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.”

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!

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.

snippets, anecdotes, and 7 worst things

Okay, I'm ba-AACK!
Last Saturday, we ventured up the infamous, cloud forest mountain (noteworthy because of my first failed attempt and following lost-on-mountain-adventure). The quaint little cabins welcomed us in the little town of Rosario after the long hike. I was especially glad to reach our destination because we took students with us.
The night was filled with food, conversation, laughter, books, worship, laughter, scorpion spotting, laughter, scorpion killing, worship, and more laughter.
Again, I realized how important it is for laughter to be involved in my life! We woke up early and ventured out to see the sun break through the cloudy haze and then spent quiet time, worship time, reading time, and breakfast time.
We hiked out Sunday morning and we were "sucking the marrow" right out, as Thoreau suggests. I almost collapsed when I got home, if not for the dark chocolate Heather brought from Canada. I took in a Mars Hill sermon, cleaned a bit, and then we made dinner before going to Micah Project. Whew!
So.... I am not making excuses, I just want you all to know that "Every Day in May" took place in my journal for the past two days. Well, that's not entirely true. On Saturday night, Heather and I wrote a song that will never be sung again or written down. I wrote the words as they fell off my lips and I happily considered it my writing for the day.
Today... well, I decided to go back to the prompts from and I landed on number 231 which says, "List the 7 worst things to say to a person who just got dumped."
Hm. It's not really my cup 'o tea, but we'll see how it goes. I do like that it is going to be short, because I am WIPED out! Today after school, we met up with Diana and Maria and played some cards in McDonald's... then picked up Sara and made some AMAZING orange, mango, ginger chicken with vegetables over long grain rice.
So, maybe 7 things is all I can muster right now, anyway. :)
SEVEN worst things you can say to a person who just got dumped (in no particular order)
1. "Oh, don't worry, that girl I saw him with was probably just his sister."
2. "Hey, you'll survive! I mean, I've been dumped many times... and you kind of just get used to it, you know?"
3. "What did you do? I thought you guys had such a good thing!"
4. "I'm sorry. I mean, I can't say I know how you feel, since I got married and everything... but it must be real tough."
5. "I never told you this, but me and him... we, uh, well, we like each other."
6. "I guess God doesn't want you to have a boyfriend."
7. "I wonder what you'll do now..."
Hm. I'm a fan of creative writing prompts, but this was completely and unsatisfactorily uninspiring.
Well, I'll just say it was probably inevitable to have a day where I didn't love the prompt, the character, or the process. It happens.
Every Day in May Project, day TEN (days eight and nine are in my head or my journal)

Okay, now for that fleeting, precious thing called sleep...

Wednesday Web Suggestions

1) Have you heard of Mark Driscoll?
He rocks. He's to the Left of the Right, to the Right of the Left. And he rocks. Heard him speak at Catalyst West last week, and he was every bit as good in person as the sermons I hear online.

2) Stuff Christians Like. This is hands down my favorite blog of the year. I own his book, have met him in person, and Jon Acuff is the real deal. Or if you have a bit, or want some cubicle listening, check out this- a video of him speaking. He's HILarious.

3) Just for fun, check this out. Somehow, beards have become a big part of the lives of some guy friends in my lives. Saw this site that one of the aforementioned bearded men posted. Hilarious! I think most youth pastors stay in the neutral area of beard trustworthiness, thankfully.

4) Every Day in May. I'm doing it. At Catalyst, I was struck by the fact that I'm a painter... who doesn't paint. And why not? Well, to get myself back in the habit of doing what I love, I'm committing to painting every day in May. Doesn't have to be good, doesn't have to be big, but it has to be a painting. Follow me on twitter to hear about how its going! :)

5) Favorite new blog here. Happens to be my good friend and boss at Valley, and a legit guy who writes from the heart about life, youth ministry, and funny stuff. Check it out!

Hope to write more about Catalyst soon, and will definitely be keeping you in touch as far as how Every Day in May is going.
Night, friends.


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.

Wise Words

Read and chew on these words from Cornelius Plantinga.

The truth is that nothing in this earth can finally satisfy us. Much can make us content for a time but nothing can fill us to the brim. The reason is that our final joy lies “beyond the walls of this world,” as J.R.R Tolkien put it. Ultimate beauty comes not from a lover or a landscape or a home, but only through them. These earthly things are solid goods, and we naturally relish them. But they are not our final good. They point to what is higher up and further back…Even if we fall deeply in love and marry another human being, we discover that our spiritual and sexual oneness isn’t final. It’s wonderful, but not final. It might even be as good as human oneness can be, but something in us keeps saying “not this” or “still beyond”…What Augustine knew is that human beings want God…God has made us for himself. Our sense of God runs in us like a stream, even though, because of sin, we divert it toward other objects. We human beings want God even when we think that what we really want is a green valley, or a good time from our past, or a loved one. Of course we do want these things and persons, but we also want what’s behind them. Our inconsolable secret, says C.S. Lewis, is that we are full of yearnings, sometimes shy and sometimes passionate, that point us beyond the things of earth to the ultimate reality of God.

I picked this up on TGC from Tullian. Check it out here. Well, I can't say much after that! Maybe I'll do some reflecting tomorrow...

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

spring cleaning and bullet points

I've decided to succumb to the temptation to title a post like millions of others will this spring. Partly because the idea is very fitting for all the clutter I've gathered in my life and partly because I am very literally spring cleaning. The laundry is going out back, the trash is beckoning from all corners of my seemingly small abode, and my room is desperate for some attention.

Tonight, I have moved my computer combo (what I now lovingly call my laptop/computer monitor combination) to the dining room table and now I have the grandest ambitions to do some spring cleaning (or planting, maybe?) in the area of writing.
My operation looks something like this, if you put them both together on the kitchen table:
This week is Semana Santa (Holy Week) and most all of my friends and students are off to a coast or a country or a lake to enjoy the week off from school. Meanwhile, I am reading feverishly and awkwardly adjusting to this strange, SLOW pace of life. Yesterday, as I sat outside reading and sunning, I told my mom, "This week is going to be fantastic and so needed. I really just need the rest."
This morning I woke up and felt the usual antsy-ness creeping into my system. "A whole WEEK of this!?!" I asked to all the stuffed up, hot air in my house.
I know I have A LOT of catching up to do here on the blog, and my default method when I have lots to say is to use bullets, so I hope this will give you a picture of what has been happening.
Bullet points are kind of my way of spring cleaning my mind. I have a tendency to make all my physical spaces reflect the mayhem and madness in my mind...
translation: my desk, room, craft space, work space, car space, all space looks distracted and dysfunctional.
solution: bullet points. it may not make the mess go away, but at least I can look at it with some kind of order.
First of all, I don't know where to start with this one... I'll give you the best I got (in slimmed down, bullet-version of course) of the mission trip where I took 9 students to team up with 29 coming from Texas for a week working at an orphanage, planning carnivals for rural schools, and doing various work projects.
  • I have a greater understanding and appreciation for the ministries being "served" on short-term mission trips. Whew! It's definitely NOT about the work that the high school kids can accomplish in one week (it can be done faster, cheaper, and better by locals). It IS about the heart. period.
  • The opposite happened than my mission trip norm (personal devotions become a last priority) I practically LIVED for that hour in the morning to keep my head on straight.
  • I love watching students learn and love and feel the love of God come out their fingertips. It makes my heart downright giddy.
  • I have a hard time fitting in to the "adult" table and "adult" meetings and "adult" discipline of a mission trip... will have to work on that in the future
  • I am a WORLD CLASS WORRIER! If I had a quarter for every time my students said, "Miss, chill. Seriously, just chill." I would have been able to pay for all the mission trip expenses! I admit, I got a little out of control with the worries. There is no excuse, but I think having a co-leader could be a good idea. It was just too much for me to think/plan/coordinate... and frankly (no matter how many times they say, "chill") someone has to worry about the details or guess what? nothing happens. I've tried "chilling" to the max and basically it is un-productive.
  • Every day since the mission trip ended, I have felt a huge burden to continue encouraging the students.
  • pursuing any cause, mission, goal, or idea as an end in itself (or for my own accomplishment as an end) is to pursue death
  • I want more Bible. I want more Jesus. I want more God. That's the best way I can explain my deepening desire to KNOW my Lord more. Whenever God calls me from Honduras, I know I will be going to pursue more Bible instruction. I am considering this option, a ministry of Mars Hill Church in Seattle: Re:Train I want to learn under the best teachers and be forced to question every assumption based on the WORD as Authority. I want to be fully equipped for mission with a great dexterity in wielding the sword of the Spirit.
  • physical "things" are so fluid... well, they are mostly flowing out of me right now. I think I am a financial planner's worst nightmare. No, that can't be right..... a financial planner wouldn't know the first thing to think about me (probably that someday I'll end up living in my parents' basement). Funny, cause this 'money flowing out' thing can only work as long as it's flowing in... and I still want a blackberry and a new Mac laptop. Guess I can't shake all the materialism off, can I? :)
  • Loving the inspiration coming from musicians like this: Robbie Seay Band, The Civil Wars, JJ Heller, Rhema Soul, The Arrows, Luke Brindley, Trevor Davis
  • Loving the preaching/teaching of these good folks: Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, Chris Tomlinson, Vessels of Mercy, Jared Wilson, The Gospel Coalition, WORLD magazine
  • relationships, relationships, relationships. I thought this year would be simply a building year, after spending last year reaching out and in the ambiguous and easily excusable stage of 'getting to know' students. My assumption that I could reap so quickly has led to many humbling experiences. Regardless of response or excitement or fruit, I am called to do the same thing for the students here: LOVE fiercely and SHARE the Truth of the gospel unashamedly.
  • God, in His grace, has given me beautiful glimmers of the blessing of His refining process and His timing. I have been able to REJOICE with students who are seeing Him clearly for the first time. Actually, I think they are seeing just the edge of His garment and are surprised at the joy they find. WHAT a BLESSING to watch them discover!!
  • I am trying and testing my heart to know how I can best love these students in discipleship relationship. I want them to HUNGER and THIRST for the Lord. ... and then I remember being in high school and how strange that sounded. But, regardless, I feel an URGENCY to insist they pursue the BEST and not just okay.
  • Angel of Mercy by Baker
    This book blew me away - crazy what the passion of one person can do. She blazed the trail for the indigent insane to receive care in the United States and some countries in Europe.
  • The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
    For doubters, skeptics, and YOU. That's right. I think EVERYONE should read this book because it will sharpen your skills to understand and examine WHY you believe in God.
  • Twenty Years at Hull-House by Jane Addams
    Read a bit about her in college, but returning to read about the amazing work Jane Addams did in Chicago with the poor and needy. She's said by some to be the mother of modern day social work.
  • Becoming Conversant with the Emergent Church by DA Carson
    I'm revisiting this knucklepunch. It's pretty heavy (over my head, if you will), but I want to learn.
  • Lord, Is it Warfare? Teach me to Stand by Kay Arthur
    Oh, boy. I picked this up off my shelf because I feel like I desperately need it.
  • Basic Christianity by John Stott
    I bought this awhile back and need to dive in.
  • The World is Flat by Friedman
    I'm feeling an urgency to know how small our world is getting, because I think it has crazy implications for the Gospel!
Okay, friends. I could go on and on and on, but I know you would never make it to the end of the post and then I would be too tired to continue to write this week. So, I will leave it here. To come: mission trip pics, funny driving stories (YES THE CAR IS UP AND RUNNING!), 17 again anecdotes (I have way too many!), and aspirations to make an herb garden, sew some t-shirts, and accomplish 3 loads of ironing. :)
and please, please, please...
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

I'm not writing tonight.

I thought I would accomplish so very much today. Instead of my "accomplished" agenda, I waited. I went to church, read my BRP, listened to more sermons, read articles, talked to my parents, and waited. I had set up a time to hang out with a student... for lunch.

Well, after an afternoon of wondering when "lunch" starts, she arrived at 4:45 pm (good thing I decided to have lunch anyway!). In HER words, not mine, "typical Honduran." :) She just left and now I want to choose to read instead of write tonight. This has been a truly restful Sabbath (which was what the message was about this morning in church!)... but strangely enough, if I had followed any of my own plans it wouldn't have turned out the same.
I am reading "Reasons for God" by Timothy Keller. I have always really respected this man and I am excited to read this book as a skeptic might. He wrote it for all those people who have valid questions that need answers. But, and I think this is interesting, he proposes that those who do not believe in God essentially have alternate beliefs about spiritual reality. He goes on to say that in order for these skeptics to have integrity, they must test their beliefs in the same way.
(See this video as an introduction).
Anyway, so I said I wasn't going to write tonight. I'm off to some reading!
.let love fly like crazy.

the arrows

I had a great intention to write something brilliant today, but instead I am going to share my newest musical obsession: a group called The Arrows. From what I gather on the world wide web, they are from South Africa and their mission is to go around spreading the light.

Basically, I love the creativity I have seen and appreciate their honesty. Actually, I just think they make great art. I love art! Here are some samples:
I found this band recently through a Vessels of Mercy blogpost. This is CHALLENGING stuff and beautiful, too!
oh yeah, and let love fly.

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.

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 -

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Sunburnt face, scraped elbow, and Sunday music

I'm nursing a tomato-red face and a brave, battered elbow today. I wear these reminders proudly, because yesterday was a good day. I gave my best effort as shortstop for the Marlins and even slid into second base, in an all-out show of my commitment to team and sport. :) It was my friend Jenna's (Micah Project) birthday and she decided to host the closest thing to a baseball tournament. We met up at the ball diamond (which looked very Sandlot-esque), called Gigantes field, to play in the best organized kickball tournament I've ever seen. There were four teams: Marlins, Astros, Cardinals, and Dodgers (complete with homemade team shirts!!!) competing for the title of champion. The Micah boys showed up full-force along with tons of teachers from the International School. I loved it!

Today, I am thankful for so many things. I have some new inspiration for my room - incorporating sewing space and a prayer corner - that I am pretty excited about. I am working on some ideas for the upcoming high school student retreat... the theme is amazing race, so you can imagine how my mind is flying. I spent the morning doing my BRP (my affectionate and creative acronym for Bible Reading Plan) and can say I am truly loving the Word right now.

I did some cleaning/reorganizing/laundry ... and this invariably ends in more mess (creative organization sometimes just means re-purposing junk and moving it from one place to another). And, in the course of my scattered, Sabbath schedule, I am listening to some GREAT new music.

See for yourself: brooks ritter [vimeo w=400&h=225]

Brooks Ritter- Child from jeff venable on Vimeo.


After I found brooks ritter, it was pretty easy to find sojourn, the worship band he plays in at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Not surprisingly, the music was a beautiful addition to this Sunday. Check them out: Sojourn

How did I happen upon Brooks Ritter in the first place? I happen to read a blog called Holiday at the Sea, written by Brent Thomas. He posts music weekly on his blog. Thanks Holiday at the Sea!

a few things for Friday

I'm not in the best of states today, but I'll come around.

I am still struggling to make technology agree with me, these days, but I thought I would give you a few very helpful and thoughtful links for Friday. (Partly because it will make me feel better about myself the next time I blog, seeing how it wasn't THAT long ago:).

The State of My Union
This is an article written by Chris Tomlinson over on the Gospel Coalition blog (where some of my favorite authors and thinkers blog together). I am a pretty big fan of The Gospel Coalition, so I get them sent to my email and today this article popped up in my inbox. I might be kind of 'out of the loop' about Obama's State of the Union address, but this article reminded me about what is most important and how intentional I am about the state of my union with Christ. Check it out!

World Movers

This is just something that keeps popping into my ever wandering brain. I love to write and I love Jesus (in opposite order of importance and passion). Maybe this is a way I could use both to glorify God someday. I don't know. Anyway, I think it's a great thing.

God's Funeral

This is just an interesting book I wouldn't mind reading soon.

Inspired to Action
Even though I'm not a mom, I'm still pretty stoked about doing the Maximizing your Mornings plan (free ebook I picked up from Kat's blog). I am not-so-secretly stealing these 'mom' ideas to organize and prioritize my childless life. ... and it's working.

Thoughts on Joy
I just like what this article has to say about joy, especially because I've been thinking a lot lately about what it is and how to get more of it.

That's it for today, friends.
I'm off to a mission trip meeting, report cards and parents, game night at my place, and possibly a movie later with some students.

in addition to the previous list

  1. I got hit by a car - no worries I'm fine, just minor bruises and scratches (I was walking)... and confusion over pedestrian confidence/driver conscience
  2. I shared this silly analogy with my grandparents and I feel it's fitting: I feel as if I'm running around in circles... and then I realize I actually am and I better sit down before people around me think I'm crazier than I already am for playing an imaginary game of duck-duck-goose.
  3. It does not feel like December... at all.
  4. I'm getting a little discouraged. A lot bit, to be exact.
  5. I don't think I can do all this ... and do it well. My mom always told me - if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well. What if there are LOTS of things worth doing, mom? What do I do then?
  6. I'm SUPER excited about several Christmas service projects that have me KNEE deep right now: gifts for the kids at the trash dump school Amor y Fe y Esperanza, Christmas party for the 11th grade girls, Christmas concerts (where I will be singing and playing in the band), helping to sell baskets and jewelry to raise money for the feeding center, and welcoming a student from Texas who raised $4,000 to share Christmas with an orphanage in Valle. WOW.
  7. Above is evidence that God is good. All the time.
  8. Answering the invitation to meet with a Savior who came oh-so-humbly... and being blown away.
  9. I'm reading a wonderful, borrowed book called "The Singer" by Calvin Miller.
  10. Listening with great fervor to new and old Christmas music. Please check out one of my new favorites: Wake up the World by JJ Heller (below).

Christmas Conspiring

Okay, so I've been making a pretty big deal about the idea of making instead of buying this Christmas. To be honest, I probably didn't spend that much to begin with. But, I just love the thought of being intentional about 1) making every gift thoughtful and 2) saving money with a purpose in mind.

Advent Conspiracy is what got me started on all this, thanks to a rare but beautiful conversation with my sister. Just seeing the numbers in blaring bold on the promo video (I think I posted it recently) made me question my spending habits. But, the idea really is not to boycott Christmas. The idea is to spend time with others creating meaningful gifts and then making an intentional choice to buy at least one less gift this year (with the money going toward a worthy cause).

I admit, it's easy to get carried away and ship Christmas gift-giving off in one of those extremely expensive mailer boxes with all the unnecessary wrapping paper and frivolous bows. But, that's not really the idea, either.

The idea is to bring the true meaning back into this beautiful, history-altering holiday. I don't know, maybe for you the meaning never left. For me, I have found such delight in the community-gathering, gift-making, cause-inspiring journey to really worship during this Christmas season.

I wanted to recommend some of my favorite places to go for gift ideas:
CraftBits (super creative, easy to use, and lots of different funky ideas)
Etsy (this is a store, but also an idea paradise for creative types)
rethinking Christmas (people are posting new DIY gift ideas here all the time)
Not Martha (these ideas are great, practical, and not mainstream Martha Stewart:)
Gift Weblog (can get pricey when you buy, but not when you make:)

If you think something like this sock monkey is worth much more handmade... go check out how you can make it happen!

Well, I'm turning into some strange version of a young spinster - reading cooking magazines, crafting all over my floor, and saving the strangest scraps that could possibly be used in a future gift. Ah, the blessedly simple life of a scrounger:)

Happy Conspiring!

dream squashers

Alright, folks. I'm losing steam. Something has GOT to be wrong when I sit down at 7 pm and all I want to do is crawl under my covers with a warm mug of tea and drift off where it is safer. Where dream squashers can't find me.

Do you know what I mean when I say dream squashers?
These creepy, powerful things sneak up without warning and the antidote is extremely illusive. These dream squashers are not necessarily people or institutions or conversations. But, then again, they can be found in all these things.

Dream squashers make their way into your mind and then let loose on your dreams with a mallet like that childhood game of Whac-A-Mole. Every time a dream pops up through the tedious surface of everyday, a dream squasher is there with a heavy mallet to end whatever hope of life the dream ever had.

Do you know of these dream squashers? They are evil little things. Sometimes they've got the dream squashed before I can ever really get my hands on what it is exactly. Other times the dream has mysteriously crept past the menacing mallet so I can see it in full view... only to watch the dreadful sight as it is destroyed entirely.

Of my dream squashers, I am aware of several: doubt, busy-ness, hopelessness, resources, inadequacy, the little voice that says, "you shoot too darn high," peers, the status quo, adulthood, students, maturity, procrastination, laziness, tiredness, facebook, envy, pride, fear, FEAR is a big one

Let me bring it around... all the way around so I can look my dream squashers right in their mallet clinching faces. If I'm honest, then sometimes all my dreams conspire together in my mind to squash everything just for some peace and quiet.

For the past couple days, I've felt a bit this way. Last night, I came home from parent-teacher conferences with a solid list of 5 things to do. FIVE things in the course of several hours did not seem too much to ask. But, there I collapsed on my bed with the champion dream squasher cheering itself in the quiet of my mind where no more dreams of world changing could erupt. Maybe that's why I've been so tired... maybe coming up with dreams and then watching them get squashed is very draining on one's spirit. I'm not sure, I just know I don't like dream squashers one bit.

As a direct challenge to all those sneaky devils, I'm posting this video in favor of a brilliant movement called Advent Conspiracy. It's made me dream about how I can make this Christmas less about consumption and more about compassion.

Will you help me defy the dream squashers??

what if God doesn't like cookies?

I just finished making the above (ultimate chocolate chip cookie) for tomorrow's Hands and Feet meeting. I am becoming a huge fan of (and all the suggestions posted by users who have tried the recipes. For this recipe I added oatmeal and switched the baking soda for baking powder. They came out delicious - just ask my tummy!

Where does God fit in to this little weekly baking session? Well, it all goes back to last week at Bible study. Though the number of girls who attend varies, we are always sure about two things: we will eat something delicious and we will study/question/read/wonder about the book of Malachi. I picked up the study, called Blemished, in a Lifeway bookstore on my way out of Indianapolis (I can thank God for that ridiculously confusing 420 loop). It initially caught my eye because Malachi is the last words God spoke before going silent for 400 years. That's a long time. As I leafed through the pages, I felt like it would be a good balance of studying Scripture (only 4 chapters in the whole book) and discussion. And what could be more relevant than prophecy about the failings of the church? So many students here are jaded toward the idea of church as an institution because it is either heaped in tradition or it is a parade of hypocrites.

So, fast forward to last week. It was only our third week meeting officially because of all the chaos down here, so we're making slow progress. But last week, we talked about what it means to be rebuked (we have had some AMAZING discussion!). This is, of course, what God commanded Malachi to do to the Israelite people, specifically the priests. They had become quite cavalier with their sacrifices and God sent Malachi to let them know so.

So, our discussion moved into the idea of sacrifices... what is acceptable and pleasing to the Lord? Why wasn't the Lord satisfied with what the priests were bringing? How could they even know what He wanted in the first place?

All of these questions led us around in circles. An analogy sprang to mind and it came in two parts - both about gifts... here it is:

1. You make a wonderful batch of cookies, using the best recipe. They are all coming out of the oven deliciously, except that your oven cooks unevenly... so there are a few "reject" cookies that you set aside. You don't want your friends to have to eat those - they taste like char! But, being the good person you are (and having all the starving children of the world on your mind), you don't want to waste them either. So, on your way to the party you spot a dreadfully hungry-looking homeless man. You deposit the charred chocolate chip cookies in his hand and kindly bless him in God's name.

2. Your friend (best friend in the whole whole wide world) is about to have a birthday. You can't even describe your love for this friend. This person has been a constant - through breakups and prom dates and divorces and graduations and first interviews. This person is pretty much the best thing you've got, so you want to make his/her birthday the MOST SPECIAL-EST ever (he/she is even great enough to warrant bad grammar!). So, you think and think and think about what would be the best gift .. and then you finally reason that he/she would probably want a dozen batches of your favorite homemade cookies, because that's what you would want for your birthday. You go about and make the plans and you work day and night until his/her birthday finally arrives. The day comes and the birthday happens. Your friend is happy... but not really in the way you thought he/she would be.

In the course of our discussion (which for the purpose of the analogy was all about cookies), I felt a little light bulb illuminate my tiny brain, "WHAT IF GOD DOESN'T LIKE COOKIES?"

We had been talking about sacrifices and gifts and what is pleasing to the Lord. The priests earned a stern rebuke for bringing blemished, crippled lambs to the altar - their castoffs and charred chocolate chip cookies. God saw the hearts behind the sacrifice and was grieved. If the priests really, really, really loved God and wanted to please Him, then they would have to KNOW HIM. I don't know how many times I passed by homeless people in Chicago and gave them leftovers before I finally realized that giving leftovers was no sacrifice at all. It's giving my best - the real $15 meal of the homeless person's choice - now that would be something.

And as in the second example of a best friend. Just because cookies please me, doesn't mean they will please someone else. I have to KNOW someone to understand what pleases him/her. And the same is true with God. He has made us to have the capacity to know Him and to find what pleases Him. In Ephesians 5 we read,

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
"Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you."

Living as children of the light means we can and should find out what the Lord desires of us, not what we want to give to Him. Just because I want to give him an hour in the morning, does that mean it is best or pleases Him? Is it the best hour I have in the day? Or is it my charred cookie remains?

Sometimes I feel like I tell God, "Well, this is my best for the day.. kind of .. or at least it's what is available... or it's what I would want if I were God. Here, just take these cookies... they are really good, even if they do give you a tummy ache. It may not be my best but it's pretty good. ... I hope you like it, because that's what I'm giving you today. You're getting sleepy hours between 4:30-6am and you're getting sentence prayers throughout the day. I hope that's what you like, God. It's pretty good, right?"

I know - I should be embarrassed to share that and I am a little bit. All week that question has been running through my head... what if God doesn't like cookies?
What if all this time I thought he wanted what I wanted to give?

I am starting to think what He wants is splendidly different.

I'm scared to say I'm going to find out, because the rebuking road is not easy.

reformation day... and the end of october

This is a picture of me trying out the box as bed before the sleepout last Friday night.

Tonight is a night for lists, so check this out:

-in honor of reformation day, check out these links:
Ligonier Ministries
Reformation Day Meditation

-to try at home:
homemade chai in several variation (I could NOT find cardamoms here and it turned out okay)
baked butternut squash or winter soup with butternut squash

-to listen:
city on our knees by tobymac (see previous post)
anything vince guaraldi
hank by ben rector

-to craft:
i'm going to try patchwork postcards

it's been a good couple days, folks. a good couple days.

i am missing, a bit, the fam around this time of year. i sure do love 'em.