Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas is Nuts

What I'm listening to: James Taylor Live, Disc 2

So, to only have three family Christmas events to attend isn't so bad. I'm fortunate to have any family at all to spend the holidays with. On my dad's side, I have lots of cousins about the same age and they all had babies in the last 3-4 years. So, this year (in which the most recent 4 were born) that Christmas was a little nutty. Not everyone could come, but there were still 6 children under the age of three in one house. 7 more children (under the age of 8) are part of our family.

That. is. nuts. If my grandparents were still alive, they would boast 13 great-grandchildren. All under the age of 8. Nuts.

As one of the three cousins who don't have kids yet, it's great practice in case I ever do.

And once again, we did not have a white Christmas. I'm was really holding out for one this year. It's snowed quite a bit, but we've also had 40-50 degree weather. So all the snow is melted. For at least the 5th year in a row there was nothing but dead grass and empty tree limbs to look at through the window.

For some reason having snow on Christmas takes me back to my childhood. I needed that this year. I wanted to remember snow ice-cream, snow clinging to my back after making angels, snowball fights with my brothers, snowmen so tall I had to stand on my radio flyer to put his hat on.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Boys vs. Girls

What I'm listening to: Happy Christmas Vol. 2 (Which was the best version of You're A Mean One Mr Grinch on it I've ever heard.)

I never much enjoyed hanging out with girls when I was younger. Too much drama. The backstabbing, petty, mean-girl behavior never appealed to me. I don't like hurting people's feelings, and even when it happens unintentionally I'm upset for days after discovering it. Those girls who make fun of the kid who only has 1 pair of shoes to wear to school and an out-of-date haricut are MEAN. And I never understood how behaving that way made you feel superior. I always felt worse after I did.

Boys? Way less drama. If bad things happened, they dealt with it and moved on. End of story. No heavy emotional baggage gets lugged around with them, so months later it doesn't sneak up and take it out on you again.

However, I am very happy my preference for men friends is no longer with me.

What would I do without my girlfriends? The kind of friends you can laugh silly with, can understand what you're going through at work because you're a woman, and feels with you when are deeply hurt by someone. For many men, it just flies right over their heads. I never feel embarrassed crying during a movie when a woman is next me. And only a woman can find joy in driving around town for and hour and a half just to listen to Christmas music and look at houses decorated with twinkle lights. (By the way, Clay Aiken's Christmas album is the worst thing I've ever heard.)

Nothing can take the place of a really good friend who "gets" you. And a man? Just can't do that. We are too complicated. And men have this strange desire to fix us. I know it's part of the whole "chasing after" thing, but sometimes? Men - we don't need to be fixed. We just need someone to listen to us and love us. If we want you to fix something, we'll ask you. (At least those of us who aren't passive-agressive will.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Bleak Mid-Winter

What I'm listening to: First Call's Beyond December

In the bleak mid-winter, the frosty wind did moan
The earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone

Snow had fallen softly, snow on snow on snow
In the bleak mid-winter, oh so long ago
Our God, heaven cannot hold Him nor the earth sustain
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign

In the bleak mid-winter a stable place sufficed
For the Lord almighty, Jesus Christ

Oh what can I give Him, woeful as I am
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb
If I were a wiseman, oh I would do my part
Yet, what can I give Him -- I will give my heart
Oh what can I give Him -- I will give my heart

It does feel a little like the bleak mid-winter here. Snow has fallen, the sun has shone a little and melted some, but the cold has set in. Now as the earth remains too cold to melt the remaining, ice has formed on the roads. The leaves are all gone from the trees - there is nothing green left nor any more vibrant colors of autumn anywhere in my sight. It is offically winter.

I Called It

Well, not exactly. But still, did I not say? Did I not claim that Matt Dillon's performance was incredible?

His Gloden Globe nomination is well deserved. Perhaps this will redeem this previous missteps of tasteless comedy and raunchy teen flicks. (However, I always liked "The Outsiders".)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Silence of Adam

What I'm listening to:
Harry Connick's Harry for the Holidays

I have not read the book that bears the same title as my post. But the book and it's topic recently came up in a conversation with some friends. However, the basic premise of it is extraordinary enough for me to want to explore here.

Here's a basic overview of the book (from Amazon):

Taken from a customer review:

Instead of depicting Eve as being deceived and then subsequently deceiving Adam, the book describes that Adam was there the whole time, yet said and did nothing.

Taken from the editorial review:
They trace the problem with men to the silence with which Adam became complicit in the first fall from God's grace.Adam failed to trust in God's word and example, and modern men do the same when, instead of following God's example in dealing with uncertainties, they retreat into self-righteousness and toughness that mask anger and fear.

Do I think all men do this? Of course not. To believe that is unfair and ignorant. But it does take some of the pressure off us women. After all, for centuries upon centuries Eve was the one who was first deceived, who then in turn deceived Adam. The one who fell first. The fall of man has been our fault all this time. As a guy I once knew used to say to any woman who frustrated him "Give me back my rib." So, it feels good to think we weren't alone. That Adam just stood by and let Eve become deceived.

My knowledge of the book's contents are this: it's a call to men to step up in their relationships (any - not just male-female) and be honest, courageous, and willing to fight. Adam was passive when the serpent spoke to Eve. He didn't ride in on a white horse to rescue her. So perhaps it wasn't all her fault. I'm sure the book spends more time on telling man how to step and overcome their fears, but I'm not interested in that for this post. What I'm interested in is this: Do men fail to come through for us out of fear of not being enough?

Is the reason some men fail to fight for us is because of a fear of failure? John Eldridge thinks so. After the fall, women were cursed with two things: the pain of childbirth and the submissive role to our husbands. Men were also cursed with two things: futility ("though painful toil..." and failure (it [the land] will produce thorns and thistles for you").

I recently had a man fail to come through for me. It hurt. I placed an expectation on him I believe he earned, that he told me he wanted. He said he would help me and he didn't. He retreated and I was left to fight on my own. It's true I don't see him in the same eyes as I once did. I once saw him as generous, loyal and true friend. When he didn't come through for me (after he said he would, of all things) I lost the part of myself I gave to him in friendship. So, this recent experience has me asking if he retreated because he was selfish (with his time, or maybe just didn't want to), or because he was fearful he couldn't come through for me?

Is there even a difference?

Is it selfish for men to not come through for us because they fear they fail when we need them? Part of me thinks it is. After all, there are things I do on I weekly basis I fear I'm not good enough to do. But I push though them anyway, because I know if I don't I'll always wonder if I could have or not.

I find this whole topic very intriguing. I think it's so fascinating to me because I believe most women feel the same way - we worry about being good enough. Not necessarily towards men, but in the general day-to-day living. But does that stop us from coming through for men? Not to me; it doesn't stop me from coming though for anyone. When someone needs me, I'm there. End of story. It doesn't make me a saint - I think it's how most women react.

So if both men and women have these same feelings of inadequacy, why do women act and men retreat?

I think it's because women think acting will help us become "more loved". Whereas men are afraid of what will happen if they fail.

I don't know, men, am I close?

I think I need to have a converstaion with a guy about this.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Of College and Painful Memories

What I'm listening to: City on a Hill

I'll be the first to admit - I'm lousy at keeping in touch with people.

The electronic age has certainly helped in this endeavor. It's easy to shoot a quick email to an old roommate just to check in and say hi. In fact, it's because of email I got back in touch with an old college friend and ended up being a bridesmaid in her wedding.

But some old memories and emotions surfaced in me recently that make me wonder if not keeping in touch with those old friends is intentional.

College is an abberation. You're in this place for a definitive matter of time, you are secluded from the real world and trying to decide what future you want. College usually happens at an age where a huge part of who you are is developed - you're finally away from home, on your own and you're thrust into an environment with a bunch of strangers that all of a sudden become your substitute family.

I haven't thought about college in a very long time. It's only consumed me recently because I came across a fellow blogger on this sight who attended the same college as I. Reading through his posts... well, made me smile and yet upset me at the same time. They made me smile because he is exactly how I remember, the baseball-obsessed, movie-loving, big-hearted guy who is still a talented and thoughtful writer who secretly harbors the desire to be a musician. He is now a more mature, better version of himself. (As I hope I am as well). But what bothered me was I realized the astronomically small amount of people from college I've kept track of. These were people who had a huge part in shaping who I am. Though I have many good memories of college, I have not kept in touch with the people attached to these memories. The people who made me laugh until my sides hurt, held me when I cried, encouraged me when I was defeated, loved me despite my selfishness and kept me accountable in my walk with God.

Granted, a couple have attempted to keep in touch with me. About a year ago, I got an email out of the blue from Travis, the only person I would consider a true accountability partner, asking what was up in my life, where I was at, and let me know he'd just become a father & was about to finish up seminary. About 6 months ago I got an email from a friend who'd been AWOL for at least 4 years... and there are the few I've never lost touch with, but all in all, it really isn't much.

As someone with the spiritual gift of mercy, I've noticed hurting people are drawn to my personality. As a friend of mine said to me just the other day "I know that when I spend time with you, I can calm down and just be myself." And looking back over the close friendships I've had, I've noticed a pattern. They all tend to come into my life for a season, usually when they are going through a difficult time. When they are past that difficult time and go though the process of healing, they move on. And I don't usually see them again. I do have a few that helped heal me - with names like Ryan, Maria, Missy, Travis, Daniel and Andrew. I also had a few that were just fun - with names like Scott, Tricia, Emory, and Tarah. And those I would consider my dearest, sweetest friends from that time - with names like Angela, Nathan, Andy, Lesa, Rebekah, and Sarah - the names that when I hear them and type them even now, I'm welled-up because my love for them is still so strong. They are part of me and always will be. However, the list for those I helped heal and move on is a longer list. And I have mixed emotions about that.

Please don't mistake me, I'm not trying to lament "poor Stephanie, the girl whose friends always leave". I'm not attempting a gigantic pity party here, I promise. This is simply a time of reflection for me. I've accepted my gift for what it is and had to adjust accordingly. That doesn't make it easy, but nothing worthwhile in life ever is.

So am I intentionally not staying in touch with these people because of this?

The painful memories of college and lost friendships are whirling back to me in light of my recent reconnection with this old friend. (not because of him, not in any way, but just because he represents this specific time in my life). The painful college memories have certainly dulled - partly due to time but also admission on my part that some of that pain was my fault. But as is with the nature of every woman - we want to be pursued. Chased after. I admit I'm sad no one from that time in my life is really chasing me. Self-doubt and insecurity have seeped in. I wonder if I made an impact at all.

The mistakes I made back then - the plentiful amount of them - have rushed through my heart today. "I should have done it this way..." "I can't believe I actually behaved that way..." "What was I thinking?" "It's a wonder anyone could stand to be around me". These thoughts attack both my head and my heart. The desire to be good enough and thought well of is normal for most people. The question I should really be asking myself is if God is honored by who I was and am and will be.

I wish I knew the answer.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


What I'm listening to: My Restoration mix

Five Qualities of an Effective Worship Leader (by Lamar Boschman)
1.) Knowledge of God (Have a large view of God)
2.) A Heart Shaped by Worship (Be a worshiper in private)
3.) Intuitiveness (Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is essential)
4.) Pastoral Heart (Be a leader of people before you are a leader of songs)
5.) Musicality (Play skillfully before the Lord)

As a worship leader, I've always felt more like the quarterback than the coach. Meaning I'm in there, with the congregation -worshipping - just as the quarterback is in there with the team. A leader, but in no way like the coach, who is just shouting instruction from the sidelines. I'm leading them, but we are working together to get down the field to the goal - authentic worship of God.

I struggle with accepting that's really all I can do. Our worship band is comprised of an amazing group of worshippers. They love playing music and much as I do, but above that, they love to worship. Our hearts are connected as a result.

But what of those they don't get it? Those that can't seem to engage? I see them every Sunday - their blank stares, looking just above my head and the projection sceen with the words on it. My own heart is so full when I'm playing, singing, leading worship. And as Dan (the other guitarist) said to me Sunday after we got done leading the service, "I just don't get it." He vocalized what I was feeling. Worshipping with music is like breathing for me. It is for Dan, too. Our similarity there has helped us play well together, to strum together. I just don't get those who don't engage in worship. I fear they are not engaging at all. I fear they aren't worshipping.

As the leader, what can I do? I worry about the hearts of the congregation - where they are in their walk with Christ, when I don't see authentic worship coming from their hearts. Maybe for some of them, there is no way to make sure of that by just looking on the outside. My face, my heart, comes alive when I'm playing. I come alive because I'm drawing closer to him. And I know they shows on my face. I can feel it. Maybe it isn't that way for others.

I must trust that God will change their hearts, because I can't do that. Only he can. I simply hope and pray I'm doing all I can.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Repair or Replace?

What I'm listening to: Fleming and John's Delusions of Grandeur

I'm running errands over my lunch break today and I've got the radio tuned to New Life Live by default - I'm usually listening to The Bridge, a local christian radio station, when I'm driving. Anyway, there was a caller asking about her marriage. Her husband had cheated on her, moved away and wanted nothing more to do with her and her question to them was "When do I give up on this marriage?" At one point, Steven Arterburn said "There comes a time when our hearts must be either repaired or replaced." So, my mind went back to the theme of restortation I've been exploring the last month. And I found this question very profound. Repair or replace?

It's certainly not my place to answer this question. God knows and understands the depth my hurt, and thus can best decide what I need: A new heart or one that's patched up. I recall a moment back during my days of insomnia and my "jr. year slump" that I asked God to take my heart because I didn't want it anymore. It was too battered and broken from the misuse of others.

John Donne wrote a great piece entitled Batter My Heart

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to'another due,
Labor to'admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly'I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

So I asked myself if I could choose, would I want a new heart or one that's patched up? Mended or made over? Ravished or repaired?

To have a new heart sounds like it would be easier. None of the old hurts and heartaches would linger. A fresh start - no longer damaged, but whole again. Sometimes I think I might give anything to not have the hurt I've experienced remain with me.

But a mended heart? This is a more intriguing idea. Just as a broken limb might heal, it won't be as strong, but you'd know better for the next time. You know where your weakness lies, so you can avoid another injury. Wisdom comes with a mended heart. But so does the pain.

So what would I rather have? A replaced or a repaired heart?

For some reason I am remembering my days of 4-H when I spent my summers outside, taking old varnish and stain off the latest antique my father found. I would scrape and scrape down to the bare wood, sand it smooth and start from scratch. But I remember wanting to keep some of the scuffs. They gave the piece personality. The scuffs are what made it unique.

Great, now I'm starting to sound like an after school special.

O'erthrow me, and bend Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new

We all come with our own set of emotional baggage. That doesn't mean I have to like it. So repair or replace my heart, O God. To whatever you see fit.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Snow Makes Me A Loner

What I'm listening to: Gretel's Unreturnable Dirt _____________________________________________________________
I've discovered something about myself this last weekend. When push comes to shove, I'm more of a loner than a people person.

I've been snowed-in since yesterday afternoon. I love snow. I love it's beauty, the way it symbolizes Christmas is here. Snow blankets the Nebraska plains, and blankets the trees that have lost their leaves from the windy autumn. I love to pick it up in my gloved hand and smoosh it together (yes that's a real word. To me anyway). And I especially love it when it falls from my fingers and lands on my shoes. I love it way it feels in my hair during a snowball fight, I love how it makes a warm house seem so much warmer when I come inside.

What I don't love is what it does to the roads and how it makes my trips to work scary. But it's such a small amount of suffering for the peace it brings my soul. It's my "manna from heaven" I guess.

Snow draws us inside and makes us do crazy things. I love getting stranded because of snow. It's like an excuse to be irresponsible again. Like skipping work to watch Friends all day long, or back in my college days, a chance to gather in the lobby of the dorm and watch movies all day because classes were can celled. (Which unfortunately only happened once in my four years of higher education in Kansas. It never snowed much there. Just lots and lots of ice storms.)

That all being said, I love how being snowed-in isolates me. I get to do all the little things around the house that need to be done, I don't have to put make-up on, and I can blare the music loud, I can finish my latest book: The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, and I can get my guitar out and play and play until my fingers beg for mercy.

I love it when it snows.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I'm Addicted

What I'm listening to: John Mayer's Any Given Thursday

I can't help it. I'm addicted to TV shows on DVD.

I don't have cable. I've always seen it as an unnecessary expense, I never had it growing up, so I don't really know what I'm missing. But I kept hearing about all these great shows on the WB or UPN that I should see.

So this weekend I had Friday off, and needed to paint the Christmas decorations for the women's Christmas banquet at church. I knew I'd be inside all day (which is not a bad idea the day after Thanksgiving. I get crabby when I shop this time of year. And I love to shop.) Anyway, so rented the first couple of discs of Veronica Mars

I've noticed that since TV shows are released on DVDs now, it's getting harder and harder for me to get into the show I currect make a point to watch during the week. There aren't many - The Amazing Race, Grey's Anatomy and Alias. I used to be faithful Joan of Arcadia to until the idiot known as Les Moonves decided a show about ghosts speaking to an underdressed, over-exposed Tiger Beat star would be better to reach the target teenage audience.

Joan was a great show. The only show on my list I really hated to miss. Though it lost direction in season 2, I still loved the characters and the idea that God would use someone like the character of Joan as a vehicle was his larger plan. What I loved about Joan was the idea that God is in the little things as much as the big things. That sometimes you don't see his affects until much later, but you will always be better off if you do what he says. The one show on TV that actually said something important. That portrayed God is a positive light, that didn't make me squeek that once again, Hollywood hates all Christians and makes us come across as psychos.

That being said, there isn't much on TV now that I care about. I own the Felicity DVDs ( I actually discovered the show after it's cancellation - which wouldn't have mattered to me, as it was on the WB) and have enjoyed them. Next, I'm shipping them to Hungary to my friend Shannon who wants to get everyone over there hooked. I also have recently gotten into Gilmore Girls (I blame Shannon - she first mentioned the show to me, I went and rented it, and cannot stop loving the obscure pop culture references. Amy Sherman-Palladino is my hero. So is Keiko Agena).

So I liked Veronica Mars. It's kinda of like Alias meets Pretty in Pink. Kristen Bell is very likable. It has some funny moments, and it has an overarching story line of Veronica's dad's investigation of who killed the best friend (very a la Twin Peaks but much less creepy.) The underdog (Veronica) who once was part of the A-List crowd, suddenly becomes their biggest enemy. And later in the season, their biggest fear. It's rather satisfying. Oh, and Logan? Adorable.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


What I'm listening to: Caedmon's Call's Share the Well

Completely fascinating. Intensely shocking. Progressively moving. And I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. (That hasn't happened to me since American Beauty) Crash is not what I expected. But I go into most movies with very little because most of what I've seen in the last few years has lowered said expectation level. However, I'd heard the film was powerful. I loved Million Dollar Baby - which earned every award it won - and Crash was also written by Paul Haggis, so I picked it up after work tonight expecting to see a good movie, but not like this.

I was taken on a journey through a day in the lives of 15 or so different characters. Some I hated, some I loved. All I ended up caring about. So much so I found myself tracing the reason a person behaved a certain way back to the character that first encoutered them. It's Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia without the quirky sense of humor. And it has a better purpose.

This movie is about race. About the stereo-types we are pre-disposed of, and how we know they are pre-disposed, unjustified, but we believe them anyway. Actually we don't even believe them. We just feel them. And this movie makes us ask why.

Michael Pena's performance is enduring. Matt Dillion's is powerful. Thandie Newton's is amazing. Don Cheadle is cold yet heartbreaking. Everything about this movie means something. It has a point. Not just to shock you (which the language and dialogue is clearly meant to do) but to help us understand one another. The Cameron character said it best "You embarrass me. You embarrass yourself."

Go rent it. What I say about it will never do it justice.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Playing Pitch and Laughing

What I'm listening to: Norah Jones' Feels Like Home

My sides hurt. From laughing.

I've been part of a small group bible study for almost a year now. I love it. Every Monday, we meet and go through the study we are currently on. It's all women about my age, and we have an amazing time together. I prayed for the right small group to come into my life and God brought it. I am blessed.

Tonight there wasn't a study. It's the leader's birthday so we all brought junk food and played pitch. We had two tables going and it was loud. Lots of laughing, so much fun. My sides hurt and my voice is actually a little scratchy. Yes, we laughed that much.

I don't deserve this. I don't deserve such a fun night with some great people. I really don't. But there it was, kind of out of nowhere. Life's been hectic lately, with my church celebrating it's 125th anniversary this last weekend, my two jobs, the holidays coming, and tons of other personal stuff. So much I almost didn't want to go just so I had a night free to catch up on things. I hadn't had a night free in two weeks. But there is was, this small sparkle in the midst of the dark sky.

But I went because I said I would (I'm "Miss Reliable", that I am) and I'm happy I went. I am blessed beyond measure.

So why am I still frustrated?

I want another full-time job badly. I don't know what or where, but I'm so ready for something new.

Is it so much to ask that both my personal and professional life are for once good at the same time? For as long as I can remember, it's been one or the other. (Which the exception of summer to 2004 to february of 2005, when both were awful).

Even though I know I don't deserve the blessings I have, I can't help but wonder. When's it my turn?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Model A

I love this picture of the Model A. My uncle (who the car belongs to -
passed on to him from my grandpa) and my grandma are inside.

What I'm listening to: Caedmon's Call's Back Home

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What it Means to Be Held

Well, technically it snowed, but there was no accumulation, so my excitement was preliminary. Boo! The result? It's just really, really cold and extra windy. Boo!

There's this song by Natalie Grant I'm blaring on my stereo right now called "Held". The song is about the promise that after the fall of man, we have the promise of God holding us. And I know the following interpretation of the song is probably not what was intended by writer, however I've never been one for conformity.

This is what it means to be held - How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive

This is what it is to be loved - and to know that the promise was when everything fell we'd be held

And it occured to me the reason we hurt,the reason we have an ache inside us, is from being held. From that promise of things better, the promise of home. It we didn't know just how amazing home will be when we get there, we wouldn't hurt this way.

God holding you kind of hurts - if you've ever experienced it, you know what I mean. It's a feeling of sorrow (that we have so long to wait for home) and protection (from the fallen world of sin) and a million other emotions I can't even put to words.

The sacred is torn from your life. For me, that's about the sacred purity I was created to have. It's been torn from me because of my sin. And as I place my head on God's chest and let him hold me, I have to let go of that sacred purity and yet long for it at the same time. It seems so unfair. I have to live in this fallen state of sin when I know what it means to be held.

Restoration (Part 2)

What I'm listening to: "Restoration" mix of the following songs:

Time-Chantal Kreviazuk
Beautiful-Bethany Dillon
The Space In Between Us -Building 429
Find Me In The River-Delirious?
Much Afraid-Jars Of Clay
Do You Dream Of Me?-Across The Sky
Close of Autumn-Caedmon's Call
Cry A River-Amy Grant
Stars-(From Les Miserables)
This Road- Ginny Owens
Who Am I-Casting Crowns
My Father's Crown-Charlie Peacock
Pour Me Out-PFR
Still The Cross -FFH
Be Still, My Soul- Ginny Owens
I Wait For The Sun-PFR
Waterdeep-Don & Lori Chaffer & Hey Ruth
Tea And Sympathy- Jars Of Clay
The Worst Is My Being Alone-Don Chaffer
Refine Me-Jennifer Knapp
Wait For Your Rain- Todd Agnew
She Stumbles Through The Door-Sarah Masen
Save Me- Kevin Max
I'm Afraid That I'm Not Supposed To Be Like This- Waterdeep
Rain All Day-Flemming & John
Love's As Strong As Death (from "Canticle of the Plains)- lead vocal by Kevin Smith
Constant-Out Of The Grey
Missing Love-PFR
Damaged -Plumb
The Chasing Song -Andrew Peterson
Phobic- Plumb
You Say-Vertical Horizon
The Mountain-Steven Curtis Chapman
Hold On-Sarah McLachlan
Dare You To Move-Switchfoot

Each one is significant to this theme of restoration I'm exploring.

It's going to snow tonight and I can't wait!

Now that I have that out of my system...

As I continue to reflect on the idea that Christ came not just to rescue me from sin, but to restore me, I have a feeling I'm about to go on an amazing journey. I find myself experiencing things I've never experienced before: a new eloquence when I speak about my walk with Christ, and a new confidence in who I am. I'm cherishing experiences more, I'm loving my friends even more than before, I'm understanding why I feel the way that I do. Because God designed me that way.

Sin has ravaged our bodies, our hearts. The fall didn't just create a gap between us and God, it broke our hearts. When sin entered the world, everything changed. And the fall has broken my spirit. My own sin has destroyed my soul.

You see, I thought it was just me that felt inadequate. That felt unsure, shameful, guilty, not good enough. I thought I was the only one longing for someone to chase after me, catch me, and love me. Sin has brought all these feelings upon us. Not just me. These are the feelings God wants to restore. He wants to lead me to a place of joy and love, and out of this place of despair.

Healing an injury is usually a big inconvenience. We want so badly to be the way we were, sometimes we try too soon to go on as usual. And in the process, we re-injure it, having to start all over. His restoration of our souls should be treated the same way. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him

I have a feeling there will be much more on this topic... For now, I leave you with lyrics from song #3 on my list:

Look at my heart again/Look at the mess I've got it in
I'm trying to trust in You/To know that you'll see me through
Through my pride/Through my shame/Into Your love /Into Your grace
I'm not looking back/Till I see Your face/And I'm running straight to You
Because all I really want to do is to fall into
The emptiness that is the space in-between us/To break this division
All I really want to do is to fall into
The emptiness that is the space in-between us
Erase it and bring us together again

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Creepiest Light I've Ever Seen

I work at a lighting company and a new product we've introduced is one-of-a-kind glass art pendants. He hand-blows them, signs each one so it really is like getting your own piece of art. And I really like the artist. A lot of his work is beautiful and he's one of the nicest guys I've ever talked to on the phone, but this pendant? Creeps me out.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Restoration (Part 1)

What I'm listening to: Tenth Hour Calling

I've been broken and beaten down. In many ways, over many years. By many people.

Mostly, I've just never dealt with the brokeness. Time has done well to heal some wounds, but never have I taken time to confront the hurt head on, to open it and exposed the wound so it could heal. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was out of unconscious need to squelch that hurt, perhaps it was I didn't think it was necessary.

But I have a feeling it was because of my fear of what might be exposed.

To have our pain exposed - to one person or the whole world - is nothing anyone seeks out. Our culture has taught us vulnerability = weakness and those who feel pain simply don't know how to handle the real world.

Was I afraid of being weak? I think so. But I was more concerned to acquiesce the status quo, accepting pain wasn't an option,and in doing so, I wouldn't be weak. That somehow ignoring it would make me stronger.

When God became man, walked the earth, what was it for? I'd always been taught it was to save the lost. The bridge the gap, created by our sin, between us and him. To enable me to stand before him completely justified, sinless. His blood does that for me.

But what about the rest? I've been rescued. That's what the work of the cross was did. But was that all? When Paul encountered God on the road to Damascus, did God rescue him only to let him lie in the road? No. He sent Ananias to restore Paul. To heal him.

Why should it be any different for us? A loving father wouldn't rescue his daughter from drowning only to leave her by the side of the pool. God's plan of salvation is more than just saving my soul. It's about restoring it.

Isaiah 61: 1-6
Announce Freedom to All Captives
The Spirit of GOD, the Master, is on me
because GOD anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.
GOD sent me to announce the year of his grace--
a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies--
and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
Rename them "Oaks of Righteousness"
planted by GOD to display his glory.
They'll rebuild the old ruins,
raise a new city out of the wreckage.
They'll start over on the ruined cities,
take the rubble left behind and make it new.
You'll hire outsiders to herd your flocks
and foreigners to work your fields,
But you'll have the title "Priests of GOD,"
honored as ministers of our God.
You'll feast on the bounty of nations,
you'll bask in their glory.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I Will Not Live For Anyone Else

What I'm listening to: Sara Groves' Conversations (In particular, This Journey is My Own, which is such a great song)

So, I talked to an old friend tonight. Someone I haven't really seen or talked to in well over a year. We still live in the same town, he's just not my neighbor anymore. When he was, I saw him 3-4 times a week usually and as a result, we become (what I thought was) very close friends. And after almost 5 years of friendship, he disappeared from my life. When he moved, that was it. No more neighbor who came knocking at my door at 11:30 at night just to talk. No guy to walk to TCBY with on a warm summer night, no more...well, no more friend.

Which, obviously, hurt me. He mentioned many times in the last few months of our friendship about how close we were and how he didn't know what he'd do without me. If not for that, I simply would chock it up to a season of friendship that passed it's time. That's common in my life, because hurting people tend to seek me out and when the healing is done, they tend to move on. I assumed that's what would happen with him. But as he continually told me how important I was to him, the assumption that he would leave went away. I believed what he said.

Several years ago I decided being friends with men was just not a good idea. Not that it can't be done, but it just gets so incredibly complicated. And every past male friendship I'd had just wasn't worth those complications. So when he and I first met, I made a mindful decision to stay away. However, that didn't work. He continue to pursue my friendship, and with my spiritual gift of mercy, it was hard not to help this guy who was hurting, who was going through a tough time spiritually, was dealing with a death in the family, moving to a new place and trying hard to make friends.

So I let my guard down. I trusted him. I believed him when he said he was very loyal to his friends and stuck by them. I thought this might be the one male friendship that would prove me wrong...that it was worth it. Then when I went though the most difficult time of my life, (last summer/fall) suddenly he wasn't around. No more pop-ins, no more of him anywhere. The last time we spoke was the night I found out 2 pieces of really bad news and he knew I was hurting. He knew I need a friend. And then he was...simply...gone

So much for the "I don't know what I'd do without you" overtures, right?

My best friend Lindsey knows the whole story and several months ago said to me, "Don't let what he's done harden you, okay?" And I was so startled by this comment. She knows me well enough to see that in me, to know if it's coming. And she was right to warn me. If I let what he did (or actually, didn't do) get to me, it would change an important part of who I am. The part of me that can help those who are hurting heal. And that part of me, while it isn't easy, is something I don't want to loose. It's something God gave me for a reason and I trust that even though it can be a burden, there's a greater purpose for it. And having this in my life, means I must be so careful who I live for. Who I let have my heart. Who I trust. Who I let hurt me.

When I sat down to write this tonight, I had no idea what I was going to end up writing about. I usually don't. But it's extra appropriate I'm listening to the song I am.

When I stand before the Lord, I'll be standing alone
This journey is my own
Still I want man's advice, and I need man's approval
This journey is my own

Why would I want to live for man, and pay the highest price
What does it mean to gain a whole world, only to lose my life

So much of what I do is to make a good impression
This journey is my own
And so much of what I say is to make myself look better
But this journey is my own

And why would I want to live for man, and pay the highest price
And what does it mean to gain a whole world, only to lose my life

And I have never felt relief like I feel it right now
This journey is my own
Cuz trying to please the world, it was breaking me down
It was breaking me down

And now I live and I breathe for an audience of one
Now I live and I breathe for an audience of one
Now I live and I breathe for an audience of one
Cuz I know this journey is my own

And why would I want to live for man, and pay the highest price
And what does it mean to gain a whole world, only to lose my life
And you can live for someone else, and it will only bring you pain
I can't even judge myself, only the Lord can say, ˜Well done.'

Oh, this journey is my own

But I think James said it best: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

So talking to him tonight was awful and uncomfortable. What did I learn from knowing this guy? I may never know, but I know that my heart is worth more than how he treated it. God has shown me that.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Never Underestimate God

What I'm listening to: Rich Mullin's A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band

I was so nervous this morning. And I never get nervous. Not when it comes to leading worship, anyway. When I first started to lead with my guitar, I was a little nervous, but not like today.

Actually, it was more worry that nervousness.

They installed part of our new sound system this week. The mixer's still on back order, but everything else is pretty much done. So that was simply an added question mark on what worship was going to be like this morning. Because this was the first Sunday morning service I lead worship with an entire band behind me - three guitar, four vocalists, a keyboardist and a drummer. But that's not what made me worry. What I was worried about was what the congregation response was going to be.

They knew it was coming. We'd been rehearsing for the last couple of months, and we led worship for the youth programs' fall kickoff last month. But having all those people up there was going to be a new thing. And this is a very traditional church.

Meaning, it was just a few years ago that they were still leading worship with a lone guy at the pulpit with an organist backing him up.

But today? Today was the pinnacle of all my sweat and tears (lots and lots of tears). I was hired to change the music from traditional to contemporary. And for the last few years, I'd prayed for a guitarist and a drummer. So I took care of the guitarist part. I learned to play myself. Then finally, I heard about a jr. high kid who was taking trap set lessons. Now, 2 months into his freshman year, he is the backbone beat of our group and I couldn't be more proud of him. And now, a year and a half after I learned to play guitar, I have three guitarists. And I have another trap set player. As Hudson Taylor once said "God's work, done God's way, will never lack God's supply."

And in this one moment, as I stood up there with my guitar (an instrument I always found intimidating, but I learned anyway - and if you ask I'll tell you the story of why I learned how to play) and I was leading this group of musicians, once again I felt the responsibility I'd been entrusted with weaken me a little. But also in the moment did I finally realize that all I'd been envisioning, all my heart and soul, everything I'd wanting for this church to become alive in worship, had finally come to fruitition. The sounds of all the voices - a humble 200 or so - was the sound of worship. A sound that honors God. It was great to hear that sound.

And as we sang It's rising up all around, it's the anthem of the Lord's renown (from Holy is the Lord by Chris Tomlin) I realized this church could rise. That this stubborn church I'd been prodding along all these years might actually let God step in and change things. That they were finally ready for God to do an amazing work with them, and that work starts with worship of him.

Well, I didn't have an angry mob come after me once the service was over with. Nor did I get "Wow, worship was great this morning!" either. What that means, I don't know. But my worry was unnecessary. Because God took care of it. He provided, he blessed, and even allowed us to have some fun.

Here's to many more Sunday morning services like today's.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Answering the Call

What I'm listening to: Tait's Empty

My friend Shannon is in Budapest - she left last month to join the YWAM mission group there and I'm thrilled for her. She sent me these great pictures this week of her new apartment and roommate. She just had a birthday and as I looked through her photos of how she spent that day, her birthday, in a strange country with a person she barely knows, I was simply in awe of her.

Back in 1996, I dedicated my life to the ministry. At the time, I thought I knew what that would involve. When that didn't work, I accepted what God's plan was and that was for me to be here. Years later, I'm enjoying my simple life. My life filled with love and friends, music and bible study, graphic design and the guitar... just simple things. Lovely things I've settled into, an environment I love and that make my life the abundant life God has promised.

But am I settling?

Let me back up a bit.

Several months ago, I was feeling directionless in my role as worship leader at my church. So much so, I was wondering if it wasn't time for me to move on. And I almost missed it: God's purpose. I realized I was feeling directionless because my church was also. We were without a pastor for about a year and during that time, God revealed to me what was/had gone wrong within our church. Things I couldn't see before. Maybe I wasn't ready to see them. And it took being without a pastor for many of us in leadership positions to step up and make things change. So I've been taking an active role in making that collective vision happen. It's scary, but as my friend Lindsey said "You've answered the call." Sometimes the enormous responsibility I have weakens me, but I rest in him who is able to keep me from falling.

Shannon is halfway across the world, sharing the light of Christ. She has stepped out in faith and taken a path few would take. She left her family and friends here in Nebraska to follow God's call. And all I could think about is how lonely I would be if I was doing the same thing. There are many things I admire about Shannon's faith and her willingness to go where called. And while I know God has in no way called me to Budapest, I can't help but wonder if I could even do it if I was called.

These lovely things I surround myself with are just benefits from having a stable income and remaining in a place for 5 or so years now. I go through highs and lows in my walk with Christ, I get to see my family almost every week, I lead worship at a church I love, I have friends who I trust and who are there for me. Not thousands of miles away, but here. So I'm not let down, I'm not out of my element, I'm not lonely. I'm comfortable.

My life is abundant. I may have answered a call, but it seems so easy. It's almost like what I've been called to do is like breathing, an extension of myself. I guess I'm being brave, not like Shannon, but brave nonetheless.

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

What Peace? and What Heart?

...when you least expect it...

I learned a very valuable lesson. I learned what it means to strive for excellence, not perfection. And I finally know and have experienced the raw power of God’s peace.

A friend of mine once said, “I make the little decisions with my head and the big decisions with my heart. After all, that’s where Jesus is.” I’ve often pondered that statement - wondering if this was just a way to make decisions based solely on feelings or if there is a great truth in her words. I fear our society is one that often relies on feelings only - the mentality “If it feels good, do it.” This mantra is all around us - it has damaged us emotionally, physically, deep down. And Satan has so deceived us we don’t see and realize it’s happened.

But Christ does live in our hearts. He does in mine. I struggle with making it a home for him - because my heart is hard at times, it’s been let down my friends, family, co-workers, professors, bosses. And I’ve let my own heart down with my sinful actions, my words, my thoughts. But I still want my heart to be a place where Jesus feels welcome. And I’m big on Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” I believe we should be careful who we give our hearts to - who we trust and love. Who we allow into our lives. Because our hearts are precious. That’s why God wants our hearts. It is the wellspring of life.

I've realized I felt as though I’ve been waiting for my life to start in the last couple of years. Then words from the old John Lennon song came into my head “Life is what happened while you’re making other plans.”

Then I remembered the story of the book of Ruth. The story of a woman who was so in the centered of God’s will she followed her mother-in-law for no other reason than she knew it was what God wanted her to do. And God blessed her for doing that. And others also saw the honor in what she did.

Ruth 2:11-12

Boaz replied, "I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband-how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD , the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge."

When you are in the center of God’s will, there is a peace that overcomes you. And I’ve had the head-heart struggle in the last several months. My head was telling my “It’s time to leave this town and move on.” And my heart was saying, “Don’t go. I want to be here.” And I really wanted to stay. But I didn't want to ignore my head.

Then God directed me to Philippians. The peace of God transcends all understanding. I’ve probably read that verse a thousand times. But the other night I discovered something new about that verse. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.(Phil 4:7) I took out the appositive and the full force of what God does hit me right in the chest.

“The peace of God will guard my heart.”

I said this over and over, almost in disbelief. The two issues I’ve been stuggling with I didn't think had a connection, but somehow they were connected. And God showed this to me. His word transformed me. And now I see that the center of his will is what will keep my heart at peace. For there is no other place I want to be.

What I'm listening to: Renee Fleming's Under the Stars

Sunday, October 23, 2005

At home with the huskers

Friday, October 21, 2005

Never Underestimate My Ability to Doubt Myself

What I'm listening to: Chris Tomlin's Arriving

I've been hearing a theme in my everyday life lately - fear.

"Fear not" is the most frequent instruction God gives us in the Bible. Probably not a coincidence. Fear can sink fast - without you even realizing it. Bad fear is when trust isn't there. Good fear is when it keeps you from driving like an idiot.
Is my fear a lack of trust in God? I'm not sure. I know my fear most certainly is for lack of trust in myself. I've screwed up enough that I'm too scared to do something - because I'm just sure I'll screw it up. I know myself well enough. I'm really good and ignoring all the warning signs God provides - all the instruction he give me and just messing things up.

Just another lovely side effect of low self esteem.

It's happening slowly - I can feel it. I have since last spring. God knows me well enough to not hit me in the face with it all at once. He does it in pieces - so I can get used to the idea. So when he hands me the last piece, it will make sense.

Sometimes I wish he would hurry it along. I guess I just need to trust (there's that word again) he will reveal it to me when I'm ready.

I guess I just want to be ready now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

may i wear black?

What I'm listening to: Don Chaffer's You Were at the Time for Love

coffee and daylight obscure my senses as the sun goes down
my eyes travel across pages with words i do not want to face
i want to be put away
where no one is bothered by me
where the corner of a room is my haven
and the color black is not of death, but of hiding

is there a difference?

my ears hear the low rumble of trains in the distance and traffic in midtown
the smell of expresso beans and paper reach through
all at once i want to be everywhere and nowhere

to know more life
to be more who i am (or who i should be)
am i enough?

but my shame overtakes my heart
i wear the black sweater of fear
the back of the room welcomes me

the whispers in my ear...

you are meant for more than this

i have no faith in me

but i do

the walls of self-protection weaken

but may i still wear black?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Don't Shoot Me Because I'm A Mac Person

What I'm listening to: Aimee Mann

Man, do I catch a lot of crap for being a Mac person.

In this sad little PC world, I actually find myself seeking out Mac people. And when we find each other, it's like there's this weird little unspoken connection between us. We don't have to say it, or talk about it, we just know. It's like we've got this little secret the rest of the world doesn't know about.

We just know. We know it's better to use a Mac for many, many things. We know it easier to use, we know the logic of the operating system makes so much more sense than a PC, and that the answer to every solution isn't "ctl + alt + del". Mac users rarely have to reboot - and when they do, it's not because of the hardware, it's because of the user. My PC? I'm rebooting every other day.

And what's with never being able to find anything on my PC? It's like when I'm working on something - where it gets saved off in neverland. I never wonder about that with a Mac.

But don't ever tell a pro-PC person this or they will talk until you are converted. I've actually be afraid for my life when confronted with a fanatical PC person.

And I love that I'm sitting here listen to iTunes - an apple product, btw - while I'm typing this. Windows Media Player? Are you kidding me? Who owns the twisted mind that came up with that program? Drag 'n drop - give me iTunes anyday. And what could be better than a program that lets me, at the click of 1 button, listen to all my Waterdeep music for the next 3 1/2 hours?

I'm lovin' me some iTunes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

When did I become an adult?

What I'm listening to: Soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou

I still remember sitting in my AP English classroom in high school, filling out my applications to college, repearting my S.S. # over and over again, wondering where I'd end up next. I was so sure I'd be in New York City or somewhere exciting - just because I thought I deserved it.

I have a cousin who believes, more or less, in socialism. That the poor and less fortunate deserve help from the government simply because they are poor and less fortunate. Then there are all those crazy people who believe the bible says, "God helps those who help themselves." Believe me - that's no where in the bible. But my unskewed vision of the world I had back at the age of 17 trusted in that ideal - that if I worked hard, I would get ahead in life. I would deserve the success that comes with an honest day's work.

The reality of paying bills, shopping for cars, houses, and health insurance has turned me into an adult. And I resent it.

I just spent the last 4 days with my family. When we used to get together, our conversations consisted of, "Man, my alegebra teacher sucks." and "I passed my driver's test on the first try! Woo-hoo!" now consists of talk on the private mortage insurance required if you don't have a down payment for a first-time homeover's loan, or how our commute to work sucks.

I miss the days of being irresponsible - that days of poofy bangs, green legwarmers, pink mini-skirts, blue mascara and when my biggest concern was the latest rumors floating around school about my best friend.

Whatever happened to my hopes and dreams about the exciting, lovely life I was planning to lead?

Not that I'm unhappy with how things are now. I'm really not. It's not always easy, but I know God has called me to this specific place in this specific time. I don't know how long he'll keep me here (which is another things about growing up I don't always care for, but my obedience to him is more important than my life simply being "easy") but I'll stay as long as God wants me here. When I was a kid in a situation I didn't like, I just cried my way out of it. I can't do that now. Oh, the crying still comes in droves, but I still am required to trudge through it. I trudge through the mud, and I must accept that no matter how fast I spin my wheels, I might be stuck until it's time for me to move on.

So maybe that's what being an adult is about. Showing patience and grace while trudging through the mud.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Misplaced Obsessiveness

What I'm listening to: Plumb's Beautiful Lumps of Coal

So I'm innocently shopping at my hometown Hobby Lobby - a little against protest, not because I hate the store, but because the last 7 days of my life were overtaken by a scrapbook my mother I insisted I make for my grandmother. (Don't get me wrong - I'm happy to do it for my grandmother, it's the "in 10 days" part I have trouble with, as her surprise 90th b-day party is this Sunday.) Anyway, I'm innocently looking for the paper I need, I turn with my cart around the corner and I see her. This annoying girl I used to be friends with awhile back. She studiously ignores me, as I equally studiously ignore her. But what happens? Tons and tons of stupid thoughts run through my head - thoughts that remind me of how good women are at obsessing about the relationships in their lives.

This girl was truly annoying. Looking back, I have no idea why I was friends with her. She had the most negative attitude I'd ever seen. Never once did I eat a meal with her where she didn't feel compelled to rattle on endlessly about someone, something in her life irritated her. I'm not an overly positive person - ask anyone who knows me - I'm moody as Simon Cowell during PMS week, I really am. I'm outgoing, yes, but completely introverted in every other way and most of the time, just want to sit home and hang out with my best friend of something. So truly, I have no regrets about the way our friendship ended. She used to call me once a week, usually a Tuesday (she liked a set schedule - another rapidly annoying habit), wanting to hang out. Then all of a sudden, she quit calling. So after a month of no word, I called, left a message. A couple of days later she called me back, we caught up, she said she'd call later in the week and we'd have dinner. She never did. At that point, I was feeling relieved not having to "be the bad guy". But her birthday arrived a few weeks later, and I felt obliged to drop off a present. (After all, I'd known her for 3 years, and began to hang out regularly for the last 2) We talked for about 2 minutes - both of us were on lunch breaks and didn't have time.

Not a word since. Not even a thank you for the gift. But again, I was relieved there was no weekly phone call and a feeling of obligation to hang out or be friends with this girl. A few months later, I shoot her an email. No response. So, I figured I made contact enough. Ball's in her court - if she wants to continue the friendship, fine, but as long I didn't really care for her company, I saw no need to attempt any more. That was about a year and a half ago and I have not seen or heard from her. I know I did nothing to hurt her, but if she felt I had hurt her in some way, I'd like to be told so I could make it right. Reconciliation is biblical and I have no fears of it. I would truly hate it if she felt I wronged her and I couldn't in some way make it right. But I can't do that if I don't know what hurt her. If anything even did. For all I know, she went through the same thought process as me and just decided she'd had enough.

If so, why the blatant ignoring? We were milling around the same area, so we crossed each other's paths 3 times. I just found it weird. Women are obsessive about their relationships, be it family, friends, guys, whatever. God made women relational creatures, it's part of our genetic make up. We can't get around it. But in this case? Why am I wasting my time? It's over, done with, I'm glad it's over and done with. Yet still I think "I wonder what I did to make her act this way?" I don't miss her, and when it became clear the friendship was ending, I did have to find new friends. Which was awesome, because now I have the most amazing group of people I hang out with and I couldn't ask for more.

I guess if I could choose, I'd rather be obsessive about scrapbooking instead of relationships. Minus the therapy bill, I would save thousands.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Hunger and Thirst

What I'm listening to: Jennifer Knapp's Wishing Well

Our physical bodies need things to survive - the air we breath, the food we eat, the water we drink. Without these things, our bodies deteriorate.

And what does our soul need to survive? Some say fellowship with other people, some say love. The soul can deteriorate like the body, but may take longer or may not be evident to the outside world as much.

I believe the God-shaped hole we are born is why our soul deteriorates - when it’s not filled the his nourishment, our soul can wither away.

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
-Psalm 63:1

Our bodies and souls long for our Creator, partially because he is our Creator, but also because this world is not our home. We are aliens is this world and are called to glorify him.

Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. -1 Peter 2: 1-12

Only Jesus has the ability to give us the water that lasts. But do I honestly hunger for him when I have everything I need? I have a place to live, food to eat, a family that loves me, a job to go to and money to pay bills. I have love in my life - so by America’s standards I have it all. So why is it that I long for more?

Because of that God-shaped hole. A hole that knows there is something better out there for me. A hole that knows I'm complete and incomplete all at once. He made me who I am and he loves me completely.

I spread out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
-Psalm 143:

I think to hunger and thirst for him, I must pursue. Not just feel. I must actively seek out a relationship with Christ. Not just in prayer, but in every day living and acting. In all the mundane activities of life where it doesn't seem important for let his love shine through you, but you must because you never know the when the moment will come when he can use you.

May I always seek what I hunger and thirst for - to make more of him and less of me.

May I understand that I'm made for more, but must be here.

May I know in my heart that God made me beautiful.

May I experience life the way it is meant to be experienced.

May my heart always be near his.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Fuzzy Slippers and Shakespeare

You know what I've decided? That purple fuzzy terry cloth slippers are a girl's best friend.

Yes, they cost me $2, and yes they are weird off-shade color of lavender, and no, they aren't very warm, but what is it about these slippers that has me so enamored? I mean, they probably won't last 6 months, they have no way of providing warmth for my chilly toes on this breezy fall evening, and yet, I'm oddly in love with these babies.

I made my way up to the storage area of my building about an hour ago, simply to see if I could find an empty box, and all the while thinking... I love these slippers.

Not that it's at all abnormal for me to form unnatural attachments to the inatimate objects in my life. It's really not. For example, I have this box in my kitchen cabinet (for lack of a better place to put it) with tons of bizarre things...but each one of them has a memory attached to it. And in this box is a mini-sized LifeSaver Candy pack. My friend Russ gave it to me on a truly horrendous day...he ran out of his way to catch up with me, and he told me I looked like I needed it. The LifeSaver pack of 4 tiny little candies will stay with me forever, because it reminds me of how one small gesture of kindness can make someone feel better - even if it's just for a moment, and that makes it totally worth going out of your way for. May I learn to live my life like that.

I have this sticker on my guitar case. I love this sticker. It's about an inch and 1/2 wide and 1/2 inch high, you can barely even see what's written on it. But this sticker comes with a serious sentimental attachment. It sums up everything I was experiencing when I was entering into a strange stage in my life - in many ways I was starting over, struggling through an obedience I was sure I would fail at, loosing my best friend, searching for something.... anything that could get me though the rough days. So it made sense to put this sticker on my guitar case, because I play when I need to connect with myself and God and I was playing so much at that time. (And I detest seeing a guitar case covered with stupid, cheesy stickers - I don't know, for some reason that bothers me to no end). But I did it for me. I averted thoughts of "what a cliche, to put a sticker on your case..." *roll eyes* and I adding it because every time I look at it, it reminds of that time, awful as it was, what I went through and how I came through it.

"Come what may,
time and the hour runs through the roughest day"(Macbeth 1:3)

So even though it's a sticker on my guitar case, the Shakespeare part makes it a little less cheesy. I know I probably won't form the same sentimental attachments to the lavender skippers as the LifeSavers or the sticker, but still. I love these things. They're so soft.