the loose cannon

today there was a moment. it caught me by surprise.

i was laughing, most likely a little bit too loudly, in such a way and in such a place and at such a thing that it probably disturbed a few people around me. yes, others were laughing too ... but i was the disruption. and i caught a look ... you know, a look from someone. it read quite clearly, "annoyed."

the look was like a mirror to me. and i had the thought again. like so many other times, when i speak too quickly or assume too much or get preoccupied or distracted or just plain inconsiderate [in other words, self-centered], i saw in that mirror: there goes the loose cannon. the variable. the unstable element. the volatile one.

i really, really hate being the loose cannon. i'd much rather be dependable, respectful, the epitome of grace and propriety. i hate being a loose cannon.

but you know what is incredible?

God loves a loose cannon.

i mean, really? really, Lord? you have quite a knack for picking the rejects. you pick the loose cannons, and the failures. the cowards. the bumblers and the stutterers. the control freaks and the out-of-control tornadoes. you pick the crippled and the bruised, the tattered and torn, the bed-ridden and the blind, the deaf and the dumb. you pick the unpredictable one.

yes, God loves me, the loose cannon. and he picks me. because i've got nothing to boast about in myself. i'm the failure. the reject. the crippled, blind coward. so if i can bring Him glory, if i can bring the lost to Him ... it says nothing about me.

and it says everything about Him.

"i will rather boast, therefore, in my weaknesses ... so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."

if this is what You want to do, Lord, who am i to interfere?


new old hymns

i love hymns. for several reasons, i think. i first loved them because i have many sweet memories of singing hymns in church next to my dad, him taking the bass or tenor lines and myself the alto. as i've gotten older, i have learned to love the way hymns speak about God. i find them much more profound that most praise songs i hear on the radio.

one that i've been hearing a lot lately is "for the beauty of the earth" ... it's pretty good :D i first heard it at staff retreat, then i heard barlow girls' (i think it was them, anyway) christmas-ized version on the radio. so as i was driving home last night (and fighting to stay awake), i was compelled to re-vamp the good old hymn and write a few verses of my own :D

for Thy total sovereignty
over every fleeting life
for Thy loving plan we see
in the midst of sorrow'd strife
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise

for the straight and narrow way
lit by naught but Thine true Word
for the dark and cloudy day
when each faithful servant yearns
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise

when all doubts and darkness rise
when dull apathy invades
when we conquer satan's lies
claiming Jesus' empty grave
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise

should i lose both health and name
riches, kin, or closest friend
i will trust You e'er the same
praise You now, and when in Heav'n
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise


it's been a long december

and there's reason to believe
maybe this year will be better than the last.

so, has it been a hard year for anyone else? hah, don't answer that .... because i already know.

today, as i was getting frustrated with God (i might have been yelling at Him a little?), i was thinking back over some of the things that this year has taught me.

eternal perspective.
security in the nature of God alone.
selflessness (ok, actually, maybe just that i am selfish).

and in myself, i saw that talk is cheap, but how i spend my days is what actually reveals what i believe about the world and myself and God.

so now i'm thinking about how i've spent my days.

and what i really believe, apparently ...

... and i'm thinking that maybe my heart is a little crusty.

it's been a long december
but there's reason to believe
maybe this year will be better than the last.


grace ... like rain.

i've been thinking a lot about grace.

grace never gets old. i never stop needing grace. grace never stops loving me. it's always new. it's ever relevant. utterly relevant ... perhaps THE most relevant thing in life.

in the drought of my soul, grace tastes good like rain. like the purity of water to a parched throat. it's freeing. cleansing. amazing.

i wear grace like clothing. it covers me ... all my flaws and insecurities. it keeps me warm against the cold night of the soul and it breaks the winds of change so that i am not knocked over.

my next step is by grace.

my current place is by grace.

my [hi]story is all by grace.

grace ... the gift. freely given from God's hands.

and all is gift.

"the reformation was a time when men when blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellarful of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred-proof grace--bottle after bottle of pure distillate Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. the word of the gospel--after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps--suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started ... Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, nor the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case." --robert capon, as quoted by brennan manning in "the ragamuffin gospel"

yes, by the free-gift grace of God, i am what i am. one untimely born, not fit to be called an apostle, the last and least of all the apostles.

pass me that bottle. i'll drink it to the dregs.


the other side of the soapbox

so this is how it feels on the other side of the soapbox.

i thought it was my platform. and it was, once upon a time. not that i disagree with it now; quite the contrary, actually. i still see all the validity of every argument. it's just an incomplete picture. and maybe it was incomplete back then, too, when i would preach it with such vigor. i just couldn't see it ... until now.

this i know:

i need no help to not preach the gospel. if you look at my life as is, it would [in fact] appear that i am ashamed of the gospel. so rather than give myself [or you] more reasons to refrain from talking about who Jesus is, i would like to see more opportunities arise to let them all know just exactly who Jesus is.

the gospel is the greatest [THE greatest] expression of true Love. ever. period.

and Jesus is not an agenda. what He gives is the best thing i could ever offer anyone, so if i really love someone, it is not an "agenda" to want to tell them about Jesus.

so we sit and fight and claim that we don't agree with each other. the devil is having a picnic while we nit-pick and i'm just sick of it. we wonder ... should we love or preach? do we meet felt/relational needs or do we speak truth boldly?

why can't it just be all of the above? after all ... what is the gospel without a life of love [the kind that 's been changed by the gospel] behind it? and what is any beautiful expression of Christ's love if it's not attributed to Christ, if it doesn't bring the [real, lasting, eternal] healing that Christ brings?

love is the gospel. the gospel is love. you can't love without the gospel. you can't preach the gospel without love.

you can't love
without the gospel.

you can't love


the gospel.

i wonder, now ... does love win? plain old love?

or is it that Jesus wins? Jesus wins with love. Jesus is love, and He wins.

He wins people.
He wins the war.
He wins the glory.
He wins the Name which is above all names.
He wins my love.
He wins my soul.

He wins yours.

and HE wins that person that you're trying to love into repentance.

[maybe next time you should let them know why you're loving them at all.]

[[maybe the gospel actually is the power of salvation.]]

[[[maybe my mushy-gushy love that lets them wallow in sin, death, and lies is more damaging to them than the offense of the truth could ever be.]]]

"for we cannot keep quiet. we must speak about what we have seen and heard."
acts four:twenty


life 2.0

so i'm just chillin in my kitchen, listening to shane and shane [so good ... i can literally listen to them for hours. probably has something to do with the fact that upwards of 85% of their lyrics are quotes straight from the mouth of God, aka, the Bible.] elmar brought me this awesome tea from africa, because i was telling him about this ethiopian tea we used to get in milwaukee at lulu's cafe. best tea on the face of the earth. hands down ... if i could drink nothing else for the rest of my life, i would be more than satisfied with that tea. this stuff that elmar brought isn't quite the same, but i'll take it :D it's actually really good.

tomorrow i get to spend some quality time with the ever-lovely emily o, and i don't think i could be more happy about that :) i do love her, i haven't seen enough of her lately.

monday i start training as a barista at starbucks!!! i can hardly wait ... i love coffee. and starbucks. and the doors the Lord opened in His clearly omnipotent way, before i could even realize how providencial it was for me to work there.

today i had to come to terms [yet again] with my kitchen oddities. there are a few areas and situations that the nature of Christ is not as formed in me as He is in other areas and situations. two of these are [1] driving and [2] the kitchen. it probably sounds funny ... but it's really not when i sit back and examine myself, my heart, my motives, my grudges and complaints. like james says ... it's our selfish desires, our self-idolatry that causes division and strife. and paul says it too, that enmity and strife and dissention are all fruits of the carnal flesh.

well, like i said, i'm chronically human. especially when i'm driving. and espeically in my kitchen.

on september 11 in my utmost for His highest, i had to laugh out loud when i read,

"ministering in every day opportunities that surround us does not mean that we select our own surroundings--it means being God's very special choice to be available for use in any of the seemingly random surroundings which He has engineered for us. the very character we exhibit in our present surroundings is an indication of what we will be like in other surroundings. the things Jesus did were the most menial of everyday tasks, and this is an indication that it takes all of God's power in me to accomplish even the most common tasks His way. can i use a towel as He did? towles, dishes, sandals, and all the other ordinary things in our lives reveal what we are made of more quickly than anything else. it takes God Almighty Incarnate in us to do the most menial duty as it ought to be done."


that is what this season of my life has been about, more than anything else i think; the Lord is really teaching me how to live. not how to live out a specific calling or in a specific place or with a specific ministry or job or anything else .... but just how to live Christ. how to be Jesus with skin on, here, now, wherever He has placed me, with whomever He has put me. it's been hard for me, because [i'm not gonna lie] i'm a big-vision kinda girl. i like the huge plans and the special callings and the drastic life changes that come with following the Lord's lead. so right now, as He's leading me to where i've been for a while now, i'm a little bit like a pouty toddler.

but at the same time ...

it has been so sweet to trust Jesus with the dishes. just like i trusted Him with my major. or my summer jobs. or sharing the gospel for the first time with my dearest friend. or my post-grad plans. or the overhauls that happend in some of my relationships.

yesterday it was life plans. today it's the dishes. tomorrow ... it doesn't matter what or how big or small it will be. because either way i know i trust Him. and trusting Him is no small thing.

and that is nothing short of glorious.

thank You, Jesus.


the lines have fallen

last night i spent some time just reminiscing. i read through my old journal from the summer when i worked for youthworks ... incredible.

i don't know about you, but it's really easy for me to forget all the good things that God has done in my life, all the ways that He has lavished His love on me and all the times that He has shown His glory and goodness in my life. and while i don't think it's healthy to live in the past or wish more than anything that you could go back to a certain time (for God has called you with perfect faithfulness to His purposes in the here and now and in the future), it is no more healthy to be bitter about the past, to wish that it wasn't, to disregard it, or to forget about.

because it is TRUE that God is ALWAYS bearing good things in our lives.

that same summer (2005), i was reading the psalms, and sixteen caught my attention in particular. if you know me fairly well, you know that much of my formative years were characterized by what i now see as some of the greatest trials of my whole life. what i mean is that for a long time i was bitter and angry and hateful about my past and the life i had been 'subjected' to. and when the Lord revealed my own bitter, hardened heart to me, it was not a momentary conversion to a light, soft, loving heart again. it took a lot of time. and it was soon after the 'end' of that process that i read psalm sixteen:five and six.

the Lord is my portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You support my lot.
the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

my prayer that summer was that the Lord would mold me in such a way that i would be able to say this and mean this with my whole heart.

what i am seeing now, two years (and much drama in the Jesus + rachel story) later, is that the only way that i will be able to say this, and mean it wholly, is if i really, truly believe and trust GOD that His plans are for good, for glory, perfectly faithful, not to do damage even if they cause pain, but to bear the fruit of redemption and salvation in my life.

that doesn't mean it gets any easier to deal with the effect of 'my heritage' ... because i am human, i am ever in need of God's grace, and the perfection of His glory on earth has yet to be fully revealed; so basically, things still suck a little bit. but it's my perspective that makes all the difference ... which means that instead of praying for God to change the world, perhaps i should be praying more for Him to keep changing me.

and i should keep remembering my heritage and how He has given me beauty for ashes, a garland of praise for my sackcloth of mourning--not just in my outward circumstances, but in my very heart's conditon.

and what more reason do i need to worship Him with my whole life?


things that make my heart heavy

war and its atrocities. (my parents have been watching ken burns' documentary about world war II on pbs)

stillborn babies. (in keeping up with john piper's blog)

the baggage my family carries into every interaction. (i just want mom to be free)

it's so true, i see it everywhere i go:
the earth waits and groans.

and for that reason, nothing makes my heart heavier
than knowing that there are hundreds
billions of people in the world


without the good news of Jesus.
without the freedom of the presence of God with us.
without the assurance of salvation from this excruciating, futile, defeated life.

i would have despaired
unless i believed
that i would see the goodness of God
in the land of the living.

so on that glorious day
i will enter His presence giving thanks
i will approach His throne with praise

not that He gave me what i hoped for
but that He gave me all that i did not deserve ....
..... that He gave me more than what i would have dared to hope for.

because He is better than anything i could hope for or imagine.
and my heart will not be heavy forever.

[isaiah twenty-eight : twenty-three through twenty-nine]


we're all so formulated.

sometimes i try to pretend like i'm not formulated. i say that i don't have a clear-cut opinion about some political issue, or that i haven't fully decided which side i'm on in some theological debate. my friend asks me what i think about abortion, or gay marriage, or gays, or tells me about her current meandering life situation, and i like to say that i haven't got it all figured out yet ... and maybe i never will, this side of heaven.

but i wonder how true that really is. (i mean, come on ... i don't know what i think!?)

i'm starting to think that we are all a whole lot more formulated than we say we are. we masquerade our 'open-mindedness' as being 'currently without an agenda or opinion' (which, i'd like to note, is not exactly the definition of open-mindedness). no matter how much i insist that i haven't got it all nailed down, as soon as someone else opens their mouth to say what they have nailed down for themselves, i'm right there ready to shoot 'em down and show them why they're so wrong. which means ... da-da-daaa ... i have, apparently, formulated something.

so why are we so quick to hop on the bandwagon of open-minded de-formulization? do we want people to find us humble, as we see those know-it-alls who are so dang assertion-happy, so annoyingly arrogant, so confident in all that they have formulated? are we afraid to actually make it clear to someone else what we think at the present time because we think they might (gasp!) disagree?

i mean ... what is going to keep us silent? what is going to keep us from speaking the truth?

i pray that the only thing that ever keeps me silent when the (formulated) truth is being distorted is that i know that it would do harm to the hearer by coming in my voice.

and that is a formulation i'm ready to make.


my name + a new song

i thought it would be good to discuss the name of my blog a little bit. it is my hope that the title is pretty clear in meaning, but just in case it's not, and just because i can, i'd like to expound on it.

confessions of chronic humanity.

yes ... i am chronically human. irreversibly depraved. undeniably broken. i go through life just like pig-pen from charlie brown ... it's like there is a cloud of dirt around me wherever i go. i muck things up. i track mud all over the house. and i probably smell too.

but the beauty of all this is that if i were not chronically human, then i wouldn't be able to experience the grace of God. hence the sub-title, a quote from paul reflecting on his former life compared to that of the other apostles: "by the grace of God, i am what i am ... as one untimely born, last and least of all the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle..."

by the grace of God -- by the gift of God -- i am unfit. completely and totally unfit. chronically human, so as to reveal the mighty power of the saving grace of God.

sadly, it's something i need to be reminded of time and again. that i don't have it all together, and i probably never will. that i still need Jesus every moment of every day. that there's nothing i can add or subtract to the wisdom of God, that there's no plan i can make that is greater than His, that there is nothing in this world that i can seek other than Him that will satisfy. that He is the very best in my life. that apart from Him, i am nothing ... i am human. flesh and bone ... ashes and dirt.

so until that glorious day, when Jesus returns to wipe the tears from all of our faces, to redeem the world and its people from futility ... i must confess that i am chronically human.

... aaaand here's a song about all that :D [it will be posted up on purevolume sometime soon ... also on xanga.]

is there something i can do
are there words that i can say
that would uncover something new
that would discover another way?

cuz i keep running and running and running
i think i've been here three times
but i'm afraid that if i quit, the world will see
and wouldn't that be a crime ...

i've been planning this for so long
and i like the plans i've made
cuz the world has got my back
yeah, the world that's gonna fade ... away

cuz i keep running and running and running
from the shelter of Your hands
cuz if i listen to Your voice, i might obey
and then what of my plans?

how could i forget
that i need You
that i haven't arrived yet

how could i not know
that if i seek You
all the rest will follow

how could i have thought
that i knew best
in all that i sought

cuz You are the best
when all i see is my mess
You know the rest

and all the nations of the world
yeah, they seek so eagerly
but You promise me You know
my every single need

and i keep running and running and running
like i'm gonna die
cuz i can't see the end, and it scares me
that You're making me cry

how could i forget
that i need You
that i haven't arrived yet

how could i not know
that if i seek You
all the rest will follow

how could i have thought
that i knew best
in all that i sought

cuz You are the best
when all i see is my mess
You know the rest

maybe it's not about what i think
what i say, and who cares
maybe it's not about where i am
but how i got there

how could i forget
that i need You
that i haven't arrived yet

how could i not know
that if i seek You
all the rest will follow

how could i have thought
that i knew best
in all that i sought

cuz You are the best
when all i see is my mess
You know the rest




it's not something i've talked about in quite a while, and i think that says something. not that i'm no longer interested in race perceptions and relations, but that it's a topic that i used to constantly consider, and now it's become 'mundane' in the desensitization sense.

but today i was browsing my google reader [stinkin LOVE that thing!] and one of the blogs that i'm subscribed to posted a video about race in america in the new millenium, in order to kick-start a friday morning bible study on race and the Church (which, you better believe, i'll be going to). and i'm not going to lie ... it broke my heart.

it's the short version, less than 2 minutes. the long version is 7, and you can find it on youtube by searching "girl like me."

sometimes it's hard to believe how different someone's life is just because of the color of their skin. race is not something i am forced to consider or face everyday ... or even every week. people may judge me because of other outward things ... but rarely is it something so fundamental and unchangeable.

on youtube, some people were pointing out that the ways the questions were worded could be leading, or that we should be careful what conclusions we draw from this. is it really a self-esteem issue, or is it a reflection of what kids see in their classrooms? when the kid says the "nice" doll is the white one, and the "bad" doll is the black one, does that mean they are simply associating the dolls with people they know? and what would happen if the experiment were done on white kids? what would they pick?

but regardless of the wording or the "true" implications, there is something going on. there is something happening in our perception as a society of race. there is a trend in our society that links race and class, class and behavior, and therefore, race and behavior. and i haven't even yet mentioned value -- what is valued by our society, and how those things are linked (by trend, not rule) to different races, to certain races.

love your neighbor as yourself. value him, care for her, put their needs and concerns before your own. i mean, is it really that complicated?

this is not something i have to be concerned about. but it is something that that i should consider.

and so should you.


we could not ...

o Lord, You are my God;
i will exalt You, i will give thanks to Your name;
for You have worked wonders,
plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.

for You have made a city into a heap,
a fortified city into a ruin;
a palace of strangers is a city no more,
it will never be rebuilt.
therefore, a 'strong' people will glorify You;
cities of ruthless nations will revere You.

for You have been a defense for the helpless,
a defense for the needy in his distress,
a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat;
for the breath of the ruthless
is like a rain storm against a wall.
like heat in drought, You subdue the uproar of aliens;
like heat by the shadow of a cloud, the song of the ruthless is silenced.

the Lord of hots will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;
a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow,
and refined, aged wine.
and on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples,
even the veil which is stretched over all nations.
He will swallow up death for all time,
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
for the Lord has spoken.

and it will be said in that day,
"behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us,
this is the Lord for whom we have waited."

we could not accomplish deliverance for the earth ...

Lord, You will establish peace for us,
since You have also performed for us all our works.
o Lord, our God, other masters besides You have ruled us;
but through You alone we confess Your name.

twenty-five : one through nine
twenty-six : eighteen, twelve and thirteen

i have arrived ...

at blogger. i've actually been snooping around for the past two or three months ... but xanga is a hard habit to kill. i suppose my love for google (and universal comment-ability) won out for now. we'll see what happens.

stay tuned.