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.