With Christ, Against the Grain

As I sit in the quiet bookstore, reading a magazine article called, “Liquidating Your Life”(1), I find my eyes welling up with tears. The author is recalling the choice of one of her sisters to become a cloistered nun. It’s not a sad story, yet I weep.

A few pages earlier, I was reminded of the thing we call Lent and how its purpose is to point us toward Easter. This article’s author encouraged his readers to give up something they’d miss, such as their Blackberry or coffee, to “identify, if only slightly and with great humility, with Christ’s denial of Himself as He went to the cross.”

Perhaps the root of my tears was the segue from the thought that, this Lenten season, I didn’t feel convicted to give up anything, to the idea that a vibrant, university-educated young woman would reduce her worldly possessions to underwear and glasses.

During the weeks before she made her vows, friends who came to say good-bye left with something of hers. Her clothes went to one sister, her books to another. The author drew her sister’s name at Christmas and chose to purchase a sapling to plant as a family so they’d have a reminder of Heather when they would gather without her for future holidays.

It’s not so much the thought that I couldn’t live without coffee or blogging, but more that I feel I’m missing something that goes much deeper. I’m longing for a soul depth similar to the one that inspired Heather to sacrifice her future for the sake of others, in order to pray for them for the rest of her life. I’ve felt it before when doing things much less sacrificial than becoming a nun, and once again I’m humbled by the feeling.

There are days when I can’t imagine how I lived without wireless Internet and a laptop glued to my hip, or before the days of cell phones. Normally, I would cringe at the thought of living without a car to get around in or a choice of shoes or my skinny jeans or new music every week. Today, however, I’m longing. Longing for a reason to give it all up for the sake of Christ, for the sake of others.

I’d like to be able to truly say:

Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.
Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.
All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands.
All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands. (hear it) (2)
Even as I copy and paste these lyrics, I can feel the reluctance returning, the hesitation that comes with knowing I’ve sung these words flippantly before and I’ll probably do it again; the reluctance to give up all for the sake of King and Kingdom. Yet part of me remains desperate for a reason to do just that, a reason to discover what Much-Afraid did on the altar as the High Priest cut the “root of human love” out of her heart(3) so she could live in true grace and freedom.

I hope that someday I’ll be challenged to give up most of my “creature comforts” and make my heart at home in the simple and functional rather than the sophisticated and fashionable. I suspect I’ll find more joy and peace when I do, because I’ll know that every day I’m choosing Christ likeness.

Heather chose not to remain a cloistered nun for the rest of her life, but the stories of men and women who have similarly set aside their lives of convenience will continue to astound and inspire me. Perhaps I’ll do a Lenten fast next year, even if I don’t feel “convicted”.

(1) “Liquidating Your Life”, Holly Rankin Zaher. (Relevant Magazine, Mar-Apr 2007, p.46) (2) Robin Mark, 1990 Word Music. (3) Hind’s Feet on High Places, Hannah Hurnard.

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47 Beavers on the Big, Blue Sea

And the beavers pulled upon the oars
And the beavers rowed away from shore
And the beavers two, and the beavers three,
Forty-seven beavers on the big, blue sea!

No one thought that beavers were capable of scheming.
If you’d say, “They’ll row away,” most folks would say you’re dreaming.
But here they were and there they went across the briny blue,
Calling out a cadence like a real Olypmpic crew.

For a week or two the beaver crew rowed the Great Pacific,
Till from the north a storm blew in with winds that were terrrific!
And one by one, their oars blew off and vanished! Mercy me!
And forty-seven beavers were left bobbin’ in the sea!

Phil Vischer, the mastermind behind the ever-entertaining Veggie Tales, has gone out on a new limb: Jellyfish. Jellyfish is Phil’s new creative company, through which he hopes to pursue new ministry opportunies. If 47 Beavers on the Big, Blue Sea is any indication of the stuff that JellyfishPress is going to be producing, his books will be a smash hit just like his videos!

I never set out to do product reviews on this here blog site, but I couldn’t help myself after reading this children’s book this morning in the bookstore I work at (we’ve got it on sale!), reading and laughing. The illustrations, by Jared Chapman, are, of course, hilarious, too! This is the kind of book that you won’t mind reading to your kids over and over and over… like, ten times in 30 minutes! At least, I won’t!

My neices are getting one.

Taking the Time

Though I didn’t haul my rear out of bed ’til 10:00-ish this morning, I FINALLY took some time to focus on the book study I’m doing with some friends (we were meeting tonight, after all). I transferred the mound-of-clean-and-dirty-clothes from my comfy chair to my bed so I could utilize it, made myself a massive cup of earl grey tea, and settled down to read chapter 2, the Second Cup, of Fresh-Brewed Life by Nicole Johnson.

The Second Cup was titled Encounter Your Journal… I’m normally pretty good at writing about the important events of my life in my journal, but I write sporadically at best. And, lately, everything is sporadic and nothing is regular. Oh wait! I’ve been pretty darn dedicated to this blog for a while and I definitely don’t let a day pass without checking Facebook and Myspace!! I should also mention that I acquired the sequel to Eragon (Eldest), and I’m whipping my way through it (when a story is good, it’s good!).

I’ve felt keenly lethargic about many things in life lately, but after reading the chapter, I actually had several moments of inspiration! I picked up my journal and had a great entry, one where I could distinctly see the contrast between the lies my soul’s enemy has been telling me, and when God took over and started inspiring creative thought.

And the rest of my day was affected….

Now if only I can maintain the discipline!

Fantasy, Electro-Pop, and Coziness

1. Eragon. The book, not the movie. The movie was kinda lame (although the Arya the elf was beautiful and Eragon was hot!), but the book is a freaking page-turner! I can’t hardly put it down!! I’ve zipped through it in a week and I’m sad I only have 30 pages left. Christopher Paolini is Brilliant!! I can’t wait ’til there’s an affordable copy of Eldest out there.

2. Imogen Heap. This sassy songstress is able to entwine witty lyrics with catchy and haunting melodies in her electronic way. She uses a keyboard and voice distorters and her Mac laptop to create amazing harmonic sounds. She’s one of my newest obsessions. Check her out if you haven’t yet.

3. My Red Down Throw. I don’t think I’ve listed it yet under my 3BTs… it’s a lovely shade of brick red which goes amazingly with cornflower blue sheets (I’ve had two sets in the past and I’ve given them away). It could be a bit longer (I’m a tall girl), but it’s been with me for over three years now, and it’s beautiful. It’s warm, it’s cozy, it’s pretty, it rolls up small for travelling, it looks puffy and you want to squish its air pockets, it washes and dries in the machines. I love it.

The Staples

1. Painkillers. Don’t worry, I’m just small-time. One day a month, really. But on that certain day, I’m grateful!

2. Water. To counteract the gallons of coffee I consume, to flush the toxins out of my body, to keep my lips from chapping all to pieces, for being the most healthy thing in the world!

3. Fiction. Story. I would be lost without it… a piece of me missing, seriously!!

The Perfect Day

1. Getting lots accomplished, whether at home or at work. If I don’t get at least one or a few significant tasks accomplished in a day, I feel as if it is wasted. Significant tasks include: dishes, laundry, emails, phone calls, visits with friends.

2. Reading, reading, reading. If the world were a library, I’d live on the fiction shelf, gobbling up everything in sight. I’d occasionally meander over to the non-fiction section, but only for things that have cool covers, come highly recommended, or are by authors that you can’t go wrong with, such as C.S. Lewis.

3. Coffee. Latt