Saturday, November 29, 2008

a musical thanksgiving.

"i am so thankful that my family is a musical family." announces my cousin, abby, as we are gathered around in the living room. my brother has brought along his guitar and we begin the evening with singing any and every song that he knows how to play - from tom petty's free falling to the new soundings of coldplay's viva la vida. we are all seated around in what is usually termed the "untouchable room" due to its fancy decorations and perfect furniture. the newly placed piano in the corner gives us new reason to congretate upon its perfectly pressed couches.

my brother, eric, is the centerpiece of this gathering. seated on the sofa with his guitar, the serene look in his eyes as he strums his guitar gives him the look of a classic rock singer "without the angst." across the room from him sits my uncle bob. as eric plays, uncle bob closes his eyes and is suddently taken captive by the music. in his face, you see him float to another place. you see a part of his soul come alive.

come back with me twenty-five or thirty years prior...

the scene looks familiar. gathered in a shabbier looking living room, the crowd - now quite a bit younger - is gathered around the same center-piece. bob strums passionately, songs of rock or folk like "me and julio" or songs he has written. the family sings along. his younger brother, scott, plays the autoharp from his seat on the floor. their nieces (who are a little younger than scott), tami and cheryl, are harmonizing with their uncles from the couch by the window. brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews gather round to join in. this family has been through their share of pains and joys over the past year, which makes the music all the sweeter. this is what thanksgiving is made of. the joyous sounds of a family's celebration of life and love.

fast forward to thanksgiving 2008. the family has changed. some have passed on and new ones have joined. the next generation now gathers around the guitar. bob reaches for the guitar to teach eric to play, "me and julio," and eric seranades us with the song that he has written. abby runs upstairs to print off lyrics for songs like "hey there deliliah" and "knockin' on heaven's door" - with larger print copies for the older folk.

the evening ends with a six-verse chorus of amazing grace. in five or six part harmony. thanksgiving at its finest: our voices joining together in celebration of what we are most thankful for.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


i didn't want summer to end. during those final warm days in september, i spent every moment outside that i could, hoping to soak up the last bits of summer sun. i wanted to bottle it inside of me in order to keep the blanket-like warmth a part of me all winter long. some things don't last forever. i dreaded the winter. what would i do when i could not lay out on the fresh-cut grass and stare up at the sky, covered by the sun's warm glow? what would become of me as i walked briskly to class in order to outrun the cold frosty blow?

one of the aspects i love about the northeast is that winter never (usually) comes at full force; mother nature slowly warms (rather - cools) us up to winter's stormy blast. (i say usually due to the freak snowstorm we had a couple of weeks ago.) as the warm summer sun slowly faded, autumns cool breezes came and brought about a beautiful, colorful landscape all around us. driving through new england last month, i wanted to capture the magnificance, bottle it, and save it for later. some things don't last forever. yet even in the beauty of autumn, there is an eery feeling of the impending winter. as the leaves fall from their places on the trees, mother nature warns us: "it's coming." the geese fly south. the stores string their christmas lights. we don our winter coats and scarves. winter is coming.

walking around in this winter wonderland of christmas music, peppermint lattes, and decorated trees, my heart feels this sensation of excitement. winter is coming. excitement? excitement for the very season i was dreading three months ago? how can this be? i feel excitement for warm sweaters, for fires in the fireplace, for egg nog, candy canes, family, pumpkin pie, and even snow, yes even for snow. the cold is bitter and yet my heart is filled with joy. the very thing that i dreaded now brings me excitement and hope. and i know that some things don't last forever. the holiday cheer will soon give way to hope for spring and sunshine again. some things don't last forever.

these past few weeks i have found myself dreading the ambiguity of life after college, much like i was dreading winter. "i must soak up all that i can from these last few classes, these last few rays of sunshine, and bottle them up inside of me, i can save it for the dreary days of after graduation," i tell myself. yet some things don't last forever. the Lord proves to teach me a lesson from nature once again: there is joy in the winter. it will not look the same or feel the same. my hot cocoa does not taste like an afternoon on the beach, but it is special and wonderful in its own way, in its own time. i don't know what life after graduation will look like or feel like, but even though bitter winds may blow, i can trust that there will be moments of holiday-like joy.

what does last forever? "the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting," (psalm 103). God's love is from spring to summer, summer to autumn, autumn to winter, and winter to spring. it is His love where i should find my joy as i delight in spring trips to the park, summer days at the beach, autumn drives through new england, and winter evenings by the fire. it is God's love that i need to rest in while i am writing my paper for class, as i am worried about healthcare benefits, and when i walk across the stage on may 16th.

some things don't last forever. but we put our hope in what does.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

our team is SET.

the excitement is building about our bosnia trip and our team has even grown a little bit. we had been praying for a total of at least 8 students, bringing our total to 10 which would get us reduced airfare. we now DO have EIGHT students - two social work majors and six counseling majors. another exciting statistic - four out of the eight are girls that live in my hall! it has been really neat to meet with a couple of them and pray with them. tomorrow another teammate and i are headed to starbucks to get to know each other and work on our support letters.

another blessing - by moving the trip day ONE DAY FORWARD, we were able to knock $500 off of our airfare tickets. get one more day in bosnia and reduce the price by $500? well that's a no-brainer!

pray for:
our team, as we get to know one another.
our trip leaders.
our finances, as we beging to send out support letters.