Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Christian Music

One of the many ironies of my life, is Gospel Music. There was a time when it really was one of the only genres I could truly claim to know. We weren't allowed to listen to secular radio stations growing up, or maybe more so, my family simply didn't play secular music in the house- period. I remember being at school dances mouthing, "watermelon, chicken dinner" hoping no one would notice I wasn't familiar with the song. The song that apparently, was the next thing to slice bread.

Gospel music became somewhat of a default music, seeing as at church, once you hit double digits, you were initiated into choir. It was all day on Saturday (and some weeks, if it was near a holiday, it was everyday a week all evening). We would arrive Saturdays at 10, and we would not get back until dinner time. Really. No exaggeration. So naturally, gospel was in my head through out the week.

I had very little awareness to Contemporary Christian music. In fact, when I thought Christian music, I thought gospel music. I do not recall any KTIS's or Praise FMs... all I knew was KMOJ's gospel hours (which back in the day had not yet been demoted to only Sunday mornings, or sandwiched between Lil Wayne during rush hour).  The contemporary songs I did know I called, "Campus Crusade Music". The worship music played at meetings from my parent's organization. And secretly as well as naturally (in my mind) it was white people's music, and it seemed sad and corny at all the same time.

The irony comes in that my introduction and soon following love for many contemporary christian artists, came while attending a Historically Black College in D.C. I remember visiting the dorm room of a friend I had recently made and she had a radio station playing in her room. I immediately identified it as the Crusade music and I thought, " Really? You?" She eventually made me a CD of her favorite songs. Soon my room too was full of this sad/corny music that almost literally put bible verses to melody and drew me to my knees.

By my Senior year at college, at any given time my room was  filled with gospel music, Christian Hip Hop, "contemporary worship" and Jazz. And you know what I found, every genre moved my Spirit to worship. I learned powerfully that Christian music is not about a genre at all. It is about being Christ centered and bringing you to a place of awe before God. Nothing else.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Autumn's Peak

You helped me see fall for what it is
Not sure how I never saw it before
Like unsaid love, like unknown love
now found, admired, coveted
its the foretaste of a fantasy discovered true
where animals talk, gravity gone and trees bright as the sun

Streets of gold can't be far from fall
I see it in every bronze tone color leaf
I smile at the thought
rainbow trees all year long, no longer in need of rain
whose branches bend to make way for my coming
and sweep my back as I leave
who say goodbye and ask if I spoke with the King that morning

I smile at the thought of all that truth boldly peeking
through yellows, reds and oranges
as if He's winked at all the world
and for once I get His meaning

Monday, September 26, 2011

A gift

According to the "Five Love Language" test in the back of the book, "Gifts" are low on my totem pole as love affirming agents. I suppose it makes sense. Generally, I do not crave gifts, nor am I compulsive or a consistent giver of gifts, though I appreciate them and thoroughly enjoy receiving and giving a good surprise.

Matt bought me a car. An Acura TL actually, with a navigation system. I married a man who's love language embraces gifts as a pretty close third to acts of service and physical touch. He surprised me last night, at around 10pm. My brother-n-law had driven it down from the used car lot and parked it out front on his behalf.

I do not understand the psychology of it completely, but alls I know is I felt like in a matter of 30 minutes I went through the 5 stages of mourning. I was completely struck by unbelief, and kept wondering why I was saying thank you every time it came out of my mouth. Then I got in it and I thought, "Why me?" Why did you buy me a car? I didn't even ask for a car? Then as Matt preceded to share with me his payment plan, I got just plain angry. Do you know how many churches we could build for that? How many bibles we could send to China? (In a perfect world, this stage would have lasted only as long as the others...) Before we closed our eyes to sleep, I moved into sadness. Sad that I wasn't embracing my circumstance with a little more joy- not to mention making my husband feel like dirt at the same time. I mean, its not like we could sell it back- right? And what woman doesn't want her husband to surprise her with her own (almost) brand new car with no strings attached?

And so here I am, in the final stage of acceptance. In fact, I would say at about 11 this morning when I was out in the cool breeze with the sun shining, cleaning the inside (the lot must have been in the middle of a desert) and windexing the illegally tinted windows (my favorite feature btw) ... I fully recovered from mourning.

Its growing on me. The steering wheel cover I put on and the little vanilla trees hanging off the vents help. I think I'll keep her.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Firstly, I would like to give due recognition to Hannah Galloway, who in the gracious giving of her time entertained my desire to learn how to knit this past summer. I put the knitting to action on our 12 hour flight home from Mexico in July but all too often Matt would point out that the scarf was gradually getting bigger, in the wrong places-?  A couple days ago I picked the awkward ball of scarf I had started a couple months back and started over. Thanks to Youtube, I relearned casting on and binding off, and below you will see my latest concoction... A neck warmer!

Gramma let me use an old button she had lying around. Yes, I am going to wear it- at my husband's football game in fact. No, it is not a scarf ( the photo is deceiving, it is not long enough to tie). And no, you cannot order one. Though, you could probably pick one up from a french boutique for $50...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Faith, Glory and Thanks

I have had one really bad week in the last 2 months of unemployment. One bad week of self-centered ingratitude for my sweet situation of quiet, and slow and peace and worship. My ingratitude manifested itself mostly in frustration toward Matt... I have since asked for forgiveness.

I don't say that "1 week" arrogantly, in fact, seeing as many of those "good weeks" were full with family events, weddings, showers and sunny days of lakes and exercise... they were just busy enough that I may have found joy in something else other than my salvation. But as the last few weeks have settled down and the cool chill of fall has set in, and I find myself on my couch, quiet, more often than not, I have been forced to make the Lord my portion.

Hallelujah for ALL things that force us to make the Lord our portion. I was on a walk the other day, and I started thinking through Hebrews 11 in my mind. I kept getting stuck on on the second verse, "By [faith] the men of old gained approval" By NOTHING else. By faith alone they gained approval. The chapter goes on to list men and women of faith, who from their faith storehouse, did miraculous things that had generational effects. And what was their faith in? Later in the chapter it tells us their faith was in a coming world (heaven), and everything in this life was put against that backdrop. They did everything in preparation for what was to come- eternity with their Savior.

I laughed out loud when I realized how backwards the Western world has success. We spend our time building elaborate business plans that rack in money, or we position ourselves so that we can gain power, in all different facets. We build ridiculously unjustified lists of who we want in a mate, and we truly believe that other person will complete us. If you read that list of "men of faith" in Hebrews, they didn't start out with what they wanted to be, or where they wanted to go. Their heart was set to be right with God, and in that do whatever, at all costs, would bring him glory- they acted in faith, obedience and with courage. And from that they freed slaves from bondage, built strong kingdoms, saved nations, and unknowingly made way for the coming king, Jesus. They were diligent to follow the Lord's leading and it made life worth living.

Then I recalled the scripture in Philippians that tells me, " Whatever it is, whether eating or drinking, do everything unto the glory of God." And I felt like I could see 2 words floating in front of me: Faith and Glory. ALL THINGS, must be done in faith, for His glory, and how can I do that without a thankful heart? No matter what the circumstance, NOTHING and NO ONE changes my eternal reality, that I am an heir to the throne and daughter of the universe's creator (Rom 8).

So my last week has been full of thanks, as I joy in believing that he has given me this time for the purpose of His ultimate glory ... as I seek to take my shower in faith and for God's glory. To take my walk, to make dinner, to do laundry, to job search, to blog, to talk with Gramma and to read... somehow in faith for God's glory. I literally say, please take glory in this. And I feel like he has answered me on multiple occasions with, "I am taking it."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

God is good

God is better than everything I can imagine. And I have a BIG imagination.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I led a seminar once (I am still unsure of my qualification and expressed that to the requestor) on time management for a group of college students at a christian conference in Chicago. Ironically enough, 6 months later, completely unrelated to the first, I was asked to lead a time management seminar at a secular conference for college students. Go fig?

One of the points I made in both presentations, was that death empowers time. And some wise person, some while back realized this and created bumper stickers stating "Life is short, so live x..." If life were not limited, we wouldn't need time tables, and we wouldn't have an urgency to live life meaningfully. This rings true for both the believer and non believer. Time makes us think twice about what we do during the day.

But I am realizing that for one person, time is a clock that we watch and dread as we see days and years pass before us, and become overwhelmed by the bucket list items left unchecked.  And for the other, time is like the New Years countdown, and the 10, 9, 8 just seems to be happening in slow motion... In both scenarios, there is adrenaline, there is urgency, there may even be bucket list items that they desire to have completed before the clock strikes... but do you see the difference?

Each of us is one of those persons, and we live from an abundance of how we view our time, our clock. As a believer, I know that in 1 Corinthians 15 it tells me that death has no place for me, in fact, Jesus conquered death and in that proved that his promise of eternal life for me is real. So if death is not of God, and the urgency of time is a result of death, then when Christ reclaimed my life through his death, he also reclaimed my time.

Maybe this is what Ephesians 5:16 means when it says, "Redeeming the time because the days our evil..." Redeemed means to "take back" "to compensate good". Jesus has taken back my time and for it has given me good things to do. It is his, for his doing, for his glory, "to make much of Him" as my pastor would say. I am over figuring out how to make much of myself. It gets old.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


My first real provoking of thoughts around death, was an incident during winter of my Sophomore year in high school. I was on the bus, pulling away from school, and I witnessed through the window (along with the other half of the bus that had moved to my side, students pushed up against me to get a look through the frost) a boy had come behind another boy and body slammed him. The victim's head hit the concrete curb and we watched as the boy's eyes rolled back and he began to seizure from the head trauma, a river of blood flowing from his head, slipping down the ice and staining the plowed snow around him.

I wanted to cry. I journaled that evening about it, but it was the only consolation I received, because the school staff and administration never made any mention of it, and never followed up with updates. I guess they chalked it up to another bad fight that didn't deserve attention. But I was sure he had died. And no one seemed to care.

I remember being overwhelmed for a time about how fleeting life is, and how unfair it can be, and how hopeless it can be. Yes, I thought these things at 16. I remember those feelings almost as clearly as I remember the hope filled certainty of my salvation during my Sophomore year in college. I remember there being moments I was so overtaken by the truth of the gospel that I literally told God I was ready, if he was, to go. And I meant it. Yes, I meant it, at 20 years old.

I still believe that, that death has no place with me, that I will never taste it, I will never feel its sting. My readiness takes on different degrees these days, with my husband in mind, friends who don't believe yet, my unborn children... but I know it is truth, when I am quiet and prayerful. And I know that God will not allow anything to happen, not even my death, without him receiving full glory in it. And that, is consolation enough for me.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fork in the road

I feel like I am at an internal fork in the road... I can choose to work or I can choose to work. One work would be traditional, and the other entrepreneurial. I don't believe there is a wrong or right direction to go, but there is nonetheless a direction to be chosen. One I have been down, and one I haven't.  The funny thing, is that I am in a waiting season for both. Meaning, there is not a clear opportunity in either, so when I close my eyes, I can literally envision these 2 roads forking, but for the moment, I am just staring at them. What I do know, is that when I move, it will be in a direction fully and faithfully. I believe that God is sovereign, and in that, I believe he will allow me to make a sound decision.

It reminds me of an illustration I was given once regarding the topic of predestination in salvation. (Not that my salvation is riding on my work dilemma in any way... just a mere connection of wandering thoughts). I will retell it as I remember it...

"A man sees a doorway, and above the door is a sign entitled, "Eternal Life." The man thinks for a moment, and decidedly walks through it. Upon doing so, he turns around to close the door behind him, and above that side of the doorway there is a sign entitled, "Chosen."

Hebrews 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please Him. For he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I was listening to an old Piper archive- that audio, and my own cross referencing thoughts to Galatians has me appreciating the process in which God used the holy law to point us to himself. In fact, I see now how, it is completely in line with how he has created humanity.

We do not come out of the womb knowing gospel. We don't understand propitiation and atonement and sinful nature. But slowly, we learn truth that points us to the ultimate truth. No, the 2 year old does not get Jesus as Savior, but he can understand that when he does something wrong, he is pinched, or his toy is taken a way.  And in that, mom has subconsciously taught that in this household, there is standard. It is preparation for understanding that our faults have consequences.  It is preparation for Romans 3:23 and how we do wrong when we know right. When he is 3, he cannot understand atonement, but he knows that when he doesn't treat his sister correctly, against the household standard, he must ask her for forgiveness. It is preparation for the idea of atonement. You get the idea...

What does this have to do with the Holy law? All of mom's rules, all her "do this" and "don't do that" it is ultimately (at least for the Christian mom) to teach us to follow Jesus. To trust him and to obey his word. The rules were a pointer. In the same way, God gave his chosen people law. Ridiculously meticulous laws, that seemed impossible and unnecessary so many times, but the law was just a tutor...just a pointer to the Christ to come.  Every detail, from the veil, to the inner courts, to the sacrificial lamb, to the manna that fell teaching daily dependence.

The law of the Jews is necessary, not to justify us, but to point us to the legitimacy of Jesus. (Gal 3:24) The law reveals how every thing about our nature screams for Jesus. The law is a means to an end, nothing more. And that is why Jesus could so simply say, that he didn't come to condemn it, just fulfill it. (Matt 5:17) And with that, we honor it- the commandments of Jesus. Like we honor the speed limit after a policeman has graciously let us go without a ticket, or our parole when the judge should have given us 10. We obey out of duty AND of thankfulness. It is the difference between hypocrisy and Christianity.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The 22

I started a poem in my head probably 2 years ago or so, while on the bus going to work. I still remember it, it went: "On the 22, in between hoodies and corporate suits..." I didn't get much farther than that. But it seemed to speak volumes in such few words. I was thinking of it again yesterday on my way to an interview downtown where the metro transit system once again chauffeured me.

I honestly think the bus is one of the most grounding pieces of my life. It is the only place where crackheads and business professionals sit next to one another for an extended period of time, at least, on the 22, that goes from Brooklyn Center through North Mpls before hitting downtown. It is comical even- to watch people, stiff and uncomfortable, pretending to be enthralled with something out the window, when really they are counting down the minutes that the smelly homeless person next to them will switch seats or get off. I may not be guilt free on that one either. Its reality.

It is the only place where I am guaranteed to hear outlandish conversations of who cheated on who, police mistreatment, job trouble, if the homeless shelter was maxed out again the night before, and get called a Bitch by a 17 year old because I didn't give him my number ( and he has no idea my husband was his teacher last year). 

I sincerely, really am thankful for the 22. The 22 reminds me how grateful I am that people are viewed through God's eyes, and not mine. That every "outlandish" conversation or concern, every person I secretly deem "beneath" me in my heart-is not outlandish and beneath God. Don't get me wrong, there are some messed up people on the bus. But the 22 reminds me that I am one of those messed up people. That just because I don't smoke crack, or have a same sex preference, or just because the bus is a choice for me not a doesn't give me the right to cut my eyes, or snoot my nose. The 22 keeps me humble. AND, it gets me downtown in 20 minutes with free parking.