Monday, November 30, 2009

it's Christmas time in the city

I love the way the city looks right now... whole streets lit up with twinkly lights. Even better than the beautiful, tasteful displays downtown, I love the lights on my street.

Colorful, unexpected, and hard to capture

especially with a camera that barely focuses held by shivering hands... but the option of taking advantage of those conditions always remains...

before I head into my warm abode...

As usual, this Christmas, I'm praying for the coming of the Prince of Peace to the hearts of the people I know and love... and to the hearts of the people I don't know and too often overlook.

If there is to be peace in the world,

There must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,

There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors,

There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,

There must be peace in the heart.

Lao Tzu

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving in retrospect

I spent Thanksgiving at my parents' house. Kelsey woke me by talking through the door and shoving little gift offerings under it. After getting a grunted invitation to enter, she and Lori piled in with me. Dinner was great. Candied yams, turkey, Mom's homemade rolls, pumpkin pie, and everything. My dear dad asked for my keys to "move my car", and returned later informing me he'd washed it. Carol, Lori, Kelsey, and I sprawled out on the living room floor and played Sorry and Candyland.

I love the holidays. The festivities, the traditions.

Holidays also gross me out. In the global scope, our festive meals look like gluttonous orgies. Is bingeing a celebration of thankfulness? In retelling the story of the Pilgrims' arrival, I fear we've made the story into little more than a first triumph of the white man in subjecting this continent and its inhabitants to his greed. Because America was meant to be, was given by God for the purpose of Progress, you understand. (Progress toward what, I've never learned.) Alright, please forgive the sarcasm.

So, what to do?

Could we learn to drop the commercialized facade enough to reclaim the meaning of the holidays? I do believe God wants us to enjoy His creation, but can we do that in moderation, with a focus on helping those less fortunate?

Maybe we also need to learn to tell the right stories, stories that open our children's eyes to the humanity of the people around them... and in history. Stories are shaping to the heart, especially the hearts of children. You might need to dig around a bit until you find flip side stories from those taught in curriculums that extol selfishness to heights of glory, but,
"Remember that history isn't what happened; it is what is remembered... by the victors." -Unknown

I love to see holidays celebrated in ways that bring families truly closer and leave, not the emptiness that follows self-indulgence, but hearts enlarged to contain all of humanity... and the Kingdom brought, the Kingdom of One who looks at the earth and doesn't see boundaries.

With that, I bid you adeiu and proceed to enjoy a long winter's nap... but not before leaving you with the greatest comic I ever did see:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

more sistas

Oh, mercy. I finally have these pictures edited, two months after I took them. I introduced my four youngest sisters in an earlier post and posted Eldon & Rosey's engagement pictures, but I don't think most of you have ever met my only older sister, Abby.
Rosey, Candace, and Abby

A Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

formation of a dream

lucid in her granite robe
which sinks into
prismatic train

cherishing the vital roots
of manifold life
unaware in slumber

sterling lips to
face of soil
both warmed at
their meeting

my heart pulsated
it understood
and dared dream
the untenable

Friday, November 20, 2009

Excuse me, have we met?

While filling shipping orders, I habitually buzz around the store in high gear. None of the aisle intersections are equipped with traffic lights or mirrors. You're left to your own devices (or lack thereof).

At the intersection of Little Barn Noodles and Sugarfree Candies, I came face-to-face with a grizzled man who was moving just as fast as I was.

"Excuse me!" was said simultaneously.

I said it because I had nearly collided with him.

He said it because he had just given utterance to an extended guttural belch.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

[i like my friends]

The girls in my youth group are mad awesome. Goopy herbal hair masks, french pedicures, lots of laughter, reading Tolkien aloud, just being together, figuring out how to spell "awkward" (it's ok, Andrea... any word looks misspelled at 4 a.m.), last weekend was blissful.

The less-than-blissful part was realizing that I hadn't yet recovered from alleged swine flu. So, while I moaned and muttered incoherently, they brought me juice, made me drink water, and rubbed feverish me with a relaxing lotion that felt ah-MA-zing. Like I said, those girls are mad awesome.

Yesterday, a self-proclaimed "odd card" arrived from this thweetie

who never fails to make me laugh, encourage, and challenge me... usually all at once. :)

And, tonight, after IMing with both of these lovelies

I said to myself, said I, "I like my friends."

"God does care for us and watch over us, but it's usually through other people that He meets our needs." -Unknown

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

American Jesus

I saw a picture that made me shudder. Jesus, coming through the clouds, returning to earth. The skirt of His robe was an American flag.

To the precious few of us already sitting pretty enough to gripe about taxes, gas prices, and the economy, this image might make our blood run red, white, and blue. We're convinced that the reign of Jesus will mean abundant riches, final annihilation of terrorists, and great reward for all those who have killed and died for the holy cause of democracy.

To the rest of the world's populace, this image might make their blood turn hot and cold with terror and hatred. To them, the American flag (and the Jesus so closely associated with it) either precedes or follows a wake of tanks, snipers, death, and hunger. The return of Jesus could only mean a final triumph of power, ready to starve the hungry, kill the bleeding, and reward the rich.

I marvel at a God who condescends to be so grossly misrepresented by the ones He loved until death. Don't "normal" gods strike in anger when mere mortals tout lies in their names?

Matthew 5

The Sermon on the Mount; The Beatitudes
 1When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.  2He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
 3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
 5"Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
 6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
 7"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
 8"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
 9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
 10"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 11"Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
 12"Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


she's all of 12
and says she's 14
she's got a fight
at school tomorrow

she says she's not scared
she says she doesn't care
if she gets hurt
is sent to juvy

she doesn't know that
her eyes betray
she's just a little girl
to find security

she wants to know she's heard
and know she's loved
and told she doesn't
to be so strong

i tell her she's too precious
to mess herself up like dat
i know she's
despite ignoring me

she's desperately hungry
God, be WITH her!
keep her closer to
Your heart
than i can, tonight

I first met Sabrina at Lancaster Bible School when she was a frizzy-haired ten-year-old. Anti-social to the other kids, she didn't talk me until I had spent a while pushing her on the swing and looking at the animals. Animals. They were one thing to which she showed affection. She was fiercely protective of the puppy she held, pouncing in anger on the unsuspecting boy who ran with it to put it in its pen. Something about her engraved her on my heart.

A year later, I was sitting in a circle of girls at Kids' Club, teaching a lesson... or, more accurately, trying to harness a galloping conversation... on how much God loves each of us, unconditionally. Sabrina came up the stairs, plopped down as far from the circle as possible, and glared directly ahead, clutching her skinny self with her crossed arms. Wanting to welcome her to clubs, I invited her to join the circle. Her reaction suprised even the other girls. The most flambuoyant fell silent as she, like an erupting volcano, swore and violently relocated. As the talking proceeded, God answered my prayers and granted us His loving Presence. One by one, lights were lit in eyes around the circle as they... GOT it. Sabrina was curled in a fetal position, hugging a pillow. Later, someone found a baby bird that must have fallen from its nest. It was almost dead. I tried to make the bird feel as safe as possible while Sabrina vented her anger on me for not doing more. I so badly wanted to heal it. I so badly wanted to heal her.

Now, a year even later, I am back at clubs. Sabrina is there, thank God. I know there is a reason for both. She's grown into a girl who can work her world. She's so hard, and yet so fragile. Last week, she was planning her fight at school. She was desperate to prove to me that she had her life in control, that she wasn't scared. She knew I knew better. I told her I wasn't going to tell her how to live her life, but that I have friends who live like that... and I don't want to see the same things happen to her. I tried to help her think about the consequences, about how little it would prove, but, more than anything, I wanted her to hear that I cared about her and wanted her to know she was worth too much for that. She pretty much ignored anything she didn't want to hear, but I could tell she was listening. That was a week ago tonight. I don't see her until next week. Maybe I'll stop by her house tomorrow on my way home from work. For some reason, I can't stop thinking about her tonight.

Please, would you pray that Sabrina will know the love of God, the God who isn't intimidated by her anger, but cares for her hurting heart?

Monday, November 9, 2009

lights and shadows

My life is a kaleidoscope of shifting colors and patterns, lights and shadows. I rather enjoy it.

The past weekend, the pattern shifted. I'm still gazing in rapt wonder at the new hues and the complexity of it. I can barely grasp what God is doing in my heart, but it's shifting. Exciting, frightening, invigorating. A wind of refreshing change finds its way, almost unnoticed, through the halls and into chambers. No, I can't articulate (least of all, in public) what is being wrought, but a few snapshots from the weekend might offer an abstract collage:

Sitting at Tim Horton's with Bekah, her dad, and her sister, laughing so hard it's a wonder our food digested.

Reading Tolkien in the artistically stimulating environment of Artist's Cup Cafe while in the wonderful company of Lisa, Lynell, and Joanne. Ah. Friends, books, art, pottery... iced coffee for the soul.

Discussing life, art, and burdens for friends who don't know the King of Love with Tim Kirk, the dear man who hosted my first art show. His heart for people, art, life, and God makes me name him one of my heroes, right up there with Da Vinci, MLK Jr., and Bob Marley. I had been contemplating buying "Alone Again", which would bring the number of the Kirk works in my possession to three. I was speechless when Tim handed "Alone Again" to me. "A gift", he said. The symbolism of that piece, being given as a gift...

Having a catch-up-on-each-other's-lives marathon talk with my former mentoring group. Laughter, tears, celebration, grief, prayers, teasing, and dark chocolate cheesecake make for holy ground. You girls are truly my sisters. I'm humbled and blessed to be part of the Body. Where else is kind of love and loyalty found?

Just BEING with my Faith Builders friends. If you're from FB, and you're reading this, please polish your halo.

Listening to music while driving barefoot for 5.5 hours. It really is a miracle I arrived back in Lancaster City; I kept getting lost in the stars. Orion, my patron constellation, told me to remember things I had almost forgotten. A falling star directly in my line of vision nearly resulted in my driving into the Susquehanna River, which reflected the sedentary ones.

Back in Lancaster City, waiting for the light to change where King Street crosses Duke, I noticed a lump on a bench near the corner. A small person, with their head on a bundle. The only identifiable shape in the coat that hopefully protected them from the cold was a dangling hand that twitched once in sleep.

Lights and shadows call me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

evening reflections

I am always called to worship when I read The Missio Dei Breviary, but this evening's reflections were exceptional. Lots of thoughts, but no time to write them. And now, with my heart recharged, I'm off to teach at Kids' Club this evening. Weehah! :) If you're reading this, pray that Love will be present and touchable to the kids this evening.

Call to Praise
After a time of reflective silence, proclaim:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Psalm 69:1-15
For the director of music. To the tune of “Lilies.” Of David.
Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.

I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.

I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.

Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
what I did not steal.

You, God, know my folly;
my guilt is not hidden from you.

Lord, the LORD Almighty,
may those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me.

For I endure scorn for your sake,
and shame covers my face.

I am a foreigner to my own family,
a stranger to my own mother’s children;

for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.

When I weep and fast,
I must endure scorn;

when I put on sackcloth,
people make sport of me.

Those who sit at the gate mock me,
and I am the song of the drunkards.

But I pray to you, LORD,
in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
answer me with your sure salvation.

Rescue me from the mire,
do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
from the deep waters.

Do not let the floodwaters engulf me
or the depths swallow me up
or the pit close its mouth over me.

Mark 15:16-20
The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
Reflect upon the mockery Jesus received by the soldiers. Though he is King of the Universe, he was mocked by low men. He had the power to vindicate himself, yet did nothing.
Simeon’s Song
Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.

Closing Prayer
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you. Because by your Cross you have redeemed the world. You endured shame so that we might be redeemed.
Father, help us to live openly and humbly before you and one another. Help us to stand in solidarity with the humble—those who feel shame, those who have been brought low, those who are mistreated.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

calves and other stuff i miss

I just might get addicted to hanging out with my friend Miriam at her work. :) I took her pictures this afternoon and then went along to the farm where she works. Feeding calves again was so much fun! I'm still very much a farm girl at heart, I guess. I am entirely impressed with the farm set-up and calf facilities. The calves themselves are too cute to be true. Fine genetics and proper care and nutrition show.

This is the "I'm desperate to suck on something" look.

I happily obliged.

This, my friends, is a perfect dairy specimen. The sawdust on the nose is to be expected. She's just a baby, you must understand.

Whoever said "curiousity killed the cat" must have never known a cow.

 I got to bottle-feed these itty babies.

Is anything more satisfying than watching a whole row of calves eat? Um, they WERE eating.

A perfect Sunday.