Wednesday, May 23, 2007

a room with a view

for some reason this summer, i feel so tightly wound. there are other moments, of course. last week with seymour, sitting at that table on a perfect afternoon up in winder, talking about God and both of us enjoying having no papers due :), but those other moments... i spoke earlier of transition. that's what it is. there's more to it than i have words for right now, and it's all good stuff, but it's why i'm making myself write. here and in my real journal (the real kind with pens and leather and no batteries and can be used in coffee shops).

that feeling of being so, so tightly wound can get overwhelming sometimes-- and then i am reminded of the goodness of God. a wonderful husband and home, amazing family and good friends --these are like a balm over the stress... and then i look up from my desk and this is the view from where i sit....


Monday, May 21, 2007

newest one...

my sister-in-law had a baby today. she is, of course, stunning (both baby and mother-- my sister-in-law seemed transformed...and looked about 17 years old... unreal). and it was one of the single most profound experiences of my life, holding this newest member of our world.

as don held her, we started talking about the fact that she had only been breathing for about 30 minutes. in the whole word-- in her whole little tiny life-- she's only been breathing for 30 minutes. as we gathered around her and prayed over her, i was never so distracted. on top of her loveliness, she just cooed and sighed and moved her little rosebud lips and i thought, i have held so many babies, but this one... this one is my little neice. i can't imagine what motherhood will be like.

it's an incredible thing, to look into the face of brand-spanking-newness. to see my husband's features in his sister's child. my brother-in-law was suddenly someone else, too, to me. we've been family, of course, since...well, since our first family lunch, when i knew by the way he looked at her that he was going to marry diane, but today... somehow, we were all tied together in that room through that little beautiful girl. and i know i'm dancing on the edge of cheesiness, but i can't help myself. it was stunning.

in other news, i am nearly persuaded that myspace is not the place i want to be posting anymore. today, a girl i know casually posted a bulletin that read something like this: "To all of you 'friends' with whom i have spoke [sic] recently, and who refuse to respond to my comments, messages, pictures or blogs, i will be deleting you from my friends list. That is all."

well, dang.

thing is, that's not necessarily an unusual bulletin--- from the 14 year olds. this was a grown woman. weird.

anyway, it's funny how much the whole thing is bothering me, though. am i really this sensitive to transition of any kind?? :) one of my housemates out in oregon used to tell me that she hated change so much and that she became so attached to things just as they are, that she had a hard time changing the batteries in her walkman (yes, 1993,4). i mean, i guess i can see that-- you remember the day you bought those batteries, when you went over to albertsons with a good friend on your way to canon beach. or something. i'm not that bad, of course-- but then today, i was thinking of my brand new niece, listening to my husband singing "freebird" to her (yes, we are children of the 80's), and i realized that the transition i am in is NOTHING compared to what this little girl just went through. and she was just sitting back, taking it in stride, surrounded by people who love her, and who are committed to bringing her up in the most loving, amazing way (i have plans for her; the class of 2027 at agnes scott). she's transitioning from amniotic fluid to oxygen. from the pure safety of the womb to a cradle. from an umbilical cord to the breast.

and i'm trying to figure out how to close down my myspace account.

Friday, May 18, 2007

so i'm blogging in three places at once...

I'm blogging on myspace and on facebook-- but really, it's the same thing because i'm importing my myspace blog to the facebook notes...but i can't figure out how to do that here.

but i'm interested in a more pure sort of writing area, so i'm wondering about this spot. i don't know. myspace seems easier to navigate-- weird, huh? hey, my degrees are in art and english education.

so for now, it's late and i am trying to avoid waking my husband up-- he's exhausted with end of the year stuff at school, and everything just seems to hit at once-- so i'm going to see if i can't figure it all out...

Thursday, May 17, 2007


isn't friendship weird? well, i don't guess that being IN friendship is weird, but they don't die pretty, and those that do don't leave an empty frangrance. it's ugly and smelly and drips with, there's this word again, regret.

several years ago, i walked through a funeral pyre of friendship-death. it was horrible. looking now, i was horrible. we were working together on a team, i was a kid, i wasn't getting my way, i guess, and some private thoughts of mine were made public in a way that still baffles me. i lost three dear friends in the process. and i think they are forever gone.

but when i consider the path that i was on at that time... i was in ministry, and i would have followed two of these people anywhere. they had been my leaders in the organization i worked with, and they were like an older brother and sister in the faith. though i am still not convinced that they dealt with me in the best way possible, i know that the tantrum i threw over the loss of their friendship included words and insults that caused such wounds that only eternity can truly heal. i was mean. i was wounded-- and wounded people can be some of the meanest you ever met. anyway, my path was headed toward some sort of full time ministry with them-- i would have moved wherever they wanted to set up shop. i was single, full of zeal, and i practically worshipped them. with good cause-- they were pretty awesome. still, it would have been the most tragic move-- it wasn't where God was leading me.

i was just thinking of it tonight...i think of them sometimes. i spent the day today (wasn't today GLORIOUS in georgia?)(all except the parts that are burning...bring rain, Lord) with a dear friend who asked me what i thought about the intervention of the Lord. i'm for it :). but anyway, here i always consider the trip from hell-- the trip where i died, and the samantha you know now was born-- as a major intervention from the Lord. did He inspire us to brutalize each other the way we did? did He inspire me to write venomous letters to that couple whose actions so messed with my head? did He conspire for events to happen the summer my mother developed cancer and my father developed Parkinsons?


but He used it all.

oh my heart cries with the goodness of my God. how He is able to save us from the most empty sea of wrong choices-- no boats, no docks, only waves of emptiness and loneliness and following the wrong paths because we don't know which paths to take. oh, how He saved me. how grateful i am.

but how grieved i am, too. i lost them. they are lost to me. i loved them, and in my anger over their sound rejection of me, i lashed out at them with a bitterness none of you could ever imagine coming from my pen. i spoke words that most people only think about the sanity of others, or the soundness of their marriage. i questioned everything about them. why, oh why, didn't i just keep it all to myself? why didn't i just burn those letters? i, who cannot seem to be moved to send a birthday card to my own little brother, found it in myself to faithfully mail at least three letters fairly seething with poison. if only i could go back in time and clamp my hands together. if only i could distract myself with anything other than those letters.


i'm restless. and tonight, i ran across the blog of one of the folks involved in that mess. this person was sort of a bit player, but there nonetheless, and it was odd to read words that were happy and sort of light, when the last time i saw this person everything was dark and red in a basement in edinburgh. oh, that town. the home of my ancestors. what a dark spot you are in my memory.
anyway, i promise that the next thing i write will be happy. i'm just a little stunned melancholic after finding that blog. suddenly, with graduation, i have way too much time on my hands-- gotta start writing curriculum!!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

while i was complaining...

...three men in turkey were being martyred for their faith.

on april 27, i was sitting in front of my computer in agony over how to express just what element of educational pedagogy i was going to expound upon, masters-thesisly, and three men were having their heads drawn back and their throats slit open. they were emasculated and watched their parts destroyed before their eyes. their anuses were mutilated with knives. they had met for a secret prayer meeting, having invited 5 "new believers" who were actually radical non-believers, and they were martyred for their faith.

on april 27, i was complaining that my tea was not hot enough, or that my husband was not sensitive enough to an emotional meltdown, or that the temperature in the house was not perfect. on the other side of the world, three wives, children, families, a congregation, were shocked with the murder of three of their own. innocent men. men meeting to pray.

the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

now, some may say, "Sam, you can't beat yourself up over this-- you aren't there! you just need to live the best life you can here! just because that happened over there you don't need to feel guilty!" but it's not exactly guilt that i feel. it's grief mixed with something else. here's what the Bible says, in the book that we moderates like to avoid:

"And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony they maintained..." Revelation 6:9

I say "we moderates". what i am feeling is convicted. i first became fascinated with my faith as a little girl whose parents were saved during the Jesus movement (early 70's). everybody thought Jesus was coming back right away. i used to wake in the night when the train hurtled through old town conyers, convinced that it was the trumpet of the Lord. i would go peek to see if i could hear my parents breathing in the darkness in our tiny house. my reality as a child was that Jesus would return at any moment. i was that little girl in the recent documentary "Jesus Camp" who was weeping with her arms in the air, in such earnest. i am certain that my early love affair with Jesus and my willingness to believe everything the Bible said about the Holy Spirit laid the groundwork for a faith that has been tested and proven true. my God is real and i have been very, very nice about it.

i am trying to find the balance between what my heart sings and what others can hear. does this make sense? i have friends of many faiths and lifestyles-- some of our ideas line up with each other, while others of us are almost perfectly opposed, but we share love, and i am convinced that this is important. some of the most precious conversations i have been priviledged to be a part of have been held late into the night over coffee or in hotel rooms at retreats or over the phone after a crisis or in my living room or in the studio at agnes scott-- i have listened to my friends' hearts who are searching for meaning. i have heard hearts longing for the more of life. and so many times, i kept quiet because i didn't want to break the spell, or because i sensed in my heart that to listen was the heart of Christ right then, but sometimes...and i am ashamed to admit it... it was because i didn't want to lose favor.

oh, my heart-- how do we as believers do this? how do we love with the love of Christ without sounding patronizing? how do we love others the way He did without witholding Him from those who do not yet know Him? oh, my heart is so torn with this thing. how do i let Him so shine through me that my precious friends see Him, the source of relief for every heartache??? how did He do it? oh Jesus, what did you do?

he said that,"I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you invited Me in; naked and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me." Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, "Lord, when did we see You hungry, ad feed You, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see You a stranger, or invite you in, or naked and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?" And the King will answer and say to them, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." Matthew 25:35-40

When you did it to the least of them, you did it to me.

i'm convicted because i have friends dying to know Him and my faith has been quiet. i do not love Him less, but i have been placed in an environment so foreign to my evangelistic upbringing and i do not know how to do the right thing sometimes. i know to LIVE what i know to be true, and i hear His Spirit moving me so many times, but i do not know what the kind of telling that HE did looks like. i do not want to be yet another hurtful, judgmental Christian in one of the precious lives i have the honor of touching.

and yet i know that He lives. and all of His tenets are true. and there are mysteries there that we do not yet even begin to understand. and we have made mistakes in many of our own personal translations of His teachings. and we don't even know which ones or to what extent we are wrong, but that's just it: we are often wrong, but HE never is. if we as believers could just follow the things we know to be true...

and on the other side of the world, three men gave their lives-- or their lives were snatched away from them-- because of what they knew to be true. in those final moments, your blood spilling to the floor, it's just you and Jesus.

you and Jesus.

nobody else. no lost or gained friendships that are fruitless because we are afraid to say what is true. no good feelings because you are popular or well respected. no sense of pride because you are respected by academic theologians who are often as daft and useless as they are bloated with knowledge.

me and Jesus.

the blood of the martyrs is crying out to me.

(revisiting old blogs from myspace. may 2)