"dream great dreams and find the courage to live them"

-erwin mcmanus

Monday, January 31, 2011

precious moments.

I had a grand finale weekend with the girls who I have spent the last year and a half caring for.  It would be the last weekend of caring for them for a long time, possibly ever.  With each one I was given a precious moment.  Moments so much more precious than the ones depicted in the over-produced porcelain figurines by the same name.

With Victoria, it was after her much-needed nap, when she wasn't quite ready to get up yet.  She cuddles into my lap in the rocking chair.  I feel her breathing get heavier, slower, as her eyes close again, then open.  Her little body resting on mine.  That half hour, whispering to one another between short bouts of her sleep and mine, is one I hold dear.

Before she started kindergarten, Katherine would come downstairs after rest time, leap into my lap on the kitchen stool, and beg to help me with the crossword puzzle in the RedEye that I so faithfully completed.  This weekend, we shared that time again.  She, guessing crazy words for the simplest clues, and I, trying my best to guide her to the correct answer, were able to mostly complete yet another crossword puzzle.  Halfway through, Katherine snatches the pen from the counter and scrawls across the newspaper page, in her kindergarten all-caps handwriting:  "I LUVE ERIN," then tosses the pen down and skips to the bathroom.  Sometimes I feel so undeserving of this love - the kind that kisses me goodnight even after I've lost my patience.  Sigh.  The love of a child is priceless.

Audrey is a troubled soul.  Artistic, abstract, and wonderful, she is often hard to figure out.  She keeps quiet and her thoughts are only hers.  Walking home from art class one afternoon in September, she just stops walking, looks around, and sits down, leaning on a tree trunk.  I smile, take a seat next to her, and ask "whatcha doin?"  Her reply came several silent minutes later:  "Just thinking," she says as she pushes herself back up and starts running toward home.  This weekend, she let me into her little mind for even just a moment as she told me about her paintings - why she chose the colors she did, how she was feeling when she painted them, and what they meant.  If a glimpse is all I get, I'll take it.

These girls will forever and always have my heart.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


The past few days have been wonderful.  I had dinner with my roomies at our regular spot, Dunlay's on the Square.  I found a great new coffeeshop called the Safari Cup.  I spent a night with dear friends.  I had wonderful, rich, expensive hot chocolate from Hot Chocolate with a camp friend who shares my love for the Packers.

The greatest part has been the great freedom I've felt.  Last night when I got a call from Andrea asking if I would come hang out and spend the night, I had nothing to say but, "Sure, why not?"  I had absolutely nothing stopping me.  No obligations, nothing going on in the morning... nothing.  It felt good to wake up and have a leisurely shower and pancake breakfast and then go out for coffee with Andrea too.  What a wonderful way to start the day!

As I begin the packing process, I have decided that this will be the most organized packing/loading/unloading/sorting/unpacking experience I have ever had.  I decide it, so I will MAKE it happen, have no doubt!  A chart with each box I need to pack including type (box/bag/bin), contents, packing order, and destination has been my guide, and will be the bible of my move.  That is, until the time crunch inevitably crushes my dreams and all the planning gets thrown in the trash.  Oh well.

I look forward to February - a month of coffee dates, time with friends, redecorating the bedroom with my mom, reading and repacking; preparing myself for the move, a very programmed schedule for the next year, and just enjoying this time.

Here's to my chart and its effective implementation :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Life is full of rules.  Some written, some silently understood and followed.  Some are specifically Christian moral rules/values, while some are merely cultural.

It seems my life has been a rotating list of them.  Dos and Don'ts that rival the precision of those in Leviticus.

The past year I have had freedom from the rules that I was under at my parent's house, the rules I agreed to for my summers on staff at camp, still more rules for my internship, and the real killer - those I signed myself away to follow during undergrad.

No watching movies on campus.
No dancing.
No drinking.
No burning candles.  Not even on candle warmers.
No comedy clubs.

All of these prohibited me from doing something that would otherwise be perfectly acceptable by society and by God's law, too.

Yes, rules are there for a reason.  Yes, most of the reasons for these prohibitions were logical and understandable.  But, let me tell you, it feels good to light a candle, pop in a movie, and drink a glass of wine!  This past year I have enjoyed these freedoms quite frequently.

Starting in March, however, I will be back under stricter guidelines as a means to learn more and interact better with the teens.  All good reasons, don't get me wrong, but rules nonetheless.  I suppose life will always give us lists of dos and don'ts, won't it?
 Lord, help us to submit to these earthly authorities as we do to yours.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Superbowl XLV, here we come!

I come from a place where people proudly wear foam cheese on their heads, sometimes flipping it over to create a chip bowl complete with three cup holders for their beer cans.  This small place is the one where churches change their service times on game days.  The city where dozens of street names, hotels, and restaurants are named after the best players and coaches in our history.  A place where 112,000 people literally own stock in the football team and where an increase in sales tax paid for a new stadium.  In this stadium, thousands of people congregate wearing nothing but boxers and body paint in the dead of winter, while the remaining tens of thousands bundle up and weather the cold, wondering why they all have pneumonia the next day.

This may seem strange to some.  But to me?  It's home.

Welcome to Green Bay Packers territory.
And welcome to Superbowl XLV, baby!

Friday, January 21, 2011

it's cold.

It's cold today.  Really cold.
Days like this make me want to curl up and go back to bed.  Fortunately, not working until 2pm gives me plenty of freedom to do just that.

Until I'm not sleepy anymore.  Only then do I realize how little I have left to do at home today, because I have several errands to run.  But the bitter cold is no invitation for running errands.

So I find myself here on the couch under my NWC sweatshirt blanket (the BEST kind, hands down) watching last night's Thursday NBC lineup.

Sigh.  Will spring ever come?

Saturday, January 15, 2011


The next book on my reading list- Madman by Tracy Groot
This morning, after delicious cinnamon rolls and coffee, I had a conversation with Mariah and Lacy about literature.  The intellectual kind, where we talk of the depravity of man grotesquely illustrated through the stories of Frankenstein and Dracula.  About the mundane as depicted by Ernest Hemingway (rather drudgingly, as I discovered this week trying to read The Sun Also Rises and subsequently putting it down after 75 pages).

Discussions such as these engage the mind in a way that most others don't.  It causes one to relate the path of humanity to that of someone's creative genius, all in reference to God's grace and His overarching role in all aspects of our lives.

Literature is just so beautiful, so relevant to everyday life, that it will always have a place in my life.  Apparently book clubs are in my future, though decidedly not an Oprah's book club or a Christian self-help book club, but a real one in which we read real meaningful, well-written literature, not just the latest best-seller.

One ending thought - One of my meaningless, yet important to me, goals in life is to have a study or library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.  Someday :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

crossing off that list.

The brilliant Albert Einstein once said:
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results."

For me, this means staying up really late watching clips on hulu, perhaps some episodes of the latest released tv shows on netflix, or possibly even playing Tetris Battle on Facebook, then waking up late the next morning, feeling like I have wasted the day, as there are only a few hours left before I have to go to work.

So why do I stay up late?  Perhaps I could blame YouTube, thus blaming the internet, ultimately blaming Al Gore and the liberal left.  Or I could take real responsibility and say that I lack self-discipline.

Confession complete.
Solution?  Well, if I go to bed at 11 every night, then I will wake up refreshed at a decent hour.  Simple solution, or so it seems.  Because after a few days of devotion to this routine, I will inevitably take my computer into my bedroom at night and the cycle repeats.  Insanity?  Unfortunately.

Since my stay in Chicago will end three weeks earlier than I had expected, I have a lot of catch-up to do on my list of things to do before I leave.

Scheduled to be accomplished?  Second City.  Blue Man Group.  The Chinese place a few blocks away.
Free admission to the Chicago History Museum on Mondays.
Free week at the Shedd Aquarium next week.
Free admission to the Adler Planetarium the following week.
Three more Waterhouse nights with the girls.
Several coffee shops for a new morning reading routine.

The list of things I still-want-to-do-but-haven't-the-time continues.  But someday?  Oh, someday.  I WILL do them all!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Why do I not trust that God will work everything out?
He provides in ways better than I would ever hope.

Somehow, knowing that He is faithful is different that believing that He is faithful.
Lord, help my unbelief.

Friday, January 7, 2011

difficult, but hopeful.

Full of hard changes, this has been a difficult, but hopeful, week.

It seems things are going to transition much more quickly than I had anticipated with my housing and my job, leaving me with two, possibly three, weeks in February of hardly any work, no roommates, and no internet (which always seems to be a fallback).  As I think about that time, it makes me want to cry.  I don't have many real friends left in the city, as many were students and in periods of transition (as was/am I), so have moved on.  And I won't have many, if any at all, commitments during that time.

While I mourn the loss of everything I have grown accustomed to, it leaves me hopeful for what I can do with all of that time:
I hope to shrink my reading list.
The list of museums I'd like to visit will get checked off
I hope to frequent the 8th floor of the Harold Washington Library where there are piano practice rooms available.
A whole lot of time alone to reflect on the end of a season of my life.
Perhaps visits to friends who live near Chicago?

Nevertheless, I look at my lovely, soon to be mostly empty, apartment and I have to convince myself that this list will make it an enjoyable time.  I have confidence that God will use it to prepare me for the next stage.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year, New Adventures

In their song "Closing Time", Green Day says it perfectly:
"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end"

We always look forward to things.  In elementary school, I longed for the day that I would step foot in the middle school as a student.  As a middle schooler, I couldn't wait to get out of the pre-pubescent hell-hole and escape into high school.  In high school, every day was a day closer to graduation, when I would drive head-on into life at camp.  Even the time at camp was in preparation for college, which led into what I thought was "real life."

The beginnings and ends of things are so pronounced, the waiting so exciting, that I often forget the inbetween, the mundane - the time when we actually have the opportunity to enjoy things, experience things, live.

While 2011 will certainly include another transition, another move, more new people in a new city, I hope to truly enjoy my time there instead of anticipating what's next.

This is my challenge:  Find something to enjoy about every day - use excitement for the future to enjoy life now.  Each day is a beautiful gift from the Lord; let us not forget we are given life in abundance.