Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Guest Post: "Single does not mean Alone" by JourneyGirl

Hello ladies (and any gentlemen lurkers! :-) ),

I wanted to share a special treat from a guest blogger, Journeygirl. Journeygirl’s article “Single does not mean Alone” reminded me of how God has woven the story of time, orchestrating events and moving in our lives to woo us and bring us back to that place of intimacy from our darkened separated shame. He can fulfill our desire for intimacy-the need to know and be known completely. I am so thankful that while we are single we are not alone, that God comes alongside us and walks with us hand in hand through the darkest and most difficult times. Not as some cosmic boyfriend, but rather as a true companion who knows us intimately- every detail, every thought, every action, the good, the bad and the ugly and still chooses to shout to the world His great and magnificent love. I pray that this article encourages and blesses each of you… Enjoy.

-SarahDee

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20b NIV
__

It is hard to be single. That is true... been there done that... doing that. I have had my share of tears as I walk this season of life. I've dreamed of romance since I was young... maybe even since age 14... I think by around the age of 17 I was dreaming of marriage.

Now I am 26 and still dreaming of the day when it will really happen.

It is a place inside of me that I sometimes want to walk away from. It's so frustrating and hard to be at this place that I throw out ridiculous statements like "let's be nuns." "I'm going to take a vow of singleness." I think if I shut the door on my heart then I won't be disappointed. But it is a dream, a desire that I cannot shut down. It is hard wired into the core of my being (as others have said before)... the desire to love and be loved.

But through these last couple of days, I've been feeling rather emotional and frustrated with life in general. I've been open with God about these feelings and have really connected with Him and His love. In the past I have asked God to romance me. I have felt that, His romancing, these last 2 days in some special ways. God knows how to touch our hearts with His beautiful love.

Let me tell you a story. It has 2 characters, the first is a handsome prince: Jesus, and the female role is played by you.

It is a beautiful love story... handsome prince... neat and clean and fresh... walks the alleys and fields surrounding his kingdom. Sees a young girl... not really a lady no... poor and bloodied... dirty belonging to no one. Crying in her own dirt.

He goes over to her... she can't even look Him in the eye. He extends His hand to her and pulls her to her feet. By this time she is sobbing uncontrollably... "Don't touch me I'm dirty. I'll get you dirty too." He takes the hem of his tunic and wipes the tears from her face... getting dirt smeared onto the clean linen.

He puts his hand under her chin, she won't, she can't look up. He says, "I've been waiting for you for a long time. I have chosen you. I have watched you from afar. I want to take you into my heart. I don't care about this dirt... I don't care that you feel you have nothing to offer. I don't care. I only care about you. All I want is your heart and I freely give you mine." She carefully looks up... tears in her eyes. His compassionate beautiful eyes look fully into hers. She nods her head as a warmth fills her heart. The knowing that she was now chosen starts a change deep inside. A change that quickly transforms her from a bedraggled filthy orphan, abandoned and alone into a chosen woman.

It was not a change you could see from the outside (like Cinderella)... but if you looked into her eyes, the windows into her soul you could see it. A young girl desperate to be loved, to be noticed changes into something beautiful. She changed in one instant as the truth of who she really was penetrated to the depths of her soul... she wasn't unchosen, she wasn't overlooked... she was wanted and the man above all men... the most eligible bachelor of all time had chosen her. He loved her, he had made his intentions known and she gladly accepted.

I think when we fully embrace our true identity we too will experience a sort of transformation... we have all bemoaned the fact of our singleness... which spelled out into full fact is that no one is ours, we are alone, we wear the title of "single". No one has expressed their love and devotion to us and sealed it with a kiss.

I know from experience it is hard to be single, when we desire otherwise... but remember we have the creator of the universe romancing us. He initiated it about 2,000 years ago. You may wish to have a young man standing next to you holding your hand as you watch the sun go down... but have you ever seen a sunset by yourself and felt that whisper, that warmth spoken to your heart, God's lingering touch that says, "I made this for you... I love you."

We may look single... we may get a table for one at a restaurant... we may go for walks by ourselves as the sun is setting... maybe even buy one ticket to watch a movie by ourselves.(I have done each and everyone of these things.)

.... but are we really single... as the word implies, alone... by ourselves?

The truth is we always have Someone to listen. We have Someone that can look into our hearts beyond the facade of the masks we wear... He sees our pain... He catches all our tears in a bottle. He writes down the days of our lives... He dances over us with singing! He enjoys life when we do... he loves to watch us. We are his beloved... He blows kisses our way through sunsets... and moonlight, fireflies and children's giggles.

I haven't met any guy that can do that yet. I am being romanced, in a sense courted and wooed by the author of romance himself...in the truest sense of the word I am not single. I am not alone. As Solomon so eloquently put it, "I am my beloveds, and my beloved is mine."

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Getting to Know: Krista!

To quote Groucho Marx, “I must confess, I was born at a very early age.”

And I was. One bonny May Memorial Day, I was born. My mother gave birth to me at home, in the yellow third floor apartment down the street from my grandparents’ home. I was – and still am – my parents’ first daughter and my grandparent’s first granddaughter.

Two months shy of my second birthday and before memories began to stick, we moved to a small New England town twenty minutes away, into a house with two brick stoops and a large backyard. For the past twenty years, this house has been home. I watched my aunt and uncle exchange vows in our living and was there when my sixteen year old brother was born in my parents’ bedroom, but not when my other three siblings were born at home.

From my bedroom window, I can see the trains go by in the distance and feel the vibrations of the wheels against tracks. Growing up, the windows would rattle in their casements as the boxcars went by. I can still tell time by them to this day. You can tell time in this New England town often without looking at the clock. The church up the street, ringing its bells throughout the day, chiming the hour. Neighbors walking to work. Factory bells and streams of employees flooding the streets.

I remember kindergarten: dancing the hokey-pokey in the kitchen with my mom and finally learning the difference between left and right. The dining room table was my desk and my mother my teacher, kindergarten through high school. The table looked large to me then, but throughout the years turned strangely smaller with each addition of a brother or sister to the family.

Today, that table is too small for the thirteen people in this family. Five brothers and six sisters. Two tables to hold us all. And Thanksgivings are always an experience.

When I was about seven, my family began home-churching with several other families on Saturday and we have never looked back. Today, we still fellowship with several other families, meeting on Sabbath afternoons for church here in the same living room where my aunt and uncle were married. We observe God’s Torah, His commandments, including celebrating His Holy Days – Passover, Shavuot, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot and more. We are not Jewish. We simply believe that God has not done away with His commandments and would have us continue to obey them. It isn’t a matter of doing them in order to gain brownie points with God or to redeem ourselves; it is a matter of observing God’s commandments because I love God and wish to please Him.

As I grow more and learn more and more from His word, I find myself more and more in awe of Him – of the beauty, the grace, the awesomeness of it all. Occasionally, you might hear me talk about what I am learning; it might be in conjunction to a Holy Day or even from learning more about a traditional siddur, or prayer book. It is an exciting journey for me and I am glad to have you along. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask and I will be more than happy to try and answer them as well as I can.

I devoured books from an early age; the library fed my mind, with books held in stacks up to my chin. It was through reading that I discovered writing. Stories turned words into magical worlds in my mind. I began to write and haven’t stopped since. I’m still reading and doubt I’ll ever stop, as long as God gives me eyes to see.

Less than a month after my seventeenth birthday, I wore a blue cap and gown and received my high school diploma. There were still braces on my teeth and looking back, I smile at the gawkish teenager I was then. Such a dork was I.

Such a dork am I still.

I taught piano to several students – cousins and siblings – until I found a job as housekeeper at a hotel. Years of washing and folding laundry at home prepared me for huge loads of sheets and towels to fold. Several months, I transferred to the front desk and became a guest services associate. For the first time in my life, I actually enjoyed working (in spite of the horrible blue uniforms!), for somehow, this shy girl found making reservations, answering phones and checking people in and out of the hotel her forte. Slowly, my shyness and insecure naivety began to wear away and I learned that the world, as scary as it seemed to a sheltered home-schooler, wasn’t all evil and was populated with people – not caricatures, but real people who want to love and be loved.

I’ll always remember my first job with fond memories, from fish abandoned at the front desk at 3 AM to sharing jokes with co-workers. And meeting people from all over the world: Japan, India, England, Iceland, Mexico, Ireland, Canada, Australia, France. Accents, glorious, beautiful accents.

And then I changed jobs. I left the hotel to work as a secretary in a nearby, local business. This summer, after nearly three years of administrative work, I have switched to the accounting department. My job is just that: a job. I don’t necessarily love the field I am in, but God has me where I am at the moment for a reason. I’m learning many things, both in accounting, but also in how to rejoice with what God gives me right now.

Today, I am still living at home with my family. This house that was large when I was two is now small with thirteen people. There is a baby in the house, yet still, and who knows what else God has in store.

Some of us might have grand plans for the future and I admit that I wish that my plans extended further than the next few months. I’m going back to school part-time in the spring semester, Lord willing, but will continue working full-time. God has also opened another door and has provided me with the amazing opportunity to travel to England with my father in November. I still write and read and sing. Someday, maybe, I will have finished my first novel. Someday I might be married. Someday – what a wealth of excitement in that one word! – someday, well, we’ll see what happens someday.

For now, I am here. Hello. Hello and welcome.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday quote


"In His hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is His also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land."

Psalm 95, 1-2 (KJV)

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Friday, September 26, 2008

We Interrupt This Blog

Hello everyone!!!!!

Next month marks our 7 month anniversary.  And we would like to know what you are thinking.  So, if you are reading this we would like to ask that you would comment saying you're here.  And since you are already commenting we've love to know what your favorite part of the IDD blog is or what you would like to see more of.

And since we have your attention we have some great announcements!

1) Starting Monday we will be taking some time over the next 3 weeks to do a little "getting to know you".  Each of your IDD blog authors has written a post letting you know a little bit about themself.

2) In case you missed it, Maureen started a series on Book Recommendations.  She'd love for you to stop by the most recent one and leave a comment with your own book recommendations!  The first article can be found Here.

3) We're on the look out for guest posts!!  We published the first one last week.  And have a few more in the making.  If you have something you would like to share please drop us an email.  You can find our email address on the top right side of your screen.

*puts on a deep announcer voice*

So stay tuned!!!

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Universal Song


"There are songs which can only be learned in the valley. No art can teach them; no rules of voice can make them perfectly sung. Their music is in the heart. They are songs of memory, of personal experience. They bring out their burden from the shadow of the past; they mount on the wings of yesterday.

Even in Heaven there will be a song that can only be fully sung by the sons of earth--the strain of redemption. Doubtless it is a song of triumph, a hymn of victory to the Christ who made us free. But the sense of triumph must come from the memory of the chain.


No angel, no archangel can sing it so sweetly as I can. To sing it as I sing it, they must pass through my exile, and this they cannot do. None can learn it but the children of the cross. "And no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth." Revelation 14:3.

And so, my soul, thou art receiving a music lesson from thy Father. Thou art being educated for the choir invisible. There are parts of the symphony that none can take but thee.

"There are chords too minor for the angels. There may be heights in the symphony which are beyond the scale--heights which angels alone can reach; but there are depths which belong to thee, and can only be touched by thee.

"Thy Father is training thee for the part the angels cannot sing; and the school is sorrow. I have heard many say that He sends sorrow to prove thee; nay, He sends sorrow to educate thee, to train thee for the choir invisible.

"In the night He is preparing thy song. In the valley He is tuning thy voice. In the cloud He is deepening thy chords. In the rain He is sweetening thy melody. In the cold He is molding thy expression. In the transition from hope to fear He is perfecting thy lights.

Despise not thy school of sorrow, O my soul; it will give thee a unique part in the universal song."

Is the midnight closing round you?
Are the shadows dark and long?
Ask Him to come close beside you,
And He'll give you a new, sweet song.
He'll give it and sing it with you;
And when weakness lets it down,
He'll take up the broken cadence,
And blend it with His own.

And many a rapturous minstrel

Among those sons of light,
Will say of His sweetest music
"I learned it in the night."
And many a rolling anthem,
That fills the Father's home,
Sobbed out its first rehearsal,
In the shade of a darke
ned room.


~George Matheson

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An amusing quote

"You express so little anxiety about my being murdered under Ash Park Copse by Mrs. Hulbert's servant, that I have a great mind not to tell you whether I was or not."

Jane Austen, Letters, #17

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Absolute and Unquestionable

"We have to get to the point of 
absolute and unquestionable relationship
that takes everything exactly as it comes from Him.  
God never guides us at some time in the future, 
but always here and now.  
Realize that the Lord is here now, 
and the freedom we receive is immediate."
-Oswald Chambers

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Christians and Writing

Not long ago a college senior asked if she could talk to me about being a Christian writer. If she wanted to write Christian fiction, how was she to go about it?

I told her if she is truly and deeply a Christian, what she writes is going to be Christian, whether she mentions Jesus or not. And if she is not, in the most profound sense, Christian, then what she writes is not going to be Christian, no matter how many times she invokes the name of the Lord.


- Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections of Faith & Art

This topic has come up for discussion in our house lately: what makes something Christian? Does slapping the label ‘Christian’ or sprinkling mentions of Jesus liberally make a story Christian?

I struggle with this, myself. I love to read and find myself torn in this regard, both in reading and writing. Is a story better in the Christian sense merely because it involves characters who pray to God and try to live Christian lives, even if it isn’t well-written? Is a well-written story with a clear glimpse of good versus evil to be rejected merely because it doesn’t mention the name of God?

Am I to strive to include God’s name even when it doesn’t fit and seems awkward? Is it all right if I try to portray the light overcoming the darkness, even if the characters never attend church once in the story? Is it all right if I pen something of the fantasy genre, a world where God isn’t called by the name of Jesus?

I believe we need stories that talk about God, about Jesus – in a reverent and holy manner – yet not come across as overly piousness that nobody can identify with, so often found in Christian stories reprinted from the Victorian age. We need more Christian writers, striving for excellence in this field, trying their best to write stories that aren’t dripping with pious sentimentality or are the cotton-candy fluff that comes in paperback romances these days.

Yet, is it wrong for a writer to pen stories that don’t mention God? I look back on the stories that I have read and loved and found myself encouraged by, and so many of them don’t fit into the “Christian Fiction” genre. I have learned so much more from novels that aren’t inherently outright “Christian” than from most of the Christian fiction I have read. There’s Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” just for one example; even though the trilogy was written by a Christian, the stories never mention God. I have read adventures stories where not a single character talks about God, yet they are striving to overcome evil with good. Children’s stories, too, in which children grapple with moral dilemmas: should I do something I know I’m not supposed to, what decision should I make?

I keep coming back to the good versus evil part of the equation. Good versus evil has been around since the beginning. Choices have been around since the beginning. Choose you this day to serve the Lord. Choose that which brings life or that which brings death. That’s what I keep coming back to; if my story has a focus, a source and balance of morals, I truly believe that God can be and is glorified by it.

So. Can a Christian writer create a story without mentioning God? I believe that you can. I agree with Madeleine L’Engle. If we are God-followers, no matter what we write, it is going to be Christian.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

This Great Book



In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, I believe the Bible is the best gift God has given to man. All the good Savior gave to the world was communicated through this Book. But for this Book we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man's welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.
~Abraham Lincoln

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Friday, September 19, 2008

I Have a Dream

*picture taken by Grace Ramsey*
It's only a small one.
It consists of several pictures, pictures of gentle images and sentimental emotions. I dream of one day walking up a lovely, quiet country lane, or a short, quaint walk, to a small house, an old fashioned, sweet little house, with yellow walls and white curving swirls of wood framing the edges of the porch. The white planks of the porch floor echo beneath my feet and the summer day is washed in a dreamlike stillness.
Inside, the forms of the walls, the antique furnishings, and quiet coverings of the floor are laced in vagueness, like a blurred picture, waiting to be sharpened with the advent of time.
There are warm, comfortable rooms, and quiet, sun drenched ones, sitting rooms with braided rugs and bedrooms with homey quilts. There are windows everywhere and the sun pours in to fill the air with light. Curtains hang before them, to shield the furniture and soften the shape of the walls.
The clarity of the interior of my little house remains in obscurity.  I can't see precisely how it will look. But I can see the dim outlines of the people that will be there, and the things that will fill my shelves. I can see a small kitchen table and a small kitchen chair, a figure there, awaiting the care I so long to give him, smelling the smells of my kitchen, smiling when I smile at him.
*picture taken by James Ramsey*
That is my dream, only a simple one. It is a dream of quaint little house, and the man of my heart's longing within it.
-Emma
Editors Note: This post was written by Emma Ramsey and is being republished here by permission.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Longings


Note: The reference to God being our true love is not meant in lieu of a girlfriend/boyfriend scenario, but rather that within all of us is the deep need to love and be loved--which can only be satisfied fully by our relationship with the Lord. We really don't understand how much God does love us. My prayer is that this will encourage you to plunge deeper and deeper into that love, and look to Him for ultimate fulfillment.

Longings
written by Deborah Teat 3 years ago

The ache settles deep within—
Burning, clamoring, its ceaseless din
Pushing me to run to You.
No other source can lift me through
The yearning I feel.

I long for love; my soul’s vast crave
Washes me, waves after wave with endless crash
Of endless fears, of endless hopes, of endless tears.
But wait; be still, for whom but He
Who redeemed your soul
Can your true love be?

There is none else who loves you so,
With perfect love: O do not throw
His love away for petty things this life may give.

Only when in Him you live
With calm joy and deep content
Your search for love will then be spent.

For there in Him your longing complete,
Will you find the true love you so earnestly seek.

~Miss Deb

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Book recomendations: Adventure

[Note: This is the first in a new series. Each time I do one of these posts I'll recommend some books in a specific category and then (after this time) I'll post a few reader recommendations from the last post. Some books span several categories so "A Tale of Two Cities" would appear in Classics rather than Historical (which it technically is).]

Who doesn't love a good adventure book? The occasional sword-fight, running away to sea, traveling to new places--they're exciting. They make us want to jump up and do something big. Or maybe they're a way for us to do something big without ever leaving the comfort of our favorite armchair. At any rate:

A few adventure books

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. Four siblings (John, Susan, Roger, and Titty) camp on an island in the English Lake District with their (borrowed) boat, the "Swallow". Unfortunately, the island already belongs to the piratical Amazon sisters, Nancy and Peggy Blackett. Naturally, war is declared! The first in a long series of wonderful children's books.

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. David Balfour, nephew of the Laird of Shaws, goes to visit his uncle for the first time. Upon arriving, he finds the house in ruins and his uncle a miser. And he almost falls to his death in a very mysterious fashion. That's only the beginning!

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. Ivanhoe is the disinherited son of a Saxon Lord, disinherited because he chose to follow the Norman Richard the Lionheart on a crusade. Now he has returned home to find his love, Lady Rowena, promised to another. Warning: the language in this one can be difficult since Scott, an eighteenth-century writer, was attempting to write in the style of several hundred years before.

Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. Marcus' father disappeared when he was very young, lost with his legion in the wilds of Britain. Now Marcus is grown up and has himself been sent to Britain. He vows to find the truth of what happened to his father and the lost legion.

The Squire's Tale by Gerald Morris. The first book in a series of re-tellings of the Arthur stories. Terence is a foundling living with a holy hermit in the woods when one day he encounters Gawain, who hopes to be one of Arthur's knights. Gawain takes him on as a squire and together they set off for Arthur's court where love, adventure, trials, and magic await them.

Other books by the same authors
Arthur Ransome
Racundra's First Cruise
The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship
Peter Duck
Swallowdale
Missee Lee
Coot Club

Robert Louis Stevenson
David Balfour
The Black Arrow
Treasure Island

Rosemary Sutcliff
The Lantern Bearers (This is an amazing book)
The Mark of the Horse Lords
Blood Feud

Gerald Morris
The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady
The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf
The Lioness and Her Knight
(for more on Gerald Morris see here)

Reader Recommendations
Do you have a recommendation for an adventure book? Leave it in the comments! Next time I'll put up a few of them.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dr. Jak's Fall Fashion Tips

The new fall trend:
Patterned tights under capris.  Keeps your legs warmer so you can wear your capris longer.
Ballet flats.
Cardigan sweaters are wonderful layering pieces.  The outfit works with or without the sweater so if I get warm mid-afternoon I can go without.  
Hats are good for bad hair days.  Any season.  

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Echoes

Do you ever get the feeling, something that comes and slips away before you can put your finger on it, that echoes through your mind like something you've heard and known and loved before? Do you get the feeling of home-sickness when you hear the snatch of a beautiful, haunting song...when you see an old black and white photograph, smiling faces and old, old buildings...the elusive charm and wit of a poem...the sudden trick of a breeze against your face...the half-waking remembrance of a dream...the smile on a baby's face...fresh wonderment at the start of spring...the first breathless thrill of a spin on the dance floor...

It all echoes like I've known it before and just as I try to grasp it for all my worth, it's gone. Do you think I dream of heaven?

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Memories

On August 6th my Great Grandma went to be with the Lord. She was 88 years old, and the last of my Great Grandparents.  You see, I am one blessed person.  I, up until 10 years ago, had 4 sets of grandparents.  My dad's parents, my mom parents, and both sets of my mom's grandparents.  Some people never meet their grandparents let alone great grandparents.  I did.  The thing is, when I heard that my grandma had died, I was at work.  I went right back to work, hoping it would keep me from crying and my mind off my grandma.  It worked, kinda.  You see, I didn't cry, but I certainly thought about grandma a lot. In fact, I thought about all my grandparents.  Memories of them came flooding in.  The last time I say each of them.  Special moments we spent together.  I kept remembering the smile my dad's dad gave me only days before he died.

A few days later, I was at my Gr. Grandparents house, going through her things.   They lived by a river, and there was water in the basement earlier this year.  They were still working on cleaning things out and we needed to get it finished.  We laughed and cried, memories abound in that house, they lived there for 45 years.  The house abounds with memories of them.

A few Saturdays ago all the family was supposed to meet at the house, to help clean up and then divvy up possessions.  There were so many things that meant something to one or the other, or all of us. It's amazing how one of the many unique toys they collected would bring back a score a happy memories.

The funny thing about all of it, was that after the fact, it got me to thinking.  Thinking about all the material things that exist in a person's life. The things that, before they are a person's possession, they are meaningless.  But once they become an owned possession they are important.  They become priceless, and to friends and families a door to memory lane.  What things do I own that will someday be a priceless treasure to someone else?  Make the most of today, and treasure the memories of yesterday.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Tale of Two T-shirts


September 11 held little significance to me. It was merely 11 days before my brother's birthday, or 9 before my friend's. It was the bridge of memorable days to come. But not one of the memorable days itself.

Until 2001.

On that day I stood before the TV and watched as terrorists struck our nation. I watched heroes come forth, and rescue those trapped inside the Twin Towers. I watched heroes give their life to prevent further destruction, by resisting the terrorists on the plane. Everywhere I looked people showed their American pride. "God Bless America" echoed across the wind, on bumper stickers and flags

And especially on t-shirts.

There was another t-shirt I saw, not as popular, but still as moving. "America, bless God."

In the midst of all the turmoil, the fear, the uncertainty, it was a reminder of how great our need for God is as a nation--and how much we need to be praying for our leaders. People suddenly flocked to churches, wanting the reassurance that Someone was indeed in control through all of this.

9/11 was a terrible tragedy, one I will never forget, one that I should never forget. But I fear the greater tragedy would be for us to forget to seek God as a nation at all times--not just when we are attacked. The greater tragedy is when Christians cry out to God to heal our land only when tragedy strikes.

So on 9/11, I pray we will remember not only "God Bless America"--but "America, Bless God."

And pray for our leaders, our country, and that God's truth be proclaimed throughout this land.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

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September Eleventh

SEPTEMBER 9, 2006

Five years ago today, I was holding my littlest brother for the first time. He was pink and adorable, Sunday’s child. We all doted on him and I couldn’t wait to get the chance to coo over him in the blank expanse of my journal.

Two days later, I still hadn’t.

I am sure that day is etched in everyone’s minds. Where they were. What they were doing.

It was a beautiful September day. Blue skies…blue skies on that day, of all days. Sunshine. A new baby brother to cherish, just two days old and the world falls apart. He’ll never know what the world was like before. Before, before, before.

He will remember it after.

Mom was on the couch, the baby was in his seat, asleep. The kids were playing on the back porch and I was folding laundry. The washing machine was on the fritz and Dad and Andrew had gone out to the laundrimat. I was sighing over the laundry; it was a white load and I hated white loads.

And then, the phone rang. It was Dad. Turn on the TV, he said. We still had the bunny ears then and could get in one channel out of Albany, NY. Turn on the TV, he said. A plane hit the World Trade Center. It was all over the news on the radio.

We turned on the TV. Just as the screen and Good Morning America came on, we saw smoke billowing from that first tower. And then, right before our eyes, the second plane hit the second tower.

“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” Those words said by Diane Sawyer are etched in my mind for ever. Oh, my God. Oh, my God…

“That is no accident,” my mother said. The phone was still in her lap, the baby still asleep in his seat. How could one fold socks and towels on a day like this? We prayed; prayed for the people in the buildings, for the firefighters and all emergency personnel.

Mom called our grandparents, certain that they were likely still in bed and unaware of what was going on our country. My pepere was in the Air Force before he retired. My memere answered the phone and although she believed Mom, Pepere couldn’t believe it.

At that moment, the third plane hit the Pentagon. I could not believe it and rushed to tell Mom who was in the next room. “Mom, Mom, another plane just hit the Pentagon.”

“Turn on the TV, right now, Mom,” my mother said, her voice shaking even more, as she turned to look at the television. “Another plane just hit the Pentagon. TURN IT ON NOW.”

A family friend who lives in New Jersey worked in NYC. We couldn’t get a hold of him that day. Was his office nearby the World Trade Center?

And then the towers fell. Right before our eyes, on the television, they fell. It was surreal. It was awful. And I didn’t cry.

Where was our president? Would the White House be next?

Baby sitting in the sunshine of the afternoon. Sun still shone. How could the sun shine? How could the children still play space garbage outside? The door slammed, the baby cringed in his sleep at the noise and Dad spoke sharply to whoever it was who slammed the door. People stopped by to see the baby, but talked about the World Trade Center. Supper? I probably ate, but I don’t know what. I rocked the baby’s seat with my foot and journaled.

This is one of the most awful days of my life. This morning, a little before nine, a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. About ten minutes later, another airplane crashed into the second tower. …one of the towers collapsed. This was at about 10 AM…Twenty minutes later, the second tower literally crumbled. They said that possibly around 50 thousand people could be dead in and around the World Trade Center…Nobody expected an attack, not in this way. Nobody expected two planes to crash into the World Trade Center.

Little Nate didn’t even get a mention in my journal that day; I just couldn’t write it.

Our president, our president…not yet a year in office. He spoke and it was to every American.

This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.
Thank you. Good night, and God bless America.


Arabs dancing in the streets…dark skies lit up by bombs somewhere in the Middle East. “President Bush wouldn’t attack so quickly, would he?” I asked.

My dad shook his head.

Days afterwards, the skies were smoky and gray towards the direction of New York. “From New York,” my mother said quietly in reply to my query.

“This far?”

I didn’t cry.

The skies were quiet and it felt strange. Quiet…an unsettling quiet without peace. Not a single plane in the air.

One of the planes that hit the World Trade Center left Logan Airport in Boston, just two hours from our house by car.

Later I learned that that same plane probably changed course right above our area. Right above our town, perhaps.

A low-flying airplane was enough to make my chest tighten in the days following. I’m more used to it now, but now and then, now and then.

Flags everywhere. United we stand, we said. Americans were mad. They were shocked, stunned and would stand united together. We’ll never forget, we said.

I don’t think anyone who lived during 9/11 and was old enough to fully grasp the events of that day is going to forget.

Five years later, my baby brother is a little boy. After 9/11, several people commented how much of a blessing he must be to us, to have a baby, a thing of joy, during this time.

Natey is our 9/9/01 baby. Ninth child, on the ninth day of the ninth month. And two days older than 9/11.

And he is a joy, a blessing. Life in the midst of death. Hope. A comfort. There is nothing more comforting than a baby’s cuddle, his smile, his scent, even his tears.

And even though your biggest sissy is quiet today and will probably cry, happy birthday, Natey, my Spunkyboy. I love you.

Today, I cry.

- written September 9, 2006

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A quote for Wednesday

"There are those who say that life is like a book, with chapters for each event in your life and a limited number of pages on which you can spend your time. But I prefer to think that a book is like a life, particularly a good one, which is well worth staying up all night to finish."

~Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Today....

Is the first day.
Of the rest of my life.

From here on out I will make an extra effort to:
-Enjoy the little things
-Laugh when I want to scream
-Cry when I need to
-Smile at EVERYONE I meet
-Treat people
-Thank God for the blessings I don't see but I KNOW are there.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Where Fears Go

“Do you know where your fear goes?”

I smile over the counter at the bespectacled guest. He’s wearing a serious expression on his face; it matches his suit and tie perfectly.

“I’m sorry?” I ask, as I hand him directions to a nearby restaurant.

The guest is attending a convention on hypnotism at the hotel and has been staying in one of our guest rooms all week as well. He’s one of the most pleasant guests I’ve waited on today, but the most persistent in informing me about the benefits of hypnotism.

“When you aren’t afraid any more, after your fear goes away – where does it go?”

A line of guests has started to form behind the friendly hypnotist in front of me. As a guest services associate, I’m starting to get antsy at the sight. Queues are not good.

I can’t decide what to say. I shrug and smile apologetically. “I don’t know.”

He springs on this. “Don’t you want to know where it goes?”

A hundred thoughts troop through my mind, including, “Please, dear God, don’t let the people behind him yell at me again today.”

I say the first thing that pops into my head. “As long as it’s gone, I suppose I don’t really care.”

He raises an eyebrow at that, but I’m afraid we get no further in our conversation. I smile apologetically, as I tell him I’d see him later and motion the next guest to the counter at the same time.

I never did see him again. Not long enough to talk with him further.

As I think about that day, three years ago, I realize yet anew that I really don’t care where my fear goes, just so long as it is gone – but I do wish that I had thought quickly enough and had told the hypnotist that day that I did know where my fears went.

You see, I give my fears to God.

Simplistic (at least in theory), I know. But it’s true.

I give my fears to God. I really don’t care what He does with them. As long He has them, as long as He’s taking care of them, that’s all that I care about. I give them to Him, try to be brave on His strength and go from there.

Leaving the fears in His hands.

Now, to echo that friendly hypnotist, do you know where your fears go when you’re no longer afraid?

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Pressing on Toward the Goal


Philippians 3:12-16
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Did You Know?

  • The distance from a parent's crooked elbow to their eyes exactly matches the distance at which a baby focuses?

  • By 6 months of age.. infants in English speaking homes already have different auditory maps from those in Swedish speaking home.  Children are functionally deaf to sounds absent from their native tongue.  The map is completed by their first birthday.  By 12 months infants have lost the ability to discriminate sounds that are not significant to their language, and their babbling has acquired the sound of their language.

  • When a baby comes into the world their brain is a jumble of neurons, all waiting to be woven into the intricate tapestry of the mind... they are pure and of almost infinite potential... by adulthood the brain is crisscrossed with more than 100,000,000,000 (100 billion) neurons, each reaching out to thousands of others so that all told, the brains has more than 100,000,000,000,000 ( 100 trillion) connections.  It is those connections  - more than the number of galaxies in the known universe - that give the brain its unrivaled powers.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

What Does God See?


What Does God See?
Copyright ©by Deborah Teat
Reproduction prohibited without permission.

When people look upon my face,
What is it that they see?
A person who reflects the Lord,
Or a face of hypocrisy?
When wisdom I speak to those around me,
Is it pure, clean and true?
Does my life walk the words my lips say?
Do I promptly speak and do?
Do I point those I know to my Lord above?
Are their hearts filled with praise toward He?
Or do my actions, words and attitudes cause their focus to be on me?
What does God see when He looks on my heart?
Would He say "Well done my child, well done."?
Or would He strain to see even a glimpse of the likeness of His Son?
Is God first and foremost in my life?
Am I giving Him His rightful throne?
Or are there idols sitting upon the place that is His to claim alone?
Do I think God does not see all I do, He who rules from heaven's host?
O Lord, forgive my sin and deceit, and help me to love Thee
most!

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The pain in the heart

It’s been a rough couple of months. Not so much for me personally, though there have been moments, but for those around me. My friends, my online friends, my online acquaintances, friends of friends—it seems like everywhere I turn there’s someone hurting, someone who needs a hand.

In the face of so much pain, what can we do? Sometimes I feel utterly helpless, as if any words or actions on my part will seem trite and insincere. Sometimes I can only cry out, “Lord have mercy. Lord send us grace.” But there are things I can do. I can be a shoulder to cry on, someone to talk to. I can say what’s in my heart, even if it’s been said again and again. I can send surprise packages to those who least expect it. These things are little gestures. They won’t erase the sorrow. But if they can lighten it just a bit, then I will do what I can.

There are things I do believe. I believe that God has mercy, that He can heal the impossible. I believe that grace can be found in the worst situations.

I'd like to close with a prayer from my tradition of Christianity, Eastern Orthodoxy.

"Turn not away from the torrent of my tears, O Virgin, thou who didst give birth to Christ, who doth wipe away all tars from every face."

Supplicatory Canon to the Mother of God, Ninth Ode

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

More Wedding "Do's"

"Do" Have Gerber Daisies in bright summer-y colors.  Yummy.  Oh, and orange and fuschia?  Perfectly ok together.  Bonbon colors.  :-)

"DO" pair your gerber daisies with Wax Flower.  Because besides being adorable, they smell amazing.

"Do" have a big wedding party... because, you know, the more the merrier.

"Do" have a styrofoam cake.  It decorates up beautifully, is super cheap and doesn't melt in the heat or fall over at inopportune times.  You can serve sheet cakes instead... no one will ever know.  (P.S. One of these cakes is real for the ceremonial cake cutting... can you guess which one?)  I have to brag about the cake... because my sisters did an amazing job, don't you think? :-)

"Do" make sure the bride loves her flowers before the wedding.  Because we should take as many opportunities as possible to hold bridal bouquets.  It just feels good.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Dreams

I was a little girl alone in my little world who dreamed of a little home for me.
I played pretend between the trees, and fed my houseguests bark and leaves, and laughed in my pretty bed of green.

I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest swing.
I had a dream.

Long walks in the dark through woods grown behind the park, I asked God who I'm supposed to be.
The stars smiled down on me, God answered in silent reverie. I said a prayer and fell asleep.

- Priscilla Ahn, “Dream”


Dreaming comes easily for me. Dreaming is almost as natural as breathing. I suppose it comes like that for just about every little girl, for every woman. For me, as a writer, dreams are easily spun and hard to dissolve.

Dreams of a man who would capture my heart. Dreams of marrying young and a houseful of babies. Dreams of writing magnificent stories. Dreams of keeping a home. Dreams of sunshine, joy and grace. I certainly never dreamed of a desk in an office, of answering phones and making numbers match up neatly – numbers when math was never my forte! I never dreamed that I would be living at home yet still, much less sharing a small room with a sister. I never dreamed that words would still come difficult to me, that my fingers would stumble when dancing over the keys. I never dreamed…so very many things.

And so many dreams are still waiting unanswered. It’s true, God has replaced my dreams with wonderful things, with hard times that have borne fruit. And I’m still young. I still have plenty of time for dreaming.

Because, I still dream. I dream about a man who will capture my heart, about a little home of our own. Of children. Of that beautiful someday. I can’t help dreaming. But as I dream, I am learning that my dreams aren’t always God’s best for me. I’m learning to dream, but to also stop clinging to them.

After all, dreams are of tomorrows, but I have today. Today I am single. Today I work with numbers and answer phones, today I babysit my siblings and grit my teeth over the mess that comes from sharing a room with my sister, today I struggle with finding the words that don’t come easily. And as I live this life, I let God have my dreams – He knows them and knows best what to do with them.

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