Letters From An MBI Student – 9/23

Dear Family,

Some days you really need to study. Some days a friend really needs to talk.

Some days your three hours of study time disappear in two hours of conversation.

*

Some days you really want to make brownies or something with sugar or something just really, really sweet. Some days your body hates the things you really want.

Some days you make them anyway and your apartment smells like heaven all day.

*

Some days you want to cut class. Some days you think you probably should in order to study.

Some days you don’t and you realize you wanted to come just because you wanted to say the Apostle’s Creed like you always do.

*

Some days you think you’re going to fail the drive test. Some days you think you should cope with coffee or excuses or something equally artificial.

Some days you drive your best and make a friend.

*

Some days you try to study. Some days your mind says “Nope.”

Some days you pretend that you’re okay with failure even when you’re not.

*

Some days you meet a friend. Some days a friend buys you coffee.

Some days you get coffee when you least expect it and everything is wonderful.

*

Some days you think you’re going to fail the test you couldn’t study for. Some days you sit and talk to a friend because that’s what is needed. Some days you go to class instead of cutting it to study. Some days a creed means more to you than normal. Some days you find out things you didn’t want to know. Some days you find out things you truly needed to know.

Some days you ace your test, find a friend, sip a coffee, sing a song, learn a truth, gain a hug. Some days you don’t learn about the grace of God. Some days you do.

Maybe missing you,

~Rae

The Soul

Part Four: Time and Eternity

CXXI

THE SOUL should always stand ajar.
That if the heaven inquire,
He will not be obliged to wait,
Or shy of troubling her.

Depart, before the host has slid
The bolt upon the door,
To seek for the accomplished guest—
Her visitor no more.

~Emily Dickinson

Letters From An MBI Student – 9/12

Dear Family,

I’m writing to share proof that I am at a Bible college. I can now confirm that the stereotype is true, and so are comments like these: “I don’t know math! Why do you think I came to Moody?”

It’s not Moody’s fault, per se, but it’s just the way of things here. Sadly, the relative lack of STEM individuals is demonstrative all by itself that Moody is a Bible college. Now I just have documented, quotable proof of it. Enjoy.

[This conversation is directly transcribed from an incident that took place in front of me, in class, during the break. Today. All individuals are college students who are at least juniors. All individuals were male, but how that influenced this conversation is under review. All nicknames are pending.]

[I have no clue how this conversation started, but I do know that all individuals involved were serious in their opinions. Save us all.]

Young Daschle – “The Pythagorean Theorem. You know, a + b = c.”

Baby Einstein – “What?”

Ex-Thor – “You know, if a is b and b is c, then a is c.”

Young Daschle – “The Pythagorean Theorem.”

Baby Einstein – “No, that’s a2 + b2 = c2

Young Daschle – “We’re not trying to find the circumference.”

Ex-Thor – “That’s 2πr2. Boom!” *mic drop*

Baby Einstein – *headdesk*

[True story.]

Maybe missing you,

~Rae

 

 

Letters from an MBI Student – 8/22 Notes

Dear Family,

So how is school? Well, it’s the first day of class, and here’s how it started.

6:00 – Alarm #1. What is happening?

6:05 – Alarm #1.1. I must have hit snooze? Why am I waking up to birds chirping? This is weird.

6:10 – Alarm #2. Bells. Huh? Oh, right. New phone, new ringtones, still the same Dismiss button.

6:20 – Alarm #3. My poor roommates. I forgot to tell them this. Hope they don’t hear. Or mind. Snooze.

6:25 – Alarm #3.1. Five more minutes? Snooze. Or was it Dismiss?

6:30 – Alarm #4. Oh, now or never. Dismiss. But I’m up.

6:50 – I will be late, or maybe not. “Wonderwall” by Hurts takes me halfway to PT.

7:30 – PT is done and I am back and starving and leaving before having breakfast is as terrible an idea as I thought it would be. The first and only time I will leave my room before sustenance.

7:40 – Stuff my face, stuff my backpack, do dishes, make a list – these all happen somewhere in here.

7:50 – Makeup is overrated. Today is a Husker shirt day. What do I need? What am I supposed to be doing? What is today?

8:10 – Monday morning and Joe’s is open. Two old floormates to greet, one kid in a suit to run into, my full name is written on a coffee cup (that hasn’t happened in a while), and the new counter at Joe’s is exactly where the broken-hearted dudes sit at a bar. The kid in the suit agrees. He takes a seat.

8:20 – where am I going? I’ve turned into one of those kids who walks and is on their phone and will probably run into a pole, but Hallelujah, I have a phone that works and it doesn’t take me 15 minutes to log in and look up my classroom.

8:25 – in my first classroom, not lost, an acquaintance next to me, and the perfect seat.

I could continue, but you get the point. Basically, every minute is full and I feel like I’m hitting Snooze to give myself five more minutes until the next thing. But I’m not adding time to my day, I’m just pretending to.

Welcome back to Moody. Maybe I’ll write to you in class next time, since sitting in a classroom is the only time I have to catch my breath so far.

Maybe missing you,

~Rae

Documenting Life

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I take pictures. Of stuff. And people, sometimes. I can’t really call myself a photographer, because I don’t try hard enough to be a good photographer. I don’t think of my photography as some careful art…I think of it as just…it.

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I just take pictures. Of scenes and slices of life that remind me of greater things. I take pictures of landscapes because the wider the horizon, the more I am able to breathe. I take pictures of things because the tiniest details can be captured and seen over and over again. I take pictures of people because I don’t want to forget. I take pictures because I document joy.

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Except when I don’t. I don’t take photos when I am angry, when I am sorrowful, when I am lost. Because in all of those times, I don’t know how to see those things in a photograph. I’m not looking at the world around me like it is beautiful, so I don’t bother to save a piece of it. There is no joy, so there is nothing kept. I don’t want to remember those times.

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And that’s the problem. Because it’s not because the beauty is gone or even tarnished. It’s just that my sight of it is a little dim. Eventually I come around to seeing the way the sun streaks through the clouds, and then I pull out my camera or pick up my pen, and I document joy once again.

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But shouldn’t we be documenting the not-joy moments, too? Shouldn’t we be telling of the days when life is less than glorious, when the sun-streaks are dull or not there at all? Look at the Bible. What if we were missing the lament of Job or the rebuke of Jeremiah? What if we were missing the tears of Lamentations or the repentance of Hosea? What if the only thing documented was joy?

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Psalm 51 is a photograph; a photograph without sunshine. At first.

“For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight–
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.”

Why take this picture? This is not a sunset that takes your breath away or a perfectly red rose. This photograph is snot and tears and mostly regret. And yet.

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“O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart–
These, O God, You will not despise.”

But these photographs are the ones we need, too. The ones that are just as honest as the rest. Because the truth is this: there is sunshine and sunsets and glorious horizons. There is laughter and joy and yes, please, document it.

But there is sorrow, and sadness, and brokenness, and loss. There is sin and chaos and yes, please document it.

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Because the times of the thunderstorms come before the times of the rainbow. Because the records of sin and sorrow come before the triumph of salvation. Documenting joy is wonderful and necessary and keeps our souls healthy, but it is not enough. It is not enough to say that God is only good, or only delightful, or only as present as the sun we can see. It is far more honest to say that God is greater than these, delightful and demanding, and present in every circumstance.

So here is my document of both. Of both pain and pleasure, for the grace of God exists in both.

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Share your joy, O saints and sinners,
Share your grief, O saved of God,
Share your home, O long sojourners,
Share your hope, O redeemed soul

A Complaint of the Times

So much regulation and so few lives saved,
So much loud music and so little melody,
So many doctorates and none wiser made,
Such license in the name of liberty,
  So much compassion preached, so little shown,
  Since the world’s beginning there was never known.

So much production of so many shoddy goods,
So little saving and so much money spent,
So many rulings so little understood,
Such lavish shows and such poor amusement,
  So many bureaus fat and purses lean
  Since the world’s beginning there was never seen.

So much to bed, so little marrying,
So many new police and no less crime,
So many churches built, so few prayed in,
So many new dollars not worth a dime,
  So much speculation on so little ground
  Since the world’s beginning there was never found.

So much change of fashion and no beauty gained,
So much expense so little justified,
So many principles so ill explained,
So much self-praising with so little pride,
  So much prophecy of ruin and so little heed,
  Since the world’s beginning can no scholars read.

“A Complaint of the Times” by Gail White

Published in First Things, October 2007

What You Want

 

Every day I’ve been feeling the pressure
I always gotta know the plan
It’s a weight that I’ve tried to shoulder
I thought I could, but I can’t

And I’m so tired of chasing dreams
When I am wired to let You lead

You’re changing my heart
To what what You want
To love how You love
And that is enough
There’s no greater plan
That I need to know
You only ask me to follow

And want what You, what You want
And want what You, what You want
And want what You, what You want
And want what You, what You want

Oh, there’s freedom in this surrender
I feel myself come alive
And the burden feels like a feather
When I let my agenda die
And I get so tired of my own dreams
When I am wired to let You lead

So many leaders
You ask for followers
So keep on leading
‘Cause You’re my Father

~Tenth Avenue North