Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I can't wait.

I’m back in my little corner next to the window in my dear 61 Coffeehouse. There’s a spicy chai latte to the right of my computer, and I’m typing this on Word because apparently it’s not picking up the signal. Bah.

This afternoon at 3:15 C shouted from across the hall at work, “Hannah!”

“Yes?!” Maybe I said this too eagerly. See, I was only reading Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad—the same book I’ve been reading for about a month now. It's just been a long time since C, or anyone, had called my name, expecting me to jump to attention. I jumped happily.

“D needs you to look at something and tell her what’s going on.”

So I nearly skipped down the hall to D’s office. My hopes of being productive were crushed [for a moment] because her question was answered by scrolling to the left in the Excel document. That was too, too easy. But then—joy!—she had a question. A question about a gage I needed to answer!

I went back to my office to try to figure it out, but it turned out to be a little more complicated than I had time to finish. You know what that means?
I have work tomorrow.


Okay, I think I probably over-dramatized this little story. But one of the themes this summer has been doing nothing. (I told a friend, though, that I have been so thankful that my worth is in CHRIST, not in the things I do. Praise Him!)

I’ve done very little at work (although when I have done stuff, even menial engineering tasks that I barely understand, I have loved it! It’s been lots of fun to learn stuff I know little about.)

I haven’t accomplished any “projects” (although that was intentional. I realized that last summer I spent my time almost exclusively working on “projects” and barely any time with people or in the community.)

I have read a total of 3.5 books, which is a record LOW for my college summers, and I’ve been on the same book (mentioned above) for over four weeks.

I’ve been helping out at this daycare a couple of days every week after work, but it doesn’t seem like I’ve really built any meaningful relationships, which (to be honest) kind of was the goal—to learn and to talk with people who live in a totally different culture. I’ve learned some, and I’ve listened some, and I’ve had a lot of fun with the kids (and also been stressed out about my future in child-rearing one day) but my conversations are surface-deep.

One of 3.5 books I read this summer was Open Friendship in a Closed Society, by Peter Slade (and focusing on Mississippi). It was SO GOOD. I don’t really like reading people’s passionate summaries about books I haven’t read, so I’ll keep it to a minimum, but it was all about Community Development… with a bit of a twist. Intentional friendships between black people and white people. (That is, becoming friends with someone because she is black.) Does that sound weird? Jane Shibley would probably think so because she grew up in a place where race is not an issue. But in Mississippi, IT IS. Still. Here’s the thing (nothing new). We, the church, are called to be the whole body of Christ. We hear all the time about Christ being IN ALL THINGS, like communities and cultures.

Speaking generally, this means that even cultures that seem strange or backward, and even cultures where Christianity is totally foreign (or even hated), Jesus has not forsaken.

Speaking specifically in Mississippi, this means that we are to LOVE people who have a different skin color. And what’s more than that: we are to work hard to learn about their culture, and see what God has been doing, and learn from it.

It isn’t actually that natural. And I haven’t been doing a very good job. I have a feeling this is because my prayers are sporadic at best. I’ve been trying to do it on my own.

I hate these realizations, especially at the end of a season.


So what have I been doing?

I kicked off the summer with a bang by going to Jordan with a group from Covenant. Interested? Here's the album, complete with very thorough captions (because I've yet to put it on facebook):
Jordan and Israel

I’ve been spending loads of time with my parents. For most of the summer, Emily and Daniel were working at camp. Daniel has been back for two weeks. Almost every Wednesday, whoever is available has come here, to 61. (You’ll notice it’s Wednesday now.) Last Wednesday, we had a brief photo shoot.

I’ve been scurrying back and forth between Chattanooga and Vicksburg as much as I can (three times) to see a handsome fellow there. I even named my car “Sherman” after the general who made that trip infamous. Haha. Last weekend, that same handsome fellow (not Gen. Sherman) returned the favor!

I’ve been hanging out with the high school crowd at my church.
I've been working a bit on a cheap dresser, attempting to make it apartment-bedroom-presentable.
I thought I taught Sugar (our family dog) how to lay down, but it turns out Daniel taught that trick to her months ago. But nobody knew about it, so we were all shocked when she did it on command. Darn.
I have set up a google account (finally!) complete with google reader subscriptions, so since I get a feed from, I now know what's going on around the US.
I've had a dozen minor meltdowns regarding WHAT IN THE WORLD I'M GOING TO DO AFTER I GRADUATE. Those have become less frequent, blessfully.

I can't wait to move back to Lookout Mountain SOON. But I can, and I will.

I can't count how many times I've said those three words this summer.

I can't wait.


Monday, December 6, 2010


People blog a lot more in the summer.

Unless they are not in school, or living somewhere cool like Jane Travis.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Friends and Embroidering


by Edna St. Vincent Millay
(first published in The St. Nicholas League when she was around eighteen, but more recently in The Essays of E.B. White, which is where I found this little piece waiting for me.)

I. He

I've sat here all the afternoon, watching her busy fingers send
That needle in and out. How soon, I wonder, will she reach the end?
Embroidery! I can't see how a girl of Molly's common sense
Can spend her time like that. Why, now--just look at that! I may be dense,
But, somehow, I don't see the fun in punching lots of holes down through
A piece of cloth; and, one by one, sewing them up. But Molly'll do
A dozen of them, right around
That shapeless bit of stuff she's found.
A dozen of them! Just like that!
And think it's sense she's working at.
But then, she's just a girl (although she's quite the best one of the lot)
And I'll just have to let her sew, whether it's foolishness or not.

II. She

He's sat here all the afternoon, talking about an awful game;
One boy will not be out till June, and then he may be always lame.
Foot-ball! I'm sure I can't see why a boy like Bob--so good and kind--
Wishes to see poor fellows lie hurt on the ground. I may be blind,
But somehow, I don't see the fun. Some one calls, "14-16-9";
You kick the ball, and then you run and try to reach a white chalkline.
And Bob would sit right there all day
And talk like that, and never say
A single word of sense; or so
It seems to me. I may not know.
But Bob's a faithful friend to me. So let him talk that game detested,
And I will smile and seem to be most wonderfully interested.

Seriously, who can't relate to this poem?! I love it!

As for the little images along the way, you guessed it! This is the progress I've made with my "projects" this summer. Hannah the Hedgehog is completely finished. April the Alligator's embroidery is complete, and all that remains is sewing the pieces together and stuffing it. Jane the Jellyfish only lacks her mouth now (I did the eyes after I took the picture.) so she's almost finished, too. All that's left is dear Bethany the Butterfly. And no worries. She will get done. I have a whole week-plus left! Soon, all of these animal pals will be hanging out on our apartment couch together.
And their namesakes will be too. That is what I am most excited about.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Procrastination. Bah!

If I had blogged this past weekend as I had planned to, I would have entitled this post "Philadelphia #2 of the Week!" or something like that. Since I procrastinated, however, I can't say that honestly. I haven't been to any Philadelphia this week... Oh well! I can tell you about it anyway. :)

Every year, hundreds of people migrate to Philadelphia, MS, for the week-long Neshoba County Fair. They come in trailers, campers, pick-up trucks, and cars of all sorts to set up camp for the festivities. Many, many of these people have come every year since childhood. It's just one of those things you do.

Alleys of the fairgrounds are lined with colorfully painted cabins. From what I understand, the real estate for these cabins is intense, and they are very expensive (especially since they are "vacation homes" you only use at most two weeks of the year). I don't think people are allowed to build anymore, so oftentimes the cabins are passed down from generation... or at least the property is. Most are two-storied, with a big kitchen and living area downstairs, and sleeping room for up to 20 people upstairs! Wild!!

And all of them have big ol' porches for the masses to sit and hang out and chill in the heat. With an atmosphere like this, it's no wonder it's nicknamed "Mississippi's Giant Houseparty"! Walking down the dusty, lit-up alleys is pretty magical for an innocent outsider like me.

Of course, the Neshoba County Fair isn't just about the cabins and campers. There are a few rides and food booths, too. As far as rides and things go, I'd prefer the Jackson State Fair, but the State Fair doesn't have horse races or chair races! Ha!

We had three main reasons for going to the fair on Friday afternoon: first, our dear friends from church, the Warrens', go every year with their camper, and we wanted to see them; second, we were going to Philadelphia anyway to see family on Saturday; third, there was a concert! Haha! Country singer/songwriter Phil Vassar was performing, and he was actually good!

I'm not a huge fan of country music (that is, I don't listen to it on the radio) but I used to be, so I knew most of his songs. And sometimes it's just one of those fun indulgences, you know? Country music equals summer, and Phil Vassar's concert on the Neshoba County Fair horse racing track was just what you picture summer in Mississippi to be -- hot and dusty, with people sitting in metal lawn chairs waving paper fans frantically, listening to upbeat country music about girls and life and hanging out. It was a pretty family-friendly environment, but it still had a bit of that frat-party-meets-family-reunion feel.

I like the juxtaposition of the bright lights and the old-fashioned "...County Fair Assn." sign in this picture. :)

Saturday was spent with family. Oh, how I love them! After our continental breakfast at the Holiday Inn, we made our way over to Mom's Aunt Peggy and chatted with her for an hour or so. Then we headed over to Williams Brothers, a local Philadelphia grocery/clothing/shoe store that's been around for ages.

Here's a picture of the hustle-and-bustle around the bacon and cheese cutting area. It's fun to watch. :)

George Road is named for my relatives! Yeah! Let me tell you, it was so much fun hanging out with Uncle Robert and Aunt Coweela and second-cousins Mike and Diane. And we had some goood food, too! Mmm...

To wrap up our weekend away, we dined at Newk's with my cousin and her husband who live in Clinton, and then went to see my great-aunt in the same town! Seriously, I love my family. I wish I could retell some of the stories second-cousin-something-removed Mike told us, but those retellings--especially written in blogs--never have quite the same effect.

Also, I wish I could give a more profound analysis of the Neshoba County Fair, but being outsiders as we are, and unfamiliar with customs and attitudes, anything I said would be mere assumptions.

Now! I have only 12 days before I go back to school... and only TEN days till Jane Shibley makes a brief appearance in Mississippi!! Hooray!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Embracing south... Jersey?

Ahh... I love vacation.

I love getting away from work, seeing new things, spending time with family, and all of the usual reasons why people love vacation. I love flying, using airplane bathrooms, and packing everything I need in a carry-on bag. I love having extra time to read and being free to go out for ice cream every evening.

This particular vacation was a bit unorthodox, because for the first time, it was only a partial family summer vacation. Mom and Emily weren't able to come! (Although last summer the rest of my family came to visit me in Yellowstone... so it was partial to them.) Em had her big state swim meet, unbeknownst to Mom and Dad when Dad made the flight arrangements. Anyway, it felt a little strange, and we missed them very much, but we were definitely able to have some adventures of our own!

This is one of those just for fun pictures.
I read "The Sun Also Rises" as the sun actually rises (but all you can see is the bright morning sunlight...ha!)

Doing the tourist thing in Philly. You know, the Libery Bell and stuff.

Dad and Daniel pose as a Signer.

Ever since I saw the movie back in 8th grade, I have wanted to see this statue! It's not at the top of the stairs anymore, but I love it. What a cultural icon!

After running up the stairs to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Daniel and I do our versions of his victory punch. The funny thing about this picture is that about 30 seconds later -- after I suggested that Daniel and I race down the stairs, and he beats me, of course -- I have crumpled to the ground from the pain of a sprained ankle!! Ahh! The rest of Wednesday was quite painful, but by Thursday afternoon I could almost walk normally! Seriously, I was praising God for the fast healing. It definitely had the potential to ruin a vacation.

These are the steps up the Barnagut Lighthouse on Long Beach Island, NJ. Our final destination was not Philly or the Lighthouse (believe it or not, we did not travel from Mississippi to New Jersey for a lighthouse!) but Harvey Cedars Bible Conference. Dad worked there for three summers in high school, and it was so fun to see his old stompin' grounds.
(However, we did travel the 3 or 4 miles to said lighthouse and the tip of the island 4 times in the two days we were there. This is trip #1.)

Chewed-up crab with his shadow on the jetty.

Trip #2. Fantastic sunset. Oh my goodness.
Favorite picture of the vacation, no doubt.

Time #3. Finally! You see the lighthouse! It was pretty fun to hop from big rock to big rock, but it was a little difficult with the still-sprained-and-swollen ankle.

My brother is silly.

I learned several things on this vacation.
First, my dad is absolutely incredible. I definitely knew that before, but this is one of those trips I'm gonna remember for always, for real. He and Daniel both were so kind and patient when I sprained my ankle from stupidity. On Wednesday night, after Daniel and I were both washed up and in bed, Dad went to the nearest Wal-Mart to get some Advil and an ankle brace for me. Also, his summer vacation was not with his beloved wife (their anniversary was our travel day on Sunday), but with two of his silly kids who have a tendency to fuss and tease excessively (all in love, of course) -- not quite the ideal. Dad is always patient and always loving, and I am so, so thankful that God has given me such an awesome earthly daddy.

Second, I am extremely prideful. I am prideful of my slender ankles (the left of which has swollen to a rather unattractive circumference) and of my "knowledge" of the Scriptures. The first has already been explained; the latter was evidenced in the evening sessions of Harvey Cedars. I'm pretty sure the speaker wasn't reformed, and I found my self constantly examining what he said to see if it lines up with my worldview and the reformed doctrine. I am so helpless, even in understanding good things! I just had to keep remembering that the Spirit uses these things to teach me Truth and to humble me, and I prayed a lot to focus on the heart of the matter, rather than my sinful, created distractions. And you know what? I did learn something. It was good to be reminded of those essentials of the faith (like the Holy Spirit!).

SO! All in all, a delightful vacation.
And now, I cannot believe that I have only 14 work days till I'm back at school.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sunflower fields forever

This weekend has been one of intense driving. Okay... driving for Mom, riding for me. Yesterday after getting off work early, the two of us hit the road heading to Covenant! Both of us were very excited. Daniel and two other guys (one from our church, another we just know) had been there for the past week at YXL youth leadership conference/camp, so we had to go pick 'em up.
The trip itself was long and exhausting, but we experienced a lot of new things!
  1. We had to get gas in Clinton, and the nearest Starbucks just happens to be in the same parking lot... which means we definitely wanted to make a stop. I got a soy strawberries and creme, 2 pumps hazelnut, 2 scoops java chips frappucino. I'd heard this concoction tastes exactly like Cap'n Crunch berries, so I decided to give it a try! For being so full of stuff, it was surprisingly good.
  2. We watched Avatar on Em's portable DVD player. What a good movie! I think we probably missed some parts because the volume couldn't go up too high, but I got the gist. It obviously is not a Christian movie, but it always amazes me when secular movies have a big spiritual theme. We are created with a "God-shaped void" that only Jesus can fill, but movies like Avatar seem to create religions in an attempt to fill it themselves. We long for something. I could say more.
  3. After we got in late last night, I was able to hang out with my friends David and Jo in the apartments on Covenant's campus! Oh, I was so thankful to see them!! I love, love being with Covenant friends, and actually being on campus, sitting in the same type of apartment where I'll be in the Fall, was really refreshing.
  4. Not a new experience (for me), but very fun: Mom and I ate breakfast at Niedlov's bakery in downtown Chattanooga. Our heirloom tomato-three cheese quiche and cranberry pecan muffin were fabulous. And Mom had never been there before!
  5. We encountered a GIGANTIC FIELD OF SUNFLOWERS after going through Tuscaloosa, AL, on the way home!!!

Also on the way home, I finished The Grapes of Wrath. Oh my goodness. What a powerful ending. I was dumbfounded at the strangeness of it when I finished. Seriously, I just sat back in my seat in awe... trying to figure out how it fit, why any author would end a book that way... but after a little more thought, I realized it was entirely appropriate, and even beautiful.

Tomorrow, Daniel comes back home for good. (He is spending one last night at CRS, where he has worked all summer.) Our family will be reunited once again, and I can't wait!

Friday, July 2, 2010

E.B. White and magnolia trees

"The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief, that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him is of general interest. He is a fellow who thoroughly enjoys his work, just as people who take bird walks enjoy theirs. Each new excursion of the essayist, each new "attempt," differs from the last and takes him into new country. This delights him. Only a person congenitally self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays."

-E.B. White, from the foreward of "Essays of E.B. White" (I am not reading it now, but I think it's going to make it to my summer reading list.)

I like this quotation, and I like how he's honest about his profession. It's true! But the good thing for him is that other people have taken interest in his essays and "attempts" as well. Is a blogger the 21st century version of an essayist? There are parallels, no doubt.

What got me on this E.B. White kick was my boss letting(/suggesting/recommending) me read Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style." It is SO good! Sometimes -- I know this is a little bit nerdy -- I am just fascinated by grammar.

Here are some "elements" I really liked:

"A dash is a mark of separation stronger than a comma, less formal than a colon, and more relaxed than parentheses"
Ask me my favorite punctuation mark, and I'll tell you. It's the dash.

"Unique. Means 'without like or equal.' Hence there can be no degrees of uniqueness." Thus, the sentence, "It was the most unique eggbeater on the market." is correctly written, "It was a unique eggbeater."
I remember learning this from after-school Latin classes in 5th grade, but I'm still guilty of saying, "Whoa! That's really unique!" from time to time. And I also like the example sentences.

I took this photo of Mom and Daniel at the beginning of the summer (actually, I took all of these at the beginning of the summer...) during one of our yard-raking parties. Maybe it's reminiscent of "American Gothic"... or maybe not.

I used to collect these magnolia flower droppings and I called them rabbit skins. Believe me, these things feel just like 'em. ;-)

The Lord really blessed me yesterday. I have been craving and missing so much the unique fellowship with friends from Covenant. (Some of this might come from the fact that even my parents were out of town this week, but a lot of it is just being away from the other people I love so much.) Anyway, it "just so happened" that I was able to have a great talk with Jane, get a wonderful email from April, and even have a really encouraging chat with Josh! Oh man! Guys, I love you!

Happy Fourth of July weekend!