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

-erwin mcmanus

Monday, February 28, 2011


Some old friends got married a few years back and are now separated.  He's in a new relationship, she's going out of the country.  While I only know what I know via Facebook, it breaks my heart.

When two people vow to be together forever, doesn't that mean forever?  Couples are so in love when they get married, and then what happens?  The difficulties of everyday life set in and they decide they would rather do it all without the support of the other?  Or maybe that somebody else can fulfill the role that you imagined the first person could until they failed at filling the idealized role of  the "perfect" spouse?  It just seems so wrong.  So sad.

This is not what we were created for.  This is not what we make covenants for.
Broken people mean broken relationships, I suppose.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

the hard stuff.

There are several books I read during my undergrad that I didn't, or possibly couldn't, appreciate for their full value at the time.  Perhaps I still can't, but I've started to go back and re-read them without the "I'm doing this simply to write a summary and get the points for it" attitude.

First on the list is Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright.

He writes (emphasis mine):
"There is a noble Christian tradition which takes evil so seriously that it warns against the temptation to 'solve' it in any obvious way.  If you offer an analysis of evil which leaves us saying, "Well, that's all right then; we now see how it happens and what to do about it," you have belittled the problem... For the Christian, the problem is how to understand and celebrate the goodness and God-givenness of creation and, at the same time, understand and face up to the reality and seriousness of evil."

The "hard" issues, Christians tend to brush off with phrases like "God is sovereign" or "I guess we'll just have to wait and find out in heaven," while some are left wrestling with these questions void of support from the Church.

If we make light of the hard stuff, for what did God give us a mental capacity?  (On a related note, another book on my reread list is Love the Lord Your God with All Your Mind by J.P. Moreland)  Given in the shema in Deuteronomy, even before the Ten Commandments were spoken for the first time, we are commanded to love the Lord with all our mind.  ALL our mind.  Not just for the easy stuff.  Not just for the day-to-day processing of events and conversations, but for the difficult, the hard to reconcile, the doubts, the questions, the wrestling.  God gives us permission to engage our minds:  to use our ability to reason, to research, to collaborate - all so that we can come to understand Him better, with the end goal of loving Him more.

Let us come together, engage our God-given intelligence, and have a grand collaboration of minds.  Let us not be afraid to ask questions, because no question is bigger than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The same God who parted the Red Sea, sent manna from heaven, healed people, walked on water, and redeemed His creation.

Have confidence in the One who made you.

(I apologize for a post that went far off course from its original intent, which was to say that a second reading is always deeper and more thorough than the first and I would recommend it.
Clearly I'm a wonderful blogger who plans out her posts and targets them to her audience and follows a pattern of posting.  Bah.  Hardly.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


If you constantly compete, compare, and complain, you will never truly enjoy life.

A message that we all need to be reminded of sometimes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

trust Him.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is in the Lord.

He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit."
      --Jeremiah 17:7-8

When we continue to trust in the Lord, even a dry spell won't phase us.  And not only trust in the Lord, but trust the Lord.  It's hard sometimes to trust that God can do what He says He can do, isn't it?  But if we do, even "in the year of drought" we will not cease to bear fruit.  What a beautiful promise.

We will see the outpouring of the Lord in our lives, be a light for His Kingdom, even if He seems distant.
Let us cling to Him - trust Him.

Monday, February 14, 2011


 We were not meant to be alone.

Even for Adam, in the perfect garden that God created as a paradise for His creation, it was not good for him to be alone.  God created Eve as a companion for him.

When my sporadic bouts of independence kick in, this idea of community goes out the window.  I think to myself, "I don't care if I don't see friends for a while, because, frankly, I can do this all on my own.  Me and God?  That's all I really need, and that's all I really want."

This time, it meant deciding to move several states away from everything I know.  While I know that this decision is not a poor one, as the experience will be challenging but worthwhile, it was heavily influenced by my desire to get away - to be independent.

As I find myself back in Green Bay for a few weeks, I constantly think about the friends and family I have here; I think about the ties I have to family friends, to churches, to organizations, to non-profits, to so many things.  As a result, this past week has been a cornucopia of memories made, conversations had, and love shared between old and new friends alike.  I haven't had this kind of community in quite some time, and I've so missed being with people in this way.  For better or for worse, by the time I moved out of my Chicago apartment, it seemed as if my relationships with my roommates weren't really friendships anymore, but just... well, we were just roommates.

Sad as it was, it made leaving Chicago much easier.  And it left me longing for consistent fellowship.  Being in this discipleship program will mean close quarters, intentional community, and conflict resolution, resulting in deeper relationships and deeper faith.  Is that not what community was created for?  To help us turn our faces back to Christ, to bring us into this holy community of believers, to encourage one another, to worship together in heart, mind, strength, and spirit.

I pray to have consistent fellowship someday - living life together, instead of living a year together, knowing that we will go our separate ways at the end of it.  I'm tired of living as a transient.  Something permanent would hold me down, force me to rely on other people, tame those bouts of independence, and, my goodness, would just give me some of that long-desired stability.

But now is not that time.  Come December or maybe the following June, perhaps it will come.  Sigh.  Isn't it sad that we always want what we don't have?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

music: an outlet for the soul.

I know I've posted about music before - particularly music as a means of emotional release.

But this time, well, it's something different.  For the past few months, I have found myself profoundly emotionally influenced by music.  When I hear a piece of music sung beautifully or pieced together well, regardless its lyrical content, I have to push back the tears.  This kind of beauty pricks a part of my heart that I didn't know was so sensitive, but I just can't help it.

I ran into an old friend a few months ago.  A music major, she talked about the difficulties of developing as a musician.  She said that it has been very hard to grow, because she has to work through so many things to improve her performance.  For example, why is she so afraid to play in front of the jury at the end of the semester?  It runs deeper than just nervousness, as it begs the question, "why do I care so much what others think of me?"

One's musical development is inextricably linked to one's spiritual development.

Perhaps I have come to recognize aesthetic qualities in the music that I had previously overlooked, causing a new appreciation.  Perhaps I am just in an emotional transition, which makes everything more personal.  Perhaps it is the wonder of God's creation coming together to combine talents and abilities to make sounds that so please Him that on His behalf, even His followers cannot contain themselves.

But what I do know is that I nearly cried at Daniel's Honors Band concert on Tuesday.  I nearly cried (several times) at his show choir competition on Saturday.  I even nearly cried during Kristen's 7/8th grade String Fling concert on Thursday.  And, I'm a little ashamed of this one, during the American Idol Hollywood Week performances.
Ay yi yi.

This could mean that I am just becoming more aware of God's goodness in the aesthetic.
Or I'm just emotional.
Maybe just a combination.
Hopefully I'm not just emotional.

And on that note, it's time to get some sleep.  Before I do, I want to leave you with a link to the website of Meredith Andrews.  Her music is similar to that of Sara Groves - beautiful.  I cried at her concert tonight, too - Go figure!  Anyway, check this out:  http://www.meredithandrews.com/

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

a space to call my own.

The past few days, I painted my bedroom at my parent's house.  Now it feels like I have a real place in this house again.

Back in August, my little sister and I switched bedrooms, since she would be the only kid living here after this summer when Daniel moves off to college.  So Kristen got the huge, cool bedroom over the garage, while I traded into the smallest one with butterflies, picket fences, and trees painted on a sky blue wall.  It's not a big deal, considering I only spend a few weeks here every year, but it just didn't feel like my own.

So when I figured out I would be spending February in Green Bay, my mom and I jumped on the opportunity to redo this room.  It has turned out beautifully - so close to the bedroom I've wanted for years now.

I have started unpacking the piles of boxes that are scattered throughout the house. but as I put things away, I just keep wishing that I wouldn't have to pack them away again.  Couldn't this room be my own bedroom in my own house?  When, if ever, will I own a home?  I want to do home projects: tiling floors, painting walls, decorating.  But right now, I am in no place to have my own home.  Not only have I lost a steady income, but I don't have a job to settle into, nor a home in which to settle.  I'm a restless transient who doesn't want to be a transient anymore.

Someday I know that I will settle down, preferably sooner rather than later.  For now, though, I need to be content with where God is bringing me.  Let this newly decorated bedroom be a reminder that someday I will be able to decorate not only a bedroom, but a whole home.  Let that day come quickly!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


The past few weeks, I have ached for liturgy.

It's refreshing to hear something in a prayer that isn't a whole lot of nothing stretched into ten-minute monologues that utilize dozens of Christian cliches simply because they are the first things that come to mind.  While liturgy is not solely prayers, but Scripture readings and teachings, it is structured, intentional, Scriptural - beautiful.

Now, don't get me wrong.  Personal prayer is very important.  In a relationship, spending time is crucial to the growth of said relationship, and the same goes with one's relationship to/with God.  Prayer is fundamental.

I'm just tired of hearing the same seemingly meaningless prayers over and over:

"God, bless the Smith family."  (What the heck do you mean by bless?  Do you even know what you're asking for?  Be specific and use Scripture to back up why you're asking for what you're asking.)

"Let your presence come fill this place as we worship you."  (The primary instances of God showing his presence in Scripture instilled great fear in the people.  The temple shook, the curtain tore, the people were terrified - Do you really know what you're asking for?  Because God filling a place doesn't necessarily mean pretty music making you feel all loved and warm and fuzzy inside.)

There are countless other examples, but you get the idea - We pray thoughtlessly using the Jesus-terminology we hear over and over.  I am no exception, which is why I've started a small collection of resources that help to deal with this problem.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

The Valley of Vision

A Puritan book of prayers, this collection helps one to better understand his place before the Lord, while praying Scripture and being reminded of God's attributes.

 Common Prayer

While this does come in book format, the website provides daily prayers, midday prayers, evening prayers, and occasional prayers.  Each selection has a short anecdote followed by Scripture readings and prayers.  When I don't know where to go for daily devotions, this is where I go.  Here is the website.

Homily Recap

This website is an extension of the church Grace Chicago.  I have attended here several times, and the liturgy is always, and I mean always, beautiful, praiseworthy, and honoring to God.  While this site is not the liturgy itself, it has weekly recaps of the homily.  These writings inspire deep thought and profound worship of our Savior.

That's all for now.
After shoveling a total of three hours of the last three days, my car was released from its hold in the deep.  Thanks to the help of my dad, brothers, and Mark, I'm back in Green Bay for a few weeks.  Let the cheesehead adventures continue - Go Pack!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


This blizzard has brought people together.

My drive home from downtown at the onset of a blizzard on Tuesday took an hour and a half.  Normally 20 minutes, the drive should have been awful.  Instead, it was relaxing.  People drove slowly, left gaps for people to merge in, didn't try to race through yellow lights.  I didn't hear a single honk the entire time - a rarity.  Drivers were actually considerate, slow, and calm, despite the crazy long time it took for anyone to get anywhere.

Yesterday morning, I bundled up and trekked through the snow to shovel out my car.  Not because I needed to use it (the roads at that point were impassable anyway), but because it needed to be done at some point.  There were dozens of people outside!  People walking their dogs; neighbors holding their shovels, standing in groups talking; others digging out vehicles; even a man snowblowing a walking path across an intersection - a necessity for public transit commuters!  There really is community in this neighborhood, even if it's invisible in the winter.

As for this apartment, well, it's in boxes.  Everything is packed save my clothes, and it feels great!  This move will be a good one, I'm sure of it. :)