oh boy. it has been a while, hasn't it? it's not that i've been busy. things have been really slow at the wesley. i've been here every day, but most days i set my alarm for early and snooze for a few hours (not healthy, i know this) because there's nothing to do really during the summer. i get here and sit on facebook for quite a while, then paint things and do art projects, then eat a hot pocket and drink a dr. pepper and/or diet coke, then leave. not too productive. it's dangerous for someone to tell me i get to "create my own schedule." because i'll probably never do anything. so i woke up an hour earlier than usual today and got to work quite a bit earlier than i have been.

speaking of work. i took care of a very difficult and interesting man this weekend. four days in a row, same routine every time. make his bed (no wrinkles allowed), fill his water glass with 5 cubes, go on a 1.5 hour walk (one day was the hottest day of the year, no biggie) outside the nursing home and stop every 2-3 minutes to breathe, crack jokes that he doesn't think are funny, ask him questions that he doesn't really get excited about answering, feel silly, go inside, more cubes in the water, prepare a salad with 8 maraschino cherries and slices of fruit propped vertically against the bowl, put in tv dinner with oven 50 degrees hotter than the box dictates, let cool for 2 minutes, sit at table while he eats in front of the TV with for an hour headphones on, give him medicine during commercials, bring flag inside, close blinds, clean kitchen, leave.

two things about me:
i am not patient. and slow-moving productions irritate me more than almost anything.
i am not good at cooking. even/especially tv dinners.

okay, maybe three things.
i hunger for people to like me/approve of me. to walk in and have an old man tell me i've failed him is extremely alarming and discouraging.

especially because i love old people. and usually, they love me.

this has been refining. God was teaching me. he was teaching me to pray for joy and patience and to pray for this old man's heart to soften and for him to be able to show grace. he was preparing me to maybe one day cook for another man. even a tv dinner. and to clean up after myself and to clean up after someone else and do things the way they like it just because. to serve someone and love someone with nothing in return.

He was teaching me to grow up.

i thought i had it rough walking outside beside an old man who didn't like me when it was 98 degrees. then i remembered the 4-year-old bengalis working in battery recycling factories. and the christians in north korea who are imprisoned because they have Bibles. and the homeless guy right here in lubbock outside walmart who doesn't have a job and is diabetic and doesn't know Jesus and has to beg for food.

someone always has it worse. i am privileged. i deserve to suffer for eternity in hell, but that problem has been solved for me because of Jesus. i'm good. i'm going to Heaven, but not everyone else is.

He was teaching me to find joy in what my flesh declared a "trial." i think it was more of a blessing. i'm seeing this world is bigger than me. after i leave this old man's apartment and drive off to hang out with my friends, he's alone. those walks and tv dinners are his life. i have a whole separate life to invest in. but for him, that's it. i want to bring him joy in it even though i'm getting paid minimum wage and even though i feel like i can't do anything right. i want to show him Jesus.

the other day i got really overwhelmed. i realized this was my life and lubbock, tx isn't vacation for me. i was sick of being around people and burned out from trying to make friends and find people who love me. so i left work early to spend some time by myself and just drove around listening to Jesus music and talking to Him. that night i felt plagued by loneliness- even though i have tons of people here who love me and know me, i felt like there wasn't anyone who really knew my heart. i know I have that in Jesus, but i just long for a group of girls to invest in me and tell me truth and show me more of Him. i went to a park by myself and journaled as the sun set. then i drove around this neighborhood called tech terrace at dusk and looked at all the cute houses. i just was. it was so good. what i needed. the next night i went to a small group and met some awesome girls, which was another answer to prayer.

the other night i woke up to bass shaking my bed from the apartment below me. i waited for like 45 minutes, but it still didn't go away. so i called the police. whoops.


in other news, i think i'm going to read at a poetry reading at sugar browns (a real trendy coffee shop in lbk)in july. texas tech professors will be reading too. so i think it's a pretty legit deal. i always feel so funny reading my poems, but i guess that's the way it goes.

in conclusion,
i am being provided for and thought for by the God of the universe, so i feel pretty good about things.

p.s. i really want a stray cat.


awake, o sleeper

i've been on many adventures lately. i think it's good for me.
a few nights ago, 3 friends and i went to a park after hours to rappel from a bridge. when we were walking, a cop car drove by, and we all had to hide in the brush to avoid getting caught. my legs got cut up real bad. last night, i was with the same people and tried longboarding. i was really afraid of going fast and losing control etc etc, but once i got the hang of it i started getting a little bolder. we went from 15th street to campus, and on the way back, i totally biffed it and tore up my knee. i haven't skinned my knee since i fell off a bike in like second grade. the boys were really helpful. i didn't want to longboard back and was being a big baby but did it anyway. because once you fall off the horse you get back on.

however, i accidentally pushed the longboard into the sewer. fail. then i got a slurpee at the discounted rate of 75 cents in an xmen limited edition collectors' cup to compensate.

[addendum-i feel like i have a habit of twisting stories to make them more exciting. we got the longboard out of the sewer. and by we i mean they.]

needless to say, there are several battle wounds on my legs.

i started my weekend job taking care of old people yesterday. it was so different but so good. i've visited nursing homes for several years, but i've never actually had to do anything but talk to people. now i get to help them eat, get around, go to the bathroom, etc. more of the dirty work. i had to ask Jesus several times to show me how to love like He does. yesterday i was with a 92-year-old woman. i was told she had dementia, which she probably does, but i really think people underestimate the elderly. i saw how active Jesus was in this woman's life. i got to read scripture to her and pray for her and she just closed her eyes and clung to Christ. i saw her feet move to the rhythm of the revival songs she was listening to on the television. i saw her restful heart when she had me sing her ten hymns from a songbook and i saw the joy in her eyes when we talked about Heaven and how excited she was to see Jesus and her husband and have no more pain. she wanted to be free and to have the veil removed from her eyes. she told me she had dreams about Jesus and wasn't afraid to die. i witnessed the grace God was giving her in this.

the man i visited back in minneapolis told me he talked to God every night to let him know he was ready to die whenever it would please God. this stirs up a memory of a really intense time i had of dealing with the reality of death last fall. i had a lot of times when i'd wake up in the middle of the night and feel death really close. not like i was going to die, but i was just reminded of how transient life was and felt a sense of urgency. i don't know if it was from the Lord, but i was reminded of jonathan edwards' resolutions and how he resolved to think of his own death every day. i want to do that. i think it would cause me to live differently. to see things in a more godly perspective. fall semester, i was reading a book called suffering and the sovereignty of god, and one of the sections was about death. the author was saying how God will give us grace to understand and not fear death when the time comes. like a father who gives the train ticket to his child just before he gets on the train, i won't get the grace to die until it's time to die. i don't know if that makes sense, but it helps me to rest in the confidence that Jesus gives me new grace for each situation he ordains for me. i may fear it and not understand it now, but He goes before me and prepares the way. what a comfort.

i wrote a poem about this for my capstone project. about how skewed my view of death is. maybe i already wrote about this, but it's a theme that's woven into my life really tightly: i fear so much that heaven will be a place with no emotion or sensation. i fear numbness. i fear i'll have this veil over my eyes and all my senses that will keep me from feeling things.

i have it so backwards. the veil is on my eyes now. i am numb now. my senses are suppressed now. i cannot experience beauty or experience God or His creation the way He intended because of sin. when I see Jesus, he will remove the veil from my eyes and it's then i will be free. Only in Heaven will I experience all five of my senses in the rich, colorful, focused way God intended them.

Awake, O Sleeper

What’s that time between sunset and night?
No, not twilight— that fading part of day
when light becomes anonymous.

That’s how I dream of eternity.

A dank cellar choking on air
when you throw open the latch,
a procession of skeletons climbing
a ladder to a basilica of shrines and penumbras.

And that’s how winter was: antihistamines glazing my veins
in a hospital triage, and just like that, three days gone.
My balsa bones drift in a crucible river and I am distant,
otherworldly, serious like death.

The world without end I hide from is cadent like suffering—

where saints tie tourniquets, god washes mouths with anesthetic,
mute choirs muffle hymns through mouths of bells.
Rings of old coffee cups on tables without edges
and everyone’s mumbling something about death.

I wake.
Across the street, a wife’s heart says no more
and a husband lets go of her delicate hand.


i do not have it all together.

yesterday i met with the board of the wesley foundation and was so encouraged. i expected to be grilled, but it was more like of these three people encouraging me, counseling me, loving on me, and confirming God's purpose and desire for me here. God is being so faithful to speak to me and provide me with a vision for my ministry here, even if i'm not so faithful in pursuing his voice and his will. we talked about art and its role in ministry and worship. poetry and literature and music and visual arts. it was so good. i've never had a group of believers encourage me so much to integrate my love for Jesus and my ministry with creative writing. i am so prone to compartments.

it's so much easier just to coast along each day and just sleep in and hang out with people and make jokes and talk about music, but those things are so unsatisfying if Christ is not at their center. i see that what i'm doing is keeping Jesus as a compartment of my life. i realized that yesterday at my interview. i hadn't had good, fulfilling time with Jesus in a while, yet it was so easy for me to give Jesus answers and quote bible verses. i can't live life that way! i can't pour out unless my cup is overflowing. otherwise what i give to those i minister to will be crap. it will be from me. and it will fail people. i need rich time with Jesus. i can't operate on fumes, or i'll get burned out. it's so sweet that he's already teaching me how to operate in ministry and i haven't really begun yet. and he's being so good to me and gentle with me in revealing the sin of my heart. i feel like he wants to invade my heart with His light, but i know he won't begin the work he's asking me to let him do on my heart if i don't open it.

i am slowly learning discipline. i really want to look at 1 peter this summer, find a legit small group (i am trying one this thursday with my good friend jenny), and seek discipleship or mentorship.consistency and discipline and are such easy sins- but they're so not fulfilling or satisfying! i realized this a little last semester. i spent so much time just being lazy and avoiding studying, but i really felt better and more refreshed when i was productive and faithful.

there's another big facet of ministry i'd really like God to refine me in. i'm going to be with college students all the time, some of them older than me and most of them close to my age. it will be a really big fight for me to be the aroma of Christ to people when my flesh just wants their approval. it's fun to be clever and witty and outgoing and such, but often those things don't reap eternal fruit for me. God's teaching me how to be productive and edifying and how to build others up in big group situations. my friend jenny, who goes to church with me and is around the people i hang out with quite a bit, has been so helpful to me in this. i've had such sweet time with her. i've seen that building up and encouraging is not my default. my default is micromanaging my image. and it is not my default, i am seeing, to be loving and tender and gentle. the other day i met some people and was a little nervous around them for some reason. instead of shutting up and being a normal person when i met them, i defaulted to making sarcastic and rude remarks. i had to be honest with these people and ask their forgiveness and tell them that i want to love more like Jesus but my flesh seeks approval in backwards ways most of the time. i'm not sure if it's a defense mechanism or where it comes from, but i know it's a sin that Jesus is slowly grafting out of my life.

in other news,
10/11 days i've been here have been mostly sunny.
i found another coffee shop i like, j and b. it's a lot closer than sugar browns, and the iced soy chai is exactly the same, only cheaper :) and there seem to be more college students here.
gas is cheap here and i've learned that the cost of living in lubbock is cheaper than anywhere else in texas and the job market is legit too. and the people here are so kind and wonderful, which outweighs the absence of green and hills and water. i think what i'm trying to get at is i like it here.
i don't think i can have caffeine anymore ever. i have been drinking a lot of tea and diet coke (and by a lot i mean one every afternoon), and by mid evening i have this horrible nervousness welling up in my chest. i don't like it.
let me emphasize that there are so many stray animals here. dogs and cats. there's one neighborhood with several cats outside almost every house. i may have already mentioned this but my roommate kat and i were taking photos in this field outside an apartment complex and i found a girls' northface by a dumpster. so i took it and washed it. judge me all you want.
almost got caught by the cops last night at a park that was closed. so we had to hide in the brush and now i have terrible wounds on my legs (if terrible wounds meant big scratches i'd be telling the truth)
my roommate rachel is in africa so i get to borrow all her clothes. if i ever get bored with mine i just go in her closet and pick 5 things and move them to my own closet. my roommates are very good about sharing. it's nice.
jenny eats all organic food and no fast food or soda and says it makes her feel better. i might try that. starting with fast food. rip, sonic mozerella sticks.
i had a very nice waiter at ihop who gave us free iced coffee (of which i didn't partake, of course) and a free refill of chocolate milk etc etc even when refills aren't free. i don't know if he was just really nice or wanted a big tip. i feel like those are schemes i would pull if i were a waiter in need of some extra bones.
and my lifelong best friend (i forgot to tell anyone that i had one!) since third grade named haley lives in austin. she's the only friend i still have from grade school. and she's going to come visit me in lubbock in june. i am very excited.

i'm going to go write a letter asking people for money now.


post script

it is very hard for me not to be edgy and clever and vague in my posts, just fyi. talking about my day is not as satisfying as excerpts of poetry and song lyrics and syntactically pleasing sentences, etc etc etc.


lub a dub dub

lubbock is much flatter and run down than i could have ever expected. there is nothing green. and it's hot. but the sky is huge and blue and the sun is always out. and i hear the sunsets and stars are something to boast about.

my apartment is wonderful, though a million times messier than my room back at school (didn't think that could even happen). there's a pool and a hottub and my room is really great. i had to be really creative with decorating, but i like it. having my own space is really refreshing to me.

graduation wasn't anything momentous (one highlight- al ottley shaking my hand and telling me he still had snickers for me in his office). it was so much fun to have my roommate/new bff kat fly up to minneapolis. i'm glad she got to see my world and meet my closest friends. my graduation party was such a good means of closure. i had my best friends make me mix cd's and i listened to all 12 of them on the way down. the drive was long, but we stopped in desmoines and stayed overnight at my friend elyse's house. the states got progressively uglier as we drove south.

i feel like i'm going to collapse without structure, so i need to find some soon. i'm really excited to start going to new churches. a part of me wants to go to two services per sunday for a week or two just to truncate the search process. nevertheless, i'm so excited to get plugged into a church community.

i'm being constantly reminded of God's faithfulness and provision in all of these things.

i am being blessed.

in conclusion,
my roommates are sweet and fun and helpful,
i found a great coffee shop called sugar brown's with good music, amazing iced soy chai that i wish would never end. art, and people who like poetry. i'm already making a little creative writing network, which excites me,
i'm coming up with hilarious nicknames for everyone (e.g. bifidus gregularis, bendonesia)
there is little diversity here. i really want to find some,
i made my walls look beautiful- i hung a big square scarf on the wall with pushpins (YES!!! i can nail things in my wall now) and put pictures on it with tack like a beautiful, whimsical make-do bulletin board. i got a huge antique world map and a bookshelf. )i'm going to post some photos on facebook.)
i came home to my apartment to two boys who helped me move my things in and made kat and me a delicious taco dinner,
the heat is really dry so it doesn't actually feel that hot. i'm just happy i can breathe outside,
there are brick streets,
in july (buzzkill?) i'm moving into a pretty old house with wood floors, a fireplace, vaulted ceilings, and the most beautiful kitchen i've ever seen in july,

all the people i've met have made me feel really loved and tell me that i'll find beauty in lubbock in time.

i'll wait.

i have to keep reminding myself this is not a vacation.




December twenty-second
was a moth-eaten almanac of highways.
No one could tell interstate vein from artery,
but there was a steady motion,
a rhythm toward something.
That day we were swaying to madness.

Exit 169.
A man unfolds his prayer rug in a rest stop
and postures his soul toward Mecca.
Above him, a daughter begs
a paper Wisconsin for a way home.
(But where was home then?)
Her mother throats, “Why don’t you love me?”

Pleading never gets you anywhere.

I want to log and unfold
and dress up my days like maps,
iron out each to one dimension,
lay it prostrate, smooth its wrinkles
and press my fingers to its pulse.

Draw valleys up
and pull mountains from their roots.
Relocate and rephrase.
Refold and enter.