Blogiversary

It was two years ago yesterday that I started this blog! It’s been a fun ride. As I approach the checkered flag and look forward to the next chapter, I feel like I should say something original and profound. And today of all days should be the perfect day to write something interesting. It was a big day. Lots happened. Singing Christmas carols, admiring beautiful Christmas lights, a party, some fun conversations with friends. Ironically, the day has left me exhausted and quite unable to write anything. So many things seem so normal.

But perhaps what I’ve learned most from this blog is that there’s a certain profundity in normal Christian life. Observing life more closely doesn’t make life more interesting; it shows you the magic that was already there. So there’s a small thought. And perhaps that’s profound enough for a blogiversary post. This only the smaller half, after all.

Evergreen

Green is the color of spring. There’s green everywhere in the summer. Even in fall when shades change, there are still splashes of green in the trees. And while most trees lose their green and their leaves as winter approaches, some trees keep their color. When Christmas comes, we decorate with green and consider it one of our special “Christmas colors.” We use an evergreen tree as one of the central symbols of the season.

There’s nothing uniquely “winter-y” about green. It’s always there. But when everything around becomes bare and white, the green stands out more than ever. And so we take notice of it and even celebrate it.

I feel that a lot of Christmas is like that. The best things about Christmas — our Savior, family, friends, giving, food — are all there all the time. We’re so blessed, and so often we take our blessings for granted. When we’re able to take time to reflect on all that we have throughout the whole year, we realize how much God has given to us. And so, like the evergreen branches of the tree, we celebrate it.

Teaser: Nocturne 20

Mother was still weaving late into the night. It was a new pattern, rich with deep blues and purples, lined with a glistening gold. Her foot worked the machine rhythmically as the spindle slid over the wood and through the silks in soft arpeggios. On the other side of the one-room dirt house, the young boy in his bed near the window listened to the gentle humming of the loom as he watched the stars through sleepy eyes. The sky was big and clear. Under such a sky, there was no way to doubt that someday everything would be better.

Meanwhile, mother wove. Weaving was not a great source of money, but it was enough to get them through this difficult time. Father would not be gone forever. Before long, nights like this would be filled with laughter and stories of adventures, and everything would be better.

The boy’s thoughts were interrupted by the friendly chatter of a group from the wedding across town as they walked back to their houses, laughing and joking about the evening’s events. The quiet sounds of joviality seemed to lighten the room. There were still happy people everywhere. Soon mother and he would be among them.

As the chatter died down, however, the night once again grew deep and somber. The boy drifted off to sleep as mother continued weaving.

What Happened

I looked for a friend,
And your heart was the clearest.
I called you my dearest,
And I was your fellow.
We stirred up the stars,
Dipped our brushes in moonlight,
Reached out in the blue night,
And painted it Yellow.

Rhymes with…

I tried to write a poem for Thanksgiving. I tried to capture the warm, spiced scent of a crisp autumn day, the sounds of family mingling and chattering and enjoying being together, and the way the pies look when they collect themselves onto one table amidst the other desserts, awaiting their fate. I wanted to take all of the things that fall into Thanksgiving, all of the leaves and the pumpkins and the candy corn, and use them to draw our hearts upward to our Father, the Source of all good gifts. But I had no success. It’s not just that the list of things to be thankful for is too long, or that the desserts and the special time together are too sweet, or that I kept thinking of parts of Thanksgiving that I had accidentally left out, like singing songs around the piano or reading Bible verses about God’s goodness or picking teams for football in the yard. All of those things certainly added to the difficulty, but mostly I just had trouble with rhymes. It turns out most everything about Thanksgiving is orange.

Red and Lowering

I did a quick search for the word “red” in the Bible. It rarely means anything good. Red is the color of war and death, of vengeance and violence, of prostitutes and murderers. Red is the color of the stew for which Esau sold his birthright. Red is the color of the wine upon which we forbidden to look. Red is the color of the dragon in John’s vision of the last days. Christ once quoted a common saying about the weather. Though red sky in the evening bodes well, in the morning they would say, “It will be foul weather today: for the heaven is red and lowering.”

God is an expert at taking the negative things of the world and using them for His glory. The redemption of man was secured through death, which is the result of the very curse from which man was saved. The Red Sea that sealed a death-sentence for the people of Israel broke and became their salvation. The red cord, a sign of Rahab’s worldly occupation, became her only lifeline. The blood of Christ that was shed in mankind’s darkest hour became our brightest gift.

Christ closed the gap between earth and heaven. In order to pass from death to life, man must pass through His blood. That morning, heaven was red and lowering. But it’s not bad weather that it speaks of; these words written in red are Christ’s words of love to us: “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins.”

Teaser

Scott scribbled his name again. This time he didn’t even look at his hand; he just listened to the wax tip of the colored pencil brushing over the paper as it dropped off its signature trail. His ear tried to keep up with the pencil’s rapid changes in direction as he sounded out the spelling of his name. The S struggled around tight curves, probably on a mountainous road. The C took a pleasant walk around a sunny field before being chased around the O by the two Ts who stood straight and tall, their arms interlocked, daring anyone to try to break through. This was the sound of his name. Scott was a game of Red Rover on a mountain.

“Maybe that’s why my hair’s red,” he thought as he continued scribbling his name, attempting to fill every white space on the page.

Before Scott could finish his task, a sound came floating up the stairs and through the doorway, filling his room and covering the walls. It was his brother playing some music on the piano in the living room. The tune was unfamiliar but vivid. Scott quickly sat up, crossed his legs, closed his eyes, and waited for the colors.

For Decoration

The books of the prophets in the Old Testament are filled with warnings of approaching wrath and judgment. God’s justice is important, and it’s encouraging to remember that He will always have the final victory over those who rebel against His holiness. But even so, it’s easy to get lost amidst all of the bad news and wonder if there’s ever relief from the endless cycle of sin and judgment.

The book of Isaiah is one of the most complete revelations of God’s character in the Bible. Isaiah thrusts the reader into the darkest of days under the heaviest of God’s punishments then pulls him back up to the brightest, highest of mountaintops. One such mountaintop is in chapter 54. After a book full of judgment upon judgment, God promises that His mercy once bestowed upon His people will never cease. The cycle will stop, and judgment on His people will end.

Salvation from the holy wrath of an all-powerful God is more than anyone could ask for. To have a sure foundation that we can stand on is more blessing than we could deserve. But God, knowing what His people have been through, goes beyond simply promising a foundation. In soft and tender words, God reveals not only His mercy but also His infinite kindness, love, and tenderness: “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted.” Speaking soft words, He promises them, “Behold, I will set thy stones in fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy pinnacles of rubies, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy border of precious stone.”

Like a Father promising good gifts to the children in whom He delights, God promises His people that He will decorate the foundation and the dwelling of their life in color. They will not only be saved; they will be beautiful.

All people on earth are in one of two states: either they are currently bearing the weight of unpardoned sin, or they used to be. We all know what it’s like to be in danger of God’s impending wrath. Once saved, we are forever secure from condemnation. But beyond that, God has promised us blessings beyond what might enter into the mind of man. The work will not be complete until we are called to meet our Lord, but as we grow to be more like Christ, we can look at Him, the foundation of our lives, and see something beautiful, something colorful, something that reveals the kindness of our heavenly Father.

Life in Color

I’m learning every day. When I’m sitting in class, I’m learning facts and concepts that give me a fuller understanding of my world. When I’m with friends and family or when I’m observing people interacting, I’m learning about human nature and what makes people tick. When I’m reading the Bible and spending time with my Heavenly Father, I’m learning about the purposes that He has for me and for everything in life.

Because I’m constantly learning, my perspective on everything is constantly changing. Bits and pieces of ideas and truths swirl around my head, connecting and disconnecting, reflecting, refracting, and reworking themselves into new and different shapes.

Over recent years, I’ve noticed a trend in everything that I learn. As I allow God’s Word to fill my mind and become the lens through which I see everything, the world appears as an increasingly wonderful place. By “the world,” I don’t mean the selfish, sinful, sensual side of the world. That becomes darker and blacker as I turn towards the light of the Son. But the overarching story of the world, a story of God’s redemption of man, and the bits of God’s glory that are clearly carved into every bit of the Universe’s fabric sparkle with meaning and purpose.

Knowing that everything in this world is under a curse from the fall of man and that this world is merely a shadow of things to come, I’m overwhelmed with excitement about what God has planned for the future. And I’m overwhelmed with humility when I think that He would allow me to play a part in it.

“The kaleidoscope claims another;
This is Life in Color.”

~ OneRepublic

Future Plans

When I began The Smaller Half, I wanted to write a blog post every day for a year. Somehow or other, I did just that. I even continued blogging for another year, albeit slightly less often. Through the course of this blog’s history, I’ve written dozens of poems, a couple short stories, and hundreds and hundreds of posts containing varying degrees of substance. And now I feel like everything about this particular chapter is winding down.

After the end of this year, I am going to stop updating this blog. It’s a decision that I’ve been pondering for a while, and perhaps one that I should have acted on sooner. I feel The Smaller Half has served its purpose, and I would like to end it in a controlled manner rather than letting it slowly fizzle away.

I have no plans to stop blogging. Before I let this subdomain rest, I will have a new outlet for sharing my thoughts in a slightly different format. I’ll communicate that here as soon as it’s all solidly in place. Until then I’ll continue posting here like normal, though I hope to write a bit more deliberately in order to adequately wrap everything up and avoid leaving a mess when I move out.

Thank you, reader, for making me a small part of your life. I hope to continue sharing adventures in a meaningful way as we look towards the new year. I have much to share, and this was only the smaller half.