Monday, April 23, 2007


This weekend was a great weekend. Mike & I went to Abingdon VA and rode our mountain bikes 34 miles on the Creeper Trail. The entire trip was fun. One of the best parts of the trip was something small that happened while waiting to watch a movie. Mike asked if I wanted to play air hockey. I said yes. Mike was literally shocked when I beat him. Mike was so surprised because I have no athletic ability, I stink at video games, etc. He had no idea that when I went to church camp, I LOVED air hockey and played it a lot. I loved the moment, not only because I am very competitive, but also because after nine years of marriage, we are still learning about one another. It was exciting to think that there are parts of my personality and my past that are still left to be discovered.

I think that often times, we assume that we know all there is to know about another person, about God, about the Bible, etc. Because we reach that “comfortable” place, we stop investing the time, energy and effort into asking questions and seeking to learn more about others and God. The beauty of this past weekend was that after 9 years of marriage, Mike and I were both dedicated to spending time continuing to get to know one another. We were both pleasantly surprised to learn new things about one another.

I often fail to read some of the old stories in the Bible over and over again because I know them so well. For example, I could easily recite the stories of Noah and the Ark, of Adam & Eve, of David & Goliath. However, if we simply assume that we know the stories by heart and there is nothing more to be learned, we will miss out on some tremendous revelations and blessings. I think that the scripture and God can be like an onion. When we read a story or pray the first time, we peel back a layer of the onion. As we smell and hold the onion, we think that we know all there is to know about the onion. However, if we continue to invest the time and energy in looking at the onion, we will discover that the onion has many layers. As we peel back the layers, we see more and more of the onion. The onion is still an onion, but we discover layers upon layers. The same can be said for our relationship with God and the scripture. Even if you have read the Bible cover to cover, you have still only peeled back a layer of the onion. As we live life and have new experiences, different aspects of the scripture will speak to us – in essence – we will be peeling back another layer of the onion.

Are you satisfied with simply observing the outer skin of the onion, or are you willing to invest the time and energy to peel back the layers?

Monday, April 16, 2007


This week has been a tough week. First, our book club recently discussed A Child Called It. The book is the true story of a man who was the victim of one of the worst child abuse situations documented in California. The book is very difficult to read, especially because the child was mistreated and reduced to a meaningless existence by the person that should love him and protect him – his mother.

This week was also difficult because of the heartache that I have witnessed in many friends that I hold near and dear to my heart. Lately, some of my friends, who are beautiful, lovable and wonderful women, have been mistreated. These incredibly strong and special women have been torn down and treated as if they are unlovable. To make matters worse, these women have been treated this way by family and friends that should love them unconditionally.

Today I also heard about the tragedy at Virginia Tech. My heart weeps for the parents that lost children, for the friends that lost classmates, for the professors who lost students.

When I hear about the terrible pain and heartache in the world, my heart aches. I so desperately want to change things. I want to step into the situation and “fix” the problem. At times I cry out to God: Why is there so much suffering? Why do the people who should love us the most (our spouse, parents, siblings) sometimes abuse us and hate us? Why does my heart ache, yet I feel completely powerless to make things better? Why do innocent people have to suffer? Why are some people born into poverty and despair that I cannot comprehend?

I wish that I could tell you now that I have the answer to these questions. Although I do not have the answer, I do know one thing without a doubt. While I cannot “fix” the world’s problems, I can be a shoulder to cry on for a friend in need. Although I cannot rescue every abused child, I can show love to my children and to the children that I encounter in my daily life. Although I cannot change the tragedy at Virginia Tech, I can lift up the heartache of those involved to God in prayer. Even though I cannot prevent others from being born into poverty and sadness, I can help a few families repair a home on a mission trip. Although I may feel powerless, God gives me the power to love others and to let them know that they are loved.

It is often said that we, as Christians, may be the only Jesus that the world ever sees. During this time of heartache and pain, I believe this with all of my heart. I know that I cannot bring back the victims of the shooting, and I know that I cannot take away the pain of my friends who are suffering. However, I can love them with the love of Christ. I can let them know that they are beautiful, and that they are loved.

In Ephesians 3:17-19, Paul writes of Christ’s love:

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

It is our duty to love others, so that they too may experience this unexplainable love through our actions. Like Paul, I too will pray that the hurting of the world may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and I will pray that they may each experience this love that surpasses understanding. I will strive, through my actions, to show them the love of Christ.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dance Until It Rains

Lately I have struggled with the nature of prayer. I have asked myself some very difficult questions. For example: (1) Does God still miraculously heal people of illnesses today, or does he use modern science to heal others? (2) Are our prayers not answered because we fail to have enough faith? (3) When we say that prayers are not answered because “it was not God’s will” or “it was not God’s timing”, does that mean that prayer is futile because we will never be able to change God’s will? These questions are just a sample of the many questions that I have pondered. I often feel like Curious George – I have so many questions – and my attempts to find the answers often lead me to mischief and/or despair.

I have a dear friend and mentor that is helping me with some of these difficult questions. My mentor is an Episcopal campus minister. The thing that I love most about him is that he always accepts me just as I am. He loves me for who I am, not who he wants me to be. He often listens to my questions, without trying to change me or judge me. When I brought some of these questions to him, he stated the importance of going on the journey that I am taking. He could not emphasize enough that asking these questions is a part of the journey that will ultimately lead me to a deeper and more fulfilling relationship with the Creator of the Universe. However, he also emphasized that I will have to come to terms with the fact that I will never have all the answers, and if I attempt to find all of the answers, I will be doomed to a life of frustration.

His advice has helped me tremendously. Too often I ask the questions because I want a definite answer. I believe that finding the right answer is the ultimate goal and end to my journey. My mentor has shown me that the questions, not the answers that I so desire, may be the end result. Perhaps the power of the Holy Spirit and our relationship with Christ grow through asking the questions, not finding the right answer. Perhaps life is ultimately about the quest for knowledge instead of the actual possession of knowledge.

My mentor left me with one other thought to ponder. He told me the story of his conversation with a member of an Indian tribe regarding the Rain Dance. My mentor asked the tribe member the success rate of the rain dance. The tribe member responded that the Rain Dance was 100 percent effective. My mentor was astounded and questioned him – did he truly mean that 100 percent of the time it rained? The tribe member responded, “We don’t stop dancing until it rains.”

Perhaps prayer is not about always getting the answer to our prayers that we desire. Prayer is also not about getting the answers to all of life’s mysteries. Instead, prayer is about being connected to God and to the world around us. Through prayer, we learn to experience God on a more intimate level that cannot be obtained through logic and reason.

I hope that we will also refuse to stop dancing until it rains …..

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Changing Others

Today the sermon was about the power of Palm Sunday. In the message, Mike emphasized that because of Christ, we do not have to live in defeat (1John 5:4), discord (Phil 4:7) or despair (1 Peter 1:3). One statement in the sermon really struck me – Mike stated that the choice to live in victory (instead of defeat), in peace (instead of discord), and in hope (instead of despair) is ours. God will not force us to accept these gifts.

This struck me because I struggle constantly with my desire to change others. I know that sounds terrible, but it is true. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I am compassionate and love people. They will also tell you that I am fiercely loyal to my friends and family. In fact, I love my family and close friends so much that I often take on their burdens and try to convince them of the many ways that they need to change their lives in order to be happier and more fulfilled. For years, I have convinced myself that this is not a problem because I have pure motivations – I want my family and friends to have joy, to be happy, to have peace, to have a life of fullness and passion. I hate to see people that I love suffer and in despair. Thus, I often try to take control of the situation and convince the people in my life that if they will only do ______ (you fill in the blank) their life will be better.

As I sat in the sermon today, the power of Mike’s statement hit home. God is all knowing, the creator of the universe, yet he does not force us to do anything. As our creator, of course God loves us with a complete and unconditional love, yet he allows us to make poor decisions and sometimes to even live in despair. I am not omnipotent, yet I constantly try to control my destiny as well as the destiny of those around me.

Perhaps even more powerful, however, is the fact that God does not force happiness, joy, victory or peace upon us because God exhibits something that I cannot begin to comprehend – unconditional love. As I sat in the service, I realized that if I am constantly trying to change those around me, I am not loving them as they are and where they are. Instead, I am trying to mold them into what I want them to be. I was humbled to realize that once again, my pride had deceived me. I had convinced myself that by wanting the best for others, I was justified in trying to change them. Instead, I am failing miserably at one of the most important tenants of Christianity – to love others unconditionally, as they are. Christ didn’t try to change those that encountered him – instead he simply loved others and allowed the experience of unconditional love to radically and forever change their lives.

The challenge this week is to think about whether you are truly loving people how they are and where they are. I am slowly and painfully learning that I cannot change others, and I cannot control their happiness. If I want others to have victory, peace, hope, joy, and happiness, the only sure way to help them is by loving them the way they are, not the way that I wish them to be.