Archive for the ‘EXTRAORDINARY EVERYDAY’ Category

  • May 8, 2012

    april showers carry into may

    thunderstorms gathering. the sound of this I love almost as much as the storm itself. clouds rush in. settling as we quicken our steps and dig around in our bags for the umbrella we hope is there. trees rustle. swaying softly at first, but in a moment, forcefully. as though they might topple over if not for roots digging deep into the earth. and then the rain falls. like a bucket spilled over a sieve. not gradually growing, but all at once. with a rush of excitement and a bit of melodrama.

    there’s just something about everything getting ready. preparing instantly and all at once.

    like a symphony right before the start. players enter. settling as we are seated and decide who will take command of the shared armrest. papers rustle. black and white sheets of notes and bars and soaring scores moving into their proper place in the order of things. and then the conductor quiets us all. and the silence before the opening crescendo envelopes us. and then the music is there. not gradually growing, but all at once. with a rush of excitement and a bit of melodrama.

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  • March 21, 2012


    spring is here with a gentle ferociousness that reminds us of the persistence of change. of course, change like this we welcome with the shedding of our winter layers and usher in with open windows and fresh tulips placed in mason jars. we even welcome the drama of thundershowers and the moody rebellion of clouds as they fight to take back their reign on the sky. we flood to courtyards and park benches on our lunch breaks. roll up our pant legs and take off our suit jackets. and soak up the vitamin d our bodies have craved through months of winter.

    we lament at the brevity of spring. cherry blossom and magnolia trees burst to life in a matter of hours and seem to shed their skin just as quickly. so we insist on meandering walks through tree lined neighborhoods. we allow ourselves to stop and breathe in the scent of new life. we allow our eyes to study the branches above us. to feast on colors so vibrant they do not seem real. these are the trees of storybooks and fairytales we read as children.

    spring brings a snowfall all its own. we walk through fallen flower petals like a bride down the aisle and try not to crush the colors below us. unlike the leaves of autumn, they do not crunch. their death is in the height of life. it seems a bit cruel but somehow necessary. the wind blows and we feel the blossoms fall into our hair like snowflakes.

    go outside. take a deep breath. walk a little slower. smile at strangers. for spring is here and life seems brighter.




  • February 23, 2012

    some things i did this weekend

    flew on a tiny plane from DC to omaha. was reminded why I like big planes much better.
    surprised a wonderful friend for her birthday. some might call her a best friend. I would not disagree.
    discovered that while omaha may not be the bustling metropolis that is DC, it does boast some pretty impressive brick.
    visited my kind of bookstore. the kind with keats spilling out of the rafters. and steinbeck from floor to ceiling. and dust happily settling on everything like the smile of my old friend settling happily on me.
    watched warm winter light interact with a house overflowing with friends. and food. and so much laughter.
    (and maybe some settlers of catan too.)
    found a most impressive display of salt and pepper shakers.
    complete with these little cuties.
    and also wondered at the thought of buying a family portrait that belongs to someone I have never met.
    played in the snow.
    and walked and talked and remembered what it was like to be completely at ease.
    experienced the most entertaining and completely hardcore display of female empowerment.
    drank foamy chai (the best kind) and read astonishing and imaginative graphic novels.
    drank maté, listened to youth lagoon and hung out with one very cool dog named gracie.
    found some great street art.
    and realized omaha is much cooler than I thought.
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  • January 25, 2012

    photos i did not take

    I am not yet very brave when it comes to taking pictures throughout my day. I’m working on it but I have not mastered the art of boldly snapping away in the midst of strangers and the great unknown. but I still see all of it. and thanks to this genius of a blog, I remember to remember it. to catalog it in my mind and recount it with words.

    a few photos I did not take today.

    1. people running – always running – to catch the train. bursting through the ticket gates. bounding up the escalator. only to see that the train that is arriving is, in fact, going in the opposite direction.

    2. sleeping. vacant stares. daily newspapers masking a tired face. waking up takes a while I suppose.

    3. a homeless man alone in the courtyard with the fountain that has dried up in the winter cold. sitting on a tattered and filthy green throw pillow. throwing pieces of bread for the pigeons that are not there. he has such a large supply, breaking off piece after piece and throwing them in and around the fountain. the birds still don’t appear.

    4. the big red open-top dc tour bus. faithfully arriving at the same time twice every hour. with not a single thing on that top row of seats. except plastic seat covers flapping in the wind.

    5. the “regulars.” people who have become friends just by virtue of time and place. the daily newspaper man who tries to hand me a morning examiner every morning without fail although I have yet to accept one. the homeless man who is always in the same place and always smiles at me in a fatherly sort of way while telling me to “keep warm out there” or “remember to smile.” the morning security officer who faithfully confuses my name with someone else’s and continues talking to me even as the elevator doors are closing. the bank teller behind her glass. the train station manager in his booth. I like that we have created a sort of friendship through these shared bits of life.

    6. rushing and rushing and rushing. to wait and wait and wait. to order lunch. for the metro. at the grocery store. rushing and waiting. always the same.

    7. budget spreadsheet after budget spreadsheet. my mind slowly turning into mush. I’m actually okay without a picture documenting this.

    8. an awkward side hug and glances out of the corner of the eye. it seems as though someone paired a first date with a lunch date. on a tuesday. this seems ill-planned to me.

    9. lovely friends gathered around wine and cheese and chocolate covered raisins. gleefully watching quite a silly show. we mostly groan and mock but secretly love all the grand romantic gestures. the foundation of genuine community around something so ridiculous astounds and delights me.

    10. teenagers walking by the house on their way from cvs. two boys and one girl in the middle. carrying mountain dew and joking about something I cannot hear. isn’t this supposed to be a school night? and who even drinks mountain dew anymore? these questions lead to an even bigger one – when did I get so old?

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  • January 11, 2012

    today I came home to a care package of sorts from a lovely friend. some earrings I will most definitely be wearing to work tomorrow. because they will match everything. I tell you, that girl knows me. I love that.

    there was also a card with sweet words on the outside and even sweeter words (her own) on the inside.

    when the world says “give up” hope whispers “hold on just a little longer.”

    she told me that when she saw it she instantly thought it was me. I was kind of shocked by that. because a lot of the time I am a glass-half-empty type of girl. a lot of the time I am prone to melodramatic despair.

    but lately. in one of the most difficult seasons of my life. hope has somehow become natural. I find myself finding joy in the midst of my sadness and humor in the midst of my confusion. I find myself still seeing the glass as half-empty but knowing, without a doubt, that it will get filled up eventually. one day it will be overflowing.

    so thanks lovely friend. for the rockin’ jewelry. and especially for the kind words. and really thanks to lots of lovely friends. you may not have given me jewelery but your kind words have not gone unnoticed. your words from a million different mediums and a thousand different places have been nestled in my melodramatic heart and are more important than I can even say. they are the hope that keeps me holding on just a little longer. you are the hope that keeps me holding on just a little longer.

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  • June 7, 2011

    wooden heart

    I have loved this song for so long and for so many reasons. and if I could imagine the perfect images to go with it, these would be them.

    a small warning: maybe don’t watch this on a saturday afternoon in the middle of a crowded coffee shop. its beauty and honesty will make you cry. and then you may feel awkward when you look up and people are giving you odd looks of concern and confusion.

    but please watch it. as big as you can make it (all you have to do is click on the little arrows in the bottom right). and more than once. and then tell me what you think.

    back in march in the midst of regrouping, this song was getting me through so many things. in its own way, bringing order to the chaos I was feeling in and around me. and now here is the official video and I can’t really believe how great it is. and how well it fits into the images I had in my mind whenever the song played.

    thanks to my wonderful friend with the wonderful blog, I found it this weekend. it was actually directed by her super cool brother, whom I don’t know, but often wish I did because of how he captures light and details in videos like this one (and also in this one).

    I love his voice. the cadence of his tone and how it mixes with the words. I love the melody. the slightly distorted simplicity of it. I love the way he is honest and raw and slightly dramatic in a way I wish I could be sometimes. but mostly it’s those lyrics. lyrics like this: I know that we are all made out of shipwrecks, every single board. but also like this: but we pick ourselves up, and try and grow better through the change. and definitely like this: everything falls apart at the exact same time that is all comes together perfectly for the next step. how they show me life is broken. but also full of hope. and beauty. and a small glimpse of what is to come.

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  • November 25, 2010

    let me paint

    welcome morning – anne sexton

    there is joy in all:
    in the hair I brush each morning.
    in the cannon towel, newly washed,
    that I rub my body with each morning.
    in the chapel of eggs I cook each morning,
    in the outcry from the kettle
    that heats my coffee each morning,
    in the spoon and the chair that cry
    “hello there, anne” each morning,
    in the godhead of the table
    that I set my silver plate, cup upon each morning.

    all this is God,
    right here in my pea-green house each morning
    and I mean
    though often forget,
    to give thanks,
    to faint down by the kitchen table
    in a prayer of rejoicing
    as the holy birds at the kitchen window
    peck into their marriage of seeds.

    so while I think of it,
    let me paint a thank-you on my palm
    for this God,
    this laughter of the morning,
    lest it go unspoken.

    the joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
    dies young.

    whenever I think about being thankful I come back to this poem. it reminds me to be thankful for everything. every detail. and lately I have just been floored with how awesome and cool and amazing God is. and that reminds me to be thankful. because he works all things for good. and to his glory. and there are one in the same. and I cannot comprehend how he does it. so all I can be is thankful.

    in my grand tradition of painting a thank-you on my palm here are five things I am thankful for – one for each of my fingers – with the hope that I can share my joy before it “dies young.”

    pinkie: I am thankful for details. I love seeing the little aspects of life that I miss if I don’t look hard enough. lately people watching has been a big thing for me. and dc has proved to be a very useful place to practice. watching the way people interact on the train. watching the way they walk down the street. watching the way the kids in youth group are a family. the way they hug each other and love each other in a way that truly mirrors how Christ loves us. watching the way the rainclouds move slowly in. and then watching the raindrops fall as people in umbrellas run through the rain looking for shelter.

    ring: I am thankful for my morning walk to the train. let’s be honest, most of the time I hate commuting. but on the mornings when it is nice enough weather (and I am not running late for work) the mile-long walk to the metro station is refreshing. it is such a nice way to wake up and be thankful for the day that has been given to me. to see the blue sky and feel the cold morning air mix with the rising sun on my skin. to walk in time with music and remind myself that God is good. all the time.

    middle: I am thankful for people who smile for no reason. every once in a while I will catch someone smiling just because. sometimes, on the train, they’re reading and find something funny that no one else can see. sometimes I think they just remember something and it reminds them that life is really great. sometimes – and this is always the best – they will smile at me for no apparent reason too. and that just makes me happy. because people around here don’t smile too often. they are much too serious for that. but every once in a while – when they look up from the street or the newspaper or their phone and smile – well that just makes me so thankful to be a human being.

    pointer: I am thankful for flowers. this is an easy one because, let’s face it, flowers are a must in winter. when things are cold and dreary I try to have a continuous flow of flowers reminding me that life is just so very beautiful and worth all the hard stuff that we go through. reminding me that growth and sanctification are hard but always produce that which is beautiful to God.

    thumb: I am thankful for friends. I know this seems cliche to say in the thanksgiving season, but lately it’s been more true than ever. as I have begun to finally connect with people in dc and as I have had such wonderful friends visit me and call me and care for me well from 3,000 miles away, I have been astounded by how awesome community is. for a long time I used it as a crutch to rely on other people instead of God. but lately I have been learning how community is necessary not because it replaces God – but because it is a reflection of the perfect community we will one day have with him. and when I realized that everything about my friendships changed. the way I love people. the way I receive love from them. every aspect of my relationships should glorify God. and when I stop making my relationships about how they satisfy my desires and insecurities and start making sure they are pleasing to God – well that just makes me so much more thankful to know the amazing people that I do.

    the joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
    dies young.

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  • November 25, 2010

    details this week


    hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.
    you wait and watch and work; you don’t give up.
    – anne lamott

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  • November 19, 2010

    thoughts on :: this morning

    casual friday means jeans. brown boots. favorite jacket with the big brown buttons. chunky scarf the color of red wine. bangs pinned back leaving my face uncluttered. leaving my sight clear. feelings of confidence. grace. contentedness. knowing that no matter what happens today God will still know who I am.

    deciding to miss the bus means a walk through this crisp fall air. just cold enough to see my breath. hands bunched in pockets. earbuds firmly in place. andrew bird fluttering through my mind like the trees above me. his voice like mint meltaways in my mouth. my steps fall in time with the beat. perfect polaroid blue sky. sun low enough to be blocked by the trees. slivers of light peeking through like shards of glass. the feeling of sunlight mixed with the bite of morning air as it gently slaps my cheeks.

    the gray of the sidewalk suddenly gives way to fallen leaves yet to be raked and bagged and disposed of. piled high enough to cover the top of my feet. my steps slow down. dead leaves rustle around my steps and crunch under my feet. one of my most favorite non-musical sounds. the sound of a life at its end – content with the journey to this point. content knowing that a purpose has been fulfilled. a smile pulls at the corners of my mouth. this is the adult equivalent to the jumping of huge piles of raked leaves. moments of pure elation that punctuated my childhood. there is the house with the abandoned bird bath. no other lawn ornaments around it. just a solitary bird bath painted royal blue. a leaf floats in the discarded water that will soon freeze. maybe this one leaf will remain, crystallized until spring comes again.

    a truck advertising lawn care and leaf removal pulls me back. cars speed past in their hurry to start the day. my pace quickens, no longer in time with the music. now keeping time with the people walking around and past in their hurry to catch the approaching train. but my mind stays back at the bird bath, with the fallen leaves underfoot. my heart stays at rest, knowing that despite how things change, my place as one who belongs to one so much greater will always remain.



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  • November 16, 2010

    thoughts on :: how he loves

    saturday, november 13. the lamb center.

    I think I will be processing this one for a long time. but here is the first attempt to understand how God continues to blow my expectations out of the water and show me his love and grace in the most unlikely of situations.

    just as bible study was about to begin, her mother tapped me on the shoulder. “would you mind sliding over a little bit more? we like to sit on the end.” as I stood up to make room at the table, I saw mia. a little girl so deformed it made me gasp for breath. her skull was folded in on itself, almost looking like an egg on its side. her hands and feet were curled into balls. her body was shrunken to half its size. she had her name written in sharpie on each of her socks. her mother, a petite woman not older than 40, slowly lifted mia out of her wheelchair and placed her in her lap. “well good morning, miss mia.” the table echoed with greetings from old friends. a most unlikely community surrounding this little girl and her mother. “you are looking so beautiful this morning!”

    bible study moved forward. we spoke of the gospel of luke and the grace of our Creator who enters into the mess of life with us. who walks alongside us and somehow works all things for good. and these people believe this with all their heart. in their homelessness and in their struggles beyond anything I can ever imagine. they believe that God works all things for good. and mia’s mother believes this. she sleeps in her car and she has a daughter who needs constant and meticulous care. and she loves her so beautifully. as I listened to the people around me talk of God’s grace and his love for us as we are broken and beyond repair, I watched mia’s mother stroke her hair and kiss her protruding forehead. her love for her daughter was beyond any words I can think of except to say that it was the most perfect picture of unconditional love that I have ever seen. or will ever see. and in her love for mia I saw God and how he loves us. how he picks up our broken bodies and places us in his lap. how he kisses our deformities and our scars and covers us with his perfect and unfailing love. and although mia could not smile or even move on her own I knew that she feels that love. she knows it is there. she has a peace and a joy that shines through her brokenness.

    and here’s the thing. my life is easy compared to 99% of the people in the room that day. even though my house is a little bit old, I don’t sleep in my car. even though my job is a little bit frustrating, I have found work that not only provides for my life, but is actually satisfying. even though my budget is a little bit tight, I can still spend money on polaroid film and vintage children’s books in georgetown. but so much of the time, I live in a way that takes for granted the life God has given me. in one of my most favorite books, donald miller writes “life is staggering and we’re just used to it. we are like spoiled children no longer impressed with the gifts we’re given.” and I think that’s true. I take the beauty of life for granted. I take God’s unconditional love for granted. but mia doesn’t. and her mom doesn’t. and the people I talked to on saturday don’t. they could be real angry at God. they could choose to hate him. or not belive in him. instead, they live in the truth that their life is a gift. and they live in the truth that God is good. all the time. no matter what.