Monday, December 1, 2008


i've been told that because my body is currently dealing with a large shift in hormones that i can just expect to cry randomly or over things that on a "normal" day would not provoke emotion. i'm not sure if i can attribute my most recent tears to this hormonal imbalance or not. it came on sunday, while singing in church. it began "the splendor of a king, clothed in majesty..."

let me back up. i knew that having a baby so close to the time we celebrated the birth of the Savior would provoke some thought. while several have been passing wonderings, sunday's episode made me really think about the idea of the incarnation. it's crazy to think that a King, in all his splendor, "clothed in majesty", came to the earth and took the form not only of a human, but as an infant. thanks to recent events, it struck me just how dependent baby Jesus was on those very people who he had come to save. the most powerful being became completely powerless. in his human form, he could not do a thing to help himself - he needed changing, fed, shelter. and i ask, why would God do that? why would he entrust himself to [us]?

as i talked some of this through with jj, my guess is that He was showing us what a different kind of god He really is.... we know that in the culture he stepped into, gods were a dime a dozen - there were different gods to fit your every need. rob bell has said in his "the gods aren't angry" that one of the biggest messages we can get from God is how He is different than the other gods (watch the dvd for great examples, specifically the sacrifice of Isaac). and so what a way to show it - that this God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is not a god of "over there" or "up there" or seperate - even though he maintains those attributes in a sense of his holiness - but He's also a God of closeness. emmanuel. God with us.

i'm sure this isn't revolutionary to most people. we've grown up going to christmas eve services celebrating God's coming, emaa-aaa-aaan-u-el (*sing songy voice), but to us that's what God does. He comes as Jesus. But back then... God coming to earth... not as common. now, i'm sure there are some gods or goddesses in roman or greek mythology who do follow a similar pattern (most of the prophesies that Jesus fulfilled also have a greek / roman counterpart, or someone who supposedly did a similar deed - though none proclaim to fulfill them all. and i'm not sure whose existance was known first. we are waaaaaay outside my domain).

i just can't get over mary wiping jesus' butt. or jesus peeing on joseph because he was too slow to cover the wee wee. or mary crying because nursing just wasn't going as smoothly as she had hoped, and she thinks to herself, "will he always treat his mother this way?!" as he chomps and screams. i cannot get over the fact that God would choose to leave heaven - that place that so many of us celebrate as an ultimate destination - to come to earth, let alone as one who needs such constant care and attention. and then, after 33 years of it, also allows those people who he came to rescue to lead him to his death. why would he do that?

God as an infant. it's a crazy idea. but it worked.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

and this is all that i can say right now...

"here's what i want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace." - Jesus, Matthew 6:6

I was reading in my current book (The Year I Got Everything I Wanted: A Spiritual Crisis) about the author's year of struggle in the midst of supposedly amazing things happening - new job with great title, money, gorgeous girlfriend, new city. He speaks later in the book of a particular evening when he really struggled and gave into the temptation of pornography. He makes a profound self-realization in that he says that he doesn't normally struggle with porn except when he's avoiding something in his life - a big decision, a hard discussion, a change. Rather than deal with the inner turmoil, he escapes with some sort of self-gratification.

JJ and i had quite the interesting discussion about the concept - avoiding inner turmoil by seeking self-gratification. I think we all do it in some form. There are the types who seek out gratification in the physical form - drinking, drugs, porn, whathaveyou. Then there are the types who seek it out through inner self-gratification. Hate, self-righteousness, pride.

"Even though we may have a deep desire for real solitude, we also experience a certain apprehension as we approach that solitary place and time. As soon as we are alone, without people to talk with, books to ready, tv to watch, or phone calls to make, an inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering into a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distractions, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves in full force. We often use these outer distractions to shield ourselves from teh interior noises. It is thus not surprising that we have a difficult time being alone. The confrontation with our inner conflicts can be too painful for us to endure." - Henri Nouwen, Making All Things New

"Solitude is one of the deepest disciplines of the spiritual life because it crucifies our need for importance and prominence. Everyone - including ourselves at first - will see our solitude as a waste of good time. We are removed from "where the action is." That, of course, is exactly what we need. In silence and solitude God slowly but surely frees us from our egomania." - Richard J. Foster

"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You're blessed when you're content with just who you are - no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought..." -Jesus, Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:3-5, The Message.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

the chicken or the egg

or it's equivalent theological question: free will vs. God's predestination.

I have had similar conversations revolving about this topic a few times in the past couple weeks, which is curious because i feel like i rarely have opportunities to have these conversations anymore. but good ol' patty b. started kindling a thought when we were talking about God and babies (2 of our current favorite topics at the moment). when you deal with topics like, people who don't get to have the babies they wanted, or, people who get to have babies they didn't want, God is certainly to show up in conversation, usually as the veiled bad guy (for the one who didn't get what they want) in the phrase, "well, God knows what he's doing..." now really. who's going to argue with THAT statement? of course God knows what He's doing! but i'm not sure it's the appropriate response for the given situation.

so we were verbally processing through such statements and were talking about how when it comes to reproduction in general, somehow the auto-predestination switch gets turned on in people's thought patterns. Patty's a bright girl. She said, "you know, i really do think there are some free will options in the matter. there are ways for people to avoid getting pregnant."
mind you, this is all background material for my general thought.

that's when i told her of my opinion of the predestination vs. free will argument.

i am dramatically opposed to predestination, not because i believe it's theologically incorrect, but because i've seen people live out such beliefs sooooo badly. if you're going to comment about the sovereignty of God or some other great insight as to why we must believe that God predestines us, then please refrain (i'd like you to argue me on my other points, please). You're probably right. I'll just agree with you. bring out the "for those whom God predestined, he also called..." scripture.

the reason i come to butt heads with the predestination believers is not because of thought but because of practice. i have seen before that many a good meaning christian make decisions based on "God's will" that really had nothing to do with God, but more of the good christian's attempt to remove any responsibility from him or her because of the decision. God ordaining something, God making something happen is the mother of all trump cards. Call it the Right Bower (is that how bower is spelled in euchure?). no one wants to argue with what God wants, so a person really only needs to "feel peace" about a decision to decide that it's what God had planned all the time and thus the right decisions and thus, if things go wrong/badly, it's because God ordained that, too.

with this thought pattern, a person will never make bad decisions, they'll just have to live through whatever God decides to insert into their lives.

now, i'm all for a God that just tosses things into our lives. He's done it to me. it's crazy. i believe God does things that are inexplicable. i believe he brings us blessings and he takes us down roads that are a little bumpy. because all these things are included in this journey of life. and i really believe that you should seek God's wisdom when making decisions. you should feel a peace about decisions you make (not lack of fear, but peace). but we have to play the cards that are dealt to us. God does the dealing, that's for sure. but i just can't get there that he also plays the hand for us (can you tell that i should be at the lake? all these card playing analogies...).

so i'd like to be convinced. i'd like to see someone live this beautiful balance of keeping in step with God's will and direction while realizing that as God's child i have to learn to make decisions based upon the model set before me. but there may be times that matt, mark, luke or john didn't record exactly what my example did, so i need make the best decision I can and trust that God is going to help me with whatever this decision brings into my life. he won't "give me what i deserve" because of it, but maybe there's some reaping and sowing involved.

so that's my thought. it was broached again last night by lively conversation, which is why it's still on the brain this early AM.

Friday, June 20, 2008

there are times that God provides for you and you didn't even know you needed to ask him to do it. but then it comes, and you think, "how did i really think i was going to do this on my own? thanks, God, for knowing more than me."

Saturday, May 31, 2008

closing the door

somehow it seems very appropriate that we move on graduation weekend. this, the weekend before, is when i shall pack. if i can find enough boxes. but i'm sitting here looking around at all the stuff that now must somehow find its way to a new home in findlay.
i hate packing not only because it involves lifting heavy things and being forced to purge others ("what if i need that later?"), but because it also means saying goodbye. i remember the feeling of packing up at 1605 in University Commons and hated the entire thing... not only because the girls next door had a party and my parents were arriving the next day to load a truck, but because i was saying good bye to some very very wonderful elements in my life. i knew life would never be the same.
and it's kinda that way now. to jj, this house was our first home, the "love shack". to me, this was my first step into adulthood, the home to so many memories of wonderful times. it started with scraping wallpaper with mary and taping box patterns in my bedroom with scott. then there was "fun with ang and chad" night- complete with Pit and Anna and colored guitar. sitting on the couch with kristy, coming up with some of the best and worst ideas for youth events ever. i wish i had a dollar for every glass of wine we drank on that couch. then there was the crotcheting. and when K hung her hideous Kuenzli Tacky Craft wreath over my clock and wouldn't take it down until may.
Then Clinton nearly broke a toe trying to get Kristy moved out. watching movies and making smores in our backyard. small groups coming over, taking up my entire street because of bad parking jobs. setting up stations so that kids could pray throughout my entire home. making christmas goodies with alyssa, rachel and jordan. kelsey or abbie coming over so we can run.
it's crazy that it was a year ago when i said goodbye to being a church staffer. and now that i'm also leaving the place that was home to so much of that, i can see how important that space in my life really was to me. i knew it was important when i left the job, but now that i'm leaving the town, the home to it... well, i just miss it, that's all.
i'm sure ryan can vouch for it, but really it's harder on this side. kids loose one youth director (and get another). retired youth directors loose 50 kids (and there's no such thing as replacements).
ok, i need to be done with the melodrama. time to wish another one of my wonderful memories a happy grown-up life at their graduation party. onward we go.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

i don't really understand... but i guess it's okay.

i saw brian beall at work the other day. we hadn't crossed paths in a while and i realized the time had lapsed since his wife was scheduled to have a baby. so i asked about her. little one is doing great, happy healthy... all that exciting stuff.
so that closes out the numbers. all the people that were due to have babies at approximately the same time as me (some of them within days), now are at home with babies. the little ones have been born and there are reasons to rejoice. new life is always a reason to rejoice.
it's just hard to believe where life has brought us in the time that we lost our baby. life has changed SOOOO significantly, and continues to do so. good things. don't get me wrong, the miscarriage was one of the hardest things i've lived... but i'm in amazement at where life has taken us since. jj swiching careers. moving. a second chance.
though part of me wants to be a little sad for myself when i see May Baby pictures, there's a part of me that just trusts. i have to. if God can change things, bring things that we need- before we even know we need them - then how much more can we trust him.
may 9 passed by pretty uneventfully... no one really noticed. but i guess i shouldn't lend any more significance to it than what it's due- that time has passed, life has changed and that each day, God brings us what we need. and he'll continue to do so every day.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

the year of jubilee (what if, what if...)

"In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property. If you sell land to any of your own people or buy land from them, do not take advantage of each other. You are to buy from your own people on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee...When the years are many, you are to increase the price and when the years are few, you are to decrease the price because what is really being sold to you is the number of crops." -Leviticus 25:13-16, bits and pieces.

I was reading this the other morning in my devotibible (how handy that the devotions are filled in...). The blurb that followed this section focused on freedom and knowing that freedom is coming, tying that in to the price paid by Christ. Good stuff, I assure you, I'm glad to be free "from the bondage of sin." Don't get me wrong. But somehow, and it could be that I'm just too much of a reader, I don't think that's necessarily what this passage was about. Let me re-phrase that- I don't think the original hearers of this wonderful, amazing message of Jubilee heard about freedom from sin. And I say that because of verse 23, [God speaking here:]
"The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers."

Call me crazy, and I probably am for many other reasons, i think God is serious about calling us to think about how we buy and sell. I think maybe, just maybe, God had some inkling that we humans would struggle with possessiveness and ownership and wanting more "stuff." He saw the moving Finding Nemo with the "mine mine mine" birds.
Can I remark how amazing God is to have the foresight to provide us a way out? I mean, he knows that over the traverse of time we'd get ourselves further into debt or seek after buying more and more stuff, land being the ultimate example. And instead of telling us what evil sinners we are, he just mandates a way out. He says, buy and sell as you might feel you need (read more of chapter 25 to get the details of selling the land or yourselves because of financial hardships), but remember that it's all on loan.

I wonder what life would be like if we realized that in another 50 years it all gets returned. That the house i live in is borrowed property, no matter whose name is on the mortgage. I wonder what it would be like for employers to realize that they're buying the crop, not the land- and that the fruits of my labor is all that's for sale, the land actually belongs to someone else. I wonder what it would be like if I realized that everything in my life- friends, family, education- is borrowed property and God, the owner of it all, is just blessing me by letting me enjoy.
The current status quo is like a friend loaning me their summer cottage for a vaca and then me trying to sell it off for profit. I can't! I don't even have true ownership.

I'm not sure how to begin making this a reality in my life, but if every 50 years God thinks its a good thing, then maybe it's something I should look into. Because can you imagine what the world would be like if we all realized that it's all just on loan?