Saturday, December 17, 2011


Tomorrow is my birthday. True story. When people ask me how old I'm turning, I've been telling them, "21...again."

It's not that I have any problem with my age. For some reason, I actually have less qualms about the age I'm turning than other ages I've turned. I think it's just amusing for me to maintain that air of mystery (which I don't think I normally do).

"How old are you turning?"


"Oh And how many times have you turned twenty-one before?"

"...At least once." :D

Frupcake! (A cupcake that you get for free.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

26 and *sparklers*

Perhaps there are people in life with whom we are just meant to interact. (It's an idea I've been wondering since last week.) There's that inexplicable draw - an attraction of curiosity - an innate *knowledge* that this person is someone with whom I need to talk, or work, or play, or...whatever. I discovered that for some people, talking with them releases me of my desire to interact with them again - not to say, "Oh wow, that went badly. I hope I never speak with again because he or she is such a bore/terrible person/etc." It's more like, "Okay, we talked. They seem nice. We didn't connect...and that's okay." But until that interaction happens, just the sight of them makes one's pulse quicken. It's the "I need to talk with them. I need to approach them. We need to interact. Now, how do I make that happen without being awkward/overeager?" Delightfully, so many of these interactions (at least for me) reveal some sort of kindred spirit in one way or another.

* * *

On Sunday I met a man and ended up talking with him for four hours. I came away with the conclusion that he understands grace better than I do. For some reason, I find that borderline frightening - this lack of definition that "this" is how we "should" all look and behave. And yet, I feel a slight rush at the thought of that much freedom.

I intellectually understand the deep-seeded truth that Christianity is not about being moral. And yet, I need examples that I can touch and interact with in order to fully know that. (I guess it's like the difference between knowing that honey is sweet, and actually tasting it.*)
*out of context shout-out to Jonathan Edwards

From our conversation, the words of Martin Luther still bounce around in my head:

If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong*, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God's glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner.
* Other translations offer, "Sin boldly." (You can read the whole letter here.)

It's funny: in reflecting on this, my knee-jerk reaction when I first heard it was, "Oh no! But then we will have chaos!" (I think that "chaos" is putting it lightly.) However, the reassurance that washed over me (almost just as quickly as my alarm) was the thought that a trust in Christ that is stronger than the weightiness of our sins will act to organically "control" our behavior. It's the old question of, "Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?"
I ran across a very loose, wonderful paraphrase of Romans 6 in a blog that provided the answer as, "You love Jesus now, and hate your sins." I don't think it's check list - as if to say, "Do *this*, and do *this.*" I think it's more like the one (our love for Christ) will cause the other (the hatred of our sins). And, yet, in sinning "boldly" or "with strength" (whichever translation you like best) we remove our masks of *righteousness* and in humility admit our fallenness. I think that's what Luther's letter and Romans 6 all very much revolve around: transparency, humility, love, and grace. There's a fragment idea floating around in my head as I read this that keeps resounding, "A surrender to the power of God's love, maybe?" My thoughts then answer, "I don't know."
...but I like the way it sounds.

* * *

I turn 26 on Sunday.

* * *

I wonder when one actually feels like a grown-up. I feel like I'm playing a game of pretend - waiting to be caught and told that I have to go home because it's time for dinner. I asked about that, wondering if I'm the only one who feels like they're pretending to be an adult. I was told, "I think we all feel that way." And...who knows? Maybe that's good, too. In the tension of "figuring it out," I am kept (to some degree) in a state of humility. Because I know I don't have it all together. It keeps me from getting cocky or judgmental...right?
Ah, me! I am such a recipient of grace!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I had the audacity to fall in love.

And on the day of what would have marked our seven months of dating, I went on a date...with somebody else. And I missed him.

I've gone on a couple dates since we broke if dipping my toes into the ocean of relationships again, wondering if I'm ready to go swimming - hoping I can meet somebody who makes me forget him. But each time it's been the same: I miss him.

I asked a friend how long that lasts - the haunting. Really, it doesn't seem fair to my date - for me to be physically present and yet emotionally gone. My friend told me that I will keep missing him until I meet somebody who I like more than I miss him. I think those words are wise, and I think that they are true.
And I also think that I'm not ready to be done missing him yet.

There are days when I think that all I want is to spend the rest of my life with him, to grow old with him, to have some babies and raise our kids with him. I know he'll make a great dad. In my dreams I share my life with him. We would have to work hard - probably go to counseling - but I have such faith in us. We would work together, play together, and share our lives.

And my friends tell me this is a bad idea. And they are right.
I wasn't able to share my life with him (our him with me) when we were dating. There were fragments that intersected, and I think that we truly cared about one another, but in the end...our worlds were just too different. It's like we were slowly causing the other to suffocate. We didn't mean to. And we were happy when we were together, but that just wasn't enough.

So I'm here - caught in this painful tension where my heart bleeds each time I see the ghost of our relationship, but don't feel ready to move on either. The memory of him makes me cry, but so does the thought of forgetting what we had.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Love Never Fails

I'm working on a small paper, analyzing a song. In the process, I found this little lovely melody. I love the simplicity and the hope that is present in it. In the face of all the sludge we almost constantly encounter on a daily basis, this is a wonderful pause and a breath of fresh air.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

So Proud

My sister and dear friend have created a production company called 31 Steps Productions. From that company, they have created their first official music video. I am so, so, so proud of them; excited for them; and can't WAIT to see what the future holds for them!

Of course, for your viewing pleasure, here is the video. "Hurry Up," by Jeevo.

Happy Halloween.

(If you want to find their Facebook presence, just click here:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just wondering...

Why is it that nearly all songs in the genre of "break-up music" include some sort of terrible circumstances? "Don't make me think about her smile or having my first child" or "he cheated on me" or "you lied" etc.

Why all the extra drama? Where are the songs about relationships ending in the dull "it just didn't work and now we really hurt"? Isn't the pain of a simple break-up enough? Perhaps my exposure to the genre is limited and needs expanding. However, what I've found thus far has left me unimpressed and thus wanting to create something in the void. I don't see that happening anytime soon, though. So, in the meantime, I will explore the music of Patsy Cline and content myself with songs like these:

(Below) Same song, different variation. I actually didn't understand the craze about Ani until I saw her play this song live. (Actually, this is the performance I saw her give). Something about the way that she struck the strings held me mesmerized.

For those who deal with emotionally bleeding hearts, perhaps this comes the closest for providing catharsis after a "dull" break-up.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

he called me "dramatic."

I think one of the most hurtful things I ever heard from a guy I was dating were the words, "I just can't deal with your drama," after we had gotten into an argument about something that I considered to be of great value (and he didn't).

I've spent most of my life shying away from labels such as "drama queen," and had actually been commended by a previous ex-boyfriend on what little drama I ever caused. Yet, that sentence felt like a slap across my face and carried the judgement of, "I can't handle you. You're too much trouble and not enough value to me." Setting aside the question of femininity and fear of being "too much and not enough," as described by John and Stasi Eldredge in the book Captivating, I have come to grapple with the accusation of being "dramatic" simply as a person (gender aside).

Tonight, I walked with a new friend after class through a freshly wet campus that smelled of rain. We discussed the intersection of art and theology and the role that they play in one another. We shared stories and compared experiences of life, art, how we create, what we do with "blocks" to creative production, and how we find God in the midst of all of it (among other things). I made a comment that she agreed with: 

Artists, whatever form they specialize in, are storytellers. They have something to convey. It's what they do. The drama is okay - even necessary. Nobody wants a boring story, anyway.

So, there you have it. It may be simple or obvious enough, but it's something that I come back to repeatedly when those nasty words haunt me. I want to feel. I want to see or hear about the glory of the sun blazing across the sky at the breaking of dawn, green buds bursting forth on a tree branch after a winter's sleep, or how love could send One to the cross to pay for sins committed by the beloved. Give me the drama, yes, because in the drama there is life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"It's never exactly the way you plan"

(Shout-out to my friend, Ruthie, since I'm quoting her in my subject heading. I thought that her statement was a beautifully simple reminder of what I often forget.)

I think sometimes I don't realize how much I try to control my life. Even in areas that I am mostly unaware, I have expectations.

"I will move out and it will be like this."

"I will date this way.
...and he will be like this...
and it will be like this."

"I will go to grad school and it will be like this."

I feel like there is so much to write. So much has happened over the past month (and in the months extending before that).

In moving out, I faced loneliness...but God was there and He gently revealed to me some of the "stuff" swirling around in my heart. During a week of not knowing anybody, feeling far from friends and family, not yet having a roommate, and *gasp* no internet - all I had was my Bible. Even then, I found ways to distract myself, but I sensed that God was truly with me in my move and in my time of being alone. The time was painful yet...holy.

Relationships have left me confused, wondering, and excited as I see God's work and healing. Uncertainty has had me in - I dare not say "constant" because I am not that faithful, but "constant" is the word I lean toward - conversation with my Heavenly Father. Aside from my repeated question of, "God, what do you want me to do?" I have learned to explore (and question) presuppositions I had of, "Good Christians do this (or don't do this)." God has led me through questioning the concept of what it means to be a "good Christian" and where I came up with the concept that it was so important for me to strive toward being one...whatever one was.

Although I feel like the answer may be obvious to some, I'm learning in whole new ways that what God desires of me (and the rest of us)  is not that I/we be "good," but rather that I/we enter into authentic relationship with Him. I'm reminded of David. He committed adultery and murder (so scratch being "good" off the list), yet his heart was one after pursuing God's. I believe it was the relationship that he had with God that left him convicted and repentant over his sins. Perhaps the moral could be summed up as, "Come as you are, not as you think you ought to be, and I will work in you."

I'm not sure what I expected of grad school (or of the community here). However, even those subconscious thoughts (and perhaps fears) are being confronted as I meet people and start classes. God has truly blessed me with an amazing, authentic group of individuals. I heard one person describe it as, "It's not like undergrad. You  have to knock if you want to get community. However, when you knock, it's always there - waiting for you." I am blessed to be surrounded by such authentic, open, curious people - all of us curious regarding the direction in which God is leading us.

During my time in preparing to come and in being here, I have seen God bless me and provide for me physically, relationally, emotionally...and pretty much entirely in ways that I never expected. What a trip.

So, Ruthie (even with the pain), amen again: "It's never exactly the way you plan." And thank God for that.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

If life was a movie, I think I'd be in a comedy.

Chasing trains...just another one of the things that I do.

Tonight, dinner ended with me literally running out of a restaurant (weaving through tables), racing through a parking lot, grabbing a bag from my parents' van, throwing my arm over my head and locking the car behind me as I continued running (in flip flops)...all in the attempts of catching a train so that my friend could get home. We got to the tracks and the train was gone.

Perfect moment: While we stood, gasping for breath, looking down the tracks, hoping that maybe we were wrong...hoping that maybe we hadn't just missed the train; my 4-year old sister walked around the corner (with my dad) and informed us, "Hey, guys! That wasn't the right train!"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Brown gem

A few weeks ago I stood in the front yard in the afternoon, dead-heading the roses and royally beating myself up. Doubts and criticisms swirled in my head. "I'm twenty-five and still living at home. I graduated college, got my degree, and now work in a coffee shop. What am I doing with my life?" Memories of voices told me, "You have so much potential...and what are you doing with it?"

"When am I going to be more independent?"
"Why am I not 'there' yet?"
"My brother just graduated, lives on his own, has a well-paying full-time job that is helping him go to grad school. Why can't I be more like him?"
"What's taking me so long?"
"What's wrong with me?"
"Why am I such a loser?"

My despair grew as I plucked off the dead flower heads. I felt absolutely lost. I felt like crying in my lostness and at the pinnacle of it, I looked to my right. There, suspended in mid-air was a hummingbird. Not a flying gem of a male, but a more subdued female. She was absolutely beautiful. The minute detail to her body was incredible and she also busied herself with the roses before us. She didn't need to be colorful or flashy to hold beauty or have purpose. Her beauty came from her mere existence. I felt as though God had sent her as an encouragement just for me. In the midst of me fighting, God decided to speak to my heart by showing me something beautiful.

I couldn't place words to it (and even now, my doing so is a stretch), but I felt my heart quiet into peace in the moments while she hovered - finally zipping away into the sky. Somehow, her presence let me know that everything was okay.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"Feed the birds..."

I love it when I see God providing for me in small ways that carry deep meaning...

I've had what I refer to as a "tight budget" lately. I've been combating stress over it and striving to "cast it upon" God, as 1 Peter 5:7 says to do. (The context of this verse is that of suffering, but I am captured by the idea of "casting" my cares upon Christ - as opposed to simply "dropping them" or "handing them over." "Cast" has a force behind it which makes it hard to retrieve.)

God reminds me of His faithfulness. Praise Him for it - I need the reminders:
This week I didn't have to buy lunch even once. I didn't go hungry either. Food was provided to me for free in ways that I didn't expect. What a wonderful surprise!

Jesus' words delightfully penetrated my thoughts at the end of this week. The reminder in my brain was a paraphrase, but here is the verse itself: "Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!" (Luke 12:24).

As I face the stress of moving out, transferring to a new job, starting back up with school, and wondering how in the world I'm going to afford/manage my "new" life, I am comforted with a relationship with a God who keeps track even of the sparrows...and cares for me so much more.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

About Fuller

The letter came yesterday.

I got in!

It's two pages long and I didn't read much past the initial word of, "Congratulations!" I just started screaming and jumping up and down. In the process, I crumpled and ripped the letter a tiny bit, but that's okay. Of course, giggling was involved and a couple...a few...several excited phone calls.

I actually just read the letter a few minutes ago. There are some important details in there, but nothing for me to really worry about.

My largest concern is how I'm going to afford going. However, my friend Jessi reminded me that this is the degree that I need to get in order to do what I want to do. There isn't really much of an alternative. Also, I think this is where God is calling me. My dad gave me a helpful reminder that if this is where God is leading me, then He will provide the resources for me to go there.

Okay, He's a big God. He made the earth and all of creation. He numbered the stars and knows how many hairs are on my head. He knows my dreams, desires, fears, and worries...and holds my heart in His ever capable, trustworthy, loving hand...
He can provide the finances for me to go to school.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Back to school...the dream.

Last night I dreamed I went back to high school in order to further pursue my education. Consider it a super "fresh start" toward getting another/new major. (I explained to a few "fellow students" and my guidance counselor that I actually had already graduated from college and was in the process of getting my masters...I just also wanted to broaden my education....) It was registration day/my first day and when I looked at my schedule I saw Trigonometry and Economics 6 (among others). "Dang it," I thought, "That's what I get for taking all those AP classes my senior year."

Oh, but the library in my dream was pretty cool.

Monday, May 30, 2011

I just hit the "Submit" button for my grad school application!

Oh man, I am sooooo excited right now! I finally finished my essays for grad school and then submitted the application! My mom (one of my three proof-readers) then declared, "And now for the happy dance!" We've been "happy dancing" since then. (For me, this looks like a lot of jumping up and down, throwing my fists up into the air, and spinning in circles while excitedly squealing. Basically, it's like I'm three.) :D

(I suppose I resemble the image on the left over that on the right. Hehe.)

These essays have been a long time coming. So, after all that work, I think I will post them here. So, here you have it - my application essays for admittance into Fuller Seminary. What happens from here, only God knows. :)

A. Reflect on your past Christian experience, including the most significant spiritual event/influence in your life, the role of Christ in your religious experience, the effect your faith has on your worldview, your involvement in Christian service, your perceived gifts/calling for ministry, and your reason(s) for attending your church.

My Christian experience might be best described as an epic journey – an organic adventure filled with important landmarks and passages along the way. I was raised in a Christian family and accepted Christ as my savior at an early age. My parents’ divorce shattered the world as I knew it and I subsequently spent much of my childhood living in fear of God’s wrath. Yet, by God’s mercy, I came into a gradual understanding of what salvation really meant – that it could not be lost or revoked. The peace and grace offered unconditionally by a forgiving God changed my life. Since then, He has led me through rich times of sweet discovery, of painful refining, of clear direction, and of discipline in learning to discern His calling.

Christ is central to my life and I see my worldview through the lens of my faith. I believe in absolutes concerning God and how He would like for us to live, though I am also completely willing to allow for mystery and to acknowledge that there are some things that are completely beyond my understanding. My worldview is also heavily influenced by Micah 6:8 where we are told to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before the Lord [our] God.” I believe that we are called to seek righteousness and to champion for justice where there is none. Yet, in light of the fact that God’s ways are not our own and that we have been spared the wrath that we deserve, we should act in a way that provides mercy for those whom we might otherwise be quick to judge.

My view of the grace given me has led me to Christian service. Starting in high school, I went on short-term mission trips ranging from building houses in Mexico, to leading VBS in Canada, to evangelizing door-to-door for the purpose of church planting in India. I served on the servant leadership team in the college group at the church I attend. After graduating college, I stayed in the college group as a Growth Group leader for two years and as a volunteer staff member for one. Last year, I was privileged to go on a compassion trip to a Muslim country in North Africa for the purpose of loving the lost like Christ would.

I believe that my gifts and callings for ministry have to do with the arts, the (irresistible call of the) beauty of God, a love for teaching, and an interest in a more holistic worship experience (for the benefit of the body to the glory of Christ).

Church is more than a building or an organization – it is family. I might not always like it, but I do love it. Attending a service stretches me beyond my preferences of style and the focus that I have on myself. It also gives me the reminder that I need of the Gospel – how quickly I forget!

B. Reflect on how attending Fuller Theological Seminary would complement your present Christian experience and/or help you to achieve your future professional and vocational goals.

Shortly after graduating college, I decided to leave my current church because I felt frustrated at the lack of service avenues for people with various artistic gifts. However, through “church hunting” I realized that the church I attended was a wonderful community, albeit flawed. I realized that the solution to “fixing” my frustrations with the church was not to leave it, but to work to make it better (which has also provided a good lesson regarding relationships).

I desire to help grow the church into a more holistic worship setting – helping others to create a space where those with various gifts can serve and benefit those in the worship service by offering them an experience of God’s beauty and truth on a multi-sensory aesthetic level. Past this general idea, I am not sure how to begin. When I posed this question to a college professor, he directed me towards attending Fuller. The encouragement of my college pastor and results from personal research have given me further affirmation in trying to discern God’s calling on my life – leading me towards attending grad school for His glory and my growth.

I am excited about the ecumenical environment that Fuller offers and I hope to learn about Christian traditions that are different from my own. Through the fusion of what I learn to what I already know, I hope to help create “out of the box” worship experiences that still maintain the integrity of the tradition that I come from. I want to pursue a Masters of Divinity with an emphasis in Worship Arts Theology because I want to know more about the practical execution of arts in the context of ministry and because I am irresistibly drawn to the beauty of God. I am excited about the Brehm center for arts and hope it will spark ideas that are beyond my current understanding and imagination. I am looking to be stretched, challenged, encouraged, and inspired within the context of and purpose for pointing to Christ (the ultimate beauty).

My vocational goals include working in the ministry to more holistically incorporate the arts in worship. I would also like to teach at a college level about the theology of beauty. A Masters of Divinity from Fuller would give me both the practical knowledge needed for hands-on working in the church and set me up academically to pursue a Ph.D. in order to teach college courses. I believe that the theology of beauty needs to be taught because we are losing sight of it in our modern culture. My concern is that if we lose sight of Beauty then Goodness and Truth may soon share the same fate as society deems them “unnecessary.” I want to help direct Christians to champion for the cause of Beauty so that they are led closer to the heart of God – giving life and protecting us from falling into moralism (the corruption of what is good) or legalism (the corruption of what is true).

Monday, May 23, 2011

My heart is a well, so dig deeper.

It never stays the same and at the end of it, someone is always left alone. There are no exceptions. Somehow, we missed beyond the point of "they lived happily ever after" to the reality of when "they" no longer lived. One heart stops and another heart breaks.

In the face of pain and loss, why do we then bother? Why do we willingly sign up for what will inevitably cause us pain? I suppose that the answer is "because it's worth it."

We have two choices before us: we can either live for something greater than ourselves, or we can live a mundane, "safe" life - never risking for greatness for fear of getting hurt. Yet, pain is inescapable - it is a byproduct of living in this fallen world.

I've referenced this quote before, but it's one of my favorites: Mother Theresa said, "I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” To love is to be stretched outside of yourself to the point of pain. But pain is the price we pay to leave a legacy.

To have loved means to say, "I have been a part of something greater than myself. I have died and continue to die to myself for it. I have grown, and I have hurt. I have cried and burned. And I continue because it is worth it."

We were made for love - to love and to be loved. It reflects the Divine in whose image we were created. When we love we are alive.

We have the choice of pain before us: play it safe and hide - protect the self at all costs and slowly curve inward over the years, becoming more bent in our selfish loneliness; or learn to love - vulnerably open up the heart to something bigger than yourself and allow the pain to expand your heart so that you become more able to love than you were before.

Perhaps, at the end of our relatively short lives, one of the best things that could be said about us is, "they loved well."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Real quick-like before I go to bed.

This may be silly, but I love - seriously. I love that it acts as kind of the ultimate spell-check and that it's attached to a thesaurus. Combined with, unknown words and terms don't really stand a chance at maintaining their aura of mystery.

I've also found it to be a pretty simple site to visit when checking to see if my internet is working. I guess it's the lack of whistles and buzzers, but it loads (or doesn't) really quickly. At any rate, I found a link to this dictionary blog about cicadas a few moments ago.

...In reading the article, it brought back memories of how at my high school graduation the valedictorian made a speech (which I mostly couldn't hear because of the poor sound quality) wherein she compared us as the graduating class to those miraculous, amazing...insects. It made me giggle.

And that's the point.

Friday, May 13, 2011

When we were children we played

I stopped for gas on my way to adventure a few nights ago. My eyes wandered as I waited for my truck to fuel up when a sudden flash of movement pulled me from my meandering thoughts.

In the intersection before me a little girl raced with her arms outstretched, holding her blanket like a cape. It fluttered madly behind her as her father followed close behind at a more leisurely pace. Once they reached the sidewalk, she wrapped the blanket tightly around her and walked with him into the 7eleven across the street. All the while, she fidgeted with her blanket, perhaps mentally exploring the possibility of "flying" again.

I stood captured by her because in that moment she reminded me of my own childhood and those moments when I just knew that if I figured out the secret in taking off, I might truly fly. In those moments, I was good. I was free. I was a heroine simply waiting for my opportunity to show my worth. I was full of crazy, exuberant life and the world before me was full of opportunities. And I was safe because I knew that my protector was near.

While I am certainly thankful for (and happy with) the life that I have now, I cannot help but look back on moments like those with a slight twinge of nostalgia. In my adult life now, I am facing the opportunity (and challenge) to fly. I still know that my Protector is near. I also know that while the world is full of open possibilities, but it is also full of more risk - danger. That's what makes life an adventure, I suppose. But, like the song says...

wish I didn't know the meaning of fear

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"To fall is not to fail. You fail when you don't try."

It's funny how the word "no," which might bring about the crushing disappointment of dreams deferred, can actually bring relief and freedom. The first flight of a bird might not be majestic, but the point is - it flew.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

So, there's this film called "Roy"...

I started this blog promoting things that I liked (well, it was one website/clothing company that now no longer exists...but that's beside the point). That being said, I'd like to draw your attention to the excitement and hard work of my friend, Mr. Clarke. He just finished a short animation film called "Roy." I got to help.

I am excited, too.

So, check out his blog! Click here for to visit his page, Low Budget Comedians. And then, stay tuned for more updates on the release of his film!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Life is not so simple

I drove up to the Pasadena area yesterday. The sun shone with such warmth that I kept my window rolled down and enjoyed the wind blowing through my hair as I zoomed past green hills scattered with trees, fields, brush, and the mountains in view. Closer to LA the old neighborhoods and stretches of beautiful barren land replaced the hills. The heat also became more stifling. I pushed through, determined to enjoy a day when I was free of work and free to enjoy the beauty around me. The sky above shone so bright, so blue...

Hours later, after an enjoyable afternoon, I decided to make a quick purchase before returning home. Walking down the street, I suddenly felt aware of my singularity. Most people around me were with others - especially the females. I felt vulnerable and alone. I crossed the street with a mass of people, free to go where I wanted but also free of protection...not that I needed any - I just felt the void.

I made my purchase after some deliberation and friendly chatting with the salesman and then headed back outside, proud of my prize. This time, I stood alone in the sun while waiting for the light to change, allowing my eyes to wander. And then I saw her - a woman. Was that bare skin? Were her pants pulled down? No. It couldn't be. People didn't do that in public. And yet...was it? I tried not to look in case it was what I thought it was. Nobody around me seemed to notice her. Was she actually...? No, she couldn't be. Reality finally had it's way though, and I saw her pull up her bright green sweat pants as a puddle of piss ran down the sidewalk.

Driving home, I longed to return to the cooler temperatures of home. As traffic crawled, I reflected on the day - relatively relaxed even though I normally get antsy when I'm not "moving." My happy anticipation of returning home grew once I returned to a more familiar highway and traffic picked up. Cars came to a quick slow, though, and I thought I was in for a traffic jam caused by an accident. The "accident" turned out to be a fallen box of books and magazines that had apparently fallen (perhaps out of a moving truck), exploded, and subsequently been run over. The debris of written material scattered across the highway as words which once had meaning were reduced to discarded trash - to be avoided by oncoming vehicles. I remembered the woman.

It made my heart hurt.

What a complex day. The beauty. The brokenness. The pleasure. The discomfort.

Life is not so simple...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My heart currently wants to beat out of my chest. I keep telling it that it has to stay put. It is not pleased.

I am currently writing this post while hooked up to my nebulizer. It's for the purpose of treating my bronchitis...that I still have. (It'll be 7 weeks on Saturday, but that's another posting, I suppose.)

Here is my current thought: I don't know much about Jack Kerouack, but I think I need to get my hands onto whatever he's written. These quotes of his convince me of this:

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!" (On the Road)

I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life but that great consciousness of life. (from a journal entry)

You see? This man has passion. This man is tapped into truth. I need to pick up his writings.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Shy Dancing Zebra: A Story for Kyle

Once upon a time, there were two friends who met at a church.

He was from one part of the world, and she was from another and they were both a little differrrent.

One day, decided to go on an adventure with a group of other like-minded friends.

They traveled from one place

to another.

While in that other new place, they learned a new language.

(They shared the language book...

...because everyone knows that sharing is caring.)

They went shopping at an outdoor market, called a suk, where they bought pots;

they road camels;

they tried new foods, drank a lot of tea;

and they shared new music with one another. One of the friends really liked a song called "Fatima.")

They also went on a hike. One of them climbed a tree while they rested in the shade.

They did a lot of other really neat things and had many incredible adventures while in this far-away place, but that would make for a very long story to tell. Eventually, though, they had to return home...and he went away again (this time on an adventure of his own).

But they were still friends. So, one day, she wrote him a note to tell him so...

...because that's what you do when you care.

The End.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


It seems to go this way:
Something comes along in life that I want. By "want" I don't just mean, "Oh, I'd like that. It'd be nice." By "want" I mean want as in my heart desires it - I long for it. Often times with such things that I want, it ends up being something that I cannot or should not have. The frustration at keeping my hands off generally results in exposing a lot of the hurts, fears, and struggles in my own heart. Generally, this expresses itself in my frustration with God.

God, you won't give me what I want...

My mature response, then, is to turn my back on Him and sulk - frustrated over not being able to have what I think would make me (at least temporarily) happy. I caught myself going through this cycle the other day. While I cannot say that my attitude or behavior has drastically improved since then, I will confess what dawned on me:

God, for all the times that I get mad at you and turn my back on you, thank you for not doing the same to me.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


It's like this: four or five weeks ago, I managed to catch "a bug" which quickly developed into something worse than a cold. I rested, took lots of vitamins, but did not get any better. I decided to visit the doctor wherein I was told that whatever I had was turning bronchial. Enter: the use of three prescriptions. A week later, after finishing up my antibiotics, I decided to visit the doctor again because I still had a "lingering cough." The experience of having a night where I had extreme difficulty breathing helped fuel this decision. Upon my second visit, I was told that my bronchitis had moved deeper into my lungs. Enter: the prescribing of more medicines and even stronger antibiotics along with the admonishment to not drink any caffeine (which I actually had already stopped drinking from the week before). About a week after that, I finally finished my prescriptions, feeling much better - so much so that I would have called myself "healed"...

After three weeks of being sick, I felt "fine"...

my cough bothers me on rare occasions yesterday when it came back in a force so strong that it left me feeling light headed and needing to sit down.

I don't get it. I just don't get it.
Three weeks. Three weeks of intense resting, taking care of myself, taking vitamins (until I had to stop because of my prescriptions), and of taking some very strong medications...
Three weeks of doing everything I was supposed to do. And yet I continue(d) to struggle with being sick. I just don't get it.

In the midst of my frustration, I see an illustration of my spiritual life. I "do the things I'm supposed to do" and yet the results are not what I expect. I do not quickly emerge victorious (even though I think I should). Instead, I continue battle in an exhausting fight. Then, when I finally "win," it comes back so that I have to fight it again.

What an image of sin in my life.

This is why prayer is important (concerning matters of health and beyond). This is why I need to rely on the strength, knowledge, and love of One who is greater than I. The doctor can tell me what's going on with my body, and he can tell me what I need to do to be healthy; but only God can take care of my soul.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Today at work a girl came in to order a drink. By my estimation, she was probably in junior high or early high school. Naturally red, long, thick bangs swept across her heavily freckled face. She seemed tired or disinterested and I picked up on something going on internally as she gave me minimal eye-contact and hardly returned my smile (perhaps it was battles with insecurity, thoughts over a heavy homework load...I don't know). She had a sweet, kind face though. After ringing her up, I commented to her as she walked away, "By the way, you have adorable freckles." She did. They were really cute. Her face immediately broke into a smile and she turned around to beam at me as she walked away, bright blue eyes sparkling.

Honestly, it was a slight risk on my part. I mean, it's easy to tell someone that you like their hair, clothing, nails, cologne or perfume, etc. but to say that you like a person's facial features takes a bit more risk. It just does. I thought it was worth it and it was an honest compliment though, and it paid off, so I'd say it was worth it. (I try to live my life in following up, "if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all," with, "if you have something nice to say, then share it." Life is just too short.)

I was caught off guard when my coworker (whom I'd been unaware of watching or listening to me) remarked, "You are so weird. Who compliments other people on their freckles?"
My indignation and response aside, my remaining thought on the incident is that we live in a very sad society if we are so insecure that we are unable to say kind things to one another for fear that we might look like fools.

I guess this is what it looks like to have my identity grounded in the love that Christ showed for me on the Cross. I am released from having to work for approval. I could never earn it anyway. I could never be good enough, cool enough, pretty enough, talented enough. Instead, God, in His ultimate mercy, chose to shower me in His grace and determine that which was unlovable to be worth of love - love beyond reason or understanding. How often I forget: the world doesn't understand that.

Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1: 22-30)

So, let me look like a fool, then, if it means that I get to love.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


She sat silently after my last statement.
"Mom, what are you thinking? I can see the wheels turning."
"Well, I don't know what to say. I can't make you not want his approval so badly, and I can't make him give you approval either." As instantaneous tears sprang to my eyes, she added, "I can give you a hug though."

Approval. I hadn't realized that I wanted it so badly.

Oh Lord, have mercy on me. I don't take my faith seriously. I brush it off. I brush Your Word off. I brush You off. I look for love, approval, and acceptance from things, people, and relationships that do not satisfy - that cannot satisfy. I lack discipline. I am totally and completely unable to fix myself so that even with the desire to live in healthy relationship with You, I am cannot make myself better. I look in the wrong places for forgiveness - for meaning. I live my life for things that make me work and yet never satisfy me. I am tired. I lack intentionality. Instead of pursuing the beautiful things that make my heart come alive, I waste my life with the mundane - with noise - endless static. Refresh the internet page. Maybe something interesting will have happened. No, click it again. God, I'm bored. Instead of living my life to its fullness, I settle for mediocrity.
And yet, I hide all that so well. No wonder I feel so tired.
Physically, emotionally, spiritually.

Oh, great and loving Father who still beckons me in the midst of my brokenness - which extends beyond my own comprehension - wash over me with a love that blows my understanding.

Oh Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Desires and Drives

In looking around me, at society, at my own heart, at how we as a people seem to move, I've come to a small conclusion:

Sex comes easy, but relationship is hard.

With our over-sexed society, we can get sex in a myriad of forms for a variance of prices. "Open up the menu, see what you like and if it fits your price. We can even customize it!" However, relationship (what I think our hearts really desire) takes vulnerability, commitment, and absolute work. It's not something that we can get by opening a magazine, turning on the TV, cranking up the radio, or flirting around. Sure, those things can temporarily dull the aching desire in our hearts, but they don't provide what we truly desire - love and relationship.

Here's the thing about sex - it's not something you can really get a la carte. It's designed to be within the context of absolute vulnerability, danger, and commitment. Hearts get involved, and that's a tricky business. Giving into that drive may feel good at the moment, but when that person goes away - the hole of loneliness is only ripped wider.

In looking at my own heart, I think that's one of the reasons why I'm waiting for marriage. I'm not one to be sustained by empty flowery language, passing admirations of beauty, or indications of love. No. I'm not here for the quick and easy - building a house of sticks in hopes that it will protect me from the wolves. Give me something of substance. Give me something that lasts. If I ever get married, sex will be there...but it won't be the reason for which I marry. It'll simply be the icing on top of the cake.

And if I never marry, I already have that dangerous, vulnerable, committed love.
Just give me Jesus.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lessons in Sleep

I dreamed last night of the loss of innocence and of evil incarnate in the form of a giant spider (comparable to Shelob from The Lord of the Rings, I suppose). Interestingly enough, I'd call it a dream and not a nightmare. It was a setting where I understood the gravity of the situation and the intention of the monster (to destroy and consume all human life in order to feed her own procreation). I understood my own fallenness, and I understood that I had to destroy her in order for survival (not just of myself, but for others). There were some who gave into the despair of "knowing" that they were going to die. I fought for them. She was was stronger than we were. She had a higher intelligence and awareness of our activities (and thoughts). But she did not know everything and she was not indestructible...

I say a lot of this in hindsight (and with the commentary of a friend), but it makes sense (concerning matters in my own life, but also in a macrocosmic sort of way).

It may seem obvious, but I think she might be taken as a huge commentary on the nature of evil and its force (and intention) in human life. However, no matter how stark the circumstances may seem...there is always hope. Christ provided that victory. So, rather than submit passively to the raging appetite of evil, we fight the good fight.

That's not to say that it's all in our power though. Remembering back to an actual nightmare I had about a month ago, I dreamt that I fought a cobra - first hooding it with a towel and then pinning it to a wall. Yet, for all of its "disarmament" and inability to bite me, it still squirmed beneath my hold and sought for any possible way to get at me. I knew that my job was not to kill the beast (because I was unable and unequipped to). Rather, the next step was to wait for rescue from somebody who could free me by taking it away.

Does that sound like another picture? We are told to resist the devil, but we are never told to defeat him. In truth, the only one with the power to do so is God.
Thank the Lord for His care in rescuing us through the Cross.