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Archive for August, 2005

Run, Melissa, Run

Tonight I tasted accomplishment.  It tastes goooood.  As a self-professed list person who writes things on my to-do list that I’ve already done just so I can have the satisfaction of crossing them off, I am not ashamed of my unabashed affection for accomplishment. I like goal-setting and I love goal-reaching.

Tonight I ran a mile and a half – without stopping – at a moderate pace.  That may be no big whoop to some of you out there who run five without breaking a sweat but as a non-runner this is a big accomplishment for me.  I’ve been running more lately trying to work up to running longer distances.  So tonight I am pleased because I am seeing growth from my discipline.  I really don’t plan on being an avid runner.  I think it is too much wear and tear on the body especially the knees.  But I’d like to build up some endurance and speed for my other sporting adventures.

Had my third eye appointment today and things are looking good (no pun intended) for the Lasik surgery this fall.  Laptop, Lasik, Laptop, Lasik . . . .hmmmm, what to do.  Preston – can you come up with an even better money-making scheme for me to try on the side?   

Speaking of seeing growth through discipline, I was reading an interesting chapter from Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry for our pastoral retreat this week.  The chapter talked a great deal about the need for repetition in our spiritual formation as disciples of Christ.  The author Willliam Willimon states "[R]ather than construe the Christian faith as a set of interesting ideas to be affirmed, I think it is wise to present this faith as a set of practices to be inculcated, a set of habits to be assumed." (213) I didn’t quite agree with Willimon on everything he wrote in this chapter.  He leans towards doing the disciplines which leads to understanding rather than the reverse.  I’d like to take a stance a little more middle-of-the-road.  I fear we have a little too much "don’t think, just do" churches out there.  But he does make some great reminders of the need for repetition of spiritual disciplines in our life.  I’m sure he has the expectation that these disciplines would be done with the intent of spiritual formation and pure motive; however, it is too often the case that spiritual disciplines such as prayer; Bible study; Scripture memorization; tithing; etc. are simply goals to be checked off our spiritual to-do list so we can receive a gold star on our chart.  A simple task to complete; not a spirit-transforming habit.

I do want to share one quote from the chapter that I think is a great reminder to all of us who are disciples of Christ:

Disciples are those who have been formed by the good news of Jesus Christ into
certain sorts of people who live in the world in certain sorts of ways that are often
counter to the world’s ways.
(204)

The pastoral staff head off for Windermere Tuesday and Wednesday for our retreat which I am thoroughly excited about and very much looking forward to.  Windermere holds many special memories for me – many of those memories involve beautiful, quiet moments with God.  I’m looking forward to some quiet walks around the grounds and an early morning fog rising off the lake on Wednesday morning.

Peace – Melissa

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Death of a Laptop

Some of my faithful blog followers may remember that my laptop starting acting very funny back in May right before I was scheduled to leave for senior trip.  Some folks looked at it and repaired it but told me that it could die any day.  Maybe 1 week; maybe 1 year.  Who knows . . . 

I know.  3 months – to the day!

It is very weird to be at home and not have a computer.  I definitely have an addiction to getting online, checking email, blogging, etc.  Its been a nice respite but I don’t think I’ll make it very long.  So, currently I am looking around the house for things I can sell or little extra ways to make cash.  I’m open to suggestions but please note that any suggestions must assure that I’m not fired as a minister. My only stipulation. 🙂

Great weekend.  Breakfast with Kailey on Saturday was a perfect start to the day.  Love you, girl, and thanks for being such an amazing friend. Can’t wait until our getaway in September! 🙂  Then, I spent most of Saturday with some Common Ground friends.  We went to see Neil Simon’s play "Barefoot in the Park" at the Lyceum Theatre in Arrowrock, MO.  It was a great play and just a great day in general. 

Played B-ball with CG guys today.  Didn’t leave one scratch this week.  Of course, my fingers look like little nubbs my nails are so short.  But at least I didn’t leave my mark on the arms of the other players.  My goal is to have the guys fearful of guarding me not because of my nails but because of my mad skills. No, really  . . .  seriously, stop laughing.

This week is packed but two of those days will be spent at my favorite place on earth – Windermere so that makes it all good.

Verse to leave you with from Matthew 16:23: You are a stumbling block to me, for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.  This verse was part of the passage that Doyle preached on this morning and this particular verse really captured my attention.  How many times have I been a stumbling block to the work of God because I’m so focused on human things.  My heart, my mind, my behaviors fixated on selfish things or earthly concerns rather than fixated on things of God.  I believe we are agents of the God’s work in our lives and in our world and when we are so consumed with human things we miss miraculous opportunities to be used by God to bless others and to experience blessings ourselves.  Plus, life is simply better when we think on divine things more than on human things.  Some of the most meaningful and loving things in our life (relationships) have the Divine in and through it.  That is why they mean so much to us. So, this week I’m going to work on setting my mind and heart where it should be so that I am not a stumbling block to the work that God desires to do in and through my life.

Peace – Melissa

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Warts and All

Some of you choose to love me … warts and all.  Literally.  But not anymore.  I’m about ready to post about some ugliness so if you just ate or you have a tendency to toss cookies, blow chunks, etc. at quasi-nauseous topics, you might just want to skip to the next paragraph.  However, if I’ve captured your attention, read on . . .  So, I developed warts on my thumb last year.  Yep, pretty nasty.  In January, I had them frozen (a painful process that leaves mother-of-all blisters and oozing wounds for 2 – 3 weeks.)  I had 3 frozen and 2 came back in May.  Urgggh.  So I made it through the summer and finally went back today to the dermatologist to have two that returned frozen again.  They hurt.  They’re blistered.  My thumb looks freakier than ever.  For those of you that thought it was disgusting for me to post pictures of my toenails after my pedicure, well . . . you can be thankful that I do have some small amount of compassion for my blog readers otherwise I’d post a pretty little close-up of my blistering, disgusting thumb. 

Had Common Ground friends over last night for a hang-out night. Good times, good excuse to eat bad.  I had spent a good portion of the day moving furniture back into my basement after having my carpets cleaned.  My basement gets a lot of traffic during the school year from high school kids that come over once a week for Bible study.  I took advantage of the moving to rearrange the basement and I love the new set-up.  It got a thumbs up approval from CG folks last night.  I also discovered that I had water damage in the basement from a humidifier pump that ceased working sometime during the week.  Today, I had it serviced and a few dollars later, we are back to functioning once again. My friend, Preston, stayed LATE, LATE and we had a great time catching up and solving all the world’s problems.  Thanks, Preston, for listening and for solving all my issues.  There isn’t anyone I enjoy being narcissitic with more than you. 🙂

Time to get back to work.  I wonder if I could justify leaving early due to the throbbing pain in my thumb.  I can’t type well; I have trouble praying due to the distraction of pain;  I have less-than-saintly thoughts right now due to said pain. I"m a little "winey" and we all know wine and ministers is a bad combo (she says sarcastically).  So perhaps it is justifiable if I’m really, really creative . . .

Melissa

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Let You Down

I just purchased the Three Days Grace cd last week and love it.  Rarely do I purchase a cd where I love every song but this is one of those rare cds for me (along with Pillar’s Where Do We Go From Here? and Breaking Benjamin’s We Are Not Alone most recently.)  Great songs; interesting lyrics; insanely contagious melodies and rhythms. Great workout tunes.

Anyway, the lyrics of one of the songs really spoke me to today.  The song is Let You Down.

Trust me
There’s no need to fear3dg_bandpic_3
Everyone’s here
Waiting for you to finally be one of us
Come down
You may be full of fear
You’ll be safe here
When you finally trust me
Finally believe in me
I will let you down
I’ll let you down
When you finally trust me
Finally believe in me
Trust me
I’ll be there when you need me
You’ll be safe here
And when you finally trust me
Finally believe in me
I will let you down
When you finally trust me
Finally believe in me
Never want to come down

Lyrics speak differently to people.  I don’t know where Three Days Grace is coming from with their lyrics.  But I think any artist respects the fact that poetry/lyrics/writing is open to conjecture by the reader and since what they hear/read is colored by their life experiences and personality, you can’t really say they are wrong. Okay, you can but its like trying to argue grunge was a good fashion phase.  As much as you may believe that to be true, some of us simply can’t go there with you.

Let You Down is applicable to whatever a person places their trust in – except for One, I would argue.  Maybe its another person; maybe a dream or a hope; maybe a skill or ability.  Recently, I’ve been failing in things a little more than I’m use to and its been a good thing for me to experience.  I’ve trusted "me" to an unhealthy degree and guess what – "me" will let me down.  Its a false sense of security and when I put my trust in my own abilities, when I finally feel safe because of my own strength, I will inevitably face the music – I will let "me" down.  Don’t read this thinking I’m all down-on-Mel tonight.  I’m actually quite at peace and feeling very free.  That is the beauty and paradox of freedom in Christ.  Remember that Monday night I was seeking every possible distraction from God?  I finally stopped running tonight.  God caught me . . . and he freed me . . . from my incommensurate self-reliance.  It doesn’t crush my world at all to know that I will let me down – not when I remember with assurance that God won’t.  It is in every way a huge relief to let go because even while I am trusting in my own strength there is that nagging part of me that knows the insecurity and absurdity of it all . . . the inevitability that I will crash and burn at some point. 

So tonight I rest . . . truly rest because God is in charge. (until I try and take it back again in my reoccuring bouts with control.)  But in the meantime,  I rest and savor true freedom from what ails me.

And second, let this just be one more defense against those who would argue that nothing good comes from secular music.  God is limited by nothing!  The Spirit of God can speak (and does speak) through the most unexpected places and people.  We just have to be open to hearing.

Peace – Melissa

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My Theological Worldview

Found this online quiz from a friend’s blog that apparently identifies your theological worldview through a series of questions.  Below are the results of my quiz and I must say the resulting score is fairly accurate.  I’m particularly proud of the 0% score on fundamentalism. 🙂  If you read the description of an Emergent/Postmodern theological worldview you will have a decent and broad understanding of my current perspective on matters of faith and religion.  I’m a curious student of the Emergent movement in the church and believe that some amazing and desperately needed revelations will be the result of the questions and challenges that are brought to the forefront through postmodern and emergent conversations. If you are curious to take the quiz, click on the link at the bottom that asks, "What’s your theological worldview?"  It is a very quick assessment.

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don’t think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.

Emergent/Postmodern

86%

Modern Liberal

64%

Neo orthodox

61%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

46%

Classical Liberal

43%

Roman Catholic

36%

Charismatic/Pentecostal

29%

Reformed Evangelical

25%

Fundamentalist

0%

What’s your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

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Distractions

I was in bad need of distractions tonight. You know – those times when you need your mind to be otherwise occupied for awhile with something other than what it is currently fixated on.  I went to the YMCA and worked out for awhile.  Ran through the pain I was feeling from yesterday’s basketball game with some of the guys from CG. Then I was set to go see a movie and on my way there, I sensed God telling me that I could run, but not hide.  I hate it when God does that.  By the time I got there I knew that it would be a waste of time and money.  So I kept driving and decided I would go for a walk and give God some time (since God was obviously trying to get some time with me).  On my way to the greenway, I got distracted by stores.  First, I’ll just run into MC Sports to get some new workout clothes because I need some (no, really . . .I did).  But not anymore.   Then, well, I’ll just run in to TJ Maxx real quick to pick up some house stuff.  Ran into people.  Chit-chatted.  Didn’t buy anything.  Back to the jeep.  It’s dark now so walking is out.  But hey . . . Old Navy is still open so I ran in there to pick up some more of my favorite tees.  While in Old Navy, I got a call from a friend that I hadn’t talked to in a few months and was the last person I would have expected to call tonight.  Not because its a bad thing or we are on bad terms. Life changed and we don’t have reasons to interact like we use to so I really didn’t expect to hear from him unless we happen to cross paths.  We talked for a while until I realized the store was closing and I had things in my arms that I still had to try on.  Did that.  Bought two t-shirts and savored my catch-up conversation with Jesse.

Distractions on two levels:
1.  I was distracted throughout the night from thoughts that I wished to be distracted from. Mission accomplished.
2.  I successfully allowed other things to distract me from God even though I knew in my soul that God and I needed focused, quiet time together tonight.  It is 10:08 pm and it still has not happened.  I truly can sense God’s sadness and displeasure with me – sadness because God wanted nothing more than to simply love on me, to comfort me and to strengthen me;  displeasure because we both know that I clearly heard God calling me to spend time with him and I willingly chose not to.

Signing out without the peace that I could have had tonight had I listened to God-
Melissa

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A month or so ago I had decided to read up on the Bosnian War.  I realized that I didn’t really know much about that war at all and it became important to me to get a sense of that conflict and the environment, experiences and issues that were a part of that region of the world in the early to mid-1990s.  Let me just stay that it is sad and pathetic the number of books, resources, etc. on the market involving this war.  I found two books at Barnes and Nobles regarding the war (neither were general overviews or directly related to the Bosnian War but rather focused on one key individual or the weapons/methods of war.)  Hastings – nothing.  Amazon.com – more Bosnian/Yugoslavia history rather than specifically focusing on the Bosnian War.   Finally, I went to our downtown library and came across the book Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War by Peter Mass, a journalist during the war. (See my "Feel the Rhyme" typelist in the left column for details on the book.)  I checked it out and had not touched it for about three weeks and just got to it this week.  I’m halfway through this fascinating, sickening, and horrifying account of what happened throughout Bosnia during the early 90s.  It is heartbreaking and terrifying what one human being can do to another human being.  One of the first accounts in the book left me literally nauseous – something that does not happen to me often.  When you read such things, even eye-witness, first-hand accounts, you do not want to believe them.  You want to find some loophole or some shred of something that might convince you that it is made up. That no person could willingly do this to another person.  But that isn’t the case.  And this kind of soft, gutless hope is why so much evil is allowed to exist and continue.  Edmund Burke once said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."  Rwanda, Somalia, Bosnia, Germany . . . and so many other testimonies to the depravity of man and the power we give to it by our choice to do nothing.   This is mirror talk more than anything.  Believe me – the finger I’m pointing is pointed at me.  That is where it must begin – one.  The one person you have control over – yourself.   How do I live in such a way that I remember that all of humanity is my family – all creations of God?  How do I develop a heart that is global in its thoughts, love, prayers and sacrifices?  How do I choose to live so as not to help evil triumph?

A friend told me not too long ago that war will lead you to have gratitude for things that we often take for granted.  War will burn into your mind images that will serve to remind you that you don’t have it that bad.  Not even close.  War will put things into perspective. War can do all these things – if you choose to learn these lessons and remember them.  I can only speak from my imagination.  I have never been directly involved in war; I’ve never served in combat; I’ve never physically been to a place of war at the time of war.  I speak from complete ignorance. I have only seen the changes to landscape after years of battle.  I have only read and heard the personal stories of those who have fought and those who have been victims.  I have only my imagination and empathy to help me try and grasp what it is like.   But even a tiny portion of these secondary things that I have experienced should be enough to help me remember. . . . right?   Then why do I keep forgetting?  Why do I take things for granted?  Why do I not make more of a conscious effort to live my life in such a way that contributes to the care, protection and provision of my global family?

Scripture has much to say about this.  Why don’t we talk about it more? 

Peace for all – Melissa

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