free printable | JOY

Welcome to the newest addition to MIM: printables!

I am SO excited to collaborate with my best friend from college Meghan French (freshPaige) for this new endeavor. I love her style and zeal for life that comes out when she laughs and mothers and encourages over the distance of three states.

We thought that we would take what we love and make something wonderful to share. I’ll be giving Meg quotes from the blog and then she’ll be transforming them into something people will want to frame, pin, post, and print. She works magic and I’m sure you’ll agree. I’ll be collecting the different printables in a tab up top, so check back for more in the coming weeks.

We’re excited and we hope you are too! Make sure you check out Meg’s stuff on freshPaige for all your custom invitation needs!

Here’s our first collab, ENJOY!

joy is in full bloom
joy is in full bloom

rain

I know I am slacking, but here’s another post for Every Day in May. I wrote this in a cabin on a mountain, listening to the rain gush from overflowing clouds.

RAIN
rain is like a slow train
with a steady, pounding beat
the rhythm comes in blankets
dropping delight, the cloud’s sweet release
the destination is not the ground
but deeper dug into the soil
where all sorts of earth can be found
and all kinds of life roots toil
the drop’s journey is not a steady path
directed by two parallel metals
but instead drawn by gravity’s catch
and interrupted sometimes by obstinate petals
the noise of a single, solitary drop
is not likely to be noticed
but multiplied by millions non-stop
the din of drops is nearly uproarious
and so rain is like a train
though altogether different still
the rhythm and sound rush with refrain
but the life-giving nature is what thrills

sometimes we are just called to be willing

After 45 minutes listening to dramatic pauses and well-placed Scripture references, I was ready to sign up. My elbows propped against my knees my chin strained forward as if I could hear the words faster if my face was closer to the stage. Every word fell in its rightful place and my heart became all twisted and stretched and then I heard this question,

“So, who will go to Africa this summer?”

The blood pumping inside my veins forgot its course and all rushed instead to my nodding head. “Yes,” I was saying with the almost hypnotic up-and-down-motion, “Yes, I will go to Africa this summer.”
I walked up with a mass of young, eager-to-change-the-world collegiate types and we all affirmed one another’s calling to serve in Swaziland the following July.
I left the meeting exhilarated and ready to tackle the problem of practicalities. I called my parents and my joy bubbled over into our phone conversation, only tempered by their advice to pray and be cautious.
Days went by and the emotions wore off. Both gradually and suddenly as I prayed, I knew I would not be going to Africa and I then met a fierce dragon called doubt.
If the Lord hadn’t told me to go to Africa, then who? If I was pursuing the Lord then why the mixed signals? Was I so far from God that I couldn’t even discern His calling?
A mess would describe the spiritual struggle of the following days. I was so confused and frustrated with myself for being controlled completely by emotions, as it seemed. Then, in a conversation with my dad that I will never forget, he gently spoke these words,
“Sometimes, Caroline… sometimes God just wants to bring us to the point where we say we are willing. Whether you go or not doesn’t matter as much as how ready your heart is to do whatever the Lord asks. You were willing to go and God saw your heart.”
I rolled those words over in my mind for days, really hoping they were true. I questioned and wrestled and arrived at the conclusion that our pursuit of God is not dependent on His answers. My pursuit of God is not on pause when I receive an affirmative or in high speed when I’m waiting for a reply. God calls me to a constant, passionate pursuit of Himself and promises (regardless of my progress) He will be faithful and He will be sufficient.
As Isaiah, I hope I will respond to every call with, “Here am I. Send me.” Even if the call doesn’t amount to the movement of my feet, I pray I will be willing.
sometimes we are just called to be willing to
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

is this freedom?

“not always, but sometimes…the thing you wanted the most is the thing that you now want the least.”

Lucy tugged at the corduroy strap of her pink overalls and listened to the soft crunch of forest beneath her feet. The morning scene drifted in and out of sight, while she tried to focus on the sporadic groupings of trees and the unmarked path winding in front of her.

Freedom fell on her lips in the misty haze cloaking the friendly trees… and she breathed. She welcomed the familiar motion in her chest – rising ever-so-slightly while the pure oxygen gathered in her belly. This place was a sanctuary, an escape, a shelter, and a friend. It was strange to feel as if she’d just walked into her home, kicked off her shoes, and cuddled up in the overstuffed sofa. Physically, she was far from the place where her presence was expected to emerge upon sunrise. But, Lucy’s heart lept at the joy of this new place. Every single bristling green leaf responded to her deep breaths, moving with the slight motion of her chest.

The energy was almost electric around her, though Lucy’s relief at the lack of electric current was obvious. She let her hands drop to her sides, smoothing the corduroy pattern and testing the silence. With a slight shoulder shrug, which seemed to say to the trees, “you’re my new friends, right?” Lucy slowly stretched her arms up, up, up into the air as far as her little frame could manage. When they reached the highest height, her mouth opened and an unplanned yelp escaped.

Startled, Lucy turned around (with arms still extended to the highest height) in a small circle and waited to see if there would be a protest. Sensing none, Lucy’s eyes relaxed and this time the yelp was every bit planned. In fact, it turned into a joyful song and dance, with complete abandon to the freedom of the place.

Moments or minutes later (Lucy’s joy did not let her keep track of time), Lucy wandered over to a stunning green shoot, growing from a fallen tree. The colors seem magical almost, or painted. Afraid to touch it, she got real close and smelled its smell. Wet, dirt, clean, and earth filled her nose. Her pause was altogether too long, but now Lucy knew she could linger without worrying. She stared at the little green shoot sprouting from the fallen tree until her eyes started to blur and her limbs began to droop.

Lucy felt the soft bark underneath her fingers and slowly laid her head down for a moment. Her legs still limp, she let them hang over the edge and float in the forest air. She slept.

A faint tickle traced her right knuckle and Lucy roused with half-open eyes to examine the cause. A caterpillar was making its merry way up, over, and around her in search of something, it seemed. Her eyes spread wider and accustomed to the forest light. In the hours that past between the abandoned dance and waking from the most restful nap, Lucy thought the clusters of trees might have changed. The dampness soaked into her and the full shade above her kept the leaves from glistening.

She remembered the joyful dance before her nap and wondered if she could muster the same song. The morning scene that started this whole excursion seemed so long ago.

—————

My friend Nicole inspired me to write this little piece that I’m quite sure is only the beginning. I still haven’t decided how old to make Lucy, but I already know I love her dearly. For now, it is called, “Is this freedom?”

I know you’ve got it in you, so
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

sadness and love

“sadness reveals the depth of our love”

I spoke these words today at the airport, as I put my friend Heather on a plane bound for Canada. Her kindness has touched so many lives and one of the students at the airport was taking her departure kind of rough. I leaned over and said this bit about sadness and she just looked at my blurry-eyed.
I thought more about it today… about goodbyes and hellos and departures.
I’m still not sure if it makes any sense, but my heart seems to understand the reasoning. God has placed in us the desire to love and be loved because He is Love. When that love inside is stretched, bent, or tested, a certain sadness settles in because the love we can give and receive is not perfect. I don’t think goodbyes were part of the Garden of Eden. I don’t think tears at the airport was ever part of the perfect plan. Our hearts are stretched when the love planted inside of us rebels against the world its constrained to live in. And then words come out like they did today, reminding me that sadness can be beautiful too… even just that the broken pieces reveal the One who can mend.
That is my writing for today.
“sadness reveals the depth of our love”
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY
…even if it leads you to sadness

jam-packed

I’m not sure why they say the phrase, “jam-packed,” but I’m sure that is exactly what this day was!

I woke up super early (after saying goodbye to students at like 11:30 last night) to clean, do laundry, and prepare for cousin ANNA to arrive today. Then Heather and I met up with Jess and Danie for a roommate reunion breakfast, which we left in hot pursuit of the airport, where Anna arrived on a plane full of other well-intentioned, big-hearted people.

We went then to Alvin’s house (pastor of Manos Extendidas) and from there to the feeding center to love, hug, serve, sing, teach, laugh, and smile with the beautiful kids.

We waited out a rain storm before we made our way back down the mountain where we enjoyed some bruschetta at a Honduran hippie coffee shop before going to a free movie sponsored by the European film festival. We were all glad we didn’t pay for it, but after we went out for coffee and redeemed the night.

Finally, we arrived home and I hope Anna isn’t too tucked out!

I wanted to share some creative words – a rap I wrote with a student as tribute to Heather who leaves tomorrow. I have struggled, admittedly, with this “Every Day in May” thing while having visitors and entertaining, but can you blame me? Really?

Rap for Primmer
This is a song for Primmer
for the girl we love
the one who plays wild guitar
and always gives lots of hugs

this is a rhyme for the time
when you found me all low
when I was searching for love
and a safe place to go

I was looking all around
turning over every stone
to find the answers to my questions
and ended up all alone

at the point of my sadness
when all else looked bleak
my exhaustion hit me hard
and made my bones feel weak

with the eyes of Christ
you looked out to find
me sitting there alone
with no reason or no rhyme

Now I just wanna say
thanks for taking the time
for listening and helping me
believe it all will be fine

Girl, this year’s been rough
the battle’s been strong
but we know you got our backs
you’ve been there all along

Up there in Canada
where you say “eh”
we know you remember us
in your prayers everyday

when you go back
remember one thing
it’s a LOVE attack
comin from your family

in Honduras we are
(farther south than you)
tryin’ to get through it’s hard
but we’ll manage, it’s true

because you always said
and we’ll never forget
we should strive for the Hope
that conquers all sin

so we wanna thank you and
leave you this memory
remember you’ve always got a friend
and you’ve found a friend in me
——————-

I know it’s completely cheesy, but Natalie and I are about to sing it tomorrow morning at the airport and I’m sure it’ll bring a smile!
What are you doing to ….
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

pursuing lower pleasures

After a crazy day, an afternoon filled with charades and catch phrase and laughter, and a typically cheesy serenade for the 11th grade girls… Heather and I went for coffee and finally caught up a bit. I chose the Latte Au-Lait, which means I am now WIDE awake and she’s zonked out (getting the sleep she needs so we can leave at 5:45 am to lead worship tomorrow at staff devotions).

I just want to write something quick tonight… maybe it will turn into a poem, but right now it’s just thoughts about pleasure. As I think about the students and this culture and (maybe) popular culture in general, I decide that our greatest sin is pursuing lower pleasures.
I know C.S. Lewis probably illustrated this idea more deeply than my brain can think it right now, but still it seemed a mini-revelation tonight.
God promises in Psalm 16:11 that in His presence there is FULLNESS of JOY and at His right hand there are PLEASURES forevermore. Wow! What a promise!
God promises the kind of joy that bursts out from inside our souls and overflows to uncontrollable laughter… the kind of joy that you can’t keep from showing on your face… the kind of joy you can’t wait to share with everyone you meet… the kind of joy that makes your heart feel like fire and makes you want to dance and shout and play in the rain…
NOT ONLY that, but also pleasures forevermore. God offers us pleasure that never ends – He created us with the desire for pleasures forevermore and He is delighted when we pursue the highest kind. He planted that little seed inside us, in the soil of our humanity, that tries to break the surface and soar toward the sun… all the ways our humanity longs to have pleasure can be traced back to the way we were created in His image to experience pleasures forevermore.
The moment I decide to pursue a less pleasurable pleasure than what I was created for, I am choosing sin. I know, it sounds confusing. Usually we associate pleasure with sin, but right now I am saying that we sin when we pursue less pleasure or lower pleasure. Because I know God created me and placed in me a desire to have infinite joy and pleasure, I know that anything less than a pursuit of THAT means two things:
1. I am not experiencing the most pleasure possible (can only be found in and through God)
2. I am trying to make lower pleasures fulfill my God-given desires for the BEST pleasure (which, of course is a fail from the start)
God created us, knows us, and delights when we are absolutely bursting with joy.
Here’s what I’m praying:
O, that I might be an instrument on which God chooses to boldly play the joyful song of redemption.

.let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

Jon Foreman, Andrée Seu, Joan of Arc, Peter, and me

I’m super tired. But, these two articles have been on my mind, so I’m going to crank out some processing about them and call it my creative writing for tonight.

In The Huffington Post, Jon Foreman recently wrote an article and then alerted all his twittlers (tweet followers) about his recent journalistic activity. Like the good twittler I am, I checked it out and found “The Dark Horse: Joan of Arc, Elliot Smith, and me” to be sufficiently thought provoking. Not long after, I read Andrée Seu’s article in WORLD magazine after a more dedicated search for her writing. I can’t find a twitter account for her … or other ways to be creepily connected, so I have to do the old-fashioned thing and just search the WORLD website. It led me to a gem titled, “Falling from steadfastness” that has secured a space as one of my tabs ever since.
So, how could these two articles possibly intersect? Foreman eases us into a history lesson, via the web mecca of knowledge (Wikipedia) about Joan of Arc’s visions as a young girl in an English controlled France. At the age when many young girls are learning to drive a car, Joan of Arc disguised herself as a man, and heroically led the French armies to battle and then victories.
Foreman’s conclusion: Joan of Arc was only a hero because there was adversity.
We see the narrative story all around us, playing out in real-time and real consequences. We are all the underdog against this big, nasty opponent called sin. The odds are stacked entirely in its favor and the most obvious and safe and preserving decision would be to surrender before any battle begins.
Foreman is processing what this means for the way we’re tempted to see the world through cynicism and bitterness. We’re tempted to look at the opponent on the other side of the ring and give up before we begin. But, what better time to display our God-given abilities than in the face of adversity?
Because I am so “this generation,” as I’m reading Jon Foreman’s article I’m also popping over a few tabs to see what Andrée Seu has to say and totally digging it. She’s talking about 2 Peter 3:17, “You, therefore, beloved…. be aware lest you fall from your own steadfastness, being led away by the error of the wicked.” Seu calls steadfastness, “a moment-by-moment believing in God” and says that this fall Peter talks about is pretty serious. Then I get down to this little paragraph describing the error of the wicked,
What is the “error”? It is a slightly skewed view of grace that encourages passivity and discourages a striving for greater faith, since all striving—or any muscular “steadfastness”—is suspected of being works righteousness. Never mind that God says to “grow in grace” (2 Peter 3:18).
I read it and moused over to the Jon Foreman tab at the top of my screen and wondered if the articles were working in cahoots. If the error of the wicked is “a slightly skewed view of grace that encouraged passivity and discourages a striving for great faith,” then turning back from adversity is not only making a statement about your view of the opponent, but also about your view of grace.
Foreman’s article ends pleading with the reader to not approach life with mere cynicism, but to see adversity as an opportunity for heroism. Seu’s article ends portraying this kind of heroism in the everyday grind of life… where our view of grace will carry over onto the kind of co-worker, mother, father, daughter, son, and neighbor we are. Seu writes,

There is a “holding on” that must be part of the Christian’s everyday life (Hebrews 3:6,14). “Steadfastness” is not the staunch maintaining of a theological position but something much more personal and difficult: It is fighting for your very life, using every weapon listed in Ephesians 6. These articles of armor were not meant to be admired on a shelf but scuffed up in battle.

And so, at 11 pm, I’m not sure if this makes sense at all, but I just mashed two articles together and came up with this: adversity is an opportunity for heroism as much as defeat. But, to even hope for heroism, one must be with a right view of grace and armored up to go into battle.

snippets, anecdotes, and 7 worst things

Okay, I’m ba-AACK!
Last Saturday, we ventured up the infamous, cloud forest mountain (noteworthy because of my first failed attempt and following lost-on-mountain-adventure). The quaint little cabins welcomed us in the little town of Rosario after the long hike. I was especially glad to reach our destination because we took students with us.
The night was filled with food, conversation, laughter, books, worship, laughter, scorpion spotting, laughter, scorpion killing, worship, and more laughter.
Again, I realized how important it is for laughter to be involved in my life! We woke up early and ventured out to see the sun break through the cloudy haze and then spent quiet time, worship time, reading time, and breakfast time.
We hiked out Sunday morning and we were “sucking the marrow” right out, as Thoreau suggests. I almost collapsed when I got home, if not for the dark chocolate Heather brought from Canada. I took in a Mars Hill sermon, cleaned a bit, and then we made dinner before going to Micah Project. Whew!
So…. I am not making excuses, I just want you all to know that “Every Day in May” took place in my journal for the past two days. Well, that’s not entirely true. On Saturday night, Heather and I wrote a song that will never be sung again or written down. I wrote the words as they fell off my lips and I happily considered it my writing for the day.
Today… well, I decided to go back to the prompts from creativewritingprompts.com and I landed on number 231 which says, “List the 7 worst things to say to a person who just got dumped.”
Hm. It’s not really my cup ‘o tea, but we’ll see how it goes. I do like that it is going to be short, because I am WIPED out! Today after school, we met up with Diana and Maria and played some cards in McDonald’s… then picked up Sara and made some AMAZING orange, mango, ginger chicken with vegetables over long grain rice.
So, maybe 7 things is all I can muster right now, anyway. 🙂
SEVEN worst things you can say to a person who just got dumped (in no particular order)
1. “Oh, don’t worry, that girl I saw him with was probably just his sister.”
2. “Hey, you’ll survive! I mean, I’ve been dumped many times… and you kind of just get used to it, you know?”
3. “What did you do? I thought you guys had such a good thing!”
4. “I’m sorry. I mean, I can’t say I know how you feel, since I got married and everything… but it must be real tough.”
5. “I never told you this, but me and him… we, uh, well, we like each other.”
6. “I guess God doesn’t want you to have a boyfriend.”
7. “I wonder what you’ll do now…”
Hm. I’m a fan of creative writing prompts, but this was completely and unsatisfactorily uninspiring.
Well, I’ll just say it was probably inevitable to have a day where I didn’t love the prompt, the character, or the process. It happens.
Every Day in May Project, day TEN (days eight and nine are in my head or my journal)

Okay, now for that fleeting, precious thing called sleep…

a haiku

I have been struggling these past two days because Heather, my former roommate is here in Honduras visiting. I went from writing fictional short stories to very short poems. But, my commitment was to creative writing every day in May, not lengthy or story or even necessarily good. So, thanks to eHow, I have a haiku to share tonight. I’m not exactly happy with it, but it’s 11:46 and I’m tired. I also had a wonderful day and I think I’m frustrated I can’t be creative enough right now to explain it.
I actually remember very little about haiku poetry, so if you have any brilliant ideas or advice, let me know!
——–
falling drops of rain
each quiet loss slow breaks free
tender, dry earth waits
———
day SEVEN of the Every Day in May Project – to write creatively every day in the month of May!

Tomorrow, I am hiking La Tigra (the mountaintop/cloud forest) and staying a hostel with Heather, Jess, and some students… where we plan to have amazing deep conversations, beautiful laughter, worship, and lots of love!