Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Hole in our Gospel

The Hole in the Gospel by Richard Stearns will perhaps be a controversial book, as some will say it's very social justice oriented, yet much of the Bible is about how we should interact and care for the poor, widowed and orphans. This is what I got out of the book: A challenge to really examine what it might be God wants from us.

The author, Richard Stearns, is president of World Vision and offers a unique, riveting perspective, touching stories of others, and the challenging question: What does God expect of us? I think that many Christians today aren't satisfied with just sitting in church, being "good". Personally, I do think that Christians should be doing more than just going to church once a week, but I think the answer is not just social justice, but a life that loves God, is grateful for what God is doing and has done in their life, and as a result compelled to care and love others. Our neighbor across the street and around the world.

I enjoyed this book, think it is worth reading and sharing with others. It is capable of opening up greater discussion and it really does challenges the Church to step up and fulfill Christ's commands.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'm a reader. If you know me at all, you know I rarely go anywhere without a book in hand.

I take a book with me to lunch, even if I'm going out to lunch with friends. In case they bore me. Luckily it hasn't happened yet.

I take a book with me to the park, the mall, the DMV, shopping, errands,to church, and even on dates with my husband.

In case he bores me.

Okay, perhaps I'm slightly kidding on the last one. Or maybe not, but in either case I've never needed to open up my book. I'm usually entertained by others company. And I know it's not socially acceptable to read in the presence of others.

Still, you bore me and I might just do it anyways. (what is the difference between reading a book and checking an iPhone anyways? )

Sunday my family piled into the car. Each with the prerequisite Bible. Even Katie who can't even actually read yet has to bring her Bible to church. I glanced in the back to see if they all have their Bibles and discover that not only has Conor a Bible, but he's reading Tom Clancy's Hunt for Red October. I tell him he's not going to bring that into church I hope. He replies he wont'. My husband, David, looks over at me and says, "You would." And I agree. I most definitely would! And in the past have even read books during the pastor's message.

Because he bored me.

Luckily I can say that I no longer turn to a book, partly because my pastor is never boring, and partly because I'm finally mature (??) enough to realize that it not just about me. I've also learned that if I'm truly teachable, I will get something out of any message, even if I'm bored.

So, I still bring a book with me but never open it, I have been tempted a few times during the singing to read instead of sing and listen, so I'll open up my Bible and read it. It looks acceptable and spiritual but the reality is I'm still bored and enjoy being distracted. Now I have an iPhone and I could play with it. I might even be able to pass it off as my "Bible" or note taking, but I don't. David thinks it is distracting to be on an iphone. I think it's just as distracting as turning a page in my notebook or Bible.

I'm really happy that I enjoy paying attention in church, because it wasn't always like this. I'd appear to be taking serious notes but I'd actually be writing down my shopping list. Or figuring out whose birthday was coming up next. I'd like to blame it on the pastor but I know the blame is all mine. I don't think church has to become more entertaining just to hold my attention.

But I'll bring a book just in case. I'm sure I won't need it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Have you ever read the classic My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers? I recall owning a copy in high school, but not sure I read it completely. A little over a year ago I saw it in the bargain area of Berean Christian Bookstore and bought it again.

And it sat on my bookcase along with a book of quotes by Mr. Chambers.

I'm not really a devotional book person, I own several but most disappoint. Most are even touted and designed for the busy person and come in prepackaged, little 2 minute snippets purposely so you'll actually read them daily. Who doesn't have 2 or 5 minutes to devote to turning one's attention to God?

Yet in the past I've failed. I have bought at least three separate "minute style" devotionals yet I don't think I've completed even one. I think the devotional market exists for those that (at least think) want to learn and be closer to God and yet, don't really know how. We know we're supposed to pray and read and think about God in our daily life but still struggling on making it happen and the best way to get there.

If you type in "minute devotionals" on Amazon, you'll discover over 200 listed, written and marketed to every type of person: teens, businessmen, businesswomen, busy moms (does "busy" really have to be stated? If you are a mom, you are busy!) One Year Love Language devotional, devotionals to do together before you go on a date, busy Christians devotional, devotions for kids, for couples.... I could go on. If you just type in "devotionals" it comes up with over 20,000 titles!

Whether it be one minute or fifteen minutes, I know for me I've always wanted something out of it: To be closer to Christ, to know him, to have a better life. Some of these are even good things, but is it compelling enough to keep me to even complete a year of "one minute" devotions? Is anything compelling to keep one excited about seeking God in Scripture and prayer? Is it all duty or does it ever become delight?

For me, I do wonder if I'm drawn to hoping that if I just buy THIS book about God I'll understand, or THIS devotional I'll become wise and love God more. It is easier to spend the fifteen dollars on a shiny book that promises riches in God than it is to actually follow Him in word and deed.

That said, I think devotionals have a place; it's just that for me personally a new book/devotional always seems to start with an ideal that I'm going to grow and be faithful. (In just a minute a day!) Yet in about 24 days that newness and zeal begin to wane and I find that I don't even have a minute a day to devote to God.

Such a sad reality, yet I wonder how many others can relate?

Or maybe, with new technology, you are actually succeeding. Perhaps you get a daily Facebook devotional. Perhaps you get an email so all you have to do is take a minute out of your day to read the email and voila! A better life in Christ, in just a minute a day. Without a book to buy, without having to open your Bible or even a devotional. Just a quick email or Facebook reminder.

Don't get me wrong; any effort is better than no effort. But is it even effort? Should it be an effort? Truthfully, I don't know. Is it just a decision of the will to pursue God? Does it "count" if it is done out of duty? Do I look for the easy way out? Do I want the benefits of God without the sacrifice, even the "sacrifice" of 1, 5 or 15 minutes out of my day to seek God and meditate on His word? Should this ritual of devotionals be a "sacrifice"? Should it be relegated to a ritual at all?

Isn't it ironic that they are called "devotionals" when I have reduced devotion to a minute a day?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We Are Not Our Own

"We are not our own; therefore, neither is our own reason or will to rule our acs and counsels. We are not our own; therefore, let us not make it our end to seek what may be agreeable to our carnal nature. We are not our own; therefore, as far as possible, let us forget ourselves and the things that are ours. On the other hand, we are God's; let us, therefore, live and die to him (Romans 14:8). We are God's; therefore let his wisdom and will preside over all our actions. We are God's; to him, then, as the only legitimate end, let every part of our life be directed."

John Calvin

Saturday, April 17, 2010


"The most remarkable thing about the mastership of Jesus Christ is that He never insists on being Master. WE often feel that if only He would insist, we would obey Him. Obedience to Jesus Christ is essential, but never compulsory; He will never take means to make me obey Him. Jesus Chris will always make up for my deficiencies; He always forgives my disobedience; but if I am going to be a disciple, it is essential for me to obey Him.

Oswald Chambers , The Place of Help

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Purple, Blue, Green

I picked up Katie from school today. She's so cute. As we are walking along she mentioned that her friends Donald and Andre had a difficult day today. I asked in what way, curious as to how little kindergartners gauge difficult days, what makes their day so difficult. She then mentioned that they both went down to green today. I asked her what color she was on today. "Purple" she replied. Feeling like a bad mommy for not knowing the color key, I asked what was the best color to be at. She informed me that purple is the best, then blue, green and the other colors were really bad. (like go to the principal/time out bad)

I patted her on the head and praised her for being such a good girl, and asked why her two friends got in trouble.

"Oh, well, Andre got in trouble for complaining about the work he had to do. He kept complaining and complaining. Donald got in trouble for chatting. Do you know what chatting means? It means talking."

I tried so hard to suppress a laugh and wondered if maybe I should institute a color code system at home. Clearly it was working in her classroom.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


First, an explanation of my photo:

Both diet coke cans are mine. I started bringing 2 or 3 diet cokes with me so I'd be able to share them.

No one wanted them, so I'd wind up drinking all three.

First, because it was unexpected, memorable and rather shocking. Secondly because it simply gave me something to do. I wasn't all that comfortable and drinking cokes gave me a purpose.

Also in the photo is my workbook and my ESV Study Bible. It is a BIG Bible and I must say I love it. Even better is that it came with access to a free ESV Study Bible online software. I never thought I'd use it but it turns out, I find it invaluable. I still enjoy the feel of a "real" Bible but for looking a lot of verses it and some commentary on it, I love the online version.

My James Study ended last week and the group had a potluck and ending session at the Leader's home. I almost did not attend because I wasn't able to come for most of the 18 week session. Still, I was invited and so I went. It wasn't easy. Usually I don't love large groups. Usually if I'm going to be late somewhere I'd just not go.

I attended anyway; so glad I did! However, I realized that I missed so much by not making attending Bible Study a priority. Before you think I'm a "heathen" let me say that I also attend a Thursday study on Colossians. I'm not lacking in Bible study. What I am lacking is community.

I chose to distance myself from these women; convinced that I wasn't like them or a part of them or had any sense of belonging or common ground with them.

Why? Because I'm not really a "girly girl" and many of these women I viewed that way. Or some other excuse.

Yet, that closing session, I was able to see that we have so much common ground! A huge commonality: Christ. Church. Love and faith.

I don't know why it finally hit me..... was it being in a warm, comfortable home with a fire in the fireplace? Was it the ease and hospitality of the leader/host and the others? Was it the yummy food and dessert?

Not sure but as I sat there, listening to the others share how much studying James in this group was, I realized how special they are all. I realized that I belong. I'm accepted and might actually fit in.

Just Might.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Once Upon a Time....

A long, long time ago (1989) I graduated from high school. Not a prestigious high school, just an ordinary, unremarkable school, but I enjoyed it and did well. (except in math but that is another story) I loved drama, band, even joined the swim team for a few weeks and I hung out for my first two years with jr. and sr. geeks who were very smart and were Presidents of the chess and math club. We'd even hang out in a math classroom during lunch (a no-no) and I'd consume a lunch consisting of a diet coke and a package of Hostess Ho-Hos. I was the "baby" of the group yet they accepted and loved me.

Despite my algebra struggles, I was actually a good student in everything else and enrolled in college prep and honors courses.

In one of those higher placement English classes, a list was handed out to us all. It was a list of all the books that were required/recommended we read if we were going to attend college. A knowledge of the classic great literature is indispensable in culture.

If you think about it, my teacher was right: What do you automatically think of if I were to say "Scarlet Letter A"? There are many other things in culture and life that one would miss if they did not have a firm grasp on the classics.

So, among Chaucer, Hawthorne, Milton and Dickens, the list of 100 great works of literature that was required/recommended to more fully prepare for college, the very top of the list was The Bible.

A friend of mine was surprised that, even in '89, that was "allowed" to be on a list in a public school. It made sense to me, because even while discussing books, we'd talk about the allusions to Scripture in many books. I can recall reading Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath and having to point out all the Biblical references and allusions. A Biblical/history lesson right there in public school! Not to mention the issues of morality that comes up.

I have no idea if high schoolers still discuss the Biblical allusions in literature. I have no idea if they still read Hawthorne or Steinbeck, but I do know that we as the American Culture are still expected to know our Bible stories.

Why do I say that? Because I'm watching 24.

Tonight my daughter wanted me to read her a chapter in her Jesus Storybook Bible. It comes with a CD so she listens to the Voice tell all the stories, yet somehow she always prefers David or I to read to her too. (and I can tell you right now, the Voice in the CD is amazing to listen to and does a much better job than I do!) Tonight she specifically requested the chapter called The Terrible Lie. It was the story of Adam and Eve; The Fall of Man. I was curious why this story, yet read it as well as the following chapter on Noah's Ark.

Of course, I want my children to know their Bible stories because it is important to our faith, but I do think that everyone would benefit from this type of knowledge, even in a superficial manner for literary purposes, plus, even though our Culture is no longer "christianized" and we can expect a base layer of Christianity and Christian thought, I look at culture today and see this in books, movies, songs, art and even TV shows. The blog world is abuzz with the references and allusions to the Bible in the show Lost, going as far as staging the cast in such a way that mimics da Vinci's Last Supper.

But back to 24. As I sit here watching this, Chloe was just informed that she was now in charge of CTU. She protested that the failure that occurred was not Mr. Hastings fault. She goes, apologetically, into his office, saying she knows he's not at fault, yet he takes full responsibility, and uses this line," I let the snake into the garden. in referencing his recruitment of Dana Wash, an employee who turned out to be a Very Bad Person.

As I mentioned before, Katie asked me to read about The Fall in her storybook. I wondered what the appeal was to her, because, at least in my view, it is not a happy story, and I get caught up in a lot of questions.

So I read her the story. The more I read from The Jesus Storybook Bible the more I'm amazed, and delighted. Sometimes even brought to tears as I ponder how can a Child's storybook reveal such truth? It's not "watered down" just presented in a beautiful way..... the main point is still the main point. It all points to Jesus. Every story..... Jesus.

Here is how The Terrible Lie chapter concludes:

"You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children - with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. And though they would forget him, and run from him, deep in their hearts, God's children would miss him, always, and long for him - lost children yearning for their home.
Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: "It will not always be so! I will come to rescue you! And when I do, I'm going to do battle against the snake. I'll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I'm coming back for you! "

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Character of a Christian

This morning at church my pastor said a phrase I've heard quite a bit growing up: Character is who you are when no one is watching." He also said a lot of other stuff, about our identify, being hidden in Christ, justification, sanctification, etc. And a basic overview of the Corinthian church, sophists, Paul, etc. etc. I guess he really covered a lot in such a short amount of time.

Tonight I have been musing about justification, the concept of what Christ has already done to declare us righteous, and sanctification, which somehow is a process; the whole idea of being already complete in Christ yet working out our salvation.

It fills me with questions. So I do try to figure out answers.

I haven't yet but I did come across something I found interesting that at least takes my mind off the aforementioned questions. This is from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Safe in the World

"The first thing that is true about the Christian is that he does not belong in the world.
In light of this, it is vital that we should ask ourselves the question, am I of the world or am I not? That is the fundamental distinction that runs through the Bible from beginning to end. There are only two groups of people in the world today - those who are of the world and those who belong to Christ. In the last analysis there is no other division or distinction that has the slightest importance or relevance. That is why most of us are defeated by life in this world - we recognize other distinctions that are quite unimportant. But when we all come to die, does it make the slightest difference which political party we belong to? Does it matter whether we are rich or poor, learned or otherwise? There is only one fundamental distinction, and that is whether we belong to the world or to Christ."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Caged Bear

"It is very pretty, is it not, to read of Luther and his brave deeds? Of course, everybody admires Luther! Yes, yes; but you do not want any one else to do the same to-day. When you go to the [zoo] you all admire the bear; but how would you like a bear at home, or a bear wandering loose about the street? You tell me that it would be unbearable, and no doubt you are right.

So, we admire a man who was firm in the faith, say four hundred years ago; the past ages are a sort of bear-pit or iron cage for him; but such a man to-day is a nuisance, and must be put down. Call him a narrow-minded bigot, or give him a worse name if you can think of one. Yet imagine [if] in those ages past, Luther, Zwingle, Calvin, and their compeers had said, "The world is out of order; but if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row, and get ourselves into disgrace. Let us go to our chambers, put on our night-caps, and sleep over the bad times, and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better." Such conduct on their part would have entailed upon us a heritage of error. Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps, and the pestiferous bogs of error would have swallowed all. These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on."

Charles H. Spurgeon

Friday, April 9, 2010


Many months ago my pastor mentioned Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his message during church. He mentioned who Bonhoeffer was, what he did and how he did not take the comfortable road. He could have; he was a German who was in the United States of America during a part of the war, yet felt convinced that he could not remain in safety while his fellow kinsmen were enduring such turmoil and suffering..... and even death.

So he returned to Germany, eventually was arrested and imprisoned. I knew the outline of this story of Bonhoeffer; ironically I had read a brief account of it just a week prior to my pastor's sermon. I believe my pastor quoted this from Bonhoeffer:

"I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people... Christians in Germany will have to face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying civilization. I know which of these alternatives I must choose but I cannot make that choice from security."

I was waiting for my Pastor to reveal the cost of Bonhoeffer's decision; that it wasn't a wonderful, happily-ever-after story that we Christians love to take comfort in: Trust God and he will protect you."

My pastor, to my recollection, never stated what happened to Bonhoeffer. He left it with that quote and it baffled me, because Bonhoeffer's decision came with a huge price.

I remember thinking that I thought Bonhoeffer was "of more use" safely in America where he was teaching others, where he was writing and sharing his brilliant mind and thoughts.

Yet he did not think of it that way. He had to go back to Germany.

The saddest part to me is that a mere three weeks after Bonhoeffer was stripped naked and hanged to death in a concentration camp, Hitler committed suicide. Three months later the war would effectually be over in Germany.

A part of me still views it an senseless.

Which is the reason I'm still very much fascinated by Bonhoeffer's story and desire to read a more in depth account of his life. The most recent biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer was just released by Thomas Nelson this month. It is a nearly 600 page book by Eric Metaxas simply called, Bonhoeffer: A Biography. I do hope I can gain more insight and appreciation of Bonhoeffer.

I'm writing this to post on April 9th because it is 65 years ago that Bonhoeffer was killed by hanging; a brutal death. It is my hope that I remember his life and conviction of not choosing to make a decision based on security; even though that decision cost him his life. I think so often as Christians we feel almost like if we are doing the right things for God then he will bless us. I have no doubt that He will bless us but I often wonder if our idea of blessing and His are the same.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

You Were On The Cross

Several months ago I was lucky enough to be one of the first 20 commenters on a Randy Elrod's blog to "win" a pre-release CD of Matt Maher's Alive Again I received it, really enjoyed it, especially Christ Is Risen.

However, during my church's Good Friday service, they played the video I posted above. And I fell in love even more with You Were On The Cross. The CD is good but some songs are really amazing; the words paint pictures and further contemplation. I love that in music.

Paired with this video which highlights photos of the Passion of Christ, it is not the easiest of videos to watch (and I'm certainly grateful my church had childcare that night for preschoolers) yet it really heightened my understanding of Good Friday, the cross and the resurrection. I hope it does for you as well. For a better picture, double click on the video and you can see it larger in YouTube.


In-N-Out has always meant vacation for me. When I was a small child, back when Disneyland switched over from E-Tickets to general admission tickets. (I guess E-Ticket means something QUITE different these days!)

My Aunt Ginny lived in SoCal with her family. I have so many memories of this time; I can recall their backyard, how intrigued I was by the water cooler they had in their kitchen because where I lived we always just used tap water. But the thing I remember most was their parrot, who once belonged to my Uncle John who was a military man with quite a colorful vocabulary.

The bird also had a colorful vocabulary.

But even more annoying: the parrot could effectively mimic my Aunt calling for my Uncle John. JOHN!!!!! the parrot would scream.

And no one could tell the difference. Nor could anyone get the bird to stop.

In-n-Out has always signified a bit of freedom; a taste that we were nearing Southern California.

Every trip, we'd have this rare treat; tasting perhaps even better because it was anticipated all year long. Tasting better because of the meaning and excitement behind it.

These days I can have In-N-Out anytime I want. It is still very good; I still enjoy it. Yet I rarely go.

Instead, I choose to maintain the Tradition. Now my kids are associating In and Out with Vacations and visiting Southern California.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

U2 360 Coming On DVD 6/3

Coming June 3rd, U2's 360 Tour Concert DVD will be released! Here is more information on the
U2 website You can also pre-order on Amazon as well. There are several different versions, a special 2 pack, a "regular" version and a blu-ray version as well as a more deluxe edition.

From the U2 Website:

"U2360° At The Rose Bowl was the penultimate gig of last year's U2360° Tour in support of their Grammy nominated album No Line on The Horizon. The Rose Bowl performance was the band's biggest show of 2009 and U2's biggest ever US show, with a live audience in excess of 97,000.


The show was also streamed across seven continents via YouTube. The first ever live streaming of a full-length stadium concert, U2360° at the Rose Bowl had over 10 million views on the channel in one week. "

I was there at the Rose Bowl and I have tickets to a show this coming June as well! (I can't get enough U2!) I thought this would be a great excuse to once again share some of my photos. :-)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Search for God and Guinness

I generally enjoy books that are about real people or events, and this book, The Search for God and Guinness written by Stephen Mansfield, was no exception. Although the subtitle is "A Biography of The Beer That Changed The World, it is actually more about the extraordinary efforts and ethics of the Guinness family.

I'm not a beer drinker, yet I'm convinced that everyone equates Guinness with good beer. That's a given. But what most people may not realize is the amazing story behind the beer and the family.

Though well written, interesting and insightful, this book was a bit dry at times, as many history/biographies can be. Mr. Mansfield chronicles the various directions the Guinness have taken. In chapter 5, The Guinnesses for God, he brings up those of the family that became missionaries and ministers. He doesn't dive into this aspect too much, and even asserts that he doesn't want to lessen the following of the other Guinnesses that went into banking or brewing. (because many associate that with not being so "God centered") Because I really enjoy author Os Guinness, I was hoping for more detail on his family in this chapter.

The book, the beer and the history of the Guinness family is an interesting read and inspiring as well. If you are already a Guinness fan, your appreciation for the beer and the family will deepen considerably.

I am a part of the Thomas Nelson booksneeze book reviewers.


I'm finally learning that less is more: the simpler is better, especially when it comes to toys.

First of all, toys are always so much more appealing when they are at someone else's house. I should have learned this over 8 years ago when my oldest (and then only) son was infatuated with trains. He'd spend hours playing with trains anywhere there was a train table.

I had to buy him a train table.

Because he loved it so much it was worth the price tag. There wasn't a great place for it but he HAD to have one, right? Of course, he never said that. He never asked for one but I just knew if he loved it so much at Barnes and Noble or at the Children's Discovery Museum, he'd spend hours on it at home.

Wrong! He still preferred laying on the floor to build his elaborate wood tracks.

I still have dozens of Thomas Trains and several feet of track and it still gets played with, now by my youngest.

The things I feel they "need" they hardly play with. Truly sometimes the cardboard box offers more time-consuming fun than the object it contained.

Yet my kids still love toys.

Sunday was Easter. This year I finally kept it simple and was amazed by their happiness. I still gave them some candy and each a small toy. My oldest just got money. (he's 10) The middle (6) wanted a very specific Bakugan set. My youngest (5) wanted another Zhu Zhu pet. (for the fortunate that don't know what Bakugans or Zhu Zhu pets are, I will refrain from telling you; you don't need to know and I'm not sure I quite understand what Bakugans are or their appeal)

I'm learning.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hopping to Other Blogs

This is the second time a worship pastor has recommended this CD to me, so I truly hope I win it! This blogger/worship pastor CHRIS from Canada, is giving away 5 copies of Vicky Beeching's new CD Eternity Invades that releases tomorrow.

Of course, I want to win one. I get an extra chance by redirecting you to his blog HERE. Not only can you comment to attempt to win a CD but Chris is a very interesting blogger with a lot of good things to say and thought-provoking perspectives.

So, hop on over to his blog and comment to enter!

Dug Down Deep

A few weeks ago I wrote a post and quoted from Joshua Harris' book Dug Down Deep. I loved this video and wanted to share it with you but did not know how to put video on my blog. I do now, so here is a wonderfully done, creative video based on a few paragraphs of the book.

Enjoy, and see if this video doesn't entice you to read the book; it certainly did for me!
Oh, and it's not coming up wide enough on my blog, so just double click the video and it will take you to youtube.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I'm so glad that I attended the Pasadena U2 360 Tour because it looks like I will not be seeing them in 2010.

Of course, I want Bono to recover completely but, selfishly, I am so disappointed. I bought my tickets at the beginning of November 2009, just days after I attended the Pasadena concert. I purchased advanced sale general admission tickets. I've always wanted to be on the general admission floor. It always seems to be the most exciting, energetic spot, yet the only concert I've been up close to was Toad the Wet Sprocket. (a long time ago!)

Add to that I was going with some of my favorite people: My husband (of course!) my friend Ellyn, who has traveled even to Seattle to visit me and attend a U2 concert there, and I think I've gone to every U2 concert with her since I was in high school. My friend Robby, another person I've known forever and his wife Dena. Add to that a few new friends and my jr. high youth pastor and his wife who I've not seen in years and years!

All this to say: I've been counting down the days until this concert, and now it is postponed until 2011.

I'm sad. But grateful I journeyed to Pasadena, and happy that their concert tour DVD comes out very soon. (June 3rd)

He Is Risen!

"He isn't here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying." Matthew 28:6


There's an oft-repeated quote that is attributed to Albert Einstein that says, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

I experienced a bit of that this morning.

Typically I enjoy going to costco, grocery shopping and other errands without my children since they are now all old enough to attend school, but today I had to go to the store to get a "few" items. Unfortunately a must-get item (dishwasher soap) was forgotten. I'll need to go back but I'm putting that off.

I had a fairly peaceful time at Walmart but then realized I needed to go to the grocery store, so we ventured there as well. This was a mistake. Ironically, it wasn't my kids that drove me crazy; it was the checkout.

Since the lines were long, I decided to do the self check out thing. Usually I have minimal problems, but of course, since I had three kids with me, I had problems! Lots of them!

It started when one of my items was very light and did not seem to register that I put it in a bag, so I was prompted to put the item in the bag. I already had. So, eventually it says "ASSISTANCE NEEDED" and wouldn't let me do anything else. The attendant was with someone else, and a few minutes later, without an attendant assisting me, it started working again. But this time it wouldn't register that I put anything in the bagging area. So after every scan, I had to wait until I could touch the "skip bagging" button. This added a bit of time and was frustrating to me but at least i was working.

Here's where the insanity begins, If you thought going anywhere with 3 kids was insane, I might agree with you but this was way worse!

All of the sudden it started to work correctly without me having to hit the "skip bagging" button. But then it got confused. I put an item in the area but it did not register for it and asked to put the item in the area. Ummm.... I already had, so I took it out. Then it prompted me to replace the item in the bagging area. Compliant, and hoping to just get out of there, I did and was told by the electronic voice to remove item from bagging area. So I did and.... you guessed it! It prompted me to replace the item. I did this perhaps 6 times, getting more frustrated by the minute.

I have no idea what changed to fix it; no attendant seemed to notice or address the issue. Not even a hello, which was probably a good thing because I may have had steam coming out of my ears.

Finally, I paid, collected my receipt and my kids and left.

Why is it that mundane, every day things can be so annoying?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Need Not Weep

"You need not weep because Christ died one-tenth so much as because your sins rendered it necessary that He should die. You need not weep over the crucifixion, but weep over your transgression, for your sins nailed the Redeemer to the accursed tree. To weep over a dying Saviour is to lament the remedy; it were wiser to bewail the disease. To weep over the dying Saviour is to wet the surgeon's knife with tears; it were better to bewail the spreading polyps which that knife must cut away. To weep over the Lord Jesus as He goes to the cross is to weep over that which is the subject of the highest joy that ever heaven and earth have known; your tears are scarcely needed there; they are unnatural, but a deeper wisdom will make you brush them all away and chant with joy His victory over death and the grave. If we must continue our sad emotions, let us lament that we should have broken the law which He thus painfully vindicated; let us mourn that we should have incurred the penalty which He even to the death was made to endure ... O brethren and sisters, this is the reason why we souls weep: because we have broken the divine law and rendered it impossible that we should be saved except Jesus Christ should die."

Charles Spurgeon

Friday, April 2, 2010

Jesus Paid It All

What else to say?

Because I love the lyrics, here they are:

I hear the Savior say

Thy strength indeed is small

Child of weakness watch and pray

Find in me thine all in all

Jesus paid it all

All to him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain

He washed it white as snow

Lord now indeed I find

Thy power and thine alone

Can change the lepers spots

And melt the heart of stone

Jesus paid it all

All to him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain

He washed it white as snow

And when before the throne

I stand in him complete

Jesus died my soul to save

My lips shall still repeat

Jesus paid it all

All to him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain

He washed it white as snow

Sin had left a crimson stain

He washed it white as snow

Oh praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead

Jesus paid it all

All to him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain

He washed it white as snow

Failure in Success

Ah, this is a difficult post to write.

I've really appreciated the 40 Days of Water campaign through Blood:Water Mission. It's truly a wonderful organization that helps to supply water to areas around the world that lack clean, accessible drinking water. The money I've saved by forgoing all beverages but water is all going towards providing water to people in Uganda in need. One dollar can provide clean water for one person for an entire year! One dollar!

Yet despite the wonderful reasons for doing this, I wish it wasn't a part of lent. I've never succeeded in observing Lent. I've never tried Lent until about 15 years ago and loved Ash Wednesday, the idea of sacrificing something to further understand, draw closer to the miracle of the Resurrection. I joke that I could be a Catholic because I see these things as beautiful.

Because of this, I wanted to observe Lent this year.... to give something up. I then discovered 40 Days of Water and was surprised that others wanted to join me.

Lent confuses me because there's a part of me that thinks that it is supposed to be done privately and quietly..... yet this campaign is one that encourages dialogue.

So I've been conflicted. Do I talk about what I have given up for Lent and the reasons behind it? (Blood:Water Mission) or do I traditionally observe lent by staying silent? There's a part of me that thinks that this is a community effort and in churches that do observe lent it's not a secret everyone is giving SOMETHING up; but I guess that SOMETHING is what is between you and God, not up for discussion with others.

If you are reading this and I've just really confused you, you can read a bit more about Lent and my pastor's perspective on his blog HERE.

After week 4, it has become really difficult. The first few weeks were fairly easy; I wonder if it was because of the novelty; a bit of a special feeling that I was doing this. Especially because so many of my friends felt I was addicted to diet coke. I consumed so much of it! It was even a part of my identity; people would associate diet coke with me. I even made friends around our common bond of diet coke drinking! I've been drinking diet coke since I was a freshman in high school and the school had a diet coke machine next to the band practice room, which I spent a huge chunk of time between the music rooms and the drama theatre.

Many of my friends thought there was NO WAY I could follow through on this, which just fueled my determination.

It is now the last few days of Lent. I was so very tempted to give up last week, and a huge reason was the fact that I realized that Lent is a heart issue and what does my heart reveal? Yes, of course I desire to help Blood:Water Mission, but I do feel I miss the personal reason why Christians observe Lent.

Knowing this, tonight I really wanted a diet coke with dinner. There was a huge part of me thinking that I should go ahead and have one, because my motives are not right, so truly, Lent doesn't "count" because it's not done "right. So why follow through if I've already blown it? In addition, by giving in would mean a humbling act of failure and to succeed would be an accomplishment. MY accomplishment. My act of willpower. A goal met.

I don't want Lent to just be a personal goal that I met and nothing more.

I know; there's the money raised for Blood:Water Mission and I should be happy with that. I am. I just wish that it wasn't entwined with Lent because I am conflicted.

Telling my family I was choosing to give up Lent and indulge in a diet coke today was interesting. David encouraged me to stick with it; just 2 more days! When I said my reasons I was doing it was wrong, he said it was up to me and that I should feel good I went this long.

But is it about "feeling good"?

Convinced that it would be an issue of pride; a triumphant "I did it" when many around me could not, I thought it would be best to "fail" and consume a diet coke.

Yet my 10 year old cried out, "No mommy! You can do it! Don't give up!"

I chose water tonight. But I'm not proud of my journey. Oh, I'm happy to donate money so that Ugandans can have clean water and I am really impressed by Blood: Water Mission.

I just wish I hadn't wasted this beautiful time and used it a bit more wisely, with Jesus as my goal and the anguish of what He did on the cross as what was forefront in my mind..... not how much I miss diet coke. Not how people perceived me to have a lot of willpower or pity because I miss it, not even because I was supporting a great cause.

I may have done a "good thing" but I missed a lot in the process.

Will I observe Lent next year? I'm not telling. But if I do, you won't see it on facebook or in a blog.

I will say this: I'd gladly do 40 days of Water with Blood:Water Mission again, but not in lieu of Lent. It truly is a wonderful mission and even if you did not choose to participate in 40 days of Water you can still DONATE HERE.

Thank you for reading my blog. Today is Good Friday. May it be one of profound meaning as you contemplate the sacrifice of Christ.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

God's Wonderful Surprise

This is a video based on the book by Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook.

I loved this, and loved the ending line: "Was God really making everything sad come untrue? Was he making even death become untrue?"