Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When Friends Go Away

'Bff' photo (c) 2010, Texasbubba - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
I miss my friends.

Jason has been traveling a lot over the past few weeks. Tina lives far away. Jon hasn't been playing at church lately. Rich is leading worship at a new church. Kit is finding a different church closer to her home.

I miss my friends.

During these seasons, my instinct is to get all weepy, consume too much wine and Ben & Jerry's, and curl up in my bed.

I like hanging out with my peeps, but I really like it when it's easy to hang out with them. When it gets complicated, well, I don't like that as much.

Complicated means that I have to make plans to Skype with Jason, even when Community is on. Complicated means that I have to go out of my way to schedule lunch dates with friends. Complicated means that I have to send more texts, drive longer distances, make more of an effort. It requires more of me in the relationship.

As difficult as all of this can be, there's also beauty in this kind of intentional interaction. When we are intentional about relationships, we are intentional about the people. We say that on our list of important things, they have a place. We say that we care about their feelings. We say that we want to honor our commitment to friendship.

Intention often stirs creativity, so we may break out of "friendship ruts" that can happen. Instead of just relying on the regular ways of hanging out, we have to find different ways to spend time together. Sometimes we have to snag short visits. Sometimes we have to meet in places that aren't just a coffee shop. Sometimes we have to use technology to keep in touch.

Don't get me wrong. If I had my way, I'd see these folks just as regularly as ever. We'd hang out and things would be easy.

But in lieu of easy, I'll take intentional.

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What do you do to show your friends and family that you care about them? How are you intentional in your relationships?

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Stuff I've Been Reading

Happy Easter! I hope that you're having an amazing day and that you take a minute today to celebrate this life that you've been given.
  • Joy Bennett shared an important message for Easter over at Deeper Story. If you're hurting today, go now.
  • Sarah Bost Askins wrote two poems this week and I simply can't decide which one to link to, so I'm linking both. Please, click both because they're absolutely amazing. Wrong and Man.
  • I loved K.C. Procter's list of things that he wants to be remembered for on his 29th birthday. I may have to steal this idea when my birthday rolls around.
  • Great ode to coffee by Andi Cumbo this week. Just some lovely writing here.
  • "A grave is no place to live." Shawn Smucker just knocks it out again with this post.
  • I didn't know that Cirque du Soleil employed bunnies, but this does seem like a step down.
What have you read/written/watched/listened to this week that moved you? Link it up in the comments!

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Broken

'Broken Glass at Work-13' photo (c) 2008, Eric Schmuttenmaer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Broken world
Wounded by sin.
Aching with regret.
Groaning in agony.

Broken people
Mangled by hatred.
Bruised by misunderstandings.
Lost in despair.

Broken savior
Betrayed by friends.
Shamed by enemies.
Murdered by all.

Broken death
Removed of sting.
Swallowed in victory.
Defeated by Love.


Since the children have flesh and blood,
he too shared in their humanity so that by his death
he might break the power of him who holds the power of death...
that is, the devil...
and free those who all their lives
were held in slavery by their fear of death.


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Thursday, April 5, 2012

BlogHer Book Club Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

With a teen in my house, I'm always on the lookout for new young adult fiction, so I jumped on the opportunity to read Jessica Spotswood's book Born Wicked, the first in a new series about youn witches, thinking it might be something that my oldest might enjoy. And while she'll probably read it (being that she's a reader like her mom), I don't know that she'll enjoy it that much.

In the positive column, I liked how the main character Cate was protective of her sisters, Tess and Maura. The relationship between the girls, who lost their mother and had an absentee father while navigating learning to be witches and controlling powers, was interesting and endearing. I found that to be a definite plus.

But overall, the writing didn't grab me. I don't expect tremendously in-depth writing in a young adult novel, but I just felt like Spotswood "cheaped out" on some of the writing by couching it in the YA category. I'm not sure if I just wasn't interested in the story or if it was the style or what, but all together, it just didn't pull me in.

Also? If I could ask one thing of all young adult writers? Please, please, please stop with the love triangle thing. We get it already. It's just exhausting at this point.

I believe this is the first in a series of three, but honestly, aside from the obvious, "I'd like to know how this all turns out," feeling that happens any time I read a book that is part of a series, this one didn't leave me begging for book two. This received a lukewarm reception from me, but be sure to stop by the BlogHer page and see what others think!

Disclosure: I received a copy of Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood for the purpose of review and was compensated for my review, however my opinions are 100% my own.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Afterthought or Celebration?

'Cross on the hill, nr Kemsing, Kent' photo (c) 2011, Glen - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/At our church, we're preparing for our Easter service. I go to a large church, and special services like Easter are large events that require a number of additional time and rehearsals. I'll be honest, I absolutely love it. Sometimes it gets a little bit frantic, and sometimes the rehearsals extend way past when they should, but for the most part, I love the time we get to spend together, getting ready for the celebration to come.

But sometimes in the midst of the busyness of our preparations for the main event, those smaller, more quiet moments are lost. They become afterthoughts - elements that we recognize as necessary, but which aren't flashy enough to garner their own service. They are too depressing, too quiet, too ugly.

I get that. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday. These aren't celebratory days. What happened on these days is terrible. I don't like being reminded that I would have likely been a part of the crowd, one days shouting "Hosanna!", the next, raising my fist and screaming, "Crucify him!"

But I can't allow myself to push these to the back. I can't make them days that are tacked on to the "real holiday."

The pain, the anguish, the agony. Without them, there is no Easter.

So on Thursday, our worship team is going to rehearse. We'll tighten up the music. We'll fix the transitions. We'll adjust the lighting. We'll prepare ourselves for the celebration on Sunday.

But we'll also take a moment to break bread together. We'll remember another group of friends celebrating this same rite thousands of years ago. We'll do this as they did, not as an afterthought, but as a celebration. A celebration of deliverance and a celebration of what is yet to come.

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This is a part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival hosted by Peter Pollock. You can read more submissions and add your own here.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Interfaith Parenting

When I was pregnant the first time, I didn't take a pregnancy test for two weeks because I was afraid to confirm that I was going to be a parent. I was too young, too recently married, too far from my family to have a baby.

But we survived our first child, as well as her three subsequent siblings.

We took them to church. We stood in front of our congregations and promised to raise them in the Christian faith. We did AWANA and VBS. We took the Christian parenting class.

Then things changed. Jason is no longer a believer. It took us a while to talk to the kids about this change, but at this point, they all know. And while it was one thing to ask the kids to continue to attend church when Jason was in school and working nights and was just "too tired" to go, it's quite another thing to ask this of them when it's not something that both of their parents do.

As a result, our kids have been attending church much less regularly.

'Parisian Love Lock' photo (c) 2010, Allen Skyy - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/This isn't a huge surprise. Generally speaking, if fathers don't attend church, their kids are far less likely to attend church.

So I'm kind of stuck. I could certainly force them to attend church with me. And when I see articles titled "How to Get Your Kids to go to Church and go to Heaven" (emphasis mine), it is certainly tempting to get with the forcing. Every time I ask the kids if they want to go to church with me and they say no, it's hard not to become upset or even angry. At them, for not wanting to go. At Jason, for making it easier for them to say no. At the Church, for not being absolutely irresistible to them. At me, for not being a better example of why we should go to services.

But as I've written before, this is just not something that I'm comfortable doing. I can't reconcile faith with obligation. No matter how much I want them to go to church, I even more want them to want to go to church. And even more than that, I want them to know Love.

So I try to do that gently. Curling up with them to watch a favorite show. Taking an interest in the things that give them pleasure. Speaking respectfully of other people in front of them, even when folks make me mad. Trying to answer their questions about my faith (and theirs) honestly.

It's my prayer that as they experience that love, they will find the source to be too compelling to ignore.

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Do your kids attend church with you? Do you give them a choice or if you don't have kids, were you given a choice when you were young? What are some ways that you model love to your children or to the kids that you might interact with?

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Stuff I've Been Reading

Hello! Most of what follows is not an April Fool's Prank. But there's always one joker in the crowd. It should be pretty easy to tease this one out.
  • My friend Bob Slatt shared this sermon with me last week. Oh my goodness. This is a powerful and beautiful discussion about the command to love. Love, love, love this.
  • Preston Yancey posted over at Deeper Story about using the Eucharist as a weapon. A wonderful reminder of choosing to be defined by what we are rather than by what we are not.
  • I absolutely adored this WWJD post by Addie Zierman. So eloquently discussed.
  • An important reminder from Kristin Tennant that "the way things are" isn't the way God intended for them to be.
  • Jen Luitwieler wrote a fantastic piece about maintaining focus for Lisa Colon DeLay's Spiritual Guidance for Bloggers series. 
  • Ed Cyzewski has a new e-book available. Ed is a seminary graduate, and today he puts his training to use to bring us a new Bible translation in The Tweets of the Apostles. You can download the book for free at Ed's site or help him out by paying a buck for it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. (Pssst...I've read it. It's funny and definitely worth your $.99.)
What have you read/written/watched/listened to this week that moved you? Link it up in the comments!


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