Order from Chaos

I just spent half an hour cleaning my air conditioner. Before that I was scrubbing the tops of my bathroom cabinets. Why, you may ask? Well, partly because I have a new roommate moving in this weekend, and standing on the toilet in sports bra with bluegrass blaring at 10:00 at night is the sort of thing you need to do while you live alone. But also because I love doing it.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized I love to clean for the same reason I love to write: it’s an attack on chaos. See, I believe God created with purpose and precision. He brought beautiful order out of overwhelming disorder, sense from confusion. But then (too tragic for words), sin flung the entire cosmos into disarray. And now the whole world, it seems, is bent on collapsing into chaos—from children living in city dumps, to broken marriages, to persistent dust bunnies.

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A Lullaby

Find rest, my soul
In the God of cricket song and fireflies,
The composer of the evening breeze.
Be still, my heart.
Steady your beat to the rhythm He brings–
A gracious cadence, unforced, unstrained.
Fret not, my mind.
Concern yourself with nought but tinkling rain.
The noise of your care has no place here.
Shut now, my eyes.
A Father’s Love guards your sleep with peace,
And as He watches over you, He sings.

• • •

Harry Potter

January 6, 2013. That was the day I realized I had been wrong. So very, very wrong. How do I even begin?

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in the U.S. when I was in the sixth grade. Somehow I didn’t hear about it until much later, and by that time they were showing after-school-special type films about the series turning kids into Wiccans at my Christian school. After most of the Church grew out of that phase (thank the Lord), the books had become so stinking popular that my snobby side kicked in, and I couldn’t be bothered to read them.

I took a Young Adult Literature course during my junior year of college, and we were assigned to read—you guessed it—Sorcerer’s Stone. I won’t say I didn’t enjoy it, but I was underwhelmed. Plus, there were elements that bothered me, particularly the anti-muggle sentiment. Harry Potter’s did not seem to be a world that invited me to see my own world with new eyes (as good fantasy literature should do)—it only gave the feeling that normal life wasn’t good enough. So I left the series there, feeling totally justified in my snobbery.

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Positive, Encouraging, Kitsch

I have a love-hate relationship with “Christian” music. I put that word in annoying non-quoting quotes because I don’t actually think music can be Christian. In fact, I don’t like the term applied to anything but people. If we believe God created the world, and all truth comes from and points to Him, then it’s all His—Not just certain art or bookstores. But, I digress.

Alas, there is a genre of music labeled as Christian, with which, as I mentioned, I have a complicated relationship. Though I am in many ways a product of the 90s Evangelical subculture, I grew up in a home where we were virtually forbidden to like bad music (Thanks, Mom and Dad). So while I knew a lot of the most popular CCM tunes (“Big Big House” anyone?) from children’s church and carpooling to school, Point of Grace was not a thing in my life. Come middle school, I was way to cool for Plus One.

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Why I Like the Smell of Snot

As you all know, Erin fills the virtual space of Act IV with many thoughtful meditations on intentional living. She refuses to allow the days to roll by without trying to wring the humor, awe, and spiritual satisfaction out of the mundane and marvelous moments alike. So, when she asked me to write a guest post for Blog Wars 2013, I wanted to write something worthy of that striving. I too am a firm believer that every moment, every scene is filled to bursting with meaning just waiting to be extracted and experienced.

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Introvert Fridays

It’s 9:04 on a Friday night. As I understand it, many of my peers are just waking up from naps and getting ready to go out. Some of them won’t even think about showing up to their favorite spots until 11:00. My more conservative friends will probably be getting home around that time, but they are nevertheless out and about right now, celebrating the end of their week by, I dunno, doing stuff. This is all crazy to me.

Just like most weeks, this Friday evening finds me chillaxing in my pajamas. I may watch a movie in a bit. I may eat a bowl of cereal. But you better believe I’m not venturing past these four walls.

• • •

Grand as a Million Stars

The chill settles in, and I try unsuccessfully to ward it off by tucking the blanket in around me. I’m actually shaking, but it’s a cold I like. Shivers come so rarely in July. Chimes ring in the wind, the noise drawing my gaze downward for just a moment before you gasp and point. Another one. I’m astonished by the eighth or tenth shooting star tonight, wondering at how each one is a little different.

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The Law of Freedom

If you ask me, Psalm 119 is one of the most unexpected passages in all of literature. Here we have an exquisite Hebrew poem: every word building on the next, every syllable intentional, every part coming together to make a beautiful whole. And the thread that runs throughout, the theme that ties it all together is … the law.

I’ll admit I’m a very mediocre poet, but even I know that rules, commandments, and the like make for poor poetic subjects. Could anything be less interesting? And yet, the Psalmist brings the full weight of his poetic gift in celebration of Yahweh’s law. He loves it, rejoices in it, studies it, clings to it for dear life. Why?

• • •

One Bachelor with Fries, Please

Well, friends, today is Monday. I gather most people do not enjoy Mondays, but I rather look forward to them. And not only because I like my job and my coworkers—though I do, immensely. I look forward to Mondays because of what happens at 8:00 p.m. Yes, dear readers, almost every Monday night for the last year and a half, I have joined 6 millionish others to watch ABC’s The Bachelor/Bachelorette. (Shout out to fellow-warrior Kelcie for sucking me in.)

Now, had I written that statement a year ago, this is the part where I’d be anticipating all sorts of shocked, outraged comments. But my secret has been out for a while, and I’ve found out that most of you don’t care. Still, I do feel an overly-defensive need to explain myself in some way, lest you think the shelves full of classic novels and the old-timey blog design are a sham.

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Fanfare for the Common Man

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit (a large bit?) of a snob. I recently told someone I could be snobby about anything—I laughed afterward, but I wasn’t really joking. I’m that person who talks about local produce, can’t stand American coffee or Twilight, and flies first class. (Ok, listen, it’s free. But just because I can’t actually afford first class doesn’t mean I can’t loathe coach.) In almost any category from art to lifestyle choices, I have a pretty secure opinion about what is best.

This is partly because I just really enjoy good things. Why settle for “meh” when such wonderful goodness exists in the world? However, every so often I get a glimpse into how unabashedly pretentious I can be, and, ugh, I annoy myself. So in moments when I start feeling my nose rising into the air, I ask myself this question: What would G.K. Chesterton do?

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