Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Simple Pleasures

After the CCPC meeting yesterday, I braved the Cambridge traffic (the choice was that traffic or the tunnel traffic) and stopped by my favorite grocery store (yes, I have a favorite grocery store) for fabulous cheap wine (Charles Shaw--3 Buck Chuck), perfect fresh bread, and other fantastic odds and ends. This wonderful store is Trader Joe's and I love it. Unfortunately there are always so many people in there that it's hard to browse. I would probably spend hundreds of dollars there if I actually had the chance to comb every square inch of the store.

The bonus of yesterday's trip was finding my holy grail of beer--Magic Hat Circus Boy. I've heard tell of this beer all summer. I couldn't find it anywhere. And there it sat at Trader Joe's across the aisle from my favorite 3 Buck Chuck shiraz. I waited until tonight to try one so it would be suitably chilled. It's a nice hefeweizen, hoppier than Harpoon's UFO (erstwhile my favorite beer). I'm not sure if Circus Boy has replaced UFO, but it's in the running. I'll have to do some more tasting...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

up late for no apparent reason...

...again. it's not that i've become an insomniac, but i've so irreparably tweaked my sleep schedule that i'm up to 1am just about every night. i faithfully set the alarm for 8:30am each morning, but i just snooze through it and get up at 11am unless i have something important to do in the morning. 10 hours of sleep. i always thought that was the amount i needed and now i know for sure. that's a whole lotta sleep. for what? to sit on the sofa and at my computer table? totally lame. maybe i'll sleep less if i work out more. hmmm....that's another experiment....

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tears of the Saints

Check out this band Leeland. The lyrics to their song Tears of the Saints has been getting to me for the last week.

There are many prodigal sons
On our city streets they run
Searching for shelter
There are homes broken down
People's hopes have fallen to the ground
From failures

This is an emergency!

There are tears from the saints
For the lost and unsaved
We're crying for them come back home
We're crying for them come back home
And all your children will stretch out their hands
And pick up the crippled man
Father, we will lead them home
Father, we will lead them home

There are schools full of hatred
Even churches have forsaken
Love and mercy
May we see this generation
In it's state of desperation
For Your glory

This is an emergency!

Sinner, reach out your hands!
Children in Christ you stand!
Sinner, reach out your hands!
Children in Christ you stand!

And all Your children will stretch out their hands
And pick up the crippled man
Father, we will lead them home
Father, we will lead them home

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Raison D'Etre, Confirmation, and The Monastery

Since my career shift I've struggled more with my tendencies to be a doer and dismiss resting in God's presence. I just plain struggle with silence, rest, and waiting for the moving of the Holy Spirit. I'm nearly being forced to do just that. I can watch only so much TV and sleep late so many days before my appetite for those things ebbs. I have come to the end of myself making ministry here happen. I've come to the end of my plans for the vision God has for my life.

A couple weeks ago a friend prayed over me. Last weekend I retreated to nature. This week I had opportunities to share the love of God with people both with words and actions. If I didn't have this time on my hands, I don't think those opportunities would have arisen. They did not come from me, nor did the words. Sitting at the Justin McRoberts concert the other night, I had the profound recognition that this season is the Spirit being poured out over me. This is my time to soak in His Presence.

I went to church tonight and spent a great evening with Rob, Carissa, & Michelle. It flowed naturally and wasn't forced into a certain mold. A beautiful thing. I drove Michelle home and on the way she said how thankful she was for me being a part of our church. I wasn't expecting that at all and feel unworthy of it. It seems that I really am worshipping in the right place.

The capper of the evening was seeing the premiere of a new TLC series call the Monastery. It follows several men who join a cloister in the New Mexico desert for 40 days and nights. They are not just visitors here--they complete the same routine as the monks living in the monastery. The men run the gamut of spiritual and personal backgrounds. The common element between them in the episode was the struggle to practice silence as the monks do. Over and over the monks encouraged them in this practice, assuring them that it is necessary to hear God. I agree with them...I want to see more of this show.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Blog #100 OR Clear Dark Night

I spent my evening as a babysitter last night for the first time since our church hosted the 40 Days of Purpose small groups. I watched 7 kids myself then--2 of whom were huge handfuls on their own. I was so happy when those 2 hours were over each week. No wonder why I quit babysitting...

So I kept the 4 boys my dear friend Angela nannies (can this be a verb?) the rest of the week. Their parents jaunted off to Paris for a long weekend and Angela had sitters covering a lot of the time that she doesn't usually work. I knew she had a big catering event for the Boston Faith and Justice Network, and needing a few bucks of my own, I offered my services. First of all, their schedules are maddening: play dates here, cross country there, soccer practice even though it's raining, baseball pizza parties...and this was only one night! (At least the baby was uncomplicated--he doesn't really talk and I was generally able to determine what he wanted. He responded when I said no and laughed when we were playing. Good times.) The boys are all between the ages of 12 and 1. There were 2 physical altercations during our time together, which doesn't surprise me since I've been around them enough, plus they are boys. They sorted those things out pretty well on their own. The last 3 hours together were actually nice and violence-free. We chatted politely over dinner, played some computer games, and read books. I enjoyed putting the 2 youngest ones to bed (although I do believe the 6 year old [Andrew] could talk the bark off a tree--I should get him in a room with one of my clients and see who would talk more). After I tucked him in, Andrew told me that I earned a reward. Being the behavior analyst that I am, I really wanted to know more about that reward. I earned a sticker for "being so nice." That was pretty cool.

Ang came home around 10. We chatted and watched some TV while eating leftover apple crisp. About midnight I walked out into the chilly autumn night to embark on my 30 minute ride home. The air felt really cold last night, reminding me that it's fall for real. As I rolled out onto the wide, nearly empty expanse of expressway, I saw a glittering black sky. Orion hung where I always used to see him when I didn't live in a region full of light polution. It was so clear and cold that those stars pressed in through the light. I breathed in the chill and rising heat of the radiator, remembering times laying on blankets in my childhood backyard, looking up at Orion, wondering about life. That hunter was there then and he's here now. He will probably still be there when I breathe my last. Comforting consistency in a world that moves so fast it trips on its own feet.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Grace Must Wound Before It Heals

The title of my blog is the same as Justin McRoberts' latest album. I want to chew on that phrase for a while. It comes from a quote by the author Flannery O'Connor, whom I want to add to my growing reading list....

Tonight I had the opportunity to attend my first house show. I felt like I had happened on some buried treasure upon discovering Justin McRoberts was coming to Marblehead. Totally random finding it, but that's how my life is right now. So I knew it was perfect.

A music-loving friend from my church couldn't make it, so I wavered between not going and begging Rosana to come. Rosana caved. Added to our happy band was her buddy Rebecca who lives in Marblehead. We were headed to a personal concert, conversation, and food. A killer combination.

I don't know if I can do the night justice. First of all, Marblehead is iconic New England. When you think of this area, this is what comes to mind. The architecture is truly amazing. Rosana and I enjoyed our drive in, continually remarking how we need to come back in the daytime to browse all the shops (and for me to take about 1000 pictures). We collected Rebecca and walked to the show from her house. Creeping along the quiet, seaside street, we glimpsed a lone sign pointing the way. We had arrived. The home was part of a duplex right on the water; a perfect combination of old New England, Martha Stewart, and Pottery Barn. (Rosana even remarked that she could see me living there...that was an incredible compliment.)

We were greeted immediately by the host, who ushered us in and introduced us to the few others who had already arrived. Hot mulled cider and fresh corn chowder awaited us in the perfect kitchen. We quickly met a few people and enjoyed chatting for a while. I spent most of my time talking with a Gordon College student named Maggie who came to the show on her own. I gave her props for that. My other buddy was Robin, a transplanted midwesterner from Minnesota who was recently married. The connection with both these women was immediate and we exchanged email addresses. I am looking forward to getting to know them better.

For those who don't know Justin's music, he's not blatantly "Christian" in his style or message. He is active in a myriad of social causes including the One Campaign and Compassion International. He isn't signed to a label so he can say and do what he wants. I have to admit that I admire that individualism. He does it in the right way--he's not an individualist just to be one, it has a purpose.

I got to know a lot more about him tonight through his stories. He's wickedly funny with a dry wit--totally my style. He has a passion for Christ that breaks the American Christian mold. He loves people. He can preach. He can rescue me from the bathroom when the door gets stuck (ask me about that one later).

Sitting there in that gorgeous old leather club chair, I let the music roll over me, hearing the crash of the waves behind me. Tonight was one of those much-cherished moments that God provides so graciously. I'm just happy to be here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Crunchy Granola

Well, I stayed up in NH at the condo until yesterday afternoon. It was pretty great to be where it's so quiet--you feel like you can actually breathe a little bit. I love the city, but it's nice to be able to drive a couple hours to the middle of nowhere (read: no Sprint service; ok, so that doesn't have to be the middle of nowhere). I'm not your regular crunchy granola girl and I don't enjoy camping out under the stars, but I have to say I've experienced God in the most profound ways through nature. It's just so much bigger than we are and we didn't do a thing to create it.

One of my favorite memories of the outdoors happened when I was in college. A friend dragged me out in the freezing cold one late November night to the middle of nowhere (this took about 10 minutes' drive from my campus). He somehow coaxed me onto this abandoned railroad bridge over a gorge. I'm just glad I couldn't fathom how high up we were when he told me because I couldn't see it. (You better believe I would have NEVER walked out there in the daytime.) It was a sacrifice I had to make for the view of the Leonid meteor shower. It was a really an amazing viewing year for that. I think we were out there for at least a couple hours, just watching and talking in the weighty quiet of the Pennsylvania forest.

Moments like that don't happen every time I'm in the midst of trees, but I'm happy to have them to remember and to have the hope of more in the future.

Being outdoors is like yoga for me. Just you, quiet, and your breath. Everything else that doesn't matter just falls away. So I have to ask myself, why don't I get in nature or do yoga more??

Sunday, October 15, 2006

New Hampshire

I've been in New Hampshire since yesterday afternoon and it's been interesting. Angela and her friend Jackie were here with me until about 4pm today. We wandered all over the area, taking scenic routes (which made me surprisingly carsick) up to the White Mountains. We checked out the remaining foliage, some amazing natural rock formations and historic covered bridges. I took a ton of pics, the best of which are posted here.

Sitting in this condo on Newfound Lake is balm to my soul. Being here makes me calm. I could be hanging out alone at my apartment just as well as I am here. But there's just something about getting away from your typical setting. I'm having the same old struggles with TV, internet, and phone as distractions, but I'm separating from that for the rest of tonight and tomorrow. I need to meditate on the Word, His creation, some things a friend said the other night, and just listen to God. I don't need to leave here until about 1pm tomorrow and I'm going to cherish this time. This is my fall retreat.

Monday, October 09, 2006

jesus camp

as a result of my newfound spontaneity, i spent the afternoon in the city, meeting with the women of the ccpc and then to an unplanned dinner-and-a-movie with an equally unplanned little group. having read about a new documentary entitled 'jesus camp,' i wanted to go. i knew it was going to be one of those naked depictions of a form of christianity that doesn't meld with what i know about the gospel, but i needed to go. i needed to sit in that theatre in the middle of cambridge and be uncomfortable. i needed to hear the reactions of the people in there. i needed to look at this representation of christianity from the outside.

what i learned was that you can edit anyone's comments to make them say anything, but you can't deny a lot of what was in the film. at points i was ashamed to also be called a christian. at points i felt mocked. at points i cheered in agreement with the film's commentary. it was a really important that i saw the film--it's always good to get pushed out of the cocoon and hear what our jargon sounds like to the world. i left the theatre wide-awake aware of the need to live out micah 6:8 and to cling closely to Christ and the way He related to the world.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

my existential crisis

i'm giving myself a lot of credit for calling my desert place an existential crisis, but it feels that way for now. in a few months (or years) when i'm well on the other side of the valley and can clearly see how God used this time, maybe i'll refer to it as something else. for now, it's still an existential crisis. it's hard for it not to be when one is buried under grieving over so much loss of various kinds. it's been a struggle to find my place and a vision. i've found it increasingly difficult to dream. that's not something that works out well when you are in boston to sew ministry with college students. i've been wrestling with God for the better part of the last month or so. it was happening before then too, but it's more obvious now.

i've been reading a lot, listening to sermons, getting back into the fabric of worship music i love, trying to pray, staying connected to the community that i have here. it's been a rough work this wrestling. i want so much to hear God's voice again.

tonight i pulled out louie giglio's sermon series lost in translation. the talk entitled 'left turns, detours, and the sovereign will of God' has always been one to speak to my heart. in it, louie leads us through the story of joseph from genesis and his personal story about how God led he and his wife from texas to atlanta. louie thought he was going to atlanta to help his mother care for his dying father, but his father passed on after the moving plans were made, but before they arrived. needless to say, louie and joseph can relate. despite that i've heard this talk at least 5 times, i knew i needed to hear it again: God's story is larger and different than what i perceive as my story right now; the right answer at any time is to do the right thing. what louie said at the very end of the talk is sticking with me. it's not profound, but something i need to hear every moment right now:
"I don’t have a roadmap to get you out of your hole. I don’t ever know how to get out of the holes I’m in. I just know that if I wait long enough, God reveals something and I go, 'I wouldn’t have chosen that, but thanks for letting me a part of the story.' He’s accomplishing something good when even to me it was meant to be evil. That’s a great and a sovereign God."

it's taking everything in me to praise Him as that great and sovereign God.

Friday, October 06, 2006


as many of you know, i've delved into the world of internet dating via eharmony. i've been a member since january '06 and had one date. it was a bomb. when my 6 month membership lapsed i decided not to renew. then i was convinced to extend 3 more months by a good deal they offered. so i continued. as of a few weeks ago i lost any enthusiasm for internet dating. i gave up on eharmony. but then i got a fantastic match a few days ago. this guy had all the credentials and wrote a witty profile. i was waiting to get a communication back and i decided to check my profile tonight. he closed the match, citing the reason "other." i am SO done with this. is being in a relationship worth this work and aggravation?

Monday, October 02, 2006


i can't believe it's october already. i've been wearing a coat most of the weekend. fall is here. i've been living in this apartment for over a year now. wow. time flies. a friend turned 30 yesterday. i turn 30 in less than 3 months. crap. where has my life gone? have i done as much as i should have by now? have i loved people as much as i should have? have i loved God as much as He wants me to? are these really the questions that have been furtively haunting my brain for the past few months? i still can't shake them off.

Micah 6:8 (The Message)
But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don't take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.