Archive for September, 2009

Worst Dinner Party Ever

Posted: September 30, 2009 in Uncategorized

Luke 12:40ish+ Stupid Pharisees!  Didn’t the One who made the outside also make the inside?  Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor; then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands.  I’ve had it with you!  You’re hopeless, you Pharisees!  Frauds!  You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but manage to find loopholes for getting around basic matters of justice and God’s love.  Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required.

So challenging, this story.   First, the host of the party is “somewhat offended” that Jesus doesn’t wash up before dinner.  Isn’t it frustrating when Jesus doesn’t do what we think He ought to do?  When He insists on defying our expectations and ignoring our social sensibilities?  It’s so frustrating when He doesn’t live inside our definition of “decently and in order.”  His failure to wash His hands becomes a teaching moment in which He reveals that all is not as it appears in the life of the established religious order of the day.  “Frauds,” He calls them.  Why is that?  Because they aren’t giving to the poor.

Interesting business, here, because they are tithing.  In fact, they’re so concerned with tithing that they keep fastidious records of their giving.  But Jesus tells them (in fact, it seems he may even be yelling a bit) that giving money to the temple while ignoring the needs outside of it?  Not okay.  He tells them that if they will open their hearts and their wallets to the needs of the poor – and not just the needs of the church – that they will find clean lives.  Blessing.

Yesterday, like many other days of my life, I went to Costco.  On the way out of the parking lot, I passed people holding signs on almost every corner.  Seriously, with the unemployment rate in Bend hovering  near the 20% mark,  these corners have become some of the most valuable real estate in our city.  I was able to ignore, ignore, ignore…until I got to one corner where a woman was standing with her son.  He was maybe nine years old and I think he had been there a long time because he was working really hard to get all the garage sale and “Have You Seen My Dog” signs on the telephone pole organized.  Imaginary and involuntary images filled my head of my own 9-year-old, standing with me on a corner, trying to keep himself busy and probably hoping like crazy that none of his friends from school drive by.  I thought of all the times I’ve told hurting people, “We give money as a church to social agencies and so you’ll have to go to one of those  for help .”   In my mind, it makes sense that I give my 10% and then my name is recorded along with the rest of my church as someone who “cared for the poor.”  But every once in awhile,  my ears will open up to the yelling of a God who may not be a well-mannered dinner guest, but He’s an excellent Father to boys with no where to go but the corner outside of Costco.

The story ends like this:  “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars!  You took the key of knowledge, but instead of unlocking the doors, you locked them.  You won’t go in yourself, and won’t let anyone else in either.”  As soon as Jesus left the table, the religion scholars and Pharisees went into a rage.  They went over and over everything he said, plotting how they could trap him in something from his own mouth.

Worst dinner party ever.  Best revelation I’ve had in a long time.  Thank You, Jesus, for showing me myself in this story and for shaking me out of my complacency and comfort.  You are good.


I dare you to be mad at fall

Posted: September 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

Oh fall…you’re so good to me!  Here are some of my favorite things about the magical season of autumn.

Fall mumsFall mums.  Love them.  Except here’s a funny story:  our small-town high school (hi, Albany!) used to celebrate homecoming with mums.  Therefore, the boys would ask a girl to the dance and then would buy her a yellow mum the size of her head, tied with a bright blue ribbon.  A more hideous corsage has never been created, but still…I love mums.  Me and Josiah bought one for each of our neighbors this year.  We wrapped the pots with pretty orange ribbon and then stuck a toothpick-glued sign in the dirt that said, “Welcome Fall!  We’re so thankful to have you for neighbors!”  When it was all said and done, we spent less than $20 ($2 mums at Home Depot, ribbon and card stock) and have heard from every single neighbor.  Also, Josiah learned a God-sized lesson in loving well and there’s no substitute for that kind of action, I tell you.

shot-scarvesScarves are delicious.  I used to be scarf-impaired.  I didn’t know how to wear them the right way so they always ended up assaulting or abandoning me.  Now, however, I’m brilliant with scarves and wear them as soon as I possibly can wear them without suffering heat stroke.

Apple ciderOkay, this one is more of a philosophical liking than a literal liking.  Because I don’t drink sweet stuff of any sort.  But seriously, how cool are these jugs of spiced apple cider?

fall_leaves_multi_colors_1Leaves.  Duh.

pumpkin curry soup

Pumpkin Curry Soup.  Yum and amazing.  I just tried it this year and we love it with toasty crostini. Here’s the recipe I used, but please ignore the ‘pumpkin tureen” unless you’re one of those moms who sews your child’s Spiderman costume for the class Halloween party yourself.  The recipe itself uses canned pumpkin and it’s very delicious.


Last year I gave my reasons.  They’re still true in 2009.

fall footballNot even kidding – I love fall football.  If you’ve never given it a try, I encourage you to take the leap, ignore the scantily clad cheerleaders and just watch the grit and strategy of it all.   I learned early from my daddy, who had three daughters and no choice but to teach them to game if he didn’t want to watch alone…but if you didn’t have a dad to teach you, here’s a good start.

Oh, I just love eating and learning and seeing and experiencing.  Aren’t seasons just amazing?

Happy Fall,


How Beautiful.

Posted: September 27, 2009 in Uncategorized

Mmm…wonderful things in my life this weekend.  Wanna know what?  Do-ya?  Do-ya?  Huh?  (Now you know how my big sisters felt growing up with the likes of verbal me!)

Here’s the wonderfulness rundown:

  • I had the best possible drive over the Santiam pass this weekend – just gorgeous and overflowing with trees right in the middle of changing their coats for the season and sunshine that’s not quite ready to head south for the winter.  Amazing display of God’s work ethic, I tell you.
  • I spent a night with my mom and dad.  It’s so fun to go home with just me sometimes…no kids, no husband…just me and my parents.  We talked and laughed and laughed and talked.  My daddy got up early on Friday morning to make coffee for me and – guess what – we talked and laughed some more.
  • One wonderful, fun, and way-too-short coffee date with a friend from college.  Thank you, Donna, for sharing your time and your heart with me.  You are a treasure.
  • A very LONG and delightful lunch with both my sisters, my one and only mom and two awesome cousins.  We went to, of all places, a Christmas tree farm where they have a tea house and had a great lunch and more fun than any of us deserve.  So lovely.
  • A great day with over 700 women at  George Fox University woman’s conference, Selah.  Oh, goodness, I’m beyond blessed to have had the chance to speak to these women again this year and I absolutely had the time of my life!  I spoke on how to carry weight and how to help others carry weight and – at the risk of sounding too confident – I think it’s an important message for the season we’re in and I’m excited to share it at our church in a couple of weeks.
  • We launched a baby who has been waiting a YEAR to finally, please, oh please, be born already!  The Joy Project was released at the Selah conference and I was astounded to watch it sell out very quickly (reminding me that we really are pretty hungry for joy right now, aren’t we?)  Mixed emotions about that situation, actually, but all-in-all it was very encouraging.  Now, we’re moving fast to get it produced el rapido (that’s Bo for “speedy quick”) for those who will be launching fall Joy journeys in their Bible studies as soon as they get the books & DVD in their hands.  If you have the spare time and energy, I would sure welcome your prayers for wisdom and peace right about now with this new project.  Thank you.  Gracias.  Amen.
  • I got to spend some quality time sharing a perfectly delicious swiss cheese and mushroom burger with my dear daughter, Tori.  Our 12 hours together looked like: eat, shop, repeat.  Beautiful.
  • One other memory from Selah:  I wanted to give one Joy Project package away and I had decided early on that I wanted to give it to a woman whose husband was deployed.  I anticipated that with so many women there, we would have to choose the fastest or the funniest or have a spelling bee or something.  So imagine my surprise when I asked if there was any woman whose husband was deployed and one woman stood up.  Her name is Debbie and her husband is in Iraq until May.  I am convinced that God wanted to give her some joy and He picked her out way ahead of time.  Instead of praying for me and our new project, would you pray instead for Debbie and her husband?  She’s carrying a heavy load and I’d love to think that we can really help.
  • Another great drive over the mountain, culminating in the best hugs ever:  hugs o’ reunion!  Love it.  Love Jesus.  Love life.  Love you.


Identity Crisis

Posted: September 22, 2009 in Uncategorized

I know I said no more posting til next week but I have to, HAVE TO ask you a question.

What does it mean when the google search that led people to my blog most often yesterday was for ‘Twinkies’?  Should I be concerned?  Pack this whole thing in?  Charge Hostess for the advertising?  I don’t even know who I am anymore!

I forgot to mention that for my birthday, lovely friends and co-workers gave me a healthy supply of the unhealthy food…so maybe my first course of action is hit the treadmill.

For love of the golden sponge cake and creamy filling,


I often bemoan the scheduling trends of Christendom – especially Christenwomandom.  Women – because of back-to-school stuff and the ever-expanding holiday season –  tend to schedule all their events in September and October or April and May.  I’m great with April and May – those are months that I like to fill as full as possible because in Central Oregon, there isn’t much else to do with them.  We don’t have much of a Spring ’round these parts so I pretty much live going from one rainy location to another and that’s just fine with me.  Fall, however, is a wonderful season and I love it dearly, but for the past few years it seems that nearly every weekend is filled.  This year, even the week days are filled with details as I finish up and launch The Joy Project and start another year with Cascade Life Commission.

I’ve gone on and on about all of this to say:  I know I keep breaking promises and not posting what I say I’ll post.  It seems that with regard to writing, my eyes are bigger than my free time.  Anyway, I promised last week or the week before – yikes! – that I would show you my birthday present.  Yay, birthdays!  I love mine.  It’s in the most beautiful time of year and this year it was on a Sunday and oh, how I love Sunday birthdays!  So, I have taken pictures of my beautiful birthday gift which my beloved searched and searched for…but I’ve never made time to connect the camera to the computer and actually download it.  Some things are very nearly beyond my capability and that’s one of them.  But because I’m a woman of my word and because Karen keeps asking, here’s a photo from the manufacturer of the brand new love of my life:

Orange Dutch oven

Oh, how I love her!  She weighs a lot but she isn’t insecure about her heft.  She embraces it and uses it to her advantage.  I love orange.  I love cast iron.  I love Steve for being willing to risk the title Unromantic Gift Buyer of the Year by purchasing a kettle for my birthday.

Yesterday, my family took me to my favorite place for breakfast and then I cooked dinner for everyone last night.  Here’s what I made.  I followed the recipe exactly and it was a marvel.   A lot of work, for sure, but a truly a French classic.

So, this week is wall-to-wall busy, ending with the Selah conference on Saturday.  I love the Selah conference.  It’s my second year speaking there and I’m so excited to be with that great group of ladies again.  If you don’t have plans, it’s not too late to register – so many great speakers, great workshops, great worship, great women.  You can’t beat it with an orange dutch oven!

Til Next Week,


My boy is hygiene-obsessed.  I adore this about him and want to feed the compulsion as much as possible.  To that end, when he asked me to buy him some “cool shower soap like Dad’s” I jumped on the project with a passion fueled by many, many hours spent in gymnasiums filled with pre-teens and the various aromas they bring to the party.

I was excited about my little shopping excursion until I ran into a problem and here it is:  something tells me it’s a bad idea to buy a 9-year old boy a soap – no matter how good it smells – called “Dark Temptation”.    Because I don’t really want him to be darkly tempted or darkly tempting just yet.  However, the other options run along the lines of  “Horton Hears a Whoberry Cherry Bubblegumalicious” and I don’t want to buy that stuff either.  Because it’s gross.

So I ask you:  where is the middle ground between Willy Wonka and lounge singer?   Where is the cool-young-guy smell?  And for that matter, cool-young-guy clothes are pretty hard to find as well. I’ve tried to inspire my son-in-law to get busy and get famous so he can lend his name ,  likeness and excellent fashion sense to a line of tweener products that will solve all my problems.  In the mean time, I’ll settle for the Axe soap in the Horton bottle.

Believing for a whole new level of gender equality,


P.S.  Next week I’m gonna show you my awesome birthday gift which my totally good-smelling husband got for me and is arriving at my door on this very day, year of our Lord 2009 (the gift, not my husband…he’s already here).  Yay, for early birthdays!


Posted: September 9, 2009 in Uncategorized

Of all the great loves of my life – including Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter – one of my favorites is reading and research.  I love to know what thinkers are thinking and sayers are saying.  Especially when the thinking and saying pertains to the Church.  My life has been spent in, around, through, and about the local church.  It’s one of the other great loves.

Over the past several years, many spiritual leaders – emerging and otherwise – have been asking reasonable and no doubt well-intentioned questions about the veracity and validity of the church.  Those questions are presented in many different kinds of packaging, but the overall tone is, “The church is bleeding and broken, perhaps beyond repair.”  The central theme seems to center around a few primary complaints:

  1. The church is stuck in traditionalism and has become irrelevant
  2. The church is judgmental and has lost the love that framed the great commandment and fuels authentic community
  3. The church as we know it does not reflect Jesus’ love for the poor and oppressed

I’ve logged a lot of hours in church and I have to agree with each one of those points in varying degrees.  I’ve seen the church struggle and fail and fall more times than I can count.  As a leader, I have undoubtedly been at the helm of some of those failures so I certainly can’t argue that the problems exist.  However, yesterday I read a blog by a respected leader who insisted that the church is built on such a faulty and crooked foundation that  nothing short of  dismantling it will suffice.  The exact wording was:  “Our foundation is broken.  The construction has to come down and be rebuilt from scratch.”

I chewed and chewed on this line.  I tried to swallow it, I really did.  I liked everything else the writer had to say, but this one landed like a rock in my gut and I just couldn’t make it my own.  Here’s why:

My great grandmother was an intercessor of great impact.  My life is proof of her commitment – her genuine commitment to Jesus and her authentic love for people.  It was the kind of love that got her out of bed while it was still dark to pray through their names and contend for the generations that would never see the light of day until she was firmly situated in the cloud of witnesses.

My grandfather was a man who demonstrated an almost palpable hunger to know God.  He was a lifelong seeker of truth and of the great gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Truly, he modeled the power of dissatification with spiritual status quo.  When other men his age were retiring to their barcoloungers, my grandparents moved to a tiny house in a tiny village in Mexico where they gave their lives to the people,  teaching them to seek and know the same God who had filled their hearts with a passion for dangerous living.

My mom and dad have loved God and served the church their whole lives. Though they also have earned the right to kick back and enjoy their retirement – they can be found nearly every day at their church, helping people find lasting freedom as they embrace the truth of the mercy of God.  My parents love Jesus and people and the church in a way that just humbles me.

These are the shoulders I stand on – and they’re just a few people from one family.  They are a few of the millions who       helped build – brick by brick – the church that stands today.  Was it all done right?  Nope.   But I believe that many of the fault lines in the foundation of the church  – from Acts until today – are there because those who built  could only see through a glass darkly.

And so do we.

My problem with the idea of dismantling is it presupposes that A)  Nothing exists inside the church as we know it worth salvaging and B)  Those who are smart enough to dismantle the faulty work are also qualified to do the rebuilding.

Bottom line, I think my generation has become arrogant in the way we answer the big questions.   The questions should be asked, yes, because we all agree that reformation is both necessary and possible.  But those inquiries must be made under the weight of the humility that our youth and inexperience demands.  We live in a country and an era where having answers sells books and grows churches and pays pretty well.  Great caution and restraint should be applied to our willingness to judge those who did their best to build a foundation that they hoped would hold the weight of our destiny.

We owe it to those who come after us to care deeply and respect greatly those who came before us.  We need to be – like Nehemiah – those who can use both the old and the new as we build the house of God.

Thankful to the God of Orva, Mel, Stan and Ellen,