Sunday, September 25, 2011

My first homework.

My studies at IBI are picking up.  Each class fits seamlessly with the work here in Dublin.  My first actual assignment to hand in was for Spirituality and Self Understanding.  Thought I'd share a taste of it.

The assignment:
How do I experience Love and Joy from God?

My response:  
The question isn’t hard, and the answer is quick.  It pulses deep within me.  It has developed slowly through time, been forged in experience; suffering; prayer; healing; thanksgiving.  Taking all that and putting it into words, however, is not so easy.  Bear with me as I try.

It starts with knowing that I was created.  I was designed.  Made with intention and purpose.  Specifically unique.  It continues with realizing that I am known. My Maker pursues me.  Refines me.  Reshapes me.  He didn’t cast me aside to live my life forgotten.  I am a work in progress.  He’s not finished with me yet.  He knows all my thoughts.  He sees deep inside my heart, to places I can’t even fathom.  Nothing is hidden from Him.  Not my sin.  Or my doubt.  Or my selfish ambition.   Yet He continues to draw close to me.  To reveal Love through His faithfulness. Through His provision.  Though His healing.  Though His eternal commitment to me—His created.

So my soul longs for Him.  To know Him as He knows me.  Like a deer, I pant for Living Water.  From deep to deep.  With groanings that have no words.  My spirit reaches for Him.  He meets me where I am.  He drowns my inadequacies in the blood of Christ.  It is through the Resurrection that my fullness is made complete.   Full joy.  Full peace.  Full comfort.  I am left with no alternative but to rejoice.  When my heart forgets all that He has done, all that has been accomplished, He renews my Joy through His word.  Through the faithfulness of others.  Through the beauty of creation.  Through His persistent pursuit of my heart.

These words are insufficient.  But they’re a start.  An attempt.  The truth is that the answer is still being written.  That every day, every struggle, every blessing brings greater Love.  Deeper Joy.  The everlasting gifts of a merciful King!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The First J.A.B.

Last night was my first Dublin slumber party.  The first Jo-And-Bailey night, to be more exact.  We ate pizza.  Made brownies.  Watched a movie two and a half movies.  Wrapped Bailey's hair with embroidery string.  Went to bed.  Woke up.  Ate breakfast.  Watched another two and a half movies.  Painted fingernails.  Walked to the grocery store.  Rode on the bus... it was Bailey's first time on a Dublin bus :)  Good times.

A conversation we had this morning...
Bailey: Jo, I think I dozed a little when we first got in bed, but I don't think I'm sleeping.
Me: Bailey, it's 9:30 in the morning.  I think you slept a lot.
Bailey: It is?!?!?!  Oh, I guess I did... it's REALLY dark in here!


I gotta say, it was the best J.A.B night ever!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Trial and Error

After spending the last two days in class, re-learning how to sit still, I felt the urge to make something.  Funny how the make-something-urges don't hit me until about 9pm.  Tonight I got a double-dose of MSU.  The first was to bake some banana muffins with the black bananas in my fridge.  The batter was perfect.  I even added some cocoa powder and chocolate chips.  Yum.  Too bad I haven't figured out my oven yet.  The first batch was completely inedible.  The second was only slightly better.  Two batches of trial.  Lots of error.  Yuck.

The second MSU was in response to my super-heavy living room door that won't stay open.  I've been wanting to make a doorstop for it since I moved in, but I hadn't mustered the guts to figure out how to make what I wanted.  Until tonight, that is.  It took a bit of time (especially since I had to keep messing with the muffins) and there was lots of trial.  Luckily, there was only an insignificant amount of error. 

The biggest trial: figuring out how to add a zipper into one of the seams.

The idea was to put a bag of flour inside.  Unfortunately, the bag wouldn't fit through the zipper.  So I poured the flour into a Ziplock instead. 

Hey... it works!  And it's way more attractive than the piece of folded cardboard I've been using for the past month.

At least one of the MSU's was a success.  Now I can enjoy that good kind of sleep that follows creative accomplishment.  Sweet dreams.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The First-Day

Today was my First-Day of school.  I've gotta admit that the whole First-Day mentality hasn't changed much since my last First-Day.  I still had to answer all the pre-First-Day questions.  What am I going to wear?  Who will I sit by?  Will I be a total loser if I pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch?  I didn't have my Mooly to take the compulsory First-Day Picture.  I tried to take one myself.  Actually, I took a video and then tried to get a freeze frame picture from the video.  It didn't work.  So I took this picture just now... it's more of an at-least-I-survived-the-First-Day-and-I'm-glad-to-be-sitting-on-my-couch- kind-of picture.

It's a shame you can't see my perfect First-Day Outfit.

I'm studying full-time at the Irish Bible Institute.  The program is a 3-year degree in Applied Theology.  Classes for first-year students meet all day on Monday and Tuesday.  All day is a long time for someone who's not used to sitting still.  Last night, I was lamenting the burden of being a student again.  Class.  Reading.  Essays.  But this afternoon, during a crash seminar in study skills, I felt the academic bug bite my brain.  The truth is, I love being a student.  I don't love writing the essays, but I love finishing them.  I love the accomplishment of learning.  I love the excitement of challenge.  The lamenting is over.  Bring it on!

I'm excited to have the opportunity to study with such a diverse group of people, all who have a different background than my own.  I anticipate a deeper understanding of my own spiritual awareness as I experience God through my classmates and professors.  And I look forward to deeper insight into the history and future of the Gospel in Ireland.

By the way, they don't sell Lisa Frank in Ireland.  I looked.  It's too bad, really.  Nothing says "Happy First-Day" like a new Lisa Frank notebook.