Friday, December 24, 2010

Who is this blue-cold child...

I read Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear it Away last winter, and I thought this section, in particular, was beautiful prose. I also thought it would be appropriate for Christmas, so I didn't blog about it right away. Here it is.

Context: Rayber, the agnostic schoolteacher has found himself taking care of his nephew Tarwater, who had been raised in the wilderness by his self-proclaimed prophet Grandfather. One day Tarwater gets a chance to go out and explore his new urban surroundings and is, as could be expected, drawn to a revival meeting. Rayber secretly follows Tarwater and is incensed to find that headlining the revival meeting is a small child.

"Listen you people," she said and flung her arms wide, "God told the world He was going to send it a king and the world waited. The world thought, a golden fleece will do for His bed. Silver and gold and peacock tails, a thousand suns in a peacock's tail will do for His sash. His mother will ride on a four-horned white beast and use the sunset for a cape. She'll trail it behind her over the ground and let the world pull it to pieces, a new one every evening."

To Rayber she was like one of those birds blinded to make it sing more sweetly. Her voice had the tone of a glass bell. His pity encompassed all exploited children - himself when he was a child. Tarwater exploited by the old man, this child exploited by parents, Bishop exploited by the very fact he was alive.

"The world said, 'How long, Lord, do we have to wait for this?' And the Lord said, 'My Word is coming, my Word is coming from the house of David, the king.' " She paused and turned her head to the side, away from the fierce light. Her dark gaze moved slowly until it rested on Rayber's head in the window. He stared back at her. Her eyes remained on him for a moment. A deep shock went through him. He was certain that the child had looked directly into his heart and seen his pity. He felt that some mysterious connection was established between them.

" 'My word is coming,' " she said, turning back to face the glare, ' " ' My Word is coming from the house of David, the king. ' "

She began again in a dirge-like tone. "Jesus came on cold straw. Jesus was warmed by the breath of an ox. 'Who is this?' the world said, 'who is this blue-cold child and this woman, plain as the winter? Is this the Word of God, this blue-cold child? Is this His will, this plain winter-woman?'

"Listen you people!" she cried, "the world knew in its heart, the same as you know in your hearts and I know in my heart. The world said, 'Love cuts like the cold wind and the will of God is plain as the winter. Where is the summer will of God? Where are the green seasons of God's will? Where is the spring and summer of God's will?'

"They had to flee into Egypt," she said in her low voice and turned her head again and this time her eyes moved directly to Rayber's face in the window and he knew they sought it. He felt himself caught up in her look, held there before the jugment seat of her eyes.

"You and I know," she said turning again, "what the world hoped then. The world hoped old Herod would slay the right child, the world hoped old Herod wouldn't wasted those children, but he wasted them. He didn't get the right one. Jesus grew up and raised the dead."

Rayber felt his spirit borne aloft. But not those dead! he cried, not the innocent children, not you, not me when I was a child, not Bishop, not Frank! and he had a vision of himself moving like an avenging angel through the world, gathering up all the children that the Lord, not Herod, had slain.

"Jesus grew up and raised the dead," she cried, "and the world shouted, 'Leave the dead lie. The dead are dead and can stay that way. What do we want with the dead alive?' Oh you people!" she shouted, "they nailed Him to a cross and run a spear through His side and then they said, 'Now we can have some peace, now we can ease our minds.' And they hadn't but only sasid it when they wanted Him to come again. Their eyes were opened and they saw the glory they had killed.

"Listen world," she cried, flinging up her arms so that the cape flew out behind her, "Jesus is coming again! The mountains are going to lie down like hounds and when He calls it, the sun is going to fall like a goose for his feast. Will you know the Lord Jesus then? The mountains will know Him and bound forward, the stars will light on His head, the sun will drop down at His feet, but will you know the Lord Jesus then?"

Rayber saw himself fleeing with the child to some enclosed garden where he would teacher he the truth, where he would gather all the exploited children of the world and let the sunshine flood their minds.

"If you don't know Him now, you won't know Him then. Listen to me, world, listen to this warning. The Holy Word is in my mouth!

"The Holy Word is in my mouth!" she cried and turned her eyes again on his face in the window. This time there was a lowered concentration in her gaze. He had drawn her attention entirely away from the congregation.

Come away with me! he silently implored, and I'll teach you the truth, I'll save you, beautiful child!

Her eyes still fixed on him, she cried, "I've seen the Lord in a tree of fire! The Word of God is a burning Word to burn you clean!" She was moving in his direction, the people in front of her forgotten. Rayber's heart began to race. He felt some miraculous communication between them. The child alone in the world was meant to understand him. "Burns the whole world, man and child," she cried, her eye on him, "none can escape." She stopped a little distance from the end of the stage and stood silent, her whole attention directed across the small room to his face on the ledge. Her eyes were large and dark and fierce. He felt the the space between them, their spirits had broken the bonds of age and ignorance and were mingling in some unheard of knowledge of each other. He was transfixed by the child's silence. Suddenly she raised her arm and pointed toward his face. "Listen you people," she shreiked, "I see a damned soul before my eye! I see a dead man Jesus hasn't raised. His head is in the window but his ear is deaf to the Holy Word!"

Rayber's head, as if it had been struck by an invisible bolt, dropped from the ledge. He crouched on the ground, his furiously spectacle eyes glittering behind the shrubbery. Inside she continued to shriek, "Are you deaf to the Lord's Word? The Word of God is a burning Word to burn you clean, burns man and chid, man and child the same, you people! Be saved in the Lord's fire or perish in your own! Be saved in..."

He was groping, fiercely about him, slapping at his coat pockets, his head his chest, not able to find the switch that would cut off the voice...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas ramblings- begin.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:7 is so understated.

Try reading it in context, pretending you've never read it before. You'll see.

God is funny.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nothing to Envy

I highly recommend this book. The author, Barbara Demick, after spending years interviewing North Korean defectors, weaves each of their stories into an informative and even spellbinding documentary.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

this holy tide of Christmas, all others doth deface

1st Grade today:

Teacher sings all the verses to "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen". (teacher is thinking in her head: this song is really old, why am I making 1st graders sing all these words they don't know?)

Teacher sings verse 1.

Students sing verse 1.

Teacher (Me): (writing on the board) Tidings = news.

Student who I thought wasn't listening: Oh I get it! I get it! I get the whole song! It's like 'Jesus is born! Jesus is born! Jesus is born'! (not sure why he waxed poetic right then)

Me: Yes, it's like, someone came and said, "Guess what I have good news! Jesus came!" And the angels were telling the shepherds the good news...

Student who I thought wasn't listening: It's like, I have good news, I have a new monster truck for you!

Student who is apparently right with me *says something about songs about Christmas

Me: Yes that news was so great that people were happy enough to write hundreds and thousands of songs about it! Was there ever any other news that made people THAT happy?!

Students who are usually right with me: no, no, there never was!

Student whose IQ is little too high for my taste: What if it was like... God sent a huge pinata down from heaven, and a really big angel hit the pinata and all these little angels came out and were singing...

So take that all you 'old song naysayers'. Today I prepared my kids for the Christmas program, SAT's, gave them some apologetics, brainstormed on a future pinata themed Christmas pageant, and the kids managed to be 100x more charming than if we had been playing some sort of age-appropriate singing game.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

facebook and friendliness

Apparently I haven't cleaned out inbox messages from 2007. I was a lot less jaded back then. Facebook was an exciting tool to get back in touch with old acquaintances and friends, and I shamelessly inboxed people to see how they were doing, strike up conversations, talk shop or talk church.

Now that stuff needs to happen in person or I feel like a creeper, or conversely, that I've somehow made an important friendship less sacred. I guess it's a combination of evolution of facebook; and me getting more socially intelligent and realizing that not everyone and their mom wants to hear from me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


So every year I write and put on a little show for "Grandparent's Day" at school. This year I themed it on the Pilgrims. I decided to feed my purist/history geek/reformed side and make the kids sing psalms, since that's what the Pilgrims sung. The result has been somewhat boring.

When I was younger singing those 400 year old psalm tunes in a congregational setting was an amazing aesthetic experience for me.

Now as a music educator and all-around sacred music proponent my search for that tune that will get others excited about singing psalms has not been very successful.

I'll be honest, I could do a lot more research. I misplaced the one psalter that I own, and I have always balked at buying a psalter because I just want the real deal like the Geneva Psalter or the Scottish Psalter. (Camera flashes back to me, begging a Philadelphia music pastor to borrow a psalter cause I know I have to pick out music for Grandparents Day. There goes THAT networking opportunity, now that he knows I'm a freak.)

But I know that however much I search, most of those psalm tunes are going to be very plain and not hugely marketable to my people.

I want someone to compile the old tunes (Scottish Psalter, Genevan Psalter) that are most sung today by psalm-singing congregations. I don't know why the OPC hymnal only has a few psalms. And it seems like publishers tend to publish a lot of untested compositions when they put out a new psalter or hymnal. Someone just tell me the good stuff, please.

Anyway here are some interesting websites I came across.

Here are all the tunes of the Genevan Psalter, recorded by this one guy. He is in my itunes now. I don't know how that helps except that one day, if I learn these by listening, when I own a Psalter and I'm having my devotions it will be easier meditate on the words as I sing them. I didn't take the time to listen to these before making the 'Grandparents Day' script.

And then I came across what Doug Wilson's church does. Apparently the guy there is composing new psalm tunes. My mom heard one of the videos in this article and said "so they went back to chant?" It's definitely not chant but I can see the parallels.

Anyway, I know as a musicologist I have much to learn (I'm describing the tunes as "simple, plain" when I should be saying "unmetered, syllabic" etc., and I don't know my psalter 'genealogies'). But I'm just throwing it out here, on my blog, that I'm interested in this stuff and I want to learn more.

Also I'm using this forum to say that I feel terribly bad for making my students practice psalm tunes all week and learn ALL the verses to 'Come Ye Thankful People Come.' November to January lesson plans are going to be ALL pagan singing games and folk dances.

Monday, September 27, 2010

the faith of a child

Luca, a first grader, composed a song on the bus. Some older girls sitting near him helped him with the rhyme scheme. He included a chunk of the Apostles Creed and has the makings of what could be a musical bridge.

I have a recording if you're interested. Not sure about I feel about putting students' stuff on my blog.

Margie, another first grader not to be outdone (or maybe just inspired), wanted to sing a song to me after class today

Her song also dealt with praise to God.

The sacred theme of their songs in contrast with almost the almost all secular curriculum I implement in music class (they sing one hymn per class and all their other sacred songs are learned in the regular classroom or chapel) reminded me of something my professor said this summer. My professor teaches in a Catholic university and found that her students most closely identified with choral music with sacred texts; because, she said, of their upbringing.

Luca and Margie, and even these college freshman, own something beautiful. They have a simple faith in God; not because they dialogued with proponents of every religion and then chose, not because they memorized books of the Bible, not because they read primary sources on canonicity; but because they believed what was told to them.

Is that kind of faith really beautiful? Aren't I supposed to give my children alternatives? To my way of thinking raising Christian kids does feel like a bit of brainwashing. But I can't ignore the fact that Jesus said 'Unless you have faith like a little child you cannot enter the kingdom of God.'

That kind of faith must be valid.

I have been accused of being sheltered from different worldviews and the otherwise nebulous 'world.' I suppose it could be conversely suggested that I have somewhat of a 'blind faith.' This accusation is not true, but I can only thank God that he accepted the faith in Him that I had when I was three, and ask him to continue to cultivate that faith that took seed back then.

'now say you're sorry!...'

Growing up Christian one often hears youth pastors and other teachers preach against 'going through the motions.'

I am here to preach for it.

Today I had a disagreement with a good friend. She texted me to say she was praying about the issue. I feel deeply that I am right. I don't want to pray about it; I just want her to stop putting me off by 'praying' and listen to my side of the story!

But guess what. Since she's praying, I have to pray too.

I don't want to, probably because she 'thought of it first.' But, I have to.

So, I prayed a prayer that I didn't feel. Lord, please show me the right way to act in this situation and change my heart if need be.

Only in my head it was more like (Becky grits her teeth) Lord... please... show... me... (grunt from exertion) how... to... act...


I will tell my children to apologize after a fight with their siblings, even if they aren't sorry.

I will pray with my children, even if they didn't think of it first.

I will pray that icky prayer again tonight...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

hack thoughts on Eastern religion, forgive me for any ignorance

God's and Christ's relationship to one another provide food for thought regarding another question that has been nagging in my mind.

This summer I experienced a measure of peace and acceptance. Suffice it to say that it was relief from self-doubt, regret, and judging. I feel that the teachings and proverbs that brought me there stemmed from *eastern religion.

I live in the moment. I don't look to the past for nostalgia or regret. I don't look forward to a 'better time.' I accept where I am in my journey in life and I don't constantly wish to be more knowledgeable. I accept others because I know they are on a journey as well.

I know the Bible tells us to 'forget what's behind'. But stating the negative version of 'live in the moment' has not always solved my problem. In this case Yoda says it better, to my way of seeing things.

So I bought a book on Zen. I read the first two pages and realized that trying out any of that stuff means to go all out. Try it. Do it. Is that how the children of Israel felt when they worshiped idols? They wanted to try something new?

Though I don't know much about eastern religion; my gut feeling is that it is a rejection of a personal God. I have a feeling that in a way, the proverb about 'living in the moment' stems from a philosophy that is antithetical to my own worldview.

This is why: relationship.

On my 21 hour drive home from Minnesota I heard a sermon about the latter part of John 1. The pastor, Brian, was talking about Christ's reaction when John the Baptist's disciples started randomly following him.

They wanted to be Jesus' disciples because John told them Christ was the Lamb. They didn't know how to say that to Christ. Christ said "Why are you following me?" They said, "um, can we come over?" Christ said "sure."

As Pastor Brian said, Christ didn't say: "You want to be a Christ-follower? Ok. Believe in these three things and you're an official member." Instead he said: "let's hang out."

Relationships. It would seem that the highest realization of an 'Eastern' religion would advocate an inward meditation, one that is devoid of relationship with another person.

Perhaps a mystical relationship is achieved? A contrast with Christianity which asks us to literally dip ourselves in water and to literally taste bread and wine.

Here's another thing though:

Relationships in the real world are messy. They hurt. On the positive side, they are often based on memories and not 'living in the moment.' "Remember that time that we..." or, "you have proved a faithful friend." Do I reject all that for a peaceful, sterile, 'living in the moment?' Maybe I will, if those relationships hurt enough.

I feel that there are friends in my life that are denying my a chance to explain myself. Whether it is purposeful or not, whether they are hurting like I am or not, the thought exists: that I want reconciliation.

And I am finding that conversely there are other friends who I am not granting reconciliation to. But it's incredibly complicated. Even as a firm believer in communication, I don't know if we can fix the problem.

Relationships involve deep hurt and deep happiness.

All this is an allegory.

God offered us friendship. We blew it. He offered us reconciliation. Hence sin, evil, and unhappiness. Hence joy, peace, and gladness.

Here's to relationship.

*Disclaimer: I hope that my catch-all term 'eastern-religion' is not offensive to anyone. Perhaps there is a better term for specifically all the various forms of Buddhism and descendants of Hinduism? In this area I call upon the spirit of Bono "what you don't know you can feel it somehow" which is sort of my 'mantra' (haha mantra, get it?) this year.

I acknowledge that while any prominent religion is much more complex and well-reasoned than its opponents allow, and I have not studied in depth these religions, I do have a good measure of awareness of basic tenants of east-originated religions.

Finally, although the paradigm that has governed Christianity for the past 600-1000 years has been nicknamed 'western'; I am looking forward to discovering the 'eastern' in Jesus' teachings.

The Pleasures of God, or, a 'God-centered' post in which John 17 makes it all about us again, or, a post in which I compare God's glory to pizza

The other day in Bible class I asked the girls: "Why did God create the world?" A couple of girls suggested that it could have been because God was bored or perhaps lonely. A rebuttal to those charges (of God being bored or lonely) came immediately to my mind.

The vast amount of material in the Bible regarding God's satisfaction with Christ, and Christ's glory that he possessed even before the world began, prove that God is self-sufficient. Or as perhaps John Piper would say: God is happy without us. A human being may need to share experiences with others; but God is content with himself.

Here is an example of God's satisfaction with himself. Christ prays for us in John 17. Christ wants us to have something: a certain 'glory.'

My brother may say to me, "I had some great pizza at the corner store. I want you to have it." He wouldn't say to me: "I want you to try this pizza I had the other day. It had no taste and I will probably never buy it again." No, he wants me to have the pizza because it is good pizza. He wants to share it with me because it is something good.

1. The glory that Christ wanted us to have must have been something good, or he wouldn't have wanted to share it with us.

2. That 'something good' was something that Christ had with God.

3. That 'something good' was going on without us.

Later in John 17 Christ is still referring to something that he and God had, before we existed.

The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.
... that they all may be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given to me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one...

Father I desire that they also... may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

So what I'm getting at is...

Christ and God were pretty happy without us. (sorry those of you finding this out for the first time. I remember the first blow to my spiritual self-centeredness: my first reading of Revelation 4:11)

But Christ wants us to share that happiness.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

more relationship

Didn't our hearts burn within us, as he explained the scriptures to us on the road?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Summer Reading: Anna Karenina Part 1

***Spoiler Alert. I highly recommend this book, so don't read this post if you think you might try Tolstoy:)

Just the other night a hometown football game/My wife and I ran into my old high school flame...

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers...

How many times have you heard a friend say about an old boyfriend/girlfriend, "I'm so glad I got out of that, because now I see what [that person] really was."

Did you ever wonder whether the changed perspective was really based on truth, or was it based on self-preservation?

The idea of (1) mental self-preservation techniques, and (2) limited and/or shifting perspectives due to pride, lust, love, or any other human basic need continually crops up to me as I read Anna Karenina.

First, a newfound religious zeal becomes the salve, or maybe even the lifeboat, to Alexey Alexandrovitch's injured pride.

Alexey Alexandrovitch did not merely fail to observe his hopeless position in the official world, he was not merely free from anxiety on this head, he was positively more satisfied than ever with his own activity.

"He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married careth for the things of the world, how he may please his wife," says the Apostle Paul, and Alexey Alexandrovitch who was now guided in every action by Scripture, often recalled this text. It seemed to him that ever since he had been left without a wife, he had in these very projects of reform been serving the Lord more zealously than before.

And then a small scene in the middle of the book, that so far seems to me to be superfluous to the main plot, shows on a very small scale the violent changes that can happen to our mood, perspective, and candor with new acquaintances. Violent changes that can happen, and yet, like a sort of pin-wheel, still allow our pride to remain intact.

Vronsky and Anna, but especially Vronsky, are mentally thrashing about trying to find meaning in their newly isolated, carefree lives. Vronsky has taken up painting, and hears about another Russian painter in the Italian town where Vronsky and Anna are vacationing. Vronsky feels that it is his duty to support this painter, Mihailov; and Tolstoy gives us a peek into this obscure character's brain:

For the few seconds during which the visitors were gazing at the picture in silence Mihailov too gazed at it with the indifferent eye of an outsider. For those few seconds he was sure in anticipation that a higher, juster criticism would be uttered by them, by those very visitors whom he had been so despising a moment before. He forgot all he had thought about his picture before during the three years he had been painting it; he forgot all its qualities which had been absolutely certain to him - he saw the picture with their indifferent, new, outside eyes, and saw nothing good in it.

Like I said, violent shifts in perspective. Sometimes we encounter another creature of our own kind, another being created in God's image, and those people become the world to us. But thankfully for this guy, his pride comes back. Golenishtchev, Vronsky's friend, breaks the silence after everyone has been uncomfortably looking at Mihailov's most important painting and says a random, positive comment.

All Mihailov's mobile face beamed at once; his eyes sparkled. He tried to say something, but he could not speak for excitement, and pretended to be coughing. Low as was his opinion of Golenishtchev's capacity for understanding art, trifling as was the true remark upon the fidelity of the expression of Pilate as an official, and offensive as might have seemed the utterance of so unimportant an observation while nothing was said of more serious points, Mihailov was in an ecstasy of delight at this observation. He had himself thought about Pilate's figure just what Golenshitchev said. The fact that this reflection was but one of millions of reflections, which as Mihailov knew for certain would be true, did not diminish for him the significance of Golenishtchev's remark. (emphasis mine)

And there, in micro, I believe is what Tolstoy conveys in many other major characters and plots, that we will use any tool available to justify our decisions, or our circumstances, or just ourselves.

I guess God has given us these instincts to protect us. I guess. I think we are all thankful that love is blind. I consider Levin and Kitty (although I haven't finished the book and can't be sure that they are an appropriately happy blog post ending.)

Example 1. In the beginning of the book Levin comes to Moscow and finds Kitty at the skating rink. To him it seems that wherever she skates or wherever she finds to sit down and rest, the entire crowd is focused and aware of her. And she brings light and gladness to it all.

Example 2. Levin, once feeling that he has been denied any opportunity of marrying Kitty, finds peace in his life calling of farming; (self-preservation) only to have the peace shattered by one split second glimpse of Kitty. (violent changes)

Example 3. And Levin, after being married, and experiencing the exponentially more shifting perspectives of being one flesh with another human being, is able to think outside of himself.

In attending the elections, too, and taking part in them, he tried now not to judge, not to fall foul of them, but to comprehend as fully as he could the question which was so earnestly and ardently absorbing honest and excellent men whom he respected. Since his marriage there had been revealed to Levin so many new and serious aspects of life that had previously, through his frivolous attitude to them, seemed of no importance, that in the question of the elections too he assumed and tried to find some serious significance. (emphasis mine)

Oh Tolstoy, what does this all mean for me, and for epistemology? Will I someday marry a redhead, because he showed me attention, and say that all along I really DID find redheads attractive? Will I look at a Catholic friend's from-childhood guilt, only to quickly place it into an apologetic-for-Protestantism's grid?

I'm not sure, but I think Anna has thus far been exempt from any of this self-convincing thought monologue from Tolstoy's pen. And we all know what happens to her. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

the relationship

Verses I'm meditating on this week:

The next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them "What are you seeking?". And they said to him "Rabbi" (which means teacher) "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come, and you will see."

John 1

I just heard a sermon on this passage; and the pastor constructed a paraphrase similar to this:

Jesus saw that two guys were following him and he said "what do you want?" They didn't know what to say... so they just said (and we've all had neighbor kids like this) "uhhhh... can we come over?" Jesus said: "sure, come over."

Christianity offers us a relationship.

And then a memorable moment in one of Jesus' earthly relationships:

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve: Do you want to go away as well? Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,"

Christianity offers us a relationship plus eternal life. Pretty hard to pass up...

accepting myself... probably due to some amazing professors i had this summer

I have hereby accepted myself. I don't feel bad that I don't have the desire or time to listen to independent music, and that I never discover music on my own. I am content with my historical studies in classical music, classic rock, and some pop; and I think I'm pretty darn cool for what I do know. The end.

Incidentally, any music recommendations?

Monday, August 30, 2010

my new favorite song and why I am like a puppy dog

So, a couple of my classmates were talking about their Myers-Briggs profiles this summer, and I took a test. Apparently I am slightly extroverted (which explains a lot and gives me an excuse for my excessive talking and facebook-status-updating); but several of my friends were introverted. In this article: 'Caring for Your Introvert', a rather non-flattering view was given of extroverts:

Extroverts are easy to understand, because extroverts spend so much of their time working out who they are in voluable, and frequently inescapable, interaction with other people. They are as inscrutable as puppy dogs....

(Extroverts don't understand introverts as well as introverts understand extroverts, because introverts keep it to themselves.)

Ok so sometimes I actually do feel like a puppy dog. Again, it is not flattering to think of myself as tirelessly yapping on and on while my introverted friends listen. But the lack of mystery is only one of my shared puppy dog characteristics.

I am like a puppy dog because I feel like everybody should like me. I remember being in college, and meeting a girl in my speech class that had so much in common with me, but who shut herself off to me. And I didn't know why. Was it how I dressed, or how I acted? I don't know.

I also feel like everybody will like me in the future. Do you have a disagreement with me? Well, if we talk it over extensively, we will agree in the end. Or we will become friends again after I ask forgiveness for something.

But I have to learn that I can't come up to just anyone and 'wag my tail' and be 'man/woman's best friend.' There are some people that I won't understand why they are closed to me, or I will understand and I will be sad, because it is sin that I or they won't get rid of.

All this to say, that maybe in this life I won't be able to connect in the way I want to with all the Christians that I love and minister to. And Rich Mullins has a song about that.

Though we're strangers still I love you,
I love you more than the mask...

And Rich goes on to talk about the 'mystic sweet communion' held by believers.

I love Christians.

Disclaimer for this blog: I do listen to other music besides Rich. I just have bad luck w/ Indie music, popular music is all about love and sex and stuff which I have nothing intelligent to say about, and Christian music, well, ok. I gave Christian radio a chance this summer and it was pretty edifying to hear praise to God on my commute. But the only lyric I remember is "I'm not cool but that's ok, my God loves me anyway." As much as that speaks to me personally...
Oh, and "God bless the broken road..." in which I cried one day; but it must have been for an unrelated reason because I'm single and my "broken road" hasn't led me straight to "you" yet.

Back to Rich. Here is my new favorite song.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Leaving the Twin Cities

I'm going to get out some random journaling here, and maybe then I will be able to focus on my assignments.

Here are just a few recent summer discoveries sans music, grad school, or spiritual journey.

I love the treadmill.

I might, just might, have a flair for decorating. My friend Caroline took me to IKEA with her to pick out curtains, and I was just going along for the ride. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I was asking her a million questions about her living room and creating different color schemes and talking about accent colors showing up in pottery. It was an experience that I will never forget. So far Caroline likes what we picked out but we will see.

Parks are cool. The twin cities have a lot of them, and I am sad to leave soon without having visited more of them.

Lakes are cool. The twin cities have a lot of them... etc. Last night some friends of my cousin took me sightseeing. Apparently there are four lakes in the actual city of Minneapolis. One of them had sailboats on it; the scene was beautiful. And there are biking and walking/jogging trails all around. This discovery on top of the fact that I've already had an incredibly beautiful experience visiting Lake Superior and sitting on a dock stargazing at Caroline's uncle's lake.

I love the treadmill. Somewhat contradictory to the 'parks are cool' statement, but that's why I'm kinda sad to leave. I want more chance to explore now that I'm a little more in shape thanks in part to, yes, the treadmill.

I am an ENFP. Never took the Myers-Briggs until my classmates were talking about it last week. The E is my excuse for even writing this dumb blog post.

I love my family. This is not really a discovery but it is the one good side to leaving the twin cities. I'm going on a mini vacation with my brothers, sisters-in-laws, and hopefully mom and sisters next week.

The 'Kardashians' are NOT cool. This is the one down side to the treadmill at my gym: E Entertainment. Why do we program celebrities acting hopelessly immature, and expect people to live nicely together? However:

I love the treadmill. The end.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

three firsts

Just got back from being locked in at Caribou Coffee during my first tornado warning. We probably should have gone into the bathrooms or back kitchen, but there were kids running the place and we weren't sure what to do. The whole place was windows too, so you can consider me to have had a brush with death tonight.

That "first" reminded me of another first this week - singing Palestrina. Well it was my first singing of Palestrina besides my Protestant The Strife is O'er, at least. I love that I am in a choral concentration right now. facebook heart.

My final first: watching Jersey Shore. Being in the Twin Cities I get asked about that show pretty much every other day. So tonight I bit the bullet and hulu'd it. I have nothing deep or thought-provoking to say about that show at this time. My fault of course.

(Side note: These days I can't feel hot if someone starts flirting w/ me on my commute - it's just that they saw my license plates and are hoping to see Jenni "J-wow" or Nicole "Snookie." Sorry guys, I'm old, blonde, and very, very white.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

oooh oooh teacher teacher I know!!!

[I read a short story, A Gentle Spirit, by Dostoyevsky, the other night. It depressed the hey out of me. It was unrequited love at its worst. To try to assuage my grief and disappointment I am going to post a favorite Dostoyevsky quote.]

This sort of character is met with pretty frequently in a certain class. They are the sort of people who know everyone - that is, they know where a man is employed, what his salary is, whom he knows, whom he married, what money his wife had, who are his cousins, second cousins, etc. etc. These men generally have a hundred pounds a year to live on, and they spend their whole time and talents in the amassing of this style of knowledge, which they reduce - or raise - to the standard of science.

-The Idiot, when Prince Myshkin was on a train inquiring of a seat-mate about his hometown. You probably have to read the whole character sketch of the clerk to get a kick out of it like I did.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It [still] takes one to know one. Don't know why that cliche matches all my posts.

Best advice I've heard recently: If you can understand someone, you are one step closer to being like that person.

My boss said that to me and I had never thought of it that way before.

He meant this in the negative sense. Sorry.

Basically, if someone is doing something that bothers me, makes me feel uncomfortable, or is just plain wrong, and I don't understand why they do it, I should put my inborn curiosity to rest and put the situation out of my mind.

I do have curiosity. A lot. My cousin Janet says that I am always ready to see others' viewpoints. That has a huge downside. If I don't understand the 'why' behind someone's sin, I am completely unwilling to call it 'sin'. Its the old 'I have never been in those person's shoes, so how could I judge them?' situation. I gotta know the why. (It's worse when you really respect someone so the questions are even more pressing.) But (I guess thankfully) God has not given us the keys inside each others' psyches.

What he has given us is his Word, with specific instructions on how to live. I can read the Bible and not have to compare myself with others. I can use the Bible to help others who have a different personality than my own. (I can use the Bible to learn how to write without so much parallel structure. Or maybe that's where I get it.) But the Word of God is sufficient for the stuff I need to know...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Hard sayings

Last night someone preached on Revelation. And this was the conversation going on in my head.

Me: I believe the Bible.

Unbelieving Friend who loves and accepts everyone but finds my beliefs a little silly: What about Revelation? Scorpions, really? So many different plagues poured out at once that I will be trying to commit suicide?... Pretty sure God's not like that.

Me: (who is not very good on my feet, even in imaginary conversations) um...

It feels good to be the Christian who teaches that we are to love everybody, pray for everyone... you know, the Deitrich Bonhoeffer quoting Christian who says that we are to give up our lives for each other. It's easy to say those things, at least.

But its not easy to say that I believe in Revelation. Revelation is hard to believe.

One Buddhist-ish acquaintance told me that he read the whole Bible and liked it but Revelation was 'like bad acid trip.' Believing in Revelation is a little embarrassing, to be honest.

Then almost like clockwork God gives me the story about 'hard sayings' this morning in John 6. I say like clockwork because I've been given this answer before.

So I'm reading John 6, where Jesus says he is the bread of life. And as I was reading Christ's words were basically striking me like this: 'you have to decide whether I am the Christ or not. I came from the Father, and this is what the Father wants you to do. Believe me. Believe that I am the Christ. Believe my words.'

Now to me that sounds hard - make a decision now. Is this man Jesus false or true? But the next part is infinitely harder and easier all at once.

'Just kidding, you don't have to decide. If God wills it, and if you love God, you will automatically know that I am from God.'

That statement is, in a sense easier, because it removes a responsibility to somehow research Christ's claims and make a decision based on our intellect. It is not easier because it asks our sinful minds to accept God's sovereign choice. Christ's words are still hard; hard to understand and hard to swallow.

So disciples, I am right there with ya when you say to Jesus after that: 'This is a hard saying, who can listen to it?'

Then my answer for today came. Some left because Jesus' sayings were so hard. And Jesus said to his disciples 'are you going to go away too?' And Peter said: 'There's no place else to go, you are the one who has eternal life. And we have believed, and have come to know (I like that because it denotes that there is another level of knowledge far superior to the initial belief) that you are the Holy One of God.'

Why do we stick with Jesus? Because the story of redemption is a cute story? Definitely not. We are Christians because the story of redemption is a true story. We are Christians because we need eternal life, and Jesus has it.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Christ's humbling and loneliness for others' guilt

I hardly ever do singspirations with hymnals in school because kids don't know that many hymns. I was tired and a struggling with sickness yesterday and decided to give it a try. Some joker picked this song because they thought it was about an olive. (If you grew up Christian you know the drill.) But God knew I needed this focus. Thinking of Christ's humility made me want to go out and kiss the first homeless person I saw. Ok I know that's weird and doesn't go with the song. Whatever.

'Tis midnight and on olive's brow
The star is dimmed that lately shown
'Tis midnight in the garden now
The suffering Savior prays alone.

'Tis midnight and from all removed
Emmanuel wrestles lone with fears
E'en the disciple whom he loved
Heeds not his Master's grief and tears.

'Tis midnight and for others' guilt
The Man of Sorrows weeps in blood;
Yet he who hath in anguish knelt
Is not forsaken by his God.

'Tis midnight and from ether plains
Is borne the song that angels know;
Unheard by mortals are the strains
That sweetly soothe the Savior's woe.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Takes one to know one.

I've been thinking about pride a lot this week, mostly because I am dealing with an issue in my heart that stems from pride. I was trying to explain some of my thoughts to my sister, but I couldn't, and all the while i was thinking: if C.S. Lewis was here he would know what I was talking about. So, I return to the pride chapter of Mere Christianity: I read it in high school but still remember it.

...Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.

Does this seem to you exaggerated? If so, think it over. I pointed out a moment ago that the more pride one had, the more one disliked pride in others.

Ouch. I am so good at spotting proud people.

In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, 'How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronize me, or show off? The point is that each person's pride is in competition with everyone else's pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that pride is essentially competitive - is competitive by its very nature - while the other vices are competitive, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. That is why I say that pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not. The sexual impulse may drive two men into competition if they both want the same girl. But that is only by accident; they might just as likely have wanted two different girls. But a proud man will take your girl from you, not because he wants her, but just to prove that he is better than you. Greed may drive men into competition if there is not enough to go round; but the proud man, even when he has got more than he could possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power.

I am at my core competitive. I want to be better than other people. And that's disgusting. I hate myself for that. How can I fix the problem? Read the rest of the chapter, and the Bible, to find out. But here is a taste:

...He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble - delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life.

To get even near [humility], even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Must-read lyrics

Some sick kind of music snobbery makes me avoid compound meter hymns like the plague. Why do I think 17th and 18th century Christians are cooler than other Christians? This 6/8 hymn, which we sung Sunday night, blew me out of the water. I like how it incorporates Biblical narrative, which is not necessarily common except in kid's Sunday School songs.

O how sweet the glorious message
simple faith may claim;
Yesterday, today, forever,
Jesus is the same!
Still he loves to save the sinful,
heal the sick and lame,
cheer the mourner, calm the tempest -
Glory to his name!

Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same; All may change but Jesus never - Glory to His name, Glory to His name, Glory to His name; All may change but Jesus never - Glory to His name!

He who pardoned erring Peter
Never need'st thou fear
He who came to faithless Thomas
All thy doubt will clear;
He who let the loved disciple On His bosom rest
Bids the still, with love as tender,
Lean upon His breast.

Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same; All may change but Jesus never - Glory to His name, Glory to His name, Glory to His name; All may change but Jesus never - Glory to His name!

He who 'mid the raging billows
walked upon the sea
Still can hush our wildest tempest
as on Galilee;
He who wept and prayed in anguish
in Gethsemene
Drinks with us each cup of trembling,
in our agony.

Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same; All may change but Jesus never - Glory to His name, Glory to His name, Glory to His name; All may change but Jesus never - Glory to His name!

As of old He walked to Emmaus,
with them to abide,
So thru all life's way He walketh,
ever near our side;
Soon again shall we behold Him,
Hasten, Lord, the day!
But 'twill still be "this same Jesus"
as He went away.

Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same; All may change but Jesus never - Glory to His name, Glory to His name, Glory to His name; All may change but Jesus never - Glory to His name!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

This is my town na na naa naa na

Tonight I holed up in the Dunkin Donuts next to my church, trying to get some schoolwork done while waiting for my children's ministry bus route.

An old guy blew in and ordered a coffee w/ cream and two sugars (I think it was - I am not a good storyteller because I am a little obsessive compulsive about honesty and details) Whatever it was he ordered, he was very commanding as he called his order over to the worker who was at the drive-thru window. Then before I knew what was happening he was over at my table getting me to key in a pin number for his track phone. He had been having trouble because usually his kids did it for him. He has eight kids, living as far away as Seattle and as close as North Jersey.

Joe, as I found his name out later, had a youngest son who was trying to move back in with him. Joe wouldn't let him because he had already overused Joe's credit card.

Joe showed me a picture of a ten-year old granddaughter. This granddaughter has brain damage from shaken baby syndrome, and Joe will never know if it was from his own daughter or from a foster family. Joe got to take care of the granddaughter for a period of time, and he still remembers sleeping with her on his chest. She woke up at the same time every night and laughed, and now he knows it was because his chest hairs were tickling her. He said he really missed her. She is with her real father right now, and Joe trusts him.

Joe referred several times to starting a business. Something about he was bored so he started another business. He is moving to Egg Harbor from Atlantic City because Egg Harbor is quieter. I told him I was born and raised here, and I went to church "over there." Joe is going to visit church on Sunday.

I sat there listening, and I loved listening. This guy was from a totally different world than I. I'm not saying that there's anything exotic about a rambling old guy from Pacific Avenue; but you still have to admit his world was different. Whereas my friends and associates work with foster agencies; this man's daughter went to the hospital to deliver, completely intoxicated. I'm young, he's old; I live in the country and he lives in the city. So I like the exposure. We are different yet we both are created in God's image, and we both have eternity to deal with. I was listening, wondering if we could get a chance to talk about eternity, but all of a sudden he was thanking me for listening and going to finish his laundry. And he was gone quickly, but not before he promised again to show up at church.

I wish I could meet someone new every day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Little Spurgeon, or Unbelief, Part 1

How long will it be ere they believe me?
-Numbers 14:11

Strive with all diligence to keep out that monster unbelief. It so dishonours Christ, that He will withdraw His visible presence if we insult Him by indulging it. It is true it is a weed, the seeds of which we can never entirely extract from the soil, but we must aim at its root with zeal and perseverance. Among hateful things it is the most to be abhorred. Its injurious nature is so venomous that he that exerciseth it and he upon whom it is exercised are both hurt thereby. In thy case, O believer! it is most wicked, for the mercies of thy Lord in the past, increase thy guilt in doubting Him now. When thou dost distrust the Lord Jesus, He may well cry out, "Behold I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves." This is crowning His head with thorns of the sharpest kind. It is very cruel for a well-beloved wife to mistrust a kind and faithful husband. The sin is needless, foolish, and unwarranted. Jesus has never given the slightest ground for suspicion, and it is hard to be doubted by those to whom our conduct is uniformly affectionate and true. Jesus is the Son of the Highest, and has unbounded wealth; it is shameful to doubt Omnipotence and distrust with all-sufficiency. The cattle on a thousand hills will suffice for our hungry feeding, and the granaries of heaven are not likely to be emptied by our eating. If Christ were only a cistern, we might soon exhaust His fulness, but who can drain a fountain? Myriads of spirits have drawn their supplies from Him, and not one of them has murmured at the scantiness of His resources. Away, then, with this lying traitor unbelief, for his only errand is to cut the bonds of communion and make us mourn an absent Saviour. Bunyan tells us that unbelief has "as many lives as a cat:" if so, let us kill one life now, and continue the work till the whole nine are gone. Down with thee, thou traitor, my heart abhors thee.

Morning and Evening, Spurgeon

Saturday, April 10, 2010

temper tantrum

We used to say it when we were kids, and someone was having a temper tantrum: "you can't always get what you want..."

In my adult life, once in a while when I have to work with a particularly difficult person, I have this incongruous, very cheesy fantasy that I just start rocking out and singing to the person "you can't, always get, what you want, but if you try sometimes...." (incongruous because that song was probably not about temper tantrums.)

Today I realized that I've been throwing a temper tantrum with God. I have been moping around because I didn't get what I wanted, and I'm not willing to move on. I have to realize I can't always get what I want. Momentarily I'm amusing myself by listening to Mick Jagger. Later I am going to have to deal with God on this, and it will probably have something to do with a cliché story about taking away a kid's mud pies that he really really loved and giving him ice cream he didn't realize he wanted but really liked in the end.

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Usefulness and Intercessory Prayer

When I was little my dad would take me to our family-owned garage and my aunt would give me office jobs to do. My tasks consisted of stamping new invoices with our garage name and assembling promotional key chains. I felt very important and needed.

One day my mom and I were planning out our day, and I called my aunt to see if she 'needed' me in the office. My memory is very faint, but I know that somehow from our conversation I learned that having assembled key chains on hand was not a top priority in the office. I'm pretty sure I cried. I was not needed.

I think those feelings I had shows a basic human need: the need to feel useful.

In light of that need, God has given us an incredible gift. In addition to saving us from our sins, he has created us in Christ Jesus for doing good works. God has planned out work for me to do. God is giving me the resources I need to do that work. God is going to use me.

I realized this gift after seeing some prayers that Paul prayed for his friends. They are prayers that I know others are praying for me, and that I want to pray for my loved ones.

...we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be... bearing fruit in every good work... Colossians 1:9,10

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, II Thessalonians 1:10

I like that second verse because I resolve to do many a good work that I'm not quite sure will get done...

I searched the words 'every good work', and these two beautiful blessings came up. I guess they are prayers, I'm not quite sure what a blessing is...

This first one is incredibly personal, like this good work thing is going to be between me and Jesus:

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. II Thessalonians 2:13

This second one was a favorite verse in high school, after I discovered (I'm not being facetious here) Revelation 4:11 and that we were created for the express purpose of pleasing God.

Now may the God of peace... equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

Thank you for giving me good works, Lord.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Blue like Jazz

I KNEW that Donald Miller and I were soul-mates. Check out his recent post on sleep, and my recent post on sleep, written within two days of each other. Furthermore, he just gave up gluten to reduce cravings. Gluten gives me cravings too! It is a match made in heaven.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

it's been a good month

1. Tonight I went to the Egg Harbor City Public Library. I saw the mom of one of my church bus kids. I want to be in Egg Harbor as much as possible so that my heart is with the church bus route I do. And so that I can establish rapport and hopefully friendships.

2. I have started following Justin Taylor and several other related pastor blogs again. I seriously love everything that they write. It's like they know what I'm thinking. (I mean, Chesterton on fairy tales, Hazlitt on Obamacare, St. Patrick on St. Patrick?!?!)

I recently decided that my somewhat unfeminine interest in all things ecclesiastical is going to have to be kept to myself. I mean, what single lady should pull up a chair to a church planting brainstorming session in Starbucks? Maybe reading these blogs is a way to vicariously be involved in these types of discussions. Lame, I know, but I gotta be me.

3. I love my life. I am a musician for my school's spring musical, which means I get to practice piano a lot and learn, from a student who knows, how to use a synth properly in that setting. No creating or managing on this project; just collaborating with great high school students and one amazing teaching colleague.

4. My parents, despite the one hundred and one million ways they exposed me to culture, must have hated musical theater. I am 27 and tonight was the first time I saw Annie.

5. Obviously my Lenten lack of Facebook is finally surfacing in an anemic need to express myself in non-creative ways like I am doing here. Oh, I can tell you what I am doing right now. I am very good at that.

6. I should be finishing my personal statement and studying German pronunciation for girls choir tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

virtual choir

I usually don't play my favorite choir music for my music appreciation classes. I know that seems contradictory; I guess it's just some type of weird defense mechanism. But in this most recent brain child of Eric Whitacre, the fusion of technology plus great music kept my seventh and eighth grade riveted. Ok, most of them were riveted.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

There is nothing new in Christ's church

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there a thing of which it is said,
"See, this is new?"
It has been already,
in the ages before us.
I've heard this verse applied in lots of different ways, but not ever in the context of what we as Christ's church, are doing.

I love my local fellowship. Although I think most people in my church have never heard the word "missional" (I'm the only one who is nerdy enough or has the time to read pastor blogs), and while most of them are scared to death of a heresy called "the social gospel"; my brothers and sisters in church put me to shame in terms of how much they reaching out to those outside of our church walls. Just last week one couple shared that they took their Jewish dentist skiing and another lady shared that she convinced a coworker to read the Bible. Add to that the coworkers of two other congregants that discussed the Lord in the past week, and a retired friend who has made herself an establishment in the local McDonalds where everyone knows they can go to her to talk. I am merely scratching the surface of the myriads of ways my church is reaching out to individuals.

While I love to read some of the stuff younger pastors my age are writing, I don't see much difference between what they are talking about and what my older, more conservative church is doing. Making inroads into the community through relationships. Sharing Christ through example, kindness, and actual witnessing. There is nothing new under the sun.

I don't know if I'm bragging about my church or not; I think I am talking to myself. That the next time I complain that one of our ministries needs to be more "intentional", I'd better remove the beam in my eye and start reaching out a fraction of the time that my older brothers and sisters in the Lord do.

I do know that I am bragging on Christ and his church. Whether we are holding a coffee house or an old-fashioned revival meeting God will use us. God will use us when we're knocking on doors to tell the good news and when we invite someone over for lunch. God uses us when we're going to work, and when we plan to help someone out in our spare time, and even when we're relaxing and doing neither. God takes his church and builds it, and he has, and he will be.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Humility and sleep

There is something utterly humbling about being a person who needs sleep.

When I go to bed, it is like I am admitting defeat. I am putting my head on the pillow, and somewhere out there:

-my friend from church will be offering up prayers at least until midnight if not after.
-my coworker from school is going to do a grueling workout because she was too busy earlier.
-my mom is sleeping but will be up hours before I am.
-several thousand people around the world are practicing violin.
-an old crush is out with friends.
-my brother is starting his 976th book ahead of how many books I've read.

but I have to go to bed because if I don't I will not teach well.

(can you tell I'm a little unhealthily competitive?)

And my worst enemy is my own head. I have judged others. I had a friend in college who (it seemed to me) napped all the time. And I resented it because I never had time to nap. But she simply asserted that she needed the sleep, and I knew it didn't affect her self image a bit (like it would have affected mine.) I have judged people that needed to sleep and skip a church meeting. But now I'm experiencing the proverbial 'four fingers pointing back at myself'. (Remember that comeback from when we were, like, eight?)

I can't do everything I want to do, I have to sleep. I fall asleep and, BAM, eight hours of NOTHING being accomplished. Eight hours of my life.

"all men are like grass..."

I have no strength. A very small percentage of the ministry or creative ideas that come into my head will ever get accomplished. I just have to trust the Lord, that the job he has for me on this earth, will get done, because HE is sovereign.

"In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety."

As a side note, I have been letting my diet and exercise slip lately, and I think if that gets under control I may start needing less sleep. We will see.

"Oh Lord, the way of man is not in himself. It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. Correct me Lord, but with justice. Not in anger, lest I come to nothing."

Honda commercial

The commercial came out a few years ago, I think, but whenever I watch it I am inspired to create sound with the human voice. I showed the actual commercial to my fourth graders and they loved it. I actually like this video, where it shows them rehearsing, better.

Monday, March 8, 2010

my stream of consciousness this week regarding stories

They say stories like that make a boy grow bold
Stories like that make a man walk straight...

I've been reading a little more, probably due to my extra snow days. Last month I finished a work of fiction that was compelling enough to stay in my thoughts for days after I finished the book. The book was allegorical, almost to Bunyan-like proportions, yet the plot line still had me on the edge of my seat.

I realized a few days later that in my mind I was starting to presuppose the author's beliefs. In other words, Author X believes things I don't; yet after this masterful allegory I was subconsciously beginning to assume her ideas were truth.

And then I thought to myself, how wise was Jesus to use stories to teach truth.

But then I thought, how unoriginal of me to have that thought, since every trendy pastor and philosopher wanna-be has been saying the same thing for a while now.

But it is true! Not in the sense of let's throw out propositional truth for 'localized narratives' (my 'I've-heard-one-sermon-about-philosophy-and-I'm-gonna-refer-to-it' sentence) but in the sense of 'let's communicate truth with stories.'

I think there was a difference in my ten-year old mind when faced with a moral dilemma and I could remember the fictional 'Johnny' returning extra change to the store clerk. Remembering a 'thou-shalt-not' was helpful; but remembering 'Johnny's' mental anguish while making his decision, and comparing it to my own, was even more helpful.

It's surprising the children's stories that come back to me. And speaking of children's stories, I have for the past year, been heralding (in my mind) folk tales as the champion which will restore appreciation for beauty to a overstimulated culture. I had a very 'old' first grade last year that was bored of my first grade games and songs. They were riveted by simple folk tales, though. I started telling Brer Rabbit stories because beauty and simplicity and attention span are more important than covering my curriculum. That is a different topic though, and hopefully I will uncover some evidence for this last thought soon.

For me this week, Chesterton's Father Brown, to relax when I'm done work. Hoping it won't turn me into a priest, though, or conversely, a criminal mastermind.

Sunday morning

I wrote this two Sunday mornings ago, 'upon singing a favourite hymn' and 'whereupon I should have been listening to the preacher but was remembering another sermon I heard a year ago and writing a poem about my sin.'

Sunday Morning

David just danced,

But I became aware of my Michal too soon.

So praise him that the stones cry out

When a living heart becomes one.

Look at me I love to praise:

On another day I am sounding my trumpet before me.

Praise him that I’ve been made alive

Even though I’m acting like a coffin full of bones.

So loosen my tongue and give it a job,

Make me want one thousand opportunities to say

That your blood breaks the power of sin;

The power of Michals and trumpets.

Pretty sure this doesn't count as poetry, but just thought I'd throw it up here in the interest of giving attention to my forlorn blog.

Oh, and here's the sermon that kind of stuck with me. I had never heard the 'David dancing' story applied this way. Basic gist of the sermon: David was so thankful that he got to return the ark that he didn't care who saw how excited he was.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

LOVE this...

Justo Gonzales's synopsis of some of the Greek writer Celsus's statements (the primary source was too wordy):

The complaint of the pagan writer Celsus was quoted earlier: Christians were ignorant folk whose teaching took place, not in schools nor in open forums, but in kitchens, shops, and tanneries. Although the work of Christians such as Justin, Clement, and Origen would seem to to belie Celsus' words, the fact remains that, in general, Celsus was telling the truth... Wise scholars among Christians were the exception... It is significant that in his apology Against Celsus Origen does not contradict Celsus on this score. From the perspective of cultured pagans such as Tacitus, Cornelius Fronto, and Marcus Aurelius, Christians were a despicable rabble.

Love that foolishness!

Monday, January 25, 2010

this is the start of something good

I've always kind of known that playing music with other people is what keeps us, as musicians, ticking (no pun intended). It's what keeps me on the straight and narrow, anyway...

More proof when Kirsten and Brighton, my two four year old violin students, went bonkers today when I allowed them to play their first rhythm together. They were bouncing and giggling and stomping their feet; and the moms and I were consequently smiling our heads off when we realized the exploding energy that comes from "duet."

Friday, January 22, 2010

why do I care about kids' voices... oh yeah...

not sure about the soloists but otherwise I thought this was exquisite...

Monday, January 18, 2010

giving thanks is the answer to life

AND I quote Rich Mullins again...

and they say that one day Joshua
made the sun stand still in the sky
but I can't even keep these thoughts
of you from passing by
oh we are not as strong as we think we are...

Dear God, please help me. How can I stop thoughts of discontentment, regret over sin, and low self-image or egocentricity (whatever the heck those thoughts are)? Why am I so selfish? When will I stop comparing myself to them and focus on your will for my life? When will I have the peace to realize that my life is a beautiful gift from God and it doesn't have to measure up to what I perceive others' standards are?

In everything, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Thanks, God. I didn't deserve to know that secret for success. Thank you.

I think, if I start physically listing God's gifts in my journal, it will renew my mind. Here I go!

Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm with those guys

I work for a good-sized parachurch ministry, and I went to Christian college. One tendency of Christians that I've noticed over the years is that of Christians wanting to disassociate themselves from other Christians. Why?

The name Bob Jones University dredges up not a few negative stereotypes, and I remember some of the professors there assured me that they were the exception to some kind of rule, that they were different than the other staff members.

Bob Jones is a massive organization, and I don't know that anyone's feelings are getting hurt by these little conversations. But moving a little closer to home, I was surprised a year ago by a statement made by a woman in my hometown. She had been serving in the same ministry for many years and made a statement about one of her personal living standards that established an us (or her) versus them (the organization) idea. Maybe she misspoke. But it wasn't just a vibe I got though I forget the specific language; she was definitely putting herself in a different category from her own ministry. And yet I thought, "lady, you ARE the organization..." "Ma'am, there is no question that we all exercise our Christian liberty at home; why does that change the fact that you labored and cried and prayed for this organization for these many years. You ARE the organization."

You know, I do it too. I'm an American, I have a right to an opinion, I am independent. Any friend reading this knows that I very well could have been griping about a staff guideline or another Christian more conservative than myself who makes me feel guilty or another Christian who is less conservative that I am judging. I am the one pompously and needlessly declaring my independence from other Christians.

During those times when we talk about ourselves, some clarifications are well intentioned. Some are even necessary. Nobody believes that their boss or their organization or their church is perfect. We work in places where we hope to make positive change; and to impose any fake optimism or gloss when we could be brainstorming solutions is another kind of sin. But while we often communicate to those closest to us our good goals and our secret stereotyping and mental self-portraits I sometimes wonder: does anyone have the humility to lose themselves in a group; to say without apology and without any qualifiers; "I'm with those guys..."

Why do we do it, why do we do it? I'm still not quite sure. Is it because we are ashamed of Christ? The Bible equates treatment of Christ's disciples to treatment of Christ himself. I've had this blog post in my drafts for a year, but now I'm going to post this because I found these verses today in Matthew 10.

"The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's award, and the one who receives a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward."

I think it is implicit in the "receiving" that when we have someone in our house, eating our food, taking our help, and showing us things about Christ, we should also be most decidedly identifying ourselves with those people.

Why do I need to look for the edgy Christians before I start striving for the reward in Matthew 10? Shoot, the fundamentalists have tons of righteous people so I'd better scoop those opportunities up. There is no distinction, the same Lord is Lord of all...

The path of the just is a shining light. Why don't we enjoy that light? Let this psalm be our heartbeat:

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.