Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Joys of Gardening

Although there was so much to do today, so much school work, so much speech, so many errands...we escaped to the backyard for a bit of weeding and winter yardwork.

The winter sun was glorious today. Before the plants decide to take advantage of the warmth and sprout and bud, we ran out with clippers and gloves to prune, weed and ready our yard for Spring.

It feels so wonderful to work in the yard. To get dirt under your nails and on your face. To smell the earth. To listen to the earthworms tunneling underground. It's so refreshing, so exhilarating in a strange, quiet way.

We weeded the rosegarden. Pruned our climbing rockrose. Trimmed back the thyme in the herb-garden. Re-discovered stepping stones from 1986 and unearthed them. Wrestled in the dirt. Listened to the birds. Talked to the chickens. Wheeled around the wheelbarrow full of leaves, rose-bush-branches, dirt, and herbs. Laughed. Enjoyed the sun. Hummed.

I keep being reminded of how wonderful life is. Whenever it all seems so overwhelming - just go weed the garden a bit. Creation just oozes the magnificence and awesomeness of the Creator.

Friday, January 30, 2009


I laid in my bed tonight and reread my journal from Europe. I relieved moments spent in ancient towns, historic cities, new experiences, with exciting new friends and was positively flooded with a whole array of memories. Today, six months ago (wow! It's already been six months) we went to Dachau. It was a horrible, eye-opening experience for me - and though it is sad, though it is horrific what happened there - I wanted to write excerpts from my journal here. It was a significant part of the trip for me, it had a lot of impact, and I want it as part of my blog diary. Read on only if you wish - this post is for me.

We visited Dachau. I was a bit anxious about visiting a Nazi concentration camp where thousands of people died. At first we couldn't even find the elusive prison camp, and after driving through the town of Dachau and examining the cryptic street side maps, we became quite say the least. I finally asked Daddy to pull up next to a bus so I could ask for directions in my "stunning" German. We ended up following the big, blue bus through the winding, narrow streets of Dachau - all the way to the camp. Amidst the bustle of the little city, there was a quiet oppression, like a silent, hidden horror. Upon stepping through the rough iron gate into Dachau camp I was filled with a chilling sense of dread. You could see the leaves rustling in the gentle breeze and hear the birds gaily singing, but when I closed my eyes I could hear the groans of the tortured and dying and see the ghastly living skeletons. The grey stones crunched under our feet and the iron gate clanged shut in the wind.
I felt trapped and scared in that awful place. We listened to an in-depth audio tour as we stood before grim photographs of miserable men. I looked around the desolate enclosure surrounded on all sides by tall electric, barb-wire fences and seven tall menacing watchtowers still guarding the hopeless shadows. It was a horrible, sickening, horrific place.

I numbly walked into the museum that once served as an SS Headquarters - it was filled with testimonies from liberators and survivors...and countless photographs depicting the hellish living conditions and utter hopelessness. Pictures of the dying. Pictures of the dead. Lines of white bodies, skeletons rather, lying on the ground. Tall heaps of dead men; tossed together like rag dolls. I couldn't speak. I suppose that's how I deal with incredible grief...I never cry. I become a silent screamer, a horrified, grieving mute.

Later on, I saw the crematorium. A large brick building shrouded by lush green trees and rows of flowers concealed a much darker history. I stepped into the first door to find four brick ovens. They were tall and similar to bread baking ovens, but twice as large. Iron doors hinged open at the bottom so coal could leap onto the flames while long chains on pulleys opened and closed the heavy front a guillotine hatch. Inside the open hatches were long iron stretchers; 7-foot death beds. The ovens were like MRI machines in which the person lays down and is inserted into a constricting tube. Only, these people were no more than skeletons, and they were greeted with flames, not x-rays. It was terrifying.

I backed against the wall, as far away from those awful, hungry ovens, away from the horrible death-eaters. Legs trembling, I stumbled into the next room, hoping for some slight solace. I found a square, bare, cement room with large cracks and a drain in the middle. The storage room. This was the room where the pictures came from. This was the room where the heaps of limp and mangled corpses lay. I was standing in the very room hundreds and thousands of bodies were thrown together. Carelessly. Jokingly. Simply 'purification'. How could people do this to people? How could a man treat another man such? And for what? Why the cruelty? Why the terrible inhumanity? Why the torture and malice and hate? Why the evil?

When I closed my eyes I could see the white bodies stacked to the ceiling...waiting to be burned. I reeled from the hideous, deathly silence while in the other room, 60-year old imaginary fires roared greedily on. It was a horrible, sickening, horrific place. And it only gets worse. I numbly walked into the next room, and found myself in an oppressingly small room with an incredibly low ceiling. Dark holes in the ceiling were numerous, and there were no windows. Just darkness. The gas chamber.

How can you describe your feelings? How can you write of the horror and terrifying reality? I felt sick. I was shaking all over and yet unable to leave. Haunted by the ghastly truth of this place, I was rooted to the spot. Poison gas once rushed onto unsuspecting victims from black holes just inches from my own face. I wanted to scream. I wanted to run away. I wanted to cry. But I just stood there, in the hideous, horrible gas chamber where people died. I looked back. There was the room where hundreds of white, beautiful, horrible bodies were thrown in a wretched heap, and if I looked farther, I could see the ovens waiting to devour more bodies laying on the long, iron stretchers. It was a horrible, sickening place.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sub-Saharan Beauty

Jali / Griot

Aren't those rich, beautiful words? Isn't this rich, beautiful music?

We'll be spending one more week studying Sub-Saharan African music in my fantastic World Music class at ARC. We've mimicked African polyrhythms; clapping different beats simultaneously to achieve the famed layered texture. We've listened to chants, pygmies' songs, talking drums, gourd xylophones and watched traditional African dances. It's incredible!

I love African music. I love the deep tones, the rich, vibrant spirit. The freedom. The colors of fierce loyalty.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Speech turned Challenge

Over 230 years ago, our Founding Fathers wrote the words "One Nation Under God" into our Declaration of Independence, yet today, those very words are considered politically incorrect and may one day be removed from our public buildings, our currencies and our educational institutions. A house built on a rock stands firm, and a nation built on The Rock can withstand many trials. But when society begins to erode the very foundation upon which it stands - and when they constinue to do so - there is reason for concern.

Right now, today, our culture has:
Promoted the killing of babies every day. 27 children die every minute,
Actively supported uthanasia and physician-assisted-suicide,
and voted to legalize and protect same-sex marriage.

In her song, "The Better Angels of Our Nature," Susan Ashton recognizes the growing crisis we're facing. She sings, "'Cause we're tossed in the gale of a moral decline. As we drink from the grail of society's wine..." And yet, where are the Christians? There has never been a time when Christians have had so many available resources as now. There has never been a time in history when Christians have had so much money not required for daily survival. So much information that supports the Christian perspective (astrophysics strongly supports creation, medical science is powerfully pro-life). We have so much technology--like the internet--that makes it possible to spread the good news so far.

Yet with all these advantages that were unknown to earlier Christians, we, the modern-day followers of Christ, apparently have diminishing impact. As Philip G. Ney stated, "Christians seem to be losing on all fronts. There are more abortions, homosexual marriages, violent movies, pornography in homes, etc. With few exceptions, modern Christians have little influence on their culture, the laws of their land, the thinking that governs people's actions and the discoveries that illustrate Christ."

Our Savior died on a rough-hewn cross and rose again (Hello!! Amazingness right there!), yet many who claim His name find their iPods more real and the music within them more comforting.

What are you going to do about that? You can't just recognize the problem and yet remain unmoved! I am challenging you to grab hold of a more exciting option than the one portrayed as normal in society today. For us teens, we are equipped with the tools to challenge our culture. Our schooling, our training, our experiences, have all prepared us to face and tackle society's moral decline.

Psalm 127:4 says children are "like arrows in the hands of a warrior...". WE are the straight arrows. We've been primed. We've been prepared for this very moment. There was never a time when Christians have had so many resources at our fingertips...and yet, it seems we're losing ground. It may sound cliche, but if there's going to be any change, we have to make it happen. We must take our education, our faith, our training, and invade our plummeting culture.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

From The Inside Out

A thousand times I've failed
Still your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I'm caught in your grace

Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame
In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give you control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
To love You from the inside out

Your will above all else, my purpose remains
The art of losing myself in bringing you praise

Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame
In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give you control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
To love you from the inside out Lord, my soul cries out.

(You can listen to's on the left -->)

Hello Goodbye

It's 2009 now.

I'm sure that's supposed to mean something, be quite significant somehow. But other than having to remember to write "09" instead of "08"...the new year has arrived without much excitement or panaaz. New Years eve was fun and laughter-filled, though. Thank heaven for friends to goof off with.

I have officially:
- Quit my job at the tea shop ( ::pause for a moment of nostalgia:: FREEDOM!!!!!)
- Polished a duo. Written an OO. Scripted an OI. And now have hours of memorizing looming ahead of my very near future.
- Realized the full extent of debate research needing to be done. Ironic that the full weight of this realization comes at 1:15 in the morning....hmm, I'll grab some pop-tarts, chocolate and hit the bed for some late night research.
- Fallen in love. Again. With my gates. My gorgeous, wooden, solid, Mongolian gates. They're beautiful and I have to pinch myself every time I see them!
- Gotten a haircut that may have been a mistake.
- Decided I love extreme-ish sports. Surfing, skiing, hang-gliding, waterboarding....I'm likin' it people. Maybe 2009 will hold some sportsy awesomeness....
- Decided it's high time to stop blogging and actually work on the speech sitting next to me. By my elbow. Right *there*. Glaring at me. "Cuuuuuuuuut meeeeeeeeee".

My "tribute" to 2008 has ended with a lame blam. 2008 was thrilling. Wonderful. Heart wrenching.

Goodbye 2008. Hello you beautiful 2009!