Saturday, December 18, 2010

Spirits of the Earth

The weather here is as indecisive as a fat kid in a candy shop.

Yesterday I walked a farmer's field, the muddy stubble rising in hills beneath my feet, the green grass poking its sweet head in between the furrows.  In caelo supra valles, sol lucet clarussior quam feminae ornamenta.  (In the sky above the hills, the sun shone brighter than a woman's jewels.)  The sky was bluer than the ocean on a still day and in the distance, I could see Moscow Mountain, its peak white with snow.  It was cold, but as the sun set it hung close to me, warming the world in a dusting of golden light.

This morning I sit cross-legged on our gold velvet couch; across from me stands my Charlie Brown tree: slightly bent but cheerful strung with popcorn and cranberries.  The world is white now, swirling in furies of snow falling hard, fast, crooked.  It began less than an hour ago, but the red car in the neighbor's drive is now topped with white and the road is thickly dusted.

As I walked those hills yesterday, my shadow bobbed along on the next hill over, waving back when I lifted a hand in greeting.  I could feel fairies and dryads all around me.  The world is surely magic, full of spirits and the spiritual.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Snow has turned the fields outside Moscow into wilderness.  It makes this place treacherously beautiful.  When I was sledding, snow streaked across the old farmer's hill we were on; everything glowed orange in the falling white.  Trees in the distance stood fuzzy, like an old photograph--and just as quiet.  It felt as if we had been displaced: like we, laughing in our wool hats and wet gloves and ears full of snow, were the only creatures alive in a land of whiteness.  

It was magic, being alive just then. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pachabell Rant

My roommate, Kait, showed this to me today and it was so fantastic I had to share it with the world!  (Or the three people who actually look at this. Ha.)

[Jessie, this is especially for you.  Make sure you listen.]

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Leavenworth, WA

I'm giddy with the falling of the snow.
I laugh as it catches in my eyelashes and the fur of my coat.
It's such a white world of firsts!

First snowball fight.
First snow bunny.
First snow angel.
First below zero experience.
First time to wake to ice inside the windows.
First time sledding.
First time to eat snow.

Over Thanksgiving break, I went to stay with the Turnbulls, and experienced many of my firsts with them.  It was a splendid visit, and all of us were very sad when it came to an end.  While I was there, we played in the snow, played duets for hours, read books, watched Wives and Daughters, cooked, baked, ate, played in the snow some more, etc, etc. It was such fun!

Reading with Uncle Matt

Bella sledding

MacAdam :)

A walk in the five degree weather!

Reading in a bookstore downtown.

Making a Thanksgiving poster

All us kids.  (Now picture all these people on that little yellow sled Bella was pulling. Yeah, we're awesome.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


"Is that rain?"  I threw open the front door.  Rainless wind tore across the yard, ripping leaves from trees and strewing them along the street.  Like soldiers attacking a bastion, the wind battered against the house all night long.  When it would wake me, I lay in bed with my head under a barricade of blankets, listening to the sounds like sirens, like wolfs howling in derision.

The wind is gone this morning, but its story is not.  On my way to school this morning, I passed a little brick house.  Four children and their mother were crowded in the front window, staring out at the tree smashed against their house. Trees are lying--like corpses of soldiers--in the streets.  The last vestige of orange leaves has been torn from the trees that still stand.

Downtown all the power is out.  The dark shops are like the first breath of a ghost town.  When I got to school, it too was dark.  Students milled around the commons room, unsure if there would be classes.  I decided there wouldn't be and skipped back home through the blue-skyed aftermath of the storm.

A stack of books sits in front of me.  Latin needs to be read.  But I just might bundle up again and return to the story of the wind.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


My new boots!  The snow boots are a little large...or, um, WAY large.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Fall is sensual.  The leaves are gold, red, orange:  like fireworks on sticks.  The air is crisp and cocky and the whole world smells like apples and cinnamon.  On my run this morning, my breath puffed stinging through my mouth and nose, like I was smoking peppermints.  With the neighbor's dog loping beside me, I jogged through piles of browning leaves, the dampness sweet and musty.  Along the sidewalk, crunchy blades of grass stood like little soldiers, alert in uniforms of ice.  It's been like wandering through a book, getting to know this new world of autumn; and they say it's going to snow soon!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Granite Point

I charged my camera today so I could take pictures of my Granite Point outing.  I remembered to pack my camera in my bag.  But did I bother to take one stinkin' picture?  Nope.  So let me attempt to sketch you a picture with words.

A small caravan of cars snaked through the winding hills outside Pullman, windows down and hair blowing in the warm breeze.  After a (relatively) short drive, we arrived at Granite Point, which is an outcropping of rocks along the Snake River.  I jumped out of the car and ran up to the top of the boulders.  As I stood on top of those rocks, wind whipping against me, I watched the white heads of choppy water march down the river.

Some people rock climbed.  Almost everyone jumped off a thirty foot rock into the river.  I waded in and lost my breath as the freezing water snatched at my ribs.  Despite the cold, it felt so wonderful to be in the water!  One of the things I really miss out here are lakes and the ocean, so it was exhilarating to be submerged in water!  Eventually I climbed dripping and numb from the river, shared a port-a-potty with a wasp, and arrived home in damp clothes and wild hair.  All in all, it was a fantastic afternoon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bicycle Babe

That would be me. 
I am now rockin' a rock awesome bike.
Check it out:
After months of searching, I found this li'l ole bike from the 80s at the bike shop downtown.  I'm so excited about getting back in shape biking! 

I got a helmet too, Mommy.  :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunrise on the Mountain

On Saturday morning I drove up Moscow Mountain with a group of friends to watch the sunrise.

It was really early...Mallory's a little sleepy.   

Robin, Angie, Parker, Mosey, Wilson, Ethan, Zach

Angie, me, Robin, Mallory
 As we sat watching the sun rise below us, breath spilled from our mouths like smoke.  It was icily cold on the rocks, and we huddle together, wrapped in our coats and blankets.  Finally the sun broke over the treetops, and the rays reached up to us.

Once the sun had fully risen, we went over to our "campsite" and fixed breakfast.  At least, we tried...

Here's the bacon...

...and here's the bacon on fire!  Ethan managed to rescue a few pieces.  

Mallory, Ethan, and Robin roasting sausages

After breakfast, we read a few stories by Patrick McManus, then went for a lovely walk down a trail that wound through the woods near our campsite.

Mallory embracing the nature

After our walk, we sung a few hymns and then I went off exploring by myself.  Making my way a little down the mountain, I climbed up on a simply reveled in being outdoors.  The sun had warmed the day so much that I shed my coat and jacket and rolled up my jeans.  As I was coming back from my expedition, I encountered a boulder and decided to climb it.

Sucking in a deep breath, I stuck my foot in the first foot hole and started climbing up.  Before long, I ran out of foot holes and hung there trying to decide if I want to lunge for the rock jutting out about a foot above me, or if should let the whole thing go and get down.  Since I was by myself  (but not far from the others, Mommy, I promise), I decided to go with the latter plan.

But I really wanted to climb it.  So I got Parker and Wilson to come back with me.  Wilson chose a different route up the boulder, and made it with only a little (ok...maybe a lot) of difficulty.  I decided to try my way again.  With little effort I made it back to the spot I'd stopped at before.  Once again, I couldn't get up any farther.  My Converse-clad feet kept slipping on the rock.  But I was determined to make it up.  So, leaning hard against the rock, I maneuvered in some crazy ways and stripped my socks and shoes.  I made it to the top!  Hopefully next Saturday I'll get to hike the whole mountain.  :)

Friday, September 10, 2010


Instead of attacking my reading and papers, I'm going to tell you about them.  ;)

Rhetoric:  On Monday mornings I have Rhetoric lectures with Nate Wilson.  His teaching is phenomenal, and I am often completely blown away when I walk out of his classroom.  Somehow he takes everything from firefly wings to eavesdropping to building a mosque near Ground Zero and turns it into a brilliant lecture on classic rhetoric.  On Thursday we have Declamation, where we have to step onto a stage and apply what we're learning.

Music: This class includes written theory, aural skills, and choir.  Since I played the piano, the theory is pretty easy.  But the aural skills and singing are a huge challenge!  Dr. Erb (my professor) has been kind enough to spend about half an hour each week working with me on my singing.  As a little kid I resisted my mother's attempts to improve my singing, and I've always been mortified to let anyone hear me croak out a "tune."  It's still embarrassing, but I've finally set my mind to at least attempt to improve.  Dr. Erb told me last week that learning to sing is like learning to run faster:  it takes great will-power and hard work.  Since I spent much of the summer focusing on running faster, this analogy really hit home with me.

Latin: Although I took Latin in high school, it's all Greek to me now; my magister has an entirely different approach to learning this ancient language.  Instead of teaching us the Latin words for the English words for actual concepts, he is teaching us the Latin words for the concepts themselves.  It's definitely a challenge, but I'm really excited about it!  Before recitation this morning, I very nerdily wrote out all the cases and declensions we've learned thus far and taped them on the wall next to my bed.  Before long I'll be dreaming in Latin!

Lordship:  This is basically a theology class, in which we focus heavily on reading.  Thus far we've completed Augustine's Confessions and City of God, and have just begun Athanasius' On the Incarnation.  It's incredible to be able to learn from these great men of the faith, and to have my mind stretched and strengthened as I consider Christianity from many different aspects.

Well, speaking of all this schoolwork, I'd best get back at it.  Miss you, Florida.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tali and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I got ditched by my "running group."
I got lost on my run.
I was late for class.
I got stuck in the seat behind the wall.
I couldn't give blood because I'm sick.
I paid too much for not-good-enough soup.
I had to set up a new bank account.
I realized, while setting up said account, I hadn't taken my online Latin quiz.
I rushed to the library.
I missed a question.
I went to Latin class.
I wanted to cry.
I still had to go back to the bank and finish activating the account.

And then I had friends.  Grace and Parker invited me to go to Wheatberries, and when I declined, they said they'd go to the bank with me.  As I walked down the street, a suitcase of fragile emotions, they strode on either side of me.  While I tried to wrap my feeble mind around the confusingness of the world of money, they sat on either side of me and poked fun, laughed, encouraged. 

Although my head still hurts and I still feel a little overwhelmed, I guess my day wasn't really that terrible, horrible, no good, or very bad.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


The stars hung bright in the dark sky as I tumbled through the brush, a cup of cider sloshing in my hand. I stood chatting with the college's president and his wife about their time in Kenya, and cold tendrils of silvery air bit at my nose and hands. Eventually I moved into the circle of students around the bonfire, and sat huddled with Julie as we sang hymn after hymn.

By the time we left the warmth of fire and song, the moon was high in the sky--so bright. Julie, Nathan and I walked to the car. Beside us a freshly-harvested field yawned, stretching up to the sky. Grabbing Julie's hand, I ran up the hill, toward the tip of stars. Throwing arms in air, we twirled and twirled. Laughing, we fell to the ground and stared up at the spinning skies.

Like drunk sailors, we tripped back down the hill and piled into the car. Living in this land of visible stars and rolling hills and August-chill is a bit like wandering around in a dream-world. Guess it's a good thing I'm quite comfortable dreaming.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Peace be with you
God be with your spirit
 God's blessings to you


[In the middle of the service at Trinity Reformed Church, the church I am attending here, everyone gets up in the middle of the service to "Pass Peace."  When I've visited other churches that have done this, I've always found it very awkward.  People would stand up, half-heartedly shake the hands of the people standing directly around them, and quickly sit back down.  At Trinity there is no stiffness, no formality.  Everyone makes their way through the big room (which is actually some sort of conference room at a hotel),  grasping hands, giving hugs, greeting enthusiastically, and sometimes even kissing one another.  It's what I imagine the early church was like: full of unconditional love and brimming with effervescent life.]  

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Room

I finally got a dresser in my bedroom!  Julie remembered her old one was stuffed away in the basement, so when Sean and Nathan were over this afternoon, I had them carry it up for me.  Only four of its six drawers are currently functional, but I'm so excited not to have to climb on top of a chair and hurtle myself at the closet shelf to get clothes down!

I'm so thankful to have my own bedroom, and for it to be so lovely!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Froggies and Faucets and Fairy Tales

Tadpoles have infested my books.
Every time I open one up, the tadpoles squiggle across the pages.
Needless to say, I can't read.

Someone has replaced my nasal passages with a faucet.
I've gone through a trash-can-full of Kleenex today.
Needless to say, I can't breathe.

A little creature scratched up my throat.
And there's a frog croaking in my chest.
Needless to say, I'm sick.

And now...if you survived my sorrowful soliloquy...I'll post a few pictures.

This is in Downtown Moscow.  Seriously.  Right off Main Street.
 Winco is the place to shop in Moscow.  This fantastic grocery store is equipped with numerous vats of various goods--for really low prices!

Jessie filling up a bag with oatmeal...for 3 cents an ounce!
 Since I don't eat a lot of meat, nuts are pretty essential to my diet.  I was delighted to discover this fancy little machine that grinds raw peanuts directly into my cup!  It's a lot easier than making my own.

My dear new friend: the peanut butter maker!
The Ryan family, who I stayed with when I visited Moscow before, sweetly invited Mom, Jess, and I over for dinner.  It was so good to see them again!

(FYI: Jessie is taking the picture)
This is my new house.  Isn't it adorable?!  The inside is darling, and I'm loving having my own room.

Roomies!  L to R: Me, Julie, Heather, Kaitlyn
 On Saturday morning, I had Convocation.  (Which is why my housemates are wearing robes in the previous picture; second-year scholars get to wear robes to school events!)  After Convocation, Mom and I went to a school picnic.  There we got to see Caleb and his beautiful new bride!

It's been a whirlwind week, and I'm still not quite sure what to think or feel.  Please pray that God would heal me quickly, that I might encounter all these changes with strength and courage!  Not only that, but I have a Latin Recitation tomorrow and hundreds of pages of reading to do...no time for the sickies!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Psalm Sing

This evening I stood in Friendship Square (a public area next to my school, in the middle of downtown) amongst babies and grandmothers, young men and bearded elders.  Surrounding me was the sound of music, of everyone lifting songs of praise to the Lord.  As a cool breeze brushed my curls, I felt--as if it were brought to me on the wind--the life all around me. 

Here teenage boys get excited to spend their evening singing.  Here students don't dread their homework, but delight in it.  Here a crippled man was baptized in church this morning, while grown men watched and cried.

As wonderful as this town is, I must admit that I have struggled with leaving my home and my family.  Last night I walked through the streets, barefoot, and wondered why I had come so far.  I had said goodbye to Jessie and Mommy that morning, and felt suddenly lost and alone.  A comforting word and a sympathizing hug from another freshman's mother, and tears poured from my eyes. 

But in the midst of the struggle of this transition, there is excitement and hope--and schoolwork!  Class hasn't even started yet, and I have already been assigned Latin vocabulary, over one hundred pages of reading, and the memorization of Psalm 149:  all to be completed by tomorrow morning!  With that said, I return to my studies.

I'll post pictures at some point.  <3

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Destination: Idaho!

After a very (VERY) long day of travel, Mom, Jessie, and I finally made it to Moscow!  Once again, I am sitting amongst the chaos of suitcases--this time UNpacking.  At least, thinking about unpacking.  As of now, the only furniture in my room is a bed (which Jess and I will both be occupying pretty soon here).  The moment my sheets come out of the dryer (I forgot to wash them at home, and they have that awful new scratchy feeling), I'll be climbing to bed and sleeping.  Goodnight!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Moving Muses

I sit amongst the chaos of half-packed luggage:  stacks of books, clothes strewn across beds, laundry in a heap.  Tomorrow is my last day before I leave for Moscow, Idaho.  Life has become a tornado of goodbyes, and I'm soaking in every moment of just being Here.

This morning I grocery-shopped at Harvilles; I was touched by how much the employees' cared that I'm leaving, how much they wished me well.  Shortly after I returned from shopping, Ella Grace and Anna Katherine came over with their mommy to give me a sweet farewell gift and play Polly Pockets (of course!)  

I'm going to miss my girls so much!
The precious picture frame Anna and Ella made me!
While the Cs were visiting with my family (Mollie and Julia included), Mrs. Gadalean came by to say goodbye.  All ten of us were chatting in the den when the Brighthouse Man arrived, and I guess you might say it was a little crazy.  But this is what I am going to miss most:  the open hospitality of my comfortable [crazy] family and home.

It has been so touching to be reminded that people love me.  To feel their hugs around my arms, to see the tears in eyes as people send me off with a word of wisdom, a squeeze of the hand.  I pray that Christ has used me to touch many lives in Orlando, and that he will pour his love out through me as I move to Moscow.  To God be the glory!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Everything is Illuminated

While in Oklahoma, I picked out this film to watch--despite skepticism from my family. Although none of them cared for it (in fact, my daddy stopped watching halfway through), I thought it was excellent.

It's a story of memories, of collecting pieces of the past. The main character, Jonathan (convincingly portrayed by Elijah Wood), wears big glasses, doesn't eat meat, and has a collection of memories in ziploc baggies tacked to a wall. In a search to find the story behind a photograph of his grandfather and a woman named Augustine, he ends up in the company of a Ukrainian grandpa and grandson. As they journey across the planes of Ukraine, a tale of depth unfolds amidst the bald humor of language confusion, Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. (the deranged dog), and a bizarre music soundtrack. What began an off-beat indie film, ended a poignant tribute to the strength of friendship, the twists of love, and the importance of clinging to memories. For, as Jonathan learned, "everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us, on the inside, looking out."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Poem

by e.e. cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

மி டே

My day in likes and dislikes:

I like bike rides.
I don't like flat tires.
I like Rock Springs.
I don't like sharp stones.
I like curly hair.
I don't like sitting in the salon for three hours.
I like the dog I'm petsitting.
I don't like slobber.
I like walking barefoot.
I don't like blisters.
I like clean houses.
I don't want to clean.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Our shadows hold hands as we walk down the street, hand around fingers. The outline of his baggy overalls hangs loose; the frizz on my curls bounces high. Tears sneak into my eyes, catch in my lashes, drip onto my glasses--this is my last day as Hunter's nanny.

Eight months ago, I drove to the front of the neighborhood to meet with the couple who had responded to my nanny ad in the Spring Valley newsletter. I was greeted by the smiling faces of Aimee and Rodney, and I held Hunter for the first time: a little baby in blue footie pajamas.

One month after that, I started watching Hunter two days a week. And I fell in love with him. As I have watched him grow from that cooing infant to a walking, garbling toddler, my love for him has also grown. His smiles make my heart dance; I love the way he reaches his chubby arms for me, follows me around, cries when I walk out of the room.

Now I'm going much farther than just around the corner. This morning I have held him close, kissed him long, dreading saying goodbye. Of course, it is not goodbye forever. But I know that when I come home, he won't know me as he knows me now. I pray that he won't forget me, but he's just a baby...they're not like elephants; they don't remember long.

So as he sleeps now, I stare at his curling hair, his button nose, his chubby cheeks. I will not forget.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dead Poets

While I was sick, I watched "Dead Poets Society." I love that movie.

Although its message is devoid of Christ, there is much Truth within it. As believers living in this world, it is imperative for us to be able to trace worldly reflections back to their heavenly source. One of the main points of the film is the idea of "carpe diem," or seizing the day. Instead of running mad with that phrase and using it as argument for living however we please, Christians ought see it as inspiration to live for Christ. Here. Now. We must seize every opportunity to show Christ's love to the world.

Life is short.

Our days are but a breath, a whisper upon the earth. We need to suck the marrow out of life, to pulse with the heartbeat of God, to live deliberately for the Gospel.

How can a follower of Jesus be blase or passive? We must be passionate--the conquerors of this world! God calls us to subdue and dominate the earth. How can we do that unless we are brave enough to sound our barbaric yawps over the rooftops of the world?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Be Here Now

Haunting. Chilling. Ray LaMontagne's BBC performance of Be Here Now.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Week in the Wilderness (Part V)

Home Again

I'm home now, but camp remains with me. Literally. Some sort of infection (probably merca) came home with me. I'll spare you the gory details except to say I have a band-aid plastered across my forehead, a massive red blotch on my back, I'm on antibiotics, and it hurts!

There is so much more I could say about how wonderful VSO was, but I'll restrain myself. ;)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Week in the Wilderness (Part IV)

The Hike

We spent two days on the Appalachian Trail, hiking through thick woods and fording icy streams. After arriving at our campsite the first night and setting up tents, we ran to the stream that bubbled along beside the trail. Wading into the water, we fought chills and shivers and submerged ourselves in the freezing water. There was a series of waterfalls that led down to a big watering hole, and all of us went down there to swim. When the coldness became too much, we crawled out and curled up on the warm rocks, like snakes basking in the sun.

Later that evening, I set off alone down the stream, hopping from rock to rock. I will never be able to describe the feeling of that little expedition--the simple, wild joy of being alone with the trees and rocks and water. A joy so strong I shouted with laughter.

That night we sat around the campfire together and ate burritos straight from the coals. All of us were dirty and smelly, but I found everything fresh and beautiful. Living with nature is so...free. I love not caring if my bare feet are dirty, or if my hair looks funny. It's oddly exciting to take my water bottle and a water purifier, and stroll over to the stream to get a drink. I love hearing the birds and watching the bugs and just being outside. Of course, I am still drenched in suburbia. As I was going to sleep that night (nice and cozy in a one man tent with Wendi), I spotted a Daddy Long Legs crawling up the side of the tent. Gently, I scooped him up and tossed him out. Nestling back down into my sleeping bag, I closed my eyes and--felt tickley, long legs creeping across my bare stomach!

The next morning we cleaned up camp and started hiking again. Although we had to go frustratingly slow, it was an exciting hike--especially the life-threatening parts on the side of a cliff! Halfway through the hike, we stopped at a waterfall that formed a natural water slide. So fun! Why don't I live in the wilderness all the time?

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Week in the Wilderness (Part III)


His vertebrae are fused together. His body eats proteins, so he can't build muscle. A week after his doctor gave him clearance to do any type of physically activity, he was stuffed in a van on his way to high adventure camp. Throughout the week, I watched in amazement as he fought against his disabilities and participated in almost every activity.

On the last day, he and I swam from a rock outcropping where everyone was playing to shore. Although he had to stop and rest several times, he finished the distance swimming strong. As we pulled ourselves out of the water and plopped onto the ground, he was brimming with excitement, delighted at his ability to accomplish what was so physically challenging.

When I asked him what his favorite part of the week had been, he answered promptly: the last twenty minutes of the hike. Suddenly he felt like he was strong, like he could keep up with the fastest of the campers. Over the week he had grown--physically and spiritually--and it was so encouraging to see how a week in the wilderness can transform.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Week in the Wilderness (Part II)

The Cliff

Canoe paddles in water--stroke, stroke. Across the lake as the sun hung low in the sky. And then there it was, looming above me. The cliff. They'd been talking about it all day. Forty feet. Bare rock. Deep water. Jumping off. I was nervous, but I was going to do it. Scrambling up the side of the cliff, I quickly reached the rocky surface and glanced over the edge.

Forty feet is really high.

Fear like I have never known before ripped goosebumps all over my skin, and shook my whole body. All I had to do was step over the edge, just one little step! But I couldn't do it. I was petrified. While camper after camper strode by me and leaped over the edge, I stood back, fighting against myself. Michael prayed with me, Peter cajoled me, all my friends down in the water (so far below!) screamed and shouted and encouraged. Time after time I crept to the edge, ready to jump, and slunk back shaking with sobs, terror, and frustration.

I couldn't do it.

It was such a humbling reminder of my weakness, of my inability to be complete alone. Jumping off that cliff was, of course, unnecessary. But it served as a reminder that although I like to think myself self-reliant and independent, I'm not. I need Jesus to lift me up, to give me grace, to hold me tight when the cliffs of life set me trembling and crying. How thankful I am for the persistent love of my Saviour!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Week in the Wilderness (Part I)

I spent the past week being counselor at Venturescape Outdoors in North Carolina. It was a beautiful time of freedom in the wilderness, of doing life with the other campser, working together, exploring God's creation, and just loving one another. Because it was such an incredibly wonderful week, and I have a lot to say about it, I'm going to share my experiences in several different posts.

The Cave

Tendrils of cold air snaked out into the humidity and drew me to the entrance of the cave. As I lowered myself through a small hole in the ground into the chill darkness of the underworld, nervousness crept around my stomach. Dots of light from headlamps bounced off the slippery rocks and flickered across the cavern walls. At first I stepped hesitantly, unsure of myself in this strange surrounding of clay and slick rock. After a few moments, however, I began to relax and became perfectly comfortable walking, crawling, climbing through the cave.

I loved the feeling of power in my hands as I lifted myself onto a particularly high rock, or the thrill of stepping over the entrance to a deep hole that could kill me if I stepped wrong. In certain places we had to wriggle through tunnels; in one spot we crawled on elbows and knees through stalagmites and stalactites and freezing, muddy water. At one point, we all sat together in an open area and sang hymns, the music resounding around us. When we reemerged into the sunlight, every one of us was drenched in mud and guano (bat poo--gross, eh?), and covered in smiles.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

From Triathlons to Food

It appears I'm never going to post about my triathlon, since I'm still having picture trouble. If you'd like to look at some photos from that weekend, feel free to check out Jessie's blog.

And now for food, since that is the logical progression of any working mind... Good food paints life with color. Just think how much better a hot summer day is with watermelon juice dribbling down your chin, and little black seeds dotting the sidewalk around you. Picture coming home after an afternoon swim and grilling up some hamburgers--to be eaten with oh-so-crisp and fresh lettuce, tomato, and onion. Imagine playing catch in the early evening sun, and coming in for a big bowl of ice cream. You see, food (good food)gives people a reason to gather together, to stop being busy and crowd onto the benches of my kitchen table, to talk and laugh and EAT.

When I wake up in the morning, my first thought is of breakfast. While I run or bike or swim, I dream up what I'll eat the moment I get home. During breakfast, I plan lunch. At lunchtime, I think of ideas for dinner. (And, of course, there are all those snacks in between!) There is such excitement in preparing food!

This morning, after a nice jog with Mollie, I had a piece of cheese toast topped with onion, tomato, and a fried egg, along with a couple slices of watermelon. Already I've gotten the chicken out to thaw for today's lunch: Oat Chicken Pieces, broccoli, and cantaloupe--oh, and blueberries! Mr. Ibarguen just brought a carton of just-picked, garden-fresh blueberries. Noon can't come too soon. ;)

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I have spent the last hour working on my blog. I got on this thing to write about my triathlon. First, however, I decided I really wanted to change my background. Simple, right? For me--not so! After forever and a day, I somehow got that to work. But now my computer is being all weird about uploading photos. So...don't hold your breath till the pictures are up, because it might take awhile. But stay tuned!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Freedom, not Independence

"God's work in our lives doesn't lead to self-independence, but to a further realization of the need of dependence--strictly on Him." (Tyler Burgett)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Santa...or Grace?

The pale green undersides of the oak leaves twisted in the wind as the black clouds unfurled. Rain drops smacked against the windows of my car; Ella began to fuss in the back. As I chattered on to distract the girls from the storm, we somehow landed on the topic of Santa Claus.

"If we're good," one of the girls stated, "then Santa will bring us presents. But if we're bad, we don't get anything."

For whatever reason, hearing that Santa Claus philosophy from a little girl broke my heart. It's what we all believe, isn't it? Even as Christians preaching grace, how often we run back to the "Santa Claus" God, thinking--if I'm good, God will love me more; if I'm bad, he'll turn from me.

But that is not the Gospel! While we were yet sinners, Christ loved us. It's such amazing news because we don't have to do anything. That's the gritty beauty of it: while we were drenched in the blood of our damnation, Jesus Christ shed his pure blood--for us. Mysteriously, breathtakingly, that outpouring cleansed his chosen people, and because of that grace, we are made alive, free, without condemnation.

So why do we chase after Santa Claus? Why do I try to earn salvation, when the only way it can be mine is by Christ earning it for me? Father, breathe your grace over me. Let it fill the holes in my life, and shine out of me pieces of your love.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Off We Go A'wassling

A'whatling? A'nashvilleing! Yes, I'm leaving for Nashville at 5:00am tomorrow. And I haven't finished packing. I need to wash some grapes. And I left my water bottle at a wedding gig.

Don't miss me too much.
I just might return with pictures.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Dog Race

The dogs are led out in muzzles and jerseys, dancing and pulling at their leashes. Boys in blue shirts lead them into gates: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and white panels shut them in. A voice comes out over the loudspeakers, quiet at our picnic table, and bored--not excited, like me--announcing the names of the dogs. Jessie, David, Shane, and I stand against the chain-link fence, leaning toward the track, waiting. "Here comes Swifty!" proclaims the voice, and a little car-like creature with a stuffed bunny attached to it shoots by. The gates swing up and the dogs are out, not running but flying. We chose number six, Phil's* Shane, (sure to win with a name like that). At first he was last, but half way round he surged forward and overtook the other dogs. My hands were in the air as he rounded the bend, my voice growing hoarse from cheering--and then he was there, the finish line, and he was first!

Out of the eight races we watched, Phil's Shane was the only dog we chose who won. But that didn't diminish the excitement of the races one bit. As soon as the dogs shot out from their gates, I was screaming at my dog, willing him to win. Who knew my heart would have become so entangled in a dog race? If you've never been to one, you ought to go. It's fascinating, it's fun, and it's free!

*Apostrophe added for the benefit of myself and any other grammar freaks out there. ;)

Monday, May 17, 2010

City of Light

(I just wrote the last essay I will ever write for Great Books II. In honor of this momentous occasion, I decided to post the essay here. If I were you, I doubt I would take the time to read it. But I paste it here for posterity's sake ;)

Beauty is the shadow. Beauty is the night, and it is the darkness. Beauty is brokenness and struggle. It is tears and ache of heart. It is these things because they prove the sunshine, they reveal the light. They give hope for the triumph. Beauty is seeing and hoping for light in darkness.


Pain and struggle richly glorify the power and dignity of the Lord, who uses evil to intensify beauty.


Evil magnifies God and intensifies beauty in many different ways; this essay will explore four of those ways. One, evil shows how great God is, because rather than just prevent evil, he is able to turn it into good. Two, iniquity creates a stark backdrop for grace, for there is no grace without punishment, nor redemption without sin. Three, although he did not create evil, God uses it as a poet uses antithesis: for beauty. Lastly, the hardships of this life cause the citizens of the city of God to long for heaven.


God’s power is so great, that rather than just prevent evil, he can take evil and bring out of it good. In his perfect, mysterious wisdom, the Lord deemed “it to be more befitting His power and goodness to bring good out of evil than to prevent the evil from coming into existence” (Augustine, City of God, 811). Rather than create robotic humans who perfectly obeyed him, he gave Adam and Eve the ability to choose sin or righteousness. They chose sin. Because of this choice, a curse was cast upon them and all their descendants. Yet through this black curse, light shone. At the same moment sin entered the garden, a promise was spoken. Thousands of years before the Messiah was to come to earth, God promised redemption. In Genesis 3:15, the “proto-evangelium” (first Gospel) was proclaimed: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (ESV). This was an epically historic moment. God declared that even in the midst of the enmity between man and the devil, there was hope. The Lord spoke of Christ, who was to conquer the death brought to man by the curse. Clearly, evil does not exist because God was powerless to stop it, but because God “foresaw what good he himself would bring out of evil” (Augustine, City of God, 811). Through this existence of evil, greater glory is brought to God, for it emphasizes his almighty power, and highlights his perfect, sovereign goodness.

Evil also highlights grace. Without punishment there can be no grace, and without iniquity redemption could not exist. In his classic novel Les Miserables, Victor Hugo writes of an encounter between an infamous convict, Jean Valjean, and Bienvenu, a humble bishop. When Jean Valjean sought refuge for a night in the bishop’s home, the priest welcomed him with open heart. In spite of the kindness that was shown to him, the convict snuck into the bishop’s room in the black of night, stole a set of silver plates, and slunk out of the house.

Early the next morning, he was caught by the authorities and dragged back to the bishop’s. Walking slowly toward the gendarmes holding Jean Valjean, the old bishop greeted the hardened convict, saying, “I am glad to see you. But! I gave you the candlesticks also…Why did you not take them along with your plates?” (Hugo, Les Miserables, pg. 38) At the bishop’s affirmation that the silver was not stolen, but had been a gift, the gendarmes released Valjean. Overwhelmed by this act of astonishing grace, and encouraged by Bienvenu to “use this silver to become an honest man (pg 39),” from that day forth Valjean turned to God and reformed his life. If Valjean had not been a convict—if sin had not existed—this story of grace that has touched people for hundreds of years, would never have been written. As Romans 5:20 puts it: “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” In the blackness of sin, light shines: bright, beautiful.

Although God is not the author of evil, he foreknew its existence, and preordained what good use he would make of it. As Augustine states: “God would never have created any…whose future wickedness he foreknew, unless he had equally known to what uses in behalf of the good he could turn him, thus embellishing the course of the ages, as it were an exquisite poem set off with antitheses” (City of God, pg 361). For example, the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 killed thousands and shook people across the country. In and of itself, it was a wicked tragedy. God, however, used that disaster for much good. Just months after those two buildings crumbled, smoke and flames billowing across the island, my mother went to New York City. Swaddled in a turquoise coat—a Floridian freezing in the New York cold—she passed out “survival kits” and shared the Gospel with anyone who would listen. Because they were so raw from the recent calamity, many people did listen, and reaching for hope, turned to Christ.

Because he had prescience of future adversity, God created people in such a way that the struggle of light and dark is an innate piece of humanity. In a daedal work of embroidery, a skillful embroiderer weaves in dark and light threads, for it is more pleasing to the eye to have a “lively work, upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark and melancholy work, upon a lightsome ground” (Bacon, Of Adversity). This is also true in paintings and photographs, where artists use shadows to highlight the subject of the artwork. Artists’ use of the opposition of light and dark in art is merely a reflection of God’s use of evil and good in the story of life, a story made beautiful by conflict. As Augustine says, “As…oppositions of contraries lend beauty to the language, so the beauty of the course of this world is achieved by the opposition of contraries, arranged…by an eloquence not of words, but of things” (City of God, pg. 362)

Though the opposition of contraries creates a more glorious story overall, each long day is a struggle, and each moment wrought with a multitude of hardships. These tribulations cause God’s people to long for heaven, where “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Rev. 21:4). A biblical example of a life truly wrought with struggle is the story of Job. In that cosmic argument between God and the devil, everything was stripped from Job. Satan wanted to prove that Job only worshipped the Lord because he had been blessed with great wealth. Since God knew that Job worshipped him from the heart, he gave permission to the devil to torment Job.
First the devil took Job’s property: oxen, donkeys, sheep, and goats. Next he struck down his servants. Then he killed his family. Finally, he attacked Job’s health, causing great boils to rise all over his body. Amongst doubts and pleas to the Lord, Job remained strong in his faith. Despite his (mostly) unwavering trust in the Lord, he longed desperately to be released from struggle. As he sat in dust and ashes, he cried out: “Let the day perish on which I was born!” (Job 3:3). Because of the trials he suffered, Job greatly desired heaven. Of course, this is a dramatic example. For most people, especially in modern Western society, hardship comes in lesser forms. Yet life is still a struggle, and hope is in leaving this world behind and entering into eternal peace in heaven. As Augustine so grittily puts it, “From this hell upon earth there is no escape, save through the grace of the Savior Christ, our God and Lord,” the grace which will take the citizens of the city of God finally Home (Augustine, City of God, 848).

Some may think that since God uses evil to make the story of life more beautiful, it is unnecessary to feed the hungry, care for the orphans, and give to the poor. If struggle makes life beautiful, they may assert, then why attempt to reduce struggle? The answer is that God has clearly called his people to care for the downtrodden. In ancient times, God forbade the Israelites to strip their field completely bare; they were to leave gleanings for the poor (Lev. 19:9-10). It was also forbidden to charge a poor man interest on a loan (Ex. 22:25), or to take a necessity of life from a poor man for collateral (Ex. 22:26-27).
Throughout the Proverbs, God instructs his people to give ear to the poor and downtrodden, to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov. 31:8-9). God’s compassion for the oppressed, however, is not confined to the Old Testament. When Christ began his ministry on earth, he completely redefined helping the poor. Instead of simply defending their rights, he befriended them. Rather than just give them food, he ate with them. He laughed at their joys, and cried with their sorrow.

In fact, Jesus Christ loved the poor so deeply that he said to his disciples: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me…truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt. 21:35-40). The children of God are called to fight against evil and strive to breathe lives of love, grace, and compassion.

Even when God’s people are living lives of grace and compassion, darkness lurks on the edges of light. Yet the Lord uses this evil to magnify himself and intensify beauty in many different ways. One way is that evil shows how great God is, because rather than just prevent evil, he is able to turn it into good. Another was is that iniquity creates a stark backdrop for grace, for there is no grace without punishment, nor redemption without sin. A third way is that although he did not create evil, God uses it as a poet uses antithesis: for beauty. Lastly, the hardships of this life cause the citizens of the city of God to long for heaven.
But God does not only use sorrow and pain and struggle to magnify the glory of this story of life—he also uses his children, who he has called to fight against the evil. That is the beauty of the story: the struggle between good and evil, righteous and unrighteous, darkness and light. The overarching beauty is that the conflict has already been resolved. Good will triumph over evil, righteousness will defeat iniquity. And the story will continue forever in the light of Jesus Christ’s victory.

In this present time, however, in the struggle of the “already but not yet,” we wait for the revelation of total redemption. While we wait, we must engage in the struggle. God has not saved us to remain timid, passive Christians; he has created us to be warriors in a battle against spiritual darkness. This not a battle fought with a sword, but with hearts, by love. In Ephesians 5, Paul exhorts believers to “walk in love, as Christ loved us…” and to “…walk as children of light.” Let us live by these words. Let us enter into the conflict of the story of life bearing flames. Let us carry light into the surrounding darkness and live as strong members of the city of God, a city of light.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Murky Waters

White streaks of sunblock sticky on face, red goggles strapped to eyes, I waded into the lake. Caroline followed just behind me. Lake weeds rose up and brushed across my stomach, tugged at my feet, wrapped around my wrists. I dove under water and saw the green murkiness rise all around me. Hand over head, long strokes, kicking feet. Breath. Repeat.

As I moved farther out in the lake, aiming for a far-off dock, spooky thoughts swirled through my mind, a reflection of the green waters twisting around me. Before getting into the water, I truly was not afraid, But out there, far from shore, I could not get visions of long, sharp teeth sinking into my bare flesh. I tried praying. I tried thinking about other things. Yet always, always lurking at the back of my mind was that picture of teeth, teeth, teeth.

I didn't get eaten. Not even close. I swam the 300 meters to the dock in 8 minutes and 21 seconds, Caroline just behind. For her sake (ok, and a lil bit for mine), we rested a bit then headed back. By this point a boat had entered the lake. Waves rose around me, shoving me toward shore. Fighting against them, I swam hard, often swiveling around to check for Caroline's head bobbing in the water. She was always there, and I made it back in 7 minutes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Animal Farm

Chairs circled on the green carpet, mildewed green couch closing us in. On Drew's chair, Bon Qui Qui, our new cockatiel, fluffed her feathers and cocked her tufted head. Zibby and Willanona, the rats, scampered round and round the floor, sometimes tickling toes and making girls squeal. Sweetpea, the mouse, slept in glass aquarium, and Hermione, the cat,--quite awake--prowled outside the screen. Pots of flowers crowded on porch pass-thru, our gift to Mommy for Mother's day. Conversation rose up and down, to the left and in swirls, in that relaxed manner of lazy words on a warm May day. We talked of summer plans and ideas for my graduation party, of going swimming and dreams of redoing the porch.

Now it is time to wrap my new apron round my waist and pull my curls back, to pull dishes from cupboards and snatch out spices. Daddy is in charge of the meat (what a man!), but I shall make the rest: mashed potatoes, lemon-garlic green beans, and a fresh garden salad. What sweet times these are, these days of living with my family before Drew goes to California for the summer, Macy to Hungary for a month, and me to Idaho for college.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ohhh yessss!

So, I'm about to get into my car to drive to the end of the world (or...Kissimmee), and you know what's really great? I HAVE AC!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Oh Hey

Did I mention Mirabelle's air conditioning now works?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Return of the....Air Conditioning!

I always forget how hot summer is. How humid summer is. Being without A/C in my car is a really good reminder. A couple weeks ago I followed a "free A/C check-up" sign to Mobile, and had Mirabelle looked at. The man who examined her told me it would cost at least $200 dollars to fix her. I decided I could last till August. Then it got hotter, and hotter, and then the temperature rose over 90 degrees, and all the kids I cart around were crying in the back seat as sweat dripped down their faces and wind roared in their ears. Maybe that sounds rather melodramatic, but it's true. Anyway, I decided the air had to be fixed. So, hoping for a slightly better deal, I (along with some help from my parents :), took my car to Sean, the man who fixed the A/C last time.

When he called to let me know the car was done, I got right to the point:
"How much did it cost?"
"Well," he answered slowly, "it was less than a million dollars."
"Ok, that's good," I laughed. "How much was it?"
"Well...it was kinda hidden in there, and I had to work at it for a while...so I charged you $50 for labor."
"How much did the part cost?"
"Nothing--it was just a little hose." (At least, I think that's what he called it.)
"You mean, it's only going to cost me $50? Period?" I couldn't believe my ears!
"Plus tax, which makes it about $53."
"Wow! Then why did the men at Mobile tell me it was going to be at least $200?"
"Because you're a female walking into an auto shop."

Thank the Lord for honest mechanics like Sean--even if he did tease me a little. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Ever since I saw Zach Williams perform in December, I have been captivated by this song. His ragged voice is so turbulent with emotion that images flash through my mind so vividly I feel I was there, watching it all, crying after James in my own broken voice. Listen.

Monday, April 19, 2010


More like, no style.

I can't swim freestyle. That's all there is to it. My body fights me, twisting and turning in anything but coordination. How will I swim a third of a mile (and then bike and run) in this unflowing rhythm?

Prayer. Practice. Perseverance. And probably lots of help from those who can swim.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pineapple Man

While I was out walking baby Hunter the other day, Jessie texted me to say that she was going to do a sprint triathlon this summer. For whatever reason, my first thought was: I'll do it, too! I printed up an eleven week training schedule, convinced myself I could complete it in seven, and went running. And so it is that I, the unathletic, uncoordinated asthmatic am training for a sprint triathlon (.3 miles swimming, 15 miles biking, 3.5 miles running)!

Monday, April 12, 2010

This is Grace.

Avoirdupois clung to Rebecca's heart, but there was no weight in her womb. When Isaac cried out to the Lord, God heard the man's tears and healed the woman's barrenness. Twins formed within her, and before they were yet born, struggled inside her. Troubled by this pother, Rebecca sought an explanation from God. "Two nations are in thy womb," answer the Lord, "and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels" (Gen. 25:3). Before they had breathed the breath of this world, before they had entered in blood and lived in sin or righteousness, Jacob was loved by God, and Esau hated. This, this is grace. Both deserved death, because both had inherited condemnation from the sin of Adam. But God--in his inexplicable sovereignty--chose the younger to rule the elder, the weaker to conquer the strong.

(A summary of the 35th chapter of the 16th book of The City of God.)