Saturday, February 28, 2009

balance: crazy and growing up


i know i complain about school a lot, but i'm drowning right now...(as you can see in the picture above!).

i don't know why exactly, but today i've just felt crazy. too much to do, too little time, too many choices to make, too much pulling me in good and bad directions. running here and there and making out my psycho to-do lists and checking things off just to keep sane...

i really wanted to do something crazy this afternoon. just run. just disappear. just escape it all. just break something. just scream. just stop.

but welcome to the real world, right?

those hard things that make you strong, those tough choices and no easy way out. ugh.

i was talking to a friend a little while ago, taking a break and hearing about her night, and telling her how crazy i felt, and that i just wanted to do something crazy.

and she was like, ok, so let's do something crazy!

but neither of us could really think of anything.

i think i'm becoming too much of a grown up, and maybe that's not all bad. part of me wants to jump in the car and drive to new orleans and eat beignets at cafe dumonde, but then i think about all the stuff i have to do tomorrow--the commitments i've made this weekend, the papers, packing to go out of town...

the cost is too big. or not worth it, at least.

but it wouldn't have been a few years ago. i was pretty much always game for doing just about anything, and i never imagined i'd grow out of that. not really.

but is it all bad?

i told my friend, after we both realized how much we have to do tomorrow, that maybe we need to take a raincheck on crazy. i don't like that necessarily, but i also don't want to be miserable tomorrow or back out on things i need to do.

a raincheck on crazy...

i'm not sure how that works, if it can work. i love being spontaneous, and yet i also find that i quickly revert to being a psyscho planner, to the point of being manipulative.


i'm feeling a lot of 'what if's lately, and yet also a lot of 'oh well's. i'm not really sure how to balance it out. how to be fun and love life and also not be stupid.

so for now, i'm taking a raincheck on crazy. we'll see what happens...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

love and sin

I just read a great article on boundless. Here are a couple excerpts from it:

“The bottom line is a difficult truth for every Christian: The Bible says many hard things, but where the Word and I disagree, it's me that has to change. And there's grace for the process.”

Wow…this article is specifically about homosexuality, but the author (Mike Ensley) makes a strong point throughout the article that the reality is, sin is sin. We have to face it from God’s perspective and not get sucked in to justifying whatever it is we’re struggling with. He continues:

“This isn't a gay thing; we've all done it. I'm sure you could remember a season of rebellion in your life, and how during that time something (Somebody) inside was not letting you live with it quite the way you wanted to.

How did you feel about "good" Christians then? What did you think of people who, while probably not voicing disapproval openly, by their very virtue reminded you of the persistent warnings inside?

I bet nobody ever said anything that got you to "come around." I doubt you repented because you lost an argument. A heart-change is a more gradual process, and the people most influential in that process are the ones who keep pursuing your heart, keep lavishing that infuriating yet irresistible kindness on you — despite not playing along with your rebellion.

It's so easy to get sidetracked arguing over theological, social and political aspects of the homosexual issue. I know because I've been down that road a few too many times. I'm not saying these things are not important or should never be discussed; they simply must not become a distraction from loving.

Even if you knew every relevant Scripture backwards and forwards, had a response to every challenge, never had a doubt or lost your cool; even if you could argue a wayward friend's mind into a corner, that doesn't mean their heart will follow. I can pretty much guarantee that it won't.”

Sometimes I find it very tempting to give up hope when it comes to struggling with sin—my own sin, and the sin I see others caught in. It seems easier to ignore it or argue about it or do just about anything other than to trust God and love others. But that’s the core of our walk with Him. Love Him—let that change and redefine all that we are—and through that, love others.

Easy enough to understand, and difficult to live out…

For the full article, click here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

I recently joined a group that’s training for a mini triathlon. We started with swimming, which seemed simple enough. After all, Michael Phelps made it look easy winning all those medals in Beijing. My first day in the pool went pretty well, and though I was exhausted, I felt pretty confident at the end of the workout.

The next day, though, I woke up very sore, and when I went to swim again, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it! I couldn’t get the breathing right, and I was swallowing water and struggling to keep up. Suddenly swimming didn’t seem so easy, and I began to wonder if I would ever get any better.

Like my swimming experience, walking with God can seem so easy, when we’re watching someone else do it. But when we actually start trying to discipline ourselves and follow Him, we begin to realize just how challenging it can be, and giving up can become very tempting. The great thing is that, unlike athletic training, we’re not on our own—we have not only the perfect example of Christ’s life, but also the power of His Spirit at work within us to give us the strength to carry on when things get tough.

The choice is ours—will we “fix our eyes on Jesus” and keep going, or get distracted and give up? It’s a decision I have to make every day, but I’m learning that there are great rewards for perseverance, in my walk with Christ, and my triathlon training!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I have SUCH a love/hate relationship with school.

I LOVE learning. I love seeing things fit together and experiencing the "aha," light bulb, click moments where everything suddenly makes sense.

But I hate all the work involved in it!

I guess, really, that kind of sums up my approach to life all too often: laziness.

I just want things to come easily. I've come to expect that, because I can rely on my intelligence and luck and skills and big mouth, and can get away with a lot because of it. I'm not trying to brag, just realizing that I get by without working hard, and that's become the norm for me.

There's a line from a Jill Philips song that's haunted me ever since I heard it in January. The song is called "Small Window of Time," and from what I can tell, it's about someone who basically has it all and always gets their way, etc, and how, eventually, that will come to an end. What gets me is this line:

"Nothing’s ever been hard enough to make you strong"

That totally freaks me out, because I fear it really describes me. Yes, I have been through some challenging moments, but overall, I find that I avoid hard things because I don't want to fail, to look foolish, to feel/be not good enough.

And so, I think I've become very skilled in avoiding, getting out of trouble, etc, and very weak in a lot of the things that will really matter.

In essence, I'm a quitter. I don't like to admit that, and I definitely don't want to deal with it, but there it is.


Sunday, February 15, 2009


There are so many things I could have used for a title for the this post, but I'll go with this "knockknockknock" because it reminds me of a different knocking story than the one I'm actually going to tell. In college, my best friend and I had an inside joke/thing where we'd sign our emails "knockknockknock." It came from being dorm neighbors my senior year/her junior year—we shared a wall, and the heads of our beds were on either side of it, so sometimes at night, before we went to sleep we'd knock on the wall as a way of saying goodnight. Random, but a fun little thing to share between close friends.

That, however, is not the knock, knock that this post is about. I just remembered it as I started typing what is actually quite a different knocking experience. I love a good laugh, and I love a good story even more, and this is definitely a keeper:

It all started the other day at a funeral. I know, leave it to me to have some ridiculous story coming from such a somber occasion. It helps that I was with my friend Andrea, because we seem to often get into some sort of interesting situation together.

So, we go to lunch and then head to the funeral home, and when we arrive, both of us desperately need to head to the little girls' room before the service begins. When we walk in, we see that there are 3 stalls/rooms—each has a full door on it, not just your basic stall door. Two are definitely occupied, but we're not so sure about the middle one.

I walk up to the door, and gently reach for the handle. Now, I'm not much for knocking, because something about it just seems rude, so typically, my first move is to LIGHTLY test the door knob, and then gently knock. I hate loud knockers and knob gigglers…

So, I gently (and, really, I mean, gently) touch the knob and as soon as I do, I hear,

"UH UNH!" (I'm not sure if that adequately spells it, but it's that "oh no you didn't!" grunty sound).

Very loud.

Very not happy.

I scoot quickly away from the door and look at Andrea and we both die laughing. Except, this is a funeral home, so we can't really laugh, so we're choking in laughter and tears are streaming down my face. I grab some tissue and secretly hope that anyone who sees me will think I'm crying because of the funeral and not because I'm about to die laughing.

As we continue to laugh, we realize that the mystery person in the middle stall is almost done, so we both start looking around, trying to act all nonchalant, all the while still trying to not laugh.

Of course, someone we both know walks out.

She doesn't pay too much attention to us, but when I finally head into the bathroom and close the door, I totally lost it and was just about to the point of snorting I was laughing so hard.

I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to keep a straight face during the actual funeral, but we'd both calmed down by then, and everything went pretty smoothly. On the way home, Andrea asked me why on earth I didn't knock, and I really had no good answer, but we both agreed that we'd been firmly converted to knocking from now on…

Friday, February 13, 2009


even though i've seen this several times, it still blows me away. the song, the video, the message...definitely something i need to be reminded of.

cardboard testimonies

for some more amazing videos, check out this site as well: live to tell

Thursday, February 12, 2009


what an odd morning (and still so early...)

i felt very compelled to pray this morning for 2 things: first, selfishness. i've been wrestling and wrestling with sin and junk in one big area, and not feeling like i'm getting anywhere at all for quite a while, and as i started praying this morning, God hit me with the reality that i very much needed to deal with my self-centeredness in order to begin to deal with other sin. just last week, when i was discussing this with Him, He seemed to say, start with Me. at least, i thought it was start with Me, as in Him.

but this morning, as i was journaling and thinking about me, me, me, it hit me--start with me, as in mandi. as in selfishness and how it eats me alive on a daily basis.

so, start with me and Me.

i realized right away that a good first step in this would be to use my pray time to actually pray for other people instead of only whining and moaning about my struggles, so i started praying for several people who i know have lost loved ones. one is a friend who's mother's funeral is today. the others are people i don't know, but the families of several men who died off shore this week. i wanted to not just pray the basic old, God bless so and so, so i read in revelation, 2 corinthians, and nahum about God as our strength, our comfort, our God. very powerful stuff. He is the source of all comfort, and through His comforting us, enables us to comfort others--hello!

it was a very good prayer time, the best i've had in a while.

then the funny thing is, i come over to start laundry and check email and i get two very interesting emails, both pointing back to exactly where God led me this morning.

first, my cousin is having a c-section this morning, right now in fact. she's not due for over 2 months, and i don't really know any more details than that. she and her husband have been trying to have a baby for a while, and she finally got pregnant last year. so, i don't know what's going on, and i feel scared for them.

but i have so much of a better idea about what to pray. for His comfort. to remember that He is our God, He is ever present, He is good.

and then, a few minutes later, this eTHOUGHTS devotional pops up in my inbox:


In 1 Corinthians 13, I find my favorite definition of "love." Yet, our society seems to confuse the words, love and lust; though, a key distinction exists between the two. Love is directed toward others; it is self-less. Whereas, lust is directed inwardly toward self; it is self-ish.

The exercise and exhibition of real love is not in our DNA. We are more inclined to:
-gather than to give,
- keep than to release, and
- store than to share.

If you have any doubts concerning my last statement, just check your closets, storage sheds, and attics. Most of us could start several landfill sites with the things we have, but do not use.

A friend whose brother recently moved during his retirement years quoted his brother as saying, "If you have things stored you have not used in the last two years, throw them away." When sin entered the lives of Adam and Eve, humankind became selfish creatures. Let us not confuse or substitute lust for love.

Paul said, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails . . ..." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV®)

The scripture tells us God is love, and HE loves us. HE demonstrated HIS love for us by sending Jesus to die on the Cross. God loves us because He has chosen to do so. I hope you have experienced that love in your life by receiving Jesus as your Savior. After experiencing HIS love, pass it on to others by telling and demonstrating how much you love them.

hello...thank You Father for being sovereign. for knowing long before my alarm went off this morning what was in store for me. thank You for being my God. i love You, and more today.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


hungry I come to You
for I know You satisfy
I am empty
but I know Your love does not run dry
and I wait
and I wait
so I wait for You
so I wait for You

I'm falling on my knees
offering all of me
Jesus, You're all this heart is living for

broken I run to You
for Your arms are open wide
I am weary but I know Your touch restores my life
so I'll wait for You
so I'll wait for You

I'm falling on my knees
offering all of me
Jesus, You're all this heart is living for
Oh, I'm falling on my knees
offering all of me
Jesus, You're all this heart is living for

and I wait for you
and I wait for you
and I wait for you
and I wait

I'm falling on my knees
offering all of me
Jesus, You're all this heart is living for
Oh, I'm falling on my knees
offering all of me
Jesus, You're all this heart is living for

hungry I come to you,
for I know You satisfy

Lord, awaken in me, in us, a hunger for You. For Your love, for real life, for the hope that only You can give. Please, wake us up. Stretch us with longing, until we crave and burn with desire for You and You alone.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009


So I walked into my parents' house this afternoon and got quite a surprise.


A puppy!

This tiny, cute little thing was yipping and jumping around in a big box. I was floored. I finally scooped her up out of the box and she stopped hollering and starting making this funny grunt/growl noise and burrowing into my jacket.

I pretty much melted.

I got the story from mom a little later: my brother has alluded to a Christmas "surprise" around Christmas, and I hadn't thought much of it then. But mom said that when she got home last night, Miles had confirmed that this was the surprise. His gift to all of us, I guess. Cool, and yet also evidence of my brother's lack of perspective on all that owning a dog involves.

Feeding. Walking. Vet visits. Shots. Training. Cleaning up after it. playing with it. chasing it down the street when it gets out of the fence. Chewed shoes, books, pillows, etc. barking and yipping. LOTS of barking and yipping…

At least, this is how it was with our old dog. We all loved her at first, but by the time she died, I think we were fairly relieved. I know, that's terrible. But we're definitely not dog people. We have a cat and she totally rules the house, but a dog? I'm not so sure.

So I don't know how this will go. Could be great—a good chance for my brother to learn some responsibility, a beloved family pet, etc. Or could be bad (see above).

All I know is, my heart melted and I'm already wishing I could go back and play with her right now. I had/have so much to do today, and yet I was totally taken off track by this cute little fur ball who just nestled up next to me and wouldn't budge. She kept getting so upset when I'd put her on the ground, and tried to snuggle up by my shoes, so I finally picked her up and put her in my jacket pocket. She just curled up there and continued with her grunting and snuggling. Wow.

I think I like this dog because I know how she feels. She wants to be close to someone, to be loved, and she's going to let you know it if she's not happy.

So funny, so odd, so unexpected, and now I'm feeling so attached already. Definitely going to be interesting…

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Something we talked about in class yesterday: how do you know what you know?

I think the proper word for that is "epistemology," but I need to double check that. Anyway, it's a pretty big thing to think about.

How DO we know what we know? or KNOW what we KNOW?

As a Christian, the I believe the Bible is a major source of answers, but that brings up two immediate questions:

First, what about all the people who DON'T believe that?

Second, if I really believe that, why don't my actions show it more clearly?

For the first question, I think that really has to change the way I interact with others. For example, if I'm sharing my faith or beliefs or whatever with someone who doesn't believe the Bible is true or authoritative, but instead relies on their person experience for truth and reason, then I have to change the way I talk to them, or how I present what I say.

So, my epistemology affects my apologetics.

Cool, huh?

I think it also points to the importance of digging deeper in conversations with people and not just assuming they believe or think the same way we do. IE, asking more questions!

As for the second question, this is a tough one for me. why don't my "beliefs" and actions line up better? Why do I let myself get away with being such a slacker in this area? Why so many excuses when there's clearly a call for action?


Monday, February 2, 2009


I'm feeling a little bit of brain overload right now.

It was a good day at school, but trying to process it all, and then trying to process the massive amount of stuff they've put on blackboard for us to work on…well, that's a bit much at the moment.

I love and hate school.

I love the incredible conversations and the ways I've been challenged to think and grow and learn over this past year.

I guess I just wish it could be easier.

But really, that'd be missing the whole point I suppose. It's not easy, and if it was, it probably wouldn't be worth it. or at least, I wouldn't really value it the way I do now. I've had to work harder and read more in seminary than ever before in my school career, and I think that's part of what makes me appreciate it even more. Or, perhaps it's because I already know the intrinsic value of it all that motivates me to work harder?

I don't really know…probably a combination of the two.

But I think it points to a bigger reality: I want everything to be easy. I fear challenges, because I ultimately fear failure. The reality of that has been tugging at me for a week or so, ever since I started reading "If you want to walk on water, you've got to get out of the boat" by John Ortberg last week. it's for our spiritual formations class, and I have to admit that I wasn't that excited about it at first, but Ortberg got my attention pretty quick.

The whole idea is, Christ calls us to an amazing life with Him. But there's a cost. You can't let fear hold you back. If you want to do great and amazing things with Him, you've got to be where He is: outside of the boat.

And that's the rub.

I like my boat too much. Well, that's not entirely true. I think I like it more than I like the uncertainty of what lies beyond it. more than I can stomach the fear of failure and criticism and rejection.

I don't really like my boat. I don't like the idea of wasting my life. But I'm terrified of failing, because to fail would mean that I'm not good enough.


This is probably a big part of why, 1, I'm feeling so stuck lately, and 2, why God keeps going back to the whole "trust Me" thing.

So Lord, have mercy on me!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I don't really have much to say, but feel compelled to blog since I've been slacking lately.

Today was pretty fun. Actually a very fun weekend with friends and whatnot. Good super bowl parties. Lots of good conversations.

Lots to think about…

Could I work harder?

Could I care more?

Could I stop pretending?

Am I doing what really matters?

Am I just going through the motions with some things? With a lot of things?

Am I being honest?

Am I making the most of the days, the moments, the conversations I have?

Do I even care?

Am I sleepwalking through life?

Am I just faking it?

Can I stop being so controlling, so manipulative?

Will I ever really learn to trust?

Will I ever get the things my heart seems to long for so so much?

Do I really want them? Or am I fooling myself?

How do I know what I'm supposed to do next?

How do I stop living for/in the immediate and focus on what matters?

How do I let go?

How do I stop judging and puffing myself up like I'm better?

Will I ever feel really free?

How can I help and challenge and lead and inspire others?

How can I be inspired and challenged and led myself?

How can I learn to follow better?

To listen more? Talk less?

Ask better questions?

No answers, not any ones I think I want to listen to right now anyway.