Friday, December 6, 2013


I love snow. I love the feel of it on my face and hands and tongue and the look of it in my hair and on my coat and on my scarf. I love staring at it as it falls through the air.

I had some things get cancelled today because of the weather. I can't say that I was happy about anything getting cancelled that did--not even the eight o'clock in the morning class (we were going to be doing Christmas carols. How could I complain about that?). And I'm definitely disappointed about not playing the concert we were going to play tonight.

All the same, it's nice to take a little time out. I spent the morning hanging around my apartment drinking tea and playing guitar and so far this afternoon I meandered around in the snow and now I'm cuddling up drinking more tea trying to warm up. Coincidentally--or--well--not coincidentally, I don't believe in coincidences when it comes to things like this, I was already doing a 24-hour fast, not from food, but from tv, as a way of taking a little more quiet and still time... and now I have the day free and this is becoming a time of much-needed forced rest and reflection.

So, I turned down an offer of a ride home saying that I rather looked forward to the idea of walking home in the snow. I meant it, and I enjoyed it. I got quite carried away in my enthusiasm and took about twenty pictures of various things I walk past every day without thinking about them. And that got me thinking. I was excited about how beautiful these ordinary things were because of the transformative power of snow. That transformation is not unlike what God does, with people and events and everything really. He takes the ordinary or the ugly or the broken and covers it with His attributes to become extraordinary and beautiful and pure. When He looks at the souls of His redeemed He sees the snow-white version, all the imperfections obliterated by His grace.

Thank God for snow--and quiet--and grace.

Friday, November 29, 2013

a tale of trying to do NaNoWriMo when you know you will almost certainly fail before you even start

I did it. I did something I'd been meaning to do for years. I signed up on the National Novel Writing Month website and opened up a document and started trying to write this story that's been in my head as "what I would write about if I did NaNoWriMo" for four or five years running now.

It was something of a doomed attempt. I can't really explain why I picked this year to try to do it. All the reasons I had for deciding not to every year I've thought about it before still stood. But sometime past 9 pm on November 1st I was thinking and feeling a lot of things I don't really remember and I decided to give it a shot.

As you may have guessed, I don't have 50,000 words. I only reached 10,000 words as of tonight. I think it's safe to say I'm not going to write 40,000 more between now and midnight tomorrow. I suppose I could try and see how close I could get if I literally did nothing else between now and then, but that's not a good option (nope, not even on thanksgiving break. I have to practice and do laundry and things like that--exciting, I know).

I didn't write every day. At first I was writing every other day or every few days and catching up or almost catching up on the word count on the days I did write. Then I went two weeks without writing in it at all. Could I have reached 50,000 words if I'd written every day? Maybe? Could I have written every day? Maybe? Should I have written every day on an optional project that was just for me, considering all the other things I'm supposed to be doing? Probably not?

I don't think reaching the word count goal was really the point. Not for me, not right now. So was there a point? Actually, I think there was.

See, I wasn't writing my "novel" (which hopes to grow up and get a real plot someday) when I would otherwise have been practicing or doing my own homework or engaged in teaching-assistant duties. I was writing my story when I probably would otherwise have been feeling... whatever it is I've been feeling a lot lately. The point is I was doing it because settling down to some creative writing again was a healthy thing for me to do. And I'm glad I did it. I may or may not write much more tonight or tomorrow. We'll see. But I'm thinking of declaring December "November extension month" and just... not stopping. Because it is good for me to write, because I do care about figuring out where this story is going and finding out what happens to these characters. I think doing NaNoWriMo wasn't about writing a novel so much as it was about admitting that it's OK to devote a little time and effort to taking care of myself. So. Consider this my confession: I took time to write this month, because I wanted to, and I am glad I did, even if I didn't reach any impressive word-count goals.

Monday, September 16, 2013

On Visibility

O Lord, You have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
--Psalm 139:1-6

In other words:

You are not invisible. You are not unimportant. God sees you; God pays attention to what you do and do not do. He hears the thoughts that you don't want to speak aloud; He hears the thoughts that you want to say but don't. He keeps track of your actions and inactions, your thoughts and attitudes, every day, all day, and every night, all night, and don't think He ignores what you do at dusk or dawn either. He notices whether you eat or not and whether you sleep or not. If you're genuinely trying to do something and feel like you're failing, He does not miss the fact that you are trying. He is present as a Person in your now, your yesterdays, and your tomorrows. You are not a statistic to Him as He surveys the entire human race; you are not a little speck that He doesn't see in the big picture. He is focusing in on you and aware of you and thinking about you and planning for you as surely as He is holding the universe together. Is that intimidating? Maybe, but He is looking at you with love and with the desire for your good. Is it sobering? It probably should make you consider your thoughts and actions carefeully, but keep in mind that if you have accepted His forgiveness, then when He looks at you, He sees the righteousness of His Son. Is it reassuring? Yes, you can know that you are never over-looked, never ignored, never inconsequential. You matter every moment, every breath, every heartbeat, to the greatest Being that ever was, is, or will be. Take comfort, dear heart: He cares for you.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Incompleteness is a part of this world. It's in our governemnts and our transportation, our cities and our countryside. It's in our relationships and in our careers, in our grades and in our textbooks. It's in my life, and yours, and that of each of our neighbors. It's inside my head, my heart, and my body, and yours too, and that of everyone we've ever met, except for God.

In Him our truest and best longings are fulfilled; in Him is the completeness we lack. In recognizing our own incompleteness we can realize our need for Him. In acknowledging that in Him and Him only is that completeness we seek we can give Him true worship.

I need Him tonight. I need His fullness of love and strength and peace around me. And I take comfort in knowing that whether I feel it or not, He is all that I need and more.

Monday, June 10, 2013

On Watching a Dance Rehearsal (poem)

I watch the dancers move, the lights transmute
The colors shift, the shapes converge and drift
I hear the singer's voice and I am mute
Responding to it all I droop and lift
I see emotions, hear my silent heart
And in the words come thoughts I'm shoving down
Involuntarily the tears will start
To form, but might not fall, I might not frown
The past, the present, future, all of these
My dreams and hopes, my plans and memories
Converging in my thoughts and in my heart
In unwilling reaction to this art
It's good to be reminded how to see
And in the vision and the sounds, to be.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Pieces of the Puzzle

I am only one piece of a very big puzzle made by Someone very wise and very loving. I am not the same mix of colors as the piece next to me or any other piece I can see. I am not the same shape as the piece next to me or any other piece I can see. My neighbors might have what I sometimes think of as brighter colors or prettier colors or a more harmonious combination of colors. My neighbors might have what I consider to be a shape of superior usefulness. I might look at my colors and my shape and think they are illogical and annoying.

The Puzzlemaker, however, has a different perspective. He knows precisely how my shape and my colors are necessary as a part of the very large Image that He is creating with all of His puzzle pieces. He knows exactly what the image ought to be, and He has chosen my part in it.

Therefore, when I want to cover up or change or cut off some part of the piece that He made me to be because I don't like it or it's not convenient; when I doubt if the Image shall be at all improved for my being in it; when I feel that every other piece of the puzzle is superior; I grieve Him. He has formed and is forming in me exactly the sort of beauty and usefulness that He wishes me to have, and He has made me part of the puzzle. Do I doubt His wisdom in making me this shape? Do I doubt His love in giving me these colors? Do I think that I know better than He what the Puzzle requires to be complete?

In short, if a piece of the puzzle doubts that it has been made the right shape, with the right colors, and has a valid place in the Image when the Puzzle shall be put together, it is doubting the Puzzlemaker. And the Puzzlemaker is the only truly infallible Being that is.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Underneath the stillness

Underneath the stillness, behind the words
Bursting to go and afraid to leave
The core of me trembles but dares to believe
In shadows undarkened and pictures unblurred.

Chasing an echo, a rainbow, a dream
An ideal unbroken, an art unrestrained
A heart that is pure and a feeling unfeigned
A song with an unspoken heavenly theme

My God, let my insides be pleasing to You
Heal my hurts, take my sins, teach me how to forgive
I long to be able in fullness to live
Please show me the way I can serve all that's true

In Beauty, in Goodness, in Love I see... You!
Let each thing I chase be a small piece of Thee
That in the end I strive for You not for Me
May Your nature shine through in all that I do!