*expletive deleted*

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
- Ephesians 5:1-4

This is actually a post about expletives, and it does actually have a few in it, so if you think it's possible you might be offended, please feel free to skip the rest of it. :)

I read those verses not too long ago, and the bit about not using obscenities or coarse joking sort of stuck with me. I have a few guy friends who tell some pretty bad jokes. They're funny - but they're in bad taste. Ok... now that I'm thinking about it, some of them are funny, but mostly they're in bad taste. And me? I tend to swear a little bit when I'm really frustrated, and it's starting to bug me. I'll use foreign swear words sometimes - "bugger" was my favorite for awhile - but words like that don't mean the same thing in the States as they do elsewhere, and so it doesn't really feel like swearing, tho I'm sure a proper English grandmother would be horrified. But recently I find the word "sh**" coming out a lot more often - when I'm late, when I make a mistake, when I drop something on my toe... and it's bothering me.

"Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks," right? So where is this coming from? I'm not sure, but I am trying to delete those expletives from my vocabulary, with varying degrees of success - and if I feel the need to verbalize something, I'm trying to consciously at least say "Chitaqua" or "sassafras" instead of *expletive deleted* (which actually kind of makes me laugh...)

So as I've been thinking this through, and trying to discipline my tongue a little more, a friend of mine posted a link to a great xkcd cartoon. I've needed this reminder from the Lord, that obscenities simply aren't to be part of my normative speech patterns; I need to be more intentional about what I do and don't say, and I will keep working on it. But this cartoon reminded me of the extreme value that a well-placed expletive can have. I mean, even Paul swore once, to make a point:

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
- Philippians 3:7-9

(I hear the Greek word for ... um, rubbish... isn't exactly translated correctly as rubbish. I think it's actually supposed to be ... sassafras, lol.)

So here is a classic reminder from Randall Munroe that sometimes a well-placed expletive really does say it all:


The true irony is that I needed to hear that too.... :)

fueling up for a long drive somewhere

I had the weirdest dream just before I woke up this morning. It was winter, and I lived in this big house with a courtyard, and it had snowed. My car was parked in this courtyard. I was all angsty with whomever else it was who lived in the house (the details leading up to this point are vague in my memory), and it was early morning. I left to go get breakfast at a restaurant nearby, and discovered my car was running on close to empty, but fortunately there was a gas station next door to the restaurant. Which, by the way, had big glass windows - everyone in the restaurant could see the happenings in the gas station parking lot.

So I get to the gas station, and I'm all out of sorts and tired and crabby, and I have trouble getting into a spot by a pump, and my car is still covered in snow. I get out of my car to pump gas, and suddenly I'm not sure about anything. Is this my car or someone else's? Which side is the gas tank on again? I dig thru the snow on the side of my car and find a cap that looks right, assume this is where the gas goes, swipe my card at the pump and start pumping gas. Only to realize a few minutes later, as I'm blinking blearily at my car, that this isn't right. I'm pumping gas into what I thought was the gas tank, but isn't - I'm at the front of my car, about a foot in front of the side mirror. I stop in embarrasment, hoping no one has noticed, and move toward the back of the car. Ah, here we go. I pop open the cap and start pumping gas again. It soon spills over, and I look in horror - I'm still not pumping gas into the right tank in my car! This one is just in front of the side mirror. What?! Finally I get to where my gas tank really is, and I can hear the gas sloshing into the empty tank. I am mortified - and by now, people are watching. I feel like the whole restaurant is watching, and certainly the other people at the pumps have noticed by now, and an attendant has come out of the gas station to see if he can help.

I explain the situation, in complete embarrassment, but am far more comfortable asking this kind stranger who might know the answers than I am about the prospect of going home and telling my mechanic what I've done. My biggest fear is that I've totally messed up the car - that putting gasoline in the wrong places will make it stop running, or worse, explode.

The attendant waits for me to finish pumping gas, and walks me thru what I've done. This first cap, he says, delivers fluid directly to the engine. A passerby jokes that hey, at least I was trying to be efficient - too bad it doesn't work that way. It won't hurt the car, says the attendant - it'll burn off really fast as I drive, and no, the car will not explode. This next cap, he explains (and keep in mind, all three really do look the same) is where all sorts of fluids are delivered to the engine -antifreeze, water, etc. This isn't the greatest place to put gas either - it'll mix with the other fluids and make them less productive, but the car will still work - just not as efficiently. I might want to talk to my mechanic about draining this tank and refilling all the compartments with the proper, undiluted-by-gasoline fluids - but I'll be okay to drive home and to the mechanic's at least. And he knows I'm embarrassed, but I really do need to tell the mechanic what happened and get my car cleaned out a bit so it will run more effectively.

This third cap, he says, is where gas really should go, and good job on finding it. Gas needs to be processed thru the established distribution system in my car to work the most efficiently. So long term, no damage, but my car will need some minor work to get in good shape again, and here, by the way, is the bill. It is expensive. This entire endeavor was way more costly than it needed to be...

It seems to me that God was trying to say something thru this dream, even if it was simply that I am trying to fuel myself, not with the wrong things, but maybe in the wrong ways, and that what I really need is to do it His way... but I'm wondering if any of you have any insights?

south pickerel

You know that whole visual identification thing you have to do sometimes to write comments on a blog or send an attachment to someone? The one I had tonight was "South pickerel."

It made me grin. :) And now I totally want to ride a steamboat down the Mississippi and have a pickle, and fish and chips...

random ramblings, vol. 2

Hello, blogosphere! So much I want to write about, so little time to actually do it this week...

1) This is actually not due to the "normally" busy schedule I tend to keep. This week has its own particular brand of insanity, as it is the week before Sacred Space. Sacred Space, for lack of a better explanation, is a multi-station, interactive worship event, and one of my favoritest things ever. Pictures to come, post-event - they will explain much better than I ever could.

2) I've been thinking a lot about persevering prayer lately. I have always loved the image in Revelation (I forget the reference, but I will try to look it up later) about how the prayers of the saints are like incense that fills up a censer in heaven, and when it is full, it tips, and the answer comes pouring down to earth. I poured a lot of incense into a particular censer last year, and I remember the day it just felt finished... but lately, I've been feeling like I need to pour in a little bit more - like the censer wasn't quite full, but maybe I needed a rest, or someone else was taking a turn, and now it's my turn again. Not quite sure what to make of it, but I'm re-reading Dutch Sheets' book, Intercessory Prayer, and it's helping to shape my prayers a little more boldly.

3) I really love a lot of the music from a band called Carbon Leaf, and I just found out today that they have a new album coming out. This makes me randomly very happy.

4) I am also very happy because the SUN is out today. Yay, sun! :)

5) I am without vehicle for the week, and I have to say - I am actually finding it somewhat freeing. I can't go anywhere that I can't walk or bike to, unless I hitch a ride, and I'm okay with that. Now granted, this is probably because I'm getting my car back on Saturday, and I planned ahead and went grocery shopping last weekend, but still. It's kind of nice - not being able to make commitments to go places and do things, I'm not making them. So in the midst of a really busy week, I have 15 minutes to sit down and blog, and more time to rest than I otherwise might have had, because I'll be home in the evenings instead of running around town. This was good timing!

random ramblings, vol. 1

Jen at Conversion Diary hosts what she calls "seven quick takes" every Friday - basically a mass syncroblog for everyone to say seven random things, maybe about things going on in their lives, maybe not. :) I know a couple of people who periodically participate, and I enjoy reading Jen's blog, but I've not jumped on the bandwagon yet. I've thought about it, but I'm not sure I have seven things to say, and I'm pretty sure Fridays won't be a routine blogging day, especially once I start working summer hours and have more time to bike as the days get longer - and there's nothing like jumping for a bandwagon and missing it, landing flat on your face in the dust kicked up by the departing wagon.

So - in an effort to not be quite such an absentee blogger, and to keep you updated on not necessarily always the main events in my life, but at least some of them - Random Ramblings, vol. 1. The number of random items will be random from volume to volume and the distance between volumes will be random as well, but at least I'll be rambling along about something, and who knows what might end up having a point? Velociraptor Awareness Day seems to have had one... :)

1) Today is Kentucky Derby Day. So despite the beautiful weather, I am home, blogging and watching the pre-race coverage. Yep, for six weeks every year I am almost a horse-racing fan. ;) It's my mom's fault, introducing me to the Black Stallion books one summer. We've watched the race almost every year that I can remember, and I still do, even though I'm far from home. I only watch the Triple Crown races, generally, but it's fun, and someday, I would really love to go to Kentucky and watch the Derby live. Just to say I did.

2) I really want a Hot Buttered Rum from J.P.'s. sigh. It's one of the best lattes ever. Hopefully I will be able to go home in June and get one. I have had coffee in 5 other countries, including Austria, and I still think J.P.'s is the best. Tho I will grant you that Vienna has good coffee, and I will not complain about going back there someday. :)

3) I am really excited about June in general, mostly because for the first time ever I am actually taking my team to the Willow Creek Arts Conference. My pastor's coming too, and I think it's going to be invaluable team-bonding and resource-finding time. (Cathy, if you're coming this year we totally have to have dinner!) :)

4) At some point this year I will be taking another road trip with Jesus. I have seven days of vacation left, so if I plan it right around a weekend, I could have a 9-day break, which would be awesome. The question is, where to go, and when? :) I should probably decide soon. Suggestions, anyone? :)

5) I'm also itching to go on another missions trip soon. South Africa would be cool... and wow. I'm starting to see a theme in all this randomness... apparently I am really itching to get out of here. lol. :) That's actually not all that surprising, actually. For most of my life post-college, one of three things has changed about every 12-18 months: my job, my home, or my church. Not sure why - I've always felt pretty led towards those changes, and it's just the way it's been. So after about 18 months of anything I start to get a little antsy. I've been here for three and a half years now, and sure, there have been changes ministry-wise in that time, and church-planting is no small thing, but it's all been such a natural, organic sort of change - it's not like I picked up and changed denominations or something... So no wonder I'm getting antsy... And yet, in spite of the wanderlust kicking up in my soul, I still feel like His word on the subject is stay. So I'm staying...

but I'm looking forward to those road trips, too. ;)