Monday, December 31, 2007

The Eyes of Your Hearts Enlightened*

*from Ephesians 1:18

It is by now quite obvious that Tim does not contribute to this "Tim and Cameron" blog. My original intention (and you can see the flaw here) is that we both would post thoughts and pictures about our new life in Seattle, and if Tim actually contributed you'd probably hear more about highway traffic and his work at Microsoft -- though most of that is confidential, even from me -- but since he isn't so inclined, you're stuck with me.

It was never my intention to make this blog at all akin to a journal, but since I have ample time to think about things often what comes out is a bit like that. And as I consider it, the truth is that these journal-style entries really are snapshots of life here for us. If I only wrote about our trip to the Market or what it was like to have snow in Seattle then I'd be leaving out most of the living part of life.

I just have a quick thought as a follow-up to my last post about the job/what-am-I-doing-here situation. Yesterday at church the sermon was about one's calling or purpose. Of course that caught my attention, and I think subconsciously I was sending the pastor a message: Yes, tell me! Tell me! I was hoping for some revelation about a job or career, the way some people feel called to teach, for example. The pastor said that our calling comes out of our identity, and he defined our identity using this verse:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

I felt like the eyes of my heart were enlightened, like it says earlier on in Ephesians. It just made sense to me, showing clearly who I am and what I'm here for. I really love the last phrase of the verse, not only because it's so poetic, but also because of the image it calls forth: walking in the good works that God has prepared for me to do. This is my purpose, not some job. It could be a job, but it can also be any number of things. And as a runner that really speaks to me, because the image is active. As I stand poised at the beginning of a new year, ready to run into it, both literally and figuratively, I have hope that God will continue to reveal his purpose on the path he prepared for me beforehand.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas!








We had a great Christmas with Tim's sister Jane down from Alaska, where she's posted with the Air Force. It was fun to have her here to share in the holiday festivities. We got to see the Nutcracker (with sets by Maurice Sendak) and do a lot of cooking and baking at home. Highlights were making toffee for the first time (surprisingly easy, though it burned the pot) and baking their Grandma's Christmas cookies--Tim had fun making a herd of pigs (one of several random cookie cutters we had). We also tried making traditional wassail, which was an interesting experiment and decidedly one we'll not try again: too potent!
We were so surprised to get snow on Christmas day, which was very fun, though we enjoyed it from the indoors. A couple from our small group came over for Christmas dinner and it was nice to spend the evening with them. Tim's taken the week off from work so we have certainly had a very lazy, very enjoyable Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Definition of Success

Today I found out that I wasn't selected for a position I was really excited about at the Seattle Art Museum in the Education and Public Programs division. I've had a lot of ups and downs on the job front over the last few months, and it seems like every time I find something I could be interested in and enjoy doing, the opportunity passes. This was the one I've probably been most excited about out of all of them, barring a job in the communications office of the Seattle Public Library I applied to a couple of weeks ago, and which I just noticed was no longer on their web site. I was hoping to celebrate Christmas next week with a job offer in hand, but that's not the case. This area of my life has been tough since we moved to Seattle and I'm dealing with the constant question, "What do you do?" as we meet new people and make connections in the city.

It's really been a lesson in humility. Many of you know that I didn't get into Cornell flat-out: I was waitlisted, and didn't arrive on campus until January of my freshman year. That was really hard coming out of high school when I thought my grades and activities should have gotten me into any school I wanted. The school I wanted, at the time, was Columbia, and I was devastated when I was waitlisted there, too, and eventually denied admission.

Then I went to Cornell, absolutely loved it, fell in love with Tim, and got married. I wouldn't change any of that for the world. Even for Columbia.

That was my biggest setback, until graduation, when I was also denied admission to all five of the graduate schools I applied to. Granted, for graduate programs in creative writing most people apply to at least 20 schools, and my friends who did that got in. But my priorities at the time were to be close to Tim, who had another year left at Cornell, and to be at a place that admitted only the best of the best. So I was rejected, and honestly, probably rightly so. After a year's hiatus and five or so months now of steady application my writing is so much better than it was then.

But I still don't have a full-time job. Most days I'm ambivalent about that because, while it would be nice to be making money and "out in the world", I'm plenty busy and mostly enjoying what I'm doing. The thing is, though, despite two seasons of pretty heavy rejection, I still don't expect it. I thought I was a shoe-in for that job at the SAM.

It kind of has turned my evening a little gray. But then I look around at our house, which is starting to be well furnished. We are happy and healthy and have an obscene amount of gifts under our tree. I'm honestly embarrassed to look at them, even though I know we set a budget for our holiday spending. I am so happy to be married to Tim, and to be where we are, and to be working on a project that seems to be writing itself. It's just hard sometimes to escape that memory of what it was like to be at Cornell, and everyone's expectations for the great things they were going to do after graduation. Two years out--Dec 17 was the second anniversary of my graduation day--this isn't exactly what I thought I'd be doing. And yet I'm doing what I never thought I could: writing a book. Not having an "important" full-time job hurts my ego some, but times like this remind me that my value and my identity do not lie in my vocation.

We just finished studying Philippians at church, and Paul was a man at the top of his game: blameless and successful in every respect when it came to doing what was expected. He was a high-ranking Pharisee and obeyed the law to the letter. He couldn't have done better. And then he met Jesus, dropped everything, and became a tent maker just to get by. He was beaten, shipwrecked, persecuted, and jailed. And he was probably the single most influential person in the world when it came to the spread of the Gospel.

Not to compare myself with Paul, but he wasn't a very successful guy by the world's standards. I suppose I shouldn't yearn to be, either. Though not having a full-time job often makes me want "more," I have so much to be thankful for. Ironically, tonight Tim and I are going to a party to give a recently emigrated family from Ethiopia a substantial sum of money, donated by our church small group. This family has literally nothing, not even a permanent place to live. They are looking for jobs just to get by--a stark difference from my situation, which is looking for a job to show how capable I am, or to do something fun and exciting and "use my degree." It is good to be able to bless these people, and also to remind myself of what is important, and what life is really about.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

O Christmas Tree













Tim and I went out near the foothills of the Cascades to a tree farm in the little town of Carnation to cut down our Christmas tree last weekend! It was super fun, but I expected there to be snow on the ground out there. Oh well. But it was a beautiful sunny day and probably about 50 degrees--not like any other time I'd been out cutting a tree!
After cutting down a Korean Fir (never heard of that time before, but it smells great!) we paid for it in the barn. We also bought our first Christmas ornament there together, and old school amber glass one that looks kind of like a teardrop. It had been a tradition in my family for my brother Logan and me to pick out a new ornament every year at the tree farm where we cut down our tree in Lebanon, OH. So it was fun to start doing that with Tim. We are loving our first holiday together as a married couple, and are learning how to express our expectations for what we "usually do," as well as create our own new traditions. Tim made the tree topper (I helped a little), which is an elaborate star made out of strips of white paper. He had made a similar one for his family's tree back in Ithaca several years ago so I was happy for him to make one for us! Much better than buying one.
We are getting the house ready for Tim's sister Jane to visit us for Christmas next Saturday. She lives in Alaska right now and it will be great to have her here! We plan to go see the Nutcracker and show her the Seattle sights, and then make a low key dinner on Christmas and try wassail for the first time. It has also been interesting shopping for gifts for each other and trying to hide them when we live them in the same house!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Snow!






Here are some photos Tim took of the snow in Seattle on Saturday while I was in Charlotte visiting family. I wish I could have seen it in person (rain soon after melted it all away). What a great way to ring in the month of December!