Saturday, April 28, 2007

Fun Questions

My friend Amy had these on her blog the other day and it was fascinating seeing the responses. I know you have more pressing stuff to do with your time, but I would love to see your answers.

Here’s a few questions to get to know you even better:
1. What is your cell phone ringtone?
2. Favorite music genre?
3. Impulse item at checkout?
4. News source (tv, magazine, internet)?
5. Do you have any pets?
I’ll answer in the comments below.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Food Happiness in Amarillo, TX

Every now and again I am struck by the fact that I live in the Panhandle of Texas - not the oasis of civilization but a good place in its own right. And today while driving home from my favorite bakery the following food thoughts lingered in my mind, making Amarillo an even sweeter place to live.

1. I love Great Harvest Bread Company. Once you begin eating their bread, you just don't want anything else. It is a hefty investment per loaf, but every bite is so yummy!

2. Basil Docs Pizza is such a joy - sheer joy I tell you. The pizza is perfect. The crust has the right crunch-o-meter to bread texture level. The toppings are fresh and good for you. The combinations creative. The salad is sensational. Besides, I love the urban-loft feel of the place. The most interesting thing is who would expect to find such a treasure alongside Snowhite Bakery on Civic Circle?

3. Cafe Bella has such a tranquil and trendy interior. I love that it too is hidden behind a shopping center and when you discover it, you feel like yelling "Ahoy there, me hearties - I have found the loot." Okay, that may be too much, but it is a great find. The chicken avocado sandwich makes my tongue do little jigs.

4. OHMS makes one of the meanest Shepherds Pie's I have ever eaten. And now readers, I know my Shepherds Pie and trust me, this one is YUM-O!

5. Roosters Cafe can make a green salad with fruit and grilled chicken like no other. It is immersed in Vidalia Onion dressing which brings the entire combination together in perfect harmony.

6.Village Bakery, Franks French Bakery and Belmar Bakery each have little sweet treats to delight the tastebuds.

7.And now finally, the shrine of Pei Wei demands our attention. The lettuce wraps are so compelling that I find myself thinking of them randomly during the day. Talk about texture perfection - this is the pinnacle. Each bite has rhythm: the crunch, the crew, and a full burst of flavor...crunch, chew, aah, crunch, chew, aah....

8. Carolina's Woodfired Italian is such a treat also. The pasta and pizza is loaded with fresh veggies and awesome sauces. The Greek Salad is so refreshing and delicious that you feel like boarding a plane to Athens.

9. Then there are the "special occasion" places that are local and lovely - BL Bistro, Randys, Lincolns, Zen 721, Macaroni Joes - to name a few.

I know it is probably not completely normal to blog about food options, but who knows when one of you may need to travel to Amarillo and need food recommendations.

Friday, April 20, 2007


1.We hosted a 24 year old Austrian girl on Wednesday night as she began a cross country road trip beginning in Lubbock and taking her more places than I can name, through July. She is friends with a friend of ours friend in Lubbock. Okay did you follow that...No real connection except Christ. She walks into our kitchen and gasps at a picture on our refrigerator. It is of some friends of ours who are missionaries in Croatia. She says in disbelief - you know Roger and Erin? Well there you have it folks...a German speaking Austrian girl who knows a friend of a friend in Lubbock spends the night with some South Africans living in Amarillo, Texas and they have friends in common who live outside of Zagreb, Croatia. Don't you LOVE that!!!!! Love it, love it, love it.

Here are some of the things I just adored about Kati , our new Austrian friend-
She talked with the assumption that we knew European geography well enough to understand the nuances of living in a country that has influences from Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Slovenia. Luckily in this situation we did have a healthy dose of Austrian knowledge because I have spent 10 days there, and South African schooling is heavy on European geography.

She apologized for struggling with her tenses in English - ahem - she was able to communicate beautifully in English, and did not ever expect us to bust out any German. It became apparent that she has some French and Italian skills also. Amazing!

She remains stunned that Americans approach Europe with the 11 countries in 9 days approach. "How can you spend a day in Paris, and think you saw it" she said. I explained to her about the 2 week vacation policy for most jobs in the US and how that motivates the quick vacation. She was stunned. We were too when we arrived here. It is not uncommon in Africa, Europe and Britain for people to receive 25 work days off a year. I love the idea of choosing one country and really experiencing it than trying to see it all and never know any of it.

And like us, she believes donuts, pancakes, waffles and cinnamon rolls are dessert not breakfast. She kept saying how hard it was to find things without sugar for breakfast. It cracked me up because I remember saying the very same thing 16 years ago. Unfortunately, now I count all the above mentioned delicacies as breakfast fare....

2. Michaela came off her skate board last night. She cut the inside of her lip. She scratched up her face. Her glasses were damaged enough that they needed a lens replacement this morning. I think her nose has a minor fracture. And all this while David is out of town. What is that about. When he leaves town, someone gets sick or injured. When I think about the times we have had strep, flu, bronchitus, sometimes all three, stomach bugs and other ailments the day he leaves it is unbelievable. Makes you wonder?

3.Sanjaya is finally gone from the Idol stage. He certainly seemed like a sweet guy who handled himself well amidst the media blast, but seriously people - he just can't sing!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Amazing Grace History/

This will give you chills. There is something to me about real life situational comedy. I am not a fan of the "sitcom" on TV, unless it really reflects the stuff that actually happens in our daily life. Likewise, contrived experiences that aim at producing emotions are very unattractive to me. But, this is the real thing. I felt my entire being respond to the music. Mercy.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

What Does the Cross Mean To You

Jesus is risen, He is alive! Our Easter service today was focused on the theme, "What does the Cross Mean to you?" Not in the "everyone share pooled ignorance, small groupey kinda' way" but in the "look at how many layers, dimensions and facets the cross presents." The actual story of what happened in the death, burial and resurrection can be told fairly quickly with little nuance. But, the depth of meaning that lies at the foot of the cross will be explored forever more. As long as people experience redemption there is a story to tell. Four baptisms today mean that four new stories emerge right out of our church in one morning. And who knows how many other people dealt with God one on one during this time and began the rewriting of their story.

Steven did a fabulous job of highlighting some different facets of the cross today. He started several weeks ago by setting up a blog on our website for people to respond to the question. That began the process of hearing different voices from within our faith community. Today, those blog comments flashed across the screens. One could get a glimpse at how different people responded. Our time of worship was focused around four different people who gave their testimony and it was clear that the cross meant different things to these four people. Freedom. Comfort. Empowerment. Reassurance. He also had a couple of our artists display pieces they had created that reflected how they interpret the cross. He began the morning by reading a piece written by one of our key youth workers which in all honestly explained this person's hostility toward the cross as it seems like a burden of guilt that can never be repaid instead of a life-giving symbol of joy. I so appreciated the doubt and raw honesty being expressed in this writing and that it was shared in worship and not having it sugar coated or sanitized.
All the different elements were not simply for creative impact on Easter Sunday. It was so much more. A visual, tangible, experiential moment to see that the Cross stands in the middle of all our faith walks and the gospel meets us where we are and Jesus transforms us in the ways we need. Powerful.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I pray this title does not get me spammed to death....

I realized this week while talking to some friends, that I am fairly undiscerning when it comes to Rob Bell. His preaching is riveting, his DVD's impactful and his writing is fabulous too. I can think of nothing better right now than combining a trip to see our friends in Traverse City and then needing to stop at Mars Hill outside of Detroit to hear Rob Bell. Maybe the travel fairies will make that possible soon!

I finished his latest book, sexgod this past week. It was a great read. I want to put it in the hand of every young adult I know. Some older one's too, actually. He does such a fantastic job of tracing the metaphor of marriage that God lays out in his descriptions of how he loves us and covenants with us. He gives such clarity to the idea of sexuality and the sacred.

One of the most insightful things is that he is not only speaking to marriage or sexual intimacy. He is challenging the reader to greater compassion, love, intimacy and respect in all relationships. I think one would be missing something huge if it does not impact how you see sex but it is about so much more than that.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Life giver

As I travel this road to being a more fully alive disciple of Jesus, I am struck by what it means to actually look and sound like Jesus. To be mistaken for him, in a sense.
You know the DVD called He's my King - the one with Pastor Lockridge listing the attributes of Christ, it always causes such a well of emotion in my heart and I want to jump up and applaud. Today I am convicted by on of those attributes - being a life giver. Jesus was a life giver - one who blessed life.
I heard Jarrod Robinson, who preaches at the Riverside cofc preach a sermon called, Lord of the Sabbath several months ago and some of these thoughts are still rambling around my head from that and some from the ongoing walk to Christlikeness.

In Mark 2 when Jesus deals with the Pharisees over his disciples picking grain and the healing of the man with the withered hand in Mark 3, he is the ultimate life giver. He reframes the purpose of law. Relationship always trumps regulation. Limitation is never the intent of law, freedom is. Law was never intended as life-draining but life giving. Because of how God values humanity he provides law as a way to honor our lives not punish us. I love the way he reaches back to their shared history and draws on the ultimate case study of David and his starving men eating the consecrated bread and it being okay. He has a tangible example to hold out to the pharisees to show that it is never about taking life, but always about giving life. Interesting that when the Pharisees leave his presence, the text says, "and they left to plot with the Herodians about a way to kill Him." Gods' desire is for us to be fully alive. He gives abundant life. When Jesus leaves people they have always had the touch of life given to them.

Jarrod made an interesting point in his sermon and I hope I am remembering this correctly. He said, God labelled the things that destroy life as sin, and the things that give life as commandments. What a powerful statement of truth. Think about it.

I know that I want to be a life-giver in the way I respond to people, in the way I serve them and the way I look at them. I want people to leave my presence having seen the intent and heart of God. I fear that too often as a vessel I land up diverting the life giving love that God intends to pour through me and the opportunity is lost.

Thank God that one of his other attributes is that He is a God of second chances!