Thursday, October 28, 2010

James 1:27

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."
James 1:27

Widows and orphans.
It seems like everywhere I turn I hear those words. We are to care for the widows and orphans. There is an abundance, at church, of foster children. Most of them have unfit parents, but looking at how hard their life is going to be in the future breaks my heart. Many of them are so young and the full extent of their situation isn't known to them. I have a passion for children, but especially for these children. The children that need so much love and attention.
One thing I know, currently, is that in the future I want to foster/adopt. It will be interesting to see how THAT plays out ;)
I recently heard an interview with Kay Warren, Rick Warren's wife. She was talking about the moment she felt God calling her into a ministry that would nurture and support the widows and orphans around the world. AND She did something. She started an organization within Saddleback Church to support orphans.
So my challenge to you is to do something.
What are you passionate about? What bothers you?
Do something about it.

Check out all of the things Kay is involved in here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

When I Get to Heaven....

Angel swingingFirst of all, what a weird picture, right? I mean, when I saw it, I just had to use it because when in the world would you ever think to yourself, "Man, I just wish I had a blurry picture of an angel with humongous wings swinging!"
Anyway, I think about heaven a bunch, and not necessarily in a completely theologically accurate way. Loggins has told me that she thinks she'll be Latina when she gets to heaven, which is a possibility. I'll attend the gospel church service and maybe join the awesome choir since I plan on having a voice like Mandisa.
I will have a lot of stuff to do and a lot of people to talk to when I get to heaven, because basically anytime I've ever read anything in the Bible and been like, "Why did Peter do that?" or "What do you think Jesus wrote on the ground?" my mom's answer was always, "You can ask him when you get to heaven."
But here's the deal:
I think some of those guys will be totally approachable... like the disciples. But... can you imagine trying to talk to David? I mean, he's possibly my favorite guy in the entire Bible, and I actively try to tell people that they're having David moments no-matter-what-they're-going-through. But... I cannot fathom walking up to him and being like, "Hey Dave! So listen... ten years in that cave, right? Pretty tough!"
I mean, the Bible constantly reminds us what ruffians the disciples were, so I imagine James and John to be like actual sons of thunder - you know - like Pigpen and the Tasmanian Devil all wrapped up into one blur of mischief. Nathanael, a man after my own heart, put his foot in his mouth as soon as he even heard of Jesus, so he's probably my go-to-guy when I get to heaven. And Paul had a lot of experience of talking to people who get it wrong all the time, so I think I'll be cool with him. I mean... I think he'll be patient, you know?
But Stephen? oh my gosh.... Ezekial??
Esther might be cool with me... but Job??!!

It's a little intimidating.

Who would be your first person to stop and talk to in heaven, if it worked that way?
(and... it most likely doesn't.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Your Love is a Metaphor

Well, just take a minute and enjoy the beauty displayed above and below before I embark on this post.
okay, ready?
So, I have a friend whose love language is coupons. Definitely. And after thinking about it, I've decided that my love language is metaphors. I can't speak without them. I probably sound like a crazy person half the time, but they're the best desciptors (not a word, but it should be)!
I think that's why I love music and lyrics so much. House of Heroes lyrics are ridiculous and intelligent. I'm talking get-out-the-dictionary-and-look-stuff-up smarts. Oh, Sent by Ravens' lyrics speak to my heart. Muse is in another universe (meant in the best way possible).
And then there's Switchfoot. 
You know how you hear a song, and you're like, "Wait... how does that person know what I'm going through? Have they been reading my diary?"
I listened to a lot of Switchfoot when I did my big Australia ... trip? adventure? life? several years ago. I accidentally messed up while loading songs on my mp3 player, so the only songs I had were Switchfoot's The Beautiful Letdown and the 40 Acres album by Caedmon's Call. Four months of travel and homesickness ... yeah - they got a lot of play (and some tears, and some dark poetry as I am wont to do).
Jennie and I get on a Switchfoot craze every few... weeks. It happens pretty often. I've only been to one Switchfoot concert, but it quickly cemented my love of the band and the Foreman brothers. 
There's the awesome live performance (see them cover Beastie Boys' Sabotage here), there's the dimples (see above and below, please) and then there are the lyrics. What's not to love?
After reading basically everything I can get my hands on regarding the meaning behind the songs on their most recent release, Hello Hurricane, I'm convinced Jon Foreman is 1) a musical genius, and 2) a musical genius.
I love every song on the latest release at different times for different reasons, but for right now, my favorites are Your Love is a Song, and Free. Check 'em out. And read about the meaning of the songs. You'll be blown away.
So the metaphors for God's love in Your Love is a Song are: symphony, melody, song, remedy, strong ... I can't remember if there are others. What would you write?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Catalyst 2010

I recently attended Catalyst 2010: the tension is good. There were several amazing speakers with pearls of wisdom for the 13,000 eager leaders. Several of the speakers stood out to me and some just went WAY over my head. The intellectual presenters were tough to connect with but I was still able to learn from a few of them.
Daniel Pink, author of Drive, challenged each leader to define themselves in a single sentence. What a challenge! I have been thinking about my sentence, what sentence sums up ME.
How do you sum up your whole self in ONE sentence?
I had a jumping off point, something I have been feeling for the past few years as I have rebuilt from the inside out.
Beautifully Broken.
I knew I wanted to incorporate the idea of brokenness in my sentence.
After much thought, I have come up with:
I am rescued and redeemed from my brokenness by the blood of Jesus.

What is your sentence?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Like Cannons in the Night

I have had a week. And it's still happening.
So here's what I do when I get completely downtrodden because I am feeling pretty crapped on this week.
I listen to a song that will lift my spirits and remind me of my identity -- that I was created for a purpose other than my pointless job. There are things in this universe and actions that will have lasting, eternal effects and the things I stress me out, or frustrate me don't fall into that category.
And since I've felt ... hmmmm... not sure what, but I've felt something this week, here are the lyrics and video to the song that is lifting me up right now:

It's falling from the clouds
A strange and lovely sound
I hear it in the thunder and rain
It's ringing in the skies
Like cannons in the night
The music of the universe plays

Singin' You are holy, great and mighty
The moon and the stars declare who You are
I'm so unworthy, but still You love me
Forever my heart will sing of how great You are

Beautiful and free
Song of Galaxies
Reaching far beyond the Milky Way
Lets join in with the sound
C'mon let's sing it loud
As the music of the universe plays

All glory, honor, power is Yours, amen!
All glory, honor, power is Yours, amen!
All glory, honor, power is Yours forever, amen!

Lightning is an atmospheric discharge of electricity accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms. There are approximately 16 million lightning storms in the world every year. 

Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed:

   Blessed is he who comes,
      the king in God's name!
   All's well in heaven!
      Glory in the high places!

Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, "Teacher, get your disciples under control!"
But he said, "If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise." 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stars in Our Eyes

I wrote this to Jennie today:
ok. I don't know if I think Roger Federer is stinking hot because I think he's stinking HOT or because he's an awesome tennis player and has a lovely accent and charming personality. Either way: Greek God.
...because yet another beautiful picture came up in my facebook feed. I was watching the US Open a few weeks ago, and the network showed some slow-motion special camera shot thingy to show how Federer never takes his eyes off the ball as he hits it, and basically it ended up looking like a still picture of Federer slowly moving across the screen, his head and eyes never moving. One of the commentators echoed the bursting of my heart by shouting out, "He's a Greek God!"
But the question of beauty (or attraction) coming with fame is not necessarily an original concern. An episode of The Office tackled this same issue with Hilary Swank: beautiful? or beautiful because she's famous?
Let's take a look:
Sept. 15, 2010 - Toronto, ON, Canada - Hilary Swank at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival premiere of 'Conviction. © Red Carpet Pictures 
Yeah, I'm gonna go with just plain beautiful.

See Federer in all his glory for yourself:
Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a forehand in his 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 defeat to Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the Mens Semifinal at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City on September 11, 2010. UPI/John Angelillo Photo via Newscom
And that's while he's hitting a tennis ball in an actual match!

Here's what I tend to look like while I'm mid-hit:
Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot against Dmitry Tursunov of Russia during the Japan Open tennis championships in Tokyo October 8, 2010. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao (JAPAN - Tags: SPORT TENNIS) 
(Rafa is amazing, and also a favorite player of mine, but he's no Roger Federer. I definitely, however, have a little bit of Ricky Ricardo syndrome when I listen to Rafa's interviews.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cheaters Never Prosper... And Also Don't Get Invited to Play

Boy (4-6) wearing policeman's hat, arms folded, portrait
When I was younger, I heard my sister refer to me as "the police". This was in reference to playing games. My family loves playing games. Anything that is loud and fun and involves yelling is a perfect game for my family. They really like cards, too, but I'm not so crazy about cards because I don't have a strategy-making mind for that.
But I am severely and stringently opposed to any kind of cheating or "bending of the rules." It's really difficult for me to play with new people, or to play a game that a lot of people don't know, because sometimes the host of the game will be very laid-back and think, "Well, we'll just teach a few of the rules and see how it goes..." or, "Let's just let that rule slide for now because it's too complicated."
That's not how I play.
I like knowing the rules, playing by the rules, and most of all, I like enforcing the rules. Hence, my sister calling me "the police" when we were playing a game. It might have been Taboo, a game that has a rich history amongst my family and friends of causing fights and creating friendships.
So, if you ever play a game with me (and if you know me, you will probably play a game with me, since I love to play games), just, uh, ... keep this in mind. Play by the rules... and no one gets hurt.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy Banned Books Week!

We are nearing the end of Banned Books Week - September 25 to October 2, 2010! To celebrate, I checked out a few lists of banned/challenged books through the years. First is a list of the top banned/challenged books of this decade. And next, a list of banned/challenged classics.

So, I'm not going to go all crazy and "freedom of expression" on everyone in this post, even though I think banning books is ... dumb. But I will say this: I was really surprised by a lot of the books on those lists. I know that books can be banned or challenged for so many different reasons, and it could even come down to one word in the book, but Charlotte's Web? Bridge to Terabithia? Winnie-the-Pooh??
I'm happy to say that my parents never restricted my reading. I read everything I ever wanted to. I read young adult books that had no literary standing at all, but were just about gossip and sex and nothing. I read classics that changed my life. And guess what: the classics are the ones on the lists, but not the dumb young adult stuff that probably flew so below the radar that no one ever took notice of it.
The books on the banned/challenged lists were definitely the most influential books I've read (Rebecca, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Chocolate War, The Kite Runner, The Catcher in the Rye (one of the funniest and best books I've ever read -- over and over) A Prayer for Owen Meany) and I'd go so far as saying they are some of the most influential books of all time. They're not lying when they say that at least 46 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been the target of ban attempts.
I feel like that was a list of my favorite books instead of books I've loved that have been challenged.

Take a look at the reasons for the ban/challenge and guess the book. Seriously, try it:

1. Challenged in the Vernon Verona Sherill, NY School District (1980) as a "filthy, trashy novel."

To Kill a Mockingbird! You know, that ol' trashy novel about a girl, her brother and her hero father fighting an ethical fight in a time and place of racial inequality.

2. Removed from the school libraries in Morris, Manitoba (1982) along with two other books because they violate the committee's guidelines covering "excess vulgar language, sexual scenes, things concerning moral issues, excessive violence, and anything dealing with the occult."

Catcher in the Rye! Hmmmmm... perhaps I read a different book. Occult? Holden Caulfield would have had something sarcastic to say about that.

3. Challenged at the Owen, NC High School (1981) because the book is "demoralizing inasmuch as it implies that man is little more than an animal"

Lord of the Flies! Uh, yes, the "implication" that the challenger understood was ... kind of the point.

4. Well, this one kind of gives it away, but:
Challenged as a summer youth program reading assignment in Chattanooga, TN (1989) because "Steinbeck is known to have had an anti business attitude:" In addition, "he was very questionable as to his patriotism"

Of Mice and Men! Let me add that a chapter of the KKK of my very own town challenged this book back in '77, and that's about all the endorsement I need to read a book. Thanks for the recommendation!
Latest update was 2007: Retained in the Olathe, KS Ninth grade curriculum (2007) despite a parent calling the novel a “worthless, profanity-riddled book” which is “derogatory towards African Americans, women, and the developmentally disabled.”  This really makes me wonder if the people complaining finished the books. Or... you know... if you don't get it, then read the Cliff's Notes. It might explain to you the history of our country, how people behaved, and literary methods of making a point about the need for change.

5. Burned in Alamagordo, NM (2001) outside Christ Community Church along with other Tolkien novels as satanic.

Lord of the Rings! You know, the satanic version.

Quiz is over. How did you do? Now, go read a book!