31 August 2008

I'm the Domestic Type

"As he hurried along, eagerly anticipating the moment when he would be at home again among the things he knew and liked, the Mole saw clearly that he was an animal of tilled field and hedgerow, linked to the ploughed furrow, the frequented pasture, the lane of evening lingerings, the cultivated garden-plot. For others the asperities, the stubborn endurance, or the clash of actual conflict, that went with Nature in the rough; he must be wise, must keep to the pleasant places in which his lines were laid and which held adventure enough, in their way, to last for a lifetime."
-Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

I'm rather like Mole: I need consistency and schedule, or nothing gets done and I feel empty and listless. Of course, adventure delights me as much as it did Mole, but also like him, I can't stay there forever. One can only travel for so long. One can only rearrange furniture, or dabble in new subjects, or cook new food for so long. Then it's time to settle (at least for a little while) and make the adventure your own, incorporating what you've learned or seen into that central core of your life, rather than popping off into a completely new sphere and abandoning the old.

I go adventuring in order to grow...to build...not to change utterly.

28 August 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Good Classes

Since I'm a senior this year, I have a lot of leeway in my class choice; no more core, and all I have to worry about are classes that I love (and that I'd want to take anyway, regardless of major requirements). Yesterday, I had:
-Prof. Westblade on Jonathan Edwards
-Dr. Somerville on Modern American Lit
-Dr. Wyatt-Hayes for Intermediate Spanish

I enjoyed them all, and what's more, those are some of my very favorite professors. :) In addition to those three courses, I've got Dr. Juroe for 18th-century British Lit, and I'm taking choir and writing a thesis. Finally (uber-exciting!!) I have Michael Ward, an Oxford don, for a special two-week seminar on "The Theological Imagination of C.S. Lewis." That's in October. I can't wait.

Funny story from Dr. Somerville: apparently, it was a fad among posh French gentlemen in the late 1700s to take turtles for walks. Did this display their copious leisure time, or was there a more profound reason? "Look at us, we're so rich that we can afford to fritter away the afternoon walking beside a turtle!" Sheesh.

25 August 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Short and Sweet

This is a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins: "Heaven-Haven," subtitled "A nun takes the veil." I'm not a nun, but this is how I feel when I'm in a stressful situation (any situation, really) and I pray that the Lord would shelter me under His wings.

I have desired to go
Where springs not fail
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.

23 August 2008

The Room

Here are a couple pictures of my room, now that I've finished messing with it.

Sink in the room; no running down the hallway to a communal bathroom.

Here's what you see as you enter.

Closer shot of the bed corner... and several of my precious posters. I've got at least four maps up on the walls! It makes me feel so cosmopolitan. lol

And this is my desk, laden with books and other very necessary paraphernalia. I'm glad to have my speakers back. :)

21 August 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Unhurried Schedules

Since I arrived in Hillsdale yesterday morning, I've had a lot of time for unpacking, arranging, and fun. After saying goodbye to my family and (sort of) tidying up my room, I spent a late evening with friends...laughing and cooking and playing games and just catching up on one another's summers. I don't think we split until sometime after midnight. However, I got to sleep as long as I wanted to this morning (no classes yet!) and then did a bit more to my room. It's still messy, and here's the only truly organized part of it:

Yep. The closet's the only presentable part. As soon as I finish setting up my room, though, I'll take pictures and post them! After I fiddled around with boxes and hangers for a while, I went to College Baptist Church, where there was a lunch for all the honors kids who got here early for a retreat. Nice to see everyone again. :) Now I am back in my room for another hour or so, and then heading out to Camp Michindoh for the retreat.

Here is Luke at lunch yesterday (a good and cheap Mexican restaurant near campus). I thought he was mature enough for college, but now I'm not so sure...

18 August 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Wistful Goodbyes

I leave for Michigan tomorrow morning, and though I'm thrilled to get back to classes and professors and my wonderful friends at school, it's hard for me to leave home this year. A lot of my relationships here in Lancaster have grown and matured this summer, so it's not as easy to say goodbye this time. I guess that's a good thing, right? :) Luke and I had a big party at our house last night and I was just overwhelmed by the blessings God has given me through my friends. We can talk and laugh and grow together, loving every minute of it and knowing that for each of us, the most important thing in the world is that God be glorified. How precious that is! Believers in Christ share something that nobody else will ever even understand, and what's more, that connection will last forever...because God's glorious kingdom is eternal, and so are our places in it.

Anyway, this is an Irish song about leaving your home and grieving over it, yet hoping to return someday. It's sung by The Dubliners and many other groups.


Farewell to Prince's Landing Stage
River Mersey, fare thee well
I am bound for California
A place I know right well

So fare thee well, my own true love
When I return united we will be
It's not the leaving of Liverpool that's grieving me
But, my darling, when I think of thee

I'm bound off for California
By the way of stormy Cape Horn
And I'm bound to write you a letter, love
When I am homeward bound

Farewell to lower Frederick Street,
Ensign Terrace and Park Lane
For I think it will be a long, long time
Before I see you again

Oh the sun is on the harbour, love
And I wish I could remain
For I know it will be a long, long time
Till I see you again

So fare thee well, my own true love
When I return united we will be
It's not the leaving of Liverpool that's grieving me
But, my darling, when I think of thee

16 August 2008

Stuff & Nonsense

Do we really need all this stuff?

Luke and I are packing for college this weekend, he for Grove City and I for Hillsdale. As the clothes and shoes and books and desk lamps and pillows and stationary and coffee mugs pile up in our respective rooms, I look around and wonder: how much of this do we really need?

During my packing extravaganza, I've tried harder than ever before to reduce needless luggage. In fact, I have thrown out more clothes this summer than I've purchased, and my "hm, I might need this someday" junk drawer has shrunk considerably. My packrat tendencies sometimes get the better of me, but on the other hand, I love organizing and simplifying my life, and that usually requires me to throw things away. That's fine with me.

Still, where did all this stuff come from?

And here is where I can begin to confuse thriftiness with folly, or self-denial with ingratitude. There's a lot to be said for contentment with fewer possessions and making do with what you have. I think our society needs to lower its standards of prosperity; Americans seem to think that in order to be "well off," you've got to wear something different for three weeks straight, own two computers (not to mention a cell phone and whatever other scheduling gadget you fancy), and have extra change to spend at Starbucks. Hello, people. For most of human history, you'd be rich if you had the simple guarantee of something warm to wear and something healthy to eat. The majority of the world's population today, in fact, would be thrilled to have a fraction of what you take for granted.

Yet in my case, this attitude--while it begins as something good--can become judgmental and ungrateful. First, I start wagging my finger at people who spend money on Corvettes and copper saucepans, telling myself that if I ever had that much money, I'd be content with something less flashy and give the rest away. That's a big problem with my own heart. It is not my place to judge other people's financial decisions! Sure, buying a $500 cooking pot would be stupid for someone in my position, but maybe it isn't foolish for someone else. God has chosen to bless them in a different way than He has blessed me, and the manner in which they choose to use that blessing is a matter between them and the Lord. (Didn't I just buy a pricey Turkish carpet, anyway?) Second, I begin to feel guilty about the nice things I do have. I am not willing to accept God's kindness to me, because I think it should be more evenly distributed. In those cases, I need to remember what the wise man of Ecclesiastes says about enjoying the fruits of your labor:

"Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God."

I don't know how I'd feel about inheriting a ready-made fortune, but according to the Bible, I'm allowed to use what I earn to buy and enjoy nice possessions...perpetually thanking God for the ability to do so, and making sure to share my wealth with others.

Interesting tension here. I suppose it'll follow me as long as I live, but I want to deal with the questions of "money" and "stewardship" in a wise way!

14 August 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Chiropractors

This morning, I went to our chiropractor Dr. Tierney (affectionately known in our family as "the witch doctor") for an adjustment before heading back to school. He popped a few things, stretched a few things, cracked a few things...

I feel so much better.

13 August 2008

Park + Lake = Fun

This afternoon, we took a picnic lunch to Sam Lewis State Park (over the Susquehanna River) and climbed around on the rocks there.

Then we headed over to Lake Clark, where we waded in and tried not to get completely soaked.

Rachel and Mark had fun finding shells and "cool" stones on the shore.

11 August 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Nonsense for Laughs

YOU ARE OLD, FATHER WILLIAM: a bit of nonsense verse by Lewis Carroll. I love studying Carroll for my thesis. :) He's so very quirky, and you're never sure what will come out of his characters' mouths next.

"You are old, father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head --
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

"In my youth," father William replied to his son,
"I feared it would injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."

"You are old," said the youth, "as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door --
Pray, what is the reason of that?"

"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
"I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment -- one shilling the box --
Allow me to sell you a couple."

"You are old," said the youth, "and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak --
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"

"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life."

"You are old," said the youth; one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose --
What made you so awfully clever?"

"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
Said his father; "don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"

09 August 2008

Into His Image

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."
~2 Corinthians 3:17-18

I'm reading through a short history of Western philosophy this summer: a primer really, but suprisingly detailed and very helpful. (Oh, and it has pictures. That's always a good thing.) I feel so ignorant in this area, and I want to know what people mean when they say "he's a Hegelian" or "that smacks of Kant." Never having taken a philosophy class, I have turned to independent study. It has worked, mostly.

Anyway...what does this have to do with 2 Corinthians? Well, one chapter in the book focuses on the influence of Eastern religion on a couple of Western philosophers, such as Schopenhauer. Essentially, most of those religions emphasize a loss of our identity, making it the goal of a truly virtuous or enlightened person. We (in Hinduism) are absorbed into the divine spirit of the cosmos or (in Buddhism) become free of all things, even existence itself. No more consciousness, no more independence. The most glorious end we can hope for is a type of annihilation.

Now compare that to the promise of Christ. We will see Him face to face. And that means that we'll still have faces to see Him with! This is where 2 Corinthians comes in. St. Paul says that we are being transformed into the image of Christ...not into Christ Himself. That's a key difference between Eastern and Western religion, and I suppose it lies at the root of our divergent views of the individual. For Westerners living in a Judeo-Christian culture, one person's soul is actually a precious treasure, something which will be eternally separate (not something which will just be absorbed into the cosmos anyway). So we pay attention to individuals. To their minds, their hearts, their actions.

In a Christian worldview, we don't become part of God: instead, we become reflections and imitations of Him, magnifying His glory all the more through our differences. It's like a chandelier with a lot of crystals and corners. The light gets refracted and reflected because of the various angles and thicknesses of the glass, more so than if it were to shine simply against one flat surface. In St. John's vision of heaven, he can distinguish individual people around God's throne, each bringing his unique tongue and mind and culture to praise the Lord. There's no "homogenizing process" at the pearly gates. And even here on earth, though together we comprise the body of Christ, Scripture carefully makes distinctions between members. We don't all become a foot or an eye. The differences between us are created by God Himself, and instead of being smoothed out and mashed together, it is individuals--with all their quirks and splits and varying interests--who are used for His purposes.

As C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, we become more "ourselves" as we submit to Christ, not less. That is, we become who we were truly created to be, holy and perfect, rather than sin-twisted caricatures. And that's why this 2 Corinthians passage refers to the Lord as the Spirit of freedom. Because He wants to bring liberty to His beloved children, he makes us into images of His Son. This process does not trample on our souls and minds; instead, it sets them free. There is more beauty and depth in Christ than we could ever see. Being made into His image, then, could not possibly be a restriction.

It's as if a horse who had lived in a dark, cramped stable all his life were suddenly unchained and turned out into an infinite world of excitement, beauty, and wonder. The stable was familiar, while the world outside was under the rule of some other master. Now, do you think the horse would complain just because that wonderful world belonged to someone else? Do you think he'd want to scuttle back into his stable, just because he preferred to be in control? I doubt it. To quote Lewis once more, I think he'd kick up his heels and run "further up and further in," becoming happier and freer the longer he ran. In the same way, in an odd irony, God requires us to submit in order to enjoy liberty. Yet He promises not to crush those who come to Him; instead, he picks us up, sets a crown on our head, and turns us to face the light of His own surpassing glory.

07 August 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Community

"The very fact that God, though singular in nature, is plural and societal in person, indicates that we should not view ourselves as isolated individuals who happen to exist in close proximity to others, but as. . .relational persons in community. . .so that what one does affects another, what one needs can be supplied by another, and what one seeks to accomplish may be assisted by another.

Living in isolation with the pretense of autonomy is, of course, 'the American way.' Our heroes are those rugged individuals like the Lone Ranger or Superman or Rambo who can do everything themselves and need no one's help. But when we insist on going solo, when the I-did-it-my-way syndrome strikes, we are rejecting God's plan for how we should live with one another. When we refuse to be in relationships of accountability and interdependence with one another, we are choosing to live in violation of God's created design."
--Dr. Bruce Ware, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

I'm grateful for a loving family who cares about what happens to me, and for loving friends who invest their lives into mine. They are all models of Biblical community and bring great glory to God as they seek to imitate His character!

06 August 2008


Rachel and I had tea together.

Simon: "Happy birthday! Now you're 21 and you can do stuff."


Rachel: "How come Rebekah doesn't get presents?"
Me: "I'm too old."
Mom: "Um, no. Her presents are the wine and steak and all the other expensive food we've had today!"

Menu (always one of the most important parts of one's birthday):

Breakfast...yogurt-berry parfaits, bagels and marmalade, and Irish Breakfast tea
Lunch...taco salad
Dinner...grilled steak with mushrooms, broccoli, Italian bread, caponata, and a Chilean Merlot
Dessert...chocolate torte with raspberries and whipped cream (which was also good on coffee!)


Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you established the earth, and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants.
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.
I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts.
The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies.
I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.--Psalm 119 "Lamedh"

04 August 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: A Birthday Poem

Since it's my 21st birthday on Wednesday, I thought I'd post an appropriate poem today. :) This is "A Birthday Poem" by Ted Kooser. I really like the imagery, starting with a humorous comparison but turning serious in its carpe diem outlook: first, the sun as a dairy cow, but then the entire day just brimming with wonderful, joyful potential. And that is how I want to see every sunrise, not just on my birthday, because "His mercies are new every morning." With that promise in mind, we can truly say, "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!"
So anyway, the poem. Enjoy.
Just past dawn, the sun stands
with its heavy red head
in a black stanchion of trees,
waiting for someone to come
with his bucket
for the foamy white light,
and then a long day in the pasture.
I too spend my days grazing,
feasting on every green moment
till darkness calls,
and with the others
I walk away into the night,
swinging the little tin bell
of my name.

03 August 2008

Five Minutes at Our House

In case anyone had the slightest doubt regarding our (in)sanity, here's a short episode from one evening this past week.

Mark and I go to the back porch.

Simon comes onto the porch and starts to chase Mark.

Mark responds by picking up a stick and using it as a saber, shouting, "On guard, you foul fiend!"

The boys duel like a pair of French musketeers.
Simon has the worst of it and perishes melodramatically ("Ah, I am slain!"), but handily resurrects himself ten seconds later.

Seeking revenge, Simon picks Mark up by the ankles and dangles his head two inches above the ground.

Mark shrieks.

Simon proceeds to carry Mark (still inverted) out into the yard, hollering, "Birds, here are cookies!"

Marks continues to shriek.

Matthew flies out the back door to join Simon, slips on the way down the hill, and sits down rather abruptly.

Simon almost drops Mark because he's laughing so hard.

An Amish buggy rumbles by, and the befuddled driver slows down to stare at these maniacal children.

All three brothers wave wildly and do a sort of mangled chicken dance.

I am vastly amused.

01 August 2008

An Advertisement

Hey, listen up!! This is an announcement from Luke's personal PR agent, ME. Everyone within a 151.43-mile radius of Lancaster City should come see the upcoming performance of Godspell by Central Lancaster Country Homeschool Music. Why? Well, because it's a great show to start with. But more importantly, because my brother is playing Jesus and basically does an AWESOME job with it. Oh, and the rest of the cast is pretty good too. haha

I watched a rehearsal last night and it made me 1) laugh and 2) cry, which are both good signs.

Anyway, there are two performances, both on August 9: I believe they're at 3:00 and 7:00, but I could be wrong about that (some PR agent I am). Tickets are $5 at the door. If you are interested, ask Luke, because he will know more details. :)

Here's the address of the church where they are performing it...

Newsong Fellowship Church
609 Prospect St
Lancaster, PA 17603