Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Advent Services and How Hannah's Not Ready for Children

Just got back from our advent lunch service (we're doing this cool "Blues of Christmas" service lunch thingy during the noon lunch hour so business people in our church and the seniors and everyone can come. We've had a jazz pianist, a brass ensemble, the school kids --and pastor does a devo all the while you can eat your lunch... it's pretty nifty)

Today we were doing a Christmas Carol sing-a-long and along with that learned the history of some of our most popular songs. Two guitar players from our praise team were along to accompany.

Enter child--who will remain nameless to protect his identity--we'll just say his name is JA. JA is 5 years old and the son of one of the guitar players--he also goes to kindergarten here and has been known to make the Kindergarten teacher cry. Anyway, his dad asks if JA can sit by me during lunch and while we sing. I say sure, I mean how hard can it be?

Apparently, pretty hard. This child is busy! As soon as he sat down he attempted to light candles, himself, and the church on fire-not intentionally of course--he just wanted to light his individual candle. During the hour that followed was the most taxing hour of my life "no JA don't cut the table with your knife" "No you may not have a second bag of cheetos" "Please don't play the piano while they're playing guitar" "please stay out of the kitchen" "please don't light yourself on fire" etc and all the while the LWML ladies were giggling and laughing and teasing me about "not wanting children" (to which I replied "not yet").

I must say I was glad to return the child to his father (after he ran off with 4 more cans of coke).

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Grass Looks Greener

Ever heard that phrase "you always want what you can't have"? I think I have it. I have the alwayswantwhatyoucan'thave-itis (also commonly known as AWWYCH) How is AWWYCH diagnosed? Symptoms vary but can include complaining, moping, jealousy, ear aches, and lack of sleep.

Ok, I don't know about ear aches, but I do know that AWWYCH can be very dangerous--especially spiritually.

How is one diagnosed? Well, I noticed it the other evening when I first started this blog. My roommate has been saying lately that we "don't have lives". Well, having come from last year, quite easily the loneliest year of my life, having any friends at all with which to hang out with (even just watching tv at someone's apartment or having the ability to go to movies with more than just myself on a friday night) seems like such a major feat (and a major answered prayer) that hearing "I don't have a life" hits me hard because this "non life" is 100 x more than what I had last year.

Life in churchwork demands a lot of hours-- strange hours-- and on average I have 2 meetings a week plus wednesday night activities. Let's also not forget that weekends=nonexistent in church work, particularly youth ministry. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about my work, my calling... because I do love youth ministry, it just makes me pretty darn busy. It also makes me pretty protective of my time off and insanely jealous of my roomie who has (for the most part) her evenings and weekends free (and apparently, is a cell phone... free nights and weekends!). I turn a little green with envy when she can hang out and watch tv at Jess's when I'm sitting through meetings.

Thinking about it though and praying about it led to some revelations. I'm happy, for the most part, with work, with my friends (i know they love me and want to see more of me--unless they're lying--jess don't answer), with my roommate, with life in general. AWWYCH is discontent disguised in a seemingly less harmful package, but it's effects on my spiritual life are just as taxing.

To me it seems like throwing all the blessings God has given me and throwing them back in His face. No, things aren't ideal, but no situation is. I would like more free time, but I knew what I was signing up for by staying at Messiah (and for that matter, Messiah has been such a huge blessing to me that the positives far out-weigh the negatives).

I also know that God has been good to this child and instead of complaining about what isn't happening, I should turn and praise the God who gives me a "storehouse full".

Good News!

"Late on a sleepy, star-spangled night, those angels peeled back the sky just like you would tear open a sparkling Christmas present. Then, with light and joy pouring out of Heaven like water through a broken dam, they began to shout and sing the message that baby Jesus had been born. The world had a Savior! The angels called it "Good News," and it was."

Larry Libby

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Open mouth, insert foot.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Genie in a Bottle

How many of you watched the Weavers on The Amazing Race this season? If you have, I think you'll understand my incessant need to apologize for their "praciticing" of the "Christian" faith. They upset me to the point of yelling "shut-up! shut-up! shut-up!" at the tv screen. Why? They use their faith in God as a pity card (ex. "they just hate us because we're Christian" "we'll get our reward in heaven and those cows over there will just suffer"), they use prayer like it's a Genie in a bottle "Dear Lord please let us beat this team" "dear lord let us find this so we can beat the despearate housewives"), and they twist and turn the idea of "thy will be done" into "It's God's will that we're in this race and that we're winning".

So, where am I going beyond this ranting about the Weavers? Well, seeing them in action and some other discussion over one of my past posts about prayer has got me to thinking about what I believe about the power of prayer. So, before you read on...

DISCLAIMER: You may not agree, you may think that I'm blaspheming (though I hope not), but I hope that I have some valid points about where I stand (and don't forget that it may change as I learn and grow in my faith) that being said....

On Prayer:
Apparently a little ... makes for a little controversy. This I did not know. I'll also admit that I don't know exactly how God works and why He works the way He does.

I DO KNOW however, that God has answered my prayers. Does this mean that I think God is a Genie in a bottle bent on fulfilling every whim and fancy of my heart? Of course not. Sometimes God answers the way I want. Most of the time he answers in a way that is far better for me.

I do however, think God notices passion and that he notices those who pray fervently for something. (Matthew 26:53, Matthew 21:21-22, Ephesians 3:14, Hebrews 4:15) God has been noted for changing his mind in the Bible. :) (Isaiah 38:2-5)

Example: A child asks his father for a puppy. The dad says no... that it's too much work. The child continues asking and asking, and checks out a book from the school library about puppy care. The father notices and even though he knows it isn't the right time, he gives the child a puppy. Was the father planning on giving the child a puppy? Maybe not then. But he did it because the child asked and because the child was passionate and persistent.

I think God is like that father and will give us what we ask for even if it's not what He had in mind for us. Let me make this distinction however, I still believe that it is God in His grace and love for us that had mercy and said yes to our prayer. He says "I know that this isn't the right time for this, but becase I love you, because you are asking, I will give it to you".

When the child has to hunt for the puppy that ran off in the middle of the night because they forgot to close the kennel they'll realize "Dad was right... maybe I'm not ready for a puppy".

The same is with us.

We can pray for a porsche, a gorgeous spouse and three perfect children, BUT, when we're making $700 million car payments a month or bemoaning the lack of time that we want to spend with Mr. McDreamy or missing out on our children's first step, I think we'll realize that "hmmm, maybe God was right about this not being the right time."

I know that it's not because I pray that I get what I want. It's because God loves me He gives me more than I need.

I do know that we are called to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I do know that as we mature in our walk with God our prayers will mature as well--that we will begin to pray that God does his will in our lives. (What's God's will for my life? That's another post another time)

I do know that we are called to pray. I will continue to do just that and that I will continue to "pray passionately and keep knocking"; resting comfortably in the fact that God hears, that he answers, and that it's in His grace and in His mercy that he does both.

Thanks to the very lovely spoda who helped me sort through the mess in my head as well as B, Mike and Kristi ;).

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

another picture (jess lindz, me bekah and b) :) Posted by Picasa

lindsey, jess, me, bekah and bethany at ajanta cuisine of india Posted by Picasa

me and my beautiful college roomie bethany!  Posted by Picasa

It's National Hug Your Youth Worker Day!

It's not really, but I won't turn down free hugs :)

When any of you walk into my office you'll see that it isn't very clean. My youth tease me about it, so does our church administrator. It's actually quite embarrassing b/c I'm a clean person, I really am (my office just doesn't reflect that... I don't have time to pick it up everyday and piles represent stuff that I'm currently working on). Anyway, so today, one of the pastor's from another church comes in to say hi before a meeting he has at our church. He walks in and says "Wow" and me assuming the worst say apologetically "I know, it's messy" and he replied "no, I was just going to say that you must be really busy." I felt totally wrong-footed, but felt understood. Yes, I am busy... That's why my office is messy, that's why there are piles and it was nice to have someone understand that.

It's amazing how much sincere praise (like someone noticing my messy desk and assuming I'm working hard instead of that I'm simply a slob) can affect my day . Sometimes this is a thankless job. Sometimes I feel totally bogged down by the tedium that can be youth ministry (all the paperwork!). Sometimes it is hard to work and work well, but when someone takes the time to offer sincere praise (like one of my girls who told me I make the Bible come alive to them) I can live on it for months... and it's sincere praise that reminds me that why I'm doing what I am in the first place.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Our group at Ok'd! :) Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 02, 2005

Lindsey's Birthday! (From left Me, Jess, Bekah and Lindsey--wearing the crown)Posted by Picasa