Monthly Archives: March 2010

circle yes or no

We’re talking about relationships at PowerLife tomorrow night (friendships in particular, from the looks of the curriculum, but I’ve already gone ahead and asked a panel of married/engaged adults to serve as a panel) and I’ve been spending this afternoon reading about middle school dating (courtesy of a couple google searches) and wishing I could do that outside.

What’s sad is that most of the hits besides parenting websites (which I am finding to be somewhat useful) are “ask” sites where middle school students ask questions to the void about the boy or girl they really like and if it’s okay to date him or her and what that means and how to deal with break-ups, etc.  The open nature of the Internet allows other kids to reply, and I am shaking my head in disbelief at the advice that’s been handed down by “sage” wisdom from the 8th grade (or high school).  What sorts of examples these answerers have had to draw such sad conclusions, I can’t imagine.

Perhaps the most disappointing find was an adult’s query about her 13 year old daughter and her friend’s 14 year old son who had dated for a year and ended the relationship suddenly.  She wrote as though she had expected the relationship to last forever (along the lines of “how do we get them back together”).  Really?  I’m torn between being glad she is involved in her daughter’s life enough to talk about the relationship, but isn’t that much involvement a bit too extreme?  Can we consider that the purpose of middle school dating isn’t even the same as high school, which isn’t necessarily even the same as college and beyond?

I applaud the encouragement of healthy relationships that some of the parenting articles suggest; not really awkward 1-on-1 romantic dates but sort of task or goal oriented outings…perhaps going to a science museum as a family and sending the kiddos on a mission by themselves to get them talking…or invitations to family gatherings, or group hanging out.

When Jesus was 12, he was spending his extra time at the Synagogue (okay, that might have just been the one instance during Passover when his parents couldn’t find him…but I suspect his relationship with God was persistently a priority)…so when we ask the telltale “What Would Jesus Do” in respect to middle school dating, what can we conclude?  I hope to emphasize God-honoring relationships of all kinds (especially friendships–middle school can be a critical friend-circle decision time).  It’s hard for me to visualize Jesus as a 12 year old.  This is a representation I found in a church I went to for day camp last summer (no hard feelings if you drew it or really admire it…it’s just so feminine and Caucasian…)

Supposedly Jesus at age 12. Mercy.

I’m going to circle yes for the question:  Do I need a carwash?  Might go take care of that now. 🙂

an ode to harlan’s

Harlan’s, thank you.

You are my local store.

You carry a surprising variety of food.

For instance:

hummus (well, you did once)

ravioli (maybe you could get the cheese kind?)

a fancy spinach, artichoke hearts, and parmesan dip (which I bought today and which expired yesterday).

and the staples like bread, cheese, milk, and frozen dinners.

except I don’t buy your frozen dinners (sorry).

Don’t let me forget the quick-sale items (like the solid whipping cream I bought for 50 cents–that’s butter!).

I don’t mean to come across as complaining,

because I think you’re really great.

Your clerks are nice and helpful

and you sell ripe bananas at reduced prices (hello, banana bread!)

It was really a pleasure to return to your aisles again

after a long absence.

I’m not really sure how you come up with your prices,

but today I noticed the better economy of buying the bigger  box of wheat thins.

That made me feel smart.

I suspect you did that so I would feel smart.

So thanks for that.

I hope you stay in business for a long time.

You’re swell.

[funny]

I really wanted to write something funny today.  A gut-busting laugh would be great, you know?

The only trouble is that I can’t really give you comedic timing in writing.  I’m not the funniest joke teller (I can get on a roll…just ask my kind audience of recharge attenders this fall), but sometimes the timing just works out so that the normal-ish thing I say is met with laughter.  That warms my heart.

I’ll leave you with a joke I found on the Internet.  It didn’t even evoke a groan, sadly, except for my stomach rumbling because it’s lunch time.

Who invented fractions ?

Henry the 1/8 !

inhale

The first day of spring is this Saturday, but you could have fooled me this afternoon.  This was the best day of winter that we’ve had so far!!  It was apparently close to 60 degrees today, so my gal pals from church and I bought some chalk and went at it in a local park.

gabby's artwork with some shadow fun.

this got cut off a bit.

It was so nice to be outside enjoying the sunshine.  There were tennis courts nearby which made me totally nostalgic for tennis in high school (even though I also remember kind of dreading the occupation of my after-school time with practices…not to say it wasn’t fun, but it was a shift).

This weekend was such a refreshing one (and an extended one) with the addition of a much loved sister, some sweet family time and fellowship with awesome friends.  That’s where the inhale title comes from.  But as I was getting going this morning, I cringed to realize that when I am inhaling like this, when things are sunny and good (even though it was rather misty and cold to start out the day), I’m not always quick to breathe in God’s goodness and exhale praise and thanksgiving.  Chalk that up (ha, oops) to my false perception of self-reliance or even the mixed up schedule/routine that I have been enjoying while staying at my dad’s house, but the excuses don’t really cover it.

So may I encourage you to breathe out Praise of His Name as often as you breathe in His goodness?  That’s my task for the night/week/month/forever…

As a side note, I’m looking forward to a quiet WEDNESDAY night at home.  I had a couple because of snow and Christmas break, but still.  It’s a rare occasion to be delighted in and treasured.  There’s always homework, I suppose…but it is what it is!! 😀

I hope you got outside tonight.  Maybe I’ll squeeze in a walk around [hopefully not soggy] camp tonight, too.  Ye-ah!

out of the corner of my eye

On my way to Ames this morning, I turned to head south and out of the corner of my eye I noticed something I had not seen before (and it would turn out I just didn’t remember seeing it):

a cornfield.  It’s been covered in snow for so long that I forgot that was what it was.  I had a double-take moment and actually had empathy for folks who look at Karen and I like that because we look alike.  Crazy.

And then, as I was driving from Ames after discipling this morning, similarly something caught my eye alongside the Interstate:

grass.

It was odd to my eyes.  My brothers, this should not be :).  The snow is melting a lot, but wow.  You know you’re pathetic when the grass looks foreign and it’s March 11th already.

Dinner time…and baking.  I’m thinking I might try a MIllionaire’s Shortbread Bars recipe (I had a Millionaire’s Shortbread trifle in Cornwall with V once that was to die for…wow).  Peace, y’all.

Cornwall

I left Iowa for Cornwall, England a year ago today.  I think about how much I was required to grow on that day and through the 11 weeks of my stay and I wonder how long some of that would have taken to do apart from such a trip.

Last night I looked at a photo album I compiled (in a horrendously sporadic order, but I’ve already penciled in captions, so I hate to move them around) and concluded that when it is spring I will always think of Cornwall.  The spring there is lovely, lots of vibrant green and bright colored flowers, the smell of the sea air and the gorgeous gardens.  Even the rainy/misty days (which there were plenty of, though not until I had been there for 3 weeks or so, which amazed my hosts) were pleasant.  You’d have to scrape a slug off the side of your milk carton in the morning (the milk was delivered), but it was a lot warmer, so the rain wasn’t so bad.

I might bake some scones (towering scones, naturally) tonight after work.  Or shortbread.  I have one package left of my Fox Creme biscuits (which were “best by” June 2009, sadly), so I might bust those out with some Tetley and remember coming to Penair from the train station for an adorable setting of tea and biscuits, my first food in the country and first meal since the plane trip.

Not much else to write.  Just a bit nostalgic.  Have a good Thursday!

pea soup.

This song came on the radio appropriately during my drive home tonight.  I was feeling pretty overwhelmed about stuff mostly pertaining to the uncertain future which was especially reinforced by the oppressive fog which made my drive from Ames to camp harrowing and short-sighted.

Let The Waters Rise

Mikeschair

Don’t know where to begin
Its like my world’s caving in
And I try but I can’t control my fear
Where do I go from here?

sometimes its so hard to pray
When You feel so far away
But I am willing to go
Where you want me to
God, I trust You

There’s a raging sea
Right in front of me
Wants to pull me in
Bring me to my knees
So let the waters rise
If You want them to
I will follow You
I will follow You
I will follow You

I will swim in the deep
‘Cuz You’ll be next to me
You’re in the eye of the storm
And the calm of the sea
You’ll never out of reach

God, You know where I’ve been
You were there with me then
You were faithful before
You’ll be faithful again
I’m holding Your hand

The lyrics are slightly cheeseball (the swimming in the ocean verse with the ‘cuz instead of ’cause line–that’s annoying), but the last chunk (bridge?  I don’t remember) rang true, bits of the chorus and the first verse.  I don’t know anything about life beyond this summer and my habit is to worry, to be anxious, to doubt God’s faithfulness.  He has proved to be faithful time and time again in my life, especially the last couple years, with or without my acknowledgment.  I mentioned the fog because it was a tangible metaphor (I nearly made its status as a metaphor a simile by adding “like a” to metaphor)…I couldn’t see a thing and it made the drive really scary.  [I got here safely, but it was white-knuckle driving.]   I think that worry in the face of fog is like high beams, or worse like the low beams I used tonight which reflect off the dense fog and make visibility even worse.  It’s like I spotlight a fear with my energy and attention so that it gets blown out of proportion and it’s that much easier for me to doubt.

In other news, I had a fantastic one-on-one with a mildly decent café au lait from Café Diem on the side.  I think I was born for one-on-one ministry.  Either that or I’m finding a niche with it.  What if I did that all day instead of any paperwork?  Mmm.  Good luck finding people (students especially) available during the day.  I’d have to work nights.  That’s what I intended to do tonight, before the squinty-eye weariness set in from the drive home.  I might go to my private cabin #2 and meditate on the finer points of “don’t steal and don’t lie” for my talk tomorrow.  What’s crazy is that they are so obvious that the kids know better…my goal is to talk about it in such a way that they find inspiration for not lying or stealing in any capacity for the glory of God…that His name would be praised by the way their lives honor Him.  More than anything, I pray the Spirit would lead both preparation and dialogue tomorrow night.

I better head out and get some rest, though.  ‘night.

squeaky clean

Last Friday I had the opportunity to clean Private Cabin #2 pretty thoroughly.  Everything but the shower and the bathroom floor…and I totally could have done those too, but I’d spent 2 hours cleaning and was ready for a little sit down before the marriage retreat at camp started.

I don’t know if this is the same for anyone else, let alone everyone, but one of my criteria for a good laundry detergent is that the scent sticks with the clothes that you wash as you wear them.  Today I am basking in the success of my particular detergent/softener selection as I can really smell it.  Bath and Body Works has a scent called Sea Cotton Breeze which reminds me of laundry-scent.  Kind of an unusual skin-scent, but pleasant nonetheless.

I’m kind of thinking along the lines of the aroma of Christ as I breathe in the clean scent.  Here’s 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? 17Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.

It’s a really fitting illustration of our “cleanliness” and “righteousness” in Christ alone…it’s not hard to imagine that aroma being pleasing to God, and it’s also something which I can see drawing people in (hence fragrance of life).  I don’t really get the smell of death part…is that the offended folks?  The blasphemers of the Spirit who reject salvation?

Verse 17 has stood out to me before too, and I think its timing is appropriate.  Confirmation day is coming up for our 8th graders and I don’t want to fall into the trap of peddling the Gospel.  I read a kind of hard-to-follow chapter from Blue Like Jazz where Donald Miller related a story of his teaching in a college ministry setting that was more or less fake peddling and then how he came to a point of being real with God again, and though I am far from enjoying the kudos and “success” of my Bible teaching ventures (this is something to be pleased about, especially in this context), I want so badly for them to get it, to own it, to claim it that I nearly forget that it isn’t my job to sell the Gospel to them.

I came to the office today to do some work for Perspectives before braiding some hair…but the talk isn’t online yet for the session I missed.  I did other stuff, but I have an hour to fill.  Hmm.  Should have brought a book with me.  Or my homework.  🙂

happy monday to you, regardless.

Free At Last

Freedom Is Here

The future comes alive
You speak Your word and I
I’m running into Your hope
Because I’ve seen Your light
You bring my world to life
I’m coming after You love

I’m not shaken
I’m not letting go

And everything comes alive
In my life as we lift You higher
Let Your freedom arise
In our lives as we lift You up
Sing it out
Sing it out
Your freedom is here

So take the limits off
No matter what the cost
I’m running after Your call
And I will run this race
See You face to face
So let Your power overflow

I will not fear
I will not hide You love
You love
All of my life
I cannot deny Your love
Your love

I was making coffee today and the slavery to sin was heavy on my mind.  I’ve been absolutely chained to one or two areas (manifested in innumerable examples of bitterness and anger…the opposite of the love to which we are called) of sin and the thought occurred to me that I could really relinquish that to Jesus and abolish the slavery by His power.  So I asked for it.  I don’t know if my heart was “in a different place” or if I had finally acknowledged my need to give up, but I gave it up and felt the bondage totally lift.  The song above was in my head shortly after that (by Hillsong…I didn’t write it!) and it’s been stuck ever since.

In Romans 6, Paul talks a ton about slavery to sin and to righteousness, and I haven’t had my quiet time yet so I can’t tell you that I’ve chewed on this chunk or rolled it around for a while, but I’m going to include it anyway.

(v.15)What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

I’ve been set free, and it’s beautiful.

I also had some of the best leftovers a girl ever had for lunch, too.  I got to take part in a super sweet meal with a family from Cornerstone last night, and I was blessed to be in a household of people who love the Lord and live like it.  Not to say I haven’t been in houses like that before, it’s just something that you can’t really get enough of.  Kind of like the meal we had.  Not even sure what it was called (besides it being from Senegal), but it was excellent yesterday and today.  What’s not to love about caramelized onions though? 🙂

Get outside and enjoy the sunshine.  If we get off a little early today, that’s what I hope to do (although I have some serious need for the completion of Perspectives homework o.O).  Peace 🙂