Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Letter to North American Churches


This is the letter that I wrote for the Eighth Letter campaign. You can find out more about this project here.

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Dear Church in North America,

I write to you today as a long time friend. I was raised as one of your own since infancy and there has never been a time in my life when I have not been a part of this family. There have been times when I have rejoiced in what we are doing and times that I have wept over what we have failed to do, but there has never been a time when I have abandoned you or my faith in Jesus.

While there are areas where we likely have disagreement, one area where I believe we share a common goal is that of a drawing of all people to Jesus. I hope that my own life has been changed by the love that He has shown me through His death and resurrection, and I hope that I have conveyed that love to those who I meet in my life. We see people in our land hurting and we desire to see them healed. And one way that we believe this healing can happen is through Jesus.

As a long-time member of the Church in North America, one passage that I have heard many times regarding this revival is 2 Chronicles 7:14. It speaks of God healing our land, and while it was a promise made to Israel, many Christians choose to embrace it for our own nations. However, I do question how closely we are reading this verse.

The first thing that I notice is that the tendency is to look at this passage as though it is speaking to those outside of the Church. Perhaps not the praying part or the seeking God’s face part, but the “turning from our wicked ways” part certainly. So we rally behind things like outlawing stem cell research and amendments denying gay marriage and boycotting stores that say “Happy Holidays.” Or we’ll rally behind laws to prevent sex trafficking or the need for universal health care or fair trade coffee. We see things that we believe are wicked and seem to think that if we clean those up “out there”, perhaps God will bless our nations.
And in so doing, I believe we forget the very first part of the message that God gave to Israel. The first command, before praying, before seeking His face, before anything else, was to practice humility. Humility is not fun and it’s not easy. It’s far easier to get behind a cause with a slogan than it is to be humble.

Humility requires that we get our hands dirty. It requires us to be a part of the solution in a very practical way. It requires us to see those with whom we disagree as our equals. It requires a personal investment.
I believe that the Church at large has seemed to miss this more personal approach. We have favored causes over individuals. We have played political games and made that a measuring stick of one’s commitment to Christ. We have chosen pride over humility.

Many individuals choose better. I see people volunteer at soup kitchens. I see people spend time with prostitutes. I see people donate money to help cover medical expenses. I see people give of themselves to women who are struggling with an unplanned pregnancy. There are numerous opportunities to see the people of God choosing to engage on a personal level with the hurting around them and I am grateful for those who have taken the idea of humility to heart.

I pray that as we seek God’s face, we follow the example that God in the flesh gave us. That we see how Jesus interacted with those who were hurting around him. That we model ourselves after the way he spoke and acted. That we emulate his humility. I believe that as we do that, we will see people drawn to the One who we are imitating and we will experience healing. Not only in the world, but inside our churches as well.

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If you were writing a letter to the Church, what would you say? If you've participated in the Eighth Letter project, please share a link to your own letter.


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Update: I'm including this as a part of the Eighth Letter synchroblog. You can read more letters here at Rachel Held Evans's blog. Here's to this being an opportunity for us to learn from one another and grow stronger and more loving!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Musical Monday

Yesterday Tina sent me a happy little memory and I thought I'd share it for my Musical Monday today.

We were stopping at her house after school one afternoon and we flipped on the television -- I think to watch a tape of Mission Impossible or Saturday Night Live, since those were two of our favorites -- and Duck Tales (Tina informed me that it was Count Duckula -- sorry!) was playing. However, the audio was still set up for something else and the song Iko Iko as covered by the Belle Stars was on. Normally this isn't anything special, but it was one of those rare happy moments when the phrasing in the song just happened to coincide with the cuts in the show, and it really looked like the show was covering the song. Honestly, I can't hear that song without thinking of that little moment in time.

The story behind this song is actually pretty interesting (and a bit murky, it seems). It's about a Mardi Gras parade collision, where one tribe's "flag boy" threatens to set fire to the flag of the other tribe. It's been covered by a whole mess of artists (including some I didn't know about, like the Neville Brothers & Cyndi Lauper).

Anyway, it's a super catchy little song. Have a happy Monday!

My grandma and your grandma
Sitting by the fire
My grandma says to your grandma
"I'm gonna set your flag on fire"

Talkin' 'bout
Hey now
Hey now
Iko iko an nay
Jockomo feena ah na nay
Jockomo feena nay

Look at my king all dressed in red
Iko iko an nay
I bet you five dollars he'll kill you dead
Jockomo feena nay

CHORUS:
Talkin' 'bout
Hey now (hey now)
Hey now (hey now)
Iko iko an nay (whoah-oh)
Jockomo feena ah na nay
Jockomo feena nay

My flag boy and your flag boy
Sitting by the fire
My flag boy says to your flag boy
"I'm gonna set your flag on fire"

(CHORUS)

(bridge)

(hey now)
(hey now)
(hey now)
(hey now)
Jockomo feena nay
Iko!

See that guy all dressed in green
Iko iko an nay
He's not a man, he's a loving machine
Jockomo feena nay

(4x)
Talkin' 'bout
Hey now (hey now)
Hey now (hey now)
Iko iko an nay (whoah-oh)
Jockomo feena ah na nay
Jockomo feena nay

(repeat till fading end)
Jockomo feena nay

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stuff I've Been Reading

Links to some of the posts I've been reading throughout the week. Click on through and show these folks some love!
  • Rachel Held Evans wrote a spectacular piece about unconditional love.
  • Daryl Lang offers some ideas on why nearly 20% of Americans believe that our president is a secret Muslim.
  • Elizabeth Esther made me laugh hard enough to wake up the kids with her piece about feminine hygiene products. (Also, she just got a column in the Orange County Register, which is super fantastic!)
  • Matthew Paul Turner wrote a pretty scathing piece of satire about the Focus on the Family video to help you identify the gay agenda in your school. 
  • Leonard Pitts, Jr. wrote a lovely piece about civil rights and who the "we" is.
  • Jason Boyett talks about some of the questions for which he has not received sufficient answers.
What have you read/written/watched/listened to that moved you this week? Please self-promote to your heart's content. I love finding new blogs!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sappy Saturday

This has been a year of appliance replacement. New dryer, new refrigerator, new microwave. Jason and I have been married 13 years and most of these things were used when we got them, so that they all gave up the ghost at the same time wasn't tremendously surprising to us. Certainly wish the timing was spaced out a bit more, but still.

We do still have one item from our wedding that is in working order and gets used every day.

Our alarm clock.

Our 13 year old Sony dual-alarm digital clock still works.

When Jason and I got married, we were young and had not yet lived on our own, so we needed everything. I didn't bother registering for our wedding because honestly, we just needed it all. And people were incredibly generous. We got pretty much everything that we needed to get started as a married couple. And one of the items that we received was this clock.

Since then, I would say that basically everything that we received from our wedding has been replaced. I don't think we use any of the towels, except for maybe one or two as rags. A number of the dishes broke and the remainder were given away. The flatware was changed out for something I like a little better. That coffee maker died 3 or 4 machines ago. The glasses shattered. Most of the art has been put away.

But the clock remains. It reliably wakes me up at 6:10am to get the kids ready for school and it reliably goes off in an attempt to wake my husband 4 hours later so HE can go to school. Some day we will no doubt need to replace it as well, but for now, it shines forth as brightly today as it did the first time we plugged it in when we lived in the retirement village where we had our first apartment.

Do you have any appliances that you feel a weird connection to or that trigger happy memories?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tired

It's the last day of the first week of school and I am beat. One would think that having a kid who is up early every day would leave me prepared for the early rise of school, but nope. I'm still absolutely wiped out.

When I get tired, I get a little cranky. Or a lot cranky. It isn't pretty.

Mother Teresa was credited with saying:
Do not think that love, in order to to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.
I know that actual tiredness from being busy isn't what she was talking about, but for me, it's a good reminder. It's easy to be loving when people are kind and loving to me first. It's easy to be loving when I'm in a good mood and feeling happy. It's easy to be loving when it's someone who thinks like me and acts like me.

But change the circumstances some? Someone who is more abrasive? Someone with whom I seriously disagree? At a time when I'm tired? Yeah, I don't always behave in a loving way then. Sometimes it's straight up unloving.

I definitely want to be known as someone who loves. And I think that sometimes I get it in my brain that the only way to be known that way is to do Big Things (tm) to prove that I'm loving. But this quote is a good reminder to me that the real measure isn't the big things, but rather to be consistent in my love. To love when it's not easy. To love when I'm tired.

When is it hard for you to love? What are small ways that you show love even when you're tired?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kickin' up the Happy

Yesterday was so "one of those days." I was tired because I stayed up way too late the night before, and that always puts me off my game. Then there just seemed to be a series of events, all small, that just felt gigantic to me. I hate when crap gets magnified in my brain and something that really is nothing turns into this completely over-reaching problem that colors my whole day. Ugh.

I was in a funk the whole day long. Which is never a good feeling. I was mean to my kids, short with my friends, snippy with my husband and just felt generally miserable. If you're someone I was snarky to yesterday, I'm sorry. I was a jerk.

So I twote a whiny tweet last night and my dear friend Tina suggested that I watch a funny movie. And even though I disagreed with her (I said I wanted to watch something weepy so I could have a good cry and feel better), when I started sorting through my Netflix instant queue, I found a funny movie that I had been wanting to watch (American Zombie, for any who are curious). I watched about half of it before I needed to get some real sleep, but was feeling way better after.

This morning I started thinking of things that make me feel better when I'm in a lousy mood. Here's a short list.

  • Watch a couple Auto-Tune the News videos. These guys are brilliant and no matter how often I see their vids, I laugh every time.
  • Read a novel. While I love to read just about anything, reading a novel (or at least part of one!) that I can hold in my hands generally perks me up. 
  • Play a game with the family. This one is hard to orchestrate right now with Jason's ridiculous schedule, but I love it when we all get to sit down together and play a game.
  • Hugs. Really, I just crave physical contact almost always, and if I can snag a good hug, it does wonders for my mood.
  • I'll write something. Even if it's something that I don't end up posting anywhere, the simple act of writing a bit generally helps calm me down.
  • I'll sing. I'm not a great singer, but cranking up some music and belting out at the top of my lungs is a sure-fire way to bring my mood up a notch or two.
Also, the following video from Sunday morning at my church posted last night. That definitely helped my mood!


CRC - Glee Opener from Chris Moran on Vimeo.

If you're in a bad mood, what things improve it? 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Faith like an atheist (and a child)



Sometimes I'm impressed with how Christian my friend Hemant Mehta can be for an atheist (well, except for the believing in God part).

The above is a talk he gave for the Secular Student Alliance. In it, he discusses some run-ins that he's had with the Illinois Family Institute (mostly for being an atheist teacher in the public schools) and how, despite his (rightful) anger with them, he invited the primary voice to coffee and the two of them sat down and spent time together. After meeting face to face, they came away with a better understanding of one another. I'm sure they're not bffs or even really agree about much of anything, but there's more of a mutual respect there simply as fellow humans. I have nothing but deep respect for Hemant for reaching out to someone he probably didn't like very much, who had sought to cause him pain.

Yesterday I shared how I'm a bad mom. I'm lucky though, because my kids are still good kids. This past weekend, my oldest, who has been having a difficult time with one of her friends, called that friend and spent some time on the phone with her, fixing their relationship. She has heard some of the nasty things that this friend said about her behind her back, and she still took a deep breath and called her up to make things right. The courage it took to do that is really astounding to me.

Last night I finally got around to listening to Andrew Marin's interview on Moody Radio from Monday. He was there to discuss the "I'm Sorry" project that they did during the Chicago pride parade. At the end of the interview, he took some calls. It was astounding to listen to one caller seriously chide Andrew for apologizing for how the Church has treated the LGBT community, telling him that she took "great offense" at his apology.

In Matthew 5, Jesus said:
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the alter and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the alter. First go and be reconciled with your brother; then come and offer your gift.
Seriously? The atheist and the kid get it better than the adult Christian?

I guess it's time to go flip through the ol' brain and figure out who I need to be calling for some coffee!

Is there anyone that you have a particularly difficult time forgiving? What's stopping you?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why I'm a Bad Mom

I had my first child in 1998, right at the dawn of the internets (okay, maybe the morning coffee of the internets, but still, pretty early). And one of the things I learned fairly early on, as I scoured the web for info on how to be a kick-awesome mom, is that everything I would do as a parent is wrong. Every choice I have made or will make regarding how to raise my kids is the wrong one according to at least someone out there. Breast, bottle, cloth, disposable, co-sleep, cry it out, public school, private school, home school, pierced ears, long hair, make-up, boyfriends, television, music -- every choice is wrong.

Figuring out that someone opposes everything I will ever do as a parent has actually been incredibly freeing to me. I absolutely love embracing my bad mom status. Here are a few reasons why I'm a bad mom.
  1. I never cried when any of my kids started school. When Deborah went to Kindergarten, her principal tried to make me cry, but I resisted. Every time the next one started, I was sure this would be the time I'd dissolve in tears at my wee ones growing up, but nope. I've cried every. single. time that I've read Charlotte's Web. But my kids' first days of school? Not a chance, buster.
  2. I bought my daughter cute bras. I've seen Christian discussion boards with pages and pages about just how cute a bra is allowed to be on a young girl. Now I'm all about modesty, but yes, I let my pre-teen daughter pick out her own bras and she picked ones that weren't "little girl" bras. And I bought them. Oh noes. (Part B of this point is that I'm a bad mom for talking about my daughter wearing bras at all!)
  3. I don't always pre-read what my kids are reading. I tried to read Twilight, I really did. But Oh. My. Bob. That book just made me want to rip my eyes out and run screaming from the room. I got about 15 pages in and just couldn't stand it any more and put it away. But my daughter has read the whole series. I know being a good mom requires that I read everything controversial that my kids might get their hands on, but I dropped the ball on this one. My need for good reading trumped my need to be a good mom. Fortunately, none of the boys Deborah has shown interest in seem to glitter or have redonkulous abs, so we're probably okay.
  4. I've pushed my kids to be skeptics. Okay, this is definitely both of us, but ever since my online friend Ellie pointed me to snopes.com years and years ago, there's very little that I don't run up against a fact checking source of some kind. And the kids have totally picked this up as well. I love that they don't just assume that something is true because it's from an authority. On the other hand, it makes it way tougher to use the "because I'm your mom and I said so!" statement. Suckish.
  5. I use words like "suckish" and "whatev" and "coral" to annoy my ultra-hip kids who think it's an embarrassment to have a parent who uses their language.
  6. I have a blog that looks like it's going to be about my kids, but is really just about me. If I could go back in time five years ago and pick a different name for my blog, I totally would, because this is not the blog that it looks like it's going to be. But I didn't really know what I was doing back then (blogs have evolved so much since this one started) and now I'm just too lazy to start something else. So I have a blog that looks like a Mommy blog, but is mostly just a mish-mash of stuff that doesn't really have much to do with parenting at all.
  7. If I beat the kids at a Wii game, I totally rub their faces in it. Granted, this doesn't happen very often. Usually they crush me at whatever we play. But on the rare occasions that I actually manage to take them down, I'm the worst winner ever.
Are you a parent? What do you do that makes you a bad parent (silliness only people -- I'm not looking for folks to beat up on themselves)? If you're not a parent, where would you buck the norms and be labeled "bad"?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Quick Question

Thinking about making my September Musical Monday posts all One-Hit Wonders. And yes, I'm going more with the idea of a band known only for one song, not a band/artist that is well known, but has only made the top 40 list one time.

So readers, what are your favorite one-hit wonder songs? 

Musical Monday

I love searching around my music collection for something new to post up for a Musical Monday. I don't like to repeat myself too often, especially when there's so much good music out there to be listened to and enjoyed.

So I was clicking through some stuff I haven't listened to in a while and came across Sara Bareilles. I really liked Little Voice (BTW, you can click through that sponsored link and pick up the download for just four bucks, which is a total steal!) and am looking forward to the release of her new album in a few weeks.

Anyway, I haven't listened to it in a while, so I ran it a bit last night while I was goofing around online before bed and I remembered how much I liked it. She's got a beautiful voice, some gorgeous keys work, and just a fantastic sound. If you haven't heard of her, you're definitely missing out.

Really, all of the songs on this album are good, but I'm going with City for today's post. I absolutely love the lyric for this one. I think no matter what we do, it's easy to get lost in the doing. Having someone to hold on to when you feel like you're losing yourself is an amazing thing.

There's a harvest each saturday night
At the bars filled with perfume and hitching a ride
A place you can stand for one night and get gone
It's clear this conversation ain't' doing a thing
Cause these boys only listen to me when I sing
And I don't feel like singing tonight
All the same songs

Here in these deep city lights
Girl could get lost tonight
I'm finding every reason to be gone
Nothing here to hold on to
Could I hold you?

The situation's always the same
You got your wolves in their clothes whispering Hollywood's name
Stealing gold from the silver they see
But it's not me

Here in these deep city lights
Girl could get lost tonight
I'm finding every reason to be gone
There's nothing here to hold on to
Could I hold you?

Calling out somebody save me I feel like I'm fading away
Am I gone?
Calling out somebody save me I feel like I'm fading

In these deep city lights
Girl could get lost tonight
I'm finding every reason to be gone
There's nothing here to hold on to
Could I hold on to you?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stuff I've Been Reading

These are links to some of the awesome things I've been reading this week (and the week before, since I missed some awesome stuff when I was on vacation). Swing by and show these folks some love!
  • Paul Van der Klay wrote an interesting post about the power of our words
  • My friend Danny wrote a fantastic post about the bad voices.
  • Matt at the Church of No People wrote a kind of cost/benefit analysis of some of the gimmicks we in the Church sometimes use to draw people in.
  • I'm going back a little beyond my normal one week to add Rebecca Ramsey's post about an interaction with a student and fear. Loved this one.
  • My friend Billy gives us a small glimpse into some of the work he does with Nuru. And seriously, if you're looking for a place to donate money where you can be assured that the people will benefit, Nuru is a great one.
  • My dear husband wrote his own piece about the Park 51 building. Far more eloquent than mine!
  • Billy Coffey wrote about his son growing up. This is absolutely beautiful.
What have you read/written/watched/listened to that moved you this week? Feel free to drop links to your own stuff! I love discovering new blogs!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fake Birthdays

Today is my best friend Tina's birthday. Today she joins me on the wrong side of 30 (though no doubt with less whining). Happy birthday Tina!

That said, today is not generally the day that I would celebrate Tina's birthday.

One of the big events that happened in our high school was that on a person's birthday, their friends would decorate their locker. Streamers, a balloon or two -- nothing outrageous, but a little something to let friends know you were thinking of them on their special day.

Well, Tina and I both celebrate summer birthdays. And being the party people that we were (we weren't really), we were totally bummed that we weren't going to be able to share in the locker decorating goodness. So we hatched a plan.

We would celebrate fake birthdays.

The genius of this was that this fake birthday could be any day that wasn't our birthday. So at any point during the school year, one of us could come in to have our locker (or sometimes our band cubby) decorated with all of the traditional birthday regalia. It was quite the spectacle.

And best of all would be the package of gag gifts. Koosh balls (remember those?), mixed tapes, coloring books, adult diapers -- you never knew what would be waiting for you. All I knew was that it was going to be fun and my day would become instantly awesome.

I think what I liked best about it was the random element. That moment of unexpected joy that popped into my day. No matter what happened in the moments leading up to the discovery of the surprise, it wouldn't matter because of this little act of fun.

I like to think that I've carried that into adulthood. Tina and I still occasionally celebrate the odd fake birthday.  I try to every now and again pay for the food for the car behind me in the drive-thru. Jason and I try to give our kids fun little outings every now and again on the spur of the moment. Little moments of joy. Tiny acts of fun.

What random, fun thing do you like to do with a friend or family member? How do you inject little moments of joy into your life and into the lives of others?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Is a YMCA a Church?

So, you might have heard that there's a gigantic, scary, probably terrorist-producing mosque being built right on top of Ground Zero. Pretty awful stuff.

Ya' know, if that were the case.

But, of course, it is NOT the case.

What is being built is a community center (basically the Muslim equivalent of a YMCA) that has an area in it set aside for prayer two blocks from Ground Zero. There is another mosque in the area, one that has been there for 40 years and sustained significant damage during the 9/11 attacks.

There have been all kinds of arguments about why the Park51 project should be stopped, but the one that makes the least sense to me (and seems to be the latest in a series of ridiculous claims) is that the building of the community center is insensitive to the victims of the World Trade Center attacks.

I think this bothers me primarily because it seems to paint the idea that the only people who died in the attacks were non-Muslim white people. We talk about this community center offending the families of 9/11 -- but what about the Muslim families that also lost loved ones in the attack? In our zeal to be "sensitive" we do them the disservice of ignoring the pain of seeing your religion twisted into something that you don't hold to, of marginalizing or flat out ignoring their loss, and of saying that their religion is somehow inherently offensive.

Aside from that, in saying that it's insensitive to build this community center, we're basically saying that it's insensitive for Muslims to say that they exist. A tiny fraction of Muslims are terrorists. The basic belief in the tenants of Islam are all these people share in common, yet we paint the mere existence of a Muslim community (community! As in, for all of the people, regardless of religion in the community) center as being offensive. It's like saying that building a new YMCA in Jasper, Texas is insensitive because some members of the "Christian" KKK brutally murdered a black man in that area. The ridiculous of that statement is obvious, yet we're saying the same thing with regard to the Park51 project. Seventeen people who claim to a very particular and extreme version of Islam perpetrated and unthinkable act against the people of America, and now it's insensitive for other Islamic Americans who were also victims of this attack to build a gym. It's xenophobic, plain and simple.

And ultimately, I just can't see how any of that jives with my faith. Even at a very basic, stripped down, Golden Rule level, it just doesn't work for me. And when I read Micah 6:8, this kind of reaction simply doesn't feel just or merciful or humble.

What are your thoughts on the Park51 project? Is it really insensitive and my liberal bias just won't let me see it?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"I Forgot to Freak Out!"

Today's title, or some variation of it, was what my son James told every person he talked to after he climbed to Exclamation Point at Chimney Rock Park. (And if you've had the pleasure of meeting James, you know that boy can talk!)

But really, I'm totally good with that. While an elevation of 2480 feet isn't that massive compared to what some have no doubt done, when you're a kid that breaks into a cold sweat climbing a flight of glass steps in a museum, that's a huge accomplishment. When we were heading to the park, Jason and I reminded him that this was going to be high, but it would also be beautiful and that he didn't need to freak out because he was surrounded by people who loved him and who would do anything to keep him safe. But ultimately, the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other over and over again was enough for him to make it to the top. The sheer exhaustion that he felt from working hard enough to reach the summit was enough for him to forget that he was afraid of heights.

Honestly, the trip was a time for lots of overcoming fears with the kids. James made huge steps (ha!) toward conquering his fear of heights. Deborah got over being afraid of jumping/diving into the pool. Christopher stopped being scared of floating on his back in the pool and started really swimming. Even Faith got into a 30 minute discussion with a woman on the lazy river, and she tends to be the most shy of the kids. Lots of fears, big and small, were faced in those couple of days. (The only fear I faced during the trip was that all of my brother-in-law's amazing guacamole would be eaten before I got to try it, and that didn't happen.)

As I continue my own goals to expel some fears in my life, it was good to see my kids addressing things now. I am hopeful that as they learn to face their fears as children, they will have better tools for facing them as adults. I think part of having faith like a child is to have courage like a child. To become so immersed in what I'm doing that I forget to freak out.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Musical Monday

I've been meaning for a while to feature my dear friend Rich on a Musical Monday. Aside from being a kick-awesome friend, he's quite the amazing musician. That I get to make music with him at church and in Under Shelter is a real honor. But I'll save further gushing for an eventual Sappy Saturday post.

Photo by Tay Jones
So a few months ago I asked Rich to shoot me some music that he's written to peruse for a post on my blog. The next thing I know, I've got a new folder in my dropbox that is stuffed full of music! I've had time to listen to it and have been reminded again why I get so dang intimidated by him as a musician (as a person, he's just way too silly to be intimidating).

After sorting through all of it and having a hard time deciding what piece to share, I just asked him what I should share. He told me some of his favorites and I was delighted to find that one of my favorites was in that list. It's a song that he co-wrote with a friend from church and it's absolutely beautiful. It's a Christmas-y song, but still quite lovely.

This is what he shared about writing the song a couple of years ago (this is my favorite part about featuring songs of people that I know -- being able to get inside of their brain is super cool!).
At the Genesis meeting a few months ago, Trey (was) talking about ramping up for the Christmas services, and gave the prevailing theme of the incarnation of Christ. (He) suggested we use our various areas of expertise in coming up w/ stuff to be used in those services, or at least around the theme. As (he was) speaking, a melody popped into my head, which turned out to be part of the verse melody. When we broke out into groups, Amanda & I decided to work on a song, starting with that bit of melody. We grabbed a guitar and a Bible. Most of the first verse came from Isaiah 9; some of the rest of the song was inspired by Philippians 2. The process really starts out, lyrically, by outlining what you want the song to say. The song’s been through a few changes, lyrically, but the bulk has remained. Once you have a melody, you simply have to find a chord pattern that fits.
I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do. The recording, which can be found here, features Amanda Jackson on vocals and Rich Chaffins on guitar. Thanks for listening!

Child of Man

Long ago prophets told of a child 
Who would be the world's Redeemer
Fully God, fully man 
With the weight of the world upon his shoulders

Oh that he would share with us our trials
Oh that he would shed divinity
For the ones who would nail him to a tree

Born the Word
A life set up before you
Into the world
Created by your hand
Long foretold
A light has dawned among us
Son of God, sent to us, the child of man

Long before the earth was made
Your eyes beheld the awesome glory of the Father
Then on earth as a babe
All you saw was God's children hurting one another

All of our burdens were upon you
Even though you're too small to understand
Were you aware 
All along of your Father's plan?


Born the Word
A life set up before You
Into the world
Created by Your hand
Long foretold
A light has dawned among us
Son of God, sent to us, the child of man

We'll tell the whole world of your story
How your love bridged eternity
What was broken once will be made new again
By the gift you gave upon the tree

Born the Word
A life set up before You
Into the world
Created by Your hand
Long foretold
A light has dawned among us
Son of God, sent to us, the child of man
Son of God, sent to us, the child of man.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Stuff I've Been Reading

My list is a bit thin today, as vacation really cut into my blog reading this week. But still, swing by these folks and say hello!

  • Rachel Held Evans wrote a very thought-provoking piece about the waning "popularity" of the pro-life movement. Lots of good stuff in the comment section.
  • Jamie the Very Worst Missionary grabs a priest's banana
  • NakedPastor posted a fantastic cartoon last Monday. Makes me think about some of the "cages" that I see in my own life.
  • Full-featured friend Rich Chaffins posted some pics of a guitar he's been working on and then goes on to write a really beautiful statement about imperfections in life. Very nice.
  • Brett McCracken (author of the newly released "Hipster Christianity") wrote a great piece about the perils of "cool" Christianity. 
What have you read/written/watched/listened to that moved you this week? Self-promotion welcomed and encouraged!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sappy Saturday

I don't know if uploading vids from your family vacation really counts as a Sappy Saturday post, but that's what it shall be! I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of writing again, but this little break from blogging has been quite nice.

We had a lot of fun as a family. I really am blessed to be able to hang out with so many funny, creative, smart, good-looking people in my family!

And just as a reminder, these are not funny, clever videos like Bryan Allain or Tyler Stanton or Matthew Paul Turner. These are just a couple of home movies. But most feature ridiculously cute kids, so hopefully that counts for a little something.

Gem Mining with the kids


The Cousins sing "If I Were A Butterfly"


Chopped: Home Edition

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Best of the Best

Given my massive ego, most of these posts are about me.

But not today!

Today I want you to tell me about YOU. (Using my questions, of course. Unless you don't want to -- I'm good either way.)
  1. What was the best book you ever read?
  2. What was your best subject in school?
  3. What was the best movie you ever saw?
  4. What was the best job you ever had?
  5. What was the best vacation you ever took?
  6. What was the best meal you ever ate?
  7. What was the best concert you ever attended?
  8. What was the best television show ever?
  9. What was the best compliment you've ever received?
  10. What's the best thing about you?
I love a chance to get to know you better. Thanks for your responses! (You can play the video below with the sound cranked -- it will totally inspire you!)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Seven Link Challenge

The seven-link challenge is from Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger.net, but I've seen it floating around various blogs that I read. It's certainly an interesting endeavor. If you're a blogger, feel free to join along. Post links to your challenge down in the comments -- I'd love to read them!
  1. Your first post -- Okay, this probably wasn't the actual first post. The observant person will notice that I joined blogger February of 2005 and that post is in November. I had written something before this post, but deleted it because it was the lone post in the entire year to that point. But I do think it's funny that my first post was about relationships. That's clearly where my heart has been and continues to be.
  2. A post you enjoyed writing the most -- I absolutely loved writing this. Partly because the phrase is just super awesome and was dying to be written about, but also because it reminded me why my best friends are, in fact, the best. 
  3. A post which had a great discussion -- Some really good thoughts were shared on this one. It still gives me food for thought. 
  4. A post on somebody else's blog that you wish you'd written -- This was a tough one. I adore Rachel Held Evans's blog, mostly because she is the me I wish I could be when it comes to writing. But when it comes to a post that I go back to an awful lot, "Thinking You're Naked" is one that just blows me away. If I could have written anything on the internet, that would be it. I think it's one of the most powerful blog entries I've ever read and I wish I'd thought of it first!
  5. Your most helpful post -- I don't know if this was really helpful to others, but this post really pulled things into focus for me. I hope that I've followed my own rules since posting this.
  6. A post with a title that you're proud of -- This one still makes me giggle. It was ripped off from a commercial for ??? that was airing at that time, and the whole things makes me smile. And as a side note, we still totally have that used oven. And it's still working great.
  7. A post you wish more people had read -- Kack was one of the most important, influential people in my life. Everyone who wants to know me needs to know about him as well. I miss him a lot and would love to share him with everybody!
Have you participated in this? Share your link! And if you haven't participated, think about doing it. And then share your link!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Musical Monday

I'm on vacation. But thanks to auto-publishing, no one has to know that I'm not slaving away at my computer, thinking of interesting things to write about! Ha-ha internets, I win! (Oh, wait...)

Okay, to the post!

I've been looking for a vacation-y song, but really just couldn't find one that I liked. But one that came up a couple of times was Saturday in the Park by Chicago. Which is a pretty fun song. But not my favorite.

But it reminded me of one of my favorite paintings, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. And that reminded me of a beautiful musical by Stephen Sondheim called Sunday in the Park with George.

The title of this song is Sunday, and it's the last song in the first act. I think the harmonies in this are absolutely gorgeous, and I love the performance by Mandy Patinkin in this one. I've never heard a song about a painting that so moved me. I think Sondheim just captured the beauty and elegance of Seurat's painting in song.

Enjoy and have a great week!

[[All]]
Sunday, by the blue purple yellow red water
On the green purple yellow red grass
Let us pass through our perfect park
Pausing on a Sunday

By the cool blue triangular water
On the soft green elliptical grass
As we pass through arrangements of shadow
Toward the verticals of trees
Forever

By the blue purple yellow red water
On the green orange violet mass of the grass
In our perfect park

[[George]]
Made of flecks of light
And dark
And parasols
Bum bum bum bum bum bum
Bum bum bum

People strolling through the trees
Of a small suburban park
On an island in the river
On and ordinary Sunday
Sunday
Sunday


What song says "vacation" to you? 

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Stuff I've Been Reading

This is a list of links to things that caught my attention this week. Thanks for clicking through and showing these writers some love!
  • Andy at Crucial Encounter wrote a lovely post about opportunities
  • Lucy (by way of Don Miller) writes about her time in the hospital and what it taught her about this thing we humans call love. 
  • Elizabeth Esther writes about why she regrets voting yes on Prop 8. Some really good discussion in the comment section.
  • Rachel Held Evans has a great guest post over at Matthew Paul Turner's site about things that threaten our "best Christian attitude." 
  • And Matthew wrote a really nice post about dreaming. And introduced one of my favorite new words: blermon. 
  • Nathan Albert wrote a beautiful guest post at Andrew Marin's blog about the "issue" of gays getting married, and remembering that it's about people.
What have you read/written/watched/listened to that moved you this week? Self-promotion welcomed and encouraged!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Sappy Saturday

Vacation!

I love vacations. There's just something about getting away from the everyday goings on that is just really nice. Even when Jason and I have just done little weekend jaunts up to Pittsburgh or even simply to Morgantown, there's something about getting away from the house and responsibility that is just delightful.

We're heading out tomorrow morning (very, very early) for this year's family vacation. We're heading to Lake Lure in North Carolina for a few days. Our family is spending the week with the rest of my extended family (my parents, my sisters and their families). I'm looking forward to it.

One of the really fun things that we've started doing on our extended family vacations is to have a talent show. Have you seen Dan in Real Life? Yeah, we do that. Okay, we don't try to steal each other's spouses or anything like that, but we do dress up in costumes (well, some of us), we do skits and we sing. We're just performing for each other, but we have a blast. We've been working on our contribution a good bit this week and we're pretty excited about it. I think Deborah and I are the most pumped, but we're managing to get some others on board as well.

Mostly I'm looking forward to vegging out at the pool, playing some games with my sisters, brothers-in-law, hubby and parents, and just enjoying time with people that I love. I'm really blessed to have a family that gets along well (most of the time, anyway!).

The blog won't go dark while I'm gone -- I've got a few things set to auto-publish (first time using that feature, so we'll see how that works!). One asks you tons of questions, so I expect to have a nice full inbox when I get home from all of the comments! ;-D

Have a great week friends!

Saturday Evening Blog Post

Elizabeth Esther is hosting her monthly Saturday Evening Blog Post today. This is a great opportunity to share something that you've written in the past month with her and her readers. Lots of fantastic writers post over there, so even if you don't participate, definitely consider stopping by and clicking through the links, as you are likely going to find something worth reading!

Friday, August 06, 2010

CSN Store Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to the random number generator over at random.org, I have found the winner of the CSN Store give away.

Lucky #37 is the winner, who is Rich Chaffins.

Thanks to everyone for participating. Keep your eye out for more give-aways. I've got a couple of books that I hope to pass on to you in the coming weeks.

Have a great day!

Shark Week

Photo by Daveybot

Things have been feeling a bit heavy here at the ol' blog, so I figured I'd close out the week with a nod to yet another Shark Week from the Discovery Channel in the can (or nearly in the can, anyway). This was the 23rd installment of Shark Week, and to be honest, I find the whole thing a bit odd. Interesting, but odd.

But I'm always looking for a reason to celebrate something, so every day I have tried to pay homage to one of the more ancient creatures alive with a Tweet highlighting some of their interesting features.
  • In honor of #sharkweek, I'm going to quit evolving for the next 64 million years.
  • In honor of #sharkweek, I'm converting to an all cartilage skeletal structure.
  • In honor of #sharkweek, I'm going to adopt constant motion during my sleeping hours.
Stuff like that. 

So, even though it's almost over, how are you celebrating Shark Week? Share your shark-related stories! (Or some other scary sea creature -- I'm not too picky.)
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I'm a wife to an amazing man, and mom to four incredible kids. I'm a Christian woman who sometimes struggles with doubt. I'm a musician and a writer who is sometimes afraid to play and write. I'm trying to be more authentic every day.
 
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