Year of Tears

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I've officially decided. 2009 is going to be my Year of Tears.
Does that sound pessimistic of me? I don't mean it to, and I actually feel rather positive and hopeful about it at the moment. For one thing, I know I can succeed at crying alot this year...(chuckling now).
You see, I've spent this morning, this last day of 2008 trying to decide how best to face 2009. I somehow can't bring myself to do the whole, "it's a grand new beginning" thing. Not again. I don't have the heart to make hopeful goals about a year that is shrouded in more darkness and unknowns than I can ever remember facing before. I'd like to say it's going to be the Year of Hope, but i said that in 2007. I did learn to hope that year...still the same unfulfilled promises. In 2008 I believed God was going to teach me about Joy. The Year of Joy. Still hoping for that too :-) I'm beginning to learn, but Joy still eludes me all too often. So as I look ahead to 2009, I don't have any grand expectations about God's work in my life...except for this.

I cried again today at the feelings of hopelessness and joylessness and aloneness that I have to fight off everyday still. I get so frustrated that I have to fight so hard and the tears just come unbidden. But as I sat with my head in my hands, drops tumbling off the tip of my nose, a thought popped in my head. A verse actually. Psalm 126:6 "He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him." I've gotten good at weeping and it has occurred to me at other times that perhaps my tears are watering seed, somehow, somewhere. I remember that there is something in scripture about God storing up our tears...and I can't find it right this second so help me out if you know where it is, but it gives you the feeling that he values our tears somehow, saves them up. I must have an ocean somewhere. Maybe it's useful. Maybe.

So I realize that I do have plenty of sowing to do in the year to come. That's part of what I feel so discouraged about today. We'll be helping to start a new church plant in the weeks to come, having seen the final deeply painful demise of the beautiful work we put our hands, shoulders, hearts into a mere 5 years ago. It's hard today to feel energetic about doing it all over again from scratch...less than scratch, in many ways. But we do both believe this is where our dear Lord wants us, for better or worse and so...we have work to do. Sowing work. Hard work. I feel overwhelmed, and then I think, "but I am going out with seeds to sow, and golly...I am so good at crying!!!" And so I've decided. 2009 is going to be my Year of Tears. I will cry gladly, because I go out carrying seeds to sow and the promise says that if I sow them in tears, I reap them in joy. Everytime it gets hard and frustrating enough to turn the tears on, I'll remember the seeds that I'm sowing. Everytime I feel that rejection and loss so sharply that I weep all over again, I'll remember the seeds that I'm sowing and be glad for the tears.

That's how I'll spend my 2009. It feels nice to know I'll be good at it.
I'll be investing in some waterproof mascara. Anyone know of a good one?


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Often I don't know what it means when I hear the instruction to praise. I know that sounds ridiculous coming from someone who once dreamed of leading worship, who even went to college to study it... I suppose maybe now is the time to learn what it means to praise Him.
I do have this one piece. This song is the first thing that springs from my heart whenever I search it for the praise that should be lodged there by now. I know the things that are true of my God and saying them out loud...they are praise to me.

Unshakeable, Immovable
Faithful and true
Full of wisdom, grace and beauty
These things are true of You

Fearless, courageous

You stand up for Justice and truth
Yet you love mercy
You laid down your life
These things are true of you

Patient, compassionate
Love flows through you
You never give up
On the hopeless ones
These things are true of you

And as I turn my face to you
Oh Lord I ask and pray
By the power of your love and grace
Make these things true of me too
Make these things true of me too.

For those who know the song...I know I've mixed up the lyrics, not on purpose. It's the way they spring from my heart. They are so beautiful to me, these ideas of courage and fearlessness that bring Him to stand for justice and truth juxtaposed next to the Mercy that took him to the cross for those truths. What a dreadful thing to ask Him to make these things true of me too. I'm starting to see the weight of such a request in this ugly broken world. But I ask just the same. Make me courageous, compassionate, merciful to the point of death on the cross.
By the power of your love and grace
Make these things true of me too...
Make these things true of me too.

Snow Storm

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My facebook status said I was going to be baking Christmas cookies today, but it's almost 5pm now and I never got started. Some days are like that. More than I care to admit, I guess.
So instead, I think I'll pass a little time between things thinking about storms.

We're due for another winter storm tonight, this one is supposed to last until Monday. I have a friend in town from Seattle and I'm hoping for a miracle...a miracle that looks like she's stranded here for Christmas and we have to send for her husband to fly down and they celebrate here...with the snow...with Chai and Smoked Prime Rib! I'm hoping. Could happen :-)

We had a storm on Thursday and that's what got me thinking about it. When I think of storms, I think of noise and rain and wind and fear. And when you talk about "the storms of this life", don't you think of really hard and painful times and sorrow and stuff? Really tough times...? That's why it struck me as so odd when I was standing at my window on Thursday watching the beautiful huge flakes falling and listening to the "storm warnings" on the radio. The dichotomy of it struck and intrigued me. I mean, I guess it was a storm, that's what the reports were calling it and they were advising us to stay home if we could. This is what a winter storm looks like. Snow on snow. But the thing is... it was so silent, so beautiful...and honestly...such a treat. Because I was standing inside my upstairs window snuggled up to a giant cup of Sumatra. I was safe and warm and loving the way this storm was about to change my world, wash it in white perfection.

And then I realized, the only difference between a storm that tears my life apart and a storm like today's, a wonder and a rare gift... the only difference is in the shelter where I stand. There are people outside today, I'm painfully aware of that. And for them today's storm is a dread and horror. Some of them will lose fingers and toes from the cold, some will lose their lives. It happened last year, it will happen again. Bend is cold in the winter. The wind and ice will blow through their makeshift tents; this storm will wrench through their lives like a cruel thief, because the shelter they are relying on is lacking. For me though, (and I hope this doesn't sound self-centerd. I do believe we have to do what we can to help the ones without adequate shelter...) this storm will bring me some much coveted family time and more of that dark roasted Sumatra, laughter and cheer. There's even a chance it could bring me a miracle gift of time with my friends from Seattle! All this in a very real storm, fully loaded with storm warnings and road advisories, but only because my shelter is adequate...that's an understatement. My shelter is glorious on a day like today, 5 days before Christmas.

I remember a friend once commenting about the idea in the Psalms of God being a "shelter" and how he had never known God as his shelter, didn't really understand what that meant. I remember that I didn't understand it back then either. I suppose I'd never had life storms heavy enough to demonstrate my true need for a shelter, but I have now. I've faced a few storms standing out in them, a few storms trying to make a shelter out of my own sorry excuse for a raincoat. But now I'm learning to face my storms with a cup of coffee and a joyful hope. My God is a shelter. He made this storm too...even the one brewing this very day. Today's particular life storm will blow and rage just like the others, maybe worse, maybe better. Some will lose much in it. I will lose nothing that I wasn't meant to lose, because my shelter, my Jesus, stands firm. I am safe in his protection. Even if I have to brave the cold for a while, he will be a warm fire for me when I come in to Him. The severity of our storms are completely dependant on the stability of our shelter.

Now I know what the Psalmist meant, and I think it's beautiful
Psalm 27:5
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

Psalm 31:20
In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues. (What a gift this one is to me today!)

Psalm 55:8
I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.

Psalm 91:1
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

And when this storm is over... another gift awaits me. Some sort of blanket of white perfection, a gift of water, susetenance, beauty. I'm truly learning to love storms, even the ones that really rage.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

He's been reminding me often lately to praise Him. I don't do it enough. Singing is such a sharp reminder to me of just how broken I am, and I avoid it. But when I do, His truth crashes in on me like an avalanche and I realize why he keeps telling me to praise him.

He has been faithful. He will be faithful. He does not change. And I do. What a lovely truth.

This road is steep. This way is narrow. But I have not been forgotten here.

Faithful One
by Selah
I find no hope within to call my own
For I am frail of heart, my strength is gone
But deep within my soul is rising up a song
Here in the comfort of the faithful one

I walk a narrow road through valleys deep
In search of higher ground, on mountains steep
And though with feet unsure, I still keep pressing on.
For I am guided by the faithful one.

Faithful, faithful to the end,
My true and precious friend,
You have been faithful, Faithful,
so faithful to me

I see your wounded hands,
I touch your side With thorns upon your brow you bled and died
But there’s an empty tomb, a love for all who come
And give their hearts to you, the faithful one.

Faithful, faithful to the end,
My true and precious friend,
You have been faithful, Faithful,
so faithful to me

And when the day is dawned and when the race is run
I will bow down before God’s only Son
And I will lift my hands in praise for all you’ve done
And I will worship you, my faithful one.

Another year

Monday, December 01, 2008

come and gone.
I pray it was a happy one.

"Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad"
~C. Rosetti.

I smile sometimes in remembering, but if in forgetting you smile, I pray you forget. I remember.
And wish for you happiness on your day.

Strays for Thanksgiving

Friday, November 28, 2008

One of my favorite things to do is to pick up strays for Thanksgiving. Mom is always careful to clarify..." mean...well, umm. You mean people you know right?" Yeah. It's always people I know who for one reason or another don't have anything to do on Turkey day, but there have been years when I was tempted to just pick someone up off the street. Never truly brave enough, but tempted :-) I can't always find strays to bring home on Thanksgiving, but this was a truly blessed year and we had some FANTASTIC ones!

April and Matt were missionaries for a year in China and we love getting together with them over good food, or tea, or board games anyway. What better day for all of the above than Thanksgiving?

Then there's Miss Beth.
Could she be any cuter? Beth is a sign language interpreter at Juniper Elementary (a vocation that I find really fascinating for some reason) and also my dear "Michla's" new roomie! She had other invitations and chose lucky are we? She did end up on the losing Taboo team, however. I hope she won't hold that against us :-)
But we had one other stray this year, and I'm sorry to all my human friends, but this particular one...was my favorite.

This little love is my new friend "Fluffy". Yes. I know Fluffy is a ridiculous name for a dear, and I was actually teasing when I started calling her that. She just stood outside our back window all afternoon in her fuzzy winter coat. She would never run when we came out or made loud noises, but just stood there looking longingly in. So as I stood at the kitchen window doing dishes I started to talk to her, like I do the strange "bird" characters that Mom and Dad get at their place too. "Oh hi Fluffy. Fluffy! You're just standing there so lonely. I'm going to call you Fluffy. Fluffy you can be my pet...are you hungry for turkey Fluffy?" And that's when the idea struck me. I grew up out here and we've had deer in the yard all my life, but never once have I had the inclination (or opportunity) to try feeding one (on anything but the newly budded spring tulips). But this little sweetie was a stray on Thanksgiving day. I couldn't resist trying. Opened the door, tossed out a carrot. She took it gladly. Tossed out another, then one more on the deck this time. By the fourth carrot I was sitting on the deck reaching my hand to her. She had the tiniest little teeth and wouldn't just snatch the carrot. She would put her little nose in my hand and lick me a few times. She likes me. The boys got to feed her a couple carrots too, but she wasn't as crazy about them. You shouldn't feed wild deer. It makes life dangerous for them around hunting season. That's sad. But I have a feeling this one has been fed before. And still, she chose our house for Thanksgiving. We were very glad to have you, Fluffy!

I'm a blessed girl, i am!


Friday, November 21, 2008

If you send your boys out for Friday morning coffee and they arrive home with these... makes you think maybe you'll send your boys out form morning coffee again next week!

Something about Forgiveness

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I read something in Oswald this morning that sort of stuck with me. He was talking about how if we think God forgives us because He's just so good hearted and kind then we've sort of got it all wrong. The Bible doesn't support that idea, Oswald says. He says that the thing to keep in mind about forgiveness is that Christ sacrificed His life and God forgives us based on that alone...not because He's a cosmic "nice-guy". I don't deserve God's forgiveness, but if he doesn't offer it to me now, after all that was spent, it's His own Son's precious sacrifice that He's devaluing more so than even His "kind" Heavenly Father character. He will not devalue His Son's sacrifice, and so He forgives me over and over and over. Always will. Because Jesus paid. I think that's a really beautiful idea and I was glad to ponder it this morning.

And as usually happens when God's thoughts find my heart in the morning, I needed this idea by the end of the day. I have to forgive the ones who hurt me over and over and over again, daily in fact. And quite frankly, I'm sick of it. I'm sick of them. I'm sick of the pain. It's really hard to forgive someone who isn't sorry, who thinks they did nothing wrong and to keep forgiving over and over. It seems like I should be able to at least wait to do all this darn forgiveness work until they say they're sorry or at least until they stop hurting me. "But He demonstrated His own love for us in this...that while we were YET sinners, Christ died for us." Leave it to Jesus to set the bar high (grin). He paid the forgiveness bill before I was ever sorry for what I'd done. And I'm expected to at least try to be like Him, at least to try.

So there it is. I am called upon to forgive again. Somedays I'm all noble and lovely and I can say that I truly want to forgive them simply because that's the person I want to be and Christ will give me the strength. Today I can't say that. I don't want to forgive. I don't. I'm weary and I want my sorrows to vanish as if they never were at all. I feel like hating, or at least rolling my eyes in disdain. So I sit thinking I might do that for a little while (as if I'm contemplating indulging in just one more brownie) and then I remember about Oswald and how God quickened those ideas to my heart this morning. And I realize that if I decide not to forgive now, I'm not devaluing my own character or niceness as much as I'm devaluing the sacrifice of my dear Jesus. And gosh, I can't bring myself to do that, at least not on purpose. He paid so, so much to buy forgiveness, so that His Father could give it freely, so that He could give it freely, so that I could give it freely.

My Jesus, I forgive today because you do. And I'm grateful that you didn't consider it too much to pay even though I wasn't even sorry yet. I'll put your purchase to the best use I can. Today I'll forgive them because of who You are.

hope deferred

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On Monday night I went to a small girls get-together at Tina's house. A decorator moved up from Texas with a house from the "Victorian" magazine. All pink toile and chandeliers. There were little cucumber sandwiches on silver platters and petite lemon bars covered in powdered sugar that made you cough when you accidentally took a breath while biting into one. A couple of sweet voiced guests including a 5 year old named Eleanor, and a beautiful ballet staged at the Paris Opera house playing on the little TV in the corner. That's how I know Tina. She is one of the lovelier ladies that I dance with on Thursdays. I've been dancing for a little over 3 years now and most faces come and go fairly quickly, (ballet is hard...) but Jen and Tina and I have been regular for some time ...and of course always there is the sweet encouraging face of DeeDee, our beloved teacher.

DeeDee went to Malta in October and none of us were quite sure where that was so we insisted when she got back that we would all get together to hear stories and yearn over the pictures. It turns out Malta is an island in the Mediterranean...actually the island where Paul the Apostle was shipwrecked, a little fact that I find SO intriguing! We looked at tourist books and pictures for a good 2 hours and if there wasn't enough to adore about DeeDee already, I now want to travel to amazing places and share quirky cultural experiences with her too. Oh the amazing interesting things I learned about Malta, and about DeeDee too, I guess.

As the evening wound down and the other guests left, it was just the 4 of us "ballet girls" sitting crooning over those phenomenal pirouettes and gran jete's the little French ballerinas were doing for us on the TV in the corner, and the discussion turned, of course, to dance. Dancer's feet, to be more specific. I guess a pointe ballerina's feet are quite ugly. All knobby and torn up and bunyon-y, according to DeeDee. It makes sense. They're spinning and balancing on the ends of their toes for hours at a time every day wearing nothing but a few scraps of cardboard and satin ribbon and really now, feet just weren't made to do that. I asked lots of questions, because frankly, I've never looked closely at a real dancer's feet and I've never tried on a pair of Pointe shoes. So I'm told that dancing, the really beautiful kind of dancing is a painful, bloody, sacrificial kind of business. Not just anyone is cut out to do it and apparently the dancing through the blisters and injuries is part of the refining, weeding out, "do you really have what it takes" process of becoming a Company dancer. These days there are better shoes, gel inserts, all sorts of things that could help improve the lives of those little feet in Pointe shoes, but no "respectable Company" would allow any of that. The blood and pain is a necessary rite of passage for a real dancer, as I understand it.

It's my secret dream to dance Pointe someday...with no one watching of course. I just want to own a pair of the pretty shoes and dance something really lovely, maybe just once. Just for the mirror, and maybe my Best Friend, the one that gave me the feet in the first place. But man, who knew it would come with ugly feet and blisters and medical tape to keep from getting my pretty shoes all bloody.
That was Monday night.

On Tuesday night I had another little event to attend. This was actually just the storyline culmination for my precious little kindergartners. They were doing a play about the Owl who was afraid of the Dark. Too cute to miss. It was short, only 45 minutes tops. But there was something else about Tuesday night. Something in no way related to my kinders, but a very small thing about the event that gave me a very small reason to have a very small hope about a long and difficult sorrow that I've had to face bravely for what feels like eternity. So like I always do, I let hope have it's little morning in the sun. I hoped for the best. And I was disappointed, not surprisingly. My faith and questions don't do their topsy-turvy whirlwinds anymore like they used to do every time my hopes were dashed. More often now, my Jesus and I just talk things over and that's what we did on the way home.

"I trust you. This is the way things are and I accept them Lord."
"I don't like the way things are any better than you do, Jennie" he tells me, "but keep on trusting. I'll work this all out. Do you trust me?"
I nod sincerely. "I don't want you to take any shortcuts at all of this just because it's hard for me, I want you to have your way," I tell him honestly, and probably more courageously than I actually feel.
And then He gives His peace once again and I go home and instead of crying myself to sleep this time, I pick up a nice little novel called "Sundays at Tiffany's" and read my self-absorbed thoughts away. It's a nice little far, i guess.

As I'm washing up for bed I'm quoting to myself one more time the verse from Proverbs. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." I don't know why I quote that one, but it always gives me a strange sort of comfort. It doesn't really fall under the category of "Godly wisdom" and doesn't offer any sort of advice about how to handle the crummy situation or anything. It just hears me and acknowledges me..."yeah, you have a sick heart because your hope was deferred one more time. I know. I know," it tells me. And somehow the fact that it's written there in Proverbs makes it ok that my heart is a little sick today. That's when I remember the conversation with DeeDee about the shoes and the blisters and what it takes to be a real dancer, the kind that can perform the dances that make you cry at the strength and beauty of them. I've been the silly girl who cried watching the ballet before, I know. And I've come to believe that this deferred hope is the same sort of thing. It's like blisters and bunyons and bloody toes, sometimes sprains and bruises and I have to just tape them up, put on the pretty shoes and keep right on trying, right on dancing...If I'm ever going to be one of the girls who's "got what it takes."

That was Tuesday.

On Wednesday I will go be with a group of amazing, fiesty high school girls and I'll have to lead them in a discussion about relationships...How God wants our relationships with our families, specifically our brothers and sisters to look.

Boy. This never gets easy...But then I told him, I don't want Him to make it easy just for me, didn't I?

A whole series of random thoughts

Sunday, November 16, 2008

They've been rattling around my head for some time now but won't discipline themselves into a coherent whole. I haven't the time to discipline them myself and since I'm tired of their rattling I shall place them here. Perhaps some other kind soul will cohere them, add to them, laugh at them or leave them here for another day as I am doing.

A thought on Balance:
Balance is about strength. Maybe this is a "no-brainer" for most of you, but I didn't know this until I started taking ballet about 3 years ago. I've never taken ballet before, never tried standing in sur le Cou-de-pied on rise before. I suppose I thought balance was some sort of brain skill, a trick of the inner ear maybe? I don't know. But now I know it's about strength. I won't be able to hold those poses until I've trained the muscles involved and given them enough bulk to stand there in these positions my body never knew possible before. Beautiful poses. Hard poses. There is spiritual application here. Balance is about strength. I'm growing stronger. Hard times do that.

A thought on Expectations:
I came across a book title the other day. I adore books and am a sucker for a good title. This one was called. "Do Hard Things: A teenage rebellion against low expectations". Yay! I haven't read the book yet, but I must. I have been working with teenagers for 15 years at least (yeah, I started when I was like 10 ;-) ), and I've always said this. The only reason they aren't changing this world is because we don't really expect them to without our micromanaging the whole thing...which is a problem because we don't really know how to do it. "Kids always rise"...a quote from the lovely Ms. Pederson last June. "The question is only whether or not we can rise with them." I love that the title of the book is "Do Hard Things!" Yes! Thank you someone. Thank you for expecting teenagers to take your challenge. (And the real beauty of the whole thing? The authors who want to expect more of teens...they're 2 teenage brothers. Someone must have expected more...) Love it.

A thought on Tunnel vision or choose what to call it:
Kevin's a great pastor. He really only has one message as best I can tell. I don't mind it, because it is my heart beat too, but I think it irked a lot of people that it was all he had to say and so they left. That's alright, I think. (I just wish they'd been nice about it...since they bear Christ's name too). But I love it, LOVE it when Kevin speaks his message on a Sunday morning. He get's really passionate. What's his one message? "Know Jesus...oh and by the way, if you know Him, you'll act like him and He helped widows and orphans and the poor and sick and outcasts. That's how He acted. Know Jesus and do that." That's Kevin's message. I suppose it's an unusual thing to find a man with just one message these days. (Don't get me started about the vast array of ideas and titles to be found at the Christian bookstore ...I don't go there if I can help it. sorry to the loyalists.) But I suppose it reminds me a lot of Paul, "I resolved to know nothing while I was with you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified". ICor 2:2. I hope we have Kevin with us for a long time. I hope that he will stay resolved to know nothing among us except Jesus Christ and His life spilled out for each of us.

Thoughts on my Strangeness.
I am an enigma. Among todays evidences are: 1. That I have never owned a cell phone and 2. that I have no intention of ever reading "The Shack". lol. EVER. blecchh. don't bother sending it. thanks.

I have more thoughts. But at the forefront in this moment is, "will the children come to save King Tirian and Jewel from the wicked clutches of that ugly monkey, Shift?" We've come to Lewis's "Last Battle" at last. I look forward already to starting the whole series all over again! But right now, it's story time at my house! The pictures I wish to post of our pie baking escapades today must wait...unfortunately. I'm dying to see them too!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My To-Do list really is quite long today.

One of the items actually is to update my blog...which...I've got something in the works, just haven't had a spare moment to finish the thought.

Another thing on the list was to call April to reschedule our tea date this morning and I forgot to call and stood her up. Doggone it! So yet another item is to get my Day-timer out and back in commission so that I can stop being so crummy! So sorry sweet friend.

And so as I was cleaning out the old papers and things, I came across this quote. I want to throw away the paper, but don't want to lose the idea. And it's inspiring, so I'll kill a couple birds with one stone and blog it!

It says:

"Sometimes God allows very difficult things in our lives because his mercy extends that far!"

I don't actually have any idea who said that. It is just scribbled on the bottom of a list of publishers I once made when I though it would be fun to publish my duck story. (A list I probably ought to keep somewhere, I guess).

His mercy extends that far. It's a really comforting way to think about the difficult things in my life. I'm always telling him, "I think you think I'm stronger than I am!" He doesn't. He just knows how strong He is. And it is such a relief to realize that the things that come into my life are not based on my ability to handle them, but His. Not only that, but that some of these things come simply so he can show me how far his mercy actually extends. His mercy truly extends so much further than I ever understood. He is getting bigger and more amazing to me every day. I've been reminded lately to keep a grateful heart. Dear Jesus, I'm grateful for that!
And now...back to the lists.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

I don't like politics, but I do love my country. So since we're only a few days out, I feel inclined to say a small bit.

I remember the 2000 election like it was know, the one where Al Gore won the popular vote but George W won the Electoral vote and the chads in Florida made the thing stretch on for days. I remember how hard I had prayed (fasted even) over that election. It was going to be the "big" one. Our country was headed down an evil path and the right man in office was going to make all the difference. I remember a lot about that evening. The kids were in bed. Steve was out of town. I was drawing quilt designs (not something I've ever done before or since...wierd). And I was reading the Bible and praying and watching Tom Brokaw on NBC. I remember I kept coming across the verses about King Cyrus in Isaiah and thinking it odd. Cyrus was the King of Persia while the Isrealites were in captivity and though he was not a Yaweh follower, he was the leader chosen by God to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and send many of God's captives home again. He was a pagan ruler. And I tell you what, he got God's will done ...because God decided he would.
I like Isaiah 44:28. (God is talking...asking rhetorical questions about himself)
"who says of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please;"

God calling a pagan king His shepherd...the same humble moniker given to His dear king David. Our God's ways are so disconcerting sometimes aren't they? David and Cyrus in the same category? Well, I remember thinking that maybe God would put the apparent "wrong" man in office just to show His people that the heart of the king is in his hands. It was just a thought. The "right" man was elected that year, at least according to the Christians in my circles. I remember feeling relieved that our "prayers had been answered". But here's the thing, 8 years have come and gone since then and if I look at the things my leader and country have accomplished in that time, I'm not very proud.

I hang in different circles now...nothing intentional, just the way life and relationships flow. I read different books. I read a really great story about a man who gives his life and fortunes to build schools in Afghanistan (Three Cups of Tea is a fantastic read, btw) and our wars look different from his angle. I read about a Jesus follower, a pacifist who went to Iraq to be with God's people there who were being bombed by us...brothers and sisters in Christ. The war looks different when you hear their stories too. (Irresistable Revolution is a book that makes me laugh and cry and hope...really hope!) Just the other day I stumbled across an article in Time magazine that was evaluating the recent bailout. Isn't it like $7 billion or trillion (numbers too big to understand or remember). The article gave a whole list of what other sorts of things could be done with that money...things like giving every individual $2400 or buying the 17th largest country in the world or...and this is the one that got me, pay off 7% of our national debt. Seriously? Only 7%. So our national debt alone is higher than the value of most every country in the world. Seriously. This is what we do when God gives us the "right" leader? I's not just him, not just now, of course. But the truth is, I'm not seeing anything changing for the better. I'm not seeing us make any more Godly choices than we did with our previous overtly immoral president.

I don't like either of my choices for our new president this go-round, but I plan to vote God's values as closely as I can. I think if you are His, you ought to do that too. But since I hang in different circles and am more widely read now, I think that many of the people I love may be able to make a perfectly sound argument about why the "other" candidate makes a closer fit to God's values than mine. I'm good with that. I believe in a sovereign God who holds the heart of the king in His hand even if said king doesn't realize it. And I love my friends too much to make what so easily become contentious arguements over such nonsense.

I think we should pray, of course. But not long and feverishly like I've done in the past because Jesus specifically instructed, "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." (I've totally done that). I think we should pray simply, "Lord, let your Kingdom come and your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven." And then trust that is just what He'll His time, in His way.

But there's something I think is way more important than either of those things, and here's where I'm going to get controversial and maybe fire a few folks up.
Because, you see, I think God doesn't care all that much who gets elected. At least...he doesn't care the way we think he does. Yeah. I said that. (cringe)
I think it's just another day for Him, and that He may even have much more important meetings and events going on that same day

Here's why I think that. There's one other thing that I remember crystal clear about that election night in November of 2000, and looking back from here, I sort of think it mattered more to God than anything going on in politics and power brokering that night. That was the night he introduced me to Isaiah 58, a chapter in His beautiful book that has become my life's mission. I didn't know it then, but it would change everything. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, loose the chains of injustice, set the oppressed free, break yokes, provide the poor wanderer with shelter, rebuild the ancient ruins, Repair the Broken Walls.

See, I started looking for and finding ways to do those things, and I don't really think anymore that God concerns himself very much with people in power. They are simply his tools, mere pawns really. I've come to understand that his real attention is on the poor, the hungry, the misused and abused, the suffering, the broken hearted and humble, and that those folks exist in every socio-economic and political atmosphere. Isaiah isn't the only place you'll find this idea. It's the overriding theme woven all throughout scripture from beginning to end. It was the way Jesus defined His own mission on the earth, and it was what he spent His time doing. Take a look. And I've learned that when I put my hand to helping the marginalized and destitute, knowing and praying God's will comes pretty easy. Doing His will ends up being surprisingly easy and joyful too.

I'm glad that there are people who are passionate about the election and seeing God's will done in that arena, because I really love it when people get passionate about things (and I've many friends who are passionate about that). So that's great. But what I really long for is the day when this many of God's people get that fired up about sitting with prostitutes, talking with theives, feeding hungry folks, wiping away tears, easing suffering. That will be a big day for me.
And that will be "THE" big day for our country. That I know for sure.

Hooray for Puddleglum!

Monday, September 29, 2008

I've read the most fantastic speech tonight. The boys and I are in Chapter 12 of Lewis's Silver Chair, and the Marsh-wiggle has just given a speech that I can't help crying "hooray" to!
He speaks to an evil enchantress:

"One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder...I won't deny anything you've said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things--trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for the Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's a small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say!"

"Oh hurray! Good old Puddleglum!" cried Scrubb and Jill.

I sometimes dream of ridiculous, far-fetched things too. In the moments when i choose to resist this dark world's vile enchantments i remember and believe in things like true unity and sacrificial love, the kind of commitment that would lay down it's own life before betraying a friend. I believe in things like love deep enough to drive out fear; love so large it can cover another's sin and shame and heal brokenness. I even believe in forgiveness that actually sticks. And perhaps the enchantress is right. Perhaps we only imagine these things. Maybe they're not really possible. It certainly would seem so...I have spent many years believing in them and have suffered many an unjust wound when love wasn't what it promised...what I believed it could be. But Puddleglum is right too. Even if I only imagine the kind of things I think Jesus died for, the imagination is a good deal better than the world we've created here and seems a great deal more important. The kinds of relationships we're bound to keep in this place aren't worth living or dying for, but that other sort of love? ...that sort of love would be worth everything...even if it meant living for only a very short time in this dark place.

I shall be on Aslan's side even if there is no Aslan. I shall live like a Narnian even if there is no Narnia. I shall spend my life looking for Overland even if that means my life shall be short!

And I shall do my best to wear with grace the scars that come from living so. :-)

Tonight I asked Steve for some advice. I have to face a tough situation tomorrow. His advice was gold.
"Remember who you are. You're the girl who wants to give kindness for unkindness and love at all costs."
He's a genius. I told him to remind me who I am more often. Sometimes this world's poison muddles my thinking too. But I'm a Narnian, it's true.

Remember who you are.

Those Romans and Hebrews...good peeps, both!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

So I can't resist posting today's verse of the day. I'm thinking whoever is picking these verses to post might actually be reading my mind :-)

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
Hebrews 10:35-36.

The prize goes not to he who runs fastest but to he who lasts longest!
Failure is only failure when you don't get up and try again.
Patience is genius.
...and all those other motivational quotes (grin).

my stupidity (confidence) will be richly rewarded.

Thanks Romans

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I was told the most encouraging thing today.
I keep the verse of the day on my iGoogle page and this morning it was Romans've heard it a million times. I think I probably quote it to myself everyday, but today I saw something I hadn't seen before. It says:
"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

ok. so...I'm often told how stupid i am for continuing to hope in an absolutely hopeless situation. (They don't actually call me friends are much nicer than that...but I get what the silent shrug means, "i think you should just put it behind you and move on. Enough is enough, it's not worth your effort." or something like that. I've probably even given them the same shrug before.)

But do you see the little nod that Romans gave me today? We suffer and that produces perseverance and then the perseverance turns into character...and then...when you've got get hope. The hope comes from the character. So perhaps the fact that I have the capacity to remain hopeful in this situation actually means that I am a woman of character?

I hope so. ;-) (chuckle)


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

by Alanis Morrissette

Oh perilous place walk backwards toward you
Blink disbelieving eyes chilled to the bone
Most visibly brave no apprehended gloom
First to take this foot to virgin snow

I am a magnet for all kinds of deeper wonderment
I am a wunderkind oh oh oh oooooh
And I lift the envelope pushed far enough to believe this
I am a princess on the way to my throne

Destined to serve, destined to roam

Oh ominous place spellbound and unchild-proofed
My least favorite chill to bear alone
Compatriots in place they'd cringe if I told you
Our best back-pocket secret our bond full-blown

I am a magnet for all kinds of deeper wonderment
I am a wunderkind oh oh oh oooooh
I am a pioneer naive enough to believe this
I am a princess on the way to my throne

Destined to seek, destined to know

Most beautiful place reborn and blown off roof
My view about-face whether great will be done

I am a magnet for all kinds of deeper wonderment
I am a wunderkind oh oh oh oooooh
I am a ground-breaker naive enough to believe this
I am a princess on the way to my throne

I am a magnet for all kinds of deeper wonderment
I am a wunderkind oh oh oh oooooh
I am a Joan of Arc and smart enough to believe this
I am a princess on the way to my throne

Destined to reign, destined to roam Destined to reign, destined to roam Destined to reign, destined to roam.

I was making a playlist tonight of some of the songs i just have always really liked. This is on it. I find this song so fascinating...i think because it is so strange and cryptic and at the same time expresses so many of the deeper things I know and believe of myself.

I am a wunderkind.
A princess on the way to her throne
A ground breaker naive enough to believe this
A Joan of Ark smart enough to believe.

I am destined to reign...and destined to roam.

Reminding myself that these things are true of me (whether I want them to be or not) helps me feel a little less crazy.

Wrapping up summer...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I know, I's time I post something new.

What though? I don't have anything deep at the moment...I mean, I could share my recent lessons, but they might not be encouraging. I like to be encouraging. But perseverance is hard. And it takes so long, darn it.

I have some really cute pictures that Sandy and Lori might like though. I love this time of year...truly. We're getting our last amazing summer days, and soon the leaves will burst out in color. It will be too chilly in the morning to go without a sweater and so hot in the afternoon that you forget to bring it home with you, and the sky will be October Blue (it's a color all it's favorite one). My favorite season is almost here. I realized this year that i am very much looking forward to the years ahead. You know how a writer will refer to their character as "in the spring of her life", meaning young and new and how the "winter" is old age? I actually think fall is the richest, most beautiful and precious time of the year. I also love that time of day just before dusk when the sun stretches low, peering through evening windows and lighting up small winged things like they're lightning bugs...that time when you can hear the crickets just beginning to tune their instruments and mommies are calling "dinner"! I feel so alive right that kind of shadow and sunlight. I think the "evening" of my life will feel that know, that "all is quite well" feeling? I don't have quite that sense of well-being today. I've had a heavy burden of losses in the past couple of years and, as anyone who has lost someone knows, season changes are hard. This one is being hard, but i know it won't always be so.

At any rate, here are the pictures we took on one of these really fantastic "last days of summer" when we all got to go to the pool and play with our friends! Ben and Brynne stayed 'til late that night and loved every moment...even though Ben had told me flat out when I came to pick him up that he "wasn't coming!" He did. We had a blast! And we even got to catch up with our dear old friends Tim and Lori. First Sandy, then Lori, 8 kiddos...then 5 and an impromptu lawn party, dinner, conversation...a promise to Lori that I will make her a GOOD mojito next time. What a lovely day.

oh yeah...and here's my gorgeous guys on the first day of 3rd and 5th grade! (I love the "kevin wright" hair-flip on them :-) )

Laughing at myself

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Perhaps there's a better approach to this whole suntan thing...?

Maybe next time if I'm sitting on the bow of a sailboat watching dolphins and laughing into the wind, i'll take into account the sun at my back too!
We brought the guys a skim board from Venice...they're not sure what to do with it in the absence of a beach...but it sure looks cool :-)

Mountain Passes

Friday, August 01, 2008

I’m sitting in the backseat of the car. We drive through the San Joaquin valley en-route to Oxnard, California to sail with the good Captain. It’s 102 degrees outside and Dawn tells me a story about driving through this valley with her dad (the good and brilliant Captain) when she was a little girl. As you come to the end of this valley the circle of mountains looms larger until it seems to be closing in on every side. She says she remembers all of a sudden looking at them and being frightened. “Dad! Look, the mountains, what will we do?” They present a barrier that her 7 year old mind couldn’t see past…how would they pass the mountains and escape the arid valley? This led to a long discussion, she remembers about building roads through passes and, “how do they do that?” and “where do they get the rocks to make the road.” The Captain is an engineer. I’m sure the ensuing discussion was fascinating!
It made me think of myself…ourselves. I surely can’t see past the mountains in my life and how often they close in, frightening and suffocating me with their immensity. But I got to thinking. I crossed so many mountain passes as a child and never thought twice about the impossibility of such a feat, because in Oregon, you are in and over the mountain passes without ever seeing them. You just drive and the road takes you through. Someone else did the hard work to put it there, I wasn’t around for that part. I just follow it. Here in this treeless desert you can see what you have to mount and cross over, and the “turn off Air Conditioner” sign at the bottom of the hill seems daunting. Some obstacles in my life I never see coming until they are past. I suppose those are a Grace. Others I see looming ahead and grow fearful. But there is a pass. There’s always a pass. All you do is follow the road laid out and the pass presents itself as you go forward. It might be steep, but it’s never impossible, impassable. It’s a pass. It makes my mountains seem smaller and gives me hope.
I liked Dawn’s story.

a great talk on passion!

Friday, July 25, 2008

I don't consider myself a feminist or anything, but boy, this chica has some good points. Kevin always says stuff like, "Women are sure powerful...when the women of this church band together, we're gonna see the world change." I wonder if it's true. I don't think women have all the pieces to the puzzle or that somehow in the "perfect world" women should have the power instead of men. That would cause as many problems as male oppression causes in the world today...they'd just be different problems...and probably more duplicitous.

But when you hear a statistic like "80% of the worlds refugees are women and their children", and listen to powerful stories like this woman tells, you have to admit that if we would do something to empower women, the world would change for the better!

Isabel Allende Tells tales of Passion! be called His friend

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I had something of an epiphany while driving home this beautiful summer evening. I've been reading Brother Lawrence. I know...what took me so long, right? I'm just now getting to some of the classics I should have read years ago, but never had ready access to..."Passion and Purity"-Elliot (among others of thiers), Hudson Taylor's biography, and now Brother Lawrence. And doggone...these are worthy reads! Brother Lawrence's ideas on spirituality are disturbingly simple. --Just do your best to always keep your thoughts on Him, be in continual conversation with him, and do all that you do from the motive of love and adoration for Him. Therein lies the blessing, joy and fulfillment we each seek...according to the Brother. Heartache and trials are to be understood as nothing more than opportunities given by a loving Savior to draw closer to Him, and so we can rejoice in them, even look forward with longing to them. Now this seems sort of twisted at first glance, but I can't deny that it's very soundly biblical. ("Consider it pure joy my brethren whenever you face trials of many kinds").

Do read Brother's a small book called "The Practice of the Presence of God", I haven't time to fully explain his thoughts here. But here is an idea that he repeats often:
"I have quitted all forms of devotion and set prayers but those to which my state obliges me. And I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presence, wherein I keep myself by a simple attention, and a general fond regard to God; or, to speak better, an habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God, which often causes me joys and raptures inwardly, and sometimes also outwardly, so great that I am forced to use means to moderate them and prevent their apperance to others."
-and another
"Sufferings will be sweet and pleasant to us while we are with Him; and the greatest pleasures will be, without Him, a cruel punishment to us...
Be satisfied with the condition in which God places you; however happy you may think me, I envy you. Pains and sufferings would be a paradise to me while I should suffer with my God, and the greatest pleasures would be hell to me if I could relish them without Him. All my consolation would be to suffer something for His sake."

I know he's right. I've experienced that whole bit about God causing me "inner joys and raptures so great I am forced to use means to moderate them and prevent their appearance to others." I remember too a friend once describing a similar experience of such great joy and intimacy in simple conversation with God that he had to leave the room so as not to be obvious. I loved hearing that God related to him that way too, because until then I just thought I was wierd. (Well...that may be true too). I've begun once again to make a practice of constantly lifting my thoughts and turning them in conversation to him...instead of what I usually do these days...turning my thoughts on myself and my desires. And as never before, I now find a way to look at my sufferings as a gift, an opportunity to lift my soul in hard circumstances to Him.

And it works.

Inner and outward joy has been my immediate result. Intimacy with the lover of my soul and dare I say it...rapture, even? And I remember that yes indeed, I've been here before. There was a time when for no reason but for the Love of Him, I loved Him and we communed this way. It was in a time before I knew true sorrow and suffering. It was a hard and disciplined practice then, but it's infinitely harder now.

The whole "suffering" bit is difficult to swallow, but you know how truth has that different sort of ring to it. That rings true. And I started questioning Him about it. What is that? Why did there have to be suffering? Why should I have to go through what I have and somehow find my way back to Him again on the other side of suffering? Why would He make it so backwards...suffering is where deepest joy with Him is found. Why not make it straight-forward. Joy is good, Suffering is bad. Joy is God, Suffering is satan...wouldn't it be easier to embrace Him, love Him that way? Why would he make it difficult to understand and so hard to do? And He asked me this,

"What would you do if it were you, Jennie? What if you had all the power and money in the universe, what would you want?"
Well, I'd want deep, true relationships, of course.
"How would you get them?" came his question.
That gave me pause. Power and money tend to corrupt us and taint others in their relationships to us, even if we remain untainted by them. I could force relationship, but that's not the kind any of us want. Could buy them, same problem. How could I get deep, true relationships? And then His approach started to make some kind of sense. Maybe I'd make it a little bit hard to know me. Maybe I wouldn't immediately pour out my wealth and influence on those I'd like to have as friends. Maybe I'd be a little bit hard with them to see what's really in them before I trust my heart to them. If they were devoted to me in my hardness and longed with joy for an opportunity to walk with me through sorrow, then I may actually have a friend who could bear the weight of my power and influence...maybe.

That's when He said. "I am a jealous lover." And He just let it rest on my soul to see if I would take it in.

The last 4 years of my life have seen both my life's greatest joy and deepest sorrows. A precious gift given by this "lover" of mine was taken by the same hand and while I've remained faithful to him, I've been so confused. Until today when I remembered having had an intimacy with my God like what I'm just now coming back to...this intimacy that Brother Lawrence is insisting I strive toward. The last time I remember being this close to Him was not before the suffering. It was before His gift of joy and a beautiful fulfillment of my heart's desire. I made the classic blunder! Out of ignorance...I didn't understand that the intimacy we had was to be maintained at all costs...even if it meant giving the "gift" back and saying..."thank you sir, but I dare not, for I may love it too much." I wonder if I'll find a way to that kind of strength and fidelity in my friendship with Him now? Certainly not by my own abilities. Lord grant me now your character and strength, for mine falls short, is my prayer.

He wanted friendship with me, but He needed to know what was in my heart...or, he needed me to know what was in my heart. And He needed me to find what at last I've found...a joyful longing for the fellowship of suffering with and for Him. What blessing and favor wouldn't you pour out on that friend who wants you not for your blessing and favor, but for their love of you? That friend who wants not your riches but a share of your sorrows so as to make them lighter for you?

Oh to have that kind of friend.

I think today i get why sometimes He makes this so hard!

We Leave in 3 Days!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We leave on Friday for Nicaragua! yyaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh. I'm so pickin' excited! Here's a link to our Team Blog.
We're in the process of putting up our prayer requests. I don't think we'll have the opportunity to blog while we're down there, but we definitely will if we get online somewhere...just because it will be fun to reach our friends from there :-)
But we'll definitely post pictures and stories when we get back.

Ms. Peterson

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tonight the kids had their end of the year talent show and I was helping backstage. I was impressed with how well these sweet young kids had done putting together their acts and said so to Ms. Peterson.
She turned to me nodding and smiled.
"Kids always rise," she said. "It's just a matter of whether we can rise with them, but they'll always rise."
I thought it a great quote, and I thought her a great teacher for believing those words.

It's been a great year Highland. Thank you Highland teachers, staff, and students. You are a treasure to me.

for edmund

Friday, May 16, 2008 need to say goodbye.


The Call - Regina Spektor - Prince Caspian

super-hero band-aids

This world gets uglier to me everyday.

I hate it when someone gets legitimately hurt and all the other person is willing to do is stand there and say, "I didn't do it. It wasn't me. It's not my fault."...while someone is on the pavement crying. I hate that. My boys were doing that a minute ago. Is it really so much to ask for the "un-hurt" person to just quietly help the crying boy off the pavement and see to his wounds...even if it wasn't their fault? Instead, the un-hurt boy comes and gets me and expounds to me the tale to prove how it wasn't his fault...oh and by the way...there's still a hurt boy on the ground crying.

I think God must get sick of us. We hurt and betray and abandon one another and then we go running to our Father to tell him the tale of how it wasn't our fault. And we leave the bleeding and crying for Him to take care of...because after wasn't our fault. I hate that.

Here's an interesting thing.
I have always kept the ointments, band-aids and other such first-aid stuff in a low drawer in the boys bathroom. When they were small, super-hero bandages were better than candy. They loved them so much that I decided to start requiring them to show me blood before I'd allow them to have one. Well, that had an undesired effect and, you guessed it, I started seeing a lot more blood! :-) That's when I decided that a few boxes of cartoon bandages was a small expense for their happiness and I put them in the bottom drawer and told them they could make their own judgements about how to use them. It has worked beautifully. They're quite adept at caring for their own scrapes and always put the antibiotic on. But apparently the ability to care for one's own scrapes doesn't translate across our flesh to caring for another's...especially when we may be at fault. I guess it's time to teach them the joy of bestowing a super-hero bandage upon your bleeding brother.

And as always, my children teach me about God.

It used to be long ago that a person had to show God blood before he'd bestow his band-aids (the forgiveness that brings healing) on them, but then there was just so much blood and it was decided that Christ would bear the expense and die so that they could put the forgiveness band-aids in the bottom drawer where we'd be able to reach them. I'm crying now thinking about how much those darn super-hero band-aids cost him and still he puts them right there...right where I can grab one for any old hangnail. And I'm crying about how they're right there and he paid so much and some kids won't expend themselves to just go get one for them or for me...or worse...they make an arbitrary judgement about how I don't actually deserve one of those band-aids and withhold it from me.

So the problem now is not the availability of those band-aids...the problem now is that we've grown up, and in order to reach that bottom drawer, we have to stoop. humility. It's not so hard it? If God's parenting is anything like human parenting, He doesn't care all that much whose fault it was or how deserving the wounded is...but he has so much love and appreciation for the person who runs and gets the band-aid. I'm imagining how my day would have started so differently had my little guy come running to me not with excuses but with a super-hero band-aid and the words, "Mom, can you help me help my brother?"

My best friend is highly adept at bestowing super-hero band-aids on me now. I seem to be one of those kids that's always scraping herself up on the playground, so he's gotten good at it(he's my husband too, btw). He wipes my tears and tells me I've been brave. He convinces me that the huge scab means I'm cool and the scar makes me more beautiful and says that he's never seen anyone try so hard at the game. His gift makes me want to be worthy of that super-hero band-aid...and it makes it a little easier to forgive the kid whose fault it really was. I think he makes God really happy, and I want to be like him. I want my boys to be like him. And I hope someday...that kid whose fault it was,will be like him too. Actually, I hope to someday be able to bestow on that kid a whole drawer of his very own super-hero band-aids. I know where there are lots. That's what I hope.

Two things I loved

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I happened across both of these things today and loved what they spoke of.

One was a verse:
Ecclesiastes 11:5
“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”

The other was a video clip:
-Joshua Klien and The Amazing Intelligence of Crows.
I love it when someone exercises kindness and goodness to motivate them to think outside the box. This guy's approach to an increasing everyday problem is so unusually positive and good-natured, I have to like him and his ideas. I hope he keeps it up...I hope he will inspire others to think more like he does. I hope I can learn to approach my problems with such a positive, kind nature. If you've got a few minutes to watch the video (only about 10), it's worth it. You'll see what I mean.

morning Hallstatt

Thursday, May 01, 2008

morning Hallstatt
Originally uploaded by zyryntyrah

Wow. how's this for a contrast? I'm writing this morning about Flickr for our Travel Blog and needed a few examples. This is one of the places in the world I dream of one day visiting. Could it be any further removed from the realities of my last post? wow.

hard to look at

Monday, April 21, 2008

Why did I post a random picture of the Managua dump, you ask?

I was working on the poster board sign for our Nicaragua trip and needed some pictures of Nicaraguan children so I went on Flickr...(which is such an unbelievably cool place on the internet, btw.) Not only did I find pictures of children, I found pictures of children in the actual dump, "La Chureca", where we will be going in June to try and help rescue children out of. They are hard to look at. They made me cry, but I guess they should.
I sent out our support letters this weekend. I'm guessing if you read my blog, I probably had you on my list :-) If you didn't get one and want to help us with funds and prayers for our trip, we'd be blessed.

Hungry dump girls. This picture appears to have been taken just this month. The caption said that they looked fairly well dressed, but they were obviously hungry. They would dig around and find food, smell it first and then eat.
Delivery. I guess it's like Christmas when the dump trucks make a "delivery". Over 3000 people LIVE in this dump. Not visit. They have their little shanties. Many of the women and children have never been outside of it.
The most reliable source of income is prostitution. Families encourage it and sell their daughters (as young as 11) to the truck drivers for the equivalent of $1.
This is Gloria. She's been building relationships with the families in the dump and decided she needed to see if she could do more.
It's called Villa Esperanza.
So she is partnering with Forward Edge International to build this. It's called Village of hope. They'll be able to house women and childrens in "families" of 8 and host teams to come and help out. That's where we come in. We'll be one of the first teams and will be able to help with the building and also on outreach to the dump. We're hoping to identify specific ways that our home church can be an ongoing support.

Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere (Haiti is the first). But I guess it doesn't matter where it is...little girls shouldn't be eating garbage and made sex slaves to garbage truck drivers in any country.
I wonder if you know...there is more "Slavery" in 2008 than at any other time in history. The numbers are staggering and most of it flies just under the radar of the average person and sounds just a little too unbelievable to pay attention to.
When the Africans were being traded in Slavery in Wilberforce's day, it was a legitimate "business". A slave cost his owner the equivalent of around $50,000...a fair investment. Today, girls are tricked and kidnapped (mostly from Asian countries, but at least 30,000 from right here in the US), they are trafficked to other countries to cover the trail, and then sold for $18. And they're not being asked by their buyer to pick cotton either.
Something should be done.
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen. To loose the chains of injustice and to untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter--when you see the naked to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" Is 58:6-7

We're NOT too small to do anything (that was one comment I read on Flickr about the pictures.) I for one won't stand for it. I recently heard of a man in India who intends to END slavery so that when his children are his age, they can be working on another problem. I'll partner with him and Gloria and Shannon Keith and Dave Rogers and others like them and at least die trying!

In the Managua Dump

Saturday, April 19, 2008

In the Managua Dump
Originally uploaded by Sbmoot

some conversations are just fun

Thursday, April 17, 2008

if you're just browsing around looking for an interesting read, here's a fun conversation I've been having with Chrissi Wright. (She's our pastors wife). Their blog is really acedemic and intelligent and a whole lot of fun. Add your comments if you feel like joining in :-)


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

came across another great quote today...just can't help posting it.

“Those who know don’t have the words to tell and the ones with the words don’t know so well.” Bruce Cockburn

These words describe how I feel about my faith and my Jesus so much of the time. I've never been an "evangelist" (and always feel the heavy burden of guilt, placed on me by well meaning preachers over the years, for the verbal "evangelizing" I don't do). When asked to "give my testimony", I can't find words. (It's not shyness or me). The things my heart knows about my Jesus just don't have words to go with least not in my native tongue. I've always thought that maybe I just wasn't as good a Christian as the others who are able to "evangelize and testify", and that someday if I kept walking in faith I would arrive and then I would have the words. But the further I go along in this journey of faith, the more profound it gets and the words to describe, explain, testify get further from me, not nearer.

On Monday I gave away my table at BackPorch to my enemy (yes, I have one...not by choice).
The shop was full and there was no place for her and her little boy to sit. I had a lovely spot by the window and i knew an act of generosity would do me more good than the remainder of my lavender latte. (Besides there was this tugging, "Holy Spirit" thing going on inside of me). I silently offered her the seat across from me and she sat down. I wished her a lovely day, tousled her 5-year old's hair, smiling and packed up my things. There are so many things I want her to know and understand about my faith and what I understand of the character of Christ (she's a Christian too, a sister), and believe me, I've exhausted so many words trying to communicate these things to no avail. We're still enemies, she insists we remain as we are.

I've stopped talking now. I'm determined to stop questioning my beliefs just because I can't convince her (and others) that I know what I'm talking about. There are things that I Know about my Jesus that I can't communicate...things that they should know, need to know too. My inability to communicate them does not make them any less true or important (why have I always thought it did?)

Now that I've settled that, I can give myself permission to just start living them and not worry so much about the talking part. Sounds easy enough, right? It's not. Lifting my hand to offer her that silly chair took more strength and courage than I've employed all year (you should have seen my hands shaking...oh brother!). I hope it did her heart good...because the thing is, I really love her...enemy or not. And that's the truth, as confusing and impossible and less than believable as those words sound. I really love her...and that only because of the indescribeable presence of Jesus in me. Some things just can't be reduced to words, i guess. A tough reality for a word lover like me. :-)

Does anyone else have a similar experience with a faith that is more real and deep than words can communicate? What do you do with that?
Do you get frustrated and feel condemned and insignificant sometimes too...because you can't find a way to communicate?
Do you question the validity of your beliefs when you can't convince other Christians?
Do you ever get frustrated that the ones who do have the words don't seem to have the actions to back up the words...?

great quote

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I heard a quote today that I can't resist posting.

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." -A. Lincoln

I love Pike Street Market!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Now that I'm posting for our Travel blog too, I might just offer you a link here from time to time so I don't have to post twice :-) that kinda lazy?

We spent Easter in Seattle. Fantastic time! More pics on the way...but here's our little outing to Pike Street!

today's my birthday


The kids said i'm either 33 or 35 or 40 or something. Remember when you were first aware of your moms age and how OLD it seemed back then? that was when she was 34 for me. it doesn't seem quite as old up here anymore!

Easter Eggs!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'm sure you never get too old to color easter eggs, but there's just something about doing it with a 4-year old! :-) I actually love that sound when the egg hits the floor and there's a gasp and this split second of silence, and then everyone bursts out laughing. And I love the way the little fingers turn red and green and the thrill of opening an egg that was cracked when it went into the dye and the egg inside isn't white anymore but covered with speckles and spots and lightning bolts of color.

Posted by Picasa


Sometimes you pray for grace,
...and then she moves in across the street!

Be Careful Who You Follow.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

(oooh...this turned out kind of long :-) )

I was reading an old acquaintance's blog yesterday. He had posted 3 quotes by someone named Bill Johnson.

  • "You can’t get a new mantel until you’ve been dismantled.
  • Revering what he has said will position you to hear what he is saying. Faith comes from hearing the Word of God.
  • It’s tempting to live by principles rather than presence. But you don’t get breakthrough from principles."

I was curious... the quotes were vaguely interesting, but I don't know a Bill Johson so I googled. "Who is Bill Johnson?" Steve laughed at me because it was like googling "John Smith" or something, but it worked! I love the internet! It turns out he is the pastor at a church in Redding. The church is a "miracle healing" church (for lack of a better way to describe it) and claims that among them "miracles are normal". Maybe that's true. I don't know, and have no way to verify such claims (nor would I spend my time trying...there are lots of those out there...true and false, I suppose).

I'm not one who denies the likelihood of such miracles on any level. I still expect that one or two miracles are coming for me. But I am one who has seen way too much outright abuse of God's precious people in these circles where the striving after "miracles" and "annountings" and other supposedly Christ-like "spiritual manifestations" are paramount. I don't think my Jesus intends for us to rip each other apart, deceive, judge and wound one another in our seeking after Him, and I've seen so much of that in these circles that I am now very wary of this sort of "preaching". So my comments come with a bias, I suppose. (Don't anyone's?).

I wished to leave a comment on that blogger's site, but comments weren't allowed. I suppose I would have offended him if I had...and that's not my intent at all, for I do care about him. But I'm disturbed and wish to leave a comment sweet readers, must bear with me I guess. Bill Johnson did say the the three things quoted above...I found the reference. I'm still not sure quite what he means by them or what the blogger meant by posting them. But Bill Johnson also says,

"He (God) has laced this book with single statement promises that are yet to be discovered. You students of the bible know that when Matthew would quote an old testament passage to prove that Jesus was the Messiah, he didn't quote paragraphs. He took statements out of context. Because the Holy Spirit who wrote the book said, "that's why I put it in there". Are you guys listening? The Lord has put these things all through scripture. It's not to give permission for weirdness, but if you don't take the risk for weirdness you don't get what's available."

I'm sorry, but in 5.5 seconds this pastor debunked over a thousand years of sound Biblical study practice. Every student of the Bible also knows that context is the number one rule of interpreting scripture. And sure...we can toss out that principle and say it's outdated or lifeless or not for today or it restricts the "Spirit's movement or it's legalistic or something, but is there any wisdom in perpetuating such claims? My oldest son has been having a little trouble obeying lately and so Steve gave him some scriptures to copy down so he could start to understand how seriously we (and God) take his disobedience. One of them was Deuteronomy 21:18. It says

"If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid."

Now, is this one of the "single statement" promises for my son that Bill speaks of...the "weirdness" that we must risk in order to get from God "what's available? Or is it only the single statments that we like that we're supposed to claim as our very own promises? If I ignore paragraph and context here I come up with a single promise that all Isreal will be afraid if I purge the evil from my family by stoning my son. I (and my son) take comfort in the context of this scriptural mandate. This is a law written to young Isreal by a God who knew his laws couldn't make them righteous but only point them to His righteousness and thus lead them to his plan for their salvation eventually. There are lots more like it. If I ignore context I have to question whether I sin by not having my son stoned. I know it's extreme, but do you see where statements like this man's lead? Where did the massacre of the crusades come from? Where did Hitler get his "supreme race" ideas. Read your context (chuckle). Using God's Word to propogate evil is not something that could happen only in the extremes, it's something that does happen every Read your VOM newsletter.

Bill Johnson also says,

"So many people yield themselves completely to the Lord and he begins to stir up and birth desires in them that are authentic, creative ideas that can shape the course of history, but they…people, Christians have been taught to kill those things and suppress them because they're to have none of self. John the Baptist's prayer, "I must decrease, you must increase," is not a legal prayer for you…Jesus died and rose again, was the light of the world, now declares, "you're the light of the world". This is not the time for you to decrease, this is the time for you to increase."

John the Baptist's prayer is not a legal prayer for me? I must seek to increase? So then should I also throw out Paul's "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ." Phil 3:7, or Jesus' "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matt 10:39. My dreams and plans must increase? huh?

Bill says a lot of other things that I agree with...I think. He has this manner of speaking that is rather circular and a sort of insincere humility that puts me on guard, and so sometimes I'm not sure what he has said...or if he really meant to say "that".

I have a point to all this. It's not to deride Bill Johnson (I don't even know him) or to discount my blogger friend's post. Rather, I wish to warn him in the gentlest voice I can muster. Be careful who you let speak into your life friend. Be careful what you reach for. Miracles aren't the pinnacle of Christian success, loving your neighbor is... are you loving your neighbor...even if she's still sick after you pray for her? The greatest in this Kingdom is not the pastor, preacher or miracle Max. It is the servant. Are you on your knees washing feet with no thought for your position or power? Those are the things that matter. Bill Johnson also made the comment that most Christians live by principles because it's easier than living by "presence" as he suggests in your last quote. If that were so...why don't we see more foot washers in American Christianity? That's the bottom line principle of the gospel...if it's so easy to live by, why don't we? What about the principle of true religion...taking care of widows and orphans. Where are the American churches that run orphanages instead of Sunday school if Biblical principles are so much easier to live by? Why are our widows left to the welfare of the state?

No. God's Word is the only solid ground we've been given on this messed up sphere. It must be handled carefully and accurately, and I'm going to strive to be like David in my approach.

"Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.
They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.
You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed." Psalm 119:1-4

There's divine safety in that. Oh friend. Read Psalm 119 (in context...for me). Where Bill and David disagree...may I suggest that you follow David's lead for he is called by God himself, "a man after God's heart", and that's what I wish for you. Be His heart. Please, please, be careful who you follow.