Monday, December 20, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I was just looking back at blogs I had written around this time last year and it made me realize how little I've written lately. Sure, I'm not living in a different country, I don't have Russian lessons to dread or crazy postwomen yelling at me. But I do have plenty of other things to dread and I care for a 13-month that does her share of screaming. ;-) What I mean is that while life is now different, it is no less challenging or significant or beautiful and I say it deserves to be remembered. So here is to more consistent blogging. Let the writing begin!
Friday, December 10, 2010
Life is feeling better. Maybe it's because it's Christmastime. Maybe it's because it's Friday. Maybe it's because Joel is home. Maybe it's a combination of many things. I'll take what I can get and tell you without a doubt...I am blessed.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
During this time of advent I am seeking to reflect on the meaning and hope that can be found in this season.
The entire article can be found here: http://rejectapathy.relevantmagazine.com/god/deeper-walk/features/23640-why-advent
"...The math should move us on that. The Bible is not a collection of war chants from victors—it’s an incredibly varied collection of writings reflecting an intensely diverse amount of postures, moods and perspectives.
A lot like how life is, actually. Sometimes you’re furious with God, other times you’re madly in love.
The issue then, as it is now, isn’t just getting us out of Egypt—it’s getting the Egypt out of us.
Rescuing us from sameness, dullness, flatlined routine, reminding us that however we’re feeling, whatever we’re experiencing, wherever we are in our heart—the Spirit waits to meet us there.
And that takes us to Advent. Advent, then, is a season. Lots of people know about holidays—one day a year set apart. The church calendar is about seasons, whole periods of time we enter into with a specific cry, a particular intention, for a reason.
Advent is about anticipating the birth of Christ. It’s about longing, desire, that which is yet to come. That which isn’t here yet. And so we wait, expectantly. Together. With an ache. Because all is not right. Something is missing.
Why does Advent mean so much to me?
Because cynicism is the new religion of our world. Whatever it is, this religion teaches that it isn’t as good as it seems. It will let you down. It will betray you.
That institution? That church? That politician? That authority figure? They’ll all let you down.
Whatever you do, don’t get your hopes up. Whatever you think it is, whatever it appears to be, it will burn you, just give it time.
Advent confronts this corrosion of the heart with the insistence that God has not abandoned the world, hope is real and something is coming.
Advent charges into the temple of cynicism with a whip of hope, overturning the tables of despair, driving out the priests of that jaded cult, announcing there’s a new day and it’s not like the one that came before it.
“The not yet will be worth it,” Advent whispers in the dark.
Old man Simeon stands in the temple, holding the Christ child, rejoicing that now he can die because what he’d been waiting for actually arrived.
And so each December (though Advent starts the last Sunday of November this year), we enter into a season of waiting, expecting, longing. Spirit meets us in the ache.
We ask God to enter into the deepest places of cynicism, bitterness and hardness where we have stopped believing that tomorrow can be better than today.
We open up. We soften up. We turn our hearts in the direction of that day. That day when the baby cries His first cry and we, surrounded by shepherds and angels and everybody in between, celebrate that sound in time that brings our Spirits what we’ve been longing for."
Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
(Written Monday, November 22, 2010)
My street is covered in white and trees are sparkling in the moonlight. Our first winter snow has arrived. Usually I like snow- how it blankets the earth in glitter and shushes the ordinary sounds of hurried life. Snow makes life different. It slows people down. It covers the dirtiness.
And yet, as I look out my window tonight, the snow does not appear peaceful or calm. The wind is whipping the falling flakes back in forth into a harsh fury. I am thankful tonight that I am inside-warm and sheltered from this storm. This time I am safe.
I sometimes think about how wise God is in allowing us only to live from one moment to the next. In my nearsightedness, I often wish I could see what the future holds. And yet, when I stop and look back on my life, I think that if I knew what each day held, there are some mornings…maybe even many mornings…that I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to get out of bed. Lately, there have been days when I wished I hadn’t.
Recently I’ve found myself caught in the middle of life storms. One after another, I feel beaten and bruised from their harshness and wearied by their relentlessness. Financial problems. Uncertainty. Layoffs. Unfulfilling jobs. Cancer. Depression. Loneliness. Car problems. Surgery. Fear. I wake up in the morning dreading the arrival of yet another storm and wondering if I have enough strength left to endure it should it arrive.
In the midst of my pain I feel angry at God that he could allow such things to happen. Shouldn’t it be his job to protect me from harm, keep me from pain, and make me happy? But the truth is, it’s not. I serve a God who is more concerned with my wholeness than my happiness. I am struggling to see the goodness in that and to view these trials as opportunities become a little more like the person I am supposed to be.
Lord, I am weary. Day after day I wonder when the rains will stop and peace will come. I search for you but instead of light, I find endless gray skies. Still, if these storms are here to bring about a deeper love within me, a greater capacity to trust you, or a heart that is more willing to serve others, then let it be so. But God, give me strength to continue on. I need strength. I believe you won’t let me go… but if I didn’t know any better...I’d think I’m drowning.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
I'm marrying this boy and I couldn't be more excited. Stay tuned.
Photos by the fabulous Joshua Mahar- www.joshuamahar.com
Monday, October 18, 2010
Yesterday two of my dear friends tied the knot. As I was sitting at BJ and Kendra's wedding, watching them exchange their vows, I felt overwhelmed by the beauty of my life. I watched my friends commit to spend the rest of their lives learning how to love and serve each other a little more every day. Incredible. The happiness on their faces blew me away.
I am trying (though fail as I do) to see significant beauty in each day. Some days (like yesterday) it's easy. Other days (like Mondays) it takes a little more effort. But it's there-the beauty. Lately, I've seen it in the changing leaves, in unusually light traffic, and in a baby that sleeps an extra ten minutes. I've seen it in strangers that let you cut in front of them at the grocery store, in kind text messages, in hot coffee on a crisp fall day, and in quiet, relaxing evenings.
Truth is, the more intentional I am about believing that goodness and beauty can be found, the more evident it becomes. I find this reality to be...well...beautiful. ;-)
Saturday, October 9, 2010
There is about an eighth of a mile stretch of road that I walked every Sunday on my way to church in St. Petersburg. Well, I suppose I walked much more than that, but it is this eighth mile stretch of memory that has been haunting my thoughts lately.
It took me upwards of forty-five minutes to get to church but the last seven minutes were by far my favorite. I had to pass through a gated section that often had uniformed guards outside of it. The guards never bothered the pedestrians passing by, but they always checked each vehicle for authorization before allowing them to pass through the metal gates. The area had little traffic and always seemed eerily quiet in comparison to the bustling streets just yards away. This street was lined with large buildings, at least one of them being a hospital and I’d always glance up at the windows in hopes of gaining clues as to where I was and what I was passing through. I used to wonder what type of hospital it was- if the patients were able to come and go as they pleased or if the guards at the gates were there to keep them in. Farther down the road was a building that always smelled sickeningly of some sort of meat. I’d look in the windows at the ladies with their hairnets and I’d make up stories in my mind reminiscent of The Jungle.
It sounds a bit morbid, perhaps, these thoughts I would think on this eighth mile stretch of icy pavement. But I looked forward to this bit of walk every week. I liked it because it was quiet and hidden and mysterious and unknown. I liked it because it lent itself to melancholy thoughts. I felt lonely walking along this road but in the best of ways; lonely in an awareness of my utter need for God, my incompleteness without Him, and the inability of anything else to ever fully satisfy. The street made me feel small and insignificant, lonely and lost, in this huge, demanding, mysterious world. The street gave me perspective.
I liked my weekly walk because its deep emotions usually felt contained in that eighth of a mile chunk of ice and asphalt. The melancholy would usually pass as I’d eventually focus on a life that was too busy to just be.
Lately, though, I’ve been feeling loneliness beyond the confines of the guarded gates. I won’t claim to be alone when I say that sometimes, maybe even many times, I desperately wish something or someone else could make me feel whole. There is something to be said for an embrace that comforts the soul, food that nourishes the body, or a hobby that distracts the mind. Something that can be physically touched or felt. Each of these, in its moment, offers temporary satisfaction and then as the embrace departs, the food digests, or the hobby fades, we realize we are left in want.
My loneliness has been disguising itself well. It has felt like fear. It has felt like anxiety. It has felt like disappointment. I feel it now, with my lamp lit and the rain against my window. But tonight, present as it may be, I am striving to feel it not as a burden, but as a gift - an invitation to stop trying to let anything else complete me and just rest in the love that has already covered me.
Maybe it’s not such a bad thing, this loneliness. Maybe its God’s way of reminding me that while I’m off trying to fill myself with physical manifestations of comfort…he is waiting. He is patient in his loneliness for me, wanting nothing less than to empty me to the point of His fullness.
God, please do not weary in your waiting for me. It is you alone that I want. Forgive me for my forgetfulness. Forgive me for my selfishness. Forgive me for my fear. I believe, but help my unbelief.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
1. I really hate being sick.
2. I really love fall
3. BJ and Kendra are getting married SOON
4. I am getting married. I can hardly wait. Joel is my favorite.
5. I really hate being sick. Did I already say that?
Sunday, September 5, 2010
They say when it rains, it pours. I’ve found myself looking to the keeper of the rain and praying that these rising waters will not become deep enough to drown me. In the midst of recent storms, I’m searching for rainbows and clinging to promises.
I sometimes mourn the fact that life is not constant; that good things change and fade and sometimes altogether disappear. I sometimes question the significance; the point in the struggle and the reason for the hurt. But it is part of the beauty, I suppose. Difficulties water our lives and remind us that while worth it, growing is not pain-free.
Today, in this moment, I can appreciate the tension in and perhaps even the necessity of this reality. But tomorrow, oh God, should the waters rise beyond my perspective, be merciful to me. Remind me to press forward for treading water is the surest road to exhaustion. Remember your promises to us. Bring and be peace. Lord, keep us afloat. All of us.
Friday, September 3, 2010
1. Workout at least once (dream big, right?!)
2. Do laundry
3. Spend time with family
4. Clean car
6. Buy shoes
7. Eat peanuts and candy corn
8. Have a breakdown and be done with it
9. Find perspective
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
"Today, O Lord, I felt intense fear. My whole being seemed to be invaded by fear. No peace, no rest; just plain fear: fear of mental breakdown, fear of living the wrong life, fear of rejection and condemnation, and fear of you. O Lord, why is it so hard to overcome my fear? Why is it so hard to let your love banish my fear? Only when I worked with my hands for a while did it seem that the intensity of the fear decreased.
I feel so powerless to overcome this fear. Maybe it is your way of asking me to experience some solidarity with the fearful people all over the world: those who are hungry and cold in this harsh winter, those who are threatened by unexpected guerrilla attacks, and those who are hidden in prisons, mental institutions, and hospitals. O Lord, this world is full of fear. Make my fear into a prayer for the fearful. Let that prayer lift up the hearts of others. Perhaps then my darkness can become light for others, and my inner pain a source of healing for others.
You, O Lord, have also known fear. You have been deeply troubled: your sweat and tears were the signs of your fear. Make my fear, O Lord, part of yours, so that it will lead me not to darkness but to the light, and will give me new understanding of the hope of your cross."
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
"Went looking for self. Found others."
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Some days your uncertainty is too much for me. Other days it feels like a grand adventure. Common sense tells me the middle ground is where I should strive to exist. Experience tells me the safety of the middle is actually the most dangerous place to be. Life, teach me kindly to accept the uncertainty and embrace the adventure. The road ahead is long. I pray we've only just begun.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I’m finding mornings to be beautiful. I never used to be a big morning person and truthfully, if the morning starts before 7:30, I’m still not. But there is something hopeful about the promise found in the damp coolness of a new day. This morning, like most other mornings, I awoke with a list of carefully planned to-dos. I find it strange that no matter how many items I cross off, the list never seems to get much shorter. Thankfully today, a quiet, cool, hopeful morning is at the top of the list.
Last night I watched “Darfur Now” and I wondered why I had never seen it before. Obviously I’d heard about the happenings in Darfur but I guess I had never really thought to investigate them further. Someone else could figure it out. I fear this is a pattern that is too easy to fall into. Don’t want to hear about suffering or injustice? Turn off the news. Inequalities sounds like a downer? Don’t buy the newspaper. Poverty not really your thing? Good, because you’re not in poverty. It’s amazing how whole a broken world can appear if you know where to avoid looking.
I suppose it’s not that we don’t want to help- maybe we just don’t know how. If we start talking about poverty we realize how much inequality still exists. And where there is inequality there is injustice and where there is injustice there is suffering and the solution just gets bigger and harder to imagine. The wounds of the world are rarely surface scratches that can be healed with some topical treatment and a bandaid. No, these wounds run deep and while we are all called to bring about healing, there is risk of personal injury involved. In my experience, calling rarely exists without risk.
When I was in Russia there were many days when I longed to be sitting back in a coffee shop in the states. When I returned home, I realized why. For me, coffee shops are a sign of familiarity, security, safety and comfort. I remember many coffee dates, sitting in Starbucks talking to my friends about what I thought Russia would be like and how I hoped to get to know the culture and love and serve people every opportunity I got. My conversations were hopeful and passionate and naive. Loving and serving people are easy to talk about when you’re warm and comfortable. They're easy to talk about when you’re healthy or safe. They're easy to talk to about when you’re in good company and have a four dollar drink in your hand. It’s another story when your caffeine buzz wore off months ago and you’re cold and lonely- frustrated and unsure. There is nothing wrong with coffee shop chats, but the dreams and plans we make are only words until we live them out.
“Darfur Now” reminded me that even though I’m tired and maybe a little confused about what it is I’m supposed to do with this life, the world continues to hurt. The pain doesn’t lessen because I think I deserve a break. Selfishly, I’m finding that to be a disappointing truth. But it’s time to turn on the news, pick up the newspapers, and open my eyes. Brokenness is not their problem-it’s our problem. It’s time to allow the sickness of the world to sink into my being so I feel urgency to think and feel and ultimately to act. God, forgive me for my apathy. Help me to know when the coffee cup is empty and I’ve rested long enough in my overstuffed chair. Give me the courage to walk through that door. Give me the wisdom to know where to go.
Friday, July 9, 2010
"If you came back, you wanted to leave again; if you went away, you longed to come back. Wherever you were, you could hear the call of the homeland, like the note of the herdsman’s horn far away in the hills. You had one home out there and one over here and yet you were an alien in both places. Your true abiding place was the vision of something very far off, and your soul was like the waves, always restless, forever in motion."
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Life has been busy and I really haven't done the greatest job of blogging. I do believe there might be some semi-meaningful thoughts in me somewhere, but they aren't ready to come out quite yet. So lately instead of blogging I have been:
2. Looking at WEDDING venues online
3. Drinking lots of water
4. Spending time in Seattle
5. Getting headaches
6. Eating lots of fruit
7. Missing Joel
8. Job searching
9. Wedding dress shopping
11. Catching up with friends
12. Watching chick flicks
13. Catching up on music
14. Eating Red Mango every chance I get
15. Getting excited to go to Pasadena
Monday, June 28, 2010
"Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die..."
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
"So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be..."
On May 26th at three o clock in the morning, Arina and I sat in the back seat of the taxi on our way to the airport. It was a beautiful, warm night, and the glowing moon rested low in the sky- illuminating the risen bridges. It was truly a breathtaking sight and I remember feeling slightly frantic, thinking I should take a picture but knowing that by the time I got my camera out, the beauty would have passed. I’ll never be able to show anyone the beauty that I witnessed that night but I think I might actually like it that way- sort of a secret goodbye. St. Petersburg pulled out all the stops that night and its beauty won’t be cheapened by a three by five glossy sheet of paper.
I think about that night a lot and the friends I said goodbye to, though I think little of everything else. I sometimes even wonder if Russia was all a dream. How can life just be what it was before? How can it feel like it doesn’t matter? Life is just a blur of busyness and the end of it all surpasses my vision. It’s not bad…it’s beautiful actually…but it’s busy.
One of these days I promise myself I’ll turn off my phone, shut down my computer, get in my car and just drive. I’ll drive away from the familiar, the excitement, the opinions, the expectations, the catch-up dates, the overdue phone calls, and every other direction I feel pulled in. I don’t know where I’ll go or what I’m expecting. I just want some time completely alone. Time to think. Time to process. Time to feel. I think perhaps I’ve been avoiding all of the above. But I’m getting tired of the emotional going.
I have little to share about what I’m feeling these days because I guess I’ve been feeling a little numb. Life just goes and my heart doesn’t know what to think. But it knows there is a difference between numbness and peace. Late at night that difference becomes a little more obvious.
…guess that means it’s time for bed…
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I've been loving life lately. The weather has been gorgeous. I've been in excellent company. I've finished teaching. I'm seeing fabulous things. Home is only a matter of days away.
Home is only a matter of days away.
I think today, for the first time actually, that reality sank in...just a little. I'm going home. In two days. Part of me immediately thought "woohooo! I'm going home!!" while the other part of me thought, "holy (expletive)...I'm going home."
My roommate Rachael leaves for the airport in about 3.5 hours. I feel slightly nauseous.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
This one goes out to all my Washington peeps ;-)
...also, I crack myself up.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
Yesterday we had our certificate cermony and honored those students who had attended class regularly and worked hard all year. It was incredibly satisfying to hand our students certificates and watch as they tried to hide how proud it made them. It was strange to say our goodbyes, some of them met unexpectedly with tears. But we did it! My roommates and I have successfully completed a year of teaching English overseas and we have a pride and sense of accomplishment to match our students. :-)
Sunday, May 16, 2010
It’s about 4:30 am and St. Petersburg is still quiet with sleep. For some reason I find myself unable to join her people this morning. No matter, I think that like so many others in the past few days, this quiet, unexpected moment is something to be treasured. The sky is light, the air from my open window is cool and I can be alone with my thoughts. It’s good.
Friday night was Arina’s Birthday and so to celebrate, we took her on a canal boat tour. Honestly, it was probably one of my favorite things I’ve done since being in St. Petersburg. The air was warm, the sights were beautiful, and I was surrounded by the people that have shared in and supported me through the ups and downs of this adventure. As we floated down the canals I had an overwhelming sense of peace and satisfaction, and a longing to somehow freeze those moments of seeming perfection.
Yesterday morning I went on a five mile run that Joel had suggested. I had attempted this run before but my terrible sense of direction always got the best of me. But yesterday I was successful. I ran across beautiful bridges, above sparkling blue waters, and past spectacular landmarks like Peter and Paul fortress and the Hermitage, all the while feeling a forgotten sense of joy well up inside of me. As I ran, I thought about how only a few months ago, the sky was gray, the air was cold and the flowing water beside me was frozen solid. I thought about periods in the past nine months when my heart mirrored the season and remained cold, dark, and hardened towards its purpose in Russia and the blessings surrounding me…even amidst hardships. Perhaps I feel some regret over days I wasted here in Russia. I wish that instead of grasping for whatever brought me comfort, I would have embraced the unknown with greater boldness, knowing that it would soon be over. I wish that I had loved others with greater selflessness. I wish that on days when life seemed dark, cold, and gray, I would have done a better job at seeking out the Light. And yet as I ran, God reminded me of a beautiful truth…a truth that brought about a sense of freedom. He reminded me that He has the power to work through me, in spite of me. That, my friends, is incredibly reassuring news.
And so I've been having these moments lately-on a boat, running through my foreign home, sitting on a windowsill- that have almost taken my breath away with their beauty. They are moments I wish I could freeze so I could hold onto them forever. They are moments when life just feels...perfect. I am not so naive as to think life will remain in a state of perfection. Maybe just the opposite in fact. And I think that is what has made these moments so incredibly special. For when I think back on my time in Russia, I will probably remember the hard days. I will certainly remember the cold days. I will remember the days when my soul felt tired and confused and restless. But I will also remember the friendships, the beauty, and the moments of perfection that caused me to stop and ponder the goodness and faithfulness of my God.
From my seat on this windowsill, I think I can see things pretty clearly. Darkness and light, greetings and departings, trials and triumphs, restlessness and roots...these are the things life is made of. And what a beautiful life it is.
Monday, May 10, 2010
From my seat in Kazan Cathedral I could see this. I could hear the voices of Orthodox believers, joining together to praise God. I watched as strangers lit candles and kissed icons, presenting their pleas and concerns to God and waiting to hear him speak. I suppose I came to do the same. I came here to find God. To hear him and to feel him and to know that whatever I am going through or feeling He is still with me.
But today my prayers felt less like a conversation and more like an echo; bouncing off the chaos and change of life and returning unanswered. And the harder I tried to pray, the more my words failed me. So I just sat there, quiet and desperate before God. Maybe that is what He wanted from me. Stillness. Emptiness. A heart that is finally tired enough to listen to the echoes.
I’m not afraid of His current silence, I’m just longing for the day of peace and clarity. I’ve given him my sin and fears and failures, so while my heart may feel the sting of abandonment, my mind remembers the faithfulness of my Father. And I'll wait.
It’s ironic though, isn’t it? How silence can deafen a person, stillness can shake the soul and emptiness can be the most important step toward wholeness? I do not understand the workings of God. I probably never fully will. But I know my sleeplessness is not without reason. So tonight I’ll sit here, quiet and emptied before my Savior and wait. God, may the echoes of silence speak.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
When I was young I wanted to be Nancy Drew. Her life just seemed so exciting. Adventures, besties, convertibles…Ned. It all sounded great. Then I wanted to be Anne Shirley (but really, what girl doesn’t?!) I had an “Anne of Green Gables” journal and I remember even trying to write words like, “lovely” and “splendid” in it because I thought that was how Anne might write in her journal. Embarrassing. After that I wanted to be like Audrey Hepburn. That one needs no explanation.
Over the years I have longed to be like others. My idols and role models changed depending on my age, interests, and friends. But there is one that has remained constant through the years. My Mom.
She is strong. When others are weak, she has proven to be trustworthy, constant, and encouraging. When she is weak, she knows in whom she must find her strength. She takes time to listen, to share in sorrow and joy, and offer advice when wisdom presents itself. She is full of surprises, hilarity, and wit that sometimes make you wonder if you heard her correctly. She holds me tightly and lets me go. She begins each day on her knees. She knows fear and concern but she continues on in spite of it. She is beautiful. Truly, truly, beautiful.
It is all of these things and more that make me admire, respect, love, and long to be like her. I love the way she tells me things will be okay, or cries with me when it feels like they won’t be. I love that she leaves me little notes of encouragement or sends me emails just to chat. I love how she’ll laugh with me in dressing rooms until our sides hurt and other customers wonder what on earth is going on. She is my “You’ve Got Mail” buddy, my shopping partner, my coffee date, and my best friend. And truthfully, Nancy Drew, Anne Shirley, and Audrey Hepburn got nothin’ on my Mom. Things change, people change, and life changes, but this will not change.
My blessings are countless and my mom is one of my greatest. The world is a better place because Laura Miles is in it. Period.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
"I know that life is a doorway to eternity, and yet my heart so often gets lost in petty anxieties. It forgets the great way home that lies before it. Unprepared, given over to childish trivialities, it could be taken by surprise when the great hour comes and find that, for the sake of piffling pleasures, the one great joy has been missed. I am aware of this, but my heart is not. It seems unteachable; it continues its dreaming… always wavering between joy and depression"
Monday, May 3, 2010
"Say goodbye to the old street
That never cared much for you anyway
The different-colored doorways
You thought would let you in one day
Goodbye to the old bus stop, frozen and waiting
The weekend edition has this town way overrated
You walk across a baseball field
The grass has turned to straw
A flock of birds tries to fly away from where you are
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye old friend
I can't make you stay
I can't spend another ten years
Wishing you would anyway
How the sky turns to fire against a telephone wire
And even I'm getting tired of useless desires
Every day I take a bitter pill that gets me on my way
For the little aches and pains
The ones I have from day to day
To help me think a little less about the things I miss
To help me not to wonder how I ended up like this
I walk down to the railroad track and ride a rusty train
With a million other faces I shoot through the city veins
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye old friend
You wanted to be free
Somewhere beyond the bitter end is where I want to be
How the sky turns to fire against a telephone wire
And even I'm getting tired of useless desires
Say goodbye to the old building
That never tried to know your name
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye old friend
You won't be seeing me again
Goodbye to all the windowpanes shining in the sun
Like diamonds on a winter day
Goodbye, goodbye to everyone
How the sky turns to fire against a telephone wire
Burns the last of the day down
And I'm the last one hangin' around
Waiting on a train track, and the train never comes back
And even I'm getting tired of useless desires"
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Almost 3am. Lately, I've been having bad dreams. Tonight's dream included a severed arm, a bloody foot, and two injured children in a car accident. This sort of thing makes sleep less appealing and a lot less enjoyable.
I think I'm going to look at pictures of ponies and rainbows before trying to go back to sleep...
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Tonight Arina and I walked home from Nevsky, side by side, the same way we had eight months earlier; only this time, no longer strangers but friends. As we walked, we talked about how quickly time has passed. I remember when I first arrived, exiting the airport and inhaling the warm Russian air. It smelled like garbage and Ukraine and adventure, and I remember wondering if this foreign land would ever feel familiar to me.
And familiar, it now is. Not in a, this-feels-like-home kind of way but in a, you’ve-become-a-part-of-me kind of way. And maybe that is even better. I drink tea and talk about the temperature in Celsius and see God in the everyday victories. I read Cyrillic (slowly and painfully), know what kind of milk to buy and what kind of cheese to avoid, and on some days, when I’m standing amidst the crowds in the metro or walking down a quiet street, I catch a brief glimpse of utter clarity and it all makes sense. It is in these moments I can appreciate the enourmous gift of this beautifully challenging experience.
Tomorrow is April 26th- exactly one month from my date of departure. If my grandpa were here, he’d say, “Where did it all go?” And tonight I think I’d say, “I know, right?”
I have mixed emotions when I hear my friends and family talk of their excitement surrounding my return. On one hand, I’m counting down with them. There have been nights when my heart has literally hurt because I missed everyone so much and I longed to be back with them. My journal keeps record of all of the things I can’t wait to do as soon as I get back. And still, there is another part of me that feels frustrated and bothered when we talk of how great it will be when I return. Arrivals rarely exist without departures, beginnings often follow endings, and goodbyes are ever present. It’s just all so bittersweet.
And here is the tension. I am ready to be with the people who know and love me. I’m ready to be with the people I know and love. I’m ready to belong again- to not feel like an outsider or a bother everywhere I go. I’m ready to know how to act and what to say and how to say it. But I’m not ready for it to all be over. I'm not ready to say goodbye. I’m not ready to trade a life I don’t know quite how to live in, for a life I don’t quite know what to do with. The past two years have been spent if not in Russia, than thinking about Russia or planning for Russia. And in one short month, I will inhale air that no longer smells like anything to me, step onto a plane, and it will all be over.
Does this sound overly dramatic? Maybe it is, it’s certainly possible. But when I’ve gone to sleep at night lately, these are the thoughts that have filled my mind. Change and I are learning to get along, but I’m not sure we’ll ever be best friends. Afterall, it’s hard to be best friends with someone who is consistently breaking and hurting you. Even if it is in the name of growth.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Okay yes, I stole this from someone else's blog. But only because it was sooo good.
"Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two."
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Today was a blessing. I could try explaining why but I suspect it wouldn't make sense or my words would just cheapen it. But it was good. Really good.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
It is a little after four in the morning here and I am awake with the hopes of being skyped into my cousin's wedding. These hopes are quickly fading.
My family (extended and all) is currently at the beach, spending time together and celebrating the marriage of Rachel and Aaron that is going down...oh...right about now. My brother is officiating the service.
I want to be there.
There are many things I love in life. Weddings and family are at the top of the list. I love weddings 1) because I'm a girl and they are weddings 2) they inspire and excite me 3) they remind me that love is a commitment that goes beyond fluctuating feelings. I love my family 1) because they are incredibly supportive and loving 2) they are made up of some of the funniest people I know and 3) because I just have the best family. I know you probably think that that YOU have the best family...and I don't blame you for thinking that as you've never been a part of mine...but just rest assured that you're wrong. Mine beats yours. And yes, it is a competition.
I do my best to be content with my present circumstances. But currently, my bed in St. Petersburg, Russia is the last place I want to be at a time like this. I miss being part of my family and I'm not a fan of missing once in a lifetime events. But nevertheless, I'm so excited for the changes that have occurred. So congratulations, Rachel and Aaron. Our family is growing and becoming even more awesome (if that's even possible). And that, my friends, is a very good thing.
There are moments in life, fleeting as they are, when everything feels perfect. And the only thing you can really do is breathe deeply, close your eyes, and thank God.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Spring has come to St. Petersburg. I see it everywhere. On the bare sidewalks. In the warming temperatures. Even on the faces of those I pass on the street. It is as if winter is loosening its dark grip and people are beginning to remember what it feels like to be kind and happy and hopeful again.
Growing up in Washington, I've experienced some dark, rainy, winters. But they are nothing in comparison to this winter in St. Petersburg. After a while the darkness just wears on you. The cold takes it toll. And without noticing a change had even occurred, I found myself feeling down, pessimistic, and lethargic. Winters can be hard. Life can be hard.
I think that is what I like about so much about the changing seasons. They remind me that just like winter will eventually fade into spring one day, so will the difficulties and problems we are currently facing. For better or worse, change will never leave us to ourselves for too long. A new season is always on its way.
As the sun begins to shine on this beautiful city, in this country far from home, I am reminded things will not stay the same for much longer. In fact, change has already begun. The death and darkness that made itself at home during the winter will now stand witness to new life and light. Hope has risen and spring is here. And I can't say what, or why, or when, but I just get the feeling that this new season has the potential to be incredibly beautiful.
1.5 months left in Russia. Let's do this.
Spring has redeemed Russia for me. Details coming soon.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
"...Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray-not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it."
1 Timothy 2:8:10 The Message
I remember when I was little and my parents would tell me I was beautiful.
I remember laughing because I knew they had to say that. They’re my parents.
I remember having a conversation a few years back with a guy about girls and body image.
I remember him saying how stupid he thought it was that girls struggle with the way they view themselves.
I remember thinking his words were incredibly insensitive and completely true.
I remember a prayer that was prayed over the girls on the CIS team as we prepared to come overseas.
I remember it was a prayer of protection- that we wouldn’t fall into the false belief that is strongly felt here-that our worth comes from what the mirror or the scale says about us.
I remember coming to Russia and being amazed by all of the high heels, makeup, and tight clothing.
I remember thinking how ridiculous it is that a size four is borderline fat here.
I remember feeling sad that so many women here find their worth in how skinny they can be or how beautiful they can look.
You know what I don’t remember? When I first started believing those lies for myself.
God, I thought I could rise above these pressures without you. I thought I had a firm enough understanding of what truly matters in life. I thought I was confident in the fact that my worth comes from you. God, I was wrong.
Forgive me. Remind me. Help me.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
who I've sworn to be.
a promise in pencil
that years have made so hard to read.
I've spent my life building walls
brick by brick and bruise by bruise...
a birdcage religion that whispered me to sleep.
but time is spinning silk
that coils ruthlessly;
with the devil's patience,
it binds my hands so quietly
that soon it becomes a part of me.
so soften these edges and straighten out my tie.
and help me remember
the hope that i have compromised.
please be a broken record for me."
Sunday, April 4, 2010
"A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wineskins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death."
Sunday, March 28, 2010
This week's loves:
1. Jam on cottage cheese
2. Cooking/baking blogs
4. Patty Griffin's "Making Pies"
5. Listening to my ipod on my way to work
7. Orange black tea
8. Reading at Frickadelki
9. My journal
10. Frozen/blended bananas
"Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song."
Pope John Paul II
"...We are the Easter people and HALLELUJAH is our song."
Friday, March 26, 2010
You know what late night, solitary walks in the rain are good for? Washing away the idea that life can be perfect...that it can ever be perfect. They are good for melting away facades of courage and independence and having things figured out. They are good for cleansing the mind of life’s busyness…even good busyness.
Late night solitary walks in the rain are good for reminding me how important late night solitary walks in the rain are. While I find time to be alone, little of it is spent in solitude. There are thoughts I've been avoiding thinking, prayers I've neglected praying, and attitudes/habits I've denied altering.
This will change.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I love Fridays. You know what I don't love?
Saturday, March 20, 2010
When I was going into the sixth grade my family moved from a city about twenty minutes north of Seattle (Lynnwood) to a city about fifty minutes south of Seattle (Puyallup). Truthfully, the move was pretty traumatic for me. I missed my friends in Lynnwood and being shy, I found it very difficult to make friends at my new school. I would walk the track by myself during recess and count down the hours until I could go home. I can laugh at how pathetic that sounds now, but at the time life felt incredibly painful. Who knew loneliness could physically hurt.
Sunday nights were the worst. I'd feel sick with dread as I thought about the five days ahead of me that were sure to be filled with anxiety, feeling out of place, and longing for the friends and familiarity I had been forced to leave behind. On these difficult nights as I was trying to fall asleep and longing to be someone/somewhere else, I'd listen to a Kenny Loggins lullaby tape on my walkman. Maybe I was too old for songs about rainbows and wishes and unicorns but they provided a feeling of comfort and stability that I craved. To this day, whenever I hear Kenny sing "St. Judy's Comet" or "To-Ra-Loo-Ra"(don't judge) I feel a familiar sense of peace and comfort. Though the world around me felt lonely and out of control, my home was a place of refuge where life was safe and love could be found. These songs reminded me of this.
Tonight we out for sushi to celebrate my roommate’s, 25th birthday. It was the first time I've eaten sushi since being in Seattle and as soon as I took my first bite it immediately reminded me of home. Seattle is filled with a lot of excellent things(coffee, rain, art, bicyclists...) and sushi is certainly one of them. Eating it reminded me of late nights at Wasabi Bistro or heading to Blue C Sushi after work. It was like a little piece of home rolled up in rice and seaweed and it was so wonderful! I felt giddy thinking about my return as I was eating it.
If you're having a difficult time figuring out how I got from lullabies to sushi, I certanly wouldn't blame you. I'm not really sure I know how to articulate the connection. I just know that as I was lying here snuggled in bed-not feeling wonderful and sort of just wanting someone to take care of me- both of these things came to mind. As I thought about them, I was reminded of how exceptionally beautiful my life is.
I am so blessed to be able to look back on even the most difficult times of my life and never doubt that I was loved and supported. I am so lucky to be able taste home and feel joy instead of bitterness or hurt or disappointment as many in this world do. You know that cheesy saying, “home is where the heart is?” Well…it’s filled with some healthy bits of truth. Though I am far from home, the memories of it have traveled safely with me. And still, I realize as I prepare to head back to the place I love and call home in a few months, I will bring with me new memories of a new home. In the process of leaving home, I've realized how much I really love it. In the midst of needing home, I've realized it can exist simultaneously in more than one place.
Perhaps my roots have loosened a little. I've been told this happens as we grow. At times it is scary to think about where I might be transplanted and end up, though I can't feel a sadness about the uprooting process. Without it, I never would have discovered how beautiful and deep my roots truly are.
Friday, March 19, 2010