Friday, September 30, 2005

Woo Hoo!

Carissa got a part in the fall play. Not that I doubted her ability, but it is a small cast - only seven people, and only two girls. So though I tried to encourage her, I was really afraid she wouldn't make it. When she got a call back and got to a 25 percent chance of getting the part I was even more nervous - I was sure she was getting her hopes up only to be dissappointed. Yesterday the cast list was posted. I told her to call me. I was sure she'd call if she got the part. No call. All day. She didn't come home after school - but that is not unusual for her - she is always busy. Then I had to go out for awhile. When I got home, she had been home, and was gone again. She hadn't said anything to anyone about if she got the part. I figured that was a bad sign. Bummer.
Finally I couldn't stand it any more. I confess I was a bad, bad mom. I snooped in her backpack (and before you yell at me I 'fessed up later...) and there among the books and papers was a script with her name on it! Woo Hoo! She did it! When she came home we did the victory dance.

November 17th - 19th @ 7:30 P.M. Anybody wanna go?
Full Length

Cast: 5 men, 2 women: 7 total

One of the funniest plays ever written, this extraordinarily inventive, side-splitting comedy was first presented by the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, then produced in Great Britain, then went on to Broadway. The action centers on the hilarious dilemma of a young architect who is visited by a man he's never met but who saved his life in Vietnam—the visitor turning out to be an incredibly inept, hopelessly stupid "nerd" who outstays his welcome with a vengeance. "Shue delivers a neatly crafted package that uses some classic comic forms to bring the audience to its knees, laughing." —Milwaukee Journal. "…the audience almost never stops laughing—handkerchiefs wiping away tears of merriment…" —Variety. "…a spring tonic of side-bruising laughter…" —Milwaukee Tribune.

THE STORY: Now an aspiring young architect in Terre Haute, Indiana, Willum Cubbert has often told his friends about the debt he owes to Rick Steadman, a fellow ex-GI whom he has never met but who saved has life after he was seriously wounded in Vietnam. He has written to Rick to say that, as long as he is alive, "you will have somebody on Earth who will do anything for you"—so Willum is delighted when Rick shows up unexpectedly at his apartment on the night of his thirty-fourth birthday party. But his delight soon fades as it becomes apparent that Rick is a hopeless "nerd"—a bumbling oaf with no social sense, little intelligence and less tact. And Rick stays on and on, his continued presence among Willum and his friends leading to one uproarious incident after another, until the normally placid Willum finds himself contemplating violence—a dire development which, happily, is staved off by the surprising "twist" ending of the play.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Siren song

Lately I have just had the strangest desire to take a road trip. To get outta here, and on the road - I don't even care where. No agenda, no deadlines, no responsibility, no destination. Anywhere where I can feel free. Where I can find space and time to just be. Where I know no one, and no one knows me. Water would be good - lake, river, ocean... but it doesn't really matter. Just to take a road to see where it goes. To go north, or south, or east or west, or right or left, just because I feel like it, and not because I am directed to do so. To feel the breeze, see the sun, even soak in the rain. To travel late at night when everyone is asleep. Empty roads, peaceful, soothing darkness, room to think. I know it's not the norm, but it's calling me quite insistently. I need a road trip. Anyone wanna join me?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Grand Canyon Risks

Yesterday at breakfast with my pastor's wife we were discussing their recent trip to the Grand Canyon. She told me she would really like to go down into the canyon sometime, but on their last trip they had only hiked down about a mile or so. As they walked they observed the mules and their passengers. The mules walked on the very edge of the path, right along the sheer drop off to the canyon. If you examined the mule's footprints they were on the very, very edge of the precipice. That to her was so very frightening that she will never ride the mules, but would rather hike the steep, rocky, trail because she has more faith in her ability to stay on her own feet than that the mules won't fall over the edge. Ok, so being me I immediately saw an application. Funny how my mind works these days... So often we want to go far in our spiritual walk. We want to accomplish something for God. We have a goal, and a desire, but we want to do it our own way. Sometimes God's way means walking on the edge - so close to the edge in fact that we might be hanging out over the abyss. Not safe, or comfortable. So we choose to walk our way instead of trusting the means God has provided to best accomplish His plan. In all probability we'll never get to the end, or if we do it will be so late that the opportunity has passed. By our need to cling to a perceived safeness we limit God. We need to be willing to live life on the edge!
Anyway, I said to my pastor's wife, "There's a great lesson in that story." When she looked a little puzzled I rephrased what I said, further clarifying. She looked at me like I was crazy........

Just what the doctor ordered......

Last night we went over to Wheaton College to hear Caedmon's Call. We had a great time. Fourth row. :) They did a lot of songs from their Share the Well album which I own and listen to quite often. Great music, great message. I really appreciate the heart they have for India and other desperately poor and needy people/countries. It was a great way to end a week that was very difficult for me. I'm really glad I went.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sacred vs Secular?

I'm still reading Your God is Too Safe by Mark Buchanan. (It really has too much to say to read fast, though I desparately want to...) One of the last chapters I read really resonated with me - it had to do with invoking God's presence, the sacred vs the secular. Here are a few of the thoughts that really reaffirm how I feel:

"...Theology was once queen of the sciences. It ruled over and gathered into it all disciplines...But we live in the ruins of such a world. A wedge has been driven between the things of God and the things of man, between the sacred and the secular, church and society, faith and physics, the invisible and the visible....Nietzsche was wrong, we haven't killed God; we've just domesticated Him....Our day-to-day life is over here, and God is over there.

...When we remove the false distinction between sacred and secular, see all things existing by Him, for Him, and through Him, we are then free to redeem many so-called secular activities for the kingdom of God.

...Why shouldn't Shakespeare's plays and courses in philosophy and long midnight chats enrich rather than diminish our life before God? God owns these things, too, and can bend them to His purpose. His light shines on them too.

...Why can't we gather our whole lives into the divine embrace?

...If Sunday for one hour is the only time we worship, no wonder we do it sloppily, haltingly, hastily, and leave as hungry as we came. If we only ate one day a week, and on that day only one meal, we would die soon enough.

....rarely if ever do we ask the Spirit to reveal to us more of God when we study a leaf, rock, bird, child, painting, carving, or poem.

..."Our life," the duke says in Shakespeare's As You Like It, "finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything." This in not animism, not pantheism. This, rather, is the recognition, a biblically shaped and grounded recognition, that God's ways of speaking, His methods of disclosure, are wide and varied. As such, we need to walk open eyed and with ears pricked.

Expectancy is the belief that God will do something. Expectation insists He do it in just this way. Sometimes expectation blinds us more to the God who is here right now than outright disbelief does. The Pharisees couldn't see Jesus for looking...but imagine a life buoyed by expectancy, by the conviction that the Lord will show Himself. How, where, when - we don't know that. We don't dictate the terms.

"Earth is crammed with heaven
and every common bush afire with God;
but only he who sees takes off his shoes.
The rest sit around it and
pluck blackberries."
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We are talking here about a tectonic shift in the way we see the world."

Friday, September 16, 2005

I am Not Supposed to be Here.....

While painting at Mike and Julie's the other day, Mike put Michael Card's Joy in the Journey CD on. For many years that has been one of my favorite CD's. I hadn't listened to it in awhile and in the listening I remembered just why I liked Michael Card so well. When I got home I dragged out all my Michael Card CD's and gave them a listen. One song struck me because of some things I have been experiencing in my life recently. Here are the lyrics:

It was His final word as we walked beside the sea
"You will be led where you don't want to go,"
I knew that he would test my faith and all that I believed
But just how far then I would never know

And He would send a vision then, once more beside the sea
To a rooftop where my ecstasy was seen
To ask what was unaskable, three times the vision came
And demanded I embrace what was unclean

You know I'm not supposed to be here
To cross the line no one has crossed before
To simply be one of the fools
That you've called to break the rules
And to go someplace I'm not supposed to be

My stumbling faith responded to what my mind said wasn't right
So I left that place and followed in a dream
To find unfamiliar strangers who were hungry for the Light
Then I realized that no one is unclean

But I was born to be a winner
And not to serve some fallen conquered king
Who took up the cross and bled
When he broke himself for bread
In a place where he was not supposed to be

And you know I'm not supposed to be here
And to go someplace I'm not supposed to be
To cross the line no one has crossed before
To simply be one of the fools
That you've called to break the rules
And to go someplace I'm not supposed to be

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The fish question is beside the point....

I have been thinking about Jonah lately. I always thought I knew what Jonah was about - you know, the basic obedience thing. But lately a new aspect of Jonah has occurred to me, one that hits me harder than the obedience issue. It's a more subtle problem, but I know when I think about it I am so guilty of being like Jonah. It occurred to me that Jonah's reason for running from God was not as obvious as "I just don't want to go"," it's inconvenient" whatever. It was the fact that Jonah wanted to do God's job and decide who was and who was not acceptable for the kingdom. He just plain didn't like the Ninevites. He didn't want to go because he was afraid God would forgive them and allow them to enter the Kingdom. Wow - that puts a whole new spin on things. Why don't I reach out to certain people? God loves us all equally and wants us all to be part of His kingdom. He loves my worst enemy, He loves people that hurt me. He loves people that do serious wrong in the world. He loves the inmate on death row, He loves the terrorist. I don't love them. I want revenge, I want them to get what they have coming, unless of course it's God's love and forgiveness! That's a pretty sobering thought. And it turns concepts like capital punishment upside down. I don't get to decide! I don't get to choose! I don't get to play God. I think we get so wrapped up in the story of Jonah, and whether it really happened or not that we miss the point. Or we look at the obvious symbolism of the three days, death and resurrection and don't look any deeper. We don't see God is concerned with everyone not just those who are worthy of His concern. And we don't realize that in our selfishness we don't want God's concerns to be our own. As Mark Buchanan puts it: "It's hard to draw close to God...when He so clearly doesn't cherish what we cherish or hate whom we hate - who doesn't share our fetishes or grievances or prejudices...when He's not safe. It's hard to obey a God like that." In incarnation He stands beside us no matter who we are and what we've done, whether we deserve it or not. Whether we are the sinner or the Pharisee, the redeemed or the bitter unbeliever. The point of Jonah in my life today? I just need to quit running and let God be God. I need to quit complaining and sulking and judging and learn the lesson of Jonah; God is concerned with all mankind. Even those who are a thorn in my side and don't see things the same way I do. And most importantly, He is not willing that any should perish. I am such a slow learner!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Solid Rock

A song that has really spoken to my heart over the last week or so is an old hymn. It was written by Edward Mote, back in 1834. These past few weeks I have been struggling in a lot of areas; nothing I want to go into here, but suffice it to say, it has been hard. Last week this old hymn began to invade my thoughts and seep its way into my soul. I have always loved this hymn, but right now it is hitting home (especially verses 2 and 3); this is what I need to remember, to hang on to. I find it amazing that an old hymn like this can speak so clearly to our needs today! I hope we never discard these rich expressions of our faith.

The Solid Rock

1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

* Refrain:
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

3. His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Everyone should spend a day with a baby......

Did you ever notice how excited a baby gets when it hears its parent's voice? It wiggles and grins and the excitement literally shines from his or her eyes.
Or when the baby sees mom or dad's face? It does anything possible to get to them including attempting to jump out of someone else's arms.
And no matter how quiet the parent may be as he or she enters the room the baby always senses its presence.
So why is it we as God's children don't often experience this reaction? In fact, many times we hide, or at the very least run the other way. Or maybe we just sit and wait for Him to come to us, usually on our terms.
I want to have that childlike excitement, desire, the I'll do anything to get there" attitude. I want to be delighted by the sight of my Father, or even when I can't see Him, to be overjoyed at the sound of His voice. I want to jump out of the things that are holding me back and into His arms. I want to sense when He is near and be attuned enough to His quiet presence to hear even the still small voice.
I want to wiggle and grin with excitement at the prospect of spending time in His presence. I want to become that baby whose all consuming desire, and greatest joy is to be with my Father.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Further lessons from Emma

It's amazing what babies can teach you. Emma is ready to crawl. She wants to get around. She wants to explore, to be able to get to her parents, whatever. And so she is up on all fours rocking. Rocking, rocking, going nowhere - just frustrating herself. Pitching forward on her nose, or in defeat dropping to her belly and scooting. All she has to do is lift up her little hand and move it forward, lift up her little knee and do the same. But she doesn't get it.
Ok - parallel to my life. Here I am, rocking on all fours, ready to go, frustrated with where I am. Wanting to be closer to God, wanting to explore all He has for me. And yet, I keep rocking, forgetting that in order to move forward I have to pick my hand up off the safety of the ground and reach forward. I have to realize in order to move forward I have to take some risk. Make a conscious effort to follow the first letting go of my safe life and follow it with another release of the ground with another part of me too. Instead I just rock and rock and rock, occasionally pitching forward on my nose and crying in anger and frustration. Or I just drop to my belly and revert to embracing the safety of those ground things in my life even though it makes moving forward a hundred times harder. I move, but so slowly I don't get far before I give up, exhausted. Looks like we both have a challenge Emma - but somehow I have a feeling you'll figure it out before me.....

Emma's lesson....

So, today I was at Mike and Julie's helping paint their new house so they can move in next week. During one part of the day I was trying to calm Emma down. Poor baby - it was a rough day for her - unfamiliar surroundings, off schedule, over stimulated, and afraid to miss anything that might be happening - even for one little minute. Beyond tired and totally exhausted, she refused at times to be comforted, fighting sleep and refusing to give in to people who loved her, knew she needed her rest, and only wanted the best for her. As I stood rocking her, holding her close in my arms it hit me - I am so like a baby right now. I'm like Emma, I'm unfamiliar in my surroundings, my life is off kilter, I am over stimulated, and overwhelmed in my questioning and reading, yet I can't stop because I'm afraid I might miss something important. Something I need to know, something that is happening that I need to be a part of. And in my life I am totally exhausted, worn down, overwhelmed and frustrated. Yet I refuse to accept the solace, the comfort, the rest that my Heavenly Father, who loves me so much, who knows what is best for me, who wants me to rest in him, is offering. He is holding me in His arms and I am kicking and screaming and fighting those loving arms, trying to do it on my own. Not accepting His direction although He obviously knows what I need, what is best for me right now. And I am exhausting myself in my struggle, but I refuse to give in. How stubborn am I?
And the parallal between me and Emma is convicting to say the least. Now the question is, what am I going to do about it?

Friday, September 09, 2005

God is God. Not safe, but good.

I've been thinking about the following quote a lot lately. It has always been one of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, but lately it has taken on a whole new meaning:
“Then he [Aslan] isn’t safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” Said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe but he’s good. He's the King, I tell you."
My God has been too safe, too comfortable, too nice... I wanted Him to remove me from the storm instead of seeing me through it; I wanted Him to make the problems go away instead of being a refuge, a hiding place. I believed He was (and always would be) just what I wanted and needed Him to be. And when I didn't need Him, he sat on the shelf.

"And at times the gap between the god we want and the God who wants us is vast beyond bridging." (Buchanan)
Then one day I, perhaps without realizing the ramifications of what I was doing, ventured out of that safe zone. Into an attempt at Kingdom living. It seemed like a good thing to do at the time. Who is God? What does He want from me? What is His plan? What are His attributes, and how should I be living in light of them? What does it mean to be a Christ follower? What does scripture say and mean about God? Jesus? The Kingdom of God? It has been a roller coaster life ever since. High highs, and lowest lows, but not boring! Awe, amazement, joy, pain, astonishment, frustration, excitement, fear, struggles, discouragement, trembling in light of His holiness. - the whole gamut of emotions. It's not easy. It's not comfortable. It's overwhelming at times, and scary. And it's not safe. God isn't safe - not by any stretch of the imagination. But He's good.

Which Saint are You?

So, I found this quiz on Mike's blog. Interesting.... Here are my results:

You are Joan of Arc! You don't really want to hurt
anyone, but if they attack your friends or your
country and no-one else will stand up to fight
them, you head into the battle. Beware though,
conviction tends to get you killed.

Which Saint Are You?

Monday, September 05, 2005

Thoughts from Elouise Renich Fraser.....

I am currently reading Confessions of a Beginning Theologian by Elouise Renich Fraser. It has really been an encouragement to me in light of where I am on this journey I have found myself on.

"Becoming a theologian is about accepting God's invitation to get started. It's about doing things beginners do. Beginners ask questions even though they're afraid some are dumb questions. They make mistakes even thought they want to get things right the first time. They accept help whether they've asked for it or not. They don't try to figure everything out on their own. They have fears, hopes and expectations. They....dare to take those first awkward steps. I was full of fear when I began seminary. Fear of being wrong(I had a need to be right). Fear of doing wrong (I was a married woman with children). Fear of being misunderstood (I didn't want to rock any boats). Fear of being criticized and fear of being ignored. Fear of change, Fear of exposing my limited academic background. Fear of being laughed at, especially behind my back. Fear of not being able to manage everything - children, marriage, finances. Fear of failure.

God invites us to become beginners. To forget about the impression we think we're making. To stop nodding yes when we don't yet understand what the other person is saying. To give up the habit of apologizing for taking up too much time with our questions. To stop trying to do it all by ourselves, not letting anyone know we feel overwhelmed. To stop hiding behind silence.

I know what happens when I lose touch with myself as a beginner. I become anxious and guarded lest I look or sound like a beginner. I lose my ability to wonder, to ask questions, to let my ignorance show and to laugh at myself. I lose my freedom and try to skate without letting go of the rail. I begin second guessing myself, which leads to failure of nerve and loss of confidence. I become obsessed with what other people think about me and my work. I accept their negative opinions as inerrant. Worst of all, I lose touch with the cutting edge of my life, which is the cutting edge of my theology.

We learn early to cloak ourselves in deceptive armors of competence and self-reliance. They're deceptive because they won't protect us from being hurt and misinterpreted. Instead they place more layers between us and God's surprises. It takes courage to begin laying down the disguises that hide our beginner status."

Thursday, September 01, 2005


that's how I feel in the aftermath of Katrina. My heart hurts for the people of New Orleans. Just the thought of the devastation and the hopelessness in the faces of a city and it's people brings me to tears. Why were so many people left in that city? Why didn't someone come along side a poor or sick neighbor and see that they were safely out of the city? Why didn't the city, in the face of such an obvious threat find a way to make sure those in the poorest areas, those with no means of transportation, those who were sick or elderly had a way to evacuate to safety? And why was relief so long in coming, that when it did come the rescuers were being attacked? Imagine if you had had no food, or water for days, no clean, dry clothes, no shelter, and you were afraid for yourself, your family, your neighbors. The heat is oppressive, the smell is intolerable. And then they sent one small bus at a time to rescue people. How would you respond? I truly feel for the people of New Orleans. The forgotten people.
How can this possibly have happened in a city in the US? To a city, yes, that can't be controlled, but to a people - what were those who had the ability to be proactive thinking?
Now the question becomes what can I do? How can I help? And I haven't figured it out yet.
But I weep for a city, all the displaced souls; in disbelief and shock, I weep and pray.