Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday Words & pictures: Come, Go

enjoying a sibling walk around Melody Lake

"Your own growth cannot take place without growth in others. You are part of a body. When you change, the whole body changes. It is very important for you to remain deeply connected with the larger community to which you belong.

It is also important that those who belong to the body of which you are part keep faith in your journey. You still have a way to go, and there will be times when your friends are puzzled or even disillusioned by what is happening to you. At certain moments things may seem more difficult for you than before; they may look worse than when you began. You still have to make the great passage, and that might not happen without a lot of new distress and fear. Through all of this, it is important for you to stay united with the larger body and know that your journey is made not just for yourself but for all who belong to the body.

Think about Jesus. He made his journey and asked his disciples to follow him even where they would rather not go. The journey you are choosing is Jesus' journey, and whether or not you are fully aware of it, you are also asking your brothers and sisters to follow you. Somewhere you already know that what you are living now will not leave the other members of the community untouched. Your choices also call your friends to make new choices."  

-- Henri Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love
(bolded font is my own addition)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday's Hospitality: Come, Unity

first day of school
I've begun saying this homemade blessing with the kids as they go out the door in the morning:
"Go with Jesus; He is with you.  Also, the Father and the Spirit
And all the people praying for you from Christ Church and Union Center
and all our family and friends.
Even the angels and the saints
in heaven are with you.
You are not alone."
I tell them this because I want to remind them they are walking with an invisible company, a Fellowship. I also tell them this because I want them to be prepared to hit the intense emotion of the day, the moments they need to make a decision to hide or to connect, I want them to imagine the presence of this community standing with them in that very moment.  I want this talk of community to settle down deeply into their imaginations, into their souls in the very tangible, daily moments such as these.  To grab onto the intercession of the saints like a zipline plunging into the moment and swinging back up the other side, wind-blown and flip-flopped, maybe, but full of fresh energy, joy, humour, strength.

This is no small hope. This is the hope of our lives, yes?  To know and be known in our daily, walking-around, eating and drinking selves. To be fully alive in the Presence of love.

It occurs to me that hospitality has a rhythm of movement less careening than a zipline, perhaps, but the motion is the same:  take hold warmly to receive, move together in the same direction, and release with a hearty sending out until next time.  Our family has hung on fast to this sort of breathtaking hospitality these past months.  As were driving cross country, our miniature caravan rumbling alongside tractor trailers sharing the highways of the the heartland, there were moments I literally felt like we were being carried, handed over from one community into the next waiting to embrace us.

Sometimes this was tangible, both Brian and I juggling calls and texts from our New York community wrapping up loose ends we had to leave behind and, simultaneously, from our Texas community preparing details for our arrival.  Even in the desolate Arkansas interstate we were joined by this community sharing the experience with us from their places northeast and southwest of us. Texts flying in like a dozen Gabriel visitations.

Company for the road.

Now we unpack boxes and stories, hoping to find a place for everything we carried into this city. We browse furniture stores and faces, choosing soft places to land, pieces and people that fit just right. Company for the everyday. Community for the lonesome. 

Come, unity.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Mixtape: Come, Union

Part of the difficulty in writing these past months is that every sentence I start to write is connected to so many crumpled up, tangled up threads of thought, feeling, learning.  You could maybe think of it as an emotional hairball.  I've decided to give myself permission to just pick at threads here for awhile.  Perhaps, over time a lovely pattern will emerge -- an aha! I can write out in essay form.  

This week I'm picking up the thread of our human need for companionship, company, communion.  As my friend Brett titled a new poem: Come, union.  In our lives right now this is almost as stark a need as our hunger for daily bread.  Not only in the obvious sense of moving away from deeply-loved friends and making new deeply-loved friends, but also in the way we're being welcomed into a new communion in an Anglican church rather than our previous evangelical non-denominational church.  Learning  in current devotional reading the Jesus who came to eat and drink with people.  The Jesus who invites us into the throneroom of our Father.  Who links us together in an invisible intercessory community.  The Jesus who knows us and Spirit who helps us know the each others God our Creator intended in the first place.

track 1:  visual art

Kitchen Maid with the Supper of Emmaus  Diego Velazquez, 1617-18
National Gallery of Dublin

I read about this painting in the final chapter of A Meal With Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community and Mission Around the Table by Tim Chester.  I'm hoping to write more about that book later this week.  I'm intrigued by this perspective of the post-Resurrection meal Jesus shared, incognito, with two disciples.  They did not know Him, but He certainly knew them.  He knew them so well, their hearts beat faster like a jumping flame.  Velazquez' image of the servant makes me think she, perhaps, recognized Messiah -- even though she is not invited to the table.  I plan to study this one for awhile.

track 2: mix tape

Standalone player

track 3: poem

My friend Brett wrote this poem for an upcoming service at Union Center Christian Church.  I'm sharing it with you here by his permission.  Before I even had the chance to read the poem, I was captivated by the title he chose.  He graciously allowed me to share not only the poem, but the title as my theme for this week.  Thank you, Brett!

Come, Union

Oh Lord, we need a table
Where all of us can come
Where the ground is all made even
and we are all made one

for life has struck and made us bleed
And we are drowning in our need
But I am stained by God's blood -- not my own
And it stains me whiter than I have ever known

So many orphans of your body
So much blood in the cup
Oh catch me, catch me quickly, Lord
I long to be caught up

Oh Lord, we need a table
That feeds us out the door
Where we are drawn together
And shown what we are for

For like this loaf, we are torn apart
And like this cup, poured out our heart
Our body is torn and riven our soul
Hang it on your broken frame and, Jesus, make us whole
Come, union, make us whole

So much thirst and hunger
So many given up
Oh send me and equip me, Lord
I long to be your cup

        -- Brett Alan Dewing

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Austin, nice to meet you, week 1

Friday is for New Finds will be consumed with learning Austin for the foreseeable future. Consider yourself warned!

Last weekend Andrew turned 20.  Yes, you heard me correctly...TWENTY!  Can you even imagine being as young as me and having a twenty-year-old son?  Since within the week of his birthday we'd moved cross-country and into our new home in Austin, we hadn't really planned anything for him.  Here's where living in a funky city comes in super handy.  All we had to do was ask him what he'd like to do with the family on a Friday night downtown.  And, then, we just hop into the car and drive the 10 minutes up the road.  Pretty simple!

Turns out Drew can create a pretty perfect Friday-night Austin itinerary.  Thought you might enjoy for yourself

1.  6:00 pm, dinner at an Austin favorite cafe, Magnolia Cafe.

From the Magnolia website:  "Fresh food cooked with passion in a comfortable setting, kind of like your favorite aunt's giant kitchen, if she had one. Open 24/8."  For the record, I had the Voodoo Blue Cheese Burger and it was delicious!  Also, the iced tea was perfect and the service excellent.

2.  7:30, wait on the Congress Avenue bridge for the nightly departure of 1.5 MILLION Mexican free-tail bats from under the bridge into the Austin skyline. By the way,  I called the bat hotline (yes, you heard that correctly) to find out what time to expect them to put on their show.  

their bat pose
We're told that from the months of March to November, this seemingly ordinary city bridge houses the largest urban bat colony in North America.  They leave their daytime sleeping quarters and forage for dinner, about ten to thirty-thousand POUNDS of bugs.  Between the fun tourist attraction they offer and the free pest control, maybe bats should be the city's mascot instead of longhorns?  Based on all the bat-shaped memorabilia around I'm thinking some people just went ahead and made that decision on their own.

 I really wasn't certain I'd be able to watch this flapping procession, so compromised by videotaping it instead of just watching.  Unfortunately, there's some kind of glitch that's keeping me from posting the video and my still shots aren't very clear.

Even with my squeamishness, this was an amazing sight to behold and I'm so glad Andrew talked me into going.  

After watching the smoke-like columns of bats fly into the horizon, we turned around on the bridge and saw this.  

3.  Shopping on South Congress. 

So many quirky, delicious, delightful shops.  Unfortunately several were closed by the time we got there (really, Austin?  on a Friday night?) but we found these wonders all the same.

New Bohemia Retro Resale 

Big Top Candy Shop

My kids after a Friday night in Austin:

Can't wait to come back to this store when it's open.  Yes, that's a cowboy riding a rabbit.  Keep Austin weird, right?

Also, you really can't beat living in a town where the residents dispense good will like this, can you??

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Home is Here

   But the places that used to fit me / Cannot hold the things I've learned
 And those roads closed off to me / While my back was turned 
                                                            -- Sara Groves, "Painting Pictures of Egypt"

Binghamton skyline (photo credit: Kirsten Reynolds)

Austin skyline

I'm realizing one of the largest obstacles to getting settled in our new city.  A fierce, quite likely  misplaced, sense of loyalty to our NY friends.  It's kind of embarrassing to admit, sounds a bit juvenile even.  Sort of like when you lose a beloved pet and people ask too soon if you're going to replace it with a new one.  Or when you trap ask your husband whether or not he'd remarry if you died.  It's that kind of feeling.

Of course, mourning is real.  We're definitely mourning around here.  Unpredictable bouts of weeping pop up here and there.  They don't last too long, but they are intense.  Still we are convinced that we are where we are supposed to be, that we've thrown our lot in with a good group of people.  Plus, we love it here.  We love the house, the city, the job, the church, the people.  Kids don't really love the schools, but that's not really anything too new.  

Somehow I'd never heard this Sara Groves song until this past week.  It's a perfect description of the tension we're living in.  When this new job for Brian was still pending, we often described to people that we'd be heartbroken if we found we had to move and heartbroken if we found out we had to stay.  You could look at that as a win-win.  Or you could look at it the other way.  Around here, it just depends on the day.  

Sea bass and General Tso's in Endwell, NY

Enchiladas in Austin

I don’t want to leave here
I don’t want to stay
It feels like pinching to me either way
The places I long for the most
Are the places where I’ve been
They are calling after me like a long lost friend

Lovely friends cleaning out our NY house

Lovely friends setting up our TX kitchen

It’s not about losing faith
It’s not about trust
It’s all about comfortable
When you move so much

The place I was wasn’t perfect
But I had found a way to live
It wasn’t milk or honey
But then neither is this

Family prayer for strength and courage in NY

Family prayer for strength and courage in TX

The past is so tangible I know it by heart
Familiar things are never easy to discard
I was dying for some freedom

But now I hesitate to go
Caught between the promise
And the things I know

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wednesday Words & Pictures: Home

"For each home ground we need new maps, living maps, stories and poems, photographs and paintings, essays and songs. We need to know where we are, so that we may dwell in our place with a full heart."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Mix Tape: Home

Eleven days we've lived in Austin, six days we've lived in our new (rental) house.  Six days of nesting on steroids.  Is that even possible?  When we moved in I was on a self-imposed deadline of the first day of school for the kids to have a cushy launching pad when they go out out and land back in at the end of the day.  With the grace of God and the elbow-grease of Christ Church's very own tribe of horse-bee-angel people, our house feels like home.  Ahhhhh......

I'll post some pictures throughout the week, but today leave you with a mixtape of favorite inspiration on the theme of Home.

track 1:  art

Kristen Wulff, This is Home project
I purchased the set of postcards curated for this project and
 haven't been able to mail this one out to even my mother!
  I think I'll stick it on the fridge instead.

track 2:  mix tape

Standalone player

track 3:  poem  (in the form of song lyrics this week)

Tender Mending
Brooke Waggoner

We nailed a bunch of pictures onto the walls
Wiped off all the kitchen counter tops
Lit a lot of candles on the table outside
To show our happy guests that we were happy inside

We vacuumed up the carpets and we mopped up the floors
Dusted off the shelves and had the sofa restored
Stocked the freezer full of food and drink for our friends
Told the next door neighbors they'd be gone after ten
They'd be gone after ten, gone after ten, gone after ten

We nailed a bunch of pictures onto the walls
Wiped off all the kitchen counter tops
Oh and we lit a lot of candles on the table outside
To show our happy guests that we were happy inside
Oh we were happy inside

track 4:  family photo
Last night we had our first company to celebrate Andrew's 20th birthday.
"We just met each other and we're already best friends.  We didn't even have to ask!"  -- Bronwyn, age 6

Monday, August 15, 2011

Murphys Take Austin: settling in, a photo diary

[a guest post by Natalie Murphy]

This was our first glimpse. IT was so exciting to look out the window and say
 "Look! There's  our city!"

I will never forget this moment!

The Friesens are such amazing hosts! Staying at their house is like staying a  hotel!
 They've blessed us so much, thank God for the Friesens!
The Capitol of Texas, more stars then you could find in the sky!

Dinner at The Warners is one of my favorite things we've done in Austin so far.
 The Warners made us delicious enchiladas and they made us laugh, cry,
 and show our truest selves! It was a great night!

Annie (in her PJs and a Tu-Tu right after a visit to the ER due to a toy part stuck up her nose) enjoys some creamy jalapeno at Chuy's, a beloved TexMex restaurant! 

      Enjoying a game of "Spot It" with some other teens from Christ Church.
 Mrs. Friesen worked very hard to set up a "Meet n' Greet" which was very successful!

                  So apparently even squirrels suffer from the extreme Texas heat too!
 We thought this little guy was dying, but he was just 'chilling!' (: 
          Kendra and I were SO happy to receive Aunt JoAnn's cookies!
 I had at least 4 or 5 on the spot! Thanks Aunt J!

                    The Texas state capitol building was such a cool place to see!
 I would most definitely recommend a trip there if you're ever in the area.
              The gorgeous Texas capitol building made from good ol' Texas granite! 

         Exploring Whole Foods!
 It was so much fun to enjoy all the smells and sights with the Friesens!

       The shopping cart escalator at Whole Foods.

      The Friesens treated us to some yummy treats at Yo-way Frozen Yogurts!
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