Saturday, December 31, 2011
Again I am sending my greeting,
To the friends who have brightened my way;
Who along with the years that are fleeting,
Unselfishly have been repeating,
Their kindness, despite my depleting;
Thus sweetly extending my stay.
This world would be dreary and cheerless
Were it not for the friends who abide,
When dangers impending, are fearless,
When sorrows assail, are not tearless,
When needed are present and peerless,
Who have proven both truly and tried.
What a comfort to have a great Brother,
Who while Savior and Kind, is our Friend,
When trials assail, will ever prevail,
When others deride will ever abide,
More constant than even a mother,
Our Advocate unto the end.
So over the year that is ending,
And across the days coming to me,
A heart-throb of love I am sending,
And praying for mercies unending,
God's grace all-sufficient defending
'Till sunset shall smile upon thee.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Below is an excerpt from one of my journalings for the devotional.
I think the thing to remember is our creation doesn't stop at our birth, or at the end of all of our growth spurts (when we look like adults). God forms us, in our mother's womb, before she even knew us (Psalm 139). He gives us a body, gives us a life, and then ushers us through it, giving us blessings and hardships along the way. Through our life experiences, he continues to create who we are in Him; that is, if we surrender to him and let him work in us. God's salvation didn't come at the birth of Jesus. His perfect plan was only made complete upon the sacrifice of his Son. The Advent season is about celebrating the coming of the Savior, but not the saving of the people. The Advent season is about the beginning of our salvation, but not the completion. Just like we must continually be tweaked and shaped and touched up to really become the men and women of God, so did Jesus, until he had completed the work God laid out for him. It wasn't until he was resurrected from the dead that our salvation was created, and it isn't until the day we see that Savior, really, that we are fully created to be who God intended.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Or is it the other way around?
The turbulent winds outside mirror the turbulent thoughts in my head. No, I'm not rainy or teary, but the finals A.D.D. is definitely kicking in, with thoughts and emotions racing around, making the windows of my soul whistle, like the wind outside does to 202's.
Why is it that in the moments you need to focus most, the wind picks up? It's a peculiar phenomenon, sparked by the turbulent powers of the world, this I know. I would have hoped by now that I would be impervious to these powers, or at least wind-proof. Alas, the whipping wind always finds the cracks, the chinks, the loose seals. It finds the places you haven't locked up tight, the places you're still vulnerable.
Vulnerable. What a scary word. Dictionary.com says it means:
1. Capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon.
2. Open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.
3. (Of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend.
It's formed from the Latin words that mean "to wound" and "-ble." Par for the course, since we spend our entire lives trying to lock up tight--keep every breeze out--become an impenetrable fortress--nothing gets through to hurt me. Funny how it doesn't work.
...such is the human condition...
We can strive and rant and rail and rage against the world, the wind, the sun and the rain, and yet...we still find ourselves with wind-chills down our backs at the most inconvenient of times. Seems pretty futile, if you ask me.
I look out the window again just now, and it's sunny. The sun has broken through those gray clouds, kissing the autumn-dead leaves, making them look copper, not dead and brittle as they did five minutes ago.
To be wind-proof, you really need to be weather-proof. To be weather proof, you need to live underground, in a cement bunker. The problem with living in a cement bunker is you can't see the copper, sun-kissed leaves that come with the poignant beauty of a turbulent autumn day. The problem with a cement bunker, is you don't see the jewel-like rain drops trapped on a window screen, you don't see the blue stripes in the sky, you don't hear the power of the wind ripping through those copper leaves.
Is it the same with our own bodily bunker? The world tells us to lock ourselves up tight: don't let anyone or anything in without your permission, without you opening that cement bunker of a heart. Is that really what I want? Do I want to be life-proof? Some days, when the wind is whipping, the leaves are brittle, the sky is dark, and my mood mirrors it all, yes, I do want to be life-proof. But it never fails that something, a little ray of sunshine, a little stripe of blue, a glint of copper, a jeweled raindrop is given to me by the Ultimate Bunker. I wouldn't have noticed all those little beauties, had it not been for the miserably gray weather from earlier. But...now it is gray again, windy and wicked. Again, my windows are vulnerable to the sharp winds. Seems like we'll never win: cement and life-proof, or glass and vulnerable. One ensures protection from everything, the other offers the chance of seeing beauty, even if it only one glimpse at a time.
Conundrum. It's quite the catch-22, it seems. We each have a decision to make: are we going to be solid, cemented, impenetrable fortresses, or are we going to have with drafty windows that are bejeweled with raindrops? If I'd asked myself this question before now, I would have quickly answered "impenetrable" without a second thought. Now, I would argue that I wouldn't have really had a first thought then either. Now, I'd choose the drafty windows. How do you know you're alive if you can't feel that wind leaking in to your home? I'll take the gray days, the racing thoughts, the A.D.D., the icy wind, if it means I can have the beautiful, crunchy copper, the brilliant blue stripes, and the roaring power of the wind.
Vulnerability isn't just about being available for hurt or discomfort or frustration. It's about being available for those glances of beauty and moments of triumph and those hidden blessings that only the icy wind can bring.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
But I can’t shake the feeling that this year is very reminiscent of freshman year. Sure, as seniors we’re smarter, better adjusted, and older, but I’d venture to say that seniors cut loose just as much as freshies--we just do it legally ;)
No, it’s not the cliche “I feel young again,” because typical seniors in college aren’t exactly old...it’s more of a feeling of everything coming full circle. Seniors are on the brink of change, about to venture out of the fun, exciting microcosm of Athens (or another college town) and into the grind.
Because of this, we slam as much as possible into our days--and nights--to stuff our memories with time in DT Athens, football weekends, camping excursions, frisbee Fridays, too frat to care Tuesdays, house parties, and more...So we can say, one day, in truth that college was the most fun time in our life. In reality, Freshman and Senior years are the best times in our lives, sophomore and junior years we just trudge through to get here.
Moreover...allow me to wax philosophical for a moment: perhaps Senior year is reminiscent of freshman year because we spend so much time reminiscing on that time and (hopefully) considering how far we’ve come.
Yes, self reflection is egocentric, too pensive, and sometimes misty-eyed.
But it has occurred to me that if you have no period of self reflection on your life and your past then you have not solidified within your attitudes and values the lessons you’ve learned.
Without at time of self reflection to think and talk about how much you’ve grown, you cannot actually grow. You must be able to objectively examine your experience, mistakes, and adventures and pick out things that have made you who you are as a big, bad senior. Without these realizations, you’ll do the big bad senior thing, but you’ll just be a big old freshman at heart.
If you don’t realize what lessons you’ve learned, it never becomes a part of who you are. Why? Because if you can’t think or talk about the lessons you’ve learned and how they've changed you...then you haven’t learned them.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Maybe that's why I'm writing: because I don't know the answer to that question, and I'm not entirely convinced this is an unimportant writing.
I think the better question here is: why do I not always make time to stop and smell the roses? We just returned from a retreat to Emily's (my best friend/sister/heterosexual life mate) family farm in Alabama this weekend, where we had mandatory "manna before manna" every morning...requiring us to get up, take a walk, get into the spiritual manna before we were allowed breakfast. I cannot begin to describe how calming it is to watch the mist rise over rolling hills, watch the sun burn through the night's leftover haze, listen to the birds awaken and start singing praises, listen to the soft crunch of grass and pine needles under my feet, and breathe in the beautiful morning air. And I'm not even a morning person...
We were forced to stop and smell the roses...or the grass, as it were...each morning this weekend, and yet when we came back here, I immediately fell willingly back into the grind of packing every moment with schoolwork or meaningless facebooking! (And yes, spell check, facebooking is a verb...time for you to play catch-up.) Do I have to flee the city and stay in an old farmhouse to relish waking up with the sun every morning? Do I have to abandon my schoolwork to take the time to take a walk? Sure, I walk every morning...from my parking deck, across two streets, down several sidewalks, and up cement stairs into my building, where I happily (or unhappily...depending on the day) remain. But I'm always rushing, always thinking of what car might hit me as I jaywalk, struggling to remember which level of the deck my car is on, where my keys are, and always always making sure I don't spill my morning coffee.
Not exactly smelling the roses, or crape myrtles lining the sidewalks.
I guess I just needed to sort out what it is that is so refreshing about a morning walk, a calm, quiet time before the world bustles awake...It's that sense of quiet companionship that I think all of us crave in one form or another. For some, a book and a cup of tea is perfect; for others, it's a dog; for more it's a date with someone special; for me, it's a walk alone in Creation with my Creator.
So here's the fun part: I want to see if you'll do this with me: I dare you to wake up before you have to and talk a walk, around your apartment complex, down your street, into a forest, wherever you are. If you're not so sure about the Creator bit, that's fine, just take the time to appreciate the morning. And I ask you to dare me to do the same. This means that I'll have to go to bed earlier than normal if I'm to walk before my 8am. Bad dare on my part? Somehow I still don't think so.
Maybe it's my procrastinator's spirit coming out, but I wish I took the time to stop and smell the proverbial roses more often than I do...because, really, they smell pretty dern good.
Friday, September 2, 2011
In case you missed that...Solomon, the Wise King, son of David, was a naturalist. He was gifted with insight into the natural world by the God of Creation. How AWESOME!
The God. Of the Universe. The One that created all this stuff. Is telling. Solomon. About how He did it. WHAT?
Solomon, did you write this stuff down? Because I'm praying you did, I'm praying that your writings are in some ancient library somewhere, that they didn't get burned with the library of Alexandria. I know this is totally a thin limb I'm standing on...but from a purely scientific standpoint....This is a discovery that would change everything we know now. It would change our entire timeline of scientific discovery.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Just finished reading a book by Elisabeth Elliot called Passion and Purity. It's about her journey with God and with her eventual husband, Jim Elliot. They were in and out of contact, sure of their love for one another for around 5 years before marrying. The closest they came to "dating" was the letters they began writing to each other after he confessed his love for her and his assurance that God had, at least for a time, called him to remain single.
I'd venture to say that everyone who reads this book knows that it was written by an older woman, steeped in traditions that are not common traditions of today. Indeed, Elisabeth and Jim were married in 1953, which means he confessed his love for her in 1948. Yes, she is an older woman. Yes she is steeped in traditions that are no longer common. Many would write off this book--I am tempted to do so, myself--as antiquated and...well...antiquated. Elisabeth--"Bett," to her beloved Jim--knew this would be the thought, even as she wrote the book. She constantly assured me, as I turned page after page, that this life she led/leads is doable for all who wish to answer the call.
Talk about stopping you in your tracks. In this book, their diligence to the letter of God's calling, and her frank attitude about it all, is quite unlike anything I've encountered before. How can they so both so matter-of-fact-ly accept that--though they have an undeniable, deep, and abiding love for one another--they may never marry each other or anyone else? How? The world, and everyone else, always talks about how man and woman are made for each other. This is true, we were made to be compatible, to fit.
But that is not the design that Elisabeth and Jim focus on. Instead, they choose to answer the call put out in the New Testament: -Mathew 19:12: "For while some are incapable of marriage because they were born so, or were made so by me, there are others who have themselves renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let those accept it who can." -1 Corinthians 7:34-35: "The unmarried or celibate woman cares for the Lord's business; her aim is to be dedicated to him in body as in spirit; but the married woman cares for worldly things; her aim is to please her husband. In saying this I have no wish to keep you on a tight reign. I am thinking simply of your own good, of what is seemly, and of your freedom to wait upon the Lord without distraction."
Would I be willing to make that call, if it were placed on my heart? It hasn't, as of yet, but if it does...what then? Do I accept my fate quietly, like the turning of a page? I know the correct answer: "Yes." I know my heart's answer: "It would be nigh impossible." I know better than to worry about that now: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble on its own." (Mathew 6:34).
Returning to the unanswered question (which is also tied to the single-life question): Is Elisabeth and Jim Elliot's path of yesteryear achievable in the here and now? If we are to listen to Elisabeth, the answer is a resounding "YES." If we are to listen to any other source, the answer could be "maybe," or "no," or "who cares?" I think what it comes down to is a couple of things: 1) Do you care enough to try? and 2) Wherein does your hope lie? If the answer to #1 is "no," I will still tell you to hear me out 'till the end. If your answer to #1 is "yes," proceed to question #2. If you do not know the answer to #2, spend some time with yourself, honestly considering the potential answers.
I think the place, person, or idea in which you place your hope is key in determining whether or not this kind of life you can achieve. For Elisabeth, her hope was in God, her Creator. She knew, by faith, that her Creator knew better than she, knew that He had grander plans than she could imagine, knew that He was the only one who saw the entire picture, while she (and the rest of us) are like near-sighted horses with blinders on. Because of all of that, she could be at peace, knowing that if she was denied this great pleasure, He would still be her God, and she would be His beloved daughter, heir to the kingdom.
Elisabeth even wrote a "leaflet" to this effect, which I will copy here:
Be still and know that He is God. When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste your soul. Use that stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge.
Remember that you are not alone. "The Lord, He it is that doth go with thee. He will not fail thee neither forsake thee. Be strong and of good courage (Deut. 31:8). Jesus promised His disciples, "Lo, I am with you always" (Matt. 28:20). Never mind if you cannot feel His presence. He is there, never for one moment forgetting you.
Give thanks. In times of my greatest loneliness I have been lifted up by the promise of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, "For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not o the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen." This is something to thank God for. This loneliness itself, which seems a weight, will be far outweighed by glory.
Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.
Accept your loneliness. It is one stage, and only one stage, on a journey that brings you to God. It will not always last.
Offer up your loneliness to God, as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. God can transform it for the good of others,
Do something for somebody else. No matter who or where you are, there is something you can do, somebody who needs you. Pray that you may be an instrument of God's peace, that where there is loneliness you may bring joy.
Yes, the loneliness she speaks of is a life without marriage, but it is also applicable to the loneliness in living a life of purity...because, let's face it, in today's world, it's a fairly lonely life. But, if Elisabeth is to be believed, and I think she is, then it's a full life: full of hope, of love (deeper, even, than love between a married couple), of strength, and of eternality.
Here's to striving for a full life, one that's worth the wait and the heartache.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
So, when I was little, I'm pretty sure I always preferred pirates to princesses. If not back then, I do now! We had around 30 "professional" pirates from the Atlanta Pirate and Wench Guild (timeout, WHAT? We have a Pirate guild in Atlanta?? http://www.meetup.com/movies-465/), and we had a princess and a knight from Medieval Times. But, I'm getting ahead of myself...my day began long before the pirates and wenches and royalty...It began around 9am.
First, we brought up box after box of newspaper for our recyclable pirate hats and princess crowns...yes, my fingers were blackened...again...by hours of playing with newspaper.
Then, we had to blow up the inflatable pirate ship...and test it!
Yes, that’s Tim (top photo), our Mr. Fix-it, who always jingles with keys, always has a coffee mug, and can fix anything, from exhibits to squeaky paper cutters. And that’s Reid, frolicking on the ship. Yes, they’re both grown men grinning like 6 year olds!
And pirates wanting captain’s hats:
And crazy boating pirates:
And shy pirates:
And tattoo artists:
And precious daddy-princess pairs:
And pirate families seeking quiet overlooks:
And did I mention people??
And little pirates with big pirates:
And did I mention lots of pirates??
Who brought their own pirate photographer:
Anyways, that’s kind of how my day looked. Except all these shots of single people don’t really capture the fact that by 12 noon, there were roughly 1200 people in the museum already. By the way…the museum opens at 10 am.
By 2pm, our fingers were blackened, our booted feet were hurting, but we were all still having a good time:
As the event wrapped up, we put the hats away, and the tattoos away, and the ship away, and the tables away…but the music kept beckoning, and the pirates kept dancing. The pirates and wenches are the types to have fun wherever they go, even if it’s a kids’ event at a natural history museum. For all I know, the pirates are still partying under the dinosaurs. Best part of the afternoon?The pirate guild invited me out to the pubs to find the rum …
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
Okay, so…I’ve never done this before. I made my own website when I was like…10 and went to one of those sweet Discovery camps, but I’ve never blogged. It can’t be that hard, it’s like a journal on the internet. I guess I’ll learn as I go! This is private because Fernbank would have to approve anything I say as an employee, so I’m hoping to loophole this since it’s a personal, private thing. Because really, I want to share this with you, and I don’t want to do it as a representative of the Museum, I want to do it as your friend and/or family member.
We’ve (Reid—fellow intern—and I) been doing this for over a month, and I’ve already learned more in June than I thought I would! Lucky for me, my majors in school focus on mammals and other primarily terrestrial animals. However, here at Fernbank, the focus is on mollusks, ancient animals, and kids. Yes, I link all three of those together as if they are all in the same category, because…let’s face it, they are. ;) The kids that visit are, for the most part, well behaved, intelligent, small people. But kids-r-kids, and some are really…well…kid like. Frankly, my dog listens better than some of these children. It happens, I know I wasn’t an angel when I was three either. I’m just sayin’.
So, back to my original point, I’m thankful that the information I’m learning here is not a constant repeat of the information I’m learning at Warnell. It’s nice to step away from school and still learn new things. But it's nice to be in the "real world" too, instead of taking more classes. Learning outside the classroom is just as, if not more beneficial to developing yourself..or I think so anyway. I'm learning not only natural resource information, but also people skills, diplomacy, respect, teaching skills, and I'm learning more about who I want to become.
People are hard to deal with. Let's face it. Even the most easygoing person out there isn't going to be pleased all the time. And the biggest thing is (this is where diplomacy comes into play), you can't just say what you want to say when you want to say it. Being in the public eye, and being a part of a big organization makes you double-check yourself before saying anything. It's hard to learn when to keep my mouth shut--thanks, Omi, I come by that honestly--but keeping your mouth shut and being diplomatic is SO important in a public-eye-job like this. For example...ever seen kid-leashes? I have. Even hand-cuff leashes with retractable leash...you know, like those dog leashes? Yeah. Mama, Daddy, did you ever want to put me on a leash? Maybe you, as parents, can shed some light on this trend? Please feel free to comment on this post if you have some insight.
But, I haven't bitten anyone...I haven't even considered it. Although, speaking of biting, my favorite question I've ever received from anyone at the museum is...."Does it bite?" This question occurs when I am helping with animal walkarounds (we take an animal or two out onto the museum floor so people can see them and kids 4+ can touch them...don't get me started on 4- kids that like to grab). So here I am, holding a leopard gecko (which by the way, isn't more than 8inches long, including it's fat tail), and I get asks if it bites. My usual response is..."can you bite?" "uh..yes?" "Well, so can it!" I then say something like, "If someone stuck their hand in my face or squeezed me or was mean to me, I'd consider biting them too." Is this scary for 6-year-olds? I'm trying to help them realize that yes, everything bites, but, I wouldn't let them touch this animal if I knew it was calm, and when correctly handled, wouldn't freak. Let me know if I shouldn't say that. I'm working on my patience, but I know that sometimes I can be blunt, and I don't want that to affect someone's museum visits.
Anyways, I think that's all for me, for now. I look forward to hopefully getting some comments! If not, that's cool too :)