Archive for the ‘correspondence’ Category

This week I have been reading a book.  The book’s title is Your God is Too Safe.  And while I have been thinking much about the content of this book, I have also been appreciating the writing.  In fact, as I read, I have been keeping a vocabulary list of the fantastic words Mark Buchanan, the author, has used.  Sitting at work beside a computer, my left hand reached over to type a word, eyes trying to hold their place on the page. 
After a list 18 inches long, I began to notice that my left hand didn’t often have to stray from its side of the keyboard.  Almost all of the words that attracted me live on the left side of the keyboard with a brush from the right, a single stroke, finishing the details.  I had thought to do an analysis of these words, separating vowels from consonants to see if the patterns are the same – if the sound has something to do with their fascination.  Or maybe I like the words with certain vowels, the rich round o’s and u’s?  But there is absolutely no explanation for being fond of words mostly contained on the left side of my keyboard. 
Go figure. 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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Exchange Blogging

I’m sitting in my living room at almost 2 AM, with one knee up like I’ve wanted it all day. The faucet in the kitchen sink is dripping, and I just triple-sneezed as is my wont. There are things happening tomorrow, but only for a few hours, and after that I can take a nap. That or I can have ice cream. My days usually exclude at least one of those.

I’ve decided what to wear tomorrow, an impossible task for this indecisive day.  So when my alarm sounds, I’ll have no excuses for not jumping into my morning.  It will be a good morning, I know.  Snow is coming, but I’m going to brave it for a party.  And pray it doesn’t interrupt my Sunday plans, either. 

My brother is in the living room still up, too. He is reading my blog, and I am reading his. You would think that two people sitting in the same room could talk about whatever has been interesting enough to blog. And mostly we had, but it is fun to see how we each choose to craft our expressions on the page.

He’s a good man, my brother, a sincere one. His blog might be worth looking at, especially if you are wondering what it is like to wear purple tennis shoes or shop at the grocery stores in the middle of the night. Go to Silence Spoken to read some of his tales and poems.

Then have a good day. Think independently. Live togetherly.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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The scale has tipped. I have suspected for some time, and can now confirm that I have more friends on Facebook who are married than who are single (but legal adults). That does not even count those who are in serious relationships or who are engaged.

And… let me take a deep breath… in this year I have about 18 friends who have had or will soon have babies. 6 months on either side of today, and 18 new little lives! I love babies. My main dilema is only in getting to be around these cuddly kids, as many of them live out of state or about an hour away.

Growing up is strange. I stay young with young friends, playing games, and not cleaning my room as I should. But one can’t help others from growing up, and from feeling that one day soon grown-upness may even creep upon me!

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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Orion is out tonight, aiming his bow at the rising moon. We reunite each fall and winter, Orion and I. He is my companion in the stars, keeping the same hours as I. It’s chilly out tonight. Clear in that cool dry way that Colorado is known for.

I’ve been through a lot since last Orion and I were out together. My life is definitely patterned in seasons. Some years have had their own theme, but usually the lessons are shorter and more diverse. This year was a scattered year, learning things that built in each other but not in obvious ways. A soldier will learn to march and learn to shoot, and both are related in that they come in handy during battles, but they don’t really build on each other.

Last year when I was almost twenty-four I almost went crazy. I couldn’t believe the life I had; my life seemed inevitable, not chosen. And I didn’t know how to be a twenty-four year old in my situation. Never had my dreams imagined me here. Yet I came to the conclusion that I ought to be myself, trusting God, and not worry about what twenty-four year olds are supposed to be. So I have told myself many times these months.

I don’t miss the soul-searching that comes with autumn. It comes around each year, and I don’t regret it. Nor do I look forward to the restless questioning. My soul never seems satisfied in the fall, the season of Thanksgiving. This November opens with a focus on open-handed gratitude. That’s what I call it. Each day’s blessings are cause to rejoice, never a reason to demand more.

I don’t require more blessings, but I have learned to ask. Such was my summer theme: Hope. Do I have confidence in my Heavenly Father’s goodness, enough to discuss with Him what I want and rejoice that in Him all answers, yes and no, are yea? Will I dare holding out my heart to wait on Him? And when I did this year, oh! how the peace came in. Before, I was silly not to ask for His good gifts.

Spring was hard, an exercise in love. Love hopes all things. It holds on and does not abandon. But it speaks the truth and rejoices in it rather than in evil. Love means sacrifice in the sense of a drop everything to help attitude. It is consuming, on your mind all the time. God never promised love would be painless. Though love has to do with community, it often feels lonely.

This year has brought thoughts about truth and calling and compromise. Faith and that not-tame God have kept popping up. I asked myself what I was willing to suffer for Christ, and for the first time truly doubted that I would rejoice to risk life and happiness and all I’ve worked for. Rejection has been on my mind lately. I’m more honest about reality than I used to be: eyes open to the vanity and hopelessness apart from the work of God to grace us.

And now that I’m facing twenty-five in the next several weeks, I must praise my God that I have a life that I run after. The friends I have are ones I choose. My weeks are spent doing things I believe are important, not just floating through an existence. Though twenty-five seems to have come upon me without my consent, the rest of my life is intentional. That is due only to the grace of God. He has helped me through some hard decisions. Some of my waiting and patience has ended, and other parts remain.

By many standards this year has little to show for it. I still have not written a book or started a successful business. No prince charming has swept me off my feet. Like Orion, I’m back and rising over the same horizon. But those who know astronomy realize that relative to the rest of the firmament, Orion’s position has changed. He will move among the stars and planets like he has not done in my lifetime. And a new year is here: the Hunter is chasing life down.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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How to Make a Big Banner

Banners and Signs can be expensive to print. Obviously if you’re interested in a permanent sign, you may want to invest in one of these. Also if your sign needs to have graphics or reflect on the image of a business or organization, the cost can be worth it. But if your message is more important than your image, and your money can be better spent on your mission than on your signs, consider using this technique.

Go to a Wal-mart with a Fabric Center. Other fabric stores will do, but will cost a little more. They have a section where you can buy tablecloth by the roll. Choose a light colored vinyl with felt on the back. This can be bought for about $3 a yard. Good size signs are 2 to 3 yards.

Next go to the Home Improvement Department, and buy painter’s tape. The blue works pretty well on a white background. You can also use black. (Or if you happen to have a black vinyl back, use the off-white painter’s tape.) Do not use anything but painter’s tape.

Plan out your sign, checking your spelling. Use box letters 6-12 inches tall. Try to keep the wording simple. I’ve seen where some people have smaller words and larger phone number or website. Or do it the other way around.

Don’t stress too much about layout, though, because you’re using painter’s tape, which is removable. If you mess up, peel it off and fix your mistake. Test letter size. Stand back and see if your sign is readable at a distance.

When using your sign, hold it up by hand, one person at each end. Or sew the ends into a loop and insert PVC pipes. The felt back makes the banner a little heavier to resist wind and hang properly.

Roll or fold to store if you want to reuse your sign. Or peel off the painter’s tape and store the fabric to use again for a different message.

If you do a good job, from a distance no one knows your sign was made with tape, and when they’re closer they’ve already gotten your point. Use for protests or church organizations. Advertise a garage sale or party. Make a welcome home sign for a special occasion.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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If it has key in the name, I’m bad at it.  Or lock.  I turn it the wrong way.  I turn it back, and it still won’t work.  That righty-tighty and lefty-loosey thing doesn’t work, either.  The key gets stuck, or it won’t go in.  Combination locks are no better.  And just now, as I turned on my computer, I realized that my thumb drive is a bit too much like a key.  I press it against my USB port, and it doesn’t glide in.  So I turn it over (the markings that used to tell me which side is up have washed off – and some USB drives are backwards, anyway).  But this time it doesn’t go in, either.  I push harder, and still no success convinces me to turn it back to the first way and push hard, which tends to work.  Story of my life is not pushing hard enough.  Then I just get up the nerve to push something harder, like a cd that ought to be eaten by the player in a friend’s car, and actually the cd was inserted into the space between the cd player and the dashboard.  Oops! 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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<a><p align=”center”><img alt=”A comb and two toothbrushes on a bathroom windowsill” src=”http://img2.allposters.com/images/PF_New/472008//4534194.jpg” border=”0″ /></p><div align=”center”>
A comb and two toothbrushes on a bathroom windowsill</a>

</div><div align=”left”>There are 17 toothbrushes in the cupboard over my sink. I am not talking about packaged, waiting-to-be-used articles, but open, ready-in-cup toothbrushes. In my house live 7 people. One brother comes around frequently and spends the night, so he would be excused for having a toothbrush present. My parents, however, keep their dental items in the master bath, so they don’t even contribute to the 17 count. One of my sisters keeps her toothbrush in her room in case of inaccessibility. Does she have any in the bathroom cabinet? “Maybe one… an electric one from four years ago” that she never uses… I have two in there, one for regular use and a backup for travel. So that takes care of three, leaving 14 toothbrushes belonging to 3 people. Is it odd that I’m concerned?

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn </div>

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I am exhausted. 
Every year since 3rd grade I have spent the spring preparing for Awana Bible Quiz.  Beginning my freshman year Bible Quiz went national, held with other events over about four days in April.  Leading up to those days, I prepare for them when waking and anticipate them when dreaming.  When that week ends each year, I fly home and sleep for the next thirty hours.  As it is only February when I write, you may have guessed this is not the source of my weariness. 
The past couple weeks I have felt similarly invested in and nervous about the unfolding events at my church.  Unlike the Bible Quiz, where mentors, coaches, and friends showed me how to cope, and exemplified how to pray, this situation has left me much more directionless, confused, and even isolated.  I don’t know what to pray, let alone what to do or say.  Most of the time I pray for wisdom and God has come through guarding my tongue.  My whole life, though, is guarded.  All of my thought must be focused and alert when I am in the middle of these situations.  Emotions must be allowed to flow on, but checked and restrained at the same time. 
As if all this wasn’t difficult enough, the rest of my life – and my friends’ lives – continues.  I still have a job, and books to read.  My friends are still looking for jobs and having surgeries and meeting “princes” and raising children and putting food on the table.  Laundry must still be done.  Birthdays continue to come.  Spring is here, and I am doing the Bible Quiz preparation that has become an annual venture. 
There is no one-week end to such high-intensity living.  Nor am I convinced that sleeping for 30 hours straight would relieve my exhaustion.  Figuring out how to cope transfers into my sleeping hours as well. 
The praise is that God has not left me.  He even prepared me, quietly and gently, for these developments.  At the end of the summer, He said, “Change.”  And looking back I can’t tell whether it was a command or a warning.  He’s been teaching me about love and peace, and before that about Church.  Our Awana group is studying the Will of God, but we are quizzing over Galatians (walk in the spirit vs. walking by clear-cut answers/legalism) and Ephesians (the Spirit’s power in the Church).  The Holy Spirit has come up in conversations and blogs and sermons and lessons a whole lot lately, and I believe God is trying to tell me something there, or help me cope, or prepare me for a new experience in the whole thing.  Sometimes I think He’s just trying to remind me that He’s paying attention. 
Psalms 75:1, “<To the chief Musician, Altaschith, A Psalm or Song of Asaph.> Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.
I have been crying out to God for my church.  In light of all God has brought to mind about His Spirit, I have been asking that our church would be led by the Spirit, would defer to the Spirit, would trust in the Spirit’s more mighty power, and that we would begin, through humility, to experience that power in a way that we refused to allow before. 
This is a challenge to me.  Over the years there have been several times that I thought life might be more pleasant or simple for me if I were to find a new church, but each time God has given me some new motivation (whether conviction or friendliness or strength from other directions) to stay.  Now, like it or not, I am at my church, and at least for the duration of the present situation, I belong here.  The line from Esther replays in my mind: “For such a time as this…” 
Sometimes I think this is like marriage.  Hard times come, and I want to pack my bags and say good-bye to all this trouble – but I won’t.  Love says no.  The argument goes on between the most basic desires and instincts in my heart: love, “stay” want, “go.” love, “no!” want, “yes, please! please?”  Life today is a forge, perhaps, teaching me about commitment and selfless love: proving to me that with God, it is possible to hold on as hard as things may get.  I won’t draw the metaphor too far, however.  No vow has been made on my part to be forever joined to the congregation I attend.  I am constrained only to love others, to serve them as I would any Christian, to demonstrate love and faithfulness and patience.  In the words of Romans, I am pursuing the things which make for peace, and the things by which one may edify another. 
The pursuit of perseverance is always hard, and hardest when the hope is most narrow.  My own attitude wavers between despair, distance, and hope.  The challenge is to put my hope in God, who alone can build us up into one body, one mature representation of the glory and love of our Head and Redeemer.  If He can buy us back from the ugly wages of sin while we were yet rebelling against Him, then He can heal my church. 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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The teams in the Superbowl this year are the Steelers (from Pittsburgh) and Cardinals (from Arizona)… right?  I think that is right.  So I have predictions.  It’s very scientific.  Science is observing patterns.  My hypothesis is that certain factors determine victory: home of the team, culture of that home, name recognition, and age of the leader. 
My example case is the recent presidential election. 
The Winner was a man from the northern city of Chicago, whose culture is fairly urban and industrial.  He got enough media attention to be the candidate of choice, whose name everyone knew.  He is also one of the youngest presidents in US history.
The Runner Up was a man from the state of Arizona, whose culture is independent (known in some circles as ‘maverick’).  Though his was a name that has been in the primaries of presidential races for over a decade, he was the candidate no one expected to be the nominee.  He came from nowhere.  His age was the subject of much discussion, as he would have been among the oldest presidents of the United States. 
Can you miss the correlations between the political field and the Superbowl?  I predict that:
The Winner will be a team from the northern, urban Pittsburgh.  Industrial?  You bet.  They’re called the Steelers.  This team has been around for a long time, regular contenders for the AFC championship and won a Superbowl within the last 5 years.  They are led by a man who is also young in NFL standards, a recent star in the league. 
The Loser will be a team from rough and ready Arizona, this upstart team no one predicted would represent the NFC in the Superbowl for the year.  They flew in, as it were, from nowhere.  Leading this team is the veteran quarterback Kurt Warner, an ancient in the physical sport of professional football. 
My brother says he wants Kurt Warner – a good guy, to be sure – to win tomorrow, but I’m saying the precedent just isn’t there.  He says, “Hope.” 
I find that ironic. 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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My Christmas Eve

…Began at 9 AM, at which point I determined that, even though I had awakened naturally, I had experienced too little and too shallow a sleep.  So I returned to that state for two hours.

Finally really awake, I smelled bread baking upstairs.  (Mom got up at 6:30!) So I checked my email and got started. 

Today I made two skirts, a pink and green one with cream embroidered flowers and an exciting ruffle – and another made from off-white plush blankets, very warm.  I’m delighted, because I’ve been in need of nice warm skirts here in Colorado, let alone if I ever move somewhere more frigid! 

In the middle of all the sewing and pinning and cutting I finally took time to tap out Christmas songs from the hymnal on my piano, one of my favorite holiday habits.  My little sisters sang along. 

On the radio near my sewing machine was Hugh Hewitt interviewing a theologian and historian, who was giving the history of Christmas carols as a Christmas habit.  The man, a Mr. Roberts, also said that Christmas as we know it (a celebration lasting one to two days involving friends, family and charity) was invented by Charles Dickens, who used his writing to advocate the holiday.  In light of the Shadowlands quote from my post earlier this week, that if charity is alone, the magic is removed from Christmas, I wonder if CS Lewis was a fan of Dickens.  Chesterton was; in fact, I prefer his accounts of Charles Dickens’ novels to the books themselves and any movie versions. 

When the skirts were completed, I made chocolate cheesecake filling to try with cinnamon rolls tomorrow.  It’s an interesting thought; I’m curious, so I’m going to try it.  (My version of chocolate cheesecake involves no baking: cream cheese, sugar, cocoa, shortening and cool whip!) 

Afterwards, my family went driving to our favorite Christmas light spots, two in particular.  A man from our church is on his 29th year of filling his yard with lights, electronic decorations, and trains.  As you approach his light-flooded driveway, he offers hot chocolate (very necessary in such weather).  Then  you proceed beneath a lighted archway to the back yard, a train following you on its course around the house.  In the back are dozens of moving elves, Santas, Snoopy’s, Winnie the Pooh, gingerbread men, and even nutcrackers.  By the time you’ve seen everything, you’re freezing, waving and thanking the host hurriedly so you can get back to your heated car. 

The other light spot is a house with its own radio station, playing a series of songs to which the light display has been synchronized.  There is usually Snoopy, Frosty, O  Holy Night, and something patriotic.  This year was a little more techno than usual, so we didn’t stay as long (nothing specifically against techno; we just don’t like it). 

Back home my sisters and I went down to the basement to watch my Christmas Eve traditional movie, Little Women.  “Change will come as surely as the seasons,” Jo says.  So it does. 

The other adventure for the day was my brother, who worked this morning and hit his head, causing a 3 inch gash which he didn’t realize was so serious.  He wiped it with his glove and put his hat back on.  But my mom and dad thought it was more serious than he did, so when he got home hours later, they made him call the doctor.  Doctor said to come in.  He got stitches and is on the thrilling cycle of ice about ten minutes each hour all night long. 

Change happens, but some things stay the same.  That’s what I remember at Christmas.  I’m very excited for Christmas morning.  We trade names for gifts in my family, and our spending limit is smaller this year, but it has worked out so that people are actually getting more presents (though not as big or valuable).  We’ll be around the tree all morning! 

Tonight I read RC Sproul, Jr.’s Kingdom Notes, mentioning Advent once again, and how it is both memory and anticipation.  We celebrate two comings: 2,000 years ago and the return of our Lord.  I’m so glad He’s coming back. 

Merry Christmas!

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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