Tuesday, April 28, 2009

matthew 25:35

i met Jesus on the street today
and i've finally learned
how NOT to turn away.
"Ma'am, can you help me out?
I need some change.
I'm pregnant and I haven't eaten
in two days."
we walked together to the corner store
but there our eyes met no more.
she grabbed some chips,
a drink or two;
i easily paid what was due.
i gave her the change from my five,
touched her arm and said,
"good luck with your child."
i added as we parted ways,
"i'll pray for you,"
and i turned away.
as i crossed the street into the church
i thought, how will that heal the hurt?
my heart, i believe
was in the right place--
but is this how i should treat Jesus
it felt rushed, it felt trite...
but God was still there.
He's making me into someone
who does actually care
about the faces on the street,
those of His own,
so i can say with much praise
that my love for the poor--
the meek, the forgotten--
has grown.
still i felt shaken up
as i walked in to praise
the God who has poured
so much blessing on all my days.
"what can i do, Lord?
how can i be
the same Jesus to these people
as they are Him to me?"
i thank God that He's brought me
from where i have been
and also that He's working on me
until i find perfection in Him.
as i left the service tonight
He gave me one more chance
to love a brother on the street,
to give more than a glance.
a soda was all he asked of me there,
and i happily smiled, saying,
"i've got change to spare."
but this time as we walked
to that same corner store
i asked his name, took his hand--
loved a bit more.
one dollar oh-six was all his drink cost
but i saw in His eyes
the man on the cross.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

not for brevity's sake

it's been a busy couple of weeks and here, for your reading pleasure, is a long overdue update!

i'll start with the most recent events and work backwards. this morning at church was quite...interesting. i was innocently fixing a cup of tea at the beverage table, when a dear sweet little woman, who i thought knew me somewhat well, asked me how my plans were coming. "oh great," i replied, prepared to launch into a discussion about my recent affiliation with either a) Emory or b) YouthWorks. "So you've set a date?" she asked. PAUSE. frantic mental scrambling...for moving? for job training? "um, for what?"--"well, aren't you engaged?!" I believe my exact response was "God no!" haha. sure, I've had a lot going on lately...but that one is still on the to-do list ;) She made up for a supremely awkward moment by wishing me well on finding a hubby at div school. i actually fear the day when i do come home with a boy on my arm or a ring on my finger. they'll be vultures. and speaking of a boy on my arm...this was the same woman who discreetly asked who the cute gentleman was that accompanied me to the Easter service. that was my brother, thanks. after all this excitement had passed, i was very nearly put to sleep in the service by a sermon on sex (who would believe it, right??). in all fairness, this wasn't our regular pastor & the sermon wasn't actually on sex...though it was supposed to be. i'm not really sure what he talked about for 20 minutes. but occasions like this help confirm that i'm heading in the right direction with my MDiv--i wanted to get up & preach myself!

yesterday i took an all-day journey to Atlanta with my mom. i wanted to go check out a few housing possibilities for the fall. we had 4 stops and as we left the third, i was feeling unsure about which was the best option. and then, we arrived. a dream house. the perfect living situation. stop number four was in a picturesque neighborhood with a lot of older, beautiful houses. we were going to meet the roommate of the renter (who was out of town). we pulled up to an adorable house and excitedly noted the abundant plant life and porch swing (!) with high hopes. we walked in. we fell in love. we asked, "where do i sign?" this house is immaculate! i mean...it has a piano. that is cool. it is decorated exquisitely and looks like something out of a home living magazine. and the (antique!) furniture in the bedrooms stays for our use. Arden (my roomie) and I would share a bathroom, each have our own room, and our renter would be the third housemate. Like I said, she was out of town, so I am awaiting a return call from her early this week. Our only hope is that she's willing to begin a lease in August. It is such a great find that I'd almost be willing to pay rent for June & July if she's not okay with waiting ;) I mean, it's that good. Hopefully, you all will see exactly what I'm talking about when you come to visit me in Atlanta next year! I'll keep you updated...

as for work--this week went by very quickly. but i am overtly cognizant of the four weeks remaining until i'm done. so let me go ahead & say it--i am sick of little children. for the first time in my life, i want to get away and be involved with some other age group...perhaps, in fact, until i have children of my own. and it's not that i don't adore my preschoolers--i truly do. they are amazing. i've been especially impressed lately by their retention of the Easter story (the big rock! Jesus moved the big rock! He is risen!). but i've just had enough. i think there's more to be said for my creative energies & my intellectual capabilities than what i'm using right now. plus, the kids i babysit for are starting to wear me thin--my 1 year old has developed a tendency to cry unless i am holding him. crawling machine turns clingy. i still have my secret weapon ("zacchaeus was a wee little man") but singing one song on repeat as your arms slowly give out has been frustrating & tiring.

fortunately--change hastens! like i said, 4 short weeks until i begin my sojourn with YouthWorks. Last weekend I was in MinneSOta for site director job training. Let me start by saying that I haven't slept on the floor of a church in quite some time! So needless to say, it was an exhausting weekend! We were hit with a lot of information--which is ultimately very empowering as we prepare for our summer, but it was a lot at once. I was also on this roller coaster ride all weekend about whether I was content or angry about placement, about whether I felt confident in my ability to do this job or unsure. That was draining as well, believe me. But looking back reflectively, I believe we've been well-equipped for this site director position (and have an ENORMOUS binder full of training material to study). And though I still have moments of, "gosh I wish I was headed across the country," I feel more and more secure in the idea that I gave my summer to God and this is where He put me. I will be serving regardless of my physical location. I am laying down my life for the glory of His name this summer--and that doesn't involve hand-picking my destination and my situation.

I actually had a talk with the guy who was placed in Denver. We were waiting for our flights at the airport & debriefing on the weekend a bit. With us was a site director from my "area", Jessica, who will be stationed in Taylorsville, NC. The two of us really hit it off because she also requested an urban site for the summer & was extremely frustrated with her rural placement. Matt, the Denver SD who has worked for YouthWorks in the past, graciously pointed out that often the youth groups coming to rural sites are the kids who are more committed to service. They aren't looking for a vacation in Denver, or Boston, or DC, with a little bit of work thrown in on the side. If you're coming to rural NC, you're coming to paint some houses & minister to some kids--to grow in your discipleship. That was encouraging to hear from him--and reminded me once again that I am not looking for a vacation destination this summer! Though numerous people did come up to me at the training and expressed how much they would've loved to be at Coastal Carolina. It does have a nice summertime ring to it, I suppose :) I have faith that God will bless each of us where we're at, and will use each of us to bless the youth and the communities we'll be serving.

oh! i almost forgot! and here i was thinking this post was almost over. i may have lost all my readers at this point, but if you're still with me, i must pass along word of my epic battle with 1 Timothy 2, round two! My pastor asked me to lead our Disciple class this past Wednesday while he was out of town. Conveniently enough, we were reading the pastoral epistles for this lesson (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus). I shuddered briefly, remembering oh too well round one with this text: flashback one year or so, to UNC IV Women's Life group. Scene: Carribou Coffee, Rachel & Whitney wrestling with the idea of childbearing leading to salvation. With women being silent. With prohibition from teaching and assuming authority in the church. With how the heck we were going to present this to our girls in an empowering light. I, personally, was prepared to stand up at our small group meeting, rip out the page of my Bible containing 1 Timothy chapter 2, and move along to our study of proverbs 31 (no, wait, i want to rip that one out too..kidding! mostly). eventually, our beloved mentor & friend Kristen spoke some peace into our hearts with an article she had that offered a different interpretation on these controversial verses. I used this very article for our b-stud last Wednesday, and planned to devote half of the 2 hours to those 5 infamous verses. And friends, God moved! I started by opening the floor for complaints & frustrations these words brought about. Everyone aired those out, even the lone male of our group. We were angry, confused, wrestling. But then I explained the alternative interpretation as given by Kristen's article...but perhaps I shouldn't say alternative, but deeper/more thorough (I can forward it along to you if you'd like--give me a shout). And my group members were satisfied. They left feeling calmer, more at peace with God and His Scriptures. And we closed with good, reliable ol' Galatians 3:28...and were able to find some forgiveness in our hearts even for Paul. Though we pondered and mourned together the centuries of oppression that have arisen from these verses.

Understanding where there was frustration, peace where there was discord--that is why we should do Bible study & text interpretation...another confirmation for me that I'm heading in the right direction with the MDiv, and that includes the looming Greek and/or Hebrew language study ;)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


before He ascended into heaven, Jesus left His disciples with these words:

"And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8)

Sometimes He calls us to witness in our own cities--at local churches, in local ministries, among our neighbors and co-workers.

Sometimes He calls us to the "ends" of the earth--in my case Mexico City; for others of us Haiti, Ireland, Kenya, the Phillipines, and everywhere in between.

but the imperative idea is He calls...

It's not a question of where I want to go, where I think I'd best serve, where I discern people who need my witness. He does the calling, He does the sending. He is God, after all.

So this summer, He has called me forth to serve & witness in my Judea--Hyde County, NC. With YouthWorks I'll be working in a rural, coastal community across the water from Ocracoke Island.

And while the other end of NC is not on the top of my list of a far-off summer adventure, it's not my adventure that's in question. It's the adventure of service, leadership, & love that He's taking me on, and I'm absolutely thrilled to know that this location is not gratifying any of my perceived desires--God is making sure this isn't a vacation but a mission. I was thinking urban ministry--He had other plans. I was thinking the other side of the country--He kept me in Judea.

And I have great faith that my experiences serving a community of fellow North Carolinians alongside the youth participants will be fruitful, and that by the end of the summer I will leave a piece of my heart in this rural coastal community.

Tomorrow I'm off for my first round of training--back to Minneapolis. So there will be plenty more to share come next week. With this and several other things (mostly grad school-related) swirling around in my mind, would you pray for peace & trust in God through my upcoming decisions & experiences?

thank you, Shane Claiborne

it's been on my to-read pile since December, and on my to-read list for months before that. yesterday, I finally started it--The Irresistible Revolution.

I'm one chapter in & I feel like someone has given voice to my soul--to what I see around me in American Christianity, to what I want my life & my generation to become. How refreshing. I'm not (yet) snarling like I was at Francis Chan about 'all heaven all the time', because Claiborne talks about a Christianity that "has as much to say about this world as it does about the next." Yes! At the end of every sentence I think, 'yes!'--even when he's making me blush by using terms such as 'spiritual masturbation' & by talking about Jesus's poop. What's great is that he has an extremely valid point in both these examples & in the many other instances where he says what people aren't used to hearing. It's what I've been waiting to hear.

at some moments I'm ready to pack my bags & move to Philly (well, maybe after Emory) & join the Simple Way. but when I stop to think about it realistically, I'm left with the burning question (the same question that's been burning in my soul for a year or so)--what does this look like in my life? How do I live like Jesus? How can I truly be a Christ-follower? What things have I not yet given up or sacrificed to walk in the Way?

And those are questions without easy answers. Which is what I believe Jesus meant when He said the path was narrow.

I'm thankful for a book that is going to challenge me to live radically because it resonates so deeply within me. I feel like Shane Claiborne is speaking what's been on my heart, but I've been too afraid to say. Or too afraid to live out. But he's just one author, one man living for Jesus. I can sit here & gab about how much his book resonates with me, but that's won't get me anywhere. I need to be empowered by the knowledge that there is a revolution happening in Christianity that I've been yearning to be a part of--and then take up my cross & join the mob.

I think I'm going to get a chance to live like that this summer. I'll be sleeping on the floor, eating the same meals every week, living in intentional community, giving every minute of my day to a greater mission, exhausting myself with living the Gospel. It's going to kick my butt, but I am so ready. (I say that now--please hold me to it come June or July).

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I'm at a very strange juncture in my life--I have these two awesome experiences laid out before me, and much planning to do for them both. But I keep reminding myself, "live in the present, live in the present" because I know if I don't, the present will slip away. And these last few weeks at home, though I've been counting them down for months, will be the end of an era in my life.

My faraway & more long-lasting upcoming experience is, of course, at Emory. I've officially signed my scholarship papers & have started the very early processes of apartment hunting. Any suggestions here? I lived on-campus all 4 years of undergrad & was practically whisked stress-free into a great summer sublet. The good news--I have a potential roommate :)

The more immediate experience I'm preparing for is with YouthWorks--I was officially offered the job of site director! I leave for training this Thursday, which is so funny to me because some people have been hired since the fall, according to their website. I think it will be good for me to not have a lot of time to brood--I'm such an over-analyzer. I do have a lot of training material to look through in a week's time, though! (A whole website chock-full of pertinent information--oh, I love the organization!) At the same time, I totally don't feel rushed into this decision, or forced into it as my only option. I had to turn down a job with a similar organization, which was hard, but I believe God has catered this experience to where I'm at in my life right now. It's going to challenge me deeply in areas of leadership & ministry, but I delight in thinking about the person God will mold me into, the places He will prune away to make room for new fruit. I say with confidence that this job will be absolutely ideal for my summer before seminary. And I consider it a great privilege to be a part of this organization that will be hosting over 30,000 youth this summer! Thankfully, in the midst of all my contract-signing & whatnot this week, God gave me a moment to pause & imagine how many people would be impacted for Christ through these mission trips this summer. And He has asked me to be a part of that! I'm so pumped to see the work God is going to do in & among these teenagers.

And, you may be wondering, where exactly will I be working? Well, I'm still wondering that, too. I should know before I arrive at my training next weekend--which, like I mentioned before, is a lot shorter of a wait than many of the other hired staffers. So I could be pretty much anywhere in the States, from as close to home as Raleigh/Durham, to Atlanta where I'll be spending the next 3 years anyway, to California! I feel really good about not knowing though--the other organization, I basically picked myself where I wanted to be out of their six city options. And that choice was based primarily on me thinking that city would be a nice place to spend a summer. So now I get to leave it up to God & see where He would have me--and that's scary, but exciting & sure, and definitely more faith-centered, which is a centering I'm trying to focus my life around more & more.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

the earth is filled with His glory

Last night I finally made it to CharlotteOne with Blair! This is the young adult fellowship in Charlotte that meets each weeks & hosts hundreds of young worshipers. I learned about it back in August, but through different circumstances haven't been able to attend until this week. I know God had a reason for keeping me away up til now, but I hope I can go for the next few weeks. I was challenged by the message (relationships! sex! ah!) and met God in the atmosphere of worship. The second song we sang was Chris Tomlin's "Holy is the Lord"--which normally draws a groan from me. It's an awesome song, but SO overplayed. But isn't it funny how God can speak to us through the walls we put up? I was overcome by the phrase "the earth is filled with His glory."

oftentimes in worship, while I'm singing with my whole heart, I'm asking things of God. God, what does it look like for the earth to be filled with Your glory? How can I contribute to that? Lord, make it true of me, that I need nothing but Your love. Make it true of me. What does this look like? I think when we're truly honest with ourselves and God, worship becomes more of a prayer.

So as I was singing "Holy is the Lord," I was thinking what it tangibly looks like for the earth to be filled with God's glory. It's in the multiracial faces of my preschool children--it's when they recite their Bible verse, "He is risen!" It's in the way we serve one another--those we don't know, those we know, and those we don't like. It's in our churches' youth who ask the tough questions because they're looking for real answers. It's in this gathering of young adults who come together to worship God as a generation as countless millions have done before them.

Then I was struck by an image--Franklin Street on championship night. Chapel Hill was filled with the glory of UNC basketball. An absolute stupor of celebration, victory, exuberance, passion, unity.

Where in our lives are we doing this for our God? When are we so passionate for Him that we're willing to stay up all night, jump over bonfires, scream at the top of our lungs, and slap hands with random strangers? I was challenged to take my part in celebrating the Lord's glory on earth as whole-heartedly as I have celebrated such temporal, trivial things as the NCAA championship. Stay up all night in prayer, walk by faith, preach the Word, reach out a hand to the least of these. Fill the earth with His glory.

One day we'll dance in His streets of gold, before His throne.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

palm sunday paradox

This morning I attended Palm Sunday service at Chapel Hill Bible Church. Isn't this one of our favorite church days, when we get to sing "Hosanna" and smile as little children process through the sanctuary waving their branches?

Well, there were no children bearing branches at CHBC this morning, but lots of" hosannas." I love this word-save now! But as I lifted my voice, surrounded by three of my dearest friends, in a sanctuary that felt like home, I was overwhelmed by the irony of this celebration. And suddenly I don't truly understand it.

I mean, I get it--it's Biblical. straight from the Bible--waving branches & singing praises. all we need is a donkey. and Jesus is the One we call upon to save us.

but, we also know the end of the story. it's as familiar as the celebration itself--those same people who so cheerfully welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem on Sunday were shouting "crucify" by Friday.

so are we supposed to be truly jubilant on Palm Sunday? because today I felt like we were part of a sham. like--oh yea, Jesus, here we are singing your praises. but our sins are going to nail you to that cross in just a few days. so remember the smiles on our faces.

i mean, is that the point? are we supposed to be cognizant of the fact that we ourselves are hypocrites, as were the Jews during that first Holy Week? That we cry "Savior" in one minute and indulge in sin after sin in the next? I've never considered Palm Sunday in that context before. And within that frame of mind, I wasn't sure whether I should be celebrating or mourning.

But Sunday is coming. Hallelujah.


So just when I was gaining some closure and accepting the fact that undergrad has ended & my Chapel Hill days are but a fond memory, today I walked around campus in the beautiful spring weather, having spent time with many of my very closest friends, with national championship hysteria hanging in the air. And I longed to still be there. I guess UNC will never not be a part of me.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Emory it is!

I've made my decision--I'm going to Emory for divinity school this fall! I feel so confident and sure in this decision, and it's a great feeling!

Boston just wasn't it, and very clearly so. It's a neat city & a great school, but just wasn't the right fit for me in terms of what the school had to offer and other incidentals (ie THE COLD)--though being in close proximity to Kristen Greenholt almost persuaded me ;) And of course, while I was in Boston, Princeton Sem. finally sent me a letter...but in the words of one of my peers in the same situation, you snooze, you lose.

I was also given great peace, as I was sitting in the chapel service at BU, about pursuing ordination. All at once, God just quieted my anxious heart. That's not to say many hours of prayers and tears, and many steps of faith aren't ahead of me, but I have started to let go of my fears and embraced the future God is planning for me.

It's so exciting to know where the next three years of that future will be spent! ATLANTA!