Tag Archives: books i’m reading

the one where i’m thinking about discipleship

i’ll just warn you … it’s monday, and my pastor preached a good one yesterday. which got me thinking some thinks (which we all know is dangerous and leads to another rambling blog post). between getting my non-so-inner nerd fired up in the sermon, a really great time of catching up and planning with my co-small group leader, and a thought provoking work meeting last night, my brain is about to spill over.

first, that catching up/planning: C and i work hard to meet up every week (or as often as possible if weekly doesn’t work out)- to catch up, reconnect, talk about how her relationship with her boyfriend is going, drink coffee, dream dreams for the ladies in our small group, and plan group for the next couple of weeks. we try to make sure that one of us is aware of what’s happening on the church calendar, in the lives of our ladies, etc. this weekend, our conversation centered on kicking off the new year. we’re switching the day the group meets, nailing down the things we know about that will disrupt our regular group meetings, working on the calendar, and planning for the study we’re doing as a group (spoiler alert: we’re doing the sermon based curriculum because thewholebibleinayear). we also talked about a problem we’ve been experiencing (and that we hear from many other small group leaders)- people who just won’t commit … or say they do, but rarely show up and rarely communicate. let me go ahead and say that we have a fantastic small group! but like any other group of single, young professionals, life has a way of getting really full, really fast. i realized that we talk about commitment to group, encourage communication, etc, but something is still apparently missing. we all love each other, yes; but we are not all constructing our lives around our community. yes, i know that the idea i just said sounds super cultish and controlling; no, i didn’t say it wrong. hear me out:

i read several articles on discipleship that have been simmering in the back of my mind for a couple of months now. some were written as part of a series, the others happened to be along a similar vein … but like i said, i’ve been ruminating. there are two main ideas here: imitation (not just being a copycat- think paul’s numerous exhortations to ‘imitate me as i imitate christ), and doctrine. imitation is a concept that i think goes against the grain for many of us – we are indoctrinated with ‘you do you’ and radical individualism, not to mention the idea that our version of morality is the one that counts, and that we should follow our hearts. we are willing to accept the theory that following christ is counter-cultural – and even to act on it, to a degree- but we balk at the idea of taking it as far as patterning every aspect of our lives around looking like jesus. one article talked about it this way:

3 Strands of Disciple-Making

1. Informing – What We Believe

Part of disciple-making is helping people understand what they believe. It includes the inculcation of information, the teaching of biblical facts and Christian doctrines.

2. Instructing – What We Do

Another part of disciple-making is helping people adopt the practices that make up the Christian life. We walk alongside others, modeling for them what it looks like to live the way of Christ.

3. Imitating – How We Reason

But there’s a third part of disciple-making that is necessary, something a full-orbed vision of “imitation” gives us. This strand refers to helping people reason like Christians who have been formed by “what we believe” and “what we do.” The imitation of reasoning is especially needed on issues where clear instructions are not present in Scripture.

If you only focus on the first two elements (informing and instructing), then you wind up with people who are not fully equipped to respond to the conundrums they encounter in life.

What does your disciple do when he or she confronts an issue that isn’t resolved by the checklist of doctrines to believe, or the common practices of the Christian life?

another article (same author) uses ‘apprenticeship’ language:

Teaching and the Modeling of the Christian Life

The biblical vision of teaching, particularly with its emphasis on apprenticeship, opens up new windows as to how “teaching” needs to include both the delivery of Christian truth and the modeling of a Christian lifestyle. Belief and action go together. Schaeffer again: “It seems to me that the real question is what we really believe. It seems to me that we do tend to have two creeds—the one which we believe in our intellectual assent, and then the one which we believe to the extent of acting upon it in faith. More and more it seems to me that the true level of our orthodoxy is measured by this latter standard rather than the former. And more and more it seems to me that there is no such thing as an abstract Christian dogma—that each Christian dogma can be experienced on some level.” So dogma and experience go together. How does that shape our vision of “teaching”? In particular, what does “teaching them” in the Great Commission refer to? Sermons? Bible studies? Lectures? Maybe. But there’s a clue there in the text itself. Teaching them to obey all that Christ has commandedThis necessarily involves both modeling and verbal teaching.

one of the other articles rolling around in my head is one i’ve already posted about a couple of times- this author uses ‘improvisation’ & ‘development’ language: Why Theology Matters

Developing doctrine in the church is one more in a series of improvisations: the disciples’ story is an improvisation on the history of Israel. Jesus Christ is himself an improvisation on a covenant theme: God’s steadfast love and righteousness. In each case, there is both creativity (newness) and fidelity to what preceded (sameness). Improvisation accents the importance of both speaking and acting out faith’s understanding. The development of doctrine belongs not to speculative but to pastoral theology. In each case, doctrine helps the church to know what to say, think, and do in the face of new challenges. // The development of doctrine is a matter of thinking biblically in new situations.Scripture shapes our vision of the whole, instills mental habits, forms the desire of our hearts, and trains us in the way of discipleship. Doctrine is essential for training in discipleship, and that includes missiological improvisation—knowing how to go on in the same gospel way in different situations. // Doctrinal development is ultimately a matter of the church’s faith improvisation in accordance with the Scriptures and with earlier faithful improvisations (e.g., creedal formulations). The development of doctrine is part and parcel of the mission of the church. Doctrine helps disciples individually and corporately to make right decisions about what to say and do in order to participate rightly in and continue the same drama of redemption in which Israel, Jesus Christ, and the apostles played leading parts. The purpose of theology is to make disciples, players in God’s drama of redemption who are able to play their parts with faithful and creative understanding.

i think my church does a great job with the doctrine end of the equation … and i’d like to think i do the same in regards to my small group. but maybe i’m not as strong on the imitation end as i’d like to be. some of that could come from a distinct lack of available female mentors- there are terribly few women who are both worth imitating and available enough relationaly to imitate. there is indeed a need for titus 2 relationship (older women teaching younger women), and i’ll confess to having a hard time finding that in my life. but even that doesn’t give me a pass- i have the scriptures at my disposal and the holy spirit indwelling me.

i also think my church has a good sense of ‘community’ (which can be kind of ambiguously defined sometimes), but i think there is a distinction to be made between community and the kind of discipleship that includes imitation/apprenticeship/development. too often we equate those things with mere proximity, and leave out the intensity of relationship that brings about change. the way i hear community defined most often is ‘doing life together’ … i don’t disagree with that definition- i have a community (friends, small group ladies, family) that i ‘do life with’. we eat meals together, some of us ever grocery shop together!, we spend hours talking about nothing at all and everything at the same time, we worship together, we confess sin to one another, we learn about the word together … but those are not the kind of relationships i’m talking about here. i am a big fan of this kind of relational discipleship, but i can’t help but feel there is something lacking.

am i the only one who thinks this? i know this has gotten convoluted and is now allthethoughts. hopefully, it’s no secret that i love theology and discipleship. it is a credit to those who discipled me first (shout out to my peeps at word of life!) that i don’t consciously separate what i know from how i (try to) live. the more i disciple others, the more i am realizing that this isn’t normal … and that it is a major difficulty in most discipleship relationships. i also didn’t realize until now that i didn’t have a way to articulate this (since i was taught not to separate the two). i’m finding it troubling and helpful all at the same time.

this has gotten lengthy, so i’ll get to the sermon thoughts and work stuff another time … be warned 😉

a couple of other posts that influenced this one: is it arrogant to tell other christians to imitate your example? and recovering the role of imitation in discipleship today.

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the one where i might be an escape artist.

i like to consider myself a reader.

up until last year, i probably read about 100 books a year, easily. but somewhere in there, there was a shift. i think part of it was just that i wanted to be busy, so i spent more time in coffee shops with people. i started watching more TV. my sister moved in. we got a dog. my job got more demanding and my schedule wasn’t as free.

[side note: there is a boy standing outside the coffee shop i’m sitting in and i swear i have never seen pants that tight on a guy. like, YIKES tight. i can’t un-see that. send help and $1200!]

i went to the beach with my family over the summer, which was a week of absolute bliss. (except for the awful piece of fabric they tried to call a mattress. my back has never been the same.) we laid out in the sun, mostly stayed out of the water (hello, 8+ shark attacks in NC this year), talked life and deep mysteries with my sister, argued about politics with my dad, walked the beach with my mom, and READ NINE books. that is more than one per day that we were gone! all fiction. most that i would entertain the notion of reading again. all new authors- i had not read their works before. i’ve added 7 more books to the tally since then, and i’m sure there were a few earlier in the year- i lose track of the ones i read in the kindle app on my phone- but the total is somewhere around 30 … and i know i’m bad at math, but i’m certain that 30 is quite a bit less than 100.
i read a book earlier this week. i started a new book today. granted, the one i started today is for book club, but at least it keeps me reading! it actually makes me sad when i look at this … partially because i’m slightly ashamed that i’ve only read 30 books this year, but also because i actually enjoy reading, and i haven’t been making it a priority.

i think somewhere along the line, i needed to put down all the christian living/leadership/smart books i was reading because they weren’t edifying- they were either making me angry, or they were puffing me up. so i did, but then went too far with fiction and began to use it as an escape. if i was engrossed in the life and times of some fictional character, my hurts and fears weren’t so prominent.

we got a roku for christmas (which is the cheaper alternative to apple tv, and it works with ‘dumb’ tv’s, so WIN/WIN), which was the best adult gift i’ve ever given myself. but with it came netflix and amazon prime and BLACKLIST. man, i love that show. i started watching season 1 with a friend and got hooked. then i made sarah watch it and we FLEW through seasons 1&2. i think we’re making ourselves wait for all of season 3 and not watching it online … i could be wrong. we’ll see how strong my self control is. but now i probably watch 7-9 hours of tv a week instead of reading or being with other humans. the time relaxing with sarah is great, and i have a very hard time turning down snuggle time with my dog (exhibit a in why i’ll be single forever). i realize that the hours i spend watching tv are below average for my age bracket, but that is more than hours in a week than ever in my adult life.

is that bad? i don’t know, really. answering that would require asking myself alot more questions … like what am i watching/reading? why am i watching/reading? am i neglecting people by watching/readin? is my home in need of the attention i am giving to tv or a book? is my brain turning to mush? should i be spending the $9 on netflix every month? does watching tv actually help me relax or rest? am i filling my mind and imagination with material that makes me smarter? does the book i’m reading make me engage with the world, or hide from it? does this make me smarter, or actively make me more stupid and vapid?

am i just thinking too much? (short answer: yes. and no.) but as any time-management guru/article will tell you, there are so many hours in the day, and hours you use in one place are robbed from another. so we must prioritize! (ok, so i could have made this up, but i am pretty sure i read it somewhere.) where is the line between self-care and escapism? does this hour spent watching tv or reading relax or inform me so that i can do something else better? or does it remove me from reality and steal my brain power from things that are really important?

i get stuck in the tension between rest and work so often. i love my job … but it is intense. i use so much of my mental and emotional energy for work that i often come home spent, and don’t want to do anything else. you know what else i love? my small group. you know, those ladies that i’ve committed to discipling and walking through life with? and you know what else i love? my house. my sister. my dog. sleep.

i am so much law, and so little grace. law is safer, because it is measureable. it comes with black and white boundaries- work now, rest then. grace is beautiful, but in a terrifying sense- i do not know how to receive grace, and rest, and it is finished. law makes me feel useful, gives me value because i do something that adds to the world. law is productive. and i love little more than being productive. but productive can be sinful. productive applauds what i do and how fast i do it, and looks out of the corner of its eye at grace, just walking with the steadiness that knows its value doesn’t come from its productivity … because grace is done. grace has nothing left to prove.

law tells me that there is no room for me to read for pleasure; that watching criminal minds with my sister is time i could be spending cleaning my house or preparing materials for my upcoming trip to india. but grace says otherwise. grace says that sitting on the couch acknowledges that i’m human, and weary, and in need of rest. grace hands me the novel and helps me unclench my shoulder muscles and relax my mind so that i can find pleasure in the created thing that was a good gift from the creator.

law can take a hike.

bye, i’m gonna go read a book.

 

 

 

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the one about a marsh-wiggle (and fighting for hope).

last week i finished my eighth annual reading of c.s. lewis’ the chronicles of narnia. i had read them as a kid- my third grade teacher read us several of them (waaaaaaaay back in 1991), and some family friends gave me the box set for my birthday in the sixth grade. i remember liking them as child- the adventure, the magic, the talking animals.
of course, there was a major resurgence in popularity when disney started remaking the movies in 2005- i was in college then, and i’m so glad that i took the opportunity to snatch up one of those ‘all 7 books in 1 volume’ tomes.  re-reading them that first time was even better than i remembered them as an 11 year old.  i’ve since loaned out the book (of course it never got returned!), so i resorted to the never-let-me-down awesomeness that is the amazon kindle store. wonder of wonders, they were on sale for less than $2 each when i went looking (its like Jesus really wanted me to have them or something).
there are lines in each book that are like old friends- i see them coming and eagerly anticipate hearing them again- perhaps the familiar words will speak with new tone or depth! and they usually do.
i’ve learned the palpability of longing from these books- once a character has encountered aslan, they want nothing more than to be near him again. that nearness changes them! lucy’s strength and goodness come from aslan’s touch and breath; eustace allows aslan to score off the layers of selfishness and arrogance and fear; shasta’s transformation from abused boy to found, loved prince is accomplished by him listening to aslan tell him the truth about himself.
but what struck me most during this year’s read-through was from ‘the silver chair’. i’ve always liked that book, but its never been my favorite (that usually ends up being ‘voyage of the dawn treader’ or ‘the horse and his boy’). this time, though …
without going into the plot (since you should just go read it)- there’s an evil witch passing herself of as a queen (isn’t there always?!), and she is enchanting a prince, a marsh-wiggle, and two human children to convince them that they have never known anything other than the place they are in now. the witch nearly manages to make them forget that they have come from another place; that there is a sun; and that aslan is real and had spoken to them. hope is nearly lost.

Then came the Witch’s voice, cooing softly like the voice of a wood-pigeon from the high elms in an old garden at three o’clock in the middle of a sleepy, summer afternoon; and it said: “What is this sun that you all speak of? Do you mean anything by the word?” “Yes, we jolly well do,” said Scrubb. “Can you tell me what it’s like?” asked the Witch (thrum, thrum, thrum, went the strings). “Please it your Grace,” said the Prince, very coldly and politely. “You see that lamp. It is round and yellow and gives light to the whole room; and hangeth moreover from the roof. Now that thing which we call the sun is like the lamp, only far greater and brighter. It giveth light to the whole Overworld and hangeth in the sky.” “Hangeth from what, my lord?” asked the Witch; and then, while they were all still thinking how to answer her, she added, with another of her soft, silver laughs: “You see? When you try to think out clearly what this sun must be, you cannot tell me. You can only tell me it is like the lamp. Your sun is a dream; and there is nothing in that dream that was not copied from the lamp. The lamp is the real thing; the sun is but a tale, a children’s story.” “Yes, I see now,” said Jill in a heavy, hopeless tone.

Slowly and gravely the Witch repeated, “There is no sun.” And they all said nothing. She repeated, in a softer and deeper voice. “There is no sun.” After a pause, and after a struggle in their minds, all four of them said together, “You are right. There is no sun.” It was such a relief to give in and say it.

“There never was a sun,” said the Witch.

“No, there never was a sun,” said the Prince, and the Marsh-wiggle, and the children.

For the last few moments Jill had been feeling that there was something she must remember at all costs. And now she did. But it was dreadfully hard to say it. She felt as if huge weights were laid on her lips. At last, with an effort that seemed to take all the good out of her, she said,

“There’s Aslan.”

there’s more than happens, of course- they manage to defeat the evil witch and make their way back into narnia. hope, and knowledge of the truth come back to them. remembering who aslan is changes them.

everything is different when you’re depressed. between the faithful work of christ and the unfailing patience of my counselor, i am learning to see through the fog of depression and to strain my ears to hear the voice that speaks life instead of listening to the voice that speaks death. i’ve realized that the most painful aspect of my own depression is the inability to hope. the inability to know that there is a sun, and the inability to believe what i know even when the other voice tries to tell me that there is no sun. being unable to hope means that i am often unable to act on what i know. without hope, there is no remembering; or if you do remember, the memories are disconnected from us- like they happened to someone else. hope is what allows us to remember with clarity, and apply what we know to what’s in front of us. hope is what allows us to acknowledge pain as something that hurts, but won’t be the end of us.  hope knows that feelings can’t always be trusted, and that God is always good. hope looks fear in the eye. hope makes us thirsty, and hope leads us back to the only stream whose water gives us life.

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer.”I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
There is no other stream,” said the Lion.”

hope is worth fighting for. sometimes fighting for hope looks like taking a nap. sometimes fighting for hope looks like going to small group after having the worst day ever. sometimes fighting for hope sounds like the only song that makes you feel anything turned up loud and put on repeat. sometimes fighting for hope is letting the doctor write you a prescription for prozac (and actually taking it). sometimes fighting for hope is weeping into the carpet of your bedroom; sometimes fighting for hope is screaming toward heaven.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (hebrews 10:23)

 

 

 

 

 

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the one that’s not quite so heavy. (link love)

lest we all panic and think that sam is falling apart (i promise, i’m not! i have just been thinking ALOT and feeling even more. that combination results in copious amounts of word vomit … and since i process by writing, and you clicked the link … here we are.), here are a few things i’ve been enjoying lately:

A Broken Hallelujah (jen hatmaker)

In Which We Leave a Little Room (sarah bessey)

This is the Part Where We Lose the Keys (emily joy allison)

the pioneer woman’s cauliflower soup– i’ve made this every week since lent started. never was a huge fan of cauliflower til now … and now i can’t stop.

justin timberlake’s 20/20 experience album.  (megg, you were so right.)

matt redman’s song Jesus, Only Jesus from the new passion album.

zechariah 9, specifically vs. 9-17 as we begin Holy Week.

attending services at The Summit Church and falling in love with the church all over again.

Pitch Perfect. just watch it … you can thank me later.

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here and there.

ever end up in one of those seasons where there is so much to write about, yet at the same time there is nothing to say? or where you feel like you’ve been going 7 trillion miles an hour, yet at the same time you haven’t done anything worth mentioning? where it is the best … but also the strangest?

i’m so there right now. i feel like a quagmire of juxtaposition; a walking contradiction.  so i suppose i’ll just summarize the last few months to get it out of my system … in a good way.

i’ve lived in NC for 3 and 1/2 months now- the permanence is settling in. we have jobs, an apartment, an electric bill; i don’t use the GPS every time i leave my house anymore- there are places i frequent now! i have had my first girls night (with some sweet girlfriends from church!), attended my first wedding here- someone i met here!, and grocery shopped a few times. paying the rent makes it feel like home.  overall, i would say that i’m getting pretty settled here and loving life.

our team meets weekly- loving that! the longer i’m with them, the more i love them and am content that the lord brought us together. i love our team as a family, and the way we share life and wrestle through the tangible theology of the church. being in community with people who care deeply about the fame of Jesus is beautiful. we all have alot going on in our personal lives, and since we are family, we are all affected. pray for us often!

i celebrated my 29th birthday about a month ago … it was the first time i’d been back to lynchburg since i moved! my sister and my best friend threw me a pretty epic surprise party, complete with open mic, photo booth, and the most crazy mixture of my friends i’ve ever seen. it was sweet to have the little bit of time with my family and friends. also, brentwood did a prayer and commissioning for our team that sunday- what am inspiring thing to have your fellow believers behind you! i served in that church for 5 years … it was bittersweet to leave. it feels weird to be 29 … i’m in a catch 22, because while i love my life, it doesn’t look ANYTHING like i thought it would … in good and bad ways. i never imagined that i’d have two masters degrees, teach online classes, move to north carolina to help plant a church … etc. i also never imagined that i’d drive an 11 year old car, work at a coffeeshop, and still be single.

currently reading:

  • the pursuit of god (tozer). a major buttkicker.
  • jesus wants to save christians (bell). an … interesting … read.
  • colossians. (and one of moo’s commentaries on colossians)
  • son of neptune (riordan- the heroes of olympus series).

songs i’m obsessed with:

‘before the throne of god above’

adele’s ‘turning tables’ 

drew holcomb and the neighbors ‘fire and dynamite’

i also got a new haircut. booyah.

i realize this post makes no sense. and i’m ok with that.

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so much to say, so much to say, so much to say ….

yeah, i stole that from a dave matthews song. deal with it.

according to the date stamp on my last post, its been five months and some change since i wrote anything. that’s a long time, even for me! sorry i’m such an inconsistent goob.  much has transpired during these last few months, so here’s a quick catch-up:

  • i worked at magnolia foods from mid-january to mid-april.  it was fun while it lasted 🙂 i ended up leaving for a few reasons, the main one you’ll find out about later in this post!
  • i got to serve at and attend orange conference (again!) with some other college life leaders from brentwood.  we had a great time and learned alot!! [i may or may not have learned most of the words to the great will smith classic ‘gettin jiggy with it’.]
  • also got to attend the advance the church conference (again!) with some of my dear friends! this is the second year we’ve gone, and it was both refreshing and challenging.
  • i went to the beach with my family for the first time since 2007.  i’m way too tan to be irish … and i love it.  i went floating every day, read lots of books (for fun!!), and laid out and gabbed with my sister and my mom about everything under the sun.
  • and the biggest thing to catch you up on …. i am moving at the end of july! in a few weeks, raleigh will be home.  i’m moving with a group of 14 other people to plant a church in that area next year (lord willing!).  its both terrifying and exciting …. but overwhelmingly good and god-ordained.

a little more about the move … that feels weird to say- i’ve lived in lynchburg for 16 of my 28 years. i’ve attended and graduated from high school, college, and grad school here. i’ve served at brentwood church here. i’ve changed apartments more times than i care to count, but i’d consider this my first real move.  like i said, it is both exciting and terrifying! exciting that i know i’m being obedient; that i get to work and do life with an awesome group of people that i already consider family; that i get to write my dream job and use my quirky gifts to help bring the gospel to people who need christ; that i have this chance to increase my faith and watch god do his thing (and be part of it!!!).  terrifying that i don’t have a job yet; that i am leaving a life that i’ve built and love here; that there is a very real possibility that i’m inadequate for this.  let’s be honest here: i’m a wreck and a wretch.  i have weird humor, and an obnoxiously loud laugh that gets me stared at in public.  i’m a geek.  i’m way too independent for my own good.  i’m a stubborn little cuss.  i either over think or jump blindly … there is no middle ground with me.  but in spite of those things- or maybe because of them- god wants to use me, and let me in on what he’s up to.  which means he’s got a plan to use my weird humor and obnoxious laugh, my stubbornness, my independence, my geekiness- to connect with people and be an agent of change.  more than likely, i’ll be the one who gets changed the most.  and that’s cool with me.  i need it desperately.

change of topic …. here’s some things i’ve been obsessed with lately:

iced coffee.  well, that’s nothing new. but the weather here has been PERFECT for iced coffee.  this summer the drink of choice is a grande, three pump caramel, one pump coconut, breve iced coffee with milk. and if you’re using your gold card or registered gift card, you get free refills. oh my. 
this song. even on good weeks, it ends up on repeat for at least an hour every couple of days … and on rough weeks, … let’s just say i’m thankful digital files don’t wear out. 

pinterest. if you haven’t heard of it (especially if you’re a girl) you should check it out! its essentially a bulletin board site.  you can ‘pin’ links to photos or DIY tutorials or recipes or whatever to one place and not have to have hundreds of bookmarks! check it out here.

any book by rick riordan! pretty sure i have mentioned the percy jackson series before … they are the ones about greek mythology in modern day manhattan.  fabulous.  don’t watch the movie … i heard it sucked and changed alot of things. but he also has a series (the kane chronicles) about egyptian mythology in modern day brooklyn.  i read the first two in that series while at the beach, and i can’t wait for the rest of the series! there’s also a first book in a series about roman mythology as well.  yes, they are juvenile fiction … and no, you won’t be disappointed. do it … do it now.

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top 10 [episode 7]: favorite things to do while unemployed

its been 5 months and some change since i posted a top 10. that is both criminal and uncalled for …. so without further ado- my favorite things to do while i’m unemployed:

  1. sleep. duh. this is hibernation weather, people!
  2. read the entire ‘hunger games trilogy’ in two days. click here to see book 1 on amazon. (true confession: yes, i read juvenile fiction. sometimes it makes me think more than normal adult fiction. this is one series i’d recommend to just about anyone.) i got the first book for christmas from my sister stephanie and borrowed the other two from my sister sarah … she may not be getting them back.
  3. cook for my roommates. since c has been house-sitting for most of the week, a and i enjoyed my killer quesadillas on monday night, and “the best salad in the world” on tuesday night. maybe i’ll post the recipe for that salad later … if you’re lucky. (side note: is there really such a thing as a recipe for a salad? anyway.)
  4. watch entire seasons of criminal minds. thankfully a is as addicted as i am, so i don’t have to sit and drool over shemar moore, matthew gray gubler, and thomas gibson by myself like a loser/creeper. can you blame me?
  5. paint frames and chalkboard ugly pictures so i can decorate my house! my sweet friend amanda (see her blog here) came over the other day and helped me paint stuff. good work and great company 🙂
  6. trying new drinks at starbucks. since we’re not getting internet at our new place (its a recession, people!), i’ve been trekking to starbucks every day to have a hot cup of something yummy and do work.  i am still teaching a couple of classes online so there IS work to be done! i’ve been stuck on a ‘grande 4 pump white mocha 2 pump peppermint with room americano’ and hazelnut misto forever.
  7. watching the intersection of main and commerce from my kitchen window. i’ve definitely gotten stuck more than once this week just leaning on the door watching it get dark. i heart living downtown!
  8. catching up with friends as they trickle back in for school  … and laughing when they have to go buy books. i’m so over that.
  9. researching whether or not its a good idea to stay with verizon, even though they get the iphone 4 the same day my contract renews. hmmmm ……
  10. see how many times teecy and i can email back and forth in one day. between being in the same community group and her directing host teams, there’s been alot of conversation this week. there are some big goings on at brentwood that get revealed THIS SUNDAY!!! i’m sort of a big deal, so i already know … but its awesome, and you should come find out whats going on!

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top 10 [episode 4]: things i LOVE about summer

i was babysitting tonight (7 kids under the age of 4 … if that’s not good birth control, i don’t know what is!) when it hit me: i actually do like some things about summer.  and since we’ve already reviewed the things i HATE about summer, so its time to check out the flip side of the coin.  so without further ado, the top 10 things i love about summertime:

  1. the smell of freshly cut grass. gap tried to make a perfume that captured the glory of this scent, but they failed dismally.  there’s just nothing on god’s green earth quite like it. (although i do adore the smell of a clean, flannel-wearing, bearded man.  but that’s another topic entirely.)
  2. one word: guacamole.  ok, two words: fresh guacamole.  wait, scratch that- three words: homemade, fresh guacamole.  sweet little eight pound baby jesus … i could eat that stuff everyday.  in fact, i bought some avocados yesterday that i’ve decided will be made into delicious homemade guac and be consumed with blue corn chips for lunch tomorrow. i’m drooling with anticipation 🙂
  3. sleeping with windows open.  i love going to bed warm and waking up in the middle of the night to pull the blankets up. just beautiful.
  4. the fact that it is completely acceptable to lay around on a lounge chair and read fiction for hours in order to get a tan. i realize this may not be as exciting to men, but we ladies love to bring out the tanning oil and a book whenever its sunny and we find ourselves with an hour to kill.
  5. flip-flops. all day, every day, with every outfit i own. thus the reason i own more pairs of flip-flops than i have fingers on my right hand. (in case you were wondering, i do have five fingers on my right hand, just like i’m supposed to. which means that yes, i do own more than five pairs of flip-flops.)
  6. freckles. i heart freckles.  the ones on my shoulders are popping out like crazy after spending two consecutive afternoons at the pool, and i couldn’t be happier 🙂
  7. fresh produce.  we’re talking farmer’s market paradise.  tomatoes, squash, zucchini, bell peppers … not to mention the fruit!  strawberries, peaches …. oh man. HEAVEN.
  8. the fact that its perfectly acceptable to eat cereal multiple times in one day ‘because its too hot to eat anything else.’  yeah, whatever validates the addiction to blueberry frosted mini-wheats ….
  9. not having to wear as much makeup.  not that i wear much anyway- usually just eyeliner and mascara- but when i’m tan i can get away with even less! sometimes none at all!
  10. and lastly, just the fact that time seems to move more slowly in the summer.  now, this could be attributed to the fact that i don’t take classes in the summer, or that my blood is replaced with southern, ‘church-lady’ sweet tea (which is so thick that it is nearly heart stopping), or any number of things … but i love the fact that i feel like i have more time on my hands in the summer.  more time to read (for pleasure! i had almost forgotten what that felt like), more time to linger over coffee with my girlfriends, more time for naps on those afternoons where its too hot to do anything else, more time to walk on blackwater creek trails …. just more time in general.  its a beautiful thing!

ok, so there you have my 10 things i love about summer … and by the by, if you’re looking for summer reading, here’s what’s on my list:

  • percy jackson and the olympians, book 5 ok, i love this series.  don’t judge me.  i’m reading the last one in snippets when i can steal away to barnes&noble for 20 minutes or so because i refuse to buy it til it comes out in paperback. and i just can’t wait those last few weeks.
  • donald miller’s a million miles in a thousand years.  again.  yes, its that good.
  • jamie langston turner’s some wildflower in my heart.  i normally don’t like christian fiction, but i really like turner’s books!  everything i’ve read, i’ve loved.  her characters are great, and the story lines are believable.
  • house rules by jodi picoult.  i can’t say enough good things about this woman’s books … she is one of those few authors that i’ll pre-order and not blink an eye.  i save my b&n coupons for her new releases!
  • the anne of green gables series.  classic.  and no one fully appreciates them in 7th grade … definitely worth a re-read.
  • speaking of series worth a re-read: the chronicles of narnia.  c.s.lewis is the freaking man.
  • i also love most books by kyle mills, at least the ones with mark beamon as the main protagonist. hysterical, entertaining, and great plots.

ok, now that i’ve given you enough books to last til 2013 (plus the links to buy them on amazon!), its bed time for this girl.  even though its summer, work still comes at the ungodly hour of 9am.

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the post with no name.

i’ve said it before, but it bears repeating …. i’ve had to change my mind entirely about mondays.  today was one for the books- a day so good that i haven’t stopped smiling since i woke up.  day off, sleeping in, good talk with one of my roommates, a bowl of cheerios, shopping and lunch with my sister, great conversation with a friend at starbucks, cheap chickfila with a couple of my sweet college life girls, a hazelnut café misto, and now i’m ensconced in my favorite chair, writing this.  life is beautiful.

i started reading ‘jesus wants to save christians’ by rob bell yesterday, and so far …. i’m intrigued.  i read bell with a grain of salt, but usually come away thinking a little harder about things.  that is already happening- this book deals a lot with the book of exodus (which, if you know me AT ALL, you know is one of my favorite books in scripture.)  we’re dealing with the ten commandments, and getting some good background on the events that led up to these moments between moses and god on mt.sinai.  israel has been enslaved in egypt for over 400 years- all this time, working and toiling and being downtrodden.  they cry out to god for generations, and he sends one of their own- moses- to lead them out of slavery and back into the land he promised them.  moses is his own story, and while its worth our time, he’s not what this post is about.

this post is about liberation. freedom. redemption. salvation. deliverance. rescue. this post is about the precursor to the week we’re in right now.

israel cried out to god to save them from their toil and those who oppressed them.  god sent moses- and through a series of bizarre events that ended in the death of the firstborn of all egypt, including the son of the pharaoh, who led them out of slavery and back toward becoming the nation they were intended to be.  they get to the red sea just as the egyptian army gives chase and even amid their fear and discouragement, they see the hand of god come to their rescue again.  he parts the sea so they can cross on dry ground [god parted the sea, people! he parted the freaking red sea, and the children of israel walked across it on dry ground.  not this muddy stuff like we’ve got here after last night’s thunderstorm. dry means dry. in case you can’t tell, this is one of my favorite events in the whole bible.] but he doesn’t stop with parting the sea- he brings that same sea crashing down on top of the pursuing egyptian army and destroys them.  and we’re talking a violent, decisive destruction- the act of a father who has had enough of those who have bullied and oppressed his children for far too long.  he leads them himself, in the form of a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day, to the base of mt.sinai where he gives moses the ten commandments.

“the only way to understand this covenant relationship between god and the people is to understand what they’ve already been through together.  their relationship is rooted in an act of deliverance that god has performed on their behalf.  this is not an abstract god who floats above the blood and dirt and pain of the world.  this is a god who is fundamentally defined by action on the behalf of the oppressed.” [bell, pg 32]

exodus 20:2 is god telling moses “i am the LORD your god, who brought you out of egypt, out of the land of slavery.”  the liberation of the israelites from egypt was a gift from god, an act on their behalf.  in the exact same way, our salvation- our liberation from our sin, is a gift from god, and an act on our behalf.  ephesians 2 talks about this in detail:  “it wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin …. in immense mercy and with an incredible love he [god] embraced us.  he took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in christ.  saving is all his idea, and all his work.  all we do is trust him enough to let him do it.  its god’s gift from start to finish! we knew nothing of that rich history of god’s covenants and promises in israel, hadn’t a clue about what god was doing in the world at large.  now, because of christ- dying that death, shedding that blood- you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.”

this week celebrates the passion of christ.  yesterday was palm sunday- the scene of jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem; the day when the people acknowledged him as their king.  “hosanna! hosanna to the son of david!”  this is the week when jesus took the passover feast with his disciples for the last time.  the week where jesus was betrayed.  the week he was tried illegally by the sanhedrin, and then stood before pilate before he was beaten raw, adorned in thorns, and carried his cross up a hill to die for the sins of mankind- acts. words, thoughts that he was not guilty of.  but it is also the week when the veil that separated the temple from the holy of holies was rent from top to bottom, and there was no need for separation from god any more.  anyone who wanted to approach could do so.  sin was paid for, and the way to god that once required the life and blood of a spotless lamb was now open to all.  but it gets better:  not only did christ’s death allow us to approach god, he was raised!  christ’s resurrection sealed the deal.  death and hell were defeated.  we can be brought out of our self-induced slavery to sin, and into that life.  we are redeemed. liberated. delivered. rescued. free. now our relationship- like israel’s- is rooted in an act of deliverance that god has performed on our behalf.  and like paul said in ephesians, ‘saving is all his idea, and all his work. all we do is trust him enough to let him do it.”  when we trust him enough to let him rescue us, we get to be in on this plan of rescue.  we get to be instruments of rescue by telling people who are still enslaved about the freedom that is theirs for the asking. i can barely comprehend this- not only have i been rescued and redeemed, i am now part of the plan. its so …. liberating. i love the way that it comes full circle because it illustrates how god is all about deliverance.

well, now it is tuesday …. which means i’ve rambled on long enough.  being a grownup means that i need to put the laundry in the dryer and get to bed …. work comes early in the morning.

there are moments where the enormity of the goodness and grace of god hit me like a brick wall …. and there are moments where its like i’m floating in an ocean of it, and it is all around me, holding me up and i move in its rhythm.  today was both.  and i wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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foolish is the new awesome.

Life is too short to not do what God is calling you to do.
Chase hard after God’s calling.
It’s better that way. <carlos whittaker>

thoughts from in a pit with a lion on a snowy day (batterson)

faith is the willingness to look foolish.  noah looked foolish building the ark in the desert.  the israelites looked foolish marching around jericho blowing trumpets.  david looked foolish attacking goliath with a slingshot.  the wise men looked foolish following yonder star.  peter looked foolish stepping out the the boat in the middle of a lake.  and jesus looked foolish hanging half-naked on a cross.  but this is the essence of faith … and the results speak for themselves.  noah was saved from the flood.  the walls of jericho came tumbling down.  david defeated goliath.  the wise men found the messiah.  peter walked on water.  and jesus rose from the dead.  *the greatest miracles, breakthroughs, and turning points in scripture can be traced back to someone who was willing to look foolish. god’s modus operandi: 1 cor. 1:27 [god deliberately chose the things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise.] nothing has changed.

one hebrew word for worship: hallal, meaning ‘clamorously foolish’.  maybe this is what david was doing when he danced before the lord half naked in the streets.  and we certainly look foolish when we worship- singing and raising our hands to someone we can’t see or touch.  worship is all about disrobing and nakedness: shedding the things that we find our identity and security in outside of our relationship with christ.  its a reminder that our ‘kingly robes’ are really just filthy rags; its not about what we can do for god, but rather what he has done for us.  and when we begin to understand that, it produces the greatest freedom: having nothing to prove.

the grace of god has no expiration date.

[which gives us reason- even cause- to hallal before god.  that fact gives us the desire to ask for faith, and the will to exercise it.  and with a track record like that, call me crazy …  i have zero rhythm, but i’ll dance anyway. ]

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