Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Prayers, Please

Today I ask for prayers for a friend whom I've never met, author of over 100 books and well-known in the Christian writing community as a giver. He is sponsoring me and 9 others to attend a writing conference in California next month. He has helped many other novice writers find their feet.

I got word yesterday that his house burned to the ground . His son-in-law was killed. Please lift this family up in prayer.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Readers of the new Millenium

I always thought you were supposed to put your most important, most eye-catching information at the beginning of an article. In print, that's true. People want to get hooked by the headline to read the first paragraph. Hopefully the first will lead to the second and so on. Come to find out, this rule does not apply if you're writing for an online readership, because online readers don't read, they skim. For them, the second paragraph is key because they assume the first paragraph is a rewording of the headline.

Did your eyes skip to this paragraph first? If so, the theory is correct. (see above)

I guess it's true for me. Most times when I read something online and try to tell someone about it, I find I don't have details to back up what I'm saying.

Me - "Did you hear about the bombing yesterday?"

Husband - "No what happened?"

Me - "Um, I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure there was a bombing. Or maybe it was a bomb threat. I'm not sure. But you can look it up."

I'm thinking a symptom of this method of reading is that we've got a lot of people who know a little about a whole lot of subjects rather than people who know a lot about a few subjects. I've got more to say about that, but by now you've quit reading anyway and have moved on to the next blog.

Blah, blah, blah.

Friday, February 23, 2007

God's House

My grandpa used to tell the story about Enoch, the man who never died. He used to say that Enoch walked with God every evening. One night they walked and walked and walked. They got so far from home, Enoch knew he couldn't make it back.

"That's okay," God said. "You can just come on to my house."

And he did.

I heard an idea tonight that tickled something inside my brain. It's probably not a new idea to many of you, but it was stated in way I'd never heard before.

We as a church tend to treat our congregation like our family home. We're the ones who know where everything goes. We hold the keys to the house. We turn the heaters on in the morning and the lights off at night. We're comfortable in our little home together, but visitors have a hard time feeling like part of the family because they're just... visitors.

What if we decided to face the truth that church is not at our house, it's at God's. It's a new concept to me. What does church look like if we're all strangers together, if no one is proprietor of the way things should be?

It could be a horrible mess.

Or it could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ageless Wonders

I left Juneau in 1987 and, expect for a couple of short visits, I've not been back. I missed my 10 year reunion, skipped my 15th, and was absent for my 20th. But yesterday, a mini reunion came to me.

Yesterday, Julie Lynn got married. She was the youngest of the gang of us who used to hang around together, the daughter of my beloved physics teacher. And when Julie Lynn got married, our parents' friends gathered to witness the event. And since all of those friends were teachers, it was like a small school reunion, but with teachers instead of classmates.

So, counter clockwise around the table were my 9th grade English teacher, my 12th grade computer teacher, a history teacher, Dad (English teacher), school librarian, Jr. high chorus teacher, some husbands, wives and me. I've aged in the last 20 years... really aged.

Bu the incredible thing about all those teachers is they all look exactly like I remember them. How does that happen? How do 20 years go by without a new wrinkle or any more gray hair? Were they prematurely old because of all the headaches of teaching? Or did hanging around kids for so long act as a fountain of youth?

I think it might be the latter.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Imaginary Peer Pressure

I probably shouldn't have been in the game store in the first place since my husband and I gave up on "Hallmark holidays" years ago. I think Valentines Day fits in that category, doesn't it? Anyway, I'd just come from a nice activity where we'd made some really nice Valentines cards and I wanted to get a little gift to go with it.

So I ended up at the game store looking through stacks of used XBox games for a particular one we've been wanting-- not just any video game, mind you, but the 4th in a series of puzzle solving games we've played together on our "date nights" when we lived overseas. They didn't have the game I was looking for, but we were there, so I started looking for something else that would do. The kids and I finally settled on a second choice that was reasonably priced and that would be fun for him if not for me.

I paid for the game and waited for the clerk to get it for me. After several minutes he came back and said the game I'd purchased was missing. He refunded my money and made me sign a paper that I'd received a full refund.

I should have walked out then. But I didn't. I felt this imaginary pressure to purchase a game, any game. Not that my husband was expecting a gift or that he needed or even wanted a game. But I was there, I'd been thwarted twice, and I wasn't leaving without a game in hand.

I waffled back and forth for a while before selecting a game that was almost 5 times the amount I'd been planning to spend. I plunked down my card (less painful that way, you know) and walked out of the store.

And turned right around and walked back in.

"I'm so sorry," I said. "But I'm going to need to ask for a refund on this game. I came in looking for one thing and left with another." The clerk didn't know how to give a refund since I'd paid with my card, so I came home fuming, angry at all my imaginary friends who made me feel like I needed to buy something that I neither needed nor wanted. It doesn't matter to me at this point whether we keep the game or not. I just wish I could gather up my dignity and hide in the corner.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Am I the Only One?

Does anyone else find it strange that we're still being bombarded with information about who else might be the father an Anna Nicole Smith's now incredibly rich baby but we've hardly heard anything about North Korea standing down on its plans to develop nuclear weapons?

I don't follow every bit of news, but it seems to me like one of these stories has more impact on more people than the other.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Did you Hear the One?

This ol' blog's been kind of heavy lately. Time to lighten up. Thing is, I'm not too good at jokes.

Here, I'll prove it.

An angel is talking to God. The angel says, "Look, God. I know that you're all-seeing and all-knowing, but for the knock-knock joke to work, you HAVE to say 'Who's there?'"


Why did ancient Romans close down the Coliseum?
The lions were eating up the prophets.

Okay, I'll admit. Without Garrison Keillor and Reader's Digest, I got nothin.

How about you? Heard any good ones lately?

Friday, February 09, 2007

The years are fleeting

Anna Nicole Smith. I don't know anything about her except what the tabloids and commercials scream at me.

39. We may have been in the same grade at school. But the similarities end there. Every time I heard her name over the past couple of years, it was because she was tied up in some controversy or some lawsuit. She married an elderly billionaire, then took his family to court when she didn't get what she expected in the will. She sued the weight loss company she used to represent. She was giving birth to one child (paternity testing currently underway) as a grown child was dying.

Even in life, every time I heard about one of Anna Nicole's situations, I cringed for her. How could one person make life so complicated in such a short time?

Then I realized that it doesn't take long at all to make your mark on the world. In fact, those whose lives are short often make a bigger impact than the rest of us.

Consider Alexander the Great, who conquered huge areas and annexed them into the huge Roman Empire. Who died at 33.

Or Nero, who killed pretty much everyone who looked at him funny (including his mother) and who started the first persecution of Christians after the burning of Rome. And who died at the age of 30.

Or Jesus Christ, whose teachings changed lives, whose death changed history, whose resurrection changed everything. And who only spent 33 years on earth.

This is not an invitation song. It's just a moment to muse about how I've used my life. What is my legacy? Will my death bring shock and a chance to rehash painful yet interesting stories? Or will it be a chance for people to reflect on the strength God can give to the weak?

Time will tell.

Monday, February 05, 2007

He No Here to Worship

A new acquaintance met an Asian man at the back of the auditorium during church services. The man didn't speak a word of English and my friend's Cantonese was just as absent.

The man had a paper with him with the name and address of a Chinese church on it. Once my friend understood that the man had no car and that the church was a couple of miles away, he offered to drive.

Once there, this friend entered the front of the room where the Chinese church was meeting and asked for someone to help.

"I've got a man here who is looking for you. I don't know who he is or where he came from, but he had your address."

A couple of Asian men walked out with him to the hallway and talked with the lost man for maybe ten seconds before turning to my friend. This is what they told him:

"He no here to worship. He homeless." They shook their heads and turned the man away.

The story continues of how my friend got the man to someone who could understand his situation and help him, but the part of the story that stuck out to me and to the men who lived it is the words, "He no here to worship." The very people who could have helped him most turned him away before he even got in the door.

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, 'Here's a good seat for you,' but say to the poor man, 'You stand there' or 'Sit on the floor by my feet,' have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

James 2:1-5

Sunday, February 04, 2007


I'm a bumpkin - I admit it .

This fact was confirmed to me this weekend when I walked into a church building that seats 5,000 for a Beth Moore conference. I should have realized it would be a monstrous event when every person checking into our hotel was female. Or maybe when it took 20 minutes of circling the parking lot to figure out there were no free spaces - not one - even though we were an hour early. Still, climbing to my seat in the third balcony, I was dizzy at the height and breadth of it all.

I'm a bumpkin and I tend to distrust people and events that look too organized and dolled up.

5,000 women gathered to praise God and listen to a woman who has a following among evangelical Christians as smitten with her as others are with Oprah. Christian Rock and Roll, I thought. Anything this popular, this polished, cannot be sincere.

Did I mention that I wasn't supposed to be there? The event sold out MONTHS ago. MONTHS. By the time I even heard about it, there was no way to get a ticket. Then, with only a few days before the event, God blessed me with a ticket, a ride, and companions. Still, I wasn't sure.

A lot of blessings came with the weekend-- the chance to spend with friends and to get to know other ladies, the chance to worship with abandon, the chance to witness an interpreter for the deaf turn an already beautiful language to pure art, the chance to sit at the feet of a woman - a gifted teacher - who gives all the praise to God.

Perhaps the greatest thing I took from the weekend, though, was the realization that just because something is popular and crowded does not mean it's insincere. As I sat and looked out at the thousands, seated neatly in numbered rows, I imagined Pentecost in Jerusalem.

3,000 people turned their lives over to Jesus that day. Just because they were numerous did not mean they were half-hearted.

3,000 people in one day, with no microphones or comfy seats or advertising fliers. So many in one small place, so few in the vast world. Yet those 3,000 changed the world forever.

3,000 in Jerusalem. 5,000 in Seattle.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." Acts 1:8 NAS