Sunday, February 26, 2012

This kitchen is in my dreams

The beams, open ceiling. Good choice of tile. Bar. Everything except those chairs aren't quite right.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

on Lent

This is a great piece written by pastor Toby Sumpter. I am sharing part of it here in case you don't have time to go read the full thing, but you really SHOULD go read it. :)

"If you plan to fast during Lent, do not kid yourself into thinking that fasting is the same thing as suffering for Jesus. Just because the pastor said that Lent is dangerous doesn’t mean you’re being a great risk taker by abstaining from chocolate or coffee or beer. Do not come up here and take the sign of the cross upon your forehead and pat yourself on the back and say that you have somehow done something courageous for Jesus. The point of abstaining, the point of taking the cross upon your brow, the point of prayer and fasting, the point of all this must be evangelistic, inviting the gospel to fill our lives, our families, our communities. The point is to make time to pray for the lost, to love the lost, to invite the lost and the hurting into our homes, and to share life with the lost and dying in our community. Abstaining from something is not the mark of Christ, but if you give yourself to heart-aching prayer for your neighbors, you have begun to be a disciple. If you plead with an unbelieving loved one to submit to Christ, the word of the Lord is going forth. If you graciously confront your roommate for obvious sin and folly, realizing that you may lose or strain a friendship, you are beginning to be a disciple. If you love your wife like Christ loved the church, and give yourself away for her more and more sacrificially, you are beginning to be a disciple.

And if you fast, let your fasting and prayer be toward particular ends, particular needs, particular hurts, not vague feelings. Fasting does not benefit us. Fasting is a bodily posture. Just as you might kneel or lift your hands in prayer, so too fasting is a posture of humility and urgency. Some of you need to learn to fast and pray. You might dedicate one day a week, one meal a week, you might do it individually, or as a family. But the point is not for a show of piety, the point is not to harness some mystical power. The point is to cry out to God. Peter says that humility is evidenced in casting all our cares upon the God who cares for us. Some of you need to cry out to God because you haven’t been. Some of you need to cry out to God because you’ve been carrying all your cares yourself, because you are weighed down with burdens and stress and fear and unbelief. Use this season of Lent to repent. Set aside time to pray, to pour out your heart to the Lord. And pray it out. Pray until it’s all out. Pray your cares on to the God who cares for you."

Monday, February 20, 2012

We cringe before we wonder

This morning, in the midst of my weariness from a crazy weekend, in the middle of my much-needed cup of coffee, while partially done with a page of math problems with my student, during the sparse white snowfall that contrasted with the sunshine of last week, God sent a moose calf to catch my eye.

I was surprised, but not nearly as surprised as my student. When I tried to point it out to her as it loped slowly across the crest of the hill and further from us, I startled her, and in her the stress from that fright, she wasn't able to attempt seeing it until it was too late. Then she was sad, as I've always been when I've missed an unusual or beautiful sight.

We, all timid and easily frightened children, do things like this. We miss things that we later wish we hadn't, because we were scared. We cringe before we wonder. We falter before we try. We turn away before we taste and see. And so we miss some of the little things, and some of the great things, that are put before us. But how does faith factor into our reactions to these things - these sudden, sharp, frightening, unknown things? How much should we ignore our human weaknesses and hesitancy, and give things a try when we might not feel up to it? This I ponder.

Meanwhile, I am thankful for the unusual or surprising gifts of this day. #278-287

A small black moose ambling from behind the chicken shed and down the hill out of view
That morning cup of coffee, freshly ground and brewed, to interrupt my yawns
Raindrops on my windshield that make the world look shimmery, distorted. And windshield wipers that kind of work
Milking a goat for the first time in 8 or 10 years
A monster cookie, warm and soft
The surprise of a good simile, via Jesse and his commonplace book
Hearing the back door slam open and shut, a roommate's familiar step, when I've been home alone for a long time
Figuring out how to make the iron steam
The blink of facebook chat starting when it's a friend I haven't seen in probably a couple years
The classical music station working all the way to and from work

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Like Salt

Love Like Salt

by Lisel Mueller

It lies in our hands in crystals
too intricate to decipher

It goes into the skillet
without being given a second thought

It spills on the floor so fine
we step all over it

We carry a pinch behind each eyeball

it breaks out on our foreheads

We store it inside our bodies
in secret wineskins

At supper, we pass it around the table
talking of holidays by the sea.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chesterton, Faulkner, Roosevelt

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. - G. K. Chesterton
Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all. - William Faulkner
Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.
- Theodore Roosevelt

264-277 giving thanks
- I have a job. It pays me, it occupies me, it blesses me, it supports me, and it allows me to do some of the same to others in return.
- My grown-up little sister still comes to me to ask for advice and thoughts on her outfits, her hair, her college papers, her life. I love her.
- God's written word lives in my home. Through it, He spoke to me at breakfast, word by word, line by line.
- Tortillas are a wonderful thing.
- Scrabble breaks online with friends hundreds of miles from here
- The old ladies in my Madeleine L'Engle's novel
- Bucer's coffee
- Hearing my sister's voice from the next room as she works
- Classic rock stations on my car radio
- Warm sweaters with sleeves that come half-way over my hands
- A weekend of good movies: the fun and funky, the rough and action-filled
- My faithful pastor and his good words
- Reeses MnMs
- The luxury of leisure time. May I learn to use it more and more profitably.
- Enjoying Moscow Mountain yesterday with friends. This is a beautiful place.
picture by Andreas Leidenfrost

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

fondness for faux-spring

Early February in Idaho. A sky as cloudless as midsummer. The massive snowfall from a couple weeks ago has melted completely off some peoples' yards. Birds are singing.
The sky is light a little longer every day, and the growing daylight makes dinner and other evening activities sneak later and later.
The sun melts down the snowpack a little more every day, and then it freezes up again during the night. The sun falling on your skin says nice things to it, and a step on the bare, dry pavement brings warmth through the soles of your shoes as noticeable as the cold when you cross a patch of leftover snow and ice. When you go to the car, rather than putting gloves on and spending ten minutes scraping frost and wiping fog and warming up the engine, the seat and steering wheel are pleasantly warm.
The birds have been congregating in the bare branches of the trees and swinging across the sky to their own dance music. Their flute-silver child-like voices and their miniature wavering operatic voices and their pastel-soft, twirling voices never stop.

In all its delight, this springtime weather is messy. Where there is no longer snow, there is dead grass and chocolate-colored mud. A forgotten newspaper in its plastic sheath was discovered this morning just beside my front walk where the snow used to cover it. Other trash is likely to be still hidden under our sinking snowbanks and splotchy yard. My car is splashed with the grime of the city streets. The windshield is grey-flecked and smeared. And the entirety of my car is fouled with the various colored and textured poop of the charming birds that have been hanging out in the tree by my parking spot. The top is liberally, if irregularly, splotched. The trunk is lightly decorated. The slight curve of the hood's length is splattered with interesting piles and drops. Looking through the windshield means looking past the off-white and construction-orange and mustard-brown and different greens splashed on there as if it were a clear canvas for a modern-art painter.

Thankful this faux-Spring day for (#254-263):

dry socks
the magic a hose and some soap and a rag can work in the driveway
glass after glass of cool water
cuffed-up jeans
Louis Armstrong, The Temptations (My Girl), Dean Martin, and Bobby Caldwell
the pale grey of dry pavement, smelling almost dusty
turning off the heater and rolling down the windows
the mixture of windchimes and birdsong outside my house
sunshine almost too bright to look at even through the white curtains
realizing that if it snows on this hopeful town, that's ok; we have a couple months until the season really should be here

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Driving in the rain

The highway dark and wet. My lights on high, then dim, as cars careen around corners toward me. Driving rain splacking my windshield a thousand times between each wiper swish, and the wipers on fast. My speed slows on a corner where I can’t see the stripes through the sitting water; the only indicator of the existence of my lane is a vague line where the rumble strip might be, and the reflectors floating a few feet above where the shoulder of the road should be. And the double dark streams in the ruts worn into the pavement. But the black water in those grooves suctions hard at the tires, threatens to tear the wheel out of my hands if I wander into or out of them. As I follow just alongside those dark, curving leeches of water, the wipers wick more droplets away, thin hands that brush off the constant onslaught and allow me to keep moving. I focus on the open air ahead of me. Dark gap, marked only by blackness below and above, by slow-moving roadside reflectors on the right, and fast-moving headlights on the left . Bright lights. Still more blinding reflections that beam towards me on the water sitting on the roadway -- like neon shadows stretching between me and the oncoming car, like wild watercolor paint spills, quivering under the fall of raindrops. The lights burn into my sight like pale blue, yellow-gold or bright white sets of eyes leaking their long reflections between us. They advance like double blares of vibrant music getting sharper and shorter and stronger. I wince to lessen the impact, and tense to the moment I will sail past into the freedom of the open road.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

more music

Listening to Over the Rhine tonight. Some serious talent there. Happy To Be So is particularly sweet and beautiful.