Saturday, July 25, 2009

Waiting

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in His word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning...
He will redeem Israel.
(Psalm 130:5-6)

Whate’er my God ordains is right,
He never will deceive me
He leads me by the proper path,
I know He will not leave me
I take, content,
What He hath sent
His hand can turn my griefs away
And patiently I wait His day
(A Hymn)

against the night sky of your waiting
your face is like starlight when He walks in
everything worth keeping comes through dying
love has come, love has come for you
(Ten Thousand Angels)

Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
(Psalm 27:14)

Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen
(Psalm 77:19)


It has been a long week. There were many trying things. Class was hard. Learning about racial reconcilliation is hard. Feeling angry about the whole thing was hard. Alaina was a dear and gave incredible love in the whole process. I think many of us in the house this week were carrying burdens that we didn't talk about. Perhaps we should have. We did a little last night. I am finding how hard it is to wait on God. Oddly enough, the theme of "waiting" was prevalent toward the beginning of the summer and even in the end of the school year. This lead to me reading "Waiting on God" by Andrew Murray (who was a significant character in my life via his book "Abide in Christ"). Why is it so hard to rest completely in the sovereignty of God? To trust that He knows and He works? That He is indeed loving and strong enough to act on His love? I do know it is because I am human. That is not an excuse. It is a condemnation. I am screwed up and waiting on His final restoration, waiting for the redemption of the now, is long. And how can I speak of it as long when I have only waited a very short amount of time? Absurdity. But there will be beauty made out of it.

In other news, there are two weeks left in Ocean City. There is much glorious living to be done in this town, or rather much glorifying life to be lived in the next two weeks. Byron will be coming on the morrow with a book store of books to set up in our living room. Ah! The smell of paper to return to in the evenings after work! What frabjous joy is ours!

I also directed my first meal last night! It took me the whole summer to get there but I did it! I helped coordinate the cooking, the prep, and the moving of 31 people and their food down a block to the park. It went wonderfully. There was just enough food... just. It was very stressed but I think that has gotten better as the summer has gone. I did not panic. And the food was good. Thank you to Mom for her recipe for Speedie Meat! Also a special thanks to Alex who cut off the tip of her finger for the cause of making us salsa dip! The park was lovely as the sun began to set. We played frisbee and laughed on the blankets, laughing. It was marvelous to have a change of pace from our living room/dinning room.

Also, a specific prayer request: in the next two weeks, I am to finish my payments to the CCO. Right now, I am significantly short. It has been a blessing to call old friends and catch up with them; and for those of you I have spoken to, I thank you a million times for your encouragement. Keep this in prayer. I know it will happen. There will be funds one way or another. But I still covet your prayers that all needs will be met. That's all.

Another thing: I am a fan of the Positively 4th Coffee House. This place is wonderful. The Ark is wonderful. 1st Presbyterian Church of Ocean City is wonderful. I will be sad to leave here. I am even more excited than my sadness that Penn State and a school year of work is before me. And there isn't even a little bit of sarcasm in that statement.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mail

There is something so incontrovertibly charming about receiving mail. It surpasses all the magic of computers and screens. It bewilders and delights more than any other form of technology. This summer has convinced me of this all the more as the occasional letter and package finds its way into my Ark mailbox. I wait in anticipation for all the surprises I do not expect. First, were the letters from Daniel in rapid succession. Both of us being in different places this summer meant that the early weeks were full of things to say in paper. And then there was a surprise box from Jenny Davidson just when I was getting discouraged, filled with deliciousness and a lovely card. And then there was a letter from my friend Chelsea and a letter from my friend Sarah and a letter from my Compassion child. And then there was an unexpected note from my discipler before she left for a week and a note from Kim Chez and a note from my prayer partner, snuck in while I was out to work. And then there was the cookies Maggie wanted to "test run" on me to make sure they weren't "poisoned" on their way to Steve and Ian. And then there was the yellow envelope and blue paper and witty remarks of Miriam. And then there was a card from Mrs. Shenk, unexpected and delightful. All of these have been surprises and reminded me of the joys of paper and pen (and baked goods!) sent with love. Letters are beautiful, strange physical connections from one person to another. More than any other token than I can think of (even more so than pictures), letters are a way to carry someone with you. They are a way to treasure something someone has made and invested time in. The sight of stamp and envelope and written addresses give more delight than any bolded "unread" email or the chime of a received text message.

And so I'm going to end with a question. My years in Sunday School lessons and pointed devotionals makes me gawk at this but I sincerely wish to know. I shall ignore my scruples and leap over them with well trained grace. Do you have letters that you have received over the years or recently that were remarkable in some way or that you continue to treasure and remember? What are their stories?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Visiting

This past Wednesday, Dad picked me up from in front of the Ark and whisked me home (via a long 4 hour drive) for some R&R. I have been growing increasingly fatigued with noisy neighbors and not having some space to recover from several life blows that fell in quick succession. It was good to be home and in the quiet. I climbed in bed at 10:15 and was quickly asleep. 12.5 Hours of glorious rest. (deep sigh of contentment)

All in preparation for Thursday.

At 2pm, Hannah and I climbed into the car and drove to Lancaster Bible College. I was decked out in staff shirt, shoes tied, ready to play. I was so excited that I began getting jittery as we got closer. We parked and wandered toward what looked like a group of wva students. Incorrect! They were playing leap frog. Ah yes! The frisbee wielding Pegors was spotted across the parking lot and on the borders of a field. I moved towards them, and leapt a few times. All staff looked very preoccupied in their color teams and were practicing their cheers. However, Cara Craggett was unarmed against my excitement, and I sprinted towards her. It had been almost a year since I had seen her.





(Gretchen helping lead the Red Team Cheer for the Spamley Cup Competition)

Then the frisbee game began! Leah was so excited that she was shaking, waiting to finish the cheer competition. It was amazing just to be with them all again! JRedd and Sharpie did a great "Hide Dana from the students and give her a hug" and I remembered all over again how much I loved being part of the staff. Tim ran past and threw me a staff shirt. I shook hands with the staff I didn't know, hugging Michele in delight at meeting her for the first time, and learned names as fast as I could before the game began.





After the game, I hung out with Leah in her room, catching up on many things. Thankfully, we've been in touch over phone before now so there was just a little left to do. Leah has a gift of loving others so thoroughly and enthusiastically and I've missed her presence so much! It just isn't the same without her around. What I still can't believe is that we never actually staffed together! After dinner, there was a "Fandango" and Brandon let me tag along. We sat in the alumni room and I got to hear the joys and the sorrows and exhaustion of the staff and help out with a few things. Mostly, I sat and enjoyed the friendship of the staff and caught up with Sharpie and JRedd.



One of the awesome things about camp is Brandon Booth and his lecture 7 Sweet Lies. I ran in and out of this lecture until David said, "Hey! You should run down with us and dance to Listen To Your Heart!" Can I say that there is nothing else in the world that I wanted?! This was followed with BonJovi moshing (though missing chasing Daniel off the stage) and then Spamley Cup with Amelia and Ruth. I can't really explain how perfect it seemed... it was so restful and joyous to be doing these things again and with this community. I told Leah that I was going to cry when we reached the end of the night and I did, but not exactly out of sorrow. It was more of the joy of having had this last summer, of seeing God working the students and staff, and rejoicing in the friendships I do not deserve. The knowledge of Jessi and Eric made this joy a serious one. I have not been grateful enough for these times and these people. It can all be lost in a moment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmoE8_U-JTw


(me and the Baldwin kids: Emma, Kate, and True)

"We don't have this grand scheme, this big plan, this massive dream. All we want to do is change the world, one student at a time."

Talley Ho, Worldview Academy!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Some Links and an Update

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IeXazl1szI

Above is a link to a short interview I did about the Beach Project and some things I have been learning. It isn't the half of it, but a little. Note: I'm very, very tired in this video which is ironic because I'm speaking about rest. One of the non-restful things about my summer has been the neighbors drinking at all hours. Pray that this ceases or I have epic deep sleeping skills appear suddenly. There are also other interviews under OCBP 2009 Interviews on youtube.

Thank you for your patience in posting. I haven't been very together this past weekend. The primary reason is that two friends of mine, Jessi Brown and Eric Kauffman, died in a car crash last Wednesday. I heard Friday afternoon. They were a core part of my Navigator community at school and the grief of my school family is very deep. I carry the burden and grief at a great distance. It is hard to know that I am so helpless to comfort those I care about. However, I know that the love God has shown me in the past weekend has been overwhelming. From coming home to The Ark and the care of those folks, to conversations on the phone with Steve, and then Maggie coming to visit, God has been very present. Truth has been spoken in these far corners of mourning. What then is God doing at the center?

In other respects, the past week has been very good. Hospitality was the conversation we kept having last week in classes and in practice. It was really amazing to have my entire perception of the RA job blown out of the water (more on that later when the notebook is at hand to write down some thoughts) and then see hospitality in action over the weekend. The new CCO staffers came to join us in worship and fellowship for a few days. They were a marvelous group of people and we easily fit 15 extra people into the Ark. There was much rejoicing, many late boardwalk nights, some crazy swing dancing, good food, worship together, frisbee in the ocean waves up to our necks, spoken letters to Rachel Foose (the NEastern incarnation of Jessi Morris), and little sleep. I was wiped out. It was grand but exhausting. I was glad they came. Several of them will be very near Penn State, and Daniel will be on campus with us (CCO Daniel, not Daniel Stephens Daniel)!

In the next few days, I am traveling home to Hershey for several reasons. First: To see my family. I miss them. Second: To hang out with Isaac for a belated birthday celebration. Third: To celebrate Dad's bday! Fourth: To see Jen in "The Wiz". Fifth: to participate in the frisbee game shut out of summer 09 (camp here I come!). It will be a good time, I hope, one of continued rest and recovery.

So... what exactly has Dana been learning?
That the Gospel is so much bigger than she can understand. That is so much bigger than my sin, and I can't even comprehend my sin in a real enough way to properly understand the glorious Grace as it relates to me... much less the entire Kingdom of God! I really don't get it. I struggle and fight for it only to find that it is when I stop struggling that understanding comes. It is... so crazy. So beautiful. Words are so inadequate for all that I don't understand. And words are good... I grasp in words... and suddenly there are no words. I'm hoping to do my capstone project with some expressions of what I'm learning in this specific area. And so I give you no words of my own, but a song that was written on this very subject with far greater skill and joy.

Thy Mercy, My God

1. Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song,
The joy of my heart. and the boast of my tongue;
Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last,
Hath won my affections, and bound my soul fast.

2. Without Thy sweet mercy I could not live here;
Sin would reduce me to utter despair;
But, through Thy free goodness, my spirits revive,
And He that first made me still keeps me alive.

3. Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the mercy I’ve found.

4. Great Father of mercies, Thy goodness I own,
And the covenant love of Thy crucified Son;
All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine
Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine.
All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine
Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine.

©2001 Same Old Dress Music (ASCAP).

Monday, July 06, 2009

Prayer

Several of you have asked me to share specific prayer requests. I acknowledge that I frequently underestimate the gift of prayer and so I'm offering some things going on here at the Beach that I long to see God move in. Thank you for being me with this.

- Lisa, Amelia, and Casey are the three women that I work with at Kidz Creations. Things can get overwhelming for me there and I see a lot of brokenness in their lives that I know I can't answer. I need patience and love for them.

- That our community of students is consistently glorifying God in all we do. Things are so comfortable between us that we are apt to forget how to challenge each other and love each other as we should.

- I long for this summer to be a Sabbath and so far it has been. Pray that my attitude in this will continue to learn what rest and letting go means. I need to learn what it is to not stress out in stressful times and not to worry when things clamor to be worried about. Basically, that I will learn trust and rest in my Savior's sovereignty.

- That in my investment here, I will find freedom and rest to return to campus in the fall. I had a talk with one of our leaders today and realized how worried I was about it. Going back will be hard and yet that is why I am here! I want to go back! Pray that I will find vision, find good dreams to dream, and that I will return to campus ready to go.

- Speaking of campus: pray for my Bible study girls; my floor of 54 girls; 13 new RAs; and the Christian community there!

- For our leaders here (spiritually, in gaining rest, and in their financial situations). Pete Ware, Curt Wright, Lindsey Smyth, and Katie Black. They have been doing an amazing job of serving us and showing me what a leader should look like. Pray for their continued sustenance!

Please remember that I long to hear from all of you. Email narnia50@gmail.com, call (though less likely to get me) 717-514-8793, and write

Ocean City Beach Project
P.O Box 937
Ocean City, NH 08226


These days are good. This weekend was one of the best that I've had here, mostly because I rested quite thoroughly and was challenged by good conversations and Bible study. Lindsey took me out for a bike ride and coffee which turned into a three hour conversation about calling, relationships, purpose, and God's inexplicable care for us in all things. This was followed by an hour at the beach talking with Hannah and reading P. G. Wodehouse. Sunday was marked by church at 1st Presbyterian, with Eddie Parker's talk on Galatians 6, meeting my prayer partner, finding a friend in Annie Parker (Eddie's wife), and taking communion together. I also got a chance to lead Bible study on Exodus for my small group. It was a challenge to plan and I learned several things (like "Ask more questions!", and that I'm an external processor and should never plan studies on my own). Today I spoke with a recruiter (Allie Molencoff) for the CCO ministry about considering them further as a post-graduation opportunity. To be honest, I have no idea how I feel about that. I'd rather know what on earth is going to happen at this very moment but that is definitely a bad idea. I can wait. But it was an interesting conversation that will probably be the first of many with this organization.

Well, at this present moment, I am about to be late for house worship. The Ark family is waiting. Please contact me soon! Ocean City feels like the center of the world; it is a small world that gets smaller the longer I am here and I need to be reminded of the outside world.

Love,
Dana

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Getting a Visual

It rained and left the sky on the sidewalks.

Hannah Coulter

Byron Borger was here a few weeks ago. He was his classic self, lugging more books than we could read in a year to spread before us on whatever space was available (the air hockey table). I was milling around, smelling paper, when he handed me "Hannah Coulter" by Wendell Berry. Derek Meleby had recommended it the week before so I took it and began to read.

It is a book that invites understanding for the things we do not know. It feels very familiar and comfortable. It seems old to me, something I have experienced and resonate with. That cannot be true, at least not entirely. It is written in the perspective of an old woman looking back on her life. She does not slip into the narration that implies a present. She speaks through her memories and we are always able to see her present voice speaking these past things. I suspect that I have been given a friend that will remain one for many years. I can understand Hannah as she was in my age. She allows me to understand myself with the eyes of someone much older, who is almost a different person, who has wisdom and time in her words. She will also allow understanding as I continue living things she has lived through. There are many years to encounter them and I will be with someone who has gone before.

It was also an interesting read to continue considering "place" as a literary theme. This dominated my thinking and writing while in South Carolina with the Penn State class. I have never considered what living in one physical location does to you, how it makes you and the people you are with, and how little of that I have understood in my own growing up. I cannot wish to go back. I can only consider how moving forward with such things as the computer and the internet and cars and lights can be done to God's glory, in the celebration of place. It made me wish for woods and trees, away from the sound of traffic and the planes that fly overhead.

I'm speaking too abstractly. Forgive me. Perhaps what I mean is that I better understand the Ray in me that loves the distance of living on hills, deep in the woods gives.

In summary: I highly recommend this book.

The Guard Box

The box where the guards guard against joy teaches how to fly. Sit very still and look out into the dark. Listen to the sound that is no sound. Taste the taste that is no taste (only in memory). Stretch out arms. Do not close eyes. Wait. Wait till a wave so full of itself and strains at the edges that it rushes under your feet and around your house. Watch as it pulls under you and behind you and toward the shore and the buildings man has built near death. Breath deeply. And it will turn. It will turn though it tries not to. It pulls out under you and you will see the ocean race away from you, and feel as if it carries you in its arms. Know then, that you are flying .No questioning or you break the spell. Know only. Know that you have been carried away through air and salt and water, a living baptism, in the guard box against joy.

And the boundaries of the world hold still.