a cup of coffee—real coffee— home-browned, home ground, home made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream that never cheated, but was real cream from its birth, thick, tenderly yellow, perfectly sweet, neither lumpy nor frothing on the java: such a cup of coffee is a match for twenty blue devils and will exorcise them all. |
henry ward beecher

i think he takes his coffee as seriously as i do... maybe a bit more!

photo taken at a starbucks
on the boulevard saint-michel, paris, may 2006



i don't know about you, but there are a few moments every day, that for me are the epitome of near perfection. they are small moments that make me happy and so grateful for the life that i have been granted.

one such moment is just before i fall asleep, especially when i have the time to enjoy the process. i am not one of those people who put their head on the pillow and find themselves immediately asleep. i've never had such super-human ability, and envy those who have the gift. no, instead, falling asleep for me is a process, usually including a book.

but my very favorite part is just after i've gotten into bed, and the realization that for at least the next however many hours, i have nothing to do but sleep. i find such luxury in that moment. to me, it is pure bliss.

there is another one, that given the fact that it might be considered too much information, i won't mention here. perhaps i will post it in the comments. then it's up to you whether or not you want to take the chance!

but i wonder, what is your favorite moment of the day?

feel free to leave a comment. and if your favorite moment is personal, then feel free to remain anonymous!



as i was doing this morning's life journal reading, i came across some words of Jesus that seemed to jump off the page at me.

let me set the stage. in the days preceding this, Jesus fed the five thousand. a few days later, Jesus fed another four thousand. i don't know about you, but i am not sure that i ever realized before how closely these two meals happened. and then, at the beginning of Matthew chapter 16, there was yet another run in with the pharisees. this time they demanded that Jesus show them a sign to prove his authority.

Matthew continues the story...
Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread. "Watch out!" Jesus warned them. "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn't brought any bread.
Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, "You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread? Don't you understand even yet? Don't you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up? Why can't you understand that I'm not talking about bread? So again I say, `Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'"

Then at last they understood that he wasn't speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
{Matthew 16:5-12}
don't you remember? it was only days ago when Jesus fed the first group, and even less days since he fed a larger group with more food, and here, the disciples' minds are so wrapped up in the immediacy of what they consider the priority, they completely miss what Jesus is telling them.

don't you remember? i can hardly fault the disciples here, because of the countless times i have forgotten all the ways that God has provided for me in the midst of a struggle or need. like this past summer, before the missions trip to Poland, when financial support was late in coming, i spent way too much time focusing on what i didn't have, and human ways to remedy it... even though i have years of experience and six missions trips with Global 180 where God has always provided.

don't you remember? we don't need to remember God's faithfulness when everything is going well. it seems during those times, our 'remember muscle' works just fine. it gets weak when we've been waiting... for healing, for the answer to prayer that seems so impossible, for those things we're almost too afraid to actually utter in prayer for fear that our hearts may break.

but this is when we most need to remember. this is when i most need to remember all the God has done for me throughout my life.

don't you remember?


gates of hell

man enjoys living on the edge of his dreams
and neglects the real things of the world
which are so beautiful.
the ignorant and indifferent
destroy beautiful things
merely by looking at them.
[things that] remake the soul of him
who understands them. |
auguste rodin

i took this photo of auguste rodin's the gates of hell at the rodin museum gardens in paris in march of 2008. in an effort to get the sculpture without people in front of it, i waited. and waited. and waited! these three people, who were not together, simply wouldn't leave. then suddenly there was this moment when they were all standing right in front of it looking up, as the three shades on the top of the sculpture were looking down at them. i couldn't resist myself.



   enigma |iˈnigmə|
   noun ( pl. -mas or -mata |-mətə|)
   a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand.
     • a riddle or paradox.

we're in the process of starting a new venue at PORTICO, and last night we had the first town hall meeting to see who would be interested in helping start up the new venue. i find the whole process and the anticipation of the outcome exciting. to be part of something great from the beginning is always pretty amazing.

when jeff asked those of us in the meeting which evening we'd be more interested in the venue happening, between saturday or sunday, only one hand went up for saturday: mine. so on the way home, sharon asked me why i was interested in saturday, and at first, i really wasn't sure how to answer her.

the truth is, i am an enigma, sometimes even to myself.

i am a girl who needs to live in a large city, but loves the small town feel of the area i live in.

personality-wise, i am split right down the middle: half sanguine {generally light-hearted, funloving, a people person, loves to entertain, spontaneous, and confident} and half melancholic {thoughtful ponderer, highly creative, depressed, perfectionist, often a loner and chooses to stay alone and reflect}.

when i am alone, i wish i was out with people. when out with people, i wish i was alone.

so i guess it is no surprise that when it comes to my home church, the oddity continues...

i love PORTICO, including its size, but i am never fully comfortable in a large crowd of people. which is why i think a smaller venue with a completely different feel is appealing. and i won't even get into the fact that i love the non-traditional, non-sunday element.

we all, i suppose, have our enigmatic moments. whether or not we pay attention to them is probably another story entirely.

what is an enigmatic facet of your life? share them with me so i can feel more normal. which is an odd thing to ask, because i hate being normal... good grief.



every day is a fresh beginning,
every morn is the world made new. | sarah chauncey woolsey

it's monday, and truth be told, i am tired. i'm really not sure why i've been so tired lately, discounting, of course, last thursday evening's visit back to my teenage years!

this fall season has gone by so quickly, it's been quite crazy. last night at PORTICO, we said goodbye to phil and marisa aud, who are leaving us for a church in georgia. i'm really excited for them, i love new beginnings, and they really have waited so long for this, but they will definitely be missed. enjoy your adventure, my friends!

it's been 11 months since i have seen the majority of my family, and i am counting the days (38 days, 10 hours, 19 minutes) until my plane leaves. i'm so looking forward to spending a week with them, especially with my favorite little people... who are looking less and less like little people every day. one thing is certain, i will laugh. just look at that picture! how could you not laugh with such awesomeness happening just for your entertainment?!

so, no matter what this week holds, enjoy it. and don't forget to laugh!



art, like morality,
consists in drawing the line
somewhere. | g.k. chesterton



in the shadows of tall buildings
of fallen angels on the ceilings
oily feathers in bronze and concrete
faded colors, pieces left incomplete
the line moves slowly past the electric fence
across the borders between continents

in the cathedrals of new york and rome
there is a feeling that you should just go home
and spend a lifetime finding out
just where that is |
joan osborne, cathedrals


right now: francis chan & donald miller

francis chan
  • there has been a twisting of scripture to attempt to keep what we want in life.
  • you cannot have the 'american dream' and follow Jesus— they cannot be reconciled; they cannot co-exist.
  • we have redefined obedience: say a father were to ask his child to clean his room. two hours later the child returns and when the father asks if his room is cleaned, the child replies that he didn't do it, but he did memorize what the father asked him to so... not really going to fly in that situation.
  • 1 Peter 4:12 "Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you."
  • we need to not be surprised at the trials and trouble in our lives.
  • 1 Peter 5:8 "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour."
  • while we may want to get angry and fight with those creating division and conflict in our lives, we need to respond with grace.
  • God is the 'God of all grace' {1 Peter 5:10 "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."}
  • when we suffer with Christ, there is a fellowship; a sharing
  • we don't need a comforter when we are comfortable.

donald miller
  • kids growing up without dads are 70% more likely to commit suicide or drop out of school; girls are more likely to get pregnant.
  • forgiveness = taking the burden of what someone has done to you without holding them responsible.
  • God designed us to be interdependent with him; then sin happened, so we are here on earth fatherless, on a journey back to him.
  • Matthew 6:6, "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen."
  • Jesus calling God 'Father' here is radically disrupting the people's religious paradigm; this is the God who Moses himself couldn't even look at!
  • 70% of atheists think that the church should answer the call of fatherlessness in our society.
  • calling men into relational ministry is difficult.
  • when boys grow up without dads, they become oppressors.
  • when girls grow up without dads, they become victims.
  • every crap thing that happens to you is a chance for you to get stronger.


right now: george barna

i had the privilege of attending the right now conference simulcast at PORTICO last weekend. there were only about 17 of us, but those who stuck to the end all agreed that for $10 and the amazing speakers, there really should have been more people there.

here are my notes from the first session, what i learned from master leaders by george barna. i missed the first half of his talk as i was doing registration, but i still have copious notes.

  • a leader's job is to help people understand and make sense of reality.
  • there is a difference between teaching and leadership; too many people with the gift of teaching/preaching confuse it with the God-given gift of leadership.
leadership checkpoints:

1. leaders can change reality, but they cannot change people.
  • if people don't have the desire an will to change themselves, they will not.
  • once a person reaches the age of 13, they change very little.
  • our best strategy is to work with who people are, who God has created them to be.
  • if you are absolutely committed to changing lives, work with children.

2. nobody is the complete leadership package, so it's important to work as part of a leadership team.
  • there is a fine line between arrogance and self conficence.
  • great leadership teams are: small in numbers (4-6); spend time together, know each other; have shared vision, values and passion; are vulnerable and communicate with each other; strive to empower people.

3. the most undervalued and overlooked skill a leader needs is listening.
  • it takes practice and discipline to know how to listen properly.
  • we need to seriously evaluate how good we are at listening.
  • do the people i work with feel safe to tell me what is on their mind?

4. leaders must master handling conflict and confrontation.
  • we must normalize conflict.
  • when you sense something happening, seize the initiative and address it.
  • know the facts and understand the facets of the situation.
  • position yourself as a friend and not a foe of those involved.
  • be sure to ask clarifying questioning and listen to answers.
  • seek a win-win outcome.
  • the goal is to solve the problem, not win the fight.
  • sometimes you have to create conflict within your team.
  • leaders bring danger with them, beause they seek the truth.
  • do people appreciate my leadership because it is safe or because i make them uncomfortable and challenge them?

5. what is success?
  • you get what you measure (eg. attendance, $, programs, building)
  • success is helping people achieve their potential in Christ.
  • great leadership is not synonymous with popularity.
  • never ask people following you to do what you yourself would not do.

6. do not accept a leadership position unless you are willing to pay a steep price.
  • great leaders are identifiable by their passion for truth and justice, but this will make people uncomfortable and make some enemies.
  • pressure purifies and prepares you for a higher calling.
  • two kinds of pressure: internal and eternal.
  • ignore external pressure.
  • pay attention to internal pressure, it is more real.
Foundation for handling pressure:
  • lean on God for strength and encouragement.
  • examine motivations for leading, be honest with hwo you are an why you are leading; what are your convictions?
  • rely on your close family and friends for honesty and feedback.


  • people need to be led.
  • leading isn't a job, it's a calling of God.
  • success = partnering with God to see lived changed.



a great benefit of sabbath keeping is that we learn to let God take care of us— not by becoming passive and lazy, but in the freedom of giving up our feeble attempts to be god in our own lives. |
marva j. dawn


the road

the road goes ever on and on
down from the door where it began.
now far ahead the road has gone
and i must follow, if i can,
pursuing it with eager feet,
until it joins some larger way
where many paths and errands meet.
and whither then?
i cannot say. | j.r.r. tolkien



how did it get so late so soon?
it's night before it's afternoon.
december is here before it's june.
my goodness how the time has flewn.
how did it get so late so soon? |
dr. seuss


granted or gratitude

i don't know about you, but contentment can be the most elusive thing in the world for me. it is one of my most basic struggles. one of the biggest ways i struggle with contentment is always wanting to be in paris. it doesn't matter what day it is or what i am doing, if you ask me at any moment in life where i want to be, i can pretty much guarantee you that the answer would be the city of lights.

there are different ways of coping with things... the weapon of choice in the phaneuf family has almost always been humor.

how i love my family!

when it comes to life
the critical thing is whether
you take things for granted
or take them with gratitude. |
g.k. chesterton

p.s. the picture is a product of staying after work for the Book of Acts class, wanting to be in paris, and having eaten too many gummy bears in one sitting...



my plans for yesterday didn't quite go as i had hoped. i only got the tree out of storage. but today, i got to make it pretty. it's not quite finished yet, i still have to get some silver tinsel. i haven't used the blue/silver decorations in years, and only decided to do so this year, because the tree shares the top of my cedar chest with a silver Eiffel Tower. so, i couldn't being myself to use the the gold/bronze/dark red combination this year. sometimes i can hardly live with myself!

he who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. | roy l. smith


"take rest; a field that has rested
gives a bountiful crop." |

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