Monday, December 28, 2009

Jemglyn to Break Silence

Remember Jemglyn, the spider ? Well, she has finally divulged to the narrator the next installment. So, when time and wakefulness allow, I'll let you in on it. And now I think I'll succumb to the looming hypnogogic state... after the prerequisite pilgrimage downstairs for a drink of milk.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jesus

This Christmas season, I've been asking Jesus what it really means that He came to earth. I know, I've been told since I can remember that He came because He loves us... to die for us... but several interactions with people lately make those reasons sound a bit flat to my own ears. I am on a journey of re-discovery, and perhaps I am about to enter the Kingdom of the One who simply tells us, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind... and your neighbor as yourself."

I wonder if anyone ever had to tell Mary to love her Lord with all her heart, soul, strength, and mind. She carried Him in her body for nine months. He was as near to her as her own heart. All her physical and emotional strengths were bent toward bringing Him to earth in human form, even as she wondered at the mystery of Immanuel, God... with her. Is this what it means for us to love Him as well?

In loving my neighbor as myself, do I actually engage in Jesus' ministry of reconciliation? The angels who announced the advent of the King of Kings didn't intend their message of peace on earth to dissipate in the Bethlehem night air.  Unless it compels us to befriend and engage living, breathing people who need forgiveness and love as much as we do (but are more honest about it), the God who is glorified by justice ["care"] served to the broken is only glorified by our annual singing. Weak incense. From where did the church learn that it is more Christian to hurt those who hurt others than it is to forgive them? The news coverage of the "balloon boy hoax" intrigued me, particularly a profound and shocking comment made by Mr. Heene's attorney:

"That's where this society has come; vengeance and justice are one and the same in the minds of many people." -David Lane

I would add that the vengeance=justice ideology is made more lethal when coupled with religion... one reason being that people can act almost without reason when they believe their actions are sanctioned... another being that the Jesus who raised eyebrows by talking to (and going home for lunch with!) outright sinners and forgiving people convicted of crimes deserving of death is portrayed as a carbon copy of the Pharisees He rebuked. Maybe it seems pointless to decide how the Heenes' case should have been handled, but the fact remains that the views we form shape us... and increase or decrease our love for the people around us who might be annoying, disruptive, and even destructive. Kinda like the rest of us, you know?

This evening, for Bible Study, my youth group carried candles to an inn where we were told there was no room for us... and on to a bitterly cold stable to worship the One who came to be with people just like us... in the company of goats that pee and horses that chew on clothing. I was overwhelmed by the how deeply the Father loves His delinquent kids, how lost this delinquent kid would be without Him, and how much this delinquent kid wants to love her Father with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength... and her neighbor as herself.

"Kyrie", a Christmas confession by Jonny Baker

Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy

Holy God, accept our confession. You asked for all of our being - our thoughts and actions, our creativity and expression. What do we give you? We think back two millennia to when the Christ child was born. What would we give the baby? What does the baby ask of us? What gifts did the baby receive?

Gold - a gift for a king. A metal so precious that we have died and killed for it. We treat your creation like it wasn't our home. We've robbed the earth of its riches and left its wounds open to infection. Forgive us for not unwrapping your gift to us in the right spirit. Forgive us for not giving you the best of us. What's the point of giving you our religious bits if the rest is kept closely guarded?

Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy

Frankincense - a gift for God. The fragrance of worship. God's eau de cologne. Worship - giving God the honor that is due to him. We saw your creation as a dirty thing, that we had to manufacture souls for heaven. Forgive our efforts to worship you only when it's convenient to do so and with the people that we choose - making outcasts of our brothers and sisters. Forgive us when our actions make our words of worship meaningless.

Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy

Myrrh - a gift for a mortal. The smell of a cover up to hide death and decay. But nothings is hid from you. Forgive us for denying the reality of pain, suffering, and struggle. Do we get angry and shout at God, or do we bury our pain? Forgive us for not giving our pain and suffering to you and for not interceding for others.

Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy

You ask for all that we are. What do we give? May we take seriously the meaning of your birth and your cross. Amen.

Happy Birthday, Jesus. I love you.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

marketing peace

Sometimes CNN has some truly superb stuff. I never heard of Randy Ruiz before, but he's pretty profound. I wish I had his authority over a pen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lunch-break ponderings

While packing orders this morning, I had an epiphany.

A box, ready to be shipped, is just how I want it. I've selected the very best of the products the customer ordered. I pack it carefully, taking care that at least two inches of packing peanuts protect the product on all sides. Even the tape securing the box and the labels directing it to its destination are placed with care. The cardboard box is clean and smooth. Aesthetic and quality... that's what I want for my customers.

Some of my customers are as far away as California and New Mexico. As the box takes its FedEx journey, it is handled by many people. It's loaded onto trucks and unloaded in warehouses. Neither trucks nor warehouses are devoid of gray machinery dust. I've been impressed with the care with which FedEx handles packages, but, nevertheless, the packages are handled... and the box starts to bear witness to the fact. The corrugate shows, indented, through the once-smooth cardboard. The neat white label is scuffed with gray. Whether jostled en route or accidentally dropped, occasionally the contents of the box break. One customer opened her box to find the packing peanuts a solid, sticky blob, and the jars that had contained the honey she ordered were interspersed in shards throughout the mess. The box contained everything I sent her, but it was most definitely not what I wanted her to receive. What is her view of me and the company I represent? How will she view the FedEx workers?

The God who has been coming to man since He first created Adam must feel the same way. His message of love, His instructions for living, are delivered by... and understood by... people. Though we might try to observe the "handle with care" instructions, the contents and packaging undoubtedly endure jostling and scuffing. Sometimes, left with sticky pieces, we try to understand what in the world God sent us. It takes a certain amount of faith to trust God's good intentions toward us as we sort through the contents, trying to identify and comprehend.

Learning to allow for, and even embrace the impaired vision of humanity toward God can be exciting. It's mysterious. It adds to the beauty. It leaves more to be discovered of this God who still comes to us.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bob Marley, on politics

"Dem's a play with people's minds. Shouldn't play with people's minds."

I love how loosely Marley holds things so many revere. Granted, that was pretty much his philosophy on life. He also said, "I handle fame by not being famous. I'm not famous to me." It just tickles me.

Are politics simply mind games? Words on flat paper. Intangible laws. Hope in remote people. They do seem transient and extraneous next to the nine-year-old girl I know whose dad is in jail for violence and whose life is devoid of any security whatsoever. She told me a few weeks ago she might be placed in a group home, even further from the people from whom she really needs love. Would her circumstances be different if a Republican were in office?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

All I want for Christmas

"All My Tears"

When I go, don't cry for me
In my Father's arms I'll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I'll be whole.
Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus' face
And I will not be ashamed
For my Savior knows my name.

It don't matter where you bury me,
I'll be home and I'll be free.
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.

Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven's store,
Come and drink, and thirst no more

It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

So, weep not for me my friends,
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to Him
Who will raise the dead again.

It don't matter where you bury me,
I'll be home and I'll be free.
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.

-Jars of Clay

As Christmas approaches, my heart finds a voice in the cries of  the Roman-enslaved Israelis so long ago... "We need a Saviour!" Jesus, isn't it about time You showed up again? The flickers of light in this world sometimes seem engulfed by the darkness that enslaves so many. How much longer can the planet bear so much suffering? All I want for Christmas is for You to come, to place Your scarred hands on our heads, and to heal us. All I want is to sit with You and be able to see You as I talk to You. Living here wears me out, body and soul.

But Jesus tells me, "I have come, and I am here. You are part of my Presence, so keep at it. The lights aren't as wavering as they seem from ground level. They are spreading, and soon I'll engulf them in my Light."

For the record... if I die before then, please spare the expense of an ornate casket. Send the money to Uganda. Better yet, take the money and go to Uganda yourself. Take light and healing with you.

Just sayin'.

Monday, November 30, 2009

it's Christmas time in the city

I love the way the city looks right now... whole streets lit up with twinkly lights. Even better than the beautiful, tasteful displays downtown, I love the lights on my street.

Colorful, unexpected, and hard to capture

especially with a camera that barely focuses held by shivering hands... but the option of taking advantage of those conditions always remains...

before I head into my warm abode...

As usual, this Christmas, I'm praying for the coming of the Prince of Peace to the hearts of the people I know and love... and to the hearts of the people I don't know and too often overlook.

If there is to be peace in the world,

There must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,

There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors,

There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,

There must be peace in the heart.

Lao Tzu

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving in retrospect

I spent Thanksgiving at my parents' house. Kelsey woke me by talking through the door and shoving little gift offerings under it. After getting a grunted invitation to enter, she and Lori piled in with me. Dinner was great. Candied yams, turkey, Mom's homemade rolls, pumpkin pie, and everything. My dear dad asked for my keys to "move my car", and returned later informing me he'd washed it. Carol, Lori, Kelsey, and I sprawled out on the living room floor and played Sorry and Candyland.

I love the holidays. The festivities, the traditions.

Holidays also gross me out. In the global scope, our festive meals look like gluttonous orgies. Is bingeing a celebration of thankfulness? In retelling the story of the Pilgrims' arrival, I fear we've made the story into little more than a first triumph of the white man in subjecting this continent and its inhabitants to his greed. Because America was meant to be, was given by God for the purpose of Progress, you understand. (Progress toward what, I've never learned.) Alright, please forgive the sarcasm.

So, what to do?

Could we learn to drop the commercialized facade enough to reclaim the meaning of the holidays? I do believe God wants us to enjoy His creation, but can we do that in moderation, with a focus on helping those less fortunate?

Maybe we also need to learn to tell the right stories, stories that open our children's eyes to the humanity of the people around them... and in history. Stories are shaping to the heart, especially the hearts of children. You might need to dig around a bit until you find flip side stories from those taught in curriculums that extol selfishness to heights of glory, but,
"Remember that history isn't what happened; it is what is remembered... by the victors." -Unknown

I love to see holidays celebrated in ways that bring families truly closer and leave, not the emptiness that follows self-indulgence, but hearts enlarged to contain all of humanity... and the Kingdom brought, the Kingdom of One who looks at the earth and doesn't see boundaries.

With that, I bid you adeiu and proceed to enjoy a long winter's nap... but not before leaving you with the greatest comic I ever did see:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

more sistas

Oh, mercy. I finally have these pictures edited, two months after I took them. I introduced my four youngest sisters in an earlier post and posted Eldon & Rosey's engagement pictures, but I don't think most of you have ever met my only older sister, Abby.
Rosey, Candace, and Abby

A Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

formation of a dream

lucid in her granite robe
which sinks into
prismatic train

cherishing the vital roots
of manifold life
unaware in slumber

sterling lips to
face of soil
both warmed at
their meeting

my heart pulsated
it understood
and dared dream
the untenable

Friday, November 20, 2009

Excuse me, have we met?

While filling shipping orders, I habitually buzz around the store in high gear. None of the aisle intersections are equipped with traffic lights or mirrors. You're left to your own devices (or lack thereof).

At the intersection of Little Barn Noodles and Sugarfree Candies, I came face-to-face with a grizzled man who was moving just as fast as I was.

"Excuse me!" was said simultaneously.

I said it because I had nearly collided with him.

He said it because he had just given utterance to an extended guttural belch.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

[i like my friends]

The girls in my youth group are mad awesome. Goopy herbal hair masks, french pedicures, lots of laughter, reading Tolkien aloud, just being together, figuring out how to spell "awkward" (it's ok, Andrea... any word looks misspelled at 4 a.m.), last weekend was blissful.

The less-than-blissful part was realizing that I hadn't yet recovered from alleged swine flu. So, while I moaned and muttered incoherently, they brought me juice, made me drink water, and rubbed feverish me with a relaxing lotion that felt ah-MA-zing. Like I said, those girls are mad awesome.

Yesterday, a self-proclaimed "odd card" arrived from this thweetie

who never fails to make me laugh, encourage, and challenge me... usually all at once. :)

And, tonight, after IMing with both of these lovelies

I said to myself, said I, "I like my friends."

"God does care for us and watch over us, but it's usually through other people that He meets our needs." -Unknown

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

American Jesus

I saw a picture that made me shudder. Jesus, coming through the clouds, returning to earth. The skirt of His robe was an American flag.

To the precious few of us already sitting pretty enough to gripe about taxes, gas prices, and the economy, this image might make our blood run red, white, and blue. We're convinced that the reign of Jesus will mean abundant riches, final annihilation of terrorists, and great reward for all those who have killed and died for the holy cause of democracy.

To the rest of the world's populace, this image might make their blood turn hot and cold with terror and hatred. To them, the American flag (and the Jesus so closely associated with it) either precedes or follows a wake of tanks, snipers, death, and hunger. The return of Jesus could only mean a final triumph of power, ready to starve the hungry, kill the bleeding, and reward the rich.

I marvel at a God who condescends to be so grossly misrepresented by the ones He loved until death. Don't "normal" gods strike in anger when mere mortals tout lies in their names?

Matthew 5

The Sermon on the Mount; The Beatitudes
 1When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.  2He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
 3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
 5"Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
 6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
 7"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
 8"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
 9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
 10"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 11"Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
 12"Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


she's all of 12
and says she's 14
she's got a fight
at school tomorrow

she says she's not scared
she says she doesn't care
if she gets hurt
is sent to juvy

she doesn't know that
her eyes betray
she's just a little girl
to find security

she wants to know she's heard
and know she's loved
and told she doesn't
to be so strong

i tell her she's too precious
to mess herself up like dat
i know she's
despite ignoring me

she's desperately hungry
God, be WITH her!
keep her closer to
Your heart
than i can, tonight

I first met Sabrina at Lancaster Bible School when she was a frizzy-haired ten-year-old. Anti-social to the other kids, she didn't talk me until I had spent a while pushing her on the swing and looking at the animals. Animals. They were one thing to which she showed affection. She was fiercely protective of the puppy she held, pouncing in anger on the unsuspecting boy who ran with it to put it in its pen. Something about her engraved her on my heart.

A year later, I was sitting in a circle of girls at Kids' Club, teaching a lesson... or, more accurately, trying to harness a galloping conversation... on how much God loves each of us, unconditionally. Sabrina came up the stairs, plopped down as far from the circle as possible, and glared directly ahead, clutching her skinny self with her crossed arms. Wanting to welcome her to clubs, I invited her to join the circle. Her reaction suprised even the other girls. The most flambuoyant fell silent as she, like an erupting volcano, swore and violently relocated. As the talking proceeded, God answered my prayers and granted us His loving Presence. One by one, lights were lit in eyes around the circle as they... GOT it. Sabrina was curled in a fetal position, hugging a pillow. Later, someone found a baby bird that must have fallen from its nest. It was almost dead. I tried to make the bird feel as safe as possible while Sabrina vented her anger on me for not doing more. I so badly wanted to heal it. I so badly wanted to heal her.

Now, a year even later, I am back at clubs. Sabrina is there, thank God. I know there is a reason for both. She's grown into a girl who can work her world. She's so hard, and yet so fragile. Last week, she was planning her fight at school. She was desperate to prove to me that she had her life in control, that she wasn't scared. She knew I knew better. I told her I wasn't going to tell her how to live her life, but that I have friends who live like that... and I don't want to see the same things happen to her. I tried to help her think about the consequences, about how little it would prove, but, more than anything, I wanted her to hear that I cared about her and wanted her to know she was worth too much for that. She pretty much ignored anything she didn't want to hear, but I could tell she was listening. That was a week ago tonight. I don't see her until next week. Maybe I'll stop by her house tomorrow on my way home from work. For some reason, I can't stop thinking about her tonight.

Please, would you pray that Sabrina will know the love of God, the God who isn't intimidated by her anger, but cares for her hurting heart?

Monday, November 9, 2009

lights and shadows

My life is a kaleidoscope of shifting colors and patterns, lights and shadows. I rather enjoy it.

The past weekend, the pattern shifted. I'm still gazing in rapt wonder at the new hues and the complexity of it. I can barely grasp what God is doing in my heart, but it's shifting. Exciting, frightening, invigorating. A wind of refreshing change finds its way, almost unnoticed, through the halls and into chambers. No, I can't articulate (least of all, in public) what is being wrought, but a few snapshots from the weekend might offer an abstract collage:

Sitting at Tim Horton's with Bekah, her dad, and her sister, laughing so hard it's a wonder our food digested.

Reading Tolkien in the artistically stimulating environment of Artist's Cup Cafe while in the wonderful company of Lisa, Lynell, and Joanne. Ah. Friends, books, art, pottery... iced coffee for the soul.

Discussing life, art, and burdens for friends who don't know the King of Love with Tim Kirk, the dear man who hosted my first art show. His heart for people, art, life, and God makes me name him one of my heroes, right up there with Da Vinci, MLK Jr., and Bob Marley. I had been contemplating buying "Alone Again", which would bring the number of the Kirk works in my possession to three. I was speechless when Tim handed "Alone Again" to me. "A gift", he said. The symbolism of that piece, being given as a gift...

Having a catch-up-on-each-other's-lives marathon talk with my former mentoring group. Laughter, tears, celebration, grief, prayers, teasing, and dark chocolate cheesecake make for holy ground. You girls are truly my sisters. I'm humbled and blessed to be part of the Body. Where else is kind of love and loyalty found?

Just BEING with my Faith Builders friends. If you're from FB, and you're reading this, please polish your halo.

Listening to music while driving barefoot for 5.5 hours. It really is a miracle I arrived back in Lancaster City; I kept getting lost in the stars. Orion, my patron constellation, told me to remember things I had almost forgotten. A falling star directly in my line of vision nearly resulted in my driving into the Susquehanna River, which reflected the sedentary ones.

Back in Lancaster City, waiting for the light to change where King Street crosses Duke, I noticed a lump on a bench near the corner. A small person, with their head on a bundle. The only identifiable shape in the coat that hopefully protected them from the cold was a dangling hand that twitched once in sleep.

Lights and shadows call me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

evening reflections

I am always called to worship when I read The Missio Dei Breviary, but this evening's reflections were exceptional. Lots of thoughts, but no time to write them. And now, with my heart recharged, I'm off to teach at Kids' Club this evening. Weehah! :) If you're reading this, pray that Love will be present and touchable to the kids this evening.

Call to Praise
After a time of reflective silence, proclaim:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Psalm 69:1-15
For the director of music. To the tune of “Lilies.” Of David.
Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.

I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.

I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.

Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
what I did not steal.

You, God, know my folly;
my guilt is not hidden from you.

Lord, the LORD Almighty,
may those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me.

For I endure scorn for your sake,
and shame covers my face.

I am a foreigner to my own family,
a stranger to my own mother’s children;

for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.

When I weep and fast,
I must endure scorn;

when I put on sackcloth,
people make sport of me.

Those who sit at the gate mock me,
and I am the song of the drunkards.

But I pray to you, LORD,
in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
answer me with your sure salvation.

Rescue me from the mire,
do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
from the deep waters.

Do not let the floodwaters engulf me
or the depths swallow me up
or the pit close its mouth over me.

Mark 15:16-20
The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
Reflect upon the mockery Jesus received by the soldiers. Though he is King of the Universe, he was mocked by low men. He had the power to vindicate himself, yet did nothing.
Simeon’s Song
Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.

Closing Prayer
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you. Because by your Cross you have redeemed the world. You endured shame so that we might be redeemed.
Father, help us to live openly and humbly before you and one another. Help us to stand in solidarity with the humble—those who feel shame, those who have been brought low, those who are mistreated.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

calves and other stuff i miss

I just might get addicted to hanging out with my friend Miriam at her work. :) I took her pictures this afternoon and then went along to the farm where she works. Feeding calves again was so much fun! I'm still very much a farm girl at heart, I guess. I am entirely impressed with the farm set-up and calf facilities. The calves themselves are too cute to be true. Fine genetics and proper care and nutrition show.

This is the "I'm desperate to suck on something" look.

I happily obliged.

This, my friends, is a perfect dairy specimen. The sawdust on the nose is to be expected. She's just a baby, you must understand.

Whoever said "curiousity killed the cat" must have never known a cow.

 I got to bottle-feed these itty babies.

Is anything more satisfying than watching a whole row of calves eat? Um, they WERE eating.

A perfect Sunday.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

God with me

"Make a practice of sharing everything with God in private, and every public action will bear the stamp of His presence." -Author Unknown

God wants to share my griefs. God wants to share my utter delight in the misty moon and first star. God wants to hear my frustrations and anger. God wants to be faced with my doubts.  God wants to be told my failures... and the things that make me more alive.

It's only when I share with Him that He can heal me, redeem me, change me, and love me.

Emmanuel, God with us.
God with me.

Why do I deny both of us the privilege of being together?

Monday, October 26, 2009


At times, I've been told I am cynical. Usually, I've been guilty as charged. Perhaps because the object is so familiar to my own hand, I notice how much power cynicism has over cultures, specifically the culture of my generation. We're tired of the chaos, tired of the mud-slinging, tired of seeing people sacrificed for ideologies. More than the ideas and practices that we question, we're disturbed by how quickly people can be hurt in their questioning. We can see that rocking the proverbial boat is frightening to the rowers, but we're just tired of the ensuing tensions. We want to know we're heard, but our talking seems to only draw darker dividing lines. So, we take comfort in our cynicism, like an over-stuffed chair. It gives us a safe way to let each other know we're hurting, without being too vulnerable.

What have we done? Have we helped or hurt ourselves? Have we helped or hurt others?

Cynicism denies the hope of change, of restored relationships and satisfying communication. It prevents us from working toward that end.

If the most common bond is our shared cynicism, we're fragmented indeed.

Cynicism blinds me to the other side of the coin. If I remember it exists, I don't have the energy to care.

I don't have any patented cures or five-step procedures. I'm just asking God to open my eyes, to help me see my sphere of operation as He does.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


i won't believe it any more
five and two do not make four
i knew it didn't, but
your claims cast shadows
on my treehouse

i'm blowing kisses at the moon
smiling at the sun at noon
dancing with the light, and
counting rose petals
two and two, four

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I think I shall become a gypsy with a mission. I'm not sure where I'm going, but, like Abraham, I just feel like going. I'm itchy with the type of boredom that saps energy. What next? Where next? Sifting through my dreams like diamonds, but none quite fit. I'm asking God to give me a dream I've not dreamed before. Meanwhile, I try to praise Him in its absence.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

rainbow eyes

look, absorb
do not deny

leaves aflame
and in black decay

symphonic smiles
and deafening tears

run the tide
of bliss and agony

move with the rhythms
of throbbing Creation

rain filters sunshine
colors prism in shifting hues

rainbow eyes

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Fellowship

Father, resuscitate us
Don't let the people watching say
We trusted foolishly in You
We grasp the horns of the altar
Fall to our knees, arms around the cross
Caught in the paradox
Jesus, don't leave us

You, them, me
A fellowship

We die our deaths
In the hope of


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Eldon & Rosey's engagement [I]

My "little" sister is getting married! These two endured the heat and were real troopers, ready to try anything and full of their own ideas for poses. Thanks, you guys! :) I think I rediscovered how much I love photography. Now, if I can save enough to buy a camera as sweet as the one I borrowed for this shoot... [Dream on, Becca] More pictures coming later, after more delicious editing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

kids and fountains

My three youngest sisters and I had a sleepover and sisters' day last week. Bedtime stories... "Fiddler on the Roof"... endless informative, hilarious, and profound conversation... making paper... milkshakes... Everything is more fun with kids, and I think my sisters are exceptional kids. :) Wednesday was a swelteringly hot, so we four sisters and Kirsten cooled off in the most wonderful fountain. My sisters were enthralled. As if playing in a fountain isn't awesome enough, the water does an enchanting dance routine. It's one of my favorite things about this city. There were two other families there as well, and it was soul-fortifying to watch all the kids play together. Diversity is beautiful. People are beautiful.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

a confession

All right, this is going to be a bit up close and personal. Well, a bit more personal than up close, but such is virtuality.

Lately, I've been asking myself what's wrong with myself. How can I assure other people of God's love for them, all the while feeling my own words fall on the echoing pavement of my own heart? How can I bring others to the foot of the cross, feel tears on my cheeks, and pain in my soul, reverberations of the love of God for them... but feel like somewhat of an on-looker myself? Why do I feel a little uncomfortable in my own skin whenever I'm close to God?

Listening to Jennifer Knapp on my way home this evening, God talked with me. He reminded me of the biggest thing I've learned from this man:

My doing and feeling everything correctly isn't as necessary as I make it. Chris, thanks for telling me not to try so hard. That resounded much further than you knew. I guess I need to learn to live in my own brokenness. I'm proud, I guess. No, I don't guess. I know. I am fine with other people's mistakes and imperfections, but I see the inside of my heart... and I loathe my fallibility. Honestly, I must look so ridiculous to God: here I live, saying, "God, it's wonderful that You love them in their brokenness, but I demand to escape Your love until I am perfect enough to approve of myself".

Lord, I repent. I'll let You be my Savior instead of trying to save myself. Forgive me for clinging to condemnation in the face of Your bleeding love.

Just when I think I've got it, Its gone.
When I think I know the answer,
And I dare to raise my hand, Its wrong.

Stop stop stop, This foolish pride of mine
that dares to drag me far away from you.
When I try to do it my way
I always lose, I always lose, your point of view.

Oh, I don't have to be condemned
Jesus Saved me from the laws of sin.
If I fall, I'll try again.
With the spirit as my guide,
I won't ever have to hide again.

Well I, I, try to close my eyes
like a child playing in a game of hide and seek.
If I cannot see the Lord
then surely the Lord cannot see me.
As if I could ever keep him from spying me.
All the plans of this man,
There nothing more, Nothin more then evil, schemes

Oh, I don't have to be condemned
Jesus Saved me from the laws of sin.
If I fall, I'll try again.
With the spirit as my guide,
I won't ever have to hide again.

Oh, I don't have to be condemned
Jesus Saved me from the laws of sin.
If I fall, I'll try again.
With the spirit as my guide,
with the spirit as my guide...

I don't have to be....
Jesus saved me, Jesus saved me...
I don't have to, I won't be condemned...yeah

[Jennifer Knapp, "Romans"]

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Conversation with the Shepherd

I love being in Your arms
Or following close to Your side
Never outside the reach
Of your loving eyes
Guiding hands

What about them?
They're in the canyon
Where the wild things live
My heart pounds in fear
They'll be destroyed

I know Yours does, too
I can feel it
Why don't You drag them out
Instead of calling?
They aren't listening

Um, Shepherd?
It's because You love them
More than You fear Your own heartbreak?
Teach me how to love like that
Can You pick me up
So I can know we grieve together?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

redemptive violence?

Finally, might we all be starting to listen to the people who would know best that violence begets violence: the soldiers? Remember Timothy McVeigh? Of course, we were outraged when he killed 168 people in the infamous Oklahoma City bombing. It was horrific. Just thinking about it makes me nauseated. But, we forget what he, in a twisted way, was trying to say. During the Gulf War, he became totally disillusioned with war and the idea that hurting people is a way of bringing healing to other people. It didn't make sense to him to kill Iraqis to right wrongs, so he killed Americans to show how senseless it is.
"We all thought we were doing this for your country and these
people are terrible, every single one of them. You get over there and you realize
two things, they're not so terrible and how is this helping my country?"
If Timothy McVeigh wasn't a big enough indication that killing people who kill people to show people that killing people is wrong doesn't work, take a listen to Kenneth Eastridge. He is frighteningly honest about what today's war actually looks like. It's not the noble and dignified heroism we are told it is.

"The Army pounds it into your head until it is instinct: Kill
everybody, kill everybody. And you do. Then they just think you can just come
home and turn it off."
Read Eastridge's tragic story and heart-rending testimony and see if you still feel the violence in Iraq is bringing peace to our Iraqi bothers and sisters... or to our brothers and sisters who are on their "tour of duty", as we neatly dub it. I pray for my friend who has been deployed to Iraq, and for the people he will kill.

God, this insanity has to stop. Why do You make yourself vulnerable enough to let us make our own choices, to follow the god of our choosing? Sometimes I wish You'd love us a little less and just stop us. We hurt the people You love, which shreds Your heart as well as their bodies. We hurt Your Name by claiming Your blessing on this mess. Move our hearts to Love and a rejection of hatred. Bring Your Kingdom to our hearts and, through us, to the world You created.

Sorry to sound like a broken record, folks. I know I talk about this a lot. I just stumbled across Eastridge's news article tonight and was disturbed afresh, especially when I've been reminded a lot recently that the church (in some cases) is a huge supporter of "ousting evil" in Iraq. I had to vent.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

soul static

Show me, Father, who You are. So many conflicting voices, asserting they know You and demanding that others know You the way they do. When will we give others the liberty You give them... the liberty to make mistakes, the liberty to be fallible? Why do we set ourselves up above You? How can we preach wrath and healing in the same breath? Lord, we get it so wrong. Why do You keep using us to bring Your message? Help us to turn to You in humility, to stop demanding we be Your slaves when You want friends... and, lost in Your love, find Your voice coming out of our lives and mouths.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

art show pieces

"Greater Love"

"Simple Tranquility"

"Little Miss Kenya"


"Uncle Hibbert"

"Peace Tree"

"Live in Peace"


"Hopeful Doubt"
My first art show was a success. Interpretation: I survived the gallerying of the children of my hands and pencils. Honestly, it felt far more vulnerable than I even imagined. I think the greatest lesson I learned is that I still have a lot of developing to do as an artist. Because I've been selling work privately for seven years, I feel like I've developed my style... until I see my work next the people who have degrees in art and were drawing before I was even a heartbeat. But, I told God that I wanted the show to somehow be a means of furthering His Kingdom. He gave me the ability to draw. He gave me the opportunity to do a show. I have faith that He glorified Himself through my offerings to Him and the people who see my work.