Saturday, July 30

a few months away...

of places, of trips, of people

of new coffee spots, new church, new scenery

of a different ocean, new cell phone!!, new reasons to skype

of taking subways, being close to presently distant friends, seeing historical places

of minimizing possessions, adventures in the snow, being astounded by heat

of visiting amish, laughing and imitating east coast accents, attending Bible classes

of visiting DC, New York, and Atlantic City

Tuesday, July 26

A traumatic experience

This is camping season...something most people look forward to.

I'm not much of a camper, mainly because our family only went camping a couple times...and by couple I do mean 2 times!! They were both miserable experiences, as both times we were cold and wet. I think the second time we even left for home in the middle of the night because we were so wet and miserable. I'm pretty sure it was my mom who vetoed any such further attempts, not that any of us kids complained. My poor dad...

But this little post is not about those experiences but rather of a camping experience I had when I was 18.

I went to a one-year Bible school in British Columbia, Canada, the year after I graduated from high school. At the beginning of the school year (September), they offer various field trips that you can sign up for, to have "bonding time" with fellow students. By the time I arrived, there were only a couple options left, one of which was kayaking to another nearby island and then camping for the weekend. I signed up, uncertain but willing to give the whole camping thing a try, and hoped for the best.

I don't remember much of the experience as I was traumatised the first night we were there.

I do remember it being overcast and rainy...which I obviously have learned to associate with camping nothing new there. We ended up sleeping in a open covered shelter...all of us laying there in a row. Girls on one side, boys on the other. In the dark. In the open. Pretty soon, I could hear skittering of little tiny rodent feet running around where we were laying. I tried so hard to disregard all of it and fall asleep. I actually managed to fall asleep at one point only to wake up when I felt something on my face. I quickly brush my face, with my hands, only to be horrified to hear the skittering run off in the opposite direction. Folks! A MOUSE WAS ON MY FACE!!! (at least we're calling it a mouse because anything else would only be more traumatizing.) I freaked out in a quiet-don't-wake-anyone-up type of way and decided that this was definitely NOT FUN! I spent the rest of the night trying to bury myself in my sleeping bag while trying to keep myself from suffocating with the minimal air inside.

This being said, I'd be willing to try this whole camping thing again...probably NOT out in the open so that critters could visit me...but in a tent. And in a location that is know for sunny, dry summers. Because there has to be a reason why people like camping so much...right? Maybe one day I'll learn why.

Thursday, July 21

Spiritual Gifts

I've always enjoyed studying and learning and thinking about spiritual gifts. It's probably because I enjoy taking personality quizzes and other such tools to learn about how I'm wired.

**Spiritual gifts are those gifts/traits that the Holy Spirit gives, once you are a follower of Christ. The purpose of those gifts is to edify the body of Christ and to minister to the world around us. This is where the church working together as one body becomes important...the Holy Spirit has given you gifts that I do not have, and visa versa.

So, two Sunday's ago, I was downstairs teaching Sunday school to the kiddos and missed the sermon. I was told twice that week that I should listen to it. So this past Sunday, I picked up a CD copy and the topic is spiritual gifts. Here are some of the questions that the guest preacher asked:
  1. What opportunities does God keep placing before you?
  2. What have others said that you do well?
  3. What need or passion regularly gets you engaged?
  4. In what areas do you have an appetite to be trained?
  5. What's the next step?
In case you'd like a good spiritual gifts test, try this one. It's fairly decent and offers good descriptions of your gifts, at the end.

Anyhow, this sermon has filled my thoughts. I'm facing a fairly big move with all the financial obligations of that commitment. And I'm wondering how this pursuit fits into the those questions above.

Monday, July 18

Things I'm Thankful For

For the past, I don't know, two (?) months, I have felt an emptiness in regards to this I have nothing to share. I can't even tell you how many times I've opened up a "new post" page, stared at it with nothing coming to mind, and then closed it all down again. I've even contemplated shutting her down but I am normally a thinker/processor who likes to do so in written form. So I'm not shutting her down but nor can I predict if or when an influx of consistent inspiration might hit.

Hey, if push comes to shove, I'll be making a cross-country trip at the end of the year...that should provide material worth writing about...

Anyhow, so for today, I thought I'd share some things that I'm thankful for:
  • finishing a baby blanket that I am actually quite pleased with
  • sermons that challenge and affirm what God is teaching me
  • summer produce...yum and yum
  • free time which allows me to volunteer in new ministries
  • people who speak into my life, whether directly or indirectly
  • an opportunity to see an old friend and her kiddos
  • fellowship that comes with my church family
  • anticipation of fun online purchases (a book and a TV show)
  • and for coffee...because without it, I wouldn't be where I am today. Thanks and God bless!
So what are you thankful for?

Tuesday, July 12

Not from around these parts...

A couple weeks ago, I went up to Ontario, Canada to visit some friends and attend a wedding.
Because I almost never get out to that area, I decided to rent a car and see a few people. The first trip I made was from Toronto, Ontario to Toledo, Ohio.

View Larger Map

En route, I found a Starbucks while in Ontario. I gave the barista my "gold card" (which means I visit Starbucks too much probably), which automatically told her that I was from the States. Apparently in Canada, they do not have the gold card.

Barista: I wish we had these here. Where are from?
Me: Seattle, Washington
Barista: SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!! Have you been to the original one? I think all baristas probably dream of visiting the original one!!!
Me: Yeah...I've been there. It's pretty tiny but it's always busy. It has no seating and uses the original's pretty neat!
Barista: I'm so jealous!
Me: Okay...thanks...bye.

That kept me chuckling for a little while. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!

Then the next adventure came when I arrived to the US border.
Picture this with me: American girl, from Washington state, driving a Canadian rental car, coming from Toronto, driving to Ohio which is clearly not my home. Can we say suspicious?
The border patrol guy wanted to play 20 questions with me and didn't seem to appreciate my enthusiasm.

Border guy: Where are going?
Me: Toledo, Ohio
BG: For how long?
Me: I return in two days.
BG: What are doing in Toronto?
Me: I was visiting friends but when I head back up I'll be going to Barrie to attend a wedding.
BG: How do you know this guy?
Me: We went to college together.
BG: When is he getting married?
Me: Sunday.
BG: When are you going home?
Me: Next Monday
BG: Where do you live?
Me: Everett, Washington
BG: Where do you work?
Me: (at this point, I'm thinking "Sheesh...")
BG: How often do you come up here?
Me: Never! (chuckling)
BG: Never?
Me: (no longer chuckling) Okay, well I came to Toronto back in 2004 but never have been to Toledo.

And just when I thought he was going to ask for my social security number, fingerprints, or my first-born child, he finally(!!) said I could go.

That, my friends, was a good trip!

Monday, July 11

My heart for Judaism

One thing about me that not many people know is that God has given me a love for Judaism.

I remember one day as a kid (11 or 12 years old, I think), I remember thinking about the Bible and some of the various stories that are in it. It occurred to me that Jewish people are related to Abraham and David and Esther and Daniel and of course, to Jesus! To me that was the coolest thing know you are related to these people!!! So I mentioned to my mom "I wish we were Jewish" which my mom frowned over.

The frown is something I've received a few times. It's not that anyone is's just that they don't understand why I wish I was Jewish when, as a Christian, I have been grafted into and adopted as an heir of Jesus' family anyway.

Honestly I'm not sure I can explain it anyways.

Seeing as there is no way I'll ever become Jewish, as conversion would have to happen which would mean declaring that I am still waiting for the Messiah which I won't do as I know He has already probably doesn't matter if I can explain my rationale to people or not. At any rate, I have periods of times when I can't read enough about Jewish observances, beliefs, and practices.

I think the thing that really draws me towards Judaism, beside the family lineage, is the element of holiness. The kosher lifestyle was created to set apart the Jewish people from the rest of the world. By observing food laws, cleaning laws, laws about relationships, holidays, and more, they looked and acted differently than the plethora of people around them. And when people observed and studied these Jewish people, the reason for their behaviors what God. God was invited into the center of all they did. The mundane became holy.

How often do I put food in my mouth without thinking?
How often do I clean my place with resignation or grumbling?
How often do I fail to invite God into even the little things when ALL things have the ability to be a reflection of Him?

Okay, okay...I know I do not have to be Jewish to invite God into the mundane. And I know I could be Jewish and just as easily forget to keep my focus on God, just as I do now.'s a moot point.

All this to say, I've learned a few things from this love-relationship:
--The invitation to allow the mundane to become holy is still an invitation open to God's children...a call I would like to practice more consciously!
--Just as people were supposed to see a difference in the Jewish people, people should see a difference in me.
--If I ever have a chance to go to Israel or other Bible-story locations, or I could learn Hebrew, or if I could befriend a practicing Jewish woman, or, or, or....I'd be delighted.

And that's all that comes to mind.

Friday, July 8

Mercy triumphs over judgment

I've been working my way through James.

In James 2:12, there's a little phrase at the end that says "mercy triumphs over judgment." A question that popped into my mind was whether or not this is applicable to God. God is the ultimate Judge and is full of mercy. And I've always heard that He does not (cannot?) compromise one to reveal the other. However, the word "triumph" implies that one is victorious while the other is not.

This makes me think of the people of Nineveh. Many people know the story of he's sent to tell the people of Nineveh that they have 40 days until destruction for their disobedience. A message of judgment, not mercy. And yet, the people recognized their sin and immediately repented of their ways and what happened? God showed mercy, not judgment. Mercy won!

Then Jonah shares a key verse to explain why mercy won: "for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity" (Jonah 4:2). As I've written before, these phrases of God's character are repeated 8 times in the Old Testament. Characteristics that speak of God's unending mercy and unlimited love.

Even in my own life this is applicable. Sin and destruction permeated my heart and mind. I was on a road that ended with God's judgment. And yet at the point of repentance, Mercy stepped in and saved me. Jesus' received all of God's judgment so that mercy can triumph in our lives.

Hmmm...maybe it's at the cross where God does not (cannot) compromise these two attributes. For all the mercy that we are shown, Jesus received all the judgment. I'll have to chew on this a bit more.

Anyhow, this is what I've been thinking through. May mercy triumph in and through you today!