so be it...

i have such difficulty falling asleep after small group on monday nights. it is such a privilege to lead such a talented, passionate group of women... i am not exaggerating when i say that there is enough God-given talent and potential in my living room every monday night to change the world. i am blessed to be a part of their journeys.

tonight, as usual, after our discussion, my mind is racing. but it seems to have landed on this franciscan blessing that i first heard from craig groeschel at the leadership summit. this is my prayer for all my girls tonight:

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

amen, girls. amen.


the story...

it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. {jane austen}
in order to tide myself over until LOST begins again in january, i was doing the surfthechannel thing and getting caught up on the episodes that i'd either missed or forgotten from season 4. then one day, almost a month ago, i noticed a new show, lost in austen, and was immediately intrigued. while in calgary this summer i had purchased a book by the same title, reminiscent of the 'choose your own adventure' books from my childhood, the reader becomes elizabeth bennet, whose goal is to not only marry well, but marry for love. {let me say, that on my first journey through the book, i did indeed marry mr. darcy...sigh...}

anyway, i digress, so i checked out the show, and sure enough, it is the story of a young woman, amanda, from london in 2008, who is startled one evening to find elizabeth bennet in her bathroom. apparently there is a door behind the bathtub which leads directly to lizzie's house. while checking out the unusual occurrence, with elizabeth in amanda's london apartment and amanda in the bennet's home, the door closes and amanda walks into the beginning of what should have been pride and prejudice. and that is where it all goes wrong.

given that we all know how the story goes, when lizzie's absence and amanda's presence turns the whole thing upside down, you can't help but feel that something terrible is happening. {spoiler alert} especially when jane marries the creepiest mr. collins EVER! but as someone who fancies herself as waiting for her own mr. darcy, the ending, and generally the experience of the mini series was highly enjoyable.

but all this about altering story lines started me wondering about the storyline of our own lives. life is not a predetermined book like pride and prejudice, but rather one more akin to lost in austen, where our own decisions factor into the equation, making every one's journey unique. but because we don't have the original text to compare our lives to, we will never know how one decision, however small it seemed at the time, may have completely altered the trajectory of life as we know it.

sometimes is it easy to become discouraged by the mistakes and poor choices we've made along the way, and spend too much time wondering what life could have been had we done things differently. and depending upon the situation you now find yourself in, it is too easy to go nowhere while ruing the past. anyone who has tried it will tell you, you cannot move forward while facing behind...who are we kidding, i'll tell you. i've tried it way too often, and have the scars and bruises to prove it.

in a sermon entitled let story guide you, donald miller quotes a book that i cannot remember the title of and says that "God takes our mistake and starts from there." this is a reminder i need daily.

one last thought i'll leave you with...in the same sermon, donald miller says that when faced with a decision, a good question to ask is whether or not we want this thing that we are deciding about in our story. look at it as you would twenty years in the future looking back, is this something that you want written in the book of your life, or not...and then act accordingly.

what is your story?



at small group last night we were talking about why it is so difficult to actually pick up and read our Bibles with any kind of regularity. and when the question, 'why is this so difficult' was posed, there really wasn't an answer that emerged.

this has left me with somewhat of a 'splinter in my mind' {the matrix}, while not quite driving me mad, it is causing me to wonder exactly why it is that it is so difficult to be consistent. seriously, it's not like we are hopeless people who don't hold down jobs, pay our bills, have relationships, and do what we need to to be part of our world. and we all believe that reading God's word and prayer are vital to being the people we are called to be.

so, the question remains, why?

while not discounting the spiritual {"we fight not against flesh and blood..."}, i well know that far too often the biggest obstacle to my own spiritual growth is me. degrees of laziness and procrastination. other things perceived as more exciting to read or watch. an overcrowded schedule and perpetual tiredness. the list goes on...

it's easier to look for a solution when you fully understand the problem...which is probably why this is still bothering me. in the past year i've taken different steps... buying the books of the Bible, embracing different spiritual disciplines, etc., and while these have changed, and continue to refine me, this question still remains.

why do you think these things are so difficult?
what do you do to 'keep the romance alive' in your relationship with God?


sweet tweet

i make no secret that i love Twitter, the mini-blog site. it's like the status of facebook without the clutter and annoyance. but in the last few days, i've found a new reason to love my tweets, and that is with that discovery of twiturgy, liturgical readings throughout the day with a link to read scripture {a discovery i have flowerdust to thank for}.

i've only been following twiturgy for a few days now, but i cannot tell you how many times during these days, when i've received tweets that i've desperately needed to hear. "so don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. today's trouble is enough for today." that one came in last night, just before i went to bed. "may your kingdom come soon. may your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven," was an excellent reminder yesterday when i started to get overwhelmed by a situation.

clicking on the URL takes you to a page with daily scripture readings, the occasional poem, and sometimes a prayer. this one was from sunday, and is as perfect a prayer as i've ever heard:

Prayer for Illumination
Eternal God, let us see ourselves as you see us. Does our righteousness stem from love, or selfishness? Do our prayers spring genuinely, or from hypocrisy? Are our good deeds and spiritual disciplines the fruit of divine character, or a petty legalism? Are we truly your children, or merely playing the part? Our hearts are so often deceitful, confused; remove both false guilt and false righteousness, that we might see truly. And implant in our hearts the root of love, that our prayers, our giving, our fasting may all demonstrate true holiness and not selfish hypocrisy. Through Christ our Lord, Amen. {from the ashbury reader}
be sure to check it out, i don't think you'd be sorry. {oh, and if you become a Twitterite, let me know so i can follow you!}



“in the entire history of the universe, let alone in your own history, there has never been another day just like today, and there will never be another just like it again. today is the point to which all your yesterdays have been leading since the hour of your birth. it is the point from which all your tomorrows will proceed until the hour of your death. if you were aware of how precious today is, you could hardly live through it. unless you are aware of how precious it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all.” (frederick buechner)
and you probably thought it was just another monday...


control issues

in today's my utmost for his highest reading, oswald chambers says that,
even the very smallest thing that we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is completely sufficient to account for spiritual confusion...
'even the very smallest thing...' so, i asked myself, what are those areas that i have not allowed the Holy Spirit to control, and lo and behold, they are the areas of my life that are a mess.

coincidence? i don't think so.

there are so many reasons that i have for not giving up control. feeling that i should be able to 'fix' my own life. giving up control seems like weakness. being a single woman living on my own, i feel the need to take care of myself. but the worst, and probably the most prevalent reason, is fear.

i really hate the fact that there are parts of my life so affected by fear, that it keeps me from completely trusting God. and the crazy thing is that this fear does not affect all of my life. i will go to a country where i don't speak the language, and know that God is with me and will take care of me, but at night, when i'm lying in the safety of my own bed, i find myself too often scheming up ways of taking care of some small need in my life, just in case God doesn't come through as i want him to, or when i want him to.

so, how does one resolve their long-standing control issues? i suppose just one minute at a time within the context of an examined life.


happy birthday gram

september 11 means something different to me. while in no way diminishing the events of 2001, decades before, this day became special because it is the day that marjorie jean crease, my gramma, was born.

my gram was an amazing woman who lived a quiet, simple life. and like too many that visit this planet, her true value wasn't fully appreciated until after she left us. i remember writing in my journal on the day she died, that it seemed like just so much light was gone from our world.

so much of who i am today is because of this woman. she inspired me to write when i didn't even know i could. she believed in me when i could find nothing of any value in myself. she encouraged me to live my dreams, but to stay rooted where it mattered, with God and with family. she kicked my butt when i needed it, and she prayed. she prayed for me. a lot.

after she died, i remember selfishly feeling a loss, that she was no longer here praying, but was reminded, in the form of an e.m. bounds quote i had on a bulletin board, that,
"{prayer} is no fitful, short-lived thing. it is no voice crying unheard and unheeded in the silence. it is a voice which goes into God’s ear, and it lives as long as God’s ear is open to holy pleas, as long as God’s heart is alive to holy things. God shapes the world by it.

{prayers} are deathless. the lips that uttered them may be closed to death, the heart that felt them may have ceased to beat, but they live before God, and God’s heart is set on them and they outlive the lives of those who uttered them; they outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world. that man is the most immortal who has done the most and the best service of calling on God. they are God heroes, God’s saints, God’s servants, God’s vicegerents.
i believe that her prayers still echo over my and my family's lives today.

on december 3, 2008 it will be 13 years since the sunday morning that she left us...and judging by the hole still in my heart, it hardly seems possible that it could be that long. to quote sandra mccracken in her song portadown station, i still hear her 'voice in my head, but i miss the sound'. sometimes more than i can still believe.

happy birthday, gram. i love you and miss you always.




sheer brilliance

"the grace of God means something like: here is your life. you might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you.”
~frederick buechner


i think i am hopelessly broken.

not long ago i went to michigan to visit one of my favorite people ever, my best friend angie. angie and her family live a bit north of detroit, in a quiet and very pretty wooded area. it was late on a friday night, and as i turned off of I-96, my attention was caught by tiny lights at the side of the road. at first i thought that i was seeing things...clearly the drive had gotten to me.

but as i kept going down the dark road, i saw them again, and realized that i wasn't losing my mind, they were fireflies! hundreds of fireflies lined the roads as i drove to ang & todd's, practically a mini-firework welcoming committee. it was the most amazing thing, and all i could do was smile as i saw them illuminate, as if just for me.

the broken part is this: somewhere along the way, from the last time i had thought of fireflies, i had forgotten about them. not the amnesia type of forgetting, but the 'out of sight, out of mind' sort of forgetting, which, given how happy they make me is just plain sad.

why is it that i can remember every single negative remark directed at me for years, and yet i cannot remember how much i love fireflies? how is it even possible that i can remember cruel words hurled over a decade ago, but struggle to remember the kind words of a friend from last week? how can it be so much easier to remember hurt than to remember things that bring me joy?

how does one remember the things that they have a great propensity to forget?


new beginnings

another thing that i love about fall is the fact that life goes back to normal.

even when i was in school, i hated summer, beyond the dreaded heat, it's the annoyance that the people you most wanted to see were away, or worked weird hours, and the fact that the usual routine of life was just tossed out the window. not that i'm such a big fan of routine for myself, but i have always had the selfish tendency to want the people in my life to be where i can find them. (note to self: need to work on that.)

but yesterday...yesterday i walked to the church to get the sermon presentation on the G5, then walked to starbucks for an americano, then went out with erynne, and then ended the day by hanging out with alicia, two people i have barely seen given the madness of summer. good, good times.

and, we start our small group after the summer's hiatus tomorrow night. i'm exceedingly glad we took the summer off, given the madness of this year, i definitely needed the break. but i'm excited to get going again. it looks like we have a new member (welcome, michelle!) and many of the old ones returning, and i cannot wait to see how we are going to be challenged to grow this year... because if there is anything that the book of job taught us last year, it is that the challenges will come.

and so, before i go get ready for my day, because this time of year always makes me yearn to see les miserables yet again, i will leave you with the timeless words of victor hugo...
have no fear of robbers or murderers. they are external dangers, petty dangers. we should fear ourselves. prejudices are the real robbers; vices the real murders. the great dangers are within us. why worry about what threatens our heads or purses? let us think instead of what threatens our souls.


what i love about fall...

it's 7:02am. i've been up for about an hour and a half, a little later than usual, but this is one of those rare days when i can walk to work...and this fact, i love.

i know that i've annoyed some people with my extreme glee over the fact that at least according to my calendar, summer is over. all the teachers in my acquaintance, i believe, have collectively pooled their resources and put a contract out on my life. :-) so, in my defense, i will try to explain why i love fall so very much, beyond the fact that it means that summer is over, and won't be back for three whole seasons!

i love fall because:
  • the days are shorter. i love leaving for work when it is still dark outside, it makes me feel like i am being so productive, and getting so much more done. and conversely, i dislike going to bed when there is some semblence of light outside, which, given my occasional gramma-like bedtime, happens in the summer. i dislike feeling like i'm missing out on something, but not enough to not go to sleep when i'm tired.
  • the clothes are better. in the summer, you have to dress to stay cool. in the fall, you can dress how you want to.
  • the food is better. apple pie. apple strudel. apple crisp. sweet potato anything. pumpkin anything. not to mention the fact that because it is not sweltering outside, one can bake!
  • the colors are better. yes, green is okay (it is also michigan state's color, and that, in & of itself should tell you something is not right with the color), but oranges and reds and yellows, and leaves crunching under your feet as you walk...not to mention...
  • the smell of fall...
  • college football (in spite of the previously mentioned breakdown) whether or not i can watch it on television...
  • the fact that fall ushers in the christmas season...
there are more, so many more, but here are just a few of the reasons that i am obnoxiously happy of the fact that summer is no longer among us.

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