Hello. Welcome.

I'm a very determined kind of individual. Sometimes my determination is misplaced and things get very ugly. But, sometimes my determination leads to laughter, deep thoughts, and words on paper.

I write everything. I'm not very good at filtering ... so you will see it all. Maybe there will be a little inspiration for someone else along the way. I hope so. My sister also likes to guest blog and I'm sure you will appreciate her wit and wisdom.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

pray for baby nichols

Hello friends!

I just finished a fairly big project and I'm not as happy as I should be, but there is something to jump for joy about today.... and that is BABY NICHOLS on the way!

Please pray for my parents tonight (www.myafricansons.blogspot.com) as they travel across several states to reach my brother and sister-in-law, who are super ready to bring their daughter into the world tomorrow morning.

This baby is already loved so deeply and so well. I'm praying for strength and for energy and for joy when the family of two becomes three. :)
Here's a few thoughts about it:
i'm not sure what you are thinking, little one,
but i wonder these things as i cover you with love

are you excited to enter this new world?
will you see its beauty?

what will you reach for
and toward what will you run?

will you twirl in circles and sun rays?
and will you love to dance?

how will you smile and will you love laughter?
and how will you like your chocolate?

oh, little one, i wonder these things
while i pray over you and sing

oh, little one, don't you know, you are loved!
you are so dearly loved!

Friends, please pray! Pray for safety and for God's blessing over the delivery tomorrow!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wednesday Web Suggestions

1) Have you heard of Mark Driscoll?
He rocks. He's to the Left of the Right, to the Right of the Left. And he rocks. Heard him speak at Catalyst West last week, and he was every bit as good in person as the sermons I hear online.

2) Stuff Christians Like. This is hands down my favorite blog of the year. I own his book, have met him in person, and Jon Acuff is the real deal. Or if you have a bit, or want some cubicle listening, check out this- a video of him speaking. He's HILarious.

3) Just for fun, check this out. Somehow, beards have become a big part of the lives of some guy friends in my lives. Saw this site that one of the aforementioned bearded men posted. Hilarious! I think most youth pastors stay in the neutral area of beard trustworthiness, thankfully.

4) Every Day in May. I'm doing it. At Catalyst, I was struck by the fact that I'm a painter... who doesn't paint. And why not? Well, to get myself back in the habit of doing what I love, I'm committing to painting every day in May. Doesn't have to be good, doesn't have to be big, but it has to be a painting. Follow me on twitter to hear about how its going! :)

5) Favorite new blog here. Happens to be my good friend and boss at Valley, and a legit guy who writes from the heart about life, youth ministry, and funny stuff. Check it out!

Hope to write more about Catalyst soon, and will definitely be keeping you in touch as far as how Every Day in May is going.
Night, friends.


something sweet

Okay, if you haven't heard about my obsession with my family's famed "sweet dinner" then here's an introduction(previously: here and here and here). I wasn't super inspired to write a blogpost tonight, but then I received an email from Focus on the Family encouraging me to write an essay about my dinner table traditions as a tribute to my mom and I thought, why not?
So, below you will find the less than 250 word essay (with cheesiness to the MAX) about how my mom served up our dinners with heaping helpings of love. ;) The above picture is our most recent family Valentine's day (circa 2006?), but we are missing Samuel, Bethany, and half of mom's face.

Also, Mom: if I by chance win, they'll be calling you because they didn't have a space for international entries. :)
Growing up on a small farm in rural Iowa, we were well accustomed to skimping. It just meant that the State Fair would be our family vacation, an understood one-gift Christmas expectation, and wearing hand-me-downs proudly.

My mother somehow managed to raise five children, complete the never-finished duties of farmwife, and (often in the midst of total chaos) do everything but skimp on such tantalizing spreads for dinner that all previous disagreements would subside after the prayer.

One meal in particular remains a favorite (apart from the charming and compulsory 'etiquette dinners'), so much so that I've duplicated it in several places I've lived since, giving my best effort to not skimp on the love my mom spread out so lavishly.

Valentine's Day, or Sweet Dinner as I affectionately call it, was not a day for special dates or sweethearts. Valentine's Day at the Nichols house was about love. The wonderful, true, dependable kind of love. Mom labored all day secretly in the kitchen (which itself is a feat with our curious fingers) and produced a table resplendent with pinks, reds, and candles aglow. We all received a personal poem, heart-shaped cake with pink frosting, and red-dyed tapioca pudding. Much fuss was made about the fine china (a wedding gift), which helped display the roast beef, carrots, and sweet corn (frozen from harvest). Without fail, discussion would turn to our love for one another.

When Jesus narrowed things down, He didn't skimp on love and my mother followed suit.

PS: Mom, you should enter the contest too! How awesome would it be if we could have a Focus on the Family sponsored girls night! :)

.let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

because we need to laugh, too

I came upon this today, thanks to Robbie Seay Band and his twittering. I think it's worth a laugh.

Remember Cher? Well, turns out it's not so hard to auto-tune voices... they don't have to be singing and they'll still sound good!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

the love of a Papa

I was at Bible study the other day and we were talking about gossip. However, as many of us know, sin is all the same it just wears different names, so the topics were vibrant and varied. As is typical, I launched into an object lesson with the following analogy. And (maybe because it fell kind of flat), I'm going to write it here to convince myself it's worthy of preserving. I have illustrated a bit more thoroughly, now that I've had time to stew over it.

A little boy has a tradition of grabbing his papa's calloused hands and inviting him into his room everyday, where the boy gives a grand tour and presents the day's creations. He shows Papa every nook and cranny - so proud of the display and the way he cleaned and prepared it for Papa's inspection. Even though Papa has seen and knows exactly what lies behind books and under the bed, he takes genuine interest not in the presentation, but in the presenter. His eyes are fixed on his boy as the little one goes about the room pointing things out like they are brand new.

Together, they rearrange furniture and dream and hope for the colors and shapes that will enter the room in the future. He tugs Papa's hand over to granny's rocking chair in front of the shelves of storybooks and there they sit rocking and cherishing one another. The little boy adores his Papa and absolutely lives for the time of day when he gets to bring Papa into his own little space in the house.

On a frightful, stormy Tuesday
the little boy loses track of time. He pulls out toy after toy after book after experiment after cluttered toy and surprises himself at the havoc he can wreak on his room. The day turns to night and the boy neither wants to clean nor wants to invite his Papa in to see this mess. He closes, carefully without even a squeak to announce it, the door to his special space and walks on tippy-toes over the scattered mess.

The boy sits uncomfortably on granny's rocking chair, unsure what will happen if night passes and Papa doesn't come. But, all the while he sits and there is no knock and no sound on the stair.

He does not budge from granny's chair, but moves ever so gently just to stay in motion. With night on the heels of day and morning following night's footsteps, the little boy feels relief like a cup of warm hot chocolate. He can hear his breath now as he decides it was good to close the door.

The following day
the little boy slips from the room without sound and meets his Papa downstairs and watches him drink coffee and read the paper. He expects something, anything, to recognize the absent invitation. But, his eggs and toast smell like breakfast and the orange juice means the day will roll on, like any other. He wears relief like a blanket and even mumbles the everyday greeting, "Mornin', Papa" in the direction of Papa's breakfast chair.

The days and the weeks pass
with the same routine. The little boy slips out in the morning, after a night on granny's rocker, gently swaying to the sound of his breath. The little boy's eyes are dark with fatigue, staring at the bright sunshine in his orange juice. Relief has become a best and only friend. He takes it when he leaves the house for security and drags it back up the stairs when he returns to close the door and look at the mess inside his special space.

He still sees Papa around the house, but speaking to him doesn't seem right. He clings to his blanket and wonders why he doesn't feel comforted. It hurts to see Papa sitting so close and to remember the times of cherishing one another. The blanket he carries feels more like shame than relief.

One day
arrives much like the frightful, stormy Tuesday so long ago. The little boy sees the rain and the crackle in the sky and remembers how dark his days have been. He looks about the room, surveying the strangled scene. Without warning, the boy (not so little) stuffs the blanket underneath the bed very, very far to the corner by the wall.

He opens the door just a little at first, and then the whole way. He walks tippy-toes (because his feet now know this walk very well) to the stairs and down. He finds Papa in the expected place, at the window with his spectacles dangling on his right hand and admiring the horizon. When Papa turns, the boy can not look at him. He only takes Papa's calloused hand and with his head down leads him up the stairs and, without hesitation, into his room.

No words escape the boy's mouth, just the loud breathing from all the months of time alone. He invites Papa in, head bent low, and then begins to sob. He cries and cries and says something about sorry with his hands covering his face, but the word gets all jumbled before it forms on his lips.

Papa takes him by the hand and examines every piece of brokenness strewn haphazardly about the room. Papa does not make any mention about particular toys or experiments or books or clothing, only helps the boy pick up each piece. The boy feels the blanket is over him again, though he thought he hid it. With each piece and every new mess, the boy feels a new pain.

The boy's exhaustion takes over and his tears are all worn out as they pick up the last pieces. He didn't mean to, but he is still clutching his Papa's hand tight. This time, Papa leads him over to granny's rocker. The boy cuddles in, covered by a new blanket and he sleeps. The dark eyes sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep.

When the boy wakes,
though he knows not for how long he slept, he lifts his eyes ever-so-slightly to recognize the scruff of Papa's whiskers close to his forehead. The boy cannot summon the words, but Papa asks if they can talk and share like old times and the boy says, "Oh, yes! Papa, yes!" with all the joy of rest.

The boy slowly gathers speed and lets the words fumble out from his rusty lips. He feels different this time, talking to his Papa. He remembers the terrible work before his rest. He remembers Papa's silent patience. He remembers that Papa has seen everything. The boy remembers the blanket he stashed under the bed, by the wall, and makes motion to find it. But Papa's arms are reassuring and the boy knows the blanket is gone too.

Papa loves the boy.

.let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

Friday, April 23, 2010

car repair on a shoestring

....no, I don't think you understand.
I mean literally on a shoestring.

Yesterday, early in the morning before I left for school, I tied up my dangling car part with shoestring. Yep, I sure did.

I rummaged and rustled until I found shoestring and a piece of crafting wire and out to the haula I went to examine underneath the engine where this strange piece of protective plastic lay irresolutely on the ground. I pushed and shoved and jostled into place the shoestring (which was actually several tied together I had previously used to hang pictures in my room in Austin.

Who knew that a couple years later it would be holding a piece of my car together?

Here's the best part: It's still in tact!! Check out another from my long list of car stories: Bittersweet Taste of Humble Pie

Thursday, April 22, 2010

trees and used books

Whoa. Christina's post yesterday (all the way from LA, I might add) sure rustled some feathers! How true, though, that the only way to expose darkness is with Truth. Regardless of the sin you are dealing with - unhealthy views of the body can take all sorts of forms - Truth exposes darkness and leads to Christ, the only Healer.

Well, here's what I'm reflecting on, many countries and cultures away...
The blooms of white flowers on my favorite tree outside our house gate. The smell is something like lilac mingled with gardenias, but not in a strange perfume-mixing way. No, it's in the just-the-right-amount kind of way that grabs my senses every time I walk by and makes me stop to admire.

I think Psalm 23 is something like that. God's beauty and peace is so strong a scent that we are made to lie down in green pastures and led beside still waters. There is something in the beauty of it that demands attention and response. So, I respond every morning and every night as I walk past. So sweet the smell!

This week is trudging right along, but I am finding so much encouragement from Joni Eareckson Tada, whose words just happened to be shelved tightly between a weathered Mary Higgins Clarke and a worn paperback Tom Clancy in the used book stacks at Metromedia. I have been so refreshed by her sincere heart and wisdom. The yellow pages smell like Laura Ingalls Wilder and deep trunks full of treasured things. The wisdom - oooh the wisdom - is a treasure in itself!

Here is a little tidbit:
Suffering sets the stage on which good qualities can perform. If we never had to face fear, we would know nothing about courage. If we never had to weep, we would never know what it was like to have a friend wipe tears from our eyes.
and here's another:
When God tells us to suffer, sometimes our tendency is to use our very trials as an excuse for sinning. We feel that since we've given God a little extra recently by taking such abuse, He owes us "a day off" when we can do as we please. This is a continual inner battle for me...And it is so easy to justify. Son't I already have to give up more than a lot of Christians just be being crippled? I say to myself. Doesn't my wheelchair entitle me to a little slacking off now and then?
When we feel like this, if we sit down and examine our lame protests in the light of the Bible, they will vanish one by one.

And all this from a woman who became paralyzed from the neck down after diving in for a swim as a teenager. What a testimony her life has been since! Check out more here.

Hope this day is blessed for you and always remember, even in suffering....

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

oh, and PS, you should check out my brothers from Tanzania and Nigeria and the story of their first/last prom in the US.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fit, Fat, and Following God

First of all, this post is going to probably rile you up a bit.

OK, you've been forewarned.

Check out this article.

It's a controversial article on Fat and Christians written by a Christian doctor. Here's an excerpt, from a list of 6 things Christians should do about their fat...

1. Reject Your Fat

The first step to overcoming obesity is to not tolerate it. Do not excuse it. Do not comfort yourself about it. Do not rationalize it with your reasons, whether emotional, spiritual, medical, or genetic. Say to yourself, I am fat and I need to get rid of it!
2. Recognize Your Eating Patterns

People don’t get fat for just any reason. They respond to all of their cravings, and eating discipline doesn’t exist. Over-eat and you will become fat. This may not happen in a week, but it will happen. The law of physics applies; if you continue growing fat cells, they will extend everywhere and invade every inch of your body. Obesity leads to early death, but fitness extends life.
3. Stop Hiding Behind Religion

The very evidence of fat in a person’s life demonstrates that there are some spiritual areas that need attention regarding compulsions and lazy behaviors. Hiding behind your Christian faith (or fat) by saying what matters most is that you are growing in your spirit is an insult to God when you fail to address an area of life that matters to God. God is faithful and will point out the sin that causes the fat to exist in the first place.

Wow. I have rarely read anything like this in Christian circles. Usually we read stuff more like "accept yourself" "love yourself!" and "Jesus loves you for who you are" as answers to not liking how one looks or feeling self-concious about a little too much "junk in the trunk."

My question is, dear readers, where do you think 'self-esteem and loving what God gave you' and 'rejecting fat and circumstances that got it there', fit together?

Anxious to read your thoughts!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

downpour, quinceañera, and sister

Since I believe apologies are not acceptable, I'm moving very quickly past the place where I might make one for not writing in so long. With a few well-placed headlines, I'll let you in on some of the goings-on here in Tegus while I eat some deeee-licious Honduran-style beef stew.

torrential downpour
Last Friday night was the overnighter event for the elementary kids. Though I'm not involved in the outreach with the little ones, they asked me to help with the game CLUE that our HS students had come up with a few months back for our own outreach event. ... And play human CLUE we surely did! We ran to different "rooms" and played games in order to receive clues and try to solve the mystery.

After all that madness ended (God give me grace when I have crazy, screaming little ones!), I loaded up good 'ole Louis and down the mountain we went. (I still don't have a muffler, but I'm working on it and I've told myself that's good enough right now.)

The rain started just before we threw backpacks into the trunk and ourselves into the seats. We didn't get very far before I realized that this ride down the mountain would be less about what music we were rocking out to and more about getting down safely. I was wiping the windshield with one hand and steering with the other. It was foggy in addition to the less-than-stellar defrost sputtering out of my dashboard. The girls were respectful and less crazy, but the rain kept coming. We prayed.

I successfully dropped off one student and then we came upon a lake in the road. Yep, it was a lake almost as big as the pond behind my house where we went swimming. And it was still raining. I kind of just followed the lights in front of me, but definitely felt we floated for a second or two.

On the way back, we encountered the same lake and I had to turn around after watching a car sink too low for my comfort. So, I made all the drop-offs and arrived at my house with a curious scraping sound accompanying me. Yep, that's right... last week Louis lost a muffler and this week he's dragging something on the front end. These roads are shaking him to pieces - literally! But, praise God for safety and PRAISE GOD for rain!

Today, I was on my hands and knees inspecting the damage like a real trooper. I like to think my brother William would be proud, but he would probably ask if I fixed the problem and then I would have to say no. I'm not really sure what the purpose of that silly, sturdy piece of plastic... and I couldn't figure out how to jimmy-rig it up with rope, so I just shoved in a few places and hope that it will stay in place long enough for me to get to someone more handy!

When you turn 15 here, it's like a sweet 16 party but much, MUCH bigger! I'm talking color-coordinated decorations, a 'program' of events for the night, three special music performances, high schoolers in suits, fake champagne, super fancy dresses, a sermon, a serenade, a video, and lots of fun. And that's where you would have found me on Saturday night - in heels my dad found at a thrift store and a dress my mom sent me a few years ago that I hemmed and altered for fun. It was a beautiful way to celebrate Jennifer's life and also a great, grand introduction to Honduran tradition of quinceañera!

Have I told you how much I love my sister? Probably not, because she's gets uncomfortable when people get mushy (which of course is my specialty). Well, tonight as we were talking, I remembered how much I loved her all over again. It seems we always swap stories of our mishaps and mistakes. I think we sound like broken records, but I guess I'm encouraged that much more - that we are sisters in our repetition. You see, it doesn't matter if the stories from work seem not to have moved in a week or if our hearts are struggling in the same ways we thought we'd moved on from, or if our haphazard living styles have not moved to a less-embarrassing state... it doesn't matter because we love and encourage each other in the midst of all the mess.

Today, as we were talking ... I started to share about my current dream-squasher: fatigue and failure.
I want to press on, but I'm tired.
I want to believe change will come, but failure creeps on my shoulder like an ugly monster.

Anyway, no surprise, right? You've heard this before if you know me at all. I had an imaginary conversation with my mom a few weeks ago, when I was knee-deep in stress about my students and their decisions.
Honey, she told me, the BEST you can do is pursue your Savior with your whole heart. I said, I know. She said, do you have anyone to sharpen you and push you deeper and further into your pursuit of Christ. Not really, I said. Well, she said, maybe in this time God is trying to teach you that He is all-sufficient. Yes, maybe, I said.

So, weeks later, I am relaying two dream-squashing excuses to my sister and expressing my frustration and she says something like:
You know, I was trying to have some time with the Lord the other day and I kept trying to wrestle Him into giving me answers and get productive with my time. Finally, I just decided to be with Him... to sing and praise and love and honor Him. I realized I just needed to be with Him, not to just ask Him to figure out my problems.

I give up on things and let my dreams get squashed into the pavement because I try to have hope in an end HERE... I go to God hoping He will give me more tools to be effective instead of trusting Him to work.
I want results when I love people. I want improvement.
I want something significant to come out of gas money and coffee dates.
I want something spectacular to prove God's glory here.

Well, guess what? God's glory does not need proven.

My desire to see results shows that I am not TRUSTING in His plan to reveal His glory. If I really want eternal results, than I will throw myself into time with my Savior and trust He will work all things according to His will and purpose. And who am I to doubt His work will be significant?

Thanks, sister, for reminding me that time with my Savior does not need to end with a 'take-away' objectives and keys to unlock more ministry.

Time with my Savior is truly time to
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

muffled sounds and belt-out anthems

I know, I know... it's been awhile. Many thanks to Christina, who fills in always like a champ and attracts twice the following every time! :)

It seems like the moments I stop to process turn into something much more like days, and then I flip a page and realize I chose some other mindless activity rather than capture thoughts in typeface or scrawled script. So, I'm thankful for people who hear me in the spaces and even when I don't speak. :)

On to more important matters... like last Thursday after school.
muffled sounds
I planned to have my afternoon open for whatever God might put in my lap and after the 2:45 bell rang, there appeared Carol. What a WONDERFUL way to color my day! So, after watching her get creative with an art project in the music room, listening to some of Jeny's crazy mainstream music, piling 9 students into my car for a munchie run, and the blessing of a long conversation with a recovered stateside friend... we drove Louis (my car) right over a small mountain. Well, they call them "tumulos" here and apparently it's the Honduran version of a speed bump, but I'm sticking with my first description: small mountain. Anyway, so Louis didn't respond very well to all that weight and all that mountain, but he kept on all right. Later that night when I have four students to drop off down the mountain, we start to hear a knocking sound.

Jeny thinks it's someone stuck in the trunk, Carol doesn't think it's any big deal, and Chepo and Daniela have no advice to give. Soon the knocking was accompanied by a metal-dragging-sound that seemed to happen every time I turned left (on the windy, mountain road). By the time we reach the bottom of the mountain, the knock-drag sounds have amplified to almost deafening and I managed to pray over the roar that God would keep us safe and protect the car. About 30 seconds after I finished my desperate plea, the sounds completely stopped!

I praised God, we arrived at my house, the parents came, and all was well.

Until the next day, when I looked under my car to find:
That's right, I don't have a muffler. And you want to know the funny thing? I could only break into a huge smile right there in my haula (my car's cage) because I knew there was some little boy wandering around that night with a huge, ghetto-fabulous silver muffler (because that's what I had), about to show it off to all his friends and then purchase something very resourceful and necessary like candy or new school shoes. (please don't burst my bubble, even though it's tempting!)

and now more important matters....like Sunday at Micah Project worship
belt-out anthems
Sadly, my anthems as of late have been trudging along to the same dreary rhythms. The words, I should have and I wish and why didn't I. You know the type of choruses to which I'm referring, yes?

Well, on Sunday my soul got a very necessary whomping. I might have just made up that term, but it is the sound a firm, loving hand makes when thrown solidly onto a child's rear end. And that's exactly what found my hide-and-seek soul.

I was in one of those cheap plastic chairs, tucked in with the darkness of the barrio and a bunch of boys singing out in the courtyard with sandpaper voices, "Te amo mas que a mi vida, te amo mas que a mi vida, te amo mas que a mi vida."

Miguel was standing beside me on the bench, poking me in my ribs, and someone had just put a baseball cap on my head. The song is all about claiming my inheritance in Christ. It's about singing the reality that Christ saw and loved when no one else did. It's about receiving a name from the One who spreads the heaven like a blanket when you've been discarded by the closest relative you have.

And, here's where my soul got all wound up. It's about loving Him back with every single ounce of love kept back in my hide-and-seek soul.

That night, John challenged the boys to think about what they were loving more... who they were loving more... and if they could sing about loving God more than life and be honest about it.

Needless to say, the hide-and-seek soul has been belting out this anthem like a record on repeat after the good whomping on Sunday. Maybe I think that the more I sing it (or the louder)... the truer it will be of my heart. Bummer, that it can't be true. But, I think belt-out anthems are beautiful and a very appropriate way to make a voice hoarse.

Here is a video with the song and some great pictures from Micah Project.

Here is a different version that makes me smile. Why? Because this rap in the middle is what these boys from the street breathe. When we sing it at Micah Project a few of them step out to lay it down and every time (even though I don't understand all the words) I hear their hearts.

Sorry, for the length, but it's good to be back!

go search for your hide-and-seek soul and
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Come here often?

Some conversations around the coffeepot this week have centered around this question- where are our people hanging out?

No, not coffeeshops.

No, not at the Mall.

We're talking about online!

The big question of our week involves, where are our people hanging out on this big world wide web of ours?

Here is my question to you loyal blog-readers. Where do you 'hang out?' I'll come clean, here are my biggest online hangouts, in NO particular order.

1) People.com (Yes, embarrassing.)
2) Twitter. (Love it. Connects me to my amigos y amigas y FAMILIA!)
3) Facebook. (Mostly for ministry.)
4) Gmail. (For everything- documents, spreadsheets, email, pictures. You name it, gmail has it.)
5) Blogs. (Younghouselove.com, kaci-jo.blogspot.com, alanandsteph@blogspot.com, and jonkalvig.com, and OF COURSE, this blog :) are frequent-visit places.)
6) Hulu. (The perfect solution for people who aren't at home when their shows are.)

Where are YOU hanging out?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Beyond the 'Bobblehead Jesus'

Have you seen this video?

It's a funny (hilarious, actually) look at the way some people view Jesus.

At Underground (the High School worship service my ministry puts on every Sunday) we are exploring for the next 3 weeks, the huge disconnect between what is true of Jesus and what we believe of him.

For instance, I find myself thinking He is disappointed in me, frustrated with my slowness, and weary of my missed or lackluster 'quiet times.' I think He's up there in heaven, shaking His head at how I just can't get it together. 'My goodness, Christina, you're 27 years old! Time to get a few of these kinks worked out!'

But when we look at Jesus of the Bible, he's not weary of people not being spiritual enough. In FACT, when people were super-spiritual, He was not that big of a fan. He liked faith. He liked neediness.

Check it out.

Mark 2:1-12 (New International Version)

Mark 2

Jesus Heals a Paralytic
1A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7"Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

8Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? 9Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk'? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ." He said to the paralytic, 11"I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." 12He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"

This dude was so needy that he couldn't even bring himself to Jesus! And (from what we see) he was relying on his friends not just for a free ride, but for the faith to heal him too! And Jesus not only healed him, but forgave his sins as well. Wow.

Question: What is the disconnect in YOUR life between the Jesus that IS and the 'Bobblehead version' that you replace him with?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Wise Words

Read and chew on these words from Cornelius Plantinga.
The truth is that nothing in this earth can finally satisfy us. Much can make us content for a time but nothing can fill us to the brim. The reason is that our final joy lies “beyond the walls of this world,” as J.R.R Tolkien put it. Ultimate beauty comes not from a lover or a landscape or a home, but only through them. These earthly things are solid goods, and we naturally relish them. But they are not our final good. They point to what is higher up and further back…Even if we fall deeply in love and marry another human being, we discover that our spiritual and sexual oneness isn’t final. It’s wonderful, but not final. It might even be as good as human oneness can be, but something in us keeps saying “not this” or “still beyond”…What Augustine knew is that human beings want God…God has made us for himself. Our sense of God runs in us like a stream, even though, because of sin, we divert it toward other objects. We human beings want God even when we think that what we really want is a green valley, or a good time from our past, or a loved one. Of course we do want these things and persons, but we also want what’s behind them. Our inconsolable secret, says C.S. Lewis, is that we are full of yearnings, sometimes shy and sometimes passionate, that point us beyond the things of earth to the ultimate reality of God.

I picked this up on TGC from Tullian. Check it out here. Well, I can't say much after that! Maybe I'll do some reflecting tomorrow...

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

Monday, April 05, 2010

Careers, Adventures, and the Single Woman

This is a re-post from November 19, 2007 when I was living and working in Austin, Texas with Americorps, coordinating service for the college students at St. Edward's University. It is so funny how I recently saw a bright light bulb illuminate about my strong desire for a partner in ministry, male leadership, and family. I thought I was seeing a new understanding and desire emerge. Then, I randomly read this old post and it seems that this desire is not so new at all! Though my location has changed and my contentedness to continue adventuring alone until God guides otherwise, I still feel very much the same.


Why am I going to write on one of the most written about topics in social, single circles? Well, not only am I now one of the target audiences for said discussions and articles, I am also forming my own take on what it means to be a Christ-following single woman looking for adventure in the midst of career-driven prescribed dreams. I realize that just sounded like a personal ad... and please before all of you well-meaning, Christ-following single men looking for adventure in the midst of ________ (fill in blank) send a response, know that this is not an invitation.

I recently read an article published in the opinion section of Forbes magazine titled, "Don't Marry Career Women." Of course, days after it’s publication there was widespread public outcry and Forbes quickly published a counterpoint from one of their female writers. As I read through the first article, the first few paragraphs quickly captured my attention, “Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career. Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage.”

Michael Noer goes on to establish his argument on the shoulders of these social scientists who give all sorts of discouraging information about divorce, extra-marital sex, marital satisfaction, and the added complication of children. Being a recently graduated woman myself, who checks the single box on official documents and replies to relationship queries with the most graceful shift in conversation, what Mr. Noer said struck a chord. But, not one that you might think most obvious for my life stage or position.

The Journey
I spent four years in a liberal arts Christian college lusting after adventure and carefully growing the seeds of wanderlust sown early in my childhood on an Iowa farm. Though I trained my mind to filter much of my education through a Christian worldview, I couldn’t help but soak up bits of this overwhelming anthem: dream up anything, find some passion, and set out to realize that dream. It’s true that the American dream shouts this anthem, but the voices I was hearing above the rest were women. My professors, classmates, and celebrated success stories assured me that the only person who could prevent my dreams as a woman… was me.

So, when I graduated and set out on my first adventure to Austin, Texas working as an Americorps VISTA, I had no doubt this time of glorious, “independent woman” freedom would only give birth to other independent ventures. But the excitement is surprisingly wearing off and with it I’m becoming increasingly uncomfortable in these independent shoes.

Adventuring Alone
The single most important factor in my life is my personal relationship with the Living God. The fact that God made us in His image relational, and that He’s placed us in intentional community should be apparent enough. But, my hardheadedness has stretched out this learning process into what is now 23 years. Finally, though, I’ve realized that we weren't designed to adventure alone. It’s not that I’m an inferior woman who is void of an independent spirit. It is that I am beginning to understand instead my soul’s deep longing comes from the very opposite of independence. Darwin Anderson, from International Messengers, once said in a training session that “independence is just plain not helpful in the mission field. There is no room for it and no need of it.”

Even though I strongly agreed when I heard this almost two years ago, I am realizing now that independence is useful in few places. What is all of life, but a mission field? After about four months here in Austin, I realize that I don’t want to be independent. I don’t want to plan the next exciting adventure where I will uproot from community once again only to go to a new place and start over. The family of believers I have providentially fallen into here is of the most amazing kind. My spirit is conflicted when I imagine my adventures would start in new community only to be pulled from it.

Career woman
But, let’s get to the real meat of it. There’s community and then there’s a spouse. There’s a definite difference between being a part of a Christ-following community and being a part of a “till death do us part” union. Michael Noer wasn't writing about the downfall of career women in the life of the church; he wrote about the negative effects of "career women" in the home. For some reason, my dreams of being a wife and mother have found themselves separate from my dreams of travel, missions, and career. Though I tried for four+ years, I can no more separate these desires in my heart than one could separate the red from white swirls in a candy cane. Yet, somehow I’ve found myself here. Like it or not, I am this career woman that Michael Noer writes about. I have a degree and I am looking for a well-paying position that would make a dent in the loans from my wonderful, high-priced education.

I realize the cited social scientists had several good points with which I sadly agree. But, Mr. Noer, where does that put me? I am the one you warn against, but also one who quite unwillingly finds herself in this situation. Thankfully I am well aware that my marital fate does not rest in the hands of any crafty columnist, but instead in the scarred palms of a Sovereign Savior. The desire of my heart is that my next adventure would be with someone whose heart is equally captivated by Christ’s redemptive story. I have full faith God is growing me for an eternal purpose; career or no career, husband or no husband, new city or old farm. I have full faith, but I sure am tired of adventuring alone.

So, dear cyber friends, what say you?

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

Saturday, April 03, 2010

after all, the rain

There is a very sad song by William Fitzsimmons called, "Afterall." It's a song that pleads for love to remain, after all. With the memories of wedding vows in repetition, the song is so painful because by the end he is pleading without hope of securing the love, afterall.

Tonight, for some reason I feel the sadness of the "afterall," but my heart pleas from a different place entirely. Fitzsimmons sings, "Please don't leave me..." and though I feel at home in this phrase it's not because I want someone to return to me, but I feel the song drifting from the lips of my glorious Savior. The sadness does not come from my hope in a relationship that will only disappoint. No, my sadness comes from disappointing the One who offers the only hope.

Yesterday, Good/Black Friday passed without a solemn reflection or study, though I saw a bit of the processional in the city, noted the elaborate alfombras in the streets (beautiful, colored sawdust carpets), and searched for several inspiring articles and meditations (relevant, chris tomlinson's poem). I spent most of the day with a student and her family, reading, hammocking (my newest favorite thing to do), swimming, playing volleyball, eating, and passing Spanish conversation.

So, after I got home and checked my twitter/email/facebook (in that order), I was just ready to be done. I didn't have any ambition to open my Bible or journal or pray. I was just tired. So, I slept like a rock and this morning came without announcing its arrival too loudly (or too early). And, about the day I went.

Something I forgot to mention ... an extremely important *something* happened last night and again now as I am writing this.


If you haven't been following Central America's news lately, the current drought is a pretty big deal. Some people in certain areas are only receiving water once a week and others less than that.

Last night, when I was outside the city with my student's family, the drips started to softly pound the tiled roof. It had been so long since the steady sound and smell of rain had visited this place. When the electricity went off, I really started to breathe in the smell I love so much: wet ground.

How strange, I thought, that on the night when Jesus was so cruelly crucified all those years ago... on this night the rain falls to water the earth. Only with this sorrow from heaven could there be any chance of life here on earth. In "Reason for God" Keller writes that Christ's forgiveness for us was costly suffering. This forgiveness of a world of sins stands very intentionally in front of the most costly suffering the same world of sins could muster and says, "I will take it all."

The meditating I refused last night is now hitting me like the lines of Fitzsimmons' sad song of broken wedding vows. I am most humbled and hurt by my willingness to be so cavalier with my Savior, who has suffered at great cost to forgive me and pull me closer to His side. Though my Groom has laid out great, mysteriously beautiful instructions to know and love Him, I leave for other lovers.

Like almost every other day this week, this morning I grabbed my stack of books and set off for morning coffee and a place to flip some pages. I met up with my friend Jess and we compared stories about Semana Santa and laughed about the silly things and frustrated ourselves over how our lives aren't exactly how we pictured them and how there are so many things we could change and how (especially) we would love it if God could very obviously point out the next steps in our journey.

At one point in our conversation, Jess said, "Sometimes, after we talk I feel so... discontent."
I think I said, "I KNOW!" before she even finished.

And it rains.

It's still raining outside and I am so unbelievably glad.

In Catholic tradition, the most ceremonious part of Easter is Friday when Jesus was crucified. They march through the streets, build beautiful shrines, act out portions of the event, and mourn the loss of the Messiah. And then it's over.

It's still raining outside and I am so unbelievably glad, because the rain is LIFE and not death. Because though my Savior suffered at great cost for my penchant for other lovers, it is only through His suffering that I can live.

Just as the death of drought finds life only by rain, so our heavy, other-lover souls find LIFE by Christ's costly tears of suffering.
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

because today CHRIST LIVES!

Friday, April 02, 2010

sensical straights, a poem

so I thought I wanted to control every piece,
to put in order and stuff into sensical straights
all the ways my life colors outside the lines

I thought I could force my body to stretch so far
and hold so fast that nothing is left behind,
not even the smallest hope or dream outside my reach

I thought that this holding together would be, well, the life of me
I thought if I held everything together I would stay in tact too.
...because a great, monstrous fear is to unravel
until only a heaping mess of life-yarn remains

now, if I could put a lasso around what most confuses me
and all the ways my randomness leaves disasters
of colors and shapes and people stranded

if I could somehow capture this crazy, inner, picasso-sized mess
and train it, conform it, teach it, mold and shape it...
until finally it becomes standard and organized and disciplined

then my guilt might not have such a strong voice
to guide and scream and gnaw and attack and whisper
at all the things I haven't done or all the ways I've failed

but, now I see my thoughts are incomplete
can I hope for perfection by imperfect means?
does another failure and more guilt await
after this hopeful process of control?


inspired by chapters 10/11 of Reason for God by Timothy Keller
thoughts welcome!

write your own poem this month in the spirit of April=poetry month!

as always,
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Mission Trip PICTURES!

Here are pictures from the mission trip I took with students March 7-12. We collaborated with a school from Plano, Texas to reach out to children in the rural areas outside the city. These pictures cannot possibly communicate the way God worked that week, but it will give you a little dose of the JOY we got to experience just being close to God's heart.This was a carnival we put on for children at a rural public school. These kids seem to be listening to some directions and enjoying some of the tasty CANDY that all the gringos brought!
Daniel Aleman (on the right) is greeting Youn Hee Choi, one of the students from Texas ... who is actually only lived in the states for 2 years and before in Korea. We all ADORED her smile and personality... and culture!
We did outreach/evangelism/prayer for people in the streets of nearby towns of Valle de Angeles and Santa Lucia. This was very "mission-trip-like" and typical for the students from PCA, but for my students it was kind of crazy. These are our neighbors.
Pablo. What a joy to know and love this student! He takes every opportunity to use his skills to bring delight to God and others! This is at the orphanage one afternoon.
This is another picture from the carnival at the public schools. This was a racing game and the kids LOVED IT!
O HAPPY DAY! This captures the joy the kids at the orphanage felt at our visits!
Here is a big group of students/kids from the orphanage just hanging out. We did a lot of that ... just unplanned hang-out time. I think that was most valuable for the kids at the orphanage - to see that we were just making ourselves available to love them.
We PAINTED! Were we the most effective or experienced painters Honduras could find? Nope :) But we sure had fun and learned a few good lessons! :)
This may have been my favorite part of the trip - the Lifehouse drama, but in Spanish. These are my students and they did a MAGNIFICENT job. This performance was in the public school.

I have more pictures, hopefully I can find out how to post them to picasa and give you the link! Please post any questions you have about the trip. I would LOVE to answer them!

go ahead, be a little silly on this Thursday and

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

March Honduran Horizon Newsletter

Here is the newsletter for MARCH! I know what you're thinking... you are so early!

Well, I only missed finishing in March by about 35 minutes, so I guess I can handle that. Please send me a comment if you want to sign up to receive the email/PDF copy of the newsletter so I can send it to you!

If you have questions, please let me know!

And as always....
let LOVE FLY like cRaZY