Tag Archives: hope



It’s not like there isn’t a whole universe to write about.

It’s not like the sun doesn’t rise every morning and set every night. It’s not like the world doesn’t explode in thousands of colors. It’s not like the sky wasn’t the perfect shade of blue today and the trees the perfect shade of green as I drove down those country roads with the radio on.

It’s not like there aren’t complex and beautiful human relationships weaving a tapestry of emotion and intimacy that wraps the world once, twice, a thousand times. It’s not like there isn’t complexity and depth and intricacy in the universal human experience.

It’s not like my world isn’t turning upside down, but the rabbit hole has so many wonders that didn’t exist right outside it. Everything is topsy turvy, but that’s okay. I’m just not who I was when i woke up this morning, but I’m not sure what has changed at all.

It’s not as if I’m not blown away by the world and everything in it.

So why do I find it so hard to write anything these days?


Full Circle


It’s my last night in this little apartment.

Looking back at old journal entries, I realized that it was a year and a week ago that I moved the bulk of my furniture into this place. My bed, my table, my desk, my chairs. No boxes or trimmings, just the bare bones.

I didn’t live there yet. I stayed with my parents until July when I moved in after my trip to Croatia. It still felt empty because my roommate was away at the time.

Now she’s in New York for the summer, and I’m getting married and moving down the street.

This was the first place I paid for. The first little home I made mine. I shared it with a lovely person, and we made some good memories as friends. But now we both are saying goodbye to the first four walls that saw our adulthood. Or our attempts at it.

It was a lovely place.

But it was never home.

I’m not attached to it. I love it here, don’t get me wrong. I love the neighbors and the setting and the floorplan. But i always knew it was a temporary fix. These walls were rented, never owned.

No. My real home is elsewhere.

And I’ll be there soon.



Everyone has wondered what on earth they’d do with a million dollars or a bottomless bank account. In fact, it’s one of the most common getting-to-know-you kind of questions. We all want to be financially secure. Few are brave enough to live without money on purpose, as some have, and most of us know what it means to have to stretch a dollar.

When we’re kids, the answer is easy and usually selfish. All the candy in the world. Buying the world so you could boss people around. Your own theme park. More generous kids would spend on a trip for their family or medical treatments for ailing grandparents.

You get older, and your dreams mellow. You want your dream car, then to put the rest in savings. You’d pay for college and a starter home. You’d pour it into a dream wedding or a startup company of your own invention. In all honesty, these dreams are the unlimited candy dreams grown a little stale.

I think of my own journey with this question. When I was small, I wanted a castle and a horse and a pet tiger. I got a little older and realized it would be smarter to buy a small house and invest the rest. I got older still and realized that I needed to give 10% of what I had back to God, so I set that amount aside in my head and played with the rest, wondering what dreams I could concoct that wouldn’t come out too greedy.

I had an encounter outside a Walmart today. There’s this corner of the parking lot right next to an exit into a side road where homeless people hang out with their signs and their battered backpacks. It’s always men with scraggled beards and sad expressions whose cardboard signs may or may not be telling the truth.

My parents taught me to be generous. Generous, but with a guarded mind. Most homeless people have legitimately met with hard circumstances and need enough to get back on their feet. Some are out for drug money. It’s not a fifty-fifty split between the two groups, but it’s hard to tell the sheep from the goats. I want to help in any way I can, but I don’t want to enable anyone, either. I usually run to a store to buy them some granola bars and a big bottle of water.

This time, there was a healthy looking man standing on the corner holding a bright green sign. The usual “homeless and jobless, please help” was followed by “I have a wife and kids.” Normally my inner skeptic would rear her bespectacled head at this claim, but not this time. I looked again, and saw that his wife and kids were with him. On the street corner. Tired. Sad. Confused.

Suddenly I knew exactly what I would do with all the money in the world.

All I could give him was five dollars and a prayer. He thanked me in a heavily accented version of English, and I couldn’t help but think he had brought his family here in the hopes of giving them a better, safer life, and everything had caved in on him. Far away from family that could take them in, far away from any familiar face. No community, no friends, nothing. Just himself, his wife, his children, and a lime green poster board.

There is not difference whatsoever between me and that man. None whatsoever. I can’t hope to explain why I have all my needs met and he has nothing. I’ve done nothing to deserve the things I have, and I’m ashamed of myself for not running back into that Walmart and buying them bags full of food or getting them a hotel room or something. Anything more than five lousy dollars.

Families should be able to spend Saturdays playing together at a park, not needing to beg on street corners.

If I were handed all the money I can imagine, I’d see no point in keeping it. I’ve got what I need. More than what I need. But there are so many people who don’t.

Heavenly Mansions


I miss green, open spaces.

When I was smaller, my family and I would visit some family friends who live up in the mountains. They had a small house built into the side of a mountain. You had to drive through a creek and down cow trails to get there. The setting was calm and green and peaceful. Our friends were peaceful people who enjoyed good food and good conversation. The daughter in the family was two years younger than me, and we’d climb all over that wild little mountain, getting muddy in the creek, playing at being Robin Hood and Little John. We made a promise to each other that we’d never grow up. Not really.

My heart hungers for green, open places.

One of my non-genetic sisters grew up on a farm. The farm is located in the middle of nowhere–a nowhere surrounded on all sides by crawling, smoky urbanity. To get there, you take a series of windy back roads through forests with houses scattered here and there. Then the trees part, you see open fields and languid cows and a house floating on a sea of grass, anchored to a couple of ancient-looking trees. Step inside the house, and despite its modern amenities, you feel like you’ve stepped into an alternate time zone, where clock tick slower and you might just be living in a different century. There’s no road noise, just the occasional lowing of a cow.

My soul starves for green, open places.

Three years ago, I flew to Croatia and drove into their remotest villages. The hills are steep and rocky there, but still wildly green. They are dangerous hills best admired from a distance. Grass and vines eat old shells of farm houses alive, but the new houses are bright red brick and brightly colored stucco and sing little tunes of optimism to the passerby. Even in the larger villages, there’s little road noise. Everybody walks. Even the river is silent. Children run barefoot in the grass and plunge their brown legs into the water, their laughter making the loudest music the town will hear that day.

At night I dream of green, open spaces.

God talks about mansions in heaven. But I’m content without a mansion. I’ll change it for a tiny house and a heard of goats and a garden on a green, wild little hill. Where I can walk in peace and feel the wind on my face and know that all is well with eternity and me.

He Arose


I have unquenchable hope. Want to know why?

The Son of God came to Earth as a man. He died on my behalf. Three days later, He rose again.

And He still lives.

Call me crazy all you want. You can think whatever you want of me. Throw things at me; throw me in jail; cast me out–I won’t change my mind. This is one thing i won’t be “open-minded” about.

You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart. And no one can take me out of His hands, and no one can take Him out of my heart.

The end. Happy ending. Grace extended, full and free. Eternal hope, eternal joy, eternal peace all wait for me.

And that’s enough for me.

The Deep Breath


Dear God,

You’ve helped me before, and I believe You will help me now.

You know my weaknesses and built my strengths. You know where I am. You know what I’m fighting. My struggles are not too small for You. Your grace is sufficient.

I have too much happening in my brain to be productive and successful. You know what to do to quiet my mind. Please quiet it.

I need Your help. Now, and tomorrow, and for the rest of my life.

You are good. You are powerful. You are love.

Thank you for being my Friend.

As always,


For My Croatian Friends


I played UNO tonight, and thought of you. I taught your rules to the kids I was playing with, as well as the Croatian words for “yellow” and “green.” I couldn’t remember the words for “red” and “blue.”

Playing that card game made me miss you all. All my students. All my friends. The ones I call my “Croatian family.”

I can’t go back to Croatia this year. I get a little heart-broken when I think about that. But you see, English class ends on the day my fiance and I get married. I’m really, really excited about getting married. I wouldn’t move this wedding date for anything. But if I could take the whole summer off and fly to Croatia anyway, I would. But I can’t. Not this year.

I will miss you. I will miss your curiosity, your energy, your eagerness. I will miss the sound of your language, which I was beginning to understand just as I left last summer. I will miss your wildness. I will miss your smiles and the drawings you would leave me on the chalkboard after class.

I will miss drilling vocabulary words. I will miss telling you stories about Jesus.

I will miss listening to you talk about the things that are important to you.

So, remembering all those things you told me you wished for, I wish for you the following:

That you will get to go to America one day. Because you all told me you wanted to do that.

That you will all get to visit Britain one day, because you all wanted to do that, too.

And the one girl who wanted to go to Brazil–I hope you go.

I hope you get the jobs of your dreams. I hope you make friendships that will last forever.

And if I could bring you all over here where I am, if only to make you feel as at home as you’ve made me feel every summer for the last three years, I would. In a second.

And I wish you’d all get to know God in the way I know Him. Because He loves you far more than I ever could.

All the best,




It starts in strange ways.

Not always a masquerade ball, and not always a balcony scene. But it starts.

Not always the way it happens in musicals. Not always with a song or a choreographed musical number. Not always. But it starts.

Not always the way it is in books. Not always in the first chapter, and not always with a stellar description of his eyes or a witty comment from the girl. But it starts.

Not always in a bookstore or a cafe or during a quest or on the moors of Scotland, but it starts.

There are as many love stories as there are people in the world. And they all start in different ways. They all start with a bang or a murmur or complete silence. And they start.

Love starts a lot of wonderful things. Lives turn around or upside down when love starts. Love’s start can revolutionize a human being. Love starts magic where magic was gone.

Love starts.

And real love doesn’t ever stop.



There are two responses to an open door: walk through it, or don’t.

Every once in a while, along comes an opportunity. What tends to happen in college, especially late college, is an uptick in the number of opportunities. Maybe it’s because everyone is asking us “What on earth are you doing after you graduate?” and the answer hidden in the subtext of our memorized reply speeches is “I have no idea.”

From what I’ve gathered, people rarely end up doing the thing they set out to do. Aspiring artists become missionaries. Aspiring English professors become safety auditors. Life almost never takes the course we plan for it, but a better one, and that’s what makes life beautiful.

Every so often, opportunity knocks. And you open the door and decide if you’re going to change the course of your life. Changing course doesn’t happen in one decision. It happens in five decisions, or even a thousand little tiny decisions. Sometimes a decision as simple and ordinary as walking to the right or walking to the left.

It’s the little decisions that determine who we meet, where we go, what we encounter, what subtle influences sway our minds to the bigger decisions: the jobs we take, the cities we move to, the people we marry. Even how we choose to spend the afternoon is important. How quickly we work. How slowly.

There are infinite possibilities, but only one ultimate outcome.

And we agonize over which choice is “right” and which is “wrong.”

The simple answer, of course, is “to do what God wants,” but how vague is that?

Here’s what He wants: he wants us to love Him and to love others. He wants us to spread the Gospel. He wants us to do unto others as we would have done to us. He wants wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives. He wants us to be holy as He is holy. He wants us to forsake our creature comforts to follow Him. He wants us to remember that we’re not here to build kingdoms on this planet, in this world. He’ll do that for us in His own good time, but our job is to remember that earth is not our home.

He doesn’t give us a mystical experience that tells us our specific path in life. But He does promise us that He’ll give us the desires of our hearts. That means He grants the desires He gives. He also gives the desires.

Walk close to Him, follow His law, bear His easy yoke, Allow yourself to be loved by God and love Him back. This friendship is the best there is or could possibly be. And since He’s promised to give you the desires you’re supposed to have when you walk with Him, you’ll know exactly where to go.

And then the doors start opening.

And you start walking through.

And if you have the opportunity to go to bed early…always take it.



Did I mention I was dating?

Well, now you know. I was dating. I’ve been dating for the last two-ish years. Surprise!

Now, you may ask, how on earth did you manage to keep from talking about that on the blog? How, HOW, Risabella Rambler, oh she who bears her soul in snatches for the internet to peruse at its leisure while you rest behind the protective curtain of anonymity, HOW did you manage to keep your mouth shut on this important subject for so long?

Well, I didn’t. Not really. Those who know me and read the blog knew that something was up, even if they didn’t know details. And some of you may have raised your eyebrows at the ambiguous term “Adventure Buddy” that I assigned to my male friend who followed me to Croatia and back.

My reasons for not discussing my personal life on the internet were fivefold:

  1. Some things just aren’t the internet’s business.
  2. I dislike the term “dating,” for reasons I’ll discuss at a later date. I use the term only because it translates well.
  3. I dislike the terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend,” for reasons I’ll discuss at a later date.
  4. I was honestly afraid of jinxing the relationship if I talked about it freely on such a permanent medium as a blog.
  5. I wanted to write this blog post in the way that I’m writing it now.

Believe it or not, I’ve dated two young men during The Risible Rambler’s lifespan. I was seeing another fellow for the first year of the blog. We parted ways and we’re both much happier now. The blog never knew. Neither did you.

I met the second fellow while I was dating the first, but we only met. We got to know each other many months after that relationship ended–after my first summer in Croatia. Our first date–which I was not aware was a date–took place on December 3rd, 2012. He became my Adventure Buddy, and my life has been magical ever since.

He started a blog for the intention of wooing me. You can read it here.

After that date, we decided to not let that date stop. We’ve been on one long date (with breaks) since then.

As of yesterday, we are no longer dating. Or perhaps I should say merely dating.

We are engaged.

Lord willing, we will be married in 158 days.

We counted.

And this blog is about to get a lot more interesting.



It’s possible to fit a day into a word.

In college, you get a lot of blah days. Grey days. Long days. Odd days.

And of course, triumphant days, or serious days, or tiresome days, or joyful days, or simply happy days.

Or sad days.

A day could be wearisome, lonesome, confusing, troubling, irritating, bubbly, wild, weird, fun, exciting, bewildering, hilarious, bizarre, busy, terrible, wonderful, marvelous, splendiferous, even supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

But sometimes…just sometimes…it’s impossible to fit a day into one word. Not even one moment of that day, not even the most memorable, could possibly fit into a single word.

Sometimes words are not enough. Not even supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Today was such a day.




you will write a love song

and your voice will be free to sing it

and the decibels will rise and rise until they

shatter the glass encasing the wildly beating thing

whose fractured wings have bruised themselves against

the walls you have built around it and those walls crash down

like a cascade of broken ice when spring has come and

the river at last is free to flow again and you are

free to feel again the murmurs of the love

song you have written and I know

that you will sing again


Close the Tab


You’ve been reading the news. Maybe that’s why you are here. You needed to get away.

I get it. I understand. Suddenly the world’s gone all Lord of the Rings on us, and no solution as simple as tossing a ring into a volcano is anywhere to be found.

Bullies never grow up. They just get stronger. We’re all just children trying to survive on a playground as big and brutal as the planet.

So pray. Don’t believe in God? Pray anyway. It’s not like you have anything to lose.

I believe in Him. I believe He listens. I believe He’s more powerful than the bullies. I believe He will crush them. I can’t. I’m powerless. But God? God can do it. And He will.

Hold on. Close the tab. Read something else. Believe it will all end well.

O Holy Night


Here’s the thing about Christmas.

Christmas exists because the Son of God was born as a human child. You can get your britches in a tangle over it all you want to, but the fact is that’s where it all began. In a manger. In Bethlehem. No, Jesus probably wan’t born on December 25th. He probably wasn’t even born in the bleak midwinter. But He was born. There’s a lot of history to back me up on that.

Christ became a man so He could live like us, suffer like us, be tempted like us, but never fail. He was born to be perfect. People hate perfect; people hate good, so they killed Him and thought that would be the end of it. But because He was perfect, He could carry the wickedness of the world on His shoulders and pay for every last bit of it. That way, we wouldn’t have to.

Don’t try to tell me sin doesn’t exist. We wouldn’t have the headlines we do if it didn’t.

But He has the power to take all of that away.

And He didn’t just come for anglo-saxon protestant people, either. He didn’t just come to earth for people born into certain families or for people from certain backgrounds or for those who adhere to specific political parties. He came to die for all of us.

To God, all people matter.

Born-again Christians sometimes misrepresent Him. They fail to give the Gospel the way the Bible tells it. They fail to walk the walk that matches Christ’s teaching. I know I do. I know I fail God all the time.

But I believe God can work through my imperfections. He’s done it before.

So if you’re reading this tonight, taking a break from the festivities to read a blog post or two before midnight, perhaps wondering what all the fuss is about, I’ll tell you.

The fuss is about hope. Hope in the form of God become man. Hope in the form of God as a tiny child. Hope in the form of a man who would die to give us the greatest gift of all: redemption and eternal life.

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
O night divine, O night, O night divine.