Thursday, December 30, 2004
I know it's a bit early, but I'm heading up to Waco this afternoon and won't be able to post until Sunday.
Is it just me, or has this year flown by. I was just hanging out with good old Elaine here in H-town and we were just talking about all the changes that have occurred in just one year. It's been a year full of transition - we're real grown-ups now. That's so weird! She's working up in DC and I'm unemployed in Texas.
*sigh* Seeing her made me miss the good old days. Yes, I even miss the term papers and all-nighters; I know, it's pathetic.
Anywho, although I can't believe it's 2005 I'm excited to see what this new year has in store for me. I don't know if it can be better than this last year - graduating college, having a spacewalk at my graduation party, AND being out of the country for a third of the year will be hard to top. But it will be fun to see what God has in store.
Last New Years Eve was spent in Barton House, having a dance party/flour fight. I know I can't top that this year, so I'm settling for staying up with my brother and sister-in-law for a Lord of the Rings marathon (I got the box set, "special extended dvd edition" for Christmas!). So I'll see how this year's measures up to last and get back to you.
May God bless you and keep you in this coming year. And may you know the goodness of His character as you experience His peace and love!
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Despite his pessimism, I rather enjoy reading Thomas Hardy. I was first exposed to his work in high school, where we read bits of Far From the Maddening Crowd. I liked it so much I went out and bought it. However, I found it too difficult to read and gave up. That was years before I decided to become an English major in college. Now I'm addicted to British novels. Up until seven months ago I practically lived in the late 19th century for two years.
Anywho, I read Tess of the d'Urbervilles last spring and wrote a term paper about Tess and Hardy's description of her as a "pure woman." I received an A for it from a very difficult Baylor professor, thank you very much! This professor mentioned how Jude the Obscure caused such an outrage it was the last novel he ever wrote; after that he wrote poetry. Most in the class hadn't read the book (sadly, most of us were graduating seniors), so he wouldn't tell us what exactly happened to cause such a negative reaction from Hardy's contemporaries. So I picked the book up at Barnes and Noble and decided to find out for myself. It took nearly three months, but I got through it, and I really enjoyed it!
There were some rather depressing parts, and it alarms me that my friend Brandon says it's practically his autobiography. But I have grown to love Hardy's writing style. He's novels are oozing with symbolism and drenched in irony. I love that! Although at times it does feel a little overdone; but what do I know? - I can barely write a poem!
Eventually I shall like to write an essay over JtO. Hardy has some excellent themes in that novel, including pagan vs. sacred, love vs. lust/passion, city-life vs. rural/country-life and society vs. the individual. It seems those themes appear in many of Hardy's novels. I actually miss discussing topics like these in a classroom setting! I also miss having to read more than one book. Granted, a novel a week was a bit much; but I was stilled exposed to far more than I am now!
Maybe one of these days I'll post something more specific about Jude. But don't hold your breath.
Friday, December 24, 2004
I went out this morning to do some last minute shopping with my dad and brother and I heard on the radio that it started snowing a bit around 11:30. About 15 minutes later we were waiting at a stop light and I saw a few flakes. Ever since then a bit of snow and sleet has fallen off and on. But about ten minutes ago it started snowing harder than I've ever seen this far down south. It's a miracle!
I got an email from my friend Ewelina this morning and she said it's weird because it's not snowing over in Poland now. She says it always snows at Christmas. It never snows here at Christmas, so thanks for sending us some snow Poland! =o)
Thursday, December 23, 2004
My brother, Eric, and his wife, Brandi, celebrated their 7th anniversary on the 21st. For only being married 7 years, they have probably gone through more difficult times than people who have been married 50 years. Not only do they keep their faith through it all, they keep on laughing and I greatly admire them for that. Happy anniversary Bird and Bran! I know there are many more and better years to come! Just keep them adorable children coming.
But there's more . . .
Yesterday, my maternal grandparents celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary. 58 YEARS OF MARRIAGE! How amazing is that, eh? They have both had long and fulfilling lives. Our family is blessed to still have them with us. I love you Grandma and Grandpa! May you have 58 more years of marriage! =o)
I went over to her house and her dad cooked us up an AMAZING meal of steak and baked potatoes. Mmmm. I don't know what was better: the food or the Finding Nemo decorations. No worries, Becca is not a weirdo; she just let her 5 and 2 year-old nieces plan the party. Shoot, I'd love to have a Finding Nemo cake at my next birthday! Of course, this is coming from someone who ordered a spacewalk for my college graduation party. Dang, that was a fun party!
Anywho, I hope you had a great birthday, Bec. I'm glad we'll be living in the same city again, so we can hang out. I'm praying that this year will be the best you've had so far. May God bless you and keep you. I love you, girlie! You rock my socks off! =o)
The house is great too! It's way bigger than the one we were in, and it's in a relatively posh neighborhood. Well, it's the nicest neighborhood we've ever lived in at least.
I can't believe tomorrow is Christmas Eve! This year went by SO FAST. My oldest brother got into town this evening. My other brother and his family will arrive tomorrow afternoon, so we'll have a full house for a few days. It's always fun, though. This is my favorite time of year!
Monday, December 20, 2004
by Rev. Issac Watts
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
O come, thou rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of hell thy people save
And give them vict'ry o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
O come, O Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here
And drive away the shaves of night
And pierce the clouds and bring us light
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
O come, O come, Thou Lord of might
Who to thy tribes, on Sinai's height
In ancient times did'st give the law
In cloud and majesty and awe
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
It will be a busy week of unpacking and setting up house (as well as Christmas decorations) for the rest of the family coming in. We won't even be in the house for a week before we have to host people! Good thing it's only by brothers and company.
I am exhausted! My mom and I spent the day shopping. I hate shopping this time of year. I tend to get annoyed easily in large crowds. But it was a fruitful excursion. We got most everyone on our list. Believe it or not, that's good for my family. Ask my brothers and they would say that Mom usually did her shopping on Christmas Eve. Every single year, before we went to Grandma's, we had to stop by the store. We were given more time when our annual family celebration was moved from Christmas Eve to Christmas day about eight years ago(My brother Eric is still bitter about that; he blames Mark and Danielle, our aunt and uncle. They wanted to start going to the Christmas Eve service and our tradition fizzled out after that).
Anywho, it will be nice to be living in Houston again. I'm off to bed now. I don't know how long I'll be without internet, so farewell for now. Merry Christmas!!!
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Tomorrow is the second packing day. It's also suppose to be the last packing day. But as I look around I can't help but think it will take an act of God to get everything packed by the end of the day. I told my dad if God called us to move back to Houston He should get all of our stuff there as well. Dad says that's what the packers and movers are for.
I'm not particularly sad about moving. There's not really anything for me here in San Antonio. There are a few family friends and an old college roommate. My old roommate, Jessica, is also a newly wed so we don't even get to hang out much. When she's not at work and when Luke's not at work they are together. Although I'm good friends with both of them I know they don't have much time to be together. I love hanging out with her and we've lived in the same city for years, so it'll be sad leaving her. But that's about all I'll miss. All the extended family is in Houston as well as very promising job leads. I hope I find a good church soon . . . my spirit is yearning for Christian fellowship. Anyone out there know of any churches? I'm willing to drive anywhere!!!
So life is finally starting to settle down. But things will probably be stressful getting ready for Christmas next week! I'm excited, though. Especially since we'll be in a house big enough to hold all of us. Maybe now my loser brothers will come visit more often! I've kinda gotten used to living in the same city as them for the past six years. I especially hope Eric decides to bring his game cube.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Saturday, December 11, 2004
My sister-in-law took Nathan to church early in my car and I rode with my brother and the other two kids. We were running late, especially after I asked Eric if he had remembered the camera after we were already halfway there. Unfortunately we forgot Abigail's diaper bag as well but didn't realize it until we were actually at church. She didn't have her pacey either. Then she lost a sock somewhere between the van and the church. Poor thing. At least it wasn't a very cold morning. I felt sorry for the preschool workers who had to deal with her wailing. I know she cried because when I went to pick her up she was dead aleep and there were still tears on her cheeks. I found the contrast between she and the little boy that got dropped off just before her rather humorous. You could tell the little boy was the first child because both his parents dropped him off, he was all bundled up complete with hat and socks and shoes, AND he had his diaper bag complete with pacey and sippy cup. Poor Abby. It's easier to forget things the more kids you have. This reminds me of the time we went out to eat and Nathan made it all the way to the restaurant without any shoes and without anyone noticing. But that's another story.
Nathan and Daniel loved the songs Nathan had to learn. They were singing "Baby Jesus, we love you" all week. Of course my brother always has to change words to songs. It progressed to "Baby Daniel, we love you," "Baby Nathan, we love you," and "Baby Abigail, we love you." Then the boys pick up where their daddy left off (my brother may have even started it) and sang "Baby Elmo, we love you," "Baby Barney, we love you," "Baby video, we love you," "Baby pizza, we love you." The list goes on and on. Their Christmas song is a far cry from the Christmas song Eric's bestfriend's daughter made up (Jared posted it last Monday over on The Thinklings). I'm not surprised.
My brother Eric is trying to get me to go work at Allstate Insurance. That's where he worked two years ago and he really enjoyed it. His boss loved him and said he'd hire him back anytime. Eric said he'll call and put in a good word for me if I want. I think I may try it just to try it. At this point, I need all the help I can get in finding a job somewhere - anywhere. I had originally planned to apply for an alternative teaching program in Pasadena, but wasn't able to meet the December 3rd deadline. Considering we'll be living in Katy I'm not too disappointed about that anymore.
Living with Mom and Dad is getting easier. I'm sure it will be even better after I get a job. But my secret is out: they know I know how to cook, so I've been doing a lot of it lately. I don't mind; I've always loved cooking for people.
Anywho, I just wanted to share the wonderful news. My transition out of college is finally starting to settle. It's about time!
Saturday, November 27, 2004
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
This blogging thing is fun but it sure takes time and energy. Oddly, I've had an abundance of both recently, but get preoccupied. Here's what I've been up to:
*My brother and his family came to visit two weeks ago. Eric is a free-lance photographer and he was hired to shoot a convention in town. He brought along wife Brandi and their three children. Brandi's mom also came down since it was her weekend to visit them. Needless to say we had a very full house. We had a very loud house as well.
Brandi stayed in town with Eric one night, so mom and I took the kids home. Mom has no night vision so I had to drive home. As I was strapping the boys in mom just had to say, "You know there are people your age who would have this number of kids already." I just shot her a dirty look and said I know and that's crazy.
While we were in town we took the boys on a boat ride in the river. It was pricey, but they had a lot of fun. Daniel, age 3, doesn't speak much. Let me rephrase that: he talks a lot, you just can't understand half of what he says. When we first took off his eyes got real big and he held onto his chair and cried, "Wheeee." It was cute.
*The weekend after my brother's visit we headed over to Houston. We had a ghetto garage sale in my grandma's ghetto neighborhood. Seriously. If I didn't practically grow up in that neighborhood I wouldn't want to go there. Last month there was a police raid on the house across the street. And by the looks of things, there are still some dodgey dealings going on over there.
We were in Houston for a week. Once again I found myself cramped in a small house with five other family members. I can't wait until we move! However, we didn't even get to look at any houses while we were in town. That was frustrating because I can only do so much since my parents are the ones in charge.
I did visit a church that wasn't half bad. It's in Pasadena and is pastored by someone we grew up with. It's a multi-cultural, Baptist-affiliated-but-has-a-non-denominational-feel church. I liked it more than I thought I would. I love the pastor, Sammy, and his wife, Julie, especially since I've known Sammy for nearly 15 years. My friend Elena and I had dinner with them the night before and it was loads of fun. I still want to check out a few other churches. I feel there would be a lot pressure if I went to Sammy's church since so many of the members know my family.
*I'm finally applying for jobs!!! Well, I'm at least working on an application. Elena is living with her cousin who is the head kindergarten teacher at her school. Apparently they have a few openings for teachers next year and the school district is the only district in the region that pays for the alternative certification program. The drawbacks: 1.)The deadline is December 3rd - that's only 10 days away! And I haven't even taken my TASP since Baylor's a private university. 2.)It's Pasadena ISD which is nowhere near where we might be living. We're talking about a two hour total commute everyday! 3.)There's tough competition and I'm not completely prepared to compete.
I'm hoping this is the door I've been praying for God to open. Starting salary is $37,000!! For a teacher! I'll have to sign a three year contract, which will be tough considering I had planned to return to England by June of '06. But it may be good in the long run because that will prevent me from running off before I've done all I can to get debt free. Damn student loans! Damn credit cards!
*I saw the new Bridget Jones movie Friday! I know, I know, a good Christian girl shouldn't be watching such smut, but I've been waiting for this movie for over a year and a half! My roommate, Kelley, introduced me to the first Bridget Jones movie two years ago. I remember when it came out in the theater I didn't think I would ever watch it. It just looked bad. I was such a prude! I felt an immediate affinity to Bridget upon my indoctrination. I am Bridget! Well, except for the fact that I'm not a chain-smoking, nymphomanical alcoholic.
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason wasn't as great as the first. The soundtrack wasn't as memorable, for one. You can't beat Bridget lonely, depressed and drunk singing All by Myself or the famous fight between Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) while the techno version of It's Raining Men plays in the background. They're such wonderfully ignoble fighters. It's fun when their paths cross again in The Edge of Reason. The only thing I like about the musical choice for the movie was that they played Beyonce's Crazy in Love. That was very appropriate for Bridget because she was not only in love, she was CRAZY!
Since I read the book, I kept comparing it to the movie. Without the book, the movie is great for Bridget fans. But there are such wonderful story lines in the book! Mr. Darcy's 22 year-old stick insect co-worker doesn't play the role you expect her to. The way that story line is resolved in the movie was interesting, to say the least. Surprisingly interesting. Of course, not like the literary version at all!
Bridget's circle of friends also play a bigger role in Fielding's books. The girls have a falling out when Jude takes back her loser boyfriend, Richard, and agrees to marry him.
I guess what I like best about the books is that they mirror Jane Austen novels. I knew the first one was loosely based on Pride and Prejudice, but it was fun discovering Beyond the Edge of Reason's connection to Persuasion, especially since I finished reading it just two days before I read BtEoR. So it's disappointing wanting to see that parallel portrayed on the big screen and it not be there.
Anywho, didn't mean for this post to turn into a movie review of Bridget Jones. Sorry. But I would recommend that you Bridget fans watch the movie to discover Bridget and Mark's fate.
The funniest thing about my Bridget movie experience was that I was carded when I bought my ticket! What's even funnier was I didn't realize I had been carded until I was driving home! As I bought my ticket my friend Jessica called and I was telling her how to get to the movie theater. When the lady asked for my ID I assumed she wanted my student ID (I know, it's horrible that I still use it even though I'm not a student!). When she asked for my license I pulled it out without a second thought. Silly Debbie! I don't know if I should be offended or flattered that the woman thought I wasn't even 18. Since I'm not flat out offended is evidence that I'm getting old. Oi! What's crazy is I think the girl who sold me my ticket was younger than me!
*It's time for this post to end. And I must go pack. Back to Waco and another house full of family members for Turkey Day. Yay! Mmmm...I made my famous Honey Bread today. It takes four hours to prepare, but it's well worth the wait. I haven't had homemade bread in AGES! My parents and I nearly polished off a loaf tonight. Luckily, we have two more loaves for Thursday. Mmmm...
Sunday, November 07, 2004
by Maltbie Davenport Babcock (1858-1901)
We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;
We have hard work to do, and loads to lift;
Shun not the struggle - face it; 'tis God's gift.
Say no, "The days are evil. Who's to blame?"
And fold the hands and acquiesce - oh shame!
Stand up, speak out, and bravely, in God's name.
It matters not how deep intrenched the wrong,
How hard the battle goes, the day how long;
Faint not - fight on! To-morrow comes the song.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
by John Borroughs (1837-1921)
Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind nor tide nor sea;
I rave no more 'gainst time or fate,
For lo! my own shall come to me.
I stay my haste, I make delays -
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways
And what is mine shall know my face.
Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me,
No wind can drive my bark astray
Nor change the tide of destiny.
What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it has sown,
And garner up its fruit of tears.
The waters know their own, and draw
The brook that springs in yonder height;
So flows the good with equal law
Unto the soul of pure delight.
The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,
Can keep my own away from me.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Sitting in front of a computer screen, trying to craft words in the wee small hours of the morning reminds me of those good old college days. I told Mom and Dad that this would be around the time we'd make a Taco Cabana run for tortillas and queso. I offered to drive if Dad paid, but Mom quickly squelched our plan. Oh well. Since I can't have Taco C I'm going to bed.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
About four weeks ago there was an episode of Seventh Heaven all about voting. The parents were calling all their kids to make sure they were registered to vote, giving them a great speech about how important it is that they vote. Do you remember Peanuts cartoons and every time an adult spoke it was all gibberish? "Whawa whawawawa, whawha" Something like that. That's how it was when the parents started their great speeches. Their children heard the first few sentences but the rest was all whawhawhas. That's how I've felt during this whole election process.
I tried so hard to sit down and watch as much of the debates and campaigning speeches that I could. I would follow along at first but then it all turned into whawhawhas. At Baylor we all had to take a Political Science class and following the professor four years ago was just as hard. I was just not created to be involved in politics. Fortunately, I've heard enough to decide on the candidate that would receive my vote. But then two weeks ago my mom started telling me I needed to make sure I vote early when I went to Waco. Every day for nearly a week she pestered me about it. There was no escape! She was whawhawhaing too! I finally voted just to get her off my back. THEN, she started asking me if my brother's had voted. "I'm not my brothers' keeper!" She laughed but I don't think she very much appreciated that comment. Oh well.
So, we've finally arrived to election day. I've only been back in the States a month, but I'm tired of hearing about it all. I'm so glad I missed a majority of the mud slinging. Unfortunately, it probably won't end after today since this race is so close. I'm just praying that God's will be done and this election be decided quickly.
by Anna Akhmatova
If all who have begged help
From me in this world,
All the holy innocents,
Broken wives, and cripples,
The imprisoned, the suicidal -
If they had sent me one kopeck
I should have become 'richer
Than all Egypt' . . .
But they did not send me kopecks,
Instead they shared with me their strength,
And so nothing in the world
Is stronger than I,
And I can bear anything, even this.
translated by D.M. Thomas
Monday, November 01, 2004
David is described as a man after God's own heart. This truth isn't negated even after he sins. Why? Because he does exactly what God wants the prodigal to do - he repents and turns to the arms of his Father, where he finds love and forgiveness. This took a tremendous amount of faith. David knew his Daddy and knew he could do anything and go through anything because his Daddy loved him. And he knew exactly how much he was loved. So when David found himself at Araunah's threshing floor, being offered all he needed for his burnt offering free of charge, he declined the offer. He could have accepted, thinking he deserved it since there was a plague on Israel and tens of thousands had already died. He could have accepted just because he was king. But he insisted on paying: "I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing" (II Samuel 24:24) What a bold statement! That is why David was a man after God's own heart. He didn't allow his guilt over his sin keep him from worshiping God. And he didn't blame God for the bad things that happened. He offered his pain up as worship and was willing to pay for it.
So many times we fall short. At least, I know I do! It's so easy to praise and worship Him when all is well - when we have wealth, good health, and love; when everything comes easy. But life isn't always "fair." Bad thing do happen to good people and we have an enemy who takes pleasure in stealing, killing, and destroying. Sometimes it feels as though justice will never come, and that's usually because sometimes it doesn't. People we love are hurt or end up hurting us. Sometimes it's a struggle just to keep afloat in this world and in our society. But it's when we worship during those days of darkness, pain, and doubt that we join with David, saying, "I WILL NOT SACRIFICE TO THE LORD MY GOD [MY DADDY] BURNT OFFERINGS THAT COST ME NOTHING."
by Linda Pastan
Finding a new poet
is like finding a new wildflower
out in the woods. You don't see
its name in the flower books, and
nobody you tell believes
in its odd color or the way
its leaves grow in splayed rows
down the whole length of the page. In fact
the very page smells of spilled
red wine and the mustiness of the sea
on a foggy day - the odor of truth
and of lying.
And the words are so familiar,
so strangely new, words
you almost wrote yourself, if only
in your dreams there had been a pencil
or a pen or even a paintbrush,
if only there had been a flower.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Debbie: She went to vote.
Twenty minutes later...
Nathan: Hi Mommy!!!
Brandi: Hi monkey!
Nathan: Did you have fun on the boat?
Debbie: I told him you went to vote.
Brandi: Oh...No Nathan, I didn't go on a boat. I went to vote.
Nathan: Oh . . . Did you have fun with Vote?
Brandi: Yes, I had fun voting.
Monday, October 25, 2004
I came to campus to meet a professor but soon learned she was double-booked and had to reschedule for tomorrow. But it's nice hanging out here, even though I feel old! Either I've aged or the students have gotten younger. And it's only been five months! Crazy!!
Things were insane at my brother's house this weekend. My friend Becca came in town for homecoming. Eric(Bird) and Brandi decided at the last minute to have a garage sale, so my mom also came with me to help watch the kids and get things ready for the sale. Brandi's mom came up from Houston for the same reason. So there were six adults and three children (5, 3, and 8 months). If that wasn't crazy enough, when Becca and I came home from the game on Saturday my dad's car was in the driveway! He got bored at home all alone and decided to drive the three hours to Waco. Silly man! I don't know how we did it, but we all survived and the kids loved having the grandparents around to spoil them.
Before the madness began, the family all got together Thursday night to watch the final Astros game. We're proud the Astros made it so far but very sad they lost. Maybe next year. Everytime the 'Stros hit a run we would celebrate and the kids thought it was the funniest thing. They would run around the livingroom yelling "YAY!" for the next ten minutes. It annoyed Brandi that everytime a St. Louis player scored or made an amazing catch Bird, Sha, and I said we hated him. She's too tender-hearted for the game.
Overall, I've had a good time and am looking forward to my next three days in town. Since Dad came up, he was able to take Mom home with him this afternoon, so that means I can stay longer. The weekend was full of homecoming stuff, so I'm glad to have extra time to hang out with those I didn't get to see. But I know I'm just prolonging the inevitable. I desperately need to start actively looking for a job!
by George Herbert
Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.
"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here;"
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes buy I?"
"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
This weekend is Baylor's Homecoming! I'm excited to see fellow alumni who will be in town. I'll be with my old college roommate and best friend, Becca, for the majority of the weekend. Other friends are also getting together for a bar-b-que, which should be fun and hopefully taste better than my British bar-b-que experience back in July. Besides all that, I'll be staying with my brother and his family and I am so very excited about finally seeing my niece and nephews again! I probably won't be able to blog since my brother no longer has internet access, but we'll see.
Aright folks, peace out!
SIC 'EM BEARS!!!
Monday, October 18, 2004
by Greg Hall
Baseball is grass, chalk, and dirt displayed the same yet differently
In every park that has ever heard the words play ball.
Baseball is a passion that bonds and divides all those who know it.
Baseball is a pair of hands stained with newsprint,
A set of eyes squinting to read a boxscore,
A brow creased in an attempt to recreate a three-hour game
From an inch square block of type.
Baseball is the hat I wear to mow the lawn.
Baseball is a simple game of catch
and the never-ending search for the perfect knuckleball.
Baseball is Willie vs Mickey, Gibson vs Koufax, and Buddy Biancalana vs the odds.
Baseball links Kansan and Missourian, American and Japanese,
But most of all father and son.
Baseball is the scent of spring,
The unmistakable sound of a double down the line,
And the face of a 10-year-old emerging from a pile of bodies
With a worthless yet priceless foul ball.
Baseball is a language of very simple words that tell unbelievably magic tales.
Baseball is three brothers in the same uniform on the same team for one brief summer
Captured forever in a black and white photo on a table by the couch.
Baseball is a glove on a shelf, oiled and tightly wrapped,
Slumbering through the stark winter months.
Baseball is a breast pocket bulging with a transistor radio.
Baseball is the reason there are transistor radios.
Baseball is a voice in a box describing men you've never met,
In a place you've never been,
Doing things you'll never have the chance to do.
Baseball is a dream that you never really give up on.
Baseball is precious.
Baseball is timeless.
Baseball is forever.
I prayed all night for a homerun and it finally happened! This win is extra special because I know my grandpa was sitting at home watching every second. When I think of Grandpa I think of baseball, and vice versa. Especially after reading this post from my Uncle Thinkling Blo. My family is praying the Astros all the way to the World Series! Yeah, baby!
Saturday, October 16, 2004
Anywho, around 10 last night I found a box full of scrapbooking materials and mementos I started collecting three or four years ago. I then searched the house for tape, scissors, glue stick - anything that would be useful in creating my very own scrapbooks. Why the sudden burst of inspiration after years of inactivity, I don't know. Perhaps it's because I'm sick of doing nothing all day (I really need a job). I worked steadily for about three or four hours . . . and only have four scrapbook pages to show for it. Sad, huh? However, much of that time was spent looking for boxes full of pictures. I never found them.
I read a bit of Jude the Obscure after putting away the scrapbook. Unfortunately I wasn't able to read myself to sleep. After tossing and turning for 45 minutes I got out of bed and turned on the tv. Die Hard was on HBO, so I watched that. When it ended Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil started on another station, but it didn't hold my attention. Perhaps it was all the commercials. I made it halfway through but eventually fell asleep. Next thing I knew, it was 1:45. Oi! Perhaps waking up for church tomorrow morning will help me piece together the shards of my sleeping schedule. One can only hope.
Friday, October 15, 2004
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Hee hee . . . I'm not the happiest of dieters sometimes. Nor am I the happiest of fasters, but I think I'd rather do the latter.
from John Donne's Holy Sonnets
Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste;
I run to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday.
I dare not move my dim eyes any way,
Despair behind, and death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it towards hell doth weigh.
Only thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me
That not one hour myself I can sustain.
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart.
Monday, October 11, 2004
Fortunately my parents aren't all that bad. They're actually rather funny. Here's a tidbit of conversation from Saturday night:
Mom: So, what church are we going to tomorrow?
Debbie: Bedside Baptist?!
Mom: I wouldn't mind that...I'm very tired. But what about First Baptist?
Dad: Yeah, that sounds good to me.
Debbie: First Baptist??? Why aren't we going to Bro. Roland's church? (Bro. Roland is an old family friend who's church we're members of.)
Dad: Because First Baptist comes on t.v. and we don't have to leave our livingroom. When Bro. Roland's church is on t.v. then we'll go there . . .
Hee hee . . . Oh, to be home again!
I can't wait for a jump start in my social life, though. I'm sure if I actually contacted some of my friends in town then I wouldn't be stuck at home all day everyday. But I'm not quite ready to be bombarded with questions about my life the past few months.
I need a jump start in my work life as well. I need a work life! Every job I've had for the past seven years has just fallen into my lap. I have no idea how to look for a grown-up job. Yikes! Coming back home and back to reality is hard.
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Glory be to God for dappled things-
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls, finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced-fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Sunday, October 10, 2004
Gone are the days of living out of a suitcase. Yay!
Gone are my days of sleepless airplane rides! Today was especially rough. I had to call for a shuttle and they picked me up at 3:30 even though my flight wasn't until 7:15. THEN, my flight was delayed for over an hour. OI! It was Southwest Airlines, so not the most comfty, and it was a full flight. It was the longest three and a half hour flight I've ever been on. All that to say, I am so very tired but glad to finally be home. It's been four months since I've seen the parents, so it's good to see them. I'll be heading to wacky Waco next week to see the brothers, the sister-in-law, the nephews, the niece, the old college friends, and the old church. Fun times!
from A Light in the Attic
by Shel Silverstein
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my toys to break.
So none of the other kids can use 'em. . . .
Saturday, October 02, 2004
I can't believe I've been back in the States for two days already. It feels as though the last three months have all been a dream. It's already October?! Unbelievable!
I had a good journey, considering that it started at 3:30 am, that I cried off and on throughout the whole flight, and that I slept a total of two hours in 35 hours. It was weird arriving in the airport after being gone for over three months and having no one there to greet me. I'm sure Mom and Dad would have been eagerly awaiting my return if I flew directly to Texas. Oh well.
Elaine and I have been sitting here talking about life. Coming here to visit I've realized that even though we will remain close friends, we now have completely different lives. Things will never be like they were before. We knew it was coming and happening, but that doesn't make it any easier. So sad.
Well, I just wanted to let you folks know I made it back to the States safe and sound. It's good to be back and I look forward to seeing my family next week. But I did leave my heart in England and at King's Arms and I'm praying about whether I will be returning next year. I sure do hope so! But for now I must face the reality of living life in the here and now.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
I went to my final Nightshelter team meeting this morning. They wanted me to come so they could "pray me out." Last Wednesday we had our King's Arms Project team training and they prayed me out there as well. AND at church on Sunday they announced that I was leaving and prayed for me at the end of the service. So I'm leaving Bedford well prayed up and ready for whatever is coming my way.
But I'm still a snot face. I've been holding up well, but I almost cried last night as I said goodbye to the residents. I definitely cried this morning as they prayed for me and later as I hugged everyone goodbye. This probably means I'll be a wreck on the plane ride back. Great. The people sitting next to me will think I'm a weirdo.
Things left to do:
*pack - YIKES!
*visit the hostel one last time
*visit the Project administrator, PK, and his family to take pics of their baby for our Waco friends
*meet my friend Sarah for our final farewell ritual
*go to dinner with all my married friends (Dave & Hannah, Jez & Justyna, Sarah & Richard, but I don't think Richie is coming) Is it weird that my closest friends here are all married? I think it is!
*mail the 20 postcards that have accumulated over the past three months because I'm too lazy go to the post office and mail them
Well, I better get started, considering it's already 3. Yikes!
I wanted to post a gloomy goodbye poem to fit my mood, but I can't seem to think of one and can't be bothered to look for one. Does anyone out there have any suggestions?
Monday, September 27, 2004
I decided to go with a Texas theme - since that's where I'm going. And I planned to make Tex-Mex food - salsa, guacamole, 7-layer dip, quesadillas, nachos. And I thought I'd top it off with a few Caronas and limes. Well, when we went shopping on Saturday Dave told me to fill up a trolley with all the food and he'll fill up a trolley with all the drinks. Drinking is widely accepted in this culture, so Christians have no problem going to a pub and having a pint or throwing back a few beers with friends. Dave especially. So he bought a case of Stella Artois lager along with six bottles of wine plus eight Sols (since they didn't have Carona). For the non-drinkers he bought one liter of Coke and one liter of Diet Coke. I couldn't help but laugh and shake my head.
My stress over the party was magnified considering I had to have it the night I finished my three waking nights at the Nightshelter. I also wanted to go to church since it was my last Sunday in Bedford. So yesterday morning I finished work at 9:30 a.m., I walked home, took a shower, got dressed, and went straight to church. When I got home from church I took a nap because I knew I would be shattered by the time 7:30 rolled around and guests started arriving. Unfortunately, a three hour nap didn't add up to much. But I got up anyway and I started cooking at 4:30 and finished around 8. Dave and Hannah were amazing because they had cleaned the house and re-arranged the lounge while I was sleeping!
People came to my party! And they ate the food and loved it! All but four people didn't know what the quesadillas were (my American friend Sarah makes quesadillas for her British husband, Richard, and I had made some for Dave and Hannah a few weeks before), but they ate them anyway, calling them "yummy pancake things." It was very hard for me not to shake my head in disgust at their ignorance. Much to Dave's delight, many people partook in his drinks. And despite Richard's comments about the drunk Americans, Sarah and I were most definitely NOT drunk (although Sarah's clumsy nature didn't help her cause, nor did me telling people there was more wine in the "rine wack").
My party was a success and I am overwhelmed by the friendships I have developed here in just a few short weeks. I was also blessed with gifts of chocolates and goodbye cards. So I must thank Dave and Hannah for pushing me to have my party, although it did make leaving all the more real and hard. *sigh* I can say with confidence: "My cup runneth over."
Friday, September 24, 2004
1.) MY CAR!!! God only knows how much I miss my car! Although Bedford is a small town it's still a pain to have to walk everywhere. Especially to the store. I can't wait to get my car back and load it down with groceries. Granted, I'll need money first, so I may not have a shopping spree for a few more months. But at least I'll have my car! And hopefully can scrounge up some money for gasoline...
2.) A tumble drier. I don't particularly mind having to air dry my clothes. It's times like today that I wish I had a tumble drier. Wait, let me specify that: It's times like today that I wish I had a hot-air tumble drier.
My hosts, Dave and Hannah, inherited a tumble drier from some friends but it's a cold-air drier. What idiot invited that, I don't know. I stuck two shirts - only TWO shirts - in it for two-and-a-half hours and the darn things were still damp! I then spent fifteen minutes drying one of the shirts with my hairdryer. That's right folks, I used my hairdryer to dry a shirt so I can wear it tonight because this country starts to get pretty darn cold come September.
This last bit leads me to reason number three...
3.) A more extensive wardrobe and not having to live out of a suitcase. Like any girl, I like clothes. Now, I try to keep a level head and not to get too obsessed. However, when I came to Bedford, I only planned on coming for seven weeks. And since I knew most of my time would be spent in a homeless shelter I didn't bring the greatest of clothes. But seven weeks turned into three months (that's a quarter of a year!) and I found myself sorely missing all the clothes I have back home. I somehow convinced my mom to send me a package and she included some nice summer clothes, which I desperately needed since people don't have air conditioners here (another thing I miss but am not desperate for since it's cold now). It's amazing how much variety four extra articles of clothing can add! But summer here lasted a whole three weeks and it's progressively getting colder. So that only leaves me with the two long-sleeved tops I so desperately tried to dry today.
4.) Mexican food. Sure, I can make it (and have made it numerous times) but it's just not the same. Besides, what I make isn't as good as it should be because they only have Old El Paso ingredients. Yuck! I don't even use Old El Paso back home! I miss being able to go into a taqueria and ordering whatever I fancy, especially menudo. Mmm...menudo...I think I know what my first Texas meal will be.
5.) Bar-b-que. That's going to be my second Texas meal.
6.) My family, especially Nathan, Daniel, and Abigail (my nephews and niece). I can't wait to see those little monkeys! And I love that they're still too young to realize that I've been out of the country, therefore I don't feel obligated to bring them back anything beyond candy. (I know that sounds cheap, but if you saw my bank account statement than you'd understand where I'm coming from - I haven't worked in four months!)
7.) Coffee shops that are open late into the night. They have nice cafes here, but everything seems to close by five. Seriously. The town just dies. Of course the pubs are still open, but you can't go to a pub with a friend and chat and read and drink coffee. You go to pubs to laugh and drink and be stupid. (But I'm sure the pubs will be something I miss when I'm back home.)
8.) Education. This is the first time in six years I'm not being challenged to think. Granted, I'm not going back to university once this trip is over, but it's still something from back home that I miss.
9.) My church. Another sad one because I'm moving to Houston when I get back to Texas, so my church will no longer be my church. I'll need to find a new church. *sigh* But I miss going to church and meeting up with my friends and worshipping together.
10.) Having my own space. I love where I'm staying. Dave and Hannah are amazing and so much fun AND a huge blessing since they're not charging me anything to live with them! And even though I feel comfortable with them (Dave is literally like one of my brothers) I am still aware that it's their home and I worry about being in their way. They say it's rubbish and I know they mean it. But still. I miss having my apartment and my room decorated my way. Hmm..that's something I may not even have back home because I still don't know where I'm living. Praise the Lord!
Anywho, sorry this has turned into such a long post. I just need to pump myself up about going home in six days. Yay, home!
Thursday, September 23, 2004
by Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)
The sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the hills and the plains
Are not these, O Soul, the Vision of Him who reigns?
Is not the Vision He? tho' He be not that which he seems?
Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?
Earth, these solid stars, this weight of body and limb,
Are they not sign and symbol of thy division from Him?
Dark is the world to thee: thyself art the reason why;
For is He not all but that which has power to feel "I am I"?
Glory about thee, without thee; and thou fulfillest thy doom
Making him broken gleams, and a stifled splendour and gloom.
Speak to Him thou for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet
Closer is he than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.
God is law, say the wise; O Soul, and let us rejoice,
For if he is thunder by law the thunder is yet his voice.
Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower - but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.
Hallowed be thy name - Halleluiah!
Hallowed be thy name - Halleluiah!
We feel we are nothing - for all is Thou and in Thee;
We feel we are something - that also has come from thee;
We know we are nothing - but Thou wilt help us to be.
Hallowed be thy name - Halleluiah!
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Sitting outside a cafe drinking coffee.
Sitting along the Thames River; Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament across the riverbank.
The sun peaking out from the swiftly-moving clouds as it sets behind the historic buildings.
The wind whipping my hair beneath my pink knit cap (well, the cap actually belongs to my friend Sarah, not me, but she let me wear it all day).
Bag pipes softly playing in the distance.
London. It's like a dream, but it's my reality for the day.
Out of breath.
Hair flailing as we run through the tube station.
Sarah and I hold hands so we're not separated in the sea of cloned business men and women.
Although the tranquility of the day is shattered, we didn't miss the train and made it home to Bedford!
Saturday, September 18, 2004
by Linda Pastan
Pierre Bonnard would enter
the museum with a tube of paint
in his pocket and a sable brush.
Then violating the sanctity
of one of his own frames
he'd add a stroke of vermilion
to the skin of a flower.
Just so I stopped you
at the door this morning
and licking my index finger, removed
an invisible crumb
from your vermilion mouth. As if
at the ritual moment of departure
I had to show you still belonged to me.
As if revision were
the purest form of love.
Friday, September 17, 2004
So, what's your animal personality???
You are an orang-utan!
You are initially cautious about making friends,
appearing quite reserved, with an air of solemnity about you. However, once
people get to know you, your true character emerges. You may remain somewhat
aloof, but your sense of humour, although dry, is contagious, and you are
loyal to your small circle of friends and family.
Prince Charles and Avril Lavigne
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Some days it feels like I've been living here for years. Other days the time seemed to have flown by. No matter what I feel like, I know that I've been doing what the Lord has called me to do, so I find satisfaction in that fact. I'll miss Bedford and the Nightshelter and all my new friends, but I know my time here is over. I'm ready to go home. Oh, I'll probably still grieve when I say goodbye to people and I'll probably cry the whole plane ride, but I know it's time to move on. I still don't know exactly what I'm moving on to. Hmm...whatever it is, it'll have to be a job; or a rich husband, but the job is more probable. School loans. Yuck!
I came to the King's Arms to find out if working with the poor is something I could commit to doing full-time for at least a year. My seven weeks turned into three months, and I'm fairly confident this is something God is calling me to do again. I'm praying that I will be able to return for a longer period next year. I'm also praying for the financial miracle that will make that possible. As long as God is in control I don't have to worry about it. Praise the Lord!
The King's Arms Project manager, Mike, says that we're all called to take care of the poor. Whether you make loving and serving the poor your life or not, we should all make some room for them in our hearts and lives. I just pray that I will incorporate the lessons I learned here into my life in America, and I pray that I will learn and experience more in these last two weeks than I have all summer.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
How he got through the staff members on gate and at the door without being told to go up to his room, I don't know, but I found myself trying to dish out sweet and sour chicken to ten hungry and impatient residents while keeping an eye on a staggering Phil. I told him he needed to go up to his room but was unable physically do anything at the moment. One resident offered to carry his coffee after its contents were nearly spilled all over the counter and floor. Another resident, Phil's closest friend, encouraged him to go on upstairs. Within minutes, I successfully filled plates for all the other residents and served one final one for Phil. We then managed to transport Phil, his coffee, and his food up to his room without any problems. I figured he just needed to sleep off the drink, but unfortunately it was more than just alcohol in Phil's system.
Phil is one of my favorite residents. He has such a kind and gentle spirit. And he desperately wants to know God. He loves going to church and hates that other residents go just to laugh at people and to get free coffee and doughnuts. He wakes up every night around one and comes downstairs for coffee, a cigarette, and to read his daily devotional. I don't know much about Phil's past, just that depression and hopelessness drove him to escape life through heroin and alcohol. He wants more than anything to be free.
After all the steps Phil has taken forward over the last few months, it was heartbreaking to see him slip backwards in just one day. Not only did he drink himself silly, he took heroin along with his daily dose of methodone and a third unknown drug. It's always scary when a resident overdoses, especially when it's someone you're close to. Phil is okay now, although he was rather upset to wake up in the hospital and promptly discharged himself very early this morning. Please join with me in praying for Phil. Pray that there would be no condemnation after his overdose, but that he would experience God's mercy and grace. Pray that he would find freedom from addiction as well as from depression. And pray that he would experience deep intimacy with Christ and know just how much his Daddy loves him.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Friday, September 10, 2004
My first month working in the Nightshelter was spent in the kitchen serving dinner, washing dishes, and disinfecting surfaces. I gradually moved out of the kitchen into the hallway, answering the door when the guys started arriving. Then I was given the daunting task of "being on gate." At 7 the guys start lining up at the gate and we check to see if they are on the list as having stayed the night before. We also see if they've been drinking because if so, they'll have to go to their room until they sober up a bit. The final question we ask before clearing them to go to the door is, "Do you have any drugs, alcohol, weapons, or solvents?" Only once have I had a guy say "yes" and pull a pint of lager out of his bag, which he promptly chucked in the bin.
I was fairly confident being out on gate last Thursday night. But then ten guys walked up at the same time and they were all tired, hot, and hungry. Only two were a little tipsy. The last guy to walk up, Steve M, was clearly angry and a bit drunk. Now, the thing about Steve is he is probably the most hostile man I have ever met. I never know what to say because everything I say is wrong. So when he walked up cussing, saying someone had just put a knife to his throat and took his mobile and money, I didn't know how to respond other than saying I was sorry it happened to him. He even had red marks on his neck where the knife had been shoved into his skin. Seeing he had had a traumatic experience I cleared him to go inside even though I suspected he had been drinking. But Nilesh, the Nightshelter manager, asked him to go to his room. When he refused and grew more verbally threatening, he was asked to leave. He tore into Nilesh and when he went inside to get Steve's belongings, I was left alone with an angry, swearing man who was basically calling down curses on Nilesh and the Nightshelter. Again, Debbie doesn't know what to do in these situations. Anything I say, anything, will be misconstrued or fall on deaf ears.
Ten minutes later Micha, another staff member who has a good relationship with Steve, came outside. She tried talking to him and he got started again on how he was robbed and then came to the Nightshelter only to be sent away because he didn't want to be sent to bed like a child. He also had some nasty things to say about Nilesh and the staff. He was livid. Then, he started talking about all his illnesses - he has hepatitis as well as cancer and various other health problems. He said how he should just kill himself and get it over with, that way his death isn't drawn out and the pain would be over. He talked incoherently for a few more minutes, and then the next thing I knew, his head was in his arms and he was leaning against the gate weeping. Steve was weeping. This hardened, hostile man who is virtually impossible to love let out gut-wrenching sobs that tore at my heart. It only lasted mere minutes, but it was long enough for me to see that he was a broken man.
Brokenness is all around the Nightshelter. Broken lives. Broken hearts. Broken spirits. Broken wills. Broken bodies. Broken relationships. The residents' brokenness is sometimes visible in their facial expressions, in the way they converse with people, in their posture. Others hide it beneath a thin mask of mirth and happiness. Then those like Steve, bury it deeply beneath anger, resentment, and bitterness. Some use drugs to deaden the pain. Others alcohol. Some can't cope and block it out completely. A few turn to God, and sadly, even fewer seem to make it to the other side.
How can you reach these broken men and women? How can I reach these broken men and women? Me, who has never been addicted to drugs or alcohol, who has loving and supportive friends and family, and who has never been hurt the way these guys have been. When compared to theirs, they would scoff at my brokenness. But even though my brokenness has a different face, I'm just as broken as all these men and women. But I can't seek a method for deadening my pain. However, I have a hope: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise." And I can only pray that Steve and all the other men and women who come through the Nightshelter will open their hearts to this hope and truth.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
2.) I'm bored with my long, straight hair. It's been the same my whole life. I've been looking through magazines for a new look, but I didn't want to spend £35 on a haircut (that's $70 folks!). So as an afterthought I asked God to maybe provide the money for a nice cut. It was one of those prayers I didn't think He would take seriously. Now I know you're thinking the $210 can be used towards that, but an amazing thing happened before the money even existed in my account. I met one of the new Nightshelter staff members and she's a HAIRDRESSER! Isn't that awesome?! He didn't provide money for a new hairdo, He provided an actual hairdresser!
God is so cool!
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
For those of you wondering about my connection to The Thinklings, Thinkling Bird is my older brother, Honorary Thinkling Sha my oldest brother, and Thinkling Blo my uncle. So it's really a family connection and not that I have a wonderfully witty and insightful blog. My apologies for any disappointment this may cause.
Anywho, it's bedtime here in Bedford, England. 11 p.m. Lucky me gets to do a split shift tomorrow: 830-1130 a.m. and 530-1030 p.m. I hope to get some blog time during my break, so until then . . . 'nite!
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
I Travell’d on, seeing the hill, where lay
A long it was and weary way.
The gloomy cave of Desperation
I left on th’ one, and on the other side
The rock of Pride.
And so I came to phancies medow strow’d
With many a flower:
Fain would I here have made abode,
But I was quicken’d by my houre.
So to cares cops1 I came, and there got through
With much ado.
That led me to the wilde of Passion, which
Some call the wold;
A wasted place, but sometimes rich.
Here I was robb’d of all my gold,
Save one good Angell,2 which a friend had ti’d
Close to my side.
At length I got unto the gladsome hill,
Where lay my hope,
Where lay my heart; and climbing still,
When I had gain’d the brow and top,
A lake of brackish waters on the ground
Was all I found.
With that abash’d and struck with many a sting
Of swarming fears,
I fell, and cry’d, Alas my King!
Can both the way and end be tears?
Yet taking heart I rose, and then perceiv’d
I was deceiv’d:
My hill was further: so I flung away,
Yet heard a crie
Just as I went, None goes that way
And lives: If that be all, said I,
After so foul a journey death is fair,
And but a chair.
The Temple (1633) Complete Poem Index
2.) I just checked the weather back home - 95 in Waco and San Antonio and 89 in Houston. What's the weather like here in Bedford, England? 60. That's right, folks. The middle of August and it's 60 degrees outside. This little Texan girl is rather cold at the moment. If I knew how to work the heating in this place, it would definitely be on! Summer lasted a whole three weeks and it's already autumn. You can smell it in the air. So weird.
3.) I've some how become old enough to date a 32 year-old. 32!!! That's older than my brothers! What the crap?! When did that happen and why did I not get the memo?!
4.) Don't worry, I won't be dating the 32 year-old. However, there's a 31 year-old who I think is really nice . . .
5.) So that $295 phone bill has been sorted out. Turns out the phone company made a mistake. Praise the Lord!!! That's something that's been hanging over me for two weeks. I definitely have $24 in my bank account, so a $295 bill was most unwelcome.
So that pretty much sums up my life at the moment! Oh so very fun and exciting, I know!
Thursday, August 19, 2004
You are Claire from the Breakfast Club. Isn't that
like totally cool? So tell us, Claire, the
whole world wants to know... are you a virgin
or aren't ya?
Which 80's Movie Character Are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
- Shopping for new shoes and bags
- When the new shoes and bags you're shopping for are on sale
- Packages and letters from home
- Email in my inbox
- The monkeys = Nathan, Daniel, and Abigail
- Running into a friend from the night shelter that couldn't get a bed when I was working and finding out he was able to get a bed the next night and really appreciated the conversation I had with him
- Having people in the house with you, after living alone for a week
- Sitting outside, having coffee with friends
- Very well-written books
- Watching Friends, Dawson's Creek, and Everwood reruns in England
- Pictures Nathan and Daniel (my nephews) draw for me and send me all the way from Texas
- Sleeping in
- Three days off in a row!!!
Sunday, August 15, 2004
- Emails from my best friend telling me I may have run up nearly to a $300 phone bill!!! (((that's one of those things I always saw on court tv and wondered how in the world that was possible; trust me folks, it's not as improbable as it may sound!)))
- Running out of beds at the night shelter and having to turn people away
- When those people you had to turn away lash out at you, say your a hypocrite, and yell that you have no idea what it's like for them
- Not being able to adequately meet people where they are because you've never had a drinking problem, drug problem, been physically or sexually abused, etc, etc
- When you pull a prank on someone and are either not able to complete it or it doesn't work like it should have
- Waiting for that person to get you back because you know he's going to and it's going to be worse than what you did to him
- Pickled onions. Yuck!
- Missing my nephew's 5th birthday
- Missing one of my best friend's wedding. But not just any wedding, the wedding event of the year that's too spectacular to even attempt to blog about
- Having a guy that your pseudo-but-not-really-interested in think you're a complete moron because, of circumstances beyond your control, you ended up doing some idiotic things in his presence
- Being single when all but one of your closest friends at the moment are married and you want to hang out with them but you really can't because you're either a third wheel or the married people are off by themselves with each other doing married-people things
- Having to walk three miles and back to a proper grocery store while the sky threatens to spring open its water storage facility
- Being in debt!!!
- Going downstairs to eat and watch tv when you have friends that are sleeping rough with nothing to eat but you're not in a place where you are able to help them
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Setting: 4 am in the night shelter; Debbie makes sandwiches in the kitchen while Nesta works on administration forms in the office.
D: Hey Nesta, how many sandwiches do I need to make?
N: You should use about ten pieces of bread.
D: So five sandwiches?
N: (thinking really hard) Well . . . that's always a bit tricky. I mean, that depends on what you think a sandwich is . . .
D: (absolutely bewildered) Isn't it two slices of bread with something in between them?
(((Both girls giggle)))
N: Well, do you define a sandwich as two slices of bread with filling between them or as two slices of bread with filling and then cut in half?
D: Uhhh . . . so I think you just described the same thing two different ways. I'm just gonna make about five sandwiches then . . .
Setting: 4:30 am in the night shelter; Resident wakes up and comes down for a break while Debbie tidies up downstairs.
D: Hey Matt! You doin' ok?
M: Yeah, I can't sleep very well. I think I just need a drink and a fag.
D: (momentarily forgetting she's in England) EXCUSE ME???
M: I just want a drink and a fag.
D: (remembers she's in England where "fag" means cigarette, not . . . ) Oh . . . . Okay . . . . Good . . .Well, you just take your time then. I think I need to take a break. I think I need some sleep.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
2. I would have been flying home tomorrow, but God made a way for me to stay longer!!!! Yay! King's Arms helped me out, so now I'm sticking around England for eight more weeks. One of the things I'm most excited about is I get to miss ALL the Texas heat! Praise the Lord!!!
3. Speaking of Texas, a team of six people from a church in Austin just came through Bedford to work on Project. It's sure a small world because their church works closely with our church in Waco and we have a few mutual friends/acquaintances. I've absolutely loved having the team around to keep me company and remind me of home. It's sad to say goodbye though.
4. However, one of my new Austin friends has a blog so it will be fun keeping in touch through that! So check out Savanna's blog!
5. I get to start my nights tonight! It's two now, so that means I get to go into work at ten and work all through the night until nine. Yipee. I actually don't mind the night shift. Reminds me of my college days of staying up all night writing papers. The best part is I don't panic once the sun starts rising because I have nothing due in the morning. Yay!
6. I took two from the American team to visit the night shelter last night. They loved it. Things were definitely more lively there than at the hostel. One girl got proposed to, but it was a guy who proposed to me just three days ago. Men. Too bad these guys are homeless...and smoke like chimneys...and drink A LOT...and don't love Jesus...oh well.
7. When we were at the night shelter last night one of the guys was talking to another staff member about God and salvation and said he wanted to take the plunge!!! Praise the Lord!!! Two people went off with him to talk about what it means and to pray with/for him. Please keep Matthew in your prayers as he starts on his journey of following Jesus. Pray that he would have grace to turn away from the things that so easily entangle.
8. I'm still homesick at times, but I'm loving my life here. It's just weird that life continues back home without me. Wow, that sounds rather egotistical. What I meant is, although I'm loving my time here it's hard to miss out on everything back home. My sister-in-law's birthday was Sunday (((Happy Birthday Brandi!!!))), my nephew's birthday is Saturday (((Happy Birthday Nathan!!!))), and I had to miss both celebrations. My other nephew is finally almost potty-trained (((Way to go Daniel!!!))) and my four month-old niece is now six months old, not four. So I must say that I am really looking forward to going home in October.
9. So this is life in Bedford. What's going on with you???
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
The first week here was extremely hard. Reality hit as I boarded the plane. "What the crap am I doing?" I was literally at the mercy of God, because Debbie doesn't board planes with overseas destinations all by herself. I missed my family. I missed my friends. I actually missed my classes and professors (well, some of them). I was happy in Waco, going to class, going to church, hanging out with friends, etc etc.
Watching Friends tonight reminded me of those days. It was an episode from the first season - the one where Chandler's mom kisses Ross; Monica and phoebe "woo-hoo" at the guy in the street and he ends up getting hit by an ambulance. Then, One Tree Hill came on after Friends. I was able to watch through the theme song but eventually had to turn it off. *sigh* All these shows bring back happy memories of staying over at friends houses, cooking dinner, eating sweets, and drinking wine. (Actually, during this past year it was mainly Elaine and Kristen's house where all this took place.)
So now I feel nostalgic and slightly homesick. Two days ago it would have been okay because I knew I would be going home in two weeks. But now I'm not going home for two months.
It's amazing how complicated human emotions are. I want to leave and stay all at the same time. A few weeks ago I decided seven weeks wasn't enough time to spend working on Project. I looked into staying longer, but found I couldn't afford it. Then, King's Arms offered to help me pay and they wanted me to stay. Silly me decided to extend my stay through September, and I rushed off to London to change my flight.
Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to stay. I know I will be grieved to leave come September 30. But at the same time I miss home. I miss worshipping with the body of Christ at Antioch. I miss late nights in the library, laughing with friends when we should be studying and writing papers. I miss heading over to my brother's house to play with my nephews and niece, and those evenings where we all get together as a family and have dinner and watch movies. I miss Friday night Friends binges and late nite coffee shop runs. I miss home.
If home is where the heart is, then my heart is in San Antonio with my parents, in Waco with my brothers and my brother's family, in a swing on the Baylor campus, and in countless other cities my friends have dispersed to over the years. And I know come October 1, my heart will also be in Bedford, England.
But for now, my whole body is in Bedford. I cherish the time I have here and I love the new friends I've made. I also know these three months are preparation for the rest of my life.
Blessed are those whose strength is in You,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. . . .
They will go from strength to strength . . .
Saturday, July 24, 2004
Wow, your prayers have definitely been heard! The sun appeared yesterday and chased away all the clouds. Now we're enjoying beautiful *sunny* weather. Children are riding their bikes through the streets, celebrating the start of summer vacation. The joyful tune of the ice cream truck beacons to young and old alike, promising a cool release from the heat. And hot it is! or at least, in English standards. We probably broke 80 F. Proof that I've been here too long: I actually thought it was HOT as I walked to work yesterday. It may not have even been 85 F. I dread returning to Texas, where temperatures are trying to push past the 100 mark.
However, it looks like I may beat the heat this summer. My August 11th departure has been pushed back to September 30th!!! I wanted to stay longer but I just didn't have the finances. I resigned myself to returning Aug. 11, after giving up hope of remaining until the end of Aug. When I communicated this to Nilesh, the Night Shelter manager, he talked to Mike, the Project manager, and they were able to "work something out." So here I am, with two full months ahead of me! Yay!
I am excited about staying longer but there are moments I miss home and want to be back with my family and friends. There are also the moments I panic and question whether this is what I should be doing. I figure God has lead me this far and will be faithful to lead me the rest of the way, whether it's staying through September or returning earlier. I'm also trusting that He will provide for all my needs - this is a *huge* step of faith for me because I didn't even think my finances would last until August 11th. Now we'll have to see if they last 'til September 30th! Please pray that I would have peace and trust that the Lord will provide for all my needs.
I may have mentioned this in a previous email, but I absolutely *LOVE* the staff here! They are amazing men and women of God who daily lay their lives down to love those which society has rejected. And they're so much FUN! We had the Project summer social Wednesday. All the staff from the Night Shelter, Barton House, and the offices got together. In the morning we went to the cinema and watched Spiderman II. It's such a great movie! One realizes just how American it is when one is seated in a cinema in an English town, surrounded by English people who don't even laugh at the funny parts! That evening we went to the Bishop's House ((it's literally the house that belongs to the Bishop of Bedfordshire -- his daughter, Ali, works for the Project)). PK, the assistant manager/administrator for the Project, organized a night full of giant Jenga, life-sized snakes and ladders, skittle (9-pin bowling), and giant connect-four. It was so much fun!! My favorite part was when we took the giant dice from the snakes and ladders game and threw them at each other, chasing each other around the yard. We had a blast and were all absolutely winded at the end of it!
This week, I'd like to ask you to pray for the staff. Many are burning out from their work. It's hard to love and serve people who take everything you do for granted. It's also hard to sit back and watch them destroy their lives with drugs and alcohol. Some on staff or becoming jaded. They need encouragement and refreshing from God. There are a few whose time here on Project is coming to a close. They need direction for the future.
Here's a list of the staff from the Night Shelter:
Mike M. - the King's Arms Project manager
PK (Paul K.) - the KAP assistant manager/administrator
Nilesh - the NS manager
Hannah - the NS assistant manager; she will be leaving project at the end of August
Heather - does lots of NS administration; been here for 1 year
Jez & Justyna - been here for 1.5 yrs
Chris - been here 4 months
Nesta - been here 2 yrs
Fiona - been here 7 months; although she *loves* the NS, she's looking for new job b/c w/ 3 children at home, the work is too demanding/time consuming; also, she's getting married Aug 14!!!
Sarah H. - her year-long commitment is up in one day! she'll be joining a KA church plant in Leeds in September
Ewelyna - from Poland, here working for the summer (until Sept 5)
Micah - been here almost 2 yrs?? just got married on June 26th!!
Carl - been here abt 10 months
Amy - another American! been here 11 months, her year commitment is up in August
Please pray that the remaining staff members would not be spread too thin; losing 4 permanent staff members in less that two months is massive!
Thanks again for the prayers and encouraging emails! They are greatly appreciated and needed!