Saturday, November 26, 2011

Blessings

I began pondering a question last week. What do you do when you’re not yet 22 and you’ve already achieved a major career goal?

My dream before I graduated was this: Someday I wanted to have a job I loved, in a little town I enjoyed, and to have my own place. I wanted it to be full time and pay enough for me to live on and have a few adventures. I wanted to be challenged and never to be bored.

Guess what my first job after graduation has been? At the risk of repeating what I’ve said in earlier posts, allow me to summarize for you the position I started in the day before graduation.

First, it’s taken care of the tangible requirements—it’s full time and I earn enough to rent an apartment on my own that’s “practically perfect in every way.” I have enough funds that I can save some, contribute to my church, and still take road trips to Boston every now and then.

Then there are the intangibles—what some would say are the more important pieces to job satisfaction. I have a fantastic boss, a Christian, that knows how to let me work in my own way as long as I do the job well. Plus I can set my own hours so I don’t have to wake up before seven o’clock except for, say, twice a month.

I do something different every day, no exaggeration there, and just about everything I cover is interesting. (The only exception would have to be some school board meetings, but that’s beside the point.) Some of the stories I cover are hard—giving me that challenge I need—but I’m not overwhelmed (most of the time). I learn something new about the city or about government, about my job, about life, every day.

This great job landed me in a town replete with sidewalks. That sounds like an insignificant characteristic, but to me it’s like stepping into a suburb of Heaven. There are also several city parks, with a small river running through one of them, plus a nature center just five miles away and another nature preserve a little farther from my residence. A 32-mile bikeway runs two blocks from my front door. My neighbors are wonderful (and happen to be my pastor and his wife and son). And perhaps most wonderful of all, my family lives just 20 minutes away.

How much more blessed can a person get?!

So I wonder… what’s next? Moving to Costa Rica, or to Boston? I’m beginning to wonder how much better that could possibly be, as blessed as I already am. Or maybe I just have no idea of what bigger blessings are in store!

Compendium of Links #19

I spent a lot of time on Thanksgiving reading random links. Ahh, I was so thankful for a day off and prolonged exposure to the Internet. That was the first time I’d spent any significant number of hours just reading miscellaneous Internet articles!

From College Major to Career—chart of how various college majors help students succeed (or not) in the job market.

The 2011 Facebook infographic, showing that, theoretically, 11 percent of the world has a Facebook account. Never mind that some folks have multiple; it’s probably statistically insignificant.

One Christian wife (and author and college professor) writes about seven misconceptions she’s encountered about submission. A short but interesting read, if you’re into the egalitarian/complementarian debate.

You know how things get really… interesting when you try to translate them? Brands are even better. CitiBank becomes “the star-spangled banner bank!”

C.S. Lewis and Rob Bell both hold/held questionable theological beliefs. One writer thinks evangelicals love the one and hate the other because of the different emphases they had in their writings/ministries. I think it’s because C.S. Lewis actually clarifies, logically, what he’s differing about, when he does touch on the subject, while Bell… just gets on my nerves with the whole postmodern equivocation thing. (Note: I’m going by the NOOMA videos here. They left enough of a distaste that I couldn’t bring myself to track down a book of his to read.)

And in honor of our recently departed holiday: Grateful people have better health. Yup, they just spent a bunch of money to affirm scientifically what we already knew. I guess that’s the job of the social sciences sometimes.

Your weekly musical contribution: More guitar music!

Much as I wish I could play like this… it’s almost funnier to watch his head.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving

I’ve devoted very little space on this blog to my favorite holiday, I noticed. But it’s coming up in just two days now, Thanksgiving that is, and with it all the pure holiday joy associated with it.

I will not name the first reason I had to consider the holiday a special one for me. The main reason, however, is the positively Christian reflection it inspires in each of us. For what are we thankful? What blessings have we overlooked this year, until now? Where do we find contentment in the midst of difficulties, or for what should we worship God in times of peace?

On  my part, I’m thankful for my family. The best part about Thanksgiving is the chance I have to spend several hours on car rides with my immediate family to spend a rambunctious weekend with most of my extended family. I get along well with everyone in those groups, so the time we’re forced to spend together feels nothing like an enforced gathering. On the contrary, when we have to part I’m invariably loth to do so.

Thanksgiving is almost as consistent a family time as Christmas, but without the gift-giving stress that goes with the later winter day. That, together with the general spirit of gratefulness that pervades the holiday, makes it in fact a purer honor to God, I think. It’s more Christian to give thanks than to become greedy for gifts.


Other things I’m grateful for:

My friends, especially:

--my college roommate, who put up with me for three (3) years

--several other faraway college friends with whom I try to keep contact

--new friends in my new town who have embraced the strange youngster in their midst

My job, because it’s awesome and I get to do what I love!!

My little iPod

A youngster at the local primary school who likes reading to me once a week

Sidewalks

Warm socks and blankets

Fountain pens

Peanut butter

Schwinn

Gardens and public parks

Hot running water

Sewing machines

Days off from work

…What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Walking to church

The church I’ve started attending since moving into my apartment is near enough that I can walk there if I want. Granted, I went to a residential campus college and rather enjoy the slower modes of transportation to start with, so my estimation of “close enough to walk” may vary from that of others, but this distance, I think, would generally be considered a decent walking distance.

So, I do walk to church, about 95 percent of the time. (Once it was raining, and another time I was leaving straight for the next town over after church, so I drove in those cases.) And nearly every day after church, I am asked, “do you need a ride?”

What kind folks! I thank them graciously but briefly explain that, really, I like to walk, and besides it’s a nice day out.

I’ve been rather obstinate on this one too, walking even in the chilly weather and after dark. The cold will eventually get to me—I’d rather be in Costa Rica—but the dark, that isn’t a problem.

In fact, it casts a whole different glow to the walk. Instead of the green trees, I am met by antique-looking street lights, which one by one greet me with a hazy shine as I pass. The stoplights shine much more overtly in the dark, of course, and the very sounds change.

If I cut through the city park on the way, I cross a creek whose gentle, puddling sounds catch the ear much more readily in the dark. They always remind me of stargazing excursions with my best college buddies. And in the gleam of the old street lights, the flowing bit of water looks very like a sparkling mesh of starlight, filmed and replayed rapidly.

The combination of sight and sound there compels me to stop, gaze and attend to the mysterious message it carries, every time I pass there on my way home from evening services. Then I look up from the faux starlight to the real, only partly obscured by street lighting but clarified by the chill wind that dusk brings. And I ask the wind how anyone can choose to drive to all destinations when sights and sounds such as abound in this town are to be had.

Yes folks, I own a car and use it regularly. But if I can, I make the time to walk. It saves me, perhaps, from succumbing to the ever-increasing pace of modern life. (Cliché I know, but it’s true.)

Compendium of Links #18 (Comedy and economy)

Well, I covered my first election. That experience might become a blog post in itself. And I nearly hit 20,000 words last night in my NaNoWriMo novel. If I had been able to stay awake any longer I would have written the 308 more words required to actually reach 20,000!

But now for your weekly dose of really random links…

ban Comic Sans – oh my. It’s a haven of hilarity for graphic design nerds. And there’s even a host of alternatives to Comic Sans. How’s that for a positive approach to what could become a wholly negative campaign? (HT: Wesleigh)

The United States Department of Fear – parodying the real Dept. of Homeland Security. It’s amusing, though I don’t entirely agree with its politics. And I’m always a fan of parody and satire because, done in the right way, it can point out inconsistency, hypocrisy and/or subconscious assumptions that need to be recognized. (Stuff Christians Like is by far my favorite parody website.)

Along those same lines, the Chicago Tribune recently profiled a Christian (read: clean) comedian to highlight the bigger news: Christians like to laugh, if the joke isn’t crass or laced with profanity. Or something along those lines. That’s a whole untapped audience, according to the comedians the writer interviewed. I suppose. On the other hand, most of the so-called Christian comedians aren’t that funny, except for this one guy I saw on video once that did a hilarious routine about airport bathrooms. (And it was entirely a clean routine! The focal point of the bathroom part was the sanitary hand dryer that doesn’t actually dry your hands!) (HT: Challies)

Now for a different note: The U.K. newspaper The Guardian declares that U.S. unemployment isn’t the 9.1 percent the government’s been registering, but more like 16 percent. The writer does so by taking the second reading the government puts out, the one that counts discouraged workers and folks who are part-time but would rather be full-time. Maybe so, but it seems like we slip into comparing apples and oranges if we take this higher number and contrast it with the 2007 4-percent number, which probably didn’t include discouraged workers and unwilling part-timers either (though there were likely fewer of them). (HT: Gene Veith, I think)

And an opinion writer/economist at the Washington Post says the U.S. government’s budget just can’t be balanced without pain. Cutting wasteful spending, or taxing the rich, won’t be more than a drop in the bucket—there’s got to be some serious reductions. And it’ll hurt… so no politician will propose such a thing. (HT: Gene Veith)

Now, some wonderful guitar music courtesy of my roommate (she sent me the link on Facebook):

I WISH I COULD PLAY LIKE THIS. (Without having to practice for years.) I’ll content myself with the “replay” button.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

John Piper’s book on missions (part 4)

At last—we return to missions and worship to conclude the book.

It’s obvious by now that Piper is strongly influenced by Great Awakening pastor Jonathan Edwards, and he says as much here. Then he goes on to explain that missions is necessitated because “creation is telling the glory of God, but the peoples are not treasuring it…. The ultimate issue addressed by missions is that God’s glory is dishonored among the peoples of the world.” Then he connects worship with missions and all that with compassion for the lost: “Unbelief not only dishonors God but destroys the soul….And so missions is driven by a passion not only to restore the glory of God to its rightful place in the worshiping soul but but also to rescue sinners from everlasting pain.”

The final chapter, probably the one that most enthralled me, deals with the nature of worship itself—what is this that we’re trying to propagate throughout the world? I’ll let him tell it himself, in abbreviated form:

Worship in the New Testament moved toward something radically simple and inward, with  manifold external expressions in life and liturgy.

The epistles of the New Testament contain very little instruction that deals explicitly with corporate worship—what we call worship services…. [Jesus] diverted attention away from worship as a localized activity with outward forms and pointed toward a personal, spiritual experience with himself at the center.

What makes worship worship is what happens “in spirit and truth”—with or without a place and with or without outward forms…. “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17).  This is the essence of worship: to act in a way that reflects the heart’s valuing of the glory of God.

Upon re-reading this final chapter to refresh my memory of the particulars that made me so satisfied on finishing the book, despite its middling literary quality (I’ve never cared for Piper’s writing style), I realize again that it is this focus on worship and God’s glory that made the book so compelling a case for world missions.

I hope the four-part summary I’ve written doesn’t make you think you don’t have to read the book now. It’s not a “have-to” thing at all, obviously; but if you’re interested in missions, whether as a possible missionary or as part of a missions support network (i.e. a layperson), I strongly recommend at least reading the first three chapters and the final one. (There’s a conclusion that summarizes all the parts, if you want to skip the rest!) The slightly repetitive style can be borne if you concentrate on the substance of what he’s saying, and maybe read a little faster than you’re used to.

For what it’s worth, this is my take on his writing style: He’s a preacher, so he’s used to conveying a message through spoken word, which requires much more repetition than is necessary in writing. (See, I learned something in my speech and rhetoric classes!) My hypothesis is that he’s simply more used to speaking than writing, even at this late stage, and so falls into the old, repetitious habits. Give him a little grace for it.


Addendum especially for Mom: I know you were interested in how he dealt with the issue that in Calvinism only the “elect” are bound to end up in heaven, and nobody else can even ask to get there. (A simplification, but you know what I’m talking about.) I excerpt here, from p. 55, the only bit that addressed predestination:

There will always be people who argue that the doctrine of election makes missions unnecessary. But they are wrong. It does not make missions unnecessary; it makes missions hopeful. John Alexander, a former president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, said in a message at Urbana ‘67, “At the beginning of my missionary career I said that if predestination were true I could not be a missionary. Now after twenty years of struggling with the hardness of the human heart, I say that I could never be a missionary unless I believed in the doctrine of predestination.” It gives hope that Christ most certainly has “other sheep” among the nations.

When Jesus says, “I must bring them also,” he does not mean that he will do it without missionaries. That’s plain from the fact that salvation comes through faith and faith comes through the word of his disciples. Jesus brings his sheep into the fold through the preaching of those whom he sends, just as the Father sent him. [emphasis original]

Aside from that, the book’s focus lies mainly as I’ve outlined, on getting God the most glory through bringing diverse peoples into Christian communion. Overall I thought the book was quite compelling even if one did not subscribe to Tulip theology.

Monday, November 07, 2011

John Piper’s book on missions (part 3)

The second of the three sections in John Piper’s book “Let The Nations Be Glad!” dealt with the necessity and nature of missions work, and to be honest this was where I got really bogged down in reading.

The necessity of missions, according to Piper, lies in the fact that people simply can’t be saved apart from belief in God as revealed through Christ in the Scriptures. And in the fact that the thing they’re getting saved from is eternal, conscious torment—no more, no less, no annihilation nor other escape available. Piper won’t have any of this salvation-through-general-revelation, wishy-washy watering down of the truths that by their existence implore us to get busy about evangelism and missions. (OK, so he didn’t actually say “wishy washy watering down of the truths,” but he may as well have done so!)

That chapter was mostly proving the truth, via demonstration in Scripture, of the preceding statements—theological and doctrinal paths I’ve walked before and wasn’t too keenly interested in reviewing. Yes, I believe it, and yes, it sure makes missions desperately important!—but I’d rather spend my energy reading something else, like, say, missionaries’ prayer letters….

Then there was the chapter discussing the question of whether the Great Commission’s mandate to evangelize “all nations” just means “as many people as possible” or “as many different ethnicities and tribal groups as possible”—whether the goal was number or variety. Piper goes for variety and diversity here. I don’t think I ever asked myself this question, of whether God means us simply to evangelize as many as possible (maximizing the results of our effort, shall we say) or to reach as many groups as possible, like different tribes speaking different languages, even though that might require more energy expended per convert. (Man, I sound like a mathematician here.) But I didn’t feel like I needed fifty pages of repetitive statements and Bible verses to help me answer that question.

I guess I’ve usually pictured the growth of missions as a bar graph, with different areas of the world simultaneously becoming more permeated with the gospel (like the bars measuring different things can all rise at the same time), than as a linear progression, where you have to reach so-many-converts in one country before you start evangelizing the next one (like a line going from the left side of the page to the right; it’s two-dimensional). Intuitively I think you spread out the work as far as possible, to the ends of the earth; I didn’t need Piper to tell me that. But that’s just me, and I’m sure there are many who would be interested in the in-depth discussion of the meaning of “all nations.” (Complete with Greek word studies, cross-checking with other words of similar meanings, and comparisons with words that mean “tribes” and “families” and “households”… yes, he does take it very far.)

I had to force myself to sit through those chapters, but once through, I got to the final piece of the book and was reluctant to put it down when bedtime came. I’ll summarize that piece in the final part of this rundown.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

John Piper’s book on missions (part 2)

So. After that thrilling first chapter relating missions and worship, Piper followed with two more chapters relating missions to prayer and suffering, respectively.

The gist of the prayer chapter is this: “Life is war, so prayer’s for all-out fighting, not making a nice living room more comfortable.” (That’s a paraphrase, by the way.) Piper likens prayer to a walkie-talkie between the front lines and central command, meant to keep those essential supplies and reinforcements coming. (Again, there’s a multi-page set of Bible quotations, this time illustrating all the things the disciples prayed for… healing, boldness, unity, discernment, and I could go on.) Seeking God for everything, he says, gives God that much glory—and we’re back to the whole point of a Christian’s life, glorifying God. So missions cannot exist without prayer; that’s the way God set it up to work, apparently.

The feeling of being in a war, with huge stakes, and with prayer as the walkie-talkie for supplies and reinforcement, makes sense with what I’ve been reading lately in the New Testament. I’m halfway through Acts in particular, and the way the church got straight down to business, with all its might, struck me as the very attitude that we ourselves need to take towards missions. And the zeal with which they prayed! I can’t imagine what it would be like to be up all night, literally, on my knees and concentrated on one single request for God to answer. (Just goes to show how much room I have to grow, I suppose.)

The final chapter in the first section of the book, as I said, related missions to suffering. Without listing every one of the six reasons he delves into regarding why God allows—nay, appoints—suffering in the lives of his most devoted workers, I will quote briefly:

The process through which he [Jesus] grew in deeper and deeper obedience was the process of suffering…. God knocked the props of life out from under Paul’s so that he would have no choice but to fall on God and receive his hope from the promise of the resurrection. This is the first purpose of missionary suffering: to wean us from the world and set our hope fully in God alone.

Suffering is finally to show the supremacy of God…. Christ’s power was Paul’s only power when his sufferings brought him to the end of his resources and cast him wholly on Jesus. This was God’s purpose in Paul’s thorn, and it is his purpose in all our suffering. God means for us to rely wholly on him.

And you see, yet again we return to the prevailing theme of the book: missions, growing out of worship, aims primarily to glorify God.

I’ll summarize the second section (of three) in the next installment, then in a fourth and final post, I plan to wrap this up with a summary of the last two chapters.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Compendium of Links #17

Yeah. I don’t get online all that much (except if I’m at work—maybe someday I’ll compile a work-links compendium). But real life is more rewarding: hitting the 8,000-word mark for NaNoWriMo last night; listening to the sports editor try to stuff as many Tootsie Rolls as possible into his mouth; walking down Main Street (or rather, the local equivalent) on a sunny November afternoon; talking to the pastor over the back fence.

Dr. Randy Carlson, radio speaker and author of The Power of One Thing, has a website devoted to teaching people how to achieve their goals, and the neat thing is that it’s Biblically based. I heard about him and the book via a Boundless podcast and he sounded like he was right on target, though the cheesy language on the website made me giggle a bit.

Speaking of Boundless, they had a post on what to do (and what not to do) on a blind date. Because meetings through mutual friends still surpass online dating as the number one way that couples meet.

Child sacrifice is a bustling business in Uganda. (Via Gene Veith, I think.) And I had no idea until a couple days ago:

Schoolchildren are closely watched by teachers and parents as they make their way home from school. In playgrounds and on the roadside are posters warning of the danger of abduction by witch doctors for the purpose of child sacrifice.

The ritual, which some believe brings wealth and good health, was almost unheard of in the country until about three years ago, but it has re-emerged, seemingly alongside a boom in the country's economy.

The mutilated bodies of children have been discovered at roadsides, the victims of an apparently growing belief in the power of human sacrifice.

The world’s most popular books, compiled into a top-100 list! I’ve read several of these and enjoyed them. Maybe I’ll pick up a few of the ones I haven’t read. One of these days I really will read Rebecca. Same goes for Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude).

The Atlantic magazine reports that bullying might be better stopped by teaching the victims healthy resistance behaviors:

Though it wasn't astounding to find out that half of the children reported being the object of taunts, gossip, or intimidation, how they reacted to their harassers was. The key to anticipating victims' responses, it turns out, is to figure out their motivations for interacting with their peers in the first place. That is, kids who wanted to be popular and feel superior tended to retaliate impulsively. Those who wanted to appear cool by avoiding criticisms were more likely to pretend like nothing happened. And those who were genuinely interested in fostering friendships tended to react in healthful, positive ways. They asked their teacher for advice, sought emotional support, and found means to solve the tension with those who harassed them.

And for your listening pleasure: the talented Annie Moses Band. They are summarily added to my Christmas wish list.

If I were at my apartment instead of the library, I would set this on “repeat” and dance around behind the privacy of the curtains!!

John Piper’s book on missions (part 1)

As promised, I tracked down “Let The Nations Be Glad!” by John Piper, read it, thought (preliminarily) about it, and am here to convey a rundown of the book. This post will be dedicated solely to the first chapter, that being one of the three that most stuck in my mind.

Sure enough, his statement that “missions exists because worship doesn’t” appears on the very first page of the very first chapter! (It’s the third sentence of the book.) So, he says, “worship is the fuel and goal of missions”: goal because, well, what’s better than worshiping God? And fuel, because as Piper writes, “you can’t commend what you don’t cherish”—so a Christian has to worship God with his life before he can convey that passion to others (the unreached).

The bulk of that first chapter is spent fleshing out what it means to make worship the central goal of all of life, and why in the world God would be so selfish as to ask that every soul in the world spend its energy glorifying God. (Trust me, it’s the best thing that could happen to you. Piper agrees with me, or rather I with him.) I know many people would struggle with the idea that the whole purpose of man is to glorify God and with the idea that it’s not wrong of God to seek his own glory all the time, but it’s something I’ve already understood for several years, so I’ll skip over most of the explaining he does there. I did appreciate, however, the five solid pages filled only with quotes from the Bible illustrating God’s focus on doing things “for My [that would be his] name’s sake.”

At the end of that first chapter, Piper writes about something I’ve rather wondered about for some time: how one cultivates a “love for the lost.” You see, I never did get that idea—what is it, that someone feels toward a nebulous concept such as “the lost”? Piper quotes a YWAM leader:

….Many believers search their hearts in condemnation, looking for the arrival of some feeling of benevolence that will propel them into bold evangelism. It will never happen. It is impossible to love “the lost.” You can’t feel deeply for an abstraction or a concept….

Piper adds his own caveat to that, but it is encouraging to know that I’m not the only person who doesn’t generally feel warm fuzzies toward a lot of faceless entities. Not that I don’t believe strongly that unreached people need to hear the Gospel—far from it. Just, I don’t get the feelings sometimes associated with the words “love for the lost.” It’s more a decision than an emotion, for me at least.

Next up: notes on the next couple of chapters regarding the supremacy of God in missions through prayer and suffering. Heady stuff.

A song for the kitchen

Upon perceiving a full sink:

I hate dishes, yes I do!

I hate dishes, what say you?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

NaNoWriMo

Just like tearing petals off a daisy, I have asked myself whether to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) or to forego it this year. If I participate, I’ll feel obligated to write 2,000 words a day. If I don’t, I’ll kick myself for not trying.

Oh, why not? Onward with the novel-writing challenge! It’s not like it’s a big deal if I don’t write the 50,000 words by November 30.

And after all, if I write more than I ponder, I could get an easy 2,000 words in a couple hours. 2,000*(30-5)=50,000, assuming the Thanksgiving holiday and one day a week are all that I spend not writing. This just means I won’t watch any movies for the next thirty days. (Also that I might take one of my extra vacation days just to spend on housework and such that I’m sure to put off in favor of writing….)

Therefore, in honor of my second year participating in NaNoWriMo and with every hope of finishing again: I do declare that I have an excellent reason to slack off on blogging, e-mailing, Facebooking, movie-watching, book-reading and all other forms of cultural or social engagement, with the exception of work-related duties and Thanksgiving, until December 1!

Life on my own #16: Wax on, wax off

My dad has bugged me twice about winter’s onset and the necessity of waxing my car before its arrival. I responded both times: “I’m getting there. I have to wash it first, though, and ______ meeting/event is happing so I can’t wash it immediately.” Or something along those lines.

Finally, the weather and my work schedule cooperated for a favorable car-care day last week! I spent my mid-day break filling up the gas tank, inflating my tires to the proper pressure (a Boston road trip really takes it out of them), and purchasing a few things to wash the car. I didn’t even have a sponge anywhere in my apartment… but now I do! A big honkin’ one that’s practically the size of my arm!

I have never seen liquid wax before, though.

The wax I found at the dollar store was the same brand as I was used to, but came in a bottle, not a round green tub that resembled an oversized tuna can. I purchased the strange item anyway. Couldn’t hurt.

Between getting off work and covering the opening of a new wing in the local hospital, I took my new gigantic sponge and a bucket of nice warm soapy water and washed the car hood.

Then I had to go to that evening ribbon-cutting, where I met a nice endovascular (I think…) doctor who tried to explain to me the process by which he relieves certain types of chronic back pain. However, he speaks hospital-speak and I speak newspaper-speak. Have you ever tried to explain a rather technical subject, one you deal with daily, to a completely ignorant person whose technical jargon is entirely different from your own? You have? You and this poor doctor should commiserate. I don’t think I understood one sentence in ten that he said.

I returned to my simple task of car-washing after that befuddling encounter. Armed with gargantuan sponge, refilled water bucket, and kettle filled with non-soapy water for rinsing, I set to work, and soon had the car washed up. Even the top—that was no easy task, but fortunately the car’s small enough that I can reach across half the top if I stand in one of the doorjambs. (Doorjambs? Is that what you call it in a car?) Unfortunately, I also had car dripping all the water (soapy and non-soapy) onto the gravel driveway, creating a serviceable moat.

I toweled off some of the surfaces that were still wet, then retrieved this strange-looking bottled wax I’d purchased. It wasn’t even a green bottle! And it certainly didn’t look like a jumbo tuna tin.

Yet I was unfazed (or, only partly fazed). Pour a little onto the wax sponge-thing, rub the car in circles, add more wax when it looked like it  needed more—actually it wasn’t hard to use the liquid wax. Except that I kept dropping the wax applicator into the very muddy driveway. It rolled under the car once, too, requiring me to do my best to kneel onto the only patch that wasn’t covered in an inch of mud. It wasn’t covered in mud only because it was rather thick, raised gravel, thus inflicting a bit of pain onto my patella.

At least I hope that was my patella. Otherwise, I’ve forgotten everything I learned in anatomy five years ago. It’s a definite possibility. (How’s that for an illogical cliché?)

The neighbors, who also happen to be my pastor and his wife, came out to their back yard as I was half-finished with the waxing job, so I paused to chat over the fence. It’s a short picket fence, so I can see their faces, unlike the fence in Home Improvement. “Wow,” my pastor said. “You don’t see a girl waxing her own car very often.”

Well who waxes their cars, then, is what I want to know!

At the beginning of November

I can hardly believe I’ve spent two and a half months… make that four months… in my apartment, and have been working at the paper for nearly four… rather, over five months. It doesn’t seem like it’s been nearly that long.

I suppose that’s what adulthood feels like—the days smush into each other, the weeks blur together and the months pass before you know it.

Case in point: When I wrote those two paragraphs, I had titled this post “Halfway through September.” And it’s already November 1st.