Saturday, December 19, 2009

Er ist ein Ros entsprungen

What a marvelous time it is here in Graz.

We had our first two full orchestra rehearsals yesterday and I had the joy of experiencing the truth that music really is the universal language. *insert eye roll* We've calculated that htere are no fewer than 16 countries represented and over half do not speak German as their first language (myself included), but the rehearsals are run in German. Nonetheless, we've been able to make sense of the music and the musical instructions. I think it's going to be a success. It will, however, be exhausting. We will spend 16 days in China, in 7 cities, including one in Mongolia and will do 12 or 13 concerts with rehearsals before every performance.

After the two rehearsals yesterday, my brain was absolutely fried. I took one year of German my last year in college and I'm racking my brain trying to pick out words I understand and piecing them together. So far it's been okay. I've only needed help a few times and either Christian or Petra, the second flutist, has been able to help me. But by the end of it all, even though the rehearsals were good and my solos were appreciated, I was so tired. So so tired.

We were able to unwind with some of Christian's friends as they were doing a Christmas movie marathon all day today. We joined them during our lunch break between rehearsals and had the most delicious meal and then we met up with them again after our rehearsals to watch Home Alone 2 and The Nightmare Before Christmas. It was so nice to turn my brain off a little -- especially because the movies were in English. Christian's friends, I hate to say, have been the most pleasant surprise. All of them are so talented and gifted and friendly. They are funny and welcoming and ... have fun, really. It has been a real delight to spend time with them. And we've had a party every night we've been here. It doesn't allow for much rest, but it does make for lots of memories.

When we returned to the apartment, leaving the marathon a few movies early, the four of us staying here in Christian's room (Christian, Michael, Julie and me) sang some Christmas carols in four-part harmony. It was definitely outside of my comfort zone, but it was delightful because I know that non of them will judge me. They love me truly, and so I can make a fool of myself missing my leaps of a third on the lowly alto part, which I so enjoy. We're going to "perform" Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" at our Christmas dinner tonight with Christian's friends.

In honor of that, I leave you with a photo from yesterday, compliments of Michael's amazing photography and the first verse (in German) of "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen."

Prost! (Cheers!)

Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen, aus einer Wurzel zart,
Wie uns die Alten sungen, von Jesse kam die Art,

Und hat
ein Blumlein bracht mitten
im kalten Winter
Wohl zu der halben Nacht.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fix You

Here I am in Graz. In the kitchen. On Michael's computer, because mine has decided not to recognize the internet here. Fail. Graz, however, is a success. Yes!
The trip here was long, but went by quickly. The theme for the trip was "second try's a charm." Beautiful Jessica took me to the airport after a delightful stay with the Wilders. She took me to the terminal that was written on the ticket, but that, it turns out, was in fact not the terminal from which my flight was departing. So I lugged all my crap down through O'Hare and found the right terminal. Still ended up being about 45 minutes early for my flight. So I grabbed some Starbucks and watched the special airport news channel all about new airplanes coming out, the President's daily speech and a little Asian kid playing Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" on his ukulele and making up the words. His pitch is incredibly good. Look it up on YouTube.
Got to London fine. It was a smooth ride, full of movies -- Julie and Julia and Bolt and very little sleeping. I sat by a very large man, but it seems his heart was as big as his body. So that was okay.
When I got to London, I gathered my luggage at the Gatwick airport, got a bus to Heathrow and got off the bus at Terminal 5, which according to the woman at the desk, was the correct terminal. According to the airport, however, I needed Terminal 3. So I took a shuttle to Terminal 3 and of course went in at the opposite end of where my check-in desk was. By the time I arrived at the check-in, I was informed that I had to wait until 2 hours before my flight to check my bag. No problem. I sat down, read a book, almost fell asleep and THEN checked my bag before changing my money and continuing through security. No problems, except that my gate was still not assigned. So I sat in a big communal area and watched people, making up stories for them. I grabbed some Starbucks pasta salad and an iced chai. After first being forgotten about completely, I finally got my chai and was sorely disappointed by both the salad and the chai. The chai was made incorrectly and tasted terrible. It's a pretty difficult drink to mess up, but they did. The pasta salad was not delicious, but I figure it was also because I seem to have stopped eating recently. That's a different ball of wax.
Finally got on my flight, had a pleasant flight to Vienna ... not full, plenty of space, and fitfully slept. Probably making a fool of myself. Once in Vienna and having gathered my bags, I stumbled around trying to interpret signs and German to figure out how to get the train to Graz. I found some English speakers and they helped me out quite a bit. Except when it came down to it, they send me on the right train ... the wrong direction. Oops! I figured it out after a few stops and had to make up the time, except of course, I had nothing to do with that. So I rode it out, thinking I had an 8:30 train that would arrive in Graz at 10:30. The truth was, I was supposed to have an 8:00 train that arrived in Graz at 10:30. I missed it. So I had to take the 9:00 train and I thought I would arrive at 11:00, but in truth, I arrived at 11:30. I was a little concerned, but it turned out fine. Then we took a bus to Christian's place and here we are!
We had a party with Christian's roommate, neighbors and two of their friends and that was delightful. Sebastian is Christian's roommate, Oliver and Anna are his neighbors and Steffi and Lucas are their friends from Oliver's hometown in Austria. I also met Daniel, one of Christian's friends from church who came to visit, and arrived while I was napping. A little embarrassing, but I think this trip will be full of those, so I better knock my pride down from the beginning.
I think my German is better than I allow myself to think. I have been able to understand a little, but when I say "a little" I really mean a very little. Still, I consider it a feat. I'm pretty sure I'll learn and understand something if I just keep listening.
The food has been great. The fellowship has been wonderful. Julie just arrived and she and Michael are on their way out to a strings-only rehearsal (it's good to be an oboist). And I'm going to cut some vegetables to have ready for dinner tonight. More Strudel tonight followed by another Christmas party with a Christian fellowship with Phil and his roommate. Huzzah!

One of the most poignant moments for me thus far has been waiting for the bus to take me to Heathrow when Coldplay came up on my iPod. To hear Coldplay in the city where they're from was a good moment from me. It wasn't live, but it was something.

So in honor of that, today's song is the song I heard on my iPod.

Fix You

When you try your best, but you don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face
And I...

Tears stream down on your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face
And I...

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Chain

I've been listening to Ingrid Michaelson almost exclusively in recent days. I just seem to be in that mode, that mindset of bittersweet honesty. Plus her voice is incredible. The next few posts you see will probably reflect this.

I finished my novel on Monday. 50,055 words in a complete novel in 29 days. Officially declared a winner by Score! It was difficult. Not the most difficult thing I've ever done, but pretty intense. I learned some things from it I'm sure. But the first thing that comes to mind is

1. Writing a novel is difficult, but not impossible, even for a normal person like me.
2. When writers say their characters take on a life of their own, they're telling the truth. It really happened to me. I wouldn't know what I was going to type or what they were going to do, but then my fingers would start going and they would do and say things. It was marvelous and scary. And most of what came out was horrible, but as this is my first novel, I'm not that concerned about it. My friend Maggie pointed that out and it made me laugh. I said "It's complete crap." and she said "Well, it's your first novel." Like "Of course, it's just practice, you can't be good at everything the first time through." and implying that there will be other novels. I appreciated the reminder and encouragement.

That being said, I have started to think about other novels I want to right. One is a collection of modern-day Aesop's fables with one character consistent through all of them. Things like what to do once one has encountered the "blue screen of death" in computers or things like that. Mostly silly.
I also really want to write that novel about my family. I think it would be incredible.
So, I again open the invitation for anyone to join me on these ventures. Whether it's during actual Novel Writing month or outside of it.

And now with that being said, I received an email this morning from one of the official NaNoWriMo people about what to do from here and he emphasized the importance of continuing to write every day, as exercise, like practice as an athlete or musicians. You must continue to use your "writing muscles" if you want them to develop. So for the umpteenth time I'm going to promise to write in this blog more frequently, and I will probably fail at that again, but I will have good intentions.

So for today's installment of "Wibbles practices writing" I will tell the story of my Chicago audition a week ago.

The Grant Park Symphony Orchestra in Chicago, IL held auditions for principal oboe in Chicago on November 25th. The finals were on the 25th and the preliminaries, which they called semi-finals to make you feel better about the progress you had achieved by simply being granted an audition and showing up to it, were also on the 25th and the 24th if necessary. They were necessary. This means a lot of oboists auditioned for this one position. I had prepared for the audition fairly well, practicing almost consistently and always thoughtfully. I had a lesson with Betty Camus of the Cleveland Orchestra who gave me very good things to think about and tried to prepare me for the reality of auditioning -- this particular position has been open for the past several consecutive summers; that means this orchestra is not in the convenient habit of hiring the person who wins this audition ... expectations should be set low for the auditioner. Regardless, I decided I might actually have a chance to win the audition. After all, I was "qualified" ... my being granted an audition determined that, since "only qualified applicants need[ed] apply." Already that says something, right? About me? I'm qualified. Then I had good feedback from people who give good feedback only when warranted. I was feeling good. But as I started getting closer to the audition, I decided to lower my expectations a little more, so as not to disappoint myself too very much. I thought I'd settle for advancing to the finals, because that indeed seemed a reasonable goal. I went to Chicago early, because I have friends that I was staying with there, I like the city and it's the smart oboe thing to do ... so your reeds settle and adjust to the new climate, and if necessary you can make new ones. Let's get something straight: I don't make reeds ... I'm terrible at it (but that's not totally relevant). I practiced a few times while there. I hung out with my friends. I went to masterclasses of people I don't know and missed the portion with the person I did know. I did a trial audition for the people I was staying with because they're amazing musicians AND they love Jesus. Plus they are really good at Life. All of them. It's amazing. They've definitely been given more than their quota of awesome-at-life-ness. So I played for them and learned some important things ... I would NOT be playing the blue reed, and I had a problem starting my phrases. I'm fine once I get into them, it was just getting them started that was particularly problematic. Mrs. Awesome-at-Life helped me with this a little bit, coming up with some non-oboe theories which worked remarkably well for the oboe. Or for me, at least. But after I played for them, I lowered my expectations again, to not advancing, but merely playing as honestly and truly to myself as I could (which is probably actually raising my expectations, even though it feels like a compromise to the human musician in me). Then they prayed for me and I went to bed. I laid there for a little while, thinking about my scarf in the other room. That conversation with myself went a little something like this.

"My scarf is in the other room, where son-of-Mrs.-Awesome-at-Life is sleeping. That means I can't get it in the morning and I really want to wear it to my audition. Son is still awake right now, I could go get it. But if I did that, I would have to get out of bed. That is both cold, inconvenient and awkward, as I'm in a sleeping bag which makes a lot of noise when you move, and it is not easy to get out of. Maybe I can just sneakily get it in the morning when I leave. No, that would be rude and awkward, especially if Son were to wake up. It would all be over. I should get it now, it would only take a second and then I'd be on my way to sound sleep, which I need since I have to get up so early. No. I'll just leave it. I won't need it. I'll be fine, really. Okay."

Then somewhere after that I fell asleep finally. And I slept VERY soundly. My alarm went off and I only snoozed once, I think, before getting up nearly-obscenely early to shower and prepare for the audition. Everything there went fine. I returned to my bed to discover a text message from my coworker telling me she was praying for me and wishing me good luck. That was the beginning of God using every tool in his arsenal to tell me He loved me. I'm not even going to tell you all of what He did. But suffice it to say ... it was awesome. Definitely the best part of the day. Mrs. Awesome-at-Life took me to the train station with some hot tea in hand and there I waited ... a little longer than I was planning, because apparently I misread the train schedule. Then I got sad. Then I said "I left myself plenty of time and I can't do anything about it anymore." And I relaxed and listened to my iPod, going over one of my most beautiful excerpts to prepare and enjoying my hot tea.

Okay, this has gotten too long. I'll just bullet point the rest of the experience. (Today's lesson in writing: don't spend too long in establishing the setting.)

-- I got to the train station and almost walked the wrong direction, but because the crossing signs worked better to walk a different direction, I went that way -- totally God's providence and hand of direction -- literal direction.

-- I got a text message from my coworker again saying that they would still love me even if I got scared and threw up in my oboe. I laughed out loud.

-- When I got to the park, I didn't see a soul except a Hispanic groundskeeper who clearly didn't speak much English. I didn't know which door to go in and didn't want to dig in my bag for the paper, so I asked her. The conversation went like this:

me: "Hello. Do you work here?"
Hispanic Groundskeeper: "Yes."
[sweep, sweep]
me: "Do you know if there are auditions here today?"
HGk: "Yes."
me: "Which door do I need to go in for the auditions?"
HGk: "Yes."
me: "Ow-dish-eons. Today?"
HGk: "Now?"
me: "Yes! *point to building* which door? *make motions like opening a door*"
HGk: "This door unlocked probably."
[Leads me to a door. The door's locked.]
HGk: "I let you in."
[Takes key ... still on lanyard around her neck ... unlocks door and lets me in.]
Elated me: "Thank you so much! Have a good day!"

-- Then an almost angry tech guy gets mad at me for using the wrong door, but points to me where I need to go.

-- I check in and am assigned number 31. I look at the list of people for the day. I have heard of a handful, but not most. The day begins with number 24. That means there were 23 people who auditioned the previous day. I notice my friend Lindsay is supposed to audition as well. I figure it's over for me. That's fine, I've already re-established my expectations. Honesty. Honesty. Quality. Then I say to God. "Just don't let me be fine or mediocre. Make me extraordinary. Whether extraordinarily bad or extraordinarily good, just let it be extraordinary." He laughs.

-- I enter the group warm-up room. It's very quiet, except a few girls talking who already know each other.

-- I get some of my stuff out, but I can't decide how I want to do it. I get more texts messages from friends encouraging me. I tweet constantly because I'm bored and nervous. I've given up listening to my playlist of excerpts and opt for the playlist of songs I like and that make me happy "Go Time" it's called on my iPod. I start smiling and almost laughing out loud. Definitely bopping my head.

-- I look around at the room and see the other very oboey oboists and decide I don't want to be anything like them. I want to be me.

--I realize my identity is not in any way based or even associated with this audition and its results. Neither is my love of music. I am relaxed and ready.

-- I go to the audition private warm-up room. Everything sounds pretty good. I go to the pre-audition private warm-up room. Standby, I guess, where I learn the final audition list. I am sad. I have to play Brahms Violin Concerto. Of course.

-- I audition. It's fine. But I literally chuckle out loud when I walk into the very nice bandroom. In the middle of the giant room is a box of velvet curtains. I am not behind a screen, the panel is. They have boxed themselves in, in the middle of the room, by black velvet curtains all the way around. It's very funny looking. I laugh and relax. The audition is fine. Very honest to my playing. I am pleased. Although it was neither extraordinarily bad nor good ... that's a little disappointing, but the truth is I'd rather be honest and fine than extraordinarily bad -- because I can be proud of that in a good way, I don't have to settle for joking about how bad it was and "learning the hard way."

-- No one in my hour of auditions advances. Not surprised, but a little disappointed, I head back.

-- I have a marvelous experience in Starbucks on Madison Ave.

-- A homeless man gives me directions to the proper train station (because I tried to go into Union Station which is clearly unoperational as the woman on the recording keeps saying something that doesn't make any sense over and over again like "track 6. track 6. track 6.) he wants me to give him money. I only have a $5 and he's not going to get it. I instead give him the Cranberry Bliss Bar that I had gotten to celebrate my audition.

-- I find I have to wait 50 minutes for the next train back to where I'm going, so I get a mediocre bagel and enjoy my Italo Calvino book while watching people in the train station. One woman is either very angry or has terrets as she walks around cursing under her breath.

-- I get on the train. Have a marvelous ride back to my stop. Mrs. Awesome-at-Life picks me up and takes me back to the house. I prepare to stay for a few more hours waiting for Son to get home so I can say goodbye.

-- Son comes home a few hours early, because he decides to skip class ... since his teacher basically told him to ... Son comes in about ten minutes after Mrs. Awesome and I return.

-- I pack up and go home. Well pleased.

The best joke I got from God: I was walking to my private warm-up room and on my "Go Time" playlist comes the Queen song "Under Pressure." Never a more perfect time. Yes!

Sorry this is too long! But I enjoyed writing it!

The Chain
Ingrid Michaelson

The sky looks pissed
The wind talks back
My bones are shifting in my skin
And you, my love, are gone

My room seems wrong
The bed won't fit
I cannot seem to operate
And you, my love, are gone

So glide away on soapy heels
And promise not to promise anymore
And if you come around again
Then I will take, then I will take
The chain from off the door

I'll never say
"I'll never love"
But I don't say a lot of things
And you, my love, are gone

So glide away on soapy heels
And promise not to promise anymore
And if you come around again
Then I will take the chain from off the door

[begin really amazing section of round/looped recording with building instrumentation]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Colin's Beautiful World

I'm listening to last week's "This American Life" so this might be a little disjunct. Sorry.

Yet again. I'm like a broken record. There's been so much I've wanted to put on here, but generally it's while I'm driving, so of course, it doesn't make it. Because I can't type and drive at the same time. It's crazy, I know.


1. I love my family. Even when they drive me crazy. Seriously, they're great. Hilarious.

I'm writing this novel. I'm over 28,000 words. I want to start over and write a novel about my family instead. They're classic characters. Seriously. It would be true, but it would sound like fiction. Maybe it'll be the novel I write the other 11 months of the year. We'll see.

2. I had an audition in Chicago for the Grant Park Symphony. It was incredible. Soon I'm going to tell you all about it.

3. I'm re-reading The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning. It's so good. Better now than when I read it the first time. I must be at a good point, ready for it.

4. What I really wanted to write about was ... if my life were a movie ... what would the soundtrack be. And I want to know about your lives too. So respond in the comments.

If your life were a movie, what would the soundtrack be?

This will be an ongoing project. Clearly, since my life is not yet over.
So far I've got these.

1. Jimmy Buffett -- Little Miss Magic

?. Snow Patrol -- Open Your Eyes

?+-. Willie Nelson -- On the Road Again

?+. Ingrid Michaelson -- Far Away

I know, very thorough. Those question marks mean I don't know what number they'd be on the soundtrack because I don't know how many songs would be in between.

So tell me. Yours? Two projects, okay, Three:
1. Read The Furious Longing of God
2. What's the soundtrack of your life
3. What's the soundtrack of your life right now, just at this stage of your life?

Beautiful World
Colin Hay

My my my, it's a beautiful world
I like swimming in the sea
I like to go out beyond the white breakers
Where a man can still be free
(Or a woman if you are one)
I like swimming in the sea

My my my, it's a beautiful world
I like drinking Irish tea
With a little bit of Lapsang Souchongi
I like making my own tea

My my my, it's a beautiful world
I like driving in my car
I roll the top down
Sometimes I travel quite far
Drive to the ocean
And stare up at the stars
I like driving in my car

All around is anger
Automatic guns
There's death in large numbers
No respect for women
Or our little ones

I tried talking to Jesus
But He just put me on hold
Said He'd been swamped by calls this week
And He could not shake His cold

But still this emptiness persists
Perhaps this is as good as it gets
When you've given up the drink
And those nasty cigarettes
Now I leave the party early
At least with no regrets
I watch the sun when it comes up
I watch it as it sets
Yeah this is as good as it gets

My my my, it's a beautiful world
I like sleeping with Marie
she is one sexy girl
Full of mystery
She says she doesn't love me
But she likes my company
For now that's good enough for me

My my my, it's a beautiful world
I like swimming in the sea
I like to go out beyond the white breakers
Where a man can still be free
(Or a woman if you are one)
I like swimming in the sea


Tuesday, November 17, 2009


"You have a responsibility to God to learn the desires of your heart."
--Pauliina Pölönen

It's on an orange star-shaped post-it note on my laptop wrist area. I have been thinking of it constantly. Here is what I think I know so far, tonight in no intentional order:

1. I want to live a comfortable life.
I know a lot of pastors, like John Piper, speak against living a merely comfortable life. And it's not that I want only to live a comfortable life in beautiful oblivion. I want to contribute and invest in the lives of the people around me. I don't mind necessarily relational or emotional discomfort. But I would like to be financially comfortable. I would like to live in a nice house. I would like a nice car. I would like to be able to eat well, and eat smart ... locally, fewer preservatives, which is more expensive ... I do not want to worry about bills. Now, I realize that worry is a choice to a certain extent, but for regular colloquial language ... I don't want to worry. I want a comfortable, but relevant, life.

2. I want to play in an orchestra.
I used to say I only wanted to play second oboe. But that's not necessarily true anymore. I would not mind being principal so much, I think. Not from an egotistical standpoint of wanting power and solos, etc. Yes, I do want to play the solos, because I think I can contribute something by my playing of them. I can say something with them, that maybe someone else's soul needs to hear. Not because I'm great, but because God has blessed me and music speaks to me, and if it speaks to me, then surely it speaks to someone else, right?

3. I want to be seen.
You know those looks that the hero always gives the heroine at some point in just about every movie? I want to be on the receiving ends of one of those looks. I want to be seen and loved. I want for someone, someone still walking on this Earth, to look at me and see my heart, and my value, and to treasure them.

4. I want to be known.
I would like for people I respect in the music world to know me and respect me. I would like to be the caliber of musician for people to recommend me as a coach, or a colleague, or a substitute musician. I would like people to talk about my solos.

I am not particularly proud of these things I've said. But they're honest. They're where I am right now.
Do the desires of our heart change as we grow? Or are there one or two constant things that run as a continual theme of desire throughout our life and those are our true desires?
I don't know. But this is what I have come up with so far. And if I type it out maybe I can process it better.

Ryan Adams

Two hearts fading
Like a flower
And all this waiting
For the power
For some answer
To this fire
Sinking slowly
The water's higher

With no secrets
No obsession
This time I'm speeding
With no direction
Without a reason
What is this fire
Burning slowly
My one and only

*harmonica solo*

You know me
You don't mind waiting
You just can't show me
But God I'm praying
That You'll find me
That You'll see me
That You'll run and
Never tire

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hymn #101

Okay, so. Since the LORD told me over this summer that I will be single until I'm thirty. And now that I've accepted this to be truth, it has occurred to me that maybe I should begin to think about starting to answer the inevitable follow-up question which is, of course ...

"What do I do until then?"

I don't know. I haven't really any idea how God wants to use me in the course of these next five years, or so. Why is He keeping me this way until then? For what purpose?

Writing my novel. I've gotten to approximately 6,299 words. Still a few thousand behind where the daily average should be, but it's going well. Today was a little difficult ... I got words in, but I'm not sure they make sense. Previous days have been fun adventures learning things about these characters. I scoffed at people who said they take on a life of their own ... but it's true! I don't know these people at all ... they're surprising me. And yet, I know them intimately because each one of them has parts of me -- for better or for worse. Maybe God feels a little bit this way ... only whatever part of us is part of Him is for better ... never for worse.

Also. Ponder this:
"You have a responsibility to God to learn the desires of your heart."

My friend Pauliina said that. Well, skyped that. Typed that. And even then, I KNOW it was Jesus through her fingers.

I guess that statement is the beginning of the answer to the question I posed earlier. If I learn the desires of my heart, that just may lead me to my purpose in the next five years.

Either way, I think it's an awesome thought and I'm enjoying just enjoying the thought ... not even completely working it out, yet. I know things will get worked out as they should. No worries.

Check out this next song. It can be found on YouTube. It's great!

Hymn #101
Joe Pug

And I've come to know the wish list of my father
I've come to know the shipwrecks where he's been
I've come to wish allow
Among the overdressed crowd
Come to witness now the sinking of this ship
Throwing pennies from the sea top next to it

And I've come to roam the forest
Past the village
With a dozen lazy horses in my cart
I've come here to get high
To do more than just get by
I've come to test the timber of my heart
Oh I've come to test the timber of my heart

And I've come
To be untroubled in my seeking
And I've come
To see that nothing is for not
I've come to reach out blind
To reach forward and behind
For the more I seek
The more I'm sought
Yea the more I seek
The more I'm sought

And I've come to meet the sheriff
And his posse
To offer him the broad side of my jaw
I've come here to get broke
And maybe bum a smoke
We'll go drinking two towns over after all
Oh we'll go drinking two towns over after all

And I've come to meet the legendary takers
I've only come to ask them for a lot
Aw they say I come with less
Than I should rightfully possess
I say: The more I buy
The more I'm bought
And the more I'm bought
The less I cost

And I've come
To take their servants and their surplus
And I've come
To take their rain coats and their speed
I've come to get my fill
To ransack and spill
I've come to take the harvest for the seed
I've come to take the harvest for the seed

And I've come to know the manger you sleep in
I've come to be the stranger that you keep
I've come from down the road
And my footsteps never slowed
Before we met I knew we'd meet
Before we met I knew we'd meet

And I've come here to ignore you cries and heartaches
I've come to closely listen to you sing
I've come here to insist
That I leave here with a kiss
I've come to say exactly what I mean
And I mean so many things

And you've come
To know me stubborn as a bitcher
And you've come
To know me thankless as a guest
But will you recognize my face
When God's awful grace
Strips me of my jacket and my vest
And reveals all the treasure in my chest.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I am not writing this to garner sympathy and encouragement.
Tonight I feel like I am a complete failure at ... life. No. At being a child. I am failing at living in community. I am failing at loving my parents. I am failing at thinking of other people above/before myself. I have failed. Yes. I am a failure. No. I am failing. Yes.

Today was my parents' 40th wedding anniversary. They're still married. That's a big deal. A really really big deal. Do you know when I saw them? About five minutes ago when I got home and peeked my head in the door of their room ... don't worry, I knocked and checked first. They were both konked out. I told them "Happy Anniversary" anyway. I am one of their children and I DIDN'T EVEN SEE THEM ON THEIR FORTIETH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY!

They give and they give. And I take and I take and I ask for more. I know that's what parent's are supposed to do. But at some point, their children are also supposed to grow up and give back to them.

I am a living testament to their marriage, to their love for each other, to their commitment to each other. I know they were married before I was born. They had lives before me and they have lives after me, but still. I am a product of their marriage and I wasn't even there to celebrate that with them. Not even because I am out of town or anything like that. Just because my personal schedule didn't allow it because I didn't make it allow it.

I am really bad at this. I know we all are, but. Man. I blew it today. And I regret it. I was so productive and so proud of myself until I realized it was their anniversary. Their 40th. And I wasn't there.

Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs

Pack up
I'm straight
Oh, say say say
Oh, say say say
Oh, say say say
Oh, say say say
Oh, say say say

Wait, they don't love you like i love you
Wait, they don't love you like i love you
Ma-a-a-a-ps, wait!
They don't love you like i love you...

Made off
Don't stray
My kind's your kind
I'll stay the same

Pack up
Don't stray
Oh, say say say
Oh, say say say

Wait! they don't love you like i love you
Wait! they don't love you like i love you
Ma-a-a-aps, wait!
They don't love you like i love you...
Wait! they don't love you like i love you
Ma-a-a-aps, wait!
They don't love you like i love you...

Wait, they don't love you like i love you
Wait, they don't love you like i love you
Ma-a-a-a-ps, wait!
They don't love you like i love you...
Wait, they don't love you like i love you
Ma-a-a-a-ps, wait!
They don't love you like i love you...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Strawberry Swing

I saw the Chicago Symphony perform Brahms' Eine Deutsche Requiem tonight with Riccardo Muti in Chicago. It was really a very beautiful and thoughtful performance. It made me think a lot. I could tell the musicians were thinking a lot, had thought a lot. I did feel that the CSO suffered a little bit from the same thing many American orchestras seem to have trouble with, which is ... thinking too much. It seems American orchestras tend to aim for, and achieve, technically perfect concerts. Every note is placed precisely where it ought to be, with exactly the correct emphasis. Everything is right. But they seem to sacrifice a certain amount of passion and humanity. And the Brahms' Requiem. I mean, come on, it's a Requiem. It's about dead people. About death. Humanity is essential. But the point of this post is not to talk about the faults of the Chicago Symphony. As if I could even dream of doing that.
As everything in this world should be, this post is about me. (Please, note my sarcasm.) But seriously. During the first movement of the Requiem, what kept going through my mind was 1 Corinthians 13. If I am the best musician on stage, but I have not Love ... I am nothing. I am worthless. I am an out-of-tune piano. (That just reminded me of Rob Bell's Nooma video called "Rhythm." Check it out if you can.)
I want to play in an orchestra. I want to play in the Chicago Symphony. But I would choose an orchestra that plays with passion, that remembers they love music, that puts themselves on the line for their audience members over one that is known and well-respected and technically perfect. I want to take risks musically ... even though I don't in my own practice. But I want to start. I would rather be in a passionate ensemble than a perfect one. Maybe I would join an ensemble who has forgotten the music, in order to help them remember. Maybe this is precisely why I'm in the Halo Ensemble (which is what I'm doing in Chicago in the first place, right now.)
I also thought that there is no reason on Earth why I shouldn't be in an orchestra. A Good one even. Maybe more on that later. For now. A song. By Coldplay. And bedtime. Finally.

Strawberry Swing

They were sitting, they were sitting in the strawberry swing
And every moment was so precious

They were sitting, they were talking in the strawberry swing
And everybody was for fighting
Wouldn't wanna waste a thing

Cold, cold water bring me 'round
Now my feet won't touch the ground
Cold, cold water
What you say?
It's such, it's such a perfect day
It's such a perfect day

I remember we were walking up to strawberry swing
I can't wait 'til the morning
Wouldn't wanna change a thing
People moving all the time
Inside a perfect straight line
Don't you wanna curve away
It's such it's such a perfect day
It's such a perfect day


Now the sky could be blue
I don't mind
Without you its a waste of time
...could be blue I don't mind, without you it's a waste of time
The sky could be blue, could be gray without you I just slide away
The sky could be blue, I don't mind, without you it's a waste of time

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Funny Valentine

Okay, I just have to say this, because it's really bothered me all day.

I was at work today and a regular customer came in. He was on his phone and made me wait to take his order, but that's not really a problem, because I should remember his order anyway ... it just adds to his character. So we get his latte ready and he makes sure that all three of the women on the floor are paying attention to what he's about to tell us, which is this:
There is apparently a new coffee shop chain in Seattle (and Vegas as well) where the baristas are in bikinis and the drive-thru offers a "full-view." Apparently the tips went from $70/day at an average coffee shop to $700/day. My favorite part was when he told us some of the women were "really falling out of their tops. You know, like when the underneath part starts to show." Yes, sir, I'm aware. And not surprised. My poor, like-minded, conservative Christian co-worker tried to have a rational conversation with him and said "well, I'm sure they're much more ..." looking for the word "particular," and the man pipes in with "voluptuous." Thank you, sir. Thank you very much. I thought I was priceless, but apparently not, apparently my body is worth $700/day, or maybe mine is only worth $70 because I don't work at that coffee shop. Because I wear long sleeves instead. Dear goodness. I see your lips moving, sir, but
what I'm hearing is "I'm a dirty old man."

Yes, it's true. This particular man was pretty scummy today. But he's only a symptom of a very very VERY big problem. Pornography, this whole mindset of lust, and the flesh ... this is a big deal. I wanted to say to this man "Sir, no woman wants to be paid for her body. She wants to be loved and desired, yes. But she doesn't want this job. That is not fulfilling. But, people pay to see them. That's why they do it. Because people like you will pay them. And they need money, and it gets attention. When you stop buying, they will stop selling themselves and find real Life. If you want to see a woman's body, get married." But at the same time, there is something terribly wrong to make this man think this way, that it's okay to look at a woman - a woman not his wife - that way, that it's fulfilling and acceptable.

I have heard so many sermons about pornography, and I've heard important people in my life talk about their own struggles with it. And I have my suspicions of how close to home it has also struck, but until today, something about it seemed very distant. We have a few creepy customers, and I've dealt with unsavory characters every now and again. That's nothing new, but something about the way this man spoke about this coffee shop, and these women. Like we were all going to drop out pitchers right that second and move to Seattle so we could show off our bodies and make $700/ he was doing us a service telling us about this shop ... and he was so proud of the founders of it, the women who worked there and himself for having heard of it. And all those truths I've heard over and over again ... they became a little more real.

On a happier note, I've decided what my approach for my novel that I'm writing in November is going to be. If you have any suggestions for paintings I should look into, any that you think might have really great stories hiding in them, please let me know. And if you want to write a novel ... ... hnwible ... be my writing buddy? Okay, awesome!

My Funny Valentine
Joshua Bell & Kristin Chenoweth

My funny valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Yet youre my favourite work of art

Is your figure less than greek
Is your mouth a little weak
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?

But dont change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little valentine stay
Each day is valentines day

Is your figure less than greek
Is your mouth a little weak
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?

But dont you change one hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little valentine stay
Each day is valentines day

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sibelius Symphony No. 5

Jesus brought me boy scouts.

Let me explain. This weekend, I was driving to work and I saw a boy and his dad loading up a red wagon with stuff, clearly from a school sale, for the neighbors. And I said "God, why don't the boy scouts ever come to MY house? I want to support them." Because I've come to realize that adults aren't actually scary. And that they actually really want to buy the stuff from the kids, to support them and encourage them, because they themselves still see themselves as kids a bit. I did not think this when I was a child. I thought adults were scary and definitely my enemies; they didn't want to buy my peanuts or popcorn, they didn't care about the cookies. But that's wrong! So I wanted these kids to come to my door, so I could let them know adults are okay, buy purchasing some popcorn.
Yesterday evening, I was writing an email to a friend and say a pack of people running up the walk to the door. And I did say to myself at first "ho, boy. I don't want anything from these kids. Can't they just leave me alone?" Then I thought ... "Wait! I wanted this to happen. I asked God for these kids. Alright. I'll buy something cheap." So this cute little boy, whose dad goes to my parent's church, or my Starbucks or something, came to the door and said. "HI. MY NAME IS TREVOR. I'M A BOY SCOUT IN TROOP 70 (at this point his older brother joined in unison). WOULD YOU LIKE TO BUY SOME POPCORN?" And I said "I would LOVE to buy some popcorn, Trevor!"

Listen to the fourth movement of Sibelius' Symphony No. 5

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nothing But The Blood

While preparing for communion today and reflecting on the meaning of world communion Sunday, I thought of all the saints around the world gathering at one table. I remembered the dinner at the mökki on Pauliina's birthday. Heaven will be like that. But the table will be longer, the laughter will be louder, and the tears will be more. Today, that day, were just previews.

Worship was particularly unifying this morning. It was marvelous. Words can't really grasp it. We sang this hymn today and Cliff had so much fun singing it, pausing in some places, speeding up in others, etc. etc. And we went all right along with him. It really felt like we were all being worship leaders, the people on the stage part of the circle just happened to have instruments and microphones. As it should be, I think. Community was good today.

Nothing but the Blood

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! Precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow
No other fount I know
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
For my cleansing, this my plea
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
Naught of good that I have done
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my hope and peace
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
This is all my righteousness
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Now by this I'll overcome
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Now by this I'll reach my home
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Glory! Glory! This I sing
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
All my praise for this I bring,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Love You 'Till The End

It's true, wherever I've recently been is where I want to live. I wonder why that is. The world has so much magic in it. It's true, I believe in magic. My friend Andrew used to call computers magic because he didn't understand them. Andrew is a very smart person. VERY smart, but I somehow have always admired that he didn't put forth the effort to learn about computers. He just accepted them as magic. When he pushed a button, they turned on. Like magic.

I'm watching P.S. I Love You right now. I don't have the strength to turn it on. Or to not cry. This movie is so good. I don't care what you say. I don't have to justify it. It's good. Sorry 'bout you. You're probably not even arguing with me. But whatever.

Wherever I am, I just want to be home. And the footage of Ireland just came up. I miss it.
I don't really know why I miss it. I remember being really ready to come home when it was time to. I remember not liking being alone. But right now, I'd give almost anything to be back there again. Something about it just fits in my heart. Maybe because it was my first adventure on my own. Completely. On. My. Own. Me. And God. Just us. And I suppose, thus will my life be until I'm thirty.

Love You 'Till The End
The Pogues

I just want to see you
When youre all alone
I just want to catch you if I can
I just want to be there
When the morning light explodes
On your face it radiates
I cant escape
I love you till the end

I just want to tell you nothing
You dont want to hear
All I want is for you to say
Why dont you just take me
Where Ive never been before
I know you want to hear me
Catch my breath
I love you till the end

I just want to be there
When were caught in the rain
I just want to see you laugh not cry
I just want to feel you
When the night puts on its cloak
Im lost for words dont tell me
All I can say
I love you till the end

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Sweater Song (Undone)

It is officially sweater weather!
I drove through northern Ohio and Indiana today. It was so so so amazing. I want to, one of these days coming up soon, drive around some Indiana backroads, maybe with my mom's camera, and take pictures of Indiana in the fall. It's absolutely unbelievable. Harvest time is the best time. Well, anytime is a good time in Indiana. But harvest time is particularly special. Especially when listening to Blackbird as done by Time for Three. Check it out. Seriously.
But it honor of the arrival of sweater weather, I have chosen a classic by Weezer. The Sweater Song. Listen to it loud, in the car.

The Sweater Song

Ah me
I am
I can
Sing and
Hear me
Know me

If you want to destroy my sweater
Pull this thread as I walk away

Oh no
It go
It gone
Bye-Bye (Bye!)
Do I
I think
I sink
and I die

If you want to destroy my sweater
Pull this thread as I walk away (as I walk away)
Watch me unravel i'll soon be naked
Lying on the floor, lying on the floor
I've come undone

If you want to destroy my sweater
Pull this thread as I walk away
Watch me unravel i'll soon be naked
Lying on the floor, lying on the floor
Ive come undone

I don't want to destroy your tank-top
Let's be friends and just walk away
Hate to see you lyin' there in your Superman skivvies
Lying on the floor, I've come undone

Friday, September 25, 2009

Washed by the Water

Sorry this one is so long.

I had a rather delightful day today, really. Fairly productive. I stayed up very late last night just chatting with Bobby, remembering things about MasterWorks of the past … distant and not-so. Reminiscing about the trip with Halo and processing life post-Halo. Then I woke up at a fairly reasonable hour and went for a little jaunt around Little Italy. Half jogging, half walking. Sat on the balcony for a little while, took a shower, read some more of War & Peace … I’m almost finished!! Then I went grocery shopping for a couple hours … seriously … it takes a long time to get places and find things if you’re not used to the roads or the grocery set-ups. Then I spent a few hours in the kitchen getting dinner ready and failing at making a dessert, no big deal ... I learned about what sugar does if the stove is too hot, at least.
Dinner was pasta salad, apricot chicken and mashed potatoes. And I have to say it was quite a success! Hooray!!! Then I helped Andrew and Erica paint their attic in preparation of an exchange coming to live with them for a few months.
All in all, very lovely.

While I was painting with Andrew and Erica we were talking about life and God and plans, etc. Andrew pointed out that my blogs sound a little melancholy, which I thought was a nice way of saying that, and I reckon they do sound a little that way. Which is somewhat true, I mean, I am struggling a little with the home life mental attitude (mentittude). But all in all, really life is good. There are great things happening in my life. And I am surrounded by beautiful people, the frustration becomes that I can’t spend the kind of time I’d like to with all of them, because there just isn’t that much time, or our schedules don’t line up, or what-have-you. So really, to have the problem of too many people to invest in, is not such a bad problem to have. It threw me off a little when he pointed that out, because I’m not typically a melancholy person, though I have times marked by that mood … and I don’t always mind them. So I was thinking about why my blogs sound that way … and maybe part of it is, it seems more interesting to read someone’s blog who is struggling. I don’t know why, but a thought in my head says “who wants to read someone’s blog if they’re happy all the time?” But that’s totally untrue! Two women who have the most beautiful joyful spirits I’ve ever seen have blogs that I read and that are good and have deep thoughts and they are still striving, but they aren’t cynical or melancholy. Not that it’s bad to be those things sometimes, but … let’s be honest … cynicism is not a fruit of the spirit … but Joy is.

I’m not saying I’m necessarily going to change my blog posts from now on and only be happy. They probably will be somewhat melancholy for a time, until I have had more certainty from the Lord as to where I should be and what I should be doing. Or whatever. I may just be in this funk for a little while, but recognizing may help to bring me out of it … thanks Andrew.

I have also recently noticed a pattern in my life linking melancholy/depression and my nutrition. I know that there really is something to that … that certain fruits help to increase your feel-good hormones, etc. etc. And in general, being nourished leads to a better mental life. It makes sense, right. Everything affects everything else … as Rob Bell says, “everything is spiritual.” So this happened when I was in Ireland, too. I kept trying foods and spending money on foods that I would eat two or three bites of and not be able to finish. I didn’t like the texture or the flavor, or something would be off and I couldn’t finish. At one point it was so bad, I tried to choke it down … literally … to the point that I was in tears over it and paid my bill and went back to the bed & breakfast and took a bath. Praise the Lord it was the one night I allowed myself to not stay in a hostel when one was available. The bath helped me relax and settle a bit ... could not have happened in the hostel. And something similar happened here in Cleveland just the other day. I wanted a bagel, but I ordered something I didn’t want. I tried to eat it, and I just couldn’t bear the thought of it, so I took all the toppings off, ate only the bagel and threw everything else out. Almost swearing not to eat anything else for the rest of the day to make up for the $7 I spent on food I didn’t eat. Isn’t that ridiculous?! So last night I had burger king (not that that’s healthy, but I ate at least … and something’s better than nothing, unless you’re intentionally fasting). And tonight I had a delicious and nutritious meal. I’m not sure which comes first, the depression or the appetite issue or what starts them, but at least I can recognize them as being linked. That’s a start, right?

This song came on the radio while I was driving to Andrew and Erica’s. And I thought “I know this song, I know it. What is it?!” When they said who it was by, I remembered that I bought this album solely for this song and I have been listening to it lately, but not far enough to hear this song, so I completely forgot this song was even on it! It was a good reminder. I needed it.

Washed by the Water

Daddy was a preacher
She was his wife
Just trying to make the world a little better
You know, shine a light

People started talking
Just to hear their own voice
Those people try to accuse my father
Said he made the wrong choice

Though it might be painful
You know that time will always tell
Your people have long since gone
My father never failed

Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water

Even when the ground crumbles under my feet
Even when the ones I love turn around and crucify me
I won’t ever ever let you down
I won’t go, I won’t go, I won’t fall as long as you’re around me

Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I had a strange experience today. I was going to say "the weirdest" but there are probably weirder experiences.

I continually forgot that I am in America where people speak English. Including myself.
The following are the potential reasons for this:
*I am crazy.
*I have been thinking about Finland a lot.
*I am currently in Little Italy in Cleveland, Ohio.
*I am in Ohio, staying with friends, and therefore not at home; thus, given my recent history and previous experiences, I must be in a foreign country.

Yup. It was strange. I told no one of this. Now I am sitting on the porch of the guys house, on a WAY too sketchy couch. Delicious.


His goal in life was to be an echo
Riding alone, town after town, toll after toll
A fixed bayonet through the great southwest to forget her

She appears in his dreams
But in his car and in his arms
A dream can mean anything
A cheap sunset on a television set can upset her
But he never could

Remember to remember me
Standing still in your past
Floating fast like a hummingbird

His goal in life was to be an echo
The type of sound that floats around and then back down
Like a feather
But in the deep chrome canyons of the loudest Manhattans
No one could hear him
Or anything

So he slept on a mountain
In a sleeping bag underneath the stars
He would lie awake and count them
And the gray fountain spray of the great Milky Way
Would never let him
Die alone

Remember to remember me
Standing still in your past
Floating fast like a hummingbird

Remember to remember me
Standing still in your past
Floating fast like a hummingbird

A hummingbird

Sunday, September 20, 2009


The coolest thing happened during church this morning ...
I felt the Lord's presence ...
... just the same as I felt Him in Vivamo.

The Lord is the same, yesterday, today and forever ... then and now ... there and here

And His people are His people ... each one beautifully and wonderfully made, fully unique and completely loved, but His people still the same, carrying His image ...

I know in my head that God is the same, but today my heart knew it as well. And it was amazing. And comforting.

*deep sigh*

Happy birthday to Caleb Pallavicini born today down in North Carolina to beautiful Laura and Chris!

John Mayer

Is working against me
And gravity
Wants to bring me down

Oh I'll never know
What makes this man
With all the love
That his heart can stand
Dream of ways
To throw it all away

Whoa, gravity
Is working against me
And gravity
Wants to bring me down

Oh twice as much
Ain't twice as good
And can't sustain
Like one-half could
It's wanting more
That's gonna' send me to my knees

Oh twice as much
Ain't twice as good
And can't sustain
Like one-half could
It's wanting more
That's gonna' send me to my knees

Whoa, gravity
Stay the hell away from me
Whoa, gravity
Has taken better men than me
How can that be?
Just keep me where the light is
Just keep me where the light is
Just keep me where the light is
C'mon keep me where the light is
C'mon keep me where the light is
C'mon keep me where the, keep me where the light is

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I think I have a new angle on my Muncie predicament. Knowing that my story is infinitely more complex than just me, why has God left me in Muncie? What is left for me to do here, before I can go somewhere else? What is God doing in this town that I can be a part of, help finish, help start, help establish, before leaving? Eight months doesn't seem like a long time, but it could be a very essential time, if managed in the right way. So whose life needs investing? Whose ministry needs a push forward? What can I learn from this little town, to be used now and later?

This is a more constructive and optimistic way to view my time left here. The situation is still a little frustrating, but this will help, I hope.

I got a tweet from my friend Jessica last night just as I was going to sleep. And it was part of the lyrics to this song. And it came at just the right time. I will put into bold the line that was particularly meaningful.

John Mayer

Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so-called problems
Better put 'em in quotations

Say what you need to say

Walking like a one man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you'd be better off instead
If you could only

Say what you need to say

Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You'd better know that in the end
It's better to say to much
Than never to say what you need to say

Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open

Say what you need to say

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Die (it's a song)

I got really sad for the world tonight while at work. For kind of no apparent reason. A little old woman came in for her "medium french vanilla cappuccino." She's a regular. She has dentures and her speech pattern reminds me of the former associate pastor at my parent's/my childhood church. And I started thinking about all her stories that she has to tell. I wanted to ask her why she comes to Starbucks every day for a french vanilla cappuccino. It's not really something you HAVE to have to live. Really, coffee itself is something you can live without in general (although many of my morning customers will deny that). I wanted to ask her about her life. If she had ever been married. Where her husband was. If she had any children. What she had done in her life. I wanted her to know that her life mattered and had made an impact. Of course, I didn't do any of those. I asked Alicia to make her cappuccino instead, while I got her pumpkin cream cheese muffin to go. Then I went to the back and started doing some dishes while thinking about all of this. I got sad about the world and what the world thinks matters. About the vigor with which people pursue meaningless objects ... pleasure, what-have-you. I tried to love that woman a little bit, but she also annoyed me a little bit, and I ended up pitying her ... that may be what annoyed me. I am not very good at balancing pity and love. I don't know how to do that. It's something I was hoping to learn this summer, but I'm starting to think it will be a lesson my whole life.
I was thinking the other night, also, about the pursuit of pleasure and how it would make complete sense if you didn't believe in and know Christ. It's the most sensible thing in the world, really. (That's all on that for now.) But it still makes me sad that so many people live without leaving a mark on people's lives. I suppose everyone does leave some sort of mark ... they just don't know it, or aren't proud of it, etc. etc.

I had a customer ask me tonight "what is the meaning of life?" I asked if he wanted the legal answer or the one I actually believe. He asked for the real answer. I gave him the westminster catechism. "To glorify God and enjoy Him forever." He chewed on that a little while, while his daughter gave me her drink order. His daughter, incidentally, always reminds me of Mrs. Duckrow, a teacher and friend of my parent's in Guam. I was friends with her daughter, Sandy, if I remember correctly. Anyway. Then he asked me for the legal answer and I said "Growth." He decided I must be a college student. I said I had just finished my masters. He said "that makes sense."

Iron & Wine

And though our fathers' fathers slept in stolen houses
All that's over now
And our babies never cry
And we can look you in the eye
And say, "we're not afraid to die"
And yes, our mothers' mothers saw in black and white
But all that's over now
And our children never lie
And no matter how hard we try
We are not afraid to die

Southbound Train

The temperature feels like summer. Everything else feels undeniably like fall. The world is preparing to rest.

I'm a little confused and frustrated about life right now. My heart is in so many places that I seem to be unable to actually be in any one place fully. First, my heart is with all the Halo people, so really, it's in last month ... which is not even a place! I want to be in Finland with all my Halo kids. The fellowship, the focus, the mission, the purpose, the fun ... even though it was pretty busy, it was somehow the most restful and relaxing time I've had in awhile.
Yet, I love Muncie and I want to be here with my church, with my small group members, with my parents. But I don't have the patience to be home with my parents anymore. That's probably a little bit okay. I am, after all, 25. In terms of American culture, now is an acceptable time to move out of the house. No one should really still be living at home with the parents. But I can't afford to live on my own quite yet, not responsibly anyway. I don't want to answer any of their questions. I don't want to talk to them, and yet I hate that I can't talk to them about many of the things I think and experience. Part of this town feels like it won't allow me to grow. "That's not acceptable. People don't change." It seems to say. But I know that's not true.
I want to be in the city of Chicago because I have so many friends there and it's a city I love in my mind, maybe idolize a little.
I want to be in Cleveland, because I also have now developed a base of support there ... and a job.
And it seems that every one of my places, everywhere that my heart is, decides to do activities at the same time.
So next weekend, my small group in Muncie is attending a church-wide retreat and I've been "kicked out" of small group (not really) so they can have 100% attendance, but I really really WANT to be there. Yet, I have to be in Cleveland all next week for an Erie concert and it's great to go up there and be with my friends ... but it's going to be terrible, because I know where my small group will be. And I feel I've grown very much apart from them, because that's what happens when you are absent from a place.
They are the same people that have always made up my small group, but returning to them makes me feel like I imagine I would feel returning to my Starbucks in Boston where everyone I know has left.
People in my church have begun relationships, ended relationships, had children, gotten married, gotten pregnant, made decisions, moved away ... and I've missed all of it. All. Of. It.
I have missed out on everything because I've been doing everything.

Southbound Train
Jon Foreman

I guess they'll say I've grown
I know more than I wanted to know
I've said more than I wanted to say
I'm heading home
Yeah, but I'm not so sure
That home is a place
You can still get to
By train

So I'm looking out the window
And I'm drifting off to sleep
With my face pressed up against the pane
With the rhythm of my heart
And the ringing in my ears
It's the rhythm of the southbound train

And the wind starts to look like her hair
And the clouds in her bright blue eyes
As the sea and the shore fall and rise
Like her breast as she breathes by my side
And the moon is her lips as the sun
Is headed on down to the sea
Like her head as she lays down on me
Until we reach oceanside
Over and over
I hear the same refrain
It's the rhythm of my heart
And my sleepy girl's breathing
It's the rhythm of my southbound train

*harmonica solo*
(also, why this song is awesome)

Oh, I suppose they'll say I should've known
Or maybe I'm just feeling old
Like a lawyer with no one to blame
I'm headed home
Yeah, but I'm not so sure
That home is a place
That'll ever be the same

So we're picking up our things
And we head out in the cold
And your eyes are where you carry the pain
When I hear the whistle weeping
It's crying to the sky
It's the rhythm of my southbound train

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I Told Jesus

I resent expectations.
I don't like it when people expect me to behave a certain way, or have a certain idea, or BE a certain way. I don't even know who I am or what I believe or how I think or what I'm going to do, most of the time. You shouldn't think you know who I am, either. Some days I'm happy, some days I'm sad, some days I'm angry, some days I'm numb. Some days I'm all of the above and more.

Also, it might be time for me to leave Muncie. It might be past time for me to leave. It's hard to say, hard to think about, and hard to stay.

Today has not been a particularly good day, clearly.
And yet, I know I have the support of my friends. And Jesus. I know He is on my side. There is music and there are people who love me ... without expectations ... that's how I know.

Today's my sister's birthday. Happy birthday, Holly!

(I think lower case js are so much cuter looking that capital Js)

At MasterWorks this summer, a husband and wife did a dance to this song. I cried. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. The trust, the integration, how the two had become one, the message of the song. It was incredible.

I Told Jesus
Roberta Flack

I told Jesus
Be alright
If He changed my name
I told Jesus
Be alright
If He changed
Changed my name
I told Jesus
Be alright
Be alright
Be alright
I told Jesus
Be alright
If He changed my name

He told me
He said 'The world will turn away from you
Child, if I change your name'
Yes, He told me
Said 'The world will turn away from you
If I change your name'
I told Jesus
Be alright
Be alright
Be alright
I told Jesus
Be alright
If He changed my name

Then He told me
He said 'Your father won't know you, child,
if I change your name.'
Yes He told me
He said 'Your mother won't know you, child,
Child, if I change your name.'
But I told Jesus
I said it would be alright
Be alright
Be alright
If my father turns away, now
And my mother turn away, now
Yes, my brother, my baby sister
Turn away
Turn away
I told Jesus
Be alright
If He changed my name
Changed my name
Changed my name
If He changed my name

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What Sarah Said

My grandmother. Is 95. Her name is Dorothy and she's the mother of my father. She is a little bit of a hellraiser of a woman, or used to be in her day. Now she is 95 and only recently is every bit as old as that sounds. A few years back she had a major stroke which slowed her down significantly, but before that she would gallivant all around this country and WORLD even with her various grandchildren, loving people and loving life. My grandfather Harold returned Home about 18 years ago now. But he has never left my grandmother. And even though she lost a big part of herself then, she has stilled lived life just as much as anyone ever has. But now her body has finally caught up with her age. She is in an assisted living facility. It's marvelous there, really. But still. It's not quite the same. It's like a nursery, or a zoo, or an acquarium. Full of old people. Many of whom still have the spirit to live, but the bodies can't keep up. I don't go see my grandmother very often anymore. I can't stand to see her deteriorate the way she has. I know it's even worse for her, since it's HER body that won't keep up. Her mind is still pretty sharp, but all of her senses are letting her down, so she seems crazy, but it's just because she's not getting all the input that the rest of us get. Her responses and comments make perfect sense based on the information she's receiving.
I love my grandma dearly and I always WANT to go spend time with her, but then I think of how difficult it is for her to hear and speak and see and move. I get exhausted just worrying about it. I know how long it takes to have a conversation with her. But I know that I should go. I know she'd love to see me ... heck, she watched me grow, literally. She's lived in my parent's house since my grandpa died. But I just can't make myself go out there and see her. And smell the building, and see the old people that I can't do anything to help.
There's a Death Cab for Cutie song called "What Sarah Said." In it there's a line that says "love is watching someone die." And I know that's true and I want to have that kind of love for my grandmother, but it's so hard. So hard to make myself leave my comfortable world and go out there just to spend time with her.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Awaken ye Sleepers

Today has already been a stretch in my adventure of a week of no background noise. I have caught myself so many times just about to grab my iPod or open iTunes or hit the radio button when I take a shower. But I haven't done it. My father on the other hand, being unaware of my week-long resolution, does. And I didn't even realize that I sat at the kitchen table today for an hour with the t.v. on as background noise because he'd turned it on.
Unfortunately, I spent just as much time online and in a mostly unproductive state, regardless of the status of my background noise. I'm not sure what to glean from this as of yet.

Here is my question of ponderance for tonight, though ...

Are there people who just don't have souls that will be awakened? Can you awaken someone's soul if it so far dormant they seem not to even have desires beyond suriving? How?
It's a general world question and also a personal question.
I find myself thinking about moving to Finland and investing in people's lives there, building small communities and I was thinking about meeting people for coffee and talking. They would say something and I would respond like "why do you think you do that?" and then they would say either "well ... thought-out answer that reveals a deeper part of themselves" or "I don't know. I hadn't really thought about it." Then they'd go away and think about it. Now, I know that life doesn't really work out that way. And if that's what I want to do, I might as well do it in Muncie just as well as Finland. (But that's also another story.) But I also then find myself doubting whether I can actually help awaken someone's soul. I know it's really the Holy Spirit who does the soul awakening. He's the only one who can speak to us in the voice and the language our souls understand, but still ... I doubt that I can be that person. At least, I don't think I can be that person for people who don't already think along that line (and it sometimes baffles me to think that there are those people, because ... well, I think that way). I know I can be an aid to those who already think that way, because I have been. But can I help people think that way if they don't already? Should I even try to help them? Is it a good way to think? I assume it is, but is it?
Lots of questions with non-postcardable answers (to take an idea from N.T. Wright). But that's what I was thinking on my musicless bike ride home.

Monday, September 7, 2009


I decided today to spend this week without background noise. I always have some sort of noise going on around me ... sermons or music going in the background. Now, I recognize that we all have some sort of noise going on around us. But I'm talking about the stuff that I am in control of.

So what this is going to accomplish or to do, I don't know. What this is going to look like, I don't know. How it's going to affect me, I don't know. But it seems like a good idea; I've read a few articles and heard a few comments and sermons about the discipline of silence, so I'll give it a go. I'll try to keep you apprised as to how it goes and if you want to join me in it and let me know how it goes for you ... if you experience anything tangible or intangible, if you hear God's voice more clearly, if you stop hearing His voice, etc. ... you're more than welcome!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lars and the Real Girl

No song today, just a movie recommendation.

Lars and the Real Girl

It is so tender and endearing and incredible. I just love it. I want to watch it again with everyone I have ever met in my life. Thanks to Hannah for encouraging me to watch it. I was skeptical and it was definitely a little lower on the Netflix list, but because of her recommendation, I bumped it up. Good thing!

Today was a good day. Probably better than I am willing to admit. I thought of something to blog about just as I began my bike ride today. Of course, I forgot it. But I think it was related to a podcast I was listening to, so maybe I'll listen to it again and that'll spark my memory. Maybe tomorrow.

Make good choices!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Song For You

The moon looked incredible tonight on my bike ride to small group. Something about the way the light shone on it or ... let's face it, I don't remember anything about science, but something about it made the craters and shadows look exactly the same color and shade as the evening sky, so it totally looked like the moon was transparent, or had holes, like swiss cheese. It seemed you could just see straight through it.

There are a lot of things to say about today, again. And a lot of songs for today. But I'll choose the last one I heard that made me think of this blog.

A Song for You
Alexi Murdoch

so today
I wrote a song for you
cause a day
can get so long
and I know
it's hard to make it through
when you say "there's something wrong"

so I'm trying
to put it right
cause I want
to love you with my heart
all this trying's
made me tired
and I don't know even where to start

maybe that's a start

for you know
it's a simple game
that you play
filling up your head with rain
and you know
you've been hiding from your pain
in the way
in the way that you say your name

and I see you
hiding your face in your hands
so you won't land
you think no one understands
no one understands

so you hunch your shoulders
and you shake your head
and your throat is aching
but you swear no one hurts you
nothing could be said
anyway you're not here enough to care

and you're so tired
you don't sleep at night
as your heart is trying to mend
you keep it quiet
but you think you might
disappear before the end

and it's strange
how you cannot find
any strength
to even try
to find a voice
to speak your mind
when you do
all you want to do is cry

and maybe you should cry

and i see you
hiding your face in your hands
talking 'bout far away lands
you think no one understands

listen to my hands

and all of this life
moves around you
for all that you claim
you're standing still
you are moving, too
you are moving, too
you are moving, too
i will move with you