Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer and Starlight [part 2]

Warning: shameless plug (on behalf of a dear friend) to follow. Trust me on this one.




He just put his EP out via iTunes. Support the indie dream. Check him out.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

From the Storm [part 2]

Lightning.

It danced high above the wide open country side, performing a silent symphony of light and movement. All I could hear was the wind rushing through my window and the thoughts inside my head as I drove.

It spread out from cloud to cloud, stretching its arms and reaching its long fingertips for miles at a time. The eerie absence of thunder intrigued me all the more.

How is that Your creation continually astounds me?

My eyes were tired and my stomach was mostly empty. But my heart...and something even more deeply inside me...was keenly aware. Something was changing. Shifting. Learning. Growing. All at once, I came to the terrifying realization that I really do not know what lay ahead.

And I found myself overtaken by peace that only my Father can bring. He eased my heart that aches for home and family. He quieted the questions I had for Him. He wrapped His fingers even more tightly...gently...around my heart. He let me know that He is here, and that He not only will be heard, but hears me as well.

I don't know where it is that You begin and I end. All I know is that You're here and that You're near. You're so near to me.

Monday, May 26, 2008

From the Storm...

6:30 a.m.

It is storming. Lightning flickers in the sky. Rain pounds the thirsty lands. Stray hail pelts the window.

And I can hear Him in the rolling thunder, once again.

I am here. I will be heard.

(Whoa. Just as I wrote that, the loudest crash of thunder I have heard in a long while rocked my world. My roommate was up with a start. We laughed and she looked outside to see how our garden was faring. But love can endure the weather.)

I hear You.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Music and Lyrics

///

So I'll raise my glass
Propose a toast
Hold on to the ones you love the most

I'll raise my glass
My heart now is burning
Here's to the mystery
Here's to the journey

And this one's for the winding road
This one's for the highs and lows
This one's for the answers we don't know
We just let go (and trust)

This one's for the straight and narrow
Separating bone from marrow
This one's for the miles
We will walk and run
And when we come undone

Here's to the mystery
And here's to the journey

///

(c) RW 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pray for the Chapman Family

I heard last night of the tragedy that has struck recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his family. Their youngest daughter, Maria, was killed yesterday in a terrible accident. She was only 5 years old, and the youngest of the 3 girls they adopted from China.

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[Maria is the one in Steven's arms...]

This is a call to pray, if you will. I can not imagine the heaviness and pain they must be experiencing right now. As I woke up this morning, they were on my mind, and one of Steven's songs was in my head. It's called "With Hope."

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end
And we can grieve with hope
Because we believe with hope
(There's a place by God's grace)
There's a place where we'll see your face again


You can read more of the story here.

Will you join us in prayer? Thank you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Coffee

There is something about wrapping my fingers around a warm cup of coffee that inspires a fond sentiment in me. It reminds me of talking with family and friends at a cozy coffee shop, playing cards, enjoying the company of one another. It takes me to the living room where we gather and share life together. The smell alone can take me back to mornings where I would crawl between my dad and his newspaper and nestle into his chest. I remember that he often smelled like coffee. I remember the way I would make a face when I took a sip from his half-empty cup on the window sill.

You see, up until recently, I was not much of a fan of coffee without a lot of frou-frou additions. Now my fondness of it is growing, with or without cream and sugar. It just took the experience of tasting a decent brew to sway my preference. I still favor tea, naturally, but coffee is a lovely option as well. I find that I am pretty entertaining when I have something highly caffeinated, so maybe I will stick to the decaf most of the time.

But I digress...

What is about simple things like a cup of coffee that can send us traipsing down memory lane or inspire a daydream? Sometimes all it takes is a breath of the summer air or a roll of thunder to steal me away from my present reality. Not that there is anything wrong with my present reality, because it is full of life and loved ones and challenge and growth, but I enjoy the opportunity to reminisce or to dream.

In my dreams I see visions of the future
But today we have today
And where will I find You?


I think that God knew how these things would move me. He created me to be moved by a beautiful sunset or sunrise, the smell of the seasons, the beautiful perspective and expression captured by the art of others. He designed me to embrace the way words can come alive on a page, the simple pleasure of a well-written song, the joy of rolling down the windows and turning up the music on a sunny day. He knew I would be ablaze with the experience of sitting around with guitars and friends and singing and talking about His faithfulness until we cannot keep our eyes open any longer. He knew the concept of His grace and mercy would overwhelm me and change me deeply, and that it would come in the most unexpected ways.

In the economy of mercy
I am a poor and begging man
In the currency of Grace
Is where my song begins
In the colors of Your goodness
In the scars that mark your skin
In the currency of Grace
Is where my song begins


He knew me long before I even existed. That very fact will never cease to amaze me. The Creator of the universe holds me closely to His heart. He is so far beyond me, yet so impossibly close to me. To you. To all of us. I am learning to let go more each day.

Where was I when the world was made?
I'm lost without You here
You knew my name when the world was made


///

[Lyrics: The Economy of Mercy by Jon Foreman + Switchfoot]

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Positive Post Tuesday [round 3]

It's that time again. Positive Post Tuesday!

This is Lindsay. She's got moxy.
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She also happens to be completely obsessed with Hello Kitty paraphernalia (and I did not realize that paraphernalia had an "r" in it until just now. Wow!)

I first met Lindsay in college when she was the editor of the student newspaper and I was a wee-little contributing writer. Eventually I moved up in a rank and found myself following in her footsteps by my senior year. She graduated a few years before me, but I remember seeing her lead our little band of journalists with determination and class. I also went regularly on a community outreach she led to a children's hospital, where we played with kids that were traumatized physically, emotionally and/or psychologically. We would debrief some nights and really have no words for some of things we saw. Lins was an amazing team leader, to say the least.

I made a lot of trips to see Lindsay when she lived in Oklahoma City. My little weekend trips with her consisted of wandering around Brick Town, making funny videos and taking photos with the infamous OKC buffalo, eating Thai food and visiting with Crazy Nick, helping out with the kids program at her church and just enjoying catching up with one another. She even brought me along to a wedding where I knew neither the bride nor the groom (scandalous, I know)...I cherish those times, most definitely.

Lindsay is a go-getter in every sense of the word. Right after graduating, she spent several months in the Philippines on her own accord and ministered to people, and especially kids, there. She came back with beautiful photos and stories to tell. She recently moved to Houston and has been moving right along with her new job as an online editor for an oil and gas company. She travels frequently (I'm jealous, really) and is continually learning and growing in her field. She inspires me and makes me laugh with her bouncy personality and her view of the world. I love how she embraces life with such fervor, despite some bumps in the road. She is an ardent pursuer of God, and I greatly admire that.

In other words, Lindsay pretty much kicks butt 24-7. I miss her a lot. Here's to you, Lins! You're one moxacious gal.

[Want to see more Positive Posts or even do your own? Pass it on and link to your post here!]

Monday, May 19, 2008

Cali

This little tike belongs to one of my best friends. Could she possibly be any cuter?

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Five months old and already loving the camera with her eyes.

[This is one of many photos I took of them last month. View more via my Flickr.]

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Myanmar Relief Trip

A team of Christian doctors/medical professionals are heading to Myanmar this Friday. They are being led by Dr. Mitch Duininck, who I interviewed for a story a while back. He is an amazing man of God and has gone on and led disaster relief trips before.

I know that many of you must be wondering how best to help with the horrendous situation in Myanmar (it's getting worse by the day and aid is desperately needed), and it's clear that the militant government of Myanmar is not cooperating with aid agencies very well at this point. Dr. Duininck and his team of 14 will be bringing medical help, portable water purifiers that they will leave behind for refugees to use and the Gospel of Christ to these people.

If you're looking for a way to give, where the money will go into good hands and be put to the best possible use, then I am urging you to get involved with this team. Their visas should be approved today (Wednesday). You can read more about their trip here (it has directions on how to give at the bottom):

http://www.ihi-projects.com

If anything, I'm asking you all to pray. Pray that they have favor getting into the country, ministering to people, and also that they will be kept safe in very risky and uncontrolled circumstances and a hostile nation. I personally find it a struggle to know where to begin when praying for disasters as widespread as ones in Myanmar and also in China...but I truly believe this is one of the many opportunities that will arise to help. God is faithful.

Thanks for reading, guys.

Grace and peace.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Lovely

I am surrounded by absolutely beautiful people. Here is one of the shots I captured of my friend Erin during an evening at the park.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Taking Root

Stay.

That is one of the hardest words for me to swallow right now. I get pretty restless sometimes. My first year out of school has had some rather spectacular ups and downs (according to some) and now I find myself in a time of the year where I would usually be on my way to work at the camp for the summer, off doing some internship or taking a road trip. But as I stared at my feet this Sunday and heard Kelly talking about being willing to drop everything and go where God sends us, I heard Him tell me to stay. He knows I'd go. In a heartbeat, given the opportunity and the timing. But He is asking me to stay.

Stay.

Cultivate friendships. Build my network. Hone my skills. Adopt new ones. Gain more experience in my job field. Pay my bills. Share a room and a house and an office and my songs and my art and my life with others. And in the end, allow myself to take root here in the land of Oklahoma. Even if it means I have to face the pain of pulling up out of the ground and moving elsewhere in a year, two years or somewhere else down the road. If I had it my way right now, I would be traveling, writing, taking pictures and throwing things to the wind for a while. Isn't that what all twentysomethings want at some point? Maybe that never changes, regardless of age, but just tempers down into something we keep inside and hope someday we will realize. It almost seems tragic, but I know there is more to life than this restlessness and more to fulfillment than living a dream.

Stay.

I had a conversation with my mom the other night about realizing our dreams. She can look back at her life, as mother of three and now a grandma to three as well, and see that laying down some of her dreams has been well worth it in the long run. She and my dad have invested into a family that is strong, beautiful, growing, thriving. Now that all three of us are living away from home (with me being the furthest away), I wonder if things will come full circle for them. I have this idea in my head that all the things she and my dad laid down on our behalf could come back around and happen for them now. But life doesn't always work like this, does it?

Stay.

I am not sure of the "Why here?" or "Why now?" aspects of my life, but I do know that He is good and He is trustworthy. As puzzled as some people may be at my current location or even my job position, I like to think of it this way: I am not afraid to move somewhere new. It is in me, whether you believe it or not. But part of me needs to learn how to stay somewhere longer than a few months at a time. My whole existence the past few years has been centered around this constant changing and moving and transitioning from semester to semester, summer to summer. Something had to give.

I used to be so afraid of what life would be like an entire year from now. Nowadays, it doesn't seem as scary. Not because things are predictable, by any means, but because I know God better. I know His faithfulness, His stern discipline, His leading, His love and grace more than I did a year ago, a month ago, even a day ago. And I hear Him say it again...

Stay.

Here I am. Many of my friends are leaving or have already left this town. But then there are the ones that remain...we are caught up together in the mystery of why He has us here. And we will stay until He says to go.

Who knows what adventure will unfold.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Positive Post Tuesday [round 2]

It has been a while since I jumped on the Positive Post Tuesday bandwagon. It's a rainy day and my to-do list is a little short, so I think I will give it a go.

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This is Rhema (aka RhemaLove). It may seem like a cop out to dedicate this post to my best friend, but I believe she deserves it. She just graduated from college this weekend and is currently on a plane to Hawaii with her spit-fire of a grandma for the week. I remember the day I met her, a wide-eyed transfer sophomore that wound up as my next door neighbor in my dorm. She came in on one of the hardest seasons of my life and was incredibly supportive, especially for someone who had just met me. We were fast friends that have lasted the past three years (and still going strong.)

Perfect strangers and friends alike have asked us on numerous occasions if we are sisters or even twins. We do have a lot in common: we are both artistic, writers, musicians, singers, songwriters, lovers of Asian food, culture and coffee...the list could go on. And then there are the places where we diverge. Case in point: she loves Johnny Depp. I think he's a creep. She is also a bit more liberal than I am. It drives me crazy sometimes, and I love her all the more for it. Nonetheless, the glue that holds us together will not readily be dissolved.

I make fun of her for being a hippie and a nerd (she really is) because she grew up in Boulder, Colorado, is fond of calculus and the way the universe works, kept a 4.0 all the way through high school and college and has recently begun sporting a "God is Green" t-shirt. She also loves all things organic. I realized her influence just this week as I unwittingly wound up with organic fruit strips and organic Tazo chai in my shopping cart.

Rhema has a way of bringing me out of even the most ridiculous of funks. She knows me way too well and has patiently endured many of my quirks. And she knows I will do the same for her in a heartbeat. She truly knows the best and worst of me and still welcomes me with open arms. Many times she has spoken powerful truth into my life and the lives of others. God is using her for His Kingdom in a powerful way.

She essentially put herself through school and has held her head high through a difficult senior year. She rose to the top in many student leadership positions and managed to pass all her classes with flying colors. She walked across that stage this past Saturday, was handed her "diploma" (the official one gets mailed in a few months), and had a smile on her face as she bid farewell to the friends that have become family to her these past few years. I am sad to see her go, but I get the feeling that she and I will end up in the same place again, God willing. For now, a few states stand between us.

So here's to Rhema, one of the most incredible people I know. You have been Positive Post Tuesday'd.

[Want to see more Positive Posts or even do your own? Pass it on and link to your post here!]

Friday, May 02, 2008

The [Simple] Life

Every morning they are waiting, somewhat anxiously, at the gate. They try to find a way over it, around it, maybe even under it.

What if there's a secret tunnel? One of them might say. Maybe we could dig a hole so we don't have to wait anymore! The other may suggest.

And then, at last, a car pulls up and triggers the gate opener. They run carefree to their bus stop and are on their way to grade school in no time, with dreams of the impending summer dancing around inside their heads.

Oh, when life was simpler...

The past few mornings, I have seen this pair of little boys at the gate of my condominium complex. They seemed to come out of nowhere this morning, running around my car from the back. One of them waved and smiled at me as they scampered on by. I think it is safe to say it made my morning. I cannot help but wonder what mischief they'll stir up in their little boy states of being. For a moment, I was taken back to the many mornings I walked a few blocks to school and the light-hearted fun I had on the shores of Lake Michigan in the summer (and the winter, if we were hearty enough to brave the face-numbing wind and snow).

And I wonder if I have lost that child-like view of the world altogether...where the most pressing thing on my mind was getting my afternoon snack and going fishing with my cousin or swimming in the lake. Working 8-5 every day has been a very interesting experience for me these past several months. The only time I worked full time before was when I was a camp counselor. My office was the beach, the woods, the stage, the sweet shop, the teen room...it was glorious. After all my room and board were taken out, I probably made around $2/hour. But what it lacked in compensation, it made up for it in experience and some of the fondest memories I have yet to make.

This is the time of year that I would usually be packing up my dorm room and heading off for some summer adventure. But now, I find myself settled into a place with three (incredible) roommates and a network of friends that is getting closer to me all the while. I am bidding farewell to many of those who are graduating from school this year (I am living in the city where I attended school) and tearfully saying goodbye to one of the best friends I have ever known. She's going to Colorado. I'm in Oklahoma. What's wrong with this picture?

A thousand miles seems pretty far, but they've got planes and trains and cars. I'd walk to you if I had no other way.

I think my discontent is only temporary. Transition is something I have always hated vehemently. I realized the other day that I am used to it, but that still doesn't dismiss the fact that it hurts all the same. Our "twentysomething" years are marked by transitions like this, and uncertainty of if and when we'll all end up back together again. Right now, I am purposing to enjoy the next few days and embrace that child-like perspective again. I need to remember that it is alright to live in the moment, to throw our cares to the wind and enjoy the day...and to send these people off in style. It will be a whirlwind weekend, and next week, I will be here and they will be gone. God and I are working on making me okay with that fact.

In all this, I realize...

Life can be found in the seizing of the moment and the dismissal of tomorrow's worries.