Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Beware! The engagement bug is going around. Two out of nine from the house have caught it. Who will be next? Sara H.? Sara. N? Jess? I can assure you it won't be me.

I have nothing but happiness for you Megan and Sam, Laura and Ryan!
(except for maybe a bit of jealousy...)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wash Me And I Shall Be Whiter Than Snow

As I walked to work this morning, I became suddenly aware of how black everything had become. I was blessed with two days of snowfall upon my arrival in January and although I know it has been occurring over two months, I was surprised by the coal dust that had settled everywhere, ruining the purity of this blanket of white.

Reflective thoughts led me to then compare my own life to a snowfall. The daily dirt that enters my life is not seen immediately. It is only when many days and months of such filth collect that I begin to notice the dingy color of my soul. I am thankful and grateful and awed when a new coat of snow arrives, transforming my world and my soul into a sparkling purity again. Why, then, am I not concerned with the potential pollutants? Why have I not done everything possible to keep out the coal; to identify and destroy each piece of dirt that attempts to ruin this clean canvas? Is it out of laziness and the trust that there will always be another snowstorm?

What if the weatherman refused to forecast a renewal through snow for any city who did not use all their efforts to preserve the snow given to them? What if He was so smart that he could tell which citizens gave all their efforts in destroying the dirt (even if they mistakingly let some taint their lawns), and which people pretended to care? What if He even knew about the people who swept more dirt into their neighbor's yards so as to make their own gray snow seem whiter? If our motives and actions concerning such tainting dirt mattered, would we be more concerned, would we then pay attention?

Remembering the Whiteness

Where do YOU shower?

A co-worker asked me yesterday, "Where do you shower?"

I responded with slight confusion, "In my apartment bathroom."

She seemed dissatisfied and continued to tell me, "You can go to another building, you know."

An even greater confusion over took me as I wanted to scream, "Why in the world would I walk to another building, carrying all my shower necessities with me, to shower amongst potential dirt not of my own, along side other potential shower users, when I have a perfectly private and clean shower five feet from my warm bed!?!"

Instead, after a period of uncomfortable silence, I chose to respond with, "Well, I do have a water heater."

Annoyed that I couldn't understand the benefits of her shower oasis, she dropped the subject with a final word, "We can go together some day soon."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Peace like a speed bump?

Despite the road of rocks which remains a reality, there is peace in a decision well made.


Do you ever have those moments when you're completely happy; only to be disrupted by a foreshadowing doom. Pay attention to the warning.

I came prepared for so many struggles, being halfway around the world from everyone I care about and love. But until now, things have come with ease. I have enjoyed my time here, and still felt connected with life at home.

Now there is pain. Now I am struggling.

Perhaps I am meant to sever ties completely for then I may learn more. Perhaps the sacrifice I was debating on for lent will come in the form of electronic communication. Or, perhaps I am just meant to learn to lean on Him for comfort, friendship and security rather than others back home.

Either way, things have definitely changed.

Friday, February 23, 2007

1500 Pictures: You Thought I Exaggerated?

Nature Walk

The Beauty of Creation

Standing in Awe
(or out of exhaustion)

The river's not frozen?
Is it not cold enough!?

J: "I have many enemies!"

Winter Camp: Session One
January 24-30, 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Woe Is Winter

It was the kindest kind of rain that fell. Soft and then a little heavier, helping along what had already fallen into the hard-pan earth until it rained, steady as a good friend who walks beside you, not getting in your way, staying with you through a hard time.

And because the rain came so patient and slow at first, and built up strength as the earth remembered how to yield, instead of washing off, the water slid in, into the dying ground and softened its stubborn pride, and eased it back toward life.

And then, just when we thought it would end, after three such gentle days, the rain came slamming down, tons of it, soaking into the ready earth, to the primed and greedy earth, and soaking deep.

~Out of the Dust

The earth in summer is brimming with beauty, beauty of such magnificence and variety and unembarrassed lavishness, ripe beauty, lush beauty, beauty given to us with such generosity and abundance it is almost scandalous.

The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.
~Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

On the anvil of August, the city lay paralyzed, stunned into stupidity by the heat. The sidewalks shrank under the sun. It was a landscape of total surrender. The air was chlorinated, thick and hostile, like the atmosphere of a dead planet.
~White Oleander


Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms, their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
~John Muir


Where is the beauty of winter written? As I rummaged through a list of quotes pillaged away on my precious computer, I began noticing a trend. I could categorize many of the quotes thematically under 'seasons.' However, as I began to then compare those such quotes, I realized that a season was missing! There were no poetic words about winter! Granted, I haven't done a google search yet, and I'm not daring to propose that no quotes or poetry exist on this frigid topic. However, I do find it interesting that I have not one quote on a season that I may be perpetually stuck in for half a year.

So what does one do when they're sick of the cold? Or sick from the cold? What can be done when all seasons seem frozen forever in winter? As Pollyanna would recommend, look for something to be glad over. No mosquitoes! No irritating pollen! No worrying about loosing those extra Christmas pounds to fit into that swimsuit! It may even help to laugh over winter's woes. Thanks, mom.

Pond Scum

Taken from the movie My Best Friend's Wedding:

Girl: I'm pond scum. Well, lower actually. I'm like the fungus that feeds on pond scum.
Guy: Lower. The pus that infects the mucus that cruds up the fungus that feeds on the pond scum. On the other hand, thank you for loving me that much, that way. It's pretty flattering.
Girl: Except it makes me fungus.

We should have this conversation more often with God.

Me: I'm pond scum.
God: I am Holy.
Me: Ok, I'm like the fungus that feeds on pond scum.
God: I Am.
Me: The pus that infects the mucus that cruds up the fungus that feeds on the pond scum?
God: I love you. It's pretty gracious, I know, but I think you're unique and I made you in my image.
Me: What part of you is like fungus?

Well, sometimes analogies go too far...

The Sky Is Falling!

For some reason lost to me, it must be stated somewhere that on the morning of February 22nd, every family is to set off just as many fireworks as on Spring Festival Eve. I've been awake since 6 am. And since I didn't get to bed until 1 - 2 am, that leaves me very crabby! Who starts partying at 6 am? Why in the world would you want to set off fireworks when you can't see them!? Do they know I am trying to sleep? It's vacation! Shouldn't they too be over-indulging themselves with an unnecessary abundance of zzzs? When will it end?

At least Sherry and Woody aren't here to feel the wrath of my unhappiness. They have left me alone for 10 days as they travel 12 hours by train to visit a school that has previously supported the camp with many students. Keep them in your thoughts as they travel, build relationships, and work for eternal rewards!

Drudging up Dust from the Depths of Darkness

It takes years of successes and failures
to truly and accurately find one’s voice.
~There Are No Shortcuts

As I remained bored again today I started sifting through my computer's old files. Organizing folders, deleting things and reminiscing over past pearls worthy of my hard drive space started me thinking. How much are our souls like a computer? Although we generally only have a dozen or so priorities demanding our affections (recent documents), we can easily recall old memories, dreams, guys who stole all our attention, and moments of saving grace. But how often do we? How often do we scour our hard drives, searching for an old memory that will shine light on our present? Why are we reluctant to take time to learn from the moments of darkness; to relive the pain so that we can remember and relish in the joy of the healing?

Under twenty thousand tons of brick and stone,
She carries all the weight of her own world,
and somewhere deep inside,
Beneath the cartilage and bone,
Beats the battered heart of one little girl alone.
She is sweet, like sugar,
But she is bitter like the broken sugar pot.
I say that, she could be anything she wants to be,
She only sees what she is not.

I don't like the valleys. I avoid them when I can. But I don't want to forget them. I don't want to hide them either. I want to rejoice with thankfulness that I didn't stay there; in the dust and dark, feeling all alone. Reading old files today reminded me of how I actually felt in the valley, which then filled me with a fresh awe for the Grace given unto me.

Hope is rising…on the wings of the morning
Hope is rising…in the shadows of the night.
Hope is rising…from the hands that have made us
And are holding us tight....

Dusty files from 2004:

We watched as the storm swallowed the light. The sky turned from blue to black, night descended in an instant and the dust was on us. Brown earth rained down from sky.
~Out of the Dust

I am dirt

The wind
a tiny insignificant
lost in a powerful torrent.
But how can I be wind-
when I am going


Perhaps I am a jagged
Stuck In The Ground
yet slowly being
by the
Crashing Waves
Howling Storms.

I long to be dust again
Moldable with a little
water and
Strong caring hands.
A rock can not be molded.
It is
especially when it is
Carvers callously chip
away at it’s crack-
ing sur-
What is left is
But what of that which is

Why can I not just be
still desired
still loved
just me?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

And Just When You Were Thinking I Was Done....

....Ice Skating Pictures!!!

Dreams, Desires & Drives

(In no particular order other than the random stream of thoughts, bunny-holes, and turns my brain took.)

  • Visit all the states in the USA
  • Learn to shoot a rifle
  • Participate in an equestrian competition
  • Learn the art of pottery
  • Finish embroidering the pillowcases I started for my hope chest
  • Learn to play poker
  • Go skydiving
  • Learn to play chess (well)
  • Go rock climbing (in nature rather than REI)
  • Sew a quilt
  • Spoil my grandchildren
  • Participate in an archaeological dig
  • Sing the national anthem (and not just for myself in the shower)
  • Be the world to someone
  • Watch my child's first steps
  • Record a CD with voice and flute
  • Learn to cook well
  • Visit the House on the Rock
  • See the Grand Canyon
  • Tour Europe
  • See the Hall of Mirrors
  • Be awed by a million sunsets
  • Finish the circle quilt before Jess finishes hers
  • Learn to waltz
  • Snowboard in Colorado
  • Learn to jump on a wake board
  • Try surfing
  • Buy a macro lens
  • Spend a summer on a traditional family farm
  • Take a nap in a canoe
  • Have a yard with a hammock in it
  • Learn to play a song on the bagpipes and accordion
  • Buy a brand new car with all the whistles
  • Have a photo published
  • Set up a darkroom in my house
  • Get a henna tattoo to curb my desire for a real one
  • Hike on a glacier
  • Go mountain biking (over actual mountainous terrain)
  • Visit a rain forest
  • Have a mud fight with friends
  • Read through the entire Bible chronologically in three months
  • Learn to like vegetables
  • Renovate an old farmhouse
  • Learn to garden without killing any plants
  • Become a soccer mom
  • Go on a hot air balloon ride
  • Convince my parents that downsizing is good
  • Know the words to more songs than Julie or my Mother
  • Have a maid (if only for a day)
  • Develop the inability to sleep in
  • Learn to carve wood and then make something (a nativity scene? a chair?)
  • Make a ship in a bottle
  • Visit Fes
  • Go skinny-dipping
  • Toilet paper someone
  • Visit an Amish homestead
  • Visit the art museums in Chicago, New York City, Paris and London
  • Watch all the Godfather movies
  • Watch all the Star War movies in one sitting
  • Act somewhere, in something
  • Fly a kite
  • Take an art class with the medium of charcoal
  • Catch and gut a fish (no matter how much I may squeal and squirm)
  • Learn to read bass clef
  • Learn the constellations
  • Turn some heads no matter what age I grow to be
  • Scrapbook all my travels
  • Learn to play the harmonica
  • Understand God's grace
  • See something on Broadway
  • Never be so out of fashion that my children cringe
And since this list is not exhaustive, I'll be sure to keep adding things along the way!

Cabin Fever

I'm bored. So bored that last night I willingly ventured out into the bitter cold just so I could see something other than the four walls of my apartment. Sights did I see. I headed for the downtown area and although everything was closed (and will be for another week or so which is only further contributing to my boredom), all the lights were shining and the Spring Festival decorations were beckoning. So I clicked away until my fingers were too numb to continue. Enjoy the show!

Happy Spring Festival, in the Year of the Pig!

Journy of Prejudices

In doing a little research for a self-initiated project, I found some interesting travel quotes that address the ever-present issue of culture-clashes, racism, and prejudice. I don't have any original thoughts on this collection yet so you'll have to create your own.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
~Marcel Proust

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.
~Maya Angelou

Travel teaches toleration
~Benjamin Disraeli

One of the greatest stumbling blocks to understanding other peoples within or without a particular culture is the tendency to judge others’ behavior by our own standards.
~James Downs

Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
~Mark Twain

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.
~James Michener

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Embracing Questions and the Answers Found

Do you think that so much of the busyness that occurs in our lives is to keep us from asking questions? Is it possible that we intrinsically know that if we ask questions we will inevitably find answers; answers to which we will then have to give a response? And since we've learned that a response eventually must be defended and fought for, are we avoiding creating such a core and consistent frame of mind that would demand we fight; fight for our beliefs and for the answers we hold dear? When did we start to question? When will we stop questioning? When will we allow our questions to turn into convictions that we will stand up for?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Avoiding Real Thoughts

Preparing to go up the sledding hill.

Hold on tight!




And up again...

The top at last!

Down again, this time in pairs...

The more the merrier!


...wipe out!

And when all the tubes
are being used
just find a friend!

Or a shovel....

...or just a slippery coat!

Having fun is hard work!