28 November 2006


I just can't help it. This one's for you, Pops.

What did the mother turkey say to her disobedient children?
If your father could see you now, he'd turn over in his gravy!

Thanksgiving was lovely! I am thankful for so many things. Here's a taste:

* God providing a wonderful place to live and a great roommate to dissect life & laugh with & mildly obsess about "the office" with
* breakfast with friends & hearing Esme say "water baby"& Lilley tell stories about going to the store and eating a red hot dog
* getting to go to the hospital & meet two brand new little boys this year!
* walks in the park with Linz
* fun, challenging, eye-opening, soul-feeding, perspecive changing travels: California, Nairobi & London, Chicago, New Orleans , Cornerstone, Michigan, Greenville, and Omaha ....yikes, I'm out of control...carpe diem!
* deepening old friendships and meeting new friends
* the incredible, amazing, always surprising me, bifocal-wearing, rock-listening, handyman & woman-ing, generous, nurturing, loving open-handedly kitchen gnomes.
* health of family & friends
* my house church--a ragamuffin life-line
*my "i can fix any dang thing, even your broken kitchen timer" brother, who is, for the record, both wiser and older; his yoda-like tendencies in knowing exactly when to call just to say, "hey dude, what's up?" (uses the force he does).
* God's goodness to these ones and these ones.
* broken-heartedness and healing
* Thanks and praise to the author and perfector of faith, my shelter, rock, redeemer, provider for his holiness, mercy, grace, compassion; This year he has been my helper, deliverer, hope, strength, counselor, teacher, shepherd, love, and Savior.

I think that's good for now. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


live the questions

"I want to beg you as much as I can...to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves...Do not now seek answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer... take whatever comes with great trust, and if only it comes out of your own will, out of some ned of your innermost being, take it upon yourself to hate nothing." Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

20 November 2006


My birthday post was sorely incomplete. I was in a sort of travel-lag.

Some other highlights, thanks to my gnome family and my housechurch family. Thanks to Neil for the lovely brown & blue cake artistry.

The orange dream machine is pretty amazing, by far the largest birthday present I have ever received. I have trouble receiving at times, small things, big things. I have had a hard receiving this bike. I think, as weird as it sounds, at the heart of it is that I want to control the gifts God gives me (directly and through others).

People asked when I returned home from India & Sri Lanka about a year ago how the adjustment and culture shock was going. I answered that being in the midst of such an outward focused, relatively simply living community helped a lot. People I know don't go on insanely expensive vacations or buy the newest car model. Most live in creaky old houses or apartments and drive unreliable cars and think going out to eat is a treat, not a right. It is a generous community that knows how to celebrate, and I have been incredibly blessed to be a part of it.

But there is an element of haunting, for lack of better term, that has been and continues to be a part of my everyday life. In my current job at Kaldis, I bus tables and throw away half-eaten meals and serve four dollar drinks to people who come in two and three times a day. As I scrape these plates full of food into the trash, I can't help but think about the trash pickers in Calcutta--the poorest of the poor--who scavenge for rotten remnants while many of us in the West over-consume and waste, myself included. I think of one woman we found at Howrah station that was literally starved to death who died in my arms during the cab ride to Kalighat, the Mother Teresa hospice. The afterschool crowd at Kaldis is round-faced kids and pre-teens drinking hot chocolates and hanging out with their friends. My mind jumps to the neighborhood of Sonagacchi, where eight and nine year old girls are trafficked in from villages to be owned as prostitutes and spend their adolesence and adulthood in perpetual abuse.

Sometimes this dichotomy--my brain being split into to completely real and unbelievably different realities--makes me feel insane. My heart goes from being broken to being switched off. It is too much--too contradictory, too bizarre, too sickening, too frustrating.

In spite of these things, I would never want to change relationships or the experiences God has given me as gifts. I have come to see in the last five years or so that, as much or more than the "real" blessings, these pictures of suffering haunt my heart, my mind, my prayers, my mundane daily activities are some of the greatest gifts from God. They are the gifts that drive me to meditate on the fact that pain is, as C.S. Lewis writes, God's megaphone to us. It is painful to see and be reminded by the Holy Spirit that things are not, to say the least, as they should be. Being part of the human family means recognizing that she who digs through the trash is no different from me--that she is my own sister, as Macklann preached yesterday.

We desperately need to make room for the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, to re-create our realities to include the rest of the family. We desperatly need to be freed from our self-centeredness and refusal to open our eyes. This is God's gift to us. Our salvation depends on it. God's good gifts are not only the obvious ones: being physically cared for, beautiful families, spiritual food; they are also the ones that break our hearts, cause us to limp, cause us to see that we can no longer consider our lives our own, but become about being transformed to the likeness of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53) .

God does desire to bless us and give us good gifts that draw us closer to Him, and I am praying to have the courage to receive all of them: both the ones that surprise and gladden my heart (like an awesome orange bike from my family, or a hip and super cool sewing book from my sweet roomie) and those that break and ruin it for the sake of knowing Him better--His unrelenting love and compassion for the whole world, His jealous desire for my heart. I am excited to see what He has in store. I put out my hands to receive.


14 November 2006


Bacon's Great & I returned from Omaha last night. The trip was so fun, and I am somehow tired after this short vacation, as often happens when you travel.

The drive there was somewhat dark and weather-filled. We ran into gust-fronts and a bit of snow (a teeny bit), but Beck, U2 and Jeff Buckley helped the ride go smoothly.

Omaha is fully in winter. It was cold! We had a great time staying at Daphne's beautiful apartmennt & hanging at Jara's across the hall. These two make me laugh so much. The weekend was full of drinking things like tea, wine & coffee, eating things like Daphne's amazing split pea soup, croissonts! and green olives, talking, laughing, book perusing, hearing stories, smoking apple hookah, catching up with old friends & making some new ones.

The WMF Beggars Society meeting was inspirational; Shane Claiborne is a great, grace-filled and truly original person following after God's heart.

Jara gave me a Sri Lankan 2 rupee coin like this for my birthday and it made me happy and sad.

We listened to M.Ward, Josh Garrels & The Myriad on the way home, which were also quite nice soundtracks. I've been 28 for two and a half days and it feels pretty good.

Tonight, it's literally back to the grind for me.

03 November 2006


*embroidery floss in a variety of colors.
*regular felt in a variety of colors (i got it at walmart)
*sharp scissors
*large embroidery needle (i find this easiest)
*1/8th inch grossgrain ribbon in variety of colors
* cluster polyfill--comes in a cheap pillow-sized bag

1. draw a few pattern shapes on cardstock--heart, christmas tree, snowman, mitten, dove, angel, etc. take into account about an eighth-inch seam to sew the edges together.
2. use the pattern to cut the ornament shapes out of the felt for both front and back pieces
3. cut about a 24 inch length (or longer) of embroidery floss and separate and use 2-3 strands instead of 6. knot the end.
3. starting at the top (tree) or bottom (heart) do a blanket stitch about 3/4 the way around the shape with a contrasting color. i like them funkier, so i do red & turquoise or pink & gold, blue-green with bright green)
4. stuff with a little bit of polyfill
5. sew the stuffing hole closed
6. use a 2 inch length of ribbon to loop on the top & sew to the backside of the ornament with matching thread or floss to hang it

* if you do any embroidery details, do it between steps 2 & 3 (sewing the yellow line on the chrstmas tree). things like adding the star can be done last. it can be tacked on to the top of the finished tree before you add the ribbon

i don't know if this makes sense...if you don't know how to blanket stitch, have someone show you and it is super easy.