Friday, February 27, 2009

Glue

As part of my Lenten commitment I am reading a Psalm each day and then journaling about what that changes about who I am in Christ. Today I read Psalm 3 and meditated on verse 5: "I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me." While many of my days feel the same, I enjoy waking up each morning to encounter the little things that make each day different. Like grapes, or lunch with a friend, or solitary shopping trips at Northgate, or clean laundry. I started thinking about what would happen if I stopped enjoying the idea of waking up. What if I ever woke up and the day seemed to be a burden rather than a promise of something great? Would I wake up again knowing that the Lord sustains me?

This also made me think of the movie "In Her Shoes" when Simon asks Rose, "What holds you together?" Essentially asking, what sustains you? What is your glue? And I started thinking about that for myself. This is what I know so far:

Deep laughter: the kind of laughter that moves your heart it feels so sacred
Intimate worship: intimate meaning you can tell the leader has had an intimate encounter with God and now they are leading you with the hopes that you will as well
Quiet: Those few moments in a day where your sould breathes and you feel at peace

And to the few people that I know have read this in the past, what holds you together? What is your glue? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lent

I haven't finely tuned my Lenten commitments for this year, but these are thoughts I am having:

1. I have an unhealthy relationship with food, so I'm thinking about eliminating something that will allow me to eat for sustenance and enjoyment rather than the millions of other reasons I eat. I think this means I'll be eliminating all sweets and also only eating when I'm hungry. In high school, I kind of just ate when I was hungry, and stopped eating when I was full, and I think that's a skill I'm needing to relearn. The reason I think this should be a Lenten practice is b/c I think it would go a long way to having a healthier frame of mind.

2. I need to see myself the way God sees me. I'd like to add in reading some scripture (even just a verse) daily and then journal (even if just for two minutes) daily about what that scripture says about who I am in Christ.

3. Give up putting myself down. More difficult, since it's an internal process, but it's definitely connected to the second one. I already have a host of friends willing to chime in if they catch me doing this. After all, that's what friends are for!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Joy

One of the girls in my small group is turning 16 in two weeks, and she's very excited about that. One of the other girls in my small group emailed me and asked her if we could throw her a birthday party because some of the girls wanted to bake her a cake. Neither myself nor my co-leader initiated this. They had decided on their own this would be a tremendous blessing for her, and their willingness to make an effort to bless her brings me great joy.

My friend Maggie has a brilliant vision for a new ministry to the girls in our high school group that combines small group with Bible study with practical service with discussions of 'real life' issues that impact them on a daily basis. It's thoughtful, practical, and has the real chance of being a very powerful experience for both leaders and students.

Two of the high school girls were brought to tears during winter camp when our youth pastor told them that he saw in them the ability to be a tremendous leader and change the world.

A group of 15 of us laughed until tears ran down our faces because our high school girls were quoting verbatim various YouTube videos and then reenacting them for us. The best, by far, was their performance of the Harry Potter puppet pals.

My friend Brandon and I wrote ridiculously funny scripts for winter camp where I sat in a pie, dated Zac Efron, taped Brandon to his bed, watched him have a fake heart attack, choked on alka seltzer tablets, broke up with Zac Efron, and had a sleepover.

This is my job? Joy.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What teaching teaches

This coming week I'll be teaching at our Wednesday night youth group. I love teaching for this group whenever I get the chance...in fact, I love teaching whenever I can. However, it's always one of the most humbling experiences for me to prepare a time of teaching, and here's why: vulnerability. When I teach I feel like I'm cracking my heart open and allowing people to see into who I truly am. Personal stories are shared, but that's not where the true vulnerability occurs. I'm truly vulnerable because I'm opening up to people about who I think Jesus is, how knowing him has changed my life, and why I think that makes a difference. I'm revealing my worldview, theology, and faith with others and allowing them the space to respond to that. Which explains why sometimes after I teach I have a difficult time speaking to people. And why when I feel a lesson has gone bad I take it very personally sometimes to the point of tears. And when someone dear to me doesn't seem to care for what I have taught, I feel not as worthwhile. I feel all of that deeply b/c it is one of the only times when I am being completely honest without pretense or expectation. Despite how scary that vulnerability is, I admit that nothing feels better than baring your soul and having that be received. To hear that I taught effectively is also to hear that people understand how I feel about Jesus, why he's important to me, and can get on board with who he is. And that means more to me than I can possible say.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Howard Zinn's History of the United States

I feel like this year I made all sorts of commitments for the New Year. Some I have been able to keep faithfully, and others it's been a little bit of a struggle. One that has been going pretty well is working through a list of books Brenna and I created. We each selected 12 books we had been meaning to read but had never gotten around to. We actually started our lists a couple months early, which is when I read Northanger Abbey (loved it), Traveling Mercies (liked it a lot), and Searching for God Knows What (surprisingly timely). Right now I'm reading A People's History of the United States and it's been one of the most challenging books I've ever had to read, in terms of content.
This book tells the history of the United States, beginning in 1492, but from the perspective of the different oppressed people groups: Native Americans, African Americans, women, the Vietnamese, the Filipino's, etc. I read a significant portion of the book the eve before President Obama's inauguration and became disheartened with the American political system. It seems no president, no matter how great they are in our memory, really only did that which served the economic interests of the country. What that means is that the people of lower classes, who do not necessarily benefit the economic structure of the country, are pacified so as not to cause too many problems, but not really listened to. I sat in my apartment and shouted out "What's the use! If every president ends up doing the same thing, what's the point?!?" But then I remembered the 'reason for our hope within', and that does not come down to a political candidate. It's a message I've probably heard a million times, but I'm needing to remind myself that my hope CAN NOT be in a political system, whether I voted for the president or not. In the words of that popular hymn: "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus and his righteousness."
So, as I continue to read this book about the atrocities that good American men were forced to perform, the low wages that women worked for in the 1960's, and the continued disenfranchisement of those of different races, I have to have hope that one day all things will be made right. I have this image in my head of standing in heaven and being able to see the Vietnam villager standing next to the American soldier and see reconciliation occur before my eyes. And I'll be standing there as well, next to those that I have wronged. And Christ will wipe the tears from both of our eyes, and this class that used to be known as the 'disenfranchised' will no longer exist. I do have that hope.