Saturday, January 31, 2009

A fresh start

I decided, for the new year, to try out using instead of Blogger. No particular reason, other than I like some of the layout options they have and want to be more familiar with how their setup works. I haven't decided if I want to transfer all my posts from here over to the new site, so for now these posts will stay where they are and new posts will be found at So if you have me bookmarked, you'll probably want to switch it over.

I'm making a commitment to myself to write more often, mainly because it helps me think, but also because it gives family and friends who I don't talk to often the opportunity to pray for me more specifically. So thanks to all you who have traveled with me this far... I look forward to seeing what the next year brings.

God is faithful!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

to-do lists, reader boards, and focus

I have a love-hate relationship with to-do lists.

Things I Love About To-Do Lists:
  • The warm, happy feeling of satisfaction that results from slashing a big thick line through one of the tasks. Done! Finished! You've accomplished something!
  • They remind me to do things that would completely slip from my mind if not put on paper.
Things I Hate About To-Do Lists:
  • The cold, sinking feeling of failure that results from not being able to slash a big thick line through all of the tasks. You're slow! Inefficient! You lose!
  • I keep adding tasks that would completely slip my mind if not put on paper, to the point where I'm frozen by the onslaught of my own expectations. Classic deer-in-the-headlights response: look at the list! It's long! Where do I start? What do I do? What's most important? How do I pick? Shoot, an hour has gone by and I still can't decide where to start!
Today was my day off, and I didn't get much crossed off the list. The first thing I decided to work on - going over all my finances and creating a working budget - took much longer than I expected. I was nowhere near finished by the time I had to leave for Spanish class, and I left frustrated with how little I had accomplished.

On the way back from class, I passed a readerboard that said, "The smallest action is better than the greatest intention." Ah, I think. This is part of my problem. I "intend" to do so many things that I can't possibly get them all done, and then I get frustrated with myself. But what good are my intentions if I can't (or don't) follow through? Nothing comes of them, except disappointment.

I need to give myself permission to slow down. So often, if I can see (or think I can see) what an end result will look like, I get impatient when the steps to get there take time. One part of me is interested in a lot of different things, and so I try to do all of them, all at once, because I don't want to miss out. The other part of me delights in excellence and would rather not do something at all than do it poorly or halfway. The result is me, caught in the middle, feeling like the world's biggest failure because I'm doing a bunch of different things but I'm not doing any of them well.

I suppose it comes down to this: do I trust God? If so, I need to let some things go. If I truly believe that he loves me and wants what's best for me, I have the freedom say no to things without worrying about "missing out" on anything. (Except maybe the frantic, listless, unsettled feeling that has been following me around lately... I might miss out on that.)

So. I'm at the pont where I intend to do less.

Looks like it's time to revisit the readerboard.

Monday, September 01, 2008

getting drenched

I was finishing up Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies this afternoon (I finally finished a whole book!), and I came across this beautiful quote about letting go & living fully. It's something that I need to be reminded of constantly: life is messy. That's okay.

Christianity is about water: "Everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." It's about baptism, for God's sake. It's about full immersion, about falling into something elemental and wet. Most of what we do in worldly life is geared toward our staying dry, looking good, not going under. But in baptism, in lakes and rain and tanks and fonts, you agree to do something that's a little sloppy because at the same time it's also holy, and absurd. It's about surrender, giving in to all those things we can't control; it's a willingness to let go of balance and decorum and get drenched.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

September newsletter article

I was one of the "good kids" growing up. I did my homework. I had friends that were more or less responsible. I was active in church and youth group. I believed in Jesus.

Really, though, underneath my "church kid" appearance, I was coasting. It wasn't until my junior year of college that I really started to understand that believing in Jesus and loving Him are two very different things. And the reason I started to understand was because I had two friends that didn't just believe in Jesus - they spent time with Him, interacted with Him, let themselves be loved by Him, and loved Him in return. Because they allowed me to witness that relationship at work in their lives, I caught a glimpse of what a relationship with Christ should look like in my own... and I began to grow.

You see, I was a Theology major in college. I studied the Bible inside and out. I aced exams on Paul's letters. I knew about Christianity. But none of my professors and none of my classes pushed me forward the way that my friends did. That's because the thing that truly transforms people is not hearing a convicting sermon, or being trained in theology: what is transformational is seeing Christ active in someone's life. That's why Paul spent so much time giving encouragement and instruction about how to live in community with other believers: because iron sharpens iron. When we let others walk alongside us and bear witness to our relationship with God, He uses our story to reach and encourage others. It's not because we are perfect or wise or holy... it's because Jesus, the Word of God, lives in us, and He is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. He can take even our sinful, broken stories and use them to encourage and sharpen the hearts of our brothers and sisters. But he can't do that unless we let others in.

We do not exist in a vacuum. We are constantly influencing the lives of the people that God directs into our paths, whether we want to or not: but we can choose to live with intentionality. We can choose to share our lives with others - not superficially, but honestly.

I leave you with a quote from Thomas Merton's No Man Is An Island.

As long as we secretly adore ourselves, our own deficiencies will remain to torture us with an apparent defilement. But if we live for others, we will gradually discover that no one expects us to be "as gods." We will see that we are human, like everyone else, that we all have weaknesses and deficiencies, and that these limitations of ours play a most important part in all our lives. It is because of them that we need others and others need us. We are not all weak in the same spots, and so we supplement and complete one another, each one making up in himself for the lack in another.
Verses Referenced:
Colossians 3:12-17, Proverbs 27:17, Hebrews 4:12, Romans 1:11

Saturday, August 23, 2008

bless it!

hide, n. the skin of an animal, esp. when tanned or dressed.

This morning after breakfast, my roommates learned that my eyes had yet to be graced by the delightful scenes of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The situation was immediately remedied - I haven't laughed that much at a movie in quite some time.

All I have to say after finishing it is this: the next time some burly mountain man wanders into Anacortes and starts swinging around lampposts belting out "Bless your beautiful hide!" in a resonating bass, I just might swoon.

As long as I can finish my chores first.