Island Living

Hello from the Island of White Marble – more commonly known (at least to me) as Paros! I write from a warm little apartment, more specifically, on a broken wicker-bottom chair provided for me by my landlord, Jimmy. He’s a very nice man. He takes good care of us.

I’ve officially been away from home for more than a week and boy oh boy has it been a roller coaster. Never in my life have I experienced such a vast array of emotions (in their utmost intensity) in such a short amount of time. It’s exhausting, really. But what a beautiful exhaustion it is! This place is a treasure. No kidding. The water here is the most beautiful, rich shade of teal. The whitewashed buildings only look the same until you get close, when you see the sweet, soft colors of each of their doors – my favorite so far has been a delicate lavender/gray. Beautiful.

Life is slow and steady – everyone’s up and going by 10:00, not 8:00 as I was used to. You bid one another “good morning” until 2:00 pm, when everyone closes their shutters and rests until 5:00, at which point you’re allowed to switch to “good afternoon”. It’s a late night city, Paroikia, with restaurants and bars open until far after my breathing has slowed and my dreams come alive. It would be perfect if I didn’t have the circadian rhythm of a 90 year old man.

This place is so far from anything I’ve ever lived, and yet, this is my reality for the next three months of my short life. It’s sometimes a struggle to live in today, right now. My yearning flesh leans its heavy weight on the security that my romanticized future promises. But what a thief it is! My real time is wonderful – I’m fighting to believe and rejoice there.

The hardest part thus far is not being with the souls I love so dearly and only being able to see their pixelated faces on the screens of my apple products (which I am thankful for!). Oh what I would give to wrap my arms around my Texans! My sweet family! My triad! My bible study! My team! My Maniak! But cyberspace will work for now.

You wanna know my favorite part of this whole thing? The quiet streets. The life is so evident, but unseen. It’s mysterious and inviting and coy. Paros is a whisper and I want to draw nearer to hear what it has to say. Unlike home, where there’s no missing anything, and if you miss it, you learn to deal because the world will move along without you. This place has secrets and it will wait for you to discover the missing pieces and I love that. I used to play this Nancy Drew computer game and it’s sort of like that, only with less death and explosions.

I don’t have much else to say.

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Confessions of a Compulsive Organizer

The office in which I work is currently going through an all-building make-over.  The entire building (which is a beautiful, old, gray stone house) is getting repainted and re-carpeted, room by room.  Since the end of the school year, absolute chaos has ensued.  There hasn’t been one single week that there hasn’t been a mountain of paper and files and big blue bins towering beside the student desk where I sit.

Next week is our turn to be made-over.   This means everything in the office has to be packed up and moved, and then moved back and unpacked once the painting and carpeting is done.  Now, let me explain this office to you.  It’s Miami’s News and Public Information Office.  What we do is handle all the news that is written about the university, people associated with Miami…we do it all, even articles that merely mention a student or professor…we get it.  You’ve never seen so much paper in your life. Unless, of course, you work at Dunder-Mifflin, which would be awesome.

The entire process of moving around papers and files and binders and big blue bins and paper clips has been fairly tedious, not only because of the amount of items that need to be moved, but because of all the useless things that pop up out of nowhere.  You know, the tiny American flags, the area code lists from 1991, the pencil sharpener, and the other pencil sharpener and the boxes that hold nothing but air.  Those are the frustrating things.  Any logical person would think “Just throw it out!”, but…for some reason, we’re not.  I ask and plead and get on my knees and beg to throw out the crumpled up presentation folder, but it stays, because someone might be able to find use for it.  Let me tell you something – no one will ever need a crumpled up presentation folder.

One thing I enjoy about my odd little brain is my organization.  I learned it from my father, bless his heart.  A neatly stacked pile of papers really get me going.  If you get me near a closet with hangers neatly displaying their contents equally far from each other, separated by type of clothing…well, I may just faint from jubilation.

One key rule of organization is this: if you don’t need something, get rid of it.  Unnecessary items create unnecessary clutter.  Sentimentality is the ultimate bad guy for someone trying to get their stuff in order.  “Oh, but maybe in a few years I’ll remember this broken necklace that I won at a carnival when I was twelve and I’ll miss it”.  No.  You won’t.  Throw it away.  The world will go on.  This is what’s happening in m y brain at work right now.

So here I am, at the student desk, with nothing to do but blog because all that can be dwelled upon and moved and moved again has done so.  I’m casting my stones at all these people who are in desperate need of help parting with meaningless objects and I realize…I do this.  In my heart.  I do this.  Let me explain.

I may be awesome at keeping physical space clean and organized, but when it comes to inside my heart, my mind…I don’t let go of anything.  Not one thing.  I hold on to every little thing that’s said to me, that happens around me or because of me or to me.  And instead of moving on, throwing it out, good or bad, I just carry it to the back room and stockpile everything.  In some cases, it’s okay.  But when it comes to sin, well, that’s not okay, not even close.

As Christians, we are washed clean by the precious, innocent blood of Jesus.  ALL our sin is covered.  We learn from it, and we hold on to those lessons, but the sin itself is useless, it serves no purpose but to trip us up as we attempt to pick up our crosses and follow Jesus.  But (oh, that weighty word, but.  I could go on and on about this word, but [there it is!] that’s for another post.) but there my sin is, pressed tight against more sin on either side, crammed inside a recycled FedEx box, gathering dust in some corner of my brain’s stock room, which, by now, is bursting with boxes and boxes of sin, begging to be purged.

Hebrews 12:1-3 is one of my favorite passages of scripture.  Let me share it with you:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

How beautiful are these words?  If only I could apply them to my life!  Here’s what these words say to my heart and my brain and my soul.

Therefore, since you have all these awesome people surrounding you, pounding truth and love into you, get rid of that nasty sin that you have stockpiled in your brain.  All it does is consume your conscious thought and distract you from Jesus.  RUN THIS RACE that the Lord set out for you, fixing your eyes on Jesus, the one who ran it perfectly, and won.  He is your example.  For Heaven and Love and perfection, he bled and died, being mocked and tortured and spat upon, only to RISE (hallelujah!) and ascend to Heaven and sit down in His rightful place – next to His Father, Our Father!  Remember Him, who went through hell so you don’t have to, so that you can keep going, and finish, and be with Him forever.

It doesn’t have to be messy!  Your brainsinclutterballofmisery doesn’t have to overtake your being!  Christian, you can be free.  I’m saying this just as much for myself as I am for both of you reading this (thanks mom and dad).  Let’s purge this crap together.  I’m not sure how.  Prayer, lots of prayer.  Filling my mind with beautiful things, letting go of sin faster, repenting faster, feeling peace faster and longer and forever.

That’s about all I have to  say about that.  Keep running,  purge your stockpile, look to Jesus, even when the dust from your sin boxes gets in your eyes and makes you sneeze.  Clarity and joy and dancing is ours.  Let’s make some room so we can squeeze as much as we can into our human brains.

Here's a nice picture. I hope you think it's nice too.