[crumbs of truth] The Opposite of Mourners • Ten / Forty • Growing in Faith, Falling in Love, and Other Strange Maybe-Decisions

The Opposite of Mourners

  • Rejoicing voices rose through my bedroom floor, so I couldn’t drift to sleep. What a glorious insomnia. I watched Jimmy Fallon on my phone until the voices slipped away. One of the celebrators had handed me a chocolates flavored peppermint in cellophane, and it is lying somewhere here in my bedroom. What I wouldn’t give to keep this crowd, and live in this occasion forever. My patchwork heart nags me to remember a Groom arrives.

Ten / Forty

  • You are in my window, and I’m at my wit’s end, thank God, in reaching you. I wish I could see you, the all of yous, some who seem closer then my elbows, and others more remote than even my imagination. No, I know I have no excuse, and shame Him with every one of the 1300 for whom I justify away my silence, my absence, just like I let the Jerusalmites and Samaritans slip through my fingers like pistachio shells. And yet I hear God is reaching yous. I will never consider marrying from across the road of the Good Samaritan’s wounded man again, no matter the sparkle of his priestly sash

Growing in Faith, Falling in Love, and Other Strange Maybe-Decisions

  • I almost forgot joy, or at least to wonder if this pleasure is it. I’m nearly always convinced.What I don’t know is like wet shorts. I want so much to find a secret garden here or there, but not if it has a secret monster.

I’m really hungry and I’m really tired. God is good. Thanks, ladies.

and now a word from our Father…

John 2:23-25

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. 24 But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, 25 and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.

<http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%202:23-25&version=NASB&gt;

This passage puzzles and intrigues me. Mainly because of the word in bold above:  “entrusting.” I see that Jesus is doing signs. I see that people are believing in His name (If I understand correctly:  name= authority, status as Son of God; believed= trusted, depended on for rescue), and I understand that Jesus has His ways, because He is different than us. He knows exactly what we’re made of (He made us) and what’s in us (He can see into us).

What I don’t understand is what Jesus was not doing, “entrusting Himself to them,” and what that means for His character. When I looked up “entrust” in my Strong’s NASB Exhaustive Concordance, I found a word in the Hebrew side that was, no joke, “meh,” and meant almost nothing.

And as I was writing that paragraph, that’s when I realized… the Book of John wasn’t written in Hebrew ^_^;

But now that I’ve read the Greek translation–“entrust,” “believe,”– it still doesn’t resolve it for me. This will be a fun passage to mull over today.

 

Scrape the Rust, Oil the Joints

There is some bad poetry on this blog. There’s some decent writing. This is a legitimate time capsule of Jaclyn, sampling a limited selection of moods and phases.

I wish I’d kept better track of this metamorphosis. My intent is to return to my early ways of consistent written disclosure, especially about myself. You could call it narcissism. Since I don’t have a chubby, dribbling baby to photograph and swoon over, why not reminisce over my own awkward (and far less cute) spiritual, emotional, professional, artistic, cosmetological growth? (gosh, do I like words)

But, for both our sakes, I hope this isn’t narcissism. I hope what I do here is actually the opposite.

I want to write like I did in high school.

When I “got an idea” as a teenager, I didn’t as much “get” it, as the idea GOT me. It possessed me, descended on me like a dove. Its silky, shimmering image–of the idea, you see–would move and grow. Not just in my mind, but in my every sense. It was as if worlds grew from seeds, and something I’d eaten of this world had contained a world-starting seed, a tiny embryo that was sprouting and unfurling inside me.

It probably sounds pretty weird if you haven’t had this kind of experience. Don’t worry– it’s about to get weirder.

See, once the seed of a new, imagined world starts to grow, it needs a bigger and bigger place to live. The space inside one little human isn’t enough. The baby world seedling needed transplanting. For me, the next viable plot was my laptop. Ahh, my high school laptop. In the early 2000’s, mine was sidewalk gray, and about three inches thick. It was awesome, this tool I used to lay down fresh, green thoughts.

Here’s the Twilight Zone part, unless you can relate. As I typed, I never really knew what my story was going to be about. I might have a character or two, and a setting, but that was about it. Writing revealed to me the story. It never felt like I was “creating” or “crafting” anything, like we always say we’re doing as English undergrads or highfalutin bloggers.

Writing became like reading for me. I had been a voracious reader growing up, and could never seem to find books long enough (until I picked up Atlas Shrugged), and I especially loved stories that surprised me (though I still have an affinity for Animorphs and Garfield comics). To write was like reading the most suspenseful, unpredictable story. There were no book summaries to give everything away, or paragraphs further down the page to woo my eyes and spoil the next turn before I’d finished Jo March’s monologue. And best of all, the story could stretch on forever.

I marvel at how unknowingly close to such a great Truth I was so long ago. If only I had remembered. It would’ve saved me such angst and anxiety as I scrabbled for an existence of my own. I fought, and tried, pretended, and strove. I cried when I should’ve laughed, and laughed when I should’ve cringed.

The Truth is, stories are Given. Even my Very Bad Stories, the Andalite fanfiction and A:tLA roleplays, they came on me in the purity of inspiration. It’s not the stories’ fault my mortal kiddie hands muddied them up.

Yes, writing is work, and takes disciplined practice to get good. I’m not at all implying that creativity can only be achieved by “creatives” with muses whispering in their ears. What I do mean, however, is that there is a Voice whispering in the ears of all of us. I mean that we are not so much creators, as creations.

And creations do what they were created to do, using the stuff they are given.

Hence my effortless, one-dimensional stories. There are others that were better that I’d say experienced this process, but the hour is already altogether too late, and it’s this creation’s time for sleeping.

 

In my next post I’ll talk about spaghetti machines, and bring this post full circle by explaining why I wish you had a more full-bodied written account of my awkwardly insectlike metamorphosis.

Thanks for reading. Noodle-loo!

The Mystery Verdant

that night the jury rolled back in,

our courtroom was dull, like a tin

 

can after rains. faces were condensed.

words bolted through, and flashed–

then the rumble all around.

we sat

still, no shelter. storms keep coming.

they’re always coming, never going.

did you feel a drop? did you feel it

sprinkle? i wondered quietly:

 

are rainbows ever tired, and do they

stretch out down here,   in the gray?

homemade gods, v. 2.0

I wrote a version of this fable about four years ago. My dear friend, Jules, left an encouraging word on this very blog about it being even stronger than my undergraduate work. In my estimation, “homemade gods” v.1.0 was a good start, but in comparison to the under-girding thoughts, the piece was underdeveloped and showing seams, kind of like trying to pull a newborn’s outfit onto a toddler’s body. So I always kept “homemade gods” in the back of my head (with a lot of other things, I might add…) meaning to revise and expand her at least once more.

Well, here she is. What do you think, Jules?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Now they continue to sin by making silver idols,
    images shaped skillfully with human hands…”  (Hosea 13:2, NLT)

I’m never satisfied. So I have to make a lot of gods.

Imagine, just to illustrate, that I’m a shredded wheat farmer—

One day, I’m dying of hunger. There’s no rain to break the ground and bring me more of my shredded wheat. Shredded wheat goes so well with the frosting from the family down the road, but I wouldn’t dare go down there to ask for anything. So I pray for rain; I’m a farmer. A farmer has to have rain to survive. Rain or starve, right? My faith is so solid, I dance a rain-jig in my fields with TWO umbrellas. I won’t rest until God is thoroughly impressed. Then the rain comes and I’m happy.

Another day, the rains fall and fall. Every little dip in the earth brims with water and sludge. Rivers tear through MY impeccably tilled rows of baby wheats, and I’m in danger of running out of cereal again. I hate rain! Bring on the sun, I demand, or I’m ruined! I daydream of deserts, run the heater and the hairdryer nonstop, and tell jokes with lots of dry humor. Any little bit helps. Then the sun breaks through and I’m happy.

That afternoon, after napping on the porch, I get a sunburn. I cry and cry. It gave me a lobster face! So I curse at the sun, pray that rain stays away (raindrops sting a fresh burn!) and urge the earth to grow me some aloe by six. See, I have a meeting with a friend from the frosting farm, and I need to impress. To make matters worse, the aloe plants turn out to be as typically unreliable as all the silly, growing things on my farm. So I ditch the healing idea and praise the power of makeup for bringing me tinted moisturizer. Appealing to the ice maker, faithful as he could’ve been in churning out a cold compress, slips my mind as I’m getting ready to leave. Once at the frosting farm, my friend compliments my taste in umbrellas and I’m happy.

Then I turn my gaze, after the meeting in the coolness of twilight as I walk back home, up ahead to the fields I call mine. And although I know shredded wheat is a full-sun perennial, I can see in this falling darkness that fat, wholesome clusters of shredded wheat buds are blossoming into golden, rectangular biscuits. Though I’d tilled and sown, weeded and watered, none of my cajoling had ever brought the growth. Not when I’d ordered God, or found some way to work without Him, had I ever achieved a single sprout. So I slipped into my bed weeping and thanking Him. Despite all my complaints and my busy scheme-crafting, I never, ever starved.

“What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it,
Or an image, a teacher of falsehood?
For its maker trusts in his own handiwork
When he fashions speechless idols.

Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’
To a mute stone, ‘Arise!’
And that is your teacher?
Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
And there is no breath at all inside it.

But the Lord is in His holy temple.
Let all the earth be silent before Him.” (Habakkuk 2:18-20, NASB)

Father, you’re nothing like an idol. An idol is just a powerless lump of carved wood, a dead thing I have manipulated and tried to make my friend. I can’t possibly hold You in my hand and move you around like a doll. You hold me, as a branch that you feed with Your own life. You are the Vine, truly and fully alive. I will till quietly, and watch you grow my life up within and all around me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NASB)

Landwhale Rescue — revision 1

Not satisfied with the lineation, but this is just the 1st revision from my initial notes, jotted on the back inside cover of my now latest used-up journal.

How I’m feeling these days…  Since it’s fairly nebulous at this stage, I offer the following epigrams to hopefully shed light while we wait for the workshop dust to settle, and the lines I sand to smooth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Landwhale Rescue

“I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.”
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

―Jesus Christ, Luke 12:5-7

 

I’m a whale with two crossed

spoons, and OH, I just

realized I’m a whale.

 

My airhole is burning, I’ve

never been so hungry– and,

baby, I’m a whale: I’ve been

 

starving my whole life–

with these dirty pebbles, splintered

twigs digging in my skin.

 

You say

I look gray. If the

encyclopedia is right, I

 

should be blue and

covered in pounds of

barnacles, not this

 

rocky, spiney scabbing.

How does a gray whale

get back into the sea?

 

Lifted, I reckon,

by the finpits,

tossed not like

 

a bad catch of mackerel,

but with all the tender

sleekness of a carnival

 

goldfish in

a $20

fishbowl.

 

A picture of [dependence]

Since I began teaching, Sunday afternoons and evenings have become my food prep days.

The shopping game is so satisfying– plotting my daily menu, then fighting to drive my weekly grocery total lower and lower. This week was successful– forty cents beneath my lowest record, and an all-new all-real-food menu.

But even more satisfying than the shopping is the actual putting-together of the foodstuffs.

I love ripping open a new bag of frozen chicken breasts and mixing up the veggies and spices for the slow-cooker. Even now, the lemony-Tuscan-y fragrance is filling the kitchen and dining room. Before I go to bed I’ll tuck in the frozen boccoli to its new, soupy home. There are Pinterest-inspired whole wheat banana-raisin muffins sprinkled with sugar, and individual omelettes infused with Valentina hot sauce. On the stove is a now 2/3-full pot of fresh, fluffy rice which I’ve already begun to nibble at, sprinkled with salt, or with some soy sauce, or just steaming and pure.

On top of all this extravagance, richness unheard of to the huge groups of people who are living on less than $2 a day around the world, I also enjoy a scandalous, gloriously impossible gift:  Jesus saved me, adopted me into God’s family and kingdom, and continues to save me. There’s so much to be excited for and explain that I can’t possibly put it all into words tonight… but I’m excited to try for the rest of my life.

Here’s a first attempt… perhaps I can knock at 1,000 words at least with this image and its linked sermon:

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/why-we-all-need-the-gospel

dependence.psalm37.5

“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you” (Psalm 37:5).
Francis Chan @ Bethlehem Baptist 2011
http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/why-we-all-need-the-gospel