Is it wrong that I want to get married? Seems like everyone I know is getting hitched. Can I have that too, please? And yet... if I can't tolerate the company of a kitten for prolonged periods of time, then a human being who is bound to your side for the rest of your mortal life might be a mite tiresome at this point. Oh well. I guess it's just that season of life, that particular year-bracket where the altar is a patch of alarmingly fertile ground.

Last week was a nice week. I enjoyed it. This week is nice, too, although both have distinctively different flavors. Last week was ripe and full of summer possibilities. This week is cold, chilly, and anticipatory. Last week, I spent a whole day digging chicory roots and picking/preserving wild plums. It was immensely satisfying. Picking produce is like going on a treasure hunt, and I was rich while buried in leaves and branches, searching for the tiny, golden plums. They are sweet, but the skin packs a puckery punch! They're really no bigger than a cherry, so I was able to use the cherry pitter on the smaller, reddish plums.

I felt a morbid enjoyment while pitting those plums, because, though it was enjoyable, the pitter left wounds in the fruit strongly reminiscent of a shotgun blast. The exit holes were astoundingly large. However, the plums were still warm from the sun, happily bedded down in the wicker basket, and looking for all the world like a magazine advertisement. The sticky juice spurted everywhere, and brought the soft, happy smell of an outdoor summer day. Then, after dehydrating them, I packed them into mason jars and tucked them away into a cool, dark cupboard. Who knows what exciting occasion will bring them to light again? Maybe a backpacking trip to some local natural majesty, or a road trip with friends, or even my dreamt-of job at summer camp this summer?

Today, I realized that God loves me. No matter what. It sounds so flat and silly in print that I am loathe to talk about it. I want to treasure it up and keep it locked away safely inside my heart, where no one can run their thoughts over it and dirty it up, or wear it out, or expose it for some cheap counterfeit. But if I don't write it down, I might lose it. There is so much still sloshing around inside me that a treasure is likely to be carried off or washed out. Anyway, I read Romans 8:38, 39 in The Living Bible's paraphrase, and it really came home. God loves me, no matter what. It doesn't matter that my mom's boyfriend beat me up. It doesn't matter that my stepdad dragged my soul through the filth of debauchery. It doesn't matter that I've walked away, over and over again. It doesn't matter what vices I took up, what places I visited, what shames I enacted. And, it doesn't matter what I do with my life. It doesn't matter if I go to college or not. It doesn't matter if I stay in Kooskia, Idaho for the rest of my life. It doesn't matter that I quit Bible Work. It doesn't matter if I wear jewelry, or eat meat, or jump from the top of a building. God loves me. And nothing, absolutely nothing, is ever going to change that fact.

I also realized that God's love and my salvation are not the same thing. Just because God loves me does not mean I have the golden ticket into heaven. I still have my free will, and my choice. There's still that relationship that must be tended to. But you know what? If God loves me, no matter what, then... well, that means that I can trust him, doesn't it? Because when you love someone, you do the best by them that you can. The question that's haunted me--Does God have my best interest in mind?--is answered in the revelation of his unflickering love. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! So... this will be an interesting journey, this journey of trust that I now embark on.

O flame of hope, let loose your bright rays within me!
Dim not, gentle light, though time and wind be against thee.
In fearful times, when bleakness reigns,
'tis then I seek thy cheerful face, O flame of hope.

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