Friday, August 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is a very special day.  It is my dad's birthday!  I always puff up just a little when I'm telling people about my dad.  He is an impressive guy (although sometimes he doesn't see it).  Not all of you know him.  When you have lived and worked in so many different places, you make a lot of friends who only know who you are now.  The places and people you came from hang around you like dreams in your friends' minds--legends they piece together from things you've told them.  I wish you could get to know my dad like I know him.  But maybe you know him better than either of us realize...

If you've ever heard me laugh one short loud laugh from my gut, you've heard my dad laugh (except my voice is considerably higher).

If you've seen me making friendly conversation with strangers in line, you've seen my dad socializing.

If you've ever watched me working on a project, and seen me go oh so carefully, and get really frustrated with tiny mistakes that you can't see but that I can't seem to see past, you've been watching my dad work.

When I'm talking about something important and my eyes well up, and my voice gets all intense and wobbly, that's my dad talking, too.

You know how sometimes I can tell a story (even about something boring, like doing the laundry) and people listen like I'm the only one in the room?  I get that from my dad.

When I spend an afternoon reading wikipedia articles, it's only because I grew up watching my dad read the encyclopedia (or Caesar and Christ, or 2201 Fascinating Facts).

And if you've watched me jump into a technical conversation about something you didn't know I knew anything about and hold forth as if I'd studied it in college, you've seen my dad sharing his encyclopedic knowledge.

If I know how to learn everything I can from a situation, embracing the hurt as well as the healing, I'm only doing what my dad does.

And if I've ever faced a crisis with a clear head and a generous heart, it's because I've seen my dad pull together and do what needed to be done time after time after time.

I love my dad like I love myself.  Because, in many ways, he is very like myself--or, I am like him.  That's the best gift he ever gave me, I think.

So happy birthday, Dad.  And thanks ever so much for my present.  I could not ask for better!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

How about some pictures!

Some days, this is what I think the world sees when it sees me:

And then there are days when this is what the world gets:

Unfortunately, I think the latter occurs more frequently than the former...

We're still friends, right?
'Cause there are times when you've looked just as ridiculous, and I still like you.
(Actually, I think I like you a tiny bit better when you look silly.)

There's no real theme to this blog entry.  I just felt like we needed more pictures.  Here are some pictures of my time in Texas:

We went to the zoo.  (There are elephants in Congo, by the way!  I haven't seen any yet, but I'm in a port city, so that makes sense.)

This picture makes me laugh. Do you think the parrots know that there's a squirrel stealing their food?

We spent some time in Tenerife, Spain (the Canary Islands) while the ship was getting all ready to sail down to Congo.  It was beautiful.

This was taken on my birthday, when we all went out for pizza, sangria, and gelato (in that order).  Can you spot my twin?  (There's nothing wrong with my hand.  That's just the camera wobbling.)

I miss you all so much it hurts, but my life here is very rich.  I hope that your lives are also full of funny faces, exotic creatures, opportunistic squirrels, beautiful architecture, marvelous friends, and ice cream... 
or something equally as good.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rain on the Ocean

We've been sailing for almost a week now.
(What!? you say, eyebrows so far up your forehead they become part of your silhouette, I thought you were in Texas!  What happened to the rest of your training?  Have you nothing to say about returning to the ship?  Weren't you just in Spain?  And what about your birthday?  Aren't you going to say anything about that?!)  I have no good response.  All I can say is that sometimes all the things you think about saying clamor so loudly in your brain that they cancel each other out.

But I was just standing up on deck 8 as the ship nosed its graceful way into a rain storm.*  I watched the rolling watery hills change from glossy to matte.  Countless pinpoints of water hitting water soothed my ear, like the faraway applause of about a million gnomes.  It felt so good to be outside after a killer first three days of school. (Oh yeah, school started.  I didn't tell you about that either.)  We're headed for the equator, so the air is warm and wet and welcoming.  And even though all 360 degrees of horizon is unimaginably flat, I can still sense Africa when I stare out to port.  We saw dolphins a couple days ago, and there were orcas on Tuesday.  I thought I spotted some birds this afternoon, which would be impressive, considering how far away from land we are, but it turns out that flying fish actually flap their wings (who knew, right?).  It occurred to me recently that yet another of my ridiculous childhood fantasies has come true.  I am a sailor.  I live on the sea (at least, for a while I do).  Is that not amazing?  It's not something I ever set out to do, just a longing I had whenever I read books about seafaring adventurers, and now here we are.

I take it as a sign of God's character that the life He's given me is far deeper and richer than I could possibly construct on my own.  And that He delights in giving me ridiculously extravagant gifts.

*Okay, really it's just a bunch of rain.  I have a feeling that if it was a real storm, I wouldn't be sitting quite so comfortably at my desk right now.)