Archive for May, 2009

Cops and PotSmokers

Those cops? I called ’em. That car? Filled with a bunch of pot-smoking underage thugs that were formerly standing in my parking lot (and trying to gain easy access to the inside of my car). And the photo? Definitely taken when my roommate and I followed them out of the complex to see them get busted. Ah, yes. A little adventure, a little justice. All in all…a fun way to end the day.

On the agenda for tomorrow: making sure said thugs don’t show up to our complex pool ever again.

There are some bonus features of living within plain sight of the police station. Unfortunately, weed and alcohol apparently inhibited their ability to see the full parking lot of cop cars less than a hundred yards away.



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Morning light.

My roommate made it into the living room before I did this morning – a rare occasion since I get up at 6am and she generally wakes up after 8am.

And she opened the blinds to let in all the fierce sunshine.


I have this particular pattern that I work through in the mornings, and I like everything to be the same every day. It’s kind of ridiculous, but the pattern helps me to be consistent. Get up. Take the dog out. Make coffee. Eat breakfast. Take coffee, Bible, commentary, and journal to a particular corner of the couch next to the lamplight, and spend some time in the stillness.

This has been the pattern of my mornings for at least the past three years. I don’t remember why this has become the most comfortable routine for me, but I have grown to love the stillness of morning and the idea that my day hasn’t offically begun until all of these things are complete.

And at no point in my typical morning routine do I ever open the blinds to let in the glaring, early morning sunshine.

I don’t like the bright morning light pouring into my living room while I sit in the stillness.

I wanted to close the blinds again when my roommate left this morning for her early morning coffee date. And then I felt like that would be a bit overkill. I’m not into setting a mood to spend time in the Word or prayer journaling. I regularly spend time doing these things outside of my typical morning routine. But I wanted the darkness this morning. I wanted the dim lighting, the hot cup of coffee, and the security of my particular spot on the couch.

More and more I realize that this time in the morning has become my covering. I felt so unprepared for the glaring sunshine this morning, so overwhelmed by how bright it made the room and how distracted it made me feel. The stillness and the darkness of mornings with the Lord has become my daily refuge, my chance to breathe in Truth and the possibilities for the day before I’m actually confronted with its harsh reality. And while there is nothing about the morning light that makes my time with the Lord any less significant, I am learning that I love the significance of His covering in my life, His sustaining shield, and it’s easy for me to sense that when the day hasn’t even begun.

So I closed the blinds again and sat next the the dim light of the lamp. Until the Lord and I had met and I felt certain in His covering of my day.

And when I got up to open the blinds again, the morning light didn’t look so overwhelming anymore. It was beautiful – like the day outside and all the possibility it holds.

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Seen this? It’s not new, but it was certainly new to me when I saw it this weekend. Pretty interesting.

Meet Penn: Atheist.

Kind of convicting, right?

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I just looked over the main page of my blog and realized that I have become a total blogging failure in recent months. It seems like there are phases of my life that I feel totally comfortable blogging about – being a little vulnerable and and processing real life via small publications for my equally small audience. But there are whole areas of my life that I have considered off-limits to the blog. Too raw. Too real. And, honestly, I just have hated the idea of publishing my innate neediness at times. I like processing my reality when it makes me look deep and thoughtful, or when there is some sort of tidy solution or conclusion. But that hasn’t generally been the case in recent weeks. Thus, very little significant blogging.

I realized this weekend that I have finally hit what I’ve termed the SixthMonthSuck. Sorry. I know it’s a little terse. But it is what it is.

I’ve started at least six paragraphs trying to figure out a way to craft these words to seem a little more vague and a little less needy, but none of them are really honest.  I’ve finally entered into the part of every transition that really just sucks. And it’s rather lonely.

I still love my job. More every week, in fact. I’m comfortable in my position, learning every week how to make better use of a balanced schedule. And I love my church as a whole. It’s fantastic, and I am continually challenged by the things that are traditions here but novelties to me. And I still love this place. Now that it’s finally warming up and the snow melting away for summer months, I find myself excited all over again about the outdoor possibilities that are within reach in the next few months. I cannot wait to trek up the side of Pikes Peak.

But I’ve definitely found the SixthMonthSuck. It’s the phase where I feel totally connected and disconnected all at the same time. When I know everyone and no one. When my schedule looks totally booked but feels wide open.  And it’s just not fun.

But this is my reality. And I find myself over and over again saying the same thing: When He is all I have, He is all I need. At times I feel like I have to pretend that it’s true so I can fake-it-to-make-it. And at other times, when there is no tidy solution or easy fix, I find myself certain that trusting in His faithfulness to carry me through is the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning.

He is my Keeper. And that is enough for me.

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This is my story.

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I have a facial palsy of some sort.

I don’t talk about it much. Partly because it’s weird to look in the mirror at my own face and know that it will never be symmetrical or perfect. And partly because I really don’t know much about it. Don’t even know the medical term for it.

It’s on the right side of my face. Some of the muscles don’t work or didn’t develop correctly. I don’t really know what caused it, but there is truth in the idea of my having a “good side” for photographs. My smile is crooked and one of my eyes doesn’t blink as often as the other. Everything on the left side of my face compensates for it…more blinking, a dimple on my cheek, a snarl in my lip.

Some people don’t notice at all. Others notice immediately and are left to wonder.

I spent the weekend at a 4th and 5th grade retreat, trying to become a familiar face to all our incoming 6th graders. It was way out of my comfort zone to begin with, but I was doing a really good job of holding it together for an age group that just seems so awkward to me. I was pretending to have a blast, and they were humoring me with comments like “You’re the coolest grownup EVER,” and “I’m SO skipping fifth grade so I can come to the middle school stuff. You are the BEST.”

And then I met Hannah.

She’s a pistol, I hear. A little difficult when it comes to following directions or paying attention. Even her parents told me today that she’s a handfull. A rebel in the making.

But she walked straight up to me on Saturday afternoon on the rec field and asked me point blank if I was born with problems. And I lost my ability to hold it all together.

I was caught off guard for a minute, but I kneeled down beside her and asked her to explain what she meant by that.

She said, “You know, in your face? Were you born with problems in your face?”

“Well…yes. Something like that.”

“Me too. It’s really neat that we’re made in God’s image and that we’re fearfully and wonderfully made anyway, huh?”

“Um, yes. Yes, sweet girl, it is.”

“I’m glad that we are the same,  Miss Jenn.”

And then she ran off.

She’s right about that fearfully and wonderfully stuff. And coming from the mouth of a ten year old girl, it might have been one of the most profound and encouraging things that has ever been said to me.

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I have $1.

I walked out of church this past Sunday $1 richer than I went in…

…which isn’t all that big of a deal until you understand that I was just one of approximately 7,000 church members to walk out with a dollar bill in hand.

Seven thousand dollars makes it a big deal.

After one of the best messages I’ve heard on finances (Bowing with My Billfold), Pastor Matt had us pass the offering baskets for a second time in the worship service. The baskets were filled with dollar bills, and we were challenged to take the dollar and consider what Godly stewardship of that single dollar would look like in our lives.

I immediately cringed. From the inside of a church ministry, all I could think about was the fact that $7000 just went flying out the window and into someone’s fast-food-cash-stash. Seriously? That much money – in this economy? That is a serious risk.

I still have my $1 bill folded neatly into the pages of my Bible.

This is fast becoming one of the more memorable message illustrations that I’ve ever participated in. What will I do with my dollar? It’s just one dollar, but what could I do with it if I added a few more to it? What is the rest of our congregation doing with their dollar? Some of my students said they are just going to put it back in the offering baskets next week. One of our middle school students started a website to raise money for our Third Project orphans in Swaziland. He started by donating his $1 and then asked his friends to each donate a dollar of their own…just one. And so far this week, he’s raised about $500 from $1 donations. Someone else I know took their dollar and bought a military wife a cup of coffee this week while her kids were in school (and her husband hard at work in Iraq).

It was kind of crazy to walk out of church richer than I came in last week, but it’s really cool to be a part of a faith community that so strongly believes  in its members that it is willing to take a $7000 risk to demonstrate stewardship and love to the community around us and around the world. And what better way to teach a congregation that the church isn’t after their money than to give some of it back to them?

It was a good word. And now I have $1…and am still thinking about what kind of kingdom investment it should go to.

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