Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This is it.

I recently found this little gem when I was making an art book for a friend. (Sadly, I don't remember where it's from.)

Sometimes it moves quick.
So react. Now.
Now is for living.
Just live.
Get out into the thick of it.
Roll down your windows.
Listen to it.
Make some noise. Be part of it.
Put your hands in it - Deep.
Break it open. Drink it up.
Run with it until your legs give up and you can't move or breathe or shout.
Chase it down a city street.
Swim in it.
Race it to the edges of the earth. Let it win.
Make it happen.
Give it away.
(This is it.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bacon and domesticity.

We crafted all afternoon, my little sisters and I. We drew, we colored, we made collages. I like taking songs or poems or phrases and turning them into something visual - something colorful. I cut triangles out of a hundred different colors of paper in magazines and newspapers and pasted them together to make an exotic bird sporting a condescending expression. I learned today that I enjoy making pointless art. I like making art that exists for no reason but to be itself. I read today that animals howl to declare their existence. That's what my art does, I think.

All afternoon I made art that howls. Paper birds declaring their existence.

We only took one break, to make BLTs. Wheat toast, sliced tomatoes, fresh lettuce, and bacon. I like BLTs because they're bacon disguised as sandwiches. If we just sat around making art and eating bacon, my mom would probably protest. But if we're sitting around making art and eating BLTs, my mom can say "Oh, I'm glad you got some lunch. Isn't that lettuce great?"

I sat there planning out my paper bird and eating my incognito sandwich and thought: "Huh, there is so much grace in this afternoon." And there was. One of my favorite Hillsdale professors, Dr. Schlueter, said in a stand-alone lecture that domesticity is grace manifested in daily living. Chores. Slow afternoons. Paper art. And bacon sandwiches.

Now I think that I will go make myself another mug of hot chocolate with nutmeg and cinnamon. And maybe make a paper elephant.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


We’re walking on a thin string
But I know the Lord's got the whole thing in his hands
We’re strangers in this land
But together we could make our way home
Make our way home

.:Josh Garrels:.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Bon Iver and La Blogotheque.

I've been exploring La Blogothque (, a collection of take-away shows with some very unique musical artists. I like musicians who never play a song the same way twice. On this site there's a video of Bon Iver playing "Lump Sum" on a toy piano and melodica in an empty apartment in Paris. Life doesn't get any better than that. Or this: "Do you like Bon Iver?" is my primary question to a determine whether or not a person and I are soul mates. I would marry a man with the emotional maturity of Justin Vernon. One day in the spring of my junior year my sister brought me home his album: For Emma Forever Ago by Bon Iver. In my opinion, For Emma is the greatest album of all time. Of all time. Some artists slap together a dozen singles and call it an album when it's really just a means to a paycheck and an excuse for a photoshoot. Harsh, yes, but true. Bon Iver, on the other hand, was just a lucky mistake. Justin Vernon got dumped and escaped to a farmhouse in Wisconsin. He came back with this album. It's perfect because it's one man singing out loud about his brokenness. I'm going on 2 years with this album, and we're going strong. If you haven't heard it yet, do it. If you haven't learned to love it yet, get going. (And check out the EP: "Blood Bank." And the singles: "Winsconsin" and "Roslyn.")

I ache to see Bon Iver in concert.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Portland, Michelle Ramin, Beat Kitchen, Manifest.

The more time I spend on my tiny college campus, the more obsessed I become with big cities. I dream about public transportation. I talk about light pollution in Chicago as though it's a friend of mine. I. love. cities.

Lately I've been particularly excited about Portland, Oregon and the talented artists who live there. I've never actually been there, but I have a little collection of maps and things from Portland that my dad brings back for me when he visits. One of my current favorite Portland artists is Michelle Ramin ( I love her art. Art like this: More about art&cities:
Beat Kitchen ( is my favorite music venue in Chicago. It's classy, it's affordable, it's eclectic, it has delicious portabella mushroom sandwiches, and it does a stellar job showcasing native bands. I'm going to a show in January and I.can't.wait.

Oh! One more thing. Manifest, a sweet urban arts festival that Columbia College students create, has announced its designer for 2010: Landry Miller. Is it condescending to say his art is "cute"? Because it is: Hopefully I'll get back in time from my friend's wedding to see what else Miller comes up with!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lessons from my 1st semester.

-pray without ceasing.
-use saturdays wisely.
-organize & condense notes from the very beginning of the semester.
-nothing in the dessert corner of SAGA is worth the calories. promise.
-work out regularly.
-never drink 9 cups of coffee in one sitting.
-call your mom.
-admit it when you’re stressed.
-3AM discussions about grace are always worth the lack of sleep.
-seek community even at your rawest, guiltiest, sleepiest, & least sure of yourself.
-don’t lose sleep over anything that’s outside your responsibility.
-trust that God is working out the details of your redemption.
-look for grace.
-live in a way that others see it too.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Give thanks for the common things that glow with an uncommon grace.

Life continues to be: White paper stars and star-shaped Christmas cookies that make up for the starless polluted skies of Chicago. Piles of half-folded blankets scattered around my house (cuddle kiosks!). Five sheets of paper on my desk entitled 'CRAFT IDEAS' I, II, III, IV, and V. The sweet, sweet sound of Seth Avett playing banjo. Marathon conversations with Roshini over coffee and hot chocolate. Snuggling with my golden retriever puppy.

In other news, is it possible to already miss friends from college? Because I already miss Mary, Shannon, Bond, Eric, Travis, Jack, and Ben and my roommate. I miss late-night talks in Upper Left, and long sessions of hand-holding and prayer, and laughing constantly. I am so blessed by my friends at school. I'm especially blessed by the presence of these dearest eight.

I've been obsessed to the point of distraction with expressing all this grace given to me in as many ways as I possibly can. I make art, I make music, I write, I talk (a lot), I pray, but I still get the itchy feeling that I'm not expressing enough. When and only when I get to the point where even my heartbeat tells the story of the Gospel will I be satisfied.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

And life itself is grace.

Call me naive, but I honestly did not realize how tough these last two weeks of the semester would be. Hillsdale students are really awful about being overly competitive. We compete about grades, extracurricular activities, sports teams, dorm reputations, and who did a better job eating healthy at Saga. Lately we compete about even more trivial things: who got less sleep, who has more papers, who is more frustrated, who is more stressed.


A decade from now, if we're wise in any way, all 1300 of us will look back at college and miss the heck out of it. Knowing this, I've made it a point to live now with the perspective that I'll have then. For example:

I like writing papers. I really do. I like creating and supporting an argument. I like picking apart each sentence and pummeling it into what I want to say. I like finding the right word, not just the best one. I like the precision of editing. I like editing other people's papers. I like seeing how other people think. I like reading Jack's papers and Eric's papers only to find funny little overemotional phrases that I'd never expect them to use (like "incessant beacon of immortal glory"). I like using my favorite (ORANGE) pen and covering the entire page in question marks and word choice suggestions. I like printing off finished papers.

I like winter. I have never SEEN winter like this. The snow is clean; completely free from all the black dirt of Chicagoland traffic. It's powdery instead of slushy. It actually covers the grass. It blows across the sidewalks in little drifts. I like seeing all the bootprints of my friends and fellow students. I like wearing mittens and holding hands. I like running to the fireplace in the Union to warm up before meals. I like Jack's candy cane scarf. I like how, every night, girls in Olds walk around wearing leggings, knee socks, oversized sweaters, and scarves.

I like how cozy my room is. I like it when Bond and Megan and Mary and Claire and Shannon and Autumn and Celia flit in and out, doing homework, telling stories, asking for colorful mugs filled with coffee. I like how Megan thought that I'm an RA in Olds because of the "liberties that I've taken with my Christmas decorations." I like bringing my coma blanket with me everywhere and cuddling up in it while I study.

I like school. I like learning. I like being wrong sometimes. I like investing in people. I like running all over campus to find my roommate in order to read Isaiah 43 to her. I like running up the hill at midnight just to bring Mary a piece of chocolate to encourage her to keep working on homework. I like passing off notes to Jack on the walk from calculus to western heritage. I like cracking up with Eric in English. I like studying. I like striving for academic excellence.

So, Hillsdale College, I'm not going to complain. I'm foiling your plan to discourage us with an impossible workload, little sleep, and freezing weather. I like where I'm at. I like all the little moments that make up life. Life itself is grace.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

You will be SO happy again.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you: I have called you by name and you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you; and when you walk through water you will not be burned; and the flames shall not consume you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. You are the evidence of who I am.

Who can unmake what I have made?

[Isaiah 43]

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pinned to the Cross.

This semester has been one long conversation about what strength really is. I am one small part of an endearingly loud, stubborn, opinionated family. I am one of five self-reliant daughters. I've buffaloed my way through many situations. I've proven resilient through a lot of pain. I am by no means weak. Yet for some reasons it has always bothered me when people call me strong, sometimes even the strongest person they know. Because, in the depths of my heart, I've always questioned whether what I have is really strength of character, or strength of personality. Am I strong or am I just too proud to give up?

That question has come into focus since I got to college. I go to a very conservative, very classical, very traditional school where father knows best and intellectual arrogance is not allowed. Suddenly I have had to reckon with boys who want to be men instead of just drink every weekend. These are boys who won't repeat dirty jokes to me even though they know I'd laugh at them. These are boys who open doors for me even though they've seen me take people out in every game we've ever played. These are boys who just carried me from the Union to my dorm because I sprained my ankle.

Please understand: I am not good at letting people help me. Next to God Himself, my family has always been my #1 support system. We were taught (and rightly) from an early age to have low expectations when it comes to people. Yet I now find myself surrounded by boys who hold themselves to higher standards than I have ever held anyone to in my entire life.

I came back from my little venture home over Thanksgiving feeling very raw. "Like a sea urchin," as I told Shannon. Rough around the edges. A little weathered. A little weary. Spiny. Taken off guard. Maybe even a little betrayed. I found myself being very self-conscious around these dear souls, worried that they would notice how sea urchin-y my heart is right now.

And God did the thing He does best: He brought me to my knees.


This morning I made myself a piece of artwork as a reminder. It's a girl who looks a lot like me facing the water. At the top it says in really small writing: "who do you think you are?" And on the side it says: "BE STRONG ENOUGH TO LET PEOPLE HELP YOU."

I know that I can trust God with my sea urchin-y heart. And I know now that I can trust Jack, Eric, and Ben to carry me, humiliating as it is, whenever and wherever I need it just because they don't want me to get hurt. So I'm beginning to wonder... If I can trust them with my that, maybe I can trust them with my little spiny heart too.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Confession. (I love Scatteredtrees.)

Jesus, help me now: I'm writing songs that I didn't plan to write until I conquered 22... or maybe 23. I bring these to You now with hopes to sort them out somehow with words now placed into a melody. (You know exactly what I mean.)

So I'll drown desire for I musn't lose composure. I won't stoke the fire because You're my only resolution.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Accept God's grace.

Take the time to start anew
Maybe it's in front of you.
Take the time to walk down your street
Heaven knows who you might meet.
Take the time to be okay
And laugh a bit along the way.
You could take me for a ride
We could just drive all day.

And we could breathe again, step outside our front door, and gaze upon the stars, and know we're not alone.

So run into the fields and scream louder than you can.
It's good to be alive and breathing air again. I want my life to be marked by grace, and wonder, and resilience, and joy.

I want to live free.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hello there, December.

At 7:30 this morning, I was already studying in the library. I let all my books and papers and pens and things scatter over the table. It was wonderful. Classes were fine, nothing exciting. Every time I walked outside the blue sky and the cold, COLD December wind shattered all lingering sleepiness. Like Shannon says every three-and-a-half minutes nowadays: Winter makes you feel so alive.

I spent yesterday afternoon making little art projects for my friends to encourage and inspire them during these stressful weeks. It was a good (long) study break, and I enjoyed crafting visual artwork from dozens of conversations and prayers sessions. Shannon and I are already planning large-scale art projects for next semester.

Of course, Eric and I spent nearly a half hour this morning talking about how we would decorate Hillsdale's campus if given the opportunity. Garlands, trees, wreaths, lights, candles, bows, paper chains, tinsel, ornaments, scented candles, paper snowflakes... If only! But it's true: the lobby in my dorm looks like Christmas morning.

Tonight I'm FINALLY having a dinner date with Autumn, one of my favorite girls on campus, and then bringing blankets and a hot pot into the library to have a paper-writing session with Jack and Eric.



Hopefully the Avett Brothers will make an appearance too: I like my little campus and my big-hearted friends. It's good to be back.