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even though i won’t be around to take advantage of them, C-HOP (cincinnati house of prayer) will be offering a handful of classes. i’ve never taken one of theirs before but i would encourage anyone able to try it out. i really believe they’ll be deep and rich and enlightening.
Fall Semester Classes at C-HOP

For more information on all these check our website or more specifically click here.

1.  Israel’s place in the plan of God: Mondays 6:45-9:00pm beginning September 8th.

This class aims to equip us with a biblical understanding of Israel’s place in the plan of God. Beginning with the call of Abraham, we will develop a theology of Israel that demonstrates God’s continuing faithfulness throughout history to this “firstborn” nation. This course is an essential foundation for anyone who is called to stand with Israel and pray for her salvation as we approach the end times.

Cost: $25 for individual, $40 a couple
Register: Israel

2.  The Omega Course: Thursday, 7:00-9:00pm beginning September 4th.
The Omega Course is an 8-week DVD curriculum (We will be adding several additional weeks for further teaching and discussion). Mike Bickle (director of KC-IHOP) gives a broad overview of the End Times in eight sessions, describing the people, places and events that matter most at the end of the age. The curriculum includes additional audio teachings, complete outlines, appendix, glossary and a guide to leading small group discussions. It’s about preparing the worldwide Church for what the Bible promises will be its most glorious hour. Omega is helping to prepare people to be ready, and its one of the resources we use at the Cincinnati House of Prayer.
Cost: $25 for individual,  $40 a couple
Register: Omega

3.   The Eternal Glory of an Intercessor
: Wednesday 6:30-9:00pm beginning September 10th.
A course made popular by Corey Russell in KC is now being facilitated at the Cincinnati House of Prayer.
This course will focus upon ushering in revival through prayer. With the Church as a “sending out” community it is important that our future leaders understand the urgency of the hour and the great need for a people of prayer to emerge. Walter Wink suggests that, “history belongs to the intercessors.” Biblical evidence supports his assertion and calls us to equip our people in the privilege of praying God’s will into the earth. This course studies the lives of great biblical and historical intercessors and how they changed history through the power of prayer.
Cost: $25 for individual, $40 a couple
Register: Intercessor


4.  A study in the Song of Songs
Wednesday’s 12-2pm beginning Sept 10th
A line by line study through the book of Song of Solomon, revealing the heart of God for His people and our response to this love.
Cost: $20 per individual
Register: Song of Songs


5.  A study in the Psalms of Ascent: Monday’s 10-12noon beginning Sept 8th
Traditionally, these were the psalms that were sung as the priests as they ascended the temple stairs to minister at the Temple of Jerusalem. Singing and declaring the prayers of the heart, is a firm foundation of the “house of prayer”.
Cost: $25 per person
Register: Psalms

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now that i’m living semi-permanently in the northern ‘burbs of cincinnati, i decided to take advantage of the locale and check out the Cincinnati House of Prayer (c-hop, which i will heretofore refer to as “the chop chop”).

first, wouldn’t it be my luck that the one street that it’s on “Carnegie Way” is the only street that is not labeled? i drove the entire length of the connecting street, for about 20 minutes and starting turning down every side street in case it was it. finally, i found it. i checked the schedule that was posted outside the door and i was just in time for “worship with the word” which was my favorite time when we were at IHOP-KC.

there’s a small little bookstore and cd shop set up in the lobby and then down a hallway is the prayer room. it was much like IHOP-KC except that it had more of a living-room kind of vibe which i really liked. the lights were dimmed and there were three girls playing from the stage. there were about 10 other people in the prayer room and it was definitely a fostering sort of atmosphere. there were flags on the walls to pray for and verses on a white board to spur reflection.

just like IHOP-KC it was easy to sit still and read and reflect and journal for an hour without noticing. and that’s what i needed. that’s what i need. i hope to be able to stop by there more often. it’s funny how powerful and more effective prayer and solitude can be when you’re around other people, even when you never say a word to them.

matthew 8:20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

* * * * * * * * *

here’s the schedule for “the chop chop” because you can’t find it on their website (but you can find better directions there):

sunday:
open from 12-8pm, featuring a live webcast from IHOP-KC prayer room

monday:
from 8am to 10am is the live webcast from the KC prayer room
from 10am to noon is a devotional
from noon to 4pm is the live webcast again
from 4pm to 6pm is intersession
from 6pm to 7pm is worship
from 7pm to 9pm is worship with the word

tuesday:
from 8am to 4pm is the live webcast from the KC prayer room
from 4pm to 6pm is intersession
from 6pm to 7pm is the live webcast
from 7pm to 9pm is worship with the word

wednesday:
from 8am to 10am is devotional
from 10am to 2pm is the live webcast
from 2pm to 4pm is intercession
from 4pm to 5pm is contemplative
from 5pm to 7pm is the live webcast
from 7pm to 9pm is intercessory dance

thursday:
from 7am to 9am is devotional with an israel focus
from 9am to 4pm is the live webcast
from 4pm to 6pm is intercession
from 6pm to 10pm is the live webcast

friday:
from 8am to 6pm is the live webcast
from 6pm to 8pm is worship
from 8pm to 10pm is intercession
from 10pm to midnight is live webcast

saturday:
from 8am to 1pm is live webcast
from 1pm to 3pm is youth team practice
from 3pm to 6pm is live webcast
from 6pm to 8pm is intercession with an israel focus

well now that i’m back home and have had time to settle in and let the dust of back-to-back trips settle, it’s time to share some of what’s been happening of late.

boston was a great work trip; our conference was especially successful (the biggest and most profitable yet) and i had a blast hanging out with becky and trolling around the city. we didn’t go out once, but it was nice to come home, crawl into a big comfy hotel bed and get a good night’s sleep.

while i was there, i attempted–and completed!–my first fast. mallory and i were doing it simultaneously for 4 days leading up to our Kansas City trip to International House of PRAYER (yep, IHOP). i was surprised at how easy it was to go without food but then again i shouldn’t have been because i know that the fact that it was easy wasn’t me but instead Him. going into the fast, i kept praying that God would make it easy on me so that i could still do a good job with my duties at our conference, that i would be nice and have a blast despite the lack of food. i wanted my coworkers to be surprised at how it went–and see, through that, how good my God is. i didn’t want to fail so that he could get the glory that it was He who did the work, not me. so, like i said, i shouldn’t be surprised that he was with me and answered that prayer. he is a good God.

i never got to that place of “peace” that you’re supposed to get on extended fasts. i wasn’t ever hungry, it’s just that everything sounded so good and i just wanted to taste it: put it on my tongue and let the flavors seep in. i didn’t care about chewing or digesting, just the sensual part of eating. intttterrresting, huh?

my favorite part of fasting, though, was how it freed up time. because i wasn’t running off to fancy restaurants with my coworkers, i found myself with extra time to myself. i walked around the area of our hotel or would just curl up in front of our huge window and pray and read my Bible and stuff. it was so relaxing and a nice change of pace to not be rushed through that.

and that’s been the No. 1 change i’ve noticed and grasped onto of late: digging into God and the Bible. making decisions that allow that. striving for that.

at IHOP, one of their big things and basis is their Prayer Room, which is open and running all around the clock. there’s always a band playing worship music and people praying or reading their bible or singing along or just reflecting. and even though praying and reading my Bible is often a task for me and one that i struggle with, discipline-wise, it wasn’t there: we’d go for 2 or 3 hours at a time, and afterward, it felt like it only been 15 or 20 minutes it was so effortless to spend time with God. our culture is so preoccupied with being busy that we often don’t just sit before God like that. there, the time would fly by and i’d walk away so enlightened and, really, just lightened (as in my “burden”).

and it’s fitting that that would be such an epiphany to me. because, also while we were there, we got prophesied over a few times. the very first prophesy brought me to tears over this fact: the guy started off talking about how my relationship with God has been me running around trying to “do” all these things and hurrying through (he likened it to a date, where you spend all this time running around getting ready and setting the table and stuff), when all God wants is for me to stop and just look him in the eyes. that moment is the one that matters: it’s the whole point of this great big Date that we’re all on.

and i realized, so clearly, that i desperately need to do that. i need to shove off everything else that’s crowding and just stare into God. just spend time with him and getting to know him.

to that end, i’ve decided to fast from reading books about God and instead read what he wrote for myself–focus more on the Bible. i’ve been meditating specifically on Song of Songs, which has been really good for me and for my heart and for me to stop and “stare.” and to enable this renewed sense of reading and reflecting on the Bible, i’ve tried to institute some of that “prayer room” mentality into my everyday practice: cranking up hymns and praise music while i’m reading and praying, and stocking my ipod with christian-infused songs so that i can go to a park and take time out there to dig in. i’m loving it and would encourage anyone who doesn’t already do it, to give it a try. it makes it more of a holistic experience i think, and makes it easier to just rest and sit before God. which is obviously what i need.

Psalm 27:7-9
“Lord hear me when I call; have mercy and answer me. My heart said of you, “Go worship him.” So I come to worship you, Lord. Do not turn away from me.”

RE Grand rapids: I’m now back in the safe, sound, snug place of peace with God concerning this. For a week I was all antsy and anxious and worried about how it would pan out. But I spent time praying and following God to especially fitting verses. Then on Sunday at church, the entire sermon was on being fearless and following God (Jesus’ greatest command is “Follow me” while in the Bible it’s “Fear not.”) and that solidified my trust in God: That it’s not my place to worry or try to figure out what will happen because God can/will do that for me and in ways I never could have imagined. I trust that he will do that here with this decision, its provisions and timing.

Also one of the messages from church was how God uses—and wants to use—ordinary folks. We looked at the life of Gideon (judges 6) who didn’t think he was worth it to do God’s work, but God saw something in him (and, extrapolated, sees something in me) that we don’t see in ourselves and that He can and will use. We can’t hold ourselves back! I think that was another part of the situation that I was experiencing—I felt like I was too spiritually immature to take this big of leap of faith, that I’m fooling myself and trying to do something that’s bigger than my spiritual footing. Like I’m trying to force it. But the point of that is that it’s not about me at all; God loves using the ordinary and the weak to accomplish great things because then he gets all the glory, which is what it’s all about in the first place. So I just need to remember to do that—to give Him the glory rather than wish to take it for myself and all “my” hard work. It is only by his strength and insight and special positioning that all of this has come to be. I am grateful.

Hebrews 13:5-6
God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?”

catching up on my blog reading, and the boundless blog pointed to a new book out called “Do Hard Things.” it sounds like a really interesting book and so I’ve added it to my list of books I hope to get around to reading. the authors say:

We’re not just saying that hard things happen and that you can benefit from them. We’re not just saying that you have the ability to do hard things. We’re telling you that you should do hard things because it’s the best and only way to experience true growth in your life. … Our big, crazy idea is that this is the life God has called us to live now—not 10 or 20 years from now, but right now, as young people. This is your best life, not your easiest life; the only way to avoid wasting your single years and ultimately your life.

they also make a good point:

We can’t really avoid doing hard things. We can only decide when to do them and how prepared we will be to handle the hard things life brings our way. You either do the hard thing of getting prepared, or you deal with the harder thing of being unprepared. We either “do it” now, or we end up having to “deal with it” later.

This about a lot more than flat tires or missed meetings. Resisting temptation is hard, but not as hard as dealing with an addiction. Finding and keeping a job is hard, but not as hard as dealing with unemployment and struggling to make ends meet.

and finally, here’s an insightful C.S. Lewis quote they invoke: “We are like eggs at present. And we cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

i recently finished reading a modern-day nun’s memoir “forever and ever, amen.” it’s quite admirable the things she learns when she enters right out of high school and how open-armed the convent is, to this girl who sneaks in vodka-injected oranges and who was admittedly wild and unruly. the girls enter green and the convent allows them to pursue God and get to know him; through things like obedience, seeing God in everyone–especially their enemies, fighting for injustice, sharing, sisterhood, supporting one another even when you don’t  agree with them, knowing when to bend the rules when another sister needs it for camaraderie, wisdom, silence, prayer, solitude…

things that i know i must learn, and many of them exemplified by the older Sisters that the author admired most. i too want to learn those things. because they’re so poignant. and because i know that upon learning them, they can change my life.

she writes, at one point, “it was the everyday blessings that ripened me the most.” as i think i mentioned (but perhaps i didn’t) i was reading an article about dating and how God works through ordinary means. this sentence reminded me of that. and to learn to see God in everything–the big as well as the small. it’s so easy to see him in the big, where it’s undeniable. but to see His handiwork in the small and subtle seems to be reflective of an atuned spirit. i don’t want to forget or neglect or underappreciate all he does for me. or ever feel like i can do all this on my own. i want to be sure to appreciate all he’s given me.

i’m beginning to think about my tattoo and it bearing the word: “blessed.” because isn’t it so? isn’t it so terribly so?

i read this blog entry last week or so and think it’s just flat out amazing:

We’ve been going to this new church since the end of the Summer. It’s a Vineyard church. ….  And worship at this church had such an overt hunger for God. I loved it. My husband even pointed out to me when a couple of ladies were gently dancing while they worshipped. I was so so hungry for that. But still shy. Real shy. Shy to move my feet. I had no problem with raising my arms. That felt like giving God a hug. But my feet. I was too afraid to move them. …. But for weeks, when I sang, I would close my eyes and visualize myself as a little girl, standing in a field or meadow with my arms outstretched twirling around with my eyes closed and face to the sun. This image would come to my mind unbidden.

I knew it was an inviatation from God …. I knew God wanted me to do it. So in my mind I’m saying, “God are you sure?” “Yes. Yes.” So I said, “Okay. I’ll wait for the chorus.” Which is so funny. But real. It’s like I was a kid standing on the edge of the high dive. Today. I move my feet. Gulp. So the chorus came. and I did it. I kept my arms outstretched hugging God and I closed my eyes and turned my face up to the sun and I twirled in a slow gentle circle. It. felt. awesome. I felt all the innocent freedom and joy of a little girl.

After church, I was talking with a friend from homegroup when a lady I’ve never met walked up to me. She was waiting to talk to me. She said, (she was so shy) she said, “God told me something to tell you. I dont usually do this. Is that okay with you.” “Sure. Yes. Go ahead.” This shy lady said, “Um God wants you to know that he likes the way you worship. He likes it very much just the way you do it today.”

Is THAT AWESOME OR WHAT??

it seems as though nothing of great import has been going on lately, but at the same time i know a lot has been happening and why do i undermine/lessen that? i’m not sure. i guess because it’s my own life and that just makes it seem all the more ordinary. but at the same time, it is LIFE! and isn’t that extraordinary enough?

i just got confirmation that i will be returning to san diego again this spring for a work trip, the Y Design Conference that i attended last year. that was my first solo trip and now that i have another under my belt, i have confidence that i can make it as successful (from a work and networking point-of-view) as the last.

and so part of me is looking forward to it, as a challenge toward independence–to take on a new city and a big crowd of strangers and make something of it. but a greater part of me is sick of uprooting and starting over, even if just for a weekend. i like consistency and keeping what i have and watching it flourish, rather than have to start a new plot over every couple of years. first it was high school, then it was college, then it was birmingham, then it was cincinnati. i’m ready to dig my heels in and make it last, once and for all. and this just reminds of that and how life is constantly revolving through seasons. but for once, i really love where i am. and i don’t want to see it washed away.

but of course i know that it will only continue to get better. but i think the struggle comes with the fact that for that to happen means that it’s not going to be easy. and part of me just wants a rest to enjoy what i have, rather than keeping with the learning and the toil and tilling. but i know that that’s how we get to that enjoyment, that’s the way of God.

in one of the Chronicles of Narnia books, there’s a part where this kid rescues a girl who’s been snubbing him the entire journey, and he runs to get her help but the hermit tells him he must keep running to deliver a warning because an enemy army is on its way. the book says:

Shasta’s heart fainted at these words for he felt he had no strength left. And he writhed inside at what seemed the cruelty and unfairness of the demand. He had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.

and that’s how growth happens.

i think one of the things i hate most about going on solo work trips is that i step in as the face of our magazine and have to represent that, which is a lot of responsibility because i respect what we do so much. so i walk in and have to network and mingle and represent and wear this face and try to make friends, and it’s all just so taxing. and at the end of the day it’s just not me. that’s not how i do relationships; it seems pretty pointless to me, to just make a friend for a day.

that’s something that i’ve learned over the past year or so–where my strengths lie. i guess it was last summer when i was teaching the teen girls’ sunday school class and then going down to Over the Rhine. every sunday i would get back from OTR around 3 or 4 and just feel drained. and not a good, refreshing drainage but like i was being wrung out. i realized that as much as my heart loves OTR and what they do and that I want to be that kind of person who goes out to strangers and loves them as they are and witnesses in that way, it’s not me. i’m by nature a pretty reserved person. i don’t like small talk. i don’t make friends anywhere and everywhere. instead, i prefer to have a few good friends who i know deeply and who i can turn to with anything and be completely honest and completely genuine, even when it comes to my fears or my shortcomings or my dreams. i look at those relationships and realize that i don’t need any more friends. i have a lot that makes me feel genuinely bad for people who don’t know love like i do.

and when i realized that that’s the way i develop friendships–intimately and few rather than spread over dozens of sandwiches and faces–i decided to give up OTR and focus on youth group where i feel like i can put who i’m made to be to best, most fruitful use. and though i am aware of the bigger problems facing the world and that i do feel deeply for poverty and injustice, i just feel like my place is with these girls as they experience every day and i try to help them do that, one lesson, one laugh, one conversation at a time.

so i am excited for this work trip, another chance to see the sunny ocean of San Diego again. but you see why there’s such a tug-and-pull about it, as i take a deep breath and forge ahead despite my inhibitions. i’ll be hopping a plane the end of next month.

over the weekend, i played my first soccer game with kitty’s indoor team. fortunately, i didn’t really have much time to get too nervous about the venture because work has been hectic as all get out lately (more so than usual as we’re working on yet another web project–we just got a new CEO who’s “passionate about the internet,” oh and also about coaching baseball. and yes, he mentioned both “passions” in the same sentence).

anyway so friday night i find my way to the venue where, come to find out, i’m wearing a purple shirt while my team is red and the opposing team is black. needless to say, that’s when the nervousness started to kick in.

but, as ‘luck’ would have it, all that got erased in a moment’s time, because as i showed up, a big guy with a shaved head throws his hands down on the table i’m standing in front of. “carmen from temple baptist!! do you remember me?!?” once i shook the shock off, i looked closer and–not being one who easily remembers faces–slowly guessed, “jon simpson?”

sure enough, here was a kid (now a man) who i haven’t seen in 10 years. when i was in 8th and 9th grade, maria and i played soccer and her dad was a youth pastor at the nearby temple baptist church, so of course i hitched a ride with her. jon was in the youth group there and for the next 2 years i spent quite a bit of time there (sunday nights, wednesday nights, overnights, church camp–the whole shebang). but then maria’s dad decided to quit as youth pastor there (he was also the Bible teacher at maria’s high school and the school’s volleyball coach and basketball coach). when he quit, a lot people were upset and thought he was being selfish for resigning. so, they decided to leave temple baptist. i left with them and never returned, either.

but here i was, on a random friday night and i already knew about half the team. jon, his brother and sister were also on the team. it was really interesting to be reunited with people who probably don’t recognize you at all, because the last time they saw you, you were running around in baggy cordorouys and singing Goo Goo Dolls in the parking lot with your BFF who was wearing green mascara and even baggier jeans.

it’s interesting to think back to those afternoons that we spent there, having no idea what lay ahead of us. i don’t even remember what i worried about back then or what i thought would happen or where i thought i’d be when i was 24. i probably expected to be married and maybe even starting a family–or at least thinking about it.

but here i am, as confused and foggy about the future as ever, but, looking back over my shoulder, quite content at where my path has led me. it hasn’t been simple or suspecting. but i can see how God stepped in and guided all of that and has made it richer than i’d ever imagined. which just makes me look forward to more–to tomorrow.

i’m back from gatlinburger (what one of the other adults who went called it–completely by accident–as we sat up till after 1am talking about the trip…obviously we know what he was thinking about!), and i have to say that it was a perfect little trip, a perfect wake-up call.

perfect not because the water in the chalet where we stayed smelled like eggs and made you gag everytime you took shower (and made me glad for bringing my pretty-smelling shampoo) nor for the fact that of course anytime you get 40+ teens together, you’re going to get your fair share of what comes with that age: drama, mishaps and kids trying to show off for one another. but that’s all beside the point because they pale in comparison to everything else that happened while we were down at TCTC.

i think being steeped in that environment–where everyone is united for a single purpose that lasts a whole weekend, rather than just a given hour on Sunday morning when you’re still shaking off sleep–can do nothing but awaken emotions. so we were able to watch kids scratch their heads and realize their ability to change the way of their life, and watch them open up and reach out about their struggles and the burdens holding them down, and watch them sprout roots and grow over the course of the weekend. my favorite part was being able to be there for them during that and to encourage them as they explored those things or to guide them through that–to feel used in that way. i think over the past couple of months i’ve felt God in my life more than i ever have, and that’s a pretty cool realization.

and in that way, i know i got as much out of it as any of the teens it was intended for. the main speaker, jayson french, was really inspiring and while there were all kinds of bullet points that could be pulled from what he said over the course of the two days, one of the ones that stuck out most to me was the warning, “what you tolerate you will come to accept,” as he was talking about Lot and his choice to move near and eventually into the thick of Sodom. very true.

so it’s hard to not be riding on a wave after all that. but even here at work (which i’ve always loved and has often served as my saving grace when things have seemed somber), the ol’ j-o-b has been doling out its own fair share of encouraging gems: i got word i got a bonus for all my work on the website (truth be told, it was only about $50 after-taxes, but still!) and then i’m taking the reins on our e-newsletter, which i’m excited about. i came up with a proposal about how to overhaul it and my boss was excited about every suggestion i made–nothing negative at all! so it’s nice to have my own little pet project to see through and feel like i’m making leaps and bounds there.

in other how-did-you-get-yourself-into-that news, i’m going to be playing indoor soccer with kitty and ordered some navy blue cleats and pink shinguards online (and another new book!). i’m hoping this doesn’t turn into a repeat of the ever unforgettable Kickball Debacle which left me feeling utterly insignificant and totally lame (i never even made it to second base and almost got my  head chopped off by the overly aggressive opposing team, “Dodgeball”-style).

all is going so well, in fact, that right now i’m listening to Angels & Airwaves, which might not mean anything to anyone, save for the fact that it was paul’s favorite band, and he told me that there was one song that always made him think of me, hence the reason why i had to tuck those cds out of sight because they made me sad, remembering. i even contemplated throwing the CDs away and erasing the tracks from my iTunes libraries. but now i can listen to and appreciate it for what it is–a good band that someone once recommended to me. and even though tomorrow might be completely different and i might retreat back to where i was last week being down-and-out about everything, right now i’m glad that i’m shaking off that old, drowning coat and starting to settle back down into that peaceful, stable spot where i once spent a lot of time…

this past sunday kicked off a new series at church called, “peace.” (you can subscribe to eastside’s podcast and get the sermons for free; just go to iTunes Store > then search for Eastside Christian Cincinnati, and it’ll be the only one that comes up.) so, back to peace.

the one time when hitting the FWD button is a good thing
the one absolutely lovely idea that Jonathan spoke during that hour that I’ve really tried to latch onto is the idea of forwarding our worries to God. he was talking about how we get emails and there are some people who forward them on to all their friends. well he was saying that we need to be like that with the things that are stressing us out–don’t even bother opening them (the “emails”/worries) but just forward them along to God, who will open them up and deal with them appropriately. if we can just learn to forward them on to Him, then that peace that He offers will be so much more lasting and profound.

so i’ve been trying to abide by that, ever since. just when i start feeling that anxious feeling rise up, i just press the “forward email” button in my head, and just release it. interesting, because that’s something i’ve always struggled with: how to release things to God and not hold on to them. but this image of “forwarding” really strikes a chord with me.

trying is good enough
another realization of late that’s been bouncing around in my head is the idea that, you know what? i’m trying. and that’s all that matters. i’m trying when it comes to this whole snafu with paul and doing the best that i know how to do. i’m trying when it comes to reaching out to the girls at church. i’m trying when it comes to doing enough. i’m doing the best that i know how to do; i’m by no means “stubbornly resisting.” but at the same time, i’m human: so, try as i might, i’m going to mess things up. i’m destined to never get it “right” all the time. but that’s not for lack of me trying and so that doesn’t make me any less of a person.

i’ve struggled with that a lot and have finally come to terms with it, that what i’m endeavoring is enough. i have to do one thing at a time and then move on to the next–not expect to do it all here and now and be done with life at the ripe age of 25.

we watched a video on Bono once, and he talked a little bit about how his first trip to Africa was more than a decade ago, when he and his wife were still really young (maybe when they were first married?). anyway, he talked about how that one trip was merely a seed; they didn’t come back and jump right into starting charities and raising awareness–that trip percolated in their minds and then, when the time was right years later, they were able to take that seed and watch it blossom. so i just have to trust that those things will happen in my life–there’s no rush, right now. i just keep planting, and waiting.

I was talking to the one guy friend who I’m closest to the other day (and one of my all-time favorite emailing buddies) and we were talking about my recent little break-up. He was telling me about how it’ll be good for me to take this time for myself and figure out what I want—rather than what society says you want. He was talking about us being rushed into finding love, as we watch everyone around us traipse into relationships and get married off, and then he made a good point: “We’re still so young. I hate that we’re in our twenties, and we’re saying, ‘I’m so old!’”

As shouldn’t surprise me, it was a very good point. I’m still so young with a multitude of possibilities laid out before me, a nice little smorgasbord to select from and arrange on my plate. (Little known fact: “smorgasbord” used to be one of my favorite words, circa 1997.)

One of the nice things that’s come from this whole status change is that I know feel like I have so much time on my hands! I know I had time before, but I always felt obligated to save a chunk here and there, “just in case.” (Because, of course, you know that boyfriends and girlfriends have a quota of time to fill, don’t you?!) But now, my time is my own and I don’t owe it to anyone, nor can I have expectations about what to do with it. I know it was always my own, but that’s the trap I set myself in when I’m in a relationship—getting trapped in obligations and “shoulds.”

So what have I been using all this newfound time on? Well hopefully by the end of this weekend I’ll have some photographic proof: My latest crafts is birds cut from felt that I want to string from the ceiling. I’ve also started trolling the stores in search of Christmas presents (my mom is going to be the toughie this year), and last night I sat down and tried my hand at design. Even though I work on a design magazine and appreciate design to the utmost, I’ve never fancied myself a designer. I still don’t, but I tried to flip that whole “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” Anyway, we needed some logos for our student ministry at church and I had a couple of ideas that I decided to put to the challenge. The hard part is that I don’t know any how to maximize any of the software so it was a pretty rudimentary process. Yet and still, whether they work out, it was still a fulfilling little project.

Here they are in all their glory (except that they’re crappy files). They’re all based off our church’s tagline, “Building a growing community of passionate Jesus followers.” Within each logo idea are a couple variations to choose from (different type treatments or sizes, etc.):

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Spectrum one pays homage to the 6 passions with 6 different colored petals (which can also be read as colored drops, ie drops of Jesus’ blood). Also, the petaled image in the middle incorporates Eastside’s new logo.

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Elevate also incorporates Eastside’s new logo and can take on a couple different variations (either filling in the space in the “e” or just coloring in the background). The rest of the word is (fittingly) “elevated.”

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Roots takes to the “growing” part of the tagline and is a little bit more youthful/playful than the others. I thought this would lend itself well if we ever make t-shirts.

Everyone likes lists, right? Well welcome to the humble abode of the List Maker:

  • I was talking to Holly last night (in the midst of all-out, no holds barred girl talk) and mentioned that “Emotions aren’t logical.” and I think about it, and it seems ever more true. For instance, an hour ago I could not have been any more upset and angered, towing my little gray storm cloud (not even a rain cloud would do!) behind me. And while I’m still hurt and upset, I’m licking my wounds a bit more because now I’m softened. But the sad thing is that I know that if you give me long enough, even just a few hours, that rollercoaster will take off again. And that instability, inconsistency just doesn’t make sense. Illogical.
  • Which leads me to my next point. God isn’t logical. But that’s one of the reasons why I love him so much—he’s so much bigger than I can understand and I think that’s a good thing. I rest assured putting my faith and hopes and future in the hands of someone who is that much bigger than me, someone who I can’t even come close to understanding. Because I’m not supposed. That’s why I’m made in his image; merely a reflection, not an equal.
  • I gave up reading that book “A General Theory of Love.” it was interesting at first, talking about all the different roles of the brain and how the brain’s evolved and that the last evolvement (the limbic part of the brain) is where emotions came into play. it was interesting and had me captivated for about an evening, but then I got tired of wading through the science-y muck.
  • I’ve now started reading this book I nabbed when I was down in Birmingham—back in 2004. It’s called “Devil in the Details” and is a memoir of a girl who suffers from OCD. I’m only about 20 pages into it because last night I was set to dig in and waste my night away doing that but, given the Rollercoaster, couldn’t concentrate and instead wasted it on naps and TV.
  • I’m patiently waiting for a package of American Apparel t-shirts to arrive. I ordered them about a week and a half ago, I think. I WANT MY CUTE V-NECK T-SHIRTS!!
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  • This weekend I’m going on a retreat for the middle and high school ministries at church. I’m really looking forward to it and to take a break from everything stressful that’s going on, and just focus on things that are good and healthy and hopeful and promising. Which is also why I’ve agreed to go to this teen christian convention, TCTC, as a chaperone in January. I know it’s some time away and I know that after last January, I said I’d never do another overnight again (those kids can be so wild, and I’m not one for discipline), but I feel like this is something I’m sure I can’t go wrong with. So I’m looking forward to it and, for one weekend, letting go of the selfishness that otherwise consumes my life.
  • tonight I’m going to paul’s awards dinner + ceremony. I’m conflicted about it because everything has not been going well in that area and I feel like this is just one more opportunity for stuff (well nice to meet you, euphemism) to hit the fan. I want it to go well and for things to be smoothed over with us but my hopes aren’t high. It just seems that frustration has been reigning supreme lately, above all else. And that’s draining. So we’ll see. I think that’s one of the big reasons why I’m so glad to get away this weekend.

i’ve got to say, it’s been a picture-perfect thursday. paul’s been sick, so last night i went over to keep him company (and also learn how to play guitar hero, although i was disappointed that “reputation” wasn’t the joan jett version). we were listening to the new angels and airwaves cd that he got and fell asleep on his bedroom floor. i feel like lately i’ve been sleeping more and more, and half the time i feel like i ought to be back in high school, heading to bed at 10:30. i’ve just been chalking it up to “old age.”

anyway we woke up and i left around 2am, came home and decided to head in late to work. so i didn’t wake up until almost 10 when i made my way into work. it was a productive day at the office and flew by. came home, watched some ANTM, and here i am. in about an hour i’m going to go meet brianna at starbucks, which will be a nice way to wound down the night.

although i have been playing around with paint shop pro which came on my laptop but was always too complicated. i started messing around with it this morning and the stuff from the photoshop class i took back in college (which i can hardly believe is over 3 years ago!) has started coming back. maybe we’ll see some fun examples of that on here soon. i’d like to take photos more regularly. otherwise i feel like the new camera isn’t really going to use. in the meantime, here’s a picture i played with of me and paul:

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on a less “dear diary”-esque note, my church has started a blog that they update with ideas for bible readings and discussions. i think it’ll be a good tool to use for short daily readings/devotionals, especially because there’s no flipping or fumbling involved–click and it’s there, plus you can access it from anywhere. i love seeing churches and faith be so hip to the technological age; it’s pretty cool.

see? home by 10:30. refreshing.

this has been week no. 1 in my attempt to recalibrate. it has been good. although really it’s worked out less because of my attempts and more because everyone (meaning the lovelies and paul) have been busy. so i haven’t really had to try to take things slow and take time for myself. it’s nice to be eased into things.

yesterday, after having what was officially titled “my no good, very bad day” (don’t ask), i left work 15 minutes early and took the time to do something i haven’t done in over a month: run. in high school i was a really good runner. i played soccer and could almost always be the first player to finish all our laps around the practice complex. halfway through the season my junior year, though, i got really bad shin splints and couldn’t run without shooting pains. so i stopped running and was afraid to for years. this past summer i decided to try again. and, surprisingly, i wasn’t half bad. although i guess i’m not sure what i’m measuring it against, but i’m not disappointed in where i’ve picked up.

so it was, that i ran for an hour yesterday and was quite heartened by it. it did help clear the bumbling air that was gathering in my head.

today i went over to my parents’ house and visited my grandma who was actually much herself, which typically isn’t the case. that was such a good feeling. she was laughing and cracking jokes. she had a hard time hearing and many times misinterpreted what i was saying (i guess i have a hard time speaking up), but that made it more entertaining. she slipped a few times into her own little world, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it has been. that was a good feeling. we ordered pizza and i made tasty pumpkin cupcakes for sir paul and then i worked a new project of mine.

right now i have this crappy piece of cardboard that i made holes in with a hole punch and have strung my necklaces through. although i’ve received compliments on it, i think it’s pretty shoddy. so my new effort is to take a medium-sized branch and cut it down and then pop nails into it and spray paint it white. all i have left is the spray paint and mounting. cross your fingers. i can’t have my necklaces get tangled and this is the best idea i’ve come up with yet. (plus i just like nature-y stuff. i’m also working a poster to blow up for over my bed. more on that later.)

and i think the best part of my day was at work i decided to start working on my lesson plan for this sunday. if you don’t know, i teach sunday school for the teen girls at church. well every once and a while i like to do “Fireside Chats” with the girls–basically a chance for them to tap into what’s going on in their life and apply it to God and look at it through that lens, and get the support of the rest of the group. so, considering what’s been going on lately in my life, i decided to hone in this week on struggles. so i spent some time looking up verses and came across a bunch that just heartened me. it was pretty cool to go from, one moment being self-pitying and ‘woe is me’ to, the next, being content and satisfied despite the circumstances or ‘what if’s.

here’s an example, 2 cor. 4:16-18 (MSG): Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye.

one of the things i did was type up all the verses so that the girls can cut the various ones up and keep them with them, in their purse or put them on their mirror or in their locker–just so that they have them nearby when they need them for reassurance. i do that at work; have a little “inspiration/reassurance wall.” it’s mostly made of encouragements i received when i went to haiti this winter. and i look to it often, so i know it’s worthwhile. so i’m amped for it–for both my sake and for the girls’. i haven’t felt like i’ve really given them the time and effort they deserve lately, so i’d like to work on that.

although i did get an email today about the OTR efforts and that they might be acquiring a n old church down there and attempting “betterment” efforts like helping the homeless neighbors find jobs or learn to read or to write. that’s totally the kind of thing i want to be involved in. so we’ll see. i’m excited about the opportunity, although i’m already wondering how i would be able to fit yet another commitment into my schedule. but i think it’s a good thing. so i guess i just have trust that the pieces will all fall into their place. i have faith that they will… one way or another, they alway do, right?

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