Tuesday, December 2, 2008

giving up the tantrum

Can we be bold enough to trust God without demanding a sign? A sign of his power? A sign of his love? A sign of his existance?
Can we be crazy enough not to demand that he distract us with the things we think we want? Can we catch onto a wild kind of faith that willingly dialogs with Him, sharing our hearts and minds, without prescribing how we think He ought to meet our needs? Could we just try to trust him? That someone so wild, fierce and brilliant, who could create everything might just be capable of knowing exactly what we need? Better than we do?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

C. S. Lewis Quote

Human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and can't really get rid of it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

are you freaking kidding me?

So here's something I just learned.

Americans spent 480 billion last year on cosmetics. Big number, huh? Now, there's a problem with about 80% of the world. People all over the planet do not have access to clean water. In villages all over the world, people are forced to get their water from contaminated sources. The water they are drinking is infested with disease, contaminates, even human waste. In a lot of these villages, obtaining clean water would be the simple matter of drilling a well and putting in a hand pump. I've heard this can be done for as little as $500 in some places.
So, do you know what the experts say it would cost to end the water problem globally? To drill wells, or implement water pruification systems? 10 Billion. Big number, huh? But wait. That's less than 2.5% of what we spent on lipstick, mascara and wrinkle cream last year.

Huh. maybe it's not that big a number after all.

Now here's why I'm asking, "are you kidding me?". This whole thing shocks and excites me at the same time. And I have to say, it's been the topic of conversation for me lately. In fact, I brought it up at lunch on Sunday. I'd met my mother and several other family members for meal, and happened to share what I've learned. And it made someone mad at me. I was actually told by one of my family members that I shouldn't go around telling people this. "No one will want to have lunch with you if this is what you have to talk about. You know, people just have to do what they have to do." My mother just gently patted me on the knee and told me to drop it. Bless her, I'm sure it was wise, but it was hard for me to swallow.

It just struck me dumb. I guess my perspective may be a little different than some people, because I don't see how what I was saying is offensive. But you know, it is, really. Because, cosmetics are a luxury and no one wants to feel guilty about their luxuries being related to the deaths of people on the other end of the globe.

But here's why I don't think it needs to be taken offensively: if we have 480 billion to spend on luxuries, even as we see our economy continue to disintergrate..... maybe we each could spare 5 bucks to help water get to those who need it. I think I could skip the next eye shadow, and just use up an old one; and just put that 5 bucks toward a well in Africa, or Indonesia, or India or somewhere.

I mean, that isn't even a sacrifice. I wouldn't even notice. Would you?

So, sorry if this offends you. I hope you'd still be willing to have lunch with me. Or maybe we could skip lunch, make a pb&j sandwich, my treat, and send our money to blood:water mission or the Eitemillers or someone else and make that 5 bucks matter.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I've fallen

I freely admit that there's a vanity (if you'd call it that) that I entertain and even take a little pleasure in. It's those unexpected times when your eyes meet those of someone else and the glimmer in those eyes tells you that you are beautiful. It is not an everyday look that boosts confidence or drive. It doesn't accompany volleys of flirtation. It is more likely to happen on what you might consider a bad hair day. You may be in grubby clothes, perhaps executing some quite unglamorous (however necessary) chore.

He takes your attention, and there in his eyes is that sparkle that warms your stomach and weakens your knees just a little. For that moment you have the perfect self-esteem. In the back of your mind you're fully aware that there are many others who are more beautiful, more intelligent, more graceful, more exotic, and more elegant than you. You're also aware that any other man in the room could look at you, and there would not be the same glimmer in his eye. Mostly, you're aware that the glimmer that this man has for you allows you the grace to ignore those other things.

Later, you go home, you get ready for bed, and as you are finishing your nightly routine in the bathroom, you notice your own face in a different way and you--for a split second--see yourself the way he did. This, perhaps, causes you to gaze at your reflection a little longer than necessary, and though you might chastise yourself just a little for being vain, you'd gladly plead guilty to that sin than to give up the moment.

As you turn out the bathroom light and head off to bed, the thought occurs to you that maybe you misread the look in his eye. Perhaps it was a look of amusement, as he suppressed a laugh upon noticing the spinach stuck in your teeth. A knot of disappointment tightens in your stomach.

"Ah! But I did not eat spinach today!" you retort triumphantly; and the moment, the warmth--the lingering weak knees--are not taken from you.

And that, simply put, is how He makes me feel. I am in love with him, and relish the knowledge that despite every reason he shouldn't be in love with me, he is. He is sitting in his palace, next to his father, excitedly waiting for the moment when he can come take me away.

He loves me. He loves me. He loves me.

That's the whole thing right there.

He loves you too.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

shadow boxing

Pursuit of God.

We get told that we should be in pursuit of God, don't we?

We often approach the pursuit of God like we're trying to step on our own shadow: repeatedly stepping forward, trying to plant your foot squarely in its middle, only to find that it has moved just past you once again.

We run after God to attempt to somehow quench this feeling that He is unreachable, only to find the feeling really hasn't changed after all our efforts. We end up feeling exhausted and alone.

We miss the clear truth that we were already standing on our shadow, before we ever took that first step.

The pursuit of God is not about chasing after him, not the way we've been thinking. It's not really our pursuit. He's chasing after us! Glued to us, closer than our own shadow.
All we need to do is be still, and know He is God.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why I have a crush on him, and why I won't do anything about it.

It's 10:30 pm, and my brain is fired up. A small inkling, a thread of intuition, or maybe a tiny drop of paranoia has crept into my thought processes tonight, and I am all gun-ho to let it unravel here.

I am dang frustrated.

And I think, before I can really tell you what is so frustrating to me, I have to lay a few other things out first, so you can see where I am coming from. So now is the time to bring up that author I mentioned a couple of posts ago. There is a thirty-something man living in the northwest who has written a some successful books in the last couple of years, and I have to admit, I have developed a bit of a teenage crush on him. Let me interject before I go any further, that as far as I know, this man is neither married, nor in a serious relationship. I would absolutely not use him as an example in this article if I knew otherwise. And, while I'm interrupting myself, I'll add that I have decided to refrain from naming him outright. I think it would distract from my point (we can discuss why, if you would like, at another time). Let's just call him Frank.

My friend Christy came to live as my housemate for about a year, and during that time we picked up one of Frank's books and began to read it aloud to one another. I really must recommend it; it's just too bad you have no idea what book I am talking about. It was a recipe for disaster, in a way, because Frank's narrative was so endearing, I was immediately hooked on both his writing style, and my perception of his character. My enamorment only grew with each passing chapter. To lay out all the reasons would be excessive, so here's a highlight (in no particular order):

First of all, his theology pretty much rocks my world. Now brothers, please don't take this harshly. But I have to say, it has been a while since I have met a man my age (or near it) who showed evidence of that kind of strong, genuine relationship with Christ, that informs his daily life. I am not really considering my married brothers in this, and I do not mean any criticism of any of the men who are my friends. I know several excellent guys who have a genuine heart for God. But here's the deal: Christian ladies watch and listen (often unintentionally) to see how much of an influence Christ is having on your life. We naturally want men in our lives who are submitting to Jesus, even men who are just our friends. Should we actually stop and consider whether or not we'd be interested in more, this is without a doubt a factor we consider. Now, this doesn't mean you'd all better sign up for seminary just so we'll think your good enough. That is a whole other topic, and the post is coming in the near future. Let's just leave it at this: one of the reasons I've remained single thus far, is that I am not going to settle on a man who's lukewarm for Christ. So, a man who not only loves God, but can be so articulate about his faith that he can manage to write a whole book about it, is easily capable of scoring points with me.

Secondly, Frank is charmingly self-effacing when it comes to women. This is most likely a clever character development to make him more endearing to his female readers, but it works. Girls fall for it every time. It's one of the oldest tricks in the bag, and any guy who goes through girlfriends faster than gym socks uses it. Add to this the fact that Frank is also very good looking. I think that both of these characteristics must come from the same chromosome. These suspicions, however, haven't made him less attractive to me. I am after all, a girl.

I think I could list ten more reasons, but lets move on, shall we? So here I am. Easily 500 miles from this guy that I would just love to meet. Self deprecatingly admitting to my friends that I have a crush on that author Frank Soandso. Yeah, they've all read his book. But am I serious?? Not really. I really don't entertain any hope of ever actually meeting this man. And even in the oddest of circumstances, should I meet him, I wouldn't ever think that anything would come of it. So what's the point of all of this, you ask?

MY point is, I have known numerous sisters who are just too dang crush prone. So what if Frank went to my church? What if I really did have a chance to get to know him? What if I had come to all these conclusions about him, not because of the books he's written, or the talks I've heard him give on my favorite podcast, but simply because we moved in the same circle? What if I had a REAL crush on him? I have to admit, that I have been blissfully crush-less for several years now, and I believe that it is a sign that God is getting somewhere with me. Oh LORD in Heaven, please let that be the truth!

I believe pretty strongly that when it comes to romantic relationships, the pursuit belongs to the man. I believe God designed it this way. Men and women are each wired according to his design and when we start reversing our roles, disaster inevitably follows. Men value what they have to chase down and fight for. Women value being fought for. BUT GIRLS, you start messing with the equation when you let yourself crush on a guy! A gal with a crush will always pursue, even if she's trying not to. And gals we have really got to KNOCK IT OFF. Let me try to really drive my point home: I think it is fair to say, that when we pursue a man, it is emasculating to him. And no man will be able to respect a woman who does that to him. You just won't succeed, and there is always damage done to you in the process.

I have to tell you ladies, that if you are in your twenties or later, and you still catch yourself entertaining the idea of a certain guy, one who isn't openly pursuing you, cut it out. Now, we do sometimes have the knee jerk reaction to an attractive man, one that we can't really control, where we take a moment on some sub-conscious level and decide if we'd be open to the idea of him chasing after us. I don't think that's a problem. I do think it is, when we realize that we've come to the conclusion that we'd be open to the pursuit, and then start focusing on a hope that he will. BooM. Instant crush. That's really all it takes, doesn't it? So like I said: Knock it off. I am saying this as a sister who's been there. I feel ya, I really do. Our strongest opinions come from the places we've been, not the places we've read about. As for me, I simply do not consider a man until he clearly initiates. Period.

But boys, you aren't off the hook here either. Man up and pursue the gal you're after. It isn't as hard as it looks.
In fact, it's really easy. And if you've noticed a sister batting her eyelashes at you, either honorably pursue her or gently let her down. Don't just hope it will go away. That does not work! Things just get more and more awkward.

And everyone, be cool with one another for goodness sake. I actually experienced a situation a couple of years ago where a good friendship was developing with a brother that got mis-read as a crush. Talk about awkward... But I am glad he asked, 'cause our friendship could have been ruined. Our talk turned out well, because he asked gently, and no one was defensive. Remember to love each other with brotherly and sisterly love, it really does help.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Valkyrie, the adopted daughter

As promised. And yes, if you must know, I did cheat and copy/edit an old myspace post.


Valkyrie~ generally speaking, she is a hand-maiden of God.
But really, it's taken from Norse mytholgy, for the young women who served Odin. The valkyries' purpose was to choose the most heroic of those who had died in battle and to carry them off to Valhalla. She is a sheild-maiden, a servant, and a warrior in her own right. Yet her purpose is fulfilled when she is in service to god. I am, clearly, stealing from a pagan religion and applying it to my relationship with the One True God.

Some tidbits from the web:

In modern art, the valkyries are sometimes depicted as beautiful shieldmaidens on winged horses, armed with helmets and spears.

the armour of the valkyries "sheds a strange flickering light, which flashes up over the northern skies, making what men call the 'Aurora Borealis', or 'Northern Lights'.

In the Heroic lays, however, the valkyries are described as bands of warrior-women only the leader of whom is ever named. She is invariably a human woman, the beautiful daughter of a great king, though she shares some of the supernatural abilities of her anonymous companions.

Richard Wagner incorporated Norse tales that included the valkyrie Brünnhilde (Brynhildr) and her punishment and subsequent love for the warrior Siegfried (Sigurðr) into his operas Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. These depictions and others have subsequently led to modern representations of valkyries less as figures of death and warfare and more commonly as romanticised, pristine white and gold clad figures riding winged horses.

The name in Old Norse, valkyrja, means literally, "chooser of the slain."

he descriptions of Odinn's hall describe the Valkyries as foster-daughters, just as the einherjar (the chosen warriors of Odinn) are foster sons Freyja is said to be the first of the Valkyries, called Valfreyja, "Mistress of the Slain," she pours ale at the feasts of the Aesir . The Valkyries also have duties in the great hall. There, having exchanged their armor for pure white robes, they will serve the warriors they have chosen.

he Valkyries are also Odinn's messengers and when they ride forth on their errands, their armor causes the strange flickering light that is called the "Aurora Borealis" (Northern Lights).

clear as mud?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

the non-post post

It's been ages since I've checked in with you and I have to admit the backlog is beginning to get to me. I've got several articles competing for my attention, and I hardly know where to begin. So, I've been stalling.

And here it is: I'm stalling again.
In a way.

I just really wanted to get something posted right away, and so I am using this post as a small dose of accountability. And to gain a false sense of accomplishment, I suppose.

So here's the deal. I've had a lot on my mind lately, and have had some interesting conversations, all of which I'm bursting to share with you. So, by way of committing myself to it, I've decided to give you an idea of what's on the menu. Feel free to give me a hard time if I name something here, but don't seem to be getting around to the actual post.

First, I've been yacking non-stop about a certain author lately, and really want to share my thoughts on the matter with you. I'm still deciding the merit of naming him outright in the article, so be prepared: he may remain anonymous for the sake of my point. As it stands right now, it seems that if I name this man the point of the article (being mainly about how I, as a daughter of the Most High God, should handle the situation) would simply degenerate into a ridiculous internet confessional, and my blog will be hurtled entirely out of the realm of all usefulness, into the oblivion of meaningless-internet-white noise. But, let me move on before I start to sound ridiculous. I will however mention, that this particular article is a culprit in my current delay. I'm particularly interested in writing this one first, and suspect that it will be long. I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up splitting it into two or more entries. There, now you're warned. But I think it will be worth your patience.

I have also been thinking that a couple of personal posts are in order. First, the significance of the word valkyrie, and why I have chosen to refer to myself this way. I don't believe the meaning is altogether evident, and so I feel compelled to offer an explanation or a definition. Be warned however, that I will probably cheat, and just copy the article from my myspace page. I've already written an explanation there, as it is my screen name on the infamous social networking site.

The other personal post will be something of an explanation of the nature of this blog--an apology if you will--as to why you won't see family photos here, or recipe exchanges, etc. I prefer to leave those thing to the afore-mentioned myspace page, where I actually mirror many of these posts. And will possibly include the only photo you'll probably see of myself on this blog. Remember it as an historic moment. Truly. (It's already on my myspace page, and yes, I admit, I have a diminished sense of variety).

Add to this a few conversations I've had lately with some dear sisters, involving wheelchairs, purpose and passion, and spiritual leadership, and you might be able to sympathize with me and my procrastination. I don't know about you, but I do find it difficult to focus on one topic when I have half-a-dozen ricocheting off of each other inside my little head.

So there's my confession, and my request for accountability. My friends and co-workers will appreciate your help in this, since the longer I drag my feet on writing, the more I gab their ears off with these ideas. It will be nice to eventually put them to bed.

In the meantime, I'm putting myself to bed. It's late.

Good night!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

C.S. Lewis Quote

The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back, in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When He said, ‘Be perfect,’ He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder - in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (1952)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Book Quote of the Day

“It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one- the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” - C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lesson from Psalm 1

There was a college student named Ben, who was given the assignment in one of his classes to make a presentation in class about a local hero. This hero was a firefighter who happened to live only a few blocks away from Ben, who had recently become a local celebrity due to his heroic efforts in a recent fire (he saved the parents, the kids, the pets, even the family picture album before the whole house went down in flames). Ben was quite a good student, and was actually pretty excited about the assignment. He went right to work on his presentation immediately after class: first to the library to find every article written about the hero or the fire, next to the local news stations to find every report made on the incident, and of course, to the library to find every resource to explain the causes and dangers of fire, what it takes to become a fire fighter, what the economic impact of a fire is on a community. Ben searched high and low for any useful tidbit he could find for his speech, and when the day came, he actually felt pretty confident that he would give a good presentation.

Ben approached the podium with mixed feelings, but his confidence won out, and in the end, he felt very satisfied with his presentation. He spoke well, was able answer questions confidently, and really felt like he'd offered his peers new information that had kept their attention. Just as he moved to step down from the podium to return to his seat, his professor stopped him with one last question: "What color are the fire fighter's eyes?"

Well, Ben was stumped. No photo from the newspapers and no interview from the TV stations had gone in close enough to show the color of the hero's eyes. "I don't know" he replied.

"You mean to tell me that you interviewed the firefighter but never noticed the color of his eyes?"

Ben confessed that he hadn't gotten around to interviewing the firefighter; in fact, the idea hadn't occurred to him at all. He had spent all of his time getting to know all about what other people had to say about the situation, but never actually went to the source himself.

I think sometimes we get a little sidetracked like Ben when it comes to God's word. We go hear sermons, we read articles, we read commentaries, and engage in all sorts of Bible-teaching stuff; sometimes before we ever to to God's word. Psalm 1 tells us about the man who delights in God's word, and the man who doesn't. It promises that the person who meditates on God's law day and night (don't forget that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law) is like a fruitful tree planted next to streams of water, whose leaves do not wither. It certainly doesn't say the person who delights in God's law AND the reference section of the Christian Bookstore is blessed in this way.

Don't get me wrong. I have concordances, dictionaries, commentaries, and favorite speakers and I like them all. But I certainly don't ever want to get to the point were these things/people replace the Bible. I think every now and then a spiritual check up is a good thing, and having an accountability partner certainly helps here.

Bottom line: how can we claim to know anything worth telling about our HERO, if we aren't meeting with him whenever we can? Otherwise, all we actually have to offer is "here's what so-and-so says about Jesus"