Saturday, July 31, 2010

what do you do...

...with a giant painting of the Great Wall of China? With years of Japanese fans, cups, clocks, and bags? With a Turkish tea set that will kill you if you drink from it? With walls of books, other books, books, and more books? It's difficult to pack up any house - to clean things, downsize, move to a new home, a new state, a new life. But it is more difficult than you can even imagine to pack up the Smith house.

If you've ever visited, you know why. Our house is beyond random, just like we are, and happens to be filled with a bunch of things we can't get rid of. The biggest bonus of moving is that you get to clean and organize, to toss everything you no longer need and, in a way, start fresh. But there's a catch that's holding us back - an unspoken rule; you don't throw out things that missionaries give you, and you most definitely don't get rid of books. So we're packing. And packing. And packing some more. For the day - whatever day that is - that our "official" residence becomes Wilmore again rather than Jackson.

Good news: that whole thing about moving to "a new home, a new state, a new life" doesn't really apply to us. While it is a new home, it's not a new state, and it's definitely not a new life. It's the same life, with the same people, just in a somewhat different way. More good news: we're not really leaving. Living a nomadic lifestyle seems to go hand-in-hand with being a member of the Ron Smith family; we'll be back. Somehow, we always come back.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that humans can only be one place at once. I've been fighting that fact for years (and almost succeeding, might I add). But when it really comes down to it, we can't be in New Jersey, Kentucky, and Mississippi all at the same time, physically anyway.

So like I said, we're packing, and packing just the things we need. For me, that means essentially nothing but clothes, pictures, and books. But for our family as a whole, that means shelves and drawers and cabinets of what my friends refer to as "foreign artifacts," and WAY too many books. Useful? Not particularly. But no questions asked; the Turkish tea set (and everything else unusual) is coming with us.

Friday, July 23, 2010

(not so) perfect attendance

You know those people (maybe you're one of them) that stress if they miss class, because they're behind on the information and constantly worry about what they might be missing? I'm definitely not one of those people. I can skip class on almost any day and not think twice. Yes, skipping makes things more difficult later on, and, yes, I find myself constantly pushing the limits, but hey... If your teacher allows 5 absences, and you can take all 5 and still make an A, then what are you still sitting in class for? As long as you strategically use the absences, you're good to go. If you can afford to do so (those words being the key disclaimer), be spontaneous, take a day off, and enjoy the extra time. It's worked for me the past 14 years, really, really well.

It's still working for me today, which is why I find myself typing a rambling blog post at 11:32 AM while I should be in my 10:00 to 12:00 clase de espaƱol. But after last night's adventures - which I will explain another time and in another place - and my decent grades so far this summer term, I decided I'd celebrate Friday and peace out the second hour of class. Here's how I will be spending the remainder of my now-one-hour-longer day:

Sitting - in the Delta Gamma house.
Working - on rush team responsibilities.
Reading - sponsor forms (see above "rush team responsibilities").
Listening - to John Mayer's Battle Studies.
Waiting - for Morgan to arrive from Starkville.
Wishing - I had the great moments of this summer on video, so I could physically watch them again and again and again.

Quote of the day (a shorter one this time!):

"I'm sorry you can't stay longer," said Alec sadly. "There's so much more to see in the Forest of Sight. But I suppose there's a lot to see everywhere, if only you keep your eyes open..." --Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

Thursday, July 15, 2010

quote of the day

I know, I know. Most people don't like reading long quotes; they see a huge block quote, stop really reading, and start skimming. But I'm about to post a block quote anyway.

I'm reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship. The start of the book sets the stage for the rest of it; Bonhoeffer discusses the difference between "cheap grace" and "costly grace." In this case, cheap grace is bad and costly grace is good. But grace is supposed free, right? That's what they teach in 4th grade Vacation Bible School anyway. So how can "costly grace" possibly be a better thing than cheap grace? Read on - really, read - and see Bonhoeffer's beautiful description...

"Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble. It is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us...

Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus. It comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light."...

For those still reading, it looks like costly grace is better than cheap grace after all. And yes, it's still free, just like our VBS teachers told us. But it's costly...very costly. What, then, are we going to do about it?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

freedom is not free.

The dorky history-major side of me comes out in full force on the 4th of July. It's inevitable. Have you read the Declaration of Independence? The words are beautiful, and were painstakingly written in the midst of years of fighting and hundreds of sacrificed lives to get us where we are today. Look at the land outside of your window; look at the floor under your feet. Someone died for you to have that.

Most 4th of Julys I am in Maine at the cabin. This year, however, I found myself home alone in Jackson while the rest of the family was still in Jersey. Luckily, I was not really alone. As an "orphan" for the weekend, I became an adopted member of the Kelly family. My friend Scott Brabon was there too; his family is on the mission field in Taiwan, which obviously makes him way more of an orphan than me this summer! Anyway, the Kellys are wonderful and took both of us in for a couple days of food, fun, and fireworks.

(American flag cupcakes confession - not actually made for the 4th of July. Made for the USA/England World Cup game a few weeks ago. But it captures the patriotic spirit of this post nonetheless...)

(Me, Gracie, and Scott with some celebratory sparklers.)

It was a great weekend. I am now back in Oxford and currently find myself, once again, in the Union watching the World Cup. Uruguay 1 - Netherlands 2 in the 72nd minute. Let me also mention that I am the only caucasian here; literally, it is me and 20(+) international students. I can understand a bit of the Spanish being spoken behind me...wait...GOOOAAALLLLL! Uruguay 1 - Netherlands 3. Looks like the Dutch are about to take this one. Better go watch the rest of the game with my new foreign friends! Until next time.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

it's been a while. (part 2)

More pictures from the last three weeks. I'm glad to see my Mississippi friends again but, oh, how I miss these places and these people...

Of course, pictures and words aren't really enough to sum up all of the randomness, which - at bare minimum - involved long walks and talks with the cousins, Jersey corn, Wawa, tents, beach tags, Maplewood, midnight diner trips, Boost, midnight Italian sub marathons, and reunioning with some of our best family friends. People headed to the mission field, people temporarily back from the mission field, other preachers' kids, Laura's and my adopted big brothers and sisters, and countless other people we have literally known for as long as I can remember.

I love Mississippi with all my heart, but it's so good - and so necessary - to remember where I come from.

Friday, July 2, 2010

it's been a while.

Here's where I've been...

1. Jackson. For a few days after the return from Guatemala, I was hanging out in Jackson, catching up with friends, and obsessively watching the World Cup. (Side note on the World Cup - sad day that the USA lost to Ghana, but I've been super excited to see how many people here got into the games.

2. Ocean Grove. AMAZING place. Dad preached here for a week. It's the oldest continuous Methodist camp meeting in the country and right on the beach. We made tons of new friends, played on the beach, had bonding time with JD, and got some much-needed, quality time with the cousins.

3. Delanco. Another AMAZING place. Not so much for the beach, or the facilities, or any type of factor that would make a camp appear worthwhile to an outsider, but the people and the presence of the Lord are unlike most other places I've ever been. Trust me. It's holy ground.

4. Oxford. For two nights I have been back at school, starting Spanish class and back to obsessively watching the World Cup. I am currently sitting in the Union with a bunch of foreign kids watching the first half of Brazil/Netherlands. I actually need to quit watching ASAP because class starts in 12 minutes... Anyway, I'm going back to Jackson for the weekend, where I will stop being such a slacker with the blog. More pictures of the New Jersey adventures to come!
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