con una corona de espinos

I walked in the door about half an hour ago and I'm glad at the thought of my pillow. God continues to show His grace and blessing, though I am still training myself to look for it. Tonight, I'm thinking on these two things: this article based off a Mark Driscoll sermon, and this Spanish worship song.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeFsFW2rMtg&hl=en_US&fs=1&]
I'll let you figure out how they connect. Something along the lines of God's victory and strength preparing the way for men to lead as they were intended. Well, that, and we need no invitation or permission to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior. He is King forever!

community is a must, but worry is not

I already knew this was true, but this little clip from the sermon today was just the reminder I needed.

In total, my Sabbath had four sermons in it and I feel blessed to have heard every one. After I read about John leaping for joy, I had to catch up with Mary's response and her song. I'm going through Luke (I started kind of late) with Mars Hill church and this sermon on Mary's song grabbed my very heart! I loved the phrase: replace worry with worship. Mom, if you are reading this, you should probably listen to this message... it's for us! Instead of looking at a whole list of things that could have wrecked her, Mary chose to worship through her worries and come out on the other side praising because her heart delighted to and not just because she knew she should. That is my plan for this week: worship through my worries and pray for a heart that delights as I do it.
Have I written for "Every Day in May" recently? Ummm... well, I could say I've been writing in my journal, but that would only be truthfully notes and prayers and verses. So, no, I haven't really written creatively this week, but I will!
Don't forget to
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sometimes we are just called to be willing

After 45 minutes listening to dramatic pauses and well-placed Scripture references, I was ready to sign up. My elbows propped against my knees my chin strained forward as if I could hear the words faster if my face was closer to the stage. Every word fell in its rightful place and my heart became all twisted and stretched and then I heard this question,

"So, who will go to Africa this summer?"

The blood pumping inside my veins forgot its course and all rushed instead to my nodding head. "Yes," I was saying with the almost hypnotic up-and-down-motion, "Yes, I will go to Africa this summer."
I walked up with a mass of young, eager-to-change-the-world collegiate types and we all affirmed one another's calling to serve in Swaziland the following July.
I left the meeting exhilarated and ready to tackle the problem of practicalities. I called my parents and my joy bubbled over into our phone conversation, only tempered by their advice to pray and be cautious.
Days went by and the emotions wore off. Both gradually and suddenly as I prayed, I knew I would not be going to Africa and I then met a fierce dragon called doubt.
If the Lord hadn't told me to go to Africa, then who? If I was pursuing the Lord then why the mixed signals? Was I so far from God that I couldn't even discern His calling?
A mess would describe the spiritual struggle of the following days. I was so confused and frustrated with myself for being controlled completely by emotions, as it seemed. Then, in a conversation with my dad that I will never forget, he gently spoke these words,
"Sometimes, Caroline... sometimes God just wants to bring us to the point where we say we are willing. Whether you go or not doesn't matter as much as how ready your heart is to do whatever the Lord asks. You were willing to go and God saw your heart."
I rolled those words over in my mind for days, really hoping they were true. I questioned and wrestled and arrived at the conclusion that our pursuit of God is not dependent on His answers. My pursuit of God is not on pause when I receive an affirmative or in high speed when I'm waiting for a reply. God calls me to a constant, passionate pursuit of Himself and promises (regardless of my progress) He will be faithful and He will be sufficient.
As Isaiah, I hope I will respond to every call with, "Here am I. Send me." Even if the call doesn't amount to the movement of my feet, I pray I will be willing.
sometimes we are just called to be willing to
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

the love of a Papa

I was at Bible study the other day and we were talking about gossip. However, as many of us know, sin is all the same it just wears different names, so the topics were vibrant and varied. As is typical, I launched into an object lesson with the following analogy. And (maybe because it fell kind of flat), I'm going to write it here to convince myself it's worthy of preserving. I have illustrated a bit more thoroughly, now that I've had time to stew over it.

A little boy has a tradition of grabbing his papa's calloused hands and inviting him into his room everyday, where the boy gives a grand tour and presents the day's creations. He shows Papa every nook and cranny - so proud of the display and the way he cleaned and prepared it for Papa's inspection. Even though Papa has seen and knows exactly what lies behind books and under the bed, he takes genuine interest not in the presentation, but in the presenter. His eyes are fixed on his boy as the little one goes about the room pointing things out like they are brand new.
Together, they rearrange furniture and dream and hope for the colors and shapes that will enter the room in the future. He tugs Papa's hand over to granny's rocking chair in front of the shelves of storybooks and there they sit rocking and cherishing one another. The little boy adores his Papa and absolutely lives for the time of day when he gets to bring Papa into his own little space in the house.
On a frightful, stormy Tuesday
the little boy loses track of time. He pulls out toy after toy after book after experiment after cluttered toy and surprises himself at the havoc he can wreak on his room. The day turns to night and the boy neither wants to clean nor wants to invite his Papa in to see this mess. He closes, carefully without even a squeak to announce it, the door to his special space and walks on tippy-toes over the scattered mess.
The boy sits uncomfortably on granny's rocking chair, unsure what will happen if night passes and Papa doesn't come. But, all the while he sits and there is no knock and no sound on the stair.
He does not budge from granny's chair, but moves ever so gently just to stay in motion. With night on the heels of day and morning following night's footsteps, the little boy feels relief like a cup of warm hot chocolate. He can hear his breath now as he decides it was good to close the door.
The following day
the little boy slips from the room without sound and meets his Papa downstairs and watches him drink coffee and read the paper. He expects something, anything, to recognize the absent invitation. But, his eggs and toast smell like breakfast and the orange juice means the day will roll on, like any other. He wears relief like a blanket and even mumbles the everyday greeting, "Mornin', Papa" in the direction of Papa's breakfast chair.
The days and the weeks pass
with the same routine. The little boy slips out in the morning, after a night on granny's rocker, gently swaying to the sound of his breath. The little boy's eyes are dark with fatigue, staring at the bright sunshine in his orange juice. Relief has become a best and only friend. He takes it when he leaves the house for security and drags it back up the stairs when he returns to close the door and look at the mess inside his special space.
He still sees Papa around the house, but speaking to him doesn't seem right. He clings to his blanket and wonders why he doesn't feel comforted. It hurts to see Papa sitting so close and to remember the times of cherishing one another. The blanket he carries feels more like shame than relief.
One day
arrives much like the frightful, stormy Tuesday so long ago. The little boy sees the rain and the crackle in the sky and remembers how dark his days have been. He looks about the room, surveying the strangled scene. Without warning, the boy (not so little) stuffs the blanket underneath the bed very, very far to the corner by the wall.
He opens the door just a little at first, and then the whole way. He walks tippy-toes (because his feet now know this walk very well) to the stairs and down. He finds Papa in the expected place, at the window with his spectacles dangling on his right hand and admiring the horizon. When Papa turns, the boy can not look at him. He only takes Papa's calloused hand and with his head down leads him up the stairs and, without hesitation, into his room.
No words escape the boy's mouth, just the loud breathing from all the months of time alone. He invites Papa in, head bent low, and then begins to sob. He cries and cries and says something about sorry with his hands covering his face, but the word gets all jumbled before it forms on his lips.
Papa takes him by the hand and examines every piece of brokenness strewn haphazardly about the room. Papa does not make any mention about particular toys or experiments or books or clothing, only helps the boy pick up each piece. The boy feels the blanket is over him again, though he thought he hid it. With each piece and every new mess, the boy feels a new pain.
The boy's exhaustion takes over and his tears are all worn out as they pick up the last pieces. He didn't mean to, but he is still clutching his Papa's hand tight. This time, Papa leads him over to granny's rocker. The boy cuddles in, covered by a new blanket and he sleeps. The dark eyes sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep.
When the boy wakes,
though he knows not for how long he slept, he lifts his eyes ever-so-slightly to recognize the scruff of Papa's whiskers close to his forehead. The boy cannot summon the words, but Papa asks if they can talk and share like old times and the boy says, "Oh, yes! Papa, yes!" with all the joy of rest.
The boy slowly gathers speed and lets the words fumble out from his rusty lips. He feels different this time, talking to his Papa. He remembers the terrible work before his rest. He remembers Papa's silent patience. He remembers that Papa has seen everything. The boy remembers the blanket he stashed under the bed, by the wall, and makes motion to find it. But Papa's arms are reassuring and the boy knows the blanket is gone too.
Papa loves the boy.
.let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

downpour, quinceañera, and sister

Since I believe apologies are not acceptable, I'm moving very quickly past the place where I might make one for not writing in so long. With a few well-placed headlines, I'll let you in on some of the goings-on here in Tegus while I eat some deeee-licious Honduran-style beef stew.

torrential downpour Last Friday night was the overnighter event for the elementary kids. Though I'm not involved in the outreach with the little ones, they asked me to help with the game CLUE that our HS students had come up with a few months back for our own outreach event. ... And play human CLUE we surely did! We ran to different "rooms" and played games in order to receive clues and try to solve the mystery.

After all that madness ended (God give me grace when I have crazy, screaming little ones!), I loaded up good 'ole Louis and down the mountain we went. (I still don't have a muffler, but I'm working on it and I've told myself that's good enough right now.)
The rain started just before we threw backpacks into the trunk and ourselves into the seats. We didn't get very far before I realized that this ride down the mountain would be less about what music we were rocking out to and more about getting down safely. I was wiping the windshield with one hand and steering with the other. It was foggy in addition to the less-than-stellar defrost sputtering out of my dashboard. The girls were respectful and less crazy, but the rain kept coming. We prayed.
I successfully dropped off one student and then we came upon a lake in the road. Yep, it was a lake almost as big as the pond behind my house where we went swimming. And it was still raining. I kind of just followed the lights in front of me, but definitely felt we floated for a second or two.
On the way back, we encountered the same lake and I had to turn around after watching a car sink too low for my comfort. So, I made all the drop-offs and arrived at my house with a curious scraping sound accompanying me. Yep, that's right... last week Louis lost a muffler and this week he's dragging something on the front end. These roads are shaking him to pieces - literally! But, praise God for safety and PRAISE GOD for rain!
Today, I was on my hands and knees inspecting the damage like a real trooper. I like to think my brother William would be proud, but he would probably ask if I fixed the problem and then I would have to say no. I'm not really sure what the purpose of that silly, sturdy piece of plastic... and I couldn't figure out how to jimmy-rig it up with rope, so I just shoved in a few places and hope that it will stay in place long enough for me to get to someone more handy!
quinceañera
When you turn 15 here, it's like a sweet 16 party but much, MUCH bigger! I'm talking color-coordinated decorations, a 'program' of events for the night, three special music performances, high schoolers in suits, fake champagne, super fancy dresses, a sermon, a serenade, a video, and lots of fun. And that's where you would have found me on Saturday night - in heels my dad found at a thrift store and a dress my mom sent me a few years ago that I hemmed and altered for fun. It was a beautiful way to celebrate Jennifer's life and also a great, grand introduction to Honduran tradition of quinceañera!
sister
Have I told you how much I love my sister? Probably not, because she's gets uncomfortable when people get mushy (which of course is my specialty). Well, tonight as we were talking, I remembered how much I loved her all over again. It seems we always swap stories of our mishaps and mistakes. I think we sound like broken records, but I guess I'm encouraged that much more - that we are sisters in our repetition. You see, it doesn't matter if the stories from work seem not to have moved in a week or if our hearts are struggling in the same ways we thought we'd moved on from, or if our haphazard living styles have not moved to a less-embarrassing state... it doesn't matter because we love and encourage each other in the midst of all the mess.
Today, as we were talking ... I started to share about my current dream-squasher: fatigue and failure.
I want to press on, but I'm tired.
I want to believe change will come, but failure creeps on my shoulder like an ugly monster.
Anyway, no surprise, right? You've heard this before if you know me at all. I had an imaginary conversation with my mom a few weeks ago, when I was knee-deep in stress about my students and their decisions.
Honey, she told me, the BEST you can do is pursue your Savior with your whole heart. I said, I know. She said, do you have anyone to sharpen you and push you deeper and further into your pursuit of Christ. Not really, I said. Well, she said, maybe in this time God is trying to teach you that He is all-sufficient. Yes, maybe, I said.
So, weeks later, I am relaying two dream-squashing excuses to my sister and expressing my frustration and she says something like:
You know, I was trying to have some time with the Lord the other day and I kept trying to wrestle Him into giving me answers and get productive with my time. Finally, I just decided to be with Him... to sing and praise and love and honor Him. I realized I just needed to be with Him, not to just ask Him to figure out my problems.
I give up on things and let my dreams get squashed into the pavement because I try to have hope in an end HERE... I go to God hoping He will give me more tools to be effective instead of trusting Him to work.
I want results when I love people. I want improvement.
I want something significant to come out of gas money and coffee dates.
I want something spectacular to prove God's glory here.
Well, guess what? God's glory does not need proven.
My desire to see results shows that I am not TRUSTING in His plan to reveal His glory. If I really want eternal results, than I will throw myself into time with my Savior and trust He will work all things according to His will and purpose. And who am I to doubt His work will be significant?
Thanks, sister, for reminding me that time with my Savior does not need to end with a 'take-away' objectives and keys to unlock more ministry.
Time with my Savior is truly time to

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY
:)

 

Careers, Adventures, and the Single Woman

This is a re-post from November 19, 2007 when I was living and working in Austin, Texas with Americorps, coordinating service for the college students at St. Edward's University. It is so funny how I recently saw a bright light bulb illuminate about my strong desire for a partner in ministry, male leadership, and family. I thought I was seeing a new understanding and desire emerge. Then, I randomly read this old post and it seems that this desire is not so new at all! Though my location has changed and my contentedness to continue adventuring alone until God guides otherwise, I still feel very much the same.

Enjoy!
Why am I going to write on one of the most written about topics in social, single circles? Well, not only am I now one of the target audiences for said discussions and articles, I am also forming my own take on what it means to be a Christ-following single woman looking for adventure in the midst of career-driven prescribed dreams. I realize that just sounded like a personal ad... and please before all of you well-meaning, Christ-following single men looking for adventure in the midst of ________ (fill in blank) send a response, know that this is not an invitation.

I recently read an article published in the opinion section of Forbes magazine titled, "Don't Marry Career Women." Of course, days after it’s publication there was widespread public outcry and Forbes quickly published a counterpoint from one of their female writers. As I read through the first article, the first few paragraphs quickly captured my attention, “Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career. Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage.”

Michael Noer goes on to establish his argument on the shoulders of these social scientists who give all sorts of discouraging information about divorce, extra-marital sex, marital satisfaction, and the added complication of children. Being a recently graduated woman myself, who checks the single box on official documents and replies to relationship queries with the most graceful shift in conversation, what Mr. Noer said struck a chord. But, not one that you might think most obvious for my life stage or position.


The Journey
I spent four years in a liberal arts Christian college lusting after adventure and carefully growing the seeds of wanderlust sown early in my childhood on an Iowa farm. Though I trained my mind to filter much of my education through a Christian worldview, I couldn’t help but soak up bits of this overwhelming anthem: dream up anything, find some passion, and set out to realize that dream. It’s true that the American dream shouts this anthem, but the voices I was hearing above the rest were women. My professors, classmates, and celebrated success stories assured me that the only person who could prevent my dreams as a woman… was me.

So, when I graduated and set out on my first adventure to Austin, Texas working as an Americorps VISTA, I had no doubt this time of glorious, “independent woman” freedom would only give birth to other independent ventures. But the excitement is surprisingly wearing off and with it I’m becoming increasingly uncomfortable in these independent shoes.

Adventuring Alone
The single most important factor in my life is my personal relationship with the Living God. The fact that God made us in His image relational, and that He’s placed us in intentional community should be apparent enough. But, my hardheadedness has stretched out this learning process into what is now 23 years. Finally, though, I’ve realized that we weren't designed to adventure alone. It’s not that I’m an inferior woman who is void of an independent spirit. It is that I am beginning to understand instead my soul’s deep longing comes from the very opposite of independence. Darwin Anderson, from International Messengers, once said in a training session that “independence is just plain not helpful in the mission field. There is no room for it and no need of it.”

Even though I strongly agreed when I heard this almost two years ago, I am realizing now that independence is useful in few places. What is all of life, but a mission field? After about four months here in Austin, I realize that I don’t want to be independent. I don’t want to plan the next exciting adventure where I will uproot from community once again only to go to a new place and start over. The family of believers I have providentially fallen into here is of the most amazing kind. My spirit is conflicted when I imagine my adventures would start in new community only to be pulled from it.

Career woman
But, let’s get to the real meat of it. There’s community and then there’s a spouse. There’s a definite difference between being a part of a Christ-following community and being a part of a “till death do us part” union. Michael Noer wasn't writing about the downfall of career women in the life of the church; he wrote about the negative effects of "career women" in the home. For some reason, my dreams of being a wife and mother have found themselves separate from my dreams of travel, missions, and career. Though I tried for four+ years, I can no more separate these desires in my heart than one could separate the red from white swirls in a candy cane. Yet, somehow I’ve found myself here. Like it or not, I am this career woman that Michael Noer writes about. I have a degree and I am looking for a well-paying position that would make a dent in the loans from my wonderful, high-priced education.

I realize the cited social scientists had several good points with which I sadly agree. But, Mr. Noer, where does that put me? I am the one you warn against, but also one who quite unwillingly finds herself in this situation. Thankfully I am well aware that my marital fate does not rest in the hands of any crafty columnist, but instead in the scarred palms of a Sovereign Savior. The desire of my heart is that my next adventure would be with someone whose heart is equally captivated by Christ’s redemptive story. I have full faith God is growing me for an eternal purpose; career or no career, husband or no husband, new city or old farm. I have full faith, but I sure am tired of adventuring alone.


----
So, dear cyber friends, what say you?


let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

after all, the rain

There is a very sad song by William Fitzsimmons called, "Afterall." It's a song that pleads for love to remain, after all. With the memories of wedding vows in repetition, the song is so painful because by the end he is pleading without hope of securing the love, afterall.

Tonight, for some reason I feel the sadness of the "afterall," but my heart pleas from a different place entirely. Fitzsimmons sings, "Please don't leave me..." and though I feel at home in this phrase it's not because I want someone to return to me, but I feel the song drifting from the lips of my glorious Savior. The sadness does not come from my hope in a relationship that will only disappoint. No, my sadness comes from disappointing the One who offers the only hope.
Yesterday, Good/Black Friday passed without a solemn reflection or study, though I saw a bit of the processional in the city, noted the elaborate alfombras in the streets (beautiful, colored sawdust carpets), and searched for several inspiring articles and meditations (relevant, chris tomlinson's poem). I spent most of the day with a student and her family, reading, hammocking (my newest favorite thing to do), swimming, playing volleyball, eating, and passing Spanish conversation.
So, after I got home and checked my twitter/email/facebook (in that order), I was just ready to be done. I didn't have any ambition to open my Bible or journal or pray. I was just tired. So, I slept like a rock and this morning came without announcing its arrival too loudly (or too early). And, about the day I went.
Something I forgot to mention ... an extremely important *something* happened last night and again now as I am writing this.
RAIN.
If you haven't been following Central America's news lately, the current drought is a pretty big deal. Some people in certain areas are only receiving water once a week and others less than that.
Last night, when I was outside the city with my student's family, the drips started to softly pound the tiled roof. It had been so long since the steady sound and smell of rain had visited this place. When the electricity went off, I really started to breathe in the smell I love so much: wet ground.
How strange, I thought, that on the night when Jesus was so cruelly crucified all those years ago... on this night the rain falls to water the earth. Only with this sorrow from heaven could there be any chance of life here on earth. In "Reason for God" Keller writes that Christ's forgiveness for us was costly suffering. This forgiveness of a world of sins stands very intentionally in front of the most costly suffering the same world of sins could muster and says, "I will take it all."
The meditating I refused last night is now hitting me like the lines of Fitzsimmons' sad song of broken wedding vows. I am most humbled and hurt by my willingness to be so cavalier with my Savior, who has suffered at great cost to forgive me and pull me closer to His side. Though my Groom has laid out great, mysteriously beautiful instructions to know and love Him, I leave for other lovers.
Like almost every other day this week, this morning I grabbed my stack of books and set off for morning coffee and a place to flip some pages. I met up with my friend Jess and we compared stories about Semana Santa and laughed about the silly things and frustrated ourselves over how our lives aren't exactly how we pictured them and how there are so many things we could change and how (especially) we would love it if God could very obviously point out the next steps in our journey.
At one point in our conversation, Jess said, "Sometimes, after we talk I feel so... discontent."
I think I said, "I KNOW!" before she even finished.
And it rains.
It's still raining outside and I am so unbelievably glad.
In Catholic tradition, the most ceremonious part of Easter is Friday when Jesus was crucified. They march through the streets, build beautiful shrines, act out portions of the event, and mourn the loss of the Messiah. And then it's over.
It's still raining outside and I am so unbelievably glad, because the rain is LIFE and not death. Because though my Savior suffered at great cost for my penchant for other lovers, it is only through His suffering that I can live.
Just as the death of drought finds life only by rain, so our heavy, other-lover souls find LIFE by Christ's costly tears of suffering.
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

because today CHRIST LIVES!

Mission Trip PICTURES!

Here are pictures from the mission trip I took with students March 7-12. We collaborated with a school from Plano, Texas to reach out to children in the rural areas outside the city. These pictures cannot possibly communicate the way God worked that week, but it will give you a little dose of the JOY we got to experience just being close to God's heart.This was a carnival we put on for children at a rural public school. These kids seem to be listening to some directions and enjoying some of the tasty CANDY that all the gringos brought!
Daniel Aleman (on the right) is greeting Youn Hee Choi, one of the students from Texas ... who is actually only lived in the states for 2 years and before in Korea. We all ADORED her smile and personality... and culture!
We did outreach/evangelism/prayer for people in the streets of nearby towns of Valle de Angeles and Santa Lucia. This was very "mission-trip-like" and typical for the students from PCA, but for my students it was kind of crazy. These are our neighbors.
Pablo. What a joy to know and love this student! He takes every opportunity to use his skills to bring delight to God and others! This is at the orphanage one afternoon.
This is another picture from the carnival at the public schools. This was a racing game and the kids LOVED IT!
O HAPPY DAY! This captures the joy the kids at the orphanage felt at our visits!
Here is a big group of students/kids from the orphanage just hanging out. We did a lot of that ... just unplanned hang-out time. I think that was most valuable for the kids at the orphanage - to see that we were just making ourselves available to love them.
We PAINTED! Were we the most effective or experienced painters Honduras could find? Nope :) But we sure had fun and learned a few good lessons! :)
This may have been my favorite part of the trip - the Lifehouse drama, but in Spanish. These are my students and they did a MAGNIFICENT job. This performance was in the public school.

I have more pictures, hopefully I can find out how to post them to picasa and give you the link! Please post any questions you have about the trip. I would LOVE to answer them!
go ahead, be a little silly on this Thursday and
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

THE BEST or just okay

Last week I was asked to speak at a neighboring Christian school in Tegucigalpa at a few chapel services. Even though the target audience seemed a bit young (6-8 grades), I decided to just share what was on my heart: BEST. Here are some snippets.

We (people) have this knack for settling for mud pies (as C.S. Lewis brilliantly explained) when we could be having a holiday at the sea.
This is not a new revelation, but maybe I've recently found more clarity and urgency in its message. We are FAR TOO EASILY PLEASED, C.S. Lewis says. And so many years later, it is still true. We make ourselves content with things that are just "okay."
We have okay friends.
We make okay plans.
We have okay conversations.
We hope to have an okay job.
We want an okay house and kids.
We want okay grades.
We pursue okay relationships.
We desperately hope for a just barely okay existence.
YUCK!
Do you think God created us to just get by in this world? To skim the surface and all the okay pleasures and passing comforts of this place. It is SO MUCH LESS than abundant! Jesus promises in John 10:10 that he came to bring life and life ABUNDANT.
So, to hear/see myself or anyone else giving in to the pressure to just barely squeak by is... is like watching someone (sitting cross-legged in a shallow puddle, splashing mud everywhere) refuse a ticket to the most beautiful destination known to man for an indefinite amount of time.
I want to say, "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!?!"
Every single day, God holds out the BEST there is ... the abundant life He promises. Every day we look at the BEST and choose just okay and we fill our lives with mud pies.
I'm holding out hope for the BEST. Praise the Lord, in His grace He continues to offer us life abundant through the rich knowledge and understanding hidden deep in His Word.
we can take a huge lesson from our Savior... and learn also that BEST involves suffering. We are co-heirs with Christ, sharing in His suffering and future glory. whew!
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

much is required

Yesterday's post got me thinking about the passage I was reading in my BRP (bible reading plan) the other day. I'm reading in Luke right now and I came upon the passage in Luke 12 that I've heard and read so many times, but never as part of this read-through-the-Bible idea and never with eyes to see the full landscape and not just the windmill jutting toward the sky to break the view. So, Luke 12 gives us some warnings against hypocrisy, also the parable of the rich fool and cautions against worrying (aren't we more than a blade of grass that God would care for us?).

Then we come to this strange story about watchfulness... about servants who stay and masters who go and what happens when the master returns. The servant was to continue doing his duties and obeying the master's wishes, prepared for his arrival at any moment. Then comes the last part of verse 48,

Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

Hm. So my thoughts went:

God cares for and loves every single human life in the same beautiful way. There are those with simple faith, who will never see the inside of a Sunday school room or own their own Bible or aspire to copy Billy Graham evangelism or follow in the courage of Elizabeth Eliot. These chosen children are precious in their simple faith and God will bless their hearts full with obedience and love. They receive the gift of highest price and perfect quality: the presence of the Almighty God for eternity.

And then there are those children that have on this earth a greater capacity and wider sphere of influence (not that they are greater) from the very beginning when they chose to believe. From these, MUCH IS REQUIRED.

I look at it like this: I have a stove and many don't. Therefore, I should use that stove as a sphere of influence. I have a roof and a bed and clothes and I have a degree and a job and I have two feet and I have two eyes and I have speech and hearing.

Maybe Billy Graham was one of those much-much required types, but I know that my station in life and my background have definitely placed me in the category of much required. So, I'm trying to ask, what areas can I be more obedient? Where can I be more ready and willing to serve my Master, though I sometimes can't see or hear Him clearly?

So, I guess I'll be thinking about this for awhile:)

In the meantime, I happened upon this book and it is now currently on my wishlist. It's all about learning to be a follower instead of a leader. Weird that it sounds so... wimpy.


Links for Tuesday

I finally got rid of my doubting spirit and have again a heart set course for joy. Praise God. I was in a funk and I'm so thankful those don't last forever! I have to share a wee-little story about my time in funk-city. I was riding the bus down last week, after staying after for Bible study. I sat in the front and let worship songs be an escape for awhile until a student came and sat next to me. She had questions about this and that and finally she asked (could it have been because I was obviously weeping?) me, "what's up?" I just said I was sad. I was sad about how deceptive life can be and how glittery the world looks and how so many people I love make the wrong choices. I was sad because I couldn't stop it, but also sad because I knew I wasn't doing enough. I was just sad.

Then (as if revelations such as these come so quickly and gently) she said, "Well, I bet that's how God feels when He looks down at us... only magnified."
.........whoooosh. This is the perspective I needed!

Today, please let me hook you up with a few things that are inspiring and interesting and accessible through this little monster called the internet.
ENJOY!

Free music by Shaun Groves. I really support the way that this man is going about his ministry through music. Check him out - he'll give you three songs for free here.

You probably know I just finished Forgotten God by Francis Chan. Well, I didn't use any of his internet resources for this book (even though I really liked using them when our Bible study read through Crazy Love). But, now I find out that there are some great resources there! Also, I happened upon this "trailer" on vimeo and I think it's worth checking out. It just might convince you that you should pick up the book too.

Forgotten God Trailer from Jacob Lewis on Vimeo.

Let's just say you are like my dad and in the car a lot. And let's also say you wouldn't mind having something intelligent to listen to (other than, let's say, radio talk and country music), then you should definitely check this out: Christian audio allows you to download one FREE book each MONTH! That's right - it's free! I'm all about getting things for freesies and this month I think it's a gem, so I'm sharing it with you. It's a book by Mark Driscoll called, "Religion Saves."

Download - christianaudio.com

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preparing for the season of Lent

This is a short post. It doesn't happen often, so pay close attention.

I am preparing for the season of Lent. I don't know what this will mean, but I know I don't want to be about giving something up if I'm not adding more Truth to the daily mix. I want this time to be one where I understand better my history/why it is important, and how I will live differently beyond 40 days.

I just think I want to start some heart-preparing now.

I'm trudging on through the BRP (Bible Reading Plan) from the ESV study Bible and can't begin to count the blessings. Does anyone have any ideas, readings, books of common prayer, etc. that would be a good centering tool for this season (in addition to daily study)?

-------post script---------
Oh, and yes, I did watch the Super Bowl at Micah House tonight (amongst many uninterested Micah boys:) and I did see the pretty amazing two point conversion... and I did try to explain the game of fútbol americano to several Hondurans (fail). It was a good night!

thoughts on Truth

Thanks, Christina for writing yesterday about business vs. personal. I think the blurred line only gets more blurry when you are working in a Christian context. Because your business is also mission, and also community, and also the Body of Christ, and also family. All those things together make for a pretty crazy mix of business/personal. I have to echo the thoughts of our mom on this one... personal goes with you wherever you are. You bring 'personal' to every meeting, every encounter with a student, every board decision, and every pink slip. You bring personal because that is how we are made: personal, relational, human. I think God intended it this way. But, it sure is difficult.

Entirely unrelated (and mostly because I already have it written and it's an easy copy/paste job), I wanted to share something from awhile back. I spoke to two different sets of high school students a couple weeks ago on Nehemiah 8 (per my mother's brilliant suggestion) in an attempt to discuss joy and suffering. I did some writing before/after and here some excerpts:

When I stand up against Truth ...

first all confident and dignified,
(sin secret and hidden) spouting
nonsense words and misplaced
pleasantries                                      ...
when I stand up, beside Truth

SHAME fills me and

my knees buckle,                                     ...
too weak to stand
EVERY thought of comfort is
destroyed and scattered like
chaff, swept up by the hungry wind

pride is a monster
and I fall faster

fear, though I know its true place
surrounds the pieces
of what was once complete

the feeling that i have failed
again
that the world has failed
again
...
is only overcome by the

Presence

it is overcome by the

Presence
---------------

So, you may be trying to connect the dots and having trouble. 
"Joy, suffering, Nehemiah 8, and now this strange writing about Truth and destruction? You totally confused those kids, Caroline!"
Is that what you are thinking?
Well, I didn't share my personal writing in my message, but what I DID share was the beautiful realization that God offers His very presence to the people of Israel who had listened to Truth for seven hours and felt the meaning and their sin rip open their souls. They were destroyed by the gap Truth exposed between them and a precious, perfect God. At that moment, God reached out to their broken, bruised, battered hearts and said, "Do not grieve." He saw that they realized the depth of their brokenness and at that moment He invited them into JOY. He invited them into His presence to sit beside redemption and drink in life. 
I love that.

with the Sun, delight

I guess I'm on a bit of a poetry kick these days and I don't mind at all. I hope you don't either. I finished reading "The Singer" by Calvin Miller at the same time that the song, "Come and Sing" by Brooks Ritter (see yesterday) was repeating on my ipod. To put it shortly: after (what could have been merely) a frustrating day, I realized something... If all I accomplished today was getting myself to that beautiful throne to join in the angels' song, then that would be just fine. If I made it there and just really belted out my heart full of gratitude, then this day was alive. This song just kind of bubbled out of that joy.

----------------
with the Sun, delight
straightaway I run 
to chase the kite
whipping, whirling forward 
in silent skyward flight

I run without care
abandoned and free
I race through golden rays
and dance the Sun with me
like a child to a mystery
I'll follow you on
like a melody to a symphony
I'll listen close the song
like a dawn to a day 
like a weekend to get away
like my heart to love
I'll follow you on
over flower meadows 
my chest heaves with defeat
the flimsy fantasy
seems to escape in repeat
I run heavy on
one sweet thought on my mind
I race the golden rays 
and with the Sun I'll dine
oh I'll race the golden waves
and with the Sun I'll dine
I run, careening careless 
with face stretched toward the bright
I race the golden waves
and with the Sun delight
I race the golden waves
and with the Sun delight

God is living in me.

I just want to post a few reflections I had on the Holy Spirit while reading through Forgotten God and studying Scripture. I am overwhelmed at this idea that God is inside of me. The power of the most High, the beauty and perfection and love and GOD. Inside of me, really?

I can't make sense of it. Inside me is so close. I can't escape this body and that's how close He is. The Holy Spirit is in me. whoa.
--------------

So close

The Living Lord inside of me

-who sees and hears, convicts and leads,
this Holy God in possession of my very innermost spaces, even now claiming my soul-
this Living One is grieved by what He finds
littering the corners and walls and storage bins of my heart.

You are grieved, O Lord, at what you find and see and hear

You are closer than the words on my lips.
You are right here ... burning up like heartburn my inside.
My chest feels to explode,
for I did not realize how close you were.
You are so close.

---------------------------
YOU LIVE HERE
this washed up piece of garbage,
cast-off and misused by its owner
this junk clumsily folded into

moving parts

neglected and scorned by the one entrusted

this hollowed-out shadow, dark with anger,
fierce with bitter rage and pain
this monster so neatly covered,

a mess of mixed-up rusty joints

INSIDE
this dreadful piece of epic failure
YOU LIVE
INSIDE

the depraved mind and within
the lusting heart

YOU LIVE
INSIDE
the jealous soul and
unwilling spirit
INSIDE
the ignorant and forgotten
the angry and spiteful
the abused and burdened
the twisted and desperate
the confused and grieved
the lonely
the shallow

the human

YOU live here

Post for Haiti

I just keep feeling overwhelmed at the enormity of the pain and suffering in Haiti. I know there are tragedies and disasters around the world every single day. Sometimes, we are struck with a disaster that seems so complete. This is one of those times. I just wanted to give a few links where you could go for info, give donations, and keep up-to-date on news and how to pray.

Compassion International is an organization that has proven themselves faithful to God's call to serve the poorest of the poor throughout the world. When a crisis happens, I know Compassion is already on the ground and already working with churches in the country that they have developed relationships with. I know when I support Compassion, I am not just giving money to a haphazard medical mission, but a structured organization with a pure heart fueled by God's design.

Paste Magazine is giving away a BUNCH of free songs to download if you donate through them or if you donate at all through any organization you can reach the free songs. This is a way artists are supporting the cause too.

Mars Hill Church is sending a team down with photographers and videographers to bring back images so people can see and respond. Read the story below.
The Mars Hill Blog | Blog Archive » Haunted by Haiti

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Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center has great pictures and blog to follow. Click below to see more from their blog.

The Gospel Coalition Blog has posted some really great, honest articles that give some perspective. I especially liked the article, "Live with Haiti in Your Heart." If you feel yourself stuck in a strange place of apathy and guilt, read this article.

Living Water International is an organization whose goal is to bring water to people all over the world, and also the living water of the gospel. Their goal is to repair 500 wells damaged by the earthquake. Click here to see how you can help. My family used our Christmas tithing money to support this great cause!

"We Will Rise Up"
This song is an anthem and a challenge to the church to rise up in the midst of hurting and pain to heal the world with the power of the Lord. Click on the link below to download it.. hopefully it works, it's a link from twitter. If not, go to NationsBeGlad twitter and they posted it there.
http://ow.ly/XfjX

stopping at 8

I don't care what you say, you phantom, cyber late night guilt-tripper. You can call me lame or loser or whatever you want to call me... I'm stopping at 8. I'm going to be done with electronics and planning and cleaning and thinking about anything but:

journal. Bible. bed.

If this goal seems slightly out of character for me... well, it is. It just kind of rolled off my fingers in the blank that says, "Title:" above this post. But, after it came out I decided it would be a bold goal. I will use a few of these minutes to give just one thought.

It all starts with this quote I picked up from over at my friend Kaci's blog.

"Entering the day without a serious meeting with God, over his Word and in prayer, is like entering the battle without tending to your weapons. The human heart does not replenish itself with sleep. The body does, but not the heart. We replenish our hearts not with sleep, but with the Word of God and prayer.” - John Piper

I read this today in the morning and sighed super heavy. Everyday resolutions struggle to be free every morning of my life. I'm not talking HUGE yearly ideas like losing 20 pounds or drinking wheatgrass everyday or becoming a professional singer or seamstress. I'm talking about every single morning when my alarm beeps at 4:45 a.m. I have this crazy inner wrestling match (strangely void of any physical motion) about how important it is for my resolutions to start this very day. It's always a toss up who wins. Now that I am reading through the Bible in a year, there's a lot going on in my mornings, so I really have to get moving, resolutions or not!! This quote brought it all back to center.

And there is God.

This morning, as I gathered details and permission slips for the orphanage field trip, I found out Michelletti (the current President) was going to visit. Nevermind the fact that this would never happen in the States, we pretty much lost any hope of salvaging the morning once the students found out. I can't try to explain how everything went down, but it was pretty neat to watch.

About 40 minutes after Michelletti left, I loaded up 25 7-12 graders into a bus to go to the orphanage for an afternoon of crafts, games, and a drama. We acted out Daniel in the Lion's Den and then we made Lion masks out of paper plates.

Then, at about 5, I tried to say I would "collapse," but instead I said I would, "complatz." I can't even reason out that I was smooshing two words or flip-flopped letters... it's just messed up (where did the 'm' come from??).

And I think back to the morning. And I think about the world and how big it is.

I think about the earthquake strong enough to flatten a city. I think about people who have survival first and

computers and
buses and
teriyaki and
music the last thing on their minds.

So, what will be the first on my mind tomorrow morning? The very first?

taking the first step

I'm a little late, but I'm starting anyway. I'm going to read through the Bible in one year. Should I be ashamed that the reason this thought sunk in (finally after years of pondering) was a twitter post by ESVdaily? Well, I'm not. I am thankful for twitter and for ESV Study Bible (which, by the way, is an AMAZING online resource!) and I am thankful that God's Word has become so dangerously relevant (who knew that God would ever speak to me through Twitter?).

So, today was the first day I officially began. I boiled a large pot of water and brought a cup and a tea bag strong enough to last through several steaming water refills. The ESV Study Bible was a little overwhelming at first. But, now, I am understanding how absolutely amazing it was the day I decided to order a year of WORLD magazine and receive the study Bible as a bonus. A BIG bonus. I am doing the Bible Reading Plan, conveniently found at the back with the mountains of other useful information.

I read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Genesis 1, Luke 1:1-25, and 1 Chronicles 1. I spit through the genealogies of Chronicles and spilled a bit of tea on the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth in Luke, but other than that the readings are starting out splendidly, with Eric Schrotenboer playing some great piano hymns in the background. I feel the weight of the Old Testament and have a new hunger to understand it, thanks to Lauren Winner. I want to see the beauty of redemption through the eyes of God's chosen people.

Tonight I will go see the Micah boys for Sunday night service and probably return to more tea before I read a bit (now onto Forgotten God by Francis Chan) before sleeping soundly in my slightly tidy messy room.

Look tomorrow for the first of many short stories of my childhood :)

joy and suffering


I spoke tonight about joy and suffering at the HS outreach. This is the passage (thanks to my mom) we focused on and I believe it is so powerful in our understanding of what joy is, how we can find it, and how much God desires we have it.

Nehemiah 8:1-15
1 all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel.
2 So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.
5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, "Amen! Amen!" Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
7 The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear [a] and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.
9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, "This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep." For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
10 Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve."
12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.

Read through this a couple times and see if your view of joy doesn't change too. Happy weekend everyone!