Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another List

I was going to post a few different frustrating guest experiences from this weekend, but I don't want to dwell, so instead I am posting a list of YouTube videos that I just love and could watch continually and that make me feel better when guests have overdosed on their jerk pills. Feel free to respond with a link to one you just can't get enough of. And here they are, in no particular order:

1. David Choi doing an acoustic version of Britney Spears' "Womanizer": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOXNxDCtPoA
3. Potter Puppet Pals in "The Mysterious Ticking Noise": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx1XIm6q4r4&feature=related
4. Kris Allen performs Kanye West's "Heartless" on Ellen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T62ksehioSA&feature=related
5. Chelsea and Mark dancing to "Bleeding Love" on So You Think You Can Dance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EmWRNp_6l8
6. Literal version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj-x9ygQEGA
8. Hairo Torre performing on America's Got Talent 2009 (it gets good at 1:44) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGEoXlOKXoM

Oh man, I hope they bring you as much joy as they do me!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An email

I applied for a job at a church in Bellevue that I would absolutely LOVE to have. I'm pretty sure the cookie cutter they used to make this job description is that of a Suzanne sillhouette. I got the following email today:

"Suzanne, Thank you for your interest in our open position. We'd like to get to know you better. Please see the attached set of questions and get back to us. Thank you, FPCB Interview Team"

Oh my gosh I am excited! Hopefully this means I made it past the first round. The attachment is four questions that I need to answer and then I'm also supposed to provide references. I just spent 10 minutes jotting down a couple of notes for each question and I'm going to work on it Thursday and Friday. Hopefully I can submit it Friday before I go to work.

p.s. If you're wondering about the Seattle First Covenant job, they sent me an email last week saying they were about 1 1/2 months out from making a decision. They were supposed to contact my references three weeks ago but still haven't. It's a smaller church with an all volunteer search committee, so I understand the time it's taking, but it's still hard to be patient. I also applied for a job at SPU (I know, again?) that would be great and I'll hopefully hear back about whether or not I got an interview this week or next week.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Abba's Ragamuffin

I finished reading The Ragamuffin Gospel, my nonfiction book for March, this morning. It was a library book, so I wasn't able to mark the crap out of it, and I wish I had been reading with someone to talk about it as I went along. Here are a few thoughts I really enjoyed.

"In essence, there is only one thing God asks of us - that we be men and women of prayer, people who live close to God, people for whom God is everything and for whom God is enough. That is the root of peace. We have that peace when the gracious God is all we seek. When we start seeking something beside Him, we lose it" (p. 46).

"Our sincere desire counts far more than any specific success or failure. Thus when we try to pray and cannot, or when we fail in a sincere attempt to be compassionate, God touches us tenderly in return" (p. 83).

"The noonday devil of the Christian life is the temptation to lose the inner self while preserving the shell of edifying behavior. Suddenly I discover I am ministering to AIDS victims to enhance my resume. I find I renounced ice cream for Lent to lose five excess pounds. I drop hints about the absolute priority of meditation and contemplation to creat the impression I am a man of prayer. At some unremembered moment I have lost the connection between internal purity of heart and external works of piety. In the most humiliating sense of the word, I have become a legalist" (p. 131).

"On the last day, when we arrive at the Great Cabin in the Sky, many of us will be bloodied, battered, bruised, and limping. But, by God, and by Christ, there will be a light in the window and a 'welcome home' sign on the door" (p. 187).

I am so thankful for this book. I am so thankful for this image of a ragamuffin. Sometimes I feel bad about my failures in my faith. These past few weeks were pretty difficult for me. I had a stretch of crying 4 days in a row, and for whatever reason, the language that I felt best expressed my feelings an frustrations were swear words. I never let the "f-word" fly, but I let a few others fall from my lips. Usually when I say a curse word it feels foreign, but this past week it was easy. I told some of my friends from work, people who aren't Christians, and they laughed because they understood I had gone through a hard time and that those actions were uncharacteristic for me. Yesterday I told some of my acquaintances, people who are Christians, and I got a half-hearted chuckle and a weird look. Maybe because they thought I had acted inappropriately. Maybe because they didn't understand the impulse. I don't know.

I might not be giving my acquaintances enough credit, and I might just be paranoid. I know my nearest and dearest would not have responded that way, but sometimes I feel more comfortable owning up to my identity as a Ragamuffin for Christ to my friends who don't believe than to those who do.

What I found comforting was the author's word that: "Hey, I've been there, too. And it's all a part of being a Ragamuffin. We're beat up, and bruised, but the story isn't over and our Father who loves you already sees you as beautiful."

Sometimes when I pray for people I pray that God will help form them into the person he created them to be. Maybe instead I should be praying that God will help them see that they already are the person he created them to be. He's told me who I am. I just need to hear that word and live like it is true. I am Abba's Ragamuffin.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Fasting and the Furious

For lent this year I am fasting from television and movies unless it serves a social function. My reason is that I have found in the mornings before I go to work I have great ambitions of reading through my ever growing collection of books, or journaling, or reading my Bible. However, I'll make my breakfast and sit down with one of my favorite movies simply as "background noise" and the next thing I know I'm watching Penelope, Ever After, Stardust, He's Just Not That Into You, etc., etc., etc., for the 20 millionth time.

What I have discovered is that making a decision to fast from something without ever making an intentional decision to add something into my life is ineffective. While I may not be watching movies or copious amounts of Ellen, I am now on Facebook more than ever, have become well acquainted with the website "My Life is Average", and spent almost an entire day off catching up on celebrity gossip. I don't even like celebrity gossip! I'm trying to change course the last weeks of lent. Two nights ago I spent a good long while reading (a total candy novel, by the way, but it was delightful), the past could of mornings I have read my Bible/journaled, and last night I planned more for a youth event I'm leading and did an overhaul on my cover letter & resume.

So, what have I learned from all of this? That fasting, like breathing, only works for me when I am commited to both sides of the action. Breathing is only effective when I inhale and then exhale. Only exhaling leads to being short of breath and only inhaling leads to getting light headed. Fasting is important. I know that! But fasting for the sake of fasting has left me either completely empty, or filling the void left by fasting by practices even less satisfying.

It's a learning curve. Not one that I ever expect to perfect. Besides, I kind of do love celebrity gossip. Just a little, though.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Covenantal Friendship

Last week I said goodbye to one of my best friends as her and her husband moved to San Francisco to start the next chapter of their lives. I was telling one of my other friends about our farewell to one another and she said "you guys sound like you're romantic". She was joking, but I think there was some truth in what she said.

Let's say that I do not get married. What is my alternative in terms of relationships? Am I restricted to friendships that many people would tell me are the shadow of the glory that a marriage relationship is? I don't think so, as I firmly believe being made in the image of God means that I am created to be in relationship with other people. And those relationships that breathe life into the soul are not exclusive to those fortunate enough to find their life partner and get married.

Marriage is a relational covenant. It is one of deep significance and importance. I had lunch with my friend Anna a couple of weeks ago and I loved hearing her talk about her marriage. She told me she had no secrets from Chris and that he was her best friend. At winter camp the week prior I marveled at the way Sean (the worship leader/speaker) would look at Julie when she was speaking to the group. It was as if hearing her speak and pour out her heart before the students and before God was making him fall in love with her again. There is something sacred about marriage.

But there is also something sacred about finding friends who know you deeply and intimately. My friend who moved to San Francisco wrote me a letter before she left, and the thing I was amazed at as I read it was how evident it was that she knew me. And not just facts about me, but the desires and movements of my heart. It is with these people I feel that a covenantal friendship has been established. Much like David's relationship with Jonathan, there is a fierce protectiveness and responsibility for one another. Just the other day I was having breakfast with my roommate and we began talking about one of our mutual friends. I started crying as we began talking about our love for this person and how wrong it is that others failed to see her for the amazing child of God she was. It was my love and care for this friend that moved me to tears, and a genuine desire to see the best and greatest things for her.

Granted, there are certain aspects of a marriage covenant that do not apply to friendship covenants. I'll let you fill in those blanks. But yes, there is something romantic about my relationship with my friends. There is a quietness and a care that doesn't exist in many of my other relationships, and I think that comes from being truly known.

So, for all those that are married and will be getting married. Good for you! I am so happy you have found someone that you desire to spend the rest of your days with. And as iron sharpens iron, I hope your marriage relationship brings out the best in one another. But for those who may not be getting married, take heart, as you have a lifetime of journeying with your deepest and truest friends. Drown out those messages that tell you that friendship is not good enough. Maybe friendship as it is commonly thought of is not enough, but those friendships that speak a word of truth into who you are, those are certainly enough.

Praise be to God that we are not made to journery alone, but that he provides us with fellow sojourners. What a good and gentle God who cares for us by giving us other people.