Barbara's Random Thoughts

Monday, February 27, 2006

Though I love you, still we're strangers...

Last Wednesday night, I shared my testimony with YAF. I spent maybe 30 or 40 minutes talking about what I've seen God doing in my life so far. The Sunday beforehand, I sang with the worship team, and I made the comment that singing was far less nerve-wracking than having to talk at YAF was going to be. It's one thing to sing someone else's words, and it's quite another to speak your own words--to put your own thoughts and experiences out there for public consumption. (And yet, I have no qualms about blogging. Hmmm.)

There's something quite scary for me about sharing who I am with a whole bunch of people. It's saying "here I am" and letting others come to their own conclusions about what that means.

Things went well at YAF, and I was able to share what I wanted to in spite of my nerves, but I've spent plenty of time since then analyzing and second-guessing myself. Should I have presented things differently, should I have shared more or less about certain things, did people really understand who I am at all? I do tend to be overly critical of myself, and I think I spend too much time wondering about stuff like this.

The best parts and also the hardest parts for me were the questions at the end and talking with people after it was over. Some people chatted with me, wanting to know more. Some thanked me for sharing what I did. Some said, "I know just what you mean." And then there was that one question, "So have you found a husband yet?" Sigh.

I shared a little about my questions about being single. I shared a little about my issues with control. I talked about some of the intellectual rather than emotional motivations behind my faith. And I wondered after some of the questions that people asked if everyone went home thinking that I'm an emotionally stunted control freak who's desperately hunting for a husband. Augh.

There are times when I feel like I am known, I am understood, and I glimpse something of a kindred spirit, of the race that knows Joseph (to borrow metaphors from Anne of Green Gables). And then there are times when I quote Prufrock inside my head: "That is not it at all, / That is not what I meant, at all."

The thing is, that what I shared last Wednesday, though true and somewhat comprehensive, is still not the whole story of who I am. That whole story takes months, even years of friendship to uncover. Without that context, I fear misunderstanding. And I don't like the feeling of being misunderstood. It's not as dramatic as all that, really, it's just kind of a nagging question that leads me to wonder to what extent we can ever really know each other.

You can't ever get inside someone else's head (thank God) and you can never quite adequately explain what it's like to be inside your own head. And yet, as imperfect as our knowledge of each other will always be, God still calls us to community. We are not here alone, and we are not called to live life alone. Even if we're never completely known and understood.

Though I love you, still we're strangers
Prisoners in these lonely hearts
And though our blindness separates us
Still a light shines in the dark
And His outstretched arms
Are still strong enough to reach
Behind these prison bars and set us free
-Rich Mullins, "Peace"
| posted by Barbara | 10:28 PM |

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Friday quiz

The name of the rose
Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose.
You are a mystery novel dealing with theology,
especially with catholic vs liberal issues.
You search wisdom and knowledge endlessly,
feeling that learning is essential in life.

Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

A "literature classic" should be older than this, but oh well. Still fun.


| posted by Barbara | 2:37 AM |

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Found on my car this morning.

They came to the office with me.

Karen and Justin, they're sneaky. (Thank you!)
| posted by Barbara | 8:08 PM |


Roses from Saturday's Half Moon Bay trip:

Later in the week, they're in full bloom:
| posted by Barbara | 7:56 PM |

Monday, February 20, 2006

Commenting...or not.

My friend Justin has been getting a lot of attention on his blog after being featured on Yahoo 360's most interesting blogs page. It makes me laugh to see all the comments he's getting from total strangers. What's so curious to me is how many people are compelled to comment on a total stranger's blog when they really don't have much to say. I guess it takes a very different personality from mine. I'm a total blog-lurker. I will comment occasionally, if I feel like I have something to say that's significant or at least related to the subject of the post...but usually, I'm pretty quiet. I don't like posting comments that just say "great blog!" or "Me too!"...because, what's the point?

And yet, I've had several conversations lately with people from church who have said they read my to me, because they never comment. There's a part of me that feels like if you know me and you're reading my blog--comment so I know you're out there! Otherwise it feels like a one-sided conversation...or maybe a better metaphor is eavesdropping. Obviously I don't mind if you read my blog--I'm self-promoting enough to put my blog address in my email signature, for crying out loud--but I do like to know who's out there, reading quietly.

All of this to say that communicating via blogs is weird, and everyone does it differently. And I'm just going to have to come to terms with people who read my blog the way I myself read blogs--quietly.

I realize that this is going to come across as a shameless plea for comments. It's not, really. But don't let that keep you from commenting. Oh, shut up, Barbara.
| posted by Barbara | 8:41 PM |

Quote of the day

"Typos are very important to all written form. It gives the reader something to look for so they aren't distracted by the total lack of content in your writing."
--Randy K. Milholland


| posted by Barbara | 8:22 PM |

Friday, February 17, 2006

"I wish I could tell you, but I just can't find the words..."

Life updates? What? Yeah, I haven't shared much here lately.

Um, ok....the big thing is that I am definitely going to South Africa for a couple of weeks with Nieu Communities. In January, NC accepted my application for a Beyond Borders trip in March. Then that trip got cancelled because there weren't enough people signed up to go. Their next trip to South Africa is scheduled for the end of May, and I've decided to go ahead and join that trip in place of the March one. There was a lot of decision-making stuff that went on in my head with the back-and-forth scheduling--and I won't go into all of that here--but that's where things stand right now. I'm starting in on writing prayer letters soon...let me know if you want to know more, and I'll send you one.

Let's see, what else...I'm singing with the worship team this coming Sunday, which I'm a little nervous about, and I'll be sharing at YAF on Wednesday night, which I'm also nervous about. I'm just not good at the in-front-of-people thing (don't look at me!), but it'll be good to be stretched. I'll be taking some time this weekend to finish planning out what I'll say on Wednesday, sifting through what's been important/significant in my life and figuring out what I want to share about my spiritual journey thus far.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the problem of evil and the character of God--prompted by reading The Sparrow, which I highly recommend (thanks, Julie). Maybe I'll post more of my thoughts on this when I have the time to formulate more coherent thoughts about it. In any case, I'm really looking forward to talking about some of these issues with my book club in another week or so.

And...I'm looking forward to a lazy Presidents' Day weekend. (Or is it President's Day? I'm never quite sure.) I don't have much of anything planned, which is quite refreshing. I'm looking forward to watching the Olympics, doing some reading, and maybe getting together with some friends.

I don't have a conclusion. Sorry.
| posted by Barbara | 7:39 PM |

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"The world is charged with the grandeur of God..."

I've been loving the weather lately. For the past couple weeks, the mornings have been sunny and blue-skied and wonderful. There are daffodils blooming all along the highway on my drive to work, and I love seeing the shaggy brown cows grazing on the hills. I don't know why I love the shaggy brown cows so much, but they make me smile every single morning.

On a different note, here are pictures of my Valentines:

| posted by Barbara | 7:48 PM |

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


| posted by Barbara | 9:41 PM |

Happy Valentine's Day

There's an elementary school right around the corner from my house, so most mornings I drive past all the little groups of kids on their way to school. This morning, all the little girls were wearing pink and red and heart-patterned skirts. Ah, Valentine's Day.

Today, I'm enjoying my flowers from Karen, and homemade Valentines from my nieces and nephew. I'm such a horrible aunt--I didn't send them anything. =(

Some links for Valentine's Day:

Don't have a Valentine? Perhaps you'd like to try literary speed dating.

Should you have a Valentine and should you be inclined to poetry, you can find an appropriate poem for your Valentine here. This is what I got...

It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all - allegedly. You're not sure whether you want your valentine to burn with reignited passion or burn in hell [HAhahaaa!!], but poetry excels at ambiguity. Here are some apt verses to let them know they're still on your mind.

When We Two Parted by Lord Byron

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever the years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder, thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
Sunk, chill on my brow,
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o'er me...
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well
Long, long shall I rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met
In silence I grieve
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?
With silence and tears.
| posted by Barbara | 7:26 PM |

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Hymn for a Saturday

I got Sandra McCracken's The Builder and the Architect this week. It's a collection of hymns--new ones, and old ones set to new music. It's beautiful and highly recommended. This one's my current favorite, and I can't seem to stop listening to it.

Rock of Ages
Sandra McCracken

Rock of Ages, when the day seems long
From this labor and this heartache I have come
The skies will wear out, but you remain the same
Rock of Ages, I praise your name

Rock of Ages, you have brought me near
You have poured out Your life-blood, your love, your tears
To make this stone heart come alive again
Rock of Ages, forgive my sin

Rock of Ages, Rock of Ages
Bind your children till the kingdom comes
Rock of Ages, your will be done

Rock of Ages, when in want or rest
My desperate need for such a Savior I confess
Pull these idols out from my heart embrace
Rock of Ages, I need your grace

Rock of Ages, broken, scorned for me
Who am I that you would die to make me free?
To give me glory, you took the death and pain
Rock of Ages, my offering

Rock of Ages, "It is done!" you cried
The curtain's torn and I see justice satisfied
Now write your mercy here on my heart and hands
Rock of Ages, in faith I stand

Rock of Ages, my great hope secure
Your promise holds just like an anchor to my soul
Bind your children with cords of love and grace
Rock of Ages, we give you praise

Rock of Ages, Rock of Ages
Bind your children until the kingdom comes
Rock of Ages, your will be done
| posted by Barbara | 4:14 AM |

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Five, not three

Found here, originally from here, but I'm sticking with Sheila's modification to five choices instead of three. I had a hard enough time narrowing it down to five, and I keep thinking of more. I'm limiting this to books I first read as a kid.

Name five favorite children's series.
1. The Green-sky trilogy by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I read the first of these, Below the Root, when I was in 4th or 5th grade and LOVED it. I wanted to live in Green-sky. I didn't realize it was the first of a trilogy until I went back to read it as an adult.
2. The Anne of Green Gables books by L.M. Montgomery. It sounds so cliché to list these, and I do think the Emily books are better, but I have a soft spot for these ones. The first three are the best.
3. The Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. These are such an integral part of my childhood memories! I loved Ramona and read all of these repeatedly.
4. The Chronicles of Narnia. Of course.
5. The Mortimer books by Joan Aiken. How can you not love books featuring a pet raven who croaks "Nevermore," AND illustrations by Quentin Blake? We had a library contest at school one year--a quiz about books--and I was part of a 3-way tie for first place. The tie-breaker task was to draw a few scenes from a favorite book, and I chose to draw Mortimer's adventures with the sword Excalibur.

Name five favorite non-series children's books.
1. Kate by Jean Little. There are other books that go along with this one, but Kate is my favorite. The characters and their friendship were (and are) so real to me. I used to wish I knew Kate and Emily.
2. The BFG or Matilda or Danny, the Champion of the World...oh, shoot, anything by Roald Dahl. Hands down, my favorite author when I was a kid.
3. Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson. I still remember feeling incensed at the scene where Louise finds Caroline "slathering her hands with my Jergens." This book depicts Louise's emotions so perfectly.
4. You Shouldn't Have to Say Goodbye by Patricia Hermes. This book is so sad and so real and so awesome.
5. The Queen's Nose by Dick King-Smith. (He also wrote The Sheep-pig, which was butchered into the movie Babe. The movie is a travesty, I tell you! Do not argue with me on this one!) It's because of this book that I began carefully looking for 50 pence coins that looked like this. They might be magic! They might grant wishes!

Name five favorite children's book characters.
1. Ramona Quimby--So many things she said and thought and did were things I did as a kid. Who doesn't love Ramona?
2. Matilda Wormwood from Matilda--I totally identified with a girl who read all the books in the children's section of the library. I loved the ingenuity of the pranks she played on the people who were so hard on her.
3. Eeyore--Thanks for noticing me.
4. Kate Bloomfield from Kate--I always wanted a friend like Kate.
5. Ole Golly in Harriet the Spy--so wise, so wonderful. If every kid had an Ole Golly, the world would be better.

There are so many more I haven't listed...


| posted by Barbara | 2:20 AM |

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Mr. Right Mug

2006 marks the 10-year anniversary of the semester I spent studying in Florence. I've already begun to get nostalgic. Last weekend, my friend Melinda was asking me if I'm going to go through with our plan to meet up with our roommates from that semester, in Rome this October. Maybe that's one reason this story came to mind.

I own a large number of mugs. But sadly, I do not possess the Mr. Right mug. We came across it in the random assortment of dishes in our flat in Florence. Printed across the top were the words "Where is Mr. Right?" Underneath this was a spinner-type wheel with six sections, each suggesting a potential location for Mr. Right:

-Right around the corner
-Married to Mrs. Right
-In medical school
-Making his first million
-Right under your nose
-Looking for you

There was a blank circle in the middle of the wheel, as if there should be a pointer there, so you could spin it and find out where Mr. Right was. But there was no spinner. I was puzzled by this deficiency. There was no way of actually using the mug to find out where Mr. Right was! And really, why have a wheel like that with no spinner? I don't know why I spent time pondering this. It was a mug.

We loved the thing. It sparked many conversations about relationships and dating and speculations about what the future might hold, as we wondered: "Where is Mr. Right?"

Melinda said from nearly the beginning that she was going to swipe it from the flat and take it home with her. But when the time came, she couldn't do it. She got nostalgic about our fascination with the mug and wanted to leave it for the next girls who would inhabit the flat, whoever they might be. We took artsy candlelight pictures of the mug and left it behind. I wonder if the next inhabitants of the flat appreciated it as much as we did. I miss that mug.

Update: On a whim, I googled this. No way. Our mug must have lost its spinner. Sad. (And, you seriously can find anything on eBay. Resisting the urge to bid...)

(Updated again to illustrate with a swiped-from-eBay picture)
| posted by Barbara | 9:23 PM |

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I have cool friends.

Last night after YAF, Karen dragged me out to her car because she said she had something for me. Since I had just handed her 3 copies of our current Bible study book to distribute to the San Mateo half of our small group, I figured it was an offering in kind--maybe a book she'd borrowed from me.

But, no...she pulled a bouquet of roses & lilies out of her back seat and told me it was a Valentine's Day present! I guess I'm not very good at accepting gifts or kind gestures, because my response was: "Karen, Valentine's Day isn't till next week!" Heehee. I haven't gotten flowers in ages, and these are beautiful. Yay!

(I was gonna post a picture, but the camera decided to stay at home maybe later.)
| posted by Barbara | 8:19 PM |

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Taking my job too seriously

Last night, I caught myself proofreading street signs. I was driving down El Camino through San Mateo, and I noticed a sign that read "12Th Ave." It bothered me. The T should be lower case: "12th Ave."

There's a sign at the Woodside exit off 101 that says "Port Of Redwood City" and it always bothers me that the "Of" is capitalized. It's a preposition and shouldn't be capitalized! It's bothering me right now, in fact, just thinking about it.

I have problems.
| posted by Barbara | 9:57 PM |

Monday, February 06, 2006

Bits & pieces

It was hunger that got me out of bed on Saturday morning. I had my heart set on making waffles. Joyce came into the kitchen to find me standing at the fridge looking forlorn, as we were out of both eggs and milk. She suggested we go to Safeway. Immediately. Never mind that we were both still in our pajamas...the lure of waffle ingredients was too strong. Yes, we went to Safeway in our pajamas. It was awesome. (And the chocolate chip waffles were yummy.)

I didn't watch the Superbowl yesterday. This is not shocking news. What amuses me is that I instead spent my afternoon with Jenn and Lori, watching Gone with the Wind at the Stanford Theatre. I feel like such a girl.

I realize that my posts haven't been very substantive lately. (When the sidebar's longer than the posts, something is awry.) Sorry. (Or do you care?) There hasn't been much big stuff going on, and I haven't really taken the time to sit down and write about some of the things I'm thinking about. Maybe I'll improve on that soon.
| posted by Barbara | 7:51 PM |

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Traveling animals

I came across this on The Morning News today: The Bear in Helsinki.

I don't know why I'm so intrigued and amused by the idea of taking pictures of stuffed animals and the like in highly recognizable or odd places. (I loved the gnome in Amelie.)

On one of my trips to Wales, my nieces gave me a Flat Stanley to take pictures of on my travels. He posed in front of scenic views of the Rhondda valleys, fed pigeons in Trafalgar square, and nearly got blown into the Thames from Tower Bridge.

One Christmas, I took a bunch of pictures of a small toy dog in and around my house (under the Christmas tree, decorating Christmas cookies, in the middle of a Nativity scene) and workplace (in a coworker's cubicle, reading philosophy books, looking out over the canyon behind our building). I then mailed the dog, the pictures, and a disposable camera to Jude for her Christmas gift, with instructions to keep taking pictures of him. Her mother proclaimed it the best Christmas gift ever. I'm still rather proud of it myself.

But my pictures weren't nearly as good as these.
| posted by Barbara | 2:02 AM |

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A dying art?

I love the title of this article, even though I don't agree with the dire prediction.

Poetry? It'll soon be about as popular as morris dancing

Because, come on--morris dancing!
| posted by Barbara | 1:48 AM |