Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Kitchen

On the floor the cold floor

my toes curl I contemplate

bread cookies pie

which smell will fill permeate the air

Comfort this is Comfort

apron strings tightened

dough makes my hands sticky

oil leaves a trail down my arm

puffs of white powder settle on the counter

clinks, slams, whirrs chop the silence

bowls dirtied washed dirtied

worries are poured in with the milk

beaten with the eggs cooked

I don’t know why people need therapy or spas

the kitchen’s got me covered with chocolate that is

Comfort this is Comfort
Words scare me.
They’re like tourists who don’t speak any English
But chatter excitedly in their impenetrable hollow.
Flocking about, but garnering only
Blank stares.
Sometimes they run altogether and are indistinguishable –
One from another –
Sometimes you’re completely unaware of their presence
Until your own squinted eyes reveal
Their staunch presence in the background
Of your tangible memories.
You know they must be important –
The fulcrum of days, music, business procedures, wanderings.
They hang like a fog –
But when you swing at them,
They slide through the crevices of your fingers.
Unable to be grasped.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rainy Day

The drops clatter on the
Metal covering above my head
Like large grains of rice
Falling from the sky after a wedding
Clank, clank, clank
Each drop purposeful until
It pours onto its obstruction
Dissipating onto the silver sheet
Melding into a solid reflection pool
Singular parts lose their individuality
Lost in their common identity
Gathering, weaving, trickling
Making its way to the ground

The Symphony

Dissonant notes and voices reverberate
Through the metal ducts -
Climbing their way through the vents.
From a small alcove, a deep hum begins.
Whirring, buzzing, settling into an
Uninterrupted stream of rhythm.
Behind the shelves, lips form urgent whispers.
Murmuring –
Cresting into an abrupt exclamation –
Erupting in a shriekish giggle.
Erratic clacking weaves itself in –
Noticeable only in the occasional breaks
Of one “musician” or another.
They all play, but resolutely –
Determined not to match another’s beat.
Yet they cannot be wholly independent –
Forced to mingle among the books
And dance down the library aisles.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Today the clouds look like an egg carton.
One huge sheet comprised of rolls and dips.
Up, down. Up, down.
In between the curves, there are breaks –
Allowing the sky to gaze through.
It seems undecided though.
In some spots the clouds are pulling apart more quickly,
As though the sky were somewhat desperate to make itself known.
Elsewhere, it rests contentedly.


What should I
do today? How should I
live tomorrow? Should I
go here or there? Should I
do this or that?
For some, it seems
as though the world
is black and white.
Sharp, clear, definitive.
If only. The lines
Didn’t blur. Not everything
Had pros. There were
Large neon signs.
Pick this. Choose that.
But instead I waver.
Vacillating in a
Tireless sea of questions.
Clawing at my mind.
Dancing through my dreams.
Mocking, laughing, destroying
Attempts at clarity.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Don't Forget!

Note to self: Mud makes your shoes feel about ten pounds heavier. Especially Mexican mud. Probably.
This is one of the simpler lessons I took away from the weekend I spent down in Tijuana, Mexico this past Christmas Break. I’m a member of the Evangelism Club on campus and as kind of the culmination of our semester we spent four days on an evangelism trip. It was a really unique time – focusing on evangelism for four straight days. I don’t have a lot of experience “evangelizing” in the first place, but I have even less experience evangelizing in Spanish. So basically, the best kind of opportunity for God to teach me some things about myself, who He is and the Gospel in general.

Note to self: God doesn’t need you. Not even your voice.
It was definitely not too exciting to lose my voice the night before we left on this trip. But it was ok at first - I figured I would just wait it out and it would come back in about a day. But three days, lots of tea, and some interesting cough drops later, I continued to sound like a seventy-year old chain smoker. Or worse, because I think they can usually be understood without having to spit in people’s ears. But my voicelessness wound up being an awesome reminder that no matter how much things stray from our plans, God is totally and completely in control. Not only this, but He honestly doesn’t need me to carry out His perfect will. He just uses me. And sometimes that just happens to be more in the form of smiles, wiggling eyebrows and spit-filled ears.

Note to self: Cute kids sometimes have firecrackers hidden in their pockets. Literally, not figuratively.
Our first night down there, Friday, was spent helping a local church with the hosting of a children’s event. This means we traipsed around handing out invitations inviting people to a free movie. Back at the church, there was some singing, a short message, and a showing of an animated nativity story movie. (It was during this movie I was surprised by a bright light and loud *pop* courtesy of the impish boy sitting next to me). Afterwards, everyone had hot cocoa and we played a couple of games with the kids. It was freezing cold, but simply wonderful if I do say so myself.

Note to self: Dogs are scary and should be avoided at all costs.
Saturday and Sunday afternoons we walked around and passed out gospel tracts and invitations to the services we were hosting that night. Most of the houses were gated, so if people weren’t home, we just stuck the tracts and invitations in their gates. At one point, several of us were walking along the street, past a parked car. All of the sudden, a large scary dog jumped out from under the car – I am almost positive this dog actually came out sideways – and attached his mouth to Tim’s leg. How Tim detached this dog I didn’t really see, since I was a little too busy screaming, but thankfully there was no harm done. Physical harm that is. At another house, while speaking to a lady (well, I was observing), a little dog wandered out of the gate and decided to make Jana’s leg its fire hydrant. Simply fantastic. Any slightly warm thoughts I had ever had of dogs were chased away by the leg-clamping, leg-watering dogs we encountered that day.

Note to self: Ladles in big pots of hot chocolate should be held at all times. Unless you enjoy disappearing acts and consequent liquidy ladle searches.
The evening services were held at two different local churches and consisted of a time of worship (accompanied by our instrument-playing guys) and then a gospel message. Saturday night Adrian spoke, but Sunday the pastor of the church we were at, Cristo Vive, preached. I didn’t understand a word that was said (besides Jesus) but I loved knowing that the gospel was being passionately taught and just sat there praying for the people around me. Afterwards we once again enjoyed hot chocolate, cookies, and conversation (or attempts at it).

Note to self: You are always less than you imagine yourself to be. And God’s grace is so much greater.
One night I was really struck by my ungratefulness for my salvation and by my very poor comprehension of the nature of God’s grace. I am so selfish and willing to accept God’s grace poured out on me, but this hasn’t spurred me to long and to work to see it poured out on others. I tend to be pretty content to just watch people wither away without ever knowing my beautiful Savior. Even though I know I don’t deserve God’s grace, I still think and act in a way that denies this. In reality, there is not a single reason I should receive it any more than the next person. Yet, it has been given to me. So why do I not long that everyone else should taste the sweetness of undeserved mercy alongside me? I claim that my hope and my joy is that one day I will be forever in the presence of my Savior. The communion I will have with Him, the ability to gaze upon His glory, will be my inheritance. But it has not pierced my soul to think that while I stand in the presence of my beautiful Savior for all eternity, there are those who will forever be separated from Him. My prayer is that seeing God’s Son rejected will tear us apart. That we will ache with the knowledge that the people around us do not know Christ. And that we will do something about this.

Note to self: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace” (Acts 20:24).

Monday, January 12, 2009

To My Pen

To my pen
Whose slim figure
Lies in
The arch of my thumb

To my pen
Whose solace I seek
In pain
And in confusion

To my pen
Whose ungiving rigidity
Is firm
When I am not

To my pen
Who runs across
Paper with
Grace and fluidity

Creating words
I do not know
Words that
Have been hidden

But are now
Alive and free
Across and down lines

To my pen
The key to my being
Unsung songs

Playing Doctor

Small hands poke and prod –
Squeezing my leg
Feeling my cheek
My mouth is pried open
To make way for a popsicle stick
Just when I think
I am healed
I discover I am not
Diagnose yourself!
Tell us what is wrong!
Pretend medicine can
Fix pretend scrapes
But not self-inflicted injuries:
My desire to be perfect
- striving after air –
And the frustration that follows
If only band-aids and unopened
Ice packs could heal that
But I must settle
For being bounced on
By giggling children
As the yellow
Leaf tumbles
Down, down

The breeze
Catches it
And holds it

Hovering, floating
On air
Like magic

Invisible strings
Break before
It dives

To lie in a
Field of leaves
All waiting
To be crunched

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Where the Glory Never Fades

There was a woman who was a part of our church until she died at age 96. I remember hearing when I was young that she wished the Lord would just take her home. This seemed somewhat strange to me, although I supposed if I was that old and had health problems and such maybe life wouldn’t be all that great for me either. Though I am still such a baby in Christ, having spent only six years as a Christian at this point, it seems that with each day that passes I understand Mrs. Cocke’s sentiments better and better. I am only 19 years old and yet there are days when I feel a longing to simply skip this whole life and finally stand in the presence of my Savior. I cannot imagine what an ache I will have if I ever reach the age of 96.

I often think we have been so ingrained with shallow pictures of heaven that if we were to be completely honest, we would have to admit it does not always sound all that exciting. Perhaps we think of streets of gold, white robes and halos for everyone, lots of food, and plenty of singing. Well, this is nice, we might think, but somewhat boring. If that’s all it is, why should I be in such a hurry to get there? Of course, we might also correctly remember that heaven will be a place where there will be no more pain or sorrow – our tears will be wiped away. Well, that’s a little better. But still, there is plenty of joy to be had here on earth, and sometimes it even seems to make up for all of the suffering. Oh! If only we did not stop there!

Several years ago I was talking to my friend about death and heaven and she told me that the only thing that made her sad about dying was thinking about all of the things she would miss. If she died the next day, she wouldn’t ever have a job, be married, or have kids. I can still remember feeling completely amazed at her response. I told her I did not think that at the moment when I was standing before my beautiful and glorious God, my Creator and Redeemer, I would for one minute be thinking about anything I was missing out on. I supposed I would be consumed with my Savior and totally and completely unconcerned about anything else.

A sermon that has stayed with me for years was on Genesis 15:1, which says, “After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." Notice that the Lord tells Abram that He himself is Abram’s reward. There is nothing else mentioned, because there is no other reward that could possibly compare. Then we see in Psalm 73 that psalmist cries out “Whom have I in heaven but you?...God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” The NASB has a cross-reference to Psalm 16:5 which says, “The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup.” We can thus see that the word portion in Ps. 73:26 is not strong enough; He is the portion of our inheritance. Actually, since we have no one in heaven but Himself, He is our very inheritance; He is our reward. What do we seek to gain from death but God himself? If we seek anything else, I don’t think it will ever sound all that great to us. I don’t think we will ever really feel any particularly strong draw to heaven. We can sing plenty here on earth and halos just might not suit us. But God Himself is glory and majesty. He is the source of all things, but has no source Himself. There is nothing in heaven or on earth that is more worthy or excellent, rather, God is all – the very one whose very existence ought to throw us to the ground in worship and cause us to gasp with desire for Him.

I went through a period in my life when I was desperately afraid of death. I did not even want to get into the car for fear I would get in a crash and die. I could not stand the idea of leaving this world and standing before my Maker. Now, it is my very hope and joy. While I once cried at the idea of being exposed before God, now I cry out with the desire to be in the presence of my Lord. There are times when I experience nights like I did the other day, when the entire sky was a flaming orange streaked with bright pink – alive and vibrant. It seemed as though color were pulsating out of the heavens, awakening the world and screaming of majesty. Moments like this seem to me to be a small taste of heaven. I can only think How glorious, and yet how much infinitely more glorious is my God! I drink it all in, thankful for such beauty displayed for all to see, yet longing for the One whose beauty has no comparison. There are also times when the deepness of my sin so oppresses me that my whole being yearns for the moment when I will fully and completely cast off my sinful desires, the cravings of this world, and will be totally satisfied in my Lord. Oh, how much there are times when I would like nothing better than to forego all my years of sanctification and simply gaze upon my Savior’s face!

Yes, I once thought Mrs. Cocke was somewhat strange for actually wanting to die, but over the past 6 years there have been many times when I have wanted the very same thing. Oftentimes, it has been overwhelming. But still I live and thank God for the life He has given me, however long it may be. When I look upon His face, when I meet Him as much as I can on this earth, then do I wholeheartedly echo the Apostle Paul: “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” One day, we will stand before God and we will know Him in a way we have not known Him yet. We will be overcome by His holiness, His beauty, His glory, His majesty and we will cry out “Woe is me! For I am a man of unclean lips!” Yet we will not wither away because we will be dressed in the robes of Christ, cleansed by His blood and dressed in His righteousness. And we will spend eternity praising God for who He is and that He has poured out His grace upon us, giving us Himself as our inheritance, our very great reward.
Until this time, sing with me:
I long to be where the praise is never-ending,
Yearn to dwell where the glory never fades,
Where countless worshippers will share one song,
And cries of “worthy” will honor the Lamb!