Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye, 2012: a pacific northwest year-end finale

Green, green; everywhere green:

Walking through the well-watered woods


Green at dawn, under rain-filled clouds

And yesterday, unexpectedly: a brilliant banner of blue!

A rare, rainless day

Who knew there was cobalt under all that fluffy gray?!

And today, even more unexpectedly: white, white — everywhere white!

Isn't it grand?!

Time slows when you catch snowflakes. . . 

I prayed it would snow while I was home. . . What a lovely year-end gift!

Happy New Year, friends!

In 2013, may you luxuriate in God's lavish grace, rest in his peace, know the depth of his love, sense his smiling delight, and cling to his promise of heaven.

Looking forward to a glorious new year with you,


© by scj

Friday, December 28, 2012

Jiggity jig

I'm home again, home again, jiggity jig. Although I haven't been doing much jigging. Mostly moonwalking. And a little bit of the Charleston. My parents have moved to a new (to them) house with wood floors; and, baby, it's cold outside, so I wear socks. And then I slide and skate. It's semi-hazardous for absent-minded walkers by.

But it's great exercise.

And I love that I'm healthy enough to exercise. When I've not been moonwalking, I've gone to a dance class with my sister (it was canceled, but hey, I had enough verve to go), hit the gym with my dad, and done push-ups. Well, I didn't actually do push-ups, but I imagined I did. It all starts in the mind, right? And it's been years since I've had the energy to even imagine doing push-ups. So, basically, it's been a break-through week.

It's also been a week of change.

Last month my parents moved from our home of 23 years to a house out toward the country. It has breath-taking views, large windows that invite the light inside, and, of course, slippery wood floors.

But it's not home. Not yet, anyway.

The trees in the backyard have never held tree houses built by small, clever hands; the smell of the yard's freshly cut grass doesn't remind me of kool aid and slip n' slides; I don't know where every light switch is; and the boys' bedroom doesn't smell like. . . boys.

When I turn onto my parents' new street I don't remember the days I sold rice krispie treats on the corner; and when I pull into the driveway I don't turn back time and envision four little blond waifs toppling out the door wearing tutus and cowboy boots.

All this change doesn't detract from my gratitude for the new house. I am quite thankful for it. It's a refreshing and wise change for my faithful parents. It's a good gift from a good God.

It's just that so much of life feels like sojourning — like looking for home, and never quite finding it. I can settle into my own abode, and decorate, and bake, and light candles, and usher in guests, and slip on red shoes and click my heels three times. . . but the reality is, heaven is our only true home, and nothing will ever feel like HOME home until we settle into our heaven-home. But I think the house I grew up in was as close to home as you can get, this side of heaven. Going home to it was a deep comfort. I felt like I belonged.

But I guess it's good to feel uncomfortable — to be reminded sharp and fresh to turn my heart toward heaven, instead of storing all my stuff down here where time will eat away at it. It's good to be reminded that I wasn't made for here. The unfilled longing for home reminds me that Jesus is the only One who can satisfy. God is gracious to remind me of this.

And I know that one day there will be little grandbabies spilling out the new front door, and maybe even selling lemonade on the corner — with me as their business advisor, of course. At some point someone will don a tutu or cowboy boots, and I imagine I'll eventually find all of the light switches. My big toe will be thankful when that happens.

Yes, we'll fill this new house with memories, as we re-center our hearts on heaven. And my mom is right: "The more memories we make, the more this house will feel like home."

So we've been working hard to make lots of fond memories this week. Here are just a few:

We sit around and talk, and little brother keeps us in stitches. The boy's timing is, I tell ya.

We [read: my fun mom] turned the downstairs into a movie theatre, and have been enjoying the t.v. series "Pushing Daisies." So clever, so sweet, and so intent on lauding virtue. How have I not discovered this series until now?!

We got locked out of the house (didn't waste any time in re-making that memory),

My sister
and tried to break in.

E and her sister, A, are childhood friends that came to visit for the weekend.

And when that didn't work we initiated our first ever "Operation snag-a-key" at the new house.

Operation "Snag-a-key" initiated

We ended up locating a key fifteen minutes away in my dad's office. A short while later we were inside the new house enjoying a cup of steaming tea and a good chat.

We sip tea and chat most afternoons. It's a go-to memory-maker around here.

Next week, my brother and sister-in-law join us, so we'll just keep filling this house fuller with memories. Until then, I'm still wearing socks, Christmas music is blaring from the other room and getting me all jiggy, and this place is starting to feel a bit like home.

© by scj

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A dialogue whilst brushing teeth

Sister: You're healthier this Christmas than I've seen you in years.

Me: Is it that obvious?

Sister: Yes. It's crazy.

I shall smile while I sleep tonight, and dream healthy dreams.

Merry day-after-Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight.

© by scj

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tea, party of four

I still haven't joined the world of twitter, but boy, I like perusing my friends' twitters. Tweets. Twitter accounts. Whatever they're called.

This little gem, tweeted by my friend Bryan, gave me a good chuckle. I thought it was funny enough to share (with permission):

CAPTION: "Apparently my 2 yr old needed a 4th chair for her tea party so she improvised and found one..."

Love me an innovative tea party. Now I'm just awaiting my invite. ;)

For more of this little darling's antics follow my friend, Olympic gold medalist Bryan Clay, on twitter. He loves Jesus, travels, and has photo shoots and television interviews; and best best best of all: he chronicles his kids' antics.

© by scj

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Scholarship Story

Sometimes, when people ask me why I love Jesus, I struggle to answer them with eloquence. It's not that I don't have any answers; it's just that 172 answers often hit me at the same time. Anwers that, like too many people trying to walk simultaneously through the same door, get jammed in the idea-transportation tube that connects my brain and my mouth. You know what I'm talking about, right?

My super precise scientific diagram
And the idea-transportation tube is totally real, right?

Well, the same thing's been happening to me this month, except with writing ideas. I have so many blog post ideas that they're jamming the tube that leads from my brain to my fingers. Thus, my two week absence.

And so, this week, because there's a traffic jam in my brain-to-fingers tube, I'm posting a friend's testimony.

For awhile now I've been wanting to do a series in which I feature other people's stories of God's faithfulness and provision to them. As I've written elsewhere, these stories can buoy our faith.

This isn't the kickoff for that series because I still need to gather more stories. (If you have a story of God's faithfulness and provision I want to hear it!) But I think this lone story will encourage you.

And so I give you a scholarship story, in my friend's words:

This is the story of how my financial need was answered.

Since well before Thanksgiving Break, I knew that I was going to be short a fairly large amount of money for this upcoming Spring semester. In an effort to find aid, I spoke with the Student Advocate Office in early November about the potential possibilities for aid. I met with Shelly Smith*.

Shelly walked me through the steps I should take to find aid and suggested that I attend several Scholarship meetings. I did as was told and attended the meetings and looked into the different ways to find scholarships.

Nothing really came about from my pursuits and so I was continually stressed about ways to figure out my dilemma. I prayed and prayed that God would take away this burden, so that I could return to school in the spring.

With my other scholarships and a last-minute provision of $6,000 that went straight to my account (!), I was $2,445 short of next semester’s tuition. I was the only person who knew this information. Or rather, I did, and so did God.

I went in to financially check in on December 6th, which was the scholarship application deadline. I had no idea what I was going to do. I thought that I might as well try the Student Advocate Office one more time. Just to see if there was any possibility of receiving aid directly from that office. When I walked in, Shelly Smith was just finishing up with a client and recognized me, almost a month later.

She said, “Joseph Bullinger*, right?”

I was surprised that she remembered my face, much less my full name.  She proceeded to say, “Come on in,” and I didn’t have to wait at all. I waited 30 minutes at my previous visit.

She brought me into the same room as last time and said that she was glad I came in because she had just been working on my file that morning. She had been pestering her boss to look over my financial need and that very day she had gotten an answer as to how much I would be able to receive.

She did some calculations and showed me the number on the calculator and with a smile and glint in her eye she said, “this is the amount we will be able to help you with”…my chin dropped as the number was $2,501.26.

It was 56 more dollars than I needed. But no less than I needed.   

God provided for me this month. In a very big way. It was very encouraging for me, in my dedication to prayer, and in confirming that there is no need to doubt. If God wants you somewhere, He will put you there. So long as you are open and listening. 

*Names have been changed
Image credit (tube edits mine):

© by scj