Thursday, April 23, 2009

Psalm 143:11

"For the sake of Your name, O Lord,
revive me.
In your righteousness bring my soul out
of trouble."

A little gem of a verse that God laid on my heart and I can almost feel it as it scurries down into the depths of my heart, breaking through walls and burying itself in the darkest place it can find. I can imagine it, this tiny little light as it just sits...and waits...and shines, knowing that in time it will melt away the hardness around it.

For now I will pray this prayer every day, knowing that every day of this life will be just a step on a journey, a constant battle for renewal, but there will be a day in which I will be made completely whole. I will be completely revived. The work will be done and my soul will be troubled no more. And constant rest and peace will be found in the presence of my King.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Blogging Fail

I realized lately that I've done a less than stellar job not only of blogging, but of blogging about what's going on in life in general. I do try to share many of the silly ridiculous happenings of my life, the things that "don't happen to normal people," but I miss a great opportunity to just share what God has done and continues to do in my life. While I firmly believe that all of those silly little things that make me laugh are from Him, He's done some much more powerful stuff and this would be one small way for me to share it. So with that, I will try to do better. And as I fall behind, please feel free to yell at me.

With that said, my grandmother told me today that I am a master of getting clothes on and off. Kinda awkward, moreso because she's absolutely correct. Years of quick backstage changes will get you that title I suppose.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Why I love my job

I just legitimately typed these words for our monthly events calendar:

May 8th
HypnoBro Presents: Have You Ever Been Hypbrotized?

...i'm just going to leave you with that.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"Your love wakes me up from the things I fear most..."

I know many people have already posted this video that was played at our church on Easter Sunday, but it truly is amazing, especially when you know some of the people in it. I've heard some of their stories. I've heard about the fires that they've walked through. And I've seen the change on the other side. God is bigger than all of it, whatever "it" is for you, God is bigger.

Cardboard Stories from The Austin Stone on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Blast from the Past

I just found this. I wrote it almost exactly two years ago. In so many ways I've changed, grown. And in so many ways I'm in the exact same place.

March 26, 2007

Lately my days have been checkered with 80 degree weather, a cool breeze, new patio furniture, good coffee, melancholy music, flip flops, and 2 new Bibles that I dove into headfirst with the intent of finding answers and encouragement for the days ahead. Maybe it's the vitamin D, maybe the excessive caffeine intake, maybe the new playlists I've created on my iPod, but I have been feeling really hopeful the past few days. Not in a way that I'm any less scared, or any less sad to leave those I love and care about, but in a way that I feel like I'm sensing the bigger picture of how things can and will turn out.

I decided that now was a good time to get into the book of Job, a book that is incredibly devasting and overwhelmingly inspirational at the same time. I thought it was a book that I should read at a time in life when things seem to be going very well, when Job's suffering and circumstances would enlighten rather than dishearten me. I am far from disheartened and in reading it I have found much more enlightenment than I had anticipated.

Job was an incredible man of incredible faith and God put him to the test. God allowed Satan to shake the foundations of Job's faith in indescribable ways. Job's animals, workers and children were killed. He was struck with horrible sores and ulcers. He was so miserable and grief stricken that he cried out to God, mourning the day he was ever born. He questioned God and demanded answers.

"Why didn't I die at birth,
my first breath out of the womb my last?...

What's the point of life when it doesn't make sense,
when God blocks all the roads to meaning?"

In reading all of this, I remembered a time when I was very young in my faith. I wasn't raised in a church. When I started going, I remained respectful, but I was unconventional. I had no sense of tradition. I spoke about God as if He were my best friend. When I was upset with Him, I said it aloud, to the dismay of many older Christians. I clapped my hands loudly during worship. When I prayed I started out, "Hey God, how's your day been?" Over time, as I immersed myself more in the church setting, I came to believe that my faith was uncontrolled, immature. Comments were made. My excitement about going to church was railroaded when someone told me that the only reason I liked church was because I hadn't been going since I was a baby. I felt small, insignificant, and sorry that I must be an embarrassment to the God that I adored. So for a time, I learned how to shape up. And in that time, I lost my adoration for the God who loved me as I was and had created me in all my wonderful childishness. I began to take Him and my faith for granted the way so many others had. And I lost track of Him for a number of years. But I never stopped missing Him and the real relationship I had with Him.

In reading Job, I have found that God I lost so many years ago. The God who understands and often allows my suffering so that I may become a more trusting and faithful servant. I found the God who chuckled when my small self said, "Hey God, what's up?" I found the God, the father figure, who is sympathetic to my despair and forgiving when I cry out to Him for help and answers. Job fought with God, but He didn't turn his back on Him. And God responded accordingly, never dismissing Job as merely immature and faithless, but explaining to him,

"Do you know where Light comes from
and where Darkness lives
So you can take them by the hand
and lead them home when they get lost..."

He reminded Job that He is in total control. But He did not punish Job for questioning his circumstances, as so many children do. He did not cast Job out for grieving and despairing. To the contrary, he restored Job's blessings and then doubled them.

Reading Job has not only reminded me of the times that caused the change in my young heart, but has also made me yearn to get back to my unceremonious faith. I don't know that I ever completely can. The world has taken its toll on me and my circumstances have aged me, but I will do what I can to see God the way I did when I first found Him. As a father, a teacher, and a friend. My best friend.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday's Fabulous Moment (well, one of them)

My boss' office is about 10 steps from my desk. Why she ever goes through the trouble of calling me, I'll never know. But today, she did have a reason. She needed to talk to me about something that others didn't need to hear. Nothing big, nothing bad, nothing nearly as exciting as it sounds like it would be.

That's not the fabulous moment.

I had just finished having an allergy-induced sneezing fit when my phone rang. I picked it up and said, "Yes ma'am?" And she said, in a low, monontonous voice, "Hey Sneezy...are you alone?"

i. lost. my. business.

I laughed even harder when she said, "Gurl, what are you laughing at?"

I said, "Para, who starts a conversation with, 'Are you alone?' Especially, 'Hey Sneezy are you alone.'"

She was like, "Oh..."

And then, she lost her business. I love collective losses of business.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I don't want to go through the motions

"Our something to say winds up being the things we'd rather not talk about."
~Matthew West

This might hurt
It’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care
If I break
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just ok
Is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions

No regrets
Not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love
Make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something

Take me all the way
Take me all the way
Take me all the way

Friday, April 10, 2009

I don't care if you read what I write, but please read this...

Pretty phenomenal post from Stuff Christians Like

Thinking you're naked.
from Stuff Christians Like by Prodigal Jon
I don't want to brag, but I'm pretty awesome at applying band-aids. And make no mistake, there is an art. Because if you go too quickly and unpeel them the wrong way, they stick to themselves and you end up with a wadded up useless mess instead of the Little Mermaid festooned bandage your daughter so desperately wants to apply to a boo boo that may in fact be 100% fictional.

Half of the injuries I treat at the Acuff house are invisible or simply wounds of sympathy. My oldest daughter will scrape her knee and my 3-year old, realizing the band aid box is open will say, "Yo dad, I'd like to get in on that too. What do you say we put one on, I don't know, my ankle. Yeah, my ankle, let's pretend that's hurt."

But sometimes the cuts are real, like the day my 5-year old got a scrape on her face playing in the front yard. I rushed in the house and returned with a princess bandage. As I bent down to apply it to her forehead, her eyes filled up with tears and she shrunk back from me.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"I don't want to wear that band-aid." She replied.

"Why? You have a cut, you need a band-aid." I said.

"I'll look silly." She answered.

Other than her sister and her mom, there was no one else in the yard. None of her friends were over, cars were not streaming passed our house and watching us play, the world was pretty empty at that moment. But for the first time I can remember, she felt shame. She had discovered shame. Somewhere, some how, this little 5 year old had learned to be afraid of looking silly. If I was smarter, if I had been better prepared for the transition from little toddler to little girl, I might have asked her this:

"Who told you that you were silly?"

I didn't though. That question didn't bloom in my head until much later and I didn't understand it until I saw God ask a similar question in Genesis 3:11. To me, this is one of the saddest and most profoundly beautiful verses in the entire Bible. Adam and Eve have fallen. The apple is a core. The snake has spoken. The dream appears crushed. As they hide from God under clothes they've hastily sewn together, He appears and asks them a simple question:

"Who told you that you were naked?"

There is hurt in God's voice as He asks this question, but there is also a deep sadness, the sense of a father holding a daughter that has for the first time ever, wrapped herself in shame.

Who told you that you were not enough?

Who told you that I didn't love you?

Who told you that there was something outside of me you needed?

Who told you that you were ugly?

Who told you that your dream was foolish?

Who told you that you would never have a child?

Who told you that you would never be a father?

Who told you that you weren't a good mother?

Who told you that without a job you aren't worth anything?

Who told you that you'll never know love again?

Who told you that this was all there is?

Who told you that you were naked?

I don't know when you discovered shame. I don’t know when you discovered that there were
people that might think you are silly or dumb or not a good writer or a husband or a friend. I don't know what lies you've been told by other people or maybe even by yourself.

But in response to what you are hearing from everyone else, God is still asking the question, "Who told you that you were naked?"

And He's still asking us that question because we are not.

In Christ we are not worthless.

In Christ we are not hopeless.

In Christ we are not dumb or ugly or forgotten.

In Christ we are not naked.

Isaiah 61:10 it says:
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.

The world may try to tell you a thousand different things today. You might close this post and hear a million declarations of what you are or who you'll always be, but know this.

As unbelievable as it sounds and as much as I never expected to type this sentence on this blog:

You are not naked.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009


Okay three more great things...

1. Yesterday I was leaving my apartment complex and was fortunate enough to witness two guys trying to fly a kite out of their third story window at the apartment complex across the street. And by "trying to fly a kite" I mean it was hanging out the window and every time it would get some air they'd slap each other proudly and look at each other like, "Aw, snap it's doin' it!" and then when it would inevitably hit the wall of the apartment two seconds later they'd bust up laughing. I can't help but wonder if they planned to fly a kite out their window at 6:00 on a sunny Thursday evening.

2. I got an invitation to a Boyz II Men concert this morning. Enough said.

3. Conversation with a Middle Eastern man who just called my office phone:
Me: Thank you for calling the Carver Museum and Cultural Center. This is Jennifer.
Him: ineedtoasksomeonetohowmuchspaceineedtogetpermitforlawnto...
Me: I'm sorry what?
Him: ineedtoasksomeonetohowmuchspaceforpermitineed.
Me: I'm sorry sir, you've got the wrong number.
Him: NO! This is city of Austin.
Me: Yes sir, it is, but this is the Carver Museum. We can't help you with your request here.
Him: Then I need to know who I call.
Me: Unfortunately sir I can't help you with that. I'm not altogether sure what you're asking about so I don't know who to tell you to call.
Him: This number I call is 3674?
Me: No sir, you called 3670.
Him: I need to call 3670.
Me: No, you did call 3670.
Him: okaybye.

10 seconds rings. I don't answer. I get this message, word for word:

"callmeback. 825 4589"

*Phone number changed to protect the innocent.


Words of encouragement

I love words. I love them I love them I love them. It's the way God speaks to me. Words are the best gift I've ever been given. Some days it's unexpected cards from friends. Some days it's a random voicemail that cracks me up. Some days it's long letters from Africa. Some days it's scripture. Some days it's a the words of a sermon, or the transcript of an important speech or an email from a 6th grader or a text message or a facebook comment. And some days it's just the simple lyrics of a song with a sweet melody that pray the prayer you need to pray...

oh, great god, be small enough to hear me now
there were times when i was crying
from the dark of daniel's den
and i have asked you once or twice
if you would part the sea again
but tonight i do not need a fiery pillar in the sky
just wanna know you're gonna hold me if i start to cry
oh, great god, be small enough to hear me now

oh, great god, be close enough to feel you now
there have been moments when i could not
face goliath on my own
and how could i forget we've marched around
our share of jerichos
but i will not be setting out a fleece for you tonight
just wanna know that everything will be alright
oh great god, be close enough to feel you now

all praise and all honor be
to the god of ancient mysteries
whose every sign and wonder turn the pages of our history
but tonight my heart is heavy
and i cannot keep from whispering this prayer
"are you there?"

and i know you could leave writing on the wall
thats just for me
or send wisdom while i'm sleeping,
like in soloman's sweet dreams
but i don't need the strength of samson
or a chariot in the end
just want to know that you still know how many hairs
are on my head
oh great god, be small enough to hear me now

~nichole nordeman

Thursday, April 2, 2009

and it just keeps gettin' better...

Okay so no joke right after I wrote my last post my boss asked me to head over to our main office to drop something off for her. This never happens, but I was thankful for the opportunity to go enjoy the beautiful weather, windows down and music blaring. I was driving down 1st street and was stopped at the light at 1st and Congress and looked up just in time to see this woman completely bite it in the crosswalk for absolutely NO apparent reason. Like just walking along and then BAM! she's on the ground. Thankfully she didn't have anything in her hands so she didn't eat concrete but she's gonna have a good couple of scrapes.

Then I got to the office and I was walking through the grassy area in the front and I was approaching these two abnormally large squirrels right. I just kept walking knowing that when I got closer they'd take off, cuz that's what squirrels are supposed to do. Well one of them did in fact head up the nearest tree. The other little fella didn't move at all and I'm walking up and he literally starts moving toward me. I was like, okay really? So I just kept walking and I get to a spot where I am honestly within inches of this guy and he straight up lunges toward my leg. My heart stopped as I had images of this rabid freak of nature eating me for lunch. My instinct was to start kicking at him but I thought that would make it worse and I didn't know if squirrels were like cougars or something and it would only tempt him more if I ran. So I stopped dead in my tracks and felt extremely relieved when he turned around at the last second and very casually walked off. I know I always say that I can put up with anything if it makes for a good blog story, but I'm not sure that I would have been terribly tolerant of being medicated for rabies because an excessively aggressive squirrel was feeling a little crabby.

I may be back...

So for awhile there, it seemed I had a bit of a dry spell when it came to "these things don't happen to normal people" type moments. No, scratch that completely. I had plenty of those moments, but none that I have been able to find humor in just yet. And some that I have no intention of finding humor in. That being said, I saw a few things yesterday that made me smile real big...

1. A guy who had JUST wiped out while riding his bike and picked himself up, dusted off, got back on the bike, realized it was no longer functional, got back off and just took off walking with the bike riding alongside. I honestly did feel bad for him. But seriously, you gotta chuckle when people eat concrete. I can say that because I do all kinds of foolish things of that nature. For those of you who remember my Jen "SuperWoman" Corzine moment at camp that left me face down on the ground (literally) and all kinds of scraped up and bleeding, you are welcome to laugh at the memory. And in fact, I saw another kid the day before that bite it and almost get run over and another one today that very nearly wiped out. I'm going to start a new campaign. "Put On Training Wheels, Austin."

2. A cowboy (boots, hat, jeans, the walk, the works) walking down the street in downtown Austin with a giganticly fat weiner dog. Seriously, I bet this thing weighed about 30 pounds. Picture it. Yeah...enough said.

I also had a moment where my boss and I both got up and walked out of the office at the same time, making the general small talk that comes with that kind of occurence. Then we stopped talking, kept walking, side by side for awhile. I finally looked at her and said, "Uh, where are you going?" And she looked at me kind of shifty and said, "To the bathroom...where are you going?" I said, "To the bathroom." Then there was this long pause while we kept walking...I looked up again and said, "This is kind of awkward." And she said, "Yeah it is." And then we stopped talking again and ventured into the bathroom together.

Yep...I'm back in the game.

All I Want by Stephen Smith

All I want is my frustration to be replaced with signs of spring
All I want is confirmation that You're gonna see me through this thing

All I want is, all I want is, all I want is You
All I want is, all I want is, all I want is You

All I want is just a window to let me know there's light outside
All I want is confirmation that what I'm feeling isn't right

All I want is, all I want is, all I want is You
All I want is, all I want is, all I want is You

All I want is that You find me and I'd have nothing more to say
All I want is pure reflection of the One who's standing right in front of me

All I want is, all I want is, all I want is You
All I want is, all I want is, all I want is You