Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day

The first day of May was spent as it always should... I got up early and went for a swim with Mom - both of us in our chic new bathsuits. Then I had breakfast tea with my Kevan. Then I went to the park with some dear friends and we feasted on popsicles beside Mallard Lake and hiked to the horses stables, rose garden, and the manor house... we got sunkissed and filled with joy, sharing good stories and bad jokes and life together. Then my family had a cook-out on our back porch (new porch furniture!) and it ended with finishing off my magnificent black forest birthday cake.

Kevan and I finished Book the Fifth in Lemony Snicket's Series this evening, and I own Book the Sixth, so I'm sure we will be starting it ASAP... now that the V.F.D. has been mentioned. He got me The Beatrice Letters which I absolutely love, but cannot share with him until he has finished reading the Series... it wouldn't make sense otherwise and anyway it would completely spoil the ending. So the goal is to read through the rest of the Series as quickly as possible so I can share my beloved Letters with my beloved reading partner.

As of tonight, I have completely sworn off chocolate for the month of May. I had far too much of it in April, and while I thoroughly enjoyed all the special treats such as truffles, black forest cake, Klondike bars, cherry M&Ms, and chocolate-WOWs... my body did not respond well to it all. So taking a break and trying to get myself in a good shape. No chocolate... or chips. Hold me to it, people, hold me to it.

Pro-active goals are to finish reading the four books I've started in the past two weeks, to listen to more music in my leisure time, write some poetry (besides haiku), consciously work to improve the circulation in my legs and feet, and to get a job for the fall. The list may grow, but these are the essential basics. Monthly resolutions seem to be much more managable and effective for me.

I hope you all had a beautiful and enjoyable May Day!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Farewell to April

"It was that time of year when the woods are all in their spring colours, the thorns all in flower, and the birds in the high season of their singing." - R.L. Stevenson

April came onto the scene full of energy and brightness. I got a sun tan the first day of the month and I was breatheless that first week with the awe-inspiring colors and scents of all the beautiful flowers that were in bloom. Spring fever didn't have time to make me suffer, because spring came - right on cue - to stay as I've never seen it do before.

Normally in North Carolina the tulips and daffodils bloom in February and die quickly when Winter changes its mind and returns for a little longer. Then the pear and cherry trees brave the Fickle Weather of March and adorn themselves with white lace, but usually the petals get blown off and rained on and frost-bitten and turn brown from the Stubborn Cold that teases and torments. But this year, February and March stayed cold through and through, so Impatient April demanded the leading role in all her glory and shoved cold weather off stage.

Every spring flower opened and shone and perfumed the air with its marvelous fragrance and vibrant color... and overpowering pollen, too. So for two weeks we all rubbed our itchy eyes and wiped our itchy noses, admiring the springtime from the windows through Yellow haze. How could we complain though, when the sun and blue skies were always smiling at us? April was taking full advantage of her reign, for she usually has to share with Unpredictability and Dynamic Change on a daily basis.

She finally saw the good sense in inviting Rain for a short visit, though, and our allergies cleared when the air did. Mornings and evenings became cooler in a refreshing way, and the sun grinned from ear to ear over the green green life growing all around and the playful breeze that made it all dance.

The whole month was just as I imagine Fairyland to be... in a constant state of light and beauty. So I thank the Lord for allowing April to blossom so gracefully as she did, and I bid her "Farewell," and "Well done," and "Please come visit again soon!"

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Day

65 Facebook posts
5 text messages
5 phone calls
and a Blackforest birthday cake...

it was a good 27th birthday. :) And I feel so very loved. Thanks to all of you.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Usual

Quick correction: Yesterday my girl-power high apparently got the better of me, and it occurred to me that I had said I wanted to "take over the world." That should have said "take on the world," or "save the world," or some sort of non-world-domination-sounding variation. While sometimes I think I could do a better job than the world leaders we have, I could not, would not, and have no desire to take over the world.

I am not a professional restaurant critic, but if I was, I would rave about "Bleu" - a restaurant that is here in Winston-Salem. Last night my friend Laura treated me to a birthday dinner there. It is our "treat ourselves" place that we go to on occasion because we love the atmosphere, the service, and of course, the food.

Usually I like to order different things when I go to a place like Bleu, because every item on the menu makes my mouth water. But Laura and I have committed ourselves to a "usual." And even though we only go once in a while, we hope that eventually the staff will recognize us and just ask, "Will you have the usual?" Maybe they'll even see us coming and have it ready for us when we are seated! Funny, the things I like to imagine... I think everyone must secretly want to have a "usual"... I think it's tied to our desire to be truly known...

Anyway, our "usual" at Bleu is the grilled salmon and asparagus in lemon butter sauce, and loaded sweet potatoes with toasted marshmellows and nuts on top. There is just something about the combination of those flavors that is just heavenly. So if you're in town and are looking for a treat, go to Bleu and ask for the Connie-Laura Usual. And enjoy!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Legendary You

My birthday present from Kevan today was the new Superchick CD, Reinvention. Their last batch of songs were so good they decided to put them on another CD, remixed - meaning with more bass, more wiki-wiki action, more special effects. It was fun to listen to on the way to work this morning, and even though it made us miss our exit, it also boosted my rock-star-girl-power attitude. Made me want to take over the world... wearing hot pink Converse.

It has some great songs, and classic lyrics like: "You need that boy like a bowling ball dropped on your head, which means not at all/ You have too much to give to live to waste your time on him" - which I have used in dating counseling on a number of occasions. But I think my favorite lyric on this album is: "Be true, be legendary you." I think a lot of people minimize the "just me" mentality, as though being "just me" is boring or unimportant or unimpressive: "I can't do that - I'm just little ol' me." Rebellious teenagers and some "alternative church" people of my generation think of "just me" as an excuse to be lazy and irresponsible: "That's just who I am," they say (a bit too defensively) when confronted with the pathetic way they are wasting their time. Why can't "just me" be something we rise up to like a challenge, something we strive to achieve, something we can be proud to confess?

In my U.S. History class yesterday, my outline included a lot of the "Legends of the 1920s" like Babe Ruth, Amelia Earhart, Langston Hughes, Louis Armstong, and Gertrude Ederle. They were people noted for being "the first" or "the most" or "the best" in their fields. Last year I read a book about the legends of Christian history, from the Apostle Paul, to Joan of Arc, to Charles Edwards, to Amy Carmichael, to Jim Elliot, to Keith Green... people noted for courage and faith and love that impacted and changed the world in small and big ways. What about the legends of 2010? Would you and I go down in history as legends in our time? What would we be remembered for?

The other day I was listening to Chris Rice's album, Past the Edges, and the beginning of his song, "Power of the Moment" he says: "What am I gonna be when I grow up? And how am I gonna make my mark on history? What are they gonna right about me when I'm gone? These are the questions that shape the way I think about what matters..."

I want to live large. I want to leave a dent. I don't care if it's local or global, or if it touches one person or one-thousand, but I want to make a difference somewhere, to someone. And I want that difference to have eternal implications... I want my change to be in shining the Light a little brighter, moving people a little closer to God, making his love more real and personal to them. I want to be the workmanship God designed for his good purpose, and I want to be that masterpiece in the most beautiful, powerful, useful, inspiring way I possibly can. I want to be legendary me.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"No power"

"No power." That was my response to quizzical looks people had as they came into church this morning. Our church meets in a middle school building, and shortly after plugging in the coffee pot and the sound system during set-up time, the electricity went out. There are some windows, so it wasn't pitch black, but the mugginess outside seeped into our un-air-conditioned space, there was no music to be heard, and NO COFFEE. What was going on?? Something about being hit by lightening, a main source failing, the box blowing up... short and easy answer: "No power."

But as we migrated into the cafeteria (where there was the most light) and Graham started to play the upright piano and Bryan started strumming his unplugged guitar, I realized I'd been saying something wrong all morning. I could hear more of the congregation's voices... we all sang louder than normal because we didn't have the equipment and accoustics we normally do to carry the sound. The communion thought was shared and we all turned in our Bibles to the passage to read it because we couldn't depend on PowerPoint. Michael spoke, and God strengthened and amplified his voice with passion and earnestness so he could be heard. It reminded me that there are Christians all over the world who do this regularly without light, technology, air conditioning, and - believe it or not - without coffee. And they grow and learn and worship together in Spirit and Truth just as we did this morning. So really, saying we had no power was all wrong.

I got to pray for a while with Alan today, and we used Ephesians 1 as a guide for our prayers. We prayed about wisdom and revelation (v.17) and clarity of vision and understanding (v.18). Then we got to v. 19-20: "I pray...that you may know... his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms..."

We have power! It's an incomparably GREAT power - a mighty strength! It's the power that raised Jesus from the dead... the power that positioned him above all things... and it is OURS if we belong to God! It was there with us this morning as we sang and read and preached and served and prayed and fellowshipped and worshipped together... How dare I claim we had no power?? We had more power than all the forces of hell!

Praise to God, who so generously and abundantly pours out the power of his love on us, his children.