Thursday, December 30, 2010

winter moments

through the ice-sheeted windows

landscapes move by,

frozen watercolor paintings


somewhere a dog is barking

at the early morning silence –

the cold so intense just before dawn

and the world one dark silhouette

to the grey sky

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Brief Poem

In Waves


All night the little whitecaps

of stinging saltwater –

silent laps around your dreams


Then the weary grey morning

and the tide returning –

breathless, blue and cold

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A good kind of review

Doug Wilson reviews Dawn Treader (and tosses in some thoughts on the previous Narnia films at the same time). Grading them fairly according to being adaptations of Lewis, or as 'just movies' is something I've been trying to do myself.

I also appreciated this review from Touchstone magazine, which brought to the light a major theme of Lewis that has been mangled in the movies.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Name Gourmand"

A poem that has some really splendiforous lines!

"...the susurrous

and rattling runs of consonants, the shallow
and broad bellow of vowels, all that music..."

You should read it yourself on Poetry Daily:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pre-writing, or What *AM* I doing after graduation??

One of my professors' assignment was writing a 1250-word paper, due week 7 of our term. But the method meant starting back around week 3: multiple paper drafts, each one written in at least two sittings, printing and proofreading before typing the next one. Confusing? Yes.

The best thing about this plan was stage 1, which we call the Zero Draft. It's seriously the least-intimidating, least-stressful kind of writing on earth: brain-dumping. You don't have to have a thesis statement, an argument, even complete sentences. You just start typing about anything remotely related to the subject, plopping in block quotes from sources, brilliant and idiotic statements from you, questions to self... yes, stream-of-consciousness brain-dump.

Of course, once you've done the gathering-of-stuff, it's time to take up hammer and nails and actually construct something out of the mess of materials. But this pre-decision, pre-building, is not to be underrated: you need it to check inventory: what you have, what you need, what you want, what you like, what is a possibility and what has absolutely no basis for inclusion here.

I'm pretty sure this is time for Zero-Draft inventories regarding my life, and the pages aren't pretty at the moment. I don't have a strong thesis statement yet, but I know I need to eventually: decided, supported, printed up and stapled with a satisfying click. Maybe graduation would make a nice deadline for this plan to be complete. For now, I have a lot of random thoughts, likes, notions, dreams, all bumping around in my noggin, that aren't formed enough for me to pick out of it a direction to go, a blueprint to build on, a paper to write.

But I'm grateful for the time I have for zero-drafts and rough-drafts and red-pen editing of my life's plan. Teach me to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Life is busy. Life is tired. Life is happy. Life is stressful. Life is insane. Life is confusing. Life is God. Life is life.

I've been keeping plenty busy. And for some reason I can only attribute to God's grace, my attitude has been keeping pretty much at an even keel. Of course I have moments like last night around 10pm (when I look at the paper I'm supposed to be writing and scroll up and down it and have no idea what to write on it next and lean back on the couch and let my eyes unfocus as they are wont to do and realize that I am ultimately TIRED and decide I will just go to bed), but mostly, it's been a doable thing, this Living.

Lots is on my mind. Here is some of it in its kind of messy glorious randomness:

-We're reading Bunyan, and discussing things like whether he should be considered one of the greats of English lit, and the theme of sight in his book.
-I like Mat Kearney's music.
-Today one of my classmates told us about the movie The Tempest coming out. I'm not sure what Shakespeare or his diehard fans would think, but I'm excited.
-What passage of Greek should I memorize for my final?
-I really, really, really want to play Balderdash lately. Does anyone have it that I could borrow??
-Lots of people think Milton was unfair to Eve. I think Eve and Adam had the exact same problem in Paradise Lost. Hopefully my paper will prove that.
-I love having new studded snow tires on my car and actually being able to stop at a light and not slide into someone in front of me.
-I lost one of my driving gloves. Yeah, that's annoying. Hopefully someone will run across it at school and I can get it back. It might have fallen down behind the candy machine.
-The other day I went to the dollar store and had way too much fun. I love the cinnamon-apple candle and the pencil-case I now have.
-Wake Awake has been playing in my head today. Beautiful Christmas song!
-Paychecks are awesome.
-Seth T is hilarious. End of story.
-It's just about a month until I go to Montana for Justine's wedding. This makes me very happy.
-The juniors put at least 4 trees up at school (I haven't gone into every room, so maybe more). Nice job! Although I wouldn't say they did better than we did, the Commons tree = fabulous.
-I have two finals for each class I'm taking. ***freak moment*** Okay I'm back. At least that's only 6 this term, plus my thesis being due. Only.
-I have no facebook account right now. I think I'll be back in a few weeks; taking a little hiatus.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Somersaulting and Submission

I wish my back felt flexible enough to make somersaulting fun.
But I'm pretty sure I've never been able to stretch and touch my toes, even as a kid, and don't even try anymore. The last time my sisters watched me attempt it, I was practically hooted out of the room. Apparently my hands reached about to my knees.
It's not that I have a weak or painful back; it's just got almost no curve to the spine. Perhaps it is too rigid and needs a bit of oiling.

My neck could use some help as well. It is sore, and it is stiff. Sometimes I think I can blame it on the scapegoat for everything - studying: all that leaning forward to type at a laptop on the coffee table, carrying a heavy book bag on the right shoulder, and all the jerking awake at painfully sleepy moments.
A massage would be really nice right about now. It's amazing how kind hands can soften stubborn muscles, and firm hands can loosen bound ones.

God, give me strength and submission, contentment and courage. Soften me with your hands, mold me with Your hands, direct me with your hands, support me with Your hands. And turn and return me to that old wonder that is obsession and duty, obedience to Love.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Seven Years Ago

This picture was not taken 7 years ago, but more like 3.

Seven years ago this evening [01/02], I was standing by the bookshelf when my mom called me, and I glanced at the page number of the book in my hands before slipping it back on the shelf to come back to in a few minutes. That didn't happen.

It was a cold day in early December, and Mom was going into labor, which wasn't supposed to happen until the middle of February.

But the next morning, two little persons said hello to the light of day at a hospital in Spokane, and their tiny premature faces with the tubes and wires stuck to them, the skinny legs and the wrinkled toes, began to cheer our lives and mend our hearts. Baby James was given and taken not so long before, and these two new souls in frail pink bodies filled up the emptiness of arms.

Of course, it was a while before we could hold them in our arms, literally. I remember Mom being so happy when she could sit in a rocker in the NICU with them in her arms, albiet still connected to their life-supporting paraphernalia. We made trips in the van, we took turns washing and dressing in yellow hospital gowns, we touched small feet and spoke cooing words and had pictures taken. And six weeks after their rather abrupt arrival, they were released to come home.

These little dudes are going to be 7 tomorrow. They love bacon and sausage and hot dogs, and eggs of all kinds. They like Cars and Toy Story and Narnia, and Planet Earth DVDs. They are as heavy as their big sister, 9 year old Naomi. They have bright blue eyes and buzzed blond hair, and huge toothy smiles. They read short words and write letters to their big sisters away at college and carry the firewood in every day. They ride bicycles and saucer sleds and the miniature horse.

Sometimes it's hard to see them as the same kids who were in those rectangular beds with "Dahlin Baby Boy A" and "Dahlin Baby Boy B" above their heads; the boys who were named Andrew and Peter, for about 5 minutes, then quickly switched to Abel and Seth; the babies who drank such tiny amounts of milk when they first came home,that we had to wake them up to feed them every 1 1/2-2 hours; the jammied babies sleeping in the cradle together; the fat 1-year-olds cruising the living room in their two little walkers.

They are seven. But they also love to ask for a story when I go home, and to sit on my lap and get a back rub. They still ask for the Minotaur story, and for me to read the big book of fairy tales. They still take naps. And they still give spontaneous hugs and ask for piggy back rides. They are our kiddos.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Little" brother turning 18

-I'm still trying to believe he's old enough to drive, and he's out plowing snow in my dad's pickup, earning money for the family.

-The earliest picture I have of him is at about a day old. I'm in an ugly brown and orange fuzzy sweater, he's in a soft blue blanket, and it looks like he's staring up at me.

-I've never seen someone eat as many large piles of pasta or pieces of bread as Jonny. I'm sure he eats 7 or 8 times what I do, but only rarely touches dessert.

-His other great appetite is for books. The first place to look for him if you haven't seen him in a couple hours is up in the library, standing by the bookshelf, perched on the window sill/seat, or on the edge of the desk, a western or a history or a book on planes in his hands.

-We've had a few emergency-room visits over the years, but he's the only one who needed one while still in diapers. Fence staples are not healthy things to teeth on, and especially not good to try and swallow.

Happy birthday to little brother!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Decemberists

I'm not sure how much I like The Decemberists (sometimes a little dark, but definitely some interesting indie-rocky stuff).

I do know I love this song.

Sons and Daughters
When we arrive
Sons and daughters
We'll make our homes on the water
We'll build our walls aluminum
We'll fill our mouths with cinnamon now

These currents pull us
Across the border
Steady your boats, arms to shoulder
Until tides are pulled, hold our grounds
Making this cold harbor now home

Take up your arms
Sons and daughters
We will arise from the bunkers
By land, by sea, by dirigible
We'll leave our tracks untraceable now

When arrive
Sons and daughters
We'll make our lives on the water
We'll build our walls aluminum
We'll fill our mouths with cinnamon

When we arrive
Sons and daughters
We'll make our homes on the water
We'll build our walls aluminum
We'll fill our mouths cinnamon
(When we arrive sons and daughters
We'll make our homes underwater
When we build our walls of aluminum
We'll fill our mouths with cinnamon)

Hear all the bombs fade away...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

7 days, 11 Pictures

Thanksgiving Break
Sunday: baptism of the youngest niece, Miss Evelyn Joy Dahlin (with Pastor Nixon, Matt and Maylene, and Daniel)

Monday: girl's movie & food night, and the day I figured out how to make biscotti

Tuesday: I went to the dentist. No pictures. Ha!

Wednesday: my sis Vicki and her kids came over. Hailey and I painted our nails.

Thursday: gathering at Grandpa and Grandma Smiley's. The house that means happiness.
Also: Devon, my youngest nephew, gained a bunch of new fans
Also: the family's 2 sets of twins on Grandma's stairway. Abel and Seth, Meredith and Madalynn. Yay for cousins!

Friday: I worked on my thesis. Sorry, no pictures of that either. It was mostly tea and Christmas music and my fingers moving as fast as they could.

Saturday: The younger ones took me sledding. Here, Lydia, Seth and Naomi breaking a trail.
Also: snow angels were made.
And Charlie accompanied us
Stowing the sleds for the day

Sunday: we shoveled my car out and made it down the driveway without dying.

It's time to head back to student life: warm study, music, sisters, books, latin.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Practice with Gladness

When I was 5 or 6, it became my job to wash dishes for our family. I remember doing it with my mom, with my big sister Vicki, with my older brother Matt, with my younger brother Luke, and with my little sister Maria. It seemed like I washed dishes for ever, and in reality it was 'my job' until I was about 13, and younger sisters could handle it all by themselves. Sometimes I whined about it, sometimes I cried, sometimes I drug it out for hours and hours, until the next meal was ready to happen, and sometimes I worked as fast as I could so that I could escape the tiny kitchen for the open outdoors. Sometimes I 'had' to soak a difficult dish (or three) and would be called back up from the garden to complete my job.

But there weren't only frustrating moments in the dishwashing industry. If there were huge pans from Sunday's dinner left on the counter until Monday morning with rock-hard food residue in them, there were also the shiny metal scratchers and such hot water from the tap that you could burn yourself. If there were piles of dishes so big that even efficient working left you at the sink until your hands were like raisins and your fingerprints scrubbed off, there was also a sister who would take turns telling stories as the dishrag and the towels swirled and swiped.

And eventually I learned what my dad was trying to teach us in every job we do. Do the work, do it right, do it with a good attitude, do it all the way, and do it efficiently - as to the Lord. And you will be stuck on one chore until you have mastered it; then it will be someone else's turn to learn it.

Some things take longer to master. Sometimes we're stubborn and don't learn our lessons as we should. Sometimes it's a lot harder to find the element of fun in the job that must be done. And there are some jobs that aren't taken away from us after we've mastered them: there isn't always an eager little sister waiting to be taught the delights of dawn dish soap bubbles and the satisfaction of clearing an entire counter of Dahlin family dinner dishes. Sometimes, we master the job, and instead of it being taken away from us just as it gets easier, God lets us keep it for ourselves.

But in everything, gratitude. And as to the Lord and not unto men. He blesses faithfulness and the glad heart.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The easy way is the hard way

Someone in a movie I saw said something to the effect of "What's the use of being almost twenty-[whatever age she was] years old if I still have so much to learn?"

The easy way is the hard way, oftentimes. And I'm not only talking about sin, although that can be part of it. Mostly, not enough wisdom.

Sometimes you just need to listen to other people and quench your natural fix-it tendencies. It's like when you're a kid and you have a fever and feel like you're freezing to death, but your mom puts cool rags on your forehead when you want to huddle by the stove and wrap yourself in comforters. It's like going into a skid on the first icy road of the season and having to remind yourself that putting the brakes on is not going to solve this situation.

Up can look a lot like down, especially when your mind and life are frenetic or full or confused. When you're dizzy, you really can't make very good judgments about which way to lean to correct the tilt of the room.

Another paradox is that your strengths can also be your weaknesses. I am a pretty reserved person, and introvert. I am quiet, (usually) patient, and notice moods and details about life, thinking about things before I speak, pondering the meaning behind words, quick to listen and slow to speak. I don't tend to interrupt, brag, scoff or blurt things that I'll later regret; I would usually rather defer to others than arouse conflict.

But this means that the problems of the introvert are also mine: sometimes we don't speak up when we should, and leave places realizing we should have said more; we notice voice tones and little phrases in conversation and re-hash what was said until we find problems that weren't really there; our professors report that we should share more during recitation discussion (every term); we give way too easily and we avoid argumentative discussions instead of helping in them.

And in times of uncertainty or stress, we pull away from people. It's often an attempt to do what is right, but it's the easy fix. It seems like it would be better to get away from people if you are frustrated, so that your sin affects the least amount of people possible. It seems like if you aren't getting enough done for school, you need to cut out all extra-curricular activities and closet yourself with your books and laptop until everything gets done. It seems like you should keep the problems you have inside of you, because every day has enough trials of its own, and every person has enough of their own, and humans are inadequate to this particular problem of yours anyway.

But we are not supposed to plug through on our own. Even if we could be enough for ourselves, each of us, as George MacDonald said, needs God and every human relationship He has given us. And the easy way (what we think is good for us, i.e., me spending all of my extra moments on thesis because that's what's biggest in my life right now) isn't always what we need.

Friday, end of the school week: I worked serving kids, kids who are from broken and hurting and confused and tangled homes, kids who needed hugs, kids who needed to vent, kids who needed to be corrected and re-corrected. Then I hung with girl friends until 2 in the morning, watching a flick, eating chocolate and cheese, gabbing and laughing. I came home more positive, encouraged and raring for life than when I try to motivate myself with Bible reading alone in a quiet place focusing inwardly.

Our hearts and souls need to be in peace, but we cannot force them to that peace by whipping them up into a lather about our state or our work or our failings. It is in busy, scheduled days that we really enjoy breaks on facebook and 5-minute naps and phone calls from mom; it is in looking outward and serving others that we are made happy; it is in submitting that we are honored and in serving that we lead.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mend my rhyme

Denial, George Herbert

When my devotions could not pierce

Thy silent ears,
Then was my heart broken, as was my verse;
My breast was full of fears
And disorder.

My bent thoughts, like a brittle bow,
Did fly asunder:
Each took his way; some would to pleasures go,
Some to the wars and thunder
Of alarms.

“As good go anywhere,” they say,
“As to benumb
Both knees and heart, in crying night and day,
Come, come, my God, O come!
But no hearing.”

O that thou shouldst give dust a tongue
To cry to thee,
And then not hear it crying! All day long
My heart was in my knee,
But no hearing.

Therefore my soul lay out of sight,
Untuned, unstrung:
My feeble spirit, unable to look right,
Like a nipped blossom, hung

O cheer and tune my heartless breast,
Defer no time;
That so thy favors granting my request,
They and my mind may chime,
And mend my rhyme.

Hopkins' and the Greeks: perfect circles and sin

“The circle image," James Cotter says, "also provided Hopkins with a traditional figure for the triune godhead: ‘The immortals of the eternal ring/ The Utterer, Uttered, Uttering.’ Since only God himself is perfect completion, every finite sphere must show its imperfection of being in asymmetrical form.” (Inscape: the Christology and Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins)

“All the world,” Hopkins says in a journal entry of 1973, “is full of inscape and chance left free to act falls into an order as well as a purpose.”

Cotter again: “God gave things a forward and perpetual motion, but Satan, his counterfeit image and Antichrist, projects a rival spiral... [which] draws toward non-being instead of mounting toward its target of truth... sin is inscape gone awry, a self-centered enthronement of strange gods in one’s own God-likeness.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Literary Notes from Wilson

Just enjoyed a fine article by my pastor.

To get you started: "The brain is not a shoebox that 'gets full' but is rather a muscle that expands its capacity with increased use. The more you know, the more you can know. The more you can do with words, the more you can do."

Read the rest.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thanks, mom and dad

Celebrity couple Paula Yates (British television broadcaster) and Bob Geldof (singer/songwriter) named their children:

Fifi Trixibelle
Peaches Honeyblossom
Little Pixie Frou-Frou
Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily

And I just want to ask, Why?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What are Kingfishers?

Kingfishers are small to medium sized, brightly colored birds in the order Coraciiformes, and are mostly found in the old world and Australia. There are roughly 90 species. All have large heads, long, sharp, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails.
Their diet is a wide range of prey as well as fish. Kingfishers usually hunt from a exposed perch, when a prey item is seen the kingfisher swoops down to snatch it, then returns to the perch. Kingfishers beat larger prey on a perch in order to kill the prey and to dislodge or break protective spines and bones. Having beaten the prey, they manipulate and then swallow it. Yum.

State of Mind

In Paradise Lost, Satan knows that Hell is not only a place: it is also a state of mind. He will take it wherever he goes, and it is not only within him (disturbing and warping all he thinks and sees), but it also alters and destroys what is around him. He brings his own Hell with him, and gives some of that Hell to those he meets.

What is my state of mind? Do I carry some Heaven with me, or a bit of Hell? Is my mind (and my outward flow of thoughts, words and deeds), ringing with the light and truth and righteousness of Life, or is it growing moldy with the slime and sin and envy of Death?

What we think influences how we act and speak. It influences how others act and speak and think because our actions build or tear down those around us. Gratitude is contagious (just as complaining is). Both will spread from little quiet corners and random statements into all of the open spaces of your thoughts and conversations.

And so [if you will pardon the helplessly mixed metaphor - it has been a morning of muddled words] I feel the need to air some of my thoughts today (air my clean laundry? ahaha), so that they can shoot runners out like excited strawberry plants in the spring and begin to take over more ground.

-I love the happiness an Americano coffee brings - $2 for a whole morning of perkiness.

-Did you know that there were snowflakes in the air this morning?

-Yesterday I listened to Mumford and Sons for a couple hours. LOVE THEM.

-Yesterday I also finished all of my reading for the week (barring Greek). This is a very full and hopeful feeling: I can work on Thesis today!

-We do not have to write an SRP (short recitation paper) for tomorrow. Instead we memorize and deliver 12-20 lines of Milton before professor and classmates. Mr. Grieser is awesome.

-I think I've heard this CD of classical music here at Bucer's enough times to know which song comes next.

-Did you know it is 2 weeks + 1 day until Thanksgiving?

-Zoe yogurt (honey flavor) was my breakfast. YUM.

-Mr. Griffith reading the crazy stories in the Apocrypha with us... SO good.
"Demonology isn't an area I'm really strong in."
"You guys are doing a really good job of what Gwen always used to do: ask questions about all the dirtiest parts of the story."
"Angelic bonds. They probably grow white. I mean glow."

Monday, November 8, 2010


Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Life has three categories: things that are, things that were, and some things that have not yet come to pass.


Yesterday I had a Sabbath meal at the Foucachon's. There, us 3 college girls were brought into a home where generosity looked like autumn light coming in the big windows, stories and questions, relaxing music, a French accent, strong espresso, and some wine and food at their table. Flour and butter had been turned into appetizing puffs, a creamy green soup was the best lentil dish I've ever met, fresh-venison stew anchored the meal, and I had my first taste of creme brulee. Thank God for rest.


Yesterday is already sown and grown; tomorrow's weather is not yet revealed; today we are in the fields with strong hands and a warm sun on us.


Today I woke up at 6. Shower, breakfast, makeup, pack lunch and book bag, and off to scrape the windshield on the car to drive to school. Our Latin mid-term was this morning, followed by finishing up an assignment for Paradise Lost (successful, although it's possible that I translated into English something even crazier than was written there in the Latin, and I'm not sure I did justice to John Milton's poem by reading the last 40 pages in 20 minutes). Class, home, work, dinner, cleanup, studies: Thank God for work.


We do not know what may come tomorrow or next week or a year from now. Ours is only to decide what to do with the time we have been given.


I have plans for tomorrow, and they are all reasonable and decent ones: finish Greek homework, write on my zero-draft paper, accelerate on thesis work. And I know what I'll be working on in the next 6 or 7 months. I have very few plans past that, but I trust that the structured chaos of today's work and the good strengthening of yesterday's rest will repeat itself many times over before then, and prepare me for that kinda big tomorrow. And I thank God for hope.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

To make myself get to work

Work while you have the light. You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you.

- Henri-Frederic Amiel

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Colors Deep and Blinding

You have plowed deep furrows on my back.
I am drenched in the waters of affliction.

How small, sometimes, our own troubles turn out to be. My own valleys shrink to the size of runoff ditches in comparison with chasms as wide and rough as the Grand Canyon.

Life in this world is huge and impossibly strong and unfathomable sometimes. It can be beautiful, but it can take the breath in another way, leaving my eyes swollen and my heart moving slow and heavy as a sledgehammer and my throat tight. This world pulses with reds of joy and of pain deeper than any red I have known; it thrums with white ache as unstoppable as moon-tides. It dizzies with blue cold, darkening the deeper it takes you. It blinds you with piercing sunlight, hot and searing. It bruises all flesh with purple marks.

My friends just lost a child. Another child. They now have seven small saints in glory, seven faces that were only visible to us in the magic window we call ultrasound for a very short time.

Sorrow isn't the right sort of word for this. Grief may be. Great loss returning again, retching pain, tearing of life from life, hope hidden for the moment, weariness and doubt. Grief is wracking them in body, soul, mind, home and heart. And I see the mess of color on this canvas, and wonder why. I feel the very edge of their confusion and pain, the sense of being ignored or miscared for, of being told no so harshly, yet again. What is God doing here?

One day, we trust, we will see this picture from another perspective, and the wild mingling of sharp colors and the dark lines like furrows across it will make sense and even be beautiful. But I'm not sure how to see that now. The red is too strong and the furrows are too deep. I have no words to smooth or salve or synthesize it all, only words to cry to heaven for that peace which passes understanding.

Hosanna: thank you, Lord, for this child. Cover also these other helpless children with Your wings.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Waver Not

The dreary cloud-cover, obscuring the light of the sun, will scatter bits of diamond-lattice everywhere.

The dead-looking bare branches of the trees will soften, bulge and sprout new leaves in the spring.

The dry stubble and clay soil of these hills will be softened with rain and sun, and bear good green fruit once again.

And likewise God will bless your heart and your hands, how you live and love, and whatever you do with all your might. He is the renewer of life, the purifier whiter than snow, the fire that purges the dross away; He is the One who can turn bitter sweet and crooked straight. He is the life that is stronger than the death that threatens and lies, constrains, suffocates, and presses down, wars against you and wears you down.

Trust and waver not, since He is for you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fall & Food

This poster makes me happy.

And so does this poem:

To Autumn
William Blake

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou mayest rest
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hosanna: Prayer to the Trinity

For Melissa and Steven's baby.

Hosanna: Prayer to the Trinity

Giver of glory and victory,
granter of gratias, father God,

Creator of caelum et terram,
covenant cutter and cross't Christ,

Paraclete of peace and spes,
promised solace, poured out Spirit,

Make your mercy to be remembered.
Hosanna: Salva, Deus.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Strong enough for monotony

"Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.

But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.

It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we."

G. K. Chesterton


after knowing the sun

all of the stars would not be enough

for all of the sky

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kitchens more Cozy

So I think the huge French kitchen was a little unreal. These two are a little more warm and comfortable, places sisters might gather around you as you cook and there might be some folksy music playing and you wouldn't feel weird going around sock-footed and with your hair a mess on a normal Saturday.

(In Everything) Dans Gratias

Pastor Wilson preached on Psalm 57 this morning, and once again I have been convicted and encouraged.

I want to better know how to give thanks. I want to know how to awaken my glory in praising God, and how to awaken the dawn of His mercy. How to see the shadows I am in as not only the cave of my trials but also as the covering of His care. How to give thanks in all things, not only when things are kind of going as I would prefer.

We'd really prefer life without trials. We'd rather not face pain, hunger, cold and loss; I'd rather not know what it feels like to have the stomach flu, get an exam back with red marks all over it, stub my toe on the doorjamb, or have a disagreement with someone that I can't resolve; I'd rather not have broken bones or broke dreams or a broken pocketbook. Knowing troubles isn't easy. It isn't pleasant.

But this is what I was born to, like every other human being on the face of the planet and like every spark that bursts from the wood in the fire. Our task is not to avoid all pain and problems in life, but to give thanks when they come to us, and to expect the coming of the dawn.

Can I give thanks for the good and the rough? Beautiful leaves, hot chai, and having to buy another tank of gas soon. Bread and wine, visit from friends, and being mostly uncertain about the future. Bacon breakfast, Kansas in the afternoon, and nightmares. Emails from little sisters, Taboo, and all those words I need to memorize for tomorrow's class. Finding my bag of winter clothes, keeping up on classes last week, and falling behind in sleep.

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Amazing French Kitchen

I'll take this, thank you very much. I'll just walk down to the market every day for my fresh meats and bundles of veggies and cook all day long.

Friday, October 22, 2010

George sounds like David

Ah my dear angry Lord,
Since thou dost love, yet strike;
Cast down, yet help afford;
Sure I will do the like.
I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve:
And all my soul-sweet days
I will lament, and love.
-George Herbert

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Go West

Beautiful fall afternoon back in ye olde stomping grounds with my sister Vicki and her horses. 10/16/10

Comfy saddle I used. I sold mine a few months ago.

My mom's White's Boots (boot company my grandpa used to president, and where Mom and her brothers used to worked).


Today I used an adverb I hadn't used in probably 6 or 7 years. And it came out so easily that I sat and admired it for a minute and wondered why I'd neglected it for so long. It was French, the language I studied for about a year in high school.

Three days ago I started taking Latin again. It's a good year and a half since I took Aesop's with Mr. Griffith, and it's obvious I haven't done a whole lot since then. It has been sneaking away, one little verb ending at a time, and I find that I need to start scouring the countryside to re-collect everything I once owned.

Tonight I need to translate Numbers 1:1-21 from the Greek. It sounds fabulous to be doing both Latin Vulgate and Greek Septuagint - reading and translating Scripture for homework. This is a beautiful kind of work, and I just want every word that I note and look up to be written in my mind with an iron pen and lead forever.

I want to know all of these languages well. I want to keep a journal like Gerard Manley Hopkins of words and their origins and even make up a few of my own; I want to choose the word I say because little strings connecting it to other words tug and ease and twist and tease it to mean exactly the right thing. I want to savor their long vowels and roll their R's and dwell on the silent letters hanging off the ends of the French words. I want to eat these words and let their shapes change me as they enter me. I want language, like food, to not be merely fuel for energy and efficiency but something that alters, shapes and remains with me, and those I share my words with. I want words for the Eschaton.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Benjamin's Tribe: GOD'S HOSPITALITY: "The hospitality of the Lord Jesus for us is a home filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread and a feast for all senses. He makes a fuss..."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Linoleum is nice

Of course I don’t mean it’s nice in the same way polished hardwood is nice, or even in the way rock tile is nice. But it earns a bit of appreciation, maybe even respect, in the course of a long afternoon including 30 children, a handful of grownups and a small but very excited dog, a sliding glass door left standing open and another door turning on its hinges like a lazy man or an insomniac turning on his bed.

Occasion: Sunday. Date: mid-October, when standing in the shade is frigidus but keeping busy in the sun feels like summer again; the grass still green, and the mud minimal. Menu: a pig roasted in a pit in the ground. Expectations and Appetites: high and rising.

If you haven't noticed yet, things don’t always happen as they should. A pig shot and bled, relieved of its innards which are replaced by 20 pounds of vegetables, can come out of a fire pit only about ½ as raw as it was 24 hours ago. It might look disturbingly close to alive but with a large incision down its middle ready to spill potatoes and carrots, and with a shriveled apple in its mouth. It just might.

It is what we do with these moments that decides what kind of memorable our Sabbath feast is.

Large butcher knives came out. Big hunks of hams (still legged) were stuck in a hot oven. Long loin roasts were laid on the grill outside. Sizzling happened for an hour or more while the men continued to rid the carcass of meat. Children eventually stopped standing at elbow-distance and dispersed to play in the chicken yard and let about half of the hens out, hold babies, whack each other with shovels, and coax a bonfire into life. Everyone pressed cider. Snacks held off the grumpies. The door swung, and boot-, sandal- and converse-covered feet tread and re-tread the way from the patio to the snack table to the kitchen sink to the other door and out again.

By four PM lunch had happened. I'll skip over the fabulous salad generously studded with blue cheese and craisins, the stuffed potatoes, the fruit bowl, the hummus and crackers and cantaloupe, the three scrumptious desserts, and just mention the pork – hot and fresh, a bowl of cubes chopped for the toddlers, plates of thin slices just done, piles of it still there after the dessert platters were reduced to crumb-holders. The kids kept cycling through the kitchen (and the adults weren’t much better), snagging a slice with their fingers and tooling off to the bonfire or the slide or the hay shed again.

It wasn’t until the sweeping-up happened that I wondered if it was possible for what was brought into the house by the feet to equal the amount of meat consumed. During the mopping (somewhere around switching the mop-end out because it was no longer the correct color), I stopped and looked over at the living room, comfortably carpeted in greyish shag, then back at the mop. Linoleum is awesome. No question about it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lately Happening, & Sister Photoshoot

"fly, fly, fly
the leaves are leaving the branch
cold are the winds
winter is coming"
Abbi, Maria, Naomi and Emili by our neighbor's old barn.
Laura and I posing by the barn. Were we supposed to look dreamy?? I don't remember.

Some yarn for some special projects! :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reshaping the World

Reshaping the World

for mom

Those hands can bring cheese-curds from warm milk,

rocking horses out of straight pieces of birch-wood,

and strong yellow notes from a cold brass trumpet.

I have watched those hands

turn silver knitting needles through fine white thread

night by night until it became a lace table covering,

watched them swirl dark lead into smooth lines of cursive,

and fold over tiny fingers just learning to shape letters.

They have patted small backs and given comfort

with the rhythm of rocker and song and heartbeat,

and have brushed back the hair from flu-sticky faces,

administering water and clean rags and pepto-bismol.

I’ve seen those fingers curve around long screwdrivers

and heavy-headed hammers and sharp splitting-mauls

and cross-shaped tire wrenches, wielding them well;

seen them twist and form fishbone braids,

and loaves of dark wheat bread on the table,

and thick fir branches into a Christmas circle.

They’ve been splashed and spattered with blood,

I’ve seen those hands torn by barbed-wire,

seen her knuckles scraped helping Dad under the hood,

seen her skin crack in the dry, bitter cold of January.

I have watched those hands move to marvel and give again

when the newborn baby was set at her side

after a night-long labor, never flinching from the stain

of dark red that is life.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Despair Not

"No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one's temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us: it is the very sign of His presence."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

my psalm of petition

Your eyes see further

and Your way is beyond me.

I stumble down my path

because I do not yet walk by sight

and fumble in the darkness.

When will You lead Me

and show me Your plans?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday and Monday update

Sunday was full of family, worship and feasting, taking pictures in the park, having tasty drinks together, receiving prayer and losing stress. Late at night, sisters and a good friend to snack and laugh and look over thesis with.

Monday, God's goodness didn't go anywhere. Praise Him for bringing my thesis defense, for making the way (mostly) smooth, and for giving so much relaxing and coffee afterwards.

Now it's off to finals-prep, and I believe He will be there for each of those days as well, For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. (Ps. 84:11)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Keeping Sabbath

"Sabbath keeping is a publicly enacted sign of our trust that God keeps the world, therefore we do not have to. God welcomes our labors, but our contributions to the world have their limits. If even God trusted creation enough to be confident that the world would continue while God rested, so should we." -William Willimon

Friday, October 1, 2010

My Muse

As Kingfishers Catch Fire


As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;

As tumbled over rim in roundy wells

Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's

Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;

Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:

Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;

Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,

Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;

Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;

Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —

Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,

Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his

To the Father through the features of men's faces.

Monday, September 27, 2010

encouragement for the ride

"Your life is short, your duties many, your assistance great, and your reward sure; therefore faint not, hold on and hold up, in ways of well-doing, and heaven shall make amends for all."
Thomas Brooks

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jack Johnson is so good

Middle Man. You should listen to it. Nice bass guitar opening. Good rhythm. And lyrics.

...well I know some people they got a little less than nothing
but still find some to spare
and other people got more than they could use
but they don't share
and some people got problems man
they got awful complications
other people got perfect situations
with no provocation

but don't we all, don't we just got to give a little time
maybe give a friend a call instead of making him confused...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Father of Lights

Today is a day to be grateful for the little things.

pumpkin spice latte
windshield wipers
the bank
ice water
emails from mom
high heels
Mr. Schwandt

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I underlined the verse in the first chapter of Joshua, years ago: "Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with you wherever you go. " God's people are preparing to enter into the promised land when they receive this command and blessing; they are going on a venture.

Adventuring (ad=to/toward, venire=to go) is when we need good courage. What the children of Israel were going toward was something ultimately good; something promised by God, a land of milk and honey, a place for their families to dwell. But it was also the unknown, and it was a land of strangers and enemies, and it was a place they would have to tear down and re-build. It would take much work. It was daunting.

Life is a lot. It is a lot of good and a lot of work. Even the things that we know are good, and that we know we should do, do not in themselves inspire us to great actions and bravery and persistence in them. Life is also a lot of unknown. There are giants. There will be battles. There are places we know God wants us to go, which contain things that we know nothing of.

This week is my adventure. The land seems vast; the giants sound large; the fruit and honey and milk sound good but not very attainable and frankly sometimes only some of them sound very tasty. I don't have a lot of confidence right now in myself and what I can accomplish. I don't even have a lot in the people around me.

In Psalm 31:24 we are encouraged, "Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord." What is the progression of this? We are to be of good courage (command), and He shall strengthen our heart (result of that courage), and the command is given to the hoping-in-the-Lord (state of being). As God's people, we know He will give us 'a hope and a future' but getting that strength in our hearts doesn't automatically happen. It looks like we are to exercise our faith in order to grow more of it, or in order for it to get from our heads to our hearts. He does great works for us, we trust and have courage, and He does further good things for us.

I need confidence - to do "with faith" - this week. I know that if I don't, things will just spiral downwards. I guess I tend to wish He would do all of the strengthening before I have to put myself on the line and obey with courage and faith. I know (head knowledge) that He is with me wherever I go, and I know that the people I lean on are supportive of me; but I want tangible, tastable signs of it. I want the signs that He puts into the world, that people (His instruments) bring.

I want worded signs: words that smile, words that give health to the bones, words that bring life, words that feed and water and nurture. I want tactile signs: touch of strength, touch of sympathy, touch of leadership, touch of friendship. I want mirrored signs: faces that give Christ to me by their countenance, and that give themselves, and that receive me, with expressions that change, eyes that crinkle and mouths that burst with laughter, and even words that slice with strong corrective medicine. I want these signs today.

Sometimes I wish I weren't so dependent on other parts of humanity. We are all too imperfect for one another to lean on. And I wish I had more courage for the stepping out there and knowing you're doing the right thing; stepping out without worrying that you're still a few steps up and are going to drop to a hard and unpleasant bump; stepping out and knowing that someone will catch you when you mess up and trip 5 steps into the dance.

God is worthy of that hope, that courage. O soul, that is enough. Adventure. Step. Fide. He is there.

Monday, September 13, 2010

One Anothering

‎"A true friend will be a ferocious enemy to *your* sin as well as to his own.

Instead of a flatterer, we need someone who encourages, someone who loves us and speaks the plain truth to us, willing to give earnest encouragement if we are downcast, and faithful rebuke if we are in sin. He stirs others up by the example of his own godliness and integrity. His desire after Christ provokes others to desire His glory more."

Steve Wilkins via Ben Alexander (

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Maria, Becki and I on Friday, after having class pictures done. David K took our picture - many thanks to him and his beautiful camera.
I love having sisters. And I love that two of them live in the same town I do. God is good to me.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ingrid Michaelson- The Way I Am

If you were falling, then I would catch you
You need a light, I'd find a match

Cuz I love the way you say good morning
And you take me the way I am

If you are chilly, here take my sweater
Your head is aching; I'll make it better

Cuz I love the way you call me baby
And you take me the way I am

I'd buy you Rogaine when you start losing all your hair
Sew on patches to all you tear

Cuz I love you more than I could ever promise
And you take me the way I am
You take me the way I am
You take me the way I am

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wanting to Quilt again!

Looking through albums I found this picture of probably my favorite quilt I've ever made. It's packed away for a Someday because I don't think I want to give it to anyone else... so selfish. :)
Seeing it has given me a sudden desire to discover and match up and piece small bits of fabric into something orderly and attractive. Sigh.
Maybe over Fall Break.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Toby Sumpter's message on Weirdness

Yesterday at CRF Pastor Toby Sumpter exhorted us (stepped on our toes and jabbed at our eyeballs) with a clarity, conviction and encouragement that has me going over it again today. The talk was called Dealing With Weirdos but( could have also been titled something like Thankfulness, or Unity).

The next best thing to hearing it with all the life (eye contact, humor, kindness) of good speaking, would be reading it. So here you go.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Was Hopkins successful?

“I am sweetly soothed by your saying that you could make any one understand my poem by reciting it well. That is what I always hoped, thought and said; it is my precise aim.” Gerard Manley Hopkins, letter to Everard Hopkins Nov 5 1885

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Inadequate Gardener

The thing that I told myself shouldn't happen is happening. And it took only a week and a half to get to this point. I am letting myself get behind on things, and from the look of things if I don't step on it and get back into gear I will be in the dust the rest of the term. Things are inconveniently being added to classes here and there (Lewis class now has a 3-5,000 word term paper, Greek now has a research/writing assignment of 3 pages PLUS I just realized it has a quiz every class period), and for some reason reading two Shakespeare plays for recitation is overwhelming.

I am inadequate.

That is to put it simply.

There are other ways to put it: I am tired some nights and unable to make sense of my readings, so it's simply better to go to bed; sometimes I just can't focus because of surroundings or my own distracted mind; Shakespeare is slow reading and that's too much for the end of the week; my computer died on me twice today and interrupted my progress; I have chores and errands to do and they take me away; 3 classes plus thesis is a lot of work.

But most basically, I am imperfect, and temptations to sin often come up like a crop of weeds in the garden - all at once. They often do so when the gardener is already being plagued by other problems that are NOT weeds (irrigation problems, deer disrespecting the fence, potato bugs taking over everything), for instance the previous paragraph. The weeds take advantage of any distraction or difficulty of the gardener, sucking all the juice and all the joy away from what is needing to produce fruit, and wrapping their arms around the plants and stealing the light of the sun that those plants need.

I am really not adequate to take care of this plot of ground myself.

It's a good thing there is a better Husbandman in charge, and that He is able to root out the weeds that threaten to drive me to despair and also to restore the dark green of health to all the rows of things I am attempting to produce. He provides me with the tools to dig out the bad and to tend the good, and lowers Himself to soil His hands for my sake. Not only does He expose the sins to wither and fade and be forgotten completely; He enables me to bring many fruits of living color and glorious goodness out of a place that once seemed so entangled and parched that it should be a haunt for jackals and wild asses.

He restores the years the locusts have eaten, and He restores the hours that all death-fear and sin and darkness of heart have taken.

1Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

2Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

3Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;

4Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

5Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

6The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

7He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.

8The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

9He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.

10He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

11For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

12As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

14For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

Psalm 103