Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Maybe it comes with age. Somewhere along the line, I stopped having all the answers and now I feel like I have all the questions.
I think it's part maturing, part how I'm wired up and... part August.

I'm beginning to hold resentment toward August. School starts back up and schedules get back into gear, the fall ministry season is off and running and Christmas is ready to launch. Really, I shouldn't resent August. It is the month, after all, when the NFL finally graces my TV screen again!

But it is very much a month of questions. Sometimes it feels like I'm facing new questions as well as ones I had already settled months before. And then, there are questions that come out of nowhere. For me, my mind doesn't shut off neatly when the appropriate time is up. In fact, the questions don't shut off at all until they are answered. I "chew" on them while I fix dinner, do laundry, take a "relaxing" walk (right!) and even while I sleep. My mind is constantly trying to find the solution to the problem.

To be completely honest, it's exhausting. I've found a few things recently that will divert my focus for short periods of time, but nothing that will truly give me the mental rest I need until an answer is found. Maybe the answer is September. Surely by September the questions have to be answered. Right?

So, how do you deal with wrestling with unanswered questions?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Who do you sound like?

There's a phenomenon that I find fascinating. I'm sure in psychological circles it has a name. I don't really need to know that to maintain the wonder of it. The phenomenon is that we all begin to sound like the people we spend the most time with.

Over the past five years at Cypress I've discovered that I've added so many phrases to my daily "speak" that are not uniquely mine. They probably aren't even unique to the person I learned them from. But they have become mine. It's not unusual to hear me - or several other staff members - ask someone to "tease that out for me." Or to refer to a person or situation as being "golden!" And some oldies but goodies still show up from time to time, such as "And we're back." A couple of our staff members actually will play a game where they have entire conversations using "staff-speak" which is mostly credited to our boss.

This phenomenon is fun and interesting to me. There is a similar phenomenon, however, that I find truly sad and frustrating. It was illustrated in bold strokes for me recently at a wedding I attended. I found myself sitting beside a complete stranger. This complete stranger had no idea that I was a Christian, that I attended church much less was actually on staff at a church. He proceeded to tell me how his brother was a "sinner and was caught up in the ways of the world and that he had confronted him and told him that he had to change his ways or he would be headed for Hell." That's the short, slightly edited, beautified version, but you get the point.

I was aghast! (what a great opportunity to use such a cool word!) Inside a large part of me wanted to look this man dead in the face and insist on knowing "so, how did that work for you?!" I couldn't imagine anyone being compelled to want to get to know Christ based on an introduction like that. Of course, the only slightly recovered Baptist-girl in me won out and I just asked "really?"

But since then I've given lots of thought to that conversation. I wonder, do we as Christians, sometimes get so caught up in our bubble that we only let ourselves hear each other, develop our own language and eventually fail to realize what we sound like? Did this man really not care for his brother as he said? Was all that mattered to him about his brother really whether or not he ended up in heaven? What about love for him here and now as well?

Now, don't get me wrong. I definitely understand longing for our family members to be in heaven. I guess I will just always believe that there is a loving way to say things. This didn't sound like love was involved at all.

Isn't that how people are supposed to know we're Christians anyway, by our love? Or is that just some song?

Blogging about blogging (again)

This evening I have come to some realizations about why I so enjoy blogging. For me it's a combination of scrapbook, journal and platform that is directed at everyone and no one in particular all at the same time. Of course, in my case, the latter is the one who most often frequents my blogs.

Blogging is a great place for me to sort things out "out loud."

It seems lately that there is a lot running around in my head that needs some sorting. I recently attended Leadership Summit and I have thoughts, phrases, challenges from the likes of Craig Groeschel, Wendy Kopp, Catherine Rohr, and Bill Hybels bouncing around and not seeming to land anywhere just yet.

Add to that a flood of thoughts from beginning my study of the book Walking on Water by Madeline L'Engle. And the typical daily input from my devotions and the onslaught of info from news feeds, blogs I track, conversations with friends and what I've ended up with is a jumbled mental mess.

Coming out of the clutter though is the overarching theme that nothing... absolutely nothing matters more than my connection to and relationship with Christ. Nothing else can matter that much. And while there is still a lot of sorting to be done, this is The Foundation on which to start sorting. Being a math major and all, I appreciate being reminded of the "givens" in life. While the variables all scream quite loudly for my attention it is the givens that give me pause to breathe easier. And this given, is a beautiful place from which to find the direction to sort everything else out.