don't you fold, gram and gramps

"Seems like kids don't respect anyone these days... they don't even respect themselves." Gram was telling me stories of the kids on her afternoon bus route, "I just don't know anymore." "Well, we've got to hold on to hope... because if we don't have hope what do we have?" I kind of threw it out there hoping it wouldn't sound as trite as it felt.

I told her to pass that on to Grandpa and that's when I found out he was on the line too. I could see the whole scene unfold in my mind: Grandma picked up the phone by the computer and when she said, "Well, Caroline, hello!" she made a motion for Gramps to get on the other line and he went into the kitchen to listen in.

Anyway, so Grandpa was in the kitchen, Grandma was in the living room and I was on my way to make my lunch and walk the dog. Grandpa said, "I just wake up every morning and thank God for another day. I say, 'God, help me not waste this day because it's a gift.' And I just got to keep thinking like that."

I smiled and I hoped they heard it in my voice. Grace and thanks. Thanks and grace.

We can't persuade ourselves into an attitude of thanks. We are predisposed to passivity when it comes to thanks, if it wasn't for grace. Only by the grace of God can we look at the world (and at the children who lack respect for themselves or others) and see hope. But it is also only by the grace of God that we can look at the world and see how dark and dreadful it is without hope.

God gives us grace to see darkness and grace to see light and grace to recognize the difference, because we must know from where we came.

Paul writes to the church in Corinth,

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)

And such were some of you. Paul is clear about who will inherit the kingdom of God, but he is also clear that the Gospel is not about keeping people out. The Gospel is about bringing people in and, with the transforming power of God alone, making them new. When Paul writes to the church in Corinth, he doesn't have them all stand by the windows so he can point out sinners walking down the street. No, Paul reminds them of their own lives before they were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.

After youth group tonight, I invited a student out to coffee and while I was in the bathroom she overheard a table of middle-aged men chatting about how one of them "scored" on a young blonde.

It's true - people don't respect others or even themselves anymore and it's not just the children on my grandparents' bus routes. It's so true it makes me sick to my stomach. Sin has a way of smothering my heart and suffocating my lungs. It's just so ... dreadfully ugly.

But weren't we once this dreadfully ugly?

God is gracious in allowing us to see sin and evil because only then will we see the weight of grace in our own deliverance.

Don't fold, Gram and Gramps. Don't you fold when you're driving those precious children and they're running the aisles with arms flailing and curses like sailors. Love because He first loved you.

There's a lot a darkness out there, so don't you fold.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UyFRQGZ8NA]

Don't you fold When the mountain is high, When the river is wide Don't you fold When you're out of your mind, When you're walking the line

so blessed are we

My heart grows like a fire spreads when I set my mind on the blessing in loving Christ. This morning we read Paul's prayer for those in Philippi,

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11 ESV)

... that love may abound more and more. There is no cap on a love that is always increasing and no exhausting of gifts that come about as a result of that increasing love. We are so unbelievably blessed as we love and treasure our Savior. As we share in His suffering today and as we share in His holiness, so blessed are we.

So blessed. So undeservedly and abundantly blessed in our loving of Christ.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT4_QSR0NWI]

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

the beauty of holiness

As a follow up to yesterday (and as a point of clarification), I'll let John Piper give a little background for the "killing sin" comment in my post. This is an excerpt from the sermon yesterday that concluded the conference, available here in manuscript form.

The beauty of holiness in God’s children is the harmony, or the concord, between our lives and the infinite value of all God is. And that God predestined us to holiness because his aim is that earth be filled with the beauty of holiness — the expression of the infinite worth of his transcendent fullness.

And on the way to that predestined beauty we have seen that God cancelled the sins of his people by the death of his Son. And then he commanded that we break the power of this cancelled sin — that we kill sin and pursue holiness. And then he instructed us to act the miracle of holiness by the power of the Spirit, and because he is at work in us to will and to do this very miracle. He authors it, we act it. And then he showed us that we tap into this sanctifying, sin-killing, holiness-producing power by the hearing of faith. By hearing all that God promises to be for us in Jesus, and embracing this as our supremely satisfying treasure.

I love that "on the way to that predestined beauty we have seen that God cancelled the sins of his people by the death of his Son."

We are swept up into this way-more-than-my-lifetime journey toward predestined beauty, but not by accident or afterthought. We are swept up intentionally, commanded to break the power of our cancelled sin and instructed to act this miracle of sanctification by the power of the Spirit and through the hearing of faith. On the way to an end God could already be enjoying, He sets us (saints in Christ's name) on the holiness path with eyes to see both the abundant joy of the path and the unbelievable delight in God's aim is to fill the whole earth with His holiness.

Do I make much of my Savior - do I love Him supremely by acting the miracles He has authored in my life?

I'm still chewing on this, but there's plenty of meat to go around. What are your thoughts?

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

God the author, we the actors

I assume a certain posture when words escape me. Thankfully, it's a much more culturally acceptable posture than the one of my mind in the same moment (jumping, leaping, and exploding with wild gestures). It looks like pursed lips, furrowed and thoughtful brows, shoulders bent in, and eyes fixated on the thought threatening to wriggle free of my grasp. This is how I spent the weekend - with body borderline catatonic while my mind raced after revelations that came as a steady stream through the preaching and teaching from the Word at the Desiring God Conference. My pen sped across journal pages to scratch out notes and doodle inspirations; every once in a while I would nod or grunt or breathe out an "Amen!" with an agreement my heart could feel.

I think I would say this is one of many postures of praise, informed by a grace I still don't fully appreciate. It is in this posture I heard these words,

God works in you as the Author of the miracle and then you act the miracle.

Jesus gave sight to the blind, but it is the blind man who opened his eyes to do the seeing. Jesus healed the lame man, but it was the lame man who stood up to do the walking. Jesus canceled my debt of sin at the cross (Colossians 2:15), but it is I who must do the living out of my new sinless status. Through faith, it is I who must daily conquer that canceled sin by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Imagine if the blind man had not opened his eyes or the lame man had not stood up to walk. Imagine the miracles begging to be acted out, already authored by God but with hearts unwilling to be the actors. If the blind man does not open his eyes or the lame man does not stand, there is no evidence that he can see or stand. We must act out this miracle because in its acting out we see its reality.

I must act the miracle God authored because, as John Piper said, "Killing sin - pursuing holiness - is essential for salvation. The will to kill sin is the SIGN that sin is canceled."

Whooooosh. Like the thrill in knowing a roller coaster must descend with the rush of gravity after climbing to its highest height, my heart raced with these words that explained a truth already hidden in my soul.

Though my arms waved wildly in my mind, I maintained my outward posture of praise as I considered sanctification. I felt literally swept up in the joy and exhilaration of acting out the miracle God has already authored in my life. The process of becoming holy begins with the reality that God is holy - and we are invited to share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).

We are invited to be like God (1 Peter 1:14-16) as we effectively conform our feelings, thoughts, and actions into complete harmony the infinite worth of the transcendent, trinitarian fullness of God.

What. an. invitation.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

brushstrokes like fire

 

This series of moments called autumn, when fall picks up her paintbrush and tickles the leaves with shades of fire, is favorite. When the morning wakes up to shine the sun's spotlight on the trees stretching out in multi-colored glory, you might as well give me a brown paper package all tied up with string.

This is favorite. (so much so that it is indeed worthy of noun status)

Autumn. Harvest. Provision. Beauty. Gatherings. Family. Colors. Bonfires. Hot drinks. Fall. Road trips. Friends. Books. Blankets.

When the September sun warms like a blanket on a cool, 70 degree day, Creation sings melody along with its painful, groaning harmony to the tune of "already, not yet."

Even the seasons invite a study of God!

I delight in the beauty of the season unfolding around me, but I am acutely aware of all the ways Creation groans for complete restoration - where beauty can be displayed forever, free from any threat to its perfect and colorful song.

Here, in this season of beauty, we are home. And here, in this season of beauty, we long for home.

So, today I am singing with lungs and heart full of praise for the One who invites me in to His  always home.

 

when home is hard to... define

If you ever want to get good and sad, do a search in your iTunes for the word "home." I trimmed the playlist to 50, but that's 3:30:06 worth of accompaniment for where I'm not. I've got quite the assortment - from the Peasall Sisters to Coheed and Cambria, from Matthew Mayfield to Waterdeep and from Eliza Doolittle to Trent Dabbs, from Mark Scibila to Iron & Wine and Mates of State to Sarah Jarosz. Simon & Garfunkel even make an appearance, followed by Phil Wickham and William Fitzsimmons.

And they are all singing, desperate and hopeful, about home.

I can't really explain it, but these melodies rustle up a restlessness that says, "You're not home in this moment" and it doesn't even matter where my feet are currently planted. I could be standing in the middle of my childhood home or lounging in one of 10 places I've called "home" since then and it wouldn't matter. There's something distinctly not home-y about life and there are reasons to be discontent about it.

Come on, join in with me. Throw your discontent in my kettle and we'll stir us up some comfort food.

I'm not where I thought I would be at 27... I really wish I had the kind of friends who... It seems like nobody really knows me around here... My laundry does not have the "this definitely came from my house" smell... I can manage to go from Monday - Friday completely anonymous, if I want... If only I could get away and have some time to think... I would feel at home if I was a "regular" at the coffee shop... Home feels more like a tractor when I'm at an office desk and more like an office desk when I'm in a tractor...

I don't know what makes where you are not home, but it's a funny science - this discontent. I think I realized as my heart beat along with the rhythm of these tunes that I need to add home and here and there to the list of "things to hold loosely."

When we are tempted into discontent about the place we find our two feet (for all the pages of reasons we rush to number), it's okay to be honest. It's okay to sing sad songs about home and speak our discontent into the unforgiving air.

But discontent will become our sin when we hold too tightly and hope too strongly for what we don't have.... then discontent becomes a bitter root or a seed of jealousy. Our comfort in the most desperate, sojourning moments is that our always home is not attached to location or city or nation.

In those kind of moments - when I think about all the places I am not - I breathe deep and trust that God is.

If you need to speak your wandering, sojourning spirit into the unforgiving air today, here are some tunes. But, please, don't hold too tightly or hope too strongly for what you don't have.

You have an invitation to always home.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/37645381]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHAZz6HqJ8U]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zM3-gGB_rMw]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rbr80q4Rq1o]

Here is the one you listen to when you realize where you are always home.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

wherever your feet are planted in this moment

why a scrunched up nose is never becoming

Awhile back my brother said something that got under my skin. I mean, really got good and messy - hit a nerve I think because I flared up real defensive like. He said he hoped I wasn't becoming a cynic.

I scoffed and stuttered and scrunched up my nose in protest. Cynic? Me? The one who thinks optimistically about how many plans can be overlapped in one day and about how many grocery bags can be carried at once and that if you sing a song loud enough or dance a jig brave enough the whole world will notice? Me?

I didn't take it very well.

He brought it up because I wasn't really a fan of the newest social justice movement to hit social media. I wasn't against it, necessarily, but I wasn't throwing money in their direction either. The way I described it to my brother Sam was like this, "There are a lot of good things going on out there - a lot of people doing good. I just choose to support other causes."

Recently, while reading "A Praying Life" by Paul Miller, I decided it was about the shape of my eyes and the scrunch of my nose when I look at the world. I would never describe myself as a cynic, but there are times when I look at the world like nothing is possible. Like we're "headed to hell in a handbasket" and "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" - all the older folk, that is, who sit in the diners with 50 cent bottomless coffees and talk about how "everything's gone to pot."

Maybe that's when having an old soul is unfortunate - when you feel like you've seen enough of life to know that people don't follow through and good causes are corrupt and you can't even trust your own resolve.

That's when I realized the danger of furrowed eyebrows and a scrunched up nose. There's no wonder in that facial expression; no joy in the possibility of ANYTHING being possible. The danger of furrowed eyebrows and a scrunched up nose is what we don't want to grow up into. Because we never want to grow out of wide-eyed wonder. Never. Well, I don't at least. I always want to breathe hope in with deep, lung-filling breaths.

I want to live like everything is possible - like one person really can move a mountain by faith or bring a rainstorm with prayer or heal a paralytic with petitions. I want to believe that God could paint the sky in new colors tonight and that tomorrow I could wake up and not need my glasses (I always squint like spiderman to see if I'm cured).

I want to live like everything is possible because a scrunched up nose is never becoming. It's  not attractive to throw water on the fire in people's bellies and I think that's sometimes what I do with my scrunched up nose.

Today was gloriously opposite a scrunched up nose. Today FILLED to overflowing with possibility and I'm still drinking it in as my fingers stiffen with the cool, autumn air on the back porch. Today, my eyes were wide with the wonder of Creation singing the praise of its Creator while I breathed in deep so I could sing along.

I sent my brother a text the other day to thank him for calling me out. It probably seemed strange that it took me so long, but I'm thankful even if I am slow in learning.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fz4ZOAsjW6g&feature=related] Thanks, Amanda, for delighting my ears with this brilliance!

shouting praise with sinner-strangers

Lord of all the earth we shout Your name, shout Your nameFilling up the skies with endless praise, endless praise Yahweh, Yahweh! We love to shout Your name O, Lord!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0eL88Zufic&feature=related]

There was something sacred about a the crowd of sinners filling up the Knapp Center with praise last night. And I'm not just saying that because sacred sounds postmodern and ambiguous and the right kind of religious. I use the word sacred because sometimes I need to shake off all my cynicism about Christian music and shout the name of the Lord with a bunch of stranger-sinners because the Lord deserves my praise.

Period.

I didn't know very many people - what kind of car they drove up in or what kind of family situation they'd be driving back to after we all filed out - but we must have all understood the invitation to fill the skies with praise. I was literally sing-shouting in harmonizing fashion and I couldn't stop the grin that raced across my face. I felt like Will Ferrell in Elf,"I'm in love, I'm in love and I don't care who knows it."

J.I. Packer said, "Any theology that does not lead to song is, at a fundamental level, a flawed theology." And sometimes we have to start singing to remember all the songs hidden in our hearts. Sometimes we get wrapped up in the time signature and the notes on the page and the really tricky key change on page 43... and we forget to sing.

We forget all His benefits. We forget His abundant goodness. We forget what we once were. We forget He is the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

We forget to sing.

I really did get a little overwhelmed - thinking about all the sin we brought into that place; all the brokenness and despair and guilt and regret that hung on us like dark clouds. Sin is not unfortunate or uncomfortable - not something we can "get over" or medicate with the right public service announcement. I got overwhelmed because there was a song on the other side of the dark clouds hanging from all of us sinner-strangers.

There is a song to sing when we step back and look at the sheet music and realize the Lord of all the Earth upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. He is Provider, satisfying the desires of every living thing. He is righteous and kind and near to those who call on Him in truth (Psalm 145:14-18 paraphrase).

His response to a bunch of sinner-strangers singing His praise is delight. He delights in the praises of His people (Psalm 149:4). He delights. The Lord of all the Earth delights when sinner-strangers sing His praise.

Please, let's not forget to sing.

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.] The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. (Psalm 145 ESV)

the highest stakes always involve darkness

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYz0JWJioOM] As Bilbo scatters chickens with his flailing arms and excited steps, a neighbor calls out haltingly, "Mr. Bilbo, where are you off to?"

Without even the slightest hesitation and between lopsided, barefoot strides he yells back, "I'm... going... on... an... adventure!"

Breathless. Flailing. Determined.

The grin that anticipates adventure somehow stretches from head to toe ... and it tingles. It's that tingly kind of grin we get when risk and purpose and fear and excitement explode in an opportunity called adventure. For some reason, we are convinced the purpose is worth the risk and the excitement is worth the fear. And probably for that same reason, we wake up like Neverland waits on the other side of our bedroom door and run down the road like we're planning to catch a ride on a magic carpet. Breathless, flailing determination that easily makes breakfast and the morning paper no longer important.

"A dark part has found a way back into the world."

The highest stakes always involve darkness. Always. There is no lopsided, barefoot run into something already discovered - something already tamed from its twilight.

Please don't misunderstand: it's not the darkness that excites, but what happens when a match is struck in a thick darkness. The danger of running into darkness is every bit worth it when you are holding what will make the dark light. The risk makes the hair stand straight up on our necks, but the thought of shedding light where darkness reigns is the reason adventure gets thick with breathless, failing determination.

Run with me and cast off your ordinary plans, but first - do you know where the darkness is and have you got any light to offer?

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

As you can tell, I am more than a little bit excited for The Hobbit to come out. I have watched this trailer over and over and over again and it never gets old. The highest stakes always involve darkness and this film will certainly paint it in its truest shade.

when the beat becomes the rhythm

I'm not sure what that means,

when the beat becomes the rhythm

but it seems like what's happening to my prayers. I think I was trying to tackle 4/4 time -  to wrestle my prayer life into a disciplined and acceptable metronome pace. I'm not sure, but I think something beautiful is happening.

My prayers are sounding desperate. My prayers are starting with, "Oh, I don't know..." and "Oh, help me trust You..." My prayers are getting frequent.

Have you ever found yourself bobbing your head to a song, without wanting to or meaning to bob your head at all?

Maybe there's no disciplining or wrestling ourselves into the right kind of prayer life.

What if we're drawn into the rhythm of prayer by the beat of our desperate hearts? What if, when we finally get good and helpless, prayer is the song we bob our hearts to in those moments of anxiety or months of indecision?

What if the beat becomes the rhythm?

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

I'm reading A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller right now with a small group and loving the journey. I definitely encourage you to check it out.

a film to see

I'm not someone who thinks history should be told through the rosy lens of the discontented nostalgic, but I am someone who thinks Steven Spielberg knows how to make a great film. Ever heard of him? Let me jog your memory: Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, Catch Me If You Can, Jurassic Park, Memoirs of a Geisha, Transformers. I hope in LINCOLN he is true to both history and his art... and I hope it makes us think.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiSAbAuLhqs&feature=player_embedded#!]

fall asleep counting my blessings

You know the scene I'm talking about, right? The scene from White Christmas where Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney meet in the middle of night because both can't seem to sleep... and so the famous duet, "Counting My Blessings" emerged. Today, I'm open-eyed, sleep-counting. The thing is, there are almost too many blessings to get sleep. I wonder what advice Bing Crosby would have for that...

I invented a recipe today and made a royal mess of the kitchen. I didn't set out to be so creative, but I got there real quick after I got cavalier with the size of my baking pans. I was pretty hopeful when I poured the harvest brownie batter into three pans of different sizes and pretty disappointed when the baking soda/powder didn't expand my desserts like I hoped.

So harvest brownies became chocolate cream cheese fudge layered brownie dessert. Yes, it became that. I mixed up a cream cheese frosting that failed, which led to the cream cheese, chocolate fudge number that succeeded (I think) and became the finger-licking middle to the two unfortunately thin layers of harvest brownie.

All this while the roast cooks in the crock pot and the bean salad waits to be made on the counter, because tomorrow is Food at First downtown and I've got friends to meet up with still tonight.

Blessings.

Full days and short sleeps can keep a person counting without ever falling asleep. It's a place I could easily navigate as a 20-year-old and one I don't want to admit is getting harder.

Prayer walking with high-schoolers in the afternoon, teaching college students this morning, baking with cinnamon and pumpkin: blessings. Football games, acoustic guitar sessions in the basement, sitting in the balcony to worship with new community, hearing the Word of God preached with power: blessings. Laughing in the fellowship hall after church, breathing in the breeze on an autumn walk, riding mo-peds under the star-speckled sky, clustering around a tailgate for celebration, stretching the late night hours until they break: blessings.

I am not falling asleep, but I will keep counting.

Counting my blessings.

keep your heart young

  Just do it. No, seriously, just keep your heart young.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFtLhbgM670]

Today, I'm celebrating so many things: Dia de Independencia with my Honduran family and friends, Iowa State football (expected) victory my Dad's birthday tailgating with friends and family the changing colors of falling leaves coffee pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting bike rides mo-peds cardinal red and gold

And, I'm remembering all the ways Jesus encouraged the disciples to be like children - to blurt things out and come to Him messy, injured, and out of breath. Children are precocious little bugars, but they don't mess around with pretense. And I think this is why they can delight in the wonderful, little things and be so transparent about their tantrums. They've got nothing to hide - and they'll tell it like it really is.

This is a young heart. And I'd like to keep mine that way.

 

joy: a moral obligation

Given the opportunity to experience joy, are we morally obligated to take advantage? My cousin Vince sent me a text in the hours between night and morning - just a little note about he and his new college friends wrestling with the idea of joy.

It's something I've been in the middle of pondering for a couple days and reading his text in partial wakefulness brought it into clearer view - what do we do when joy is on the other side of an open door?

Open Doors

"Taste and see that the Lord is good," from Psalm 34:8 and "Delight in the Lord and He will give the desires of your heart," from Psalm 37:4 both imply action before experience. A person can read these verses a hundred times, recite them with monk-like stoicism and meditate on them with scholarly reverence. But, there is a threshold implied in the command, for tasting and seeing happen only with open mouth and eyes.

Something must be eaten to be tasted, no? Something must be experienced before it is pronounced delightful, no?

What do these open doors to joy look like and how many have I walked by?

It's crazy how relentless God is to pursue us with opportunities to experience Him. He doesn't give up when I pass by an open door marked "FOR YOUR JOY" with a foolish hope that there is something better down the road. He doesn't flinch when I've opted out of His best for my safe settling of just okay. His patience in pursuit overwhelms me because it's so altogether different from our apathetic inclinations.

I'm still thinking through these joy questions - still trying to figure out if it's a sin to walk by those open doors clearly marked for God's glory and my joy. But I'm not confused about joy being good. It's something I'm willing to fight for.

Here are some helpful ways to fight for joy, from John Piper at Desiring God.

hard way home in the passenger seat

Remember when you graduated from high school and the world stretched out like an open road in front of your new-to-you, college-bound car? Remember that? Somehow my car circled around and I'm staring at the same highway and when Brandi Carlile sings the chorus of "hard way home," I belt it louder than is probably appropriate for my post-college age.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AV5TRO1BqU]

Now, Brandi and I disagree on a few things - some of them pretty major. But, I find a very steady solidarity in our choosing the "hard way home." I'm stubborn. And sometimes my stubbornness gets me into sin, a lot of times I guess. I can look back at my tracks and, with Brandi, point to times I should have redirected my steps but pressed on for pride or fear or foolishness.

I don't know how Brandi feels when she sings this song, but what I feel is gratitude. Oh, man! I'm such an obstinate and fickle girl. I don't know why anyone would have patience with my antics, but the Lord is steady as an oak and faithful like the sun. Though the lost in me thinks faking my death would be an exciting escape (see the bridge), the found in me delights in knowing that I can never be hidden.

With my car facing that same, great highway, the "hard way home" isn't a lonely trek when you are sitting in the passenger seat.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

grace for the grumps

I like my second job because of the people. I like to ask questions about their lives and find out what makes them laugh. I like to listen to stories from their growing up years and I especially like when the stories keep going after the time clock packs it's punch.

I don't like drinking a fountain soda without any fizz.

What I mean is... I don't like it when things that are supposed to be awesome, aren't.

The main reason I've held onto job #2 is because of the relationships I never would have had otherwise. And I love it. I love biking through campus to get there, throwing out my hellos when I walk in the door, catching up with Jeremiah and learning about Derek's newest future plans. I love meeting new co-workers and seeing them smile. I didn't really know why the print shop was the only part-time work I could find in the city of Ames back in December, but now I'm convinced it's because I needed to meet Jeremiah and Ann and Derek and Mike and Paul and Katherine.

They are the fizz in the fountain soda called job #2 and yesterday was missing the carbonation. I came in with my usual bounce, but fell promptly into a rut of work orders and frustrating design dilemmas and a case of the workplace grumps. All my answers were short and the space between customers was silent.

I fumed because I love my fizz (have you had ever fountain soda without it?) and then the dissonance got too great.

I punched the clock, walked outside with Ann and thought, "maybe the fizz is here after all." I invited her for dinner and then to a prayer class at my church.

Later on last night, when my new friends Ann, Alyssa, and Nicole (all new or new again to Ames) sat around a table playing Taboo, I thought about all the flat soda I'd been drinking... all those days that seemed ruined because they didn't go as planned. And then I thought, maybe it's a mental thing. Maybe when I expect a day to go flat, it does. Maybe there's a lot more fizz in my days and I just have to train my taste buds to recognize the flavor.

Maybe God grants grace for my grumps so that flat days still have fizz.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

when fun breaks open like a piñata

By Saturday at 9 pm, the streets of Ames still lingered with the day's cardinal and gold victory. A fall chill had crept up after the sun hid itself away behind the horizon and the night was ...

the night was a piñata of possibility.

The coffee brewed with promise as we made plans huddled together like elementary children conspiring a make believe world takeover on the playground. After we'd quibbled about layers and assembled our ragamuffin band, we lined up to break the piñata of possibility and scrambled to enjoy all the fun spilling out.

How many mo-ped gangs do you know that follow the blaring, ride-worthy music of a DeWalt stereo bungee-strapped to one of its riders? How many mo-ped gangs do you know that get high fives driving through campus and hollers as they go down the highway? How many, uh, mo-ped gangs do you know?

Sure, my headlight was actually a flashlight taped to my handlebars and James pedaled several times around the block to get his mo-ped started. Sure, we all felt the fumes of the vintage bikes and made frequent stops to regroup and collect the stragglers who couldn't accelerate enough to keep up. Sure, there were several Chinese fire drills at stoplights and shenanigans on straightaways. Sure, we pulled in to the gas station and $8.00 topped us all off.

The Mighty Unicorn gang rides the streets with orange caution flags waving proudly, picking up all the fun the nights can hold.

And by 2:00 am, every possible piece had been savored.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

wake up, wake up

"We have seen the hope of Your healingrising from our souls - Oh, is the feeling we are drawing close Your light is shining through"

This morning, I am singing my heart into wakefulness. I am singing my soul into serenade to the One who gives me voice, the One who gives me notes, the One who gives me breath -

the One who wakened me.

What a glorious thing to be AWAKE in this life - to feel the wind gripped by Autumn and see the sky painted in shades of blue. What a glorious thing to be AWAKE and how desperate the call to wake the still sleeping.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=03YxgFrDreg&NR=1]