Monday, December 28, 2009

Pictures from my random life

These are pictures that I took with my cell phone over the last month. Enjoy!

A couple weeks ago I got a call from my boss telling me that I would need to stay later at work the next day because they were using my coffee shop to shoot part of a new Nicholas Cage movie. No, I didn't meet him, but I did get to see him work. I had a lot of fun meeting the crew of the movie, though, and seeing the behind the scenes part of making movie magic. In this picture, they were using the outside of the shop so they set up their equipment inside.

Here's another angle of them set up in the shop. It took them the better part of two hours to set up and shoot what will turn out to be about five to ten seconds of the finished product.

I went shopping in Nashville with my family the day after Christmas. I saw this and had to take to this blurry picture. It's one of those new touch-screen coke machines with the blue screen of death.

Now you don't even have to speak to another human to get your bought-coffee fix for the day. At the Opryland Hotel they have automated Starbucks coffeemakers. You can get a small cup of coffee for the bargain price of $3.50.

It's a campus ministry, outdoor music festival, bar, and now a jewelry brand. The Purple Door sure does get around. Oh, and those are my new earrings.

This is the book I'm reading right now. I'll let you know how it is when I finish.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Haps

So, I'm finally emerging from the hole that all grad students go into around finals time. I have one final left, but it's an online test so there's not a lot of major pressure left. During my my month-long absence from blogging, my life has been adventurous...well, adventurous for me.

I took my first Amtrak train ride for Thanksgiving break. I rode on the City of New Orleans train all the way from here to my home in Tennessee. Honestly, I've had three hour plane trips that felt longer than the twelve hour ride I had on the train. Really, if you ever get the chance to take the train somewhere, do it. If for nothing else, do it for the experience.

I wrote my first exegetical sermon on Matthew 22:34-46. I didn't have to actually deliver it, so I don't know if it completely counts. I'm still proud of myself though.

On Saturday, I had my first serious encounter with New Orleans weather. It rained hard all day and by the time I got off of work, a lot of roads were already flooded because the pumps that keep New Orleans above water were overwhelmed. My friend called me and told me my normal way back home was flooded over and I needed to find another way. The only other way I knew was flooded too. I stopped on the side of the road when I started to hear water hit the bottom of my car. When I looked around, I saw abandoned cars down side streets that were in worse positions than mine. When I called my friend with a Bronco to come get me, he told me that the police wouldn't let him through to get to me. Finally, after much prayer (more like begging God not to let my engine flood), I started my car again and eventually made it out.

The entire time I was sitting in my car debating if I should chance driving through "Lake New Orleans" or not, I kept picturing myself as one of those people on the news. I would say something incredibly stupid like "I didn't know that the water was that deep. I just wanted to go home." My fifteen minutes of fame would have come because I have a little car that sits too low to the ground.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Top Three Tuesday

1. One Day's Wages. I can't believe I took so long to write about this. ODW is a fairly new non-profit started by Eugene Cho (pastor of Quest Church in Seattle) and family. It's purpose is to end extreme poverty and envisions doing this by having everyone donate one days worth of wages at least once a year (for example, on your birthday). For those of you that don't make much each day, like me, you may say that your money won't do much. But it will. Considering that a large portion of the global population lives on $2/day, your money will go far. For those that feel like it would be a huge sacrifice, it may be. Skip that trip to the mall or eat out a little less for a month and your budget can absorb it. You can find out more information about this amazing organization at their website. Also, congrats to ODW for making the New York Times!

2. Ukrainian Sand Art. The woman in this video uses sand art to depict the German invasion of Ukraine during World War II. It's kind of long, but worth it if you stick it out.




3. I've got nothing for this one. What rocked your socks off this past week?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Top Three Tuesday

This week's Top Tuesday is kind of random, but so am I sometimes...

1. How to Worship. If you're Baptist, disregard the part about dancing :)



2. This post by a sister in Christ who recently moved to Kenya. We not only need to be reminded that there is real suffering happening in our world, but also that Jesus is hope.

3. Doxa. The worship band from Journey Church near Seattle is putting out an album of their original music. I'm super excited about the release that's supposed to happen sometime this month. You can go to their website and hear the first two songs.

Toodles!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fall Break

For Fall Break, I went to Knoxville to visit friends and go to a wedding. I stayed with my beautiful college roommate who goes to grad school in the area and got to do all kinds of fun things with her like crave pumpkins and eat at Chick-fil-a :) When I attempted to start my drive home, my transmission decided to throw a fit that ended up taking three days and a lot of money to fix. I stayed with my aunt and uncle for those few days. It was fun to get to catch up with them and relax a little more before going back to school. Thankfully, the classes I missed were only lecture and I didn't miss anything else important. Here are some pictures for your viewing enjoyment.


We carved pumpkins on Friday night. The smiley face with no nose is mine. I have very little carving talent so it's all I could come up with.

My friend and her new hubby.

Some of my closest friends from college. I miss hanging out with them.

Me and another good friend from college. The bride sat all of us at the same table so we could catch up with each other and stay out of trouble :)

My college roommate has this study habit that she just can't break. While a lot of people talk with their hands, C studies with her hands. This picture makes me smile because it reminds me of all the times I had to ask her what she was studying because her hand movements were so crazy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

And I'm Back

So, looking at the new version of a friend's blog today reminded me that I have one of my own to update. For all three of you that regularly check this blog, I apologize for the silence :) Seminary is way crazier than I thought it would be. Anyway, start checking back more often because I'm gonna start posting pictures of my new home, sharing ideas that have been popping into my head, talking about books that I've read, and I might even find three things I like enough to resurrect Top Three Tuesday. I know. You're dying in anticipation. I'll do my best to live up to the expectations. Toodles!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What's the Greek Word for Frustration

I haven't had a word of the day in a long time, but today I do. It's 'Frustrated'.

I know that I'm smart and have earned a place here. I know that sounds somewhat conceited, but that's what I have to keep telling myself. For example, today I was sitting in a class talking about Biblical interpretation and the future of the church. I felt like I had something to add to the conversation but I never spoke up. Why? Part of it is just that I'm shy and constantly underestimate myself. But today it was because I feel like a light-weight around here. I don't know the local buzz words or the Greek language. My mind doesn't work as fast as others and by the time I have something to add the moment has passed by. I want to have good conversations but it's been hard for me to do that in a class setting. (For Rach...it's kinda like sitting in Mrs. B's class trying desperately to earn conversation points only to be drowned out by that girl across the room. Not exactly, but it's what comes to mind right now.)

I'm not going to give up and I'm working to change things, but that doesn't negate the fact that today I'm just frustrated.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Latest Fad

It's official. I've seen it twice in two days. Apparently, all the cool kids are traveling around with their desktops. Laptops are so a thing of the past.
For those that don't know, I work in a coffee shop in New Orleans. I went to wipe down the tables the other day and I saw it for the first time. Some guy had brought his entire home computer into the shop and set it up. Now, I'm in the library (obviously trying to avoid work) and another guy just did the same thing at a study table.
Dust off that old Dell you never thought you could take out in public again. The age of the desktop is back :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Top Three Tuesday

I finally found three things I like in New Orleans...

1. Creole Creamery. All I have to say about this place is "red velvet cake ice cream." What could be better?

2. City Park. I remember City Park from a trip a made to New Orleans in college for an honors conference, but it was cool to see it again. Plus, the art museum located there is free to anyone who lives in Louisiana. After going to Creole Creamery three times, free is good for my wallet :)

3. Mulate's Cajun Restaurant. A couple Fridays ago I went here with a bunch of friends to experience great Cajun food and the restaurant's Zydeco band. My favorite part of the night was when I became a certified Cajun dancer. There was a sweet old man who worked for the restaurant that danced with every female that was willing. After finishing a dance, he gave out a card certifying a Cajun dancing ability. Pretty awesome.


Toodles!

Monday, September 7, 2009

The "Postmodern Crisis"

Here's what's been going on inside my head lately...I was sitting in class on Friday and one of my classmates was presenting on Rabbinic hermeneutics. I don't remember exactly what he was talking about, but I do remember hearing that we could take some pointers from the ancients about how to deal with the "postmodern crisis" that we're dealing with today. Most of my classmates gave knowing nods while my first thought was "Nobody told me that we were having a crisis. Is postmodernism spinning out of control and destroying humanity?"

After a few brief seconds of snide sarcasm in my head, I was actually saddened. While I'm sure my classmate is a great person, he's setting himself up for potential failure in ministry. He sees the present (in the Northeast and West) and future (in the South) mindset of people in the United States as an obstacle to be overcome and corrected instead of a reality that can be worked with for the glory of God.

My main point is this. The message of Jesus has never been in peril. God knew postmodernism was coming and has a plan to engage people in new ways. The question is: are we going to fight against the "crisis" (and lose the respect and attention of many in the process) or are we going to pay attention to our surroundings and see where God is at work?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Oh, Seattle

It's taken me almost a month, but it finally hit me tonight. I miss Seattle. I mean, I really miss Seattle. I miss the wonderful people that made it home, the quirky neighborhoods that I didn't explore quite enough, and certain restaurants that don't have an equivalent anywhere around here. I miss world-class coffee, housing-challenged philosophers, and reliable public transportation. I look for mountains and brilliant shades of green, but all I see is a recovering hurricane zone. Even though I live in a dorm where everybody keeps their doors closed, I keep mine open sometimes because it feels wrong to be cut off from the community. I feel like I've gone from a place where questioning was encouraged to a place where everyone is telling me to conform. Why am I here?

This new city has its own unique culture to be explored and I've already made some pretty amazing friends, but I don't think all of me has made it here yet. My heart is still lagging behind somewhere in Seattle.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Has It Really Been That Long

I kind of remembered tonight that I have a blog that hasn't been updated in almost two months :) Life's been really crazy lately. I left Washington at the end of July, spent a week with my family in Tennessee, and moved to Louisiana a little over a week ago. Life is getting better here everyday. I've made new friends, started classes, and found a really good ice cream shop. New Orleans can't make up for what I left behind, but it's doing a really good job of trying.
So there it is. My "I'm still alive" message. I'll try to put up some pictures tomorrow after I get out of class.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

And Then There Were Fireworks

For the 4th of July, some friends and I went to Gasworks Park to wait for Seattle's big fireworks show. Since we knew the park was going to fill up fast, we went at 2pm to wait for the 10pm show. Getting there that early really paid off with a good view. To pass the time during the day, we played games, soaked in the sun, took turns walking around the park/in the shade, and had a picnic-style supper.
The fireworks show itself was amazing. Definitely worth the eight hour wait. I've posted one of my favorite parts of the show below. I had to edit some of the video to make it fit on here, but I still show the best part.


video

Friday, July 3, 2009

My Latest Project

So, I was sitting around the house a few weeks ago and was thinking how I could make myself even more hippie...just kidding, sorta...
A few weeks ago I got an invitation from one of my students to learn how to make bread in exchange for teaching him how to make my almost-famous snickerdoodles. It didn't sound like a bad deal so I took him up on it. That Saturday I learned how to make basic wheat bread by hand. Yesterday, I made wheat bread again, but this time I put oats in it. I must say that I'm not half bad at baking bread :) The pictures below are of my bread after it was done rising the first time and the finished product.


I'm hoping to take this skill with me when I move and keep making my own bread. I've found that it's a good stress reducer and it builds strength in the arms.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Top Three Thursday

...Portland Edition. I've been to Portland twice in the last two months. Here's what rocked my socks off:

1. Pine State Biscuits. When I mentioned that I was going to Portland for the weekend, I was told that I had to check this place out. And I'm so glad I did. Being from the South, I have high expectations for my biscuits and Pine State definitely met them. Here's a picture of my scrumptious biscuits and gravy.


2. Powell's City of Books. Yes, you read that right. City of books. Powell's is a multi-level bookstore that takes up an entire block. I could get lost in there all day and not even care. It also helps that there are lots of great deals for people on a budget.


3. Voodoo Doughnuts. I heard about this place on TV a couple years ago and had few recommendations to go since moving to Seattle. Voodoo specializes in unusual donuts that are absolutely amazing. Some examples of their great but slightly off flavors include grape kool-aid, M&M, Captain Crunch, Oreo, and their most famous: the bacon maple bar. Yum!


Toodles!

Times, They Are A-Changin'

Why the slightly washed out picture, you ask. Because it accurately describes how I'm feeling right now. For those that are curious, this picture was taken at a beach party we had a couple weeks ago. The friend standing was about to leave for Israel and my other friend was trying to prevent her from going. She wanted to hang on forever, but had to let go eventually (I think around the time the Caribbean Jerk Chicken was done cooking).

I don't deal with change well. For all the traveling that I do and the life I'm committed to leading, you would think that I would be better at coping. And I do cope relatively well, but there are certain aspects in my life that I like to stay rock solid. Right now, things feel more like sand.

Today, major changes happened at the center of my Seattle universe, the building that is both my home and place of business. I got a new boss-man. One month left working in Seattle and I have a new supervisor. Don't get me wrong. The new guy is great and I think that he's gonna do an amazing job at relating to the students and leading the community. It's just kind weird to go to work and answer to a new person.

I think this change is really significant because it is also the first major change in a long line of changes to come. Change of supervisor, change of address, change of occupation, change of culture. Sometimes I look at what is to come and don't think I have the strength in me to make it. I know that I'll survive what's about to happen, but I don't want to just survive. I want to thrive.

Hmm, there may be something significant to the fact that "You Will Pull Through" by Barcelona is playing on my iTunes right now. Funny how that works :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

June

Welcome to my one and only blog post for June. I semi-intentionally took the month off from writing about my life but hope to jump back in full force in July. Here's what I did in June:

1. I turned 24. Yes, I'm one year away from being able to rent a car without having to hand over an arm or leg. A couple of friends took me to Red Robin for lunch and Trophy Cupcake for dessert. Then, my church got together and enjoyed a meal together at one of those restaurants where they cook for the food on the table for supper. They made me dance (badly) before I could get my cheesecake. Hopefully, the video of that will never surface :)

2. I supported my students through finals and all they did in return was leave me. It really wasn't that bad, but I kind of miss them already. A friend gave me a picture of all of us together at our last meal together and I almost started crying. I think crying is going to be a major theme in my life over the next month.

3. I went to the Olympic Peninsula for the first time. A couple of friends and I took a ferry over the day before my birthday. Our main purpose for going was to see the setting of a certain series of books, but we created a lot of our own fun. I think my favorite part was having a picnic on a deserted beach. It was probably one of the more surreal moments in my life.

4. I tried having a relationship with a guy from Oregon, but it didn't work out. Dating is one of those areas that I've struggled with in the past. Amazingly, I'm not overly bummed about this relationship not working, beyond the fact that the guy is extremely nice and fun and I had to disappoint him. God keeps whispering to me that there's something else great coming soon.

5. I had all four of my wisdom teeth taken out. I've already heard all the jokes about being a little less wise so keep them to yourself. Besides the bad jokes, everything went great. The surgery was fast, I didn't swell up like a chipmunk, and I could eat semi-solid foods fairly early. I'm still feeling some pain, but my diet is fairly normal again.

Of course, other fun things happened in June, but those are the highlights. Stay tuned for some fun posts that have been brewing in my mind over the last month. Until then...

Monday, May 25, 2009

On Memorial Day

On Friday morning, I went to a well-known bookstore in Seattle and was looking around in the bargain section. I came across a Mark Twain anthology and looked at the table of contents. I saw that it had "The War Prayer", which is one of the few essays I vividly remember reading in high school English. With today being Memorial Day, "The War Prayer" popped into my mind again. Maybe because Mark Twain's short, but powerful, essay throws some light onto one of the many tensions I've been feeling lately.

On Memorial Day, we're supposed to remember and honor those that have served in the armed forces. Both of my grandfathers served in the military and I respect and love both of them greatly. But how do I honor them without honoring what they were part of? How do I communicate that I no longer pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America without it being a slap in the face to them?

I want to make it clear that I do not hate the United States. It is my homeland on earth and, like my parents' house, I love coming back to it no matter how far I've traveled. But I don't think it's where my ultimate allegiance belongs.

I'm just trying to figure out if there is middle ground here. How do I put feet to my utopian ideals in this very real world?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Letter to Mom

You're always asking for pictures of what I've been up to in Seattle so I put this album together for you. Enjoy!

Back in February, I went to Discovery Park (near Ballard) with a few friends. We had a picnic and walked along the beach until we found the old lighthouse.

After a long afternoon of walking, we passed out on the beach for a while. One older couple that passed by commented that they had thought that we were seals sunning on the beach when they were walking toward us.

I know that you told me that ice cream is not supper food, but I couldn't resist the ice cream sundaes when we stopped at Molly Moon's on the way home. And yes, I did have a stomach ache later. I know you warned me that would happen.

This is the table in Alabama that you inspired. You were right. Kids loved the candy and, therefore, loved me.

Last month, the sun came out for a few days and the cherry blossoms bloomed on campus. This is my favorite shot that I took.

Earlier this month, four of us went to Vancouver for the weekend. We slept in a (very safe and very clean) hostel, visited the market, and had fun downtown.

After realizing that the suspension bridge cost too much for us, we found a park half a mile up the road. We got to hike around this area for free!

On Saturday, I went to Pike Place Market. They had a lot of flowers there for Mother's Day. Since I couldn't actually buy you any, I took a picture for you.

On Sunday morning, I went to the Fremont Sunday Market. I bought some really pretty earrings that I'll wear when I visit home this month.

Fremont has a statue of Lenin that used to be in the Soviet Union. Don't worry. I've picked up a few ideas in Seattle but I haven't become communist.

This morning I went to the Museum of History and Industry. I learned a lot about Seattle's history and saw a Warner Bro.'s exhibit with original drawings. Still, my favorite item in the museum was the Toe Truck. Get it. Ha ha :)

Friday, May 8, 2009

How to Change the World

Recently, I was reading "Letter from Birmingham City Jail" by Martin Luther King Jr. where he defended his methods against the local clergy that wanted him to back off. Amazingly, I had never actually read this famous essay before. It's amazing because I took a upper-division class on post-WWII US history where a lot of attention was given to the civil rights movement. Anyway, while I was reading, a particular paragraph stuck out to me and caused me to think.

"There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Wherever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being 'disturbers of the peace' and 'outside agitators.' But they went on with the conviction that there were 'a colony of heaven,' and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be 'astronomically intimidated.' They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest."

Immediately after reading that, my mind went back to something one of the students that I work with said when we were talking about modern Christianity. She said something along the lines of "The world [the established structure] is supposed to hate us and the people love us. Instead, the people hate us and the world loves us." We're the opposite of what we're supposed to be. The early Christians, as MLK pointed out, were small in number and big in commitment. Today, we're big in number and small in commitment. The Christian faith is hard to "sale" to many people because we care more about ourselves than the hopeless people around us. More time is given to debating predestination than what can be done to stop sex trafficking in our own cities, much less the world.

More and more I'm seeing that the faith I practice is lightyears away from the faith that Jesus talked about. Jesus called us to be, as it says earlier in the letter, "creative extremists." Extremists for Jesus, extremists for what is right, extremists for loving both the people that we know and the people we don't. If the Church transformed into "creative extremists", we would change more lives than any evangelism program could prod us into and our world would look more like the Kingdom that God desperately wants us to live in.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Top Three Tuesday

1. A Year in Photos. I can't believe I've been doing Top Three posts for nearly a year and haven't sung the praises of my friend Rach's website yet. Her photos rock my socks off and make me want to try my hand at photography again. Take a look.

2. "The World That Made New Orleans" by Ned Sublette. This book explores the history of New Orleans from the time of the first known settler to Hurricane Katrina. I'm a self-admitted history geek, but I can't imagine anyone not getting sucked into this well-written story.

3. Thai Tom. There was once a time when I refused to go anywhere near Thai food because of a bad experience, but thankfully someone convinced me to try Thai Tom this year. Everything is made fresh by a cook that moves too fast to see at times and the place is never empty. I have a feeling that I'm going to crave Thai Tom's phad thai the same way I now crave Mexican food from my hometown for years to come. If you're ever in the U-District and have $8 to spare, you should most definitely check it out.

Toodles!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Top Three Thursday

Classic YouTube Version

1. Evolution of Dance. I might have put this on a Top Three list before. Even so, it deserves viewing again. This guy starts with Elvis and goes to modern dance in six minutes. It makes me laugh every time.



2. Classical Guitar. "Canon in D" holds a special place in my heart and this guy makes it sound awesome.



3. Here It Goes Again. I wonder if I could set up the treadmills at the Y to do this. Then again, with my coordination, I would probably hurt myself :)



Toodles!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wandering Wednesday

...or "A Tale of Two Churches"

When I moved to Seattle in 2007, I immediately set out to find a faith community that I fit into. My "shopping list" for a church was pretty short. Solid preaching, close community, and no pressure to be part of every ministry since that's what my other six days of the week were for. I tried a fairly well-known church in the city but figured out after of couple of months of being ignored by everyone and walking out with my ears almost bleeding from the extremely loud music that it wasn't the place for me. But this story isn't about that church.
In October 2007, I started attending Church A. It's an established, multi-generational church in a local neighborhood. The first time I showed up I was only alone for 30 seconds before someone found me and started introducing me around. I was invited to the young adult Bible study and quickly found my first Seattle friends. Even though I had a great community vibe going, I felt like I was supposed to go somewhere else. After Christmas of that year, I continued to meet with my Bible study group but started to look for a different church for Sunday mornings.
I found Church B in early 2008. It's a fairly new church plant about 20 miles north of my house. Even though the commute left something to be desired, I enjoyed the type of music and preaching that I found there. The heard the Holy Spirit talk to me in ways that I hadn't heard in months. I joined a Bible study group there and tried my best to get connected to the larger community. Even after months of attending the church, though, I didn't feel very connected because it was clear that the focus of the church was suburban married couples with kids. Also, my theology did not align exactly with their theology which made for some tense moments in the Bible study group.

That's where I am right now. For the past week, I've been thinking about both of these churches. I'm part of a Bible study at each church (for better or for worse). I have friends and at least a form of support structure at both churches. At Church A, I feel a strong sense of community. At Church B, I strongly feel the Holy Spirit but not much solid community. What should I do? I don't want to be a "church shopper" that constantly changes churches. But I want to be at a place where I feel both a strong sense of community and the Spirit. Should I stay and talk to the pastor of Church B about my concerns and hope it works out or should I return to Church A? Is my view of church unhealthy? Is the church there there to meet my needs or am I here to meet the church's needs? What is the purpose and end of church? I must sound like an awful person, but this is starting to dominate my thoughts.

Oh, and I just heard the first ice cream truck of the year pass my house. That thought was an extra bonus for ya :)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday: Resting and Anticipating

"The next day - on the first day of the Passover ceremonies - the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, "Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: 'After three days I will be raised from the dead.' So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he came back to life!" (Matthew 27:62-64)

There's some debate about what Jesus was doing, spiritually, between his death and resurrection. Some say he descended into hell while others say he went to Paradise (different from Heaven) to get the faithful and take them to Heaven.

Back on Earth: What I find kind of funny about the waiting period was that the Pharisees remembered Jesus' promise to come back from the dead after three days, unlike the disciples. Maybe Jesus infuriated the religious leaders just enough that it stuck out in their minds more than the people that spent every day with him. Maybe the loss of sunlight, the earthquake, and seeing people that were supposed to be dead walking around made them fear that Jesus might actually make good on his word, and they didn't want him to have a way out of his grave. I don't know. So, while the disciples returned home to observe the Sabbath and mourn their loss, the Pharisees made sure the tomb was sealed tightly and guarded.

For me, on this day of anticipation, I'm thinking about the words from Psalm 27: "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

"From the sixth hour until the ninth hour [noon to 3pm] darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'...And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice ['It is finished' according to the gospel of John], he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life...When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, 'Surely he was the Son of God!'" (Matthew 27:45-54)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thursday: Following to the Extreme

So much happened on the Thursday of Holy Week that it's hard to even know where to start. On this day, Jesus shared the Passover meal with his disciples, washed feet, gave commandments and last instructions, prayed, got betrayed by Judas, and endured the first part of his trial by the Jewish leaders.

I guess the part of Thursday that I want to focus on is Jesus praying in the garden. I think what we forget (or, in the case of Calvinists, deny) sometimes is that even though Jesus didn't have a sin nature, he had free will. We think that Jesus went to the cross because he didn't have another choice. He did. He could have left us in the dust and would have been justified doing it. Instead, he agonized for hours, doing what I find myself doing a lot when God tells me to follow His will. He said "I don't want to...please don't make me...for Your glory, Your will be done." And this wasn't a sighed "Fine, whatever your want. I guess if I have to." It was a soul crushing, blood sweating, tear jerking "I will follow you to the extreme, even to my own death, because this is what the world needs and You want."

I think we shy away from the extreme. We don't want the discomfort that comes from going beyond what we're personally in control of. We don't want to show extreme love because it's easier to keep hating our enemies. We don't want to show extreme mercy because it's much more fun to say "You deserve it. Get what's coming to you." We don't want to show extreme faith because there's something in the back of our minds that screams "You're gonna get burned." Through praying in the garden, Jesus showed us what it meant to obey God to the extreme even though the human instinct is to run, hide, and stay comfortable.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wandering Wednesday

After reading all four gospels, I have to admit that I don't know exactly what Jesus was doing on the Wednesday of Holy Week. So, instead of guessing, I'm going to do my usual Wednesday thing.

Ever since this weekend, I've had this internal debate raging in my head. It all started at the conference I went to about Missionality and Kingdom. During one of the breaks, I listened to people talk about their plans for Friday. What sparked my debate wasn't what they were doing on Friday, but what they were calling it: Dark Friday. I may have had my head stuck in the Southern sand a little too long, but I don't think I had ever heard it called that before. To me, it was always Good Friday. Maybe I'm overthinking this, but I think that what we name something conveys meaning and needs to be thought through carefully. If you think I'm being silly about this, feel free to stop reading. You won't offend me. Honest.

What should Friday be called? Maybe it can and should be called both Good Friday and Dark Friday. Here's my analysis. Calling it Dark Friday may convey the deep sense of mourning that Christians feel when we think about the death of Jesus. That Friday was a dark day, even literally at one point right before Jesus gave up his spirit. Jesus experienced a level of agony, both physically and mentally, that I will never experience. His family and friends watched their loved one go through an ordeal that was meant for only the worst criminals. But I feel like calling it Dark Friday doesn't tell the whole story. It was a dark day, but it was a good day also. It was a Good Friday because Jesus' death had meaning and purpose. At the moment of Jesus' death, the price was paid and sin was forgiven. No other sacrifice would ever be needed beyond Jesus. That's good news!

I think where I land on this one is that I will always call it Good Friday. Not because I want to deny the suffering that Jesus went through, but because I want to honor it. Calling it Good Friday may confuse people that are not familiar with Christianity, and that's a good thing. Being able to explain why we call the death of someone that we claim is God in the flesh 'good' is an opportunity to share about forgiveness and, because of the Resurrection, new life. But that's just my thoughts. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday: Confronting Shallow Religion

I don't have a cute analogy to describe what Jesus talked about on the Tuesday of Holy Week, so I'll get right down to it. As I was reading today's passage out of Matthew, Jesus' words gave me that uncomfortable, convicted feeling that I hate but need to learn to not shy away from. My thoughts went something like this on my first read through: "Wow, Jesus is really giving it to those Pharisees. Go Jesus. Give them what for. They deserve it. Oh. Wait. Ouch. That was a low blow there Jesus. Surely you're not talking to me. Oh, you are." (Clearly, I think in a lot of short sentences.)

In Matthew 23, Jesus goes after the shallow religion of the Pharisees in what is traditionally called the Seven Woes. It basically goes something like this. "You are hypocritical people that fail to practice what you preach. You only do what will gain you status in the eyes of those that watch you, and you live to be watched and honored. You teach far and wide only to spread your own stunted form of religion and life. You live by the letter of the law, but fail to see why the law really exists - to teach you to truly love God and care for others. You may look healthy and vibrant on the outside, but I can see that you're long deceased inside. You despise those that try to teach truth and rather kill them than face reality. Despite all this, I try to extend my love to you but all you do is push it away."

Confrontational truth. It's not just for the Pharisees anymore.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday: Cleaning House

I have a confession to make. I'm a bit of a slob. (My family and friends are probably laughing at what an understatement that is right now.) I let surfaces pile up to the point that they no longer serve their original purpose. For example, at this moment, I have so much stuff stacked on my kitchen chairs that I have to sit on the couch to eat. I look at my chairs every day and wish for a couple of seconds that they were empty and useful, but it never gets farther than that.

This confession has a point beyond letting the wired world know that I'm bad at cleaning. In some ways, I think that my spiritual life reflects my apartment's need for a good maid service. I feel like I've got clutter in my soul. I have secret (and not-so-secret) sins that are piled up. I look around every day and think "I should probably get rid of that", but that's usually all it amounts to. Hanging on to sin is so comfortable and requires no hard labor on my part.

This week is Holy Week in the Jesus-following world. It starts with Palm Sunday (which was yesterday) and goes until Resurrection Sunday (a.k.a. Easter). Growing up Baptist, Holy Week was a blip on my radar most of the time. I knew that Jesus had to be doing something on the days between Palm Sunday and Good Friday (the day that Jesus died), but I didn't really look into what that was. It turns out that on Monday Jesus was cleaning house. And not just any house. He spent a part of Monday throwing people out of the Temple in Jerusalem. In a show of righteous anger, he overturned merchant tables and ran off anyone trying to bring in items to sale. They had turned a place that was supposed to be for prayer and worship into a sin-infested business venture.

The Temple in Jerusalem is no longer around, (the Romans took care of that around 70AD) but God still has His temple on earth. It's the souls of those that claim Jesus as their own (1 Corinthians 3:16). Today, the Monday of Holy Week, is a day of temple cleaning. It's not something that is easy and Jesus may look mean for a while, but the ultimate purpose is to return things back to the way God meant them to be.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Top Three Thursday

1. "Kings". I only heard about this new TV show a couple days ago, but now I'm hooked. It's based on the story of Saul and David from the Old Testament, which I always knew would make for a great drama. If you don't mind watching shows online, you can find old episodes here. They rock!

2. "Young Folks" by Peter, Bjorn & John. I have this song on my iPod and every time it comes on I feel like I'm in a movie. There are just some songs that are like that.

3. Sound of Music Flash Mob. For those that don't know, a flash mob is a group of people that agree ahead of time to meet at a certain time and place and do something unusual, like standing still in the middle of Grand Central Station for 5 minutes and then moving on like nothing happened. I've seen lots of flash mob videos over the last couple of years. This video takes the cake though. I would so totally be part of something like this if I could.

Toodles!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Organic Church

Last night and the majority of today, I attended an organic (house) church conference. I signed up to attend a couple weeks ago because there's a good possibility that I'll start a house church in the future. I don't feel called to it now, but God likes to mess with me so I prepare myself. Anyway, while it wasn't exactly what I thought it was going to be, I learned a few things and got reminded of others.
I haven't fully processed all the information and experiences yet, but my main take-away right now is this: I'm not done with tradition church yet. I actually had a short talk about this with a friend who was there. A lot of the people at the conference, including the speakers, realized sometime in the past that the traditional church is broken and so they left. On the other hand, I realized that the church is broken and decided to try and fix it from the inside.
The bottom line is that it takes all kinds. We need the people who leave the institutional church and serve as a voice of challenge from the outside, attracting people that would never darken the doors of a normal church. But we also need the people that serve as a voice from within, making sure that the church doesn't lose sight of its purpose. No one side has the corner on how church is to be done correctly. Church is something that is supposed to be contextual. Just remember, we're all ultimately on the same team, working for the same purpose.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wandering Wednesday

Since Friday night, we've had 11 college students from Alabama staying at the house to help us and our neighbors with ministry. I've been in charge of the group, which means that I am in charge of the normal Seattle culture talks that come with having any outside team work with us. Most of the time these talks consist mostly of me asking, hopefully, thought-provoking questions and hearing some very insightful answers.
Tonight, we had our second culture talk of the week. We were discussing about how the team can take what they've seen in Seattle and translate it into their culture. And then it hit me. I'm about to change cultures. Suddenly, I'm not worried about where I'm going to live or how I'm going to fund my education. I'm thinking about what ways I can live my life so that I'm more in touch with the culture of New Orleans. I'm good at being part of Seattle. I go to the farmers market to buy produce, I have a milkman that personally hands me my steroid-free milk each week, and I use public transportation more than I drive, among a zillion other little things that I do without thinking about them. While some of the things I do here are more out of personal conviction than cultural preference, there are some things that are going to have to change so that I jive with my new surroundings and have common ground with a new set of people. What will that look like and will I be okay?
On a side note, I've been listening to a lot of David Crowder Band lately. I'm normally not a huge fan of worship music, but this is totally different stuff. It's not what my friend would call "7-11 music" with the same seven words being repeated eleven times. Anyway, there's this transition song on the Illuminate album called Coming Toward. I think there's a tremendous beauty in lyricless music that can still describe what my soul is feeling at that moment. It's like I'm having trouble finding the words to tell God what I'm feeling, but then I can hear a song and say "Yeah God. That's what I'm feeling right now."... That hippie Linds moment was free. Enjoy :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

On Lent

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend. We were talking through some of the issues that they were dealing with. Somewhere in the conversation, my friend said "It's funny that Lent is a time of self-sacrifice and I'm being selfish." I thought about that statement for a moment because, as I've participated in this season, I've reflected on why I'm doing it in the first place.
My answer to my friend was something like this: I see Lent as a time of self-sacrifice, but not for the reason of trying to look holy before God and making ourselves miserable. I think of it more as a time of forgiveness and finding a new grace. I'm a messed up person with deep, unconfessed issues that keep me from fully communing with God. These forty days are time for me to confess to God and break before him so that on Easter Sunday I can stand and worship. Because of Jesus' death, I'm forgiven. Because of the Resurrection, I'm truly free.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Updates

I didn't realize that it's almost been a month since I wrote my last post. I guess that just means that I've been busier than usual lately. Or it could mean that I'm lazy. You pick. Here's what's been going on:

1. A former Seattle co-worker came to visit for a few days in February. I don't think I realized how much I missed her until she came back. I was great to be able to hang out and talk for a while. She also introduced me to a great vegetarian restaurant on Roosevelt Way called the Sunlight Cafe.

2. I'm participating in Lent for the first time ever. I went to an Ash Wednesday service at Quest Church at 7 in the morning. I'm not going to say what I gave up or added to my life, but I can say that it shows me what a total failure I am and how forgiving God is when I screw up.

3. At the end of February, I flew to Alabama for work. I was part of a missions fair in a small town and then spoke at a church on Sunday morning. Only one person the entire weekend commented on my lack of accent and, after I fought the strong urge to kick him, I was fine with it.

4. After Alabama, I flew to New Orleans to check out a seminary there. I think my parents and I were all praying that I would either love it or hate it there. I've been plagued with a sense of uncertainty and wishy-washiness lately that's been frustrating me. I'm glad to report that I liked it there. I don't think it was love at first sight or anything, but I think that I can live there and be happy.

5. I ran my first 12-minute mile in forever yesterday. I'm well on my way to meeting my goal of being ready for a 5k in the fall. I just need to work on my breathing technique a little more because my lungs stop working before my legs are tired.

Well, there it is. Other than that, I've just been hanging out with friends and some of the best college students in Seattle.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wandering Wednesday

I was listening to Jars of Clay today while playing my morning rounds of Solitaire. The song "Oh My God" came on. There's this one line that says "We just want to be reminded that the pain is worth the thunder". I realized in that moment why I've been more than miffed at God lately. I've experienced a lot of intense emotional pain throughout the last few years. The pain came from making the right decisions, but that doesn't make it hurt less. I think right now all I want to see is that the pain was worth something. And I'm not seeing that. Thank you to those that are already formulating their response, "But God has a reason and you'll see that one day." I truly appreciate your loving and biblically correct answer. I just want God to take a step toward reminding me that the pain is worth the thunder. That's all.

The line "All I really know is I want to know. All I really know is I don't want to know." has been running through my head all day. I think it's from a Counting Crows song.

I've been doing some theological deconstruction lately. Not because I've lost my faith but because I want to understand more deeply and own it on a whole new level. I figured the first step was to look at Biblical inerrancy since Christians generally believe that one way that God speaks is through the Bible and all theology flows from it. I'm not going to lie. There's a few spots in the Bible that bother me in terms of inerrancy and I still don't have an answer to them, but if someone off the street asked me what I thought I would probably give them a good evangelical answer. I don't want to go the way that many go and just say that the Bible is authoritative but not necessarily inerrant. If it's not all it's cracked up to be, why give it authority? On the flip side, it bothers me that people claim that the Bible is inerrant and then pick and choose what parts of the Bible they're going to follow. If you are going to believe it, own it with all of your being.
I still haven't formulated a complete answer on Biblical inerrancy, but I have a feeling that when the decision is made, it will radically effect the way that I live life.

Thanks for sticking with me for another wandering Wednesday. Happy trails.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Top Three Thursday

It's so convenient that two days of the week start with T...

1. Beth's Cafe. I've heard about this place since I moved to Seattle, but my unreasonable phobia of driving on Green Lake Way kept me from going. Earlier this week, I finally went with a few of the people from my house. I was leery at first because it reminded me a lot of Huddle House, but once my humongous blueberry milkshake (with whole blueberries and lots of whipped cream) came out I was converted. Maybe next time I'll get the 12 egg omelet... Yeah, right.

2. Rosetta Stone Online. I recently coughed up the money to learn French again. I took two years in high school and 3.25 semesters in college. I can read French amazingly well, can listen to it fairly well, and can't say more than two phrases. That's changing my friends. I can already say "The cat is on top of the table" with no fear thanks to Rosetta Stone.

3. "The Spirit of the Disciplines" by Dallas Willard. I'm only about half-way through the book right now, but so far it's amazing. I'll probably do a book review when I've put all the competing thoughts this book has caused together. But don't wait for me to finish. Go grab a copy.

Toodles!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wandering Wednesday

I meant to write this last night but ended up being too tired/lazy. Anyway...

Last night I went to my community group from church. Like any good Acts 29 church plant, we were discussing original sin and the fall of man. We came to a question about Genesis 3:16b, "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." I shared my two cents about the verse and got the usual blank stares I get when I actually speak my mind. Is it possible that this verse is cursing both the woman and the man? Is it foreshadowing the over-reaching of power on both sides of the table? Or am I just a feminist heretic?

Are thoughts sins or is the thought put into action the sin? If an erroneous thought pops into my head and I immediately dismiss it, have I still sinned? I'm not too worried about this one, but it was a huge topic of debate last night.

"If salvation is to affect our lives, it can do so only by affecting our bodies. If we are to participate in the reign of God, it can only be by our actions. And our actions are physical - we live only in the processes of our bodies. To withhold our bodies from religion is to exclude religion from our lives. Our life is a bodily life, even though that life is one that can be fulfilled solely in union with God.
Spirituality in human beings is not an extra or 'superior' mode of existence. It's not a hidden stream of separate reality, a separate life running parallel to our bodily existence. It does not consist of special 'inward' acts even though it has an inner aspect. It is, rather, a relationship of our embodied selves to God that has the natural and irrepressible effect of making us alive to the Kingdom of God - here and now in the material world"
- Dallas Willard, "The Spirit of the Disciplines"

Thanks for sticking through to the end :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Top Three Tuesday

1. The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Yes, the Nickelodeon show from the early '90s. I got the first season from the Seattle Public Library this week. Watching it makes me realize that I'm getting older but also that my generation had the best TV shows ever!

2. Bones. I usually don't get into crime shows, but this one is good. There's a lot of humor mixed in with the drama. I just can't seem to get enough of it lately.

3. Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables. I made this delicious concoction tonight for supper. I've been on a big cookbook kick lately and came across this recipe in one of Giada De Laurentiis' books. It takes a little time and effort to make, but it's totally worth it.


Toodles!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wandering Wednesday

...or Wondering Wednesday. Either way, it works. Here's what's on my mind:

"Faith, as we've seen, is the cornerstone that keeps our organizations together. Faith is the cornerstone of humanity; we can't live without it. But religion is very different from faith. Religion is just a set of invented protocols, rules to live by (for now). Heretics challenge a given religion, but do it from a very strong foundation of faith."

"My take: I despair for most of the top fifty nonprofits in the United States. These are the big guys, and they're stuck. Far more than the Fortune 100, not known for being cutting edge in themselves, the top charities rarely change. If you're big, you're used to being big and you expect to stay big. That means that generation after generation of staff has been hired to keep doing what's working. Big risks and crazy schemes are certainly frowned upon."

"People don't believe what you tell them.
They rarely believe what you show them.
They often believe what their friends tell them.
They always believe what they tell themselves.
What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves. Stories about the future and about change."

All quotes are from "Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us" by Seth Godin. It's a random read, but one that I recommend for anyone that wants to lead in the modern world.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Acts 16

First things first. My dad celebrated the first half-century of his life this week, so I would be amiss if I didn't say: HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!! You're the best-est ever :)

As you probably know, I've been stressing a lot lately about whether to stay in Seattle another year or go back to school. On Sunday night, I listened to part of a sermon series on Acts. I used to think that the book of Acts was a book of church history with a little Pentecost action at the beginning and Paul ticking the known world off for the rest of it. It has never been one those go-to books for when I'm trying to make tough life decisions or needing comfort. I think that God gave me my answer using Acts 16 though.

So, in Acts 16:6-10, Paul is on one of his missionary journeys (I can never keep them apart). Thinking that he is doing what he is supposed to, he tries to go into Mysia. When he gets to the border, the Holy Spirit keeps him from going in. That night, he has a vision of someone begging him to come to Macedonia and takes that as direction from God.

Paul going into Mysia would have been a great move. It was an area with direct access to the major trading routes of the day. Trade routes were the Internet of the ancient world. They not only moved material products but also information and ideas. If I were Paul, I would ask God what He was doing keeping me from making my genius move. The thing is, because Paul ultimately went to Macedonia, he was able to present the gospel to what would eventually become Europe. Years later, Europe sent out the pioneering missionaries that spread the Word to countries like India and China. Pretty cool.

What does this have to do with me? It has to do with open doors and closed doors. I feel like I've been standing at a dead-bolted door trying desperately trying to get in because it's what I think is best. All the while, right next to the locked door is a door that is wide open. I'm not going to say which door is which right now. The main point is that I recognize what's been going on and what I need to do about it. *sigh of relief*

Oh, and if you want to hear the sermon where I got most of this from, just click here.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

25 Random Facts

I worked hard enough on this for a facebook thing that I thought I might as well make a blog post out of it :)

1. I love drinking coffee, but only decaf.
2. I heart the little Reese's eggs that come out around Easter.
3. I'm not very fond of my middle name.
4. I actually enjoy watching football even though I don't know what's going on.
5. I bake cookies when I'm stressed.
6. I come up with answers to complex problems in my sleep so I take a lot of short naps.
7. I have a goal of visiting every continent at least once, including Antarctica.
8. I'm an introvert that gets my energy from being around people.
9. I skim over names when I read so I can never tell you a character's name from a book.
10. I've had the same best friend for 20 years.
11. The only food I'm allergic to is Papa John's Pizza.
12. I'm borderline OCD about punctuation and the time I get up in the morning.
13. I only notice that my walls are two tones of yellow and my carpet is orange when people point it out to me.
14. I'm a loyal St. Louis Cardinals fan but can't carry a conversation about them.
15. I can't sleep with socks on.
16. I only play board games when I'm forced to.
17. I don't like kids older than 3 until they're in high school.
18. I'm addicted to the little donuts that they sell at the farmers' market.
19. I can only pronounce 'oil' correctly when I'm thinking really hard about it.
20. I have a love/hate relationship with my hamster Gideon.
21. Cooking stores are my happy place.
22. I know pi to the 8th decimal place.
23. I love to people watch.
24. I always read the last paragraph first.
25. (I'm still working on this one. I apparently don't lead a very random life.)

Edit: It has been pointed out by my aforementioned friend of 20 years that I take a sudden, deep breath in when I wake up. Sorry about scaring you all those years Rach :) There's your #25.