running through jello

there are exactly 34 hours until my friend barb picks me up to take me to the airport. usually by this point, i have done at least two packing trials, worked long and hard enough at work to only have one or two projects left for my last day, and have the next 33 hours carefully planned out.

this time? not so much.

this has been a week when life seems to feel much like attempting to run through jello. the harder i try to get things accomplished, the more things keep popping up that have to be taken care of before i can go. today's to-do list is almost a full page long, as unfinished items from every other day this week have jumped to it... giving today, if everything got accomplished, an opportunity to be supremely epic.

but to be honest, i don't want an epic day. on my last day before i leave, i want laugh with my coworkers. i want to work hard and be able to close my office door knowing everything is finished and i did it all to the best of my ability. i want to have coffee with a friend at starbucks. i would love to have the time to find my camera's battery charger so the camera can come with me! in short, i just want a normal day.

so, in honor of my desire for a normal day, i will turn to somene whose words never fail to move me, inspiring me to live better...
listen to your life. see it for the fathomless mystery that it is. in the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis, all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace. {F. Buechner}
all moments are key moments. my challenge today is to remember this.



in these last few days before we leave for poland, it is easy to get caught up in the flurry of activity and all the things that never seem to get done. i am sure anyone who has ever been three days away from a missions trip has ever laid down at night trying to conjure up things to do the next day. if such a person exists, i would love to be mentored by them!

unfortunately, it is way too easy to neglect the truly important things during this time. things like time with God. a friend once said at the end of a mission that he realized that the prayer and spiritual preparation he did before a trip was more key to his 'success' in the mission than anything he did during the mission, and i am inclined to agree with him... which makes the propensity to skip these times for the more pressing things so much worse.

so, with prayer on my mind, i was reminded of a quote by e.m. bounds on prayer that i came across years ago that transformed the way i look at prayer. it was shortly after my grandmother's death, and i keenly missed hearing her say that she was praying for me. i missed her prayers, even though i seldom heard them for myself. then, i came across this...
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 prayer. prayers are deathless. the lips that uttered them may be closed in death, the heart that felt them may have ceased to beat, but the prayers live before God, and God's heart is set on them. prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world.
even now, a decade after i first memorized this, these words still bring tears to my eyes. and of all the incredible people in my life who have volunteered to pray for me while i am away, there is a special thread of joy that the prayers of my grandmother, uttered so long ago for her materialistic, hair-obsessed, self-centered granddaughter, will join in with the others before God.



the assumption could be made that if someone has been on, say, eight missions trips in the past decade, about to go on the ninth, that said person should not be surprised by the pre-trip distractions and craziness.

sadly, i have blown that assumption right out of the water.

from a total lack of faith about raising the needed support, to a suitcase with a hole in it, all the way to questioning whether or not i should even be going on the trip, these past few weeks have been quite the 'party'!

and now, here we are. leaving in 5 days, 13 hours and 20 minutes, and this time, i have allowed words to distract me. couple that with the fact that some of the people that i most trust to talk me down from whichever ledge i find myself on, are away. mom & dad are in the northwest territories on a mission trip themselves, working at a camp for first nations children, and battling bugs the size of teddy bears. {which, i must say is very cool...not the bug part, but definitely the part about my parents serving together.} it just means that i need to find other ways off the ledge, or, crazy thought, not get on one to start with.

when will i learn?

so now it is time to get serious. i have a full week, between work, packing, and all the loose ends still to be tied up before i go, and the last thing that i need is to be distracted.

at PORTICO, we've recently started a new series called uncommon sense: everyday wisdom from the book of proverbs, and in the first week, doug rhind spoke of what is probably my oldest favorite verse, proverbs 4:23...
guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.
this verse is my mandate for this week. i will not allow distractions of any kind to derail me from the last minute preparations, or the mission at hand.

and you have my permission to call me on it, should i waver.



last week i was talking with a friend about the Lord of the Rings movies. among other things we were sharing our favorite parts.

one of my favorite parts is at the beginning, when the four hobbits go to bree to meet gandalf at the inn of the prancing pony. they arrive, having narrowly escaped capture, only to discover that gandalf is not there. while waiting in the pub, frodo notices a man sitting in the shadows. he is hooded, and the only thing frodo can tell, is that the man with the ominous eyes is looking directly at him.

if you haven't seen the movie, i won't ruin it for you. {also, if you really haven't seen the movie, stop reading this, go get it & watch it now!} but remembering this scene reminded me of the first time i saw it. i didn't know who this dangerous ranger was, only that there was, indeed danger. but the thought made me a little sad, in that no matter how many times i have since watched the movie, i have never again felt how i did the first time a saw it.

the first time we experience anything, there is wonder and purity, and maybe a little fear. but these are all good things. our firsts open us up to the fact that no matter how old or experienced we are, there are still things to learn and be amazed by.

the problem is, as grown ups, with our busy, busy lives, we do not tend to pay attention to the firsts we encounter every day, and even less time to experience the wonder.

the first time we meet a new friend. read a book. visit a place. hear a piece of music that moves us unexpectedly. try something different.


my prayer for you today is that you would be present for all the wonder-filled first moments of your day. don't do the usual rush from one thing to the next. open your eyes, take the time, and experience all that this day has for you.


something to think about...

if you find yourself with not enough to think about today, take a listen to shane hipps' sermon from mars hill on march 30. you can find it here, number 31.

you may want to clear your schedule, as once you listen to mr. hipps, you'll need some time to ponder it all...

have a super monday!


book review: The Principle of the Path

It’s deceptively simple.

Truly, there is nothing in Andy Stanley’s book, The Principle of the Path, that you don’t already know, or that you wouldn’t figure out if you put your mind to it.

But, therein lies the rub…very few of us stop and actually think about this simple life principle.

In a nutshell, this ultra simple yet grossly overlooked principle states this: the path you are on determines where you are going.

Geographically, no one would argue with this point. If you want to go to New York City, heading west from Chicago isn’t going to get you there. If you want to go to Paris, hopping on a plane to Tokyo is not part of the plan.

Yet, when it comes to our lives, we ignore, or are blissfully unaware of the impact that our daily decisions have on our ultimate goals. The path leading to financial security is not strewn with credit card debt. If a healthy marriage is the goal, then ’innocently’ flirting with a single co-worker is nowhere on the map. To get that diploma, waiting until the night before the final to start studying isn’t the way to go.

While the basic premise of The Principle of the Path is simple, the message is vital. Stanley’s book is a reminder and a wake up call to all who have fallen asleep at the steering wheel of life.

I wish I had read it years ago.



it has been way too long since i've written. as i sat in my doctor's waiting room this afternoon, i was filled with guilt over my poor, neglected blog.

unfortunately, times of sickness and busyness {the busy preceded the sick} it seems that the creative part of my life is what takes the hardest hit.

so, i figured i would take a few moments before the cough medicine-induced sleep claims my already muddled brain, and let you know what has been happening...

  • my friends, kyle & beth, got married..
  • i laughed myself silly over these cards, especially this one.
  • in the middle of reading the divine commodity, which is challenging the way i look at life.
  • lost my voice.
  • our new church website went live this week.
  • my parents celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary on july 1.
  • i leave for poland in 23 days.
that's all i've got for now. i really must sleep. just know that i'm still here, and i promise i'll be better at the consistency thing.

good night!

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