Friday, May 30, 2008

Pop a cap in your roof

I thought I had learned nearly everything there was to know about Alabamians since living here for the last 8 years, but today I learned something new. Apparently, in Alabama, people like to shoot guns in the air just for the heck of it. I'm pretty sure there are some more constructive ways to celebrate or vent or kill time, but I suppose they don't see it that way. Today I discovered that my roof was the unfortunate recipient of one of those air-bound bullets.

Our roof has been leaking on and off for almost a year now. We've had the roofers out several times to no avail, but today they found the culprit: a bullet that looks almost identical to the top one in the picture above. According to the roofer, when a bullet hits a roof (as it does often?), it makes a bigger hole than the bullet itself (a lesson in physics) and causes a leak (aha!). I asked the guy if I could keep the bullet to show people, but he said he had to take it to his boss. I wonder if they have some sort of roof-bullet competition going on at the office...a glass case for all the bullets they find and a bonus for the largest bullet in a given month? I hope our roofer gets the bonus...or at least gives our bullet an advantageous position in the glass case.

So, if you live in Alabama, beware: someone might just pop a cap in your roof.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Everyone has those moments (or days or years) when you think you can (and should) be famous, and there's something about karaoke that evokes those feelings--something about having a microphone in your hand and a really catchy song playing that makes you feel like a rock star. To be quite honest, I don't have a resume when it comes to singing karaoke; I'm usually the one getting enjoyment out of watching others sing off key. However, I have recently discovered that in small groups with people I know, I can't get enough. Today, for example, I spent over an hour singing the best of the oldies, and I'm convinced that it's one of the best ways to spend an hour. Of course, there were only two of us and we were in a home, but it's that non-public atmosphere that allows me to leave my inhibitions and belt a few tunes. I'm even known to sing in accent when I really get going. So, I'm thinking that Phil and I should have a karaoke party at our place sometime soon, complete with inflatable microphones for best effort, best voice, and best ingenuity. Who wants in?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Celebration, grieving, and just plain coping

In a devotional by Henri Nouwen entitled "In Search of Meaning" he writes, "When a child is born, friends get married, a parent dies, people revolt, or a nation starves, it's not enough just to know about these things and to celebrate, grieve, or respond as best we can. We have to keep asking ourselves: 'What does it all mean? What is God trying to tell us? How are we called to live in the midst of all this?' Without such questions our lives become numb and flat. But are there answers? There are, but we will never find them unless we are willing to live the questions first and trust that, as Rilke says, we will, without even noticing it, grow into the answer." I love anything Nouwen writes, but these words were particularly meaningful on the heels of the happenings of the past several weeks. I have celebrated with friends at their weddings (2 more to go this summer!), grieved with those in China and Myanmar over their natural disasters, spent memorable time with new parents and their precious babies, have grieved with my friend whose husband died a year ago fighting for our country, and have witnessed great rebellion and great promise in the teenagers I teach. It's hard to believe all of those experiences have transpired in just a couple of weeks, and I want to be careful that I do not become numb and flat to them, for this is the stuff of life. It is in these experiences that God offers growth through a nearness to Him that comes with searching for His meaning in all of it.

The image that comes to mind is one of me when I was 5 or 6 years old at Ruby Falls. For those who didn't grow up in Chattanooga, Ruby Falls is a man-made cave with a waterfall at the bottom that they cast colored lights on when you get to it (see picture above). If it sounds a bit disappointing, that's because it is. Personal commentary aside, though, when you arrive at the bottom of the cave and are standing at the edge of the falls, they turn all the lights out and it is blacker than any black you've ever experienced. I remember opening my eyes as wide as I possibly could and holding my hand in front of my face and not being able to see anything. It was that black. In my fear and attempt to make sense of what was happening, I clung to the first leg I could find, hoping it was my mom's...and it was. It's that kind of desperate clinging in the midst of uncertainty that I love about the Nouwen quote. It reminds me of one of my favorite hymns:

When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A New Start(er)

This morning at 10:30 I was sitting at O'Henry's drinking coffee, which doesn't sound unusual except that I was supposed to be at work. I went to take the school newspapers to the downtown post office for the mail out and then went to another post office to mail a package on my way back to work. I got in my car, put the key in the ignition, and...nothing. It was completely silent. I knew enough to check all the obvious mistakes I could have made like leaving the light on or not having the car in park, but it all looked normal. And, as the picture indicates, it was actually my starter. Thankfully, there were two service stations within walking distance as well as a coffee shop. Besides the $250 that are no longer in my checking account, this couldn't have happened at a better time; my students were in exams so I wasn't missing anything pertinent at work and not two days ago, we received our tax return in the mail. In the words of my father-in-law, "The Lord takes care of His own."
The last 3-4 weeks have been an unhealthy but somewhat unavoidable whirlwind of activity, causing me to neglect what I love and need most--namely, time with my Savior. Last Friday, I saw the movie Prince Caspian. There is a scene in which Lucy sees Aslan and runs to him, hugging his mane. She then sits down with him in the forest while war and chaos ensue through the rest of Narnia, and she talks with him contentedly without a distraction from the outside world or a desire to be anywhere else. It was at that moment that I saw what I longed to have but had been avoiding with busyness.
I just finished reading a phenomenal article in the Journal of Biblical Counseling by Edward T. Welch. Here is an excerpt that stood out to me: "Our behavior reveals our relationship with god. The reason God is foreign to so much of our conscious thought is that we want Him to be distant. Our sense is that He makes demands on us that we don't want. In our hearts, we want a kind of friendly divorce where God goes His way, we go ours and no one is hurt. That, however, is not how life really works."
This begs the question: what demands do I feel God makes on me that I don't want? If I'm honest, I'm afraid I'll have to face my sin and change, that I'll have to yield my precious plans to His will, that He may call me to dark an difficult places. Even writing those thoughts exposes the lies that I am believing. The truth is that confession is always coupled with forgiveness, that God's grace is greater than my sin, that a change toward righteousness is always worthwhile, that His ways are higher than mine, that He is supremely sovereign, and that He offers hope at all times--even in the dark places. As Welch wrote, "Even in our hardship, He is doing good. Sometimes the good is that He is teaching us to trust Him."
I've been reading through the Psalms (one a day) for the past week or so and god has met me there, turning me more and more away from myself and toward Him and His truths. After a whirlwind of activity, He is stilling my soul and I can't imagine a better place to be that sitting and interacting with the Lion of Judah Himself.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Merely A Flesh Wound

Phil came in from a bike ride minutes after I got home from work today and greeted me with, "You'll never guess what just happened." Honestly, I love it when he starts conversations like that because usually I have no idea what he's about to say and there's something adventurous and anticipatory about the half-second before he tells me what it is. I also enjoy trying to read his mind and making a guess, so since it had rained earlier today, I confidently replied, "You wiped out on your bike, didn't you?" To my complete surprise, he responded with smirking mixed with bewilderment saying, "No, I just got bit by a dog!" After determining that he was all right, I couldn't suppress a grin any longer and we both had a good laugh...and continue to laugh about it. You have to admit that it's a pretty funny story. And don't worry--the owner was outside and was, of course, extremely apologetic and reassured Phil that the dog had all its shots. Of course, I'd say that too if my dog just bit someone!

Apparently, being bitten by a dog isn't just for mail carriers in movies anymore; it's for your average bike rider in a quiet neighborhood. That's right: a bulldog bit Phil today. So, it's only appropriate that we remember this monumental day with pictures and blogging...and possibly some antibiotics in case he contracts rabies.