Wednesday, June 20, 2012

picture poetry: near & dear

 - a weekend in photos -

a tasteful predicament
I don't know about all y'all, but I love spicy food.  Like when the sauce bottle cautions, "Use one drop at a time." No, really.  (If you've ever had Dave's Gourmet Total Insanity, you know what I'm talking about.  If you think that stuff hurts going in...).  Whether it's salsa, sauce, or some other form of the blessed kick, spicy shows up on a daily basis in my diet.  Great, right?


That all changes when your taste buds grow - and I'm not talking about developing a pansy-er palate as you get older.  I mean, something is wrong and they swell to three times their normal size.  Your tongue hurts and every taste is amplified.  You can still taste what you ate last Thursday for your mid-morning snack kind of amplified.  You never knew that dish you are currently masticating does not, in fact, comprise ONE flavor, but thirty-four - and now you can identify each of them.

As an individual unfortunately prone to cold sores for the past couple years (apparently people in the U.S. start getting them when they hit age 20), I am used to taking a collective month-long fast from spicy foods each year (acids/spicy food exacerbate symptoms).  This past week, however, has been a novel adventure.  Yes, I have a cold sore... but no, this is not the typical experience.  My tongue looks like it's a petri dish of pink warts (too grotesque? sorry...), and needless to say, my regular consumption of spicy foods has been drastically altered.  I've waited it out a while, but recently I've decided to get others' opinions:

Mom:  "Oh, Sara, you better get that checked out."
Christian:  "Whoa, sweet."
Dad:  "Buck up."
Dentist:  "I'm not alarmed."
Internet:  absolutely nothing helpful

Although these sources have been largely unhelpful, I have learned that enlarged taste buds are probably the result of the same things that spike cold sores: stress, heat, tiredness, eating spicy foods, etc.  I tend to get pretty severe cold sores, so the taste bud weirdness is probably part of the package.  Ugh.  Hopefully these puppies cool down soon.  Seriously.  This whole being-burned-by-mild-salsa thing is killing me.

In the meantime, given the probable causes, I think I have ample argument to go sleep in a nice, air conditioned room.  For a long time.  And have ice cream when I wake up.  Eh? :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

a few of my favorite things...

You are a kindred spirit if you just started humming Maria's song from The Sound of Music.

Anyway.  (I hate segues...).

I find myself making wishes a lot.  Like, a lot a lot.  In light conversation, in joking with friends, in deep contemplation:

I wish I were a better dancer.
I wish this person would shut up.
I wish money weren't an issue.
I wish there were more time.
I wish I were prettier.
I wish things had happened differently.
I wish this person would just listen to me.
I wish they would care.
I wish I wouldn't procrastinate.
I wish God would do this or that.

Perhaps not the wishes of fairy tales, but these are ones I find myself making - daily - nonetheless.  Every now and again life shakes you up a little and lets you think... and it is interesting (slash frightening) what you find.  There are a great many things I take for granted, and I am just beginning to realize the sheer enormity of those undeserved blessings.  And my poor stewardship thereof.  Unfortunately, my daily wishes display my constant craving for all I lack (or fail to do) - always looking outside, reaching out to grab and take... rather than looking at my own wealth of blessings to see how graciously rich I am.  What a selfish punk.

Truth time.  It's at this point that I stop reading a lot of people's grateful soliloquies, because the message is the same - gratitude, blarty blar blar - and I am well aware that our gracious God is the one to be thanked.  Their blessings are important to them, and I am happy for them, but unless I am intimately connected to that person, their blessings have little personal value to me.  (Callous, I know.  Resist the urge to throw stones).

More than that though, I think my eyes glaze over because blessings are a heavy thing.  They aren't gifts forked over to gratify our ridiculously selfish tendencies.  While blessings often bring us pleasure, they are not items given solely to please us.  And just saying, "Gee, thanks, God," in a blog really does not mean much.

Blessings are the gifts God entrusts to us: they reflect his loving kindness and they are meant to multiply.

God demonstrates his love in many ways, but one of the most readily recognizable is in his blessings to us.  They are every variety of his realized grace (the senses, relationships, intellect, community, material possessions, talents, etc.).  Unfortunately, we tend to perceive only those that appeal at the moment, and they usually end up on shelves, collecting dust - whether they be Precious Moments figurines, Great Aunt Ruth, or a natural knack for playing the didgeridoo.

Blessings require stewardship.  And yeh, stewardship means work.  It means trust.  It means investing wisely, cultivating talents, taking time, sharing with others.  It means a new mindset and it means lifestyle change.

Big responsibility.  Fortunately, as Gospel people, we know that we can't do this alone.  God helps.  It's like a dance: the Holy Spirit holds us, leads, teaches, and picks us up when we fall on our rears.  But we are an active part of that dance.  Trust, invest, cultivate.  Make effort.  God has blessed us with the grace to do those things.  So do them!

I'm preaching to myself more than anything... but this has been on my mind a lot lately.  You know that part about life shaking things up and provoking contemplation?  I thought some very precious things were going to be taken away from me recently... things that would profoundly affect my life.  And it is amazing how startlingly you remember the value they hold when they are taken away.  Fortunately, God is a God of second chances... and third and fourth, etc... (you have no idea how much prayer has happened in this vein lately).  All the blessings that I have and that have been taken away have poignantly acquainted me with the great big reality of God.  His love.  His unending grace.

And with the fact that selfishness sucks.  Why be full of myself when God is offering to fill me with him?

You know what?  I don't want to wish anymore.  I don't need to wish anymore.  (Ha, I almost began listing my blessings... I'll spare you since you didn't throw stones earlier).  Suffice it to say that the blessings I have overwhelm the begeezers out of me.  Believe me, wishes are completely unnecessary.  In fact, instead of wishing, I have begun praying instead... it helps with perspective.  And it means lots of chatting with the big man.

God is... amazing.  And I am so glad he loves us.


Well, this post started with that title from The Sound of Music because I thought I would reflect on a few things I like.  Blessings, if you will.  Guess I'll save that for another time.  When you don't have stones.

Thanks for listening, friend.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

wishful thinking...

Ah, how I miss listening to choirs at school.  So glad I get to go back one more year...

choir in st. gregory’s

how does harmonic fabric weave?

what wheel spins the polyphonic threads
that gild this cloth of sound?

rhythmic shuttle humming -
sacred yarn fills
the hollow of my mouth,
weaves upon a choral loom -

a florid tapestry
draped across cathedral walls,
cascading down the vibrant glass -

voix celeste sews its needle through my flesh
and i am hemmed by euphony,
echoed in suspension of time -

swaddles the ear
of my soul.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

sweaty poetry and logophilic tendencies

Math is sweaty poetry.

It makes your brain feel like how your muscles do after you've had an intense work-out.  Super productive; super pooped.  Think brain cells with a sweatband.  Perspiration between the ears.  No regrets.

The numbers click together like cogs of a clock: tk-tk-tk-tk.  Predictable, obedient, gratifying.  A puzzle coming together in the mind.  Successfully evaluating an equation is a feeling of satisfaction so supreme it makes me salivate.  No, really.

Thoroughly sweaty.  Thoroughly poetic.

So, that's essentially my way of conceding that perhaps I was a little dramatic yesterday.

Okay, done conceding.

Fun fact:  I like being clean much more than I like being sweaty.

So, let's dispense with the numbers and talk about words.  Yay.  I was just browsing my most beloved website - you got it - and delighting in a few particular favorites.  Words attract me for a variety of reasons:

Some feel like water flowing over your ears.  Musical.  Like French.
Some are just plain weird.
Some stack up in your mouth just right.  And then jumble out in a pretty mess.
Some have poignant meanings.  Original.  Fascinating.
Some are simply awesome.

In one way or another, they gratify the little logophile in me.  May I share that with you?  Would you humor me?  Take a moment to traverse a lexical topography foreign to the common English addle-pate?  Yay!  Here are a few favorites (all definitions from

amanuenses - a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another; secretary
aplomb - imperturbable self-possession, poise, or assurance
bollix - to do (something) badly; bungle
flibbertigibbet - a chattering or flighty, light-headed person
halcyon - calm; peaceful; tranquil
perspicacity - keenness of mental perception and understanding; discernment; penetration
prodigious - extraordinary in size, amount, extent, degree, force, etc.
querulous - full of complaints; complaining
sesquipedalian - (of a word) containing many syllables; (of a person) given to using long words
surfeit - excess; an excessive amount

Wasn't that refreshing?  Entertaining?  Gratifying?

Thank you for humoring me, friend.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

a woeful epistle

Alas!  Dear Friend,

Perhaps it is the kindred spirit of dear Anne of Green Gables rattled to wake in me a speech utterly dramatic (I may or may not have spent an hour reading just now...), but nevertheless, I am afflicted sorely with recently felt and soon-to-come woes.  O awful pang!

Shall I number my misfortunes?  Please, do dam thy tears:

I am a most miserable Irish set dancer.  Indeed, graceful motion alone seems to elude me.  How terribly dreadful! You would imagine that out of my six feet and half inch, some part of me might want to cooperate with another, but - alas! - it is hopeless.  More than that though - how dearly I wish to be Irish!  Even in my imagination!  But when one has not red hair (Anne, be happy!), nor Gaelic tongue, nor feet of an Irish dancer, what can be done but to succumb most despairingly to one's own fate?  I thought perhaps taking a class this summer might cure me of my clumsy malady, but as the mirrors in Dance Room 301 so brutally honestly showed last night (my first class), my future remains bleak and ever so American.

When one finds despair in a particular corner of life, often he or she copes by finding joy in another, no?  Words provide such hopeful solace for my wilted soul, and so naturally, I turned to to browse my favorite words (no, really... I'm not being facetious on this point).  What greeted me but this story flashing across the home page: "Obscure language isolate will die with this woman."  A language?  Dying?  It happens all the time - and it is occurring with greater force every day as people learn global languages - but how sad it is!  This particular language is called Kusunda; not only is it moribund (worse than endangered - no kids speak it), but also isolate (meaning that it is not related to any other spoken language).  At any rate, this story dampened further my already drenched spirits.

And lastly, I have little joy for which I may hope in the near future, as tonight I begin my first math class in four years.  Granted, it is only a summer course in college algebra, and I honestly do not find mathematics to be the dismal plague I so often describe them to be - in fact, math was once a favorite subject of mine... but where the open wound of my wearied heart craves the salve of sesquipedalian locution, poetic verse, and vibrant musical tones, it is slathered with a coarse cream indeed: sharp points of rigid numbers and dryness of exact measurement.  How tragical!  What hope can sustain me?

Friend, it is a pity to lay my griefs upon you so heavily now in our brief acquaintance - do please find it within yourself to forgive me.  Thank you.  Thank you ever so much for your patient ear and sympathetic visage.  It heartens me.  I can now surrender myself to the grave - or math class - content to know that I went with a speech most romantic.  I am ever eternally, gratefully yours,


Monday, June 4, 2012

a bit about me

I suppose it would be appropriate now to learn a little more about each other, eh?  You could look at my profile and get the gist of me, but here's the slightly more extended edition:

My name is Sara without an "h."  Like the opposite of Anne with an "e."

photo credit:  Jody Gerling

I live in the gently rolling hills of the Midwest United States, in a virtual garden that is my home.  Flowers, fields, trees, a river... this is the stuff of stories, folks.

My best friends happen also to be my family.  Mom, Dad, brother Christian.  And my English Shepherd Abby and her herd of our five cats.

photo credit:  Jody Gerling

Travel is an integral part of life.  Dad's conferences end up taking us from coast to coast and beyond (moreso when I was younger... unfortunate how college changes that), consequently whetting an insatiable appetite in me to roam the earth.

I love rain.  And hazelnut coffee.

College studies have captivated my (mostly) rapt attention for the past four years as I have explored everything from medicine to music to theology to education.  It's a long story.  I am now going into my fifth (and last!) year of my undergraduate education, finally settled into pursuing majors in Parish Music and English.  I am a happy camper.

Words and music.  That essentially sums up my artsy interests.  I also am unforgivably fond of photography.

I am a sucker for languages.  Especially Hebrew.

At this point I could easily pour out an infinite number of gooey-isms about loving friends and cherishing time with them - which would all be truer than true - but I shall refrain.  You are my friend now.  And because you are my friend, I want to share what is most important to me.  The one element I simply cannot live without:


Yes, central to and definitive of my existence is this guy.  I am a baptized, saved, forgiven child of the triune God.

What about you?  Beliefs, stories, interests?  Tell me, friend.  I want to hear.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

the birth of a blog


Yes, that was my entry into the blogosphere.  Good evening, and nice to meet you.

I've been thinking about first impressions lately, especially as I have contemplated the birth of a blog, and I have concluded that... I should stop thinking about it.  And just write.

This blog is meant to be a conversation with a friend.  With you.  Whether we are feeling witty, poetic, thoughtful, or just plain blah, I want to talk to you.  I want to hear what you have to say.

I have found that - amidst laughing, crying, sharing - it is in conversations with people I care about that God tends to reveal some of his most profound truths and realize his love most powerfully.  They teach me more than a college curriculum could ever could.

So let's share writing, humor, anecdotes, recipes, geek-out moments, dreams, lessons, encouragement... yes?  Cool.  I like that.

Nice to meet you.  I'm Sara.  Let's chat.