Monday, June 30, 2008

faith, family, and freedom?

holly & i went to a concert given by the local Christian radio station this weekend. in honor of the fourth of july, it was entitled the faith, family, and freedom celebration. at one point in the concert i thought to myself, wow, this is a pretty bold statement we are making here, being able to come together to celebrate these things. outside of the West, i don't think such a concert would be going down at all. which got me thinking (especially after my conversation with Ekta that same day about cultural nuances of faith), how much of what we are here to celebrate stems not from our Christian identity but from our cultural identity?

faith?--yes. Scripture repeatedly and without question calls believers to have faith. And we should celebrate the particulars of our Christian faith: the redeemed life we have been given in Christ, the promise of eternal salvation, the grace of God that sustains us, the presence of the Holy Spirit that guides us.

freedom?--yes, especially in the explicitly Christian sense. Christ has in fact freed us from sin and death (1 Corinthians 15: 55, 57), He has broken the shackles and paid the debt. This is a freedom that all believers around the world can celebrate together, even those who don't know the freedom we enjoy in America. Even those who worship Christ at the risk of mortal death. Even those who've never heard of a bill of rights. This is the freedom we should first celebrate, while remembering those who have fought with their lives for our American freedom.

family?--ehhhh. okay, admittedly, this is the one that gets me. To give you some background, I have a history of being extremely irked by the Charlotte radio station's (over)emphasis on family. Not that there is anything wrong with loving your family, and I think it is an awesome thing they are doing to provide music that families can listen to together without fear of anything explicit. But when you emphasize a family focus to the point of alienating listeners who don't fit the middle-class, nice house, 2.5 kids and a dog demographic, I think you need to reconsider your goals. I often feel like those people on the radio aren't talking to anyone like me, a young, single, childless college grad, which I can shrug off because they are all rather Deliliah-esqe and annoy me anyway. But what about listeners who are single, not by choice, who feel alone and societally insufficient? What about couples who are unable to have children and can't call in and brag about their kid named so-and-so on the morning radio show? Again, family-centeredness is a great value, but if we continue pretending that all Christians (or more importantly perhaps--all people we are trying to reach with the good news) are happy nuclear families, we are blinding ourselves to the diversity of the world and creating a bubble of familiarity and comfort that has a clear dividing line of insiders & outsiders. Got a minivan and kids? You're in, here's a bumper sticker. Single and without family in a new city? Sorry, our message isn't for you. I guess you'll have to find another Jesus to worship.

I realize I'm sounding a bit cynical. But check this out--
If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even life itself--such a person cannot be my disciple (luke 14:26--TNIV)

This is the kind of verse that just makes you cringe (Luke's gospel seems to have a lot of them, though Matthew still boasts the monster mash shocker ;] 27:52-3)--the verses you want to skip over, the verses that make you read the Bible like a buffet. But, friends, this comes straight from the lips of our Lord Jesus. The Message reads, "Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of..." while the NLT says "If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison..." (BibleGateway--gotta love it!) I think these multiple translations help soften the blow of this radical call--and it is radical, and it's harsh! But, in my understanding and wrestling with this verse, I believe Jesus is saying that we can't let our earthly relationships supersede our relationship with God and our focus on following Jesus (see also Isaiah 49:15). Bible dictionaries explain that the word translated as "hate" in this passage refers to only a lesser kind of love (another But Jesus sure does grab our attention, as I feel sure He grabbed the attention of those in the physical presence of His sermons.

I'm afraid we're growing comfortable in a culture that ignores the costs of servanthood & relaxes in the blessings we've been given. The Christian radio's playing songs that say "wear your red dress, use your good dishes, go to the ballgames, go to the ballet, turn up the music" and we're tapping our toes right along. I agree with the underlying message of this song--but it's not scriptural and I don't think it corresponds with Christ's main message. But when we begin to equate this and similar songs' mantras with Christianity, we find ourselves in a cultural-religious hodge-podge that throws in the nice parts of the Bible, bits of the American dream, promises of a comfortable lifestyle and an island paradise for eternity. I'm just not entirely sure that's what Jesus meant when he said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (john 10:10). I mean, really, not every Christian can afford to go the ballgame, let alone have at least 2 sets of dishes. C'mon, Jesus was eating with whores and thieves--hardly the types to have "good dishes." I bet Jesus would gladly eat off your floor if He were to drop by for dinner tonight and you hadn't yet started the dishwasher.

okay, whew. i think i was intending to compose a commentary on religion and culture, and instead this turned into a rant against some things that have recently gotten under my skin. perhaps more to come on the ideas of the Christian religious core and our cultural layers in a subsequent post. also, for the record, i think the Christian radio and Christian artists have a phenomenal ministry and are positively impacting many people for Christ. i am only calling them out in the same sense as when you have a pet peeve and that becomes all you can see about a person.

in other news, i'm expanding my NCAA basketball allegience to include not only the Kentucky Wildcats, but also now the Davidson Wildcats. Stephen Curry spoke at our church yesterday morning, and it was so refreshing to hear him talk openly & warmly about his faith and values amidst his new-found fame. It's good to realize, I think especially for all the youth in our congregation, that not all basketball stars are getting pulled for DUIs or sleeping around, etc. He was extremely humble & team-focused, gracious, and well-spoken, so I will enjoy watching him play even more so next year. And since we all know the Tar Heels are going to win the 2009 championship, I don't feel bad about rooting for a couple other teams along the way :D (wait, what was that about humility?)

i'm desperately putting off my closet purging and packing extravaganza, so i guess i'm out for now....

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

zero to married in 60 seconds

tonight I attended my last IV event on campus at Carolina. it's been an incredible four year journey of growth and challenges. and even though my time in this particular ministry is over, the ways in which God worked in my life and the friends He blessed me with along the way will stay with me as I continue forward.

since i am departing, i would like to leave a petition with my classmates continuing to serve in InterVarsity's ministry at Carolina. please don't take this critique as my entire ending impression of IV, but I had a good conversation with Katie about this issue over dinner tonight, and some of you may know how it has boiled my blood all year long.

i believe we need to put an end to the expectation placed on Christian young adults to marry early, preferably right out of college to someone you met in your campus ministry. katie and i feel that this expectation has become so pervasive in our subculture that it colors and affects all our relationships--our friendships--with men. we have been conditioned in such a way that every male we meet immediately becomes a potential mate. he is scrutinized, measured up, pictured in a family setting ten years down the road (what our small group liked to call, "from zero to married in 60 seconds"). no wonder it is difficult to form a friendship without that thought lingering in the back of your head, "what if?" and that little voice can haunt every conversation and interaction, creating an unnecessary tension (at least in our minds) that doesn't need to be there.

why do we think this way? i know not everyone does--but is seems an awful lot of women i have talked to go through this thought process at least at some degree. i'm afraid to say it, but it is our Christian culture that tells us that we should get married early, walk the path with the Lord as a couple, and raise good Christian babies ASAP. when every large group speaker for a month straight got up front and told a sweet story about how he met his spouse in InterVarsity at Carolina, everyone looks around and wonders, hmmm, who'll it be? and i praise God for those who have found their spouse or fiancee or significant other within in IV's ministry. but i think if we're going to approach relationships as brothers and sisters in Christ, we need take the focus off building marriages and shift towards building (dare i say it??--raw, intentional, transfor...naw ;) companionships. In the garden, God said, "it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him" (Genesis 2:18).

what gets really dangerous is when one person has the "brothers-and-sisters" mindset and the other has the "fast track to marriage" mindset. good intentioned friendliness can easily go awry, leading to minor heart breaks at the very least. i speak, yes from experience, but also from observation. i don't think this is healthy, friends. but i don't have a solution. there's isn't some way to fix this so no one ever has another awkward relationship. but i fear that a generation is being raised up with an unrealistic marital expectation that colors too many social interactions. and when we're all worrying about whether we're going to find a nice Christian boy or girl to marry, we aren't focusing as completely on our ministry, and that takes away from Christ our center. this shifts the marital institution/ covenant that should be a blessing from God into a distraction and a chasing after worldly security and approval.


Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God (colossians 3:1-3).

Monday, June 23, 2008

the return of the chain letter

My house-mate Ashleigh tagged me in her blog, requesting my participation in what seems to be a blogger chain letter :) Here's the rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here's seven things you may not know about me (or you may know them all...depending on who you are....) Anyway, here we go!

  1. I am left-handed. I think that's pretty cool. I guess other people don't though, because they forget all the time and freak out when I pick up my pen or fork or something with my left hand. Even though being left-handed makes you super special, it does come with its inconveniences--namely around-the-house gadgets that most right-handed people would take for granted as being shaped for their use. Us lefties know how these things are made--just ask me after I've dropped spaghetti from the one-sided pasta spoon or added rather than removed lint from clothing.
  2. Growing up, I was something of a jack-of-all-trades. And I've come to decide this was a good thing--I wasn't awesome at any one activity, but I dabbled in several. I played soccer--always on the field as defense, rarely scored the goals. I swam during the summer, and let's not even go there on my one season of softball (ironically, it was my use of a non-leftie glove that may have been my downfall....) I LOVED being on stage, but was never the star. I played the flute for 4 years, but never made first-chair. I took four years of Latin, 3 semesters of French, and 2 months of Spanish immersion--and don't remember much of any of it (that's really bad, I know). But I won't call myself average, but cultured.
  3. My (new) favorite movie is Stardust. I really think you should see it. It is so unexpectedly good and has a great cast. My (old) favorite movie is still Singing in the Rain. I shouldn't even need to tell you to see that--it is fabulous. I have a copy, if you need to borrow :)
  4. I have really terrible eyesight. As in, I've only met one person my age whose eyes were worst. My contact prescription: -6.0 for the left eye and -4.0 for the right. At least i get to wear cute glasses and I look forward to the possibility of laser surgery someday (though the price quotes online make me think I'll have to sell my firstborn to afford it...)
  5. I love going snow-skiing! Even just sitting here typing about it makes me want to go RIGHT NOW! (slightly problematic since it is June) My parents taught us in the mighty mountains of NC when I was about 7 and my little brother was only 3! We ditched the ski-wee class almost immediately and instead my dad would put us (one at a time!) between his skis and hold us under the arms, guiding us down the slopes. Now we try to go at least once a season, & I am enjoying finally being good enough to hang with my dad (though my brother is another story entirely--he leaves everyone in his dust). I haven't been out west, but it is a trip I want to make very much!
  6. I am in the process of "learning" guitar--a process that has been renewed this summer by my roommate Amanda's mutual interest. I spent a lot of time last summer teaching myself chords and working through worship songs. I wish I could really develop a skill for it because it would be an awesome ministry tool! Actually, as I was sitting in church this past Sunday, I envisioned how great it would be for me to be able to just sit down at a piano and start pounding away at a worship song, or picking up a guitar and leading a group in some impromptu worship. Then I remembered that God blesses us all in different ways--he gives us each specific gifts so we can work as a body. I can't and won't be able to do everything, as much as I would like to pursue my development of musical ministry. As it is, I use the time I spend playing as personal worship for the Lord. It's one of the very few times I actually interact with God in worship fully within the "audience of one" mindset. That's pretty cool, even if I stink at playing.
  7. I am a choir dork. Not counting children's choir at church back in the day, I first sang in a real choir in eighth grade--and I didn't even sign up for the class. Call it fate, but ever since then I have sang in a competitive or touring choir. I haven't missed one year or semester--I really love it. I'm a second soprano--a high singer who gets to sing the harmony (the interesting stuff, usually!) I've gotten to sing in Handel's Messiah, Beethoven's Ninth, Braham's Requiem, and have toured to NYC, Atlanta, and Charleston. I may have to take a break now that I'm moving to Kentucky and away from glee club at UNC (which has it's ups and downs...). I don't know if I could make it without singing--which is why I've already looked into a community choir in Lexington :)
Whew, okay, that's me in a nutshell. Here's the people I'm tagging, you should check out their blogs because they're all amazing friends with amazing stories!

1. My summer roomie Amanda
2. My friend Kristen who is moving to Boston shortly for her first official year as an IV staffer!
3. My former co-leader and dearest friend Rachel, whose blog is witty, poignant, and all-around brilliant just like she is.
4. My friend and fellow UNC 08 grade, Michelle, who has just moved to DC!
5. My roommate from my summer in Mexico, Ann, who is moving with her (new) husband Drew to Bolivia.
6. My small group leader from freshman year at Carolina, Emily, who moved to Boston from NC this past year.
7. My friend and fellow STIMmer Sherri, who has spent the past year in Bangok, Thailand.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

nos vemos

every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

thank you, semisonic. last night i continued the process of making an end in the face of a new beginning (t-minus 6 days in chapel hill). i had dinner and a movie with my beloveds, rachel and kristen, which we enjoyed despite the fact that betsey couldn't make it. when she arrived, rachel hugged me in a way that felt familiar. a simple hug, like one you'd give to the cousin you see every other weekend or to your best friend down the street circa fifth grade. then i sat in my same old seat at kristen's table, we ate kristen's bread & my salad & rachel's cookies as per usual. then we started chatting about goodbyes. how do you say goodbye to a person? to a place? i admitted to them that i usually cop out at saying goodbye because it feels too final. by pretending that i'm going to continue seeing someone just like always, despite the fact that we're going our separate ways, i remove the painful parting process and it instead turns into a gradual fading away. the problem is, that gradual fade thing usually becomes quite permanent. the painful stuff is what you've got to do to maintain stronger relationships. and here they were, two of the last people in the world i want to say goodbye to, helping me recognize that our time is coming to say goodbye, and i won't get away with fading them out.

are our lives just cycles of what is comfortable and what is unfamiliar? i was comfortable at home for 18 years, then college happened and i had to completely readjust everything i knew. now i'm quite comfortable at carolina, but it's time to leave and begin again. it is time. it may (it will) be awkward and transition-y in kentucky for a couple of weeks, but i know that before too long, that will be my home and that will be community, and i will be comfortable again. but this time it' will only be a year--then i'll jump into something else unfamiliar. i think eventually i'll stop moving for a more significant chunk of time, but right now, though it's a little scary and, in fact, uncomfortable, this is living! sure, i could stay in chapel hill forever and meet with rachel and kristen and betsey for dinner once a week and ride the CW bus to our beautiful campus and laugh with amanda in our room before we go to sleep. but then i wouldn't meet all these amazing youth in kentucky, and i wouldn't see what God has for me there. if i had turned around and headed back home because carolina was uncomfortable at first, i never would know the blessings that i am so reluctant to leave now! i was so nervous about co-leading with rachel because i'd never so much as talked to her in our first 3 years at carolina, and now she is one of my favorite people EVER, a genuine friend. what promise God has in store for us, if only we can make the jump into the unknown!

in all fairness, i actually have some extra assurance that this whole kentucky experience is going to rock. this past weekend, with my chinese leftovers i took home 3 fortune cookies, and all 3, yes count them, 3 , promise an exciting future:

  • You are about to embark on a most delightful journey!
  • New and rewarding opportunities will soon develop for you.
  • Many successes will accompany you this year.

In my opinion, these are all a step above the normal ones you get, which aren't really fortunes at all: "you are a quiet soul" or "the dog needs walking" etc. now i don't know if God deals in fortune cookies much, but since He created the universe, i'm pretty confident in saying He could probably manage to get those little pieces of paper inside the cookies, thereby sending me a 3-fold assurance that this adventure upon which i'm about to embark is going to be stellar.

(i also know how to say "cherry", "how much", and "autumn" in chinese now--likewise quite useful)

i'm going to fayette-nam this afternoon to spend the night with kwood! i know this is a big one where i need to explicitly bid my farewells, so i'm going to try...but maybe not with goodbye. i think the hispanic culture has it right--a kiss on the cheek and "nos vemos." i'll be seeing you.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

the southern side of heaven

i said my goodbyes to unc tonight. after small group on campus, i decided that it was the perfect night for a stroll--refreshing (not stifling) temperature, calm twilight. i ended up at the old well, and at the risk of looking like an out-of-towner, i just stopped there for a few moments. then i saw them--the fireflies. finally! i haven't seen one all summer, and all of sudden there were hundreds, lighting up the quad like so many twinkling stars. and that quad has always been my "gosh, i love carolina" quad. then the bell tower started chiming 9 o'clock. i turned around, my back towards franklin street, and wouldn't you know it? there was a huge full mooning shining between the buildings. this is a carolina moment. and though it was perfectly crafted, like something out of a movie, this is the moment when i realized that no longer will chapel hill be my home, but it will now be a place where i come to i visit. i'm not sure if i'm fully okay with that yet, but at least now i've gotten to say goodbye.

(two posts in one day--can't say i didn't warn you! and all you dookies and other dissenters can stop gagging now ;] )

hemmed in behind, hemmed in before

dearest readers, i hope you are prepared to offer this blog a significant portion of your web browsing time in the coming week. i've let you off easy by not posting recently, but now that i am DONE WITH SCHOOL, i have a lot of time and a lot of thoughts. gird yourselves.

in case you missed that--i did it! i finished school! my time at UNC is over & done! i had a moment this morning as i lazily woke up & enjoyed a slow morning of hot tea, quiet time, and pajamas--a moment where i realized that i will never wake up & go to class again (at least for the foreseeable future). and i was a bit sad. but other than that, it's all excitement!

yesterday, clearly, was a momentous day. it was also a long day, full of ups and downs. after my test i went to the daily grind and hung out with God for awhile. "Come & see what the Lord has done!" psalm 46 declares. Indeed, i thought. Look what he has done with a mess like me, and look what he is doing. the fact that i even graduated with an actual major is impressive, never mind one that i genuinely enjoyed. i am hemmed in behind. and look where he is taking me! on an amazing adventure into his service with a great group of students, a great church community, and a great staff team. quite poignantly, i checked my voice mail as i left the daily grind, and scott (the youth minister at crossroads) had left a message--an encouraging one as he usually does--that wished me a spectacular day & repeated his oft-expressed sentiment that they can't wait until i join them in kentucky. what a joy to know that as i close one chapter, i have a fresh new page open & a new life story raring to go. i am hemmed in before.

i had lunch with the ever-delightful katie smith on the quad, our beautiful quad, in the speckled shady-sunlight. this is what i will miss. then i had to babysit cameron for the afternoon & while he was napping, i came face-to-face with a gripping realization. i like to watch golf. i turned on nbc to catch a rerun of ellen, and instead i sat enthralled watching the us open playoff between tiger woods & rocco mediate. let me slow that down for you--i. watched. golf. all on my own, because i wanted to. and i was sad when cameron's dad came home & i missed the sudden death round at the very end. my realization is this: in most instances, i am very glad to become a reflection of who my parents are, but in some ways i never expected to be like them, and this is one small example. dad, i like to watch golf. because you do. because even though it's slower than baseball (yawn), i like watching it because i've always watched it with you. hmmm, it's funny how we turn out in the end. never a carbon copy, but with distinct streaks of our parents, the good & the bad, shaping who we are.

after getting turned down for a credit card later that afternoon (and moping about it on the phone with mom--thanks), i spent most, in fact all, of my evening at my Hebrew Bible professor's house. he had the class over for pizza at 7 and we ended up staying til midnight! i can't even really tell you what we talked about much, though we did spend a lot of time just watching his adorable child perform for our attention. we did talk about solving all the worlds problems one teacher salary at a time, and the brilliance of the reli. professors at unc (apparently my wildly fascinating death & afterlife professor, z-man, took the GRE before he knew much english--and was accepted into yale...), and world travels. the photo album came out, because obviously as a biblical scholar, our professor had been to quite a few places in the Near East--including, among other things, the sweet buildings filmed for the third indiana jones (the cup one, amanda), where the holy grail was housed. i had to bite my tongue when he got to the israel pictures, not to say, i've been there, ooh i've been there! one thing i must comment on retrospectively. while i do agree with prof. reynold's opinion that the sea of galilee might not fully deserve the designation as a sea, i hardly think that, as he ( jokingly) said, it was small enough that Jesus could have cleared it on foot by getting a good running start from a nearby hilltop. maybe not a sea, definitely more than a "pond"--truly majestic, wouldn't you say?

in the midst of all this, at 11pm to be exact, i got a call from scott and stepped out to answer it. as he had told me on his message earlier that day, the youth were on a rafting trip & they called to say hey! it was delightful--scott said he wanted me to feel included since i am the only team member still MIA, and i really did. i chatted with one of the senior girls i met while visiting in february, and i could hear all the noise in the background. then tim (the other youth pastor) had all the kids shout "congrats on graduating whitney!!" and that was really cool. i do wish i could be there with them right now, but i appreciate the thoughtful ways in which scott is working to make me part of the community before i even arrive (these are the kinds of things that make me trust in the sheer blessing of this experience). and good grief, i only have a few short weeks left and i will be there! yes!!

well, that was yesterday, but if you can stand to read on, this weekend was quite eventful as well. my little brother, the baby of the family, graduated from high school. this is kind of silly, but i remember thinking to myself when i was younger, maybe about 10 or so (or whenever you start realizing that little kids have to grow up and won't stay small forever), that here i have this small, white-blond headed, ball of energy little brother, and one day, he's going to be grown up. that's going to be weird to witness, i thought to myself then. well, now it's happened. he's taller than me now (though not by too much ;) and a fellow south meck graduate (a proud moment indeed--ok, just kidding). it was really good to be there with the family and watch him graduate, especially after having missed jordan's high school graduation because i was in mexico. then at church on sunday, father's day, our worship minister brought his little girl up on stage to sing to her (this relates, i promise). during the offering, he sang the steven curtis chapman song, "cinderella", which is one of those dumb songs i love to hate because if you really listen to the words, cheesy as they are, it makes you all sad and nostalgic and leaves you wanting to cry and hold onto your mommy, blah blah blah. this one is a much better option that "butterfly kisses" though, if you ask me. (our other favorite is that song that says "let my love give you roots and help you find your wings." blubber-sniff). anyway, the chorus of the song, which is about a dad watching his little girl grow up, goes like this:
so i will dance with cinderella, i don't want to miss even one song. because all too soon the clock will strike midnight, and she'll be gone.

after this weekend, our family has had a big bell toll, counting down the hours til midnight when us kids will be gone. will graduated high school, and will leave home for college in the fall. mom will be left with an empty nest, because despite the insistence of her friends with live-in daughters one year older than me, i'm not coming back home after this summer. i think my clock is at about 11:58 right now. i'm truly on the brink of wrapping up childhood--the independence-testing period of college is done and i'm entering full-fledged adulthood. i still have one more week in chapel hill to see friends one last time, one week to pack things up at home, a weekend of wedding festivities, then 12 chimes and i'm gone.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when i sit and when i rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. (psalm 139: 1-5)

please expect more of these ridiculously elaborate metaphors. like i said at the beginning of this ridiculously long post, i am newly graduated with a college degree. so i have time on my hands and thoughts that need channeling. blame it on donald miller. i'm starting to read "searching for God knows what" and i'm sure his quirkiness will influence me. thanks for sticking around. hope the pictures helped :) much love.

Friday, June 6, 2008

grab bag

5. more. days. of. college.



why do the tags on clothing say to dry with like colors? washing--sure, that makes sense, but drying?

i think we can all agree that mother teresa was a pretty amazing woman. i was reading in ashleigh's christian trivia/almanac book today & there was a piece on her--mother teresa did some phenomenal things in this world, and changed countless lives for the better. but then it hit me--mother teresa really isn't exceptional. she just was actually living out what Jesus told His followers to do. all of us. i hope you'll excuse the guilt trip, because i assure you, the finger is pointing directly at me as well--but what would our world look like if we all chose to actually follow Jesus like mother teresa did? i think the kingdom of heaven would be here on earth already! WE have that power--more importantly, Jesus has given it to us. but yet we're not all willing to sell all our possessions, live among the sick & dying, take the Gospel to the furthest reaches of the earth, etc. but that's certainly what Jesus did--and it seems to be what He calls us to as well. don't get me wrong, in NO way am i saying that unless you help as many people as mother teresa, you aren't making an impact for Christ, you aren't a real Christian, or any of that. i believe that loving just one person, really loving them, is life-changing and revolutionary and glorifying to God. it's just really interesting to think what this world would be like if we all took a chance on Jesus's crazy commissions. praise God for His grace.

brad pitt apparently bought a table worth $300,000 in the last few days--yet he & angelina are saving the world one orphaned child at a time (among other things). is it all right to spend lavishly and irresponsibly if you can back it up with charitable work? i wonder what mother teresa would think. i wonder what Jesus would think. (ashleigh's book also contained the back story on the WWJD bracelets, in case you were wondering. i also learned about the dead pope who was put on trial & stripped of his papal vestments posthumously. then they threw him in the river. tough crowd.)

for someone who is as much of a smarty-pants as i am (and i do mean that pejoratively), i'm really terrible at pub quizzes. one of the only questions i felt completely confident about answering in 4 whole rounds was about the powder puff girls...and that's just sad. at least i was with my betsey and my rachel and my kristen (yes, you three are mine--don't try to escape).

our refrigerator continues to behave mysteriously. today i pulled out a ziplock bag in which i had stored a bag of lettuce and a bag of carrots. the carrots were frozen. the lettuce was not. the same thing happened with amanda's eggs--she cracked one open frozen & another one was just fine. which all leads me to say, you can't count your frozen eggs before they hatch.

aaaaaaaaaand scene.

Monday, June 2, 2008

you aren't home, but you are here now

i saw the above phrase written on the sidewalk outside an apartment complex when i went running last night. a profound twist on those signs that places put up that say "if you lived here, you'd be home now." ok, i'm about to expose how much of a true dork i am, but the first thing i thought when i read that was "denn wir haben hie keine bleiben de statt", which is the opening line of my favorite movement of brahms requiem. in english, the section quotes hebrews 13:14--

"for here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come"

on the deepest level (and ironically the first one that came to mind--am i too introspective??), this bit of graffiti reminded me that in the REALLY big picture of this life, i'm not home, but i am here. and i believe i am here to fulfill a God-given purpose, to make a difference in some way for Christ and His people in this world (alot of thinking for an afternoon run, huh?). with a little more thought later, i decided that this little phrase can also apply to my time in chapel hill this summer (which i'm sure my faithful readers will recognize as something i'm working hard to define :] )--this place isn't technically my home anymore, or at least not for much longer. i can't pretend that i'm still a carolina student or that i'll be living in this house any longer than another month at most. but i am here now.

on that note, CTOPs started today--aww, so sweet to see all the incoming first-years who are so excited and eager...and lost :] but (of course) it made me quite sad, too. in essence, these are the kids who are replacing me & my class. '08 is out, '12 is in. the rest of the student body will be essentially the same--but these newbies will join the ranks, and the graduates will be gone. ugh. no fair :P the quad will still be there, all the professors & classrooms, franklin street; basketball games & IV meetings will still go on, and all my beloveds who still have more school will come back in august--but i'll be gone. so to any & all incoming first-years everywhere, this is cliche, but enjoy every freakin' second of it.

random side-note: mariah carey can hit notes that should not be reachable by the human voice. fun to try & sing along with your roommate, though :]

changing subjects...the worship band at church yesterday did something REALLY awesome. i walked in after the music had already started, but no one was on stage. i spotted them soon after--nat on his guitar, annie on her violin, and several other singers were in a circle on the floor, center aisle. nat later explained by way of a great analogy that i think is useful for anyone who is a leader of worship, not just musically. he said, a lot of times we see worship as a football game: God is the coach, the band members are the players, and the congregation is the audience/spectators. but instead, we should worship in this way: the band is the coach, the congregation are the players, and God is the audience! this is especially awesome in light of a book i recently finished called Jim and Casper Go to Church. It's about a Christian minister and an atheist who traveled around the country attending several different kinds of churches, and the atheist would give his impressions, which were very useful since he is outside the subculture bubble. And more than once when asked about the worship music, he would rank the churches lowly, not because the talent level was down, but because it felt too much like a performance for the congregation instead of worship directed solely to God. The bulletin at church yesterday also mentioned that the service would be conducted in the spirit of the early church (no service order was given)--and that really added something special for me, too. Somehow, moving the band down among the people and taking on the attitude of the early believers made me feel connected more closely to the people around me & to the larger body of Christ spanning back to those first Christians--all coming together to sing one message of praise to our one God.

one final note for the evening--i'm getting REALLY excited about kentucky :] i don't know if it's because the last full month before i head out there is now upon us, or whether the youth group's video yearbook from this past year that i watched yesterday got me pumped, or whether God put a spirit of excitement & anticipation within in me--but i am filled with eager expectation to the brim! kind of a weird mix with all these sad, mushy 'i love carolina & don't want to leave yet' feelings--the very definition of bittersweet i suppose, is the story of my life right now. a good place to be.