Monday, December 29, 2008

A Fragrance

Everyone has their own fragrance

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1

We had a bridal shower for one of my roommates last month. One of the things we did in lieu of cheesy bridal shower games (Megan hates them, and she is, after all, the bride!) was write a note of encouragement or prayer to her. We all shared ours, then rolled them up to put into a wine bottle, for her to keep.

As I was contemplating what to write to this woman I've only known for a couple of months, I was drawn to this verse in Ephesians. Not just because Megan is an imitator of Christ, but be because of what it's like to be in her presence. She is the epitome of what it means to have a breath of fresh air comes into the room. And I started wondering if everyone has their own fragrance. Not in an actual way... in more of a metaphorical way.

Maybe your best friend reminds you of that perfect smell right before it's about to rain. Mine does. Rain is my favorite weather phenomenon; Lindsey is just my favorite phenomenon. (If you ever get the chance to meet her, you'll understand what I mean.)

My dad's actual smell is nothing... he doesn't wear cologne or aftershave. But when I'm with him, there is a fragrance of oil and dirt - two things that are representative of how he spent his life. The dirt he toiled for years and years farming the land to grow corn to feed cattle and soybeans to feed America. The oil represents his passion later in life, after his strokes and his retirement - restoring classic cars and tractors.

With mom, I smell cinnamon. She loves that flavor of gum and the smell of nearly every candle in her house has this scent. But I smell cinnamon in her presence because she is spicy, unexpected and has that certain "je ne sais qua". Often, when you are tasting a lovely baked treat and can't quite figure out why it tastes so good, it's because it has cinnamon in it. My mom is the same way.

With my cousin Meredith, I smell lilies. Soft and fragrant but not too strong in scent, a lily is the most surprising of flowers to me. Just like there are over 100 species of lilies, there are many aspects to Meredith (may more than 100). Each time you talk with her or read her blog, you cannot help but be surprised. She grows in Christ like a lily blooms, up and out and isn't afraid to share that with the world. I believe lilies are the most beautiful of flowers, just as Meredith is a most beautiful and wonderful woman of God.

Just think about fragrance next time you are in the presence of a loved one. You won't see them the same again.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Soggy Bottom Boys and Gwen Stefani


Gwen Stefani and John Turturro in the same video. Did I just see some pigs fly past the window?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

In the Bleak Mid-Winter

My favorite Christmas song...

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

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

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

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


Anytime good poetry (thanks, Ms. Rossetti) is set to music as haunting as this, it's a winner in my book.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sad



Yet another reason to hate Wal-Mart. I hate what "stuff" does to this country.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Go Out in Joy

As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower
and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth;
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy
and be lead forth in peace;
the mountains and hill will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

-Isaiah 55: 10-13


More on this later. Just wanting to leave you all with this beautiful word as we enter into the Thanksgiving holiday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On the Road to Beautiful

Play this while you read.



A lot of people warned me that seminary would be less about learning than I would expect or would maybe even want.

Expect lots of reading, expect messiness, expect needy people, expect to be broken. I knew that going in. I promise I did.

I crumble at Your kiss and grace
I'm a weakling in the dust
Teach me how to cling to You
With all my life and all my love

I think over the years, I've managed to forget what it means to be on a journey. I've always been well aware that the life of following Christ is a work in progress, something where I'm always stretching and growing. But it's different here. The journey is very different. There are a lot of rocks in my road, sometimes boulders I can't move. The bag I'm carrying is heavy and burdensome.

Father come to me, hold me up 'cause I can barely stand
My strength is gone and my breath is short, I can't reach out my hands
But my heart is set on a pilgrimage to heaven's own bright King
So in faltering or victory I will always sing

And on the road to beautiful
My seasons always change
But my life is spent on loving You
To know You in Your power and pain

I cannot think of living my life in any other way that would be as lovely, as alluring, as ravishing. Nor can I image a life more difficult, offensive, and challenging. A life spent on loving Jesus is a beautiful dichotomy. I am living in the already/not yet part of my life - where I am sinner already forgiven and I am not yet restored to perfection in glory.

Father come to me, hold me up 'cause I can barely stand
My strength is gone and my breath is short, I can't reach out my hands
But my heart is set on a pilgrimage to heaven's own bright King
So in faltering or victory I will always sing

This road I'm on is very, very messy. It's full of the trash in my heart that God has to pick up for me, it's full of pot holes that need to be filled. Sometimes I am knee-deep in snow and other times I find myself simply trying not to get stuck in the mud. The road itself is a disaster. But it is, above all else, a pilgrimage. (pĭl'grə-mĭj)n.

1. A journey to a sacred place or shrine.
2. A long journey or search, especially one of exalted purpose or moral significance.

You're my portion in this life
You're my strength now in my fight
And to You I pledge my heart
In the pain and in the dark I'll love You
I'll love You, I'll love You

I'll love You...

What is the significance of the pilgrimage I am on? The end result... the end result of finding my way to heaven's own bright King. I just wish that the road was less messy. A lot less messy.

Father come to me, hold me up 'cause I can barely stand
My strength is gone and my breath is short, I can't reach out my hands
But my heart is set on a pilgrimage to heaven's own bright King
So in faltering or victory I will always sing

And my heart is set on a pilgrimage to heaven's own bright King
So in faltering or victory I will always sing

I love You
I love You
I love You

My own hope lies in the cross. The beautiful and messy cross, where my sins were laid bare and were wiped away by this bright King. Any pilgrimage I take to him will be worth it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What Happened Tonight

No matter who you voted for, not matter how much your heart is breaking or how much your heart is celebrating, let us remember:

God is sovereign.

As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield
for all who take refuge in him.

For who is God besides the LORD ?
And who is the Rock except our God?

-2 Samuel 22:31-32


It is vital we pray for President-Elect Barack Obama. This man has his work cut out for him.

Father,

Protect Barack Obama and his family. Make him an instrument of your will. Draw him closer to yourself and give him the wisdom he will need to lead this country for the next four years. You have placed him in this position for a reason, Father, and we trust in your good and pleasing and perfect will. Amen.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Heartbreak

I am really homesick. Really and truly.

Sitting at the table in a kitchen conversation
You spilled the words you read just yesterday
He said, "Be perfect, perfect as I am"
"How can this be done," you ask, "when every time I try to be
Someone with such a mastery, I see how weak I am"
I said, "See the sweet dichotomy
Mercy mirrored in the face of impossibility"

The weight of the words
Can crush you, they can break you
Or they can heal and they can take you to the throne of grace
The weight of the words
Will lead you like a beacon
When your strength is finally beaten by the weight of the words

And so the constant struggle to remind each other of the fact
That the rest is easy on the shoulders of the One who came
To pay for what we lack
Now our welcome burden is to strive with humble gratitude
We cannot take lightly what He carried on His back
Can you feel the gravity
Compelling mystery
Life for those who will believe

The weight of the words
Can crush you they can break you
Or they can heal and they can take you
To the throne of grace
The weight of the words
Will lead you like a beacon
When your strength is finally beaten by the weight of the words

The rest is easy
His rest is easy
Are you weary

Can you hear the words that lift the burden
Do you feel the gravity
Compelling mystery
Life for those who will believe

The weight of the words
Can crush you they can break you
Or they can heal and they can take you to the throne of grace
The weight of the words
Will lead you like a beacon
When your strength is finally beaten by the weight of the words

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Grrrr.

In Concert

TWO hours away from me and they have to do it during midterms.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Living in Grace

There is nothing that shows me God's grace more that old reformed hymns. "Jesus Lover of My Soul" "Friend of Sinners" "Pensive Doubting Fearful Heart". I love how they shows my need for grace as it reveals the sin in my heart. They reveal my incapability to do any good on my own, and reminds me to whom it is that I belong.

I was part of a group in college that took a spiritual gifts test before we left to travel in a van together for the summer. We learned not only how our gifts manifest themselves, but also the misuses of the gifts. What was so remarkable about doing this study together is that when we saw a misuse of a gift, it allowed us to give more grace to the person. Not that their sin was any less of a sin, but it helped us understand where that person was coming from. This intense study in my Spiritual Ministry Formation class has done the same for me here at Covenant Seminary. In my understanding of how introverts and extroverts work, and how those who perceive versus those who judge think and work, it gives me a glimpse into the person's mind and heart, as well as into the mind and heart of Christ.

And I am seeing that grace return to me ten-fold.

I was in Chicago last weekend for a church planting trip, where I spent hours in my car with three virtual strangers that of course, by the end of the trip, weren't strangers at all. We talked and talked about personality types and ministry and grace, and when I got home Sunday I just marveled at what I am seeing here over and over again: gracious hearts.

I am a perfectionist. And I'm really, really hard on myself. This is where my performance-driven life post comes into play, to give you context for just how overwhelmed I am feeling in this present where I stand. I live in a house with 5 girls, all very different and very much the same as me. I am working at a 2000+ church where the women I serve have very different lives than me. I came from a life where I was expected to performed on a regular basis, and perform flawlessly. The color on the cover of the catalog must be the right shade of grey, the photo of that kitchen must be altered to work just right for the application, the worship set must be so tight that everyone is engaged completely. And all the while I must do it with a freakin' big smile on my face like nothing is wrong.

I was so busy performing, and rarely receiving grace from anyone that I never gave grace to anyone. My heart was so wrapped up in getting it right that when others didn't I had no patience. "If I can do it, why can't they?"

I HATE what I turned into.

And now, God is turning that upside-down. Because to live your life in grace is to live a life free from expectations. And that is what so often traps and imprisons us from not only enjoying life and being happy, but to being the person God created you to be in the first place. I was created to be a child of God, no longer enslaved to sin but set free in Christ, who loves me no matter now many times I don't perform.




Before the throne of God above I have a strong and perfect plea

A great High Priest whose name is Love

Who ever lives and pleads for me

My name is graven on His hands

My name is written on His heart

I know that while in Heaven, He stands

No tongue can bid me thence depart


When Satan tempts me to despair

And tells me of the guilt within

Upward I look and see Him there,

Who made an end to all my sin

Because the sinless Savior died

my sinful soul is counted free

For God the Just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me

To look on Him and pardon me


Behold Him there, the risen Lamb

My perfect spotless righteousness

The great unchangeable I Am

The King of glory and of grace

One with Himself I cannot die

My soul is purchased with His blood

My life is hid with Christ on high

With Christ my Savior and my God


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Performance

Before I arrived at seminary, I came from a very performance-driven life. Deadlines to meet, worship services to churn out (forgive the crudeness of the term), songs to learn and teach, bible studies to work on, bible studies to lead, projects to finish...

I have no clue where this performance-driven life came from. I'm sure I cultivated it myself in some small way, just as I am sure that others contributed to it as well. As a child, there was a a lot built up in performance for 4-H projects. I caught the bug the first time I received the big, fancy dark purple ribbon. (Light purple was reserve champion... but dark purple was champion.) I got a taste of success around age 8 or 9, and the rest of my 4-H career was delighting purple ribbons, big silver trophies and how many times I could get my picture in the paper because of said ribbons and trophies.

My mom and dad both made sure that projects were done completely, heartily and to the best of my ability. If it wasn't done right, they made me do it over. And over. And over. So maybe this is where some of it comes from? I have no desire to blame this on my parents, but I'm sure all that didn't help in overall scheme of things.

A big part of this, I'm almost positive, stems from my work at the church. For 8 years they paid me to be in charge of the worship services. The pastor's goal was to change the style from traditional to contemporary. As I researched the heck out of it, I knew I had to go slow. But in that eight years, I can count the number of times I didn't plan the service myself on one hand. I never had a break; I just kept going. If I was going to be gone for the weekend, I still planned the service and made sure everyone knew what to do. So I would be kidding myself if I didn't consider that performance-driven.

There are so many situations like that in my past... whether it was making the dean's list, state choir, best actress at the conference one-act competition, making finals at the latest speech meet, never making a proofreading mistake... blah, blah, blah. It's all been about getting it all done and getting it all done right.

What does all this add up to?

We humans put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves. Tangible results are something we choose to measure ourselves by. It puts us in line with everyone else, not so we are are all standing together but so we can see over the heads of others, comparing ourselves to the one next to us. What's ironic about this - is that God made sure the playing field was leveled. He made sure of that when he bent down and drew in the dirt.

There is part 2 to this post. But that is all you need to read for now. The rest of it will be too much for one entry.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How Long?

Psalm 40

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.
Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.
...
Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD;
may your love and your truth always protect me.
For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
Be pleased, O LORD, to save me;
O LORD, come quickly to help me.
...
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation always say,
"The LORD be exalted!"
Yet I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, do not delay.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day

All kingdoms fall, said one of my seminary professors a month ago. "Even the United States."

Then the Dow went down. And down. And even further down.

We are not a nation in poverty. We are a nation of gluttons - high on credit, Dolce and Gabanna shoes, Kate Spade bags, iPhones, bluetooths and SUVs that are bigger than my living room.

We are not in poverty. We spend what we don't have, and that credit was given to us carelessly. We think we need a new car, a new home, and new furnishings at age 23. Whatever happened to saving before you buy? Those days are gone in lieu of inflated prices where the man with deep pockets keeps getting more and more.

We are, however, a nation that is poor in heart.

A nation that often turns a blind eye to real poverty, sickness, and despair. And nation that all too often refuses to cry out to the man with deep pockets and demand that he help the woman in Darfur who lost her family in a recent surge, the orphaned child in Kenya who sells recycled computer monitors to feed his sister and cousin, and the young man in South Africa who rapes a virgin thinking it will cure his AIDS . We are a nation in poverty. Our hearts are drained of feeling compassion and are now full of selfishness.

We are a nation that suffers from poverty of the heart. And it has to stop.

God, please help us.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tagged

This one is fun.

Answer these questions using ONLY ONE WORD: (not as easy as you might think)

1. Where is your cell phone? dresser

2. Your significant other? unfound

3. Your hair?disaster

4. Your mother? lovely

5. Your favorite thing? love

6. Your dream last night? forgotten

7. Your favorite drink? coffee

8. Your dream/goal? obedience

9. What Room you are in? cold

10. Your fear?darkness

11. Where do you want to be in 6 years? happy

12. Where were you last night? friends

13. Something that you aren't? unloved

14. Muffins? memory

15. Wish list item? books

17. Last thing you did? read

18. What are you wearing? sweatshirt

19. Your TV? storage

20. Your pets? none

21. Friends? missed

22. Your life? changing

23. Your mood? effervescent

24. Missing someone? always

25. Your car? worn

26. Something you're not wearing? shoes

27. Your favorite store? container

28. Your favorite color? red

29. When is the last time you laughed? evening

30. Last time you cried? heartache

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Path Laid Out Before Me

One of the best things about Covenant Theological Seminary is the Spiritual Ministry Formation class. It is here where students in the MDiv and MAEM programs are subjected to personality test after personality test, then a serious amount of personal reflection in order to figure out and understand how God made you.

Wednesday was the culmination of a 10-page paper with the results of all those tests and self-reflection in a 1-hour meeting with the professor. He meets with each student in his class for 1 hour to go over the paper and to give you ideas for your future ministry and resources as you develop your gifts.

Here are some interesting results about my testing:

My highest scoring spiritual gifts are teaching, shepherding and wisdom. I did not expect that.

My Meyers-Briggs is INTJ, but I am only one point into the T. (Introverted-Intuitive-Thinker-Judge.) Being only one point into the Thinker side means I have just as much Feeling in me than I do a Thinker. I poured over and over both personality types, and almost all of the descriptions fit with how I work.

My DEAA Personality Test is an Analytical (Score: 24)/Amiable (Score: 23) mixed with much less Expressive (Score: 18) and Driver (Score: 16). After reading these scores my professor said, "You are remarkable consistent in your testing." Analytical has a lot of the same characteristics as a Thinker, just as an Amiable has many of the same characteristics as a Feeler and an Intuitive

Some of the interesting things that came of out my professor's mouth as he met with me today:

"Your personality type is only 1% of the population. You are the rarest of types."

"You are a classic educator type."

"Everything I'm reading here says you need to considering doing to MA in Counseling in addition to your MA in Educational Ministries."

"No one understands you and they never will. This is a burden you will live with the rest of your life."

Dr. Douglass read through my analysis of the Meyers-Briggs test, where I went through my results to make sure that I tested properly. Then he had us apply my personality type to how I behave in everyday life. He actually had to stop, shake his head and say to me, "You are wonderfully mysterious. And absolutely fascinating case."

Dr. Douglass is an INFJ, so he had an insight to how I've felt all my life - that no one understood me and that somehow that was my fault. He urged me to be confident in my gifting, that it wasn't my fault that I was misunderstood, and that it's important for me to stand my ground when others are against me, because my intuition is right most of the time.

I have never in my life felt such a relief. I have always felt like a freak, and even beyond that, a freak that was to blame for everything. And it just feels good to know that it isn't all my fault; that I was, in fact, wired this way and that it didn't grow out of awful, sinful choices I have made. I knew that the way people treat me felt unfair, but I didn't know why. Dr. Douglass assured me that it's because the people I come into contact with have never known anyone like me and they just didn't know what to do.

*Sigh*

Even more than all of that, though, was the incredible feeling of knowing that I had heard my call properly, that I was in the right program in the right place, and doing the right internship. (And that I was spending all this money for the right reason.)

So in essence, God made me who I am and who I am fits the call I've been given. And it was all intentional.

Do you hear that *boom*? It's my mind. Blowing.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Flow Chart

I didn't get a chance to watch the VP debate because I was listening to a lecture on St. Patrick and Anselm. Most of the people I talk to think their candidate won, so that tells me nothing. I did, however, find this little gem courtesy of Steve over at razzle dazzle rose.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm That Girl

I'm that girl who won't leave the house without her makeup, for fear someone will think less of her.
I’m that girl who is ashamed of most of the clothes she wears.... because they aren't expensive or nice.
I'm that girl who judges people who don't have nice or expensive clothes.
I’m that girl who struggles with being real with herself, others, and God.
I'm that girl who will do almost anything to get people to like her.
I’m that girl who lost a job 10 years ago because of a big stupid mistake.
I’m that girl who could lose almost everything if she thinks she’s beyond a stupid mistake.
I’m that girl who feels like a sham because everyone comes to her for advice when secretly she's thinking "Who in the world am I to be giving anyone advice?"
I’m that girl who loves to check her stat counter because she feels like it means she is important and has something to say.
I’m that girl who thinks that if she does everything perfectly people won't notice how scared she really is.
I’m that girl who spends 2000 dollars on a new computer then makes you feel bad for not donating to Blood:Water Mission.
I’m that girl who pretends to know all about football, but she really barely understands the game.
I’m that girl who talks smack about those who are less intelligent than her.
I’m that girl who talks smack about those who are less mature than her.
I’m that girl who under promises and over delivers just so she'll look good.
I’m that girl who agrees with Republicans and Democrats because she just can't pick a side.
I’m that girl who leaves church knowing the sermon was meant to change her... but rarely does she let it.
I’m that girl who tries too hard to be humble when people compliment her singing or playing.
I’m that girl who is jealous of the trained opera singer she has to sit next to in church choir, only because it means no one can hear her sing.
I’m that girl who is scared to post this, but knew she had to do it. (Thanks Carlos.)

But you know what?
More than all of this.
I’m a girl who is going to continue to let God use her in spite of all that junk in her heart.
Because in spite of all that junk…God can use me.

Let God use you, too. You know he can.

All you have to do is get out of the way.



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Aaron Sorkin... still writing

Maureen Dowd's column from this Sunday is quite entertaining... it's a script between Obama and ex-president Bartlett (from The West Wing). Obama seeks his advice because of his failing campaign. Here's a taste:


OBAMA I’m interested in your advice.

BARTLET I can’t give it to you.

OBAMA Why not?

BARTLET I’m supporting McCain.

OBAMA Why?

BARTLET He’s promised to eradicate evil and that was always on my “to do” list.


Read the rest here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My weekend plans


So I get to sing in a wedding for these two lovely people this weekend. The one on the right is my dear friend Suzie and her fiance Kurtis is on the left. They are one of eHarmony's success stories. Love Song by Third Day with just me and my guitar. Then other song is... well, it's by Charlotte Church. Let's just leave it at that.

Then I get to see two of my favorite people in the world.


I know Lex and Angela from college, although we were never students at the same time. I know Angela from this experience:

Yep, that's me in the middle in the bad outfit. (White shorts... seriously?) Angela is next to me in black. She is seriously one of the best people I know and I love her husband to death. Her children Landon and Lynae are all grown up and probably won't even remember me. :( It's been too long since we've seen each other, and I absolutely cannot wait to see them all again.

It's worth the 7 hour drive just to give them a hug.

Life is good.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Gretel: The Meteorite Video

The singer is a friend of mine from college. Enjoy.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

William Lobdell

Ever heard of William Lobdell? Probably not. But you should now, because I found this article wonderful and fascinating.

Lobdell is the author of Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America — and Found Unexpected Peace

Some of you may be wondering why I am reading articles and books about a guy who lost his Christian faith. I am a seminary student, right? How is this article going to strengthen my faith? Well, it's not and it didn't. But what it did do was offer me insight into what those who've lost their faith go through, and that's always a fascinating topic. And the subject of our broken and fallen world is always an interesting topic, especially regarding the Catholic Church abuse scandals. Lodbell had the religion beat at the LA Times when the stories first broke.

The article is long, but absolutely worth it. Here's a taste:
In late 2001, I traveled to Salt Lake City to attend a conference of former Mormons. These people lived mostly in the Mormon Jell-O belt – Utah, Idaho, Arizona – so-named because of the plates of Jell-O that inevitably appear at Mormon gatherings.
They found themselves ostracized in their neighborhoods, schools and careers. Often, they were dead to their own families.
If Mormons associate with you, they think they will somehow become contaminated and lose their faith too,” Suzy Colver told me. It’s almost as if people who leave the church don’t exist.”
The people at the conference were an eclectic bunch: novelists and stay-at-home moms, entrepreneurs and cartoonists, sex addicts and alcoholics. Some were depressed, others angry, and a few had successfully moved on. But they shared a common thread: They wanted to be honest about their lack of faith and still be loved.
In most pockets of Mormon culture, that wasn’t going to happen.
Part of what drew me to Christianity were the radical teachings of Jesus – to love your enemy, to protect the vulnerable and to lovingly bring lost sheep back into the fold.
As I reported the story, I wondered how faithful Mormons – many of whom rigorously follow other biblical commands such as giving 10% of their income to the church – could miss so badly on one of Jesus’ primary lessons?
As a side note... I've already been in two arguments in class with students more conservative than me. This is going to be an interesting two years.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pop Culture Quote... Tuesday?

I don't know how much regular blogging I'll have time for in the coming months, but I was reminded today of a great pop culture quote, from a show canceled before it's time

I'd rather be dead in California than alive in Arizona.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

First Thoughts

There are so many thoughts accumulating as I've entered this new life. So many. But I will start here:

In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest:

This is what the LORD Almighty says: "These people say, 'The time has not yet come for the LORD's house to be built.' "

Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?"

Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."

This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the LORD. "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the LORD Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands."
Haggai 1:1-11

This was the passage my new pastor preached on this morning. He's been doing a series called "Little Books that Pack a Big Punch". He began by telling the story of his family in Colorado - they spent a week there mainly for the purpose of hiking. It was rainy, cold, and at one point started to snow (in August). As the sun came out the snow melted, which created ice. (All this while they were trying to hike.) At one point, someone in his family said "I hate this!" They were out that day expecting to have a wonderful time together as a family in the beautiful setting of the Colorado Mountains. Instead they ended up cold, wet and miserable.

I think you might know where I'm going with this.

Sometimes we start with an end goal in mind, usually a goal that will make us happy and a goal that we feel is God's will. We typically want to make the journey to get their a happy one, too. Sometimes that journey is not what you expect it to be. The Israelites were building their own houses and not the Temple. They faced opposition in their initial attempts to rebuild, and assumed it was not God's timing to continue on. So they chose to focus on their own homes instead. When God's blessings didn't increase as their worked on their homes - guess what? Their expectations were not met.

I think God wanted me to hear this message this morning because my journey this far is not what I want it to be, and before I arrived in the sanctuary this morning my heart was frustrated by this. In fact, I was angry and disappointed things weren't going my way.

Then I realized this journey may not be what I expect, and that it may not even be fun. But I must enjoy God, enjoy his people, and remember that following God's will does not always promise a simple or easy road to walk on.


Blessed be your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be your name

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Friday, August 08, 2008

Promise

Wednesday night on my way to church for my last praise team rehearsal, I accidentally took my usual route, forgetting that two weeks ago my usual exit was closed for construction. So instead of taking an alternate route I ended up having to drive about 4-5 miles out of my way. And as I turned the corner and drove down this strange road I realized why.



I was overcome with emotion. (That tends to happen when I'm driving.) I had to pull over, pause, take a picture and let my heart be filled. I don't think I've ever been so scared and so worried about anything in my life as I am about moving to St. Louis, starting a new job and beginning my seminary education. I'm not having second thoughts; I'm not even worried that I might have made the wrong decision. I'm worried about how I will adjust, and how I will make a new and completely different life for myself. I will be desperate for my home, my friends, my family and the comfort my current life provides. I am worried I will let that become too much for me.

So basically, I just think the next two years will be too hard for me handle.

But then this rainbow appeared. It appear in front of me and all five colors were breathtaking and they disappeared up into the clouds. Then God reminded me that this next step is what he made me for, and the joy of what is to come rushed over me.

"Nothing worth doing is ever easy", I wrote years ago in a goodbye letter. And for the last few weeks I'd forgotten that truth. I took the wrong way to praise team rehearsal because God wanted to remind me how much he loves me and how abundant his promises are. He will never leave me nor forsake me, though I've done that to him many times. His grace is enough to cover me...

And I will stand on that promise.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Boys Town Gang

Can't Take My Eyes Off of You



This was the best 4 minutes of my day.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Pop Culture Quote Monday

I brought you in the world and I can take you out.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Reason #4 Why I Love Nebraska



The corn.

The picture was my view as a child. I grew up on a farm, and spent my summers irrigating with my brother. I'd pick up irrigation socks, watch him fix pivots, and driving through corn fields like this one.

When the sweet corn was tasseled out and ready to be "put up" as my grandma would say, we'd gather all the neighbors' kids and whatever cousins would be staying with us for the week and hop on the back of my dad's truck with huge Rubbermaid trash cans. He'd set us loose in the field, with the object of filling up the trash can and dumping it in the back of the truck until it was full. Back and forth we'd go, racing to fill up the truck. Foxtails would stick to the bottoms of our jeans and socks, mud would cake our shoes, and the early morning breeze would keep us cool... but not clean.

I remember the smell of raw sweet corn... sweet and juicy. But the smell of the cornfield always made me sneeze and by the time the back of the truck was full I would be stuffed-up and miserable.

Dad would drive us back home after the truck was overflowing with picked corn. We'd sit on the edges of the pickup's back end and we'd start shucking away, watching the husks and silk blow away in the wind. In the back of the truck we'd stay, until all the corn was shucked. Then I'd get stuck cleaning the corn in the ice cold water... brushing and scrubbing the silk away. (It drove me crazy!).

10 minutes of boiling and another 10 minutes of cooling later, the electric knife would come out, and the corn would come off the cob and be vacuumed sealed into bags for freezing. Piles and piles of bags are what I remember... and the smell of cooked sweet corn. And sticky hands. Really sticky hands.

I will miss the corn.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pop Culture Quote Monday

There's a song that they sing when they take to the highway
A song that they sing when they take to the sea
A song that they sing of their home in the sky
Maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep
But singing works just fine for me

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dark Knight



I've never been one for the comic book movie. But after all the raves and all the friends who'd seen the latest Batman installment, when the chance to go this afternoon popped up, I decided, "why not?"

What I didn't expect was to really be moved, and aside from being moved also see so many spiritual themes. The battle between good and evil is an obvious one, but this movie takes it to a deeper level, exploring the human condition, the state of our hearts, and rising to find the much-needed hope of a community of people.

It was hard for me at times to not stop and appreciate the genius I was seeing on screen. Heath Ledger as the Joker really is definitive. Horribly creepy and unsettling. He makes your skin crawl. The constant flicking tongue, the haunting eyes, that voice... had I not known it was Ledger I'm certain I wouldn't have recognized him. Gone was the signature husky voice and the twinkle in his eyes... it was replaced with a slow, deliberate cadence-like speak and his eyes held the hollow-emptiness of the Joker's sad life. I went in knowing of the Oscar talk and thinking "He'll just win because he died." I came out of the theater knowing that it would be a shame if he wasn't nominated. His performance is brilliant.

I don't want to spoil anyone, so I won't write anymore. (Although it's killing me... so many great questions to ponder. But I can't without giving anything away!) It's best to go into a movie like this completely spoiler-free, to be shocked at the turn of events... to relish in the unpredictability.

I highly recommend going to see it. I will be surprised if I attend a better movie this year.

Reason #3 Why I Love Nebraska

I get to openly mock this:



Because it rightfully deserves to be mocked. Mercilessly. Seriously, the crazy finger-pointing alone is worth 10 minutes of mocking.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Four Truths I Must Remember

You have control over only two things:

How you treat yourself and how you treat others.

_______________________________________________________________


There are two things you cannot control:

How others treat you and how others treat themselves.

... passed on to me from my pastor. Good stuff.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pop Culture Quote Monday

First of all, I must say Mamma Mia! was incredible. Really. Just as good as the stage show. Meryl Streep rocks my sauce... girl can belt it.

This is not an easy one, but anyone with a twisted sense of humor adores this movie:

Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reason #2 Why I Love Nebraska



This town: Kearney. It's where I've lived for the last eight years, and the place I will say goodbye to in four short weeks. Many things about this town drive me crazy. But many things don't. I choose to focus on the things that don't.

1.) You can talk to a complete stranger for 5 minutes while waiting for pizza at Valentino's, and it doesn't feel weird. (Just did that tonight.)

2.) Everywhere you go takes 15 minutes.

3.) I love that I found a place to live within walking distance of where I work, walking distance of my grocery store, AND walking distance of a recycling center.

4.) Barista's Daily Grind. Yum.

5.) Redmond's, the best shoe store ever. So small and old school they don't even have a website.

6.) When we have a tornado it's all we talk about for the next 3 days. And 15 people call you to see if you are okay.

7.) I don't know why I love this so much, but I love that my dumpster gets blown away every time it's windy and storms, and my neighbor Tom always puts it back.

8.) I used to work at this company. There are so many people that work or have worked there that I now work with two of them at my current job. And I almost always see one other former colleague from said company each week, whether it's at Target, a gas station or elsewhere.

9.) The Sandhill Cranes

10.) The best place to get a raspberry ale, whose raspberries where grown by a friend of mine.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pop Culture Quote Monday

You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is: "Never get involved in a land war in Asia." But, only slightly less well known is this: "Never go in against a Sicilian, when death is on the line!"

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Reason #1 Why I Love Nebraska



Legacy Milk comes out of Hallam, NE. They use glass bottles that you can return to the store (Environmentally-friendly! Yea!), they have crazy-fun flavors like Cotton Candy and Root Beer. You pay a little extra, but it completely worth it. They don't use any growth-hormones, and it just tastes good.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Infliction



The troubadours wrote songs and poetry, mainly centering around the themes of love and chivalry. One theme that has always struck me was their idea that the wound a person suffers can only be healed by the one who inflicted it.

Richard Wagner, a German composer, eludes to the idea that the only way to right a wrong is go back to the time when the wrong decision is made and thus, make the right one. In his opera, Parsifal, Wagner composed a song, probably based on the troubadours theme, called "The Wound Is Healed Only by the Spear That Smote You".

The idea that a wound can only be healed by the inflicter makes logical sense to me. I'm a fan of logic, for even in the most grey and philosophical area logic helps my mind organize everything. But is there truth in this statement? I imagine there would be plenty of Christians shouting "no!" to this idea, because of the truth that God heals our wounds.

But is it really that simple?

Last summer I was able to sit across from and have lunch with a friend who wounded me deeply. Very deeply. He never said he was sorry; to my knowledge he doesn't even think he hurt me. I had to consciously seek out the strength of God to forgive him. I did it not only because Jesus says to do it, but also for my own emotional well-being. Holding a grudge is no good - and hurts you more than the person did you harm.

I was only able to sit at that table because God worked in my heart to make sure there were no more ill feelings towards him. It would have been easier, I think, had my friend just apologized. But he didn't. I had to readjust my thinking - that forgiving isn't saying what the person did was okay. But rather, forgiveness is saying that it hurt me, and I need to release them.

Who am I to say that God doesn't heal all our wounds? No one. I'm not saying that he can't, but I am saying that we sometimes don't let him.

The idea of healing a wound is especially interesting to me. Can any of our wounds compare to the wounds Christ felt on that Friday so many years ago? Or the wounds he suffered the night before when one of his own betrayed him with a holy kiss? Or course not, but that doesn't make our wounds any less real. And if we are really honest with ourselves - even if we think we are healed - even if we feel healed - seeing the person who inflicted that wound is hard. It can cause your heart to twinge and your stomach to ache. And I realize that as I sit here trying to make a point that both the troubadours and God can be right at the same time, that I have a much stronger argument for God being right - because of my own experience. The one who wounded me had NOTHING to do with my being healed. That was all God, and me working really hard to forgive.

Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Jeremiah 30:17
But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,' declares the LORD, 'because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.'

Hosea 6:1
Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.

1 Peter 2:24
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

Monday, July 07, 2008

I'm frustrated!



I've been to a lot of sporting events and a lot of ceremonies where the American Anthem was played. Not once did I place my hand over my heart. I haven't done that since I said the pledge of allegiance in high school.

I guess that makes me an unpatriotic Muslim running for president.

In all seriousness, I am SO tired of getting emails about Barack Obama. The ignorance with which it is forwarded drives me crazy. It makes me want to make up an outlandish story about someone then forward it to all my friends as if it were gospel, just to see how long it takes to get back to me.

I love this country and the people in it, but man... we are ignorant sometimes.

Pop Culture Quote Monday

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you

Friday, July 04, 2008

Reasons

An appropriate post from Jan at the view from her (I'm particularly fond of #5, #8 and #14):

Reasons I love living in the U.S.A. on our 232nd birthday:

1. The 4th of July. Barbecue, parades, sparklers, fireworks.
2. We have the prettiest flag.
3. You can drive anywhere without asking permission. Even across state lines. And stay as long as you want.
4. Blue jeans.
5. You can love or hate books like The Shack, or The DaVinci Code, but they're not forbidden.
6. We have real cowboys.
7. And Indians.
8. You can freely mock the President. I think we take that for granted.
9. The Freedom of Information Act. Our government will actually give you information about itself.
10. You can send a letter to any one of over 111 million homes, and it will be delivered to precisely the right one in only about two days, for just 42 cents.
11. New England clam chowder.
12. Alaska and Hawaii.
13. You can have as many children as you want.
14. Libraries. All the free books you can read. (6 at a time.)
15. Thanksgiving Day.
16. The Bill of Rights.
17. You can paint your house any color you want. Unless of course you live in a California homeowner's association.
18. Baseball.
19. An efficient sewage system.
20. Microsoft and Apple. (Like I would link to Microsoft.)
22. Jazz.
23. Gospel music.
24. Rock 'n Roll.
24. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..."

Monday, June 30, 2008

Pop Culture Quote Monday

No, no, he didn't slam you, he didn't bump you, he didn't nudge you... he rubbed you. And rubbin, son, is racin'.

Meredith - if you don't know this one, we've got a little cousin that won't think you are a very good family member!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Setting it Down

I've been making my way through Season One of Joan of Arcadia on DVD, an amazing show that ran on CBS from 2003-2005. And it's cancellation is the reason I won't watch CBS anymore. (Unless Bright Eyes is on Letterman... I gave in for 10 minutes just once. I've also really come to love How I Met Your Mother, but luckily there are several Chinese websites where I can watch it.)

Anyway, Joan of Arcadia is one of the few shows I liked enough to buy the DVD set. I haven't seen the episodes since I first bought the set, so seeing them all again is just a reminder of what a great writer Barbara Hall is, and what a great cast it had - Mary Steenburgen, Amyber Tamblyn (daughter of Russ Tamblyn from West Side Story), Jason Ritter, Becky Wahlstrom.

Joan sees God. He comes to her in different forms - Lunch Lady God, Cute Boy God, Little Girl God, Goth Guy God. He asks her to do things. He never tells her why, at least not in a straight-forward manner. He just tells her what to do and sometimes tells her what she might learn from it. When she finished what she was supposed to do, she is able to see that following in the footsteps of God may not be easy, but it's always better than if she chose another option.

Tonight I watched an episode where the following was said by "Little Girl God"

Everyone has a part of themselves they don't like, Joan. You carry it around like a weight. The lucky ones realize that when it becomes too heavy, you can choose to set it down.

Sometimes I feel like we allow our lives to center around the parts of ourselves we don't like. We are constantly focusing on the things we could have done better or the parts of ourselves that are flawed that we want to make perfect.

It's almost easier to live like that, isn't it?

When we do, no one can say that we aren't trying and no one can say that we aren't self-aware. No one can judge us because we're "working on it." But I've recently come to realize that focusing on all those self-improvement projects can become a form of worship. Not the good kind - because it puts all the focus on us. And what is this life all about? Jesus. Not us.

To dwell on those negative things not only puts a giant weight on your shoulders, but it has an effect on those around you. There is nothing good about constantly seeing the bad, especially when you have to choice to do something different.

Setting down the weight of what we don't like about ourselves is an act of surrender. But even more importantly it's an act of the will. It's intentional, specific and maybe even contrary to what we think we make us happier. But setting it down really is the only thing that will help us find the heart of who we really are.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I've been a bad blogger...

I have 8... count 'em 8 posts started and haven't finished a single one. Too much going on and not enough time to write. That's frustrating! Bad blogger.

My friend Shannon convinced me to join facebook a while back and it seems like everyone and their dog is there now. A bunch of friends from college I'd lost touch with have found me right and left, which is good. And bad, in a way. Because it makes me all sentimental and weepy.

Anyway, I received a facebook message from a good friend from those college days. She was hurting, and I could tell. So I sent her a message and I got a reply tonight. In my reply, I wrote: "All the ups and down never seem to go away, do they? I thought once I become a real adult that things would be so easier to figure out."

I've experienced a lot of ups and down lately. Joy and fun with friends and family. Sad goodbyes that have started already, and I'm not even moving until the middle of August. But more than anything there's been questions. Questions wondering "Will I get this job or that job or night? Will I be able to handle seminary? Will I make friends in St. Louis? Will I miss my family so much that it will hurt? Will I...? Will I... Will I..."

I'm tired of living in the future. I'm tired of waiting for the next thing to start. I'm just ready to be. Here. Now.

I'm tired of all the "Will I's".

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pop Culture Quote Monday

Pop quiz, hotshot. There's a bomb on a bus.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

DANCE...DANce...DAnce...Dance...dance...



Two summers ago I discovered what a reality show junkie I could be when I discovered So You Think You Can Dance. (Incidentally I haven't watched American Idol in two years... so does that mean it balances out? I think it's been two years. I don't know. I stopped watching when Taylor Hicks won. And I actually kinda liked him. I know... *shame*)

The format for SYTYCD is like this: the show producers and judges choose a top 20 after auditions - 10 guys and 10 girls. Then get paired up making sure that none of the couples together specialize in the same type of dance. Each week they draw a style from a hat, then have two days to learn a dance in that style.

Many of the couples this year are really, really good. But I do have two favorite couples so far. Couple 1 is Josh and Katee (Josh specializes in hip-hop dancing and Katee is a jazz dancer.)





The second couple includes a popper and a contemporary dancer, Kherington and Twich.

I'm sorry for the Celine Dion music. My ears are typically a Celine-free zone, but despite all that the dance is really touching.




I also really loved this dance below. The choreographer said "it's what it would be like if Tim Burton got married". Awesome.


Fox tends to take these down right away, so don't be surprised if the links are broken after a few days.

Also, The Evolution of Dance from a comedic perspective:


It's hits it's stride about 3:00, but I probably only think that because that's when my era of music starts. (Ice, Ice Baby rocks my sauce.)

So this is my summer guilty pleasure and my shameful admission for the week. What can I say? I am what I am. Ooo! Pop culture quote, anyone? Who said it?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Teen Pregnancy in Gloucester, Massachusetts

Holy Crap

I would not normally used such an unrefined phrase, but I must say this calls for it.

HT: Shane

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Intimacy of Truth

I'm not usually a supporter of the repeated line in contemporary worship. It is an often over-used element in the cycle of a song, and tends to frustrate several people - in particular those who are fans of the traditional hymn, young or old in years. But there is a time when a repeat has it's place.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?"
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."

The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"

Jesus felt the need to ask Peter three times "Do you love me?" Did Jesus ask that question three times so he could remind Peter to feed his sheep? Perhaps. But I'd like to think he asked that question three times because it is the very center of our walk with Christ. This simple and profound question does not have a simple answer, because the answer is one that defines us. The answer is one that cannot be taken lightly, because before we answer a serious amount of self-examination must take place.

It is said that in the time of classical music when the composer stopped using words to accompany the notes and simply asked the vocalist to sing a non-word, such as "ah" or "ooo" that this moment in the song symbolized the writer was beyond words. The emotion of what they were writing overcame them to the point of near speechlessness; they could say nothing else.

I would liken this phenomena in classical music to the usefulness of repeating something over and over again. Like a question "Do you love me?" or a the line of a song "We will never be the same". Is it to let it sink in? Eh. That's simplifying it. To drive the truth home? Sure, but we are still only scratching the surface here.

After all falls apart
he repairs he repairs

Oh the Glory of it all is:
he came here
for the rescue of us all
that we may live
for the glory of it all

oh he is here
for redemption from the fall
that we may live
for the glory of it all
oh the glory of it all
the glory of it all
oh the glory of it all

After night
comes the light
dawn is here
dawn is here
it’s a new day
it’s a new day
everything will change
things will never be the same
we will never be the same

-The Glory of it All by David Crowder Band

What have I been writing about for three years? Restoration. Change. With each moment of restoration there is one thing I can always count on: that I will be drawn closer to him. And that's what the occasional repeated lyric does for me. I learn more about him, I see his heart in a new way, I become more like him. That's an emotional thing... sometimes even beyond words. And in this time of worship I become able to ask myself those difficult and intimate questions, so that when I am faced with a question such as

Do you love me?
Do you love me?
Do you love me?

...I know the answer. I know it deep within my soul. And I will forever be changed.


We will never be the same
We will never be the same
We will never be the same
We will never be the same

Pop Culture Quote Monday

You're gonna need a bigger boat.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Pop Culture Quote Monday

Answer: Friends "The One After Vegas"
______________________
"This is not a marriage -- this is the world's worst hangover!"

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Struggling

For most of my life I've struggled.

Emotionally.

I have a family who loves me and I grew up in a very happy home. I didn't struggle that way. (And I feel a little guilty for even calling what I experience every day a "struggle" when I know that struggle is simply a relative thing. I have no idea what real struggling is - I only know what struggling feels like for me.)

The reason I "struggle" all boils down to one thing: all I want to do is live my life as God wants me to. Why is that a struggle? Because it seems like that's not how I'm built. I realize what a great case this makes for not believing or trusting or following God... after all, if we were meant to follow him, it wouldn't be difficult, would it? It wouldn't go against our nature. Those are valid points, and points I will gladly address in the future if anyone wants me to, but they are not the point of my post.

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

Come on, God... what is so joyful about facing trials? NOTHING! It sucks! It breaks you down, tears you up, breaks your heart. IT HURTS.

Yeah, yeah. It makes me a better person. I get it. It still sucks.

This is what I'm talking about. The push/pull. The against nature thing. But then I realize something quite profound. I seek improvement in myself. I look for ways I'm weak and try to make that part of myself stronger. I seek it out. And it's not because I'm a masochist; it's because it's in my nature.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4


God uses the struggles of his people to strengthen them and to refresh others. God uses that struggling to produce in us holiness.


What is at the end of the journey?

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!

My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.

Selah

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty;
listen to me, O God of Jacob.

Selah

Look upon our shield, O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.

Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.

O LORD Almighty,
blessed is the man who trusts in you.


-Psalm 84

This is a psalm filled with satisfaction. It's filled with faith that God is good, and the knowledge that when you seek after him you will be better off.

Dearest Heavenly Father,

I would rather spend one day living for you than a thousand living in the world I've concocted for myself, even if that means a struggle. It all comes down to this: You know better than me. And I have to trust that.

Amen

Thursday, June 05, 2008

More Pop Culture - Swingtown



I stopped watching CBS a few years ago (call it a boycott if you will) but I am not immune from the commercials they air on other channels. I'm a Bravo watcher through and through, and a little fanatic about Top Chef. Last night during part one of the Top Chef Season finale I saw an ad for a new CBS show, Swingtown.



All I can say is... yikes. Has it really come to this?

I'm in a pop culture mood this week...

I heard Coldplay was making a "comeback" (the quotation marks are tongue in cheek ... doesn't it seem like all albums are comebacks?). I wondered if Gwyneth was yoko-ing the group, or if there was something else was going on.

I have a love/hate relationship with Coldplay. Some of their music I dig. And I dug it before they got really big. Yellow rocks my sauce. Fix You indulges the co-dependant in me, and I looooove "The Scientist". But Clocks was overdone and Don't Panic just bugged me. The bigger they got, the more they felt pretentious. Then their music felt pretentious... so I stopped listening. Who knows if I'll start again. Here's here the point of my post:

Has anyone seen this commercial? Viva La Vida?



I'm getting this epic feeling... like they are going to hit U2 status. Which frightens me a little, because you don't mess with my U2. No one is a good as them. (Maybe it's just the commonality of the itunes endorsements). But Viva La Vida is a song I'm kinda diggin'.

But you're not U2 yet, Coldplay. Not even close. Stop messing with my head!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Pop Culture Quote MOnday

Update:
Hint: This movie has an all-star cast including Madeline Kahn and Tim Curry.
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[snip]... you were once a professor of psychiatry, specializing in helping paranoid and homicidal lunatics suffering from delusions of grandeur.

Yes, but now I work for the United Nations

So, your work has not changed.

Monday, June 02, 2008

If this doesn't scare you a little...

... not much will.



When the tornado is at 10 o'clock, they are approximately 6 blocks west of where I live.

Here's photo of the storm itself:

Friday, May 30, 2008

Tornadoes in Kearney




Tornadoes in My City

Video of One of the Tornadoes (Storm chasers are crazy!)

Video Footage of the Damage

I'm alive. Maybe a little worse for the wear. Yes, train cars did get derailed and cars did land on top of one another.

Here's a video of the photos I've taken so far.



video

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pop Culture Quote Monday

Hint #1: Won 5 Oscars in 1979.
Hint #2: The character who said this was played by Dustin Hoffman.

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"Daddy, you've really lost a lot of weight", he looks up at me and he says "And it's all gone to your nose."