rumpled blankets, essays, and castles in clouds

I’m swimming in essays, scattered on the rumpled blankets of my bed. We’re in the middle of a cloud tonight (when this happens I nearly always think of the Les Miserables song, “Castle on a Cloud”) and I’m warming to orange, manzanilla, and green teas as I read through an endless amount of essays. Tomorrow is report card day and I can’t begin to express the empathy I now feel for my high school English teacher. The sheer amount of words is enough to scare me off, but throw in another language and I’m wishing the words “This essay is due next week” never left my lips… and I’m a psychology teacher. Imagine doing this every day! Ah!

On the other hand (there always seems to be another hand), the reason the process is taking so long is because I feel as if the students are finally personal. Assign an essay on problem solving and you’re sure to read some clever, creative, surprising, and endearing stories that open windows into their lives. I am quite enjoying it!

In the rush of the end of the quarter last week, I have not been able to post, so tonight I want to encourage you with the lyrics of two of Brooke Fraser‘s songs. I have just recently been listening to her new CD, Albertine, inspired by her trips to Rwanda. The first, Hymn, resonates with my heart’s desire to dwell, really dwell in Thee; the Truth and the only Life. The second, C.S. Lewis song (how could I not be drawn to such a title!), reminds me of the temporary nature of this life and how we purpose to live in light of a collective groaning for redemption.

HYMN
If to distant lands I scatter
If I sail to farthest seas
Would you find and firm and gather ’til I only dwell in Thee?
If I flee from greenest pastures
Would you leave to look for me?
Forfeit glory to come after
‘Til I only dwell in Thee

If my heart has one ambition
If my soul one goal to seek
This my solitary vision ’til I only dwell in Thee
That I only dwell in Thee
‘Til I only dwell in Thee

C.S. Lewis song
If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary,
then of course I’ll feel nude when to where I’m destined I’m compared


Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan
as I wait for hope to come for me


Am I lost or just found? On the straight or on the roundabout of the wrong way?
is this a soul that stirs in me, is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?
Cos my comfort would prefer for me to be numb
An avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become


For we, we are not long here
Our time is but a breath, so we better breathe it
And I, I was made to live, I was made to love, I was made to know you
Hope is coming for me
Hope, He’s coming


I hope you are blessed tonight (or morning) as you think on what exactly in your life today has eternal significance. I pray you are seeking the Lord, dwelling in Him, and experiencing the abundant life. My hearts overflows in light of His grace upon grace (John 1).

Here’s a taste of this week (I HOPE!):
What can YOU do?
I’ve had SO many people ask me how they can support the ministries here in Honduras and I’m finally going to do my best to tell you. So, listen close!

Adventures of the Life I Wish I Led
Who knows if I’ll write this. Pray that I do for accountability’s sake. I really do enjoy writing creatively!

Where does creativity come from?
I guess sometimes I just wonder this myself. The short answer is our Creator. What’s the long answer… how do we develop our creativity? What forms might it take? This is what I wonder sometimes.

Exciting updates from HONDURAS

I’m hoping this post includes a new newsletter, but we’ll see about that. I know, I know, I’m way behind. But, I also know that you are gracious to let me finish well instead of finish quickly! 🙂

Vaya Pues!

Weekly Lineup

Back again.

The market’s bright produce, fresh flowers, and loud bargains was a welcome rush yesterday morning. I meandered among the plantains, peppers, and papayas breathing in the strong smell of hot pupusas and baleadas. I’m back.

I can’t figure it out, surely I’ve tried. But, I can’t figure out why I consistently find ‘home’ in so many places. I left for two weeks – lunched in smalltown diners, shared in my hometown church service, breakfasted with grandparents, celebrated our Savior’s birth with family, opened gifts, Christmas caroled to neighbors, road-tripped to the beautiful mountains of Colorado – and now I feel like I’m back instead of the opposite feeling of being ‘away.’

Well, however my intercontinental feeling of ‘home’ works, I’m grateful. And, now that I’m back I know that the Lord has bold plans in the making.

Here’s a look into next week here on the blog:

Resolution Schmesolution
Obviously, I have a bit of a grudge against this time of year and its infamous goal-setting. It’s so unfortunate that goals come once a year and are fueled by such things as guilt and personal gain. Could there be another option?

Last Days
“To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.” This quote from Joel Rosenberg’s book, “The Last Days,” has spurred a series of reflections. Are we ever called to tolerate evil? When God says in Matthew 5:44 to, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” what exactly did He have in mind… tangibly? I know this may seem a world away, but as I read several books at once (of course!), I know that in the spiritual realm, every battle is connected.

God Chose You
A friend once said in her testimony, “Sure there are countless more qualified and doubtless more effective for your position. But, God didn’t choose them. God chose you.”

Adventures of the Life I Wish I Led
Okay, so I’ve realized that these excepts are neither short stories nor do they necessarily follow sequence or even the same story line. But, I enjoy writing the bits and pieces and so I will continue. I still really haven’t received any feedback, so I can’t determine if I’m horribly embarrassing myself… and in any case I suppose I don’t mind. Read if you want, don’t if you don’t :).

Look out for surprises and grab bags. I am excited to see what this new year brings and also to hear more from you! I know I write this all the time, but I’m serious! I love to hear what you are up to – suggestions, advice, similar stories, and the like.

What have you resolved to do this year?

Lineup and gift-giving

At a recent Christmas outreach to our students, we asked them to think about what Christmas would be like if they didn’t receive a single gift. In my group, I only sensed a slight hesitation before the, “No,” followed a shake of the head. I don’t know what I was expecting… sunday school answers, I guess. But, when I heard their honest admission, I asked the same question of myself.

Lately, I’ve been racking my brain, trying to think of things to put on my Christmas list. You know – family and friends are thoughtfully asking what would make the perfect gift and I’m grateful to oblige. I hear myself saying, “Well, I have several pairs of slacks, but I could use a few more. I’ve been wearing these for several years now … I guess I could use some money on an iTunes giftcard, you know I’m always wanting new music … You know, now that I think of it, a toaster oven would be so nice to have in the apartment so we didn’t have to toast bread over the open flame on the gas stove …”

Even writing these now sends a shameful shiver up my arms. We only get one life and I’m asking for a toaster oven? Really?

I know that part of giving gifts is that they have to be received on the other end. I get that.

I guess I just wish I would understand that I do not need gadgets and frills and, well, stuff. Why is it I desire things that are so… I don’t know, rusty. That’s it – things that will rust. Why, instead, don’t I find contentment in the necessities? I know – it’s the same question every year.

Looks like I’m going to need to be in prayer this week. I know the return trip to the States will be more than overwhelming in all sorts of ways. But, I am so so so excited to see my family, play in the snow, have wrestle fights with my brothers, drink coffee in the mornings with my sister and mom, and YES sit on the heater in the dining room in the early morning when it is cold!

Here’s the lineup for this week, we’ll see how it goes:

feelings on leaving
I’m not sure how I feel about leaving this place. I’ve settled into life here and I know that 2 weeks throws a pretty large wrench in the system.

Christmas countdown
Here’s a list of things I LOVE at Christmastime.

creative gifts
I have been in the past, but this year I’m trying even more to give gifts with meaning and my own personal touch. My family has been sending out gift lists for awhile, but I hope they don’t mind me doing my own thing. 🙂

adventures of the life I wish I led
I realize that every adventure I write is only an introduction to the actual action … so this week I’m going to try to write when something actually happens :).

grab bag
pictures, updates, comedy, art … who knows?

much love to you all this week

Leaves in the Winter

Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. That’s how I would describe this day.

You might remember my pitiful posts from a few weeks ago, trapped inside without electricity or sunshine. Well, today is different – MUCH different. The sun is out and showing all its glory against the pale blue cotton sky. Even the birds seem to find cause for chorus this afternoon.

I finally finished the painting project in the kitchen. Actually, it had more to do with starch and fabric than paint. I saw this idea Christina used in her living room and decided I would try a variation here. I am so glad to say it worked and we love it! The seasons aren’t here quite the same as Iowa, so a daily reminder of changing leaves is refreshing.

Well, well. This week has flown by almost as fast as the motorcycles at the gate. I’m pushing through these last few weeks with a new teaching approach, refreshed perspective for purpose, and daily in wonder at the gift of life.

I’m following John Piper’s sermons via video each week and as we make our way through John, my heart is full of gratitude. Not so ironically, at the same time I am studying Beth Moore’s, “Jesus the One and Only” devotional. I’m getting to know Jesus – the person. How strange to think that Jesus wandered around as a child, questioned adults about things as a young man, and watched his siblings fight.

I am gearing up for this week and I’m excited to see what the Lord will do. Here’s a bit of what might show up on the blog.

Life of the Party
So, a very long time ago I was going to write about something that happened at the fall party. Now, I’ve waited long enough to just make it a double and write about the Christmas party we had on Saturday as well.

Gift-giving
Even though I’m not shivering in below zero temperatures, I still see all the crazy “Christmas” holiday decorations, advertisements, and ridiculous light displays. There’s even a Santa train that goes up and down the boulevard. How is Christmas about the giving?

At the Cinema
So, our family has a lot of traditions at Christmas. Watching a few movies is usually one of them. Christina’s favorite is — well, I’ll just let you read about that this week!

Problem-Solving
I’m doing a unit (believe it or not it’s IN the textbook!) on critical thinking and problem-solving. I’m trying to get them to make connections with real-life… instead of always relating things at school to school, I want them to open up about how we daily have problems that need solving… especially in our relationship with God.

Grab Bag
Who knows what this will be!!

This Christmas is difficult in weird ways. Actually, we’re trying really hard to make it feel like Christmas, without cold and snow and family. I think we’re doing a pretty good job, but I can tell you I am eager to step off that plane in Omaha to greet a couple bound for a little farm in southwest Iowa.

Weekly Lineup

Last week, we tried something a little different. We asked YOU to submit a blog to post. Of the generous outpouring of clever submissions, we found a gem (which we quickly published). If you didn’t get the chance to write something… please do! We’re not like those crazy people who don’t have enough time to read what you’re writing. We will read it and love it!

So, this week here’s what you can probably, most likely, maybe see up here on musings.
Apartment C-3 Makeover
Read about the finishing touches on our apartment remodel. It was a combined 4 days work, 3 girls, 7 gallons and two pints of paint, 8 walls, 6 furniture pieces, several chocolate and tea breaks, and a LOT accomplished. Look for pictures!

Secret Life of Bees
Many of you have probably read this. Some of you are maybe curious. Well, I was looking for some good fiction to read by flashlight last week during power outages and borrowed this from a friend. Read my thoughts on this interesting novel.

Thanksgiving
When I was younger, we would go around the table and list the things for which we were thankful. I know we kind of bemoaned the practice as kids, but I secretly loved it (maybe not so secret… I bet if you asked my siblings they would say I was as cheesy as Mom when it really came down to it). So, what new Thanksgiving traditions do you make on your own?

Watching God Work

I’ve given up. Of course, I’ve given up before, but I’m hoping this sticks. I hope that this time, when I give up control it will be lost somewhere deep under the mudslides of this mountain with no hope of retrieval. God is sometimes curious in His might… but the more I behold, the more I desire to “treasure these things” as Mary did and trust God for Who He is.

There may be more, may be less. Feel free to chime in though, at any time!!

Love from C.A.

line-up, change-up

Well, this week is out of the ordinary… and late, of course.

Why? You might ask. Well, for starters, for two straight days my mountaintop has been without power. The winds rattle the walls and windows all night and darkness greets our mornings.

Needless to say, my routine has been a bit crazy.

Several thousand miles away, I haven’t talked to the other (more creative genius) half of this blog in awhile and I don’t want our next conversation to be about this blog.

So….

Because of these delightful, unexpected, life things, I was wondering something…

I was wondering if YOU could be our lineup this week. Respond to this post with suggestions for future blogging, things you are thinking, questions you are pondering, blessings you are thankful for… pretty much anything goes (that you think my mom would also approve and enjoy :).

So – let’s see what you got, my lovely readers. But, you’ve got to write it down!

Weekly Lineup

This week has been interesting. I’m late getting out the lineup because of a crazy weekend (and I’m excited to hear about Christina’s weekend too!). But, praise the Lord because there is blue sky and sunshine again in Honduras! Thank you for your prayers – things are drying out and the vitamin D is doing wonders.

This week should be great – here’s a sneak peek of what we think we’ll write about ;). Be blessed today!

Blitz Update
So, you heard the exciting news from Caroline’s busy week, but follow up Christina and her busy Friday. By the numbers looked exhausting, but I’m sure the Lord worked in marvelous ways!

Ordinary vs. Extraordinary
Read Caroline’s thoughts on how God calls us to live each ordinary day as unto Him. Not all of us are called to be Mother Theresas. Sometimes God ministers through the most ordinary of people in the most ordinary of ways. What should our lives look like if we’re not extraordinary?

Being a Christian is not always about being good
Find out what Christina has to say about this… I’m interested to know (still!).

the stronghold of self-pity
The world loves it when we feel bad about ourselves. There are all sorts of antidotes – movies, chocolate, gossip – but none that satisfy.

After the Election
What to do now? What’s done is done and now we face again our responsibility as citizens to be active participants and keep our government accountable. Where do we go from here?

GraB bAg
As always, look for things out of the ordinary!

We love to hear from you, so keep those comments coming!