Tuesday, December 18, 2012

::big brother

Ok, folks.
Time for my triumphant return to the blogosphere.

I felt the urge to write when the Sandy Hook atrocity was first reported, but I find that the reactionary soapbox-ers are provoking me even further.
I can no longer keep silent.

Lookin' at you, Mike Huckabee.

This is a glaring exhibition of what is so very wrong with American Christianity.
Trust me, I know, because I used to brandish the same arrogance.
I used to pass on those hideous emails that urged me to be intentional about saying "Merry CHRISTmas!" instead of "Happy Holidays."
I used to drink the Kool-Aid about how everything went south when prayer was taken out of schools, the Ten Commandments could no longer be posted, and abortion became legal.

Contained therein is the Us vs. Them Worldview:

We're evangelical Christians, and our faith is superior to anything you believe.
Ergo, we are superior.
If you disagree with us, you're wrong, and we will (at least claim to) pray for the salvation of your soul.
We're entitled to be righteously indignant because you have pooh-poohed our ethics and denied the Truth (note capital "T") of our faith.
We are a persecuted minority because you dare to suggest that our beliefs are not universal.
And then you DARE to come into OUR churches when you need support?!
We glare and smirk haughtily at your fair-weather devotion.
You're the ones who "marched God out of the public square" and now you come crawling back just because you're suffering?
Nice try.
This happened because you kicked God out of your life.
You can't say we didn't warn you. 

Frankly, Mr. Huckabee sounds like the older brother in the Prodigal Son story.
Whatever happened to him, anyway?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

::campy angst

I'm back from camp.

And what does that feel like?
Well...I suppose it's...lonely? A little bit?
This past summer, for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long, I felt like I had purpose. Like I was needed.
And what we were doing, that small team of us, just keeping the wheels of ministry spinning, felt so esoteric and insular, yet so universal.

Now that I have returned, I'm living at my parents' house because I can't afford to live anywhere else.
As grateful as I am to have somewhere to stay, it feels cramped and renders me restless.
I can't stop beating myself up about it.
And I'm searching for a job, as it feels like I'm essentially always doing.
Beating myself up about that is very difficult to avoid.
I just can't stop feeling like an enormous failure.

Longing to be back at camp is just another in a lengthy laundry list of grass-is-always-greener longings, I suppose.

Perhaps I need to pray for the grace and courage to accept myself the way I am,  for what and where I am, because there is no other version of me.
This is it.

[I'm a 35-year-old Emo Kid. I do realize this.]

Sunday, July 29, 2012

::a G-d thing

Tonight I found myself in a Bible study wherein the leader (Read: my dad) mentioned the term "God thing"...as in, something positive happens to you and you say "That was such a God thing!"

I don't use that term.
And I don't just find it annoying. 
I find it offensive. 

I may have gotten a little "worked up" about my opinion, which is unusual for me, so I need to process.

Someone brought up, "I think God prefers that we think of Him more often than not. I don't think it offends Him."
But I never said it offended Him.
I'm saying it offends me.
My sensibilities are far more irritable and high-maintenance than God's.
I have the unfortunate plight of being surprised  by things like awful Christian-culture phrases.
And maybe God does love it when we "think of Him"...but doesn't it matter what we're thinking of Him, and why?

It's one thing to just be annoyed by the cheesy phrase (which I am), but I know it goes deeper than that.

To say that something is "a God thing" sounds terribly vague.
Is it characterized as such because it reminds you to give credit where credit is ultimately due?
Is it something that reminds you that God loves you, even in the tiny details you might deem unimportant to Him?

Ultimately, I think using such a term gives God way too little credit for being who He is.
Every gift that is bestowed upon us, every breath we're given, is "a God thing."

To give Him credit only for the things that make us feel happy in the moment?
I just feel like we, as His people, can (and should) have truckloads more reverence for Him than that.

Monday, July 23, 2012

::i will wait

Here's the thing:
Being single is really hard sometimes.
Especially in your mid-30s, when you wonder how many people have wondered if you may, in fact, be one of The Un-marry-ables.
Or maybe, horror of horrors, you're secretly (GASP!) a lesbian.

But alas, you're not gay.
You're attracted to guys.
The problem is, they don't really seem to be attracted to you.
And even though you know, deep down, that it's "not your fault," well...sometimes it just feels like it is.
Maybe you're just too fat, too sensitive, too needy, too...something.

You also know that being in a relationship and/or being married is really hard sometimes.
You have seen this firsthand.
You have seen marriages crumble to dust.
You have seen break-ups that were downright soul-crushing.
And yet, sometimes you just can't help but pine for the companionship.
The temptation to pine is everywhere; from romantic-comedy storylines to evangelical sermons.

And that's why you watch this video almost every day.
This poet moves you in places you didn't know you had.
She makes you shiver and cry.
You hold this close to your heart, a soul-soother when you need its magical elixir.

[THANK YOU, Janette, from the depths of my spirit.]

More than the watchmen wait for the morning...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Precious Lord, I praise You for Your new mercies every morning.

There is such chaos in my heart, swelling in my soul.
I confess:

...to my constant worry and anxiety, continuously doubting Your provision for my needs.
...that I eagerly elevate and bow before the idols of my own preferences and opinions.
...that in thought, word, and deed, I marginalize others with cruelty and judgment, refusing to see Your image reflected in them.
...that I have treated Your perfect commands as if they are mere suggestions.
...to the ways in which I have squandered precious gifts and blessings.
...to my own self-destruction and self-sabotage, an outgrowth of my failure to recognize my own value as Your beloved child.
...that I have neglected to treat Your Love for me as a Glorious reality.

Please restore unto me the joy of salvation, and renew a right spirit within me.
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be always pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


I'm a Christian who grew up in the Baptist church.
At 27, I decided to leave.
I landed at Trinity Church, where the worship service was drastically different. Traditional, liturgical, bursting at the seams with sacred creeds and elegant litanies.
I was hooked.
I still am.
Now, eight years later, my views on worship are quite pronounced.
Some may categorize them as snobbish or elitist.
So be it.

Sending someone from your church to go out and interview people about what they want from a worship service is an interesting idea.
If you're working on some sort of investigative journalistic article, that's a fine tactic. Perhaps even admirable.

But worship is not about what WE want.

...Or, is it?
The troubling trend is to erect a giant auditorium and stage a slightly-spiritually-themed theatrical production once a week.
Type the song lyrics into PowerPoint slides, project them on giant screens, flash a few colorful lights, perform a set of 7/11 songs, and let your latest guru share a few words before he shows you a particularly poignant scene from Iron Man 2.
What is your role in this?
It's simple, really.
Sit back and enjoy the show.
Be entertained.
Focus on your own comfort, your own preferences, sip your Double Mocha from the lobby's coffee shop/bookstore, and just relax.
After all, "God wants you to be happy," right?
This postmodern pageantry requires nothing from you; no self-examination, no confession of wrongdoing, no contemplation, no sacrifice, no discomfort whatsoever.
Lounge lazily in your comfy chair.
Welcome to worship.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

::psalm project

This year, for Lent, the teenagers at church received a special assignment.
They, along with their leaders - myself included - were invited to participate in our own brand of
what is known as The Psalm Project.
We needed only to read the Lectionary Psalm for the week and allow it to inspire us; share images, sounds, songs, literature, stories, or any other inspirations that the text brought to mind.
From these inspirations, we crafted small, tangible works of art; one for each person in the congregation to take home, so that they could participate in our creative engagement with the Scriptures. 

Our first week, for Psalm 25, we distributed this: 

Inside, a square of card-stock bore this image: 

Inspired by Psalm 22, we crafted origami boxes from the very pages of the Psalms, and placed tiny foam-core squares inside, topped with delicate thorn-bush trimmings:

Psalm 19 called to mind Bruce Cockburn's song Lord of the Starfields, which inspired us to email this video to our community, as well as share daily photos taken by the Hubble telescope, like The Helix Nebula, often called The Eye of God : 

Psalm 107 conjured a labyrinthine theme in our collective minds, so one of our students rather deftly wrote its text inside of a printed labyrinth:

Psalm 51 found us distributing stones with sandblasted hearts crafted into them. They were placed in the baptismal font outside the sanctuary, beckoning our congregants to choose one on their way in to worship. 

Our final week found us recording a CD of different voices reading from Psalm 31, accompanied by an original guitar melody. This is a gorgeous and poignant piece, one into which the students clearly poured their hearts and souls. 


This project was so delightfully different than anything I had ever participated in before; so refreshing, so poignant and such a revelation. 
We received such lovely feedback, too; many were moved and inspired by our humble efforts to engage with these Sacred poems of longing and painfully honest prayers. 

I was encouraged by a fellow leader to try my hand at crafting a Psalm of my own. 
I'm working on it. 
I hope to soon share the fruits of my labor. :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

::tumblin' threads

I'm a little late to the party on Tumblr.
Oh well.
Better late than never, I s'pose.

Recently I watched Young Adult, and was amazed at how Charlize Theron - one of the most physically beautiful women I've ever seen - could portray such a profoundly ugly person.
Also, Patton Oswalt, who I find absolutely hilarious as a comic, has some impressive acting chops.

He holds his own, spars with the masters, and emerges victorious.
He's the most sympathetic character in the whole story.

This film was written by Diablo Cody, whose writing I still thoroughly enjoy every time I watch Juno.
I love to watch great storytellers collaborate to unspool a fascinating tale.

Monday, February 20, 2012


The last four weeks have been a flurry of blurry transitions.

 First, I suddenly and painfully moved out of the Detroit house.
 There were legitimate reasons and extenuating circumstances.
 Things happen in life, dear reader.
 And sometimes they suck.
 (Ask me privately. I'll explain.)

 So, I'm back in my hometown.
 Good old Holly.

 A few days later, I was blessed with a new baby niece. Lilee Adelia.

I adore her already.
She's now 3.5 weeks old, and growing healthier, stronger, and cuter by the day.
What a precious gift.

Some lovely and beautiful news arrived again, as we learned that my dad will be Resident Director of Camp Lake Louise this summer!
Words cannot contain my joy and gratitude for this.

Despite a few curveballs, I'm hangin' in there.
Blessings abound. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

::twenty eleven

I like to answer some questions from this survey whenever it's end-of-year season.
At best, it's a tool that helps me realize how much my life has truly changed and moved forward, thereby defeating my tendencies toward feelings of frustration and stagnancy. 

What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?
-- moved to Detroit, visited St. Joseph & Lake Michigan, got an iPhone, acted in a staged reading, lived in community with friends, worked with Special Needs adults @ Camp Lake Louise, wrote press releases for new novels, had a job interview in Grand Rapids, saw a concert at DTE...many more, I'm sure...

Did anyone close to you give birth?
-- Yes! My friend April had an adorable baby girl named Emelyn.

What date(s) from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

-- December 23, because it was the day of Jeremy Combs' funeral. 

What was the best gift you received?

-- My new-to-me computer for Christmas, a refurbished HP laptop. I'm very grateful. 

Where did most of your money go?
-- Gasoline, I suspect

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

-- My niece turning 3, spending so much time at Camp Lake Louise, my new pastor's arrival, the "Dance 'Til Dawn" movie night @ Zach and Erin's house

What song will always remind you of 2011?

-- The Beatles' "Oh Darlin'" 

What do you wish you'd done more of?

-- Keeping in touch with friends 

What do you wish you'd done less of?

-- Worrying, stressing, wasting time 

How did you spend Christmas?
-- My family spent Christmas Eve day together, then went to my parents' church, and the next morning, my parents came to church with me and we had dinner at Buca di Beppo...delicious! 

What was your favorite TV program?

-- Parks and Recreation

What was the best book you read?

-- Soul Pancake: Chew on Life's Big Questions ~ Rainn Wilson

What was your greatest musical discovery?
-- nervous but excited

What was your favorite film of this year?

-- I didn't see enough great ones...but I did love The Help 

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
-- I was 35. I went out to eat with my family & my friend Tim @ Red Devil (delicious!), then the next day, we had our Sunday night youth group at Buddy's Pizza, which turned out to be such a fantastic dinner...aaaand then I ended the day with a ferocious gallbladder attack. But let's not focus on that. 

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
-- Layers, scarves, jewelry, and color; mainly purple. I tend to wear lots of black because it's "slimming," but I'm learning to mix in brighter colors and creatively accessorize. 

What kept you sane?

-- Music, writing, reading, and long talks in dive bars with close friends 

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
-- Kevin Smith, probably...I listen to his podcast network every day 

Who did you miss?

-- My late grandparents

Who was the best new person you met?

-- Kimberly's brother Kyle and his wife Emily, and my new pastor, Phil Apol and his family 

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:

-- Faith can be both a very healing force, and/or a very dangerous liability. 

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

All of these lines across my face t
ell you the story of who I am 
So many stories of where I've been and how I got to where I am 
But these stories don't mean anything when you've got no one to tell them to 
It's true
I was made for you 

~Brandi Carlile


Related Posts with Thumbnails