I Married a Lumberjack

22 11 2009

In case you haven’t heard, Jordan and I are both in a bit of a limbo about our futures/careers/life plans.  Some would call it a quarter-life crisis, and we have alternated between being stressed and excited about the opportunity to have no obligations and figure things out.  Tonight, on our way back from the a capella concert that we attended with Jana and Rob (super-fun, by the way!), we started talking about the different things that make us tick.  By the time we got home, we both decided to find an online career inventory.

It actually took us a couple of different tries before we found a test that actually gave your results to you for free, without having to sign away your soul.  But we finally found this four-stage test that presents you with ten career choices that best fit your responses.  My test was fairly accurate, or at least, it confirmed that I’m headed in the right general direction: family counselor,  musician, lawyer, etc.  Jordan’s test, on the other hand, cracked us both up.  Here were his responses:

Hunters and Trappers
Logging Equipment Operators
Earth Drillers, Except Oil and Gas
Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop
Roof Bolters, Mining
Lathe and Turning Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic
Tire Builders
Rock Splitters, Quarry
Molding and Casting Workers

Which career do you think would fit him best??

This is the Song that Doesn’t End…

3 11 2009

Jordan and I attended a mini-lecture tonight at Emory University given by Ed Phillips, associate professor of worship and liturgical theology at Candler School of Theology.  He focused on a familiar passage from the United Methodist Communion Prayer:

“And so, with  your people on earth and all the company of heaven we praise your name and join their unending hymnHolyholyholy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory…”

This “unending hymn” is described in the book of Isaiah and then again in the Revelation of John.  Apparently all the company of heaven is continuously singing of the holiness of the Lord God.  And when we sing that familiar hymn, we  are literally singing along with them.  This liturgy in particular, and corporate worship in general, connects us with something deep and wonderful: with our brothers and sisters from all Christian denominations around the globe; with the history of the church and the most ancient written liturgies; with the original writers of the Bible, through their visions; with the saints and angels in heaven; and with God Himself.

Dr. Phillips’ talk really brought us into a new understanding of corporate worship; not as something we create, or do; but as something that we join.  We add our voices into the history and tradition of the church universal, lifting our songs to heaven.  In that sense, worship can never truly be an individual thing.

For us as musicians, this is an important and humbling concept: one that reaches into the heart and true purpose of worship.  We talk a lot about how church services should not be a performance, but in striving for excellence in artistry and musicianship, it is sometimes difficult to draw the line between worship and performance.  But this idea of “joining in the unending hymn” means that you have to acknowledge that the church is bigger than your church walls, and that your particular service is only one small piece of the bigger song, which will continue forever, with or without you.  Then you start to realize that this God thing is bigger than you could ever imagine and you definitely want to be a part of it, giving your all to the God of power and might, who was and is and is to come.

The Everything Post

1 11 2009

Hmmm … I feel the need to update you….So here is the super-massive miscellaneous post about all (some?) of the things that have captured my attention in the past few weeks:


Collision: a documentary about a series of debates between outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens and evangelical theologian Douglas Wilson.  The principal question: “Is Christianity Good for the World?”  I listened to an NPR interview with Hitchens and Wilson and was thoroughly impressed by even that short segment.

Fatenah: the first-ever Palestinian animated film, based on a true story, about a woman in the Gaza Strip who is diagnosed with breast cancer.  The filmmakers said they chose the animated format in part because it would allow them to deal openly with subjects that are usually seen as taboo.  As far as I can tell, it has not been released in the United States yet, but I hope that it will be soon.


Bird By Bird:  This was one of those books that I devoured, and immediately wanted to reread.  Anne Lamott is wonderful, hilarious, and inspirational, and as she takes you through “everything [she knows] about writing,” you really feel as though you are a writer.  You start noticing people, writing down ideas, and most importantly, believing in yourself.  It was the perfect read in preparation for NaNoWriMo.

Infidel: I’m afraid I talked my sister’s ear off yesterday as I tried to describe Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s bestselling memoir to her.  The book was gripping, telling Hirsi Ali’s story through the span of several decades and five countries.  It was also challenging, leaving me with a lot of issues and ideas to wrestle with.

Everyday Justice: Julie Clawson’s newest book was just released, and I am hoping to get my hands on a copy soon.  I’ve enjoyed reading her blog, onehandclapping, for the past year or so, and I love her perspective on these important issues of “everyday justice” for Christians.

Mosaic Bible: More than just a book, this newest release of the New Living Translation comes with devotions, poems, quotes, artwork, language studies, journaling space, and online resources.  Scot McKnight’s review includes a great reflection on the meaning of the mosaic form within the Christian church community.


Art House: A Nashville-based ministry of the dynamic husband-and-wife team, musician Charlie Peacock and writer Andi Ashworth.  Ashworth describes the work as a mix of “hospitality, art, and Christian studies;” they host artists and musicians from around the country for retreats and workshops to help nurture them in their faith and artistic development.

Gift Card Giver: Gift cards are a multi-million dollar industry in the United States.  And apparently, 10% of all gift cards go unused every year.  So why not put those unused dollars to good  use?  The brainchild of Jeff Shinabarger, Gift Card Giver allows you to send in your unused gift cards (they’ll take cards with as little as 1 penny on them) and donates them to charity!


Eyeball Taco Salad: Pictures forthcoming.  Don’t worry, we didn’t put real eyeballs in there.  Jana and I did some amazing work in the kitchen yesterday, and it was quite delicious, if I do say so myself.  (plus, lots of fun!)

Candy Corn Cake: Not for the trick-or-treaters!! 🙂  And this cake, incidentally, did not have actual candy corn in it, either.  We made it extra gourmet by decorating the dessert plates, as well.

Halloween Candy: It’s officially November, and it’s on sale!  I’m rewarding myself with a piece of candy for every day that I meet my word-count goal.


Getting into the Praise Habit

1 11 2009

I love the book of Leviticus!

Sometimes when I tell people this, they sort of smile and nod, and back away slowly.

I get it.  Leviticus isn’t necessarily the most “fun” book to read, or the most approachable.  It’s filled with laws, instructions for sacrifices, prescriptions for punishment, cleanliness standards.  (and a few great one-liners).  It gets up close and personal (and just plain gross) with details about bodily discharges, scabby sores, and mildew.  It’s easy to write off the entire book as archaic, or worse, irrelevant.

I love it anyway.

In the beginning of the book, God devotes a whole seven chapters to the Israelite’s system of sacrifice.  In true Levitical form, He goes into great detail: what kind of animals to sacrifice, how to choose the animals for sacrifice, what parts to sacrifice, what parts to give to the priest.  Apparently, this is important stuff.  And if God thinks it’s important, then we certainly should be paying attention.

But later in the Bible, God starts telling his people, “I hate your sacrifices and burnt offerings.”

That’s not so shocking to us today.  After all, we don’t go around sacrificing goats and bulls; yet we manage to worship God just fine.  It seems self-evident that God doesn’t need burnt offerings.

In the Israelite culture, however, these sort of statements were a big deal.  It would be like God coming down and saying, “I really hate the music that you play in church on Sunday morning.”

Our first reaction might be defensive — “What’s wrong with the music?  Our musicians are really talented, and they practice for the service to make sure they get all of the notes right.”

But in Psalm 50, God makes clear that they weren’t doing anything wrong:

This is God, your God,
speaking to you.
I don’t find fault with your acts of worship,
the frequent burnt sacrifices you offer.

But why should I want your blue-ribbon bull,
or more and more goats from your herds?
Every creature in the forest is mine,
the wild animals on all the mountains.
I know every mountain bird by name;
the scampering field mice are my friends.
If I get hungry, do you think I’d tell you?
All creation and its bounty are mine.
Do you think I feast on venison?
or drink draughts of goats’ blood?
Spread for me a banquet of praise,
serve High God a feast of kept promises,
And call for help when you’re in trouble—
I’ll help you, and you’ll honor me.”

David Crowder reflects on the psalm as follows:
“I would be so bold as to say eating barbecue and wearing the sauce on your fingers and face and a grin as big as Texas with the knowledge that Caps Lock GOD is at the center of this can be truer praise than belting this ‘song ritual’ that we have elevated to dangerous heights…We, like, the Israelites, often find rescue in the burnt offering and not in the GOD who is the source of all.  We find comfort in the song and not in the Comforter.  It is a subtle but necessary shift.  It is more difficult to find the Creator in a barbecue sandwich than in your favorite Sunday-morning song, but when you do, when you begin to find Him in all the stuff of life, everything starts singing.  Every moment breaks into song.  Every breath becomes sacrifice, and the songs become sweetness.  This is living praise.”

(Praise Habit, page 82)

Day 1!

1 11 2009

Okay, we’re one day into NaNoWriMo, and I’m on track so far!  2,082 words down; 47,918 to go!  The first 1,000 words came pretty slowly, but I think it’s always hard to start something new.  Hopefully the next several thousand will fly by.  (I have a renewed admiration for the hard-core NaNo-ers who have set personal goals of 75,000; 100,000; or even 1,000,000 words.  I think that 50,000 will be plenty for me!)

If you want to track my progress through the month, you can do so at this link:


As long as my yellow bar is higher than the black bar, then I am succeeding at meeting my daily word count.  If you ever see it dip below there, then feel free to harass me into writing some more 🙂