Monday, November 22, 2010

{ World Traveler }

A few nights ago I was working on a Christmas project, waiting for Mike to come home for dinner. I wasn't in the mood to listen to myself think, so I logged onto Pandora. This is the first song that played, and I was transfixed by his beautiful descriptions of the longings for travel, marriage, and children--those have been my three biggest desires for most of my adult life.

Here are the lyrics, in case you can't {or don't want to} listen:

World Traveler by Andrew Peterson

I grew up in a little town
A southern mix of lost and found
Where most folks seem to stick around
But I could hear the highway song
I'd sit out on the dock till dawn
And dream about the great beyond

(I dreamed that I was)
A world traveler
Set me loose to find my way
Just get me out on the road someday
With my sails unfurled
So many mysteries
I wanted to unravel
If I could travel the world

Soon enough I had my way
I saw the world the Lord has made
Mostly from the interstate
But I had hardly seen a thing
Until I gave a golden ring
To the one who gave her heart to me

(And I became)
A world traveler
That's the day I hit the road
'Cause I walked the hills of the human soul
Of a tender girl
I'm a world traveler

She opened the gate and took my hand
And led me into the mystic land
Where her galaxies swirl
So many mysteries
I never will unravel
I want to travel the world

Take a left at the end of my street
Just a few doors down
Up the hill and into the trees
There's a hole in the ground
Where we traveled the caverns so deep
We wandered the wonders so wide
It was right beneath our feet
All this time, all this time

Tonight I saw the children in their rooms
Little flowers all in bloom
Burning suns and silver moon
And somehow in that starry sky
The image of the Maker lies
Right here beneath my roof tonight

(So hold on tight, I'm a)
World traveler
Pack yours bags and dig down deep
Let's ride the storms and sail the seas
To the distant pole
I'm a world traveler
Into these uncharted lands
To blaze a trail in the vast expanse
Of the heart and soul
In the grace of the God of peace
Let's wade into the battle
Come on, come on with me
And get up in that saddle
There's a million mysteries
I never will unravel
Come on, let's travel the world

I still dream of traveling: Italy, Greece, the British Isles {anywhere in Europe, actually}, South Africa, Israel. I know the reality is that international adventures are not financially possible for us now {along with most other middle-class Americans}, and that since we want to have a large-ish family before we're middle-aged, such travel will probably not be feasible for many years to come, if ever. I sometimes struggle with feeling that I deserve more than my woefully mono-continental life {unless Hawaii counts as another continent!}. Our self-absorbed consumer culture makes me feel antiquated for choosing marriage and family and fiscal responsibility over grandiose vacations. This song really struck me because it speaks to the tension between these desires. It acknowledges that choosing to say "yes" to one opportunity may mean the response to another opportunity must be "no." That's not only ok, it is good and right. While I may not need my passport in the near future, I have chosen to explore the world of a lifetime shared with my husband.

It is still a choice that I find myself facing many times each week. Sometimes it seems like a daily battle with envy. Perusing blogs, receiving Travelzoo's Top 20 Travel Picks each week in my inbox, reading magazines and news articles, all remind me of beautiful, fascinating, faraway places I'd love to explore. I love my husband, I love the life God has given me, and I am so glad that we're able to own a home in this economy.

And yet there's that little tug...don't you want to see the places Jane Austen wrote about? Don't you want to volunteer at an Agathos village in South Africa? Don't you want to vacation in the Greek Isles? Don't you want to visit Cinque Terra and every other lovely spot in Italy? The answer is yes. There's nothing wrong with dreaming of exotic locales or hoping for a trip someday. Sin arises when I feel jealous that others get to travel and I don't, when I give envy, bitterness, and ungratefulness a foothold in my soul.

I never thought this would be such a struggle for me. In spite of my desire to travel, I've only done a little. And I am a homebody at my core who is much happier crafting at home on a Saturday afternoon than getting dressed up and going out. When I was younger, I'd mentally store up adventures for my future: "When I'm married, I'll go to _____" or "When I'm married, I'll do _____." I abhor lonely adventures. I'd almost rather not go somewhere new or do something new if I have to do it alone. So maybe I'm only a world traveler in my dreams.

Now that would be convenient! It fits quite nicely with my life, don't you think?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

{ In the quiet place }

I have a new favorite time of day.

This morning I woke up at 4:20 a.m. No particular reason. I couldn't quite fall back asleep, but I wasn't dead tired either.

Slowly....I become aware of the quiet. The low hum of the refrigerator. Mike's slow, even breaths. And nothing else: No traffic, no neighbors, no airplanes, no wind. It is a stillness I think I can almost see if I tried.

I snuggle into Mike's shoulder. He nuzzles my forehead with his scruffy cheek. Then his arm creeps over me, tucking me closer to him. Knowing what a deep sleeper he is, I marvel: Even when he's sound asleep, he loves me!

It is so perfectly still, so peaceful, I realize that I don't want to fall asleep. I want to savor the weightlessness of this moment. That's what it is: I feel weightless. Completely free of every care, worry, stress, and deadline that punctuate my waking hours. I try to think of something to worry about. I can't. It's luxurious. I try to sleep. I can't. I'm In this enormous quietness.

I imagine that we are sleeping not in a condo, but in a craftsman bungalow, a sweet little cottage. It's in a wide, moonlit meadow. Gentle old trees surround this house. The sky is rich blue velvet spangled with a million diamond-bright stars. A couple of fawns and their mothers have come for a midnight snack in the meadow. I can see it all so clearly and lucidly, it's not dreamlike at all. And I hear Aslan's voice: "Fear not." Gentle, not demanding, it's an invitation, an invitation to join Him in this peace. This calm. This stillness."Fear not."

My eyelids flutter open, wondering if I will really see the Lion in the hallway, breathing out His gentle invitation: "Fear not." I remember last Sunday's sermon. I remember reading The Horse and His Boy. When Shasta is walking up the mountain, alone in the fog, terrified of the thing he can't see that is walking beside him, and when he reaches the crest and the fog lifts, he finds that it is Aslan! Every time I read it, I cry for the beauty of Aslan's gentle protection of the scared young waif. And now He is speaking to me, so gently, so lovingly, in the midst of all this un-quietness, inviting me to let go of my fears.

I snuggle deeper under the covers, pull the duvet over Mike's shoulders. "Fear not." I've been awake--awake? dreaming? what exactly is this?--for almost an hour and a half. The alarm will go off in a few minutes. I want to carry His words with me today: "Fear not."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

{ Thankfuls }

Some of the things I'm thankful for this autumn...
:: homemade enchiladas ::

:: yellow leaves painting the ground ::


:: spiced apple cider simmering on the stove ::

:: the laciness of naked tree branches against the sky ::

:: knitting ::

:: snuggling under blankets with my husband to watch a movie ::


:: feeling cozy in my coat and scarf when it's cold outside ::

:: cute new flats for cheap at Target ::

:: plotting my Christmas gift creations and purchases ::

:: a new worship album from my favorite band at church ::
:: a clean kitchen ::

:: a new Winco minutes from our home ::

:: savoring two holiday issues of Real Simple {I'm behind on my reading!} ::

:: watching The Blind Side two days ago and still feeling a big tug on my heartstrings ::

:: cinnamon-scented pinecones ::

Friday, November 5, 2010

{ the busy season }

how is it the busy season already?

you know what i mean: ornaments and santa clauses in store windows. one of our neighbors already has a poinsettia wreath on their door. thanksgiving is less than three weeks away, and my plans for a leisurely gift-buying-or-making season are rapidly deteriorating. i mean, there's still hope, especially if i get started this weekend, but is it already this time of year?

i'm mulling over last year's holiday season, trying to sift what i want to do again {meaning, things that were Christ-focused and that we both enjoyed} from everything else. i'm so thankful that we don't have to do a lot of extra purchasing again this year: tree, lights, ornaments--all the little christmasy things that you take for granted till you have your own home, and suddenly BAM! all you have in the way of decorations is one lonely pine-scented candle. {speaking of which, i do need another of those.} we both loved doing advent together. i'd be delighted if a trip to wight's every december for a new ornament becomes one of our traditions. and that christmas cookie exchanged i dreamed of hosting last year? maybe it will come to fruition in 2010. on my list of things not to do again: spend days being nauseated--and missing work--because of stress and anxiety. throw up on christmas eve. spend christmas morning alone in bed because i felt icky and i had begged mike to go celebrate with his family, before i eventually joined them.

i'm hoping for a mellow weekend; regular chores interspersed with happy little jaunts away from the routine. tonight mister and i are babysitting the six-month-old daughter of some friends. tomorrow night is a birthday party for one of mister's friends. sunday we're both volunteering at the blood drive mister coordinates at our church four times a year. perhaps hoping for mellow is a bit of a stretch, eh? ;-)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

{ blessed be Your name }

" heart will choose to say, blessed be Your name!"

When dusky purple mountains are jagged outlines against a peach horizon, sunrising greeting me as I drive to work, the choice is easy.
When my husband and I have a heart-to-heart, fears shared, dreams timidly verbalized and met with love, tears and prayer and tickling mixed, the choice is easy.
When I feel "in control" of my life--home spotless, food prepared, to-do list accomplished, the choice is easy.
When a golden carpet of leaves covers the ground, bright as a yellow brick road, I am reminded of the whimsy of my childhood; the choice is easy.
It's hardly even a choice: It becomes almost a habit, when one has known the love of God for a long period of time, to thank and bless and be grateful.
When a marriage crumbles, and I know the pain is too great for words, the choice is hard.
Why should I bless Your name for this?
When dreams are deferred, hopes postponed, more of the same-old-same-old in their place, the choice is hard.
When I feel rejected or forgotten or overworked, the choice is hard.
When the lives of others make me envious, greedy to partake of their joys and ungrateful for my portion and my cup, the choice is hard.
He reminds me: You can choose to bless My name. Just because you have the option, doesn't mean it will be easy.
This season is such a juxtaposition: Intense joy and searing pain. Quiet daily satisfactions and niggling daily discontent and discomfort. And thus I am grateful, Jesus, for Your promise that Your mercies are new every morning. My heart chooses to say: Blessed be Your name!