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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5H8DwJI0uA

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.