Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Tonight at Deeper I decided to spend some time reading my Bible. Regardless of what is going on in the service, Deeper has really become more of a time that I set aside to spend time with God in whatever way I feel like that night (worship, prayer, Bible reading, journaling, etc.). I decided to start with the book of Matthew since I've recently seen Godspell, a musical loosely based on the Gospel of Matthew.

As I read, different things stood out to me. I enjoyed just reading through, pausing to reflect on certain passages. And then I got to chapter 9. My Bible is New Living Translation, and here's what Mt 9:19-22 says: "As Jesus and the disciples were going to the official's home, a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, 'If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.' Jesus turned around and said to her, 'Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.' And the woman was healed at that moment." I've certainly heard this story before. But the word "daughter" caught my eye, and I wanted to see how this story was told in other gospels.

Luke  8:43-48 is the other telling of this story. This account gives more details. It says, "And there was a woman in the crows who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years. She had spent everything she had on doctors and still could find no cure. She came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. 'Who touched me?' Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, 'Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.' But Jesus told him, 'No, someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.' When the woman realized that Jesus knew, she began to tremble and fell to her knees before him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. 'Daughter,' he said to her, 'your faith has made you well. Go in peace.'"

This woman is desperate. She has done everything she can to get well, spent everything she had trying to find a cure. She knows Jesus is the answer, that he has the power to end her pain. But she doesn't do what most of the other people Jesus healed did. They went up to Jesus and asked him to heal them. She crept up behind him. If she was anything like me, maybe she felt like she didn't want to bother Jesus. He was obviously a very important man, and he was on his way somewhere to do something important. Maybe she didn't want to bother him, but she was desperate. So she sort of got her miracle on the sly. Except Jesus knew right away that something was up. And again, I think the woman reacted like I would; she was afraid of Jesus' reaction. I bet she was afraid Jesus would say, "Who do you think you are? You don't even have the courage to ask me to heal you? And now you're holding up this entire group when we're on our way to do something important!" Plus, she went through the embarrassment of telling everyone what was wrong with her!

I think the woman was probably stunned at Jesus' reaction. He did not condemn her. He did not yell at her or belittle her. He called her daughter. He commended her faith. And he told her to go in peace.

Sometimes when I pray, I feel like I'm bothering God. After all, he has a whole planet full of people to take care of. Who am I to catch his attention? But I do believe in the power of prayer. I know God can do anything. I really needed this reminder that God doesn't want us to feel bad for asking him to meet our needs. He isn't going to be fooled anyway, so why not boldly go to him with my requests? I am his daughter, and he cares about my pain, and he loves it when I have faith.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Theatre and God

Today I went to see Godspell at my alma matter. I know the director and was excited to see how the show looked set in a high school. Plus, I knew at least one of my friends was in the show, and I want to support theatre because it's not the strongest program there.

This was the third time I have seen this play performed, and they were all in different settings. The first time I saw it was at a neighboring high school. The second time was community theatre, and this time it was at a Christian university. This is a show that lends itself to lots of interpretation for setting and costume. Unlike most shows, it's not a linear story. It's a series of sketches of Jesus' parables that are acted out by Jesus and the group who is with him (basically disciples, specifically John the Baptist and Judas). The second act contains the Last Supper and the crucifixion. It's funny, it's serious, it's a neat musical.

It has been moving every time I've seen it, especially the crucifixion, but there was something so special about this production. I knew beforehand from talking with the director that the cast went through an exercise of writing out their character bios (the background and personality of their character), and then, in character, they shared those bios with the Jesus character. The director is the only other person who got to see this. As I watched the show, I saw how it made a difference that Jesus really knew the heart of every person onstage. There was a kindness, a love that was so moving to watch. There was a moment with "the loner" that was so touching I started to cry.

The whole point of doing that exercise was to really show that connection that Jesus has. The high school kids didn't know each other's stories. They were just who they were on the outside: the jock, the cheerleader, the misfit, the brain, the loner, the prom queen, etc. But Jesus (who was the janitor, by the way), really knew the truth. The director talked about how he wanted that to mirror Jesus' relationship with his followers in real life.

I'm a very tactile person. I have a very hard time grasping theories and big pictures; I'm more about the specifics and what I can identify with my senses. So even when I read in the Bible, I have such a hard time picturing that Jesus loves me personally. He isn't here to give me a hug or talk with me, and sometimes it's hard to believe he hears me when I pour out my pain and frustration. This is what I love about theatre, how it gives substance to things we can't experience ourselves. I want so badly to use theatre to communicate these truths in a way that hearing a sermon or reading words on a page just can't. Theatre is living and breathing, and the potential for this tool is so much more than we even know.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


In the past few weeks, three people that I know have passed away. So I've been thinking a lot about death and loss and relationships. I admit that I haven't lost anyone that I saw regularly, so the losses in my life, while painful, have been easier for me to deal with. I haven't lost a parent or a best friend unexpectedly. And while I'm afraid it might sound callous, it's been easier for me to deal with the deaths of people I didn't see as often. It's easier to hold on to the good memories rather than constantly feel the loss of future memories. Sure, I miss people more when I'm at weddings and I know this would have been a big event, but the day to day life is easier to bear.

I've also been thinking about relationships that are lost for other reasons. Those have been much harder for me to deal with in my life. For example, I was very close to someone in college. Our relationship was probably too close, in truth. Our emotional lives kind of meshed together in a way that was kind of messy and not always good for us. But it ended up blowing up, kind of all of a sudden. I was very caught off guard by how things turned out, and I just couldn't process and adapt fast enough to accept changes that happened in my friend's life. I still feel a lot of grief over how our friendship ended. I feel bad for my part of not being able to sustain the friendship. Yeah, I'd be amenable to see if we could still be friends, but unfortunately, with the way things ended, I don't know how I'd even begin to approach this person. So much has happened, so much has changed. I do wish I could apologize, because I know there was a time in my life when I was a terrible friend to everyone around me. I was incredibly selfish, and even though I was going through a rough time, that was not an excuse for how I treated the people around me.

Another example is that I had a relationship that ended abruptly when I left school. It was a more professional, working relationship, but it was with a person I respected. Because of the suddenness of my departure from college,  there were things that happened that still feel unfinished. I did not get closure on some pretty significant things, and I still struggle with my feelings about certain people, certain events.

As I think about the different loss and pain I've felt throughout my life, I think there is something so healing about finality. When someone dies, it's terrible and it hurts, but it's final. As time goes by, you learn to adapt and keep living your life. When you lose other relationships, whether with a friend, colleague, or (I'm assuming) a significant other, I think it's harder. It doesn't always feel final. I wonder if I should do something to mend the relationship, or if it's time to let it be. I wonder how the other person is doing, what's going on in their life. I wonder if they ever think of me, because I do think of them. I miss the good times. I'm sad for the ugly things that happened. I agonize because they are still out there living their lives, and I am living my life, and they are no longer connected.

Maybe it's more a question of forgiveness and letting go. When someone has passed away, you know there is no more chance for reconciliation or an apology. You kind of just have to let go. It's far easier (for me, anyway) to hold on to pain from someone still out there. Maybe someday, someone who hurt me will realize it, seek me out, and apologize. But that's not likely. I know I need to learn to forgive and let go even if I never get closure or an apology.

I know my thoughts aren't quite cohesive in this post, but I don't care. I start so many blog posts that I never get back to editing, so I'm trying to just write something and let it be, whether it's "perfect" or not.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On the Phenomenon of Celebrities

I love TV. If you ask me my favorite show, I'll probably rattle off three that I've been watching lately. I have the dates written on my calender of 3 different season premieres in the next 2 weeks. Sometimes I get the feeling that people think I'm a little pathetic for watching so much TV. And I might agree, except I do have a social life. I'm super involved in my church. I'm a leader, even. I still read lots of books. I knit, crochet, and paint. I have a love of theatre and try to attend shows regularly.

I grew up with books and TV shows as my main friends. When you're home all day every day with just your siblings, it can feel really hard to fill the time. The librarians used to not believe that I read so many books so fast. I lived vicariously through the people on Full House, Saved by the Bell, and Boy Meets World.

I say this because I've been thinking a lot lately about my latest TV obsession, and the reaction I've seen of others. I love Glee. I loved watching The Glee Project this summer. And I started to follow some of those people on Twitter. I started to see this pattern of person after person asking to be retweeted. For those of you not in Twitter, that basically means that you're asking a person to repost your post. It means they specifically saw your one post amidst what I'm sure are thousands of posts. My initial reaction to seeing all of these people plead for a celebrity to retweet them was that they were kind of sad and pathetic. Did these people really think that getting 2 seconds of acknowledgement from someone they'd never met would make everything better?

And then something I posted got retweeted. I hadn't asked for it or anything, I just posted something. I was surprised at the short burst of happiness that flooded through me. What? I couldn't believe it! So I started thinking about what the appeal is in being acknowledged that way. And I've been talking with someone about feeling like people don't care about you and feeling invisible.

We all crave intimacy. And these days there's a plethora of false intimacy. We have hundreds or thousands of Facebook friends. We read blogs, we Tweet. But how many close friends do we have? I have two. I have other friends that I love dearly, but we've begun to grow apart in recent years, or they're people I haven't known as long so we're not as close. When we don't have people who regularly connect with us, we start to feel desperate just to be seen, to be acknowledged. I don't want to feel invisible. I hate that feeling. I hope to continue developing new relationships, forming new intimate connections with people. I want a group of people with whom I can share my doubts and struggles and not feel judged or preached at.

I still think it'd be amazing to be on TV. I love acting, and I love the friendships and connections you can make with your castmates. But I don't know if I really want fame as much as I thought I did. I don't think I want that pressure of having so many people seek affirmation from me. I don't even fully understand why we think celebrities are so great. It's not like Hollywood has a reputation of churning out fantastic role models. Celebrities are just people. Just like I'm a person. And we all need relationships in our lives that love us for who we are, no matter what.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Last night while I was at a worship night at my church, I felt compelled to jot down some thoughts. I immediately knew I wanted to share those thoughts on my blog. At first I thought the two things I had were unrelated, but as I thought about it, the two things fit together.

Here's the first thing I wrote (the quote is a song lyric that we sang that jumped out at me):
"Every crown no longer on display" We don't need to shine up our trophies and show off our accomplishments to impress God. We can enter into His presence just as we are because Jesus shed His blood for us. Because of God's great grace, we can enter the very throne room of heaven and praise the God who saved us.
Romans 3:22-25
(We're going through Romans in my Bible study and last week we were on chapter 3, so I knew how perfectly those verses backed up my thoughts.)

The second thing I wrote:
Sometimes I feel like Esther. She was chosen by the king, she had gained his favor, but she still feared for her life when she came before the king uninvited. Despite knowing I am God's chosen and that He loves me, I am still sometimes afraid to enter into His presence.

It can be really easy to think that we have to approach God the same way we approach everyone around us: look our best, act our best, prove we're important. But God doesn't work like that. He knows our darkest, dirtiest secrets, and He decided that He still loved us enough to send His son to die so we could be redeemed. And when we screw up again, which we will, because we're human, God loves it when we run back to Him instead of hiding from Him.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Seeing the Parade Differently

Every now and then I have a moment when I see the world a little differently. This happened to me tonight.

One of the cities my church has a campus in had a parade tonight, and I walked with a bunch of other people in the parade. We had a truck pulling one of our trailers, a banner, and we all wore gray (grey? I can never remember.) t-shirts. We had candy buckets, and we walked along a 2-mile parade route passing out candy and waving.

Overall, it was tons of fun. I met people from Substance I didn't know before, and the kids were a lot of fun to watch. But there were a few moments that made me want to cry. Walking in the middle of the street, looking down at the lines of people stretching into the distance, I thought of this blog post on Stuff Christians Like. I started to wish I cold walk up to every person there and tell them, very sincerely, "Do you know how much God loves you?" I kept thinking, "That little girl is God's favorite. That older gentleman is God's favorite. God sure does love that dad over there." For a few moments I got a taste of how much God loves those people, how much he wants them to come to Him.

After the parade we met back together for a bit. As people drifted away, I went and sat in my car. And I cried. Sometimes when I have those moments of seeing the world differently, I push it aside because it hurts too much; it's too big of a feeling. But tonight I just let my heart break for Fridley the way God's heart longs for those people. I may not have had words to pray, but I was praying for them just the same.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pride: A Story of Ramen

I struggle a lot with pride. It's hard for me because I'm not the type who goes around openly saying that I'm better than other people. I actually often compare myself to other people and find myself short all the time (but that's a whole different issue). My pride is the quiet, hidden thoughts I have about other people and how I'm better than them.

I realized this yet again on Monday. What happened Monday? I ate Ramen noodles. Now for most of my friends, this would be no big deal. I mean, Ramen noodles are a college student's best friend, right?

I did not eat Ramen even once in college. Sort of on purpose. Monday was the first time I ever ate Ramen noodles.

When I was in college and a broke student, I never went looking for Ramen at the grocery store. I made a conscious decision not to eat Ramen. Because I was proud. See, I had this picture in my head that Ramen was for poor people who couldn't afford "real" food. And I wasn't a "poor" person. I was well off, I was fantastic, I was BETTER.

How arrogant. How sad.

It's cool to be thrifty now. There's even a TV show called "Extreme Couponing." People are all about saving money. But when I was in college, I wanted to look like I was the type of person who didn't need to worry about money. It's such a shallow, silly thing. I used to be embarrassed that I would shop at Aldi. Now I'm proud that I don't spend a ton on groceries.

It shouldn't matter what other people think. Food is food, and I can't believe that I smug about not eating a certain kind of food. Especially now that I know it's tasty and I can buy lots of it and not break my budget. Maybe it was just a youthful foolishness sort of phase. But pride is pride, and now that I've tried Ramen and am hooked, I need to be on the lookout for the next thing that I'll cling to to make me feel better. I shouldn't even be comparing myself to others to find my worth.

It's not about what I eat, what I buy, what I do. I am created in God's image and Jesus died so that I could spend eternity in heaven. My pride seems unbelievably foolish when I take the time to look at the big picture.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The End is Near

Have you heard? The rapture is going to happen on Saturday. That's the buzz that's going around. Here's an article about it: http://www.twincities.com/ci_18083511?nclick_check=1. I saw one of these billboards on my way home from work several months ago. It's not there anymore, but I remember feeling dread, one of those "Oh, no!" moments.

I get frustrated when stuff like this happens for two reasons. First of all, it makes Christians look kind of crazy or weird (and frankly, really gullible/stupid when it doesn't happen). We all know that often an entire people group is judged by the most outspoken people of that group, even if those people are not accurate representations. Second, I hate the reactions of other people. I heard this being made fun of on the radio today. In the article above, it says that there are people who are mocking the idea by planning anti-rapture parties. I hate how something like this diminishes the impact of the truth for many people.

I do believe that Jesus is going to come back. I do believe that there will be judgment. The Bible doesn't give a detailed play-by-play of what's going to happen, but I think there is definitely an outline. Could Jesus come back on Saturday? I don't see why not. But instead of spouting off end of the world stuff, you know, "repent for the end is near," why don't we show people through our actions how Jesus can change someone's life right now? Thinking about the end is scary. Finding hope for right now is wonderful.

P.S. Pastor Pete Wilson also wrote a blog about this: . It reminded me that I had the link sitting in my email waiting for me to write the post. Peter Haas, my pastor, wrote an incredible blog with a brief summary of the different end-times views: http://peterhaas.org/2011/05/20/is-the-rapture-coming-this-saturday/.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Tonight at Deeper the theme of unforgiveness came up a few times. Tonight I didn't feel like this was an issue I needed to tackle, but there are times when something brings up a memory of the past and I find myself holding a grudge again. As I was thinking about how unforgiveness holds us back, especially when it comes to God moving in our lives, I got a mental image of why we hold on to unforgiveness.

I pictured a dragon, but in case you have not recently read several books about dragons like I have, I'll use a dog. Dogs are generally considered to be friendly and loveable. They are fun, and they like to play and interact with their owners. The dog is healthy and happy. But then it gets hurt. Say the dog's paw gets pierced with a sharp stick. The dog is probably not going to walk up to its owner and willingly sit still while the stick gets pulled out and the wound gets cleaned. The dog will retreat, and may even growl and snap at its owner. The dog might even bite to keep people away. It does not want to get hurt anymore, so it does the only thing it knows to protect itself.

When we get hurt, we are like that dog. It sometimes feels easier to be angry and keep people away, sometimes even hate them, than it does to let go. Justice is really important for me. It is so hard for me to let God deal with people who hurt me rather than creating my own justice. I often cover up my pain with anger. The truth is that if I don't lower my defenses and let God start to remove the junk, I'm not going to get better.

Sometimes I think I have forgiven someone and that I'm fine, only to have someone say something that makes me hurt all over again. I wonder if maybe that's what Jesus was talking about when he said that we can't just stop forgiving after seven times. I have to choose time and time again to let go, to forgive, even for the same thing. I'm not perfect at forgiving. Whenever I hear someone talking about forgiveness, there are two people I have known in my life who always come to mind. These two people are people who hurt me tremendously. Part of me wants to stay angry, to stay defensive. Deep down, though, I know that really just hurts me.

For example: a person whom we'll call Sergio (not his real name) was someone whom I really trusted. Sergio was really important in my life. And then he did something that crushed me. I was so hurt, so devastated. For awhile, I was incredibly angry. I absolutely did not want to forgive Sergio. I wanted to hate him. I wanted bad things to happen to him so that he would hurt as much as I was hurting. But after awhile, it was really hard to be so angry. Sergio had really helped me get through some tough stuff. He had a big influence on me. It was important to me to hold onto the good memories. Trying to both hold onto good things and be really angry was more than I could handle. So I let go of my anger. I remember exactly how it happened, but I let go. And it felt so good. There are times when I still feel the hurt, but now that I'm not holding onto anger and unforgiveness, I can think about the good memories. I can heal.

I wish that deciding to forgive someone meant that you instantly felt better and you wouldn't ever hurt again. Unfortunately, that's not how it works. Even once you let someone pull the stick out of your paw, it takes time to heal. Sometimes the skin is sensitive even after it heals. And there's always the chance you'll step on another stick sometime and get hurt all over again. But choosing to forgive again and again means choosing healing again and again. Forgiving means choosing to acknowledge the pain but not holding on to it. I'm so glad that even though forgiveness is often difficult for me, God forgives me every single time I ask him, and he never holds grudges against me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Isn't it Obvious?

I'm in 2 Kings right now as I'm reading my way through the Bible. King after king did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Their idolatry was so obvious. They put up an Ashorah pole? Of course that was a bad idea! It's so easy to look at other people around us or even at the people in the Bible and see where they went wrong. David shouldn't have been at home when his troops were at war, and he should never have gotten involved with Bathsheba. Samson should never have revealed the secret of his strength to Delilah.

I've often wondered why people make such obvious mistakes. I tend to think that if given the opportunity, I would easily make the right decision in those situations. Except when you're in the midst of things there are often lots of smaller, less obvious choices. When I was 18 I never thought it was even possible that I would make the choices I did when I was 21. But I did. I think that's one of the many reasons why it's so important to have a group of friends that holds you accountable. They can help you spot the stupid mistakes long before you're in too deep.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I'd rather not know

I'm a worrier. Straight up. Sometimes I have a hard time shutting off my brain when I'm trying to sleep. So when I get my oil changed and am handed a long list of things that need replacing/repair on my car, my first instinct is to panic a little. I had no idea I was driving a death trap!

For me, it's difficult to find middle ground between excessive worrying and complete oblivion. Is it helpful for me to know which areas of my car to keep an eye on? Yeah. I've already been keeping coolant in my car so I can pour more in whenever I need it. Is it helpful to freak out about what I'm going to do if my car falls apart while I'm driving on the interstate? Not so much.

I think I tend to worry more because I'm alone. I don't have my dad nearby or a boyfriend/fiance/husband to help me know how to care for my car. I've dealt with car stuff before on my own, but it's always scary for me to be responsible for big decisions. Plus, I really (I mean REALLY) dislike when things are out of my control. It's hard for me to trust that God will take care of things, because I know God's love does not mean that everything will go right all the time.

For now, I think I'm going to continue to care for my car the way I have been: lots of prayer and lots of antifreeze, coupled with a phone call to my dad when things go wrong. I'll probably need to replace my car in the soonish future, but instead of worrying about it (too much, anyway), I'm going to go to a friend's house tonight for dinner and a movie and work on my costume for next weekend. Worrying will only make my free time stressful, and it won't change a single thing.