Monday, December 26, 2011

Monday's Musings: Take Joy

Beauty amongst the Thorns
Greer, AZ May 2010, photo taken by Kara Haberstock, all rights reserved

This world is broken.
“Don’t be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land….matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy” (Ecclesiastes 5:8).
We are broken. We all know that we are. There are parts of us that are empty and just ache so. You can try to fix your own brokenness with money or people or things that make you feel good for now. It won’t work.
Money runs out.
“Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth- expect perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!” (10-11)
And everything else eventually passes away. Possessions wear out and break. People leave. All falls to pieces.
“We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us” (15).
And all of this seems quite hopeless. We seem quite trapped in our fate. But there is one who has come to give life, abundant joyful life.
“To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life- this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past” (19-20).
I want to be so busy enjoying the life God has given me that I have no time to bemoan what has passed. This I think is what it looks like to seize every moment. I want to live in celebration. I want to live in joy.
It seems like the appropriate spirit with which to begin the New Year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Grandma's Christmas Tree
St Louis, MO December 2010, photo taken by Kara Haberstock, all rights reserved
In the beginning the Word already existed.       
  The Word was with God,
      and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
      and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
      and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
      and the darkness can never extinguish it.
 God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”
From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart.

He has revealed God to us.

John 1:1-18

And this is the story of Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Weekend Reading

Last Gift Guide of the season! Here's the In Honor of Design Holiday Gift Guide Catalog! It might be a bit late for these sorts of gifts....but there's always next year. Have a very merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Photos for Wednesday

Only a few more days till Christmas! I thought I'd share a few pictures from last year's Christmas, which I spent with family in St. Louis, MO. These are a few of my favorites:

Gazing out Up and up On the lake Fading Fall Snowball fight Up the Lane

All photos taken by Kara Haberstock, December 2010, all rights reserved

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Living with Lewis: Another's Pain

The only thing worse than being in pain is watching someone you love in pain. Or at least that’s how it is for me. And now I’m dating someone with a chronic illness that sometimes flares up, causing incredible pain and agony. It’s excruciating to watch, to sit there and not be able to do anything except hold a hand and pray. Another flare means another trip to the unfortunately-familiar local emergency room. And as I sit there, I know I would do just about anything so that I could take the pain away. I wish I could take it myself. But I can’t.
One thing I’ve found is that sometimes it’s not your own pain but the pain of others’ that is hardest to bear. From the midst of pain, I may cry out in frustration, I may question God’s goodness, but I can endure. I know that good will come from it. I trust that this too shall pass. But when it’s another, someone else, not me, and I sit there, wishing I could take the pain and crying out to God for relief on their behalf, trust is harder. The small voice in the back of my mind cries out, “God, if you are good, how can you bear this? I am selfish, imperfect, and not good, and yet I would give anything to take this pain, but I can’t. You can. How do you not act? If you are good, why don’t you do something?”
I came across this the other day in A Grief Observed:
“Yet this is unendurable. And then one babbles- ‘If only I could bear it, or the worst of it, or any of it instead of her (Lewis’ wife).’ But one can’t tell how serious that bid is, for nothing is staked on it. If it suddenly became a real possibility, then, for the first time, we should discover how seriously we had meant it. But is it ever allowed?
It was allowed to the One, we are told, and I find I can now believe again, that He has done vicariously whatever can be so done. He replies to our babble, ‘You cannot and you dare not. I could and dared.”
I think sometimes that he has done more than we will ever be able to imagine.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday's Musings: Mouth Shut

Towards the Heavens
Rome, Italy, July 2008, photo taken by Kara Haberstock, all rights reserved

“As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. Don’t make rash promises and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. after all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few” (1-2).
So opens the fifth chapter of Ecclesiastes.
I know that I often deny God the reverence he deserves. It’s easy to think of him as a friend, the One who never leaves, a lover, a father, and to forget that he is the Sovereign God of all creation, who holds all things together, who deserves all glory and honor, who rightfully demands that all things bow before him. He does not exist for my benefit; I exist for his. And thus, that what I do in his presence, especially when I come before him to pray and to worship, should not be done thoughtlessly. I serve a God above all others, a holy, righteous, perfect, infallible, unfailing God. Yes, I should be honest before him, I should be myself in his presence, I can be confident in his perfect love. But this does not mean being insincere or irreverent. And it does not mean that it’s okay for me to ramble and prattle on. I know that God loves me more than anyone will ever be able to, I know that he loves me in the midst of my quirks and shortcomings, and I even like to think that he smiles at the little tics of personality that I have (such as fumbling over words and tending to rant on certain issues). But I must remember just whose presence I am sitting in. (With this comes one of the other major themes of this passage. Don’t make empty promises to God. If you tell him you’ll do something, do it. Otherwise, don’t make that promise at all.)
In addition, when I think about it, I often fail to give God even the smallest bit of consideration that I give to my friends. By this, I mean that I fail to listen. So often my interactions with God consist of me talking to him for a short or long period of time, then saying goodbye and going on my way. Sometimes I’m talking about how great he is, sometimes I’m making requests, sometimes it’s a mixture of the two. But I don’t stop to sit and listen to him. If I treated any one of my friends like that, our friendship would fail. It’s not too much of a stretch to think that God doesn’t take kindly to that either. He wants to speak into my life, to tell me about himself, about what he is doing, to give me guidance, to give me missions for others, to show me how he wants to use me. But he can’t (or at least it’s much more difficult) if I don’t listen. I like the way Solomon puts it:
“Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead” (7).
So I will come into God’s presence, mouth shut and ears open. It’s time to listen.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Song for Sunday: Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding has one of the most unique voice, and I find her quite intriguing. In honor of the holidays, here is her cover of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas."

Ellie Goulding, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, for Sun Sessions

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Weekend Reading

I've got another fabulous holiday magazine for you with lots of gift ideas! Check out the Holiday Guide by Emily Henderson. I love all the DIY decor ideas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Links

Winter Skies

I hope you all have had a wonderful week! Finals are finished and I am more than ready for the holiday break. I've got all sorts of lovely art links to share, full of films, mapcuts, photography, and more. Enjoy!

The film I posted yesterday is actually one of a series of films called Parallel Lines sponsored by Philips Cinema. Check out the rest of these films here. This one is my favorite.

These mapcuts are amazing.

I like this illustration; it seems appropriate for this time of year.

Check out this artist. This infographic is one of my favorites.

These Christmas pics are adorable.

Montana is such a beautiful state.

I love this print.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Short Film Thursday: The Gift

This week's short film is a brief sci-fi thriller with a bit of Christmas theme. It's not what I usually watch, but it's set in Russia (a place near and dear to my heart). And the suspense is fantastic. I couldn't help but share it:

The Gift from BLR_VFX on Vimeo.
Directed by Carl Rensch

DIY Special: A Bubble Chandelier

These are some picture of a lovely light fixture I made for myself before moving into my new apartment two years ago. The original inspiration was Jean Pelle's Bubble Chandelier, and I loosely followed some DIY instructions she published in ReadyMade magazine. The total cost is $75 dollars, but I used clear glass ornaments instead of the CB2 glass balls and saved a bit of money. Overall, it cost me a few hours and about $40, and I still love it two years later. It can be a little tricky to clean, but since I used the clear glass ornaments, I just buy new ones every year and swap them out. The effect in the photos comes from filling some of the ornaments about halfway with water. Here's the tutorial from the February/March 2009 issue of ReadyMade that I based my project on. Enjoy!

Made by Kara Haberstock, photos by Kara Haberstock, all rights reserved

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Photos for Wednesday

I took these on a trip to Kyrgyzstan in the summer of 2010. We spent a week on the shore of Lake Issyk-kul, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, and one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen...

Mackerel Sky
Violet Fields
Mountain Showers
Fire and Water
Rising Peaks

All photos taken by Kara Haberstock, July 2010, all rights reserved

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pinterest Picks: Red and White

It's almost Christmas!!! (And I still have so much shopping left to do....)
Anyways, red and white has always been one of my favorite Christmas combinations, so here's a few of my pinterest finds:

Photo Credits
 Berries in a porcelain vase from A Creative Mint 
Japanese fabric patterns from  Tarte Advertising, Inc
Coconut snowballs from. Framed Cooks
A Norwegian house in winter from  Bonytt
Trader Joe's wrapping paper from A Creative Mint 
A lovely white wreath from Design is Mine

Living with Lewis: A Good God

For most of my life, I’ve struggled with the question of whether I truly believe that God is good. There’s always that question in the back of my mind, the voice that asks, “Then why so much suffering?” If God is truly good, then how could he let such things happen? To me? To others? To the already struggling in Port-au-Prince? To the already broken who are hit again and again when they’re already down. I cannot fully understand this. But I’m beginning to discover a few things I haven’t considered before, things that I’ll probably be wrestling with a while, but things that bring some progress, I think.
First came the realization that my definition of good might be faulty.
Lewis writes in A Grief Observed:
“The terrible thing is that a perfectly good God is in this matter hardly less formidable than a Cosmic Sadist. The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed- might grow tired of his vile sport- might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But supposed that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorable he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operations was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless…What do people mean when they say, ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good’? Have they never been to a dentist?” (60-61)
What if good means that the suffering is necessary?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday's Musings: Ambition

Greer, AZ 2010, all rights reserved

In the last few weeks, I've been reading Ecclesiastes as well as Lewis, and I just finished chapter four the other day. I never ceased to be amazed at how relevant this book remains; chapter four opens with:
“Again I observed all the oppression that takes place under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed with no one to comfort them. The oppressors have great power and their victims are helpless” (1). 
     It’s that time of the year in my classes when we’re studying the capitalist world system and the havoc wrought by free trade agreements, subsidies, and wage undercutting. We’ve watched interviews with migrants so desperate to get to the US where there is at least some economic opportunity for them to better the lives of their families that they are willing to risk injury, rape, or death again and again. We’ve traced how some have profited massively off of others’ exploitation, while the exploited remain trapped in an endless cycle of poverty, pain, and hopelessness. Oppression is everywhere still.
     And it begs the question of how I, living in the wealthiest nation on earth, can do anything to help, to change something, to ease the oppression, when it is built into the entire system in which I live that is so much larger than any individual. Should I strive to be successful if I know that my success is possible only because of someone else’s exploitation?
Another point is added: “Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless- like chasing the wind” (4). Ambition motivated by envy does seem very meaningless and unfulfilling. but what about ambition itself?
    I’ve never considered myself an incredibly ambitious person. I’m not very motivated by money- it’d be nice to be rich but that’s never really been my goal. There’s things I would love to do, but I didn’t pick the career path I’ve chosen for the salary I’ll get (in fact, it’s quite the opposite). Power isn’t the point either; the last thing I really want is to become some high politician. So this seems to preclude me from the ambitious category, at least in my mind.
     But I do want to be significant, to be remembered for something. I want to write a groundbreaking paper, to cause some sort of social change, to draw attention to something that matters. And this, I do think is ambition. And there’s another form of ambition at work in me. According to a friend (and I think she’s quite spot-on), I am highly motivated by ideals. I tend to be a martyr-type. I’d love to sacrifice my life, my work, my happiness for some greater good and be remembered for that. That’s what would make it all worth it. Sometimes the cause has to do with ministry and furthering the Kingdom. Sometimes it’s Chechnya or child soldiers or the rights of women. But I want to be remembered as driven, as passionate, as tenacious, as a crusader for the oppressed, as someone willing to sacrifice for something greater than themselves.
     This ambition is far from bad. I like to think that it will drive me to do great things, for the people around me, for people far away, for people created in the image of God who are suffering from injustice and oppression. I like to think that it will help to further the Kingdom, to bring hope to the hopeless and relief to the suffering. But over the last few months, I think I’ve learned a few things, namely that unchecked ambition, no matter how worthy of actions the ambition propels us to, is meaningless, as Solomon would say. It misses the point. Give in to it fully, and it will steal from us the abundant life that God wishes to give.
“I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun. This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, ‘Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?’ It is all so meaningless and depressing.
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (7-12).
    I know this passage is often read at weddings, but that’s not what I’m talking about here and I don’t think that’s exactly what Solomon’s talking about either. I think the point is companionship, community, and conviviality. The point is that ambition, when run amok, isolates us. If we throw all our energy into our work, into achieving that goal, into achieving our idea of success, we will alienate ourselves from everyone around us. And that alienation will prevent us from experiencing all the joys that God want to give to us, that best-possible life that he has for us. We were not created to live life alone; we were created to live with others, beside others. God, in his full character, is best reflected in our relationships with others. Jesus’ command to us was to love others and to love God (which we do by loving others). If I let my ambition, however good or holy it seems, go unchecked, I will not be living out that command at all.
     See, as much as I might think that I am loving people by serving the oppressed, by fighting for their cause, by working for them (and yes, I do think I am loving them in some way), that is not enough. It’s easy to love an idea or a group or a person you’ve never met. It’s much harder to love those whom you see day-in and day-out, those you see at their worst and best, those who see you at your worst and best. It’s much harder to have real relationships, to knock down the walls that you’ve built up for your own self-protection and let people see the sides of you that bring you shame, to love others despite their imperfections and tendencies to accidentally (or even purposefully) cause pain. The greater good, the oppressed far away, the picture of a starving child in Somalia is much easier, much safer, to love.
I am not saying that loving these is bad; it is completely necessary. We must give voices to the voiceless and work tirelessly for the cause of the oppressed. But to let that preclude us from the call to relationship that God places in all of our lives is to miss out on the entire point of life God is calling us to. And I have been so guilty of this.
     My plan for a good chunk of the last few years has been to devote my life to some sort of social justice, to preventing ethnic conflict, to helping rebuild war-torn nations and bring relief to devastated people. And this cause is good. I believe it is part of my call. But my plan for this looked like me, alone, traveling and working and wholeheartedly pursuing this goal at the cost of maintaining relationships. I planned to run solo through foreign nations and war zones as some sort of lone crusader in the cause of true justice. And this was not good.
     God, instead, has been slowly challenging my ambition, or better put, my control of my ambition. He has been chipping away at it with the quiet but persistent message that I was not created to run through my life alone. I was created to live in community, with others in real relationships. He has revealed the motives behind my often unchecked ambition: the fear of truly loving, of letting anyone close enough to hurt me, the unwillingness to trust anyone enough to really invest in them. This summer, I was given the opportunity to run around a foreign country alone, to start pursuing my goal, my dream. And I was finally able to see my ‘plan’ for what it was: empty, lonely, miserable, and meaningless. Completely isolated, without any sort of true relationship with others, I am frighteningly far from that which God created me to be. Ambition unchecked is an exercise in futility.
     Now I have to stop chasing the wind and turn back to the One who has held a plan for me from the beginning, to give up my blind ambition and surrender to that to which he has called me. My passions, my dreams, my ambitions are still to help the hopeless and oppressed. But I’m more open to pursuing them in unexpected ways, way that don’t fit with the grand martyr-like ‘plan’ I once held. Ambition, godly ambition, meaningful ambition, must be checked and balanced like all else in life by that which God has commanded us to do: love each other. This comes above all else and before all else.
     So I will not be running around the world alone fighting for what is right and good. It’s a nice ideal for a storybook, but not for truly living life. I still want to combat the evil and ugliness that comes with ethnic conflict, but the pursuit of this will not come at the expense of the relationships that God has placed in my life, at the expense of loving those around me. I don’t quire know what this will look like, but I can have perfect faith in one thing: that God, who controls all things, will continue to provide for me, step-by-step, and he will not let me go. And following him will lead to things much better than I could ever have possibly planned for.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Song for Sunday: My Brightest Diamond

This has to be one of the loveliest lullabies I've ever heard:

My Brightest Diamond | I Have Never Loved Someone | A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weekend Reading

Check out this beautiful catalog from Ruche with all sorts of great DIYs and recipes for the holidays, as well as some lovely gift ideas:


Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Links

The weather is back to sunny and almost warm here in Tucson, so I plan to spend most of my weekend outside. But whether you spend your weekend outdoors or cozied up inside, here's some fun link:

For other Tucsonans, the fabulous Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair is this weekend

If you're looking for a silly stocking stuffer, these matchbooks might be just the thing

Looking for gifts for guys? Check out this site

Ever wondered if there was a better way to get those pomegranate seeds?

I'm sure that having something like this in your house would inspire childlike wonder

I highly recommend making this recipe for breakfast sometime this weekend (It's delicious!)

And whatever you do, have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Short Film Thursday: Clever Christmas Ad

I've got another Thursday film for you. This ad for Muji has to be one of the most clever uses of a Christmas carol I've ever seen...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Photos For Wednesday

Autumn is ending. Despite the official start of winter being a couple weeks away, winter has definitely come to Tucson, and it is cold! (Or at least very cold to an Arizona native). Anyways, before fall is completely gone, I thought I'd share some of my favorite fall photos, taken on a trip to Upper Lake Mary outside of Flagstaff, Arizona.
(October 2011, Photos taken by Kara Haberstock, all rights reserved)

Storm Coming
Waiting for the Rain
Thistles in October
Sunset through the Meadow

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pinterest Picks: Pretty Lights

pinterest via tumblr

polaroid nite lights II Besim Mazhiqi

Daniel Farmer via Sarah Kaye Representation

West Elm Porcelain Tea Light Holders, $8

Living with Lewis: A House of Cards

I finished A Grief Observed  the other night. It’s amazing (per usual for C.S. Lewis). Anyways, I’m on my second read through it now. I’d love to share everything at once, but I haven’t entirely grasped it all yet myself (although I doubt I’ll ever quite grasp it all). Plus that would lead to quite the long post. So I’ll just share bit by bit that which caught my attention.

“I had been warned- I had warned myself- not to reckon on worldly happiness. We were even promised sufferings. They were part of the programme. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accepted it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for…The case is too plain. If my house has collapsed at one blow, that is because it was a house of cards. The faith which ‘took these things into account’ was not faith but imagination…If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came. It has been an imaginary faith playing with innocuous counters labelled ‘Illness,’ ‘Pain,’ ‘Death,’ and ‘Loneliness.’ I though I trusted the rope until it mattered to me whether it would bear me. Now it matters and I find it didn’t.” (53-54)

Have you ever discovered that your faith wasn’t quite so strong as you thought it was? For me it seems it happens so often. I’m so good at building houses of cards and fooling myself into thinking they’re quite solid after all. But then the wind comes and everything’s fallen to pieces again and all I can pray is “I believe, oh God, help me in my unbelief…”

This very thing came up in Bible study last night when reading John 11. Lazarus dies, despite his sisters' pleading with Jesus to come and healing. Jesus tells his disciples that everything will work out, that this won't end in death for Lazarus, but he does nothing of the sort for poor Mary and Martha. So when he finally comes, four days late, Martha goes out to meet him with this cry: "If only you had been here, my brother would not have died."
But she doesn't stop there. No, she follows up her cry with this: "But even now, I know that God will give you whatever you ask."
And in that moment Martha exemplifies the kind of faith we are called to, faith that cries out to God in the darkest moments: "Even now, I know that you will deliver me."

I believe, oh God, help me in my unbelief

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday's Musings: Discipline

I have been struggling lately, struggling to hear God’s voice, struggling to feel close to him, struggling with the feeling of incredible dryness. I can’t get over this feeling that I cannot quite get to where I should be. I have highs, where I feel purposeful, useful, close to God, filled with the Spirit…but then I slip back into the desert yet again. It’s been a point of great frustration lately. I have prayed again and again for relief, and the only answer returned to me is: “Seek me and you will find me.”
And my heart rebels against that answer. I am weak and tired, God. I want things to be easy. I don’t have the energy for this. I cry out, Why can’t you just come find me like you did before?”
But things are different this time. I am not who I was before. I have learned that this too is part of the discipleship process. I am not trapped, unable to free myself. No, this time, I hear, Pursue me. If you truly want me, run after me. I will be found, if you are willing to pursue.
It’s called discipline.
I’ve been living a lot in Hebrews 12 lately. It’s a great chapter, if you’re not familiar with it. In it, the author talks about stripping off everything that holds us back, and running full out this race God has set out for us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, not getting discouraged because we realize that the difficulties that we must bear are only a small fraction of those that Christ did. And then it goes into some encouraging words that have to do with….God disciplining us? It didn’t make sense to me at first. So I’m supposed to take comfort in the fact that I did something wrong and things suck right now because I’m being punished? But I was wrong. Discipline, while most strongly associated timeouts and grounding from my childhood for me, does not mean punishment. Rather, it’s part of growing, part of maturing, part of being transformed into a new creation. I discipline myself to be a better pianist, better student, better friend. And now, God is disciplining me to better reflect him. He is the God who pursues me. Now I must become the one who pursues God. Wholeheartedly, passionately, nothing withheld.
Hebrews 12:10b-12 reads:
“God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening- it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”
And later on, it reminds us:
“You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things…you have come to Jesus who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance…Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.” (from 12:22-29)
I am pursuing the God above all others, the one who is holy and awesome and full of power, deserving of awe and fear, all honor and glory. Such privilege is mine.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Song for Sunday: The Antlers

La Blogotheque Take Away Shows are absolutely amazing. Here, The Antlers perform their songs "Two" and "Epilogue":

The Antlers - Two / Epilogue - A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Weekend Reading

photo from Anthology cover, winter edition

Anthology, an beautiful magazine, has just published a digital winter edition with wonderful projects and pictures and all sorts of lovely things. Make yourself a cup of tea, settle down, and enjoy some holiday inspiration.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Rainy Day Links

It's a cold wet winter day here, so it's a perfect day to enjoy a hot cup of coffee and some fun links around the web...

On a day like today I'd love to have a cozy fire to curl up by

Perhaps with this book (it's one of my favorites)

Is anyone else excited that Christmas is coming?

I think these dishes would make a fantastic gift

And here's a fantastic wrapping idea from A Creative Mint

Want to give a handmade gift? Check out this fantastic tutorial for an adorable coffee mug

Need more gift ideas? Here's a beautiful gift guide from Creature Comforts.

I might make some of these to give as gifts this year

Well, that's all for now, but I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

PS: Guess where I'm spending Christmas this year!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thursday's Short Film: Orion House

Check out this beautiful film by Christopher Hewitt:
Orion House from Christopher Hewitt on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Photo for Wednesday

Prints - 09
Thistles in Fall, Upper Lake Mary, Flagstaff, AZ

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Living with Lewis

I love CS Lewis. I love how approachable he is and how well he explains the most complicated things in the most beautifully simple metaphors. I love reading his books- it almost feels like I’m sitting down with him for a cup of coffee and discussing the mysteries of life and faith and it’s just wonderful. So for the next while I plan to work my way through A Grief Observed, the latest book of his that I'm reading, and share what I find. This quote particularly got me thinking. And I guess I like it because it’s the same struggle I have. I really struggle quite often to believe that God is good. And it’s somewhat comforting to know that I am not the only one who wrestles with this question. I can’t wait to see if he comes to a conclusion later in the book. In the meantime, I’ll struggle with it myself and see if I come up with anything that rings true for me.
“If God’s goodness is inconsistent with hurting us, then either God is not good or there is no God: for in the only life we know He hurts us beyond out worst fears and beyond all we can imagine.” (44)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday's Musings: Processing Russia

Under the Icons
Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg, Russia, Photo taken by Kara Haberstock, July 2011

For those of you that don’t know, I lived in Russia for six weeks this summer, studying Russian at St. Petersburg State University. I’ve spent a lot of summers in foreign countries and learned one thing: whenever you go to a foreign country, God tends to turn your life upside. I suppose being out of your comfort zone makes it easier to get things done or something, but either way, my life got turned upside down as usual. And I’m just now beginning to make sense of it all.

Not too long ago, I had lunch with a friend who spent her summer on a mission trip abroad, and we talked a lot about how lives get turned upside down and things change. We talked about her struggle with bearing the world’s brokenness and my struggles with it following trips to Haiti and Kazakhstan and so many broken places. We talked about the balance between grieving and living, between allowing this brokenness to break us, to see God’s heart for the world that is just aching for things to be set right, and giving up this burden to Jesus because it is too much for us to bear. We cannot grieve for the world. There is a balance to be had: to see what is wrong in our world, the injustice, the pain, and pray for the day it is all set right while allowing this brokenness to break us, but to live in hope for the day when it is set right and embrace the joy set before us and see the good, the redemption that is happening all around us. And it was good to talk about these things: I love these sorts of conversations. I wish more people saw this, felt this burden of brokenness. I study ethnic conflict. I sit in brokenness everyday, and I grieve. If the day comes where I don’t grieve, then something is very very wrong. But God has also taught me to live in hope, in joy, in knowing that he is good and he is a God of justice and mercy and that he will redeem and restore and make beautiful.

We also talked a little bit about my summer, about how life has changed, about what parts of trips you tell to people and the parts you neglect to mention, and how even your memory of what happened changes. It was good to process, for one thing. But I also began to even realize how much I have not yet processed, how silent I have been, and how much this summer has turned my life upside down. My friend said quite plainly, “I left, I came back, and now I am a different person.” I didn’t see it so well at first, but the same is true for me. I am a different person. And the struggle now is how to relate that to those closest to me. Because they often do not understand, even though they want to, and some sort of rift is born.

Russia was fun. It was crazy. It was an adventure. I loved it. That’s the part I tell most people, and it’s true. But it was also incredibly hard. It was dry: I struggled to hear God’s voice, I felt isolated and alone, I was the only person on my program who was a Christian, I had no community. I was homesick: I missed tacos, I missed my friends, I missed Tucson (which never happens when I’m abroad). I came to the realization that I have become attached to people. And while that’s healthy (I’ve had major attachment issues for most of my life), it also means that I have changed, quite dramatically. I’ve always planned on running around the world, most likely solo. I wanted to do research abroad, to run around war zones, to be able to go wherever I want whenever I want without being particularly tied down to anything. I felt that it was my calling: my attachment issues only made it easier- there was nothing to hold me back. But then God began to chip away at my defenses. He called me to truly love people and let them love me, to form true friendships, true community. And then I left, like I do most summers, and I missed it so much more than I ever expected to. And suddenly, while I still want to run around the world, I’m not so sure I want to do it alone anymore.

While this was all happening, other changes were also occurring. My pastor here in Tucson preached a series on Ruth that talked a lot about male-female friendships and also relationships. And through this (I listened in Russia, and my friends went to church here at home), and other processes, some of which I probably don’t know about, one of my closest friendships changed. I’m now dating one of my best friends, and I love it. It’s awesome. But it means that there’s been a crazy change. Neither of us would be doing this if we weren’t thinking about the “m”-word, and this is definitely not where I saw myself, even as recently as three months ago.

So when my friend asked me point blank today, “Do you think the two of you will get married?” my answer was, “Most likely, yes.” We talked about dating and such and how she thinks she’ll be single for awhile because her prospects keep getting narrower (that’s what I always thought too). But it’s still so strange to me to say these sorts of things out loud. She and I used to be in the same camp, the “we’re not going to get married till we have out lives figured out when we’re 26 or something” camp. But now I’m in the “most likely married after graduation” camp and it’s just so different. And I fear it’s hard for those around me to understand. I’m not who I was. This relationship is the product of my life getting flipped upside down this summer. I went to Russia and realized that I don’t want to run around the world by myself anymore. It’s lonely and isolating and not as much fun as I though it was going to be. I still want to run around the world, but I want someone to come home to or someone to go with. I’m not unattached. I do need people, and I want to need people. I want those deep friendships. And I really like where I’m at right now. But it’s hard to explain that to those who knew me before. They can’t figure out what happened to the girl who wanted to run around the world solo and was ready to uproot her life at a moment’s notice. I think they fear that I’ve given up on my dreams, or that I’m getting pressured into something I don’t want, or that it’s just the hormones and emotions talking.

I don’t want to give up on my dreams of traveling and studying ethnic conflict. I still have a heart for the world, especially for the North Caucasus. But I have new dreams now and I want them both. It almost seems like there’s a rift now, that I’m still trying to put together. Someone told me that one of the reasons people don’t go to the mission field is due to relationships. I wasn’t dead-set on going into missions in the first place, but it’s definitely been on my radar, and it still is. I’m just trying right now to put the pieces together. I know how God has been calling me and burdening my heart, but I also know that this relationship didn’t just happen. There was a lot of prayer on both our parts and even resistance. This is terrifying for me at times; part of me still cries out, “What are you doing?! This wasn’t part of the plan.” But I know that this is good. I just don’t know how it fits.

I suppose my greatest fear is that these pieces actually don’t fit together, and that someday I’ll have to choose. I fear that God will call us to different places and that I’ll lose this relationship that I’m already beginning to love so much. It terrifies me, especially after coming to the realization that I can’t go halfway with this. I must go all-in. And thus there’s the question in the back of my mind: “What if you must give this up?” And I know that it would be devastating. But I also know that if called, I must turn to Him. I will go where I’m called. I just can’t help but pray that He doesn’t ask me to turn from this that he has given me.

So that’s where I am. Still processing. I don’t have many answers yet. Maybe someday I will. I have a feeling that by that point there will be lots of new questions to process. I suppose this is where another part of the conversation between my friend and I becomes relevant. We talked about how the Christian life is not easy, not at all. If anything, it’s harder. The burden is greater, the sorrow is deeper, there’s a grief that was never there before. To love like God loves is to suffer deeply. But we have hope in this: that the life we have now is not easier than the one we had before, but it is better. It’s harder, with greater suffering, more pain, more sorrow, but the joy is greater, the hope is stronger, and we know that Jesus came to give us the best possible life. And this is what we’re living, life in Christ. Abundant life, overflowing life, true life. And we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Brief Introduction

I must admit that this is not a blog that anyone is particularly meant to read. I'm an external processor, which means I like to talk about things whether anyone is listening to me or not. So, this blog works out well for everyone: I get to process and none of my dear friends or family have to put up with my rambling monologues. That being said, I tend to treat this as my own personal spot to muse, to share favorite music and videos, and to make note of significant ideas and happenings. So, wander at your own will and enjoy yourself.

All the best,