Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Advent 2: What's in a name?

I have decided to start reading through the book of Matthew, mostly so that I can wrap my mind around the meaning of the incarnation this Christmas season. I was reading the first chapter of Matthew today, and I was struck by a thought.

23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

This verse is a reference to the prophecy in Isaiah... and i'm stunned that i haven't thought deeply about this before. The text doesn't really give Mary and Joseph's reaction to the statement "God is with us," but I'm wondering about how incredible that had to be. After generations of being promised a Messiah to save them, they are now being told that one is coming, and this one is God. All of their hopes are realized... how beautiful! This is the very thing they have been waiting for... for years and years and years! This is what their culture has been waiting for.... and all in one statement.... all in one definition of a name... they are told that God would finally be personally with them. He had not abandoned them... He would be with them. Was it hope that this evoked? Fear? A newfound hope? Excitement? And add to the fact that God would be personally with them that He would come through a common girl through an impossible conception.

Rejoice, community, for God is with us.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


This morning in church we sang one of my favorite Christmas songs... actually, it's more of an 'advent' songs, but still, i love it. It reminds me of the power of waiting and listening for God, of standing in faith that He is coming, that He will redeem. It is a song of knowing that even when life looks its bleakest, hope is waiting. It is a song that reminds me that the powers of sin and destruction do not have the last word... the power of the Cross is the final reality for those of us who believe... and this waiting in anticipation is what advent holds for us. May you be blessed as you wait on the active power of God this advent season!

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,And ransom captive Israel,That mourns in lonely exile hereUntil the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,Who orderest all things mightily;To us the path of knowledge show,And teach us in her ways to go.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, freeThine own from Satan’s tyranny;From depths of hell Thy people save,And give them victory over the grave.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheerOur spirits by Thine advent here;Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,And open wide our heavenly home;Make safe the way that leads on high,And close the path to misery.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s heightIn ancient times once gave the lawIn cloud and majesty and awe.

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,An ensign of Thy people be;Before Thee rulers silent fall;All peoples on Thy mercy call.

O come, Desire of nations, bindIn one the hearts of all mankind;Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Friday, December 07, 2007

They're not joking, folks

Do you ever notice those signs in parking lots that say, "only patrons of this business may park here... all others towed at owner's expense?" do you ever wonder if those signs are serious?

may all your wondering days be ever. they are, indeed, serious. need i say more about how i spent my morning?


Tuesday, December 04, 2007


I have been thinking about a lot of things these past few weeks, so this post will be a random collection of snapshots from my brain.

This semester has provided me with a lot of things to process through. It hasn't been my most difficult academically, but emotionally, there's been a lot to deal with. But in a good way. Some things from my past have re-surfaced, and God is showing me new ways of processing these things. It is amazing to me the people that God has brought into my life to help me see myself a little more objectively.... from good friends to professors to a community. There's been a lot of pruning that i'm in the midst of, and i feel like i am seeing the deep love of God in the midst of it all. In the middle of this, I had a professor suggest to me that I am afraid of my own sadness of some areas of my past, but that allowing myself to mourn the areas I need to mourn may actually provide healing from past wounds. I think he might be on to something.

In Doctrine we've been talking a lot about being under the power of the blood of Christ... that this is the power to save us. Those of us who profess faith in Christ, and in His life, death and resurrection no longer have to feel shame. I have been so reminded this week of this power... that I am empowered to leave all those areas where I feel shame, as the power in my life is no longer hiding behind sin, but in the wings of the Father, under the power of the resurrection of Jesus. Shame does a lot of terrible things to us, and this is most certainly not where God desires for His children to live.

This is the first year i've put up a Christmas tree in my house, and i'm so excited about it! I think that part of it is that this is the first time that i've felt like this is my house. We decorated the other night, and i like our little (and i do mean little) tree. It was fun to be festive. you can see pictures of the silliness on my facebook page.

Speaking of Christmas, this has been a good semester in terms of really, truly thinking about the power and the beauty of the incarnation. That's why i both love and hate this season. I love it because it's such an incredible reminder of God's power and God's love for His people. I hate it because of all the ways that the Christ message gets messed up in our culture. I pray that I am not a vehicle for messing it up.....may we live into the beauty that is the message of the hope of Christ coming into this world.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


The past few weeks were probably my most school work-heavy of the semester, which certainly aided in feeling slightly burdened. Paired with a few other stressful things going on, it's been crazy. But not impossible. when I am feeling like this, i realize the importance and power of gratitude and of simply remembering that I am not in control. Power and control... it's funny. i want those things and i don't want them at the same time. i don't want to have to make the hard decisions, but i want to influence people, and i long to be important to others. My guess is that this is part of the human condition... learning that power feels nice, but it can be incredibly destructive and soul-eating, and that power ultimately belongs to God. I've been reminded this week of the need to just be willing to submit, to lay down my need for "knowing" at the foot of the cross. I'm reminded over and over again that the beginning of humility is gratitude, and so i like to occassionally reflect on why it is that I'm thankful to God. Here is my latest prayer of gratitude, written a couple of weeks ago....

Help me to understand how You are active in my life-help me to recognize Your love for me..help me to never pass it up or ignore the power of Your love and sacrifice! and today, i also thank you for...your death on the cross-for a Church family-for friends who are near-for my own family-for the ability to read and think-for the power of encouragement-for provision-for constructive criticism-for allowing me to learn-for games-for laughter-for prayer-for children-for the beauty of fall colors-for so many who care for me-for the journey you've given me-for growth-for tears-for hugs-for Your Word-for the ability to talk and think-for sleep-for feelings-for love-for passion-for warm blankets-for silence-for music-for sunshine-for mountains-for words-for warm sweatshirts-for community-for being able to join with You in communion-for the power and beauty of the incarnation-for Your ultimate sacrifice-for taking on the powers of death and hell so that i might have life-for medicine-for epiphanies-for soup-for warm socks-for being able to snuggle in a warm blanket-for the beauty of joining with other souls-for chocolate-for candles-for baseball.

Thank You for life. Thank You for You. You are life.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Taste of Grace

This past week has been hard... i've been overwhelmed by a collection of things, and i've been in a funk. It's days like today that i'm grateful for the words below... this is a song we occassionally sing at church, and it has become one of my favorite songs. Typically, when i am feeling like this, I find it hard to remember God's grace and what i remember is my failure and my own short-comings. I think that's why i love this song: God has redeemed me, so i have the confidence to arise, even when what i feel is shame. so beautiful.

Arise, My Soul, Arise
Charles Wesley

1. Arise, my soul, arise, shake off your guilty fears; The bleeding sacrifice, in my behalf appears; Before the throne my Surety stands, Before the throne my Surety stands, My name is written on His hands.

Chorus: Arise (arise), arise (arise), ariseArise, my soul, arise. Arise (arise), arise (arise), arise Arise, my soul, arise. Shake off your guilty fears and rise

2. He ever lives above, for me to intercede; His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead; His blood atoned for every race, His blood atoned for every race, And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

3. Five bleeding wounds He bears;received on Calvary;They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:"Forgive him, O forgive," they cry,"Forgive him, O forgive," they cry,"Nor let that ransomed sinner die!"

4. The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;He cannot turn away the presence of His Son; The Spirit answers to the blood,The Spirit answers to the bloodAnd tells me I am born of God.

5. My God is reconciled;His pardoning voice I hear; He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear With confidence I now draw nigh, With confidence I now draw nigh, And "Father, Abba, Father," cry.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Sweet Innocence

So, I'm babysitting the other night. I'm making dinner for the boys and they are playing in the other room. I bring Joe the corn i had just made for him and start to dish it onto his plate. He looks up at me with his sweet, innocent, 5-year old eyes and says, "what the hell is that?"

i tried really hard to discipline him and explain that that was not a word that was ok to use, but i was laughing too hard to be effective. then i tell his father (aaron, and my friend and pastor) what has just happened. he doubles over in laughter and says, "i just don't know where they get this stuff!"

i just look at him and say, "are you seriously asking this question? i know exactly where they get this." and then i just look at him.

from the mouths of babes.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Another Great Weekend

This was another great weekend. I went to the Red River Gorge with the youth group from La Roca. It was an amazing trip, for so many reasons. I almost didn't go, and i can't articulate how glad i am that i went. hiking, talking, silence, praying, worshiping, game-playing, lots of silliness and laughter and most of all-being together. It was a great reminder that I really, really love these kids. Some days i'm drained and wonder what it is i have to offer them... but I'm so grateful for each and every one of them.

and what's important to remember is that La Roca is far from your typical youth group. Some of our kids have been kicked out of their schools. Most of them rarely hear affirmation at home. What most people probably see in these kids is the rough edges (and trust me, those rough edges are there)... but this is a group of kids that is chock full of quirkiness, love, opinions and leadership. it's our job to steer them. i love getting to have a small part in this journey.

we had this time of affirmation for all of us on saturday night, and it was incredible thing. and i can remember thinking, "ALL of these kids have so much to offer." and then sunday morning, we all sat crowded together in one row... and i loved it. i loved not having enough space, with my arm around michelle... nudging her to wake up every few minutes. I loved how proud I was of Chance and Michelle for sharing with the church about the retreat. I loved feeling like my heart would burst for this crazy group of middle school and high school students.

And i love that this is not typical youth ministry. I love that it's not a group of suburban kids who have grown up in church. I love the realness and rawness... because that makes seeing the good in these kids that much sweeter. Even though they've got so many battles to fight, they are slowly learning that they have a church family who loves them, and a God who fights for them.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Change is a-comin'

I am driving south on Interstate 75... getting away for the weekend to see a dear friend... one who has been with me through a lot. It feels good to get away for a few days, not because I don't like my life, but because we all need little breaks once in a while. And i am feeling good about seeing someone who knows me well. I'm driving through the mountains and multiple radio stations turn to just one country station to no radio station at all. Then I remember that I have a used portable CD player in the trunk... i manage to get it out and find whatever CD's are floating around in the back of my car. I pop in some Josh Bales, who I love, but who I have not listened to in a long time. At about this time I'm driving into Chattanooga, and a tidal wave of emotions hit me. I'm reminded of the summer I worked in Chattanooga at Widow's Harvest, when I would listen to this very CD almost every day. And i'm suddenly reminded of the loneliness of those three months, and of the sadness I felt, and of how helpless I felt in dealing with everything. I'm reminded of how I just can't figure out how to articulate what I feel... and that no one seems to get it. At the same time, I'm thankful. So thankful. Because i know that this is not who I am anymore. I know that I have people who love me, and I'm learning to not blame others for my junk. I'm learning not let loneliness and sadness swallow me up anymore. I'm learning to let hope break into my heart.

I'm still driving down I-75, into Atlanta. I spend time with Erin.... one who has seen both deep pain and deep joy in my life. But even as I'm in Atlanta, I'm reminded of this painful season of my life. And again, I'm reminded of how God has changed and transformed me. and i'm thankful.

And i'm reminded that God is continuously changing me, transforming me, loving me, trading the bad for the good. It's so refreshing to be able to concretely see how God is making me confident in who He has created me to be.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Little Things

exciting things this week:

  • the addition of an original nintendo game system to our house (thanks chelsea!)
  • knowing that i get to go on a road trip this weekend to see a good friend
  • the convenience of having a washer and dryer in my own house
  • good conversations with friends i love while drinking yumminess!
  • getting to pray with others
  • getting to go on walks around my neighborhood, and having extra time this week to do that
  • the joy of no longer having to read a book by Bill Hybels
  • being able to finally wear long-sleeved t-shirts and hoodies

Friday, October 12, 2007

First Dinner

Last night was our first neighborhood dinner, and i think it went well! We had a good crowd of folks there, and I managed to talk my new neighbor, Ann, and her granddaughter into joining us. I was really glad they came, and I'm looking forward to getting to know them. Samantha and her brothers joined us, along with Chance, so we had a full house. It was a cool thing to look around Aaron's house and see people i knew and didn't know, and have the chance to eat, laugh and talk together. jordan playing with the kids in the living room....talking about the neighborhood and the church....getting to share our stories together......i'm really glad that this is how i get to spend my time.

and then, this morning, Ann's granddaughter knocks on our door at 7. she missed her bus and wanted to know if i could take her to school. that was a cool moment, for so many reasons....life together... it's a cool deal.

in other happenings, i am not really looking forward to this week.... only because of lots of schoolwork! a big midterm due on wednesday, but i'm plugging through because at the end of the week i'm headed to atlanta to see one of my favorite people in the world-my old roommate erin. so i'm pretty pumped about that. i'm really excited about a weekend away with a good friend. it's been an up and down week, but one filled with so many examples of God's faithfulness... encouragement just when i've needed it most.... reminders of how God has created me and called me.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Righteous Anger

I have had an absurd number of conversations with women this week who do not understand what beautiful creations they are. Some of these conversations have started as the result of hearing about terrible things that have been done to some of the most amazing women i've met.... abuse given by people that we should be able to trust. and something i've heard come from the mouths of each of these women.... a thought that part of this must be their fault, that they could have stopped it. and it is at this point that i want to both yell and cry. we do terrible things with power, and i've heard some of those stories this week. it's sickening.

at the same time, i've been reading Mary Pipher's book Reviving Ophelia. She talks about what happens to most girls in pre-adolescence... about how most girls find that they can't truly be themselves and be accepted. They find that they must choose one or the other. This makes me so, so sad. It makes me sad because i relate. It makes me sad because i look around at so many of the beautiful girls and women in my life and I know this has taken place in their hearts. And it makes me wonder what the church's role is in all this... as a community of faith, what is it that we can do to let girls know that we deeply accept their true selves? How do we communicate that God made their true selves and accepts them?

It makes me realize that THIS is the task of community. To let each other know that we do not merely accept a figment of one's persona, but that we accept the true versions of ourselves, because that is what God does for us.

In the beginning of Pipher's book she says something to the effect of, "It takes a village to raise a child. Most girls don't have a village." I don't want to just be angry and sad about this statement-I want to work to change this, because this is NOT how God wants His people to live.

There is a much better way waiting to be found.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


it is nearing 2 in the morning, and i cannot sleep. i would like to be asleep, because i need to be up in about 6 hours. so much is on my mind. a conversation i had earlier tonight. a conversation i need to have tomorrow. needing to confess. needing to confront. my own shortcomings. new friends. the beauty and pain of community life. attempting to trust God with so many unknowns. trying to be sure of who i am. living into the beauty and grace of God. wrapping my head around the mystery of the plans of God. trying to find balance in my life. why chocolate exudes such joy. you know...the normal stuff.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Speaking Life

"To always be relevant, you must only say that which is eternal."

-Simone Weil

this makes me stop dead in my tracks.... i definitely say a lot that is not eternal.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Random Notes

it's been a good first couple weeks of school and settling into my new abode. i'm really exciting about living in the '05, and about being able to hang with some cool people. after the loneliness of the past year, this has been a breath of fresh air. we've already had people over a couple of times to play games, aaron comes over when he gets locked out of his house, and i feel like we've got a house full of warmth and love, and i'm excited about that.

i'm taking a class about forgiveness and counseling this semester-i think it'll be really good. and i also think that it will intersect with many areas of my life that i didn't really expect. on the first day of class, toddy tells us that we won't talk about self-forgiveness, because she doesn't see self-forgiveness mentioned in scripture, since that is a western ideal. this, of course, has gotten me thinking about a lot. and then i start reading.... about how forgiveness really should be a communal practice, but we've privatized it in the west. and if we really think about it, forgivenss is about the "restoration of communion." it's not about making me feel better about how i've hurt someone, but about restoring me to both God and community. there's something to chew on there, for sure. i think forgiveness is one of those words we throw around a lot, but i wonder if we really understand what it means? if we really know what is encapsulated in forgiving someone else? if we understand what it means that God forgives us? is it just a lofty, soft word...or is there power behind it?

we're going on a community retreat this saturday... i think it will be good. and tomorrow i'm cooking breakfast for ian and elizabeth so that we can talk about some crazy community ideas we have. i'm pretty pumped.

have you ever had a really great hug? i'm a hugger.... and i love to give and receive big, bear hugs. last night after church i saw my friend becky, who lives down the street from me. she got really excited when she saw me, and gave me one of those big, long-lasting, embracing hugs. it made me happy. there's something about a good hug... i think because you are both giving and receiving love all in the same moment. it's really kind of a beautiful thing. and it was just so affirming to see how much becky wanted to love on me... it's nice to have those moments some days.... right up there with little joe running down the church hallway yelling, "maggie! maggie!" with a huge smile on his face. i needed that (of course, as soon as he saw me, he says, "hey bad nanny!"...but i'll take what i can get).

so... i may not get any schoolwork done this semester, and perhaps i'll fail out of my third year of seminary.... but at least i'll be loved along the way.....

Thursday, September 06, 2007

New Eyes

here i am. starting my third and (almost) final year of seminary. i can remember my first semester like it was yesterday.... questioning if i had made the right decision, wondering if i should go somewhere else...but not sure where, bursting into tears at the thought of seeing how i had done on an O'Malley Church History exam. and here i am now... feeling like i've somewhat found my place, feeling, again, like i'm on the edge of something. it's a cool, scary, overwhelming, funny feeling. to look back and see all that worried me, and to see where God has brought me. it's weird to look back sometimes, but necessary...and humbling. and now i'm here, telling others about seminary and ministry and life and community and all the rest... still learning... attempting to grow...praying through it all. sometimes a little perspective goes a long way.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

New House

i've been in my new place for about a week, and we're still working on settling in, unpacking, all of that stuff. i can't tell you how much i love this house! but really... it's more than the house.

i love how God has worked all of this out. i love the roommates He has provided. I love being near so many cool people. i love the relationships i see unfolding. i love the fact that we had about 10 people over last night to play games. i love that i'm sitting in kim's house doing laundry right now. i love that it only takes me about 3 minutes to get to church. i love that some of the church kids are already coming over to bug me and see if i'm home. i love the relationships that are coming about because i'm in the neighborhood. i love this community i'm in... that i feel more loved and a "part" of something than i've felt in a while. i love that i'm among people who really want to love on me and encourage me. i love that God is showing me ways i can serve this community.

and another cool moment this week: there's this family that many other individuals have been pouring into for a while, and this family recently moved really close to where i'm living. i've spent a bit of time with the mom and kids, but not tons, but I really feel like God is doing something here. and i'm realizing, too, what a blessing this mom is to me. they are in need in a number of ways, but this woman has also blessed me by just loving me and showing me hospitality. the other night it's raining and thundering and apparently their power went out a couple of times. so she calls me to ask if we're ok, if our power had gone out, to check on us. how awesome is that?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Moving Day!

tomorrow is moving day! yay! this has felt like it's been a long time in coming, and as much as i don't like the packing, organizing, moving, etc... i'm ready to be in my new place! jessica came over and helped me get one load in her car, and then we hung out and talked about lots of different things, which was great. also, for any of you who may be helping, my soon to be old apartment kind of smells, due to an AC leak, and i apologize from the bottom of my heart. please forgive me, and thanks in advance for helping me. i'm ready to be in my new place, closer to the community there. i'm pumped.

speaking of community, last night we had our first dinner for those hoping to 'do' community in the '05. i thought it went well... we had some yummy steaks and good conversation. it was great to look around and feel like i was part of a family here. i'm excited about what is going to take place. i'm also really excited because today was my last day of work at the daycare center.... onto babysitting in the '05! hopefully i won't regret this decision later......

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sick List

I have been sick today... no fun! but it really is ok, because i've been reminded of all the things today that make being sick bearable. here's my list:

  • ready-made progresso soup. i swear by these things. they are yummy, and i can eat them after not being able to eat for several hours. really, i'd be ok not eating right now, but i'm sort of weak, so i know i need to!
  • people who are willing to bring me things-i called both beth and bekah and they brought me gatorade, saltines, and applesauce. these things are like a liferaft when your stomach just won't cooperate.
  • getting a chance to rest. i know that being sick is not a great reason to rest, but apparently i needed something to get me to chill out. on that note, i've had time today to have some good catch-up conversations.
  • breath mints and hot tea. did you know that breath mints help with nausea? it's true. i am never without them. and i don't drink hot tea a lot, but when you are woken at 5:30 in the morning by a violent tummy... i don't know of anything more comforting.

a couple other random notes: i move in less than a week! yay! i'm so pumped to be in my new place.

i saw the movie Jesus Camp on saturday night with peter, jackie, tawndee and jason. i will definitely be commenting on this viewing, because the level of disturbance it caused in my brain warrants an entry. but i'm still processing.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Week in the Life of Maggie

My mind is a whirlwind these days! this is how it's been....

monday: go to work until 5. must finally go get something resembling groceries. go to lee and beth's to look at old things they don't want anymore. they have an ice cream maker that we can have, and that's pretty sweet.

tuesday: i plan on staying home to get packing done. however, meg calls to invite me to pray with their house, and seeing as how i've been wanting to pray with them for about a month (and because i seem to be completely unable to say no), i forefeit packing for the evening to go to lexington to pray. i'm glad i went. afterwards, i help rebecca get her car, then drive her car back. then i hang out for a few minutes with meg an jess, mostly because i don't want to go home.

wednesday: i work for 2 hours. then i go to a meeting about church planting where i have no idea what we're talking about, so i end up asking ridiculous questions, but am glad i'm there. then i go to church to pray. back to wilmore to work. back to lexington after work to hang out with the youth. later that night, i read an email from aaron about his thoughts on community. never ask me my thoughts on community if you don't want to hear a lot. so i write peter and aaron a book about all my thoughts, and now we have all these crazy ideas about doing community in the oh-5. crazy. between church planting and figuring out how to do life together and realizing that i need to move and start a new semester soon.... whoa! craziness. in the midst of this, i call chelsea to tell her she can live with us. and she seems very cool! i'm excited about this house of girls. it's gonna rock.

thursday: again, i think, "i'll have tonight to pack." i should just never plan anything. aaron calls me at 10 or so in the morning to ask if i can be at a meeting that night to talk about all our crazy plans for creating community. and i think, "i really need to be there." so i go. only, of course, after convincing him to change the meeting's location to coffee times. all is right with the world when coffee times is involved. i spend the rest of the day fighting off overhwhelming, swirling thoughts. again, glad i went to this meeting. i left feeling encouraged and excited about what we are trying to do. on the way home i realize i haven't seen my friend kathy in a really long time due mostly to moving and church stuff (and i still have a movie of hers), so i go visit her. she fed me watermelon, and then ginger came over. it was good. i then go home and try to be productive... i start working on a letter to some community members, and realize that my brain is a crazy place.

friday: work until 1. my sweet boss comes in and tells me i can leave early if i want, and i wanted. came home, took a nap, made phone calls, packed some stuff, called my mom. dinner later on 12th street.

tomorrow: i HAVE to pack my house. everything. must. get. done. please, someone call me to make sure i am doing this, because it's not done right now (and all before 4:30, because i'm going to the church picnic at 5!), and this place is not ready to go yet! =)

craziness. but in the best sense of that word.

Monday, August 13, 2007

And then there were three

it's official... we've found a third roommate! and one who is excited about hospitality and living life together.

it's like God planned this all out or something.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Random Notes of Interest

Random note #1:

I have been sad today, and i don't really know why. i tried to push myself into feeling ok all day, only to finalize with crying as i left the la roca community garden. and i feel silly. i'm sure there are multiple reasons for my heavy heart. but it's amazing what a visit from a friend can do at 11:00 at night. samantha webb rocks, plain and simple.

Random note #2:

we may have found a 3rd roommate (and maybe even a fourth!), and i'm so excited! if this works out, the little blue house on Highland Park will be the place to be.

Random note #3:

Having to wait 2 weeks to move is going to be a very difficult task! i definitely want to be living on Highland Park Drive right now. But patience is a virtue, i'm told, as is packing my belongings and cleaning my current house....i also realize that "finishing well" is as important as taking a first step of faith. i think it's definitely a lot harder. excitement can be troublesome sometimes.

Random note #4:

i had a crazy busy weekend. dinner with some fun folks on 12th street, measuring my new bedroom door (only to find that my beloved desk will not fit...sad!), pestering aaron, lunch with the jackster, shopping with a neighbor, church today, lunch with jackie and peter and kim, helping at the garden. whew! but it was good. it was nice to feel a part of my new soon-to-be home!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Packing Books

i'm in a mood tonight. and not a good one. not sure why. maybe it's that i am dreading going to work tomorrow. or maybe i am tired. or overwhelmed. or maybe it's because i'm at that beginning stage of packing where i've gotten just enough done to feel slightly daunted by the task, and i realize it may be a lot easier and perhaps even more productive to accidentally start a fire in my apartment. however, after 2 weeks of staring at the disaster that is my apartment and dreading the thought of this process of packing, I have begun. I packed my first three boxes tonight. I started with the books... i realize that's always the easiest place to begin, and it really helps set the tone for the ever-dreaded task of loading up all my earthly possessions (and realizing how many unnecessary things i have), and propels me towards greater motivation. i can say i've been productive this evening, and that's a pretty nice feeling. it's funny, though, packing books. i love books. i like the thought of so many words, ideas, stories, thoughts in something i can hold in my hand. But will i really read these books again? why do i keep them? yet something keeps me from parting with them. staring at my books also reminds me of the many different parts of my life and personality, and maybe that's why i keep them. they're sort of representative of me, and they remind me in a weird way of who i am, where i've been, and where i'd like to someday go.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Into the Garden

The church I go to has started this community garden, and it's a very cool thing. La Roca is in the middle of downtown Lexington, and so i think it's pretty significant that certain people have had the vision to produce life in the midst of noise, cars and overly accessible junkfood. What an incredible sign of life and goodness!

This garden was started a few months ago, and i always thought it seemed like a cool idea. However, I'm a slacker. I hadn't even seen the garden until last week when i went to help pick some beans. For the past two Sunday nights, i've had the honor of getting to help pick beans, tomatoes, peppers, and okra. And it's been such a great experience to get sweaty, get my hands dirty, and to fellowship with other church members while working on this crazy little garden. And I've met people for the first time that i've gone to church with for almost two years now.

This has all caused me to think about the significance of this simple (yet very profound) project. Fellowship is being built as we work alongside each other. New life is being produced. Healthy food is being provided. These, to me, seem like intrinsically Biblical values, and it's exciting to see them getting played out every week. Of course, these are just a few of the positive things happening as a result of this garden... i know that there are so many more.

More than anything else, I realized last night how grateful I am that I go to a church that is investing its resources in things like planting gardens instead of spending money on a building. Getting our hands dirty together instead starting a new program. Working alongside our neighbors instead of pushing them aside. Our perceptions of 'church' have the tendency to get very skewed, and i'm realizing that this is what it's about. producing life-particularly where there was once death. La Roca is certainly far from perfect, but i love that i am part of a body of believers seeking out creative ways of embracing and loving people.

And i get the feeling that God is in the midst of doing some big, big things.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Child of God or Child of the pigs?

The great thing about having a 3-month break from school is that I don't feel the need to rush through books that I am reading. I have been taking a long time to read through Return of the Prodigal Son, which is nothing short of bliss. I firmly believe it is one of the world's great tragedies to ever rush through anything Henri Nouwen had to say. With that said, here's a quote for your reading pleasure this bright Saturday morning:

"The younger son's return takes place in the very moment that he reclaims his sonship, even though he has lost all the dignity that belongs to it. In fact, it was the loss of everything that brought him to the bottom line of his identity. He hit the bedrock of his sonship. In retrospect, it seems that the prodigal had to lose everything to come into touch with the ground of his being. When he found himself desiring to be treated as one of the pigs, he realized that he was not a pig but a human being, a son of his father. This realization became the basis for his choice to live instead of to die. Once he had come again in touch with the truth of his sonship, he could hear-although faintly-the voice calling him the Beloved and feel-although distantly-the touch of blessing."

In diving deep into the story of the prodigal son, Henri Nouwen talks about the younger son's return and his willingness to be treated as one of the pigs, if only that could bring him into his father's presence. However, the father would never allow this.... he celebrates, he lavishes, he welcomes the son home with open, loving, strong embrace. Why? because the son is his child. It makes me think of all the times and of all the ways that I only allow myself to be treated as good as something less than a daughter of God. But that is indeed who i am-a daughter of God! I'm reminded that forgiveness is ALWAYS there to be received, but we must be willing to receive it. God longs to celebrate with us, hold us, party with us, remind us of our worth. But something has happened. We tend to say that this forgiveness certainly can't be true, and so we imprison ourselves in holding onto shame and guilt, thinking we're only as good as the pigs. God's not the one imprisoning us-He is freeing us.

It's been good this week to remember this-that God has good planned for His children. I think i've lived most of life believing that for something to be right, it has to be hard. And sometimes that might be true... but God also has joy in mind for His church! God longs for us to lavish in His presence, to enjoy the fellowship of all of His children. God has good planned, and yesterday was a great reminder of that. I can choose to live as less than a child of God, or I can choose to rise from sin and accept forgiveness and walk with God, and remember that before anything else...I am a child of God.

God is providing for me right now in so many clear and amazing ways. It is so easy to think, "no. i don't deserve this. this can't be right." and i don't deserve it, yet i am so loved in spite of that! And so-i am living in gratitude for: a new house (by the way, one with a PORCH!!), a roommate, a great community around me, people who encourage me, a church that is far from perfect but is certainly trying, God's grace and provision, ministry opportunities.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Late Night Confessions

It is 1:00 in the morning, and I cannot sleep. In fact, I've had trouble sleeping all week. I sometimes have weeks like this, and it stinks because I go through my day exhausted. Last night it was mostly due to the fact that there were three college age guys who decided, at about 11 at night, to stand in the parking lot of my apartment building (just below my bedroom window), and play guitar, drink beer, and talk in not-so-quiet voices. If i had any confidence, I would have gone out there and asked them to be quiet. but i'm a wimp, so i stayed up and stayed annoyed. and now i sound like an old woman. but i digress.

the real reason for my insomnia. life is changing before my very eyes, and it's causing many unsettling thoughts. i am moving in a month. i realize this shouldn't seem like that big of a deal, but it's big inside my head (and yes, i tend to overreact, but surely that is no suprise to anyone who knows me!). there are several reasons this is big. i am no stranger to moving to new abodes... this will be my fourth place since i've moved to kentucky, which was not even two years ago. however, this move is of significance for a few reasons. one, it's the first time i have had to find a place, sign a lease, make decisions, ask wise questions. i realize this is ridiculous since i'm 29, but i've just always had the good fortune to move in with others. learning how to be an adult stinks sometimes.

another reason this is slightly overwhelming me. i'm not just living somewhere to live. i'm moving to this particular locale in order to attempt to engage with the neighborhood and with folks from the church who already live there, some of whom i have a great deal of respect for. and i realize that this scares me. what if i disappoint them? i know that they love me now, but will they still love me when they see the real me? sometimes i feel like the real me is not that great... let's face it... i can be lazy, seflish, and i pick who i want to love. i realized tonight my fears of really allowing others to see the not-so-great parts of my personality. There are people who are extremely excited about me moving into this neighborhood, and i've realized that i don't understand why. i don't feel like i have a lot to give. i feel like i fake it sometimes....

and maybe that's why this move is a really great thing. maybe it's that i need to really understand that there are people who love me for all the parts of me, good and bad. and that i need to understand that God loves all those parts of me.

It reminds me of what Henri Nouwen talks about in Return of the Prodigal Son. He proposes that when we do not understand our Belovedness, when we do not understand that we are completely loved by and cherished by God, we act in certain ways. I'm realizing that for me, it's a whole lot of fear. Fear that people will leave or will be disappointed when they see the real me.

I tend to beat myself up for not intrinsically being who I want to be. For needing to be around others in order to feel motivated to serve, to love, to produce. Sometimes that feels like i am doing things only for others, but maybe it's also about others encouraging us to be the best versions of ourselves.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Movin' on up

so... it's official. I signed a lease for a house today in lexington, not far from my church. For several months I've been thinking about moving to lex-vegas, and i finally did it today! i've been really nervous about this move for some reason, but i'm excited. i love the house, it's in a cool neighborhood, and i'll live near some pretty awesome people. well, maybe except for my pastor aaron. i think i'll have to keep him in line... good thing we'll live on the same street and i can straighten him out.

i'm excited... i think this will be a great thing, and a long time in coming. And more than anything else, i really see God's hand in all of this, which is scary and encouraging all at the same time.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Question Marks and Prayers for Healing

It's been somewhat of a trying week....

  • stressful week with the kiddos
  • lots of tiredness on my part
  • feeling overwhelmed by one too many unknowns
  • feeling like i am in a whirlwind
  • needing car repairs

yet, somehow, in the midst of it all God has worked. Things still do not make sense. I am still confused, overwhelmed... but I am reminded of God's presence. And that's really all we can do sometimes. And after a much-needed breakdown on Wednesday night, I felt at least a little bit of peace, and even found myself in the position to get to encourage a couple other friends... which I was so thankful for.

And in the middle of this, I've been thinking about what it means to be truly healed. My pastor and I (a genuinely awesome guy who is probably the most accessible pastor i've ever had the privilege to be around) have had some email conversations about that this week. His wife died about 2 months ago, so it was interesting to get his take on the subject. He basically ended the conversation by saying, "maybe it's all a matter of perseverence. Because if we are healed from what we are wanting healing from, there's just something else waiting around the corner, because life is hard." And it's so true. Maybe it's not just a matter of asking for healing from something, but for God's grace within whatever life throws our way.

So...even in the midst of a somewhat frustrating week, I can still say that God is. And i can say that God loves me... maybe even likes me.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Remembering to Remember

I have been reminded this week, in a few different ways, of the power of memory-of the power of remembering and honoring. A good friend of mine sent me an email a few days ago about how she needed to "remember" God. She needed to remember that He is present, active, faithful. That in itself led me down a path of reflecting on the story of the Exodus: after the Israelites were miraculously delivered from their oppression, they had to be reminded to remember. They had to be reminded that God was faithful, alive, and with them. From a completely objective point of view, one would think that this would be a no-brainer. Of course God was faithful... He showed up in some pretty miraculous ways! But they still forgot. They complained. They wanted more than God's provision for them. And over and over in Exodus we see, "Remember God's Faithfulness."

And then today in Sunday School, we talked about this again. We are about to start a trek through the book of Deuteronomy (which I have never read in its entirety) and this is also an apparent theme. Remember. Remember. Remember God. Remember His faithfulness. Remember that He loves you. Remember that you are His child. Peter, who teaches our class, encouraged us to also remember our own journeys of faith as we read this book. Remember.

There is power in being able to remember. There is power in being able to take a step back, especially when the details of life are overwhelming...when the freshness of a relationship with the Father seems mundane....when what is apparent and obvious is pain. Remember God. Remember that I am loved and beloved. In remembering what is true, I can shift my thinking-reminding myself that I belong to the Creator, the King of Kings, YWHW, Jehovah. It is easy to think that I don't belong to him... which is why I must stop to remember.

I am reading Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen... a book that is all about living into our Divine belovedness. Today I am reminded to remember that I am a child of God, and that in truly understanding that truth changes my posture... changes how I live, how I treat myself, and how I treat others. Remembering and understanding who I belong to and how much He loves me allows me to enter into light and joy. Understanding and remembering takes me into the arms of the Father and trusting in a way that far surpasses any that I could conjure up in my own head. Understanding and remembering carries me from walking slumped over in shame to walking in confidence with my heavenly Father. I'll be honest--this is difficult to remember most days... which is why I guess God is into object lessons.

I often feel guilty for not remembering-for trusting myself and the opinions of others far more than I trust God. But I guess God knows this our tendency, since we are reminded to remember over and over again. And I guess this is why God wants us to worship together... to celebrate Holy Communion together....to remind each other to remember.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Summer Goodness...

In the past few days, I have...

  • Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Driven in Manhattan.
  • Been on the Staten Island Ferry at Sunset.
  • Eaten one of the best cheeseburgers i have ever had. ever.
  • Eaten a bowl full of cheeries. A couple of them actually.
  • Seen the ocean.
  • Driven from Brooklyn, New York to Wilmore, Kentucky in one day.
  • Had incredible conversations with my brother about life, family, and God.
  • Been enormously grateful for fun family times.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Can I help?

Working with kids all day can be a funny experience. This is not really new for me-I've been working with kids since I was in high school, but I find that my interactions with them have the ability to be humorous, frustrating, profound. What I've realized this summer is that many of the things I tell the kids I really need to tell myself. It's been interesting to hear these words come out of my mouth and to realize, 'wow. i need to remember this.'

Yesterday I was attempting to give the kids a snack, and this is normally a pretty tumultuous time. This time happens not long after they've gotten up from their nap, and a few of them just do not wake up well (i can relate to that... maggie in the mornings is not a fun sight), especially because a few of them are there for long days, and they are just really tired. What I often do during this time is let one of the kids be my helper. This is a privilege for the kids, one that is worth fighting over. One that is worth shedding tears over. This got me thinking....when do we make the move from the helper as one of privilege to something of a chore? When does it become a burden to help someone else?

It also led me into thoughts of how God designed us. It seems like maybe God wants us to view being a servant in His kingdom, being His 'helper' as something of a privilege to get very excited about. God's pretty big and powerful.... He can do anything He wants.... does He really need us? I don't need the kids to help me.... but it's fun to watch them get excited about being helpful. I don't know if God needs us or not, but it certainly seems like He really wants us to serve Him, and that it delights Him when we get excited about walking with Him and attempting to help His purposes along. It is usually very likely that when the kids help me, something will get spilled or some mess will get made. And i'll be right behind them to clean up whatever mess has been made. And i'm reminded that God doesn't need my perfection, He just wants my willingness, because He knows a mess will be made, and He'll help me clean it up.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


i often have lots of deep, profound things to post about that will no doubt win me the love and affection of all who read what i have to say, but by the time I get around to sitting down and summing up all i have to say, I can't remember what those life-changing thoughts were. So... as usual...no life-changing thoughts for today. I deeply apologize to any I may have disappointed. Instead, I shall share how I have been spending my summer days thus far:

  • I have been working at the Wilmore Day Care Center. I am the teacher for the 4 and 5 year olds. Most days, I like it. Some days, my frustration level is a little higher than I am proud of, but I really like my kiddos. they're fun. and they say lots of funny things. and i have a really awesome boss who is more than gracious with me.
  • I have been reading Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. You must read this book. Many of the life-changing thoughts that are currently in my head are a result of reading this book. I may write something later after i've processed it all.... but it is wonderful.
  • I am really glad that I'm not taking classes right now and have adequate time to read and process aforementioned book.
  • I have to move out of my apartment in August. I have absolutely no clue where i am going to live. This is probably something I should start thinking about soon.
  • I am going to new york city next weekend and i am puuuuumped! yay! yay! i believe that new york city is one of the greatest places on this earth. to add to it's inherent greatness, the one and only randall middleton (older brother of yours truly) lives there. yay for vacations!
  • I have attempted to go fishing the past two weekends with my friend samantha, and have failed both times. I even bought my very first fishing pole for the occassion, and it sits unused, and I am sad. Thus, my goal before summer's end is to go fishing. Not necessarily to catch any fish, but i would really love to put my feet in the water and hold said fishing pole. If I happen to catch any fish, that will be an added bonus.
  • I have done about 10 things today that I feel really stupid about. These aren't bad/sinful things.... Just really awkward things i've done... and i feel extremely foolish at the moment, and i keep dwelling on them.
  • Things I am thankful for today: iced hot chocolate (from Coffee Times!), gift cards from Coffee Times, really great friends, hugs, getting a short vacation in the middle of the summer, thoughtful people, God's provision, sitting on a friend's porch, long drives with friends who "get you," hope, new insights, God's presence, Sunday afternoon naps.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Just some random happenings and thoughts from the past couple of weeks....

I have been busy in some unanticipated but joyful ways. My mom and stepdad came in town to help me celebrate the big 2-9. It was a very baseball weekend... we went to the Louisville Slugger Museum, and then went to a Lexington Legends game. Baseball is one of the things my whole family likes to enjoy together, so it was good fun. I guess that's where my love of the St. Louis Cardinals comes from.... it's my family language. =) I've also been busy with other happy things.... spending time with friends, La Roca youth trip to Mammoth Cave, helping Mission Year out at Icthus, seeing out of town friends.

I'm not taking classes this summer... just working, which is so nice. It's wonderful to feel the freedom to spend time with people without feeling the pressure of schoolwork. I've also realized in myself an overwhelming desire to do summery things.... putting my feet in the sand, barbeques, swimming, feeling the sun on my face, enjoying great conversations while i play and take in all the kentucky-ness around me.

It's also been a great few weeks to do some self-reflection.... I have realized how much I crave validation of definition from other people... and so now i am doing the hard work of trying to not care what others think of me. I am also trying to find the balance between not caring about the opinions of others, but also caring for those around me.

I also still really want a porch. and i want to go to the beach. soon.

the end.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Good Kind of Tired

I'm sort of tired. But it's a good thing. I'm tired because I've spent the weekend helping my friend Jackie get married off to Peter. For many reasons, I don't know that I can think of a better way to use my time or a reason to complain about being tired. It was worth it. Basically... because I really love these friends of mine, and am so grateful that I get to be a part of their lives.

Many of you who read this know Peter and Jackie, and know how great they are, so hopefully this won't be a cheesy post. But in many ways, they've just really been a means of grace in my life, and I can say with certainty that God put these two crazy kids in my life, and it's been incredible to see how my friendship with Jackie in particular has grown. She does a great job of loving on me, accepting me, and reminding me of the things that I often like to forget. In a lot of ways, she has become like a sister to me, and I find myself saying thanks to God for her most days. She also lets me share in her life, and I love it! And Peter's just good fun, as well as an exceptional teacher. I've never known Peter and Jackie apart-I met them when they had already been dating about a year or so. And what can I say? They belong together.

Why am I rambling about them? I am rambling because I felt like I got to be a part of something truly special and meaningful this weekend. I cried as Jackie walked down the aisle, and not because I normally cry at weddings (which I don't). I cried because I have been given the enormous privilege of walking with her through life over the past year and a half, through a lot of hard times and some good ones. And to get to finally see her on that walk down the aisle... something we've talked about a LOT... it was so beautiful to me. I just kept thinking, "wow. these are two amazing people. and i get to share life with them. and i get to share this moment with them."

I am tired and drained and exhausted, but I wouldn't have traded this weekend for anything. It was a beautiful thing to get to serve jackie and peter in small ways and to just be able to love them in a fraction of the way that they have loved me.

I guess that's part of what community is. getting to share in the happy and sad moments, and finding ways to serve each other. it's about really, truly understanding that we are brothers and sisters, and finding ways to love on each other. having this weekend has reminded me of how many ways in which God loves me through His redemption, His sacrifice, His provision and His community.

So here's to you Peter and Jackie... you guys rock.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Summer is on its way

one paper, one test, and one short presentation to go before the end of the semester. whew! yay! and i am not taking classes this summer, so i am very much looking forward to a class-free few months! i am also looking very much forward to reading some non-seminary books. i already have a couple of ideas of things to read, but am up for other ideas...i'd love to hear your best fun-summer-reading ideas.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Confusion and Chaos

It's been a crazy week or two, filled with whirling, crazy thoughts, and there is lots to figure out. When i have times like these, i often remember these words:

"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, through I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone."
-Thomas Merton, from Thoughts in Solitude

sometimes i don't have words of my own to describe my state of mind, where i am, or where i would like to be. i'm so thankful that God works in all of us so that we can give each other words.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Resurrection Power

Warning: this may seem like a morbid post, but that is not my intention.

I have been thinking a lot about death today. This morning, a good friend from Atlanta sent me a text message to let me know her father had just passed away. I was so sad for Jamie, and all i could do was cry for a few minutes as I thought about Jamie's dad passing from this world to the next. I thought about Jamie trying to take care of her now widowed mom, and thinking of all her memories of her father. I thought about wanting to give Jamie a big hug right now, knowing that there is nothing I can do to take away the pain, but just wanting to be present.

Later today, I found out that a player from my beloved St. Louis Cardinals was killed in a car accident last night. This guy was my age and a relief pitcher for the Cards. It made me think... about a lot. I've thought a lot today about the rest of his teammates and the sadness they must feel, and the fact that tomorrow (or maybe the day after) they have to get back to business and play a game. I've thought about his family and the unbearable grief they must be feeling at losing a son so young. and it makes me sad.

These two scenarios are, of course, followed by the tragedy at Virginia Tech which has no doubt saddened many of us. Death is always sad, but untimely deaths do something to us. They shake us up... make us think about life.... get us on edge. It's not normal... death is not supposed to happen like this.

I'm not sure what to do with all of this, but in the midst of thinking about these things, I've been thinking about certain parts of me that need to "die," and as a result I've been thinking about what it means to "die to oneself." I've been remorseful tonight over some areas of my life I'm not incredibly proud of. But I am reminded that sometimes, some parts of a being must die before true life can take over, and even though I am tempted to berate myself for these things, all i can do is give God this yuckiness and trust that Jesus has victory over this sin, and there is no reason for me to live in it any longer!

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."
-John 5:24

As i think about death... even these extremely sad, untimely deaths, I try to wrap my mind around this... because of the resurrection, we have passed over from death to life. Christ has had victory over sadness, sin, death....it boggles my mind when i think about it.... fills me to the point of overwhelming gratitude!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Balancing Act

i am skipping out on class today because I am not feeling so hot. I am kind of sad that i am feeling like this on a Thursday, because I really do enjoy this class. sad. =(

but perhaps it's a good thing... maybe it will give me some time to rest, think, process, chill, be. The past week has been filled with the newness of possibilities, and my mind is in overdrive because of it. I have before me a potentially exciting opportunity, and it is so tempting to think of all that could go wrong. It is tempting to think that I will fail and disappoint all those around me. It is tempting to think that I have to plan every moment of this possiblity now.

this, of course, leaves no room for the magnitude and the extravagance of God's plans. I was expressing my fears and thoughts about all this to someone the other day, and he just said, "just go for it. just show up." what a freeing thought. the reality is... this thing is out of my hands at the moment. i have done what i can do for now, and just need to trust. trust. trust.

we've talked in my sunday school class a few times about the need to "participate" with God. So where is the balance? where's the balance between trusting God for all that He will and is able to do and our part in walking with Christ? What is my role? Balance is hard for me, as I think it is for most people. I tend to go to an extreme... I either blindly do nothing, and assume it will all work out (while doing nothing) or i worry, worry, worry. where is this balance?

maybe it's a simple matter of obedience.... waiting on God, and in the meantime treating people with love and respect... treating them as Christ would treat them---responding to injustices---praying---trying to draw close to my Creator---trusting the greatness of the plans that He's got, and knowing that these plans are not just for me. Any plan that God has for me, is not just for me. It's for the Kingdom. so until then... i am trusting, and hopefully learning how to treat others with at least a little respect and dignity.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Technology.... just not my thing...

I will write a real post later. However, this post is to share my excitement over the fact that I have had this blog for at least a year now and I have just now figured out how to add a picture and links to other blogs. Part of me feels a little on the stupid side, and the other part feels like i just a finished a really hard paper. Hope you all enjoy the new layout.... the polka dots were starting to get to me.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Hey you-thanks!

i've been wanting to write something on the importance of gratitude and thankfulness for a few days now. no, i am not going to list what i am thankful for. no, i am not going to merely suggest that it's a good idea to be thankful.

my friend peter teaches the sunday school class i go to each week. and each week we start prayer with just listing our "thanks." there's something profound about saying thanks to God and to others in a communal setting that draws us close to the Father... there is something there that reminds us that we are His, that we are taken care of when we are reminded of all that He has done for us.

over the past year, i have mulled over the phrase "giving control to God." and i realize that i have absolutely no idea how to do this, and most days, even what this means. we like to say it a lot. but really, what does this mean? what does it mean to give control to One i cannot see, while i still need to live my life, make decisions, pay bills, and be proactive in loving people? what does it mean to be humble before the Creator of the universe and allow Him to take control of my life? what does it mean to truly live in a Christ-centered community with my brothers and sisters? i want to suggest that true, genuine gratitude is at the heart of it.

i have been reminded this week of a few things about gratitude. first, true thankfulness is at the heart of humility. if i am genuinely thanking you for doing something for me, i am admitting that i have not done it myself, or was not able to do it myself. i am confessing that i have received something outside of my control. in a way, i am reliquishing my dependency upon myself. thanksgiving leads to the willingness to be humble. living in gratitude reminds me of what i have been given, and that i did not do it for myself. and when i'm not thankful, when i'm arrogant and living in a posture of demanding to be taken care of, i am much more likely to live into pride and a host of other sins.

second, i'd like to suggest that to truly be thankful is also related to doing and being in the center of God's will. There's a verse (1 Thess. 5:18) that says, "Give thanks continually, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." i'm realizing more and more that i wonder and stress out over which decision is right and "God's will." maybe it's not necessarily a matter of which job to take or which road to go down-but it's about me being in a posture of genuine gratitude. It's a matter of me acknowledging that all good things come from above (and not my own doing!) and living a life that reflects my dependence on my Creator and living in awe and thankfulness for what He alone can do.

back to that first thought about the trouble of understanding how to give God control.... if i understand that all things come from Him, and I am able to live in thankfulness for all that He has blessed me with, then I am able to be much more free to relinquish control. I am able to remember in my mind and heart that His plan is intrinsically good and i can trust that. I am able to give myself over to Him. as simplistic as this sounds, it starts with giving thanks! Giving thanks is about giving up myself.

i believe understanding this will change how i see other people and everything that has been created by God, and how i understand this life. it seems so simple... yet this is our calling: to remember that God is the source, and that He is good.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Musings of the week:

-i have discovered that i despise terms like 'evangelizing,' 'witnessing,' 'accepting Christ,' etc. Perhaps that makes me a bad Christian, and I am ok with that label. Instead of having a strategy to evangelize and change people, i think i would rather just invite people to follow Jesus... I would rather invite them to the feast prepared for us by our Heavenly Father. I'm already selfish enough... i really don't have a need to keep God for myself (as i accept Him for myself... i really think He wants to be shared with all the people He created).

-i am finding that in the recent days of gorgeous Kentucky weather, I would do just about anything to live in a place with a great porch. oh, how i long for this.

-There is great, deep and profound power in invitation. When we invite others to join us... for anything, we are reminding them that we delight in their presence and that we long to be with them. We are able to affirm them by saying, "i see good in you. so much so that i want to be with you." Do I delight in the presence of others in the same way that God delights in me? Do I understand how God delights in me and in my presence?

-i realize that it's quite easy to mourn over the things that i don't have, and forget all that i do have. but i do have so much.... i am so thankful today for the beautiful women in my lifegroup, for beautiful weather, for God's provision, for silly middle school girls, for the beauty of simplicity, for laughter, for babies, for friends who care, for the power of those who welcome me in, for cleansing tears, for redemption, for self-reflection and self-awareness, for hope.

-finally, i read this passage today and it was particularly meaningful to me:

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain.
I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.

-Psalm 3:3-5

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Journaling about Journaling

I should be doing homework right now. What homework, you ask? well, in all reality the two people who read this probably aren't asking that, but i shall tell you anyway. All i have to do is write 2 journal entries for my discipleship development in the family class. This seems like an assignment that I'd love... I normally love to do self-reflective writing, the kind that helps me probe into my soul and allows me to express myself. however, I am definitely not into it, and i'm not sure why. In fact, doing school this semester has been difficult. In fact, it's been a struggle to stay focused the past month and a half. anytime i need to listen to someone who is speaking in a public setting I have found my mind wandering... daydreaming.... i feel as though i'm somewhere else. i don't know where i am, exactly, or where i wish i could be. and it's frustrating, because i want to be focused. i want to be in the moment. so this has been my prayer of late... that i would be where i am, and be engaged in what God has for me.

and so, since i am having trouble journaling about what someone else wants me to journal about, i'll start here. i have so much going on inside my head that i just don't know how to express. i know that is a common problem of mine, but it really does get old. i find myself longing for belonging, longing for the touch and depth of my Heavenly Father... longing to understand the beauty of how God has created me. longing to understand and to really, really know the mystery of having a relationship with Jesus. it so often does not make sense to me and doesn't click, especially being in the midst of much Christian-ese.

I was babysitting today for a sweet little 3 year old. We were playing outside and she decided that she wanted to pretend to be Jesus. I couldn't call her by her real name--I had to call her Jesus. There were a lot of thoughts that went through my head as we played this game. First, I kind of liked that she is growing up with a deep awareness of talking about Jesus and having the reminders that He is close, present, accessible. Second, I thought about what it might mean for someone to see me and to think... "hey, you remind me a lot of Jesus... so much so that you look like Him, talk like Him, think like Him." (i am nowhere near that point....) Perhaps that is the point of the deepening of the Christian life... to continually be on a quest to figure out what it means to both imitate Christ and to follow in His footsteps. There were other thoughts too... really, i thought it was funny that she wouldn't let me call her by her real name... only Jesus. it was cute.

i am also doing a lot of thinking about what it means to truly match up what i think with what i say, feel, believe and do. I am realizing more and more how many discrepancies there are in my life. i'd like to be genuine... to offer warmth, acceptance and hospitality to all... and i'm working on it.... but i also realize how many selfish tendencies i've got. i've been deeply reminded recently that the point of my life is not for myself. any good thing that is bestowed upon me is not really for me... it's for the Kingdom. it's for something much bigger than myself. i have had a friend recently remind me, a couple of times, that i just need to be honest. even if i am mad at him or disagree with him-i just need to say what i think. in theory, this is a great idea. but for some reason i struggle with this so much, and have a hard time just saying what i think without apology.

i'm also in a season where i realize that i have some very strong, deep desires that I am not sure are from God. As i am praying through these things, i struggle with the balance between knowing that God honors and uses the longings of my heart, but being able to desire only the things that are of the Father. i really have no idea how to do this, but trusting in the provision of God.

if you have made it all the way through this post, bravo! blessings to all who tread here...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

a new week, a new post

it's been one of those weeks where a lot has happened, and not a lot has happened at the same time. here's a review of the life of maggie...

-a tornado hit the town where i spent most of my childhood summers and where i still have family. it's been scary and sad to think about, especially reading reports on this. if you think about it, keep enterprise, AL in your prayers. this tornado appears to have done significant damage. i'm sad for my aunt who still lives there, as she takes in all this damage and destruction.

-the past few days have been hard. i've taken things way too hard, way too personally. i've made mountains out of molehills, and i'm realizing my selfish tendencies within this. i'm reminded that a little perspective goes a long way, while at the same time needing to give myself permission to be upset if that's how i feel. i've gone through the gamut of emotions this week... joy, pain, rejection, isolation, contentment, discontentment, holding on, releasing, deep frustration, feeling ugly, feeling beautiful. i struggle so much with not allowing others to define how i feel... slowly, i'm learning how to balance this with being comfortable in my own skin.

-i allowed frustration to get the best of me this weekend. luckily, i was able to confront my frustration, and the object of this frustration reminded me that i have the right to speak my mind, and i have the right to feel mad. it's nice to feel validated sometimes.

-learning how to be honest without being mean and while maintaining sensitivity and respect is definitely not something i have mastered. i'd like to be there... and ever so slowly, i think i'm getting there.

-in the midst of so many frustrations over the past few days, God has reminded me of His presence, His plan, His purpose, His love. and while being frustrated, i've also felt the warmth of connection with good friends. it's been a week of sometimes wondering why i try in friendships... feeling disillusioned, but then being reminded that i need to chill out. i've been reminded that people do care for me... that even in my messiness, i do have people who see beauty in me, and who don't want to see me hurting.

-i'm realizing that the ways in which i desire to be loved by others are often not how they will always choose to show love. instead of coming to the table with my demands, i need to seek to be surprised by joy.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Finding my voice

Today my friend judy came up to me after church and said, "You have such an amazing, strong voice." I thought at first she was referring to my singing, and since she didn't sit anywhere near me during worship, i thought.. "whoa. i must have been singing way too loud... and kind of bad." but she went on to say that when i have things to say, they are good things. and not just good... but good. Things full of truth and insight... things that others need to hear. and she went on... she said, "maggie, you stay quiet most of the time... but when you do say something, it's something that others need to hear. you need to use your voice. you have thoughts worth hearing."

all i can say is... wow. this is something that has always been a struggle for me... i know that i have strong opinions, but i tend to live in this place that tells me that others will think what i have to say is juvenile, or stupid, or worthless, or won't make sense. or that my thoughts won't make a difference. I have a really hard time believing that what i have to say will make a difference... or that i have a voice worthy to be heard.

but i was reminded today that i do have a voice, thoughts put in my head by my Heavenly Father to do good things. I am often tempted to downplay what I think, wanting to reject what goes through my head. But my friend Judy has so lovingly reminded me that it's just not true. and when i reject my own voice, perhaps i am rejecting receiving from God, and from giving to others what God has given to me to share.

it strikes me that it's all part of a process of trusting the Creator with how He has created us. Self-deprecation can be so deceiving, and what may feel like humility is exactly the opposite.... looking to our own failings more than we look to our Father. Knowing that I have something worthwhile to say... something that others might listen to... wow. this floors me... all a part of the process of understanding God's purposes for me, i suppose....

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

a narcissistic faith?

i know that i'm in seminary/grad school, but i try not to use 5 dollar words a lot. however, narcissism is one that i like a lot. it sounds cooler than just saying selfish. and i've been thinking about this a lot... how i tend to view my life and my story as more important than the lives of others. i've been praying recently for God to help me get outside of myself, to truly place myself in the shoes of those around me... to not think just from my own perspective, but from the eyes of folks around me.

last week in one of my classes, Dr. Kiesling posed this question to us: Has evangelicalism contributed to the narcissism of our age? Does the church's mission point to the cross, or to individualism?

in mulling over this question, i started thinking about the language we use in the church. Receive Christ for yourself. Accept Him in your heart. Make Him your personal Lord and Savior. These statements conjure up images of having a little Jesus action figure that i can put in my pocket and pull out when I need Him. Isn't God bigger than that?

Dr. Kiesling suggested that the language we should perhaps be using when one decides to be a Christian is to "follow Jesus." This, to me, speaks of the difference between trying to fit God into my life versus deciding to make my life about God.

How do I get rid of all this "I" language while still caring for and acknowledging the creation that is Maggie? How do I make the Kingdom of God my end goal? What does it really mean to follow Jesus... to follow this One I cannot see, cannot touch... but that I trust in? What does it mean to pour out my heart... to empty all that is important to me onto the feet of Jesus?

I've realized that recently it's been difficult to sit through worship services, where I feel like I hear the same thing i've been hearing for many consecutive weeks. How does this thing, this movement, this life in the Kingdom stay fresh and alive? And in my desire for spiritual moments, I realize that I've got some spiritual selfishness i need to deal with. Will this cycle never end?

Any thoughts?

peace and blessings to all who enter here,

Monday, January 29, 2007

Truth, Community and Encouragment

For the past few days I have been feeling pretty discouraged. I have let some circumstances that are outside of my control get me down and define how i feel and how i see myself. This is something i've done my whole life, and something i find myself fighting against on a regular basis. i'm working on it...it can just be pretty tiring and overwhelming sometimes. trying to remind myself of the truth can be an uphill battle, as i fight the war of my over-analytic mind. The past 24 hours have been rough, and i have been fighting the battle of discouragement and doubt. In the midst of this, I've been reminded of the strength and beauty of community and friendships. In the middle of beating up on myself and not believing in the grace that God rains down on me, a friend reminded me today of some important things. They were things that I didn't even know that I needed to be reminded of, but yet there God met me. And i'm not sure if this friend knows the weight of what he did for me, but I guess that's part of what community is. When we are ourselves, when we are faithful to God and to our brothers and sisters, we speak life and truth into each other.

my friend peter explains this as "everyone showing up with an armful of presents." we give and receive the life-giving message of Christ's hope to each other. most of the time, we don't realize how much we mean to each other, but in the end, we bring the message of salvation to each other. what a simple yet beautiful thing.

some days, i'm realizing, it's just too much to try to convince yourself of the truth when the craziness of life hits. there's something about hearing truth from a brother, and knowing that he really cares and wants you to really believe it.

God is good.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Random Monday

I feel as though i should post, just because. i'm not sure that anyone actually reads this, but just in case you do, here are my thoughts!

-I have been working a lot... babysitting and phonathon. and when i'm not working, i'm preparing for church stuff. that's been my life. i wish that i had something else really exciting to report, but i don't. i think that i struggle when life is not "exciting," so i'm trying to learn how to live in joyful contentment when life is even-keeled. but seriously, jumping on a trampoline or having a party or hearing from someone i've never heard from sounds fun right now. sound high-maintenance? i can be like that.

-i have been thinking a lot about my motivations and realize that most days, my motives are really not that great. in fact, they are really pretty selfish. i find that i do a lot of things for the attention and acclaim of others... especially "spiritual" things. this thought makes me sick. it leads me to think about what it REALLY means to be a disciple. is it singing pretty praise songs and praying and reading my Bible and going to church? or is it more? is it really about being able to serve others before myself? is it more about loving people who don't receive love? how do these two sets of things meet?

-i am longing for connection, yet needing alone time. i am learning how to be honest with other people (but that's a pretty slow process).

-i have struggled through some emotional hurts this week from unmet expectations. trying to hope-not expect.

-i have been really stressed about money.

-my roommate's not coming back this spring. i think it will be weird, but ok. i see God's hand in this.

-i have been trying to uncover all the things that God is wanting to refine. Sometimes i feel like i'm doing ok, only to realize that there's so much that God is wanting to tear away. Some days it feels like a lot to comprehend.

-i have been very thankful for emerging friendships this week... people who accept for who i am, quirks and all.

-i have been trying to be very, very honest about who i am, how i relate to God, where He is taking me, etc.

-i'm not sure how i feel about the upcoming semester. some days i dread it... i feel nervous about all that is coming up. trying to stand in faith that it will be ok. also excited about new friends and relationships.

-i am realizing now that this post sounds sort of negative. i don't know why i feel negative right now... things really are ok. i think i am very tired, and feeling unsettled. maybe i just need a hug, some hot chocolate and some good sleep. and if you've made it thus far in my ramblings, you are awesome!

Friday, January 12, 2007

so many thoughts, so few words

i have so many thoughts rolling around in my head, with little way to articulate them, and i have been so up and down. i feel like i'm going through some sort of transition. do you ever feel like your soul is in transition? is that possible? if so, that is definitely how i feel right now. i don't think it's bad...in fact, it's probably a good thing....it's just....something. weird? hard? unidentifiable? and i love to be able to articulate myself-to put labels and words on my feelings. it always makes me feel at peace. and i can't right now-and that's the hard part.

i have found myself in many spots recently where i have needed to learn to be alone... and i realize that i stink at this. i crave people-i crave attention-i crave hugs and affirmation and encouragement and community and truth and authenticity...and when i don't have these things... i struggle. i don't think it's bad to crave these things, but when they start to define who you are... that's a definite danger zone.

as a result of having spent so many years of defining myself by what others have said, i now find myself in a spot of needing to search and seek out what my Heavenly Father says about me. A few weeks ago I was floored by a passage in Hosea:

14 "Therefore I am now going to allure her;I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
16 "In that day," declares the LORD, "you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master.

A couple of things really affect me in this passage. First, in verse 14 says that He will allure His daughter into the desert...into a wilderness spot, of sorts. i feel like i've been in a wilderness spot for a while, and i haven't understood it. i've scrambled and i've wrestled and i've tried to get away from the wilderness. it feels dry-hopeless-lifeless. but this passage reminds me of the purpose of the wilderness....it is out of God's love and desire for His children that He leads us into the wilderness... because sometimes in the wilderness, when we are most naked and vulnerable and needy that we are able to hear the life-giving words of the Father. It is out of His love that He leads us to the desert.

The second thing that pierced me about this passage is the end. "...you will call me 'my husband' instead of 'my master.'" How often have I gone to God simply out of necessity? How many times have I viewed Him almost as a slot machine (put enough prayers in, and then something good may come out) or even more often as an angry, distant father for whom I could never be good enough? But i've been reminded that God longs to be more than a master who gives me the bare minimum... He longs for intimacy with me, and with His church as a whole. He longs for our hearts... our whole beings. He is not distant... He is not disinterested. He wants to be as close to me as i would one day be to my husband. He longs to be as close, if not closer, than two humans can possibly get.

i tend to live and learn experientially, and so feeling close to a God whom I cannot physically touch is a challenge sometimes. And as i find that I long for others, God is showing me how to be satisfied with Him. to be joyfully and simply content. some moments i'm good at this... and others... well... i'm learning. there are many times that i have to be reminded by others of who I am to God. but that's community, i suppose... and a subject for a future post....