“it has always been a girlish dream of mine…

to marry a man named Earnest” [so say Gwendolyn and Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest]

Wednesday night mum and I went to a soccer game to watch little children run up and down a field, circling a black and white ball like a pack of hounds on the hunt. The wind whipped across the field, making Ave’s long brown hair dance and and the curls of Merce’s auburn crown bounced wildly as the two girls spun in circles around us before falling to the blanket with laughter and giggles that grew more hoarse [and beautiful] as the night wound on.

Ave hugged her mother’s belly just after Eden scored and the entire sideline howled with delighted support at her flimsy and impish kick that sent the goalie sprawling in her attempt to block. It was no expert goal, not like the matches I am used to watching at the pub, but somehow, there was more glory in Eden’s lack of precision than in all Ronaldo’s fancy footwork.

Ave smiled and kissed the shirt over her mother’s bulging abdomen. “I love you, baby,” she said, just like Eden had last week when I was curled up sick on the overstuffed chair. “I love you,” she said with her gap toothed grin and wandering brown eyes that always speak of mystery and the whimsical nature she exudes as she dances through life. I swept her up into my arms the next time she ran  by. “What should we name the baby?” I asked (as though “we” means I ought to have some say, a typical instance of my mouth running away before I’ve put proper thought to the words). “I don’t know!” she giggled and squirmed away.

We talked for a few minutes about names, and Ghena confessed that Jonathan had somewhat jokingly suggested Elkanah. I clapped my hands in bemused delight. “I always wanted to give that name to a child–as a middle name,” I admit quite readily for I know that Ghena and my mother will not think it odd for me to have such unusual tastes.

I have alwaysa wanted to name a child for Hannah’s husband who was the favoured though she could bear no children.I love Elkanah, giving her a greater portion of meat though she had given him no sons. I can see him just wiping away her tears, drawing him into the safety of his arms and whispering for her to hush. “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” And with her face pressed against his chest, the salty tears absorbed into the rough weave of his tunic, she would find some comfort and then–one day–God did an even more miraculous thing than giving her a husband who adored his barren wife. He gave her a son.

And I’ve always wanted to name a child that, because I always wanted to marry a man like that and to be loved in the way that Elkanah loved Hannah.

But today, on my way to work a song filtered out through my stereo: something by Jars of Clay’s album Who We Are Instead and among all the things I was reminded of this morning on my rushed commute in the blinding sunlight this one stuck.

I already have someone who loves me like that. And I need to stop looking for it to be affirmed in the presence of a man who will “put up with me” and take me in as a part of himself. Because, I already have better than that. It’s hard to write this. I’m looking out at my neighbour’s front porch where two adirondacks sit side by side beneath a flower box and trailing vine. Will I ever have someone to sit in the adirondack next to me and watch the sunset? Will I have someone pull the veil away and gently break down the barriers that I’ve drawn up around my heart? Will there be someone who’ll be patient with the heart that I’ve turned into a drifter and give me roots without taking away my wings?

But Jesus, in so many ways, he’s already done those things. I do have roots, they just aren’t here. And I do have someone who’s putting up with me, who’s been incredibly hurt by me and yet stands by and fights my battles. I have someone who walks along by my side and cups my chin and lifts my face when I want to bury it in shame and he tells me, I look like Him.

He makes me think that I can trust someone, and that sometime, he really will come to right all the things that we’ve done wrong and undo all the hurt we’ve caused and redeem all of creation to himself. And we will groan no more.

the vile beauty of sickness

{original title of “sunny days” led into this:} they actually seem to be quite an oddity this week in Colorado. This is one thing I adore about Denver. Last week, I got sunburnt on Sunday when a friend and I went for a long walk after church. And yesterday? Winter storm warnings that shut down schools and severely inhibited traffic on Monument Pass. Not to mention the awesome thunderstorms with tornado sightings that came in between the two extremes. Colorado: you are bipolar: and I love you.

This week I got sick, we think it was food poisoning or some very fast paced version of the stomach flu. Either way, it was incredibly unfortunate. On Wednesday, I hardly made it through work–but kudos to my parents for raising a tough kid, because I did finish the day and didn’t throw up until right before leaving (and I did make it all the way across the bank to the bathroom. Abs and gag reflex of steel!) I felt a world better afterwards and hopped into my car after a short meeting with my manager and headed on over to Ghena’s. Jonathan was out of town this weeka nd Iw as meant to help with the kids and transportation to soccer games that night. But that on top of the world feeling after vomitting didn’t last long.

At Ghena’s I had only the tiniest bit of pasta with just an itty bit of butter and cheese. An hour later, I was curled up on their big overstuffed chair where I can curl into the fetal position with ease and comfort. I spent the next three hours there, watching Ghena pick up after dinner and shoo the kids to the basement. (soccer was canceled thanks to the lightning and heavy rain mixed with hail) I felt so entirely useless as we talked about the night before in my city group and my “authority issue” which seems to be flaring up quite a bit lately. And we talked about Jason and how I’ve really pissed him off and how I may have the worst communication skills ever known to man and should probably be banned from texting. But we also talked about the people at work that I have come to love and how I’m disappointed but content when God closes doors all around just to keep me at the bank.

The kids came up after they had finished their treatments and movie, and Thad came straight to me in the chair wrapped under the green and blue blanket wishing my stomach would stop doing cartwheels and handsprings. He leaned over the arm of the chair and smiled into my face “Sara, can you read a book?” he asked. I nodded, ever so weakly and sent him and his sister Graecen to fetch something from the shelf. They scampered away, delighted. And then, with my head still resting on the arm of the chair, listening to Ave tell her mum she thought I was falling asleep I watched Eden appear from the hallway with a heating pad. She unwrapped the cord and held it out to me, “Sara, will this make you feel  better?”

I think I could have cried. I think I almost did.

Eden plugged in that plastic little heating pad and helped me tuck it under my blanket just before Graecen and Thad climbed onto the chair with me. She sat on the ottoman and soon Ave joined and then Caedmon came as well. We read through one of my favourite childhood books about Christopher Churchmouse and then something about a big bear just out from hibernation who eats and eats and eats. And they wanted to read more books but they left when I shook my head, afraid that the growing pain in my stomach would soon have me in the bathroom again. Thad just stayed and sat with me in the chair, perfectly content to just “be” with me and [unknowingly] minister to me with his five year old presence.

A little bit later I was in the bathroom again, coughing and dry heaving and crying as the acid burned its way up from my stomach. It was so distgusting* and then it struck me. I’ve been so sinful lately (astonishingly more so than usual) and there are days when it bothers me and days when I don’t really mind. But it should always disgust me, the same way throwing up does. My sin should be made known to me and clarified so that I can see it for what it really is–just like seeing what the inside of my stomach looks like. And then I ought to be willing to go through the process of having it dragged out of me, no matter how painful and humiliating that process may be. And then I can thank God for glorifying himself in cleaning me up–just like I thanked him for how awesome I felt after getting everything out of my system.

There are little graces along the way, as well. There are people like Joy who tell me that it’s okay to be frustrated and it doesn’t have to make sense but I still need to be an adult and treat people with respect whether I deem that they have earned it or not. Sort of like Eden handing me the heating pad with sweet childlike sympathy and not realizing what great mercy she extended in relieving me of my chills at that moment.

I asked Ghena if there’s ever a point where you stop seeing your sin and feel like maybe you are okay. She just started laughing.

And I think that’s okay. It would probably be very dangerous if I was not aware of my jacked up insides that roll around in the muddiness of sin and oft times refuse to be cleansed. I think it’s probably better to be very aware of my sin. As long as I am very aware of God’s grace.

and all this from food poisoning.

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*actually, in some ways, it wasn’t so disgusting to me, probably because I’m just not easily “grossed out.” But it still has that awful conotation that that just came out of me. Ugh, yuck. And it burned? Sick. Yeah, like sin burns holes in people.

Good Friday

O Come and Mourn with me awhile
O come near to the Savior’s side
O come together, let us mourn
Jesus our lord is crucified

Seven times he spoke
Seven words of love
And all three hours, his silence cried
For mercy on the souls of men
Jesus our Lord is crucified

O Love of God O sin of man
In this dread act your strength is tried
And victory remains with love
Jesus our lord is crucified

O break, O break hard heart of mind
My weak self love and guilty pride
His Pilate and his Judas were
Jesus our lord is crucified

O love of god o sin of man
In this dread act your strength is tried
And victory remains in love
Jesus our lord is crucified

O Come and mourn with me awhile
A broken heart a fount of tears
Ask and they will not be denied
A broken heart love’s cradle is
Jesus our Lord is crucified
Jesus our Lord is crucified
Jesus our Lord is crucified
Our Lord is crucified
And victory remains with love
Jesus our lord is crucified
O love of God o sin of man
In this dread act your strength is tried
And victory remains with love
Jesus our lord is crucified