Sunday, December 2, 2007

An early New Year's resolution

How different would our interactions with each other be if in looking at each other, our first thought was “Here is the work of God’s hand—someone that God is using to reflect his own likeness.” My husband has been preaching through the book of James, and in last week’s passage we came across this: (James 3: 9, 10) “With [the tongue] we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.”

Through a variety of circumstances, it occurred to me that this would have been and is very present in Jesus's interactions with people. After all, can we even imagine that Christ—the living Word himself, through whom the Father made each of us and all things would ever have forgotten that he made us in his likeness?

So here's my goal for the New Year: read through the gospels remembering this. Watch how it shapes Jesus's interactions with people and attempt to look at the world through the same lens.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Thankful meme

The latest meme going around is "Five things I'm thankful for." Unfortunately, this thing kicks off the Christian school trained self-righteous little prig in me . . . there's still a little voice in the back of my brain that says, "Now the right answer is to start off with, 'I'm thankful for Jesus because he died for my sins, and . . .' " It's a true thing that if this were the fourth grade Bible class assignment on why we're to be thankful to God, that answer would have received an "A."

Now, God knows that I'm thankful for my salvation, and a whole host of other spiritual riches, etc., but I'm going to skip quoting the first chapter of each of Paul's epistles (you can go back and reread them yourselves). And my husband Rob has written beautifully about our children (and over-flatteringly about me). I'm also going to skip returning the favor. I'd rather tell him in person how thankful I am for him--it's not generally something I care to share with the rest of you. And finally, I'm going to skip starting my list with coffee. I'm afraid that the title of this blog makes my hopeless addiction all too clear already. So:

1a. The full moon on a clear night at 8500 feet
1b. The alpenglow on the mountains
1c. The sun shining so brightly off the snow that it's blinding.
2a. My daughter's (age 7) questions that continually remind me to keep on noticing the world
2b. My daughter's (age 4) asking "Can I help?"
2c. My daughter's (age 1 1/2) asking "Other one--cookie? Pease?" It's just too cute. I'm a sucker.
3. The NY Times Sunday crossword with my husband
4a. Immersing myself in a book I love to spend time with old friends--the characters
4b.. Immersing myself in a book I love to notice the beautiful way that the author has constructed the story, polished the sentences, included all the best details and left out the uninteresting ones.
4c. Immersing myself in a conversation with someone else who loves books to debate all the merits and non-merits of fine and not-so-fine literature
5a. Doctor Who DVD's with campy special effects, goofy costuming, and great commentary
5b. Looney Toons Golden Collection DVD's. I still love Road Runner and Coyote.

Enough to be going on with.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Emerging adulthood II

In going back for further reflections on emerging adulthood, I think that we need to start with a question: What does it mean to be an adult? Is it to simply to have one more birthday, to turn eighteen? At eighteen I could vote, join the military, be sentenced as an adult if I committed a crime. I could do whatever I wanted without the consent of anyone else, except, idiotically enough, enjoy a glass of wine with my dinner at the restaurant. And yet. I was not financially independent. There was still a lot that I didn’t know. I didn’t feel the sort of assurance and confidence that the child me expected adults to feel. And culturally I wasn’t expected to feel like an adult or to act like one. I didn’t expect to be treated as an adult.

Most of us, in making the transition from childhood to adulthood have very little useful sense of what it is that we’re supposed to be growing into. Is it maturity? Well, there are some remarkably immature senior citizens out there. Though maturity is certainly an element. And what about the various aspects of maturity? Physical, emotional, spiritual. What else is involved?

I think that adulthood is that season in our lives when we can reasonably demand, expect, and be viewed and treated as an equal—as an adult—by all those adults around us in society. We’ve given it some age tags: by this point you should at least be starting to make these adjustments, even if you haven’t finished them. And it’s a relational thing. It’s me expecting to be treated in a certain way and you treating me in that way. It’s younger people asserting their peerage and older members acknowledging it. Rights and responsibilities and priviliges are all tied in, but all they all stem from a certain basic recognition of the equal worth of each human being and how we give each other the dignity of recognizing that equality.

So why does our culture, one supposedly based on freedom and equality have so many problems with people making that transition, and what's the church's role in all this? More, eventually.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

WWJS to me?

I've been tagged in a meme by a good friend (thanks, Happy) who's decided that my not having posted in the last couple of weeks needs to be corrected. Never mind that my time has been consumed with travelling cross-country with my husband and three small children for his job interviews, and as a result, purchasing a house, securing a mortgage, starting to pack up our home for an interstate move. Life is feeling more than a little bit out of control. I feel like I'm making huge decisions without the time or flexibility to consider them properly. And oh, yeah. In all of this, the laundry still needs to get done, my kids need to get fed and I'm also burning a fair bit of writing energy on an ever more futile attempt to complete NaNoWriMo 2007. Don't know what posessed me to sign up for that one. The Holy Spirit maybe. Or my own cracked psyche. Or one working through the other. It somehow seemed--well, if not like a good idea, at least like something that God was for some insane reason indicating.

So then I got tagged with this thing. And actually managed to stop for all of about 30 seconds this morning and start to pray and sort of start to think about it and heard the non-audible voice of God. Jesus. That Jewish, bearded, blue-jeans and Birkenstocks clad Son of God that lurks around my subconcious. His speaking inside my head the way that characters from a book do when I'm reading or writing. "I am with you."

Christ with me. Leading me. I'm not alone in this chaos, nor is it simply random. In this insane season, Jesus is walking me through it. And, oh yeah. When Jesus first said that to his disciples it was together with the Great Comission. Maybe that's God's way of reminding me that all this feeling of being swept up is simply the way that I get to where God is taking me.

The person who started this over at Lord, I Believe asked everyone who responded to link back, so here's the link.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Emerging adulthood

To anyone working in ministry with 20 and 30 somethings, I highly reccommend Christian Smith's article "Getting a Life" in the Nov/Dec issue of Books and Culture. It's given me a lot to think about and hopefully will spark a whole series of related posts.

You can read the article here:

Item the first: The mere premise of the article came as a huge relief. The whole idea of "emerging adulthood," this extended, weird, in-between time . . . this difficult transition of coming to feel like an adult and expect to be acknowledged as one by someone 30 years my senior . . . The fact that these issues are not just not unique to my husband and me, but are in fact epidemic in our demographic means that we're not just making them up. They're real. How to think about these things, how to deal with them, how the church needs to minister in this context . . . all these thing hopefully forthcoming.

How to win the bean bag toss

So I took my kids to the annual elementary school Halloween carnival last night. One of the games is a bean bag toss where you throw the bean bags through holes in a decorated board. So I took three bean bags and was showing my 19-month old how to do it. Tossed one through a whole. She looked at the board. Looked behind the board. Saw the bean bag lying on the ground. I handed her a bean bag. She carefully walked behind the board and set it on the ground next to the other one. I showed her how to put the beanbag through the holes. She stuffed a few through. I clapped. then I held out the bowl of prize candy so she could choose one. She took a bag of malted milk balls . . . and stuffed them through the hole . . .

Monday, October 15, 2007


Okay, so this is sort of stupid. But it made me laugh, and isn't this so like what Jesus says about laying up eternal treasure? That we have not much clue about what is really worth what and Satan's constantly trying to cheat us out of the good stuff . . .

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Meme Non-Response

So my husband Rob tagged me for this meme that’s going around on the book "Unchristian". Gee, thanks, dear. You know just how much time I don’t have. The rules of the thing are to list three negative perceptions about Christians and name one thing that Christians ought to be known for. I started working my way back through the blogs of people who had participated, trying to consider what I wanted to say, and something started to bother me. I wasn’t sure what. It was one of those “something’s niggling on the back burner of my soul” type of things. When my intuition knows what I think but it hasn’t bothered to coalesce into words yet.

I started cutting and pasting. Going through blogs, taking what people had said on the meme, putting it all into one large document where I could look at it all together, even if my stupid dial-up connection decided to spaz out again from having more than three windows up at a time. Started to feel insufficient. A lot of bright and articulate people have replied to this thing. What did I have to add that hadn’t already said? Started to feel annoyed. The constraints of the meme seemed to demand that the answers people gave to the question “What ought Christians be known for?” would be vague, nebulous things. The sort of spiritual aspirations that sound great in as over-arching principles for everyone everywhere, but how do I tell if I’m doing that right now?

Which then gave way to my natural cynicism with the question: “If everyone who blogged in response to this meme had used that same amount of time to practice the things that they were blogging about, what would the results look like? Do we even know?” I saw some phenomenal answers to the last point of the meme, the positive, what Christians ought to be known for: Radical love, living what we believe, shalom, generosity. But how do we get there? How do we change the cultural perception of all Christians, everywhere? The only way possible. One Christian at a time. And that means you. That means me. It means that making sure something happens today in the one life I have any power over—my own.

So this is my response to the meme—I’m reversing it. You’ve all shown me that we know what the church ought to look like. At least, we know how she can look better than she does. So let’s start in on her make-over, beginning with our own lives. Look at the thing that you said that Christians ought to be known for and do something “above and beyond” this week to enact it. Love extravagantly or radically or ridiculously. Be a peacemaker. Work to bring harmony where there is discord. Make a point of donating that time or money to something that you’ve always meant to get around to donating to. Do it with the intentionality of serving Christ and in order to more be the sort of Christian that you want people to think of when they think about what Christians are like. And if you’d like to post about the results on your blogs, I’d love to read about it. By the grace of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, let’s see how much we can let God do in our lives.

I tag Rob.

Tag whoever tagged you and also whoever you tagged.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Anger, forgiveness, and spiritual maturity

I watch my 4 year old and 19 month old. The toddler holds out her prized stuffed animal to her big sister, showing off how incredibly wonderful Bunny is. The preschooler thinks Bunny is being offered, grabs it, and saunters off. The toddler panics, screams and clobbers her sister, rescuing the security Bunny. And the preschooler howls, justified, because her little sister can hit pretty hard and because, at age four, she knows that hitting is against the rules. And here I have, in a sense, two wronged children, both of whom were in the wrong and neither having done anything wrong. Both thought they were acting reasonably. Neither understood the other’s reaction. Both were hurt in the exchange. Both are angry. And what do I say? “Tell her you’re sorry. Give your sister a hug. She didn’t understand.” Not, note “you didn’t get hit that hard. Deal with it. What are you crying for anyway?” Nor: “Yeah, she hit you. Go ahead—hit her back.”

Which is all to say, I think that learning to forgive is part of growing up in Christ. Which from my POV is pretty cool. In forgiving, we practice letting go. We practice unselfishness. We practice looking for the bigger perspective. And we practice truth-saying. Because it is impossible to forgive a wrong that isn’t truly named in the first place. I can see myself growing that way. Getting bigger, wiser, more mature, and I don't think that it's just pride talking here. In order to fully grow up into the women that God wants us to be, we need to grow.

I think an awful lot of the time we’re like small feral children, blundering around with each other, trying to protect our own little security bunnies of pride, wealth, ego, etc. My seven year old knows enough to not try take Bunny out of the toddler’s sight. She understands that there’s only so much she can expect from a 19 month old when Bunny is threatened. That’s a step of maturity. And eventually, the toddler will grow up enough that she won’t have to haul Bunny everywhere. But she’s not there yet, nor can I expect it. But I can start to teach even her forgiveness. “Look. Your sister didn’t understand. Here’s Bunny back. He’s fine. I’m sorry you got scared.” Heaven forbid that Bunny ever gets lost in the airport.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Coffee Randoms

The pop-hiss penetrates
dreams of sex, dogs, and undercover missions
a moment before the thick pungency
tickles one nostrilprods a single eyelid open to
shut. Fifty watts piercing
an undilated pupil.
I listen to my pot sputter
and complain, and think about not
getting up,
drifting on
undulating aromas, across time
and space--E-mc2, Star Trek
sling shot effect--
At forty degrees chill crawls
up my blue jeans. The feeble fire isn't
any good, and my sweatshirt
is insufficient.Seven-thirty, and bluck sludge arrives
bearing heat.

I don't want to crawl out
from under my itchy warm
wool blanket.

Eleven A.M., I wander down
familiar stairs
to grab the last mug
left for me, warming
and drink it with the crossword

I want to get up when I get up.
Whipping bitter chill turns
ears painfully present until I
step through double doors
to organic chemistry--
the oxygen steals electron density from
the hydrogengives it a delta plus
making aldehydes highly reactive--
I sip steaming lifeblood,
bitter heat burning my tongue
struggling to stay awake in
the deepest, softest

My bed is awfully wonderfully soft.

"You smell like coffee," my
boyfriend's roommate tells me,
the way someone would say
"You smell like cigarettes."

The smell soaked into
the carpet by the third week of school,
along with a couple of
Rorschach coffee-blots.

I blink hard and
the clock still reads
four thirty-seven, A.M.
My tears sting
I consider the stacks of homework--three
classes down, two to go on my side;
two down and a paper to go for
my roommate who is staring
at her computer.
"Ready for the next pot?"

My half concious muscles protest but
I roll out of bed
my bare feet hit silky-synthetic carpet
catch my own scent
and pour half a pot of coffee in
my Bengal tiger mug.
The heat soaks through my fingers
and a stray drip hisses on the warmer