Thursday, August 28, 2008

From "The Jesus of Suburbia"

If you follow Jesus, you follow the most radical man who ever existed. He marches into the world with kindness, peace, and love and offers people a whole new way of looking at the world and living within it. His is the most radical message you can preach or live. He turns everything upside down and calls us to do likewise. Jesus is not vitally committed to our comfort and safety; he is committed to the advancing of his kingdom revolution in the hearts of people everywhere.

In talking about what his kingdom is like, Jesus announced, "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men take hold of it" (Matt. 11:12). In other words, God is doing something so powerful and dangerous that only those who are willing to embrace it with forceful intensity may take hold of the movement of God's kingdom. The revolution of Jesus isn't for the faint of heart or the middle-of-the-road. It isn't safe. It isn't comfortable. It costs us a great deal to say yes. We take hold of the revolution by abandoning ourselves to Jesus and letting go of everything else.

It seems every day lately, God reminds me that nothing about following Him is meant to be comfortable...I think I have some work to do.

just never ever gets old...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The world could be a really different place

I really have a thing for contagious laughter.

If you've never heard the famous jack in the box voicemail do yourself a favor and listen to it.

it'll change your life.

(If you want to listen to the audio file on its own, you can google it and download it into iTunes, but this was the best thing I could find to hyperlink it to.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tough Stuff Melts Down

I love being a girl. I really do. I love wearing pink. I love purse shopping. I love wearing makeup, even though it melts off in 2 seconds under the Texas sun. I love having fresh flowers in my living space, even though I can't keep them alive. I love singing and dancing and all things that sparkle.

I try to be an independent girl though. I've dealt with snake bites and bloody armadillos. I clean up dead insects in my theatre. I managed to maintain my composure the other day (well, almost) when I saw a cockroach the size of a uhaul. My job requires me to climb 40 foot ladders and carry around 50 pound weights. I drive a stick shift. I used to teach a high ropes course. I feel confident that most of the time I'm a pretty tough cookie.

But we all have our cryptonite.

And last night, after working 35 hours in 3 days, and having a total of 9 hours of sleep in between, the feeling of fresh dog poo on my bare foot was mine...and the cause of an embarrassing episode of shrieking, screaming and hysterical laughter. While I completely acknowledge that this following video falls far short of flattering, I decided to be tough and immortalize it anyway.

"Miss Sister"...oh this is too good.

I have a minor fascination (obsession) with nuns. What began as a simple respect for what they do and how they live has become a self-defining joke, but one that I claim nonetheless. If you're going to have a fascination with nuns, you gotta own it.
I think it started right before I moved to Switzerland for school and was told I would be living either in an apartment or a fully functioning convent. I begged my study abroad advisor to put me in the convent. 10 minutes after convincing him that I was serious, he told me that because the demand for living there was so low, it shouldn't be a problem. When I arrived in Geneva, Switzerland all starry-eyed and hauling two 50 pound suitcases, I was led by a beautiful, older Irish woman to my new the Red Light District. I thought there must be some confusion. How do you request nuns as neighbors and get prostitutes? But alas, there was no mistake, just God and His infinite sense of humor that never ceases to amaze. A short trip to Rome though and a couple hours in the Vatican and I was good to go.

I was always amazed by nuns and the thought that they have got to be incredibly strong, amazing women full of courage and grace. I started vocalizing this a few years back. A whole lot of laughter and a few weird looks later, I've become the "nun girl" and have been showered with amazing gifts like, "Nunzilla" and a "Nunchuck," a slightly sacrilegious yet fabulous little plastic catapault complete with little plastic nuns that you can chuck across the room. It's just one of those quirky things about me that people for the most part have seemingly come to appreciate.
All of that being said, this absolutely made my day.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Prayers and Pogo Sticks

or "poto sticks" if you were one of the two people lucky enough to witness that moment of stupidity...

C.S. Lewis has a brilliant view of our time on earth and how it relates to what awaits us in heaven...

"...If I find in myself a desire which no explanation in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage."

There are moments and experiences that I go through that remind me of this and it's usually because they are so important and so magical that they make me think, "this is just a suggestion of the real thing." And just the thought that what I'm experiencing at the time is just a fraction of the majesty to come leaves me utterly speechless.

Last night was one of those times and I pray that it's etched onto my heart so deep that I never forget it. A few of the amazing people I know gathered for a time of prayer and worship, led beautifully by this fabulous lady. Six (seven for a short time :) ) of us spent some amazing time gathered together, resting with God. We raised our voices in prayer and song and laid our hearts on the table. I don't know about anyone else in the room, but I dropped some baggage at Jesus' feet last night and it was incredibly freeing. We took communion together and welcomed God's presence into the room. It was truly just an awesome time of sharing and community with some awesome people.

When you start giving things up to God that don't really belong on your heart, all of a sudden you find yourself feeling incredibly lighthearted and carefree in a way that's indescribable. And when you get there, well then it's time to enjoy one of the greatest gifts God ever gave us...and laugh your head off. So laugh we did.

People have a lot of ideas about the Baptist folk, but I can attest to the fact that if you walk into a Baptist Association office, there's bound to be some fun waiting there for you, and if you're lucky enough, a rake, a scooter and a pogo stick.

AHAHAHAHA...I'm going to get killed for this, but it's so worth it. Kate, have to get on the pogo stick BEFORE you start jumping.

Charlotte and Emily, rockin' the pogo sticks...

I can't help but think heaven is a whole lot like last night. A community of people who love each other coming together to give their hearts over completely to God and discovering what it truly means to be freed by His grace and mercy. And then living together in joy, laughter and worship when the weight of the world has literally disappeared.

I have a pretty good feeling Jesus will bust out a pogo stick too.

And won't that be funny.

Well today has been hilarious...

1. I totally almost got run over by one of those little moped situations. I was in a parking lot and as I stepped out from behind a van, this tiny girl riding a bright blue moped at about 40 miles an hour comes flying at me. Right about the time my life flashed before my eyes she swerved and very nearly wiped out. I felt bad for a fraction of a second until I realized that none of this was really my fault. Once she regained control of her scooter on steroids and I had verified that I hadn't peed myself, she kind of shook her head a little and said, "WHOA!" before speeding off. Interesting. Truth be told I was mildly disappointed. For all the effort and terror, actually getting hit by one of those things would have made for a really entertaining post.

2. Following the moped incident, I came to work to discover that our one maintenance man is on vacation until Monday. We have numerous events in the theatre over the next few days and hundreds of people will be in and out of there meaning it's going to be filthy. So, this morning I saddled up our new backvac...

I don't know if that's what they're actually called, but it's what I call it. It's basically a vaccuum in the form of a backpack. Oh, and our other one got stolen. Yes, really.

...and went to town vaccuuming my little heart out. As I'm moving in and around the theatre I'm failing to notice that the cord is getting completely tangled around the seats. Before I know it I have wrapped myself and my backvac in a cocoon of a bright orange electrical cord and the sound guy for our current show looks at me and says, "What DON'T you do around here?" I found a dollar under one of the seats though.

3. My boss sent our front desk girl an email regarding a luncheon that we have tomorrow. The email states that they would like us to provide, "pickles, cheese slices and hot dog wieners." Is that how all Texans refer to hot dogs?

I love days that begin like this and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's destined to get funnier.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What has sustained me the past few days...

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

This my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flame

I will bring praise, I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice, I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

This is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on its way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand

I will bring praise, I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice, I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

All of my life
In every season
You are still God

I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favour and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I've received I will sow.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm telling myself that a little dose of homesick is good for everyone long as it's combined with a healthy dose of grace.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

For those of you who may have been afraid that I had not yet really experienced Texas living...

The other day I was standing near the back door, taking clothes out of the dryer when Kelley's mom starts beating on door yelling, "Open up! Open up!" I freaked out and couldn't possibly imagine what was wrong. It was early in the morning, the sun was shining and it seemed to be relatively peaceful outside. I dropped my clothes, opened the door and screamed when she pushed through carrying this...

That's right my friends, an armadillo, and about a 20 pound one at that. I took off running, yelling, "Why on earth did you bring that thing in here?!" She practically chased me through the house saying, "Take a picture! Hurry!" I was like, are you kidding me...

But, being the nice person that I am, I grabbed the camera, silently praised God for a good zoom and took this picture of her with her new friend.

Once she deemed this picture satisfactory she took our new friend, this prehistoric descendent of the oldest species of mammal still in existence and placed it in the backyard. She came back in sweating and out of breath and I was waiting with the obligatory, "What on earth was that all about..." question. She proceeded to describe in great detail about how a whole bunch of inbred dogs next door had found this poor thing and ganged up on him (hence the blood). When she realized what was going on, she went into wilderness superhero mode, cleared the front yard fence in one jump and started kicking dogs in the jaws until they gave up the furry-bellied dinosaur. She then went on to say, "If you ever pick up an armadillo make sure you get it toward the middle of the shell. They have really big teeth and claws because they dig up roots to eat."

I appreciate that people who don't know me very well think that for any reason under the sun I would pick up an armadillo.

Two days ago I got a letter from my beautiful friend Linda who is serving with the Peace Corps in Togo. Linda is a real Texan and periodically her correspondance serves to enlighten me with important "Living in Texas" tips. This letter, written weeks prior to the afore mentioned incident just happened to say, "Oh, by the way, don't touch armadillos. They carry leprosy."

Rest assured, all 3 of you who read this that I did not in any way touch that armadillo. But, if for some reason one of my limbs randomly falls off my body mid-conversation with someone, I suppose we'll all know why.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

An Unfinished Song...

lyrics i started long ago. looking forward to the day when i finish them and sarah kelley helps me tie it all up. :)

rains of mercy stream down my face
and with each drop i'm more lost in your grace
i'll dance to the beat of the thunder
if i can just stay here with You forever

it's Your spirit that surrounds me
Your love is all that grounds me
so let the lighting strike where it may
because every storm reminds me that i'm okay

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I have a hole in my foot...

On a normal day, I have a fairly high tolerance level for pain. It's a frequently commented on fact that I hurt myself a lot and there's rarely a day when I'm not sporting some bruise, burn, bump, cut, scuff or slice. What I simply cannot handle though is foot pain. I just can't deal with it. And God, in His infinite wisdom and more infinite sense of humor, gave me a lot of foot issues, I think just to test my limits.

About a year ago, my plantar's warts came back on the bottom of my feet, right where I'd had them cut out and frozen off about 15 years ago. I tried to ignore them. I prayed that they would go away. I pretended they didn't exist. But when it started hurting just to walk and my boss was affectionately referring to me as "fungus foot" I broke down and made the first of what has turned into numerous appointments with the podiatrist. And so begins my story...

The first appointment wasn't too bad, aside from the fact that the doctor touched my feet and yelled at me for wearing flip flops. She looked at the warts and told me that rather than attempting to cut them out or freeze them, she would rather give me a shot of medication that takes about four weeks to kill them and then they could just be "scraped" off, for lack of a less gross word. I was only going to be able to do one foot at a time though so I left there knowing that I had one appointment down and at least 3 more to go.

A week later I went back, fully prepared for my one shot that would take care of two warts in my one foot which would make it a little tender for a couple hours but then I figured I would be well on my way to pain-free pedestrianism.


When I was taken back to the room I was put on a chair they lifted up about three feet off the ground so that when my leg was stretched out in front of me, my foot would be at the doctor's eye level as she sat. The podiatrist's assistant who I'm still not convinced was more than 15 years old brought me a stuffed lion and said, "Here, you're going to need this." Fabulous. Well, then I started getting a little nervous and the butterflies in my stomach went all kinds of crazy when I saw the size of the needle the doctor whipped out. The needle was going to be used twice to administer anaesthetic into my toe and the ball of my foot. Apparently, it would be too painful to just put in the medicine so my whole foot needed to be numb. At this point, I realized my shot count just soared from one to three and every muscle in my body tensed up.

As the doctor put the huge needle into the bottom of my toe I unintentionally held my breath. She looked up at me and said, "Now I'm going to have to put this in just a little bit at a time. Oh, and keep breathing." I cringed every time she pushed the syringe down but after about two minutes my toe was well on it's way to la-la land. She picked up the next syringe, tapped me on the inside of my foot and said, "I'm going to put this right here and I need to put it into your nerve center." In the fraction of a second that I had to process what she had said before she actually stuck the needle in, I freaked out. She put the needle into the side of my foot and looked up and said, "Are you doing okay?"

I smiled and said, "Yeah, I'm great!"

"No you're not, you just turned completely white." Right about that time the room started spinning, the doctor started fanning me and pushed some magical button on the wall that caused two assistants to come in and start shoving Saltines and bottled water down my throat. I've never passed out before, but I have a pretty good inkling that I was teetering on the edge of conciousness.

The doctor and one of the assistants left the room to give me time to get blood back to my head and the poor girl who was left in there kept asking me questions about where I work and what I like to do. While the rational part of my mind knew that she was just trying to keep me functioning, an irrational and hallucinating part of my mind wanted to throw her into next week for making me think. After one walk to the bathroom, a near throw-up moment, and about 20 more minutes, the doctor came back and said she was going to have to pick up where she left off bringing my shot count up to four.

I endured the last of that anaesthetic injection and waited patiently for it to take over my foot but secretly hoped it would come up through my entire bloodstream and numb my embarrassment of the incident that was playing out. The doctor injected the actual medicine with two very small, normal-sized needles bringing my shot count up to five (three shots to numb my foot, two to put in the medication...yeah, chew on that for awhile.) After a few encouraging "this happens all the time" talks and another scolding for wearing flip-flops, I left the office with shaky hands and my head hanging in shame.

Four days ago it was time for my follow-up visit to "scrape" out the now dead warts on my right foot and the medicine injection in my left. They were prepared for me this time...a teddy bear and a bottle of water awaited my arrival. My nerves were so bad I nearly walked out of the house without a shirt on that morning, but I too went prepared with my iPod playing and my phone in my hand. I figured text messaging would provide a brilliant distraction. The removal of the warts on my right foot was uncomfortable and painful, but didn't cause any extreme distress. Then it was time for the shots on the left foot. I turned my music up loud and watched as the podiatrist pushed a needle the size of a paperclip into my foot and I sat patiently as she injected the anaesthetic bit by bit. At one point she looked up and said, "You're turning white again. Here, fan yourself with this." Awesome. This just solidified my spot as "that girl."

After she took out the needle she left the room for a few minutes to let my foot go to sleep. I sat there and watched as blood rolled down my foot and dripped onto the floor. I thought it would probably be a good idea to wipe it up but then realized that I was three feet in the air and my "good" foot had a hole in it so I couldn't step down anyway. I started getting a little panicky and did what any self-respecting person in my position would do. I text messaged Charlotte Coffee and said, "There's blood running down my foot and the doctor left the room. What do I do?"

"Calm down, deep breaths, don't'll be fine."

I wrote back and said, "Well I am fine. But there's blood all over their floor."

"That's their problem."


So I continued to sit and wait until someone came in and cleaned up my foot and the floor. As the podiatrist was injecting the actual medication I said, "Why did you become a foot doctor?" She looked up, I think a bit surprised at the question and said, "Well, it was something different. There were hardly any women in podiatry at the time and I knew I wanted to be a doctor, but I didn't want to be in life and death situations. I didn't want to go home and try to get to sleep every night wondering if I had done something wrong that cost a person their life." She sort of looked off into space for a moment, nodded her head and said, "I kind of wish I had become a surgeon, but I can't complain. Podiatry has been good to me." We exchanged a smile and I realized that I was probably being treated by a really remarkable person whose story I would never really know.

Right about the time I started feeling a little sentimental, her whole demeanor changed as she looked at the floor next to my chair and said, "I know you didn't wear those flip-flops back in here! Seriously Jennifer, I'm doing all this work for nothing if you don't get rid of those things. Please get yourself some new shoes and throw those in the trash." She walked out of the room shaking her head at my twenty-something stubborn ignorance and I followed out a few steps behind, hanging my head, but thankful for our momentary connection.

Three appointments down, and one more to go...

Contagious Laughter

So often I have those days where I just need a tear-inducing belly laugh and this video never fails...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tiny Horses in Texas

I have noticed during my ventures through the country land in central Texas that people here seem to have an affinity for itty bitty horses. Not ponies. Tiny horses. I think I had previously seen a tiny horse about once in my life and my memory is placing it at some carnival. I never really thought of them as real creatures but more as an accident. Some genetic mutation gone bad. But here, they roam in pastures, on farms...and in neighborhood backyards. There's a farm that I frequently pass on my way back to Oohland and if I catch it at the right time, there are probably a good 50 petite ponies grazing through a large pasture. That, although it still catches me a little off guard, makes sense to me. This on the other hand, does not make sense to me...

For many weeks my boss has been telling me about her neighbors across the street, a woman and her brother with her two small children. The exact occupation of the woman is unknown, but there are clues that lead to a pretty solid idea of at least what general industry she works in. She typically doesn't leave for work until about 7:00 p.m. and although it's hot in Texas, it's not hot enough to account for the lack of clothing she sports each evening. Her children wander from house to house during the day looking for other kids to play with while mom's gone and the uncle sleeps. And they have a lot of money. Well, at least enough to have a pool, a trampoline, a few pitbulls and a tiny horse. A tiny horse which stays in their fenced in backyard in a neighborhood in a suburb of Austin. My boss didn't seem to understand why this was odd to me. Her exact words were, "It's like having a big dog that stays outside." No, no it's not. The stories about this family roll in every couple of days, but the most recent one was by far the best...

My boss was on her way home from work and came around the corner to find her neighbors sitting out on the porch while the children were in their underwear playing in the front yard. Fair enough, it is Texas and as we all know, it's hot here. The pitbulls were bouncing around through the flower garden like kittens after a few too many leaves of catnip which, okay whatever. And the tiny horse, apparently feeling a bit oppressed by his backyard fencing and needing some fresh air, was out front, tied to the corner stop sign.

I've never really had the best imagination which always seemed a bit detrimental to my love for writing. But seriously, who needs an imagination when you live in Texas.