Monday, December 31, 2007

Pop Culture Quote Monday

This one comes with a visual hint!




We have a piper down, I repeat, a piper is down!

2007 - a look back

What I learned in 2007... HT to Barbara for the idea.

I learned that God can change me, even when I least expect it.

I learned that forgiveness isn't about excusing the sin, it's about saying the sin mattered, it hurt, and that I have to move on for my own mental health.

I learned that courage is directly tied to faith. (I really already knew this, but I learned to look at it in a different way.)

I learned how much I missed my friends from college once I joined facebook and they all came out of the woodwork.

I learned I'm way more liberal (politically) than I originally thought I was.

I learned that ice storms are particularly scary.

I learned that Iron Chef America is the single most delightfully ridiculous 1 hour on television.

I learned that ministry is something I not only enjoy, but need to have in my life.

I learned, most of all, the importance of our connection to one another.

Best Posts of 2007

I'm doing a twist on my "best of list" this year. No more pop culture lists - just a ego post. Some are my favorites, some get a lot of hits off google, some are just good lessons God taught me.

I started the year out with two heavy-hitting posts:
Top Ten Myths about Christians - Part 1
Top Ten Myths about Christians - Part 2
I loved writing these two posts.

The Death of Good Coffee I get tons of google hits off this one.

I Almost Ran Over Derek Webb One of my favorite memories of the year, and another post from which many, many google hits come.

The Dichotomy of Country Music By far my most popular post of the year. The Tick Song was huge on country radio this year (I think it even won a CMA) and rarely does a day goes by where I don't get a hit on this post. Google "tick song country" and I come up third. Unbelievable.

Wounds Not an easy post for me to write. But I'm glad I did.


Small Victories
The best moment of 2007 for me (except for when I found out the size of the scholarship Covenant gave me.)


And most recently, Growth , for which I still have some pondering to do.

Hucka-wha?




Huckabee's Remarkable Play

My cousin over at confession of a slacker mom made her decision a while back to support Huckabee in the coming election, and I had the chance to hear her reasons why over drinks at Christmas time. (The only time I stand to talk politics. The drinks part, not the Christmas part.) I still haven't made my choice yet, but I found this turn of events rather interesting.

Brilliant play or strategic political savvy? I'm leaning towards the latter - maybe I'm just too cynical to believe he really had a change of heart.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Theological Worldview









What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Emergent/Postmodern

You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.


Emergent/Postmodern



86%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan



75%

Neo orthodox



71%

Classical Liberal



50%

Modern Liberal



39%

Charismatic/Pentecostal



36%

Fundamentalist



32%

Reformed Evangelical



25%

Roman Catholic



25%

The only thing I disagree with here is where is says I don't think older churches connect with modern churches very well. While I do feel alienated from the older generation at times, I believe in the older church's importance in the church culture. We have much to learn from them and too many people in my generation brush them aside as if they do not matter. But they do.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Underrported Humanitian Stories

Doctors without Borders listed their top 10 underreported humanitarian stories of 2007. (Below is a picture in Somalia, where the civil war there has left many without food, water and medical treatment.)


Read the rest here.

HT to Ariah, who also has a great post about global warming today.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Confession


I'm a total geek, I must confess.

I was baking Christmas cookies at a friends house and he had a mixed CD of Josh Groban Christmas songs playing. "O Holy Night", the best traditional Christmas song ever written in my opinion, was on the CD.

And it made me cry. I'm such a geek. I actually like a Josh Groban song. I just can't blame it on hormones or sugar or anything else in that realm. I just liked it.

Let the heckling commence.

(I will put "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" right up there on my list of best traditional Christmas songs. I am a sucker for Longfellow.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bad Nativites

I think every year for the last few years someone reminds me of this website: Cavalcade of Bad Nativities. It is truly the best of the tacky...which is why I love it.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Yee-Haw!




The Alien Angels


Look out, I gonna jump!



And my ultimate favorite:

Woo-Hoo! Rock on! I think I won something!



Hee.

Pop Culture Quote Monday

If I live to be 100, I'll never forget that big snow storm a couple of years ago. The weather closed in and, well you might not believe it, but the world almost missed Christmas. Oh, excuse me, call me Sam. What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen a talking snowman before?

What movie is it from and who plays Sam the Snowman?

Friday, December 14, 2007

OK Go - Here It Goes Again

Hee!

O Christmas Tree



This is the first year I put up my Christmas tree since my grandmother died. Every year for 10 or so years, she gave each grandkid an ornament for Christmas. They were never my style, but I kept them, for a tradition like that is to be cherished. So when I put my tree up last week a mix of sentiment and sadness came over me as I carefully unwrapped each shiny glass ornament she gave me, that clash with all my other ornaments. But I don't care. I love Christmas trees... I love the memories attached to ornaments... I love what it all represents. I'm a total sap, I'm a total romantic. I make no apologies.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Growth

Growing up is a funny thing. I remember my mom lecturing me as a teenager when I would complain "life is hard". "Compared to what?" she'd ask. Then there was "your brother will grow out of this need to torture you" or my personal favorite, "you'll understand when you're older".

(My brothers and I are close now, but we hated each other when we were kids. "Hate" is a pretty strong word, I guess, but it is an accurate description of my feelings at the time, though God knows I didn't really mean it.)

Growing up into adulthood isn't all that different from growing spiritually. You go into it all giddy, thinking you are prepared for it. (i.e. ooo! my first credit card!) Then when when it "growing" and "stretching" happens, you start squirm a little, wishing things were the way they used to be. (you mean I have to pay this bill?) And ultimately, we can look back and see the lesson learned, why it happened, and how we are better for it.

But here's the thing I've wondered about spiritual growth: how can we be sure we've grown or if maybe we've just gotten more intelligent about spiritual things? I can read book and after book, consult scripture, spend time in prayer and ultimately come out thinking "I'm good. I know what I'm talking about". I can put a name on my struggle, I can maybe even find the root of it, and then once again be at the foot of the cross asking for forgiveness. Then I just can't help but ask myself, "Have I really grown? I'm right back where I started."

My friend Landon recently said "I've always found the naming to be the most powerful piece of growth for me. Once I name it, it has no control over me. Now that I've named that a piece of me is scared, I'm no longer subconsciously controlled by that." I've never been able to articulate that about myself, but I find it's absolutely true for me as well... just as there is power in finding the root or reason for the struggle, there is power in looking back and seeing a lesson learned. But if it happens again and again, do I just "know" more about the struggle and more about myself?

Sometimes it feels as though I am cloaking my so-called growth in knowledge, that I am masking it all with "the smarts". (This is feeling very Romans 7-like to me.)

Something to think about, anyway.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pop Culture Quote Monday

Happy birthday, Jesus - sorry your party's so lame.


I am attending the office Christmas party tonight, so I had to do it.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

To Be a Child...



This little boy is from Nebraska, and he called into a radio show in Houston to share this story.

It's sweet and wonderful. It's even a little cheesy, but sometimes we can all use a little cheese.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Redemption Has Stories to Tell


Me and the trees, losing our leaves
Falling like blood on the ground
I want to be evergreen
Everything dies, I know last night
Part of me wasn't around
I want to be evergreen
Yeah, evergreen...

Waiting, and listening
Hoping and missing all of our time left alone
I'm the one cutting the rope
Frostbite in winter, 'cause like a splinter you come and follow me down
I'm the one cutting the rope

Holiday end, I'm here once again, and I'm left alone on the bus with my
head on the ground, in hopes that I'm found by you
this time around

The sun will rise soon and tackle the moon
Chasing it still in the sky
All that I've got is tonight
Excuses and reasons, and now tis the season
For all that I never got right
All that I've got is tonight

Holiday end, I'm here once again, and I'm left alone on the bus with my
head on the ground, in hopes that I'm found by you
this time around

The night is a crow, saying come hold me
All that I know is that I've been lonely for thee
All that I knew and all that I know, I found myself under your rain
I want to be evergreen
I want to be evergreen

Holiday end, I'm here once again, and I'm left alone on the bus with my
head on the ground, in hopes that I'm found by you
this time around
I want to be evergreen..

I want to live all year round
- "Evergreen" Switchfoot

For the past ten years, a strange little group out of the California surfer scene has been in my life. I found them by accident, one day wandering into an equally strange little music store in Colorado Springs. The owner shoved "The Legend of Chin" into my hands and I was hooked. Their music is weird, strong and wonderful, the lyrics poetic and insightful and dead on. They went mainstream two years ago and what I like seeing is a constant progression instead of just churning out the same old stuff.

Now that I'm down waxing philosophical on music, I wanted to share these lyrics of their with you - it's a rare song from them, on the first volume of the Happy Christmas albums from Tooth and Nail records. It's classic Switchfoot - thoughtful lyrics with a great bass line. And it's yet another song of theirs that's affected my heart in an unexpected way. (24, Dare You to Move, This is Your Life, and Awakening are on that list.)

Evergreen trees are amazing creations. It seems no amount of hot or cold kills them and they remain green all year along. The definition of an evergreen according to Answers.com? "Perennially fresh or interesting; enduring."

I want to be evergreen.

I don't feel fresh and interesting. I want more than anything to be enduring. But above all that, I want to live all year long. Not just exist. Not just go through the motions. I want to live out the passion that burns deep within my heart. The passion that comes with living out a purpose and being someone who matters. It's been a common theme for the last few years of my life - this idea of inspiring others and myself to "be the change they seek" (to paraphrase Ghandi).

This December night, with snow on the ground and a chill in the air, I find myself not wanting to lose my leaves, not wanting to follow the earth's movement into the death of winter. Instead I long to awaken the parts of me I've allowed to die and rediscover life.

I'm afraid it's been too long to try to find the reasons why / I let my world close in around a smaller patch of fading sky / But now I've grown beyond the walls to where I've never been / And it's still winter in my wonderland

Monday, December 03, 2007

Pop Culture Quote Monday

I'm sad no one got either of these... The first one is from the movie Elf. If you haven't seen it, drop what you are doing and rent it. Now. Or call me and I'll mail you my copy. Yes, it's that good. It has Zooey Deschanel, and almost everything she's in is awesome. Plus, it's directed by Jon Favreau. Really? How can you go wrong?

And the second is an absolute CLASSIC. John Cusack to Jeremy Piven in Say Anything.
______________________________________________________________

"I'm sorry I ruined your lives, and crammed eleven cookies into the VCR."

From one of the greatest Christmas movies ever.

And I have to give you a second one.

"YOU MUST CHILL!! YOU MUST CHILL!!!"

Friday, November 30, 2007

"What to Expect?" - some answers.



Courtesy of Tony over at don't call me veronica, I found this interesting post:

What to Expect?


Intrigued by his questions, I thought I'd make a post of it and see what came out.

The questions I have for you seasoned and experienced (or fresh out of the box)church workers are:

what am I getting myself into?
what makes ministry worth it?
should I EXPECT junk or take it as it comes?


I've been a church worker for nine years, seven 1/2 as a [paid] part-time employee. There's are some things in the inner workings of the church I'm not privy to because I'm only a part-timer, but I know more than many because of my working relationship with the senior pastor. I'm sure he says things to me he wouldn't say to others, because he trusts me - and the same goes for me trusting him. I'm lucky to have the relationship with him I do. So many church workers don't and I realize what a huge blessing that is.

So, on with the questions.

What are you getting yourself into?

Something entirely inexplainable. It's messy, it's wonderful, it's frustrating and it's rewarding. You are getting yourself into a lifestyle, not a job. It's an experience that opens old wounds and creates new ones. Being in ministry means being willing and able to constantly self-evaluate and to admit when you're wrong (and be prepared for the several people who will tell you that you're wrong, even if you're right.) It's a life that requires a strange disconnect with the people you minister to, and that also requires a deep, intimate connection with them you won't find anywhere else.* It's a paradox in more ways than one.


What makes ministry worth it?


1.) Knowing you are answering a call. A life of ministry in the church (or the mission field) is a life you should not enter into lightly. You must be called... or you will burn out and burn out fast. In fact, you'll probably still burn out. But being sure of your call is what makes you push past that. (At least it has been for me.) I've been the worship director at my church for all those years and I have not had one break from it. There were times I felt like quiting, but because I was called, God gave me the strength I needed to NOT quit. I know it would be much easier to quit, but answering his call is more important to me. I knew I was called to a certain church for a specific reason. I've never doubted the call (only my ability) and when the going gets rough it can end up being the only thing you have to fall back upon.

2.) The second reason that makes ministry worth it is when it works... especially when you get to see the fruit of that labor. Sometimes it's the smallest thing you do that makes a huge impact. And sometimes the biggest thing goes completely unnoticed. But when that 60 year old congregation member who was completely against change comes up to you after you lead a contemporary worship song and they say, "I saw my sin in a new way today because of that song. I saw God in a new way. Thank you for helping facilitate that." - what can be said? It's so humbling that something as simple as listening to God's nudge on what songs to lead that week can actually help God change a heart. I really don't think there is anything more rewarding.

Expect junk. You'll get it. The junk that comes with ministry is the junk you'd get just about anywhere else. What is all comes down to is our sinful nature and the journey to overcome it. It's just harder to take in a ministry setting over a regular job because you might think that being a Christ-follower means we're all "above" that junk, but we're not. But wading through that junk, whether it's cleaning up your own and helping someone else clean up, is a really astounding experience.

We are called be his hands and his feet. I often think of Rainer Maria Rilke's words in Letters to a Young Poet when it comes to this vocation:

"There is only one way: Go within. Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you to write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of the night, ask yourself this: Must I write? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring its assent, if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple I must, then build your life upon it. It has become your necessity. Your life, in even the most mundane and least significant hour, must be a sign, a testimony to this urge."

I've barely skimmed the surface of my feelings and experiences about ministry. But this is not a bad start, I guess.

...please forgive any incoherent sentences or typos. It is late and I do not know why I'm still awake...

[*I might need to explain further. If so, let me know and I will post on this topic. It's not an easy one, but one I wish someone had told me when I first started.]

Thursday, November 29, 2007

O Come All Ye Twisted?



I'm holding my sides in laughter, trying not to fall off my chair.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pop Culture Quote Monday

Where the lights from the Christmas tree blow up the telly
His face closes in like an old pork chop

Good luck. This one isn't easy.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pop Culture Quote Monday



I can't believe my grandmother actually felt me up.


I had to do it. Sooner or later. One of the funniest and most uncomfortable moments in movie history.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

It's Christmas Time



Tonight was my first foray into Christmas shopping for the season. My friend Angie and I made plans to have a girls night out and braved the mall scene.

I rarely go to to mall here in town. Not because it doesn't have a lot of options, but because I prefer to shop at local places or smaller specialty stores. Much to my surprise and delight, Grow Nebraska is now renting space at the mall. Their mission "is to maximize the state’s entrepreneurial and small business spirit. " I have a few friends who are part of Grow Nebraska, and have nothing but the highest of compliments about how it's helped them in their business.

Angie was looking for a couple of things - a $10 gender-neutral grab bag gift (They are celebrating at Thanksgiving this year, so she's starting early) and a gift for her grandmother, a woman she describes as "having everything". I struggle with gifts like these, so I wasn't much help to her. A $10 gender neutral gift isn't easy to find no matter who you are, but especially for Angie and I, because we are both believers in the practical side of gift giving. We were both excited at the thought of finding something at Grow Nebraska, because even if the gift is a "throw-away" kind of gift, at least you are supporting a local business man or woman.

Some people might consider my attitude "hippie-like", but I don't have a problem with gift-giving at Christmas time. I don't think it's un-Christ-like, I don't think God's against it. In fact, he probably supports it. After all, he gave his own son as a gift to us at Christmas time. And if it takes a national holiday to get people to be generous one day out of the year, maybe it will lead to generosity one week, one-month, or every day of the year. (In fact, the Christmas program I'm directing at church this year as a sketch that illustrates this very point.) So I'm not against gifts; they are a wonderful things. I just happened to believe giving gifts that are special and unique for the person, or in practical gifts that one can use, because honestly? I already have enough "stuff" around me.

Check to see if your state has a program like Grow Nebraska to help support local commerce. Or look for a 10,000 Villages store in your area. They are a fair-trade store working with artisans all over the world. Their retail employees all work on a volunteer basis in order to keep overhead costs down, so they can provide a fair trade with the artists they work with. I've found many wonderful and unique gifts there. Their products are well-priced, and they have a great selection. There isn't a room in my house that does have something from that store in it -it's all very cool stuff.

Call me a hippie. I'd rather be that than a yuppie.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Small Glimpse

Tonight I got a small glimpse into my life if am able to go into full-time ministry. And it was good.

Wednesday has been church night for me for as long as I can remember. AWANA, youth group, praise team rehearsals, you name it I've done it. Tonight I was there for three reasons: the typical - praise team rehearsal. We meet at 8:15 once youth group is over because our drummer is still in high school. I was also there because the AWANA commander asked if I would lead "counsel time" tonight, which is a short 10 minutes lesson for the kids. Then I was working with some high school students on a sketch they are doing (see the bottom video on my side bar - we are re-creating that).

Counsel time was fun. I did a simple lesson about God's word being a lamp unto our feet and a light until our path by cutting stones out of paper and making a pathway. I talked about how we don't always know which stones to step on because they can be wet and slippery. Then we turned the lights out to demonstrate how walking in the dark is unsafe. Then I turned on a flash light and had some of the kids turn the stones over to see words I wrote on the back like "love" "hate" "joy" "cheating" "patience" "selfishness" "giving" etc. It illustrated that the light of God's word shows us which path to take. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. -Psalm 119:105. It was simple, yet I had such a good time with it.

But the kicker of my night came when I worked with some high school students on the Lifehouse sketch.

The Lifehouse sketch is one that I love. (Take a few minutes to watch it if you have time.) The classic battle between good and evil is made relevant and modern, and it adds an emotional punch without being cheesy or over-the-top. And every time Jesus steps in to fight? My heart stops because I know what that feels like. Tonight as I showed the kids how to fight and struggle I was reminded of one of my favorite moments in literature - the moment when Peter is fighting the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and it's back and forth and seemingly has no end. He's fighting and just can't defeat her, then with a roar Aslan steps in and takes the White Witch down. And just like the Lifehouse sketch, my heart stops in that moment. My hearts stops... in relief.

I don't have to fight my sin alone, and if I tried I would fail. Jesus steps in for me, gives me strength to overcome my sin, and reminds me he's got my back. And to share that with a few high schoolers at my church is amazing opportunity and awesome experience I cherish with all my heart.

My heart is full of joy and I am grateful for his love.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The WGA Strike

I was talking with a co-worker today regarding the writer's strike. I asked her if she knew what it was about, and she said, "They just want a bigger salary, right?"

No, actually, that's not right.

If any of you download an episode of The Office, Grey's Anatomy, Weeds, etc. - either from iTunes (where you pay for it) or from nbc.com, where it's free - the writer's don't get a dime. The studios call this "promotional material" and are getting away with not offering residuals for the people that created the product. Promotional? I don't think so. It's estimated that digital downloads create over a billion dollars worth of revenue per year. And the writers of those shows DON'T SEE A DIME.

Join the writer's strike by not downloading anything until the get what is due them. It will be there when the strike is over... you just might have to wait a while to see it. And the short videos I've included below give great explanations. This isn't about a bigger salary for them. They just want a share of a profit the studio is going to make anyway.

By the way, the average writer's salary is $200,000/yr. That's a lot, but compare that to the studio executives that make 20 million a year and I wouldn't cross the line, either. I can only be on strike in my little way. (I haven't been able to watch Samantha Who? and it's eating away at me. But I will not watch until this is resolved.)










The writer's aren't being greedy. They have earned this.

Pamela Ribon, one the writer's of Samantha Who?, is keeping us all up to date on the strike activities on her blog. If I wasn't a regular reader of hers, I would've have thought the same as my co-worker. So that's why I'm posting this. Spread the word. No more downloads! Solidarity!



Eric over at the merge posted this today. Thought you would all enjoy it. Sometimes it's good to have a reminder like this now and then. (And sometimes I wish I could get the people in my congregation who don't like the new OR old music I lead to understand this.)

Pop Culture Quote Monday

"Safe, no he's not safe, but he's good".

From a book that was eventually made a movie. One of my favorites, actually.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bracing Myself

Today I had an admissions interview with Covenant Seminary.

After the disappointing financial aid package I received from Bethel Seminary, I went through a sort of "grieving process". My heart was set on Bethel for a number of reasons, and when I received a total of $600 in financial aid for a school that would cost $60,000, there was no way I could go. My five stages:

Denial: They are kidding, right? There is no way this package is "need-based". I'm just getting so little because I applied late. A phone call to the financial aid office set me straight. That was all the planned to offer me.

Anger: You've got to be kidding! This is ridiculous. Who can afford to take out that many loans? Is this because I'm a woman? Because of my age? Because I'm from Nebraska? No one said grief was a rational process. (I didn't really think that last one, but right now it feel appropriate to be a martyr in this state. Sorry little Huskers.)

Bargaining: Okay, God. I get it. If I quit my job and find someone to mooch off of, then I could get more financial aid next year. Should I do that? That was never going to happen. I'd go crazy.

Depression: Why must it be this way? Why me? Why give me this call and then have it end up this way? What did I do wrong? This was a strange one for me, because it hit me the hardest the weekend I was scheduled to move into seminary housing, then hit me even harder two weeks later when I got a call at work from an old friend wondering what I was still doing at my job. When I told him what happened, he said, "Why didn't you call me so we could go get drunk?" (I have strange friends.) I told him because I didn't want to talk about it. I thought if I didn't, the sadness and reality of it would go away. I'm sure he could hear in my voice the trembling undercurrent of sadness.

Acceptance: It's probably not meant to be. I just misread an important spiritual lesson for a "call" - it was probably just wishful thinking that I was meant to live an extraordinary life when in fact I was simply meant to live this one. Then a stranger approached me at the local barista's who had overheard me talking to a friend about seminary. This happened the week I knew I needed to make my decision to go or stay. This conversation lead me to apply to another school. Covenant.

So hear we are. The interview was positive. I've been accepted, he told me about 2/3s of the way into the conversation. (Though I do not have a letter yet...) And he told me I would have a very good chance of getting an excellent financial aid package.

So I'm bracing myself for yet another disappointment. I know better than to get my hopes up.

But this feels good. Like it might even work this time.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. -Psalm 37:7

Monday, November 05, 2007

Pop Culture Quote Monday

It's a movie this time...

Noelle: Disappointment doesn't kill
Abby: Right... rejection kills. Disappointment only maims.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Defining Moments

As I "prepare" to enter my third year of blogging, I decided to reflect back on the past two years of writing. With life's typical ups and downs, I'm so glad I stared this experience so I have those defining moments to look back on. Reading some of my old posts was a little shocking, because I can't believe I was that honest with myself. And I realized just how much writing about these ups and downs brought insight and clarity to my heart and my head.

Never Underestimate God
Repair or Replace?
Being the Better Person
Being Someone Who Matters
The Shield of Faith
Landmarks and Going Through the Motions
Not Being Good Enough
Little Reminders
Wounds
Small Victories

These aren't my best posts, or even my favorite posts. They are what I consider "landmarks" in my walk with Christ, and a record of the attempt to live out my life in the best way I can.

I have this blog to remind me of where I was, and just how wonderful it is to be where I am now.

I don’t believe You brought me this far to give up
So everyday I keep on fighting for it
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if I’m faithful
Or a fool to believe You’re still leading me
-Jason Gray's "This Far"

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pop Culture Quote Monday

I feel God in this Chili's tonight.

Who said it and what's it from?

... I should really make these harder.

Dang it! Say it with me everyone "_____ ______ _____ _____."

Blue Like Jazz

I read this book a long time ago and I've noticed the world seems to be catching on. Lots of people I know are talking about it... and that's an interesting thing to me.

What do I love about this book? It's honesty. It's relatability. (Okay.. that's not a word. But you know what I mean.) Miller wasn't trying to break any new ground with this book, but what he did do is make it okay to talk about Christianity again, and helped make it easy to talk about Jesus with people who've been burned by Christians. That's a big deal in our culture today.

There are some questionable things (theology-wise) in this book, and every book I've ever read has that. It's a very quick read, but it's a book you want to absorb. This is not a airplane-ride book. This is a "read it before you go to bed and pick it up the next day over your lunch hour" kind of book. You want to read more, but you want to savor it at the same time. It's like a good Riesling, right Steph T?

What I liked the most about this book was that it made me realize I'm not alone in my craziness, or my questioning.

And that's just alright with me.

There is something quite beautiful about the Grand Canyon at night. There is something quite beautiful about a billion stars held steady by a God who knows what he is doing. (They hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz.) And as I lay there, it occurred to me that God is up there somewhere. Of course, I had always know he was, but this time I felt it, I realized it, the way a person realizes they are hungry or thirsty. The knowledge of God seeped out of my brain and into my heart. I imagined him looking down on this earth, half-angry because his beloved mankind cheated on him, had committed adultery, and yet hopelessly in love with her, drunk with love for for her.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Giving Credit Where Credit's Due

Those of you who know me know how much I hate Wal-Mart. The hate began as nothing more than a disgust for a dirty store that always had too many people in it, until the abhorrent foreign labor practices and destruction of small-town America began. So I haven't shopped there for years.

That said, I must give credit where it is due. And what I'm about to tell you in no way erases what they've done.

One of the guitarists I lead worship with recently fell from some scaffolding at his job. It caused major damage to his scalp, a crushed ankle and a broken leg. His injuries are significant and required more than one surgery. He is in very rough shape. His wife is a shift supervisor at the Wal-Mart in my town. Due to his accident, Wal-Mart gave her a year off to take care of him. With pay.

While I know that a year's salary for someone in her position is a drop in the bucket for a corporation like Wal-Mart, that made me happy.

I will still never shop there. But... I must give credit where credit is due.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pop Culture Quote Monday

The guys at work have this thing with me - they are always quoting something, usually movies, to get me to guess where the quote is from. Today the quote was from The Jerk, which I didn't know and it killed me.

And all day I had Elton John's Tiny Dancer in my head. All day. (I really love that song.) Then I sang it the wrong way...

Hold me close young Tony Danza

Thus was born a new idea: Pop Culture Quote Monday.

So, readers, what are the wrong lyrics from and who said it?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Competitive Reality Show Heaven


Regular readers may remember what a fan I am of Iron Chef America. I love the over-the-top attitude the show relishes in. I laugh out loud, am fascinated and weirded-out every time I watch it. Never having seen the original Iron Chef I don't know if the American version stands up, but that doesn't matter to me - for now I am in American reality show heaven.

As a lover of competitive reality shows like Project Runway, Top Chef and The Amazing Race (which I haven't seen in two years since my CBS strike. *tiny sniffle*) I was giddy with anticipation last week with the premiere of what? You guessed it. The Next Iron Chef.

Last week they sent home Traci Des Jardin, not only one of the few women ever on ICA but actually a winner against Mario Batali, who has am impressive 15-4 record. I felt she was sent home too soon. This week, there was fun with chemicals and the awesome Wylie Dufresne. Giddy again.

So far my favorites are Aaron Sanchez and John Besh, probably because I've seen both their original battles on ICA and both impressed the pants out of me. Besh won against Batali, while Sanchez tied with Morimoto, one of the original Iron Chefs in Japan.

I adore Top Chef, but this show puts it to shame. These chefs are obviously some of the best in America and to watch them go head-to-head amidst the strange challenges (make a desert with squid? Really?) is a pleasure.

The addition of Alton Brown does hurt, either.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hold Me Jesus







Last night on my way to rehearsal I heard a remake of an old classic on the radio.







Well, sometimes my life
Just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something
I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band
Is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace


... and I was overwhelmed with emotion.

Not really because of the song. While it's lovely and the remake (by Big Daddy Weave) is very good, it brought back a memory of something from many, many years ago. My friend Andy sang this when we were in Envoy together, and I laughed at how he used to mess the lyrics up "I'd rather fight for you something I don't really want..." doesn't make near as much sense, and we had a good time making fun of him for that.

As the song played memory after memory replayed in my mind while I remembered how he was the person I knew the least at the beginning of Envoy's formation, and he eventfully became the person with which I identified the most. We are both farm kids, both in 4-H, we both have very sick senses of humor, and well as ridiculously loud laughs. I even remember him saying to me months after Envoy ended, "If I'd known you were this cool, I would've spent more time with you last summer."

But what overwhelmed me was remembering the transformation he went through the summer we toured together and the months after. I watched him grow into the man of God he is now, and as I long to be transformed I find myself shaking like a leaf. For I am scared, I am different, and I am not who I was. I worry that it's both a bad and good thing. And I don't know what to think about that.

Andy handled his transformation with a lot of love and grace, and with a lot of laughs. I only hope I can learn from that.

He and his wife are now in Africa, serving as missionaries with AIM. I miss them both, but especially Andy. That song will never be the same for me. Even with the wrong lyrics.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

An Example of Community

I have one grandparent still living, my maternal grandmother. Her husband died when I was a sophomore in high school and since his death, she has lived alone.

She'll be 92 in December. And she still lives on her own. Wow.

I have occasion to worry about her. She's had some serious health problems, especially in the last 6-8 years, mainly with bleeding ulcers. She had a scare yesterday. My mom took her to the doctor and she doing fairly well after the medication they put her on. My parents will be in Branson for the rest of the week, so I called my grandmother tonight to check on her.

"Well, hi." She said. "What are you up to?"

"Just calling to make sure you have my work and cell numbers in case you need me this week."

My aunt was there helping her pick the last of the sour gherkins she had on the vines trailing up her chain link fence. She sounded a little out of breath, but excited. "Do you want to come over for dinner? I've got a peach pie in the oven." Well, that was a no-brainer, so I made the short 20-mile trip over to the small town of Axtell to see them, and have homemade vegetable soup and homemade peach pie.

I was there for a couple of hours, and by 9pm I realized something amazing. My grandmother has a huge community of people who love her and look out for her.

The phone rang four times while I was there - all neighbors calling to check on her. I heard her say over and over again "I feel much better today." I couldn't help but remember an old scene from Grey's Anatomy, where the main character had an elderly patient who was DNR, and she watched the woman die surrounded by friends. She then cried at the thought her own mother would die alone.

I thought most of my grandmother's neighbors and friends died. She is always attending funerals, and she rarely mentions these people in her life. But there they were - I witnessed it all tonight. Just a handful of people who called to make sure she was safe and well.

"...everything in this world tries to pull us away from community, pushes up to choose ourselves over others, to choose independence over interdependence, to choose great things over small things, to choose going fast alone over going far together. The simple way is not the easy way." -Shane Claiborne Irresistible Revolution

Why has our culture made it so hard to exist in community together?

It's probably a mixture of fear and distrust for those around us. But will we learn to live well without each other? Or, will we learn that it is much better to live caring for others above yourself?


"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it up carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable... The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers... of love is hell."
- C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fall TV line-up

It's premiere week for the alphabet networks, and so far I'm not sure what to think.

I discovered Heroes at the end of last year, and the season premiere last night, while action-less, promised an interesting season to come. I was very disappointed to not get some hint of what happened after the Petrelli brothers went shooting off into the air to blow up, but I guess I was asking for too much. The addition of David Anders to the cast, while maybe only for a short time, made me quite happy. I've also heard rumors of Kristen Bell joining the cast as well. That also will ensure I keep watching. The show is not without it's flaws - the end of last season felt very repetitive, so I hope that won't happen again. We'll see.



Tonight I turned to House, another late discovery for me, and loved every second of what I watched. (I did miss a little, since I'm trying to pack for a short work trip I'm leaving for tomorrow). With all the cottages gone, it was interesting to see what happened. This is not a must-see show for me, if I miss it's no big deal. But if I'm around and in the mood for TV, I'll be watching FOX on Tuesday nights at 8.





The big squeeeeeeeeeeeeeee moment will come Thursday night for the season premiere of The Office. I am simply giddy with anticipation. Yippee!








I'm not sure if I will turn to ABC after The Office to catch Grey's Anatomy. I told myself I wouldn't, but I'm not so sure I won't at least try a glimpse. I have invested in three seasons, as irritating as part of them were. The main draw for me at this point is the music - they have excellent taste. (See video below. Mat Kearney's voice is like home to me.)






What's on your fall schedule?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dry Land

I spend a lot of time during my day thinking about God.

In fact, most of the time that's all I do. Think. And I think I've managed to substitute thinking about God for communicating with God.

I read books about God, blog posts about God, sometimes I even write about God. I pray for my friends overseas, I work in ministry, I talk about God with people. But lately I've had no intimate connection with him, no conversation back and forth. I feel like I know a lot about God, but I don't know God. The green pastures I once relished and relaxed in have become desert lands, dry and hot on my bare feet and weary on my soul. It's as though I've walked past the watering hole numerous times but ignored it in favor of the mirage up ahead.

So I've trudged along, missing the watering hole of intimacy only to find that shiny promise in the distance disappear.

Years ago while in a similar place in my relationship with Christ, a good friend said to me "You know what to do. I can't tell you anything you don't already know. It's like our friendship, we'll go through grand canyons times, but we'll always find our way back to each other."

I find myself longing to fall in love with God again. The adventure, the joy, the questioning, the passions. In short, the mountains and valleys. I'm tired of this plateau. I'm tired of the cracked dry land of my heart. I want to play in the water, let it rush over my head and refresh my soul. It's selfish, I know. It's also scary, because I've grown to know what the dry land has to offer me. And I've survived a long time on it.

But the watering hole is full of passion, unpredictability, longing. It is where I am made whole. This intimacy relieves my parched throat, fills my heart with hope. In it, I find life as it's meant to be lived. So why is it so hard for me to stop and drink?


Listen to my heart, can you hear it sing
Telling me to give you everything
Seasons may change, winter to spring
But I love you until the end of time

Come what may, come what may
I will love you until my dying day

Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place
Suddenly it moves with such a perfect grace
Suddenly my life doesn't seem such a waste
It all revolves around you

And there's no mountain too high, no river too wide
Sing out this song and I'll be there by your side
Storm clouds may gather and stars may collide
But I love you until the end of time

Oh, Ernie



Nebraska State Senator Sues God Over Natural Disasters

*Blink*

Did I read that right?


Friday, September 14, 2007

Elsewhere

Tony Myles over at don't call me veronica has a great post today.

He set aside the last 8 days in order to deepen his connection with God. And he had some surprising results.

It's rare for me to single out an individual blog post, especially from blogs I list on my sidebar, simply because almost all of them are great. But this one? Outstanding.

Go read it.

Reviewing Sabbath

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hee. Hee. I Knew It.

Which theologian am I most like?

You scored as Karl Barth, The daddy of 20th Century theology. You perceive liberal theology to be a disaster and so you insist that the revelation of Christ, not human experience, should be the starting point for all theology.

Karl Barth

73%

Paul Tillich

67%

John Calvin

67%

Martin Luther

67%

Charles Finney

33%

Augustine

33%

Friedrich Schleiermacher

33%

J├╝rgen Moltmann

33%

Anselm

33%

Jonathan Edwards

13%

Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Enemies are People Like Me



In the words of Derek Webb, "Peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication. It's like telling someone murder is wrong and then showing them by way of execution".

Today I am in a state of both righteous anger and devastating sadness.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

In the News: 40-Day Fast

Liberal religious leaders will begin a 40-day fast this week (Sept. 6) to advocate for legislation that would cancel the debts of the world's 67 poorest countries.

Church Groups Push for Debt Relief

Good for them. Notice the religious leaders taking part in this project aren't labeled as conservative. Somehow social activist = liberal Christian nowadays. I'm working on a post about this subject that I will post at a later date, so I won't elaborate just yet.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Something to Laugh About?

Hardly.






Here is their apology:



Note their lack of eye contact with the camera, the flippant attitude and the all-around dismissal of their behavior. It makes me sad.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bad Charter. Bad. (And an update of sorts)

Last week I went through extremely patchy internet service, with most nights not being able to connect at all. It wasn't my modem, Charter said, and it took them a week to get someone here to fix it. I'm really glad I can go to the office after hours and get done what I need to get done online, because I don't know what I would've done without that option.

So, it looks like I'm back to a somewhat stable internet connection tonight. After the Charter technician was here for an hour and a half this morning, he swore he fixed it. Time will tell. I've never been a fan of Charter Communications, but they are the only non dial-up choice in town.

Last Wednesday I met with a local pastor I'd met briefly a year ago through the Midwest District of E-Free Churches. With a paid staff of 23 and an insurmountable number of volunteers, they may not be a mega-church but they are close. As much as I dislike the idea of mega-churches, if I've heard my call from God correctly I'll most certainly end up working in one.

The senior pastor there is one of the warmest, nicest pastors I've met and he knows how to preach from scripture straight-up (I've only heard him a few times, but those times were excellent and I still remember them). We made a connection right away, and he encouraged me more than anyone else has (which is kind of sad, really) once he heard about my call, how it began and where it ended up. I am thankful knowing that when the time comes for me to leave my current ministry, which I plan to do if I choose to take online courses for seminary. Why have I decided this? Because I've never felt called to be a worship leader. It just happened to me, with God in his surprising ways. I've done what I set out and was hired to do, which was change the worship style at our church from traditional to contemporary/blended. So in order to get the practical ministry experience closer to what I ultimately feel called to do, I want to work within an equipping ministry area of a church. (Which isn't available where I am currently a member.)

The meeting went really well, and he was excited to talk to me and welcomed me with open arms, saying there would be a place for me whenever I needed it. That felt good. He was thrilled I got into Bethel, and when I told him I was applying to another, more affordable school he said, "Remember you get what you pay for. Don't short yourself on a good education just because another place is less expensive."

Good advice, I guess, but that's pretty easy for a senior pastor of an almost mega-church to say.

Why I Feel Like a Coward Today

Today I did two important things... I called the housing director at Bethel Seminary and told her I would not be moving into the apartment they had reserved for me. Then I signed my financial aid package form, checked "No, I will not be attending Bethel Seminary and I reject all aids and grants", then mailed it.

I've been sad for the last couple of weeks with the startling realization that as a single woman, I have no idea how I can afford to go to seminary. The grants Bethel offered me were quite paltry and in their words, "It's based on your 2006 income." Which makes no sense to me, because I wouldn't have that same income as a student. So I'd be forced, as Bethel's MA program is three years, to take out about $50,000 in loans just to pay tuition and student fees. I'm starting to understand why it's best to go seminary right after undergraduate school, because most likely the grants offered would be a lot more because my income was next to nothing.

I could take out $50,000 in federal loans if I wanted to. Most people do. But in order to pay that back in the alloted time, I'd have to make a $300 a month payment. Honestly? I don't see how that's possible. I know what people who work in ministry make, and it's not enough to afford that plus all the other expenses life requires. I don't have the luxury of another income to help out with things like that. It's just me, and I have nothing to fall back on.

I've been reading about the high cost of seminary, and am not surprised some have the same experience as I.

Ministry and School Debt

Shortage or Shift?
Seminary Students Speak Out

One Man Ministry

I'm starting to feel like just another statistic of someone who wants to enter the ministry, even feels a called to it, and just can't afford to go to seminary. Since 95% of full-time ministry jobs in the church require a master's degree, what's a person to do? Ignore the debt, be a bad steward of their money, and be saddled with debt for 20 years?

It feels a little like this:

Living a life with a burden vs. living a life of regret.

I'm sure I sound incredible dramatic. That's where I'm at right now, and it's frustrating. I feel like the cowardly lion, who's been swat on the nose and instead of standing up I've run away.


If on courage
You must call
Then just keep on tryin'
And tryin'
And tryin'
You're a lion
In your own way
Be a lion

Come on be a lion

-from The Wiz, "Be a Lion"

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I have cool friends





... who give me great gifts like this. How lucky am I?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Welcome Home

Welcome Home, 734th Battalion.

My City Celebrates. I hate war, and I love that they are back home.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

For Whom the Rooster Crows

I am like Peter.

The one who promises Jesus over and over again that I won’t do it. That I could never… that the sin tastes so bitter I’ll never want it again.

But then the rooster crows and I do it. More than three times, even. (Not like once isn't enough.)

I could blame it on all the temptations of this world. I could try to justify it by remembering that I’m not such a bad person compared to the next guy. I could remind myself that God forgives it anyway, and I’m not hurting anyone, so what’s the big deal?

I am hurting myself, though. And more importantly, I’m hurting Him.

Sometimes I think it’s the hardest thing in the world to fight what comes naturally over doing what Jesus desires me to do. I know that He fights on my behalf (see the top video to your right), but I let myself get dragged down. And I have to say it – most of the time, I don’t try to fight back.

“Sin is fun,” my friend Angie once said. But I have to ask myself if this fun is better than what Jesus offers me. Common sense tells me that it’s not. Both my heart and my head tell me it’s not. So why is this struggle constant with me?


I can anticipate the response that is coming: "I know that all God's commands are spiritual, but I'm not. Isn't this also your experience?" Yes. I'm full of myself—after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

-Romans 7: 14-24 (The Message)

Would I rather have the fun that’s become habit instead of the newness and discovery Christ offers me? I’ve fought my whole life, trying to understand that what Jesus gives me is better than what the world offers me. What will it take to get this through to my head and my heart? What can be done to overcome this sin that produces guilt and shame? What will it take for me to remember how much better Jesus is for me?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. –Romans 7:25 (The Message)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

So Much Music, So Little Time

A plethora of great music is emerging from the world as of late, and I cannot help but wonder if it's a direct result of the death of the CD. We live in a world of down-loadable singles, and unless each and every song on an album is good, we won't buy it. That works for me, because I hate wasting $15 on a CD that only has two good songs on it. I am thankful those days are gone. Aside from my favorite artists still producing quality stuff, there are some new (to me) artist I've discovered that are also keeping up with the big dogs.

Jason Gray's All the Lovely Losers .While this is straight-up power pop, which is not usually my thing, the thoughtfulness of the lyrics grabbed me from the beginning. From the song This Far:

It’s hard for me to walk by faith in the face of all that I can see
Sometimes I fear I’m just a fool for my belief
But then I feel You come and move in me
And I hear You whisper in my ear and for a moment I can see
This is how You brought me here

I don’t believe You brought me this far to give up
So everyday I keep on fighting for it
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if I’m faithful
Or a fool to believe You’re still leading me


It's easy for me to relate to this song at this point in my life, with a decision about seminary looming in front of me, and all the doubts that plague me at the same time. The rest of the album seems to branch off from this song - about the journey we take to become more like Christ, the ups and downs, the pruning and the growth.

Switchfoot's Oh Gravity!. I've been a fan since the days of The Legend of Chin, so I go way back with these guys. (I even remember the store where I bought my first CD of theirs). Oh! Gravity is a great follow-up to their crossover success This Beautiful Mess. They've stepped up their musicianship in a big way, and their lyrics remain as thoughtful as they were in Mess

John McLaughlin's Indiana. I discovered John on MySpace and from the moment you hear the opening bars of Industry, the first song on the record, you just know it's going to be good. And it is. All of it. He's a great mixture of Paul McCartney and Billy Joel with a ton of extra energy thrown in. Aside from outstanding musicianship, the lyrics are also very thought-provoking. Check out Beautiful Disaster on youtube.

Sara Groves' Add to the Beauty. This album came out in 2005, but I've only recently purchased it. Several friends would rave on and on about Groves' music, and I never got into it. Her musical style was what turned me off, and there are still some songs that just don't do anything for me. But she is, without a doubt, one of the best lyricists in Christian music today. I always feel like she's on a journey that doesn't stop and wants to take me with her.

Brandon Heath's Don't Get Comfortable. More power-pop, and a little brighter than Jason Gray's, with lots of good hooks and memorable tunes. My post on Sunday, and the video are from this album and there is plenty more where that come from. Here are some lyrics from the title track:

You've been looking for a sign all this time
If you seek you'll find me every time
I am going show you what I mean
I'm gonna love like you've never seen
You are going live like you used to dream
This is your new song


This is a great reminder that when we allow God to work in our lives, and we are willing to go along for the ride, we will be changed in a way we'd never expect.

Our God Reigns, also a song worth a mention, is a track that would work as a contemporary worship song in most church settings, and is one of the better worship songs I've heard lately.

Deserving a mention as well is Mute Math, whose song Typical rocks my world on many levels. Their music may be thrash, but their lead singer is Sting all the way.

So much music, so little time. What's a girl to do?


Monday, August 06, 2007

An invitation...

My first family member joined the blogging world back in May and I've been neglectful to promote it. Meredith is a lovely writer, an even lovelier person and I know you'll appreciate what she has to say.

confessions of a slacker mom


Head on over there for the chance to read a blog that is truly honest about oneself and about a God that changes us if we let him.

Very Left Reverend - go easy on her. She likes Beth Moore.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Small Victories


I had lunch Friday with an old friend I haven't been in touch with for about three years. He's one of the first friends I made in this town after I moved here, and we lived in the same building for 5 years. Far more than just neighbors, we spent 3-4 nights a week together and developed what I thought was a good, solid friendship. Back then, he was going through a lot - the death of his mother, a major move, a career change and above all else, a breakdown in his faith in Christ. Once he learned about my relationship with Christ, the questions came. He grew up in the church, called himself a Christian, but didn't have a relationship with Christ. A good amount of his questions were just factual, and many of them required me to stretch my apologetics. (I quickly learned that defending my faith is not always something to be learned from a book.) So our bond was strong - he at one point called me his "spiritual adviser". (Typing that now makes it sound in the vein of eastern religions. But I assure you, it wasn't.) It gave me the opportunity to pay forward what was once given to me by my good friend Travis.

Why did we loose touch? He had a series of great experiences where God helped him restore the faith he lost. The death of his mother created a huge chasm, and my friend finally allowed God to close it. He found some great Christian guy friends, he moved out of our building and I just never saw him again. Loosing him was a big deal to me, and it happened at a time where I was going through a lot and needed a good friend. I was angry and hurt because he wasn't there when I needed him to be there. It made me feel taken advantage of.

I've run into him on occasion in the last three years, as we have some of the same friends. Each time, I didn't want to be anywhere near him. I held a grudge for quite a while. I needed him to come to me, because my last few emails to him went unanswered. I took that as a hint to back off. Then - completely out of the blue - he called me about 6 weeks ago to borrow something he knew I had, and I hoped for a lot of things. I hoped I could finally be honest and tell him how much he hurt me. I hoped our meeting again would help mend whatever broke, and I hope it wouldn't be awkward. It wasn't awkward; in fact, it was nice. We saw each other three times that week and each time was good. It felt like old times. I didn't tell him how he hurt me, but I realized it was only for very selfish reasons I wanted that to happen.

So I called him last week and we made plans to have lunch. And as I sat across from him, I had a small victory. I realized I'm not who I was. God not only gave me the strength to forgive him, (though he never asked) but I'd also forgotten how it awful it all made me feel. We laughed, we smiled and I enjoyed our time together because I've finally healed.

...I used to be mad at you, a little on the hurt side too
But I'm not who I was
I found my way around
To forgiving you
Some time ago but I never got to tell you


...When the pain came back again
Like a bitter friend
It was all that I could do
To keep myself from blaming you

...Well the thing I find most amazing

In amazing grace
Is the chance to give it out
Maybe that's what love is all about


I will probably still ask myself if the pain of real friendship was worth it next time someone like him comes along. But I am tasting small victories right now, and it feels good.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Diva Meltdown Week

As a once self-proclaimed pop-culture junkie, I've stopped keeping up with a lot of it in my old age. There really is too much to do, and there are much betters ways to spend my time than trying to feign interest in E!'s Daily Top Ten. (I do occasionally enjoy The Soup, though, probably because they make fun of everything.) I did, however, happen to catch Best Week Ever last week, and wow... what a week for diva meltdowns.

1.) Lindsey Lohan arrested, again.

2.) Brittney goes crazy, again.

3.) Paula Abdul cries and acts crazy, again.

The second video I have in my sidebar has been there for a while. Craig Ferguson is eloquent and honest in his concern for the stars who clearly need intervention, and he wonders why the friends of these stars don't say anything. As someone who's never had a close friend or family member with a major addiction or obvious meltdown like those mentioned above, I really don't know how I would act in a situation as this.

Where do we draw the line? And this question is two-fold, really: 1.) The line of when do we step in and 2.) the line of when to stop... well, making fun of these people. Our instinct is to make fun, especially of celebrities. (I believe Kathy Griffin built her whole career around this. I know, I'm a Bravo addict. Don't even ask me about Top Chef or I won't shut up.)

I appreciate Craig's honesty and with so much material out there to work with, it's probably hard not to get a few jokes in at their expense. And as he says, why aren't their friends stepping in and doing something about it. Is it because all their friends are their employees? Is it because we as a society as so afraid of being PC that we keep our mouths shut in the name of "tolerance" Is the "I don't want to offend" statement ever okay in situations like this?

No.

We are becoming too dependent on ourselves, and life wasn't meant to be lived that way. We are created for community with each other. (Read Shaine Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution for a whole new way of looking at community.) If a friend is crashing and burning, it's up to us to put out the fire, even if it does offend them. We need to love them that much.