October 9, 2011

i'm a bad friend


ooooh hi! remember me? it's okay if you don't. it's not like i've been posting much...um, or ever.

you know, one of the things about having a blog is the tension of feeling like you need to write in it, while trying to weigh the importance of what you're going to say. or debating if there's anything worth saying.

it's kind of like when you have a friend who lives far away. at first, you regularly call and catch up, and you can chat about everything! you talk about how beautiful today was, or the project going on at work, or the ridiculous thing you overheard in the grocery store. you touch base on the real things too - faith, relationships, emotional well-being. but those things come out of the regular conversation. 

but then, you go a few weeks without talking, and then a few months. and suddenly, that phone call feels like too much. how can you possibly catch your friend up on every single thing that's happened in the last six months? you've been to the grocery store dozens of times and heard multiple ridiculous things! you've gone through cycles of "everything's awesome, everything's awful!" you've heard sermons you loved and sermons you've hated! how can you possibly recap all of those things in a phone conversation! that would be impossible!

so you just don't call at all; there's too much to catch up on to get started now. 

and that's how i've been with this blog. there's too much to catch up on! so i just haven't written a thing. 

so! let's change that!

1) i am officially employed as the summer camp director at ligonier camp. full time employment! a salary! benefits! a house and purpose! a job i love working for a ministry that has changed my life! there's a lot to this that i'm still unpacking and figuring out, but the end result is that i'm blessed.

2) my house is awesome. i mean, it's just material stuff, but um, i love it. my furniture from mcconnellsburg made the move, and i have a great tv on which i'm watching the steelers pound the titans. hines ward just jumped right over a man into the end zone. so there's that!

3) sometimes i'm really lonely, but mostly things are great in the social realm. i have great community; i just need to adjust to the off-season flow of it. 

4) i've been doing a lot of thinking and research into updating website stuff and publishing stuff for camp, which has lead me into the world of looking at macs. so many monies! but i'm ready to have the right tools to do my job. that's part of my personality, i've discovered, and it's one i inherited from my dad. the big question: am i ready to move to macs after growing up PC all the way?

5) some benefits to living in ligonier in the fall include a bounty of wild apples, pawpaws, and the arrival of hunting season. we're livin' off the land! i've made apple crisp, apple chips, and i'm investigating pawpaw recipes. and michele's responsible for "catching" me a deer. 

i mean, i think that'll do for now. my hope is to be more disciplined in writing in here, so you don't just get bulk updates. i'd like to think i have more worthwhile things to say.

April 19, 2011

A List! Because Goodness Abounds!

you know, if i'm good at anything, i'm good at dwelling in anxiety. i can spend all day in a cloud of worry, and i can spend all night dreaming about the same stuff (in fact, i had a couple of dreams about staffing last night - it was ridiculous).

but for all my worry and fear, for all my doubts and uncertainty, there are many wonderful things in my life. and rainy tuesdays are good days to list the things in life that are simply awesome. so here are a few:

- spicy and delicious homemade ginger syrup, used to make equally spicy and delicious ginger lime cocktails, to be shared with awesome friends.

- mario kart marathons. and if you think this is going to be the only nerdy thing on this list, think again. you clearly don't know me. 

- good beer by way of a reasonably priced victory variety pack. hop devil, golden monkey, victory pils, and victory lager - yum. 

- God's providence with staffing, as more and more people (especially dudes) submit applications for a summer of ministry.

- job stuff is...well it's not all gloom and doom. there are good options on the table. if i could just surrender my anxiety, things would really be looking up!

- a brand new, totally soft, really warm micro fleece with the ligonier logo emblazoned on the front. for cheap! i love it.

- enjoying the extended editions of the lord of the rings via netflix, while simultaneously re-reading the books (i told you there was more nerdiness to come!).

- time spent with lots of friends - neighbors & visitors alike, who are encouraging, funny, and just all-around wonderful.

- conversations with amy, who patiently listens and faithfully prays for me, even while abroad in germany with her own worries.

- little people (dylan and james, duh) who shout and run to say hi every time i see them. it consistently makes my day.

- netflix. i just...i love netflix. that's all. 

- bread pudding, wii fun, and good tv for tonight!

- simple photoshop tutorials that make my point and shoot camera look like a dslr of awesomeness.




grapfruit edit

- green returns to the trees! spring & the promise of summer! warm days! thunderstorms! delight!

- the promise of vacation, mere weeks away

so things are good. great, even. today is a quieter day in the office, but things in life are happening the way they should - which is to say, as God has set them out to be. my prayers for patience, trust, and courage are answered at the right times. and there are plenty of blessings to temper my anxiety - i just need to take the time to see them.

April 12, 2011

No Coward Soul is Mine

i went home this weekend to see the mercersburg area community chorus perform their spring concert. one of the things i miss most since moving from home is being able to sing with the chorus, so seeing the performance was bittersweet.


sitting in the chapel, hearing an orchestra and gorgeous choral music - i understand it's not for everyone. but it made me long to be up there making the music with everyone. i imagine athletes must feel this way when they watch someone else play their sport: it's fun to watch, but you'd rather be in the game.

the concert featured two major works: the first, haydn's famous oratorio the creation, and a newly commissioned piece by ola gjeilo entitled no coward soul is mine, whose lyrics are drawn from the poem of the same name by emily bronte. gjeilo composed the piece for the community chorus this year, to honor their 35th anniversary. i got to hear it performed for the first time -- and it was beautiful. its first performance has been uploaded to youtube - here it is:

the lyrics (or the poem, i suppose) felt especially poignant to me while i'm in a season of waiting, wondering, doubting, and more waiting. so here it is:

"no coward soul is mine" 

no coward soul is mine,
no trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:
i see heaven's glories shine,
and faith shines equal, arming me from fear.

o God within my breast
almighty, ever-present Deity!
life -- that in me has rest,
as i -- undying Life -- have power in thee!

vain are the thousand creeds
that move men's hearts: unutterably vain;
worthless as withered weeds,
or idlest froth amid the boundless main,

to waken doubt in one
holding so fast by thine infinity;
so surely anchored on
the steadfast rock of immortality.

with wide-embracing love
thy spirit animates eternal years,
pervades and broods above,
changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.

though earth and man were gone,
and suns and universes ceased to be,
and Thou were left alone,
every existence would exist in Thee.

there is not room for Death,
nor atom that his might could render void:
thou -- THOU are Being and Breath,
and what THOU are may never be destroyed.

- emily bronte

February 12, 2011


do you know me? if you're reading this you probably do. i don't think i get a ton of random traffic here. or, well, much of any traffic for that matter. but whatever! it's time for me to share one of my great loves: deep analysis of popular culture. in other words:


of all of my personality quirks, i embrace my nerdiness with the most relish and joy. i am unabashedly in love with using words like unabashedly. i have an opinion about oxford commas, and i'd be willing to share it with you (even you, vampire weekend). i have not only read the age of innocence, but i've read it about 8 times and i could argue that it gives a much fuller picture of femininity and the complexities of love than any jane austen novel. i think barnett newman's abstract expressionism is real dumb (i mean "zips?" really??) but i love me some rothko (even if admitting that makes me feel like i lose a little indie art cred). i recognize and love my over-use of parenthetical asides in my casual writing (this is the fourth one for this paragraph alone!). and i know that even right this very moment, i'm digging myself deeper and deeper into the bottomless pit that is my nerdiness, and i do. not. care.

but here's my not-so-secret confession: i'm just as happy listening to puccini as i am memorizing the ludacris rap in justin bieber's baby. i love reading short stories from literary magazines, but i can as easily spend my time reading a celebrity news blog. sure, i occasionally like to think i can rise above pop culture on the wings of bach and flannery o'connor and npr. but i know i'm a participant. and not just any participant, a gleeful one.

and i'm here to tell you - the greatest thing about being a nerd is the total lack of tension that comes with using a ten dollar word in describing a two cent tv show.

in other words, being a smarty pants and talking about stuff that's real dumb? COUNT ME IN.

over time, i've found more and more incredibly smart people talking about popular culture. in fact, i would say some of the most intellectually satisfying things i've encountered over the last few months all fall into that category. and man do i want to participate in that conversation! maybe (because of the crushing unlikelihood) not as a pop culture correspondent for npr, but at least with some friends.

twitter is kind of awesome for enabling little bite-sized quips and observations. but the best things i'm seeing right now are as follows:

npr's monkey see - hosted by linda holmes, the blog itself is full of terrific insights: reviews of everything from comic books to theater productions, to the bachelor. but my true love is the weekly podcast entitled pop culture happy hour, in which four npr writers/edtiors/friends sit down and chat about the week's events. the show is snappy, whip-smart, hilarious, and insightful. imagine four of the smartest people you know cracking wise about friday night lights and passionately defending community. it's my favorite.

television without pity - some argue that television without pity lost its teeth when it was acuqired by nbc owned network bravo, but i'd say there are still enough things about it that make it worth visiting. primarily a recapping site, TWoP balances deep analysis with hilarity quite well. they archive all of the shows they've covered, and i can tell you that the recaps of buffy the vampire slayer have made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions.

and finally, the a.v. club - you want smart? you want funny? you want real, thoughtful, deep analysis of last week's glee and why it didn't measure up to the other episodes? go to the onion's a.v. club. seriously. these people know how to write about pop culture. they know how to articulate their arguments, and they know how to do it right. i could literally read this all day. they cover music, film, books, and tv. and i think they're some of the best people out there writing about it.

so yeah. i'm a nerd. are YOU a nerd? do you wanna talk bout buffy with me? or glee? or anything at all? do you work for any of those websites and you want to give me a job? no? okay, that's cool too.

February 5, 2011

Rain and Gloom, Or How I (re)Discovered God's Faithfulness in February


the last two months have been a challenge. i packed up my cozy room in mcconnellsburg. i said tearful goodbyes to my church family and, you know, my regular one. i said goodbye to one tiny town and hello to another tiny town.

i moved to camp.


and if you know me, you know i love camp. it felt so strange to be away from it this summer. away from the games, the routine, the songs and skits and staff. so the opportunity to be back - and not just back, but back starting in january - sounded fantastic. it sounded like where i was supposed to be.


but when the time to leave rolled around, it felt less like that. i realized how much home felt like, well, home. leaving felt absurd and scary. but at that point, it's not like there was much of a choice left to make; it was time to go.


and now i'm here. the work is good work. i have community, and a job that matters. i live in a cozy house:


and i live with friends and neighbors who are caring, loving, and gracious. even with all that, the transition has been rough around the edges at times. i leapt headfirst into a time consuming and pretty intense job. and even with the familiarity of camp and the surrounding area, there's a level of feeling out of place that comes and goes.


in other words, it's not home yet.


today i gave a family with three sons a tour of the property and answered their questions about camp. and while i was telling them about everything we do, i remembered how much this place can feel like home. i remembered how precious my summers have been here, and i remembered how much i love being here.


so this afternoon, i decided to go for a walk. the weather here is downright gross today. it's rainy, gloomy, muddy and wet. yesterday would've been a much better day to trek about, with the sun out and the bright blue sky, but today felt right. it's not too cold, and the rain isn't too heavy. and the more i looked, the more beautiful the day became.


i don't mean to sound too melodramatic here. it's not like i've been slogging through some emotional turmoil and i finally had some breakthrough today. "i've been so sad, but now i see that the sad is beautiful!" ha, not this time. i'm actually quite happy, but the confusion and transition felt a little messy.


today it was nice to be out in the mess and enjoy it. it's not that photogenic, it's not the ideal day to show off our property, or to take a lot of photos for my blog to impress you with the beauty of my surroundings. but it's where i am right now, and today i remembered that the lord put me here with great intentionality. he put me here, because here is where i'm supposed to be. he put me here in the middle of winter, when there are no kids, when it snows all the time, when it's cold and icy.


he put me here to accomplish his purposes for me, no matter how vague or distant they might feel to me right now. and he calls me to enjoy it, not just in the summer. not just on the bright and beautiful days, but always.


December 19, 2010

The Annunciation

The Annunciation, 1898, by Henry Ossawa Tanner.

an angel came to me
and i was unprepared
to be what God was using.
mother i was to be.
a moment i despaired,
thought briefly of refusing.
the angel knew i heard.
according to God's Word
i bowed to this strange choosing.

a palace should have been
the birthplace of a king
(i had no way of knowing).
we went to bethlehem;
it was so strange a thing.
the wind was cold, and blowing,
my cloak was old, and thin.
they turned us from the inn;
the town was overflowing.

God's Word, a child so small
who still must learn to speak
lay in humiliation
joseph stood, strong and tall.
the beasts were warm and meek
and moved with hesitation.
the Child was born in a stall?
i understood it: all
Kings come in adoration.

perhaps it was absurd
a stable set apart,
the sleepy cattle lowing;
and the incarnate Word
resting against my heart.
my joy was overflowing.
the shepherds came, adored
the folly of the Lord
wiser than all men's knowing.

- o simplicitas, madeleine l'engle

December 5, 2010

Chorus, Christmas, & the Coming Lord

This is the weekend of the community chorus concerts, which means I've been singing and singing and singing. This afternoon is the last one, which is kind of bittersweet. I'm looking forward to a little respite for my voice, but I do love singing with the chorus.

The chorus does a spring concert and a winter concert, though the "winter concert" would be better described as a Christmas concert. All of our selections are about Christmas in one way or another. This year we're singing selections from Rachmaninoff's Vespers and Bach's Christmas Oratorio, and a bunch of other stuff including an arrangement of Star in the East with a hammered dulcimer player (it's awesome). But my favorite piece is one by Daniel Gawthrop, called O Come Emmanuel, which the chorus actually commissioned 10 years ago. The music is gorgeous, meaningful to sing, and the text is a poem by Madeleine L'Engle, taken from a collection of her poems called The Ordering of Love: the New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L'Engle (Thanks, Google books!). This poem is the second of her "Three Songs of Mary."

2. O Oriens 

O come, O come Emmanuel 
within this fragile vessel here to dwell.
O child conceived by heaven's power
give me thy strength: it is the hour.

O come thou wisdom from on high;
like any babe, at life you cry;
for me, like any mother, birth 
was hard, O light of earth.

O come, O come thou Lord of might,
whose birth came hastily at night,
born in a stable, in blood and pain
is this the king who comes to reign?

O come, thou Rod of Jesse's stem,
the stars will be thy diadem.
How can the infinite finite be?
Why choose, child, to be born of me?

O come, thou key of David, come
open the door to my heart home.
I cannot love the as a king -
so fragile and so small a thing.

O come thou Day-spring from on high:
I saw the signs that marked the sky,
I heard the beat of angels' wings,
I saw the shepherds and the kings, 

O come, Desire of nations,
be simply a human child to me.
Let me not weep that you are born.
The night is gone. Now gleams the morn!

Rejoice, rejoice, Emanuel.
God's Son, God's Self, with us to dwell.