Saturday, July 26, 2008

a picture i took, and some i definitely did not take.

i snapped this today at the field where we were working with 'wheelchairs for the world'. it came out pretty neat. natural light, heightened contrast, shot on manual setting, with black and white.

i have been so inspired by these two photographers:

mariano friginal, whose photography you can see here:
and mr. daley hake, whose photography is simply stunning. see his amazing pictures here

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

one more balloon

slam. the phone hit the wall. silence. "...and i cant get away, cant get away..." i think, in my sleep deprived state, i realized what an ironic ringtone i chose. it seemed cute when i chose it, but at 645, it was downright mocking. the day went slightly downhill from there. i stumbled out of bed to answer the phone, which summoned me to work three hours earlier than i had planned. this meant that the time i had alloted for my freelance writing was now shoved back til when i got off work at 6pm. work was no better, i was rooming people in the wrong places, mixing up charts, and slowly wading through prescriptions that i couldnt pronounce. i made one very significant blunder that i caught as the doctor was in the room with the patient. i feverishly wavered between praying she wouldnt notice, and bracing myself for the moment when she did. when the door opened, i just knew i was in for it. i had forgotten a vital step of taking an oxygen level, and i was well aware that was a faux pas that was nearly unforgiveable. out came the physician...and she called me into her office. i could feel the tears welling up already. i was exhausted, clumsy, and forgetful all day, and i knew i deserved the chastisement i was sure would come. what i got was an act of mercy.

as i walked in to the office, and sat down, i felt the doctors eyes on me and i lifted my head.
i was met with a smile.
"grace...i just want you to know that you are doing a tremendous job." thats all.
with a wink, she had just done the impossible. extended Love in a moment when Law would have been expected, even justified.

i knew she had noticed my blunder, and still, she knew what i needed. rob bell tells this compelling illustration of Grace in his book, "several years ago, i conducted a wedding ceremony on a saturday afternoon in june. the bride wore a white summer dresss, the groom a white linen shirt. they insisted on the most simple ceremony possible. it was held in a park in a grove of trees. their family and friends stood in a circle with the three of us in the middle. i began with a welcome, they exchanged vows and rings, i prounounced them, they kissed, everyone clapped. the ceremony took seven minutes. they were then handed a cluster of helium balloons. the balloons were symbols of their past marriages, pregnancies they had chosen to terminate, relationships that did not last. as a picture of starting over, they wanted their first act as a married couple to be letting the balloons go. they walked into the grove of trees. just the two of them. standing in knee deep grass, exchanging words only they could hear. then they raised the balloons and let go. we watched the balloons float away til they drifted from sight.
there are moments you wonder if youll ever forget. moments that sear themselves on your conscience. that moment was one for me.

a few years later their marriage imploded.

she moved an hour away,

they divorced.

i finish with this story because life is messy. gut wrenching, risky. things dont turn out well. sometimes they dont turn out at all. sometimes everything falls apart. we're tempted to shut ourselves off, fortify the walls around our heart, and forge ahead, vowing we'll never open ourselves up again. but i have to believe that God can put anything back together.

i have to believe God that Jesus invites us to trust is as good as He says He is.
God does not run out of balloons."

Sunday, July 6, 2008

seventeen dollar sunglasses

i squirm every time the videos come on. you know the type...sweeping orchestral background, moving portraits of children dying in Africa, villages ravaged by war and disease. they always make me so restless. i just want to pack up and move away and sell all my posessions and go save children. one of my friends had a different take on those videos though. he said "you know what those videos make me think? how absolutely depraved i am. i look at them and i dont think 'wow they have it rough.' i am blown away by the thought look how i am living. why in the world did God choose to bless me in this way?" we got to talking about child sponsorship, and realized that the main problem with it (its a wonderful thing), but we realized its a tiny bit selfish. as Americans, as the church, we tend to like problems to go away. by tossing a check in the mail, i can appease the twinge of guilt, and emotionally 'check out' of the problem. a christian speaker once opened his talk with college students with,

"while you slept tonight, 33.000 children died of starvation."

so what do we do with that piece of information? we toss a check in the mail, we buy a "inspi(red)" shirt at Gap. we sport the bracelets, the bumper stickers, we join causes on facebook.
and still we are emotionally detached. i can look at the picture at the top of this post and feel my heart stretch to encompass that precious little boy. but tomorrow morning, my first thought will be the laundry i have to do.
that my car is out of gas.
that i had better go grocery shopping.
and kids are dying in haiti. mothers are dying in africa. kids that should be doctors and lawyers and nurses are starving to death. eating dirt.


my friend drew summed it up with "if i sponsor a child, i know thats all i will give that child. i wont give any more than a few bucks in the mail. i cant be involved in that childs life. we are just so selfish. today i bought seventeen dollar sunglasses. i will lose them in about three weeks. and i think 'how in the world are we living like this'?"
i think we have to pray for restlessness. i never want to become comfortable with forgetting. i want to be restless. i want to be stirred. i want to always have that yearning to go. but i want to do it out of gratefulness. giving motivated from a prick of guilt is nothing. giving from a heart overflowing with gratefulness to a really big God is everything. we can still buy our seventeen dollar glasses. but i want to always walk in restlessness, propelled by the realization of the mercy of God, and the knowledge that we will never be at home here. One of my favorite songwriters, Australian Brooke Fraser wrote a song that says "Now that I have seen, I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead."

make me restless, oh God.