Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

7 Reasons to Celebrate--Part 5



Christmas vacation...the movie and the actual experience!

7 Reasons to Celebrate--Part 4




Thursday, December 20, 2007

7 Reasons to Celebrate--Part 3



It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year


It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you "Be of good cheer"
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
It's the hap -happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It's the hap - happiest season of all

There'll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
There'll be much mistltoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When loved ones are near
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

There'll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
There'll be much mistltoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When loved ones are near
It's The Most Wonderful Time
It's The Most Wonderful Time
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!



Wednesday, December 19, 2007

7 Reasons to Celebrate--Part 2


Cookies...no need say more. Holiday food is the best!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Grace, 'Tis a Charming Sound

Grace, ’tis a charming sound,
Harmonious to mine ear;
Heaven with the echo shall resound,
And all the earth shall hear.
Grace first contrived the way
To save rebellious man;
And all the steps that grace display
Which drew the wondrous plan.
Grace first inscribed my name
In God’s eternal book;
’Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb,
Who all my sorrows took.
Grace led my roving feet
To tread the heavenly road;
And new supplies each hour I meet,
While pressing on to God.
Grace taught my soul to pray
And made mine eyes o’erflow;
’Twas grace which kept me to this day,
And will not let me go.
Grace all the work shall crown,
Through everlasting days;
It lays in heaven the topmost stone,
And well deserves the praise.
O let Thy grace inspire
My soul with strength divine
My all my powers to Thee aspire,
And all my days be Thine.
Augustus Montague Toplady
1740-1748

Sunday, December 9, 2007

let it snow

Coolest thing. This morning, my dad told me and my brothers that people driving in to church a certain way had seen snow on the tops of the mountains, so we decided to take this route back home to see if we could catch a glimpse. We're driving along, my youngest brother (skeptical of seeing snow when it was 56 degrees out), was the first to spot it. All of a sudden, there were the mountains , snow-capped. It was glorious! Beautiful. Breathtaking. It made me feel happy inside. It has been strange making preparations for a season that in years past has always been accompanied by frosty weather and snow days. I'm not going to lie...I do not miss having to let my car run for fifteen minutes before going anywhere, or chipping ice off the windshield, or shoveling my tires out of the driveway to leave for work in the morning. But there are some things I miss from the Minnesota plains. The whole world sounds different after a heavy snowfall. In the rural town where my family lived for 11 years, the snow covered the fields, and when the sun set, the light seemed to touch absolutely everything, making it glow.


It was refreshing to spot that fluffy white stuff and know that it's less than a hour away by car. Refreshing to know that we can live in Southern California comfort and still get our snow fix every once in a while!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

return to me



It was the most beautiful morning yesterday. When I woke up and took the dog outside, the world was shrouded in fog. Typical for inland Southern California mornings. I could see the sun was coming up, even though it too was enveloped in the thick white mist. Walking along the bottom of the hill was like walking through a dream. The world was silent. No one else existed aside from me and Luke.







By the time we got the top of the hill, the sun was breaking through, sending the mist scurrying into the atmosphere. It hung low in the valley, pocketed by the foothills. Glorious. I am constantly amazed at how beautiful the world is between the hour of 6 and 7 am. I think it is God's way of blessing those who are unfortunate enough to be up and about that time of day.







I have been memorizing Scripture week by week. Incidentally, my verse for last week was from Isaiah 44:22.


I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.












It was so beautiful to see this verse take place before my own eyes. My sin, my wrong, all my mistakes. They tend to weigh so heavily on me, and I carry them on my shoulders, a load much too great for me. It is so unnecessary. To God, they are nothing more than the mist, swept away by His truth of forgiveness, His light. Wow.








Return to me. He, who sweeps away all offense and sin. He, who redeems us, calls us His own, makes us whole.








Return.




Some more photos for your enjoyment.








Wednesday, October 31, 2007

spread out skies


Wow. It seems to be the only thing to say right now. The fires that ravaged San Diego County last week proved a vicious force. While my own home was not permanently scarred by heat and flame, the homes of many others I know were. The fires drove over a million people away from their neighborhoods, cars packed with what mattered most--photos, insurance papers and passports, pets, and family.

My own family was evacuated. I was pleasantly surprised at myself when I was packing up to leave the house. What can't I live without? Surprisingly, just about everything. I took some clothes, all my photos, my laptop, cell phone, cameras, and ipod. My guitar. My Bible. I surveyed the room, scanning the bookshelves, drawers, and closet, certain I was missing something important. But I wasn't.

The photo above is one I took from the backyard a couple days ago, evidence of the stunning beauty of the world. A brief moment of grace, shining on our broken, burned world. It amazes me how there can be so much pain and heartache and confusion in one day. And then the next...peace. Stillness. Something so magnificently awesome, I could have never imagine it on my own.

Monday, October 15, 2007

touch

A week ago, I was on the streets of downtown San Diego with a church group, handing out granola bars, bananas, peanuts, and bottles of water to the homeless people bedded down on the cement for the night. More than they were thankful for the food and water, they seemed most appreciative of our conversation. To speak and be heard. That was more important to them than nutrition and sustenance.



One guy, who looked suspiciously like a young Santa Claus, rolled over on his back , hands under his head to talk about bowling. Bowling. Another guy told us how he used to play the voice of the Pillsbury Dough Boy and Marvin the Martian. He sounded just like them. Yet another older man sat up and watched the cars go by while he shared how he had learned to run and pray at the same time, like David fleeing Saul in the Old Testament.



They all had a normal, regular life before they found themselves on the street. They weren't born into that life. It claimed them. And somehow, they were stunningly hopeful. I knew I was going to drive back into the suburbs that night and sleep in my bed, under clean blankets, with a glass of water close at hand. It seems so unfair. I could be one of them.



I was trying to hand out the last of my granola bars before we left for the night. I lowered the cardboard box down to one woman, who I had earlier seen meticulously folding and smoothing out a pair of pants that she wasn't wearing.



"Are they soft?" she asked me.



"Umm, I don't know." I picked one up. Squeezed lightly with my hand. Set it back down. "They feel kinda of crunchy," I told her.



"Let me see." She fingered one of the shiny wrapped bars and shook her head as she withdrew her hand. "You show me."



She grabbed my hand and shoved a granola bar into my fingers, holding on with hers.



"I'll take one," some guy I assumed had been sleeping next to her sat up.



I bent over and leaned across the blankets on the ground, stretching out the box towards him.



"No. Have her give it to you," the pant-less lady said, grabbing at my hand again, stuffing a granola bar into it, pulling on my arm to reach him. I nearly fell over onto both of them.



It seemed bizarre. But walking away, I knew what had happened. She didn't care that she couldn't eat the granola bars. Even though she had felt them for herself, she wanted me to show her, not at arm's length, but up close and personal. She wanted to touch me.



It was the first time I had done something like that, and I guess I didn't know what to expect. But it wasn't this. Not people with lives like mine, feelings like mine, needs like mine. They were polite (mostly), intelligent, interactive. To them it seemed the food was an afterthought. They wanted us. I think we could have shown up with empty hands and they wouldn't have cared. It was our voices, our ears, our eyes, our hands. That's what they craved.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007



"It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched, for they are full of the truthless ideals which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real they are bruised and wounded."
~W. Somerset Maugham~

Friday, September 21, 2007

community




I love that commercial for some insurance company. The one that beings with a business woman stopping the pizza delivery boy from stepping in front of a car at an intersection. Someone sees it, and they in turn are inspired to perform their own good deed, which is seen by someone else, who also goes on to do their own good deed. And so on and so forth. I like it, because the idea so intricately ties together the human race, and perhaps our intrinsic urge to do good.




So often among Christian circles, we hear about man's sin nature. How we are really all born with the awful desire to do terrible things all the time. I'm not saying we don't have that sin nature, because I believe we do, but I never hear anyone talk about our desire to do good. To help others. I think that we are all born with a serving nature, not just a sin nature.




I like the idea that all it takes is one person's good deed to inspire a slough of others. You don't have to believe in God to save someone's life, or help someone carry a heavy bag, or hold the door open for the peson with their arms full. I think that what a lot of people believe in is people and the global community that we live in. And that is good.




Not much for theology, I know, but I think it can hold water. We're not destined to depravity. We were created for service and community.




Sunday, September 9, 2007

purpose


In the sermon at church today, our pastor, Matt, brought up God's indelible hand, the one that controls everything, and brings all things to pass as they should. We were looking at Jeremiah 29, where God speaks to the Israelites after they have been taken into exile in Babylon.


v. 4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon...


God directed them into that exile--it was no mistake. He didn't turn his back for one brief moment, only to turn around and discover His people had been carried off by pagans. God carried them into exile. Not the Babylonians. He also promised He would carry them out in 70 years, because He knows the plans He has for them. Plans for prosperity and hope. A future.


Matt made the message tangible for us, talking about how God has brought us specifically into San Diego. It was neat for me to hear...I don't know how many other people there today were relatively new to the area, but it was cool to think that God does have a plan, and He is the one who carried me to this place. Not myself, or my job, or even my family. I feel as though I went through my own time of "exile" in the year before I made the move, and I am so ready to look forward into God's good, prosperous plan for my life. I am so grateful for His hope. And so glad that with Him, there will always be a future.


Friday, August 31, 2007

grace



Nothing is more necessary than grace--not even love. I am convinced of it. Without grace, how could we love? How could we forgive? How could we live with one another, let alone ourselves.




I guess that's what this blog will be about. Finding grace in myself, in the world, and in my God. Life is a rough journey, but I think it is worth all the bumps, dead-ends, and u-turns if we can remember to hold on to the beautiful, simple acts of grace that surround us everyday.




Thanks for coming along for the ride. Grace to you.