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

Friday, August 20, 2010

a slice of Lewis

  • The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation. (from Surprised By Joy)

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    Today's music

    She has some beautiful songs, this Natalie Merchant. Yup. She used to be the lead singer for 10,000 Maniacs, but took off on her own in '93
    Listening to right now: Life is Sweet.

    Another singer/songwriter I'm enjoying today is Tracy Chapman, who I first noticed when I heard Change.

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    A Good Place

    This is it: where I am meant to be. These skies are blue, not bronze, and none of my bread has turned out to be stone. The lines have fallen in pleasant places, and continue to fall, weaving tapestries right around me that are going to come out fantastically and beautifully fine. I am in a good place.
    Some of the things I'm particularly grateful for:

    -extra large cookies
    -handyman brothers
    -the stuffy robe I wore this morning for NSA convocation
    -Psalm 98
    -night air
    -conversations at Bucer's
    -stringed instruments
    -smoked/bbq'd ribs
    -Sabbath rest
    -friends who loan me their books
    -little Asaph's kindness in offering his tiny folding chair at the picnic
    -lots of opportunities in life to try again and do better

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    New Dress

    My Tuesday project was this sundress, roughly patterned after a cute dress Becki found at Target. I changed the straps (hers has spaghetti straps) and made the neckline a tad higher. Made from some fabric my grandma had stashed for years.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Two More Days

    I will only be home for two days longer. It's not the end of summer proper, but once school starts it certainly doesn't feel like summer anymore. So... two more days in which to do so much, and then we let go of all the things we somehow think should have made it into life the last couple of months. Here is my (mostly) realistic to-do list for the next 48-ish hours:

    -Talk everyone into one more afternoon/evening at Albeni Cove

    -Spend a few more hours on Hopkins stuff so that I'm a bit more prepared to talk with my advisor

    -Make a new dress

    -Gather class schedules for Maria, Becki and I, plan what time we'll drive to school each morning.

    -Pack clothes

    -Pack books and supplies

    -Clean my car and check the fluids

    -Print off and prepare various NSA documents to bring in on Friday

    -Buy a computer sleeve

    -Clean (w/ canned air) this crazy computer so it might stop overheating

    -Re-send job applications/requests for info, and pray for some work!

    -Don't stress.

    Sunday, August 8, 2010


    For some reason, today's poem from Poetry Daily struck me. So beautiful. I love that it's a

    poem titled life, that it's about rain which is life from heaven, that it's also a love poem, and

    that it's got these awesome little French phrases throughout. I like the grounds/grinds/ground

    repetition. I like the wind sowing its thoughts as rain. I like coffee being beans for our

    morning cup. I really don't know what 'white lies' refers to in the last stanza, but would

    love to hear suggestions.

    La Vie By Aaron Belz

    It rains, il pleut, all over
    my grounds. It blows,
    le vent, the treetops around.

    I love mon papillon
    as she's waking up
    among twisted sheets;

    I love ma belle
    as she grinds beans
    for our morning cup.

    Cher vent, come sow
    your thoughts in the ground.
    Bring us de l'eau,

    coarse trees, fresh streets,
    white lies—old hat
    under these new skies.

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    View from the yard at home

    Hoodoo Mountain, framed by some of our trees, willow bush, and the corner of our lawn. Loverly spot.

    "As if talk were a dance"

    According to Bede, Caedmon, a herdsman at a monastery, would leave the monks celebrating with feasting and song to join the animals, because he had no talent with songs. There, one night, he had a dream or a vision, in which he was given the gift of poetry and told to sing principium creaturarum, "the beginning of created things." He is the earliest-known English poet.


    Denise Levertov

    All others talked as if

    talk were a dance.
    Clodhopper I, with clumsy feet
    would break the gliding ring.
    Early I learned to
    hunch myself
    close by the door:
    then when the talk began
    I’d wipe my
    mouth and wend
    unnoticed back to the barn
    to be with the warm beasts,
    dumb among body sounds
    of the simple ones.
    I’d see by a twist
    of lit rush the motes
    of gold moving
    from shadow to shadow
    slow in the wake
    of deep untroubled sighs.
    The cows
    munched or stirred or were still. I
    was at home and lonely,
    both in good measure. Until
    the sudden angel affrighted me—light effacing
    my feeble beam,
    a forest of torches, feathers of flame, sparks upflying:
    but the cows as before
    were calm, and nothing was burning,
    nothing but I, as that hand of fire
    touched my lips and scorched my tongue
    and pulled my voice
    into the ring of the dance.

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    A good way to eat lettuce

    So, my sister-in-law knows how to make salad into Salad, and eating into a celebration. The counter of toppings was a beautiful sight:

    chicken, fried, chopped
    halved cherry tomatoes
    cucumber slices
    green pepper
    sunflower seeds (salted)
    cheese cubes
    cottage cheese
    dressings (blue cheese, ranch, caesar)

    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    Sticks and Stones

    There are three things that make me frustrated, yea, four that I get pretty darn annoyed about:

    when someone accuses without good reason or evidence (forgetting 2 or 3 witnesses, and that one side always seems right until you hear the other side, and that only God knows the heart and intentions)

    when parents ignore the voices of their children, that might be repetitious or whiny, or before the kid is old enough to speak clear english, or is simply full of too many questions (forgetting that the kingdom of heaven is for people like this, and that they are the source of everything to these 2-and-3ft tall information-sponges, and that communication now matters for communication 10 years from now)

    when parents speak harshly and/or degradingly to their children, because the adult is under stress, the kid needs straitened out, or this is how the adult speaks to everyone and the kid should be used to it (forgetting the gravity of stumbling one of the least of these, and that being named stupid or bratty can become self-fulfilling just as all names can)

    when someone speaks thoughtlessly and cruelly and then acts as though a quick "sorry" or "that's not what I meant" can erase it (forgetting that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, and that we are to be slow to speak for a reason, and that sharp words are like poison that goes down into the innermost parts, and cannot be simply apologized for and coated with sugar to cancel their deadliness)

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    For the Short-Sighted

    Unresolved issues are not unresolved in the mind of God.

    Jeremiah 29:10-14:

    This is what the LORD says: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.

    For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

    Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

    You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

    I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you, declares the LORD, and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.

    Things of Gladitude

    -little brothers who are impressed by pencil-sharpening-with-a-butcher-knife skills

    -a washing machine that doesn't leak (yay repairman!)

    -bare feet on cool tile floor

    -lemon curd


    -vase of roses


    -fly strips

    -Denise Levertov poems


    -Eric Clapton's 'Change The World'

    -enjoying making a dress

    -a mom who can fix all my sewing problems on said dress!

    "Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD." Psalm 144:15