Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On the Little Town of Bethlehem

I really resonate with the lectionary for this season. It is just so rich and far-reaching. I find myself identifying with Zechariah in his doubt. With Mary in her awe. With John in his poetic description of the incarnation. Each one speaks to a different part of me.

I must confess that in the past I spent little time on the Old Testament passages of the season. Other than the ones from Isaiah, of course. One such passage was Micah 5:2-5. It didn't seem to have anything new to say. That is not the case for me anymore. In the last couple of years, this has become one of my favorite passages for the season of Christmas (along with John 1:1-14).

I've always loved the Christmas hymn "O Little Town of Bethlehem" by Phillips Brooks. The carefully chosen words and beautiful melody of this song follow me throughout the month of December. These words have taken on new meaning as I've come to understand a little more about Bethlehem.

Bethlehem was not just a small town. Eugene Peterson calls this insignificant, undistinguished village of Judah, "the runt of the litter" (Micah 5:2). There was really nothing special about it.

And yet God chose this most ordinary place as the setting for the most extraordinary event: the birth of our Savior. This is befitting the redemptive nature of our creative God. We - or at least I - almost miss the significance of the place where God's presence came to dwell among us.

The significance of the choice of this little insignificant village for the birth of our Savior doesn't stop with its location and population. That would be enough for us, wouldn't it? To know that God delights to use the commonplace to accomplish his uncommon purposes should tell us all we need to know about our God and what he can do with our seemingly insignificant lives. But there's more...

The real beauty of Bethlehem is in the meaning of Bethlehem itself. It comes from the Greek words "Bet" and "Lehem." These words are literally translated "House of" and "Bread," respectively. So, Bethlehem literally means "House of Bread." Is there any more perfect place for the birth of our Savior, the true "Bread of Life"?

The creativity of our God astounds me. "How silently, How silently the wondrous gift is given" in a little town in Bethlehem and in the quiet of our hearts. May our Lord Emmanuel come to you and abide with you this Christmas season in a new/old way...quietly and completely.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

God Always Understands

Someone sent me this YouTube video the other day and it really ministered to me. It is just a subtle reminder from a child of who God is and how deeply he cares for us. I thought it was fitting given this season of Advent and preparation for our Coming King. It might seem a little "Lenten" to those of you who love the liturgical seasons like I do. Advent or Lent, the shadow of the cross is always there...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Prayer for Advent

Holy Child,
whom the shepherds
and the kings,
and the dumb beasts adored,
be born again.

Wherever there is boredom,
wherever there is fear of failure,
wherever there is temptation too strong to resist,
wherever there is bitterness of heart,
come, Thou Blessed One,
with healing in Thy wings.

Savior, be born in each of us
who raises a face to Thy face,
not knowing fully who he is
or who Thou art,
knowing only that Thy love
is beyond his knowing
and that no other has the power
to make him whole.

Come, Lord Jesus,
to each who longs for Thee
even though he has forgotten
Thy name.

Come quickly.


- Frederick Buechner

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Four-Wheelers, Firearms, and Field Goals

I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my fine, Southern gentleman of a boyfriend and his family in rural Alabama. As the alliterative title to the blog suggests, I did everything one would expect to do in such a town. Well...short of actually hunting and killing something. It was fantastic.

Let me begin by saying that I am a "city" girl from Arkansas. I never came close to a four-wheeler or a firearm during my childhood (or thereafter...). I grew up with two sisters, so the opportunity to kick a field goal was non-existent. Now that I have shot a gun, driven a four-wheeler, and kicked a field goal....I feel like I was missing out!

Don't get me wrong. I loved my childhood. I had my own sort of adventures in my hometown. But they were mostly of the city park, mall, and movie variety. All we heard about four-wheelers and firearms were the dangers of both. And while they are dangerous when used improperly, I've got to admit that they are also a lot of fun!

My Thanksgiving in rural Alabama was everything I hoped it would be. Time moved slower. People were unbelievably friendly. The food was amazing. The scenery was gorgeous. The entertainment was the best kind. It was perfect. Just good, Southern hospitality and fun. The kind involving four-wheelers (What a thrill!), firearms (I am not such a good aim...but no one got hurt!), and field goals. Oh, and wonderful home-cooking, Southern accents, and porch swings. I miss it already!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Obligatory Post

I am a big blogger slacker. I am fully aware of this fact. If I wasn't before, I am now...the three of you that read my blog have let me know. I am terribly sorry. I would love to tell you that I have been unbelievably busy and haven't had enough time to devote to a good blog. But that would be a lie. I could blame it on my other blog (for the students here). That would be a cop-out, too. I really just haven't felt like blogging here. I think this is due in large part to the fact that I feel like every post should be either highly inspirational or funny. I have felt neither when thinking about what to blog here.

I blame my blogging friends.

There's Jackson's is both inspiring and funny. A nice balance of both. He is a man of remarkable depth and his blogs always reflect that. Every once in a while he'll sneak in a funny one. Those are outstanding, too. I read his blogs and I covet his depth and his wit.

There's Cindy's informative and delightful. I love her recipes and her rants. In addition to this, she is an excellent storyteller. Whether it is about an unwanted house guest (a mouse!) or something more serious (grandparents), I am captivated. I read her blogs and wish I had her way with words. Plus, I am convinced she has a plan for everyone's life and she's probably right! :)

Then there's my friend Matt. He's been a huge slacker. No blogs for months. No matter, though. He is an outstanding writer. Just the thought of what he might write on his blog haunts me. He is a storyteller, too. And a poet. And a sage. And songwriter. He's going to write the next great American novel someday. Eat your heart out (Nell!) Harper Lee!

Don't even get me started on the rest. Jill, Lisa, and Katie tell stories with pictures. Todd makes you feel like you're right there with him as he starts a new church. There's no mistaking that JD has a way with words (and videos, for that matter). And the list could go on for the rest of the blogs I read (some listed on my blog, some not).

I am kidding. Sort of. Everything I said above is true. If you haven't checked out the other blogs listed on mine, you should. They are excellent. But they are no excuse for why I haven't been blogging consistently lately. I vow to blog more regularly again...starting now. No more apology posts or pressure to be perfect. Just little ol' me and what's swirling around in this head of mine. I promise. :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Working Wish List

My friend Matty has always dreamed of meeting Amy Grant. Well, that wish was recently fulfilled and surpassed. In the span of one week, Matty scored concert tickets, backstage passes, and a brief duet with his hero. In honor of my friend and his elated state, I've compiled my own "wish list" for this life.

1. Write a devotional book (Working Title: Steadfast).
2. Take a trip to the Holy Lands.
3. Attend any number of major sporting events (Wimbledon, The Masters, Stanley Cup Finals).
4. Milk a cow.
5. See a Broadway show.
6. Visit all 50 states.
7. Take an extended vacation to Europe (tour by train...).
8. Concerts: Michael Buble, Paul Potts, Barbra Streisand, Garth Brooks
9. Attend Jimmy Carter's Sunday School Class.
10. Meet Billy Graham.

These are just the ones that come to mind today. The above list is in no particular order and is far from final. I am sure I'll think of others later and add them as I do. Feel free to share some of your own in the comments section!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Quote Stealing...

I stole this quote from a friend. I read it and couldn't get it out of my mind. I am seeking to live this aware of God's grace and sure of my faith. It just resonated with me and I hope it will with you, too.

"What a wonderful thing it is to be sure of one's faith! How wonderful to be a member of the evangelical church, which preaches the free grace of God through Christ as the hope of sinners! If we were to rely on our works--my God, what would become of us?" - George Frederic Handel

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Satire and the Sacred...

DISCLAIMER: I am not really a Chuck Norris fan. I never watched Walker, Texas Ranger or anything else starring him. Someone pointed me to this website recently, though, and I thought it was very funny.

For a good laugh, take a look at this satirical website of Chuck Norris "facts." Please note that Chuck Norris had nothing to do with this website. I haven't read them all, but the ones I have read are funny.

In my search for the site, I stumbled across these thoughts from Chuck Norris himself. I thought I'd pass them along to you. I was impressed with his candor...

One of the satirical "facts" made of Norris states that "There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live." Upon hearing this, Chuck replied:

"It's funny. It's cute. But here's what I really think about the theory of evolution: It's not real. It is not the way we got here. In fact, the life you see on this planet is really just a list of creatures God
has allowed to live. We are not creations of random chance. We are not accidents. There is a God, a Creator, who made you and me. We were made in His image, which separates us from all other creatures. By the way, without Him, I don't have any power. But with Him, the Bible tells me, I really can do all things—and so can you."

Well said, don't you think?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Things I Love

In no particular order (other than the first two!)...

1. The Trinity.

2. The Communion of Saints.

3. A Good Book. (Like...700 Sundays by Billy Crystal)

4. Dark Chocolate.

5. Cards.

6. Letters.

7. Snickerdoodle Coffee from Common Grounds.

8. A Good Laugh.

9. A Good Cry.

10. Conversations.

11. An Inspiring Quote.

12. The Cone (If you're in it, you know who you are and that this encompasses oh-so-much).

13. My Southern Gentleman of a Boyfriend.

14. My Adorable Nephews.

15. My Unbelievable Family.

16. Quiet Time.

17. A Good Movie.

18. Hiking.

19. John Denver (First on a long list of guilty pleasures in the music department...).

20. Good Lyrics (Welcome to Our World by Chris Rice is an all-time favorite).

21. Writing.

22. Road Trips.

23. Long Walks on the Beach. (especially with # 13...)

24. A Well Placed Comma :).

25. The Smell and Taste of Coconut (Bath & Body Works Exotic Coconut is fantastic).

That's all for now. Your turn now!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Adventures in Missing the Point

Each week I receive student ministry articles via e-mail. There's a section at the bottom called "Stranger Than Fiction" that always interests me. This week's was equally intriguing...and more than a little infuriating.

Stranger than Fiction
Dissin' Jesus at the Emmys - On September 8, Kathy Griffin, a bawdy, foulmouthed comedian, accepted an Emmy Award for her reality show, My Life on the D-List, and in her acceptance speech she explained that while other actors might thank Jesus for such an honor, she wouldn't consider it. "Suck it, Jesus," she exuberantly added, waving her statuette in the air. "This award is my God, now." Outrage from Christian groups followed, and newspapers reported that E! Television would scrub the speech before airing it the following weekend, which triggered an equal and opposite outcry from liberal groups accusing E! of censorship. When the awards show aired the next weekend, edited but not completely airbrushed, a small Christian theater company based in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, took out two full-page ads in USA Today at $90,000 a pop, decrying Griffin's remarks and pleading for a new civility. Griffin, meanwhile, went on Larry King, who played the unedited clip and ignited the entire thing all over again.(Newsweek, October 1)

This made me angry. Not for the reasons you would expect (Unless you're familiar with my post about Imus.). I can't say that I agree with what Griffin said. I believe it was in bad taste and completely unnecessary. On Larry King, she refused to apologize or back down. However, she readily admitted that it was a joke. While it was a deplorable "joke" (if that is what it was), was it any worse than those who do choose to thank Jesus and turn around and deny him by their lifestyle, their career choices, and their actions? That's another blog...

What really upset me about this article was the price-tag on the two full-page ads that the Christian group took out in USA Today. $180,000? Come on! Was that good stewardship? Do we honestly think Jesus is applauding these people for "defending" Him? It is hard for me to picture a whole boardroom of people who thought it was a good idea to spend such an exorbitant amount of money on a useless add that few will read and even fewer will respond to positively. It is a poor representation of the Gospel we say we believe.

People are not alarmed when Christians get angry and protest things. This is just an opportunity for a world of lost people to roll their eyes at us again. "Here we go again...another Christian rant. Those people are always mad about something?" Is that how we want to be perceived? More importantly, are we really representing Jesus well when we do things like this?

Jesus doesn't need us to defend him. He calls on us to love him. And he takes it one further and also asks us to love our neighbors while we are at it. Who are those people? The poor. The weak. The girl or boy next door. And even the difficult ones that say things that offend us.

I am not saying Kathy Griffin was right. I've already said that I think what she said was in bad taste. I am not calling on Christians to support what she said or condone it. But no two page spread in a magazine is going to convince her that Jesus loves her and longs for her. I am doubting it will do that for anyone. Perhaps it made them feel better to make a statement against her and plead for "a new civility," but it did little or nothing to advance the Gospel.

How about using that money to feed the hungry in our backyards (and all over the world, for that matter). I don't know much about that area of Tennessee, but I am guessing it is a safe bet that there are people right there in Pigeon Forge who are hungry - physically and spiritually. How about spending that money to reach out to them and say to them with our actions that there's a God who loves them? That is the kind of "response" that causes people to take notice...

I have much more to say about all of this, but I'm more curious as to what your response is to this scenario. Agree? Disagree? I welcome your thoughts on this. I don't have it all figured out myself, I just know that my gut instinct tells me this was poor stewardship on the part of the church and a poor representation of the God we say we love.

A quote I love that I believe speaks to this (especially the last sentence)...

"You know, we say we are followers of Jesus Christ, and yet I fear that we crave a life almost in opposition to the one he lived. We want what's easy; he chose what's hard. We want life for ourselves; he chose to give his life for others. We want approval for our own deeds; he chose to do the deeds of his father in heaven. We seek the condemnation of others who are not life us; he wants to redeem us all." - Stan Gaede

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sneak Preview

I am well aware that I have been a "blogger slacker" lately and I am sorry. I assure you it is not for lack of thinking about it and wanting to write. It is nailing down the time to actually write that is the problem. Things are a little crazy around given that the school year is well underway and I work with college students. I promise to offer you a solid blog this week.

As a "sneak preview," just know that things are going fantastically well in my little world. I love my job, my church, and the people I work with here. It is such a great church with people who are generous with their prayers, encouragement, and support (financial and otherwise). It is also wonderful to be able to take a short trip home for birthdays (my nephews, my mom's) or any other reason. I do miss the boy, though...but things are going remarkably well there, too. He's unbelievably thoughtful and adorably Southern. Treats me like a queen, even from a distance. (That is likely all you'll get from me on this blog about that...!)

More to come soon, I promise!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Movie Release Update

It looks like the release date for August Rush has been moved to November 21st. If you're unfamiliar with this, see my blog from or just go watch the trailer online. It looks like it is going to be one remarkable film!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Serendipity and Saints

ser·en·dip·i·ty (sěr'ən-dĭp'ĭ-):
1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2. good fortune; luck

Serendipity. Fun word (under-used). Great movie (I [heart] John Cusack. Supposedly fantastic restaurant (in NY).

I'm in a serendipitous season in my life. Those "desirable discoveries" seem to be happening rather frequently lately. Little and big ones. Twice I've found myself walking through the mall (and I hate to shop!) aimlessly, only to run into people I've been trying to connect with for weeks. One of them was just on a 6-hour break from the camp where she was working for the summer. Strange.

I had a beautifully serendipitous moment the other night at my first Disciple Bible Study class. We were making introductions and this 91-year old lady was telling about herself and where she had gone to church in the past. It was the same church my grandmother attended while she was alive, so I asked if she knew her. She did not...but the older man next to me did. Making that connection almost made me cry. It's that "communion of saints" thing...makes you feel like you're not so far removed from the people you've loved and lost. I have a feeling that our little connection will only deepen as we walk through this study together.

I wanted to share that moment because I have long been thinking of writing a blog about my grandma. We were very close. We laughed together, cried together, dreamed together, and just loved each other deeply. She had her struggles, but they only made her into the unbelievable person I grew to love and admire more than I could ever express in words. I tried once...and the results are below in a poem that I wrote for her. Keep in mind that I was 18 years old, so it is raw and unpolished.


Heroes come in all shapes and sizes
With masks and capes and many great disguises.
But none so discreet as this one does appear,
And in my heart, this hero’s very dear.

Some say a hero must be strong and bold.
If that’s the case, let the story be told
Of a woman of wisdom, strength, and love,
Who follows the Lord and His plan from above.

She’s quick with a hug or a shoulder when you need one,
And of course a great joke or a laugh for some real fun.
She’s my inspiration, my strength for each day.
In just who she is, she has shown me the Way.

Her cape you won’t see, for she’s not wearing one,
But you can bet on a halo when it’s all said and done.
For she’s the kind of person who loves from within
With no thought of what she may lose or win.

She has blessed me, touched me, and loved me so
In all that she’s done, she’s only helped me grow.
All things considered, she fits right in
As a hero, a legend…my grandma, my friend.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Journey Without Maps

"Faith is better understood as a verb than as a noun, as a process than as a possession. It is on-again-off-again rather than once-and-for-all. Faith is not being sure where you're going but going anyway. A journey without maps." - Frederick Buechner

Journey. I really love that word. It awakens something in me that I cannot explain. It seems so...infinite and inviting.

Infinite because it seems to capture the endless possibilities and lessons to be learned in this life. Also because as Christians we know that we are not Home yet, but we're ever on our way. Sometimes that way is treacherous. Sometimes it is wondrous. Most of the time it falls somewhere in between.

Inviting because it seems so...communal. The idea of journey seems to imply that there are others on the road with us. Oh sure, sometimes it seems as if we are all alone on our journey. Like we are being asked to walk this endless road by ourselves. We feel lonely, abandoned, and utterly isolated. But it is all an illusion. There is at least that eternal Someone there beside us and often countless others surrounding us seeking to walk the same path. On our best days there's a tangible person or two with whom we can share the ups and downs of the journey who has chosen to take the journey, too.

I am at a point in my journey where I am exhilarated by the idea that it is a journey without maps. If you had asked me a year ago how I felt about it, the answer would have been different. I felt isolated and alone and angry that I didn't have a blueprint for the journey. There's no blueprint or map right now for any part of my life and I'm loving it! I feel excited about what is ahead even though I see it not.

Why the extremes in response to this journey without maps? Well, the easy answer is that I am human. It happens. The better answer is that I find myself trusting God to a greater degree at this point in the journey. My vision is clear and I am able to see how He has guided me through the mountaintops and valleys of my life and that He continues to do so now.

Ask me again in a year and I might have different thoughts (depending on the day). For now, I'm excited about what is around the next corner and cannot wait to see where He is leading me. I also look forward to sharing this journey with the unbelievable people He has placed in my life who can remind me what I've said here today when I find myself in the less-than-enthusiastic camp...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fear Conquered

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." - 1 John 4:18

These words, while a beautiful thought, have always sort of haunted me. They replay in my mind when I find that I have not quite conquered fear in my life (a daily...or at least weekly occurence!). I have learned to fight through fear and just go for it in most circumstances. And while this can be a good quality, I think it has largely kept me from experiencing what this verse really means.

As is always the case, my devotional brought up the same theme. I have found that when God is trying to teach me something, He exhausts all avenues. The same idea seems to surface everywhere I turn. When I finally sat down to ready my devotional the other day, here is what I found:

"When the story is over, the fear will be conquered; God will have delivered. The troubles will be mastered, and God will have freed the believer. The needs in life will have been met, and God will have provided for every need." - Dennis Kinlaw, This Day with the Master, August 12

I immediately called to mind the verse listed above. "There is no fear in love...perfect love drives out fear" kept replaying in my mind like a broken record. Those words and Kinlaw's words convicted me and caused a longing to awaken in me. The refrain is not unfamiliar to me...

I kept thinking...I want fear to be conquered in my life now. I want to be freed from worry and fear now. I want my needs to be met now. I just want to live free in the now.

Then it happened. I had what I like to call a "mini-ephiphany." A moment of absolute clarity where it all just comes together for me. I don't imagine it will be earth-shattering for many of you but I thought I'd share it anyway.

As I sat and reflected about that verse and what I had read in my devotional, it all just began to make perfect sense to me. I don't have to conquer fear. I don't have to try and free myself from worry. I don't have to know how everything is going to work and how. It is not up to me to have that perfect love that drives out fear. I just have to cling to the One who does...

It occurs to me that I might be making sense to no one but myself at this point, so let me put it differently. It seems to me that the verse should read (at least in our minds), "There is no fear in love because God is love. God, who is perfect love, drives out our fear. He drives it out because fear has to do with punishment and those of us who love and live in God know that this is not the end of the story. We need not fear because we are covered by the perfect love of God."

I knew it before, but it became clearer to me the other is not up to me. I'll still have fear here and there, but I need not try to conquer it on my own. I'll just allow myself to be embraced by the One who embodies the perfect love and has the power to drive it out.

I'm done fighting through my fears on my own. Where has it gotten me anyway? Maybe it has made me a little "tougher" or (worse) given me some sense of false pride in my ability to overcome. It never lasts...and it shouldn't.

I am determined to live free in this life. I believe I can, not because I have the power to do so, but because I know the One who does. And there is no fear in Him...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Just for Fun

I thought this was hilarious. Check out the Weinermobile Woes.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Movie Preview

My friend Cindy alerted me to this forthcoming movie on her blog a while ago. I just got around to watching the trailer...and I'm hooked. Please take a moment to view the trailer. Then promptly go and mark your calendars for the release date (October 19, 2007). You won't want to miss August Rush. The cast is phenomenal and the concept is original and looks to be deeply moving.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Glimpse of Jesus

"God is tender and loves us as just as we are, not in spite of our sins and faults, but with them. God does not condone or sanction evil, but he does not withhold his love because there is evil in us. The key to this understanding is the way we feel about ourselves. We cannot stand or accept love from another human being when we do not love ourselves, much less believe or accept that God could possibly love us." -- Brennan Manning, A Glimpse of Jesus

I am currently reading A Glimpse of Jesus by Brennan Manning. I loved Ragamuffin Gospel and every thought I've ever read by this remarkable man. This book is no exception. I read Ragamuffin Gospel relatively quickly because it was so good. While this book is equally as good, I am reading it slowly. In part because I have been a bit busy as-of-late. But mostly because of the subtitle. The whole title reads like this: A Glimpse of Jesus: The Stranger to Self-Hatred.

While I don't hate myself, I know it won't surprise my handful of readers to hear me confess that I have difficulty receiving love. From God or anyone, really. I look at others who struggle the same and I cannot understand it. I have no trouble seeing how other people (even ones who frustrate me!) are deserving of love. I just have trouble receiving it myself. And the Lord has (humorously) surrounded me with an unbelievably loving family, loving friends, and companions on this journey. He is desperately trying to show me how he loves me through others. And I know that he does...I just don't know that I know that I know.

I venture to say many of you feel at least partially the same. Or maybe you don't. Either way, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. It is a lingering difficulty in my life. It has been alleviated during brief seasons in my life, but it still seems to loom behind me. I long to be set free of this feeling and I believe that God desires that for me (and you!). But how?

For now, I am learning a lot from this book and what Manning pulls from the Word. I feel layers being lifted and I am loving it, but I have a long way to go!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Random Find of the Day

I have just returned from the local Christian bookstore. I went to browse their Bible study material to see if I could find any possibilities for my college students. While that might not seem all that interesting, it was. It was, at the very least, enlightening...

While there I could not resist the card section. I am sucker for good cards (Though there are very few good ones these days in the Christian book stores...sad, but true.). I noticed something ironic.

There was no section for "love." Interesting. Disturbing. Ironic. Sad.

Isn't that a central principle for us? And shouldn't we be about love...sustaining marriages and relationships and expressing love to each other? As it is, most of the books on relationships in the Christian bookstore I went to (a national chain) assumed not love...but difficulty and problems. The titles were mostly negative. The ones that weren't were more of a "how-to" guide to finding your mate. Those leave a bad taste in my mouth.

So, what does this say about us (Christians, the Church)?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Freedom and Relief

The subtitle on my blog says that it will be about life, faith, and living free. That said, I thought this quote was worth sharing. Enjoy...

"My praying friend, continue to make known your desires to God in all things. It is when we can speak with one another about anything and everything that conversation really affords us freedom and relief. Let Him decide whether you are to receive what you ask for or not." - O. Hallesby

Monday, July 16, 2007

Things that Disturb/Annoy Me...

Walking out of a bathroom with two un-purchased books at a local bookstore…

Non hand-washers…especially at a bookstore or restaurant!

Texting while driving

Strangers who have what my friend Julie calls “verbal diarrhea” all over you…

Changing a baby’s diaper somewhere other than the bathroom…

Public breast-feeding

40+ year-old women wearing halters

Toupees (Especially on married men. I mean, all sense of intimacy would be lost when he took that thing off to go to bed…)


Hair helmets on older (or younger, for that matter) women

Men who wear eyeliner (except maybe that guy from Green Day...)


Those shoes with the wheels on them

Little girls in strapless dresses

Jeans that are entirely too low rise (i.e. – seeing a bare rear end on a man or woman while shopping etc.)

Riding a motorcycle without a helmet


Parents who let their kids run all over the place (especially in restaurants)

Walking into a public place (restaurant, mall, etc.) without shoes

Consider this a work in progress...I am sure I will add to it often! Feel free to add your own!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Trinitarian Ministry

I am reading a wonderful book by Steve Seamands these days called, "Ministry in the Image of God." One of the great things about this book is that Seamands prolifically quotes others. I am a lover of quotes and the communion of, I am loving this book! I picked it up in a bookstore in Arkansas off the bargain table for just a few dollars (I still don't understand what it was doing on that table!). It has been well worth it! Below is a quote Seamands included from C.S. Lewis on Trinitarian ministry that I thought you might enjoy.

"The whole dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal life is to be played out in each one of us; or (putting it the other way round) each one of us has got to enter that pattern, take his place in the dance. Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire; if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry." - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Saturday, July 07, 2007


I am feeling...pensive tonight. Melancholy. I think it is due in part to my lack of social contact with many people today. I ran some errands and mostly sat around the house. This is good for me, as I have been going and going and going for the past few weeks. To the beach. To rural Alabama. To a family reunion. Back to Auburn. Moving to Arkansas. I have been going non-stop these past few weeks. I needed some down time...some alone time to reflect on the whirlwind that is my life.

It might surprise those of you who know me well to find out that I love just being alone. Oh sure...I am a people person. I am deeply invested in my family and friends. It is life-giving for me to see or speak to the people I love most in the world. I am deeply relational. But I desperately need big pockets of time alone to reflect and relax (two things I don't do often enough).

Today was one of those days. It was good and difficult. When I get too much time without contact with others, I think too much and over-analyze the details of my life. I'm not sure if that is a good or bad thing at this point...we'll just have to see.

I talked with a handful of people by phone today that I've been missing for weeks. This was good and bad, too. Made me miss them and wish that there was someway we could create some sort of ideal village where we could all co-exist somehow. I think this way often, as the people I love most in the world are far from me these days...I wonder why God would give us to each other only to separate us like this. Then I remember that we are all where God wants us right now...and I feel a little better. I am still holding out hope for that ideal village...

My thoughts also turn to the positive. I wonder how in the world I arrived right here in just a matter of a few weeks. I am back in Fayetteville, Arkansas at a place I love and job I am sure to love. I am close enough to my family that I could just randomly decide to go home...and that is nice for a change. I think this is the start of a new and beautiful season in my life.

So, this pensive feeling...I'm not sure what to do with it. It is very real, but I'm not sure why I am feeling it so strongly. I guess it is not all bad to feel a bit melancholy and contemplative. Maybe some sleep will shake the sadness...or maybe your prayers?

Thank you...and good night. :)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Divine Resemblance...

"O Lord Jesus Christ, save us from the error of wishing to admire you instead of being willing to follow you and resemble you." - Soren Kierkegaard

[I promise a new post as soon as the boxes are unpacked. For now, enjoy this prayer.]

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Just a quote I ran across today that has everything to do with my blog and my understanding of this life of faith...

"You...cling to Jesus! You...give your life to Jesus! It'll be wild. It'll be unpredictable. It'll be dangerous. But, man will you know how to dance!" - Mike Yaconelli (1942-2003)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Forgiveness Quote

"Forgiveness is the answer to the child's dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean again." -- Dag Hammarskjold

Monday, June 25, 2007

Moving Woes...

Moving is the pits. I hate the packing. I hate the goodbyes. I hate the overwhelming feeling of it all. It is exhausting just to think about getting it all done, much less actually doing it! I am determined to get it all done before my movers (a.k.a. - the parents) get here on Thursday.

It is not looking good.

I took a fun trip to Arkansas this past week for a family reunion. While it was a great trip and a great visit with family, it was likely not the best decision I have ever made. Due to the whirlwind nature of the trip (and two other trips within the week that total at least 36 hours in the car), I have gotten nothing done. And by nothing I mean...nothing. I have no boxes. I have no newspapers. I just have a big, fat, overwhelming mess to deal with.

Commence praying for me NOW! More specifically, pray for my parents and for Jason who will be helping me. I tend to get just a little unpleasant during the packing process. This will not be fun for them...

Then there is the actual leaving part. This is hard for an emotional girl like myself. I have held it together pretty well so far. This is likely due to my lack of sleep over the last several weeks. It has little to do with my being exceptionally emotionally stable. I am due for a good cry about all of pray for that to be timely.

On the flipside, I am more than excited about my new place of residence. There's a yard and everything. Real, living grass...something I do not have at my current place (everything is dead and gray there...). My roommate is a friend from my sorority days in college (go ahead and laugh...) and she is a world of fun. My neighbors are old friends of mine, too. It is wild how it has all worked out. It is a great house in a great neighborhood near a golf course. Perhaps I will learn to golf. Who knows?!

The job that is waiting for me looks to be fantastic in every way. Great staff of people I already know and love in a church I know and love, too. Plus, I'll be miles from my little sister and an easy drive from the rest of my family. My little sister is already planning a big party for me...yippee!

So, if you think about it in the next several days...say a few prayers for me. Pray that I'll have peace in the process. Maybe even pray that packing will be fun. Pray for good goodbyes. Pray for safe travels. Pray for a good sense of humor in the midst of it all.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Unbelievable and Unexpected

A friend of mine just sent this to me and just told me to watch it. I am asking you to trust me and do the same. Please take the time to watch at least the first of these videos. I promise you it will surprise you and make your day...

Paul Potts 1

Paul Potts 2

Paul Potts 3

Monday, June 18, 2007

Still Me

In case all two of my readers wonder if I have had any typically "Julie" moments in the last few months (since the communion debacle and/or the thumb incident -- see February and March posts). You'll be glad to know that the answer is a resounding, "Yes!"

I haven't fallen down much lately (I will probably eat my words later today because I just wrote that. Anticipate the post!). However, I have done some pretty scatterbrained things in the last few days. The biggest of which happened just two days ago.

I spent some time at the beach this past week. As a side was wonderful. I am not the best at resting and relaxing (who knew?!), but I did just that in Gulf Shores, Alabama for a few days. The weather was perfect and the water was incredibly clear. I loved every minute of it.

On our way home from the beach, I realized (just thirty minutes from my apartment) that I didn't know where my keys were. Um...I left them in someone else's car. And this someone was a good three hours from us at that point.

Yes...I was a gifted child.

Why I did not think to make sure I had them prior to leaving the beach I do not know. But, alas...I did not. Upon my discovery, I freaked out (also shocking, I know!). I was so mad at myself. My traveling companion (Jason) did not share my anxiety. He calmly picked up the phone, called his mother, and confirmed that my keys were with her. Without missing a beat, he determined that we would just drive there that night or the next day to get them.


Who does that? I thought he should be at least a little angry with me. This was a stupid thing I had done and it would mean us driving a total of six additional hours to retrieve the said keys. Had I discovered my ignorance earlier, we would have been able to meet up with his parents and drive on home. I am not that quick, this was going to be costly. The boy was completely calm, cool, and collected. I have never seen anything like it. I tried to give him room to be mad...he just wasn't.

I tell this story for two reasons:

a) Because it is a classic "Julie" moment. Who does crap like this at my age? Honestly.

b) Because the whole random, ridiculous experience really ministered to me. Who does what Jason did? I mean I was mad at me...I could not understand why he was not. This is how he is on a daily basis, though.

And this, my friends, is how God is teaching me a little about Himself and how He deals with me, too. I give myself little grace, but God gives it abundantly. I wish I could wrap my head around that...

I hope this post confirms that I am still me and fills your need-to-know about my little life. More later this week...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What is Needful for the Road

Something I stumbled across in my collection of quotes and prayers today. I am learning the truth of this in my life right now in a thousand ways...

"It is well for those who find themselves in the dark night of the soul to persevere in patience...Let them trust in God, who does not abandon those who seek God with a simple and right heart, and will not fail to give them what is needful for the road, until he brings them into the clear and pure light of love." -- St. John of the Cross

Monday, June 11, 2007

To Such As These...

Last night I offered a sermon about the text from Mark 10:13-16 where Jesus says the kingdom belongs to children. This brief discourse (also found in Matthew and Luke) has consistently challenged me as I have grown. What does it mean to mature in our faith and maintain our childlike love of Him? What does it look like for us to be utterly dependent on Him while seeking to be dependable to others? These and countless other questions swirl in my head as I read a passage like this. I know that mostly God is just asking me to return to the simplicity of childhood and remember how much I need Him (like a child needs his parents). I get that, but I am but a poor example of it.

I ran across these words from Frederick Buechner this afternoon. I really wish I would've found it yesterday, as it captures everything I tried to say last night. Isn't that always the way?!

"Two thousand years of homiletic sentimentalizing to the contrary notwithstanding, Jesus was not playing Captain Kangaroo. He was saying that the people who get into Heaven are people, who, like children, don't worry about it too much. They are people who, like children, live with their hands open more than with their fists clenched. They are people who, like children, are so relatively unburdened by preconceptions that if somebody says there is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, they are perfectly willing to go take a look for themselves."

Friday, June 08, 2007

What about the rest of us?!

Take a look at these photos I have been admiring lately. The photos were taken by my friend Rob who is off on adventure in Alaska. The pictures he has taken of the scenery there will make you want to jump on the next plane so you can see it for yourself. In lieu of that, enjoy his photos. While you are there, take a look at the other albums. I am pretty sure Rob can make anything look beautiful (take a look at the album called "macro-tastic")!

In addition to being a fantastic photographer, Rob is also extremely smart, an excellent singer, unbelievably creative (In the third picture in "me," he's looking through a piece of art he made from paint sample squares!), a great speaker, deeply loyal, an expert practical joker, and a lover of Jesus (and good pizza!). He's so gifted, sometimes I feel like it is unfair to the rest of us. But Rob is also genuinely humble, so it is hard to stay jealous...

Anyhow, enjoy the photos!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Failing with Jesus

"I've been saying across the years that in the Cross is the Victory, and now I have to pick up that Cross in a new sense and show that it is the Victory! As I have said, I may fail, but I would rather fail with Jesus than succeed with anybody else, for to be with Jesus is the Victory. He doesn't defend the Victory; he is the Victory." - E. Stanley Jones

[These words appear in the book The Divine Yes, written by E. Stanley Jones after he suffered a massive stroke. The book is exceptional in its ability to both encourage and challenge any Christian seeking meaning and depth in their relationship with Christ and others.]

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


There is a framed card on my desk with a simple message. The card has little dots all over it and at the center is the word "beautiful." The card is from my little sister Jenny and serves as a reminder to me that God thinks I am inwardly and outwardly beautiful. It is also there to remind me that if God thinks I am beautiful then I should think that, too. This is easier-said-than-done most days.

I believe that beauty is so much more than a reflection in the mirror; it is a reflection of who we are inside. I believe that well for others, but I struggle to believe it for myself. I imagine many of you find yourself in the same camp. You know that beauty is about so much more than how you think you "look" on any given day, but living into the reality of that is difficult.

We blame it on the media and the emphasis they put on outward beauty. We blame it on the movies and how they idealize how she who has a perfect face and body gets the girl. We blame it on a thousand things outside of ourselves.

I think we're wrong.

Sure, I think the media, the movies, and other things contribute to our feeling less-than-beautiful at times. However, I do not think it is entirely the fault of our society. I believe it begins within. Real beauty looks more like unexplained radiance than perfect skin and the perfect body. The people I call beautiful are those who reflect God's love and grace. They are people like my sisters Jill and Jenny who are struggling to love God and love people as best they can. And inward beauty like that creates an outward beauty that is irresistible.

I believe it pleases God when we accept ourselves as "beautiful." I believe that seeking and following Jesus makes us beautiful. I believe the Spirit of God within us wants us to believe we are beautiful. I also believe it is difficult to remember these things day after day.

My challenge to you is to start to see yourself as beautiful. Cultivate a life that seeks to love and to serve God and others and you'll find yourself feeling more beautiful. When we are inwardly balanced, it always shines through outwardly. I also challenge you today to call out "beauty" in the lives of the people around you. Words are powerful and there are far too few positive ones out there. Be the source of spiritual encouragement for another person.

As a closing thought, I’ll share this quote from Khalil Gibran. His thoughts are sometimes peculiar to me, but this one really resonated with me. I think it sums up what I am struggling to say here...

"Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart."
- Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Power of Prayer...

I just found out that a picture of the prayer board some Auburn Wesley Foundation students painted is in the current issue of Christianity Today. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a link to the article/picture on their website. I would encourage you to pick up a copy of the issue and read the related article if you can. The picture is clear enough to read the names of a few of the thousands of students who signed the memorial.

There's a link to an earlier article here.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Oh, the Irony!

The picture is of young Jamison Stone of Alabama. The 11-year old boy is seen here with the 9 feet 4 inches, 1,051 pound wild hog he killed with a pistol recently. There are too many jokes to tell that have likely already been told, but feel free to post a few more in the comments section! For more information about the story, just Google it. The story is everywhere. It seems an 11-year old has dethroned the folks who killed "Hogzilla" a few years ago!

I post this picture today because I find it a little ironic, given I am an Arkansas Razorback and that the Auburn Tigers have had a time beating us this year (sorry, Jason) in sports. Is this a sign of things to come? I guess we'll have to wait and see!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Given the name of my blog, it will not surprise you to know that I love "Dancing with the Stars." Because of my job (and lack of TiVo), I am unable to watch as often as I'd like. This makes me very sad. I catch it here and there, though and when I do I love every minute of it. It is like a comedy of errors to watch some of the contestants (i.e. - Billy Ray Cyrus this season!). It is a delight to watch others like Joey Fatone, Laila Ali, and Apolo Anton Ohno.

The first time I watched this season I knew that Ohno would be the overall winner. He was outstanding early on in the competition. The judges loved him because he was unbelievable technically and the audience/voters loved him because of the chemistry between him and Julianne Hough. I could not take my eyes off of him! How does a short little speed skater do that?! (Seriously, he is sister saw him once in Little Rock at a Heart Walk!) That man makes women swoon when he dances...and when he skates!

Anyhow, I felt like I should blog briefly about my love of "Dancing with the Stars" and Mr. Ohno, for what it is worth! :) Now that this one is over, I shall shift my loyalty to "So You Think You Can Dance?". The show's theme song is a little irritating, but the dancing is equally fantastic!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Say God...

I've been re-reading a book I had to read for one of my preaching classes in seminary called Subversive Spirituality by Eugene Peterson. I stumbled across these words and wanted to share them with you. I realize that I do this a lot on my blog (share quotes with you), and I am unashamed about that. I believe wholeheartedly that we are in this together and if someone else can say it better than I can, I will gladly use their words. Besides, collecting quotes from authors I love and admire - past and present - makes me feel like I am a part of a greater community. And we believe that, don't we? We affirm the "communion of saints" each time we say the Apostles Creed. I love that about being a Christian. It means I am a part of a community of people across the ages who struggled to love and serve God (and allow Him to love and serve them) the same way I do today. I can think of few things more beautiful than that thought...

That being said, here are Eugene Peterson's thoughts on what it means to love God's people. The chapter is specifically about pastoring weddings, funerals, and everything in between. I think it can be applied to a myriad of situations as we all seek to be a part of the "priesthood of believers."

"Why are we [here]? We are [here] to say God. We are [here] for one reason and one reason only: to pray. We are [here] to focus the brimming, overflowing, cascading energies of joy, sorrow, delight, or appreciation, if only for a moment but for as long as we are able, on God. We are [here] to say God personally, to say his name clearly, distinctly, unapologetically, in prayer. We are there to say it without hemming and hawing, without throat clearing and without shuffling, without propagandizing, proselytizing, or manipulating. We have no other task...WE are not needed to add to what is there; there is already more than anyone can take in. We are required only to say the Name: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."

In addition to the communion of saints I spoke of above, I am convinced of something else, too. I believe that we as Christians spend a lot of time trying to defend God and/or downplay His work in our lives. Both are tragic positions that we all take. What would this world look like if we spent more time just doing what Peterson charged us to do above? What if we just "say God" to people with our words, our prayers, and our actions? I dare say it would do much more than anything else we could do...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Reading List

I just returned from a fantastic trip to Milwaukee to visit some dear friends from seminary. These people are the kind of friends everyone wishes they had. With them, everything is easy. We fell into old patterns of conversation and silliness, laughter and seriousness with such ease it was as if we had never been apart. It was everything I needed and more…

One of the many highlights of the weekend was a spontaneous discussion we had over breakfast about the top ten books we want to read in our lifetime. It made for great conversation all-around. Never mind the fact that it fed our inner nerds and the list-making-OCD that inhabits the Julies. You’ll find my list (in no particular order) below…

1. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

2. The Brothers Karmazov by Fyodor Doystoyevsky

3. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

4. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

5. East of Eden by John Steinbeck

6. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

7. Roots by Alex Haley

8. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

9. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

10. A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean

These are only the top ten books that I haven’t read that I would like to read in my life. I had a hard time deciding on just ten. There are several others I read in high school and college that I would like to read again, too. I have also started a list of authors I enjoy and would like to read anything they have written. Maybe I will share those lists with you later.

I would love to hear from the handful of people who visit my blog on what their choices might be for their own list. Feel free to tell me about books you think I forgot in my own “top ten,” too!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


This is a poem/prayer I wrote eons ago that still has meaning today...

My willpower gone
my strength far away
in You I entrust
each passing day

I can only pray
for a simple path
and silently watch
as You draw the map

Each winding trail
is a road to You
and with the touch of Your hand
You lead me through

So as I prepare
for a brand new day
I ask that Your love
might lead the way.

The cadence is a little off to be the best of poems, was years ago. I haven't attempted to write in years. Hence the posting of old poems/prayers instead. Something new soon, maybe? (This is not a promise...)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Another Buechner Quote

"Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you, too." - Frederick Buechner

Monday, April 30, 2007


So, I stumbled across this random book in my house called Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC by Frederick Buechner this weekend. I love Buechner, but I think I picked this particular book up in a coffee shop in Wilmore for a couple of dollars and haven't picked it up since. I was thumbing through it this weekend and stumbled across an entry for "Word." Here's just a sampling of what I found...

"Words are power, essentially the power of creation. By my words I both discover and create who I am. By my words I elicit a word from you. Through our converse we create each other.

When God said, 'Let there be light,' there was light where before there was only darkness. When I say I love you, there is love where before there was only ambiguous silence. In a sense, I do not love you first and then speak it, but only by speaking it give it reality."

This is just a sampling of what Buechner had to say about "word." He begins the section noting that in Hebrew the term dabar actually means "word" and "deed." So, to say something is to do something. That is certainly the case in the Word. In the Old and New Testaments, the power of a word is felt from Genesis to Revelation. Creation began in conversation. Covenants between God and man were created through conversation. The Word became flesh and lived among us...There were a thousand conversations between creation and the incarnation and there have been scores since.

I cannot help but think of the passage in John 15 as I type this blog. It is the one about the vine and the branches. But nestled in the imagery is a statement I have never been able to shake or fully comprehend.

"You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you." - John 15:3

And what has the Lord spoken to me (and you) but light and and favor...grace and and compassion...mercy and love? His words mean everything to me (us). I (We) struggle sometimes to believe them. I (we) often put words in his mouth. But everything he has spoken to me (us) is good...I (We) would do well to remember that.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Standing Together

The pictures above are of a board a few of the students from the Auburn Wesley Foundation painted and placed on the AU concourse. Thousands of Auburn students signed it and then a couple of AU students drove it all the way to Virginia Tech last night. It now stands on the Virginia Tech campus along with several other similar memorials from other schools across the nation. I share these pictures with you today because they inspired me and reminded me that the people of VA Tech are our family. May it serve as an inspiration to you and a reminder to stand with them in prayer over the next several weeks, months, and years.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Prince of Peace

In his opening prayer in class one day, my professor (Chuck Gutenson) prayed eight words that I think are timely and fitting today. As we mourn with our brothers and sisters at Virginia Tech, I feel compelled to pass these eight words along to you.

"Prince of Peace, may there yet be peace."


Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Radical Nature of Forgiveness

This whole scandal with Don Imus and his comments about the Rutgers University Women's Basketball Team has captured my attention these last few days. I am not generally drawn in by the daily news, as it has become more like "Access Hollywood" than actual news. This story, however, grabbed my attention from the very beginning.

As a preface/disclaimer let me say that I in no way agree with Don Imus' comments on his radio show. I think that what he said was horrible, offensive, and racist. I do not think that he should just be "let off the hook" for what he said. Neither does he...he has said as much in his statements and in interviews since the incident.

The media frenzy surrounding the incident has been interesting all around. It seems the more Imus apologizes, the more flack he receives. In one attempt, he agreed to appear on Rev. Al Sharpton's show. Imus chose this appearance with the expectation that he might possibly be given the chance to publicly apologize and put this behind him. What he received was a verbal lashing and public lynching.

As I watched a segment of the interview, I found myself much more disgusted with Rev. Al Sharpton than with Don Imus.

Let me say again that I do not agree with what Imus said. It was off-color to say the least. However, from the beginning the man has been sincere and earnest in his apologies. All along I have thought that this is could be a real defining moment for people who call themselves Christians.

Then Rev. Al Sharpton spoke...and invited Imus on his show.

On the show, as I stated before, Sharpton made no room for Imus to offer any real apology. Any attempt on Imus' part to do so was met with more rage on the part of Rev. Sharpton. At one point in the interview segment, Sharpton is giving it to Imus The interchange goes something like this...

Sharpton: "You couldn't have expected for us to just dismiss what you said and just forget about it...?"

Imus: "Absolutely not. What I said was horrible. I am a good person who said a very bad thing."

[Sharpton's response was more verbal bashing and more on how despicable Imus is.]

Imus: "I can't get anywhere with you people...but I can get somewhere with Jesus."

I was arrested by those words by Don Imus. Long before the interview even started, I thought that this could be a defining moment for Sharpton and for Christians in general. People are not particularly surprised when Christians speak out against things that are happening. No one is at all alarmed at how outspoken Rev. Al Sharpton has been about the incident with Imus. Of course the Christian community would pronounce judgment...

There was a moment in the interview -- the one where Imus said "I can get somewhere with Jesus..." that Rev. Al Sharpton had the opportunity to show Imus the radical nature of forgiveness. He missed that so many Christians do.

Again, I am not saying that what Imus did was excusable. I've already said enough that I disagree with it 100%. But today I find myself more disgusted with Rev. Al Sharpton (key word: reverend) and his response than Don Imus and his momentary lapse in judgment.

Here stands a man ordained to preach the Good News of the Gospel and this is his response. What if instead he had reached out to Imus (as an African American minister) in love and forgiveness? What if instead of extending the hand of judgment, Sharpton had extended the hand of grace? That would be something to talk about in our world. That would be something that people who do not know Jesus would stand up and take notice of and respond to in this day and age. That would make a difference.

Too many people know exactly what we are against as Christians. It is time to stand up and tell the world what we are for: Grace. Forgiveness. Love.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sunshine and Rain

I ran across this poem/prose today in my collection of quotes and thought I'd share it with you. It was written by one of the youth at Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville where I volunteered as a college student. I found the words encouraging today and thought you might, too. I believe she was in eighth grade when she wrote this for a friend. Wise words from such a young soul. Her friend passed it along to me and now I give it to you. May it bless you as it blessed me then...and now.

We live in a mixed up world
where it rains
as the sun shines.
Where happiness comes through pain
and where failures seem to cloud up our lives.
However, life is not about who knows your name
or if you come in first in the world's race of life.
It is the few strong souls
that don't conform to the definition of the world
that receive the standing applaud in the end.

Your image isn't created by what works you perform
but by what runs deep in the waters that create you.
It is what shines through your soul...
It is what makes
It is what makes you a creation beyond words of description...
It is what makes you worth
the pain and suffering
felt by the One and Only Perfect Man.
- Kim Jones

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Island Time

The team is back from Jamaica...with most of our baggage. We had a little trouble with customs in Miami, but nothing too major. We are still waiting on a couple of bags, but the important thing is that the whole team is back safe-and-sound. Believe me, that is a major miracle in itself. It was touch-and-go there for a little bit, but it all worked out.

The trip itself was really good. The team of thirty that went worked hard on three different projects around Trelawny, Jamaica and built eternal relationships with the people in the area. There were countless kids and some pretty amazing adults at every site. We worked hard on all three of the projects, but I think the major work was done on our hearts during our stay there.

I developed a love/hate relationship with the whole idea of "Island Time." In a lot of ways, it was really great to surrender to such a way of life. It was nice to not be bound by time as much. I didn't even have a clock nearby at night to know what time it might be. Island Time equals complete trust in the people around you. Lunch for our crew came at a different time everyday...but it came. The bus arrived at least thirty minutes early or late everyday...but it came. Everything was very flexible. I liked that in a lot of ways Sometimes, though, Island Time got the best of me (and the group). Sometimes it meant not knowing what was going on at all. I am not a fan of that feeling. Still, I surrendered to it...and everything always worked out in the end.

Overall, it was a really good trip. The work we did with God and with each other was great. The vacation days in Ocho Rios were fantastic. The trip back was...eventful.

If I could just find time to rest...makes me miss Island Time!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Jamaica Bound!

I am heading to Trelawny, Jamaica with 29 other fantastic people in just a matter of hours. We leave for our journey at 2:59 am tomorrow morning. Please pray for us as you think about it. Pray for safe travels. Pray for peace and patience. Pray for an extra measure of energy for everyone. Pray that we would work with and not just for God (thank you Halley!). Pray also that we would receive while we are there, too.

Thank you!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

That Eternal Tomorrow...

"Today we suffer. Today we don't understand. But someday, in that eternal Tomorrow, that same Savior who weeps with us will wipe every tear from our eyes. He'll unbind our graveclothes of earthly flesh, and we'll be set free. Someday all the scattered, broken pieces will fall into place, and we will suddenly understand the hand of God has been upon us all the time. All the tragedy -- the darkness -- will instantly be swallowed up by triumph." -- Joanna Weaver

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Something Old...

This is a "Scripture Poem" I wrote for my Vocation of Ministry class in seminary. I thought it was worth sharing. I didn't include all the Scripture references...I challenge YOU to find them! :)

My precious, precious are Mine and I love you
I have fearfully and wonderfully made you
And I will carry you and sustain you on this journey of faith

I have called you to this life of ministry
Of sharing My grace with My people
Tell them what I have done for you and how I alone am your source of strength
Speak boldly of My presence in your life
Of My saving grace, overflowing compassion, and great love for you
Tell them about My Son, Jesus for these people

Do not worry, My child, about what you have to offer...
Just trust Me, love Me, and seek Me and I will give you what you need
You cannot imagine the great plans that I have for you
Your future is bright with hope...this is what you were created for
The road ahead is not easy, but I go before you
Just call on Me and I will reveal Myself to you and lead you through
I am your compass and your guide on this incredible not fear

If you will look to Me for strength, you can accomplish anything...anything
Nothing is impossible for you if you put your trust in Me
Pray and I will answer
Endeavor to speak and I will be your voice
Climb the highest mountain and I will be your feet
Go to battle and I will be your shield
You never walk alone...

Thursday, March 08, 2007


For those of you who are most delighted when I write about my proneness to falling down and other klutzy acts, this one is for YOU!

So, I slammed my left thumb in my trunk. "How," you might ask, "does one slam their finger in a trunk?" My answer is simply, "I have no idea!!" I am not really sure what exactly happened. All I know is my thumb is currently five shades of purple through-and-through and it hurts a whole lot! Let me correct did hurt, now it is just plain numb. Good times.

I felt the need to blog about it because you people respond more when I do something stupid than when I reflect on life in general. I also wanted to clue you in on an important fact -- our opposable thumbs are CRUCIAL! I did not realize how very much I needed my thumb until I could not use it. Seriously...getting dressed is an ordeal. Fixing my hair, writing (I am VERY left-handed), typing, etc...all very difficult and frustrating. Who knew that activities of daily living could be so difficult without the use of a thumb? I did not...

It has been kind of funny, too. You just have to laugh at yourself as you get dressed in the morning and must scream in pain as you button your shirt. It is funny to hold pencils and pens like a kindergartener and write kind of awkwardly.

That is all I really have for today...just thought I'd make my readers laugh a little!

P.S. The title of this blog came from a "friend." I have these fantastic friends who enjoy my misfortune and give me fun new nicknames because of it. The actual story "Thumbelina" is a remarkable tale about a beautiful little girl. It was one of my favorites as a child. My friend, however, gave me the name because of something other than my "enchanting beauty..."

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Another Quote!

"Redemption comes when it is most needed and most unlikely, after all other sources of hope have been exhausted." -- J. Levenson

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Prayer Chapel Pictures

Post-It Prayers

Prayer Art

Prayer Chapel Window

Prayer Art

Thursday, February 22, 2007

On Lent...

I think it is safe to say I feel more ready for the season of Lent this year than I ever have. This is because we at Wesley have really prepared ourselves this year. It is a sight to behold to see college students so committed to starting off these 40+ days with the right mindset. It took me years to really grasp what Lent is all about...I am still learning! I am amazed at the depth of these students and the heart they put into it all.

We started off with a Fat Tuesday celebration with all sorts of amazing food prepared by a group of students. Amazing. The food and the fellowship were both incredible.

We moved from there into a very reflective prayer service. A handful of students took it upon themselves to completely transform our common room into a beautiful place of worship. It was stunning. Two freshmen (yes, I said freshmen!) shared their hearts on prayer. Their words continue to follow! There were more students there than any of us expected. We could've stopped there and been completely ready for Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent. But we didn't...

The worship service was planned as a kick-off for 24-hours of prayer in our prayer chapel. It was arranged with several different stations for prayer. Bibles, prayers, candles, prayer journals, pastels and art paper, post-it notes, and all sort of things to guide their prayer. The results of this were amazing. I'll try to post some pictures of it in the next few days.

We ended (or should I say began the season) with an Ash Wednesday Service organized and led by our liturgical dance group. They danced to Scriptures (beautiful and expressive) and songs and did the imposition of the ashes themselves.

This has been the most incredible (and exhausting!) 48-hours I've ever spent preparing for this important season.

"I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection
and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings,
becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow,
to attain to the resurrection of the dead." -- Philippians 3:10-11

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Irresistible Love

"Love talked about is easily turned aside. Love demonstrated is irresistible." -- Stanley Mooneyham

A lifetime ago a girl named Joy Shupe wrote those words in my high school yearbook. Underneath those words, she wrote things that I am still struggling to live into in my life. She said that Mooneyham's words described me and that I was her "personal Barnabas." I didn't even know who Barnabas was at that point in my life, so how could I be like him?! I read what she wrote to me so many times that I still (14+ years later) have almost every word of what she wrote committed to memory. Her words are both encouraging and challenging. They have followed me around ever since...

The beauty of what Joy Shupe did for me that day is that she spoke into my life something I did not see in myself. I still do not know what I might have done that would have inspired her to say something like that to me. What I do know is that ever since I read her words in my high school yearbook, I have tried to really live into them. I want those words to be true of me more and more each day...

I haven't spoken to Joy in years, but I think about her all the time. That quote and her words have shaped who I am and who I want to be. I want to be a person of "irresistible love." The kind of love that never stops giving. The kind of love that inspires and challenges others. The kind of love my friend Joy Shupe had for me...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

She's Back...

We in the United Methodist Church take communion at the beginning of every month. I love this about our church and look forward to it. I have a very high view of communion and treat it with deep reverence and prayer. I am not sure that most people truly grasp the beauty of this practice...but that is another blog. This one is much lighter and funnier. If you want more on communion, I'd encourage you to check out Eucharist: Christ's Feast with the Church by Laurence Hull Stookey.

I would just like to preface this little story by saying one thing. In the six months since I moved to Auburn, I have not fallen down even once. This is a feat for me. I have a tendency to trip, fall down, and do overall klutzy things...often. I did my fair share of falling in Kentucky...down the stairs (at least five times), in the quad (at least twice) and just generally walking around. It is a tragedy for me and a treat for my friends. With my long record of not falling here, I thought I left my klutzy nature in Kentucky.

Boy, was I wrong...

A few weeks ago, I was at church preparing to take communion. I became terribly aware that my foot was asleep. This is not good, since we rise to take communion in my church. I couldn't stomp my foot, so I just determined to really focus while walking to the altar. Focus I did. I walked slowly and deliberately to the front. I even eased around the piano to the empty spot where I would kneel. Mind you I could not feel my all. I made it to the rail, quite satisfied with myself for not losing my balance.

Then it happened.

I began to kneel and all of the sudden I just started falling to the left. It did not occur to me that my ankle might completely give out at this point. It did and I lost it. The story could end here and be funny enough. Oh, but it doesn' gets worse.

As I actively fall (keep in mind communion usually entails almost complete silence...), I let out a loud whimper. Actually it was more like a grunt. It is sort of hard to describe in words (sound effects are better). The best comparison I can muster is that sound Homer Simpson makes when he's been caught or done something stupid, "doh!" A somewhat loud, prolonged, "doh!"

With a look of horror on his face, the nice man next to me tried to "catch" me. I wouldn't exactly let him...I caught myself with the communion rail. I sort of brushed him off and bowed my head as if to pray. Mostly I sat there wondering how I could leave without anyone noticing. I realized that would be impossible, so I just prayed to die right then and there.

The pastor came past with the communion wafers and...he gave me two out of pity. At least that made me smile. I stayed there and attempted to pray, but mostly just gathered my dignity. I made it back to my seat and could think of nothing else for the rest of the service. Single most embarrassing moment ever.

The next two days I did the following: (1) I fell down at the gas station and got grease all over my pants and (2) spilled an entire diet coke all over my pants. I think it is safe to say the klutz in me is back...full force.

Friday, January 26, 2007


"Hope begins in the dark. You wait and watch and work. You don't give up." - Anne Lamott

I read these words months ago, but only now are they really ringing true to me. It has been a rough ride here in Auburn these six months. I love my students, love the man I work with, love the area, and love that I get to do what I do for a living. I have not loved the feelings of loneliness and unsettledness that I have had. I've talked about it in other blogs, so I won't revisit it all. Suffice to say that I've done my share of waiting, watching, and working...and not giving up (sometimes just barely!!). I feel closer to God than ever before and more hopeful than I have in a long time. And hope is a beautiful definitely begins in the dark, but there is all sorts of light on the other side.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Inspiring Quote...

"Love the creature as it leads to the Creator." - John Wesley

Monday, January 08, 2007


I really love the Christian calendar. This has not always been the case. In fact, I used to fight it.

In my years in youth ministry, I had a pastor who was very tied to liturgy and the liturgical calendar. I would ask him why we would do things and he would generally sort of blow me off. I found this irritating and, therefore, had no interest in liturgy whatsoever. I don't think either one of us responded right to the situation. I should have pressed him further and even done some personal research on the liturgical calendar and liturgy in general. He probably could have stopped and explained things to me at least every once in a while. I am convinced that if either of these things would have happened, my love for liturgy would have started growing a long time ago. It fits right in with my love affair with the communion of saints.

All that said, I think "Epiphany" is my favorite liturgical season. I love them all and I long to experience God more fully in each season. But "Epiphany" really stands out for me. Maybe it is because it is almost overlooked by the modern church. We've just come out of Advent and Christmas and we tend to just hold on and wait for Lent and Easter. Most Christians would say our two big days are Christmas and Easter. Few could list what happens in between.

Epiphany is a time of commemoration of the coming of the wise men. Their coming is symbolic of the fact that God came in Jesus Christ to save all people of all nations. Our celebration of Epiphany in the church is our way of looking ahead from this first "light" to the wise men to the mission of the church for the world in light of the birth of Jesus Christ.

We all have a part to play in what I call the "big" Epiphany. That is, the revelation of Jesus Christ to all people of all nations. As we live in this season, I think we should be asking ourselves what our part is in it all. We all have little epiphanies in our lives that are not unlike what happened to the wise men so long ago. They cause us to take notice and take action in our lives. That is what epiphany and epiphanies are all about, really. Where is God asking you to take notice and take action in your own life?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Forgiveness and Ford's Farewell

I am not a Republican. I am really not a full-fledged Democrat either, though I tend to identify more with the direction they take. I am not interested in a political debate about which party is best or whether or not Ford's pardon of Nixon was the right decision. I am posting about "Ford's Farewell" because I heard something in one of the many services that struck a chord with me. In his eulogy (in reference to the pardon) Dick Cheney stated, "There are far worse things for a man to be remembered for than his capacity to forgive."

I found these words both powerful and convicting as a Christian. I do not often identify with Cheney, but I cannot shake these words. No matter my political preference, I cannot escape the fact that what he said speaks to the core of who we are called to be as Christians. As followers of Christ, we are called to this kind of life. What Cheney said of Ford should be said of each of us if we are who we say we are.

I want to be remembered like that now. I want those that know me or even just come into contact with me to walk away knowing I am a Christian...and I want that to mean something. I want that to mean that I am a deeply loving and forgiving person because I know my own roots. I want others to see in me sinner saved by grace. A person who sees them with the same compassion and mercy with which she, too, is seen by God.