Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Runaways and Tattle-Tales

I was minding my own business tonight, just watching tv when I heard this noise. It sounded like a car speeding down my street and going too quickly over a bump. This happens sometimes, so I ignored it. Then Beth came home an hour and a half later. She knocked on my door, telling me to look outside. Well, that sound I heard was actually an SUV that drove straight through a chain link fence and into a car parked in the driveway at the end of our street. I have no idea how this happened, but it was interesting to watch the fire department try to free the SUV from the fence. I don't think anyone was hurt, which is good. But still not something you see every day in a quiet residential neighborhood!

In other neighborhood news...we tattled. We, the fed up tenants, told on the landlord. Last night, Beth and I re-read over some MA housing codes and determined how much she is out of line. So, today she called the Quincy housing inspection department and the inspector was here in less than half an hour. He found 9 violations with just the common areas and Beth's place. There's more if you add in my broken windows, leaky toilet, and a few others we thought of later. If she doesn't fix everything within 14 days the city will take her to court to force her to fix it all. It's nice to have the government on your side once in a while--I guess it's why I pay all those taxes.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Waking Life

I had this bizarre dream last night that all the apartments in our house were robbed and I caught the bumbling, stupid criminal. I caught the dude red-handed and put him in a one person wrap while screaming for Beth to call the cops. It was a really odd dream, but empowering at the same time.

My dreams have been quite vivid and odd lately. I pay attention when they're like that. I know God speaks through dreams--I just need the discernment to know what part is my crackheaded imagination, what part is my overanalysis, and what's Him. It makes me perk up when I've had several in a week that are so clearly remembered when they usually don't make it past those first few waking moments. Especially when they concern things God's spoken to me over the last several years. I need more than a clear memory of these things--I need the ability to separate the wheat from chaff.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Warp Speed

Caffeine + playing with 4 year olds + teaching an autistic 17 year old + maintaining a conversation with his dad = A brain that won't stop

Like my equation? That was my day today and it's driving me crazy that I can't chill out. Lord, please let me relax!

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Beauty of Random Thoughts

Is it weird to eat cereal for dinner at 11:30pm?

My new boiler has a nifty digital thermostat that came with it. I programmed every day of the week on it already. So, why does 68 degrees on the digital feel like 64 on the old analog version? I guess I wasn't really as hardy as I thought I was...

I spent money on clothes for the first time today since the beginning of November. That's really a record for me. Look at what a little financial strife and fear of credit card debt can do to a shopaholic! I spent less than $100 and got some good deals on several items. The cache included 2 pairs of jeans, which are needed since jeans are now my uniform. They get a lot of wear and more jeans means more time between the quarter-fest called laundry.

Does anyone else have trouble finding marshmallows at the grocery store? I wandered all over and eventually had to ask a clerk. I hate asking stupid questions to get junk food to make junk food. They live on a low shelf near the nuts in the baking aisle. They died in Rice Krispy Treats. Rice Krispy Treats that are somehow WAY too crispy. How did I mess that up??

I went to a comedy club for the first time last Saturday night. It was an improv place that's very small and the audience sits all around the stage. I had a great time and really want to go back. I'd like to say it's just for the comedy, but there's a hot guy in the show (hot + funny + smart = perfectly crushworthy) that I wouldn't mind seeing again. The place has a Myspace site that links to the comedians. He likes the stuff I like when it comes to movies, music, & some books. I stopped short of being a stalker by not friending him. At least I have some restraint.

The new boiler has made the radiators in my apartment loud. They made noise before, but not like this. Now I get full-on BANG knocking. It actually woke me up from at deep sleep at 3am. That is some feat. And yeah, it's really cold here. Like monumentally cold. So the loud radiators are here to stay. But at least I have heat!

Things I'm thankful for today:
-A free Amazon Prime trial
-Being done with stuff for my new client
-Kids at the temple
-Bread & Nutella
-Quarters from customer service at the grocery store
-Old Navy jeans that are long enough
-Random phone conversations
-Hanging out with Joey & Courtney tommorrow (I know that's cheating)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Hulking Corpses

Those of you who live in cold weather climates will empathize with me on this one...especially those of you who rent.

To begin with, my landlord and I don't have a great relationship, due to the fact that she has some slightly altered mental status (aka accusing me of weird stuff and drawing bizarre conclusions about situations), but this status doesn't touch me when I don't have to call her. Therefore, I only call her when I REALLY have to. Like when I have no heat and it's 20 degrees outside (before factoring in the windchill). The first call about heat was last year in February. What that blog didn't reveal was the landlord accusing me of causing the short in the safety by moving a radiator (that was supposedly leaking onto this 'safety' mechanism) so I could paint my kitchen without permission. Unfortunately said radiator is at least 15 feet from the spot above which the boiler resides and I also didn't move it while painting without permission. That repair reportedly cost $800 and included the installation of a self-filling mechanism, which meant I didn't have to bust around in the basement at least once a week with a flashlight, attempting to add water to a hunk of metal, acquiring the 'perfect' water level in a test tube-like vial. It worked fine. Until Saturday--just when I was about to get in the shower to head out for a fun evening.

I hadn't had to add water to the unit for months. Granted it's been a pretty mild winter so far, and I have the thermostat set to a very conservative 64 degrees, but it has been working fine. (I had it working warmer while my parents were here for Christmas since they are so thin-skinned now.) Over that time, I've occasionally been suspicious of the water deal, so I've checked it. It was ALWAYS just right. Until I smelled 'the smell' that last February drove me to call 911 and the gas company. It was not as obviously nauseating this time, but faintly wafting from the basement, through my back door as I walked past it. So, down to the bowels I went, flashlight in hand, to rescue some other poor tenant whose boiler was meeting the same fate as mine a year ago. But ah no, it was mine again. The metal on the unit was orange-hot in some places and I ran upstairs to turn the heat off. Crap. What the heck happened?? So I had to get ready--the birthday girl needed to get to her surprise party and she was in my possession. My plan was to let the unit cool off overnight, add water in the AM, start her up and see what happened. Then call the landlord.

That plan worked all day Sunday. It was lovely and warm while I poured over the Boston Globe and worked the crossword. Then I came home from church about 11pm. It was 58 degrees in the apartment. A trip to the dungeon showed no conclusive evidence--water was in there, unit was on, but nothing was happening. What the hay? So I had to call, but not until the next day.

A neighbor (Beth) and I go walking frequently and she called me Monday AM to go. It was cold so we trotted off to a local mall (yes, we ARE getting old) to windowshop and powerwalk. That's when I realized I didn't have the landlord's number in my new phone. I guess it was some sort of Freudian omission when I transferred numbers. So I had to ask Beth for it. We both REALLY hate calling her, but she agreed the heat thing was a big deal.

I finally took the plunge at 12:30, freezing at my laptop, praying she would be pleasant. Surprisingly, she was. She thought it was just the pilot that went out (that being an easy fix) and I hoped that it was. I begrudgingly also told her about my toilet that had been leaking (omitting that I noticed the leak about 2 weeks before Christmas). Better to do this all at once to limit contact.

So, the heating repair guys were called and they arrived after I left for a meeting in Boston. My spy (Beth) talked to the repairman (before the landlord arrived) while he examined the cold medusa and got the inside scoop--the unit was over 20 years old, had needed repair for a while, and now needed to be replaced. $5000-$6000 replacement cost. Dang. I hadn't heard any update from the landlord at all, so I wondered if there would be heat on my arrival home.

And there was. Some minor fixing at least got the aging beast going, but it was belching out steam that should be going into the pipes and into my radiators. (I don't even want to think about my gas bill this month.) No word of update still, until 6:57 yesterday morning. Yes, you read that right--the landlord called ME before 7am and woke me up to say the whole unit needed replacing and I needed to check the water level on it and call her back. I turn down the temp to 60 (or less) overnight since I have a heating fan in the bedroom that is lovely. So, I didn't think the water level would be a problem. But, no again, the thing was glowing orange with no water. I turned off the thermostat again, and called the landlord on the way to my AM appointment. She was in her crazy mode. I tried to explain that adding water to superhot metal like that could make it explode and by turning down the thermostat all the way that it would quit heating. But no, she didn't understand this and kept going on about how I was going to burn her house down and that the boiler is like an empty kettle on the stove...(despite the fact that I turned off the 'stove') So she was coming over to keep harm from coming to the house.

Well, Beth the spy said she was only around for maybe 20 minutes, cleaned the snow off the sidewalk, and left. When I finally got back home at 7:30pm, it was 55 degrees in the house. Near my back door lay an opened box that contained a ceramic radiator (something expressly forbidden in the lease) with no explanation. And my back door was left unlocked. Argh. (She technically never asked permission to come into my apartment, so technically she was breaking and entering.) The radiator doesn't really work at all, by the way, unless you have it on high and sit within 4 feet of it. I huddled in the living room with it for a few hours and gave up about 10:30 for my much better $15 heating fan in the bedroom.

So, faithfully, she called at 7:30am this morning. I didn't take the call. She called again and left a message. She texted me. I finally listened to the message after she banged on my back door at 9am, waking me up. She and the heating crew were there for the installation. She asked about the car in the driveway (Beth's) and said that it needed to move. She went upstairs and banged on Beth's door. She didn't answer. Then Beth called me.

Part of our heating issue is the tragic thinness of walls (and floors) that were constructed in 1930. We are all trading convenience for character here. Therefore, I heard the entire content of the landlord's droning phone conversation to someone (her husband?) that wasn't very nice in referring to me or Beth. She cast aspersions every which way about us. So, Beth and I whispered (literally) a plan for me to retrieve her keys via the front stairs and then move her car. This is what we did to allow for the heating company truck to get closer to the house.

So, 2 relatively attractive men are in the basement sawing, drilling, dragging, banging, and shaking my house. The new boiler will be installed by the end of today, which will be wonderful. But that doesn't fix the leaking toilet...Or the fact that all her tenants desire to avoid this woman to the extent that we will feign sleep or lie. Man, that is so not who I want to be.

Monday, January 22, 2007

That Beautiful Snow is Falling

I've been a blogging slacker this week. Some profound stuff has happened but in a way I'm not ready to make it for public consumption. God is moving in ways I can't understand or even describe. Some crazy stuff is starting to shift that I never would have predicted. He truly is a creative Father.

This past week was about:
-unexpected provision
-experiencing something new

Those are all beautiful things woven by God's handiwork in obvious and discreet ways. Life is such a tapestry.

Time to go watch that snow.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fighting for Joy, Books, and Cold

I'm not saying I'm back in 'the funk' (aka depression) again, but I'm feeling Satan's attacks where finances are concerned. My paycheck is over 2 weeks late and I've got enough money to make it through, but not enough to make rent on Feb 1st if the check doesn't come. I was fixated on that issue in my prayer time today. I recognized the complaining and literally had to ball up my fists and speak out forceful thankfulness about all that I do have. That's the only tonic I've found to combat the enemy when he gets into my head about money issues. It was hard and tearful this morning, but I HAVE to fight for joy or I'll be distracted from this mission that God alone is propelling. I'm soaking up Acts lately and I think it's appropriate for the battle.

My Relevant Network box came today. I was stoked to see it and overwhelmed at the same time. Inside were 4 books, a Catalyst groupzine (aka macdaddy giant magazine of thought-provoking essays), Relevant mags from Nov/Dec & Jan/Feb, Radiant winter issue, and 5 new CDs. That's a lot to consume. I feel slightly stressed out by it all. Like I told a friend tonight, I need the information so bad I want to literally bathe in the materials to let it all soak in. I have never wanted to learn so badly in my life. I think it's coming from a heart of inadequacy and wanting to see a million angles on an issue before a path is stuck. Not that I'm trying to figure out anything ministerial in particular at the moment other than ways to connect with seekers on the campuses in Boston (especially Northeastern). (This is in addition to the apologetic 'problem of suffering'--we have the problem of finding legit reasons to walk on that campus without getting kicked out.)

Um, it was colder than parts of witches today. Cold enough that my radiators kept kicking on far more frequently than I'm used to. And I'm only trying to maintain 64 degrees in my apartment. The gas bill this month is going to suck...

Now that I read this over, the tone is pessimistic and I didn't mean for it to be. I'm just overwhelmed. Tonight I was listening to Jason Morant's song Hosanna on my way to see a client. It's painfully beautiful and a perfect accompaniment to the rising of the bright evening star, positioning itself right above the line between the waning orange of day and burgeoning deep blue of night. It brought tears of worship to my eyes. I'm thankful that I'm longing so much for heaven.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Service with a Smile

I wanted to sleep in on MLK Day, just like I sleep in 90% of the time. But by some desire not of my flesh I woke up at 7, got on the T, and walked in the soaking, cold rain to Northeastern. Once inside I was greeted by friends from Shawmut Springs Church and the NU Christian Student Union.

We met in Curry Student Center with a couple hundred NU students to participate in NU's annual MLK Service Day. I'm an NU alum and I really love that they place so much emphasis on community involvement.

Anyway, after a nice catered Au Bon Pain breakfast, we were off to Spontaneous Celebrations. SC is a community agency in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood that specializes in creative arts and creating hope in that neighborhood. It's a pretty neat place.

We all jumped on the Orange Line and were able to begin to chat with a few students along the way. Of the 25 of us there, almost all the students were part of the Resident Student Association and were really fun people to work with. In the midst of priming, painting, hauling junk out of the basement, breathing in dust, touching mold, cleaning, and weatherstripping windows, we really had fun. The RSA was a great group of energetic, outgoing, humorous students to volunteer with. I would willingly carry moldy pallets to a dumpster with them any day. Even if I had to get up at 7am.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Pure Joy

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
James 1:2-4, ESV

Trial as joy...now that's what I call self-actualized behavior. I see it in the persecuted church all over the world and it's not matyrdom. It's joy in trials. It's recognizing that those trials are a means for identifying with the suffering of Christ as well as a transforming experience for one's own spirit.

It seems like we should all-out ask for trials. But we don't. We love the comfortable status quo of the American Dream. It's a scary thing to pray for refining because we don't know what that could mean. We could lose all the things that we hoard in this life. We could lose people we love.

So here are my personal questions: do I love God enough to ask for trials? Can I willingly let go of any perceived control over my life to let God use me fully? Do I trust that He will? Am I afraid of a disappointing result or one that is so far beyond me that I'm doomed to fleshly failure?

Here is what I know: God is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do. I am who He says I am.

My brain knows the answers to all those questions, but I'm praying for my heart and life to catch up.

Pure joy.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Revolution

I walked away from Passion07 with the abiding feeling that an ocean of change is coming. I've never been so convinced that revival and revolution are coming to this generation. I'm blown away. It's truly exciting to see how sharing about Passion is igniting and recharging people here who didn't have the opportunity to go. It has to be God because I don't think I'm convincing enough to speak for 5 minutes and touch hearts.

The capper of it all came today with Louie's posting on the latest numbers from the Passion Do Something Now campaign. I have to say I'm floored. Please read what God has done with 24,000 college students who are willing to let go of personal comfort for the betterment of others. It is a beautiful thing. My prayer is that many, many others will catch the kingdom vision that was cast in Atlanta. That the world may know us by our love...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Other People Read This

So I'm still in my state of getting back into life after Passion and I was tracking back some hits on my blog. One happened to have come from another blog. It wasn't necessarily a favorable commentary, but something for me to think about. I'm not used to having critics to my faith and life, and criticism is something I struggle with on a regular basis. This article was posted back in June and I'm glad I didn't find it until now. I don't know if I could've handled the commentary during those fragile months last fall.

I need this to be a learning experience for what is to come. I know intellectually that I will be attacked for my beliefs because the Gospel is offensive and bold, but experiencing my first taste of it is difficult emotionally. I am entirely out of the salt shaker now, clinging to the cross, and attempting to speak words of love and life to those who hate me.

Friday, January 05, 2007


We need to become desperate to serve those in this world who are hurting, hopeless, and broken. Fall facedown and beg God to use your life to love those people. Throw off a conventional life and love unflinchingly with the love of Christ. Be bold. Say no to consumerism. Live simply. Give all. Let God wreck your vision for your life for something that will simply throw you to the ground that He would be so gracious to allow you to even be a small piece.

Whatever you do, listen to this song and read the lyrics.

"Oh My God" by Jars of Clay (Good Monsters)

Oh my God, look around this place
Your fingers reach around the bone
You set the break and set the tone
Flights of grace, and future falls
In present pain
All fools say, "Oh my God"

Oh my God, Why are we so afraid?
We make it worse when we don't bleed
There is no cure for our disease
Turn a phrase, and rise again
Or fake your death and only tell your closest friend
Oh my God.

Oh my God, can I complain?
You take away my firm belief and graft my soul upon your grief
Weddings, boats and alibis
All drift away, and a mother cries

Liars and fools; sons and failures
Thieves will always say
Lost and found; ailing wanderers
Healers always say
Whores and angels; men with problems
Leavers always say
Broken hearted; separated
Orphans always say
War creators; racial haters
Preachers always say
Distant fathers; fallen warriors
Givers always say
Pilgrim saints; lonely widows
Users always say
Fearful mothers; watchful doubters
Saviors always say

Sometimes I cannot forgive
And these days, mercy cuts so deep
If the world was how it should be, maybe I could get some sleep
While I lay, I dream we're better,
Scales were gone and faces light
When we wake, we hate our brother
We still move to hurt each other
Sometimes I can close my eyes,
And all the fear that keeps me silent falls below my heavy breathing,
What makes me so badly bent?
We all have a chance to murder
We all feel the need for wonder
We still want to be reminded that the pain is worth the thunder

Sometimes when I lose my grip, I wonder what to make of heaven
All the times I thought to reach up
All the times I had to give
Babies underneath their beds
Hospitals that cannot treat all the wounds that money causes,
All the comforts of cathedrals
All the cries of thirsty children - this is our inheritance
All the rage of watching mothers - this is our greatest offense

Oh my God
Oh my God
Oh my God


I don't know if words can do justice to the move of the Holy Spirit at Passion07. I have never seen so many students so fervent and passionate about God. There was desperation for His Name there. There was a desire to run after things of His heart, especially working on behalf of the poor, broken, and unreached. My heart is so full I can't even contain it. I am blessed just to have walked (and walked and walked) those long hallways at GWCC and Philips Arena. God was there. I almost saw His back. I must have, since I am filled with a sense of awe and reverance for God Himself that I haven't felt in a really long time.

I was so excited to get home and not because I am running on less than half of the sleep I usually get. I rested on the plane and listened to Tomlin's new album. By the time I got off the plane I was so excited. I am re-ignited about loving all these people around me. I already got to share some stories with two women I love here that don't know Him personally. I know God is calling them by the questions they pose. Please pray for their hearts.

Well, Passion08 will not happen, but several other smaller, regional gatherings will. And one will be in Boston. That is an answer to the cry and prayer of my heart. God, prepare the way! I will write more details once I get them...

OK, finally off to my comfy bed. I get a whole 7 hours of sleep tonight...that feels like so much!! I'm praying that God will heal my voice for tomorrow since I have my first gig babysitting at a Jewish temple. I will be there almost every Friday for the next 5 months. I'm praying for God to prepare the way for me to learn more about Judaism and insight into that heritage. And more than anything I want to be a light there as well.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Passion07 Day 1

Check out my Xanga to see what was going on today. Please keep praying!