the story room

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Learning from my mom

This past week my mom has been recovering from an appendectomy (she's doing really well now, though!) and my dad has been away working, so I've been helping out with things at home. My responsibilities have included taking care of my younger brothers (including making time just to spend time with them, making them feel special and loved), doing grocery shopping, cleaning the house, and keeping up with the family's laundry. Even though it's been hard work, I've enjoyed being able to take care of my mom and help my family out.

I've also learned a lot through this experience.

Since I was young I've always been pretty helpful around the house, but it wasn't until this week that I realized how much it takes to maintain a household. It's almost scary that no matter how many loads of laundry are washed in a day, there's always more to do the next morning, and no matter how clean the house is at the end of the day, it doesn't take long before it needs to be cleaned all over again (if I ever doubted the law of entropy before, I certainly believe in it now!). And sure goes fast even when it's spent wisely and on necessary items. Even though I've experienced all this on a much smaller scale when it comes to taking care of myself, I am now very aware of how much it's magnified when it comes to taking care of a 6-member family.

I've been learning a lot through this experience.

For one thing, my respect and appreciation for my parents (especially my mom) has skyrocketed. I realize how much I take for granted all the little things they do to keep our household running smoothly, and how little they demand our appreciation, let alone even our recognition or acknowledgement.

It makes me want to be more like my mom. By spending this week in her shoes I have been able to not just witness her selflessness -- I've also come to experience what it takes to give so generously and love in such a way that I care about the needs of others as if they were my own, even if it means sacrificing. (I've also learned that my mom does a much better job at this than I do, and that I have a lot to learn, still!)

If I'm ever blessed with a family of my own to take care of, I hope that I can serve them like my mom serves us. And until then, I pray that I can learn to live like my mom, giving and loving like her (and like Jesus).

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Come, ye Sinners

Last night a friend shared this hymn with me, and it resonated with me. I appreciate it so much that I can't help but share it:

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Lo! th’incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
enture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Oh, come...

Throughout this season of Advent, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to anticipate the coming of Christ.

Through my growing-up years, I had been pretty good about remembering the first coming of Jesus, and I still often find myself marveling at the mystery of God taking on humanity and dwelling among us. And as I've gotten older and become increasingly aware of my own depravity and brokenness, I've also grown accustomed to longing for Christ to continually come to my life - to me - healing me and making me whole. This year I am still deeply aware of those comings of Christ, but I am also finding within myself now a longing for Christ's return that is so acute that sometimes it hurts.

This past week I've been working through the morning and evening prayers I've found in the Catholic book of Christian Prayer: the Liturgy of the Hours. What I've been especially struck by are the intercessory prayers of both morning and evening, refraining, "Come, Lord Jesus!"

With my own brokenness and the frailty of those I love before me, remembering those I've loved who have died and are dying, longing for things to once again be the way they're supposed to be, and filled with the hope and joy of Emmanuel's first Advent, I deeply and sometimes painfully long for the fulfillment of my prayer - more than that, the Church's prayer - that He will come back to us soon.

Until then, as I wait in faith and cling to hope with my brothers and sisters, I find myself praying prayers like these, and taking them up into my life:

Jesus Christ is the joy and happiness of all who look forward to his coming. Let us call upon him and say:
Come, Lord, and do not delay!
In joy we wait for your coming,
come, Lord Jesus.
Before time began, you shared life with the Father,
come now and save us.
You created the world and all who live in it,
come to redeem the work of your hands.
You did not hesitate to become man, subject to death,
come to free us from the power of death.
You came to give us life to the full,
come and give us your unending life.
You desire all people to live in love in your kingdom,
come and bring together those who long to see you face to face.

(from December 17 evening prayer)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Houses of the Living

Last night I was flipping through a journal that I kept last spring, and I came across a quote I had written down from Nicholas Wolterstorff's Lament for a Son:

"I begin to understand why humanity has regarded its burial grounds as sacred sites. Under each of these plots has been laid to rest what remained of one of God's images on earth, one of his icons. Those icon-remains hallow this place.

"I suppose if that's true, then the houses of the living are even more hallowed."

As my roommates and I have been milling about our dorm room today, and with friends coming in and out, I've been thinking about what a sacred place this is. And when I can see clearly enough to look someone in the face and think, "image of God", my pulse quickens and I all but tremble.

Since it gets dark so early now, I often walk across campus and see lights on in people's rooms. And I've come to recognize how beautiful a thing it is to live in the presence of living icons.

And I'm humbled to realize that I, too, am a living image of God, hallowing this place.

Friday, December 02, 2005

a year ago today

Oh, I almost forgot to share this. A year ago today was a turning point for me: the day I decided to go to seminary (see December 6, 2004 entry). And exactly a year later (to the day!), I handed application references to my professors. Wow.

I'm grateful for and so amazed by God's guidance and the way He cares for His children.

Lord, have mercy...

I've been at a loss for words all semester. It's evidenced here, and also in my journal. I'm thinking about a lot, but have been having a hard time expressing it.

It's evidenced, too, in my prayers. My desire to pray has been so strong, but when it comes to voicing something, I almost always end up silent.

Last night, I was with a bunch of theology students, talking about the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I appreciate that so much because it puts into words the prayers I've been wordlessly expressing the past few months. I appreciate it, too, because it reminds me of my place before God: one in so much need of mercy, in the presence of the Living God, who loves her tremendously. And it also reminds me of my place with others: sharing life together, all in need of both God's mercy and each other's mercy. I'm grateful for that reality and truth, and grateful to see from that perspective.

And indeed...
Lord, have mercy on us.