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Archive for February, 2008

Population Control

With the earth’s population spinning out of control, maybe we should stop having sex and just masturbate.

That’s the wise cynical comment one of my favorite professors made during my 8:00 class this morning. We were talking about family, Old Testament family values and seed spilling.

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Thankfulness Changes

First, thanks for the comments. I’m especially impressed to see my mother piped up. I’m still looking for a different picture that doesn’t have my face in it to use in the header, but for now, this one will stay. And although I don’t think my eyes are too terribly old, I’d agree that it’s a bit more challenging to read white on black, so I think another redesign might be coming. It took a year and a half to do the first one though, so don’t expect the next one too soon.

…..

Something struck me this week. It might have been the midweek sunshine or having to read so much on solution focused care, but I’m not sure. What grabbed me was this passage from Philippians:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This was one of the first scripture passages I memorized and it has been tucked away in my heart for almost a decade. I memorized it because if there’s a gene for worrying, it runs rampant on my father’s side of the family, and I definitely am a carrier. I memorized this passage to remind myself I didn’t need to be worried or anxious. I could pray and God would ease my mind.

I have always read this passage and focused on what it told me not to do.

This passage never came to mind in a way that reminded me to rejoice or to be thankful. I don’t know why; it just didn’t. But after leading the adult Sunday school class through a lesson focused on celebration and solitude, I suddenly found new connections being formed in my brain between thankfulness and joy and hope and transformation.

If I am not thankful, I will not find joy in my life. Nor will I have a foundation for building trust and appreciation of God’s provision. And I will not have hope. And won’t be transformed.

That might seem awfully simple, but really, it’s a big, BIG deal. Think about Philippians 4: 4-7 above. I don’t know about you, but I do not rejoice and I am not thankful during most of the times that I am experiencing worry or anxiety. I may be able to calm myself into a strangely neutral emotional place, but that place is neutral. There is no movement; I’m just sitting and waiting and trying not to freak out.

It’s during those times that I am commanded to rejoice and be thankful. It’s not a suggestion. It’s also not an insensitive piece of advice from some shallow baby-boomer who’s led a fairly sheltered life with relatively few problems or who’s never had enough balls to really stare his/her problems in eye. The word thankful is also NOT being used as a synonym for ‘be grateful’ or ‘quit feeling sorry for yourself’. No. It’s a command written by a man who has experienced legit worry and suffering, on behalf of a God who is not full of crap. And they command the joy and thanksgiving because they know what they are talking about.

In those times, what I desperately need is for things to be different. Who gets anxious because they really, really want life to stay just as it is forever? What I want is transformation, but transformation cannot happen if it is not fueled at least in part by hope. I’ve got to believe it can happen. If I’ve gotten out of the habit of recognizing and remembering the awesome thing our God has done – sunsets, Cabernet, friends, whatever – I will have absolutely no reason to have any hope. If I am not thankful for what I see and hear and taste, I won’t notice it long enough to remember it. And the only way I’ll ever be thankful for anything is if I can freely experience it with joy.

When I worry, I don’t experience things with joy. I am also too busy creating plans a, b and c for solving whatever problem is at hand. I’ve got other important things to pay attention too, so I miss the joy and don’t see the sunsets and don’t believe that the same God that came up with my friends little baby came up with me.

It’s amazing, maybe even revolutionary to me. Thankfulness rooted in real joy breeds hope, and hope opens the door to transformation. Thankfulness changes me. Thankfulness, fueled by joy makes a difference unlike any difference ever made by a single plan I’ve made or any advice I’ve ever been given.

Thankfulness changes everything.

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Comments puh-lease.

Okay, so it’s been a few days, yet just one comment on the redesign. Thanks, Joe. Oh…I suppose my mother counts as another one. She didn’t leave a comment, but apparently showed my blog to every person in the southern half the of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.

Tangent…one goal for 51twelve in the coming months is to get all lurkers – my mother being the queen of them all – to leave a comment.

Anyway…I could use a little fodder now that I am trying to show up here on a regular basis again. I mostly have theological junk on my mind which isn’t always so easy or entertaining to write about. So…ask me a question. Toss me a meme. Something.

Also feel free to send me a different picture to use. I put my big ol’ face in the header as kind of a joke. My mother loves it. I definitely look like I’m searching, but I think I look kind of piratey too.

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Pearly Whites

Is it just me, or did all the American Idol contestants have the whitest teeth known to man?

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Come Just as You Are

Discovering that I could freely and frequently come before God just as I was – a disastrously imperfect perfectionist – was what ultimately convinced me that the whole following Christ gig was a worthwhile endeavor. Following Christ gave me the freedom to take rest from the battle I continuously fought between trying desperately to be good enough for anyone (God, parents, friends, coaches) and being fatalistically convinced that I should just screw it all because I’d never be good enough anyway.  Jesus steadied the wildly swinging pendulum in my heart and gave me permission to come just as I was. 

I go to worship on Sundays now knowing that I have arrived just as I am, a week’s worth of burdens crammed into my brain and pockets and purse.  I stand before a couple hundred people and tell them they are free to do the same.  Come just as they are.

The last several months have been, mildly put, a major spiritual journey for me.  I’ve arrived at the conclusion that while almost eight years ago I felt Jesus steady that erratic pendulum of my heart driven by some kind of warped perfectionism, my mind still swirls with the same ridiculous lies and I even pull the same crap that I did when the pendulum was swinging away. 

It absolutely kills me.  It pisses me off.  What’s my deal?

Well, I’m pretty sure my deal is that once Jesus convinced me I could come just as I am, I learned to love myself just as I am.  It’s a good thing to love myself.  My life is a whole different ball game because I do. 

But when I show up on Sundays and we sing, “Come just as you are to worship…,” I know I for one don’t always hear what I think Jesus may be saying in response. 

 But leave here different than you came.

I started loving myself just as I am, and got really good at naming, accepting and loving every inch of me that wasn’t quite right.  Too bad for me and others in my life that in my eagerness to embrace myself just as I am, I have neglected to spend much time loving myself into becoming someone more.  When it comes to transformation, I talk a great talk, but don’t seem to live it.  It’s almost as if Christ stopped the pendulum, but because there are areas in which I have failed to believe and respond to his work, the pendulum just dangles there half way in between.  I came just as I was and in many ways, I’ve stayed just as I was. 

So I’m challenging myself this week to make sure I call myself, my friends and those in my congregation to come the same BUT leave different.  When I find me loving myself despite my sin and trials, I’m going to keep on loving myself, but I’m going to try to pause and imagine what it might be like to love the transformed version of myself. 

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I am 10:02

I haven’t been the most diligent of bloggers and I still don’t have anything all that important to say, but I thought I’d start taking baby steps towards blogging like I mean it again. Figure a quiz that I spotted on Ellen‘s blog would be a decent place to start.

“You are breakfasty, like a pile of pancakes on a Sunday morning that have just the right amount of syrup, so every bite is sweet perfection and not a soppy mess. You are a glass of orange juice that’s cool, refreshing, and not overly pulpy. You are the time of day that’s just right for turning the pages of a newspaper, flipping through channels, or clicking around online to get a sense of how the world changed during the night. You don’t want to stumble sleepily through life, so you make a real effort to wake your brain up and get it thinking. You feel inspired to accomplish things (whether it’s checking something off your to-do list or changing the world), but there’s plenty of time for making things happen later in the day. First, pancakes.”

I’d say that’s a pretty good assessment.  Actually, I’m kind of into self-assessment right now.  I’m learning a lot about myself these days, mostly because I’ve got some pretty honest/hilarious folks in my life who say it like it is.  My roommate told me I was a Type-A the other day and I almost fell of the couch.  I’ve always thought I was an A-B fence rider who was probably more of a B.  After she explained her rational though, I could see her point.  She said that I don’t come off as super driven but once she started living with me and realized how much stuff I do in a day she realized that I was extremely driven.  That was a shocking compliment.  Don’t always think I’m very driven, but hey, if other people do…cool!

 My 10:02 self is increasingly unleashing her girlie-girl.  I got a manicure today.  Twice in a week I’ve put my hair in curlers just because I was bored and it sounded like fun.  I get excited about choosing my earrings every morning.  And I bought a purse today that involved both sparkly gems and butterflies.  Ha Ha Ha Ha.  Oh it makes me laugh.  Don’t worry though.  I still like my ball games and going for beers with the boys.  I just like to look a little cuter doing it.

 

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