Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas cookies

don't you hate it when someone gives you a plate of Christmas cookies with a variety of different kinds? when you eat one that is excellent and reach for another, there isn't another one like it on the plate. bummer.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

an interruption

"His eternal livingness was interrupted by the experience of a human death, and he shares the eternal life of God through triumph over death." - Richard Bauckham

Sunday, December 6, 2009

once upon a time

long, long ago in a land not so far away, i loved to write.

Friday, November 20, 2009

a reminder

be who you is. cause if you aint who you is, you is who you aint. ~ good ole brennan

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

season

i'm not so sure i like this season...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

sunset

it was a beautiful day to go home...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

ache

my fingers ache for a piano. oh that the day would come...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

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we're famous

"We have become famous for what we oppose, rather than who we are for." - David Kinnaman, unChristian

our task

"Our task is to be effective agents of spiritual transformation in people's lives, whatever that may cost in time, comfort or image." - David Kinnaman, unChristian

Monday, October 26, 2009

same time

the world seems smaller and bigger all at the same time...

Friday, October 23, 2009

stone

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

four years is a long time

Thursday, October 15, 2009

feels icky

you know it's bad when you don't want coffee and you do want canned chicken noodle soup.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

yup

80% in 5 years. somehow not surprising.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

wisdom from the backseat

"Everybody makes mistakes." - Elsa, age 8

Friday, September 25, 2009

strength

i anticipated that this would be hard...

Father, your strength in my weakness.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

crazy

this day's been crazy, but everything's happened on schedule.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

in circles

I’m running in circles, jumping over hurdles working on a song to sing

oh my gosh

i haven't played Bubble Shooter in over two months.

Monday, September 7, 2009

my boy

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

h

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

staff meeting

"I'm not a normal person." - Angel

Saturday, August 29, 2009

broken

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Friday, August 28, 2009

shalom.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

really?

sometimes ya' just gotta scratch your head.

Friday, July 17, 2009

different now

"The girl she was in New England is different now and dead"

Saturday, June 27, 2009

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Monday, June 22, 2009

no, but i'm here

A woman came to the door of the church today and rang the doorbell. When I answered the door, she asked if there were any pastors available. I sort of smiled knowing our senior pastor was headed out of town, the youth guy was away doing an internship miles from there and even our small group coordinator was leaving on a trip. So, that kind of leaves me...but I'm not really a pastor. So, I said, "Well, no we don't have a pastor here right now, but I'm here. Can I help you with something?"

For that moment I longed to be able to say, "Well, I'm one." But, I can't. And, there is so much tied up in that little word. So much theology. So many stereotypes. So many opinions and ideas. So much so that I often choose to dismiss its importance. Usually I don't much care what they call me, just let me keep doing what I love...until that moment that it mattered. In that moment my response seemed to be missing the same credibility that would be lacking if they asked for a doctor on a plane, and a someone else stood up and said, "No, but I'm here."

And, honestly, I still don't much care...until another moment comes and a woman stands in front of me and says "Are there any pastors available?" And, I have to say, "No, but I'm here..."

one of today's smiles

lemonade $0.25

Thursday, June 18, 2009



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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

monday's meeting

"I'm a recovering worshiper." - Griff

Sunday, June 14, 2009

a new road...

"sometimes to get anywhere you just gotta take a leap. either to land where you were looking or just to get to some new road." - mike

Friday, June 12, 2009

words from wonder at willow

"My task as an artist is to say clearly what others have always felt vaguely." - Ian Morgan Cron

"I want to be among the easily impressed." - Stan Endicott

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference." - Elie Wiesel

"Ministry is not about job security; it's about making the invisible visible." - Phil Vischer

"We're a small church of 1000 members." - woman in a session

"Baby, you're more than this!" - Darlene Zschech

"All art is speaking in tongues." - ? (Ian Morgan Cron repeated it, but I missed the reference. sorry!)

"Everything we need is already here." - Ian Morgan Cron

"The universe is crammed with God." - Elisabeth Barrett Browning

"I didn't know when I became a Christian if all my artistic juices could be used in the church." - Ephram Smith

"Your brokenness is your very best intersection with Jesus." - Nancy Ortberg

"God's so big and the song is so small." - Josh Wilson

"We're in the life transformation business." - Nancy Beach

"We are arrested by God's presence." - Ian Morgan Cron

"The broken will become the beloved." - Ephram Smith

"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." - Julian Norwich

Monday, June 1, 2009

favorite thing number twenty-three

perhaps one of the most beautiful things i have seen in a while is also one of my favorites.

a repentant sinner/saint with posture, facial expression and word humbly coming before the Triune God.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

like a sheep

I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight. Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me. I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands. -Psalm 119:174-176

seeking

"the eyes that seek often have just as many important insights as those that have already found" - mike

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

disappear

"can we disappear?"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

wanting more

"My phone is dieing again. I keep trying to wean it off battery, but it just keeps wanting more." -Laura

Monday, May 18, 2009

small enough

i know the world is getting smaller, but sometimes it doesn't seem quite small enough...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

just thinking...

it's like looking at a pebble for a very long time and then realizing it wasn't a pebble at all...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

after the rain

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alone

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

stood still

the sounds of thunder rumbled through the skies. the first drop of rain found my cheek, the second my arm, and the third my nose. clouds were closing in, and there i stood.

drip... drip...

i looked down to see specks of moisture now painting the sidewalk. and, still i stood there.

drip. drip. drop. drip. drip. drop.

picking up intensity, the precipitation continued to fall. my jeans were soaked. they were holding in the water as if they didn't ever want to let it go. my shirt pushed the rain away at first and then began to absorb it. and still, i stood there.

drip, drip, drop. drip, drip, drop.

as the rain cloaked me in water my mind wandered. there was a freshness. it was as if the spring rain came and removed all of the dirt and grime that had built up within me during the past months. and i stood still.

drip, drop. drip, drop. drip, drop.

completely drenched. completely clean. standing completely still.

favorite thing number twenty-two

the smell of the rain during a spring thunderstorm

Sunday, May 3, 2009

clearly...

i have everything i need for life and godliness.

Friday, May 1, 2009

hollow

words are hollow, but actions reveal truth

Thursday, April 30, 2009

the years go by, but it is still true

"Why me? Why this privileged position?" -me

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

clay's right

looking for the "less stupider" version

Sunday, April 26, 2009

duh comes to mind

"It's as if He really does guide our steps" - Laura

tired. very tired.

"When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Nietzsche


i guess we can find truth in unexpected places...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

birthdays and such

"I'm not going to invite you to my birthday party." - michelle

footsteps

how did you find me here?

nothing

Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.

Friday, April 24, 2009

anticipation

And at the end of my days
When your throne fills my view
I will sing of Your mercies anew

- Mark Altrogge & Bob Kauflin

Thursday, April 23, 2009

one of those days

there are days when we don't ask those questions.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

miss fix-it

“All of life’s problems can be solved with two things—duct tape and WD40. If it moves and it shouldn’t, you need duct tape. And if it doesn’t move and it should, you need WD40.”—Unknown (through the mouth of my mother)

no progress here

"We been doing pretty good. We might just as well keep doing it like we have been."

Monday, April 20, 2009

puffy cloud

some days i wish i had a great big puffy cloud that i could escape in.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

no use

'I could tell you my adventures — beginning from this morning,' said Alice a little timidly: 'but it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.'

wisdom for children

Oh that I were
Where I would be,
Then would I be
Where I am not;
But where I am
There I must be,
And where I would be
I cannot.

fun with magnetic poetry

"Mary, where are we going to put the drunk?" - Innocent Elsa

wandering

"Not all who wander are lost." - J.R.R. Tolkien

sun on my back

i don't know if 70 has ever felt so good...

Friday, April 17, 2009

what it is

annoying but not debilitating

Thursday, April 16, 2009

shocked and inspired

"If it all gets too much and they lock me up, I want a great big strait-jacket with spots on it. A pink one... and a big zip on the back so I can escape," said Susan Boyle.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

a little cheer

did winter finally end?

is it really spring today/ thawing out my heart/ promising the sun and a brand new start/is it really gonna rain/ giving us new life/ making everything alright/ is it really spring today sweet solace/ no one even knows i’m here/ if i hide inside these blankets, could i disappear/ ah angels, they whisper in my ear “better days are almost here”

-katy kinard

dieing

"Everything must die to rise again."

maybe?

"Is there an upgrade that I missed?" - Stephanie referring to herself

Monday, April 13, 2009

irreplaceable words

"pictures may be worth a thousand words, but there's still something irreplaceable about the words themselves" - mike (another word-lover)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

longing

my ears long for music. my heart longs for Christ.

sitting outside starbucks

"Wow! Those are cool pens!" says girl while ogling my pens.
"What makes them cool?" says puzzled boy as he tries to understand her fascination.

Friday, April 10, 2009

these wonders i confess

Upon the cross of Jesus mine eyes at times can see
The very dying form of One who suffered there for me.
And from my smitten heart, with tears, these wonders i confess
The wonder of His glorious love, and my unworthiness.

- Elizabeth C. Clephane

Thursday, April 9, 2009

tonight

is the moon as big and beautiful there as it is here?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

whoa.

i'm not a fan of this me. she hasn't been around in eight or nine months, and i can't say i've missed her.

favorite thing number twenty

iced hazelnut lattes

Monday, April 6, 2009

it's so quiet around here

michelle: need me to come yell around your house for you?
cause i got pretty good at doing that when the boys left and things got too quiet

an observation

even good things can be an idol.

shooting at great things

my sister-in-law introduced me to the fine world of bubble shooter this past year. i play it when my brain needs some time to chill out and think. this mindless game gives me something to do as i work through the endless thoughts that accumulate in my head. i seem to be getting better at the game, and i'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. i usually rejoice in achievement; however, i wonder if the improvement i am making is more of a testament to my increased skill or the multitude of hours i have spent thinking while playing bubble shooter. in any case, i think i may have discovered something. i think the key may be to give up good shots in order to find and create great ones. sounds like a book that has been hitting the top ten lists in business circles. also, sounds like a good principle for life. i wonder how many times i grasp at good things when the Lord is calling me to look for the great ones.

no music

"silence is loud." - michelle

Sunday, April 5, 2009

sometimes...

i see a car that looks like yours, and i wonder how you are doing...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

finals week

Two giggling girls with way too much energy and far too many pages to study pranced through the newly fallen snow. North Hall's lawn was like a fresh canvas. Just over fifty windows had clear views of the area making it a prime location to share a message with the college community. While howling with laughter, these students plotted trying to conjure up the perfect message. With all of the rebellion they could muster, four feet began to plod through the blanket of snow leaving an imprint for all to see.

SKIP FINALS

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

just thinking

"Jewel, we don't always have to figure everything out."

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

unearned love

"The unearned love of God can be disturbing." - Brennan Manning

Friday, March 27, 2009

bonds of love

there's just something about family...

repeated by Karev

"People is better than no people." -the dieing Great Aunt

Thursday, March 26, 2009

lending strength

On my counter sits a sparkly, red travel mug. It's been sitting there for a couple of weeks now. Every time I do dishes with all my might I try to get the lid off of it so that I can scour it and put it away. But every time my strength fails me. I was thinking about how awkward it would be if I called upstairs and said, "Hey Angela! Is Trevor home? Can I talk to him, please?" I imagine that after a hesitant "Ok?" Trevor would come to the phone at which time I would say, "Hey Trevor, I need to get this lid off of this cup. Do you think you could come help me?"

Every now and then I am reminded of how we are made to be in community. Not one of us has all the strengths needed to successfully navigate through this life. Though in this culture independence is highly valued, I've come to believe that interdependence is of much greater worth. So, I suppose I should have no problem calling Trevor to ask him to lend his strength. But, for some reason, I will probably leave the cup there for a couple more weeks. Maybe it will loosen up over time... (she laughs).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

huh

something changed today.

never thought i would say these words!

"I'm not asking.  I'm telling!" - the big daddy

Sunday, March 22, 2009

favorite thing number nineteen

fresh pineapple

true faith

"The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety."
- George Muller

tired of myself

"I've lived a lot of years and have to admit that the longer I live the more tired I am getting of myself. Tired of the insecurities that still hound me, of the sins that still defeat me, of the words I would like to take back. Of the silly often stupid decisions that I have made. I'm tired of thinking way too well of myself only to realize how shallow and fallen I am. And the list goes on.

"But, after all these years I have to tell you, I never get tired of Jesus. I find Jesus more compelling, more adventuresome, more wonderful, more surprising, more troubling in the best sense of the word, more worthy of my admiration and love than ever before."

- Dr. Joseph Stowell, "Confessions and Convictions of a Preacher"

Saturday, March 21, 2009

time to go

i really want to get on a plane or road trip somewhere today. any ideas?

Friday, March 20, 2009

no thank you

"No Thank You John"

I never said I loved you, John:
Why will you tease me day by day,
And wax a weariness to think upon
With always "do" and "pray"?

You know I never loved you, John;
No fault of mine made me your toast:
Why will you haunt me with a face as wan
As shows an hour-old ghost?

I dare say Meg or Moll would take
Pity upon you, if you'd ask:
And pray don't remain single for my sake
Who can't perform that task.

I have no heart?-Perhaps I have not;
But then you're mad to take offense
That I don't give you what I have not got:
Use your own common sense.

Let bygones be bygones:
Don't call me false, who owed not to be true:
I'd rather answer "No" to fifty Johns
Than answer "Yes" to you.

Let's mar our pleasant days no more,
Song-birds of passage, days of youth:
Catch at today, forget the days before:
I'll wink at your untruth.

Let us strike hands as hearty friends;
No more, no less; and friendship's good:
Only don't keep in view ulterior ends,
And points not understood

In open treaty. Rise above
Quibbles and shuffling off and on:
Here's friendship for you if you like; but love,-
No, thank you, John.

-Christina Rossetti

this takes me back to seminary days. how i would love to sit with the retreat house girls and recite this today.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

unexpected

he's here again. but, he looks a little different this time...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

really big smile

about 30 girls down the hall singing "Glory, glory, Hallelujah He reigns!" at the top of their lungs mixed with joyful laughter!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

i'm not sure i can do that

She stared at the object of her angst. Fear ripped through her as the scenes from last fall played through her mind. It seemed just a few days had passed, but in reality the snow had come and gone since then. Her black curls swam in the air as the spring breeze made its presence known. Her daddy's hand gently guided her as she took a few steps closer to her purple bike which was also scarred from the accident. Just below the handlebars a scratch drew attention to itself disclosing the shiny metal that was just beneath the surface. With much coaxing, she climbed on the bike believing that the inevitable was about to take place. Tears began to collect in her eyes and with all her might she tried to push them away. Her tight grip on her daddy's hand reduced the blood flow to his fingertips.

"Honey, you have to let go..." a voice whispered in her ear.
"I'm not sure I can do that," she said as hot tears streamed down her face.
The voice repeated, "Honey, you have to let go."
"What if I fall again," she said.
"I'll be here to pick you up," said her father.
"That's not good enough, Daddy. I want you to hold onto me so that I don't fall again!"
"Oh, my beloved daughter," he said with tears in his eyes, "I'm not sure I can do that..."

Monday, March 16, 2009

you can call me ana

i'm changing my name to anameno.

some days are like this

thanks to the Out of Ur blog for this smile.

but i like black and white!

"It feels like living out of relationship -- you know, trusting and talking to you -- is a bit more complicated than just following rules." Mack talking to Sarayu in The Shack

on emotions

"Not much to understand, actually. [Emotions] just are. They are neither bad nor good; they just exist. Here is something that will help you sort this out in your mind, Machenzie. Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions. Most emotions are responses to perception--what you think is true about a given situation. If your perception is false, then your emotional response to it will be false too. So check your perceptions, and beyond that check the truthfulness of your paradigms -- what you believe. Just because you believe something firmly doesn't make it true. Be willing to reexamine what you believe. The more you live in the truth, the more your emotions will help you see clearly. But even then, you don't want to trust them more than me." - Sarayu

colors of the soul

"Emotions are the colors of the soul -- they are spectacular and incredible. When you don't feel, the world becomes dull and colorless." - Sarayu

Sunday, March 15, 2009

seriously...

could my life be any more blessed?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

a year ago today

my life was changed...

a little observation

"Grandpa, your teeth are rusty." - Graham

Friday, March 13, 2009

all will be well

"all will be well
you can ask me how
but only time will tell"
- Gabe Dixon Band

i forgot to ask

"God granted me peace, even though I forgot to ask." - Clay

a weighty sadness

another star on another lapel

to his daughter

"sometimes life is nasty..." - my daddy

Thursday, March 12, 2009

earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal

a couple of days ago i posted the lyrics to a hymn that resonated with my heart. today another has found me. i've been thinking about why i love hymns, and i have come to believe that it's because they tell us our story. i could go on and on about how we need to hear our stories again and again. but for the sake of this post, i'll just say that i think God in His great wisdom knew that we would so quickly forget our stories. so, He commanded us to return to them again and again. to tell them, to write them, to live them, to rehearse them. and, i think the great hymn writers knew that. so, as i listen to hymns written years and years ago, i am caught up in the beauty of the poetry that describes just where i am today. here's another one: "Come Ye Disconsolate" which means "Come you who are hopelessly unhappy or you who are deep in despair." and, in case you are wondering, Indelible Grace does have a beautiful arrangement of it which i have been enjoying very much today.

"Come Ye Disconsolate" words by Thomas Moore, 1816

1. Come, ye disconsolate, where'er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.

2. Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
"Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot cure."

3. Here see the bread of life, see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heaven can remove.

Come, ye disconsolate, where'er ye languish.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

...Lord willing

michelle: and He's got that one all planned out as well, right?
me: sure does!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

i shall want to go someday

today was one of those days. a day that followed a sleepless night and consequently didn't start until around 11:00 a.m. a day that i learned one of my dear friends had been in a serious accident. a day which held heavy thoughts regarding job. a day of overcast skies and snow. a day when i would prefer to eat just chocolate and peanut butter and skip every meal. a day with a lot of posts all with a tinge of melancholy. a day i don't wish to repeat.

and, after a day like this, i'm thankful for the hymn i've just come across. a hymn that gripped my heart. it doesn't hide from the hurts of this world, but it also holds the glimpse of hope we as Christians know. so,
i close out this day in my pjs with a good book, and with Indelible Grace's version of "Beams of Heaven" written by Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933).

1. Beams of heaven as I go,
through the wilderness below,
guide my feet in peaceful ways,
turn my midnights into days.
When in the darkness I would grope,
faith always sees a star of hope,
and soon from all life's grief and danger
I shall be free someday.
I shall be free someday.

2. Often times my sky is clear,
joy abounds without a tear;
though a day so bright begun,
clouds may hide tomorrow's sun.
There'll be a day that's always bright,
a day that never yields tonight,
and in its light the streets of glory
I shall behold someday.
I shall behold someday.

3. Harder yet may be the fight;
right may often yield to might;
wickedness a while may reign;
Satan's cause may seem to gain.
But there's a God that rules above
with hand of power and heart of love;
and if I'm right, he'll fight my battle,
I shall have peace someday.
I shall have peace someday.

4. Burdens now may crush me down,
disappointments all around;
troubles speak in mournful sigh,
sorrow through a tear-stained eye.
There is a world where pleasure reigns,
no mourning soul shall roam its plains,
and to that land of peace and glory
I shall want to go someday.
I shall want to go someday.
I shall want to go someday.

building an army

Two days ago I learned of the events that led up to Rev. Fred Winters death on Sunday morning. Last night I read an article about the sad, but true facts concerning Christianity in America. And, just now I read one man's predictions regarding Evangelicalism in these United States. On one hand all of this information makes me sad, but mostly it makes me angry. What has happened to us? What has happened to people setting aside time to be in the Word and passionately pursuing a relationship with Christ? What has happened to the Church? Where are our priorities? Who decided it was more important to be a club that everyone likes instead of an army that proclaims truth? When are we going to get up and start fighting?

I don't know if Michael Spencer's predictions are correct. I don't know if the trends found in the polls will continue to decline. I don't know if there will be more shootings like the one that just took place in Illinois. But, I do know a God who sees this as no surprise, who has all the strategies needed to turn hearts to Him, and who is able to strengthen us to fight this war. I don't know where His sovereignty stops and where our responsibility begins. But, I do know that Scripture blatantly tells us that we will be persecuted if we are following after Christ. And, I trust Him. So, let's get to work friends. Let's put on that whole armor* of God and get ready for what is coming. David Stark recently said, "God is going to build an army, not an audience." And, I for one think he's right.

*13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (ESV)

happy all the time

my status: julia guesses that no one is happy all the time...


brian: i would submit that drew barrymore is happy all the time
at least, no one has ever observed evidence of the contrary
me: lol
brian: of course if being happy all the time means being like drew barrymore, then count me out.

here on our own

Are we left here on our own?
Can you feel when your last breath is gone?
Night is weighing heavy now.
Be quiet and wait for a voice that will say...

Come awake,
from sleep arise.

-David Crowder

Monday, March 9, 2009

prayers for the assailant

"We do know hurting people hurt people." - Brian Lowery

no matter what

"When we, like the Israelites, take our eyes off of God and start to look at our circumstances, we begin to fear. But the truth is that our God never fails. Our God is the God of impossibility. Our God is able to keep his own. Our God will never leave us or forsake us. And because of these things, our God is adequate as our God to meet our needs, no matter what the situation or circumstance." - Pastor Nathan (well, one of them)

heartbreaking and tragic

My heart is breaking for the family of Dr. Fred Winters and the congregation of the First Baptist Church in Maryville, IL after the tragic events which happened yesterday morning. I'm encouraged by the words on their website:
In this day, where uncertainty seems to abound creating an environment in which people are vulnerable in doing things they might not do otherwise, one thing is certain, we, as human beings need a foundation upon which we can live our lives. We at First Baptist Maryville, along with other Christian believers, share this conviction: that foundation is God’s Word. In the pages of the Book we call the Bible, we find the pathway for peace, hope, and a quality of living life despite what circumstances we find ourselves in.
In moments like these a short prayer often comes to mind "Do something amazing! Please, Lord, do something amazing." Believing in a God who redeems tragedies and uses evil for good helps me to find peace and hope in the midst of these sorts of situations.

[sitting in silence]

Not wanting to steal any of the attention, I hesitate to even add my own thoughts to this. However, since this is my blog and therefore my perspective, here's a quick blip from me:

This shakes me up a bit. And, as I consider what this may have looked like inside the doors of the building I serve in, specific faces come to mind. And, I would like to note just how dear these faces have become to me. The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful church body to call my family, and I am so thankful. In some strange way, as I sit here and consider dear friends who will soon pack their bags and head halfway across the world to begin a lifelong ministry to a people they dearly love though they haven't met, I am even more confident that where I am is where I need to be. In a place where we have the freedom to worship though little-by-little it isn't as safe as we all thought it would be.

And, I join with the family of believers at First Baptist who invite those of us who believe in the power of prayer to pray with them...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

looking back...

Surely God was in that place.

a line of beauty

falling down's as common as the rain - david wilcox

Friday, March 6, 2009

dreamer

I'm the kid who has this habit of dreaming
That sometimes gets me in trouble too
But the truth is
I could no more stop dreaming
Than I could make them all come true
- Buddy Mondlock

reminding her of her story

We don't really want what we want. We want to be in touch with the movement of God.

all that we need

"Deep calls to deep
And all that we need
Has been lost in what we've found" -Rich Mullins

Thursday, March 5, 2009

the little blue bottle

God says He will collect our tears in a bottle. He doesn't say "quit crying!"

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

could it be?

it smells like spring! we just might make it!!

take off your shoes

Earth's crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God
But only he, who sees, takes off his shoes
The rest sit around and pluck blackberries.
  - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

please

Me: "Mo-om, please can I get it?"
Mom: "Not today, honey."
Me: "But, I want it now!"
Dad: "You don't always get what you want."

standing in the fitness isle at target

"How do you know which one to spend money on? I mean, I don't want to feel like I'm exercising." - a woman in her thirties as she looks at the fitness DVDs

Monday, March 2, 2009

pitching tents

"Alright. I'm here," He thinks as He looks around. The grassy area was covered with tents. He'd known this trip was coming for sometime now. Though He could have hidden all sorts of luxuries in His pack, He'd decided against it. Instead He came with nothing. He found the nearest sports store, chose a commonplace tent, went back to the camping ground and pitched this new, canvas shelter. Just like everyone else, He hammered in each stake ensuring that the elements wouldn't push it over in the middle of the night. When He had finished He stepped back to look at it.


This morning as I read from the first chapter of John, I became intrigued with the Greek word translated dwell. It means to dwell or to pitch a tent. And, as we go back to the Old Testament, God meets with His people by dwelling in a tent. A holy tent. One with specific instructions and regulations as far as its size and shape and the material it was to be made from. But, it was a tent no less. The imagery of Christ pitching a tent to live with us for a while has been dwelling in my thoughts all day.

I love the way the New Testament compliments the Old. I love that we serve a God who was the same yesterday, is the same today, and will be the same tomorrow. And, I love that He cared enough for us that He shed His heavenly mansion to come down and pitch a simple tent just to be with us, just to know what it is like to live in our little campground.

Yeah, that's the God I serve. The one that put skin on for a while. The one that dwelt with us.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

just wondering

what do you think Jesus was writing in the sand when the Jewish authorities brought the adulterous woman before Him?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

the rest of the story

"today millions have lost a friend" - Paul Harvey Jr. on the death of his father

don't tell my dad, but this news saddens me...

do not pass go, do not collect $200

i guess nobody gets a get out of life pain-free card.

Friday, February 27, 2009

poured out...

lucky me.

snow emergency: a missed opportunity

I'll be honest. I'm tired of cold bathrooms, Snow and Ice Melt, and fogged up glasses. I'm weary of scraping my windshield, seeing my breath, and sliding around on icy walkways. I've had enough of the frigid temperatures, the enduring snow, and the leafless trees. But the reality is: I live in Minnesota and it is February. I didn't move here because I was crazy about cold weather and endless winter. I moved here because I felt called to do so. And truth be told I'm quite happy to be here, to be a part of my church, and to call this wicked cold corner of the world "home."

This morning my alarm went off before it normally would. It's Friday morning which is normally a day to turn off the alarm clock and go back to sleep. Above me I heard my neighbor rise from her bed as well. I dragged myself out of my warm covers and comfy pillows, put on a pair of jeans, my glasses, a fleece, my winter coat, some boots, mittens, and my hat, and then journeyed outside into this wintery day. My car was covered with snow, but so was everyone else's. In my sleepy stupor I looked around at all of my neighbors. People I don't often run into. Across the street was my neighbor who just minutes before was in her bed in the apartment above mine. And, warming the truck next to her were my neighbors who live in the next house down who I have yet to meet. When I finally pushed off the 6-9 inches of snow (which didn't seem like much after the Massachusetts snow storms from a few years ago), I climbed in my car to move it. However, it didn't much want to move, so I got out and scooped around the tires like my father taught me to do. I then got back into my car and inched forward until I got stuck, and then went back a few feet and tried all over again. Finally, with success, I moved my car about a block from my home, turned it off and locked the doors. I passed several people as I wondered back home. People I'd never seen. People who live a matter of feet from me. As I neared the house, I saw my landlord cleaning off his car and chatted with him for a minute. Then I slid my way back to my little apartment.

As frustrated as I was that I had to get up early and go out into the cold to avoid having my car towed, it was very clear to me that these are the moments I should be living for. Moments when we as people all have a task to do. Moments when I have the opportunity to interact with those around me. Moments when there is little pressure to communicate which somehow makes it easier to say a friendly "hello." And really, I guess it is no surprise that the Lord would provide mundane events like a Snow Emergency to give me an opportunity to begin to build relationships with those whose lives intersect with mine. After all, His Son's life intersected with ours when the Child came and began life in a barn.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

today

I'm feeling like Jonah...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

a good rebuke

Stille Wasser sind tief.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

bring it on lent!

I've been scurrying around since January trying to get all of the pieces in place for Lent. And tomorrow, the season begins. This weekend it dawned on me that though the worship program I lead is nearly ready for Lent to begin, my heart is not. So, I've been thinking about what Lent is going to look like for me this year. What am I going to give up? What do I want to add? For me, Lent is a time to give up something that keeps me from or hinders my relationship with God. I know a lot of people who give up coffee, chocolate or dessert, not that those are bad things to give up, but currently they aren't keeping me from growing in relationship with the Lord. I remember reading a story shared by Lauren Winner. She is an avid reader, and one year the Lord asked her to give up reading for the season. For her, this was what consumed her time and what kept her from communing with the Lord. A few years ago, I gave up secular music for Lent, and then decided to give up all music for Holy Week. I could play piano and sing, but I couldn't listen to anything that wasn't live. It was a quiet week. And, it was a really rich Lenten season.

So, this year -- the question has remained for a couple of days -- what am I going to give up? I had already decided to give up listening to music while driving (which I do a lot of) when I read this blog post and this blog post both by Anne Jackson. Because I hanging out here on my blog actually draws me closer to the Lord, I'm not going to give it up. However, I've decided along with music during car rides Facebook needs to go. I'm honestly not looking forward to the loss of this piece of communication. It can be a useful tool in ministry as well as keeping up with my friends who have moved all over the country. However, it is also a time waster that sucks up hours that I should be spending with our Lord.

So...there it is. Once this is posted, I guess I can't change my mind. But that's ok. Bring it on Lent! And, bring it on Lord! I'm looking forward to seeing what He will do in me as clear out a little technological clutter during these next 40 days.

--------

So what are you going to give up? Any stories from past fasts? I fear the Western Church doesn't encourage this spiritual discipline enough....

Monday, February 23, 2009

the Lord has done great things

"with a bucket of hope" writes michelle

favorite thing number eighteen

Bernstein's "Overture to Candide"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

more than enough

"'No Mackenzie,' chuckled the black woman. 'We is all that you get, and believe me, we're more than enough.'" - William Paul Young

Friday, February 20, 2009

you should read this

"Our great God deserves a little credit. His track record is awfully good—even when his actions have seemed sketchy in the moment, they have proved brilliant in hindsight. But let's go a step further..." - Brian Lowry's post Witness in a Time of Recession: A City on a Hill Should Not Be Worried

less than everything isn't anything anymore

I've been thinking a lot about the economic strife our country is going through as of late. I've been thinking about how we live beyond our means and how we have redefined "needs" to include things like internet, five pairs of jeans, a nice car, a large home with wooden floors instead of carpet and two freezers instead of one to store more food that we don't really need at our waistlines anyway. I've been thinking about how the rest of the world lives and how they seem to be so much happier than we are. And, I've been thinking about what God must think of all of this.

And, it kind of breaks my heart.

Because we have gotten so used to surplus that an abundance is still not enough for us. Because we have gotten so used to having everything we want that less than everything isn't anything anymore. Because we are a people that mocks those who don't have PDAs as though paper is inferior. Because we as a very rich nation tithe poorly, spread the Gospel poorly, and are so concerned about ourselves that we make decisions within the doors of our church buildings as though we are self-important kings.

And, we aren't.

We are a part of a greater Body. A Body that transcends cultures and economic lines. We are a part of a Body that desperately needs to quit thinking about themselves and head out into a hurting world. A body that needs to get over the possibility that we might get our hands dirty and not get paid for the most important work that needs to be done.

What will it take for us to quit thinking about our precious IRAs, savings accounts, and barns full of treasure? What will it take for us to open the doors of our churches and receive those who take more money and more energy?

Lord, have mercy on us for we have sinned against you by what we have done and by what we have left undone.

Oh, Lord, have mercy.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

so beautiful

"God's got something that's being woven together in His time. And, I trust that." - dear Julie

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

praise God You're here

another new favorite artist i've discovered: katy kinard

here

i've never given up so much for you/ i've never been quick to obey/ but this time i knew the voice was you/ and so i gave all i gave/ i’ve heard it said that when you’re needed most, sometimes it seems that you’re not there/ so it’s been hard to love the choice i chose when it seemed to me you’d all but disappeared

but now you’re here just like the sun after the rain/ and now you’re here just like the calm after the waves/ and i don’t mean to sound surprised that you’d be near/ but yesterday i wasn’t sure/ praise God You’re here.
i’ve heard that even in the eaglets’ nest, the mother watches when they fall/ and they would never learn to spread their wings if she came right as they called/ ...and so i'm falling in the open sky/ and it's been hard to even breathe/ i've been waiting for a Father's love to carry me/ to carry me

and like the years before i met you, you were still there/ ...though it took so long to see you, you were still there/ and you're still here

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

drenched

and then grace drips all over me. it's like being in a spring rain when the drops tickle my face, soak my clothes, and hide my tears of joy. and my little feet begin to run as i immerse myself in the pleasure of the raindrops. i spin around again and again lost in the moment i find myself. and in exhaustion and absolute delight, i sit down. laughing. reflecting. crying. enjoying. praising.

oh Father, thank you for the rain.

hot dogs and fridays

"In my own life, honoring the First Commandment, 'I am Yahweh your God: you shall have no gods except me,' has meant repudiating the god of fear and wrath handed on to me by preachers, teachers and church authorities in my youth, repudiating the strange god who sees all non-Christians as good-for-nothings, who consigns all heathens to hell, who has given any one denomination a bonded franchise for salvation, who rubs his hands together with malicious glee and sends a Catholic to hell because he ate a hot dog on Friday, April 27, 1949." - Brennan Manning, The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus

it is interesting to me how some of our 'fence-laws' become the places where we draw the lines regarding who is the real Christian.

Lord, help me to leave the "line-drawing" up to you. Amen.

today's grocery list

  • granola
  • inspiration
  • spinach
  • garlic salt
  • feta
  • half and half

Monday, February 16, 2009

i like you...

number thirty

Sunday, February 15, 2009

affections of the heart

"A person who has a knowledge of doctrine and theology only--without religious affection--has never engaged in true religion.... I am bold in saying this, but I believe that no one is ever changed, either by doctrine, by hearing the Word, or by the preaching or teaching of another, unless the affections are moved by these things. No one ever seeks salvation, no one ever cries for wisdom, no one ever wrestles with God, no one ever kneels in prayer or flees from sin, with a heart that remains unaffected. In a word, there is never any great achievement by the things of religion without a heart deeply affected by those things." - Jonathan Edwards


"Jonathan Edwards teaches us that the intellectual life and the passionate life should be friends, not enemies. Without the slightest contradiction it is possible to be both tough-minded and tenderhearted. What we learn to do is descend with the mind into the heart and there wait in anticipation for the heavenly Whisper. We worship God with brain and viscera!

"We today desperately need this lesson because a modern myth abounds that true objectivity must be passionless. As a result, we analyze and dissect the spiritual life without the slightest personal involvement or commitment and think we understand it. But the spiritual life cannot be understood in this detached way. We understand by commitment. And we enter into commitment and sustain commitment by what Edwards rightly calls 'holy affections.'" - Richard Foster

and she said

"though He may slay me, yet will i praise Him."

please...

let's not major on the minors.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

favorite thing number seventeen

my bed. my duvet. my pillows. my sheets. my heating blanket. my mattress... my bed. and, i'm glad too, cuz i spend about a third of my life there.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

longing for notes

tonight is one of those nights that i really wish i had a piano...

i want to tell miss julia something

"I turned into 3 when I was done with 2." - Ezra

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

i love this!

"When Hustler publisher Larry Flynt sent free subscriptions of his magazine to members of Congress, Grassley skipped the moralizing speeches his colleagues gave in response and sent a letter:

'Dear Larry: Since you have sent me a slice of your mind, I'd like to send you a slice of mine. You will shortly receive your first installment of an annual subscription to Christianity Today.'"

For the rest of the story, click here.

a pauline pianist

"I had good intentions; my fingers just weren't listening."  - Laura S

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

opinions, expectations, and unobvious change

With Sarah Siskind singing from the other room and a paintbrush in my hand, today I reflected upon my life. It's really a wonderful life. It's a life of freedom and chosen simplicity. It's a life of doing what I love and loving what I do. It's a life of rich friendships in this city, in this nation and in this world. And, I wouldn't trade it.

However...I really enjoyed watching my brush dance across the wall. As I trimmed the edges, the rhythm of the strokes became an enjoyable pattern. And, when I completed the job, there was an obvious difference - one with which I am very pleased. My mother wouldn't have chosen this color, but I did. People from other circles may have thought it was ridiculous to repaint a room that didn't need to be repainted, but I wanted to. Some probably would have preferred that I paint more of the room if I was going to go to the bother of painting, but I'm quite happy with the amount I chose.

So, tonight, as I sit here and consider the gratification that came from this task, I'm reminded of my blog entry last June about mowing the lawn. And, I think that being in ministry with so many opinions, so many expectations, and so little obvious change sometimes gets a little tiring. And, for those days, I'm gonna reserve a room to paint or a lawn to mow.

Then, the next day, I will go back to my office and dive into the opinions, expectations, and unobvious change. Cuz that's what I am created for. And, it's really a wonderful life.

not enough copies

"I was thinking about the handful of girls I’ve really cared about and how they found someone else and how I still can’t find the right job and I’m getting the sense that life is slipping away from me. Others my age are having children and already have as many as 10 years of memories. I’m not really jealous, I just feel like the student who didn’t get a handout because the teacher didn’t have enough copies. It’s not that I didn’t get a copy because I did something wrong, I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The teacher simply ran out." - Mark

i've just started following my friend's blog, and i'm really enjoying his writing and stories...you might, too.

really?

do you know what you are doing? cuz i'm not so sure you know what you are doing...

Monday, February 9, 2009

not the way we do it here

"Ready!  Shoot!  Aim!"  - Griff

in honor of my last post

you are not alone
you are not alone
His love is all around
He holds you even now
you are not alone
- kate hurley

to download this song and others for free go to kate's website

from another's lips

"I didn't know that you could hurt so much and still survive."

the day after

wise thoughts for a monday morning from -- DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed

archived in my journal

I don't think love always looks like grace.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

bold assertions

"Most problems in contemporary churches can be explained by the fact that members have not yet decided to follow Christ." - Dallas Willard

"Perhaps the greatest malady in the Church today is converts to Christ who are not disciples of Christ--a clear contradiction in terms. This malady affects everything in church life and in large measure accounts for the low level of spiritual nutrients in our local congregations." - Richard Foster

Saturday, February 7, 2009

my shepherd

"If there was one word in that first verse (which is the defining verse of the Psalm) that I'd want to circle, it would be that word 'my.' You go to seminary and learn that the Lord is a shepherd or a shepherd to His people, shepherd to Israel, but what you don't get at seminary by itself is the deep realization that He's MY shepherd, that he cares about me, that he calls me to have a relationship with Him." - Dr. Haddon Robsinson, GCTS Chapel Talk: "Psalm 23" - 4/9/08

crusty Christians

"What makes a Christian crusty? A number of things. For starters, it’s an attitude. It’s a demeanor where being Calvinist or paedobaptist or inerrantist (three things I am gladly) are put on like armor or wielded like weapons, when they are meant to be the warm glow of a Christian whose core radiates with love for Christ and the gospel. I believe in theological distinctives–I believe in them and I believe it is good to have them–but if the distinctives are not manifestly the flower of gospel root, the buds aren’t worth the blooming." - Kevin DeYoung (for more crusty Christian distinctives, see DeYoung's blog)

are you chipper?

"christians have to be happy and chipper all the time. it's in the fine print." - andy with great sarcasm

Friday, February 6, 2009

a triumphant gust of wind

The bridge lie in ruins. Though the villagers had worked for years to create access to the main island, all the work they had done was taken out in a flash of lightening and a triumphant gust of wind. Their dreams of grandeur where a splintered like the pieces of wood that now floated down the river. The villagers were so distraught that daily they came to look at the empty place where their masterpiece once neared completion.

A strapping gentleman from one of the tribes who came from the Northern part of the island came to town one day. He watched as the villagers stared at their non-bridge, the gaping wound that dashed their dreams. With charisma he began to speak to the villagers. He told them that with the small amount of money in their town treasury, he could fix the bridge. Not only could he fix it, but it would be more beautiful and more brilliant than before. He promised wood that wouldn't splinter and beams that wouldn't break. He promised that every dream the villagers had could be fulfilled if they fixed the bridge. By repairing what was broken, the villagers would be able to reach the main island, and once they reached the main island, not only what they needed, but everything they wanted would all be there for the taking.

All the villagers believed the man. He spoke eloquently and moved with grace. For every concern they had, he had a smooth answer. Soon, the villagers began to follow the stranger. Rather than putting their hope in the bridge, they put their hope in his ability to fix it. Rather than putting their faith in the main island, they put their faith in the man who promised them their dreams would come true. Rather than working to repair what was damaged, they waited for the man to bring this wood that wouldn't splinter and these beams that wouldn't break.

But, he was just a man.
No God-like powers.
No superhuman strength.
No bridge-building skills.
Just a man with a little charisma....and a few too many promises.

very aware

"this plan has been in the works for a very long time"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

who knew?

"It's not actually in the Bible that we do Awana!" - Laura

the list that would not end

  • change address with Post Office
  • change address with magazines
  • change address with credit cards/existing banks
  • change address with alumni associations
  • change address with family & friends
  • change address with everyone else in this world that wants to know where you are
  • find new insurance rep
  • find new doctor
  • pay rent
  • open new bank account
  • find place to live
  • switch phone number
  • move
  • find new dentist
  • find new grocery story
  • find new pharmacy
  • find new Target
  • find new church
  • find new gym
  • take a nap
...the list seems to go on and on

wrestling

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." - Paul

the best word for pastor

A quote from a thought provoking blog entry by Scot McKnight:

"I don’t consider myself old-fashioned; I don’t consider myself a stick-in-the-mud. But I’m quite happy to say that pastors are to be holy and reverent and so deeply grateful for the grace to be a pastor that they’d never advertise themselves with the word 'personality,' which is nothing other than the word 'SELF' dressed up in postmodern clothes they picked up on Freud’s couch. The best word for a pastor on the website is still 'Pastor.'"

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

the moments i live for

I want to take a moment to say, "yay! Wells Fargo!" I opened a new account today and was greeted by a kind woman behind the teller window. She waved down a woman to take care of me. And, take care of me, she did. As I sat at her desk, we exchanged stories. She told me about her adventures moving here from Africa, and I told her about my job in ministry. She told me about her three beautiful little boys and about falling on the ice last night. She was so amused by her story of falling that she laughed until she cried. I laughed right along with her as she painted the scene and told me about her son calling his father on the cell phone and telling his dad that his mother was crazy.

She then began to tell me about living in Africa, meeting her husband, and in three days deciding to marry him and come to the States. In two months the course of her life drastically changed in a way that she couldn't have predicted. She told me about how God had moved, and how she was sure that God had opened these doors for her. She talked about the incredible peace that came from the Lord as she was obedient to marry this man she had known for less than a week. She left her family and has now been married to this wonderful man for seventeen years. I can't imagine. I feel like that is a kind of faith and trust that I know little about.

In any case, I was moved by her story. And, as I was sitting there in her corner office listening to her beautiful accent, a peaceful feeling came over me. These are the moments I live for. The moments that for an instant provide an opportunity to look into the life of another and reflect upon how God is moving in their life. The moments when in the monotony of my day, my gaze is redirected toward the Creator of the Universe. The moments that I hope might mimic Heaven just a little bit. Moments like this, when two sisters meet, share some laughter, and enjoy the stories that the Author of Life has been diligently writing for His glory.

And, all of this happened at the bank while I opened a new account. If you happen to be opening a new account at Wells Fargo, let them know I sent you...and thank the beautiful African woman whose story still causes me to praise our Lord.

town mouse, country mouse

Collin Hansen's article on the Out of Ur blog grasps the concern I had throughout seminary. I dearly love people in small Midwestern towns, so when my friends were discussing the great opportunities found in the cities, I was lamenting the few pastors who were heading to the country.

"Rural pastors are disappearing even faster than the general population, leaving graying congregations helpless in their time of greatest need." - David Van Biema

And, here I sit in a great urban area with not one but two Starbucks down the street. And, for the reasons why...read the article.

are you ready to work for it?

"Don't complain about something you'll tolerate." - Rachel

Monday, February 2, 2009

painful division...

we are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
we are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
and we pray that all unity may one day be restored
[may they] know we are Christians by our love, by our love
[may they] know we are Christians by our love...

an important distinction

"We are not just saved from something.  We are saved for something."  - David Stark

meaningless, meaningless...or maybe not

"Hold out your hand in front of your mouth," said Laura. "Breathe." I did.
"Did you feel something?" Well, yes, I thought.
"Do you feel it now?" No.... And, our conversation on Ecclesiastes continued.

I must confess that when "meaningless, meaningless" is uttered, my thoughts go to Ecclesiastes. These words paint pictures in my mind of a time in my life when getting out of bed, getting groceries, and getting the mail all proved to be enormous tasks. A time when hopelessness seemed to prevail. However, when we look at the actual Hebrew word found in the Old Testament, the word "meaningless" doesn't entirely capture the idea being expressed. Some translations use the word "vanity" though that doesn't really embody the original Hebrew either. Perhaps the best way to understand the word is to look at the end of Ecclesiastes 1:14 where the writer discusses chasing after the wind. Is chasing after the wind meaningless? Well, yes, but there is more. The wind is only here for a second. It is brief. So to chase after it is vanity as we will never catch it. The idea behind the Hebrew word found in this passage is best rendered "a breath." It is quick. It is not lasting. The writer isn't wallowing in a depression pondering the sorrows of life. But instead, he is like us, searching after things that are fleeting.

Okay your turn. Hold out your hand in front of your mouth. Breathe. Did you feel something? Do you feel it now?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

january's to do list

my dear nephew: "Aunt Julie, I already have my Christmas list!"
me: "Oh, yeah?"
my dear nephew: "I'm going to send it to Santa now so that I can beat the rush!"

Friday, January 30, 2009

the hand of God

what i once saw as inactivity, i now see as tremendous grace.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

favorite thing number sixteen

when my nephews first see me, scream my name and run to tackle me in a bear hug

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

counting men

Last night as I unpacked the final boxes of books and placed them in the few spaces left on my shelves, I began to wonder if one could have too many books. In my recent quest for simplicity, I have rid my home of many of my belongings. But, as I looked at the books, I realized there weren't really any that I wanted to get rid of.

As I stood there, I thought about a friend of mine who had counted his books and was nearing one thousand. I have never counted my books, and it occurred to me that I could. But, just as quickly as the thought crossed my mind, the story found in I Chronicles 21 also came to mind. It's here that we find King David wanting to count his warriors. And, he gives the order to number all of the fighting men. This command disgusts Joab though he does follow the orders of his king. We also read in this text that David's desire to count his men was not from God. So, the act of the numbering was detestable to the Lord as well. Because of David's disobedience, a plague falls upon the people who were under the care of King David.

This is sobering. Because of the disobedience of the leader, God curses the people.

We also read in the story that David repents and asks that the punishment fall on David and his household. And, God "relents" before destroying Jerusalem. Without getting into the theology of God relenting or King David's influence on God's decision, in some form the message is the same: a leader has great responsibility and great influence.

To be honest, I'm not too concerned about my leadership over the books in my Kingdom (though I don't think I will count them today). My concern instead is for my personal obedience and my leadership in the church. Moments like these, I am relieved that I am not called to the office of senior pastor (we'll skip my theology on this point as well...), but I also shudder as I consider the responsibility I find in guiding the people and direction of the worship ministry which is under my care. And, again I fall on my knees and utter:

Kýrie, eléison;
Christé, eléison;
Kýrie, eléison. Amen.

Monday, January 26, 2009

cleaning out

seriously, what does one do with all the music that was once cutting edge and now is kind of dull? i realize this opens a whole host of questions as to what makes music "good," but more on that later. right now i have to figure out what to do with these boxes of spiral bound praise and worship music books complete with flute, oboe, guitar, keyboard and synth parts.

and then...

it was normal

favorite thing number fifteen

Chocolate Turtle Cake from Cafe Latte

Sunday, January 25, 2009

three little words

It was a cool morning. There was dew on the grass, and I could hear the ponies braying in the pasture. My pink shorts and new Colorado t-shirt weren't enough to keep me warm, so little goose bumps dotted my skin. My Uncle Fred and Aunt Nancy were giving us a round of hugs, and then my sister pulled out her camera and asked if we could take a few pictures. We huddled up with Tiffy their dog and took pictures with the mountains in the background. Then we climbed into the already full red Granada and put our seat belts on. I called front, so I was squished between my parents in the middle of the front seat. My sister and brother were snuggled in the back with three pillows, blankets, backpacks and a cooler. As we pulled away, I looked up and saw tears in my mother's eyes. "Why are you crying, Mom?" I asked. "We're saying goodbye," she answered.

It was a hot August afternoon. There were boxes in the living room filled with everything my sister was taking with her. Dad pulled the pickup up to the house so it was easy to load. In the hot sun, we carried pieces of my sister's life. Once the pickup was well loaded we worked on my sister's little gray car. My mother and sister left. A little while later, my father, brother and I left. We arrived at my sister's dorm room to find her quite settled. Her side of the room was the right side when you were standing at the door. She had a desk, a bed, and a closet all in a row. After we unloaded the pickup, we stood for a moment as we all hugged my big sister. Anguish was heavy on my heart, and I thought, "we're saying goodbye."

It was a cold rainy November day. My mother called me at college to let me know that my grandmother wasn't doing well. I hurried to the nursing home that I was so familiar with. I climbed the yellow stairs and the smell of clean floors and a sort of mothball scent seeped into my nose. I turned left at the top of the stairs and then left around the corner. I walked into the first room on the left where my grandmother was resting. It was dark. Her breathing was nearly as heavy as the weight on my heart. I walked to her bed and took her cold and wrinkled hand. Tears streaked my face as I whispered, "We're saying goodbye."

It was a sunny summer day. The one-way street held the van that was loaded with Nathan and Brianna's belongings. Children were running in the street and several relatives watched us from across the road. The back of the van sank down low to the ground, and we talked about the long ride it would be from Massachusetts to Iowa. After looking at each other for a while awkwardly trying to think of something to say, we prayed. Nathan and Brianna and their families headed toward their cars. And, we hugged the kind of hug that you don't easily forget. She promised to call along the journey, and I promised to visit. They drove away. I climbed in my car and those words rang in my head, "We're saying goodbye."

It was frigid in my little apartment. I hung up the phone and glanced over my shoulder as if something would be there to commemorate the past year. The blank wall stared at me. The memories of friends made and meals shared, music created and lessons learned, meetings held and tears shed flashed through my head. In my mind I knew that what once was, was no longer. And into my mind came those three little words, "We're saying goodbye."

And, we did.

the box

It was nearing zero degrees. My hands ached as the cold seemed to move through them as water moves through a paper towel. I gripped the handles with intensity this afternoon as I carried the box of books to my new home. This box had been with me for a while. It was a box that had been rescued from the dumpster by my dear friends Nathan and Brianna as they were packing their life into a truck in Iowa anticipating the life they would live in Massachusetts. I'm not sure at what point the box came into my ownership, but I believe it has been with me for at least seven moves. At one time the cardboard was home to six, gallon, milk containers, but now it carried a handful of my favorite books, some magazines, a couple keepsakes for my desk and a few other sundry items. As I neared the place on the sidewalk that collected the drips from the roof, the right handle of the box ripped apart leaving the contents of my box strewn about on the sidewalk. For a second I looked at the variety of things that lay on the ground before setting the box down and leaning over to collect my belongings.

Sometimes I feel like that box. Just plain tired of moving.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

not sure what this means either

pleasant feeling

feels like home to me...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

emphatically said

"Are you coming to see me or what!?!?" - Brianna

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

huh...what's a slow church?



and they were playing jazz

Have you seen the new commercial for McDonalds coffee? The two women are elated because they can now have coffee, and they don't even have to listen to jazz. As we sat there drinking our bottom-of-the-pot, bitter coffee (which was in a cup that said it was 'freshly brewed' not 'freshly burned'), jazz music fell upon our ears. It all seemed a little ironic.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

wisdom from walking

"Grace is a positive thing."  - Andrea Turpin our profound academic

Saturday, January 17, 2009

texas

it's so good to be home...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

out of my comfort zone

It was a very large, light-colored building with three big numbers in the window - 735. Sure enough, that was the address I was looking for. My hand was wrapped around my little, red cell phone as I spoke with a dear friend who encouraged me to go in. The temperature with windchill was about -30 degrees, and I didn't really want to get out of the car for several reasons. So, I sat in my warm, little Honda for a few more minutes working up the courage to go in. As I opened the door the temperature bit my skin like a child who is just learning to use their new teeth. My black coat and fuzzy black and brown scarf were not enough to protect my skin. In my black pinstripe pants and cute red sweater, I approached the door. There were a few men loitering in the hall, and I wondered if this was really the place. "Work Force Center" was written in large, bold letters to the right of the door. I gingerly entered into the room and looked around. I confess, I was completely out of my comfort zone. As I started to approach the counter, a woman loudly said, "If you are here for the 2010 Census testing, go through the double doors, down the hall, and to the right." Still feeling quite out of a place, I moved in that direction. The man in front of me opened the door for me, and as I passed by the pungent smell of alcohol seeped into my nose.

I found the room and read the directions on the board. The woman behind me was obviously upset about the wait. "What am I doing here?" kept going through my head. "No, stay," said a little voice. So, I began to take in the scene. I felt very out of place in my professional looking outfit. And, the people in the room didn't seem to have the same set of manners that I was taught. As the test proctor began speaking, a sense of comfort came to me. "You're fine," echoed in my mind. As I moved forward in line, I reached the map where I was to identify my geocode. The anxiety rippled through my body as I stared at a map of my city. Having just moved here, I am just beginning to figure out my own neighborhood, but to look at the whole city and figure out the location of my little home was quite a task - especially with a line of disgruntled people behind me. I found it, signed in, and took my seat.

A kind woman sat next to me, and we began talking. It was one of those moments that you know had been divinely established. She had been an art professor, and we had a great conversation about art in the church, our lives, and why we found ourselves in this room of people. The next woman down began talking to us. As she shared her story of employment, my heart became heavy. Here I sat in a room of people who really needed jobs to make ends meet. For a moment, I considered getting up and leaving because I didn't need the job as much as they did. But, I had gotten this far, and honestly, was intrigued with the kind of work that I might have the opportunity to do. Plus, it would get me out of my safe little home, and safe little church, and safe little life to interact with real people. People who aren't so safe.

So, I stayed. I took the exam. I did well. I had another divinely appointed meeting. And, I left seeing God in a place that I wouldn't normally choose to enter.

And, now, as I recall the events of that morning, I am struck by a couple of things. One, how this economic crisis has effected thousands of people. Good, ordinary, stable people. It's had an impact on me, too, but I have everything I need. Actually, I have a good bit more than everything I need, so this brush with reality stirs in my heart as I consider the blessings in my life. Two, how secluded I am from "real life." I am convicted that these places are the places where my Lord would dwell. If that is so, shouldn't I be dwelling there - in some form - like He would? And, three, God is often found where I least expect Him to be. In a conversation with the woman sitting next to me. In the smile of an elderly man. In the recognition of a brother in Christ.

Oh, Lord, may I not miss these moments. Open my eyes to see you in the day-to-day, ordinary things of life. In Jesus' name, Amen.

gratitude

More test results. More thankfulness.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

a little ironic

The New York Times says conservatives think Mark Driscoll is “the cussing pastor.” I'm curious if that provoked his blog entry today. Maybe not. Either way, it's a good word from this cutting edge pastor.

one in a million...or a hundred

I've been reading about Myers Briggs personalities again. And, I've been reminded that my personality type is the least common of them all with only 1% of the population sharing the INFJ type. What I find a little strange is that of the four gals that I am closest to, three of them are INFJs. Weird.

Monday, January 12, 2009

amateur actors

"Oh, brother or sister, God calls us to worship, but in many instances we are in entertainment, just running a poor second to the theaters. That is where we are, even in the evangelical churches, and I don't mind telling you that most of the people we say we are trying to reach will never come to a church to see a lot of amateur actors putting on a home-talent show."
- A.W. Tozer, Whatever Happen to Worship

I have been thinking a lot about evangelism, and it's place in worship. I don't have any answers, but more and more I think our corporate worship services aren't the place to begin the task. But, instead, we need to be going out to those who need to be introduced to the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So, I guess I am jumping on the missional bandwagon. Any thoughts you have about the marriage of worship and evangelism are most welcome here....

My prayer tonight: Father, may it never be that we are more interested in bringing people to see the show than we are interested in humbly bowing before you. Lord, convict us when we are merely amateur actors putting on a home-talent show. Give us wisdom to know how to unite evangelism and worship in ways that bring you glory, share your love, and proclaim your truth. In all of our creativity and brainstorming, may we never lose sight of our purpose as leaders in the Church. May our lives be such that people are drawn to you and drawn to worship you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

boring stuff from the worship director

I tend to be drawn to songs with "Hallelujah" in them.* So, yesterday morning as I was getting ready for the day, a praise song was bouncing around in my head. I was singing the Hallelujah part, and then I came to the end of the song. And, as I was singing it I realized that I didn't at all agree with the theology. It was a little disconcerting to me that I had never realized this before. And, I was convicted. As the director of worship and music in my little church, I really need to be aware of the theology we are promoting in our corporate worship services.

Perhaps I have written before about my belief that today much of our theology comes from our music. The words we sing impact the way we think. So, as I am singing the lyrics in my day-to-day life, the theology becomes a part of me. I wonder if this is more of a new phenomenon. Now that we have access to music in the car, and in our homes, and on our mp3 players, lyrics follow us everywhere we go.

Not so long ago, the family I lived with sang a little song to me, and in a strange way I think it applies here.

"Be careful little ears what you hear,
Be careful little ears what you hear...."


*for an explanation on why, go to "a not-so-little dance of joy" from last spring.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

what i know is coming

The clouds hovered in the sky. The road was wet with melting snow. The heater in my little Honda kept me warm on this cold January day in Minnesota. And, as I curved to the right where one large interstate split off of another, a thought flickered in my mind. I suddenly got giddy as I realized that spring would indeed come. There are several things about this that are odd. One, there was nothing pointing toward spring at that moment except perhaps my brain wondering-off and brainstorming ideas for Lent on my drive home. And two, the thought of spring literally brought about a physical response of elation. I was honestly a little startled by my unexpected emotions. So, as I neared my exit I began thinking about the joy I find in the promise of spring. As I pulled into my neighborhood, I was struck by the excitement I felt about the impending season of spring, and its relationship to the excitement we should feel as Christ's return is imminent.

During 8th grade in the middle of winter a teacher of mine decided she had had enough of the cold Iowa winter. So, she brought in a wading pool, a bunch of water toys, and a few other warmer-weather props. Our activities that week were designed to celebrate what we knew was coming but wasn't there yet. And, in some strange way, it gave us a sense of hope that the cold dreary days of winter wouldn't last forever.

So, this week, I'm going to celebrate spring. I'm hoping for a few more butterflies, even if they do only exist in my stomach. And, I'm looking forward to celebrating that which I know is approaching, even though it isn't here yet.

Don't tell my mom, but I might even not wear my coat. :)



just so you know....
You are invited to share your thoughts, ideas,
prayers, etc. on the comment card posts...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

a message for you

"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves." - The Message

Friday, January 9, 2009

expectations

"If we presume that life owes us the best--and nothing but the best--then reality rarely lives up to our expectations." - Brennan, The Wisdom of Tenderness

all that we have

"The rich in spirit devote considerable time to thinking about what they don't have; the poor in spirit get right down to enjoying and celebrating what they do have."

- Brennan, The Wisdom of Tenderness

utterly and inexcusably biblically illiterate

"Today, Friday, January 9, 2009 —a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America has officially become utterly and inexcusably biblically illiterate. Let me explain." - Brian Lowery

welcome here

"And you are so welcome here, if you're ever in New Mexico" - Mitch McVicker

Thursday, January 8, 2009

in favor of life

"We're not in favor of life simply because we're warding off death. We're for life because we are for Abba, the essence of all life. And we mature in the wisdom of accepted tenderness to the extent that we stand up for the less fortunate; to the extent that no human flesh is a stranger to us; to the extent that we can touch the hand of another in love; to the extent that for us there truly are no 'others.'" - Brennan Manning

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

oh, it's back!

I unpacked my favorite green cup! And, it still holds coffee very well :)

thunder in the desert!

"Change your life. God's kingdom is here." - JohnB (from the Message)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

if lost, look up

"sometimes the only way that helps me with times like that is to find something bigger to swallow up what feels like a vast distance on all sides away from all we want to be close" - Mike

Monday, January 5, 2009

last year's language

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning. ~T.S. Eliot

i am moved

This morning I am struck by the first years of Jesus' life. Not so long ago I was having a conversation with a friend about the patterns of the stars during Mary's pregnancy and into the first years of Christ's life. My friend was telling me all about the constellations and how they have simulated with computer programs the actual sky that the so called "Kings" would have been studying as they were waiting and watching for the miraculous coming of the Messiah. The crazy thing (or not so crazy, really) is that the patterns found in the skies so many years ago actually line up with the account found in the pages of Scripture. I am not an astrologist, but it fits in with my experience with Scripture.

So, I've been reflecting on this all of Advent and now during Christmastide. And, as I opened my Bible this morning to read Matthew's account of Jesus' birth, several things moved me to worship.

First, the account of the Magi now makes more sense. It doesn't seem to be one star that they followed, but several constellations that announced such spectacular things with an amazing amount of accuracy. Our God is a god who rules all of the universe.

Second, so much prophecy. So much fulfillment. Our God is a god who rules all of the timing of all of the days.

Third, Joseph was a critical piece of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The account reveals to us Joseph's constant attention to direction from the Lord. It was no small thing for him to take Mary to be his wife and receive Jesus into his lineage. It was no small thing for him to pack up and go to Bethlehem with a very pregnant wife. It was no small thing for him to consistently hear and obey the voice of the Lord as our God instructed Joseph to move his family from place to place. And, I imagine it was no small thing for him to move them again and again as the Lord commanded it step-by-step. Maybe it's because I'm on my tenth address in three years, and I don't really understand the purpose of the constant transition, but looking at the story of our Lord shows me that with each move there was purpose, and with each move it may or may not have been clear to Joseph just why the Lord was moving him and his family as He was. Our God is a god who rules the universe, it's timing, and our timing within that timing.

And, I am moved.

just so you know....
You are invited to share your thoughts, ideas,
prayers, etc. on the comment card posts...

i always end up with these modular homes

Houses that don't have a good and strong foundation don't last as long and aren't nearly as stable. So, I guess it's worth the wait (and the expense) to begin by building a really solid structure.

just wondering...

Was Jesus the spittin' image of Mary?
How tall was Jesus?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

truly

so blessed...so unbelievably blessed.

baby, it's cold outside

two shirts, a fleece, a scarf, jeans, thick socks, slippers and one of my fuzzy blankets.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

when tears meet laughter

It's always weird to laugh when you are crying.

Friday, January 2, 2009

shopping

sometimes i feel like i am just trying on shoes...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

more words

"Like mankind itself, words are fallen vessels: capable of enormous good but incapable of perfection without the intervention of a savior," says Laura.

As I was proofreading a paper about St. Augustine's view of words for Laura, a dear friend of mine, I was fascinated with the rhetoric in the paper as well as in Augustine's Confessions. They relate to last Sunday's post "sunday symposium: guarding the meaning" quite well. Laura stated:

"...the indispensable nature of speech in conveying knowledge endows the spoken and written word with incredible power which can be used both positively and negatively."

She also quoted Roger Lundin, The Culture of Interpretation: Christian Faith in the Postmodern World, who writes, "Most contemporary schools of theory acknowledge the power of the past to shape language and the self. It has become a truism of contemporary thinking that we always speak as selves dramatically circumscribed by the meanings of the words we employ, and not as totally free selves choosing words and meanings at will. Every word we use carries a history of associations and usages within it. When we appropriate language for our own use, we inherit the moral history of the words we employ, even if we are attempting to do nothing more than use those words to get what we want. Words do not simply influence our thinking; they undergird it, they shape it, and they direct it"

...so, I'm back on my soapbox. The words we use to describe our worship of the Holy and Triune God tell us something. Let's make sure it is a theologically correct something.