Sunday, January 22, 2006

Renewal Begins

Today was the first full day of the conference. A whole day spent in prayer and song and meditation, in seeking God's face and not His hand.

I had it in my head that renewal would happen a certain way, at a certain time, and that I had to do certain things to make it happen. How easily I forget that I belong to a sovereign God of mystery, that apart from Him I can do nothing, and that I can work out my salvation in fear and trembling only because God first works in me.

And so, before our first session even starts, he breaks my heart. I sit down next to a friend from high school who happens to work out here at HQ, and I'm thinking, "Okay, we'll catch up, have a little small talk before things get started." After the "How've you been?" I follow up with the "So what have you been up to?" And she shares, quietly and matter of factly, that her mother is not doing well, and the doctors have given her a couple weeks. And my gaze is wrenched from the spirituality to be discovered in my navel, my heart breaks, and renewal begins.

Friday, January 20, 2006

On the road again...(or more accurately, in the air...)

Willie Nelson couldn't wait to get on the road again. Frankly, I am exhausted by the mere thought of it.

Tomorrow morning (barring delays due to the 3-6 inches of snow we're supposed to receive tonight) I leave for another week in Colorado, this time for WorldVenture's annual Renewal Conference. I love traveling. I love our missionaries and my long-distance co-workers. I love Colorado. And Renewal--true-and-lasting-down-in-the-depths-of-my-soul Renewal--sounds so heavenly, literally, that I could cry.

A year ago at this same exact time I felt like "running away" to Colorado was exactly what I needed. Today I'm feeling like it's the last thing I need. But what do I know about what I need?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Inevitability of Things

It never fails. It's always on the Wednesday nights that I look, let's just say, less than my best (I was about to say "like crap" right there, but then I remembered that one must be careful with metaphors, and none to quick to liken one's appearance to excrement, unless of course one has had the misfortune to stumble into a pile of dung) that an acquaintance from my past will wander into my B&N and happen upon me as I am dutifully manning the info desk or standing behind the register.

And every time, after we've exchanged polite conversation and they've continued on their merry shopping way, I find myself wondering about the statistical probability of oversleeping, sporting bad hair, suffering an angsty outbreak of hormone-induced adult acne, deciding to wear the infamous chunky blue wool "fat day sweater", and encountering a prior acquaintance while working retail, all on the same day.

And then, when I'm done with statistics (which is pretty soon thereafter since numbers aren't my thing), I start wondering what they think of me... the popular girl I sang with in high school treble choir... that cute, bubbly girl from the badminton team... my friend's Woody Allen look-a-like ex-boyfriend... or, in the case of last night, the hot guy and his wife who lived in the apartment below mine in college.

And then, after I've let my imagination put all kinds of unkind thoughts in their heads, I inevitably begin berating myself once again for caring what they think; for feeling somehow "lowly" because they "caught me" in a position of customer servitude; for feeling the need to justify my place by clarifying that I have a perfectly respectable day job, and that I moonlight as a bookseller "just for fun"; for believing the lie that the way I appear on the outside on any given day has a direct bearing on my overall worth.

I wish I didn't care what other people think of how I look or what I do or what I've accomplished in life. How I wish I was so secure in my identity as a servant of the King, as a co-heir with Christ, as the chosen dwelling place of the Holy Spirit that I could daily go about the responsibilities to which I am called with true joy and contentment and security in who I am and who I am becoming. How I wish my love for and obedience to Him were inevitable, and not this selfish depravity I battle daily.

How much I need grace.

Oh, the things they'll patent.

What's that eerie green glow coming from the toilet? Is it nuclear run-off? No, it's the Johnny-Light!

Okay, this is just so absurd I had to share it. Of the below, it's hard to determine which I found the most shocking and/or amusing:
a) that enough marital disputes occur due to nighttime toilet ettiquette to warrant this device and the selling point "Cheaper than a marriage counselor!" (married friends, leave a comment and chime in on this one!)
b) that every year 49,000 Americans are injured in toilet-related accidents
c) the explanation: "For men, green means go. For women, green means watch out below!"
d) that the website plays an instrumental "This Little Light of Mine"
e) that it's billed as a great gift for Mother's Day, Father's Day, Bachelor Parties, and Bridal Showers

Yes, folks, the Johnny-Light: "Lighting the Way to Family Harmony"!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

More Neighbor Drama

Just when I'd started to breath easier about coming and going from my apartment, I met Miguel in the parking lot when I got home from a meeting at church Monday evening. We chatted as we walked upstairs; I divulged that I was coming home from church, and learned that he was just getting home from work, which consists of remodeling in the winter and general construction during the warmer months. So far, so good. We arrive at our doors, and we say goodnight.

Exiting my apartment yesterday morning, I discover a post-it note stuck to the baseboard outside my door (see Exhibit A, below). Although his willingness to attend church is endearing, any hope I'd had that Miguel is simply interested in building up a little neighborly rapport was squelched by the heart and the lips. LIPS! Apparently Miguel is from the School of Coming on Strong...or an avid Pictionary player.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Another New Year...Happy Indeed

[Hey guess what! Today is the one year anniversary of my first blog post. It seems only fitting that I am about to blog about the same event, one year removed! Hooray for the stability of tradition.]

Almost a week into the New Year I am still feeling a little sleep deprived from the all festivities and travel, but my love tank remains at "overflowing," having spent almost a week with a large contingent of my dearest friends. Chris & Janelle hosted our 7th annual Taylor & Friends New Years Extravaganza at their beautiful, cozy home in Evans, CO and it was a smashing good time.

This year's festivities included hiking through the snow at RMNP; skiing (for some) at Loveland and providing ski commentary (for others) at Copper Mountain; lots and lots of kareoke (enough to prompt Heather to observe that few groups could have that much fun with a kareoke machine while sober); movies; games; knitting; cuddling with Charlie; bonding in the basement; "gossiping" about old news in the girls bathroom; dinner at a crazy Mexican restaurant; almost country line dancing; an incredible time of sharing, prayer, and worship; original songs by Heather Baker; several yummy meals prepared by various combinations of people; and such an abundance of love and laughter to make my cheeks ache and my heart rejoice.

Below (in a separate post because the photo uploader is driving me crazy at the moment) are a few of my favorite pics.

Shiny, Happy People

Snow posers at RMNP
Middle: Commentary bunnies at Copper Mountain
Bottom: All Dolled Up and No Place to Hoe Down

The Big Nine-Seven

I'd like to give a birthday shout out to my grandpa, Sture (pronounced Stir-ee), who celebrated his 97th birthday yesterday. Yes, that means he was born in 1909. Crazy to think about, huh?

I went to visit him last night and we talked about Dusty Baker's mismanagement of the Cubs, the male/female ratio of big winners on Wheel of Fortune and what I need to do to in order to get on the show, my brother's potential as a professional bowler (one of Grandpa's favorite topics these days), life in Kuwait, and learning English as a Second language as a kid when all he knew was Swedish.

He also shared this nugget of wisdom, gleaned from one of his birthday cards: "The secret to a long life is to keep having birthdays." Thanks for showing us how it's done, Grandpa.