Saturday, March 20, 2010

Breakfast with the Golden Girls

"Excuse me," the energetic, feisty-looking woman said... she, in her bright purple pant suit and sorority letters badge, "but are all these seats taken?"
I stopped spreading strawberry jam long enough to look up and confirm that she was addressing me... me, sitting at a small coffee table at the end of a row of empty tables and chairs. "No, no, it's just me."
"Well there are four of us, deary, so you're the privileged one!"
I wasn't sure I heard her right, and if I did I wasn't sure what she meant by it, but I figured I'd find out.

She sat down at the table next to mine, and asked me where I was from. I resumed my jam-spreading and answered her. Then, assuming by her bold display of ECU colors that she was not with our party, I added that we are here for a wedding. She had looked as though she wanted a conversation, so at this, she perked right up. In return, she said she was from Baltimore and was here for the 50th reunion of the Chi Omega sorority at ECU, of which she was a founding member. She hadn't been back to Greenville since she graduated, and was sadly one of only six original sorority sisters that made it to the reunion.

"You know, one of the best things about being 70 is that you can eat butter on anything!" she said cheerfully as she spread a packet on her biscuit. "The older I get, the more perks I discover."

Shortly, her three friends showed up, and then two more who complained that no one had knocked on their door to wake them up - gray hair, glasses, orthopedic shoes, flowered pant suits, and matching sorority badges, all of them. I listened, amused, as they talked of how the evening before was just "a pit," and how disgraceful it is that those young girls wore such short skirts. They were suspicious that the rest of their sisters hadn't even been invited to the event, and were certain that the girls were surprised that these women were still alive and well enough to show up.

"Did you know today's tour of the campus is a walking tour? Can you imagine! Have you seen the size of the campus now?"
"I would have hoped for a tram or something. We old ladies aren't going to get very far in a walking tour."
"And tonight there will be a band, but since none of us brought our husbands, who are we supposed to dance with?"
"I guess we'll just dance with each other! Won't that disturb those girls!"
"Yes, serves them right. You know, they acted last night like they had to talk to us, but they didn't know what to say!"

Mom interjected that maybe they should have brought their grandsons with them, and the girls would have been much more interested in talking to them.

"That's not a bad idea!"
"Say, I wonder I didn't think to get my grandson to come with me. You know, he's in college..."

I pointed out the groom of the wedding as he came in the room, groggy but glowing, and the conversation turned. They asked us about our connection to the groom, and we told them. We said Kevan just had to be at the church on time, and other than that we were enjoying our own little vacation. By this time, I was finishing the last of my tea and gathering up my trash.

"Well, I hope the wedding goes off wonderfully. And more than that, that the marriage lasts and is happy."

We all agreed that this is the more important thing. I wished the ladies a good weekend and they thanked us for sharing our space (the other three empty tables?) with them, and Mom and I said goodbye to "the Golden Girls."

On our way out, I paused and passed on their good wishes to the groom.

Friday, March 19, 2010

How many Greenvilles are there, anyway?

Greetings from Greenville! Still in North Carolina, close to East Carolina University... yeah, the party school. I am here with my mom and my brother Kevan, who is to be a groomsman in his best friend's wedding tomorrow. He's totally prepared, too... he has the classic uncomfortable dress shoes, the suit, the haircut, and the top-secret bachelor party plans. Apparently he is building a reputation as a great bachelor party planner, but I wouldn't know why, as I am a girl and apparently the first rule of bachelor parties is: Don't tell the girls.

At any rate, I am eager to see the style of this wedding, as the bride and groom and most of the party are pretty cool "granola kids" from Appalachain State University. The bride is an art teacher, too, so I know everything will look great, but it is going to be interesting, I'm sure.

Our hotel room is quite nice and spacious, with enough room to pull up to the sink and enough space between the TV and the bed to turn around with ease - not like those other "handicap rooms" that just have a wide doorway and awkwardly-placed handlebars. Well played, Hampton Inn!

Oh I hear the groom in the hall coming our way, and oh look! there's hot homemade cookies! Tea is served downstairs, so I think I'll sign off now and enjoy my afternoon tea time.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

As piles cascade across my desk...

There are mounds of papers, pieces mail, notes, projects, and books all over my desk, land-sliding despite my attempts to stack them neatly, multiplying every day, reminding me that the next few weeks of my life are going to be really busy! It's all really exciting stuff - planning the Watoto Choir performance, starting up the church coffee house, wrapping up the girls' Bible study, preparing lessons for the adult ESL class, raising support for my trip this summer, and starting a "day job"! But none of it is anything I can do anything about today... I just have to look at all these piles and anticipate the busy-ness that is soon to come.

So today I am continuing with my crochet project - yes, it has transformed into a crochet project now! I finished step 2: I conquered the embroidery pattern - only to realize my 3-step project is more like a 5-step project, as far as I can tell. I am on step 3 now, single crochet stitching a border around each square. When I finish this, step 4 is to sew the blocks together, and step 5 is the finishing-touch edging around the whole blanket. I will post a picture when it is finished!
This morning I saw the most welcome sign - my favorite evidence of spring in bloom!
Daffodils are my favorite spring flowers - they just seem so cheery and joyful to me. They spread their hands wide open in worship and raise their bright trumpets to play to the Lord a tune meant only for his ears. What a brilliant demonstration to his glory!

And so let us also praise the Lord!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I have really enjoyed re-reading Lewis Carroll's classics, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass this week. I know I've said this before, but it's a good idea sometimes to read "children's literature" again as an adult (sometimes I try to convince myself that I am an adult), because the authors themselves are adults and can't help but attach some adult significance to even the most child-like stories. What we read as children may have seemed purely entertaining, imaginative, and even nonsensical... but as we grow up, we learn about the literary art of metaphors and symbolism, and we see more sense and purpose in the same old stories. In the Alice books, I've noticed there are some themes that relate to growing up... the first theme is that of Identity:

"Who are you?" the contemptible caterpillar asks.

After changing sizes so many times in a day, Alice wonders to herself: "But if I'm not the same, the next question is, who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle!"

The Dutchess, full of morals, tells Alice to simply: "Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise."

And the Red Queen's wise instruction is: "Speak in French when you can't think of the English for a thing - turn out your toes as you walk - and remember who you are!"

We all go through times in our lives when we consider the changes we've been through and wonder if we are the same person we used to be. We question our identity and fear it may have gotten lost somewhere along the way... and the more we focus on "me," the less aware we are of Who created us and Whose we were meant to be in the first place. I've seen people make foolish decisions and dangerous life choices for the sake of forming their own identity. If we define ourselves by human standards, we will never be content or secure. And yet, this theme of identity is so important in forming how we relate to God, each other and the world! Maybe that is why another Book had so much to say about it as well...

Throughout the Old Testament, God changes people's names: Abram becomes Abraham, Sarai becomes Sarah, Jacob becomes Israel, and so on... all for the purpose of changing their identity. When they experience encounters with God, they are not who they were before - they cannot be the same, and so he gives them a new identity altogether. "No longer will you be... now you will be..." He even changes the identity of a whole nation:

Isaiah 62:4: "No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married."

In the New Testament, God continues to call his people to a new identity. The book of Ephesians is full of this theme! Those who have encountered and received and surrendered to Christ now find their whole identity in Christ - a new self that replaces the old self. We are sons of God (1:4-5), workmanship with a purpose (2:10), citizens and dwelling places (2:19-22), heirs, members, and sharers (3:6), a completely new self that looks like God (4:20-22), children of light (5:8-10), and even soldiers (6:11).

The more I study the Bible, the more I find my identity in Christ, and therefore the less I feel the need to "find myself." John the Baptist was so consumed - even obsessed - with who Jesus was that he denied himself completely as anything other than a voice - and even that voice existed for the sole purpose of preparing the way for Jesus. Why try to find yourself once you've found Jesus? As his follower and child, I have a position and a purpose, a relationship and a reason, a mission and the equipment I need to accomplish it. I am His - what else matters?

"Who are you?" the caterpillar asked Alice, and she didn't know. Do you?

Monday, March 15, 2010

a productive day with a good, good end

Kevan's favorite Ben 'n Jerry ice cream flavor is "Mission to Marzipan." Tonight he decided to pick some up, and while he was at it, because he is so sweet and thoughtful, he got me a little tub of my favorite flavor... can anyone guess?... "Cherry Garcia." It's definitely the best blend of cherry, chocolate, and ice cream EVER created. I love my brother! I love Ben 'n Jerry ice cream! And I love their website too - there are games and activities to keep you busy when you are bored. One time, I actually made a whole village out of paper patterns they had on the website, complete with cows to inhabit it.

I packed it all in a shoebox and shipped it to my friend Shannon in Texas. I don't see that project on the website anymore, but there's plenty of other things to check out.
Today I was not bored, and therefore did not have to print out, color, cut, and glue paper buildings and cows. I actually got a lot done - finished my embroidery, made some sign-up sheets for events, editted a story and some papers for people, tutored a student in linguistics, and a few other little things that amounted to quite a bit. It's nice to feel productive.
And I got to finish the day with a cup of Ben 'n Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream! Talk about a happy ending!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Singing Heart

How do you respond to truth that is full of joy and hope? to a relationship that is full of life and authentic selflessness? to a gift too wonderful for anyone to deserve?

"I am loved by the King,
And it makes my heart want to sing!"

How can you express overwhelming gratitude when you are completely overwhelmed... when you feel like jumping up and down and laying prostrate at the feet of Jesus in tears, cheering at the top of your lungs and finding yourself utterly speechless, feeling honored and humbled - all at once?

"Name above all names,
Worthy of all praise,
My heart will sing:
'How great is our God!'"

When you think of Jesus - what he has done for you, what he is doing in you, and what he has promised you - and when you think of who he is and how he loves you and his glory and majesty... what song does your heart sing?