Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Searching for God

In case you’re looking for God, here’s a heads up that He’s been spotted in a spud, baking pan and fish stick.

Why I’m mad at Erwin McManus

McManus'  latest book, “Wide Awake,” hit shelves earlier this month to much anticipation. His earlier books sketched an image of Christianity that was wild and adventurous - certainly not the tame, mundane facsimile it has become. His latest book promised to challenge believers to embrace the idea that our futures, our potentials, already laid dormant within us just waiting to burst forth into a myriad of colors, sounds and experiences.

I threw the book on the floor after chapter 1. 

McManus begins his book talking about why we need to chase after our dreams, boiling the idea down to this central theme: the world needs us to fulfill the potential God placed within us. If all of humanity lived like we were created to live, then many of society’s ills and the world’s plights could be solved. What frustrates me is that I don’t have a dream to chase. I feel like McManus is encouraging us to throw off all inhibition to chase after our futures, and I’m standing at the start line trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be running toward. I have my running shoes on, just no path to follow. 

I want to chase a dream. I want to think there’s more to this life than a 8.5 hr. job consumed with answering emails and filing papers. I want to think there’s adventure awaiting me around the bend - but there’s no trail in front of me, let alone a bend. I want to think that when it’s all said and done, I can leave this planet satisfied that I’ve impacted at least one life. Maybe even have improved the world a bit through my existence. 

It’s a defeating moment to see others strapping on their shoes in preparation to run off into the horizon when I have yet to figure out where I’m going.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Slow Build Up

I’m going to steal from a great man’s blog, but at least I’m confessing it up front. Johnathan Acuff crafted a blog post about how temptations don’t swoop in and bang you over the head; they creep in like a slowly rising river. He says it better though …

"On the evening of January 31, 1953, a father and his 9-year-old son were walking along a large dyke. The father noticed that the water was higher than it should have been. With a watch and a worrisome look he took a rough measure of how high the water would be soon.

In a controlled panic, he and his son woke up the mayor of the small town. They woke up the town council and for hours discussed what they should do. Ultimately the council decided that they should not ring the church bell and wake up the town because nothing serious would happen. The reason they believed everything would be OK was that the dyke had never failed before. Their town had always been safe and so they trusted that what had never happened would not ever happen.

The next morning, the father and son started searching for survivors among the more than 1,800 dead.

Chances are, you and I will never feel the rush of water as a damn breaks and a town disappears. But in many ways, we all know what it’s like to stand on top of a wall as the water slowly rises. To see the warning signs in our life and know that perhaps someone should be warned.

Maybe it’s slow, the daily build up of rain washing against your walls. Maybe it’s unexpected, a storm colliding against you with waves and water you never dreamed could be so deep. But in that moment when you stand on the top of your damn and can see the water rising, don’t try to go it alone. Reach out to a friend. Wake up your neighbors. Ring the church bell.

Because in this damn life, it’s just so easy for never to turn into first time ever."

So how are the dams in your life?

A world where everyone matters

I just finished reading a book (“The Red Letters”) that challenges believers to intentionally focus our lives on ministering to and helping those around us. The author has a particular fondness for any ministry that seeks to alleviate the suffering of AIDS patients and AIDS orphans in Africa. I was challenged to realize that I’ve become too entombed in my own world to even pause when I read horrific stories of suffering, genocide, starvation, or violence. I’m so used to reading about the Darfur crisis, the unrest in Palestine, bombings in Afghanistan, earthquakes in the Pacific Rim and AIDS in Africa that I barely scan newspaper headlines before turning the page. But I don’t want to be that person.

I want to be someone who sees that my little life in Virginia can impact the life of a child in India. That I don’t have to be Ghandi, Billy Graham or Mother Theresa to help someone. And distance isn’t an excuse. Plenty of organizations are working in countries that I may never visit, and they need my support.

But the worldwide concern goes beyond a desire to do good and help others. It’s rooted in the knowledge that if I truly believe all people are created in God’s image, then all people are worthy of dignity, justice and compassion. Everyone. Even Bin Laden.

Today, I read a heart-wrenching story from Italy. Two Roma girls drowned near a beach, were pulled on shore and covered with towels until emergency personnel could arrive. Meanwhile, beachgoers continued to eat, mingle and sunbathe within feet of the girls’ corpses. I’m tempted to be outraged at their complacency, but to accuse them would be to condemn myself, too.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Heidi Goes to the Groomer



My favorite detail is the lion-like tuft at the end of her tail. I know, I know. I need a hobby.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Motown Philly

Mike and I had a few extra days off from work for the Fourth of July, so we headed north to Philadelphia. The first afternoon we toured Independence Hall and enjoyed a Phillies baseball game. Saturday we toured the city and got to see some interesting sites - including a house that was used in the movie The Sixth Sense. We also caught a Boys II Men concert and fireworks show. Sadly, I have to say that I left the city not really feeling the Brotherly Love. Nothing specific happened ... except the constant club thumping we could hear from our room from midnight until 4 am each night ... but I never did feel a connection to the city. Sorry if that offends any Philly lovers :) I did like their cheese steak subs!

Mike in the room where the founding fathers signed the Constitution.

At the Phillies game.

Near the Rocky statue at the art museum.

Can you see the head of one of the Boys II Men singers? Hint: it's illuminated.

Pretty fireworks!