Barbara's Random Thoughts

Monday, May 30, 2005

On giving up

This morning's sermon was about marriage. My usual reaction to sermons on marriage is to kind of half-listen, and then file the information away in that section of my brain labeled "You May Or May Not Need This Later."

Several years ago, our college & career leader was contemplating doing our next study on Song of Solomon. We were both working in the church office at the time, and he asked my opinion on the idea. I had a pretty strong opinion--if he was going to pick a passage to study with a group of unmarried adults (most of us weren't even in dating relationships), he might want to pick something that would actually be applicable to us in our particular stage of life. He persisted in saying that he felt there was a lot of interest in the topic of relationships, and that all of the Bible is applicable and relevant. I was adamant that indeed, all parts of the Bible apply to life, but that this particular part of the Bible did not apply to my life (or the majority of the group) at that point in time.

Anyway. So yeah, I've had rather strong reactions in the past to the idea of studies on marriage. I also avoid Christian dating-type seminars whenever possible. But a sermon on marriage usually doesn't bug me--the congregation contains people at all stages of life, the topic is applicable for some, and on some other Sunday there will be a sermon that speaks more to me.

So it was unexpected and rather nice when the pastor concluded the sermon with a bit of a caveat, saying: "For many of you, this message is either useless or painful. Or both." He went on to list three things that God speaks to the "many" he was talking about:
I understand
Don't give up
I will never leave you

The one that jumped out at me was the second: Don't give up. Because in so many ways, I wish I could give up. It would be so much easier to be free of the desire for a relationship--the desire for something it seems I can't have. I don't want to want this anymore. I work hard to give up on wanting a relationship. To be alone, independent, content with who I am and where I am in life. And so I wonder: what exactly is it that I'm supposed to not give up on? What do I need to hang on to, and what do I need to give up? I know I need to hope in God, always--that yes, He will never leave me, He will sustain me, no matter what. But do I hang on to this desire that I've worked so hard to start giving up? I don't know. But I wonder.

A small postscript:

All of this reminded me of the following--the end of an amazing post from tequila mockingbird:

i've worked hard to make myself forget. forget what it feels like to long for someone. forget how good it feels for someone to long for you. i won't let myself think about how long it's been since someone held my hand. since i buried my face against the side of someone's neck and breathed in deeply to smell him. since someone put his hands on the side of my face and kissed me.

and then, when you least expect it, someone comes along. out of the blue. with no warning. and he looks at you and your breathing gets shallow. and you fumble with your answers to his questions. and he makes you feel as though it's just the two of you talking. that you're not in the middle of a loud and crowded room.

and then, he's gone.

but not before he has made you ache just a little more.

not before he has reminded you of all those things you've worked so hard to make yourself forget.

Go read the whole thing here.
| posted by Barbara | 7:48 AM |

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Freedom and 43 things

Last night was the season finale of both Lost and Alias. Good night of TV. I'm a freak about Alias, and last night's season-end cliffhanger--!!!!!!!!!! I love this show. I completely involuntarily did the whole cliché gasp-with-hands-to-mouth thing at the end of last night's finale. Please don't take away my Michael Vartan, that's all I'm gonna say.

Anyway. With all these season finales, it's kinda nice to be free for the summer. I love keeping up with the few shows I watch, but summer hiatus means more time for reading. In January, I came up with a list of books I wanted to read this year, and I have done a pathetic job of this so far. (I've read 2 from the list, and am 2/3 through another.) My goal right now is to tackle Les Miserables this summer, and The Once and Future King in the fall/winter.

And on the subject of reading goals...I've used All Consuming for a while now to track what I'm currently reading (and now, what I'm listening to as well). It's now been merged with this cool little site: 43 Things. This site allows you to list up to 43 things you are doing or want to do--goals, basically. It's a neat idea, and there are some really cool goals that people have listed. But it's kind of sad, because when I log in now, it says I'm reading 12 books, listening to 2 albums, and doing 0 things. I'm such a slacker. At some point, I've gotta go in there and enter some things I want to do. Like "Read Les Miserables this summer."
| posted by Barbara | 10:41 PM |

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Some days...

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I know. Girls suck, too. But sometimes, the above t-shirt just has to be worn.
| posted by Barbara | 10:12 PM |

Monday, May 23, 2005

Two months

I was talking to Heather this afternoon and she pointed out that I'll be arriving in Wales two months from today. Woohoo! Man, I gotta start working on my curriculum...
| posted by Barbara | 5:15 AM |

Friday, May 20, 2005

Austen quiz

I haven't been posting anything but links and quotes lately, so why not a quiz?

I am Elizabeth Bennet!
Take the Quiz here!

You are Elizabeth Bennet of Pride & Prejudice! You are intelligent, witty, and tremendously attractive. You have a good head on your shoulders, and oftentimes find yourself the lone beacon of reason in a sea of silliness. You take great pleasure in many things. You are proficient in nearly all of them, though you will never own it. Lest you seem too perfect, you have a tendency toward prejudgement that serves you very ill indeed.

Though Elizabeth is probably my favorite Austen heroine, I think I'm probably more like Elinor Dashwood. Except for that unfortunate tendency toward prejudgment. In that, I'm quite like Elizabeth.

Thanks to Chloe for the link.
| posted by Barbara | 10:13 PM |

Compliment yourself

Hearty woes and congratulations on your recent conquest of the Islets of Mundane!

The Surrealist Compliment Generator.
| posted by Barbara | 6:57 PM |

Thursday, May 19, 2005

"Book" review

The New Republic rips up Maria Shriver's graduation-gift title, "And One More Thing Before You Go..."

Shriver's "book" -- such that it is, at a brisk 64 pages -- started as a graduation speech to a class of high-school girls and their mothers. ... Given the dreadful quality of the finished product, I can only assume that the overenthusiastic response came from unapologetic sycophants trying to score some face time with a Kennedy.

Sometimes vitriolic reviews are the most fun to read.
| posted by Barbara | 6:14 PM |

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Every once in a while, I run across a university home page that makes me smile. This picture is one such occasion.

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"Three of these things belong together, three of these things are kind of the same..."
| posted by Barbara | 9:35 PM |

Rather elaborate author reading

This is really, really cool.

"Immediately after midnight, at 00.01am on Saturday 16th July JK Rowling will read from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle. Her audience will be fifty aspiring cub reporters (aged 8-16) attending the Harry Potter Children's Press Conference Weekend on behalf of newspapers from around the world. The cub reporters will meet JK Rowling who will give them each a signed copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The cub reporters will then have the weekend to read the book in a specially-created Reading Room at Edinburgh Castle before attending the Children's Press Conference on Sunday 17th July to question JK Rowling about the new book."

If only I were between the ages of 8 and 16...

Found here.
| posted by Barbara | 9:28 PM |

Monday, May 16, 2005


"By the end of a poem, the reader should be in a different place from where he started. I would like him to be slightly disoriented at the end, like I drove him outside of town at night and dropped him off in a cornfield."
--Billy Collins
| posted by Barbara | 8:57 PM |

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Pop some bubble wrap.

Who doesn't need this?

I especially like the "Manic Mode."
| posted by Barbara | 10:26 PM |

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Lori Chaffer

When you feel like the days just drone on and on and on
and you feel like the nights are quickly gone

and on the inside your heart is gaping wide
and on the inside you feel like no one's on your side
well, I am

When you thought you could rest, but you found out you were wrong
And there's another need another battle
another one more thing that comes along

and on the inside
you hear the fall but you hate the falling sound
and on the inside
you can't pick another broken piece up off the ground
well I know

Hush little baby don't say a word
Daddy's gone and bought you a great big heaven to rest in
He's bought it with blood and put the seal in your heart
it'll give you the hope you need to get up and start again

when all the things you thought you left behind are still hanging on
and everything you try to do right ends up all wrong

and on the inside everyone else seems basically fine
but on the inside even they won't let go of the dead and cling to what's alive
well I AM

Hush little baby don't say a word
Daddy's gone and bought you a great big heaven to rest in
He's bought it with blood and put the seal in your heart
it'll give you the hope you need to get up and start again
| posted by Barbara | 6:25 PM |

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


I love this blog. And this post is one of the reasons why. Sheila relates a story involving an umbrella, an answering machine, and many, many haikus. It's hilarious. Go read it. Now.
| posted by Barbara | 12:13 AM |

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Sometimes I get burned out on worship songs. I remember singing "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High" at Forest Home in jr. high and loving it. But now, there's no worship song I can think of that's been sung further into the ground. I feel like "God of Wonders" and "Ancient of Days" are on their way to the same fate. Don't get me wrong, these are all great songs...the first 50 times you hear them. The next 500, not so much.

"Hungry" is one of those songs I got burned out on. Only with this particular song, the burning out occurred over the course of only 3 Sundays. I visited several different churches while I was in Denver for DPI, and every single church I visited sang this song. And they didn't just sing it once. They sang the chorus over...and over...and over...and nauseam.

I will wait...for You...
I will wait...for You...

Repeat that 20 times, and you get the idea. I was waiting, oh yes I was. I was waiting for them to stop repeating the chorus.

So when "Hungry" popped up on the PowerPoint yesterday in worship, I wasn't...shall we say...excited. But somehow, that song was what I needed to hear. (And we sang "I will wait for You" a reasonable number of times.)

Hungry, I come to You, for I know You satisfy
I am empty, but I know Your love does not run dry

I've been realizing lately that I've been looking to a lot of extraneous things to satisfy me, to fill my need for love, acceptance, approval, feelings of being wanted and valued. I know in my head that people will inevitably let me down at some point, but I still look to others or long for others to satisfy what only God can satisfy.

I give myself to what looks like love
and I sell myself for what feels like love
and I pay to get what is not love
and all just because I see things upside down
--Derek Webb

And God continually, faithfully lifts my eyes and reminds me that He is all I need. Sometimes He just has to repeat it a few times.
| posted by Barbara | 2:06 AM |

Monday, May 09, 2005

Things I could say...

I could write about the weekend, and how I had fun hiking at Pinnacles on Saturday. Or I could write about the fall I took while hiking and how I managed to comprehensively cut and bruise both my knees. (This brought new layers of meaning to singing "Hungry" in church yesterday: "I'm falling on my knees...")

Or I could just post a quiz.

The only book which doesn't take place in Narnia at all, per se, you're the story of a voyage to find the end of the world and hopefully the Seven Lost Lords (remember Rhoop!). You contain some of the most unique people and places and beautiful descriptions of the whole series.

Find out which Chronicles of Narnia book you are.
| posted by Barbara | 9:20 PM |

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Friend of God

And now I sing you songs of praise
But your greatness is beyond me
I know I cannot comprehend
How you, Ancient of Days
Stoop yourself to call me
To be your son
To be your friend
--Caedmon's Call

I was listening to this on the way to work yesterday, and it got me thinking about what it means to be the friend of God. The idea of being God's child is one thing. I can get my head around that--God as my father, me as His child. But--friend?

I started thinking about what friendship is, in my mind. A friend is someone to go through things with, to figure things out with, to listen and sympathize and understand. And so many more things…but what I'm getting at (eventually) is that to me, friendship seems to suggest a reciprocal, equal relationship. In one sense, a friend is a peer—someone who's on my same level, someone who I struggle through things with--meaning that sometimes they struggle, too. So what does it mean to think of God as a friend?

Adam walked with God in the Garden of Eden. Abraham was called the friend of God (James 2:23). Enoch is spoken of as one who walked with God. God spoke to Moses "face to face, as a man speaks with his friend" (Ex. 33:11).

O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You. Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?
--2 Chronicles 20:6-7

Here God is addressed as sovereign in the heavens, ruler over the nations, powerful and mighty, and then side by side with that is the almost casual mention of "Abraham Your friend." God is infinitely powerful but incredibly personal at the same time.

I guess it's difficult for me to imagine God stooping so low as to put Himself on my level and call me His friend. But isn't that what the incarnation is all about?

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:5-7

I'm wary of thinking of God in such a way that I lose sight of His sovereignty in an attempt to bring Him down to my level. God isn't my buddy. He's almighty. He's infinitely more powerful and wise than I can imagine.

Lord, I often talk about Your love and mercy
How it seems to me Your goodness has no end
It frightens me to think that I could take You for granted
Though You're closer than a brother
You're more than just a friend
--Point of Grace

All of this thinking leads me to this: there is no way human language can adequately express who God is. Any description--ruler, Father, friend--fails to encompass all that He is. Though these ways of talking about God can help me understand aspects of who He is, they aren't all He is. He is so much more than our minds can comprehend or express through our limited words, metaphors, and figures of speech.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
and every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
though stretched from sky to sky.
--F. M. Lehmen
| posted by Barbara | 5:53 PM |

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Books, what else?

I keep seeing this on blog after blog, so I'm finally doing it myself.

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
Hmm. There are two ways to answer this question: which book I'd most likely be able to embody, and which book I'd want to be.

I'd love to offer something more substantial to the preservation of the literary canon, but the books I'd best embody would most likely be the Roald Dahl canon, or the Anne books. I could also probably do a fairly good job with anything Oscar Wilde. But I think it would be really cool to be Don Quixote.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
I really don't think so.

The last book you bought is:
Scissors, Paper, Stone is the last one I bought. But last night, a copy of I'm Not the New Me arrived in the mail, and The Goose Girl is on its way.

The last book you read:
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Girls in Pants by Ann Brashares

What are you currently reading?
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, I'm Not the New Me by Wendy McClure

Five books you would take to a deserted island:
This is such a difficult question for me--to choose which books I'd want to re-read over and over, ones that I would enjoy and get more out of on multiple readings. I'm not quite content with the following list (I might want some poetry...), but I console myself by noting that it doesn't say these are the only five books I would take to a deserted island. =)

1. The Bible
2. The LOTR trilogy
3. The Brothers Karamazov
4. Middlemarch
5. The Complete Guide to Surviving on a Deserted Island.

Ok, so the last one is a cop-out. =) Substitute Les Miserables if you like, I may as well throw in a long one that I haven't read yet.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
Hmm. Whoever wants to do it. No obligation, no name-calling, no real answer to this question.
| posted by Barbara | 9:11 PM |


I said yesterday that this week would be better than last week.

This morning I arrived at work to find myself locked out--I forgot my key card. Someone else let me into the building, and I was about to sit down at my desk when I realized that I left my laptop at home. I drove all the way home and back, now with computer, only to realize that I'd still forgotten my key card.

Oh, and my normal voice mysteriously went missing yesterday afternoon. If you find it, let me know. Last night, I sounded all husky and seductive. Today I sound like a 12-year-old boy whose voice is changing. Sexy.
| posted by Barbara | 2:09 AM |