Sunday, February 28, 2010

Guess Who's Back

(image c/o the KeepCalmShop on etsy)

Why, yes, it's Mavis.

She's back with all her vintage, squeaky rusty stylie trappings.

And she's been wheeling me all over town on these Spring-esque sunny days. Riding provides ample opportunity for seeing, smelling and hearing things that just don't get noticed behind the wheel of a car. For that reason, I find myself looking forward to multi-purposed rides when I can afford the slower pace.

I'm going to be tracking my cycling progress here, for the sake of being held up by others to keep my goal of gaining strength and going places on my journeys with Mavis.

So far, I've been:
Here for Sunday Brunch
Here for a mid-week baguette
Here for some arty supplies
Here to bake, for coffee and friends
Here to read
Here for fresh fruits and veggies (Oh, April, come on!)

While my progress doesn't hold a candle to the endeavors of say, these BA bikers, it is progress, no less. You must remember, that Mavis is a geriatric and she is to be treated quite gingerly. (That, and, oh, you must know I am bit of a wuss).

Saturday, February 27, 2010

If you have a hankering...

...for some more talk of the Lent season and its many implications, chew* on this.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Power of the Positive

Last week, I was pretty thrilled at the prospect of getting a (FREE!) printing press on which to begin my letterpress future. Sure, I was overwhelmed at the thought of it. Sure, I was unsure as to where I was going to house it. It crossed my mind that I'm not tied to Birmingham, and could well be gone from it in the scheme of a few months. I'm flying fancy free, why would I want to acquire a 1500 lb. piece of equipment that could, quite literally, weigh me down? I recognized that the press being offered was of a different variety than the ones that I learned and labored on at Penland just a few months ago. Sure, I didn't feel ready.

But, it was free.
But, when I saw it....

Oh, how I remembered the surge of energy I felt when I first turned out my own letterpressed good. I could feel my heart beat loud in my chest as I ran my fingers along the cold metal frame. This could be mine. I could start NOW.

I immediately looked at a potential studio space downtown.
I called these folks.
I set up an appointment with a business consultant.

You see, I teeter back and forth between this constant tension, this humble uncertainty of when to think and when to act. I know there is a time and a season for everything. I guess I'm just sometimes uncertain when I'm being beckoned to live, versus when I'm being taught patience.

So, turns out, the press was promised someone else. I know it to best. I don't think I was ready. I've got so much more to learn, so much more to save. And I realize the time in between now and the acquisition of my own press is not time wasted. I've got teachers here. I've got (however limited) access to others' equipment. I've got resources.

But, more than anything else, I've got the peace that this story is still being written.

I'm currently reading Donald Miller's latest in which he discusses the makings of a good story. It took a failed attempt to make a compelling movie out of his own life for him to realize he wasn't living a good enough story.

Our lives are pages, folks. I'm dead set on making the book of my life an interesting read. Sometimes I feel like I'm living through Grapes of Wrath-esque non-plot advancing chapters of endless (however beautiful) prose. But, hear this:

I do trust the Author.
I do trust the Author.
I do trust the Author.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Point of Clarification

Girl in picture #3 of my last Tuesday's post about leggings is not me, but simply the results of a google search for "girl in leggins." There was some confusion expressed to me from several parties. You heard it here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Winter Winds

And if your strife strikes at your sleep
Remember spring swaps snow for leaves
You'll be happy and wholesome again
When the city clears and sun ascends

Choosing Not Tarshish

What is Lent, if not a season to trudge around in our own wretchedness for a while, to remember to what depth His long arm had to reach to get us out? I don't want for this year to pass me by without a real acknowledgment of my shortcomings and the ways in which I am constantly running from God's simple request for repentance.

That is why I am joining with these folks to do a study through Jonah - a fellow fugitive.

Like me, Jonah would rather skeedaddle than deal with sin.
Like me, Jonah wanted to control the path of his own life, because he thought he knew better.
Like me, Jonah opted for easy.

If you think otherwise, don't be fooled for a skinny minute. Me and Jonah, we're pretty terrible human beings. What is Lent, if not a time to remember that ---me and Jonah ---we're kin. Disobedient punks to the very core.

But, like I learned last year, realizing this should not be my final destination. To dead end at the rebellion and hardness of my heart would be to miss the point entirely. Easter means that Christ has come to bring the Green Hope. His death is the sunshine at the end of our seemingly hopeless dark tunnel. We can't appreciate the light until we've come to terms with what it is to be without it.

*If you'd care to join in the study, find a Lent experience calendar here and a study guide here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Green Hope

image courtesy of Penelope Dullaghan

Out of winter's cave
Peeks a hint of warmth and spring
Timidly, neighbors emerge from their scarves and coats
Spreading out on quilts
Spreading seeds in soil
Sharing laughs
Sharing sandwiches
Sharing love

Thursday, February 18, 2010

This Season

This morning, I'm chew*-ing on the meaning of the Lenten season, in preparation for next weeks' chat. I'm taking a look at church history, putting a microscope to my own heart. I'm honestly feeling a bit ashamed of my inability to "do right" the season that requires a giving up of something. This is not an excuse to discipline myself into a healthier, more self-controlled lifestyle. This is not a season to cut out extraneous things from my life because it'll leave me saner, thinner, less hyped up on caffeine. It is a season of probing my sinful heart. It is a season of being dreadfully aware of my depravity, in preparation to really soak up what the Cross did for my reconciliation to God.

Any suggestions of things to read/listen to as I prepare for both this season and this discussion?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Some (More) Things to Be Glad About

Waiting on the arrival of a recently ordered-off-after book.

Spending an afternoon in with a thumbprint pottery mug (c/o this one) resting on my sternum in between sips of warm, strong coffee.

All the while... wearing a (too-big) sweatshirt and (questionably too-tight) leggings.

Treasures Untold

In this here book, Kathleen Norris details a story once told her by a curmudgeon of a man she sort-of knew. He and his wife were given a leather embossed Bible by his grandfather on their wedding day. As per custom, they wrote him a thank you note and even verbally expressed their gratitude for the gift. Yeah, yeah, they were thankful. But, did they read the thing? Not a chance. It wasn't long before the gift was shelved in a closet.

But, gramps wouldn't let them forget it.

"How do you like that Bible?," he'd ask again and again.

"Oh, it's very nice. Thanks so much," the couple would reply, growing weary with every repetition of the scene. They were appreciative. Why wouldn't he let it rest?

Years later, the man would understand when he discovered that the gift-giver had placed 20 dollar bills intermittently throughout the pages of the Good Book. He had done so, knowing full well that his grandson wouldn't turn the pages to find them. There were over $1000 dollars tucked into the chapters of the book. It took him years to find it out, and cost him a pocketful of regret.

It's the same for me, though I know there are treasures to be found between the lines. I pray for "mine eyes to be opened to behold the wondrous things in [His] law," and yet I find my readings to be selfish, and often, quite superficial.

I know there are treasures untold in the ink. Even better, I know that in the reading, the Living God can and will write on the tablet of my human heart with His very Spirit. Let it be so.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Recipe for a Happy Palentines Day

Ingredient #1: Fresh Flowers. According to dear Edith, "In Holland, fresh cut flowers are generally considered a necessity. We are told that even the very poor people in Holland put aside a guilder or two for flowers every week." I think it most important to give priority to surrounding yourself with beauty, assigning value to the environment as a factor in fostering imagination, gratitude, relationships, et. al.


Ingredient(s) #2: Sweeties. I served these at my own little shindig last weekend. (Martha! How do I love thee?) and these (a close-to-heaven taste c/o Jolly Ole England). For a refreshing beverage, I simply added a spritz of lime juice to raspberry ginger ale.


Ingredient #3: Crafty supplies including, but not limited to the following: colored pencils, markers, notecards, patterned papers, ribbons, scissors, paste, tape, glitter.


Moral of the story here is that valentines can be for anyone, as they are simply an expression of the creativity of their creator and the love and appreciation we have for the people in our lives. Valentine's Day isn't just for lovers. It's for Palentines, too. I think Edith and Martha would be in accord.

(Stay tuned for some news about my soon-to-be-on-press March valentines, as part of a year-round line of valentine cards.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Attention Deficit

I've tried three times unsuccessfully to finish watching a movie I started over a week ago. It's not a bad story line, the cast is phenomenal, the soundtrack, pretty dynamite. But, I sit down on the couch, and it's not five minutes before my mind is a million scattered places. I turn on my computer, and before I know it, I've clicked open five windows and started three separate emails to friend/co-worker/business contacts A, B and C. I'm a mess who is finding it increasingly difficult to get lost in any one else's story.

Oh, and you better believe I ordinarily love me a good story. I think we were all made with ears for narrative. Our minds to bear-hug tales of adventure and intrigue.

Sure, we're inclined to get wrapped up in the glory of cinematic/literary characters as they experience conflict, come out better for the story they've lived. But, right now, I'm pretty tuned in right now to writing my own story. I can't decide if it's right or wrong. Part of me thinks it seems a bit vain and ego-centric. I want so badly for the book of my life to be a page-turner.

Donald Miller seems to think that there are times that call for turning away from the screen and to our own lives. There are times to reflect on life as it was, as it could be and there are still other times, to live our present days in a way that will make Hollywood (and all its fancy plots) jealous of the stories we tell.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I Got To Leave

This morning, I walked into Woodlawn High School for my DISCO tutoring appointment. As soon as I ascended the main stair case, I was met with a hall monitor, who matched my gaze and then directed me through the metal detector. I checked in at the front office, where sat a row of antsy-looking students and a crowd of school administrators. I walked down the hall, down the stairs, and around the corner to Ms. Walker's room, before I met with another monitor who took my name, questioning my purpose for being there.

Admittedly, I was a little annoyed.

In my Young Life days, I was oft-mistaken for a high school student-- once, almost taken to the principal's office for a dress code violation before I found my voice to say, "Wait! I don't go here."

So, today, I didn't think too much of the questioning glances. Until.

I saw Ms. Walker's eyes. "There's been a gunman here," she blurted out. "We're on lockdown, and I'm scared." There would be no tutoring today, I should just go home. Be careful, and go home.

So, with trepidation in my step, I thanked her, allowed her to escort me past the posted guard and scooted out to my car again. I got to leave. But, they had to stay. Ms. Walker, a school full of innocents, a staff of teachers and administrators. I got to exit to return to my safe living room couch, but they are there, sitting anxiously in hard plastic chairs.

I'm here, safe and warm. They are there, wondering and waiting if the angry gun-holder will return for vengeance.

I feel powerless to help, incapable of understanding. But, I know that I can pray God's peace and protection over His children in those halls. I can ask you to join with me now, too, as you sit safe.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Magic Number

According to last month's issue of Real Simple magazine, seven is "the maximum number of tasks that should be on a daily to-do list to avoid mental overflow." Good advice. I'm going to try it. Today is a day to:

1. Finish up two magazine articles I've been working on (does that count as just one? We'll say yes for the sake of this exercise).
2. Finish watching this movie that has taken me three separate evenings to complete.
3. Set aside (at least) thirty minutes to read.
4. Make a grocery list to plan for an upcoming visit from family.
5. Cut out paper hearts.
6. Clean the kitchen.
7. Breathe.

This whole reclaiming simplicity, it's going to be a struggle, but here's hoping...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

This is What It's Like

To borrow from a stand-by calm-me-down musician, Denison Witmer, .... exaggerated sigh here...."this is what it's like, finding your feet again."

I've finally had a morning off to breathe, walk, at-home cook, rest and regain the composure I very quickly seem to have lost in the midst of the last few days.

Deep breaths, time alone, time to think. Yes, this is just what the doctor ordered for my regaining of some perspective. On my walk this morning, I found myself strolling and singing (as I often do on my neighborhood walk. If you catch me in the act, I won't be ashamed of it, either) to the words to this song:

This is what it's like
Finding your feet again
The part of you that couldn't
Finally thinks you can...

You're falling asleep again
Part of you a dreamer
Part of you is dreamt

Go now in the light of your God
Go now in the love of your God
Go now in the peace of your God
Go now in the joy of your God.

I'm surely not claiming to have gotten a handle on the busyness of my life at present. I'm not writing to tell you that I've got the answers, and it's plain and simple. Because, let me tell you. It sure as hell isn't.

But, this is me, writing to you from my cluttered kitchen table, as I claim a few minutes of sitting before I rush off to the next packed portion of my day, I am trying.

I am seeking to live a more focused life.
I am looking to live less frantically, more purposefully.
I am hoping to waste less time.
Invite more friends over for lingering suppers.
Go on longer, less-hurried walks.
Find my feet again.