"dream great dreams and find the courage to live them"

-erwin mcmanus

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Despite the joy of the holiday season (and the onslaught of the awful red and green color combination) the past week has been difficult.  My family and I just spent a day and a half in North Dakota, with a 12-hour drive on either end of it.  In fact, as I write this, I am in Fargo, North Dakota at a hotel for the night, ready to finish the drive at the crack of dawn.

Trips to see Grandma and Grandpa Forsman were always exciting.  We looked forward to running out in the woods and "driving" the tractors on the farm.  Climbing the hay bales in the barn and playing checkers were staples of our visits.  Then they moved into town (a small town, but a town nonetheless).  Well, then we looked forward to playing Scrabble as our vocabularies grew and our strategy developed.  We would play croquet in the front yard and watch the squirrels in the back.  Grandpa would let us shoot his BB guns and Grandma would make her famous wheat buns.  We would sit around the breakfast table eating cookies dipped in coffee (an apparently Swedish tradition?) and listening to Grandpa's stories.

This visit was not quite so wonderful.  Ever since Grandpa's stroke in March, visits have been a sad reminder of how short life is; of how quickly one's situation can change.  Living in a nursing home now, Grandpa in the regular section and Grandma in the Alzheimer's unit, we have to sell their house.  This was the final walk-through, pick-up, and "find all the sentimental or precious items to keep" trip before the mid-January auction and closing date.

There were so many memories held in those closets.  Boxes full of bags full of old cards, letters, and pictures from as far back as the early 1900s - so much life enclosed in those precious items.

It was difficult to leave the house, knowing that I will never again enter.  Visits will be much different now - staying at the local motel with occasional visits to the nursing home so as not to overwhelm Grandma and Grandpa.  No more Swedish breakfasts, many more tears, and a much harder time leaving, knowing that there may not be another visit.  Sigh.  Such is life..

On a lighter note, we found some of Grandma's old glasses.  And they're back in style!  A short photo shoot ensued.

Within the next couple days, I want to post more thoughts on aging - Here's a reminder to myself  :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

the Messiah.

As the season of Advent continues, I am continually reminded of the importance of this season, and the incredible gift Jesus was and is to this world.

Last night, I saw the Apollo Chorus perform Handel's Messiah.  While I have heard the Hallelujah chorus countless times, I had never heard the masterpiece in its entirety.  Handel wrote the music to the Messiah after Charles Jennens had completed a "libretto" of beautifully interwoven passages of Scripture to celebrate the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ.

Leonard Van Camp described the three parts of Messiah as follows:
I.  Prophecy and Promise of the Redeemer
II.  The Suffering Lamb who Redeems
III.  Thanksgiving for the Defeat of Death

This compilation of verses is extensive and includes scores of prophetic passages as well as the fulfillment of those prophecies from the New Testament, presenting a complete story of Christ's .  A stunning combination of words and music, choral and instrumental parts, and the most incredible lyrics (as expected, considering they come straight from the Bible).

It was phenomenal.  Go see a performance of Handel's Messiah if you ever have a chance.

On a related note, the pastor at my church has been preaching a short series called Rediscovering Christmas.  Last week the sermon focused on the historical context of Jesus' birth.  The reason Caesar Augustus is specifically mentioned in Luke 2, is because he is a significant part of the day's culture.  Caesar Augustus was a tyrant who brought what the Romans called "peace" by ravaging scores of villages.  He killed thousands, enslaved many more, and wrought fear in all the rest.  He expanded his empire by paying his military to rebuild the infrastructure and he paid them by taxing the population.  He called this particular census in order to count the people in his empire so that he could tax them.  Caesar demanded their loyalty by enforcing titles such as "Savior", "Son of God", and "Redeemer."  Do those sound familiar?

The people in Israel were terrified of the Romans.  They sought, waited, and hoped for someone to save them from this empire.  When Mary, in her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), says, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" (vv. 46-47), she does not just recognize Jesus as Lord and Savior.  No, Mary basically says, "Screw you, Caesar.  God is the one who will have the last word, not you!"  Her statement was radical.

Jesus was not just a meek and mild child in a stable.  No.  He was the living, breathing flesh of God!  He came into the REAL world to deal with REAL problems, not to help us escape this world to get to heaven.

Let us rejoice in this truth. :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

boring and sterile.

And THIS is why I love the city:

"Why do people move to suburbia?  To have kids!  So no wonder it seemed boring and sterile.  The whole place was a giant nursery, an artificial town created explicitly for the purpose of breeding children."

The article from which this came, however, is nothing about suburbia, save for a few sentences mid-argument.  Instead, the article is entitled "Why Nerds are Unpopular" and brings incredible insight into teen society.  Check it out!

(Quote taken from an article to which I was guided by Peter Hedlund.  Thank you, friend!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"do you not trust me?"

Through the last couple months of indecision and uncertainty (that nearly killed my soul), the resounding lesson was: "Do you not remember what I have brought you through?  Do you not trust me?"

Only when I remembered that I am here for a purpose, God has not forgotten, and I don't need to worry so much - did something like this fall into my lap.

Discipleship/mentorship has always had my heart.  Hurting teens have grasped my time and energy in countless situations, and I would love for it to be a part of my life.  The hard part is that I don't feel ready (whatever that means..) to go into a specific profession at this point.

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail as a response to an inquiry I had sent to a particular residential treatment facility.  The response, however, was from an organization I had never heard of, but apparently works in conjunction with this facility.  A one-year, paid program in which I receive one-on-one mentorship, live in a tight community of other people who love Jesus too, live with hurting teens who are grasping for the Lord, and gain some experience in the field that I think I want to pursue?  God must have orchestrated this, for there is no other way.

After an interview process, I am officially accepted to this program.  The first week of March, I will be moving to Kansas City, Missouri to do a program called Doulos Discipleship.  Check out their website to learn more about who that are and what they do.  You won't regret it. :)

Let us raise a glass to taking this next step.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I find myself far too emotionally invested in these little throw-the-ball-knock-em-down Packer games.  How did this loyalty to a team build up this much?  My neighbors must think I'm crazy, with all the yelling going on up here.

At least I don't have a Packer shrine like this:  (If I did, I would need you to put me in check, okay?)

Saturday, December 4, 2010


The first real snow of the season :)

I love untouched blankets of snow.  The first person out on my street this morning, I had the privilege of making the first marks on the white ground.  It was lovely :)

When I got to my car, instead of finding a nice, white layer of snow covering it, I found a gray, sloppy, slush.  Unfortunately, parking around the corner from my apartment is just next to/below the interstate and makes for ugly, polluted snow.  Bummer.

And to the girl sitting behind me at the Peter Mulvey concert last night:

His music does not need a drum accompaniment.
Your feet are not drum sticks.
My chair legs are not drums.
Please do not use them as such.

Friday, December 3, 2010

a season of anticipation.

Until this year, I never really knew what Advent was.  Growing up in church, we would have people light the candles of the Advent wreath each Sunday leading up to Christmas, but it was merely a tradition.  I was never shown, nor did I explore or come to understand, the importance of this season.  This year, however, I have several people in my life who have been talking about Advent, and it brought with it a new appreciation of the candle-lighting ceremonies of my childhood.

Advent is "a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas."  While this time is meant to commemorate the season of waiting before the Messiah came, it also celebrates the period of waiting for the Second Coming of Christ.

Expectant waiting - Anticipation of what is to come.  The kind of excitement and joy that builds up until finally, the day comes when we celebrate the birth of our Savior.  An entire season to celebrate waiting?  When we wait in long lines, we sigh because it takes so long.  When we have to wait a long time for someone, we get frustrated because they haven't come on time.  Yet, every year, we celebrate waiting and the anticipation of what is to come.  Let this reign over your perspective when faced with extraordinarily awful traffic - let the expectation of what is to come help you through it.

Preparation - What does it mean to prepare for Christmas, aside from our American consumeristic notions of gift-buying and candy-making?  Having an advent wreath as a visible reminder and reading Bible passages about the coming Messiah (Isaiah would be a good start) are good ways to prepare your heart and mind for Christmas.

This December is different than most, as the focus is no longer on the gifts, the cookies, the decorations, or even the peppermint white mochas (with less flavoring and extra espresso, of course :)).  Instead, let this be a time to reflect upon the birth of the One who gave us life - a true remembrance and act of thanks for this precious gift.  Let us not forget the origin of this warm and cheery holiday.

Side notes:
Gordon Conwell sends out a daily Advent devotional e-mail.  Sign up here.

I also follow this blog, in which the author will make weekly posts this month about the Advent season.  Check it out!