Thursday, September 27, 2012

Love Story (5): Enter Jesus

{Just joining us?  You can find Part 1 here}

There may have only been nine miles between our campuses, but in a sense they were worlds apart: the Professor attended a small Christian school, while I was at a giant state school, even taking a class on evolution (a detail that somehow escaped me until the class began).

We had talked about religion and faith here and there over the summer without really getting anywhere.  I believed in God and knew Jesus had died on the cross.  I was good about going to church and tried to read the Bible regularly and to do good works.  I didn't think anything else really needed to be said about the subject.

Ironically, it was some boys from my church who got on the Professor's case about the differences in our beliefs, and so, on a weekend home visit, the Professor said those dreaded words that no one in a relationship wants to hear: "We need to talk."

We were at my parents' farm.  It was about 11pm.  He could easily give me the break-up speech and be back home in his bed by midnight.  I waited for a cheesy opening line: "It's not you, it's me"; "I just need some space"; "We're different people now" or some such like.

Instead, he started talking about Jesus.  He talked about grace, a word I knew mostly from that famous hymn, and how my good works would never be enough to cover up or outweigh my sins.

I didn't fully understand it then, but I did feel a weight lift from my shoulders.  I had always wondered just what it took to get to Heaven, but nobody could give me a clear answer.  So, I had spent a lot of time in clubs, activities, service opportunities, largely because I wanted those things, but also always in the back of my mind hoping that they would make me "good enough."

But even though I was outwardly praised and rewarded, I knew that my heart held some pretty wicked things: gossip, lies, judgment, even lust.  I often wondered (and worried) just what the ratio of good works would have to be to outweigh the wrongs I did and thought.

We walked outside and searched the Professor's car for a Bible.  He led me down the Romans Road, showing me Scripture that explained that I was a sinner (agreed), that Jesus died on the cross (agreed) in my place to pay for my sins because I could not pay such a high price (new to me), and that He offered salvation as a free gift (new to me).  I need only call on His name and believe (totally new to me).

The Professor led me in prayer, and while I still didn't entirely grasp what had happened, I knew that everything was changed.  That I was changed and changed forever.

I have a greater understanding of my salvation these days, though truly it is still a marvelous mystery that the Lord would save a wretch like me.  And that he used the Professor to speak that truth to me?  Makes it all the sweeter.

Friday, September 14, 2012

5MF: Focus

Yarn for sale


It's mommy brain at it's best.  Worst?  Strongest, at any rate.

Everything filters through my mind like a rushing river, the rocks worn too smooth for a single thought to cling and take hold.  Writing has suffered, blogging has suffered, even conversation has suffered.

But where I cannot buckle down with my intellectual self, a physicality I've never known has emerged.  I knit like crazy, my fingers flying over needle and yarn, pouring out a wedding gift blanket I never knew was in me.  Projects call out like siren songs: diaper covers, washcloth sets, booties.

Lord, where does this come from?  There's a busy, busy toddler who leaves me physically drained but intellectually wanting.  Shouldn't my naptime reprieves be filled with words and ideas and stunningly new thoughts?

Surely when the second one pushes forth into this world, and my hands are even busier, You will bring back the academic side of me and let this physical creative stuff slide...


Or maybe the gentle rhythm of clacking needles, the calm of soft wool against my fingers, is just the solace this busy mama soul needs.  And maybe it's okay to change focus when nothing else works.

And maybe You work even in afghans and baby booties.


Five Minute Friday

I'm linking up to 5 Minute Fridays, a weekly writing prompt shared among all bloggers who participate.  This week's theme is focus.  You can find out all about it here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Love Story (4): School Starts

{Just joining us?  You can find Part 1 here}

He was in St. Paul.  I was in Minneapolis.  Nine miles separated our dorms; no one would call such an arrangement a long-distance relationship...but somedays it felt like it.

The Professor had a bike, and I had a bus pass.  Neither of us had a car.  To visit him, I took the campus bus to St. Paul, hopped a city bus to apartments near his school, then hiked into campus.  When he visited me, he biked four miles and took the campus bus to my side of the river and hiked to my dorm.

We got caught in a storm once when we had decided to meet in the middle: the Professor was biking home in a scene of Indiana Jones meets Twister, with straight-line winds rushing toward him as he peddled madly toward his dorm and safety (the textbooks he had in his backpack were never the same).  The campus bus I was on had to stop and wait half an hour because the driver couldn't see through the rain.

Needless to say, we didn't see each other more than once or twice a week--a devastating blow after falling into a summer habit of near-nightly trips to the grocery store for snacks and movies and long chats into the wee hours.

We spent a lot of time on the phone--hours and hours as we put off homework and talked about our days.  Sometimes I longed to get off the phone and join my friends as they "studied" loudly in the lounge or watched American Idol or played pranks.  I got in on plenty of those things, but sometimes I wanted to do more.

But something held me back.  I knew that I was doing those fun college-y things, even if it wasn't every night.  And I also knew that, while those things were fun and memorable, they weren't as great as I made them out to be in my head.

And I knew that the Professor was my best friend.  And he needed a friend to talk to, to rely on, to listen to him.

The Professor is a homebody by nature; he had never traveled much and was used to spending most of his time with his family or me or a small group of friends.  Dorm life was new, school was intimidating, and friend-making didn't come easily that first semester.*  Most high school relationships would have faltered under the strain of one homesick person and one embracing college life, but I knew that we were different.

Our "dates" weren't filled with trips to Applebee's or dance parties or putting snowmen on other floors of the dorm building, but they were filled with genuine heart-to-hearts, encouragement, exploration of our new surroundings, and a deep companionship that neither of us had ever felt.

And I wouldn't have traded it for any amount of typical college fun.

*Don't worry about the Professor; slow and steady wins the race.  As time went by, he made good friends and fully loved college life...which is funny, since I started out in love with my school experience but eventually grew tired of it--and that's when the Professor was there for me like I got to be there for him.  But that's a different story for another day.

Monday, September 10, 2012

WAR International

As a young mama bear living far from family support, I spend a lot of time with my daughter.  A lot.

Don't get me wrong, Professor Dear is great about letting me out of the house Saturday mornings to grocery shop, write, or just wander the aisles of Target to my heart's content to get away from home life...but I'm still here.  With the kiddo.  A lot.

The one day a year where I fly the coop overnight?  A state ladies' retreat.  This year was my second time going and I fully anticipated fellowship with the wonderful women of my church, roaming the camp, digging through the bookstore, learning from God's Word, and just enjoying myself.

And then the speaker's topic was human trafficking.  And things got heavy.

Don't get me wrong, Becky McDonald is a dynamic speaker who balanced her difficult, painful topic with a great deal of warmth and levity.  But I don't think anyone could walk away from her presentation thinking of herself.

So instead of telling you about the wonderful time I had, I would urge you to take a minute and head over to WAR International's website and learn how grave things are for our sisters around the world--facing forced prostitution, slavery, brutal abuse, and worse--and what we can do to help.

Please.  Please be informed.  Please take the time.  Your sisters need you.

Friday, September 7, 2012

FMF: Graceful

Five Minute Friday

I'm linking up to 5 Minute Fridays, a weekly writing prompt shared among all bloggers who participate.  This week's theme is graceful.  You can find out all about it here.


Street Ballerina
Graceful.  Ballerinas, actresses from days gone by, beautiful people.

Hmm...not me.

Let's flip it around: graceful becomes full of grace, filled with the stuff.  That might hit a little closer to home.  Because I am a mess, a wreck, a wretch just like the song says.  Somedays I do okay, but usually I crawl into bed with a boatload of heavy, exhausted regrets.

I am never enough, can never do enough on my own...but He gives more grace.  Somehow the house gets clean, the Pookster is dressed and even works on her letters and Bible verse most days, and everyone is fed.    He gives grace.

I want to make more progress on knitting or writing or cleaning projects than I realistically have time for...but small bits of progress are made and change is seen.  Because He gives grace.

I want to be better than I am, to lift myself up, to do it on my own.  But then He is there in a gentle whisper: "I give grace."  

And when I yield, then I am strong.  And full of grace...even grace-full.

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