Friday, March 31, 2006

If I were going to write a poem

If I were going to write a poem about today--
It would have to express the hope that's in the air.
Almost imperceptible except for this tug at my spirit--
Whispering at my soul's ear, too, if I'm being honest.
Like the weather--transitional,
Making way for change.
Winter can't hold on when the temp keeps rising,
With buds forming, breeze blowing, weeds popping up.
(They always precede the grass greening
And perennials re-emerging, don't they?)
Something is happening; mostly unseen,
But real activity nonetheless.
The loneliness and isolation during a gray season
Of hibernation suddenly turn into re-aquaintance
Or new connections with signs of life.
Colorado hasn't seen an actual spring yet, but I am feeling it.

I can't hurry winter's departure, but I can embrace the signs of life
As I encounter them.
Vital occurances take place underground.
They are as necessary in bringing re-birth from dormancy
As water and sunlight are later in the cycle.
If I were going to write a poem about today--
It would have to express the relief I feel
About what I'm perceiving.
We may get more snow, but the season has changed.

3 vignettes

3 little quizzes-- not extensive enough to be totally accurate, but with some interesting results.

You Are Emerald Green

Deep and mysterious, it often seems like no one truly gets you.
Inside, you are very emotional and moody - though you don't let it show.
People usually have a strong reaction to you... profound love or deep hate.
But you can even get those who hate you to come around. There's something naturally harmonious about you.

You Belong in Paris

You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.
You're the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe.

You Are A Lily

You are a nurturer and all around natural therapist.
People see you as their rock. And they are able to depend on you.
You are a soothing influence. You can make people feel better with a few words.
Your caring has more of an impact than even you realize.

Little diversions from the brain drain of working with templates and style sheets. I will post soon about life, books, and church ruminations.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A blogger's fear

Thanks for all the comments lately. Helps me to feel more like we're having a conversation- and a little less like the guy in the picture.

See more of Dave's cartoon work here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Brain freeze

If we only use a small portion of our brain capacity, why does it hurt so much to learn new technology? Isn't there lots of brain power available? OK, I know that the under 30 crowd doesn't deal with this, but it's hard for me to learn tech skills if they are not intuitive. In designing print media I can drag objects around and place them on the page. In styling a page for the web, a blog, etc. I have to learn a completely new language that makes little sense to me. I work in a supposed WYSWYG (what you see is what you get) software program and it doesn't exactly work that way! The last week or so I have been trying to understand CSS (style sheets that set visual presentation)--going through tutorials, creating a test site, uploading photos to Flickr, etc. in order to increase my web design abilities. My brain is tired and I need a breakthrough. If only I shared my loft office with a couple of other designer/web savvy types, how much quicker I could get over the brain freeze, pick up the skills, make corrections, and actually get it! We could even laugh our way through the problems and collaborate on projects. I am so looking forward to seeing my friend this week who can listen to my frustrations and shed light on the dark places in my process.

Isn't that they way it works in life, too? I have skills in one area and you have them in another. When we add our ideas together we get a bigger picture (and a better product.) I hit the wall and I need someone to shed light on this dark place. Maybe you are a good listener who can help me process.You point me to truth. You need someone to make you laugh, ease your stress, and help you gain new perspective. I hang out with you and am there for you. There are times when we shop, cook, watch a movie, or pray together. The icy patches begin to thaw. We gain traction and are able to pull out of our rut and gain momentum.

I am surrounded by books, definitive guides, tutorials, and coffee cups. It's just not the same as having someone near by with whom to tackle a problem or snag.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A to Z

God Spell
I love this poem by Gerard Kelly using the alphabet. By the time you get to "Z" your heart is unZipped.

Arrest me Oh God, until I am free
Blind me until the scales fall from my eyes
Cajole me, corral me, confront what’s soft in me
God of comfort; who will never compromise
Divorce me, my God, from all that harms my heart
Extend me beyond my feeble dreams (continue reading here)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Gotta name this group thing

An aside: I've got to find a way to show categories on the blog so I can put these group meeting reflections together in a way they can be found easily. Have looked into for making categories with tags, but don't quite get how to do it. Does anyone know a simple way to do this on Blogger? Thanks for any help.

(IH-3) Last week's group time was a bit of a follow-up to the previous one's theme of being surrounded and the outflow of that--toward others. I had some music and a new article to stimulate discussion. This time, though, two other people also brought music to share. (Hooray!) We celebrated with one person and even did the background vocals (R&B style) as she requested. Fun. Then mellowed it out with a creed in the form of an old Vineyard song for one who just needed to hear that. Some in the group are quick to stop, right now, and pray for the one who is being vulnerable enough to share their pain. So they did.

We read in our article a story of a woman (Sarah) whose faith hit the wall. In frustration she said to God, "Jonah--what was that about? You chase the man down, and you get him swallowed by a fish. He doesn't want to go to Nineveh..." She told God, "Leave Jonah alone, and by the way leave me alone, too." We heard her questioning, her fears, her doubts, and what finally changed as something broke open inside of her. She came to see that she didn't have all the answers and she couldn't always remain safe. She eventually felt God tell her to ask him about Nineveh.

And I thought, Well, Nineveh was an evil place. God continued, And what happens in evil places? I thought, Little girls get abducted from their own stoop. People are awful to each other. There's war and famine. And God said to me, That's why I sent Jonah. I was being personal to a little girl in Nineveh, to a hurting woman there. I was running to their rescue. But I need people to do that. I need you.

Through the painful period of time that this process took, her paradigm of what the kingdom of God is, changed. She sees it now not just in the future, but as a place we are invited to live in the midst of our regular existence. That led her to look for opportunities to be God's hands and feet. She had a profound look at God's provision when she took part in relief efforts in La. after Hurricane Katrina, and often sees stories of redemption because of her involvement with a drug rehab program.

We asked each other, "What turns things around for us?" We came up with several factors having to do with enough pain, time, God's spirit, new understandings of truth in a personal or experiential way, etc.

What causes something to break open inside of you?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Culture wars

Sharon pointed me to this article from CT and I saw it referenced again by someone else, so here it is at the author's website: Here are some threads I pulled:

The culture appears to be an aggressive challenge to the
church, and Christians keep worrying over what to do about it...

The influence of the culture... is more like the weather. We can observe that, under current conditions, it’s cloudy with a chance of cynicism. Crudity is up, nudity is holding steady, and there is a 60 percent chance that any recent movie will include a shot of a man urinating. Large fluffy clouds of sentimental spirituality are increasing on the horizon, but we have yet to see whether they will blow toward or away from Christian truth. Stay tuned for further developments.

...God has not called us to change the weather. Our primary task as believers, and our best hope for lasting success, is to care for individuals caught up in the pounding storm.

...We are sent out into the storm like a St. Bernard with a keg around our neck, to comfort, reach, and rescue those who are thirsting, most of all, for Jesus Christ.

I applaud Frederica Mathewes-Green for not reducing the subject to simple blacks and whites, but instead she shows the shades of gray that both culture and church include. It is our challenge to not be consumed by culture, but to avoid being antagonistic. Otherwise how will our transformed lives be heard by those needing safe harbor from the storm? If we piously reject culture we make it more difficult to be taken seriously. I like what some churches and groups are doing to live out the gospel within a local cultural context. They use familiar cultural forms of media and technology and also draw on ancient traditions that speak of personal faith and relationship. More on that later. See what you think of the article.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Groovin' with the Lamb (IH-2)

(IH-2 or It Happened #2) Another time of gathering to experience God in the company of others. (see IH-1 in Feb. 23 post) One new face was added this week and it was amazing, yet again, how things gelled in spite of being in the awkward, stumbling phase of a just-beginning group with only a vague idea of where we are going and what it will look like. However, newness is exciting and people's hearts and hopes seem to be connecting.

I talked more than I wanted to in facilitating the group. I came with not so much of an agenda as an idea for some participatory worship and then a practical outflow discussion afterwards. We had gaps of silence while listening and processing as well as streams of response and conversation.

I read the Col.1 passage from the Message (see my Feb. 24 post.) Our worship soundtrack was Moving With the Lamb (Rita Springer) which played through twice so we could absorb the lyrics:

I'm moving with the Lamb, moving with the Lamb,
I'm surrounded. I'm strolling with the Lamb,
strolling with the King of Kings.
Stepping with the Lamb, stepping over my sins.
I am dressed in a holy robe...
and I drink from the holy cup of God.
I'm surrounded.

Thought about moving with the Lamb of God and also about being his little lamb; surrounded by Him. Had the lamb picture set up with a gold tassled 'robe' and silver cup and candles. Placed a different fabric 'robe/shawl/veil' around each woman's shoulders during the song as a symbol of being surrounded in Him. Then a chance to reflect and share and pray. I read from an article about Katrina relief and Christian volunteers and the impact on the local community--as a practical example of God's surrounding care in the natural physical realm. Hoped to have more discussion from that about how we have experienced being surrounded in different ways, spiritually and practically. We did talk about responding to God's prompting to be involved in the world in ways where His love could flow outward from us. Each person received a bookmark with the lamb picture as a final song by Kirk Franklin (Will You Hold Me Now?) played.

Feedback from some in the group pointed to the worship experience as being very meaningful. One person reported to have actually felt warmth and God's care for her when the robe was placed on her shoulders. The final song seemed to have reaffirmed God's love even more. Someone else became aware of how she takes God and His love for granted.

I expect each time we meet to be a little different. As people feel more free to share and 'bring something' to the group (i.e. poem, song, picture, etc.) there should be more of a flow. I'm looking forward to 'pressing in' to the Presence together and having some lively discussion.