Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday.... a day for varying thoughts

Easter Sunday.  It's one of those days when folks dress their best for worship.  Even today, there are still hats and gloves (at least on one little girl I saw).  I'm not against putting on one's best.  In fact, I think it's a good idea to get dressed up every now and then.  However, I struggle with the societal standard set to do it at certain times.  And, how folks look at you and think about you if you don't meet the standard.  I don't mind not meeting the standard (though I did meet it today, out of freedom to do so).  However, my daughter hasn't quite gotten to the place where she can stand up for herself and not let it get to her.... or has she?  Actually, she probably has.  She is her own person, even at a young age.  And, has been for several years.  Today's outfit was supposed to be a nice, new multi-colored pair of shorts with a new top.  I didn't learn until this morning that the tops were all in the dirty clothes.  So, I tried to pick out some outfits that I thought would work and give her a choice.  A couple of skirts that she picked out, some cute shirts that are really t-shirts, and a top, capri outfit.  Nope.  None of them would do.  Absolutely not.  She wanted her smiley face t-shirt, nice jeans, and belt.  I finally gave in.  Why not?!  It's really the inside that matters, not the outside.  That is what I really believe.  So, why was I going through all this anyway?  Because it is Easter Sunday.  The day we are supposed to dress up.  But, what does dressing up have to do with Jesus' death and resurrection?  I'm not sure.  I don't think it has any connection.  I do want my daughter to learn societal standards, but she's going to have to learn to live into her own skin, just like I'm having to do, just like we're all having to do. 

I was frustrated with having to deal with the whole clothes thing.  But, I was also frustrated because it caused me to wrestle within myself over how I believed on the outside things and the inside things.  I don't consider it a battle and who won.   I offered choices, choices were rejected.  Not without some thoughtful dialogue.  My daughter wrote me a note, letting me know that I hadn't asked her how those clothes might make her feel and how it really needed to be her choice.  So, I guess she can be okay with her choices, even at an early age.  I just hope society doesn't snub her or talk bad to her.  If it does, I hope she can handle it.

On to church where in Sunday School we talked about the topic of grace and finished watching the last in the series of The Grace Card study.  We've been using this study for the past several weeks and watching clips from the movie and discussing the questions.

Then to service where we heard more about grace.  The kids sang, musicians from the praise band and orchestra played, the choir sang.  The pastor talked about grace in a variety of forms.  But, the most powerful was at the end where he set up a clip from the movie The Grace Card and showed it.  That was a powerful moment of extending grace and forgiveness. 

Though I had an invitation and a place to be for lunch, I declined because of this morning's craziness.  I wasn't going to be good company to be around today.  Dealing with kids can wear you out.  And, then after church, I felt like I would be less of good company to be around today.  So, I'm glad I sent regrets earlier, though I know I missed a wonderful afternoon.

On a beautiful Easter Sunday, I feel like I'm in a rabbit hole.   It may just be a feeling.  But, it's there.  I know I desire to be a person of grace, a person that lives out a life of forgiveness and reconciliation.  To me, I think I am.  But, I don't know.  I reach out to others, but I'm also self-centered and selfish.  I don't always see the needs around me.  Some times I get it right; some times I get it wrong.  I guess that is where grace comes in, hopefully where grace abounds.

In the red book of "A Guide to Prayer for All God's People", there is a prayer for Easter Sunday by the Mozarabic Sacramentary that brings today into focus:

"The Day of Resurrection has dawned upon us, the day of true light and life, wherein Christ, the life of believers, arose from the dead.  Let us give abundant thanks and praise to God, that while we solemnly celebrate the day of our Lord's resurrectioin, He may be pleased to bestow on us quiet peace and special gladness; so that being protected from morning to night by His favoring mercy, we may rejoice in the gift of our Redeemer.  Amen." (149)

"quiet peace"-- I need more of that in my life. 

The Benediction for Easter Sunday says this: "Lord Jesus, I have heard your knocking at the door of my life.  Come in and abide with me.  I throw open the door to you, my Lord.  Come in!  And never leave me.  Amen." (148)

I know that God has been knocking today, from this morning until now.  I wonder, is it one of the rooms I have tried to keep closed off, even if I've been unaware that I've been guarding it and have it closed?  Can I not simply surrender the areas that are going to be easy to surrender?  Sometimes I think I'm fully surrendered.  Then, God reveals the next layer.  God knocked.  I'm not sure what's there to find, but the door has been opened to allow Him in to abide. 

May grace and peace carry you on your journey,


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday... liturgy and reflection

This Maundy Thursday liturgy is taken from the "Lent to Easter liturgies: Year C by Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Spirituality Centre".  The Invitation for the Lord's Supper (Eucharist, Communion) is below as well as a liturgy for a foot washing.

Invitation (based on 1 Cor 11)
This is for you,
but it may change you
from one who is anxiously concerned
about their own redemption
into one who knows
that Christ’s body is the earth
and all who walk upon it,
are one in Him
into knowing that
we are not redeemed
by our being good
but by our being connected
into knowing that
daring to eat
at the table of Jesus Christ
has unimaginable consequences.
So come,
come to be made whole,
and to participate in the work
of making us one with Him and each other.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I find this liturgy for the Great Thanksgiving to be refreshing!

"It may change you".... it may change me.... Is that scary?  Is that exciting?  Is it a mixture of both?  For me, YES!  Both!!  Change is never easy, yet in order to live, I must change.  Grow or rot and die.   Personally, even though it's difficult and often painful, I prefer the growth and change.

We are redeemed by being connected... if I believe that to be true, am I living into the connected body of Christ?  Am I living as one who is connected with others?

"Daring to eat at the table of Jesus Christ has unimaginable consequences."  WOW!  Again, is that scary?  Is that exciting?  Is it a mixture of both?  It is risky.  But isn't anything of worth or value risky?  Don't we have to take steps of faith in order to move onward in life?  What a great statement.  Powerful!  Do I dare to eat at the table of Jesus Christ?

"Come to be made whole"-- oh, that is one of the consequences?  Hmm.... I'm not always so sure I want to be made whole.  That growth pain thing, you know.  Surrendering the dark areas of my heart, mind, and soul to the One who knows them anyway.  Yet, I have the opportunity to be made whole.  It is quite an invitation.

"And to participate in the work of making us one with Him and with each other."-- by daring to eat, I can not only be made whole, but I can participate in the work of being one with Him and with each other..... unity in Christ in order to accomplish kingdom work.  Sounds pretty awesome.

The table is set.  The invitation has been sent.  How do I respond?  How do you respond?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Invitation – foot washing
“Unless I wash you
you have no share with me.”
If only it were otherwise.
If only I could present my credentials,
show my record of service,
get some kind of unlimited pass.
In every area of my life
I am more used
to proving how adequate I am,
presenting a polished image,
gaining certain privileges.
But you, Lord,
you bring me down
to where you are kneeling,
and take hold
of the feet I prefer to hide.
We are here together,
near the ground,
and in this humble position
I am touched by you
and made clean.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Coming before the Lord with no credentials, with no record of service, curriculum vitae or resume.  Just me.  Without shoes.  My naked feet.  My scarred feet from surgery with hammer toes.  The rough callouses.  My feet.  They reflect my life.  Far from perfect.  A fair amount of scars, marks, and callouses. 

A foot washing allows you the opportunity to think through things.  It allows you to strip yourself of pride.  Though we're not before the Lord, we are before a servant of the Lord.

There are several foot washings that are meaningful to me.

One is when my daughter was little.  We were at Grace UMC.  She spontaneously got up and went up to one of the stations and started helping wash people's feet.  I can't remember how young she was, but she was young.  She still had blonde and curly hair (to my recollection).  It was a powerful moment.

Another time is when a friend and I did the service at Grace and we were to wash each other's feet.  It was a powerful moment for me.  As I reflect now on both this opportunity to serve her and to serve with her, I am blessed to the point of tears rolling down my cheeks.  I am extremely grateful for those God has allowed me to journey alongside on this crazy and often difficult path.

A third time was when the team leader of our women's retreat team led us in a foot washing the night before the participants came to the retreat.  A very powerful time of coming together as servant leaders.   She is another example of an incredible servant leader that God has brought into my life.

As you can see, I'm for foot washing.  It can be a very powerful and sacred ministry moment.  Just as powerful and sacred as sharing the Lord's meal.

However you choose to worship this Maundy Thursday, or whether you do at all, I hope you take some time to reflect on the love and the sacrifice of Christ. 

May we walk humbly on this journey,


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Weavings Article-- Diving Deep for Wisdom: Spiritual Discernment

On-line article (January 21, 2011) by Ann Siddall (Uniting Church, Synod of South Australia)

[I don't know if she is still Director, but she was at one time at: Stillpoint Spirituality Centre and Faith Community.  There are some liturgies and other resources available at this site.]

I was paging through the Weavings on-line articles and found this one.  Every word in the title caught my attention--"Diving Deep for Wisdom: Spiritual Discernment".  I knew I had to read it. 

As I read it, I thought I'd share it.  Maybe someone else might get something from it as well.

There is quite a bit that resonates within me in this article.  I found myself liking the job description she outlined in the third paragraph: personal spiritual direction, retreats, workshops on prayer and the spiritual life, creating resource material..... I found myself thinking: 'sounds great to me!'

She mentions some authors I'm not familiar with (Danny Morris and Charles Olson) as well as a means of listening that I am familiar with and have practiced once (Quaker Clearness Committee). 

A quote that caught my attention: "Without trust there is no openness and without openness people are unable to see things from a different angle." 

The author recognizes that discernment is something that never goes away, it is something that we will always need.  In fact, she refers to discernment as a total way of life (about 3/4 into the article).    She says: "Discernment, as an issue, refused to go away, but it now seemed to have more to do with a total way of life than with a few minutes of silence in a meeting.  And that total way of life calls for a deepened spirituality."

Enjoy the article!

May your journey continue to include listening, discernment, and diving deeper!



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Beauty of The Cross...lyrics and a few reflections

There's a song I've heard on Christian radio for the past couple of weeks, even more so the past couple of days.  It seems that everytime I get in the car, no matter which Christian radio station I turn the station to, I hear this song.  "The Beauty of The Cross".  What an odd title.  Considering that Easter is nearing, the rememberance of Christ's death on the cross and the resurrection-- the timing of the song makes sense.  But, the name?!?! 

Initially, to me, the cross brings thoughts of pain, excruciating pain.  Isolation.  Loneliness.  Abandonment.  Death.  How can there be beauty in that?

Let's take a look at what the author of the song says in the lyrics:

"Beauty of the Cross" sung by Jonny Diaz
(written by Jeff Johnson Band-- [Jeff Johnson Band] (Jonny Diaz playing guitar live on stage)

At the cross I find the beauty of Your matchless grace
At the cross I see a King who died to take my place
It's the moment that You made me clean and pardoned my soul
Amazing grace that I would be allowed unto Your throne
Not by my own will but solely by Your will alone
I'm unworthy of this love you have shown to me
I see my desperate need

The beauty of the cross is that there's One who has redeemed my soul
Beauty of the cross is that I'm finally free and letting go
Beauty of the cross is that Your grace has found me just as I am

Not by my own works that I may boast or I may come
But simply through your Son the sinless and Exalted One
Only through the cross that I'm made clean to draw near to you
Saved so that you would receive all glory due Your name
Everlasting God from age to age you never change
A true love story remains for all eternity
That all the world would see

My sinful soul could only be
Redeemed by the blood of a sinless King
So you came to the world that You had made
Conquered sin on the cross and You rose from the grave

That's the beauty of the cross
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jonny Diaz (through Jeff Johnson) isn't the only one to have recorded a song about this theme.

Crystal Lewis also has a song by the same title.  Her lyrics are:

King of my life I crown You now
You're the ruler of my heart
I will wear it loud
I will tell the whole world about You
You died in my place
You suffered all for me
Just so I could live
You were broken and bruised
And I will tell the whole world about You

The cross, stained by blood
The beauty of the cross
Healing for the lost
The cross, stained by blood
The beauty of the cross
Healing for the lost
The cross

King of my life I crown You now
You're healer I've longed for
Now of heaven I'm sure
And I will tell the whole world about You

Thorns on Your brow
Stripes on Your back
So innocent, You did it all for me
Nails in Your hands
Nails in Your feet
Sword in Your side, You did it all for me
You paid the cost
That's the beauty of the cross
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Maybe through the lyrics of both of these songs, and possibly through hearing the songs performed via the YouTube links, maybe you can see the beauty through the pain, the beauty through the sacrifice.

The journey to the cross..... the journey of the cross..... taking up one's cross and following Christ....

What role does the cross play in your journey? 

How do you respond to the cross?

May there be some time for thinking through these things on your journey.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Ramblings... Random thoughts on a rainy day.

It's Friday, April 15th.  It was supposed to be the annual Spring Fling at my daughter's school.  Due to inclement weather, it has been postponed for two weeks.  The Spring Fling is one of the major fundraisers for the school and it ends the week of state testing, for us, TCAP.

Sudan has been on my mind quite a bit over the past months and years.  In South Sudan, Yei, there is are Methodist churches.  Our District (Chattanooga) has adopted a sister church over there, Ligitolo.  There have been several conference mission trips over there to assist the missionaries and pastors, to work on the Captain's House (dedicated to Walt Wright), and recently, a group from our District went and did some work there.   Knowing about these things, being part of the mission group for the District, and knowing folks who've been going over there-- have all made me aware of the situation and aware of the big vote that happened at the end of 2010.

Other parts of Sudan have been on my mind as well.  I have heard stories of the lands, the people, and the culture for several years.  I have begun to see the people through the eyes of those who see them daily.  My heart breaks as I learned just this week of three children who died in the ZamZam Camp of preventable causes.  The ZamZam Camp is where IDPs reside, Internally Displaced Persons.  Many of these people have just recently fled to the camp due to their villages being bombed and destroyed, after the vote.  The peaceful vote to free the south has led to chaos in the north.  As villagers have fled, they have shown up on the doorsteps (so to speak, yet probably literally) of the relief agencies that are there to help.  Needless to say, when 50,000 (probably under-estimated by this point) show up at your door, it's difficult to offer all of them support.  Many of the people set up near what trees were available, or simply made a spot.    After a while, tarps, poles, straw mats, and other materials were able to be brought in.  Some set up there, others moved into the desert.  There is malnutrition and dehydration, among other health issues.  There has not been much in the news, though there was an article in the Washington Post in March.  (

Here is a link to an article from Voices for Sudan from April:

The world has heard the cries of Haiti and has responded.  The world heard the miners in Chile and responded.  When the tsunami hit Japan, the world responded.  There have been numerous other situations, and the world has responded.  I admit, I am not a politician.  Therefore, I do not understand all the "papeleo", I mean red-tape.   However, I do see a need.  I see homeless people who are hungry.   Recently, one aid group that had been previously blocked in Sudan was given back their rights to continue reaching out.  That's a positive sign. 

I'm trying to learn all I can and share all that I learn.  On facebook, and now here. 

More locally, there are homeless and hungry folks who have touched my heart and my life.  Several years ago, after one of our Costa Rica mission trips, my family and I started helping out with the Forrest Avenue feeding ministry.  Back in those days, it was just beginning.  Even our daughter would go when possible to hand out sack lunches at the park or do whatever.  She drew pictures in kindergarten about handing out sandwiches at the park.  She has been since then, but not recently.  She just turned 10 this week.  She still has a heart for the hungry and the homeless.  She even came up with a ministry (that I haven't followed up on.... 'Hammocks for the homeless').  That came after she visited the local tent city before it was torn down. 

Fast forward to this week.  I was able to go back down to Forrest Avenue, which is only open now on Wednesdays and Sundays.  Two churches plus some other folks came together to help serve the meal.  It was like homecoming for me, seeing some old faces-- several of those now in charge of the kitchen.  One is a Certified Lay Minister in the Methodist Church and has a powerful testimony of a changed life.  Others have moved on.  Many have passed on.  I was able to visit one guy in the hospital before he passed several years ago.  I learned that when he got out, they had a bbq for him, then he passed not long after.  One face I missed on Wednesday night was Jimmy's.  Jimmy passed this past summer.  He was always smiling, full of life.  He had helped start a clothing ministry through Forrest Avenue and a house for some guys who were between the streets and getting back on their feet.  Little Jimmy was a joy to know.  I always enjoyed talking with him and serving with him.  You know that nagging feeling that you're supposed to touch base with someone?  Well, sometimes I listen to that inner voice.  At other times, I push it aside, thinking I have time.  I had been hearing the name "Jimmy" for a while over the past year.  Then, it was too late.  So, I still grieve from time to time.

But, being back down at Forrest Avenue wasn't sad.  It was invigorating.  Like I said, I talked with quite a few known faces and some new ones.  I even got into a conversation in Spanish.  The poor guy was a little shocked to hear Spanish coming from a gringa.  But, that's part of the fun.  It was chaotic.  Lots of people.  But is was great.  The pastor shared a short devotion prior to dinner.  After dinner, those who want to stay for Bible Study can.  It isn't mandatory.  What I learned Wednesday night is that my heart is still with the hungry and the homeless.  It wasn't too bad having some folks give me a hard time for not being around for so long either.  That made me realize that, maybe, just maybe, I have made some kind of difference.

Whether the hungry and homeless are in my hometown or yours.... or in our backyard in Sudan..... what can we do to let them know we care?

Journeying on a rainy day,


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lent...taking time on the journey for reflection

I was introduced to this poem by Ann Weems for the first time this week.  The poem is "Lent".   Though the lenten season is drawing to a close, it isn't over.  There is still time to walk the journey.

Here are her words:


Lent is a time to take the time
to let the power of our faith story take hold of us,
a time to let the events get up and walk around in us,
a time to intensify our living unto Christ,
a time to hover over the thoughts of our hearts,
a time to place our feet in the streets of Jerusalem or to walk along the sea and listen to his word, a time to touch his robe
and feel the healing surge through us, a time to ponder and a time to wonder …
Lent is a time to allow a fresh new taste of God!

~Ann Weems

This poem says it so well.  As I heard it for the first time this week, it was refreshing, like a breeze of fresh air blowing through the trees and filling my lungs (but without any pollen).  It was balm unto my soul. 

As I journey through this season of Lent, I needed this reminder.  I need some of what Ann Weems writes about.  May I take the time to allow it to happen.

May your journey include reflection time that allows a fresh new taste of God!


P.S. You can find the poem "Lent" by Ann Weems in the book Kneeling in Jerusalem.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Launching Out into the Deep by Karen Roberts

Here's another one of Karen Roberts' devotions that caught my attention this afternoon.

Here's a line in the devotion that speaks to me: "Jesus had revealed something that will help us if we trust Him. When He calls us to launch out into something new that might be a bit scary or uncomfortable, He will provide for us abundantly as we step out in faith and obey Him."

I have been called to go deeper, as I have shared since 2006.   More recently, I have been called to launch out into the adventure of the 5 day Academy (Fall 2010), which led me into launching out into re-applying to seminary for the M.Div. and applying for the 2 year bilingual academy. 

There have been other launching out adventures along the way, in-between these: retiring from teaching the first time (effective Spring '07), applying to seminary for the Certificate in Christian Studies and starting coursework in the Summer of '07, taking UMVIM leader training (Fall 2007), leading a mission trip to Costa Rica in 2008, changing churches, coming out of retirement to go back into teaching and getting the opportunity to teach online. (That's all I can think of right now.... I'm sure there have been more.  God doesn't let me stay comfortable too long.) :)

And, there is a current issue in which I'm seeking wisdom and discernment as to whether or not I'm being called to launch into the deep.  I can't fully make sense of it because I don't see the end product.  However, I believe launching out into the deep dovetails very nicely with Karen Roberts' other devotion that I shared about trusting in God's timing.   Not only do I have to trust that God is saying "launch out into the deep, you will find what you're looking for there", but I have to trust that this is God's timing.  Shoot, I just have to trust.  And, I feel like I'm back up there on that small wooden platform up in the trees on the ropes course, wanting to jump out and catch the trapeze, yet afraid I won't make it, that I'll miss the mark.  This has been rumbling inside me for a while.

Karen Roberts challenges her readers with this: "Is Jesus calling you to launch out into the deep? Maybe He is leading you to step out of your comfort zone. to move. or to start a business. or to take a new job. or to build new friendships. Maybe He is leading you to further your education or to step into new ministry. Or perhaps it’s a simple call to go deeper with Him in your spiritual life. Don’t be afraid. Trust Him! The One who can multiply fish can meet your every need."

Launching out into the deep is another aspect of the journey.  Check out Karen's devotion.  It spoke to me.  May it speak to you.  Or, maybe there is someone with whom you know you can share it.

For me, I'm becoming more and more uncomfortable on this platform.  I think it's getting time to jump.

Blessings on your journey as you launch into the deep.


Trusting God's Timing Instead of Fearing by Karen Roberts

I'm on an e-mail list for devotions by Karen Roberts.  I found her website a while back while searching for camp devotions.  She was in camp ministry for a long time and has created curriculum to use with staff and campers for camps.  That caught my attention as I thought it would be interesting to read through as I prepare for my opportunity to be a MIR (Minister In Residence) this summer at Camp Lookout.  Karen has devotions of other kinds as well.

Today, I got the e-mail and went to her website.  At the top, devotion "hooks" scroll across.  This one caught my attention. 

It read: "Everyone goes through tough times during certain periods of their lives.  As Christians, we know in our heads that God is working in and through those times.  But often our emotions take over.  Fear and worry may set in."

Uh, yeah.  I can relate to that.  Almost anytime there is change in my life or I sense God about to do some changing or re-arranging, there is usually excitement.  But, in all honesty, there is also worry and fear.  I am learning to trust in God's timing for things.  I am learning to live into the waiting.  I am learning to replace fear and worry with faith.  However, I don't always "get it" right away.  And sometimes, I go back and forth between the two extremes of trust and fear.

Anyway, I thought I'd share Karen Roberts' devotion here, because trusting in God's timing is definintely part of the journey!

Though there are some ads on the webpage you have to work around, it is worth it.

Blessings on your journey, and may you live into trusting in God's timing.


Friday, April 8, 2011

You are more... I am more... This song is a good reminder!

Have you heard this song by Tenth Avenue North?  "You Are More"  It's one of the songs I've heard the past couple of weeks on the radio.  One of the songs that struck me as powerful and deep a few weeks back.  I've heard it since.  I wanted to share it.

Though the song uses "she", I'm sure there are lots of males that can relate as well.  We all make and/or have made poor choices.  And, there is hope for each of us as well.

I would guess that most every single person reading this could relate to the song, whether you're thinking about very distant past mistakes, problems, and choices or recent ones.  The pain is real.  So is the healing.  I've got my stories too.  Past, present, and future. (We don't stop messing up just because we're following Christ.  In fact, I've probably messed up more on my faith journey than prior.)

So, check out this song. 

May it bring you encouragement on your journey.


Here is a YouTube link:

Here are the lyrics:

"You Are More", Tenth Avenue North. (from The Light Meets The Dark album)

There's a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she's wandered
And the shame she can't hide

She says, "How did I get here?
I'm not who I once was.
And I'm crippled by the fear
That I've fallen too far to love"

But don't you know who you are,
What's been done for you?
Yeah don't you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

Well she tries to believe it
That she's been given new life
But she can't shake the feeling
That it's not true tonight

She knows all the answers
And she's rehearsed all the lines
And so she'll try to do better
But then she's too weak to try

But don't you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

'Cause this is not about what you've done,
But what's been done for you.
This is not about where you've been,
But where your brokenness brings you to

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

You've been remade
You've been remade.
You've been remade.
You've been remade.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Worn out... that's what rest is for.

Have you ever been worn out?  (Or "wore out" as some country song puts it.) "Wore out" reminds me of a song I heard in October at the 5 day Academy.  The lyrics were changed to fit the ministry and being worn out through serving, along with some funny anecdotes.

I find that I can get worn out if I try to do things in my own strength.  Meaning that I'm not relying on God or the Holy Spirit, but running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  Maybe you haven't experienced that way of being worn out. 

I can also get worn out if I don't get enough sleep.  Sometimes, sleep deprivation is a normal part of life.  Ask any parent of a newborn or a toddler.  There are other stages in life that might produce sleep deprivation as well.  Putting extenuating circumstances aside, we too often keep ourselves from getting enough sleep.  Therefore, our bodies (and minds) are worn out.

I get worn out if I read too much.  Seriously.  My brain can only handle so much information.  So, I have to balance my reading time with physical activity and/or rest time.

This week, it has been the dreaded allergies that have gotten me down.  I woke up Tuesday morning with that feeling in the back of my throat and my voice sounded "froggy" and raspy.  I could tell it was going to be a rough day.  I called someone to let them know I would not be at TaeKwonDo at noon.  I took it easy.  I tried not to talk a whole lot.  By the end of the day, I had no voice.  Wednesday was about the same, but a little worse.  It started moving down from the throat into the chest and lungs, just a little.  I added another medicine on top of my normal allergy medicine to help with the congestion and coughing.  I woke up this morning feeling lousy.  So, I canceled my day so I could get some rest. 

I don't like doing that, canceling my day.  There was a time when I wouldn't have done it.  I would have kept going, to the detriment of my own body.  However, I am learning that it is important to listen to our bodies.  When our bodies need rest, they let us know.  It isn't always "good timing", but we must listen and obey. 

There is a definite connection between our physical well-being and our spiritual well-beng.  In her book, Sacred Rhythms, Ruth Haley Barton is talking about Elijah from 1 Kings 19.   She says: "he had the same blind spot I was beginning to acknowledge in myself: he had let himself become so run down that God had to send an angel to strengthen his body before they could deal with anything else." (79)

She later says this: "Our bodies have much to tell us if we could only figure out how to listen.  In fact, oftentimes God speaks to us through our body.  Most times, our body is the first to know if we are overcommitted, stressed, uneasy or joyful, and when we need to attend to something that is causing us pain or disease." (85)

Today, living well meant resting and allowing my body to heal.  In his book The Life You've Always Wanted: spiritual disciplines for ordinary people, John Ortberg defines a spiritual discipline as: "any activity that can help me gain power to live life as Jesus taught and modeled it." (48)  He goes on to talk about the importance of sleep and rest, saying in conclusion: "For some of you reading this book, perhaps the single most spiritual thing you could do right now is to put it down and take a nap." (50)  I love it!  Taking a nap as a spiritual discipline. :)

Well, even though I've only been up a handful of hours, I'm beginning to feel worn down again.  It's time for me to exercise the spiritual discipline of resting my body.

May you learn to listen to your body and take plenty of rest breaks along the journey,


PS- Just for fun, here are the original lyrics to "Wore Out" by Jake Hess and a link to a YouTube video with clear audio:

You come home at night sit down for a bite
And you're wore out (wore out)
You're hardly able to get up from the table
'Cause you're wore out (wore out)
You crawl into bed sleep like you're dead
'Cause you're wore out (wore out)
In the morning you wake up can't seem to get up
'Cause you're wore out

When we get to heaven with jesus our king
We won't have to worry about any thing
We'll be happy and free
And our bodies won't be (wore out)

You get up on sunday dread to see monday
'Cause you're wore out (wore out)
You go sit in church your back starts to hurt
'Cause you're wore out (wore out)
The choir starts to sing but you can't feel a thing
'Cause you're wore out (wore out)
You pray the sermon and psalm won't last too long
'Cause you're wore out

When we get to heaven with jesus our king
We won't have to worry about any thing
We'll be happy and free
And our bodies won't be (wore out)

You go for a drive in the car with your wife
And it's wore out (the car that is)
She starts to worry tells you not to hurry
'Cause it's wore out (oooh - oh - oh)
You don't know where you're at one of the tires has gone flat
'Cause it's wore out (oooh - oh - oh)
From the sound of the motor we'll soon have to tow her
'Cause she's wore out (oooh - oh - oh)

When we get to heaven with jesus our king
We won't have to worry about any thing
We'll be happy and free
Nothing there will ever be (wore out)

We'll be happy and free
Nothing there will ever be (wore out)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dos Amigos Mexican Restaurant

A post about food?!?  Yes.  I know.  This is different from my normal posts.  Consider this a resting spot on the journey.  If you're on a hiking trail like me, find a comfortable log or a rock to sit on and relax.

As I drove from my little area of town (Hixson) into Chattanooga on Amnicola Highway, a new restaurant caught my attention last week.  Today, I had the opportunity and pleasure of stopping in and having lunch (or what was actually "brunch" because they let me in around 10:30am).

First of all, let me say that they have done an EXCELLENT job of renovating this building!  They are in the former Blue Orleans building at 3208 Amnicola Highway.  The former tenants let this building run down after Mike and Cherita Adams opened up the downtown Blue Orleans location.  I know this because my husband and I ate dinner there on October 15, 2010 and were eye-witnesses to stained ceiling tiles, some of which were hanging down in places.  The floors had issues too.  We wondered how they were staying open.  It was after that dinner date that we learned about the real Blue Orleans, and that Mike and Cherita had no connections any longer to that location.

Anyway, the Dos Amigos crew has fixed this place up!  The floors are newly tiled as are the ceilings.  There is Mexican art on the walls.

The booths and tables and some of the light fixtures are the same, but the flow is more open.   The bathroom is freshly renovated as well.  It isn't fancy, but it is clean and inviting.  Another very small detail that brought a smile to my face was their choice in napkin holders.  Instead of plain white or plain green, they have a very colorful one with chili peppers, a sombrero, and maracas that says: "muchas gracias".  Very cool!
it's a little blurry, but you get the idea
Then, there is the food.  Chips and salsa are always indicators for me.  If a restaurant doesn't pass the 'chips and salsa' test, it is likely the rest of the food won't be too good either.  The chips were fresh, crispy, and warm.  The salsa was fresh, tasty, and just enough "kick" for my taste buds.  (Most people like their salsa hotter than I do.)

chips and salsa
Being pleased with the chips and salsa, I was looking forward to my chicken chimichanga.  I was not disappointed.  The chicken was shredded with sauteed onions and peppers.  The outside of the chimichanga was covered in the Mexican white cheese, as the menu calls it "gooey cheese".  A side of refried beans (frijoles) and some guacamole on a bed of shredded lettuce with chopped tomatoes and sour cream filled the plate.  It was delicious.
chicken chimichanga
Having some room left and wanting to hang out and speak more Spanish :), I ordered dessert.  I decided to try their flan.  I don't often have flan out, but decided to today.  I wasn't disappointed.
Besides delicious food, I enjoyed conversing with the workers.  I met several very nice folks.  Though they spoke English, they were gracious to allow me to speak Spanish.  Some speak English better than others, but in fairness, English is one of the more difficult foreign languages for people to learn. 

I recommend Dos Amigos Mexican Restaurant.  Of course, if you're not a local reader, this has no meaning to you whatsoever.  Maybe you'll enjoy the pictures I took.

The restaurant's address is 3208 Amnicola Highway, Chattanooga, TN 37406.  For more information or for a pick-up order, you can call 423-495-1802.

While there, I did learn two things having to do with the spiritual journey: 

1) several of the workers attend a local Spanish evangelical church
flyer for upcoming speaker at the church "Eagles' Nest" (nido de águilas)
2) the local fm radio station 101.9 (La Buena) has Christian contemporary music in Spanish during certain hours on Saturdays and Sundays (

Today, part of my journey included Spanish, my heart language.  It was definitely a joy to be able to speak with folks from the latino culture in their native language.  (And second language for one Guatemalan young man.)

May your journey include encounters with good food, good fellowship, and other cultures!