Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thoughts on a Rainy Day

Autumn is making its approach in Johannesburg. I love being in places where you can feel the seasons changing around you. Today is a fine rainy Saturday--just what a Saturday at the beginning of fall ought to be if at all possible.

So often the weather here reminds me of Portland. I enjoy feeling connected to that place even though it is so very far away.


A friend and I have been watching the BBC renditions of the Jane Austen classics of late.

It still amazes me just how well Miss Austen understood women. So well in fact that my South African friend, who grew up in a culture entirely different than my own and entirely different than Miss Austen's, can connect with her heroines in the same intimate and profound way that I find myself connecting with them.

I find that it speaks to the truth that deep in the heart of all women lie the same desires--the desire to be cherished and adored, the desire to be known and respected, the desire to be loved and to belong.


For those of you in the States, you might not know that the Cricket World Cup is currently taking place. Through the help of several teachers, I've come to have a general understanding of the game and find that I enjoy it quite a bit.

Following South Africa's hosting of the World Cup of Soccer and now enjoying watching the Cricket World Cup in India, I think it is a great pity that the US does not participate in more international competition and pays so little attention when we do.

The general goodwill that countries share with each other throughout these international games inspires a lot of hope for the state of the world, especially in light of the recent tragedy in Japan and the ongoing clashes in Libya. It's a pity that tragedy more often rallies the world under one banner.

I imagine that ESPN is not covering the cricket--at least not with much in depth coverage--but if you get the chance to watch a bit of a match do. Cricket is not as complicated as everyone believes. And while at it, say a cheer for the Proteas, South Africa's national team.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray.

I wish it didn't, but the Lenten season always sneaks up on me.

The prayer and contemplation that I would like to put in prior to the season typically manifests itself as an "O crap. It's Ash Wednesday" and a cursory review of things that are filling up where the Spirit should be.

In high school, it was typical to give up chocolate or caffeine. One year at university, I gave up email and instant messaging (this was before both were a common necessity for classwork). I've practiced fasting and turned the TV off. Given up secular music and committed to purchasing only necessities. And admittedly, my eyes where often not fixed on the goal during those seasons, but rather my on own personal appearance of holiness.

And of course, Lent is supposed to be about Jesus...

It is a time of reflection and refreshment through sacrifice. It is a time to remember the wondrous life of Christ, His death on the cross and His resurrection to new life.

Lent is a time when Jesus asks us to the garden to pray, saying, Pray that you will not fall into temptation and again, Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray (Luke 22:40,46).

If you don't typically commemorate Lent, I would recommend it to you. Take something away for a season or add in a new habit. Care for the orphan and the widow. Love your neighbors and seek first the kingdom. Render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing your eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of your faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Friday, March 04, 2011

Trying to Escape Through a Closed Window

A friend and I have been slowly working our way through Elizabeth George's A Woman Who Reflect's the Heart of Jesus: 30 Days to Christlike Character. For us, A Year to Christlike Character will probably turn out to be a more appropriate subtitle, but nonetheless, we are on the road.

This week we discussed having Christlike confidence.

Confidence is a valued attribute for most Americans. We are taught at an early age that confidence is a quality to be desired and that we advance in the world when we show confidence. We call it by many names--positive self-esteem or self-image, a go-get-it-ness, a pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality. We're known for exuding confidence.

But Christlike confidence isn't about confidence in oneself--it's about being confident in who He is, Who you belong too and who He created you to be. It's about knowing that the image of God is impressed upon your DNA--that He created your DNA. It also means showing a humility in your own abilities and recognizing that it is His abilities that matter.

Christlike confidence is contrary to the world's notion of confidence. Its about humility and meekness, gentleness and trust. Quite honestly, it's a lot less to do with me and a lot more to do with Him.


A moment ago, a bird flew in through the open window and found himself with the profound dilemma of being in an enclosed space and too frightened to find its way out again. Searching for a solution, he flew to a window, where he fiercely pecked away at the glass trying to escape. The chosen point of exit was the middle pane of a three paned window. Both panes to the left and the right stood open with no barrier to escape.

Frightened and furious, he continued to peck away at the middle pane for a few minutes before I took a magazine and gently guided him to the better escape portal.

I imagine that I am probably often caught in the same circumstances. Too frustrated, too angry, too caught-up in my own actions to see the open window just next to me.


Here's some things that I have been enjoying a lot lately:

          Getting back into the habit or running.
          Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
          My Amazon Kindle
          Hummus and the many varieties thereof
          The life and vivacity of Joburg
          Skype and its window home
          Writing again
          Breaking in my new pair of flip-flops
          Rediscovering my iPod
          Quiet interrupted by laughter

Small things that bring me small joys.