Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And I'm back...

I'm back.
For the last 2 weeks we have not had internet in our house.  If I sat outside I could sometimes get it, but it wasn't a great signal and if too many vehicles went down the road in a row, I lost it.  But now, there is internet in our house. I'm happy. And a little worried.  Wasting time will be easier now. ;)
On a more serious note, I am back in seminary now.  Orientation was last week, classes started yesterday. Honestly, I had forgotten how exhausting school was.  Maybe it's just getting back into the routine.  I hope it's just getting back into the routine.  I'll have more in-depth reflections at a different time, but it's almost 9:30.  Last night I went to bed at 8.  Maybe I'm just getting old.
I'm also officially back at First Reformed Church.  I'm excited for what the Lord has in store for me there this year.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sermon Help Time

So, I'm thinking of a passage, but I can't remember it.  I'd like to use it as my text when I preach on Sunday, but to do that, I need to remember it.  So, engaging all of your brains in addition to mine, maybe we'll come up with it.
Once upon a time there was a king. I think he was one of the good kings, perhaps even before the divided kingdom.  Anyhow, a sacrifice needed to be made either before or after a battle and the king was supposed to wait for the prophet to come make the sacrifice.  He didn't. He made it himself.  Then the prophet showed up and was kind of ticked off.
That's what I remember.  Any idea on which king, which prophet, and/or which passage this is from?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

And a little child shall lead them...

Yesterday was the annual all seminary retreat.  I'm going to decline commenting on the content of the retreat for the most part at this point (that might come later).  For now, I'm going to talk about the ending.  As normal (well, as much as I can judge normal, having been to a grand total of 2 all sem retreats) we closed with a communion service. Now I love communion.  Especially at seminary because I get to participate. Yesterday was the first time I'd been able to take communion since May, so that was pretty cool.
Anyhow, we're all sitting in the amphitheater at Camp Geneva as we prepare for communion.  We go through the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving, all the appropriate liturgy is read and the invitation is issued, "Come for all things are now ready".  I was sitting behind two boys, ages 4 and 1.5 (I think...somewhere around there).  The older one has taken communion before and understands what happens during communion.  The younger one, not so much.  At the invitation, the younger one rushed forward, eager to partake.  He was quickly summoned back by his parents, but I smiled.
This little one, this child, may have understood better than any of the rest of us.  He wanted to be part of this. He was not concerned about waiting his turn or walking slowly and quietly.  The leader had said "come" and he came.  What if we all had the faith that that child unknowingly demonstrated?  What if we really took that invitation seriously? What if we had that kind of righteous abandon?  It's a happy thought.  As the scriptures say, we must become like little children if we want to enter the kingdom of G-d.
Seminary people processes from the chapel to the amphitheater 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Can a Facebook status update be prayer?

Some time ago I was wasting some time on a website called "Dear Blank Please Blank".  It's a website where people can write "letters" to other people.  Sometimes the submissions are humorous, sometimes they are pretty lame.  As long as you don't bother with the discussion threads it is usually pretty inoffensive Most all the time it's a good place to waste time.  Anyhow, I was wasting time there the other day and I came across this post:
"Dear "religious" people,
It doesn't count as prayer if it's in the form of a Facebook status update.
Sincerely, God"

Initially I was a little bothered by this post.  I felt like it was limiting G-d, who is surely big enough to receive all our prayers in whatever form they come.  I know people who pray on their knees, flat on their face, standing up, curled in a ball, walking through the woods.  I know people who color their prayers, write their prayers, sing their prayers, sign their prayers.  I know people who breathe their prayers, shout their prayers, whisper their prayers, cry their prayers.   In fact, at one point or another, I've prayed in all those ways and then some.  G-d's big enough.  He can take it and understand it.  And I know He does, because He answers our prayers.

So at first it bothered me.  I pray how ever I feel like praying.  Why should anyone be telling someone what prayer is or isn't?  It seemed really judgmental.  But it stuck with me, which usually means I need to think more.  The more I thought the more I realized that perhaps who ever submitted this post was right.  Maybe not completely right, but at least on to something.

When the disciples ask Jesus about prayer (as recorded in Matthew 6) he warns them not to pray like the pharisees who were fond of going out in the open and broadcasting their prayers where everyone could see them.  Rather, he told them to go away by themselves to pray, not making a show for men but speaking to their Father in heaven.

I'm not saying we should never pray in groups or pray publicly.  I often pray in groups.  I lead prayers in church a couple times a month.  It's a fine line and one that is near impossible to judge.  The line between praying so man can see you and so that G-d can hear you is a tough line to walk when you are leading public prayer as a pastor or prayer group leader or anything else.  It's only G-d that can see your heart and know where it is.

So does it count as prayer if it's a Facebook status update? It depends where your heart is. And if you are judging whether someone else is actually praying or not, your heart probably isn't in the right place.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Who are you?

Tonight I preached from Luke 9. I'm getting more and more comfortable preaching.  Today it was Pillar church. When I preach at Pillar, we set a podium up and the congregation sits on one half the sanctuary.  Usually that is fine.  Today though, they all sat about 6 rows back.  I wasn't okay with that. So I just picked my stuff up and moved up a few rows, and preached between two pews.  I told the congregation what I was doing and why.  Also, during prayer time no one would talk, so I called the children by name and asked them what they were thankful for.  After they shared, I told the adults that the kids could do it, so what was their problem?  The adults shared after that. :)
I have an audio copy of the CD.  If you want a copy, let me know and I'll make you a copy.  I'm not going to make a video to post here because my internet has been so sketchy lately. (currently I'm sitting on my front stoop to type/post this)
Anyhow, without further ado, here is my manuscript from tonight.  I kinda sorted followed it...not really, especially towards the end. I just let the spirit talk. Also, I've included the benediction I used tonight.

Who are you?
Luke 9:18-21
Once, when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others say that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “The Christ of G-d.”
Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone.

Who are you?  Not just your name, but you.  Who are you? Sure, you have a name.  Maybe your name even means something, but most of us are given names because our parents liked the name.   But your name is not necessarily who you are.  It is what you are called.  If I started calling you Bob or Jane, you would not cease to be who you are now.  You’d just be called something different.   After all, a rose by any other name is still a rose. So, who are you?
Somewhere we all have an answer to that question.  In fact, most of us probably have multiple answers to that question, depending on who is asking it.  Right now, I am your preacher.  Later on I will be a pair of listening ears for a friend or a roommate.  In a couple days I will be a student.  In a few months I will be a flower girl.  Throughout it all I remain someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s friend, and many more things.  So who are you?

One time I was at a family reunion with part of my mother’s side of the family. I grew up with my dad’s side of the family so I knew all of them, but my mom’s side of the family was a new thing for me.  They’d all been names on pages without faces.  At the reunion I was asked who I was.  The question stumped me.  I knew who I was.  I was Joy, a student at Central College studying German and Psychology.  But that wasn’t what family members were asking me.  My name tag told them my name.   What they were asking was who I was in relationship to them, which branch of the family I fit into.  Finally, I figured out what they were asking and grabbed a family member who knew the family better than I did to make the tie for me.  By the end of the day I knew who I was to these people.  I was so-and-so’s daughter, so-and-so’s granddaughter, so-and-so’s great granddaughter... That day people could have told me that I was anyone in the family I probably would have believed them.  That day it didn’t matter who I said I was, but who people said I was.

Jesus’ disciples are presented with a similar question on that mountain in the region of Caeserea Philippi when Jesus asked them who the crowds thought he was.  Compared to the question that was going to come, that question was easy.  Dutifully the disciples parroted back what they had heard the crowds say.  The word on the street was that Jesus was the John the Baptist or Elijah or a prophet of long ago who had come back to life.   But then Jesus changed the game a little bit.  No longer was he interested in hearing the disciples parrot back what the crowds said.  He turned to them and said “But what about you?  Who do you say I am?”   This was no longer the same question.  No longer could they parrot back what they heard on the street.  Now they had to answer for themselves.  Bold Peter turned to Jesus and confidently answered that Jesus was the Christ of G-d.   The Gospel according to Matthew elaborates on this and records Peter’s answer as being that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living G-d.
This answer, a mere 10 English words in Matthew and only 4 English words in Mark and Luke, is such a powerful confession of who Jesus was and is, that it was recorded in three of the four Gospels.   The Messiah, the Son of the Living G-d, the Christ – these were the words that were going to make all the difference for both the disciples and for us today.  The Gospel according to Matthew records Jesus responding to Simon Peter by changing his name to Peter and declaring that he would be the rock upon which Christ would build His church.     Simon Peter was no longer simply Simon Peter the ex-fisherman who had become a disciple of this radical Jewish rabbi from Nazareth named Jesus, but he was Peter, the rock upon with the whole Church was going to be built.   Who Peter declared Jesus to be made a difference and who we declare Jesus to be makes a difference too.
If we declare Jesus to be a wise teacher, we are left with a collection of wise teachings and advice on how to live our lives.  If we declare Jesus to be a prophet of G-d, we can attest more authority to his wise teachings and advice.  If he were a prophet we could even accept his new teachings such as the one about turning the other cheek instead of taking an eye for an eye.  But we wouldn’t have much more than that.  But if we declare him to be the Son of the Living G-d, the Messiah, then everything changes for us.
If we echo Peter’s declaration it no longer matters who we say we are.  It no longer matters who other people say we are.  It only matters who Jesus says we are.  As He did with his disciple Simon Peter he will also do with us.  2 Corinthians 5:17 assures us that if anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation, the old is gone and the new has come. 
The old going is a beautiful thing. When the old goes, the identities that we have created for ourselves and the names we have taken for ourselves or been given by the world go with them.  I have had the honor of walking alongside several young people who have struggled with eating disorders and self-esteem issues.  They have identities for themselves.  They have named themselves.  They call themselves worthless, fat, useless, ugly, unworthy of love, lonely, afraid, guilty, and the list could go on. That’s the old talking.  When they finally step into the new, their name, their very identity begins to change.  They start to see themselves as worth something, as beautiful, as worthy of love, as strong, and so on.  Every old identity is replaced with a new one.  No one, none of us, can make that replacement on their own.  Many try.  Many try to find their identities in the work, their relationships, their outward appearances, their talents and abilities.  But most often they fail.  When someone recognizes who they are in Christ, that’s when the new identity that will actually stick starts to form.
Living in a fallen world we all struggle with our identities, some more than others.  It would be wonderful if we were all super comfortable in our identities in Christ, but I’ve met very few people who answer the question “Who are you?” with “A child of G-d” or something similar.  More often we answer the questions with our job titles, our names, our vocations, or our roles in our families.  At least, that’s how we answer to the outside world.  To ourselves we are often not as kind may answer quite differently.  It’s when we are talking to ourselves that the more negative names, the ones that hurt the most come up.  
But those are not who and what we are called to be.  We are in Christ and therefore we are new creations.  This is good news.  Better than good news, it is great news.  In Christ we are justified.  We belong to G-d.  We members of Christ’s body, citizens of heaven, we are forgiven.  We have hope and a future and peace.  We are not alone.  We have the promise of eternal life and full life.  We are hidden with Christ in G-d.  We have new identities.
(This is where I inserted something about evangelism and how we have a choice whether or not to share the gift of a new identity with those who don’t know Christ.  Not sure what came over me right then.  It just happened.)
Jesus turned to Peter and asked him who he said he was and he turns to each and every one of us and asks the same question: But what about you?  Who do you say I am?

Before we close this evening I’d like to share the words on a simple praise song with you as our benediction.  It is called “I will change your name”.  Listen to these words as if the Father himself were saying them to you.
I will change your name,
You will not longer be called,
wounded, outcast, lonely or afraid.

I will change your name.
Your new name shall be,
Confidence, Joyfulness, Overcoming One,
Faithfulness, Friend of G-d,
One who seeks my face.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

More than a Meal

Recently I took a trip to my former college to see some friends and spend my break. One night as I sat in the dining hall I began to reflect on my food-related experiences in college. It would have been easy for me to make a case to be exempt from meal plan. I mean, for me, eating is a very dangerous activity. The college also could have easily requested that I not be on meal plan.  Trying to safely feed me is a challenge that few people undertake (The short list of my allergies includes gluten, corn, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, tomatoes, banana, pineapple, kiwi, and shellfish. At least 6 of those present with skin blistering on contact, anaphylaxis upon ingestion).  Central College however decided to take on the challenge of trying to feed me and I decided to let them.  In all honesty, I really didn't want to try and cook three meals a day for myself on top of being a student.  Central went above and beyond to make sure that I had food at every meal.  In all four years that I was at Central, the only times I got sick from food were times that I had made less than wise choices (eating food without checking the ingredients, eating food from the fryers).  Which is super impressive.  I mean, really super impressive.  Very few people/kitchens can pull that off.
As I sat and reflected upon my experiences with food, I came to realize that the staff (dietary manager, cooks, servers, etc) did far more than just provide me with food options that wouldn't kill me.  Food is a central part of social life on a college campus and the dining hall is the center of food.  On a campus with only 3 options for meal plan (the main dining hall, a fast food type place called GSC, and the Cafe), it was pretty safe to assume that most students would eat at least one meal a day in the main dining hall.  The main dining hall was also a hub of activity, especially when things got busy (so, basically, all the time).  If you wanted to catch up with a friend, it was easy to say "Let's have a lunch date".  Need a meeting time for a small group Bible study or GIG?  Everyone has to eat, why not hold it at the dining hall?  Want to practice language skills? Sit at the German or Spanish table.  Thinking about studying abroad?  Go to a Lunch and Learn.
By allowing me to be on meal plan, and making meal plan easy for me, all of these social opportunities were opened to me.  I ate almost every day with a group called "the Table".  We (almost) always sat in the same spot in the dining hall, and there was always more room at the table.  It was a time where important news was shared, where schedules were coordinated, where we could check in with each other and make sure we were doing alright.  If I hadn't been on meal plan, I would have missed out on all of that.
I would have missed out on Study Day picnic, an event which grew out of my propensity for sitting on the floor randomly to eat (people would ask me where I wanted to sit, I'd say "right here" and sit down wherever I was.  Eventually it became an organized event with a picnic blanket and everything).
Some people see meals as nothing more than a chance to eat, but they are so much more than that.  So much of our culture revolves around food.  When the dining staff decided to make an effort to provide me with safe food options, they were concerned about feeding my body.  What they ended up doing was feeding my life.
Sometimes life is like that.  People intend to meet one need and end up meeting another, often far greater need.  Or they fail to meet a need and end up failing to meet another, far greater need.
You may never know what what deeper need you'll meet by making the effort to meet a need on the surface, what wounds you'll heal by reaching out to someone.  Likewise, you may never know how much you'll deepen wounds by failing to meet surface needs.
Remember, what you do on the surface often runs much much deeper.

Friday, August 19, 2011


On our way back from Canada we went through Chicago, partly because we needed to take Sarah Elizabeth back and partly because JB wanted to see Chicago.  So we did some touristy stuff and I took some touristy pictures.  I'd love to go back sometime when I'm not pressed for time and be a real tourist.  Spend more time seeing the things I want to see like the museums and the aquarium.
The classic skyline view
The not so classic skyline view
My favorite was the Lego butterflies.  If I have time I'll make a whole post of what we saw at the Lego store.
Reuben and I made a Lego family portrait.  See if you can guess who is who.  Hint: the broom is a guitar and the walkie-talkie is a phone.  No fair looking on Facebook for the answers!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

O Canada! part 2

Another part of visiting the farm is seeing friends.
Olga joined Sarah Elizabeth and I for a diaper demo.  Here Samson the bunny is modeling the cow diaper cover, which is cute, but not practical because it doesn't have leg gussets to keep messes in.
Sarah Elizabeth roasted some marshmallows over the stove while Angie and I waited for our chocolate mint pears to cook on the BBQ.  We wanted to do a campfire but the weather was not favorable for that. 
I also got to hang out with these delightful boys and their sister while their parents and grandparents butchered chickens. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

O Canada! part 1

I took a quick trip up to the farm last weekend to see the dentist and my family and run a swim meet.  As always, it was an adventure.
Part of going to the farm is the animals. Within the first day of being home I had to give a little guy and enema.  He was a slow nurser so he didn't get enough colostrum soon enough so he had retained part of his meconium (first poop), which isn't super bad but can lead to constipation.  This poor little guy was ready for his enema!
Between being born less than a week earlier and pooping, Kyrie was exhausted
Nigellus is a bit older than Kyrie and has already figured out how to stand pretty for pictures
This little one (I'm color-dim and can't tell you who it is...not Dulia, Ezekiel, Alleluia, Nigellus, Kyrie or Opulence) was investigated whatever was on the other side of the fence.
Ellie Mae was babysitting all the older cria
From the next pasture over Caasi wonders if I've brought any treats with me.  Unfortunately for her I hadn't.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Checking in

I'm back in Michigan after a whirlwind trip to Canada and back.  Currently I'm working on a sermon (preaching date got changed from the 28th to the 21st) and am beyond exhausted. I will write a more substantial update (and post some pictures) once I'm more awake and have more of this sermon done.
In the meanwhile, know that I am back at my apartment, my dad is still sick and school is starting soon so life is picking up a bit again as I settle back into a routine.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Drinking Responsibily

For some reason, unknown to everyone except G-d, I cannot stay hydrated like a normal person.  I've known for years that I need copious amounts of water to stay hydrated.  When I was on my TMI team, I was always the first in line to fill up my canteen and often the last to fill it up, because I'd finished half of it before we left the watering hole.  Not only do I require copious amounts of water, it's very hard for me to get re-hydrated if I get dehydrated.
Since it is so hard to stay hydrated and even harder to get re-hydrated, the only solution is to be super vigilant about keeping my fluid levels up.  If I let things slip even a little one day (which happens, sometimes I'm busy and only drink 2-3 liters), I spend all of the next day and sometimes most of the next trying to make up for it.
My body freaks out about not having enough fluid.  Big time. I won't go into all the icky personal details of what happens when my body freaks out, but if you really want to know, google dehydration and read the signs and symptoms of moderate to severe dehydration.  (you know, that part where they start to say "consider medical attention")
Anyhow, if I catch dehydration in time and listen to my body,  I can fix it on my own. It involves oodles of water, diluted Gatorade (gross!) and Pedialyte (even groser!), but  I can fix it, if I'm careful.  If I'm not careful, I end up in the ER for IV fluids and sometimes a jump start of potassium and/or crazy strong anti-nausea meds.
Sometimes I wish my spiritual life-ometer would freak out as much as my hydration-ometer does when I slack off a little bit.  It's easy to let spiritual growth slide. To skip personal devotions once in awhile, to roll over instead of going to church, to just shoot up a quick breath of a prayer to G-d instead of really spending time with him. And, at least for me, nothing happens.  At least not right away.
If I'm not diligent it doesn't start to bug me until a couple days in.  Then I get cranky.  Eventually I'll figure out what's wrong and dive back into the Word like a desert traveler whose canteen ran dry the day before.   I gorge myself on it and eventually it feels good. (note: if you are rehydrating, go slow.  otherwise you throw it up.  Thankfully, scripture doesn't pose that problem).
What would it look like if we had a spiritual life-ometer that worked like our body's dehydration-ometer?  What if something told us right away if we were letting things slide?  How would it be different if there was threat of an IV if you let things slide too much?
These are things I wonder.
Now I'm going to get back to work at boosting fluid levels.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The People

Any Celebration needs good people.  I didn't get pictures of nearly everyone (too busy having fun), but here are some snapshots.
Neti holds a brownie in one hand and munches on a cracker from the other.
Nathaniel watches the action from his stroller
Becky and Clara.  Clara is making funny faces at me
Anna, Dan, Becky and Noah.  No one was actually looking at me at this point
Judy, Stacey, and Kristie listen while Sarah tells an enthralling story.   Clara helps herself to more juice. 
There were more people that came, I just didn't get pictures of all of them because I was too busy visiting. 

The Food

Every Celebration needs good food and since my excitement levels and the amount of baking I do are correlated, there was a lot of baking done for this celebration
An overview of the table before I started carrying things outside.  Not pictured are the cheese and cracker plates, including both store bought crackers and homemade crackers.
Fruit Bowl with cantaloupe, watermelon, peaches, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.  Everything except the strawberries was fresh from the market. 
The baked goods tray: Blueberry millet mini muffins, Spongecake mini muffins, Marmorkuchen (marble cake), chocolate chocolate chip cookies, fudge brownies, coconut chip bars, and maple date cookies.  I also made lemon-lime squares but they didn't hold up well enough to serve.  All of the baked goods were "allergy friendly" to a large extent.  The Marmorkuchen contained soy and the bars and brownies contained traces of soy since I used a soy based shortening to grease the pan.  Other than that, everything was free of the top 8.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Dress

Since the 100 Day Celebration was kinda sorta a big deal, I made a new dress.  In all honesty, I needed a new Sunday dress anyhow.  The celebration just gave me more motivation to work on it and get it done.
My dress hanging in the my apartment, waiting for Saturday.
At the Celebration.  The flowers behind my head are from my dear friends Travis and Mariah
Full length shot of the dress after the Celebration

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Music

Any special day needs special music.  Over the last few weeks I've been putting together a list of 100 songs that are "Yeah Jesus" type songs.  I ended up with a couple more than 100, so I relegated some of them to the 150 song list (I'm being optimistic).  I found videos for some of them, but not all of them because that would have taken a really long time.  Every song has a reason why it made this list. Here's the list for anyone who cares:

Alive by P.O.D.
All Around the World by Hillsong
Amazing Grace (My chains are gone) by Chris Tomlin
Ancient Words by Michael Smith
Another Hallelujah by Lincoln Brewster
Arms that Hold the Universe by Fee
Beautiful Things by Gungor
Blessed Be your Name by Tree63
Blessings Song by Jules Riding
Blessings by Laura Story
The Blood Song by Kirk Franklin
Breathing Life by Salvador
By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North
Carry Me by Audrey Assad
Covered By the Blood by the Rabbit Easter Band
Cry of the Broken by Hillsong Live
Desert Song by Hillsong United
Dry Bones by Gungor
Forever Reign bye Hillong Live
The Freedom We Know by Hillsong
Get Outta my Life by Carman
Give Me Your Hand by Ray Boltz
Glory to G-d Forever by Fee
G-d is Able by Hillsong Live
G-d is Great by Hillsong
G-d is in Control by Twila Paris
G-d of the City by Chris Tomlin
G-d you are my G-d by Delirious
The Great I Am by Anointed
Great I Am by New Life Worship
Hallelujah (Your Love is Amazing) by Brian Doerksen
Happy Song by Delirious
He Reigns by Newsboys
Healing by Ashley Beck
Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North
Healing Hand of G-d by Jeremy Camp
Here I am to Worship by Michael Smith
Here with me Now by Laura Hackett
How Can I Tell by Sara Groves
How Great Is our G-d by Chris Tomlin
Hurricane Song (How He Loves) by David Crowder Band
I'm Not Backing Down by unknown
I could sing of your love forever by Daywind Music Studios
I Need You by The Swift
I will Lift my Eyes by Bebo Norman
Indescribable by Laura Story

Invade by Watermark
It's all about You by no artist
It's Done by steve easter, stan dailey, brad walker
Jesus Paid It All by Kristian Stanfill
Joy by Newsboys
Joyful, Joyful by Laura Hackett
Justified by According To John
Lamb Of G-d by Marty Goetz
Lift Me Up by The Afters
Light Up the Sky by The Afters
Lord I Lift Your Name On High by Sonicflood
Magnificent Obsession by Steven Curtis Chapman
Mighty to Save  by Hillsong
More by Matthew West
My Heart Is Overwhelmed by Hillsong Live
My Savior's Love by Maranatha! Music
No Monsters by Carman
O Praise Him (All This For A King) by David Crowder
One Pure & Holy Passion  by Jenn Weber
Ordinary Man, Extraordinary G-d - Sing To The Lord by David
Our G-d by Chris Tomlin
Overcome by Desperation Band
He is Exalted by Robin Mark
Please Be My Strength by Gungor
Please Rain Down by Rick Goad
Redeemed by Joslin Grove Choral Society
Rescue by Newsboys
Safe by Phil Wickham
Send Your Mighty Power by Rick Goad
Serve the Lord by Carman
Shackles (Praise You) by Mary Mary
Shout Unto G_d by Hillsong United
Sing, Sing, Sing by Chris Tomlin
So Good to Me by Darrell Evans/Matt Jones
Song Of Hope (Heaven Come Down) by Robbie Seay Band
Stronger by Mandisa
Stronger by Hillsong Live
Thank You for the Blood  by Matt Redman
Thank You Lord by Paul Baloche
There Is Power In The Blood by Joslin Grove Choral Society
This Good Day by Fernando Ortega
Trading My Sorrows  by Darrell Evans
True Love  by Phil Wickham
Undignified by David Crowder Band
Who Am I by Casting Crowns
Wonderful Maker by Jeremy Camp
Wonderful, Merciful Saviour by Selah
Wondrous Love by Jadon Lavik
You're Beautiful by Phil Wickham
You Are by Tenth Avenue North
You Never Let Go by Matt Redman
Your Love Is Extravagant by Casting Crowns
Your Love Is Strong by Jon Foreman
7 Ways 2 Praise by Carman

Fun fact:  This play list is 7.3 hours long.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Getting Ready

I have spent today in preparation for my 100 day seizure free party, also being called the Psalm 30:2 celebration.  I had the oven up to temperature by 8am this morning and stayed on until almost 3pm this afternoon.  It never sat empty for long.  Anyone around the seminary this afternoon got to sample and everything passed.  The lemon lime bars didn't get taste tested because they are still refrigerating, but everything else seemed to pass.  Here's is a peek inside my "kitchen":
I ran out of cooling rack space pretty early on.  So a couple boxes of canned goods filled in for me.  This is Marmorkuchen (Marble cake?) cooling.
I also ran out of counter space.  An ironing board with a scorch resistant covering is like one giant hot-mat for putting hot pans on or anything that just needs to be out of the way.  In this picture is a tray of chocolate chocolate chip cookies waiting for it's turn in the over,  fudge brownies cooling, lemon lime bars cooling, and then containers of mini blueberry millet muffins and maple date cookies (with Ontario maple syrup) sitting out of the way. 
Now onto general clean-up.  Tomorrow will be market day to get some melon and veggies for the fruit and veggie tray, making whipped cream and then party time!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Fun Picture

I have stuff to write about, but I don't want to write.  I want to bake yummy things.  I mean, I do want to write things, just not right now.  I've been glued to the computer since 2 this afternoon working on swim team stuff as well as other stuff and being distracted in general. (RCA's Breaking Barriers publication came out today.  Enough said.).  Anyhow, in lieu of writing, here is a snapshot of yesterday.  After reading my Facebook status from yesterday, one of my friends told me that my life is epic. I will post the status below the picture and you can decide for yourself.
This is me and Rosie at church.  I got to drive Rosie a bunch.  Rosie is part Arabian horse and part pony.  I'm not quite sure what that makes her, but she is wonderful.  Drives like a dream.  Real easy to handle.  And, her cart has lights and blinkers and everything so she even gets to drive on the road.  I even got to drive her on the road.  I was happy.
And here is the Facebook post that got me told that I lead an epic life:
Some days are more random than others. Accomplished today: finding an ASL version of Psalm 23 for a friend. two hour staff meeting. warding off creepy guys at the gas station. Extended grocery shopping trip with a dear friend. care closet complete with an attitude adjustment from my Loving Father. cuddling a baby. driving a horse. examining a head wound. discussing various (head) wounds and methods for closing them. reassuring a parent that their child was going to be fine. supervising "pennies in the sawdust". understanding a very small part of a conversation spoken in Spanish. Playing on an inflatable obstacle course. going on a walk and talk with a wonderful friend. Now...BEDTIME!!!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Rejoicing and Lifting up

As with many things in life there is often and upside and a downside.  Sometimes they are completely unrelated.
First for the upside and super-duper happy news:
As of August 6, 2011 it will have been 100 days since I had a seizure. This is cause for great celebration. As Psalm 30:2 say, the LORD is the one who brings healing. I invite you to come celebrate with me and others.

It will be a rather informal (I don't do formal well) come and go type event from about 5pm-10pm. I'll have yummy baked goods, maybe some cheese and crackers, and a veggie tray and maybe some fruit of some sort out for snacking (we'll see how adventuresome I feeling this week). I'll probably also have some juice, tea (lots of tea, I like tea) and water available. If you'd like to bring something to share, please feel free, but it is not required by any means (no alcoholic beverages please).
I hope at some point to have a fire and maybe some marshmallows and s'more type stuff stuff out as well.
Feel free to bring spouses, significant others, children, etc as you feel is appropriate. And bring a lawn chair. That would be very useful.
I know some of you that I'm inviting can't come because you are in different states/countries/etc, but I still wanted you to feel invited. And if you can come, that would be amazing!! If I forgot to invite you and you see this, feel free to invite yourself. My brain has been known to forget people before (never intentionally!).
So, come celebrate with me :)
If you don't know where my back yard is, message me and I'll fill you in. I don't want to post the address here where anyone can see it because I don't want creepers at the celebration because that would be creepy.

Now for the downside/prayer request that is completely unrelated:
My dad is sick.  He has some sort of flesh eating bacteria or something and it's making him really really sick.  This kind of infection can be deadly if it isn't treated soon enough.  Thankfully, Mommy and Papa found it in time and he's on IV antibiotics.   Please pray for him and for my family.  He doesn't like being sick (no one does) and it could be awhile before he is well enough to go back to work.   Please pray that the doctors have wisdom in treating him and that he has patience as he heals.  Please also pray for a quite healing.  We serve a G-d of healing as evidenced by the post above.  I have confidence in that. 

Monday, August 01, 2011

It is good to go to the house of the Lord...

I love the Church.  Not necessarily individual church buildings or gatherings, but the Church Universal. That's probably a good thing since I'm in seminary and heading towards a career serving the Church in some capacity.
Sometimes things happen at churches that are extra special, like baptisms.  I love baptisms.  On Sunday we had a number of baptisms at First, and they weren't all infants!  (RCA tradition says that infants are baptized. Non-infant baptism usually indicates a new believer). As usual I took some pictures that I'm going to share.  The pictures are a little blurry/grainy, but I did my best.  And to make this particular baptism Sunday even more special, people in India were involved too!
  Two new families joined our church this morning and were welcomed into membership.
These two families presented their infants for baptism.  For some reason none of the elders were real excited about teaching this particular baptismal  class.  On the left, both parents hold Ph.D's in Biblical Studies/Theology and are professors at the seminary. Below, both parents hold the title "Reverend".  Not at all intimidating!
Reuben Alagar (above) and Nathaniel Thomas (right) are welcomed into the Body of Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism.

Reuben's paternal grandparents couldn't make the journey from India to be part of their grandson's baptism, but thanks to the wonders of technology they were brought in via Skype to watch the baptism.  The entire service was being streamed so that they could feel as if they were there, even though they were in India.
After the infants were baptized, a young person (kneeling on the right) was baptized.  It always excites me so much when a young person is baptized.  I mean, all baptisms excite me, but when it is a young person or an adult, I know they have made a decision for themselves and that makes me happy.
After the baptisms were finished, a young person made her profession of faith.  She is kneeling by the fount (on the left).  Members of the congregation were invited to come lay hands on her and pray for her as the Pastor and her best friend (who invited her to church!) offered out-loud prayers for her.  I love to see the body of Christ coming together in this way.  Young and old, everyone is there committing to this young person to continue to disciple her and guide her.
After all the baptisms were finished and we had welcomed all of our new members, Reuben's grandfather prayed for us.  I have no idea what he said since he prayed in his heart language, but it was beautiful.  Later that evening I preached on the topic of the body of Christ and this was a beautiful picture: believers around the world coming together to celebrate the sacraments, even though they are separated by many, many, many, miles.
After everything was said and done, I got some good Nathaniel cuddle time in. He was very content just to sit and lounge in my arms, looking around at the people at his baptism party. He was most content when I kept moving and bouncing him a bit.  (His legs really weren't purple...It's just a weird reflection from my shirt.  Honest, I was not cutting off any circulation!)