Monday, February 26, 2007

Wake Up Dead Man

For a friend...

Wake Up Dead Man by U2

Jesus, Jesus help me I'm alone in this world
And a fucked up world it is too
Tell me, tell me the story
The one about eternity
And the way it's all gonna be


Jesus, I'm waiting here boss I know you're looking out for us
But maybe your hands aren't free
Your Father, He made the world in seven
He's in charge of Heaven
Will you put in a word for me


Listen to your words they'll tell you what to do
Listen over the rhythm that's confusing you
Listen to the reed in the saxophone
Listen over the hum in the radio
Listen over sounds of blades in rotation
Listen through the traffic and circulation
Listen as hope and peace try to rhyme
Listen over marching bands playing out their time


Jesus, were you just around the corner?
Did you think to try and warn her?
Or are you working on something new?
If there's an order in all of this disorder
Is it like a tape recorder?
Can we rewind it just once more?


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Finding the New Me

I had an unexpected chance to hang out with college students from all over the city tonight. My plan was to do it next week, but God had something else in mind. I connected with them through my Passion07 divine appointment, and it was all Him. The part I enjoyed the most was chatting over coffee, tea, water, and pastries at ABP after the meeting was over. These students are fantastically interested and want so much to stretch their knowledge of God. The humbling moment was when they paid attention to absolutely everything I said. God, that better have been You talking, and not just me spouting some half-baked theology or life experience.

I think I'm taking my first baby steps into the fullness of this calling. Whoa nelly...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Parenting by Proxy

I had my first 'bad' babysitting experience today. I was watching a 1 year old girl and a 5 year old boy in Brookline. The little girl was an absolute joy...she saved me from utter insanity. The boy, on the other hand, was a total brat. I don't often say that, but it's true. He's a result of what I see so often here--parenting by proxy. Kids in two-parent homes who rarely see their parents. Kids whose nannies raise them. This particular family has a Harvard law grad attorney for a mom and a doctor for a dad. They came home 30 minutes before the kids' bedtime, and judging from the daily journal that's a regular occurrence. If I'm ever blessed with children, I pray that they see me and their father more than any babysitter.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


It's been over 40 degrees the past 2 days and I'm enjoying it. Beth and I ventured out for our first walk since the great snow-then rain-then freeze on Valentine's Day. Today was the first day that the sidewalks have been passable in our neighborhood. We walked to CVS, wandered around in there for a while, and then to Coffee Break Cafe for lovely drinks and a introspective chat.

The day looks really good so far--I did Pilates this morning for the first time in months and then had the lovely afternoon with Beth. I'm off to install the new memory in my laptop, then head into the city with Rosana to enjoy music, pizza, and bowling with Shawmut Springs. I'm so glad I'm skipping AI tonight.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It Has Begun...

American Idol Top 24 week is here. Two hours of guys tonight, 2 of girls tomorrow, 1 results show Thursday. That's a lot of dang tv for one show. I'm abandoning it tomorrow night, just to prove that I'm not 'that' girl. Tonight's performances so far have pretty much sucked, so skipping tomorrow may be the best redemption of the time.

Communion Wine and Green Couch Coffee

Church last night welcomed a few visitors. That was great and refreshing. Growth in the midst of icy cold Boston. He is the gardener. We celebrated the Lord's Supper together and it brought tears. It's been a while since I last shared that meal with my Family. I can't pinpoint the reason for the tears, but they were full of gratefulness to the One who sacrificed so much to make a way for me to partake of that celebration. He is the provider.

Today I discovered a cozy hometown coffee place hidden away but within walking distance of my place. A friend from the Family met me there and we sipped our beverages over sharing God's work in our lives. It was a great couple of hours. I'm so glad to get to know her more. He is the architect.

Here's something I want my local Family and the global Family to remember:
"But there is another side to it, a side which shows all the signs of the wind and fire, of the bird brooding over the waters and bringing it to new life. For many, 'church' means just the opposite of that negative image. It's a place of welcome and laughter, of healing and hope, of friends and family and justice and new life. It's where the homeless drop in for a bowl of soup and the elderly stop by for a chat. It's where one group is working to help drug addicts and another is campaigning for global justice. It's where you'll find people learning to pray, coming to faith, struggling with temptation, finding new purpose, and getting in touch with a new power to carry that purpose out. It's where people bring their own small faith and discover, in getting together with others to worship the one true God, that the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. No church is like this all the time. But a remarkable number of churches are partly like that for quite a lot of the time." (NT Wright, Simply Christian, p 123).

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Oh the Glory of it All

I have this Chinese fortune pinned to my Boston colleges map in the dining room. I don't know if that's sacreligious, but it's there. It says, "there are no ordinary days." I think that's appropriately pinned to that prayer map. There ARE no ordinary days when it comes to following God's purpose for your life. It's a matter of prayerfully asking to see life around you as He sees it. That will open up your eyes and explode your brain. I can only take small doses, but I want to be able to ingest more.

I was thinking about that fortune the last couple of days. I began today reading up a storm and figured this ordinary day would work out like this: Bible, book, newspaper, church, bed. That was just about right, but such a list doesn't contain an iota of the richness of each of those 'tasks.' I rounded up 1 Corinthians this morning, pondering how the resurrection flows into the believer working for Christ.

Then I finished off the book I started last night. I couldn't stop reading it. I didn't know what I was getting into when I opened it up last night at 10pm--I just knew I wanted to read it. This book affirmed everything that the Spirit has spoken to my heart in the last few months, complete with some of the same terminology and wording. I've been focusing (even perseverating) on the idea of good vs great (or best). Good things are the stuff we settle for when the great things seems too huge or impossible, but the great things are exactly the stuff God personally calls us to do. They are different for everyone, but those decisions require a great deal of faith. Batterson spoke directly to this issue on pg 106, "Good is often the enemy of great...Sometimes taking a calculated risk means giving up something that is good so you can experience something that is great. In a sense, sin is short-changing ourselves and short-changing God. It is settling for anything less than God's best. Faith is the exact opposite. Faith is renouncing lesser goods for something greater. And it always involves a calculated risk." Whoa. Settling is sin. Um, God, I think I'm getting the hint here...

The other section of the book that struck me was the chapter on the importance of looking foolish. Beth Moore spoke on that exact topic at Passion and it smacked this perfectionist between the eyes. In the beginning, we suck at stuff that requires practice. And sometimes God will call us to follow Him despite what logic and people will tell us (aka Noah and his big ol' boat in the desert). Here's what Batterson says about this: "The greatest breakthroughs, miracles, and turning points in Scripture can be traced back to someone who was willing to look foolish." There's something about conformity to 'proper' behavior that civilizes the little, creative, foolish child out of us. I was once the little girl who lifted up her dress during the children's sermon and danced around with all the Christmas bows flopping on her head--I don't do that stuff anymore. Christ was really on to something when He spoke about becoming like little children--there's the innocent, whole-hearted belief and also the part that is creatively nonconformist. Christ doesn't want us to sit in rows, dress just right, liking the same music, and saying all the right words. That's not who He was. That's not who He wants us to be. The beauty part is that He didn't just come to free us from sin, but He also came to free us from being those whitewashed identical tombs too. Conformity stifles living out our potential in Christ. We are already whole in Him, so why are we so focused on the gospel of sin management?

This is the most inspirational book I've read in a really long time. It was like a Passion conference packed into less than 200 pages. It was a warrior's treatise. It was exactly what I (and so many others I know) needed to hear right now. This is a pivotal moment of decision to continue on the path of doing something great. Not great like the world sees it or great in my own strength, but God doing something great in and through me. He's the author of this thing and I'm just here, straining to listen and respond with proper honor.

Oh the glory of it all...we will never be the same.

Friday, February 16, 2007

There's a First Time for Everything

Today was the second day in a row of 10 hours of babysitting. It's been intense, but the funds are needed. Next week is more open than usual with it being school vacation week here, and I hope some moms will want a break. I'm looking forward to more work. I made almost $400 this week, but it was well-earned.

Today's 2nd job started off rough. I arrived early to affix the car seats to my back seat (something I've never done before) and was quickly successful with that (not rocket science). Then off I went to pick the 5 year old up from school. The directions the mom gave me were wrong at the very first turn, but I didn't realize this right away. (Note: I was not in a town of which I am very familiar.) So, thanks to my trusty atlas, I found my way to where I was supposed to be. I risked life and limb walking on the glazed, rutted sidewalks to the school. Then I couldn't find the girl. She wasn't anywhere. I called the mom to make sure I was at the right school. I was. And she started to freak out. Almost all the kids were gone and the girl was no where outside. I started for the school doors (which are locked, of course), hoping she was inside hiding from the stinging cold wind. No dice. Then finally a nice teacher let me in and knew where the child was. She came walking down the stairs with another teacher just as we were on our way up. The other teacher chastised me for being late (which I think was a pretty BS thing to do...she just wanted to get out of there to start her vacation at 2:30pm). Then the girl and I walked back to my car, again risking injury on the icy sidewalks.

We only had a short time to eat a snack before picking up her younger brother. The girl (she's 5 remember) kept giving me a hard time about being late. She told me I should be late to pick up her brother because I didn't get her on time. Lovely. We got on the road on time for the crazy, circuitous drive required by the odd urban planning here. We made it almost to the last turn when a huge piece of ice smashed into my windshield. I think it flew off a passing car. It was so loud that the sound reverberated in my ears and the adrenaline was pumping. I thought it smashed the windshield before I was able to inspect it. Not even a mark. I replaced that windshield several weeks ago--the old one with cracks probably would have shattered. I'm really glad now that I replaced it. Anyway, the odd part of it all was that the girl hardly reacted to the situation...but heck, if I asked her 2 times to do something, she would totally go off...

With both kids in hand, we finally arrived back at the ranch for fun, games, frozen pizza, nice and mean t-rex, and a stuffed monkey named Mogo. I'm ready for bed.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Iced Chocolate

I slept like crap last night. I promise to never again drink coffee post 8pm. It cured my headache but left me tossing and turning well past 2am.

It didn't help that there was all this excitement about the 'blizzard.' It began snowing pretty hard before before I went to bed--lovely large flakes that caused a beautiful hush. I woke up for no reason around 7am, wanting to see what was happening outside, so I turned on the TV. Over 300 schools are closed but there's really no snow. Most of those are north and west of Boston, which means my evening client appointment is cancelled. That's fine with me as long as we make it up by the end of the month...Even though we don't have much snow, it's going to vacillate between snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain all day long. Then it's going to get REALLY cold. Let's just say that I'm not going anywhere tonight or maybe tomorrow. Ice isn't fun to drive on.

My neighbors and I are going to see the new Drew Barrymore movie at lunchtime. I'm glad we decided to see it early in the day. Woo hoo, Valentine's Day. Snow, ice, stupid holiday. I'm out of chocolate, can you tell?


There's a lot of songs out there about breathing. Their forms are different, but the essence is all about waiting or reflecting. They tend to melancholy. Maybe a bit of sweet sentimentality. My life since September has been about breathing...breathing out lies about me...breathing in truth about God...breathing out cardboard expectations...breathing in God-wrought hope about my future life...Some of those breaths have been shallow sobs. Some have come with a mouth gaping, lungs rushing full. But in the end, it's all just breathing. In and out. In and out.

That simple, basic, life-defining process seems so much bigger when we pay attention to it. When we think about breathing it seems like it will stop if we cease ushering it into being. Then we get distracted by life and it somehow continues without a thought. But in that moment between awake and sleeping, we are all body and breath. Inhale exhale. Inhale exhale.

Breathing is the beginning of life.

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

Something Someone Else Said (part 3)

This is an amazing little reflection on Old Testament and New Testament law and what it means for us today. I didn't write it, but I wish I did!
When the bible talks about “the Law” it is talking about the book of Leviticus. It is the book that the priests and the Jewish nation used as their sounding board to align themselves with God’s will. The words that the priests took literally…come from Leviticus.

Leviticus 15:19-33

When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean…When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period.

So anything that comes in contact with her becomes unclean just as she is, she is almost contagious in a way.

Leviticus 20:18

If a man has sexual relations with a woman during her monthly period, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them are to be cut off from their people.

So she can have no physical contact, if someone touches her – they are unclean also.

Leviticus 12

1 A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. 3 On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. 4 Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over

So Jewish law says that whether a woman has just given birth, or who is having her period she is unclean – she can’t go to church, she cant have sex, she can’t even be approached!

What happens to laws like this when people begin to take the bible/the law to its extreme literal sense? How does your husband treat you? Your family? Your church? Your community?

Matthew 9

18 A synagogue leader came and knelt before Jesus and said, "My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live." 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.

A Jewish priest is asking a Jewish teacher to touch a dead body, why? Because the rumors and the talk around town says Jesus is different. The cost of disobeying the Law is willing to be cast aside for the belief that he could have his daughter back.

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed."

22 Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment.

I read this story, and I think to myself that it probably took as long for this to happen as it did for me to read it. I don’t picture this event taking place for very long. It’s a brief encounter, it’s a story within a second story – the story goes on….

23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader's house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, "Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through that entire region.

And I am sure that all this day, people were talking about the fact that Jesus raised a little girl back to life. What a story! What an event! But I want to go back to the woman who was bleeding. What about her?

The scriptures say that she was subject to bleeding for 12 years. (She could have had uterine cancer or a Cyst) And we don’t even know how old she is, she could have been as young as 25. And for someone who is not allowed to be around other people – she could have spent half of her life... alone.

Either way, she has spent 12 years away from people, she has spent 12 years of her life without the touch of another person, and she has spent 12 years not going to church. She has been in prison inside of herself. And then in an act of desperation – she pushes through a crowd – touches Jesus and is immediately freed. SHE RISKS also, if this does not work, she is an unclean person who has touched a Jewish teacher.

And now her whole life has changed. Her life today is completely different than her life was yesterday. The woman she has been for 12 years is gone and she has been resurrected from her own personal death. In fact, this story is a resurrection story within a resurrection story. Both of these women have been set free and been given new life by the encounter they have had with Jesus.

I love this story.

I love this story because it’s my story.

I wonder if it’s your story.

I am an outcast within my own mind. I look around at people who seem to have their lives together and I think to myself, ‘if they only knew what kind of a sinner I am.’

‘If they only knew the kinds of things that I have done, and thought and said…’

Or even more close to home, just knowing what it is like to be an outsider. Someone who has never been considered ‘cool.’ I am someone who always compares myself to other people wondering…

Well maybe I should dress like that
Maybe I should do my hair like that
Maybe more people would like me if I were more serious, or more funny….

I know what its like to not be invited in.

I know how it feels to be left outside.

And for 12 years of her life, this woman is cast away; living on the fringes of society, figuring out how to get by and how to live and how to make money. Until one day she can not stand it anymore and she reaches out in desperation to Jesus.

And then in an instant - she is born again…she is given a second chance; a new life…from this day on everything would be different.

For someone like me who has been a Christian for a long time, what is it going to take for me to reach out to Christ again? What is going to create that desperate feeling within me that brings me back to God?

How is this story of the woman relevant to me?

Have you ever taken a foreign language class?

When I was in Greek class, I did ok, but I only came to class and read the book, the teacher told us that if we were having trouble, we should talk to the T.A. I never did, and I did ok, but I never had that “a-ha” moment, that I probably could have got if I had allowed someone to sit down with me one on one.

Greek was ‘greek’ in class – but once I left the class I was just back to being myself. And now it has been a year since I had the class and Greek is getting harder and harder to read. I never made Greek a part of my life, so now I feel further from it.

But let’ say you took Spanish or French in High School and then one day you take a vacation to a foreign country and you find yourself unable to communicate, you can’t get around, you can’t find anything and you beating yourself up because that language has lost its relevance for you, but now…now you need it.

And this happens because you did not keep that language a part of your life, it has become a memory and now when you need it, it is harder to find.

And I wonder if the bible or church becomes a foreign language class to us. The lessons and the readings never really penetrate us until we need them. The words of Jesus never transform us until we in desperation reach out for them.

Maybe it’s the difference between your favorite song and the song on the radio. Maybe you know the words to “How to save a life” by the Fray, but it’s not because you love the Fray, or because you love that song, it’s just because it’s on the radio so much.

And once that song is gone and its replaced by the latest Justin Timberlake song you’ll have forgotten it and it will not have any further relevance to you.

But at the same time you have a favorite song, that every time you hear it, you stop and sing it, or it brings up memories or feelings, the song to you is more than a tune – it’s part of who you are.

Maybe that’s what I am asking….Is Christ part of who you are?

Is it how you define yourself? Or is he just the song on the radio…?

Is church just the repeating noise that you end up memorizing because its there.

Or do you need this place? Or do you reach out for this time?

How do we make Christ our favorite song?

How does our faith become the answer that heals us and makes us whole again?

I don’t know.

The woman doesn’t come to Jesus until she needs him.

I don’t feel the need to learn Spanish until I go to Mexico.

Maybe I need more times of crisis in my life.

Maybe I make my life so loud and so ‘perfect’ that I think that I don't need Jesus.

I’m hungry, I buy Taco Bell
I’m lonely, I go to a party
I’m bored, I go drinking

I am so good at making my own environment, my own entertainment; I can take care of all of my own needs.

This woman reaches out to Jesus because she comes to the point in her life where she realizes…there is no one else. There is no place else. This is it. I can’t do it on my own.

The world would have you believe that you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps and make yourself anything that you want to be.

If you have to ask for help – then you’re a failure.

The world says that it does not need a savior.

Acts 4:12

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved."

I don’t want it to take a crisis in my life for me to realize I need Jesus.

I want Christ to be relevant in my life

Because I need healing and wholeness

I need to be raised from the dead

I need saving

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Writing is becoming more difficult lately. So why is it that I woke up today wanting to write a book--something to explain life and woven tightly with love, loss, redemption, and hope. But yet I sat staring at a blinking blogger cursor unsure of how to begin a simple post. Well, maybe it will come. Maybe I need to use all this time to write the starts and stops down. I wish I was a better chronicler of the moment.

I read in lieu of cleaning of my apartment this morning. This book is a beautiful and awful and compelling work of fiction. After two hours in the Manhattan world of Oskar Schnell, I had to get out of bed. I don't think I would've put it down save for the constant dripping of my broken toilet approaching the critical mass of Chinese water torture.

Well, I'm off to wrangle massive amounts of recycling, shop for milk, and train some therapists. The whole time I'll just be wishing I was listening to The Shins and reading. I'll save that for tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Loose Ends

It's been a weird week since I last blogged. I had intense conversations about God's vision for my life here in Boston. I went to a random (but interesting) midnight documentary at a fantastic theater that's the second oldest one in the country. Then I had a crappy day with my new client's dad, then I tried to quit and he convinced me to stay on. Like I said, weird.

At least I'm being productive today. I worked for about 5 hours on client stuff, which is the most I've worked at one time in months. Now tomorrow the plan is to clean, do laundry, and run errands if I don't get a babysitting job. So auspicious, I know, but it's my life.

I will blog eventually about the emerging vision for Boston, but for now it feels too new and too early. I don't know if I'm ready for this to be under broad public scrutiny. It's just way too vague right to make any kind of sense in written form. But, for you praying people out there, pray for clarity and discernment for me during this time. I'm thankful for every time you remember me in that way.