Monday, June 30, 2008

To Behold

I got to spend part of the day with my friend’s (almost) one year old daughter today. While I was giving her a bottle before her afternoon nap, she looked up at me with her big brown eyes and stared at my face. She just kept staring right at me and I felt like everything in the world was okay.

I was okay.

There is just something about children and the way they look at the world with such sincere curiosity. It’s alarmingly comforting to me.

Of course, as they get older those eyes see more and store more and their gaze is not as innocent as it started out. It happens to us all, somewhere in those first few years on this planet.

I don’t really remember what it is like to look at something or someone and simply behold them, like my friends daughter did with me today.

Instead, behind my eyes is often skepticism, self-doubt, mixed motives, fear.

But oh, to see the world as a child does, to accept a person for who they are and not for what they’ve done or haven’t done, to trust without fear, to cry without shame, to eat without worrying about the next meal.
I desire that kind of abandon.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mr. Rogers

Okay, so I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I've lost it. I've been posting mostly about books lately, have used the word wonderful like 3 times in the last week and now I'm posting about Mr. Rogers. Next I'll be posting about what my favorite variety of Daisy's are, right? Well, before you write me and Mr. Rogers off, just give these videos a chance. You have to watch this first one in it's entirety to really feel it, I think. It takes a minute to get used to how slow he talks but I think it's good for us. So If you have 6 minutes and 50 seconds to spare, watch this clip of Fred Rogers defending PBS to the US Senate in 1969.

I mean, there really was something about this man, huh? I never thought I'd be so inspired by Mr. Rogers. I feel especially connected having the same name and sharing a love for sweaters. :) If you have another 6 minutes (it's well worth it, in my opinion) here he is accepting his lifetime acheivement award at the Emmy's in 1997.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I just finished a wonderful book called Gilead by Marylin Robinson. It is quickly climbing my list of favorite books. The book captures the inner monologue of a dying man in a long letter to his young son. It's really beautiful. Here is one of my favorite sections. I don't have children but I just thought this was profound, the way it's said.

"The story of Hagar and Ishmael came to mind while I was praying this morning, and I found a great assurance in it. The story says that it is not only the father a of a child who cares for it’s life, who protects its mother , and it says that even if the mother can’t find a way to provide for it, or herself, provision will be made. At that level it is a story full of comfort. That is how life goes-- we send our children in to the wilderness. Some of them on the day they are born, it seems, for all the help we can give them. Some of them seem to be a kind of wilderness unto themselves. But there must be angels there, too, and springs of water. Even that wilderness, the very habitation of jackals, is the Lord’s. I need to bear this in mind."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nashville Summers

It’s not every day you can take your dog to the symphony. In Nashville there are two days in a year and tonight was one of them. The Nashville symphony plays in Centennial Park a couple nights in the summertime and I was so grateful that it didn’t rain tonight. Oso and I got to the park right before they started playing the theme from Superman. We found a spot near the back of the crowd and I laid down the sheet I brought for us to sit on. My plan was to tire Oso out before things got rolling but I didn’t get there in time to do that so... Oso was extra alert. Luckily, even when he’s excited he’s still pretty chill. So he stood and sat and looked around anxiously, watching the kids playing next to us. One of them had red croc-like shoes that looked like cars and came up to show me how proud he was of them. His version of petting Oso was more of a tapping, but Oso seemed happy for the attention. My favorite song they played was the Olympic Fanfare and Theme by John Williams. I just love that piece of music and every time they use it in Olympic commercials I get so excited! (looking forward to the games this summer) It was great to hear it live.

10 reasons I love Nashville in the Summer
1. symphony in the park
2. Shakespeare in the park
3. movies in the park
4. the flea market (happens all year but is more exciting in the summer)
5. the farmers market, especially when the blackberries are ripe
6. fireworks on friday’s at the Sounds games
7. Sounds games
8. iced coffee drinks. (I know I can get these most places, but I have my favorites here..)
9. The green. It’s very green here. I love it.
10. Summer Concert series... these don’t really happen anymore but I keep hoping they’ll bring em back. Who is they? Who do I need to call?

Add your own town list if you want, or just come visit Nashville in the summer! But not in August if you can avoid it, you’ll melt.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thomas Merton's Wonderful Reminder

A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying Him. It "consents," so to speak, to His creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree.

The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him. If it tried to be like something else which it was never intended to be, it would be less like God and therefore it would give Him less glory.

No two created things are exactly alike. And their individuality is no imperfection. On the contrary, the perfection of each created thing is not merely in its conformity to an abstract type but in it's own individual identity with itself. This particular tree will give glory to God by spreading out its roots in the earth and raising its branches into the air and the light in a way that no other tree before or after it ever did or will do.

-Thomas Merton, From the book New Seeds of Contemplation

*Thanks Alice For quoting this during your teaching the other day. I needed to hear it...

This painting is "An Old Acquaintance" by Megan Lightell

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Life Lessons From Baking #2

#2 Never justify making a recipe that you know you can't resist eating by telling yourself you'll give most of it away. You won't, you'll eat it.

There is only one recipe I've found that is like this for me and I made it today. It's a vanilla wafer- like recipe. It's basically just butter, sugar and vanilla (and eggs and baking powder and salt...) and for whatever reason, every time I make it I end up standing at the counter staring at the tray of cookies saying "just one more" until the tray is almost gone. This results in feeling absolutely gross for the rest of the day. Cookie baking is a hobby of mine, and I can normally get by with a finger-full of dough and 2 cookies fresh out of the oven. I'm fine with sending the rest with my husband to work. But apparently, this vanilla cookie recipe will never make it to Kirk's office.

If I ever make them again.... I'll be sure there are about 10 friends over to witness the moment when they come out of the oven, because I won't make such a fool of myself with all of them watching.

Lesson I learned this afternoon?

If you can't resist the temptation of the cookie, then don't give yourself the opportunity to eat it.

A Path Drawn by Man, Soul-Audio Blog #3

I forgot to put up a link to another Soul-Audio blog that I wrote.

Read about a walk Oso and I took a couple weeks ago. Exciting, I know. But somewhere in there are the words earthquake, spike, and umm.... turtle? Did that make it more interesting or more strange?

Either way, read about it here if you'd like to. I've been impressed by Soul-Audio's content, be sure to check out the rest of their site if you have a chance.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Iowa Disasters

This past thursday I flew in to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, knowing full well that the floods were ravaging the state. Earlier that day I had heard my hometown of Cedar Falls, IA (same river flows through) mentioned on Fox News so I knew it was as bad as everyone was telling me. We drove right through downtown Cedar Rapids and saw familiar buildings like the Five Season Center and the Quaker Oats factory standing in the middle of a river. There were houses whose doorbells were well under water, tops of cars barely showing, childrens toys floating by the tops of street signs. It was a crazy sight to see.

When I planned to come to town this week, I had no idea I would be around witness this.

83 of Iowa's 99 counties have been declared disaster areas.

It's estimated that 20 percent of Iowa grain crops have been claimed by floods.

over 25,000 people in Cedar Rapids alone are displaced from their homes.

Since the beginning of 2008 my home state of Iowa has seen record snow fall, record tornado's and now, record flood waters.

The recovery efforts after a disaster like this will take years.

Please pray for Iowa!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Great Puzzle (thoughts from Maurice Sendak)

I love these quotes from Maurice Sendak that I read today in an American Way Magazine. He is the illustrator of the children's book Where the Wild Things Are, and his work is being exhibited at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia.

On being an illustrator:
"An illustrator, in my own mind... is someone who so falls in love with the writing that he wishes he had written it, and the closest thing he can get is to illustrate it."

On the illustrator’s subversive role:
"The next thing you learn is that you have to find something unique in this book, which perhaps not even the author was entirely aware of. And thats what you hold on to, and that’s what you add to the pictures, a whole other story that you believe in, that you think is there".

On the enigma of creativity:
"That will be the mystery that will haunt me until the day of my death: What is that thing that comes into the work that is not premeditated, that you didn’t think of, that actually belongs there but you don’t know how it got there?"

On the enigma wrapped in that enigma:
"it’s really about the spirit, and I find that hard to talk about because, you know, I’m a cynic. I don’t know from the spirit and yet I do. And that is a great puzzle of my life. ... Something deeper is involved, deeper in myself than I know what it is".

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Iowa Flooding

It's flooding in the midwest right now, as you've probably seen on the news. This includes my hometown of Cedar Falls, IA, where all of my family live. The rain just keeps on coming, and parts of CF are preparing for evacuation.

"According to flood forecasts provided by the National Weather Service, the river level is expected to exceed the top of the flood levy. Sandbagging of the levy area will be taking place soon to protect the downtown area; however, merchants and residents in the downtown area need to prepare for possible evacuation later Tuesday.

Cedar Falls officials are urging downtown residents and merchants to prepare for evacuation by taking all steps necessary to safeguard their property. The area should be closed for business immediately. Cedar Falls police are blocking off downtown area immediately. There will be no one allowed in the area"

Here is a picture of an intersection not far from my parents house-

You may have also heard about the recent tornado in Parkersburg, IA which is about 20 miles from Cedar Falls. The tornado was a mile wide and destroyed most of the town. And now parkersburg is dealing with flooding on top of the damage done by the tornado. Here is a photo of what most of parkersburg looks like-

Lord, I pray you protect the people in the path of these storms and bring new life out of such destruction...

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
2 Corinthians 5:1

Friday, June 6, 2008

Vassar Miller

This week I was introduced to a poet by the name of Vassar Miller. I am falling in love with her poetry and am completely inspired by her.

“A poem is a window that hangs between two or more human beings who otherwise live in darkened rooms.”
-Stephen Dobyns

Oh, I feel that. I think all art is a window.

This beautiful poem of Vassar's is actually the introduction to her collection called If I Could Sleep Deeply Enough,

Introduction to a Poetry Reading

I was born with my mod dress sewn onto my body,
stitched to my flesh,
basted into my bones.
I could never, somehow, take it all off
to wash the radical dirt out.
I even carry my own rock
hard in my mouth,
grinding it out bit by bit.
So, bear me
as I bear you,
high, in the grace of greeting.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

10 years from now

In April I posted a game called 10 years ago. Today I'm gonna do 10 years from now. So here goes!

10 years from now I hope I will have

1. finally read Mere Christianity (I know...can you believe I call myself a Lewis fan? And a Christian?!)
2. learned how to sew. something. anything.
3. children
4. become an awesome piano player!
5. traveled to Asia
6. a better understanding of scripture
7. no debt
8. an herb garden
9. written songs I am proud of
10. learned to love better than I know how today

What about you? Come on, even you Mark. You don't have to do 10 if you don't want. :)

Sunday, June 1, 2008


The thing about owning a house is that weekends now come fully stocked with grass that needs mowing, weeds that need pulling, and other responsibilities that if ignored, would probably end up growing out of control in a kind of way that would defeat the purpose of having a house.

The thing about yard work is that sometimes in the moments when your fingernails are complete with a dirt manicure, your neck is sunburned, and you have stopped caring about the bug crawling across your left forearm, somewhere in there you think about that verse in the bible when God told man he would work the ground (with toil)

The thing about working with the ground is that there are all sorts of parables to be derived from insects that live under rocks and vines that grow over the fence.

Yesterday I noticed that what seems to overtake the established shrubs in our front yard are the small, shallow weeds. They curl up over the branches and leaves and grow like a web around the plant. It happens quietly and subtly, almost gently, like a hug they close in. Some of the ones I pulled last weekend were there again this weekend, taking their place, challenging me for the final word.

If my body is a dwelling of spirit and soul, maybe their needs to be a sabbath day of rest and a sabbath day of weeding.