Loss and Gain

Seasons in life are rarely solely about what you think they’re about.

Last August, I had just gotten through my first year of being totally self-employed after eleven years at a salaried job. I left that job to pour my time and effort into the music I create with my husband. When I surrendered my old career, though, I lost a lot more than my salary.

I lost part of my identity as a teacher.

I lost the confidence of knowing how to do my job.

I lost the familiarity of routine.

I lost daily human interaction. 

I lost coworkers to laugh and commiserate with. 

Later that year, I lost harmony with my best friend.

I lost my perception of reality surrounding my family. 

I lost the ability to process all of these changes and stresses myself.

I lost the illusion of success.

I lost my hustle. 

I lost the bubbly parts of my personality.

I lost the feelings of excitement and joy.

I lost the will to get out of bed some mornings. 

When God wants to rebuild your heart, he doesn’t just focus on one part. This renovation went after much more than new paint colors and carpet. It stripped me down to the studs. 

Read More

Island Memories

I’m longing for a place. My island home away from home. It calls to me as it always does when it’s time for me to return. Visions of its beauty and happy memories dance through my mind. It feels so far away. It’s just a small island. I know there are many islands and beaches in this world and frankly it’s gotten way too busy for my taste in recent years, but it’s an old friend to me.
My family has been blessed to return to the same spot for family vacation year after year. Driving across the bridge to the island after a long car ride was always a moment of excitement and joy while actually feeling the cares of the world slip away a little.

Read More

Creativity is Your Heritage

Do not lose sight of who you are, my friend.
Creativity is your heritage by divine nature.
It is not a mood or a muse.
Creativity is not a gift that one may have and not the other.
No. Creativity is foundational to your creation. Just as your life is changed and shaped around the resurrection of Christ, so, is your life, formed and created by the divine Creator.

Read More

Playing in the Dark

There are a number of quarries in and around Knoxville where lanky, dusty men used to blast marble out of the hills before the Depression. In fact, if you read the odd town-centric indie publication here or there, you’ll eventually dig your way into a vein of prose in which some loafered, office-bound journalist will wax poetic about the geological intricacies of East Tennessee’s pink marble. We should all dream so big. In earnest, marble from Mead’s Quarry has made it all the way to New York and the District of Columbia. These old holes in the ground, however, have become the stuff of dreams nowadays. They tend to attract college students and hometown creatures alike to their emerald green waters, beckoning the sweltering and the summer-skinned to the coolness of placid depths. As for myself, though, I go in the deep dark of winter.

Read More

The Bodacious Prophet of Cool

Recently, during my Bible study, I concluded that Elijah was by far one of the coolest prophets of God to walk this planet. Can you imagine standing against an entire kingdom, against the pagan worship leaders, against superior authority that wants you dead, boldy pronouncing their punishment instead? How about openly mocking their pagan worship and failed attempts to prove a false god?

Read More

The Mysteries of Language

“The Tower of Babel by P Bruegel the Elder 051a” by Andras Fulop is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

I can’t understand a word. I like the sound of it, but Turkish is a language far beyond my linguistic acumen. The marks and accents on the vowels and consonants feel familiar, though. I’m visiting North American friends who recently moved to southern Turkey and are currently studying the language, so I ask my friends what languages it’s related to.

A quick Google search gets us our answer. It’s part of the Turkic language family that shows up across Central Asia. Hungarian also carries a significant number of Turkic words. Ah, Hungarian. That’s what it looks like, though it’s missing the identifying “gy” construction I see in so many words there.

As the days go by I start to navigate the words slightly—I learn that the squiggle mark under a “c” turns it to a “ch” sound and that one under an “s” turns it to an “sh.” That there are two versions of the letter “i,” one with a dot and one without. The dot is a long “eee” sound, without is a short “ih” sound. I proudly order a “piliç şiş” a few days later, impressing our waiter and getting myself a chicken shish kabob out of it. My friend had to tell me that “piliç” meant “chick” but I knew how to pronounce it.

I still don’t understand though. I hear over and over in conversation, “Evet, evet,” and I gather that it means, “I see,” or “I understand,” or “I agree,” but I couldn’t tell you the actual translation of the word without using Google—and my phone has no data in this country. So I walk through town in with a strange sort of deafness, hearing sounds, but lacking meaning.

I wonder if this is how it felt when God confused the languages of the builders of the tower of Babel. Suddenly, instead of understanding they simply heard sounds. I remember standing on a train when I visited Poland and thinking the whole language seemed to be made up of the sound “sh,” “ch,” “cz,” and “sz.” I felt like every other word was “checzesheszik.” That’s not a word, by the way.

I can imagine standing there on the tower, my chisel striking off excess stone from the block before me, chatting with my neighbor who’s doing the same work one block over, and then suddenly hearing just, “checzesheszik.”

“Seni anlamıyorum,” I’d reply.

And my neighbor would say, “Nie rozumiem cię.”

And we’d drop our chisels in shock and look around, crying out for just one person to understand us.

There’s something strangely comforting about understanding words when you’ve been surrounded by sounds you can’t understand for days. Hearing your language cut through the cloud of noise and settle on your eardrums with sounds that travel to your brain and translate into meaning. You look about, lock eyes with the other speaker of your language across the train  car, and smile. You’ve found an ally in the wilderness.

I can think of no more effective way of pushing humankind to spread out across the land than confusing their languages. The allies would find each other and then find their way away from the tower, seeking a place where they could hear meaning, not just sound.

My dad likes to say that some people think in the New Creation we’ll all speak one language, but what if instead of that, everyone will speak their own language, but we’ll all understand. I love that picture. I think it echoes Paul’s words to the Corinthian church, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12).

Now I hear in a noise chamber confusedly, but then I’ll hear meaning. Now I understand in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.

Read More