Sunday, March 19, 2006

My Central Perk

My church just opened a coffee house on Capitol Hill. It is called Ebenezer's and can be found at this webpage. I have to be careful or I will become an Ebenezer's rat.

Within the religious life community at Ashland University, there were these people who were known as chapel rats, among whom I was a part. Chapel rats were people that made their second home the chapel. You could find them in the chapel studying, reading, and hanging out pretty much any time of the day.

I could have a serious tendency to do that at Ebenezer's! I went there on Saturday morning for a cup of joe with Gina, then for the inaugural Saturday night service, then I went to NCC for service this morning and back to Ebenezer's this evening for Sunday Night Live. Granted, they are all good things. I just don't want to hang out there TOO much!

Of Note: I attended the third of four inaugural Saturday night services. The official kick off service for Saturday nights is next weekend! So does that make that the 5th Inaugural service? And is it possible to have more than one inaugural anything!?

Of Note (2): I'm not completely convinced that there was a time when carrots were every other color but orange. I don't want to contest my pastor on most of his theology, but I'm wrestling in my soul with the non-orange carrots.

Of Note (3): I've decided that I'm going to purchase $5 gift cards to Ebenezer's for my neighbors. Truth be told, I haven't passed out one of the message series invites that the church passes out in the bulletins before a new series. But heck, I can bless my neighbors with a cup of coffee, they'll meet some good people and maybe even venture down for a service sometime. That I think I can handle!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Music of my Heart

Why do I associate music with love? I've done it all my life.

Everytime I go home to Ohio, my heart overflows with love for the people I see there. My mom, my dad, my brother, my aunt & uncle... I would give them the entire world if I could. When I am with them, money, possessions, my career and my future all fall away in comparison to the time I have to spend with them.

My trips home revolve around music. My dad and brother are the most amazing guitar players. My brother is involved with the music program at Ohio University. My weekends home are filled with smokey bars and live bands, concert halls and choir concerts, marching fields and the loud brass sound. It is as if my emotions when I am there are expressed in the musical activities we share together.

Home inspires me. I feel my soul grow deeper and more serious. The capacity of my heart to love expands, so I naturally increase my efforts to demonstrate it.

Play me a song... let it be happy or sad, but let the melody and harmony consume me, the beat drive me, and its message inspire me. That is the song I'm singing right now...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Fun is unhibited spontaneity!

How much fun are you having as a Christian?...

Fun is unhibited spontaneity. Chances are the last time you really had fun it was a spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment activity or event. Big events and expensive outings can be fun, but sometimes we plan and spend all the fun right out of them....

The secret to enjoying unhibited spontaneity as a Christian is in removing the inhibitors. Chief among the inhibitors of Christian fun is our flesly tendency to keep up appearances. We don't want to look out of place or be thought less of by others, so we stifle our spontaneity with a form of flase decorum.

Biblical example to live up to: King David in 2 Samuel 6

- Neil Anderson in Victory Over the Darkness

Props to my recent spontaneous adventures:
  • Tried Lebanese Cuisine for the first time.
  • Moby Dick's House of Kabobs & Starbucks with a random group on a Friday evening.
  • Hiking the Billy Goat Trail after church. Check out some pictures here.
  • Grilling steaks on the cute grill.
  • Salsa Dancing on a Monday evening when I should've be in bed.
  • Impromptu visits from girl friends filled with laughter, honesty and Christian love.

The adventurous life is 100% spontaneous. I'm no quite sure where my Franklin Covey Life system fits in, but I am learning. Where does spontaneity become irresponsibility and immaturity? Can you have a steady job, a house, a family, maybe even a dog (as long as he is small, obedient and has little poop) and still live an adventurous, spontaneous life?

All the good without the great!

I made a new friend yesterday, and we went Salsa Dancing (yes, my life is very random). I was instantly comfortable with him, and we had great conversations about everything and nothing at all. I freely talked about church, my friends, and my faith although indirectly. He was pretty responsive and seemed to agree with me on most subjects so I assumed that he was a Christian, maybe Anglican so he doesn't express it like I do, but a Christian nonetheless.

Come to find out on the way home that he is Jewish. Honestly, my heart broke for him when I heard that. I wanted to ask him with all the innocence of a child-like faith, "You mean you don't know Jesus!?" Silly, huh? How can such a good man, a good person, live such a wonderful life but miss the best part? We believe in a lot of the same "laws" and therefore live very similar moral lives, but he does not believe that Jesus was the man he said he was.

I wish that my heart would break for all those who don't know Christ, and indeed especially as of late, it has been. I recently made a list of all those people in my life who are unsaved, so that I can be strategically aware of opportunities to minister to them. It surprised how many of my family members aren't Christians. Am I willing to let them miss out the best gift of this life for the sake of political correctness?

I am standing at a threshhold in my faith. All Christians need to come to this point and ask themselves:

Do you really believe that Christ is who he says he is?

But also, do you believe that the Gospel message is the greatest message ever told? I'm not talking lip service here; I'm talking in your heart of hearts. Do you believe that Christ's death and resurrection is worthy of sharing with others around you? Is it a message that everyone needs to hear? Is it message worth looking foolish for?

Our hearts should break when we hear that someone doesn't know Christ. It should be an innocent question when we ask, "you mean, you don't know Jesus!?" These questions are shaping the way I'm looking at the rest of my life.

I haven't always lived out my faith so passionately; in fact, I don't believe that I've ever felt the way I do now about the Gospel message. I think that all Christians go through seasons, and I'm in a particularly challenging yet joyful season. He's asking more of me than I think I can give, but I"ll give. He's stretching me in ways I have never stretched, yet I'll try.

For better or for worse, I belong to Christ... Til death do us unite, nothing will seperate me from his love.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Saturday Long Runs

I'm well on my way to my marathon goal for 2006. Today I ran 8.5 miles... by far the furthest I've run. Woo hoo!

Here is my route.

Gmaps has the greatest tool for runner to calculate their mileage. In Ohio, I used to drive my routes to calculate my mileage. However, that is impossible in D.C. where you often run the wrong way down one-way streets or through the middle of parks or on the National Mall. The Gmaps pedometer allows you to calculate running on sidewalks and through parks, especially if you switch to the satellite view.

Happy running!

The June Carter in Me

God has blessed me with two very wonderful men in my life, my dad and my brother. They are both handsome, talented and have dreams as big as the seas. Every time I watch the movie Walk the Line, I understand them a little bit more. I know how to love them a little bit better.

Besides talented, these men are very complex. I've come to understand that I'll never fully understand them. Do you think that June Carter fully understood Johnny Cash? Probably not.

Music is to the world what love is to individuals. Music creates beauty from an imperfect world. Love creates beauty from imperfect human beings. They even function the same... they require a lot on the part of the giver and reciprocity and acceptance on the part of the reciever. The giver can't not give; it is built into his soul. A musician must sing. A lover must love. Music and love are both complex in and of themselves, but without them this world is an ugly, complex mess. With them, the complexities combine to form a melody, a harmony, a rhythm, a tune.

Then what does it take to love a musician like Mr. Cash, my dad or my brother? It takes a June Carter, a woman who is willing to see past all the challenges of today to embrace unimaginable dreams for tomorrow. A musician has all odds against him in this world, but his closest love should not be one that tells him that. Sure, June Carter had her own dreams and even was able to fulfill them in the process, but she saw something in a man who saw little in himself. She loved him for everything he was, but also everything that he wanted to be.

I'm blessed with two Johnny Cash's, two long-legged guitar playing men. They both have a love and passion for music and a desire to share it with others. All beit, for me to get in the way of their dreams. Everyday the world tells them how impractical their dreams are, I want to be the one who believes in them.

Someday I'll have my own Johnny Cash, I don't really care if he plays guitar, but more that he has dreams bigger than the sea... dreams that I can come right along side him and embrace. Dreams that he doesn't believe that he can do himself, but he needs encouragement to become the man that God made him to be. I guess that is what it means to be a June Carter. Right now, I'm called to be June to two amazing musicians back in Southern Ohio just waiting to get recognized.

"Way to go, Johnny!"

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Vertical Journey

Life is more about the vertical journey than the horizontal journey.

Does anybody else ever feel that the more they move "upward" spiritually, or become closer to Christ, the more life seems to deepen?

Life doesn't come in this neat little package tied with a bow. No, it is very messy and often doesn't make sense, even for Christians. I think that there is pressure in the church to have our lives be tied with a bow, and that is why the church doesn't seem real to those around us.

But C.S. Lewis reminded me today that this vertical feeling to life isn't unnatural. In fact, it is seen everywhere in nature. Plants grow upwards, but they also grow downward. The beautiful flower that reaches to the heavens and displays all the glories of the Father has dirty roots planted deep below the surface. The taller and more brilliant they are to be come, the deeper into the dirt their roots must grow.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Endurance v. Perseverance

"Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen."
- Oswald Chambers

Perseverance (v) - to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement

Endurance (v) - to undergo (as a hardship) especially without giving in

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

Endure hardship as discipline; God is reating you as sons. Hebrews 12:7

It seems to me that one who perseveres is playing offense, while someone who endures somehting is on defense. Perseverance requires you to move with all odds against you, while endurance is standing firm while all odds are coming at you.

In the Christian life, there are times to persevere and there are times to endure. In the Bible, endure is used most frequently in two contexts: to describe a truth about God (i.e. his righteousness, truthfulness, faithfulness) and to explain how we are to handle opposition. Perseverance is used most frequently to describe how we are to move about in this world as a Christian. It builds our character (Romans 5:4, James 1:3). It describes the work that believers were doing in the world (2 Corinthians 12:12, Revelation 2:19).

As a runner I can relate to the picture of our life as race given in Hebrews 12. Endurance is your ability to maintain your pace throughout the race. If you have good endurance you are going to finish the race. However, in a race, especially here in D.C. where everyone and their brother runs, finishing the race is not enough to get the prize (1 Corinthians 9:27). It takes perseverance when you're running up the hill on Independence Avenue, when the wind is pushing against you, or when you are about to get passed by an opponent. It is the burst of energy when you think you have nothing left to give.

We need to persevere in our Christian faith and in service to others so that in the end we will not be content by finishing the race, but rather that we will have given every last effort to win the prize. If a runner gives half effort in a race and comes in second there are only two people in the world that really know, the runner and his coach. Your coach knows what you are capable of, and the areas to push you so that you become a stronger, faster, better athlete.

Stanton Park Pup Princess

Every morning Stanton Park, the little park just down the street from my house, is filled with dogs and their well-disciplined owners. Dog-lovers bring their dogs their for excercise and to play with the other neighborhood dogs. These dogs are so well trained that every few of them are kept on a leash.

For those of you who know me well, I am not a dog lover by any means. As a young girl, I was once attacked by an enormous dog who knocked me to the ground and then proceeded to vicously lick me to death. ; )

Most mornings I can go to the park to stretch before my run without the dogs even giving me a second thought. But today was very different... I caught the eye of one pup and gave him my best 1920's Chicago Gangster look. To my surprise he jumped up and started barking wildly. Then he and another partner in crime ran up to me barking wildly. After their owners calmed them down, another dog from the other side of the park ran up to me barking wildly.

To be honest, I don't know what was different about this morning, but I sincerely hope that it doesn't become a regular occurence. I'm not cut out to be the Stanton Park Pup Princess!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

To the rescue

"Leave her alone," Jesus said. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me."

Mark 14:6

As a woman, it is very comforting to see Jesus defend Mary's act of worship against her critics. How can our worship be as beautiful as Mary's sacrifice of expensive perfumes? More importantly, how do we allow the Savior's voice drown out the criticisms of the others in the room?

Who are you, brother, to condemn one like me
to judgment in Hell
when the Lord set me free.