Friday, February 22, 2013

the dimmer switch, Abbey, and the Native Americans

If you know me well, you've probably heard me quote this as an answer when answers just won't come, "We see as in a mirror, dimly"

We do... its true.  One day, though, we won't have to squint by candlelight anymore, but with clarity, all things will be revealed. (...chuckle...) It makes me think of the other  night in the kitchen, the lights were set at a "mood" level as my (extremely practical) Mother proclaimed, "wow this is an annoying level of light isn't it!?" It was like juuuust bright enough to get around without tripping, but dim enough to cause early- onset forehead wrinkles because of the squint-fest.  I'm all about dim lighting... but she's right... it can totally be annoying, especially at times when clarity is required.  Sure its nice to sometimes sit down to a meal out at a restaurant with an ambiance of candlelight... but who wants to like... do their taxes in this kind of lighting... or like try to find their car keys? Its frustrating!

And so it is with life... its like things are constantly set on the dang dimmer switch... and all while I'm trying to see clearly to figure out my (ahem) destiny here, LORD.  No matter how hard I try to "CLAP ON(clap clap) CLAP OFF (clap clap)"... things just ain't gettin' any brighter.  Its cool how that book, The Purpose Driven Life, awakened a lot of people to the idea that maybe there is a reason we are all here... that we are not just wandering aimlessly through a dimly lit corn maze of an existence!  At the same time though, I sometimes feel like we have now been sent on a quest where purpose must be found in every tiny matter.  Especially for purpose-seekers like myself.  I want to live a life on purpose, but sometimes it can seem like we are trying to know the end from the beginning... because we are afraid to just... trust. Sometimes I try to make myself believe that when I leave the house late because I can't find my keys or something.... it must be because God is protecting me by helping me avoid an accident or something... usually though, I just thoughtlessly laid my keys somewhere and now I can't find them.  We don't know every thing's purpose yet.  This is the point of the dim lighting though, right?  That we might rely on Someone... who has a better view... to help lead us along.

My girlfriends and I just had to say goodbye to our dear friend, Abbey, this morning because she is moving to Texas.  There are so few twenty-somethings in our area that we are not shy about snatching one up when they find themselves somehow displaced in our town ;-) Abbey is one of those girls who just fit into our group of friends so naturally.  We only got to really know her for about 6 months, but she was like the cheese added to our broccoli chicken casserole or something- she rounded out the flavor and we are going to miss her so much.  She was newly married and lived in the northeast for 4 months without really having a community of friends... and one could ask a lot of "why's" here.  Why would the Lord bring her here and then take her away so quickly?  Why (when me and my friends were waiting like Piranhas as we prayed for community) didn't we meet her sooner?... so we could've had 10 months instead of only 6?.... None of it makes sense.  All we can do is be thankful for the gift of time we were blessed to have with her, love her, and let her go into this new season that God is leading her into.  There is not really anything in this life that we can hold onto, we can only hold out our hands to receive a gift that the Lord wants to give, and then leave our hands open to offer it right back to Him to let Him freely do with it what He desires.  It's not a game that He's playing with us.  He just sees the completed picture and we are doing this 1,000 piece puzzle by the light of the dimmer switch...

I heard this quote one time in reference to what we can do with all of the unknowns - "Lord, I submit this to the mystery of Your will."  I love that- its a good one to keep in the back pocket to snack on in times of confusion.

We see as in a mirror, dimly... but someday we will see clearly.  I so often just wish the Lord would turn the lights up already.  Instead though... there is trust that is being built.  When I don't have the capability of having the overhead lighting that He has, I must learn to take Him at His word.  It's like I'm being herded along by a good Shepherd or something... His rod and His staff... they comfort me.
This isn't a new struggle, eh?  I mean... remember: hey... eat this apple (or more accurately, some other kind of exotic garden of Eden fruit variety... surely organic ;-) Eat this... and it will all make sense... you'll know it all... and you'll understand it all.  Funny how the oldest lie remains to be the toughest to fight off, huh?  This lie should've been on that show Myth Busters a long time ago... but we are all still getting Punked by it...

The Good news?  The Lord is like the Native Americans.  uh... okay? Yea. You know how you learned in school as a kid, that the Native Americans- when they had hunted and caught an animal- they used every part of it... nothing went to waste.  As does our Maker... use everything.  No test or trial or unknown will go to waste, but instead can and will be used for His glory.

Longing for the day when we see clearly.  When we know as we are fully known and love as we are fully loved.

Much love,


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Groud-breaking science: The Extreme Gene

This is not a scientific fact... yet, but I have this theory about a gene that is passed down which makes one go to the extreme scenario in their brain.  I have inherited such a gene.  I'm not sure from whom, but way back in my family history somewhere, I'm convinced that there is a witty, down-to-earth somebody who is like-able and chill on the outside.... while their brain marches to a techno beat of a drum in their head as they ponder the calamities that are at bay.... thanks a lot Great-great-great grand-somebody :-/

I think some of my brothers might have the gene too... but of course their gene is not infused with girl brain, and is therefore- not as intense.  My brother Jeff is seriously one of the funniest people on the face of the planet.... like a cross between Jim Carrey and Steve Carell or something.  His extreme gene is more subtle and seems to appear most often when he is half-asleep and though the stories make for a bounty of hearty laughs later- while they are happening, he is 100% serious in the moment- truly believing that what is happening in his head is actually occurring in real life.  One time when him and my sister-in-law Gentry were visiting, she was telling us about how his nighttime antics don't even phase her anymore.  She told us that the previous night,  Jeff woke up absolutely freaking out- throwing the blanket off the bed because it was definitely ON FIRE.  Gentry said that she sleepily explained that the blanket was, in fact, not in flames as she pulled it back on and dosed off.  Jeff also told us about one time when all of the oxygen had somehow been quickly leached from the bedroom and he was yelling for Gentry to follow him out to safety!  This one is a favorite of mine because I can just so easily imagine him gasping for breath as he is adamantly coercing his wife to TRUST HIM.... if she wants to get out of there alive..... TRUST HIM.  My brother Matt can tend to be a bit of a conspiracy theorist himself... and Andrew?  Well, I guess he is pretty normal... the most logical of us all- unless of course he is just hiding the evidence of the gene in his own life...hmmm
I promise, my brothers are not crazy... I'm just using their stories to prepare your palate for mine... well, and so I don't feel completely alone in my weirdness... 

****Aww... a pause to say Happy Valentine's day: I just glanced out the window and our neighbor's husband was putting a valentine in our mailbox (His wife usually sends him on errands delivering goodies to lucky neighbors such as ourselves)... aww I feel the love today in the 55+ ;-) ****

So I have lots of those half-asleep stories myself, but my gene shows itself while I'm fully awake... while my brain is at its peak, with strong capability of debunking such spiraling thoughts... yet they are so terribly difficult to shake. Its not like I walk around paranoid or anything- I don't think that the C.I.A. is out to get me or that aliens are trying to take over my body. I actually think that I, a lot of times, can have a lack of healthy fear.. and it can sometimes get me into dangerous situations... like getting lost in the woods at night with barely any battery left on my cell phone and no flash light... or venturing down my Mom's old street in Philly... which is now definitely a common hangout for those involved in drug trade or gang violence.

I'm telling you though, these thoughts happen, maybe once a day- they are nonsensical, and most certainly an outcome of the gene..."trust me" ;-)

Okay here's one:  So the other night, I was on the phone with a friend.  I was in bed and I had a little box fan running down by the bottom of my bed.  It started to make a funny noise, like something was stuck in it... my immediate thought?  Mouse Foot.  SERIOUSLY!? Yes.  The very first thought that entered my mind was that a mouse must have gotten its foot caught in my box fan.... clearly, the only explanation for a rickety sound in one's very old box fan.  I haven't even ever SEEN a mouse in this house... but this was no time for deductive reasoning or process of elimination!  This was serious!  First of all, how the heck am I going to get this mouse's foot out of my box fan without him biting me and giving me rabies... and second of all, how can I sleep now, knowing that this mouse probably has a wife, kids, and other kinfolk roaming around somewhere within the walls :-/

Then there is that storm that occasionally comes along, whose thunder seems different from any old ordinary thunder, and I think, "oh man, this is it.... Jesus is returning." .... or a plane that is a lit-tle too loud as it flies over the house... is probably headed straight for my bedroom.  Hah, I know this is funny, but not funny.... and slightly irreverent- but I really do think these things- and I force myself to imagine that God just thinks its... endearing :-)

So I could ponder how much of it is nature (my extreme gene) and how much is nurture (just the crazy junk that's happened in my life)... and I'm not sure if the chicken or the egg came first...
Because yea, okaaaay, so soooooometimes I think my fan is making noise because a mouse's foot is stuck in it.... but this is not completely far fetched... I lived in a house by myself once where critters (we think Squirrels) took over the attic and ran around constantly chewing wires and making my lights go out.  And I remember, growing up in Georgia, that the thunder used to be so strong that it would sometimes shake the house (my brothers can attest to this?) so okaaaay maybe its not so crazy that I assume that, when it happens now, it must be the return of the Lord...

Wow... probably the weirdest Valentine's day blog you've read today....

Bringing you love and ground-breaking scientific theories,

Friday, February 8, 2013

rabbits on trails

I recently read through all of my unfinished blog posts....and decided to combine some of them here as they would most certainly never be shared otherwise....let the rabbit trails begin:

 Making for a better story later:

How does one begin...after such a long silence? Well with a spontaneous poem, naturally :-)

I've been gone a long while....
but I hope to make you smile....
by writing this rhyme...
at just the right time....
when you need a free laugh....
or a little brown calf....
well, I don't have a cow....
but I'd like one somehow...
I'd call her "Miss May"...
and she'd graze and eat hay....
the milk would be raw....
and it'd make us grow tall...
and my husband who farms...
would make fig jam in jars...
'cause men are from mars...  (My Mom wrote the last sentence- she's so creative ;-)

I've been thinking of changing the name of my blog site. This idea has been pin-balling around in my head and maybe its time for a change. Whats that you say? Oh, I know, I WILL take so much work to track down ALL of my followers and tell them where they can find me at my new ip address...yet the idea rolls on.... This one phrase keeps popping into my mind at moments when life feels meaningless or the idea of purpose seems to have been lost in yesterdays.  When I get discouraged about what kind of life I'm living, what kind of story I'm telling, I encourage myself and say, "Julie, don't worry, this is all making for a better story later."  So I'm thinking of changing my site to "making for a better story later."  We'll see.  I am turning 28 soon and I'd like to revive my "late twenties," with something exciting..... so maybe I just WILL buy a cow ;-)

 The guy from art class: 

I haven't been writing.  I have this love/hate relationship with my blog.  It's sorta like an ex-boyfriend that you still have feelings for... he keeps coming up in your mind but, ugh....its painful in the pit of your stomach to let yourself go there...  here I am though- back again, because I think it is good for me to write.  I gotta get some of this mess out of my head! 

So this random thought came to my mind today.  I remembered someone. This kid who shared a table with me in one of my high school art classes. Let's call him.... Joe. He was a bit nerdy.... wasn't the prom king or one of the "in-crowd" and I honestly didn't really know much about him....except that he was so very kind and we had to stare into one another's eyes for quite a long time for our project to sketch the face of your fellow student.  When I remembered him, I saw that he had written something so sweet in my yearbook about how much our friendship meant to him......"our friendship?"  It's amazing how something that you don't even know you are doing can effect someones heart.  Sure, I was a nice girl in high school but if I had it to do over again, I would have totally been best friends with Joe and he probably could have taught me things I unfortunately had to learn the hard way.... I'm sure he had a deep well of wisdom in his head.... especially because he wasn't preoccupied with chasing girls or being the best at football.  He was just.... genuine.  Anyway, you never know how much the slightest bit of kindness might mean to someone.... and you never know how the dorky kid from high school might teach you great lessons someday when you're 28.

Cheese Whiz and cubes from China:

I haven't been sleeping :-/ unfortunate issue I have much of the time. BUT instead of just counting the sheep that jump across the back of my eyelids, I'm gonna blog it out. The thoughts are numerous and the night drags I shan't waste it! Blog on sister, blog on...
Yesterday I unfortunately partook of some "cheese product." Now, this is not normal for me. I like genuine cheese, especially from a farm around the corner. Why, when bonified cheese is just a short drive away, where I can stare the very cow in the face from whom this cheese originates, would I consume the alternative product that slyly goes by "cheese," as it makes fools out of us 'mericans who have come to believe that the consistency of cheese must resemble that of rubber cement? We no longer have need for you, cows! You heifers just take your milk elsewhere...we are all set here with our maltodextrin and yellow # 5....and we are juuuuuuust fine. If I have a cow someday...which would be a dream (who even says stuff like that?)... I would name her yellow # 5 just for the irony of it. I would milk her, make cheese, and put "yellow # 5" on the label, and only the brave and witty would buy it :-)

I sit here on my bed, and as I take a big whiff through my nose....I smell change on the horizon.  Well, change and bone broth. No, bone broth is not some type of fancy analogy for something, I'm just literally cooking it downstairs and it smells lovely. They should make a candle scent for "bone broth." Nay, people should just make more bone broth....AND people should say, "nay" more often. Come to think of it, attitudes like, "they should just make a candle scent from that," have probably contributed to why people have stopped making bone broth.....convenience. Why would people take the time to make bone broth when you can buy it at the grocery store in a convenient cube...and why make blueberry muffins when Yankee Candle has that very scent, all you need is a match! Don't worry, this isn't going to be a blog about food, and I'm not going to try to encourage everyone to go watch a documentary on why chickens should roam free and cows should eat grass (but I do know a few good ones if you need some recommendations ;-) I will end with a telling quote from my Dad at dinner. I was talking about how I had read that we don't make bone broth in America much anymore, whereas in most other countries, they still use it to make savory sauces and tasty soups. I told them that I had read that we export much of our chicken parts to China and they make bone broth out of them....and my Dad responded, "yea and it probably comes back to us in those cubes."I thought this to be hilarious and probably so true- and of course- it got me thinking...

As He giveth and taketh:

Something happens when you see worship that is seemingly out of context. I once heard a story about a woman who was on her honeymoon, and while her and her new husband were doing some kind of deep sea diving, tragically, he drowned. The woman said that she was so completely stunned and inconsolably broken, all she could do was lift her hands in worship and desperation.  Wow. What a way to spend a moment.
Can't help but think of the moments I've wasted. Time wasted in fear or anger...even now, I can feel them rallying to take me down.  I can only pray that God would gain glory from the moments I have left.

 Some days i think it will crush me:

The benefit of being a deep feeler? You feel joy...deeply. The price? You feel everything else... deeply. There was a movie out called Timothy Green or something....about a boy born from a garden to parents who had desperately prayed for a child. I haven't seen it but, being the feeler that I am, I was touched by merely catching the preview on TV. I don't cry at everything on television.... usually its only when I feel connected to the character or situation...BUT I found myself sobbing at a re-run of Grey's Anatomy last week and now I'm starting to worry a bit...especially since it was the second time I've watched the episode....and when this one character dies in the plane crash after another character declares his love for her....oh man- I felt like I was loosing my sister or something! I know, I know...probably none of you know what I'm talking about because you would not stoop so low as to watch that debaucherous show.... let us pause a moment, while Jesus draws a line in the sand to distract you from my sin ;-) I need something to happen and you know how I can tell?  I cry at Grey's Anatomy.  If this show seriously has the ability to evoke emotion from the depths of my soul....I'm in trouble. It is a beautiful thing to be able to feel, though.... at least its a sign that I'm still alive and kickin'.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Can I get some butter with this Manna?

As time keeps on healing.... open wounds are scarring over and the twinge in my chest eases just a little more.  The feeling of getting to the "other side" after a long, hard season rivals only the taste of an amazing cheesecake or how I imagine it will feel someday when I'm accompanied by something borrowed and blue as I make my way down an isle on my Dad's arm as we..... step.....together....step together.....(hopefully, gracefully and without tripping ;-)

I often hear those in the Christian world compare a truly sanctifying time as being in the "desert." Some seasons can only be equated to a place with dry, cracked ground where all you do is sweat and toil, while experiencing constant cotton-mouth because of the lack of dasani! Oh to be on the other side of this type of season....sigh...and to learn to be grateful for the manna He provided along the way.

God's provision can be (and usually is) so different from what we would have planned it to be.  I'm learning this as we speak.  This was my type of plan for my 28th year of life: to be a successful, loving wife and mother (or at least with a bun in the oven ;-) ...maybe having a job that I love and a God that I feel led by and loved by and can therefore pour out that love to the broken..... probably living in the warm southeast somewhere, or in a third-world country loving Orphans or something......
.....and yet this is my manna in my 28th year of life: to have moved into a 55-and-older neighborhood in the northeast (where goosebumps have permantly taken up residence on my arms) .... My finger is ring-less and my oven... bun-less, as I face the things my heart has cowered away from for years.  I'm letting God heal the broken places as I eat this bread that floats down in ways that I, in all of my own wisdom ...would have never chosen for myself.  Instead of being amazed at the bread that's falling, I find myself unsatisfied, asking things like, "uh, yo Pops, could I at least get some butter for this manna-stuff!?" 

Perspective is a marvelous thing to grab hold of... yet it's easy for our wandering eyes to lose sight of it amongst the mirage of temptations that appear in a desert season to distract us from the daily bread.  The lack of shade, yet abundance of bland bread usually bring out a human's inner-Kindergartner as we get our pout face on....unless of course, you have successfully slid through the "suffering and perseverance" part of the growth process, and have comfortably emerged wearing "Character and Hope ;-)" For most of us, perspective tends to bear it's fruit once you reach an oasis or the top of a mountain where you can gaze upon the beauty of the journey you wrestled with to get here. It's much more challenging to let thy sweet words of gratitude well up inside and roll off the tongue, when the only nourishment in sight are these sky-falling-wafers that literally translate to mean, "WHAT is it!?"

It's hard to find joy in a dry place, but its there and the desert won't last forever..... forty years might be a possibility... but not forever ;-)  Often times, the waters of joy begin to seep up toward the surface and fill the cracks once we give ourselves to gratefulness and open our eyes to the miracle of manna that surrounds us.... that helpless toddler that tries your patience, that spouse who sanctifies your spirit, that job that brings home the bacon, those encouraging words from a faithful friend.... but of course, none of it fills up your belly and satisfies your soul like the bread of life.

As I type this, the snow falls outside my window, its reflection like glitter under the street lamp... and this scripture comes to mind from Isaiah 55:

As the rain and the snow 
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth 
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Jesus.... our Manna... living water.... the bread of life.... who came down from heaven to be broken for us so that we might never again hunger or thirst.

So...Manna.....WHAT is it, you ask?  It's wonder bread, (but not the stuff you grew up eating in your school lunch with the crust cut off), and it's falling from heaven!  Enough said, right!? :-)

Much, much love,