Friday, June 24, 2016

171: free verse on a summer off work

Three day weekends and summer vacations are always difficult for me. I excitedly anticipate the time off and then hit the hazard button of no schedule. I am a person who thrives on a schedule. And I'm also a person who will lazily stay up til 2am, sleep til 11am, and eat icecream every day if a higher purpose doesn't shake me into a more productive lifestyle.

School ended, I packed, and then off to Boston and Maine I went with a bunch of wonderful people from around the country that I have been building friendships with over the last two years. You know what it's like when you get back from vacation, especially one involving no sleep and seeing people you won't see again for awhile? You start hitting the return-to-normal blues. Combine that with absolutely nothing to do *cough* okay, I guess I could, you know, clean up these piles of clothes and papers, and, ok, lesson plan for history next school year, and, well, there is lots TO do, but nothing that MUST be done. Anyway, it's summer. And with summer comes adjustments. Some of it is glorious--like being able to cook for my family more (during the school year my mom, whose love language is firmly entrenched in "acts of service" makes my breakfast and lunch every single morning; summer is my time to reignite the homemaker in me and be a blessing back) and being able to hang out with my dog, who is currently depressed that I'm still awake but not depressed enough to go slink into the other room where sleeping is happening.

Summer is my opportunity to make wise choices. I'd rather have those choices imposed on me, like in a work schedule. And yet, don't you dare tell me what to do over my summer because I like making my own choices. See? Confusing.

I've been having fun lately journaling some of my thoughts in free verse. So here is my free verse on summer.

Waddle, waddle--Make Way for Ducklings in Boston Common!

Blank spaces
Where stone stood in solid unity before
Cracked open to allow space
Spread wide to open into summer

Sleep, time, plans
Trips, high, people
Return, restore, amiss
A crevice
A crack between the duties of the year
And the thrill of vacation wanderings
Now in no-man's land
A blank space to be filled.

Thoughts, hopes, habits
Others, conversations, input
Alone, yet not
Full of tasks put off
Yet empty of what is normally done

A canvas splotted with
Haphazard paint

Better, should be better
Summer, should be summer
Intentional, but zombie-ing aimlessly
Like a tumbleweed
Thither I go

Will I find the strength
The fortitude
The wisdom
To pain the canvas of summer well?

Will I rest
Be restored
Find grace and joy and peace
And unique to summer fun
Before the gap closes
And the solid ground of
A school teacher's schedule

lobster traps at the end of a pier in Maine

Sunday, June 12, 2016

170: the love of the bride

I went to a wedding this afternoon in a Japanese tea garden. Jewish tradition merged with Christian faith as the bride circled her groom 7 times, symbolically declaring she would pray a wall of protection around her husband and their love. At the inside reception, under a ceiling strung with lights, we consumed, and had seconds of, Asian-Mexican fusion tacos and kale salad (seriously, some of the best food). Hours of conversation and laughter later, the father/daughter dance started as a standard two-step. It was a song about the Bride, Christ's bride. Then father and daughter parted and stood side by side, lifting hands then twirling, lifting hands then twirling. As the bride looked up, hands raised, the artificial lighting caught the love in her eyes for her heavenly Bridegroom. "The bride," she sang. And suddenly I pictured her representing all of us, collectively, the Bride of Christ. Coming before Him at the end of days, love and joy in our hearts.

As singles sometimes it feels like our love is on hold. No man to love, no children to love, no reason or opportunity to love. And so we store up a little love in our hearts, for children in Sunday School or for family or for God. Sometimes my love for God swells and I am enamored at how amazing He is, how grand, how real. Other times my love wanes a bit as I fill my time with meaningless activities, because what else is calling me forth? Nothing.

Tonight, watching the bride, I realized the love I feel for my Lord is not wasted. It is being stored up. Oh, don't let it be wasted. Don't let it seep out. Store it up, let it grow, so that on that day, the wedding supper of MY Lamb, I can be the joyful bride of which mortal brides are only a reflection. A bride without spot or blemish offering herself, after a lifetime of waiting, abandoning herself into the care of the One who of old died for her to pay the bride price for her, who has been preparing the perfect eternal home for her, who has sealed her with the Holy Spirit and has redeemed her from her filth and shame, who declares her righteous and holy, who has never, ever stopped loving her, thinking of her, expectantly working out the fulfillment of all things for the day when the distance would be traversed, the gap closed, and the two together in blissful, unending fellowship.

Your love isn't wasted. It is what will make that Day of Glory a day of glowing joy.

Clarification: I know as singles God gives us plenteous opportunities to love and serve. I was referring to how it feels sometimes, not how it is when we proactively pursue service.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

169: a date, a connection, a hope, and yet

I went on a date this last Friday. With a guy I met online. Actually, with a guy I had met online 3 years ago and had messaged/emailed with a lot, and then who contacted me again after I viewed his profile recently.

Three hours of in-person conversation later. . . I haven't met many people like him. His philosophical, thinker-kind of conversation and attentiveness to my interaction with him touched a part of me that partly stirred up old demons of when I used to get too much into my own head (too much thinking), and partly stirred up a profoundly personal part of me that rarely sees the light of day these days. I was amazed at how I reacted emotionally after coming home and processing.

I think I liked this guy.

We had a connection (What is that? I don't know, but the glimpse I got made me want more!).

And I barely knew him.

The problem was, I didn't know where he stood spiritually. I knew he claimed to be a Christian, went to a mainline Christian church, and had an obviously Christian worldview. But, because of his personality, and because I was trying to pry without asking point-blank questions, it was impossible to pin him down on his personal walk with the Lord. Like, reliance on Jesus' death and resurrection for his salvation, depth of Bible reading, prayer, and personal commitment to follow Jesus, not just the forms of the Christian faith. So I prayed, and wrestled, and prayed, and wrestled, and texted with him, and got replies, and received texts from him (like, he initiated it!), and was elated, and wrestled with the Lord some more. My journal has been getting good use.

Thankfully, this has only gone on since last Friday. Today is Tuesday.

He called tonight. Thirty minutes of conversation confirmed that we do fit together nicely (at least as much as you can tell from one in-person meeting and one short telephone call). I joked, he laughed his I'm-surprised-you-said-that-but-I-like-it laugh. He made jokes, I laughed because it was nice just to communicate so comfortably and have the hope for this progressing.

And then, somewhere amid the thirty minutes, he dropped the bomb.

He is becoming Mormon.

Say what?

I thank the Lord for answering my prayer SO CLEARLY. And so quickly! I don't have to wonder about his spiritual walk anymore! He is obviously not "the one."

And yet. Not "but," just an "and yet."

I think we actually mutually liked each other. We at least both thought each other interesting. We want the same thing for our future families. We both listen to audiobooks when we drive. I am dealing with the pain of this "prospect"--such a good prospect--draining out of my life. I am sad.

And YET!

Unique as he was, "good" as he was, he was apparently never meant to be a prospect. Why did God put him in my life for such a short time? I do not know, do not need to know. But the hope that my connection with him stirred in me, and the hurt of now-relinquished hope, made me cry out tonight in my journal, "I will keep asking and seeking and knocking until You answer."

Because my God does not give serpents when His children ask for fish, or stones when we ask for bread. Despite how I feel, I'm not missing out, and I didn't lose a good opportunity. And my God says that, like the man who got up in the middle of the night to give his friend food for his traveling guests--how much more will our Father in heaven answer the persistent prayers of His daughters! (Lk. 11:5-8, Mt. 7:7-12, Lk. 18:1)

So that's been my week. On Sunday I wrote in my journal, "I know my God. If He calls me to surrender, it's nothing I haven't done before. He is good". So He is. And so He will continue to be.

How does Admiral Croft's line from Persuasion (1995) go? "And now it's time to begin all over again, with someone else." Something like that. :)

Clarification: God does not promise us spouses. Sometimes He does encourage us to pray for specific things, like a husband, while other times it is enough that we are resting in the joy of His presence without making requests.

girls trip to the beach this weekend