Monday, August 31, 2009

As Honey on the Tongue

Lynn was my mother's best friend growing up. I heard stories about her, pored over pages of the Athens High Yearbook and imagined what kind of life she and my mother lived as beauty queens, cheerleaders and editors of the book I looked upon. They were snappy dressers and their beehive hairdos were teased to perfection. Those were two very classy ladies.

When I went to college, and found myself romping around on my mother's old Athens stomping grounds, I serendipitously found myself involved in a Bible Study, led by... none other guessed it, Lynn herself.

When the two of us realized who each other was, I believe there was some immediate special connection between us. But, for the next two years, that initial spark had time to fan into a truly beautiful friendship. It was a relationship that shaped my faith, that challenged me out of my insecurity, that changed me, through and through.

Each week, I had the chance to sit in Lynn's study, gathered with other female Young Life leaders. As we circled around each other and opened Scripture together, I literally trembled with the presence of the Lord. I know it sounds strange to say, but I did. I physically felt His nearness in that place.

Lynn had a ravenous appetite for the Word. She shared it with us, sifting over verses with careful consideration and reverence. She truly saw (she truly sees) the Bible as sustenance, as daily bread to be consumed and satiated with. She inspired my own prayers for that kind of hunger.

In Velvet Elvis, author Rob Bell talks about the Rabbi training that young students would undergo as they began their education:

The first level of education was called Bet Sefer (which means 'House of the Book.') Sometimes, the rabbi would take honey and place it on the students' fingers and then have them taste the honey, reminding them that God's words taste like honey on the tongue. The rabbi wanted the students to associate the word of God with the most delicious, exquisite thing they could possibly imagine."


Along a similar vein, I'm currently reading Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book (so far, SO good). In it, he mentions Clive Staples Lewis as writing:

[Reading in which we receive the author's purposes rather than for our own] is like being taken for a bicycle ride by a man who may know the roads we have never yet explored. The other [reading] is like adding one of those motor attachments to our own bicycle and then going for one of our familiar rides.

And, so, I turn my prayers towards that end... I want to read His Book with eyes and attention towards the mysterious adventure that is knowing Him. I want to savour its sweetness and let my hair flap in the wind of the ride. I pray that like God granted Daniel, he would give me too a "knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning" (Daniel 1:12).

I want proverbial cavities from all the sweet honey I consume.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mark My Words

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never could never hurt me? That's a load of bullhonky. I believe in the power of words.

Words have the uncanny ability to slither underneath your skin, get inside your blood and revolutionize. They are more than one-dimensional marks on a page, they are little warriors, championing to change the world with their implications.

List of things that thrills me include, but are not limited to the following:
a. reading other people's words
b. writing my own words
c. (most recently) printing words

On a recent visit to Gordo, AL (of all places), I encountered the most interesting 79 year-old man who shares my enthusiasm. Above is pictured a letterpress project he's been working on. In a plethora of typefaces (and boy do I love typefaces), he has pressed the most peculiar set of words.

When he took me over to show me the display, I could see the glee behind his wrinkled smile as he defined each word. A bibliobibuli, he says, is a person that reads so much that they confuse fiction with reality. Wiktionary says that:

The term was coined in 1957 by H.L. Mencken, who said "There are people who read too much: the bibliobibuli". From the Greek "biblio", meaning books, and the Latin "bibulous", from "bibere" (to drink).

"There are people who read too much: bibliobibuli. I know some who are constantly drunk on books, as other men are drunk on whiskey or religion. They wander through this most diverting and stimulating of worlds in a haze, seeing nothing and hearing nothing."

I say, that's pretty badass.

I quite like the notion of being lost in the sea of formative words. I've lately been hungering to read a book that changes me - whose message does more than float across my eyeballs. I long to internalize and be moved by a story, by the poetry of someone else's take on this life and living it.

Eugene Peterson, in Eat This Book, talks about reading as an immense gift. He says, "but if only the wods are assimilated, taken into the soul --eaten, chewed, gnawed, received in unhurried delight. Words of men and women long dead, or separated by miles and/or years, come off the page and enter our lives freshly and precisely, conveying truth and beauty and goodness..."

That's what I want to be about. To slow down to feast on words that way. To, again, learn what it means to read because words are my nutrition.

My story, being written line by line, day by day is one of many loves coming together. In a few weeks, I'll go off to learn how to be on the back end of communication. I'll write and then, my friends, I'll put the muscle into pressing my/other's/any words onto paper. I'll mentally wrestle and then I'll physically labor.

All for words. All because I live and breathe them. All because I think there's still a place for them. Blogs, twitter, kindles... they're all fine and good.

But pen and paper.


The written word.

I'll crusade for them until I'm expired.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bring Hope To My Heart, Relief to My Mind

The cat is out of the bag. The deed has been done. The decision has been made.

In mid-September, I will depart from my little life here in Birmingham to go enroll in an 8-week concentrated letterpress program in Asheville, North Carolina at the Penland School of Crafts!

I don't much believe in coincidences. I don't think much of fate.

I do believe this has been working it's way out for a long while now.

You see, when I worked back at skirt!, I maintained a weekly blog. There was really no rhyme or reason to what I wrote about. When I got jazzed up about something, I shared it. That's precisely why I was enthused to be able to mention Penland here, after following a rabbit trail of my own research about this artists colony in the woods.

It was just an unreality then, as I sat behind the confines of my desk.


When I lost my job just three months later, I was infused with the courage to chase my letterpress interests. Those first few days were adrenaline-filled. I was all over the place, dreaming dreams I'd been too comfortable to conceptualize for a long time.

That's when I remembered Penland.

So, I applied and have been accepted to the two month work-study program. I'll be learning from Bryan Baker, a seasoned artisan. I'll be living there on campus, toiling in the kitchen for a large part of my tuition, and soaking up the autumn beauty.

This decision has been troubling me for days.

While I'm not super rooted here, I do have a lease. I do have a (minimum-wage) paying job that I adore. I do have friends, bills, responsibilities here.

But, this opportunity knocked.

And so, after negotiating with my abundantly generous roommates, after talking with my bend-over-backwards-kind employer, I'm set to go. And, I'll be gone til November. I'll be gone til November.

Sure, I'm a little uneasy about escaping what has been several months of momentum-building time here. I'd be lying to say I didn't think about if/how I'll fit back into things upon my return. But, this opportunity knocked. Roared rather. And seized by a wave of bravery, I'm taking it. I'm chasing it. I'm not looking back (not even to wave goodbye to my diminishing bank account).

For those near and far, come pay me a visit. I hear Asheville is breathtaking in the fall.

Keep an eye on this blog as I'll be reporting live from Penland.

(Thank you to all of the without-words-wonderful people who have been SO instrumental in encouraging me towards this decision. Bette said it all, you truly are the wind beneath my wings).

(This song was the inspiration for my blog title.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Fear and Trembling of Praise

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the LORD.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:7-8

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The God Who Sees Me

When the movie, August Rush, came out nearly two years ago, I could hardly contain my glee. I am a diehard (Felicity-originated) Keri Russell fan. She's a beautiful human being and stunning actress. Sure, this particular movie didn't get rave reviews. I knew that going in. But, gosh darn it if I wouldn't devote a couple hours of my life, just to spend the face-to-screen time with her.

That said, the movie was just about as over-the-top as critics claimed. All other actors performances were sub-par, and one of the main characters was nearly intolerable.

The movie, therefore, was a quite unlikely source for foundational wisdom. But, boy did I ever learn an invaluable lesson from it about the absolute Sovereignty of God.

The story tracks a young boy whose illegitimate birth is followed by adoption and a family life that never-really-was. Though the child lacks the love and support of a functional family, living most of his young years on the streets, he is somehow nurtured into discovering a remarkable musical talent. By some unbelievable Hollywood notion, the kid ends up at Julliard, taking classes, and then, directing his own major symphony.

The final scene links the entire story together, showing that in unearthing his music, he was able to bring peace and reconciliation to his parents, who by fate, meet again in the crowd of his phenomenal concert.

Of course, it's an unlikely story. Certainly, a lifetime of details can't come together to make harmonic sense in the span of just two non-film hours.

But, gollee, if I don't believe that our God is a capable of working together the pieces of our lives into something just as meaningful.

Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (Phillipians 4:9, the msg)

For years, I've held to this belief that my scattered, seemingly unrelated facets, experiences, relationships and interests can and will be integrated into something sensical -- better, something ravishingly beautiful.

For the sake of keeping watch on my loose tongue, suffice it to say I'm currently facing some BIG decisions about my livelihood. I certainly feel as though I'm on the brink of life-altering things. Details will come with time, I assure you. But for now, I have to rest in the truth that He's working me into a harmony.

I have to trust that He truly is the God who sees me, the God who knows my story and hears my prayers.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Delightfully Disillusioned

Seriously disturbed sleep patterns + an altogether fascination with (500) Days of Summer and its accompanying musical treats (see stylized video above. be amused) = some wee morning hour musings of my own.

In attempt not to be a spoiler for those who have not yet seen this adorable cinematic gem, I will simply share some corollary thoughts caused by my viewing... until you're able to go see it yourself. And I strongly urge you to do so.

The more I live, the more I learn how little I know about relationships. They are inexplicably mysterious forces. Their intricate complexities are not to be reckoned with. I've never been in love, but I think I can deduce that it is a strenuously splendid thing that can neither be reasoned into or rushed out of. Similarly, it cannot be conjured from a million well-wishes or come-hither smiles. Love is a profound enigma. I believe it comes when its ready, not when we think we are seasoned for it.

Though I know some about the feminine tendency toward attachment and ridiculous future-casting mental escapades, I also know that not all women are the same. Some of us are more paradoxically careful and carefree with our hearts. Some of us are a combination of disillusioned and hopeful. Some of us, I do declare, are cold to the dream of it all until reality will wake us up in warmth to its bright hues.

I don't know much.

But I do believe (and hope to Goodness Gracious) that it's worth waiting for.

Sweet dreams to you.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

God over the Chaos

I should be dog tired. I've been keeping later hours, working longer days, tackling numerous projects at a time... Each day's end should have me sleeping soundly in my bed. But, oh contraire, my friend. For the past month, my sleep has been interrupted and abbreviated. Twice this week, I woke up mid-slumber, my mind absolutely drowning in speedy thoughts.

That's when I read.
I write.
I watch Gilmore Girls.

Last night, I woke to the vivid imagery of Genesis 1.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

God hovered over the chaos.

I can't help but think that's what He's still doing in my life. My days are chaotic, my mental landscape is all over the map. I'm thinking, planning, dreaming. When I lay to rest each night, silence doesn't come naturally. When my nights aren't split by hours of sleeplessness, they are cut short.

But, last night, I was reminded that I am being watched over, waited on by the God who covers over my chaos. I'm living in His peaceful haze.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ole! Ole!

For the last several weeks, I've been helping to organize and promote the Hispanic Interest of Alabama (HICA)'s Alma Latina event, set to happen next Thursday night at The Rare Martini in Lakeview. More event details? Click here.

Together with a terrific team of community-minded folks, HICA has composed the following set of silent auction packages, available for bidding the night of the event. Click on the image above to enlarge and read about these Red Hot items.

Arriba! Arriba! Come on out next Thursday from 6-11pm for a salsa-riffic good time.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What the Fog?

Sometimes a haze is peaceful.
A fog is apropos.
Seeing past the tip of your nose
isn't the object.
It's the knowing
that ground exists ahead of your next step.
It's the inexplicable confidence









Sometimes a haze is peaceful.

Monday, August 3, 2009

I Want to Walk and Not Run

(For those of you not familiar with the early works of the Dixie Chicks, my title today is a little homage to this classic ditty. My post today, however, has exactly nothing to do with dreaming under starry skies with western-clad good old boys. I assure you. Are you still holding that grudge? Please. I beg of you. For the love of all that is good and fair. Read on.)

My thoughts today center on the pace at which I live my life. After several attempts to teach and train a faster speed, I resign. I am a walker. I will always prefer the more controllable, more relaxed, more-time-for-observation steadiness of a good walk.

I'm not just talking about my neighborhood walks, though this idea does hold up quite nicely to those as well. I'm speaking also on my mental, my spiritual, my relational journey. Some might call me a late bloomer. Some might say I'm behind the times.

I operate slower than most. I do declare that I never want to scurry to keep up. I do not want to be hasty in making the decisions that mean something.

Enough with the ambiguity.... Last night at church, we discussed our four pillars of covenant membership, the first of which is an emphasis on believer baptism. To be quite honest, until I texted my mother in a flurry of confusion, I wasn't even sure that I'd been sprinkled as a baby. You see, I was born into the Presbyterian church, mostly raised Methodist. I came to believe nearly 11 years ago, and never took part in a believer's baptism.

It wasn't really an issue I considered. Call me ignorant.

But, last night got me thinking. My initial reaction was comparison. It seems to me that others have already processed through this. They're chomping away on a meal, and I'm still slurping my milk.

It took a night's sleep and a good neighborhood walk + this podcast for me to conclude that in not obeying Jesus' command to be baptized that I am making a choice to not identify myself with him or the body to which I am undeniably a part of. And so, I pray my way through these next few weeks as I consider what it really means to make this declaration publicly.

I am a follower of Christ.
I identify with him in his death and resurrection.
While I am not saved by this act, it is a symbol.
While I am not required to be immersed to become a member of my church, I will.
While I do so with some questions, I will be obedient.

I'm a walker, I tell you. I'm taking slow steps. I pray simply that I will have restored to me the joy of my salvation as I consider what it is to be likened to believers everywhere --and Jesus himself-- in this act.