Sunday, May 31, 2009

On Clouds of Words

Wordle: For God so Loved...

Me, in word cloud form.

On May Drawing to a Close


Learning lessons of love in UFND.
Scribbling the first lines of a sonnet in Chem.
Playing Dutch Blizt on a blanket on the beach.
Getting my first painful sunburn of the summer.
Raiding Candice's closet.
Watching the lovely Dahlstrom sisters make crepes.

Second date...
Eating dinner in Gwinn (of course).
Driving in Ben's car to Alderwood.
Wandering through Pottery Barn; quick stop at the Apple store.
Watching Up (with the adorable happy little cloud short before).
Driving to Bothell.
Packing adventures.
Wandering the labyrinth of Albertson's, in desperate search for Rosarita.
Snatches of Pride and Prejudice, bits of conversation, barking of tiny dogs.
Lovely car rides (so many of them) filled with the Killers, Coldplay, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Barcelona, Shane and Shane. Also laughter and smile-filled silence.
Surveying all of Seattle from atop Gasworks hill, the lights of the city reflected in perfectly still water, sun-warmed air slowly cooling. Stories of Europe and life. A perfect moment beneath the stars.


A complete lack of productivity.
A quick visit from Ben.
A sunny walk down to the canal; time with ducks and God.

"Left on Smith! Left on Smith!"
Link Tag.
Ultimate Frisbee.
Four Square.
Extreme Simon Says.
Amazing view of Mt. Rainier.
Sitting on a low concrete wall, watching Seattle after dark for the second night in a row.
Someone amazing sitting beside me.
Standing in a parking space, unable to make decisions.
Run to Wendy's.
Sitting in the lounge, Jill and Taylor, Ben and me.
One last hug good night.


Paper writing.
Sonnet scanning.
Cloud-filled skies.

Knowing that summer is too close.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On Living a Life of Love

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. [...] For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord."
Ephesians 5:1-2 & 8-10

If I had to pick a favorite book of the Bible, it would probably be Ephesians. I remember my first real time encountering the book as a whole was junior year, KP Bible study, when Jordan led us through the book. I still have some of his notes at home, and I still remember and love so much the example he brought from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It was a great Bible study, and through that year, and all the struggles it involved, I feel like I finally started diving into the Word. And that was great.

But back to Ephesians.

Paul has so many incredibly important things to say about how we are to live. We are to understand the Lord's will (verse 17). What a weighty claim... I mean, I have always understood God's will to be unable to be grasped. He is a mystery and so huge, and what He has planned is so far beyond what we could understand. I didn't know we had the capacity to understand His will. This is so beyond me.

He also states that we should be filled with the Spirit (verse 18). Paul's language here is almost demanding; he is commanding us to be filled with the Spirit. But is this something over which we have any control? Do we have any responsibility insofar that the Spirit fills us? Can we decide 'Oh, today I think I'll be Spirit-filled'? I've always though that the Spirit moves on His own. He is within us and we have no control over that. But, I don't know, maybe it is more conscious. As we grow in the Lord, and make choices toward righteousness, striving toward humility with the grace of God, the Spirit fills us more and more. We are the balloons Pastor Tim was talking about, being inflated, stretched, grown, all by and in Him.

That is really exciting actually. God is so great to us. So incredibly loving. What could we possibly want to do besides live a life of love as Christ and sacrifice?

Sing each other psalms,
Sing and make music in your heart
To the Lord.
Wake up, O Sleeper!
Rise up, and Christ will shine on you!

God's love is just the most overpowering thing ever, and honestly, when everything gets boiled down, God's love is what's most important. We are to live lives of love as children of light. There is no compromising on this rule. The two most important commands God gives us are to love Him and to love each other.

So when it's said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son," this means that our salvation comes only through love. It is the source of our lives, and without His love we would not be breathing.

I feel like we should not be striving to experience that love. If you're looking for some emotional experience as an end to itself, there's probably something wrong. God's love is so surrounding us that we should experience it whenever we come in contact with anyone else. God's love should be so overflowing in our lives, there should not be a moment where we are thinking, 'Hmm, I wish I could experience God's love right now.' We experience it at every moment; each breath, each person, each small prayer.

"Our own response of love allows God's life to flow into us without limit. [...] I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God's life in me."
-St. Ignatius

One last word from Paul:
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:16-19

Monday, May 18, 2009

On Joyful Exhaustion

This is such exhaustion:

Greek Orthodox Church with Rachele, Amolia, and Carolina; incense, Greek, standing in heels, three hours, liturgy, holy bread, altar boys, the Lord's Prayer in four different languages.

Fremont Market with Ben; first date, sun, parking garage, wandering, his crazy forcing me to eat, Greek food, dogs, talking (about family, summer, futures), smiles, so much sweetness, flowers; lying on a blanket, chin against his arm, watching him change his facebook status to something adorable.

Ultimate frisbee with Ben, Cody, Kevin, Rachael, Taylor, Dan, Elliot, Jess, and Sarah; sun, cool dirt, jumping, yelling, wishes to be a six-foot six black man, laughs, gentle frisbee tosses, joy.

Mars Hill with Jess, Clarissa, and Chester; so much joy and substance in Pastor Mark's message, prayer, peace, smiles, singing.

This aching in my throat, dry eyes straining to open after each blink, sore cheeks, and tired feet; these are the signs of a joy filled day.

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Galatians 5:13-14

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On Raids

Arms bruised, knees grass-stained, vocal chords strained, eyes dry, cheeks sore.


I am in love with so many of these people around me. Whether it's Sean's clammy hand clasped in mine during Red Rover, Megan's ridiculous dance moves, Taylor screaming "Yode," Jillian laughing with pure joy, Houston flying through the air, Anthony and Holly walking back to Hill alone together, Lara and Jess accosting me while in the Safeway parking lot, or Ben...

These are the people I love.

Whether they're in metallic shorty shorts or SPU sweatshirts and jeans, they are my joy.

Even with Cody's tiny butt in my face, Elliot spouting off curse words, or Justin and Candice mocking one another, still it is just this joy.

We laugh. We are [so incredibly] loud. We sing. We skip. We hug. We touch. We love.

Oh man, you guys: my heart is blown away.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

On Overwhelming Joy

Keep my focus ever on You.

The verse I found in Holly's Bible after Ball last night: "Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name." (Psalm 86:11)

Her version said "Give me an undivided heart." I love that. An undivided heart for God, loving Him first, loving Him most, loving Him only. And through his love we are able to love everyone.

Pastor Dahlstrom said this morning that our first and most important calling is to make God's character visible. And to do this, we do two things: love God and love people.

"But when the Pharisees heard that he [Jesus] had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?' And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.'" (Matthew 22:34-40)

May His love be most important, overpowering in our lives, so that we can see nothing else, and live viewing the world through the veil of God's love.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Ali and I went on an adventure to the Seattle Art Museum today. And it was just great. We took the bus, and it was bright and happy when we left. And we've been trying to go to First Free Thursday at SAM for the past four months or something ridiculous. So it was awesome that we finally got to go.I just love Ali a lot. And I love museums a lot. And we both have good stories about the museums we went to in Europe last summer, when we were there at the same time and didn't even know.
And we both have this awesome habit of eavesdropping on people on the bus, or random guys who are having intense discussions about still lifes.
We saw some awesome things, like this portrait of an old woman (she just looked so cool), and this one painting where the candle was just like attacking it was so real, and some weird modern art including a moose and an AWESOME giant mouse sitting on top of a bed.
But the coolest thing we saw was this room devoted to the work of Titus Kaphar. It was the coolest modern art I've ever seen. Here's his blog: Unlike most modern art, which is a green and a blue circle on a red canvas, his paintings are making statements about race, and politics, and society. And they were just so interesting.
Eventually, we saw everything, including some cars hanging from the ceiling, and walked out onto the rain-soaked Seattle sidewalks to catch a bus back to campus.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On Rain, Fourth, group, and Love

It's possible I did not know what peace was until I was sitting at my desk this afternoon, looking out my open window, breathing in the air drenched with fresh spring rain, watching puddles form in the uneven walkway leading to the front door of Hill.

Me and rain, we are friends. We have been for years. Rain is just refreshing. You can stand there, face tipped toward the clouds, hands open, palms being drenched, hair frizzing, as water drips down your neck. Whole body shudder and a deep breath in. Love.
As I walked up from the loop this afternoon, after seeing Holly to work, still texting Ben about church, I was so happy in the rain. It's a comfort and a constant in my life. I mean, I love sun (except when it betrays me and my skin flames pink), and snow is nice on occasion.

But rain...

It's the perfect weather. Whether you're outside or in, it just makes you feel cozy; you want to curl up with someone and talk about life, or go on a walk in rain boots and hoods and share in the majesty of creation.
This last summer, I went on a walk almost every day, either to write or just to see people. One of my favorite walks, though, was on a rainy day. Now, last summer was a bit unusual in that it really didn't rain all that much (way to go, Seattle, breaking those stereotypes). But this one morning, when I woke up and saw those clouds... I knew. So I set out for a walk when I knew the rain was soon to start. And sure enough, fifteen minutes later, right when I reached the waterfront, the rain started to fall in torrents.

Pure bliss.

As I walked back up the hill, hood pulled over my hair, hands shoved into sweatshirt pockets, I was just so happy, so filled up with the weight cleansing rain holds.

And today was not lacking in that cleansing.
It rained off and on all day. Nearing the dinner hour, though, it seemed to finally be settling into a substantial sun break. We had a night of love, of laughter, of forty fourth hillians crammed into one tiny Dahlstrom living room. Trying to count to thirty, eating tacos, giving hugs, my floor is my joy many days. These faces that I love so much, filing up to the door, shedding shoes in a mountain beside the couch. Screams of laughter, thoughts of love.

We filed out of the house, trekking toward Green Lake, frisbee ready. Team Bad Ass versus Team Awesome [later christened Team Better Than Team Bad Ass; even later, Team Douche Bag]. Running over wet grass, yelling, cheering, throwing, catching, name-calling, encouraging, falling: this is still love.
And then the rain decided he wasn't quite finished. The arc of a rainbow stretched over our field, a reminder that we have all, somehow, miraculously, been brought together by God. He lovingly planned these lives that we could know one another. What love.

After two resounding victories by Team Awesome/DB (go team, go team go), we walked back, tired, damp, grassy, smiling. Piling in cars, steaming up windows, heading to campus. A rush to put on dry shoes and get to group.

Halfway through our study of James, we land on this verse: "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be" (James 3:9-10)

Bob's notes on this verse struck a chord: "Is loving humanity a separate thing from loving God? Is it really a matter of spiritual importance, or just a side-note in our life of devotion to God? This is James' argument for why it matters: because human beings are the image of God, and for us to worship God means that we love one another. In the mind of James, it is completely absurd and contradictory to imagine that a person loves God and yet chooses to wound another human being. If you aren't utterly focused on loving humanity and yet you think that you're somehow worshiping your creator, you are mistaken. It's kind of exciting when you think about it... God's will for us isn't a hidden mystery - it's standing there staring us right in the face, in the form of each person we meet!"

This is amazing. Loving people is a spiritual act of worship. We do not fully understand God, and we cannot fully love God, if we do not find the need to love those around us. Brilliant.
Favorite verse for right now: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another" (John 13:34).
This is our call to love. Will we listen?

Monday, May 4, 2009

On a Great High Priest, Whose Name is Love

Well, you see, life never turns out quite so exactly as we'd like to plan. God is amazing, and He has these plans that are a smidge bigger than ours. There are just so many things He is doing, and we are short sighted. In the end, we are often left in heartbreak, in desolation, in confusion, because everything that we have so carefully planned for is shattered.

Then what do we have left to hold on to?


Except for God. He is so huge, there is no place we could possibly be where He is not. Even when we burrow as deeply and desperately as we can within ourselves, still He is there; always surrounding us, always within us. Oh, what hope this lends to life.

Praise the Lord, O my soul,
that God is faithful,
that God is good,
that God is just,
that God is merciful,
that God is gracious,
that God is all-powerful,
that God is in control, and most importantly
that God is love.
Thanks be to God.

Before the throne of God above,
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on His hands;
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in heaven He stands,
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there,
Who made an end of all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there, the risen Lamb,
My perfect, spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace.

One in Himself, I cannot die;
My soul is purchased with His blood;
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in your patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort."
2 Corinthians 1:3-7