Thursday, January 28, 2010

(Can't get it out of my head.)

My mom mailed me a cactus.

I got it today. It has a few casualties: some missing spines. Jack gave it to me from the top shelf of the mailroom. He knew it was probably my cactus because the box was covered in, and filled with, dirt. Shannon and I had an emergency rescue mission for it. I convinced her to steal some dirt from the poinsettia on the window sill in the Union. There were still gracefully uneven lines of snow on the window panes. She walked up to me with a fistful of dirt and the most sheepish look I've ever seen on her face. The cactus is sitting in its little clay pot on the coffee table next to my feet. Out of all the people who have stopped by my couch to talk to me, not one has asked why I have a cactus on the table. I was holding the cactus in my hand when I ordered my hot chocolate. I always feel as though I'm admitting how childish I am when I ask for whipped cream on my cocoa. I wink at the barista every time I do. It's sunny today, and the light is making patterns in creative angles all over the floor and bookshelves in the library. I like how the snow sparkles like stars.

Did you see all this beauty today? Or am I the only one?

*Revised: Samuel Ashmore asked me about it.

Notice these things.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


And everybody's falling apart,
You said it doesn't haunt you like it haunts me
That everybody's falling apart.
But you said: 'I'll be there when you wake up from this dream,
When you turn your life into a story.
And I'll tell every ghost, everyone that I see
I'm waiting here, I'm ready for you.
I'm waiting here, I'm ready for you.'

(I'll tell you how the sun rose
A ribbon at a time.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Snap your fingers.

Sometimes it unsettles me when things click into place: when no fighting is required.

When your heart is tuned to calamity, stillness can throw you off. I learned a lot about brokenness in high school. Now I am learning a lot about wholeness. But it's not easy. Contentment scratches against something deep inside my heart. And every few days, I get the itch to run. To purposely fail when things get too easy. To distance myself from people for fear they'll walk out on me. To abandon friendships that are growing too close.

I don't know why.

Lately I've been instructing my heart to pay attention to the little still moments of the day, reminding myself that, yes: I like this life I'm living. Doing laundry. Making coffee for my roommate. Editing papers. Checking off assignments. Studying alone and paying careful attention to the words strung together like a spiderweb. Better: studying with a good friend in a quiet library at midnight, punctuating the silence with low-voiced questions and answers. The silence between our individual prayers on Wednesday afternoons in the basement of Lane. Falling asleep to the sound of my roommate and a friend of ours laughing on the floor of our dorm room. Meticulously peeling oranges and the lingering citrusy smell on my hands. Index cards signed "Love" at the bottom.

All these things tell me to stay.
All these things keep me from running.
After all, perhaps God is holding me in this peaceful place for a reason.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I've been learning how to see.

How to see stars in cloudy light-polluted Chicago skies. How to see God's glory in my own suffering. How to see love in other people's criticism of me. How to see beauty in the funk. How to see grace in daily life.

(I was born blind.)

On Saturday night I walked through the streets of Chicago with a song in my head, keeping a conversation running about love and marriage and purpose and grace. And I started to have a vision of what I want my life to look like. I've never invested much time or energy or trust in my future, but everything that I have learned since August has given me something foreign to my skeptic's heart: hope.

So now I'm figuring out what I want my life to look like. Who do I want to be? What kind of woman? What kind of wife? What kind of servant? What kind of leader? I'm also figuring out how best to prepare my heart to become all these things.

I don't know what's in store. I know it will be challenging, full of loss, and full of pain more often than not. That's how life is. But I know that God is sovereign. And I know that He whispers grace to us in order to shout His glory. So I know that life will be good.

And I want it to be beautiful. .photos by shannon mckendrick odell.