Monday, December 29, 2008

Check it out

I have a "Steven" link under my friends to the left of this column that has been there a long time. Steven has moved his blog and I have updated the url, so click on it and it will take you directly to his new site, Elevated Praise.

Besides being one of those friends that you hold in your inner circle, Steven is a fabulous worship pastor. Fabulous. So, as a good worship resource and a place to share his spiritual journey, check out that link.

Oh, and hope your holidays have been awesome. I have a lot to share as soon as I have a regular schedule!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


...A cruel dictator...
...No democracy...
...Human rights abuses...
...No food for the people...
...Death due to no available medical supplies...
...Government corruption unlike anything we have seen in decades...
...Aid being diverted to prop up the politicians...
...Disgustingly lavish lives led by the leader... oil reserves - just a little copper in what is left of the mines...
I guess their plight will be ignored.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Morning Mental Snapshots

1. Our church is located downtown and so we have a large outreach ministry to our neighborhood and other marginalized people in our community. Our vision and mission is shaped by this and increasingly our other ministries are being evaluated through this filter. One way in which our outreach is becoming more of our DNA and less of a "ministry" is what we call Green Tags. Instead of people coming into the office on Monday afternoons for assistance with gas vouchers, utilities, rent money, assistance with obtaining drivers license/birth certificates etc, that is now handled on Sunday mornings. Volunteers wearing green tags are available to assist those coming in with requests. The load is spread from just the outreach minister to a load of green tag volunteers. People are prayed with, listened to, helped, invited to a breakfast time. And that is where the first image comes from. As I turned a corner in the Southwest corner of the building this morning I saw two children between the ages of 5-8 sitting at a table enjoying a hearty breakfast. Their Dad was being helped, their baby sister was being loved on by a volunteer and they had been fed by a few other helpers. Beautiful.

2. I am wrapping up a Christmas Tree Tag project where our church provides gifts for children in foster care. The tree is bare because all the tags are taken. Yet, a widowed man came up to the table today to check how he could still help. The holidays are hard for him, shopping is not his favorite thing, but ensuring that these kids have a good holiday trumped it all. Beautiful.

3. Our focus in worship today was on the abundance of God as our Shield, our Comfort, our Hope and our Provider. We celebrated abundance throughout the whole morning and our worship culminated with a Lord's supper celebration like no other. We had tables set up all around the auditorium with delicious loaves of bread from Great Harvest Bread company and cups of grape juice. People were given chunks of bread and full cups of juice to really experience taking in the body and blood of Christ. It was the final element of worship and so it led directly into fellowship time so people stood around the tables taking their communion in community before leaving. Beautiful.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gift Giving that Grows the Kingdom

This is in response to something I had on facebook today. I am posting a list of the gift giving ideas that I included in the article that I mentioned on facebook. I have taken out all the "waffling" that I did inbetween and this is merely the list. I hope you get some good ideas!

1.Eternal threads -
"We are dedicated to improving the lives of women in poverty by giving them work, marketing their handmade goods and returning the profits to educate girls. Everytime you purchase a tote you help keep a woman employed and educate a girl. Your purchase of a small size tote doubles the family income of a woman for nearly a week and educates a girl for two months."
You can purchase beautiful handmade totes and bags from India along with lots of new merchandise from Nepal, Afghanistan, Madagasacar and Thailand.

2.Christian Relief Fund -
"The Christian Relief Fund is dedicated to following Christ’s example of ministering to human needs: spiritually, physically, and emotionally, by feeding the hungry, healing disease and heartbreak, fighting ignorance and poverty through education and preaching the Gospel through word and deed."
You can sponsor a child through Christian relief fund and literally change the trajectory of someone's future.

3.The Kibo Group -
$49 plants a mvule tree on behalf of that person in your life who already has everything. (That’s actually cheap for a “Christmas” tree these days, and ours are actually alive and growing!). We send you a card. with your tree registration number, which you can use to follow your tree online!A village, with the help of a Mvule Project engineer plants a tree and marks it with a Global Positioning System (GPS) for further monitoring. We are allowing up to 100 trees per village so we need the GPS to keep track of them. Periodically for a year (every month at first) we will return to the trees to monitor their status. Every live tree garners a payment . . . with each payment increasing, sometimes doubling, from the last one. You get the picture . . . the motivation to keep these trees alive is big, big, big! If a mvule tree can make it through the harsh first year, it’s good to grow. At the end of a year, 100 living trees will mean more than $3000 for a village and their project. That’s good money for a village and that’s easy management for us. Because of the economic seeds you’ve planted, Ugandan children will grow stronger physically, spiritually, and academically. And one day, their children will sit in the shade of your mvule tree.

4. Catchall Basket: This beautiful basket starts at just $10, but then again is is made from grass and potato chip bags found littering the streets of Nepal.

5. Elephant Dung Products: It sounds kind of gross but cool at the same time. Pick up stationary sets made from elephant dung. The money helps save elephants.

6. Toms Shoes: Buy a pair of Toms Shoes and the company will donate a pair to a child who doesn’t have any.

7. Envirosax: Pick up reusable grocery bags and know you are doing your part to help the earth. A portion of sales go toward environmental causes.

8. Oxfam America Unwrapped: Give a powerful gift through Oxfam America Unwrapped. $90 buys a pair of sheep, $500 plants a forest.

9. Kikoy Covered Book: Help marginalized women in Africa by purchasing their handmade products like this covered book for just $10.99.

10.Kiva Microfinancing -
"Kiva lets you lend to a specific entrepreneur in the developing world - empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty"


My sweet friend Cassie tagged me and here are the rules:

"find the NEAREST book, turn to page 56, find the fifth sentence, and post the next two -5 sentences. Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or an intellectual book - pick the NEAREST book"

From Learning to Pray the Psalms by James Sire: "This psalm has clear subject breaks between the various stanzas, but, as may already be clear, it has the structure of a reverie more than that of a rational argument. It is like a conversation one might have with oneself upon retiring for the night."

And I tag - Kinney Mabry

Friday, November 07, 2008

A View From Behind

Last night between dinner and the next thing on our "date agenda" David and I were hanging out at Barnes & Noble. William Paul Young, author of The Shack was there - he gave a brief talk and then did a book signing. We found two overstuffed comfy chairs behind the book signing station and just watched the line of people for over an hour. It was incredible.

Person after person walked up to the table, introduced themselves, asked for Mr. Young to sign their book (or books - because clearly lots of Christmas shopping was being taken care of) with whatever inscription they needed. And then, they all began to tell a brief story of why the book had resonated with them. Stories of pain, grief, forgiveness, blessing and gratitude. He stood up from the table, hugged every one's neck and made them feel like he was there for them alone. Amazing.

I guess the thing I walked away with was a reminder that everyone has a story. One can not tell from our well protected and well decorated exteriors what is really going on in the heart. And then here and there, people find a safe place to share the burden or the blessing. I pray that I can be a safe place.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Just a Mom's thoughts on the current situation

There is no way for me to blog about any other topics until I have reflected a little more about what has just happened in the US this week. Wow. I have been overcome with emotion in ways that are so similar to how I felt when Nelson Mandela was elected president of my country more than a decade ago.

I have taken some heat about my political leanings. But I have increasingly found more and more like minded believers. I was not going to post the following long diatribe on here because it seems self indulgent, but my husband suggested I should given that it is my blog and I can share my feelings on it whether readers agree or not.

So, here goes! Let me begin with this ground rule. This is a piece I wrote to a friend who asked me why I think the way I do - it is not meant for arguing against. I am not prepared to banter issues back and forth. I just won't do it. It is a window into my heart and head. And more than that we have all had enough politics to last a lifetime. I have waited until now to post this because I was hoping some of the fear driven emotional responses to the election would have settled down.

Let me tell you a little about where I am. This is so not a party political thing for me, because I think when forced to pick between two extremes, most of us wish we had a scissors and glue so we could construct something that is more of what we want. However, given what we have, I think my leanings are such because of how I would imagine Jesus feeling and thinking. Plus, I am a tax paying permanent resident, but not a citizen - so I don't get to vote anyhow ;-) And given my status in many ways I feel like a guest in this Country and so everything said below is said with respect.

Rarely when opinions are so different is the debate of issues helpful. For example in theology - one may disagree about worship or gender justice in the church, and argue the positions for years which seldom does any good. The usual reason is that one's way of interpreting scripture is different and so until that fundamental thing is aligned all the issue debating in the world will not help. Like wise with politics, I think the issues are just surface. It is more about how one sees the world, how one has been socialized etc.

Some important foundations for me are this:

1. I think when one is born and raised outside of the USA, one automatically has a different world view. Most of the foreigners I know in these parts, could never imagine themselves being Republican. I will not try to presume to understand why that is, because people from different countries have different world views, but there is a common “democratic” bent with them.

2. I do not believe that it is theologically responsible to think that God ever intended for their to be "Christian Nations." This immediately bumps up against much conservative christian right wing politics. I can not reconcile his call to us as aliens throughout scripture with the idea that we are to create some environment here that is conducive to Kingdom of God. I also know for a fact that Christianity thrives when it is not assumed or becomes the Constantinian religion of the time. I also do not believe America was ever intended by the founding fathers to be such. Instead of retyping this, I have cut and pasted an article below to support that idea. (Long article below, read it or not)

"For example, when John Adams was serving as our second President, the U.S. made a treaty with the Muslim country of Tripoli (now Libya). Article 11 of that treaty includes these words: “the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Copies were distributed to the Legislature, and the treaty was read aloud on the floor of the U.S. Senate. In June of 1797, the Senate ratified the treaty by unanimous vote, and President Adams signed it into law. In his book, Jews, Turks, and Infidels, historian Morton Borden writes, “What is significant about the Tripoli treaty is . . . its ready acceptance by the government. Not a word of protest was raised . . . Whatever their personal feelings on the question of religious equality for non-Christians in particular states, all concurred that Article 11 comported with the principles of the Constitution.” Following its ratification, the text of the treaty appeared in several leading newspapers of the day. The public’s reaction was hardly a ripple. Why? Because the citizens of our new nation then understood something that threatens to become for us a forgotten truth: according to our Constitution, the United States of America was intended to be a federal republic where people can believe anything they like. Only the rule of law, rooted in self-evident morality, would be enforced. Religious beliefs, provided that they did not lead to the violation of law, could be advocated, criticized or ignored. Either way, all of them would be tolerated. For example, in his Notes on the State of Virginia, written in the early 1780s, Thomas Jefferson includes a short chapter on “Religion.” Regarding various religious beliefs, Jefferson observes: “[I]t does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” One might think his neighbor’s religious ideas are nonsense. But what is the effect of attempting to coerce people to accept what you “know” is the truth? Said Jefferson, it makes “one half of the world fools, and other half hypocrites.” Paradoxically, because the First Amendment to our Constitution prohibited the establishment of a national church, and any form of coercion, religion in the United States flourished. In those early years, devout Americans came to realize that they would have to do by persuasion what other countries had pretended to do by legislation.And persuade they did. But not because they were somehow compelled by their Uncle Sam, but because they felt called by their Father God. As a result, the United States certainly is, in that sense, a Christian nation. In 1819, James Madison, commonly regarded as the father of the Constitution, observed that the religious devotion of the American people had been encouraged by what he called “the total separation of the church and state.” I believe that when it comes to the political state and the church of God, Christians should remember what the Founding Fathers certainly knew: the first axiom of real religion is that it resonates in the heart. It cannot be coerced. Furthermore, according to the Scriptures, the responsibility of training children does not belong to some “Christian nation” and its public schools commissioned to make all students sufficiently “religious” through state-mandated, teacher-led prayer and Bible reading. The responsibility for training children belongs to parents. To the Israelite nation, Moses said, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NIV). At present, even in the midst of a real or imagined “godless assault,” Christians in the United States face much less hostility and oppression than did the earliest Christians. And yet, at least some of them went everywhere preaching the Word, serving others, setting an example, bringing up their children in the instruction that comes from heaven. Who would argue that under our present laws in these United States, Christians are not free to do the same? God has not been silenced. In these last days, he speaks clearly “by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe” (Hebrews 1:2).

3. I am amazed at how Christians remain shocked at how dark society is. Much of right wing Christianized politics appears surprised at the worldliness in which we live. It makes me scratch my head because I want to yell, “what do you expect outside of Jesus?” Instead of being bothered by Hollywood etc, make your corner of the world an outpost of the Kingdom. The fear driven political agenda of right wing Christianity is unattractive to me on every level. And thus I struggle with the kind of thing that Focus on the Family is always trying to push.

4. Given all of that, I find myself looking at positions on:
the migrants
the aliens
the poor
international coercion
the elderly
health care
the environment
leverage of resources in order to force compliance from other countries
.....and imagining Jesus.
He always, without a doubt came down on the side of compassion.

5. With regards to abortion. The water gets muddy because instead of abortion being a moral issue it is now a political one. Thus we are left having to navigate lots of political issues that are wrapped up with abortion. Add to this the ridiculous dichotomy of names we have given the positions AS IF anyone is not really pro-life. Perhaps we should talk in terms of pro-choice and anti-choice. And more times than not the conservative position on the issue seems to be inconsistent to me. I am not in favor of babies being killed, but neither am I a fan of children, teens, young adults or adults being killed. IF ONE IS TO BE PRO LIFE I THINK IT IS IMPERATIVE TO BE PRO LIFE AFTER THE WOMB TOO. Once a baby is born into our world, how pro life are we in making sure that baby has every tool it needs to grow up into a healthy, productive citizen? How do we act pro life in terms of access to resources, health care, education, war......Politics will never cure this issue. Law does not change this kind of thing. Sodomy is outlawed in Texas but it has not prevented homosexual sex. No candidate will ever. No government will. Only living in ways that are Kingdom oriented will. As Christians, if we were standing outside the abortion clinics begging for the unwanted children to be given to us, that would make a difference.

6. I feel passionate about not just leaping to the aid of countries that are rich in resources that the US needs. How is it that we get entangled in issues under the guise of “setting free” “democracy” or even “human rights” but usually those countries are rich in what we need. And thus, The Sudan, Uganda, much of Asia etc go on with horrendous genocide and human rights abuses. Generally it is because they offer us nothing to boost the $.

7. I am also in the midst of a journey toward greater pacifism. I am not a complete pacifist because there are still inconsistencies in my mind. However, I know that I am not a war supporter either, especially under the circumstances of Iraq.

8. I get concerned about the conservative "anti gay rights" movement. I do not understand how allowing gay people in a monogamous relationship to get married threatens the status of my marriage. Heterosexual deviants, heterosexual addicts, heterosexual adulterers in marriages do not threaten the sanctity of my marriage. Once again I think this is a moral issue not a political one. Do we think that God in some way can not distinguish between a marriage that He sets forth in scripture and one that may violate that? Of course he can and does not need us to protect Him from that. And with regards to gay rights, until we are willing to take away the rights of the greedy, the slanderers, the adulterous, the incestuous, those addicted to pornography, the liars, the money hungry, the power manipulators etc, I am not willing to deny rights to gay people. Sin is sin - and I can not make one worse than another.

9. I am not railing against capitalism or wanting communism, but I feel like "sharing" is a closer pattern to how I would imagine Jesus instructing us to live together. That is scary for some Americans because anything socialistic in nature conjures up fear from the US/Russia struggle, I understand.

10. And then finally, I look back at how I believe President Bush has mishandled his presidency and have no desire for that again. I believe the war was pre-emptive, motivated by other issues. I believe he acted in a lone-ranger way ignoring global wisdom. A personal agenda, with a lot of arrogance mixed in won out in that decision.

And so like you in ministry and a disciple of Jesus - we make our decisions. And as far as I can see I believe the life of Jesus lines up more closely with the whole package of Obama - another next to me, tries to line up their views with Jesus and sides with McCain. Complicated does not begin to describe this. Bottom line, Jesus is the only hope - not candidates or parties. And so, when making a personal choice, I can not base it on one or two issues that I do not think are political ones to begin with.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The process of processing

Many have asked me to share thoughts from the renewal I just got back from. I am struggling to find words that both capture the significance of what God did while keeping confidences. So, I have decided to just share some highlights.

1.Each evening we gather in prayer clusters as part of the CbW schedule. Your prayer cluster works like a small group. You remain together the entire week and although most of the time is not spent in that group, some really powerful things happen in the group. There was not a cluster that did not have God's fingerprints all over it. People were grouped so well together in ways we could never have planned. Peer ministry took place. Connection developed quickly, confession and affirmation flowed openly. God bound people to each other in significant ways.

2.Each participant gets a one hour prayer time with a team member. One of my favorite times of the week. Each of the women that I got to pray with and there were 5 were AMAZING! As we shared our hearts and lifted our desires in ministry, family, discipleship to the Lord He made His very presence crystal clear to us as literally formed and framed the words that were spoken.

3.During the equipping blocks each day we worked out of Psalm 103. It was inspiring to see how the thoughts of this Psalmist moved the women to reflect in their silence and solitude time and the other reflection exercises.

4.I feel so blessed to have added a group of incredible women to my treasure chest of friends. God is good.

Keep praying for this ministry as our trips to Australia in May and Papua New Guinnea in June will sneak up on us quickly.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I am getting ready to leave town on Saturday as part of a team of women who will be hosting a Come before Winter renewal in Whitney, TX. Please pray for us as we host this event.

Pray that the amazing unity of our team will be a witness to all attending.
Pray that the participants will be able to really give themselves this week to just be with the Lord.
Pray that the obstacles of life will not interfere with the work that God is going to do.
Join me in thanking God for this incredible ministry.
Pray especially for this renewal because it is a pilot renewal - our work is usually done on the mission field, this is the first renewal to be offered on US soil.

If you want to know more about what we do, check out the website:

Update: If you look at the site, you will not see me listed as a team member, because that portion of the site has not been updated.

See you in cyberspace after Oct. 12th.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Power of Words

Today I had a leisurely morning coffee visit with a good friend. We always laugh a lot but enjoy talking about the serious stuff also. She often chuckles at the way I say things or my choice of words, teasing me that I phrase things like one would expect to read in a clinical report. I am not exactly sure about that, but she is not the only friend who likes to tease me about my "phrase-ology" and that got me thinking about words.

I often hear the line, "you talk funny" or "ooh, where does your accent come from" which always tempts me to want to reply, the same place the rest of my being comes from. But, I resist, and say South Africa politely. "Huh" is what I usually hear after that. Then I explain that we are English speaking South Africans who sounded more British when we arrived in Texas 17 years ago, but now we sound more Australian/New Zealand-ish thanks to the Texas Twang. But, it is not that kind of thing that I am thinking about.

Words have power and we all know that. We have experienced the blessing of good words spoken over us and about us. We have also experienced the devastation of harsh words. One of my favorite things about Mike Cope as a preacher is that he uses words with precision and care. One well picked word can replace a sentence. While I worked for Jack Reese, I would marvel at his love of language and word usage. I think I finally get it. One of my good friends, Adam Gray, is often "accused" of using language that is hard to decipher because it is heart language and not "tell it like it is, git-r-done" kinda talk. I love talking to Adam, because the words make me reach and stretch to see if I am really tracking with him. I always walk away more alive because he challenges me.

Rich words spoken over coffee renew a friendship. Authentic, loving, respectful words spoken in a marriage bring depth and growth. Prayer that is sprinkled with a language of praise and adoration brings us into worship like no other. Song lyrics that are deep and true resonate with our spirits. Words from scripture, made alive in the person of Christ equip us and fill us to live out the mission of God in the world. Words whispered by the Holy Spirit move us.

One can not ignore words. They are everywhere, calling us to consumerism, tempting us to dull our witness to Christ, offering us false hope, promising things that this world can not deliver.
And so, I am more convinced than ever that choosing to fill our lives with words that have real significant meaning can change us.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Conversations from Colorado

We just spent the past weekend at Glen Eyrie, the Navigators beautiful site in Colorado Springs. We were there to attend a Marriage Retreat. The last time I visited this gorgeous retreat center was back in 1994 for a Marriage Getaway put on by the ministry of the Navigators. It truly is a glorious place.

David and I spent hours in conversation and that is just for us. However, two other conversations have been rattling around in my mind and seem blog worthy.

1. Brian McLaren was at Glen Eyrie doing another conference, but I got to have a short insightful conversation with him. He has spent a lot of time recently working with church leaders in South Africa and has a unique perspective of what God is doing there. We feel out of touch with the larger picture of Kingdom and how it is impacting life there. I was able to ask him to give me his perspective of what is happening. It was hopeful and encouraging. From the very source of past atrocities and apartheid new life is coming and Jesus is being lived out in ways that are fresh and unexpected. I shared my concern about the violence being directed toward immigrants from other African countries and how that does not fit the Ubuntu theology of Bishop Tutu and other important African voices. He acknowledged the tension of ideology versus practice, but framed it with such clear understanding of the situation. Bottom line he said is that when people feel their wealth is being threatened they will turn on whomever. Bingo!

Herein lies the real issue. One would think that a people who have seen the hardship of being marginalized, the struggle of poverty and the pain of powerlessness would have such deep compassion for the stranger among them, that they would pull together to ensure greater equality for all. However, the newly empowered, the nouveau riche and rising middle class instead are closing ranks to protect their new status at the expense of the refugee.

It made me wonder about the power of our stuff.

2. The second conversation was one about marriage, that the lead organizer of the retreat shared. From the writings of Gary Thomas and others, he reminded us that marriage is more about making us holy than happy. While that is not a new concept it is a beautiful one. It transcends emotion and feeling, but does not minimize it. It speaks to the deeply shaping experience of knowing oneself better in community. It calls us to see our marriage as a tool in the kingdom. Not for one minute was he encouraging us to live out loveless, passionless marriages - just the opposite in fact. He was calling us to the highest possible view of marriage.

It made me wonder about the power of real love.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Give Me Your Eyes

I have really been taken with a song that I am hearing on k-love. It is Brandon Heath's, Give Me Your Eyes. The lyrics are so compelling. I pray that God gives me the love for humanity like the words of this song call me to.

Looked down from a broken sky
Traced out by the city lights
My world from a mile high
Best seat in the house tonight
Touched down on the cold black top
Hold on for the sudden stop
Breath in the familiar shock
Of confusion and chaos
All those people going somewhere, Why have I never cared?

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see

Step out on a busy street
See a girl and our eyes meet
Does her best to smile at me
To hide what's underneath
There's a man just to her right
Black suit and a bright red tie
Too ashamed to tell his wifeHe's out of work
He's buying time
All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared?

I've Been there a million times
A couple of million eyes
Just moving past me by
I swear I never thought that I was wrong
Well I want a second glance
So give me a second chance
To see the way you see the people all along

Monday, September 08, 2008

How Blogging Has Changed Me

Jim Martin tagged me in his last post and made me think about blogging and how it impacts us.

1.Blogging has become a regular part of my spiritual practice. Both the writing of my own blog and reading of other blogs serves to challenge me, teach me, shape me, and draw me closer to God.

2.Blogging has opened up a world of new relationships - some readers I know and have existing relationships with yet others are blog-world friends.

3.Blogging helps orient my thinking. I am able to better process my thoughts through writing and reading comments.

4.In addition to physical community that I value highly, I love the community that develops in the blog-world that allows us to see how believers of all stripes are expanding the kingdom.

5.Blogging has allowed me the joy of "virtually" sitting at the feet of great thinkers on a daily basis. How else does one get to engage in the thoughts of Mike Cope, Jim Martin, Frank Belizzi etc with such regularity.

And now I would like to tag a few friends...

Frank Belizzi
Jim Leasure
Kinney Mabry
Angie Bruce

The rules to this tag are as follows:
1. Write about 5 specific ways blogging has affected you, either positively or negatively.
2. link back to the person who tagged you - A Place For the God-Hungry (Jim Martin)
3. link back to this parent post - Seedlings in Stone
4. tag a few friends or five, or none at all
5. post these rules— or just have fun breaking them

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Often on this blog I recommend that people listen to a sermon that Dan has preached on the previous Sunday, and this is no exception. Go to and you can download it. He concluded a summer series on prayer based very loosely on Philip Yancy's book called Prayer. Part of what was so striking for me personally is that I had spent the entire weekend talking to a good friend about the process of going through the desert and how we live as Kingdom people while in the dry places. The Holy Spirit was faithful to take those conversations and then allow God to speak a word into that situation through Dan on Sunday. Amazing.

But, in addition to that as a hearer this sermon was brilliantly constructed. Genius really. There were layers and layers. The basic message and then underlying thoughts that you could take hold of and chew on for days. I am chewing.

I wanted to share a few of the thoughts that I am contemplating since hearing this message.

1.The spiritual desert is the reality of our faith journey. Moses, Abraham, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, David, Jesus - they had them. Times in the desert where faith and obedience are hard. St. John of the Cross wrote Dark Night of the Soul from the desert. Theresa of Avila, Mother Theresa, Bonhoeffer - all of those inspirations from our history had their faith formed and reformed by walking through the desert.

2.God does not wait to do his work in us while we are on the Mountaintop. Some of His best work is done in the desert.

3.Our responses to God can not depend on the emotion we feel toward Him.

4.And thus, a life lived out of solid engagement with the spiritual practices will be what sustains us. Praying when we don't feel like it. Sitting with God waiting when we would rather be taking action. Listening instead of speaking.

5.Control has to be surrendered to live like this. Courage and risk are required to allow God to work in us during these times knowing that the process and not the end result is really the prize.

6.Living out the tension of doubt and faith, fear and hope, pain and joy, exhaustion and renewal, surrender and empowerment is where we spend the majority of our lives if we are serious about discipleship.

And so I can sing with new and renewed courage, "when the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say Blessed Be The Name of the Lord."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Christians Engaging Politics

I realize I am treading on sensitive ground here - given I am not a citizen and my Mom raised me to never bring up politics as dinnertime conversation. Well, I don't usually bring it up but if I'm asked I share my opinion which often collides with most mainstream Christians. But this is not about that really.

My husband David suggested I read an article in the new Relevant magazine titled, "In the Booth, not of the Booth." It is an incredible read and will provide more than enough for you to contemplate this political season.

Adam Smith writes, "For those seeking to embody Christ, the choice can be especially difficult. On one side of the equation is a candidate who seems to offer hope for peace and ease for poverty, yet supports abortion. On the other is a candidate who champions the rights of the unborn, yet seeks to continue the war in Iraq. Can a Christian truly throw unflagging support behind either candidate?" Smith continues to quote Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw authors for Jesus for President. Claiborne says "I think a healthy suspicion about putting all our hope in one day, one vote, or one candidate or party. Haw agrees, "we're trying to help people think as Christians, and that takes a rugged revisitation of the whole biblical story to be able to think as a Christian and requires us to have Christian historical memory and imagination." Adam Smith writes, "Haw adds that the idea of nationalism is often theologically unsound. He says that being born again should mean, from a theological standpoint, that Christians have a new and different citizenship. Theologically, born again didn't just mean that you have a spiritual attitude to your life. It literally meant that you're joining into this people of Abraham that are a holy nation set apart. There seems to be evidence all over the Bible that this is a very concrete people. You're latching yourself onto this other nation. Now when you use the word we or our, your identity is connected to a different group of people, a diasporic people. That's not just linguistic gymnastics. Its biblical realism. Without that our nationalism is misguided."

I find this so rich and challenging.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

When the well is dry

After being a part of a group that spent some sacred time discerning together this week, I have been struck by several thoughts. One of which I need to explore some more.

When you are spiritually tired, exhausted, done - what betrays that?

Is your rhythm of spiritual practices off kilter?
Or, out of habit do you continue in the practices of spirituality regardless?
Are your attitudes ambivalent maybe even cynical?
Do you get aggressive? Passive?
Is your time spent with the busyness of doing God-work so you don't have to just be with him?
What about family, does that change?
Do you embrace silence in order to self reflect?
Do you crank up the noise of life in order to avoid reflection?

What do you think?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Psalm 103

I have spent the last few days unpacking this Psalm as part of the retreat I was on. Take a moment and read it.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!

In your reading what strikes you most?
Is it the nature of God, the nature of humanity, covenant, sovereignty, redemption?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Shameless Plug..or Sharing an Opportunity

Many of you know that I was part of a Come before Winter team that travelled to Canada in March to host a renewal retreat for women in ministry on the field. Come before Winter have been hosting these renewals all over the world since 2000 and have served missionaries around the globe in ways they have never been served before.

When I returned from that trip I was so impacted that I said more than one time that I have found what I want to do with my life. It is an incredible experience. I feel very blessed to be travelling with them to do the first Stateside renewal in October. Then in May I will join a team and go to Australia to host a renewal and in June to Papua New Guinea.

As team members we raise our money to go on these trips and to cover the cost of participants. Those who are invited to attend are asked to pay their own way to the site and then the balance of the week is provided as a gift of love to honor them. Because I have three consecutive renewals lined up I am needing to raise around $11000 - yes, you read that correctly...Eleven thousand dollars. I have sent out fund raising packets and feel like God will bless this. However, I wanted to put it on my blog in case any of you readers feel God calling you to partner with me in this ministry.

You can check out the ministry at
If you would like to donate toward these three renewals you can mail a check to:
Come before Winter, Inc.
P.O. Box 203381
Austin, TX 78720

You can mark it for Arlene Kasselman's fundraising. You can also make donations on credit card.
Phone inquiries: (512) 918-2717

Please share this with anyone you think may have a heart for renewal of women in ministry, minister's wives, elders wives etc.

Thank you for reading this far and indulging me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Micah 6:8

"What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." These words are painted around the molding in my dining room. These are rich words. Ones that require action, response and life change.

For many Christians the ideas held within this short verse are quite foreign. The love of comforts and material possessions coupled with the distaste for inconvenience and sacrifice, all swimming in the water of accomplishment and achievement seem to distract us.

And as Adele Calhoun writes in the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, "we never outgrow the need for prophets who remind us of the great requirements." Eugene Peterson suggests that faith that doesn't serve justice can end up making us worse instead of better. Think about that.

So how does Micah speak to us where we live right now? Not all of us are going to Africa to work among the Invisible Children, or to Asia to free child slaves. Few of us are in the Peace Corp or doing full time mission work. Yet the words of God still ring true and call us to live in such a way that we are incarnational expressions of faith. What about in your own downtown, with the single parents in your own churches, the shelters, the homeless on your streets. What about the relief agencies that you can support?

How does concern for justice fit with your faith?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Yancy on Prayer

During the summer our Sunday am Bible class is taking a break from our Matthew series and we are going through Phillip Yancy's book Prayer. I have chapters 9 & 10 to teach this Sunday. There is too much to cover in one week and so many rabbits to chase... Yancy writes every paragraph with layers and layers of meaning to apply and contemplate.

After reading the two chapters over and over, I have decided that instead of actually teaching all the content, I am going to discuss 4 central ideas that hit me from what he said.

Tell me what you think.

1. The inner voice of prayer expresses itself naturally in action, just as the inner voice of the brain guides all bodily actions.

2.While we will not all find ourselves in the kind of dramatic circumstances that faced Bonhoeffer in Germany or Tutu in South Africa, we all in our own way will feel the tension between prayer and activism, between action and contemplation.

3.We want a God we can count on yet an attentive God whom we can affect.

4. By using prayer rather than other, more direct means, God once again chooses the most freedom-enhancing style of acting in the world. God waits to be asked, in some inscrutable way making God's activity on earth contingent upon us.

This is enough to keep us talking for a year, why do I think one Sunday is going to do it justice?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

So This I Know To Be True 2

I have blogged about friendship before, extensively I think. However, over the last few weeks or so I have had some relational experiences myself and watched a friend or two struggle through theirs. I had lost contact with a heart friend from childhood who I recently found via email and it has been such a joy catching up. I have also just this week "reconnected-still" as they put it, with a friend from not so long ago and it has been life giving to me. It has made me think about what really matters in friendship, in intimate community and in walking together as disciples. God has blessed me with friendships that I treasure.

1. Friendships that matter and stand the tests of life take time, investment, courage and truth.
2. Without truth, nothing grows.
3. Parting really is such sweet sorrow.
4. Unverbalized expectations leave everyone involved angry.
5. If we live out relationships with a sense of expectancy instead of expectation we are all blessed.
6. Going to the hard places to allow light to illuminate all the dark places is priceless.
7. Trust and confidentiality are essential and such an honor!
8. With vulnerability comes depth and friendship becomes something sacred.
9. Intimacy, connectivity and relational chemistry is rare but when experienced incredible.
10.Fun is not overrated.
11.This is what God intended.

5 Silly Summer Facts

A really special friend emailed me this tag message for 5 Silly Summer Facts, so here goes.

1. Favorite Summer Drink: either Mango tea at WaterStill (a local incredible water place) or a Vitamin Water.

2. Favorite Summer Color: White, Green, Pink

3. Favorite Summer Vacation: Beach

4. Favorite Summer Memory: Christmas, I grew up in South Africa...December is summer.

5.Favorite Summer Meal: Anything on the grill, potato salad, beans, corn on the cob, bread, fruit - yummo!

Now its your turn.......add your favorites.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

On A More Serious Note...

It has cracked me up that ever since I promised to write something funny I have had an absolute block. Nothing. Which goes to prove the point of the previous post....:-)

For those of you who know me, you already realize that this has led to hours of self reflection. Several months ago I was in a discussion with some friends that revealed things about myself that I did not know to be true. I have always viewed myself as a funny person. I am extroverted and usually a little inappropriate. I love people and laugh a lot. The logical conclusion in my head was that others would describe me as a fun person. However, I was asked to speak at an event and the organizer was a little concerned that I would not understand the light-hearted vibe of the evening. She was hesitant because I tend to be "heavy." Hmmmm...
I was really shocked by it and so was retelling the story to one of my elders over lunch one day and he cracked a huge smile. That led to more conversation in which he said that he would describe me as "intense." Now factor in the teasing over the snooze inducing blog post and my friend Jennifer telling me that I "ask questions with vigor" and you can see the self analysis crisis that is beginning to brew in my head.

How do people see me? Am I not fun? Am I too intense? Do I scare people? Do I drain them? Yikes.....I started thinking about my friends and the kind of people I am easily drawn to and yep, they tend to be the intense ones too. I started thinking about my favorite conversations and yep, they are the intense ones. I thought about the favorites parts of marriage, and yep one of them is the time we spend discussing the intense stuff. It seems to make sense that given the choice between hanging out with friends talking versus playing a card game, I will picking talking every time. It helps make sense of the fact that spending 2 hours in a movie theatre as a date holds little appeal to me versus conversation or something more engaging relationally. It makes sense that my favorite genre of TV is reality because I am so intrigued by the way the people behave and I can interact with it. It makes sense that being back in school has been my sanity because I can be as bookish or geeky as I need to be and it makes complete sense given the context.

And so I proudly declare today that I am fully embracing my intense self and am mourning the fictional version of myself that I thought was true. Seriously.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Snoozer Alert!

I was lovingly mocked today as a friend essentially told me that my blog has been a little too heavy and "snooze enducing" recently. In a follow up conversation one of the other friends, said it was okay because I am passionate about....EVERYTHING! Ha - I love it.

So, all I'm saying is I will try to lighten up for a day or two. Maybe.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Morality and the like

I have been engaged in a great conversation recently with a friend from long ago who holds some beliefs different to mine. One of the points of discussion is this:

Where does morality come from? Is it from God or is it an inner locale? Think about all those who claim Christ yet abuse their children or spouse. Think about all those who claim Christ and are being unfaithful in their marriage. Cheating. Lying. Stealing. Gossiping... But also think about all those who are actively choosing to live lives that testify to the cross. What about those who do not claim Christ that are risking their lives to serve humanity all over the planet. Think about those who do not claim Christ yet are great parents and partners. But also think about those who do not claim Christ and are living lives wrapped up in selfishness and sinfulness.

2 things:
Where does morality come from?
If I claim Christ does that equip, motivate, shape me to live in truer, more authentic, holy ways?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

South Africa, Ubuntu Theology, Tutu and Mandela

Many of you know that I am South African. Africa has a way of never letting one go. Talk to anyone who has been there. It almost haunts your soul - it is alive, eclectic, colorful, dramatic, hopeful and yet also devastated in some ways. Above all it is my home. What else matters, really? It is not uncommon for the average citizen of the world to look at Africa's politics and laugh - known for bribery, dictators and confusion it could be easy to miss something. South Africa has the fingerprints of Bishop Desmond Tutu all over it. It has the shadow of Nelson Mandela falling all around it. Can you imagine. Two of the great statesmen of the world. Nothing swells my heart quite so much as being able to talk with pride about the influence of two such leaders. Yet...

I am troubled right now. Violence has long been a part of life there. Yet, so has a wonderful life style. Political tension is just always at a simmer. Yet, so has been some of the most incredible reconciliation ever known to humanity. Poverty is around every corner. Yet, so is unbelievable wealth. People are dying of aids and other more preventable disease. Yet, research that is changing the world is also pouring out of South Africa. Some go hungry. Others enjoy some of the best culinary experiences on the planet. Contrasts. Disequilibrium. Hope and Fear coexist on a daily basis. I am most troubled currently by the attacks on immigrants that are pouring into South Africa from other troubled African countries. The random Zimbabwean street vendor that is trying to make a living is the new target. Refugees or immigrants seeking a better life have always been high risk, but this xenophobia has reached such epic proportions in South Africa that it is getting international attention.

And in my idealistic little world it should be different there. What about Ubuntu? This is a country that claims Ubuntu theolgoy. In trying to define Ubuntu, Bishop Desmond Tutu has said, “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.” It has roots in an old Zulu maxim “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” – a person is a person through other persons. In the African context it speaks to the idea that the person one is to become through divine design happens by behaving among others in worthy and respectful ways. Those who uphold these principles will in death also achieve unity with those still living. There is an inextricable bond between humanity, ancestors and the Supreme Being. Inseparable as Christianity and Ubuntu are it is impossible to miss how African ancestral influences and Eastern mysticism have shaped his theology.

At its very basic level, this African belief articulates a respect and compassion for others. It is both descriptive (being in community with others) and prescriptive (how to be in community with others). The term Ubuntu then functions as both a factual description and a rule of conduct or social ethic. It becomes very apparent that this theology sees community as an essential aspect to personhood. Grounded in the deep sense of community that is intrinsic to African life this is no surprise. Tutu is quoted as saying, “we can be human only in community, in koinonia, in peace.” He shows that human beings are defined not by their race but by their createdness in God’s own image. It is this that brings value and dignity to all people. Some have even used the word “humanness” to define Ubuntu. This is accurate but very different from what one may understand as Western Humanism. Where Humanism will deny or underestimate the importance of the “religious”, Ubuntu is wholly dependent on it. The spiritual can not be separated in life or death in the African experience.

As a social, political and religious ethic, consensus plays a central role in Ubuntu. Traditional African democracy is a system far different to Western Democracy. It often ignores Majority Rule in favor of the pursuit of reconciliation and consensus. It usually takes the form of lengthy discussions and meetings. Hours and hours of talking between community leaders is a prerequisite. Every person gets an equal chance to talk until some kind of agreement or consensus is reached. Western intervention to bring resolution to various issues in Africa has often disrupted this organic process and the results have been disastrous. The African term “simunye” translated as “we are one” or “unity is strength” can be found in the media, literature, and the common vernacular. While Bishop Tutu has frequently spoken out against the tyrannical rule and dictatorship of some African countries, it must be noted that within the framework of “consensus above all”, people can become exploited in order to enforce group solidarity. While Ubuntu seeks to always elevate human dignity, it has a potentially dark side in terms of its demands for conformity and loyalty to the group. I think understanding this gives the observer greater insight into the often misgoverned and mismanaged countries of the African continent.
In his role in the rebuilding of post-Apartheid South Africa, Bishop Tutu has modeled a version of Ubuntu that has authentic respect for human dignity and honest appreciation for diversity and difference. He is credited with giving the new South Africa the name “The Rainbow Nation.” Behind this term is the belief that individuals in their distinctiveness are regarded firstly because they reflect the image of the creator and secondly because dignifying humanity is essential for peace and thus when all the diverse peoples and their gifts come to the table, a rainbow is created. There can be harmony while respecting diversity.

If consensus is so paramount it may make one wonder how to reconcile this spirit with the very real violence that still plagues South Africa. I do not think Ubuntu will explain away all struggles. However, I think if one considers the unique manner in which South Africa transitioned from a country of Apartheid to multi-party democracy it is evident that something more than smart politics was at play. The emergence of solidarity and an ethos of reconciliation in the midst of the transition led to cohesive values in a country previously defined as splintered at best. Crime or violence aside, it is not hard to see examples of the spirit of consensus and mutual care as one studies how African families care for one another, how the poor are cared for by the poor, how older generations take seriously the teaching of younger generations.

Notwithstanding his previous accomplishments, it is in the very emerging of a new South Africa that Bishop Tutu’s impact has been most felt. Out of Ubuntu theology he held out the goal of consensus and reconciliation in order for the people of South Africa to heal and be more fully human. As Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission he convened the Commission into three sub categories in order to provide a traveling forum for people to tell their stories of human rights abuses during the Apartheid years. The commission’s intention above all was to grant amnesty for crimes perpetrated based on political actions during that time. Bishop Tutu did not want a war tribunal, but a forum for healing. In an article entitled, “Why to Forgive” he says, “forgiveness is not turning a blind eye to wrongs; true reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the pain, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring healing.” Stories were told of secret acts done by both the Apartheid government and liberation forces that resulted in abuses. No one was exempt. After a three year period, hundreds had been given amnesty, thousands of people had the opportunity to be heard, many families of victims and perpetrators forgave each other and a report was prepared. The extensive document was presented to the Government and in its final recommendations made motions for national apologies by previous Heads of State, for Memorials to victims, and very significantly and most human, for opportunities for history and the stories to be retold. In the midst of a very institutional structure, Bishop Tutu managed the process with heart and the human touch right up until the concluding pages of the Commission Report. In an interview about the process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Bishop Tutu is quoted as saying,
“I have come to realize the extraordinary capacity for evil that all of us have, because we have now heard the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and there have been revelations of horrendous atrocities that people have committed. Any and every one of us could have perpetrated those atrocities. The people who were perpetrators of the most gruesome things didn't have horns, didn't have tails. They were ordinary human beings like you and me. That's the one thing. Devastating! But the other, more exhilarating than anything that I have ever experienced -- and something I hadn't expected -- to discover that we have an extraordinary capacity for good. People who suffered untold misery, people who should have been riddled with bitterness, resentment and anger come to the Commission and exhibit an extraordinary magnanimity and nobility of spirit in their willingness to forgive, and to say, "Hah! Human beings actually are fundamentally good." Human beings are fundamentally good. The aberration, in fact, is the evil one, for God created us ultimately for God, for goodness, for laughter, for joy, for compassion, for caring.”

Nkosi Sikeleli-Afrika (God Bless Africa)!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What Does God Care About?

Do you ever wonder what God cares about. Often I hear people praying and thanking God for being in every small detail. Other times I hear people speaking of God like he is a vending machine - the great dispenser of goods. I have friends who pray for "the peace and love of God to cover people and situations" instead of specific requests. My Mother prayed for parking spaces and got them most of the time. People struggle with trying to discern the will of God on jobs, moves, mates, money etc and only take steps once they think God has spoken. I, on the other hand am more inclined to think that God's will for us is to be increasingly more like Him and I do not spend too much time trying to discern if I should turn left or right.

I know this is a larger discussion than we can have via blog comments - it is shaped by how you see you see the role of prayer....whether you are more contemplative than intercessory in your praying...discernment....providence - so many things.

What is your response?

Friday, May 16, 2008


My heart is turned to friendship currently. Sunday is the last day our current Worship Minister will lead worship and his family will move from Amarillo by the end of the month. His wife and I are super close and she is one of my closest friends ever. We are all thrilled for them because they are moving closer home and their precious girls can be closer to their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. They are also going to a church where Steven can use his guitar gifts and lead instrumental worship. You know that feeling of being so happy for someone and just so sad because of the loss all at the same time.

And it has me reflecting on friendship. My friend Scott sent me an article to read, actually a chapter of a book, a few months ago. It was talking about the spiritual aspects of friendship and the way we befriend others. I am intrigued by relationships and feel most alive in the midst of intimate relationships. All that to say I have been pondering these thoughts for a while and they are finally coming together.

Tonight we had a time of blessing and goodbye for Steven and Ange and as we all sat around and spoke words of affirmation and love to them I was struck by how powerful times like that are. As our preacher Dan spoke to Steven, he said that "Steven had the ability to make the people around him better." Dan was specifically referring to the fact that he feels like a better preacher because of the kind of worship minister Steven is. That is a powerful affirmation.

Ange I will miss hanging out with you. I love you. We have shared so much. You crack me up. You challenge me. You make me feel normal (hee hee). You're an angel!

How does friendship make you a better person?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Deep Thoughts at Starbucks

While having coffee at Starbucks today with my friend Matthew, he made a statement that resonated with me in such a powerful way that I wanted to share it. He said,

"while our culture is telling us to go and find ourselves, Christ calls us to lose ourselves in Him."

Think about that and really let it soak in.
What do you think?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Life and Times of Michaela Kasselman

No, I did not omit her middle name -- she does not have one. Nor do I.
May 1st 1996 I gave birth to Michaela. That makes her 12. Wow.

I thought I would tell you a little about her as a way of celebrating her life and the fact that I get to be her Mom. Wow again.

Michaela has a head of gorgeous dark brown wavy hair - it is just beautiful. It compliments her bright smile and lively eyes.
She has been blessed with a beautiful singing voice and enjoys being in choir at school and the Amarillo Youth Choir. She loves being on the junior praise team that leads worship for ABC Express (Kids church). Seeing her gifts used to the glory of God makes my heart feel so full.
She is smart, logical and analytical (yes, that is from her Dad).
She has great comedic timing for a child her age and routinely cracks us up.
She is a loyal and good friend. If you are her friend, you are her friend for life.
She struggles to get going in the morning, but manages to be on time for school everyday.
She is very comfortable with leaving her shoes next to her shoe rack instead of placing them on the rack, therein giving me something to remind her about.
With equal ease is the ability to accumulate random pieces of gum and candy in every purse she owns -- like a chipmunk storing things for the Winter.
Her clothes tend to gather around her chair in her room until the parentals suggest they get put up.
She is into no-fuss clothing. Shorts, T's, Jeans, hoodies, flip flops - she owns one skirt and 2 dresses.
She is a fun big sister to Spencer.

And some of her favorites are: Webkinz; Youtube; Drake and Josh; Wizards of Waverly Place; iCarly; The Books Pretties, Uglies etc; Harry Potter; American Idol especially DAVID COOK; Apples to Apples; Vitamin Water; Cinnamon Rolls; Becky's Cookies; Buffalo Wild Wings; Lettuce Wraps at Pei Wei; hanging out with friends; Ascension Academy; ACU Camps; Hidden Falls Camp; Music - lots of kinds; her phone; brownies; milk tart; poppyseed chicken -- oh lots of things.

Just a window into the world of my baby girl, oh, I mean 12 year old daughter.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Message of the Gospel?

It is not uncommon around church circles, for people to have various takes on "what is the gospel." We can all answer, Good News. But what does that mean? I believe, the gospel is this:
God, the creator, sent His son, Jesus, in the flesh to redeem humanity back to Himself through his death and resurrection in order for us to live in intimate community with Him.

I can nuance the phrases and add more meat to it, but bottom line, that is where I stand on the gospel. Incarnation. Redemption. Reconciliation.

But what about hope? You like me have heard the lessons and have taught them. So often I have thought "if only those people knew Christ, their life would be hopeful and fulfilled." Interesting. I am beginning to think that is not as true as I would like it to be. If knowing Christ brings fulfilled lives, then our churches would be full of people who would circle "fulfilled" on the great survey of life. And, the flip side is that non-believers would be desperate in their hopelessness and unfulfillment. Not exactly true. Take Oprah. She is intensely spiritual, not a Christian in my estimation, but a God lover for sure. Do you think she sees her life as hopeless and unfulfilled. What about Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters - none of them known Christians and none of them wailing in their own hopelessness or unfulfillment either. What about the guy across the road from me. Nice guy. Friendly. Kind. Non-Christian. Happy. Hopeful. Fulfilled.

Now it would be naive to believe this to be the case in every situation. The world is full of hopelessness and lack of fulfillment. But here is my point. I think if we are going to spread the good news about Christ, it needs to be about what life looks like with Christ. It needs to be about community, about serving something other than ourselves, about sacrifice, about joy and about the kind of hope that comes from Christ. We can not assume that all people who do not know Christ are unhappy, miserable, unfulfilled and hopeless. Many have dandy lives. Our job is to help them see that when our stories merge with the great story of God, something happens. Something bigger than ourselves, something transformational, something more than happiness.

You may agree or disagree. These are just my musings on a Monday morning. I just wonder if what we sometimes spread as good news, is underwhelming to people. If all we are promising is fulfillment and God as the ultimate vending machine, that may not be that attractive to a people who are already quite happy with life. However, if our good news calls them to something more in life, we may have some takers.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thanks for the Input...paper completed....i've been tagged

1. Thank you so much for the insights you shared on my last post.  For those who commented and emailed I appreciate it all!!!

2. I am breathing a little easier today as my final two assignments for the semester are now out of my hands and I can check that off the to-do-list.

3.  My friend Gena has tagged me.  I will answer those questions below.  
I have tagged several of you previously, so I am going to break the rules and just respond to being tagged but not tag anyone else...sorry Gena!

Here are 7 random facts about myself:
1. I am allergic to most dairy products and shellfish
2. I have ridden an ostrich, with help....
3.I am not an outdoorsy person...I am so afraid of bugs, grasshoppers especially, that it is no fun
4. I would buy a necklace over a pair of shoes any day
5. I believe that most of life is more tolerable with a cup of hot tea, British style, in one's hand
6. Just being close to the ocean lowers my anxiety theory is that if you are born by the ocean you long for it in a deeply spiritual way
7. I love organizing things: drawers, cabinets, closets, projects, etc.  It takes me to my happy place.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Blog Post 200! - Accountability groups

I am finishing up a paper and would like a little feedback if any of you readers have a moment.
If you have been in an accountability group or spiritual formation group, what size do you prefer? 2 or 3 or even 4 people?
Have you used specific questions when meeting, like renovare's or some other resource?
Do you meet weekly?
How has/did this experience shape you more into the image of Christ?
What are the landmines?
If you have not been in one is this by choosing or circumstance?

If you do not comment usually, would you mind doing it this time. Or, if you are not registered on blogger, would you mind doing that and just dropping me a comment? Thank you.
I really appreciate this!!!!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

King of Kings and Lord of Lords

Someone is always telling you to go and listen to a sermon online and you may think about it and never do it, or you may think the suggestion is ludicrous to begin with.

However, indulge me. If you have 25 minutes or so go to and listen to Dan Bouchelle's sermon from today, April 6th. I think the title is "Take me to your leader." It may only be up there tomorrow, I am not sure. Either way do it.

During times like these when politics feels like it is going to choke the life out of us, Dan brings a word from God that is convicting, uplifting, prophetic and hard.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What are you listening to?

Every now and again I like to hear what you are listening to. Some of my favorites currently are: (now that doesn't mean they are all current)

These Hard Times (Matchbox 20)
Billie Jean (David Cook)
Won't Go Home Without You (Maroon 5)
When You Look Me in the Eyes (Jonas Brothers...I know :-))
Feels like Tonight (Daughtry)
New Soul (Yael Naim)
Unwritten (Natasha Beddingfield)

Monday, March 24, 2008


I have tried to blog several times about my Come Before Winter renewal experience, and then about Easter, and The Shack, but I just don't have the words.
A friend asked me today about blogging about the Canada renewal and I said that I can't seem to find the words (which for those who know me, is funny, right). His response was spot on and I quote, "Transcendent events are hard to describe." That is it. Exactly. For all of the above.

I had such great expectations for our renewal and the women who would be attending. By the time they arrived at the site, I was almost beside myself. And God did the most amazing things. Life, truth, blessing, confession, sharing, laughing, love - it all happened in abundance. All expectations were shattered in amazing ways. Then when I arrived home, I realized that I did not have a way to share how I was feeling about the renewal. It felt so disorienting to have this experience that I could not translate into my regular life. Words just wouldn't do it justice. So, I think I have a treasure in my heart and in some strange way it seems most appropriate to leave it right there.

As for The Shack. Just go ahead and read it. You will be blown away and nothing I can write will make it more impactful. Now, do not think it is the final theological word on suffering or trinity - this is a novel. However, open yourself to the metaphor and allow God to speak to you and give you insights through it. What a blessing.

And then there is Easter. Reorientation. Nothing brings you back to center quite like the story of Jesus. Once again, a recurring theme here, my words are inadequate. Go to and listen to Dan's sermon from yesterday. God poured through him in incredible ways yesterday.
I am reminded of the hymn that says,
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell
The guilty pair, bowed down with care
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin
Could we with ink the ocean fil
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angels' song

I am praying for more opportunities with Come Before Winter and feel like God has led me to a ministry where my gifts are well suited and where I can grow and stretch in new ways also. Seeing the impact on these women who will impact their husbands, their children, their churches, their ministries, their world. It is such an incredible blessing.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I leave tomorrow for Canada to serve on a Come before Winter renewal. I can not believe it is here.
If you read this blog and think about it over the next 10 days please can I ask you to pray over this renewal retreat for us.
Pray for hearts that are open to receive.
Pray for a refreshing time for all who attend.
Pray for God to show up in ways that minister directly into the hearts of these women.
Pray for my family while I am gone and join me in giving thanks for a husband who cares so deeply about my ministry passion and calling, that he will do double duty in the parenting dept.

I am not taking my computer, eek...can I survive??? I will share this experience when I return.

This 'n That

1. I have a post brewing on the book , The Shack. What an incredible read. I have been so moved and engaged by this book. Let me say it one more time, incredible!

2. Are conservative talk radio hosts really trying to get Republicans to vote for Hilary
in an attempt to set up the race to be Hilary/McCain because McCain has a better chance of winning against her than Obama.
Don't even get me started......

3. I feel so blessed to have spent time with good friends this week, kinda' getting my fill before I leave town for 10 days.....a warm fire and coffee with Cathy Burns, breakfast with Missy and Ange, Lunch and laughs with Allyson, lunch and sharing with Karen, extended coffee and heart conversation with Adam, lunch with Michelle, wedding talk with Bek, getting to hold Cassie's baby Matthew and see Mandie's delightfully alive eyes, laughing that Ange is now an old woman in old woman Jeans, finally giving Missy her birthday present 2 months late. Wow - I pinch myself and say is this my life.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Happy Anniversary to Us!

22 years today. Wow. I can hardly get my mind around that.
So in the spirit of being married 22 years on the 22nd of 02 (Feb) let me list 22 reasons being married to David is just a celebration!

1.He's pretty cute....especially with that salt and pepper hair thing going
2.He's smart
3.And quirky enough that I feel like I have company
4.He is responsible
5.And always looking out for the best for the kids and I
6.He makes a mean cup of tea and we always have 10 o'clock tea at night
7.He enjoys an adventure
8.Loves to travel
9.He'll eat anything
10.But appreciates good food
11.And will watch Food Network with me
12.He does special things for me like putting candles around the bath, leaving me love notes under the pillow etc
13.He is a practical joker - can't count the number of plastic bugs that I have found in my bed
14.He is far from a giggler, but when we laughs it makes you laugh too
15.He is thoughtful
19.And has one of the highest work ethics of anyone I know
20.His integrity is beyond question
21.He is still on the journey and a life learner with the sole purpose of being more like Jesus
22.And you know what comes here - but to prevent blog spam I will omit the word!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Spencer

What a blessing Spencer has been to our lives! I can barely believe he is 7 today. He is a unique mix of tender heart and hilarious antics. He is crazy about Star Wars right now. He thinks his sister hung the moon. Frequently we find him hamming it up in front of the mirror.
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Monday, February 11, 2008

An enemy of the cross

I have just had the huge joy of spending the weekend at the pretreat for my Come before Winter trip to Canada in March. We spent time in worship, prayer and study. As we read Phillippians over and over again, I feel like the phrase "enemy of the cross" just kept resonating with me.

I think it is too easy for us to think of those who do not follow Christ as "enemies of the cross" but I don't think that is what Paul is getting at here. Read the letter again and ask questions of the text.

Is it perhaps a little more like this....
when we don't submit ourselves to the way of the cross;
when we don't get along;
when we are not prepared to empty ourselves of our rights for the sake of others;
when we are so wrapped up in the stuff of image, possessions or status...

then we are the enemy of the cross.

It has me thinking about living in such a way that my life is a witness to the cross not an enemy of it.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Today in worship our Worship Minister Steven, shared a little about how easily we get distracted. He chose to do this based on a situation that had happened just a few minutes earlier and was not part of his plan for the day. However, it tied in so well to the sermon that came later about hearing the small, still voice of God and choosing to obey and not be distracted, that I keep mulling it over.

I have always thought the real issue at play with Mary and Martha, was not the active versus contemplative personalities, but rather Martha's inability to focus on Jesus without the distraction of the preparations.

Distractions I believe, are perhaps the greatest hurdle to me spending quality time with God as regularly as He would like.

Friday, February 01, 2008


My blog friend Preacherman had a similar post to this on his blog this week. It made me think. I have changed it up a bit, so I invite your responses.

If you could change one thing about yourself what would that be? But because of all the jokers in my world, let me ask you not to include nose jobs, liposuction etc. I mean something real :-)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

To be named or to self-claim?

Dan preached another incredible sermon on Sunday. I am still mulling it over. You know the message is great when it keeps coming back and God speaks through it.
He preached from the Genesis texts covering the Tower of Babel and the Call of Abram. One may wonder where the connection point is. He did a great job of contrasting the people building the Tower of Babel, so eager to make a name for themselves, versus Abram who is promised a name and future by God.

Dan threw out some current scenarios where we are so busy making names for ourselves, building our towers, managing our images, our futures, our legacies, our financial security......
Something resonated with me in the deepest part of my heart. These are the questions that it is surfacing in me....
How am I living in such a way that I am concerned about building my tower?
Do I believe God? Not in God, just do I believe God?
In what ways is my language indicative of someone who is overly concerned about reputation, legacy, perception etc etc...
Is the promise and reality of being God's child enough or do I still need to secure my position?
Do earthly things give me identity?
Does the church exist as a tower of safety and ministry for its members or do we join God in His work in the world outside of our churches?


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places

Eugene Peterson has a series of 5 books, 2 still unpublished and 3 done. One of which I have already blogged about, Eat This Book. Currently, I am reading Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places. Eugene Peterson has been a longtime favorite of mine. I remember being blown away by Working the Angles back in the early 90's. I still gain fresh insight into scripture from his translation of the Bible, The Message.

Hear this from the introduction.
"The two terms "spiritual" and "theology," keep good company with one another. "Theology" is the attention that we give to God, the effort we give to knowing God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures and in Jesus Christ. "Spiritual" is the insistence that everything that God reveals of himself and his works is capable of being lived by ordinary men and women in their homes and workplaces. "Spiritual" keeps "theology" from degenerating into merely thinking and talking and writing about God at a distance. "Theology" keeps "spiritual" from becoming merely thinking and talking and writing about the feelings and thoughts one has about God. The two words need each other, for we know how easy it is for us to let our study of God (theology) get separated from the way we live; we also know how easy it is to let our desires to live whole and satisfying lives (spiritual lives) get disconnected from who God actually is and the ways he works among us.
Spiritual theology is the attention we give to lived theology - prayed and lived, for if it is not prayed sooner or later it will not be lived from the inside out and in continuity with the Lord of life. Spiritual theology is the attention that we give to living what we know and believe about God. It is the thoughtful and obedient cultivation of life as worship on our knees before God the Father, of life as sacrifice on our feet following God the Son, and of life as love embracing and being embraced by the community of God the Spirit."

Wow, I wish we could hang out at Starbucks for a while and talk about this. Doesn't it make you want to read this book!

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Rule of Life

One of the course requirements for the Christian Spiritual Formation class that I just took was to write a Rule of Life. I loved the assignment. It helped me formulate much of my thinking and really hold up a covenant to God about who I want to be for His glory.

More impactful than I ever would have dreamed, was the time we spent sharing these. Somehow real intimacy developed in a bland classroom with 30+ people sitting in a circle. Unreal. As each person took a turn in popcorn fashion to share their rule, they really shared their heart. Tears began to flow, ministry happened, connections were deepened. It was spectacular. One of our classmates, Chris Chappotin wrote and sang a song as his rule. Some read prose. Others had written prayers.

This is what I wrote.
DISCLAIMER - This is who I want to be...not who I am all the time.

My Rule of Life is based on my favorite quote by Henry Ward Beecher, “It is not well for a man to pray cream and live skim milk.” The underlying principle in how I practice my faith journey is fullness and abundance. As I reflect on the different areas that are significant to me, they are stacked like building blocks. Individually these are all great things, but when they flow out of an intimate relationship with God born out of communion and worship they become sacred.

I desire to be a fully formed disciple of Christ in Spiritual Disciplines.
In my relationship with God I acknowledge that He is already present and I invite him to invade my life and space everyday. That invitation is extended through me being available in prayer, meditation, silence and service. Daily prayer for me is comprised of several different types of prayer usually all in an ongoing conversational style: The centering prayer when I feel myself getting out of control; Lifting up prayer requests on behalf of people and situations; Praying a verse or phrase when it enters my mind. Even though I know I need to develop the contemplative side of my prayer life more, I have found taking time once a week for meditative, contemplative prayer fits the rhythm of my life better than trying to do it on a daily basis.

I desire to be a fully formed disciple of Christ in how I respond to the Spirit.
In my relationship with the Holy Spirit I acknowledge that my heart and my intellect are best led when I am actively communing with the Father. Out of a life connected to God I will seek to respond to the promptings of the Spirit that lead me to serve, pray for, seek out, surprise and encourage others.
Also out of a rich inner life, I acknowledge that the Holy Spirit can change my heart, my will, my desires and the fruit that my life produces. Instead of trying harder, relying on will power or even Spiritual Mountain top experiences I seek the real transforming power of the Spirits work on my life.

I desire to be a fully formed disciple of Christ in how I see my neighbor.
In my relationships with the people my life touches I acknowledge that I am a more useful tool for God when I am communing with Him and in tune with the Spirit. When I am aware of the role God wants me to play in any given person’s life it is a more fulfilling and rich experience. My life is full of different types of relationships and they all need something slightly different.
As a wife I want the Fruit of the Spirit to define all my actions, attitudes and behaviors.
As a mother I seek to point my children to Jesus and provide ways for them to enter a real relationship with Him.
As a friend I seek to always live in the truest form of community.
As a minister my goal is to see others move from believer to disciple.
As a resident of Amarillo I seek to see the hurting in my city and do what I can where I am.
As a member of the global community I want to live in such a way that I am making a difference in the world for those who suffer the most.

I desire to be a fully formed disciple of Christ with my resources.
Extravagant Generosity – this is the legacy handed down to me from my Mother and I seek to continue living in such a way.
Faithful Stewardship – taking seriously the commitment to tithe my income and give over and above to other causes.
Hospitality - to family, friends, church members and strangers. We acknowledge the blessing of our home and all our possessions and seek to use what we have as a way of blessing others. I desire to have people feel loved and honored when they leave our home.
Conserving – by recycling and limiting waste we are trying to honor creation.

Have you done one of these? Share your thoughts?