Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I constantly need people to tell me when I'm wrong. I think my favorite people in the world are the ones who are bold enough to challenge me in my stubbornness. If I think I've figured something out, that's usually a pretty good indication that I'm not letting God speak to me and that your human voice is more vitally necessary than ever.

One of my favorite stanzas of poetry that I've ever written was:
Know me for my sins,
Weaken and break me.
Call me out for my faults,
Remind me that I'm so small.
I love admitting that I'm wrong. Of course, I don't love the process of it--being called out, apologizing, having your deepest inner decay exposed. Oh, does that hurt. But when I hurt, when my pride stings and my intellect aches, may I ever and always praise God that I'm not numb, that there is enough of the God-intended Elena left for Him to put me back in order.

I discovered a new favorite verse in Psalm 138 the other day. I like the ESV translation and The Message paraphrase of it a lot, so here's both:

"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands."

"Finish what you started in me, oh, God. Your love is eternal--don't quit on me now."

I recently defined hope as: "remembering that He will continue His work of redemption in my life even though I fail so often." Acknowledging my failure is a sharp and biting pain. There's no spiritual anesthesia for us in these moments. But if this didn't hurt, it wouldn't be so beneficial. So I welcome the hurt. I love apologies and confessions to true friends who show love and grace and rebuke in return. What powerful, potent medicine and what healing and growth it brings.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad...

At 9:30am as I parked my car in the chapel parking lot and resisted the inevitable of having to run through the rain to the Union, I was very tempted to already dub this an Alexander sort of day. Instead, I shouted (literally) at God, "DO SOMETHING WITH THIS," and I'm calling this a day with a lot of potential for grace.

The "T, H, NG, VB" title was tempting because I had insomnia last night after a rather frustratingly distracted evening of homework. And because I've been utterly drenched at least twice today due to rain. And my shoes are sopping all the way through. And I was late to a class because I had to print off a paper for which the due date was fortunately set back, though I unfortunately didn't get the e-mail. And I'll be up until 1am.

But don't feel bad for me, because God fills up potentialities when we commit them to Him. First, I told Dr. Spiegel that I had insomnia last night and he recommended standing on my head for a minute or so before going to bed. The very thought of Spiegel on his head (in all reality, not hard to imagine) got me laughing. Then I had class with Seeman. ALWAYS a delight. And he gave a devotional on Psalm 19 that struck home (they always do). And he and I talked for a solid half hour after class was over about Foucault and Hegel and Derrida and post-modernism and our thick Christian metaphysic that says that we are relational beings created in the image of God and how that informs our approach to all of these philosophers.

Now the day is about half-way over. Still a lot of potential left. But as long as I can manage to stay awake for it, bring it on.

**And someone just offered to help me out with something, so I can go to bed at 12am rather than 1am. YES.

Over-commitment is like the Shadowbrute.

He has brought me back here again, this place of smallness.
I'm self-aware...aware of my incapacity, aware of my insufficency, aware of my impotence.
I've been clutching, clinging, clasping these things that escape my grip.
My hands are too small. I can't manage this.
Distended, distracted, distorted.

And then, my balancing act started to tip...
I was playing with blocks, my construction towering so high...
He came in and said, "Is this what you think?" and kicked it down
Not in anger, not in frustration, but as the Great Teacher.
Yes, these things fall down easily. Don't forget that next time.
But He knows I'll forget. Yes, He knows I will.
And He'll remind me then, too.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I just found out that I'll probably have to delete this entire blog because of what I'm planning to do next fall.


Let the countdown to anonymity begin...

My New Home?

Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan

Monday, March 15, 2010

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

"That I am not my own but belong body and soul, in life and death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood and has set me free from the tyrrany of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven.

In fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him."

- Heidelberg Catechism

It has been a rough thing, to realize that I've been wholeheartedly distracted recently, that my pursuit of Christ has been a weak effort as my own feelings have held my thoughts instead. I never blatantly rejected His will or His voice, but I wasn't exactly listening for it, either. I was caught up in my own efforts and in that, I was confronted with my weakness, my failures.

My only comfort in life and in death is the assurance that He will make me wholeheartedly His own. Even if it takes a certain amount of heartbreak, He will call me back to Himself and persist in that great work He is doing in me.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


It is a rare event when any Taylor event with the word "retreat" in it actually includes anything related to rest or recouperation. Therefore it was stunningly unreal that every single girl on my wing got about ten hours of sleep at our massive sleepover party on Friday night.

Probably only my three dearest friends knew how much I needed that, actually. I slept hardly a wink on Thursday night even though I went to bed at 11:30pm. My mind and heart were racing and I could barely stay still for the five and a half hours that I laid in my bed. Friday wasn't exactly conducive to a lack of sleep like that either.

I arrived to the retreat late, as everyone was settling down. So I grabbed my blanket and pillow and collapsed on the floor next to Kelsey. She's such a sweetheart--she rubbed my back and played with my hair for hours while I enjoyed the sounds of my Second South sisters laughing and chattering all around me.

I later apologized to a few of them for being so tired and incoherent during our short retreat, but they said so graciously, "No no! We were just so glad you were with us!!"

Oh, God blesses us with what we need, even when we don't know how to ask for it. I admit, I needed four things that night--physical affection, to not be by myself, to not have to talk, and sleep. I got all of them. In fact, our whole group of 20+ girls were able to relax, to be rejuvenated, and to enjoy each other's company. What a marvelous second family I have here. There's so much love, so much understanding, so much affection, and so much security and faithfulness. Goodness.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thoughts from last weekend:

I could live like this.

Caroline's hair is so big.

Shannon looks adorable sitting in that windowsill.

Everytime the sky is blue like that I just think of GOD. Godness. Goodness. Good.

Confidence is all about how you perceive yourself. Yes, even you must perceive yourself. And I love how you do.

Remember when we were going to buy ourselves a sailboat and name her the Grey Goose and sail all over the world together?

Chocolate brown hair. Creamy untanned skin. Dark eyes. Homemade sand dollar necklace. Ridiculous navy blue shirt. White second-hand Polo sweater. Rolled-cuff jeans with rips in awkward places. Moccasins.

I want to be near you. That's all. There's something about nearness. Proximity. Priceless.

I want to die for you. I'm sorry if my life doesn't always reflect that.

The only thing that scares me about leaving is being gone from you.

There are so many things that can't be spoken. They are so true in my head, but so awkward coming from my mouth.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I want to be here:

"I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do." -Willa Cather

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I'll be my brother's keeper.

I’ve discovered that it’s always worth it, always enjoyable, always so much better to be involved in people at the expense of self. ALWAYS. Homework isn’t half as important as hearing about your day. Sleep isn’t necessary when your head is on my lap. It almost doesn't matter what you’re saying; how could I be bored when your smile is so wide? And my burdens seem so insignificant when I have the opportunity to share yours instead. Loving you is so much more wonderful than loving just me.

Irresponsible? Only regarding myself. But I’ll always be steadfast for you.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Romans 8:31

What can we say in response to this?

Friday, March 5, 2010

This Is My Senioritis:

Filling out applications for internships and full-time employment and discovering that this one is due tomorrow and that opportunity ended two days ago...confronting the possibility of living at home for a semester before Pakistan really kicks off...Friday (and Thursday and Wednesday and Tuesday and Monday) night homework until midnight deadlines...researching state representatives in my spare time for GO's next initiative...

Skipping class to comfort a friend...choosing between wing church and those two other meetings that I accidentally double-booked...more coffee dates than I have days in the week...pretending to have time for it all because in reality, people are more important to me than grades...

Going longboarding around the loop because I've already been inside for six hours and the sky is too blue to wait another five minutes...taking 35 minutes to relax as I go to my friends' senior art shows and reveling in their beautiful expression...

Thinking how over-commitment is so overrated and I don't know why people do it to themselves...wishing I could be home right now for Lara's 14th birthday...hour-long conversations with Mom as I sort through all this nonsense...wishing I wasn't already booked tomorrow morning so I could drive up to H-dale to visit...

Reading Psalm 62:5-7 and 73:26 over and over and over and over...

It's a good thing this only lasts for one year of my lifetime.

Recent phases I've been repeating to myself:
"Don't despair. (But it's okay to tremble.)"
"The devil's singing over me//that I'm cursed and gone astray//but he's forgotten the refrain//Jesus saves."
"How could I give you up?"
"For God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Deeply Good News

Dr. Seeman makes my Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. (Granted, he nearly kills me on Thursday nights, but somehow I always survive.)

My History of Philosophy II class is brutal. It requires so much reading and thought and time. (And all of this doubles for me, the easily-distracted-by-my-own-thoughts one.) In class, my brain is overwrought by everything we're talking about. Hume denies that cause-and-effect is rational. Leibniz thinks God is a monad. Kant's noumena and phenomena... Crazy. Thursday nights are the worst because I'm usually spending many exhausting hours writing up the reading outline for Friday afternoon.

It's exhausting, yes. Dr. Seeman doesn't make any of that easier or give us excuses. But every time I come out of his class, even if I'm thoroughly confused about the nature of the universe, I am so comforted and excited when he talks about the gospel. In his fatherly, thoughtful, and passionate voice, he says things like this: ..."But now" are such powerful words. "That's how it was, but now." Everything is different. He talks about the inbreaking of Christ. How he entered into our sinful world. And in the context of sinful humanity and confused philosophers, he reminds us that this story, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, this promise, this unbelievable love is Good News. It is Deeply Good News.