It’s the day before Christmas Eve, and I’m sitting in my cluttered living room while rain lashes the bushes outside against the glossy, wet windows. Fireplace aglow, presents in a glittery heap, a half knitted sock (that I’ve been working on for a few years, which loses its needles every time I put it away), the book I just finished lies exhaling next to me on the couch.
I’ve started so many posts in the last few months, some of them getting no farther than an intriguing title. There’s plenty to say (always), but how much of it needs to be said here? As 2015 comes to a close, it feels right to make some account for myself, so here is a list of the main events:
January: came to Lynden to work with Rise Campaign.
This was the best start to a new year, though I didn’t know it at the time. Staying connected to YWAM in this low-pressure way, working with kind and passionate people who champion me despite my sometimes excessive lack of productivity… this is the reason I’ve been able to leave survival mode and start tackling the world again… Continue reading “Pretty Good Year”
I find the most age confusion these days when I try to decide on which book to read. A good 8 years has been stolen by busyness, transition and social media. I was not yet 30yrs old when I could last honestly call myself a Reader, and therefore as I approach 40 at a moderate gallop I realize I have missed a few things.
In my teens I was all sensation; horror novels, trashy romance, decadent fantasy mixed with science fiction. In my twenties I turned suddenly quite serious and read gobs of books on spiritual topics, some that would now put me to sleep.
When I should have spent my early thirties steeped in history and biography, instead I moved several times, got married and then divorced and hit refresh on my facebook home page one billion times. It was only recently that I recognized how drastically these occupations atrophied my thought life.
And so I have begun to read books again but it is much like feeding a person who has been starving for years. There must be many broth meals before anything like steak will digest. I imagine at some point the Eater begins to have more mental and emotional hunger for food than her body can support. She finds herself writing elaborate menus that will take her years to fulfill, even while what she actually eats are bizarre little half meals. Homemade banana pudding and soft pretzels for breakfast, pickles and black tea with cream at 10, pot roast and raspberry sherbet for lunch. She institutes a tea time, though she’s American, and she buys short bread and can’t decide between a dark beer or a mug of hot chocolate… Continue reading “The Frenzied Feast”
I know Rich Mullins was not your typical kind of hero. From what I understand, he was a very flawed and broken man. Nevertheless, the music and the words that God gave him have impacted me in a bigger way than I had realized until seeing a movie about his life. He taught me two very important things about following Jesus.
His message resonated so quickly and deeply that I didn’t even know it was him that God was using to teach me. While this is about the influence of a musician, it’s mostly about the faithfulness of God to walk so near to me.
Lesson 1: Honesty
“These days I need more than just a line about Jesus.
I need to see his love, these days.”
I grew up going to a Southern Baptist church. What I learned as a kid was that the best Christians looked good and shiny on the outside. They had two parents, and plenty of money, they dressed up for church and they never said bad words. I saw nowhere to express my confusion and pain over life (not to mention I was poor with divorced parents and started swearing in elementary school)… Continue reading “Growing Young”
I am mentally or emotionally uncomfortable about 80% of the time. 10% of the time I’m checked out and the remaining 10% I feel good, happy, joyful. Say what you want about the difference between happiness and joy, I’ll take what I can get. (That’s not entirely true. I do recognize the difference between things that are merely soothing me and feeling a real letting-go kind of peaceful joy.)
I took an online test recently (certainly reputable!) that told me that I’m a “Highly Sensitive Person.”
Good one, Captain Obvious.
The most enlightening/depressing thing I read, as I studied up on this before unbeknownst to me legitimate personality profile was that Highly Sensitive People spend much of their time unhappy because they’re always kind of struggling against an overstimulating world and struggling toward an inner sense of quiet. (An impressively long sentence, if I do say so myself.)
Good luck with that inner sense of quiet I’ve been working on so assiduously… Continue reading “All Manner of Thing”
Where does our value come from? I have seen a couple of posts on facebook today that posit that we have value if we value others.
For myself, I have often felt as though my only worth came from what I did for other people or how much I could “produce.” This has been made more pronounced by the fact that I grew up in a pretty works-oriented church and have always had close friends who were REALLY organized and productive. My mom is the first born of 7 and loves to clean and raise her hand when responsibilities are needing filled at church. Most of my best friends over the years have been efficient, get-er-done kind of women. Since I do not operate that way (I’m very relational but not very productive) I have always felt something lacking within myself…. Continue reading “For What It’s Worth”
This last week in class the speaker (Dan Shannon) spent a few hours teaching us (a bit of) what he knows about “simple church planting.” He worked for a few years with a man named Floyd McClung in South Africa with an organization called All Nations. Considering that I have only heard the most basic teaching about this stuff, I feel intimidated to retell it on the world wide web, but I want to at least process a bit of these running thoughts in my head….
Continue reading “Rattling the Rafters”
Do you ever wonder what Paul was like in person? Until I actually studied the New Testament as a whole I pictured him so pious and judgmental. After reading all of his letters and really considering what his life looked like, it’s impossible to remember how I got to those assumptions about him.
I do remember being vastly comforted by the book of 2 Corinthians. I felt he must have been writing to people like me. When I discovered that the Corinthians were actually super critical of Paul, the humility with which he wrote becomes a hundred times greater. Standing in the face of those who say you are weak and explaining how much deeper your weakness goes than they could ever know… Well.. it has shown me what a deep trust and love Paul had for Jesus; how much his identity was based not on what men thought of him, but based solely on what the Father had done for him…. Continue reading “As You Loved Me”
I’m in the middle of a study on the book of Exodus for a teaching I hope to give at a kids camp in July. I discovered this fascinating book called The Pentateuch As Narrative. Although my roommate informs me that it’s not a universally intriguing title, I was drawn in by it. Here’s why- I love stories. I love stories of all kinds: true, fiction, short, long, funny, disturbing or serious. I came to discover, last year while doing the School of Biblical Studies, that the Bible is chalked FULL of true and interesting stories.
I see that yawn/eye roll. But don’t give up yet. In studying about Moses, I found a treasure that I want to investigate with you. All throughout the Bible (from cover to cover) are themes and connections. The connections are sometimes too big picture for us to catch and certainly too subtle for a cursory reading.
Here’s what jumped out today: this book about the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible, written by Moses) points out that Moses met his wife by a well (Ex. 2:15-22). Not only that, but she was not a Hebrew (not so shocking for us, but for the original reader, this would have been noteworthy). This is a pattern with many of God’s chosen men preceding Moses. Isaac (Gen. 24), Jacob (Gen. 29) and Judah (Gen. 38) also met the mother of their children (all foreigners) at a well. These are not just men, these men are the ones through whom God promised to get the whole world blessed (ancestors of Jesus). Although Moses is not an ancestor of Jesus, he is a foreshadow of Jesus in that he delivers God’s people from slavery into the land of promise (The book of Matthew shows the parallels between Moses/Israel and Jesus in detail)…. Continue reading “Dating in Antiquity”
I felt a call to be a missionary when I was 17yrs old. It started with a concert put on by an organization called Operation Mobilization. I read a book written by the guy leading the organization (George Verwer) and I started filling out an application to join them. It was part way through the application that my heart sunk right to the floor…
They wanted to know if I’d ever struggled with depression.
Bummer. I had and I did.
At that point I actually allowed the question to stop me from moving forward. I can’t remember if I thought I might ‘get better’ and be able to apply later on or if I just lost hope in fulfilling this great calling.
Four years later I went to Bible college for a year because I thought maybe this would be the preparation that I needed to finally become a missionary. Unfortunately, I didn’t do very well academically. The only class that I passed the second semester of my freshman year was Christian Missions. It was in that Christian Missions class that I began to understand a little bit more about what missions might actually mean… but it was a strange lesson. A few books I read informed me about the experience of past missionaries; From Jerusalem to Iryin Jaya, Bruchko, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, and a book that pertains to ministry, A Man Called Peter. There were others, but these are the ones that stick out to me…. Continue reading “Burnout For Jesus”
I’m reading this book called We Want to See Jesus by Roy and Revel Hession. It’s one of those old little paper-backs with everything so richly worded and meaningful that, though it is this tiny sliver of a book, it is packed full of good stuff.
He’s talking about how, as followers of God we often look for ways to serve or ways to be better people above looking for God Himself. But that no matter how much we serve, if we are not seeking God first, our efforts will merely be selfish and prideful striving.
But how do we want God? My normal way is to have a few days a month when I am just longing for Him specifically. The rest of the time I either just want to want Him or it doesn’t even occur to me to want Him
CS Lewis, in The Problem of Pain said, “It is natural to wish that God designed for us a less glorious and arduous destiny… It is a burden of glory, not only beyond our deserts, but also, except in rare moments of grace, beyond our desiring.”
And then Hession says, “Left to themselves, men arrive at a false knowledge of God, a knowledge that only begets fear and bondage, and which repels men rather than draw them to Him.”
What do we do?… Continue reading “We Want to See”
First week of the second quarter done! The main low for the week was that it was possibly more work than we’ve had thus far (is that true?) studying the book of John, but my brain’s inability to engage and work quickly was disappointing to the extreme.
This last year I have learned a lot about how to push myself beyond what I think (thought) I can do but this last week really threw me. So I worked steadily and did not give up, but I also did not finish charting the whole book.
That’s a little sad considering that the book of John is so amazing but here is the high for the week.
God kept showing up
. What I saw most clearly in this book is Jesus Himself. I saw him exhausted as he sits by a well in Samaria. When the woman shows up, a sparkle enters his eyes as he knows he will get to reveal himself a bit to her. Then the disciples show up, confused that he’s talking to a Samaritan woman and when she leaves to go tell the people in her village Jesus is awash with excitement- exhaustion forgotten, hunger extinguished- he joyfully anticipates all the people who are about to show up and encounter their Lord…. Continue reading “We Want to See Jesus”
I did not end up having very much time alone during the break to read, but yesterday and today the perfect thing happened. I realized how much I needed to purposefully get alone and I found the perfect book to end this Week of Worry. A few weeks ago a guy came to teach in one of the schools here. I hadn’t met him, but there was quite a buzz about his presence here as he is well known and well loved by many. As a result of what I heard and then a story he told one night in a big group meeting, I was quite interested in his books.
What I picked up to read yesterday was his personal account of being imprisoned in Iran in 1997 for 9 weeks. This is not even close to the same as my current situation, but what was similar, which is impacting me right now, is God’s character throughout this man’s story. While he tells the story from his own eyes with humble honesty, what stands out is this mutual and deep love between him and God. What it is like to walk with God is so palpable and transparent and so completely my experience that it was almost as if I came to a friend and told them how I was struggling with worry and they told me their own story to remind me of the truth…. Continue reading “After the Storm”
Continuing with thoughts from Perelandra… here is something I’ve been meaning to share for a few weeks. The way I have been spending my time has not lent itself much to reading and with school coming I must make time to read, but probably not this great book.
As you may know, Ransom spent the first book of the “space trilogy” on a planet called Malacandra- which we know as Mars. It is his and our introduction to life on other planets. While he is there, he becomes close with a particular “tribe” of beings. He learns their language and their ways which serve to be part of the reason he is commissioned to take another trip in the second book…. Continue reading “The Meaning of Life”
I’ve been trying to read books. A little success was made this last week.
I picked up Perelandra by CS Lewis. It’s the second of the “space trilogy”. In all fairness, I have read this book several times, so it’s less of an exercise and more of a favorite world to visit. What I love so much about this book, though, is not the interesting world, but the depth of insight Lewis shows concerning the mind of the main female character.
The main male character, Ransom, is sent to the planet of Perelandra with the job of saving its perfect and innocent first inhabitants from the dark serpent sent to corrupt them. Ransom is just a man.
This suddenly reminds me of what I did last Thursday night. I went with a group of friends to down town Colorado Springs to see if God had anything he wanted to say to people there through us. Back in the days of Bible college this would have been Evangelism time but this was much less about putting notches on the soul conversion chart and more about revealing God’s character and His heart for whoever needed to hear…. Continue reading “Out of a silent planet”
For class I’m reading this book called The Revolutionary Communicator. I’m having a difficult time focusing because my head is all over the place- thinking about other assignments and decisions about the future. Both the assignments and the future seem very overwhelming today. To be honest, I do not feel great right now.
So I’m pushing myself to read- and it really is a good book. It talks about seven principles Jesus lived to impact, connect and lead. I don’t really think Jesus was ticking little check marks next to his interactions with people, “I was definitely authentic with that person“, “ I’m going to connect with this lady through questions“… Clearly, being what John calls The Word, he has an inherent handle on communication. But having 7 principles is good for those of us who are not Jesus…. Continue reading “Principles of Effective Procrastination”