Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Art & Lisa [ii]

Lisa is one of those rare people who is completely at home in her own skin. She's always been one of my go-to friends, the kind that you call when you just feel mixed-up and lost and need to be told you're alright. And that you can be comfortable in your skin, too. 

In our five years of being friends, we've talked a mad lot. Identity, self-worth, theology, and the persecuted church. And guys. Shocking, I know. ;) In five years, we've both been asked by guys to whom we couldn't say "yes" and not asked by guys to whom we wouldn't have said "no". I still haven't figured out which is worse, but I know for a fact that Lisa's stuffed bear may have saved my hands a terrible fate. When I'd start pounding the floor, she'd throw me the bear. "Pound him; he's USED to it!" 

Art just is the "big brother" type of guy that would tell me, "You're thinking too hard. Stop it; you're going to hurt yourself." :)

They both care hugely about other people.

Together, they're an amazing couple. Who but Art and Lisa would spend their Valentine's date delivering roses to their single friends? 

Their wedding was just like them.

When Art gave his speech, he said that no person, no couple, is self-made. He said they are grateful for all the people who love them, and we all clapped because we all knew that the same was true about them... that even their wedding day was all about being with the people they love.

Mine was the honor of being candid photographer. Here are a few glimpses:

The church. Lisa liked it because the sanctuary was short and wide. The benches hugged the altar, so everyone could be fairly close to them.

Lisa's family is the close, loyal sort. The grandchildren are universally adored. When Kendall and Ginger arrived at the rehearsal with their mini crowd, this little guy steamed across the floor to Lisa with his arms outstretched like wings.

He must have been able to release her at some point, because here is the same guy with his grandpa who's talking to Art's youngest brother.

Their new Uncle Art is somewhat of a natural himself.

This shot is blurry because I tried to shoot without flash, but I love it. During the prayer that commenced rehearsal, Lisa's nephew looks a bit protective. And loved. 

The lighting in the sanctuary was far less than ideal, but a lot of you have said you want to see shots of the families, so here goes. :) 

Art and his parents.

Art and Lisa's parents.

How is it possible that I know so many talented people? The vocalists were phenomenal. Even during rehearsal, the music melted your insides and made you want to take off your shoes.

The bridal party's posture eeks out some of the reverence and sheer beauty of the music at that moment.

They didn't want to "practice" their vows. The words were tucked away and kept for the next day. Instead, they ad-libbed creative substitutes. 

A happy, hand-swinging recessional. :)

The morning of the wedding was clear and frosty.

Both of them were so real, so relaxed, so present. They felt every moment without thought of the next.

The sufficiently dashing bridal party.

Art got a gem... and he knows it.

The adorable girls...

...held handwarmers with their bouquets in formal pictures and over their noses in candid ones.

The sisterhood endures...

We three have come a long from eating red jello during nightly rants in the Faith Builders dorm. 
We're different, but still very much the same. 
I like that about us.

Art & Lisa [iii] coming later...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Art & Lisa [i]

"All I want is a room somewhere,
Far away from the cold night air,
With one enormous chair.
Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?

Lots of chocolate for me to eat.
Lots of coal makin' lots of 'eat.
Warm face, warm 'ands, warm feet.
Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?

Oh, so loverly sittin' absobloominlutely still.
I would never budge 'till spring
Crept over the windowsill.

Someone's 'ead restin' on my knee,
Warm an' tender as 'e can be,
Who takes good care of me.

Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?
Loverly, loverly, loverly, loverly."

-Eliza (My Fair Lady)

Lisa and Art had a loverly wedding.
I've never actually cried at a ceremony before, 
but the thickets and meadows of their story only make it more miraculous. 
Art cried too, so there. :) 

More candid shots of this loverly couple later!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 7

"We can do no great things; only small things with great love." -Mother Teresa

This jazz band was playing on the sidewalk in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Playing their hearts out, for free, so people could dance down the sidewalk. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 6

Earth's crammed with heaven

And every common bush afire with God;

And only he who sees takes off his shoes--

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Photo taken on Sam & Mattie's farm... several springs ago.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 5

"Behold my servant,
whom I uphold, my chosen,
in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him,
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed will he not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not fail or be discouraged
till he has established justice
in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law."

Isaiah 42:1-4

This passage... and the season of Christmas... has become warmer and more precious since I've begun to understand what God's justice is: quiet instead of forceful, patient instead of judicial, healing instead of destroying.

It's getting colder, naked tree branches fringe the sky, Christmas music is constantly playing in our house, and Market House has evergreens and bows on their windows... I wonder if our expectant waiting and preparation for Christmas is anything like the excitement and patience of the people who waited for the birth of our Savior.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 4

A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 3

Hard times can eat away at a person's identity. The things and people dearest to you shape you, and when you lose them, you start to wonder who you are. It's a good thing, a purification. But it also feels as though you just lost your anchor.

A few years ago, when I had "lost an anchor", I got this text from a friend who knew what was going on:

"You are God's treasured possession."

Something about the image those words invoke still changes me... and tells me who I am.

Anna, thanks for giving me today's "sticky words".

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 2

The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi 
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sticky words week

Some poems and passages stick to the sides of your soul like good, whole-wheat bread "sticks to your ribs". Months and even years after you first read them, they roll about in your brain and make their way down into your heart.

This week, I plan to introduce to you some of my favorite "sticky" pieces. One every day.

Martin Luther starts us off:

"No man is so high or may rise so high
that he need not fear becoming the lowliest.

Conversely, no one has fallen, or may fall,
so deeply as to preclude all hope of becoming the highest.

By saying: 'The first shall be last'
Christ takes all presumption away from you and forbids you
to exalt yourself above any prostitute,
even though you were Abraham, David, Peter, or Paul.

But by saying: 'The last shall be first' He guards you
against all despair and forbids you to cast yourself 
under the feet of any saint, even though
you were Pilate, Heord, Sodom and Gomorrah."

Saturday, November 13, 2010


This letter flew through the mail slot a few minutes ago, necessitating a few celebratory shrieks.

This is the start of a dream-come-true! I start next fall, and four years after THAT, I hope to hold a BA in Psychology.

Whether I'm serving people professionally or unofficially, I hope to be doing so for the rest of my life. I want to understand people better, so it's my hope this study equips me to do just that.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Earth is Flat

"The first shall be last and the last shall be first." That's what Jesus said, and I thought I understood it. He means, in His eyes, His Kingdom, we're all equal - every breathing one of us.

I have no problem being equal with the people society considers to be "last" because of the rung they occupy on the socioeconomic ladder. No problem. They're beautiful. As a general rule, they're unassuming and patient, slow-dancing with the hours, rather than sprint through them, not noticing even the sidewalk. They know the underside of life and stand more firmly on the ground.

Somehow, though, I have a blind spot in this whole equality idea when it comes to people like politicians. This one, for example. He often pops in and bolts out of the coffee shop I haunt when I want to read, watch people (in a philosophical, non-creepy sort of way, please conclude), and drown any yawn in a deep, warm mocha. I've watched him do his pop-and-bolt routine, grabbing a coffee to go while talking incessantly to the Bluetooth on his ear. Even his Bluetooth is modern and shiny - one of those sleek, rectangular sorts. No time for silence or conversation with the people in front of his face as his shiny shoes take him in for his coffee and back out to his expensive mirror-on-wheels SUV so fast that his perfectly-matched tie would be streaming over his shoulder, were it not designer-pinned fast. Senseless wasting of Earth's resources, constantly chasing power and control... I have more than once rolled my internal eyes. Not my visible ones, of course, but I guess God saw just as well. And He knew better than I that I felt myself more righteous than this guy I assumed thought he was "first".

I was positive I had a few quarters somewhere in my book tote, but (thanks to a law passed by a guy named Murphy) I stood at the parking meter, fishing in vain. Before I saw him, I heard Mr. Politics coming down the sidewalk. He was telling some remote person precisely what was going to happen in the following election, how it was all going to fall in their favor. I was happily elbow-deep in my search for a quarter. He remote-started his chromy chariot from across the parking lot. As he reached both it and me, he asked his invisible colleague to please excuse him for a second.

"Ma'am, I have one in my vehicle," he said to me. And he did. He also retraced his steps to bring it to me. I thanked him... surprised, warmed, and completely humbled.

Sometimes altars of repentance and sanctification very closely resemble parking meters. Maybe Jesus says the earth is flat after all and no one stands above or below another. I hope I remember this. I also hope Mr. Politics' coffee was exceptionally stellar.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Starry Knight

These nights are "clear and cold," as my dad would say.

Winter stars are icier, more remote, than summer stars. Icier and more remote, but more exquisite. Instead of a soft, comfortable sort of beauty, they're like Tolkien's Galadriel. Beautiful in a breath-taking, awe-inspiring... almost frightening sort of way.

I like night. All the colors laid to rest in the care of greys and blacks, the world is simpler. Closer. Both more and less secure because of what the eye cannot see. It's in the night that streetlights are as comforting as my striped mittens. It's the darkness that makes Orion my warrior and fields mine for imagining. It's also the knowledge of my lack of sight that makes me want light. Value it.

Making plans for the future makes me wonder where, who, and what I'll be in ten years. If the next ten hold half as much as the last five, only God knows. Five years ago, I was a painfully shy youngster, moving to Lancaster to teach school. I never anticipated the smooth deeps and frothy rapids ahead. Like darkness, lack of foresight is a blessed curse.

Some of my gypsy-girl wanderings have bade me "bon voyage" with riches I wouldn't trade for any sort of shiny metal... some have left me out in the dark and cold. All have left me with the comfort that

   Light shines in the darkness for the upright (Psalm 112:4a)

and this is the same Light that madman John talked about... that Light that shines in darkness.

His name is Jesus. My Knight in Shining Armor. That radiance will guide me through the next ten years as it has the last five.

Where, who, what? Who knows? Here's to the adventure through the darkness that only accentuates Light!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Kombucha project

Kombucha, the "mother" of all drinks.
My first gallon is brewing!

I've been literally craving kombucha, and Anna was kind enough to send me a "mother", or "scoby", to get me started. You can see the mother near the top of the jar in the picture... it's a white-ish, rubbery sort of mushroom thing. Like yeast, it's a living organism. Here's how you put her to work:

1. Get a mother. You can either get one from someone who already brews kombucha, or buy a bottle of raw (unpasteurized) kombucha from a health food store. Take the lid off the bottle and let it set in a warm place out of direct sunlight until a film forms on the top. This is your mother.

2. Brew 1 gal. black tea. I used 5 tea bags. Stir in 1 cup of sugar until dissolved. Let tea cool until almost room temperature. If the tea is too hot, it will kill your poor mother.

3. Pour into a glass container. Metal or plastic will disrupt the brewing process. Truth be told, I went to Wal-mart and bought a gallon jar of Kosher Dill pickles, just so I could have the jar. We have a whole gallon of huge pickles to eat. Any help, anyone? ;)

4. Put the mother into the tea. Fasten a piece of porous fabric over the jar and put the jar in a warm place out of direct sunlight. We have forced-air heating, so my jar has taken up residence on a floor heater.

5. Let the mother work her magic for 2 weeks. She will "eat" the sugar and release tons of healthy enzymes into the tea. Once the brewing process is complete, it will taste something like carbonated apple cider. 

6. Once the 2 weeks are up and/or you're satisfied with the taste, remove the mother, cap the tea, and refrigerate it. You'll notice that the mother has grown another layer. This is a new mother... or her baby, depending upon how enthralled you are by this point. Peel the layer off and either discard the old mother or use both mothers to start two jars.  

The enzymes kombucha contains boost a healthy immune system and aid in digestion, much as do the enzymes in unprocessed yogurt. I can attest to that fact. Last winter, I was sick in bed with the swine flu, and kombucha was the only thing I could keep down. Although I can't prove this, kombucha is thought to prevent cancer. Take that with a grain of scoby.

In a few weeks, if anyone needs a mother, let me know! Cheers!

Here is a more in-depth, scientific report on the benefits of kombucha, FYI.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Recent Living-Room Scene

Bekah: "I need a pen [as in the writing instrument]."
Me: "Well, you could pretend you're sitting in one. The living room walls are the edges of the pen."
Bekah: [after a long look] "Well, how will I get out?"
Me: "The door?"
Bekah: "A hole-punch, a hole-punch! Oh, my KINGDOM for a pole-hunch. What the world is a pole-hunch?"
Me: [having regained speech] "I'd get you a pen, but that would mean I'd have to sit up."
Me: [managing to leave the couch, walking out of the living room] "I just love U2 (the band). I'm sorry, but I do."
Me: [re-entering the living room, from the doorway throwing the pen like a dart. dart neatly misses Bekah's mouth because she ducks. it hits her above the heart.]
Bekah: "Hey, watch it! I'm going to need that someday. Maybe not now, but someday it might be nice."
Me: "We really should record our conversations when we're in these moods. We say some pretty priceless things."
Bekah: "Maybe we only think they are funny because we are in these moods."
Me: "No, I bet anyone with a sense of humor remotely close to ours would appreciate it."

And so we re-constructed the conversation for your evaluation. Word-for-word.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Prayer for Mission

This beautiful, simple prayer from The Daily Office both rested and disquieted me this morning:

Lord Jesus Christ,
you stretched out your arms of love
on the hard wood of the cross
that everyone might come within
the reach of your saving embrace:
So clothe us in your Spirit
that we,
reaching forth our hands in love,
may bring those
who do not know you
to the knowledge and love of you;
for the honor of your Name.