Friday, January 29, 2010

Wine and Chocolate

Sometimes I feel like a red wine, especially when I'm a little more "full-bodied" than usual.  Reds can be delicate, but they can also be bold and feisty.  There are some reds that are almost rough and nearly too much to handle.

However, if I've learned anything in my brief forays as a wine connoisseur at  Linganore tastings it's this:  the taste of a wine can completely change with the introduction of chocolate.  Seriously!  The last time my friends and I made the journey, our favorite wine was one we barely tolerated alone, but wanted seconds when we drank it in conjunction with chocolate.  It's like magic.

I know that sometimes I'm full and delicate in all the wrong ways.  My words and emotions may come out more tart or rough or feisty than I intend.  And on my own, it might barely pass as drinkable.

Thankfully, Jesus is the chocolate to my red wine.  (It's not that far of a stretch.  After all we all know that a good chocolate is simply divine. *wink*)  If I introduce a bit of his character into the mix...everything changes. He can soften all my rough edges and bring out flavors I didn't know I had.  People just might come back for seconds.  And it won't be because of me, but because of the chocolate shining through.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Remember pinball machines?  They were always lots of fun.  Especially if the one you were playing had ramps and missions and lots of bumpers, slingshots, holes, and blinking lights.  (For example, check out the picture of the Flinstones Pinball Machine I found.  Oooohhhhh...pretty!) 

Pinball requires concentration.  You have to pay attention to where your ball is and where it might be going.  You have to time your flippers just right so you can aim and influence your ball's direction, while keeping it safe from the drain below.

It's engrossing.  One can become completely sucked into what they're doing.

Some enthusiastic players really get into their game.  Instead of simply pressing down the flipper buttons, they really jam them.  Sometimes throwing their body weight into the machine, hoping to save the ball from an untimely fate.  Nudging is ok, but if the machine senses too much manipulation, it has a defense mechanism.  "TILT."  Everything will shut down and force the ball down the drain.  The player then has to reset and start again.

There's a pretty well-known verse that says "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength."  (Mark 12:30) That's an engrossing commandment.  Hard to get away from it.  To put it into practice, you really have to pay attention.  Aim your thoughts and actions, and try to complete the missions as they come.

But the verse that captured my attention is the one that comes before:  "Hear O Israel." (Mark 12:29).  I wonder sometimes if we get so engrossed in our pursuit of the commandment that we tune out the voice we're supposed to hear.  I have no doubt that God stands beside us, giving us helpful nudges as we go along.  But I also know that he's not afraid to give us a good hip-check when we need it.

It knocks us off our course, completely derailing our train of thought.  It might even mess with our current mission or high score.

But it quiets the din of the game and throws the reset button so we can hear him again.

In Season

Psalm 1:3 (NIV) He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

I've been thinking about seasons, and fruitfulness.  I've admitted before that I have a great internal pressure to do things that are "big" and "great."  But it's nice to be reminded that there are times to bear fruit, and times to rest.  Times to prepare and times to grow. 

I love how the New Living Translation uses the phrase "bearing fruit each season." It's very similar to the thought in the NIV....except that it reminds me that while I'm resting or preparing, it's still a time to be producing.  It also gives me the freedom to not try to force an apple crop when it's not the time.  It's not always time for apples.  Sometimes it's the season for oranges.  Or cherries. 

Patience.  Investment.  Struggle.  Growth.  Pruning.  Harvest.  ...Pie.  I'm grateful for the season behind, and looking forward to the one ahead.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Arranged Marriage

Strange things happen in a yoga studio while one is in camel pose. For example, it came to me that perhaps finding love and fulfillment in the path of one's life is kind of like finding love in an arranged marriage.

Where did that come from? Too much Bollywood and a very honest conversation with my best friend. (And I suppose the supercharged blood rushing to my head while I was in a deep backward bend. Silly camel pose.)

The last time I was able to truly talk and catch up with my best friend (it doesn't happen as often as it should), we talked about how it struck us recently that we were grown-ups. Somewhere along the way we ended up in a rhythm of work and life and bills and everything else "normal" in life. The time had passed from when we were wide eyed, ambitious high schoolers who had no idea how exactly we would do it, but we would be great worldchangers. That's not to say that we aren't world changers in our own ways. But at some point we stopped dreaming about what we might be "when we grew up." It sunk in that we were grown up. And our lives didn't look anything like what we imagined. The funny thing is, the more we talked through it, the more we realized that was ok. Sure, there are dreams we mourn and "what if" questions we ask. But as we sat there and analyzed and affirmed and laughed and cried with each other, we saw that we *are* worldchangers. Divine nobodies quietly doing what we can to live out this glorious hope we have inside.

One of my favorite Bollywood movies is "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi." It's a way over-the-top song and dance movie with a strong case of mistaken identity. (Mix a dose of 'Step up' with a dash of 'She's the Man' a pinch of 'Office Space' or 'The Drew Carey Show' and a smidgen of 'Lois and Clark' and you get the basic idea. It's fantastic. Don't judge me.)

There's an arranged marriage between near strangers (the husband is the favorite student of the wife's father). Through the course of the movie, the wife falls in love with her husband while he's pretending to be everything that she's looking for. But the ruse poses a dilemma for both of them. She wants to escape what she believes is a loveless marriage, but feels compelled to stay due to the promise that she made to her father. He faces the paradox of her sheer misery as his wife in contrast to her delight with his fabricated alter ego. He tries to win her love as himself, but that only alienates her further. She nearly runs away with 'the other man' before deciding to stay with her husband. Of course, in a dramatic scene she finally realizes they are the same person. There may potentially be a dance competition involved in that scene. And a delightfully corny montage. If you can stand reading sub-titles, you really should watch this movie. I'm just saying...

How in the world does that relate? Just this: Maybe if I look past the wrapping paper, I'll realize that the path I fell in love with is the path I've been walking all along.


Today was supposed to be a leisurly morning.  Wake early, get a workout in, quick trip to Target, and then relax and write. day has exploded!  I'm rushing here and there, trying to time everything just right.  Get to one person's house before they leave.  Make it back to another place before something begins.  Try to relax and be sociable, while keeping my eyes on the clock for a commitment later tonight.  Where did my Saturday go?

Do you ever find your schedule running away with you like that?  Here's my goal for today:  just take one minute at a time.  Keep moving, but enjoy each moment. 

On a tenacious note:  look for a post later today!  Blogging about a certain thought was a goal I had for today.  And even if I'm a little busier than I anticipated, I want to meet my goal. I also want to make sure I enjoy the run to the finish line.

Happy Saturday!

Monday, January 18, 2010


“He is jealous for me…”  So begins a song that has completely captured my attention in recent months. After first hearing it at a very emotional Nexus, I got to spend a Sunday morning between services simply lingering in this song.  Just Eddie and me, playing violin and piano, sharing one of those heaven-meets-earth moments up in the rehearsal room.  But I digress.

Have you ever really wanted something, and you would do whatever it took to get it?  Not like wanting a new shirt when you scour the clearance racks or see what deals are out there.  Not like that.  Not like clipping coupons or shopping smart to fill your day to day needs at the store.  Not like that at all.

More like an Ebay bidding war.  When you’ve found something rare and precious.  They don’t make it like that anymore.  It’s that thing that you remember from a while ago.  It’s that rare, no-one-can-find-it-anymore treasure.  Or it’s that brand new thing that no one knows where they can get one yet.  The kind of thing that you watch for a few days and then put it all out on the line.  Entering a bid, but knowing that you’re willing to pay so much more.  Timing your move until the last few moments, hoping to avoid raising the interest of others.  Knowing that if everyone knew this thing were here, the hopeful bids would skyrocket to the land of the “I can’t really afford this anymore.”  And yet, you know that if that bidding war happens, you’re not going down easily.  You’ll purge, scour, borrow, save… you don’t know what you’ll have to do, but you’ll find a way to make ends meet so you can make it your own.

*That* kind of wanting.  That’s how God wants us.  The precious part of us.  That little bit of our heart that yearns for eternity.  (Because he knows if he can get that, the rest of us will follow).

He’ll risk anything to get it.  Our comfort…his son…whatever it takes.  It doesn’t matter how many bidders enter the fray.  He’ll go out.  He’s reckless.  He’s found the treasure, and he’s not backing down.

It’s the kind of love that makes you see the treasure that lies within.  The kind of love that wipes away regrets and turns a life around.  The kind of love that drowns you in a sea of grace until there’s nothing left to do but ride the hurricane of his affection and glory.

I’m still learning just how deep God’s pockets are.  And though sometimes the bidding war rages, I don’t think anyone (or anything) could win against a love like that.  I think instead I’ll let myself be won over.  Though, I think mine is the greater prize.

"There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still" ~ Corrie Ten Boom

"He did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all…I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[m] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." ~ Romans 8:32, 38-39


I know I've been quiet for the past several weeks.  I'm sorry for making you wait for me.  But as Mark Twain might say, "The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause." 

I've had a lot of beginnings and endings during the past month or so.  And while my crazy head has still been racking up thoughts and analogies, I needed to just sit and be.  But I'm ready to jump back in.  To live, and learn, question, celebrate, and share...

Has your new year started off with a bang?  Let me encourage you.  Don't be afraid to take a few moments to pause and catch your breath.  You may just find the right words (and actions) will follow.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tenacious G

Inspired by my friends (including Marie), I've picked a word to focus on for 2010.

When Mandy was first telling me that they were choosing a word of the year, I didn't wait for the rules and proclaimed that mine would be "ubiquitous." It was the first word that popped into my head. (No, I'm not kidding.) Mandy just paused and laughed at me, and then went on to explain.

The idea is to choose a word that you can focus on, mediate on, and reflect upon as you go about your daily life.

Oddly enough, 'ubiquitous' is not such a bad word for me. It's an adjective that means "existing or being everywhere." For someone who has as many diverse interests as I do, I often feel like my life is a blur and I'm surprised that I can keep up with everything at once. So even though it's an awesome's not my word for 2010.

Etymology: Latin tenac-, tenax tending to hold fast, from tenēre to hold
Date: 1607
1 : not easily pulled apart : cohesive
2 : persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired

And call it God's sense of humor or Pastor Steve's impeccable taste, but my word fits perfectly with our memory verse for the year: Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Hebrews 10:23 (New Living Translation)

They're like two peas in a pod. I'm genuinely looking forward to 2010...