Wednesday, December 31, 2008


so, 2009 is just about 5 hours away...crazy...

2008 has been a pretty good year. i've learned a lot about myself, the hard way, all too often. i've lived by myself for an entire year, which has had its ups and downs, and contributed to the learning about myself. i've worked at church, with youth, for a year as well, and that's also taught me a lot about myself (i see a pattern developing). i've been in seminary a full year, AND completed 24 credit hours! i've met some incredible people, and developed some great friendships.

my ten year high school reunion was this year. i've read a number of incredible books, i preached my first sermon, helped a church plant in canada, played a lot of practical jokes, became even more ridiculously addicted to coffee, went to mardi gras parades for the first time in years, learned a little bit more about the value of having hard conversations, celebrated birthdays and holidays with my family for the first time in a while, remodeled and rerented my house, drove Mac Powell around lafayette in my friend's car, dreamed big, and saw somethings soar and others flop, wrote a cheesy rap for my friend's birthday, drank way too many soft drinks (after planning to give them up!), spent a week in new orleans seeing first hand the way people are still being affected by Katrina, got to hold my friends' baby girl just a few days after she was born, got to be a co leader for Disciple Now, went to universal studios in orlando, spent WAY too many hours in class in pineville, spent an entire year not in India, went on an amazing spiritual retreat out at lake fausse, saw power and joy of prayer more than ever before in my life, drove my mom's van into a ditch, went to catalyst in atlanta with my friend andrea and had an INCREDIBLE time, made a fool out of myself singing karaoke with teenagers (and loved it!), started running the cafe at church and learned how to make lattes in the coffee shop.

i could definitely go on, but i've got to get to a new year's party now. it really has been a good year--not all that expected, and yet, also more than i expected. i'm excited about 2009, and definitely have some goals that i'm thinking through, which i'll probably work on more on the spiritual retreat this weekend.

happy new years!

overall, i've had a lot of

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Galatians 5:16-23, The Message

16-18My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don't you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

19-21It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom.

22-23But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

This passage really hit me when I read it this morning. I'm definitely going to have to chew on it more, but what jumped out at me first was the description of the "kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time" in verses 19-21.

Every time I read through it, I think, this is insane. Is all that really possible from just trying to get your own way? From just being kinda sorta selfish? I've seen bits and pieces of the truth of it already, in my own selfishness and in others, and it's scary to think about what could really come from it. Very scary.

But the hope of freedom, real freedom. That's something I haven't really wrapped my mind around--can we, really? I've been reading The Shack these past few days, and one of the characters says something about freedom: "Freedom is a process that happens inside a relationship with Him."

I love and hate that. I have this desire to just be able to do whatever I want, to be free of anyone and everything else. Not to need anyone or anything.

But that's not really freedom, is it?

Sounds a lot more like selfishness, which is a scary thought.

So, freedom...a process...found in a relationship...with Him...freedom somehow implying dependence, need, relationship, love. All things that seem the opposite of freedom. Or maybe just the opposite of selfishness, which disguises itself as freedome, but is actually the ultimate slave driver...


Monday, December 29, 2008

one last christmas song

i love clever songs and song writers. i hadn't really paid much attention to sara groves, until i recently heard this song on the radio. it's hilarious, and definitely made me interested in hearing more of her stuff. check it out:

Toy Packaging
Sara Groves

Nothing makes me lose my cool like
Toy packaging
Ask the kids to leave the room for
Toy packaging
I have no choice the money's spent
I've worked for hours to make a dent
I guess it's anger management
Toy packaging

Nothing makes me lose my cool like
Toy packaging
Ask the kids please leave the room it's time for
Toy packaging
I'm drawing up a battle plan
to extricate this robot man
My self-esteem is in the can
Toy packaging

In the old days you could hold a box and shake it
And hear the pieces rattling around
My eyes tear up with these grommets, tape and twisty ties
Remembering their beautiful sound

Toy Packaging
I love Toy Packaging
(Mom! Honey!)

Nothing makes me lose my cool like toy packaging
Kids you really need to leave the room, mom's opening toy packaging
I'm sorry you have to see this sight
You must be brave, no please don't cry
I promise it will be alright
I hope to have it by tonight
Nevermind this dynamite
Toy packaging

this link has the song, though i'm not sure it's the whole thing, but you'll get the idea: toy packaging song

Sunday, December 28, 2008


started reading The Shack recently. i'd heard about it a lot, since the beginning of the fall, and when i heard the author speak at Catalyst in October, i knew i wanted to read it, but it had to be added to my "when the semester's over" reading list. i'm liking it so far, and very curious about what will come of reading it.

also saw a few other books i'd like to look into more: love and respect (don't know the author), taste and see by john piper, and just recently a friend led me to a link for amy carmichael's Things As They Are online, which i'm looking forward to reading. i've wanted to read something by her, or just more about her, for quite a while.

that's about it for today.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

there's hope...

found this in an old journal last night:

life doesn't get any easier
it doesn't always get better
there's no guarantee that someday
the pieces will all fit together

then i played around with it and added this:

but i know, i know
there's hope. there's hope.

probably sounds better with me singing it, but maybe not. i've been thinking about this a lot lately: what do you do with the junk life throws you, or that gets thrown at those around you.

i know a number of people who've been in the hospital this week--one, a kid who may have bone cancer. he's 12. i got some very sad news from a friend the other night--their house burned on Christmas eve day, and in the house next door, 3 little boys and a teenage girl died.

what do you do with that? what do you say, as a friend, a follower of Christ.

i really have no clue. all i know is that 2 things keep coming back to me: God saying, Trust Me, and this truth, sometimes very small, that there is hope. period. i have to wrestle with it sometimes to hold on to it, but i know it's worth it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas Hymn

Many songs have been sung
Of what happened that night
In a stable in Bethlehem town

A star led to the Savior,
A babe in a manger,
What a curious place for a King to be found

It was a gift that came
Wrapped in hay and tears
After silence that lasted
For 400 years

He seemed a package too small
For a future so grand
An innocent child
With the world in His hands

So how can it be—
The King of Kings sleeps on a bed of hay
Surrounded by shepherds, all singing His praise.
Seems a birth far too common and lowly For a babe so precious and holy,
So small, so precious, so holy

Now that baby grew
To be more than a man—
The Hope of the world,
Our lives in His hands

A promise fulfilled
From the dawn of time
Perfectly human
Completely divine

But in our foolishness,
Like sheep gone astray
We ignored this Good Shepherd
And each went our own way

Yet it was in love He came
To rescue the lost,
So He paid with His life
To spare us sin’s cost

But how can it be—
That our Savior’s wounds could heal our sins,
Or His punishment bring us new life in Him?
Seems too brutal, too cruel and too lowly
For One so precious and holy
Our Savior, so precious, so holy

Now Bethlehem’s star
Points the way to the cross
And history forever changed
As God dwelt among us

It’s a story we know,
But a truth we forget—
From the smallest of things
Came the greatest of Gifts

So in our darkest days,
There’s hope to be found
Because of what started that night
In Bethlehem town

Still, how can it be—
That the greatest story ever told
Began so simple and lowly?
Our Savior was born in a stable—
Messiah, a babe in a manger—
So small, so precious, so holy
So small, so precious, so holy

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

totally supposed to be doing about a dozen other things right now, such as: helping mom with the food for tonight and tomorrow, finishing Christmas presents, wrapping those presents, writing the rest of the Christmas song, etc.

but, i'm drinking a grande skinny iced raspberry latte from CCs and posting a quick blog. merry christmas!

yesterday mom and andrea and i went last minute shopping. it was actually a lot more fun than i could have imagined. the traffic and whatnot was fairly crazy, but it didn't bother me because the 3 of us had such a good time hanging out. we didn't get on each others nerves, even while running around the mall and walmart! it was truly a blessing and a great Christmas present in itself.

tonight, we have a Christmas eve service at church (actually, in about an hour and a half...). should be pretty cool.

oh, one last thing: i've been thinking about this for a while, and might as well go ahead and post it before christmas, even though it's a bit late for anyone that might be interested in Christmas shopping tips (yes, that's why you're here reading this blog, i know!). so, here are my tips/philosophy on christmas shopping:

1. surprise! this is my number one rule of gift giving--i do NOT like to be told what i'm getting, and i don't do this to other people, because being surprised is my favorite part of getting a gift. big or small, i just love the surprise.

2. personal gifts: i love giving people something that i know they want, but are not necessarily expecting. something i've heard them mention in a conversation or something connected to something they like a lot.

3. making creative gifts: part of this just may be because i'm typically too broke to buy lots of big gifts, but i love if i can make something cool for someone else, esp with pictures or something meaningful.

4. quality time gifts: closely tied to number 3. last year i had no idea what to get for my pre teen cousins, so i made them little gift certificates to go to the movies with me. not as exciting as all the other toys and games they were ripping open, but pretty cool to spend the afternoon with them a few days later watching the Chipmunks movie. these quality time gifts (lunch, coffee) aren't fool proof because i've found it pretty hard to schedule time with people this year for some of their gifts, but i still like the idea of planning to do something fun TOGETHER.

5. when all else fails... CC's gift card. i love coffee, and i love to get CC's gift cards, and give coffee to other people as a present. so, if you get coffee from me this year, it's a gift straight from the heart :)

well, that's pretty much it. i definitely need to get back on track now. night is coming quickly and santa's on his way!


Monday, December 22, 2008

rebuilding, restoring, and starting over...

lots of different thoughts earlier today, but i seem to be drawing somewhat of a blank right i'll start with a story/picture.

don't worry, this isn't me actually throwing up, but it definitely looked that way. i was at jason's deli yesterday after church and somehow, while telling a story and waving my hands all around, managed to spill my whole bowl of tomato basil soup on me and jason. it was all over my shirt, jeans, shoes, the floor, the table, jason's pants and jacket--EVERYTHING! so gross too, because it totally looked like, well, you know what...but, as i like to think, most anything can become a funny story--somethings it takes a while, but there's still usually something funny to be found. this is funny now, and if i get the stains out of my new shirt, it'll be even funnier.

on another note, something i was thinking about this morning:

"They'll rebuild the old ruins,
raise a new city out of the wreckage.
They'll start over on the ruined cities,
take the rubble left behind and make it new."

This is from the Message, somewhere in the first 7 verses of Isaiah 61. i've always liked this passage, especially the part about the "oaks of righteousness" becaue i LOVE oak trees. but today, this part about building and restoring struck me. we went out the the Habitat for Humanity site in Kaplan today to check out what they're doing and what we'll get to be a part of in January for our Disciple Now youth retreat. there was a lady there who was working on her house and hoping to be in by Christmas. i just thought, wow, this is beyond what i can really imagine or comprehend. similar to being in New Orleans last may during all the disaster relief work--i can't imagine what it'd be like to have a city, your city and home, ruined. and then to rebuild.

i was in india when Katrina hit, and watching it from several thousand miles away was very surreal. to be here now and think about rebuilding, honestly, part of me just thinks, wouldn't be easier to just leave? go somewhere new? start over? and i know many people have. but what boggles my mind is those who have worked so hard to come back, who have that strong feeling of home, even if home will never be the same again. i don't understand that, not really. it was amazing to come back to lafayette after being gone 2 years, but that's not exactly the same. i find that sense of home very interesting and something i think i want more of, to feel settled, invested, willing to work and fight for a place--and not just the land or buildings, but the community, the people, the home-ness, if that makes sense.

i've wrestled a lot with different thoughts about this lately, just thinking how much easier it is to reset, to start over, to move and leave and begin again. not to rebuild or restore, because that's so messy. but i think that God is opening up my heart and mind to that more and more, and i am very interested in seeing what He has in store in 2009...

Saturday, December 20, 2008


“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.” -St Augustine

i've been feeling very restless lately, that sense of knowing something in my mind to be true, but not believeing (or KNOWING) it in my heart.

i know i can trust You, but i don't KNOW it, and so i keep going back to the same old junk, expecting new results (isn't that the definition of insanity?).

"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and lust and ambition when infinate joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to keep on making mud-pie in the slums because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the beach." If I really wanted to be happy, I would seek God. Oh, but God is abstract! It takes effort to reach God. So I settle. I settle for weak amusements that require no effort. What a lazy fool I am!!" - CS Lewis


Friday, December 19, 2008

Your love is strong

i first heard this live at Catalyst in October, and hadn't really thought about it much until a friend pulled it up on youtube for me yesterday. i've had it one repeat ever since. check it out:

Your Love is Strong
Jon Foreman

Heavenly Father
You always amaze me
Let your kingdom come
In my world and in my life
You give me the food I need
To live through the day
And forgive me as I forgive
The people that wronged me
Lead me far from temptation
Deliver me from the evil one

I look out the window
The birds are composing
Not a note is out of tune
Or out of place
I look at the meadow
And stare at the flowers
Better dressed than any girl
On her wedding day

So why do I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need
You know what I need

Chorus (3x):
Your love is
Your love is
Your love is strong

The kingdom of the heavens
Is now advancing
Invade my heart
Invade this broken town
The kingdom of the heavens
Is buried treasure
Will you sell yourself
To buy the one you've found?

Two things you told me
That you are strong
And you love me
Yes, you love me

(Chorus 3x)

Our God in heaven
Hallowed be
Thy name above all names
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us today our daily bread
Forgive us wicked sinners
Lead us far away from our vices
And deliver us from these prisons

Thursday, December 18, 2008

where's the reset button?

grades back on 4 of my 5 classes: 3 A's and a P (pass). sweet! i am 1/4 of the way done with seminary and SO excited!

this morning i went for a run, somewhat unexpectedly. i wanted to work out, but wasn't in the mood for the gym and it was too early to do one of my videos (didn't want to hop around and wake up my neighbor downstairs!), so i just ran/walked around downtown and some of the nearby neighborhoods.

it was a good time to continue the prayer time i'd started earlier, and just ask God to speak to me, wake me up to things that i'm blind about and what not. i was going on and on, praying for people and telling Him different things i was concerned about when i walked past a new house that was being built. right then He started speaking to me about this idea i've had about starting over. i've had the question running through my mind lately, what if we just started over? i think about that a lot in ministry--there are so many things that drive me crazy, and i just want to, well, start over. it seems like it'd be so much easier than cleaning up stuff and working with the messiness.

i thought about it a lot when we were fixing up my house over the past few months. so annoying and time consuming (and really, i hardly did any of the work myself!). i just wanted it to be done, and with all the fixing of old things, i thought, wouldn't it be easier to just start from scratch, just have a new house?

and i've thought that way with ministry, and life in general. where's the reset button? how do we wipe the slate clean and begin again? all these things that aren't working, or that i just don't like--let's scrap them and do something NEW. won't that be better and easier and simpler?

no. not really.

building a new house, with all new stuff, is not problem free. just a different set of problems from the old house that's being fixed up. new church plants aren't problem free, just different problems from older, established churches. new believers aren't without problems either--none of it works that way, but it sure is easy to see the grass as greener on the otherside.


but this was a good realization this morning. i don't think i'd realized how much i was hanging everything on change and new and whatnot. there are things that need to change, but the big reality is, I am not the one who knows it all or how it will all work. i HAVE TO trust Him and let Him guide me, or i just end up sounding like a whiny, broken record.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

random thoughts for Wednesday

-today is my brother's 18th birthday. hello. that makes me feel old, since i vividly remember the day he was born, so i can only imagine how it makes my parents feel! happy birthday little/big brother :)

-why are somethings so much more complicated once you agree to them and get into and are already too committed to get out? is it just me, not being discerning, or what?

-hope: i had a moment earlier while i was cleaning out the popcorn maker upstairs in the youth room and i was really moved by the thought of the hope this season provides. i have not been especially excited about Christmas this year, but that moment, just thinking about hope entering the world in the form of a tiny baby--such a strange thing, and so yet so amazing.

-Christmas songs: i have one i started writing about 3 years ago, during Christmas of 2005, and my goal is to finish it this year. i've been saying that every year, but i'm feeling it this year, especially after that hope revelation earlier.

-don't do a google image search for "corndog." i really just wanted a picture of a real corn dog, but geez...

-i love learning from and in small, insignificant moments. this morning, i ended up helping answering the phones in the front office (and i actually didn't mess it up too bad!). but randomly, i had a great conversation with someone that's left me thinkign all day about respect, something i've already been wrestling with lately. also, cleaning out the popcorn machine and talking to God--something about those big revelations in the little moments.

-1 Tim 4:1-5 in the Message: "These liars have lied so well and for so long that they've lost their capacity for truth." This is a truly scary thought, one i need to chew on some more...

-leftover Thai ribs from Zea's = AMAZING lunch :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

just another tuesday?

so it snowed last Thursday, then on Sunday I wore a short sleeve shirt to our Christmas festival at church, and now today, it's drizzling and cold again.

ah, Louisiana...

i was telling some of the ladies that i had lunch with today that even in India, it was colder than it is here in the winter. or maybe more consitently cold. or maybe i'm just making that up.

someone I was talking to last night, who's from New Orleans, said that Katrina always seems to come up in conversations, even 3 years later. i think India has been that way for me, but it seems to come up less and less. it seems more like a dream, which i would have NEVER imagined possible when i got home 16 months ago. i was telling another couple that, some friends who are home from Asia for Christmas, and I was like, yeah, i know you can't wrap your mind around that now, but it starts to seem less and less real as the time goes by.

the funny thing is, as i've been thinking about posting this blog for the past few days, India wasn't even on my mind, but, here it is again. maybe this is just a good (or easy?) place to process that part of my life/heart/etc.

so, i'm going to work on blogging again. i think seminary is teaching me that i may not have as much to say as i'd like to think, but i do have a whole lot of questions, so i'm hoping to wrestle with some of those this coming year. we'll see what happens :)