Saturday, January 30, 2010

A time for it all...

A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot
what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to
gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun
A time to search and a time to give up
as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw
A time to tear apart and a time to sew
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:2-8

And there's little sense in wishing it was a time for something other than what it is.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Henri Nouwen of the Day

Not a day goes by that I don't want to post the little gem that I receive in my inbox. Most days, I resist temptation, but some days, I feel a little shove that says that other people will want to read it too. So, for all my Nouwen lovers out there...

Forgiving in the Name of God

"We are all wounded people. Who wounds us? Often those whom we love and those who love us. When we feel rejected, abandoned, abused, manipulated, or violated, it is mostly by people very close to us: our parents, our friends, our spouses, our lovers, our children, our neighbors, our teachers, our pastors. Those who love us wound us too. That's the tragedy of our lives. This is what makes forgiveness from the heart so difficult. It is precisely our hearts that are wounded. We cry out, "You, who I expected to be there for me, you have abandoned me. How can I ever forgive you for that?"

Forgiveness often seems impossible, but nothing is impossible for God. The God who lives within us will give us the grace to go beyond our wounded selves and say, "In the Name of God you are forgiven." Let's pray for that grace."

Beautiful Song

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another post by someone who's not me...

I know I've been posting a lot of people's stuff. But it's just so darn good lately...

Guest Post by Seth Godin: Why is it So Difficult to Be Human?

from | Anne Jackson by Anne JacksonToday, these words are given by the ever generous Seth Godin.

His guest post is titled “Why is it So Difficult to Be Human?” and it was written just for you. I think he shares a very profound question that many of us have asked on this blog before.

He also contributed on many other blogs today, of which you can find a list here.


Why is it so difficult to be human?

What does it mean to be human anyway?

A key part of being a real person – a human being – is showing up, especially when it’s difficult, particularly when it’s frightening to do so.

Showing up counts for a lot. Why? Because it’s scarce.

Someone who will comfort you on the phone in the middle of the night, then throw on a bathrobe and drive to your house. That’s precious.

Someone who tells you the truth.

Someone who exposes herself, is present, connected and willing to let you hurt them.

These are the things we seek out as people, and yet we rarely find them. And yet we are rarely willing to be this person.

We built institutions, organizations and religions to make it easy to avoid being this person. The rules and principles and jobs and buildings and code words and admonitions… they all exist to protect us from the truths we’re afraid of and from the interactions we’d rather not have.

They organize us, and organization is a wonderful way to be protected.

We go to work and we hide. We hide behind the religion of our brand or our team or our Dunder-Mifflin employee manual. We go to a foreign country and we play tourist, because actually going there is too difficult, too risky, to exposed.

Showing up counts for a lot.

When we show up, we connect, we make change, we are transparent, and yes, we’re human.

Caring hurts sometimes, and that’s inconvenient.

The good news is that more than ever, value accrues to those that show up, those that make a difference, those that do work that matters.

The good news is that digging deep and fighting that voice that begs us to shut up instead of show up really pays off now, in more ways than we can count.

Faith in yourself, in your friends, in your colleagues and most of all, faith in your ability to impact our future is the best strategy I know.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Community, a Quality of the Heart

The word community has many connotations, some positive, some negative. Community can make us think of a safe togetherness, shared meals, common goals, and joyful celebrations. It also can call forth images of sectarian exclusivity, in-group language, self-satisfied isolation, and romantic naivete. However, community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another. Community is the fruit of our capacity to make the interests of others more important than our own (see Philippians 2:4). The question, therefore, is not "How can we make community?" but "How can we develop and nurture giving hearts?"

~Henri Nouwen

Sweet Post


Confessions of a Crybaby

Tears come easily for me. I tend to cry more the older I get, but all tears are not created equal.

There's the mommy crying that gushes out when the kids are sleeping and I think about how sweet they are, how they're growing up, and how I can't stop it.

There's the I-haven't-dealt-with-my-issues crying, where I bust out during a Hallmark commercial, or the mad tears that come when I can't articulate what's really bothering me. I also tend to cry when I'm embarrassed.

I've got artsy tears when I'm moved by someone's creativity, empathy tears when I hear of someone's hard time, and sometimes I have the crazy tears that come for no reason at all.

Perhaps the most meaningful tears are ones that show up because of another person's kindness toward me, especially when I've done nothing to deserve it. I try to pay attention to those.

Several months ago, I learned of a prayer ministry at our church. A group of faithful people come to the church building to pray in the quiet of a Sunday morning before all the hustling begins. Sometimes they pray over general sections or perhaps over each row. And sometimes? Sometimes they pray over individual seats.

Individual seats. Maybe even my seat.

When I heard that, the tears made an immediate entrance, completely unexpected. As I glanced around to make sure no one noticed, I forced myself to consider why. It came to me a short time later and I teared up again at the thought: There are people who believe prayer really makes a difference. And they believe on my behalf.

Not to imply I don't believe. More, to highlight the unmerited favor God has toward me as displayed through people in the smallest of ways: a caring stranger praying for another, getting nothing in return. I sat there in my seat, wondering if a faceless, faithful someone had prayed for me that very morning.

As much as I fight the tears, I am beginning to see them as tiny teachers, small messengers of deeper truths, evidence of a soul that has been moved by another. I am learning to be thankful for them. And to remember to carry tissues.

What brings tears to your eyes?

by Emily

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Loneliness vs. Solitude.

Sometimes, a 300 square foot, so-called apartment, more like a room, amount of space is homey and cozy.

And sometimes it seems huge and empty.

Sometimes it's peaceful.

And sometimes the quiet screams at me and keeps me awake.

Sometimes it's a refuge.

And sometimes I run from it.

Sometimes it's a place for solitude.

And sometimes it's lonely.

It's always the same place. It never changes. But I do.

Finding Solitude

"All human beings are alone. No other person will completely feel like we do, think like we do, act like we do. Each of us is unique, and our aloneness is the other side of our uniqueness. The question is whether we let our aloneness become loneliness or whether we allow it to lead us into solitude. Loneliness is painful; solitude is peaceful. Loneliness makes us cling to others in desperation; solitude allows us to respect others in their uniqueness and create community.

Letting our aloneness grow into solitude and not into loneliness is a lifelong struggle. It requires conscious choices about whom to be with, what to study, how to pray, and when to ask for counsel. But wise choices will help us to find the solitude where our hearts can grow in love."

~Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Picture Day

Thanks Char for noticing this one for me!


Oh dear...this just busted. me. up.

Mostly because I can't stop thinking about how many kids are out there that no one is searching for.

God, will you take drastic measures to shatter our hearts for these children, do whatever it takes to break our hearts for them, help us to know our role and most importantly Lord, may you speak to their hearts, help them to know that YOU Lord are in pursuit of them and will get them Home.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

There is no one but us...

"There is no one but us. There is no one to send, nor a clean hand, nor a pure heart on the face of the earth, nor in the earth, but only us, a generation comforting ourselves with the notion that we have come at an awkward time, that our innocent fathers are all dead—as if innocence had ever been—and our children busy and troubled, and we ourselves unfit, not yet ready, having each of us chosen wrongly, made a false start, failed, yielded to impulse and the tangled comfort
of pleasures, and grown exhausted, unable to seek the thread, weak, and involved. But there is no one but us. There never has been. There have been generations which remembered, and generations which forgot; there has never been a generation of whole men and women who lived well for even one day."
— Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

Friday, January 15, 2010

Home...or as close as we can get...

Little bit of cheesy coming at ya...but hey...I can rock cheesy...

I was emailing my friend yesterday.

And as I was emailing, this is what was coming out of my fingers...

I've been here long enough for things to change. I've been here long enough for circumstances to change. I've been here long enough for friendships and people to change. I've been here long enough for people to come and go. To move in and out and within...

I've been at work long enough to see someone go from the day they were hired to the day they resigned.

I've been in my apartment long enough that I want to start rearranging.

I've been at my church long enough to have gone in and out of multiple ministries.

I've been going to the same coffee shop long enough that the people who work there recognize me in the mornings.

I've been in this city long enough to know the traffic patterns, the shortcuts, and which stoplights take the longest.

I've been here long enough to call it home.


Is this home on the days when all I want to do is jump in my car and drive the fifteen hours to get to the room where I lay in my bed and my cat curls up behind my knees? And where the smell of my mom's coffee is what gets me out of bed in the mornings?

Is this home on the days when my heart hurts for the mountains in the east. For the way it smells in the woods when it rains?

Is this home when I want to go sit on "my" dock at Lake Geneva?

Is this home when I look at a picture of a little girl named Avery who I really don't know all that well in the grand scheme of things but would love to watch her grow up? When I want to be in the presence of people who "knew me when"?

I think it is. I think home is something different than I ever thought it was.

I'm not away from home when I'm away from Austin anymore than I'm away from home now that I live 15 hours away from St. Louis, or farther from Ohio. Austin can be home regardless of the moving and shifting that comes simply with the rising and setting of the sun each day.

I think home is that place in your heart where the best of all your memories collide, the place where your mind goes when it needs to feel safe. I think home is the collaboration between all those people and places past, combined with those around you in this moment, who are growing you for the next step. Home is that place we take ourselves back to where everything stops spinning and we rest in every memory we know of stability. And if that's true, it goes with us, wherever we are. Home is not a place that I can run to or run from; it finds me wherever I am.

Hometown Glory: Part Six

"Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life's undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room."
~Harriet Beecher Stowe
The Schrader Family

Don't even know where to begin on this one...but here goes...

This is not the first time the Schrader family has come up on this blog. I wrote another post about Jordan and Mrs. Schrader here.

I have actually known the Schraders since I was a kid...but I don't really remember that. My mom and Kathy were girl scout leaders together, but what that meant for me was that there was often a gaggle of leaders over at our house and I would go hang out in my room and read. :)

Jump ahead to my Summer Theatre Workshop days...

Amanda and Ryan, the two oldest kids, were in the first two shows I co-directed, "Cinderella" and "Bye, Bye Birdie." By the time "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" came around, the little one (who is not so little anymore) was old enough to audition. All three were truly talented for their age and they were fun to work with. We cast Jordan that year as our Sally Brown. It was a huge part for a little person who had never been on stage before. But luckily, Jordan IS Sally Brown and she was still young enough to not get nervous or self-concious. I love putting kids that age on stage because whether they do well or not is fairly irrelevant to them as long as you promise to get them ice cream after the show. They're too young to worry about what happens if they forget a line or miss a step and their world simply keeps turning regardless of what happens in the show. That lack of nerves and carefree spirit is what causes them to do so very well. Point being though, I could count on all three of those kids. They were sweet, did what they were supposed to, and I could trust them on stage.

That summer was a tough one though. There were a lot of challenges...some that I remember and some that I don't really. But most of the summer was really hard. And it was the presence of Mrs. Schrader during the day that held me together. It was her presence that calmed me down when I was stressed, that critiqued what needed critiqued and told me to let go of what I needed to let go of. It was Mrs. Schrader who I could throw projects to like figuring out how to make a kite fly on stage and know that it would get done well. I firmly believe that a successful show doesn't happen without the director(s) having at least one of these people and here's why...When you don't even have time to ask for help, they have things done for you before you even know you need them. They somehow show up on the days that you don't have time to call and say, "I need you here," because somehow they just know.

After that summer I was pretty much attached to that whole family. I adored the kids and missed them during the school year when I didn't get to see them as often. I so looked forward to the rare opportunities I had to spend time with them. The next summer we did "Peter Pan" and Amanda was our Wendy, Ryan was a pirate and Jordan was our Tiger Lily. And again, it was Mrs. Schrader that I could lean into every day, knowing that she was going to show up all the time. We had a great summer and by then our friendship had grown into one that wasn't based solely on the presence of Summer Theatre Workshop.

When I went to college we stayed in close contact and when I came home for the summer got to do the community theatre shows with the family, except Mr. Schrader because we haven't gotten him on stage yet. But I still think we should :).

After I had moved on from directing Summer Theatre, Amanda was one of the kids we chose to take over. For the first few years of college I stayed fairly involved, and Mrs. Schrader continued her role as a costumer. Some of my favorite memories were going over to their house to "help" with costumes (I can't sew) and us spending hours and hours up just talking while she actually did all the work. 3:00 in the morning conversations were not uncommon. And we talked about anything and everything. There was a lot going on in my life during that time and simply having someone not only listening, but really encouraging me to share was a tremendous blessing. She asked questions that broke down a lot of walls and moved me to a place of openness that I had avoided for a long time.

When my mom moved back to St. Louis, it was the Schraders who so graciously opened their house to me, letting me stay in their sweet little attic every time I went home. And it felt just that home. Even with the psycho cat who slept on "my" bed and attacked me if I attempted to join her. It was people who knew me, kids who I was loving watch grow up, and two people who treated me like I belonged there.

Over the years our shared love of theatre and things like scrapbooking made for a lot of amazing and hilarious memories, most notably our 24 hour scrap session and a road trip to New York where I won two tickets to see Wicked in the front row and was SO thankful to have my girl Amanda there to see it with me.

As I sit and type I realize that I could go on and on...from fresh ink cards, to the long story that caused me to start calling Mrs. Schrader Betty, to my 21st birthday, to skipping out on Shipoopie during a few performances of "The Music Man," to squirrels, to their trips to St. Louis to see my shows, to a director's chair this summer for "The Wizard of Oz" and everything in between.

But I will wrap it up here, being most thankful for the families that you aren't born into, but for people who embrace and love you like you've been there all along.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

From Unceasing Thinking to Unceasing Prayer

Our minds are always active. We analyze, reflect, daydream, or dream. There is not a moment during the day or night when we are not thinking. You might say our thinking is "unceasing." Sometimes we wish that we could stop thinking for a while; that would save us from many worries, guilt feelings, and fears. Our ability to think is our greatest gift, but it is also the source of our greatest pain. Do we have to become victims of our unceasing thoughts? No, we can convert our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer by making our inner monologue into a continuing dialogue with our God, who is the source of all love.

Let's break out of our isolation and realize that Someone who dwells in the center of our beings wants to listen with love to all that occupies and preoccupies our minds.

~Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Proverbs 15 and 16

Little gems from the Word this morning...

One to make me smile:

"A gray head is a crown of glory;
It is found in the way of righteousness."
Proverbs 16:31
(I must be REALLY righteous, and have been from a young age.)

And others to let me know He's listening:

"A joyful heart makes a cheerful face,
But when the heart is sad, the spirit is
Proverbs 15:13

"A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger."
Proverbs 15:1

"A soothing tongue is the tree of life,
But perversion in it crushes the spirit."
Proverbs 15:4

"He whose ear listens to the life-giving
Will dwell among the wise.
He who neglects discipline despises
But he who listens to reproof acquires
The fear of the Lord is the instruction
for wisdom,
And before honor comes humility."
Proverbs 15:31-33

And the most precious:

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the soul and healing to the
Proverbs 16:24

Hold My Heart

By: Tenth Avenue North

How long must I pray, must I pray to You?
How long must I wait, must I wait for You?
How long 'til I see Your face, see You shining through?
I'm on my knees, begging You to notice me.
I'm on my knees, Father will you turn to me?

One tear in the dropping rain,
One voice in the sea of pain
Could the maker of the stars
Hear the sound of my breakin' heart?
One light, that's all I am
Right now I can barely stand
If You're everything You say You are
Won't You come close and hold my heart

I've been so afraid, afraid to close my eyes
So much can slip away before I say goodbye.
But if there's no other way, I'm done asking why.
Cuz I'm on my knees, begging You to turn to me
I'm on my knees, Father will you run to me?

One tear in the dropping rain,
One voice in the sea of pain
Could the maker of the stars
Hear the sound of my breakin' heart?
One light, that's all I am
Right now I can barely stand
If You're everything You say You are
Won't You come close and hold my heart.

So many questions without answers, Your promises remain
I can't sleep but I'll take my chances to hear You call my name
To hear You call my name

One tear in the dropping rain,
One voice in the sea of pain
Could the maker of the stars
Hear the sound of my breakin' heart?
One light, that's all I am
Right now I can barely stand
If You're everything You say You are
Won't You come close and hold my heart.

Hold my heart, could you hold my heart?
Hold my heart.

This kid is unreal...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Prayer from a friend...

What sweetness (and humor) comes from the people God puts in our lives...

You have created and You have designed by Your power and Your wisdom. You know all things, You hold all things together in the palm of Your hands. I thank You that we can trust You, believe You. Trust that You are good and that You walk through life with us, never leaving, never forsaking. We believe that Your promises are true and GOOD and that Your love and Your word satisfies deeply. I thank You that you know us intimately. God I pray for my sister Jen. Be with her today and give her strength for the battle. Lord I pray that she would put on her armor so that she can stand firm against all strategies of the devil. We know that we are not fighting a fight against flesh, but of the unseen rulers of evil. God I pray that she would put on every piece of Your armor so that she will be able to resist the enemy in this time, so that in the end she can see You still standing. I pray that she would stand her ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of Your righteousness. That she would put on shoes of peace that comes from the Good News so that she will be fully prepared. I pray that she would hold up her shield of faith to stop these fiery arrows of the devil. I pray that she would put on salvation as her helmet and take her sword of the spirit with is Your word. ( be looking FINE!!!) Father give her strength to fight this, God, knowing that You go before her in battle. You have already won. I pray that she would claim that victory.

Lord I pray that You would examine her heart. You know everything about her. You know when she sits and when she stands. Even when she is far away You know her thoughts. You see her travel, You see her when she is at rest at home, You know everything she does. You know what she will say even before she says it. You go before her and You follow her, You place Your hand of blessing on her head. This knowledge is too wonderful to understand! Lord remind her that she can never escape Your Spirit, that she can never get away from Your Spirit. Everywhere You are there. Your hand will guide her and Your strength will support her. Even in the darkness she cannot hide from You. To You the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to You.

God remind her today that You made all the delicate, inner parts of her body and you knit her together in her mother's womb. You watched her as she was formed in utter seclusion, and she was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw her before she was born, every day of her life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are Your thoughts about Jen. They cannot be outnumbered! We can't count them, they outnumber the grains of sand!
Lord comfort, Father wrap Your arms around my sweet friend and remind her of Your love for her. I pray that she would be found in You and in You alone. You are the only one that matters.
We love You sweet Jesus!

Great post...

By someone I've never met, but whose words and stories I have come to look forward to and appreciate every day...

“MAAAM!” I can hear her calling me through the closed doors and through the sleep I’m fighting to wake from.

In green the clock burns my eyes: 2:45. I hear her again, muffled. “MaAAaMa!”

I recognize that my three-year-old is calling for me. As I swing my legs out of bed to find her, her calling is louder and more desperate.

“What is it honey?” I ask as I find her sitting up in bed, crying. “Was it a bad dream?”

“I dreamt someone came and stole Night-Night-Kitty.” She wailed. “Where is she? Can you find her?” Naomi wanted me to find her beloved stuffed white cat.

At 2:53 in the morning, I tip-toe past the dog snoring on her bed to search the downstairs. I peek into the dark playroom. I look in the toy box. Night-Night-Kitty is nowhere. I suspect that she might left in the playhouse in the backyard but I am NOT going to venture barefooted into the moonlit yard at this hour.

I return with her favorite Polly Pocket doll to deflect the sting of not finding her cherished stuffed animal. “Honey, I can’t find her. But I’m sure she’ll show up in the morning.”

But she won’t be comforted. The irrationality of half-believing a nightmare coupled with the reality of not having Night-Night Kitty in hand is too much for her to handle. She can’t see a way out. And at 3am, nothing feels fixable.

I coax her into bed with us and she finally falls back asleep, clutching her tiny doll in one hand.

In the morning, she forgets the Kitty and when she does finally look for her, her effort is not nearly as concentrated and her need not as acute as the night before. She looks for her casually throughout the day.

Because nothing seems as bad in the morning.

Maybe it’s time that helps. Or the sunlight. Or even the noise and activity of a new day that helps to blunt the blow of heartache. But either way, it’s never as bad in the morning.

The morning is always better than the tears that wake me up at 1:14am, 2:25am, 4:08 am.

The height of the pain is usually in the dark, in the middle of the silence, when it’s just me and my thoughts and the panicky feeling when I know I can’t, in my sanity, endure it.

So I can’t believe the nightmare. I can’t be taken in by the silent house, the fear that builds in the dark. I can’t give in to hysterical worry.

And neither can you.

Just wait. The morning will be there soon enough and even though the problem has not changed, you have. Because you will get up, you’ll splash some water on your face and you will do what you need to do. The sunrise and the day will help. Your responsibilities will help. And you will be strong enough because you rely on the One who gives strength.

You won’t be afraid because its a new day.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Days like today...

my heart can be healed by nothing less than this...

"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns
for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is
no water.
Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better
than life,
My lips will praise You."
~Psalm 63:1-3

"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit
Psalm 51:10-12

Thankful for a message that reminded me of this yesterday and so thankful for friends that feed me sweet words such as these:

"In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge;
Let me never be ashamed.
In Your righteousness deliver me and
rescue me;
Incline Your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of habitation to which I
may continually come;
You have given commandment to save
For You are my rock and my fortress.

O God, You have taught me from my
And I still declare Your wondrous deeds.
And even when I am old and gray,
O God, do not forsake me,
Until I declare Your strength to this
Your power to all who are to come.
For Your righteousness, O God, reaches
to the heavens,
You who have done great things;
O God, who is like You?
You who have shown me many troubles
and distresses
Will revive me again,
And will bring me up again from the
depths of the earth.
My You increase my greatness
And turn to comfort me."
~Psalm 71:1-3 and 17-21