Thursday, August 31, 2006

Autumn is Coming

I can smell it. Cool, fresh, tingly, wheaty. Fall is coming. Chasing after the warm sun on the horizon as each day is shoter and shorter as the year approaches a close. I smell the silage being cut, the ground staying moist, the pollen shedding, the impending harvest of corn. The blessing of rain in the last few weeks served to make my sense more aware. Fall is coming.

As the earth dies I am not only reminded of the beauty thats found in death, but of the promise of life given in the spring. The brillent reds, yellows, oranges, browns explode across the landscape in my vision and once again I am reminded of God's creativity. Of his love for the land, for us. For what other reason would he want to show us those colors, that beauty? To remind us that with every death there can be new life. And we must find the beauty in both.
When I'm cold and alone
All I want is my freedom and a sudden gust of gravity
I stop wailing and kickingJust to let this water cover me, cover me
Only if I rest my arms, rest my mind,
You'll overcome me and swell up around me.
With my fighting so vain,With my vanity so fought, I'm rolling over
'Cause in just the same way
That the stream becomes swollen,
Swollen with cold up over the ground,
When my heart draws close to the close of Autumn

What I'm listening to: Caedmon's Call -
Just Don't Want Coffee Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Victor Wooten "Amazing Grace"

Victor Wooten

If you aren't in tears by the end of this video, be afraid... you might not have a soul. *sniffle*

Of Selfishness and Wine-Tasting

I spent the evening with two co-workers tonight. We brought wine, talked and watched a stupid movie (I won't embarrass myself by saying what it was. I've already embarrassed myself enough today.) And for some reason, when I arrived home I started to think about selfishness.

The wine we had wasn't very good. Shame. I had high hopes, but I'm such a wine-snob that at times it's hard to please me. Am I that way in the rest of my life? Probably.

My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away.

-Psalm 38:11

Am I so wounded that people stay away? Is it selfish of me to ask them to stay?

Whenever I asked myself these questions, I try to ask myself if I had a friend who acted like I do, would I stay?
Fight or flight? Would it be worth it? (That alone is a selfish question.)

It is hard to please me. And the selfishness in me simply asks, "So? Why is that so bad?" I hold myself to a high standard, why is it so bad to do the same for others? If I taste too much oak in a wine, I put the glass down and make a mental note to not buy it again. I guess I can't exactly do that with people, can I? I think some people do - they weigh the pros and cons to see if the benefits of the relationship will outweigh the work it takes to put into it. Is that okay to do? It doesn't feel like it. But can we live purely selfless lives? I believe
she did. Is it something innate in us - like a moral sense of right and wrong can be? Is it something to be cultivated and, after years and years of pruning, can only then be achieved?

In my journey to restoration, selflessness hasn't reached me yet. In fact, when others behave with disregard to those around them, I self-righteously say "How can they be that selfish?" That sin continues to punch holes through my spirit and I fear I may never be made whole. Because, as always, "Be perfect, therefore as I am perfect..." will forever be my Everest. (Thanks to a conversation I had in the restroom of the Estes Park Community Church the summer of 1995. Yes, I mean you, Angela.)

What I'm listening to: Grant Lee Phillips' Virginia Creeper

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Double Hee

I'm slightly amused that I actually get this pop culture reference. It makes me feel really, really old. If memory serves this line is from a TV show that takes me back to my high school days and the episode somehow involved brightly-colored spandex body suits.

Tiffany Amber-Theisen, eat your heart out. I bet none of your lines ended up on a T-Shirt I just paid $22 for.

This is just all kinds of embarrassing.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Boundaries - Part 1

In an effort to curb sexual temptation among the staff at Saddleback and other churches, Rick Warren established 15 rules for Saddleback staff standards in order to maintain moral integrity:

- Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex.*

- Thou shalt not have the opposite sex pick you up or drive you places when it is just the two of you.*

- Thou shalt not kiss any attender of the opposite sex or show affection that could be questioned.*

- Thou shalt not visit the opposite sex alone at home.

- Thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex alone at the office, and thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex more than once without that person’s mate. Refer them.

- Thou shalt not discuss detailed sexual problems with the opposite sex in counseling. Refer them.

- Thou shalt not discuss your marriage problems with an attender of the opposite sex.

- Thou shalt be careful in answering emails, instant messages, chatrooms, cards, or letters from the opposite sex.

- Thou shalt make your secretary your protective ally.

- Thou shalt pray for the integrity of other staff members.

* The first three do not apply to unmarried staff

You can read the rest of the article here.

My first reaction was just to shake my head and ask myself, "Isn't this a little extreme? Creating man-made rules that could possibly interfere with a fruitful ministry to one another?"

I recently went to visit a church that has a Saturday night service - an old friend from high school leads worship there and I'd heard good things about the pastor. So I went with a friend of mine and during the service, a couple pledged membership to the church. They took vows, much like an oath of office, actually, and one oath very pointedly said that they vowed to remain free of lust.

My friend turned at that moment and had a look of disbelief and almost shock on her face. I will admit that among all the other oaths, it did seem slightly out of place. After all, there wasn't an oath about not murdering people and the like. But while my friend thought it was completely inappropriate, I didn't really have a problem with it. I asked myself, What's wrong with holding yourself up to a high moral standard?

Perhaps the 15 rules set by Saddleback really is about removing temptation from the staff, and if so, you got to do what you got to do. If it's needed for their church, I'm glad something's being done. My main concern is that this list is somehow about what people's perception may be about the interactions mentioned in this list. (More on this will be addressed in an upcoming post.)

I've sat in my pastor's office after rehearsal many times. Sometimes we talk about ministry, sometimes we talk about worship, sometimes we talk about the state of the church, sometimes we tell each other stories, many times we pray together and for each other. I love and appreciate those times. They are a building blocks for the good working relationship a worship leader and a senior pastor need to have. But I have no doubt these times might stop if anyone mentioned they saw us there late at night when no one else was around. To be frank: that sucks.

But many great women and men stumble without intending to fall. Boundaries are good for our fallen state of being. I'd rather have a boundary - like the electric fence my dad put up around the cornfield in our backyard that kept me from going to the other side just so I could pet the cows. I needed that to stop me. Maybe we all do.


Dan "Southpaw" Smith's parody of "Baby Got Back".

This made my day. So funny.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. (Eleanor Roosevelt)

I'm not courageous. Not that I'd ever considered myself such. I hadn't. I hadn't thought much at all about what the definition of that word really means. And day after day I see courage in people. In my family, friends, on TV shows with contrived plot points, on reality shows - it's all around me. And I realized today that I don't have it. I can be brave with God, but I'm sure of him. But He is the one constant, so that isn't really brave, is it? I've never had to be brave. I've always had a safety net - a family to support whatever decision I made, failure or success, and even more than that, to pick me up when I fall. So that begs the question: will I have the courage to step out when no one is there? I have no idea.

To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself. (Soren Kierkegaard)

What kind of person have I become without this courage? I honestly am not sure. Introspection is such an exhausting task, yet I don't feel as though I can identify what I want to change and try to fix it without this exhaustive process. As frustrating as it is, I do believe it's an important part of the

He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy. Others went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters. They saw the works of the LORD, his wonderful deeds in the deep. For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits' end. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. (Psalm 107: 20-29)

This thing about courage is that is doesn't have to be this huge, life-altering effort you take a deep breath and jump into. Courage takes place in some everyday moments. If I sit down with my bible, there's courage in that. Courage to learn something I didn't previously know, courage that God may reveal something to me I don't want to hear. There is courage in following God's will for your life, especially when that will takes you into the unknown.

There is no real security in what is no longer meaningful.
(Alan Cohen)

To live life without the courage to change, move forward, to stretch yourself, is to live a life incompletely. There is little meaning in a life lived only on a plateau? Is there security in living life with courage? Yes. There is security in knowing that even if you failed, at least you tried.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Book Knowledge

1. One book that changed your life:
Most recently, Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge

2. One book you’ve read more than once:
Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: (note: not the ONLY book)
How to Survive on a Desert Island Without Really Trying

4. One book that made you laugh:
Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophia Kinsella. One of the funniest books I've ever read.

5. One book that made you cry:
Abba's Child by Brennan Manning

6. One book that you wish had been written:
I think every topic has pretty much been covered ad nauseam, don't you?

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
Conversations with God

8. One book you’re currently reading:
Hunger for God by John Piper

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Everyone says it's great, I know a few who hate it. I just haven't gotten around to it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


"You can't chase a runner."

My pastor and I were talking last night after rehearsal and that came out of his mouth. I'm still thinking about 24 hours later. It's the first time I"ve heard it worded quite that succinctly. And a concept so complicated? Maybe shouldn't be worded so simply.

Am I a runner? Most women will admit that in the romance area, they want to be chased. But I'm not talking about the romance area. I'm talking about running from things that scare you. Running from things that hurt. Running from what might hurt.

Is it really easier?

Doesn't seem like it. With no running comes no brooding, no angst, no "what if" no "maybe someday". But staying, dealing and moving on sounds so... healthy. Sometimes I wonder if fear is a way of telling us we aren't ready.

Don't we all, at some point or another, want to be chased... to know that we are wanted and sought after? Does wanting that make it okay? Or is it just a stupid little game we play to see how far the other will chase until theey get tired and have to stop? (For some reason I'm sensing a metphor or possible joke connecting this with the tortoise and the hare, but my brain just can't get there right now).

I can't help but wonder if part of the appeal of running isn't about keeping the possibility of something else happening alive. As much as you run away from something you don't want to face, you are also running towards the hope it will work itself out. Or running towards the answer you want but are worried you won't get, which is why you are running in the first place.

What I'm listening to: Imogen Heap's Speak for Yourself

Sunday, August 06, 2006


I need to know why things are the way they are between us.

This awkwardness. This indifference. This avoidance. This pretending nothing happened. Making sure none of our friends know the awfulness that lies between us, unspoken but all said in looks across the room that only we understand.

Maybe if I knew the reason I freeze when you are around, maybe if I understood why the very sight of you freaks me out, maybe if I knew why I pretended too, maybe, maybe, maybe. Maybe if I understood why we fell apart in the first place I could understand why I feel the way the I do when you are near.

If I could take it all back, would I? The experience of being with you, with knowing you, with understanding you. With getting you. And you getting me. You know how long it's been since I met someone who gets me like you did? Would I take it back if given the option?

My God, I think I would.

Because if you were never there, if I didn't know the sight of breath mints freaks you out, if I didn't know you hate to give hugs but did just for me, if I didn't know the sound of the laugh you bring out when you don't know what else to say, if I didn't know how good your lasagna tastes, if I didn't know what watching The Passion of the Christ did to you, if I didn't have to watch you cry when your mother died, if I didn't know your stubborn streak, or your inability to drink non-organic milk or give a thoughtful gift - if I didn't know all this I wouldn't remember what it was like to have you as a friend. And miss it. I would be able to say that my heart was better for knowing you rather than worse for loosing you.

What I'm listening to: Comfortable by John Mayer
What I�m reading: Why Girls are Weird by Pamela Ribon

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I went to see The Devil Wears Prada a couple of weeks ago. (loved the movie, the book was better) and one of the trailers before it was for for the upcoming movie World Trade Center.

The tagline: The World Saw Evil That Day - Two Men Saw Something Else

I admit it. I couldn't get through the trailer without crying. In fact, I began almost immediately once I realized what the movie was about. The first thing that flew out of my mouth to my friend next to me was "I think it's too soon." Between her sniffles I heard, "Me, too."

It was five years ago and what was it about that day that still brings up a geyser of emotions? The fact that we are still fighting this battle and havn't won? That fact that we have to fight at all? I can wax myself patriotic all I want but the fact is I am pissed off that America made a mess out of another mess. But that's a post for another time.

I'm excited to see Michael Pena on screen again. I love him in Crash and I hoep to see a long career of his in years to come. I question the strange casting of Nicholas Cage in the lead role, but even more than that, I was completely surprised by whose film this is: Oliver Stone's.

Oliver Stone? The man who gave us Natural Born Killers - one of the worst pieces of cinematic disasters even commited to film? Attacking this subject? And making money off it? Considering his complete body of work, this subject is right up his ally. Although I question it, I won't write him off just yet. However, I'm not sure I can go see this movie.

I remember being at work and only able to hear things on the radio. Then I remember going home and being unable to turn the TV off. I wanted to know what happened. I wasnted to know who did this and why. I wanted to know what it felt like to be there. I worried about the friends I had that lived in NY. I was sad.

I was in D.C. about six weeks after the attacks. I was scheduled well before the events of 9/11 to work at a conference for the company I worked for in the downtown DC area. The conference was not cancelled, and if memory serves flight has only been up and going for a couple of weeks. Everyone was on edge. No one complained about the long line, the extensive "pat-downs", and everyone's eyes darted in each direction. I was asked to drink from a fountain pop I'd purchased the second time I went through the metal detector to get to my gate. I'd taken many trips for work before. This was certainly the most memorable.

We took the subway to see the pentagon and I got a whole new glimpse into what the tiny images on TV, that up until then had only made me sad. Being there made me angry. Up on the hill by the highway that run next to this huge octogon-shaped building, all I could do was call my dad. I told him what it was like to be there. I told him about the photos and art and flags and ribbon that surrounded the tree up on that hill. But I couldn't even describe the damage I saw. There were really no words.

I still have few words I could even express about that day. Sometimes our lives are too full of words, you know?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Now I know why no one understands me.


It can't be good when you are lumped into a group of people that includes Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hannibal Lector, can it?

(C.S. Lewis is also on the list which makes me feel better. I guess that explains why I've always feel like he was a kindred spirit.)

Here's another interesting assessment about INTJs.

Dominant Introverted Intuition

By Danielle Poirier
© copyright Rebel Eagle Production

Without introverted intuitives, it is said that Israel would have had no prophets. Under deceptively conventional appearances lie perceptive minds that travel the breadth and depth of universal mysteries, contemplating its multilayered complexity, seeking the trends that will define the future. With time, clarity of vision comes. When it comes, they are propelled towards the vision and all their actions lead to it. They are perseverant behind a quiet exterior and will often come back with their vision long after everyone believes they have let it go.

What they see is so clear and obvious to them they are often surprised to find that others cannot see it as well. They may find it difficult to articulate the necessary steps towards implementation or to explain how each goal fits into the larger picture.

Their mind usually travels from the past to the future, seeking to fit a particular situation in a large context. It picks up patterns, symbols and images from different seemingly unrelated fields, identifies similarities and provides meaning. This can help solve problems by juxtaposing ideas, finding analogies or simply by rooting out the quintessential reality, discovering the origin in universal stories and human experiences, culling wisdom from the infinitely small to the infinitely large. Their mind naturally travels from the microcosm to the macrocosm.

Spooky. Fits me to a T.