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.