Last night I was talking to a new friend about favorite movies, and suddenly I remembered my long-lost friend Audrey Hepburn. I hadn't thought of her in quite some time, but last night my mind began to drift as it would over a "Moon River," back to the memories Audrey and I have shared.

I had to play the song and reminisce about the good times, such as when we went on a "Roman Holiday" together,

after which we went to New York and ate at "Breakfast at Tiffany's"

where we bumped into a girl named "Sabrina"

whom of course Audrey always referred to as "My Fair Lady."

Ha, but sometimes I think it was all just a big "Charade,"

and the only way to know if any of it was real is to "Wait Until Dark."

Somehow, I think we would have been good friends, Audrey and I.

All my non-clothing and non-toiletry items are packed into boxes and sitting here in my basement, looking sadly at me with mournful, boxy eyes. It's unreal to think that everything I own fits snugly into one small house corner's worth of cardboard.

The saddest items on scene are my empty bookcase and overstuffed, worn blue couch. Oh, the butts it has hosted, conversations overheard, popcorn scents soaked up and bedtime dreams inspired. This is its third home since I bought it, and it will soon acclimate to a fourth. So many have loved it despite its homeliness. Will my next set of roommates love it, too?

I think tonight also of my keyboard and microwave languishing away at home, waiting for the day I'll have my own place and can come for them. They have a good home for now, with my family, but there's no place like where Mama is. :)

I think all this prosaic, sentimental furniture-speak functions only one purpose tonight: A vain effort to suppress my deeper feelings of angst about the move next week, leaving my roommates for new ones, and what it all represents. Yet another closed chapter in the life of this solitary sojourner.

There is now no one making my decisions for me, and stepping away from this college-time dwelling place only serves to reinforce that cold, hard truth. Bills, work and responsibility are inescapable facts of of this post-graduation life.

At this point I am reminded of a dream I had a couple of years ago, just before I transferred to Cornerstone University. I only remember a few dreams in perfect detail -- just the ones that left a lasting mark on me. This particular one was significant for its heavy symbolism.

In my dream, I was in Mexico with my family for a festival, and they left me alone one night, insisting I stay behind because I had no walking shoes -- only my slippers.

I sat -- cold, lonely and weeping -- at the base of a stairwell. Through my tears I looked up to the floor above and saw a child with dark eyes, leaning over the railing, looking at me quietly. She stretched out her arm and pointed to a large clock at the top of the landing above and in front of me.

"Stay here and watch the clock," she told me, and disappeared.

I waited, watching, shivering, wondering if my family would ever return, and if I would ever find my walking shoes.


I remember that dream so vividly, so clearly. I remember the anguish I felt when I woke in the middle of the night to find real tears streaming down my face.

I knew instantly that the dream came from a deep place within to stir so much emotion. I knew I was afraid of leaving community college and home for a new life in Grand Rapids at Cornerstone.

It wasn't so much the school or city I was afraid to face. It was myself. I was afraid of facing my own inadequacy.

Now, two years later, I am so utterly beyond humbled and thankful to report that although I did face my inadequacy nearly every day at Cornerstone, it was a beautiful process that drove me closer with each passing week to a Savior who is more than sufficient for every need I have ever experienced.

Despite often feeling lonely, heartbroken and misunderstood, I learned to cling to the only One who will never break my heart.

In my last bittersweet week as a CU student, I remembered my dream of two years earlier, and wrote a farewell column to my Herald readers, addressing the issue of the need for walking shoes. I don't think anyone knew the back story there or read the subtle connection, but I knew, and I will definitely never forget it.

Please read this link to see the column on the Herald Web site, or see below.


Why I chose Cornerstone
By Rachel Watson

Two years ago when I was looking for a place to transfer to study journalism, I chose Cornerstone. I don’t regret my decision, and if I could do it all over again, I would still choose CU. Let me tell you why.

At first, some who knew I wanted to pursue journalism advised me to try Michigan State, a school nationally recognized for its excellence.

I wasn’t entirely sure why people were trying to dissuade me from Cornerstone. I knew I wanted a solid journalism education, but I also knew I wanted more than what a secular college could offer. I went to a public community college for my associate of liberal studies degree, and although I learned so much there, it wasn’t exactly a place to get equipped in the fundamentals of my Christian faith.

I chose Cornerstone because I wanted a holistic education — a training for the heart and spirit as well as the mind.

I did want to learn how to be a solid writer, editor and reporter, and MSU probably could have given me that education perfectly well.

But could MSU have given me a caring support system of Christian professors and fellow students to challenge me in my faith? At MSU, would we have opened a semester in Mass Media Law class with a discussion about what it means to glorify God? Would we have filtered ethical dilemmas and difficult decisions through the eyeglasses of a biblical worldview? No. We wouldn’t.

At Cornerstone I had all those things and more. As I struggled to shoulder the responsibility of being Herald managing editor for the first time last semester, I was daily reminded by my adviser Alan Blanchard of what really matters in the midst of craziness.

“Be anxious for nothing,” his e-mail signature said in irritatingly bright highlighted yellow letters every day, “but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

It was a message I sometimes didn’t want to hear, because I often WANTED to hang onto my anxiety in the middle of deadlines and miscommunication and lack of sleep. It felt like a friend I could hang onto. But see, that’s exactly what Christian exhortation is — a message you don’t always want to hear, but one that makes you stronger if you choose to heed it.

That’s why I have loved Cornerstone. Whether it was my adviser, fellow Herald editors, professors, roommates, or friends, there was always someone to challenge my assumptions, making me think through and explore and redefine the things I thought were “OK” about myself.

I haven’t been OK. I have been at times bitter, unforgiving, anti-social, a bad listener, a poor communicator, a difficult-to-live-with roommate, and a series of failures, one after another.

But instead of affirming and smoothing over those mistakes, the people of Cornerstone have helped me to face them, turn from them, and move on. I have learned that failure is a part of life — a part everyone experiences at one time or another. I learned the only thing that sets me apart from any other lost person on the planet is the grace of God working in my heart.

So thank you, Cornerstone. Thanks for being the safe space where this wobbly little girl could take her first steps. I think I’m ready to walk now.
My dear friend Laurie bought me a Moleskine for my birthday last year. In the card accompanying her gift, she specifically said, "This is for all those brilliant thoughts you have while driving everywhere."

If this post is scattered, you can blame it on her for buying me the Moleskine ... or on me, I guess, for being too lazy to organize my thoughts before posting. :)

As I've already alluded to, I tend to be the type of person whose best thoughts come when I'm inconveniently doing something else, like driving.

Today, the thoughts were like popcorn in my mind ... just bursting disconnectedly out of nowhere on the route from work to Subway to home.

No. 1 -- Sitting at a (green) stoplight on the corner of College and Leonard: No one is moving. "What the heck is going on?" I wonder in a silent, irritated yell to myself. Suddenly an ambulance comes rushing past and the stopped traffic all begins to make sense.

First thought: Good thing some brilliant person formulated international road safety rules to dictate ambulance right-of-way ... otherwise, how would they ever make it through afternoon rush hour?

Follow-up thought: I wonder who is inside that ambulance? Did someone suffer a broken leg, a concussion, a bad fall, a heart attack? Here I was so impatient to make it through a green light, when someone inside that red and white truck quite possibly is fighting just to stay alive.

Let me tell you, there is nothing that resets my focus quite like the unexpected siren of an ambulance. All of a sudden, the minor frustrations of life seem so insignificant, you know?

No. 2 -- Minutes later, Leonard and Beltline: Listening to the radio. Today's news coverage is focusing mostly on the Supreme Court appointment hearings for Obama's hotly protested nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. Part of the sound byte captured a man who burst into the hearing yelling, "Baby killer! She's a baby killer! Don't let her on the bench!"

I sighed deeply. This is exactly the kind of behavior that gives conservatives the "extremist" label. Do you really think the panel will listen to you because you're yelling like a fool and carrying a sign attached to a big stick? No. They'll call the bailiff and throw you out, and then you'll just be another idiot sitting on the street corner, mad as a tantrum-throwing 2-year-old -- and what's more, you just got your new shorts dirty.

Disagreeing with Sotomayor's judicial record is fine ... but can you please find a rational -- and effective way to do it?

No. 3 -- I'm almost all the way home. Funny, I don't even remember much of the drive. I have to believe most people have similar experiences on the way home from work each day. "I know I got home somehow, but I don't really remember driving there."

"Oh well," we say, as we shrug and shut the doors to our 2,000-lb. hunks of steel we wielded all the way home ... so safely ... so consciously. :)

That thought scares me a little. "Am I playing it safe enough?" I ask myself. Then I turn the radio up a little louder ... and the Newsboys are singing "In the Hands of God." I laugh for a good 30 seconds about that, shake my head, and pay a little more attention to my driving the rest of the way home ... thankful for God's protection even when I'm not paying attention.

After all -- how can I honestly focus? It's Ticker Tape Tuesday. :)
If you have never heard MercyMe's version of this beautiful, time-honored hymn, perhaps now is the time to listen.

"The Love Of God"

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell
The guilty pair, bowed down with care
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin

Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade

To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky

Hallelujah [3x]

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angels' song

*Note: It may seem obvious, but for the uninformed, I believe it's the song's persistent writing metaphor that grips me. I cannot out-write God's love... but that doesn't mean I can't keep trying, and failing, and trying some more. :)
Before you read any further, I want to tell you today's blog post is about a boy's story. Wrapped up in his story is a mire of senseless U.S. immigration law that desperately needs to change. If you don't think you'll like what you hear, feel free to stop reading now.

But if you want to hear it, please read this story by The Associated Press.


If you didn't have time to read it, here is the basic gist of it ... my version ... all the facts credited to the AP reporter.


Daniel Guadron was an 18-year-old Guatemalan immigrant who came to the U.S., specifically Trenton, New Jersey, with his family when he was 13. During the first few months he was here, he amazed teachers, relatives and friends by mastering the English language and excelling in all of his studies and extracurricular involvements. It was obvious this young man, well-loved and admired by all, was on his way to someplace great.

In April 2008, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency broke into his home, demanding he reveal the whereabouts of his mother. He would not, and so they cuffed him, stuffed him in a van and carted him off to a warehouse near Newark, N.J. -- a place used to detain illegal immigrants.

For seven months, Daniel waited. He waited to find out why he was there. He waited to hear from his family's lawyer. He waited with 300 other immigrants also uncertain of their fates. It wasn't as if he had done something wrong. He had his papers together -- even had a Social Security number. But his parents had missed a court appointment somewhere along the line, and now he was paying for it.

After a time of despair, Daniel decided not to waste his time. He would strengthen mind and body while he waited for justice. He worked out. He read. He practiced his languages. He prayed. He wouldn't let this beat him. And he didn't.

Finally the day came for his release. The lawyer had managed to finagle a re-opening of the case, and Daniel was free to go before the family's final fate was decided.

Before he left the detention center, his fellow detainees, many of them now his friends, looked at him through African, Indian and Chinese eyes -- eyes full of fear and uncertainty -- and said, "Remember us, Daniel!"

For which of them knew how long they would stay?


When I read this story while editing at work the other day, my eyes welled over with tears of anger and sorrow. I am willing to admit I don't fully know the inner workings of U.S. immigration law, nor the philosophies from which it stems.

But I know injustice when I see it. I know Daniel Guadron and his family are no different than the ancestors of each one of us (including the ICE officers and the immigration court judges), who, several generations back perhaps, came to the U.S. just like the Guadrons, looking for freedom and opportunity.

The difference, I guess, is the generation in which the Guadrons arrived. Has America has changed her mind and lost her sense of hospitality? Is it time for the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty to be effaced and replaced with "No Longer Applicable"?

My prayer is that before we lash out in hostility against immigrants, whether Hispanic, Asian or African, we will stop and remember our own ancestors who were more than likely in the same place. When did fear begin to trump compassion? How would you feel if that kind of malice were aimed toward you?

We need to remember Daniel. Just like the biblical story of Joseph, Daniel took the wrongs levied against him and responded not in anger, but in humility and patience. He didn't deserve what happened to him, but he took his situation for what it was, and waited for an answer. His response puts us to shame.

"On Seeing Fireworks ... Alone"

By Rachel E. Watson

There is fire in the sky,
And a hole in my heart.
There are friends all around,
But most people strangers.

I love watching faces,
There are so many kinds.
The city is bursting,
With all sorts of life.

On nights like tonight,
With people in seas.
I wonder how it is
So many feel alone.

I don’t want to ruin
A night like tonight.
So I’ll think on blessings,
And watch the dark sky.

A thick cloud of haze
Hangs fast in the air.
The moon gazes at me,
As I gaze right back.

I don’t know why I’m sad,
And at the same time not.
It seems like my feelings
Have so many shades.

The unneeded scurry
After the show,
Reminds me of clocks,
And how time controls.

Time can be ruthless,
Urging my sorrow.
If not for time’s hand,
I wouldn’t feel pressure.

Pressure to be and do-
Pressure to find someone-
Pressure to watch the sky-
Within a set of arms.

On the Fourth of July,
I always feel alone.
I want not to feel
Alone, but I do.

Copyright © Rachel E. Watson 2009.
I thoroughly enjoyed my work today. The neatnik/visual learner/graphic artist side of me is always pleased when I can take two blank broadsheet pages and a jumble of stories and possible photo selections and arrange them in an attractive way.

The creative writer part of me gets little ripples of satisfaction when a feature story or review is full of potential puns and plays-on-words waiting to be harvested, reworked and used as headlines, subheads, cutlines, etc.

And, something tucked away inside me goes "Ahhh..." when I can take a photographer's messy, raw caption information and work in zesty adjectives and action-packed verbs until the caption and photo work together to tell a complete (and therefore beautiful) story.

When everything is "just so"-- when it "sings"-- it is then I often feel complete, content and proud of my work. If that feeling came every day, it could be enough.

Thankfully, on the days when things don't line up, and I feel frustrated, misunderstood, and under appreciated, I still have much to keep my hungry mind alive.

There is always more training needed. Every day I learn something I never knew before as I read and edit stories. And, best of all, my vast storehouse of co-workers (though perhaps not quite so vast as it used to be) holds my attention fast as it darts from one to the other, all day long.

As part of being what my roommate Lauren would call "observational," I am a student of human nature. I notice my co-workers' habits, likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, character, tendencies, personality and even individual humor styles. Because yes-- they all know how to laugh and how to make one another laugh.

In studying each person thus, I hope not to be thought intrusive or obsessive in any way. My co-workers would certainly never know, because I don't do it overtly. Rather, I apply myself to learning these things about them in order that I may learn where I fit and how best I can add to the wonderfully diverse crop of minds, hearts and souls who work in The Grand Rapids Press editorial department.

I don't want to be a lump in a desk chair, doing a drone job. I want this place to be an investment of who I am in every way, into a mission that is so much bigger than just daily news production.

News production (assigning, writing, editing, designing, headlining, etc.) -- that is what we DO. It is not who we ARE.

Underneath the sometimes tough and usually task-oriented exteriors of each writer and editor lives an enduring, conscious vitality -- some hearts more alive than others, yes... but what if I could help to wake the sleepers? What if, through a light in me, even the most inanimate hearts could beat again?

It isn't something I take lightly. It's not something I pretend to have accomplished in my time so far.

But no moments ahead are guaranteed. No snappish or impatient words can be unsaid. No disrespectful looks or less-than-gracious interchanges can be erased.

So, it seems it is time to get serious.

I would like to buy this. It's a little something I found online while shopping for Father's Day gifts (very unsuccessfully, I might add). As the picture shows, the name of the game is Orijinz. The object of play is to guess the correct word or phrase after listening to the origins of the word in question.

Intriguing, eh? Almost as good as Latin root flash cards...