Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sleepless in Kirksville

Don't you hate those nights, when you're so exhausted that you lie in bed for hours, unable to sleep? I decided to visit my much-neglected blog this night, as I waited for sleep to come. As I was looking through old posts, I thought I would read through some of the ones that I had labeled as "devotions." I was rather ashamed to see only one that has been written in this year 2010 . . . and that I could count on my hand the ones I have posted since coming to school last fall.

It's funny - I can't quite imagine why I haven't posted any devotional thoughts lately. God sure hasn't gone anywhere - He's still a pretty permanent fixture in my life. In fact, this past month or so has been one of clinging to Him with every once of strength I have. I suppose my times with God and the lessons He's been teaching me are just more personal than I'd care to share on a blog. And that's okay. Hopefully someday, I can go back and share some of what has been going on lately. But for now, I have something that just came to my attention. :)

One of the old posts I read was about Holy Week, and the great Romance of our Savior. Holy Week this year has begun and I hardly realized it! You know, every year when we get to this point, the story is just the same, isn't it? We read the various Gospel's accounts of Jesus' last days, and I think it's pretty tempting to just skim over it, and say "Yeah, yeah, it's all the same information as last year."

But that's the thing - it isn't the same, at least not for those of us who are intimately acquainted with the Author of this story! Because for us, it's also our story. And every year, our lives are at least a somewhat different place than where they were last year, as is our relationship with our Lord. Last year for me, what stood out was the great Love that He showed in His death - I needed that reminder and assurance of His great Love for me.

This year, I'm looking for Hope as I read through. The Hope that after death comes life. Weeping and sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Some days, it's hard to believe that. But as I read the story of my Savior, I see it, plain and clear. Oh Lord - I praise you for your story. And I praise you that, through everything I've faced these past few months, it remains the same. The Hope you offer is still there, and I cling to that.

"Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying?'

'They have taken my Lord away,' she said, 'and I don't know where they have put him.' At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

'Woman,' he said, 'why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?'

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.'

Jesus said to her, 'Mary.'

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher).

Jesus said, 'Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, "I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." ' "

John 20:10-18

What does the story of Holy Week say to you this year?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Letter

Dear Kirksville and surrounding areas,

Please don't skip spring.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Reaching the Sky

I wrote this for an assignment in my English Composition class last year. I found it the other day when going through my documents, and thought I'd share. :)

Reaching the Sky

"Oh no. Today's the day." That was my first thought as I woke up that cold, dreary morning. I was lying on a narrow bottom bunk in a camp cabin. I slowly sat up and stretched, being careful not to bump my head on the heavy oak frame of the bed. My counselor started singing, "Oh what a beautiful morning" in the shower as I watched the other girls in my cabin slowly open their eyes. Hannah Sue, already wide awake, was perched in her top bunk across the room. She called out, "Good morning Becky! Are you ready for today?" Inwardly, I groaned. Today was the day I had been dreading all summer long. It was the first day of an "extreme" week of summer camp for Christian teens from Missouri and Arkansas. I had been convinced to come by a large group of guys from my youth group, but while they were all looking forward to the extreme activities of the week, I was mostly hoping to meet some new friends and enjoy time away from the stress of life. Timid was my middle name, and the thought of trying to be bold, brave, and "extreme" petrified me. Little did I know that those expectations would be challenged in some rather terrifying ways that very first day of camp.

As soon as the entire group was awake and ready to go, all 35 of us piled into the camp bus. I sat in row 7b, next to my friend Mark. When he asked me if I was ready to be "extreme" today, I replied with a sarcastic, "Oh, I can't wait." He brushed it off. "You'll be fine," he said. Outwardly, I agreed and said I was sure it would be fun. Inside however, I was trembling like a leaf in a hurricane. We bumped along dusty back roads for almost half an hour, my fear and tension mounting with each mile. I wondered what our first activity would be. Would we be paintballing, caving, or rappelling? "Or maybe," I thought, "it will be something much scarier than any of those things." I held my breath as the bus pulled around the last bend, and our challenge for that day came into view: a high ropes course. Thirty feet off the ground, the poles and cables towered above us, casting shadows that were lost in the distance. We all scrambled out of the bus and stood gazing at it for a few moments before a sharp clap jerked us out of our reverie. "Let's get going, we want to have as much time up there as possible," yelled out our counselor.

We split into our two groups, and quickly got buckled into our harnesses. The mood was lighthearted for the most part. There was a lot of joking about how incredibly uncomfortable and awkward looking the harnesses were, and lots of discussion about which of the elements of the course looked the most challenging. I stayed quiet, trying to acclimate myself to the idea of spending several hours 30 feet in the air. As we got ready, our guides shared a little about the course and our equipment. With a partner, we would first climb up a 30-foot pole. Then, after crawling up onto a 2-by-2 foot platform, we would, with our partner, step out onto a narrow, but incredibly strong cable. Each cable ran between two poles, and there were different ropes and boards suspended in the air above each one to help us get across. The sets of cables, ropes, and boards each made up an "element." The goal for each element was the same -- advance from the first pole to the second pole. Attached to our harnesses were ropes and "lobster claws," hooks which secured us to cables as we walked. These ropes could be used for support, but the guides challenged us to touch them as little as possible. My immediate thought upon hearing that was, "Well, I really don't think I'll be able to do that! It will be a miracle if I even reach the top." After being briefed on the safety procedures and various rules for up on the course, we began to divide into partners.

I looked around, trying to decide who I should ask to partner with me. I knew this was an important decision. This was the person I would spend over four hours with that afternoon. They would be helping me along with the course -- telling me where to put my feet for each step, offering a hand for assistance, and encouraging me with each step. While I was mulling this over in my mind, Hannah Sue came and asked me to be her partner. I had just met her the day before, but I agreed, knowing she was experienced in all things "extreme."

So we set out, Hannah Sue and I. One pair from each group went up at a time. Hannah Sue said that we should be the first to go up; I told her that I wanted to be the last. We compromised, and went up third in line. She climbed first. Up the pole she shimmied, looking like a monkey who was at home in the jungle. She got to the top, calmly transfered her ropes to the cable, and called down for me to follow. I hesitated. As soon as I picked up my foot and placed it on that first rung, I would be committed to going up. I could not turn back. The thought terrified me. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. My thoughts finally focused on a single thought. "What if I actually can do this? If I don't go up, I'll never know." With that in my mind, I was ready. I opened my eyes and stepped towards the pole. Then I climbed. I didn't look down and I didn't stop to think about what I was doing. I just climbed. Up, and up, and up, and up, until suddenly, I was at the top. Hannah Sue held out her hand and pulled me onto the platform, all the time telling me that I'd done a great job.

Once she had helped me figure out where to stand, she immediately began planning out our route through the elements. I stood there frozen. Although I had made it up, the challenge was not over. I began to doubt my ability to go on. Hannah Sue, oblivious to my fear, selected our first element, and stepped down, testing the tension of the cord with her foot. Returning to the platform, she turned to me and said, "Are you ready? This is going to be a hard one, but I know we can do it. Let's go across together." It was just what I needed to jerk my attention away from my fears, and back to the matter at hand. She stepped out first. Arms out and not holding onto anything, she balanced herself on the cord, then held out a hand. "Just step onto the cord Becky. It's not too far down, and it's a really easy step," she urged. Once again, I hesitated. "I'm really scared Hannah Sue." There. I had said it. I waited, expecting a flippant remark like "don't be silly." But, to my surprise, Hannah Sue stepped back onto the platform and took my hand. Looking straight into my eyes, she said, "Everyone has fears, Becky. Some are harder to deal with than others, but you will never know how far you can go until you push yourself. I know you can do this." My attention was focused on her as she stepped back down onto the cable. "All right. Take a deep breath and just step down," she coached. I leaned out, grasped her hand, and took that first step. Then, I willed my second foot to join my first. We both balanced and slowly started to shuffle along the cable, hands clasped. Suddenly, I lurched to the right. A scream almost escaped my lips, but Hannah Sue quickly leaned to her right and steadied the cord until I regained my balance. We moved on, step by step. Before I knew it, we were finished and stepping onto the second platform. I looked and Hannah Sue and she said, with a twinkle in her eye, "Well, that wasn't so bad after all, was it?" I laughed. We looked at each other, and said together, "Let's do the next one!" This time, although she still lead the way, I stepped out with excitement and anticipation. The rest of the afternoon, we danced across the elements like butterflies, always finding new and more challenging ways to accomplish each one. As we rode down the zip line at the end and landed safely on the ground, I found myself feeling oddly satisfied. Suddenly it came to me -- I had faced my fear of heights, and I had conquered.

Looking back on that week, the first thing that comes to mind isn't all the friends I made. It's not the time spent relaxing in my cabin, or the fun activites I did around the camp. In fact, my fondest memories weren't made when I was safely on the ground; they were made high up in the sky, as I balanced and tottered my way to confidence, holding the hand of Hannah Sue. It was there I learned the importance of teamwork and encouragement. It was there I first found that your fears are only as great as you allow them to be. And it was there I discovered that I could do the impossible.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

By Your Side - Tenth Avenue North

Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away

Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands and my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world's sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life
I want to give you life

Cause I, I love you
I want you to know
That I, I love you
I'll never let you go

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More Ado About Nothing

This looks delicious. I can't wait until I get home on Friday so I can try it!

And yes. Yes I am cheating on this Tuesday post, and just posting links to other things, no original thoughts involved. I apologize.

And while I'm at it. . . The Quakkelaar Family has been doing a really neat Lenten fast, and blogging about it! Check it out here, for some legit encouragement.


This is Us.