the story room

Friday, May 27, 2005

I secretly long to be St. Francis

OK, not exactly. I'll be honest - I don't know very much about him. But I heard that he talked to animals and preached to the birds, and I'm thinking that if we lived at the same time, I'd be out there with him. I promise I'm not nuts, but I've been talking to animals a lot lately! I've been working hard on training our puppy, reasurring our cat when I took him to the vet today, greeting my fish when I feed him in the mornings, and saying hello to ducks whenever I see them around. It's a part of me I never outgrew, I think.

Anyway, I was flipping through a journal I kept last year for my Life of Prayer class, and came across this entry. I ejoyed writing it, and I think it's relevant here:

"As I'm sitting here at my desk, I'm looking at my red and blue Betta fish, Grandpa. I often (probably too often!) find myself staring at him and watching him swim and make faces at himself in the mirror that's behind his bowl when I should be working on my homework, undistracted. But he does distract me, and I'm captivated by him.

"Sometimes I wonder what Grandpa would be doing if he wasn't in my bowl on my desk, but was instead in the ocean somewhere, or wherever Bettas come from. Would he keep himself in a little pocket of water, or would he swim all over the place, happy for his space and freedom?

"It sounds silly, but I wonder if Grandpa is happy to be living in a bowl on my desk - even though I do feed him, care for his home, and give him attention. I know he's a little fish with a tiny fish brain, but I often wonder what he thinks about his life. Still, I have a feeling he's not discontent.

"I love to take care of Grandpa. Sometimes I wonder why that brings me so much joy. It's amazing to me that changing water in a bowl and dropping pellets of food into the water could affect me the way it does. And it's not like I'm a crazy animal-lover. It's true that I enjoy animals very much, but I'm well aware that Grandpa's "rights" are in some ways very different from my own. There's something that goes deeper than just this fish.

"I recognize that I have authority over Grandpa's life. Although I would hate it, I realize I have the power to squish Grandpa. He's so tiny; his life is fragile. But even though I have the power to destroy him, I'm compelled to care for him. There's something in me that longs to use the power I have to protect and nurture him.

"It makes sense. Through Adam and Eve, God comissioned me to have authority over the land and its creatures. I'd be silly (and out of my mind!) to think Grandpa and I could ever be equals. I take pleasure in my authority over him. God has comissioned me to care for this creature. I know I'm doing my job well when I see his beautiful body and clean water with all those little bubble nests.

"Why does all this excite me? I take pleasure in my authority over this little fish because God is taking care of him through me. I was created in the image of God, and I experience evidence of this when I'm privileged to rule. As God's image-bearer, I delight in being like Him. Sometimes I forget who I am, but in a little thing like taking care of Grandpa, I'm reminded again.

"I'm smiling now, realizing that Grandpa the Betta fish reminds me of who I am in Christ. And it reminds me that in the way I love and take care of Grandpa, God also loves and takes care of us - though so much better.

I'm marveled by all of this."

Monday, May 23, 2005

Now that I'm home

I'm home for the summer now, and finally ready for it, I think. It's always quite a change coming back here from school. Things at home are good, but definitely different. During the first couple weeks of transition, I almost always find myself doing a lot of thinking about where I've come from, what I've learned, how I've changed, who I am, and where I'm going.

I think one of the biggest challenges for me (and those around me) is adjusting to the ways I've changed over the course of the year. I can confidently say that this year has been an important one, and that I can see many ways in which God has made me more like Christ. I've also changed a lot in my thinking about certain things, and have even picked up a couple new mannerisms (though not on purpose!). I look on those things and am deeply grateful for all of them, because I'm excited about the person I'm growing into. Still, this makes me a bit unfamiliar to some, and they aren't quite as grateful for some of the changes as I am. Even though I'm always me and there's a lot that doesn't change, I've run into people who want me exactly the way they remember me.

It's a tricky thing to be told that who you are isn't really you, and that they'll break you of these things that are new. It can leave you wondering if what they say is true (even if, in your heart of hearts, you know it's not).

My prayer for this summer is to be able to take things like this in stride, trusting God to continue teaching me and making me more and more like Christ. I want to be receptive to those who have known me a very long time and still be true to who God is making me. And I pray that I will be a blessing to them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Smelling the lilacs

Due to the amount of brain activity that I've been exerting the past couple weeks, I haven't been able to be as insightful or thoughtful as I'd like to be. However, even as I've been on a sort of "survival mode", trying to get everything done, I've been trying to make it a discipline to just stop for a little bit every day. Even if that means losing time on work, it's been a source of necessary refreshment.

Today, a couple really neat things stand out to me, and I recognize God giving me bits of beautiful things to sustain me:

I had breakfast this morning with a dear friend, and a professor who means a lot to me. It was a source of encouragement that ran so deep that I still find myself reflecting on the morning, like I'm carrying it around in my heart.

Earlier this morning I went for a walk on the Trinity Trail, and periodically stopped to bend over and smell the flowers. I had never done that before. I enjoyed it so much that I've found myself smelling flowers all over campus today.

I just got back from going to the carwash with my same dear friend...we went not only to get the car clean, but to watch the soap and water against the windows. (It ended up being not as relaxing as we planned, and actually a little scary...but laughing was just as good!)

I think I'm refreshed enough to hit the books for the rest of the night.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A quick work break

I've been working all morning on a paper that's due later this week, and my brain is currently stuck. I think I need to spend a couple minutes being creative to get everything working again... [edit: I looked and saw that my pictures got squished to the left side...but you can still figure out what they are...but they were cooler when they were spaced the right way!]

() ()

(that's a mousee)

[] [] []
[] [] [] []

(that's a street with houses)

> >
+ +

(that looks like an unhappy/sick pig)

? ?

(that's a happy pig)

{} []


(that's bread and's the subject of the paper I'm writing!)

Haha...that's really funny to me. OK, time to get back to work...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

We got a puppy!

I just got off the phone with my mom, and she told me that my family bought a puppy today. She's a Shetland Sheepdog, and her name is Tiffy. (I'm not huge on the name, but no worries). Rumor has it that she's so small that our cats look like giants compared to her. Oh man, I'm so excited!

Ever since I was little, I've had a soft spot for dogs. I'm so excited about hanging out and playing with her tomorrow, and helping to train her over the summer! This is honestly one of my childhood dreams come true! (I'm a nerd, I know...)


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A new level of cool

So, over spring break, I watched The Incredibles with my family. Overall, the movie was pretty cute, but my favorite part had to do with the lady who designed the Incredibles' superhero suits, Edna. She was, by far, the coolest character of the whole movie. Not only was she funny, but she was short, kind of nerdy, and people called her E. I think that's way cool.

So, I've been thinking lately, I might actually have the potential to reach Edna's level of coolness. OK, I definitely don't have the artistic flair (or the awesome scientific mind), but I'm short, kind of nerdy, and some people call me E. I have a lot going for me, I think.

Time to go and do something cool...

(yeah, that's right!)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Do you miss him, John?

For over a year now, those words have been echoing in my mind. They're not usually in the forefront of my thoughts, but every now and then I hear them again.

It's actually the title of a poem I'm trying to write (though I don't have anything on paper yet).

Maybe I've been thinking about it more lately because I'm working on preparing a little sermon-thing for a class project we're presenting on Thursday. We have to design a worship service, and since Thursday is Ascension Day, everything in our service centers around Acts 1:1-11, where the disciples are promised the Holy Spirit and Jesus is taken up to heaven.

I'm not trying to be difficult, but this passage is hard for me. I definitely recognize the power and the mystery and the beauty of it. It gives me hope for the future when Jesus will return, and it encourages me now while I wait.


I can't help but imagine the story from John's point of view. He was the one Jesus loved, and out of the Twelve, Jesus was closest with him. What was that like for John, to watch his Teacher, Savior, and quite possibly best friend disappear into the sky? I think about the overwhelming grief he must have felt when Jesus died, and I think about his unspeakable joy when he saw Jesus alive again, eating in their midst. Jesus was back! But a little over a month later, Jesus was gone again. He was alive, but he was gone.

The Holy Spirt came soon after that, so it's true that Jesus wasn't really gone for good. But it was different.

And this is where I struggle, I think. On the one hand, I feel so much joy for John (and the other disciples) because he was a witness of these amazing things, and was one of the first to have the Spirit of Christ living within him. Gosh, in his lifetime God even did miracles through him! But on the other hand, he had to watch Jesus disappear into the sky. What must that have been like?

Did he miss Jesus' booming laughter or the way he laid his arm across his shoulders? Did he miss his poignant but funny stories and the way he called his name? Did he miss his gaze and his embrace? What about all the memories he had? What was he to do with them? When he laid in bed at night, even filled with the Holy Spirit, did he feel the ache of lonliness, missing Jesus so much that he wanted to cry?

Sometimes I think it would have been cool to be in John's shoes, seeing everything he saw and being so close to Jesus. But I also think it would have been so much harder. Like John, I look forward to Jesus' return, but I don't understand what it feels like to miss him. I think I'm grateful for that.

Maybe it wasn't as hard for John as I think...or maybe it was. Maybe John knew more than I know now. Maybe it's something he learned as he got older, wiser. And what was it he learned?

And what are we to learn?