the funniest search terms of 2007

A number of interesting searches have turned up The Shift this year; these are a few of my particular favorites:

Christmas verses to put in a box - um, okay... why?

take me to you imprison.... wow. i really hope you were looking for the John Donne poem that turned up.

art vs. propoganda - well, that seems rather obvious to me. :) (one is art.)

idealism vs. procrastination - but they're really the same thing, you see, because ideally you could find out the benefits of one over the other while procrastinating on the internet...which makes it all a moot point...

alternative norman rockwell thanksgiving picture - lol. i think you found it. :)

christmas song lyrics sitting in a restaurant - and you left them there? what if someone famous had written them? do you know how much they'd go for on e-bay?

sockfoot - an extraordinary number of people googled this word... it's when you take off your shoes and are still wearing socks. as opposed to "barefoot" (also googled twice) which is when you have neither shoes nor socks on your feet. :) hope that helps.... lol.

fundamental of friendship - be a good friend.

got to church Thanksgiving Day - good for you! :)

Late for Thanksgiving and argument - wow. that's unfortunate. :(

thanksgiving family arguments... more of them? that's terrible... but who googles them?!

Thanksgiving Day prayer hilarious - would you like me to write one for you next year?

christmas poems when getting a refrigerator - i could probably write one of those too, if you really wanted it. for your own personalized magnetic poem, just send $19.95 plus shipping and handling to...

and two really good but more serious searches:

be happy in Jesus - :)

Jesus shifting the church - Yes. He is. and He's shifting me, too.

Happy New Year to all of you! May 2008 be a year to remember - not because of anything we may say or do, but because of the way He will work in and through us. In His Name, and for the sake of His glory. Amen.


I had a dream a couple of weeks ago that felt incredibly significant. Dreams and visions are not ways in which God "normally" speaks to me; I actually very rarely remember my dreams, so when I do, I pay attention. Sometimes they're just psychotic - like the dream I had about a month ago in which I actually met Rachel, and we were driving around in Maine in a red convertible (it was summer), and we rescued Kirk Cameron (who was not drowning at all) from a man-made catch-and-release fishing pond. Fun dream, no idea where that came from, probably not worth much more than a laugh. But some dreams just seem to make a little more sense than their basic plot.

In this particular dream, I was at some sort of a party with a number of people I knew, and we had just come into the kitchen to get dinner. I was toward the tail end of the line, standing and chatting idly with the people around me, when our pastor came up behind me, put his hand on my back, and began to pray in another language. This warm heat spread over my back, and when he stopped praying, it didn't hurt anymore. (I wrenched it in real life a couple of months ago, and it's still kind of bugging me a bit.) In my dream, I just kind of looked at him, and I said, "how did you know?" and he just smiled compassionately and said, "Hap, why didn't you tell anybody?" And then I woke up.

You know, I don't know why I didn't tell anybody. It's not like prayer would hurt - in fact, it would probably help. (And my back is getting better.) But this dream has me thinking about transparency. It's something our pastor says quite frequently when someone shares something personal - "thanks for being so transparent" - and my general response to that, at least internally, is usually, "well, what else would I be?" Transparency is truthful; it's honest; and those are things I generally try to be... but talking with a friend about this the other day, she said, "oh, no, Hap - you can keep to yourself pretty well when you want to." And I realized she was right.

I'm not sure whether this is a good or a bad thing. It might be a little of both. Still working it out. And still trying to figure out what, if anything else, is significant about that dream....

Santa Claus does exist!!!

and i can prove it. :)

Santa, in the true spirit of modernity, has started his own blog.

And if it's on the internet, it must be true, right? :)


sweet Jesus, thank You
for the gift of Your Presence
for being Emmanuel
for being with us

in this moment of fear and bewildered distress
when nothing makes sense and my heart longs to break because
then, at least, all of this tension would cease...

You are present
and that is a gift

sweet Jesus, thank You
for being so good
for being so faithful
and being so true

in this moment of hurt and betrayal and madness
You are the one who speaks peace
to this sadness and joy
will come - maybe this morning? - but definitely one of these days

in Your presence
and that is a gift

sweet Jesus, thank You
for not promising things
would be easy
but for promising You would be in them

I love You, God
and I will follow You
i will follow

deep theological hang-up of the month

It's been a quiet week here at the Shift, which by now most of you will know means there's a whole lot of rumbling underground as a new shift is about to take place. :) This one may include a bit of lava surfacing, when it's all said and done, but I'm still not in a place to blog about it yet...

But I'm wondering something tonight - something I've often wondered. This whole "it's all about You, it's not about me" thing. It's true, I know it. He's the Main Character in this Story we get to live into... I'm just another player... but how do I experience the Story focused on Him and not get caught up in the middle of my own story? The only way I get to experience this life is in this body, with this mind, and these eyes... so how do I learn to not see with my eyes, but His? and to not live for myself but for Him?

Jake and I were talking tonight, and if I'm remembering the conversation correctly he said something about this whole "burn-out" phenomenon that tends to happen to people in ministry, (and which seems to be happening to a number of us at Torch right now...) and how it tends to happen when our focus shifts from Christ to ourselves. And I said something to the effect of "you know, I don't think I'd even realized that had happened" and Jake said, "I think sometimes it's possible for us to be focused on both." And that rang true. I have been looking at Christ, I think... seeking to live right, to honor Him in what I say and do - but I've been pretty self-centered of late as well... but then it comes back to this question of how do you live your life for God without it ever being about you at all?

I'm not sure I'm phrasing this question well. Do you see what I'm driving at? And what do you think about it? How do we get out of ourselves and live lives that make the glory of Jesus our single concern?

no man's land

Rachel has tagged me in an original meme entitled "No Man's Land." I'd attempt to explain it, but I think Rachel says it best:

"Ever feel like there's no end in sight? I can remember countless times where I feel like I've set off for somewhere.... somewhere good and exciting and adventurous, only to find myself staring at a seemingly never-ending nothingness!

I don't do no-man's-land well. What I mean by that is that feeling you have of not being able to charge forward, but not being able to throw in the towel either. I want all or nothing. What do we do when we have to just ride out the 'nothingness'?"

Good question! The challenge of the meme is to share four things that God wants you to learn in "no man's land." Here are mine, from my current location: live, right-smack-in-the-middle of it...

1) "Your vision isn't big enough." God said that to me once at a conference in Indiana - I think it was in 1995. And I keep coming back to it. My vision isn't big enough. I don't see the big picture; I don't know the plan. What I've yet to figure out is that I don't need to. So maybe the alternative phrasing of the first thing that God wants me to learn out here in no man's land is: "Let it go."


2) "Patience is genius." - Georges Louis Leclerc de Buffon. Again there's an alternative phrasing to this: Psalm 27:13-14. "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be still and take heart and wait for the Lord." (NIV) Other translations begin, "I would have lost heart unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord..." or "I would have despaired unless I had believed..."


3) "You don't need to have everything all figured out." Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." or this paraphrase from the Message: "Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He's the one who will keep you on track."


4) ?

I'm still impatiently trying to figure it out on my own.


I tag the following:

Jon Birch
Linda (Faintnot)
and the entire state of California, in honor of the fact that you're the only ones who have even half a chance of reading one of my 5:00am devos at 5:00am. :)

Let me know when you've posted - and pop over to Rachel's blog and let her know you've participated, too! :)

out here in no man's land

did a little song writing last night...

these are the lyrics - they're a little cheesy, but be glad you can't hear the song itself - the music's even worse... :)

100 miles ago i lost my way within this wilderness
and i am finally ready to admit i don't know where I am
i know You know the way and so i turn to You and say amen
let it be, God, lead me home

and so i listen for direction but my heart can't hear a sound
and i wonder if i missed something or if You're not around
You could hear a penny drop if deserts were not made of sand
and there's no signpost leading anywhere out here in no man's land

so where do i go now and what do i do
and how do i know the way to You

within the pages of the Book, i read to trust in You alone
i know that Jesus is the only way my soul will make it home
but while eternity is pretty clear, the meanwhile is a mess
and i can't stay here but i'm paralyzed, afraid to take a step

but then i realize that You speak in ways i may not understand
and that it's no mistake or accident i'm made the way i am
the gifts and dreams You've given me provide no map
but they're a compass pointing heavenward and leading straight to You

so where do i go now and what do i do
and how do i know the way to You
i'm asking, where do i go now and what do i do
and how do i know the way to You

i'll take a little more time to rest and think about Your promises
i know that everything You say is true

i’ll take a little more time to trust that tho this road is full of dust

the path i need to take is known to You

and though i can’t see where i’m headed next, You do

and that’s enough

so i will trust

and walk with You

(c) 2007 Happy Records, Inc.

5:00AM Devos: Extravagance - Mercy

"Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance." - Jude 1:2

This is from Jon Birch, and is an excellent example of one place a bit of extravagance may be needed...

There's some excellent discussion going on about this over at ASBO Jesus. Check it out here.

There are two things I thought of at once when I saw this the other day. First and immediately, I thought of my friend Linda over at faintnot's frenzy and her weekly updates on the Friday Church in the park that she is part of. Then I wondered, "are these the only ones?"

Are these the only people who are in need of God's extravagant gifts of mercy and grace? What is it that makes someone "one of the least of these"? What does it feel like to read those words in the Word when you are one of the least of these? Does anyone in that position know they're there? What about all those people with thousands of dollars in credit card debt sitting in their fabulous houses with incredibly broken hearts and broken marriages? I think I might argue that "the least of these" can be all of us at times, and this is why:

"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." - Isaiah 53:6

"...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." - Romans 3:23

I went to BibleGateway this morning and typed in the keyword "mercy." I would highly recommend it. The picture you get of God's heart for mercy even just skimming through the references is amazing. (I found a few verses I want to go back and study in more depth.)

God is an incredibly merciful God. Every single one of us deserves to die for our sin - and God, in His mercy, sent His Son to do that for us, so that we could live with Him... (and told us about it in advance so we would understand what He was doing: check out the rest of Isaiah 53). And that mercy is extended to everyone - the "least of these" as we see them - as we judge them by their circumstances to be - but also to anyone and everyone, no matter what their place or station in life. Yes, God has a heart for the poor - but He also has a heart for the poor in spirit. There is justice to be gained for all - and it has been. It's just some of us don't know it yet. So let's go tell them...

p.s. don't be surprised if a few of the people you need to tell are actually sitting in church on Sunday...

5:00AM Devos: Extravagance - Grace

5:00am in California... not even.... :) (lol... too bad I don't live there anymore...)

I've had an old Bob Fitts song in my head for a couple of days now; one of the things I love about it is that the lyrics are pretty much straight from Scripture: "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." - 2 Corinthians 9:8. If you follow that link, it'll take you to a few different translations of the verse that help you to understand it more fully when you look at all of them and the shades of meanings of different words that can be used... I think my favorite is from the Message - which isn't a translation at all, actually; it's a paraphrase.

It says: "God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you're ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done...." and later, "[He] is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away..."

Wow. In context, it's talking about money, but I suspect it applies to far more than that. So what is it that God has given me that I can give away today? :) What is it for you? Drop me a note and let me know - let's celebrate God's extravagance in our lives together today. Then we all get to Smile. :)

I'll take one of the cliché answers. :) (but it's true, too!) God's given me a love for His Word. Today I get to share that with a few kids by reading them a Bible story and praying with them - and then I get to go to class tonight and share His Word with some friends. I'm taking a preaching class (yikes...). I don't know why. I'm terrified. But there it is. And one of the things I have to do for this class is to memorize Scripture... so I memorized John 1:1-18. It's been a really cool experience, telling John's version of the Christmas Story over and over again to myself and the kids this week as I've been committing it to memory. Sitting with a passage like that - you start to feel it breathe life into you. It's been sweet. :) I'm still a little nervous about telling it from memory to my friends - but they're a pretty gracious bunch. I'll be mocked a bit if I blank out, but it'll be in a good fun. :)

So what about you? How have you been richly blessed, and what can you give away today?

exchanging glances

Eye contact is a weird thing, have you ever noticed that? Cool, but weird. You can say so much just by looking at someone... you can also read a lot, just by making eye contact.

I've had three rather interesting encounters over the past few weeks. A couple weeks ago I was in a department store shopping for Christmas things for Sacred Space, and an old lady was sitting in an armchair next to the aisle I was walking down. I met her eyes and smiled, thinking to myself, how nice that she feels comfortable doing that in this store. it's pretty crowded... i'll bet she's tired and needed that chair. i wonder if she's waiting for someone to finish their shopping? and so I smiled, thinking to share a little Christmas cheer in the midst of this crowded store... and she glared at me and muttered something. I kept walking, and it took me a minute to work out what she'd said. "I don't need your looks, missy."

She thought I felt sorry for her. How sad that a little bit of compassion would make her angry...

The other day I was in the restroom at a mall, and another old lady came in, muttering under her breath, something about the train, and the detectives not doing a thing. I looked at her reflection in the mirror, but she did not meet my eyes. She looked down and kept muttering, louder and louder, and by the time I left the restroom she was shouting about the courts and the unfairness of it all. She wasn't homeless. Or if she was, she'd found some very nice clothes somewhere. Nicer than mine for sure. She didn't meet my eyes at all - and her grip on reality seemed less than strong...

Today I was sitting in a restaurant, having a bowl of chicken noodle soup and writing an email to someone I care about, and I must have had "That Smile" on my face. You know the one.... the secret, "I'm really happy about something, and it's just nice" smile. People who are falling in love have That Smile. People who just got a really great present have That Smile. And people who just heard God's Word and it's changed them... they have That Smile. There are all kinds of moments in life that cause That Smile, and I was smiling - and I looked up, and an old man was walking past my table. Our eyes met. He grinned, and walked on.

It was a good moment. :)

5:00AM Devos: Thankfulness - Day 5

Hey, it's getting better - it's actually 5:00am somewhere in the continental U.S. right now.

Thankfulness - Day 5

"Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, 'My idols did them; my wooden image and metal god ordained them.' You have heard these things; look at them all. Will you not admit them? "From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you..." - Isaiah 48:5-6

I am thankful for ... prophecy.

That was a little unexpected, wasn't it? It was to me. All week (or rather, all two weeks!) I've been planning to make day 5 the stereotypical "I'm thankful for my friends" post - though there is hardly anything stereotypical about most of my friends, and I would include some of you among them, tho I've never met you... but I find that hand-in-hand with that comes thankfulness for the gift of prophecy, and here is why.

Prophecy isn't predicting the future, tho there are times when the gift of prophecy operates in conjunction with words of wisdom and knowledge and that predictive element is present. Prophecy, at its heart, is simply encouragement and/or exhortation - cheering someone on, or letting them know that there's something they can do to be chasing Jesus better.

It turns out that a lot of my friends are prophets. :)

Last night, after a long afternoon of one thing after another not going the way I wished it would, I got in my car to drive to church for our young adults group, and it wouldn't start. So I hitched a ride in with a friend, and a ride back with another friend, and when I got home, my car started just fine. At first, I really could have just kicked it. But as I thought about it later, there's a possibility that the conversation we had on the way home may not have happened, and it was one of those moments where God spoke through my friend pretty directly, and I wouldn't have traded that in.

These are not his exact words, but this is the gist of it: Hap, I know I've told you this before, but a couple of months ago I was standing back by the sound board and listening to you sing, and God said, "Enjoy this, because she's not going to be here much longer." and I knew it was true. and to be honest, I'm not very happy about the idea of you being gone, but it's going to be great for you, tho it'll kind of suck for the rest of us. What you've been waiting for, it's coming. And I know other people have told you that. But it's true. Everything you've ever waited for in life, it's right there; He's going to give it to you, and it's going to be amazing.

I am so grateful for the friends who have so faithfully stuck by me in this season of doubt and depression and deep sadness that I cannot seem to shake no matter how hard I try, and for a God who cares for me so deeply that in addition to speaking to me Himself through His word and to my heart, which He has done often over the past few weeks, has also gone out of His way to make it clear to so many others from Australia to California that there is a new season coming for me and that I just have to hold on a little bit longer. And really, not even that - as another friend reminded me last night - I'm not holding on to Him; He's holding onto me. I can trust that.

Thank you, Jesus.

prayer for a winter's day

There is a poem by John Donne that I have loved since the first time I read it, over a decade ago in a literature class I took in college. You should go here first to read the entire poem.

It begins this way:

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.*

I love that imagery. Sometimes I really do need God to come at me like a battering ram and just take me down. I wish it wasn't true, but it is. And He, in His amazing love and faithfulness, does exactly that.

I love the contrast, too, between the violence of words like "batter," "o'erthrow me," "break," and "burn," and words like "breathe," "shine," "seek to mend." And all for the purpose "that I may rise and stand." There's a point to the battering, to the taking down of our self-centeredness, our self-sufficiency. At the far end of what feels like getting totally beat up, we rise and stand. The city falls but is rebuilt into something far better than it once was...

Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.*

Oh, Jesus... enthrall me. I want to fall more in love with You than I have ever been. Amen.

*from "Batter My Heart" by John Donne, found on The Literature Network

5:00AM Devos: Thankfulness - Day 4

11:13am Devos... somehow, it just doesn't have the same ring...
Ah, well.

Thankfulness - Day 4

"Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker..." Psalm 95:6

Perhaps I am thinking about this because of Sacred Space, or perhaps it's because it's after 11:00am on a Sunday morning and I am curled up in bed with a third cup of coffee and still in my pajamas and having a rather worshipful morning not being at church... but today I am thankful for worship.

I am thankful for all the things that worship is: an act of adoration, an acknowledgment of God's greatness, a recognition that my life is not about me, that this Story into which I'm living isn't mine to write, but that it's His...

I am thankful for all the ways in which my worship can be expressed - curled up in bed under a pile of blankets on a snowy winter morning with a cup of coffee and a slice of peppermint pie (wait a minute, slice? no, tell the truth, Hap... you took the box out of the fridge and a fork out of the drawer...!) writing about worship; dancing sockfoot in a church sanctuary, singing at the top of my lungs, painting, or even choosing to slow down for a second and just breathe, remembering Emmanuel...

and I am thankful for all the things that worship isn't - or doesn't require...

5:00AM Devos: Thankfulness - Day 3

I'm so far off my "brilliant" bandwagon, I can't see it for all the dust. *sigh* It's after 10:00am. But it's Saturday.... :)

Thankfulness - Day 3

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk, without money and without cost." - Isaiah 55:1

I am thankful for... grace.

I once heard grace described as an acronym for "God's Riches At Christ's Expense." It isn't free - it cost Him everything - but He gave it to us, without cost. And I am grateful, far more grateful than I think I'm even aware of sometimes, for that gift of grace. I don't think I generally fully comprehend the awfulness of my sin sometimes, nor the lengths to which He went to redeem me from it... but I've seen and understood enough to know that I would be totally - and deservingly - lost without Him.

Thank you, God, for your grace - both in saving me, and in the way you continue to save me daily. Thank you for Christmas - and for the gift of redemption that you gave us that day. I love you.

Sacred Space - Christmas 2007

By now most of you know that worship is my passion. Sacred Space is intricately wrapped up in that. Some days I think that if I could create a dream job for myself, I would be a "Sacred Space Consultant" and travel around the world teaching churches how to create Sacred Space. (Then I get to the tail end of the event and it takes me a week to recover and I start to rethink that...) :)

Sacred Space is an out-of-the-box, multi-station, interactive worship event. (Or so I've heard it described.) Really, it's just what it sounds like - sacred, and spacial. Spacial both in terms of physical space, and in terms of creating space in our hearts for God to speak - or rather, to listen to what He is speaking. This was my 5th event, and was by far the one for which I've been most excited. What made it different is that this time, I had an entire team of people who were committed, invested, and passionate about making it happen - usually it's just me and one or two other people - so we were able to do more, and it was far more creative than anything I could have come up with on my own. Watching people discover their creativity and put it into action was really cool - both in the preparation for the event and during the actual service. But here, let me walk you through the night, and you'll see what I mean. :)

As you walked up to the church, there were carolers singing just outside the church doors to greet you with a bit of Christmas cheer. People milled about the lobby talking, swiping cookies from the kitchen, catching up, and listening to Christmas music. At 7:00pm, the song we play as our 20something's weekly cue to find a seat came on, and we all piled into the sanctuary - to find there were very few chairs. There were some towards the front grouped in coffee-house style around tables decorated with vases full of pinecones and ribbons, and others set up around larger tables in the back that were piled high with craft supplies. We sat where we could, and some stood. Our pastor welcomed us, challenged us to come like Martha's sister Mary and sit at Christ's feet for awhile, and the band kicked us off into a short set of Christmas songs and praise choruses. We heard the Christmas story straight from Luke 2, and then our other teaching pastor explained the goal of the night, and turned us loose to worship as we wished/felt led, encouraging us to explore avenues of worship that might not feel the most natural to us, and to discover how God might speak to us as we focused on re-discovering the wonder of Christ's coming.

Most people (not surprisingly) made a beeline for the station we called "Life Together: Community as Worship." Coffee, cocoa, and Christmas cookies, and the chance to catch up with old friends (as several of our college students are beginning to come home for the holidays).

Others took off for a number of other stations. I wish you could have seen it. Words will never do it justice - but here are some brief descriptions...

In the main sanctuary, the Christmas story was scrolling across the screens, and there were four stations set up. In the front to the left was a four foot high, four foot long wall built and painted by a couple of guys in our community that we call our wailing wall - people can come and write out their hearts' cries to the Lord and nail them to the wall. We also post a brief history of the real wall in Jerusalem, so that people will know the significance of the tradition in which they are, in their own way, participating.

To the right was a table piled high with packages, topped by a box labeled "The Gift Box." Gift tags were available on which you could write your gift to God (time, resources, your heart...) and drop it in the box. Next to the table was a Christmas tree hung with dozens of crosses made of nails and wire, bearing gift tags that read "To: you; From: Jesus - John 3:16" - and worshipers were invited to take one home with them in remembrance of the night, and of the ultimate Gift.

In the back were 3 tables in a station called the Creative Corner. Watercolor paints, crayons and paper, playdough, and a basket full of scrolls and pens for poetry were available for anyone who wished to paint, shape or write their praise. Some of the paintings our community turned out are simply amazing.

There were also 2 tables for a station called "The Invitation" - piles of card-making and letter-writing supplies were available for those who wished to reflect on the invitational aspect of God's character and to model it by writing letters/notes to encourage people.

Down the main hallway just off the lobby are all our classrooms, and there were stations set up in each of those rooms as well. The first room on the right was our Reflection Room. Journals and Bibles were available on a shelf, and there were piles of blankets and pillows and comfy couches, in a room lit by candles and white Christmas lights, made brighter by the occasional mirrors that reflected the lights in front of them. I walked by at one point, and three or four people were curled up under blankets, reading and journaling, and it looked so warm and cozy and inviting!

The next room on the right was called Away In A Manger: Piecing Together the Mystery of Christ's Coming. One of the girls had found a great puzzle with 20 scenes on it - a few of us worked on it together the week prior to Sacred Space and that was a lot of fun - and then she wrote out a number of biblical prophecies regarding the coming of Christ on the puzzle, and put each "scene" with its verse in a gift bag in a manger full of hay. This room was lit by table lamps and Christmas lights, and it was fun to see people grouped around tables putting sections of the puzzle together - together - and learning both from the experience and from the verses on the puzzle about how God designed this incredible Story.

At the end of the hall is our "theatre" room - and punk rock Christmas music themed what we called "Winter Wonderland." Around the room stood a variety of Christmas lawn ornaments - snowmen, etc. The industrial ceiling was wrapped with lights and hung with paper snowflakes. The floor was covered in shredded paper to simulate snow, and piles of wadded up newspapers served as imitation snowballs. (We'd hoped to do this station outside, but the snow came on Tuesday - so we went for warm and indoors instead.) :) I missed it, but I hear the snowball fights were a ton of fun. :) There was also a table off to the side where you could read Psalm 139 and make a snowflake to represent your uniqueness in the body of Christ.

Our outdoor station was my favorite. Just across from the main entrance to the church is a field that's still mildly lit by the lamps in the parking lot, but dark enough you can see the stars yet, too. Out in the field was a manger and a cross, and the opportunity to go for a walk and reflect on those two symbols of our faith and their significance. At the end of the time alloted for stations, we gathered back together in the sanctuary and moved into a time of worship and communion, but I decided to duck out for a minute to visit that station, since I hadn't been there yet - and I walked out the door to see the cross up on the hill as the band was singing about the healing that comes through the cross, and it was a beautiful, sacred moment.

I'm not sure anything else in the night topped it, tho a close second was when I walked through the sanctuary at one point, and saw a girl sitting alone at the poetry corner, writing away with such a look of sheer joy on her face that it inspired me to worship in my own heart as well.

And this is why I love Sacred Space so much. I will never know all that God did in and through the people who were there - but I know He was at work - and I know that we encountered Him in some pretty amazing and creative ways. I can't think of much that brings me more joy than that. :)

greco-hebraic laugh of the day

HT: ASBO Jesus

5:00 AM Devos: Thankfulness - Day 2

Well, once again it's 5:00am somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but hey, at least I'm actually writing. :) It's been a busy couple of weeks, what with gearing up for Sacred Space, the event itself, and cleaning up after it. There are still boxes from it piled in my basement that need to be sorted out - but they can wait. Catching up on sleep and getting rid of this cold are a little more important. :) But more on Sacred Space later...

Thankfulness - Day 2

"The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer." (Psalm 6:9)

I am thankful for prayer. Someone once told me that prayer is God's gift to us; He doesn't "need" it, per se - He knows everything anyway - but He knew we needed it. We need to be able to talk to God - and we need to be able to hear from Him. So He created this amazing thing called prayer, and gave us a zillion and one creative ways to engage in it. We can pray with our words, with our paints, with our dancing, our singing, and even with our silence at times. And He speaks to us in so many ways - through creation's beauty and intricacy, through music, through our friends, a line we read in a book or heard in a movie - and yes, through silence, too.

I am grateful that we have a God to whom communication is so important. I love that word, "communication" - rooted in the same word that "community" comes from - it has this sense of coming together, of being with the person with whom (or with Whom) you're communicating. And He is Emmanuel, God with us. I love that.

Thank You.

5:00am Devos: Thankfulness - Day 1

My friend Rachel has tagged me in a meme, 5 Things I'm Thankful For. It was kicked off a couple of weeks ago by John over at SmuloSpace, and is still going strong.

When Rachel tagged me, she said (and I quote): "can't help it, I think it might be a blessing for you right now!"

She's right.

So I am answering the tag, but I am also going to stretch it out a bit, because I need more than one day to be thankful. So at least for the next 5 days, there will be thankfulness posts.

I had this brilliant idea a few days ago that for all of December I would try to do a 5:00am devo post. (note the sarcasm and irony in that word: brilliant.) This idea did not take into consideration the opportunity to sleep in on weekends, nor my general inability to function that early in the morning, nor the fact that I probably won't have access to email long enough to post over the Christmas hols... still, I think 5:00am Devos sounds like a good title for a series, so here goes - and it is 5:00am somewhere for some whale in the Pacific Ocean... speaking of which (tangent), Greenpeace is holding a vote to name the whales in a pod they've been following, and so far the name of choice is Mister Splashy Pants. Please go vote, and stop the madness... :)

Thankfulness - Day 1

Psalm 1:1-3 - "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." (NIV)

I am thankful for time - both kairos and chronos:

for new seasons, new days, new weeks, new years, new beginnings of many sorts

for the changes that time brings: to the earth,
to life, to us

for the patterns by which we mark it: for holidays, for liturgy

for the ability to look back and see where we've been and how we've grown and changed, to both learn from our mistakes and celebrate His victories

for God's patience and love shown through time - His forbearance with us, and the delay of His return so that as many might know Him as possible - tho so much of my soul cries, please come soon! and that is good and right as well...

and for today, December 1st - which is the first day that Baker's Square will have their candy cane pie - and you can bet that I'm going to go get one. :)

I tag: Rob, Sara, Kevin, Amy, and Josh.

1. Post 5 things you are thankful for
2. Tag 5 friends to take part also
3. Link back to John's post (optional) and encourage others to leave a link in his comments section back to their completed post as well.

today in this faerie tale

(HT: ASBO Jesus)

I love this. And I'm so glad that there are people in my life who have been that helpful.

Sorry it's been such a quiet week here at the Shift. Mentally, not so quiet, just nothing coherent on paper/screen yet. I'm in the middle of what feels like a major plate shift, and the world's a little topsy-turvy. I am alternately Gretel in a Bavarian forest following a trail of bread crumbs only to discover the birds have eaten some of them, Rapunzel in a tower with no hope of rescue save a miracle, and Briar Rose, trying desperately not to prick her finger on a spindle and fall asleep.

And yet the reality is far different from what I feel. It's a weird juxtaposition of worlds I'm living in just now. It feels dark and lonely, a little chilly and frightening, and while I'm aware that I'm hiking in the King's forest - and that nothing happens here that's out of His control - the individual trees are freaking me out... and yet the promise is that on the other side of this is the promised land, the "what's next" for which I've been looking for so long... The trail will be made straight and obvious and will lead me home. There's imminent hope of a rescue. And even if I do prick my finger, I'm in a kingdom chock full of excellent dragon slayers who are generally happy to chop through all the brush to get into the castle once the dragons are dispensed with, and the Prince of Peace is on His way. It's almost Christmas. I am in a good place, I know it - I just wish I could feel it. Sometimes being an artist is not all that fun. I know my art would suffer for lack of angst, but I could stand a little less of it some days. :P

Anyway, more to follow, hopefully less melancholy, as time permits. It's been a crazy week.

refrigerator poetry

If you haven't guessed, I'm procrastinating. :)

My refrigerator is home to a very large collection of magnetic words, which are currently in their third go-round of the year. At the moment, they've been rearranged into particularly lovely set of phrases, and while I should probably take them down (as the freezer door, home to the actual poetry, is getting quite full), I'm enjoying them too much. A number of them are actually quite wise, and have taught me some things. (And not one of my friends has yet thought to put the words "no," "ice," and "cream" together yet. Phew...) :)

For your enjoyment: a small glimpse into Happy-land, or at least at its freezer door...

"fall through that cool mist of honeylike bluelessness"

"we must trudge no bitter moments but love eternity"

"crush want: then self will never soar"

"you are a delicate gorgeous diamond in God's eyes"

"awesome chocolate is as rain water to most women"

"ache but shine with felt raw weakness"

"have a good cry but will to leave singing better"

"it's a gift, this being a delirious woman thing"

"love is not easy but is still most essential for knowing the sweet whisper of a spring symphony in a winter forest"

"a man blows rose petal winds to a woman's heart"

"beneath the storm this girl will worship"

"languid lake music puts lazy dreams to sleep"

"why stare at your ugly dress and ask y"

"smear two languages together incubating tongues"

"some make juice under the shadow of the moon"

"elaborate beauty is undertrue"

"every boy smells a little something like sausage once"

"here and there, we bed with summery gratitude and come away friends with an enormous love for light"

"never feel frantic but fiddle through life"

"she could"

"recall the vision"

"give it time"

I have wise friends. And I waste way too much time staring at my refrigerator...

"as He alone knows to be best..."

This morning I got a forward from my sister, with the words of George Washington's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of 1789 in it. Thanksgiving Day apparently was intended as a day to thank God for His blessings to us as a nation, particularly in the forms of our independence and government. Not a word about turkeys or Pilgrims or anything else! (phew... i was really starting to question the sanity of a national holiday about a dinner which incidentally historically might not have happened quite the way it's been portrayed across thousands of elementary school stages, so i've heard...) :)

I will stay away from all the political ideals set forth in Washington's speech - I think they're cool, if more visionary than practical, but my general approach to politics is to stay out of them - and I've no wish to start a debate. But I will say that I find it interesting that the secondary purpose of the original holiday was to, as a nation, come before God with repentant hearts for our national transgressions as well as our personal ones. Imagine if we actually did that! If, like the nation of Israel did so often in Scripture, an entire nation - anywhere in the world - told God they were sorry and honestly looked to Him for direction.... like I said, it's visionary. :) But fun to dream about a world in which that could happen...

There were several other points of note in Washington's speech - there's probably an entire book of historical/political commentary that could be written on his various points, but what really jumped out at me was how the proclamation ended: with a prayer/hope that God would "generally...grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best." It was those last seven words that leapt off the page for me... "as He alone knows to be best."

Those are such faithful words... expressing the reality that God is to be trusted...

There are any number of places I could take this post right now. I've mentally gone down the rabbit trail already (and deleted it) about world hunger, and the Church's need to respond to the things in the world that are not God's best for mankind... and why those things exist, and how Washington's statement could be argued against, etc.... but that isn't where I want to go. All I want to convey is that sometimes I don't trust God to know what's best for me - and I want to.

I told Faintnot this last night - I could feel God's Spirit most of yesterday tugging at my heart to come away, to be quiet, to listen. There are things He wants to say - things I need to hear - things to be done - things to be learned. I have been in a season of constant heartache/heartbreak for over a month now, and it is time to come out of that. I don't understand entirely what it is my heart is breaking over - and I think God wants me to begin to "get it" now... so I am stepping out into a season of "Shhhhh....-ness" and waiting... waiting. Or trying to, anyway. :)

Perfect timing. It's almost Advent.

na'aseh v'nishma

There's a concept called na'aseh v'nishma; which means: "we will do and we will hear" or "we will do and we will understand."* It's about doing your faith, and coming to understand what it is you already believe as you practice it. Lauren Winner explains it a lot better than that, but that's the gist of it, I think.

As I was mulling over the concept in the sleepless wee hours of the morning, it brought to mind a verse from Psalm 3: "I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me." (v. 5) There's a pattern to life, even when we feel totally out of control. The nights might be shorter, but we do lie down and sleep eventually, and we do wake up - so already there's a structure, a consistency we rely on and live by without always realizing it's there... and so too with our faith sometimes. "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth"... etc. and I do, though I am not thinking of it every minute. There is a pattern and structure to how I live - to why I live - to what I do with this life God has given me, and I don't always think of it, and I don't always understand it, but I live according to it, much as I live according the sleep cycles written into the fabric of my existence, and in some ways, much as I breathe.

Breathing. Now there's a life-giving rhythm. It happens automatically; we don't think about it at all, most of the time. But when we start to pay attention - when we consciously time it, slowing down, breathing deeper, thinking about it more - we suddenly find ourselves calming, even when we hadn't realized how frenetic a pace we'd been keeping. And I think na'aseh v'nishma is similar to that on a faith level - we do the things we know to do and we keep on doing them, and as we begin to pay attention to them, suddenly things begin to make sense - either again, or for the first time, or in a new way. At least, I hope so. There's a lot that feels like it just doesn't make sense right now, and I am living on two planes at once: a plane on which I know that God is in control and has a plan better than mine (a plane on which God is meeting me daily through people all over everywhere speaking very similar things into my life, and it's all good stuff, laden with hope) - and a plane on which I am weary and worried and anxious because I do not understand the things that He is saying - not the way I want to, not with the details I think I should know... But there isn't a question which of those two planes I should jump to and stay on...

His way, all the way, of course. Of course. So na'aseh v'nishma - I will do what I know to do and hope - no, trust - that it is all going to work out, somehow. Because it will. And it will be greater than I dreamed.

*according to Lauren Winner in Mudhouse Sabbath, p. x; this Hebrew phrase is found in Exodus 24

WWJS - alternative answer

A possible alternative answer to the meme:

"Do this, Hap."

(HT: ASBO Jesus)

Sometimes that's easier said than done, but everything else is easier once it's done, so it's worth doing, even if it isn't easy. If that makes any sense...

Madeleine L'Engle said this:

Peace is not placidity: peace is
The power to endure the megatron of pain
With joy, the silent thunder of release,
The ordering of Love.
Peace is the atom's start,
The primal image: God within the heart.

I'm not sure why that hit me so hard today, but it did, and I guess maybe it's simply that my heart feels pain-full and peace-less but it isn't. Because, as Sara said earlier today in her response to the tag - God is with us. God is If I really understood that, half of all "this" wouldn't matter nearly so much as it feels like it does sometimes.

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

what would Jesus say to me?

Faintnot and Rachel have tagged me in a meme entitled "what would Jesus say to me?"

Good question. :)

The meme started over at Lord, I Believe. The question is: if you met Jesus in person, the way people in the Bible did, what would He say to you? Reading the original idea and a few things others have written, I am torn between three responses....

1) I have absolutely no idea.

2) simply this: "Trust Me."

3) from the Word: Proverbs 3:5-6
John 14:1

Somehow, tho, I expect if I were walking down a dusty path in Israel and encountered Jesus in person, the conversation would be a little longer than that. Either that, or He would look at me and the compassion and understanding in His eyes would completely undo me....

I tag: Sara, Jake, and Josh.

eine gemeinde

I wish you could be here in this moment.

It isn't the lights, and it isn't the band. It isn't the phenomenal speakers, or the tech crew that's worked so hard to pull this Kongress off. It's the Presence of God in an arena turned temple, and in the temple of His people.

Looking around this room tonight, at faces shining with joy, at raised hands and dancing feet, at brothers and sisters from at least eight countries worshiping the King, I am humbled and awed at the greatness and the grandeur of our amazing God. He is so good.

What kind of a God would handpick these people on a tech team and put them in a cold and drafty building for a few long (but short) days, to do all the prep work that allows this people - His people - to gather and worship with abandon and passion?

An incredibly good God. A God who knows each one of us. Who knows our stories. Who knows our heartaches. Who sees our potential. Who believes in what we can be. An incredibly good God who reminds us of His goodness by incredibly extravagant acts of love. An incredibly good God who answers prayer in ways we could never imagine. An incredibly good God who has a plan so complex and so woven with love...if we could really see it, we would be blown away.

There is nothing like standing in the middle of a room full of people singing a song you know in another language to reorient you to how big a God we serve, and to readjust your vision to what is really important. "Thank You" feels inadequate. It doesn't do justice to how grateful I am for the privilege of worshiping here in this house - for the privilege of being wanted by the King of the Universe, and chosen as one loved to play a role in this Story He's writing - for the privilege of being His daughter. It doesn't do justice to how glad I am to be a follower of Jesus, to be singing His praises in another language, to be loved by this incredible God. But for lack of anything better to say, I will simply say... thank You. Thank You, Jesus, for the gift of this week, for the gift of this day, for the gift of this moment. Thank You for being who You are, and for making me - every day - a little more like You. I love you, Jesus.

Last night at dinner, a friend from the church here in Germany stood and reminded us that although we are from other countries, and other languages, we are still needed here - because we are family. We are one church, one body, one temple of His Spirit.

May we finally get it. May we see, with ever increasing clarity, how to be who He says we are.

We cannot do it alone.

So I pray, as we sang just a few moments ago: Komm in Vollmacht und Kraft, o Herr!

Come in power. Fill us with Your Spirit. And make us a people who make Your Name famous, by the way we love each other.


a quick update

Well, rehearsal day is over, and we're heading home for the night. 7:00am tomorrow we start a last minute run-thru of the first two sessions, and at 9:00am the conference begins. Many, many things to do yet! We have yet to see powerpoint up on the screens for any significant length of time. That's a little nerve-wracking. There are small things here and there that haven't come together, and I saw some of the guys repainting a door backstage a couple minutes ago. We could definitely use some prayer tonight and tomorrow - but we know God will come through as He always does, and it will be an incredible day.

Can't wait to tell you all about it.

Hannah's prayer

Her name is Hannah. She's an older woman, tall, laugh lines, grey hair, visibly someone who has weathered much but done it with that deep joy that marks those who follow Him. Wrapped in her dark dress coat and a brightly colored scarf, she follows us into the arena where our tech crew will soon begin the long haul of a million things that need to be done in the next three days, setting up for the conference that will begin here on Thursday.

"We pray for this," she says. "Years ago when first they begin building this place, we stand here, and we pray. We ask God that someday the Christians will come and worship in this arena. Last year for the first time, the Christians are gathering to worship here, and now you come. You are God's answer. We are so excited for this."


Two days from now, Willow Creek Deutschland will hold the first ever women's conference in Germany. It has a slightly different connotation here than in the states - at least half the people attending the conference will be men - definitely no Women of Faith type event! But the topic for the conference is the role of women in ministry, which has never been addressed so publicly here before. And as someone said yesterday, "After this, everything will be different."

How cool is it that God has allowed me to be here for such a time as this, to see and to pray in a watershed moment in the life of His church? I am humbled and awed to have some small role to play in this part of the story.

a bit of perspective

This made me laugh, and I wanted to share it with you. Jon Birch is quickly becoming one of my favorite people. :)

(HT: ASBO Jesus)

Me too. Tho I won't complain if there are moments reminiscent of the Indigo Girls. But somehow, I suspect that even music will have a whole new definition.

I can hardly wait to find out! There are definitely days I am more homesick for heaven than others, and today is a homesick day.

a simple prayer

2 Corinthians 12:9 - "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

This is a truth for which I am grateful tonight.

God, grant me the grace I need to be faithful and true to Your will and Your way.


conversations that may imply some things

although i'm not quite sure what...

Conversation #1 - between me and Thoughtful Kindergarten Boy:

TKB - (singing an... interesting, but catchy song about a moon)
"I really like this song."

me - Do you really? I think it's kind of a silly song. The moon can't take care of you.

TKB - (laughs) No, that's God.

me - Yes, TKB. God takes care of you.

(thoughtful pause on the part of TKB)

TKB - Maybe the moon tells Santa Claus when all of everybody is asleep on Christmas Eve.

Conversation #2 - between me and Potty-Training Over-Tired Toddler

PTOTT - (incoherent meltdown while sitting on the potty just before nap - something about her nose being red...?)

me - What's the matter?!

PTOTT - (more incoherency, accompanied by trembling lower lip and gigantic crocodile tears puddling and spilling over in heart-wrenchingly sad eyes)

me - Here... come wash your hands, and then you can have a potty treat. Chocolate makes everything better. Chocolate and Jesus; that's all you need. Well... Jesus first, then chocolate.

PTOTT - (washes hands and smiles through tears)

At which point I fed her chocolate and then read her a Bible story....

trust and obey

Yet another hymn from the walking jukebox of my head, with lyrical recollection help from

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we'll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.*

*Trust and Obey words by John H. Sammis, music by Daniel B. Towner

I've had that refrain going over and over in my head for hours... "trust and obey, there is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey..." It's true; I know it's true. It's just tough sometimes. But difficulty is not an excuse. He never said this was going to be easy. I only hoped it would be.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Lord, I do believe! Help my unbelief, I pray... Mark 9:23-24

friendship with God

I've been thinking (among other things) about friendship, and what it really means, and the differences between friendship and acquaintanceship and everything in between - and last night, in mad association, my jukebox of a brain began playing an old hymn. Of course, in my head I was hearing the horrible "jazzed up" version from a badly done praise record someone had given me in college, that I used to play for fun to annoy my roommate. :) (Remember this one, Sara?) Horrible as the arrangement was, I have always loved the words to this song:

What a Friend We Have in Jesus
by Joseph Scriven and Charles C. Converse

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer!

Are we weak and heavy laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge,
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He'll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.


To which I can only say:

I love you, O LORD, my strength.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

(Psalm 18:1-2)

Thank You, Jesus

(HT: ASBO Jesus)

But the good news is eventually these pieces will all fit together. Thank You, Jesus.

unChristian meme

Heather has tagged me in a meme - based on a book entitled unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity...and Why It Matters. I haven't read the book yet, tho Chris and I saw it on a bookshelf at Barnes and Noble not too long ago, and he commented (without having read it either) that it was the kind of book that by time you finished reading it, all the information would probably be outdated because the pattern of thought in our culture changes so quickly. I haven't read the book, so I have no informed opinion on either the book or Chris' comment - but I have at least two cents worth of something to say on the topic in general. :)

(btw, if you don't know what a meme is, the definition is here - i had to look it up. i learned three new words yesterday!) :)

Here's the task for the meme: name 3 negative perceptions about Christians, and 1 positive thing Christians should be known for.

side note: (tongue-in-cheek) I think Christians should be known for being more positive. I mean, really - 3 negative things to one positive? And we wonder why people don't like us... but i didn't start this one, so i'll just do the homework...

I would like to state the obvious, tho, and say that my thoughts here only apply to the church as I've experienced it here in the United States. I suspect that a lot of this might not hold up in 3rd world churches, and as such, this is simply a bit of solicited commentary on the church in my corner of the world, and not on the Church universal - the Church, of course, being comprised of Christians.

negative perception #1: Christians are all a bunch of hypocrites.

Yep. Pretty much. We say one thing, but do another; we spout a lot of ideals, but we all pretty much fail miserably at attaining to any of them.

negative perception #2: Christians are snobs.

Yep. We can be.

negative perception #3: Christians are isolationists. (If you're not one of them, you don't belong.)

Again, guilty as charged. We have a tendency, especially in the West, to cloister in our buildings and stick with our small groups and a few friends, and call it good, in the name of stewarding our time well.

What Christians should be known for: in a word - love. But not the frilly, fancy, red paper hearts, sappy valentine type love that doesn't mean anything. Real love. Tough love.

Love that is patient when it could be easily frustrated.

Love that is kind when it could have chosen to be cruel.

Love that isn't envious of the blessings of others even in the absence of blessing to itself.

Love that is humble and quiet, not boastful and self-centered.

Love that chooses to forget the wrongs done to it; love that refuses to stay angry, even though it has every right to be upset.

Love that rejoices with everything that is good and true and right in the world, and weeps over that which is not.

Love that protects fiercely, that trusts unyieldingly even when it doesn't understand, that hopes unswervingly against all odds, and that perseveres no matter what.

Love that refuses to fail.

Love that embraces grace, that extends it, that doesn't give up.

Love that recognizes it can't be earned.

Love that mourns sin and celebrates repentance.

Love that is meek enough - gentle enough - to both hear and tell the truth.

Love that hungers for righteousness.

Love that extends mercy.

Love that is pure in heart.

Love that seeks peace, at great cost to itself.

Love that will not shy away from persecution of any kind, because its purpose is greater than any temporary pain.

Love that is...Love.*

(He is also known as Jesus.)

Christian is a word that means "little Christ." We should be known for being like Him.

But as Christians, we live between two worlds - the world we're leaving and the world we're going to. We are people on a journey, who are experiencing a fundamental shift from who we once were to who we really are but haven't quite become yet. Hence the stereotypes and negative opinions and caricatures that abound in the world among those for whom Love died and rose again, who are either blinded by or haven't seen the Light yet. They don't see who we're becoming. Heck, we don't even see it all the time. But God does, and as we continue to grow, our eyesight adjusts and we begin to see even more clearly than we once did. (1 Corinthians 13:12) And Christ said that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-15) - so it is our responsibility to help people stop seeing spots and start seeing the world around them by His light. Maybe it's our fault that people can't see properly - or maybe God just hasn't allowed their eyes to adjust properly yet to the Light in the darkness around them - but the Light does shine in the darkness, tho the darkness has not understood it - and the darkness will not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

So then, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:7-8

* 1 Corinthians 13 and Matthew 5: 1-12

So, in love, I tag:
1. Chris
2. Amy
3. faintnot
4. Rob
5. Jemila

Happy writing, my friends. :)

prayer at the end of a day in which (honestly) i was not the best version of myself...

Thank you, God
for these 15 seconds of peace
and quiet
in which I can notice
that I am - in fact -
still breathing in and out
that birds are still chirping
and that You
are still here.
for the absence of kids screaming
about one thing or another
and for the quieting
of my angst-ridden heart.

This hasn't been the best day in the world
and I've been a lousy witness to You and Your glory.
Forgive me -
and thank you again -
for grace, mercy, chocolate, and coffee
and for understanding about sleep-deprivation
and PMS
and really not wanting to move.


loving successfully - redefined

My friend Heather over in Australia has a brilliant post that was also her communion message at church this morning. Check it out here.

God is not dead - and neither is His bride

Perhaps one of the more famous things Nietzsche ever said was that God is dead - and in context he didn't mean it that way - but in response to that, so many have said, "No, He's not!" And they're right - He isn't.

I have the words to an old camp song in my head - a slightly annoying, but true and catchy song:

God's not dead - He is alive
God's not dead - He is alive
God's not dead - He is alive
And I know that He's living in me.

"Christ in me, the hope of glory." Thank you, Louie Giglio, for your now-famous Tupperware sermon and the assurance that even if I become a demented old lady, I will still remember that Christ is in me.

A sister in Christ on the other side of the Pond posted today on the question of whether or not the church is dying. I felt compelled to comment, and thought I would post my reflections here as well:

I'm reminded of this time when I heard a prophet/missionary teach at a Vineyard church in Indiana, over 12 years ago, I think - he had actually prayed for someone to be raised from the dead - but it took about 6 hours of fervent prayer before it happened. (I'm not sure I would keep praying past the 1st hour, but he was in high stakes circumstances - the witch doctor in the village basically told him to prove God existed or die, and the proof he asked for was the resurrection of the dead.)

Now I'm sure the guy was actually dead and that God did raise him, and I KNOW that He did that with Jesus, so even IF the Church was dying (which some say she is) God can certainly do something about it. HE'S not apt to show up to the marriage feast without His Bride, I don't think.

So what remains, maybe, is simply that the organization we call the church is in need of, as usual, re-forming - and that those parts of the Bride that ARE exhibiting signs of death, rather than being symptomatic of the whole Church dying, are simply the branches Christ talked about in the parable of the vine and the branches. Those that don't bear fruit aren't ultimately going to be kept - but those that DO - oh! :)

I am also reminded of a scene from one of my generation's most popular movies on this side of the Pond - "The Princess Bride." They bring the main character to Miracle Max, thinking he's dead, and Max says, "He's not dead. He's only mostly dead. And mostly dead is slightly alive."

I think the Church is more than slightly alive. There are people added to her number every single day around the world. There is HOPE. And she has a King who is madly in love with her, and would fight - DID fight - to the death for her.

And He won.