Monday, December 29, 2008

Worth Repeating

This post was originally published on December 30, 2007 after I watched "The Sound of Music" last year. It was the first time I had watched it all the way through since I was a child and I had a totally new experience of it as an adult. While watching it again last night, I kept thinking of this post and how much it still resonates with me. So here it is again:

I know that at least one of the major television networks shows "The Sound of Music" every year around the holidays. For me it must be one of those things that is such a holiday staple I haven't really watched it all the way through or paid any attention to it since I was a child. And even at that, I admit that my memories of it are inextricably linked with the family I grew up across the street from. They were a naturally talented family. The three children loved "The Sound of Music" so much I remember they performed the "So Long, Farewell" song (with the choreography) at a neighborhood party which required each of them to play the part of at least 2 of the von Trapp children. I must have been memory is so vivid!

At any rate, I'm fairly sure I have not allowed myself to enjoy this classic movie completely in my adulthood. And that is a shame. I'm sure that I never fully appreciated the love between Maria and Captain von Trapp as a child. Or Maria's struggle between her faith and devotion to God and her unexpected love with the Captain. Not to mention the sensitive issue of political and patriotic loyalty as Hitler was brainwashing his followers...I mean the music is pretty but what 8 year old can fully grasp THAT! Or, for that matter, the beautiful truth that the Reverend Mother shares with Maria about climbing every mountain, etc. I, as a full grown woman who strives to live a God honoring life (while finding and living my dream), and who also longs to be a God honoring wife, find myself especially moved by their love, discovery of their love, and declaration of their love. And watching (as an adult) Maria and the Captain sing these lyrics:

"Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth

For here you are, standing there, loving me
Whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good"

Well, hearing those lyrics as an adult struck something primal in me and brought me to tears. I think that it struck a primal fear of feeling worthy. And as a Christ follower, it simultaneously reminded me of how truly amazing God's grace is. For here He is, standing here, loving me, whether or not He should. And it's NOT because somewhere in my youth or childhood (or adulthood), I ever did anything good. With faith in the truth and grace that Jesus Christ fulfills, I am worthy of His love - regardless.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

On the 12th day of Christmas

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me- TWELVE awesome concerts prior to 1996. I have some friends who tease me about how blessed I am with great concert experiences by exclaiming "FOUR TIMES FOR FREE" every time I start a sentence with "I saw them..." See my day 11 post for more info! Here are my twelve favorite shows prior to 1996 in no particular order:

1. The Police, Ghost in the Machine Tour, April 1982- need I say more?
2. R.E.M., Pre-Construction Tour, Wittenberg University, May 7, 1985- show was in small gymnasium, paid $5 for tix, long-haired Stipe performed with back to the crowd, I've seen them 6 times since that show- but that will always be my favorite.
3. U2, Joshua Tree Tour, TWICE, Detroit-April 1987, Lexington, KY later in '87
4. Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine Tour, TWICE, Bogarts
5. Sarah McLachlan, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy Tour, July 1994, Count Basie Theater, Red Bank, NJ- saw her 3 more times after that but she was never better than that night, including when I sat in front of her parents at the Beacon in NYC (for free)
6. Red Hot Chili Peppers w/Faith No More (original line-up)@ Bogarts. This show is notable because I spent more time talking to guys in Faith No More (got their autographs for Sandy) than paying attention to Chili Pepper's set until I noticed there were probably more uniformed cops on the floor than fans. Why? It was the tour where the Pepper's played with nothing but socks on their cocks.
7. Tori Amos @ State Theater in New Brunswick. Not only was Tori amazing, but this show is memorable because as we left the show a friend told us that O.J. was on the run (after killing his wife). We walked into our favorite bar and it was packed but EVERYONE was glued to the chase on T.V. -Very surreal!
8. Oingo Boingo @ Bogarts, Fall of '88 w/longtime friend P.J.- so much fun!
9. They Might Be Giants @ Bogarts, don't remember what year, John & John were great!
10. PIL twice @ Bogarts. I think both shows were on Thanksgiving, 2 consecutive years, 1985 & 1986?, John Lydon is a hoot on stage!
11. Seal @ Beacon Theater in NYC. Seal at his best in mid-90's. Great show!
12. INXS, at least 3 times and they were the opening act every time! First time they opened for Adam & the Ants, and another time they opened for Men at Work, can't remember the other time(s).

Deciding which shows were my favorites was tough. I should mention the very first concert I ever attended was in 1980 with my two older sisters. It was The Commodores & Kurtis Blow opened. Stop laughing. The Commodores were all the rage in the early 80's! Other honorable mentions: Depeche Mode, The Cure, Erasure, Robyn Hitchcock, Guadal Canal Diary, The Cult opening for Metallica, The Kinks... I gotta stop now.

On the 11th day of Christmas

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me- ELEVEN awesome concerts from 1996 - present. Since I'm doing day 11 & 12 in one sitting, it's probably obvious by now that day 12 is about the 12 awesome concerts prior to 1996. Also, the fact that I am devoting both days 11 & 12 to my favorite concerts should be a clue how much I love music, especially live music. I don't think it's a stretch to say I have seen over 100 concert productions, and that's not counting how many evenings I've spent in bars & coffee houses enjoying local musicians. I love the energy in the air during a live performance. So here are some of my favorites since 1996 in no particular order:

1. Over the Rhine, most recently at the church across from my apartment 4 days ago.
2. Josh Ritter opening for Jamie Cullum in Indianapolis, October 2006.
3. Morrissey on Valentine's Day in Akron, OH in 2000- How hilarious is that? It's my all time favorite Valentine's far this beats any typical VDay with a man!
4. Sting, Broken Music Tour, April 2005- he did mostly early Police stuff and very little of his solo stuff. Such a great show!
5. Lyle Lovett w/KD Lang opening, July 2007-Cheryl's b-day, great show!
6. 80's Regeneration Tour, August 2008, longtime friend Brian and I had so much FUN!
7. Live w/Luscious Jackson, summer 1997- 'Nette, Urs, & I had back stage passes-Great day, Cool show.
8. BoDeans, most recently- April 2008 @ 20th Century- Nothin' beats BoDeans live!
9. Ingrid Michaelson, Jan 2008 @ 20th Century w/Chelle- very fun show
10. John Hiatt, etc.- Tall Stacks, October 2006-several great acts played Tall Stacks
11. The Connells, most recently in 1997, Bogarts, got in free unexpectedly

By now my rock star lifestyle has probably impressed you to pieces. Don't get me started! ;-) To paraphrase Bono, it's not decadent if you notice and are grateful. For sure, I have a keen awareness and appreciation for my live concert blessings!

Monday, December 22, 2008

On the 10th day of Christmas

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me- prayers answered ten-fold. I'll spare you the listing of ten answered prayers by making it a random number of prayers answered ten-fold. One involves my trip to Portland (see day 8). One involves an unlikely friendship that probably only exists because we each choose to do ALL things through Christ. And most recently learning that a guy I've known for three years is the writing partner I've been praying for to help me manifest an overwhelming vision. This answered prayer is still in the process of blowing my mind. So, I'll keep my gratitude brief here...God knows I can't thank Him enough for this one. Suffice it to say I prayed a seemingly simple prayer for a writing partner for several years and waited patiently for the Lord. Once again, God's vision is way bigger than my vision.

On the 9th day of Christmas

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me- a nine year old car I love. Well, I bought my car used in 2006, and she is a year 2000 model. So she is nine years old, but I've only had her for about three. Her name is Beatrice. She's lime green. She's a five-speed turbo(I love leaving trucks in my dust). She's a Volkswagen Beetle. She has heated leather seats. A six CD changer in her boot. Her nickname is MC Bea Bug. She gets compliments from complete strangers in parking lots. I love my little green turbo bug!

On the 8th day of Christmas

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me- eight great vacations. I'm making this up as I go along, but I'm sure I can come up with eight. Starting with my most recent week long vacation in Portland, Oregon last July. Portland is a great city, I had a great time, and I had a specific sweet encounter that only God could have orchestrated. Sometimes God is so kind for no other reason than to show us how much he loves us.

In September 2007 I went on a road trip to the NYC area to visit several friends I had not seen in at least six years. I used to live in the NYC area, spent a lot of time in the city, and met some fabulous friends while there. They are kinda like family. I happen to love long drives and road trips to begin with. One of my life long dream vacations is to take 2-3 months to drive across the country. And when I go back to NY I like to drive so that I can get myself around to see all my friends (who are now a little spread out in different parts of NJ, CT, and Long Island) in the comfort of my own car with my own music. Anyway, it was a wonderful, fun, relaxing week with no particular agenda but to spend at least one night with a few different friends. Oh, and to see Spring Awakening which I did with Barri.

In April 2006 I went on a service trip to Mamelodi, South Africa. I met some of my current dearest friends on that trip. Including my host family, the Phatlanes. Kgakgamatso just got married in November and I was thrilled that he called me himself last June to invite me. I planned to be there for his wedding until my car broke down twice and my laptop crashed which depleted my funds set aside for my trip to SA. Apart from all that relationship stuff, it was a great lesson in what it means to truly live as if the joy of the Lord is my strength.

Okay, to keep this post from becoming a novel, the other five great vacays will be lumped together in this paragraph in random order. There was a family trip to New Orleans in the mid 90's which was meaningful since we lived in New Orleans for the first 5 years of my life. We drove by the old house, had dinner with old friends, and also did the tourist stuff in the French Quarter, Breakfast at Brennan's, Commander's Palace, Jazz clubs, etc. My parents had a nice time share in Hilton Head for a few years and those trips were always good. We'll count 3 of those. Which means I just need to come up with one more...hmmm...Grand Canyon or Panama? Or San Diego (extended business trip) or .... wait, maybe I should eliminate at least one of those trips to Hilton Head from the list. Did I say I could come up with just 8? The truth is, I'm pretty much content wherever I go.

On the 7th Day of Christmas

Sorry, I was distracted for a few days by a tragic event, prayer services, holiday parties, and hang time with friends. I'm back in the saddle again! On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, SEVEN years of Bill's updates. Bill Yeaton is a locum tenens physician I met through a previous job. Why am I so excited to get his annual updates? Not only is he an extremely nice man, Bill also happens to be an excellent photographer and his yearly newsletters are full of interesting details and photos from his travels. I long to travel as much as he does and I live vicariously through his annual updates. To see some of Bill's photography visit his website:

Be prepared to drool! Not all of his website photos have captions, but the ones where he explains what led him to take the photo, etc. are fascinating. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On the 6th Day of Christmas

Hooray! We are halfway through this gimmick! I think it's working, by the way. For whatever that's worth. Okay, so on the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me- SIX nifty nephews. I mean that sincerely. All six of them are great. The oldest one is 21 and the youngest one is 10 (I think). Gee, I feel like a horrible aunt for not being more sure of their ages. Anyway, the two oldest (Clif & Spencer) are my brother's kids. The three in the middle (Isaiah, Gabe, & Eli) are from my second oldest sister. And the youngest (Joseph) is from my oldest sister. Yes, totally out of order isn't it? Well, any way you slice it, they are all very good boys. And I am extremely proud to be their Auntie Em.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On the 5th Day of Christmas

This is hard. On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me- FIVE golden friends. Well, I have lots of golden friends. But five who come to mind as extra special for some reason. One of them was featured on the front page of the Cincinnati Enquirer today. She's 2 days older than me, has the same name and we've been friends since we were five. We hardly see each other anymore even though we live just 3 miles from each other. And when we do, we just talk like we saw each other yesterday. We don't bother filling in the details of our lives and things we did since we last met. That would seem almost redundant with our friendship and our history.

The other four make it to my list of five for similar reasons. Although they all have been friends for different lengths of time. My college roommate is one. I just went to see her in November. And we really don't spend much time discussing the missing details. We just hang out like always. We've been friends for over 20 years through many ups and downs. Then there's my buddy from a leadership program I did in the mid 90's. We've been friends for about 15 years, have very little in common but we love each other and again, can just pick up and talk like no time has passed at any given moment. Then there's my friend who has literally helped me through the biggest transition in my adult life, is one of my biggest fans, and treats me like family. She and I have been friends for about 7 or 8 years now. And I have a friend who I've only known a year who totally gets me on every level and I already feel like she's a part of my family and I'm a part of hers.

The best part of these 5 specific golden friends is that they are a small sample and example of my many other friends. These 5 are consistent, either due to length of the friendship or depth of bond. But I am blessed to have dozens more friends who are very dear and special to me on many and varying levels. I love how God uses friendships to demonstrate His deeply profound truth, grace, and love.

Monday, December 15, 2008

On the 4th Day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me- FOUR great bosses. Well, there's four that I answer to on a daily basis, then a couple more here and there. My favorite thing about my bosses is that they all appreciate my sense of humor. Having worked in environments where my humor was less than welcome, this aspect makes work so much more enjoyable! In fact Deb instigates much of the hilarity by making prank phone calls, silly emails, door rattling shanannigans, etc. And Eric has just gotten used to me laughing hysterically at his odd requests. Like the day he called and asked me to order a compass for him. I assumed he meant a directional compass and I accused him of starting a Boy Scout troop in his office (he is an Eagle Scout). Then he explained he had been using a CD to draw his circles. In the meantime, we were both laughing so hard we could hardly complete the phone call. And Joe posted the hilarious homemade Pinky & The Brain birthday card I made for him to everyone's delight. His birthday was in August and it's still hanging in the lab.

Ralph melts my heart on most days. There are only a few days of every month I feel otherwise and on those days I have a posse of peeps supporting me in that he's being unreasonable. In fact, he just stopped by my office to tell me there's an ice storm coming and I should go home now. How sweet is that?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

On the 3rd day of Christmas

Welcome to day 3 of this gimmick! On the third day of Christmas, my true love (yes, still God) gave to me, three super siblings. Really. We have very different approaches to life and often don't really understand each other. And there is no doubt that we all love each other, flaws and all. We always enjoy spending time together which usually includes hearty laughter over something totally silly...past or present.

As a child, they were as much care givers as siblings. I'm the youngest. They are all several years older. My oldest sister,Beth, is exactly 10 years and 23 days older than me. Then there is Sue who is 8 years older. And my brother, Ned, is 7 years older. We did not have the typical sibling scuffles. We had scuffles, but due to some specific family dysfunctions, they weren't typical. Our family loyalty and love has always prevailed. For that, we know we are blessed beyond measure.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

On the 2nd Day of Christmas

Yes, forging ahead with this cheesy gimmick. On the second day of Christmas my true love (uh...that would be God, right?) gave to me, TWO cuddly kittens! Well, actually they are full grown cats and I've had them for 14 years. And I'm allergic to them. But they are the sweetest reflection of God's love in my life.

Unfortunately, the photo I planned to post of them didn't make the transfer to my new laptop. The gray one's name is Cica (pronounced Tsitsa) which is Hungarian for kitten. The white one has David Bowie eyes (one is hazel and one is ice blue) and her name is Chim Fi (pronounced Chim Fee) which is Chinese for spot. When she was tiny she had a spot on her forehead that looked like Gorbachev's birthmark- the spot disappeared within 6 months I think.

Why such unusual names? That's just the kind of gal I am! I got both of them at the same time (they are from the same mother but 2 different litters) and wanted to name them something different. I was bartending at a steakhouse in New Jersey at the time. One of the servers suggested I name them something common, but in another language. It so happened that my fellow bartender was Hungarian and the entire kitchen crew was Chinese. So after asking for several translations to common pet names, Cica and Chim Fi stuck. Don't worry, not many people remember their real names. One friend always referred to them as Dim Sum and Chick Pea.

They greet me at the door, they cuddle with me and purr sweet nothings in my ear, Cica makes an excellent kitty-alarm-clock (I'm convinced she can tell time), and I'm sure they have expressions of concern on their fur covered faces when I'm sad. Oh yeah, they know all my deepest, darkest, secrets and love me for who I am. Just like God does!

Friday, December 12, 2008

On the 1st day of Christmas

Sorry. I'm not a fan of the song Twelve Days of Christmas. I'm using this gimmick to motivate me to post something every day for the next...well...twelve days, as the song goes. But maybe it will create a new habit for me in the meantime and I'll start posting more than once or twice a month.

So, without further ado, on the first day of Christmas, Crossroads gave to me- 1 hour of laughter. We have many talented creatives in our community and Neil Smith is one of the best. He created this for our current series "We Wish You a Messy Christmas" - Enjoy!

As our senior pastor says, "I don't care who you are, THAT'S FUNNY!"

(If you are unable to view embedded video, here's the link: )

Monday, December 8, 2008

Walk On

This is for Stacie, her sister, family and anyone grieving the loss of Sam Dillard. Stacie wrote a very articulate blog post about some deeply profound feelings. Well, the blog post is actually an excerpt from her journal. What she shared on her blog made me think of the lyrics from “Walk On” so I will attempt to tie them together here. I will not share all of what Stacie wrote, but you can visit her blog yourself for the rest:, the link is over on the left.

Stacie said:
I'm conflicted because one moment I seem to "get" that this life is temporary. I mean, I don't just acknowledge it but really fully feel it. This world and this life is only a very bad copy of what we're created to be and of the reality that God exists in.

I sense it so strongly sometimes that I almost feel like I could go out and kick the car in the driveway and it would crumble up like tissue paper. And if I blew into the air the clouds would part and the sky would ripple like a curtain - that's how strong a sense of falseness I have at times about this life. But then I stick out my foot and rest it on the coffee table. And realize how hard and solid it is. And the sense of hope I had from my (very) brief moment of understanding is gone.

As an artist I feel like sometimes I'm trying to communicate something I've actually never experienced. To create something with a beauty I've never actually seen but that I'm so sure of that it's painful and makes my chest hurt to think about it. I have no doubt that that beauty does exist, even though its full view is hidden from us.

I think what some people consider "the muse" is really just an unconscious act of "getting it." But they suffer less emotionally if they don't realize it's a real thing they're inspired by. It's easier to call it the muse; it doesn't make you so homesick (homesick for a place you've never been!)

Sam's death has made me homesick that way. Not like my sister would feel, wanting to be with him again. Mine is due more to having to continue to admit I still believe God is good. Which means that Sam is in that place now - the place that is just out of my reach when I think I have it, or that surprises me when flashes of it show through just the right combination of color and transparency. Or a photograph. or a song that makes me almost cry - not because it's sad but because they lyrics or melody remind me of that place where I belong but have still never seen.

Well said, my dear friend. And here’s why the U2 song “Walk On” was the soundtrack in my head while reading Stacie’s blog:

And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong

Walk on, walk on
What you got, they can't steal it
No they can't even feel it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight...

You're packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom

And I know it aches
And your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Home...hard to know what it is if you never had one
Home...I can't say where it is but I know I'm going home
That's where the heart is

So, for Stacie and her family who loved Sam and knew intimately the ways he demonstrated God’s truth and grace daily- walk on. God is faithful and Christ is our redeemer in ways we can’t even imagine.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Making Room

Lately I've been noticing how busy everyone seems to be. My friends who are married with children stay busy taking care of their family. And my single friends seem to stay even more busy. In talking to some of my single friends we have confided in each other that when all the busy-ness is done, at the end of the day, there is a little loneliness lingering. I am always busy. And I like it that way, mostly. Every once in a while I think I should stop being so busy and then there would be more time for things I say I want or think I need. Inevitably, when I make an effort to be less busy, it lasts for maybe a month. After about a month, I start to think I should get more involved in something. If I'm not busy I notice I spend too much time doing things I don't really care that much about.

Being the single witty, wise, sexy redhead that I am, some friends wonder why I'm not dating anyone. The answer I usually give is that nobody has asked me out. One of my guy friends (who is married) said I've probably had guys who wanted to ask me out, but since I wasn't interested or attracted to that unspecified guy, I didn't notice and therefore no opportunity was created for an actual date. I sometimes wonder if it is because I'm too busy. But I know that's not it. Because we can always make room for love. Ask anyone who has made room for Jesus in their heart. They will probably tell of how their time commitments have changed as a result.

For further example of my point, I will share a quote from Brian Andreas titled "Making Room." I first became a fan of Brian Andreas when I stumbled upon his stuff in an funky artsy fartsy store in Philadelphia in the early 90's. Being a writer, the first print of his I purchased included a quote about stories. For several years after that my mom gave me either a Brian Andreas print or book for every Christmas and Birthday. So, I have a nice little collection. Anyway, this quote is how I suspect things will happen when my future husband and I meet:

"When I first met her I knew in a moment I would have to spend the next few days re-arranging my mind so there'd be room for her to stay."

I guess my prayer is that my future husband and I are not so busy when we meet that we think we can or should re-schedule that time to make room for each other to stay.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Power of Forgiveness

My writing partner is a bigger film geek than I am. He often brings my attention to films I would not have heard of otherwise. "The Power of Forgiveness" is out on DVD, but I have not seen it as of this writing. For more information visit - In the meantime, here is an interview with the filmmaker:

An Interview with the Filmmaker
Writer and Director of BONHOEFFER
Q. How did you come to make this film?
A. Well, this film really had its origins a few years ago. Dan Juday and I went down to a conference in Atlanta, Georgia, where researchers, mostly scientists, were presenting the results of the research they were doing in the world of forgiveness. You had psychologists, you had health care physicians, and what you really saw for the first time was the confluence of two worlds coming together around the topic of forgiveness. You have the tradition of the faith communities - all the great faiths talk about the value of forgiveness; they have for centuries - but now you had the scientists and the healthcare world talking about the virtue of forgiveness.

We had about a hundred story ideas that we were looking at to come up with the stories for the film. We wanted to make sure that we had stories that spoke both to the faith tradition and to the new work that was being done in science. We also wanted to do one other thing, which was to say that forgiveness works really on a couple of different dimensions. It's about one person being hurt and forgiving one other person. But sometimes too the idea forgiveness works for groups, communities, and nations. And it was a balance of that personal and collective sense of forgiveness that I thought would make for an interesting film.

Q. What was the most memorable part of the process?
A. Forgiveness is really one of the hardest things we’re asked to do, in terms of our relationships with other people. The word itself opens up the deepest chambers in our heart and soul. One of the aspects of forgiveness that I had not really thought about until I started doing the film was the aspect of self forgiveness. Even the best people have a hard time getting to forgiveness, being able to forgive themselves for what they’ve done or what they’ve failed to do. As we began to see the stories unfold, this aspect of self forgiveness seemed as though it was playing a role in each one of the stories again and again. For me it's become one of the most critical learning moments in the making of the film.

Q. What's the relationship between forgiving and forgetting?
A. Somewhere along the line the words forgive and forget got joined at the hip, and I'm not sure why. People would say to us, “I can't forget what happened, so how can I even begin to forgive?” But what we're hearing from people was not about forgetting what happened. It was about how you remember, and what you do with that memory, how you incorporate the memory of that pain and suffering and how you get over that pain, how it affects your relationships going forward. In some ways it is redeeming to feel as though you aren’t being asked to forget what happened, only to come to a new awareness of how you're going to carry forward a memory that you can't get rid of anyway most important lessons in making the film.

Q. What's the relationship between forgiveness and justice?
A. I think in the 21st century we're living in a justice-focused culture. Justice is about righting the past. But that's always done by human beings who are as imperfect as we are. So you don't always get the justice that you hope for. Sometimes you don’t get justice at all. You don't have control over it. But you do have some control over how you want to see your relationships unfolding, and that's where forgiveness can really play a big role. You have control over what you want to forgive someone for, outside of the justice program. Justice, in terms of forgiveness, is not about opening up the prisons and letting the prisoners go. You have an obligation to protect yourself and to protect your loved ones. People do terrible things, evil things. But how do you exact that justice? Is it done in a spirit of anger and revenge, or is it done with some level of balance and compassion? Sometimes getting to the world that we want to get to means not exacting a pound of flesh. Sometimes compassion and mercy actually can get us to the place we all want to get to.

Having just celebrated Thanksgiving, I am also reminded of the power of gratitude. Here is one of my favorite quotes about gratitude:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more…It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
~Melodie Beattie

Here's to exploring the depths of God's truth and grace through practicing gratitude and forgiveness.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

In Communion

My thoughts about communion and being in communion with our triune God are steeped in intimacy(into-me-see). Intimacy with friends, intimacy with brothers & sisters in Christ, and intimacy with God. I cherish the gift of intimacy. I am blessed beyond measure to have intimacy with God. When most people think of communion, they think of eating a wafer and sipping grape juice. Or maybe they think of dipping a morsel of bread into a goblet of wine. But not many people naturally embrace the idea of communion looking like sharing a pizza with a friend. And that is my favorite way to celebrate communion. Sharing a meal, any meal, with my brothers and sisters in Christ and having a conversation filled with love and joy while thanking God for Christ's sacrifice. To further illustrate, here's a poem my friend Betsy wrote about communion:

Communion, not just about Christ's death
but every aspect:
incarnation and humble things
humanness and hunger
all the meals
all the miracles
all the talking

the 'last' supper
and the one after that

the breakfast on the beach
the feast that's waiting in heaven
(think of the guest list!)

not to mention the things before
(the old covenant
the first world
before the flood
before the fall)


Think about that the next time you say "no thanks, I'll just eat at my desk."
Think about that the next time you say "oh, no, drive-through's fine."

whenever you eat this
whenever you drink this
whenever you do this
its me.

Betsy posted that on her blog several months ago and I think it is beautiful. It proclaims the deep reverence we should all have for the gift of communion.

Regarding the intimacy I feel with God, I express this through a playlist. Music can submerge me completely into pure praise for our amazing creator, provision, and daily redeemer. When I arranged this playlist I selected each song carefully. Most of the songs would not normally be considered "worship songs" but for me they are. When I let these lyrics saturate my being, I imagine them as conversations with God. I imagine (depending on the lyrics) that either I am singing these words to God or that God is singing these words to me. It would take too much space to share all the lyrics. So I am only sharing the playlist below and encourage you to listen to these songs in the order below at your own leisure. Imagine being in communion with God with every lyric in this playlist:

All I Want is You – U2

Spirit – The Waterboys

Picture of Jesus – Ben Harper

The Story – Brandi Carlisle

Have a Little Faith in Me- John Hiatt

I Found Love- Lone Justice

Everywhere I Go- The Call

You’re My Best Friend – Queen

Give it Up – Hothouse Flowers

Trumpets – The Waterboys

Gloria – U2

Golden – Jill Scott

Unspeakable Joy – Kim English

The Whole of the Moon – The Waterboys

These songs are examples of the way I pray. I pray with a heart seeking God's perfect truth and grace in everything

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Diving Bell & The Butterfly

This post is a tribute to my father who passed away this time last year. While watching the Diving Bell & the Butterfly recently, I cried the hardest I have cried over the loss of my father since the day he passed. I do love a good cathartic cry and this movie was just what I needed to help my grieving process.

Here I will quote the bare bones description of the movie I found on Wikipedia:

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a 2007 film based on the memoir of the same name by Jean-Dominique Bauby. The film depicts Bauby's life after suffering a massive stroke at the age of 43,[1] which left him with a condition known as locked-in syndrome. The condition paralyzed him, with the exception of his left eyelid, so that he could only communicate by blinking. The film was directed by Julian Schnabel, written by Ronald Harwood and stars Mathieu Amalric as Bauby. It won awards at the Cannes Film Festival, the Golden Globes and the BAFTA Awards, as well as four Academy Award nominations."

Here I will attempt to describe how it facilitated a great cry of grief over missing my Dad:

I can't. Really. There are a few specific scenes that prompted the tears, but to describe those scenes out of context of the entire beautiful movie is probably futile. If you have experienced the movie already you will remember these scenes. The scene where Bauby is having a flashback of his last visit with his aging and ailing father. He's remembering shaving his father and the banter they had during the shave. And at one point his father (played by Max von Sydow) looks up at him a little bewildered and says he can't remember what he was going to say. Then says, "Oh yes, I'm proud of you." Well, as soon as the shaving scene started I was a puddle. My dad was a brilliant man. But in his final few years he slipped further and further into dementia. He started having seizures and mini-strokes so we had to take care of him. Before we moved him to the nursing home permanently, I would shave him. I also bathed him and changed his diaper. It was heartbreaking to see him deteriorate. He had been my source of stability for most of my life. But even as his mind slipped away, he would remember his family and tell us he loved us.

My dad was a great man. He spent his life in service to his community. He was extremely Christ-like in that I never heard a word of judgment escape his lips. Never. His community service is without a doubt what inspires my servant's heart. Even in the years I was not a Christ follower, I found a way to serve and contribute to my community in positive ways. And I know that he was proud of my serving efforts.

In The Diving Bell & The Butterfly, Bauby at first does not want his children to see him in his paralyzed state. Eventually he decides that being a partial father to his children is better than them not having a father at all. And there is a scene where his children come to spend Father's Day with him. Much of the movie is shot from Bauby's point of view, from his limited view through his left eye. At the end of the Father's Day scene, his children sing a song for him and then the viewer sees (from Bauby's paralyzed view) the children kiss him good-bye. Again, I was a puddle. I imagined what it was like in Dad's final days to feel helpless as his family came to visit in the nursing home and as we kissed him good-bye.

It would have been easy for my dad to give up and sink to the bottom of the ocean in his own private diving bell. But when interviewed by social workers, he never even hinted at self-pity. In fact, he said he knew his strength came from God and he therefore felt blessed. Towards the end of his life, he would ramble about whatever fantasy he was entertaining that day. After seeing this movie, I now know that was his way of remaining a butterfly.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

2001: A Space Odyssey

One of the many things I love about my church community are the wide range of smaller community groups to choose from. With over 8K regular attendees, it helps to have small groups to get to know others around here. And after almost 7 years, I am blessed with LOTS of friends I met through either serving roles or small groups. One of my favorites was just launched last year and it is called Reel to Real. Twice a month the guys who created this group pull out the carnival-style popcorn machine and choose a flick to view and discuss. I love this group! I only made it to a few last year, but I immensely enjoyed all of them. The facilitators, Don and Andy, do a great job of creating talking points and always list a few bible verses that correspond on some level.

We kicked off this season recently with a viewing of 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is one of those films that, unless you have lived as a media deprived hermit your whole life, everyone knows something about...even if it is just the famous musical score. I had seen bits and pieces before and had heard all sorts of references to it, but had never watched the whole thing start to finish. WOW! How truly visionary to have put this together for release in 1968! The foresight into how the space program would evolve when we hadn't even landed on the moon yet- genius. The foresight into how dependent society would become on computers-awesomely prophetic. The movie as a whole- clearly drug induced! And the discussion after viewing- priceless. Many jokes were made about what drug inspired the end of the movie. And many jokes were made about who in the group may have been stoned the first time they saw it, if they had seen it in the theaters in 1968.

Seriously, great observations were made by several people. Some had read the book series and had extra insights to certain scenes, some weren't sure they even liked the movie but had great comments anyway, and we made thought provoking connections about humanity and God along the way. There was a lot of laughter. Especially when I had the audacity to suggest the chimps at the beginning of the movie could actually hear the singing associated with the big black monolith. The group looked at me so strangely upon this suggestion that I questioned whether I was the only one who could hear the singing at all! Very funny stuff...but maybe you had to be there. In fact, if you live in Cincinnati, you should join us sometime!

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I'm feeling like a slacker for my lack o' posts lately. Rather than leave my large fan base (hello to all 3 of you) hungry for more while I craft a more recently inspired post, I am copying an email I sent to the aforementioned 3 fans way back on June 26th. Sorry to the 3 of you who have already read this stuff. I thought I'd open up this discussion to any hapless internet surfers who float this way. ;-) Also, apologies to those of you not familiar with the Old Testament of the Bible...this is written from the assumption that the reader already knows the whole story of Moses, etc.

Exodus Chapter 4
24-26 On the journey back, as they camped for the night, God met Moses and would have killed him but Zipporah took a flint knife and cut off her son's foreskin, and touched Moses' member with it. She said, "Oh! You're a bridegroom of blood to me!" Then God let him go. She used the phrase "bridegroom of blood" because of the circumcision. -The Message
I don't remember ever hearing about this verse in a sermon or bible study. I'm sure I've read over it before, but this morning it grabbed my attention. To put this verse in context read the rest of Exodus Chapter 4 (it's a short one). Basically, the short paragraph above comes right after God has revealed his entire vision to Moses for HOW Moses will free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Moses has already protested fiercely why he was not qualified to lead the slaves out of Egypt. God had already reassured Moses in every way that there was nothing to worry about...God would be with him and in control of EVERYTHING, including Pharoah's stubborn streak. And the very next paragraph, is THAT one. THAT paragraph that mentions (oh so casually) that God was about to KILL Moses! After God had JUST finished reassuring Moses that He knew what he was doing and Moses was indeed the ONE to free the slaves, etc. The paragraph does not explain WHY God was about to kill Moses. The paragraph does not reveal any lack of faith on Moses' part at this point...they had already worked through all that in the preceding verses. In fact, it is said so matter of factly and briefly that it seems clear that God attempting to kill Moses is NOT the point.
So, what IS the point? The faith and loyalty of Zipporah. I think this was God's way of testing Zipporah's courage, faith, and loyalty. She loved her husband so much that she stood up to GOD himself on Moses' behalf. And she stood up to God in a way that honored God and showed reverence. BTW, I like the Message translation best cuz it says she touched his member (tee hee). All the others say she touched his feet, but doesn't member make more sense? Like, she couldn't actually circumcize Moses...he had already been there done that!
Well, this got me thinking about the importance of the wife in God's eyes. God knew that Moses would need the absolute support and loyalty of Zipporah in the challenge he faced. God knew that Zipporah's faith and devotion to God would be supremely mandatory in the years to come. So this little paragraph establishes that.
I was also thinking about how that applies to us modern wives. (I am speaking it so for the future in my case) Like, when our husbands are facing the biggest challenge of their lives, what are we willing to do? Just stand by and watch? I am NOT suggesting we draw blood or anything that literal...but I think it does call us to put our loyalty to our husband first and defend him to whatever is threatening to destroy him. In other words, the fierceness of our faith on behalf of our husbands DOES matter greatly to God. Our iron clad loyalty and willingness to fight for our husbands matters to God. At least this is what I'm thinking after pondering that bizarre little paragraph for a few hours.
I have not done any research to see what the top theologians think on this subject. But it would be interesting to find out if anyone has ever given a sermon or bible study on this verse before. Also it is an example of how we should have a healthy fear of God's Truth, even though we live in the era of the New Covenant which fully demonstrates God's Grace. Do any of you have insights to add? Or do you know of a sermon or bible study that references this verse?

Monday, September 1, 2008


I'll admit, I'm not the most eco-friendly person you'll ever meet. I do what I can when I can. I honestly make an effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle. I carry my lunch and groceries in canvas bags way more often than not. I make an effort to buy local when I can. And I try to pay attention to my utility & fuel consumption, but I'm not willing to compromise comfort too much. Over the past several years I have developed a strong aversion to wastefulness. This is evident especially when friends ask why I don't pursue certain career options that seem like a good fit for me and my response includes how wasteful that particular industry can be.

I am blessed that most of my friends "get it" when I give those answers. And I have friends who do a much better job of encouraging and supporting sustainability than I do. Such is the case with my friend, Zoli. Zoli and his wife, Sjen, are very dear friends. Sjen is actually one of my very closest friends and I thank God for her regularly. So when I say they truly walk their talk when it comes to sustainability, I have first hand knowledge of this. So when you visit the website, Green of a Kind, that Zoli launched not too long ago, you can know he has not only done his research- he practices what he preaches. Here's a link to his website:

And I can't neglect to mention my friends, Wendy & Dave in New Jersey. They started their own non-profit organization in their community called Sustainable West Milford. I can also vouch for their practices. When I stayed with them about a year ago we ate veggies grown in their community garden and all waste was collected for the compost pile, etc.

What motivates me personally to do my share is that taking care of our planet honors God. It matters to God what we do with His creation. And to practice the reduce, reuse, recycle lifestyle sometimes encourages my own creativity. Instead of throwing something away, I find myself considering if there is any way I can re-purpose that item. Can I create something artistic with it? Or can I use it for another practical purpose instead of purchasing more stuff to serve that purpose? To me, practicing sustainability exercises God's truth and grace. The truth is that if we don't start paying more attention to being eco-friendly our environment WILL (and does) suffer. And God's grace blesses us with creative minds to think of new ways to be green.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lyrics du Jour- Hello Sandy Allen

I just learned that Sandy Allen passed away today. I can't think of a better tribute to her life than the lyrics of this Split Enz song:

Hello Sandy AllenThe world's tallest woman
We made friends in New York
Don't know if you'll remember
I'm bound to say I felt uneasy
when I first laid eyes on you
But I liked the way you talked
Like a living hoper
Towering over our heads in more ways than one
The hand that shook my hand was awesome
It still amazes me

Hope you're happy - Sandy Allen
Hope your garden is blooming
We're all staring at the mirror
tryin' to put our faces on
Appearance never held you back
Must be when you're number one
you don't have to try so hard

Hello Sandy Allen, hello Sandy Allen, hello...
Hope you're happy Sandy Allen
Hope your garden is blooming
We're all staring at the mirror
tryin' to put our faces on
Appearance never held you back
Must be when you're number one
you don't have to try so hard


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Lyrics du Jour - North Dakota

In honor of my recent fabulous trip to gorgeous Portland, Oregon I’m featuring the lyrics to North Dakota. What? Did I say that right? Yes, I did! See, while I was in Portland, Lyle Lovett was playing at the picturesque outdoor venue at Edgefield. And Lyle’s song, “North Dakota” is one of my favorites. I have seen Lyle do this song live in concert at least twice before and it nearly moved me to tears.

Here’s the catch- I didn’t get to see Lyle while we were both in Portland. The reason why was because I was at a wedding. While the wedding reception was lovely and fun, the weather that night was perfect and, truthfully, I would have rather been relaxing outside to the sounds of Lyle. The bride and groom probably would not have missed me and I could have enjoyed the show and pretended Lyle was dedicating “North Dakota” to them. So this post is my own little way of reconciling this by doing my own dedication of the lyrics of this beautiful & honest love song to Dave & Laura Jean:

“The boys in North Dakota, they drink their whiskey for their fun,
The cowboys down in Texas, they polish up their guns,
And they look across the border to learn the ways of love.

If you love me, say I love you,
If you love me, say I do (2x)
And you can say I love you,
And you can say I do.

So I drank myself some whiskey
And I dreamed I was a cowboy
And I rode across the border

If you love me, say I love you,
If you love me, take my hand (2x)
And you can say I love you,
And you can have my hand.

I remember in the morning, waking up,
With your arms around my head
You told me, you can sleep forever
And I’ll still hold you then.

Now the weather’s getting colder,
And it’s even cold down here,
And the words that you have told me,
Hang frozen in the air,
And sometimes I look right through them
As if they were not there

And the boys in North Dakota, they drink whiskey for their fun
And the cowboys down in Texas, they polish up their guns
And they look across the border to learn the ways of love.”

So here’s to the bride and groom! When the weather gets cold, your words of love hang frozen in the air, and you look right through them as if they were not there- remember to look across the border into each other’s eyes to learn the ways of love. And as stated in your vows, may you always treat each other as a newly discovered treasure.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Prairie Home Companion

I'm sure I was the only girl in my Jr. High and High School to own a Garrison Keillor book. I don't remember how I discovered him, but I'm pretty sure it was not by listening to his radio show. I doubt I could tune that show in on my radio in my small Ohio hometown. All I know is that I got his humor and his sense of humanity...even though at that age I could never have articulated that deep of a connection. And it was reading his stories of Lake Wobegon that I probably had my first real thoughts of being a writer. Truman Capote had a similar effect on me. At any rate, whenever it was that I did first encounter "A Prairie Home Companion" it was instant love.

I confess that I don't remember to tune into it all that often. I suffer from that horrible affliction of "too busy" sickness. Although these days I can download the podcasts...and I still don't remember to do THAT even. And when I do catch the local broadcast of the show or download a podcast, it fills my heart with such joy and inspiration. The words genius, hilarious, and beautiful are commonly repeated aloud while listening. I do love the long-running favorites of Guy Noir, The News from Lake Wobegon (which has brought me to tears in every way possible), and The Catchup Advisory Board promos (a personal favorite). Recently I have heard him do a skit a few times involving a guy in his 40's named Duane and the phone calls he has with his parents. That skit is in the show this week. Way too funny! And the characters are stereotypical perfection.

Before I started writing this post, I visited the show's website for a little inspiration. There is a section called "Post to the Host" that features comments people have posted for Garrison and his responses to their questions or comments. I'm so glad I took a few minutes to read through those because it was an AHA! moment for me and how I'm wired. I will probably expand on that in a future post... but I might keep it to myself. There were a couple where Garrison responds by describing the rest of the picture as prompted by the initial post. His responses seem less about merely acknowledging the fan's post and more about enhancing the experience the fan mentions. I think that it's beautiful how he does that. Because that is so much like life. If we focus too much on one specific thing we noticed in the midst of a larger event we limit the fullness of the experience. My AHA! moment came while reading the follow-up comments made by other fans- too much to share here.

A few years ago I had the chance to see Garrison perform live here in Cincinnati. It was not a broadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion." He was performing with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and he brought Robin & Linda Williams with him. I enjoyed it very much. AND, my favorite part of the experience was sitting next to an incarnation of my maternal grandparents. This couple I sat next to looked a lot like Naomi & Russ and behaved like them, too. Naomi had hearing aids she never wore so Russ had to repeat things to her regularly when she loudly complained she hadn't heard what was just said. This little old lady did exactly that! She opened her purse before the show started and looked at her hearing aids declaring "I don't want to fool with these tonight." Then had to ask her husband to repeat half of what Garrison was saying. I think they were lucky to be sitting next to me because most people would have been annoyed by this, but it tickled me pink! Furthermore, while speaking to them during intermission I found out the husband was a Methodist minister. Naomi's father was a Methodist minister. The show featured a couple of gospel songs and during the break the "Naomi clone" speculated loudly about whether the Jewish people in the audience were offended by the gospel music. It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud because that is EXACTLY what Naomi would have said!

The way Garrison tells a story makes me notice how the most seemingly trivial (some annoying) thing about a person's character can be the center of a climactic moment in a scene, whether it is joyful, beautiful, or heartbreaking. By portraying his characters with their complete truth he can create moments of solace in the midst of chaos. His stories set my thoughts about the people in my life, past (like Naomi & Russ) and present, in the context of grace.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Faith and Art: The Blog

My friend Stacie has a calling. It's a calling that I can relate to with every ounce of my being. Stacie has a relationship with God that inspires her to create art and to worship Him through art. Stacie and I share the belief that God is the ultimate Creator and that by being created by Him in His image that means we should delight in our own creativity. We are not, by any means, the only people who believe this. However, we are both saddened by the amount of people who love God yet shy away from their own creativity. And, it is not about whether you can only draw stick people or your entire house (and everything in it) is beige. To this end, Stacie was given a prompting by God to start the Faith and Art Blog. And I think, for Stacie, it was a bit like Noah building the ark. She launched the blog and then spent a good chunk of time on her own spiritual journey as to how it should look and WHY.

Recently, Stacie was asked to share her view on the connection of faith and art at a Sunday service of a new church in a Cincinnati suburb. She shared her favorite quote from her favorite book "Walking on Water" by Madeline L'Engle. I am copying it below as it is on the Faith and Art blog, embedded in an insightful paragraph written by Stacie:

"Let's be honest, the arts haven't always been compatible with Christianity. Sometimes it's because bad art gives all artists a bad name. Sometimes it's because art is inspired and therefore powerful and sometimes powerful can translate as dangerous. I think sometimes as Christians we are afraid to feel anything powerfully unless we feel it in church (or on a retreat, or small group or whatever.) And for a Christian to feel something so strong about something that is not blatently Christian? Can seem like we're somehow betraying God or our beliefs.

"And as I listen to the silence, I learn that my feelings about art and my feelings about the Creator of the Universe are inseparable. To try to talk about art and about Christianity is for me one and the same thing, and it means attempting to share the meaning of my life, what gives it, for me, its tragedy and its glory."

For L'Engle, finding "cosmos in chaos" is basically what determines "Christian" art from "Non-Christian" art. If you can look at a piece of artwork, read a book, sing a song that, while not necessarily being blatently Christian, makes you see some sort of divine meaning - cosmos, creation, life - in the chaos of a fallen world? Then it is good art. And it is Christian art. Because life, cosmos, creation? Are God. "

SO well said, Stacie! I am THRILLED that Stacie has found a new groove with her Faith and Art Blog and I invite you to explore new levels of your creativity by visiting it:

Stacie's new groove comes in the form of weekly lessons/challenges that people of all ages can tackle. And in each lesson she encourages a fresh perspective on how we see God's truth and grace in everyday things.

Monday, June 2, 2008

25th Post-iversary!

Welcome to my 25th Post-iversary! Since this is not a blog that literally documents my everyday life, nor does it spout off on hot topics or speak negatively about others - feel free to roam through my archives. Many of my posts contain ponderings that are poignant regardless of when I wrote them. Here's my personal Top 10 of the 25 posts, so far:

1) 50 First Dates - posted 12/5/07
2) Thing of Beauty - posted 12/8/07
3) Kirsty MacColl - posted 12/9/07
4) All Summer in a Day - posted 12/12/07
5) Sound of Music - posted 12/30/08
6) The Logical Song - posted 1/6/08
7) Humanity - posted 1/25/08
8) Reign Over Me - posted 1/27/08
9) U23D4ME - posted 2/10/08
10) Over the Rhine - posted 5/25/08

Thanks for pondering the Truth and Grace in everything with me!

Sunday, June 1, 2008


There's a great commercial for the cable company that shows 2 bored guys on an undercover stake-out discussing the great ideas they've come up while on stake-outs. Of course one of them is something that the cable company is now providing, so they end it with "Well, we still got spynoculars, right?" I have a couple of restaurant ideas that, if someone else puts them into action before I do... I'll get crackin' on those spynoculars. If anyone reading this wants to help me make these two ideas a reality, please leave your comments on this blog. Here they are:

Good to Go- a drive through restaurant that offers ONLY healthy food that meet the following criteria: contains NO high fructose corn syrup, uses only whole grain bread products, ingredients bought locally as much as possible, at least 3 low sodium choices, organic as much as possible.

Peacemeal- a upper scale or gourmet restaurant that publicizes and donates a large portion of profits to various not-for-profit organizations that positively impact the local community and/or world on a rotating basis. Possibility of having visiting celebrity chefs to raise even more awareness for specific causes. This restaurant would operate on reservations only with just a few pre fixe menu options to choose from.

These are just a couple of my many ideas of ways to infuse good stuff into society. I also have writing/screenplay ideas and a marketing idea for a thermal bag just big enough for a pint of ice-cream with a lock on it for those people who live with ice cream mooches (thus keeping the peace in many a home). But then again...there's always the spynoculars.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Over the Rhine

Over the Rhine is a section of downtown Cincinnati that is notorious for extreme poverty, crime, and drug dealing. In fact, the movie "Traffic" filmed it's U.S. inner-city drug dealing scenes in Over the Rhine. And there is another reason the name Over the Rhine is somewhat noteworthy. There is a great band from Cincinnati named Over the Rhine, lead by Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist. They are so good that they spend a good chunk of their time traveling to do live shows for their fans around the world. I happen to be a fan as well and have seen them a few times when they do hometown shows. Which leads me to the inspiration for this post. On Thursday, Linford walked into the coffee shop a couple of blocks from my place where I happened to be having lunch. They are in town for a show and rehearsed at the gorgeous old church across the street from my building. As I walked home a little while later I heard music and Karin's voice coming from the open windows of the church. It was a beautiful day and I walked slowly past the church to linger in the afternoon serenade. And got lost in thought about some of my favorite OTR lyrics.

Linford and Karin write great songs together. When I heard Karin sing "Drunkard's Prayer" live at an intimate concert, it sent chills up my spine and I declared I wanted it played at my wedding or at an anniversary celebration. Now I just have to find a husband who agrees with that song choice! ;-) Here are the lyrics:

You're my water
You're my wine
You're my whiskey
From time to time

You're the hunger
On my bones
All the nights
I sleep alone

Sweet intoxication
When your words
Wash over me

Whether or not
Your lips move
You speak to me

Like an ocean
Without waves
You're the movement
That I crave

And in that motion
I long to drown
And be lost not to be found
You're my water
You're my wine
You're my whiskey
From time to time

And then there's the lyrics to "The World Can Wait" which affirms the intimacy I feel with God and fills me with longing to bask in His presence, to be pulled even closer to His side. Here's a taste:

but tomorrow I can't imagine
how am I supposed to know
what's yet to go down ?
is there only one religion
the kind that whispers
when nobody comes around ?

the world can wait
the world can wait
I wanna drink the water from your well
I wanna tell you things i'll never tell
the world can wait
the world can wait
i'm wide awake
and the world can wait

I want to feel and then some
I have five senses
I need thousands more at least
every day a page of paper
every night a photograph
a moveable feast

so fade to black and white now
roll the movie of my life
inside of my head
'cause like all true believers
I am truly skeptical
of all that I have said

Those last few lines speak to me about those moments of doubt, when I replay scenes from my life trying to discern the truth or grace in me. And then the chorus kicks in reminding me the world can wait while I drink from His well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bathed in Prayer

Over the past several months I have become close friends with two wonderful families. I'll refer to them as the "S Family" and the "H Family" for the purpose of this post. The H Family has had a tragic year full of struggle and heartache on many levels. So a few weeks ago Mrs. S suggested praying over the H Family's house while they were away. I was having a busier week than usual and couldn't be there physically, so I told Mrs. S I'd write one of my signature prayers to hang in the H home. As I sat down to compose I prayed for inspiration and God gave me this:

Bathed in Prayer

We call Your Name, Blessed Be
With our rawest emotions
Wrapped in tears, wrapped in anguish
Guarded with logic, defended with pride
We offer our prayers

We call Your Name, Blessed Be
With Your sacred devotion
Strip us bare, embrace our search
See where we are, drenched with pain
You hear our prayers

We know Your Name, Blessed Be
With our fumbling faith
Full of despair, we wait, "Why?"
Steeped in blessing, infused with hope
We bathe in prayers

We know Your Name, Blessed Be
With Your water of life
Wash us pure, cleanse our church
Splashed with blood, redeemed by Christ
You lived our prayers

Splish Splash, I am takin' a bath!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lyrics Du Jour - Whole of the Moon

In honor of the full moon tonight I'm sharing the lyrics to one of my ALL TIME favorite songs. This song, "Whole of the Moon" by The Waterboys, has always deeply moved me spiritually. More often than not, if all my attention is focused on fully listening to the music and lyrics of this song, I get full body tingles that my sister and I refer to as "God Hugs." Yes, there are a few specific lines that capture how I feel about God, but mostly I think my feelings for this song are poetic rather than a scientific disection of language. Here are just a couple of stanzas:

I pictured a rainbow, You held it in your hand
I had flashes, butYou saw the plan
I wandered out in the world for years
While you just stayed in your room
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon

I was grounded, While you filled the skies
I was dumbfounded by truth, You cut through lies
I saw the rain dirty valley, You saw "Brigadoon"
I saw the crescent, You saw the whole of the moon- Yeah

Whenever I'm feeling frustrated about only seeing a sliver of God's perfect balance of Truth & Grace, this song lifts my spirits and raises my voice in praise and reverence of His Glory.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar Buzz

No, this isn't about my predictions for who the Oscar will go to. As a matter of fact, I'm watching the Academy Awards as I type this- and I'm feeling the adrenaline buzz I get every year. I love the Oscars!

While I do appreciate the beautiful dresses to a certain degree, I don't care too much for the red carpet hoopla prior to the ceremonies. No, what I love about the Oscars is the acknowledgment of creative genius in all areas of movie making. When I see a great movie I steep in the complete experience- great direction & vision, cinematography, production, music, and an actor who can transcend their celebrity.

My definition of an amazing acting performance IS when the actor so completely portrays the character that the viewer forgets which actor is playing the part. Some examples of this (in my opinion) are: Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot (or anything else he does), Jamie Fox in Ray, Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain, Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, The Insider, etc. (again, anything else he does), Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice, The Devil Wears Prada, etc. (anything she does), Gary Oldman in Sid & Nancy... okay, so I could go ON... I have a whole list of actors who seem to always lose themselves in their roles. Then, there are a few actors who are always excellent AND you always know who the actor is... Jack Nicholson is one of those, Judi Dench (for the most part), Emma Thompson (love her!), Laura Linney, Denzel Washington, etc. Well anyway, I digress... I love great acting...

And then there's those "Oscar Moments"- sometimes it is an acceptance speech that makes me feel like I, sitting on my couch in my jammies, have just won something, too. Sometimes it is the host who captures the audience with quick wit, or due to their incredible writing team who writes their schtick. Sometimes it is a great comic moment by a presenter. Some of my most favorite recent comic moments have been by Will Farrell... the year he presented the Oscar for Best Makeup- hilarious! And the time he and Jack Black wrote lyrics to the music that swells to cut off a long acceptance speech- genius!

I love the Oscars so much it is a secret (not so secret now) dream of mine to actually win an Oscar...for what I'm not sure yet- probably that great screenplay I haven't written yet, but God only knows! Well, even if I never win an would be pretty cool to be a part of the Oscar Production somehow... maybe as a seat filler? ;-) In a nutshell, I love movies for the way they embrace and celebrate humanity and I love the Oscars for the way creative humans are celebrated.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


My friend, Chelle, admits she isn't the biggest U2 fan, so when she told me I had to go see U23D, I knew it must be extra good. And it was. Anyone who knows me, knows I AM a huge U2 fan and they have consistently been one of my all time favorites since 1981 or so. I remember that when I got my tix to see The Police on the Ghost in the Machine tour, there were rumors that U2 would be the opening act and I was super psyched about that! Turns out they only opened for the first leg of that tour and Joan Jett opened for the second leg...I got the Jett leg (pun intended).

Here's another little nugget that I very rarely share with anyone- When I was 17 (that was in 1984- yes, I am old)I wrote a fan letter to U2. I don't remember exactly what I wrote. I remember that I prayed fiercely before writing the letter. I had no idea where to send the letter so I sent it c/o their recording studio, Dublin, Ireland. I'm not even sure I had a street address, but I had an innocent faith it would reach them somehow. Several months later I got a postcard in the mail from Ireland. It has 3 pictures of the band on the front and the only words on the front are SISTER SISTER. On the back is a handwritten note that reads: "Dear Emily, Thank you for your letter which I have passed on to the band. Unfortunately they are unable to reply personally as I'm sure you understand." And it is signed by Cecilia. I still have the post card!

Anyway, I'm so glad I took the opportunity to see U23D- it is an awesome experience! Although it is live footage of them in concert in Argentina, I can't compare it to seeing them live. And, by the way, I did see them live twice on the Joshua Tree tour (still have my concert t-shirt). First of all, the 3D effects brought the entire band much closer than one could get seeing them in concert. Also, if I were seeing them live I would NOT be sitting still, calmly munching on popcorn! I would have been up on my feet, smashed into the crowd around me, singing along with them, and screaming with glee until my voice gave out. Somehow, I don't think the people sitting behind me in the theater would have appreciated any of that! ;-)

But that reminds me of the time I went to see Rattle and Hum with my friend, PJ. We went to a matinee in the small town I grew up in and we were the ONLY 2 people in the entire theater. So, we DID act like we were at a live show! We had so much fun! We stood, we cheered, we lit a lighter and swayed back and forth with the crowd on the screen...and laughed when the usher came in and caught us acting that way. PJ and I used to do all sorts of silly things together. He is one of those friends who has always offered me limitless grace.

U2 and I go way back. And I have always had a deep spiritual understanding of their music. I know there are all sorts of people who feel the same way and books have been written to point out all the biblical references in their songs. But from the first time I heard "Gloria," their music delivers me straight into a zone of worshiping God. It is a worship zone without pretense or excuses. It is a zone where I feel the intensity of God's perfect balance of truth and grace. It is a zone that conjures pure praise.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Reign Over Me

This could be considered a sequel to the Humanity post. When "Reign Over Me" was released I knew I wanted to see it, but for some reason didn't - until today. Okay, so am I the only person that sees so much of God's truth in Adam Sandler flicks? (see my post on "50 First Dates" for more) Well, this movie was not a comedy- and, as with most dramas, there are some very funny moments. But more than anything, it is overflowing with outstanding observations on humanity, and our need for the balance of truth and grace.

"Reign Over Me" is a movie that needs to be fully experienced. The blend of images, characters, and perfect soundtrack can't be spoiled by whatever I may share about it here.

Allen Johnson (played by Don Cheadle) is a successful dentist with strong moral character (and a bit of an issue with keeping healthy boundries). Allen sees an old friend from college, Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler) while stuck in traffic. He eventually catches up with Charlie, but Charlie is obviously not in his right mind. Rather than running from Charlie and his decline, Allen embraces the chance to get reacquainted with his old friend. Allen shows Charlie grace at every turn, even in the midst of Allen's own personal turmoil and pain. There are times in this movie where it seems Allen risks his dental practice, his marriage, his reputation, his pride- all in an effort to show some grace to his old friend Charlie. And he doesn't fully understand Charlie's behaviors. All he knows is Charlie had lost his wife in children in the 9/11 terrorist attack. And Charlie's response to his loss is to withdraw from any recognition of his life before that day. Allen doesn't pretend to have all the answers either. There are times where he is obviously baffled about what to do with or for his friend. But Allen never stops offering him grace. And slowly, in his own way, Charlie responds to Allen's grace. Yes, it gets messy at times. But isn't that true of anyone's life?

See, that is what is so amazing about God's grace. Whatever our truth is, wherever we are in our ability to deal with life or how we respond to pain... God is true to his promise of offering the most perfect grace anyone could ever want. And sometimes God uses us to show grace to others. We just need to have open hearts to the humanity of our lives.

Friday, January 25, 2008


This post is long...apologies in advance. Today my friend, Stacie, sent an email in response to this heartbreaking and amazing report ( - search: Our Hidden Communities) about 4 men who were stabbed through the heart in December, in a suburb of Cincinnati. I have copy and pasted the email below (with Stacie's permission & encouragement), which includes her message to the two journalists who composed the report. Stacie wrote:

"Ok. I just sent this email off. Because seriously? I'm a wreck. I know this is a big political/legal thing but the basics of the fact that people are so desperate that they'll risk their lives to try to make things better for their family? Floors me and makes me realize how not only are we so blessed, but we're so far removed from situations like this that we can't even comprehend what motivates people to break the law in order to survive. I hate that the fact that four men died and left behind family and friends who have to deal with the emotions AND how they'll survive. I feel helpless. I'm tired of feeling helpless. This was the only thing I could think of...

Am I losing my mind?! Why can I not just read an article, be "touched" by it then move on? Oy vey :-P

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Stacie
Date: Jan 25, 2008 12:10 PM
Subject: Immigration article - thank you

Hi -

I just got a chance to read your more in-depth stories about the four Mexican gentlemen who were killed in Sharonville. First I want to thank you for giving these men some humanity. I know the illegal immigration issue is something that has to be dealt with from an economic and basic infra-structure standpoint for the U.S. I just cringe at the thinking that seems to say it's ok to be anti-Hispanic "because they might be illegal" when the reality is that most people have no clue how the immigration system works. And obviously, you cannot tell if someone is legal by looking at them. And even if someone IS illegal, they're still a human being and deserve the same basic human rights we do while we try to sort out the rest.

Ok, sorry to rant :) We moved here from the Washington DC area a year and half ago and it's taking time to get used to it (I grew up here but have spent most of my adult life in Maryland.)

ANYWAY, the reason I'm contacting you. The basic sadness in all this is the humanity. That there are people back in Mexico who now have no clue how they'll survive. I know if I were to leave a comment in the article comments section about how to help the families of these men that it will most likely not go over well and may even be overlooked. But IS there some way to help these people? We're not "rich" and we live on a budget. But we're SO blessed. I just can't stand the idea that these men were killed in our city and that's the end.

We can afford come cinder block, PVD plumbing piping and whatever else it takes to make their lives a little easier. But I'm just one person and have never done anything like that before and don't know where to start. We're not currently affiliated with any church, I have no fund raising experience and having only been back here for a year (and living in the very suburbany suburbs... which... oy vey) I feel terribly disconnected and don't know where to start. If nothing else, is there a way I can send something to these families? An address? How can my family and I help? I don't necessarily need to start an organization or relief fund. I'd just like to be able to send them some money or basic items or maybe get some friends together and try to take care of this village a little bit.

Please know this isn't some temporary thought just brought up emotionally by your articles. It IS emotional. But it's also a realization that being "just one person" can make a difference to one other person. I know I can't change the whole thing by myself. But I also know I can go to the post office and mail something to someone to help them out. So, how can I do that?

Regardless, thank you for the time and effort and obvious care you put into your work on this story. " -Stacie

I was deeply moved by Stacie's reaction and promptly wrote this reply to her:

Well said, Stacie! I do think it breaks God's heart and therefore it SHOULD break our hearts too. There is a song by U2 that captures this emotion for me...maybe this will be my Blog post for the day... but here it is for YOU:

When you look at the world
What is it that you see
People find all kinds of things
That bring them to their knees

I see an expression
So clear and so true
That changes the atmosphere
When you walk to the room

So I try to be like you
Try to feel it like you do
But without you its no use
I cant see what you see
When I look at the world

When the night is someone else's
And you're trying to get some sleep
When your thoughts are too expensive
To ever want to keep

When theres all kinds of chaos
And everyone is walking lame
You don't even blink now do you
Don't even look away

So I try to be like you
Try to feel it like you do
But without you its no use
I cant see what you see
When I look at the world

I cant wait any longer
I cant wait 'til I'm stronger
Cant wait any longer
To see what you see
When I look at the world

I'm in the waiting room
I cant see for the smoke
I think of you and your holy book
When the rest of us choke

Tell me tell me
What do you see
Tell me tell me
Whats wrong with me

When I hear this song I hear it as a conversation Bono is having with God about how hard it is to be human and see other humans suffering, and how easy it is for humans to just look away when they see tragedy. Our hearts are hardened out of self preservation it seems. I think it is a song of questions, questioning God on how are we supposed to deal with it all?
You are great, Stacie! I know it is easy to beat ourselves up when we are having more emotions about something than the people around us. But it doesn't mean our emotions are wrong or that we should be able to read about a tragedy and just feel "touched" by it. I know, I know.

Thanks for writing that letter to the authors.

In His Grace,

Thanks, Stacie, for keeping the eyes of your heart open to humanity. And thanks for sharing your genuine agony over how to offer grace to those grieving in Villa de Ramos, Mexico.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Lyrics du Jour- The Freest Man

This is sort of a follow up post to the Encouragement subject. This one is particularly about encouraging a friend who may be working through issues and the importance of showing them grace in such a way they really feel grace. This means that sometimes we need to go beyond the quick fix answers or the pat response of "Well let me know if there's anything I can do for you." However well intentioned that offer may be, a person feeling less than worthy or far from grace may need a little more nudging to KNOW that their vulnerable issue won't be mishandled. I feel today's lyrics du jour selection from Tilly and the Wall is spot on what I'm talking about.

It should be noted that these lyrics live in a most deliciously upbeat and fun environment. I first heard of Tilly and the Wall in a music review about a year ago in Relevant Magazine. The reviewer said, "This is the boy/girl sing along CD you never knew you needed!" Based on that I bought it and dubbed it a new favorite immediately. And as you will see, deeper than fun lyrics:

"this boy i know lives in a bell jar
it is balancing up on it's pedestal
he tries not to upset the weight of conscience
afraid it's so far to fall if no one catches him
but I've been there too, and I swear to god
if I can help you, please, you've got to tell me how
I know you've been away, and it can break you down
and I don't want you gone

all the cracks you see can be repaired
and if you start to fall, we will be there
don't drown yourself in all your old regrets
because that heavyness will steal away your breath

step out of that life
it's nowhere near your time

and don't forget that you called it all bulls**t
well it still is and if you stop giving into it
you will walk away the freest man"

These lyrics remind me on a soul level of Hebrews 10:24 "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." When we do that we are encouraging freedom.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Recently a friend was sharing about a time when she felt “shut down” by a person in a leadership role. I find it heart breaking when I encounter a leader who doesn’t see how effective encouragement can be when given generously. Encouraging each other is talked about many times in the Bible. I think it is because grace can always be found there. God is all about grace. And when we encourage another we are showing that we believe in them. When I’m muddling through new ideas or considering new options for my life, knowing I have friends and family who believe in me is priceless. And something I know about the people who truly love me is that even if they don’t understand or see my vision, they will tell me so with a spin of encouragement.

One of my favorite songwriters, Ben Harper, captures the weight of encouragement well here:

“the good lord is such a good lord
with such a good mother too
they have blessed me
in the good graces of you

i have heard a hundred violins crying
i have seen a hundred white doves flying
but nothing is as beautiful
as when she believes in me”

In the leadership program I did, I was regularly reminded that my number one job as a leader is to say, “Yes you can!” People and teams are more productive when they know their ideas and contributions are appreciated, even if not implemented. And if a person in a leadership role doesn’t think the vision being pitched is a good fit for the cause, there is always a way to speak the truth with love and grace.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Lyrics du Jour- The Logical Song

Supertramp had a few hits when I was a kid. Probably the most well known one these days is "Give a Little Bit" because the GooGoo Dolls did a cover of it not too long ago. The lyrics to that are great, too. "The Logical Song" was also on the radio back in the day. I remember liking it back then but not fully grasping the lyrics. Then in the mid 90's I was in a leadership program and one of the facilitators played it to get us to think about our adult roles differently. Ever since that day, I have a had a new appreciation for these lyrics:

"When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily,
Joyfully, playfully watching me.
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
Clinical, intellectual, cynical.

There are times when all the worlds asleep,
The questions run too deep
For such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd
But please tell me who I am."

I'm sharing these lyrics here and now because I've been reading "Searching for God Knows What" by Donald Miller. The chapter titled "Naked" unpacks the profound beauty of how God created us to be in relationship with Him. The chapter is titled "Naked" because it ponders in detail the story of the Garden of Eden. It's great stuff and I encourage everyone to read it for themselves. I can't do it justice here. But the lyrics above were playing loudly in my brain when I read this:

"If man was wired so that something outside of himself told him who he was, and if God's presence was giving him a feeling of fulfillment, then when that relationship was broken, man would be pining for other people to tell him that he was good, right, okay with the world, and eternally secure."

Yet another example of God's perfect balance of Grace and Truth. I bet Supertramp has no clue how their lyrics so accurately display some basics of Genesis Chapters 1-3.