Friday, June 4, 2010

Moving On

This was my college blog site. But I've moved on from college.

I'm not done blogging though. As absurd as it sometimes feels, I enjoy writing to no one and everyone at the same time. So please move to WordPress with me:

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Letter to One Who Doesn't Read This Blog

Dear Izaak Walton,

You are the best part of being home. Besides my family, you make this little dinky suburban town my own place. I can come home to you. You are a part of so much of my life history. You’ve been there for the childhood memories of bike rides through the rain and painful scrapes and attempts to catch frogs and crossing iced-over lakes. In every season of life and growth, you’ve been so present. Always available, always receiving me as I am, always offering yourself.

I’ve retreated to you in my weakest moments and you’ve shown me God’s grace and beauty. Somehow, even though I’ve known you for a decade or more, you still surprise me in the ways you pour into my life. With you, I can be alone. I can just be, in the miracle of shared solitude. No need to talk. No expectations, no requirements. Just you and me.

You glorify the Creator of the universe every single day just by letting others behold His handiwork. And in everything, in every moment, you turn my thoughts to God.

And if I wasn't just ascribing anthropomorphic qualities to a forest preserve, I would probably send this to you in real life. :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Someone bought me coffee today. She was a beautiful black woman with long braids and a bright smile on her face. I don’t know where she came from or where she was headed. The only words she spoke to me were, “I think I’m supposed to buy your drink today,” and “God bless you.” I was struck by her kindness and generosity, to the point of wanting to be like her myself.

I don’t know why she felt compelled to buy my drink. I was counting up the handful of change I had in my pocket, so maybe I looked a little desperate standing there in front of the cashier. But whatever her reasoning, she did something astounding for me.

She said, “I think I’m supposed to.” That means she was responding to something bigger than herself. I suppose that something bigger than herself knew my heart as I walked into Starbucks. Lately I have been thinking about the person I want to be. I sometimes fear that I’m obsessed with self-improvement and for all the wrong reasons. And I walked into that coffee shop with two books and a piece of paper in hand, pen in my mouth, planning to write down the character and qualities that I want to be focusing on in my life.

But she turned my thinking around. Just after she left and I sat down with my iced chai latte, I wrote down a list of ten things I want to do in the next week. Included on it were, “do something random and spontaneous to bless each of my sisters,” “buy someone else’s drink at Starbucks,” etc.

And as I was making this list, I realized that the woman who came in and bought my drink was probably not trying to check something off a list. I remembered that the person I want to be is the person who imitates Christ, not in actions but in essence. We have not been given a list of dos and don’ts. Our God-man Savior obliterated the legalism that gave rise to hypocrisy. He wants my heart, not just my deeds.

So number ten on my list became numbers one through ten. It takes care of the others. It is this: Decide who you want to be. Every single day. And who I want to be is a manalive, a woman who commits herself every single day to her Savior, a person who allows Christ to cultivate within her a nature that needs no reminder to be a blessing, that needs no lists, no to-dos.

This is who I am: I’ve been born again. The Cross is my defense and my hope, and I'm finding who I am in all that my Savior is.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dandelion Wishes

My life has been full of dandelion puff-balls lately. I've always been particularly fond of these, though they mean rather unkempt-looking lawns and more trouble than most gardeners desire. And yet, I can't help but love them, trouble though they are. For all their weediness, I've always found them beautiful and inviting.

For one thing, there's something about how tangible and physical they are. They beg to be picked and no one will object because, of course, they're weeds. And so, I pick them. All the time. For the last two weeks I was at school, there were hundreds of dandelion puff balls absolutely everywhere, and especially near the prayer chapel (which is incidentally, one of my favorite place on campus). So every time I walked past that part of campus, I picked myself a puff ball. I felt it in my hands, cupping my fingers around the delicate seeds that sometimes look like sunbursts. I kept it intact as long as possible, protecting it from the wind lest it disappear even as I carried it. I touched my face with it, feeling its softness and itchiness at the same time.

I used to be very silly about dandelion puff-balls. I used to look for only the biggest, roundest, most perfect ones with the long, thick stems that were durable and sturdy. I think I used to like those because their delicate perfection appealed to me. When you wish on the perfect ones, it feels more likely that your wish will come true. But lately, I've liked the small ones, the imperfect ones with a few seeds already missing. And for the same reasons--it seems like they're saying, "I can't promise much. Your wish may not come true. But you can try and wish on me anyway." (My friend Libby says that for all my rationality, I'm utterly romantic. I guess I'm okay with that.)

So my life has been full of imperfect, "no promises, but you can wish on me anyway" dandelions. I've had a lot of wishes that just don't come true like I hope...

BUT--I think the thing I like most about dandelion puff-balls is that they were created. designed. by the same God who created and designed me. He knows the wishes that I blow to disperse the dandelion seeds. He knows that my heart can sometimes be as delicate as the round white balls of dandelion beauty. And when I remember all of this, I am put at peace to see the dandelion seeds fly every which way by the wind. Whether wishes or prayers, my God knows them all.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Notes to Self

1. You get better service at Payne's when you wear a dress.

2. Professors aren't half as much fun as their kids.

3. Be concise.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Someday, if I ever have a house of my own, I will have a porch. And on that porch will hang a swing. And from that porch swing, I will watch rainstorms.

Rule #1 in Elena's household: rainstorms must be watched from porch swings.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


When God does this, it's astounding.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Just Be

Hold your breath.

Wait for a single moment…that’s life flowing along, brushing against your cheek like a breeze. Don’t rush. You don’t have to catch up with it. Sweet mercy, it’s certainly not something to be contained and held back. The more you chase it, the faster it will flee from you.

No. Rather, stop. Close your eyes. Walk a tiny bit slower and look around you. Crane your neck to look at the clouds so far above your head. Bend down and touch the dandelion before the wind breaks it apart. They say the lake water is dirty, but I’ve seen it sparkle in the sunrise. Put it all together and savor this.

Have you ever left the party early so you could walk the long route home? All alone, by yourself, letting the silence speak to you. Maybe you won’t see anything new, but maybe you’ll see it in a new way. Better yet, maybe its familiarity will be like a still, small voice whispering words of peace to your heart.

Elijah expected God’s voice to come from thunderstorms or hurricanes. But when I read of how the Creator of raging winds and lightning bolts actually spoke to the prophet in exile, I am almost certain that Elijah had to stop breathing for a moment in order to hear what the Lord God Almighty had to say.

I love that our Savior was a man who sought solitude. And I feel closer to Him when I’m sitting alone on a porch swing in the dark and the silence and the solitude. Or when I lie down on the dock and look up at the stars. Sometimes I can’t help but break the silence just to say to the rest of creation, “my God…my God created this.”

Life is not “what you make of it.” The best things in life won’t come from chasing, chasing, chasing. Rather, they are the things that you stumble upon, the things that come so unexpectedly. The things that are given, not won, are the things that you will most love when you look back on your years.

Chaos, rushing, pursuing…these culminate in some concept of achievement that rarely satisfies because, when we were clamoring after whatever it was, we hardly had perspective of what life should really be like. No, it’s when we mosey along, walking slowly and taking everything in that we see the world as a whole, as God made it and as He has given it to us. But you must take a moment to put everything else aside and absorb it as it is.

Don’t talk. Don’t say anything at all. The Creator of Life is trying to speak to you. Don’t interrupt.

Say Something

In my own journals and other writings, I've said a lot about wasting words. We are superfluous in our praise to the point that it is almost meaningless. We talk to fill space rather than being purposeful to convey truth. "Be worth the words you use to say what's on your mind."

And yet, I am so guilty of this in my life. I am hasty in my criticism and shallow in my praise. I talk for the sake of talking.

In the past few weeks, I've become very aware of what I say because I've actually not said very much lately. I've been bogged down with work and when I'm bogged down, I become very quiet. I don't like to talk much. Even this neglected blog and my abandonded journals demonstrate how I've given up on words lately. Oh, words, words, words. Try just being. When I'm as exhausted as I've been these past couple weeks, silence is more significant than sound. Solitude is more intentional than the "community" I sometimes find myself in.

Maybe that's the way it should be sometimes. Seek silence, enjoy solitude, meet your Father in the still moments of life. Peace, be still. Love the people around you, but sometimes, take a moment to put everything away for a little while.

There is an ethical aspect to our communication. Speak truth. With your mouth, with your actions, with your very life. Be succinct and clear. Tell people you love them and say it with meaning. Enjoy the moments of silence and solitude, and when you do say something, let your life speak it in truth.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Poor Man's Suit

I'm not afraid, just dress me up in a poor man's suit.
I won't be late but I'll come out singing,
I'll come out singing.
Every word that I sing I'll sing it for you.

Yes, there are times
when I could not recognize your voice
And times
when I could barely sing or say anything at all
Every word that I sing, I'll sing it for you.
Oh, every word that I sing, I'll sing it for you.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I constantly need people to tell me when I'm wrong. I think my favorite people in the world are the ones who are bold enough to challenge me in my stubbornness. If I think I've figured something out, that's usually a pretty good indication that I'm not letting God speak to me and that your human voice is more vitally necessary than ever.

One of my favorite stanzas of poetry that I've ever written was:
Know me for my sins,
Weaken and break me.
Call me out for my faults,
Remind me that I'm so small.
I love admitting that I'm wrong. Of course, I don't love the process of it--being called out, apologizing, having your deepest inner decay exposed. Oh, does that hurt. But when I hurt, when my pride stings and my intellect aches, may I ever and always praise God that I'm not numb, that there is enough of the God-intended Elena left for Him to put me back in order.

I discovered a new favorite verse in Psalm 138 the other day. I like the ESV translation and The Message paraphrase of it a lot, so here's both:

"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands."

"Finish what you started in me, oh, God. Your love is eternal--don't quit on me now."

I recently defined hope as: "remembering that He will continue His work of redemption in my life even though I fail so often." Acknowledging my failure is a sharp and biting pain. There's no spiritual anesthesia for us in these moments. But if this didn't hurt, it wouldn't be so beneficial. So I welcome the hurt. I love apologies and confessions to true friends who show love and grace and rebuke in return. What powerful, potent medicine and what healing and growth it brings.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad...

At 9:30am as I parked my car in the chapel parking lot and resisted the inevitable of having to run through the rain to the Union, I was very tempted to already dub this an Alexander sort of day. Instead, I shouted (literally) at God, "DO SOMETHING WITH THIS," and I'm calling this a day with a lot of potential for grace.

The "T, H, NG, VB" title was tempting because I had insomnia last night after a rather frustratingly distracted evening of homework. And because I've been utterly drenched at least twice today due to rain. And my shoes are sopping all the way through. And I was late to a class because I had to print off a paper for which the due date was fortunately set back, though I unfortunately didn't get the e-mail. And I'll be up until 1am.

But don't feel bad for me, because God fills up potentialities when we commit them to Him. First, I told Dr. Spiegel that I had insomnia last night and he recommended standing on my head for a minute or so before going to bed. The very thought of Spiegel on his head (in all reality, not hard to imagine) got me laughing. Then I had class with Seeman. ALWAYS a delight. And he gave a devotional on Psalm 19 that struck home (they always do). And he and I talked for a solid half hour after class was over about Foucault and Hegel and Derrida and post-modernism and our thick Christian metaphysic that says that we are relational beings created in the image of God and how that informs our approach to all of these philosophers.

Now the day is about half-way over. Still a lot of potential left. But as long as I can manage to stay awake for it, bring it on.

**And someone just offered to help me out with something, so I can go to bed at 12am rather than 1am. YES.

Over-commitment is like the Shadowbrute.

He has brought me back here again, this place of smallness.
I'm self-aware...aware of my incapacity, aware of my insufficency, aware of my impotence.
I've been clutching, clinging, clasping these things that escape my grip.
My hands are too small. I can't manage this.
Distended, distracted, distorted.

And then, my balancing act started to tip...
I was playing with blocks, my construction towering so high...
He came in and said, "Is this what you think?" and kicked it down
Not in anger, not in frustration, but as the Great Teacher.
Yes, these things fall down easily. Don't forget that next time.
But He knows I'll forget. Yes, He knows I will.
And He'll remind me then, too.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I just found out that I'll probably have to delete this entire blog because of what I'm planning to do next fall.


Let the countdown to anonymity begin...

My New Home?

Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan

Monday, March 15, 2010

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

"That I am not my own but belong body and soul, in life and death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood and has set me free from the tyrrany of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven.

In fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him."

- Heidelberg Catechism

It has been a rough thing, to realize that I've been wholeheartedly distracted recently, that my pursuit of Christ has been a weak effort as my own feelings have held my thoughts instead. I never blatantly rejected His will or His voice, but I wasn't exactly listening for it, either. I was caught up in my own efforts and in that, I was confronted with my weakness, my failures.

My only comfort in life and in death is the assurance that He will make me wholeheartedly His own. Even if it takes a certain amount of heartbreak, He will call me back to Himself and persist in that great work He is doing in me.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


It is a rare event when any Taylor event with the word "retreat" in it actually includes anything related to rest or recouperation. Therefore it was stunningly unreal that every single girl on my wing got about ten hours of sleep at our massive sleepover party on Friday night.

Probably only my three dearest friends knew how much I needed that, actually. I slept hardly a wink on Thursday night even though I went to bed at 11:30pm. My mind and heart were racing and I could barely stay still for the five and a half hours that I laid in my bed. Friday wasn't exactly conducive to a lack of sleep like that either.

I arrived to the retreat late, as everyone was settling down. So I grabbed my blanket and pillow and collapsed on the floor next to Kelsey. She's such a sweetheart--she rubbed my back and played with my hair for hours while I enjoyed the sounds of my Second South sisters laughing and chattering all around me.

I later apologized to a few of them for being so tired and incoherent during our short retreat, but they said so graciously, "No no! We were just so glad you were with us!!"

Oh, God blesses us with what we need, even when we don't know how to ask for it. I admit, I needed four things that night--physical affection, to not be by myself, to not have to talk, and sleep. I got all of them. In fact, our whole group of 20+ girls were able to relax, to be rejuvenated, and to enjoy each other's company. What a marvelous second family I have here. There's so much love, so much understanding, so much affection, and so much security and faithfulness. Goodness.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thoughts from last weekend:

I could live like this.

Caroline's hair is so big.

Shannon looks adorable sitting in that windowsill.

Everytime the sky is blue like that I just think of GOD. Godness. Goodness. Good.

Confidence is all about how you perceive yourself. Yes, even you must perceive yourself. And I love how you do.

Remember when we were going to buy ourselves a sailboat and name her the Grey Goose and sail all over the world together?

Chocolate brown hair. Creamy untanned skin. Dark eyes. Homemade sand dollar necklace. Ridiculous navy blue shirt. White second-hand Polo sweater. Rolled-cuff jeans with rips in awkward places. Moccasins.

I want to be near you. That's all. There's something about nearness. Proximity. Priceless.

I want to die for you. I'm sorry if my life doesn't always reflect that.

The only thing that scares me about leaving is being gone from you.

There are so many things that can't be spoken. They are so true in my head, but so awkward coming from my mouth.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I want to be here:

"I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do." -Willa Cather

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I'll be my brother's keeper.

I’ve discovered that it’s always worth it, always enjoyable, always so much better to be involved in people at the expense of self. ALWAYS. Homework isn’t half as important as hearing about your day. Sleep isn’t necessary when your head is on my lap. It almost doesn't matter what you’re saying; how could I be bored when your smile is so wide? And my burdens seem so insignificant when I have the opportunity to share yours instead. Loving you is so much more wonderful than loving just me.

Irresponsible? Only regarding myself. But I’ll always be steadfast for you.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Romans 8:31

What can we say in response to this?

Friday, March 5, 2010

This Is My Senioritis:

Filling out applications for internships and full-time employment and discovering that this one is due tomorrow and that opportunity ended two days ago...confronting the possibility of living at home for a semester before Pakistan really kicks off...Friday (and Thursday and Wednesday and Tuesday and Monday) night homework until midnight deadlines...researching state representatives in my spare time for GO's next initiative...

Skipping class to comfort a friend...choosing between wing church and those two other meetings that I accidentally double-booked...more coffee dates than I have days in the week...pretending to have time for it all because in reality, people are more important to me than grades...

Going longboarding around the loop because I've already been inside for six hours and the sky is too blue to wait another five minutes...taking 35 minutes to relax as I go to my friends' senior art shows and reveling in their beautiful expression...

Thinking how over-commitment is so overrated and I don't know why people do it to themselves...wishing I could be home right now for Lara's 14th birthday...hour-long conversations with Mom as I sort through all this nonsense...wishing I wasn't already booked tomorrow morning so I could drive up to H-dale to visit...

Reading Psalm 62:5-7 and 73:26 over and over and over and over...

It's a good thing this only lasts for one year of my lifetime.

Recent phases I've been repeating to myself:
"Don't despair. (But it's okay to tremble.)"
"The devil's singing over me//that I'm cursed and gone astray//but he's forgotten the refrain//Jesus saves."
"How could I give you up?"
"For God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Deeply Good News

Dr. Seeman makes my Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. (Granted, he nearly kills me on Thursday nights, but somehow I always survive.)

My History of Philosophy II class is brutal. It requires so much reading and thought and time. (And all of this doubles for me, the easily-distracted-by-my-own-thoughts one.) In class, my brain is overwrought by everything we're talking about. Hume denies that cause-and-effect is rational. Leibniz thinks God is a monad. Kant's noumena and phenomena... Crazy. Thursday nights are the worst because I'm usually spending many exhausting hours writing up the reading outline for Friday afternoon.

It's exhausting, yes. Dr. Seeman doesn't make any of that easier or give us excuses. But every time I come out of his class, even if I'm thoroughly confused about the nature of the universe, I am so comforted and excited when he talks about the gospel. In his fatherly, thoughtful, and passionate voice, he says things like this: ..."But now" are such powerful words. "That's how it was, but now." Everything is different. He talks about the inbreaking of Christ. How he entered into our sinful world. And in the context of sinful humanity and confused philosophers, he reminds us that this story, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, this promise, this unbelievable love is Good News. It is Deeply Good News.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

"Good things."

A few weeks ago, a good friend and I were talking about how much God has taught us about joy through sorrow and loss. Neither of us has really suffered--not compared to so many others in the world. But some of the greatest lessons we've each learned about God's faithfulness has come in our emptiest times of life.

But she said something else to me. She said she felt like God wanted her to share with me that "He wants to give you good things."

God wants to give you good things. I've been thinking about that, letting the phrase run through my mind, wondering how it could possibly relate to my current concerns and struggles. It didn't even hit me when she first said it. I didn't think, "Wow, I needed to hear that." But here I am, still processing it three weeks later.

I often wonder if God leaves me empty so that I will know fully that true satisfaction only comes through Him. "Let me not be so satisfied that I seek not the Bread of Life." Oh, I know that so well. I don't have to deliberately sacrifice anything in order for Him to show me my how deficient I am and how much I need Him. I am so aware of it every single day.

But I also know that God loves me. I know it and I agree: He does want to give me good things. I walk the path He has laid out before me and I know I will encounter blessings that He has placed along the way.

The problem comes when I begin to seek after those good things. Nothing is good out of its proper, God-placed context. It seems like a paradox: I begin to look for the good things and they disappear; I keep my eyes on Him and the good things come in abundance.

And the funny thing is that those "good things" are probably not what I expected at all. Not at all. I discovered that last summer...and then so much in the past six months. But His goodness is so much better than what I think I could get for myself. He will strip me of all that I love and want and think I need and still, He will use me for His purposes. Oh, and in that I find the truest satisfaction.

Is everything a lesson in faith then? An exercise of trust and reliance upon Him to satisfy? NO. It's nothing like that. It's not about wanting Him to satisfy me, but learning that His purposes go beyond my wants and needs. He does not merely want to "give me good things." He wants me to walk according to the path that is His holy and perfect will and to discover His goodness, His beauty and mercy and constancy.

No expectations, but so much hope. I don't need to be reminded of the good things coming. I will keep my focus on letting Him use me for His glory and in that I find my true Great and Endless Need is satisfied.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


I love blogs. SO much.

I love words, I love what Caroline and I call "word vomit" (usually the best way to describe the content of this blog), and I love reading other people's random thoughts. I read a lot of blogs: some by friends, some by friends of friends, some by family of friends, some by people I have absolutely no connection to whatsoever. (Yeah, that's actually kind of embarrassing. I'm definitely not going to reveal that I read my friend's dad's brother's blog, much as I may enjoy it.)

The whole idea of a blog as a "web log" is kind of inaccurate. I definitely don't log my life in this cyber non-journal notepad. There's nothing consistent here. (As I said, "word vomit".)

But when I read blogs and stumble across something marvelous and fantastic and unexpected that brings a bit of color into my day, I am thankful for blogs. B[urst of color]logs.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dear Family, I miss you.

I get to go home tomorrow. I get to go home tomorrow. I get to see two of my four favorite sisters. I get to hang out with my mom. The four of us plus my dad are going to go out for Thai food on Saturday night.

Favorite Caroline quote of the day: "I'm so glad we ended up related so I couldn't just drop you when you got annoying."

Thank God for blood relations and how they hold out through the dry spells.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A God Like This

I have a God who calls people to live lives of purpose. He gives them great passions, talents, abilities, and asks that we give them to something much greater than ourselves. It's bigger than the world, bigger than my mind, bigger than philosophy and learning and study...

Glory. His glory. That His name would be known among all peoples and nations and cultures and families.

But sometimes, glory means that His name is glorified in the lives of individuals. One individual. One friend who has been so scared to commit herself to His love, afraid of abandonment, afraid of taking that risk on God. He has been chasing and running her down and I have watched it. Oh, how He has fought for her.

Oh, great Lord. What glory You claimed on Sunday night when she finally let You overcome her! My heart cried and laughed and sang in the overwhelming joy of it all as she told me her story.

I have a God who tells people that He loves them, even when they're so unbelieving and so fearful. He says, "I won't leave you. Do you know what I've done for you? What I will do for you forever? Oh, child, sweet child. Your love will be safe with me."

That's my great God. I'm reveling in it.

Hahaha!!! Oh, my God, my God. I'm SO reveling in it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Stand On Their Shoulders and the View is Astounding

I've been short on profundity lately. That's okay. I like not being eloquent sometimes.

So here's something raw and unedited:

In the moments when I'm empty of emotion and feeling and I'm just simply numb to the worship songs and the public prayers...I sometimes wonder what it is that I'm holding on to in my faith. What is this religion that I let dictate my life? How do I know this is real?

But in this life of mine the answer comes so clearly and magnificently and I realize how our relational, three-in-one God has satisfied these questions and doubts: I see the answer to my questions when I think of how obviously my great God works in the lives of those around me. I think of Kari and I revel in the work that God is doing through her in India. I think of Albi and how she worships Him through her art and how He gives meaning to what would otherwise be nothing more than paint on a canvas. I think of Caroline and how He has transformed her from the fearful little girl into the warrior woman who will in turn transform her campus and the city and the world. I think of Caleb and Ryan and Philip and how those men inspire me and encourage me that God is still revealing Himself to those who seek Him wholeheartedly.

A cloud of witnesses. The greatest testimony to the truth of the Gospel.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Syllogistic Logic

1. I hate days when I don't get work done.
2. Monday are days when I have an ocean of things to do and no time to do them.
3. (from 2) I get no work done on Mondays.
.: I hate Mondays.

Oh, Hillary

BBC News Headline shows how out-of-touch Americans can be sometimes--even in the White House:

Obviously not much of a story there. HELLO, UNITED STATES!! Iran has been a military dictatorship since Ayatolla Khomeini took power in 1979 and Ahmadinejad has not improved anything in the past five years.

PLEASE pray for Iran. There are people there who live in abject poverty yet their government does nothing to help. Instead, the regime there is in fact a threat to its own people.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"The Victory of God in man, not the man in himself..."

In a couple of my philosophy classes lately, we've been talking about what is necessary for salvation. Through works? Through faith? Through works as the product of faith? Is there a creed that clarifies all the beliefs necessary to be deemed "saved" by God? Can people of non-Christian belief come to salvation without ever knowing Christ? Does God generally make exceptions? Is there even a specific rule by which He works?

I don't think we can make many assumptions about who will or won't be in heaven. God is the only one who can see the hearts of men. But I have one friend whose heart is pretty plain to see. He gets songs like this stuck in his head and, even more, stuck in his heart: "Lord, I want to yearn for you. I want to burn with passion over you and only you." What is this but the work of God in him?

I think it's safe to say that salvation isn't about whether you have theological concepts neatly sorted in your mental library. God brings about salvation without any help from my beliefs or my deeds and certainly not from my intellectual grasp of the philosophy of religion. I'm pretty sure that it's the songs you sing to God in your heart that indicate your salvation. When I hear my friend whistling that song across campus, I remember this: "Glory be to God who allows such miraculous things to occur in the hearts of men." and this: "He who searches hearts and minds knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

This is Very False:

The conquerors are the passionate ones.
They go in hard and give all for the win.
No one ever accused Napoleon of not giving a damn.

But we can't all be victorious, can we?
And I, in all self-consciousness and fear of defeat,
I put on apathy and with head held high,
I and my heart will survive.

"Interestingly, 'growing up' is largely a matter of learning to hide our spirit behind our face, eyes, and language so that we can evade and manage others to achieve what we want and avoid what we fear."

Here is truth:

True love always wants to be known.

Fear and love cannot coexist.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


1. "Burns Us Up" - Shane & Shane
2. "You Are My Desire" - Scatteredtrees
3. "Words Remain" - Josh Garrels
4. "Yearn" - Shane & Shane
5. "Worthy of Affection" - Shane & Shane
6. "Reign On Your Throne" - Scatteredtrees
7. "Vision of You" - Shane & Shane
8. "Psalm 62" - Scatteredtrees
9. "Creation Song" - Josh Garrels
10. "To the Only God" - David Crowder & Shane & Shane

You are light and you are love
You are flesh and you are blood
Peace will come to those who love

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Update: Because I don't have time to sort through old blog posts.

I'm not a libertarian anymore. Actually, I'm a lot more liberal (okay, moderate) than I used to be. I guess I'm quite the relativist when it comes to government, economics, culture, etc. I realize the need to discern what is important to a culture and to let them seek that. Sometimes (as I'm finding in Britain) people are willing and even, perhaps, eager to pay high taxes so everyone has access to a good health care system. (Yes, actually it is a very good health system. Don't listen to the conservatives who will tell you that nationalized health care will without exception go down the crapper.)

Anyway, there's a lot to say about my new/evolving economic/political views. But forgive me for my semi-dogmatic previous posts regarding politics. (Dogmatism is so hard to avoid. But I try.) I suppose future blog activity will indicate where I stand these days. Hm. Wait and see.

Monday, January 25, 2010

"This heart that you have stolen and left here broken."

God brought me back to this place again, a place of acceptance and concession to my own finitude. Perhaps I'll elaborate in the future, but for now, this quote from Lewis is my witness:

I am a safety-first creature. Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as “Careful! This might lead you to suffering.”

To my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience. When I respond to that appeal I seem myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities. I doubt whether there is anything in me that pleases Him less. And who could conceivably begin to love God on such a prudential ground—because the security (so to speak) is better? Who could even include it among the grounds for loving? Would you choose a wife or a friend—if it comes to that, would you choose a dog—in this spirit? One must be outside of the world of love, of all loves, before one thus calculates. Eros, lawless Eros, preferring the Beloved to happiness, is more like Love Himself than this.

Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness. If a man is not uncalculating towards the earthly loves whom he has seen, he is none the more likely to be so towards God whom he has not. We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Here is the Promise and the Threat:

That within life,
this precious thing wrought
by a God of light,
though He already fought
and conquered the dark
which sought
to strip us of the Good,

I still find
that in the giving up
and committing to bind
all desires to His cross,
fear still plagues my mind
for I cannot see His hand.

Trust hurts
for we cannot know how He,
who Himself did submit
to the greatest pain that ever could be,
might call us to a fate
the glory of which we cannot see.

For He
who did not grasp
for the glory that would be,
made Himself last,
gave all to a plan
no man could see.

And now, what will He require?
to strip me
of all I have and desire
and think that I need,
to use me for His glory
the sacrifice so necessary
to refine this life
so He
may use me
to bring glory
to the Name of the Father.

And in the end every knee
will bow and everything lost
will by His Name be freed
to praise the one
who by great mercy
accepted the filth that was my only
offering to a God so Holy,
but through the offering
given by the servant king
was set free
to be given up again.

And in the shadow of that tree
I live, set free
to bring glory
and to know my Great and Endless Need
is the only one who will satisfy me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Oh, what a difference a month makes.

It has been a while, I guess. I've been neglectful. And yet, so much has happened, I can hardly express it all in blog posts.

First, I experienced Urbana '09 at the end of December. It wasn't shocking or revelatory or especially controversial... In fact, I thought it was beautifully biblical and in every way challenging. All in all, I felt a strong confirmation that I'll never be satisfied doing anything but missions. Now, that's not remarkable in any way--"missions" is pretty broad. But I do feel quite confident that I will spend my life doing some kind of work overseas, hopefully involving economic development and definitely focused on being part of people's lives. That's what I want to do, that's what I feel called to do.

Second, Libby and I made it to England on our own and managed to get around London and now Oxford with ease. It's fun to feel capable of navigating a new country on my own, but even more than that, it's marvelous to feel at home here. I can't attribute that sense of home to any great international sense that I have, but only to God's grace and the generosity of our host family here in Oxford.

Which brings me to the third element-- the people we've been spending time with here in England are a Godsend and a blessing. Steve and Jenny Hellyer are our dad and mom for the month and they are such examples of humble servants yearning for Christ. They radiate love wherever they go.

And I can't forget to mention the other lovely people from Taylor who are here with me: Dr. Ricke is fabulous and hilarious and I enjoy interacting with him and learning from him. Lib is the best J-term roommate ever and we get along as well as an old married couple. Caleb is easily one of my favorite people in existence (and that's even besides teaching us how to play Canasta). New lovely friend in my life is Kirsten Rose Wilhelm: bright, beautiful, and with a heart that's sold out for Christ. And my tutor, Diego, is gracious and patient with me and I'm learning so much.

Things haven't been all rosy, though. In fact, a lot of thing have been more challenging than ever--I've been facing obstacles and bearing burdens that I've never experienced before. All of that deserves a few posts all to themselves, really. But there's this amazingly difficult thing called trust (much like the faith that I can't rationalize) that hurts a lot of the time and always feels uncomfortable...and I've wrestled that beast with complete desperation at times in recent days. And even when I've submitted, it has felt like Jacob's hip being put out of joint as he wrestled the angel at Bethel.

Oh, God has been so present lately, even though I've often felt blind and far from Him. I'm sometimes afraid of what may come because I know it won't be anything easy. He doesn't ask for the simple things that are easy to sacrifice. No, He requires amputations sometimes. But I know good things will come, things that will give Him glory. And that is the purpose and joy of my being so I will choose to seek it.