Saturday, July 29, 2006


I like the spare kind.
And the leave kind in the fall.
And the kind that lets me put on a hoodie and jeans
at the end of a long day.

I like the kind that gets me away from talk radio and back to the music.
And the kind that gets me from a red light to a green light,
that gets rid of a flat tire,
and that puts me in a new place with new people every now and then.

It's the kind that happens on the inside of me
that I seem to have a bit of trouble with.
Don't get me wrong.
I like that kind, too.
After the fact.
But it's not always easy while it's happening.

I've been reading Donald Miller.
He might show up here a little more often.
I'm only on page 81.

"Everybody has to change, or they expire. Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons....Only the good stories have the characters different at the end than they were at the beginning....Leave....Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed."

I'm not saying that I'm planning on going anywhere big -
leaving that is.
Not at this point anyway.
But I like the concept.
And I think I know it to be true...
in many regards in my own life,
and in at least some regards in the lives of others.
Not leaving, like running away.
But changing.

And even though it might be something that can be tough for me
I also know it's something that's good.
Change is good.
It lets us become.
If we don't change,
We just stay the way we are.
And that goes against who we're called to be.
Always changing.
Becoming more.
Becoming better.
And knowing that it happens
within the story of grace.
The story that shapes us.
The story that we are a part of.
The story that has characters at the end that are different from who they were at the beginning.
Except for one.
He never changes.
He who promised is faithful.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sweat the small stuff...

...not my overall philosophy on life --
I try not to sweat too much stuff at all --
but I've concluded that it matters.

I think it goes back to a piece that I read in college.
A piece that identified "noticing" as a gift.

I kind of chuckle at that one sometimes.
Because sometimes I miss a lot.

Recently I saw a card that said,
"Some people make things happen.
Some people watch things happen.
And some people say, 'What happened?'"

Sadly, I saw myself as the last of the 3.
Missing details.
Missing the goings on of what's around me.
Ask our family friend who put a beautiful arch over her front sidewalk.
I walked under it -
leaves and branches all around me-
and when I arrived in the backyard
she asked if I liked the archway.
My honest response was, "What archway?"

Perhaps I'm simply not a superstar at noticing stuff.
And, although embarrassing, humbling, and quite humourous at times,
It's not the end of the world.

Noticing people, however, is where I think
"sweating the small stuff" matters.

Things like a few weeks ago when someone remembered
that sugar-free ice cream was a better choice
and picked some up,
just for me.
Or someone quietly offering me driving directions
Or chuckling aloud, offering me directions to the stadium store
Or bringing a large, 2 milk and a sweetener over
when I am having a rough day.
Or giving me a hug
when I'm frustrated that I need a puffer
in the middle of a good shift at Ultimate -
Or remembering that I don't have all I need for a canoe trip
and bringing what I'm missing,
without me even asking.
Or sending me an email after I called
and couldn't talk because I was crying.
And knowing that I just needed
that little nudge of encouragement.

And I guess I could go on for a long while.
It's the small stuff.

No one bought me a new car
or paid my mortgage
or wrote my history paper
(even though I offered a good bribe :)...)
no one convinced me it was all going to be okay
(even though I'm too stubborn to be convinced of lots of things --
maybe they knew that and didn't want to try...)

But the small stuff makes a difference.
It's the little things.
Like trying to understand a person for who they really are.
And not being so self-focused
that I forget what's all out there -
not just on the outside,
but what's going on on the inside, too.

It really matters...
or so I've noticed.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Granola Bars and Blue Doors

So I was talking to a friend yesterday
about love
and what it really is
and how we express it.
And how as a culture we're scared to express it,
and yet we need to know that it's there.
And that it's real.
How parts of it are very intentional -
letting people know that you love them, that is.
But how we're not always comfortable with
how to say it
or how to show it
because we're afraid of what kind of response we'll be given.
Or maybe because we're afraid
that there won't be any response at all.

And then I got an email from someone wise
who quoted someone else wise
who said,
"Never look down on anyone,
unless you are reaching down to help him up."

And it reminded me of the man on the corner
who put a smile on my face this week.
He was asking for money or food.
I rolled down my window and handed him a granola bar.
For which he thanked me and smiled.
And then he paused and said,
"Nice blue doors."
It was a friendly chuckle.
Not a mocking or judgmental chuckle...
(who would mock my car? :) )
But kind of one that said,
"You don't have it all together either."
Almost like he was impressed by them.
And glad that I left them blue
instead of painting them to match everything else.

And then my thinking went back
to the conversation I was having with my friend.
About how love works.
And how often love is expressed by mutual trust.
A shared willingness to show weakness.
And a shared acceptance of who we are as imperfect people.

It seemed so simple for the man on the corner.
He looked down on me...
to help me up to a different understanding.

Sometimes it seems so difficult
with the people whom we really love.
Or who really love us.
Why is it so terrifying?

It challenges me to be honest.
It challenges me to be vulnerable
and not pretend like I have it all together.
And it challenges me to listen.
To really listen.
And to keep working on the invaluable need
to notice.

And it reminds me how important it is to
thank those who have shared their "blue doors" with me.
And have let me share mine in return
(both pre- and post- functioning handles...)
And for that matter, those who have helped me work on the glitches.
Like making the "blue door"
actually work the way it was designed to.

And so I can drive on,
roll down the window
on my blue "door"
and hand over some Quaker Chewy bars.
Want a ride?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Typhoon Parties...

So, I know it's late, but I just hung up the phone with my friend in Taipei.
She is having a typhoon a snow day she says.
The office is closed and no one is working because the wind is crazy.
So she went out for lunch
and now they're planning a"typhoon party".
People over to hang out and play games.
and not work.
Sign me up for one of them.

So, she's great.
And says that she misses life here.
And wants you all to email her.
Even if she is a slow responder.
(That's like an EMT, but the opposite...)

And I'd like to share my delight at the fact
that she kept talking to me even though her floor was covered in puddles from some weird moisture thing in the wall or the ceiling or near the window.
On a fourth floor dorm, you shouldn't have puddles on the floor.
But she did.
And she stayed on the phone.
She did try to clean it case some of you think she is irresponsible and just leaving it, or leaving it for someone else, but she tried whilst talking.
to no avail.
But we chatted on...
into the wee hours of the morning.
actually it's like 1:30 in the afternoon for her now.
Just like the old days.
In front of the yellow canopy.
Ah, the yellow canopy.

Good times in the community car.
Which for her sake I will mention...
is no longer a community car.
the door handles are all fixed.
I took some tools and another friend to the wreckers
and we figured it out.
We took off the old
and made them into my new.
It was cheap
and we felt pretty smart.
So she and I?
We went for ice cream...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

One is never enough...

When I was a kid
and we visited people's houses,
my mom always said we could take "two".
2 cookies, 2 glasses of juice, 2 hand-fulls.
Less was okay, but never more.
We of course figured out the system.
2 bowls of chips, 2 of each kind of cookie.
We were so smart. :)

So, 2.
I was going to write 2 things, but I guess that story is kind of one.
So the other one will have to wait for another day...

Thought #2...a comment in an email with a friend awhile back got me to thinking.

The intention in describing the person we were talking about was to say that they definitely put God first.
Only it came out differently.
The message came to me saying that this person "defiantly put God first."
And although funny,
and undoubtedly a typo,
I have to admit that it challenged me quite intensely.
I know that I strive to "definitely" put God first.
And sometimes I really do.
Sometimes I surprise even myself
at how God can work in me to make something possible to hand over
even when it seems like humanly speaking
I want to hold onto it even more tightly.
However, more often than I'd like to admit,
I "defiantly" put God first.
I give Him everything except for the last detail.
I give Him everything...kind of...
I have to give it back
again and again.
I give Him everything
when that's what He's forced me to do.
Not just nudged me
or whispered in my ear,
but shaken me up good
or knocked me to my knees
because He knows that sometimes
I learn the best that way.

Ah, typos... :)
I like that God uses the small stuff.
I also like that my brain is taking time to be pensive about this stuff.
Ah, summer.

Friday, July 07, 2006

"Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes -
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries."

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Yeah, I wish I could take credit for that one,
but I can't.

I do like it however.
It goes back to that delights thing.
But not so much as noticing the blessings,
as simply noticing God.

When talking to some youth group kids about "quiet time",
a friend shared with them that they don't have to fill the space.
It's enough sometimes to just be
and know that God is there, too.
In His presence is a good place to be.

And it brings me to another good quote.
This time from Clive Staples...
(aka C.S. Lewis...)

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell."

God's glory is all around us.
Whether we choose to notice it
or acknowledge it
is a totally different matter.

Not that I'm opposed to "plucking blackberries",
(I think raspberries would be better...)
but maybe when we do,
it wouldn't be a bad idea to be barefoot.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Two stories.
The first happened in college.
Okay the second one did, too.
Oh, college.
Oh, learning...but the not the kind
of learning you think happens at college.
Much better than learning about the stuff that is
"beyond the ken of both victor and vanquished."
Yeah, I had to ask what it meant, too. :)

The first.
I was telling a friend how writing was an "out" for me.
She chuckled and said, "No, it's an "in".
"What?' I asked, giving her my scrunched up face.
She laughed at my face (only because it was scrunched...)
"It's my totally honest me," I told her, trying to explain what I meant by "out".
"I know," she assured me.
"It might be an "out" for you, but it's an "in" for the rest of us.
That's when we get to see your heart.
You're honest and real when you write.
So for those of us who read what you write,
and who you write to,
We get the "in".
We get to know you."

Ah, good friend.
She taught me how to be honest more often than when I write,
and for that I thank her.
But she was right.
And so I write.

Story two.
In my challenging, but fantastic writing class my last year of college,
we were assigned a "delight".
At the time, I wasn't really sure what to write about.
Our prof talked about finding that $5 bill
in your winter coat pocket
the first time you pull it out in the fall.
And about holding his first grandchild.
I couldn't relate.
What I wrote about is immaterial at this point,
but I like the idea of "delights".
It's a great way of acknowledging the simple moments of joy in my life.
Some are things that make me smile a little.
Others really "get me" and it's really joy.
And so, although I am not planning to dive in to the real ENG301 style,
with adjectives and metaphors and great descriptions,
I think I see my own heart (refer to story 1)
when I'm really honest
and take the time to enjoy the little blessings.
Cause there are lots.
Need I say it again?
He is good.

Recently -
**I got a scrape from diving in Ultimate.
It's from diving for a disc (which I missed,
but let's ignore that point for now).
I gave my best effort.
And it reminded me of the other scrape on my leg
from playing beach volley-ball.
I dove a lot (the sand was soft and it was fun...)
But someone on my team said I was a hard-worker.

**My friend gave me a serious tutoring session
on how to find my way around the UofM.
She even printed out a picture of the building I needed to find.
And on my first day there, I only got honked at once.
And I didn't get lost.
I was quite excited.
(I got lost in the library on day 2, but let's ignore that part...)

**I was riding in the car with a friend tonight.
We passed someone riding a bike.
She turned around towards the biker,
clapped her hands
and said,
"Good job! Good job!"
I chuckled to myself.

That's all.
Not all.
But enough for now.