"Graceland" is the name of my favorite song and album. It's by Paul Simon, but more importantly, it's what "home" sounds and feels like to me. We always listened to this album as we traveled from my home in Tennessee to my parents' childhood homes in Florida. But today, it's also a pretty good snapshot of my theology. Somewhere I really believe that the Christian journey is all about a wild trip to Grace-land. As I see it, Grace-land is the place where God is waiting to meet even us–with all the baggage and brokeness that we tote with us. Grace-land is the place where we will be received with open arms, even though our attempts at “getting it right” have been miserable failures at best. But, I think, every step we take is a step on the journey to Graceland.

Friday, September 23, 2011

God said, "Let there be brightly colored paints"

I'm pretty sure that's somewhere in Genesis, while God was creating all sorts of delightful things. Why else would God have spent so much time describing the amazing birds and landscapes and oceans, if we weren't to use them as models for things to draw and paint and write about?

I've had a need to paint lately...almost as strong as the need that often holds me captive--to play with words. Something in my soul has needed again to feel a paintbrush, to create something vibrant and life-filled, to use big bold colors and potentially even bolder brush strokes. My "safe" color-pencils, though often a medium of choice, weren't cutting it. Pastels seemed too limiting. Pen and Ink felt too heavy to hold the subject with any integrity. The only thing that would do is a big canvas and super bold oil paints. Nevermind that I haven't painted at all since the two random pictures I did in seminary.

I spent the morning with my sketch, and did the color blocking for a painting that I hope to love. But that's the thing with oil. If I don't love it, I can paint over it or blend it into something else. Or if I really don't love it, I can pretty much scrape the whole thing away. But even if I don't love the finished product, even if I can't get the paintbrush to convey the emotions I'm feeling, I LOVED the process. I'm only beginning, but I felt so free as I was watching the strokes take shape in front of me.

And I loved the types of Oil Paint--the kind that thins with water. No nasty turpentine, no hours spent cleaning brushes, no reeking for two days, no long drying times. Every thing I didn't love about oils is gone. Now I can just paint without all the hassle. Where was that when I was doing a lot of painting?

As DH is in his busy, workaholic season, I'm glad to have something just for me. I can be nerdy and play classical music and leave the windows open. I can create the scenes that have only been visible to my mind's eye.

Lookout, boring eggshell walls. You may be next!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Soul Food

It's a delightfully chilly, cloudy fall day.  The husband is yelling at the Tennessee-Florida game, and the pets are hiding out from his loud voice.  I've had the windows open all day and have been snuggled in all the quilts that I collect. I didn't get out of my pajamas until 2. I've been fighting a cold, but mostly my brain is tired.

Today is everything I've ever prayed for in a day of rest. I started with a clean house.  I had a little time to myself while D was on the radio (sometimes, being an introvert married to an extreme extrovert is tough!) I'm getting ready to go on a long child that will require a sweatshirt.  And I've cooked. Spaghetti is simmering away.  I made D "pub dip" and pretzels, and a pumkin dip for me. Before the night is over, I'll have made most of the meals we'll eat during this busy week. Tonight, maybe I'll read and knit.  Maybe I'll start a new painting.  Or maybe I'll just be.

But I'm grateful for a chance to put myself back together, a day that has placed absolutely no expectations on me. I haven't cooked anything that would be classified as "soul food", but my heart doesn't know that.  Today is a happy-heart sort of day.

Seek Ye First

From the Orignal Revgalblogpal starter:

I was struck in our weekly Lectio Divina group by a few verses from Psalm 105:3-4:
. . . let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. 
Seek the Lord and his strength; 
seek his presence continually.
Seeking is rejoicing. Rejoicing comes from the seeking, NOT the end of glory, heaven, enlightenment, or whatever. Seeking is the journey--RIGHT NOW!

So for this Friday Five, list what you are seeking, whether it is trivial, profound, or ordinary--whatever you would like to share! List 5 and add a bonus if you feel like it!

I feel like I am seeking a lot of things right now.  For a reason that I can't explain, fall always seems like a time of introspection.  Maybe it's a time of taking stock and reasking the question of "who am I?" even as I ask myself "who am I called to be." But here are some of the things I'm seeking, in no particular order of importance.

1.  God's will.  Yeah, yeah... that sounds like me slapping down the preacher card, but I don't mean it that way.  This is a seaon of big questions for me.  While I spend a lot of time in prayer anyway, I'm spending more time in conversation with my creator.  I guess the honest thing to say is that I'm asking a lot of things of God, but I'm working really hard at listening too.

2. Self-determination.   I've accomplished lots of my life goals already, but there are several smaller ones that I'm having a hard time meeting. I've let life distract me.  I've lost motivation.  I've at turns believed they were impossible.

3.  Shalom.  Peace with how my house is kept, with how my body looks, with how things are, realizing that there are just some things that will never be as perfect as I'd like them to be.

4. Time.  To feed my creative soul, to paint, to cook lavish meals, to run without watching the clock.

5.  A place to be who I am called to be.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Goodbye... bathing suits, and days meant for lounging around.  Goodbye days that it's too hot to cook, or run, or breathe.  Goodbye days of waking up, already dripping with sweat.

Hello, beautiful days of soft light. Delicious, warm smells, and deep, rich colors. Days meant for running and playing and basking. Open window and snuggly quilt days.  Days spent yelling for the team in orange, because that's God's color.  Welcome back, Pumpkin Spice Latte days. Glad to see you, apple baking days.

These are the days I was meant for...days when my heart is the happiest.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

An Aniversary...of sorts

September 9, 2011. The day my world shook, two days before the whole world shook. The day I wept, some forty-eight hours, almost to the minute, before our nation wept.

Sitting in a sunny spot on my dorm room bed at Tennessee, praying and reading scripture, God spoke. I was reading through the Bible day by day, intending to read from Genesis to Revelation. I should have been plodding through Leviticus, but a voice kept nagging at me to read Jeremiah. I told the voice that I had a plan, and that I would not get to Jeremiah for many months. But still the voice nagged, and bugged, and whispered. My dorm was unairconditioned, so I had all the windows open. In a way that seems like something that could only happen in the movies, a strong breeze came through, and blew the pages of my bible around. Not to Jeremiah, thankfully, because that would have been unbelievable. I tried to get back to Leviticus but the pages kept blowing, and still the voice tugged at me. "Read Jeremiah." So Jeremiah it was. The voice, however, was not specific about what I should read, so I just started at the beginning. A mere four verses in, here's what I found

 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”  But the Lord said to me,“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” Then the Lord put out his hand and rtouched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put smy words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day kover nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Words to a hestitant Jeremiah.  Words to a hestitant me.  People were beginning to recognize my call to ministry, though I was quite certain they were wrong.  But that day, I said yes.  And the irony was not lost on me, two days later, as I sat in a pew with mourners from all over Knoxville, as we prayed for our heartbroken nation.

God's call to me was clear:  Share my love with the ones who have put their trust in the things of this world.  Show them that though the mountains may shake, my love for them will never falter.  Bring my love and shalom to all the broken places and people.  Go to those to whom I will send you.

It's been ten years.  Many will mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday, because that's the day that defined a whole generation of people, the day that changed a nation. I will join with everyone else remembering the day on Sunday, but tomorrow, I will remember that it was the day I said yes, the day from which my life will never be the same.