Miracles Between the Trees

Last Sunday, after my duties with the orchestra were completed, a fellow musician and I awkwardly made our way to the only seats available, the very front row.  Then I sat in that front row and listened to a powerful message called “Between the Trees.”  You should really go watch or listen to the whole thing, but for the purpose of this blog post, here is the bottom line:

The garden of Eden was full of light and joy and meaningful work.  After Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God cast them out of the garden.  He assigned angels to guard the Tree of Life, to protect Adam and Eve from eating of its fruit and living forever in a broken world.  (Yes.  Wow.)

At the other end of the story, the Tree of Life is described as a central feature in the heavenly city, bearing fruit in abundance, growing on both sides of a great river of life.  This city will be full of light, and joy, and meaningful work, and the Tree of Life will produce fruit enough for all of us to have plenty.  (Yeah.  Wow, again.  I swear, when this pastor speaks, it’s like I’ve never heard these stories before.)

But right now, we live between the trees.  This part of the story, between the trees, has brokenness.  Violence.  Hate.  Selfishness.  Insecurity.  Illness.  So many things are void of light and joy and meaning.  But…there are miracles.  Supernatural miracles and everyday miracles.  Things that fill us with light, and joy, and meaning, in the midst of brokenness.  Perhaps, Pastor Mark proposes, God is giving us little portions of true reality, of how things are supposed to be, of how things are outside of the brokenness between the trees.

And fitting for celebrating Thanksgiving, I see so much good between the trees!



On Monday, a student brought something she had made over the weekend.  A ribbon will a flag for each member of the class, including myself and the teaching practicum student that is with us for a couple of months.  This girl worked so hard on these flags.  The classroom is a busy, stressful, demanding place lately, and love shines through anyway.



A conversation with my two-year-old niece at 5:30 in the morning one day recently:  “Have lunch, please?”  Yes, we can have breakfast.  Are you hungry?  “Yes, right here (pointing), my tummy?  My tummy feels hungry.”  What should we have?  Grapes?  “Yes, grapes.”  How about some toast?  “Oh, yes, toast, toast!!!  Yes, please!  Toast, please!  It’s so yummy and good!”  Okay, let’s go make some toast!  “Yes, please!  Make toast!  And butter?  Please?  Put butter on?  So yummy and good!!!”



On Sunday, I was grading trimester reading tests and having some really, really big feelings.  About data.  It turned out to be numbers I can live with, but still, disappointing, and a bit of an emotional ride.  I took a break to surf Facebook for a moment, and I found this video of Alondra de la Parra conducting a symphony rehearsal.  Such visible passion!  I love an animated, passionate conductor.  Then later that afternoon I went to an orchestra rehearsal of my own and had some soul-healing moments in real life.  I am so grateful that a little musical passion often seems to solve all my problems.  I’m so grateful that I’m wired with a soul-deep love for music.  I know it’s a gift not offered to everyone, and I can only hope that everyone can recognize a soul-deep love for something in themselves.


Liberal Arts

Several moments lately have reawakened my love for reading.  Conversations with friends, a good book that has consumed me, and a movie.  I recently watched the move Liberal Arts, and the characters just made me love myself a little more, strange as that may sound.  Anna is only in the movie for a small portion of the story, but she made the biggest impact on me.  She seems unwilling to compromise who she is and what she loves for what people expect her to be.  She says she is trying to read less and go be social more, but not because of what the world expects, but because of the value she sees for herself.  Jesse, the main character, tells a college kid, “I have a soft spot for good readers.  They are hard to find these days.”  The movie is full of discussion of serious literature, trendy vampire novels, and classical music.  Watching it was like reading a good book – I wanted to highlight quotes I liked!  I’m so grateful for the off-beat, smart movies like Liberal Arts and lots of others that I love.  I’m so grateful for fiction (in the form of movies, TV shows, books) that make me feel inspired to do what I do and feel free to love what I love.  I’m so grateful for the propensity to be absorbed by a good book.



A few days ago I made chicken noodle soup.  Like, from ingredients.  Potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, chicken stock, herbs.  Bay leaves, for crying out loud!  I used a cutting board and a soup pot.  I scrubbed, peeled, and chopped.  The smells of simmering soup filled my house.  In my life, which is just as busy as I like it, cooking from ingredients is a rare treat.  And it always refreshes my love for my home!


There are the usual gratitudes of family, friends, health, home, etc.  And I love all of those things more than I can adequately describe.  But this life between the trees is full of small moments of passion, of light, joy, and meaning, of secret little moments that go unspoken.  I’m so grateful for them.



The theme of my life the past few days has been:  You can’t capture something in a photograph.

But I keep trying.


The heat and humidity of July transform my view into a lush, green, vibrant scene full of life.  Oh, how I love this place I call home!  I’m not spending much time on my deck this summer because a family of swallows has built their home up near the ceiling when I wasn’t paying attention.  I don’t want to evict them when they’re just trying to raise their children.  Full disclosure…also because it freaks me out when they swoop at me.  My tomatoes are dead because I stopped watering them, and it’s worth it to not be dive-bombed by angry bird parents!  So I will happily enjoy the view from indoors until they migrate for the winter.


A couple of months ago, the pastor at my church was describing spiritual gifts, and he described musicians and “conduits of the Holy Spirit.”  He said that when we play or sing, we allow ourselves to be a channel for God’s presence to flow through us into the people who are listening.  That perfectly describes my experience of playing music…not just at church, but so many of my experiences with singing and playing over the years.  I feel a power and divine presence sometimes that I often try and fail to describe.  Pastor Mark labeled it accurately.

Sometimes I don’t know how to choose a church, how to keep committing to be a member of this community of believers week after week.  Sometimes I don’t know how to decide if a point of disagreement is a reason to leave or not.  Sometimes I don’t know if the fact that I respect the pastor and love the ministry outweighs the fact that I am supremely uncomfortable with this church’s stance on one issue.  Sometimes I don’t know if this church thing is for me at all, when I’m really more of a “rogue Jesus follower” and I like it that way.

But when I sit with the view you see here, when the Divine is flowing through me and filling the room with power and presence…it feels like none of that matters.


Oh, this sky.  As beautiful as it is in the photo, it was even more glorious in person.  You cannot easily contain the size of the sky in a photograph, can you?

Simple Woman’s Daybook

Not ready to go to sleep, even though it’s late.  So I’m going to slow down my brain with this lovely exercise from http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/.
Outside my window…dark.  And damp.

I am thinking…about colorful Christmas lights.  I love the multi-colored ones better than just white or all one color.

I am thankful…for friends with whom to share this crazy journey of life.

In the kitchen…the holiday treats are starting to pile up!

I am wearing…warm pajamas.

I am creating…Jesse tree ornaments with bible verses and quotes from Ann Voskamp.

I am going…everywhere!  🙂  Plans to visit family, thoughts in my head about visiting friends VERY far away and also about participating in a mission trip soon.

I am wondering…about the future.

I am reading…Water for Elephants…still.  There is so much to do, I can’t seem to sit still enough to get through it.  Actually, I know this very experience is part of that issue.  There is not “so much to do;” I just won’t settle into stillness and quiet.

I am hoping…for strength and patience.

I am looking forward to…a break away from the first graders for Christmas.

I am hearing…sweet silence and comforting noise.  The noticeable absence of t.v. or music.  The neighbor turning on the water.  Traffic.  Muffled conversation in the hall.  Alone, yet not alone.

Around the house…Mostly clean!  I love it when my house looks like a magazine.

I am pondering…a few things I heard in church on Sunday.  In particular:  “Jesus hung in front of a crowd, bloody and naked, for you.”

One of my favorite things…is a lit candle.

A few plans for the rest of the week…finish Christmas shopping!

Wednesday Gratitudes

I am grateful…

1. for Wednesdays.  They are sort of magical.  You wake up thinking, “Ugh, over half the week is left.”  And you come home thinking, “Awesome, only two days left!”  🙂

2.  for my best friend, the Kleenex box.

3.  for my musical training, again.

4.  for opportunities.

5.  for ice water.


If you are reading this, please pray for a particular family with me.  It would be wildly unprofessional, and possibly illegal, for me to discuss the details.  But they are in need of prayers for courage to do the right thing, and clarity of what love really means.  Believe it or not, in my several years of doing this, I have never encountered a family who needs our prayers more than this one.


There’s a raging sea right in front of me / Wants to pull me in, bring me to my knees / Let the waters rise, if You want them to / I will follow You / I will follow You

–“Let the Waters Rise” by Mikeschair

Random thoughts for the day…plus gratitudes

A bunch of random crap.  Gets a little personal.  Beware.  🙂


I used the word “crap” with a student today.  Oops.  He was reading, and I said something like, “You missed all that crap right there.”  Darn it.


Twitter…why am I sort of obsessed with it?  I have Facebook.  I like Facebook.  My friends are on Facebook.  I don’t think any of my (real-life) friends do the Twitter thing.  However, I signed up for a Twitter account finally, so that I could follow the tweets of the bloggy-friends!  🙂  So, if you do Twitter, follow me @dawnmorning1212.  Follow me where?  Well…nowhere.  Yet.  I have only posted one tweet so far!

Facebook and Twitter via text message…  Should I do it?  Not do it?  I don’t have the web on my phone, and I don’t care to, at this point.  But I often think of things to update my Facebook status when I’m waiting in line somewhere, or whatever.  But would I like all the incoming updates???


Gadgets…  Got an article at class tonight about “Generation Y.”  That’s me.  Born between 1977 and 1995.  I have to say, though, that’s quite an age range!!!  I haven’t read the article yet, but apparently it touches on all our gadgets that we have.  Ipods, laptops, digital cameras, mobile phones…we can’t go anywhere without being “plugged in.”  But the upside is, when we need information, we have it immediately.  Finding maps and restaurants when you’re on vacation.  Checking the weather.  News.  Sports.  Celeb gossip.  Okay, it can get a little out of hand…but we just live this way.  I wouldn’t know what to do without constant access.

Connection…  On that note, some of the women at my book club on Saturday morning were talking about how disconnected we are because of our “digital” connections.  We don’t know our neighbors.  We don’t live in community the way people used to.  Among other things, I would say to that, it’s always up to me to make a personal connection.  Also, the world of blogging has allowed me to make connections with people I otherwise wouldn’t even know.  And the world of Facebook has allowed me to stay connected with people that would otherwise have been in and out of my life.  It’s all a form of communication.  Community.  Even if it doesn’t look like what some might think of as “community.”


From MckDaddy’s post over on MckMama’s blog:  “Choosing fornication over sexual purity before I was married was a love the feeling and hate myself activity.”  This is not, in any way, meant to be a judgement on anyone else’s choices!  But for me…yeah!  I’ve never thought of it that way, or heard it described as such.  How honest, candid, and courageous of MckDaddy to say that.  (He must process things publicly like I do!  :))  Even in girly world:  “I love feeling like I get to have this person forever, even if he’s made no such claim.”  “I love feeling like he loves me so much he just can’t stand not to be with me.”  “I love the feeling of having this power over his desires.”  But if I loved myself…  You have to love yourself before someone else can love you.  I’m still learning that. 

I once told my sister that the only way I know to teach my future daughters about sexual purity is to give them a condom and say, “Go find a nice boy,” because I absolutely don’t know how to explain it.  🙂  (And God says, THAT is why you don’t yet have children!)  But my sister, thankfully, said, “Oh no you don’t!  If you get to that point and you still don’t know what to say, you send them to me!”  Okay.  It’s a deal.  And if she has children, I’ll potty-train them and teach her what to do with tantrums.  Piece of cake.  I’ll take tantrums, diapers, potty-training, screaming in church, biting, anything if I can get out of the sex talks!  🙂


Don’t ever move to another apartment in the same building.  People never change your address.  I’m still going around with my car loan people, trying to get them to put the correct address on my bill!  I don’t recieve the bill in time to make the payment!!!  I had two phone conversations with them today…one to pay the bill (with the $12.50 fee for paying over the phone instead of mailing it and having it be late) and one to change my address.  And even on the phone, they were like, “No, we have that address, blah blah apartment 11.”  And I tell them “blah, blah, apartment 3,” and they’re like, “that’s what I just said.”  CHANGE THE APARTMENT NUMBER.  Leave everything else the same.  How hard can it be???

AND THEN, they’re like, “And can we expect the next payment to be on time?”  ARGH.  I would LOVE for the next payment to be on time!  Is the bill going to be on time???


It’s off to bed to get some more Bella and Edward!  Actually, I’m up to the point where it’s going to be Bella and Jacob for awhile.  (Went to see New Moon.  Have to read the series all over again.  For the third time.)  You know, if Edward really were out of the picture, Bella and Jacob could have had a good thing going.  A large dose of time, coupled with Jacob’s goodness and understanding…it could have been very healing for Bella, had she needed it.  But Stephenie Meyer was right when she said that people should read New Moon twice.  Once you know how things will turn out with Edward, you can take your time and really enjoy “the wonderfulness that is Jacob.”  🙂


I am grateful for:

1. Twilight series

2. those little no-back cookies from Wal-Mart bakery.  WAY better than homemade!

3. That school and homework are always easier for me than I expect.  I know everyone is not so lucky, and I do not take it for granted.

4. the band Leeland

5. all my gadgets  🙂


Both hands tied behind my back with nothing.  These times when we climb so fast, we’ll fall again.

–“Battlefield” by Jordin Sparks

Wednesday Gratitudes

I am thankful…

…for church choir.

…for friends who disregard the walls I build around myself!

…for good examples in my life of people who give of themselves with reckless abandon.

…for VERY warm water in the pool tonight!

…for a God who loves us always, is always on our side, is constantly making everything new again, and is always beside us ready to be our support.


What if I told you your tears haven’t been ignored / And everything that was taken can be restored

–Enation, “Feel This”

Tuesday Gratitudes

I am ever so grateful for…

…MUSIC EDUCATION!!!  (See the post that will be following this one very shortly!)

…A short class tonight, running an errand and still getting home before 8:30.

…Shamrock shakes are back at McDonalds!  🙂

…The dishwasher.

…A day without t.v.  Crazy thing to be grateful for, maybe, but I feel like I have a clear head tonight.


Take your hesitance / And your self defense / Leave them behind, it’s only life / Don’t be so afraid / Of facing every day / Just take your time, it’s only life / I’ll be your stepping stone / Don’t be so alone / Just hold on tight, it’s only life

–Kate Voegele, “It’s Only Life”

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