the art of promise-keeping


This is my summer reading list post. Ignore if you are not interested.

1.Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem

I picked this up at Mars Hill last week and I think I’ve probably read about two thirds of it so far. So, so interesting. Over this last year, I’ve had so many conversations with so many people about what women are and aren’t allowed to do, what biblical womanhood really looks like, and why we have such a hard time accepting our roles. What I’ve learned, from those conversations and from this book, is that none of the guidelines set out in Scripture are arbitrary rules designed to keep us from being ourselves or living up to our potential– just the opposite, actually. I’m still learning what that means, but this has definitely helped.

2. The Toughest Indian in the World

The Toughest Indian in the World, by Sherman Alexie

We have a lot of Sherman Alexie in our bookshelves, and I’d never read any of it. And I think I picked the wrong one to start with. It was…interesting. Not bad. Definitely not bad. But also definitely not my taste.

3. Invisible Man

Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison

This is going to be one of the harder ones to get through, I’m sure. I can tell because I’ve only read the first thirty or so pages and I’ve fallen asleep multiple times. We’ll see how this goes.

4. Four Great Plays

Four Great Plays, by Anton Chekhov

I know how especially pretentious this one sounds, but I hear/see Chekhov quoted all the time, and  I wanted to read some myself.

5. The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

I have read almost all, I think, of John Steinbeck’s books, many of them multiple times, but never this one. It’s weird, because it’s almost certainly the most famous (I think East of Eden and Of Mice and Men are the only ones that could potentially also take that title, but even so, I think this one would win), but I’ve just never gotten around to it. I’m excited to read it.

6. The Four Loves

The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis

Bible college=C.S. Lewis. The end.

7. Everything is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer

Just one of those ones that’s been on my shelf for a long time but I’ve never read.

8. What Is the What

What is the What, by Dave Eggers

This is kind of like Grapes of Wrath, in that I’ve read pretty much everything else this author has written but this. So now I’m going to.

9. One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I have no reason for this one. I just wanted to read it. Also, I’m clearly losing interest in writing blurbs for each of these.

10. Jude the Obscure

Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy

Both of these (the last one and this one…and in fact the next one as well) are just things I’m reading because I’ve been curious about the authors for a while. An uninteresting reason, I know, but it’s all I’ve got.

11. Interpreter of Maladies

Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri

See above.

12. Practicing Hospitality

Practicing Hospitality, by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock

I’m writing something about this one in spite of the fact that I can’t type “hospitality” without first typing “hospitalivy.” Anyway, I’m going to read this because last year my dear friend Olivia (I don’t know if she reads this or not…) talked about how, before coming to school, she felt like God was laying the idea of hospitality on her heart. And she had no idea what that would look like when all you have to work with is a dorm room. Then she ended up in a suite, and her room became where we all hung out, and she was always having to deal with people and their stuff in her space. So it quickly became very practical. Now, since I have a suite next year, I get to try it out for myself.

13. Crazy Love

Crazy Love, by Francis Chan

So, the first thing I thought I’d say about this book was that everyone I know who’s read it is crazy about it, and then I realized that would sound like a pun. And the second thing I thought I’d say was that everyone I know who’s read this book loved it, but then, um…you see where this is going. Basically, people I like like this book. So I’m reading it.

14. Follow Me to Freedom

Follow Me to Freedom, by Shane Claiborne and John Perkins

Shane Claiborne makes me think. I don’t always agree with him, but he is definitely challenging. I’m looking forward to this one.

When I first made this list, I thought it was a little ambitious, considering that I’m also getting ahead on my reading for school next year (which is to say, reading the Old Testament minus the first five books). But it’s been a week and I’ve already read two and two halves (there was one book that got dropped from the list after I read the first half), so I feel like I might be okay.

This post is too long. I hope everyone enjoys their extra weekend day!


This is my end-of-my-first-year-of-college blog.

When I typed in that title, the permalink said “this-is-my-end…f-college-blog.” Yep. Good start.

Honestly, though, I’m not even sure what to say. My first thought was to do this in a “good things/bad things” format, but I don’t think the bad things would appreciate being called out. So we’ll avoid that. I also toyed around with the idea of a picture post, but a) it wouldn’t be that interesting, and b) I’ve barely taken any pictures all year, so they’d all be from Facebook and therefore redundant. Repetitive AND boring! You’d all be thrilled, I know.

I’m currently sitting in the room Brittany and I have been sharing for the last 259 days, surrounded by boxes and bags and piles of crap. We’ve added a significant amount to the free pile over the last few days, because for some reason we have a lot of stuff here that we don’t want. I just finished my last final today, and I feel pretty good about my grades. I’ve learned more than I ever expected I would or could.

As excited as I am for next year, this one ending is sad. I’ve had the best possible dorm section, and we’re having a rough time saying goodbye to our wonderful neighbs. My beloved RA is graduating (although she’ll be around next semester), and I’m going to miss her a ton. On top of that, since Brittany isn’t coming back next year, everyone has periodic sad moments whenever they think about it. I miss some of my classes already, and I just want to give this entire campus a hug.

I’ve spent pretty much the entire day outside with friends, because it’s unbelievably beautiful. The joke has been that these last couple days of the year are the only time the school looks like the brochures– everyone outside, laughing, looking like they’re having the most fun of their lives. It’s good times.

I’m going to try to sum up this year, and I’m probably going to fail, but here goes.

There were a lot of times when, academically or emotionally, I genuinely thought I wasn’t going to make it. God taught me that He knows that. He knows what I can’t do, and our weaknesses are His strengths. He knows what He’s doing. I could list off dozens of things I KNOW I couldn’t have done on my own, but here they are, accomplished, and I don’t know how it happened.

I got a lot better at knowing where my heart is…and where it isn’t. I started out this year planning to study English, because that’s what I’ve always done, and because I thought I could do it without being forced much outside of my comfort zone. And now I’m studying a dead language instead of a living one, with no reason other than that I inexplicably fell in love with it.

Oh, and I made some friends. Some really, really great friends. When I left home to come here, I was heartbroken at having to leave the people I loved back at home. And every time I go home, I’m amazed at how many people I love, because there are so many there and so many here. I knew keeping up friendships at a distance wouldn’t be easy, and it hasn’t been, but it’s been incredible nonetheless. People are great.

(This is my six-pack…which refers to the fact that there are six of us, not beer or abs– thank you to those who questioned last time I mentioned it.)

I can’t even explain how much I’ve loved this past year. There are things I don’t like about Multnomah, like the food and the student ministries program, or certain classes last semester, but as for the whole experience, I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve loved it even when I hated it. And I can’t wait to see what happens next.

blog often in april? maybe.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
-Psalm 27:1

Last night it struck me that I’m really glad I’ve had terrible things happen to me. I’ve known sorrow, loss, joy and grace, and I am still here.

I am unbreakable. I am unbreakable through no achievement of my own, but because the backbone of my life is Christ, the One who was broken for me. Sin no longer has power to condemn me to hell. Man no longer has power to starve me of love. With the prospect of heaven always in front of me, how bad can things be? My God loves me, and nothing can take that away. No power of hell, no scheme of man.

There are those who can be broken. I was once one of them. On my own I am still one of them: fragile, frightened and friendless. Christ broke His body and my soul was saved, and what was once impossible is now daily occurrence.

My God is wonderful, powerful, merciful and gracious. Today we celebrate the fact that we can live because He died. Have a blessed Good Friday, everyone.

“Women who are stunningly beautiful are women who have had their hearts enlarged by suffering, by saying “Yes” when the world says “No,” by paying the high price of loving truly and honestly without demanding that they be loved in return, and by refusing to numb their pain in the myriad of ways available. They have come to know that when everyone and everything has left them, God is there. They have learned, along with David, that those who go through the desolate valley will find it a place of springs.”

in loving memory

A few hours ago I was working on Greek and I needed to consult a Bible. So I got up, pulled an NIV off the shelf and opened it to find that the case also contained a notebook. A black Moleskine, specifically, which, if you’ve seen me in the last several months, you might know as the notebook I always have with me. I looked up the verse that had been giving me trouble, and then I looked in the notebook. It turned out to be the notebook my mom used to keep sermon notes and prayer requests in the last few months before she died, and then it was used for the same purpose by my dad for the next five or six months. I immediately had to share with my dad the fact that I have an identical notebook that I keep with me at all times, and it contains primarily sermon notes, to do lists, and prayer requests. He asked if that was something I’d started doing on my own, or if I did it because I’d seen my mom do it. I had to admit that I had had no idea that notebook existed and, while I know my mother was an avid listmaker, my own much-loved Moleskine had no connection to her habits. He laughed and said something very familiar– that I am my mother’s daughter.

I hear this comment on a fairly regular basis, and it always has the same effect– to delight me and intimidate me.

It delights me because I think my mom was a wonderful person. Her constant optimism, patience and perseverance (in spite of more hardships than almost anyone else I know) are a joy to remember, and I can only hope to reach her level of intelligence someday. My mom was the most open-minded person I’ve ever known. Talking to her always showed me the complete complexity of every person and every issue in ways I would never have realized on my own, because she saw everyone as valuable, created in the image of God, with something to offer. I think it’s a life goal of mine to see the world the way my mom did, but even on my best days I don’t even feel close. She’s why I place so much importance on thinking for myself and questioning everything I hear, because I know that nothing has any meaning unless you process it for yourself. Our house was filled with thousands of books, nearly all of which she’d read, and no piece of literature, experience or humanity with which she came in contact escaped changing her in some way. She was able to integrate everything into a perfectly woven worldview, always changing, always growing and always an admirable mystery to me.

It intimidates me for all of these same reasons. I’m not my mom and I’m not trying to be my mom. I know she wouldn’t want that– she’d tell me to be myself, because that’s what I’m going to be best at. And that’s what I do, for the most part. She liked who I was and who I was growing up to be more than I did, most of the time, and that continues to be a huge source of confidence for me. In some ways it’s tempting to mold myself into her, because I think the world could use as many people like her as it can get, but I know that’s not how it works. I can and do follow her example in a lot of ways, but I am not her, for better or for worse.

I know that no matter how much I change, my mother will always live on in me, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. God blessed me with her in ways I can’t even begin to express. My absent-minded, sleep-deprived geek of a mother will always be part of me, and I know that my self will continue to be as inextricably linked with hers as it has been my whole life. I hope that the things she instilled in me are things I’m doing a decent job of living out, and that her wisdom and grace continue to influence me, not only for my own sake, but for the sake of the people who will never get the chance to know her.

(My mom’s blog, if you’re interested)

Redeeming Elephants

Someone I hadn’t talked to in a while asked me recently how my semester has been so far. I have two answers to this question.

The first is that it’s been awesome. I adore my classes, and I know I’ll probably miss them for the rest of my life once they’re over. I’m sad that it’s going by so quickly (we’re already half-done!), but I’m truly enjoying it. I love my six-pack, Ri-Fri, late-night heart-to-hearts with Holly, stalking Christian celebrities on Twitter and then getting to meet them, the book of Jonah, making new friends, Tyler and Olivia as a couple, and so, so much more. God has been teaching me amazing things and I love him for it, and he’s allowed me to get into a better devotional routine than I’ve ever had before, which is making life so much richer.

And here’s the second.

Last summer, I went on a senior trip with some of my best friends just after I graduated. We spent a week on a semi-deserted island in the San Juans, and it was wonderful. We looked after ourselves, doing our own cooking, roaming about the island, sleeping whenever we wanted, and watching the sunset from a different place on the island every day. We slept outside on the deck the last two nights. I remember one of those nights, falling asleep listening to Iron & Wine (fun fact about Emily: I love Iron & Wine, but they rarely fail to put me to sleep, no matter how awake I may have been to begin with), curled up in my sleeping bag against the early-morning cold. I didn’t realize how perfect a seal I’d created in my little coccoon, but I woke up in total darkness, wondering what time it was. I could hear people moving around, so I poked my head out and made the startling discovery that it was already completely light outside.

So yeah. This semester’s been about like that.

The new blog title is from The Book Thief, which I finished for the second or third time today. I’ve been putting off the ending for days. I hate finishing good books, and this is one of the best. The entire paragraph reads (and for context’s sake, the narrator of the story is death):

He was tall in the bed and I could see the silver through his eyelids. His soul sat up. It met me. Those kinds of souls always do– the best ones. The ones who rise up and say, “I know who you are and I am ready. Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come.” Those souls are always light because more of them have been put out. More of them have already found their way to other places. This one was sent out by the breath of an accordion, the odd taste of champagne in summer, and the art of promise-keeping. He lay in my arms and rested. There was an itchy lung for a last cigarette and an immense, magnetic pull towards the basement, for the girl who was his daughter and was writing a book down there that he hoped to read one day.”

SO GOOD. And if “the art of promise-keeping” isn’t a captivating phrase, I don’t know what is.

So, life update: School is wonderful. I love it entirely too much. I really don’t do anything other than homework and spending time with friends, but I’m happy with that. Life isn’t boring. At all. Ever.

What God has been putting on my heart lately, in various ways, is how be a better friend. Things like forgiveness have suddenly gone from theoretical to intensely practical, and these days I can’t afford selfishness. I have been blessed with entirely too many wonderful people, and while I don’t deserve them, I am trying to do what I can to be something they need. People are just too interesting not to try.

I went on an iTunes spree the other day. I was just bored with everything I listen to. I bought, I think, eight albums, and the one I’m enjoying most so far is probably the first Vampire Weekend. It’s a little early to say, though, as I’ve barely had time to listen to them all the way through.

Basically the point of this post is to keep my blog from getting moldy, and because Anna said to (by the way, I have a fascinating post planned for you at some point in the near future), and because I looked at my stats the other day and realized that all of a sudden I apparently have readers. No idea why, but hi.

In conclusion: the concensus among Bible college students appears to be that communion should also included bacon, in remembrance of the fact that we are no longer under the Jewish law. Great idea, or greatest idea?