About Me

North Central College graduate, BA in Social Sciences, Peace Corps ESL Volunteer placed in Rwanda.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Psalms 23

Psalms 23

v 1 – The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing that I lack.

• If there I nothing that I lack, then I don’t need books, cigarettes, alcohol, or boys. I have all I need – given by God. Everything I need is already here – and if I need it in the future, God will provide.

v 2 – He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters.

• He lets me lie in fertile, abundant fields. He is not stingy, giving only what I need. He lets me lie down. He provides rest and rejuvenation when I need it. He leads me beside quiet waters. He leads me to peace. Life is tumultuous, and he walks with me through the valleys so he can lead me to a place of calm.

v 3 – He renews my life; he leads me along paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

• He renews my life. When I am stuck or stumbling or trapped in poor choices and sin, he renews me. He brings me around so I can start fresh. This forgiveness, grace, and hope all show that he is the living God. He renews my life for His name’s sake. His honor and reputation are at stake if he has claimed me as his own, and leads me into temptation, he is no better then the gods that are built by our hands and survive on the fear of the people who worship them. My God leads me to righteousness to show his glory through me.

v 4 – Even when I go thought he valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me.

• How do you comfort through disciplinary tools? The rod and the staff comfort my through the valley.

v 5 – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

• Even in danger, you provide for me. I am welcomed, honored, and cared for even when I am surrounded by antagonists. You singled me out to bless me – you called me to great responsibility while pouring out your blessings.

Lord, make it clear what you want of me. Impress on my heart how you want me to act; move your spirit in me to convict me; challenge my stubbornness and help me hate what doesn’t glorify you; give me the grace to act as an inheritor of your kingdom.

v 6 – Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

• Your goodness and faithfulness pursue me – they chase after me. When you follow me and flush me out of my hiding places, it is to lead me, bless me, and get me back on track. You will not let me fall by the wayside or get distracted too long. They bring me back to fellowship and union with you. And you never give up on me. As you have singled me out and blessed me – called me – you will not let me go so easily.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I missed music so much.

I still only have my music from artists A-C, but combining that with music stolen from Jen, my heart is happy again.

Jack Johnson sooths my soul. A Fine Frenzy heals my heart and tells me that it’s ok to be hurt by exes. Death Cab for Cutie really Does sound a little like Owl City, which makes me smile about this summer. Singing along to Rent energizes me and reminds me of some of the best years with my best friends.

“without you I was broken, but I’d rather be broke down with you by my side” (sorry, random inserted lyric here – I felt it, so I felt like quoting it.)

Bing Crosby’s croons gently substitute for the rocking chair that florida ruined, and mom and dad replaced right before I left.

I know I’ve ranted about Ragtime before, but now that I only have the 8 songs that didn’t get loaded from the previous transfer, I appreciate even more what the entire compilation should be. I ache to hear the other chords that first tugged on my heartstrings, but now that I can play the entire show in my head, I almost don’t want to do anything else.

The lyrics are sweet, but without the score they can sound saccharine
I never heard no music quite like yours
where'd you learn how to play it that way

you tell stories like your hands play tunes

the stars are silver notes across the sky
daddy played piano, played it very well
music from those hands could catch you like a spell
he could make you love him 'fore the tune was done

your sword can be a sermon or the power of the pen
teach every child to raise his voice and then my brothers,
then will justice be demanded by ten million righteous men

and there was distant music
changing the tune
changing the tide

skipping a beat
singing a dream
a strange insistent music
putting out heat
picking up steam
and there was music playing
catching a nation in its prime

it was the music of something beginning
an era exploding
a century spinning

they speak so clearly to how I feel about almost all music, and certainly Good music. When fittingly accompanied by complex soaring counterparts and appropriate dissonance; lilting rhythms and driving beats; sobbing strings, crowing horns, and piano notes that kiss you gently; you get a glimpse of the synchronicity that God must have originally intended for all creation.

So what's your story kid?

1 – late November 2009
12 years innately curious, making a thousand connections in my head, unable to communicate any of them.

I learned very quickly that books made a lot of sense. Written down, orderly, could go back and reference things you didn’t understand, and you always knew what these people were thinking.

Eventually, we found a doctor who diagnosed me with NDD. Basically said my brain was working so hard on keeping me upright that I couldn’t learn things like social patterns and communication.

My freshman year in high school was my kindergarten in all but academics and physiological functioning – albeit, I never did learn balance, coordination or how to move gracefully.

Interpersonally, I was always interested in relationships. Still haven’t figured that one out. My parents love me, and each other. My siblings loved me as much as any set of normal siblings could. But I’d been aching for my first kiss since I was 4. and having my own family followed right along with that.

They say people fall in love about 3 times before they settle down. After each love, I refined what I was looking for, and each one walked away with a piece of my heart. One left it intact, but held it for a long time. The last one left it in pieces, and I don’t know if I’ll ever find them all again.

I care. About people, not stuff. I find myself mothering almost everyone (until I learned how not to). I can’t learn enough. But I’m more interested in how and why things work than what they do. I desperately want to be understood.

2 – early December 2009

You think everyone has their life wrapped up into one concise story? That they already know what the highlights, lowlights, and pieces that matter are?

Let’s try this – I grew up with a brain disorder that so thoroughly confused and frustrated my mother that I am the only child she has ever hit.

By the time we had it diagnosed and cured I was in 9th grade, and while not a complete pariah with the anonymity of high school, it was Kindergarten for all but academics and basic physiological functioning.
I learned to pick up the adult responsibilities really quick though, because mom fell into some pretty bad depression and needed help running the household. I over extend, I’m co-dependent, and I care too much about too many people, and especially about how they see me.

One of my ex’s calls me the General Sherman of relationships – burning and pillaging my way through, leaving a wake of destruction behind me. What he will never see is that hurting him is one of the biggest things I regret in my life. I can never completely forgive myself for it, and it has colored every relationship since then.

Speaking of which, I’ve never been dumped, but I have had my heart broken multiple times. The most recent one left it in so many pieces... I don’t know if I’m capable of loving like that again.

The only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do – the only thing I really know how to do is to get to know people, see where they are struggling in life, and help them.

My faith is very important to me because of my experiences and understanding, and not just because someone told me to think this way. I completely respect and honor the choices of people who go through a spiritual journey to question what they know and what they want to believe, and I wish they could do the same courtesy for me instead of dismissing me as a naïve church girl.

Which reminds me – I’m smart! I mean, I’m really smart, and really good at analyzing things. But I am extremely adaptable, and I act how people treat me. So when I’m in a new group of people, I feel really lost and any confidence I have managed to scrape up over the last few years goes missing. Consequently, the new people never really get to see who I am.

I respect and admire my father more than any man I have ever met, or could imagine to meet. Close behind is my brother – my protector, encourager, challenger, clown, and partner in crime. Maybe not so much the immeasurable respect and awe, but he is one of the most important relationships in my life.

3 – (5/25/10)

"the era of ragtime had run out, as if history were no more than a tune on a player piano"
how many eras of life do we roll past? Who changes the tune roll? Are we all just player piano players? The era of being trapped by my own mind has fallen away. The era of excusable hesitance has rolled up. The era of simple love has been changed out – there are way more holes in the score and complications in the melody now. The era of being stationary will never be seen again; life rolls on like the barrel of the music box and you jump as the bumps and notches pluck your tines. It’s like inverse Braille – your fingers are outstretched, searching for the information that gives you meaning. The bits that matter brush past and send vibrations through you. How you resonate is what you take away from the experience.

Monday, April 12, 2010

book report 2

Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

God bless SparkNotes and Wikipedia for contributing to this truncated plot summary –

[ In 1959 an overzealous Baptist minister named Nathan Price drags his wife and four daughters deep into the heart of the Congo, just as it is on the brink of civil war. The Prices' story parallels their host country's tumultuous emergence into the post-colonial era.

Orleanna Price (the wife) narrates the introductory chapter in five of the novel's seven sections. The narrative then alternates among the four daughters, with a slight preference for the voice of the most outspoken one, Leah. The four girls increasingly mature, as each adapts differently to African village life, to the misogyny of their father, and the political turmoil that overtakes The Congo in the 1960s. Nathan's lack of responsiveness to the Kilanga culture wears out his family's welcome, but he refuses to depart. It is only after a series of misfortunes, culminating in the death of one of the daughters, that the women leave the father to his folly. The survivors take very different paths into their futures, which are described up to the 1990s. The novel ends at the time of the death of Mobutu Sese Seko. ]

Ok, so I cheated a little. I promise the rest is all me.

Barbara Kingsolver weaves together an intricately complete story: there are months that are passed over, and then years; memories and flashbacks and duplicate scenes; but you never feel out of place or lost. The alternate perspectives beautifully adjust in language and tone to match each character. The characters reveal enough to feel close to – and if you don’t find yourself identifying with all of them at one moment or another, that’s probably because one of them has too strong of a grip on you to share. The mystery of which daughter dies kept me from putting the book down when I was overwhelmed.

If you’ve ever been to Africa, the noted difficulties with language intricacies will add a layer of depth to the narrative. If you are especially fond of English, Kingsolver employs one character in particular to flush out the beauty and complications of our mother tongue.

I’m reminded of themes from my “Western Literature” class in high school. East v West – Nature v Technology – Masculine v Feminine… Africa, and this story, fall perfectly in the center of all these arguments. There is a male, stubborn, monotheistic antagonist from the west who is fighting the very jungle for control. He brings his family to the center of this, and they are the females who see a community on the edge of a paradigm shift. This community looks to progress as a tool to maintain traditions; they vote with stones in pots; they vacillate between spiritual pulls based on the ebb and flow of trials in their lives. You watch the man succumb to jungle madness and the women branch out in different strengths and reactionary paths.

Central Africa still bears the scars of a clash of cultures as individuals, communities, and governments continually trying to find the balance of ‘progress’, industry, tradition, and embracing the land or subduing it.

This is, by far, one of the most depressing books I have ever read. I am almost completely sure this is because I read it during PST, and along with the wave pool of stress and emotions that brings, I could suddenly relate to 50% more of the context. True, it is set in the Congo right around the time of their independence, but all of the culture shock this family goes through is eerily reminiscent. Even the group dynamic they hold – while the PCVs aren’t related, the gender ratio is pretty close to 5:1 girls to guys.

Some of the Ideas I found most familiar / striking are:

- "If I'd of had the foggiest idea," she said very steadily, holding her pale, weeping eyes on me, "just the foggiest idea. We brought all the wrong things."

- Every small effort at hygiene was magnified by hours of labor spent procuring the simplest elements: water, heat, anything that might pass for disinfectant.

- The forest path is a live thing underfoot that went a little farther every day.

- It has opened up in my heart a sickening world of doubts and possibilities, where before I had only faith in my father and Love for the Lord. Without that rock of certainty underfoot, the Congo is a fearsome place to have to sink or swim.

Peace Corps aside, I felt more of a personal connection with this family being a pastor’s kid myself. In my family, logic, reason, investigation, and complete answers temper our spiritual inclinations: so to watch this man fall slowly into madness clinging to rigid misconceptions and supporting his ignorance with warped ideology is especially painful as he drags his family down with him. My father has always been the cornerstone of our family and the buoy of stability in the raging sea of any and every human life. Not perfect by any means, but we have all grown together in learning how to listen, how to see things from another’s perspective, and he has always put the safety and security of his family first as it has lined up with God’s will.

Just in case the rest of this review is unclear – I absolutely, highly recommend this book. I loved it. I actually read it twice in training. Yes, it is depressing, but most enlightening experiences start that way. Your core beliefs are rocked, and as you restabilize, you are definitely stronger. You can’t read this book and not be challenged in a dozen significant ways, no matter what continent you’re on. Many of you will see symbolism I’m unaware of, and adore and hate this book for reasons I haven’t considered.

I hope you’ll share them with me.

The Poisonwood Bible

Thursday, March 25, 2010

book list

Books I have Read:

Training –

1. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

2. Fury - Salmon Rushdie

3. Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

4. Twilight – Stephanie Meyer

5. The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown

6. Emma’s War - Deborah Scroggins

7. Edgar Sawtelle - Deckle Edge

8. Bitter is the New Black – Jen Lancaster

9. Adventure Divas – Holly Morris

10. Pillars of the Earth – Ken

11. Rant – Chuck Pulanik?

12. Short stories of F Scott Fitzgerald

13. Pride and Prejudice and Jasmin Field – Melissa Nathan

At Site –

1. The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain – Paul Theroux

2. Many Waters – Madeline L’engle

3. Kidnapped – Robert Lewis Stevenson

4. The Europeans – Henry James

5. Prisoner of Zenda – Anthony Hope

6. Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid – Denis Leary

7. Bella Canto – Ann Patchett

8. Speed of Dark – Elizabeth Moon

9. Tin Princess – Philip Pullman

10. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim – David Sedaris

11. Benjamin Button and 4 other stories – Penguin Modern Classics

12. Bones to Ashes – Kathy Reichs

13. Mapping the Edge – Sarah Dunant

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

yarn ahoy!

so I FINALLY have my crochet hooks - YAY!!!
in the last 3 days that i have been at home and had all my equipment, I have learned the single stitch, the half-double stitch, the double stitch, the triple stitch, stitching in the round, and the slip stitch. 
I have made Penny pot holders, and I'm working on a scarf for Char.
my only issue is that the yarn I have is pretty standard, cheap stuff, and pretty large weave. it catches on itself really easily and isn't very soft for making anything wearable. I'm excited to practice on it, but can't do much outside of really itchy scarves. 
does anyone have any recommendations for brands or material I should be working with?

ps.  I was really excited by this website

if I were in the states, I may have just found my new excess money drain.

sci-fi stretch

does anyone else think that Orson Scott Card's 'philotic network' sound a LOT like string theory?