Friday, December 16, 2005
What I found was a beautiful story about the John Curtis football team--the high school team who won this year's Louisiana class 2A state championship. You can read this article here, and I highly encourage you to do so. The entire story is told through Psalm 127 and is the story of a group of coaches and young men who lived inspired lives over the last season as they and their families sorted through the shattered mess of their New Orleans home.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
I can't decide if this is a tragic moment in which my life will be drastically deprived of the entertainment I so dearly love or a moment to rejoice in which I will be forced to pick-up that book that I have been meaning to read, spend some more time journaling or reading the Word, or spend some time simply being still and drinking in the prescence of God.
Hmmm, second option seems most appealing, but then I must be honest with myself that while I love being alone I also love to distract myself from the fact that I am alone. Droning hours without ER, Grey's Anatomy, and Survivor might be overwhelming.
Realistically, I am not without entertainment. The instrument which I currently use to share this tragedy with you continues to provide endless hours of music, cinematic pleasures in form of DVDs, and pages upon pages of web-surfing. I will still have plenty of distractions to keep me from those tasks that might be more pressing and might ought to be the first things in my life.
This could be a great opportunity to purge the clutter from my life, i.e. old VHS tapes that I rarely watch but yet continue to sit collecting dust. Or I could save my pennies and dimes (how much does a TV cost these days anyway) and purchase a brand-spankin' new TV with all of the amenities.
Hmmm...could be crucial moment in life--choosing to let go of my addictions, i.e. old VHS tapes, ER, Grey's Anatomy, Survivor, college football, hockey (well, already gave that up with ESPN's decision not to carry NHL games this season and my own decision to discontinue the cable), etc.
Question: Am I a strong enough person to live without small screen medium?
Better question: What kind of person can God shape me into without the constant influence of the "idiot box" in my life? (Looked up "television" on Thesaurus.com. "Idiot box" actually is listed as a synonym for television.)
Stay tuned for scenes from next weeks episode--The Decision.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
gen·er·os·i·ty (n.) pl. gen·er·os·i·ties
- Liberality in giving or willingness to give
- Nobility of thought or behavior; magnanimity.
- Amplitude; abundance.
- A generous act.
Provided by Dictionary.comGenerosity is the core virtue for the month of December in our PUMP children's classes. Each week of the month, we discuss a different attribute of generosity. Today as I assisted in classes, I thought over all the generosity that has been shown to me over the past week. Last month's core virtue was gratitude. So I thought I'd take this opportunity to show gratitude for the generosity that has been shown to me:
- Thank you Ike and Kaelea for including me in all the "festivities" of your preparation to leave for Africa.
- Thank you Jessica for giving up extra sleep/study time on Thursday mornings to hang out with me.
- Thank you Sybil for the tickets to the Steven Curtis Chapman/Mercy Me Christmas concert.
- Thank you Kristi for thinking of me to share the free tickets you got to the concert with me.
- Thank you Cheronn for the tickets to the Portland premier of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
- Thank you Jill and Jake for not being too put out with me when I went to see the movie without you. It won't be the same, I know, but I'd like to see it again with you when I'm in Lubbock.
- Thank you Mom and Dad for the care-package full of fun Christmas decorations.
- Thank you Emily for letting me rant and openly share where I am at, and thank you for calmly sharing Truth with me when I'm looking right past it.
- Thank you Emily, Steve, Alasha and Cheronn for taking care of me yesterday when I was sick.
- Thank you Markell for being part of our lives at PUMP. Thank You God for Markell's adoption!
- Thank you Steve, Alasha and Jonah for making me so much a part of your life here.
- Thank You God for making me fearfully and wonderfully and giving me a heart made to be filled only by You.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
My latest addiction is Grey's Anatomy--fast-paced, insightful yet witty, and full of twenty-somethings struggling with the same battles I face as a twenty-something, i.e. loneliness, not quite finding my niche, feeling perpetually caught in between what was and what is to come. I identify with these people and the lives they lead (except for the premarital sex).
This morning as Emily and I sat down to discuss Abba's Child, our latest textual conquest on our journey towards radical discipleship, my addiction helped me to put together a rather vivid word picture of where I currently am in my life:
In me there is a huge, gaping, bloody wound--a war wound if you will--a wound that has been bleeding for years. This wound causes me much grief, pain, and heartache--it is an emptiness within me. Over time I have stuffed the wound full of gauze as if doing triage on a battlefield. My strips of gauze are relationships, material possessions, past-times, etc., anything that provides a little bit of temporary relief and keeps the blood from pouring out. The gauze serves its purpose but does not serve it well.
This week one of those strips of cause that had been there for sometime, caked with dried blood, was removed. I can't begin to describe to you the pain of having it ripped off, tearing at the flesh and reopening the wound. But yet this is a reminder...
This is a reminder, incentive really, to get myself to the operating table. It's time, past time, to unpackage the wound, mend the insides, and close the wound. It's time for something beyond gauze. It's time for the Great Physician in all His glory to take scalpel in hand and fix the broken bits of me. It is time to let Him heal the wound, fill it with Himself, and carefully close it up.
On ER and Grey's when they tell a patient they have to have surgery, that patient never looks too excited. They never jump for joy at the thought of having their flesh cut open and human hands poking around their insides trying to fix the problem. That leads me to believe that I don't want to get to excited about surgery, even a metaphorical one, even when the Surgeon is God. But what the patients do get excited about is when they hear their is a 90% survival rate or they dream of what life will be like post-surgery. So I have no doubt that removing the rest of the gauze is going to hurt like duct-tape ripping the hair off your arms and that the surgery will be long and complicated, but the end result is grace and mercy and a Spirit-filled life--life how it was meant to be lived--as a child of God, an heir to His Kingdom.
Father, fill me with you. Fill my emptiness with You. Tear down the idols in my life. Rip away the addictions. Lead me to the place of brokenness, and in that place allow Your healing hands to go to work in my life. You are my hope, Lord, fill me.
"Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will really is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thank to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:15-20
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
For me Thanksgiving is filled with memories of Grandma--from her famous cornbread dressing to card games to greasy wishbones filled with promise of the best wishes ever wished. Grandma was a daily fixture in my childhood. Rarely did a day pass without talking to her or at least hearing the latest gossip passed through my mother of the goings on in our church's senior adult ministry. We saw her at least three or four times a week and at most daily. The cranny's of mind are stuffed full of memories of Grandma.
The smallest things remind me of her--Vicks Vapor Rub, folded Kleenex, and cornbread. I could tell you many stories of my grandmother. I could tell you of the trials and triumphs of her 96 years. I could tell you of her truest and best love, my mother. I could tell you of a woman after God's heart.
Thank You, Father, for each moment we had to share.
As I think of my grandmother today, I also want to remember my friend Nicole, her daugthers and son. Nicole, I only met your mother once, but I knew through you and your girls the love that she had. Blessings to you, my friend, may God grip you tightly in His embrace.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Last night Kristi B., her mom, friend Tabitha, Emily and I went to see Rent. I have to say that I was very impressed with how faithful the movie was to the original Broadway musical, and not being confined to a stage, they were able to do some pretty amazing things with the set.
Rent is probably one of the most controversial musicals ever made, and the movie brought the controversy into full Techincolor. If you are feint of heart, I don't suggest that you go see this movie. However, if you want to be challenged to take a deeper look at society and love, then I highly recommend it.
The first time I saw the musical, it forced me to take a deep look at myself and how I love or don't love the "untouchables" of our society. I saw a message of love and grace portrayed that the Church needs to portray. I saw a drag queen do more to encourage others, promote love, and offer grace than I have probably done in my life time.
A huge message of the movie, even highlighted in one of the songs, is to "live for today." As Emily so aptly expressed following the movie (her first time seeing Rent), that is all they are living for is today. They love, but they have no hope of future glory--a hopeless existence.
I cannot help but be reminded of Peter's words, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15) I pray that we would always be able to give answer for our hope and that we would be prepared to offer that hope to those who need love and grace so badly.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Pinkeye (also called conjunctivitis) is redness and swelling of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that lines the eyelid and eye surface. The lining of the eye is usually clear. If irritation or infection occurs, the lining becomes red and swollen. (source: WebMD)
I have not had Pinkeye since I was a little kid. Somehow, it is an infection that I associate with childhood, and I never thought it was possible to get it as an adult. I was wrong...
I have Pinkeye in both eyes, and I am sure it is just a matter of time until it spreads throughout the entire PUMP Church. Apparently it is viral and there is nothing you can do for it but to let it run its course--for the next 3-5 days! And of course it's highly contagious--good thing I don't mind spending loads of time by myself!
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Today was one of those days for me.
And God was BIG!
Some days you just need to know that you are appreciated. Some days you need to know that others care for you. Some days you need to know that the church surrounding you is seeking to be like Him just as you are seeking to be like Him. Some days you need to cry, and some days you need others to pray over you in response to your tears--or maybe just 'cause they love you.
Today was one of those days for me.
And a lot of somebodies showed they loved and appreciated me!
To those of you who shared that extra love today, I thank you. You were a blessing to me on a day when I needed to be appreciated and a day when I needed God to be big.
And to those of you who need to be appreciated and need God to be big, He is BIG and I pray that someone shows you today that they appreciate you!
Monday, November 14, 2005
Last week's highlights included a trip to Larch Mountain and Rascal Flatts in concert. That's right, Rascal Flatts with opening acts Blake Shelton and Keith Anderson.
Some of you are out there wondering, "Is it possible that Amanda Peterson went to a country concert? Is this the same hip-hop lovin', country hatin' girl I knew? Surely I have found the wrong blog. This must be another Amanda Peterson!"
I assure you that I am the same Texas gal who hated country music prior to moving to Oregon. However, something strange happened when I got to Oregon. I didn't hear country Music everywhere I turned.
The onslaught of steel guitars and deep twang of a country melody were left behind, and something strange happened. I actually began to miss it. I programmed Portland's two country radio stations on my car stereo presets. I began to listen to it more and more, call it homesickness if you will or maybe a nostalgia for the past. And now I genuinely love country music. I actually seek out the ballads that I used to hate. What is even scarier is that the more I listen to it, the more I relate to the songs and the more I discover that I am a Texan through and through. I can no longer deny my "hickish" tendencies.
Oh dear, what's ever to become of me!
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
There I was having a jolly old day when along come my devious and yet ever so wonderful friends with a plot to destroy a carefully planned out day. Oh well.
Emily was the next to be kidnapped, and then the Grauls (my devious and yet ever so wonderful friends), Emily, Conor (Kristi's son who Kaelea watches in the afternoon), and I set off on an adventure full of winding roads and snowy tree-tops, after a stop off at Wendy's for some grub. (By the way, Ike and Kaelea, I think the second half of my chicken sandwich may still be in your van. Sooorrrry!)
When we reached our destination, Emily and I climbed out of the van in the midst of a winter wonderland. We each grabbed a hand of one of the little ones and set off up the trail to the very pinnacle of Larch Mountain where we had a glorious view of Mt. Hood, a somewhat foggy view of Mt. Saint Helens, and a view of the large cloud mass in front of Mt. Ranier. It was beautiful! Absolutely breath-taking! And breath-taking it was in the midst of snow fights and fruitless efforts to knock snow off near-by trees with heaps of snowballs as ammo.
I found rest up there on the mountain. A needed reprieve from the stresses of the world below. Thank you, Ike and Kaelea (Michal and Malachi, too) for sharing your afternoon with us and reminding me of the beauty God has formed, the joy of a snowball, and the needed rest of an afternoon with friends. I hope that I walked, or rather drove, or even yet rather slid, down the mountain with my head held a little higher. Next time, let's remember to bring a camera!
Sunday, November 06, 2005
They at least had the decency to "ask" for volunteers, but not having ever learned the lesson "it's impolite to point," I promptly pointed out Kristi B. Didn't I know? Am I really so foolish to have also never learned the lesson that those who volunteer others get volunteered.
So I found myself on stage, hot lights beating down on me and the stairs of the crowd penetrating my very soul. Oh, the fear! I don't necessarily mind being on stage, BUT I am not an improve kind of girl. I have to prepare to be in front of a crowd. I need time to wrap my mind around the idea and to get myself organized. This was terrifying, so when I was asked to help off-stage, I quickly took the option not realizing I was headed for something far worse!
The improv game was based on sound effects. I was the sound-man. This meant a microphone. I do not like microphones. I am perfectly fine with my volume. I am boisterous enough as it is! Yet there I was, standing in front of a microphone with the cast telling me not to be afraid to really step up into it. Hello! Terrified of microphones! Not only do you want me to make sound effects into it (not my forte!), but you want me to practically put my mouth on it! Are you joking me!
I don't how long it lasted. I don't know what sound effects I made, though I know I did say "pop" and "bam" (terrible I know). I only know as soon as the skit was over, I made a b-line for my seat. I vaguely remember applause, and I received a coupon to get in free the next time I come. (Anyone want a free ticket?) This little coupon did come in handy as the full panic attack hit me once in my seat. Here I am fanning myself with the coupon, trying not to cry, and trying to return to some sort of comfort level. Classic!
I guess the important thing is I provided great amusement to my friends...
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Quick update to let you know that it is actually warm in my apartment! I have stubbornly waited to call the gas company to turn the gas on until now. I did not want to pay the $5-10 for the summer months, and I decided I liked not paying a gas bill so much that I would hold off for as long as possible, November being my goal. Today is November 1st. The gas guy came today! Just in time!
Monday, October 31, 2005
No Halloween activities tonight. I took in the festivities Saturday night at the Galyon's costume party. Lot's of fun complete with pumpkin carving and from what I hear a very exciting fire display. (I missed it because I left early, but I heard that they really set the party on fire!)
Sunday was TLC (Together with Love in Christ) an event where many of the churches in the Portland/Vancouver area get together at the Oregon Convention Center for Sunday morning services. Crazy activities, but all in all a good time.
But the thing most important to share with you is a prayer request for one of our youth kids. Dante, 15, went in to the hospital at the end of last week--gall bladder problems. However, they also discovered that his lymph nodes are swollen. They suspect that he might have lymphoma. We'll know for sure after the biopsy. Dante is an incredibly smart guy with a good family, but for a while now he has been hanging out with the wrong crowd. Please pray for Dante and his family. Pray especially for mom Beverly. She loves her kids a lot and wants the best for them.
Thanks for your prayers!
Thursday, October 27, 2005
What irritates me even more is that as much as I am annoyed and frustrated by these people, Jesus loves them a hundred times more. I can't comprehend how He could possibly love someone that irks me so much. But He loves them all the same and He died for them as much as He died for me.
So what do you do with that? How do I begin to love them like God loves them? How do I let go and learn to love them--yes, even though they are hard to love and sometimes, it seems, impossible to love?
I guess the truth is that if love truly is a verb and verbs are actions that require thought and choice to make that action, then love must be a choice as well as a verb. That must mean that I--who have control of my actions, who can choose to be reactive or proactive towards people--can choose to love them. I can choose to let go of the things that vex me. I can choose to not let the injuries that they may cause, change who I am or how I see them--as a child of God. I guess that's what Jesus did when He prayed, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
So maybe as I choose to become more Christ-like, as I choose to allow the Spirit to work on me, as I choose to learn and grow, then I learn how to choose to love them despite it all. Maybe as I work on me, then they become easier to love simply because I am becoming one with Christ. I can't change them, I can only change me and how I respond to them and how I see them.
Father, give me the courage to change who I am. Give me the courage to be like-minded with Christ. Give me the courage to learn how to love those who it is hard for me to love. Teach me how easy it is to love them because I am growing and walking with You. Father, grow me that I might love them. Father, forgive me for not loving them. Forgive me for my lack of willingness to learn to love them. Forgive me for my selfishness. Humble me before You, Lord, I want to love You and I want to love Your people. Amen.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
We have been praying for Jim for a long time. His wife Mary is the best friend of our hostess Shirley Gary. Both are beautiful women who love the Lord so much. He has been very good to them and they both can tell you amazing stories about the grace of God.
Recently Jim and Mary have gone through quite a bit of trauma. Jim suffered a stoke and has been in a nursing home for several weeks. Last week, he was moved to the hospital for surgery--they had to amputate two of his toes. Mary, who is raising her four-year-old grandson, also went into the hospital last week. All of the stress she was under weakened her body and she had caught a bad infection. We then found out that Mary's brother was also in the hospital due to throat cancer. He has since been moved to a nursing home. In addition to all of this, Mary's son is in prison, and her daughter is an alcoholic and struggles with drug addictions. In the midst of all her family, all struggling, Mary is the only believer.
After watching Jim tonight and seeing his tears as we sang to him, I believe that Jesus is standing at the door fervently knocking. He wants Jim as one of His own and has wanted him for a long time. Please be praying for Mary and Jim. Pray for healing for all the hurts in their lives. Pray that Jim would accept Christ and that their children would accept Him. Pray also for their grandson as I am sure he is very confused and afraid at this time. Thanks for your prayers.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
We (Emily, Jessica, Christense, and I) are about two hours into a six hour movie marathon! Six hours--one movie. Pride and Prejudice. This is the A&E mini-series that aired in 1995. Why do we invest such time in this movie? Because we are hopeless romantics and we are women!
My first introduction to P&P came from my college roommate, Rachel. Homework breaks (especially during finals) meant runs to Texaco for 64oz. sodas (the caffeine fix being necessary) and M&M's (peanut for me), popping in tape 4 or 5 (we had the VHS version then) for the two best episodes of the mini-series, and pining away after Mr. Darcy aka Colin Firth.
Now we are giving Jessica her first introduction to P&P--the appropriate christening of a college freshman. The tradition and the obsession continues...
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Really, let's be honest, can we really be in "relationship" with God in the way that we are in relationship with our mom or our best friend? It's a nice sounding idea. But quite frankly, I expect Meagan, my best friend, to call and check in every once in a while. I expect for her to come visit me and for me to go visit her. I expect to have lengthy conversations with her in which we discuss our lives and in which we bounce ideas off of one another.
But God is a whole different story...God doesn't call me up on the phone or even email. He doesn't come to visit me or I to visit Him, with the exception of a metaphorical sense. And the conversations that we have seem at times to be a trifle one-sided.
Now don't get me wrong here, I'm not trying to limit God's absoluteness or His ability to be in relationship with me. But what I am saying is that it is hard for me to be in relationship with Him because I can't be in relationship with Him on my terms. There are no phone calls or visits here. It's all about the time I spend in the Word or in prayer. Or is it...
As we discussed last week being in relationship with an essentially invisible and inaudible God, Ike came to a new conclusion that maybe the problem is the way we see the problem. Maybe God is not invisible and inaudible, maybe we are blind and deaf. (Read Ike's thoughts here.) Maybe we are all Helen Keller's seeking out our Anne Sullivan--our own teacher to help as communicate with what is outside our blindness and our deafness--seeking to communicate with the infinitely visible and audible God.
In light of that, it is easy for me to understand why sometimes my relationships with people bear a greater weight in my life than my relationship with God. It is easy to understand why sometimes I am more dependent on them than I am on an omniscient God who knows far more about me than I could ever know about Him. In my blindness and deafness, I can see them, touch them, hear them. But I can't always see the ways God expresses Himself to me. I can't always here His gentle whisper or even His roaring thunder. I confess that I am more dependent on some of these relationships with people than I am on my relationship with God. I confess that some of these relationships are on their way to becoming idols in my life. And I confess that I desperately want them torn down before they become that. I also confess that I don't necessarily know how to tear down those soon-to-be idols. I confess that I need God to do the tearing down, and that I need Him to place Himself securely on the throne of my heart. I confess that I need Him to teach me to overcome my blindness and my deafness. I confess that I'm dumb sheep and that I need a shepherd.
Lord, make me incredibly aware of you! Where my eyes fail, enliven me to Your touch. Where my ears fail, awake me to Your aroma. Where every sense fails, teach me to taste and see that You are good. Tear down all idols and would-be idols in my life. Be the shepherd that I need You to be. Lead me on clear paths, teach me to feed on Your Word, and whet my thirst on Your streams of mercy. I love you, Lord, and I'm praying to want nothing more than You everyday that You give me.
Having learned my lesson in the first apartment, as soon as I saw, and smelled, the carpet in my new apartment, I asked about getting it replaced. Of course my landlord, being the thrifty man that he is, decided the carpet would be fine if it was cleaned and deoderized. (Have I mentioned that the smell literally could have knocked you out with one whiff?) So the carpet was cleaned, oh well, at least it wasn't shag...
But as the weeks passed, I slowly began to notice a familiar pungent aroma, subtle at first but growing ever stronger. I knew that I could not survive living in the full force of the aroma, so I kindly asked my landlord, again, about replacing the apartment. This time he agreed. Obviously it was the pad that smelled so bad--imagine urine and a musty gym bag. So last weekend the new carpet came...
Well, it came in spurts. Initially, it was supposed to be replaced on Friday. But the carpet layers were in a car accident and we had to reschedule for Saturday. Inconvenient, yes, but not too horrible. It was slightly inconvenient that everything I owned--books, knick-knacks, electronics, small furniture, etc.--was crammed into the kitchen leaving just enough room to crack open the refrigerator! But I managed for one night.
Saturday rolled around, and I looked forward to lovely new carpet that would take 3 hours to install. They were supposed to be there by 11am. But the clock ticked on. Around 1:30pm one guy finally showed to take a look at the house and see the magnitude of the job (not a huge job as my apartment is not huge). Then he left for another hour to go get his buddy so that they could get started. The old carpet did not actually start coming out until around 3pm. At 6:30pm Emily and I left to go get dinner (yum, Chili's). I assume the carpet guys left around 7pm, but who knows. When we arrived home after dinner, my apartment was in complete disarray! All of the closet doors were shoved into the bathroom. My furniture was piled up against the wall. Carpet tacks, carpet excrement, tools, and trash everywhere! Those of you who know me well can only imagine the stress that this caused me!
They were supposed to be back at 7am Sunday morning to finish the job. 7am, I rolled off the couch were Emily graciously let me sleep and went to open the apartment for them. I then went back to shower and dress for church--being that I could not enter my bathroom, I had to borrow Emily's toiletries with the exception of a toothbrush (I luckily had an extra one in the linen closet)! 8am came, I left to pick-up kids in the church van. 9am came, still on the van. 10am came, I went to teach class. 11am came, and they finally showed! By 5pm they were finally done, packed up all their stuff--leaving empty coffee cups, water bottles, and carpet tacks embedded in various sections of the carpet for me to later step on--and were gone!
All and all, a harrowing experience, but the lovely smell and feel of my new carpet makes it all worth it!
Saturday, October 15, 2005
com·mu·ni·ty Sharing, participation, and fellowship.
At least that's one definition (for the full definition, click here).
"Sharing, participation, and fellowship." Sharing in life, participating in life, fellowshipping in life. I can't help but think that we do few of those well. We seem to be very good at putting up the pretense of "community," but how much of that is true in your life grit? How much do our online communities, political communities, lifestyle communities, neighborhood communities, and church communities really mean that I am in your life--I know your stories, you know my stories, we weep together, we laugh together, we provide meaningful relationship for one another that doesn't allow for us to be lonely in a world full of easy-to-find, easy-accessess, one-step community trials?
Being as my thoughts are not fully wrapped around this subject yet, it might be best to lead you to an article that presents the subject much better than I can. Mike Cope recently wrote an article for Christian Standard on the subject that you can read here.
Mostly, I guess what I am saying is that I personally want to be better about community and building community.
Lord, help me to be a person that knows people. That I know what makes them laugh and what makes them cry. That I share what makes me laugh and what makes me cry. That I know their stories--the stories that make them who they are. And that they know my stories. Father, teach me the meaning of community and show me how to share, participate, and fellowship within community. Amen.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Monday, October 10, 2005
After Kristi's recent trip to Nashville, she posted some random observations that she made of the "South." As she stereotypically compartmentalized my homeland into the ostentatious box of Nashville, TN--let's face it, Nashville is the flashiest Southern city ever--Emily and I felt the need to share our thoughts on the Northwest. Check out Kristi's thoughts and our comments here.
Disclaimer: Please note that this is all in good fun! We just needed to be proud Texans for a minute!
Monday, October 03, 2005
I had that conversation today...
Emily and I have been studying together out of a book called Restoring At-Risk Communities by John Perkins. Perkins is a man who has been instrumental in pulling together CCDA and has done ground-breaking work in the area of race reconciliation. If you haven't ever read anything that he has written, do.
This last week we studied through the chapter in the book that is specifically focused on race reconciliation and ended (or began, depending on how you look at it) the study today with a several hour conversation with Steve Maxwell, a good friend and a minister at PUMP.
Steve and his wife Alasha are some of my closest friends. I was there when their son Jonah was born, they frequently refer to me as their "other child", and I spend a lot of my life at their home and visa versa. Oh, by the way, Steve and Alasha are black. Normally, this point doesn't matter, but today it does. Normally when I think of Steve and Alasha, I think of them as my friends and my family, as people who are an intrical part of my daily life. But as I read, I discovered something that is relevant to the material that I was studying: Steve and Alasha are black. Jonah, one of the cutest babies in the whole wide world, is black. And whether I like it or not, Satan has found a way to separate and divide us through the color of our skin. And he's found ways to make us, all of us, think that we aren't racist and that we don't have racial problems anymore. But the truth is, I am a racist. I am a racist because I am addicted to myself--my own culture, my own values, my own comfort zones. I am addicted to the things that make me feel safe, and it doesn't feel safe a lot of the time to know people as people and not hues.
So why can I, a racist, be friends with Steve and Alasha? Because of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus told me to "love my neighbor," and he said that commandment is like the first--"to love God with your heart, soul, mind and strength"--he said that everything hangs on those two commandments. I can be in relationship with them because I have related the Gospel in who I am and have related my story to them. Because they have related the Gospel in who they are and have related their stories to me.
The truth is that the Gospel story, and only that story, can heal the rift between the races--black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Arab, Jew, Samaritan. The only thing that can heal the rift is us, who have the Gospel story written on us, taking the step to build relationship with our neighbor even when he is beaten and bloody and on the side of the road. Us giving up our self-addiction and learning to love our neighbor, and us recognizing that our neighbor is not only those who look just like us and live next door to us.
So why has this conversation so altered my paradigm? Because I know that everyday is an opportunity for me to relate, to form relationship. Everyday is an opportunity to share the gospel story and give up my self-addiction. Everyday is an opportunity for me to make a difference and reclaim the beauty Satan has destroyed, reclaim it for the glory of God. Because I now know that I can help people to see their neighbor. Because I can now encourage everyone I know to give up their self-addiction.
Lord, this is deeper than I ever knew. It is more painful than I was willing to believe. But don't let me see the world through out-dated paradigms that keep me caught in self-addiction. Father, I want to love people. I want to love my neighbor. Teach me to relate the Gospel and to relate my story. Teach me to build relationship that goes deeper than any of the comfort zones and false gods that I set up. Father, make me humble before men that they may see my good deeds and praise You, my Father in Heaven.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Our group basically came to the conclusion this morning that the greatest thing that keeps us from God is ourselves--our mindset, our paradigm, our own general selfishness. For me the greatest form of this that I have been aware of is all the various roles I play. I am a church member, a daughter, a neighbor, a program director, a friend, an individual--and I could continue to ramble those off for a while. I feel like I am consistently taking off one hat to put on another hat, scrambling to have the right hat and the right priority at the right time. But the more I look at God and what He created us for, I don't believe that this role-playing bit lines up with Him.
Go way back to creation. What were the commands that God gave Adam? To be fruitful and multiply and to cultivate the earth. Right? But I can't find anywhere that God says, "cultivate the earth from 8 to 5 and be fruitful and multiply outside of that time." I can't find anywhere that God says, "put on this hat for a while and then put on this hat." This troubles me. Because it seems that Jesus called us to follow him and that everything in our life is to be lived out of that following. So every role I have must be an extension of who I am in Christ. And right now, that's just not the case. Right now, my role as "child of God", "follower of Christ", Christian is just another hat I put on. It's not the role out of which all other roles flow.
So my question is, how do we in a modern world full of all sorts of hats--cowboy hats, derbies, baseball caps--stop putting hats on and just live out the one role that we have been called to? I would enjoy your thoughts on this one. I want to simplify my life and just know Jesus. How do we really simplify in today's modern/post-modern world?
Saturday, September 24, 2005
This for me is not about loosing weight. It's not about reaching a goal weight or fitting into a certain pair of jeans. This is not about dissatisfaction with my physical appearance.
In the last week, I have had many people tell me "you don't need it" or "you look great as is." And those folks are right. From a weight loss stand point, I don't need it. But this for me is about creating new habits, making a life change. For so long food has been an idol in my life. I began using it for comfort when I was young and that became habit in my life. This is not healthy.
Okay, the next few sentences may sound like a commercial: The reason I chose L.A. Weight Loss is that they are really about making a life change. After I loose the weight I would like to loose, they will stick with me for an entire year, helping me to not make it another yo-yo diet but to truly make it a lifestyle change.
It was about this time last year that I began counseling. I was in counseling for six months dissecting feelings of depression, self-hatred, and regret. In those six months, God worked hard to change the way that I perceive myself--He's still working on it. This is another part of the process. He's shown me that in order to love others well, I have to love myself well. This is another step toward loving myself well. Even more, this is tearing down an idol in my life, food, which has been sitting on God's throne in my heart!
Please pray for me as I'm making this change in my life. I'm also praying that if any of you have idols in your life, you will begin to tear them down. I just want Jesus! It's that simple. So I'm removing anything in my life that is keeping me from Him! I pray that I will continue to have courage to tear down the idols in my life!
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Franklin is from Cameroon. For those of you who are geographically challenged like I am, Cameroon is basically in the armpit of Africa. I'll be honest that I knew very little about Cameroon before meeting Franklin beyond that it was a French providence at one time. I still know very little, but Lord willing I will learn more as the journey with our new friends and neighbors progresses.
Anna met Franklin while she was in the Peace Corp. He lived next door to her and began watching out for her. Franklin moved to the States about three years ago, and they were married six months later. They are incredible people, and a great joy to be around. Something wonderful just flows out of their mannerisms. Something very genuine and appealing.
It was amazing to listen to Franklin talk of Cameroon and his experiences of life--from playing world class soccer to walking to school. His experiences in life are so different from mine. This is an athlete who literally had no shoes to play in until his team was sponsored when they went to a major tournament. He and his teammates literally slept with those shoes because they were so precious to them. Franklin and Anna talked a lot about the schools in Cameroon--mud brick buildings with 60-70 students crammed into one class. Two or three textbooks to share between all of them. Anna told of a grant she had received in order to by textbooks for one of her classes. The school sold over half of the thirty texts (one per two students) in order to make money for other necessities. Franklin joked about the t-shirts they wore for jerseys, so faded and worn that you could see straight through them. These shirts were passed back in forth between the various athletic teams at their school--soccer, girls volleyball, handball, etc.
The stories and conversation we shared tonight were wonderful, but what amazed me the most tonight was Franklin's attitude toward the lot that life has handed him. As I listened to him, I found myself thinking of us spoiled, selfish Americans caught up in our greed and materialism when $10 could send a child to school in Cameroon for a full year. But Franklin only saw the different burdens that we suffer from. He said that he never felt impoverished growing up because that was just life--you don't realize it until you step out of it for a minute. He recognized that Cameroon is physically impoverished, but America's poverty is a poverty of community and relationship. We aren't in each others lives and homes the way Franklin's culture is. As he described it, in Cameroon everyday is Friday. On Friday we look forward to the weekend ahead and are excited that the work week is ending. In Cameroon, every day has that feeling.
I couldn't help feeling as I was listening to Franklin describe the community of Cameroon that this non-Christian man was describing what Jesus meant for the church to be. A body of people who were deep in each others lives, just walking into peoples homes without knocking, stopping to talk with someone because that someone was more important than whatever task they were working on. That what is most important is always the people. It's enjoying life. It's knowing Jesus, and making disciples.
I wish I had the courage in our individual and independent prioritized culture to just walk into my neighbors home. I wish I had the courage to just walk into my neighbors life. I wish I had the courage to live in community the way that Jesus called us to.
Lord, give me the courage!
Friday, September 16, 2005
It's strange to be a single twenty-something. There is a rift in you between a family who loves you and the independent life you now lead. Somehow, it is this in between time in which you are anticipating the next thing to come--whether that be a family of your own, the next career change, the next move, or whatever--and haven't really let go of the things behind--whether that be school, family, an ex, or a hometown. Jamie Cullum describes being a twenty-something in his song appropriately titled "Twenty-Something." The song very adequately describes us.
What exactly am I "supposed" to be doing? Discovering myself, right? Discovering the world? Adding to the gross national product? Putting my hard earned degree to valuable use? Finding a spouse? There is a long, long list that society has for me--just as there was a long list as a high school and then college student and I'm sure there will be for being a thirty-something and a sixty-something. The thing is, I'm not really buying into that list anymore. Somehow the lists are missing truth. They are missing beauty. They miss the essence of what we were created for.
What were we created for? To know God, to love Him and to love people. Jesus said love your God and make disciples. He didn't demand of the Samaritan woman to marry the man she was living with. He didn't tell the healed cripple go get a job now that he could earn his keep. He didn't insist that the rich young man keep climbing the ladder in order to get even more to give to the poor. All he said to these people was give what you have. Thank God, love Him!
Life is about Jesus--knowing him, loving him, following him. That's it! Out of knowing, loving, and following, we make disciples and are ourselves transformed in the image of Christ. I just want Jesus. And as a twenty-something that leaves me just where we all should be--in the midst of a loving God!
Friday, September 09, 2005
I have now changed two diapers and rocked him to sleep once. I've changed lots of diapers over the years, but I had more fun changing those two than I know I ever have had before. It could be the diaper rash remedy my sister's pediatritian gave them--one part butt paste, one part Mylanta. Yes, that's right Mylanta. I don't know if it actually works, but in case any of you mom's out there want to give it a try...
So, Benjamin has my sister's nose and dimples (at least we think he has dimples, it's hard to tell yet) and the rest of him is all Jake. He has this great, little mad face when he gets upset that looks exactly like his father. He's also done a few things that remind me of my grandfather. My favorite thing is that when he smiles he kind of smirks like Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones. I'll post more pictures to Flickr when I get the chance. I'm sure I will take a lot over the next few days!
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Sad as it is, what am I doing right now? I'm watching Toy Story--yes, the 10th anniversary DVD came out today. I now own it, and am watching it. Can I just say that I am not old enough for Toy Story to have come out 10 years ago! I am way too young for things such as this to be having 10th anniversaries! Really, I was in college a minute ago, high school a minute before that, and junior high the minute before that. I was thirteen years old when PIXAR hit the big screen! Yes, that makes me only 23 now, but I need to have a "wow, I'm old moment!" I recognize that I am still quite young and naive and that I will have many of these moments over the coming years, but really, I need to express it right now.
Toy Story will always be one of my favorite movies. It's just a great flick with a great story line. Toy Story 2, also a great flick, is another favorite. I don't think I realized I was thirteen when it came out until I saw the advertisement for it and subtracted. (Good advice: If you like thinking that you have always been as young as you are now, never subtract!) Honestly, I don't remember much about being thirteen. I'm sure I had the same struggles and difficulties of any adolescent, and I'm sure that my parents were in charge of most major decisions for my life. My decisions included what clothes to put on in the morning and whether or not to do the responsible thing and make my bed.
Not so anymore! Now I have to choose to make my bed, what to wear, what to fix for dinner, what time to get up in the morning, to get up in the morning, what expenditures are important, what ones aren't, how to set up the monthly budget, etc., etc., etc. I kind of liked the simplicity of it all, but then I kind of like the complexity of it all now. At least I always get to pick which movie to watch! And tonight, it's Toy Story!
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Last night Emily and I went to a reading by Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz, at a Christian bookstore up in Vancouver. Blue Like Jazz has been producing a subtle undercurrent through Christian circles and some non-Christian circles. The book is not mainstream, religious-right, Christianity--and has received much flack for it--but the book has impacted me in ways that I cannot even begin to tell you. If you haven't picked it up yet, do. Even if you don't agree with Don and his impressions of Christianity and Jesus, it will impact how you see Jesus and give you a great understanding of Portland and the Northwest. (Don lives in Portland, and the culture of Portland is all over the pages of the book.) Not to mention, he's a fabulous writer!
It was an awesome evening! Don's amazingly down to earth, and it was almost like sitting down in his living room to have a fireside chat. He read excerts from his new book Through Painted Deserts, which journals his journey from Houston, TX (where he grew up) to Portland, OR--a tale which Emily and I could certainly identify with. As I sat and listened to Don last night, God continued to work in me the good work He is working in me. This is what God is currently teaching me:
It's all about Jesus! Nothing else matters. All of our religiousity, all of our 1, 2, 3 steps to absolute happiness or deeper faith or to the godly man of our dreams are fabricated elements of modern society's need to categorize and organize everything into neat, pretty packages. Jesus isn't a neat and pretty package! He gives us a hard call to pick up our cross! He's dangerous and bold! He doesn't fit in the boxes that we put Him in! I just want to believe Jesus! I just want to know that who I am is wrapped up in Him, and I want to share that with a few people along the way. I want people in my life who are making a disciple out of me, and I want people in my life to make disciples out of. I want to love the Lord, love my neighbor, and go make disciples. That's what Jesus asked me to do. That's what He asked all of us to do. I'm done with religion that gives me three major points and three major steps to having a greater whatever. All I need to have a greater whatever is Jesus. All I need is Jesus, and if He's not at the center of everything in my life, then what in the world am I doing it for!
As I look back at scripture, I don't see a complex, complicated Jesus. He was pretty straight forward with people. He didn't need to beat around the bush. He never said, here's three steps to not judging your neighbor--he just said don't judge. He never said if you follow these basic principles, you won't committ adultery--he just said don't do it. He spent a lot of time tearing down the rules, regulations, and legalities that the Pharisees had set up, and spent even more time just making it simple--the Sabbath was made for man, love the Lord, love your neighor, believe, believe, believe. Didn't Jesus say Himself that His yoke was easy and His burden was light? Why do we then have to make it heavy and complicated to get to Jesus? Why can't we just go to Jesus and be with Jesus?
I guess what I'm saying is that I just want a simpler faith. I don't have to understand the ends and outs of every scripture. I just have to believe the Word as true and seek for the words to be written on my heart. I don't have to understand why and how the Spirit is living in me. I just have to know that He is. Jesus made it simple for people to believe in Him--I want it to be that simple for me!
Praying for a simpler faith...
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
We are calling people to live a radically transformed life in an urban community. We are calling people to really heed the words "do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God." This isn't child's play--it isn't an easy call! We're calling people who will be radically obedient to the call of Christ--to make disciples of all nations! I want studs--I want those who will be extreme in following the call! This is a chance to create disciples--to create a generation who know how to love the people of our cities, who know how to be Christ there! This is a chance to bring the Kingdom of God to a community that is starving spiritually, emotionally, and phsyically!
This is more than a year-long internship with an urban mission church. This is more than giving up a year of your life to Christ. This is giving your life to Christ! This is saying "not my will but thine!"
I believe in the work that God is doing here! I am honored to be a part of it! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Amber recently posted a few poems about Christ that impacted me. Check them out, and be impacted, as well.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
1) You are the master and commander of your ship. You decide when and how to swab the deck, when to settle in for the night, when it's time to restock the food supply, etc.
2) You are also every hand on deck--could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you are. For those of you, my friends, who believe I have OCD, yes, it is a good thing for me.
3) Furniture is expensive. My books are getting very cozy on the floor of my office!
4) You are the DJ, the movie reel guy, and have full control of the remote.
5) You can choose to spend the night alone or you can choose to use that expensive cell phone you pay the bill for every month.
6) You can choose to go out every night, or you can choose to screen your calls, stay in, and pamper yourself.
7) When the neighbors are playing jazz music on the back porch, open all the windows, sit and enjoy!
8) Take joy in the little pleasures, ignore the little annoyances, and love the everyday joys!
That's the lessons I've learned thus far. I'm sure I'll be sharing more along the way!
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Tag was not one of my favorite childhood games; I was more of a Red Rover kind of gal! However, Kristi tagged me to share with you all my top ten music loves of the moment. Note this is just the moment because my tastes shift frequently! So here goes:
Bless the Broken Road, Rascal Flatts
Breathe, Lisa McClendon
Keep Singing, Mercy Me
Mighty is the Power of the Cross, Chris Tomlin
Much of You, Steven Curtis Chapman
Your Love is Extravagant, Casting Crowns
Someone to Watch Over Me, George and Ira Gershwin
Making Memories of Us, Keith Urban
Mud on the Tires, Brad Paisley
Disclaimer: These are in random order, and honestly, I cannot guarantee that these are the top ten. It could be a totally different list tomorrow! I would like to point out, however, that their are THREE country artists that made the list. Those of you who know me well know that is a BIG deal!
So I say all that to say: Ryan Porche, Amber Lehmann, Trevor Rose, Jackie Beth Shilcutt, and Katey Earles--YOU HAVE BEEN TAGGED!!! I am expecting to see some updates on music, and you must, therefore, tag five more people!
Friday, August 19, 2005
I first came to the idea of creating a personal mission statement through the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey, and through the encouragement of Ike, minister at PUMP. (Ike and I have been going through the book together, and I'm greatly enjoying it! I would highly recommend it if you haven't read it!) It takes a lot for me to sit down and introspect. (Though through the past year, God has given me plenty of opportunity to do just that!) I'm not one for really looking at myself and acknowledging how I'm doing. But writing out a mission statement, requires a lot of introspection. It requires knowing yourself and knowing yourself well. You have to come to an understanding of who you are, where you are, and where you are going in life. More importantly, you need to have a good grasp of who you are in the Lord. I'm not sure if I know any of those things well. In fact, I probably don't know the true answer to any of those questions. So, I suppose my effort to write this down, is one more effort to get to know myself, one more opportunity to define who I am and where I'm headed.
I can't doubt that my mission statement will always be in draft form, constantly needing to be altered as God grows me and I learn new life lessons. But its exciting to better understand my own paradigm and to better define how I want to live my life. My hope is that this mission will be how I live my life instead of just something I decided to write down one day. I want to live life with purpose and intent. I want to be an arrow streaming toward the bulls-eye instead of lollygagging down a path that leads to Nowheresville!
Lord, help me to live my life with purpose and direction that is wholly dependent on You!
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
I get to go meet Benjamin next month! So I'll be in Lubbock the 8th through the 13th. Can't wait to see the baby boy!
Monday, August 15, 2005
So life updates are as follows:
Emily Wallace, PUMP's first Micah Project intern has been in Portland for officially two weeks. I cannot believe that all the work put in over the past year is finally resulting in Emily being here! I am super excited about her being here and have been blessed in so many ways by her already. I look forward to all that God will teach Emily and I through each other in the next year. If you would like to know more about Emily--who she is, what all she is doing here, etc.--check out the link to her blog on the sidebar.
My sister's first child is due in five days! In five days, I will be an aunt! Can you believe it? Boy or a girl? We'll find out soon. I'm planning to be in Lubbock Sept. 8th through the 13th to meet my new neice/nephew.
As I mentioned at the first, I've moved! I am now living right next door to the church house. Increadibly convenient for work and church! My place is cute! It's a red brick quadruplex in which Emily and I both have an apartment. Two-bedrooms, new appliances in the kitchen, a nice mint green color on the walls (not my favorite shade of green, but it works). I'm using one of the rooms as an office space which is incredibly nice to have after officing out of our living room for a year. The place is nice and cozy and I'm settling in nicely!
Personal update: I'm continuing to grow and be challenged in this mad, mad world of Northeast Portland. I didn't think mission work was supposed to be this hard! Okay, so I was a wee bit naive, but I'm learning. I'm learning about how God loves me and how to love myself better. I'm learning how to love others and make choices that result in a proactive lifestyle. I'm learning, I'm growing, and I'm being stretched daily. Okay so there's a lot more to it than that, but Lord willing, as I set aside more time for blogging, you will see the truth of where I am in me and in my walk come out more.
So that's the wrap up! Blessings!
Sunday, April 10, 2005
We walked down narrow hallways with high ceilings towards Sister's apartment, tucked away in a corner behind the third floor stairwell. The rugs on the floor were so threadbare that you could literally see through them. Every floorboard creaked. The walls were yellowed with peeling paint. And it was impossible to breath through the thick cloud of smoke.
Sister seemed just as rundown as the building; however, the building was probably at least half a century old, Sister is only 23 years old. She has some learning disabilities and has had a long history of drug use. It soon became apparent as we sat with Sister why she had pulled on a heavy jacket on such a mild day as she answered the door. Her far off gaze suggested the recent drug use.
Did I come away from this situation with a heightened awareness of my own blessings? A heightened awareness of the lost around me? No what I learned was to break free of my comfort zones, my own desires--in this case my Sunday afternoon nap--to just love someone for a little while. I don't know if Sister will even remember me the next time we meet, but I know that today I showed the young mom Jesus' love and Sister Jesus' love.
Thursday, March 31, 2005
I am currently in Lubbock, TX. It was a trip that I wasn't so sure about. I didn't know if my journey here would be the best for Micah Project and PUMP. But God has proven again and again that I am right where I need to be. From the random girl who came up to me in the coffee shop after hearing me speak at LCU chapel--she may be a great intern possibility--to my meeting last night with the elders at Greenlawn church of Christ--completely an impromptu meeting--God has been in the business of orchestrating an awesome trip. The network connections that I will make during these two weeks--one in Lubbock and one in Abilene--will be a mighty work of God brining His church together to support and encourage each other.
The longer I am in the Northwest, I am realizing how important it is for Southern churches--the Bible Belt--to support Christians in the Northwest. The Northwest is the most unchurched region of the nation, and as I have gone through culture shock throughout the past several months, I have realized a lot of what that means. The people of the Northwest are lost--they are aimlessly wondering--they need to hear the Truth. The Harvest is truly great, but the workers are truly so few. Please pray for the Northwest, please pray for our community. Please pray for Portland. This city, this region, needs your prayers and your support!
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Sometimes I think life is like that, however. We want the happy ending or at least a good termination to the current happenings and goings-on. We want everything wrapped up in a nice neat package that we can film, edit, and deliver to the masses. But the truth is I often find myself at the end of some trial, adventure, or whatever saying "that's it?"....But that's not it. Were as my hopes for the ending of Spanglish and other such movies to be redeemed will not be fulfilled, my hopes for the ending of this week's trial, or last month's fast-paced goings on will be fulfilled. God has plans to redeem every moment of them. He has desire and plan to give our lives purpose and ultimately to fully redeem the plot of our lives in Heaven.
The Guy who "already knows all our needs, and will give us all we need from day to day if we live for Him and make the Kingdom of God our primary concern" (Matt. 6: 32-33) is the same God who encourages us daily to press on and not give up hope because He is waiting for us with open arms. Praise God that He truly will never leave us or forsake us!
Monday, January 10, 2005
Christmas: Red-eye home the night of the 22nd. Two delayed flights and a mad dash through DFW later, I was home for the holidays. Fabulous Christmas with friends and family! Good to see my Amber's (Amber S., her husband Josh and son Colton and Amber L. who's living in Boston these days)! Enjoyed my family and found out a secret that I will share with you soon, but for now it is not my secret to share :)
The 27th: Flying back to Portland that night. Oops! Maybe not. Flight delay causing me to miss my connecting. Stayed one more night in good ol' Lubbock.
The 28th: Home again after a six hr. lay-over at DFW. It was my own fault really, I chose to be bumped from one of my flights and take a free $300 travel voucher, and I got to fly first class from Orange County to Portland. (I was re-routed through Orange County.)
The 31st: Series of Unfortunate Events Awesome! Definitely worth seeing, and if you haven't read the books, do. Game night at the Tuckers'! Lot's of Fun!
The 1st: Football, movies, and calls to lots of friends and family.
Happy New Year everybody!