Monday, April 28, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns

I was up all night reading this book by Khaled Hosseini, and finally lingered on the final sentences near sunrise. The two main characters, Mariam and Laila, are women in Afghanistan and the story weaves its way from the late 60s all the way to present day. For some it may be difficult to imagine that the atrocities found within its pages actually occur. Though relatively speaking I have seen very little of the world, I have seen enough to know that they do. The book is riddled with realities of war, death, child brides, abuse, starvation, oppression and even execution, but enduring themes are ones of hope, friendship, and love. I connected deeply with these women in their longing to live on, though living at times seemed unbearable. I felt a strange and persistent desire to enter into their world and share the heaviness of their load. I found myself asking God to take me to women like these and felt a renewed excitement for becoming a midwife. After closing the book I sat and watched the moon, a half moon today, slowly fade. Then darkness began to break into color, and day arrived. Still unable to sleep I lit candles and turned on my favorite sermon, one given by Donald Miller last fall titled 'Story'. I listened to it while washing dishes and folding clothes and asked God again to take my smallness and do something that brings Him great glory. I stopped cleaning and stared for a while out my bedroom curtains at the sunshine... thought with excitement about Josh and Rachel coming home today from their honeymoon... beginning life together. I wondered if they feel a sense of stability, knowing that they have each other. Wandering outside, I tried to choke down the fear of what is ahead and unknown... fears of failure, inadequacy, and perpetual loneliness. I tried to let all of the dreams that stir within me to live crazy and really trust God and really follow Him cover over the genuine terror I feel that makes me want to ask God to use someone else. But then I think that this one story is all I have and I want it to count for something. Often I feel in a very matter-of-fact way that I will die for my faith in Jesus and I think, God, prepare me for whatever is YOUR will. This was so much more than just a book to me. Graphic in every detail, it was a beckoning to follow God with reckless abandon. He can take me places I would never have dreamed, and that reminder is well worth a sleepless night.

April Snow Days

I got home from work on Saturday morning to see our house covered with snow!!! It was our third blizzard in April and we are expecting more in May. Haha, TIND (this is North Dakota...). I don't mind. It looks so pretty!!

Isaac turned 6 on Sunday! He is getting to be so incredibly grown up. But not too grown up for a bowling party and monster truck cake!!! I love this little man. Happy birthday bud!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

Life Change

I played in the rain this morning. Though it did bother me a little bit that cars were driving by and probably thinking I was crazy, the first rain of spring just needs to be enjoyed! Everything is turning green and little friends are starting to emerge, which is something we encourage. Rachel and I had left two garbage bags on the front porch of the house two days ago to be taken to the dumpster when the craziness of wedding festivities passed. Yesterday when I thought to take them a squirrel scampered away from one of them. He had smelled nuts, apparently, and had made a tiny hold and discovered a small bag of trail mix. He was neatly removing the nuts from the bag so I decided to leave everything alone for a while longer. Today I went back to see that all of the nuts and the chocolate (a squirrel after my own heart) were gone but the Craisins were left behind. Obviously the little guy isn't a fruit eater. I love spring!!!

For lunch I met with Nicole, an Air Force recruiter, and it was awesome! This is one of the "developments" I've mentioned in previous blog posts. I'm enlisting! You may be wondering why. I desperately want to go back to grad school for nurse midwife and nurse practitioner licenses. However, the online program I'm looking at is quite expensive. While praying one day about how I would pay for this, I got a call from Nicole. I've talked with her before about Air Force nursing, but what sold me this time was that they pay for well over half of the cost of graduate school! And nurses only need to enlist for 3 years... which is as long as it will take me to get two degrees anyway. To top it off, I will most likely be stationed in San Antonio, where there is a very large NICU and flight nursing team. San Antonio is where my sister-in-law's family lives, and I LOVE them all. There are whole lists of other wonderful parts about being in the Air Force, and getting all of my questions answered today just further confirmed that this is from God and the right path. Though it is sad to think that it will be at least three years before I will even be able to think about going back overseas for longer than 2 or 3 weeks at a time, at the end of this three years I will be much more prepared to work independently in a third world country. Until then, I will live vicariously through and pray for all of the people I know who are serving God so beautifully in the places where I wish I could be. Basic training will start for me in January. It won't be as intense as civilian basic, since I will go in as an officer. Honestly though, I hope it is somewhat intense because I think it will be fun. How cool is it to get paid to run?!? Maybe there will be a little more to it then that, but I'm pumped.

Josh and Rachel Keller!!!

:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

More pics from Josh and Rachel's big day at

The song in my heart....

"Who Am I" -Watermark

Over time You've healed so much in me and I am living proof
That although my darkest hour had come
Your light could still shine through
Though at times it's just enough to cast a shadow on the wall
Oh I am grateful that You shine Your light on me at all

Who am I, that You would love me so gently
Who am I, that You would recognize my name
Who am I, that You would speak to me so softly?
Conversation with a LOVE Most High... Who am I???

Oh amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I'm found was blind but now I see
And the more I sing that sweet old song the more I understand
That I do not comprehend this love that's coming from Your hand

Who am I, that You would love me so gently
Who am I, that You would recognize my name
Who am I, that You would speak to me so softly?
Conversation with a love Most High... Who am I???

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wanted: Water Wings!

Life is just so embarrassing sometimes. Since my knee is being ridiculous and I can't really run, last Wednesday I decided to try swimming. There were two others doing laps in the NDSU pool when I arrived. I had gotten myself a pair of goggles because I figured all swimmers need goggles to be taken seriously. What I didn't realize is that you also need to know how to SWIM to be taken seriously. I would watch the other two doing their laps and I promise you, they never seemed to come up for air! So I tried to follow their example but just got ridiculously out of breath. My lungs were burning! So I tried to do laps with my head above water, but just felt like I was doing a whole lot of splashing and not getting very far very fast. Having a lifeguard there was bittersweet... she made me feel secure in case I would suddenly just give out and go straight to the bottom of the pool. However, I also felt like she was snickering under her breath at my delinquency. Sheesh. I've been practicing, and I think I'm getting better. But don't expect me to be entering any races any time soon.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Holy the Firm, Annie Dillard

"I know only enough of God to want to worship him..." -Holy the Firm (p. 55)

Though I have read many things about Annie Dillard and read many snippets from her various works, this is the first of her books that I have read from cover to cover. In short it was a challenge, but a challenge that I absolutely loved! Dillard writes about the world in a way that connects the dots of life and time, from our most obscure thoughts to our humorous daily routines to our most painful realities. In the opening chapter we find a sensational description of a spider who has taken up residence in Dillard's bathroom, and of her familiarity with owls and moths. With chapter 2 comes chaos, when little Julie Norwich is burned badly in a plane crash. Dillard expresses well the deep emotion of such an experience, and puts words to the questions about God and suffering that all of us ask from time to time. In an ironic and humorous change of subject she speaks of attending church, and of her inner turmoil at being the one on a mission to buy the communion wine.

"How can I buy the communion wine? Who am I to buy the communion wine? Someone has to buy the communion wine. Having wine instead of grape juice was my idea, and of course I offered to buy it. Shouldn't I be wearing robes and, especially, a mask? Shouldn't I make the communion wine? Are there holy grapes, is there holy ground, is anything here holy? There are no holy grapes, there is no holy ground, nor is there anyone but us." (p. 63)

This fact that there is "no one but us" is the theme of the third and final chapter. With dramatic emphasis she refutes over and over our false idea that there is someone more worthy to act, someone more Godly, someone more simple and thus, more able. But there is no one but us. Dillard challenges the notion that we are "ordinary" people by painting a beautiful picture.

"Christ is being baptized. The one who is Christ is there, and the one who is John, and the dim other people standing on cobbles or sitting on beach logs back from the bay. These are ordinary people - if I am one now, if those are ordinary sheep singing a song in the pasture." (p. 66)

To read this book seemed like an intimate peek into the realities of humanities' soul, and the endless mysteries that can be found there. I just might have cried at the end, when Dillard imagines Julie Norwich with her badly burned face as a nun and implores her, "Look how he loves you!" (p. 74). A single woman herself, Dillard wishes this very special romance with God for little Julie.

"Be victim to abruptness and seizures, events intercalated, swellings of heart. You'll climb trees. You won't be able to sleep, or need to, for the joy of it. Mornings, when light spreads over the pastures like wings, and fans a secret color into everything, and beats the trees senseless with beauty, so that you can't tell whether the beauty is in the trees - dazzling in cells like yello sparks or green flashing waters - or on them - transfiguring silver air charged with the wings' invisible motion; mornings, you won't be able to walk for the power of it: earth's too round... Then you kneel, clattering with thoughts, ill, or some days erupting, some days holding the altar rail, gripping the brass-bolt altar rail, so you won't fly." (p. 75)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Teeth (Part 2)

I decided to get a second opinion about my cavity situation. Thirteen just seemed a bit fishy, and ridiculous. So a friend got me in to see his dentist friend. The news was fantastic! He took new xrays and showed me in detail what he was looking at. Three cavities, that's it!! He smiled and said, "You've been praying about this, haven't you." Nearly in tears, I nodded emphatically and wondered if it was a faux pas to hug the dentist. It would seem that contrary to what I used to think, all dentist's are NOT created equal. I'm grateful to that God cares even about little things! Oh, and the picture is NOT my teeth... but the bright red lipstick probably gave that away.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Flower Blooms...

Spring is here. The sign on the corner flashed 53 degrees in digital red letters, but I already knew. The city had come alive! Down every street in nearly every house, people emerged from their long hibernation. It was the kind of day that makes a person long to just sit barefoot on the front porch with lemonade and a good book. It was the kind of day that begged to be savored. It was the kind of day that seems to say ever so gently, "Everything is going to be just fine."

Last night I was reading from Mother Teresa's 'Come Be My Light'. In the opening pages there is a quote that resonated deep in my soul. She writes in a letter:

"Now Father-since 49 or 50 this terrible sense of loss-this untold darkness-this loneliness this continual longing for God-which gives me that pain deep down in my heart-Darkness is such that I really do not see-neither with my mind nor with my reason-the place of God in my soul is blank-There is no God in me-when pain of longing is so great-I just long & long for God-and then it is that I feel-He does not want me-He is not there-...God does not want me-Sometimes-I just hear my own heart cry out-"My God" and nothing else comes-The torture and pain I can't explain-" (pg.2)

I cannot imagine the years of utter darkness Mother Teresa felt, as she struggled with wondering why she know longer experienced God's presence. Then coming to the realization that she was living out a taste of the Passion of Christ, in order that she might gain more of His heart. This floors me, as I struggle through the process of emerging from months of my own darkness. Though whether mine has been due to the will of God or due to my own rebellion and frustration towards Him I do not know. Either way, I do feel that this struggle is all a part of purification. And if I can become more like Jesus in the process of feeling deep pain, then I do not wish for it to go away. There are still days of darkness... days where I feel that I just can't go on. But there are more days in which I feel hope. And every day I know that I need God. I need God. I ever so desperately need God.

Life for me at the moment is horrendously "normal". I work, I spend time with friends, I go to church, I watch reality shows on cable. I long for more, but feel stuck. Patience is not my strong suit. I tell my parents that for crying out loud, I'M BORED! They understand. I have my dad to thank for these adventure genes. My desire for the nations has not changed, and only grows stronger. Opportunities abound, but what is right? I need direction, and I think it's coming. Today I have spent most of the day just praying, and feel a wonderful peace that has evaded me for quite some time now. However God leads, I know it will be good. More on that soon...