Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Good Women Project

"Good women are a dying breed, and the Good Women Project is doing something about it.

We’re here to tell you what a good woman is, why you should be one, and how on earth you can. Too many of us have given up on being a good woman, and frankly, the idea just isn’t too appealing the majority of the time.

But, that’s a lie. Good women have the most fun, the best sex, and most fulfilling lives."

Good Women Project

What Men Really Want

Haha! I love this guy! And...I want one of these. ;)

What Men Really Want

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wonder Class: Session 2

Week 2 of 'Amazed: Living a Life Full of Wonder'

We reviewed the main points of last week, and people shared stories of moments they were reminded that we can live like God is in the room. There were so many fun stories! Week 1 Information

Remember that one of our goals is to live with more and more of an awareness that God literally is found in our everyday lives. He's written all over creation. Our humanity understands a physical reality. We experience time, temperature, states of matter, and as we grow up, we begin to need the safety of anything we can know to the degree that mystery, imagination and our other core reality can become difficult for us to inhabit. The problem is...our humanity is also eternal!! We cannot know the extent of a fully human life without embracing our First Story. (The death and dying process referred to in another blog reveal evidence of this.) Our physical and rational reality exists within and is infused with the reality of God. We can...and are designed to...interact with Him ALL THE TIME. And...we can use our physical senses and our individual wiring of talents and abilities to do so.

Hence...the Multiple Intelligences.

But before we go into that... :)

One thing I will doing any everyday exercise of experiencing God and ascribing wonder to doesn't need to be as "difficult" as our rational mind can tell us. C.S. Lewis reminds us of simple gratitude. "I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation." The experience of things that we find amazing (even the simple things) can actually become worship when we give God thanks in the moment. "Thanks" as though He's in the room!!!...because He is! Other practical exercises include asking yourself what you are thinking about in the moment, what it reminds you of, what you are feeling, what you imagine, etc...and then turning that into a praise of sorts. It's actually rather fun. :)

Back to the Intelligences...

It is wise for any educator to understand the Multiple Intelligences (See Howard Gardner for more information) because it helps you to understand the ways that students learn and thus the ways to make your content relevant to their reality. What it also helps is experiencing God! You are already wired with some modes of understanding. They are unique to you...and God speaks to you in them.

I've included a link for a free assessment. Find out your top 3 and then spend some time in one of those strengths and give God some praise in your awareness of Him.

Multiple Intelligences Test

Here's how one of my "Intelligences" gets turned into Wonder...

Swimming with Dolphins

I'm so proud of this kiddo and happy for him too. It's SO bizarre that I used to have to get after him for ear piercings...Haha!

Friday, June 24, 2011

True Colors

The Dip

I went swimming with one of my neighbors this week. She loves to go, but our beach doesn't let people swim alone. I went along to "follow the rules". ;) I have to be honest...I'm not a huge water lover, BUT...I loved going!! Yep, I might be growing a new delight. Anyway, we were swimming back and forth along the shore, and it hit me...

I'm so small and fragile! My head bobbing up and down in this mass of water much like a cheerio in a bowl of milk. that decent re-sizing...I remembered that God is neither small nor fragile. In fact, I'm securely nestled in the palm of His hand.

Nature has great lessons and reminders.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wonder Class: Session 1

Week 1 of 'Amazed: Living a Life Full of Wonder'

The first order of business was to identify the lack of wonder that marks our lives. When we were younger, we saw the world with such magic. As we grew...and as our culture progressed into a diagnostic approach to living...we categorized and anaylyzed everything to the point that we were robbed of mystery, inspiration and possibility.

We need to recapture our wonder. We need to look at our everyday lives with the kind of awe that reconnects us to the eternal. We need to see the fingerprints of God and rejoice...all possible in our daily lives.

“Live with the wonder of a child…” [From a song by Mark Schultz]

"Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe. Delight me to see how Your Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not His, to the Father through the features of men's faces. Each day enrapture me with Your marvelous things without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of it all." [-Heschel from Ragamuffin Gospel by Manning]

“The spirituality of wonder knows the world is charged with grace, that while sin and war, disease and death are terribly real, God’s loving presence and power in our midst are even more real.” [Manning from Ragamuffin Gospel]

One of the ways to step towards a life full of wonder is to live as though God is in the room. BECAUSE HE IS!!! When we encourage or compliment a friend, we say things like, "You are so compassionate" or "You make everyone feel like they have a friend." When we speak of God, we say things like, "He is faithful." or "He is good." Our own words reflect how much we function as though God is far away...even though He is closer than that friend we would compliment. We need to step back into the reality that our compartmentalized life is really within an eternal reality. Our timeline, while also physical, is infused with the abundant, eternal life that Jesus revealed. 

“If we cannot ‘practice the presence of God,’ it is something to practice the absence of God, to become increasingly aware of our unawareness till we feel like man who should stand beside a great cataract and hear no noise, or like a man in a story who looks in a mirror and finds no face there, or a man in a dream who stretches his hand to visible objects and gets no sensation of touch.” [-C.S. Lewis from The Four Loves]

So, we are starting small...because He is in the details.

1. Make something that you can carry with you through the day that will remind you that God is in the room. We made bracelets, but others may like the idea of a post-it note or something else. THEN...interact with Him in that moment.

2. Begin a list of some of your Favorite Things. Choose one that's do-able, and do it! it WITH God. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

"He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it." ~Clarence Budington Kelland

In reality my Dad didn't just let us watch him live as we were growing up. He modeled AND invited us into his conviction. Still does. :) It's been a privilege to watch him love people...and be loved by him...he does so with abandon.

Love you, Dad!

The Wonder Class

Here we go! A great challenge is before me. I get to teach an 8-week class on wonder for our church Growth Groups (i.e. adult Sunday school). It's called "Amazed: Living a Life Full of Wonder". Oh my gosh...I'm so excited! Our lives are far too compartmentalized that we miss so much of God around us in every moment. That lack of reality robs us of daily worship! It's time to turn ourselves toward Him as He's written over all of creation...and be amazed. It will be interesting though. It might be a little "outside the box" for some...but whatever it is, hopefully a great adventure! :)

Lessons from a Funeral: #3

In facing death we reveal that we are eternal.

Death makes no sense to the human heart. Of course there are the purely emotional and relational bonds that are broken...even a mercy for the suffering. Some of the experienced pain is attributed to these. At the point of letting another go, however, our heart reveals a exceptional irrationality in the parting...irrational according to the rules of the heart...a heart designed for the eternal.

In a purely physical world it makes sense that things come to an end. Everything breaks down. Everything dies. Those are the rules of nature, making space for the new and fueling its delivery with a contribution of matter back into the system. Chemical reactions related to attachment recede having no catalyst. The cycle continues.

In eternity everything lasts forever. Ties between the divine and humanity proceed without end. They are meant to. Love creates, permeates and fuels such life.

I find it interesting this broken world that tends to define and limit according to the physical...our grief reveals an assumed quality of human life that runs deeper than states of matter and chemical reactions. In our deep sorrow we reveal an eternal story written on our hearts. One that exposes our diamond roots...beginnings that say this life should not have ended.

Thankfully, that story beckons to us once can if we will allow it. It calls us back to our first reality beyond what we experience with our senses. One that infuses the Now with the More. One that follows bigger and deeper rules...and offers such hope, peace and joy alongside the grief...promising that all ends are beginnings...that one day we will see each other again...

It makes me wonder...what if we could linger in the truth revealed in death? What if we could hold fast to the notion that life is contained in Life? That my day exists in a Day that has no end? That everything is fuller, deeper...more real...than my physical assumptions ever dreamed possible...

The answer?...We can. The grieving heart reveals it as so.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ever After

One of my favorites! A Cinderella re-make. :)

Nature Walk and Heart Moves

I went for a walk last night. A blend of a workout and a nature-walk. Every now and then I like to take a little time to focus on what's going on around me...the smells, the sounds, the sites. And, of course, due to a quirk of mine, I like to touch everything. Haha!...EXCEPT for poison ivy. ;) I decided to venture off last night and walk through an area that had a lot of prairie grasses. I just walked, listened and ran my fingers over the tips of the grasses.

Pure heaven.

And it got me thinking...

As I continue to "become" in my faith and subsequent humanity, I want to be like a prairie grass. (Just go with me on this.) I want to have good roots...firmly grounded...but I don't ever want to have too rigid a stem that I can't move with the wind.

Yep, figurative, but I want my heart to be sensitive to and move according to an eternal rhythm.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Lift My Hands

Lessons from a Funeral: #2

Mysteries are not absent a good Father.

We have put so much effort into answering all of the questions that life throws our way. There is a "safety" in knowing...though more a facade than a reality, I believe. Unfortunately, all of our "definitives" make us ill-equipped to wade into the mysteries (if it is possible to prepare for such things). Facts bring no comfort there.

Walking into mystery as a child of a good Father is a matter entirely different. A soulful "knowing"...the kind that is less necessarily factual and more relational...allows "deep to call unto deep". While painful, there is known presence...His presence.

In death I have often found myself incapable of worship. The lack of heart-satisfying answers prompted such bitterness towards God that the notion of praise became unbearable. I suppose some of that was due to the anger that comes with grief. Much, though, came from the notion that God should have some good reason for the tragedy...and in the lack of such evidence I have judged Him wicked.

Last night was different.

While intensely painful...seeing a mother kiss her baby before closing the casket, feeling their pain...the relationship into which I've been ushered with the good Father gave me more a sense of His presence than a need for answers. In the mystery of this death I experienced that we were not alone. He was thickly with us. I wanted not to hide but to be fully present too.

Life has its mysteries...some of which are tragic. Those places, while lacking reason and answer sometimes, are not an abyss for the heart. There is a good Father there whose heart weeps as our hearts weep, showing us that alongside pain, there can be peace.

Lessons from a Funeral: #1

It's ok to acknowledge and live from the heart all of the time.

Sitting in the funeral last night, I realized something. Everyone at that event came with an expectation that hearts should, would and could be exposed. In fact, it was encouraged. Freedom of expression...mind, body, spirit...unhindered. My startling realization was that much of life after that moment does not carry the same permission and appreciation.

But it should.

Because that is humanity in its purity.

Real people...sharing real the midst of sorrow or joy...infused with and surrounded by great love.

Community Matters

I'm so amazed by how many people came to the funeral from my church. People who didn't even know my cousins and their little one directly. It's making me alter my definition of 'community': Laugh with those who laugh, weep with those who weep...And do so with a 'herd' mentality. AMAZING friends!! :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Testify to Love

"...even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me..." Psalms 23

The first time I heard the song "Testify to Love", it was in a television show called "Touched by an Angel". The specific episode was about a little boy that was dying of leukemia. The angels came to help him accomplish some things on a Life List and then brought him to heaven. Ooooh, yes...I was sobbing! The message of the song also struck my heart. I knew then that I wanted to be a person that lived that way...a witness to love even in the moments that were the darkest. Living that out though is much more of a challenge than the desire assumes, but along this journey I can safely say that I know more love today...divine love expressed directly and indirectly...than I did yesterday. The future is bright for more and more and more...

"For as long as I shall live
I will testify to love
I'll be a witness in the silence
When words are not enough
With every breath I take
We'll give thanks to God above
For as long as I shall live
I will testify to love"
~Testify to Love by Wynonna Judd

Monday, June 13, 2011

Turn the Other Cheek

I have found myself to be in a situation where the way that I'm being treated is not in a manner that I feel is appropriate. [It's interesting, the moments that provoke that reaction and those that don't...Hmm.] Of course, my first response is to try to get things straightened out. I like harmony, you know. If unsuccessful, my response is to get angry, to question myself and my actions, and to wonder 'Why can't people live bigger and be more loving?'. It's easy to get bitter from there.

I haven't wanted to go that route though. It hurts my own hand. For some time I have felt challenged to find a way to honor my own integrity by honoring the other. Jesus called it "turning the other cheek".

IT'S REALLY HARD! I wish that the things I feel are personal injustices could be "out-ed", but I guess there are higher purposes at work sometimes. I can trust that. Interestingly, what can also be trusted is the good Father. He's the "with"-God...always there to give direction and comfort.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Missing Him

First things first. This is not a blog from a desperate girl. If you know me well, you know I've made the long journey from being a girl who needs a man to a girl who wants a man. Two entirely different ways to live. I have a very specific man in mind too. No, it's not a ridiculous shopping list of "must love dogs", etc. Most simply, it is this...I want a heart-man...but that's for another blog. In the time that I still have in waiting for him, I keep moving down my "becoming" path (dreaming and growing), hoping he's doing well on his way to me and praying for the desires of his heart.

Most of the time I do okay with all this...

...but when I step into loss, I miss him. Yep, I miss him without even knowing him.

My family is experiencing a great deal of pain with the loss of little Ben. There's a funeral on Tuesday, and I know that is going to be very sad. Sorrow for their loss. Sorrow for feeling some of their pain. And you know what I wish???...I wish I had my Mr. Him with me just to hold my hand. Pretty simple...and pretty frustrating.

I have my hottie-God though. In the past He's sung to me in great sadness. He's lit up the night-sky with beautiful colors. He's surrounded me with the scent of roses. I know He'll be with me. Of that I'm sure.

But, you know...sometimes it just feels sad missing the other him.

Baby Ben

There just aren't the right words when tragedy strikes. There aren't answers to all the questions. There aren't good enough reasons. There isn't a way to go back in time to undo what's been done. There isn't enough salve to instantaneously heal the broken heart.

There's time. There's gracious space to grieve. There's the community of friends and family to surround and shield. There's God...

My cousins lost their baby boy in a freak accident this week. They were plunged into sheer horror. The media has been absolutely inappropriate in trying to get details, adding to the chaos that exists in loss. Please join my family in praying for Ben and Amy. I can't even imagine...

Baby Ben Memorial

A Report on the Accident

Friday, June 10, 2011

Heart Song

Sometimes I'm just so thankful for classical music...and Yo-Yo Ma. I have no clue where this song comes from, but it does such a good job of singing the heart.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Tragic Loss

In the face of loss, I've never been able to find words to adequately describe the pain. I've only ever found music to be remotely capable of expressing what's in the heart. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like some instruments can offer a closer glimpse of the soul's cry. Well, some of my cousins lost a little boy tonight, and I can't even begin to imagine the pain they are experiencing. They and all of us who love them are completely devastated. Please pray for them.

A Good Reminder

After my rant about crazy complainers yesterday, Martha reminded me that critical people are really hurting people. *sigh* A dose of grace goes a long way! Thanks, Martha! :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shut Up!

Alllllllll right! I've had it! I've finally had enough. The people that go on and on and on with criticisms on EVERYTHING need to stop. I run into it EVERYWHERE! There's no zone without the monotonous drone of "waaaaaaaaaaaah!". Bunch of babies.

They "dis" everything.
They complain about everything.
They know how everyone else should do everything.
They distinguish themselves with negative "blah-blah" all the time!

...and I wonder...

All of that...with little to no love-marked action...makes them pretty darn irrelevant. I'm sure they feel exhausted from all of their efforts to verbally expose everything, but what a freaking pointless way to live!!!

So from this chic...there's no audience here. When they start positively contributing to society with ACTIONS, they can be "qualified" to step on their "soap box".

Until then???...Shut it.


(Mental Purge Complete). ;)

September Women's Conference

So exciting! There's a women's conference in September in North Branch. Did I mention it's FREE?? Rebecca has asked me to be one of the speakers again, and I'm looking forward to it!! If you are a woman and in this area, you should come! (And if you are a man who knows a woman...ya, you get what I'm saying.) :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Recording Angels???

Here's an interesting one. My cousin Rachel showed me this. It's a song performed by Jason Upton, and it's rumored to have an angel singing in the background (around 5:00 and on). For a clearer picture, he only has the instrumentalists that you hear on the track and no other vocalists. The audience definitely has a different sound. The counter-argument, of course, is that it's just a reverb sound. Hmm...I've experienced sound-gone-whacko before (even in an accoustically psychotic auditorium), and I don't think this qualifies. There's definitely something odd about it.

It's funny because the sciency part of me says "Jeez, people have to spiritualize EVERYTHING! This has to be something else!". Then again, I've been learning to let my "figure it out" nature not be so hindered by skepticism but be committed and open to unveiling all the wonder and magic in creation. Still, Sciency-Sarah wants an explanation. Then there's the Jesus-lover in me that says "I don't care what this is! Of course, there are angels all around! That's NORMAL!!" It's the "realer" real after all, and we were made for it. I should live with such expectation. Oh well...the cool thing for me is that the sciency and Jesus-lover parts come from the same heart in this girl. They intersect in God's arms. It's an awesome dance.

So...whatever it is...enjoy the song's message to "Fly" and let your mind/heart do some wonderings on the angel question. Hmmm...hehe.

Worship with WHO???

Tonight was Extended Worship at my church...a night where anyone can come to praise God together. A few worship teams rotate sessions, and people come and go. Man, a lot of area churches were represented in attendance tonight, which, of course, I love considering the passion for unity amongst all the churches. (Major on the majors, you know...)

I have to be honest though. I was SHOCKED when I realized I was worshipping next to a few people from...well...THAT church. Haha! Oh man, they drive me absolutely nuts with their theology of "women", treating them more as breeders than humans. The facts that women go along with this, and men preach it, and children are formed within it...ugh...It's been a long-standing frustration to the degree that I'd actually cross to the other side of the street to avoid THEM. Pretty much "back woods", "archaic", and "abusive" would top the list of my grievances...uh-hem...but I digress... ;)

So...worshipping alongside my feminist nightmare was a bit of a challenge...but a good one. We have some serious disagreements, but we have one thing in common. We love Jesus.

Now to convert them to the side of enlightenment...(I'm sure they are thinking the same thing...) Ha!!


Well, I'm not much for "scream-o" music...hehe...but the words to this song are pretty good for a dose of identity. Always good to remember "WHO" we are and walk in that. At around 3:40 is a section on that specifically. What can I say? works with my "we can change the world" plan. ;)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

No safer place...

...than in the center of the perfect will of God.


I just read this on a friend's FB status, and I'm actually not so sure about that. Ya, it's typical for me to throw a wrench in things. Haha!

I guess I want to know what "safe" means. I do not think that safety equates with never experiencing heartache, loss, catastrophe, or the evil that moves through the world. Goodness, people get martyred for God...not so safe. I actually was asked by God once to think about how willing I am to part with my life for another. I think He was wanting me to loosen my grip a bit so I could be more free. (That or He has a shorter plan for me here. Who knows?) Either way...I'm not sure that my personal safety, prosperity and happiness is God's #1 priority. Not that they aren't important...I just don't think it's the point. What I do think is completely safe with God is my heart. There's no better place for it than in the center of a relationship with Him. Divine intimacy makes it so.

So...safer? No.

Secure, for sure. Full of hope and joy and peace. Planted in authority to unleash His good will...even when that means getting some bruises...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

World Vision

I'm SOOOO excited! I just received my sponsorship packet for a child through the World Vision group. When I was listening to the presentation in church, it just felt right to get on board. Hey, we all are going to change the world, right? YEP! One heart at a time!

So, my sponsored child is a girl from Uganda. Her community is a part of the HopeChild program, which invests in areas particularly impacted by HIV/AIDS. She's also in the area that has been terrorized by the Lord's Resistance Army, the group that forces children into war or the sex trade. we go! Monthly sponsorship, letters/pictures, packages...and of course major prayer.

Sponsor a Child