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


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


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


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."


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 might, too.


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


"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 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?