Friday, May 28, 2010

Let me know if you want to contribute- we are hoping to surprise them this weekend. If we can, we are trying to find the apartments they are moving into so we can deliver the deposit directly. Braden and I went down to Connections today (an office across the street from Union Station park, which helps homeless individuals and couples find employment and housing), and they seemed to confirm what we know of the Walkers. Though they are not allowed to give personal information, the man at the front desk's face lit up when I mentioned Darren and Rhonda. They told us we should contact the Walkers directly to find out the housing information- that was our goal for today but I don't believe they checked their voicemail today (I left the message yesterday evening- my fault). 

I'll let you know how it goes! Thanks to those of you who have already communicated you'd like to help them- I'm so excited to see them blessed!!! They really are a treasure. 
Save the Date: I think I am having a graduation party, and it will be on the evening of Monday, June 14th. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I've probably posted this one before, but it's a favorite... and today more than ever it seems to fit. If I could fly away right now and sit alone on a green hill (I imagine, in Ireland), I'd be happy. Or at least happily feel whatever it is I am feeling right now... be it not happiness. 


Waiting requires a sort of processing- otherwise, we run away. 

Time for me to reposture my heart, yet again. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Just wait. 

Two words, and they are my life. If the Lord is teaching me a lesson, it is certainly this: trust me and wait. Hide and wait. Hope, and wait. 

Just wait. 

Nothing in my life is ultimately up to me (and this is not me whining, so stop reading it that way! ;) This is the truth right now. This is always the truth. But in this season, it's undeniable. I'd have to be crazy to pretend otherwise (though I still try at times). All my hopes and ideas and dreams are out of my hands. I can hope, and I can knock on the doors, but whether or not they open is not up to me. And some, I'm not even knocking on... I'm just waiting at them, because they have no door knob on the outside anyways. I'm simply waiting at them to see if maybe they do open. Because, I can't help but think that those are the doors least often tried, least often opened, and most worth sitting outside. 

Even little things that seem to be 'set' and I therefore set my hopes on.... they aren't cancelled, just postponed. I don't feel the Lord is telling me no to anything right now- or yes. He's telling me, "wait." Don't clasp your hands around it, don't try to hold on to it, don't try to figure it out, don't plan your life around it, just hope. Hoping- and waiting- and keeping your hand open and your heart soft and your desires passionate but not grasping.... that's a challenge. It's the LEAST passive, waiting I've ever imagined. It takes all of me to simply, hope and wait. 

Next year, I somewhat know what holds, but beyond that... not a clue. And when I'm honest, I don't really know what this July could look like. I have so many passions and so many hopes and I know whatever is coming is good. I know I want it to be the work of the Lord, and that He is up to something spectacular. I know that I don't want to be ordinary, and thats all my plans would be. I'm recently convinced that we all limit ourselves far too early in life- reaching for the practical and accomplishable- and that is why men do far less great things these days. Perhaps the internet and the mass communication and technology has hindered us as it's taught us what is 'common' across the globe, rather than allowing us to imagine that people are indeed spectacular and men have done great things and are doing great things still. 

I want to raise my children without those limits of 'common.' I want to raise spectacular children. I wont tell them they can do anything they desire, but I will tell them they can do something remarkable and unimaginable. I will teach them to dream- and I do mean teach because it takes training to dream. I'm in training now... hope, wait, knock and see. Don't walk away from the door just yet. Hoping is that time spent staring at a shut door- imagining what's beyond it, and believing it can open and you will one day find out what really is there. Hoping is standing there, at the yet-opened door. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

I couldn't stop smiling on Saturday. :)

Upon pulling up to the park we've spent many Fridays feeding the hungry at, Joel thought he saw the couple I'm always scanning the park for. It wasn't them. 

We collected our sandwiches and water and headed into the park. Not more than 10 minutes, and a couple came walking across the street. The gentleman smiled huge at me and said "You know who we are?" And as he started to say, I cut him off "I know who you are!" They waited..."Darren, and Rhonda Walker!" I couldn't help but smile HUGE. I have seen these two on and off over the past year, every time being so deeply impacted by their tender spirits and sincerity. Their deep trust in the Lord reaches to the roots of who they are, and spreads out across the trials they've faced. From there, that trust flows out in every word they speak. Rhonda's sweet spirit and subtle humor reminds me of my godmother. I can't help but love this woman. 

They had just returned from looking at the apartment they are preparing to move into, and they were beaming as they showed us the form and told us all about it! It has been a two-year long process for them of waiting... one which we have gotten to walk through the past year of in a small way. I've been praying for them, not as fervently as I should... but they are in my heart. And seeing their joy and excitement- I was infected!!! 

Oh Lord- the sweetness of YOU. That He allowed us to see them, to cross paths, yet again. To share testimonies, to encourage one another. Darren prayed with the boys and Rhonda asked to pray over Madison and I. They are always looking to bless and to give out- themselves having lost what the world would call "everything." But they don't call it that. They just testify to the Lord's faithfulness to them and their children. 

I love them. I love the Lord more for them. I can't recommunicate all that was said- and it wouldn't be as powerful if you couldn't see her face. 

They are moving in to this new place, and they didn't say to me that they still need more of the move-in fee (they have never asked us for anything- we've had to ask THEM how we could bless them), but I believe it came across to Braden during the prayer that they still need some of it (I think).  Regardless... I want to bless them. I have Rhonda's voicemail number, and a number of us young people who have been going down there from time to time (and especially those who have had the opportunity to speak with the Walkers) are going to pull together what money we can and bless them with a chunk of their move-in fee (I believe it is $324). If you want to join in: text, message, or call me. :) If not, no worries- I just wanted to extend the opportunity to you all. 

I love the Lord's faithfulness, and I love His people who can walk through the pain and doubt and still declare, "He is faithful" and minister to others. We walked into the park thinking we would minister to those 'in more need' and every time we have run into the Walkers we have walked away thinking, "wow. wow. thank you God for that blessing!" Rhonda's prayer for Madison and I was that we would never forget who we were, or the faithfulness of Father, through every situation we walk through. Her life has already been speaking that into my heart for the past year. 

Hopefully you will all get to meet them soon, they are planning to come to CCK. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

So, funny story. The girl who was going to cover my shift this morning so I could stay up late and also spend this morning finishing my thesis. Well, she spent the night by her toilet- I woke up to a phone call at 4:40am asking if I could come in after all. I could...and did. I think she got the worse end of the deal. 

The upside of having to work this morning was I knew my manager was going to be receiving an award, "Manager of the Quarter." I don't think I realized how big of a deal it was though- around 8 am our district manager and some 20 others came strolling in with flowers, balloons, cards and lots of cheering. Apparently he was selected from among some hundred stores. 

It's bitter sweet- we've all come to like him a lot, and he actually DOES deserve that award I believe. He spent a month running our store, and another so that the manager of that store could take some time off to grieve and process the death of her husband. Other managers from our district had taken a couple weeks to help as well, but while he was there he actually ran it like he cared. He interviewed and hired new employees. He tried to implement new policies to improve the store. He had some of us over there each week helping out, and helping him observe the store and how it could be improved. And ultimately we've found, he's a good guy. 

For me personally, he's encouraged me and offered me the opportunity to step into roles of leadership that I actually care to take. He's always bringing in new coffees for me to try, and making me new exciting drinks. He allowed me to go through the black apron process. And he's done extra little things like invite me to go along with him to corporate for a coffee roasting. 

So, why is this bitter sweet? 

He's leaving. His plan has been to get into the accounting department at corporate, and he has. It came faster than even he expected, and I know we are all excited for him. But, this means going through the process of getting to know a new manager, and them getting to know us. It means a lot of re-learning, and re-adjusting. And, it means uncertainty about the character and personality that will soon be leading our store. 

It would be easier to bear, if Theresa were not leaving as well. Theresa, our un-assistant-store-manager really helps our store to run. She's finally getting promoted to the role she's been playing ever since she has come to our store and this is not one person at out store (and probably the Kirkland district) who is not excited for her to receive it- she's worked so hard, and helped everyone in some way or another. Yet, seeing our two store leaders leave in one summer.... it has me quite sad. I am so ridiculously sentimental. I almost cried at work today... because I was happy for Aaron, and sad. 

I don't like seeing people come into my life- in any role- and then leave. I think this is one reason why the line from MacDonald's Phatastes is always so dear to my heart, "Perhaps her life will be the sweeter for holding now within it the memory of what came, but could not stay." (from memory... could be off slightly..) How many times have I spoken this to my heart, it can't be counted. But, change is good. And good is coming. 

Congratulations T and Aaron- you are both so wonderful, and such a blessing to CP. 

(T- glad we did become more than coworkers... because now I get to keep my friend.) :) 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

To all of you praying for my Thesis right now, thank you. 

I am finally feeling like the strands are starting to come together. Now, I just need some astonishing conclusion that extends my claims beyond what others have thought or seen. 

I am at page 21. I have been saying that for a couple days- but I just had to go through and reformat and I lost a couple more pages.. so it really is good that I am BACK at 21 pages. The expectation is 20-30 pages. I have been less worried about page numbers than about what I actually have to accomplish. I didn't feel like I had really created a coherent argument at all with the second part of my paper, now I do. I finished the close reading and tied the two parts together- South African Apartheid imagery of childbirth and French Revolution/Romantic imagery of childbirth/death. 

Tonight/ tomorrow morning I need to write the conclusion, format the citations and finish the annotated bibliography. Then, I will carry out an edit, and print. :) 

If I have time tomorrow, I might end up reading a couple more sources I've wanted to see if I can include as well to bulk up my arguments. If not, I will include them on the next round. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Procrastination: the great over-achiever. 

I am always amazed by what I can get done, when I am putting off an assignment. Yesterday, I cleaned my (clean) room, vacuumed, did a load of laundry (towels... mine was already done, I've had a week of this remember). I stopped myself when I began redecorating and rearranging. Then, I decided to upload all the pics from Elsa's memory card and export some to facebook.

This morning: worked a shift at Starbucks, made coffee for dad, cleaned the bathroom, doing another load of laundry, checked facebook, and am about to go for a run (and it's not yet 11am). Procrastination, it is the best friend of progress and the enemy of discipline. 

As Jon Pinkston reminded me weekly through my two years of SLT, "Discipline is doing what you ought to be doing, when you ought to be doing it." 

Yet, to confess.... I need mental breaks (and exercise!) or I'll go crazy in this project... and if I must take breaks, I'd prefer they be productive ones that make my room and bathroom clean and orderly. Cleaning: the way a Kelly girl handles stress. (Also, sleeping. And for me, exercise.)
I swear, my room never looks so great as during midterms and finals!  ;) 

[You can now add blogging to the list of Procrastination's achievements this morning!]

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I'm reading through some South African poetry, a poet recommended by my Professor, Laura Chrisman. She did not recommend it as a delightful read, in fact her exact words were "It is very painful to read." She did not mean it is poor writing, she suggested it to me because the content is graphic and it most closely reaches into the literary trends I am examining in times of political crisis. Thus far though, I have been amazed. I might even be a fan. His poetry is indeed painful, but it also carries some hope. It carries a memory of paradise, and a desire to return. It doesn't shy from the truth, it hangs the decrepit, rotting nature of things right in your face. Here is one of his poems, entitled Rap 3:

On the walls of present memory 
hang hand-faded portraits of harmony
when ar another man could still smile
not shy away as from bile
when man's growth was vertical
the abundance of life was radical
when streams still ran cool
& the devil could only drool
when rivers still sustained
before they turned bloodstained
before the crimson downpour
had vampires in drunken stupor
when man had calabashesful of joy-drink
& the land was pure of corpses' stink
when mothers' hearts still sand
as over hill & valley children's laughter rang
when man was man
& morality was not under ban
when life was dear
& each word was clear
before law meant crook
& justice was an open book
before home meant prison
& reason means treason
before some slept in beds of clover
while others trampled the world over
searching for compassion in distant lands
they couldn't find at their own countrymen's hands
before from a tree man started to dangle
as nothing more than a bangle
this world's sorry decoration
long gone out of fashion
god if I partook of Jesus' flesh-bread
could I too raise the dead

-Lesego Rampolokeng, Horns for Hondo

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Feeling protected, is amazing. 

Thank you God for the men in my life. Now, let me learn to trust YOU even more as my protector and defender. But for now, thank you for placing towers around me. Thank you for fathers, uncles, godfathers, and brothers. Thank you for the the feeling that comes at the simple revelation that you are loved, cared for, and that you are watched out for. Thank you. 
If you are reading this, please pray. 

Thank you. 

I'm working on my thesis, and it is going alright... but I am not hitting that greater revelatory moment I need to hit to make this paper work... and really brilliant. Right now, it's nothing grand, nothing new, just a paper. 

I know God has something new to say through this, I just am trying to discover what it is...

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm on the UCLA grad school website, looking at the application process. I'm day dreaming... about life and hopes and the future, all the 'doors' ahead. And I'm feeling more aware than ever of what it really means to say, "Lord, all my hopes are in You." 

If you can accomplish your dreams on your own... they probably aren't worth living for. I want to be spent up on something that my life can't afford, I want to be poured out into something that my life can't fill up on it's own. Pressed down, shaken up, and pouring over....
One week 'til my rough draft of my senior thesis is due. One week. 

Friday, May 07, 2010

Driving to work this morning at 4am, down a near-empty 405... I watched something bright and beautiful and fierce shoot across the velvet blue sky. I hesitate to call it a meteor, but a 'shooting star' just doesn't do what I saw justice. It was HUGE. Visible fire cutting through the fabric of the sky. Incredible. I haven't seen anything quite like it since my dad and my's meteor shower. Enchanting. 

Thank you God. 

Not only that, but last night I got into bed, looked at the clock and it was 11:11. I giggled at the little girl fancy, "11:11, make a wish." I first I didn't wish. Then, I wished that I'd love the Lord more, more than anything or anyone else... that I'd make Him my only wish. I thought little of it.

But this morning, the shooting star. Then, a moment later my ipod (on random) selected a song (i love!), that was speaking of shooting stars- and wishing. And Toni's (Rosemary) words from a couple nights ago in a prayer over me began to play through my mind.... something about wishing and trusting, and hope. 

In short, I'm not much of a 'wisher' by nature (a 'dreamer'- undoubtably), but I think the Lord is telling me to 'wish.' Wishing has always been too passive for me, too 'wish-washy' and lazy... the lazy man's hope. 

A song I love right now includes a line, where the Lord says, "It's quite a mess you're in, but it's nothing Love can't fix. Sit here on my shoulders and watch it all unwind." 

Isn't that it? 'Sit here on my shoulders. Wish, and watch Me unwind it all...'

A few years back, the Lord gave me an image while I was painting at a service- I was staring down a well and I heard Him whisper, "What do you wish for?" And then a bright light shot up from the bottom of the well, a bright light from the deep and dark. An answer from the uncertainty, helplessness, pain... whatever the exact case for you, a light has come into the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.  Keep staring down that dark well- be courageous- don't fear to face those deep places- a covered well is a deadly danger. Hear His voice? "What do you wish for?" I know you feel you are working, striving, fighting to hold on to faith and trust and hope- but wish, and re-posture your heart and mind to know that HE is going to accomplish 'it.' Wish. A bright light will come, it will break out from the darkness, it will overcome; it will fill the well, flood it, and then escape it! Maybe this darkness is exactly what is needed for us to finally answer that question, out loud, to ourselves and to Father: "What do you wish for? Child, what do you WANT? Where are your desires? In this night, what do you seek? Where do your tears fall?" 

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I think running opens my heart. :) 

Or maybe it just forces me to stop doing everything else for a while- and listen, and process. Whatever the case, I find it incredible that exercising makes our entire body and spirit and soul seem better- it makes us well. I find it incredible that God created us that way- to be most alive in this strange activity that combines labor, play and rest... and that there, He speaks to my heart and opens up new thoughts to my mind. 

I can let go when I run. I can trust Him. I can accept that I can't do it- but that in my weakness, He will be strong for me. 

Today, I finally got something: I am faithful, not because I am faithful. I am faithful, because He lives in me and through me- and He is faithful

His love never fails. So trust. He will win this battle when the day is done. 
I'm still a sinner, still. 

But I'm marked by grace. 

Sometimes you cry out for God's fire, because you feel so alive and 'great' and you feel you're ready for it. Other times, you cry out when you don't feel ready for it- and you are pretty sure it's going to ruin you, but you're desperate to be consumed.... because you don't want what you are, you want Him. 

I don't know how it happened, but I looked down and saw I was holding onto my own life again. How easily we grasp at what was never meant to be our own- a life laid down. Dead with Christ, and alive IN Him. That's how I remember it, but somehow, I appear to have forgotten again. 

Lord, take it back. I'll only ruin it and make ashes from the beauty You've been faithfully creating. My life is not my own. Dream through me, love through me, speak through me... return to this tomb I call my heart, because without you there is no light and nothing beautiful grows in the dark. 

Give me grace to obey, in every moment. Give me grace to accept Your love, when I feel undeserving. Let me seek You, and all Your ways. 

Monday, May 03, 2010

I think I need a sunrise. 
Always, I see the setting sun. 
Always, I relish the dusk. 
But I need a little reminder.
I need to see a new dawn,
I need to see colors that whisper, "awake" 
And promise, promises are on the way. 
Only, wait. 

I slept a LOT last night (and I say 'night' loosely). And somewhere in the midst of the hours, I had a thought. You know the verse in Song of Solomon where the Beloved says, "I slept, but my heart was awake"? I find that to be one of the truest statements lately. I feel my heart never sleeps as of late, and on occassion when the rest of me is just drifting between sleep and awake, my heart whispers little secrets to me. 

Last night, my heart must have been long-pondering the skies, for all the sudden, I was aware of it pouring out the lists of the promises God has made with people, through the skies. He promised Noah, then gave him the rainbow as a reminder. He told Abraham to look up at the night sky, and promised him more than the stars. Jacob, he wrestled under the moon, and gave him a dream of a staircase to the heavens. (maybe that one's a stretch, but I don't think it's too big to claim... my heart certainly didn't last night.) 

My heart was thinking of the Lord- the promise of the coming sun, the coming morn.
David thought often of it too- he'd awaken the dawn with his praises. He'd liken the Lord to the rising sun. He saw the faithfulness of the Lord in the morning moments. 

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night. 
Psalm 92: 1-2

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90:12-14

I'm waiting on the dawn. I'm waiting on His promises. And tonight, I'm wrecked by His love, His faithfulness, His grace and forgiveness, the nearness of Him while I wait through the night and all its unknowing

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Humbling: He gives away freely, something more costly than anything I have ever earned, owned or deserved. 

Love. Grace. Freedom. Redemption. Relationship. Intimacy. 
I came across a cool blog today. As I scrolled down, it grew on me more and more. Here are some of my favorite recent posts from I Wrote This For You:

The Songs We Sing 
Somewhere, someone knows the words to the songs you sing.

The Crossing Out 
You always write down the things you need to do, rather than the things you've already done.

You've got it backwards.

The Overgrown
Fill yourself up on the things around you. Until you're bursting.

And then let them lose upon the page.

The Quickly
You could end it now. Tear it off and be done with it. But it will heal slower.

The end need not be so bitter.