Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Down like rain….

Blessings. They can be so unexpected. Tonight, Chris and I went with my parents to eat at Green Hills Grille. Someone had given Chris some gift certificates, and we felt like tonight would be a good night to use them. We had just prayed over our food when a man walked up to our table and said, “Does anyone over here know Jesus?” We all just stared at him, and then I realized that it was a guy that I had graduated high school with. His name is Craig.

A little background: Craig and I went to school together from 7th to 12th grade. Although we had our moments, most of the time he was not very nice to me. He often made fun of me for my Christian beliefs or for my looks or whatever he could find to pick on. As he put it, he persecuted me, but I prayed for Craig.

But Craig ended up becoming a Christian, and God lit quite a fire inside him. Really, he glows. He has apologized to me, my family, and even to Chris for the way he treated me. And tonight, the waitress told us that Craig had picked up our check for dinner. Amazing.

We had a nice time after dinner chatting with him, his lovely wife, and his two adorable children. His son Joseph was born in Columbia. He’s a miracle boy. The doctor told Craig that he needed to just enjoy the time he had with Joseph because he would not make it, but Craig told them that Joseph would live and would some day be a preacher. He had prayed, and he felt God’s peace. Joseph is now a vibrant and healthy two year old. Hopefully Craig will contact Dad soon; we all hope to get together soon.

Sometimes blessings are so obvious like what happened with us tonight. But sometimes they are subtle, and we miss them. I had several blessings today: Chris and I complete three miles today on our walk, including the HILL. Chris brought me sweet tea from Sonic this morning. Today was a gorgeous day. I get to walk outside twice a day at work: once to put mail in the mailbox and once to retrieve mail. Today my little stroll was a small piece of heaven on earth. The sky was delicately strewn with soft clouds; the sun felt warm on my skin, and a brisk, refreshing breeze sufficiently cooled the earth. Later in the day two sweet little girls took a few moments to stop and talk to me. And though I soundly conked my head on a shelf at work today and ended up with a nice size bump, I did not get knocked out! (I really thought for a moment there that I was going to go down.) Oh, and I was able to take a long nap when I got home from work.

I actually keep a grateful journal where I write down three to five things each day that I am grateful for. It's such a great exercise and helps me to be more positive about my life.

I hope that I will be able to pass blessings on to other people tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dancing in the Butterfly Garden with China

I’ve been reading a lot of other people’s blogs lately, and it has been somewhat intimidating. So many of these are used to spout one’s philosophy on any number of topics or to showcase a person’s intelligence. And I look at my humble little reporting here. It’s just general observations: a chance to share my thoughts, feelings, and activities with others. I start to feel that I should be more eloquent or that I should write about more important issues, issues that would reach toward some lofty goal, issues which would spark passion and fire and debate in others. That’s exhausting. And it’s not who I am. So, oh well.

But that raises the obvious question. Who am I? Do people ever stop asking this question? It’s not simple to answer, and the answer is never complete. Who we are evolves with each new experience.

Today I was a distracted and somewhat bored receptionist. While school is not in session, summer camps are in full swing. We have one that runs six weeks with primarily African-American children from North Nashville. It’s a chance for them to stay fresh on their academic studies and to engage in extra curricular activities such as art, theater, swimming, etc. I work in what is fondly referred to as the Birdhouse. It’s painted to look like a little birdhouse with vines and working blue-gray shutters. To my right is a small rectangular window that allows me to view guests in the waiting area and also any small children who may mosey by. I’ve been attempting to read, but my mind keeps wandering to my financial difficulties. That is until some little angel faced African-American child presses his little face or hand against the tiny window of my cubicle and smiles both shyly and mischievously. The children parade by here on their way to lunch, PE, and various other activities. And they peek at me through the window. Most of them have been reserved and the model of self control while others frantically try to get my attention, waving and smiling and calling out to me. And for a moment my heart feels a little lighter, and all that clouded my mind disappears as I gaze into those chocolate brown eyes, and I release a smile of my own. Just as I begin to bring myself back to the task at hand another child stops by and uses my little window as his own personal stage; he takes an opportunity to do a little dance then grins wildly and dashes away.

Why can’t we be more like this? I want to dance more.

There were a couple other happenings of interest from today. Chris came to work and surprised me with a sweet iced tea from Sonic. I’m addicted to sweet iced tea from Sonic. It’s a problem. Really. I think about it too much. Great, now I want some now. As Chris left I walked him out to the car so that I could check the mail, which is one of my very important receptionist duties. There’s also the fact that just outside the entrance there is a lovely flower garden. I always walk a little slower on the way back in the building in order to appreciate the beauty a little longer. Today I saw two of the most gorgeous, large yellowtail butterflies lingering around the flowers. I had to take a few extra moments to gaze at them and attempt to get as close as possible in order to better examine the intricate design on their wings. I love butterflies.

I also was given an eight piece setting of fine china. It’s very delicate and sweet with silver and gray detailing and a rose pattern. When I told Chris about this, he said, “That’s great, Honey…. Wait, where are we going to put it?” You see, we already have seven sets of dishes! Only one is really nice and used for dinner with company. One is for every day use. Two others are sets that have been in his family for years, and the last three are for special occasions. I know it’s a lot. We have too much stuff.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

What would you do?

Have you every thought about what you would do if you had permission to do anything? I was thinking about that today. What is it that I would do if there were no boundaries? What makes me come alive? You know, I had a really hard time with that. Certain answers jumped to my mind right away, but I began to wonder if those were just my staple answers. So, I went a little deeper. Here’s what I came up with:

I would try out for a play. I would open up my own playhouse or coffeehouse or bed and breakfast. I would write a book. I would plant a garden. I would drive to the Grand Canyon in a camper and take in the wonder, wildness, and beauty there. I would go to Roswell, New Mexico, even if all I found there was a cheesy gift shop with alien merchandise. I would adopt babies. I would find a way to get the 300 acres of land that Chris wants and build our house in the center of it. I would raise horses.

These are all things that I have pondered or that I have slightly touched, dancing around the fringes of my dreams. I’ve directed several plays, but I haven’t tried out for anything in since college. I’ve been writing, but I haven’t finished anything. I’ve traveled but always with someone else as the guide. Some of these things couldn’t have happened earlier; God had a different plan than the one I had in mind. But I wonder if I missed out on other things because of a lack of vision.

Does that mean that I am going to run out and start doing these things so that I can check them off of my list? No. I just want to have passion and a dream. It doesn’t really matter if these things come to pass. What matters is that I have a dream, that I have something that drives me, something that makes me feel truly alive. And I really want to help others find their passion and pursue their dreams, which is why I am a teacher.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wild at Heart

Whenever I read a book by John Eldredge or Brennan Manning, my world gets rocked. I’m a little over halfway through Wild at Heart. This is my second reading.

If you are not familiar with the book, it’s written for men, a guide to the true heart of a man. It’s also great for women to read in order to better understand men. The first time I read it a few years ago, it revolutionized the way that I thought about men. I think it would be good for me to reread this book every few years. I especially think it’s a good refresher for me now that I’m married. Should I have the blessing of sons, I will definitely read it again. Here are the basics. Every man and every woman has three basic desires.
1. a battle to fight
2. an adventure to live
3. a beauty to rescue
1. to be fought for, to be pursued
2. an adventure to share
3. a beauty to reveal

In the book a woman asks Eldredge, “ How do I get my husband to come alive?” He answers her, “Invite him to be dangerous.” In order to truly understand this bit of guidance, you need to read the book.

Taking this advice, I have decided that Chris and I need to pursue adventure. We’re going to start by going camping; the first trip will be in the next couple weeks. We hope to eventually go camping in the Grand Canyon. We’re also going to go white water rafting on the Ocoee. And I told Chris that, when we can afford it, I would love for him to get a motorcycle, a desire that he has long held. I am also on the lookout for other adventures.

I don’t want to live in a strictly “safe” world. Just as Lucy discovered in The Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan is not safe, but he is good. In just the same way, life doesn’t have to be safe to be good. I feel like, for the longest time, I’ve looked for safely alone. While that’s nice and certainly necessary in many cases, it should not be the ultimate goal. I’ve run from fear for so long, and now I’ve come to see that it’s time to tackle. It’s time to be wild.

I know that I cannot do justice to this book in my little feeble explanation or even in beginning to tell the ways that my thinking and my life in general are being altered. I hope that you will get the chance to read it.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Back on the journey….

Back in 2002 I started the book The Sacred Romance by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis; it’s all about knowing your own heart and about your relationship with God. I don’t know why, but I stopped just a couple chapters shy of finishing it and the accompanying workbook. In an attempt to find things to occupy my “down time” at work, I start on them again. It’s been an eye opening experience, and I’ve found that I have a journey to finish. I love books written by John Elderidge. I’ve read The Journey of Desire and Wild at Heart, and all three of the books have impacted me in profound ways. However, I feel that since so much time has elapsed since I read them the influence they have had on me has diminished considerably. So, I’m going to read them again. And for that same reason, I plan to reread The Chronicles of Narnia this summer as well.

I guess this is the summer for remembering and renewing for me. I’m also starting to make hemp jewelry again. I used to necklaces and bracelets all the time a few years ago. I thought I’d try to make one for each student in my homeroom for this next year. I thought that might be kind of a cool thing. Eh, we’ll see.

Oh, I finally had some pool time this week. I haven’t been able to get over there at all until now. Chris had to work a little late, so it was just me. Mmmmm, the feel of the warm sun on my skin. I took my CD player over there and my journal. It’s so nice most of the time because there are normally so few people there. At one point I had the place all to myself. After floating around on my little raft for a while, I hopped out, popped on my headphones, and started jotting down my random thought. For the past few years the Maroon 5 CD, Songs About Jane, has been my pool summer soundtrack. I saw them in concert a few years ago when they opened up for John Mayer, and I really enjoyed their performance so much more. John was too preachy; I just wanted him to sing. Just sing, John, sing! I think I actually yelled that at the concert. So annoying. I couldn’t even understand what his point was; he was just rambling. And now I’m rambling. Sorry.

I need some new music. I want something funky, upbeat, and positive. Any ideas?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Oh, what a beautiful morning!

Bright and early this morning, the alarm clock sounded its melodic summons. It was 5:15 AM. Normally this would not be a problem; I usually rise early. However, I’ve just come off a week of vacation: staying up later and getting up later. This is the day that Chris and I decided that we would start getting up early and going for walks together in the morning instead of trudging through the heat of the evening. Our current course is a little over two miles, but that should increase in the next couple weeks. We will soon be tackling THE HILL. I’ve mentioned this hill before; I’ve spent quite a deal of time on it myself, but Chris has yet to attempt it. Since I’ve been walking with him I haven’t done it for a while. It’s really not that big of a deal; a half a mile up, a mile round trip. However, it is pretty steep, and it was what got me into such great shape a few summers ago. I’m hoping that it does for me what it once did.

Today was my first day on my new job. I’ve mentioned that I am playing the role of a receptionist this summer at the school where I teach. I have been telling people for weeks that my hours were from 8 – 3. However, this morning, after being there for a few hours, I discovered that I do not have to be there until 9. I suppose that it’s good that I found out today instead of getting here an hour early for weeks and then finding out. For those of you who know me well, you know that this type of silly mistake is not at all an uncommon occurrence for me. I have to remember to take enough with me to keep me occupied during those lulls between phone calls. Today I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing on my college alumni site. Which reminds me…. I need to get up and move around as much as possible. After sitting for such long stretches I wasn’t sure if I would be able to move. I’m used to being in constant motion.

How are you at the crossword in the newspaper? I never tried to tackle it until I met Chris, and even then we’d work on it together. However, as there is not much for me to do in between answering the phone I thought I’d try doing them on my own this summer. I am great at the crosswords in People magazine, being the pop culture guru that I am, but the one in the newspaper kicks my butt. Perhaps that doesn’t speak well of me; I hope that I am not showing my ignorance too much. Ah, who cares? At least I keep trying.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Blank canvas

It’s just staring at me and has been for weeks. It sits there on my easel full of a world of possibilities and a very lovely blue green color but void of any real life. I want so much to paint something, but what that something is simply escapes me.

How sad is this? Ideas, anyone?

I wanted to post tonight, but this will be a rather short post. I’ve had a migraine for most of the day, and I finally broke down and took a half of a pain pill. It takes care of the pain, but it also takes care of me being awake or at least coherent. I need to go lie down.