Home

Homing pigeons, home for the holidays, home sweet home, Home Depot, nursing home, homestead, mobile home, homeless, homeslice, homework, home run, homing device. [bonus points if you think of any good ones I missed.]

Home [hōm]: The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

“A place where something flourishes, is most typically found, or from which it originates.”

(Oxford Dictionary)

I’m loving being home–the first kind, where most of my family lives.  It was a long (but good) semester, and it’s going to be a long (but good) summer traveling on a singing team with my college.  I have three weeks to be at my first home.  Two of them are over–a week from right now, I’ll be gone again.  I’m so grateful for these days–time with precious siblings, talks with Mom and Dad, being at my home church again, baking and washing dishes and ironing and doing homey things.  Being at this home is restorative, relaxing, and enjoyable.  These are the people I belong to and with.

However, even in this time I’ve been home, I’ve been discovering the second kind of home more and more.  The place I flourish.  It, too, is a place of belonging.  A place of restoration.  It involves being with the people–rather, person–whom I belong to.  Same quality time, same deep conversations.  But it’s my portable home.  He’s my portable home.

Home is where I truly belong–my real home, my lasting home, is heaven.  But home is also whom I truly belong with.  Every day I am more and more aware of how much I belong to and with Jesus.  His presence completes my need for belonging; conversation with him restores me.  I love him.

It’s simple logic, really:

Jesus is the one I really belong with.

Where the one I belong with is is home to me.

Jesus is everywhere–he never leaves me.

I have home everywhere. 

So yeah, I’m traveling this summer.  Every night I’ll have a new home.  The bus will be home on the road.  I’ll be away from home–but not really.  The peace and restoration that comes from being home can be mine every day, because Jesus is mine every day.  I can’t wait until he takes me to my true home.  And until then, I’ll love every day of being home with him–wherever that may be.

‘Here’

I’m… 20?  I guess so.

It’s weird how it happened.  One day I was a little girl, and the next, people were telling me that I had grown up.  Very odd.

I think the strangest thing about it is that I knew it was coming.

But I thought I’d be different.

I can remember being 12, 13, and having a distinct image of what I would be when I was older.  Acne: gone.  Responsibility: attained.  Life: planned.  Relationship status: not single.  I would be graceful, grown up, dependable, and on my way to somewhere.  I would have figured out how to manage my unruly locks; how to mow in straight rows; how to be happy and independent and disciplined.

But now, I’m here.  I’m not sure where ‘here’ is, and I’m not sure how I ended up ‘here,’ but I did.  And by ‘here,’ I discover that I’m not ‘there.’  My facial pores haven’t gotten the memo that I’m no longer 13, nor has my frizz acknowledged the authority of any of the numerous styling products I’ve subjected it to.  I’m not half as funny, smart, dependable, or disciplined as I thought I’d be.  My mowing leaves rows so crooked that even an orthodontist would be at a loss–at least last time I mowed, which, admittedly, was a looooong time ago.  On top of all that, I have survived two years of Bible college and am still very single (trust me, there’s a difference between ‘single’ and ‘very single.’  I’m ‘very single’).

Point being, I’m not who I thought I would be.  I’m not ‘there.’

But how did I get ‘here’?  What’s my secret?  I just lived, 1 day at a time, until I reached 365 days.  Then, I repeated that 19 more times.  That’s how I came to 20.   Foolproof plan, right?  And I know that seems pretty obvious, but it took till now for me to realize that.  That there’s not some magical transformation that happens when you switch decades.  It’s just a matter of counting days, living days.  I lived yesterday.  It was like the drop in the measuring cup that finally pushed the water over the 3/4 cup line, but that one day meant nothing apart from all the days preceding it.

So, then, who I am is the culmination of all the days I’ve lived thus far.  Those days are broken up into hours, moments, seconds.  Those hours, moments, and seconds contain circumstances and people that I stumble across (rather, that are granted by God) and my reactions to those circumstances and people.

I, then, am a combination of God’s careful planning and my choices and actions.  That’s what ‘here’ is.  And maybe ‘here’ is not quite what I thought it would be–maybe part of me still longs to be ‘there.’  But ‘here’ is a good place to be.  ‘Here’ is where God brought me; where my choices landed me.  And if there’s still growth that needs to take place, which there is; if I still want to get to ‘there,’ which I do; the only thing that stands between ‘here’ and ‘there’ is time–and me.

Next year, what will I be?  Maybe I will be closer to the elusive ‘there,’ but I will still be ‘here,’ because ‘here’ is where I am.  And, try as I might, I will never escape ‘here,’ who I am–the only solution is to embrace ‘here’ and make it, by daily choices, into what I wanted ‘there’ to be.  To fill that measuring cup full of beautiful drops of choices and days.  That’s the beauty of ‘here.’  Some stranger will not take my place; I get to be me, and to improve me.  So, till next year,

I’ll just be here.

the wasteland of my mind

Dry. Parched. Empty.

I admit, having a job has sapped me of energy, motivation, creative juices.  Some nights I get home and don’t even feel like thinking.

The strange thing is this–I’m trying.  I’m still reading.  Right now it’s Blame it on the Brain? by Ed Welch and Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels, and last Saturday, for fun, “The Courtship of Miles Standish” by Henry Wadsworth Longellow, my favorite poet.  It’s always the perfect binge read, because it’s a short story, so it only has 8 (or 7?) short staves; it’s non-rhyming poetry, so it’s literately beautiful, but flowy rather than purely rhythmic; and it has the perfect amount of plot, romance, and historic background for my sentimental heart.  Anyhow, I digress.

I’m trying.  I’m studying [although not as much as I should…].  Biology–gotta CLEP this thing!–and New Testament Greek.  I have concepts to digest, information to analyze and synthesize, charts and lists and definitions to review.  It’s not necessarily my first pick; my hopes for study this summer was what I like to call ‘the psychology of music,’ or how body, brain, and spirit are involved in responding to and producing music.  Still, I like science, especially biology.  I like pseudopods and autotrophs and different cardiovascular systems.  I enjoy vocabulary and word morphology and verb conjugations.

I’m trying.  I have the most consistent spiritual discipline I’ve had in a long time, as far as Bible reading and memorization and prayer are concerned, and I feel close to God in those times I share with him.

But I’m pouring a cup of water onto the Sahara.

I’m reading the thoughts of others, but unable to generate my own.

I’m adding the information to my mental stew, but like oil and water, every time I try to ‘stir it in,’ to integrate it with what’s already there, it won’t mix.  It floats back to the surface.

I’m drawing near to God, and I have a greater awareness of his presence in my life (which I wrote about in a previous post).  His presence is there, but the spiritual insight isn’t.  The fresh observations in the Scriptures, new discoveries about God’s character, they’re missing somehow.

What’s the cause?  Maybe it’s the physical tiredness.  Maybe the dreary weather.  Maybe because it’s mid-June already, and I’m a little down that my summer at home’s already almost half over.  And let’s be honest, my frequent bursts of inactivity (there’s a nice contradictory statement for you…) probably don’t help my brain’s state, which is currently the mental equivalent of a sloth.

Whatever it is, I’m tired of it.  I want to have a thought again, one that stays.  My showers for the past week have been peppered with tantalizing little birds that quickly flit away.  Somewhere between shampoo and conditioner they leave me.

Whatever this midsummer’s meh is that’s come over my thinking, I’m not sure where it came from or if it’s leaving any time soon.  I don’t know why the thoughts go in and won’t come out. But I know for certain that the stupor won’t leave by me resigning myself to it and giving up.

All I can do is keep reading.  Keep studying.  Keep seeking.  Keep trying.

Because I believe–“Ask, and it will be given to you.  Seek, and you will find.  Knock, and the door will be opened to you,” (Matthew 7:7).  I definitely believe Jesus’ words are a spiritual promise, but I think they’re also a general principle for all of life. It’s one of God’s spiritual principles that he put into physics, too.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  Every thought put in results in a thought put out.  I know this synthesis of Scripture, science, and what I’d like to believe about how my brain operates isn’t perfect–I’m still working on it, but, as I might have mentioned, it’s been pretty dry around here lately.

Maybe you’re in the brain-desert too.  Or maybe you’re in a veritable greenhouse, exotic and lush.  I guess we’ll just keep on.  Keep watering the ground–

eventually something will grow.

Be still

Be still and know that I am God [Psalm 46:10].

Today was not a still day.  Today was insane at times–the very opposite of relaxation, peace, calm.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I got a job at Dairy Queen for the summer, and I’m on my third week of burgers and fries.  Honestly, DQ has restored my faith in fast-food.  No, it’s not the healthiest thing you could eat–neither does it claim to be–but it’s not terrible.  We don’t drop burgers on the floor and still serve them.  We chop our tomatoes and onions fresh every morning (unlike MacDonalds, but that’s another story you probably don’t want to hear…).  Your meal was made fresh–your double cheeseburger hasn’t been sitting on a warmer for an hour.  That would be icky.

Working at DQ has also opened my eyes a little.  Okay, so you don’t get a bachelors degree to go make blizzards, but this isn’t for the fainhearted.  It’s a job that’s high stress–lots to remember, lots of multi-tasking, fast-paced.  There are days like today.  When there are less people scheduled than usual.  When 3 customers come in before I have my station ready to go.  When there are 45 minutes of non-stop orders over lunch.  When the manager and your co-worker argue over the counter for 7 minutes about whether or not the bacon cheese burger is made to the customer’s no-pickle, no-mayo specifications.  7 minutes when there are 3 orders still to be filled for front counter and 5 for drive-thru.

[Whiny whiny whiny.  So Ruth got a job and she’s not used to being a grown up and dealing with life yet.  Yep, I’m not.  Bear with me.]

There are moments when I’m not still.

Today, I was running between the freezer and the fry-fryer (wait… what?), and I paused, mid-moment.  I almost froze mid-air–

Be still.

I was very not still at that moment–of course not still physically, but also not still mentally, spiritually.

Be still.

God, how can I be still?  How can there be any peace and rest in this chaos that is my life right now?

Child, be still.  Just rest.  I know this moment it is hard to slow down and feel my presence, but I’m not asking you to come to me.  Remember, I’m before time and after time.  I created time.  I’m not bound by it any more than I’m bound by gravity, inertia, distance–they’re my creations, not my rulers.  You can’t come where I am, to this timelessness–at least not yet.  Someday.  But for today, you’re in this moment.  You’re busy, rushed, frazzled by the ticking clock, the deadline, the beeper telling you the cheese curds are done.  No, today, I’m not asking you to escape time and be still.  I, the timeless one, am entering your moment and bringing my stillness with me.

I’m inviting you, if you will, to be still.

You’re worried about time–the rest of today, tomorrow, next year.  But closer than that, you’re worried about this moment.  Don’t.

Be still, my soul.  Thy God doth undertake to guide the future [and the present] as he has the past.  Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake.  All now mysterious shall be bright at last.  Be still, my soul.  The winds and waves still know the voice who ruled them while he dwelt below. [“Be still my soul,” stanza 2, by Kathrina von Schlegel, translated by Jane L. Borthwick, inspired by I AM]

The beauty of Jesus’ presence: he is with me every minute, even though he doesn’t even operate in minutes.  He calls me to, every moment, live in his momentlessness–to sense that he is God.

Be still.

Work

Work (wurk)

noun
1. exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.
2. productive or operative activity. 
5. something on which exertion or labor is expended; a task or undertaking. 
7. the result of exertion, labor, or activity; a deed or performance.
[Credits to dictionary.reference.com, and yes, I did just skip 3, 4, and 6. They were typical employment-ish definitions–one aspect of work, but not the one I wanted to talk about. You can look them up if you really want to know.]

It’s effort.  It’s activity.  It’s an undertaking.  It’s results.

Why do we work?  Why do we engage in productive activity?
I had a thought on work the other day.  I was thinking about God’s work in me, and then just God’s work in general.  His work seems to be twofold–creative work (example: creation), and transforming/restoring work (example: ME).  He both made all things, and then when sin destroyed, rather, twisted, his work, he worked (and still does work) to restore it by transforming it to what it should be.
So what about my work, whatever it be?  My daily activities?  What should be the focus of them?  I certainly can’s create from nothing.  I’m not God.  But, with his help, we can all be involved in the works of transforming and restoring–changing the universe one mess, one hungry tummy, one broken cupboard, one broken heart at a time.
It’s kind of a cool–

work has purpose, meaning, and an element of God-likeness.

[And by the way, I know I’m missing something, because Adam and Eve worked in the garden before sin, and I’ve always been under the impression that we’ll work in heaven, after sin.  If you have thoughts to hone and develop my infant theology of work, I’d be very interested to hear them. ]

Space

Space   \ˈspās\

1. A continuous area or expanse that is free, available, or unoccupied.

2. The dimensions of height, depth, and width within which all things exist and move.

[Credit to google–except for the Oxford Commas.  I added those. If you don’t know what the Oxford Comma is, you should.  Read about it at Grammarly.]

Anyhow.  I was driving across Iowa last weekend to visit a friend, and I was just pondering space; distance; dimensions.  It took a long time to drive to my friend’s house, and wouldn’t it be nice if space wasn’t a barrier to our relationship?  Because space (dimensions within which all matter resides) exist, you either have to face separation or a journey.

And here’s why: relationships are based upon communication between two (or more) people.  Communication necessitates being physically with the other person or, if apart, somehow fooling the dimension system via the internet, phone lines, or the good ol’ USPS.  However it works, though, someone or something is bridging the gap between people who cannot be together but wish to be.  Something has to give.  Something has to bridge.  Something has to bring together these two parties which have been separated, in this case, by dimension.

So as I was driving across Iowa, mile after flat, open mile, I wondered: Why did God make space, matter?  After all, He is not matter–He doesn’t take up space.  Just read Psalm 139.  He’s everywhere!  He’s not bound by the laws He bestowed upon His creation.  But why did He create the universe that way–bound and limited by space?

Honestly, I’m still pondering that one, because He said at the end of creation, “It is very good!”  How can distance and separation be good?

Maybe He wanted a physical picture of the spiritual reality.  Just like that wide expanse that has to be spanned–either by me in my car, skype, a phone call, or a letter–for me to reach my friend, something had to reach between me.  And God.

There was a separation, a barrier for our communication.  And no communication, no relationship.  It was a distance that made.  Right from the start, God was holy [set apart–distanced] from sin [anything that doesn’t conform to His law or character].  I sinned.  I broke His law and His heart, and with every act against Him, the infinite distance that already hung between us only grew greater by my running away from Him, just like Adam and Eve ran away and hid from God in the Garden of Eden [you can read their story in Genesis chapter 3, but you should probably start in chapter 1].

There had to be a messenger.  A phone line, a postal worker, an internet connection between us.  Are you kidding me?  I’m running away from Him.  Even if I wanted to get to Him, which I didn’t, I couldn’t cross that infinite gap with my short little legs, because it’s not even a physical distance–it’s a spiritual one.

So God sent a messenger to me.

Jesus.  God’s Son.  He left His infinite world and entered my limited one by becoming a man.  Unlike me, though, He never sinned, so He still had access to God’s realm.  He removed the barrier between us by removing my sin.  Then He came to find me, to catch me on that lifelong sprint I was taking in the opposite direction.  And I think we both know how the trip He took ended.  He found me.

Anyway, that’s one of my ponderings on space, but God already had some, and they’re a lot better–and more concise 😉 — than mine.  I hope you’ll read His and take some time to think about them.

James 4:8 DRAW NEAR to God, and He will DRAW NEAR to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Psalm 103:12  As far as the EAST is from the WEST, so far has He removed His transgressions from us.

Romans 8:38-39  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor HEIGHT, nor DEPTH, nor any other created thing, shall be able to SEPARATE us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 1:23 And they will call Him [Jesus] Immanuel, which is translated, GOD WITH US.