, lonely but homey at the same time. I found egrets, a heron, crows, and other birds. Fire ants found me. There were lovebugs floating in the air.
E got in ~8pm. She's in the other room tonight, since the trundle was too much work for us without Grandpop (who nodded off while she and I were talking).
P reminds me so much of M. Such a sweet and insightful woman. Kind, and strong. Intelligent. I wish I was painting her.

"Lord, it is good for (me) to be here. Let me build 1 shelter:
one for You."


Suddenly the time is flying! So little time left. Because tomorrow E and I go to Savannah to see Brother.
Today, again, was more clouds and sun than rain, which was wonderful. It gave us the chance to ride the golf cart, pick pecans, talk and explore.

We looked up genealogy, read "Hyperbole and a Half". I paced the driveway, praying and glorying in the sad longing perfection of the farm (leaping heaps of transitory beauty, present yet ungraspable). I read Alexander for a while as I paced, then cleared off a chair on the island and watched the pond. Turtles poked tiny triangle heads above the water.
E and I made salad and spaghetti for dinner, had sundaes watching "Notorious".

Another late night, but I'm glad for the evening. For Your patience with my feelings. Your perfect timing. Your way of keeping me dissatisfied with everything but You. Meet us here with the truth, which I need as much as ever tonight. I must go with You tomorrow. Keep bounding into my line of sight. Wink at me around corners, wag Your ears. Blow me kisses from passing cars and nudge me in the right direction. Bless me so that I can be a blessing, so that I can declare Your Name fearlessly, as I should. Out of the overflow of praise, no matter what ground still remains to be crossed. This may be a desert, but never let me forget how You parted the sea.

What kindness You have in You. I don't even know how. This should be tiring for You at this point, this patient steady giving of love in form after form after form - but I guess You like it. It all smacks of Your enjoyment. I love You. I love that I wanted to sing in the shower tonight. And that I feel more hopeful, like the bones rattled and shook. They may not have set themselves together, but they're making noise.

The time with E was lovely. Driving, and while we talked with Bro at Vic's on the River, and driving home, and walking around the plantation.
He met us, happy and welcoming, and it was good to see his place. A cat to love on. Two roommates. Confetti on the doorstep.
We three talked about all kinds of things. He and I wandered around Dick Blick, fingering markers and talking in that place of comfort and inspiration to us both.
He said he hears gunshots every week. He makes chicken and rice. He hopes to come home at Christmas.

Mmm, sleepy. To that dopey tired state wherein I keep myself up because I'm too tired to focus enough to progress to actual sleep.
Help me. Please show me how to be close to You. To love You and know You and see You and obey You and give You pleasure.
Please make tomorrow full of love, truth, seeing.

Sunday's ending. My last day here. It was a lovely, long, interesting morning. We took the afternoon slow, after our guests left. I took a long beauty walk.
We all rested. E left right after lunch, so I was pretty hermitty.
I'm trying not to be nervous about tomorrow, about having what I need to get my boarding pass, etc.
You are always kind to me, even when it feels like my world is shaking. You remind me You're there. Seek Your sheep. Use me in spite of myself. Increase my faith. Let me truly be a blessing! Be glorified. Show Your power.
Help us actually want this.

It's a gasping miracle, how You give us just enough.
Forgive me, I am full of violence and derision. "Raca" rattles in my temples and presses against my ribs. Show me blessing. Show me that it is not loopy handwriting on a DaySpring card, but power and action, lusty vital love, a life force.
I want that, not this contempt and negation.

I am getting old and dull. Help me play this hide-and-seek wholeheartedly, and kiss the leaves in the dewy dark and lift my arms and sing.

Thank You for Your hand over things today. Like the miraculous way I woke up to my 5:20 alarm sweetly tired, not bitterly so. Gentle, chilly rain. Leaving a love note for Mom. The train already parked. J and the twins cheerfully awaiting me. Enough time to set up. Smooth and enjoyable bookend classes. Catching the early train home. "Pilgrim's Regress". Dad taking me to the bank and to Wawa for free coffee. Pesto pasta for dinner. Prayer with Mom and Dad. A letter from Bestefar and some time to tie up loose ends. Yoga, and dancing at 11:11.
And bed.

Friday, October 28, 2016

it is still early

it is still early
the lights
have only had time
to grow brighter

we should not be inured, cannot
wonder without
stepping into untested

taste, and see
spread wide and crash
your craving on this
cold, hard, weathered stone

between breath this
tree where life
is punctuated, pierced

by sounds of zinging angels
violin, and cello
behind, around
the highway drone

this embrace
that smells of evening, wood
and safety

past the slow walk home
the slender chill
the pleiades
dissolved like salt on the tongue

baptism and eucharist daily appear
dew and flakes of flesh
left frost-like in the darkness, in the grass
every morning.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Lines from September, Part 1

Still the 1st, by minutes.
This was a triumph day for You. Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Such a long day, even more complicated with the rental car, but so good.
I do enjoy teaching. These kids are great. So is R. So are the families.
Please replenish us tonight.

Lord, teach me to fear You. I want You to be my first thought.
Grazie, You carried us all through today. So good to see both E and A. So hard to grasp what's happened.
Thanks for helping me drive my 5th car ever. Thanks for the time with Dad, and the butter pecan ice cream we got at High's Dairy tonight, on the way home.
There was a woman at High's, an employee, sloppy drunk. The gentleman who served us was trying to make the best of it, care for her and contain her in the back. Noting Dad, he said to me jocularly,
"A real gentleman who opens doors! You don't see that every day."
I replied,
"Actually I do...but I know I'm one of the privileged few."
He scooped us very generous servings.

Oh Lord. I want tomorrow to be fruitful. Here and in NY. I want You to make Your Name glorious.

Lord, show me the truth. Reveal the lies, within and without. Help me to love and desire You more than anything or anyone else. And help me love others.

Sometimes I think I must not love other people very much at all. And right now I feel so stretched still, it's like I make a habit of being too busy for everyone.
A habit of looking to the next thing, the next person - never being wholly there. It's a cowardly and despicable habit. There is no real pleasure in it, though there is a cheap and hollow safety.
Show me where to invest. I know I can't be everywhere at once, be everyone's best friend. But I had better watch myself, or I'll have no close friendships, no fully-invested commitments. Like Dad said today, "What you put into it is what you'll get out of it."
We did have a lovely day.
Being out in Your world is so good. Thank You for cooler, still-bright weather and a breeze.
Thank You for K's hard words. For the truth You spoke through him. Thank You for the Holy Spirit. For helping me pray a little.

O God,
Show me Who You Are. I have been half-worshipping a tired image. I must have You, as You really are. Help me find You. Chase me, catch me up out of this irritation and doubt. Depression. You are tried & true. I am tired. Help me fall onto You.

Lord, save me. I'm so antsy. Maybe it's the coffee, but it's not just the coffee. And I feel like I could do something very wrong, or forget something very important.
Help me worship You in the midst of this fever, in Spirit and Truth.
Help me spit out this irritable abhorrence. This abhorrent irritation.
My prayers themselves are wimpy. Fight for me, King. Prince of Peace, Lord of the Universe, Lover of my soul.

I feel like saying, "forgive me, forgive me, I don't know what got into me..."
For now I feel so different. In between a meeting (sitting among the clover with M while we waited for C), 90 minutes under the sky as it turned pearl to dusk, a lyrical ride there and back, tasty pork baking while I biked and showered, words from Marilynne Robinson, H's photos and flattering benediction, feeling tidy and ready for tomorrow... somewhere in between, the beast slipped off my back.

That is, annoyingly, how it feels. Like the cloud simply lifted, the demon fleeted away. And I'm left relieved, and confused at the memory of my own emotion, and wary of the damage I may have done under its influence. Am I a creature of circumstance? Is my will so brittle? Are You proving a point, and what is it?
I am perhaps too complicated to understand Your staring simplicity. Your constant love. Like a hand held so long that the pressure feels imaginary. Squeeze me a little.

Please help me trust You for tomorrow. Glorify Your Name. Help each one of us taste and see that You are good. Use me.

"For need can blossom into all the compensation it requires. To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow..."
-Marilynne Robinsoon, Housekeeping p. 152

15 years have passed. I still remember how it felt, and Mom gasping, "All those people!" as the towers fell. I'd never seen a death before, but I was watching it live, people jumping. Terry Moran's expression.
Today, as I paced the deck reading "A Theology as Big as the City" under a bifurcated sky (gibbous moon in blue, sun behind trees striping the sky with pink above), I realized what a deep hold this place has on me. All the familiar things. And even though life often seems the same, the same and always the same, it has changed, and it will change. Perhaps dramatically.

Perhaps in a year I'll be riding across dirt roads, breathing hot air and feeling the dust hit my face, and perhaps I'll think wryly how simple I was the year before, and how I took everything for granted and wasted so much.
Don't let me waste it. Don't let me be distracted.

I feel fake, and like a hypocrite, because I know she needs a friend, but I'm keeping myself at arm's length. I don't think I can be the friend she needs, but I don't think evasive, half-hearted friendship is right, either. And that's how I feel I'm behaving, with most people. With almost everyone. Even Mom and Dad, sometimes.
Jesus. I need Your help to focus. To be present and secure enough to love others "deeply, from the heart". Right now my heart wants to shove people away, even while it aches to be known. I'm tired of making excuses. Of being constantly full, stretched. I need stillness and silence and safety, and I need people. I need Your help to love and be loved, to know and be known.

Please do use my words. But keep me independent of them, as well. Or maybe not. Just put me in right relationship to words, including my own.

And Lord, I want Your clarity. I need Your truth. Prove Your words. Give me faith. I am such a doubter, and I'm not used to feeling this way. Not used to remembering what it was like to see, rather than seeing.
Prevail for us, for me.

Thank You. I say this a lot, but I mean it. You showed me, tonight, through Your people. Earlier I felt like screaming, facing darkness that looked like despair and didn't seem to budge. But it did.
Thank You for those who came early to pray. For an encouraging and convicting lesson. Refreshing group time. And a swift return home.
It's good to be home.

"But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love you may rejoice in you.
For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield."

-Ps. 5:11-12 NIV

Help me believe what You told the sisters in John 11.
Help me to understand hell. I still don't. It makes me feel betrayed and angry. Forever? Conscious? I am sure I do not understand Your holiness. Help me understand both Your mercy and Your justice.
Please go before me today. You'll have to help me. Guide me. Fix my thoughts on You and what is good and noble. Fructify me.

Thank You for making today so sweet. Classes were the best yet.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Lines from August, Part 2

I wish there was a way to hug You. Tight.
As it is You're just going to have to take all that's in me, all this overflow, and hold it in You and let it rise up warm and fertile between us, setting down a million tiny roots to hold us strong for the next storm or drought.
I do, and I don't, know how this came about. I know it has to be processed through You, protected by You, or else I'll minimize or expand it far beyond what's justified.

What it was is this: a number of small steps of vulnerability and affirmation.

Like You tend to do, You set up something far more perfect than I could have schemed. And on a night when I felt so weak, sticky and faint and nauseous, You gave me the gift of being seen and heard, and of being able to receive and respond to what was entrusted to me.
It was small and holy. And I won't beat it into the dust, and I won't idealize it, if You help me, but it was You and it helped and I'm thankful.
Thank You.

Heart of my heart, remind me what it means. Shepherd me.

Camp is so eerie right now. No, not bad - I kind of like it - but it's an adjustment. Lurch Cabin isn't such a haven now, it's just a landing place. Anywhere can be quiet. In fact, people are a boon. F has visited me. B. The MJ Earl deliveryman, who saw my sketches and told me about an architect he knew who died at 100 and whose countless meticulous drawings were trashed.

I felt so much better today. I ate meals. I sat with B for lunch, had a funny pseudo-alone dinner, talked again with B. Later I strolled around, and then a knot of us played Rummikub and Yahtzee.

I feel sort of adrift. Trying to root myself... it can only be in You. You make me secure, You hold my heart, You form my character.
Help me be content with that.
And Father, be my never-shifting star. Nothing else is sound or stable. Not me, or my favorite things, or the people I idolize, or the people whose consistency I take for granted.
Let this not make me bitter, but free. The hunger I'm feeling for You right now is like that of the Prodigal - I'm doubting Your welcome. But I am like Saul, "still honor me before the people!" No, Lord God, Father, what I want is Your arms enfolding me. Your voice must be the one in my inner ear. Be my still point on which to pivot, secure me so my thread can be spun out in the many, many directions I'm going to be pulled in the next days, weeks, and months.
Make me strong and supple so I don't snap.

Yesterday an old song re-emerged (from Freshman year I believe):

I am not a toy, I'm a woman
and I'm following You wherever You lead

Tell me what to do, and I'll do it
'cause I'm following You wherever You lead

Let me not be someone's plaything
let me not be someone's game
'cause I'm bound to be Your servant
and I want to be Your slave...

Thanks for whisking me sweetly, freshly through today. The store is mostly clean. B took A and I out to lunch, E, B, F and I played Settlers up at Traber.
You made it work. Thank You.
We swung. I heard the loud rap of preaching from the chapel, and when I went back down to main camp the transformation was complete - I felt out of place! But here at Lurch it's been lovely to tidy and clean and gather, industriously but quietly, without rushing.
I can sleep soon, and soon begin the last day. Oh, guide me. I don't need to know everything, I don't even need to know what I feel, but I need to know You.
Put my heart at ease with You.
Speak to me intimately.

"...The mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
and instead of the briars the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD's renown,
for an everlasting sign,
which will not be destroyed."

-Isaiah 55:12b-13 NIV

This is it, this is the day I said I was coming home. And I am home.
And it's good.
Not everything is finished - not sketches, not the reports or the inventory list, but I think the lion's share is finished.
Lurch is clean and mostly empty. I didn't return the Parker things yet, and there's a row of Lost and Found items in the closet. But it's ready now, for new purposes. It's a little like watching a video in reverse,
                  zhooop - !
everything that tumbled out of the box is tucked back in place, in perfect order.
Only not really.
There's been depreciation, and value added, and growth, and entropy. Much as things may feel cyclical, or never-ending, we ARE going somewhere. We will get there. There will be enough of whatever we need. How I need to remember this and trust You tonight! If I were to allow it, the pressure of everything would worry me to death. The air would vibrate with it.

I wonder why I assume worry is something I can handle on my own - a choice within my power. Maybe because You said, "Do not worry" so many times, it sounds like You take for granted that we can choose not to worry. Maybe, like all things, it's simply a matter of our assent to Your work and power. Not about us ever, at all.
Hurrah! We get to be everything and nothing. Get to shake with the splendor of it all, of Your story, of You, and even the sounds we make as we choke on our wonder will be real and beautiful, and more than half laughter.
Please show him You are kind. Please, please show him how kind You are, and how much You love him. Help him know that the crucifixion is not meant to reproach us. Help him feel the gush of Your bottomless grace ceaselessly pouring out, because You came for life, full life, and You love to give. And You love to love. We are drinking thimblefulls of You, when You would give us 6 stone jars with 20-30 gallons each.
And more, if we could handle it.
I have not been outside enough. I've forgotten the blatant proclamation:
                                   God is Extravagance.
I can trust You with everything. My goodbyes, my family, my songs, my projects, my heart's pilgrimage. My friends, and my fears. My inner longings.

Even today, I was aware how You showed up when I didn't expect grace, with grace. A few quiet beginning minutes before the alarm. An adorable tiny dog in the office that relished my hand and licked my toes fervently. A swallow diving toward my face. Just enough lunch. A cool, delicious breeze as I drew Pinesite cabins. Friendly conference-goers who greeted me and watched me draw, or just treated me like a sister. Mom and Dad... championing the final sweep & mop, buying us all ice cream, taking me home to our peerless BLTs.
The skull is still on the wall.
Steady me. Hold me and steady me.

I feel so much better, having danced.

Let us recount small victories:
I got X-Rays today at the dentist's, and the dentist was pleased. Apparently teeth like mine are his bright spots (for their cleanliness, not their alignment).
The studio has officially migrated, and I am in position to paint again.
The weather was balmy today.
More conference food for lunch, mmmmm.
C & Dad tag-teamed my Advisor Meeting transportation, and it went smoothly.
I ate bread and cheese and whole cloves of roasted garlic at the pub.
J can be my ride tomorrow!
MM slept better the other night.
E called to coordinate our GA trip, and we caught up.

Lord, I want to see Your hand in everything. How You work out work. How You provide a car. How You weave me into close and transformative relationships. How You teach me love and patience. How You bring healing, and bring people (back) to Yourself.
The urgency, the immediate need for You, is pressing up inside me.
"Not to us, O LORD, not to us
but to Your name be the glory
because of Your love and faithfulness."
-Ps. 115:1 NIV

A few times today, I was a little depressed that I didn't have permission to revert to middle-school mode and curl myself up and cry. Life feels like a leech with two daughters sometimes: Give! Give!
But as desiccated as I've felt, I've felt You flowing through my emptiness.
Thank You for J's sacrificial kindness and flexibility for me today.
Thanks for Psalm 116, which was perfect.
"Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you."
(v. 7)

There will be enough. There will be abundance beyond my ability to reckon - my most generous acts will appear stingy when I see with clear eyes everything You have done.
Help me give. Fill me. Empty me.

Today was very lovely, and I wish I could end that with a period, but... but God, therefore, I will be OK. I know this is more than half in my mind, and that's part of the problem. I'm so overwhelmed. And I'm trying to handle it too much on my own (organizing, method, yoga, tea, evasion) rather than planting myself down with You. We need another full day. Please help me choose this. You before everything, You in everything, Your leading and power and love. It will all be empty otherwise, anyway. Help me not put You off or abuse Your faithfulness.
I want You to feel trusted and wholly depended on and worshipped and needed, but not used.
Help me handle all these family things, friend things, heart things, work things. Help me lay my hands on Your hands and let You play the keys.
Help me keep trusting You and running to You, whatever I feel.

Thank You for my dear Mama.

What do You really want?
My heart.
Where is my heart being pulled right now?
Despair. Worry. Pursuing belonging/love from men. Impressing others with my art/music. Trying to be a faithful friend. Attempts at control.

My goal: to become more like Jesus -

Bold in the Truth
Compassionate to all
Secure and peaceful

Areas in which to grow:

Words - speak the Gospel
Speak edifying, gracious words
Avoid pointless chatter & flippancy

Joy - practice presence & gratitude
Simplify schedule, stuff
Prioritize praise & worship
Celebrate whole-heartedly
Practice hospitality
Feast on the WORD

Reflection: what do my actions, attitude, appearance say about Who I serve?

Secondary goals:
To facilitate and nourish community, growth
To mirror God's character (beauty, truth, goodness, etc.)
To be a wife and mother

_Trust God_

What do I want from You?

The confidence that You are pleased with me, delight in me, love me.

I feel so vulnerable - physically (driving, travel, city, illness) emotionally (losing loved ones, relationally w/ guys) spiritually (people I love struggling/oppressed).

How do I go forward with life? Where, and in whom, do I invest? How do I relate to people who seem to want too much from me?

I seem to need a car. And a way to afford health insurance come spring. And I should probably start saving for the future. Will I have food and clothing? You always care for me in that. Every time. What about friends? Will You bring me to new friendships, or teach me to be more vulnerable and committed to the friends and community I already have? What about romance? Will there be someone whose character doesn't need my excuses, who can love and lead me like You do? Someone I can delight to team up with for the rest of my life?

I want You. I want everything You are, even if it destroys and obliterates me. I long for the truth and holiness and power and wisdom and beauty and joy You possess, You embody, You originated, You Are. I want LOVE and Justice and Mercy.
Love, Love, Love. If nothing else, only You, if not Your hands, Your Face and Your Heart my continual eternal

This has been a lovely day with You. But I realize it has still been largely selfish, and I am ending the day hungrier than I began it. Find me and free me, Lord Jesus.

Sometimes settling seems to take far too long, and then, overnight, suddenly you are settled. Or healed. Or you've truly forgiven someone and not just decided to forgive.
Teach me that there are very, very few things over which I have control. I'm beginning to wonder about this control concept itself - it seems that life is more like a series of choices, permissions and denials, and they are all that constitute any semblance of "control".

Who will I obey? Whose voice will I believe? Who is my master?

Saturday I drove to Bryn Mawr for the parent orientation dinner. I wanted to crumple a few times, or hide in the bathroom, but You were a friend and the group was very warm and kind. It ended up being a redeemed evening.

Yesterday I stuck with L after church, and we had a picnic lunch under an ugly beautiful tree with the gang. We explored the old farmhouse, empty 20 years, charming and light-filled but embroidered with mold.

Please give me some music? And go before me tomorrow. I'm Your lady. Season my words.

Lord Jesus, I am so unready for this day. We haven't even had breakfast yet.
Please work the kinks out of my spirit, my attitude. Help me accept whatever comes. If this doesn't get easier, please make me stronger. I love You.

Grace is evident all around.
And now I want You again. Man-God, Holy Perfection, culmination.
"...You take and take from me; You must be all I need." (Sarah Sparks)
So fun to make that discovery today, that she was the artist J shared with me way back in ... 2012?
I want to write You something new and sharp. But You will have to give me the words.
Today was such a scattering of small things.

"What are all these fragments for, if not to be knit up finally?"
-Marilynne Robinson

Help me truly rely on You, lean hard into You. Please protect me, and others from me, and bring me home rejoicing at the wonders You have shown me. Show Yourself mighty and faithful. Establish Your kingdom, march forth victoriously over the Enemy.
Christ King Jesus.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Lines from August, Part 1

I love life.
I love breakfast, steam rising from washed dishes, the sound of wind in treetops. I love sleep after showering after sweaty work. I love voices rising and swelling in harmony, in worship.
I love the way a baby's hand curls around a neck. I love the feel of folded paper, and the nap of knitted blankets, and the electric connection of hands.
I love spider's webs and bird's nests and beaver's dams. I love the color of beets. I love the fragrant snap of pine, and cedar, and the warmth of kitchen herbs. I love familiar words, and new friends, and old friends, and laughter.
I love weddings and dancing. I love to be kissed on the forehead, because it is more than equanimity: it is blessing.

I'm not sure what to do about this. I'm not sure how to handle my swollen, freckled ego. How do you handle dreams coming true? Who ever prepares you for that? It's like a kid from a viral home video airing on late night TV. Overwhelmed and awkward, or obnoxious, and definitely anticlimactic.
That's me. That's what I'll be, if You don't help me. I don't find myself in my own entrails or glorification, I find myself in You.
And I do want to believe all the dreams You nested deep in me.
But You understand how many of them are nothing grandiose, but only the privilege of something small, and shared. The kind of dreams that are horribly afraid of being laughed at, or disappointed, and so are endangered species. These need a special skin: vulnerable courage.
That delicate balance.
Oh, I am such a child.
(Make me more, and more, and more of one, more than I ever really was).
Pour these many thick, metallic prayers straight from my lips to Yours.
I need to see the way You absorb the massy needs of the whole world.
Holy Bridegroom, wash me.

You've been asking me to dance, over and over, the last few days.
Thank You for loving me steadily, without change.

"Persisting to the end will be the burr under your saddle - the thorn in your flesh - when the road ahead seems endless and your soul begs an early discharge. It weighs down every other difficulty of your calling." - William Gurnell

"A hesitant man is the last thing in the world a woman needs. She needs a lover and a warrior, not a Really Nice Guy." - John Eldredge

Yesterday we finished right around 5, which is unheard of.
Until now, duh. Why do we (I) use such phrases?
Anyway, yesterday was sweet, sweeping and mopping, running the store, being gifted with a beautiful leather purse from K and N.
I wiped mashed potatoes off the floor and B's shoes. A hilarious and iconic moment, especially since John 13 was the day's chapter.

K picked me up and took me back to the S's for the Olympics opening ceremony and dinner. K and J watched the ceremony to the end, but I spent the last couple hours upstairs, sticky, praying and reading and processing another invitation to travel next summer.
And I was startled by another invitation today. I'm learning these things, and learning myself, slowly. I still need Your help SO BADLY, because in some situations I'm practically senseless. My heart has leapt and rocketed a couple of times recently, and it feels addictive and ridiculous, and I have to laugh, but also pause with wide and solemn eyes. That I'm even writing this makes me want to laugh, and blush, and go wash dishes.

I think I'm picking belly button lint with this entry. I think I'm getting sick, and I need to sleep. Tonight, stormy then cloudy night, was stellar. Nimbular. Romantic and wild. Thanks.
Press the prayers out of me, and press in Your Words.

Thanks for leading me. Please grant us superhuman patience and love this week. Unexpected rest. Cleverness and humor and kindness beyond our natural abilities.
Unite my heart to Yours, O Abba. So many forgotten, overlooked, needy people in this world. So many in chains.
Free us. 

I still don't understand how to love the Good humbly, and with everything in me. Love must come first. Saturate me. Glow from me.

Thank You, Father. I was asking for points of meaning to lengthen this time, and You gave them. Time to rest and correspond, to watch the Advanced Equestrian show (which made me bleary-eyed), to swing at Traber (after coming upon a festival of R, R, and Z), to chat with E and N, to shower, do laundry, get Mucinex from the nurse, and hide notes. And it's not even 10pm.
Thank You, Lord.

This has been a very good summer.
Every single thing must be surrendered, it's true. For life to come. For You to fill me and satisfy me. I cannot clutch to anything else at all. This doesn't always look as I expect it to look.

I am rude and insensitive when I feel unwanted or vulnerable. Please help me with this: First, to know I am always wanted, cherished, and protected; Second, to always pass that on.
Lord, You are mightier than we believe You to be. Help us pay You the honor of trusting You for much, much more. Of hurling ourselves into the unknown, where You've called us, with songs of praise and shouts of triumph, and with fervent, continual prayer. Bring hearts to Your throne, to Your lap.
If only I had a pure heart, one with Yours right now. Holy Lord, hold onto me. You are all I have. I long for You. Let me live in such a way that Your return will bring no shame, but only joy like I've only brushed against.
Your blue-black butterfly rushed at my face tonight, You know.
"This is your goal."

This is it. Tomorrow A becomes Mrs. E.
(Thanks for such a delightful evening with Mom and Dad, talking, praying, singing).

A and C are wed. It was a day that resounded through the heavens.
This is all so much more than I can handle. You are holding me secure, but it is only You. My head is still aching after the hard cry I had, as Mom and Dad were praying. Mom's prayer is what tipped me over, though she doesn't know it. There is, anyway, so much we absolutely depend on You to do. Such as keep the planets in motion, keep us breathing in our sleep, help us remember our lives upon waking, and not remain in dreams.
I depend on You to hold my soul intact, and bring us all toward You. FREE US. This darkness is not imaginary, but You, Jesus, are stronger.
Bridegroom, Come.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Lines from July, Part 2

Thanks for all the sleep last night. And for all the grace today, with Mr. N reminding us to pray, and with more than enough help, and with the quiet evening!

Thank You for being my lifeblood and grounding my haywire mind. Please help me be attentive, humble and watchful, not lax, not a gossip, not self-absorbed. Delight me on Yourself.

Mom and Dad visited! It was short, but so sweet. Their reactions to the Army Navy Board were priceless. I didn't expect them to be so surprised or pleased. Mom said, "You painted that?!", Dad put his arm around me, beaming, and began to tell me what kind of ship it was and about the guns.

The T.R.I.B.E. is gone. R is here, and helped me pick wineberries, and her Mom is out of the hospital.

Thank You for a blissful walk. I might not have been paying enough attention to warrant the word "blissful", but I know I was surrounded by holy goodness and beauty, even if I didn't take it in. I took in plenty of wineberries, perfect and filmy, tart-sweet and tender. A few honeysuckle flowers. Saw a cohort of girls riding bareback, with a friendly accompanying dog. Bullfrogs, green herons, a dull-eyed dead fish. A picturesque sunset while I did yoga on the dock. A few moments to play piano in the chapel, before scooting back to shower.
I don't want to lose all this. I am terrified of missing out on what You are, what You are doing, what You could be doing if I was willing and ready. Please help me be ready. All that matters is that I'm Yours.
Please let me be Your carrier pigeon.
Give me another good night of rest, if You like.
As You Wish.

Three good nights of sleep!
The door is filling up with notes, postcards and prayer requests. Today was a smooth day in the office and store, for me anyway. Tonight I skipped the cookout and picked a quart container of wineberries.
Something else happened, but I forget what it was. Thank You for doing things for us without our noticing. These blessed sandals. My hair growing out. J's message... more than I could handle after a cup and a half of coffee. I was jittery when I went back to the office.
I remember. John 11.

"When he heard this, Jesus said, 'This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it....'
'Lord,' Martha said to Jesus, 'if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.'
Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.... I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?'
'Yes, Lord,' she replied, 'I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is come into the world.'

....Then Jesus said, 'Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?' "

-John 11:4, 21-23, 25-27, 40 NIV

Please keep us soft and open and teachable to You.
Help me (be willing to) swim.
Make strength out of our weaknesses.
Protect and establish the tender vitality of the things You are doing in our hearts and minds. Heal us.
Healing can be such long, slow, messy work. It is worth it.

P.S. Thanks for the songs You brought to mind and ear today, including "It's You I Like".

Oh God. Guard us. Guide all our hearts and affections. Help me; I'm not a good listener, even, let alone a wise counselor. Oh, how badly I want to be. Make me, at least, an effective intercessor. Stand in the gap again for me? Give me a whole heart for You.

H   O   M   E.
It's a sensation like climbing up onto land after swimming, or stepping down after an amusement park ride. It took me a bit to get my spacial bearings - I felt too big, or like everything had shrunk (I realized it was, in part, because I was wearing shoes).
I helped Mom cut up apples and zucchini, staying in the main parts of the house and the yard, mostly. My room was dessert (or, shall we say, a black hole? Always things to absorb my attention). I was surprised by the garden(s). Oregano and cilantro gone to crazy seed. Borage flowers mild and delicious. Poppies little winks of red and orange amidst the weedy profusion. I waved to the neighbors. Mom brought me a knife, and I carried in my massive zucchini singing, "The Boar's Head". Dad laughed.
I played piano, and we tucked in to pork, applesauce, and zucchini, finished off with fresh cherries. I ate most of mine while we watched an old classic film. The first movie (non-documentary) I've seen in over a month. It's been about 5 1/2 weeks since I've been home. It is so good. And a little overpowering.
I paused reading a letter, and heard Dad's footsteps thumping up the stairs to bed, and it was like heartbeats, weighty and fleeting. It always is, every day. We miss so many chances.
I want to see them all wrap up in You. I want You to finish all my dreams.
Thank You for protecting Mom on Wednesday, when the radiator failed. Thank You for making her such a steadfast woman, and for caring for her always. For all of us. Help me believe in You, and keep praying. Help me sleep, and wake refreshed and serve You with my entire being, free and true and delighted.

You are brimming with surprises, with veiled blessings.
I want to learn Your ways.
Thank You for keeping me up last night, for making a placid little pool of time in the wee hours for me to copy quotes, buy music, and mix and burn CDs. Without that, I doubt they would have been sent out today. And they are one of the happiest endeavors of the time at home.
Thank You for time to pray, and think, and collect things to bring back. Thank You for stimulating and directing my brain.
Thanks for a tiny nap, for strawberries, for a storm as we picked up hotdogs from Harry's, for the Wild Game dinner and the company if proffered.
Thanks for finally showing me it was time to swim, and making it a welcome, sweet, short experience.

You must never stop. Open wide my mouth, and flow down my throat, gently over lips and teeth.
Help me love You and trust You like a child again, and be ready for everything coming.

I feel like things have hit such a "normal" that they almost aren't worth writing about. But I'll try. There were some small things today...

Rain. A thunderstorm, actually, and it influenced my dream: Mom, Dad, and I were storm chasers, and Mom was throwing glowing blue pills out the vehicle window. When a tornado sucked up a pill, it would burst and the whole funnel would blaze electric blue.
I met J, the Nelson's deliveryman, who makes the Monday delivery.
I videochatted with A. So, so, so good to talk. I love her. I miss her. It is wonderful to have technology, and You, to bind us together. Thanks for the generous time we had. I walked to the office to talk (for the better wifi), singing in the rain in my red poncho, with a mug of tea.
When I came back, R was mixing up frosting, and D's cake was cooling on the hearth. We talked and worked for a while. She is now asleep on the couch.
The store time today was great! You gave me enthusiasm and presence I would not have had on my own. Please make it a week of joy and generosity.
I stayed in and made pancakes for myself this morning. And they were scrumptious. I ate one with A's strawberry jam, one with a melted chocolate truffle.

I need You more than anything ever. I need You to endue me with much strength. And with sleep and healing. And hope. And wisdom, and love. A love that wills and works for the Good. For all. Specifically and intimately and unconditionally.

Please protect and guide the Dem Nat Con.


Today was splendid. Thank You.

This was a long day. Coming up against myself again, and Your backbone inside of me. I'm thankful for Your precision, especially with the timing of everything. I had just enough time in the morning to prep for the store halfway, so when we needed to open early, it was actually feasible. And chaotic, and fun.
My head was so ready for silence and privacy, though, that I wasn't sure how I would survive the rest of the day. I'm still not sure how (or if) I did.
But I'm coming to You now, washed and folded, and wanting to be tucked up into You for a long, dark, quiet time, until I am ready to be used again.
C's visit was a very good thing. 2+ hours with someone who has known me almost half my life. Who has such a beautiful soul. Thank You. Thank You for Mama and Papa, married for 32 years today.

P.S. DayCamp quote from Tuesday: "I already have 'obtain' in my vocabulary; sorry."

I think I remember this feeling. I think it has happened before, at college. At times like this, I would wander off in the woods. I might get lost, and appreciate the way it kickstarted my introversion metabolism and made me hungry for people again. Right now I'm torn. I want real depth and connection, silent understanding, trust. I want no more brushed shoulders. I would rather be alone - alone -  a    l    o    n    e .
I just want to dissolve in Your mouth, pressed against Your tongue. I want to know that everything eating away at me is You, not Your negligence.
You hefted me through the afternoon, prevented my light-headedness from blooming. But I am still tired. Not excited about You. And I want to be. Maybe I don't need to be; maybe I just need to keep looking at Your face. "Eyes looking into eyes looking into eyes." (W. Berry)
Lord, You have given me so much. Don't let it be stolen, don't let it be spoiled. I am spoiled, refresh me.

It's nearly midnight, but I'm glad. Glad for a long, clarifying walk, and time guarding. Hearing about 13 decisions this week, and what You're doing in the A family. Spirit, move without restraint. Soften the hearts of these girls. Protect them; they've been hurt. Heal and open them. And us, here in Lurch. And J, at home. And me.

It's a lot for a heart, this life.
I need Your cherishing & protection.
Guide me, only as You will. Help me TRUST You. Go before us this week.

They were funny night hours, again. Finally slept around 2am. But tonight I'm feeling ready to sleep, and it's scarcely 10:30. I took Benadryl around 9, and painted, and spun. In a skirt, in the living room, listening to "Dream 13: minus even".

Tonight was so sweet. Even with the sickening scare of Dad's hornet encounter. We had fresh air and music. Fresh air, though clingy as silk. Swinging was wine.

     "And though the last lights off the black West went
      Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward springs  - " (Hopkins)

The allergy conversations went pretty smoothly, and I got to talk to lots of people, and hold a tiny, smiley, completely edible baby.
B and A are engaged.
R left, with tears in her eyes, leaving sweet notes behind. S sent me a precious text. T is back for the week.
D uncovered a root of oppression. Lord, break every chain. Like the song said in that baptism video at church this morning, which actually made me emotional. Keep making "a holy fool of me" (mewithoutYou).
Bless this week with every blessing.
Open our hearts.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Lines from July, Part 1

Lord Jesus,
Help my unbelief.
Defeat this darkness. Help me not be so afraid of it - in them, in myself. Seeing that loss of control, that self-destructive madness, that choice (?) to be untethered. I hardly know what to think. My words and my prayers are calm, soft, but my heart is tripping. Forgive me for so quickly judging others. Or for making excuses for them.
Show me, us, truth. Holiness. Wisdom-love, which is not always sanity. Make this night one of peace and security. Protect us.

Thank You for a lovely day, even though I felt numb with compounded emotions, and like a flirt, and like a child. Help me "just keep going. No feeling is final."(Rilke)
You are, Omega.

Yesterday: "Where's the lunch lady with the skirt?"

Thank You that tonight is peaceful. Thank You that T stayed. Thank You that P wanted to sit on my lap. Thank You that J brought snacks.

Thanks for freedom, for blessings, for privilege and education. Thank You for forgiveness and grace. Thank You for R reading "Love Does" and L & L eating plates of bacon, and for J's beautiful dress.

Help me pray boldly, intently, early and late and everywhere in between, alone and with others.
Help me stop doubting. Help me stop hiding. Help me speak out my fears and wounds and bitterness to You.
Thank You for the shattered china vase.
Prince. My Peace.

It's 11:11 and You want me to dance.

"Glory be to God for dappled things", like today.
Roughly 140 bags of popcorn. Conversations with a homesick camper, with T.R.I.B.E. girls (fresh & wonderful, about heaven), with E about justice. Rain and flower gifts and a late night working.
Please keep me ever, only, Yours.
Woo my whole attention, again.
Help me rest, and relish each moment of living. I can't get any of this back.
My awkwardness, my silliness, my beauty, all for You. Whatever strength is left, whatever wit and vitality. Whatever desire - take and transform me. Shape me for You, and help me see it and accept it, and refuse self-pity.
Enlarge us all tonight.
Speak truth and love into our hearts.

My tambourine just fell on my head.
I caught it, and I've been trying to laugh quietly.
"Where morning dawns and evening fades, You call forth songs of joy."
-Psalm 65

I have nothing original to say. This is another Thank You.
Thanks for clarity and concrete statements that help me understand where the girls are coming from. Thank You that I could look at them and say, "You are worthy of love. God made you for love..."
Don't let that brief light in her face be smothered by lies. Speak truth AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN to us, all of us, as we need to hear it and believe it.
I know I do.
JESUS. We need Your wisdom, Your intention, Your Love. On and on...

I'm grateful for a walk, greeting people:
Me: "Good evenin'."
Lady: "Hi, how are you?"
Me: "Doing well, how are you?"
Lady: "Good, thanks."
Me: "Good."
(as I walked on, overheard):
Her Husband: "Who was that?"
Lady: "I don't know. A neighbor.....a nice person."

Let me be dangerously good. To let you feed my soul. Help me mean this, what I give to You and intend for You. Make me free from dependence on the good opinion of others, or on my own personal safety, or on my level of "control".
I want to go where You go.
Thank You for 30 days of Ramadan, and what You are doing in the Muslim world.

7. Army/Navy Day
You redeemed such an awkward start to the day (feeling compromised and angry). This was all in all a beautiful day, because You moved in it. You guided it, You bookended it. Thanks for the long walk, the luxurious waltz, the secrecy and the wide sky. Thanks for reminding my soul where it is, and where it belongs. Thanks for granting safety today in so many potentially disastrous situations. Thanks for the good sportsmanship, the brotherhood, the fun.

Thanks for the ability to give good back massages. For the deliveries coming in perfect time. For the chance to give the kitchen's deliveryman a cup of ice water. Thanks for prayer with B & A, and with T tonight.
And for the camper(s) who came to You this week.
Bring us all closer to Your   h  e  a  r  t .
Please take tomorrow.
Thanks for the camper that called me "Mr.", and all the laughs it elicited.
My beautiful foot callouses are peeling disgustingly.

Show us Your face. Meet my lonely hungry heart.

Many times over the last month I've thought to myself, 'You can always go farther and longer than you think you can.' Picking raisins out of Raisin Bran. Smiling at another human with genuine love. Pushing forward with that last ounce of energy.
But there are times that we push ourselves too far, that God lets us feel our mortality. And it feels like a flashlight without batteries. Or in my case, tonight, like a flashlight with a fritzy connection and a cracked bulb.
Four and a half hours ago I felt like I was losing my mind, I was faint and out of it. Up in the office, with my Gatorade and the A.C. on full blast, I still felt like I was going to lose consciousness, which in the moment felt like dying: I couldn't will myself into being OK, or staying with the world.
It's terrifying. It also starts to matter less and less. One imagines what one's body will look like to the first person to discover it. One feels compelled to tie up loose ends, leave no one in the lurch. And one longs for some calm soothing competent companion, some mother/nurse/lover. One wonders at one's childishness and melodrama.
I cry out to You, God, and Your answer seems to be my continued existence.
I beg You for rest and protection, and You hold me waking and dripping tears like a soggy rag. An Old Rag the Hag. A towel seeping melted Blue Raspberry water ice.
I scan songs, verses, through my mind. I mumble, "Jesus." I pray this all matters for something, these laboring, wasteful hours. I pray over brothers. I cry again. I sense each false mental refuge for the rubber cheese it is.
Holy Spirit, bite sharp and real into me. Sanctify my weary, clingy prayers. If you must persist in cutting me apart, send my 12 pieces as a warning, as a sobering call to repentance.

"Lord, the LORD Almighty,
may those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
may those who seek You
not be put to shame because of me."

"But I pray to you, LORD,
in the time of Your favor;
in your great love, O God,
answer me with your sure salvation..."

-Psalm 69:6,13 NIV

Psalm 71. It was right for this day. A full night's sleep, finally, and I'm feeling more alive. Was able to work, and interact, and paint today. Thanks for a sublime moonlit swing with S. The reminder that this little Lurch IS a home, a place to share. Help us learn from You, and share You, more and more. To follow Your Spirit, to feed the new hearts You have given us. Help me to be brave and patient.
By that I mean... why am I still single?
You are utterly perfect. I DO believe You. I believe Your timing is the most loving, the most skillful, the most wise. Forgive my dismay and ingratitude. Here You've thrown me a party, and I'm criticizing the guest list.
I don't feel much like anything, but please use this matter to make whatever You like.

Please cover us in peace and the knowledge of Your presence tonight. Help us hunger after You, meditate on Your Word, obey it.

Jesus, this is a day to trust Your ability to carry us. We are small and ineffectual on our own, but You are a masterpiece.
You wove today in so many ways: and praise You for J's earring. I got up this morning when I heard A drumming on J's bed and preparing to pull her out. I stayed up and talked with the girls a little, made coffee, and before they left I heard J remark that she'd lost an earring. I caught a glimpse of the one remaining, but the search for the lost one was brief and unsuccessful.
Later, as I set up the store extra early, I saw R come into the Trading Post and offer an earring found in the Dining Hall to one of the Horse DayCamp counselors, with the supposition that it must belong to them. Again, I caught a glimpse, and intercepted the earring with, "I think I may actually know who that belongs to." Sure enough. J was astounded. I told her, "God loves you!" and I think it was perfect timing.

Tonight I got to give several people back massages, pick berries around the Maintenance field, and paint.  Also play with P (see the "white rabbit", "sleep", watch lightening bugs, twirl).
R has a frog, Quintillion, in a trashcan in the kitchen.
S comes tomorrow. You are coming soon.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Lord, I need Your direction... called H tonight, and had a good convo... what's next? Where do You want me? What do I do about wanting to be married? How do I pursue that, appropriately?
Wowza. This week is almost was full. Prayer, deliveries, store talk, all 3 groups, meeting the counselors, painting... keep me freshly juicy on You. Guide me. Steer my heart. Make me true, help me point TOWARD You, not be a distraction from You. Make me a sister and a friend. Teach me how to be a lover.

And so Boy's Camp closes out, not with a bang but... whispering voices in the next room (T and J, talking about You), Miss R outside on her hammock, S home preparing to move. Thank You for this week, this long day, starting with a rush to wake the girls (whose alarm was on mute) and go down and help in the kitchen. It was energizing, actually. But I came back here for breakfast - picked berries and had cereal and coffee.
The store was beautiful today, so prepared, though it took a long time. Never got to mop. At all. This whole week. Oh well!
I watched a bit of the ceremony and saw the video tonight. And painted more. S came up, and we exchanged massages. Apparently we had great rockets tonight; one landed at Traber.
J was crying as dinner wrapped up, I found him outside fighting his tears. Talked a bit, brought him a cup of water and let him be, knowing I couldn't say much else and he probably needed the privacy.

I really need to know You're there. I need You to help me think about You, and eternity. Because right now it makes me frightened and angry. How could You entrust such a critical, precious message to such selfish, arrogant, lazy, stupid messengers? To me?
I am not ready.

I forgot to say... I accepted the job today. This feels so abrupt. I seriously didn't think I'd accept when I called H last night, but so it happened... I'm also quite unused to making these kinds of decisions without at least one conversation with Mom and Dad... that's partly why it feels so risky. But I know they are not You, and You must be my guide, and my adult life must be grounded in Your counsel.
This summer has me feeling funny about my age. It's the perfect age, really: too old, too young (?).
I still hear your voice above all others,
...remember the color you wear and notice
when you enter;
want to be seen
and also want to hide.

J is right that I'm still a brat. Still insecure, thirsty to be queen bee. I can already feel it as Girl's Camp approaches. I'm gathering up my usual comforting achievements and uniquenesses to fight the threat of fresh, godly, attractive, hard-working women. This is very uncomfortable to write, but it is honest.
Pare me down to You, my Savior Lord.

Form tomorrow after Your will.
All of me, forever.