Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lego Thriller

Happy Halloween...

I have no idea how they got them to dance like that. But it's hilarous.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Little Reminders

Every guitar player has their favorite pick. Not one actual "pick" but the one brand, texture, and thickness you found that fits you. I am no different.

When I first began to play, I sought the advice of professionals at one of our local music stores. He directed me to a blue one (which I love, my favorite color) that was fairly thick. I can't recall the exact measurement of thickness, but it's a lot thicker than what I use now. The logo and words on it rubbed off after a few months or so, and once I'd moved past finger-picking to chords (which is completely backwords for worship leading, if you think about. But I never do anything the normal way) I needed something thinner. So I just grabbed different kinds and tested them. I eventually landed on the perfect pick for me. The only problem? It's pink.

I don't do pink.

Why am I writing about very uninteresting part of my life? Well, the other day I was searching through my purse and as I was digging at the very bottom I noticed one of my pink picks. And then a few days later I was getting change from my wallet and there was another pick.

So I started to notice my picks everywhere around me. The floor of living room, the bookshelf in my bedroom, on top of the CD player in the spare bedroom, in a drawer of my desk, a couple on my night stand, the back seat of my car, on a music stand at church, on the senior pastor's desk... they were everywhere. I even found one in my jewelry box.

And I realized after catching sight of that one pick at the bottom of my purse, that pick was a reminder of who I was: a guitar player. Something two years ago I wouldn't have guessed I would become. Then I thought to myself, "Why can't I have something like these picks that remind me of who I am in Christ? That reminds me of who I belong to? That reminds me who my Savior is?

The world has tried with tacky gold crosses to hang around our necks and from our ears. WWJD? bracelets, jesusfishes on the backs of cars. You can even buy little mints with bible verses on them, (what's that about? Testa-mint? Come on.) But none of that stuff really works. Because a symbol - when you think about it - means nothing. It's just a thing that represents something, but it's not actually anything at all.

So why do I feel like it would help me? Because when I see a pink guitar pick, I remember this part of my life I've been allowed to explore because of God's provision. Maybe it's sentimental, maybe it's because everything else in the world has a symbol or logo and I'm just used to it. But maybe if I had some little thing like a guitar pick I could sprinkle around my life that would remind me of God's love, it wouldn't be so hard to remember when I needed it the most.

"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:5-9

What I'm listening to: Billy Foote & Cindy Foote's Not A God

Friday, October 13, 2006

In Honor of Friday the 13th

I decided to watch one of my all-time favorite freaky movies - The Village. I will not spend the whole post waxing philosophical about the greatness that is M. Night Shyamalan. I'll let my friend Rocky do that for me here, here and here.

For me, pop culture is like dessert. I so look forward to it before it happens and after when I'm done I feel both satisfied and sick from the sugar. With certain entertainment venues, I pick apart the annoying unbelievably issues, continuity errors and character assassinations over and over. (Perhaps that's why so little of what's on TV right now interests me. Perhaps I'm secretly afraid I'll get an ulcer.) But with movies, I tend to simply let them wash over with with joy (unless they suck, that is.) The Village is no different. (not with the sucking, of course, but with the joy...)

So my desire to simply let movies wash over me is probably why I had no idea the surprise that appeared was once Ivy climbed over the wall. Call me gullible, but I really didn't know. I will admit I wasn't that surprised (enough hints were dropped that something was not right in Whoville) - but shocked? Abso-freakin-lutely.

But the plot twist really wasn't what I loved about this movie. What I loved was what it said about human nature - which is why I believe that M. Night is a genius. The idealistic and arrogant idea that we could begin again and have the environment be so controlled that violence would never be considered is so thoroughly, well, American. The premise that we could create a "perfect" world and still be fallen simply reinforces the free will God gave us. Being born into sin but raised without it does not assure utopia. It's sad, but precisely why Christ had to come.

That all said, I love the cinematography ; it manages to stay interesting and even pretty in a fairly plain location. The characters, some too underdeveloped, are still complicated and fascinating to me. The build-up of suspense is nearly pitch-perfect and I could care less that it’s so manufactured. (I have a dear old friend who despises that in movies while I simply relish in it.) And one moment in particular scared me more than I ever had been (but it’s pretty easy to scare me). And the piece de la resistance: Joaquin Phoenix.

Enough said. (Although I did fall asleep during Gladiator and I don’t think the guy I was with appreciated it. What? We’d been at a Husker game with very cold wind all day, and we’d just had hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps at Laslo‘s. I earned that nap.) But I digress…

Not my favorite M. Night movie. This one is. But it’s a solid second.

What I'm listening to: Don Chaffer's You Were at the Time for Love
What I'm reading: David Crowder's Praise Habit
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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The rest of my trip

My aunt and I spoke for quite a while more - an opportunity I'd been praying for since we decided to go on this trip together. Thankfully it was given to me: the chance to share with her God's never-ending love no matter the sin. The love that spurs me to gratefulness - away from sin not towards it. I shared with her from Galatians 3 "Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." I even told her about Martin Luther, the 95 Theses, the birth of the reformation and told her that reading Romans might help make sense of it all.

Most of the specifics are a blur, probably because I felt the Holy Spirit say the things God wanted her to hear.

The next morning I took a campus tour with a student at Covenant. She grew up in Nebraska (Ogallala to be exact), attended UNL then ended up there. After the tour, we went to Chapel, which was a really great service. The worship was Spirit-let, simply. The message was excellent, and the service even included a "testimony" of sorts from a Covenant graduate who shared about his experience in ministry since he finished his degree. Then on we went to a class on what else? "Communicating the Gospel".

The next hour I spent listening to a very gifted professor share about the importance of communicating God's love and grace, not just the good works mentioned in Scripture. For the next hour we looked through many passages of Scripture that list all the characteristics we are to strive for like this one, and this one, and this one (this last passage you may remember from this post). And these passages have a provision just before them: the provision of God's love.

He then shared a story about his daughter. She was taking a liquid medicine that was bright orange. He would give her Sprite after she took the medicine. On one particular day, he gave her the medicine, turned away from her to get the Sprite, watched her drink it and then sent her on h er way. He glanced down at the glass and saw that it was bright orange. She had clearly spit our her medicine in the glass.

He called her back into the kitchen and asked her if she drank her medicine. "Yes," she replied. "Then how did the glass get orange?" he asked. "I don't know," she said. "Alicia, " he said to her. "You are my daughter and I love you. But you cannot lie to me. What've you've done deserve a spanking." And the tears would come and he would repeat that over and over again.

He went on to share how when their children disobey or sin, both he and his wife always preface the statement of punishment with an "I love you." Many time, they kids just roll their eyes and shake their heads, for they've heard it all before. But have we? Have we really heard that despite our behavior God loves us anyway? My aunt didn't. So when my aunt asked me what the class was like, I was able to share with, yet again, there God loves us anyway. And that will never change. (Plus it made me feel little better knowing I had the words of a professor backing me up just in case she thought I was crazy or even stupid the previous night.)

I don't know if St. Paul or Covenant are either of the places for me. I do know that I’m not sure, so I will simply look a little harder at Liberty University in Virginia and Bethel in Minneapolis. We'll see.

What I'm listening to: Josh Radin's We Were Here

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Last week I traveled to Kansas City and then on to St. Louis to visit two very interesting and two very different seminaries.

Why seminary? Well, it happened sometime after this. I remember glancing through church job descriptions in order to make sense of this "thing" that was burning inside me, and I realized that every job that looked really great required a master's degree. So thus began the research.

St. Paul School of Theology intrigued me for two reasons: the urban setting and the diversity of the student body. Both were confirmed after my visit. The school itself is very nice - the campus is lovely and well-keep (and quite small), the buildings are beautiful, they have the very latest in technological equipment in each class room, yadda, yadda. That is all very nice. But what I really loved was the dynamic range of ethnicity, age and background of the students on campus.

I had lunch with two really great people - Laura and Joel. Current students both extremely involved on campus and in an active ministry setting. They were sweet, honest, wonderful people who asked me the right questions to help me figure all this out. I really appreciated their insight. Never once did I feel like I was being sold the product of a seminary education. Both these students seemed honestly interested in finding out who I was, what I wanted and whether St. Paul was the right place for me.

Two things I didn't expect? Being told my graphic design experience would be a huge help in ministry and finding out that a good chunk of their students commute from Nebraska, and stay on campus M-Th and remain in ministry at their home churches.

Down to St. Louis. Man, is everyone nice down there. Must be a little of that southern hospitality I hear so much about, because seriously, sweetness all around. The lady at the hotel desk was adorable, our waitress at Bristol's Seafood Grill... just, everyone. So sweet.

I attended a class on Job Thursday night with a student in her first year of the Master's of Counseling program. We'd spoken several times on the phone and I was looking forward to meeting her. The class was excellent - about 60 other students absolutely full of experience with suffering.

Thankfully, this class lead to the best part of my trip - the conversation I had with my aunt at Starbuck's afterwards. (Yeah, yeah, I know, Starbuck's...just go with it.)

We began talking about her son, whom she recently discovered didn't believe in God. J.D is a 27 yr. old civil engineer in Lincoln, and just like his siblings, did not grow up in the church. Why? I can really only speculate on this. (Even when asked directly, my aunt and uncle talk around the issue.) My best attempt at connecting the dots is that when my aunt and uncle divorced after one child and a few years of marriage, my uncle lost his faith. For what reason, I don't know. My mother thinks it's somehow related to the divorce combined with his time in the military.

They reunited after a year or so apart, remarried and had three more children. Both my aunt and uncle grew up Luthern, but never attended church regularly as adults and subsequently did not raise their kids in the church. (The children, however, were all baptized as babies. What can I say? They were Lutheren.)

With all this background to consider, I was very curious to hear what my aunt had to say on the topic of Job and suffering. It's universal to everyone, whether you are spiritual or not. So the class I attended combined with her recent knowledge of her son's lack of a belief in God made for an interesting night.

I was able to share the gospel with my aunt for the first time. The real gospel. Not the one she heard as a child - the one that made her believe that unless she was a good person, God would punish her. The "gospel" that made her scared to mess up, the "gospel" that held her in chains for years. I shared with her the gospel of grace and forgiveness.

At one point, she asked me after I spoke of Jesus' perfect sacrifice in place of the old covenant sacrifice, "What is there to keep me from going on sinning, then?" And I was able to joyously declare "Nothing!"

What is wrong with the teaching the church that my aunt, who for nearly 60 years believed she was a Christian because she believe in God and tried to be a good person? Not that I'm surprised, I just hate having to hear this story from so many over and over again.

This doesn't even begin to cover all that happened over the next 24 hours - or even the rest of the conversation. Alas, I am beginning to fade. I will share more later.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I think it might be...

...a step in the right direction.

Pope Benedict XVI is expected to cast aside the concept of limbo..

Maybe those old Catholics can change after all. :)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me

Today, I am offically one year old on blogspot.com.

I look back over the last year and I feel as though I've come full circle. Let me explain...

A few months ago a young girl from my congregation approached me and asked me to mentor her. She is 19 and chose not to go to college after she graduated. She is currently teaching dance at a local studio and trying so hard to figure out how to be happy. She and I are reading Captivating by Staci and John Eldridge and today I was typing up the question on the chapter 6 "Healing the Wound", remembering what I went through about a year ago on the subject of restoration. I am now realizing just how much healing God gave me in the last twelve months.

I am not brand new. I am mended. And I think that's much better. Never thought I'd say that, but I am. I am mended - tattered and torn. But like the velveteen rabbit, I was made real by love. Not perfect, but real nonetheless.

How could I ask for more?

A list of my favorite posts coming up (and reflections on my trips to two seminaries)... but for now I'm all verklempt.

What I'm Reading: The Leadership Baton by Rowland Forman,Jeff Jones, & Bruce Miller

What I'm listening to: Kate Havnevik's Melankton

Monday, October 02, 2006

Has Blogger gone Mac only?

My page looks like crap from a PC. The type is too large and for some reason the bottom half shows all the text being centered.

Per usual, it looks fine on a Mac.

I've seen some other blogger pages and they also seems to be acting weird.

Has blogger gone Mac only? Please say it's true.