After nearly a week sorting through old photos, something unexpected happened.  As I pilfered through a stack of paper memories, a shy smile crept across my face.  Nostalgic and a little embarrassed, I remembered a high school crush with fondness.  Logan’s young face looked up at me and I remembered our many laughs, a bouquet of thoughtful flowers, and a few awkward moments (the latter a common thread woven throughout most of my high school experiences).

What was so unexpected was this: I discovered that still, to this day, I have a slight crush on this young man.  Ha!  My feelings now, of course, are those of mere attraction and memory but I found myself wondering, Why does he remain so attractive to me? We have grown quite distant over the years, it would be a stretch to say that we are still friends.  Sure, by cultural standards, he was and is good-looking but there are plenty of people pleasing to the eye.   The question lingers, what is so attractive about this one?

I thought about it much and came to a surprising revelation.  Bear with me.

Logan seemed to see me, or something in me, that people of his social status did not typically see.  Logan was mostly popular, handsome, from a well-to-do family, and had a personality that would bring a smile to the face of charmed teachers and young ladies alike.  I, on the other hand, was not completely outcast but certainly stood a fair distance from the in-crowd, my appearance was mostly plain, often a bit odd (just the way I liked it), and I came from a ‘broken’ home, poor by most American standards.  Yet… he wanted me, pursued me.  It wasn’t that no one ever had, but no one from his ‘class,’ so to speak, ever wanted me enough to pursue me, to want for my attention.

And, here, the revelation.

That, is like God.  Who am I that He should want me?!  Completely and most absolutely unworthy am I but still He pursues me.  I am in disbelief that He should desire me.  Perhaps that is why, no matter how distant I may grow from Him at times, I cannot help but admire and adore Him.  I cannot help but smile at the thought of His smile.  He wants me.  He pursues me.  He is jealous for me.  Me!

My attraction to Logan was an attraction to his unmerited pursuit of me.  I now know, of course, that I am worthy of the affection of an upstanding hottie such as he.  I also know, however, that I will never be worthy of pursuit by the Creator of the Universe and that He, unchanging and ever-loving, will want for me until my last breath.

What more can I say?

Grace and peace to you from God the Father.  May you always be reminded of His pursuit of you and may His desire for you always bring a smile to your face.


Pity & Frustration

While I really love Eugene Cho’s blog about Pat Robertson’s thoughts on Haiti, I have a few remarks of my own to share.

“It never ceases to amaze that in times of amazing human suffering somebody says something that could be so utterly stupid, but it like clockwork happens with some regularity.” — Robert Gibbs

It is difficult for me to believe that Pat Robertson and I serve the same Jesus.  But, we do.  And ya know, I say stupid and insensitive things sometimes too.  In fact, the taste of foot still lingers in my mouth from my most recent ridiculousness.  However, the consequences of Mr. Robertson’s remarks are much greater than mine (hello James 3:1).

Those things which Robertson has rightly taught from the Bible have influenced people for good, and that should be acknowledged.  Yet, his comments about Haiti were both odd and insensitive and their influence far-reaching.  Not only are his faithful followers more apt to wrongly judge Haitians, he also added to the the resistance of many to Christianity.  Thankfully, some recognize that his words were not representative of our faith.  In Keith Olbermann’s response to Mr. Robinson he said, “It is laughable now to call him ‘Reverend.'”

There’s a part of me that feels badly for Robinson.  His ignorance is not entirely his fault and his intentions were likely good.  (No sarcasm intended.)  There’s also a part of me that wonders how much revenue he will generate from what I view as a thoughtless and even (subconsciously) bigoted rambling.  All press is good press, right?  I also wonder whether he still feels justified in what he said or if he recognizes his ill impact and holds any remorse for what he has done.  (His website, for the record, doesn’t exactly imply the latter but, rather, seems more to justify/defend.)

I feel like Olbermann shared my pity and frustration when he addressed Robertson and Limbaugh:
Mr. Robertson, Mr. Limbaugh: your lives are not worth those of the lowest, meanest, poorest of those victims still lying under that rubble in Haiti tonight.  You serve no good, you serve no god.  You inspire only stupidity and hatred.  And I would wish you to hell but knowing how empty your souls must be for you to be able to say such things in a time of such pain, I suspect the vacant, purposeless lives you both live now are hell enough already.
I don’t agree with what Olbermann said but I certainly share the emotions behind his words.

Yet, with all this mixed emotion, I can do one thing.  Pray.  (That, and forgive.  Okay, fine.)
Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ – to Mr. Robertson who, like me, sometimes unknowingly wreaks havoc with his words; to the beautiful people of Haiti who have suffered so much loss in the last five days that only Father God could truly understand; and to all those who have and continue to support and love Haiti – may they be successful in meeting their physical, emotional, and eternal needs.

Update: Here’s a statement from Dr. Myles Munroe, a Christian speaker and author in the Caribbean.

Why would anyone name a restaurant after a girl?  I don’t understand.  And I don’t like it.  My friends wanted to take me to Audrey Claire’s for my birthday once and I insisted that we did not go anywhere that was named after a dumb girl!

Okay, so I’m a girl.  And there’s even a DUMB restaurant here in Seattle that has my name.  Will I go there?!  Certainly NOT!  I mean, seriously??  There is just something wrong with giving a restaurant a girl’s name.  Jack’s?  Sure.  Luke’s?  Great.  Pete’s?  Joe’s?  Pat’s?  Geno’s?  Good, good, good.  (And then bad but only because Geno’s are a bunch of haters.)

Anyway, back to my original statement.  Restaurant’s with girl’s names.  Weird.  Dumb.  Lame.  Ugh.  That’s what I say.

When questioned by my dear friend Melanie about this she said, “Well what about Wendy’s?”  Wendy’s?? It is so not my fault that I eat at Wendy’s from time to time.  It is a stupid name but I was cultured to go there.   I had no choice.  “Sheri’s?” she inquired.  Same thing.  So not my fault.  I mean, sure, I went there without a fight but really it wasn’t a CHOICE that I made knowingly.  I was just going where it seemed that I should go–without even realizing that I was patronizing a restaurant whose founder was clearly an idiot!  I mean come ooonnn.

And that, my friends, is all I have to say about that.

Grace and peace from God, our Father, to you and to me, too.

The last five months have been full or surprises and changes for me.  After two months in Washington, DC, I moved back to Washington State.  (A long story which involves a lot of children who I will never forget, incredibly poor administration who I hate to remember, and a great city attached to fond memories.  Two glimpses of said story can be seen in I’ma Steal You and Enough, I Think….)  A few weeks after moving, I found a teaching job and I have been teaching fourth grade at a growing school in Renton.  I quickly bought a car (which has been a growing pain), found a housemate (who happened to room with one of my former roommates), moved into an apartment in Bellevue (which is one of the last places I want to live), and hit the ground running.  Again.  Crazy, but I suppose I’d rather be running than sitting still.

This season has indeed been trying, exhausting, at times frustrating, and very, very humbling.  Admittedly, I have been anxious for the next season to start.  I have to remember, though, that seasons do not change overnight.  Like winter giving way to spring – snow and ice melt slowly, the banks of nearby rivers are overtaken by its bitter-cold water, hesitant buds begin to push through the frigid ground.  It doesn’t really even feel like a new season until, sure enough, those buds burst into fragrant blossoms.  So it will happen for me….

Grace and peace to you.

I write exhausted, unsure, and struggling with fearing God… because I know that I have been spending a lot of time fearing man.  And so I share with you the things that I am trying to meditate on:

Let the weak say, “I am strong.” / Let the poor say, “I am rich.” / Let the  blind say, “I can see.” / It’s what the Lord has done in me.   Hillsong

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!  Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!  There is no want to those who fear Him.  The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.  Psalm 34:8-10

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Proverbs 1:7

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.  Proverbs 29:25

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Luke 12:32

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  2 Timothy 1:6-7

And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will show you whom you should fear: fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!  Luke 12:4-5

Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified.  And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.  Acts 9:31

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.  For God brings every work into judgement, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.  Ecclesiastes 12: 13-12

On a recent snow day I sat in my favorite coffee shop grading an overwhelming stack of papers.  The lovely barista, a bit of an edge to her style, is probably about my age and apparently has recently become homeless.  She broke up with her boyfriend with whom she had previously lived.  I learned this while not-so-accidentally eavesdropping on a conversation she had with one of her customers.  (Whoops!)

After a while, another gentleman came in.  He must have been a regular, they seemed familiar.  As the man described to her a job he recently applied to he explained that the starting salary was mediocre at best but that the benefits may make up for the pay.  That’s when he said something that made me stop and think.  “I’m praying on that one,” he stated matter-of-factly, “I don’t pray so much but I have been lately.”

And isn’t that true of this economic crisis?  People are praying.  People who are not normally given to prayer are finding themselves crying out to a God who they may or may not believe will answer them but hoping that some way some how, he will do just that.

During small group discussion last night we unintentionally revolved a good deal of talk around the idea that it is in our brokenness that we find ourselves turning to God for our identity.  People whose identity is normally found in a job title are finding that without it they have little left of themselves.  And they’re praying.

So I’m praying too.  That the loving God, Jesus Christ, would reach out his loving arms and give an identity to these title-less souls.  That his unmerited favor and peace beyond understanding would guard and guide the hearts and minds of those who cry out, broken.  And that the rebound of this nation would be not only economic, but spiritual, bearing fruit that remains.


Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

A few thoughts about God’s heart for issues of social justice.

Quite simply: God cares about social justice.  Not because it’s where the best of celebs are pouring their money these days, not because the American church is finally catching on.  God cares because every good thing comes from Him; He cares because it’s His nature; He cares because He loves people and hates to see them hurt.
Check out some of God’s thoughts on justice: Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, encourage the oppressed; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.  (Isaiah 1:17  Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.  (James 1:27)

So which issues does God care about?  Which issues of ‘justice’ are we talking about here?  Because the idea of social justice is centered around human rights, one must first decide what he believes about basic human rights.  For instance, is it a basic human right for all to be fed and clothed?  What about medical care?  Is education a basic human right?  Or adequate employment?

The first few should be obvious.  Look at the words of Jesus in Matthew: I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

I think that most Christians agree that God cares about the hungry, the orphaned, the sick.  A question about the sick–was Christ only referring to the sick in the church?  Those with faith to be healed?  I would argue that this is not so but I’ll save that for another discussion.

So what about other issues?  Could the Maker of the universe really be concerned about Umbaya’s ability to get a job that pays fair wages?  Well, to the man tempted to virtually enslave dear Umbaya, God says: Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is a brother Israelite or an alien living in one of your towns.  Pay him his wages each day before sunset, because he is poor and is counting on it.  Otherwise he may cry to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin.  (Deuteronomy 24:14-15)

Rick Ufford-Chase, the international director of BorderLinks and moderator of the Presbyterian Church USA said: “[Social justice] brings together people of many different faith traditions, human rights and environmental activists, labor organizers, young people who want to make the world a better place, and on and on. When I speak of working for social justice, I begin with the teachings of Jesus, and his commitment to basic fairness and a life of dignity for the poorest of the poor.”

The poorest of the poor do not just need money.  There are so many things that can cause poverty, so many things to which poverty can lead.  I would adamantly argue that based on the life and teaching of Jesus, the roots and leaves of poverty are things for which Jesus would care deeply.