Saturday, January 31, 2009

Out of My Bondage

Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy blessèd will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy throne,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

-William T. Sleeper

Friday, January 30, 2009


I read several blogs on a regular basis. I have a list on the right-hand side of my own blog. One of the sites that I visit regularly is Desiring God. It is "God-centered resources from the ministry of John Piper." John Piper is the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He wrote of my favorite books (and one that I am re-reading this year) called "Desiring God." Great book.

John Piper adheres closely to the mindset of John Calvin. You can read about John Calvin here. Calvin believed the following:

Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)

These five categories do not comprise Calvinism in totality. They simply represent some of its main points. You can read more about Calvinism here. I personally believe that Mr. Calvin would roll over in his grave of he knew that people called themselves "Calvinist," but that is just me.

My original point was this, I was reading the DG blog this morning and on the left-hand side there is a list of articles from the blog that the author calls "Best of DG blog." I was intrigued by the title of one of the articles; "Be a kinder Calvinist." As someone who also considers themselves to be of John Calvin's mindset, I was a little more than interested. The article was written in in response to this letter.

Basically, the writer of the letter is unsure of how to deal with some members of his congregation who are what he calls "hyper-Calvinists." He goes on to describe this particular group as "very vocal and self-righteous." He doesn't understand why a) they cannot agree to disagree, b) why it isn't good enough to be a solid evangelical who really loves Jesus and wants to serve him, and c) why the tool that he had leaned on for so many years in youth ministry, namely loving relationships, failed him.

I can totally understand where this pastor is coming from. I have been in situations where legalism and an air of self-righteousness were extremely prevalent. As someone who grew up in the "Reformed Faith", I see the (and totally had the same mindset) this condescending, self-righteous act. On the other hand, since I believe, as John Calvin did, that a) I have nothing to do with my salvation, b) nothing I do will ever warrant the grace and mercy of God, and c) that God, in His sovereignty and infinite wisdom and mercy, chose me before the beginning of time to be a part of His family, where the heck do I get off thinking that I am better than anyone else? As I have matured in my faith, I now see Christ and His work on the cross as an extremely humbling thought/act on my part. I need Christ just as much as anyone else. Being a child of God is my saving grace but does not negate my need for Him. Yes, my sins have been forgiven, but I continue to fall short of His glory. How is this any different than anyone else?

As a Young Life leader, I have come to a much better understanding of the simplicity of the Gospel message. Inasmuch as I recognize and believe the "Five Points of Calvinism" and believe it because of scriptural support, I am convinced that "reformed theology is a good trip, but remember, it is a means to the end, not the end itself." (Thank you, Micah, for that little quote.)

Through Young Life, I have become convicted of the power of Christ and his message alone. When I am sharing the message of the Gospel with these kids, it has little to do with theology. It has everything to do with His love and the power of His dying on the cross for our sins. How do you talk with anyone about the person of Christ if you do not first have a personal relationship with them and how do you get to a point where you can talk about theology with anyone unless they first know the person of Christ?

I am not opposed to theology or the discussion of theology at all. We choose which church or denomination we are going to be a part of based on the theology embraced by any one congregation. I hold very dear my own theology. I chose my church because of the doctrine upon which it stands. My problem with theology is when it gets in the way of sharing the Gospel message. My problem is when we lord our theology over others in order to feel better about ourselves, prove a point, or make ourselves look better than everyone else. That is when it becomes a hindrance rather than a way to better explain or understand God's word. Being "reformed", or a "Calvinist", or an "Arminan" does not pave the way to heaven for any of us.

I will leave you with this last thought from my good friend, Micah:

"There are far too many pastors and congregants, in all faith traditions, who are more interested in dogma than the Gospel. A lot of us have opinions about doctrinal things (e.g. infant baptism, predestination, eschatology), but realize that they aren't determining factors for or against salvation. That said, I knew plenty of students at ******* (and even two or three at **) that truly believed they, in their infinite wisdom, had figured out the entirety of the Bible based on their reading of Luther, Calvin, and Rushdoony. You could not have a discussion with these kids, because there was nothing to discuss. It's the same with evangelical fundamentalists. Every issue is cut and dry. There is no room for interpretation or a viewpoint that does not match their's (or Bill Gothard's/James Dobson's/John Hagee's) exactly. In both cases, the very thing that unites believers (the saving work of Christ) is thrown out the window in order to feel smarter or better than someone else who just doesn't understand the Bible/Catechism/Westminster Confession. Crazy."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Reader

Yes. I go to the movies a lot. I tend to hit them when they go to the Dollar Theater in order to save myself a buck...or nine.

I realize that movies go through cycles, much like fashion and music. However, what the heck is up with all of these Nazi/Germany movies? I will say that I appreciate the fact that none of these movies have been the same. The stories have varied and have been told from different view points. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Valkyrie, The Reader, Defiance. All of these have to do with WW2. Each has a discovery about the horrors of war and the holocaust (although, I have not seen Defiance, so I cannot really speak for it's plot line).

"Boy" deals with WW2 from a German child's perspective and a Jewish child's perspective. You are allowed to see both sides, adult and child, Jewish and German. Valkyrie shows the war from a German perspective, yet it is from a German who saw through Hitler's ugliness. The Reader shows the aftermath of the war from the perspective of a German to whom being an S.S. officer was merely a job. It shows the importance of education and literacy and how a lack of these can influence and hinder. It gives a vivid depiction of pride and how dangerous it can be. This film also embraces the issue of love and how when love is marred, betrayed, and forsaken, a person can be forever scarred.

Overall, I was intrigued by this movie. I do not understand why Kate Winslet was nominated for Best Supporting Actress when she is the only female actress with any significant role. She was fantastic. This film is definitely not for everyone. I wouldn't take the kiddos. I do think that the ending provides questions that are good for all of us to ponder and recommend it to anyone who likes a good "thinking" film.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire.

I would like to thank the movie making gods for coming up with something that we haven't seen in awhile. While the underdog theme of the movie is far from new, the setting, cinematography, and sub-plots were refreshing to this movie-goer's weary eyes.

While I am not sure that the slums of India are quite as colorful and bright as portrayed in this film, I still feel that directors Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan did a brilliant job of showing a life different that what we know here in the United States.

It has taken me awhile to think about this film and what I actually took away from it. The themes are somewhat obvious to me. Family (and what that word really means), true love, honesty, hope, loyalty, and there is an almost "Robin Hood" theme going on. The idea of stealing to survive. It smudges the lines of right and wrong, black and white, and gives the idea of gray areas something to stand on.

I really loved this film, although there were moments towards the end where I felt that the movie could have ended several times. I, personally, do not enjoy that feeling when watching a movie.

Perhaps it is me being uneducated in regards to India, but I felt that this film showed me a side of that country that I had not thought of or even realized that it existed. I feel good about suggesting this film to older audiences. I would not suggest taking the youngers.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This week I learned...

  1. I needed to cry.
  2. Hindsight is 20/20.
  3. Athens is a beautiful city,
  4. Hugs from Mom are still pretty much the most comforting thing ever...even at 20.
  5. Good friends are worth super short trips.
  6. I have a lot of people who care a great deal about me.
  7. Lunch at SHS was good for me and the kids.
  8. I over-commit at times.
  9. Love does not go away.
  10. I sleep on the couch when I am upset.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Parking Garage Justice

It was a cool, brisk, Athens night. Life was good. The mood was light. Laughter was in the air. Family and friends were together after a time apart from one another. Spirits were high. Parking was not easy to find, but the parking Queen found her way into a spot marked "small vehicles." Perfect. (**SIDE NOTE: The spot next to the Parking Queen's was also for small vehicles.)

On to dinner down the block. About an hour and a half later, back out at the car and the group realizes that we can not get into the car. The car parked next to ours is a jeep and far too large to be considered a small vehicle. There is no way that we can get in. The next thing we know, Sally (A.K.A. Parking Queen) has a pad of paper out. The note reads as follows:

You are parked in a spot marked "Small Vehicles." If I ever see you parked like this again, I will have you towed. I have taken down your license plate number.

Someone who parks responsibly.

This is not verbatim, but close enough. Sally was not a happy camper. We were all laughing, but she was not. Brad was impressed and kept saying "That's my lady." Yeah...

So beware. The Parking Queen will have justice.

Surls: 6.2008-1.26.2009

In the midst of the commenting frenzy on my post a couple of days ago, my friend, Tricia, told me to write my next post about puppies and take it down a notch. She was totally kidding and definitely did not mean for it to happen this way, but here goes.

If you read this blog on a regular basis or know me at all, you have probably heard me talk about Surls, my dog. Surls was abandoned in Flat Rock Park this past summer and I adopted him. God, in His perfect timing and extreme graciousness, dropped this sweet pup in my lap at just the right moment. This past summer was not my shining moment in the story of life. I was pretty lonely and my job was not exactly great. Surls was my little buddy. Always glad to see me. Always ready to love on me. My little shadow. I loved every minute with him. As he got older he also got bigger. He got to be a little much for my tiny apartment and Surls moved to my parents house. My parents live on five acres of land and also have a dog. Plenty of room to roam and a buddy on top of that. Dog heaven right in Upatoi. Every plan since I got Surls has included him. A house with a yard. What happens if and when I move.

I got off of work this afternoon and was on my way to pick up my bosses son, Max, when my mom called. She told me she had to tell me something. Surls had been hit by a car and died this afternoon. I hurried to get Max and then headed out to my parents. Me, Dad, Jess and Ben buried Surls in our little pet cemetery on the tree line.

I am not one of those fanatic pet owners. I don't do silly things for my dog like monogram jackets, bowls, and blankets. Nor do I put them on crazy organic diets, only give them bottled water, and feed them blueberries as snacks. But I did love Surls. A lot. He was my buddy when I was lonely and even when I wasn't. He was a sweet dog and I am going to miss him.

And now for something completely different...

After a crazy week, I decided to head up to Athens, Georgia to see my good friends, Brad and Sally Baker, and help them move into their new home. Brad accepted a job as Youth Minister at St. James UMC. I, along with Brad and Sally, am truly amazed at the outpouring of love from this church family. They have provided more than any of us could have ever imagined. It's good to know my adopted brother and sister are going to be taken care of in such a luscious (that was for you, Molly) manner.

Colt and I drove up Saturday afternoon and arrived in Athens around five or so. We were immediately put to work. After working hard for a few hours, the group ventured downtown for dinner. We ate at a great little sandwich place called "Which Wich." Super yummy and it provided great fellowship time for our little group.

After dinner, we headed back home where the boys put together an island for the kitchen and the girls worked on looking for places to hang pictures. No one lasted very long before bed started to sound really good. We were not lacking for room or places to sleep. This house is pretty big. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and so much closet space. Hardwood floors all through the house. A living room and a dining room. A pretty big kitchen. It has a big back yard and front yard. Brad loves yard work, especially raking apparently, so there is no need for anyone to volunteer to do it for him. He is really excited.

Sunday morning included Dunkin' Donuts (also known as Dunkin' D's by Sally), coffee, and some quiet time in which Alex talked about baseball the whole time. All of this was intermixed with showers by all six of us which resulted in icy cold showers for Sally and Theresa. No worries, though. It's good preparation for Sharptop Cove in two weeks. Showers tend to be a little chilly there too. Brad and Alex went and checked out the hot water heater AFTER I shrieked a little from the shock of the cold. Thanks, guys.

St. James is two lots over from Brad and Sally's, so we walked to church (much like the Amish or Hisidic(sp?) Jews), which was pretty nice. My sweet friend, Kathryn Garvin, met us for worship and it was great to see her and introduce her to some of my other sweet friends. After lunch we headed to a Hibachi Express type place that I cannot for the life of me remember the name of. However, Colt says it is one of the reasons he moved to Athens, but I didn't think it was that awesome. Good, but not awesome. Just sayin'...

The rest of our trip included a trip to a pretty amazing T.J. Maxx, a small tour of UGA campus, and Colt showing Kathryn and I were he used to live. We headed back to the house, picked up Molly and Alex, and the four of us headed back to Columbus. The trip back took for-ev-er. Traffic was bad right before we hit Newnan. Of course, this happened right after Colt asked me if we should stop for a bathroom break and I realized that I really needed to go. However, let me just say that as much as I hate being stuck in traffic, I will admit that you see some pretty interesting stuff. We saw a rock-climbing wall on a trailor behind a truck, a parrot, and a guy who got out of the truck and sat in the back to smoke a ciggerate while we were stopped.

I have to say, I thought I did a pretty good job playing "phat tunes" on the home. Once Colt told me I had to play some upbeat stuff to keep him awake, I thought did a pretty good job of playing deejay.

Thanks to Brad and Sally for continuing to make life interesting for the rest of us. I vote that this getting married/moving thing happen more often.

Fun quotes from the weekend:

  • "Dwan! I didn't know you come here..."
  • "I will cut you."
  • "I'm a tree hugger; email me."
  • "I keep breebin', I keep, keep breebin your brub..."
  • "Wait...what?"
  • "Please! We'll fix it! Just don't quit!"
  • "Want to stop and get a bench? Ya know, not a bench, but a bench."
  • "Carol's fruit stand is in a much better location."
  • "Cheese dip and Mexican rice!"
  • "Lucious."
  • "Phat tunes."
  • "Whatev, dude."
The majority of these were provided by Molly and Alex Baker.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Where to start?

Maybe I should start with an apology. My comment in response to the anonymous comment in regards to this post was probably uncalled for. I was assuming that I knew (or had a pretty good idea) of who was posting. Regardless, my comment about the "ignorance of the American people" was out of line. So, I am sorry.

Next, I want to address a comment that my friend, Kim, left. Since she left it in a public comment, I am going to share parts of it here. (Hope that's ok, Kimmy.)
Of course I obviously agree with everything you wrote in this blog... I saw the link to this on Facebook and read the many comments that followed, and I see why people get frustrated on both sides of the fence. If you haven't doubted the system, then why do you write that we weren't living to our full potential? It takes educate oneself so that a thorough opinion can be formed, and I personally understand having conflicting opinions. But if you aren't careful, it can also lead to people thinking that you say some things to one group of people, and other things to another group of people, which could ultimately lead to no one believing what you say.

Let me start with the system. The system obviously works. The system, in and of itself, is a good one. No one really contests it and if they do then there is a whole lot of debate and discussion over the changing of the Constitution (A.k.a. the system). Even after the debates, it takes a lot to change it. So, the system works. Every four years we campaign and elect new (or keep the current) leaders. Congress and the Senate change out on a regular basis. Each time that these changes occur, it is the American people that make the decision about the change. I can write on this blog without the government shutting me down. I can practice the religion that I choose. I can have a gun and vote. All of this exists because of the system. It works. I do not doubt the system.

When I "we", I mean We the people of the United States of America. I mean, human beings. Our constitution says that we believe that all men were created equal. Yet, segregation was a way of life here, in the U.S.. And until now, a black president was out of the question. When I said that we were not living up to our full potential, I mean that as a people we were not living up to our creed. Our motto. Our full potential as the greatest nation in the world. If we really are that, then everyone really gets a chance to be whatever they want to be. If we really are the greatest nation in the world, that means that the American dream is available to men and women, boys and girls, no matter your race, religion, or political views. Our founding fathers came here to be free to live the way they thought was best for them. Heard the term "Melting Pot" in regards to America? Yeah. That is referring to the fact that we are peoples from all over the place. We are all here for the same reason in the end. Freedom. The fact that it is better here. The people have a voice and the freedom to live how they like, within reason and by the law. That is what I mean by "not living up to our full potential." And people all over the world fail at that everyday. Not just Americans. Not just specific types of Americans. All of us.

I hope that clears up those comments for everyone. I know there were folks other than Kim that were curious. I openly admit that I am still figuring things out. I will always strive to admit when I am wrong and stand by what I know to be right.

My objective in my post on 1.20.09 was to comment on the history of the day. While I do not agree with President Obama on everything, because he is our President I will give the respect due to him as Commander in Chief.

It has also been brought to my attention that I seem to walk the line or play both sides of the fence when it comes to politics, both here on my blog and in person. I am going to clear this up once and for all, I hope. I am a conservative. More so than I thought before. While I admit that I am a conservative, I refuse to fall in the extremist trap. I will not nit-pick and criticize every word or action coming from someone that I don't see eye to eye with. I refuse to be ugly to people with whom I do not agree. I refuse to be that person who is unwilling to love others because we don't agree on religion, politics, or anything else. I refuse to cast judgment on others based on anything. That is not my place. That is not what I (or anyone else for that matter) was called to do. I was called to love others as Christ loved us. I refuse to be unwilling to work with others, debate or discuss with others, or hate because we do not agree on politics or anything else. That being said, just because I did not vote for "your guy" or the other side does not mean that I can't have a positive outlook on the future. It does not mean that I can't be just as excited about the future as those whose guy "won." This isn't about sides. It's not about black or white, republican or democrat. This is about the United States of America. This is about democracy. In the end, we all win because no matter who is in office, the people placed him there. And above all of that, God placed him/her in office.

I am still in a figuring out stage in my life and I hope that I never lose that sense of curiosity. I fully admit that I do not have all the answers. I will always admit when I am wrong, when I change my mind, and I will stand by my decisions on issues as best I can. I welcome discussion, questions, and debate.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quote of the day.

"What's worse, after all, a dream that never comes true or never admitting you dream at all?" --Hollis Gillespie

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


There are moments and days that will live forever in your mind. Moments and days that defined a period of life and time for you. For our grandparents it might be Pearl Harbor, V-Day, or MLK Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech. For our parents it might be the end of the Cold War, the day Kennedy was assassinated, or the day that the Challenger exploded in the sky. For all of us it might be September 11th. Well, today is going to be added to that list. For millions of people, not just here in the States but all over the world, today will be a day that lives on in infinity. Whether you were in Washington, D.C. or sitting in a small apartment in Columbus, GA, today was pretty awesome.

For those who doubted the American dream and it's creed that "all men were created equal," today is the day you have waited for. In my interview with the guys from "Dispatches from (A)mended America", I told Godfrey and Brandt that I thought two beautiful things came out of this election. The first thing is the fact that 50 years ago, Obama would not have even been considered for President...of anything, much less the United States of America. We have come a long way from separate water fountains, backs of buses, and sit ins at the local diner. The second thing is that we lived up to our potential as the greatest nation in the world. We proved that we do live in a democracy. Not that I was doubting the system before, but I do not think that we were living up to our full potential. If we had been then there would have been no need to for Martin Luther King to have a dream or for Rosa Parks to sit on that bus.

Today, our government turned over power to the incoming administration and there were no riots in the streets, no one died, and with the exception a few bozos who felt the need to take away from the greatness of the day with boos for the outgoing President and V.P. (read about it here), the day was peaceful and filled with excitement, wonder, and joy. Today is not the day to start fighting about policy and what is going to happen next. Save it for tomorrow. There will be plenty of time for arguments, criticism, and disagreements over the next four years. Today let's celebrate our country and the people who make it great.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Grant's Song

I met this guy yesterday
And he's been on my mind all day
All my thoughts just turn to him
He called me and when I picked up
All he said was, "Hey, what's up?"
And I felt myself falling again

He's beautiful, he's magical,
He's somehow irresistible,
He's wonderful, he makes me whole
But there's one thing he'll never be
He'll never be with me

Last night we talked until 4am
And last night I knew I was in love with him
If he could've heard what I was thinking
He would've known my heart was sinking

Because he's beautiful, he's magical,
He's somehow irresistible,
He's wonderful, he makes me whole
But there's one thing he'll never be
He'll never be with me

If he says her name one more time
I think that I am gonna die
He says, “She's beautiful, she's magical,
She's somehow irresistible,
She's wonderful, she makes me whole
But there’s one thing she’ll never be
She’ll never be with me”

If he could only see:
I think he's beautiful, he's magical,
He's somehow irresistible,
He's wonderful, he makes me whole
But there's one thing he'll never be
He'll never be with me

-Caroline Garcia

This week I learned...

  1. The Algebra class I am taking is going to be hard and studying is going to be my life.
  2. The weather channel does not always know what they are talking about.
  3. Schedules are irrelevant and non-existent.
  4. Sleeping in a big bed alone is best done if you sleep in the middle.
  5. Caroline gives awesome advice.
  6. Sleeping too much is like not getting enough sleep.
  7. Praying with and for sisters is sweet, blissful joy.
  8. When you get honesty from the start then you shouldn't get your hopes up.
  9. Not having something every night of the week is ok.
  10. I am not that bad at ultimate frisbee, contrary to what my siblings say. HA.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

More of Caroline...

I’m driving down the road with the radio on
Smiling to myself when they play our song
I look all around and I see a happy world
Cause I’m looking through the eyes of a very happy girl

I laugh to myself because the rain’s coming down
But then comes the sun from out behind a cloud
People say I’m a hopeless dreamer
But even God was a hopeful schemer
I tend to walk along with a song in my head
Or a story of a life in a book that I’ve read

It’s a beautiful paradox when the sun plays with the rain
It’s a sort of hide-and-seek that goes beyond a game
It speaks of a truth that’s neither black nor white
Of times when decisions are neither wrong nor right
-Caroline Garcia

Friday, January 16, 2009

Playing Outside

You are probably sick of hearing me talk about my siblings and how awesome they are.

**I'm so kidding, but if you really are, come back another day.**

However, Caroline (number 2) is an incredible song writer/poet/writer. I got exclusive permission from the author to reproduce some of her work. I think you are really going to like this.

Playing Outside

Why can’t life be defined
By the games we played when we were nine?
The games I played in my head
When I talked my bear and she said,
“I’ll be your friend when you cry
And you can hold me close at night
And we can sleep side by side.”
Every tree was a friend
And the sun smiled and kissed our skin
We named the birds overhead
And never listened to what our parents said
About getting dirty; we played in the mud
And it was so much fun
Life was so simple back in the day
When all we had to do was go outside and play

Bucket List, Part dos

I was going back through some old posts and saw my "Bucket List." I thought I would give you a quick update on what I have accomplished (not much) and what I have added.
  • Jump out of a plane (this is happening in four months for my birthday)
  • Go overseas.
  • Plant a flower garden
  • Adopt a baby
  • Get a puppy
  • Keep a goldfish alive for longer than a month
  • Write a book (Working on this)
  • Get married(this should probably be above the have a baby/adopt one...)
  • Go on a long term mission trip
  • Be "Millie" in Thoroughly Modern Millie"
  • Have a white picket fence
  • Go on a cross country road trip
  • Be the Artistic Director of a regional theater
  • Be a professional photographer(I define professional as being paid for your work...and John Cooper wants to buy some of my work. See? I am working on being a professional!)
  • Be on staff with Young Life
  • Buy a car
  • Create a foundation for underprivileged kids to go to college
  • Win lottery or be famous author to have money to create foundation
  • Live in New England
  • Sing in a night club (When I say night club, I mean a jazz club that's smokey and dark...specifics are important here, people.)
  • Graduate from college. (this one should probably be further up on the list.)
  • Work at a job I love
  • Read as many books as I can (Working on three right now)
  • Be known for my extensive library
  • Have season tickets to the symphony, the theatre, GT football and basketball games, and the Braves
  • Take college algebra to get it out of the way.
  • Go see Lucy this semester
  • Finish my UT application
  • Work harder on that book
  • Post on the blog more regularly
  • Add more pictures to the blog
  • be a better communicator

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Quote for the day

There are no words to say how much I love words.
-Tom Stoppard

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thought for Today

Why is it that we think throwing our jackets across us will keep us warmer than actaully wearing the jacket as it was intended?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thankful Sunday

My friend, Becky, has a fantastic blog that I read on a near daily basis. She has what she calls "Thankful Friday" where she lists things that she is thankful for in her life. I am afraid that I will be nowhere near as diligent as she, but I am going to make an attempt.

  1. Parents. I love my parents. We don't always agree and we don't always understand one another and what the other needs, wants, or desires, but they are pretty awesome.
  2. Siblings. I know I say this all the time, but I love my brothers and sisters. They pretty much rock.
  3. The fact that I have a job. While other people are losing theirs and worrying about putting food on the table, I have a job and I love it. That's something right there.
  4. Small group. I love this group, these people and the reason that we get together every Wednesday night.
  5. Chick-fil-a. You laugh. You mock. You think I'm crazy. But, I am thankful for the big chick and the yummy-ness it provides for me on a regular basis.
  6. Ultimate frisbee AND running. These two activities provide me with infinite joy.
  7. Basketball Season. Praise Jesus. I am so glad it's back. I was going through withdrawals.
  8. Good friends.
  9. Surls.
  10. Young Life.

"For I am not ashamed..."

"You have God's permission to not have to go through life building a fan club for yourself."

This awesome quote came from my good friend, Brad Baker, who stole it from his pastor. So, if there was any question of credit not being given where credit is due, there shouldn't be now.

I was having a conversation yesterday in which I asked if I was going to be made to sound like some crazy, religious fanatic (don't ask) and the reply I received was "Oh, you don't need my help in that area." After the initial sting and shock, my eyes welled up and I had to force myself not to let the tears fall down my cheeks. Some back tracking occurred from my conversational partner, but the words had been said and their weight was heavy.

It's the next day now and while the weight is still heavy, my thoughts are not as negative as they were. I do not have to go through life building a fan club for myself. I don't need the approval of men to know that I have found favor in the sight of the one who gave His life for me. Being what I like to call "sold out on Jesus" is not something to be ashamed of. Romans 1:16 says "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believe..." Why should someone's intended insult of my faith result in tears on my part? Allow me to share the following passages:

2 Corinthians 12:10- That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Thessalonians 1:4- Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

1 Peter 2:23- When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

The last one is speaking of Jesus. No retaliation, no threats. He simply placed His trust and faith in the One who sent Him here in the first place. I'll go ahead and admit that while I didn't retaliate or make any threats, the reason was more from the fact that I was blindsided from the comment rather than my trying to be more like Jesus.

Ok, so I'm a Christian. And while this is the first time that someone has vocally attempted to insult me without beating around the bush, it will most likely not be the last. My prayer is that the next time it happens, I react much in the same way I did this time, only without the shock (since Paul tells us not be surprised when we are persecuted/insulted for the Gospel message) and with the mindset that I am in good company if I am being accosted for my faith.

"I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall be continually in my mouth." -Psalm 34:1

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Another steal...

I have some fantastic friends who love me well. They send me great articles and other types of literature to read and learn from. The following article was sent to me a few weeks ago. The message hits home for me and also sheds a great deal of light on the subject of race. Enjoy!

John Piper

Did Moses Marry a Black Woman?

By John Piper
A biblical view of interracial marriage and why it matters for the local church to take a stand.

Moses, a Jew, apparently married a black African and was approved by God.

We learn in Numbers that "Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman" (Num. 12:1). A Cushite is from Cush, a region south of Ethiopia, where the people are known for their black skin. We know this because of Jeremiah 13:23: "Can the Ethiopian [the same Hebrew word translated "Cushite" in Numbers 12:1] change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil." Attention is drawn to the difference of the skin of the Cushite people.

In his book From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race, Daniel Hays writes that Cush "is used regularly to refer to the area south of Egypt, and above the cataracts on the Nile, where a Black African civilization flourished for over two thousand years. Thus it is quite clear that Moses marries a Black African woman" (71).

In response to Miriam’s criticism, God does not get angry at Moses; he gets angry at Miriam. The criticism has to do with Moses’ marriage and Moses’ authority. The most explicit statement relates to the marriage: "Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman." Then God strikes Miriam with leprosy. Why? Consider this possibility. In God’s anger at Miriam, Moses’ sister, God says in effect, "You like being light-skinned Miriam? I’ll make you light-skinned." So we read, "When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow" (Num. 12:10)

God says not a critical word against Moses for marrying a black Cushite woman. But when Miriam criticizes God’s chosen leader for this marriage God strikes her skin with white leprosy. If you ever thought black was a biblical symbol for uncleanness, be careful; a worse white uncleanness could come upon you.


To the opposing views on interracial marriage, I would add my own experience. I was a southern teenage racist (by almost any definition). Since I am a sinner still, I do not doubt that elements of it remain in me—to my dismay. For these lingering attitudes and actions I repent.

Racism is a very difficult reality to define. Our pastoral staff has been working on it for years. Presently, we are most closely committed to the definition given several summers ago at the Presbyterian Church in America annual meeting: "Racism is an explicit or implicit belief or practice that qualitatively distinguishes or values one race over other races." That is what I mean when I say I was a racist growing up in Greenville, South Carolina. My attitudes and actions were demeaning and disrespectful toward non-whites. And right at the heart of those attitudes was opposition to interracial marriage.

My mother, who washed my mouth out with soap once for saying, "Shut up!" to my sister, would have washed my mouth out with gasoline if she knew how foul my mouth was racially. She was, under God, the seed of my salvation in more ways than one. When our church voted in 1963 not to admit blacks, when I was seventeen, my mother ushered the black guests at my sister’s wedding right into the main sanctuary herself because the ushers wouldn’t do it. I was on my way to redemption.

In 1967, Noël and I attended the Urbana Missions Conference. I was a senior at Wheaton. There we heard Warren Webster, a former missionary to Pakistan, answer a student’s question: what if your daughter falls in love with a Pakistani while you’re on the mission field and wants to marry him? With great forcefulness he said, "The Bible would say, Better a Christian Pakistani than a godless white American!" The impact on us was profound.

Four years later, I wrote a paper for Lewis Smedes in an ethics class at seminary called "The Ethics of Interracial Marriage." For me that was a biblical settling of the matter, and I have not gone back from what I saw there. The Bible does not oppose or forbid interracial marriages. And there are circumstances which, together with biblical principles, make interracial marriage in many cases a positive good.

Now I am a pastor. One quick walk through my church’s pictorial directory gives me a rough count of over two hundred non-Anglos. I am sure I missed some. And I am sure the definition of Anglo is so vague that someone will be bothered that I even tried to count. But the point is this: dozens and dozens of them are children and teenagers and single young men and women. This means very simply that my church needs a clear place to stand on interracial marriage. Church is the most natural and proper place to find a spouse. And they will find each other across racial lines.


Opposition to interracial marriage is one of the deepest roots of racial distance, disrespect, and hostility. Show me one place in the world where interracial or interethnic marriage is frowned upon and yet the two groups still have equal respect and honor and opportunity. I don’t think it exists. It won’t happen. Why? Because the supposed specter of interracial marriage demands that barrier after barrier must be put up to keep young people from knowing each other and falling in love. They can’t fellowship in church youth groups. They can’t go to the same schools. They can’t belong to the same clubs. They can't live in the same neighborhoods. Everybody knows deep down what is at stake here. Intermarriage is at stake.

And as long as we disapprove of it, we will be pushing our children, and therefore ourselves, away from each other. The effect of that is not harmony, not respect, and not equality of opportunity. Where racial intermarriage is disapproved, the culture with money and power will always dominate and always oppress. They will see to it that those who will not make desirable spouses stay in their place and do not have access to what they have access to. If your kids don’t make desirable spouses, you don’t make desirable neighbors.

And here is a great and sad irony. The very situation of separation and suspicion and distrust and dislike that is brought about (among other things) by the fear of intermarriage, is used to justify the opposition to intermarriage. "It will make life hard for the couple and hard for the kids." "They’ll be called half-breeds." It’s a catch 22. It’s like the army being defeated because there aren’t enough troops, and the troops won’t sign up because the army’s being defeated. Oppose interracial marriage, and you will help create a situation of racial disrespect. And then, since there is a situation of disrespect, it will be prudent to oppose interracial marriage.

Here is where Christ makes the difference. Christ does not call us to a prudent life, but to a God-centered, Christ-exalting, justice-advancing, counter-cultural, risk-taking life of love and courage. Will it be harder to be married to another race, and will it be harder for the kids? Maybe. Maybe not. But since when is that the way a Christian thinks? Life is hard. And the more you love the harder it gets.

It’s hard to take a child to the mission field. The risks are huge. It’s hard to take a child and move into a mixed neighborhood where he may be teased or ridiculed. It’s hard to help a child be a Christian in a secular world where his beliefs are mocked. It’s hard to bring children up with standards: "you will not dress like that, and you will not be out that late." It’s hard to raise children when dad or mom dies or divorces. And that’s a real risk in any marriage. Whoever said that marrying and having children was to be trouble free? It’s one of the hardest things in the world. It just happens to be right and rewarding.

Christians are people who move toward need and truth and justice, not toward comfort and security. Life is hard. But God is good. And Christ is strong to help.

There is so much more to say about the challenges and blessings of interracial marriage. Suffice it to say now by way of practical conclusion: At my church, we will not underestimate the challenges of interracial marriage or transracial adoption (they go closely together). We will celebrate the beauty, and we will embrace the burden. Both will be good for us and good for the world and good for the glory of God.

John Piper is the pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the author of many books. Go to to learn more.

Isaiah 43

The singing portion of any church service is usually my favorite part of worship. I love music. I believe that it plays such a vital role in our lives and that makes it an incredibly important part of worship.

I attend St. Andrews Presbyterian Church and it has been a joy to be a part of a congregation with a pastor who appreciates the music aspect of worship the same way that I do. We sing a variety of hymns and songs, many older and more traditional hymns that have been given newer tunes. We also sing bible passages that have been set to music.

The words below are to one of my favorite songs that we sing. I had some trouble finding a soundbite to include here on the blog, so if you want to hear the tune, you are going to have to ask me to sing it for you.

Isaiah 43

1. When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you,
And the waves will not
Overcome you.
Do not fear,
For I have redeemed you,
I have called you by name,
You are Mine.

Chorus: For I am the Lord your God
(I am the Lord your God),
I am the Lord your God (I am)
The Holy One of Israel
Your Savior
For I am the Lord your God
(I am the Lord your God),
I am the Lord your God (I am)
The Holy One of Israel
Your Savior
I am the Lord (do not fear)
I am the Lord (do not fear)
I am the Lord (do not fear)
I am the Lord (do not fear)

2. When you walk through the fire
You’ll not be burned,
And the flames will not
Consume you.
Do not fear,
For I have redeemed you,
I have called you by name,
You are Mine.
(Repeat chorus)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Dispatches from (A)mended America

Saturday night I was a part of an interview process for a creative media piece called "Dispatches from (A)mended America." I will let you make your own judgment based on their own description of themselves.


Background: In the 24 hours following the historic 11PM announcement of Barack Obama's landslide victory on November 4th, I saw a euphoria I had never witnessed before. People were beaming, dancing in the streets, congratulating me, making quiet yet meaningful eye contact with me. Even I -- who was more than skeptical about the likelihood that America would ever send an African American to the White House as late as November 3rd -- even I called my father in tears, held my wife in my arms. "It happened," I said. "We made it happen." "We did it" seemed to be the day's subtext, even among those who didn't vote for Obama. I felt it too. However, I also felt something that lurked behind the euphoria and the historic implications of the election: Now that we've elected a black man as President for the first time, what do we do now? What happens next? Is "the race question" answered? And what are we going to do with all of this hope and optimism and new found civility in American public life? I am curious if other people are having the same feelings of anxiety, confusion, anticipation, and yes, hope that I am. I want to find out how this election has affected the lives of individual Americans. I want to hear the personal stories of Americans as we head into this truly New Age, an age defined, for now, only by its potential.

In the month leading up to the Presidential Inauguration, I will be traveling throughout America with my friend and colleague Brandt Adams to interview Americans about this watershed event. The guiding questions will be: What does the election of America's first African American President mean to you? Has this changed your life and if so, how? Has this changed America? What do we do now? We feel we can best investigate these questions by soliciting real Americans' own stories of the 2008 presidential election through their eyes and in their own words. What are their hopes for the President elected on hope? What suggestions can they give to an Obama administration that would keep them engaged in the governance of our country?

The interviews, which will hopefully be digitally recorded either on audio or video, will form the basis of a documentary theatre piece called DISPATCHES FROM (A)MENDED AMERICA. Brandt and I, two displaced sons of the South, will begin traveling on December 28th along the same routes used by The Freedom Riders in 1960 and then make our way from Mississippi, North toward Chicago, retracing The Great Migration of African Americans from 1910-1940. Finally, we'll make our way eastward through Philadelphia, finally landing in Washington DC on January 19th in time for the Presidential Inaugural Ceremony. We plan to interview people in Farmville, Virginia, home to one of the school districts included in the original five cases comprising Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka; Greensboro, site of the first civil rights sit-in at Woolworth's; and Oxford, Mississippi, where James Meredith integrated the University of Mississippi in 1962. The fact that Brandt is a 25-year-old white man born and raised in Virginia and I am a 42-year-old black man raised in Virginia only serves to amplify the resonance of this project to us both personally and politically.

You'll be able to keep track of our travels on our blog,, where we plan to upload excerpts of some of our interviews and our thoughts on the journey.

The election of Barack Obama has initiated a time of both euphoria and fear. Euphoria at the prospect of America finally living up to the promise of the Declaration of Independence; fear at the immense challenges that lay ahead for our country and our new leader. Halfway between Euphoria and Fear -- what better place to create a piece of theatre?

I have to admit, I was a bit wary going into this interview. I had been asked to do this interview and I wanted to be a part of this project, mainly because I really do think it is a fabulous idea and I am super excited to see where it goes. However, I was aware of the possibility that the guys conducting the interviews already knew a little bit about me because of the connections that we have. Now, let me go ahead and state for the record, that I am not by any means ashamed of what I believe. However, because I tend to be more conservative and am a registered Republican, I was a little scared that I was going to be turned into the angry, white conservative lady that hates black people and "clings to her guns and religion." I know that I am not that, but I also know how these types of things tend to go. I was pleasantly surprised to find my experience to be quite the opposite. I was treated with the utmost respect and was questioned without my feeling that there were ulterior motives. In fact, I really like Godfrey and Brandt. They are pretty neat guys.

I was heavily questioned about my faith. Not in an ugly way, but in a sincerely curious manner. I believe that the best kind of journalist knows how to ask the right questions and then let the interviewee just talk. Brandt and Godfrey are very good at this.

Audio clips will be up soon and I will be following the blog on a daily basis to keep up with these guys. You can follow too with the link above.

I am still formulating thoughts on my experience with "Dispatches from (A)mended America." I will write again soon when I have more structured thoughts and comments. For now, I wanted to share the fact that I was a part of this project and make others aware of the journey that two random guys are making in an effort to make a difference. Rock on.

Sorry, Micah. I had to steal this...


Hey, remember that time Ronald McDonald died for the sins of the world? That. Was. Awesome.

All credit for this post goes to Micah S. Carver. ALL CREDIT.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Goodby Old Year! Hello New Year!

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

I hate new year resolutions. I think that they set us (or maybe just me) up for failure. You decide that you are going to run every day and eat only healthy foods. Or you decide that you are going to read this ridiculously long list of books, dust every Friday, go vegetarian, fill up the gas tank when it hits the halfway mark, give yourself a clothing budget, and keep your laundry under control. Yeah, right. Like any of that is going to happen. Let's face it, you get to the end of the year and you see that you have not even half way completed the list or you have forgotten exactly what it was that you resolved to resolve.

I want this year to go a little differently. I know, I know. I am about to go against everything that I just said. However, instead of setting absolute goals for myself, I am noting things in myself that I would like to work on. No set mark to reach. I just want to see some progress in myself.

  • Jesus. He is already my number one priority. However, I want to be within understanding distance of Him. I want to live more like the new creation He provided me with. I want to stand in awe every morning and fight with a passion to stay on a spiritual high.
  • Details. I am not a very detail oriented person. I see the big picture and it's hard for me to focus on the how, so much as the goal. I would like to become better at the details.
  • Fitness. I know, talk about stereo-typical. But, seriously. I love to run and take spin class. I really do. I just need to get motivated. This time last year I was a gym junkie. I would like to get back in the groove.
That's it really. I am not saying that is all I need to work on in me. However, one step at time AND I want to be able to reach January 1st, 2010 and be able to see the progress I have made in the past year.

Here's to 2008 and everything that it embodied and here is to 2009 and the graciousness I pray God will give to each and everyone of us.