23 December 2008

Sorry for the delay

heading back to the farm for Christmas, so my internet connection will be very limited at best. I will try to pick up this story as soon as I can!

19 December 2008

A bit more about the engagement

Work is a little slow this afternoon and I have a few minutes to write a short post. While my mind is wandering here, there, and everywhere, I know that what my few faithful readers really want to hear about is how/when/where Jon popped the question.

First, it must be said that Jon is not a quick mover. While I had decided only a couple of months into our relationship that I wanted to marry him, he took his time considering all the implications. By the time we headed to Sarasota to spend my 30th birthday with my dear friend TulipGirl and her family, I thought he might be considering proposing. We had talked about marriage and we were in a mentoring relationship with a married couple--Ken and Sue--and were reading the book Sacred Marriage with them.

Good signs of a possible proposal flitted across the horizon, but considering Jon's methodical (and sometimes procrastinatory) tendencies, I thought it might be possible that he would propose around Christmas or New Years. At that point we would have been dating for 7 months. If you know my family history that definitely qualifies as a LONG-term relationship! For Jon, on the other hand, it was still quick. He has no married siblings and one of his cousins dated his girlfriend for 7 YEARS before they married!

All of this set me up for a bit of an emotional quandry. Everyday Jon was giving me more and more evidence or his strong character, passion for God, brilliant mind, tender heart and hilarious sense of humor. When I imagined someone partnering with me to minister to the body, raise children and impact the world for Christ, no one seemed to fit more perfectly than Jon. He was what I wanted. But I had already learned from long and hard experience that the pain of un-met desire is infinitely easier than the pain of fighting God for something He is unwilling to give.

To be continued….

11 December 2008

The ring

This is the ring. Jon picked it out all by himself, although I had tried it on the day before. I told him that I wanted him to choose it, and that I didn't like diamonds. When I saw it I protested that it was too big, but he informed me that I would get used to it... and I have;-) It is a roughly 9 ct amethyst surrounded by a total of 37 teeny-tiny diamonds set in 14kt white gold. Oh, AND he got it 1/2 price! Totally cool!

We have not yet figured out the wedding band thing, but I am thinking I'll go with a plain, rather narrow white gold band because nothing is really going to fit with it.

Engagement pic


My dear brother-in-law Jason took this pic at Thanksgiving and it is one of my favorites! Jon is actually tickling me in an attempt to get me to smile correctly.

More updates coming

My faithful blog readers,

Many apologies for not updating this blog in a timely manner, particularly considering the recent excitement. Perhaps the excitement is my excuse as well as my prod.

On November 8th, 2008 I got engaged to my beloved physicist (hereafter refered to as BP). It was the day after my 30th birthday, in idyllic Sarasota FL and we are both ecstatically excited about this wonderful provision from the Lord. Many more details will be forthcoming about the how, where, and when of the proposal as well as tentative wedding plans.

Thank you for your patience and consideration.

Rebecca

18 November 2008

Wordled

I decided to Wordle my blog and see what it looks like and here it is:
Check out some of the other items in their gallery and make some of your own... it is really fun!

06 November 2008

Poem #6--praise poem

Today's prompt is a bit easier for me:-) There have been some difficult circumstances swirling around me, but my desire to praise God has been growing exponentially as well. Following the theme of grace, and writing a short(ish) poem to get this up before I depart on my way to FL and a wonderful birthday weekend with TulipGirl and family, here it is:

Praise Him from whom all blessings flow
He who did not staunch wound in side and head
Whose hands and feet poured unmeasured grace
So full and free that wretches can drink their fill

Praise Him all creatures here below
Below but not put down, by Him declared
Only a little lower than angels
And created in His likeness--the image of God

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
With wings covering your eyes because His
Beauty is more dazzling than a Caribbean sunrise
Bowed, tossing at His feet songs and hymns

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
Unimaginable Trinity, perfect community
Love overflowing and so super abundant
That it had to be shared

05 November 2008

Poem #5-- setting a scene

Really, these prompts are stretching me totally... Maybe it is my fuzzy brain, or maybe it is just that I am out of practice, I am not sure. For today's poem, the prompt is to write a poem that sets a scene important to the theme of the chapbook. Problem is, I can't visualize any scene that doesn't sound cheesy or totally disconnected with my theme, which seems to be heading toward grace. We'll have to see how this one turns out. I will come back and post something later tonight... I need to let it stew for a little bit.

One of the difficulties for me in using these prompts is that Robert Lee Brewer's own poems seem so far disconnected from my theme that I don't know how to translate his inspiration. HELP!

Total Church Conference recordings

These past few months I have been involved in the Vision Team at my church. It was a small commitment as far as meetings go, but I felt privileged to be asked to help out. As a small urban church plant, Cityview leadership (mostly Pastor Peter) has been working to refine the vision of the church and clarify where we're going, how and why. The presbytery has been helping and the Vision Team was a result of their combined efforts.

I am posting the link to the Total Church Conference recordings because I think they would be valuable for me to listen to while I consider my role in an urban context and as part of an urban church. They are here so I can find them, but some of you may be interested in them as well.

Thanks to The Resurgence!

Poem #4--soapbox poem

My family will inform you that I am rapid and agile in my climbs onto the soapbox. But for some reason these poems just are not coming very rapidly or agilely to my mind... So, poem #4's prompt, to write a soap box poem, is causing me a little consternation. Here is my attempt:

Imperfections are beautiful
try to look past the lack of supermodel
proportions or MENSA-like
intellectual prowess
self-discipline of the ascetic
or even the NFL athlete

Throw out caution with the next
bag of kitchen trash
embrace the hedonism of unlimited
X-Box gaming and Wii tossing and
turning
there are no more new leaves to
finger or resolutions to make

Embrace a self-love that asks
not what you can do for anyone or
anything else, but only what you can
do for the perpetually straining ego
that gets bogged down in flaw-hunting
or ever growing self-improvement
strategies

But remember,
THAT

is not grace.

Poem #3-- Foreshadowing poem

I am feeling like I really should have thought more about this before I started to write:-) I have an idea for my chapbook, but using the prompts effectively seems to be beyond my reach. Maybe I just have a cottony head today... either way, the prompt for poem 3 is to write a fragment-like poem that foreshadows the poem on the 20th. Not exactly sure where this fragment will lead, but here it is:

the heavy oak slab
of a door blocked out
the sun and rain but let in
so many wisps of apprehension
lay unguarded to fragments
of decayed hope

Poem #2-- Declaration poem

I am totally NOT feeling this prompt for a declaration poem:-( I have been given leeway to do something else, but I am not sure what that would be. I may come back to this if inspiration strikes.

03 November 2008

Poem #1-- A hook poem

The first poem is suppose to be a hook to pull you into the theme. I am writing late at night when I should be going to sleep because I feel like I need to do this, so here is my attempt:

Dishes are heaped ignominiously
the littered counter crunching
with toast crumbs
sticking with jellydrops
and I run the hot water
full blast
laughing as the soap suds
billow from the dishpan
chaos will be subdued
before my sponge
the clink of glasses and spoons
will sing in praise of common grace
and the joy of work

Poem-A-Day for November

Some of you may be aware that November is National Write a Novel in a Month month. I am not a novelist, at least not at present, so I appreciated it when Poetic Asides again issued a Poem-A-Day challenge. Some of you may remember my attempts to do 30 poems in April for national poetry month. I am again going to make my foray into poetry. I need the practice, and the goal of this challenge is a chapbook around a certain theme. I have been tossing around a few themes and some combination of these may finally come to fruition. Topics of choice: Just Life, Grace, Having Fun and Words. We'll see what comes of this:-)

27 October 2008

Fun

While wandering around Facebook catching up with some friends I saw this and had to try it. Why don't you find out what reading level your blog requires:-)

blog readability test

TV Reviews

10 October 2008

From the Desk of Rebecca: Random Friday Thoughts

Fridays seem to be the best time to collect random tidbits, so here are mine. Like my earlier post, it seems more fun to share those things that have provoked thought, laughter or... as referred to earlier today, lust. Have fun!

Erik Redmond at Irish Calvinist often has interesting or provocative posts, but I really enjoyed his brief reflection on the irony that he spent his single life being macho with his guy friends only to marry and have a woman for a best friend:-)

Good ole JT had another great post that led me to an online PDF about loving God with your heart AND your mind. I am looking forward to exploring this at greater length.

As if I didn't already have enough to read, Practicing Writer pointed me to an online community of readers and writers that looks like it should yield some interesting reads... Maybe I'll even comment if it is worth it...

Some of you know my passion for godly marriage--eventually my own , but mostly the support of marriage-mindedness in singles and marriage-committedness in my married friends. Boundless provides another interesting post about why they are so vocally in support of marriage.

JT had a post earlier on Nichols' book on the Blues and what an African-American pastor thinks of this exploration of a minority view of Christianity. Recently J and I were discussing what it feels like to be a minority when there are a very small number of Christians in a setting where there are systematic thought patterns that keep people from even seeing their prejudice. We discussed how it requires much grace, patience and genuine love to help someone see their faulty thought patterns and systematic beliefs for what they are.

It made me think of those unconscious prejudicial patterns in my own thinking that I rarely see because they seem so natural. I have been repenting daily since then. There is no way around it... my heart harbors prejudices, particularly racial and intellectual ones. Now I am struggling to change those patterns, but I can see it will take a lot of grace and patience on the part of those who are the objects of this prejudice and a great work of the Holy Spirit to redeem my thinking.

That leads me to Parchment and Pen's interesting post on one argument against atheism that may not be very effective.

Finally, I close with my friend April's ode to her beloved father. Her attitude, if not her specific examples could all be spoken about my own father. I don't know what I would do without his love and loving relationship with me. He has taught me much about what a man can be by the grace of God. In addition, my sisters and I experienced some of adventures in the company of April, Stacey and their incorrigible dad:-)

Enjoy the weekend! It should be beautiful weather here in the Chicagoland area, and hopefully good weather for the Marathon. May God be with anyone who thinks running 28 miles is a good thing:-D

Extreme Bible lust!

I am again in the throes of extreme Bible lust (see Websters 1828 dictionary definition here). It is definitely an "inordinate desire." On several blogs that I subscribe to there have been mentions of the new ESV study Bible's imminent release. Today, at least twice already, I have heard that Westminster books has some in stock and ready to ship. Their prices are the best by far--40% off the price of the premium calfskin and the leather bound version. I want to go buy one for myself, but that is not in the current budget. Besides, my birthday is exactly 4 weeks from today, so I should wait at least until then to buy it. Who knows, someone may be prompted to get one for me, or there may be birthday cash best devoted to this sort of purchase.

A new Bible is not the only book on my list. After many promptings from my dear friend TulipGirl, I am also desiring a copy of Grudem's Systematic Theology. They have it at Westminster Books, but it is also on my Amazon wishlist. Never one to pass up on a little light reading, it seems like an ideal bedside companion. As I grow in my faith I see a greater and greater need to have a firm grounding in Biblical theology. I need to chew and savor...

Note: I recently split my wishlists on Amazon--one is of books that I want to purchase and the other is for books I want to read/get from the library. They are often completely different types of books:-)

Edit: TulipGirl reminded me that it was actually Berkof's Systematic Theology that she recommended.... So now that has been added to the wishlist as well! Don't know who it was that recommended Grudem...

07 October 2008

Astronomy Picture of the Day


Astronomy Picture of the Day is another one of my favorite sites! Today's picture, which you see above, will be my new desktop for awhile. I subscribe on my igoogle homepage and find myself praising God for the awesomeness of His creation! I encourage you to check it out!

From the Desk of Rebecca

http://techbuddy.us/images/womancomputer.jpg

I have gotten in the habit of emailing Jon my favorite blog posts every few days, occasionally wishing I would have bookmarked them so I could go back and read them again. Then I hit upon a wonderful idea: if I write a blog post every time I email him, I'll have them right there:-) I scan a lot of blogs via my RSS feed on google reader, but I only read a few. Here are some that actually were read today!

Jon and I read the first chapter out of
Abolition of Man by CS Lewis on our way home from MO over Labor Day and had some lively discussion about worldviews and the training of young minds to be prepared for answering difficult questions. Justin Taylor over at Between Two Worlds posted some links to more interesting dialogue about worldviews here.

Another interesting post from JT concerned adhering to Biblical truth even when you may have emotional disagreement with it. This is not something you hear about very often and is definitely worth thinking about. What do I believe even though it doesn't resonate with me? What do I NOT believe because of the way it makes me feel, rather than because I have a firm conviction that it is not true? It reminds me of some of the conversations that I have had with non-believers and believers alike who don't believe in hell. They just don't think it fits with the idea of a good God.

Finally, any conversation about theology or philosophy eventually leads Jon back to naturalism, which he loathes. My own forays into worldview studies and my interest in philosophy and the understanding of truth was one of the first things Jon loved about me;-) He also finds that sort of conversation very romantic, so I like to make sure it is in good supply! Here was
an interesting article on Parchment and Pen that makes a good argument against naturalism's ability to provide a foundation for morality.

There is always more to write, but that will have to wait for another post.

03 October 2008

Interesting ideas from the blogosphere

One of the things I love about blogs is subscribing to google reader and being able to catch up on my favorite blogs without having to remember to visit them. Normally I do this at work when things are slow.

The other day one of the blogs that I read regularly suggested subscribing to a read through the Bible plan as a way to incorporate more Bible reading into your day. I had been thinking and praying about that so the timing was providential. I have started doing that and it has already been quite a blessing. I encourage you to try it, especially if you work most of the day on the computer, like I do:-)

There is so much more on my mind but I don't have the time to post it. I will try to get somethings out here more regularly. Also, I am bringing the camera with tomorrow as Jon and I apartment hunt, so hopefully that will equal more pictures on here as well!

edit: Just to clear up any possible confusion, the apartment hunt is for Jon, whose lease is up in November. For now I am very happy and comfortable with Beth and the cats.

Life.. but no pictures


Autumn has arrived in Chicago and I LOVE it! Just one more month until the big 3-0 and I am excited about that as well. My plans have crystallized .... I will be celebrating my joy at the turn of a decade with some dear friends that I see far too infrequently: TulipGirl and her riotous clan! Jon has agreed to come along as well, so it should be a good party.

Thanks to my generous boss I have access to my vacation several months early so I am taking a long weekend (Thursday to Monday) to visit Sarasota. We fly out the day before my birthday and then have all weekend to celebrate and catch up.

My heart pines for some international travel, but my pocketbook and vacation days do not allow it right now:-( I am hoping to possibly do some travel in March to destinations yet unknown.... Another friend is going to be moving from Cyprus to southern Spain and I've never been to Spain before... So many options and so little time (or money)!

29 September 2008

Look at my new quote!

My beloved friend Tulip Girl sent me this today:
"The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience."

~Emily Elizabeth Dickinson~

She thought it fit me. What do you think?

07 September 2008

More summer fun...Skydiving!

On our 17th date J thought it would be a great idea to sharing in death-defying feats! I did not actually realize that it was our 17th date, but when one is in a relationship with a math nerd, one should expect these sorts of things;-) It occured to me that it might be a little early in the relationship to be taking these sorts of risks! The following are some pics from his friend Tiffany's cell phone... Of course, neither J, Joel or myself, remembered to bring a camera!

This is us crowded into the very small plane that takes you up. I am sitting directly in front of the blond-haired blue shirted man on the left. His name was Jerry and his was my tandem-master. We were hooked together the whole way down. He has been tandem diving since 1987 and it was a bit like going skydiving with my dad *GRIN* I would HIGHLY recommend him for anyone jumping for the first time. He was very professional and encouraging and made the whole experience more fun! Jerry asked me, at about 7,000 ft and gaining, if I was ready to jump. I told him that it was a little late to ask, and that I could handle anything for a little while, so I wasn't worried. He laughed at my answer, but at least I was honest!
J was the last one off the plane. I was one of the first, after a group who were doing a formation dive, and he mentioned later that when he saw me fall out the door is first thoughts were: "There goes my girlfriend! Will I ever see her again!?" He added that he then felt a compulsion to get out of the plane and on to the ground quickly to find out if I was OK. I thought that was very chivalrous of him:-)This is the view from the plane--which is basically what we saw as we were falling out of the sky. The acceleration at the beginning of the freefall almost made me want to throw-up, but as soon as you hit terminal velocity (125 mph?) all you can feel is the wind. We jumped out at about 12,000ft and did a freefall to 5,500ft when you pull the cord on the chute. We jumped at about 7:30pm and it was just becoming dusk and very beautiful. It is hard to tell that from the pics.
I believe this is actually J in the picture. While I was one of the first ones off the plane, I was one of the last ones on the ground because Jerry showed me how to turn the parachute using the brake straps and I had a lot of fun spinning around in circles!
Here are the 3 totally endorphin-high jumpers. Joel is the tall guy on the left, a friend of J's that I dubbed Eyore almost immediately after our meeting. He is a very nice guy, but he does sound just like Eyore both in tone and commentary!

J was so hopped up after the dive that he acted like he was almost going to jump out of his skin he was so excited. To relieve the pressure he let out very loud hoots at random moments. I thought it was hilarious, but Tiffany was a bit weirded out.

One of the funniest parts was when I walked over to meet J after we had jumped. After squeezing me in a very tight hug he whooped and then looked at me and said, "You look totally hot in that jumpsuit!" (He continually surprises me with what he finds attractive, alluring or sexy. Thankfully, it is usually something that I do not have much control over (my vocabulary or the fact that my hair falls in my eyes) but that is a prominent or natural part of who I am. Very convenient!)

SkyDive Chicago had a heavily discounted rate for your second dive if you paid for it within one week of your initial dive. J and I have both purchased ours, so now we just need to plan our next outing to Ottawa IL.

Some fun times this summer

My friend Andrew was kind enough to download the pics from my camera, shrink them on his computer, and burn them to a cd for me so that I could FINALLY add some to my blog. I am going to be working backwards through some but first up is my own picture of me with the beloved physicist. Unfortunately, life jackets are never flattering:-( and I look like I am attempting the pirate/biker chick look... But otherwise it is quite a good pic. J and I spend A LOT of time smiling and laughing together. It is one of the great joys of our relationship. My good friend Rob and Andrew made up the balance of the crew of a boat we rented from Belmont Harbor and sailed out just in time to catch the Blue Angels buzzing the lake! The day was gorgeous and it was a veritable maze of ships parked outside the harbor mouth. We couldn't have asked for better weather or a more fun time. Being out on the lake always takes my breath away. I am actually considering shelling out the money to take sailing lessons next summer. I've only gone out 3 times this summer, but I wish it could have been more. Sailing, by and large, is still accessible since the fuel is primarily muscle and wind... all renewable resources;-)

05 September 2008

Labor Day Weekend

My beloved physicist and I spent the long weekend in MO visiting both of our families. All went exceedingly well, aside from some rather serious sleep deprivation. Lots of love all around! Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures. Not surprising, I know, but a bit disappointing. There were quite a few photogenic moments:-)

However, my favorite middle sis did take a few and you can see them (and her delightful commentary) here. Enjoy!

As soon as I can get the memory upgraded on my laptop I will be editing more of my own pics and getting them up here...

25 August 2008

Roald Amundsen

Roald Amundsen, 1923. Compliments of Encyclopedia Britannica online.

An informative bio of Amundsen is available
here. You can download a free translation of his book on his South Pole adventures via Project Gutenberg here. Because of my insatiable need for more adventure stories, I will be checking him out a bit more thoroughly. Enjoy!

Interesting Quote

This came up on one of my quote lists and I thought it was interesting, especially considering my love of adventure (future posts on recent adventures coming soon!) Now I need to find the context.... Bio info on Roald Amundsen coming soon!

Adventure is just bad planning.
- Roald Amundsen
Norwegian Arctic & Antarctic explorer (1872 - 1928)

Bible lust



Is it possible to lust for a Bible? If so, I am currently in the throes of an intense Bible lust. Some of you may remember from my birthday/Christmas post from last year that I was looking to get a new Bible. A leather-bound to-last-a-lifetime Bible. Well, I didn't get one last year, for myself or from someone else. It was a disappointment, but like all disappointments, in hindsight I can see the upside.

The upside to this disappointment is the ESV Study Bible. Due out in October (just in time for my 30th birthday!) it looks amazing. Normally I shy away from too much commentary in a Bible. My old stand-by Slimline NASB with cross-referencing was enough for years. At this point in my walk with Christ, though, I think I could do with some quality commentary.


So, if anyone is looking to drop a large amount of money on my birthday celebration, I would love the premium calf-skin:-) It needs to last for 60 yrs or so, so the cost/use analysis makes it a great deal--just over $3.00 a year!

08 August 2008

Solzhenitsyn

(photo compliments of NY Times)

This past week one of the foremost Russian writers died. I've linked to two different obituaries, the NY Times and a Boundless blog post. There is always so much to be said about someone as controversial and pugnacious as Solzhenitsyn.

I distinctly remember reading One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. The writing was hard and visceral and almost too simple to be real. I had wrestled (unsuccessfully) through Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment, firmly convinced that Russian novels were an Everest I was incapable of climbing. But still, I had seen that unpronounceable name in the writings of individuals I admired. If I was to be an educated 20th century reader I had to read something by him. My reading was so random and lopsided. Here was a chance to fill in a gap.

Universal human experience is one proof, in my mind, of the centrality of a Creator. It is fact that, regardless of seemingly consequential differences, humans have a huge well of shared experience. Pain, loneliness, anger, fear, pleasure, happiness..... We have families and friends. We experience gain and loss. We love beauty, hate ugliness, and often times don't think past our stomach or our bed. Any person that I meet anywhere on the planet shares far more with me than could possibly be different.

Because of this great shared wealth the gulag became my life for the short time that it took to read One Day... I was a suburban teenager in my basement bedroom, surrounded by a loving family and recipient of the freedom and decadence of an American middle-class life. I was female, young and almost excessively sheltered. But I knew the reality of that life.

Solzhenitsyn reminds me often of an Old Testament prophet. I don't know that he wept much, but he was often misunderstood and he spoke truth when all wisdom seemed to advise silence. He championed against injustice motivated out of a passionate love of his homeland and people. He was often disillusioned and alone. The general public regarded him as a saint and crusader one moment and painfully awkward old coot the next.

He was just a man and one who lived long enough to prove that all men are fallible and easily misunderstood. But irregardless of some extreme and often mistaken views, he clung tenaciously to the truth when the truth promised little but heartache. In that respect, Solzhenitsyn was almost a living embodiment of anti-postmodernism. It is not all about questioning. Deconstruction is only valuable when you are actually taking apart something harmful AND are willing to subject your deconstruction to the lens of truth. Finally, truth doesn't change, no matter how you look at it, or whether or not it is fashionable or pleasant.

Haven't written anything this complex in some time. I am still wrestling with the implications of a life well-lived and whether or not I or Solzhenitsyn can lay claim to having one. Death brings so much to the foreground that I rarely think about. The NY Times obit is in my bag, haven't finished it yet, so I have some more time to think.

04 August 2008

Cool stuff: my version

Was wandering around the blogs I like to frequent and came across this post from Random Musings. I always enjoy what she has to say, and her name is Rebecca, so she must be cool ;-) It seems like I wrote just yesterday and it has already been almost 2 weeks... YIKES!

Cool stuff:
  • Thunderstorms that crash so loudly they make me jump... even if I have my earphones in.
  • Changing the hem on $0.80 pants from the thrift store and having cute office wear.
  • A best friend who will sit and listen to me verbally process my relational experience without yawning once.
  • Thumb-wrestling with an extremely intelligent man and considering it just as fun as deep conversation.
  • The fragrance of clothes fresh from the clothesline.
  • Anything that combines mushrooms, spinach and good cheese.
  • Standing in front of A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat with someone who has never seen it before.
  • Living over a year without a car.
  • Working with interesting people at a job that really only requires 35 hrs a week from me and still pays me a livable wage.
There is always more that could be added. I am hoping to have a book list/review post in a few days. Just finished Chesterton's Orthodoxy and am in the midst of Till We Have Built Jerusalem by Philip Bess.... an interesting collection of essays on New Urbanism and its ties to the sacred. So much to think about (and write about)-- so little time!

22 July 2008

CS Lewis had it right

This is very much how I am feeling right now:

It was when I was happiest that I longed most...The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing...to find the place where all the beauty came from.

CS Lewis

Life likes to run away from me

Well, after so much time with no social life, no job and not much to do I am now enjoying getting to know a delightful physicist, working full-time in a challenging non-profit, and have had such a busy social whirl that I am running on a semi-constant state of sleep deprivation. Life is good.

There has been so much to thank God for recently.
  • The ability to even have thoughts of gratitude for instance. Anxiety has definitely been higher on the mental to-do list than that.
  • Renewed intimacy with God and an insatiable desire for more.
  • The sharpening that comes from interacting with other strong Christians.
  • Dynamic conversation that blows my mind.
  • Longer walks than I've had in a long time.
  • The opportunity to purchase really cute girl shoes.
  • Adventures in moving a stove for my best friend. Go Girl Power!
In all honesty, I can't think of a time in the last few years when it has felt like life is both insanely good, and when I've had to dig so deep into Christ just to know how to think. I am not sure how to take it all. I covet your prayers....

01 July 2008

I have a job!!!!!

God has been very gracious to me in the midst of my faithlessness! Today I signed the offer letter for a job as Executive Associate at a statewide non-profit here in Chicago, starting on Monday. This job is an answer to prayer on so many levels. It is exciting to be working in a smallish non-profit (though not necessarily Christian) organization. That means a lower salary than I might have been able to get in the for-profit realm, but I am still doubling my income from last year! (Those of you who know anything about that know that it wasn't a difficult feat*grin*) I will have health insurance for the first time in almost 10 years and this is the very first job with paid vacation! Woohoo!

The position reports directly to the President and working as her assistant is also a sizable portion of the workload. We really clicked in the interview and I look forward to working for her and learning from her. She is direct and upbeat--both things that help me in communication with my superiors. She also was looking for an energetic and extroverted person for this position, so that was a great plus.

In addition to all of this, the office is literally at the end of the stairs of the El about 35 minutes from me so it is a very easy commute. Get on a few blocks from my apartment, walk from the stairs into the building! There are so many other little things that make this such a fun providential gift from God! Rejoice with me:-) I am definitely rejoicing!

21 June 2008

Life in Kansas


There has not been an update in a number of days and now I am sitting on the couch in KS while Abigail and Hannah play in the basement, Issac and Joanna nap on their beds and Amy and Daniel have a little couple time in Wichita. In some ways it is Christmas in June, since this was my Christmas present to the family.

It is good to have some quality time with the munchkins. We've played hide-and-seek, watched cartoons, went to the park, painted on pasta and generally had a fun time. I am at that age when the biological clock as well as personal inclination make me eager to have children. Watching women make unwise decisions, though, helps me stay content as I wait and pray for the husband that God has chosen for me.


Currently I can't edit pictures on my laptop, so I will have to wait and see if DnA can get some for me to add here. I know you all like pictures and the Asher clan is quite photogenic:-)


One last note.... The job hunt is going well. I've had several preliminary interviews, one pretty major one at Moody last week, another one with a downtown non-profit after I get home, and have had some temp work in the meantime. I am hopeful that I will have full-time employment by the beginning of July. In general, the job hunt has been positive. It is always nice to hear people tell you how employable you are and how eager they are to help you find a good situation. Now it is just time to wait and prepare. Even if I have only been unemployed for a couple of weeks, I am totally ready to work again.

29 May 2008

If you came to (my) house...

My friend TulipGirl tagged me and I usually don't get these things done... But this time I am going to do it! You can check out her list here.

Obviously, I just moved into a new apartment so a lot of this is subject to change... maybe I'll come back and do it again in 6 months.

If you came to our house. . .

You would see:
Several of my art quilts, piles of boxes and rubbermaid tubs, a bright blue living room with a big print of a DeGrazia ballerina above the mantle, the 3 kitties

We’d probably feed you:
Roast Beef from my parents' farm or Chicken Alfredo or Calico Beans for dinner if it is warm out

Biscuits and Gravy for breakfast

And offer you this to drink:

Homemade fruit smoothies

We’d undoubtedly ask if you’d read:
Whatever we’re currently reading

We’d want to play this music for you:
Astor Piazolla tangos, Ella Fitzgerald, whatever is on my laptop or ipod

We’d want to tell you the latest about:
What’s happening at church or school

We’d probably suggest a game of:
Word Thief, Canasta, Sequence

We might would definitely show off:
The latest projects we are working on… the cats

We might get on the computer and show you:
My sister’s children, pics from my travels

If it was a long enough visit, we might watch:
Not sure… don’t have a TV;-)

28 May 2008

Prayer Request

To all my dear praying friends who read this blog:

Today I found out that the sister of a dear friend and co-worker of mine was raped this past weekend while at a party. She is 20 yrs old and has done all the right things, including going to the police and gathering her family around her. Please pray for justice and peace in this entire experience. Pray that the family will be able to be a support and encouragement to her as they sort this all out. Pray for my friend that she would have wisdom and be able to care for both her sister and herself. This is one of those things that always happens to someone else, but now it has come close to home. Pray also that I might be an encouragement and support to my friend.

24 May 2008

Not original... but at least it is a post

My good friends over at Conservative Intelligencer posted this video recently and I thought it was too good to pass up. Enjoy some hilarious and totally accurate commentary on the current use of language.

06 May 2008

Accidental Poem

This one came up in an IM today at work. This is what happens when you IM with your coworker while he is sitting next to you in class.

sorry... can't help it
at least I don't screech
my sleep deprived brain can't handle Indigo being smart
its just too much
It is like Jonatan being a good ole boy
overloads the synapses

A little background: Indigo regularly laughs and talks so loudly in class that she disrupts everything. The other instructor reprimands her regularly. So I laughed at a face another instructor made and Indigo informed me, very properly, that I was being too loud. It was too much, coming from her, so I just busted out again. Then my acerbic co-worker IM'd that my laugh was as bad as Indigo's singing, etc. Then the above poem happened. Oh, and Jonatan is one of my very sly 9th graders that will look me in the eye and insist that he is working hard when I just saw him playing cards with another student.... Then today he shakes my hand as if there was never a conflict betwixt us regarding his work or any other possible issues. Just too much!

03 May 2008

Brief update

Just wanted to let you know that I honed my resume, wrote a fabulous cover letter and applied for two more positions at DePaul. One is as an Administrative Assistant to the Multicultural Student Affairs office and the other is Program Assistant for the Study Abroad Program. Both would be an excellent fit for my skills and experienc AND it would enable me to go to my first program of choice: DePaul's Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies. I am hopeful and praying hard. I know that I have a strong chance if I can get an interview... Now we just have to wait and see.

Also, it looks like Sara and I are going to try and move the weekend of May 16-18. Our lease isn't up until the 31st and I will likely camp out at the apartment until the 30th so I don't have to commute from Lincoln Square, but we need to get everything moved before Memorial Day Weekend because we would like to use that time to go to Berea's graduation. So, if you are around and would like to help.... We feed well!

30 April 2008

Poem #30

Today is the last day of National Poetry Month. The final prompt for this month is to write about an ending. That is something I should know quite a bit about.... there are a lot of things ending or closing in my life right now. My job ends May 30th, my lease is up May 31st, Sara and I stopped being roommates a few weeks ago, other relationships are ebbing and flowing... But I still find this poem hard to write. Even going back to earlier closures don't seem to help. I would skip it except it is the last prompt and I haven't been too faithful as it is. So here is my attempt:

The end

Turning the last page
Emptiness knocks me down
Like that huge wave in the
Bahamas--turned topsy-turvy
My sunglasses and contacts
ripped from my face
left me blind and vulnerable
on a foreign beach. The epilogue
completed--not a single word left
leaves me hollow and floundering
reaching for a life preserver in
the waves of loss and confusion.
She sucked me in--tossed me
into an articulate oblivion of
personality, philosophy and beauty
to no end.
My gluttonous reading has left me
gorged and unsatisfied
The End cut off all hope of escape.

28 April 2008

Grad School (and life) Update

There has not been much on this blog lately besides my often ineffectual attempts at poetry. However, I do need to update on the grad school situation. As of right now I have gotten into all the programs to which I applied. This is an exciting development considering that I got into NONE of them last year. My preferred program is DePaul's Masters in Liberal Studies. It would allow me to take courses in a variety of disciplines and explore many interests while still doing a literary thesis in preparation for a PhD program.



The only problem is that DePaul's tuition is a bit pricey. I think I mentioned earlier that I was hoping to get a job there in order to have my tuition waived. Well, I just found out today that I am not being considered for the position that I felt most confident about--Administrative Assistant to a law professor. That was disappointing in the extreme. There are still 3 more jobs that I might still be considered for. I am also on a waiting list for an English TA position. The way I see it now, I need a job at DePaul, a job with tuition reimbursement or a job that pays me about $10,000 more per year than I originally decided that I needed. I have submitted resumes for jobs that pay that much... It is really just a waiting game.



On the job front, I have submitted resumes for every job that I can find and I am going to try and look for more this week. That is about 30-40 resumes floating in cyberspace waiting to be read and considered. Thank God that I believe he is sovereign in these things because I don't know how I would arrange things if I had to figure it all out.



On the apartment front I picked up keys from Beth this weekend and started looking at paint colors for the living room and bedroom. Beth is having a graduation party this weekend, but after that I am going to break out the paint and get going. I am excited about moving... but not about the 3 flights of stairs all my worldly goods have to be carried up!

27 April 2008

Poem #22

This prompt was for Earth Day and as with other Tuesdays there was the choice between two prompts: write an industrial poem or write a nature poem. One day a few weeks back I decided to take pictures all the way back from the school where I tutor to my apartment. That takes me through some rather sketchy industrial areas, Chinatown and the fringes of South Loop gentrification. I was going to include a couple of the pics in this post to more artistically illustrate it, but I can't find the cord to my digital camera, so this will be up to your imagination.

Gentrified

Crumbled factories, Ayn Rand
Facades in empty lots: 45,000
Square feet for rent lie only blocks
From the newest highrise on south
Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
Rusted ironworks bridging the brown
Sluggish river no longer dyed green
Testament to languishing industrial
Glories now lead to former tenements
Cum studios for the poor intelligentsia
Paving paths for the bourgeoisie
To invade the ethnic enclaves
Urban is chic and concrete pours
For Eco-Friendly Resort-Style Living
Where formally public housing stood
The sprawl has turned upon itself
Rushing home from the suburbs
To refurbished brownstones and the hope
That their righteous urbanity will restore
Life to the fretful deities of mangled nature

Poem #23

You know, this non-linear numbering is growing on me. When I finally meet up where I left off and have to go back to normal chronology it will be a bit sad.

That said, the prompt for the 23rd was to write about age... how wonderful your age is now, the age when you thought you were in your prime, etc. I think about age a lot. When I was about 11 I told my grandmother that I wanted to be 80, that I was pretty sure that was the best age of all. She was appalled, and probably rightly so. I just thought being a grandma would be the best thing. I had no desire to be a teenager, or middle aged. I didn't want children, just grandchildren. But I digress.

Now I am facing turning 30 in just about 6 months. Several of my friends recently beat me to it, and several more will hit the mark before I get there (the joy of having a November birthday LOL). The reality is, I can say unequivocally that this is definitely the stage in life when I most shine. Maybe it is the urban living. Maybe it is the great new haircut. Maybe it is just being so in love with life and the God who has given it to me. Maybe it is having a boyfriend for the first time ever;-) Whatever it is, I am grateful. So I think this could be the best topic for my poem.

Thirty and flirty?

Sex in the City says now is the time
To grab what you can get with all
The gusto you can muster.

But like a dark storm brewing on the horizon
My friends cower in cubicles and at desks
Waiting with foreboding for their 3rd decade.

I, on the other hand, have come into my
own at last. No more hiding behind
shapeless "artistic" clothing

No more wishing that my intellect would
Dull to the common mental brilliance
No more squinting at the fine print

I dance in red fishnets and black high heels
Whirling to the rhythm of salsa and swing
Laughing at partners in wingtips and fedoras

I stand tall in black wool sweaters and
striped trousers before students who
shout "Hey Ms. WB!" down crowded halls.

Greeting newcomers by name in the atrium
Of a music school cum sanctuary, welcoming
Diversity into an urban, ancient worship.

Like the wise woman of Proverbs this age
Does not scare me and 30 means I am just
Beginning... I can laugh at the days to come.

Welcome home! My soul has found its rest
In a size 14/16, with Ashley's best bob swinging,
Eyes flashing, wit sparkling, and poetry falling from
My fingertips.

Poem #27

The month is drawing to a close... sigh... and I have been a very negligent poet. There has been much on my mind in the last few weeks and some days it seems like there is no poetry in my fingertips or my mind. Today's prompt is to write a poem that is one half of a conversation. I usually like that sort of thing, and did a bit of that in my job poem. I will, however, try again.

Hello....
I can't hear you.
Is that static on the line?

What? I thought you said
Ryan but that was Brian, right?

I don't believe it, that's not like
him.

You always say I am naive.
But really, you can't mean it...

How far along? NO WAY!
Does her grandfather know?

I would say--
Don't you think---
STOP INTERRUPTING ME!

I can't listen to this anymore.
She is my sister, after all.
I might call tomorrow, or Thursday
night.
Bye. No I mean it. Don't call.

26 April 2008

Poem #24

This prompt was to write a poem based on a photograph. I decided it had to be a digital image so I could include it in this post. Let me know what you think.
Who would have guessed
as we slept on that couch that
the seeds of a new family
were being sown.

Who would have guessed
as we dreamed or slept
dreamlessly that two who
are so different would joyfully
become one

Who would have guessed
that me, smack in the middle,
would not be the arrangement
for life.

Who would have guessed
that a snooze in January
2006 would become
Mr and Mrs Gambill
April 2008?

Poem #25

Going back, step by step. This prompt was to write an occupational poem. Now, I have been writing about my students quite a bit lately, so I am thinking about writing about another occupational stint. Here it is:

At the Department of Vital Records

"Matthew Simon Nolan Tupac
Roddie Lorenzo Butch Darnell
Stu Emmit William Solomon
Aaron Donald Mickey Antoine
Smith"
"Are you sure that is it?"

"Ma'am if you do not have it
in the correct order or have all
the names spelled correctly
we will be unable to release
the birth certificate."

Wouldn't a DNA test be a simpler
way to find out your baby's daddy?
Naming him after every possible
father means subjecting him to
YEARS of paperwork hassles
and you know everyone will
call him "Sonny" or "Big Daddy"
anyways.
But I am just microfilming and this
has nothing to do with me.

Poem #26

No, you are not missing anything. I just got so far behind that I decided to jump to today's prompt and write backwards. That's what you get when you don't actually set aside a time each day to write your poem-of-the-day;-) But those who know me and love me realize that being random is just part of who I am. So, today's poem is supposed to be titled "I am so over _________". Here is my version.

I am so over teenagers

You look at me with jaded eyes
"Do we have to read more poetry?"
The whine is killing me.

YES!

Poetry today, and poetry tomorrow.
We will read it, write it, comment on it.
Alliteration animates all the asinine
verbiage the rappers throw at you.
Why can't you just try to enjoy a little
Dickinson or William Carlos Williams?

Your hormonally fired synapses
produce the most flagrant abuses
of language. But I accept the
beating if only you will listen
to the Beats or at least The Beatles.

But alas, you are in that most
narcissistic of ages and places.
Perhaps I am asking too much and
should just accept the occasional
gift: "That was hyperbole!"

22 April 2008

Poem #19

This prompt was to write about a memory of yourself that you do not remember. Without being able to go back to my family, I chose one of the family stand-bys.

A New Sister

When the small bundle
arrived in my mother's
arms I was not concerned.
When she cried and wailed
and my mother gave her breast
there was nothing to fear.
When she was laid in the
bassinet to sleep
I watched in fascination.
But
When they told me she was
staying, I said,
NO
She can go home now....
Take her back to the hospital.

Poem #18

This prompt required you to include the line "There is no connection." Being at school means that students fall prey to the muse once again.

Teaching Poetry

Adolescents in heat stare at me
glassy-eyed, slack-jawed.

There is no connection.

"What does this haf to do wit us?
Sandberg's confusin'"

There is no connection.

"How can I Listen Actively
if I am reading a book?"

There is no connection.

Impassivity like a dial-tone
droning in my ear.

There is no connection.

Poem #17

This prompt was to write a poem entirely in 3rd person... to take yourself out of it. This one came from my writing today with my students.

They sit in a semi-circle
scribbling away on faded brown
clipboards, the wind playfully
grabbing stray hairs, loose papers,
and untucked shirt tails.

Rounded cheeks, unspotted skin
flaky, chapped lips betray their
concentration while flat chests,
thin limbs proclaim their youth

They write poetry with an intensisty
that comes from a simple place--
"When I am annoyed I am like a
sleeping volcano being interrupted."
"I am IceBerg that dances on water
when the wind puches me."
"Busy as a bee/ who am I supposed to
be, myself or somebody else."

Catching up on the poetry

So, this poem-a-day thing has become more like a "pile of poems-every-few-days" sort of experience. Today I decided to get caught up, writing my poems long-hand in my poetry journal while my students wrote poems of their own. I think it worked. Here they are, with their corresponding prompts.

16 April 2008

Poem #16

This prompt was to write a poem with a twist at the end. Quite a challenge... This poem is based on a text message from my friend Aaron.

Kyle read his message out loud to us
Totally forgot! Stink.
Of course he feels bad
Thursday night belongs to us.
Herb usually calls. Lol.
Probably has a lot on his mind.
Anyway, i am super tired.
I can see it... house music blaring...
DJing keeps him up so late.

I went out with my mom last night.

15 April 2008

Poem #15

Today's prompt was to write either an insult poem or one about taxes/deadlines. Neither seems very inspiring to me. Here is my best attempt:

Extensions

O the glories of IRS


Forms with numbers this word

Worker can never recall!

Long before I owed I wished

Away all income—pining

For a land where money

Was no more important than paper


Instead, the computer keys

Keep clicking and the futile

Search for old returns

Plummets me yet again

To the depths of green Rubbermaids


When will the ceaseless toil

Find its reward in a fattened

Billfold or Ledger?


Only when assets are not greater

Than expenditures

When income and outflow

Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security

Have gorged themselves


Unless I can deduct for the bib

I gave Lucille and the wine

Donated to the writers’ circle

Poem #14

This prompt was a bit fun. Time to write a poem about writing... The prompt was to write a poem titled "how (fill in the blank) behaves." I chose to write about my pen:-)

How my pen behaves

Pouring forth indigo goodness

Script ripples across alabaster

Pages tied by thought

And fragile threads

Winsome words weaving wonders


Scarlet gel slips and slides

Consonants and vowels

Pulled into a black and white

Gridded marvel

Vocabulary explosions


But then puddles of violet

Soak futile linen

Doodles replace eloquence

Scratching, no longer gliding

Ripping raw syllables


A tool, a toy, a torture

This is how my pen behaves

13 April 2008

Interesting post on Boundless

I am a woman of diverse interest and I am surrounded by friends and family members who are also excellent and/or interested in a wide variety of pursuits. Boundless posted on their blog about this and I wanted to include the link here so that I could easily recommend it to ya'll.

Poem #13

Finally, today's prompt! To write a poem based on a song lyric. Well, the lyric is compliments of Corinne Bailey Rae and the poem is compliments of many years' experience:-) Here it is:

Insomnia

“It’s late and I’m feeling so tired/ Having trouble sleeping/ This constant compromise/ Between thinking and breathing” Trouble Sleeping, Corinne Bailey Rae

The hot pillow no longer
Caresses my cheek as racing
Images explode my exhausted
Neural transmitters
Prompted always by a restless thought
Undisciplined monkey mind
Needs training like a recalcitrant puppy

Sleep keeps no company
With manic mental gymnastics