Things I Learned in Denver

I went to Denver last weekend to watch my brother play in his last two league games of the season. They're going to play-offs, which is exciting. I also had a job interview in the Springs, and it looks like I'll be doing some marketing writing for a book publishing company.

I also learned a few things:

1. It may look cool, but fans simultaneously throwing baby powder up in the air after their team gets introduced is the worst possible use of a toiletry substance. Especially after it disperses into the crowd's noses and on the basketball court so that the crowd has to yell at the refs to have the sweepers sweep it off the floor but it's still everywhere so they have to sweep every time out and break between quarters but the players still slip and fall on their faces throughout the entire game. Yeah, not so cool.

2. I'd never had a massage by a male massage therapist. Mostly because the massage therapists that have been recommended to me have been women, but also because it's kind of awkward to lay on a table with only a thin sheet between you and a strange man touching your body. But this weekend my mom's therapist recommended a man who does hot stone massages. It was amazing and I felt like I was floating afterwards. But I quickly learned that it doesn't help the relaxation process if I:

a) imagine him as a matronly woman (because it just wasn't possible), or
b) imagine him as my husband. That last idea lasted about a millisecond before I realized what a big mistake that would be.

3. After a little maturity happens, younger brothers really are fun to shop with.

4. If you don't know how to use your phone all that well because it's new, the time to learn how to set flight mode is not when the plane is taxiing and the stewardess reprimands you and hovers above you waiting as you try to figure it out while the rest of the plane stares at you.

5. After two turbulent flights that felt like wooden roller coaster rides, and after the woman next to me yelled, "I've flown all my life and haven't ever had a flight this bad!" I put the Drammamine chemists on my people-to-thank-in-heaven list.

6. Turbulence is the best possible way to get a quiet Christian afraid to soil her I'm-not-one-of-those-preachy-Jesus-freaks-but-a-cool-Christian reputation to form a "salvation in case of crash" plan. Mine looks eerily similar to Seinfeld's final episode in which Elaine starts to yell to Jerry, "I love yoooooooou...." and then the plane uprights itself and she finishes her sentence with "...United Airlines." Mine is more like, "Jesus loves yooooooou!" but I whimped out exactly like Elaine.

7. It's nice to come home and be reminded that my husband needs me.


Tagging Game

My friend Jen asked me to play the tagging game, so here it is: three facts about me and my life (interesting or not, you decide):

1. Jonathan and I own an old TV that won't survive into the digital age without a converter box. We don't have cable. But when I visit people who have cable TV my absolute favorite network is HGTV. I love interior design and can't wait until I have my own canvas to work with.

2. I organize dirty dishes before I wash them.

3. I have two irrational fears: fear of being boring and fear of the dark. My fear of being boring started when a friend in high school told me he was breaking up with his girlfriend because she was boring. I don't know when my fear of the dark started, but my poor husband is the one who suffers for it when I wake up in the middle of the night yelling because I see things. Or maybe that's just another quirky sleeping disorder I have, like how I used to sleepwalk (almost walked out of a London hotel room before my friend woke me up) and see people in my room telling me to do things like throw the covers on the floor or type on the computer that I'm convinced is in my bed...

Anyway. I'll tag Alaina, Becky and Ali before freaking you out with other facts you didn't ask for.


The difference a few months make

The last time my laptop and I went out for a coffee date was in London. To the Putney High Street, to be specific. In between sentences I glanced out the window and saw an Argos shop, moms with prams on coffee dates, big red buses, never ending never stopping streams of pedestrians, black cabs, and Nero's blue and black logo staring back at me jealously as i sipped on a Costa latte (or Americano, depending on how poor I felt).

Now for the first time since then, I'm back to writing, working on the piece that I started during the last term of my M.A. And staring back at me from the window is not a big red bus, but a big red In-N-Out sign next to a waving palm tree.

It's a different climate out here, and I've got to find a way to adjust. Somehow a California palm tree and its association with beaches and warmth and relaxing doesn't do as much for my writing ambitions as a city full of busy peds and publishing houses and literary genius. To be sure, there is intelligence in California. I've got to stop judging the state by its misleading lazy dazy ways and get to work.


New post at Hounds to the Music

Listening Doesn't Have to be Passive

German Swearing

I met a German couple at a wine and food pairing party this weekend. They told me that Germans, unlike Americans, don't do Pretty Swearing. If they dropped a fifty pound weight on their ingrown toenail in the gym while flirting with their hot weekend date, they wouldn't say the German equivalent of dagnabit or fuzz bucket or even turkey, which is my parent's favorite road rage curse. They'd use the original swear word or they wouldn't say anything at all.

There's something about that I like.


Why you should read Fantasy

I recently read this product description for a book I want to read by Luci Shaw called The Crime of Living Cautiously:

"Unexpectedly, the moment of opportunity comes to us--the prospect of entering a reality larger than we'd guess. A spacious option opens up before us, an urgent demand that seems to call for special enterprise, life-threatening perils or summons to action. Suddenly we realize that such a chance might never come again. What do you do when faced with such a moment? Do you sometimes get frozen into a state of inaction? Do you wonder if you are wasting the talents God has given you? Or if you enjoy adventure, do you struggle over whether a risk is just a reckless attempt to feed your own needs or a true calling from God?"

The last sentence is what gets me. It's what's been getting to me for the past year and a half as I've struggled to understand my motives in life. London was amazing. Spectacular. Exciting. Challenging. A learning and growing experience for my career, marriage, faith and independence. But by the end of it I was exhausted--ironically not from the growing pains or constant running from here to there, but from my inaction. From my couch potato state of mind. I had spent the entire year consuming, fattening myself up on the luxury of adventure and investing in experiences that would enrich me.

I've had a lot more time to think about my life these past few months, and Shaw's question strikes a deep chord in me. Are my ambitions just selfish needs, or can they be used to better lives? Why do I pursue what I pursue? What's at the heart of my desires? Is more of my time focused on how I can be served, or how I can serve love to a broken world?

It's always been a difficult balance for me, especially financially. I don't know when enough is enough. I never feel like I am generous enough with my time or money or talents. But it's made worse by our "me me me!" culture, and I wonder how much of it has invaded my psyche. We've got a crazy thing called the 'Prosperity Gospel' being preached by people who apparently read the same Bible that I do. (Interpretation is a funny thing...) We've got books in Christian bookstores written about how God wants us to pursue our wildest desires. What does that really mean, wild desires? I'm going to be really honest here and say that I'd have to dig down pretty deep to find even an inkling of what I could call a "wild desire" that wasn't selfish at the core.

I'm not much of a fantasy buff but I have read Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia and part of the Hobbit. And I've watched the Lord of the Rings films and a few other fantasies. Of all the waking moments in my life, it's when I'm involved in these stories that life becomes more real than it ever does in the daylight. I involve myself with the characters, their adventurous life and death struggles and their passionate love affairs, and I place myself in their majestic, tangible world, and I think to myself: this--this is what my life would look like if I drew back the thin screen between the spiritual and physical worlds. I wouldn't recognize my own life. It would be more piercingly colorful and staggeringly horrid and achingly beautiful than I could ever imagine.

If the only thing that divided this world and the next was a wardrobe, or a screen, or death, would I have the guts to go through?


Evangelical Crash

If you've ever met an evangelical...

If you call yourself an evangelical...

If you're a leader in a Christian church, ministry, school, or other organization...

Whoever you are...

You must--absolutely must--read this article.

I know, I know. So many of you are busy with jobs, with housework, with the Superbowl, but please. It only takes a few minutes to read an article that will keep you from being paralyzed like a deer in headlights by the advancing post-Christian world. It's called The Coming Evangelical Collapse. My mouth is still gaping and my heart sinking, but my reason can do nothing but nod in disbelieving agreement. It's already happening--in other countries first, and now I see it more steadily in the States.

I don't mean to be sensational or bullhorning doomsday. My only hope is that you'd read this article to make a resolve: to build your house on more than the shifting sand of church culture, church programs, political agendas and emotions. Now more than ever we can't debate, can't argue, but love: to build our daily principles on Scripture, join unshakeable communities of faith, reach out of ourselves with our actions (not just empty words) into our local neighborhoods, and of course pray that God's people would be made stronger through it--as God promises.

I would love to hear your comments after you read the article. Specifically:

1. Do you agree? Why or why not?
2. The author will have upcoming posts about what the crash will mean for our culture and the church at large specifically, but what do you think?
3. How do you see it happening already?
4. Is there hope in this?
5. How can we share hope with a post-Christian world when we look like the hateful, unloving ones? In other words, when we look like the problem?