dance party and playlist



Either/Or



Recently I met an old friend for lunch. He was actually my senior high prom date.
He wasn’t just my prom date, but had been my friend for a good part of high school. And our group has mostly stayed in touch through the years. But not him. Even though we live in the same big metroplex, I hadn’t seen him in almost 15 years.
At prom, He even won some kind of senior superlative, Mr. BHS or something like that. In other words, he was well-liked, nice, funny and smart. And it helped that he drove a Camero. We didn’t break up or have a falling out. He kind of just disappeared. And not just from me, but from everyone.
And I had looked for him.
At class reunions. On myspace. And eventually, only about a year ago, he finally showed up on facebook.
When he did, I suggested we get together for dinner or something.
And he responded with a really awkward email.
Explaining that he was gay. Warning me. Trying to let me out of my dinner invitation if I wanted. And I already knew this. Possibly I had even known it back in high school. It wasn’t really an issue for me. I didn’t need him to explain himself.
I replied, “So, where would you like to eat?”

Life got in the way and we never met up.
But recently we tried again.
And we talked a little bit about his disappearance. And how he really regretted pulling away. And it was only a little bit about being gay and a lot about being gay and Christian.
Because this guy, back in high school, was known for his faith. He led bible studies. Was crazy active in his church. He was busy having quiet times while many of us were out drinking. He even seriously considered becoming a priest. He was worried about how people would handle that.
Before we met for lunch and talked, I wondered a little if he had lost his faith. Because I have a few friends like him who have. Who felt like they had to choose.
And I couldn’t imagine this guy without his faith. Even if I could imagine him with another man. But it was only minutes into our conversation for me to see that it was still intact. And I told him that I was glad he never felt like it was an either/or decision.

And I know for some of you reading this it is.
Or at least it is a “love the sinner hate the sin” kind of scenario.
And I won’t try and tell you that it is ok.
But I also won’t say it is wrong.
Because really I don’t know.
Nor do I feel like I need to finalize any kind judgment on the issue.
That really isn’t my job.
I’ve got more than my share of planks to extract before I start working on anyone else’s splinters.

A lot of people make Christians choose.
They make a tiny little box and only think that people like them should fit in side.
And everyone else must be on a different team.
Thankfully. God is bigger than a box. And doesn’t really pick teams.
He picks all of us. Individually. By name.
But that is easy to forget because those boxes are awfully convenient.
Boxes that tell us where we stand. And more importantly where everyone else stands.
You can believe in creation or evolution.
You can either be democrat or a Christian. But certainly not both.
You can’t send your kids public school and be a Christian.
You can either like Twilight and Harry Potter or read sub par fiction books about the Amish or country priests.
Christians certainly don’t have tattoos ( or 4 and a nose ring).
You can listen to Janis Joplin and Radiohead or be a Christian and prefer the likes of Amy Grant (or maybe U2 if you are really edgy).
You can’t be divorced and be a Christian.
And you especially can’t be a homosexual and a Christian.
There are verses against that. Black and white. Plain as day.

If we really read the bible, there are also verses that black and white, plain as day, tell us some things about following Christ that most of us tend to happily ignore.
You can’t love your family and be a Christian. (Luke 14:26)
It is almost impossible to be rich and be a Christian. (Matthew 19:24)
Good Christian women shouldn’t pray without a head covering (1 Corinthians 11:5) or speak in church (1 Corinthians 14:34).
If we took Jesus at his word, a lot more people would be running around with gouged out eyes and cut off right hands. (Mark 9:47, Matthew 5:30)
And that is only in the New Testament, don’t get me started on all the crazy rules in the Old Testament.

Actually, I don’t really think we ignore those verses. Instead, sometimes when we read the bible we apply context and culture.
And sometimes we forget to do that.
Sometimes we take things literally, other times (like the gouging out of your eyes) we assume Jesus is speaking figuratively. It gets confusing.
Which is why I have a hard time picking. Either/Or.
I don’t know.
Each team has verses to back them up.
But again, God isn’t so into teams or either/or scenarios.
And even Satan tried to use his word to manipulate someone into doing what he wanted.
His name was Jesus and he didn’t fall for it.

Satan and the Pharisees tried multiple times to give Jesus either/or situations and he never responded as expected.
He never picked option A or B.
He replied with questions, or verses, and especially grace.
Neither. None of the above.
Because love doesn’t really fit into multiple choice.
Love isn’t Either. Or.
It isn’t your team or mine.
Your political party or mine.
Not even your orientation.
And we are called to love deeply.
Because apparently it covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).

And I’m not sure about my friend I met for lunch.
But I have a few sins that could use some covering.



Bigger Picture Moment
This post is part of bigger picture blogs..........and attempt to find the bigger picture in our crazy week and look for faith along the way. Check out some of the other posts Corrine's blog.

floating

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We wasted a lot of money and time at swim lessons this summer.
4 weeks worth.
And the boy could hardly swim.
And when I use the word swim, I mean flail around in the water enough to just keep his head above water and sometimes lucky enough to make it to the stairs.

The last set of swim lessons were a particular bust.
The teacher, a sweet blonde teenager was wooed by my son’s cuteness.
Meaning she held him about 90% of the time.
And it is pretty hard to learn to swim when you are permanently attached to someone’s shoulder.
The last teacher would work on strokes and kicking and when he would get just a few feet from the edge, he would give my son a good shove and make him get to the side by himself.
This teacher, when not toting him around on her shoulder, just seemed to work on floating.
I was frustrated. Tired of writing big checks and tired of trying to get him there in his trunks by 9 am while I sat up in the bleachers and watched him not swim for another 45 minutes.
I was especially irritated by all the floating practice. I wanted her to let go and give him a good shove like the last teacher.

Exasperated at my son’s progress, I “borrowed” a friends pool for a few days while she was out of town (thanks dawn) and put dad in charge of the lessons.
Not sure if it was dad, the magic “floating water” that my son claimed their pool had or that we finally had him undistracted, but we finally started swimming.
And again, I use the term loosely.
But he can swim several feet on his own and even take a few breaths.
We can throw him into the middle of the pool and he can make it to the sides.
He can swim down and get a quarter off the bottom of the pool (or at least the bottom step).
We also found his motivation.
Money.
And we were not above using.
We promised dollars and quarters for each new feat.
Sometimes the cash prize was still not enough motivation, but it doesn’t matter.
The kid was swimming. Sort of. And most of the time forgot to even ask for his blue inner tube.
(he never forgot to ask for his cash though!)
And at our last “lesson” he was doing so well and the one year old wasn’t venturing off the top step so I started swimming a little on my own. Just playing around in the pool like I haven’t done since I was about ten. Before there were cute boys to impress, tans to be had or little kids to keep afloat. No one was around to ask why this 32 year old was doing head stands, underwater summersaults or trying to swim laps in a pool about as long as my living room.
Eventually I laid on my back and tried to float.
And it was harder than I remembered.
Floating required me to relax. To not do anything and stop flailing.
To breathe slowly and just let the water hold me up.
And even though I know plenty about density and buoyancy trusting that this clear fluid to support all of me seems sketchy.
And the more I “tried” to hold myself up, the more I sunk.
Because you can’t make yourself float.
You just have to be still and trust that you will.

Lately I have been trying to be and do a lot of things. And I catch myself sinking more often than not.

These days when we go to the pool, my son works on swimming further, kicking harder and diving deeper.
And I am starting to think more like his last swim teacher.
I am working on trust.

rock climbing and rock and roll


a slightly tardy playlist. and lets be honest most of my music is too sleepy to be classified as rock and roll....but i still turn it up loud.
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pace yourself

Tonight I went running with a friend ten years my junior.
I asked her how far she was running and when she said only about 1.5 or 2 miles, I teased her that I could go at least twice that far. And to just let me know when she needed to stop.

I have been running pretty regularly for the last few weeks. It isn’t long but keep increasing my time and distance. I’ve stopped getting blisters. I don’t suck wind after five minutes anymore and I was feeling pretty good about myself. Thinking I might even be able to out run this girl who was so much younger and obviously in more shape than me.

As we started to jog I told her that I run pretty slow. Like my husband used to walk beside me while I ran, slow. And she slowed her gait a little bit for me but it was still faster than I usually go. I was a little embarrassed and was not going to ask her to slow down again. So I just ran at her pace. I stayed close. And was fading fast.
A little over a mile in I was ready to quit.
Again, pride, which isn’t usually one of my better qualities, kept me going even though I couldn’t breathe well enough to carry on a conversation. I told her if she wanted to chat she could only ask yes or no questions.
I kept up. I struggled. And eventually my side started to cramp.

Thankfully, about this time she was asking me if I was ready to quit.
I lied and told her no.
She asked again, hinting that maybe she was.
And so, out of pure consideration for her, of course, I stopped and we walked the rest of the way back to her house.

I was frustrated at my bad run. That I only went a few miles rather than my usual three or four. And those were a struggle.
That I was trying so hard just to keep up.
Because, I was running her race. Not mine.
I quickly grew weary. And quit.

Which is exactly what I do when I try following the wrong person.
When I try to keep my house neat like my neighbors. I usually quit before finishing one room.
When I try to stay on top of lesson plans and grading papers and having my copies ready, like the type A personalities next to me. I quit and let the papers pile up on my desk.
When I try to look like my friends. I quit when I can’t get my hair to do what I want.
When I try to balance everything so seamlessly. I overbook and eventually quit. Order pizza and sit on the couch.

Essentially, following every body else and keeping up is hard work.
Instead I need to remember just to slow down. To keep my own pace. And that really there is only one person I need to worry about following.
And when I do, I can go so much further.


Bigger Picture Moment
This post is part of bigger picture blogs..........and attempt to find the bigger picture in our crazy week and look for faith along the way. Check out some of the other posts Maegan's blog.

what we do.




Recently I had dessert with my sister.
We are a lot alike.
But are years apart and never really got all that close.
She had moved out and on before I even hit middle school.
But now that we are grown ups and especially moms, sometimes those years seem a lot closer together.

I said we are a lot alike. But in other ways we couldn’t be more different.
She buys nice clothes. I shop at Goodwill.
She eats healthy food. I mean too, but I really like Chik fil A.
She works a lot. I work. But I wouldn’t call it a lot.
She doesn’t have a facebook. I live online.


But we look almost exactly alike. Except maybe she is a few sizes smaller.
We are both smart, except maybe she has more letters after her name than me.
We are both obnoxious and loud, except maybe her mouth is even worse than mine.

I was home for a minute last week and we both snuck out for a glass of wine and some delicious dessert. Spanish almond basque cake from Veritas….I don’t really know what basque cake is. But it was amazing. I had to use some serious self control not to lick the bowl.

We caught up a little. She talked about work. And how busy she has been. Recently she was put in charge of a 12.5 million dollar grant and has been busting her tail with the press in addition to her lab work. She talked about meetings and budgets and her recent interview with Nature. I mentioned that we had been going to swim lessons. And also the science museum. And the park a lot. Then I went kind of blank. I didn’t have much to add. I’m not stressed. I’m not busy. I really haven’t been doing much of anything besides writing blogs, reading books and hanging out with my family and friends. I haven’t hardly thought about work since school let out. She talked some more about her research and some of it’s implications and the possibility of starting a company. She gave me some details, and even though I have a masters degree in science…most of it was over my head.

But despite all this success she kept saying that she was tired. That even though she is being praised highly right and left it is growing old. Those accolades aren’t really sinking in. Or they aren’t enough.


And this particular blog post isn’t about the grass being greener. Or even another post about my lack of ambition.
Of course there is a twinge of jealousy for her success and attention.
And she is probably just as jealous of my free time, lack of stress and time with my family and friends.
But I don’t want her job. I like sleep. I like my family. When I did my masters thesis, research bored me to tears. I even like teaching highschool. And I especially like waffle fries.
And she likes whatever complicated sciency thing she does. A lot. More than a double rainbow (bad you tube reference, sorry, I couldn't resist).

I told her that I was tired too.
And like her, also slightly unsatisfied.
Mine by my suburban mediocrity. Her from lack of rest. From always just trying to get through the next thing, which always leads to another next thing.

And it doesn’t matter.
Success doesn’t equal satisfied.

The next day I read one of her press releases. And she read my blog for the first time.
And again. We are a lot alike and equally as different.

But we both know that there is more.
That it doesn’t matter what we do. Or how much we do it. Or who publishes it.
She might be curing cancer. I might be wasting my time.
But happiness doesn’t come from what we do. Or don’t do.
From million dollar grants or coffee with friends.

But how much we love. And if I can just do that well, it will be enough.

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updates #2


Recently I met with my writer’s group. We hadn’t met in a handful of months and some of those girls I don’t usually see other places. So we spent a good portion of our time just catching up (and eating frozen yogurt). One girl in the group asked about my friend Beth. That I had blogged about. And then I started thinking about it and a handful of other friends have asked about her. Because I have a tendency to just throw stuff out in the blogosphere and never really follow up…..I thought I’d take a moment to update everyone on the current status of some of my posts in the last few months.

1. Beth. Yes, she is still pregnant. I think going on 26 weeks or something like that and moved back to Maryland. Which makes me miserably sad for me and ridiculously happy for her. Keep praying for that sweet baby girl. So far she is growing perfectly and I can't wait to hold her. Even if I freakin have to fly to Maryland to make that happen.
2. yoga. Went back tonight. Still bad at it, but didn’t ask any dumb questions this time (or fart). And I brought my husband mainly so there would be someone worse than me in the room.
3. running. Still going. But am kind of hitting a wall. My runs are getting shorter rather than longer. But I have new shoes and am thinking of signing up for a sprint tri. But I’m not really sure how I feel about all that biking and swimming.
4. My impressive technology skills. I still don’t know how to work the scanner.
5. Tess’s tubes. Tess is still mean and sassy. But she sleeps lightyears better than she did before the tubes. I wish I had done it a year ago! Although the last few nights have been less than stellar…
6. Biting. The tubes have really helped the biting too. She still occasionally bites her brother, but he usually deserves it.
7. freckles. She has more. I have lost count :(
8. summer reading list. Read most of it, plus more than half dozen others. My favorites on the list were Will Jesus Buy me a DoubleWide, Picking Dandelions, Eat Pray Love and Justice in the Burbs. Just ordered Pure Scum and Tattoos on the Heart. And right now I am in the middle of Matthew Paul Turner’s, Hear No Evil and Present Perfect by Gregory Boyd. Both of which I love.
9. dance parties. We have had more than our share this summer. And still no cable. I’m sure we will break down and get something before football season….but for now we are saving some cash and spending less time in front of the TV.
10. the nose ring. It is still in and I am on the fence about what to do with for the school year.
11. On imaginary friends and apologies. I am still being really bad at lately. Recently, I have come to some self realizations about what kind of friend I have been and even what kind of acquaintance. This summer I have connected with old friends in the best kind of ways but am stressing my current friendships with my brashness, my mouth, my insensitive, the fact that I don’t receive criticism well and some double standards. So again. I’m sorry. I’m listening even if I don’t act like it and I’m working on it. I promise.
12. My haircut. It has grown out. I’m over it. As a matter of fact I need a new one…..
13. Owen and soccer. We have taken a good long break, but the newest season is just beginning. And yes, I signed him up again….because it isn’t soccer he doesn’t like but not being the star. And well, I think there are bigger lessons to be learned here. Unfortunately, he has mostly just learned to compensate lack of skill with being a clown. Hmmm….wonder where he got that from.
14. my car. it is worse than ever. thanks to wet swim towels and lots of snow cones.
15. some central themes in the last few months. faith. doubt. poverty and justice. still processing.
16. On my unproductivity. I did at least finish defensive driving. Mainly because of that court order and all. That is about all I can say I accomplished so far this summer. Besides of course reading lots of books and spending lots of time with my favorite three people.

now and then




Me and my friend Laura have been friends for half our life.
But have probably known each other for all of it.
Our grandfathers were friends. And we were born less than two weeks apart and they would brag and show each other pictures of little us.
We probably both had our diapers changed in the same church nursery because we both grew up, were baptized in and married in the same one.
And Laura and her family always seemed to be there.
And we would go every Sunday we were in town.
But we often weren’t.
Sometimes we would be off sailing in the gulf or spending the weekend in our condo on the lake. (Yes, obviously I had it rough).
And she was always smiling. And helping and being genuinely friendly.
I always liked it there. And her smile. But was often looking for someone a little more interesting to talk to or sit next to (read cute boy).

And we went to high school together. She had braces and a perm and was in the band. And I was in all the smart classes and spent all my money on stupid clothes to try and be cool and was still often looking past her for someone more interesting to talk to or sit next to (again read cute boy).
And then junior year, she ended up sitting next to me in one of those smart classes. She still wore braces. I had stopped worrying so much about what lunch table to sit at or the brand of my jeans and finally really noticed her sweet smile.
And we moved our tables together almost every day and laughed a lot.
A lot.
As in I think for the first time, my friend Laura was getting into trouble in class.
We probably would have gotten in more trouble. But it was Laura and all the teachers loved her. Grown ups just couldn’t help it.
But giggling in class led to frozen yogurt (which thankfully is making a come back), toilet papering that very teacher’s house, study sessions, Grease marathons, eating at Swensons (we might have had a sweet tooth), lots of chips and quac, road trips, and of course driving around and talking about boys.
My parents liked it when I hung out with Laura. Mainly because I don’t think they worried about me doing anything stupid while I was with her. She had integrity like that.
I’m sure her parents worried when she was out with me. But they let her go anyways.
And I’m glad because some of that good rubbed off.

She went to A&M, I went to Tech.
But we stayed friends. When I was in town there were wine coolers, beaches, tattoos (mine, not hers of course), more road trips, more ice cream, camping, more chips and dips, and still lots of giggling and boy talk.
I cut cake at her wedding and she lit a candle in mine. We had our own babies not very far apart and stayed friends. But not the kind that talk every day or even every month. Not even the kind that always remember birthdays. Because we are the kind that don’t have to. We can slip easily into conversations whether it has been a few minutes or a few years. And there is still lots of giggling.

I joined an organization my freshman year of college that asked us to list a few people who had played a large role in my faith.
I picked her.
She never preached to me or asked me if I did a daily quiet time or anything like that. But she had more of a role than she ever realized.
Laura was known for being happy and smiling and encouraging.
Like all the time.
And you would think that this might get annoying. Hanging out with someone who was always happy and chipper.
But it was nice and refreshing. Because she meant it.
And of course after all that time, I had seen her cry and complain and have bad days. There were bad test grades and break ups and spoiled plans.
But she still exuded warm sunshine even when a smile wasn’t spread across her face.
Because maybe she wasn’t just happy all the time. She had joy.
And she wasn’t even a little bit shy about letting people know where it came from.
Every night. No matter how many of us were packed in her tiny bedroom, she would get out her prayer journal and write. Sometimes she would pray outloud at dinner.
And she talked about Jesus and God like they were around. Like they were part of her life rather than something she just did on Sundays.
And I had believed long before. And I prayed. And I tried to read and do all those good things they taught me at church. I think I was even standing by her that time at church camp when I wondered down the altar.
But Laura knew God. Like a friend. And I wanted that. I needed that.
And I wanted some of her joy.

And her joy has been tested.
I remember her calling me sophomore year of college and through tears telling me that her father had brain cancer. And I clearly remember exactly where I stood in my apartment when we talked about percentages and the months they had given her dad to live. And I promised to pray for her, like she had done for me so many times.
And Laura wasn’t all smiles through that season, but she never not for a second, lost that joy.
And less than a year later her dad was told he was cancer free. That he beat the statistics. And that the months he had been told he had turned into over a dozen years. And he gave away all three of his daughters to be married and has held four sweet grandchildren in his arms. But these last few years haven’t been so good. He has been slipping further and further away. Now a hospital bed sits in the middle of their living room. And hospice comes every day. And she is so thankful for those stolen years. But that they pray for heaven. And I could hear the ache in her heart when she told me that I couldn’t even tell her Happy Birthday just a few weeks ago. And her sweet five year old little girl interrupted us to tell me that her granddaddy was sick. I tried to tell her about how I remembered when he wasn’t supposed to be around to even meet her, much less see her start kindergarten. And my heart moved into my throat and I couldn’t even finish my sentence.
And still. Me and my friend, laughed and giggled and ate ice cream and talked about boys and babies and God.
And that is joy that I still want.

Once before going off to college, my friend Laura wrote me a sweet sappy letter about how glad she was to be my friend. Because that is the kind of girl she is. And somewhere in the letter she actually thanked me for helping make her cool.
Which made me laugh a lot. And I told her afterwards that I hated to break it to her, but that we were never all that cool.

So maybe I didn’t make her cool.
But I assure you, she made me better.


(and please forgive the photos. The now picture was taken by a couple of crazy 5 year olds and we had just spent the day in the pool. The then photo, I'm embarrassed to admit is a picture of a picture because I am a moron and still don't know how to work the scanner!)

The Friday Playlist: Cooling Off (and me getting fancy with grooveshark)

I am still running. Even though it is ridiculously hot out and this week Shaun has been out of town so finding a time to run has been a little tricky. And was often in the heat of the day.
Normally when am in a running phase my playsits is kind of embarrassing.
Some Lady GaGa, Ke$ha, Kanye, Outkast, Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce....you get the idea. Anything fast with a strong beat to keep me going. And about half the time it was on a tread mill.
This time around I am opting for some longer slower runs on some little shaded roads that take me out of town. And listening to music that helps clear my head. It isn't your usual running tunes....but they have been working.



Yep. And. Both.

Lately those are a few of my favorite words to help me describe my faith.
I’ve been saying I don’t know a lot.
But that is always hard to spit out.
Like I should know and just don’t.
And a lot of time Christianity is presented in a fashion that makes you feel like you should know.
Sermons with three perfectly alliterated points.
Programs with steps to work and follow.
Books with checklists, bullet points, and flowcharts.

Yep.
Way back before I had this blog I went to a show at the Ridglea theatre in Fort Worth.
It is a pretty popular live music venue.
But this particular night, there wasn’t a band.
The house was packed and bartenders stood by to take your drink order.
On stage, instead of an elaborate band set or lights was just a simple white board and a few black markers.
Right on time, a man dressed very plainly (but with really cool glasses) walked onto the stage and started scribbling on the board. And talking.
For hours this man talked and it was a different kind of sermon than I had ever heard.
He made a million great points but one of my favorite moments was when he held up an overhead marker. Had the crowd look at it head on, and asked us what shape we saw. Since you could only see the lid from this angle it looked like a circle. Next, he turned it sideways and asked what shape we saw. From the new angle it was a rectangle. He then asked the crowd if it was a circle or a rectangle.
We were puzzled.
So he answered for us.
I think we were expecting some big fantastical explanation about other dimensions, perspective and angle.
And he just said, “Yep.”

I have thought of that over and over again. I love to throw out a “yep” anytime I can. Anytime where a yes or a no doesn’t quite cover it. Or maybe sometimes your yes and my no can both be right. Or sometimes when we are missing the much bigger picture or even asking the wrong questions altogether.

And.
In college, I loved the band Waterdeep ( and they are still great).
I heard them live a handful of times and they were always a band that like to ramble.
To tell the story behind each song.
One song that I had never paid much attention to on the album was called simply “And”.
Before they played it each time they would talk about how important the word and is to the gospel.
I’m still not sure I get it. But I’m starting to.
The chorus:
And is the juice of the joints of the motion of life
And is the love that is between God and his beautiful wife
And has two hands and two feet and a long, lovely side
And rose three days after he was crucified


It isn’t just the father. It is the father and the son and the holy spirit.
He wasn’t just nailed to a cross. He was crucified dead and buried and rose again.


If those ands weren't there it would be a much shorter story.

I started paying attention to the word AND in scripture, particularly what kind of things came after it. When you see the word AND it means there is more. That the story isn’t over. Sometimes it is even a call to action. But best of all, and connects and shows relationships and brings things together.
Here are just a few of my favorite ands.
1 John 4:11-12, Matthew 28:20, Micah 6:8, Isaiah 40:31, Galations 2:20.

Both.
I think maybe I am a little tough on the church in this blog sometimes.
The truth is I love church.
I love communion.
I love singing praise songs off key.
I love coffee and donut holes afterwards.
I love connecting with people.
But sometimes I still write my shopping list in the bulletin.
Sometimes I’d rather sleep in.
Sometimes I do sleep in.
Sometimes I wish pastors didn’t try to fit Jesus into three key points.
Sometimes I wish that the guy up there in the front of the room would occasionally say he doesn’t know either.
Or just “yep”.

And the other night, the pastor asked us to write a verse down.
“work out your salvation with fear and trembling", Philipians 2:12b
And then he talked about how our salvation is always presented as this free gift.
And it is.
But here is Paul asking us to work out our salvation.
And then he finishes the sentence with verse 13.
for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
And then he asked us, so is our salvation a gift or a process?
Is it something we work out or God works out?
And he answered for us.
“Both”


Which sounds a lot like “yep” to me.








Bigger Picture Moment
This post is part of bigger picture blogs..........and attempt to find the bigger picture in our crazy week and look for faith along the way. Check out some of the other posts Melissa's blog.

beaches and cheating.




first beaches.
Shaun is a mountain guy. And I love the mountains.
But I am more of a beach girl. I love the sand and the smell and everything that comes with it. Even raw oysters and sunburns. So far I have yet to set foot on one this summer........but last year about this time I was in Cozumel and it was amazing.

now the cheating.
I am sitting on a few posts, but a few things (one tan blonde boy and fiesty little toddler) have kept me busy this week....so I am re-posting a favorite from last summer.

Sunrise

I don't think I have every really seen one. On purpose at least. Maybe some glipses on the way to work, but I have never just gotten out of bed early for the pure intent on watching the sun rise. It is worth it I hear, and I felt like there would be no better place to witness one than my last morning in Cozumel. I had this romanticized picture of me on the beach with a cup of coffee, talking to God and snapping the kind of photos that belonged on the front of a postcard.
So I got up at 5:30. a.m. Without the help of an alarm clock or a hungry baby. I just woke up. Iattempted breifly to go back to sleep, but then felt an urging to get out of bed and make my way down to the beach. This was going to be that moment.
I told shaun where I was going so he wouldn't worry and before he rolled over and went back to sleep he warned me that the sun rose on the side of the hotel......not the beach and that I probably wouldn't be able to see much. I said I wanted to watch it anyways. I figured it would still be beautiful and amazing through the palm trees instead of over the ocean. I just knew that God had nudged me out of bed and had something beautiful and special to show me.
So me and my trusty camera headed to the beach and I waited for God to start the show.

And I waited. Until it really wasn't dark anymore.

There were no pinks or oranges in the sky. Things just eventually got brighter. The sky actually looked kind of gray and dreary. This was not the kind of sunrise I had envisioned. Surely, the sun was going to sneak over the trees any second now and take my breath away.
Someone started to set out the coffee and someone else started to rake the sand. Morning had come without the kind of magical display I had hoped for.
The sky did not turn any brilliant shades. I did not snap any pictures.
As the darkness disapeared I couldn't help but be a little bit disappointed and wonder that maybe I should have just stayed in bed.

So I sat there on my rock on a white sandy beach with crystal clear water crashing at my feet and birds chirping and tropical flowers blooming and wondered why God had so clearly pulled me out of bed to see a nothing special sun rise.
And then the irony hit me.
Like a giant wave and took my breath away.

I was sitting in the middle of paradise, looking, unsuccessfully for God's beauty.
When all along I had been sitting smack dab in the middle of it.

God woke me up, not to show me a beautiful sun rise but to show me what was already there. To see the beauty in that. Not to miss the pink petals, or the turquoise water, or the shells growing heavy in my pockets.
That sometimes I am in the middle of paradise and missing the absoulte beauty that surrounds me. And not just on the beach but...
At home on the floor playing with my kids.
Or in the backyard.
Or at dinner with a friend.
And that I need to open up my eyes and soak all that in, rather than looking out on the horizon for more.

downward dog

Tonight I went to a yoga class at church. Not sure what my motivation was. Maybe it was that I just read Eat, Pray, Love or maybe it was the free childcare. Whatever the reason I showed up with my mat. Thinking, how hard can it be, even though I haven't been able to touch my toes since like 2nd grade. I mean I do have a Wii fit. And although, I usually skipped the yoga parts for the more fun games like hula hooping, I have unlocked a few additional poses.

Actually a few years ago I went with a friend to her pilates class a few times. And really liked it. I was by far the least stretchy girl in the room. I also had a secret fear of farting. I’m not sure why and am thankful that it never happened….but all the stretchy awkward posing with quiet relaxing music and I was just afraid one would slip out and that I would be mortified. I never could relax. And I have been to a yoga class before. Once. But it was more of the beginner version. And I must have been so bad it that I pushed that experience from my memory.

This was a little more intense. And it didn’t help that I laid my mat out next to my friend Brent, the freakin yoga master. He must be double jointed or something which is totally cheating.

I was sweating hard within minutes. Muscles I didn’t even know I had, hurt.
Normally I could blame this on the fact that I am just plain old out of shape. But lately I have been running everyday. And am up to almost 4 miles. Running is different. I just keep going until I can’t. I put one foot in front of the other and after a few miles I can’t even really feel them anymore anyways. I just keep pushing forward until I want to pass out or puke or both.

But this wasn't just pushing forward. This was intentional breathing, stretching, posing and balance. Slow and deiliberate. With peaceful serene sleepy music in the background instead of my trusty running playlist. And it felt really good and I was trying so hard to figure out what arm to put where and what the difference between downward dog and plank pose was that I didn’t worry once about farting. Actually I was just trying not to fall on my ass.

Because a lot of yoga has to do with balance. Which is something I like the call the B-word. (pretty sure I stole that from Nancy Ortberg). I remembered standing on the Wii board as still as I possibly good and those little green dots showed where I carried my weight. Mine was never in the middle. It was all over the place. Which is pretty good analogy for my life and not just my posture.

We moved on to some of the more challenging balance poses and I’m sure the instructor could see my knees wobble. She kept repeating (and I’m pretty sure it was soley for my benefit) that if we have a hard time balancing to focus somewhere on the wall. I honed in on a light switch and my knees stood still. For a few seconds at least. She kept repeating those instructions. To keep your eye on a specific spot or thing ahead of you and that I’d be able to hold the pose better. With less wobbling. And it worked every time. I swear I stared at that light switch so hard I will see it in my sleep. And again, I couldn’t help but think that this mantra applied to much more than my bad tree pose. How much better I do life and less likely I am to bust my butt when I am focused on Christ.

Eventually we got to my favorite part which involved pretty much just laying there. She read a verse. And let it sink in. And roll around in our heads. Which was for the first time all day quiet. Recently I read that prayer is the talking, and meditation is the listening. And I am not a good listener. In real life. Or, and especially spiritually.
I have tried to meditate before. Not so much in any new-agey kind of way, but more of me trying to be quiet and clear my head and just listen but ends up looking something more like this.
“I can do this, just think of quiet peaceful things, like the ocean”
“maybe I should just pray.”
“ no praying, I’m not really good at that either and I am supposed to be listening”
“I wonder if Shaun fed the dog?”
"Hmm, I really need to cut my toenails"
"maybe I could meditate while getting a pedicure"
“Focus. Focus. Focus.”
“this is so not working”
“ok, really it hasn’t even been 30 seconds. This is sad”
“I suck at this”
“maybe I should just take a nap”
And after I wake up from my nap, I console myself with the fact that maybe God was just telling me to rest after all….

But this time, I sit on my mat. Sweaty and sore and breathing deeply and the same verse just keeps pulsing though my brain even though she only said it once. I don’t really want to get up. I just want to keep laying here. And not just because I’m afraid that I won’t be able to move.

So afterwards, the instructor (and my friend) approaches me and asks if I have ever done yoga before. Because well, it was pretty obvious that I had the flexibility of a brick. So I told her jokingly about my Wii experience. Which pretty much doesn’t count.
And that I really liked it. And will probably be back.
And then, if I hadn’t already made a big enough fool of myself in front of her and the zen master next to me I really sealed the deal.
I mentioned how hot I thought the room was and how much I was sweating. I remembered reading about some type of yoga where they crank up the heat to around 100°, to improve circulation and warm up the muscles. I thought I’d impress them with my Eastern knowledge and asked jokingly if this was tantric yoga?
Turns out I was referring to Bikram yoga….and well tantric is something else entirely. Maybe not the kind of something you mention at church.
I almost wished I had just farted instead.

church. sort of.



I just got home from church.
Well, not really church exactly.
But it felt like it in the best kinds of ways.

No one was wearing there Sunday bests.
Actually most people were wearing everything they owned.
They smelled bad.
There was coffee and cigarettes.
No one was pretending.
And everyone was hungry.

As I walked into Unity Park,
A park that serves as a refuge to the homeless residents of downtown Fort Worth,
A homeless man named Tim walked up to me and asked me to read what he had written the night before.

The opening prayer.
It was scribbled on the back of his doctor’s appt to the free clinic.
A modern day psalm that was truly better than anything I have ever posted on here.
There were warm greetings and smiles and shy glances.

The sacrament was watermelon and ice water.
And everyone was welcome to the table.

The worship was being played next to me by a man in uncomfortable looking robes.
A modern day monk.
With a guitar.
Singing his praises, and I couldn’t help but join in.

The message was hope and grace.
And it was being lived instead of spoken.

And I left full.
Literally with my arms full of zucchini that had been grown in the community garden.
And my heart overflowing with love.

(photo credit)

The Friday playist: Mo



As soon as I turned 10 my parents started sending me to camps.
Church camp, sports camps, orchestra camp (yes, get your jokes out of the way), girlscout camp and your classic summer camp. You know the kind with girls on one side of the river boys on the other, the kind where you are assigned a tribe on your first night (go mohawks) and compete the rest of the summer. The winner to be announced at the very end of closing ceremonies and the place erupts in crazy cheers. (very Harry Potter now that I think of it).

I spend the majority of my summers until I was 21 going to or working at a camp in Hunt, TX. I skipped a few here and there, but during the summer months (and especially July since I was a session 2 girl), I often find myself remembering camp. Where I learned a few things. Like………..

How to share a bathroom with 30+ girls.
How to sleep on top of your already made bunk so you won’t have to make it in the morning.
The importance of mail.
That you will get caught when you sneak out.
How to convince the director of the boys camp to buy you beer on your night off (ok, so maybe this wasn’t a good thing to learn ….)
That when you jump off of a pretty high bridge into the Guadalupe that the force is so great it can cause a wedgie that actually cuts into your skin. (I bet if they posted that on the no jumping sign that more people would listen).
How to fall asleep on top of your already made bunk so that you won’t have to make it before inspection in the morning.
That I really suck at painting ceramics.
I suck even more at archery.
I am a suberb kickball player.
There are only so many marshmallows you can stuff in your mouth chubby bunny style before someone pukes.
How to french kiss.
That if you hide candy in your trunk, raccoons will find it.
How to get a fish hook out of a camper’s hand.
That if you put your friends underwear up the flagpole, you are likely to find your bed in the middle of the tennis courts.
How many hair dryers and curling irons it takes to blow an outlet the night of the Camp Stewart dance.
That sometimes letting them go back home really sucks.
That the freezer in the cafeteria is really easy to break into. And they always have ice cream.
How to get some serious height off the blob.
That devotionals will almost always end in tears. The good kind.
How to make banana boats.
How essential nap time is.
Where to find a hot tub in town.
How to flip a canoe.
That SunIn (and lemon juice) do not provide my hair with pretty blond highlights, but really just turn it bright orange.
That eventually I am always going to end up in the river and might as well jump in before I get thrown in.

And more importantly,
That it only takes 3 weeks to make friends that you will keep and that will change you forever.
And that a few dozen 16 year old campers will always be able to teach me more than I could, as their counselor, teach them.
And that some of the best conversations can be had lying on a tennis court at midnight or crammed three deep in a teeny tiny bunk while sticking to the plastic mattress long after lights out.

So this week’s playlist goes out to Mo Ranch...and summer campers everywhere.

1. Friends are Friends Forever – Micheal W. Smith. The obligatory song for the last night that is guaranteed to break out the waterworks.
2. When I Needed You Most – Erasure. The inevitable senior vespers song. Every year it was the same song and the same skit.
3. The Distance – Cake. For the dreaded mile, and running the damn hill when we got busted for doing something we weren’t supposed to do ( which in my particular case might have been often).
4. I Think We’re Alone Now – Tiffany. There just might be a dance routine to this one ….that I still remember. I’m so glad there was no such thing as you tube back then.
5. You’re the Inspiration–Chicago. I think this particular tape was in heavy rotation in the intermediate dorm. I’m also pretty sure that a counselor broke it(intentionally) somewhere around week2. I still have a soft spot for Chicago though.
6. Piece of Glass – Caedman’s Call. A particularly weepy and good devotional.
7. I Got A Man – Positive K. Yep, I knew every word and was happy to sing every single one of them all the way into town for Senior Day Out.
8. Mother, Mother – Tracy Bonham. Never underestimate how loud a van full of teenage girls can scream.
9. Red Neck Girl – Oakridge Boys, How Bizarre – OMC, Song2-Blur, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cindy Lauper. The wake up track summer ’98.
10. Just Remember – Sister Hazel. The Mo theme song.
And of course this list wouldn’t be complete without a few campfire songs: Linger (my personal favorite), Lord of the Dance, and One Tin Soldier.

(and I am going to try scan and upload some old camp pics so check back later ....but don't hold your breath....i mean refer to the bad video i posted the other day if you need proof of my tech skills)

altered

Altar calls always make me cringe.
Which then makes me feel guilty.
Which makes me wonder if I should be mouthing along. Just in case.
It is a vicious cycle.

This week our Sunday School class finished up a video study we are doing.
The study was good. The story powerful and the speaker polished.
Even if her bright orange overcoat matched the exact shade of her hair and she was occasionally a little too kitschy for me. She made a lot of good points. Had an amazing story and had made me think and occasionally cry over the last few weeks. But her altar call made my eyes glaze over. I tried to tune her out and not get irritated.

She said the usual verses, leading in of course with John 3:16.
She even threw out the classic, “If you died tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity” card.

And very eloquently laid it all out and asked the audience and viewers to follow along.
And I couldn’t help but think, isn’t there more than that.
More than escaping hell.
More than some perfectly crafted prayer or plan of salvation.

I wanted her to talk about love. Or peace. Or justice. Or that the kingdom is now.
Right in front of us.
Or extravagant grace.
You know, the things Jesus talked about.
I don’t exactly remember him asking his disciples to repeat after him.
Or walking them down the Roman Road.

And I probably should tell you that I became a Christian at one of those alter calls.
It was Junior High church camp one of the last nights.
I think it was the lure of some bad Christian band.
But I went forward.
I copied their formula prayer and it felt good. Holy even.
I also said that same prayer at least a half dozen more times at retreats or youth events throughout highschool.
Just to be sure it took of course.
But I don’t think it was that one single moment that changed where I would spend eternity. It was that one plus a thousand others.
And more importantly it changes how I live, not just where I will go after I die.

I don’t ever remember not going to church or not believing in Jesus.
Yes, there have been moments where I have chosen more. Made promises and commitments and taken leaps and jumps.
And there have also been moments where I moved backwards and sideways.
And times where I got really comfortable and refused to go anywhere at all.

No matter where I was.
On the right track, the wrong one or kneeling at an altar,
I was always His.
Even before junior high church camp.
Even if I had never wandered down an aisle.
What matters most is that I have been slowly stumbling closer to Him ever since.

This post is part of bigger picture blogs..........and attempt to find the bigger picture in our crazy week and look for faith along the way. Check out some of the other posts here.

Bigger Picture Moment

nine years in the making (plus a special behind the video bonus)

First let me apologize profously for the sappiness and poor poor quality of this video. I could write an entire blog post (and I think I will) on the making of this video even though it may appear to have taken a 2 year old 10 minutes. It took me the better part of the day. Come to think of it, maybeI should have asked my kids for help. They can work my cell phone and the DVD player better than me (ages 5 and 1). More importantly is the why behind it, and then I will continue with the apologies. First, today is my anniversary. 9 years. Almost a decade of being married. and I looked through a lot of pictures today for the making of this horrible video. And sobbed almost every time I shot it. Even though it took at least two dozen shoots. We look like babies in the pictures. Because maybe at 23 we kind of were. But somehow in all of our immaturity and wrinkle free skin we seemed to make a pretty great decision. And a great pair. A few days ago one of my friends posted a blog about the things she would change about her wedding. And i'm gonna be honest, there aren't too many things I'd change about mine. Particuarly not the groom. I loved my wedding day. And I won't pretend that it has been 365X9 days of bliss, but it has been pretty great. And i'm still a little shocked he picked me.


One thing I do regret is that I don't have a video of the day or even a fancy wedding album. And although my parents did spring for an amazing photographer, all we have to show for it are a big box of proofs.

I'm not sure you can hear it ( if you decided to suffer through the video), but the song playing in the background is actually my brother playing a song he wrote and sung at our wedding (and my sister's). I love it and it makes me weepy every time i hear it. And no, he isn't some famous singer or songwriter....just a cpa in Houston. But feel free to make him an offer (or have him do your taxes).

Behind the video.
I really wanted to do this as a surprise for my husband. Today. Mainly because the 10dollar tackle box in the back of my car is a pretty crappy gift. And because he did so good for my birthday. And again, because I'm still sometimes surprised that he picked me.
But I am so technically challenged. Really it is amazing i know how to post a blog at all. And I realize that scanning these photos in and playing the song in the background may have been much easier on the eyes....but i don't actually know how to work the scanner and who has that kind of time.
I do know how to work the flip video (barely) and figured I could just old school it.
But first I had to find the cd of my brother.......which was up in the attic. Which is another blog post all in itself. I can spend days going through my old cds.
Next I had to sort through all my photos, and I am pretty easily distracted and got a little carried away looking at pictures, meaning when I realized it was time to get the kids ready for swim lesson both my kids were covered in marker. And not the washable kind that just wipes off either.
So I scrubbed as much of the marker off as I could, hit the pool and ran some errands and came home to edit my masterpiece.
And the flip video was too fuzzy to even make out the pictures.

On to plan B.
So I find the old sony handycam and went at it. The images were much crisper. And it had a zoom which was kind of fun to play with. My third take through I ran out of disc space. I wasn't sure they even made these little DVDs anymore but thought I'd see if I could find some anyways.
Which only means one thing: Target. So after buying icees and popcorn for everyone we eventually we found the mini DVDs.
Which means they do still make them, and are proud of them price wise, although I can't figure out why because I now know that they are pretty useless (more on this later). It took me a few times to get the pictures facing the right way and the timing down....and have a shoot that didn't include a screaming kid (ok this one might). But I finally had it.
Or at least what I deemed good enough. (and I use that phrase loosley). All I needed to do was upload it.
Apparently there is ZERO way to get the video from that little dvd onto the computer.
I'm sure there really is and that it is totally simple but my dvd drive didn't recognize it and google wasn't much help. Neither were the 2 techincal savvy friends I called nor my husband who is now starting to wonder what the hell I am up too. So if you know how please do not tell me in the comment section. Really. I don't want to know the simple easy solution. I absolutely do not want to know that I wasted the better portion of my afternoon in vain.


So, plan C (or D) and take 27 -- I used the flip video to record the actual video off the TV. Sadly even this took multiple shoots.
Horrible I know.
And the house is trashed because my sweet children ran crazy while I made this really crappy video. Or video of a video of me flipping through some pictures, if you want to be technical.

It's the thought that counts right? I sure hope so. And happy anniversary, Shaun. I love you the best.



a short jog





So maybe July in Texas isn’t the best time to start running again.
But I have never been confined by logic,
So lately,
My Nikes which have been on hiatus for a while are getting a workout.
Just last week they still looked shiny and new even though I’ve had them for months.

I used to run.
I’m not really sure how that started either.
One Spring break I was broke, most of my friends were either out of town or weren’t lucky enough to get Spring Break and my husband was on the road for business.
So I decided that I was going to run a marathon that week.
Not like in an actual race.
Just that in the next 7 days I was going to run 26.2 miles.
And I did.
Which was kind of dumb idea for a beginner.

The first day I ran 3.75 miles. And my legs felt like jelly.
The next day I ran another 3.75 miles and prided myself on how not too miserably sore I was.
And on the third day, I wasn’t sure I could even get out of bed.
But I ran my 3.75 miles anyways.
I finished my 26.2 miles that week and kept running.
I felt happier than normal (and I’m usually pretty happy).
My thighs stopped rubbing together and even though I was pounding the pavement for long stretches of time everyday I had more energy.
In other words, all that crap they say about exercise is apparently true.
And a few months later I ran a half marathon.
My time was nothing to be proud of, but I finished without walking or stopping and I felt like super woman.
But then I decided I deserved a break.
And it hasn’t ever been the same since.

Not running only made me not want to run more.
Even though I missed being skinny and happy and not always so tired.

Unlike my mountain biking phase, and my scrapbooking phase, and my guitar playing phase,
This is a phase that I continually come back to every few months.
Occasionally I sign up for a race and train for a bit,
Or run consistently for a stretch.
But I am usually disheartened.
I remember when I could run for hours and curse myself for sucking wind after 5 minutes.

It is easy to quit.
It is easy to say that I will run tomorrow instead.

But for some reason, maybe boredom again.
I laced up my shoes last week.
I set the bar low.
I told myself I’d just go for a short jog.
1 mile. Maybe less. I consoled myself with the fact that anything would be better than nothing.
I couldn’t find my ipod, which I thought meant it would be a really short run.
And before I even got off the driveway it started misting.

But I ran anyways.
Even when the rain started coming down pretty hard.
And I ran 2 miles instead of just 1.

And it felt so good, that a few hours later I ran again.
That night I puked. ( maybe that had something to do with the second martini……but I also blame the shock to my body)
I ran the next day too.

I am not signed up for any kind of race (at least not til September).
I am not on any crazy diet (although I probably should be).
I am just running because I am tired of being tired.
And the refreshing ache in my thighs and calves feels like a welcome old friend.

And today.
It was so hot, so I told myself…just a short jog.
Just 1 mile. Just 10 minutes.
And again I ran 2.

At some point.
I turned off my ipod.
And just listened.
Lately, my thoughts have been so noisy.
And suddenly all I could hear was my shoes hitting the pavement.
My lungs struggling to breathe and my heart working just a little too hard.
Somehow I had managed to run faster than all the noise.
And I jogged home in my sweaty silence.

back

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Last week my in-laws had the kids.
It was a nice break.
I got to do things I don’t normally do.
I went to a movie without talking animals.
I went to breakfast, lunch and dinner with friends.
I slept until 9:30 am. (I don’t think that has happened in over 5 years).
Me and the husband just decided to go to Dallas for dinner. Just like that. Without having to try and find a sitter or pack a diaper back.
I watched a DVD all the way through without being interrupted.
I read like 5 books. Probably more.
I had my eyebrows threaded for the first time (and cried like a baby).
I ate sushi twice.
I napped.
I sat in one of those squishy chairs at Barnes and Noble and read a book that I had no intention of buying.
I made dinner for just me and my husband. And it was stuff I knew my kids wouldn’t eat.
I went downtown almost everyday and handed out cold drinks.
One of my best friends treated me to pedicure.
No one wiggled their way into my bed at 2 am.
Got an allergy test ( 80 needles in my back, not fun).
Had a fun girls night with some of my best friends (again, wendy, sorry about your car).
I stayed up really late almost every night.
I went for a few good runs.

Some things I didn’t do that I should have:
Cleaned my room.
Cleaned my kids rooms. (I could say this about every room of the house, but I think you get the idea).
Unpacked.
Got some work done ( ok, it is summer but I still have a few school things to take care of).
Finished my defensive driving course.
Went to the doctor or dentist.
And probably about a dozen other responsible things.

In other words I had a good week.
But.
Especially when I went to bed and night and went I woke up in the morning.
The house was too quiet.
I missed my kids.
Their giggles. Their smell and even their incessant needs like a bath and another juice box. I did nice grown up things, but it still didn’t feel like summer because I wasn’t dragging my kids to the pool and the science museum and wiping the blue snow cone off their face (and yes, mine too). One morning I literally wondered longingly, how long it had been since I changed a diaper.

So yesterday, when we hit the road again to pick them up.
I drove too fast.
I didn’t stop when I was hungry.
I went straight to them.

And my son smiled big and wide and was even cuter than I remembered.
And my daughter had new freckles and her face seemed rounder and she knows like 20 new words.

And even though they fought and whined most of the drive back
And the fact that I slept miserably last night, due to a certain little girl who kept waking me up and elbowing me in the face.
And even though my house was already messy, it was pure disaster within minutes of their return.
And even though my little girl was already fond of saying “no” she has now progressed to saying “no way!”
I am grateful for the noise and the mess and the kisses and the snuggles and even a few dirty diapers.

The Friday Playlist posing as a book review (but I promise there is a playlist!)


My friend Tina runs blog tours (and takes amazing photos, makes mac and cheese from scratch and brews my favorite cup of coffee in the metroplex).
I like to read and I have a blog. I also really like free books.
So it is a match made in heaven. (A very caffienated heaven).

Except for the fact that book reviews, or the grown up version of a book reports, always kind of stress me out.
I think you are supposed to talk about what the book is about and the author, but really the back cover usually does a pretty good job of that.
You are supposed to give your own “critique” of the book. But I think this girl with a blog who doesn’t know when to properly use a comma shouldn’t really make reccomendations or complaints to someone who has actually published a book and actually uses spell check.

I also think most book reviews sound a little too comercially.
So instead, I usually just try to write something somehow related to the book and then plug it at the end, because I did get a free copy after all (thank you Zondervan).

So as I read this book ( Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans) I formulated my blog post in my head. I had a catchy title and a good intro and the overall main idea. I wasn’t really sure where I was going after that…..but I’m sure it would wrap up cleverly.

And then I got to the last chapter of Rachel’s book (and no, we aren't really on first name terms but after reading her book and blog I kind of feel like we should be).
And it was essentially my blog post.
She had beat me to it and said it better.

But since I don’t feel like writing a book report or doing a canned interview. You’ll have to read my version anyways.
However, I’d like to suggest you read hers. After reading the first 20 chapters of course. Because like I said, (and it is worth repeating), she says it better.

Three Little Words ( that was going to be my catchy title).

I’m sure it’s just not me, but a lot of people have a hard time saying those three words too. It ranks right up there with I'm sorry.
I’m not sure if I am afraid of being vulnerable or what people think of me but I usually struggle to get those words out.
Sometimes I even make things up, usually on accident, so I don’t have to say them.
Sometimes when a student or friend asks me a question, I’ll catch myself making up an answer. Or plausible answer. What I think maybe the answer could be.
Because really the truth is.
I don’t know.
Yep those three little words.

And I’ve gotten better about giving friends wrong directions and students misinformation and just telling them the truth.
That I don’t know and will have to look it up.
Thank God for google.

But when it comes to my heart and my faith.
We are supposed to know what we believe.
With certainty. And why we believe it. And why I do certain things and don’t do others. Why we are more right than you. Why my cause is more important and my candidate is better.
And sometimes I do.
I know a few things with certainty.
The important things.
But that list is shrinking.
Quickly.
And it has left me feeling a bit unraveled.
A little bit naked.
And a lot confused.
And the answers to those kinds of questions are never as straight forward as an engine search.

Please don’t go adding me to your prayer list or scheduling me an appointment with your therapist.
I’m alright. Mostly.
I’m just having to say “I don’t know” a lot.
And am slowly learning to be a little more comfortable with that.
Because those few things I know with certainty are big enough for questions and evaluations and don’t always need clear cut answers.
Love is apparently even bigger than google.

(So a little more on the book, in case you want to read it. Which I highly suggest, although I think it should come with a warning label. Because I ended up with a lot more questions and headaches that I had when I started the book. And it must be said that it really isn’t about evolution and monkeys at all, although as a science teacher that might be a book I’d read anyways. Instead it is more about the undoing of author’s fundamentalism. Her own unraveling and the overall evolution of her faith. A faith that grows and changes and adapts in order to survive.

I’m willing to give up my copy. But it comes with a price. If you get my copy you have to be willing to have a conversation about it. Via email or over coffee. Because I have a few questions …….

And one of the best things about this book….it comes with it’s own playlist (with artists I love!). So instead of me writing my own Friday playlist, just go check out hers here.

And some other websites that I should tell you about or my friend Tina will get mad at me.
Rachel's website and blog. Which I have actually been reading since I read this post back in January.
And where you can buy the book on Amazon.
And if you are so inclined... her facebook, twitter and the rest of the other bloggers on this tour.

And really, go check out that playlist...

a cool drink of water

I hand him his ice cold drink and smile and look him in the eye.
Even though I don’t even know his name.
He tells me that I’m doing a good thing.

He has seen me down here most days this week.
Dragging my blue cooler along behind me full of water and juice and sodas.
Handing them out freely to the men and women melting into the sidewalks down on East Lancaster Street.
Some are napping. Some are talking in groups. Some are smoking and some are doing things I don’t even want to know about.
It usually only takes me minutes to empty my cooler.

I’m not really sure how to respond to my new friend.
Because I want to do something good I suppose.
I want to at least do something.
Even though 95% of the time I am content sitting on the couch.
Reading.
Blogging.
Checking facebook.

So I just kind of stand there staring into his face for a minute.
And he repeats it.
“You are doing a good thing here. You are a good person.”
And I tell him, “No, I’m really not.”
No one really is.
As a matter of fact I’m hung over.
I’m tired.
I’m often unkind and ungracious.
I started my day having to make apologies for the night before.
I’m wrestling with some of my judgments and motivations.
I have had the entire week off without my kids (that I miss terribly) and haven’t even managed to unpack from my trip.
So I repeat that last part.
“No, I’m not good. I just managed to get off the couch.”
And he laughed and said he had a hard time doing that himself.
Even though his couch was just a concrete slab with the teensiest bit of shade.
And he leaned back far and sipped his cool drink.
Let out a good sigh and wiped his brow.
And assured me that “God would bless me.”
And I said I hope so.
And that I think he just did.



(This post is part of a project going on over at bigger picture blogs....and this week hosted by one of my favorite bloggers corrine.)
Bigger Picture Moment