Jesus, Savior, pilot me

I love hymns. I love hymns like I love traditions and tree roots and old friendships that remind you what it's like to be warm. I love hymns like a heritage uncovered and future realized.

Tomorrow, my parents arrive and the craziness of this week begins. I am thankful God slowed me down today (in the form of a very red eye, a doctor's visit, and prescription drops that warranted administering every three hours). I am thankful because I read a book (The Stranger by Albert Camus) and I took a nap (in a hammock) and I made a frozen banana/frozen strawberry smoothie (when they are frozen you don't need ice and it is more delicious) and I spent time with my Bible Reading Plan (much MUCH needed!) and I walked (home from the eye doctor and then ventured out once again between drop administrations) and I spoke with my mom (who was strategically packing and re-packing suitcases and responding to my strange requests) and I journaled (pen to paper is great therapy).

I am so thankful God is sovereign and knows when we won't admit our failures or our needs. In between some of these very slow-moving activities, I listened to hymns. This hymn, re-worked by Bifrost Arts (a new favorite collection of my already-fave artists), was actually written in 1871 by Edward Hopper, whose ministry was to sailors at the Church of the Sea and Land in NYC.

The words, well, they speak for themselves. Hopefully, they meet welcome ears... especially those who feel a bit cast about these days.


let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

Jesus, Savior, pilot me

Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal.
Chart and compass come from Thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

While th’Apostles’ fragile bark
Struggled with the billows dark,
On the stormy Galilee,
Thou didst walk upon the sea;
And when they beheld Thy form,
Safe they glided through the storm.

Though the sea be smooth and bright,
Sparkling with the stars of night,
And my ship’s path be ablaze
With the light of halcyon days,
Still I know my need of Thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

When the darkling heavens frown,
And the wrathful winds come down,
And the fierce waves, tossed on high,
Lash themselves against the sky,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me,
Over life’s tempestuous sea.

As a mother stills her child,
Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boisterous waves obey Thy will,
When Thou sayest to them, “Be still!”
Wondrous Sovereign of the sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

When at last I near the shore,
And the fearful breakers roar
’Twixt me and the peaceful rest,
Then, while leaning on Thy breast,
May I hear Thee say to me,
“Fear not, I will pilot thee.”

melodies and parodies

I like to be silly and creative and hopelessly sentimental. So, when Heather was here, we wrote up this little parody for our 11th grade girls. Last year we did a parody of "All the Single Ladies" and this year it is "Soul Sister." The funny thing is, when we do these parodies, we don't know the original songs, so we have to learn that as we are writing the parody.

So, here's the video - mess ups and voice breaks and random improvisational interludes and everything in between. Enjoy this little ditty - hopefully you will see how much we love these girls!
Heey Heeey heeeeeeeeeeeeey
Your sophomore year slipped away just like a dripping tear
You knew we wouldn’t forget you
and so we went and let you get inside our hearts
Your sweet, sweet smiles
and the laughter filling every single mile
We knew that when we started you’re the ones we have decided
this love will take us far
Hey, soul sister, forget those mista mistas in the barrios, don’t you know
the way you groove, just let it show
hey soul sister, please don’t miss a single moment of this life
Heey Heeeeeeey Heeeeeeeeeeeey
Just in time, we’re back together to celebrate this life
We’re searching out direction
in our lives we want affection, don’t even lie -ie-ieee
We’re so impressed
you’ve made it another year without a great big mess
We’ve got faith in you, you know it, girl now
you’ve to show your beauty inside
Hey soul sister, forget those mista mistas in the barrios, don’t you know
the way you groove - keep it free you know
hey soul sister, please don’t miss a single little moment of.... this life
Well you can find the joy
deeper than any kind of speed
so gorgeous, just enjoy
the life God’s given you and the dreams
Just be yourself now finally
forget the lies and find the love sweet
the world won’t let you see
Hey soul sister, don’t let those mista mistas in the barrios, make you go
the way you’re made is for something great you know
Hey soul sister, please don’t miss a single little moment of ... .this life
Heey heeeey heeeeeeeeeeeey (this life)
Heey heeeey heeeeeeeeeeeey (this life)

i write, i dance

So, I don't know if any of you realize this, but.... May is OVER! It took me a whole day to get used to the idea. I'm pretty excited, now, though, because it means my parents come on Sunday, my sister a week after, and (with MUCH time hanging out with students in between) I'll be heading for a stateside tour on June 24. I'm not a big fan of countdowns (I'd rather count on today), but I do find myself a bit antsy for barbecues, family gatherings, road trips, and beaches.
Well, in my favorite bullet style, here is a rundown of what I've been up to (or some of it at least!)
  • My cousin Anna visited for TWO whole weeks! Other than a rough departure, the rest of the time was amazing! We even played in the junior high band concert because they needed more instruments! She wanted to experience life here and I think she did just that :) It was truly a blessing to have her and to see her big heart to serve and love and seek the Lord. In her searching, she also encountered an unbelievable amount of mosquitos, possibly a parasite, many rainy days, and an uncomfortable amount of airport hassle. It makes me love her even more to know that she enjoyed it despite everything that happened! This is an awkward junior high picture we took at the concert. Do we look like we are 20 and 25? Nope, I didn't think so!
  • I'm still reading through Luke with Mars Hill Church in Seattle and learning so much. Here is an interesting little piece on adolescence as we read about John. Kind of strong, but thought-provoking I thought.
  • Here's an article by Andreé Seu in WORLD magazine I read recently that really blessed me:
  • THIS, my friends, THIS is a gem. Remember how I tried to write every day in may? I was inspired by Frenchtoastgirl for that challenge (by way of Christina).
    Well, now I'm going to try to become part of this little movement, started by Molly over at i dance the revolution
    She is trying to learn how to dance from her friend amanda and she wants us to be part of the revolution. I am pretty excited about it, especially because my college friends and I always talked about knowing a dance to do at all of our weddings. Just so happens that I have THREE of those weddings coming up in summer/fall and I would love to have this ready! :) Anyway, they post one video a week and the first 24 seconds looks HARD!
So, there's that. Oh, and I also am wrestling with some sort of parasite or tummy nuisance along with a ferocious red eye. Hopefully all of that will clear up in the morning, where we will go to school for the first time this week (classes canceled due to national emergency, courtesy of Agatha).
as always, friends,
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

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.

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
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

when I grow older, I will be stronger


If you don't know that the World Cup is in South Africa this year, you are missing a major excitement-building frenzy around the globe. Let me back up, if you don't know that there IS a soccer World Cup championship then you need to do a little culture study before reading on (here would work).
I love that I live in a country that becomes so passionate and unified over 11 guys, a rectangular field, and a round ball. I don't think I necessarily understand it all yet, but I do love seeing the loyalty and excitement that comes with this championship because Honduras was able to come together when so much was falling apart.
When I first heard this song above (one of several for the World Cup), I thought it was catchy. Every time I listen to it I go around humming it until I consciously decide to do otherwise. The rhythm is bumpin' and the words make you want to love soccer if you don't already.
So, now is the not-so-popular part.
As I listen to this song, I wonder if it is secular worship music.
Sometimes, it is easy to make fun of the cheesy worship songs with every other line a reference to sin or Jesus or redemption. Maybe they are too predictable, maybe they are "too ideal," or maybe we just straight up don't want to worship what the song declares.
So, how are we worshipping? This song just strikes me as a cry out to declare humanity does want unity and joy and peace and love. But, will we find it in a game? Can we worship a game?
I'm merely asking questions at this point, but you can guess where this is going. Really, though, what other worship songs do we sing?
I'm just thinking and I am so tired, so I suppose I'll just end it here.
Your thoughts are welcome!

sadness and love

"sadness reveals the depth of our love"

I spoke these words today at the airport, as I put my friend Heather on a plane bound for Canada. Her kindness has touched so many lives and one of the students at the airport was taking her departure kind of rough. I leaned over and said this bit about sadness and she just looked at my blurry-eyed.
I thought more about it today... about goodbyes and hellos and departures.
I'm still not sure if it makes any sense, but my heart seems to understand the reasoning. God has placed in us the desire to love and be loved because He is Love. When that love inside is stretched, bent, or tested, a certain sadness settles in because the love we can give and receive is not perfect. I don't think goodbyes were part of the Garden of Eden. I don't think tears at the airport was ever part of the perfect plan. Our hearts are stretched when the love planted inside of us rebels against the world its constrained to live in. And then words come out like they did today, reminding me that sadness can be beautiful too... even just that the broken pieces reveal the One who can mend.
That is my writing for today.
"sadness reveals the depth of our love"
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY
...even if it leads you to sadness

pursuing lower pleasures

After a crazy day, an afternoon filled with charades and catch phrase and laughter, and a typically cheesy serenade for the 11th grade girls... Heather and I went for coffee and finally caught up a bit. I chose the Latte Au-Lait, which means I am now WIDE awake and she's zonked out (getting the sleep she needs so we can leave at 5:45 am to lead worship tomorrow at staff devotions).

I just want to write something quick tonight... maybe it will turn into a poem, but right now it's just thoughts about pleasure. As I think about the students and this culture and (maybe) popular culture in general, I decide that our greatest sin is pursuing lower pleasures.
I know C.S. Lewis probably illustrated this idea more deeply than my brain can think it right now, but still it seemed a mini-revelation tonight.
God promises in Psalm 16:11 that in His presence there is FULLNESS of JOY and at His right hand there are PLEASURES forevermore. Wow! What a promise!
God promises the kind of joy that bursts out from inside our souls and overflows to uncontrollable laughter... the kind of joy that you can't keep from showing on your face... the kind of joy you can't wait to share with everyone you meet... the kind of joy that makes your heart feel like fire and makes you want to dance and shout and play in the rain...
NOT ONLY that, but also pleasures forevermore. God offers us pleasure that never ends - He created us with the desire for pleasures forevermore and He is delighted when we pursue the highest kind. He planted that little seed inside us, in the soil of our humanity, that tries to break the surface and soar toward the sun... all the ways our humanity longs to have pleasure can be traced back to the way we were created in His image to experience pleasures forevermore.
The moment I decide to pursue a less pleasurable pleasure than what I was created for, I am choosing sin. I know, it sounds confusing. Usually we associate pleasure with sin, but right now I am saying that we sin when we pursue less pleasure or lower pleasure. Because I know God created me and placed in me a desire to have infinite joy and pleasure, I know that anything less than a pursuit of THAT means two things:
1. I am not experiencing the most pleasure possible (can only be found in and through God)
2. I am trying to make lower pleasures fulfill my God-given desires for the BEST pleasure (which, of course is a fail from the start)
God created us, knows us, and delights when we are absolutely bursting with joy.
Here's what I'm praying:
O, that I might be an instrument on which God chooses to boldly play the joyful song of redemption.

.let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

It's only Wednesday?

I am exhausted.

I can't really think right now, but I know I need sleep. My creative writing for the day? I'm working on a rap with a student and we had a fun go of it this afternoon! Writing every day is DIFFICULT!
Lately, I've realized how much I read. I read articles, journals, tweets, blogs, posts, books, and more articles that lead me to a little gem that makes me think I know nothing and must keep reading. I realized this when I told a friend today, "Oh, I found this article about guilt by Kevin DeYoung that is really great - you should take a look." Then he said, "Yeah! You should tell me whenever you find good articles like that worth reading!"
I just stared at him. In my head, I thought, if you are serious then you'll be getting more emails than you can handle in one day. Between counseling articles, theology, philosophy, and culture, I read a LOT. I take comfort in the piece of advice I remember reading in a C.S. Lewis book - something like a good writer has to be a good reader. So, maybe it's making me better at the craft, who knows?
Anyway, I wanted to give you a couple things to read or peruse at your leisure... things that I've read in the past day or so. My cyber friend (he doesn't know he is, but we are) Tim Challies does this often and calls it "A La Carte."
Poison of Quaint Moralism is written by an Acts 29 pastor in Raleigh, NC. He suggests that the South has succumbed to a poison made by their own hands. He says, "Our churches are full of good-looking, upright, moral people. The tragic irony is that our goodness is our poision. A great many Southerners claim Christianity as their religion, mimicking righteousness on the surface while their hearts remain unchanged by the gospel of Jesus."
Kevin DeYoung gets to the heart of something I struggle with every single day: guilt. How much should I feel and how much is lacking a full view of grace? Read this article and ponder it yourself.
This is not an article, but I hope you will link to discover the musical treasure! I first found Joy when I was looking for all things Philly because my friend Nicole decided to move there. She's not typical, so don't expect that.
This isn't an article as much as it is a new person I am following. I love all the people at the Gospel Coalition (partially because I was there in the beginning - the very first Gospel Coalition conference in Chicago) and I am finding new people to respect, admire, and read every day. His unique perspective and style are sometimes just what I need.
Alright, friends. Enjoy the rest of this crazy Wednesday (and the entire Thursday if you read it in the morning!)
Don't forget....
.let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

Jon Foreman, Andrée Seu, Joan of Arc, Peter, and me

I'm super tired. But, these two articles have been on my mind, so I'm going to crank out some processing about them and call it my creative writing for tonight.

In The Huffington Post, Jon Foreman recently wrote an article and then alerted all his twittlers (tweet followers) about his recent journalistic activity. Like the good twittler I am, I checked it out and found "The Dark Horse: Joan of Arc, Elliot Smith, and me" to be sufficiently thought provoking. Not long after, I read Andrée Seu's article in WORLD magazine after a more dedicated search for her writing. I can't find a twitter account for her ... or other ways to be creepily connected, so I have to do the old-fashioned thing and just search the WORLD website. It led me to a gem titled, "Falling from steadfastness" that has secured a space as one of my tabs ever since.
So, how could these two articles possibly intersect? Foreman eases us into a history lesson, via the web mecca of knowledge (Wikipedia) about Joan of Arc's visions as a young girl in an English controlled France. At the age when many young girls are learning to drive a car, Joan of Arc disguised herself as a man, and heroically led the French armies to battle and then victories.
Foreman's conclusion: Joan of Arc was only a hero because there was adversity.
We see the narrative story all around us, playing out in real-time and real consequences. We are all the underdog against this big, nasty opponent called sin. The odds are stacked entirely in its favor and the most obvious and safe and preserving decision would be to surrender before any battle begins.
Foreman is processing what this means for the way we're tempted to see the world through cynicism and bitterness. We're tempted to look at the opponent on the other side of the ring and give up before we begin. But, what better time to display our God-given abilities than in the face of adversity?
Because I am so "this generation," as I'm reading Jon Foreman's article I'm also popping over a few tabs to see what Andrée Seu has to say and totally digging it. She's talking about 2 Peter 3:17, "You, therefore, beloved.... be aware lest you fall from your own steadfastness, being led away by the error of the wicked." Seu calls steadfastness, "a moment-by-moment believing in God" and says that this fall Peter talks about is pretty serious. Then I get down to this little paragraph describing the error of the wicked,
What is the “error”? It is a slightly skewed view of grace that encourages passivity and discourages a striving for greater faith, since all striving—or any muscular “steadfastness”—is suspected of being works righteousness. Never mind that God says to “grow in grace” (2 Peter 3:18).
I read it and moused over to the Jon Foreman tab at the top of my screen and wondered if the articles were working in cahoots. If the error of the wicked is "a slightly skewed view of grace that encouraged passivity and discourages a striving for great faith," then turning back from adversity is not only making a statement about your view of the opponent, but also about your view of grace.
Foreman's article ends pleading with the reader to not approach life with mere cynicism, but to see adversity as an opportunity for heroism. Seu's article ends portraying this kind of heroism in the everyday grind of life... where our view of grace will carry over onto the kind of co-worker, mother, father, daughter, son, and neighbor we are. Seu writes,

There is a “holding on” that must be part of the Christian’s everyday life (Hebrews 3:6,14). “Steadfastness” is not the staunch maintaining of a theological position but something much more personal and difficult: It is fighting for your very life, using every weapon listed in Ephesians 6. These articles of armor were not meant to be admired on a shelf but scuffed up in battle.

And so, at 11 pm, I'm not sure if this makes sense at all, but I just mashed two articles together and came up with this: adversity is an opportunity for heroism as much as defeat. But, to even hope for heroism, one must be with a right view of grace and armored up to go into battle.

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.

trees and used books

Whoa. Christina's post yesterday (all the way from LA, I might add) sure rustled some feathers! How true, though, that the only way to expose darkness is with Truth. Regardless of the sin you are dealing with - unhealthy views of the body can take all sorts of forms - Truth exposes darkness and leads to Christ, the only Healer.

Well, here's what I'm reflecting on, many countries and cultures away...

The blooms of white flowers on my favorite tree outside our house gate. The smell is something like lilac mingled with gardenias, but not in a strange perfume-mixing way. No, it's in the just-the-right-amount kind of way that grabs my senses every time I walk by and makes me stop to admire.

I think Psalm 23 is something like that. God's beauty and peace is so strong a scent that we are made to lie down in green pastures and led beside still waters. There is something in the beauty of it that demands attention and response. So, I respond every morning and every night as I walk past. So sweet the smell!
This week is trudging right along, but I am finding so much encouragement from Joni Eareckson Tada, whose words just happened to be shelved tightly between a weathered Mary Higgins Clarke and a worn paperback Tom Clancy in the used book stacks at Metromedia. I have been so refreshed by her sincere heart and wisdom. The yellow pages smell like Laura Ingalls Wilder and deep trunks full of treasured things. The wisdom - oooh the wisdom - is a treasure in itself!
Here is a little tidbit:
Suffering sets the stage on which good qualities can perform. If we never had to face fear, we would know nothing about courage. If we never had to weep, we would never know what it was like to have a friend wipe tears from our eyes.

and here's another:

When God tells us to suffer, sometimes our tendency is to use our very trials as an excuse for sinning. We feel that since we've given God a little extra recently by taking such abuse, He owes us "a day off" when we can do as we please. This is a continual inner battle for me...And it is so easy to justify. Son't I already have to give up more than a lot of Christians just be being crippled? I say to myself. Doesn't my wheelchair entitle me to a little slacking off now and then?
When we feel like this, if we sit down and examine our lame protests in the light of the Bible, they will vanish one by one.
And all this from a woman who became paralyzed from the neck down after diving in for a swim as a teenager. What a testimony her life has been since! Check out more here.
Hope this day is blessed for you and always remember, even in suffering....
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

oh, and PS, you should check out my brothers from Tanzania and Nigeria and the story of their first/last prom in the US.

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!
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!
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


muffled sounds and belt-out anthems

I know, I know... it's been awhile. Many thanks to Christina, who fills in always like a champ and attracts twice the following every time! :)

It seems like the moments I stop to process turn into something much more like days, and then I flip a page and realize I chose some other mindless activity rather than capture thoughts in typeface or scrawled script. So, I'm thankful for people who hear me in the spaces and even when I don't speak. :)
On to more important matters... like last Thursday after school.
muffled sounds
I planned to have my afternoon open for whatever God might put in my lap and after the 2:45 bell rang, there appeared Carol. What a WONDERFUL way to color my day! So, after watching her get creative with an art project in the music room, listening to some of Jeny's crazy mainstream music, piling 9 students into my car for a munchie run, and the blessing of a long conversation with a recovered stateside friend... we drove Louis (my car) right over a small mountain. Well, they call them "tumulos" here and apparently it's the Honduran version of a speed bump, but I'm sticking with my first description: small mountain. Anyway, so Louis didn't respond very well to all that weight and all that mountain, but he kept on all right. Later that night when I have four students to drop off down the mountain, we start to hear a knocking sound.
Jeny thinks it's someone stuck in the trunk, Carol doesn't think it's any big deal, and Chepo and Daniela have no advice to give. Soon the knocking was accompanied by a metal-dragging-sound that seemed to happen every time I turned left (on the windy, mountain road). By the time we reach the bottom of the mountain, the knock-drag sounds have amplified to almost deafening and I managed to pray over the roar that God would keep us safe and protect the car. About 30 seconds after I finished my desperate plea, the sounds completely stopped!
I praised God, we arrived at my house, the parents came, and all was well.
Until the next day, when I looked under my car to find:
That's right, I don't have a muffler. And you want to know the funny thing? I could only break into a huge smile right there in my haula (my car's cage) because I knew there was some little boy wandering around that night with a huge, ghetto-fabulous silver muffler (because that's what I had), about to show it off to all his friends and then purchase something very resourceful and necessary like candy or new school shoes. (please don't burst my bubble, even though it's tempting!)
and now more important Sunday at Micah Project worship
belt-out anthems
Sadly, my anthems as of late have been trudging along to the same dreary rhythms. The words, I should have and I wish and why didn't I. You know the type of choruses to which I'm referring, yes?
Well, on Sunday my soul got a very necessary whomping. I might have just made up that term, but it is the sound a firm, loving hand makes when thrown solidly onto a child's rear end. And that's exactly what found my hide-and-seek soul.
I was in one of those cheap plastic chairs, tucked in with the darkness of the barrio and a bunch of boys singing out in the courtyard with sandpaper voices, "Te amo mas que a mi vida, te amo mas que a mi vida, te amo mas que a mi vida."
Miguel was standing beside me on the bench, poking me in my ribs, and someone had just put a baseball cap on my head. The song is all about claiming my inheritance in Christ. It's about singing the reality that Christ saw and loved when no one else did. It's about receiving a name from the One who spreads the heaven like a blanket when you've been discarded by the closest relative you have.
And, here's where my soul got all wound up. It's about loving Him back with every single ounce of love kept back in my hide-and-seek soul.
That night, John challenged the boys to think about what they were loving more... who they were loving more... and if they could sing about loving God more than life and be honest about it.
Needless to say, the hide-and-seek soul has been belting out this anthem like a record on repeat after the good whomping on Sunday. Maybe I think that the more I sing it (or the louder)... the truer it will be of my heart. Bummer, that it can't be true. But, I think belt-out anthems are beautiful and a very appropriate way to make a voice hoarse.
Here is a video with the song and some great pictures from Micah Project.
Here is a different version that makes me smile. Why? Because this rap in the middle is what these boys from the street breathe. When we sing it at Micah Project a few of them step out to lay it down and every time (even though I don't understand all the words) I hear their hearts.
Sorry, for the length, but it's good to be back!
go search for your hide-and-seek soul and
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.

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

where once guilt crept

Today has been strange. Last night I had a mission trip meeting that started after school and ended... this morning when the last student left at 6:00 am. What? Yes, that's right. Just how it goes, I guess. Today, I thought I would get a ride home after school and I ended up in the back of a pick-up truck riding around the city with students making up raps on the fly, taking funny pictures, eating pizza at their house, and having an ice cube sucking contest. Just how it goes, I guess. :)
Today was the second day of Lent and I'm still processing everything. There is so much welling up in me to write and at the same time tomorrow looms so large.
I wanted to at least share a few things with you tonight, as I reflect on this Lenten journey (or at least try my best effort at reflection). I have been emotional lately. We are such a failed people. The waterworks are threatening now even as I try to punch this out before I crawl into bed and read more BRP before bed. I've been listening quite a bit to Brooks Ritter and he has a song called, "Samaritan's Love" that rips my heart open a little more every time. This is currently my favorite line,
cause the debt that was mine
yeah you paid every dime
where once guilt crept
now peace in me dwells
where once guilt crept
now peace in me dwells
These words keep running circles around whatever pressing matter vies for my brain's attention. The thought that the peace of Christ could actually replace guilt... it's heavy.
I started a Lenten devotional through (you can find it here) and I read about how we usually try to 'give up something' for Lent to regain focus or purpose or whatever it is that we are lacking. We usually exchange what we've given up for an only somewhat lesser distraction (sugar for splenda, coke for tea, TV for books).
The devotional challenged me to think about what I am adding during these 40 days. Jesus went into the wilderness to be completely emptied. There was nothing earthly that was keeping Him alive after those 40 days. When He was completely emptied, we see something beautiful unfold. Satan came at His emptiest point to tempt Him - to offer the deception that earthly things would satisfy. Jesus responded that he was eating the bread of life, that He was depending on it for His very life. He intentionally walked out into the wilderness to be emptied of everything human so that He could be filled with everything holy.
Am I ready to be that willing, that intentional, and that ... empty?
If I want to be holy, my answer must be yes.
.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.

olympi - what?

I'm sitting here in my room looking at my newly contrived laptop/monitor set-up (my laptop screen decided to stop lighting up), eating delicious watermelon and grapes with seeds (and trying to figure out how to type/eat/spit seeds).
It's a good night. I've got cookies just out of the oven for the Hands and Feet meeting on Wednesday. The kitchen floor is drying from a hands and feet scrubbing. Clothes are in the washer... (oops, hold on) ahem.. I mean dryer. And, yes, the room is still a mess.
Current battles:
  • how to exterminate little, bitty ants that are taking over our house
  • how to prepare food for a 6 o'clock meeting I planned for parents this Wednesday (refreshments or dinner? less work preferably)
  • how to market the student retreat (signup deadline on Wednesday) without looking desperate
  • how to love on my neighbors without being suspicious of ulterior motives (I'm talking about one very old man neighbor in particular who has said/done a few questionables) **more on this in a later post titled "my dad would be proud"
  • how to be as thoughtful as I wish I was
  • how to prioritize the randomness that is my day in a very logical non-random way
If you happened to have written how-to articles on any of these topics, please share! I am frazzled, but I suppose I am contentedly so. I know these next weeks will be absolutely insane, but I'm kind of okay with it. Bring it on, I say.
And that brings me to this so very strange question I asked myself recently, "Olympi-what?"
I had honestly no idea all the hype that is OLYMPICS 2010 was going on all over the television until I read this article about the "dirty little secret" that follows the Olympics and other international sporting events around the globe: sex-trafficking. It was more than alarming. I got a little sick to my stomach actually, when I thought of all the lights and the reporters and the athletes and then all THIS happening behind and under the fanfare.

festivals of love and interruptions.

After a brilliant morning started with a 7:30 gentle arrival into this Saturday, I made a date with my Bible, journal, a plate of fruit and some cappuccino. I was really diggin' the Word and gettin' my study on. I love when I can connect the dots and know that the Word is not returning void.

Then I came back home and prepared for feeding center and festival of love number 2. The first, last night proved to be the exact ridiculous amount of fun and laughter I needed. We cooked up some hearty, healthy, heart-shaped pancakes (regular, banana, choc. chip) with tons of toppings to choose from: peanut butter, granola, syrup, yogurt, honey. YUM! Add a little orange juice/sprite mix to drink and some turkey bacon and you've got a festival of love: breakfast at dinner style. We played games (create your "dream man" out of objects that represent his characteristics) and gave prizes (journals, stuffed animals, and frogs that turn into princes) and told long, dramatic, fairytale stories. We laughed. a lot.
So, anyway, most of the day I could still fly on that high while I was baking vanilla cherry chip cake in the heart-shaped pans for festival of love number 2. I managed to pick up and clean a bit (common areas, my room is a disaster area right now) before heading off to the feeding center, where I was overjoyed to see Kenya sporting MY SWOOPS! (For those of you who don't know, I refer to the bangs that hang emo-like to the side of my face and have to be swept back with a jerk of the head as my swoops). She looked up at me real sweetly with her hair swooped over and jerked her head like I'm sure I do. I just wrapped her in a hug (and tried not to think how strange I look jerking my head like that). Then, another precious little one brought her mom back to the feeding center after we were all done and her mom proceeded to explain to me how I was her daughter's godmother! I was like, I do not deserve this praise... all I do is give her a hug every week and chat for a bit. I'm nothing like a godmother, but it made me smile all the same.
So, I made it back home and we had a wonderful dinner with good friends: baked potato bar, salad, fresh fruit, and dessert (which we were too full to consume). We told stories and laughed and got tired at the old-person hour of 9:30 pm.
So, there were two things that interrupted this otherwise perfect day.
1. I think I am lactose intolerant and need to stop denying (my stomach is hating me!)
2. Google decided this is not my blog and will no longer let me sign in
Interruption number 1, well, it's almost too painful to talk about. I love milk. I grew up on a dairy farm and it's more than a part of a balanced diet. It's my history! And ice cream... I can't even think of it!
Interruption number 2 really had me fuming for a few hours earlier today, but I set up another "author" so I can still write, but I'm still a little angry. On Friday, I was singing google's praises with Chrome and Buzz and iGoogle and everything. Today I feel like they stole my journal. Boo.
Well, anyway. Tomorrow I will celebrate love again, with plans to make cookies to pass out and maybe bring a girly, pink cake to Micah Project to celebrate the friendships there.
let love FLY, friends

don't skimp on love.

Sometimes I can't believe that time is not dependent on anything. It goes and goes and goes and then a year later happens, whether I think it is slow or fast or just right. It goes.

Well, last year at this time, I was planning a sweet dinner for the 10th grade girls at my school with my roomie and co-conspirator Heather. It was maybe my all-time favorite memory of last year for a couple reasons, I was: 1. hanging out with a bunch of lovely ladies all in one place 2. laughing until my sides hurt and 3. being a small part of spreading some major love.
This year, I frankly wasn't "feelin' it." Whatever "it" is, the routine craziness and life's grand excuses had stolen the desire to make any big deal out of this love-soaked time of year. I said to myself, "Self. There are so many other battles to be fought and won: pep squad team, behavior contract plan, mission trip, etc... Come on, now. Narrow it down a bit."
Well, self, I have something to tell you:
When Jesus narrowed things down, He didn't skimp on love and I don't intend to either
This week, I can't seem to get over this: There is so much hurt. There is so much pain. There is so much. The 'so much' is making me nauseous this week. I hate seeing people hurt and I hate hearing about the people that hurt them. I hate it. I hate the "so much" that is choking out everything beautiful. And even as I see this "so much" getting bigger and growing stronger, I know and believe that right here in the present there is joy to be found.

Even still, I have been so encouraged in the past couple days (completely outside of my own doing). Every single day, I have to believe there is a beautiful treasure to be found, but it is hidden. And every day I can set out to uncover the mystery of joy that is waiting to show me that it can overwhelm the "so much" with something more pure and lovely.
I don't know, maybe this strange search is what led me to splurge and walk to two grocery stores, decidedly tie my apron firmly around my waist, allow decorations (sent with love from mom) to spill over onto a corner of our house, plan for a dinner of heart-shaped pancakes, and resign myself to a somewhat unkept house.
You may think it's funny that I have conversations with myself, or that I call myself "Self," or that I am bold enough to transcribe said conversation here for you to read. That's okay. I think it's funny too. Personally, these conversations have a great purpose.
I just want to leave you with a little something I learned way back in the day from my parents, who gave each other the same cheesy, red, GIANT, heart-shaped sucker every year: 
don't skimp on love this weekend.

You can skimp on a lot of things: decorations, chalky sweetheart candies, dinners out, roses, decoupage crafts... 
but whatever you do, let love fly like crazy and see how many people can be touched and to what great extent you can overwhelm the "so much" with your efforts!
Good night, friends.