Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Difficulties

Dear friends,

Sometimes life presents problems.

Conversely, sometimes airlines create problems. I'm dealing with the latter at the moment. I sat on my suitcase, squished the air out, and it zipped. Shouldn't that mean it's good to go? No. It's 10 pounds over. I thought space was gonna be my issue, but it's a return once again to the ever present, ever ridiculous issue of every woman's life. Weight.

What I need is Kim, that master packer, who somehow manages to take every comfort and necessity overseas to Sudan.

HELP! (stay tuned for better news tomorrow...)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dormancy and Bloom

Chicago.

The rain, which has been full and steady all day, has turned to snow. I suspected it a few moments ago, when the tall dining-room bays that overlook a row of neighbors' backyards seemed to be framing something in the air more substantial than transparent water. I looked hard then, but a change into snow is easier to detect by accident than by close observation, and I walked away unsure. Water falls so fast. But now it has all become apparent, because it has all become snow. Things with less substance, like snowflakes, are easier to see. Do you find that as odd as it is?

I arrived less than two weeks ago and there weren't even buds on the bare tree branches lacing the city's streets. Now everything is spring green. The tulip trees (I don't know what they're really called) have budded and bloomed great big hand-sized flowers. Green leaves are already pushing the blooms off, and the beautiful shedding process has begun. It will leave pink-and-white carpeted circles on the ground for a few weeks more. In fact, the entire city is the light, Irish-yellowish green of spring. It took only several days for the huge tree outside my window to produce egg-sized buds, spring them open, and form Dr. Seuss-like pinwheels of tall cone flower topping four spikes which each drip six long, finger-like leaves. Only a few days. To move from nothing, to multiple plant formations each at least 8 inches in diameter. Spring is like a corpse coming to life again. I suppose that is the nature of the very word we use to describe it. "Spring." But I still find it shocking.

Dormancy can be so ugly, so bare, and so unpromising. There is little to distinguish it from deadness, if such is a word. Yet an entire world could fill the void between the two. In the one, life is being stored up, tucked away, harbored and secreted. In the other, life is utterly gone; the shell and carcase might as well be burned.

When my parents purchased their home, theirs and their neighbors' yards both sported trimmed Mulberry trees. Less than six feet tall, with trunks perhaps 6 inches in diameter, the trees look like miniatures. It's a mystery how long they've been here, continually trimmed back every year into a neat, ball-shaped package. Mom is a gardener, more along the lines of the rambling English cottage than the pin-tucked tightness of little brick ranch-houses, and she treats her plants the same way. Our two Mulberries were not trimmed into tight shapes the next year, though they've been judiciously pruned. The neighbors (new owners, now) still have their just-under-six-feet tall miniature trees, and my parents...two Mulberries now tower over their four-storey house, assisting squirrels who want to caper on the roof and visually overshadowing the hundred-year-old structure. Many years had those Mulberries remained in what seemed like stasis--small, awkward, not fully themselves. But how deep was the root system they spread during that time? How wide and strong did each become underground, while above it nothing was happening?

Spring and dormancy are like this in lives, in ministry. What exactly is God doing underground? How strong are the pruning and the trials and the hiddenness making us? And what will happen when He says "Now" and everything is unleashed to grow? Nutrition absorbed over years and years will shoot to the tips of short branches, bulging out in a space of days into blooms and fruit and stunning, light-catching, attention-arresting foliage. Pruning will always be needed and life-preserving, but those times when He chooses spring, those times that come at the end of a long but silent nourishment, are insurpassible in pleasure.

This, the bloom, is not only to be hoped for but to be expected, because we are not of those who are dead! Dormant, perhaps. Dead? Never again.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Foiled!

Well folks, a few days ago I found out that the airline I booked my ticket to Hawaii on went bankrupt! How random is that? I was having a hard day anyway, and that iced the cake, so to speak. As I prayed (and was anxious, I admit) about it, this not-so-famous scripture popped into my mind:

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"-- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
(Jam 4:13-16)


My dad often says "Lord willing" at the end of an "I'm going to..." sentence. I think I'll take up the habit.

Cufuffles like this are always unpleasant (my roommate told me this morning that I ground my teeth all night last night), but God has something for us in them. Tests, my friend Dwight Clough has said, are not meant as punishments, but to display the work that God has done in us. I've certainly reacted a bit differently to this than I might have a few years ago.

Sally just called, and I'm going to pop over to her place. I'll miss that when I live in HI! Here is a parting shot of what I'm expecting to see every morning...



Or something like that.

(oh, I've bought another ticket, the credit card company says they'll get my money back for the first ticket, and the enemy's plans to keep me from getting to Hawaii...or to keep me in turmoil about it...have been FOILED! Ah-HA!)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I'm Moving...

Well, my friends, it seems that during the times God is doing the most in my life, you (and my journal) hear the least from me. I’ve got a backing up of things to record that is shocking, and I’m not going to be able to share it all right here, since my nails have just reached that stage at which they’re a tad too long to type fast. (Have you ever noticed how that happens? One day they’re fine, and the next day they’re too long? And it’s not like I had some sort of big steak and calcium dinner last night either.)

Back to the point … I’m moving to Hawaii.

Yes! I’ve known it for some time, but it hasn’t seemed real, even to me. And when it didn’t seem real to me, I didn’t know how to make it sound serious when I told you. So, I tried to wait until it hit me a bit more. That, um, hasn’t happened. It might be because months upon unending months of winter chill and ice and snow here in Kansas City have blocked my heart from even knowing that such warm and balmy places as Oahu exist.

However, that is going to CRUMBLE when I step off the plane, so I might as well start believing before seeing. I just started reading a tourist guide a few days ago (though I won’t be a tourist), and have a plane ticket for April 28th, and am beginning to get excited. My brother and sister-in-law, Sam and Dora, live there. He is being deployed for six months, and I get to go keep Dora, Arden, and the little-unknown-one company while he’s gone.

The last few weeks here in KC I’ve been doing some adventuring (at least, what seems like adventuring to me). It involves moving out of my pretty little digs in Nicole’s house (poor, bare, empty room!), and earning some extra cash doing temp work. I’m currently stationed at a staffing company for truckers, doing things like employment and background checks. It’s a rather wild and woolly sort of place, and for some reason they love me, though I’ve been admonished to “stop sounding so nice on the phone…they won’t want to talk to us after they’ve been put on hold so sweetly.” In my first day of running through some pre-screening question with callers looking for jobs, two truckers confessed, frankly and apologetically, their previous felonies. Though I might have felt differently had they been face-to-face, I really wished I didn’t have to turn them down for jobs. They sounded so sorry about it. (I’m thinking I’m not cut out for this sort of work.)

Have you ever heard the perfect, stereotypical “how YOU doin’” line? I’ve only seen it in movies, but the other day two truckers treated me to the most quintessential rendition I expect to ever encounter. I barely kept a straight face, and managed only to stand at the fax machine with my back to them and laugh as silently as possible. I now wish I’d laughed right back at them and thanked them for the amusement. I don’t think they would have minded.

I’ve started praying for the truckers as I work with their files. Only thing I’m worried about is that my supervisors won’t love me quite so much if they happen to walk in while a strange language is fluttering off my lips and doing things in the spirit. But that’s ok. Working and praying is just way more fun than simply working. I like the word “abide”, and I’m noticing that He has increased my ability to walk within His presence even while I’m being very, very busy.

That’s enough regaling you with stories. Let’s get back (once again) to the point. I’m moving to Hawaii. My car is already half-stuffed with luggage, the two most beautiful dressers in the world are on their way to Indiana with the Adams (two of the most beautiful people in the world), my green rug is gracing Lizzie’s floor (and not quite matching, but I’m hoping she’ll keep it anyway), and I’m sharing a bed with Kim in Lizzie’s spare room. *Please note* -- one cannot DRIVE to Hawaii. That is not why my car is packed up. I’m driving to Chicago (arriving on Apr. 15th) and flying to Honolulu. Just wanted to clear that up, in case any of us are still laboring under the impression one of my previous bosses had—that the highways certainly go as far as Hawaii, since he’d seen cars driving around KC with Hawaii license plates.

I’m worried I’m going to miss Glorie worse than I can anticipate, and I know that life in KC will continue though I’m gone and can’t watch Anna Brinkmann turning into Anna Rogers or Jeremiah Hall getting taller or Winston breaking out of the yard twice a day (did you know that St. Bernards have the same ability as mice to spread themselves thin and squeeze through the narrowest spaces?). But there are some definite “yes’es” coming up in Hawaii, too, and I’m pretty sure God is the one who has been leading me toward them. I’ll share them as they happen.

(All you Chicago people, be forewarned…I’m going to want to hang out with you while I’m visiting!)