Sunday, December 26, 2010

Looking ahead to the 16+ hour drive back to school this year, it crossed my mind that if it were possible to teleport my car there, I would. It's all gorgeous mountain driving, and I really don't mind the view. It's not like the prairies where if it were legal to set your cruise, an alarm and fall asleep at the wheel, you could. (corn, corn, soy, corn corn, corn, COWS, corn, corn, corn...)  I tried to figure out the heart behind my desire to get out of the drive. Is it laziness? Fear? What it boils down to is really frustration that the world doesn't revolve around me, but that's another story. There's impatience in my heart, not content to trust that God's timing (the 16+ hours it will take my car to get there) is what is required of me. So many places in my life I find the same impatience, always wanting to be at the next stage of my life without living the one I'm in. Just wanting to be back to school. Just wanting to be done with my degree. Just wanting to be serving somewhere else, better than where I am. Just wanting to be married. The list goes on. But there's a reason that between point A (where I am) and point B (where I will be), there's a road to travel. This road, these experiences, produce perseverance. This road is a gift that I need to steward well. So I'm praying that God continues to soften my selfish heart, and remind me of his faithfulness. He  will complete what he has begun.


Today, there was a particularly glorious sunrise. Something I've recently discovered is that as a result of being a nanny and not having to filter my eccentricity for nine months, I sing much more. Because my mind works by association, words remind me of other words, but more often, a word or phrase reminds me of a song. The fact that I've had this stuck in my head all day is a prime example.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Smooth and cold
scattered on the sand
begging to be thrown 
or taken home.
Your brothers and sisters
brighten the shore, 
glimmering in the evening light;
a family at peace. 

(written long ago when someone dared me to write a poem about a rock)

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Recently, I've really felt the truth of the words, "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun". It's that sort of postmodern silence; the realization that everything we write is really just a parody, or at best a rearranging of what's already been said. But combined with the challenge of proclaiming to the next generation the glorious works of our God, it makes sense. The story repeats because there is really only one story, conceived with the creation of the world. Let's be storytellers, my friends.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Swingin' at the Donkey.

I recently was asked to do an interview for my university newspaper, "Balaam's Donkey", and had the privilege of getting to work with a dear friend. Here are some excerpts from the article (read: I'm too busy this month to sit down and write any more than I already have ). It was good to have to write in a more formal style than I typically do here, though a bit frustrating. I've grown accustomed to using the words I like to say what I want, and it's hard for me to hear/see my writing style come out in this piece. It seems a bit...well, dry, but not in a "dry humor" sort of way (if you're reading this, Michelle, I don't blame you for editing it. ;)  ). A penny for your thoughts; if it helps, play some classic big band in the background while you read: 

Devoted readers of this fine newspaper are no doubt already familiar with Joshua Aitkenhead, the VP of Spiritual Life for Ambrose Student Council. But in addition to his heart for the Lord and desire to see others grow in faith, Joshua also has a passion for spreading joy through swing dancing, and I had the privilege of hearing about how he hopes to share all three with the Ambrose community. But what is swing dancing?

Traditionally done in rotating pairs, swing is a social dance. Rather than being itself a type of dance, swing combines many dances from the 1920s through to the 1940s such as the Lindy hop, the Charleston, Blues, Balboa and Jazz dancing. While the dancers are required to hold hands, swing is comparably low contact, using open formation, as opposed to the closed formation of other more traditional social dances. The eclectic nature of the dance, the simple core step, and the steady backbeat of the music allow for significant freedom and creativity, as well as being forgiving to people who are still learning. After declining in popularity through the 1960s, swing, or neo-swing, made a comeback in urban centers in the late 1990s and seems to once again be here to stay. Calgary is no exception, and swing has also caught the interest of some Ambrose students, Joshua in particular.

Kelsey: “How long have you been dancing, and what made you decide to start?”
Joshua: “Well, I went to my first actual swing dance event last November and started taking lessons at the UofC in January. I've wanted to do swing dancing since my freshman year, but I never had anyone to go with; last year a good friend told me about this (Swing Dance Calgary) and invited me along, so I went.”

Kelsey: “Why swing?”
Joshua: “It just looked fun. Besides I do like to suit up and swing dance encourages that! Also a lot of other types of dances were just too intimate.”

Kelsey: “I have heard you are hoping to start up a Swing Dance club at Ambrose, what do you envision for this potential club, and why have one here?”
Joshua: “Well, first off, I want to spread the love of dance to the students of Ambrose.
Dancing is not only a great way to socialize and work out, but also a great way to have fun without spending a lot of money. Secondly, I want to have people see that dancing can be done as worship and can teach us about our relationship with God. I long for the days when God will lead me perfectly in a wonderful dance where I can show off His majesty without taking away what He has made me to be. Ask me how I feel when I dance.”

Kelsey: “Um...Joshua, how do you feel when you dance?”
Joshua: “I feel like I am living out a beautiful existence. I feel like I am doing something for the woman I am dancing with in that when I execute a move she ends up looking great and I am overwhelmed by the smile that appears on her face. Because it means that whatever is going on right now in her life, she is happy in that moment, and whatever is going on in my life, I am happy that I brought joy to someone else!”

Kelsey: “Why should students care about this group?”
Joshua: “Why? Students should care for a couple reasons: One, not all of us can sing and yet music is prevalent in our worship services. Sometimes I just dance in order to worship in a service (or at least bob up and down). Secondly, dancing is one of the things that are mentioned in the Bible as being a legit worship experience, but Christians often seem to say it’s wrong. I believe Jesus wants to redeem dancing to what it was supposed to be! And most importantly, it’s a lot of fun!”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Beauty (and Bane) of Blogging

Think about it. Before this age in history, you needed to convince someone to publish you, or have the ability to do it yourself, to spread your ideas to the world. Well, that or you stood on street corners and yelled. But those people were looked down on. Rabble-rousers. Being quiet and decent was apparently not good enough for them. Even with newspapers, your voice only carries as far as the paper can (and papers come in handy for many things. Hats, brooches, pterodactyls...). Not to mention the cost of publishing. But welcome to the 21st century, where I can see updates of my friend's newborn daughter on the other side of the world while getting live updates of weather (though really, how hard can it be to be a meteorologist in Seattle? "Well, today will be between 40 and 70 F, partly cloudy with a chance of rain"). Provided I've got internet connection, which is still free at libraries in my corner of the world, I could theoretically always be communicating with this strange new online world. And in this world, any of us with a basic computer understanding can write whatever we like and send it to the masses. Our sphere of influence has suddenly increased exponentially, as well as what can have influence over us. We have truly phenomenal access to information in this age. I can search for somewhere I've never been and see pictures of each intersection I have to cross to get there, without leaving my chair and still manage to get lost driving.

Of course, the beauty is that now there's a chance to hear the stories of people who, quite frankly, are ordinary. We get to see the plain exposed in a new light, the everyday told in an unfamiliar way. There's a glorious mess of voices out there, all clamoring for our attention. So many of us writing, some to be noticed, some to promote a cause, some to vent, some to vent about those who are venting, some to complain about people who write sentences without proper structure. As Aristotle says," Democracy arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because all men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal"; such is the view of writing. Suddenly, there is no filter on what is available, and irrelevant, irreverent writing abounds (of course, that happened long before the internet). Writing is art, and all of us who are literate, artists. Wordsmiths. Blogging just gives us another medium.

Just some thoughts. A suggestion for curing boredom: search quotes on democracy (or any subject, for that matter).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What is it about foreign things that scare Americans so? For a country populated mostly by immigrants, we seem very quickly to forget our roots. And though we have a poor grasp of our own language, we're very quick to judge other people for knowing less than we do, forgetting that it's not their native tongue. Next time you get impatient with the clerk who is mixing up her verb tenses, by all means, try speaking to her in her first language. We are a people, seeking to distance ourselves from the old world and become new, who have created a culture devoid of grace. No doubt, there is "American" culture. It has a lot to do with the concept of lifestyle. Much of the world can hardly afford to live, let alone choose what they look like while doing it. It is an immense blessing that even the poorest among us has rights, and the ability, through effort, to live and work relatively as they please (I realize this is oversimplified, but as compared to much of the world, this is true). We're just so afraid of being perceived as weird, fearful of things we don't understand and unwilling to expend any effort to explore something new. At no point in history were the greatest nations and prevailing cultures the only ones of interest, yet many Americans act as if ours is, by inherent right of being ours, the best civilization that has ever been. That we are a superpower is too obvious to contest, and I feel immensely blessed to have been born into the nation I was. Otherwise, I couldn't be complaining about it. ;) 

All this to say, I got into an interesting discussion about why I listen to foreign music. "You can't understand it, why listen?" was the main point on the opposing side. For one thing, music is sound, conveying more than merely the meaning of words. But even the words have a music to them. Words are sounds. What is poetry? Musical writing, conveying emotions. You dare to claim that music that "sounds weird" to you isn't worth listening to? Fine. Stay in your little world. But I live in a world that isn't mass produced in California and worn by obnoxious suburban white kids. A world with bizarre beauty and sweet suffering. A world where some people are just not attractive, but they are loved instead of mocked. A world where Christ came to seek and save the lost from every tribe, tongue and nation. How can we love our brothers and sisters if we totally ignore them, or worse, look down on them because they're not "like us"? Get off your western high horse and go love your neighbor. Listen to some world music, or if that's too far out, try this. My nanny kiddos absolutely love it. Seriously, it's on repeat.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How to lose weight without really trying.


 Levothyroid. I've lost 3 pounds in a week doing absolutely nothing different other than taking a daily pill*. They actually come with a warning because that's a common side effect; it makes sense really, considering it's increasing my metabolism. As annoying as it is to have to wake up, take my meds, and wait 30 minutes before eating, this is a useful side effect. Still waiting for the part where I'm not cold all the time. I have yet to know why exactly my body needs to take these in the first place, but hopefully when the lab results are back in and my ultrasound is done, I'll know what the source of the problem is. For now, it's enough to know that God's in control, and it's a nice reminder that I'm still going to die someday anyway. Thank God! Immortality on this earth would be misery beyond description.

On a completely different note, my most recent musical acquisition: the Japanese electropop group "Perfume", apparently popular among gay people in Japan (in a Lady Gaga-esque way). Yes, I know the vocals are autotuned. Yes, I have translated the lyrics, and though clean, they're not mind-blowingly deep. But they're so unashamedly cute and feminine, and it makes good background music. Blame it on the drugs. ;)

(*disclaimer: These were legitimately prescribed for me by my doctor upon discovery that I was hypothyroid. On her advice, I am taking these and carefully watching my weight)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

On a way of life...and a bit of china.

Spending time away from school has given me a chance to really reflect on what I gleaned from my classes; what was helpful, what was miserable, and what I wish I had tried harder on. Ideally, it will assist me as I plan out my courses for January and will improve my school experience. I'm sure I've grown out of all my bad study habits. That's how these things work, right?  And lo and behold, in glorious retrospect, I've come to realize that the core requirements for my school are actually quite helpful (with the exception of Intro.Sociology...that was mildly interesting, but useless). Whatever your major, you need to know what's been done; study history. You need to know how to think and reason ; study philosophy. You need to know how people work and process things; study psychology. You need to communicate your thoughts effectively; study English. You need to know how the world works; study science. "Art washes away the dust of everyday life" and enables us to feel pretentious, so we study fine arts. And in the unique case of my school, you need to know the Word, so you study theology. But you don't study all these things so you can add to your pile of hats, switching between disciplines like changing clothes. Each subject adds to and completes your ensemble (with the exception of the Word...obviously of greater importance than all the wisdom of the world). Besides that, it's a helpful image for me of how learning should be complementary. Having to grapple with opposing ideas and theories, learning how to allow for individual difference, and realizing just how enormous the world is and how small you are, really changes your perspective. 

Speaking of feeling small...On my never-ending quest for sea glass, I was beach combing and found this bit of porcelain. Who dropped a dish, when? Did it get thrown overboard? Has anyone else found this, or is it the first time it's washed up? This rectangular piece of stone with random metal in it. What IS it. Who knows if I'll ever know? It's probable I'll never figure it out. But God not only knows, he wrote their stories. Every stone on that beach, every creature skipping in the seaweed, every molecule of water. How can that not be mindblowing? Author of creation. Easy to say, but impossible to fathom. Everything that is, from the natural world, to what we've "created" is known and sovereignly directed by God, the epitome of holism. Want to be well-balanced? Become like Him. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Yes, it's a dated music video, but I love the song. There are few artists I know who possess such technical skill and achieve such success while retaining a poet's soul and love of exploring new (and in Sting's case, old) types of music. I will listen to his Christmas album year round without shame. One of many artists I wish was saved, because he would make the best worship songs ever. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Retrospect: backward thinking at its best.

I wish I could have captured the smell too...nothing like a misty morning rose. 
Ironically enough, I've been neglecting my blog, not because I have nothing to say, but because every time I sit down to write, a million disconnected thoughts swirl around wanting to be communicated. I end up staring at the screen trying to summarize my mental millieu and realizing that I ought to sleep.What is there left to be said that hasn't been already? What do I have to add? Nothing. And that's ok. Besides, most people have no concept and history and haven't read any classics. They'll never realize that my writing is unoriginal. ;)

I started this blog in 2008 because frankly, I was bored and needed a creative outlet. Now that two years have passed, it's interesting to look back at how my life has changed, to see how God's worked in my life and family in ways I'd never have imagined or chosen. In retrospect, all my experiences have been preparing me for where I've been led, without fail. You'd think there was some sovereign God graciously foreordaining my life or something.

In all my musings, it was interesting to see the role music has played in my life, how certain artists were on repeat in certain seasons, or even how much easier it is for me to remember lyrics to hundreds of songs than the current ages of my family. Recently, I've discovered a rather logical link between what I listen to prior to going to bed and what I wake up thinking about. The odds are fairly good that if I listen to a song, I'll wake up with it running through my head, even if I don't fall asleep thinking about it (the only exception is Linkin Park...for some reason, they seem to be my default mental soundtrack. Beats me).

...and, the point of this post. Right. The past matters, the present is important, and we need to be proactive about the legacy we're leaving. The people in your life right now are the people that God has put there. The ones that annoy you, the ones you love, the ones you admire, the ones you always feel awkward around, the weird relatives, they're the neighbors you're called to love ( Luke 10: 27). And I feel sorely that I have not been the mirror of Christ that I ought to have been to the people in my life. It's so tempting to live in the moment and keep telling myself that I'll go evangelize and love everyone when I've got the time, or when I'm fully trained (whenever that happens). But I already have the gospel. I have a heartbeat. That's enough. And I don't necessarily need to go to the ends of the earth, I may just be called to go to the end of my street. They need Jesus too! But it's too familiar, too close to home, for me to recognize it for the opportunity it is. So see the opportunities God's given you in your life and be a doer. Soak in the glorious gift of his word and be refreshed, hear his promises and testify to how he's been faithful in your life. What higher calling is there?

Monday, September 27, 2010

When painting and calligraphy are combined, it's fairly easy to view a work and imagine you could do better. By all means, please do so. So often I see or hear of something and find myself mentally improving on it. This is one of the beauties of living in a highly creative area; it brings out a sort of competitive side to typically mellow artist-types. And with the internet, you don't even have to live anywhere near anyone else to feel that pressure to create something better, just because you can. 

Though I wouldn't call myself a perfectionist, I do fairly constantly feel a desire to "fix" things (though I'm not sure how else a perfectionist is defined). I tend towards the mentality that everything can (and therefore should) be beautiful as well as functional. For example, food is necessary for life, but more appetizing if aesthetically pleasing. Hence the whole premise of Epicute. One really doesn't have to spend too much time with a person to know where they stand on this. It's a spectrum, as many things are, and the Japanese do a laudable job of balancing the concepts of beauty and functionality in essentially all aspects of their culture. Our God created a world of beauty, full of things that don't need to be. Really, none of this needs to be. But it is. It has reason and purpose, merely by existing. The world looks different through that lens. If we really believe that even "mistakes" have beauty, how do we treat people who, frankly, are unattractive to society? Can we see the wonder in creation? Will we stop trying to manicure our lawns and let them reflect the climate we live in? (sorry, pet peeve)

To summarize, musing and ranting late at night on a caffeine-free day makes for posts that follow meandering trains of thought.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In the month, I've suddenly been prone to burst into tears in the midst of conversations. On average, it happens at least half a dozen times a week. I have no idea why. As usual, I blame hormones/sleep deprivation/something in my eye, etc. But God is good. And sovereign over whatever thing it is that makes me cry this time, from talking about child abuse, to hearing some beautiful music. It's a hearty blow to my pride, because let's face it: crying just looks weak. It shows my failure to control my emotions in the socially appropriate way I'd prefer. If someone asks me if I'm alright, I might actually have to explain what's going on instead of being able to convince them that "I'm fine".  The ironic part, most of the time, I actually am fine, I'm just having a moment. Guess that's what living with girls does to you.  =)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thoughts on obedience at work...

The lesson is hard
but oh, it is good;
to do what we are told
when we should.

No ifs ands or buts
proud justification cease!
Trust God is in control;
follow your Sovereign's lead.

Be called a fool;
be thought a child;
in submission is freedom,
slavery's wild.

P.S. Yes, I just sat and tried to make sense of the meter of this "poem"...Better go squelch the formalist in me with some more chocolate.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why yoga?

"Royal Dancer" pose...someday, I'll be able to do both hands on my ankle. And pigs will fly. 
1. Because you never know when you'll need to do this. 
2.  I can have a killer workout and feel sore without really ever getting out of breath or disgustingly sweaty. 
3. I can do it alone or with others, here, there, and everywhere (in a box, with a fox, in a house, with a mouse, on a boat, with a goat, in the dark, on a train, in the rain...)
4. Cost of yoga equipment =  $10. Benefits of doing regular exercise = more energy, flexibility, muscle tone...broken record, I know, but that whole "eat well and exercise" thing isn't that far out.

Of course, I'm not very orthodox in my yoga. I mean, playing swing music and dancing in the middle of an ashtanga vinyasa is hardly clearing your mind. The focus on coordinating breathing and movement has been helpful, and really, it's just more fun to work out this way. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I write this, sitting in the back of a "train", having to give up my sticky note ticket to my little conductor every few minutes as he returns to the other side of the couch to drive. Apparently, we're going to visit Elmo. Just an average Thursday, really. Only this time, I had the foresight to actually bring something to write on.

Grey fall skies have a surprising beauty, the air is crisp and sweet. And only in Washington does one's lawn and garden look more green in September than it does in May. It's rather bizarre, for the first time I can remember, these seasonal changes aren't welcoming me back to school. Funny how even though I've known this was coming all summer, it's still striking me as odd. And truth be told, I miss it sorely. On one level, it's helpful to know, because once I graduate, I'm going to have to find some other way to meet that intellectual need in my life other than academics. For now, my creativity is being tested as I try to find things to read and write as a challenge And more honestly, my perseverance is tested as I try to actually apply myself to do what I come up with and not just laze around when I get off work.

Sitting around last night, it really occurred to me what an effect living with a temporary mindset can have; how knowing that I'm leaving soon has really brought out the worst of my natural introversion. Sometimes, I don't want to meet new people just because they'll just be more people I'm never going to be around. More people to miss. But the fact of the matter remains, if  we're believers, it's never "goodbye", but always "see you later". That's been a great encouragement of late, and a reminder to make what little time I have in each place count. What am I leaving behind? And yesterday, I got a glimpse of the answer.

I was talking to my boss, who attends the small group at house where I live, and she mentioned something about the "Kelsey bird" with a knowing grin. Unfortunately, it would seem I was the only person who had no idea who or what the Kelsey bird was, so I had to ask. Embarrassed, she explained that at small group last night, a friend of mine had shared about how one night, I had asked her if she was really going to let frosting steal her joy (long story). So now, when she's tempted to be frustrated in a circumstance, she gets a "Kelsey bird" on her shoulder that asks her if she's going to let it rob her of her joy in Christ. Granted, my first thought was much more akin to mortification at hearing that this was shared in front of a "small group" of about 40 people I don't really know than joy at hearing people rise up and call me blessed. But on reflection, I realized that by the grace of God, I'm being a blessing. If that's all that they remember about me, if that's what they learn from my life, that's more than enough! So I'm a pestering bird. I'd rather parrot the words of Christ than be a noisy gong.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Why working with little boys rocks.

Today, I got paid to catch a frog and share the marvels of creation with a small child. I may possibly be spending his naptime playing with said frog. No way to tell, really.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


"She was sure they could amuse themselves for one hour. “After all", she mused, “between the few of them, they should have some imagination to entertain themselves”. It was settled, then. With one last furtive glance, she clasped her coat around her collarbone and snuck out the front door, gingerly releasing the knob to stifle the sound. Her shoulders curled inward, trying in vain to fight the chill of a bitter November evening as she walked en pointe down the stony path".

To explain: I often can't sleep because I have a hard time turning off my thoughts. Simply put, my body is an early riser and my mind seems to think it's a night the other night, after my body had finally won out and fallen asleep, my mind decided to wake me up with the afore-written lines. Why? Beats me. But I wasn't able to sleep until I finally got out of bed and wrote them down. Literally. Trust me, I tried for over half an hour to ignore it because I thought it was absurd. The worst part is, while it intrigues me, I'm torn about actually developing the thought. I'm not sure I want to create a work of fiction. But it looks like I started to. In my sleep. Ah, the bizarre life of an English major. ;) 

On owning a Jeep...

When I imagined what my first car would be, I always pictured something like this: 
Yes, that's a wooden spoiler. Add some bumper stickers/duct tape and this baby's ready to roll...just let me shift to neutral. Ok, now push...
Naturally then, it's been a real blessing to have a car that not only runs, but runs well and is in phenomenal shape. My brothers and I are vainly trying to come up with a name for it, which led us to question: are all ships/cars/planes/vehicles necessarily girls? Because I would tend to give it a female name, but apparently Jeeps are too rugged for that. Who knew? In any case, I'm already enjoying making memories in it. Recently with the  90°F+/32.22°C+ weather, the lack of AC has been felt, but it's just meant that I get to share my eclectic musical taste with all of the highlands. One gentleman in a truck the other day decided to share a particular finger with me while I was stuck at a light playing some Sean Kingston. The best glances, however, come when I'm blasting the public classical station (NPR for the win!).   
Recently, in talking to a good friend of mine, we were talking about our struggle for contentment in what seems to us to be difficult situations. To paraphrase, she summarized a particularly hard story by saying, " I've come to the realization that God has given me 100% of what I need for the day"(smiles). Period. This not only led me to thank God for the people like her in my life, but to reflect on how radically different my life could look if I really lived like I believed that was true. I'm a planner, and if I'm not mapping out my goals for the next year, I'm slacking. How is one to balance what wisdom there is in organization with James 4:13-17? What if, instead of whining about being tired, I realized that God has already given me the strength I need? If, rather than wallowing in self-pity, I spent the gift of my time in serving others for the sake of the Gospel? 

Tu eres todo poderoso; eres grande y majestuoso; eres fuerte, invensible; y no hay nadie como tu.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On a lighter note...

Recently, I've been utilizing naptime at work to get some extra devotional time in, so I've been bringing my Bible to work. Today, I had the older boy on my lap and he saw it sitting on the table and wanted to read. I let him have it, and as he was flipping through it, holding it upside down, etc. I was explaining how this was a special book about Jesus. Suddenly, his eyes lit up. He flipped to 2 Kings and stabs a chubby finger at the page. "This is a story about Jesus", he blurts out excitedly. He continues flipping at random, repeating his affirmation in all sorts of other parts of scripture. While literally speaking he was incorrect, I couldn't help but smile at how simple it was for this little boy to get the Truth of the Bible: It's all about Christ, whether it's pointing to his coming, describing his life, or detailing "how then we should live" until his return in glory. I realize that this child doesn't comprehend what he said, and that he will have to be taught the same truth, probably a large number of times, and that alone won't produce a renewed heart. I'm humbled that I can be used to be part of sharing the gospel with him, regardless of the outcome of his life (though I pray that God changes and softens his heart!). I've recently been convicted through various conversations that I'm very lukewarm about sharing the Gospel with unbelievers, not because I don't believe it, but because I'm afraid, lazy, or an infinite number of pathetic excuses. It's true, at this particular point in my life, I'm not really around unbelieving adults, for better or for worse. But I am around children who need to know the deeds of the Lord. Later that afternoon, I read Psalm 71, which has become my prayer, "O God, from my youth you have taught me, and still I proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and grey hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again." Sustain me Lord, that I can share with the world all you've done for me; don't let soulless rocks cry out of your mercies while I, animate and forgiven, remain silent!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Feeling foolish and senseless, yet knowing Wisdom.

"Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but see not. Do you not fear me? declares the LORD; Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it. But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away. . .the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?"
 Good idea, oh Lord! (sorry, had to throw that in there)
 How much control do even the most powerful and wise of us have over the ocean? Especially in light of the BP blundering, this was a particularly resonating point. How can I fail to trust a God who can sovereignly control the entirety and intricacy of creation with my little life? What true comfort is there in the lie that I'm in control of my future? Yet how much more content we seem to think we would be if God would just let us plan our own lives. What will I do when the end comes? I sincerely hope the Spirit grants me the ability to plead His righteousness and not mine. His track record is a bit better than mine. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Yes, this qualifies as plagiarism...-ish

As I've gotten older, I've noticed an increase in how engaged I am with what I read. I'm hard on books, scribbling in the margins, folding over pages, and generally making a text my own, just like Ondaatje's patient (kudos to anyone who can explain that reference). Take this as a warning before you loan me any book; it will in all likelihood come back with my thoughts on it inside. Part of the reason I do that is so I can remember the things that stood out to me as I read. I find much of life to be referential, or at least increasingly interconnected. Something I see reminds me of something, which makes me think of something else, reminding me of this one time...and so on. I've found this blog to be a good place to process the thoughts that I have while reading, to get feedback on them. This blog is not a collection of essays, though I have included excerpts from those in the past. The posts are not book reviews, and this is certainly not a daily account of my life, though aspects of those are included as well. Simply put, it's unoriginal and nonacademic, though (I hope) food for thought. It certainly has been for me. So as I set out to write this post, I started by asking myself what may seem a fairly unintelligent, but vitally important question: What am I writing? Fortunately, the answer came quickly (though it took me way too long to get the time to actually write it). So this is a collection of thought-provoking quotations from Vladmir Nabokov's "Pale Fire" and Louis LaAmour's "The Education of a Wandering Man".  (Key = Nabokov ; LaAmour; Sturm )

-"When I hear a critic speaking of an author's sincerity I know that either the critic or the author is a fool." The word "sincere" is a bit of a throwaway word, especially when applied to literature...what exactly is is supposed to mean, anyway? Really, all it seems to infer is that the author is trying really hard, despite his work, which seems quite patronizing.
-" When the soul adores Him Who guides it through mortal life, when it distinguishes His sign at every turn of the trail, painted on the boulder and notched in the fir trunk, when every page in the book of one's personal fate bears His watermark, how can one doubt that He will also preserve us through all eternity?...We who borrow in filth everyday may be forgiven perhaps the one sin that ends all sins". Well said, my Russian friend. But can we really be forgiven "the sin that ends all sins"? We're called to use what little life we have to spread the Gospel. Is being done with the troubles of the world really worth the risk that suicide may be an unforgivable sin? Interesting thought.
-"The amusing paradox with these men of action is that they constantly have to endure long stretches of otiosity that they are unable to fill with anything, lacking as they do the resources of an adventurous mind." A good quote for someone who is as easily amused as I am...clearly the only reason other people get bored is that they just have an underdeveloped imagination. ;)
"The one who kills is always his victim's inferior". Always? Often, perhaps. I'm hesitant to make it absolute.
-"We who write fiction are not writing history, yet I do not believe anybody has a right to alter history for the sake of a story. If nothing else, it betrays a lack of creative ability. The actual history is amazing enough and I prefer to put my characters into what is actually happening and let it happen to them." One of the reasons I often prefer to study history rather than read author's imaginings compare to reality of human experience. 
-" I suppose I was lonely. I know that I often longed for someone with whom I could talk of books, writers, and things of the mind, but that was not to be for a long time, except here and there when I chanced on some other lost literary soul. Loneliness is of many kinds, and the mere presence and companionship of people does not suffice. The people I had been meeting were friendly, pleasant and the salt of the earth, but they did not speak my language. I enjoyed them, but something in me reached out for more." I've often felt this growing up, and now every time I move. Thankfully, I have something LaAmour (coming to manhood in the 1920s) did not: the internet. Makes connecting all those "lost literary souls" so much simpler.
-"One is not, by decision, just a writer.One becomes a writer by writing, by shaping thoughts into the proper or improper words, depending on the subject, and doing it constantly...most young writers waste at least three paragraphs and often three pages writing about their story rather than telling it." I've written so much that fits this the time you finish the introduction, you've lost the reader's interest. Guess I need to practice.
-"It is often said that one has but one life to live, but that is nonsense. For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time." This really relates back to the whole concept of imagination that Nabokov spoke of. On one level, the more you've experienced and  know, the more you have to think of; the inverse is also true, as the most sheltered neophyte can amuse themselves for hours with merely an active mind. 
It's all about the archetypes, man. ;) There's nothing new under the sun. I used to get upset when a story was predictable, but now I take pleasure in seeing how different writers/playwrights/directors rework and use plot devices to create their works. It's like looking at a painting and complaining that it's composed of merely a canvas, paints, and brushes rather than appreciating the brushwork of the artist, or how they incorporated certain colors and themes to create a unique reworking of the subject. The fact that many artists created sculptures of David does little to diminish the beauty and skill of Michelangelo's.
-"For a writer, of course, everything is grist for the mill, and a writer cannot know too much, sooner or later everything he does know will find its uses. A writer's brain is like a magician's hat. If you're going to get anything out of it, you have to put something in first". Really, this is along a similar vein as the last quote. I did find it interesting that he used a magician's hat...really, it's a bit of an odd analogy. Isn't part of the "magic" of the hat the thought that nothing goes into it, but amazing things come out? But upon further thought, I suppose that's how most of us try to write. We expect to make great work, but avoid the "putting in" of thoughtful research, ample time for reviewing/editing, and so on. This explains several papers I've composed.
-" I have read because I loved reading, and I have learned because I love learning, yet all one needs to know cannot come from books. It can come from sounds and music, from the play of light and shadow, from the people that one meets or those one does not meet". People who are bookish need to get out too. Reading about hiking can't show you the magic of a sunset on a mountainside, or get you in shape.
-" A person or situation can only be understood against the background of its own time." Really, it seems a lot of conflict could be resolved if this were actually followed. Out of context, what makes sense?
-"The idea that it might be fun to get drunk never appealed to me, for I had come to believe I could cope with any situation that might arise if I had my wits about me." So true. It's not necessarily that I'm "too good" to get drunk (or high). I'm just too proud to let myself get into a situation where I'm not in control of my mind.
-" a learning process. One never knows enough and one is never good enough". So there you go. I will never be good enough at writing.Thankfully, "all the fitness He requireth is to feel your need of Him".

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Posting this makes me groan. You're welcome.

So a vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, “I’m sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.”

Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and says “Dam!”

Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says “I’ve lost my electron.” The other says “Are you sure?” The first replies “Yes, I’m positive.”

Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication. 

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him …….. A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis. 

And finally, there was the person who sent ten different puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did. Almost as lame as the person who posts six hilarious puns in lieu of actual writing. ;) 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

For the last week or so, I've been jotting down notes, folding back book pages and making mental notes: "blog about that". Clearly, I've done a phenomenal job of doing it. ;) So in lieu of a long random post (which is coming...), here's a recent recipe that I altered enough to feel fairly confident calling it my own. They're amazing, and surprisingly, vegan (if you make the suggested alterations). 

The aptly named "Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies" :

-3/4 c. flour
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
-1/4 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. salt (only if peanut butter is unsalted)
-1/2 c. butter/margarine
-1/2 c. peanut butter
-1/2 c. sugar
-1/2 c. light brown sugar
-1 egg (or 1 banana)
-1 tsp. vanilla
-1 c. oats (or 2 packages of instant oatmeal)
-chocolate chips/nuts to taste
Oven: 350°
1. Soften butter, cream with sugars. Add peanut butter, vanilla, and egg (or mashed banana) and mix. Blend in dry ingredients, and drop in teaspoonfulls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, then remove. Cookies may appear undercooked, but will harden as they cool. Enjoy! 

Friday, June 25, 2010

On a more light-hearted note than some of my recent posts, the highlight of my day is going to bed. Why? Not necessarily because I had to work early today. And it's not even because I'm tired. It's because I know that whenever I choose to wake up, there will be a relatively fresh (just pulled them out of the oven) chocolate cranberry scone for breakfast. Thank God for Saturdays.
( I was going to add an image of a scone, but I couldn't find any that did justice to the ones I just made, so you'll have to imagine how incredible they look and smell.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Communication matters.

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place". -George Bernard Shaw 

We often hear of words getting in the way, of how impossible it is to disclose the deeper feelings within.I always figured that I was doing well in that area. I'm fairly verbose, right? I mean, I blog. Really. Clearly I do just fine at promulgating my thoughts and ideas to people. And in his mercy, God chose to show me how just how poorly I've communicated with the people I care about. He showed me how I've become dangerously introverted with my true feelings out of fear; how I'm not wanting to deal with their reactions, or afraid of hurting their feelings that I'm actually not loving them enough to tell them the truth. Beyond that, I'm just not talking to people at all. It's so easy to just feel too busy/tired/undesirous of burdening anyone else. Moving as much as I have has made this something that feels almost natural. I can love people for the time I'm there, then leave. I'm excellent at severing ties and moving on; my heart has grown calloused and cold, and that's frightening. Is that really the legacy I want to leave?  So in the strength of God, I'm working on graciously communicating what's on my mind in ways that edify and inform. And for now, we'll try to hold off on the sarcasm. ;) 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tunage? Please.

Recently, growing weary of listening to poorly written, theologically weak children's Bible songs at work, I've decided to add in some musical variety at work. We now rotate between "Wee Sing Bible Songs" (Admit it: You listened to those growing up), Disney classics, and the jazz station on the radio/Pandora. The kids (and bear-bear, apparently) love the jazz station as much as I do now. It's both exciting and frightening that they are such great copycats.

I used to wonder why young parents had no social lives (not entirely, but still it seems like something that's fairly easy to keep up even with kids, right?). Now, I'm so tired when I get off work, I don't even want to be around people. Getting to know new people takes time and energy, and I often just want/need to sleep. Admittedly, I think I'm still trying to figure out how to go from being surrounded by college girls last year to now spending the greater part of my life with a toddler and an infant. As much as I love my job, it's nice sometimes to be around people who can count higher than 8.  : )

That's one of the reasons I appreciate being able to listen to music at work; it "washes away the dust of everyday life", as Pablo Picasso would say. And when there's good music on, I sing, which brings me joy (not to mention makes me feel ridiculously like Julie Andrews...). I've taken to singing old hymns as lullabies to the infant. Now instead of dreading having to lay him down, I can preach truth to my soul while he cries himself to sleep. Redeeming those moments remind me of why I'm here, where my strength truly lies (hint: it's not in me.).

For the first time in way too long, I knelt in the dark and really poured out my heart to God last night. Today, I haven't been able to get these lyrics out of my head: "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. Oh, what peace we often forfeit; oh, what needless pain we bear! All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer". How many times have you sung those words? Do you feel the wonder of his grace? When was the last time you were amazed that an infinite, holy God knows and cares about your life? You should be.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A dramatic tale of mystery and intrigue; Ne bis in idem

" Doesn't something tell you that suffering is like life: that there is always something unknown beyond it?" 

Alexandre Dumas has done a masterful job of blending a fantastic and engaging story with interesting dialogue and just enough description to satisfy (without getting bogged down in the details in a Tolkienian manner). As George Bernard Shaw was apt to put it, " Dumas was...a summit of art. Nobody ever could, or did, or will improve upon Dumas's romances".  While my thoughts upon completion of The Count of Monte Cristo are not as ludicrously flattering as Shaw, I do now foster a warm appreciation for the man and his works. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of thought provoking sections; those are few and far between in most romantic novels. It made me grieve at the cruelty of humanity, my heart broke at, as Shakespeare termed it, the "frailty of woman", I followed the story with bated breath as the count mysteriously acted both as an agent of providence and revenge (Ok, less than bated breath. I knew how it was going to end, but I was genuinely upset to put it down). All in all, a wonderful summer read. ★★★★

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

One of my much-neglected projects was looking up the requirements for my program to graduate and comparing them with what my record looks like now that I've got a year finished. Tonight, I finally got to it.
SO...I've still got 48 credits left:
-9 in Religion (Intro to the Old Testament, Intro to the New Testament, and a senior level course of my choice)
-Intro to Psychology (with the venerable Professor A. Ho)
-12 elective credits in English
-9 credits in Art/Science = More choir!
- 15 credits of "Open Electives"
Needless to say, I'm excited to be just under half finished after my first year. Not too shabby. If I were able to afford to do 15+ credits a semester, I'd be done in no time. I would like to be done by the time I turn 21...but we'll see what God has in store.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Let me tell you about my day...

What have I been up to? Hmm. Well something like this:
6:30: Last time hitting snooze; Roll out of bed, check email (yes, I'm addicted), compose myself for the day and head downstairs for the breakfast of champions: Oatmeal and ginger orange juice (or toast and tea).

8:00: Have finished walking to work; start by feeding the "littler guy" (3 months). We've got between 30 minutes to an hour until the "little guy" (2 years) wakes up, meaning I have no hands instead of just one. I'm really quite amazed at what one can accomplish while simultaneously supporting a child that can't hold his head up...

10:00: With one down sleeping, the older two of us head outside (weather permitting). My main goal: find creative and enjoyable ways to wear him out so he naps better. The damp Washington climate happens to be ideal for slug-hunting, and it's a favorite pastime. Why, just today, we caught over 4 different types of slug. Someday, when he gets older, I'll show him the magic effects of salt on our invasive friends. For now, we content ourselves, he with a stick and slug/mushy pinecone/rock/ball and me with tending to the garden. 

12:00:  Lunchtime! Fortunately for me, the little guy loves to help in the kitchen. And by "loves", I mean the second I start thinking about making something, he pulls his chair over to the counter and asks to be picked up so he can get in on the action. He's quite the stirrer. A bit picky on textures, but once I started blending things with the hand mixer, I haven't had any trouble getting him to eat anything. I started blending healthy things into my own lunches too. ;) We made pasta one day, and the whole time we were boiling the noodles, he kept wanting to sample them. On the first, totally unprompted, he tasted it, then pronounced with a serious face, "Raw" (and proceeded to do so until it was al dente. That takes skills, people.) 

14:00: Swaddled and sleeping boys mean I've got a few hours to catch up on all the messes they've made for the day and do some reading/dinner preparation/organization of the house. I've knocked off quite a bit of reading so far, not to mention the ever-growing flower and herb garden I've got going. It's been fun to do homemaking projects for the mom of the family. 

16:00: The boys are up and hungry, so I try to make sure both of them are fed and have clean diapers and finish all projects before their dad gets home. Throughout the day, I take notes, so I hand those off with any explanation, and tap out for the day on kiddo duty. 

19:00: Supper! (and yes, it does really look and taste that good. I live with a great cook). Several nights out of the week, there are events going on over/after the meal, but I prefer the nights where I can just chill around the house after being away all day. 

23:00: Finally in bed, too late, as usual. Staying up reading will do that...but the sleep feels good. Resting in His grace, and trusting for new mercies tomorrow! 

I've been learning a lot, but I think one of the sweetest (and conversely, most convicting) lessons has been getting to see, through "parenting" these kids, a clearer picture of God's nature. Sometimes I get frustrated, "Why can't this kid just trust that I have his best interest in mind? Why can't he just learn these lessons?"...and then I remember my lack of faith, my stubborn and rebellious nature, and I not only have patience, but a heart to see these kids learn to love and rely on Christ. My correction is needed, but it only fixes behavior; their hearts will never change without the grace of God. How can I thank him enough? Speaking of which, I also have a growing appreciation for my parents and their faithfulness in raising us in a intentionally God-centered home. I'm only beginning to realize the blessings that are coming from their willingness to sacrifice a "normal" life for a wartime-mentality, homeschooled home. (shakes head) I've been so thankful recently; I've never been so tired and yet so full of joy. God is good.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My condolences...

Today, I got to write a letter of condolence for the first time. The very notion seems rather old-school (heck, the fact that I just put a hyphen in "old-school" is in itself rather not in vogue). Really, whatever you seem to write seems trite and inadequate. How does one sufficiently relate how much pain you empathetically feel for the person's loss without sounding like you're being patronizing? How much or how little should you say? Oh, I asked for grace to speak words edifying for the moment. Sometimes, it's easier to just hug someone and hope that the gesture communicates the feeling that your words seem unable to do.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Earlier today, I couldn't get this song out of my head. I wasn't really in a funk, just physically drained. It's funny only took one song on my classic jazz online radio station after work to totally change my mood. Call me lame, but after trying all day to keep 3 people in order and content, it's so refreshing to just cut loose and be mellow. Yes, I'm more mellow when cutting loose. Swinging music, yes. Rockin'? Heavens, no. I should just pull out my knitting needles and check myself into a nursing home now. ;)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A free cupcake and Russian prose: quite quaint.

Today, the best cupcake shop in Seattle gave away free cupcakes (no really, it was voted the best, and the taste did not disappoint). Usually, I'm not a big fan of frosting, but this stuff was phenomenal. And free. One of the best things about living in a city has been the giveaways. Stores have so much competition that they often give things away as incentive to customers. Know the city well enough, and you'd never have to pay for food...

"I was not yet used to the rather fatiguing jesting and teasing that goes on among American intellectuals of the inbreeding academic type..." Ha! Well described, Nabokov. I started and am half-way through his curious work of poetry/prose Pale Fire as of this afternoon. Atheistic in worldview, but very well-written and quite enjoyable to read.

Speaking of "quite", today a friend of mine jestingly mentioned my frequent usage of the word. I had never really considered it. It comes naturally, I suppose. "You always sound like you're on an adventure", she told me. That's just how I like to think of my life, though. You never know what tomorrow will much more adventurous can you get? Upon further consideration, I think "quite" just sounds rather old-fashioned or quaint (quite quaint...that's fun to say).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Boy, oh boy...

Growing up with four brothers has made me rather comfortable around guys. I've seen all sorts of things, and actually had to get more stitches than some of my brothers. So when the little boy at the house I'm living in decided that he just won't keep his clothes on when he's around me, I had to laugh (quietly to myself...we're trying not to encourage him). Only as a two-year-old can you get away with nudity. 

It's really quite interesting. As a nanny, I'm essentially getting paid to be a stay-at-home mom for someone else. So for both the family I'm working for, and the family I'm living with, the kids both have both parents and an extra authority figure to listen to. May God give me grace to steward these children well and join with their parents in bringing them up to treasure Christ above all else. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nature lover though I am, I am the sierra club's worst nightmare. 
The littlest things captivate my attention, so going on a hike (or really, just existing) provides me with infinite amusement. I try to keep my observations to myself; I've discovered over the years that most people just don't seem to find such "trivial" things interesting. One manifestation of this is my love for all things growing (especially things that bloom). I grew up in my backyards around the world collecting rocks and interesting plants. Needless to say, I tend to take things home with me when I hike. Back when I was homeschooled, I could justify it as a scientific endeavor. But education is a never-ending journey...or perhaps it just feels that way. 
I was struck anew on today's hike not only with the grandeur of the mountains, but also with the intricacy and diversity of creation. I kept finding plants that I had never seen before and marveling at their beauty and form. It occurred to me: Not only has God designed that plant, but he has known about its existence. From the beginning of creation, God has designed that type of flower to live in a certain place and fulfill its part of his global purpose. Not only that, but he knows everything about everything. Every salmon in these rivers, God created and knew about. Every ant in the Amazon, God created and knows. That same God chose to make us and though we rebelled, he humbled himself and bore our sins. So easy to say, do we really feel the weight of it? Do we really believe it? How often we feel like we're in control and want God to let us run our lives. If he can take care of this universe, I think I'm fairly safe letting him determine my future. ;) 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Things I learned this week:

One of things I've noticed the most this last year when celebrating holidays away from my immediate family is how far removed we are from my extended family. Watching friends of mine who have lived in a similar area their whole lives, I realize just how much I don't know about my family. So spending the majority of this last week with my grandparents, I've learned some interesting things:
1. My grandfather served three terms during the Vietnam War in the navy (I knew previously that he had been in that war, but I heard many stories these last few days. I am now more sympathetic to his aversion for all things Asian, though it still saddens me).
2. My grandmother's favorite class in university: Russian history. Apparently the professor was quite attractive.
3. My grandfather's baseball hat collection is now about 1000 caps strong (He's always had lots of hats, but I never considered that it was that extensive). He can tell you where he got every single one.
4. For my grandmother's 50th birthday, she partied for three days straight. Too bad I was -3 years old at the time.
5. Just as I did a few years ago, my grandmother severed a tendon in her hand. But unfortunately for her, the doctors she went to in  Nebraska did not correctly diagnose the problem until nearly a year later. While the damage could easily be corrected by an easy surgery and some simple physical therapy, she's decided it's too much of a pain and is physically incapable of straightening one of her fingers (her version of this story takes about 45 minutes to tell).
6. My grandfather has children from his first marriage (we just never talked about it...).
7. Both my grandparents are significantly (and rather amusingly) losing their hearing.