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

-erwin mcmanus

Monday, September 24, 2012


There is a certain energy that comes from an excited crowd of people.  When a group of individuals comes together for a common purpose, whether it be a hobby or a cause, a common interest or to support an organization, passion stirs.

I recently went to a very large women's conference.  Women from across the country gathered and broke racial barriers, broke socio-economic barriers, and worshiped God together.  Somehow when that many women were gathered, all hungry for the Lord, it created an excitement that was contagious.  I couldn't help but jump and shout in worship, because the goodness of God became so radically apparent in the beauty of His creation by which I was surrounded.

On a seemingly (but not really... you'll see) unrelated note, I am a hopeless optimist.  I like to think the best of people, and find the spot of sunshine in even the most frustrating of situations.  I used to sing quietly into my little sister's ear when she was grumpy, "Gray skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face.  Take off that gloomy mask of tragedy, it's not your style.  You'll look so good that you'll be glad you decided to smile.."  It was so ridiculously happy that she couldn't help but grin and subsequently develop a more positive outlook on whatever the situation was.

One of the residents I work with mocks me for my "Well, at least it's warm, even though it's raining!" glass-half-full comments.  A girl I work with tells me that I need to stop and be more realistic, because everyone doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt.  She pretty consistently counters my positive with a cynical negative.  So I began to reevaluate this outlook that I've come to hold, and even try to find negative in situations.  It was unnatural and seemed to only bring the other person down.  So I stopped.  I remember a time when my unwavering belief in the goodness of people led me to be used and manipulated by someone who I cared for deeply.  While the way that I care has most certainly changed as a result, my belief in a person's best intentions remains.

A message at this conference specifically validated my instincts.  Hope must be the anchor of the soul.  No matter how much we waver, we should be inseparably linked to the Lord of hope - a God of second chances.  A God whose precise purpose in sending His Son was for our redemption, our made right-ness.  Why not look at the positive, see the possibility for redemption in the brokenness of our shattered lives?  Our God sees the perfection of His son in the place of our wicked and sinful hearts that long for everything but the one thing that redeems us.

I choose to see the should be and the could be, and figure out how to make it possible.  It makes for a much more hopeful existence than the melancholy sights of an Eeyore.  And in the spirit of children's literature, I'll leave you with a suitable quote from a childhood classic:

"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily. "If it is a good morning," he said. "Which I doubt," said he.
"Why, what's the matter?"
"Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it."
"Can't all what?" said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
"Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

fleet foxes - a fall favorite.

The cooling weather, the rain, the calming.. fall is certainly on its way!
Last week I made pumpkin bread.  Yesterday I got a butternut squash and a white acorn squash - I'm excited to pair the experience of autumn with its flavors.  Mm.. A cup of chai tea sounds so good with all of these fall spices and warmth!

This song has become an early fall favorite.  Enjoy :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

academia. and sexual health and healing.

Last week I had a campus visit at Covenant Seminary here in Saint Louis.  I had been considering entering their counseling program, so wanted to get a good overview of the campus and their classes before making a decision to continue the application process.

Stepping into a class called God and His Word followed by Introduction to Counseling, my mind lit up with excitement.  It has been nearly two years since I delved so deeply into the realm of ideas, of theory and academia in general.  I've missed it.  The professor explained the importance of the particulars in regard to the universal, and how we cannot possibly understand the universal apart from our experience of it.  It reminded me of Dr. Rim's philosophy course at Moody, but somehow this time I understood it on an idea level and then was able to bring to a practical, applicable level.  I guess what we learned in college is more valuable than it seemed.

That day at Covenant brought me to step back from the world of crisis management and deescalation, the very practical, tactical side of things.  Instead, I could look at the realm of ideas, the theories that explain our everyday experiences.  The conversations came from this depth as well - a kind of conversation that I haven't engaged with in a long time.  It differs from the normal, which is based so much on people and events, storytelling really, instead delving into the why.  It was incredibly refreshing.

This is one reason why I so desperately want to return to the academic world.

On a completely different note, my church began a new ongoing focus:  Sexual Health and Healing.  A topic rarely approached in the church in a non-condemning way, sex is one of the most widespread and profound ways in which Satan brings us to destruction.  It pervades our media, our humor, and can then so easily consume the body and mind.

Sexual immorality is a term so often used by preachers with a tone of judgment, but what is it really?  Anything that corrupts the picture of the perfect union of a married man and woman.  Anything.  In 1 Thessalonians 4, there is a concerned and protective warning about sexual immorality.  It's as if God is saying "I desperately want you to be with me and safe.  If you run in front of the car you will get hurt - I don't want that for you, daughter.  I love you enough to warn you that the temptation, the draw, is not worth it and it will separate you from me."

From a loving, gracious Father, he wants us to be in unbroken communion with him.  We cannot possibly have that if we at all indulge the images and ideas that defile his creation.  This is one of the reasons why God gave us the Holy Spirit - He helps us to look to holiness and hold God in a higher regard than we do our own pleasure.  The body and mind only do what the heart tells them to, so condition your heart.  Press into the Lord.

While all of that came only from the sermon this week, I find it interesting that the focus will continue.  This church sees the issue as one that can pervasively make or break a person, and therefore make or break the body of believers.  So many have either chosen sexual immorality or it has been forced upon them, that it will take a significant journey of healing to bring each and every one to wholeness again.  But that's the God we serve - He is able, there is healing, and there is nothing too big or too bad for my God.  The pastor is unafraid to speak boldly against something that he sees as the most destructive issue that remains untouched in most church circles, and to speak powerfully the restorative power of a God who raises people out of pits of destruction and despair.

I see a picture of a great spiritual revival  stirring up in this church, and it is so exciting to envision what God will do with a group of hundreds of people who live unashamed - healed and whole, on fire for the Lord!